Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some Quick Thoughts on "Until Abortion Ends"

We love this video by Ill Doctrine!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Abortion Stigma

God, there’s a lot of stigma around abortion. We certainly get our share of hearing the antis slur words of hate to us that propagates stigma (like in Anti-Antis post Monday); but sometimes, we fight it at work, too.

Yesterday, during a counseling session, a patient folded her arms, looked straight at me and declared, “I am not the same as the other girls in the waiting room. I’m not the same as the rest of them having an abortion.” I’ve heard this sentiment before and asked her to tell me more. She followed with, “I’m married. I have kids. I was using birth control when I got pregnant. I mean, I’m older; and I’m a professional. I’m a responsible person! I’m not the type of person who gets an abortion.” Her statements implied that the other patients were irresponsible, in non-monogamous relationships, unstable, and unprofessional. And who, exactly, is the type of person who gets an abortion?

I’ve learned not to grind my teeth and get offended when women suggest they may be better than other women having abortions because the reality is, they’re just regurgitating all that awful, untrue stigma. I turn experiences – like yesterday’s – into learning opportunities with the women and each time, I hope I don’t sound preachy. I usually handle those conversations by initially putting the focus on her and not the other patients; generally women are worried about being judged and stigmatized for having an abortion (e.g. “I’m not a bad mom. I love children! It’s just we weren’t planning for anymore…it’s such a bad time! My husband just lost his job. The economy is so bad...”). I usually say something along the lines that it sounds as though she’s a good mom who cares very much for her children, and that it must’ve been very frustrating to find out she was pregnant when she did everything she could to prevent an unwanted pregnancy (especially under her present circumstance). Almost always, women uncross their arms, soften their eyes, and take a deep breath; then, I follow-up with the lesson learned: who gets an abortion.

I tell her:

- Most women who have abortions already have at least one child.
- Over half of women who have abortions used some form of birth control the month they got pregnant.
- Most are concerned about the financial implications of having another child and/or the overall well-being of the family unit (perhaps the relationship is rocky already, for example).

Usually they don’t know that. Why would they? Most staff that start working at the clinic don’t even know. (We get trained in it!) My hope is that clients realize they aren’t so different from anyone else having an abortion…and hopefully realize then, that they are not alone. I try to touch on stigma and state the fact that at least three out of 10 women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45, which means they probably know quite a few people who have had an abortion: they probably just don’t know it because of stigma.

I wish there was some solution to this. I don’t know what it is. I wish we could stamp out all the negative connotations about abortion and instead show the truth: someone you love has had an abortion. It’s not uncommon. Regular girls have them. It takes strength, courage, bravery, and determination. There’s nothing irresponsible about it and it’s not a frivolous choice. People who have abortions think about the future. They think about now. They think about others.

I know there are some projects out there tackling stigma...but especially now, it feels like our country is incredibly divisive. It's sad. It's scary. I hate it. And I hope it can change.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poetic Justice: Winning Haiku Revealed!

Thanks to the faithful readers who contributed their haikus! My spirit took flight with every carefully-placed syllable.

In a way, you're all winners. But in a much more real way, there is only one winner. And the winner is the individual who submitted this literary gem:

Aborted my child
I should have kept my legs closed
I'm a worthless slut


I had expected to receive some anti submissions. We actually received a half-dozen. (Of note: none of the antis who left comments left their names. Shocker.) Most of our anti comments are trite phrases that you can find on any posterboard sign propped outside a Planned Parenthood. But every now and then we get something really off the wall like the above. I have heard some hateful things in my life, but this is just revolting.

I don't intend to give so much publicity to this kind of sentiment, but it's worth getting the word out that it exists. It's offensive not only to pro-choicers, feminists, women, and your work-a-day human being, but even to some mild-mannered antis I'd bet. And I want the crazies to know that with every hateful utterance, you only make us MORE PRO-CHOICE. Nobody likes a crazy person.

This, dear readers, is why we <3 you so much, and appreciate all the non-crazy that you bring to this blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I just can’t understand that there are people out there who don’t support abortion even when rape is the cause of pregnancy. I don’t want to understand these people and I don’t believe I could even be civil to one of them. I really don’t. (And if you knew me, you’d know I’m civil to most everyone.)

This week, my co-workers and I advocated for a young girl – 13 years old – who was pregnant and had been raped by her father. Last week, I was helping an elderly woman schedule an appointment for her 12 year old granddaughter who had been raped by a cousin. A couple weeks before that, I was trying to help a woman that lived 300 miles away to get to our clinic for an abortion after being raped by a guy 1,000 miles away. All of these girls had to travel to our site. All of them needed help coming up with the money to pay for it. Each of them was in their second trimester. One of them had been denied Plan B at a Catholic hospital after her rape, so she thought she didn’t need it and believed she wouldn’t become pregnant. Under lots of stress, she didn’t think twice about not having her period for awhile. The 12 year old had only just started her menses, so she didn’t even know/understand/think to tell anyone she wasn’t bleeding.

How anyone – ANYONE – could deny these young women an abortion is absolutely beyond me. As clinic employees and abortion advocates, it’s our responsibility to do everything in our power to be there for them, to give them resources, to help make their abortion experience empowering in some way. Our doctor who will help give rape victims a bit of control during their abortion; he will ask the women to hold one of his fingers and if at one point (before aspiration), they want him to stop so they can breathe/take a break, then they just have to pull on that finger. This works. It gives the clients a voice without using their voice. Some control in a position – literally – that could bring back horrific memories.

I don’t agree with – but can be respectful of – individuals who don’t agree with abortion for most circumstances; but I just cannot – and will never – be able to get behind someone who believes that even if raped, that abortion is wrong. Sometimes, I just wish that those individuals could meet one of these girls. Or just talk to them. And though everyone says it: if it was one of their children/grandchildren, I would hope to god they’d be supportive of her having an abortion after a rape, if that is what she chose (because I do know that not everyone who becomes pregnant as a result of rape chooses abortion).

Anyway, I just want to say to those who don’t agree with abortion even under this circumstance, need to totally go fuck off. That is all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Poetic Justice

Abortion clinics
Are great because they're awesome

They do abortions

OK, so I'm no Pablo Neruda. I may not even be Dr. Seuss. But I love abortion, so I express it through the majesty of haiku!

Haiku is the art of turning grown people into blundering pre-schoolers by forcing them to count on their fingers because they've forgotten what constitutes a syllable. Here's how it's done:

First, five syllables
Then, follow up with seven
End with five again

Because our readers have been SO great lately, keeping up with us and showering us with love and lots of comments, I'm thinking we need to show our appreciation. Without you we couldn't maintain this blog (well, we probably still would, but it would be much less fun and dynamic), and we're so grateful for your continued support. Hell, we even get our ideas from you! So, the reader who submits the best abortion haiku will have it featured here as an Abortioneers post!

Submit your factual, subversive, hilarious, sensitive, face-kicking, or just plain silly abortion haiku as a comment. If you would like to remain anonymous, please post your comment anonymously. Otherwise, we'll give you full-on mad props for your work! Submissions are accepted immediately, and the lucky winner (plus some honorable mentions!) will be posted this Friday.

Readers, you make me
Feel like a million dollars
When you leave comments!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Protecting Secrets

I was going to write about something totally different this morning, but Daughter of Wands and Vegan Vagina have me thinking about secrets with the posts they've written this week. We live somewhat double-lives, as DoW mentioned: we give direct service to women seeking abortions, but we all have interests and lives outside abortion work. And like Vegan Vagina shared, we then write for this blog, which means we’re extra secretive because we have to protect our own anonymity from our employer (and co-workers) as well as our co-bloggers’ anonymity.

This blog began so we could discuss how amazing and challenging doing direct service abortion work is. We needed a safe outlet: a place where we could really vent and celebrate. Work isn’t always a safe place to do this, especially if we think improvements could be made in certain areas. There have been times I’ve definitely been nervous at work listening to people talk about our blog. I often worry about getting outted. Even last week, a co-worker talked about one of my own blog entries. I was incredibly scared that I may have blushed and made it obvious it was me who wrote what she was talking about. Why would we care? Because we don’t represent our employer when we write here, and we may not always agree with our employer and we may want to talk about it; some employers would not be happy with this at all. Mine is one of them. And to be totally honest, there are things I still haven’t written about because I’m so scared of being outted! (And this totally pisses me off.)

Being the keeper of secrets for clients, carrying them on our shoulders, in our hearts, will be a job that lasts a lifetime. Even beyond our work with abortion. We know things about some women that perhaps they’ve never told anyone else. We become woven into their stories: their abortion story. And we have a responsibility in that. It’s our responsibility to be kind and to make their stories – their experiences – just a little better. So we are present. We focus on the women. We care for them. We listen, and - hopefully - trust them. And yet, we must be separate and tip toe on this very fine balance…of being a protector: of patients and of self...without becoming cynical and burned-out. It's not always easy.

I try to keep my life outside abortion quiet and peaceful and not filled with abortion stuff…which, let’s face it: is usually not quiet or peaceful. I try to protect my family from my work and clients from the protesters and myself from my employers and you just end up with this spiral of protectiveness and secrecy which can be difficult to unravel.

So, to those who do know our secrets (our dearest of family and dearest of friends who know we write on this blog), we’ve entrusted you with our utmost confidence that you, too, will protect us. And…we thank you for that!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Secret Society of Abortioneers

This whole "SIRI Abortiongate" situation has really highlighted how my participation in this blog is a secret from most people in my life. All of last week I was seeing news headline after news headline and blog post after blog post about SIRI and her abortion snafu. One of my professors even brought it up!!! I was dying to tell my friends and family, "That's my blog that started it all!!! I am so proud of my co-blogger for bringing this issue into the news and eventually getting a response from Apple! APPLE!!! #%$@". Alas, we here at the Abortioneers have anonymous identities for a reason and we would risk a lot by telling people that we write for this blog. So, I emailed my Abortioneers regularly throughout the week to celebrate our accomplishment, and that had to suffice.

So, I think everyone who works in direct service abortion work experiences some similar level of this. Even for those of us who tell our friends and family that we do this work, there are always secrets that remain. Not the type of secrets that anti-abortion jerks think we have, such as hiding fetuses in dumpsters or other such nonsense. Rather, the secrets we keep are an extension of the work we do. There is something shared between us and can't be understood by "outsiders". I can't explain it, but there is something about a group of Abortioneers that lends itself to secret-keeping. There is such immense trust between us and we are bonded in a way that most co-workers are not. The nature of abortion itself is often secret due to patient confidentiality, so we are used to keeping things hush-hush and protecting privacy.

When I worked at an abortion clinic I remember the days when we had down time and would open up to each other about our lives. We talked about things that probably don't get brought up in most work places. We shared stories of intimate partner violence, birth control failures, family stressors, masturbation techniques, drug use, and even our own abortions. There was an implicit understanding that we could trust each other and respect each other's experiences. I loved it, and I doubt I'll ever find at a job again.

My connection to the other Abortioneers on this blog is a cyber version of my experience at my abortion clinic. I have shared some very personal things with the other writers that I dare not tell most people in my life, and that's mainly because I trust them. The interesting thing is that I have only met a few of the writers in person; most of them are complete strangers in the "real world". However, I trust them because of what we share and what I innately know about them based on the fact that they work in abortion. They are Abortioneers through and through...and that is all I need to know to trust them.

Has anyone else experience this in their abortion work? What about as social workers or other direct service providers?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Double Edge Wands

I live a double life. I am artist and patient advocate. I am not completely in either world.

When I gather with fellow artists, I am my selfest self, on the edge, whimsical and seeking. But also, the conversations become painfully existential, the dramas seem overdone.

When I create, I am alone. The art unravels itself and I am simply there to witness.

When I go to work, I am my best self: present, compassionate, intelligent, and thorough. But also, the conversations become hilarious and rich, life seems full and incredible.

Something about becoming a patient advocate at an abortion clinic has taken me to another place where things are stripping themselves and the earth seems on the edge of aborting everything. That every time I tell a woman it is okay, if I am dead wrong then this is hell and I am burning.

As I traverse between art compound and health center, I miss things in both. Sometimes puzzling are the things I miss among the artists. The scholarships, the rewards, the feeling that my art is enough. They will suspect I am not involved in the community though I help them with their health care one at a time while keeping it confidential because I am an Abortioneer and that’s what Abortioneers do. They keep the secrets.

They also keep abortion sacred and clean for little pay and precarious support outside the walls of the clinic.

It’s okay. I don’t suspect I need my fellow artists to create the art but I do need my co-workers—the manager, doctor, nurse practitioners, my fellow advocates, the volunteers and external support folk—to be able to serve others well.

No matter where, there is love.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Desembarazarme meets Siri

I don't have an iPhone, but my co-worker and carpool partner does, and this evening, she let me have a go at it.

While still in the parking lot of our clinic, I tested what we already know:
Desembarazarme: "Siri, I'm pregnant and I want to have an abortion."
Siri: "I'm sorry. I can't find any abortion clinics nearby."
So perhaps I'm only hallucinating my job.

Then, to see what she thought of the taboo word, itself, I challenged:
Desembarazarme: "Siri, abortion!"
Siri: "I'm sorry. I can't find any abortion clinics."
Completely foreign to her, but she IS able to extrapolate on it? Hmm.

As we continued own the street, my co-worker attempted:
Co-worker: "Siri, please help me find [Anonymous Abortion Clinic Where We Work]."
Siri: "I'm sorry. I can't find [Anonymous Abortion Clinic Where We Work]"
Desembarazarme: "Siri, please help me find [store across the street from the clinic]."
Siri: "I have located two nearby locations of [chain store across the street from the clinic]."

Next, I ventured to alternative pregnancy options:
Desembarazarme: "Siri, I want to give my baby up for adoption."
Siri: "I have found one nearby adoption agency."

And then, a different kind of pregnancy option:
Desembarazarme: "Siri, I want to become pregnant by artificial insemination."
Siri: "I have located ten nearby baby stores."
OK, so that was funny.

But then, the kicker:
Desembarazarme: "Siri, I am pregnant and I want to go to a pregnancy resource center."
Siri: "I have found two nearby pregnancy resource centers."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Siri, why do Abortioneers care so much about you?"

Instead of petitioning Apple about Siri's propensity to be as helpful to women as a college bro with a pocket full of Rohypnol, we could be petitioning against the Hyde Amendment. We could be calling for increased funding for programs that train potential abortion providers. Instead, we're up in arms about a trendy gadget's robot not pointing us to the nearest locale where we can terminate or prevent a pregnancy tout de suite?

Yes. We are up in arms because this is not simply a matter of Apple or Siri's original developers being careless about introducing "abortion" into Siri's vocabulary, though that is, indeed, eyebrow-raising. It's a matter of a distinct lack of information about abortion, contraception, resources, and support that is all too prevalent throughout society. Whether or not this was an oversight on the development end (editorial comment: I doubt it. Those guys are basically rocket surgeons.) is irrelevant because at best society made it into something that is acceptable as an oversight.

Siri is not the be all and end all of resources for an unplanned pregnancy or for an unplanned marathon erection, but it is not so much the application of the application (ha, Apple pun intended) that matters as the fact that Siri has a huge impact on current culture and lifestyle. It is less of a matter of artificial intelligence's stance on abortion rights and access as it is a matter of implicit misogyny gone mainstream and explicit. Pre-Siri, we weren't quite so privy to technology's political and moral views, and we liked to think that it had none. That nonsense was limited to the absurd fringe groups. Now, here we are in 1984 2011 and we are slapped in the face with a reminder of how far we have not come and how easy it is for anti-choice, anti-women views to slip under the radar and into our phones, and that's not OK.

Screw Siri, but be careful because she can't access contraception.

Continue to sign the petition! We have 945 signatures!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Apple iPhone Siri Update

This past Sunday, I blogged about the Apple iPhone's Siri, and her noticeable lack of knowledge regarding abortion, contraception, and reproductive health in general.

I was thrilled to get a ton of feedback, via our wonderful readers and other sites picking up the story.

First things first:
The rumors are true -- Siri does not have any useful information about abortion/contraception/etc. Reader Amadi was amazingly helpful and provided screen shots of all the relevant questions we wanted to ask Siri. I highly recommend you check out her piece, which is fantastic. The images below are from her post.

Amadi notes there is a clinic less than three miles from where she was sitting when she asked Siri this question. Siri did not define abortion and did not offer to search the web, either.

Even searching by specific clinic names (and then with their street names) turned up nothing, while searching for a specific hardware store brought results, even though she searched using an incorrect specific name (!).

Birth control, EC, and rape queries were all similarly useless:

So, it seems clear we are on to something here. Now, there are two questions:

A. Was this on purpose? and
B. What do we do about it?

A. I don't know if this was on purpose or not. It is true that Siri is new technology and it's bound to have technical glitches. It is also true that Apple purchased this technology from another company. Norman Winarsky, one of the founders of Siri, was questioned on this topic, and he thinks "...what’s happening here is that Apple has made deals with Web services that provide local business information, and Apple probably hasn’t paid much attention to all the results that come up.”

I am inclined to agree with him, mostly.

However, part of me is also a little too sketched out by this. It seems really, really, really bizarre that inquires about other drugs (ie, Viagra), pull up relevant results while EC and other forms of BC don't. It seems weird Siri doesn't know what rape is, or where an abortion clinic is located in your area. How many coincidences until things start to seem like a purposeful pattern?

The bottom line, though, is that whether this was on purpose or not, we'll never know. I imagine if Apple gets wind of this they will say it was an accident. This part doesn't matter so much as Part B.

Part B is where you come in.

We have created a petition we would like you to sign:

Send this to your friends and family. Tweet it, Facebook it, digg it, Pinterest it, and post it on whatever other newfangled sites that are now verbable.

The more people we get on board, the more likely Apple is to take notice and fix this!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reproductive Health As a Human Right

Access to safe reproductive healthcare is a right of everyone - men, women, adolescents. But most importantly, and something those of us in our "first world" bubble sometimes forget, it's a right regardless of what country/part of the world you live in. It's also something that governments around the world forget as you can see by this map of worldwide abortion laws created by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The disparity is easily apparent. It doesn't just fall along the lines of conservative/liberal or religious/secular; instead it's rich/poor, developed/developing.

In 2000 the United Nations created the Millennium Development Goals. These are 8 quantifiable, measurable goals that the nations around the world felt would greatly improve human rights of the most poor and vulnerable around the world. And they would, if they were actually met. The 2015 deadline for the MDGs are not to far off. We are working our way toward achieving some, but are falling far short of others. In particular, we are far from the goals related to maternal and child health: Goal 3 to promote gender equality and empower women, Goal 4 to reduce child mortality, and Goal 5 to improve maternal health. Despite this, improving women's health doesn't seem like a priority to many, especially if it enables women to take control of their own lives and bodies.

Not only would improving access to reproductive health improve the MCH related MDGs, but it would also improve others like Goal 1 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and Goal 6 to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Improving reproductive health enables men and women to create sustainable families and focus on jobs and education. Not to mention that allowing women to have control over their reproductive health treats them like autonomous humans and not just baby making machines.

Reproductive health is a human right, a right everyone should have. Until the governments of the world understand that, we will always have a huge human rights disparity.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's the Deal with Siri?

Do any of our readers have the new iPhone 4? If so, I'm curious if you could do us a favor, and ask Siri

-I am pregnant and do not want to be. Where can I go to get an abortion?
-I had unprotected sex. Where can I go for emergency contraception?
-I need birth control. Where can I go for birth control?
-What is an abortion?

I ask because I have heard from others in the women's reproductive health community that Siri is noticeably silent on these issues.

Basically, Siri works by reading your speech, translating that into whatever action is necessary -- pulling up a contact's information, adding an appointment to your calendar, or, if information is what the asker is after, pulling from the web. Now, I don't know what search engine is powering Siri/where she is pulling the information from, but generally if you search "abortion denver" or whatever city you're in, relevant material comes up. (A whole bunch of anti-choice information comes up too, but that's a whole 'nother blog post).

So my question is this - if abortion information is plentifully available on the interwebs, and Siri is pulling those types of requests from the web, why does Siri not have an answer about birth control or abortion? If you ask Siri where to bury a dead body, she seems to be full of ideas:

How cute and clever!!! :/

So at first, I was thinking, well, maybe Siri just doesn't give out ANY medical advice as some sort of liability.

But here it seems like she is willing to point out the hospital:

And refer to other medical places based on a keyword:

Siri also has lots of other interesting pieces of advice:

At minimum, this is incredibly fishy. I'm hoping more people catch on to this soon. What is going on here??? I can't help but feel that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Recently a friend and fellow abortioneer passed away. It was pretty shocking and I'm still wrestling with my own emotions and the after math of what that loss means. In the face of this very unexpected event I can't focus enough to write about any of the 100+ topics that are constantly swimming around in my skull.

I feel like sometimes when it feels like something terrible has happened the best thing to do is to count my blessings and take as many moments as I can to be thankful. I've lost a friend and colleague. When I wake up in the morning its among the first things I think about and many people around me are in a state of shock or mourning.

With Thanksgiving tomorrow its only one more reason to remember what we are thankful for. I am thankful to have "grown up" in abortionland. I'm thankful for lovers and friends who have been so supportive always. I'm thankful for my family, especially my wonderful Godchildren. I am thankful to pursue a career that feels meaningful and stimulating to me. I am thankful for my fellow abortioneers and a forum like this blog. I am thankful for my health. I'm thankful I can help provide much needed health care.

What are you Thankful for?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. You know what that means - turkey, mashed potatoes, family, friends, giving thanks...oh and mass hysteria evoked by the $50 dvd player that you must have. Watching tv this past week, I can't escape the increasing Black Friday commercials. Apparently it wasn't enough to make retail workers deal with stampeding shoppers at 5:00 am. Now they need to open on Thanksgiving. I've never been a fan of the intense commercialization of holidays, but I think this year it has gotten worse. Is this what the holidays are about?

For me, the holidays aren't about how much I can buy and how many gifts are under the tree. It's about family and friends. Despite the pressure this time of year to spend money on crap we don't need, there are ways to turn the commercialization around and do something good. Rather than going to the crazy stressball that is any store on Black Friday, make a donation to your favorite charity - donate to an abortion fund, Planned Parenthood, or NARAL! It's easy, and it doesn't take much to make a difference. With the year those of us working for abortion rights have had (and the tough year I foresee ahead), it would be a great way to show your support.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Their hearts opened when they had abortions

“As a woman exercises her power to create life she is given a glimpse of wholeness.” –Linda Weber

Every so never until now, a book comes along that makes an Abortioneer feel like they’re reading their creed. Linda Weber does such declarative magic with her new book, Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion, and this Abortioneer is willing to bet that the smartiestpants among us are already stocking entire waiting room bookshelves with this universal masterpiece.

Weber interweaves abortion’s historical, medical, political, and cultural context in the US, with thoughtfully meditated reflections on the spiritual, emotional, social, and physical consequences of the abortion experience. With a gift for exalting the essence of pregnancy termination, Weber offers a deep and compassionate perspective on surprise pregnancy, life planning, and sexual fulfillment.

Um: “Women who choose abortion often achieve significant personal growth because the creative essence of pregnancy is redirected. Pregnancy as a profound inner experience directs us to do this.”

But also: “The way most abortions are performed within the medical system denies and distorts the experience. Choosing to have an abortion is an expression of a woman’s power in Life, but the medical system often reinforces the victimization of women by treating us as if we were being rescued.”

One more: “From Nature’s point of view, pregnancy is quite unremarkable and ordinary. It occurs in spite of and beyond anyone’s idea of it or feelings about it. It is arbitrary and almost careless in its placement and in its outcome.”

But really. I hope you read it soon and then knowing what you already knew and now have documented, I hope you share it the good way. Give it to someone who needs to cuddle up to truth, inspiration, and (authentic) hope as they ride the abortion roller coaster.

Title extracted from page 32

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When Abortions Get Familiar

A few years ago, I counseled a client who was caring for a critically ill child and felt that she had to choose between the child she already had and the one that she could potentially have. She chose to terminate this pregnancy in order to better care for her child, but truly, she wanted them both. Around the same time, there was another client, not someone I counseled, but someone who was crying hysterically in the recovery room and I went to her to comfort her in whatever way I could. I don't know her story, but I know she was devastated by having to make the decision to have an abortion. It was the first abortion for each of these women, and after I talked to them about coping and about how they were still good women and how they would manage to be OK, they both declared that it would be their last abortion, and that they were confident, if not glad about their decisions. I don't hold them to that promise, of course. And I don't hold myself responsible for making them feel OK.

The interesting thing, though, is that it was neither of their last abortions. In fact, they both went on to have several more abortions. Did I make them feel so OK about their decisions that they decided that abortion was the way to go? I doubt it, even though I don't see anything really wrong with that plan. Did they feel so bad that they thought, "F*** it; I had one abortion, so I might as well have five"? Were they engaging in that Russian Roulette coping mechanism where they subconsciously (or consciously) want to test their fertility by having unprotected sex, then realize, "Oh. I guess that worked. I didn't actually want that to work"? Had they not been particularly sexually active prior to the first abortion, and afterward, they didn't quite get the hang of birth control?

As usual, I'm not at all judging reproductive health decisions, but some of them certainly are perplexing. Anyone have any insight? If not, want to launch a study? (You're paying...I only make an abortion clinic staffer's salary.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Horsin' Around

I want to piggy-back on Vegan Vagina for a moment here, because I, too, am SO EFFING OUTRAGED about the whole Penn State scandal. Mostly because it reminds me far too much of another pervasive and ongoing scandal that has also been covered up for decades (perhaps centuries?) by people in charge and frequently reported not to be that a big deal.

Like VV said, the antis don't really care about kids. This we know, and have known since day one. They are generally the same folks to stand against child protections laws and provisions, and physically demonstrate their apathy by never volunteering to help children, only to make sure they get born. It really strikes a nerve with me because the protesters at my clinic are about 98% Catholic, who stand by the church in spite of confirmed child molestation over years and years and across continents, and who would never protest this behavior because, well, the church is home and it's always been there and why rock the boat over a few bad apples?

Meanwhile, you have losers still holding down the Church of Penn State, even when Sandusky can't be bothered to deny the allegations against him because they are likely true, and McQueary swears he did something about it but won't say just what, and Paterno laments that he should have done more (yes, he should have). But these guys are heros, so what's a little rape and cover-up here and there? They run the winningest college football team ever, LOL!

It seems there are way more antis than just those who protest at clinics. There are lots of folks out there who are anti children, anti family, anti justice, who just can't be bothered to do the right thing, let alone question authority to do it. Why stop at firing the Penn administration? Let's just fire all the antis.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What does Penn State have to do with abortion?

I was outraged after reading about Penn State and how so many people allowed the continued sexual abuse/rape/assault to happen. When I first read the news I had just come off of a 2 week jury duty stint for an attempted rape and sexual abuse case...needless to say rape and sexual abuse and violence have been on my brain. Although, I would argue that our country has a ubiquitous rape culture so I never really get a break from my exposure to these horrific things. I'm not naive, as some of my fellow jurors were, to think that rape doesn't happen "here" or among "these types of people".

So after my first few readings of various media posts about the Penn State "scandal" I shot out an email to my fellow abortioneers. I knew they would get "it" and understand why I was seething. I immediately asked, "what does this have to do with abortion"? So, what DOES it have to do with abortion? PLENTY, as my fellow abortioneers showed me. We live in a place where "life" is valued until birth. Where we spend millions of dollars fighting for the rights of a zygote, but once that child is born we abuse it, ignore it, and forget about it. It is such an obvious connection that it is INFURIATING.

What other connections do you see? How has this news impacted you?

Oh, and reading this made me simultaneously soo soo happy and soo soo sad. I was so proud of this guy that I sent him some love on facebook...just to let him know I was thinking of can too, click here!

Monday, November 14, 2011

When Ads Get a Little Too Personal

All of us internet users are well aware of the amount ads we get as well as the personalization of them. When you make an any kind of account - through gmail, facebook, myspace (does anyone still use myspace?) - you're tracked through what you write, what you post, and what websites you visit. You then get ads that are designed to fit you. Sometimes these ads are perfect, sometimes they're totally off, and sometimes they're downright creepy.

I get a lot of these ads on facebook, and I tend to just ignore them because they're so prevalent. They're usually for becoming an ultrasound tech, which based on my abortiony nature isn't all that surprising. They all have pictures, usually an ultrasound photo. Makes sense for an ultrasound tech ad, right? The other day I noticed an ad to become a social worker. The picture seemed a little weird to me though.

What does a giant baby have to do with becoming a social worker? I mean, babies and social workers make sense, I suppose. It's a little weird. And I'm sorry, but the giant baby kinds of weirds me out.

Then today I noticed another ad for becoming a social worker except the ad was a little less relevant and a little more...well....creepy.

Not only is this irrelevant to becoming a social worker, it would also turn me off if I was considering becoming a social worker. Why would you use this picture? I know many people pro- and anti-choice alike who are turned off by plastic fetuses. This just seems like bad marketing to me. I also am noticing an alarming trend. These pictures are getting more creepy and anti-like. Is there an anti-choice group or marketing agency following me around on the internet?

Have you all noticed your facebook, gmail, etc ads? If so - start if you haven't - what kind of strange/creepy ads do you get?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

10-year-old gives birth in Mexico

In Puebla, Mexico, located an hour and a half east of Mexico City, a ten-year-old girl gave birth via cesarean section on October 22nd. She was 31 weeks along, and suffering from seizures, which is why she ended up in the hospital.

Both the girl and the baby are okay, but the baby is still in the hospital.

The first question, of course, is how did this 10 year old become pregnant? The authorities are looking into the matter to determine if she was raped. In Mexico (with the exception of Mexico City), it is illegal for a woman to have an abortion, unless she can prove she was sexually assaulted. If she can’t prove this, she may be fined or placed in jail. It is worth noting that there have been several cases of women being sentenced to up to 30 years in prison for this. That doesn’t exactly set a strong precedent for coming forward if someone has been raped and wants to get an abortion. Even more troubling, some research I did online suggested that Mexican law does not define incest as rape, but as consensual sex between family members (!!!).

This case is a perfect of example of why such laws are problematic. We don’t have the full story yet, so we don’t know what exactly happened, but at minimum it seems very unusual for a ten-year-old to be pregnant. Besides the obvious that she is a CHILD and therefore does not have the ability to even consent to sexual intercourse. Why should she have to “prove” she was raped if she wants to get an abortion for a high-risk pregnancy? Her uterus is most likely not yet fully developed yet, and cannot carry a pregnancy to term without significant dangers to her health.

And without access to legal abortion, young girls and women are likely to turn to unlicensed, dangerous people who lie about their backgrounds and perform abortions on women unfortunate enough to cross their paths. Though the whole “back-alley” abortion thing seems kind of cliché at this point, it unfortunately is a stereotype for a reason: these things happen.

I am glad the girl and her child turned out okay, but I wish that our world respected women and girls more, such that this poor girl wouldn’t have had to go through all this. I wonder if she can even have children in the future. :(

Thursday, November 10, 2011

To Have an IUD or Not to Have an IUD (And then, which type?)

Desembarazarme’s recent post about IUDs here got me thinking. IUDs definitely are more popular. Not so much the ParaGard, but Mirena is. Women are often asking for it and providers are generally – in my experience – urging women to use it. I hope, too, that as long-term birth control methods become more available, that our community doesn’t swing their biases towards one method over another (but , this does seem to happen). The thing is, no method is the savior of all birth control for all women. We’re individual, unique people and different methods fit our needs: including abortion as birth control.

I’ve talked about my very own personal choice to not use hormonal birth control for over 15 years. With my current partner, we combine natural family planning with withdrawal and Plan B to control pregnancy. It’s worked for us. I’ve only become pregnant when I’ve wanted to. Despite this, I’ve actually been considering an IUD for years. When I recently discussed this with my Gynecologist and explained to him my reasons for considering the IUD, he told me that Mirena “is the birth control of choice for female OB/GYNs…even for themselves…so that tells you something,” and admitted that he’d recommend it over the ParaGard (which contains no hormones, but generally causes heavier, longer periods and cramps).

The doctor at my clinic loves the IUD, too, and inserts them immediately following an abortion for many of our clients. Many of our clients soon have them removed, though, because there is “nuisance” bleeding for a few months with the Mirena (which has a small level of progesterone) and then no period at all. (Some of us like to have our period to feel more certain we’re not pregnant, even though you can have bleeding and still be pregnant.) Personally, I’m still a bit on the fence about it and since it does cost so much money, I find it hard to just “play” with the method and see if it will work for me, only discover it doesn’t, after forking out over $500.

What do you guys think?

P.S. If you want the recipe for the IUD cookies (they are super cool!), then check out this blog here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Out of this galaxy

Turns out Initiative 26 is TOO EXTREME, even for Mississippi pro-lifers. Thank goodness! And even in spite of the governor opposing it publicly, then turning right around and voting for it...

Here's why 26 is about WAY MORE than just abortion:

- Any miscarriage can be considered suspect.
- Contraceptive methods that may affect fertilized eggs would become outlawed. Methods like the IUD oral contraceptive pills, that can reduce the need for abortion.
- In vitro fertilization for people who wish to conceive would become outlawed.
- The entire state constitution, where it refers to "persons", would have to be amended to ensure that nothing crazy goes on the books, like providing social security numbers to embryos, or counting them in the census.
-Because I really don't want to be in a situation where a pregnant person can take the HOV lane while my dog and I sit on the highway like idiots.

The point is, even one of the most radically "pro-life" states didn't go for this. It's good to know that reason and common sense are alive (though not necessarily well) in this place. But it really goes to show that you don't accomplish anything by losing your mind, and the only person who gets respect for being loud is Samuel L. Jackson.

So let's keep this "personhood" stuff to a minimum, OK? It's been repeatedly shut down because cuckoo-bananas politics simply doesn't work. Get over it!

And to the freedom fighters out there, remember that Mississippi is far from being out of the woods (remember their one little abortion clinic in the entire state?!). Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mississipians need your support!

Dear readers:

Please send love and well wishes to the women and families of Mississippi today, as they vote on a "personhood" amendment that will OUTLAW abortion and common forms of birth control, such as oral contraceptive pills.

Mississippians go to the polls today, and every vote counts: the most recent poll shows that 45% are in favor of the amendment, but 44% are opposed. 11% are undecided!


Visit today to donate or volunteer your time. You can donate funds or call voters (as I have!) to tell them how important it is to vote NO ON 26!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

There's no excuse for unintended pregnancy! ...Or is there?

If you're an Abortioneer, an aficionado of public health journals, or if you've watched TV or read a women's magazine recently, you know that IUDs are all the rage. We're moving away from the horror stories of the Dalkon Shield, away from myths like "IUDs are for women who have already had a kid and who only have one partner," and moving toward the realm where IUDs are commonplace, the everywoman's contraception. The thing is, though, I fear that we're also moving toward the place where if a woman gets pregnant, it's her own fault...OK, sure, we're already in that place, as far as the majority of misogynists are concerned, but the place I don't want to be is where the progressive, woman-centered, feminist reproductive health professionals start to believe it.

As I mentioned in my last post, IUDs are still far from accessible and affordable, but we seem to be moving in that direction, slowly but surely. I can see a generation of women who have a long-term, reversible, ultra-effective method of preventing pregnancy. But I can also see feedback such as, "Well, she deserves to be pregnant--she insisted on continuing to take pills when she could have been more protected by an IUD," "*sigh* I recommended an IUD, but she was afraid of side-effects, so now she has another unintended pregnancy," or "With such effective contraception available, that pregnancy was totally preventable."

With every technological advance, there are winners and losers, accolades ands caveats. I just wish that in the case of this particular advancement, there was not the ever-present danger of reverting to putting the onus of prevention on the woman...not to mention the burdens of blame and shame. My hope is that as we, as providers, encourage and educate about IUDs and the like, we don't forget about the condom on a banana instructions and real lessons on fertility awareness--thereby increasing the efficacy of legitimate contraceptive methods, whether or not they're award-winning in our books. In other words, I hope that we continue to respect women and their bodies and their choices, from contraception to termination.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Like a rug

My favorite thing about antis is the constant lying. I like it because it reinforces that I'm not an idiot. And the satisfaction that comes with just knowing, let alone demonstrating, that you're better than the competition is pretty much perfection.

My favorite lie? This'n:

This one is new to me, and I suspect it's also new to the antis, as it was printed on the back of a re-purposed sign that reads "Women Regret Abortion". I suspect that once that whole tactic got old and continued to have zero impact, they decided to take a new angle. One equally baseless and absurd. My final suspicion is that this stems from a semi-recent controversy in New Mexico, in which a man posted a billboard chastising his ex-girlfriend for having an abortion and robbing him of fatherhood. The billboard is just weird. Read about it from the antis' delightful POV: Antis make stuff up a lot.

Now, I can see myself being sympathetic to such a man, assuming that he were in a legitimate relationship in which there had been full disclosure from each partner about their parenting ambitions (or lack thereof) and clear respect for each other's wants. Clearly that is not the case here, ergo this guy and any other guy who pleads such a case (I haven't heard of any others) can go shove it. If he were in any kind of real relationship with a woman whose child he wanted to raise, he might have had more tact in expressing his parenting ambitions, perhaps before he reached a point of no return.

Point is, if he had made it clear that he wanted children and she had made it clear that she didn't, then he probably should have moved on. Enough said.

So all this pondering about these poor childless men had me a little confused. I mean, this is the only guy I know of who'd ever gone public about the loss of something he never had to begin with. I wondered, where were all these men? These sad sacks who wanted nothing more than to be daddies, but who were denied that honor by scorpion women who pierced their souls and aspirated their offspring. I started thinking back to my days counseling abortion patients and their loved ones. I'd spoken to hundreds of women who were pregnant but couldn't get her partner to contribute to her abortion fund, or to help her raise the child should she carry to term, or just plain couldn't find her partner! Certainly these were not the men who regret lost fatherhood. They actually seemed really content to act like the whole thing never happened.

I pondered it some more. I pondered and pondered until I decided that a) either the whole premise of "lost fatherhood" was faulty to begin with, or b) it's so crazy that it must be entirely legitimate and that something must be done!

Since I like to help out the little guy, I went with b.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Lost Fatherhood Network for Parenting Needy Children! Here at the LFNPNC, we care about children, but we care way more about the men who don't have them because they just can't manage to force a woman to have a baby. The LFNPNC is an online service that allows barren men to create profiles and be linked up with women searching for father figures. They can then fulfill their fatherhood dreams, be instantly wanted and accepted into the lives of children, without having to deal with those persnickety women who "just aren't ready to be mothers". The LFNPNC's mission is to
  • Help men finally feel good about themselves;
  • Give men a voice in a matter that is of great relevance to them;
  • Resolve the childless man crisis that pervades our society.
FINE PRINT: Additional, yet totally secondary benefits include:

  • Providing hope to children in struggling homes;
  • Supporting single parents in childcare;
  • Preventing single parents from having to choose between providing and caregiving;
  • Providing a very real solution to poverty in a wealthy nation;
  • Making single parents feel valuable in a society that does not support them.

But seriously. I would be down for some serious funding for anti programs that ACTUALLY HELP CHILDREN. Because the truth is, as we all know, antis don't actually give a shit about children. There are bajillions of struggling, born children out there who could really use help from these blubbering windbags, but instead they're out for whatever they can get their hands on. Any dude in this country could be a father if he wanted to. There is no shortage of need. But as things stand, a man in New Mexico who doesn't get his way can just slander a woman publicly and that's cool because he's a man and how dare a woman do something totally legal without his permission? THIS IS BULLSHIT.

Men out there, if you really care for children, then go do something for one. Adopt one. Babysit one. Read to one. Hell, just hold the door for one. Or, if you don't, then just be up-front about it. I have even less respect for these "lost fathers" than for deadbeat dads, because at least they're not liars. If you don't want kids, then just say so. If you do, Google "adoption agency" and you'll get 7,000,000+ results.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Saint's Day

All Saints Day is a Catholic holy day that celebrates Saints both known and unknown. I am no Catholic but for me this day is about celebrating ancestors and those who have come before us. I have many ancestors to celebrate today. I also celebrate many abortioneers, activists, and generally awesome people who have made it possible for the world to be the beautiful place it can be.

I would like to celebrate both of my grandmother's today. My mother's mother was a devout Catholic and a republican. She raised my mother who grew up to be a radical liberal. She swore I would be my mother's antithesis, the conservative daughter she always hoped for. I am not that conservative woman. When faced with an unintended pregnancy as a young Irish Catholic woman in the 1950's she was sent to a maternity home and essentially made to give her son up for adoption. Her spirit lives on in her children and grandchildren and I celebrate the amazing woman she was. I am because she existed.

My mother's step mother was a liberal Unitarian Universalist. She told my mother about abortion as a teenager by explaining to her that she had an abortion. When I heard this story it only verified how amazing my Grandma was. She allowed her daughter to see that abortion was not some vague thing that happened to bad or dumb people. Abortion is something good women and mothers experience. I'm thankful amazing women like my Grandmother paved the way for women to have reproductive choice.

At my first job in abortionland I had an amazing supervisor who dedicated her life to making abortion accessible to woman in spite of economic circumstances. She trained other young abortioneers like my self to be compassionate, objective, and strong. She passed away a few years ago of a long term illness. Each day I am thankful I met this woman, her passion and fervor is part of what has sustained me in this work. When I started working for her I was young, lost, and damaged myself. She offered me a since of drive and passion that has stayed with me into my adulthood.

Finally, we must always remember the women who fought for reproductive choice in pre Roe V. Wade days. We must remember provider's who have lost their lives because they were willing to risk their lives to save women's lives. We must remember the women who have lost their lives all over the world because safe abortion was not or is not available.

On this day of All Saint's, known and unknown, I raise up my ancestors and the those people who have acted as saints so women can have safe and accessible reproductive health care.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Mississippi Personhood Amendment

Next week, Mississippi voters will be voting on Amendment 26. If passed, a fertilized human egg will be considered a legal person, thus making abortion (and some forms of birth control and miscarriage) murder.

The Personhood strategy goes back to 2008, when Colorado citizens attempted twice to enact similar laws, both of which failed miserably. Colorado is much more liberal than Mississippi, though I guess pretty much any state is more liberal than Mississippi.

Should this pass, and it does seem like it will, this promises to be big trouble for women. Not only because it will like fire up the base and states like Florida, Ohio, and South Dakota have similar movements happening, but because it will reframe the debate to "birth control isn't abortion," away from the core message that women have the right to have abortions.

Yikes. Additionally, there is no exception for rape and incest victims. On Amendment 26's website, they have a "What about rape?" section, and it is simply a link to Rebecca Kiessling's website. Her mother was raped. Because Rebecca is alive and glad about it, this is somehow supposed to imply that all women who are raped should be forced to carry the pregnancy to term, go through the excruciating pain of labor, pay for all the medical costs associated with pregnancy and labor, and then have a baby and pay for all childcare costs as well. The fact that Amendment 26 couldn't even bother to create a separate page to address the concerns of rape victims (and incest cases were completely ignored) illustrates how blatantly they disregard women and others in general. Their view is so narrow and slanted that they are incapable of offering compassion or caring for a woman who has gone through a horrible experience. You cannot say that every case of rape is exactly the same and each woman will want/need the same thing. You just can't.

And then there is the whole birth control thing. Under this amendment, using birth control, the IUD, emergency contraception, and having a miscarriage would all be forms of murder. This is very problematic, obviously, because if having an abortion is murder, then women are going to want to be extra sure to not get pregnant. Yet many common ways to avoid getting pregnant would be classified as "abortion" under this amendment. WTF? Amendment 26's birth control page, "How does Amendment 26 impact birth controll (sic) & bioethics" appears to be all about cloning and IVF, with no mention of how OCPs or the IUD would be impacted by this bill. Again, WTF? I can only assume their complete dismissal of this is because they realize there is no way they can really say that birth control won't be illegal under the amendment.

As for the miscarriage issue, all they say is, "The Personhood Amendment would prevent the intentional taking of a life, but it would not adress (sic) miscarriage."


As we have talked about before, the vast majority of abortions occur before 12 weeks. I know it's a little gross, but if you have a person look at the pregnancy tissue of a nine week old pregnancy and then a 5 year old, and then said, okay -- the tissue or the child has to die -- pick one, most people would pick the tissue. That is because the tissue is NOT the same thing as the child. I know some people believe they are, but my point in this example is that when it comes down to it I don't think most people really think they are the exact same thing. Which is why, until this point, personhood bills have failed so badly. Is a woman who has a miscarriage, a totally natural process out of her control, a murderer? No. And is someone who takes birth control pills killing a baby everyday? Is a woman who has an IUD in killing babies too? NO EFFING WAY. Is someone who has IVF killing a baby if the first egg doesn't take? No. If someone was raped by her father and takes the morning after pill the next day murdering a baby? NO. It's not the same thing. So stop acting like it is.

/end rant