Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

A guide to state abortion legislation & some observations

April 4, 2011

The newest state legislative session has brought about a tidal wave of abortion legislation — mostly attempts to restriction abortion either directly or indirectly. Now while organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice and the Guttmacher Institute have excellent resources on state laws and legislation regarding abortions, I decided to venture out independently and gather information on abortion by state so it would all be on one, scrollable page.

So here is an objective, somewhat comprehensive (and constantly changing, I apologize if it isn’t up to date — let me know if you see something that’s been killed by the legislature or signed into law or something major that I’ve missed) collection of abortion legislation in the states. After the legislation descriptions, I have a few subjective observations.

(Note: Many of these states have bills pending regarding state health exchanges and abortion funding or parental consent for minors to get abortions; I typically didn’t list these pieces of legislation unless they were the only pieces of abortion-related legislation pending in the legislature.)


(objective descriptions)

Federal: The Pence amendment to H.R. 1 would ban Title X funding to Planned Parenthood, eliminating all federal funding for the family-planning nonprofit. H.R. 1 originally did pass the House but not the Senate. A revised version of H.R. 1 has been reintroduced and still contains the Pence amendment.

Alabama: Alabama already mandates that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound and offer a woman the opportunity to view the image before performing an abortion. Currently in the legislature is HB 18, which would ban late-term abortions (abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy).

Alaska: SB 14 would allow conscientious objection from doctors who don’t want to perform abortions. 

Arizona: Arizona already requires an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion after their first trimester and that providers offer women the opportunity to view the image. Two bills passed the House: HB 2416 would require abortion pill providers in rural communities to be set up like surgical facilities in order to distribute the pill, and would require an hour wait time between when an ultrasound is performed and when the abortion would be done; HB 2384 would prohibit public funding for organizations that do abortion referrals or provide abortion health-care coverage.

Arkansas: HB 1887 (the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act) would reinforce current law that prevents abortions after 20 weeks and would require abortion providers to tell women seeking abortions that a fetus at 20 weeks can feel pain as well as offer women other information regarding the procedure.

California: There is a budget bill that would restrict government funding for low-income health care to be used for abortions.

Colorado: HB 1256 would have make it illegal to kill an unborn baby in Colorado through reckless actions, but it is being withdrawn.

Connecticut: HB 5099 would require an ultrasound be performed before an abortion.

Delaware: There doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation, though there is talk of stronger regulation of abortion clinics because of Kermit Gosnell, a  Philadelphia abortion doctor who performed illegal, late-term abortions in a “house of horrors” abortion clinic (Gosnell has been charged with murdering seven infants using scissors). Legislators are also talking about instituting a parental consent law for abortion.

District of Columbia: Federal H.R. 1 would reinstate a ban on using federal and local tax dollars for abortions.

Florida: Florida already requires an ultrasound on each woman obtaining an abortion after her first trimester and that providers offer her the opportunity to view the image. Florida has introduced 18 bills regarding abortion so far in this legislative session.

Proposed bills include: (1) HJR 1179, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit using state money for funding abortions, even in cases of rape or incest; (2) HB 321, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which prohibits abortions after 20 weeks; (3) HB 415, the “Florida for Life Act,” which would ban abortions completely except to save the mother’s life and would ban abortion clinics; and (4) HB 1127, which would require ultrasounds on all women seeking abortions and require them to review the ultrasound (must sign form certifying they denied viewing ultrasound of their own free will if they don’t want to view it) — exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and medical emergency.

Georgia: HB 1 would make abortion illegal and would criminalize any “human involvement” in miscarriage; prenatal murder would be a felony and could carry a life sentence or death penalty.

Hawaii: SB 860 would prohibit partial-birth abortions, except in emergencies to save the life of the mother.

Idaho: SB 1165 would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Illinois: HB 3156 would regulate abortion clinics like surgical centers.

Indiana: HB 1210 would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, and require doctors to tell women that abortions might lead to breast cancer, inform women seeking an abortion that the fetus might feel pain, and require women to view an ultrasound.

Iowa: An Iowa House panel has approved HF 5, a bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy; also in the General Assembly is a bill (HF 7) that would allow reasonable or deadly force to be used by a person or third party to protect themselves or someone else from harm; combined with HF 153, which would define “life” as starting from conception, some contend HF 7 is a “justifiable homicide” bill that could be interpreted to allow for the murder of abortion providers.

Kansas: There doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation.

Kentucky: A bill to require women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds died in the House.

Louisiana: Louisiana already requires that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound and offer a woman the opportunity to view the image before performing an abortion; there doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation.

Maine: LD 116 would require a 24-hour waiting period for abortions; LD 924 would require doctors to, 24 hours in advance, provide medical information and a brochure on alternatives to abortion.

Maryland: There doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation, but anti-abortion activists want stricter regulations on abortion clinics.

Massachusetts: H 2216 would prosecute harming a fetus the same as harming the mother, but it excludes abortion providers and medical intervention; H 0482 would require doctors to give women — before consenting to an abortion — information regarding abortion alternatives, probable age of the fetus, opportunity to listen to heartbeat, the “probable anatomical and physiological characteristics” of the fetus, and risks associated with abortion; H 1333 would prohibit partial-birth abortions except to save the mother.

Michigan: SB 0150/HB 4433 would require abortion providers to use the most advanced ultrasound technology; SB 0160/HB 4109 would prohibit partial-birth abortion.

Minnesota: HF 1042 would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy (currently restricted past 23 weeks).

Mississippi: Mississippi already requires that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound and offer a woman the opportunity to view the image before performing an abortion. There does not seem to be any other current abortion-related legislation.

Missouri: HB 213 would ban abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, and would require two physicians to confirm that the proper exemption requirements are met to perform an abortion after 20 weeks (the only exemption is to save the life of the mother).

Montana: The House voted to cut nearly all funding for family-planning clinics; HB 280 would require an ultrasound before abortion but is listed on the legislative website as “probably dead”; HB 574 would prohibit state funding for abortion.

Nebraska: LB 232 would permit any third party to “defend” a fetus, leading many to call it a “justifiable homicide” bill that could be used to allow the murder of abortion providers; LB 461 would prevent hospitals from discriminating against workers with religious objections to abortions, except in the case of the mother’s life being in danger when the worker would be expected to prioritize the mother’s life.

Nevada: There seems to be no current abortion-related legislation.

New Hampshire: HB 329 would require minors to get parental consent for abortion; the parental notification required for a minor to get an abortion was repealed four years ago.

New Jersey: A 163/S 353 would require physicians to offer ultrasounds to women seeking an abortion at least 48 hours before the abortion is done, except in the case of a medical emergency.

New Mexico: There seems to be no current abortion-related legislation this session. (There is a fetal homicide bill, but it excludes abortion providers.)

New York: A 2244 would require a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion; require doctors to provide women with information regarding abortion alternatives, abortion risks, and details about the fetus’s current development; and mandate that all abortion providers have proper ultrasound equipment; S 4028 would require that minors need parental consent to get an abortion.

North Carolina: There seems to be no current abortion-related legislation this session. (There is a fetal homicide bill, but it excludes abortion providers.)

North Dakota: HB 1450 would change the definition of human being to life beginning at conception.

Ohio: HB 125 (also called the “heartbeat bill“) would ban abortions if heartbeat could be detected and requires medical providers to, at least 24 hours before the abortion, give  information to the woman about the baby’s survival chances if a heartbeat is detected — if found to have performed an abortion when the fetus’s heartbeat was detected, doctors would face a fifth-degree felony.

Oklahoma: Both HB 1888 (Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act) and HB 1402 (Women’s Health Defense Act) would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy; both SB 546 and HB 1571 define life as starting at conception; and SJR 43 would have the public vote on whether life starts at conception.

Oregon: HB 3512 would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy; SB 901 would require that abortion clinics be regulated like surgical centers.

Pennsylvania: SB 732/HB 574 would regulate abortion clinics like surgical centers.

Rhode Island: H 5505 would require that, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, women must be informed of information regarding risks involved with abortion and carrying child to term, and pictures of what the fetus would look like (except in a medical emergency); H 5029 would define life as starting at conception; H 5691 would require that physicians be able to provide ultrasounds and show them to women, though women are not required to view them.

South Carolina: HB 3403/SB 164 (also called the “Born Alive” bill) would, according to proponents, require that fetuses that survive an abortion be saved and not treated as medical waste; HB 3408 (Freedom of Conscience Act) prohibits employers to discriminate against workers who don’t want to do certain tasks that conflict with their religious, moral, or ethical principles — the bill also allows health care facilities to refuse to admit patients seeking care they ethically object to providing.

South Dakota: The governor signed a law requiring a 72-hour waiting period between when a woman first comes to the clinic (only one abortion clinic in the state) for an abortion and when she can have the abortion, and it requires that the woman must get counseling from a pregnancy crisis center.

Tennessee: HB 956/SB 47 requires abortion clinics that perform five or more abortions per year be regulated as surgical facilities.

Texas: HB 15 would require that, at least between one and three days before an abortion, a doctor has to give a woman a sonogram, describe the fetus in the sonogram in “layperson” terms, provide information on abortion alternatives (it seems like the sonogram is mandatory but the woman can decline the information), and have the woman listen to the heartbeat (except in medical emergency); HB 325 requires an ultrasound but says the woman can “look away,” and also requires information similar to that mandated in HB 15 be provided at least an hour before an abortion; HB 2659 would outlaw abortion except in the case of rape or incest (these exceptions must be proven) or for the health of the mother.

Utah: HB 354 was signed by the governor and prevents private insurance companies from covering abortions; HB 171 was signed by the governor and requires first-trimester abortion clinics to be licensed by the state; HB 353 was signed by the governor and allows physicians to refuse to perform abortion on moral or religious grounds (even in cases of rape or incest) without repercussions from employers, and it allows health care facilities to refuse to admit a patient for an abortion on moral or religious grounds.

Vermont: It seems there is no current abortion-related legislation.

Virginia: HB 1428 would regulate abortion clinics as medical care facilities; Gov. Bob McDonnell recently added an amendment to HB 2434, which addresses the state creating its own health exchange in regard to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that would prohibit any insurance on the exchange from covering the cost of an abortion.

Washington: HB 1366 requires pregnancy crisis centers to make certain disclosures — that they do not provide abortions or medical care to pregnant women — to people seeking their services and prohibits them from disclosing a patient’s medical information without permission.

West Virginia: HB 3020 would prohibit state-funded health plans from offering abortion coverage.

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposes eliminating state funding for Planned Parenthood and other family-planning centers.

Wyoming: HB 118 would require that doctors, at least 24 hours before performing an abortion, inform the woman that she can view an ultrasound, listen for the fetus’s heartbeat, and the possibility of the fetus feeling pain if it’s past the 20th week of pregnancy, including a description of the procedure and when the fetus would feel pain and that anesthesia is available but offers little pain prevention to the fetus. HB 251 only relates to doctors offering women an ultrasound and chance to hear the fetal heartbeat.


Some observations
(not so objective)

How does this legislation affect abortion access?

Much of the legislation is self-explanatory in terms of how it affects abortion access. Bans on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy obviously mean that some women won’t be allowed to get abortions. But much of this legislation is also tricky. Forcing a woman to get an ultrasound or listen to a heartbeat is an attempt to influence a woman’s decision about getting an abortion. Allowing hospitals to refuse patients limits where they can go for an abortion, and can be potentially dangerous if a woman needs an emergency abortion but the only hospital within miles refuses to give abortions for religious or ethical reasons.

Requiring abortion clinics to be regulated differently can indirectly shut them down, because they’d be required to meet building specifications that would require costly renovations — leaving many women without access to abortion. In Arizona, women in rural communities would be forced to travel to cities to get the abortion pill, which might not be a feasible option when one considers travel costs and possibly needing to take time off work. South Dakota’s three-day waiting period is especially outrageous because there is only one abortion clinic in the state — asking women to drive there, wait three days, then drive back is a huge burden on those women, and it’s a burden not every woman can afford to deal with.

More dangerous are bills like the one in Georgia, which criminalizes miscarriages to an unbelievable degree. What if you did smoke or drink while pregnant, not knowing you were? How can you scientifically prove that didn’t cause your miscarriage? The consequences would be jail time or possibly life in prison or the death penalty. And bills like those in Iowa and Nebraska draw blurry lines between using force to defend a fetus — abortion providers could be justifiably murdered in the name of saving the fetus.

Viewing the ultrasound and listening to the heartbeat

These types of legislation seem to be geared toward new mothers who “don’t understand” what an abortion entails, that the fetus has a heartbeat, could feel pain, etc. But most women who get abortions aren’t new mothers who are unaware of fetal heartbeats and ultrasounds: 61 percent of abortions are performed on women who already have childrenthese women understand the process of pregnancy, childbirth, etc. and don’t need a tutorial. Their choice to get an abortion is based on experience and an understanding of what it takes to raise a child, and forcing them or any woman to listen to a heartbeat or view an ultrasound is cruel and doesn’t grasp that women don’t like getting abortions.

What is a pregnancy crisis center?

You’ll note that Washington has a proposed bill that would force pregnancy crisis centers to be upfront about their services. This is because pregnancy crisis centers are often anti-abortion pregnancy centers run by religious organizations or churches, advertising themselves as pro-choice with the underlying mission to prevent or dissuade women from getting abortions. They often misinform patients, either about their services or in the information they provide, and have been known to harass women who continue to say they want an abortion.

The South Dakota bill is also frightening for this reason — not only will women need to wait three days to get an abortion, but they’ll need to visit one of these pregnancy crisis centers before getting an abortion. This forces women to go to these centers — known for spreading false information, harassing women, and basing the level of service on whether the woman wants an abortion — against their will.

Unemployment rate versus abortion legislation

You might have noticed that Republicans — who pre-November-election were crying out for more focused attention on job creation and economic recovery — are now focusing their attention on abortion. Have the economic conditions suddenly brightened to allow this reversal?

There are 41 states and the District of Columbia with some kind of abortion-restrictive legislation on the table. There are 30 states plus the District of Columbia with an unemployment rate of 8 percent or higher, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 41 states that have abortion-related legislation on the table, 25 have an employment rate of 8 percent or higher, 20 have a rate of 9 percent or higher, and eight have a rate of more than 10 percent. The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU) — a natural unemployment rate that sits comfortably between triggering deflation or inflation — is currently 7 percent.

In other words, 61 percent of the states with abortion-related legislation on the table have an unemployment rate of 8 percent or more; 49 percent have an unemployment rate of 9 percent or more; and 20 percent have an unemployment rate of 10 percent or more. Florida, which has an unemployment rate of 11.5 — the third highest in the country and lower only than Nevada and California, has introduced 18 abortion-related bills this session. States with such serious economic problems should be focusing on job creation, deficit reduction, and economic recovery — not abortion.


I’ll take ‘Potpourri’ for $1600, Alex

June 3, 2010

1. 10 ways cities and towns can kick the offshore-oil habit, per Grist

Anything that involves transportation and infrastructure improvement is amazing, and Jonathan Hiskes hits the nail on the head when he discusses 10 things cities can do to become less oil dependent and more energy efficient. Some of his suggestions include making streets accessible to all people (not just drivers), building near public transit, demanding more density, and cutting parking.

2. Documents Show Early Warnings About Safety of Rig, per The New York Times

Hindsight is 20/20, and the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon is no different. Now, documents are showing that the oil rig that exploded showed several serious safety problems, all of which serve as clues to its eventual explosion:

On Tuesday Congress released a memorandum with preliminary findings from BP’s internal investigation, which indicated that there were warning signs immediately before the explosion on April 20, including equipment readings suggesting that gas was bubbling into the well, a potential sign of an impending blowout.

The warning signs started almost a year ago and continued up until the oil rig exploded. There seems to be a pattern of well-documented safety concerns in these environmental disasters, which either don’t get resolved because of pressure from the company or because federal regulators are too lax with their rules. Both sides are too concerned with the cost in terms of money and time than in terms of human and other forms of life.

3. Sex and the City 2‘s stunning Muslim clichés, per Salon

I haven’t seen the new Sex and the City, but reading this (spoilers, beware) made me concerned:

After discovering they will visit the Middle East, the ladies whip out hall-of-fame Ali Baba clichés: References to “magic carpet” (a double entendre, naturally), Scheherazade and Jasmine from “Aladdin” come in rapid succession.

I was eager to see the movie, but now I’m not sure I’ll watch it. It was already being panned as a terrible movie, and it sounds like the way they depict Middle Eastern culture is problematic and borderline racist.

4. Science Proves That “Helicopter Parents” Ruin Kids, per Jezebel

A study has shown that overprotective and obsessive parents — aka “Helicopter Parents” (you know, because they hover of the children and everything they do) — often breed neurotic, anxious, dependent children who don’t take as many risks:

Some protection from parents is natural, but too much (like, say, forbidding travel) can convince kids that they’re not equipped to deal with the risks of the world.

I would always prefer that my mom just deal with doctors’ offices, customer service, mechanics, and the like, but I think it’s healthy that she doesn’t give in to my whining and makes me deal with that kind of thing myself. Unless my being young is getting in the way of someone helping me or treating me properly.

I’ll take ‘Potpourri’ for $1200, Alex

May 13, 2010

I’ve been collecting some links during the past few days, concerning sexual assault and drinking, the oil spill in the Gulf, an anti-abortion group greenwashing their anti-birth-control agenda, and the douche who made fun of Roger Ebert’s cancer and his half-assed weird apology.

1. The Morning After: Horny Dude IM Edition, per The Sexist at Washington City Paper

Some people like to argue that if young women just didn’t drink so much and go to parties, then they wouldn’t get sexually assaulted and raped in the first place. So why the double standard? Maybe guys should follow the same logic:

If we are so concerned though about young men getting drunk at a party, sleeping with another drunk woman, and later being falsely accused of rape (through misunderstanding, I suppose), then why do we direct all of our “advice” only at women? Why not recommend young men take the same advice that we give young women? Don’t get drunk, don’t go to parties/clubs, don’t engage in any sexual behavior at parties, and whatever you do, don’t go home with a girl or invite her to your room.

2. Louisiana Fisherman Say Media, Not Oil, Killing Their Business, per Grist

I’ve heard about 7,336,288 stories about how the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is ruining the lives of fisherman in the area because it’s killing marine life and making it impossible for fisherman to do their jobs. Although it is having an impact, some fisherman are saying the media is blowing the entire thing way out of proportion, which is hurting business:

But Dave Ballay, Wilson’s friend and Venice Marina’s former owner, does not blame the mammoth and growing oil slick in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.  Instead, people here blame the media, which day after day, for over two weeks, has detailed the doom and gloom facing the coast and its beleaguered residents.

“Ninety-five percent of the state of Louisiana’s waters are still fishable,” Ballay said with a bemused but angered tone.

3. BP releases video of oil leaking from underwater rig

It’s only 30 seconds, put you can see the oil and steam pouring out from the oil rig. Times this by 43,200, and that’s the damage the leak does on a daily basis — constantly spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There is also another leak, but this is the larger of the two.

4. I Don’t Like Roger Ebert, per Mediaite

Last week, Caleb Howe decided to mock Roger Ebert via Twitter because they disagreed about whether some students should have been sent home because they were wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo. As any mature person would do when political views differ, Howe decided to make fun of Ebert’s cancer, the fact he is missing his lower jaw because of the cancer, and talk about how his death is fast approaching.

Four days later, Howe “apologized” for saying those things, although the apology is difficult to follow and really doesn’t admit he did anything wrong until the last sentence. He spends most of it excusing himself for his behavior, blaming his Twitter addiction, booze, and mostly that he wanted the attention. But at the end, he realizes that Twitter is virtual but the people using it are real, so he is “suddenly very sorry” for everything.

It’s nice that he apologized, but the fact he premeditated an attack on someone leaves a bad taste in my mouth. So does his excuse, “vodka cometh,” as if being drunk doesn’t mean he is responsible for his actions. Note to Caleb Howe: even while intoxicated, you are still responsible for your actions — being drunk is not an excuse or a get-out-of-personal-responsiblity-free card.

5. Birth Control Opponents Greenwash Their Message, per Grist

Anti-abortion group American Life League is trying to ride the coattails of the green movement in order to get people to stop using birth control. This new greenwashing approach involves birth control pills getting into the waterways after we urinate, then going into the water system, and then the chemicals being ingested by fish and causing health problems.

This is true. But of course skewed:

But what the “Pill Kills” [campaign] site doesn’t make immediately clear is that the American Life League opposes all contraception of any kind (other than the good ol’ rhythm method). If the group gave a rat’s ass about the environment, it would acknowledge that unplanned pregnancies and resultant unplanned births ultimately lead to umpteen times more environmental degradation than the Pill.

grouping shootings under PTSD is easy way out

January 13, 2010

In Tuesday’s Harvard Crimson, three Arab-American students wrote an opinion piece where they claimed that the person responsible for the Fort Hood shootings, Maj. Nidal Hasan, was being targeted for his religion rather than the true motive for his actions — PTSD. I find this article problematic for a number of reasons — its misunderstanding of PTSD, the way it blows off his ties to extremist Muslims and — most importantly — the way that it groups Fort Hood with a number of other military shootings, alleging the common link is PTSD, when in reality these shootings cannot be blanketed with PTSD.

First of all, PTSD is not the same as depression or an anxiety disorder. The specific characteristics of PTSD are reliving events, hyperarousal and avoidance. Although avoidance is a common symptom that could be seen in depression or an anxiety disorder — avoidance is avoiding situations that cause reliving of traumatic events, so likely this means a lot of seclusion and anti-social behavior — the other two main symptoms are related to experiencing a trauma.

PTSD is common and not regulated to veterans — anyone who experiences a traumatic event (a car crash, watching a loved one die, being raped) can relive the event in their minds and experience hyperarousal, which is when people are on “high alert” and are much more aware of their surroundings, perhaps being on guard all the time or easily startled by loud noises.

For veterans, PTSD manifests itself most often when soldiers deal with combat. The things they see, hear, do in combat are often scarring and horrifying — killing someone, treating wounds for children who were tortured by the enemy, watching friends and mentors die in the line of fire — but Hasan had never seen combat. The Crimson’s op-ed authors claim that just hearing these horrific stories from other people caused him PTSD, but I think it would more make him depressed or nervous/anxious to be deployed. PTSD results from a first-hand experience, not a second-hand one.

Second, they make the claim that people are too easily diving onto his Muslim heritage as a motive for these killings. An understandable criticism, but one that simply can’t be ignored in this case. One can’t ignore the fact that he had contact with a radical Muslim cleric or that he felt like Muslims should be allowed to leave the military as conscentious objectors. The importance he put on his religion makes it impossible to ignore as a possible motivation, especially when he connected his religion to his deployment.

Third, all cases of military shooting cannot just be thrown under the category of “PTSD” — this article blankets several incidents of military personnel opening fire on other military personnel without mentioning the distinct differences that make it inaccurate to label their causes all as “PTSD.” I think it’s all too easy to slap “PTSD” on something and then neglect to look deeper into the cause/motivation.

The cases mentioned are:

1. Fort Bragg, Oct. 27, 1995: William Kreutzer, Jr. opens fire on soldiers at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Random act of PTSD? Not exactly — Kreutzer had been deployed, and he had an obsession with certain killing rampage statistics and was often ridiculed and teased by soldiers. Whether he had psychological issues before deployment or not, he reportedly gave several warnings that he was going to snap and even made a telephone call the morning of the shooting to warn that he was going to open fire. His threat was dismissed because he was deemed a “pussy.” The resulting event is as much the consequence of ignoring serious threats and ridiculing as a person who had serious psychological issues.

2. Camp Pennsylvania, March 23, 2003: U.S. Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar launches a grenade attack on fellow soldiers sleeping in tents, then fires his rifle as troops wake up from the attack. Akbar was with troops in Kuwait. He had a documented history of mental illness, and he also reportedly felt extremely ridiculed by his fellow soldiers. His story mimicks Kreutzer’s in that both men had a history of mental illness that seemingly began before deployment, and both were mistreated by their fellow soldiers. Akbar shared something with Nidal Hasan, in that he was Muslim and torn about the thought of killing fellow Muslims.

3. US. National Guard Headquarters in Tikrit, Iraq, June 7, 2005: Two soldiers are killed when a claymore mine detonated in the window of the room where they were playing the game Risk, and Sgt. Alberto Martinez is originally charged with the crime. Martinez was eventually acquitted of the charges, but there was no mention of PTSD in the prosecution or defense’s arguments. The prosecution focused on Martinez’s rocky relationship with one of the victims, Capt. Phillip Esposito, in which arguments between the two were witnessed by many before they were deployed to Iraq. The defense argues that the evidence in circumstantial. No one mentions PTSD, although the possibility of a mental disability such as Martinez being mentally retarded is mentioned. It’s also hard to say PTSD is the root of this attack because no one was ever convicted, and it’s dangerous to assume Martinez was the person responsible even though he was not found guilty of the crime.

4. Tinker Air Force Base, Feb. 25, 2008: Dustin Thorson kills his two children after an altercation with his estranged wife, Michelle, and then kills himself. This is the first case of PTSD that I found in the list of the authors’ supposed PTSD cases. Thorson was deployed to Iraq from July to October 2006 and had PTSD, and it is likely that his irrational and tragic response to an angry argument with his wife is because of his PTSD. He returns to combat mode and responds to a difficult situation the best way he knows how, using threats and eventually violence.

5. Camp Liberty, May 11, 2009: Sgt. John Russell gets into a fight at a clinic in Camp Liberty in Iraq, stole a weapon from a fellow soldier and went back to the clinic and opened fire. Five soldiers were killed. This is another more relevant case involving PTSD, as Russell was seeking counseling and was on his third tour of duty in Iraq. He believed he was being run out of the military, but the case is so recent that details aren’t as prevalent as the aforementioned cases.

What we can learn from putting these five cases under a microscope, and also the Fort Hood shooting, is that it’s not as easy as blaming incidents on PTSD and ignoring other important factors. The fear of having to choose between your religious identity and national identity, and possibly kill people who don’t share your citizenship but share your religious beliefs, is not PTSD, but it’s a valid concern that can’t be swept under the rug.

Feeling like an outsider and being ridiculed to the point of no return is reminiscent of the motive behind many school shootings, and it’s a plausible motive for a few of the shootings mentioned in the Crimson’s op-ed. You can claim PTSD, but you’re ignoring the hypermasculinity of the military, the way that threats are taken as non-issues and the fact that PTSD is not a synonym for all psychological issues.

The interesting thing about the fourth and fifth cases is that both men were deployed to Iraq and committed murder in fits of rage after arguments, immediately resorting to violence. One in five soldiers who returns from Iraq reports symptoms of PTSD, and the Crimson is right to shed light on this topic because soldiers are being sent on multiple tours of duty, which only reinforces their PTSD and makes it more difficult to separate themselves from a combat lifestyle.

In sum, I think it’s irresponsible to focus on PTSD as the sole issue while ignoring other factors in incidents when soldiers attack their fellow soldiers. It’s a scapegoat that allows people to ignore other possible motives, and ignoring other motives could be detrimental to preventing future soldier-soldier attacks not motivated by PTSD. Giving Nidal Hasan’s religion attention is not an attempt to disgrace all Arab-Americans or Muslims, but rather it’s an appropriate step in understanding Hasan’s motivations as a whole.