Archive | July, 2010

What Everyone Needs to Know About Later Abortions

29 Jul

Most of us don’t think we’ll ever have an abortion, until we join the other half of all women in the US who has an unwanted pregnancy. And if we think about it at all, we assume we’d get an abortion pretty early in the pregnancy. While 90% of abortions do happen before 12 weeks, some women seek abortions later in their pregnancies.

Most women do not try to have later abortions. In fact, in a study done by Finer et al, nearly three fifths (58%) of women in the survey reported that they would have preferred to have had the abortion earlier than they did. In another study done by Drey et al, 29% or one third of women who ended up having abortions during their second trimester were in their first trimester when they made the first call to an abortion clinic. If this is the case, what causes women to have second trimester abortions?

First, let’s learn a bit about second trimester abortions. Drey’s study outlines the following basic information:

  • One out of every ten abortions performed in the United States happens during the second trimester
  • Second trimester abortions carry an increased risk of complications and are more expensive to obtain then first trimester abortions
  • The American public tends to favor restrictions on later termination abortions

These restrictions vary state by state. In some states, like California and New York, Medicaid can cover the cost of an abortion. In others, such as Pennsylvania, Medicaid funds are forbidden from covering the procedure unless the woman is a survivor of rape, incest, or has a medical condition that threatens her life. And in other states still, Medicaid and private insurances are banned from covering abortion no matter the situation. This means that if a woman doesn’t live in a progressive state and if she doesn’t have health insurance that covers an abortion, she will have to spend time raising money towards the cost of her procedure. Depending on how long this takes, the cost of the procedure could go up weekly (as it often does in the second trimester). In the world of abortion funding, this is called “chasing the fee” and is kind of a Dante-esque hell. The longer she waits to have the abortion and the more time it takes her to raise the money, the more the abortion will cost, causing her to have to raise more money and further delay the procedure.
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Myth Busting: Do abortions routinely take place right up until 24 weeks?

28 Jul

A guest post from our friends at Education for Choice, originally posted on their blog.

Every week EFC busts myths and take names, cutting through the misinformation, disinformation, and straight up nonsense to bring you the facts.

Abortions rarely take place later in pregnancy.  In fact, less than 2% of abortions take place after 20 weeks. Although abortion is a safe procedure overall, risks do increase with gestation, so it’s preferable for women to have abortions as early in pregnancy as possible. 90% of abortions now take place within the first 12 weeks. Early access also helps ensure women are able to access services closer to home. Women seeking abortion even after 12 weeks are often forced to travel out of their local areas to a small number of clinics around the country that offer later abortions.

For more information on later abortion, visit laterabortion.org and Guttmacher’s Facts on Induced Abortion in the US.

Where to Find Anti-Choice Messages in Pop Culture and What Pro-Choice Activism Should Do About It

26 Jul

Earlier this year I attended the grand opening celebration of a brand new regional Planned Parenthood facility in NE Portland. I had the opportunity to speak with Cecile Richards and had a lengthy, albeit off the record, conversation with her personal assistant about the state of pro-choice activism and among other things, the explosion of pop-culture’s obsession with teen moms and teen pregnancy.

I expressed to her that I was amazed at how popular show’s like MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and it’s follow up series, Teen Mom, had become in the past couple of years. To this, she simply replied that its a shame there is no show on television that shows a teen girl saying,”I want to have sex, but in order to protect myself I am going to use a condom and take birth control.”

Indeed, there are hardly any shows that provide the pro- practical/realistic choice side of the abortion debate (I hate saying that). A teen can turn on ABC’s The Secret Life of an American Teenager or MTV’s 16 and Pregnant and get plots rife with anti-choice, anti-woman rhetoric. There are no educational messages about all reproductive health options available to sexually active young women and men.

The only show that of late has given viewers a glimpse of abortion as a real option has been “Friday Night Lights.” Sarah Seltzer  explains the importance of the show’s writers creating a character that has an abortion. To sum up Seltzer’s analysis, “Friday Night Lights” not only frames the decision of the high school sophomore to have an abortion in a non-political and deeply personal way, it displays exactly how harmful the anti-choice movement really is. On the show, the anti-choice character comes into young woman’s life  with an agenda, while the person who helps the character chose a decision best for her (an abortion, in this case) is the perfect example of what the pro-choice movement is all about.

This show will probably end up the recipient of protests once it moves to NBC, which is a real shame. Last year, the popular satirical cartoon on FOX , “Family Guy,” had to halt production of an episode in which the wife has an abortion. The show of course never aired, and hard core “Family Guy” fans such as myself had to listen to a reenactment of the script by the cast on YouTube in order to know what was so offensive about the episode. Of course, nothing was offensive about it. Lois, a middle class, married woman had an abortion. But the subject of abortion is still too taboo, too much for pop-culture to absorb, too against everything the anti-choice movement and most of our society’s dominant political and religious figure heads have worked for, or at least according to FOX.

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Use your detective skills and media for good!

22 Jul

A couple of the antichoicers on twitter have started tweeting about a video which allegedly shows a Planned Parenthood worker being untruthful about fetal development. I haven’t watched the video myself (yet) so I cannot say whether something wrong happened or not.

I can say, that when a video like this comes out, I feel so disheartened by the hypocrisy of the antichoice movement. They say they care about “babies” but they’ve never used their anti-abortion tactics to help mothers and babies.

Every day, there’s at least one if not two updates on My OB said WHAT?. This website keeps track of stories of OBs, nurses, midwives and other birth industry people who lie to pregnant women, say sexist and sexually inappropriate comments to pregnant women and their husbands, belittle women, and otherwise do a disservice to their jobs and the patients they interact with.

Antichoicers have a platform. They have the space to share this type of violence against women (yes, it is violence) with the larger world, and create a movement to stop the violence. They have gone under cover at abortion clinics, so why couldn’t they go undercover on L&D floors? Heck, they don’t even have to go undercover- just share the stories that are already out there.

It wont ever happen. Antichoicers care about fetuses, but you don’t see any of them outside L&D floors offering to adopt unwanted children or even to pay the bills for the first few years of life. I have never seen an antichoice organization go after an OB or midwife that lies about fetal development to a laboring woman. I don’t think the antichoice organizations care if OBs or midwives lie about fetal development, as long as the fetus becomes an infant.

In the end, their often unfounded attacks on Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers is just discrimination against doctors who are willing to help women in need. Antichoicers are doing everything they can- threats of violence, actual violence, name calling, intruding, misleading and lying to name a few things- to stop women from receiving the healthcare they need. Their potential to do good, for a good cause, goes to waste.

Kidnapping is Legal, Right Here in the USA

21 Jul

Yes, you read that right. It’s perfectly legal to kidnap a person’s child right here in the US. However, we don’t call it kidnapping. We call it adoption.

A few days ago, while searching for the percentage of women who regret “giving up” their child for adoption, I found this study. It states that “98.9% of unmarried mothers were forced or pressured to surrender their babies for adoption.”

Now, I don’t know how accurate that statistic is. I don’t know if I should trust this source or not. However, I would bet that that statistic isn’t far off. You may think that I’m just being pessimistic, but think about the people who most adoption agencies. They’re the people who will intentionally lie to women about how far along they are in their pregnancies, or even tell a woman that she is not pregnant (when she really is) in order to delay her abortion so that it’s more difficult, more expensive, and possibly more dangerous for her to receive. They’re the people who will do their best to try to scare the women who are deceived into coming to them for “help” by telling her that she’s going to hell, or that she’ll die if she has an abortion, or that she’ll end up committing suicide or getting breast cancer. They’re anti-choicers, and in particular, they’re the people who run deceptive crisis pregnancy centers.

When you think about who runs the adoption agencies, it’s no wonder that there is a very large percentage of women who were forced or coerced into losing their children. It’s no wonder that women who have their children taken away from them are, in many cases, threatened with legal action and told the lies of an “open adoption” only to find that, later on, the adoptive parents want nothing to do with her and she’ll never get to see her child again. It’s no wonder that these women are told that they’ll be homeless and that they have no right to grieve because they had sex and got pregnant. It’s no wonder that these women are told that they’d be bad mothers. It’s no wonder that they describe adoption as a “win-win” situation, without addressing the regret and grieving that many/most women feel after adopting out their children. It’s not surprising in the slightest.

Now, I’m not saying that adoption doesn’t have the potential to be a good option. The more options women have, the better. If a woman chooses to go through a pregnancy and then chooses to give her baby up for adoption, who am I to tell her that she’s wrong? However, as it is today, adoption is not freely chosen. It’s tragic, and in most cases, it results from the lies and pressure from anti-choicers. Until the adoption business is heavily reformed and no longer run by anti-choicers, it is just another tool that is used to hurt pregnant women and mothers. This tool of destruction hurts marginalized women the most, the ones who are deemed unworthy of becoming mothers.

Pro-choicers, let’s think about it when we say that we promote “abortion, adoption, and parenting”. Yes, adoption should be an option, but we must acknowledge the need for reform. If we don’t, then who will?

Yes Kathleen, more women in politics does not equal a win for us all

20 Jul

A guest post from Laura of Fully Engaged Feminism on deconstructing the article that launched all the feminist navel gazing.

Feminism as a movement fights for justice, and equality between the sexes. For some it serves as an idea, and others as a radical thought. It is a notion that has sparked rallies, speak-outs, government actions, blogs, books and a thousand quotes. There is no easy summation of it as a movement, but some snippets of other writers do come close. For instance the writer Mary Wollstonecraft speaking of women and their fight for rights said: “I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves.”

Feminists have labored for a long time hoping to address the lack of women in governmental representational roles. Kathleen Parker’s sudden investment in the feminist movement’s reaction to the slew of anti-choice republican senatorial candidates is at least a little disingenuous. The Amazon page for her book of ‘Save the Males’ includes “men are an endangered species struggling against everything from mere hostility to literal emasculation.” Then further down the page it also says men ‘must endure rape awareness workshops’ on their college campuses. All of these trials and tribulations men are made to endure, according to Ms. Parker, are at fault of the feminists, and the ‘politically correct.’ Rape Awareness Workshops? Oh for shame evil feminists! Clearly Ms. Parker has an agenda with feminism, if not those political candidates.

She is not the first woman to take her own binary views of gender, and women’s ‘responsibilities’ as far as their reproductive options go. It is a bit of a trope actually. Those on the right wing are happy to watch the conservative talking points (libertarian, republican, or some other variety) fly from the mouth of a woman. It can’t be that bad for women if a woman is advocating it, right? Previously perfected by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly and ‘Dr.” Laura women have often risen to the ranks by complaining feminism left them behind once they were granted the right to vote.

Why then pay attention to an argument clearly designed to bait feminists into fighting with an individual with no clear intention of identifying as feminist?  Because the politicians Kathleen Parker mentions (Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Nikki Haley, Carly Fiorina and Susana Martinez) are not only anti-choice but they also take a stance against health care reform, and several of them make mention of the nebulous conservative ideal of ‘traditional family.’ None of them make mention on their official web sites of issues that feminists agitate for: helping women access health care, the violence women face, making child care easier to access, or gender based pay discrepancy. Jan Brewer has more than proved that voting for a woman does not equal selecting a politician who will advocate for women, or will even fight for those who lack a voice. Feminism has never been for promoting women for gender’s sake. In fact suggestions that they have done so are essentialist by assuming that women think and act with some hive mind and are as interchangeable as a stepford-wife.

As a movement feminism has evolved. Some have called these movements waves, yet others have said that separating the movement by generations is divisive, and ignores the work of those who have helped the evolution. Feminism has dealt with (and still deals with) classism, racism, lookism, ableism, cis-sexism, and ageism. Access to abortion (along with a whole host of reproductive health options and quality pre-natal care, and child care options for pregnancies carried to term) is a line in the sand, because women deserve the basic respect to make choices regarding their own bodies.  A wide movement has to have room for growth. When working to end the oppression based on gender, or sex, the conversation has to evolve. But a wide movement cannot have room for strains within it that seek to continue oppression.

Times for Intimidation – Irresponsible Acts of Media

19 Jul

I am writing today in response to an article that was recently written by Emily Bazelon and published by the New York Times online, The New Abortion Providers. An article that I read thinking it would be an encouraging and somewhat inspiring piece that showed an increasing access to abortion on tomorrow’s horizon. However, I quickly realized that what I was reading was more troubling than hopeful, and the deeper I read, the more the piece began to feel like a page out of the anti-choice intimidation tactic handbook. And the more I read, the more disturbed I grew.

Now Bazelon is someone who is known to be an advocate of choice, so her article took me by surprise, could even be said that it knocked the wind of out me. I am not saying that she was irresponsible in her journalistic pursuit of a story, but I do think that she was perhaps a bit blinded by the mission of the reporting the story that she missed the actual message that was being presented. In several cases throughout the article, Bazelon, in uncomfortable detail, exposes a number of sensitive areas without the responsible filter that you would expect from the media. Or perhaps, I should say, would have expected from the media. You know, back in the days when journalistic responsibility and integrity meant something, before news became fully commercialized an sought ratings and numbers over anything else.

Perhaps this is why Bazelon’s story hurt me as much as it did? Because she was someone who has been looked up to in the past for her work and stances, but in what could be construed as a total disregard for the well being of the movement she was supposedly reporting favorably on. The article took a look at the new wave of abortion educators and providers in training, and could have held the tone of a more hopeful tomorrow. But instead, what transpired through the article was quite the opposite. In the beginning of the article, Bazelon writes about the past intimidation tactics of the anti movement and chronicles how effective they have been in stifling access to this point.

She describes what horrible and misguided actions were taken in the past and explains how because of this not only has access dwindled, but that the Pro-Choice movement has had to kind of move underground in order to remain effective. How educating young doctors has become key for choice to win out and remain accessible to all women, at all times. How through this underground approach, hope has been reaching back into the medical industry to help get abortion back into mainstream practice. And then she shines a big bright warning light for the antis on all of these people and places that are working hard to ensure choice for tomorrow.

Now as was pointed out in the article by some of the doctors that Bazelon interviewed, this silence has in no way stemmed from any mixed feelings they have about what they are doing. But rather it stems from a desire to keep the people in the programs and the programs themselves from being targeted by these protests that leave many in the community feeling unsafe. They wish to provide a calm and comfortable environment and that tends to disappear in the wake of the antis descending to degrade the dialog and degenerate the situation. And I think it was an important point to make and to reiterate. Though I wish that Bazelon had paid more attention to what they were saying because she systematically uncovers facilities where the training is occurring. Continue reading