Archive | December, 2010

See You in 2011!

28 Dec
Happy holidays from all of us at the Abortion Gang. We’re taking a short blogging break and will be back in January with the same passionate, smart and snarky reproductive justice commentary that you love. You can still find us on twitter and facebook, of course.

Top 10 Posts of 2010

23 Dec

A la RH Reality Check, here are the most read Abortion Gang blog posts of the past year:

10. Valuing the Lives of Women: A Nurse’s Experience at a Catholic Hospital by Delivery Nurse

9. What Everyone Needs to Know About Later Abortions by Steph

8. An Appeal to the Silent Majority by Serena Freewomyn

7. Even the Internet is Anti-Choice: The Importance of Being Pro-Choice Online by Shayna

6. Note to Older Feminists: We Exist! by Steph

5. A Question for Anti-Choicers by ProChoiceGal

4. What Happens During an Abortion by Steph

3. I’ve Never Said a Word by Delivery Nurse

2. Debunking Popular Anti-Choice Myths by Persephone

1. How Many More Tears? by Shelby Knox

Stay tuned for more awesome content in 2011.

16 and Loved: Supporting Women Who Have Had Abortions

22 Dec

“I just found out I’m 20 weeks pregnant and can’t afford this baby. I lost my job and have no insurance. No clinic around me can do the procedure. I’m spending all my money to travel to NYC to get to a clinic that can help me. No idea how I’ll pay for it once I’m there.”

“My dad is a cop and will kill me if he finds out I’m pregnant. I have $100 from my allowance but the abortion’s gonna cost $400.”

“I went to the clinic today and they told me I need another $125 by tomorrow to have the procedure. I already sold my laptop and put off paying my rent and electric bill. If I wait another week, the price goes up.”

Stories like these are what we hear every day on New York Abortion Access Fund hotline. We support women by helping fund their abortions, making sure that money is not an obstacle getting the reproductive health care they need. We do this on a volunteer basis, like so many abortion funds, with different board member answering phone calls every week. We do everything we can to support women financially in the abortion process. What happens, though, when a woman needs more than just financial support for her abortion experience?

That is where fabulous organizations like Exhale and Backline come in. Both of these orgs provide compassionate, non-judgmental, FREE counseling to women and their families before and after an abortion. As if that wasn’t enough, Exhale specifically is launching a campaign called 16 and Loved to support the young women who are telling their abortion stories on MTV’s No Easy Decision, a program that’s airing on December 28 at 11:30pm EST.

It takes courage to call an abortion fund and ask for help. It takes courage to tell your friends, your family about your abortion. It takes tremendous courage to share your abortion story on national television. Show these women that you are proud of them, that you support them, that you honor their brave decisions by writing them a short message. Show them that they are 16 and loved.

On the Other Side of Healthcare

21 Dec

Last week, I made an appointment to have an IUD inserted. And I’m nervous as hell.

I work in abortion services. Granted, not as medical staff, but I still deal with women’s reproductive health in some capacity every day that I work. I talk about, think about, listen to people talk about it. I can describe the surgical abortion process in my sleep. I make it my business to learn as much as I can about safe sex and birth control, mostly so I can be a reliable resource to my friends (but also so that I can be good at my job). So I was surprised to find my hand shaking as I dialed the number of the sexual health clinic.

My history with birth control is relatively short, and not super positive. I started on the pill six years ago, and it has never been anything but a headache for me. I had very regular, pain-free periods before I went on it, but it turned my monthly visit into a cramp-y nightmare. Much worse than that was the effect it had on my moods. I can’t really describe the fog of weepy, crushing depression I lived in for five years, except to say that when I stopped taking the pill last year it was as if a great black cloud was swept from my life.

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My Pro-Choice Veganism

20 Dec

As you can probably guess, I’m a pro-choice activist. I am also vegan. That means I avoid the use and consumption of animal products, including meat, leather, milk, eggs, etc.

Some people believe that reproductive rights and veganism are polar opposites. However, although I feel strongly about both, my beliefs don’t conflict with eachother. They don’t collide like two cars in a wreck, they complete each other, like the three notes in a chord. I am vegan for the many of the same reasons I’m pro-choice. I have a deep appreciation for life; my veganism and my pro-choice activism both stem from this appreciation. I believe that all sentient life has undeniable value and should be respected (unlike antis, who seem to believe that non sentient life has undeniable value and all sentient life must be disrespected). I respect non-human animal life as well as human life; this is where my veganism comes from. I see as pig as having as much value as a dog, a cat, or a human. That’s why I choose not to support the use of non-human animals.

However, respecting life goes much further than just letting the animals/people live. Life, without liberty, is meaningless. This is where my pro-choice activism comes in. If I’m going to respect life, I have to respect liberty. That includes women’s liberty, and women’s liberty includes choices. Reproductive freedom is a vital and necessary component of liberty, and liberty is a vital and necessary component of life. Take away any part and you’re left with an unfinished puzzle, where you can’t even tell what the picture is supposed to be.

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I Don’t Regret It, I Just Wish I Didn’t Remember It

17 Dec

Regret (verb): feel sad, repentant or disappointed (over something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).

When a child gets caught with their hand in the cookie jar they learn from an early age something that will often haunt them through their teenage and young adulthood years. They learn that when they make a decision that their parents don’t approve of, the worst thing in the world isn’t being yelled at. Children learn from an early age that the worst punishment from a parent is for them to utter those dreaded words, “I’m disappointed in you.” Most people, myself included, would far rather be yelled at and scolded for making a decision my parents didn’t approve of, than hear those words.

While many, if not most, women do not regret their abortion, there are still a great many who do. In fact in our society, I often wonder why more women don’t regret their abortions. Women have been having abortions for thousands of years, as documented by the 4000 Years for Choice campaign. The fact that abortion has been prevalent in so many different cultures for over 4000 years demonstrates that it is only in modern times that women have begun experiencing guilt in significant numbers. I don’t think it is merely a coincidence that we live in sexist, misogynistic, religious and paternalistic times. That isn’t to say none of that was around 4000 years, but I doubt that over the past 4000 years cultures have so pathologically and methodically sought out women who have aborted and told them abortion is something they should regret.

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Anti-Choice is Anti-Sexy and Anti-Romantic

16 Dec

I have a confession to make.

When life gets hectic, and I need a quick mental break, I like to read romance novels… and not any quasi-literary historical romances either. I’m talking about the type published by Harlequin each month, about unrealistically good looking, wealthy and unmistakeably masculine men, women attractive in their own right (wealth optional), yet, strangely, lovelorn, some witty banter and even more over the top descriptions of sex, and, of course, happy endings.

Romance novels typically employ one of a few standard plot devices to keep the hero and heroine in each other’s space – being forced together due to a weather disaster, or to care for a sick relative (often a baby), pretending they are in a relatioship for some business or family related reason, or (increasingly often) an accidental pregnancy. While some romance novels’ heroines are women confident in their sexuality, there are many romance novels that like to portray the heroine as a virgin, unaware of her own sex appeal. This was the case in the most recent Harlequin romance that I read, hoping to relax after a stressful week.

Not only was the book’s heroine a virgin, but she became pregnant when she had sex for the first time, when neither her nor the hero thought to use birth control. The heroine, too naive to realize that her flu is actually morning sickness, is told to take a pregnancy test by the hero – who, upon seeing the positive result, then informs her, that, of course, they will be married posthaste. Her protest that they do not have to be married to have a child – and that there, in fact, does not have to be a child at all, are quelled with the hero’s firm refusal.

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The Sea-Monkey

15 Dec

My best friend at work is pregnant. She’s had two abortions in the past, but now that she’s married and has a great job, she and her husband have decided that they’re ready. She’s psyched, except for the part where she’s throwing up every 5 minutes… other than that, though, she’s very excited. She found out at 5 weeks, and since I have some sort of supernatural ability to know when people are pregnant, I told her that I already knew, asked her if she was happy about it, and when she said “Yes!” I hugged her and teared up a bit.

She’s had some interesting experiences so far, aside from the normal morning sickness and food aversions. Everyone that she’s told (at work, when you’re puking, you sort of have to share that kind of information) has had a slightly different reaction. Most women hug her, or shriek excitedly. Most men have no idea what to do, and simply smile and say congratulations. Everything seems to go well until she calls it “her little sea-monkey.” No one, except for her and me, seems to think that this nickname is cute. We both have, I guess, a sick sense of humor, or so we are learning.

She calls it a sea-monkey because it had a tail (from week 5-week 9). It also doesn’t look much different from the embryo of any other animal (chicken, fish, dog, human), and we’ve referred to it by many names… “little lizard,” “baby grape” (referring to it’s size), and a few others. We kept those other names mostly private, especially since she got such a terrible reaction to her “sea-monkey” nickname. At the very least, most people look disgusted or confused when she calls it a sea-monkey. One person ever went so far as to yell at her, telling her that it’s a human and she should be treating it that way.

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Because Women Who Serve Our Country Don’t Deserve Full Health Care Access

14 Dec

A guest post by Kelly Baden of Schooling Chris Smith.

The House of Representatives recently passed, by voice vote, the Women Veterans Bill of Rights. Sounds great, right? This bill of rights recognizes the unique health care needs of women and requires facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs to post a sign detailing these rights for women veterans.

Included among them are the right to be treated with dignity and respect; the right to “coordinated, comprehensive, primary women’s care” including gender-specific and mental health care; and the right to gender equity in clinical health care services.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Who wouldn’t support equal health care for the women who serve our country? But of course, antichoice members of Congress were not happy. Even the National Right to Life Committee opposed the bill.

So, does this bill, like, fund abortions then? Does it, gulp, declare abortion as a fundamental health care right for women? Of course not (though I wish it did). But that doesn’t stop the antis from turning it into a political issue about abortion. And of course Chris Smith had to speak on the House floor technically in support of this Women Veterans Bill of Rights but really to spout more antiabortion nonsense and lies.

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Bishops Deciding Access to Healthcare for Women AGAIN?!

13 Dec

When President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, I certainly didn’t think that his administration and a Democratic majority in Congress would move us backwards when it came to women’s reproductive health.

But over and over again, the White House has failed to counter conservative initiatives that leave women without comprehensive health care, especially when dealing with choice issues.

First, the White House gave in to Congressman Bart Stupak during the debate of health care reform and issued an executive order reinforcing the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds going toward abortion services. Then, in a surprise move, the White House eliminated abortion coverage for women in high-risk pools, even if they paid for this service with their own money. This was an anti-choice action that went beyond even the Stupak amendment.

In all of these instances, President Obama and his administration listened to anti-woman groups and ignored pro-woman and pro-choice voices when making decisions about women’s health.

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