Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An End to the 40 Days for Lies

This is a bit delayed, but the 40 Days for Lies ended on Sunday, March 28th. Last time I wrote about the 40 Days for Lies, quite a few anti-abortionists claimed that "it's not about harassment! All we do is pray!" or "40 days for life (sic) is a peaceful protest".

While it may be true that some of the protesters for the 40 days for lies are "just praying", and while it may be trust that some of them may have good intentions, that doesn't make the whole campaign any better. Their good intentions do not make the environment any less hostile, for the patients or for the doctors. Their good intentions do not mean that they aren't bringing a dangerous amount of attention to doctors. The good intentions of some protesters do not minimize the fact that this campaign is a hurtful one, whose main purpose is to harass women.

If the 40 days for lies campaign were just about praying for women who would have abortions, they would stay at home and pray. However, they choose to "pray" at the clinics. The reason? They want to make a presence. They know that making a presence will scare patients. They know that making a presence at abortion clinics will threaten doctors. It's not about life. It's not about helping people.

Some words about the 40 days for lies, from Dr. Warren Hern.

"We cannot use the front entrance of my office, and we can't use the front driveway exit of my office with the demonstrators present," Dr. Hern said. "My friend and colleague Dr. George Tiller was shot by a "peaceful" anti-abortion demonstrator in August, 1993 as he drove out of his office driveway in Wichita, Kansas in an assassination attempt." Shelley Shannon, the woman who shot Dr. Tiller, wrote to Dr. Hern from Kansas state prison telling him, "You're next."

Dr. Tiller was assassinated in church last May 31, 2009 by Scott Roeder, who has been convicted of first degree murder.

"The anti-abortion protesters in front of my office terrorize me, my staff, and my patients. 35 years of anti-abortion violence and assassinations have taught us that there is no such thing as a 'peaceful' anti-abortion demonstration. Every single act of violence, every single clinic bombing, every single assassination and murder by anti-abortion fanatics has been preceded by 'peaceful' demonstrations and 'prayer vigils,' Hern said. "This is target identification for anti-abortion assassins. The mere presence of the demonstrators is, as far as we are concerned, a 'threat of force' because of the history of anti-abortion violence," said Hern.

"The '40 Days For Life' demonstrators and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church is giving Boulder an unwarranted international reputation for anti-abortion fanaticism," Hern said. "The priest is orchestrating this medieval madness."

"The Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church was involved in the disgraceful theft of fetal ashes from my patients from different religious traditions for burial in the church cemetery on January 22, 2005, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade," Hern said. "This was outrageous political and sectarian exploitation of personal tragedy and willful violation of the privacy and personal grief of my patients," said Hern.

Dr. Hern is right. There is no such thing as a "peaceful" anti-choice protest. Killing doctors and taking away liberty will never be peaceful.

Also, please remember that, even though the 40 days for the harassment of women is officially over, a lot of clinics still need your help. It's not to late to volunteer to escort!

Be Like A Bird

Okay, straying away from the bodily autonomy/reproductive justice focus a little bit..

For those of you who don't know, Gabby (the parrot in my picture) died recently. This post is dedicated to her.

Some days, I beat myself up for being too ugly, or too short, or oddly proportioned, or for having an ugly face, or for having big feet, or for having frizzy hair, or for having a lot of scars. I'm sure a lot of you do the same.

But what's the point? What's the point in beating yourself up for the body that God gave you?

On days that I beat myself up for my assets that are less than perfect, I try to remember Gabby. I had a perch in my bathroom where I let her sit on while I was taking my morning shower. Her favorite thing about waking up was the fact that she got to sit in front of the bathroom mirror and stare at the most beautiful bird in the world for half an hour. She never beat herself up for not being skinny enough, or for having a bad feather day, or for having a little bald spot. She was beautiful, and she knew it! My other birds are like this, too. Don't they have amazing attitudes? Whenever I have a bad self esteem day, I'm going to strive to be like a bird.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

10 Reasons Why Choice is a Good Thing

There are a lot of reasons why having choice is a good thing. Here are a few:

1. Without choice, women will never be respected.

For years, feminists and other women's rights activists have been fighting against the objectification and dehumanization of women. Without respect for our basic reproductive freedoms and bodily autonomy, women are not respected at all.

2. Forcing women through pregnancies forces them into poverty.

When a woman is already poor, a forced pregnancy is the last thing that she needs. 60% of women who have abortions already have at least one kid, and many of those women are struggling to take care of the kid(s) that they have.

3. It's harder for women to escape abusive relationships without choice

If the anti-choice movement were to get its way, birth control would be illegal. Many women who are in abusive relationships, in which they may be constantly raped or coerced into unprotected sex, rely on more discreet forms of birth control in order to avoid being constantly pregnant. Also, if a woman in an abusive relationship does get pregnant, forcing her to have a child could trap her further. She may feel helpless, and she may feel like that must stay with her abusive partner for the sake of the child. Either way, taking away choice is extremely harmful to those who are in abusive relationships.

4. Choice protects women's health

Whether it's the choice to have a VBAC, to breastfeed, or to have an abortion, choice is essential to women's health. The anti-choice movement deprives women of their reproductive freedom, and they make no exceptions for the health the woman.

Fun fact: I recently learned that previous c-sections increase a woman's risks of serious injury during an abortion. Looks like all reproductive rights are related to each other!

5. If the right to choice goes, then other rights will follow suit.

If we let the anti-choicers win this fight, then it's not only the right to abortion that will go. If they can take away our bodily autonomy, then they can take away the right to birth control, the right to VBAC, trans rights, the right to breastfeed in public, gay rights, etc. The list is endless.

6. Who doesn't want more options?

I mean, really! If I get pregnant, I don't want to feel as if the only two options I have are to 1) go through the pregnancy or 2) risk killing/maiming myself by attempting a DIY or back-alley abortion. Even if I decided to go through the pregnancy, it's something that I'd want to do out of my own free will. Not because I had to. Wouldn't you want that same freedom?

7. Without choice, there is no liberty.

Taking away reproductive rights is taking away an essential part of women's liberty. Anti-choicers are trying to enslave women with their own pregnancies. The message that they're sending out to women is "Do what I tell you to. If you don't, then you are a selfish, immoral, baby killing slut."

8. Outlawing abortion is discriminatory against poor women.

If abortion becomes illegal, privileged, rich women will be able to obtain safe abortions by traveling to other countries. Poor women, however, will be forced to either carry the pregnancy to term or attempt an unsafe abortion on their own. This ties back into my previous post. Why should rich women have the right to abortion, while less privileged women don't?

9. Choice saves women a lot of emotional pain.

An excerpt from a piece by Kathryn Joyce, called Shotgun Adoption.

Jordan was isolated in the shepherding family's house; her only social contact was with the agency, which called her a "saint" for continuing her pregnancy but asked her to consider "what's best for the baby." "They come on really prolife: look at the baby, look at its heartbeat, don't kill it. Then, once you say you won't kill it, they ask, What can you give it? You have nothing to offer, but here's a family that goes on a cruise every year."

Jordan was given scrapbooks full of letters and photos from hopeful adoptive parents hoping to stand out among the estimated 150 couples for every available baby. Today the "birthmother letters" are on Bethany's website: 500 couples who pay $14,500 to $25,500 for a domestic infant adoption, vying for mothers' attention with profuse praise of their "selflessness" and descriptions of the lifestyle they can offer.

Jordan selected a couple, and when she went into labor, they attended the birth, along with her counselor and shepherding mother. The next day, the counselor said that fully open adoptions weren't legal in South Carolina, so Jordan wouldn't receive identifying information on the adoptive parents. Jordan cried all day and didn't think she could relinquish the baby. She called her shepherding parents and asked if she could bring the baby home. They refused, chastising Jordan sharply. The counselor told the couple Jordan was having second thoughts and brought them, sobbing, into her recovery room. The counselor warned Jordan that if she persisted, she'd end up homeless and lose the baby anyway.

"My options were to leave the hospital walking, with no money," says Jordan. "Or here's a couple with Pottery Barn furniture. You sacrifice yourself, not knowing it will leave an impact on you and your child for life."

The next morning, Jordan was rushed through signing relinquishment papers by a busy, on-duty nurse serving as notary public. As soon as she'd signed, the couple left with the baby, and Jordan was taken home without being discharged. The shepherding family was celebrating and asked why Jordan wouldn't stop crying. Five days later, she used her last $50 to buy a Greyhound ticket to Greenville, where she struggled for weeks to reach a Bethany post-adoption counselor as her milk came in and she rapidly lost more than fifty pounds in her grief.

When Jordan called Bethany's statewide headquarters one night, her shepherding mother answered, responding coldly to Jordan's lament. "You're the one who spread your legs and got pregnant out of wedlock," she told Jordan. "You have no right to grieve for this baby."

Forced/coerced adoption isn't the only problem. Forcing a woman through a pregnancy can cause a tremendous amount of pain for her, and it can scar her for life. Many women experience depression after having c-sections, particularly if those c-sections were forced. The less choices women have, the more pain they are likely to experience.

And last, but not least:

10. Choice saves lives.

Choice saves women's lives. It's true. You can deny every illegal and unsafe abortion that has ever happened, but as long as women are deprived of choice, women die.

What are some things that you like about choice?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The "Pro-Choicers" Who Force Birth

As I'm sure you all know, health care reform passed recently. The health care reform battle has triggered a lot of debates concerning abortion, and people everywhere have been sharing their opinions. To my dismay, some of these people, who call themselves pro-choice, have actually been supporting Stupak and his attempts to dump abortion coverage from health care reform. The question that I have for them is this; why?

Pro-Choice: The belief that all people should have the right to decide what is going to happen to his or her body, particularly as it pertains to pregnancy. I would hope that all pro-choicers would agree on this definition. The thing is, without access to abortion, the legality of the procedure is meaningless. Operation Rescue knows this, that's why they're trying to exterminate abortion providers. Stupak knows this, that's why he tried to eliminate all federal funds for abortions during the health care reform battle. Anti-choicers know this piece of information, and they're using it as a weapon to eliminate women's rights. However, are pro-choicers aware of this fact?

I would say that, for the most part, pro-choicers are aware of the fact that, without access, the right to abortion means nothing. However, it seems as if a good number of self proclaimed pro-choicers either don't realize this or don't care. These "pro-choicers" say that they support the legality of abortion, but only if the woman has a good enough reason, or only if this is her first abortion, or only if she's not using it as "birth control". The types of "pro-choicers" that I'll be writing about today are the ones who support the legality of abortion, but do not support the funding of abortion.

I'll say it again. Without access, the right to abortion is meaningless. There are a lot of women that, if they had to, could get by and have an abortion without financial assistance from outside sources. For me and for many of you that are reading this, $400 dollars isn't that much to pay. We would be able to pay for an abortion out of our own pockets.

If you are one of those people, then you are privileged.

Many other women aren't as privileged as you are. Many women have to keep on rescheduling their appointments, over and over again, because they can never gather up enough money. This poses as a major problem because, as you know, abortions become more expensive (not to mention more risky!) as the pregnancy goes on. Some women have to skip meals, or skip out on paying their rent for the month. Some women can't afford a hotel and are forced to sleep in their cars because of the anti-choice mandatory waiting periods. Others can't afford a safe abortion at all, and have to resort to going to unsafe clinics like Dr. Gosnell's clinic. Some take the matters into their own hands, and throw themselves down a flight of stairs, or ask their boyfriend's to beat them up in order to induce a miscarriage. To those who are "pro-choice" but do not support the funding of abortions, I ask you; what of those women? What of their choice?

I was talking to one of these "pro-choicers" on Twitter, and I asked her about those women. I asked her what a woman should do if she can not afford an abortion. Her answer? "if you can't afford an abortion, then you are going to have a baby. Period."

How the hell is that pro-choice?

That woman is "pro-choice", but only for the people are are privileged enough to be able to afford an abortion. Otherwise, she isn't much different from anti-choicers. She supports forcing women through pregnancies. What's pro-choice about that?

To all of the pro-choicers out there, you can donate to an abortion fund here. Please fight for the right to choose, even for women who are not as privileged as you are.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I'm Pro-Choice

This will be my first post to the Abortion Gang, started by our lovely @IAmDrTiller from Twitter. I'm excited to join XD

I wish I could tell you some dramatic story about how I became pro-choice. I wish I could tell you a story of an illegal, botched abortion, or a story of an experience that I had with abortion or with a pregnancy. I wish I could tell you a story that might make you cry. I wish I could tell you of one life-changing, significant event that led me from being an anti-choicer to a pro-choice activist.

The truth is, I can't.

My anti-choice to pro-choice transformation did not occur because of a single event. It was a process. I started out as an anti-choicer in my early teens. I believed that, if a woman or girl was "slutty" enough to get pregnant, that she should have to go through the pregnancy. I did not have a tiny bit of compassion for the woman in the situation. It was more about punishment for having sex than anything else. I don't even think I cared about the embryo very much, if at all. In other words, I was a typical anti.

My transition was big learning experience, As I matured, I learned of compassion. As I learned to be compassionate, and as I learned to love people, my views in regards to abortion became more and more liberal. I came to recognize the fact that a person owns hir body, regardless of what is living inside of it. I learned that each person who has an abortion has her own story in life, and that story deserves to be heard. It deserves to be listened to, and not judged. I learned that pregnancy is not a black and white issue. Women are human beings and, just like any other human being, they are capable of making mistakes. I learned that it's not my place to judge and to blame people, but to listen and to educate as well as I can. By the age of 16 or 17, I became a pro-choice activist (or as much of an activist that I could have been with restrictive, anti-choice parents). I do not think that it's a coincidence that, as soon as I learned to love people, I became pro-choice.

So, why am I pro-choice? Because I trust women. Why do I trust women? Because I trust and love humanity. It's that simple.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things I Love About Being Pro-Choice

Things I love about being pro-choice:

1) All of the sweet, loving, caring, funny and intelligent people that are on my side. I love you guys and gals!

2) The fact that our side is not the side that is known for terrorism.

3) Knowing that I'm on the side that has more people who support rape victims, trans people, homosexual and bisexual people, people of color, and other disadvantaged or minority groups.

4) Knowing that the majority of my fellow pro-choicers really do care.

5) Knowing that I won't ever have to look a terrified pregnant woman in the eye and say "I do not support giving you a choice".

6) Knowing that, if I get pregnant, my peers will not only support my right to abortion, but my right to pregnancy, adoption, parenting, natural birth, home birth, etc.

7) My pro-choice friends won't try to shame me for my sexuality.

8) I know that I'm helping people, and I love it.

9) I can say, with absolute certainty, that I chose the belief that truly respects life, liberty, and bodily autonomy.

10) If I end up having daughters, and one of them ends up pregnant, I will be able to say "I want you to do what's best for you. I support your choice, regardless of which choice you pick."

Those are just a few things. What do you love about being pro-choice?

How to Prevent Rape

If you are a woman, you have most likely grown up hearing people give you a long, long, list of things that you should/should not do in order not to get yourself raped. This list includes:

1) Not wearing a short skirt.
2) Not taking walks without a male friend with you.
3) Taking self defense classes.
4) Not drinking alcohol or doing drugs (not because of the health risks, JUST so you don't get yourself raped)
5) Not leaving your drink alone.
6) Avoiding certain hairstyles.
7) Avoiding wearing heels.
8) Not wearing a low cut blouse.
9) Carrying pepper spray with you.
10) Not living by yourself.
11) Refraining from passing out during a party.
12) Not flirting with a person who you aren't willing to have sex with.
13) Not dancing with a person who you aren't willing to have sex with.
14) Maintaining your virginity.
15) Not walking in certain ways.

and if you don't follow that list, well then, it's your fault anyway! You didn't get raped, you got yourself raped!

A lot of the people who tell women how to not get raped claim that they aren't blaming the victims. They claim that, even though it's not technically the victim's fault if she didn't follow all of the rules as to how not to get raped, it's still a woman's responsibility to learn all of these rules in order to prevent her own rape. A lot of them may not straight out blame the victim for her own rape, but will do so indirectly by putting the responsibility of preventing rape on her shoulders, as opposed to rapists' shoulders.

Aside from rape and some other hate crimes, like the assault and murder of trans people, I am not aware of any other crimes that people try to end by giving the responsibility of ending it to the victims. We don't tell people that they shouldn't drive in order to avoid getting hit by drunk drivers. We tell people not to drive while drunk. We don't tell people not to dress like they're rich in order to avoid getting robbed. We tell people not to steal. It's that simple. The responsibility of preventing rape should be completely focused on teaching people, men and women alike, to respect each others bodily autonomy and on teaching people the meaning of consent. Consent is not silence or a "well.. I guess". Consent is an enthusiastic YES! Consent doesn't mean that one person is just laying there, staring at the wall blankly. Consent is when both partners are very much engaged. Our society has this idea that, unless a woman is screaming for the other person to stop and is using a lot of physical force, that she has consented and it's okay for the man to go on. That is not what consent is.

It's obvious that we have a major problem on our hands, when it comes to rape and assault. One of the biggest problems is that we're attempting to prevent rape in the wrong way. We're taking a bad approach. Instead of giving women a long set of rules on how to not get rape, I propose that we ditch those rules and give people a long set of rules on how to prevent rape. Here's my list.

How to prevent rape

1) When your partner says no, s/he means no. S/he does not mean "wait a few minutes, then try again".

2) When your partner says no, don't say "aww, why? It's not that bad, I promise! I'll go easy on you!" Instead, say something like "Okay. Maybe we should cuddle instead!"

3) Understand that, if you are not 100% sure that your partner wants to have sex, that you need to stop and ask hir* if s/he is okay with it. If s/he says anything but a very confident "yes", then STOP.

4) Refrain putting drugs in people's drinks that will make them pass out so you can rape them.

5) Understand that, if a person is unable to consent (underage, asleep, passed out, drunk) that, if you have sex with hir, it is rape.

6) When your friend says "Hey, there's some passed out chick upstairs. I had my turn with her, go have fun!" do not rape the girl who is passed out. Instead, CALL THE POLICE.

7) Refrain from intentionally getting someone drunk so you can take advantage of hir.

8) Do not use language that objectifies and dehumanizes women. Doing this sets up a climate in which rape may be seen as "okay".

9) Do not blame people for being raped. Ever. Understand that it is ALWAYS 100% the rapist's fault, and that .

10) Understand that, if a person is a sex worker, then it's not okay to rape hir.

11) Understand that, if a person is walking alone at night, then it's not okay to rape hir.

12) Understand that, despite the clothing that a person is wearing, it's not okay to rape hir.

13) If your partner changes hir mind in the middle of any sex act, do not continue!

14) If your friends are rape apologists, try to educate them. If they still insist on defending rape, ditch the friendship.

15) If your so-called "friend" tells you that s/he raped someone, call the police.

16) Ditch the standard rules on how to prevent rape, because they are misdirected. Teach your friends and family rules that work.

If you have any other ideas, feel free to post them in the comments! :)

*gender neutral pronoun

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

Today is the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.

Providing abortions can be a dangerous job. Abortion doctors aren't like other doctors, in the sense that other doctors don't usually deal with protesters, receive death threats, or survive murder attempts. Abortion providers risk their lives, and prior events have shown us that this risk is very real.

The first abortion provider assassinated in the U.S. was killed today, in 1993. Other murders and murder attempts followed, along with other acts of terrorism such as arson, bombings, and kidnappings, all because these doctors are saving women's lives. Abortion providers are forced to alter their lives in order to protect their own lives, the lives of their families, and the lives of the clinic staff. Simple activities that you and I take for granted, like looking outside of a window, can prove to be dangerous for our providers, as Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder Colorado expresses in this excerpt of the article called "Free Speech That Threatens My Life"

The news of James Kopp’s arrest in France for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian reached me just as I finished performing an abortion for the last patient of the morning. My relief was tempered by the news of the previous day: A judgment against anti-abortion fanatics who want me and other doctors killed had been overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in California.

The previous afternoon, as I sat by a window in my office talking with a reporter about the appellate court decision, I noticed that the Venetian blinds were slightly open. Without interrupting the conversation or thinking about it, I reached over to close the blinds. That has become my response when I find myself by an open window. I move away, draw the curtains or close the blinds.

It’s too dangerous for me to be in front of a window. Five shots were fired through the waiting room windows of my office in 1988. But I learned the need to be cautious most intensely in October 1998 as I watched in horror the reports of Dr. Slepian’s assassination in the kitchen of his home in western New York.

Whoever shot Dr. Slepian accomplished his purpose – to strike terror into my heart. It was an act of political terrorism, as have been the assassinations and attempted assassinations of 10 other abortion doctors and several similar attacks, also sometimes fatal, on others who helped abortion doctors or were with them.

It is unusual now for me to lift the coverings of windows in my home so I can see out. I have a nice view from my home of the famous Flatirons mountains that rise above Boulder, but it is a luxury now to enjoy that view.

As my life is now, the windows cannot be uncovered at night. Sometimes I look into the homes of my neighbors and see them moving about and relaxing with their families. My office is a fortress of steel fences and bulletproof windows, and my home has become a hiding place from which I emerge and hope that I will not be the next assassin’s target.

At the very least, we owe our providers a simple "thank you", don't you think?

I propose that we make every day a day to appreciate our abortion providers. When you meet an abortion provider, say thank you for all of the work that they do. You can send them flowers, call the clinic to show your appreciation, or, if possible, donate money. These are all very small sacrifices compared to what they sacrifice for the right to liberty. If you haven't already, you can show your appreciation for abortion providers here.

Without abortion providers, the legality of abortion is meaningless. Thank you, abortion providers, for making liberty possible!

Monday, March 1, 2010

How Pro-Choice Are You?

This is a response to this blog post at The Abortioneers. This is a survey that works to clarify your values. I loved this post, and I think the "survey" is a great idea. As Abortioneers said, you can take it to your friends, workplace, etc. I thought it'd be a cool idea to get people to publish blog posts with their responses. Here are my responses:

Do you Agree or Disagree with the following statements:

1. Every woman has the right to choose to terminate a pregnancy regardless of when during the pregnancy.

2. Abortion should be allowed even beyond 24 weeks of pregnancy.

3. Parental consent should be required for any teen under the age of 18 requesting an abortion.

4. Women who have more than 5 abortions are irresponsible.

5. Women who have more than 10 abortions are irresponsible.

6. Women should not use abortion as a form of birth control.
-Disagree. I've never heard of or met a woman that uses abortion as birth control (although antis make it out to seem like all women who have abortions are using it as BC), but it's not my place to tell a woman what she should or should not do. If a woman really wants to use abortion as BC (again, I've never heard of that woman), then that's her right.

7. I think reproductive health advocacy organizations should promote the use of emergency contraception in order to decrease the number of abortions in the US each year.
-Agree. However, it's not about reducing abortions for me. It's about reducing unintended pregnancies.

8. I feel uncomfortable if a woman has an abortion because of the gender of the pregnancy.
-Disagree. I may disagree with her reason for having an abortion, but it's her right. However, I think it's very important to ask how much of a choice the women really have in these situations. In countries that value women so little that female-sex-selective abortions are commonplace, how much is her right to choice respected?

9. Male partners should have the right to be a part of the decision to terminate a pregnancy.
-Disagree, unless he's the one that's pregnant!

10. I think a woman's right to choose to have an abortion is an absolute and inalienable right no matter what.

One more activity to sit with is an open-ended finish the sentence:

1. Abortions are: blessings.

2. Women who have abortions are: normal people.

3. A woman facing an unwanted pregnancy needs to: think through her options and choose what's best for her.

4. In this country, abortion should be: safe, legal, accessible, and free.

5. People working to restrict abortion should: shift their efforts to a good cause.

6. People working on behalf of women's right to choose should: speak up, make some noise!