Archive | March, 2010

Finding the Gospel of my Sisters, or, How to Piss Off Jill Stanek.

31 Mar

Aw, it’s always nice to get some “love” from Jill Stanek and her crew. (Note: Ms. Stanek’s staff has shockingly bowed to reality and put Steph as the rightful founder of the blog. However, I think they chose to quote me for a reason, explained in the response below.)

Quote of the Day 3-31-10

Calling ourselves an Abortion gang means that we are committed to destigmatizing not only abortion care work but also reproductive justice activism. We are dedicated to showing that young men and women care about our bodies, health, and rights. We won’t take anti-choice bull**** no matter how many different ways they spew it.

..I hope that you’ll let us challenge you and that you’ll respect us enough to do the same..

~ Shelby Knox, “self proclaimed Christian” and creator of The Abortion Gang, March 31

The only problem: I didn’t start the blog. It would have taken one minute for Ms. Stanek and staff to do the research to find that out. But as per the anti-choice playbook, facts are casualties to one of several predetermined narratives, this one being that “real” Christians believe forced pregnancy is next to Godliness.
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10 Reasons Why Choice is an Amazing Thing

31 Mar

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.
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Choosing the Abortion Gang.

30 Mar

I’ve received some criticism recently about naming this blog the abortion gang instead of, say, crusaders for reproductive justice or avengers for choice. One person said the focus on abortion makes her uncomfortable, whereas another said she’s not convinced we’re committed reproductive justice.

So it’s time to explain. I first saw the term “abortion gang” used in an article to describe Rep. Bart Stupak and his anti-choice cronies. My first reaction was why does HE get to have an abortion gang? He doesn’t know the first thing about abortion, women’s health, and reproductive justice, to say the least. If there’s anyone who could disqualify from being in an abortion gang, it’s Bart Stupak.

Calling ourselves an abortion gang means that we are committed to destigmatizing not only abortion care work but also reproductive justice activism. We are dedicated to showing that young men and women care about our bodies, health, and rights. We won’t take anti-choice bullshit no matter how many different ways they spew it.
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The Pro-Choicers Who Force Birth.

29 Mar

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.
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Taking Our Rights for Granted: Why My Chinese Cousins Have Kept Me Pro-Choice.

27 Mar

Over spring break, I visited my four cousins.  Two of them look enough like my brother and I to pass as our other siblings.  The other two are adorable girls adopted from China.  My uncle and aunt decided to adopt when they realized they were unable to have children and “too old” to adopt a young child in the United States’ adoption system.  They also are humanitarians who decided to do some good in the world.

So why China, and why girls?  Half the Sky, an organization devoted to making sure children in Chinese orphanages have proper care, estimates that 95% of healthy children in orphanages are female.  The ratio of females to males is leveling out a bit as more families give up children of either gender because of financial hardships, but there are still disproportionately more females than males in the social welfare system.  These girls will not grow up in a “socially acceptable” class, even if they had come from a good family, and therefore will probably not find husbands anywhere but in the lower class.  They will not have the same level of education as children allowed to stay with their families.  Most of them will never know who their parents are.  Some of them, but not many, will be lucky enough to find loving homes in the United States or Europe.

There are many, many girls in the orphanages because of China’s one-child policy.  This policy’s purpose is to control China’s outrageous population growth.  Families incur huge fines for having an illegal pregnancy—that is, one that happens without the couple first asking the government’s permission to have a child that year (and yes, the Family Planning office can tell them no).  Some provinces require women of reproductive age to take a pregnancy test every 2-3 months to try and catch pregnancies early.
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How to (Un)pack for a Real Discussion About Abortion

26 Mar

Heather Corinna, founder of the wonderful sex education website Scarleteen, asked if I wanted to cross-post her excellent analysis written in the wake of the murder of abortion provider Dr. Tiller. How could I say no to a sex-ed celebrity?

The murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller on May 31st, 2009 has resulted in a lot of conversation about abortion. It’s a topic frequently hushed, or spoken about more around its politics than the actual procedure, the experience itself and the real women who have abortions. So this increased discussion is certainly something potentially positive happening because of something horribly tragic. More discussion around anything which is or may be treated as unspeakable is always a good thing.

However, often in these conversations and news stories, language is used that’s confusing or inaccurate, and some statements are made about abortion or women who choose abortion which are false, unrepresentative or misleading. And any of this can come from either “side” of abortion debates or discussions, due to political aims or motivations, ideological ideas or agendas or just out of plain old ignorance. Just like a whole lot of people don’t know the finer points of open-heart surgery, a lot of people just don’t know what goes on with an abortion procedure, especially from a provider’s point of view. If inaccurate, misleading or ideologically-loaded language is being used, or myths are being held as truths, our communication and understanding is always going to be limited. And that’s never a good thing, unless we don’t really want to understand something at all.

Let’s start with a few typical language issues. When the politics of abortion are discussed, often language is used in talking about abortion that doesn’t actually exist in the practice itself, that providers don’t usually use or have any practical use for, and some of which is absolutely meaningless or invented only to try and misrepresent abortion or pregnancy.
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Health Care Reform, Abortion Politics, and Nihilism

26 Mar

It’s been a few days now, but I still start pacing and speaking inappropriately loudly whenever health care reform and abortion coverage comes up. Regardless of what the actual effect of Obama’s executive order turns out to be, we’re still looking at the worst abortion restrictions in some 30 years. Hopes of repealing the terrible Hyde amendment anytime soon took a severe beating, and experts say the Nelson amendment is likely to do nearly as much damage to private insurance coverage for abortion as the Stupak amendment.

Last week Michelle Goldberg made the case that despite this awful rollback of reproductive rights, feminists should still support the bill. I pretty much agree. I’m basically just thankful I’m not one of the 41 pro-choice representatives who pledged not to restrict reproductive rights and then had to go back on their word or vote against a bill that, despite its shortcomings, will give 30 million people health insurance and be “the greatest expansion of the social safety net in a generation.”

But I’m still infuriated about how we got there. As Goldberg writes:

    Anti-abortion forces have had the advantage in this fight because they’re willing to sacrifice the health of millions on the altar of their ideology. Their nihilism gives them leverage.

That the Republicans—who would never in a million years vote for Obama’s fantasy basketball pick let alone his administration’s most important piece of legislation—would engage in this kind of nihilism is, of course, so entirely unsurprising I can’t even be that outraged. Yelling about abortion was just good politics on their part—and if they don’t give a fuck about people’s access to health care in general, I suppose you can’t really blame them for not caring about women’s health.
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Why I Am Pro-Choice.

26 Mar

I am pro-choice because I believe that every person has the right to make decisions about their own body and life. Reading my fellow young women’s stories has empowered me to speak out about reproductive rights more than I ever have in my life.

I, like some of the other gang members, don’t have a moment or big story about why I am pro-choice. I haven’t had an abortion and I know very few women who have. But I have read stories about the tragedy that happens when a woman has no options.

The idea that someone else could make a decision for me that would affect the rest of my life makes my head spin.
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My Stake in Abortion Access.

25 Mar
I’ve wondered, with a lot of women’s sexual issues, why I’m so passionate it? I am not on the pill, and somehow, I don’t think we’ll ever be at a point that condoms will be banned, and in the event that any store pulled a CVS, I like to think I’d have the ovaries to look the cashier dead in the face and say, “I would like a size x box of brand y condoms, please. Thanks.” This is passing over the fact that most health clinics are well stocked with condoms. Banning condoms is just not happening. It’s marginally more likely that women will be barred from buying them, and that too, is highly unlikely. And then even if that did happen, I’d probably don baggy clothes and wear a hat and forego the make-up and beautiful perfume and tell them my name is Virilus Andro Maximus and buy those things. Then I’d offer to do just that for other women for a price, and make some money on the side.Every three years, I buy a dose of emergency contraception, which, knock on wood, won’t actually be useful to me, until it expires, then I replace it (when I’m not actually in need of it). Back in the day, when the FDA knew damn well that it was perfectly safe and effective but was still not approving it for over the counter status, I was a high schooler. I was angry at lawmakers, of course, but I was also wondering, “Why don’t sexually active girls just get a prescription from their doc beforehand, fill it, and stash it to have at the ready if and when they DO need it?”
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Negotiating Reproductive Justice and Choice

24 Mar

I started working in the pro-choice movement my first year in college as an Access Counselor at the Women’s Medical Fund, an abortion access fund that helps women pay for the cost of their abortions through no-interest loans. I was on their hotline 8 to 10 hours a week, giving women these loans and other basic referrals to clinics in the Philadelphia-area. I became more and more pro-choice as I heard stories of women who couldn’t afford to care for another child, who were raped by boyfriends, whose birth control failed, whose pregnancies were not viable. I left work feeling confident that I was doing meaningful, compassionate work, that I was connecting the dots from my women’s studies classes to reality. And then I talked to Tasha*.

Tasha was not only my exact age, we had the same birthday. Like me, she was a strong student, but liked to relax every once and a while and party with girlfriends. She was also a freshman in college, had two younger sisters, and was using the same form of birth control as me.  Yet Tasha found herself in an unpredictable situation. She went to a party, was drugged, raped, and left naked in someone else’s house. When she told me that, I couldn’t speak. Why had that been her instead of me? Why was she pregnant, while my biggest worry was a paper due the next week? I helped Tasha secure the funds for her abortion, but her story haunted me long after I hung up the phone.
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