Tag Archives: Contraception

Race, pregnancy and birth, link round up and reply turned post

There has been a lot of comprehensive, thoughtful discussion of race and its intersection with reproduction on the intertubes recently.

Do Black Women’s Reproductive Rights Matter? by Renee at Womanist Musings

Race and the Rights of Childbearing Women by Jill at the Unnecesarean

Women of Color and the Anti-Choice Focus on Eugenics by Pamela Merritt (aka Angry Black Bitch) at RH Reality Check

The Facts About Abortion Rates Among Women of Color by Susan Cohen on RH Reality Check

I wrote a reply on the last post, which I will reproduce here:

When I wrote about this on my own blog recently, a commenter mentioned the recently released movie Maafa 21, which was funded by an anti-choice group out of Texas not known for its civil rights history.

I hope this conversation continues, and the dominant voices aren’t the ones that use the horrible history of blacks in America and eugenics to try to deprive them of reproductive freedoms today. I was searching for a womanist, feminist and racially sensitive review (preferably by a woman of color) of the movie, but was only able to find copied and pasted press releases about how “well argued” it is. I don’t think it’s irrefutable at all, nor do I think laws banning or restricting legal and safe abortion help women of color. Rather, they would be the ones disproportionally getting unsafe abortions. I can only assume most people, including pro-choice and / or womanist women of color, don’t want to sit through the film in order to discuss it. I do think watching it is important, but considering all the important work I agree with that I don’t have time to watch, this film is low on my list. And, it doesn’t use my history to argue against my rights, (just the history of some of my ancestors’ enslavement and oppression of blacks) since I am white, so I can only guess that it wouldn’t be as difficult to watch for me as it would be for a woman of color.

That’s the problem when race and racism intersects with other social issues. And it does. With all of them. The fact that racism shows an effect in abortion rates doesn’t condemn abortion, it condemns racism. Racism is present in heart attack treatment in emergency rooms, but that doesn’t condemn treatment of heart attacks. It affects birth, mode of delivery, place of delivery, complication (morbidity) rates for the mom and the baby including preterm delivery, mortality rates, etc. That doesn’t condemn obstetrics in general, but it indicates that racism is pervasive, and is one of the many issues within obstetrics (and emergency care, and reproductive care) that needs to be examined and improved upon.


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The billboard in Atlanta

The first time I had heard of turning abortion into a racial genocide issue was during the run up to the 2008 election. I was at an Obama event in Miami that was centered around Women’s Issues, and a small group of African Americans staged a disturbance / protest during the event, unfurling signs they had apparently hidden among their clothes and belongings, with slogans like “abortion is black genocide” and comparing Obama to the KKK due to his (lukewarm) support of a woman’s right to choose.

Renee at Womanist Musings wrote about billboards in Atlanta that is essentially blaming black women for aborting too many of their children. I find this troublesome on so many levels, not the least of all that I feel like the black community is being manipulated, and black women are being shamed and blamed.

I do understand that some White women may be reticent to enter this debate because it is framed as saving a Black child, who we know to be universally undereducated and invisible. Even when Black women place their children for adoption, they are less likely to be adopted and so it would appear that Black women are really reduced to two choices, abort or raise the child themselves. Even if we validate that point, there is still the issue of placing a priority on women’s agency when it comes to reproductive rights. We do not have the right to question these women on their decisions. No one chooses to abort without putting great thought into the matter and if we truly respect the right to choose, it must apply to ALL women.

Finally, as scared as White women may be to interact because of the racial undertones of this argument, I must ask don’t Black women matter?

Please read the entire post. And, please read Rachel’s post about it, which is where I saw it first.


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Reproductive Coercion

An outreach person from Women in Distress came to our medical school this week. Women in Distress is the local recipient of the proceeds from our performance of The Vagina Monologues. I am going to be in my third production of it this year. This year I will be performing “I Was There in the Room”, which is the closing piece about a forceps birth.

The representative from Women in Distress did a great presentation. I did add one thing at the end for the group, considering we are all intending to be health care practitioners. I made sure that they knew how common contraceptive sabotage or reproductive coercion was a facet of domestic violence. I thought it was important to know that a patient may complain of frequently losing her birth control pills, or who gets pregnant unintentionally often, or seems very uncomfortable talking about contraception and refuses without discussing it, or outright tells you that her partner will flush it down the toilet or won’t let her use birth control, and any of these should be a red flag that there may be an abuse problem.

Well, today I decided to do something about my burgeoning blog reader. (Be prepared for lots of hat tips and a blogaround or two.) Cara at The Curvature linked to this press release from the Family Violence Prevention Fund about reproductive coercion.

From August 2008 to March 2009, researchers worked at five reproductive health clinics in Northern California, querying some 1,300 English- and Spanish-speaking 16- to 29-year-old women who agreed to respond to a survey about their experiences. They were asked about birth-control sabotage, pregnancy coercion and intimate partner violence. Approximately one in five young women said they experienced pregnancy coercion and 15 percent said they experienced birth control sabotage. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner. Thirty-five percent of the women who reported partner violence also reported either pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.

This is not only a “little recognized form of abuse”, but it is also an important facet of the discussion of unintended pregnancy and abortion. Some people think the male partner should have a say in abortion. I think this highlights why that is not something that can nor should be enforced by the courts, and is really should not be a priority.


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Thank you, Shark fu

What she said.


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Stopping by to say hi

I used to blog here, right?

I had company in town and a lot of social commitments over the Thanksgiving holiday. I have had a few ideas for posts, but no time to write them. In the meantime, in light of the total lack of any contraceptive coverage requirements in either health care bill, and the Stupak amendment, here’s a cartoon:

From In Contempt, hat tip to Alas, a Blog.

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Reply turned post, religion and reproduction style

The blogosphere has been full of posts about a soon to be published study in Reproductive Health (one of my favorite journals!) about state teen birth rates and religiosity being correlated.

I posted a reply on one of the posts, the one on the New York Times parenting blog Motherlode.

What a shame.

I am proud to have a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice speaking at our medical school next month. She is a Baptist minister and is a Doctor of Divinity. And she is adamantly pro-choice, provides condoms to teenagers at her inner city church, and also provides information about and promotes access to emergency contraception in her community.

There is nothing about religiosity or Christianity that inherently means that one cannot promote contraception, comprehensive sex education or safe and legal abortions. I am a member of Medical Students for Choice, and interact with many abortion providers and pro-choice activists whose faith has an important role in their lives and in their promotion of women’s health.

Dr. Tiller was assassinated while serving at his church. More pro-choice Christians need to stand up to the loud, reactionary ones who are trying to turn our country into a fundamentalist third world nation.

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“Natural” birth control pill

Bayer Schering Pharma, the makers of Yaz, has launched a birth control pill in the United Kingdom that is bioidentical to female hormones. It is synthesized from plants.


Yes, it’s 3 a.m. I had way too much coffee when I was studying. I will be trying to sleep soon, I promise.

ETA: I wonder if they will have to retract any of the advertising for this birth control pill. I don’t think they are allowed to advertise prescriptions directly to the consumer in the UK.


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