This is a blog of populist and liberal information and ideas, advancing the cause of truth and justice while fighting the ugly tyranny of right-wing oppression in Oklahoma and its surrounding environs.

State Law Limits Care Options For Crisis Pregnancies

Will a new draconian abortion law force some Oklahoma women with problematic pregnancies to leave the state to receive treatment?

Image from Pro-Choice Education Project

According to a recent story by Jennifer Mock in The Daily Oklahoman some local experts believe it could.

The new law, passed last session by the Oklahoma Legislature, prohibits state money from being used to perform abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk or she is a rape or incest victim. Some say the law directly affects lower-income women and OU Health Sciences Center, which in the past has performed abortions to save the mother’s life or because the fetus would not survive out of the womb.

But a Planned Parenthood spokesperson and a state legislator, according to the story, said they are even unsure if any hospital in the state can treat “crisis” pregnancies with the abortion procedure if the mother’s life is not in danger. This argument is based on the fact hospitals accept Medicaid patients, and some Medicaid money is provided by the state.

A crisis pregnancy can be defined this way: It is a medical emergency in which either the mother's and/or or fetus's life is in jeopardy.

Under the new law, Oklahoma women with crisis pregnancies may well be turned away for full treatment unless their life is in danger. It seems logical that even the most affluent women with crisis pregnancies would want to go to a hospital that offered a full-range of treatment options. Also, who would want to get treatment for a crisis pregnancy at an Oklahoma hospital when its staff might be filled with religious extremists not interested in treating the mother? It’s obvious those legislators who pushed for the law and voted for it were elected by at least a percentage of these people.

This is why it is important concerned citizens in our state form and/or support some type of discreet organization or program that will help the state’s women get treatment for their crisis pregnancies in other states if the need arises. This help could be financial for lower income women or just informational for women who do not want to risk their health. The organization could network with regional hospitals.

The fact Oklahoma might have to send its problematic and difficult pregnancy cases to other states can be another one of its dirty little secrets the chamber-of-commerce types never talk about. But, remember this, the Christian fundamentalists and extremists are not going to stop their legislative assault on the abortion procedure with this one law. This is just the beginning, not the ending. What will happen next legislative session? What’s next?

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Momaday New State Poet Laureate

 Photograph of N. Scott Momaday

“I belong to a race of people, a society, that has been oppressed. We, the Indians, have had a hard time, for a long time. We have had to endure a great deal, but the dream means as much to us as it does to anyone. You'll never find a greater patriot than an American Indian. It's not by accident that I, a member of the Gourd Dance society, go to Oklahoma to dance on the 4th of July, you know. It is not an accident that the greatest honor that can come to an American Indian in my generation is to serve in the Armed Forces. And the veterans who have given their lives are greatly honored by the Native people. So, the dream is very important to me, and it is, I think, to Native Americans in general.”—N. Scott Momaday in a 1996 interview.

Gov. Brad Henry recently appointed Lawton native N. Scott Momaday as state poet laureate, and the author now has a home in Oklahoma City.

This is great news for the state and especially for the state’s creative community. Momaday brings stature, power, and prestige to a position that is often forgotten or dismissed in the day-to-day world of state government. Momaday will travel the state during his tenure as poet laureate. He will be a great ambassador for Oklahoma.

The author won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for his novel, House Made of Dawn, and he has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of Arizona. He was born in Lawton, lived on the Kiowa Indian Reservation before he moved to Arizona, and later obtained a Ph.D.

He is perhaps best known for his work, The Way to Rainy Mountain. In the introduction to the book, Momaday describes an Oklahoma landscape.

He writes, “A single knoll rises out of the plain in Oklahoma, north and west of the Wichita Range. For my people, the Kiowas, it is an old landmark, and they gave it the name Rainy Mountain. The hardest weather in the world is there. Winter brings blizzards, hot tornadic winds arise in the spring, and in summer the prairie is an anvil's edge. The grass turns brittle and brown, and it cracks beneath your feet.”

Yet the landscape created by these harsh conditions is surprisingly creative and productive.

“All things in the plain are isolate; there is no confusion of objects in the eye, but one hill or one tree or one man. To look upon that landscape in the early morning, with the sun at your back, is to lose the sense of proportion. Your imagination comes to life, and this, you think, is where Creation was begun.”

Okie Funk featured Momaday in its Okie Rebels With A Cause Series a couple of years ago.

Goofy Coburn Embarrasses Oklahoma Again

Political Stunt Backfires?

Image of U.S. Senator Tom Coburn

It is well documented and old news that the Bush administration has allowed war profiteers to plunder our country’s treasury as the long, gruesome Iraq occupation continues.

Haliburton, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, is one of the companies that has profited the most. The private contracting has had little or no oversight because of the recent Republican domination of the federal branch of government.

All this makes U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s recent announcement he is looking into how much tax money is spent promoting federal mascots outlandish and ridiculous. Why doesn’t Coburn look into occupation profiteering in which there is potentially billions of dollars of waste and fraud? Instead, he makes himself and the state look goofy and petty by launching an attack on innocuous programs that cost relatively little money.

Coburn, an extreme right-wing Republican, obviously wants to get rid of federal mascots but allow war profiteers to steal the country blind. Where are his priorities? In his statement, he made some quip about how the money going to fund mascot programs could help get some children health insurance. Well, one could also argue the money going to war profiteers in the Iraq occupation could probably fully fund Social Security and provide decent health care for everyone, not just children.

The deal is this state did not send Coburn to Washington to attack mascots in some political stunt designed to make it seem like he is actually doing something. It certainly did not send him there to embarrass Oklahomans time and time again, and what an embarrassment he has turned out to be for the state. (His recent attack on deceased environmentalist Rachel Carson was mean and petty.) All the signs were there, of course, with Coburn’s 2004 “rampant lesbianism” in southeastern Oklahoma comments, but the state’s power structure—rich energy company executives and The Daily Oklahoman—supported him nonetheless.

Coburn also recently defended U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA). Vitter was recently tied to what investigators have called a Washington, D.C. prostitution ring. This was Coburn’s gem of a quote in The Hill: “Have you ever done anything wrong? So have I.”

Where Have All The Magnets Gone?

In a recent drive through Dallas on I-35 from Lewisville to the downtown area, I spotted only one support-our-troops sticker on a car. That’s right. One. Five lanes of traffic for several miles and only one magnet. Is there anything more telling about the country’s turn against the violent Iraq occupation than this? I mean, we're talking Dallas, home of the President George Bush Turnpike.

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