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.