On Doing the Righteous Thing: A Guest Post

3 Dec
This is a guest post by Lindsey Ellefson. Lindsey is a 22-year-old transplant to New York City who moved from North Dakota, which was voted the Worst State for Women in 2013 by The American Prospect, New York Magazine, and Mother Jones, among others. Growing up in a society so hostile toward women strengthened her resolve to fight for equality. A recent college graduate, Lindsey hopes to become a political reporter and provide facts and insight on the topics that matter, particularly to women and families from all regions and backgrounds. 

 

A few months ago, I was at a big rally for reproductive rights. Unsurprisingly, both sides of the debate were represented. The rally was about birth control coverage, but the anti-choice crowd had brought along gigantic, graphic posters of bloody fetuses. (Of course they had. It’s what they do.) Never mind that access to birth control reduces the need for the invasive, surgical procedure they showed up to protest. Never mind that we should have all been there on the same side, advocating for contraceptive coverage, which would meet the purported goals of both sides.

Their confusing, contradicting stance on contraception is de rigueur. There’s less rational thought put into each anti-choice individual’s stances than there is unbridled passion and a fear of not being as passionate as the protester next to them. I respect their devotion to their cause, even if I don’t always think they know what their cause is about.

Like our side of the rally, theirs had a raised platform and a speakers on a rotating schedule who were leading chants. Our side had nurses and presidents of various organizations; theirs looked like a lot of clergy people and be-suited men.  I like events like this because I get to make new friends, yell about things that usually make me feel like yelling when I read about them anyway, and feel like I’m making some sort of difference, even if it is small. Also, I usually get a free t-shirt or something. I was surprised, though, when I heard someone on my side of the rally hiss to a friend, “What could they possibly have to talk about?”

These people had brought disgusting posters and kept trying to sneak across our barrier to hold their signs up alongside ours. One of them had tried to start a hostile, condescending conversation with me about Jesus and, unsurprisingly, he only got more unhinged when I declined to speak with him. Why shouldn’t we regard them with some vitriol?  At the same time, I was shocked to see that my fellow pro-choicers viewed the anti-choice side through such a narrow scope –  as narrow as the anti-choicers view reproductive rights. The anti-choice side may have a view that isn’t necessarily informed by science or practicality, sure, but why diminish them like that?

Why was I feeling so protective? Because I used to be one of them. My friends, my family, my old classmates and coworkers, my neighbors, and almost everyone else I knew back home still is one of them. I was raised in a home, church, and culture where abortion was synonymous with murder. I knew nothing about the procedure, or about science or medicine. I knew that “babies” were being “killed” and somehow our government was letting it happen. I based endless tirades and prayers off of that one idea. Babies were being killed.

There is one clinic in my state that provides abortions. The stigma surrounding even the simplest road trip to the city that houses the clinic on days when it is known that abortions are happening is incredible. It was a dream of mine in high school to ride on a bus with people from my church to stand outside of that clinic and shame women. I imagine, had scheduling conflicts and my parents not intervened, I would have been there, overcome with emotion, crying for those “babies” being “killed.”

When I turned 18, I left my town. I moved to New York. It was just like a cheesy movie wherein the main character finds herself. I lived on a dorm floor where girls I liked and respected were having sex with boys they’d just met at orientation. I got a part-time job at a local store where five of my coworkers were gay. I got to know people whom I would have blindly hated or believed were damned to hell for no other reason than that I was told that growing up. I interacted with them and saw, firsthand, the way ideas like that can ruin their lives.

I value my position, now, as someone who has been actively engaged in the debate from both sides. My upbringing gives me a unique perspective and empathy. At the time, when I was liable to start talking about the “mass infanticide” that our government didn’t want to address, I truly believed I was doing the righteous thing, just as I believe I am fighting for the righteous thing now.

I know exactly what speakers at anti-choice rallies are saying. This in no way means that I believe in it, at all, as it only took a little bit of education and research for me to realize how absurd the entire movement is from a practical standpoint, but I can’t fault them for being emotional, being passionate, being dedicated. Their investment in their cause is no different than ours. They have their rising stars in the movement, they have their publications and blogs.

They’re not unknowable, mysterious monsters with no brain or heart. To assume that they are and to treat them like they are is to give credence to the caricatures they paint of us. We are not heartless murderers bent on destroying life, but we look heartless when we behave that way. We need to lead by example and spend less time tearing them down and more time listening, just like they need to. That is the only way we are ever going to make any real progress.

 

Facing a career in abortion provision in a sexist world

20 Nov

A fellow first year medical student was in my bedroom one evening last week. I was sprawled on my bed, she was sitting in my well-loved-by-humans-and-cats orange velour armchair, bought by my grandmother in 1962 at Sears when firey orange was a reasonable color to use to upholster furniture or paint hallways. I love that chair – it sat under my lofted bed in the attic room I shared with my sister during my childhood, and it came with me to college where it was moved from dorm to dorm through four years, residing with me or with friends in almost every New England state over the summers. It’s not pretty, or new, or fashionable, but I love it. It’s comfortable, it’s familiar, it’s me.

That night we were chatting about the upcoming challenges in our lives: balancing medical school with family and friends, the difficulties of finding time to do the other things we love in life, anticipated academic difficulties. We also found ourselves talking about family and the future, and the conversation moved in the direction of babies. Several of our classmates and friends had recently given birth. We talked of their challenges and the similarities and differences of our lives. As often follows, we talked of our own thoughts on having children.

My disinterest in having my own children is often perceived as pathology, something many women experience. But I find that in particular, everyone has an opinion when they find out these two things about me: that I’m interested in specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, and that I don’t plan to have children of my own. In this instance, my fellow first year latched onto my interest in abortion, taking it as a twisted motivation to prevent others from having children. She questioned my ability to be an impartial compassionate health provider to those who make different reproductive decisions than mine, and mused that patients would be able pick up on my silent judgment of them and their choices.

In addition to the personal hurt this conversation brought, it made me think about having an academic interest in medicine as a woman, the persistent sexism we face in medicine, from institutions, classmates and even friends. Medicine is incredibly hierarchical and conservative, with a past (and often a present) rife with abuses, injustice, and paternalism. Speaking up about these problems is a challenge, and I’ve been finding that it is difficult and exhausting to share my academic medical interests. You can bet that if my answer to the question “what specialty are you thinking about?” was ophthalmology, or pediatrics, or internal medicine, I wouldn’t be required to explain why I’m interested, why it’s important, and why it’s worth a lifetime of academic and professional investment.

I’m sure if abortion provision and family planning didn’t interest me, make me think, or inspire me, there would be something else: cardiology, surgery, infectious disease. And I strive to have an open mind to any subject – I’m sure I’ll make space in my learning and my practice for different things. But if my interests that brought me to medicine were different, I would be a different me. I would seek out different opportunities and partners and educational experiences. But this is me – I have an orange velour arm chair, and I have a legitimate, rigorous academic interest in becoming an abortion provider.

The Knick’s Moral Argument For Abortion: A Guest Post by Harry Waksberg

27 Oct

Harry Waksberg is the social media director for LA for Choice and a volunteer with ACCESS (though he represents neither organization here). 

        The Knick’s two characters whose Irish accents haven’t faded, Sister Harriet and Cleary, have an almost romantic comedy vibe. She’s a nun who runs the orphanage connected to the titular hospital; he’s an ambulance driver. Other than their accents, they have in common frequent smoke breaks and a vocal hatred for one another. He reads her as judgmental because she doesn’t like him; he’s constantly sexually harassing her, and there seems to be no depth to the unseemliness he’ll get involved in. He’s also the only person at the hospital who knows that she performs abortions, in violation of federal law as of 1900, when the series takes place.

        At the top of the series’ fourth episode, “Where’s the Dignity?,” Cleary leaves a bar with a sack of live rats for another man to fight in an underground rat-baiting ring. When he next runs into Sister Harriet, she asks why he’s been so hostile to her lately – more so than usual. He reveals that he knows that she’s performing abortions: “You are what you are. You defy God, and you kill his creations.” He’s disgusted that a woman of faith would perform abortions, but not so disgusted that he’s above blackmailing her: from now on, he’ll bring women to her for 60% of what she makes. Then the show does something I’ve almost never seen on TV: It makes a moral argument for the necessity of safe abortions.

        The A-story of The Knick, if it can be said to have one, revolves around the medical advances being made by the doctors, primarily Thackery and Edwards – Thackery’s been struggling to successfully perform a C-section. In the pilot, he fails, and mother and baby both die within minutes. At the time, maternal mortality rates from pregnancy and delivery-related maladies were almost 1%.

        Later in “Where’s the Dignity?”, Cleary brings a woman to The Knick who’s bleeding profusely. In the operating theater, Sister Harriet immediately identifies where the puncture was likely made, based on her experience of women performing their own abortions. Cleary watches as Dr. Thackery tries and fails to save her life, and immediately begins using the corpse to perform medical experiments. “We’ll find a use for her,” he assures another (male) doctor, and Sister Harriet and the nurse exchange a Look. In the morgue, the hospital manager, Barrow, eyes her body, hoping to sell it and pay down some of his debt, until he’s interrupted by Cleary, who’s ready to bury her, and is bigger. “Do you have any idea what the going price is for a fresh body these days?” Barrow begs. Cleary just stares him down, then steals the woman’s necklace.

        Outside, Sister Harriet is having a well-deserved cigarette. Cleary interrupts her and tells her he’d like to show her something: the makeshift graveyard where they bury the bodies of patients without families. That was Cleary’s first job in America, he explains, and he’s seen more than his share of women dead from botched abortions:

        “The look in that girl’s eyes, the terror. That was too much, even for me.”

        “Now you know why I do what I do for these girls!” she insists.

        “Don’t go justifying your baby-murdering. I still don’t like it. But I won’t see another girl bleeding to death and winding up here.”

        They agree, now, to the partnership (still a 60/40 split, because, he explains, she’s got a better shot in the next life and he needs the help in this one), and say a prayer over the body of the woman who could have used Sister Harriet’s services.

        I’ve watched a few shows with portrayals of abortions – I’ve seen shows where characters get abortions, and ones where characters have miscarriages instead. Some of them deal with the moral question an individual faces. What I’ve rarely seen on television is a morality play about why we need abortions to be safe and accessible – always have, always will.

        I’ve heard from doctors who provides late-term abortions that a challenge of the job is that, for some of them, the procedure can be emotionally difficult. They’re secure and confident in the work they do, but they don’t have an outlet to express things that bother them without feeling like they’re fueling anti-choice rhetoric. Here on The Knick we see the conversion of a character who doesn’t like abortion, realizing how important it is to provide. And a nun is the one who convinces him of its ultimately moral necessity. As she explains in the first season’s finale to a woman to whom she’s giving an abortion, “Don’t you worry, it’s safe.”

My Easy Way Out: A Guest Post by Mel Walters

7 Oct

This is a guest post by Mel Walters. Originally from Nova Scotia, she moved to Ontario in 1997 for work and has lived there for over 15 years. She attended Mount Saint Vincent University where she studied public relations and communications. She is a Federal public servant, and has worked for over 13 years as a policy advisor for Aboriginal Affairs. A firm believer in the importance of addressing all sides of a controversial subject, no matter how hard it is to read or share.  She  lives in Ottawa with her three  daughters.

 

The decision for me was made sitting on the toilet bowl that morning staring down at the double lines of the pregnancy test, it was never about what if I did this, or that or would I keep the baby. I was simply not prepared at 37 and a newly single parent of 3 children, to take on more financial responsibility.

I went to a women’s health centre near where I worked first to determine how far along I was, I was sure I was only a few weeks, in truth, I didn’t feel pregnant, I look the same, no morning sickness that I had with the previous two. I was pretty shocked at the positive result. As I sat in the waiting room, it was the longest wait of my life, I watched the staff and patients all with their own situations and stories…I could not believe I was sitting there, when I think about that day I always feel as though I was looking at someone else, not me, but some stranger sitting there, and I am watching them at a distance.

The results of the ultra sound revealed that I was 24 weeks pregnant, which in Canada means you cannot have an abortion in this country at all. (23 weeks is the cut off) Holding back tears, I remember sitting in the parking lot and trying to figure out what to do next, I called all the clinics in Ontario that might be willing to perform the procedure given how far along I was, one of the places I got in touch with was the Women’s Health Science Centre, I was told to go to Morgentaler Clinic in Ottawa to talk to someone about what my options were and next steps, they had connections to out of country facilities that might be able to help. Both of these clinics helped to guide and confirm my decision. It might surprise people to know that late term abortions done outside of Canada for residents of Ontario referred through the Morgentaler

Clinic are paid for by the Province of Ontario. Until you are faced with the decision you can never fully appreciate the stress and shame you feel. I don’t think that there is any way to mentally prepare yourself for what is involved with a late term abortion, no amount of brochures and literature can capture what is your about to go through, I guess if they shared everything right up front you would never go through with it. Ihave thought about this often since and maybe the reality is your own denial that it’s not going to be all that bad, as for me, I thought I was going to be asleep throughout the whole thing; they said I would be drugged,  right? I was headed to Colorado. My flight was paid for by the Women’s Health Science Centre, they are remarkable and I owe them a debt of gratitude. I think few people know what goes on in these situations, but there is good support and guidance through the whole process. The journey I was headed on is that which you see on the news, headlines of murdered abortion doctors, patients or staff by radical activists directly to the dark horse of Dr. Warren Hern. He is in his 70’s and runs and owns abortion clinic in Colorado, there are no pre-tenses or sugar coated names on his sign,it is very obvious what the clinic is and what happens within it.

Unlike a typical D&C abortion, this is a 3 day procedure, 2 and 3rd trimester abortions take 3 days to prepare and ultimately expel the fetus at the end, you are basically giving birth, you are not drugged or asleep, you are fully awake and lucid. There are risks here for something to go wrong only no one tells you that when you’re trying to make a decision to have a late term abortion. You get the risks are very minor speech, but the reality, is that the procedure itself, what is it is…is awful. I can offer this piece of advice; this is not a decision for the faint of heart or for someone who is not sure they want to end their pregnancy. This procedure will rock the core of your moral compass and test every level of your humanity.

The short medical version of what occurs is this: the fetal heart is stopped the first day; you get an ultrasound to determine the gestational age of the baby. Then, with the aid of the ultrasound to guide a lethal dose Digoxin is injected into the baby’s heart directly through the abdomen. Digoxin gives the baby a fatal heart attack. After the Digoxin injection, the woman’s cervix is packed with laminaria, thin tampon-like sticks made of seaweed that expand the cervix gradually over the next day. In the meantime, you are walking around with a dead baby in your stomach, I am not sure if one can imagine what that must be like, and I am not sure if I can clearly explain it, but it is the most horrible feeling, you feel very guilty and relieved and the same time, but it’s like a dream and a nightmare. I now know why you sign to ensure you will be back, that first day, that injection is so traumatic you r just want to go home and never return. You think, if that was the first day can you imagine what will happen on days 2 and 3? 1st day and the last day are the worst of the 3 days. The 3rd day is mentally confusing and it is very very painful. Once I was done, I went to the recovery room for observation, but this is when things went horribly wrong.

Everything that happens in the extreme case of this procedure basically happened to me, I became the minority statistic of the worst thing that could happen… I was hemorrhaging and I was slowly losing consciousness. When I awoke, I was in the inside of an ambulance with a paramedic asking me questions: ”Was this voluntary abortion?” What does that even mean,  I was thinking, but couldn’t quite get the words out. I managed to croak out a feeble “yes” and the paramedic’s face went odd, as though the game had changed, but I wasn’t sure what game I was a part of.

I was on my way to a nearby hospital, there was a lot of confusion in that first 15-20 minutes I got to the emergency room, but what I remember distinctly was one of the nurses asking “why did you do this to yourself?” I just couldn’t get my mind and my mouth to work at the same time, but right from that moment, I knew that I would need to be on my guard and that I would be telling my story a lot before this nightmare was over!

I was given a mild pain killer to ease the pain I was in, the gynecologist assigned to my case, finally came in wearing an amused look on her face, resembling something that looked a lot like “I told you so” directed at Dr. Hern, there was a clear lack of disrespect for Dr. Hern and in my hazy drugged up self, even I could see how horrible he is treated by his own peers. She seemed to be insinuating that he was the cause of what had happened. The conclusion in their minds was that he had cut/torn something in the walls of my cervix or uterus and this was causing the hemorrhaging. It was later discovered that it was an issue with my uterus; it would not contract as it is supposed to after labour, it fully dilated and remained that way, and the blood clots that formed from loss of blood were now blocking its ability to retract properly. Fully awake at this point, the gynecologist decided she would remedy this by reaching up inside my very raw/sore uterus; pull out blood clots, one after the other! The pain was excruciating and when it was all said and done, I lost over 5 units of blood! The bottom line is that I could have died from this procedure that day. It took me over a year to get my hemoglobin and iron levels back; I was off work for over 5 weeks!

I was transferred to the cancer ward, not gynaecology, to the maternity ward with cheery walls adorned with teddy bears and pastel colors, but to white stale walls similar to most hospital decor. I was told it was to protect me from all of the babies I would be able to hear on the ward, nursing mothers and all of that. I would later learn it was because of the head nurse on the maternity ward would not allow me on the floor, a volunteer counsellor who came to talk to me informed me of what was going on, a direct quote…” I don’t want her on my floor, or any patient of Dr. Hern, I don’t care if she bleeds to death!” I now realized the game I was a part of, I was caught up in the medical controversy, in which I was the pawn.

At this point I was exhausted, and just wanted to close my eyes, but not before the nurse assigned to my case, would ask why I came all the way from Canada for this kind of procedure. So as I had done several times that day, I repeated my tale. She was nice enough and seemed sympathetic…except for her last comment, “Yes it is a difficult situation, my daughter had a similar situation, but she kept her baby.”

The next morning, Dr. Hern tried to convince me to stay another night before heading home. I told him that there was no way I was spending any more time here. I did not feel safe or welcome and I would take the risk and head back to Canada. The gynecologist, who had de-clotted me the evening before, came into the room to check on me, provide take home meds and let me know that I could and should get a blood transfusion. I refused, and against medical advice, I headed to the airport, I could barely walk, and it was an hour drive to the airport followed by two plane changes to finally get home to Ottawa.

It was a long physical recovery; the mental scars have been a longer journey, and after 4 years I am still working through it. I can’t close my eyes at night without reliving the whole thing again, I still have nightmares! This is experience is truly a two edged sword. However, despite how hard this was for me and the after effects that still linger today, it was still the right decision for me, and I regret nothing. In fact, I would do it again if presented with the same situation, but there is no denying that this was a life changing event! I would’ve been better informed, as I didn’t have much time for soul searching and fact finding. I do feel that clinics need to give patients more informed information, more explanation is needed on late term abortions and what is involved and the possible mental implications that remain years after it is over.

This is not a simple D&C where you are done in 15 minutes and have cramping for a day and you can head back to work the next. The mental feelings after those procedures are raw and emotional to be sure, and although I don’t want to diminish the after effects that come from theD&C procedure, it is in no way close to what occurs in a late term abortion. I think that this is the common misconception; you think it’s going to be similar to a D&C, only its 3 days instead of just one. You get a little lamina and you’re done!

My hope is others will read my story and realize that although this may appear to be a simple solution and I certainly know there are pro-life believers that would like to think that those of us who make the decision to have an abortion are taking the easy way out! I think my story proves quite the contrary. Any abortion and in particular a late term abortion at its basic level requires a lot courage and forgiveness of the human spirit. I hope one day I can be at peace, tell my girls about it when they are ready, but mostly look in the mirror and be able to look at the reflection staring back at me.

 

My Well Being: A Poem by Audrey Voorhees

6 Oct

This is a guest post by Audrey Voorhees. In her words: 

“This piece exemplifies a painful journey with a profound conclusion. Certain our greatest challenges lead us to our deepest questions, I am grateful for the emerging variety of free voices speaking out about abortion and its layers in women’s lives. Having chosen to live openly as an adult survivor of childhood rape and sexual abuse, I now choose to live openly about my abortion, knowing there is connection to be found in our honestly disclosed healing. Thank you for your company in this journey of collective understanding.”

 

My Well Being 

Seems silly, you

interested in my

well- being.

Like asking a pedestrian

you hit

at a cross walk

how she

feels,

late, ill-placed,

How can I take

your concern seriously?

 

When before,

you slowly corroded my boundaries,

cohersion stripping common sense.

“Your rules are causing your confusion,”

you said.

And once close enough

to penetrate,

my unseen wounds-

lenses coloring

all i could see-

we danced

as perpetrator,

as victim.

 

Complimenting my courage,

ignoring my requests,

your mask kept changing.

Divergent public and private faces, advances.

left me wanting,

put you in control,

muffled my intuition.

Employed a naive hope for love

through submission.

 

Longed to be special

enough.

Make you feel about me

a way where you

chase me

into significance,

replace fear with safety,

self doubt with affirmation.

I will be whatever

version of me necessary

to protect the illusion

that no one will

love

all of me.

 

Unqualified you,

unprotected me,

aching lies erupted

unveiling hidden truths

about why I run, resist, most recently invite

men,

building momentum

spinning buzzing numbness

accented with puncture hits.

Awakened to the reality:

 

My first intercourse-

unconsentual,

unneccessary,

bewildered child

unknowingly

a victim.

Uncovered

by you,

replicating

unconsentual,

uneccessery,

bewildered woman

unknowingly

a victim.

Funny how you

seem interested in my well-

being.

 

When you entered without asking,

ejaculated,

bewildered child woman’s supressed thoughts

flooded the scene without warning.

 

When you

suggested we have sex

after I told you

I was pregnant

and scheduled the abortion,

I still

didn’t see

you really standing

in front of me.

 

I didn’t believe any of it was

happening to me

happened to me

you, him…

 

Couldn’t look into the mirror

knowing

I didn’t want the pain of satisfaction for the hungry

who steal and eat the flesh

of others.

Yet somehow

I needed to face the only half

of the story

I had any control over-

Me.

 

What about denial, Audrey?

What about destruction

do I find comfort in?

What about abuse feels more familiar than love?

Big questions

tug at my core,

and not until you evoked

all that muck,

like stirring settled pond water,

did I see the need

to let them rise

to the surface.

 

2 weeks anticipating my misfortune.

2 weeks inhabiting a body carrying life that I never wanted connected to mine.

1 day of relief, and

4 weeks of leaking your stain to rebuild a purified, clarified me.

 

Your version of sex never accounted for my consent

 

While I carry the consequences,

their weight anchors awareness

of my past.

 

And I

don’t know

how to answer

any questions about

My

well- being.

Happy Anniversary, Hyde

5 Oct

Abortions are expensive. A first trimester abortion costs an average of $489. A second trimester abortion at 20 weeks costs an average of $1,500.

So what do you do if you can’t afford an abortion and you definitely can’t afford to raise a child?

If you happen to be one of the 12 million women who depend on Medicaid, or one of the four million who rely on other federal insurance programs, you are in serious trouble, thanks to the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment was passed on Sept. 30, 1976. The Amendment currently bans federal funding for abortion with limited exceptions in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. This funding restriction is most salient for low-income women on Medicaid. As we approach the 38th anniversary of one of the first federal restrictions on abortion access post-Roe vs. Wade, it’s important that we take a moment to look at and reflect upon the social impacts of the Hyde Amendment.

The Hyde Amendment was crafted with the intention of creating systematic barriers for low-income women seeking abortion care, as the bill’s author, Rep. Henry Hyde, noted during a Congressional debate.

The Hyde amendment is simply one of the many laws that systematically target low-income women, denying them the right to self-determination and autonomy. In the context of Hyde, the ability to control one’s own body is withheld as a privilege only for wealthy women who have the money to pay out-of-pocket for abortion care. Low-income women are not only barred from abortion care due to restricted federal funding, but with the hundreds of other state and federal laws that police abortion access, women sometimes have to travel states away and wait days to access care. Between the cost of the procedure and the money spent on physically getting to a provider, abortion is less and less attainable with each passing week of pregnancy.

If federal health insurance won’t cover abortion care, we leave low-income women vulnerable to a cycle of poverty because they are unable to plan their families and lives. In the framework of reproductive justice, forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is wholly a violation of human rights. Reproductive rights are innately human rights, and for the millions of women who depend on Medicaid and other federal programs, such disabled women, Indian American women using Indian Health Services, and federal prisoners, their human rights are being violated.

In the name of abortion rights, human rights, and reproductive justice, it is time to repeal Hyde. Reproductive rights activists often focus on abortion’s legality and physical accessibility (where women can receive abortion care and how far along into a pregnancy the procedure is legal). But the fight for safe and legal abortion means nothing if it isn’t accessible to everyone.

I shouldn’t have to mention that providing coverage for abortion care leads to better economic outcomes for both the women who have abortions and for the institutions that would otherwise have to provide pregnancy and infant care. But for some readers and most politicians, these nuances are what matter most for their public support of repealing Hyde. Sadly, the value of a woman’s life, autonomy, and dignity aren’t always enough to influence policy. Often in a political context, we see financial outcomes superseding socially just policy. Hyde is neither a socially just policy nor an economically sound one.

I currently have $342 in my savings account. If I didn’t admit that having less than $480 makes me nervous, I would be lying.

Like I said, abortions are expensive. But so is the cost of injustice.

So, happy anniversary Hyde. Here’s to another year of classism, sexism, and broad-based discrimination lovingly provided by the United States government.

*This article refers to abortion care patients solely as women, but not all people who have abortions identify as women.

*This article was preivious posted on the Planned Parenthood Generation Action Blog and in the Michigan Daily.

Book Review: ‘One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories’

22 Aug

I was so happy and excited to receonekindwordive a copy of One Kind Word in the mail. I had not heard much about it so was doubly excited to see the faces (and stories) of a few people I knew included in the collection. How lovely to see my wonderful friends’ choices validated – celebrated! – in such a beautiful collection.

One Kind Word is the product of arts4choice, an artistic project by Martha Solomon and Kathryn Palmateer in response to a 2007 Ottawa Citizen article about abortion wait times. The goal is to collect stories of people who access abortion in Canada as part of the ongoing efforts to share stories and in so doing, to combat stigma and normalize abortion as a healthcare choice.

Canada is viewed by much of the world as a progressive haven in regards to abortion access, because we do not have a law governing it and so are therefore seen as having ‘no limits’ on abortion. However, the reality is more complicated: healthcare is provincially mandated, so services are determined more by the political bent of the provincial government than by the lack of federal law. Added to the economic disparity of the provinces are additional barriers that limit access: regional disparity in services, long wait times, long travel times, and systemic inequality and indifference to issues of reproductive health. Canadians are subject to the same stigma and alienation around abortion as are Americans and others around the world; the work of making abortion accessible – and contextualizing it as healthcare – is still important here.

Arts4choice approached the project in an artistic way, illustrating each of the 30+ people’s stories with a black and white photograph of the story teller. The result is a bold, brave, unapologetic presentation similar to the attitude behind imnotsorry.net. Each story teller has different feelings and ideas about her abortion, but even those with ambivalence look straight into the camera as if to say, I am not ashamed of this.

Palmateer’s photography is gorgeous, challenging, and definitely the highlight of the book and what sets it apart from other compilations of this nature. I believe this project would be a compelling visual art exhibit as well, which would perhaps make it accessible to a different demographic. Meanwhile, many of the portraits (and stories) are available to be viewed at arts4choice.com.

In the right context, abortion story-telling can be a powerful tool for activism. This book provides a space for that in a beautiful and stylish way that I greatly appreciated – and will be a great conversation starter on your coffee table!

You can buy the book from Three O’Clock Press.