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and so, the other day, I met this person who in the normal course of bar-room conversation said, “I’m anti-vegetarianism. I believe everyone should eat meat.”

[stunned silence, even from the other carnivores present]

someone said, “Why would you be anti-vegetarianism?”

says she: “I grew up on a farm.”

[like that’s an excuse. and of course, further proof of my pet theory, standpoint. but I let her keep on talking.]

he: “so, you think EVERYONE should eat meat, even if they don’t believe in eating meat, or want to eat meat, or like eating meat?”

she: “well… yeah.”

[maybe she’s starting to realize that she’s backed herself into a tight and strange  corner.]

me: “I’m vegetarian.”

her: gulp.

me: “So why should my personal decision not to eat meat, according to my personal moral code be overridden by your opinion? I should really be, like, forced to eat meat against my will?”

her: “well, I’m just tired of vegetarians being all morally superior and forcing their opinions on the rest of us.”

me, twitching and nearly jumping into her mouth: “ummmm, this from the woman who just said she thinks everyone should eat meat? isn’t that a little bit inconsistent? And how does my personal decision not to eat meat have any impact on you whatsoever? I’m not the one sitting around saying that everyone should or shouldn’t do anything.”

[at least not at that particular moment in time, but that’s another discussion.]

me: “so how do you justify slaughtering animals unnecessarily for food when it’s perfectly possible and healthy to not do so?”

she: “well, we already produce all this livestock, and if we don’t kill them then the world will be overridden with animals.”

me: “that’s a pathetic excuse for a reason. if we didn’t over-produce livestock, there wouldn’t be an abundance of animals in the first place. If we reduce the demand, the supply will also reduce. in response”

she: “Well, a lot of people make their living farming animals, so I think that justifies it.”

me: “I don’t think economic reasons are any justification for unnecessary mass slaughtering of millions of animals a year, not to mention raising them under inhumane conditions a lot of the time. I think people should be more aware of where their food comes from in general, and maybe then they wouldn’t be so wasteful of agricultural and environmental resources.”

she: “well in Europe, they’re way ahead of us in terms of tagging their meat and animal products so you can find out exactly where it came from and what kind of conditions they have on their farm.”

me: “good for europe. It still means millions of animals being killed unnecessarily. I don’t believe in causing any living thing unnecessary harm or suffering when it’s possible to live in a more harm-free manner.”

she: “I do.”

me: “well why would you want to deny other people the opportunity to live more humanely and make less impact on the planet and on other living beings? Just because you have a moral code that allows for unnecessary suffering so you can line your pocketbook and your stomach doesn’t mean everyone should have to live by that code.”

[okay, now the moral superiority is starting to come through just a little bit. although all was said with relative calm.]

she: no answer.

me: nothing more to say to such an obvious idiot. 🙂

I turn away, wondering if I can really endure this person for another 3 years.

so, why is it that people are so uncomfortable with vegetarians? why is my mother always trying to get me to eat meat? why are the servers in restaurants always trying to get me to add meat to my order? why do people feel so threatened by my personal moral code? I mean, at this point I really can’t think of a justification for eating meat, raising livestock for slaughter, etc. along with many many other things like oh say having affairs with married people and having children as accessories and mistreating people who ring through your groceries and spending $3000 on a handbag. but, ya know, that’s just me. do I hold dear the hope that more people will view the world the same way that I do, and that maybe jsut maybe I could find one or two or ten more to spend my life hanging out with, and by a slim chance of a hope that our government might actually be down with some of my ideas about how the world should be managed? absolutely. Just like all those conservative right wing christian fundy nutbars wish everyone would wait for jesus and stop having gay sex and killing babies for fun and start to bomb the brownies with them.

I’ll continue to hold out hope. we’ll see what happens. give peace a chance!

fascist pigs.

🙂

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For over a week now, I’ve been reading responses to this post, both on my blog and on other blogs and online forums. I wrote that post to try to gain a better understanding of why some people want biological children so badly that they would put themselves through the expense (financial, physical, and emotional) of fertility treatments. As a child-free woman who wishes to remain that way, who doesn’t really care for children so much anyway, and who is very critical of anything society deems ‘normal’ or ‘natural,’ my own perspective was preventing me from really understanding, and in fact had made me quite cold-hearted about. I realize and acknowledge that how I felt about the whole subject was entirely skewed and insensitive, and furthermore that it was entirely hypocritical considering that I am very sensitive and open-minded most of the time and am a feminist, and I wanted to open a dialogue that might help me better understand and become more sensitive and sympathetic. (or is it empathetic? I can never remember the difference between those words…)

I have gotten a flood of responses to that post, many from people who are or have experienced infertility. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has commented constructively, either here or elsewhere. Some people have completely misinterpreted the point of the post, or my intentions. Some have just been hurt and angry. To both, I can only say that I’m sorry you have been hurt or offended. My intentions were exactly as I stated them, and in no way was I trying to defend the views I expressed in the post. Better, isn’t it, to try to understand than to continue to hold views that are so callous and insensitive? I’m certainly not perfect, and I want to become better.

A couple of commenters suggested I write a post about how the comments I’ve received has helped to change my mind on some of my previously held opinions. Great idea. Here’s what I’ve learned:

I should begin by saying that I still don’t understand why it is that some people want to have biological children, or really, why they want to have children at all. I may never understand this, and I think that’s okay. It isn’t a rational thing we’re talking about, it’s an emotional one, so trying to find a rational explanation for it is kind of beside the point. Emotional reasons for anything should absolutely not be given less credence than rational ones. It’s simply, I think, a cognitive divide. So it turns out that I was making the mistake of valuing rationality over emotionality. I don’t think it’s necessary to understand why people want to have children to respect that they do. Many people don’t understand why I don’t want children, so it’s really no different.

Several people have pointed out to me that while infertility treatments are physically invasive, adoption procedures are also invasive. When you want to adopt, your life must be made completely transparent so that you will be approved by authorities to be suitable to parent. So for many couples and families, adoption is not an option, because the authorities (whoever they may be) would not approve them for adoption. And thus, having a biological child is the only way to go.

Oh, and for the record, as I clarified very early on in the comments, I don’t believe (and never did) that ONLY infertile couples should consider adoption. I think adoption should be considered by everyone who wants to have a family.

Never mind the cost of adoption. Fertility treatments are often less expensive than adoption. And of course, adoption is a complex and dynamic thing, and some people just don’t feel like they would be able to do it in a way that is best for the child, or for themselves and their family.

The question of whether fertility treatments should be covered by health plans was the one that got me thinking about this in the first place. I have completely changed my mind on this point; I now absolutely believe that they should be paid for. (perhaps there should be a limit as to how many rounds of treatment should be covered? like, say 6?) I’ve learned that when couples are paying out of pocket for fertility treatments, they take greater risks to maximize their chances of success, and those risks can result in health problems for both pregnant women, mothers, fetuses, and infants. It’s also more costly to deal with these problems than to pay for fertility treatments. Also, the cost of fertility treatments, while less expensive than adoption, makes it impossible for some couples who do not have the financial means to pay for it themselves, making fertility treatment a class issue.

And, as many people have pointed out, health insurance (whether public or private) pays for lots of things that are not necessary for survival. Why not fertility treatments? Who cares if it is necessary for survival – infertility is a medical condition that deserves to have treatment funded. While I don’t think there is a “right to have children,” I think we do have a right to medical treatment for medical conditions. I cannot at all explain why I didn’t think so before.

AND, since infertility is a very emotionally difficult condition that can affect mental health, it makes sense to treat it as completely as possible AS WELL AS providing psychological therapy to infertile couples to help them deal emotionally with the ups and downs of their efforts to have a family.

AND, I’ve also come to believe very much that adoption should also be funded more fully. If people want to have a family, they should be able to do so in whatever way they feel is best, and if adoption is too expensive, it only means that more children will go without solid and stable and loving homes. So, funding for fertility treatments: yes. Funding for adoption: yes.

Finally, I’ve learned more about male infertility. While I believe women’s bodies are over-medicalized and many specialists are too quick to place the burden of treatment on women’s bodies when their bodies are not the (only) source of the fertility difficulties, now I know that male infertility treatments can be just as invasive and difficult as those for women, and I completely take back my comment about watching porn and jerking off into a cup. Especial thanks to (In)Fertile Frank!

Not an excuse, but maybe a reason: I think my initial insensitivity toward infertility was a kind of backlash against the attitude I encounter so frequently that I am somehow abnormal, heartless, cold, unfeeling, selfish, etc. for not wanting or even really liking children. I’m so sick of hearing it. Not wanting children doesn’t make me a bad person, or uncaring, or whatever. It just means I know myself well enough to know that I would not be particularly happy or fulfilled as a parent. We all know people who had lousy parents. I would never want to be one of them.

So, in conclusion, while I still don’t understand why people want to have children (and maybe I never will), it’s not necessary to understand in order to respect those choices and how people go about making them. Pretty simple, really.

Thank you, again, to all those who took the time to tell me their stories, their thoughts, their opinions, their hopes, and for doing so in a way that actually softened my heart. I am extremely grateful. Best wishes to you all, and your families, however you choose to have them.

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I am remiss to do this, but the infamous PUA thread is not loading properly anymore due to the abundance of comments. I am hereby closing comments on that thread, and opening this one to continue the discussion.

On that note, I received an email from a reader named Gary. Here’s part of what he had to say:

I read your stuff about PUA’s and how they are teaching men such horrible things […]   I am so glad and appreciative for what you wrote, I was beginning to think I was being dumb for not following these guys teachings, but I am glad I didn’t.  See how they play upon a man’s fears and desires? […] I treat women with respect and as human beings. I value their opinions, their thoughts,etc. The best part is when you meet someone and treat her well and she respects that and expects that ie-doesn’t take yuo for granted. Its not sex focused like these asshats preach. So the sexual tension builds naturally between both  people over time. It seems like it is so bad, that women are confused a bit when a guy like me approaches them to chat. It’s like I get murdered by assumptions. […] I only want one woman, but getting women here to see that is hard. I am not the typical nice guy who is scared to approach,etc. I am confident and nice and genuine, but my god, I have such a hard time. I am not bitter toward women, I am bitter toward these PUA’s who are ruining it for us and for all of you. [emphasis, of course, added; edited for privacy’s sake.]

Gary, thank you for writing.

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so, apparently, the Pope has decided that limbo is just a bunch of crazy talk. He’s revising the catholic church’s position on limbo – and abortion is partly to blame. The thought of all those little souls not going to heaven to be with Jesus was just too much for old Benedict. Original sin be damned! Those innocent little fetuses are apparently now going straight to heaven – but of course we all know where their super-slutty moms are going, don’t we?

Anyway, I laughed out loud when I read about this. Seriously, I was basically in a fit of the kind of laughter where you can’t talk or breathe and don’t make any sounds but the occasional snortle and wheeze. I’m not at all even a little bit catholic, and never was. In fact, I’m what you’d call a non-believer – agnostic with atheistic leanings. But I have to admit, the idea of limbo always stuck in my craw. Just struck me as completely ridiculous, and an obvious (to me) piece of evidence for the made-up nature of organized religion. Now, I don’t believe in heaven or hell either, but limbo – now that just seemed really made up to me.

And it turns out, I was right! Now even the freakin’ POPE is saying that limbo isn’t really all that important!

So, next question: since every human is supposedly born in a state of original sin, and limbo was supposed to be a way for babies who hadn’t been baptized (and thus cleared from the stain of original sin) to not go to hell, and now there’s no limbo (if that’s indeed what we can take from the Pope’s decree), then doesn’t that mean that original sin is kind of a load of bull as well? I’m gonna go with YES.

 

“If there’s no limbo and we’re not going to revert to St. Augustine’s teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we’re left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace,” said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

So, just wanted to say three cheers for recognizing the idiocy of limbo! What do y’all think?

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So I just saw this movie, Hard Candy. I got it because it stars a young actress from my hometown, Ellen Page. She’s been working a lot lately, and word on the street is that she’s pretty amazing, so I thought I’d better get in the know. And folks ain’t lyin’. She is awesome.

******************As usual, I give fair warning about plot spoilers. If you like surprises, stop reading now, but by all means, go rent the movie and come back and tell me what you think! Seriously, it’s worth seeing, and I know it wouldn’t have been as good if I had known all the plot twists and what have you beforehand. So stop reading if you haven’t seen it, rent it, and come back later.******************

So the movie’s basically about pedophilia, although not really in the way most would think. And it brought up a lot of issues for me. It’s been a somewhat controversial movie, aparently, because it turns the tables on a typical pedophilic situation. In it, the character played by Ellen Page, a 14 year old girl, basically lures in a pedophile (played quite well by Patrick Wilson, who I really think is quite a talented guy), takes him hostage, and tortures him.

So, issues. Well, there’s pedophilia itself. Technically, this guy is a hebophile, not a pedophile. Hebophiles are attracted to older children, young teenagers. It’s kind of under the general umbrella of pedophilia, so I’ll stick to that. On another thread, some of us have been talking about pedophiles, and child pornography. I’m not real sure how accurate this is, but I had a friend who worked at a sex offenders clinic, and the way she described pedophilia is that it’s basically a sexual preference, like heterosexuality. Pedophiles are sexually oriented toward children, like straight folks are oriented toward members of the opposite sex. The problem of course being that children cannot give consent to sexual contact, and so any sexual desire a pedophile acts on with a child is non-consensual rape. But it hit home with me how utterly untreatable pedophilia could be if this were true – and it certainly seems to be the current consensus that pedophilia is untreatable. It would be like telling a straight person to work really hard to just stop being attracted to the opposite sex, and become oriented to people of the same sex instead.

Patrick Wilson does such a good job of his role. He is handsome, charming, smooth, non-threatening. He does all he can to butter up Ellen Page’s character. I can see how someone like that would be very convincing, very flattering to a young insecure girl. He’s not at all a one-eyed scary monster. He looks like anybody else, successful, smart, charming. Normal on the outside. This is what’s so creepy and scary about pedophilia – pedophiles are everywhere. They look just like everyone else. But they’re not. They’re deviant sexual predators who will do and say anything to justify themselves and insinuate themselves into the lives of children in their communities, families, and beyond.

Some of the dialogue between the characters was really great. The pedophile has all the right lines, all the careful things to say to put attention away from the fact that he seeks out young girls to manipulate and exploit. Ellen Page’s character said something along the lines of, “just because a girl imitates a woman doesn’t mean she is mature enough to do what a woman does.” Which brings me to issue #2 – the hypersexualization of girl children in our society.

This doesn’t happen so much to boy children here, but it certainly does to girl children. Have you been into a girl’s clothing store recently? The kids clothing is getting more and more adult, more and more sexualized and provocative. I’m no prude, but I definitely see a problem with dressing little girls up like adult women might dress to go clubbing. Whose brilliant idea was this trend? Some pedophile, I bet. I read an article about this recently in MacLean’s magazine. Dressing our daughers like sluts, or something like that, was the title. And it’s true – we are. Why? Why on earth are parents allowing their daughters to dress in revealing, provocative clothing? God, it’s so weird. Don’t they know about the pedophiles? It’s on every TV news program all the time, about the child porn and the kids getting attacked. Like, wake the fuck up.

Issue #3: vigilantism. The girl spends several weeks talking to the guy online, meets up with him, lures him in, and takes the pedophile hostage, and tortures him emotionally and physically. She even makes to castrate him. Yup. The director spent a very long time on this particular part of the story – the lead up to the castration scene, the whole ordeal itself, what she does with the testicles once she cuts them out, his desperate pleas for her to spare him this act. Then we find out that she didn’t really do it after all, just made him think she had. What a relief, I’m sure many people watching would say to themselves! Thank god she didn’t cut off his balls – that would be going Too Far. This scene, it seems, is mainly what the controversy is about in regards to this movie. In the commentary I watched after the film, even the producer and director made comments that once filming began and the actors started the scene, they felt a lot of sympathy for the guy.

Issue #4: interesting how attached society is to men’s balls. And penises, of course – they’re everywhere you look, the ever-present phallus, incorporated into designs all over the place. This cultural attachment, surprisingly, extends to women a good deal of the time. So much so that many women report after attending self-defense classes that they found it really difficult to get past the old “never hit a guy in the balls” deal – even when the whole idea is to fend off a guy who’s about to rape them with those balls! Which is mind-boggling to me.

And issue #5 – my own reactions tot he movie. I was totally rooting for the girl, throughout the entire movie. I wanted her to get away with it all. I don’t advocate violence, or vigilantism, at all, but I had no sympathy for the pedophile whatsoever. Even while he was squirming and crying and begging for his balls to be spared, I couldn’t have cared less about him and his balls. My only worry with the movie was, “how will she ever get away with all this?”

Interesting movie, to say the least.  I highly recommend it.

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I received this in my email inbox yesterday. I thought I’d share it with you all.

*Note: I have no idea where this came from, there was no source cited at the end of the email. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be happy to give credit where credit is due.*

Excerpts from an on going debate in Australia .

Muslims who want to live under Islamic Sharia law were told on Wednesday to get out of Australia, as the government targeted radicals in a bid to head off potential terror attacks.

A day after a group of mainstream Muslim leaders pledged loyalty to
Australia and her Queen at a special meeting with Prime Minister John
Howard, he and his Ministers made it clear that extremists would face a
crackdown. Treasurer Peter Costello, seen as heir apparent to Howard, hinted that some radical clerics could be asked to leave the country if they did not accept that Australia was a secular state, and its laws were made by parliament. “If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you”, he said on National Television.

“I’d be saying to clerics who are teaching that there are two laws governing people in Australia; the Australian law and the Islamic law, that is false. If you can’t agree with parliamentary law, independent courts, democracy, and would prefer Sharia law and have the opportunity to go to another country, which practices it, perhaps, then, that’s a better option”, Costello said.

Asked whether he meant radical clerics would be forced to leave, he said
those with dual citizenship could possibly be asked to move to the other
country. Education Minister Brendan Nelson later told reporters that
Muslims who did not want to accept local values should “clear off. Basically people who don’t want to be Australians, and who don’t want, to  live by Australian values and understand them, well then, they can basically clear off”, he said.

Separately, Howard angered some Australian Muslims on Wednesday by saying he supported spy agencies monitoring the nation’s mosques.

Quote: “IMMIGRANTS, NOT AUSTRALIANS, MUST ADAPT. Take It Or Leave It. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Bali, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Australians.”

“However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the ‘politically correct’ crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others. I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Australia.” “However, there are a few things that those who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here, need to understand.” “This idea of Australia being a multi-cultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. And as Australians, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle.”

“This culture has been developed over two centuries of struggles, trials and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom”

“We speak mainly ENGLISH, not Spanish, Lebanese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language. Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society… Learn the language!”

“Most Australians believe in God. This is not some Christian, right wing,
political push, but a fact, because Christian men and women, on Christian
principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is
certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God
offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.”

“We will accept your beliefs, and will not question why. All we ask is that
you accept ours, and live in harmony and peaceful enjoyment with us.”

“If the Southern Cross offends you, or you don’t like “A Fair Go”, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don’t care how you did things where you came from. By all means, keep your culture, but do not force it on others.

“This is OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAND, and OUR LIFESTYLE, and we will allow you every opportunity to enjoy all this. But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about Our Flag, Our Pledge, Our Christian beliefs, or Our Way of Life, I highly encourage you take advantage of one other great Australian freedom, ‘THE RIGHT TO LEAVE’.”

“If you aren’t happy here then LEAVE. We didn’t force you to come here. You asked to be here. So accept the country YOU accepted.”

Maybe if we circulate this amongst ourselves, Canadian citizens will find
the backbone to start speaking and voicing the same truths!

If you agree please SEND THIS TO EVERYBODY YOU KNOW!

Well, obviously I don’t agree, but I think it’s jsut as important to circulate this to point out how frightening and hypocritical this is.

So, people who don’t speak the language, believe in the christian god, and don’t hold the same cultural values aren’t welcome in Australia. So says the government. My friend who lives in AU told me a while ago that Australia is not accepting refugees – if someone comes to Australia and claims they are a refugee, they are imprisoned. I can just imagine she is horrified with this stuff.

I don’t know, maybe someone should remind these asshats that Australia is a country founded on the principles of colonization and genocide. The great ‘Australian way of life’ has evolved over a couple centuries of oppressing aboriginal people – just like the great Canadian and american ways of life have done to its indiginous people, its black people, its immmigrants.

Don’t you just LOVE the part about “don’t force your culture on others”? I mean, that is just amazing, considering the concentration camps set up for aboriginal children in Australia to ‘educate’ them in the early part of the last century – and here in Canada the concentration camps called ‘residential schools’  that  decimated the indigenous culture and languages and abused so many native children here. Yeah, that’s nothing like what immigrants are doing right now all over the world – trying to carve out a piece of a life in a country they thought would give them more opportunities, while still trying to maintain some of what they are familiar with from their home country and the way they were brought up. It’s a wonder anyone wants to immigrate to countries with such brutal histories toward people of colour.

Obviously, the Australian government (and Canadian, and american) is not ready to face its roots, face that they were not the first people here, face that they have stolen their land and imposed their white values on people who have lived happily for generations in Australia (and Canada and america) before they ever got there. And now they have the nerve to refuse entry to others? To refuse to allow immigrants to practice their way of life, that is so ‘radically different’ from the Australian way of life – which is not the original way of life on that land? So hypocritical! And so very racist.

This is disgusting. How can we voice our objections to this bullshit? Shame on Australia.

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well, I thought I had all the rants out of my system, and then on my drive home I was visually assaulted with huge posters of aborted fetuses lined along Robie Street. I was so enraged! There is an anti-abortion group visiting and protesting in Halifax right now. I don’t know their name, but they use graphic posters of photographs of aborted fetuses to spread their message, and they stand along the side of the road where you can’t avoid them when you drive by.

This type of moral bullying just doesn’t do anything for me. If I wanted to know what aborted fetuses looked like, I would go online and search out photos. I don’t want to know. Unfortunately for me, now I do. I had no choice in the matter, because these assholes wanted to exercise their right to freedom of expression. There was no warning so I could find an alternative route. Just here you go, look at these aborted fetuses. I was so angry I sped by as quickly as I could while giving them all the finger and yelling at them to go fuck themselves. Even the children – yeah, the children.

I resent the implications anti-abortion groups make about women who undergo abortion – that they are women who are immoral, sexually promiscuous, stupid for not knowing how to use birth control properly, selfish, cruel, irresponsible, immature, lazy, taking the easy way out. There is no acknowledgement that having an abortion is a difficult decision to make, that it is very emotional, and that some women are never able to forgive themselves for their decision, even if they feel it is the best one they can make under the circumstances. Women who undergo abortions choose them because in the context of their lives, having a baby is not an option, and it takes heartfelt consideration and careful reflection. Sometimes, having a child is a selfish act, and not having one is the best decision for everyone. It takes two to conceive a child, yet all the responsibility and moral condemnation is placed on the woman, although in many cases the man is also a participant in the decision. Having an abortion can be a traumatic experience that leaves deep emotional scars.

Which is why I was so angry at this demonstration. I feel horrible for the women passing by that protest who have had abortions.  After making a difficult decision to abort a fetus, having that thrown back in their faces by self-righteous anti-abortion activists without the opportunity to avoid those graphic photos must be difficult for some women. Freedom of expression is one thing. Moral bullying that can’t be avoided is another.

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