Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daily Show Brilliance and Oscar Worthy Ignorance

Scientists explain that family planning is the single most crucial concern for our ever-populating world at the same time that a bill barring Planned Parenthood health centers from all federal funding in 2012 moves from the House to the Senate. Under threat:

The sense of urgency to this blow to women’s health should be nearly piercing to human senses. In this age of information, we are more aware of our sexual inclinations as members of the animal kingdom. Where once there was room to go forth and multiply. It is crucial that we take stock in our own resources as we navigate a new earth—an earth pregnant with plastic-debris-oceans, pirates’ waters and the business of war.

Planned Parenthood is not the only crucial civil service under fire in the 2012 budget. Congress has proposed to cut nearly seven hundred forty-seven million dollars from the nutrition program for women and children: Changes rammed through the House…would shield greenhouse-gas polluters and privately owned colleges from federal regulators; block a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay; and bar the government from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution.

PS. I still remember reading an interview with Anne Hathaway (Oscar host) when she starred in The Devil Wears Prada and becoming heart broken when she said she was pro-choice but would never have an abortion. Impressing an entire audience of princess-diarists aside: WHY'S EVERYONE ALWAYS HATING ON A LIFESAVING MEASURE?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Donate to Planned Parenthood in John Boenher's Name

If you haven't heard about the Republicans' attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, you can read about it here. In a nutshell, they are using the argument that since some Planned Parenthoods offer abortion services (even though no federal dollars are used for abortions or abortion related care), the federal dollars that Planned Parenthood does receive and use (for STD, cervical cancer, breast cancer screenings, etc) are thus tainted by affiliation.

It is perfectly ridiculous and complete bullshit. All they are doing is disenfranchising millions of women and men from important health services.

In an effort to combat this, a wonderful movement has been started.

Donate to Planned Parenthood in John Boehner's name. You can donate as little as $5. The fun part: when you do you, John Boehner will receive a card in the mail letting him know a contribution was made to Planned Parenthood on his behalf. Hee hee hee!! They have a page set up on Facebook as well to help track how many people have participated.

I think this is a great idea not only to support Planned Parenthood, but also to let the Speaker of the House know that you do not agree with his policies. Every little bit makes a difference! Think -- if every person who has used Planned Parenthood services donated $5 in Boehner's name, he would get MILLIONS of cards. The movement would surely gain traction in the media, and help demonstrate that American citizens want and need Planned Parenthood services.

Other things you can do to help out Planned Parenthood at this time:

1. Sign their petition to let House Reps and Senators know that you do not support HR1
2. Share your story about how Planned Parenthood provided a service for you in a time of need.

The fact of the matter is, this legislation has already passed in the House and the best way to ensure it does not pass in the Senate is to make your voice heard. As the saying goes: Well-behaved women rarely make history and women who don't speak up for their right to health care will invariably get it taken away.

Also, I made this:

hi john

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Full disclosure?

As a rule, I don't keep my status as an abortioneer a secret. I mean, my identity as an Abortioneer blogger is a secret, but as someone in the abortion field, I am out and proud. I've never had an abortion so I can't talk freely about that to erase the stigma, but I sure can talk about my job as a way to show that people who are pro-choice (or super-duper pro-choice) aren't the devil incarnate. The only times I can recall not disclosing my line of work were when the person I was talking to was wearing an "It's a child, not a choice T-shirt" (in that case, I ran away) or when I was at a party and starving and wanted to focus on my chips and dip rather than talk about the job where I'd been all day. I mean, I have my limits.

So, I've introduced myself to a group by saying, "I'm [Desembarazarme], I like to run, I paint in my spare time, and I work at an abortion clinic." I've told the woman in line at the grocery store, "I work at [abortion clinic name]. What do you do?" It's seamless and matter-of-act because that's how it is for me.

But during one of my standard introductions recently, I had the thought that my attitude might not be serving everyone. It occurred to me that the woman sitting next to me at the dinner party might be pro-choice, but she might be processing her own recent abortion. The older woman in the vintage NOW shirt might seem to me like an ally, but she might be an ally because her friend died in a pre-Roe abortion, and no matter how gleefully pro-choice I am, she might not need that reminder of abortion right here, right now. And even though I can be fairly certain that the college-aged super-liberal guy who's a barista at my neighborhood coffee shop isn't pregnant, that doesn't mean that his girlfriend isn't and that he isn't faced with a tough decision himself, and he's just at work in order to escape it for a minute.

My realizations made me worry that my very presence and my willingness to talk, talk, talk about abortion might backfire. They might make the wrong people consider the wrong things when I'm not meeting them where they are. In my haste to say, "Look at what pro-choice can be!", I forget what else pro-choice can be. It can be sad and personal and delicate. And I never want to serve as a reminder of that. I want to be a resource and shoulder to cry on and an empowering friend, but I don't want to be the face of what people deal with in their own time.

And I don't have answers to this unique situation I'm in. I want to be who I am, but not at the expense of those who are trying to be who they are in a more gray area. I've looked at life from both sides now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Book Review

During Superbowl Sunday I was discussing abortion with a relatively pro-choice individual, and the question of the sexual health utopia arose.

Her version: all women would have unfettered access to contraception and would all use it scrupulously.

My version: all women would have unfettered access to abortion and would use it as needed with no fear of stigma or retaliation.

Now, I totally understand her side. A few years ago I was on that side too. But nowadays I understand that a) if abortion access is unfettered than contraceptive access has probably been unfettered for centuries, and b) some women, all types of women, simply don't want to use contraception. And as hard as that is for lots of folks to understand, it's true. And I'm not even talking unfortunate, hopelessly unaware women. I'm talking about fully aware, competent women who make the choice not to use a method. Maybe they don't like the way condoms feel, or they don't like the effects of hormonals on the body, or don't like OB/GYNs telling them what's best. Whatever the case, I'm finding more and more women out there who don't think twice about a) carrying as many pregnancies as they will because they don't practice contraception, or b) having as many abortions as they will because of the same.

And yet, and understandably so, my counterpart was horrified. Why would anyone do that? After the third abortion a woman must just be lazy or plain stupid. She even challenged my assertion that there was no limit to the number of abortions one could have before crossing an ethical line with all the disbelief of Fabio in an "I Can't Believe it's not Butter" commercial. And as strange as these things sounded to my reformed ears, I know that they are common sentiments. Any woman who has that many abortions on purpose must be crazy!

Now, it's not the road that I've chosen. I've never had an abortion or needed one, and I quite enjoy the daily hormones that have saved me over $100 in tampons over the last couple years. But when is it ever my place to tell Sue how many abortions she can have before I stop being her friend? I couldn't, wouldn't do it! The logical flaw is that I don't have an ethical dilemma with abortion, therefore the number of times a non-unethical act is committed makes no difference to me.

Man, that was a tough conversation to get through. Anyway, I relayed this incident with a friend of mine, who recommended to me the following book: [/rant] [actual blog topic]

I'm not really familiar with the author (Cristina Page, anyone?), but she's great because she says everything I already know to be true but in a way that makes you actually want to listen and not cringe at my boisterousness. And her basic premise is something we all know to be true, but don't articulate quite enough: Antis are not simply anti-abortion, or even anti-contraceptive. They are anti-sex!

This is true enough, and I enjoy that Page makes a series of logical steps to prove this beyond the shadow of a doubt. Most importantly, by pointing out how antis refuse to accept any scientific evidence you provide, make up their own to counter it, and reject the most sensible compromises that will ensure that abortion rates plummet.

Wanna hear some funny things about antis? (As if you haven't heard enough by now.) On the website, masturbation is identified as a "homosexual" behavior, that is, "sex with a person of the same sex, namely, yourself." Ah, if only I'd had a nickel for every time an anti whacked off. But you can find this and other philosophical gems in the book. Very excited to finish it and report back to you all the musings of dumb-dumbs and do-dos.


The Safe Abortion Project: holy crap is this important

In summer of 2009, our abortioneering colleague Steph Herold created the website I Am Dr. Tiller, in part so that people out in the world who think they don't know any abortioneers could see us and hear us, know that we exist, and recognize us as decent human beings, not murder targets.

(Most people got it. Stupidly, a few people didn't -- like Bill O'Reilly, who called the profiled providers "cowards" and asked why, if they were not ashamed of what they did, were they hiding their faces. [You, dear reader, have good contextual comprehension skills and can probably explain the answer to his question by simply pointing at a couple news headlines and some text on the website itself.])

I've had so many conversations -- with some co-bloggers, with coworkers, with a classmate who does photovoice research -- about how great it would be to have more video out there of abortioneers ourselves, what it's really like in the clinic, and other real-life abortionland tales, because our realities are usually misrepresented by people who make shit up, or by insanely awful horrors like Kermit Gosnell's story. Oh, IF ONLY we lived in a magical world where those ideas didn't give our coworkers and bosses intense misgivings, antis weren't unhinged, etc. In the end, we bloggers shelved the idea of video-blogging indefinitely, my classmate's proposal got rejected by the clinic she approached based on security concerns, that documentary about clinic escorts never got finished and the awesome little animated trailer "Silenced" was all we could see of it...and on and on. But we still really want the world to know what abortion care is really like, all the hard work and compassionate commitment and clinically excellent care we're proud to say we see in our workplaces every day. And we want to engage the world in helping us make this kind of care a reality for all women everywhere.

So imagine how excited I am about this: The Safe Abortion Project, dedicated to showcasing safe abortion care and starting off with a that video Steph filmed with the staff at the Philadelphia Women's Clinic.

I hope to see this new project grow and grow. Go watch the video, then (if you're an abortioneer) contact her with a story of your own for the website.

As much as I try not to straight-up copy-and-paste, the stated principles of the Safe Abortion Project are perfect as-is:

1. Historically, women will do whatever it takes to end a pregnancy they feel they cannot carry to term, including risk their lives.
2. If full insurance coverage for abortion were available, poor women and girls would not have to settle for the least expensive medical care.
3. Until abortion services in the United States are fully accessible to poor women, women will be vulnerable to those who seek to exploit their poverty with unsafe practices.
4. In a nation where more than 1 in 3 women will have an abortion at some point in her life, the culture of silent shame that surrounds the decision to end a pregnancy allows those who would provide poor quality and sometimes dangerous care to thrive.
5. Until abortion services are affordable and accessible to all women who need care, women will continue to be vulnerable to exploitation and harm by those who offer substandard, dangerous care.
6. Strict laws limiting women and girls’ safe access to abortion care does nothing to protect women.

These convictions are shared by me and every abortioneer I know, and we voice them over and over again in this blog and in our conversations with others, so I hope you readers feel prepared in turn to share them far and wide.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In case you missed it...

Congresswoman Speier stood up in protest of the Pence Amendment and shared her own abortion story.

It was clear from this video that Speier was going to stand up for Planned Parenthood but was not going to share her own abortion story. But, I am so glad she did. If we want Planned Parenthood to survive, women and men need to speak up and tell their own stories about how important Planned Parenthood has been to them in their lives.

And remember, this amendment takes away funding for everything but abortion (thanks Hyde Amendment). So those ever so important cancer screenings, STD screenings, women's health exams and birth control counseling.

Thank you Congresswoman Speier for being so brave and telling your story! I hope more women and men will stand with you and tell theirs.

Now that this has passed in the House, call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on the Pence Amendment!

I stand with Planned Parenthood.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Killing a baby (baby, baby, oooooooh)


I won't backtrack. Google it if you haven't heard.

I started off feeling pretty down on Bieber. I mean, rape pregnancies happen for a reason? Come now. But I get that Bieber is a young guy. I also get that he grew up in a pretty Christian home and, like most folks, shares the sociopolitical views of his family. I get that he probably doesn't feel the need to lie about his beliefs when asked, and I have to respect that he has his own opinions and blah blah. I mean, Bieber's never protested my PP. But come on, Rolling Stone reporter Vanessa Grigoriadis. Bieber? Abortion? That, I don't get.

Yes, Bieber is a big influence on young people. Did anyone see the little boy cry because "my teenager" didn't win the Grammy for best new artist? Bieber fever is real. Inexplicably so. But does that mean anyone cares what Bieber things about politicized medical issues that have nothing to do with him or his day-to-day? I sure don't, and I listen to "Somebody to Love" several times a week! I have to disagree, Grigoriadis, that a pop culture icon should be asked "all questions". Bieber hasn't ever been on his own. He doesn't have a driver's license. He's just beginning to date, as far as I can tell. And I'm only now starting to hear his voice changing. He's got little or no real-life experience. So why is his opinion on "whatever they have in Korea" all of a sudden so relevant, especially to a magazine that's supposed to be about music? WHO CARES?! His job is to entertain, and as long as he keeps pumping out cutesy lyrics and graceless dance moves then I'm satisfied never to hear another word out of his mouth.

Friday Game Time

You know I love Highlights For Kids. Yep, it's that time again. Let's play a game! 

Beginners: Can you circle FOUR or more quotes or paraphrases in this article that are total BS? 

Intermediate: Can you draw TWO or more ulterior motives in the margin? 

Challenge yourself: If you are an abortioneer, can you think of THREE or more unwritten reasons that this idea is not connected with the realities of abortion care or women's lives? Talk with your friends and see how many you can think of together! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

You Cannot Be Serious: Unjustifiable Homicide

Have you heard about HB 1171 in South Dakota? The one that is trying to expand the current definition of justifiable homicide to include murdering abortion providers? Yeah. That one. Honestly, in recent months, there have been so many utterly fucked up proposed bills to further restrict abortion access, that I'm about to vomit. Seriously: I want to stick my fingers down my throat and puke all over these fucked-up assholes who somehow got a bunch of dumbshits to vote for them. After spewing all over South Dakota - in particular - I would like to stick said fingers in my ears (after cleaning them off, of course) and go "lalalalalalalalala," trying pretend none of this is going on.

Let's face it. We're all busy. We work on the frontlines. We work in clinics. We work with abortion funds. We escort. We volunteer. Who of us has much time to keep track of all this shit when we have direct service work to do? I hate all the crazy - absolutely crazy - things that policymakers are coming up with. At the same time, I have to try to get xyz client gobs of money by tomorrow or she's not having an abortion. You might be writing letters to detention centers to demand your client get escorted to her abortion appointment. Or one of you, like vegan vagina, might be tidying up your house right now so that you can host a client tomorrow for her abortion appointment. These assholes have no clue what it's like for the women we work with, nor do they give a fuck.

Okay, I know I'm preaching to the choir here, and though I have really done a pretty good job of sticking my fingers in my ears and lalalalala-ing recently, I cannot ignore this horrific bill in South Dakota. I can hardly bring myself to write about it. This is all that runs through my head (it's jumbled, I'm afraid; but at least I believe you will all understand the jumbledness):

- George Tiller.
- Tiller.
- There have already been seven murders.
- Are you fucking kidding me?
- Dr. soandso (my doctor)
- Dr. soandso (my clinic's other doctor)
- Michelle soandso (our nurse)
- soandso (our director)
- soandso and soandso and soandso (co-workers)
- Fucking South Dakota idiots
- Fucking sickos. Sickos. SICKOS!
- What about the women?
- What about the 17 attempted murders that have already taken place?
- Does this mean more crazies are going to start protesting outside work?
- Do I need to start watching that weirdo jerk protester even more closely?
- Do I need to get an alarm system at home? (Honestly, we probably all should have one.)

If you want to read more about this diabolical house bill, you can go here. You can also read more from Vicki Saporta, the President of NAF. Dakota Women, a great blog for women, write about it here. They call it "chilling and sadistic" and I couldn't put it better myself. You can also check out a blog called Moral Low Ground which gives a good account of the hideous bill. Please check those links out if you want more info, because AboutaGirl just can't handle writing anything more in depth about it tonight.

PS: Sorry for the over-use of the word "fuck" tonight. I'm just really fucked-off. Oh, fuck. I said fuck again. FUCK!

UPDATE: Although the bill passed in the SD House on Tuesday morning (asdsgrd&*#$WTF) and was set to proceed to a Senate vote yesterday afternoon, there was so much attention brought to these potential consequences that the sponsor of the bill (a) amended it Tuesday afternoon [to take out the parent/spouse/child] thing and (b) ended up withdrawing the bill entirely before yesterday's vote. He now claims (contrary to anti-abortion groups' stated support) that he didn't intend for the bill to be construed as applying to legal abortion providers -- though legal analysts say the wording was totally open to that interpretation -- and that he wants to consider new wording (that explicitly excludes situations where a woman is choosing an abortion) before bringing it back to the table, if at all. So, YAY (sort of). Or at least, PHEW.

I really think this highlights that it's important and worthwhile to raise our voices and sound the alarm EVEN IF we think it's hopeless because a legislature is packed with anti-abortion representatives (as South Dakota's is). Sometimes enough public concern can still shame them into backing off with the bullshit. PLEASE don't stop paying attention and speaking up about these things!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front

I haven’t hosted any abortion clients in months. It feels eerily quiet. Why isn’t there a demand for abortion hosting? Are women able to afford hotels suddenly? Are women terminating their pregnancies earlier and do not need to travel to my city for 2nd tri procedures? Or, are women not even raising enough funds for an abortion and never make it here? I have no idea. All I can do is wonder.

What happens when volunteers aren’t needed? When we don’t get to flex our hosting muscles as frequently as we hoped or planned? How do we retain interest and stay motivated?

How many of us have showed up at a volunteer gig only to be under-utilized or ignored? I wish there was a way to know why the phone has not rung in months, or why my pullout couch goes unused. Where are all the women in need? Am I any less of a volunteer if I am not actually hosting?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thinkin' bout love

Valentine's Day has got me thinking about love. I once read an essay about "love" by bell hooks. As a writer bell hooks has explored the complexities of love in ways I have never even considered. In a women's studies class at the age of 19 years old bell hook's analysis of love changed my outlook on dating, love, and partnership. bell hooks made the point that love is a choice, when people look at love as though it happens to them it can be destructive. Its important to stand in love rather than "fall" in love and be victimized by "love". hooks has written a book called All About Love, in this book she looks at people's desire for love and difficulty communicating about the subject. As a black feminist writer she has covered topics that are far beyond relationships and love but this is writer has touched my heart and made me think about what it means to love someone and to be in relationships with other people.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Surviving partner violence isn't as simple as they make it sound

We were working with a patient living through extreme domestic violence. There was some concern that she might also be experiencing verbal abuse during the appointment itself. The security guard was asked to stay alert to the situation. Under their breath, the nurses were venting fantasies of retributive violence against the perpetrator. The counseling session was long -- such sessions invariably include attempts to verify that the patient is making as free a choice as she possibly can, discussions about involving the police, explanation of what resources exist that could support a patient (and any children) in getting away from the perpetrator.

All too often, the counseling sessions also include a heartbreaking resignation by both parties that today is not the day that things will change. We've talked (and rambled) about partner violence before, and there are lots of informative reference materials online, so I know you know about the insanely cruel catch-22 of trying to escape violence and stay safe and not go homeless or hungry. A lot of times, no counselor (including one at a DV crisis center or a specialized police unit) is in a position to "convince" someone to leave their abuser. In these times, no matter how much you've tried it will probably feel like you haven't done enough to help.

And sometimes a patient is terribly unhappy with the idea of having an abortion, but never wanted to become pregnant in the first place and had little or no choice in it. I think about this every time I hear people oppose legal abortion on the basis that "most" women are "coerced" into choosing abortion. This twists a lot of situations into one word, when actually "I don't want to but feel I have to" can mean so many different things -- including "I don't want to, but my experience tells me I'll be in greater danger if I don't, and promises of support from the system won't make a difference." Whether the abuser wants her to have an abortion or doesn't want her to have an abortion is ultimately immaterial to whether we, the abortioneers she seeks out, act on the woman's own decision to have or not have an abortion. (Certain people seem to think that if a woman weighs the situation and decides to have an abortion, and this is also what her abuser wants to happen, then we should cut off her reproductive rights to spite his face. No, the punishment for violent partners isn't an unwanted baby! It's jail time.)

It's really draining to hear outsiders say things like "So your solution is that we should have legal abortion instead of fix the system to support women?" Duh, no. Why are such people always assuming you can EITHER support addressing systemic problems OR support assisting someone who has an immediate problem and faces limited possible approaches? Total false dichotomy. I favor doing both of the above, because both are needed! How is that difficult to grasp?

The patient wasn't happy about having an abortion, but she was firm in her decision. She wasn't happy with her abuser, but not confident that she and her kids would be able to survive if she left him, either. Despite our staff's efforts, this was not the day that she could decide to find a safer life.

If you know someone is abusing children, in many cases reporting is mandated and there are channels for it and the kids get "taken away" (sometimes out of the frying pan and into the fire, sadly) and they may gain state protection in the form of an undisclosed placement location or something like that. If you know someone is abusing an adult, that isn't usually the case. She cried in the recovery room and everyone was worried and angry but we had to discharge her into the care of the person who was hurting her, because she's an adult and that's what she told us to do. It sucked. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Here We Go Again

After attemping to redefine rape such that women who were not beaten during a rape did not "count" as being raped, Republicans have continued to attack women's rights. They are currently attempting to defund Planned Parenthood of their federal funding and/or remove all federal funding from the Title X program.

There are two current plans -- one, introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), would make any organization that provides abortion services ineligible for Title X funding. The other plan suggests stripping Title X of all federal funding, which would put Planned Parenthood out of business in the process (Planned Parenthood received $16.9 million of Title X funding in 2009).

Their main arguments are that 1) taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for abortions and 2) this will help cut the budget deficit.

Do you know much money of the $327 million Title X Family Planning funds is currently used to finance abortions or abortion-related services? ZERO DOLLARS. Planned Parenthood does not use any of their federal dollars toward abortions or abortion care (In fact, abortions make up less than 3% of their total revenue). That's because IT IS ALREADY ILLEGAL for them to spend Title X funds on abortion services or abortion-related services.

So, Rep. Pence should sleep better tonight knowing that this whole time Planned Parenthood is NOT using federal funds for abortions.

Which raises the question -- what do Planned Parenthood and other Title X Organizations use their federal funding for?

Birth control services
Birth control counseling
STI testing
STI treatment
PAP smears
HPV tests
Breast cancer screenings
Female infertility screening and referral
Safer sex counseling
Treatments to prevent cervical cancer (colposcopy, cryotherapy, and LEEP)
Colon cancer screening
Erectile dysfunction services, including education, exams, treatment, and referral
Male infertility screening and referral
Menopause management
Routine physical exams
Testicular cancer screenings
Prostate cancer screenings
Parental education classes
Urinary tract infections testing and treatment

The people who use Title X Organizations are generally low-income, though it is estimated 5 million men and women used Title X services in 2008 alone. So, the Republicans first argument is completely null and void, because no Title X funding is used for abortions!

By wiping out Title X funding, Republicans are ironically going to increase the abortion rate, since they will be disenfranchising millions of women and their partners from health care and birth control access. More unintended pregnancies = more abortions.

Secondly, this cut will DO NOTHING to help our $1.5 TRILLION budget deficit. $327 million / $1.5 trillion = 0.02%. This coming after a huge wave of tax CUTS Republicans held the House hostage for.

Even more ironic, cutting Title X funding will actually cost taxpayers MORE in the end. In November of 2006, the Guttmacher Institute released a study which indicated that for each dollar invested in Title X, approximately $3.80 was saved. This is because Title X programs emphasize preventative care. Guttmacher suggested that doubling funding would save the country $800 million dollars because it would prevent 244,000 unplanned pregnancies. So, if the Republicans really wanted to save the country money in the long run, they should actually support Title X programs.

Of course, none of the reasons they are providing are an approximation of the truth. The real truth -- as fucked up and illogical as it seems, is that Conservatives do not want women to have access to family planning and reproductive health care.

We encourage you to spread the word about this messed up movement and let your representatives know that you do not support this bill. The negative press surrounding their attempt to redefine rape got them to drop it, maybe we can do the same with this. Here's one for Planned Parenthood.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

You've got mail

Dear Patients,

Maybe I met you years ago or days ago, and maybe I'll meet you tomorrow or years in the future. I hope I made or will make a positive impact on you, but your abortion experience really wasn't or isn't or won't be about me. And that's one of the things I want to say to you. Your abortion is YOURS--your story to tell, your experience to shape. You have no obligation to justify your decision to anyone. You have a right to be informed, even when it means asking uncomfortable questions like, "What happens to the fetus afterward?" You don't need to be sad if you're not, nor do you have to be happy just because you exercised bodily autonomy. We might talk about how we'd like you to be grateful and advocate for others, but my wish is that you will make the choice for you and you will honor yourself and your choice in the best way for YOU. You have every right to be scared, and you also have every right to the safest and most caring healthcare, which is what we want to give you. You are strong enough to do this, whether "this" is having an abortion or not having one. You are allowed to dwell in as many gray areas as you'd like. We, as staff, might bristle when you ask things like, "Are your instruments clean?" but you have a right to wonder and to ask and to use your voice in whatever way you can or want. You do have a voice, but your abortion doesn't have to be a political act, either. You can be selfless or selfish or both at once. You can yell at me or hug me, and I will find some part of you, large or small, to care for. Your privacy is protected and so is your dignity, and we wish for the clinic to be a safe space for you. You might have just one abortion or just fourteen, and there is not a thing wrong with either one. There is nothing wrong with YOU.

Again, this isn't about me. But I want you to know that I don't forget you, and I am so very honored to be a part of your choice, process, justice, and life.

All the best,

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Sunny Side

When I was in the fifth grade, our class read (and was forced to memorize) The Optimist's Creed. Here it is:

Promise yourself:

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind;

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet;

To make all your friends feel that there is something good in them;

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true;

To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best;

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own;

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future;

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile;

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others;

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear; and too happy to permit the presence of trouble;

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds;

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

I always thought this was nice and appropriate for a 10-year-old. Get your introspection on and enjoy your last year of life without feeling sorry for yourself all the time. But can you guess my favorite part? I'll make it real obvious for you:

"To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others"

Just throwing it out there for all our picture-perfect anti readers to chew on.

You know what? Maybe some holy being will someday come down to Earth to reveal the truths of the universe to all humans. And maybe that truth will be that, indeed, abortion is a terrible, horrible thing that has angered him or her to the point that s/he could not sit back and watch anymore. And maybe all us Abortioneers are going to fry for eternity.




Ours. Not yours.

So, you can continue as usual, protesting and mocking us and shouting hellfire and brimstone from your pedestals until your god finally arrives to prove you right, and you can jump up and down pointing fingers with your "TOLD YA!"s and look like complete A-holes in front of your god, such that he banishes you to the depths right along with us for judging and for not loving thy neighbor and doing unto others and the Abortioneers have the last laugh.

Or, you can just go about your day, being the best person you can possibly be, perhaps by helping families without enough resources to adequately care for their children (hint hint), praying for your own salvation and nodding hello to the Abortioneers as you simply pass by because you're too busy minding your own damn business, and when the rapture happens your god will be so impressed by your meekness that you shall inherit the earth and do whatever the hell you want.

Just sayin'.

It's funny. Last week at the clinic a protester started, as they all inevitably do, to speak Spanish to a tan woman. She clearly didn't understand, either because she didn't speak Spanish or because this boorish oaf's Spanish was dreadful beyond recognition. A fellow escort asked him why he was trying to speak Spanish to her. His reply: "What do you care what I do?"


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

An Essay in Moral Theory

In the eye of this snow-covered winter, I would like to share some uber-duber, philosophy-to-the-very-core, moral theory, by a professor of philosophy, Judith Jarvis Thomson. It's worth noting that this essay was published in 1971, because otherwise it might sound like she's talking about right now.

I have posted a stellar (and seasonally appropriate) excerpt below as well as a link to the full article for those who would like to dig deeper:

"For what we have to keep in mind is that the mother and the unborn child are not like two tenants in a small house which has, by an unfortunate mistake, been rented to both: the mother owns the house...

If Jones has found and fastened on a certain coat, which he needs to keep him from freezing, but which Smith also needs to keep him from freezing, then it is not impartiality that says "I cannot choose between you" when Smith owns the coat. Women have said again and again "This body is my body!" and they have reason to feel angry, reason to feel that it has been like shouting into the wind. Smith, after all, is hardly likely to bless us if we say to him, "Of course it's your coat, anybody would grant that it is. But no one may choose between you and Jones who is to have it."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Abortion Clinic "Investigations"

I am so tired of the "investigations" that anti-abortion activists do to make clinics look bad. They set up a crazy situation to try to trap people. Let's take the most recent stunt at a Planned Parenthood in New Jersey. If you were the clinic worker, and a man came into the clinic and was asking questions about how to help minor prostitutes get abortions, what would you do? What would you say? The particular worker in this situation was fired. Maybe she shouldn't have advised this man how to avoid having reports made with CPS because of legal issues. Ultimately her job is to help these girls, right? Help them get abortions. Is it wrong that she was trying to do that? I don't think so.

These anti-abortion activists aren't doing anything for the women and girls they purport to be helping. If they truly cared, they would help women who want to keep their pregnancies. They would help those women get prenatal care and get diapers, clothes, and formula once they're born. Are you doing that Lila Rose? How about you Jill Stanek? If you care, channel your efforts into helping those that are already here and are struggling.

It's like a friend of mine once said, "If you're pre-born, they want to "help" you. If you're post-born, you're screwed."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

50 Days, 50 Escorts!

Dear readers,

Hi! Your friendly neighborhood clinic defender is here with some news for those of you who want to get involved but don't know how or in what capacity.

In case you don't know, the anti movement has established "40 Days for Life", a periodic 40-day campaign during which clinic protesting and patient harassment is at least doubled, and, in many cases, quintupled. Apparently 40 days is what it takes to make believers out of us all. It actually only takes one hour max for me to become insane with anger and reaffirm my pro-choice stance for all eternity. So, thanks antis, for helping solidify my commitment to killing babies. I owe it all to you!

Any-old-who, the point is that during the "40 Days" clinics need help. While most antis are harmless, i.e. they sing or pray on their own, others can get pretty raucous and obnoxious. Think of the patients who have to get through all that nonsense just to get to the clinic door. A crying shame! So, End Clinic Harassment, a blog dedicated to news about escorting and clinic defense, has begun its own counter-campaign: 50 Days, 50 Escorts. The goal is to get 50 folks from now until the next "40 Days" campaign to pledge to escort at a local clinic. Think about it! It will be a bit warmer by then, and you can meet some new friends and help a bunch of people in need.

The next "40 Days" will be March 9 - April 17. Can we count on your support?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Abortion is soooo gay

My running team happens to be a local member of an international LGBT running club. I ran a half-marathon on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade this year, and as I was getting to the start of my race, I ran into a friend from the running team:

(Note: I am on a running team that is a local member of an international LGBT running club.)

Friend: Happy Roe v. Wade anniversary!

Me: Thanks! I wanted to put something on my shirt about Roe v. Wade but just didn’t get around to it in time.

Friend: That would be a lot of different messages on your shirt since our team logo is already on the front…and people might think our team has an official pro-choice stance.

Me: Ha, yeah, but I hope most people on our team are pro-choice.

Friend: Yeah but how will we recruit all those gay Republicans to join our team then?

Me: Hey you never know, they could be pro-choice Republicans...I mean they are already Log Cabin Republicans so….

One of the things I find interesting about the reproductive rights and LGBT movements is prevalence of the word “choice” and how one embraces it and one defends against it. CHOICE is synonymous with abortion in my mind and the reproductive rights movement has really latched onto this term because it acknowledges bodily autonomy and a woman’s control over her own self. However, the LGBT movement has had to fight off their opponents who say it’s a CHOICE to be gay, transgender, etc. Reproductive rights are all about CHOICE; it’s not being anti-baby or pro-abortion, but about wanting to have a CHOICE. The LGBT movement vehemently opposes the notion that being gay is a CHOICE and argues against those who say they can just as easily CHOOSE to be straight (after all, it just takes a little ‘Ted Haggarding’ to become an “ex-gay”, aka anyone can pray away the gay with the right amount of training and determination!).

When you Google “abortion homosexuality” the second link that shows up leads to a piece called “Abortion and Homosexuality Movements Are Linked in their War Against Life and Marriage”. Funny, I’ve always believed that the movements are intersected and linked too, but for very different reasons. For me, LGBT rights and reproductive rights are both about bodily autonomy. People can do whatever the fuck they want with their bodies!

There are the obvious alliances between the two movements. We are fighting the same enemies and share similar allies. The groups who hate and fight against one of these movements often fight against the other (Umm Westboro Baptist “Church” anyone?). And then there are the LGBT singles and couples that seek to get pregnant and delve into the world of assisted reproductive technology (which has grown thanks to the reproductive rights movement). The clinic I worked at provided abortions in the same space where (mainly) lesbians came to get assistance with pregnancy. Many of these women get on birth control to regulate their period. And then there were even a few times where women who were artificially inseminated unfortunately had to seek out an abortion due to a fetal anomaly or health risk.

And lets not forget about all the lesbian women out there who never plan on needing birth control but take hormonal contraceptives in order to manage their period or decrease acne! I include my own sister in this group and I still find it funny to talk to her about oral contraceptives.

But then you have groups like this who clearly disagree with me and it just blows my mind:

They state on their website:
Towards this end PLAGAL was formed: to challenge the notion of abortion as acceptable, to bear witness to the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered (GLBT) community that abortion rights and GLBT rights are not one and the same, and to work towards those alternatives that are life-affirming as well as pro-woman.

By the way PLAGAL=worst acronym ever

I’ve heard the argument from anti-abortion gay groups that if/when a “gay gene” is discovered then people will do selective abortion based off of sexuality. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Final thought: Clearly our movements need to work together. We both face challenges from those trying to control us, from the religious right, from the healthcare system, from politicians, and from assholes like Eric Rudolph who CHOOSES to use violence to express his hatred for abortion and homosexuality.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Systemic Breakdown

I often deal with other institutions on behalf of women seeking abortion care. I interact with many different abortion funds or social assistance agencies, when I worked for a fund I helped women deal with medical clinics, I also deal with a myriad of other kinds of institutions in order to help women access safe medical care in both my personal and professional life.

The thing is, usually I am able to figure out how to help a woman get care when someone seeks my help. Sometimes there are legal issues like when a woman is a minor and has to get parental consent or judicial bypass. I have extensive experience in different types of case management, but sometimes I just can't figure it out. The many laws, regulations, dollars, and other barriers between a woman and her abortion are impenetrable. I have spent 3 work days trying to figure how to help a young woman get seen before she is too late to be seen at the clinic where I work. I have been able to raise some money for her from a myriad of places, but the money isn't the issue. There are so many institutions that can work together to stop a woman from accessing safe and simple health care.

It's really frustrating. Today I had to accept that a woman who does not want to be pregnant and should not have to will stay pregnant. This woman has medical issues that warrant abortion, and yet it isn't any easier. The answer doesn't change: she will most likely have to stay pregnant. I don't understand it. Access to health care should not be this disjointed in the United States.

I remember the first time I had to tell someone who was 26+ weeks pregnant with a severely deformed fetus that was incompatible with life that I could not pull all the strings to get her abortion. I felt like my heart might fall to pieces. This happened at least two years ago, and yet I still remember minute details about our interaction.
Accepting that helping everyone is not possible is a really important part of self-care for me. I cannot absorb the world's problems. I try to help people access something that should be available, but when a system of legal, medical, and social service agencies fails someone, I cannot feel personally responsible. I have to find a way to accept it and move on because I can't help everyone.

Thankfully, the work I do usually results in women getting the care they need. Learning how to take time for my spirit to recuperate is really important. I'm constantly trying to balance dedication to my work with self-care. In this emotionally intense line of work, abortioneer burn-out seems only inevitable. What are some of the ways other folks in the abortioneer community deal with this disappointment, when a patient isn't able to get seen or something else emotionally draining happens?