Archive | October, 2010

Our Reflections on MSNBC’s Dr. Tiller Documentary

29 Oct

Instead of having each of us write about our different reactions to MSNBC’s documentary titled The Assassination of Dr. Tiller , we here at the Abortion Gang decided to give you all our opinions in one place, in no particular order.

Not Guilty:

To begin with, I am very struck by the age of Dr. Tiller’s staff. These were all women who remember before abortion was legal, who possibly knew or knew of women who died from self-administered or illegal abortions. I wonder, will it take the antis knowing that same kinds of grief to see why they are wrong? Do they need to see women they love kill themselves to avoid being pregnant? Or deliver a baby that lives a short, painful life before dying? What will it take for them to understand?

It becomes evident that the antis viewed all the women entering the clinic as simply needing to hear the “right words” to be persuaded to leave. They refuse to give any credence to the possibility that these women have any idea what they are doing and that it might be the right decision for them. They simply view the ones who go through with the abortion as a lost chance. They completely infantilize these women so that they can convince themselves that they just have to try harder to make them change their minds.

Many of the antis seem to have a general disdain for government and some, including Roeder, refuse to acknowledge its authority. As a result, they see themselves as martyrs, not subject to the laws. This is brought on by religion and the belief that ‘God’ is the only authority they have to answer to. When you believe that you only answer to an authority that can never give you direction, you are a danger to society. The authorities have to deal with the root cause of this hate – the websites with the information on all staff and the perpetuation of hate. Until that is dealt with, they will always be one step behind the next murderer.

At this point, I am numb from the hatred I feel towards these people. I am feeling more hate towards these people than I have every felt towards anybody in my life.

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The Family Abortion Story I Never Heard

27 Oct

Three months ago, when kvetching to my father over the phone about yet-another-law-to-block-abortions I said something unfounded to him.

“Oh no one cares about this stuff. In fact you only care cause I’m your daughter!”

It was a completely unfair accusation to throw at my dad, although I know a lot of activists end up feeling this way when we think we’re the only ones who really know about this stuff.

But my father surprised me. He told me he had a story to tell that explained why he did care and why he’d become pro-choice long before I was born.

I’d always known he was pro-choice. I’ve chalked it up to our family’s Judaism and general liberal outlook. I recall sitting around the dinner table in the late 80s or early 90s and after watching a news story about abortion I asked him why he was pro-choice. He said because no one was ever going to tell his daughters what they could or couldn’t do with their bodies. I liked that sentiment and I was proud to have a parent who expressed it.

I grew up and slowly became a pro-choice activist, secure in the knowledge that my family agreed with my work. But I’d never thought there were any family secrets about abortion.

But in 1970 a relative, I don’t want to even name the relationship, came down with German measles while pregnant. It’s an extreme danger to the pregnancy, often resulting in multiple birth defects. In 1970 abortion was legal in New York, but not in the state where my relative was living. As it happens my parents were living in suburban New York. This relative visited my mother’s ob-gyn and scheduled an abortion. My father said he thought there was some modest lying to the doctor about the fact my relative came from out-of-state, but as far as he recalled it went just fine. The relative traveled the distance, stayed with my folks and that was it.

My father said he’d never really thought about abortion before this. But thinking about it, he thought it was unfair my relative had to travel from her state to New York to obtain an abortion. Why shouldn’t she have been able to obtain it in her home state? It just seemed unfair and nonsensical. Why should it be legal in one state but illegal in another? I asked what she would have done had they not lived in New York and he said he didn’t know.

I’d never heard this story before. It blew me away because I know this relative very well. She was married — and still is — to the same man. My father didn’t know, or wouldn’t provide any more details. Was the pregnancy planned? What did her husband think? What did she think?

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Scarleteen Blogathon: Sex-Ed and Bleach

26 Oct

Sex-ed.  We hear that word a lot, but who really knows what sex-ed is? It’s short for “sexual education,” but what’s that?  According to my handy dandy dictionary, sex education is: “education about human sexual anatomy, reproduction, and intercourse and other human sexual behavior.”  Lots of words, but it’s pretty much learning about the human body and its reproduction.  Pretty much straight forward, right?  Wrong.

I know how un-straightforward sex-ed is, probably more than any other blogger you read.  That’s because I attended health class, every day, for 20 weeks less than a year ago.  Every single morning at 7:40am I was in Mr. Hanson’s (he requested I not use his real name) class for 46 minutes.  Monday-Friday from December all the way to February, I had to sit in this class.  This was a chance for New York State and Pittsford Central School District (the place where I go to school) to tell me everything they think I should know, or more importantly, not tell me what they think I shouldn’t know.  We covered everything from eating habits, to drugs, to sex.  Overall I can’t complain too much about it.  When it came to the sex-ed part, Mr. Hanson made sure I knew “the consequences of engaging in sexual activity and the benefits of choosing abstinence.”  Though it mostly focused on abstinence, our curriculum included the word condom, but pretty much nothing on birth control, even Plan B.  Either way, I think Mr. Hanson did a pretty good job teaching what he was supposed to, and luckily what he was supposed to teach us was generally true.  Sadly that isn’t the case in many of today’s sex-ed classroom.

Over the past several months I’ve talked to hundreds of youth, adults, and educators from around the country about their sex-ed experiences.  From this I learned that I had a pretty good sex-ed class, even though Mr. Hanson’s curriculum didn’t acknowledge the existence of non-heterosexual sex, or that condoms are almost 100% reliable if people use them correctly.  Even though during those 20 weeks I never heard the words dental dam, or received instructions on how to correctly put a condom on, I still had a “great” curriculum compared to most.

One of the worst stories about a sex-ed class came from a teen living in Utah.  I met Emma this summer and she told me about a video she had to watch in her middle school sex-ed class.  The video was about two people getting married.  Not too bad, marriage is pretty normal and all.  Sadly this video was anything from normal.  It started with a man and woman about to get married, but before they did, they exchanged tennis shoes.  The man’s shoes were nice and clean, while the woman’s were scuffed up and dirty.  The man says to the woman “it looks like you let the whole football team run in these” and she responds by saying “but I made them all wear socks.”  Right as the video ended, the man decided to break off the marriage with the girl.

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2010 Midterm Elections: Abortion Rights Severely Threatened if Pro-Choice Does Not GOTV

25 Oct

I shouldn’t be blogging tonight, being that I have a midterm in the morning and a test on Wednesday and project due Thursday and a paper due …. Okay, I’ll save you the gory details.  Point is, I saw this picture and couldn’t help but think, “gee, we certainly don’t want the right to choose to go away.”

But you know what? The right to have an abortion is being efficiently chipped away, one local law at a time; one legislative session at a time.

The laws that have passed in the previous two years alone have set back abortion rights to levels that American women have never seen. Although it is still technically a constitutional right for women to obtain this legal medical service within the privacy of their physician’s office, anti-choice activism, money, support, and laws surrounding abortion have made it more difficult than ever to actually obtain an abortion.

What anti-choice actions am I talking about? Well, for starters: Waiting periodsfetal pain laws;  religious harassment on account of the “unborn”;  slut shaming; political posturing; laws, both federal and state/local banning medicaid from funding this legal medical procedure; mandatory ultrasounds; states rescinding funds; rising costs; and lack of access as more and more clinics are shutting down, particularly in rural areas.

If not one of these links make you mad, makes you think your right to make reproductive decisions for yourself or ability  to obtain a legal medical procedure  is jeopardized, then perhaps you should remove your head from the sand.

During these midterm elections, it is easy to say that we’ll just get involved next time, maybe when there is a President to elect. But many of the popular and media-darling candidates on this year’s tickets across the country are radically against abortion, women’s rights, and a woman’s right to chose. Find out (from Planned Parenthood or NARAL) which candidate this is in your district or state and DO NOT VOTE for her/him.

In order to keep what little reproductive rights women have today, we  must vote and vote for the candidate that supports our right to chose.

List Love

22 Oct

It is time to come out of the closet ladies and gentlemen, I am a list person.  And not simply in the to do list, or the grocery list sort of way, no, I’m the type of person who will write something down simply to cross it off as it has already been completed.

With this in mind I have yet another confession to make, I have been most delinquent with my blog posts since school started back up again in September. Buried in checks and cross outs, I somehow forgot to add a blog post to my do list. Though first and foremost I’d like to thank my fellow abortion gangers for their forgiveness, it has also given me a surprise realization.

How could I forget such a thing?  With email chats filling my inbox each day it would seem nearly impossible to miss, but I think that’s exactly why it did skip my mind.  Through this incredible online community we’ve created, I already feel connected to abortion access activism on a daily basis.  I get to hear about all the amazing work the gang is doing every day and have a pulse on the ups and downs of the action, leaving me with (almost) no need to vent my frustrations to the universe.

So this short but sweet post is dedicated to my new favorite list, the abortion gang listserv.  A list that provides everything a good list should, structure, priorities, details, goals, and even on those rarest of days hope and a good laugh.

Leaving Politics Out of Abortion Care

21 Oct

Monica* entered my abortion clinic counseling room and dropped her body into a chair furthest from my desk, body language that told me something was wrong. I instinctively grabbed a box of tissues, ready to listen and comfort her as best as I could. Instead of looking at me, she looked at the floor and held her arms close to her chest, behavior I’d expect from a frightened teenager, not a 30-something woman dressed in polished office attire. I braced myself and opened with what I thought was a simple question.

“How are you?” I asked tentatively, hoping that would start a productive conversation about whatever it was that was clearly bothering her. Her eyes stayed on the floor, feet shuffling back and forth between the chair legs. I waited a beat and was ready to try again with something different, when I heard a few words whispered from her mouth.

“How am I?” It was as if this was the first time someone had asked her the question. I nodded, unsure if she could see me since her eyes were still looking down, not knowing if I should ask again, ask something else, or back off entirely.

Before I had time to consider my options, she exploded with rage, frustration, depression and anxiety. With eyes now darting all over the room, she yelled pieces of her story in no particular order. She told me of being violently raped at her job, of being subsequently fired for not showing up the next day, of not being able to leave her house, of denying the pregnancy for months and having no one to help her with her rent, her bills, much less her mental health. She told me about a history of depression, of suicide attempts, of unhappy pregnancies and no money for abortions.
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Anti-Choicers Live Outside of Reality

20 Oct

Sometimes, when you have two different groups of people on different sides of an issue, you can explain their differences by saying that they come from different backgrounds or that they start off with a different set of assumptions. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the issue of abortion.

The differences among prochoicers and antichoicers is whether one supports and lives in reality or not.*

Of course, this has been obvious for a long time. One very common anti=choice lie which has no base in reality is claiming that abortion is murder. Abortion is clearly not murder but that wont stop anti-choicers from claiming it is- over and over and over. This is an obvious separation from reality. Even when given the facts, which clearly demonstrate that abortion is not murder, they will still disagree.

Another anti-choice claim that is false is that the majority of (if not all) women regret their abortions. Now, anti-choicers not only ignore the established fact that most women feel relief and not regret after an abortion, but they’ve even gone ahead and tried to make their own reality by publishing non-reviewed articles on their websites and blogs.

There are other anti-choice beliefs which obviously have no place in the real world- like the idea that all pro-choice women hate babies, or all pro-choice women abort.

But recently, anti-choicers* have gone even farther. There is a website that I’ve recently learned about called Ignore Roe. The concept is, as stated, that they believe everyone should just ignore Roe v Wade- as if it never happened. Via their homepage:

We begin with the premise that abortion is not legal, and can never BE legal, because abortion is the taking of innocent life, i.e. murder. Murder can never be legalized.

Just like that- taking reality and making it disappear. Or trying, at least. Thankfully, most anti-choicers (at least the ones I know) recognize that abortion is currently legal (even if they hate the fact). But the question is will this movement of ignoring established law spread?

Antichoice clinic harassers constantly ignore law, like the FACE Act. Will they be the first ones to ignore Roe? Or have they already? The murderers among the clinic harassers, such as Roeder, seemed to have decided to ignore Roe and take the law into their own hands.

How can anti-choicers be convinced to live in reality, and to accept reality? Factual evidence will not work unless the opposition is willing to accept real facts. Rational, logical discussion does not work unless both people or groups are willing to accept reality.

* Obviously this does not apply to every single individual antichoicer.

Talking About Reproductive Rights in a Recession

19 Oct

A guest post from Abigail Collazo.

The New York Times recently reported that Democrats in tight races are starting to focus on abortion rights as a strategy for attracting base voters. All I can say is, it’s about time. Republicans have argued that the new emphasis on abortion rights is an effort to distract voters from jobs and the economy, claiming that Democrats know they can’t win on the issues that really matter.

 

It’s no secret that the economy is the number one issue for Americans this fall. However, Democrats have made a huge error in focusing so narrowly on job creation. Financial stability and job security permeate every aspect of American life. While it’s a relief to note that the Democratic establishment has finally remembered that it is pro-choice, even the campaigns that are talking about it are doing so in a vacuum – Republican strategists are likely not the only people thinking it’s a “desperate attempt made by desperate campaigns.” Instead, Democrats should be making the case for the connection between reproductive health and the economic crisis.

 

Reproductive health is not just about a woman’s right to choose what happens with her body, it’s also about her right to choose what happens to her life. Many women indicate that their financial stability greatly affects their decisions about when to have children. Considering how opposed so many Republicans are to “hand outs” like welfare, (also known as much-needed assistance to those in desperate need of aid), they are often irrationally unwilling to give poor women the tools they need to prevent unplanned births, including comprehensive sex education and funding for birth control.  Last year, half of all pregnancies in the United States were unplanned – approximately 3 million. For the more than 2 million women who have lost health insurance as a result of the recession, unplanned pregnancies pose even greater burdens on already strained finances.

 

This recession has hit everyone hard. But this economic crisis is not an independent issue, unrelated to women’s access to reproductive health.  The Democratic Party would do better to remind voters that these issues do not exist in isolation, but rather are directly related.  Want to make a poor women’s life more difficult in these tough economic times?  Restrict her access to reproductive health. See how fast the economy recovers with hundreds of thousands of children whose parents can’t afford to take care of them or themselves.

What the Midterm Elections Mean for Reproductive Rights

18 Oct

For the first time in history, more women than ever before are running for elected office in the midterm elections.  It’s been dubbed the “Year of the Mama Grizzly” and the “Year of the Woman.” With so many women running for elected office, what will happen to women’s reproductive rights?

Let’s take a look at the many candidates running, shall we? We have GOP candidates Carly Fiorina, Sharron Angle, Meg Whitman, Nikki Haley and Christine O’Donnell.  Carly Fiorina, former chairwoman and CEO of the Hewlett-Packard Company who is running for the California Senate, is socially and fiscally conservative.  She is anti-choice and has reportedly earned an “A” rating from the National Right to Life Committee and has earned a plethora of endorsements from the Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-choice political action committee.  In addition, Fiorina is not a supporter of marriage equality and is a strong proponent of the death penalty. Sharron Angle, running for the Senate in Nevada against Harry Reid, is also fiscally and socially conservative. She is anti-choice and has received endorsements from Concerned Women for America and the Life and Liberty PAC. Meg Whitman, running for Governor of California, is fiscally conservative and socially moderate. While she supported the anti-marriage equality Proposition 8, she supports civil unions between same-sex couples. Surprisingly, she is pro-choice and supports the right of women to choose whether or not to pursue an abortion. Nikki Haley, running for Governor of South Carolina, is staunchly anti-choice and is a fiscal conservative. Likewise, Christine O’Donnell, running for the Delaware Senate, is also staunchly anti-choice and is fiscally conservative.

What do most of these women have in common? They are mostly all anti-choice, excluding Meg Whitman. It seems that if these anti-choice women are elected to office, they will have a direct effect on legislation that affects women’s bodies, reproductive rights and reproductive health. At a time when anti-choice groups are gaining supporters and ground across America, these anti-abortion candidates could energize and mobilize the anti-choice movements. There is no doubt that their politics and personal views will pollute legislation aimed at women’s bodies, women’s reproductive rights and women’s choices.

Just something to think about. If you haven’t already, register to vote and vote in these midterm elections. Vote for your rights and your choices.

Who God Really Is

15 Oct

Many people assume that, because I am active in the pro-choice, pro-bodily autonomy movement, I am an atheist. I’m not. God and reproductive justice are not, and should not be, exclusive from each other. In fact, as taboo as it may be, Christian women abort, too. Now, I don’t belong to an organized religion, but I do believe in God. I was brought up as a Catholic. I actually found Catholicism to be detrimental to my faith in God. There has always been something in the Catholic church that has told me “Get out. We don’t want you here”. Some people find peace and love in the Catholic church, pro-choicers included, so I don’t mean to bash Catholics. I just found that the Catholic church was not the most welcoming or loving place for me.

When I got old enough and rebellious enough, I defied my parents’ wishes and just stopped going to church. That was when I started believing in God, ironically enough.

To many people, liberty and God seem like two totally conflicting ideas. I don’t blame them for thinking this. It seems like the loudest believers in God, the loudest Christians in particular, are ready and willing to use God as a weapon against all people who they deem unworthy of respect (all women, people of color, people who aren’t straight, etc). These are the people who will gladly do everything that Jesus wouldn’t do and say that their actions are in the name of God.

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