Archive | March, 2011

When Strong Pro-Choice States Turns Red

31 Mar

The Oregon legislature no longer enjoys a robust, Democratic, firmly pro-choice super majority after the 2010 elections. Indeed, the legislature is now split 50-50, and of course, just as we have seen across the country, with more conservative law makers, new anti-abortion bills have come out with force.

Of all the bills introduced, however, just one is expected to make it to the judiciary committee: House bill 3512, which would outlaw abortion services for woman seeking services after 20 weeks gestation.
This is something that is unheard of in recent years. Oregon has long been known as a pro-choice strong hold. Even though there are many conservative districts, the state is one of the most pro-choice in the nation- with no laws restricting abortion services. Not only is polling indicative of this, the majority of residents here claim women should have at least some right to abortion services and our legislators have always represented the people’s sentiments with gusto.

That is, until now. The threat to abortion right is not just in other states, it’s here, in Oregon, too.

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Inconvenient Dreams

30 Mar

When I was 10 years old I had a conversation with myself about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I toyed with zoologist, marine biologist and the like, but settled on either veterinarian or lawyer, primarily because the latter 2 have higher income potential. You could say I’m a long-term planner. By the time highschool rolled around, I ruled out vet because I wasn’t very good at science or math. Everything I’ve done since I was 14 was so that I could become a lawyer. I made careful decisions to ensure nothing I did would jeopardize my future career.

I started having sex when I was 17 and even with all my sex education, I let my partner tell me that the pull-out method was good enough. At the time, I went from always being busy with extra-curricular activities, to sex, drugs and booze in a matter of months. I was upset and desperate for attention, so I bought it. After a scare with a late period, I decided I needed birth control. I tried to talk to my mom about it and asked her to take me because I needed it to “regulate” my period. She said I was fine. So I took the initiative, found a doctor and got it myself. Since then I have been exceedingly diligent with my birth control. Looking back, I know I am so unbelievably lucky I didn’t get pregnant during the 6 months I was having unprotected sex.

Fast forward 9 years. On March 22nd I wrote the second of two bar admission exams. To get to this point I had to complete a 4-year undergraduate degree and attend 3 years of law school. I have racked up $140k of debt in the process. In June 2012 I will get called to the bar after my 10-month articling period, which starts May 2011. I am facing 8-10 years of debt repayment after spending 9 years and countless weekends studying to get to this point. This is the culmination of a 16 year dream of mine. But if I were to require an abortion, many people would decry my decision as a matter of “convenience.”

If I were to get pregnant now, I wouldn’t be able to finish my articling period before the fetus was born. I would likely have 1 month remaining, which could defer my ability to get called to the bar by 3 months, minimum. All because some people think my dreams are inconvenient. During my time off I wouldn’t be able to make debt repayments and I would have to live off my partner’s income, which, while good, is tight. Could we do it? Certainly. But I do not believe that reaching my 16 year dream is a mere “convenience.” It’s my dream and I have worked exceedingly hard for it. I am entitled to enjoy the rewards of my hard work. Suggesting that women have abortions for “convenience” diminishes the hard work of women and is beyond insulting. Living my dream is my right. Not having my body hijacked, especially when I am doing everything possible to prevent pregnancy, is my right. I refuse to be told that my dreams are inconvenient and should be sacrificed.

To all the women out there with inconvenient dreams, never stop dreaming and never stop fighting. It is just as much a tragedy when a woman is forbidden from reaching her dream as it is when a man is forbidden. You are entitled to every dream you can dream — dreams are never inconvenient.

Who the Fuck Came Up With ‘Why the Fuck Should I Use Emergency Contraception?’

29 Mar

Shame on you, http://whythefuckshouldiuseec.tumblr.com/, for this incredibly disrespectful attempt to cater your message to young folks.  I’m not even sure what it is exactly that you are trying to attempt with this tumblr, to be honest.  BUT I will be damned if Ima just sit here and keep clickin’ on the insults, generalizations and fucked-up stereotypes you are propagating about young people with vaginas (like me) who need access to emergency contraception.  I will not be likin’ on this on my fb and if I did have a twitter I would sure as hell not be tweetin on this shit either, but I am gonna give you a lil feedback before I start dinner.

The Top Six Insulting Fucking Reasons Why NARAL/NIRH Thinks You Should Use EC:

1) Because if you don’t remember his last name, you probably didn’t remember to use a fucking condom.

2) In the sober light of day, you don’t actually want to have his fucking children.

Newsflash: we ARE NOT all fucking people who use masculine pronouns and we ARE NOT all fucking when we are drunk and we STILL need access to emergency contraception.  Those of us who have fucked / do fuck male-bodied folks DO NOT appreciate you portraying us as drunken sluts either!

3) Getting pregnant after you didn’t even get off would be the fucking cherry on top.

Young folks all over this country are not only educating their peers and their communities about the importance of consent, but also advocating for sex positivity and healthy communication between partners OF ALL GENDER IDENTITIES AND SEXES when it comes to pleasure so please don’t assume that we haven’t figured out how / aren’t working on communicating with our partners about getting off.

4) It’s more effective than your other plan, which is watching a fucking Top Chef marathon.

Right, we all spend our spare time watching reality television, not organizing our communities for social justice or using our voices to speak up when people are trying to speak for us or speak as if they understand our lived experiences.

5) You’ve spent 40 dollars on a lot stupider fucking shit before.

Yes, because nothing says we support young folks like mocking our financial literacy and making assumptions about our class status.

6) Women haven’t always had access to emergency contraception – be a fucking feminist already.

I am about as radical of a feminist as they come homies, but DAMN, every time I see another national organization that is consistently credited (falsely) with representing “the feminist movement” in this country come up with some jive-ass-backward campaign to appeal to young folks that actually serves only to misrepresent our experiences and mock us as sexual beings, I get really fucking pissed off.

So listen up: I am ALL about backin’ up your bc with some ec, okaaaay, BUT the end does not in any way, shape or form justify the means.  Do not think that portraying us as flippant, self-centered and irresponsible is any sort of way to relay a message to us or encourage us to retweet/post/share some bullshit site.  We are much smarter, wittier and better at using f-words than you are.

You can and SHOULD be doing so much better than this.

 

A Pro-Choice Activist’s Guide to Surviving State Legislative Season

28 Mar

This time of year, my life is cluttered with dispatches de la surreal. This email reports that a fetus is testifying in a committee in Ohio’s state legislature. That tweet says Mississippi is going to prosecute women for miscarrying and this next one is asking me to speak out against making it legal to kill abortion providers (??!!!). And, to borrow from the great Nina Simone, everybody knows about South Dakota, goddam!

Besides drinking barrels of whiskey, what’s a pro-choice activist to do while the extremists do their springtime waltz? I don’t claim to have all the answers – and would love your suggestions in the comments – but here are a couple ideas to keep up the fight and keep it together until the elected misfits slink back to their small town law firms:

Bowl for Choice. We, and the anti-choice factions, know all too well that a legal right to abortion is meaningless unless all women can access abortion care. Enter National Network of Abortion Funds, which works with organizations across the country to provide money to women who need abortions but would otherwise not be able to afford them. The Second Annual National Abortion Access Bowl-athon is rules the month of April when pro-choice activists in 25 cities will be hitting the lanes for reproductive justice. Start your own team or give to an individual bowler – like me or our blog mistress Steph or our friend @ClinicEscort, who has vowed to tattoo #prochoice (the Twitter hashtag for abortion rights news and activism) on her body if she raises $3000 for the Women’s Medical Fund.

Take the fight to the Feds. Sometimes I feel like my home state of Texas is in a battle with other states to see who can hurt women more  – and is winning because of the huge conservative majority there. That’s when I turn my activism back to the federal level where we have an extremely hostile, anti-choice Congress but some hope because of the (theoretically) pro-choice Senate and White House. Turns out the GOP is making redefining rape, allowing hospitals to let women die, and auditing women who’ve had abortions, a top priority this session. This can only mean it’s time for us to take up the banner on the national level. Sign this petition to stop the IRS from forcing women who’ve had abortions to recount their reasons to IRS agents and, if you can make it to DC, join NARAL for a national lobby day on April 7th.

Stop fake clinics in their tracks. Austin, Baltimore, and New York City have all passed groundbreaking legislation that requires crisis pregnancy centers – ideologically driven establishments that pose as health clinics to lie and shame women out of having abortions – to post notice that they do not have medical personnel on staff and do not provide abortion services or referrals to clinics that provide these services. Start a petition on Change.org to lobby your city council to introduce this legislation in your city. If you’re in college, join the Feminist Majority campaign to expose fake clinics and get them and their advertisements off campus.

Become a clinic escort. On any given day in the United States, women and men go to reproductive health clinics to get birth control, get tested for sexually transmitted infections and, yes, have abortions. And on any given day there are people who stand outside to scream threats at these people for making the choices that are best for them at the time. Clinic escorts bravely stand between the patients and the screamers, using their bodies to shield the patients and their voices to let them know someone is on their side. Go here to find out how to get training to become one of these pro-choice heroes.

Start a freakin’ riot. 1 in 3 US women will have an abortion. And despite what you may have heard, more than half the country supports abortion rights. So let’s be LOUD and PROUD about being pro-choice. Planned Parenthood has launched a bus Truth Tour to rally support in communities across the country – check here to see if the big pink bus is rolling into your town.

Prepare to run. For office, of course! EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice people to all levels of government, is training candidates to run and supporting them with the funds to win. If you can’t attend one of their trainings, try The White House Project, which prepares women to take the elective reigns. Remember, change starts at the local level and some city council elections are won by under a hundred votes. If you don’t think you’re a candidate, look at some of the buffoons who are serving right now!

Here’s a toast to the pro-choice majority out there fighting the good fight all year round. Sling one back in “honor” of all the extremist cocks puffing their feathers in state capitals across the country and then let’s get back to work!

 

Not the Time to be Discouraged

25 Mar

A guest post from  Jane Cawthorne.

There are a lot of things to worry about right now. Last weekend, I attended a conference on climate change. It was devastating, if unintentionally so. I left knowing that it is less likely my daughter will reach fifty years old than I will, and if she does, she will live in a world markedly different from the one I know.

I wanted to cry on the couch for a while, maybe watch movies. I didn’t. Instead, I thought about the appeal of denial. Denial is a kind of emotional haz-mat suit I like to wear when I don’t want to face what is truly terrifying. It works best when I don’t think, when I distract myself with movies or make myself so busy I can’t see past the next thing on my “to do” list. Like many people, I feel sometimes that I frantically deal with what seems urgent, but fail to see what is strategically important.

Then I started to wonder if the current frenzy of activity among anti-choicers is motivated by denial. All this focus on the fetus might be their way of forgetting that post-utero humanity is in pretty big trouble. Anti-choicers are pretty busy right now. If you read the news, Abortion seems to be the single most important issue in America, even more important than the economy, and certainly more important than climate change.

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Is Pro-choiceness Next to Godlessness?

24 Mar

Since becoming more involved in the pro-choice movement, a startling trend has come to my attention: the tendency on the part of the antichoice movement and its members to assume that the prochoice movement is without God. In many cases, not only is it assumed, with no evidence provided, that we are without God, it is also assumed, and stated as fact, that we are, as a uniform whole, anti-God, and anti-religion. This came to my doorstep when an antichoice blog made the following analysis of my belief system based on one of my previous posts:

Nevertheless, at the end of her last paragraph Kaitlyn unknowingly paraphrased Scripture, which I’m sure would horrify her. And that is Proverbs 24:16, quoting the Message Translation: No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet…

Blogger in question was referring to this quote about the anti-choice movement: “Whatever fights they lost this round, they will be back to fight again.”

Upon reading that I wondered, who says I “unknowingly” paraphrased scripture? And if I had done so “unknowingly,” why would that horrify me? I find Scripture quite beautiful. And as someone who loves books – and I realize here Scripture, the sacred writings, are different than the Bible itself, but the point remains – I have a great deal of love and respect for the Bible. For one thing, it contains some of the coolest stories ever told; for another, it was the first book ever printed on a printing press, the invention I feel most shaped our society and certainly, my life.

Then I wondered, should someone tell them I’m Jewish?

I understand that the blogger in question and I would probably disagree, intensely, on many aspects of and questions around religion, and I have no problem with that. Within the prochoice movement itself there are a million views on these questions, and those open discussions are one of the reasons I feel so blessed to work within it. My question is, from whence comes this assumption that I, as a pro-choicer, would be horrified to be associated with religion, or, more to the point, God (the fact that the two are not to be conflated is VERY relevant to the prochoice movement and, you know, everything, I think, in the world)? Since I am not, personally, at all horrified, it is certainly not because I ever gave any indication that this is the case. One of the things I see at play here is righteousness. If we do, as prochoicers, believe in God, it is not THE God, not the RIGHT God, not the REAL God, because OBVIOUSLY the one true God does not look kindly on abortion. But I take issue with this. I do not know what lies in this life or the next, whether there is or is not a higher power which guides us, and if there is, what that higher power believes or holds to. The reason I do not know is that to know would be to assert, unequivocably, that what I believe as a fallible human being is correct. Being certain of one’s correctness, in matters waaaaay the eff over the heads of us mere mortals, is known as pride, and I don’t think I need to quote Scripture here to remind us all what pride goeth before.

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Anti-social Justice

23 Mar

There is a topic I have wanted to write something about for months, but it is so delicate – it is, really, the definition of delicate. I don’t mind so much getting hate mail or even losing acquaintances over things that I write – and I will unabashedly write whatever I damn well please most of the time – but I do have limits. I would never knowingly write something that puts someone else in danger or exposes them to hate mail, for example. And I would never want to open up the movement itself to attacks, which is why I have avoided writing about this.

However, any movement that does not self-examine is probably doomed to failure, right? And feeling rather inspired by the recent publication of this very important book (shameless self-promotion!), I have decided to go ahead and write the damn piece and see what happens.

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The Truth About Fetal Pain Laws

22 Mar

Let me set something straight about anti-choice laws; they are never what they seem. It is never about getting minors to talk to their parents, ensuring that women make choices that they don’t regret, or ensuring that a fetus doesn’t feel pain during the procedure. One restriction leads to another, and their goals are always the same: to restrict women’s freedom.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard of so-called “fetal pain” laws. This is something that anti-choicers try to pull all the time. They try to make it seem as if they just want to make sure that the fetus isn’t being hurt by its evil, careless mother (while, of course, ignoring the fact that forcing women to give birth to fetuses that have deformities often results in more pain, both for the fetus and the woman). In reality, making the cut off point for abortions earlier has nothing to do with concern for what the fetus may or may not go through during the procedure. Restrictions on third trimester abortions lead to restrictions on second trimester abortions. Restrictions on second trimester abortions lead to restrictions on first trimester abortions. Restrictions on first trimester abortions leads to no more abortion rights for women, and that’s when anti-choicers will begin to attack our other rights, particularly our right our sexuality and to birth control. This is only one reason why we can’t use later term abortions as a bargaining chip.

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The Continued Attack on Reproductive Rights

21 Mar

After a myriad of attacks on women’s reproductive rights in recent weeks, we find another attack on pro-choice high school students. Catholic high school students in Ontario, Canada were suspended for wearing strips of tape saying the word “choice.” According to Globe and Mail, there were students at the high school wearing tape that read “life” as part of a Day of Silent Solidarity to raise funds for anti-abortion groups. In response to this, twenty-four students wore tape reading the word “choice” and were sent home by school officials.

According to the school, the students were banned because they didn’t attain permission beforehand for their demonstration. Now, not only are bills being passed nationwide to infringe on women’s rights to access safe and healthy abortions and to simply choose, students are seemingly being punished for advocating pro-choice views.

Has anyone heard of any other stories similar to this?

 

Beware of Complacency

18 Mar

For weeks there was a virtual onslaught of antichoice activity related to or coming directly out of every major social and cultural institution in the United States, reinforced by similar activities worldwide. Policy was being pushed through the state and federal level to put the rights of fetuses over the rights of women, to criminalize abortion in every way legally possible, and to de-criminalize murder in the name of defending the unborn. Religions were coalescing around anti-choice the way they had previously mobilized against LGBTQQAI rights. Institutionalized racism was playing an insidious role, calling the decisions of black and African American women to have abortions a “genocide” and also managing, somehow, to compare these choices to the historical horrors of slavery.

On top of these full frontal assaults, the anti-choice movement was also insidiously chipping away at the foundations of the women’s health movement, rendering all women, whether they ever chose to become mothers, have an abortion, or simply continue to go on living, unsafe from a number of preventable medical conditions, including cervical cancer. (Dear Antis: HARD TO CHOOSE TO BECOME A LOVING BIOLOGICAL MOTHER IF CERVICAL CANCER RENDERS YOU UNABLE TO HAVE CHILDREN). In Seattle, land that launched grunge, flannel, and a thousand surprisingly laid-back coffee addicts, a man burst into a women’s health clinic screaming about “baby killers” and “murderers.” These have not been the best of times.

Yet, for the last two weeks or so, I would put the number of terrifying stories and developments regarding women’s health and choice in this country at about average, which is to say, “quite a few, but not so many that it feels like an hourly onslaught from which we may never recover.” And that quiet is dangerous. Did you ever read “All Quiet on the Western Front”? In it, the war rages endlessly around a man who continues to survive, mostly through luck. And on the last page, the main character is killed on an unusually quiet, peaceful day, a day on which the army report contains only one phrase: “All quiet on the Western Front.”

I’m calling this our Western Front. This is not the time for complacency – this is the time to evaluate the situation, assess our needs, re-group, and make decisions about how to move forward. I admit to taking a week off myself. I was exhausted and burned out, and the thought of staying angry seemed like it might require too much energy. But I slept in for a few days, had some coffee, and got back up to lace up my combat boots. I ask you to do the same. Because I assure you, the anti-choice movement, despite its protestations, is every bit as prepared and well-funded as we are, and in some cases, better prepared and better funded, and their roots in the religious structure of this nation go too deep to be untangled. In other words, whatever fights they lost this round, they will be back to fight again.

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