Archive | May, 2011

Egg Donor Chronicle

23 May

I recently made the decision to become an egg donor. One of my friends is a donor, and she convinced me to do it. If you’re curious, keep your eye out for more posts chronicling the process.

Why I made this decision:

First, I’ve become pregnant before, despite using birth control. My OBGYN called me “a fertile Mertyl.” So, I took that as an indication that, perhaps, I may have eggs to spare. It seemed like a logical choice. Second, one of my friends is a donor and she told me that the experience would be life changing. I’m into helping people and this is an exciting new opportunity to try to do that. Third, it pays well. If I failed to mention this part, I would be being dishonest. With $30,000 of debt, this is a quick solution to at least some of that.

The process so far:

Once you have decided to go this route, done your research on companies and the process, and spoken with significant others and/or roommates who may be effected by this decision, the first step is to apply. This part is very simple. All you have to do is go to the website of the reputable egg donation company that you have found (I’m using the company that my friend works through), and fill out the application online.

Next, someone from the company will contact you and ask you some more general health, personality and academic questions. You will also need to provide pictures of yourself, transcripts from your college (possibly; I do) and anything else that the company and the potential recipients require.

Third, you must begin to monitor your menstrual cycle very closely. The company will require that you undergo a battery of tests (I have not begun this process yet. Look for more posts when I do). The most important test is your fertility test, which MUST happen on the third day of your period (or so I’ve been told).

For me, this third requirement became complicated. Nearly 8 months ago, I had the Mirena IUD inserted. For many reasons, this was a bad choice for me (I had a lot of side effects). Ultimately, it was stopping my period. I could no longer reliably tell when I was having one, despite near-constant cramping.

Yesterday, I had my IUD removed.  For me, removing it was a part of the decision-making process, not only because I hated it and I needed to know when I was having a period for this process, but because it is a big decision to expose myself to the risk of unintended pregnancy again.

Lastly, the rest of the process is explained by the counselors. It involves birth control, hormone shots, daily doctor’s appointments, no-sex periods of time, and more. As I continue to go through this process, I’ll keep updating you with posts. Please feel free to direct questions to me in the comments section.

Review of Silent Choices: Black Women and Abortion

20 May

The other day, I watched (and enjoyed) a documentary called Silent Choices. Silent Choices is about abortion and other reproductive justice issues in the black community. The idea itself is wonderful; black women’s experiences are often ignored in the mainstream media and pro-choice movement itself. This documentary uplifts black women’s voices, which is a wonderful change from the typically white-dominated talk about abortion.

This documentary  succeeds in showcasing black women’s abortion related stories. Too often, attempts to discuss the issues of marginalized groups end up as people speaking over these groups, as opposed to people allying with them. This is not one of those documentaries. The makers of Silent Choices let black women speak for themselves; for once, black women’s voices were uplifted, not trampled over.

Every woman in this documentary had a touching story to tell, but one woman’s story in particular really touched me. Angela shared her pre-Roe illegal, back alley abortion story. She was afraid to tell her mother because she had five kids, loved kids, and would probably forbid the abortion, but after thinking about it, Angela says that her mother “may have done the same,” recognizing that all types of women need and use abortion. Angela attempted to abort her pregnancy twice. The first time, the person who attempted the abortion on her simply gave her a shot and then punched her in the stomach. After this failed attempt, she went to someone else. She describes this back-alley clinic as “factory-like” and she says that the provider was mean to her. She says, “it wasn’t like you could call somebody and take your choice of a good clinic. You had to find somebody underground, you had to find somebody who did this stuff.” Angela is not alone in her experience. People of color are disproportionately affected by poverty, and therefore are disproportionately affected by restrictive anti-choice laws. A white woman is far more likely to be able to afford to travel, to take more days off of work, or to pay more in order to obtain a safe abortion. Angela, along with many other women, did not have those options. The more restrictions we put on abortion, the more stories like Angela we have. Reproductive justice is not simply an issue of sexism; it is also an issue of racism and classism.

One aspect of this documentary that disappointed me was how much air time was given to anti-choicers, particularly one male anti-choicer. At some point in the documentary, it went from being a film that uplifted black women’s voices to typical anti-choice babble that went without rebuttal. I’m not going to lie; I kind of nodded off while listening to the anti-choicers talk.

The documentary ended off with a montage of responses to this statement, made by an anti-choicer: “Abortion is a white woman’s issue.” I found it refreshing to see pro-choicers rebuking this ridiculous statement. Overall, I thought this documentary did a great job at uplifting black women’s voices and illustrating how abortion and other reproductive rights issues affect the black community. This film is easily worth the five dollars being asked for it; I recommend it.

Combining a Love of Sports, Love of Feminism

19 May

If you’re reading this article, you’re like me. No, I do not necessarily mean you, too, are an outspoken proponent of everything pro-choice, rather, we are alike in that we are both dynamic, interesting, multi-faceted human beings with a diversity of interests and causes that create the brilliant kaleidoscope of life. Those interests and causes-experiences, really- shape who we are, how we think, how we judge ourselves and others. As human beings,  all have so many experiences, it’s hard to say , “that one experience defines me.”  Because our experiences work together creating part of our selves, and help to define our interests and drive the passion that makes us take up a cause.

In my home for much of my childhood, expectations from my parents seemed to fall along the gender binary. My brothers played sports, my sister and I took violin and piano lessons, respectively. Nothing out of the ordinary, really, until I decided that the feminine-labeled gendered activities my parents’ really encouraged me to participate in just didn’t interest me anymore. I was enthralled with baseball, and football, and basketball, and any other sport I could clap my eyes and ears on.

I don’t remember how old I was, only that at some point during my early adolescence, I fell head over heals in love with sports.

While feminism and pro-choice ideology don’t have to go hand-in-hand-in theory- I tend to think the first moment I felt that I was pro-choice was the same moment  I asked my mother-at the tender age of 5 and a half- why she stayed home and my dad got to have fun at work.  I can’t recall her answer, but knowing my mother, she found a way to paint being a stay-at-home mom as powerful and full of meaning; which it is for some, but for my mother, I know now it was draining and bled from her the very light she drew upon to paint, sing and ultimately, stay sane.

Nevertheless, I was feminist and pro-choice all at the same time, because the moment I started questioning the way of my 5 year old world, was the moment I realized my mother did not have the same life and level of happiness of my father, that there was a distinct void between what expectations of my father were, and what the expectations of my mother. Different, and very unfavorable to my mother, I realized, and immediately began think, “that just isn’t fair.”

That sense of fairness, or rather, that women should be allowed a fair shot in whatever they do, has stayed with me ever since.

So here I have two causes I feel passionately about,  that often collide in a big way in my life, usually with awkward, sometimes unfortunate results. Both sports and pro-choice have so long been a part of my life that removing one or the other, in order to avoid conflict, just can’t happen. I’m a blogger on a pro-choice website and run my own network of sports websites and blogs. I embrace, indeed make a living, off of new media. Because the professional sports industry is entrenched in ugly sexism, base-level advertising, and all about machismo maximization, combining these two interests of mine has been difficult, actually, it has been possible.

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Learning From American Mistakes

18 May

On May 2nd, Canadians made a horrible decision. Well 39% of the 61.4% (5.8 million of 33 million people) of the population that voted did anyways. We gave Stephen Harper his long-coveted majority.

While he has sworn up and down that his party (ironically referred to as the CPC) won’t touch abortion, nobody in the pro-choice world believes him. His party is full of antis who would like nothing more than to see women die rather than obtain safe, legal abortions. Now that Harper can do just about anything he wants for the next 4 years, the pro-choice world is holding it’s breath, waiting for the first anti-choice bill to be introduced in the 41st Parliament. It will most certainly be a Private Member Bill, which usually means a free vote. But of course nothing is truly free. Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) has just released their breakdown of pro- and anti-choice MPs. Unfortunately there is a large number of, mostly CPC, MPs with an “unknown” stance so the number of anti-choice MPs may very well outnumber pro-choicers or the numbers may be tight. The NDP may be the saving feature because they are a pro-choice party (vs the Liberals who allow MPs to “vote with their conscience”) and the NDP is the Official Opposition. What I am waiting to see is if we learn from America’s mistakes.

Roe v. Wade was not nearly as strong a support for abortions rights as the Morgentaler decision, but that doesn’t mean we won’t fall prey to the “concessions” made with the antis – giving up the rights of low-income women so that wealthy women still have access to abortion. The problem, as is most evident now than ever, is that if you give an anti an inch, they will take a mile. We have been diligent in Canada, us pro-choicers, in protecting our abortions rights, but there is only so much we can do. Now it is up to the MPs in the house to not concede one millimeter. They cannot agree to one concession with the antis because that one concession, over time, will inevitably snowball into the situation we see in America.

Our government is bound and determined to not learn from America’s “war on drugs” and mega-prison mentality. Harper is hell-bent on remaking those mistakes. The pro-choicers in Canada must stand their ground. We must not accept one single concession. We must demand more. More access, more prevention, more freedom. We must not look to “agree to disagree” or appease the antis. We must look them in the eye and tell them they can take their “moral high-ground” and stick it. We are going to demand abortions access in the most remote areas; we must demand more support for those who choose abortion. Pro-choicers in Canada must fight fire with fire. We cannot give in because as soon as we do, as soon as we concede one point, we lose everything.

Write your MPs and let them know your stance on right to access. The antis certainly make their presence be known, so make yours be known as well. Pay attention to the Bills that come before the house. Be diligent. Fight every single one as if it wants to thrown women in jail for abortions because that is what will come if we don’t.

Sterilization by Choice

17 May

I would like to turn your attention to an excellent recent article in the Toronto Star about women who choose to have tubal ligations. It is a great piece and I urge you to read the whole thing, but here’s the part that sums it up for me:

“To [Sarah] Lawrance, tubal ligations are a matter of control and autonomy. And while people have their own opinions, that choice should belong to the woman alone.

‘You need to let people make their own decisions about how to lead their lives,’ she says. ‘Even if you think they’re wrong.'”

I love that this issue is getting some attention. It is one thing to be childfree by choice, which is a movement that is building momentum, and it is another to want to physically, permanently prevent pregnancy. In my experience, many people who are perfectly supportive of the former tend to recoil at the thought of the latter, especially if, as the article mentions, the woman in question is under 30 or hasn’t had children, or both.

I am 27. I recently had an IUD inserted. If I thought there was any chance of a doctor performing a tubal ligation on me, I would have had that done instead, but honestly I didn’t even try. I know at my age, with no children, there wouldn’t be a chance. I was recently talking to a coworker who has had four children (one stillborn), and who is now trying to have a tubal ligation. Her doctor reluctantly provided her with the referral, but not before grilling her at length about how she would react to every possible situation that might make her want more children, such as one of her children dying (“Been there, done that” she says bitterly), or the breakup of her relationship (I’m not sure how that would make someone want more children, but okay). It was only because of her previous deliveries and the fact that she had the consent of her long-term partner that the doctor allowed her to go ahead.

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Why Abortion Restrictions are Big-Government Interference: What Happened in Kansas

16 May

It’s not exactly a secret anymore that “conservative” has become a tragic code word for “hypocritical.” Conservatives want small government, low taxes, and no regulation – on banks, insurance companies, and Wall Street financial institutions (incidentally, these are the people who fund their campaigns). Conservatives want to regulate the ever-loving crap out of the most private, personal matters that concern women and queers, including marriage and healthcare, no matter what it costs – and it just cost Indiana $4 million.

Did you ever hear the joke about the Jewish dilemma? Free bacon.* The conservative dilemma is similar – what to do when regulating bodies requires regulating businesses? What will win out? Will the conservative need to fiercely protect the freedoms of billion-dollar private corporations take precedence, or will the desire to tell people what they can and cannot do with their bodies based on an entirely arbitrary set of “moral” principles prove to be too strong.

The decision in Kansas would seem to indicate which way the wind is blowing, and like everything else these days, it doesn’t look good for uteri.

Kansas legislators have decided to tell insurance companies what kind of medical procedures they can and cannot cover. And they’re not looking to legislate the sale of viagra, or plastic surgery, or non-FDA approved medications – no, they’re coming right for the abortions, which are, obviously, the scourge of American society. Health insurance companies are posting unheard-of record profits while raising premiums, but the government will have no comment on that, THANKS – commenting on the fact that American consumers are getting royally screwed would be interfering with business, and you know America is built on the totally unregulated success of businesses screwing over consumers! So they’re gonna let that slide, for the good of the nation – but not abortion. Offering to cover a necessary, legal medical procedure – now that is just a bridge too far.

*Don’t worry, you can laugh – this moment brought to you by a Jew.

Why I am Pro-Choice

13 May

A guest post by Merinda of Quietly Questioning.

I managed to get through high school, and most of university without having to confront difficult decisions about unplanned pregnancy. I had one or two too-close-for-comfort moments, but through a combination of responsibility and luck, it wasn’t until last year that I had to really think about unplanned pregnancy, abortion, adoption and parenthood in any real way. Prior to that, it was a straightforward, yet abstract notion.

Sure, I had considered what I might do if faced with an unplanned pregnancy at various stages since I had become sexually active, but it was always very hypothetical. None of my close friends had ever really had to have those contemplations either, that we talked about.

So I moved in with my boyfriend who I’d been with for more than a year. We were very much in love and had started to dance around the topics of children and planning into the future and all of the things that simultaneously horrified and excited me.

I was taking the contraceptive pill and we had stopped using condoms. I missed some pills after we returned from a holiday, so, concerned, I went to my doctor; she did a pregnancy test which was negative, and reassured me saying that there was probably nothing to worry about due to the time of my cycle that I’d missed the pills. Around 5 days later, I got what I assumed was a period, and was of course very relieved. However, it turns out that wasn’t actually a period… Around 3 weeks later, I found out that I was in fact, pregnant.

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