Archive | April, 2010

The Trials and Tribulations of an Abortion Clinic Escort

30 Apr

Making the jump from abortion clinic employee to abortion clinic escort was not a big deal for me. I anticipated that after working inside a clinic, helping to defend the outside would be easy. I went through escort training with a slight ego; I already knew the Pennsylvania abortion laws (24-hour waiting period, 24 week gestational limit), knew all the local clinics, could explain an abortion procedure in 30 seconds in two languages. Confident that I was going to be the best escort ever, I showed up to my first shift ready to show the antis who’s boss.

I showed up, but the antis never stopped showing up. Us escorts were six people strong, but the antis were at least 60 and their numbers kept growing. Not only that, but they held a mass in front of the clinic, held up a huge wooden cross with a life-size Jesus nailed onto it, and brought their kids wearing buttons that said, “I’m a survivor of the American holocaust.” There weren’t that many patients that day, and I don’t blame them. If I saw that mess in front of the clinic where I was about to have an abortion, I’d turn right around and reschedule that appointment.
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On Class and Choice.

29 Apr

In 6 days, I will have completed my first year at Smith College, and so will the 20 girls of the class of 2013 who live in my house at school.

Tomorrow, one of them is having an abortion.

She is not the first friend or classmates I’ve known who’s been driven to a clinic in Springfield or Brattleboro (Vermont) but the striking thing about this event is how it has been received by my social circle.

Smith College’s curriculum is very good about remembering minorities. As an all women’s college, every class I’ve taken has heard female voices, and African-American voices, and Asian voices, and every class of people who has ever been oppressed is mentioned, and our professors tell us that we must remember history is written by the winners, and that we have to seek our the alternate histories of groups who were silenced. We have a support group for femmes, one for butches, one for genderqueer, one for transmen. We have a college-sponsored event called Sexhibition every April, which features the art of students with content that is primarily nudity-based. Our Convocation is notoriously clothing-optional.
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Oklahoma Passes Extreme Abortion Restrictions, Or How The States Are Slowly Eroding Roe v. Wade

28 Apr

Yesterday, the Oklahoma state legislature overrode Governor Brad Henry’s veto of two extremely restrictive, and quite likely unconstitutional, abortion laws, bringing Oklahoma one step closer to being the worst state for women in the nation.

The first measure requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a mandatory ultrasound and, as we’ve already discussed here, is intrusive beyond belief. As the New York Times notes, while several states have passed ultrasound laws and a few require women to be offered the chance to see the image, Oklahoma’s law goes even farther, stipulating that the monitor must be placed where the woman can see it and that she must listen to a detailed description of the fetus. Furthermore, doctors would be required to use a vaginal probe in cases where it would provide a clearer picture of the fetus than a regular ultrasound, which is often the case earlier in pregnancy (when the vast majority of abortions take place).

In other words, as a prerequisite to obtaining an abortion—a legal, medical procedure—in addition to being forced to hear information she may not want to hear, a woman must be vaginally probed by her doctor, even if it is not medically necessary and even if she has already been the victim of rape or incest. Within hours, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the legislation, arguing that is violates the doctor’s freedom of speech, the woman’s right to equal protection and the woman’s right to privacy. And others have suggested that it could break Oklahoma’s rape laws as well.
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Why Queer Justice and Reproductive Justice Movements Should Work Together

28 Apr

As I said in my previous entry, I am queer and a part of the movement for reproductive justice.  Now, let me be clear—as opposed to what some anti-choice folks have plastered on the internet—abortion or being for reproductive justice does not make you gay.  Being part of the queer community does not make you a part of the movement for reproductive justice. In fact, many people are confused about my caring some much about reproductive justice issues.  After all, as someone who is queer and who is a cisgender* woman whose partner is a cisgender woman, I can’t get pregnant on my own.  Sometimes in pro-choice conversations, I am the only queer person, and often in the queer community I’m the one bringing up reproductive justice, but here’s why the movement for justice for the queer community and the community working for reproductive justice should come together and realize that they are trying to rip open the same oppressive cultural ideas:

1) Laws regulating what people can do with their bodies affect LGBTQ people and women who want to make decisions about their bodies.

Queer bodies are regulated by institutions, laws, and society just like women’s bodies are used.  In the most recent healthcare debate, the people’s bodies who were used as bargaining chips were often queer people and women seeking abortions.  That Executive Order was used as a bargaining tool for healthcare, and abstinence only sex education were thrown in just as same-sex couples were continued to be charged taxes for being on their partner’s health insurance.
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A Woman’s Duty: Breed!

27 Apr

I have heard a ton of horror stories about women who have been searching for a doctor who will perform a tubal ligation or write an Rx for permanent birth control (an implant) , yet are unable to find one who is willing to impede their fertility permanently because  they are still “women of reproductive age.”

Simply put, in most places in this country women that are still young enough to produce viable eggs will not find it easy to obtain a permanent “de-fertility” option. Are you 27 and want your tubes tied? Sorry, you may want kids later, trust us.  Have children but don’t want anymore and are tired of taking a daily pill to prevent children? Just keep that up for 10 more years, next thing you’ll know, you will hit menopause and voila! Problem solved.

Except this is all bullshit, because women are not required to produce children, yet they are expected to be the sole responsible party for the life and death of the human race.  Women of reproductive age are expected to not only have children, but to desire children. If they don’t want children, they are murderers (pro-choice) , uninformed or just plain sick in the head.
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I Am Not Sorry I Believe In Abortion

26 Apr

When I first heard about The Abortion Gang I was caught by the name, titillated enough to click on the link from Feministing to see what it was about. The rest as they say, was history, as I am thrilled to now be a bona fide ‘gang member’ (and yes, my good girl past – never cut a class in high school, college or graduate school, always wear my seat belt, never talk on my cell phone while driving type of past – may be part of my enjoyment of that title). It’s the second line though that sticks in my mind every time I hear a conversation about abortion, every time I write about it: “unapologetic reproductive justice activists.”

I’ve never been shy about making my opinion known. Admittedly this can come across as being argumentative, or stubborn, but the truth is, I generally am open-minded to other people’s opinions, wanting to know why they think what they think. In turn, I’m generally happy to share my thoughts on a topic, including the reasoning. I have several, firm reasons for being pro-choice – they’re listed here. In an effort to ‘go along to get along’ though, I have realized that there have been times when I have backed down from stating that I am pro- choice. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to get into a fight, or because I didn’t know where someone else fell along the pro-choice to anti-choice continuum. I shied away from making someone else uncomfortable, but in doing so gave up the opportunity to explain to someone else, someone who might not be aware that access to abortion is tenuous at best, or who may be neither pro-choice nor anti-choice, why being pro-choice is so important, and why writing to senators, newspapers, and friends about it, is so important. That line reminds me why it’s so important to be unapologetic (but polite – because it’s important to be polite, civil, etc., whenever and wherever possible – no one ever got more respect for being less respectful of others) – to not give the appearance that I’m okay with restrictions on abortion access, that I’m not ashamed of my pro-choice convictions.

Anti-choice activists march loud and proud, wear pins and t-shirts screaming their moral authority over my uterus. My convictions are no less moral. Our beliefs are backed by as much (actually more) moral considerations, thought, care, concern, and discussion. My being pro-choice is something to be proud of – I know that what I believe is something that helps women every day. I know that access to abortion is what lets teenage girls grow up into successful women, what keeps women from welfare, or helps them get off of it. Access to abortion is what let’s law school students become attorneys, rape victims find closure, sick women have chemotherapy and radiation, and women everywhere maintain control over their bodies.

Be proud to be enlightened. Be proud to be pro-choice.

Trust Women: The Movie

23 Apr

I am committed to the idea that educating people about why abortion providers do the work they do is an essential step in stopping the misinformation, ignorance, and hate surrounding abortion. What better way to reach people with this message than on the big screen?

The movie, aptly title Trust Women, will focus on abortion providers Dr. Hern and Dr. Carhart. Both men are two of the only later termination abortion providers left in the US and have witnessed anti-choice terrorism and intimidation first hand. Despite the death threats they receive, they continue fearlessly to provide abortion care to women who need it. They deserve our respect, admiration, and support in whatever way we can give it.

The two awesome feminist filmmakers behind this project need your help to make it happen! Read more about the movie and their vision for it, and if you’re interested and able, donate to help make it a reality. We need to get the stories of these reproductive justice heroes out to as many people as possible.