Archive | September, 2011

Egg Donation: A Lesson in Patience

14 Sep

A friend of mine, and fellow blogger here, gave me some words of wisdom a short while back regarding this whole egg donation business. She said “The coordinators are always enthusiastic about placing people. I was more realistic about how long I thought my placement would take, since I’m very short. Honestly, the process took about 6 months before a match was confirmed.”

A lesson in realism and patience. It’s been 3 months since I started working with Columbia, and 2 months since I had my physical. I’ve been matched with potential recipients twice. So far, no takers. It’s tough to sit and wait. And it is worse when they call you and tell you that in 2 weeks, you may be starting the process. Then 2 weeks go by with no news, and it’s a huge let down.

Part of what sucks is how excited my coordinator was. She told me flat out that there would be “no issues with placing me really quickly.” What she didn’t specify is what she meant by “really quickly.” My old coordinator suggested that “quickly” could be a matter of weeks. I was already skeptical heading into Columbia, but still. It’s frustrating, because you can’t talk to the recipients and tell them how awesome you really are. And it’s humbling, because these families are choosing someone else, and you will never know why.

I’m lucky to live in a huge city where there are lots of places for me to try to get matched. And I plan on applying to NYU next. The more locations that I can use, the better my chances are. But at this point, I’m getting a little downtrodden about the whole thing. It’s not like I dwell on it everyday or anything, but once a week or so, someone who knows that I’m trying to do this asks about my matches. It sucks to tell them that I wasn’t chosen.

So, for those of you out there who are thinking about becoming egg donors, consider the waiting game. And for those of you somewhere along in the process, good luck! I hope that you are matched soon.

Lynn Paltrow on the Strengths and Weaknesses of Pro-Choice Lawyering

12 Sep

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, is a genius. In her latest article for the New York Univeristy Review of Law & Social Change, she talks about missed opportunities of pro-choice litigators. A few snippets below:

On the limitations of only litigating on abortion:

If “pro-choice” advocates keep responding to efforts tore-criminalize abortion only by arguing for the legality of abortion, then we accept a narrow image of women as “people who have abortions” rather than as people who sometimes have abortions and far more often have children and take responsibility for raising them and caring for them and the homes they live in.

On the importance of fighting for women as both mothers and people who have abortions:

By recognizing that Roe and the debate around it also affects mothers,  “pro-choice” activists can more effectively challenge the existing framework that falsely suggests that  there are two kinds of women: those who have abortions and those who have babies. If pro-choice advocates acknowledge that the vast majority of women who have abortions are the same women who have babies, they have the opportunity to reframe the debate. They will also find many more potential allies to work with to ensure not only the right to choose abortion, but also to advocate for the social and economic conditions necessary to enable pregnant women to make real choices.
On the importance of human rights framing and challenges of “thinking like lawyers”:
As discussed below, the efforts of anti-choice activists keep public debate focused on abortion rather than other important issues of our day. Their false claims about science and history, if repeated often enough and left unchallenged, become more likely to be believed and relied upon by judges and policy makers. Furthermore, the more we permit anti-choice activists to frame the issue as a question of abortion’s legality and morality, rather than as a question of the rights and dignity of pregnant women and mothers, the more dominant this frame becomes in the public debate. The pro-choice movement’s stunning non-response reflects two concepts that are relevant to this Page to Practice Symposium. First, thinking like lawyers blinds us to a wide variety of advocacy tools that are as important as, if not more important than, legal arguments. Second, thinking like prochoice lawyers blinds us to the larger political issues at stake in the ongoing effort to overturn  Roe v. Wade and deny women their civil and human rights.
You really should read the whole thing. Then tell us what you think!

Who is the 2012 Most Misogynistic Candidate? Rick Perry

9 Sep

Every election, whether it is for a local school board spot, a state governor or the White House, there are some candidates who can only be described as “out there.”  The guy running on a platform of legalizing marijuana – for medicinal and recreational use, Ralph Nader and his Green Party, and dozens of others.  What makes these candidates so “out there” is that, no matter how much money they raise or how many elections they run in, their views are wildly disparate from those that the rest of us hold.  Which means that no matter how bizarre their speeches or strange their platforms, most Americans can rest easy knowing that their chances of being elected are slim to none.

But what do you call a candidate who believes that Ohio’s so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which will outlaw abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks of gestation, is something that should be rolled out to the rest of the country?

What do you call a candidate for President who signs a law in his home state which, were it not for the intervention of a federal judge, would force women seeking abortions to have (and pay for) sonograms and listen to the fetal heartbeat at least 24 hours prior to having their abortions?

Or  a man who wants to lead our country while forcing women who were the victims of sexual assault or incest to attest to that in writing before obtaining abortions?

This week, I have to call him Rick Perry, a man who the latest polls by ABC News and the Washington Post is in the lead to become the Republican contender in next year’s Presidential election.  Which either means that there is a lack of would be Republican candidates who care about woman or that there are more than just a few Republican voters who agree with Mr. Perry, who has been criticized for preferring to hew to an antiquated “Just Say No” style abstinence education plan in Texas, where he is Governor, rather than combat that state’s teen pregnancy rates, which have skyrocketed to become one of the highest in the country with more than 60 out of every 1,000 teenage Texan girls becoming pregnant.

What do you call Rick Perry, when he says that his abstinence only program “works” after being faced with those statistics?  Or the flock of pundits, politicians and voters who seem set on promoting his bizarre set of misogynistic values?

I’m calling it scary – what about you?

The Other American Exceptionalism: “Rape, incest, and mine”

8 Sep

Conservative thinkers have long embraced the idea of “American exceptionalism;” that is, the idea that the United States, as a nation, is qualitatively different from other nations: we are, by virtue of being one of the first Western nations founded on ideas of liberty and equality (you know, for White, land-owning men), somehow unique in history, in the eyes of God, or by whatever standard the person invoking the term deems credible.

The idea is derived from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1831), but it’s more recently become a recurring trope used by Republican presidential candidates:  Mitt Romney writes, “This reorientation away from a celebration of American exceptionalism is misguided and bankrupt”; Sarah Palin’s America by Heart has a chapter entitled “America the Exceptional”; and Rick Santorum preaches, “Don’t kid yourself with the lie.  America is exceptional.”  Get it?  We’re different.  We’re better.  We’re the exception.

Of course, none of these candidates were talking about abortion when they made these statements – but the idea of exceptionalism is surprisingly consistent in both areas of Conservative rhetoric.  It seems to me like the “My country is the best and most exceptional country in the world” is just a step removed from the “My abortion is most necessary and my reasons are the most valid, and my abortion is the one acceptable abortion of all the abortions ever.”

Our blogger Lauren has previously written here on the Abortion Gang about “The Exceptions” and why the “I’m-pro-life-except-in-cases-of-rape-and-incest” or “I’m-pro-choice-but-not-after-X-number-of-weeks” frameworks are so problematic.  But the personal exception takes these even further. Because, don’t kid yourself, anti-choicers get abortions every day.  And each one of them in “the exception.”

I recently finished reading Carol Joffe’s Dispatches from the Abortion Wars, and she illustrates this concept perfectly:

The palpable sense of isolation and corresponding lack of solidarity with other patients were for me one of the most interesting things to emerge from this study. “I am a Christian – I am not doing this casually,” clearly suggesting that others in the waiting room were not so thoughtful and moral… Perhaps the starkest example of isolation came from one woman’s response to the question of whether she would “ever consider being part of a group that supports people who get abortions.” Her answer was an emphatic no.  As she put it, “I wouldn’t support them because… it [might become] a habit for everyone.” The speaker was a twenty-year-old mother of one, about to have her second abortion.

Even more extreme were those stories of clinic protestors who then showed up inside the clinic when they or their daughter had an unplanned pregnancy: “The provider community wrly describes this unique patient group as ‘the women whose three acceptable exceptions for an abortion are “rape, incest, or mine.”’”  For even more examples, please read Joyce Arthur’s excellent essay “The Only Moral Abortion is my Abortion.”

Perhaps the most startling example of such exceptionalism is from “Don’t-kid-yourself” Rick Santorum.  Days after discovering her fetus had a fatal defect, Santorum’s wife Karen came down with a fever, an indicator of a dangerous infection.  Inducing labor at 20 weeks gestation – nearly a month prior to viability – was the only sure way to save Karen’s life.  So, the Santorums did what nearly any family would do: they decided to save the mother’s life and proceed with inducing labor, even though that would assuredly cause the fetus’s death.  One might call this procedure a partial-birth abortion.  Except, Santorum wouldn’t call it that because he’s opposed to abortion, believes abortion providers should be jailed, and calls exceptions to save the mother’s life a “phony exception.”  Unless, of course, the life being saved is that of his wife’s.  Because his reasons were different.  Their reasons were better.  Their case was the exception.

Unfortunately (and ironically), it is not the tenets of liberty and individual freedom that Conservatives claim as the basis for American exceptionalism that translate into their stance on abortion, (as such beliefs would necessitate freedom of choice and access to abortion) but the idea of superiority and self-righteousness that endures.  What unites these paradigms is the stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge the validity of experiences outside of one’s own.

When it comes to abortion, there are no exceptions to the rule; the exceptions are the rule.  Every abortion is different.  Every person seeking an abortion has their own reasons and their own story.  No exceptions.

“The biggest enemy of the Catholic church is a woman that thinks, reads and votes”: On Pro-choice Catholicism

7 Sep

It is easy for activists, writers,  and lovers of everything pro-choice to speak on what must be done in the movement, ways organizations can improve, and how politicians and law makers can stop being so damned patriarchal. There are a lot of “musts” right now, no one doubts that, but sometimes a woman’s voice can be lost in the rhetoric and seemingly never-ending campaigns. This is by no means something that is done deliberately, but I have recently come to the conclusion that I must shift my personal pro-choice activism to include more emphasis upon women’s lived experiences from their  own perspective.  I think the movement will ultimately be better for including regular, every-day–woman stories, mundane as they may seem.

In my effort to reach more voices and documenting more real experiences, I took the liberty to reach out  to a woman very dear to me, a person I’ve looked up to for years, and ultimately a feminist woman who’s story I knew would be good. She graciously agreed to talk about her beliefs surrounding abortion, contraception, her time in Africa in the 1990’s  and being a teen during the late 1970’s. What follows is an endearing, fascinating, heart breaking and eye-opening  conversation about abortion and birth control in the 1970’s, religion, and one woman’s journey to find her happy median between her Catholic and pro choice beliefs.

Sophia : Thank you for agreeing to sit down with me! First I would like to start by asking, in general, what type of things were common-place in your teen years sex wise? And when exactly were you a teen?

Lisa*: I graduated high school in 1977 when I was 17, so  my whole teen years were during the onset of the Gloria Steinem era, the ERA, and the advent of birth control. Honestly, I was not sexually active until I was a year out of high school, because back in those days you got a reputation as a girl.  Boys had a reputation, too, though.  If a guy wanted sex from you right away, he was known as a “wolf.” I don’t think most of the girls in my high school went all the way until they were going steady, you know, they had developed relationships. Most of the time-and there were obviously one on one relationships- what we did, we did in groups. There were a few stereotypical king and queen of the prom, football player and cheerleader kinds of things, but because  we were graduating in the 70’s a lot of girls wanted to go to college and didn’t want to get married right away, there were other avenues for us.  I grew up in a military city, San Diego, so the Navy just started recruiting women for more leadership positions and  title 9 passed when I was a senior so the idea of women’s athletics was really coming on. There were a lot more ways for women to be independent and take a different route.

Sophia: What was common birth control?

Lisa: Condoms, foam, and contraceptive cream.

Sophia: What did that do? What did you do with that?

Lisa: It’s , you know, you put it up your vagina…

Sophia: Like Mono-stat?

Lisa: Yeah, you gotta wait 15 minutes (laughs) … Do do dooo…everything’s very hot and heavy and you gotta wait. And then douching was really big, lemon juice and water, vinegar and water, pepsi,  anything that you knew was acidic. Women would do that before [sex] and after. We had a big joke when I was in high school that we were the “pepsi generation”. We were told we couldn’t get pregnant standing up, and a big thing was that we couldn’t get pregnant when you have sex on your period.  So if a guy was down with that , girls thought it was okay.

Mostly, contraceptive wise, girls depended on a guy to pull out or to have a condom. Most girls didn’t go all the way but  they would do the petting. Petting was a big thing,  because if you got pregnant you were doomed because you had to go to a pregnant girls place, you had to leave town. Nobody, nobody,  kept their babies. Even as cosmopolitan as [California] was, no one kept their babies.

Sopha: What did women do for abortions?

Lisa: A lot of girls went out of state, or they went to Puerto Rico or Mexico, a lot of girls went to Arizona.  We had the back alley abortion, coat hanger abortions or  you would go to a midwife, or  a guy that was in second or third year of medical school. Or you would go out of state , or you go to Mexico. It was just a 6 hour drive from were I lived in San Diego.  The idea was you went away for a long weekend and you came back and nobody was the wiser.  When I was a senior in high school and then after high school, , it was the  advent of planned parenthood and free clinics and stuff, so when I went to college I was on birth control and it was great.

Sophia: Can you talk a bit about when you learned about sex and STI’s ?

Lisa: In 6th grade, the girls went with the girls and the boys went with the boys for the sex ed classes. The Kotex company supplied the female teachers with pads,  have you seen a sanitary napkin, um, belt?  (Laughs again and stands up to demonstrate.) Well, you had an elastic belt and you snap the pad on in the front and back and then you put that between your legs. That’s all we had, we couldn’t use a tampon because we could break the hymen, that was a big deal. I didn’t start my period until I was 16, and it was just awful.It was like wearing an oven-mitt between your legs. You couldn’t do sports with this big wad of stuff underneath you. If you were on the swim team you couldn’t practice or you were forced to use a tampon. The technology for us was not as good as you all have it.

But regarding the sex ed, we learned how babies were made. The girls could ask questions and boys could ask questions, at a young age (6th grade)  we really got good information.  Later on, In biology class  in high school we had the information about STD’s and how to prevent pregnancies.  My parents were really good about [talking about sex] too.

Back in my day syphilis and gonorrhea were the two sexually transmitted diseases, we didn’t have chlamydia or HIV. Growing up in a Navy town you knew that people had multiple partners were more susceptible. We were taught what to look for with gonorrhea and syphilis and the public health department was great because they would treat you for no charge and clean you up… but that was back in the glory days.

We had a lot of romantic movies but no one ever told us how to have an orgasm or anything like that. It just wasn’t anything anyone ever talked about. The Feminine Mystique and Our Bodies, Our Selves came out and Woodstock was in ’69 so that whole decade was the advent of feeling good and the Joy of Sex, all of that. So more emphasis on feeling good was made.  Prior to that though, it was all about pro-creation, it wasn’t about being pleasurable or a woman’s pleasure.

With the birth control pill, we could hook up with somebody and once we didn’t have to worry about pregnancy, we thought, ‘this is it, really?’  I had a boyfriend in college, and I just adored him, we had a great sex life, but the  thing I enjoyed the most was the hugging and kissing, the preamble, but initially I was like, ‘um okay…’  We knew what the clitoris was from a physiological standpoint but we didn’t know anything about pleasure centers or anything like that.

Sophia: Did you ever learn anything about homosexuality or trans-identities?

Lisa: No, it wasn’t taught. We had stereotypes associated with homosexuality, but there wasn’t anyone out because being in a military town you couldn’t be overt about being gay. At that time, gay men were stereotyped to like drama, theater and thought to dress really well, for lesbian women they were considered to be athletic tom boys. But there wasn’t this thing that we see now where gay men are considered pedophiles or the idea that all homosexuals are predators.  The only time we saw or heard of a trans person or cross-dresser was only with the drag queens down on Broadway. We didn’t hear about trans youth.

The big thing then was a show hosted by Phil Donahue. He had on “men who dress as women” and he had reproductive rights as a topics. I remember his show was on in the afternoon and I would come home from school and watch it with my mother. I feel like that was the sort of start of talk radio, talk shows, and all of that.

Sophia: So, switching topics a bit, would you consider yourself a feminist?

Lisa: Yeah, I joined NOW (National Organization for Women) as a sophomore in high school, that would have been 1974. I was on the debate team and I always argued why Colorado should be the state that tipped the ERA into law. I was a big supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Sophia: Are you still a Planned Parenthood supporter, being that you’re very religious?

Lisa: Well, I was very religious then, too.

I was brought up cradle Catholic, but my parents taught me that the church is an institution and I learned pretty fast that it was just a patriarchal thing. But remember in the 70’s and 80’s, American nuns were speaking out so I had a good model for that. I remember Pope Paul VI   came on a tour of the United States and spoke to a bunch of religious orders and four or five  nuns stood up and turned their back to him the entire time in protest.  It was a great.  I knew there were other Catholic women that felt like I did.  The Bible is full of stuff about talking care of your brother and feeding children and taking care of widows and orphans… So you know , I never had problems with supplying people birth control.

I remember when the birth control pills became readily available, the Catholic church made a big bru-hahah over that, about how women should not take birth control because they were thwarting God’s plan. So there was a lot of this new medicine, technology was better, women were out on the streets…liberating themselves saying, ‘I’m not going to be chained to stove anymore’ but the Catholic Church just had a conniption fit.  At every turn (of new reproductive rights and medical technology) there was ‘no you can’t do that,’ and you would go to hell for ‘killing your baby,’ if you had an abortion.  But I knew from a scientific standpoint that it wasn’t [murder]. Having that knowledge of how a fetus develops…I knew that at 12 weeks or whatever, that’s not a life.

I love me some Jesus, but you know, I really don’t love the church. I learned in the 70’s that the male hierarchy of the church would do everything in their power to keep people in a box and ignorant. I mean, in terms of the Church’s position on when life begins the Bible says that Adam wasn’t viable until God breathed life into him. So you have to breathe to be a life, that’s what I believe.

I go to a Convent for mass now, it’s all women and the Nuns there are great. They do a lot of great things social justice wise there. I brought your dad there once and he was  totally outnumbered, it was great, now he knows how women feel.

For me, at the end of the day, I think the biggest enemy of the Catholic church  is a woman that thinks, reads and votes. So they do what they can to prevent that.

Sophia: So, you lived in Africa, what was abortion and reproductive rights like there?

Lisa: There was a lot of folk medicine that women would ingest if they wanted to miscarry because in my part of the third world you wouldn’t want to go to the hospitals there.  It wasn’t an option. It was that  bad.  I was in Cameroon, West Africa, for 2 years with the Peace Corps from 1990 to 1992.

From a family standpoint, it reminded much of the US in 1800’s where women helped other women with the children and the work. So the idea of having a lot of kids wasn’t necessarily a hindrance. But,  those women didn’t really have any other options either. In that society, the more children you have the more virile, and thus successful,  you are, for the men.  So there was that motivation to have lots of kids, from  the man’s perspective of course.. Also, most families didn’t name their children until 5 or 6 years old because infant mortality was so high.

There were definite roles for women but the society is very tribal, like 23 tribes in Cameroon (which is the size of California) and heavily Muslim in the north. They got a lot of support for having kids, most women had about 5 kids and there wasn’t any stigma if you had a baby out of wed lock. Also, because there was not social welfare for people in old age, for women, the kids were like a security blanket to take care of them in old age. Still,  one of the things we did was teach women how to use condoms and foam, that’s all they had, and say, ‘you know, you don’t have to have any more kids if you don’t want them.’

In terms of birth control, they had, like, a crude IUD, where they would put lemon seeds or something in the uterus and they use a lot of herbal medicine. But like the woman in Idaho burying her fetus, if they didn’t have resources for a baby they just had, they would put it in the jungle or if the woman had a twin they would pick which one they wanted and put the other one in the jungle. That was readily accepted because you had to live, you can’t afford to keep the baby, you had to live.

I would like to conclude with a heartfelt  thanks to Lisa for agreeing to talk so openly about her experiences.

* Name changed to protect her privacy.

Where do 2012 presidential candidates stand on reproductive rights?

6 Sep

With the 2012 elections fast approaching (less than 430 days until we cast our ballots) the perspective presidential field is becoming clearer.  With potential nominees like Donald Trump, Tim Pawlenty, and Mike Huckabee having already decided against running, the nomination is wide open.  Currently there are 4 or so people who seem to be the “front runners” in the race, and their views on reproductive rights are nothing short of alarming.

Ron Paul

Before entering politics in the 1970’s, Paul worked as an OB/GYN.  During his time in the medical field, he delivered more than 4,000 babies.  He says that this experience has led him to his view that life starts at conception.  Paul says that he is “an unshakable foe of abortion” and claims that he has never dealt with a pregnant woman who medically needed an abortion.  He was the prime sponsor of HR300, a bill that would overturn Roe v. Wade and put the power to regulate the legality of abortion in the state’s hands.  While Paul’s 2012 campaign has received more support than his 2008 campaign, it still seems unlikely that he will be able to secure the nomination.

Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is the only woman being considered for the nomination, yet is one of the most anti-choice.  During her congressional campaigns she was endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that promotes women in politics who oppose the right to choose.  She also signed the “2012 Pro-life Presidential Leadership Pledge” which states that if elected president she will only nominate “pro-life” appointees to the Supreme Court and certain Cabinet and Executive Branch positions.  By signing the pledge she also promises to defund Planned Parenthood and advance anti-abortion legislation, if elected president.  At a recent debate she was asked if abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest, and in response she told the crowd that she was 100% pro-life.

Before getting involved in national politics, Bachmann and her husband volunteered as “sidewalk counselor” and frequently prayed outside abortion clinics.  She has spoken in support of other sidewalk counselors and worked to stop tax dollars going to hospitals that perform abortions.  Like Paul, Bachmann’s chances of getting the nomination are unlikely.

Mitt Romney

After an unsuccessful 2008 run, Mitt Romney is back to try for 2012 and seems to be the most likely nominee.  Romney has the experience, political support, and money to orchestrate a successful run– he is also the most moderate, but tends to flip-flop on important issues.

Until 2005 he identified as pro-choice and even made donations with his wife to Planned Parenthood.  While Romney stated that he personally opposed abortion, he strongly supported the right to access abortion services.  In 2005 though he did a complete flip-flop and vetoed a bill that would expand access to emergency contraception.  While not directly affecting abortion access, this signaled a change in his position on the matter.  It is still unclear what his specific views on abortion are.  He opted not to sign the Pro-Life Leadership Pledge that Michele Bachmann and other candidates signed, so this could be signaling another change in Romney’s personal views.  Even so, it seems unlikely that he would be able to gain the support he needs from the Conservative Republican leadership if he came out as pro-choice.  

Rick Perry

Aside from Romney, Rick Perry is probably the most likely candidate.  He has the power and connection to do it, and being Governor of Texas (as George W. Bush was before he was elected) doesn’t hurt either.  Perry also happens to be the most outwardly anti-choice of any of the candidates.  He too signed the Pro-Life Leadership Pledge, but that was almost unnecessary given the laws he’s been putting in place in Texas.  Earlier this year Perry labeled a new abortion regulation law as an “emergency”, pushing it into debate ahead of truly pressing issues like Texas’s unemployment and healthcare problems.  Recently key portions of that same law— which would have forced women wanting to have an abortion to see the fetus on a sonogram, listen to a heartbeat, hear a scripted anti-abortion speech read by their doctor, and wait another 24 hours before being allowed to have the procedure done— were struck down by a judge.  Perry has also worked to nearly eliminate all family planning funds and keep Texas schools teaching abstinence only education (even though it doesn’t work).

What about President Obama?

While we may not always be happy with how President Obama is representing the pro-choice movement, I think we can all agree that he is better than any of these people.  He may not always listen to our ideas, or react the way we would like him to, but there’s no way that any possible Republican nominee would be better.  It is important that we not blindly follow him, but it is also important that we look at the competition and realize how much worse it could be; and that is why I will be voting for Barak Obama in the 2012 elections.

The $11,000 Convenience

5 Sep

A couple weeks ago I had a girls weekend with 2 very good friends. Both of them would describe themselves as feminists. My one friend was recently married but doesn’t expect to have kids any time soon. We were discussing birth control and sex, as we are wont to do. My married friend and her husband are very careful and use hormonal and barrier methods; I just use hormonal. She pondered what would happen if she got pregnant now. I piped up and told her that if she wasn’t ready for kids, she could have an abortion. She was quite taken aback by my suggestion that she have an abortion “for convenience.” In her mind, she is married, she has a house, they have jobs, albeit her job is as a TA while in grad school – she and her husband could afford a child, and thus an abortion would be for mere “convenience.” As I am wont to do, I stated in no uncertain terms that if I got pregnant before I was ready, I would have an abortion.

Antis love to talk about how women have abortions for “convenience.” The definition of which is a moving target depending on which anti you speak with. I am currently reading Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine. While little of it surprises me, it is very eye opening. She references hundreds of studies that have been done to discredit any notion that gender is innate. Many of these studies illustrate how women are constantly subjected to moving targets. In a series of studies, researchers demonstrated how participants would mould a job that was traditionally male in such a manner so as to make it fit the strengths of a male applicant. For example, when the job was as a construction manager, 1 applicant had more education and less experience and the other had more experience and less education. When sex was not mentioned, 76% of male undergrads strongly preferred the more educated applicant. When sex was mentioned, 75% preferred the better educated male candidate over a female candidate with more industry experience. But when the female applicant had more education, only 43% preferred her over the male with more experience (Norton, Vandello & Darley, 2004). In a similar study involving a police chief position when the applicant was a male, participants placed greater value on whatever skill he possessed more of, be it education or experience, more than the skill he possessed less of, so as to mould the job to fit his skills (Uhlmann & Cohen, 2005). As the researchers wryly stated, it is not a matter of picking the right person for the job, it’s picking the right job for the man. No matter what, when a job is traditionally male, women face a moving target that cannot be met.

When discussed in relation to motherhood notions of gender are even more punishing for women. In a study using identical resumes for 2 women, participants consistently rated the mother as 10% less competent and 15% less committed than the non-mother. Only 47% of mothers compared with 84% of non-mothers were recommended for hire as head of the marketing department for a start-up communications company. Not only that, but the mother was docked in her salary by a whopping $11,000 (Correll, Benard & Paik, 2007). When antis discuss abortion as a matter of convenience, are they considering that a mother is less hireable and worthy of significantly less salary than non-mothers? How can $11,000 be considered a matter of convenience? In a follow up study, employers were sent resumes for 2 applicants, both of the same gender. Men, whether they had kids or not, received the same number of call-backs. But women who had kids were subjected to a significant “motherhood penalty” and received half as many call-backs as their identically qualified childless counterparts (Crosby, Williams & Biernat, 2004). And the kicker? Women are punished for displaying “masculine” traits such as aggression just as much as they are punished for displaying “feminine” traits such as compassion (eg. Bolino & Turnley, 2003, and others).

Nothing about those statistics is a matter of convenience. I do not believe that any abortion can be said to have be done for mere convenience sake when mothers face this sort of discrimination. This is not even about career advancement, but simply hiring. The fact remains, if you are a mother you are less likely to be brought in for an interview, less likely to be hired, and you are going to be paid less. How can the inability to get interviews, get hired, or get paid be considered matters of convenience? The fact is abortions for convenience sake are a myth.