Monthly Archives: January 2009

I write letters

(h/t Shakesville for the title)

I was upset to hear that one of my senators, Mel Martinez (R – FL), sponsored an amendment to the SCHIP bill that would reinstate the Global Gag Rule, aka the Mexico City Policy. Luckily it got shot down, but still.

So, I wrote him a little email.

I was disappointed to hear that you sponsored an amendment to reinstate the Global Gag Rule. As you should know as a responsible politician who would research the effects of a policy before promoting it, it does not prevent money from going to abortions at all, which is still prevented by the Hyde amendment. What it does is prevent accurate information from being given out, and restricts funding for clinics who do not perform abortions at all.

Do a simple search for “deaths global gag rule” and you will see dozens of scientific reports showing that the Global Gag Rule contributes to maternal deaths world wide, and deaths of children and full families due to unsafe abortions, increased infection and lack of access to care. Shame on you, for someone who calls himself “pro-life”, for supporting such a policy.

Well, at least he has announced he isn’t running for reelection. Good riddance.

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I give up. I need help.

Can anyone help me convert a .doc or .pdf to a .jpg? I desperately want to update my Mommy Wars Bingo card to specifically include women who cannot breastfeed (I had that in mind when I made the card. I can’t believe it wasn’t specifically spelled out in the cloth diapering, etc. box) and women who are not heteronormative (again, a major oversight). So, please comment if you can help! I give up.

Oh, and just this morning, I had a doctor tell me that she thinks anyone who gets any government money should not be allowed to have children. I am assuming she means welfare. Because any government employee, member of the military, person who receives public grants, employee of a public school, health care practitioner who gets reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid (like her), etc. receives government money. She went on to say that no one who can’t afford it should be able to have a child. This was her way of agreeing with me about how the funding for Medicaid coverage of birth control should have been left in the stimulus package. I tried to answer tactfully, without yelling “Circle gets a square!” I said something weakly, like, how forcing people to use contraception can be “controversial” and we should first make sure that everyone who wants contraceptives has access.

To make the matter worse, this was right after the wonderful doctor who is the site director talked about his upbringing as one of four children of a single mom. Not like she should only watch was she says due to the present company, but, come on, lady.

Sheesh.

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Surprise, surprise

Wow. The Republicans unanimously voted against the stimulus package. And I thought kicking low income women to the curb was going to convince them to vote for the stimulus package. Oh wait, that wasn’t me, that was President Obama.

Let’s hope women’s reproductive rights are not the perpetual sacrificial lamb of this administration.

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Don’t cave, Obama!!

I was disappointed to hear on NPR this morning, on Shakesville, and in my email inbox from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), that Obama has caved to Republican pressure and has personally called Henry Waxman to remove provisions from the bailout that would increase funding for birth control for low income women.

First of all, there is no argument that this would increase jobs, both at clinics and at pharmacies. Secondly, it would DECREASE ABORTIONS. 40% of unplanned pregnancies end in elective terminations. Low income women are MUCH more likely to get pregnant and to choose abortion than higher income women. Third, it would decrease unplanned pregnancies that are carried to term by women who are on public insurance and other social welfare services. More pregnant low income means more government on WIC, welfare and Medicaid. A lot of that is state money. States are really strapped right now.

I cannot believe Obama is caving on this issue. Women’s reproductive issues have already been the red headed stepchild of this administration, when they buried ending the Gag Rule in some effort to make it seem less controversial. We need to stop letting the minority define this position. Also, I don’t believe for one second that taking that provision out will increase Republican support for the bailout. I think it’s pretty clear that the main Republican strategy for rejuvenating its base after this last catastrophe of an election is to oppose the bailout. Throwing poor women’s uteri under the bus is not going to change that one bit.

If anyone wants to take action, check out the action alert at the NFPRHA site.

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Reply turned post, high priced prostitution style

Feministe has a good post up about the women’s studies student who is auctioning off her virginity on the internet. Natalie Dylan (the pseudonym she is using) claims that this is a sort of social experiment. She claims she is somehow flipping the patriarchal power structure by profiting off of this. Somehow, she sees this as subversive. Here is my reply:

I don’t find it subversive at all. Taking something that is valued by a patriarchal capitalist society and selling it for a lot of money for personal gain is not subversive and really isn’t much of a social experiment.

And I have a question. What if she was a virgin who did not meet conventional beauty standards? What if she is truly a hetronormative virgin, but she is not young, not thin, or not attractive? How much money would her virginity be worth, then? She is using a pseudonym. Has she promised that the picture is accurate and current? Would it be a breach of contract if she is indeed a virgin, as promised, but somehow fails to meet some of the other epitomes of patriarchal dreams? Is that all part of the bargain?

It’s hardly likely, but I would be highly amused if some millionaire paid for his wet dream and ended up with something less, in his estimation. (Not mine). THAT would be a social commentary.

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Jay Smooth defines patriotism

I love love love Jay Smooth. In this vlog, he defines patriotism. After all of the BS in the election, especially from Palin, about who is “UnAmerican”, not to mention constant accusations by the former administration that people who did not agree with the Iraq invasion or the use of torture or in any way criticized our government’s actions, domestic or international, was somehow unpatriotic, it is nice to hear someone defining what is patriotic in a way that I support.

“…patriotism is not about pretending this country is already perfect, it’s about believing that this country can always be better. That there is no truer patriotism than valuing our founding principles enough to know that they have never been fully realized, and having faith that we can always keep working towards those perfect ideals.”

Thanks, Jay Smooth.

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Obama repealed the Global Gag Rule!

Hooray! Government money can, again, go to health care organizations world wide that *gasp!* acknowledge that legal abortion exists as on option for women.

I was a little disappointed that he didn’t repeal it yesterday, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I hope that he did it today to strategically bury it from the people who would complain, not because he isn’t committed to comprehensive women’s health worldwide. I wish he would take a more dramatic public stand, but the actions are good enough for me. He needs to be political, too.

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Reply turned post, blog for choice style

De in D.C. posted a comment on my first blog for choice day post. It was a familiar tune, one that I hear too often from women. They frame the abortion discussion based on what they themselves would choose if they were faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Many women think they would not choose to terminate and unplanned pregnancy, so that makes them “pro-life”. Here is my reply:

Well, I think it comes down to this. Are you against choosing an abortion for yourself, or do you think that women who want abortions should be forced to carry their pregnancy to term against their will or be forced to get an illegal abortion?

Many, many people would not choose an elective termination for themselves. Or, should I say, many women think they would not, but then do when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, 40% of women choose to terminate.

I understand the drug use example, but I don’t think it’s a very good one. Women are not criminals or addicts if they want to choose when to be pregnant and bear children. I think everyone would agree that IV drug use is a destructive, dangerous activity. Reproductive choice is not dangerous or destructive. Legal, safe abortion not only saves women’s lives, but it saves their already living children’s lives. The children who are four times more likely to die if their mother dies. Abortion is too often compared to something very dark or sinister, when it is the alternative that is truly sinister.

I think a much better example is euthanasia. I personally would not want to be hooked up on tubes, brain dead, in an ICU for years. Pull the plug. Pull the tubes. That’s not MY definition of life. I get to make that choice. Or, do I? Look at the Terri Schiavo case. I also believe in physician assisted euthanasia. Some people find that horrifying, scary, or unethical. But, it is not that way to everyone, and definite majorities in some states have said euthanasia, including physician assisted euthanasia, should be legal. Some people who personally would choose to have every resuscitation possibility used for themselves or their own loved ones may be able to step back and say that it is not their right to make that very, very difficult decision for other people. I would assume that not everyone who voted for those laws would choose physician assisted euthanasia if faced with a painful terminal illness and loss of quality of life.

I think the abortion discussion is too often focused on what individuals would choose for themselves, not on public policy. That’s not what “pro-choice” means. Pro-choice is a political position on health care access. If you think OTHER women should be forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will, then you can label yourself “pro-life” (which, as I showed above, is a misnomer to say the least) or “anti-abortion” as you see fit. I prefer the term “anti-choice”. If you think every woman gets to make that decision, just as you did, then you are pro-choice.

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Blog for Choice Day, take 2

Blog for Choice Day, take two. Well, when I signed up, I didn’t realize that there was a topic. Of course, it was the one I said was being covered better by other people than me, but here goes:

What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?

Keeping with the theme of my Myth vs. Fact post, I would like the dialogue to change. I think Congress and Obama can change the national dialogue about abortion by not being afraid to talk about it. Not being afraid to talk about how many women get them, how common it is, how safe it is, and how most people support it. Not to focus on how tragic it is, or how controversial it is, or how we need to prevent it. I am all for decreasing unplanned pregnancy by having fully funded and accessible contraception for all. I am also for preventing heart disease, but victim blaming and clucking about how awful it is to have to go through a bypass graft is not the way we talk about heart disease. Reproductive health discussions are dominated by the minority who think it’s controversial. We need to take back the conversation from the extremists.

Oh, and I celebrated the anniversary by wearing my awesome bedazzled uterus shirt.

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Blog for Choice Day

Happy 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade! I feel especially attached to the Supreme Court decision (and I never forget which anniversary it is) because I was born in 1973.

I am very excited about the Obama administration already working to repair the damage done to reproductive health and choice by the Bush administration. There has been a lot of speculation about plans to overturn the Global Gag Rule, to freeze the new HHS conscience rule, and to increase funding for evidence based reproductive health care. Since this is being discussed all over the internets already, I am going to focus on some common myths about abortion.

Myth #1: Making abortion illegal (for example, by overturning Roe v. Wade) will decrease abortions.

Fact #1 Abortions do not decrease in countries with restrictive abortion laws. (Guttmacher Institute – Abortion law)

Myth #2 Making abortion illegal (for example, by overturning Roe v. Wade) is “pro-life”

Fact #2 In fact, according to the World Health Organization, “As such, the number of maternal deaths, not abortions, is the most visible consequence of legal restrictions on abortion”. Illegal abortion causes 20 to 50 times as many deaths as legal abortion.

Myth #3 Christians, especially Catholics, do not get abortions or support abortion

Fact #3 Forty-three percent of women obtaining abortions identify themselves as Protestant, and 27% as Catholic. (Guttmacher Institute – who gets abortions)

Myth #4 Women who get abortions wouldn’t get one if they knew what it was like to be a mother (or, if they had an ultrasound and just realized that it is a “real baby” they would change their minds).

Fact #4 60% of women who get abortions already have a child. They know full well what being pregnant means, and what raising a child entails.

Myth #5 Ultrasounds are required to make abortions medically safe

Fact #5 Ultrasound is not required for dating early pregnancies, nor is it medically required for safe abortions. Ultrasound laws are deliberately created to try to discourage abortion, not to make them safer. In fact, the laws are intrusive, require a vaginal ultrasound in many cases, cost more, and lead women to get abortions later due to higher cost.

Myth #6 “Party girls” have abortions as a form of birth control, and don’t want to “take responsibility”.

Fact #6 The reasons most women give for getting abortions indicate their responsibility. 3/4 of women who seek an abortion say their main reason is their feeling of responsibility to others. This is usually their existing children or others they care for. Other reasons include a lack of money to raise a child, work and school.

Myth #7 Most abortions occur late in pregnancy, and it is just like killing a baby.

Fact #7 About 90% of abortions in the United States occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. There is minimal tissue removed, and it is just like having a heavy period. In fact, many women who are not on contraception have early miscarriages in the first trimester and don’t even know they were pregnant.

Myth #8 Legal abortion is dangerous.

Fact #8 Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures available. Abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and no increased risk of cancer, including breast cancer.

Myth #9 Abortions cause depression and mental health problems for women who have them.

Fact #9 Abortions have repeatedly been shown to not increase risk of depression or mental health problems when compared to unplanned pregnancies that are carried to term.

Myth #10 Only careless women have unintended pregnancies, and very few women get abortions, women I don’t have to care about.

Fact #10 Again from the Guttmacher Institute: About half of American women have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and at current rates more than one-third (35%) will have had an abortion by age 45.

Look around you. If you know more than three women, chances are, someone you know has had an abortion.

I could go on, and I might add more later, but I have to get back to school.

(I didn’t link every fact individually, but they are all covered in the links above.)

Happy anniversary!

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