Friday, March 30, 2012


You guys, it passed. I really don't know what to say, do, feel. Much less what my colleagues in Georgia are feeling. Please give me a couple days to find my words :(

Thanks, as always, to those of you who spread the word or contacted state representatives in Georgia.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It is time to celebrate "Back up your birth control Day"

So once upon a time I was denied access to emergency contraception by a medical provider. I hadn't had unprotected sex or missed a daily pill or was off on my Depo. Nope, I just wanted to be prepared for the future if I were to ever need Plan B. I'll save that story for another time...but the reality is, plenty of individuals and groups are being denied access which is a violation of basic human rights.

Recent news has focused on Native Americans: read here and teens: read here

So devoted readers, I ask you this: Have you ever been denied EC? Had an access problem (distance, time of day, cost, insurance coverage, etc)?

Finally, how are you celebrating today???

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday night homework: please help Georgia!

Can't you see my crazy eyes? Don't make me a law! 

Friends, readers, countrypersons: lend me your eyeballs! I have an important piece of evening reading for you, followed by a super-quick writing assignment. Scroll down if you want to skip my navel-gazing and discover your mission.


Lately I've been feeling like I can't even keep up with the onslaught of legislation designed to prevent would-be abortion patients from getting the care they need and to make their providers give up, board up the clinic and retire or something.

Not tryna brag, but in previous years I was pretty damn knowledgeable about the status of abortion legislation, regulation and jurisprudence at the federal level and in most states. If you asked me about a state-level bill I could usually tell you what its language really meant or what stage in the legislative process it had reached so far or what its practical implications might be.

This year, though? This year, if you told me "I saw on facebook that Hawaii is going to require married women to get a permission slip signed by their mother and their boss and then wait 7 to 10 business days before having an abortion," well idunno, maybe they are! Who am I to say, "No way, no way would lawmakers ever try to do something so awful and insane"? Recent evidence points to the contrary!

Honestly, it was difficult just now to dream up an example that's plainly absurd, because real-life happenings have been so goddamn absurd. But when a bill becomes law, whether or not it is too crazy to exist doesn't matter -- because suddenly it does exist, period. Suddenly you can't get the care you need. Suddenly your doctor has to decide between following her duty to care for her patients' needs, or obeying a law she knows is unjust.

That moment when the laughably absurd bill becomes the terrifyingly absurd reality has happened to me before, most starkly in 2006 when the Supreme Court decided Gonzales v. Carhart. The ruling allowed Congress's so-called Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act to take effect, via an unprecedentedly patronizing position on the part of Justice Kennedy that the government has an interest in protecting "mothers" (any pregnant person) from making decisions they might "come to regret." On the day of that ruling, I was at work, speaking with a woman whose baby was dying in utero; she asked if it was possible to remove the fetus relatively intact so she and her husband could hold it and "say goodbye." I found myself telling that woman, and others like her later, that we could not attempt to honor her request because Congress had just outlawed it. Your representative called; he says to tell you tough titties, crybaby.


Those terrible moments will happen again and again unless we refuse to feel helpless and instead move to take action. Your assignment is to foment urgent last-minute opposition to Georgia HB 954, yet another insane proposal to outlaw certain abortions. Georgia has seen and defeated similar bills in past years; but this one has gotten quite far in the legislative process -- meaning it's in grave danger of passing.

I once lived in Georgia. I still feel a strong connection to it, and I really hate that it feels like the rest of the country considers Georgia a lost cause when it comes to rights and liberties, or thinks such legislation won't make that much of a difference for that many women. They're wrong. Many people don't know this, but Georgia has several providers who currently care for patients with later pregnancies and patients with severe or complicated health conditions. Without appropriate providers in Georgia, these patients would have to travel clear across the country or receive care in less well-equipped facilities.

There are three days left to the legislative session, and that's when the crazy backdoor shit goes down. If you have any connection to Georgia, please contact the state representative in your area and ask them to OPPOSE HB 954; if you have no connection to Georgia, please spread the word to others ASAP.

Here's the update (and news item clarification) that I received today from the organizers on the ground with Planned Parenthood Southeast:
Today, the Atlanta Journal Constitution covered the bill in an irresponsible piece of reporting and on the front page no less. Contrary to the story, last night the bill was not stripped and was not killed for the session. The bill is not based on sound science and seeks to intrude on the doctor-patient relationship of women facing some of the most difficult medical circumstances. 
Among other things, here's what's still wrong with HB 954:
  • The bill is still unconstitutional. It still has only a narrow health exception and includes no exception for the mental health of the mother.
  • The bill still requires the physician to use the method most likely to save the life of the unborn child even if that method causes health risks to the mother.
  • The bill still includes no exception for rape or incest.
We know all too well that it isn't over until it's over when it comes to the General Assembly. Session ends on March 29, and we need to keep up the pressure to ensure that private medical decisions are left to a woman and her doctor.

Lawmakers need to look at how similar bills have impacted women in other state and understand that Georgia women deserve better. This bill is an example of the level of government intrusion that takes place in women's health care and we need to let our legislators know that we've had enough. Contact your senator now. Tell them you've had enough of their lack of concern for victims of rape or incest, their intrusion into how doctors practice medicine and their intrusion into women's lives.

UPDATE: Good news, but don't exhale yet! The bill appears to have died after revision by the Senate...because Republican House members refused to accept the addition of an exception for women with "medically futile" pregnancies (i.e. dead or dying fetuses). In other words, House members remain committed to a no-exceptions ban -- and there are 48 hours left in the session for them to try to revive one. A few years ago, this was more than enough time for them to pass a last-minute mandatory-ultrasound law right under everyone's noses. PLEASE stay on top of this until the session is officially over.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Abortion Funnies

We all need to laugh a lot. It's good for you. Even the Mayo Clinic says that it helps relieve stress not just in the short-term, but also the long-term. Doing frontline abortion work has its inherent stress. So, our gift to you, our fab readers, is some cartoons to make you laugh.

Have a wonderful, happy day!

We're so proud our blogger, Mr. Banana Grabber, got the whole Siri thing stirred up...internationally! I find it a sign of success that as a result, there are the following photoshopped pics where Siri is overcompensating for not finding abortion clinics...

I had this conversation after my abortion...

And another someecard...Anyone who is already a mother might recognize this passing thought!

The way it goes, sometimes....!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strength in Numbers

Looking for a do-gooding exercise? I want to re-introduce you all to Todd Stave, founder and director of Voice of Choice. For those who don't know, Todd Stave is the landlord of Dr. Leroy Carhart, abortion provider in Germantown, MD. Dr. Carhart used to work with Dr. Tiller before things got cray in the abortion world.

I joined VoC last fall, and I recommend it! Stave is just a dude who was minding his own business when he got swept into the fight. And, instead of avoiding it, he took it to the streets! Many of VoC's activities include beating the antis at their own game, calling them at their homes and reminding them, politely, that their behavior will not be tolerated. I am officially inducting Todd Stave into the Awesome and Crushworthy Abortioneers Hall of Fame.

I want to share with you an appeal from Stave about the need for more volunteers to fight back against the nutsos who showed up at his daughter's school. Please consider joining VoC and giving back. I need three friends to join, and I consider my readers friends! Well, the pro-choice ones anyway.

Dear Supporters and Volunteers,

Everyone I have heard from seems to be very excited about the idea of a database to share information surrounding the war on women's rights. I am working with a dedicated team to build the infrastructure and publish information we already have about people who are fighting to eliminate our rights.

While we have not reached our financial goal of $50,000 to build and maintain the database, we are well on our way. Thank you to everyone who has (or plans to) donate to this cause.

In order to be more effective we need more eyes and ears on the street. We need more people to let our legislators know how we feel. We need greater strength when we are called to help a doctor or clinic worker who has fallen victim to the harassment of anti-choice groups.

Every one of us has friends and colleagues that share our values and views on keeping our pro-choice rights and fighting the intimidation tactics employed by people who don't. Please ask them to sign up as a "volunteer" for Voice of Choice.

As you know, the level of participation in each project is completely up to you. You can remain anonymous if you wish. There is no cost. There is no obligation to participate if you are too busy or just don't want to.

Signing up as a volunteer will provide Voice of Choice a means to communicate with all of our supporters when we need to take action and will help us show law makers and activists on both sides that our voice is loud and strong.

Please make it a goal to get 3 of your friends and contacts to sign up as a volunteer on the Voice of Choice website. Please ask each of them to do the same for 3 of their friends. The names collected are held in the strictest of confidence and will never be sold. In fact, we do not even need full names or real names. We need a just a good email address and a willingness to join our fight.

One final request for now: if any of you write blogs or have websites or Facebook pages, please link Voice of Choice ( to your sites.

Thanks again for your support.

Todd Stave, Director

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shitty Jobs: They Exist Here, Too

Abortioneers can have shitty jobs. Most of us do the work because we care. We look to the greater good. We are motivated by helping others (and if you’re not, you won’t last long as an Abortioneer). Most of us are grossly underpaid and grossly overworked. Most of us have co-workers who are incredible and inspiring. Hopefully, we have bosses and doctors who give a shit and don’t take the crazy stress out on their employees.

Those of you who work in clinics are pretty amazing, really. You get up every day and go to work in the face of protesters that scream at them. You hold onto complete strangers' secrets and carry them as your own. You put up with threats. You get isolated socially because it's hard to talk about your job. You hold hands. You wipe tears. You smile. You're brave. Sometimes you get into the safety of the clinic to face unhappy, burnt-out, unkind co-workers or, worse, bosses. Yes, they exist. They exist everywhere, don’t they? Why should abortioneering be any different?

We’re all so scared to talk about the shit that exists within our work because we want to portray an image of the altruistic feminists who fight hard for the cause, never give up on women needing abortions, and never give up on their employees. That doesn’t always exist. The reality is, just like in any other job, there can be fucking shitty managers. Fucking shitty co-workers. Fucking shitty work environments. And guess what? We hatehatehatehate talking about it because we:
1) Don’t want to get outted to our employers (and possibly face getting fired)
2) Don’t want to fuel the antis who read our blog and will say, “See! You guys are suffering because of the evil work you do!”

I’m sick of both of those things. My dear, dear co-blogger, Sparky, just wrote about how she’s having a hard time at work in this post. She’s brave. I admire her. She spoke out. Our work is hard. It’s easy to get burned out. We givegivegive of our hearts and sometimes our employers don’t really give much back to us in terms of support. Sometimes our employers tend so much to the “business” part of our business, that they forget the heart of it. They forget that without passion, without advocacy, without caring for more than the bottom line (and without having employees who do, to their core, have these qualities), they will have a very cold business. They will lose those who care the most: who are motivated by making a difference in women’s lives. Some of my friends are getting lied to by their bosses: being promised that they would always have a job/not get a paycut/not get laid-off/that they’re too valuable to ever lose; then all of the above happens. And employees who are rude to patients, rude to other employees, who suck the heart out of a clinic stay behind.

I understand Sparky. I’m burned out, too. I’ve been burned out. And I realize that sadly, where I work, there are lots of unhappy people who probably are just waiting to get out. Maybe they want to find a replacement before they quit. I’m looking for a new gig. I’m loyal to abortion work, but I’m no longer loyal to my clinic. Hard to be loyal around those who aren’t loyal to you or who you can’t really respect.

So, we’re sorry to those of you who are struggling at work. It totally sucks. If employers dump so much stress on their staff on top of the inherent stress that already exists doing this work, they’ll lose all their best people (they’ll either quit or they’ll get so disenchanted and angry that you won’t want them anymore). What a terrible thing to squash the passion and the love of the work out of your employees or co-workers.

In my opinion, abortion clinics should be a place of love. When they aren’t anymore and there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s time to get out.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Undercover Investigations and Why I'm Torn

It has been awhile since I talked about animal rights on here, but after attending the recent New York City Veg Fest last weekend I am invigorated and impassioned to keep the dialogue going about the links between my most precious issues: women and animals. I alternate between listening to two weekly podcasts--one is Dan Savage's Love podcast that discusses current political news on sex and also does advice on sex/relationships and the other is Our Hen House which has a vegan and animal rights focus. So basically I alternate between these two every week and my head is starting to get dizzy from all the attacks on women and on animal rights activists/advocates. I can't go a week without hearing one of the podcasts ranting about new legislation that restricts the rights of those who are already oppressed.

I don't need to remind anyone of what is going on in this country to hurt family planning and sexual/reproductive rights, do I? Well, it seems an eerily parallel movement against animals is happening. Just last week Iowa passed the nation's first "Ag Gag" bill which you can read about HERE. The Iowa bill criminalizes those who obtain employment under false pretenses with the intent to harm the business, rather than the actual act of filming animal cruelty in a factory farm (that is redundant, right?). Well, that's the quick and dirty version.

So, here is my struggle...I want factory farms to be exposed for their cruelty (not only to animals, but also workers) more than anyone. I know deep down that undercover investigations in factory farms are NOT the same as anti-woman creeps like Lila Rose (and yes I feel bad giving any of her sites web traffic, but google her if you must). The footage and audio that people like Lila Rose obtain from abortion clinics is manipulated and taken out of context and at the end of the day just a downright lie. When it comes to undercover footage from factory farms there is little manipulation going on. I have seen enough of that footage to know that animal cruelty is commonplace in factory farms and no amount of photoshopping or editing can create the horrors I have seen. Watching sadistic factory farm workers anally rape cows or electrocute chickens is pretty clear cut, as opposed to the shades of grey that have come out of Lila Rose's undercover endeavors (re: abortion counseling with a minor who has an 18+ boyfriend).

My gut tells me they're not the same, but I still can't sit right with it. Let me be clear I do not support the ag gag laws by any means. The more factory farms are exposed then the more business they lose and the less animals suffer. There is just something about the deception that weirds me out and I can't place why or how. I don't have an answer about this....would love to hear thoughts from others.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Silent Suffering

For the last few months, women have had to shout from every roof and mountaintop to defend their reproductive rights against misogynistic politicians. And as all these goofy men are spewing their crud about slutty women and attacks on religion, the upstanding men are, well, silent.

Not completely silent, of course. Our good ol' Commander in Chief responded to questions about the recent Rush Limbaugh debacle, but only after being prompted. Rick Santorum, to his credit, distanced himself from the remarks, but justified them with the fact that Limbaugh is an entertainer and can afford to be "absurd", whereas a politician cannot. (Which then begs the question: if Santorum were not running for office, might he say such things? Another loaded topic!)

In my own personal life, I've noticed sympathy from men and the odd Facebook mention of how lame this whole thing is, but not a whole lot of activity from well-wishing men who themselves would probably really like to prevent pregnancy. Which is odd, because at the end of the day, aren't men really more pro-no-babies than women anyway? Think about it! How many women have we heard from in clinics or on hotlines, who simply can't get the time of the day from their baby daddies? Don't you think these men, deadbeats though they may be, would make great advocates for increased access to contraception? Even if just to keep their pregnant partners off their backs?

I'll take what I can get!

I think men have historically been too weirded out about contraception and lady bits to even discuss them, let alone advocate for them. But we need them to! My own significant other's response to the Limbaugh incident was not outrage, but a mere scoffing. How to we get the men as angry as we are? How can we get them to practice what they secretly preach?

Male readers out there, I implore you to speak up! Petition your local congresspeople! Write to the GOP! Talk to your friends! Talk to your female partners! Vote pro-woman! We cannot continue to fight this fight on our own!

Live long and prosper sparingly,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The story of the time I was a dick

Why does she keep shouting ABORTION at me? 

Yesterday our guest blogger Amy mentioned that phone calls about abortion care often sound like this:

"Um...I wanted to know how much it costs?" and "Hi...I'm looking for some information about...abortion?" (spoken as a question, with the word "abortion" issued in a whisper)

And that her responses sometimes sounded like this:

"I would be happy to answer any questions you have about ABORTION! What type of ABORTION do you think you might be interested in having?"

I can totally relate. Who hasn't had this kind of call? It was one of the first patterns I noticed about callers when I started working on the phone lines.

Maybe Amy was more mature or less self-centered than me when she started her clinic work. But for my part, there was a real evolution in how I understood such callers. Initially, I felt frustrated to pick up the phone at my work and hear that the person on the other end of the line couldn't bring themselves to speak about my work. I experienced it as stigmatizing of ME, like they were attempting to distance themselves from my work even as they were asking me to tell them about it.

Sometimes they would ask with words like "terminations" or "D&C" instead of "abortion" -- maybe those words sounded more genteel or more like medicalese.

I'm ashamed to say that, early on, if someone called and said, "Hi, I need to know how much it costs," I would reply, "For what kind of services?" Even though it soon became clear that, if someone was calling about, say, a Pap smear, they simply said "Hi, I need to know how much a Pap smear costs." For a brief period of time, I believed that it was more important for the caller to say the word abortion than to feel comfortable asking about it.

At least that phase ended rather quickly. When a woman called and I heard echoes as she asked me questions, I mentioned her voice was sounding funny, as though she was in a bathroom or something -- and she said yes, she was at work and this was the only private place she could duck into. Duh, me.

Whether because they're not sure they've called the right place, they can't believe they're in this situation, or they can't risk being overheard by a coworker or family member, callers can't always discuss abortion openly and explicitly over the phone.

There will be time for that at their appointment, if they make one, when they meet with the counselor or health educator to express any questions or concerns about their health, the procedure itself, their experiences leading up to the appointment and how they will fare afterward. Usually patients can bring a loved one or support person into the counseling/education session, but a portion is also dedicated to one-on-one time with the staff person, in case the patient has something that might not be easy or safe to express in front of their companion. These sessions can be conducted as part of an abortion appointment, or prior to deciding whether or not to have an abortion. It's dramatically different from a phone call that might by necessity be taking place in public.

So now I know better. I learned to respond to "I need to know how much you charge" with something like, "Sure, I can talk to you about our different fees, but we provide many kinds of care here. Were you asking about a Pap smear, abortion, or...?" If they are asking about an abortion, they normally stop me there and say "Yes, that's it." Easy peasy. It's okay for me to do the talking, if that's what the caller is looking for.

Not that every caller is in this situation! It runs the gamut: on one end is this (or even, as Amy writes, the ones who never call), and on the other end is someone calling to set up their appointment while also ordering dinner for five from the drive-through. But that's a story for another post.