Archive | March, 2010

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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There is Nothing Wrong with Using Abortion as Birth Control.

24 Mar
After arguing that girls who sleep around deserve to get pregnant, the second worst argument for banning abortions, or making getting an abortion more difficult are those who claim to know women who “use abortions as birth control.”  First of all, yes,  abortions are a form of birth control – obviously.  Assuming that they are referring to women that actually are flagrantly having unprotected sex and having abortion after abortion after abortion (dubious), even so, who are any of us to put a cap on the reproductive assistance other women should receive?  Even if it did make sense to judge another woman’s choices, should a very small minority of women be the deciding factor for whether this medical procedure should be available to the rest of our gender?

Consider:  It’s a well documented fact that a wide variety of household cleaning supplies can be used to get high, damaging brain cells, and even causing death.  I still walk into the supermarket and buy aerosol room freshening spray if I want to.  Should I have to get a license for toilet bowl cleaner or a spray to make my house smell like fresh laundry?  It’s possible to concoct a wide variety of deadly potions using over the counter cold syrup and other medications.  I can still buy most over the counter medications on a shelf, the others are handed to me over the counter – is it reasonable to have to get a prescription for Tylenol?  Some people drive drunk and kill other people – perhaps these same anti-choicers think we should give up driving since some people choose to drive drunk.

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Why I am Pro-Choice.

23 Mar

Simple answer is, why not? Throughout my childhood and coming of age in the 1990s I never realized a woman would think anything other than pro-choice. My interest in politics/current events/women’s issues stems from having two middle class parents trying to provide their family the American Dream. Voting was always an important dinner table topic of conversation and debate over candidates and issues was always encouraged. I never once felt that I couldn’t speak my mind to my family. This open dialogue became a part of me and shaped my world view.

I graduated junior high, high school, and college all in the 90s and I believe growing up under Clinton, the rise of the Riot Grrl movement, and being taught comprehensive sex education shaped my pro-choice beliefs. I went to a typical cookie cutter ex-urb public high school. My health teacher in high school demonstrated how to properly put a condom on a banana. We openly discussed STIs and how to prevent them as well as how to prevent pregnancy. I don’t remember specifically discussing abortion but I do remember we were not taught abstinence only and we did discuss pregnancy. I have a bit of nostalgia and hindsight for that decade of my life but I don’t think that should discredit my experiences. I remember going to an L7 concert and seeing a table for the ‘Rock For Choice’ group – an organization of women in rock music who performed benefit concerts to educate young girls about abortion rights and voter registration. I took the pamphlets of information and bought a button to wear on my school bag. The next Monday I wore the button and never removed it until it broke and fell off. I very distinctly remember no one in high school giving me a hard time about it or trying to start a debate with me, or any negative reactions from teachers or students. I assumed this was the norm about how the majority of people felt. I wasn’t aware until a few years later that ‘Rock For Choice’ was in part formed as a reaction to the abortion clinic bombings of the early 90s. Obviously the abortion debate was alive and strong, but as a teenager I didn’t know the full history. I just knew I was pro-choice because women have a right to choose and why would anyone argue different?
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I am Angry at You, Pro-Choice Americans.

23 Mar

I”m ticked off. I’m ticked off at pro-choice Americans.

Now before I go any further, I want to say that people who are actively involved in pro-choice activism year round, 24/7/365, need not read on. This is not about you.

To those of you who sit around and go “Roe v Wade is law, why should I speak out?” or “The Hyde amendment doesn’t bother me” –  yeah, you keep reading.

My big question is- DO YOU CARE? Do you care about women? Do you care about children? Do you care about your sisters, your mother, your aunts, your daughters, yourself?
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Making Sex Trafficking a Domestic Issue

22 Mar

All too often in this country we only regard sex trafficking as an international issue. We often forget that, each year, between 100,000 and 300,000 American children are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation. I first became aware of this issue when reading The Road of Lost Innocence by Somaly Mam, a Cambodian sex slavery victim and survivor.  It occurred to me that when referencing sex trafficking in this country we often refer to it as prostitution—I have an issue with that.

At it’s very core, I believe that the term ‘prostitution’ connotes a level of choice for all who partake in it. However, many young girls and women are prostituted forcibly and are thus sexually exploited. For instance, today, human trafficking is used for prostituting women and children—there is no choice in this. It has become, in my opinion, the largest form of slavery in our world.

Why should we care and why is this a feminist issue? Well, for one, women’s sexuality is being controlled and exploited. Women’s health and reproductive rights are being harmed daily, while many turn the other cheek. Also, at the heart of sex trafficking is control over women’s bodies. That is why it’s a feminist issue. Lastly, these prostituted women and girls are mostly the ones who endure punishment—even if they were forced into the sex trafficking sector. We must end this.
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