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Sex on Wednesdays | Bitey Shark Sex

And F**king Texas Hypocrites

by Martha Kempner 

Remember when an op-ed in a Williamsport, PA paper went viral during the 2016 election because the author (spoiler alert: it was written by a man) worried that Hillary Clinton might make bad decisions during her period? After bemoaning liberal politicians who were coming for his guns, Carl Unger argued that it wasn’t fair to call him sexist just because he was worrying about Clinton’s health. He wrote: “What if it’s that time of the month and she’s sick as well?”

Sorry Carl, it is sexist. It’s sexist to assume that a woman couldn’t handle the work of being president or any other job while she has her period. It’s even sexist to assume that a woman couldn’t handle the work of being president or any other job while she had her period and a cold or the flu or Covid-19 (which didn’t exist yet). You see Carl, the average person with a uterus spends 3,500 days of our life menstruating, and as much as we may want to curl into a ball and stay under the covers all day moaning, we doesn’t have time for that s**t. We just keeps going despite feeling like our uterus is in a vice grip and running to the bathroom every 45-minutes for a fresh pad.

Also Carl, that’s not how it f**king works.  

Hillary was 69 when she ran for president. While it’s not medically impossible for her still to have been getting a period (apparently there was one woman who still got it at 102, poor soul), it was highly unlikely. The average age of menopause is 51. It had probably been well over a decade since the former Secretary of State had to carry tampons in her purse and worry about her white pantsuits.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for men to grok the concept of female fertility and the menstrual cycle (maybe they’re too in awe of our power), but they keep saying things that prove they just don’t get it. The most recent example is far less comical than worrying about Madame Menstruation.

It happened in the Missouri state house (shocking I know). Democrats have been trying to get a rape and incest exemption into the state’s near-total abortion ban. Republicans won’t budge. During debate, there was a heated exchange between Senators Doug Beck (D) and Bill Eigel (R) who is running for governor. Beck had introduced an amendment which would allow for abortion for pregnant girls 12 or younger. He suggested that forcing child rape victims to carry their pregnancies to term might have health implications.

That seems beyond obvious, but good for him for pointing it out. As Jessica Valenti notes in Abortion, Every Day, it was humane and also political savvy because it forced his Republican opponents to argue that 10-year-olds should have to give birth. Eigel didn’t seem to care about the optics or the kids. Instead, he seemed outraged at the suggestion: “You want to bring back the institution of abortion so that kids can get abortions in the state of Missouri…. A 1-year-old could get an abortion under this.”

Beck responded, “I don’t know that a 1-year-old could get pregnant, senator.”   

I’m not sure how there can be any doubts about this part, but neither man seemed totally certain so let me be clear: that’s not how it f**king works. One-year-olds cannot get pregnant. They will not be seeking abortions in Missouri no matter what the law is.  

That we even have to debate whether children should be forced to carry pregnancies to term and give birth to their rapist’s child is heartbreaking. That the men make who are having these debates and making decisions about our reproductive health and wellbeing don’t even know who can and can’t get pregnant is pathetic.


Texas Poisons His Wife with Misoprostol, Gets 6 Months

Texas attorney Mason Herring admitted that he’d attempted to cause his wife to miscarry by putting crushed misoprostol in her drink on more than one occasion. He’d originally been charged with felony assault to induce abortion but agreed to plead guilty to charges of injury to a child and assault of a pregnant person. He was sentenced to 180 days in prison and 10 years probation.

Catherine Herring says she began to suspect her criminal mastermind evil genius of a husband when he handed her cloudy glasses of water and suggested she needed to drink them to stay hydrated during pregnancy. She searched the trash and found packaging for a drug that contained misoprostol. She then set up cameras and caught her soon-to-be-ex-husband mixing a substance in one of her drinks. (I’m not a couple’s therapist but I’m guessing that something else had to be going on in their marriage to make her jump from cloudy water to setting up a sting.)

Misoprostol is one of two drugs commonly used for medication abortion. The standard protocol for a medication abortion in the United States is to start with mifepristone which blocks progesterone and stops a pregnancy from progressing. Misoprostol is given next either right away or within 48 hours. It causes cramping, contractions, and bleeding so the uterus can empty itself.

Mifepristone is at the center of an upcoming Supreme Court case because a Texas judge agreed to invalidate the FDA’s approval of the drug two decades after the fact. His ruling, which was partially overturned by the appellate court, also suggested that recent FDA rules designed to make the drug more accessible violated the 1873 Comstock Act. While we wait for the final verdict from SCOTUS, mifepristone remains available in states where abortion is legal.

Misoprostol can also be used on its own. Research has found it’s safe and effective. In fact, worldwide most medication abortions use only misoprostol. This drug may be easier to find because it’s used for other conditions including to prevent ulcers. Women of reproductive age who take it for this reason are supposed to take a pregnancy test before starting it and stay on effective birth control for at least one month after stopping the medication because it is known to cause miscarriage or severe birth defects.

The medication did not cause a miscarriage in Mrs. Herring, but their daughter—who is their third child together—was born 10 weeks premature and has numerous developmental delays for which she receives therapy eight times a week.

Despite having admitted to not-so-subtly putting the medication in his wife’s drink (who spikes water?) and further admitting that his intent was to cause a miscarriage (otherwise known as an abortion), Mr. Herring got just six months in jail. In Texas. Under Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Texas has one of the strictest abortion laws in the country. Abortion is banned from the moment of fertilization. There is no exemption for rape or incest. There is no exemption for severe fetal anomalies. The exemption for emergencies that threaten the life of the pregnant person is so poorly defined that doctors feel they must wait until a woman is near death to act. A doctor who performs an abortion in Texas can get life in prison and a $100,000 fine.

When a Texas judge granted an exemption to the law for Kate Cox—a mother of two whose future fertility was in jeopardy because the fetus she was carrying had severe anomalies—Ken Paxton threatened any doctor who helped her. He sent a letter to all hospitals in the area that said the judge’s ruling “will not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.” (The Texas Supreme Court overruled the exemption, and Kate Cox went out of state for the procedure.)

Let’s get this clear: If Catherine Herring had asked a doctor to give her misoprostol to end her pregnancy, the doctor could have gotten life in prison. Her husband does it against her will and he gets six months.

A ruling like this coming out of Texas serves as yet another reminder that despite all the “save the babies” rhetoric, abortion restrictions are and have always been about controlling women’s sexual and reproductive behavior.


Immaculate Conception or Non-Consensual Shark Sex?

This week all eyes are on Charlotte, a pregnant stingray who has been living in a North Carolina aquarium tank without a potential male partner. She’s close to giving birth, and everyone wants to know how exactly Charlotte got knocked up and what her baby is going to look like.

One theory is that the father of her baby is one of the small sharks she tanks with. Aquarium officials said that at Charlotte seemed to have bite marks on her in the past, and that biting is consistent with shark mating behavior. (Rough sex is fine when both partners consent, but as a member of a totally different species, was Charlotte really able consent to bitey shark sex?)

Experts say that a shark-ray baby is extremely unlikely. According to a 2021 paper in Developmental Biology, the last common ancestor of sharks and stingrays existed about 300 million years ago. In contrast, cats and dogs diverged from each other about 45 million years ago.

A more likely explanation is parthenogenesis which is essentially immaculate conception without the religious implications.

Think back to biology class when you learned about mitosis and meiosis. Most cells in the body go through mitosis—a process in which they duplicate themselves and form two identical copies complete with 46 chromosomes. Egg and sperm cells, also called gametes, go through meiosis instead. In this process the cells duplicate and then split forming four “daughter” cells that have 23 chromosomes each. That way, when sperm and egg meet there are only 46 chromosomes total.

The process of meiosis also forms three polar bodies which are usually non-functional cells that contain some of the same genetic material as the egg. The purpose of polar bodies is to eliminate the extra genetic material that the egg doesn’t need or want. They usually just die off.

In parthenogenesis, a polar body fuses with the unfertilized egg and they start to form an embryo. Though it has no other parent, the embryo is not quite a clone of its mother because it doesn’t have all of her genetic material. In fact, it doesn’t quite have enough genetic material. One expert told Scientific America that the offspring are less robust. She said, “You can think of them as highly inbred individuals.” (Cough, British royal family, cough cough.)

There have been cases of sharks and other rays reproducing this way in captivity. And last year a crocodile who’d lived alone for 16 years gave birth to a fully formed fetus though it was stillborn.

If Charlotte had been in the wild, she’d have likely had more than one male suitor. Female stingrays mate with multiple male partners and often give birth to litters with different fathers.  Think of all the baby daddy drama she’s avoiding by doing it this way.

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