Archive for the ‘reproductive rights’ Category

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pro-lifers can be rendered speechless

July 31, 2007

…when you ask them what would be a proper punishment for women who have abortions if they became illegal. Truly amazing stuff.

UPDATE: I can’t embed the YouTube video anymore, but you can watch it here.

Via Feministe. Read Anna Quinden’s piece and then Jill’s commentary at Feministe. They said it better than I could.

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a fetus a day keeps the doctor away

July 11, 2007

Remember the story about the “fetus” that was found at a golf course in Queens (which later turned out to be a maxi pad)? This story trumps that one, I think. On many levels.

A fetus was found in a bag in the girls’ locker room at a school in Dallas! OMG! Except it was just a rotten orange. Crazy much? Why is it assumed that teenage girls are promiscuous sluts who are not only careless enough to get pregnant but who would leave the fetus in their locker? Whatever happened to absent-minded teenagers who leave food to rot in their lockers?

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon gives some excellent context:

Anyway, Bush-appointed members of the FDA believe that there’s a likelihood of emergency contraception-based teenage sex cults, so why would it be such a leap to imagine that junior high girls are running around having sex with the boys and escaping the due punishment by with Sapphic abortion parties in the girls locker room? It’s not like the Bush administration would have members that had a poor grasp on reality, right? The way the war is going certainly demonstrates that. Why I bet these teenage girls today with their girl power and their Title IX are able to self-abort by playing Britney Spears records backwards. That’s how far this country has fallen, due to the feminist infiltrators.

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connecting the abortion dots

April 27, 2007

WIMN’s Voices and Pandagon both have posts about an explosive device found yesterday at a women’s clinic in Austin, TX. If the actual story wasn’t infuriating enough, both posts are ranting about the paltry news coverage that this story received. (a 97-word AP story is about all there was). Keely Savoie at WIMN only knew about the story because a friend in Austin, “where it was covered with all the fanfare of a traffic accident,” passed on the news to her.

Zuzu at Feministe questions the selectivity in American definitions of “terrorism.”

For some reason, terrorism doesn’t count if it’s directed against women and their health care providers. It’s just not news, and the fact that it goes unremarked in the national media — and hell, even in the local media, as in the case of the Austin bomb — contributes to the idea that women are not important and that violence directed at women is not only to be expected, but to be dismissed.

It should be no shock to anyone that terrorism is defined racially and nationalistically – not according to the characteristics of the crime, but who is being threatened and who is doing the threatening. In this case, the lowest of the low – not just women but women seeking abortions – are being threatened. Their lives are clearly of no import.

I just can’t believe the number of newspieces and blog posts I’ve seen lately highlighting how little women’s lives actually matter. I can’t believe the hypocrisy of anti-choicers who go batshit about the lives of zygotes and fetuses and not the women carrying them (who are clearly just incubators). I love the guy who says that ultimately he has more unconditional love for his unborn child than his wife because he shares genetic material with the fetus. Or how about Mississippi, the safest place in America to be an unborn child but one of the worst if you are a low-income woman (and probably a woman of color) trying to access prenatal care? How long will it take until we start connecting the dots and realize that this so-called “culture of life” is a total sham?

I just started reading journalist Eyal Press’ fantastic book Absolute Convictions, a combination history of the anti-choice movement, social history of the city of Buffalo, and biography of his father, an ob-gyn and a colleague of Dr. Barnett Slepian, who was murdered in Buffalo in 1998. Press seamlessly links the closing factories, the declining faith in the labor movement, economic decline, a resurgence of fundamentalist Christianity, and rising racial tensions with the emergence of the anti-choice movement. In the end, women and the medical professionals who care for them pay the price for this lethal combination. Perhaps we need to do more than raise an eyebrow when explosives are sent to a clinic in Austin and start seeing this problem in more systemic terms.

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Mission: make the HPV vaccine as useless as possible

March 16, 2007

Last week I wrote this piece over at jspot, basically arguing that mandating the HPV vaccine will be totally meaningless if there’s no money to pay for it. Only one state (my home state of NJ, I am proud to say) has included a discussion of funding alongside their proposed mandate.

So I was less than shocked to read that republican senator Phil Gingrey has proposed a bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds for the HPV vaccine (as reported by the Washington Times). Wonderful. The bill, if passed, would not prevent states from mandating the vaccine, it would just prevent Medicaid or regular school vaccination coverage of the vaccine. Props to Kaiser Daily Health updates for linking to the actual text of the bill, which says the following:

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons states that there is no public health purpose for mandating HPV vaccine for schoolchildren. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease. (emphasis mine)

You get HPV from sex, ergo, it is not a public health issue? I can’t even get into how twisted that is. This is not about 12-year olds having sex, it’s about the fact that the vaccine is most effective when given at this early age! I don’t really want to rehash what I said at jspot, but basically anyone who can afford to pay for this vaccine out-of-pocket is probably someone who gets regular pap smears, which would detect any abnormal HPV/cervical cancer cells early enough to treat it. Those who would really need the vaccine, therefore (women who do not have health insurance and therefore do not have regular checkups at the gynecologist) are the very women whom Gingrey is trying to prevent from accessing this vaccine! Truly disgusting.

According to the Times, the bill won’t pass as a stand-alone but Gingrey can and likely will try getting this issue into the 2008 appropriations bill for the Health and Human Services Department. Gingrey, by the way, is an ob-gyn and is anti-choice (surprise!).

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choicers for life

January 22, 2007

Today is blog for choice day. The theme is “why I am pro-choice.” I look forward to read lots of other bloggers’ posts. I don’t have tons of new ideas to post, just a short essay.

My being pro-choice has very little to do with abortion. I am pro-choice because we still live in an imperfect world. Because it still really sucks to be a woman. And because there is so much inequality, oppression, and hypocrisy in this country that we cannot afford any high horses.

Until we can figure out proper (i.e. real) sex education in this country and access to contraception for everyone, both unconditional and without the weight of Christian morality. Until the development of a cervical cancer vaccine makes everyone jump for joy instead of wonder whether it will turn our teenage daughters into sluts. Until the US government stops putting white fetuses above those of color. Until we can figure out why putting more money into AIDS research than military ambitions might actually be a more productive use of our money. Until the US government considers the life of a soldier in Iraq to be equally as important as that of an unborn fetus. Until the military superpower that is the US government can prove to the world that it actually does value life in any form. Until minimum wage is a living wage that can actually support a family. Until everyone can access proper health care. Until there stops being a double-standard when it comes to sexual morality for men and women. Until the government stops peeking into our bedrooms and punishing us when they don’t like what they see. Until everyone is aware of their own sexual power and uses it accordingly. Until anti-choicers understand that we are pro-life.

Not yet.

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name that acronym: NPR, HPV, STI, HIV/AIDS

January 9, 2007

Two quick items relating to sexual health and media:

The first is a new NPR show still in preliminary stages. NPR loves to create podcasts and I, in turn, love to listen. They are making weekly 15-minute podcasts they are calling Rough Cuts – snippets from some pilot segments of a new show. Listeners are supposed to leave their reactions and suggestions in the comments section of a blog, linked from the NPR website. They haven’t yet named the show, but the motto is “Nothing is assumed.”

The most recent podcast, which I listened to this morning, deals with HPV – what it is, how it’s contracted, and how to get tested for it. The difference between this show and another, we are told at the end, is that the producers looked for nontraditional guests for talking about particular topics. In this case, the interviewer spoke with two women’s health advocates, both who have experienced HPV firsthand (as opposed to speaking with a doctor or a public health expert). Both women work for organizations whose mission is to research and educate on HPV and cervical cancer.

The podcast is pretty short and definitely worth a listen, and I think for a ‘rough cut,’ it’s pretty good – they talked at length about how little most women seem to know about HPV, and that a startling 95% of cervical cancer cases originated with HPV. I found it surprising that while they mentioned the new HPV vaccine, they did not address the political issues and arguments around it in any kind of detail, which to me are the most interesting – after all, what good is a vaccine if right-wing fundamentalists refuse to allow it to young women for fear that it will turn them into sluts overnight? (oh, I love abstinence-only education).

I should say that I love the idea of talking to nontraditional experts about issues like this. These women are more than qualified to talk about HPV, perhaps even more so than a doctor. I also like a show that attempts to not make assumptions. It has potential to be a bit less staged and more accessible than your typical NPR fare. I’m not sure what the topics of the upcoming podcasts will be but I am certainly looking forward.

The other quick piece is that NYC Mayor Bloomberg is spearheading a plan to make NYC-brand condoms in a variety of colors, with the condoms and packaging corresponding to different subway lines! I think this is really fantastic. Safe sex + NYC merchandise, all in one package. As Gothamist points out, NYC has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the country. This is a much-needed project, and it seems like they’re going about it through “marketable” means. (Thanks to Gothamist for linkage).

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framing the choice debate

October 16, 2006

Saturday’s Alternet has a really fantastic piece written by a former anti-choice activist. Elizabeth Wardle’s “Reflections from a Former Anti-Abortion Activist” is concise but carries a broad and productive critique of the overall tone and message of the both the anti- and pro-choice movements. She briefly describes her childhood, attending anti-choice rallies and believing that the abortion debate was a simple one, it was about life-and-death. She went to college and learned that this issue is grayer than she thought:

In my women’s studies classes I learned about poverty and racism, about misogyny, about the history of birth control (or rather, control of birth control). I learned that for many women there are several important questions that come before whether or not a fetus is a life–questions such as, “Will this pregnancy cost me my life? Who will feed this child? Where is one person who will provide me with some support if I have this child?”

Easy enough, but now the confusing part comes when she tries to synthesize her former beliefs with her newly-acquired ones:

By the end of college, my former certainty about abortion had completely deserted me. I had arrived at a place where I couldn’t identify myself as pro-life any longer. I now believed in choice, but without advocating abortion. I still believed a fetus was a life–but I had come to understand there were other issues at stake, too. Was mine a pro-choice position? None of the pro-choice rhetoric with which I was familiar led me to believe it was; having once been a true believer in the pro-life movement, I found nothing in the rhetoric of the pro-choice movement that appealed to me or adequately stated my position.

Wardle’s words rang true for me, as I believe they ring true for many pro-choice folks who understand that the “pro-abortion” image of the movement is not representative of the beliefs of most people who are actually pro-choice. None of us is pro-abortion; rather, we understand that the issue is more complicated that that. I believe that it is the anti-choice movement that has created the image of us as baby-haters (and worse: baby-killers). Wardle is spot-on when she writes that the coat hanger is no longer a useful image for the pro-choice movement and one of the reasons why the anti-choice movement is successful is because of its gory images. On the coat hanger, she writes:

…that symbol is rhetorically empty for women of my generation forward. As a result, the pro-choice movement simply does not have competing images for those placed on placards by the anti-choice movement. As long as abortion is legal and safe, there is (thankfully) no image to rival the visual horror of an aborted fetus; instead, there are only sterile, unemotional concepts in which to believe: privacy, choice, legalization. While feminists may feel the rightness of choice, that rightness can’t compare, on an emotional level, to the emotions associated with the implied opposite of pro-life (pro-death) or with the images of bloody fetuses.

And thank you for clearing up that the main focus of the pro-choice movement is not abortion (or at least it shouldn’t be):

Here is a pro-choice position I can get behind: Abortion is generally not the problem in need of our attention. In most cases, abortion is one result of a number of related problems; abortion is wrapped up in intimate ways with attitudes about sex, living wages, access to good jobs, healthcare, childcare, education, and so on.

If we want to prevent bringing unwanted or unsupported life into this world, birth control must be accessible to all; men and women alike need education about the necessities of birth control. Birth control, sex education, and factually correct abstinence-only programs are abortion issues.

Full article here.