An email

July 13, 2009 § Leave a comment

Upon reading your article “Palin’s anti-choice legacy,” I wanted to bring a particular point to your attention.

Your use of the term “anti-choice” is very misleading, and shows a significant misunderstanding of the term.

The term anti-choice by definition means “one who opposes ALL choices”, no matter what the topic of choice be. The opposition to abortion does not stem from the opposition of choices in general (as the term anti-choice would lead one to believe). Those who oppose abortion are against feticide and embryocide, thus making them anti-feticide, anti-embryocide, or anti-abortion. Just as someone who opposes the choice of a man to hit his wife is not anti-choice, but anti-domestic-violence, the correct label for a person who opposes abortion would be anti-abortion (or anti-feticide, anti-embryocide, etc.)

I would invite you to visit the website www.notantichoice.com to review and read more information on this subject and on the use of the term anti-choice.

Thank you,

[name withheld]

Um, no.

I could probably just deal with this in a short response email, or even concede no response at all, but I prefer to direct public attention to a post I’ve written previously on this subject. My own words:

I am pro-life. I am completely in support of each person’s right to life – their right to go to school and grow up and decide what their favorite food is and ask questions and read magazines and get a job and dream about changing the world. That’s why I’m a pacifist. I want all of those things for every person on this earth, and I’m tired of being made to seem like I’m against life because I am pro-choice.

For me, being pro-life is being pro-women’s lives. It is one the most demeaning things in the world to feel that the government values the life of the fetus potentially living inside me more than my life. It will be a person. I am a person. It will have a life — a life that I’ll fight to protect — but I’ve already got one. It’s a goddamn group of cells. I’m a woman. I laugh at the idea of someone who believes in lives, who believes in autonomy and the right of every thing to exist, telling me how to live mine.

That’s why I much prefer the term anti-choice to pro-life, because that’s what this whole fuss is about: telling women what to do with their bodies, their futures, their lives, instead of letting us choose for ourselves. If anti-choicers were truly pro-life, they would give a shit once the fetus was born — which, you know, they don’t: anti-choicers are the ones who are cutting funds for child care and children’s hospitals. And if they really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they’d stop pouring millions of dollars into bullshit sex ed programs and limiting access to birth control. What they are actually interested in is limiting women’s choices — limiting women’s lives.

That sounds like just the opposite of pro-life to me.

Anything to add, commenters? Does someone with more time than I’ve got at the moment want to take on the troubling parallel this emailer draws between abortion and domestic violence? Do you prefer the label pro-life, instead of anti-choice? Have at it in the comments.

Cross-posted at Feministe.

Palin’s anti-choice legacy

July 6, 2009 § 1 Comment

Via Feministing, a post by Clara Jeffery of Mother Jones tells us that one of Palin’s last acts in office was to accelerate a parental notice and consent law for women under 18 who are seeking abortion.

We see this shit all the time: my sisters’ rights to our own bodies are routinely taken away in the name of paternalistic “protection.” We saw it in the conservative media hoopla when the FDA approved over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for women 17 and older, as opposed to an earlier 18 and older policy (my favorite Mike Galanos quote: “With Plan B, they can do it now and deal with it later”). And we’re seeing it again with Palin. Nevermind that young women who don’t tell their parents about their abortion have damn good reasons for keeping quiet.

Before news of the resignation, Beverly Wooley and Jay Butler, two of Alaska’s public health experts, were essentially forced out of office for meddling in Palin’s anti-choice crusade.

Both [Wooley and Butler] made the critical mistake of wanting to present scientific evidence on the impact of parental consent laws to the state Senate. They never got the chance; the Senate “ran out of time.” From the Anchorage Daily News:

Wooley said she also intended to answer questions from legislators and said she would rely on data, not anyone’s personal beliefs. Whether she personally agreed with the governor is beside the point, Wooley said.

She intended to refer to studies from states that already had passed similar legislation, she said. Some of the research shows that, with parental involvement requirements, girls tend to get abortions later in their pregnancy, which is riskier and more expensive, she said. Other research shows fewer girls get abortions, which abortion foes like Palin likely would applaud. Wooley cautioned that the studies are small and not definitive because such laws are still fairly new.

That was enough to get her canned. And guess what? The next day, the very day that Palin resigned:

A proposal to require parental notice or consent before a female younger than 18 could have an abortion was certified Thursday by the state so that its backers can seek enough signatures to get the initiative before voters next year.

So, Sarah Palin may be gone soon. But her policies live on.

I’d just like to say: this is outrageous. Not only that Palin is so clearly shaming young women for having sex (how crazy is that? Women having sex?! News to me!); not only that she is firing staff for, in Clara Jeffery’s words, making the “critical mistake of wanting to present scientific evidence…to the state Senate” (I mean, I know Palin is scared of science, but come on!); but also that a young woman’s fundamental right to control her own body is being set aside in favor of abortion statistics.

Even if the stats show that requiring parental consent for teenagers’ abortions lowers rates — party at the Palin anti-choice mansion, anyone? I love me some barbecued moose — I still need the right to get the procedure without my parents knowing! Statistics and evidence are of course vitally important to crafting effective legislation, but reproductive rights and bodily integrity should not depend on whichever survey is being considered. They are fundamental.

Cross-posted at Feministe.

Choices: Abortion

June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Coming up next week is another of NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s Choices events.

Choices: Abortion
Wednesday, July 8th
6:30 PM- 8:30 PM
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor, NYC

NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health in partnership with co-sponsors the New York Abortion Access Fund and Exhale presents Choices: Abortion.

Presenters will share the work they do each day to provide financial assistance to low-income women who cannot afford to pay for an abortion, support and counsel women after they have an abortion, ensure that all women have the health care coverage and access necessary to obtain reproductive health care, and work on the legislative and political levels to ensure that all people have access to safe and legal abortion.

Presenters include:

Event is free and open to all with RSVP to Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506. Event space is wheel-chair accessible.

I hope to make it, and I’d love to see lots of people there!

Quotes That Are Deeply Disturbing: Coulter on Murder

June 25, 2009 § 1 Comment

The one millionth way that Ann Coulter simultaneously terrifies and disgusts me:

“I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.

– Ann Coulter on The O’Reilly Factor on June 22, 2009

And may I ask — what the fuck is an “abortionist,” or even an “abortion doctor”? Ann, you can save those extra syllables and just call them doctors — you know, the kind who go to medical school, get certified, and save lives.

via a NARAL Pro-Choice America email.

Quotes That Are Deeply Disturbing: Nixon on Abortion

June 24, 2009 § 1 Comment

“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white. Or a rape.

– President Richard M. Nixon on January 23, 1973

Abortion & Parental Consent

June 2, 2009 § 2 Comments

Go read this: I helped teenagers get secret abortions.

The author, SteelRigged, reflects on their experience working for a Texas nonprofit called Jane’s Due Process, which is one of few if not “the only organization in the country that helps teens navigate the judicial bypass process to get abortions without parental consent or notification.”

The very first call I took at Jane’s Due Process (again: Google [it] and [donate] money) was from a 17 year old who said bluntly, “My mom’s in jail and my dad’s in Iraq” she was living with her older sister who was 22, but the clinic were not allowed to accept the sister’s consent because she was not the legal guardian. Both sisters thought they could get either of their parents to consent, but there was a timing issue. My state only allows abortions up to 21 weeks. It routinely took two or three months for mail to circulate from the base address the girls had to the frontlines where their father was, and then back to them. Their mother, they said, couldn’t receive registered letters at all. So, by the time the permission form got back, a legal abortion would be unavailable. We set her up with a lawyer to try and get a bypass.

These, the author writes, are the “easy cases.”

I even sent a girl to Kansas once; she was a marathon runner and a track star. She lost her period every year during training season and so really did not know she was pregnant until the middle of the second trimester. Her parents were hard core religious, and she knew that they would turn her out on the streets no matter what happened with the pregnancy. She didn’t want to be homeless.

None of these teens get to speak out. We get to pass laws that endanger their lives, but they can’t protest…I don’t have a T.V. show, I don’t have security guards, all I have is the residual fear that somewhere there is a man with a gun, looking for our office, who is absolutely certain he has the right to shoot me, because I help teenagers get abortions.

This absolutely necessary piece dispels the myth that teenage women make “secret” decisions because we’re stupid, sly sluts. It’s not like we keep these decisions from our parents because we love the thrill of rebellion. We stay quiet because people like Bill O’Reilly and Mike Galanos try to speak for us. We keep secrets because our parents, like our government, do not respect us; because the only people we can truly trust are ourselves; because our lives depend on the silence and shame.

Young women, like other particularly marginalized groups (women of color; disabled, queer, poor, and immigrant women; many many many others) are an easy target. We need to speak up and keep telling the world that we do not take our personal decisions lightly, and that our conviction does not conform to age restriction laws.

Via Feministing.

NARAL Event

April 28, 2009 § 1 Comment

NARAL Pro-Choice New York has been doing some great work with the Choices Series, “a six-part series of events examining the full range of reproductive choices available to women.” Next week is the Choices: Parenting event, hosted by Sistas on the Rise.

Thursday, May 7th
6:15-8:15 pm
Sistas on the Rise
835 Dawson Street
Bronx, NY 10459

The second installment of the series will be Choices: Parenting, a look at the work being done on the ground to ensure that parenting is an accessible and supported reproductive choice for all. Co-sponsors and presenters include Sistas on the Rise, Baby’s First Home, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), and the Red Hook Initiative.

Free with RSVP to Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506.

Event is open to all and space is wheelchair accessible.

Hope some of you can make it!

Quick, Awful Hit

April 25, 2009 § 2 Comments

The Dominican Republic has outlawed abortion. As Cara reminds us, women will die because of these “pro-life” policies.

Women’s Work In The New Economy

March 31, 2009 § 5 Comments

Another guest post by Joel, cross-posted at Citizen Obie.

I’ve been thinking about the issue of women work trends since I saw an earlier post here a while back about how feminists were reacting to the stimulus package, and what they thought it offered to support industries with greater representation of women (social work, education, health.) My concern was not so much with the sectors the stimulus emphasized, I believe that fomenting green manufacturing, construction, transportation, and agriculture is going to be fundamental to getting ourselves out of this economic mess we’re in and moving us towards an era of sustainable prosperity and equity. But where do women fit in this agenda? Green-collar jobs, the premier jobs of the new economy, are in construction and manufacturing (and I pray also urban agriculture,) sectors with little female representation. I’m going to assume that construction and manufacturing will remain important and vibrant for years to come, in which case my concern is how do we promote gender equity in those fields? How do we make sure that women share in the vision of the new economy, how do we de-stratify the sectors with the greatest potential for growth?

I thought about it even more when the news got out that the White House vegetable garden is Michelle Obama’s initiative. I love Michelle Obama, I love organic vegetable gardens, and I love children’s health and nutrition, but I was intrigued by the historic association between first ladies and health (specifically children’s health) advocacy. I wouldn’t call it anything as strong as a major concern, but what does it mean for powerful, fiercely intelligent women (in Michelle Obama’s case, a lawyer) to be relegated to work with overtones of domesticity? On the other hand, maybe I ought to rethink my own gendered assumptions about what it means to work with children and health. Maybe it is my own male bias and set of assumptions that I imply above that children and health issues might be ‘beneath’ a fiercely intelligent woman. In this case, how will we encourage (assuming we want to) the disassociation of particular fields with the different genders? And if such associations remain tenacious, what opportunities are available to women in the revolutionary restructuring of the educational and health care systems, as called for in Barack Obama’s agenda? Energy, education, and health are the major focuses of Obama’s agenda. Is it okay for energy to be a primarily masculine field, with education and (to a lesser degree) health to be primarily feminine?

Finally, here are a few articles on the immediate effects of the recession on women’s economic lives. The first is on the likely increase of domestic disputes as a result of male unemployment. It suggests that recessions, with major job loss for male-bodied individuals, breeds resentment as males fail to fulfill their ‘breadwinner’ roles, compounding the other stresses of over-worked women struggling to fulfill their roles as double-time workers and mothers. The second is on women losing their jobs and moving into the sex entertainment industry. And here’s one on the unfortunate likelihood that pregnant women and new mothers may be more likely to face unemployment, despite the illegality of discriminating against mothers. Overall, it looks as though the recession and the vast restructuring of the economy (I hope) will have major effects on perceptions of domesticity and women’s work roles. I hope some of you are as interested in these broad trends as I am. I think they definitely point to a very particular landscape in the contemporary feminist movement.

There is no Witty Title that can Accurately Express how Angry I am

March 10, 2009 § 5 Comments

(Trigger Warning)

Holy shit. And we thought we’d seen the worst in anti-choice activity last week.

In case you haven’t heard, a nine-year-old rape victim in Brazil and her family were excommunicated by Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho for choosing to get an abortion. The girl’s rapist? Her step dad. The doctors that performed the abortion were excommunicated as well.

Abortion is illegal in Brazil, unless it is a case of rape or the mother’s life is endangered. This nine-year-old’s situation meets both of these qualifications, as being forced to bring a pregnancy to term before even reaching puberty could cause severe health complications.

I can’t even write eloquently about this. Every time I attempt to, angry, incoherent slurs come out. The Time article speaks for itself:

“God’s laws,” said the archbishop, dictate that abortion is a sin and that transgressors are no longer welcome in the Roman Catholic Church. “They took the life of an innocent,” Sobrinho told TIME in a telephone interview. “Abortion is much more serious than killing an adult. An adult may or may not be an innocent, but an unborn child is most definitely innocent. Taking that life cannot be ignored.”

What the fuck, Archbishop? How fucking dare you? This girl has gone through enough heartbreak, enough trauma, enough pain. Your excommunication is just the icing on the shitcake. Not only is she suffering, but her entire family is as well. You would apparently prefer that a prepubescent girl give birth to the twins of her rapist. And you proudly speak about the “life of an innocent.” Is she not innocent? Because a fetus has begun to develop, suddenly the well-being of the person who’s actually living (who’s actually a person!) is completely null? This goes beyond plain old victim blaming. The victim doesn’t even play a part in your thought process. The victim doesn’t matter. You also compare abortion to the Holocaust. I’m sorry, but the ruthless killing, torturing, and imprisonment of an entire racial group of people for years is not comparable to abortion in the slightest.

The article goes on to explain that despite the fact that abortion is illegal, approximately one million women get abortions secretly (with varying safety depending on what they can afford) in Brazil. And about 200,000 are admitted to hospitals with abortion procedure complications.

The (slight) silver lining is that this event has created a lot of public uproar opposition to the Catholic Church and its bullshit regarding a woman’s right to choose, even among conservatives. In fact, the article states that, “only 74% of Brazilians today admit allegiance to Rome, with large numbers, especially the urban poor, having defected to Protestant Evangelical sects.”

Again, I really am at a loss for words.

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