If you believe in miracles, scientists' ability to study and cure human disease by looking at microscopic cells from aborted fetuses is indeed a miracle. If you don't believe in miracles, it's an extraordinary human achievement. Miracle or not, this science is extending the length and quality of your life, and the lives of your loved ones. And the lives of anti-choice activists.
In order to be used, these cells have to get from an abortion clinic to a research lab, hundreds or thousands of miles away. Federal law regulates this procedure, which has been going on for decades.
Anti-choice activists recently climaxed a three-year infiltration of the commercial world of fetal tissue donation and distribution. The videos they illegally shot, dishonestly edited, and illegally distributed purport to show Planned Parenthood (PPFA) breaking the law while participating in a trade they consider evil.
While PPFA denies any wrongdoing, these activists acknowledge the various laws they broke—counterfeiting drivers' licenses, creating a phony company (CMP) with a website and history, signing non-disclosure agreements to get private meetings that they agreed to not record, and recording them.
They also got access to the personal information (such as home addresses) of abortion providers, which of course they have now distributed on the internet. These details have predictably led to grisly death threats—which CMP says was one of their goals.
You probably wouldn't want people sneaking into your workplace, videotaping you, claiming your work is evil, and then publicizing your kids' names and school location. CMP Board Treasurer Troy Newman is president of Operation Rescue, which ultimately helped murder Dr. George Tiller in his church. In 2003, Newman said that the murder of abortion provider Dr. John Britton was "justifiable defensive action."
The transfer or scientific use of fetal cells does nothing to facilitate abortion, and fuming over it is a clever propaganda ploy by anti-choice activists. Once an abortion is completed, it's over. What's done with the fetus at that point is totally irrelevant. Opponents are using the little-known issue of fetal cell use simply to reiterate their hostility to abortion.
And like the details of virtually every medical procedure (amputation, breaking bones to do heart surgery, installing a colostomy bag, etc.), it's not for the untrained faint-of-heart. So a couple of Planned Parenthood staff sounded "indelicate" or "insensitive?" Isn't that what you would sound like at work if people outside your industry heard your slang, your necessarily casual attitude about your work with frustrating customers, dangerous situations, or awful boredom?
If donating your organs for medical research after you die is honorable, why is donating your fetus' organs less honorable? The tired old "but fetuses don't get a vote on ending their own life" is a sophomoric distraction; neither does the victim of a car accident. A fetus is aborted (for better or worse); shall we use its cells to advance human life or not?
Anti-choice people should applaud this miraculous assist in the cycle of life, rather than hypocritically deploring it because they disagree with the choice that creates the opportunity in the first place.
To discourage clear thinking about this, anti-choice activists use grisly language, such as "cutting up babies and selling their body parts." After a deadly car accident, no one complains "You let Harvard Medical School chop up Aunt Lucy for science experiments."
If these people were honest, they'd distribute the UNEDITED videos they took. For example, the Planned Parenthood (PPFA) Senior Director of Medical Services told CMP ten different times that they would not profit in any way from fetal tissue—and all ten instances were cut out of the video released by CMP. Similarly, the President of the PPFA Medical Directors Council stated clearly that any tissue donation program would have to meticulously comply with federal law—which was also edited out.
CMP Board chair David Daleiden states that his and CMP's goal is to end safe access to reproductive health services in the United States, and to discredit lawful fetal tissue donation programs. Of course, these are the same people demanding that Congress de-fund comprehensive sex education, which is proven to reduce unintended pregnancies (and therefore abortions), and to fund only discredited abstinence-based programs. This proves that their main agenda is limiting sexual expression, not "preserving life."
Last year, the National Institutes of Health distributed $76 million for research using fetal tissue to more than 50 universities, including Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Yale and the University of California. Researchers say fetal tissue is a uniquely rich source of the stem cells that give rise to tissues and organs, making them crucial in finding cures for diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and leukemia.
This long-running criminal conspiracy by phony researchers must not end funding for real scientists whose work saves the lives of people who have already been born—including anti-choice activists. Planned Parenthood should stand up and proudly say yes, we do this work, whose blessings the public enjoys every day.
If anti-choice activists find this research so ghastly, they should refuse to use every medical advance it has helped develop in the last quarter-century.
Opinions about porn are like noses—everybody has one. But varying opinions are so contradictory, they can't all be right.
We actually do know a lot about contemporary porn's use and effects, so let's get some knowable facts out on the table.
* Myth: Porn is mostly violent and misogynist.
* Fact: Most porn shows happy, smiling people doing fairly ordinary things. A lot of porn shows happy, smiling (and perhaps sweaty) people doing exotic things. And some porn shows adults pretending to play dominance and submission games. Pretending? Yes. The actors and actresses are acting.
* Myth: Watching porn causes erection problems.
* Fact: (1) There has been no documented increase in erection problems, so there's no "epidemic" for porn to cause. (2) Of course most young men with erection problems watch porn—because most young men watch porn.
* Myth: Porn destroys good intimate relationships.
* Fact: (1) No one chooses to watch porn instead of being in a vibrant sexual relationship. People do back away from the chance for a good sexual relationship for many reasons, such as anger, guilt, fear of intimacy, depression, and anxiety. The fact that such people may get involved with porn is not the problem. (2) Sexually unsatisfying relationships are caused by many things, such as misinformation, medication side effects, hormone problems, anger, childhood trauma, fear of abandonment; a refusal to discuss the sexual disconnect is common. Just because one or both partners look at porn doesn't remotely mean that porn is the problem.
* Myth: Most men hide their porn-watching from their partner because they know they're doing something wrong.
*Fact: Most men hide their porn-watching for one or more reasons: (1) they believe their partner would be uncomfortable about it and might insist they have a right to a porn-free house; (2) like most Americans, they are uncomfortable discussing sexuality in general; (3) they don't want to confront the reality of their partner's or their own sexual dissatisfaction; (4) when someone tells their adult partner "I forbid you from watching that in our house," they are really instructing, "You better keep it secret."
* Myth: Only a man would enjoy porn; women simply don't like it.
*Fact: (1) Millions of women watch internet porn—some by themselves, others with their partners. Some women watch porn specifically made for them, while others watch the same videos that men do. (2) Fifty Shades of Grey is the best-selling book in history. It's porn. Its readers are almost exclusively women.
*Myth: Watching adult porn leads to watching kiddie porn.
*Fact: (1) The adult porn industry doesn't make kiddie porn, doesn't promote kiddie porn, and doesn't want its customers to watch kiddie porn. (2) Can you imagine any adult porn that would lead you to want to watch sexual videos of children? Kiddie porn isn't something anyone gradually develops a taste for.
* Myth: Porn is all about men's sexuality and men's pleasure.
* Fact: Most porn includes a focus on the pleasure of the characters portrayed by actresses. This often includes cunnilingus, typically includes a female orgasm (no matter that it may be shown unrealistically), frequently shows her enjoying fellatio, and may include domination that she finds pleasurable. These are standard features of ordinary caring and consensual heterosexual sex.
* Myth: Watching porn encourages violence against women.
* Fact: (1) Since broadband brought free, high-quality porn into almost every home in America, the rate of rape in the U.S. has gone down (according to the FBI). Yes, rape is an under-reported crime—and that was true before porn, just as it is now. (2) This decrease in rape following the spread or legalization of porn has been documented in dozens of countries including Denmark, Japan, and Croatia.
* Myth: Neuroscience proves that watching porn can damage your brain and even cause porn addiction.
*Fact: No it doesn't. (1) The brain lights up during all pleasurable activities, including watching a sunset and playing with your grandchildren. Of course it lights up during sexual arousal. (2) While there are plenty of people with unhealthy porn-watching habits, no one has actually documented "porn addiction." Unless someone has other non-porn mental health problems (such as bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder), almost anyone can modify their porn-viewing habits if they want to—making it quite different than addiction.
Here's a fact we should all agree on and act on: that kids need an intelligent, caring adult to talk with them about porn. Kids need to know that:
* Porn is an adult product, showing adult themes and behaviors that will be confusing to someone without experience.
* Porn is not a documentary, and doesn't portray sex as it really is. It's made by actors and actresses playing characters that someone made up.
* The bodies shown in porn are not typical adult bodies. Just as the NBA, NFL, and movie studios select people for their unusual physical characteristics, so do porn producers. You don't look like LeBron James, you don't look like Tom Cruise, and you don't look like Rocky Buttman, either.
* Most of all, if your kid has any questions about porn or sex in general, she or he should ask you. And they won't be punished for their question. You do promise that, right?
Need help discussing porn with your kid? My new video "Helping young people develop porn literacy" will make it easier. It's available as a DVD or mp4 download here.
How do I know about male sexuality? I've been a sex therapist and marriage counselor for 34 years. From listening to thousands of people talk about their most intimate experiences and desires, here's what I've learned about most men:
* He wants to please you.
He actually cares whether you enjoy sex with him. And his own experience is affected by yours. So if there are things that would make sex more enjoyable for you, tell him. That includes not just positions, but things like hygiene, timing, and language.
Perhaps he initiates by saying "Hey baby, let's play hide the salami" when you're tired and he hasn't shaved in a week. If you like that, fine; if that's a turn-off, he really needs—and wants—to know. Tell him—and if necessary, tell him why you're telling him.
* Touching is a big part of sex for him.
Some people have a pretty narrow sense of what "sex" is. But most men enjoy touching and being touched as an integral part of sex. Assuming you like it, caressing you is both sensual and erotic for him, and it's a great way to get your two bodies in synch.
So if you like to touch or be touched, do plenty of it, and don't worry that he's getting impatient.
If you don't enjoy it, of course, you won't want much of it, and so you'll either prevent it or pull away as soon as you can. Your guy will probably find this confusing or disappointing, and you'll undoubtedly find the whole interaction awkward. So if there's a way you like to be touched, tell him. Be really specific. If he says he doesn't like being told what to do, ask him if he wants the information or not. If he doesn't, you have a much bigger problem than touching.
* Sex is about more than intercourse for him.
The behavior and bragging of teenage males (and the stupid movies they like!) has led to a common misunderstanding about adult men—that they'll stick their penises into anyone or any place, and hardly notice the details.
Fortunately, that generally isn't true for grownups.
Most adult men like to feel emotionally connected during sex, even if they find it hard to talk about. Most men like to kiss or hug (or both) during sex; if your guy doesn't, there's probably a good reason, so you might want to ask about it. And most men like for sex to involve their hands, your hands, and often their mouth and your mouth. So don't rush to intercourse, and don't let him, either.
If he does head toward intercourse faster than you'd like, ask what the two of you can do to make the stuff before (or even instead of) intercourse more entertaining.
* He may like to be bitten.
Human eroticism includes the instinct to bite. Any woman who's ever nursed a child remembers that.
If you don't like being bitten, ever, you shouldn't have to endure it. If it comes up, say "no thanks" in a friendly yet firm way, and that should be the end of it. But if you're intrigued, or you know what you like (especially when you're really excited), don't be afraid to mention it. Or, at the appropriate moment, to press your shoulder, arm, breast, or other body part against you partner's teeth. He'll get the message pretty quickly. If he doesn't, he's almost certainly not interested.
* He'd love to answer your questions.
What does your guy like in bed? I'm glad you're curious, and I encourage you to speak to the world's expert on that—him. If you lead with the truth—"I'd like to know what you like so we can both enjoy sex more"—chances are he'll tell you. And if he's too shy to tell you, invite him to show you. He can, for example, put your hand on his penis or nipple, put his hand on top of yours, and move both hands the way he likes.
If he says he doesn't know what he likes, that's the perfect chance to suggest you explore his body together. Start with a hand or foot caress, look at and talk to each other, and move on to other body parts from there.