A Message from the Patriarchy: Regarding Miss Tuesday Cain of Texas

Miss Tuesday Cain,

Your poster’s message, “Jesus isn’t a dick so keep him out of my vagina,” hurls an arguably clever but definitely vulgar curse toward your opponents. It doesn’t present an argument so much as an accusation: legal restrictions upon abortion procedures and abortion providers, and legal prohibitions predicated upon the gestational development of a fetus are based upon biased religious beliefs without reasonable basis in what we know about biology. In the case of a person opposed to all abortions whatsoever, regardless of circumstance, your accusation has merit, but this accusation does not apply to all who would support such legislation as passed into law in Texas, or similar legislation in states such as my own, Arkansas. The Patriarchy is an atheist supporter of such laws; in its particular case, the accusation is entirely without merit.

You wrote that you and a friend devised your accusation to “get people’s attention to protest the scary restriction that are happening in my state trying to take away a woman’s right to safe and accessible abortions.” You claim the sign worked. And now you complain the sign garnered you slurs you didn’t earn. We agree. You clearly explain that the slurs labeling you a whore were not received until you father defended the sign. Lest we forget, here’s some of what he said.

“After having been at the Capitol for four days, reading all of the anti-choice posters and seeing their pictures, my daughter made a sign which she and her friend held up during the protest… When I saw that the photo had been posted online, I knew there would be a firestorm. We have been reading comments online and have been flabbergasted at just how extreme people can be towards a young girl they have never met. I immediately posted my name and support online because I believe that people should stand up to bullies. The perception of anonymity that the internet seems to breed is often filled with hate and one-sided monologue… I was concerned about my family’s safety, and still am, but I felt it was more important to confront the hostility with measured debate.”

Your father, Mr. Billy Cain, by his own admission, made a decision to fuel a firestorm that, by your own admission, has put you, a minor, in the midst of a wedge-issue political debate. While we will not fault your father for exercising his freedom to debate with other citizens within his state about its governance and laws, he should have anticipated that your participation would draw exactly the slurs you received and will continue to receive until your public participation in protests at Texas’ capitol is forgotten. Any claim he makes for calm, while justified regarding the content of public discourse, is nonetheless willfully naïve.

We do not believe you when you write, “It’s hard for me to understand why adults would be calling me [whore].” People, even grown-up adult people, may be mean, vicious, creatures. We believe you know this. We do not believe a person who can devise and carry a sign saying, “Jesus isn’t a dick so keep him out of my vagina,” is incapable of comprehending the motivations behind vulgar language. We are confident you utilize and condemn such language when it suits you.

You assert “that abortion should be safe, legal, and accessible for women.” It is. You claim to “believe women should be in control of their bodies and should not ever have to put their lives at risk.” Women are in control of their bodies. Women are not required to put their lives at risk. We suspect you don’t believe us, so we’ll provide you evidence. Here’s what the law you protested does, in plain language.

1. It requires that the physician performing an abortion have admitting privileges at a hospital with obstetrical or gynecological health case services not more than 30 miles from the place where the abortion is performed or induced.

2. It requires that the physician performing an abortion provide 24-hour access to the woman’s medical records by phone, personally or by proxy, and the name and telephone number of a hospital that can treat complications arising from the abortion procedure.

3. It makes a failure to do either item 1 or 2 a misdemeanor that may be fined up to $4,000.

4. It requires that some determination of fetal age be made prior to an abortion. Reliance on the opinion of another physician is permitted.

5. It requires that for any fetus more than 20 weeks old, the pregnancy must be terminated by a method that provides the greatest possibility that the fetus will survive.

6. When a physician determines the life or health of a pregnant woman is in jeopardy, items 4 and 5 may be ignored.

7. When a fetus has a severe abnormality, items 4 and 5 may be ignored.

8. The law protects the privacy of a woman whose pregnancy is aborted, with exceptions only when “disclosure is essential to the administration of justice and there is no reasonable alternative to disclosure.”

9. Defines abortion so that several cases of non-viable pregnancies and non-pregnancy medical conditions may not be adjudicated such that women will be denied abortion of a pregnancy as a matter of law.

10. Defines abortion-inducing-drug so that drugs that are known to cause abortions may be prescribed and dispensed by doctors to treat other conditions.

11. Defines unborn child so that it’s meaning includes a fetus from conception through birth. Lest one be confused, this may reasonably extend the definition of “unborn child” both earlier and later than previously considered.

12. Defines other pertinent terms, such as physician.

13. Assigns several enforcement responsibilities and powers to the Texas Medical Board so that physicians much of the oversight of this law is managed by physicians.

14. Requires that facilities in which abortions be performed meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, that is, facilities where surgery is performed and the patient can get up and move about shortly or immediately after the surgical procedure.

15. Provides for severability of portions of the law that are determined to be unconstitutional without striking the entire law.

Miss Cain, we do not comprehend how these rules usurp a woman’s control over her body. This law does not further restrict her choice to have an abortion until 20 weeks after conception of a fetus. She is permitted to copulate and conceive without restriction: she may enjoy a dick in her vagina if she chooses. She may decline a dick in her vagina. She may choose another method of conception, or decline to conceive a child. Were she raped, this law provides more than four months to assess the reproductive outcome of the rape and choose to abort a fetus she has not chosen to conceive.

Women’s health is explicitly protected by this act. Abortion providers must be more qualified, better situated geographically to capable hospitals, and better equipped than previously mandated. The law adds additional exceptions, previously absent, to safeguard a woman’s health and privacy if she chooses an abortion. The law does not require a woman to carry a non-viable fetus to term, carry a dead baby, or endure a pregnancy supporting a severely abnormal fetus. Further, the law requires physicians to determine the time since conception before performing an abortion. This is a reasonable measure meant to evaluate the present condition of the pregnancy and ensure an appropriate and safe procedure.

Pregnancy abortion in Texas is still legal, even 20 weeks after conception. Yes, you read that correctly, aborting a pregnancy is still legal 20 weeks after conception. The law requires that abortion of a pregnancy more than 20 weeks along must provide “the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive.” The law further requires that an abortion must have a medical reason: in the language of the law, “if there exists a condition that, in the physician ’s reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the woman that, to avert the woman ’s death or a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” an abortion is necessary. A physician may even disregard the life of a fetus if that physician determines that giving the fetus its best opportunity isn’t medically advisable for the mother.

The intent of the legislation just passed in Texas is clear. After 20 weeks, which is about half-way through the usual term of a pregnancy, the unborn child will be provided an opportunity at life, so long as that opportunity does not endanger the mother. Abortion of a pregnancy 20 weeks along for convenience is prohibited; a medical justification is required.

Finally, pro-choice advocates reasonably argue that a fetus cannot reliably be expected to survive merely 20 weeks after conception. This is correct. This, however, is not the thrust of your dispute and protest action against the Texas legislature, else you would have concentrated your effort upon that particular of the law. Were we to argue this point directly, one might propose 24 weeks since conception, or another reasonably established fetal age, rather than 20 weeks, for the prohibition against abortions for convenience. Timing at 24 weeks would provide a child roughly 50-50 odds. Instead, you have argued that abortion of a pregnancy without regard to the viability of a child or the justification for the abortion is the right of every woman.

This advocacy, we think, is why the ignorant call you “whore.” You are right. No person may justifiably call you “whore.”

The appropriate term is “liar.”

4 responses to “A Message from the Patriarchy: Regarding Miss Tuesday Cain of Texas

  1. While you state the laws and the sides clear enough to quell your quiet disdain for the mino’s protest. I think you carried on the argument for the law. Her protest was keeping laws out of her body – which you very clearly listed. There are so many loopholes for hospitals and doctors to create a farce that they are following laws but in reality could be forcing their own beliefs on women who don’t want what they want. Your reiteration of the law’s squelching of choice by defining terms is like the underhanded questions for “colored people” in the south when they were supposed to have the right and choice to vote. Basically, they are “lawful” but designed to deny. And – seriously, 20 weeks?! You are ok with a 20 week old fetus – and I use that term NOT for argument the way opponents on these 2 sides use baby vs fetus – but fetus because to put a baby at that undeveloped stage behind the 8 ball in an icu neonatal unit for months on end with who knows what kind of care seems like hideous torture. Whichever side we’re on in this debate, I can’t believe either of us would want that poor soul to go through such existence. Shouldn’t the argument and education start before pregnancy to the male and female. Please use your intelligence and make A Message From the Patriarchy to the young men about responsibility of children so we can join and win on both sides here. I think you’re smart enough to give one hell of a speech to the young partners of these women you want laws for. I do appreciate you Mr Patriarchy. Jayne

  2. This article is full of half-truths. There is not mention that the new restrictions placed on clinic that perform abortions will force all but 5 to close or find money for costly renovations. These clinics also provide prenatal care and contraception to women. Forced closing if these clinics restricts women’s access to safe abortions.
    Billy clearly stated, and if you’ve read any of the discussions online you’d know, that he responded to the attacks on Tuesday and in to way started any of it. He is amazing to be able to respond in a civil tone while responding to the vile attacks.
    Why shouldn’t Tuesday be surprised by the “adults not behaving like adults”? I’m much older than 14, and I am shocked by the juvenile and hateful things people have posted.

    • Cara,

      Thank you for your comment. I will attempt to address the half-truth’s you identified. Please accept that I have 30 minutes in which to respond, and so I may need to add more later; I cannot research your factual claims.

      1. I am aware that some medical clinics offering pregnancy abortion may close as a result of the legislation Miss Cain protested. This causes me concern, in part because women will be denied access to pregnancy abortion services since I am empathetic to that plight, and also because that indicates that so few of the clinics offering pregnancy abortion services were equipped to perform these procedures with the care that would be expected of most other surgical facilities. Please review Texas law regarding what is required for an ambulatory surgery center, and explain to me which of these requirements is not prudent for a clinic offering abortion services. I would be happy to discuss any of these with you.

      2. I am aware that many of the clinics offering pregnancy abortion also offer other medical services. Please explain to me why these clinics cannot continue to operate without providing pregnancy abortion. Is there insufficient revenue without offering pregnancy abortion?

      3. Please forgive me for not investigating every iota of published correspondence between Mr. Cain and his opponents; my remarks were focused on Miss Cain’s published essay. I do not object to his response to any person who chooses to converse or correspond with him. I do object to the claim that such correspondence should be expected to be civil. Even your opening remark, that my essay “is full of half-truths,” pushes the boundaries of civil discourse. While we might all hope for genteel discussion of only the issues involved, the debate about pregnancy abortion has been heated and protracted, and neither side is above reproach. While I agree that we should treat such behavior as reprehensible and indefensible, it is, nonetheless, within what one might expect given that the political debate regarding this issue has included vandalism, assault, and murder. Upon entering the fray, one ought refer to the history and prepare for such responses, even if those responses are reprehensible.

      4. Broadly speaking, my critique of Miss Cain focuses on what I perceive to be hypocrisy: one cannot hold up a sign upon which is written, “Jesus isn’t a dick so keep him out of my vagina,” and claim a right to civil discourse. I suppose I might have written that one sentence, but I felt an obligation to show, by example, what constitutes civil discourse. I encourage you to be similarly circumspect.

  3. Jayne,

    Thank you for your comment. As always, you keep me thinking. I will attempt to address your concerns.

    1. As long as a doctor is involved, there will always be a potential for that doctor to manipulate a situation to match his personal preference. Even outright enslavement of medical professionals does not overcome this barrier. I am inclined to trust that most medical professionals act in the interest of patients, and that those that do not will eventually be discovered and the damage they’ve done compensated.
    2. Aside from a self-initiated abortion, women generally seek the assistance of physicians to abort a pregnancy. Physicians are licensed professionals within the United States. At the very least, the practice of medicine, like the practice of my profession, is generally overseen by a professional board tasked with oversight of the profession and under the authority of the legislature. It is not possible for a woman seeking the assistance of a licensed physician to avoid the oversight of the legislature. Although the legislature is not obligated to examine the details of how a professional board governs a profession, neither is it prohibited or ill-advised. Such legislative oversight is often established to restrict the vices a profession may develop as a result of its exclusive license to provide a service.
    3. I addressed the issue of viability directly with the final full paragraph of my essay. I agree with you that requiring pregnancies be aborted by a method providing the best chance for survival of a fetus prior to 22 weeks is futile, and prior to 24 weeks is probably not worth the effort. Somewhere at or after 24 weeks seems much more reasonable to my mind. That, however, was not the subject of my essay, nor does it reflect my opinion regarding abortion, generally. My essay addressed the disingenuous opinion and advocacy of Tuesday Cain and her father, Billy. A reasonable approach would have included strong and hard advocacy behind a law with a 24 week limit, or some other time frame. This was not Miss Cain’s position.

    [Incidentally, I gave stated my position regarding abortion, specifically addressing a political platform published by Governor Rick Perry, a long time ago. Here’s the link: https://tteclod.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/texas-governor-rick-perry-and-the-us-constitution/ The pertinent text is follows.

    “The (unborn, potential) child (fetus, offspring) has a right to life, but such life is dependent solely on the mother, and as such, is secondary to her. At a fundamental biological level, infants cannot be born without gestation at the discretion of the mother, followed quite literally by it’s mother’s milk, concurrently and thereafter with education and support. Parents have a vested interest in their children, and only voluntary surrender or abandonment of that interest should have any bearing at law. The question at law shouldn’t be if abortion is or is not legal; the question should be when infanticide (the killing of dependent offspring) becomes filicide (the killing of offspring). Feticide (the killing of a fetus), while not ideal, shouldn’t be illegal in the sense that killing a purely legal entity (such as a business), isn’t illegal. both a fetus and a business exist for the purported benefit of their creator. Only an individual’s belief in a creator-god that is responsible for the conception of children could over-ride such legal logic – and such belief is a matter of faith in absence of evidence, which while protected by law, is nonetheless [inadmissible] as factual evidence.”

    In other words, pick a point when a child is a child. Texas did that. Opponents of that choice declined to debate.]

    4. As with the 20 week prohibition, I confined my argument regarding pre-pregnancy discussions between men and women to Miss Cain’s published advocacy. Again, I’ve published my opinions previously, but I’ll restate them for clarity.

    When a man and woman copulate, there exists a social contract. Old-fashioned guys like me presume that if a woman becomes pregnant, he’s on the hook for provisioning a child. In this mixed-up world in which we live now, men like me also expect that the woman we’ve “knocked-up” can reasonably decline to bear that child and may abort the pregnancy. More “modern” men may assume other obligations – or lack of obligations – but that’s my expectation, and the one I hope my children adopt and contract.

    That ideal, however, is one-sided. Let’s say a man pursues a woman, investing time and resources to obtain her approval. They have sex, presumably for the purpose of conceiving a child (we’ll address accidents later). Is the woman obligated to carry the child to term? Let’s say she doesn’t; what man, reasonably expecting a woman to carry that child to term, would trust a woman with further effort after she terminates a pregnancy for convenience? If a woman is not obligated to disclose the pregnancy or the termination, how might he confirm his success with that woman? Toss surreptitious birth control into the mix, and all the trust is gone. To my thinking, these issues cannot be adequately addressed within present legal frameworks, and are increasingly a sore point between men and women that is impacting various demographic factors such as marriage and divorce rates.

    Let’s say an accident happens, and a child is conceived. Did the man intend for a child to be conceived? Did the woman? Are both delighted by an unplanned pregnancy, or terrified? No matter, under current legal frameworks, a woman needn’t disclose her pregnancy and needn’t seek concurrence from a child’s father before aborting the pregnancy.

    About the only place we’ve got this right is forcible rape of a woman. Her reproductive ability is of intrinsic value to her, and that self-determination has been wrested from her control. Abortion is permitted. One out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

    5. Finally, I’d like to address a supposition implied when you wrote, “Please use your intelligence and make A Message From the Patriarchy to the young men about responsibility of children so we can join and win on both sides here.”

    For what are you asking? I think I’ve been very consistent in my advocacy for male responsibility for children. I’m writing these essays as messages from the “Patriarchy.” How much more forthright and transparent can I possibly be?

    So, here’s the deal-breaker. Men want companionship. Yeah, I know that’s hard to believe, but we actually seek companions. Female companions who agree to an exclusive sexual and reproductive partnership appeal to a surprising majority of men. Go figure. Unfortunately, this arrangement doesn’t work for many women these days, and many men, such as Billy Cain, muddy the waters with advocacy for things, like second semester abortion, that are purpose-built for compromising those relationships. He, among others, teaches his daughter that she has a right to terminate a second-semester pregnancy for convenience, and soon enough young men come to the reasonable conclusion that women are not obligated to carry children – their children – to term after a successful conception.

    So, what’s the Patriarchy to do? Well, we write laws requiring women to carry a child to term after the pregnancy reaches the second semester, barring some medical necessity endangering the woman. How does the Matriarchy respond? It claims an unfettered right to pregnancy abortion for convenience, coupled with an unfettered right to child custody and male provisioning of children.

    Jayne, I think I’ve bent over FORWARDS plenty on this issue. I’ve permitted every conceivable excuse a woman might make for why she isn’t obligated to complete a pregnancy, and in return I’ve received the same argument that didn’t sway the Texas legislature: “Men should be responsible and stop persecuting women.” You aren’t persecuted. You’re being held to an adult standard of responsibility for your actions and decisions. The Texas legislature anticipated every cogent argument and addressed it within the legislation. I’ve even enumerated those provisions, just in case you, and others, might be confused by all the heated discourse between partisans.

    In closing, I’d be pleased to address any particular point I’ve not already discussed, or some fine detail I may have overlooked, but accusations such as, “Her protest was keeping laws out of her body,” “squelching of choice,” and comparisons to poll taxes and voter literacy tests don’t really get at the legal or social issues at stake here. Whether or not you intend, you’re avoiding the direct issues at stake, and failing to provide a counter-argument. I know we’re both busy people, but how am I supposed to answer such arguments?

    Is it your intention that I won’t?

Don't bother.

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