Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dear America: It's Time to GROW UP

*had to do some digging to find out who Cristy Cardinal is. Cardinal works at HAVEN in Michigan, I think. This quote was picked up by The Nation, August 21st. Article here. Cardinal - we love your quote!*

Misogyny in this country is staring straight at us. Looking us in the eyes and slapping us across the face. It doesn't care there's an audience. It doesn't care that generations of women who have fought for reproductive freedom have just watched. It doesn't care that this 13 year old was raped by her step-father and is now pregnant. The misogyny in our country is THAT blatant. THAT rampant. That disgusting.

When you're slapped so hard, with such force, it's shocking. The magnitude of disregard for women is strong enough that I feel stung every time I read. Every time I turn on the TV. There's always a new slant. A new way to get us on our knees.

But misogyny forgets that we are strong. Misogyny thinks of himself with such ferocity, that it doesn't notice the rumbling in the once quiet audience. Women are starting to speak out.

Maybe they began to feel safer to do so after Obama promised women at the national BlogHer conference that he would not "give ground" on abortion. Maybe quiet women are realizing just how loud the hate is.

Whatever has prompted it, women are using their voices.

I read a beautifully written post here from a woman who had been raped at 17. The blogger shared this private information with her community, and was shaking in her boots doing it.

Another blogger bravely wrote her abortion story here.

I'm in awe of women being prompted to talk about their experiences. And I know our abortioneer community is grateful. Not to mention many other American women.

Women have the right to be outraged. At least one in three of us will have an abortion. That's a lot of us. So, lots of women should be outraged, really.

Women blogging on abortion is a good thing. It's a terrible thing that all the insensitive and flat-out-jaw-droppingly-stupid things politicians have been saying has occurred. For some, it's like being raped all over again.

No matter how you put it, all this hate being spewed is a violation. It crosses the line so far that you can't even SEE that line anymore.

That is jarring. And it's making some of us talk. But they're so scared. So worried about being judged. And they're worried because we live in a society that shuts women up.

This society makes us think we can't use our voice, lest we are shunned and bad and wrong and selfish or a whore or had it coming to us. Or worse: that our bodies can shut off what we had coming to us.

Our society needs to change.

Our society needs to grow the fuck up and starting showing its humanity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We love YOU!

That picture's funny, right? Come on. If you work at a clinic, you totally know WHY that's funny!

Oh, there's soooo much shit going on out there right now, isn't there? Are you getting depressed about it all? I sure as fuck am.

What the HELL is going on in this country, huh?

Well, if you're anything like me, you need a laugh. Especially now. Especially because there are so many damned idiotic politicians making stupid assed comments. (And worse, believing them.)

Because we love you and you're our biggest fan, we want you to take a minute and relax. Yes, that's it. Take a deep breath. Take a moment for yourself.



Now. Let's have a little laugh.

This is my favorite. Every time I buy Prego, I think of this:

I used this one back in January, but January was a loonnnnnnng time ago. So here it is again.
Funny, right?

Feel better? At least a little?


Try to have a good day, all ye fellow Abortioneers.

We love you. (It's true!!)

Give yourself a BIG pat on your back. You deserve it. You're AWESOME!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When is enough enough?

I remember back in 2008 when some reporter dared to ask Sarah Palin if she was a feminist. I'm pretty sure she said yes, and came up with some jibber-jabber about how just because she's anti-choice doesn't means she's anti-woman, and how the Republican party can actually become the Party for Women.* I think around the same time, John McCain's heavily made-up daughter made a similar plea for women to look to the Republicans to fulfill all their womanly needs and desires. For a while it had seemed, for better or for worse (and likely for the worse), that Republicans wanted to reach out to women and improve their lives. Yes we (Republi)Can!

Fast forward four years, and I can't believe my freaking ears with all this hateful, anti-woman speak being tossed around. And I find it hard to believe that Todd Akin, Steve King, and others are simply so bad at politics that they can't control their verbal diarrhea. I think these people REALLY BELIEVE the nonsense they're promulgating, and it frightens me. I'm scared to think that if I were raped and went to my local congressman he might tell me one of the following: a) I wasn't "legitimately" or "forcibly" raped; b) I can't have an abortion in the event that I become pregnant; c) but don't worry, because when a woman is raped her body has mechanisms to "shut that whole thing down". Maybe I could at least take my story to King, who has never heard of a person getting pregnant through rape, because he's "open to discussion" about that kind of thing. WHAT'S TO DISCUSS?!?!?!

So, I remain thoroughly unconvinced that the Repubs are a party in any way responsive to the needs of women. When you try to tell someone about one of the most serious issues affecting women since the beginning of time, and they don't believe you, then we're dealing with some serious troublemakers. I can't believe any woman would be a Republican after this. All kinds of women get raped, regardless of political affiliation. I hope the women on the right are doing something about this, because the men sure seem not to give a damn who does what to you. I can't believe they're driving me to this point, but I'm starting to wish these neanderthals would face assault. Maybe not "legitimate rape", but just a good fondle would drive the point home of how horrible it is, even without having to deal with the whole pregnancy thing. 

Oh wait, that doesn't actually happen. NM.  

*Now that I think about it, SP did charge women for their rape kits in Alaska, right? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sex Selection

Are there ever times you feel a little – uncomfortable – with a woman’s reason for having an abortion? We’re not all Saints of Non-judgment, though some of us may strive to be. (Err…maybe some of us don’t…)

Last week, a recent immigrant from an Asian country (I won’t say which) came to our clinic for an abortion. I was the abortion counselor that day. She was in her second trimester and wanted to know if we could figure out the sex of the fetus. This isn’t a completely strange question, but I don’t get asked that often.

Because she was less than 18 weeks and because we don’t perform diagnostic ultrasounds, I explained we wouldn’t be able to identify the sex. I let her know that usually diagnostic ultrasounds to determine the sex are done between 18-22 weeks and that if she had a physician/midwife, she could schedule an ultrasound with them at that time (as it is standard practice).

She wasn’t willing to wait at least another month to have an abortion. You know the drill: she’d have to travel out of state; the cost would be much higher; she’d have to spend time away from home; someone would have to watch her small daughter while she left the area (and explain why she needed a babysitter); and her husband would have to get a lot of time off work.

We don’t ask patients why they want to have an abortion. Really, it’s none of our business. Still, lots of women offer their reasons when we ask if they’re sure of their decision, if they have support, etc.

The woman from last week calmly offered she didn’t want to have a girl.

Look, I’m about as pro-choice as they come. As long as it is a patient’s own decision to have an abortion, I’m cool with it regardless of the circumstances or gestation. I’ll admit though, it took me a slight second to register what the patient was telling me. My brain hitched.

I nodded at her and she explained herself, though she didn’t owe me any explanation at all.

In her country (like in many), girls do not have as many opportunities as boys and are considered a burden. She and her family plan to go back to their country soon and they wouldn’t be able to afford another girl (it costs a lot of money to have girls marry/dowries).

There’s been some national controversy about this (like, in May); even the pro-choicers didn’t want to really talk about sex selection abortion occurring. The reality is, though: it does. It’s not very common in our country, and I’ve never heard anyone – except someone who is from an Asian country – even mention it, at work. And I’ve been doing abortion work a long time.

The concept seems very foreign to us; but, is it really? Globally, there is underlying sexism that drives the devaluation of women. It happens here, too. Please, how many people have raised their hands saying women in this country don’t deserve to be paid equally to men? (Rolling eyes.)

It was a good reminder for me that we’re here to support women, in whatever it is they want, and trust that they know what they need for themselves, even if we may not understand it. We don’t need to understand. We just need to be there.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Meet Paul Ryan, Or, Sound the Alarm Bell

If you haven’t heard yet, Mitt Romney has selected his running mate: Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan. He is a great choice - if you’re wealthy, white, and male. Otherwise, fuggettahhbouttit.

 Let’s review some key facts about Paul Ryan as they relate to his views on women.
  • He co-sponsored a bill, the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which defined a fertilized egg has a human being. If this horrible piece of legislation passed, it would criminalize most forms of birth control, including the pill and in vitro fertilization. 
  • He supports banning all abortions for everyone. No exceptions for any woman or situation. Doesn't matter if the mother will die, if the mother is 13 and was raped by her father, if the fetus has terrible anomalies would only live a few painful minutes. He doesn't care.
  • He voted for the Protect Life Act, which would allow hospitals to deny abortion care to women who would die otherwise. 
  • He voted to ban federal health coverage from including abortion. 
  • He supported the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act, which would allow employers to question women about what birth control they use and why, and to deny them coverage for birth control if they feel like.
  • He voted to provide funding to health care providers who do NOT provide information about abortion.
  • He has expressed support for states to prosecute women who have abortions as well as the physicians who provide the abortions. 
  • He voted against family planning information in US aid abroad. 
  • Like Romney, he wants to defund Planned Parenthood, which as we all know, is an important place for women and men to seek STD testing/treatment, breast, cervical, and testicular cancer screenings, birth control, etc.
  • He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. So basically he doesn’t believe women deserve equal pay for equal work. 
  • He authored a budget that would dismantle many government assistance programs, like food stamps, which women and children disproportionately rely on.
But really, I should just let him speak for himself:
“I’m as pro-life as a person gets . . . You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I’m never going to not vote pro-life.”
!!! Okay then. Since there's no "trucing" on women's rights issues, the only thing that we can hope for is that Ryan's extreme views will turn off moderate Republicans, independents, and all women everywhere. (Besides the fact he is completely unsupportive of gays, minorities, students, seniors, the environment, etc.)

Paul Ryan: I do not like him.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

First Impressions

Can someone please come up with a "Tripadvisor" for abortion clinics? Who wouldn't want to rate their clinic experience? It would be cool, in an ideal world, if women felt safe enough to "rate" their experience. (Check out Abortion Care Network's Advice on choosing a clinic.)

- Were the staff friendly on the phone and in person?
- Was the doctor warm?
- Was it efficient and informative?
- Was it in a good location?
- Was the clinic clean?
- How was the website?
- What did you like and dislike?

First impressions count. They count when your clients call your clinic or your abortion fund. They are listening for something. Anything. Any detection that the person on the other end of the phone might judge them. She's trying to decide if you're the right place for her.

Abortion is riddled with stigma. People think of back alley abortions and dirty instruments. If your clinic is in a bad neighborhood, needs a paint job, and your staff aren't warm and professional (maybe they answer their phone too quickly and sound apathetic), it just adds to the nasty abortion stigma. On the other hand, if you have a modern, clean facility out-of-reach from hassling protesters, affordable prices, and kind staff, you're rockin' it. Right?

Women don't share their abortion experiences, but it would make a difference, I think, for women to weigh-in and provide online referrals. I use all sorts of websites like Yelp! that help me determine whether I want to go to a certain restaurant or not. Do I want someone's opinion on the abortion clinic they went to? Yes, please.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bad Freaking News, with helpful annotations

AZ Abortion Law to Take Effect After Judge's Ruling
Mon, Jul 30 2012, Reuters

Arizona's law banning abortions after 20 weeks will go forward, says U.S. District Judge James Teilborg.

The law is a change from the current system in Arizona. Under the previous law, abortions were permitted up until viability which occurs around 24 weeks. Starting Thursday, abortions after 20 weeks will not be allowed unless there is a medical emergency.

Judge Teilborg was asked to stop enforcement of a new Arizona law passed by the legislature. He declined to do so by ruling that the law is acceptable under the Constitution.

Arizona is not the first state to ban abortions around 20 weeks but it's still a tricky decision, legally speaking, for a state to ban abortions before viability. The Judge acknowledged that the Supreme Court has blocked states from implementing outright bans on abortion before viability as an unfair burden [but he says that] the Arizona law is acceptable in part because it doesn't impose much of a burden on a pregnant woman.

His reasoning is that there is relatively little time between 20 weeks and the 22-24 weeks when viability occurs,
[1][2] according to Arizona Daily Star.

Part of the burden on women in pre-viability abortions is that they may not know of fetal abnormalities before that time. The evidence presented to Judge Teilborg indicated that there are few conditions that would be diagnosed after 20 weeks that could not have been diagnosed earlier.[3] As a result, banning abortions after 20 weeks would not significantly increase the burden on the woman.[4]

He did note that if a unique circumstance arose where fetal abnormality was diagnosed after the first 20 weeks, it would be appropriate to challenge Arizona's abortion law.[5][6] But until that actually happens, the typical situation will dictate the constitutionality of the law.

To uphold a restriction on abortion, the state must also show a legitimate reason for the new restriction. Teilborg was convinced that the state's respect for life[7] and concern for preventing fetal pain[8] was a sufficient concern to justify the law, reports Arizona Daily Star.

Arizona's new abortion law is not the first of its kind, although it may be the first law banning abortions after 20 weeks to be challenged in federal court, reports Reuters. The plaintiffs had not filed an appeal as of Monday.

Footnotes, placenta sandwich 08/01/12:

[1] More like 24-26 weeks; it would be ludicrous to use 22 weeks as a general theoretical threshold for viability, even in a high-tech, high-cost US hospital context.

[2] (Also, how is 4 weeks just a "little time" to be cutting off? Is it really? What did he base this on? Has he experienced a crisis pregnancy before? I'm honestly curious what makes a person decide this rather than something else. Because for every person talking about banning later abortions who calls 4 weeks "relatively little time" [as in, "I don't really understand your life, but a couple weeks' less time is not a big deal, just get to the clinic earlier"], there's another person talking about banning later abortions who calls 4 weeks "plenty of time" to find out you're pregnant, decide what you're going to do, and seek out the necessary care [as in, "I don't really understand reproductive biology, but you're already 8 weeks pregnant, what took you 8 whole weeks to get an abortion?"]. Somehow, they're both wrong.)

[3] I don't know what evidence this refers to, as there is plenty of time past 20 weeks for plenty of fetal development to go wrong, and it does.

[4] Few conditions are undetectable before 20 weeks, and "as a result" it wouldn't be burdensome to ban abortion after 20 weeks? Wow, so many people are erased in that one little phrase. Including women who are seeking later abortions for reasons other than fetal anomaly.

[5] Sad but true. Assuming this ruling isn't overturned, the last hope for people needing abortion care in Arizona is for an already-pregnant person to be adversely affected by this ban and have the means to bring their specific case to court. Of course, as in Roe v. Wade, the individual adversely affected will be well past their pregnancy by the time of the court's decision -- which sometimes results in a judge saying that the claimant is no longer affected and thus no longer has standing! Isn't this the original meaning of "Catch 22"?

[6] But also, why is it that the only person hypothesized to have standing as an adversely-affected party is a woman whose pregnancy was diagnosed with a fetal anomaly after 20 weeks? What about those who face other kinds of situations and obstacles in obtaining their abortion care before 20 weeks (see footnote [3])?

[7] Not WOMEN'S lives, silly!

[8] We don't know when a fetus is capable of experiencing pain, but it's definitely not at 20 weeks. In fact, it's not anytime before 27 weeks and it may be even later. This is the general consensus of embryologists, neonatologists, neurologists and other people knowledgeable about the development of the nervous system.