Thursday, September 29, 2011

All stigma great and small

Gender Across Borders just hosted a fantastic series on stigma, including - shocker - abortion stigma. Stigma against providers as well as patients, perceived as well as anticipated, internalized as well as externally enforced. I'll probably be talking more about these things in the coming weeks.

But the thing I really want to talk about ASAP is this one: Pivotal Positions: Transforming Abortion Provider Stigma. Jennifer Colletti accurately depicts stigma against providers as the complex and diversely-manifested problem that it really is. It's not felt the same way or from the same sources in all places, and I think that's important to remember.

It's not hard for us, for abortioneers I mean, to rage against the full-blown anti-choice model of stigma: literally demonizing us and alleging Satanic rituals, stalking our children, calling providers murderers and those who provide any related care accomplices (or "killer-helpers," in the words of one persistent but not very inventive fellow). When we encounter people who do this, their failure to accept our personhood and the value of our lives (while insisting that those of the embryos are inalienable, I'll add) says to us that they don't care about how life might be lived by people other than themselves, meaning they're either oblivious and narcissistic or cruel and dictatorial. So we can easily write them off.

What's harder, though, is to talk about how our parents sidestep friends' questions about what their progeny are doing these days, or how high school reunions are at even greater risk of being depressing/distressing/disastrous than for everyone else, or how we worry about our kids learning what we do not because we aren't proud but because their classmates' parents might shame or punish them.

We go to schools that don't want to talk too much about abortion because some nebulous outside audience may object; we attend reproductive health lectures by professors who feel comfortable accommodating the opinion that it's OK to be anti-reproductive health; we don't get hired because someone thought we'd bring unnecessary attention to an organization that doesn't even really care about abortion either way, maybe they even support what we do, but just wants to get its own work done without pointless interference. You will never see an abortioneer nominated to the Department of Health and Human Services.

These things don't feel like stigmatizing incidents so much as the material that our lives' scenery is made out of. It's in the water, it's in the air. It feels like there's not as much to say about them, or else you're being melodramatic, compared to how fucked up it is to get shot down dead. But it's still stigma and it still harms our health and happiness.

We need the abortioneers around us to support us through crap like this; and we need non-abortioneers around us to get it. Make it your mission to let your on-the-fencey non-abortioneer acquaintances know what you deal with just for going to work.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Got harassment???

Have you heard about Voice of Choice? Check out this landlord-turned-reproductive rights-hero Todd Stave who is sick and tired of being harassed by anti-abortion STALKERS...he speaks on the Rachel Maddow show here

This all started when Todd, who is the landlord of the building that houses Dr. Carhart's abortion clinic, refused to back down to pressure from antis. So, naturally the antis did the next logical thing and protested at Todd's children's school (yeah I know, mind is exploding) about it here

Oh, and did I mention he is a second generation abortioneer? Yup, his pops was an abortion provider! Apple did not fall far from the abortion tree...

Todd is urging everyone to check out Voice of Choice...all you have to do is click here!!!

They are looking for people to volunteer, donate, and most importantly SHARE stories about being the victim of anti-abortion harassment.

Here is a blurb from their website:

Finally, a voice of reason.

For too long, the abortion discussion has been dominated by angry, nasty protests fueled by individuals and organizations that thrive on sensationalism and extremism. Now it is our turn.

"Voice of Choice" was established as a calm, measured response to anti-abortion activists who engage in misguided, raging protest tactics that are often ill-informed and only serve to victimize women, pro-choice professionals, law-abiding businesses and unaligned bystanders.

We use email, telephone and social media in peaceful, person-to-person counter-protests, against groups that target abortion facilities, providers and patients, as well as their families and communities. We don’t question anyone’s right to express opinions and ideals; we challenge their bullying tactics and their contempt.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Until I come to you"

by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Don't knock on my door, little child,
I cannot let you in;
You know not what a world this is
Of cruelty and sin.
Wait in the still eternity
Until I come to you.
The world is cruel, cruel, child,
I cannot let you through.

Don't knock at my heart, little one,
I cannot bear the pain
Of turning deaf ears to your call,
Time and time again.
You do not know the monster men
Inhabiting the earth.
Be still, be still, my precious child,
I cannot give you birth.

From The Crisis (October 1922)

Georgia Douglas Johnson was a black poet and writer who was among the first female poets to gain recognition during the Harlem Renaissance. She was often criticized for not addressing race in her poetry however, much of her writing spoke to issues unique to women's experience.

Motherhood spoke to me in so many ways. Its about choosing motherhood and wanting to bring children into a world that is safe and kind. Based on history we know that the world was less than a safe or kind place for a black woman in the 1920s.

Women who have abortions are mothers. We are mothers of 1 or 7. We are future mothers. We are aunties who raise other people's children but never birth our own. We are women who want to come to motherhood by choice and when we know we can create a world that is as safe and kind as possible to our children. And sometimes we aren't mothers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pregnant Abortioneers: We Still Love Babies

One of my co-workers is pregnant and in her third trimester. She happens to do ultrasounds and assist the doctor during abortions. I notice that sometimes, the women stare at her belly, then quickly glance at her face. It’s as though they’re confused and searching for an answer to, “You work here? But you’re pregnant. Are you judging me?”

I wish the women who were worried if our pregnant colleague was judging them, could have seen all of us when Veronica brought in her newborn. Everyone stopped working for a bit to swoon over this precious little bundle. It was a cacophony of estrogen swirling around, making music out of all our “ooohs” and all of our “ahhhhs.” Thing is, Veronica chose to continue her pregnancy, so we sang with delight. When a woman chooses to abort, we hum. We hold her hand while she may moan and we hum with warmth, compassion, and love.

I think it’s beautiful to see a pregnant woman working at the clinic. It’s the full circle. Nothing more perfectly shows how at different stages/places in our lives, we make different choices. We are women. Women who have had abortions, miscarriages, still births, babies…we’re women who have been infertile. We are amazing and we carry all those experiences within us. Sometimes, one woman has experienced all of what I just listed. Mothers have abortions. Single women have babies.

And, just on a side note: hopefully women see our pregnant staff and realize one more myth about abortion and abortioneers is squashed. We are not baby haters. Most of us adore babies and children. Some of us have even worked in child education. Many of us are mothers. We love babies. And we also honor your choice.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Is it just me, or is 40 Days for Life like every day.

Lately, we’ve had no protestors, which is dandy. This community doesn’t tolerate them but every so often they sneak up to the corners with their grotesque posters, baby dolls, crosses, and high water khakis. Last week, we had rare but always disturbing protest activity. At the end of the day, they followed my colleagues to their cars. There was damage to bumpers backing out. My colleagues were shaken.

Dummies. It was Thursday. They were protesting annual exams, infection checks, STD testing and treatment, and birth control consultations. They were protesting the woman who just moved here because she lost her job/insurance and will be living with her brother but contracted a bacterial infection along the way. They were protesting the seventy-five year old man desiring routine testing because he was entering a new relationship. They were protesting cancer screenings, bump checks, treatment for variable degrees of genital discomfort and dysfunction. They were protesting women attempting to prevent pregnancy with contraceptives.

They are dumb.

I keep thinking one day everyone will go to sleep and have the same dream, the one about abortion being necessary. The next day everything will just fall into place.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Care and Keeping of Your Abortioneer

So, if you have stumbled upon or have been directed t0 this blog, you might have the honor of being a friend or loved one of an Abortioneer. Congratulations! Abortioneers are fascinating and dynamic people, and they can also be quite complex, and I hope that the following guide will help you to appreciate and understand your very own Abortioneer. This is, of course, intended to be a general guide, as every Abortioneer and Abortioneer's experience is unique. Now, let's get started.

As a friend/loved one of an Abortioneer, try not to joke like an anti-choicer. In some of my cruder moments, I've been known to say sarcastically, "Well, I'm off to make my living as a baby killer!" My best friend, a non-Abortioneer, is allowed to say things of that nature. However, if I have just met you and we are not BFF, it really isn't necessary to pretend you're a close-minded clown just to prove your pro-choice cred because all it really accomplishes is making me think that you're a close-minded clown trying quite feebly to prove your pro-choice cred, which is questionable, at the moment. For the time being, stick with, "Oh, you work in abortion? I completely support that. Please, tell me more."

Of course, you are more than welcome to ask questions about my job. I would much rather clarify something than have you under the (very wrong) impression that an abortion is performed through the nostril. You also can and should ask more probing questions like, "Wow, an 11-year-old who was raped...what was that like for you? Do you need to process that? I'm happy to listen."

And when it's a job where I provide compassionate and empowering care to a child who was raped and is 23 weeks pregnant, please understand that it's not just a job. I do this work because it's a calling and a passion, and it's not for everyone, and it's not easy, so it's prudent to keep in mind where I'm coming from.

On the flip side, occasionally, it's just a job. 90% of the time, I feel fortunate to do the work I do, but that doesn't make me immune to the usual workplace frustrations. That doesn't mean I'm going to turn in my letter of resignation tomorrow, but recognize that I deal with a lot of the same things that you do in corporate America. (OK, not a lot of the same things. But some.)

So, whether it's just a job or not, please honor my need to self-care, anger, or bragging. It's in the job description of an Abortioneer to deal with people in crisis, no matter how small. Even on the most tranquil day at the clinic, we're still providing customer service, and that gets stressful and/or exhausting. Thus, I might need to come home and watch a marathon of Weeds instead of vacuum the floors, and as long as the floors don't look like the ones on Hoarders, it's OK for me to zone out once in a while. (Others of us cope by vacuuming instead of vegging out. Whatever works.) I also might just need to rant and rave about injustice or frustrations, and you're not obligated to fix anything; just listen. And yes, sometimes, I have to toot my own horn about how awesomely I advocated for that client, and you're welcome to join in praising me.

And I do genuinely like talking about my job. You've probably noticed. But please be aware that there is a time and place top talk about my job and before going off on your own rant about anti-choicers, as much as I appreciate the sentiment, consider that I might not want to talk about such a loaded topic at the drop of a hat. It's a good idea simply to ask if I'd like to hear about your thoughts at the moment. I might rather just talk about what's for dinner.

In a similar vein, while I do value most of your opinions, I don't value your revolutionary thought that "if she didn't want to get pregnant, she should have just used birth control." There is no need to state the obvious, and especially, no need to state the judgmental. And please, don't play devil's advocate. A friend of mine once tried to tell me that the anti-choicers "mean well," and then I stopped most things she ever said.

Of course, even though I'm speaking for the Abortioneers as a whole, I also want to acknowledge and want you to acknowledge that there is not just one type of Abortioneer. Some of us are Christians, some of us are atheists; some of us are hippies, and some of us are socialites; and all of us are Abortioneers. And all of us are fortunate enough to have built lives full of people who adore and support us and our work, so thank you, friend.

Monday, September 19, 2011

'Tis the Season for Misinformation

How exactly can people with no true knowledge on a subject get away with telling the public lies about it? This happens all the times with antis and abortion. They just love to say things that aren't true to scare people. But that's not what I'm talking about in this case.

I'm talking about Michele Bachmann's claim that she spoke to a woman who said the HPV vaccine gave her daughter mental retardation. What?! First of all, the claim that vaccines cause horrendous side effects like autism was found to be fraudulent. Second, I've seen no legitimate source show proof that the vaccine could cause mental retardation. In fact, the CDC has information on vaccine safety on their website and lists info on the HPV vaccine.

Luckily Bachmann's claim has been ridiculed by pretty much everyone, including conservatives like Rush Limbaugh! Her claims are ridiculous and clearly not founded in scientific fact, but most importantly they are dangerous. The HPV vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer. To suggest to someone they shouldn't get a vaccine because they could have a serious side effect (that you have no proof of) is criminal. Vaccines are one of the most important advances we've made in public health. They don't cause mental retardation, they don't cause autism, they save lives.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dr. Tiller's Late Abortion Patients

Last night, I went to make a cup of tea. All the cups I normally use were in the sink (whoops), so I reached to the back of the shelf where I keep my "special" mugs, and I pulled a mug for Women's Health Care Services, Dr. Tiller's now defunct clinic.

There has been renewed interest in his clinic and the doctors he worked with. More specifically, Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who provided the legally required second opinion for Dr. Tiller's late abortion cases from 1999-2006. 11 cases are under review, because someone filed a complaint to the State Board of Healing Arts.

I read about it in this article. One of the patients in question, a 15 year old from Illinois, bothered me in particular because the author of the article makes it seem like she got an abortion because she didn't like basketball anymore, and that's it. The cases described in the article are missing a lot of details in general, ie, was the 15 year old pregnant because her 22 year old boyfriend impregnated her? Did she spend 20 weeks trying to get an abortion and was unable to raise funds and ended up at Dr. Tiller's clinic? If there is anything my experience in the field has taught me, it's that the reasons and psychology of a woman seeking an abortion is very complex. Just like people in general. We aren't one-dimensional images that can be fully understood in a few sentences. People reading these articles can easily jump to the conclusion Dr. Tiller was doing abortions on young women for totally ridiculous reasons. He didn't do that.

Dr. Tiller didn't take abortion lightly and did not give abortions to people who were flippant about it. He just didn't. I am thinking because of HIPAA laws the article couldn't reveal more, and as Dr. Neuhaus stated herself, she was worried anti-choice people would get ahold of these documents. Clearly her fears were correct. Obviously, if Dr. Neuhaus was cutting corners and not properly documenting these cases, then that is wrong. I could only find articles about this from the anti-choice perspective, so it's hard to fully determine what was going on her.

It just saddens me that anti-choicers are still obsessing over this clinic which is now closed. Dr. Tiller has been dead for 2.5 years. RIP.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Abortion - Mixed Feelings: We Aren't All Nicely Wrapped Packages

We know that women have abortions for many reasons. And we know some women feel a myriad of emotions about having abortions. Sometimes, they don’t; but I’m going to talk about complexity today. Sometimes the “abortion feelings” are wrapped so tightly, are so entwined with the “everything that’s going on in my life” feelings, that they aren’t separate at all. Yet, they kind of are. It’s like the ying and yang. It’s usually the “everything that’s going on in my life” that turns a woman toward abortion. Life/Abortion. One not quite existing without the other. If things were different…different decisions might be made. (Always the conundrum of life, really.)

I’m not telling you anything new; but sometimes, abortioneers like to make the abortion decision - and the feelings about the decision – nicely wrapped into a fine package of “I’m going to be okay. Everything’s fine. I am woman. Hear me roar.” But it isn’t always so simple. It’s not always wrapped up so nice and sweet, delivered into the palms of clinic workers with a smile on the face and a “here you go. You don’t have to worry about me! I’m your text book feminist having an abortion.” Sometimes, the decision is dead easy…but attached to a heavy heart. Sometimes, it’s sad. Sometimes, it’s terrifying and feels wrong. Wrong, because your life wasn’t supposed to be like this. You weren’t supposed to be one of those girls. You didn’t grow up saying, “One, day, I want to have an abortion.” But life can take twisty turns down dusty roads. Shit happens. He happened. It happened: whatever “it” is. The “it” is not the same for everyone. And trust me, we get it.

Sometimes, just sometimes, the experience – or multitude of experiences – that brought her to stand in front of us, asking for an abortion, can’t even be dealt with at the time. Just getting the abortion completed (money in hand, ride at her side, pads in the car, kids taken care of) might be all that can be handled with right then and there. Don’t fuck with her about her relationship or question if she’s sure she doesn’t want to try a new birth control method (because, this one failed. Right?). If she sighs deep, looks like she hasn’t slept, seems distant: just fucking hold her hand. Show her kindness. Let her breathe. Let her deal with the other shit when she can.

We (women/people) can’t always handle life all at once. We can’t always be expected to be strong. We can’t always be expected to carry the heavy, heavy weight bearing on us. So we take out strips of our life from our pockets and face what we can. Piece by piece if we have to. Year by year, if needed. Maybe he hurt you in ways you never told anyone. And though I don’t think women have to heal from an abortion, it might sometimes seem like it, because we may have to heal from all the hurt that surrounded “it” happening to us. And it’s not that it’s confusing: we shouldn’t have to separate, really, the possible pain/sadness/hurt/regret (that things weren’t different) about the abortion from what our life was like at the time of the abortion. To let go, to grieve what you’ve lost in your life – that “what could’ve been” – is okay. It’s equally okay to have mixed feelings about an abortion during a mixed up part of life and still feel solid and certain that abortion is the best decision, while feeling so…unraveled.

We’re women. We’re complicated. And we don’t fit in neat little boxes, wrapped up nicely, with smiles on our faces. All of the time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hello from the Haven Coalition

I have written in a few posts about the organization I volunteer with as a patient host, the Haven Coalition. I realized that in all my time writing as an abortioneer here I have probably not written enough about this awesome network of patient hosts. I did write a patient hosting FAQ here, but I thought I would share some excellent media stories about our organization and our history. We are always looking for new volunteer hosts (contact info here) and also willing to talk to people in other cities about getting their own volunteer hosting network started.

So, if you have some free time I highly suggest checking out these great pieces written about our org:

In Salon: here

In NYMag: here

and Brooklyn Rail: here

...and finally, here is a link to join our Facebook page: here

Happy Reading! I would also love to hear about any other DIY or grassroots efforts in your town that provide support to women.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Maybe this happens to every abortioneer. I know a few other abortioneers have shared their dreams about pregnancy and abortion. I had a dream I was 20 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I had no idea I was pregnant until for some random reason I got an ultrasound and I was told I was in the second trimester of a pregnancy.

I was astounded. I'm gay and I have not slept with a man in over 5 years. In my dream I could not comprehend how I ended up pregnant without sleeping with a man. It seemed obvious my very masculine female bodied partner was who impregnated me. It was some form of immaculate conception except in my dream it seemed less immaculate.

I considered abortion, my partner was like, "this is amazing, its my baby of coarse you aren't going to get rid of it." There I was knowing I did not plan this pregnancy and I have always been very clear that any pregnancy will be very planned especially given that accidents are so highly unlikely given my sexuality. In my dream I started searching for a pregnancy test, just like the ones we use at work. I finally found one and only when I saw the positive second line did I believe the ultrasound.

I felt really ambivalent about keeping the pregnancy because I did not plan it and it did not feel like it was the right time. However, I also felt really unsure about having and abortion. Ultimately I very ambivalently decided I would keep the pregnancy. Then I got lost in an unfamiliar city, alone, still trying to figure out how the hell I got pregnant.

I woke up thinking about pregnancy, parenthood, abortion, and babies. I feel really blessed that planning pregnancy is pretty much a must because I'm gay. I fear that when I'm ready it might be hard, or my ovaries will have expired. However, I feel really blessed that I will not face an accident that results in an unplanned pregnancy. In my dream every one around me was like, "this is amazing!" and all I could think was that I did not plan to get pregnant right now!

When faced with something so unintended I felt really unsure of what to do. I know one thing, it was really important to know I had the ability to choose how to handle the very unexpected circumstance.

What isn't about abortion?

Abortioneers. Tell me if you haven't met someone -- a young girl, an older woman, a mother of four, the grandmother of the patient, a survivor on the run -- whose hands you wanted to grasp as you told her, basically, this:

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Charles Bukowski

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Novelistic Abortion

I would never become a mother, but that would not be the same as never bearing children. I would bear children, but I would never be a mother to them. I would bear them in abundance; they would emerge from my head, from my armpits, from between my legs; I would bear children, they would hang from me like fruit from a vine, but I would destroy them with the carelessness of a god. I would bear children in the morning, I would bathe them in the morning with a water that came from myself, and I would eat them at night, swallowing them whole, all at once. They would live and then they would not live. In their day of life, I would walk them to the edge of a precipice. I would not push them over; I would not have to; the sweet voices of unusual pleasures would call to them from its bottom; they would not rest until they became one with these sounds. I would cover their bodies with diseases, embellish skins with thinly crusted sores, the sores sometimes oozing a thick pus for which they would thirst, a thirst that could never be quenched. I would condemn them to live in an empty space frozen in the same posture in which they had been born. I would throw them from a great height; every bone in their body would be broken and the bones would never be properly set, healing in the way they were broken, healing never at all. I would decorate them when they were only corpses and set each corpse in a polished wooden box. It is in this way that I did not become a mother; it is in this way that I bore my children.

Excerpt from Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Judging a book by its cover calling the kettle black

Several years ago, in my pre-Abortioneer life, I was working at a PR firm, rocking blazers and long, sleek, painstakingly straightened hair. And fancy-me mentioned to my cubicle-mate in passing, that I was a fiercly pro-choice feminist. "You are?!" she replied incredulously. "You...don't really look like one. I'm really happy that you are, but I just didn't expect it," as though that were a compliment. I bought a "This is what a feminist looks like" shirt shortly after. In the years since my career change, I've taken to looking a little more crunchy, but I'm still aware of how I'm treated a little bit differently (in the abortion community and out) when my hair is flat ironed or when I have mascara on.

I was at a fundraiser a few months ago, hair done and heels on, and I started chatting up a woman who I knew was pro-choice because, well, she wouldn't have been at the event if she weren't. Although she wasn't dressed much differently than I was, I immediately read her as someone who was the pretty face of choice--someone who was non-threatening to the antis and who was charming to the moneyed pro-choicers. However, once we got past pleasantries, the first words out of her mouth were, "I love events like this, but I wish everyone would stop goddamn dancing around the word 'abortion.' I've f*****g had it with people who pretend there's something wrong with it, and I'm not afraid to say it." So, yes, I was wrong.

I also recently met a woman who wanted to volunteer at my clinic, and she was polished, put-together, and poised. She projected an aura that said, "I know what's up, and also, I WILL help you out." My brain, however, translated it as, "We could never be friends." It wasn't just me, either--an established volunteer walked by, caught a glimpse of the new woman, and rolled her eyes. But I kept talking with the prospective volunteer, and whether or not we would be BFF was irrelevant--she was one of the most articulate, observant, passionate Abortioneers I've ever met. She acknowledged her privilege and recounted her experiences, and openly discussed where she fell short as well as where her passion lay.

Despite the fact that I've been on both sides of the feminist discrimination fence, I'm still surprised at how tricky it is for all of us to navigate. I'm certainly not proud of it, either, but I'd rather call it as I see it, even if I'm not excepted. And I won't even get into how mind blowing it is to some people when they meet a pro-choice male feminist.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Abortion is an option

Read that post title again. Perhaps twice more. Slowly, if you need to, to let it sink in and make sense.

Abortion is real. It happens. It is an actual thing. I didn't make it up just now.

I feel the need to belabor this point because lately I've been bitch slapped in the face with outright denials of abortion's awesomeness. What's more, I've had people straight up tell me that abortion is not a pregnancy solution. COME AGAIN?!

I've been thinking about abortion stigma lately, due in part to an upcoming series in the Gender Across Borders blog (check for it in a couple weeks!). Now, I have no delusions about being able to eradicate abortion stigma anytime soon. But the first step towards fighting stigma in any arena is just to get people talking about it. Get folks to the point where they can actually say the word "abortion" in public without giggling or lowing their voices. But how can we even get there if people won't even think of abortion as a real live option? And I'm becoming increasingly frustrated that it doesn't even come up in the family planning conversation, even as an idea that one might reject.

Remember: Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

What's funny is that a lot of the aforementioned "abortion denial" does not come from the full-on antis. No, they know abortion is real, and they make it very clear to everyone else how much they hate it. BUT HEY: at least they're talking about it! At least they use the word, even if it's in the [false] context of "Abortion is dangerous" or "Women regret abortion". So, in that respect, I have to applaud the antis for their awareness, if nothing else.

No, it's the middle-of-the-road, don't-care, would-never-happen-to-me-so-I'll-never-have-to-think-about-it types who, for whatever reason, have never talked about abortion. Sure, we've all talked about abstinence, and most of us have talked about contraception. But ask them what they know about abortion and they can't be bothered. And I suspect it's not a matter of distance from the problem. (Just see our latest poll, in which 100% of respondents report knowing someone who's had an abortion!) I think it's a matter of ignorance, of never having had the opportunity to ask questions, or to listen to someone else talk about it. Ignorance, notoriously, begets stigma and hatred and fear and all that, so I think it's super easy for someone who's never actually thought about abortion on a complex level (besides would you/wouldn't you) to think it's weird and scary and something you should never talk about, let alone post to someone's Facebook wall.

So, as an ally of both abortion and people who want to know more about it, I've tried to open myself up. I still face a small degree of stigma from people who learn that I'm pro-Abortioneering, but it's so worth it when someone finally comes to me and - even in hushed tones - asks what abortion is really all about. Is there really such a thing as "partial-birth abortion"? How much do abortions cost? Are all clinics like that one in Philadelphia?

Abortioneers far and wide, I feel your pain. But I also feel the joy of being a sounding board for curious fence-riders who simply want to know what's what. And being able to educate someone with factual, experience-based information to help balance out the tripe they read elsewhere is definitely worth the cost. Who knows; the heart you open up could be that of the next Abortioneer!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Defining Choice

I came across an editorial published online for the Chicago Sun Times about being pro-choice and whether that means defending one's right to have an abortion or to carry to term. I won't recount their editorial, but I think it's a pretty interesting read and recommend you check it out. It made me think about choice and what it means to be pro-choice.

For me personally, pro-choice isn't pro-abortion. I am pro-choice because I think that people have the right to make decisions about their life and their body. If your choice is lawful, why should it be any of my business? For me this means people should be able to choose abortion, choose to carry to term, choose to use their preferred method of contraception, or choose not to use contraception - all without stigma.

It frustrates me to no end when someone refers to me as pro-abortion, which is something anti-choice folks say all the time. First of all, abortion is only one part of what choice means to me. Also, and this may surprise or bother some of my pro-choice brethren, but I'm not pro-abortion. I don't necessarily think that someone should have an abortion. I think they should have the CHOICE. That's what it's about - the ability to choose what is best for you. This blog is the Abortioneers and a lot of what we do and talk about obviously revolves around abortion, but choice, for me, includes many different aspects of reproductive health. And I am happy to live in a country where people have the right to decide which choice is right for them and their families.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Seriously, the GOP frightens me.

A Few Things:
1. Could this video be anymore reminiscent of George W. Bush? Seriously creepy.
2. Liberals often criticize GOP leaders like Bush, Palin, Bachmann, and Perry for being, well, not very smart. I think this video is an excellent example of this. Republicans counter that Liberals are just snobby intellectuals who think people who don't talk in "educated" ways are therefore stupid. Therein lies the problem and I think the crux of differences dividing the parties. Just because I think Rick Perry is a fucking idiot and this video is an excellent example of his fucked up ideas, does not mean I think everyone from Texas is stupid. I think Rick Perry is stupid because he has a moral stance (sex before marriage is wrong/bad/sinful and abstinence is the only way) that he maintains in the face of overwhelming evidence that abstinence only education does not work and does not do any favors for the teens of Texas or anywhere else in the United States. When pushed on this, and I give props to the interviewer for refusing to let Perry off the hook, Rick Perry bumbles and offers no legitimate reasons why abstinence-only education works besides "abstinence works."
This is what Liberals find so annoying - just saying you personally believe it works in the face of facts that suggests otherwise does nothing to persuade me that you have a credible opinion. Conservatives, who tend to have more opinions based on morals, I think find this appealing because he is "sticking to guns" that sex is bad and abstinence is the best.
3. This practical/moral divide is even more apparent in the abortion debate. The pro-choice sides argues that women should have control of their reproductive rights and be able to choose when and if they have children because it's a complex issue and sweeping laws banning it don't make sense in many cases. Rape, incest, maternal indications, say the father is abusive, or the family lives under the federal poverty line, or the mother gets sick often, or the mother already has 3 kids.............etc. Anti-abortion people say abortion is murder no matter what and therefore all abortions are bad. (Except for, of course, when they get pregnant. Every clinic I've ever interacted with has stories of protesters who come in for procedures).
4. Both the contraceptives and abortion issues also highlight, at least to me, that Republicans don't care about women. Their beliefs on this matter have no gray area, no wiggle room. If you are a teenager and had sex (BTW I wonder how old Rick Perry was when he lost his virginity?), there is no message of "Maybe we should talk about sexuality," or even, "Let's talk." It's you are bad you did a bad thing and if you are pregnant then you better keep it! Because that bad thing you did results in a magical holy pregnancy and if you want an abortion then that is EVEN WORSE because that's murder. Obviously, not everyone who identifies as Conservative holds these beliefs and I'm not trying to suggest that every Republican thinks that way. However, there is something to be said for the idea of fact-based opinions and moral based opinions, IMHO (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)
5. THIS IS TERRIFYING NEWS FOR THE ELECTION. Since, historically, the economy is the greatest predictor of who will get elected, it seems likely (at this point) a Republican is most likely going to get elected. The prospect of having to deal with another of these idiots in the Oval Office is really sad/frustrating/UGHHHH

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jennie McCormack: You Rock!

I’m often in awe of the strength of women. In my experience, women who seek abortions often exhibit the most strength I’ve witnessed. In awe? Yes. Strengthened myself as a result? Yes. So women who stick their tongues out at abortion stigma and announce to others they’ve had one, and announce loudly and proudly publicly they’ve had an abortion (and to get off their backs), amaze me even more. I’m saddened it must amaze me (stigma, stigma, stigma), but still, I respect the strength.

Jennie Linn McCormack is one of these women. She’s from Idaho. Pocatello, Idaho. And if any of you know much about Idaho, you know just how conservative it is. You may not know this, but, Idaho is one of the states that made it illegal to have an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation. Jennie was arrested in May for having an abortion (which would’ve required her to go to Salt Lake City, Utah as there aren’t any providers in Idaho that go beyond 14 weeks. She didn't have the financial means to do this, as many women don't.). Allegedly, she performed a self-induced abortion. Get this: her sister’s “friend” called her in to authorities. If you want to read more about Jennie Linn McCormick’s situation, you can read here; but obviously, since we’re abortioneers, we’re supportive of her decision to seek an abortion after 20 weeks, regardless of her reasons. Well, anyway, charges were dropped, but she has now filed a lawsuit challenging the “fetal pain abortion ban.” Jennie is pressing charges against the state saying the ban is unconstitutional as it doesn’t allow for maternal or fetal indications (as reason for abortion later in the pregnancy) as Roe v Wade promises.

I'm incredibly sad that Jennie Linn didn't know about other resources that may have been available to help her obtain a safe, legal abortion. The Justice Fund within the National Abortion Federation is a national abortion fund that can help women in Idaho pay for their abortions (they also help women from any other state where Medicaid doesn't cover abortions). I'm not sure if she ever contacted a clinic, but if she did, I can only hope they tried to connect her to the National Abortion Federation. And hopefully, then, she would've spoken to an individual who would've brainstormed with her and helped with case management in order to get her to a clinic to have an abortion either in Boise, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Seattle, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; or Portland, Oregon. Traveling to such places can place a huge hardship on women, like Jennie; but there are some clinics and abortion funds that will help women pay for the cost of travel, pay for hotels, or set clients up with volunteers so they can stay in their homes.

I think Jennie Linn is a hero for pressing charges against the state and for bringing to light the lack of access to abortion services in Idaho. Whether she realizes it or not, she is facing stigma straight on and telling it to go suck itself. She’s telling the lawmakers in Idaho to do the same. All the while, she’s standing up for all Idaho women – women who are totally undeserved – in hopes of helping pave the way for better rights.

Jennie Linn McCormack. You rock.