20 states are attempting to pass 'heartbeat laws.' Georgia and Ohio just passed their own.

Roe who?

  • Four states have now passed "heartbeat laws," which ban abortions at about six weeks.
  • Ohio's new law prohibits rape and incest victims from having an abortion.
  • In Georgia, having a miscarriage could result in an investigation.

Distinguishing between actual news and The Onion has become a tragic sport in recent years, yet even the satire site wouldn't post an article entitled, "Should 11-year-old girls have to bear their rapists' babies? Ohio says yes." Nope, that's the Chicago Tribune.

On April 11, Republican governor Mike DeWine signed the state's Human Rights Protection Act, which bans abortions as soon as doctors can detect a heartbeat—about six weeks. The fact that many women do not yet know they're pregnant is irrelevant. Actually, that's part of the point: Ignorance is embedded in the design of the legislation.

The law, set to go into effect in mid-July, is being trailed by another bill that bans "drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum." Even birth control is being taken off the shelves in Ohio.

The recently passed bill features one even more disdainful caveat: If a child is raped, she must still bear the baby—as the headline suggests. While mothers will not be imprisoned for having an abortion (as some erroneous headlines have suggested), there is plenty to grieve about.

Ohio is only one of four states currently enacting "heartbeat laws." Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi now have similar laws on the books. Kentucky has yet another on tap, one which would prevent a woman from having an abortion upon learning that her child will be disabled.

Meanwhile, Missouri is foaming at the mouth for its shot while Alabama is about six months away from signing its own version. Louisiana's bill flew through the state Senate, 31-5, and is heading to the House. North Dakota's bill was signed but struck down in federal court. In total, 20 states have attempted or currently have heartbeat laws on the books or in progress.

Source: Wikipedia

Last week, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed his state's heartbeat bill into law, cutting his state's restrictions on abortions from 20 weeks to six. While this law won't go into effect until January, it also does not allow for women that are impregnated due to rape, incest, or conditions that put the health of the mother on the line. In fact, if a woman has a miscarriage, she could be put under investigation to ensure that an abortion was not performed.

Kemp might soon be hurt in a way that certainly affects him, even if a woman's suffering does not: His state's wallet. Georgia's film industry is booming thanks to a 30 percent tax rebate; it currently supports 92,000 jobs. Some Hollywood producers aren't having it, however, threatening to take their projects elsewhere. While the producers of HBO's "Lovecraft Country," Jordan Peele and JJ Abrams, announced that they're staying on set, they're now donating profits from their show to two charities battling the state's draconian laws.

It's sad that money has to be the motivating factor for as basic a right as abortion in this country, but it might hold power—odd, given how financially conservative those supporting this bill seem to be. Anti-abortion activists generally don't support government assistance to mothers that can't afford children, yet do everything in their power to make sure they have the baby anyway. Even the mother's life isn't of concern, only the ambiguous baby, and only as a concept at that.

Jesse Ventura: Being Pro-Life should mean more than being Pro-Birth

These initiatives in Ohio and Georgia will be challenged in court, likely delaying the process of implementation, as happened in Kentucky when a federal judge blocked the law from going into effect in March. Kentucky only has one abortion clinic as it is, another clever move installed by activists intent on dismantling basic female rights.

These laws continue even as we know what results to expect. In February, an 11-year-old known as "Lucia" was forced to give birth after being raped by her grandmother's 65-year-old boyfriend. She attempted to commit suicide twice after learning of her pregnancy. Though abortion is legal in cases of rape in Argentina, stalling tactics were employed. She was forced to have a Caesarean section in the 23rd week of her pregnancy. The baby did not survive. Lucia will have to live with this horrific incident for the rest of her life.

Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion: Both sides of the 'Heartbeat' Bill

Even more baffling about this entire situation is that religion is at its core. While the world's religions are truly different—the "every one says the same thing" mentality is more intellectual laziness than inspired truth—a handful of universals exists across cultures: empathy, compassion, trust, devotion, charity.

Sure, the major scriptures were written during tribal times—even more so than today—with the in-group receiving benefits and heretics being destroyed. Extrapolate the gist of meaning for global societies and those messages are truly applicable to all. Love thy neighbor and all that. Reciprocity reigns supreme.

Which is why it's shocking to see many of the professed religious in America acting in direct opposition to the commands of their faith. An 11-year-old girl raped by a senior citizen is not grounds for abortion? You'll look this girl in the eyes and claim it's part of God's plan? How about the potential death of the mother not holding as much weight as a fetus? These are, as many of the politicians behind these laws express, moral issues. The problem is they're on the wrong side of being moral.

Charity means helping even if you don't agree with the other person. Asking a homeless person why they ended up where they are is not compassion, unless you're committed to helping them change their circumstances. Giving them a few dollars is. Charity isn't charity if it's only serving to make you feel better about yourself.

The anti-abortion fervor spreading across nearly half of America is a disease. It has nothing to do with faith or devotion. It's a power grab and tool of manipulation. The more we attach the word "religion" to it, the more disservice we do to those religious who are truly compassionate and charitable. And we certainly need as much of those qualities as possible right now.

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Are modern societies trying too hard to be clean, at the detriment to public health? Scientists discovered that a microorganism living in dirt can actually be good for us, potentially helping the body to fight off stress. Harnessing its powers can lead to a "stress vaccine".

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that the fatty 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid from the soil-residing bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae aids immune cells in blocking pathways that increase inflammation and the ability to combat stress.

The study's senior author and Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry described this fat as "one of the main ingredients" in the "special sauce" that causes the beneficial effects of the bacterium.

The finding goes hand in hand with the "hygiene hypothesis," initially proposed in 1989 by the British scientist David Strachan. He maintained that our generally sterile modern world prevents children from being exposed to certain microorganisms, resulting in compromised immune systems and greater incidences of asthma and allergies.

Contemporary research fine-tuned the hypothesis, finding that not interacting with so-called "old friends" or helpful microbes in the soil and the environment, rather than the ones that cause illnesses, is what's detrimental. In particular, our mental health could be at stake.

"The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," explained Lowry. "That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders."

University of Colorado Boulder

Christopher Lowry

This is not the first study on the subject from Lowry, who published previous work showing the connection between being exposed to healthy bacteria and mental health. He found that being raised with animals and dust in a rural environment helps children develop more stress-proof immune systems. Such kids were also likely to be less at risk for mental illnesses than people living in the city without pets.

Lowry's other work also pointed out that the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae acts like an antidepressant when injected into rodents. It alters their behavior and has lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, according to the press release from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prolonged inflammation can lead to such stress-related disorders as PTSD.

The new study from Lowry and his team identified why that worked by pinpointing the specific fatty acid responsible. They showed that when the 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid gets into cells, it works like a lock, attaching itself to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). This allows it to block a number of key pathways responsible for inflammation. Pre-treating the cells with the acid (or lipid) made them withstand inflammation better.

Lowry thinks this understanding can lead to creating a "stress vaccine" that can be given to people in high-stress jobs, like first responders or soldiers. The vaccine can prevent the psychological effects of stress.

What's more, this friendly bacterium is not the only potentially helpful organism we can find in soil.

"This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils," said Lowry. "We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us."

Check out the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.