All posts by foxfire burns

Prop 2: Humane Farms Producing Healthy Food

 In Charlotte’s Web, healthy animals romp around the farm, playing with their families, and enjoying a full life, fearful only of seeing their life reach its end. Many of us grew up believing farms were really like that, the image reinforced by commercials for burger joints and frozen foods. The reality of California’s factory farms, unfortunately, is quite different.

During pregnancy, pigs are locked alone in gestation crates – metal cells only two feet wide. Without enough room to turn around, they often develop joint disorders that leave them unable to walk. They will bite at the metal bars, desperate to escape, but of course they are helpless. Hens on egg farms are crammed into battery cages, never once enjoying the freedom to spread their wings, let alone engage in natural behaviors such as nesting or dust bathing. Veal calves are taken from their mothers, just hours after birth, to live in crates with their necks chained in place, never able to move, held in a single position until the day they are butchered.

The animals’ torment is bad enough, but these conditions produce meat and eggs that threaten consumers’ health. Such stressed animals become sick, and because they are unnaturally crowded together, they spread diseases to one another at an accelerated rate.  

Hens forced by their cramped conditions to defecate on their own eggs produce eggs that can spread Salmonella. More than 50,000 Americans fall victim to this disease every year, and a recent study found that facilities using battery cages were 20 times more likely to be contaminated than those that were cage-free.

As the Center for Food Safety put it, “Extreme intensive confinement can have potentially serious public health and food safety implications and should be phased out as is being done in the European Union.”

Next week, California voters will finally have a chance to see these conditions phased out here. Proposition 2, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and endorsed by an array of consumer health and safety groups, will guarantee, very simply, that all California farm animals get enough room to turn around, stand up, lie down, and stretch their limbs.

This proposal is modest enough. Similar laws have already passed in Arizona, Colorado, and other states. Though factory farms decry this as government regulation that will hurt their profits, many family farms already practice the ethical standards Prop 2 would set. By their success, these family farmers prove it is possible to earn a fair profit while treating animals humanely and protecting consumer safety.

Unfortunately, these ethical farmers suffer a disadvantage when their competitors are allowed to cut corners. The status quo rewards farms that feed us sick and suffering animals, and it punishes farmers who raise animals in a natural, healthy fashion. Prop 2 will solve this. By requiring all farms to raise their animals humanely, Prop 2 will help ethical farmers enjoy more competitiveness while helping consumers find safer food. It is no surprise that more than 100 family farms in California support Prop 2, even while their big-agribusiness counterparts spend millions trying to defeat it.

Bottom line for voters: Prop 2 will deliver healthier food from more compassionate farms. This one deserves to pass overwhelmingly. Please support Prop 2.

And a video made by students:

back alley abortions in CA

It’s 2008, and even in California the religious right is attempting to punish young women for having sex by bringing back illegal abortion. Progressives are starting to fight back, but the bad new is Yes on Prop 4 is still leading.

The last two times they put this anti-choice crap on the ballot, California voters wisely rejected it. This time, people aren’t paying enough attention with so many other races and issues grabbing the headlines.

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CA’s Most Dangerous Initiative

While Prop 8 is getting all the headlines, another initiative, Prop 4, is threatening even greater harm. One reason the threat is so great is that it is getting too little attention.

Prop 4 is another clone of the anti-abortion initiative California rejected in 2005 and again in 2006. The religious right keeps rolling the dice on this because they have nothing to lose and they only need to win one time to start chipping away at Roe v. Wade. For them to win in this huge, pro-choice state would empower the religious right like never before and build momentum to dismantle abortion rights from coast to coast.

2008 may be their year. Polls currently show Yes on 4 leading — but it’s close enough that progressives can defeat it again if we are willing to work.

Prop 4 proposes an abortion restriction most voters find appealing until they think about it. In the past, we’ve been able to get voters to look close and see the dangers. This year, with Prop 8 grabbing the headlines and a Presidential race eclipsing all else, it is harder to get voters’ attention, and it is harder to get campaign volunteers and donations to help us win.

Prop 4: a dangerous initiative

Prop 4 would preclude a safe, legal abortion for anyone under 18 without parental notification. To make this appear more palatable, the authors have written in some bypass options that sound comforting but don’t work in real life. (The main bypass requires a teenager in crisis to single-handedly navigate our court system and track down a sympathetic judge while the clock is ticking. In other states, right-wing judges have abused their power in these cases, humiliating the teenagers and denying every request. But even in the best cases, this judge-hunt causes dangerous delays, making the abortion more complicated.)

Voters feel pulled to support this at first because so many voters are parents who naturally want to be involved in their daughters’ lives. What voters don’t see are statistics showing that, without this law, the overwhelming majority of pregnant teenagers in California choose to involve their parents anyway. A scared, pregnant teenager wants help, and if she can safely turn to her parents, she will. No law is needed for that. The few who do not, however, may have good reason not to; and these are the teenagers Prop 4 would tragically affect.

Phonebanking for No on Prop 4, I recently spoke to a voter who told me why she’s voting no. When she was a teenager, her best friend got pregnant. Adults advised this pregnant youth to talk to her parents about it. Reluctantly, she did so. Soon she was admitted to a hospital, not for an abortion, but for broken bones. If Prop 4 passes, that story will become more common.

Teenagers who cannot tell their parents will be placed in worse danger. Prop 4 will put a medically safe abortion off limits, and it will leave only dangerous alternatives.

These dangers don’t seem to bother the religious right. A few weeks ago, I had a voter calmly tell me that when pregnant teenagers die from back-alley abortions or suicide, they get what they deserve.

Most California voters who see the dangers, however, disagree with that hateful view, and they will vote no on Prop 4. The last two times this was on the ballot, they did. But with so many races and issues competing for attention this year, and with the media reluctant to cover an issue they already covered in 2005 and in 2006, we must work harder to ensure voters remember the dangers.

Donate money or volunteer your time here. Lives are in the balance.