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Surgical Castration in Not the Answer

Surgical Castration in Not the Answer


I don’t usually get very political in my blogs, but every once in a while I just can’t restrain myself.  So, if any of this offends you, please just stop reading and wait till next week when our regularly scheduled programming will return.

In the endless craziness of what’s passing for governance these days, I came across this article in The Guardian Newspaper, which reported that the Louisiana legislature passed a law that gives judges the right to order surgical castration for childhood sex offenders.  The Republican governor is set to sign this into law.

There are so many horrible aspects of this law that I don’t know where to begin.  Let me start by saying that childhood sexual abuse is deplorable. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve unfortunately worked with many women and men who have been sexually abused as a child and it has had huge negative impacts on many parts of their life, especially surrounding their own challenges with sex.

But ordering that someone gets their testicles or potentially ovaries removed since this is a “gender neutral law” (yeah…right) seems to me like cruel and unusual punishment and not necessarily effective either.

You might not have realized, I didn’t until I started digging into this, that several states, including California, Florida, Texas and Louisiana currently have chemical castration laws in place.  But it seems that in the last decade, the courts have rarely ordered chemical castration, although sex offenders sometimes voluntarily request it. Chemical castration, while not without side effects and potential long term health issues, is also not permanent.

I could veer into a whole legal analysis about the problems with this law, and surely it will be challenged on constitutional grounds, but in the world of trauma therapy this is just so reprehensible.

I bet you think that this law was introduced by a right wing Republican man, of which there are many in the Republican majority Louisiana legislature.  But no…a Democratic Female House Member is behind this bill!

And it makes sense because I’d bet that either she or a close family member experienced childhood sexual abuse given how common it unfortunately is.

But here’s the big problem in my mind.  This retributive punishment does not address the root problem of childhood sexual abuse.

We know that between 35-50% of male sex offenders were themselves sexually abused and if you include other types of childhood trauma (physical, emotional, and other types of neglect), that percentage significantly increases.

I’m not saying that sex offenders shouldn’t be punished. Of course they do need to be kept off the streets, but punishment without addressing their underlying trauma, which of course is an issue within our whole justice system, seems to be an ass-backwards approach.

Also, and this is particularly ironic in Louisiana which has one of the highest rates of incest in the country, a vast majority of childhood sexual abusers are close family members, and this abuse often goes unreported.  So really who does this law actually protect?

In other news….don’t believe what they say…. The conservatives are coming for your right to use birth control.  A Washington Post article recently revealed a host of new laws aimed at restricting birth control access, many based on mis-information.

Republican lawmakers in Missouri blocked a bill to widen access to birth-control pills by falsely claiming they induce abortions. An antiabortion group in Louisiana killed legislation to enshrine a right to birth control by inaccurately equating emergency contraception with abortion drugs. An Idaho think tank focused on “biblical activism” is pushing state legislators to ban access to emergency contraception and intrauterine devices (IUDs) by mislabeling them as “abortifacients.”

And just yesterday, U.S. Senate Republicans blocked a bill to establish a federal right to use and have access to birth control.

And this is just the beginning….

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