Archive by Author

A feminist with body image issues: not mutually exclusive categories

5 Oct

The other day, I was prepping to head out and, as soon as I stepped out of the shower, I took a look in the mirror and one word immediately ran through my head:


As someone who has struggled with body image for nearly my entire life, this is a daily occurance. I recognize the fact that it isn’t very feminist of me. I recognize the fact that I am a hypocrite for thinking these awful thoughts about myself while telling other women that they are beautiful as they are and they should love themselves and their bodies. It’s not like I don’t get it. I just can’t apply this to my own life.

I remember first struggling with my body image sometime in elementary school: probably second or third grade. I remember always fearing being a failure in my mom’s eyes. That is when the “dieting” began. By high school, I was desperate. I was puking in toilets, overdosing on diet pills, and eating no more than 500 calories a day. I’m glad to say that those days have mostly left me, but I can not pride myself in saying that they have left me completely. I still have days where I will eat a normal, healthy meal and have a hard time resisting the urge to puke it back up.

I went on vacation this past season, and to be honest, I let go a little bit. I ended up gaining a few pounds. Honestly, I didn’t even notice a change in my body. The weight gain was that insignificant. It was still, however, significant enough to completely crush all of the work that I’ve done on my body image in the past five years. I almost felt okay at some points. Some days, I could even look in the mirror and think “hey.. I don’t look that bad”. Even during times that my body image was seemingly fine, there was always that yearning for perfection lurking in the background. After all, I could always stand to lose another 10 pounds.

I wish it was as easy as losing 10 more pounds. What I’ve come to realize in these past few years is that it’s not about the number on the scale. I could weigh 90 pounds, 120 pounds, or 300 pounds and I would still consider myself disgusting. This is not an issue with my physical health as much as it is with my mental health. I am the result of a lifetime of not being good enough. I am the result of being told by everyone from classmates to my own mother that I’m not skinny enough, that I should strive for an ideal that doesn’t exist.

Intellectually, I know that I am at a perfectly healthy weight. But healthy isn’t good enough. Healthy isn’t that gorgeous, radiant woman in the clothing ad. Healthy isn’t what my mom wanted me to be. Healthy is not and has never been my aim. Healthy and skinny, while not mutually exclusive, are two different concepts. I never wanted health; I wanted to be skinny.

The standards at which women are held in our society are absolutely ridiculous. We put our daughters and our sisters through physical and mental hell and think nothing of it. We dictate what a woman’s body is or what it should be, which drastically affects all of our sisters, transgender and cisgender alike. Us women will never be good enough, not for our current society at least. The best we can do is strive to be good enough for ourselves.

I long for the day when I can look into the mirror and think honestly to myself that I am beautiful. No “buts,” no “ifs,” just that I am beautiful. I honestly don’t know if that day will come. Fuck perfection. I will try my best.

A Response to Jennifer Fulwiler: Why “40 Days for Life” is Harmful

26 Sep

A woman named Jennifer Fulwiler recently wrote a piece called “What I Learned from Praying in Front of an Abortion Clinic.” This piece provides an interesting and  disturbing look into the anti-choice movement and their “40 days for life” protest. From being made to sign a contract to be “peaceful” (as peaceful as a group of anti-choicers could be, anyway), to how she claims that the anti-choice movement views women, it provides an eery look into the other side.

Like virtually every other anti-choice article ever written, this piece fails to honestly address the women involved in abortion. Fulwiler claims that the anti-choice movement, along with the sidewalk harassers, truly care about women. The truth is, the vast majority of the women who are walking into that clinic don’t want you there. Just put yourself in their position. Most of them are not particularly happy to be there (who likes surgery?) and just want to go through the experience with as few complications as possible. Many of them consider you, sidewalk “counselors,” a complication. Sidewalk harassers are strangers who, despite claiming not to judge, are there because they think these women are or are about to become murderers. Who the hell likes to be considered a murderer? Sidewalk harassers are there presenting themselves as hostile, unfriendly people, no matter how friendly or quiet they claim to be, and if they did respect women, they would respect the fact that the vast majority of them do not want creepy people standing outside of their doctor’s office “praying” for them. This is why so many women are grateful for clinic escorts. Furthermore, Fulwiler states later in the article that, by harassing women at their clinics, “mothers (are) saved from undergoing a procedure that would harm them both psychologically and physically”. Why, hello there, paternalism! Fulwiler’s internalized misogyny becomes painfully obvious here. Women do not need you, Jennifer Fulwiler, to decide that having an abortion would hurt them psychologically. You also don’t get to make up facts about the safety of the procedure; especially considering that an early abortion is safer than carrying a pregnancy to term.

Fulwiler states that “communities don’t want abortion facilities in their neighborhoods” because she got some positive responses from people driving by, and again completely neglects to look at it from the woman’s point of view. Someone who doesn’t want or need an abortion may not necessarily want an abortion provider in their area. It’s a tough fact to face, but people generally only see things from their point of view and fail to understand the need for abortion providers until they themselves need one. She forgets, however, that the women who are here in the first place obviously want, and need, an abortion provider in their area. A lot of these women are grateful to be able to access abortion in their area, rather than having to drive long distances just to obtain a simple medical procedure.

At first glance, Fulwiler may have seemed like the only level-headed anti-choice activist I ever encountered. It didn’t take long, however, to unearth the paternalism and misogyny in her writing. Fulwiler, you are free to continue your sidewalk harassing, but pro-choicers will continue to counter it. Pro-choicers, “40 days for life” is coming up on the 28th. If you can, please turn this into “40 days for women’s lives” and volunteer to become a clinic escort by calling your local clinic and asking if they need any volunteers. A list of the locations which are being targeted can be found here.

Small Town Activist

18 Aug

If you pay attention to pro-choice events, walks, rallies, fundraisers, and other activities, you’ll notice that almost all of them take place in big cities like New York City. This makes a lot of sense. I mean, duh! If your event is in a big city, you’ll attract more people and it will probably be a much more progressive area altogether.

Still, as a small town girl, this leaves me feeling a little bit lonely sometimes. I live in an area where I know only a small handful of pro-choicers and no other people who would call themselves activists. I go to whichever pro-choice events which are close by, but there are not many. Many activists, including myself, can’t afford to travel to participate in pro-choice events and can’t afford to take time off of school or work to be able to attend them. It’s not only the pro-choice movement, either. I am also passionate about my veganism. I know no vegans, or even vegetarians, outside of the internet, however, so vegan activism outside of the internet just seems out of the question. Also, abortion is not the only women’s rights issue which is neglected in my area. For example, the only time you hear the word “rape” mentioned in my area is in the context of a joke. Not surprisingly, this leads to me being burned out quite often. It leaves me thinking “Wow, am I fucking useless to this movement?”

Now, I don’t know if I’m alone in my feelings about this or if there are other small town activists out there who feel the same way, but if there are, then I’m writing this for you. It is discouraging to feel outnumbered by anti-choicers and to feel like a lone activist . Not being able to surround yourself with positivity in the wake of anti-choice bullshit totally sucks. I understand that. I refuse, however, to just sit down and call myself useless to the movement. Burn out occurs frequently, but there are things that small town activists can do to help prevent it. For example, you could:

1) Start something

I’m not going to lie, if you live in an uber-conservative area where it seems like you can count the number of pro-choicers on one hand ( I do), this might not work out. But it’s still worth a shot. You can try to organize something in your town or on your campus which will unite the pro-choicers who are in that area. You can raise awareness and possibly help to uncover a new passion for reproductive justice in your area. You can organize a march or a group. If this works out for you, then you will have created a community, and that is absolutely priceless.

2) Just be vocal

Being vocal about your passion for reproductive justice is not always easy, especially in a very conservative area. It was not easy for me to “come out” as an adamant pro-choicer, but when I did, I had no regrets whatsoever. “Coming out” incited a lot of people to also share their opinions on abortion with me, and with that, I got to find out who the pro-choicers are. Yes, my area is so conservative I feel as if I have to take a bath after being in crowded areas, but I found out that there are more pro-choicers out there than I thought. Not only that, but being very vocal about my pro-choice beliefs ended up scaring away a lot of the anti-choicers in my life. So basically, there are more pro-choicers in my life and less antis. It’s a win-win situation.

3) If you can’t build a real-life community, find one online

Sometimes it’s just not easy to construct a positive, loving, pro-choice climate in an area which is very hostile to women and their rights. Even after trying to create one, you may still end up feeling excluded from the movement. This is where the internet comes in handy. The internet does a great job of uniting small town activists like me and big city activists like many of the writers for the Abortion Gang. It would be great to have more of a pro-choice community in real life, but I love the online pro-choice community with all my heart, and I know that I can be open and honest with them. I may be a small town girl, but that does not mean I can’t be apart of the pro-choice movement. I know I belong, and the rest of you small town activists do, too.

Animals and Abortion: Similar Movements?

20 Jul

Hello readers of Abortioneers and Abortion Gang! Welcome to the second installment of our Abortion and Animals series, hosted by Vegan Vagina and ProChoiceGal. You may remember our last post which dealt with how PETA gets things wrong. Today we are blogging about intersections, similarities, and differences between the animal rights movement and anti-abortion movement. We received some good comments in response to our first blog that started to address the tactics used by both movements and we wanted to delve deeper into the issues, so here we go…

Q. Can you give a brief overview of some of the perceived similarities between the animal rights movement and anti abortion movement?

VV: First off, I do want to acknowledge that there exists much diversity within each movement and not everyone uses the same tactics or even has similar philosophies about how to impact change around their issues. However, in regards to the “extreme” members of both movements, in terms of similar tactics I immediately think of the gory images that both groups use. Anti abortion trucks will parade near shopping malls and community events (especially where kids congregate) with alleged fetuses that were aborted plastered across the exterior of their vehicles. These fetuses will be positioned next to dimes for size comparison and they are often portrayed sucking their thumbs or curled up. Animal rights groups often show animals that are mistreated in factory farms and this past year a well-known group, Mercy For Animals, launched a Farm to Ridge Tour where they went city to city showcasing the horrors of factory farming.

Another similarity that I see is coercion; anti abortion groups will convince pregnant women to keep their babies with the alluring promise of baby clothes, financial support, jobs, or housing. Mercy for Animals was offering money for people to watch their footage of factory farms and often does “feed-ins” where they provide vegan food samples.

A final similarity is violence. Many members of both movements feel violence is justified in order to take down leaders at the top. While those who advocate violence are in the minority, their extreme actions can have a huge impact. Abortion clinic workers are murdered, stalked, injured, harassed, etc, or threatened with these things constantly. CEOs who run animal testing facilities and labs are also stalked and threatened, and a common tactic of arson has done millions of dollars of damage to facilities that partake in animal cruelty. A common tactic used by both movements is picketing outside of homes and distributing fliers to neighbors in order to shame those who support abortion or animal cruelty. Members of both movements are tracked on FBI lists and are often labeled as domestic terrorists. I am currently reading a great new book by Will Potter that outlines the history of “eco terrorists” and there are many mentions to the anti abortion movement and how the government tracks crimes against abortion providers differently than eco crimes (I really recommend this book!).

Q. Do you think that gory images are an effective way or converting people, either to veganism or to anti-choice?

PCG: In general, no. There are exceptions, but I believe that gory images and videos, especially when they’re forced upon the public, generally turn people away from both veganism and from the anti-choice movement. Whenever I hear people react to anti-choicers flaunting alleged aborted fetus photos in public, their reactions are always, without exception, angry, annoyed, and all around negative. This holds true for veganism, as well. I believe that one of the worst things that a movement can do for itself is forcing people to look at these kinds of pictures. People just do not react well to it in my experience.

Q. Did gory images or videos influence your decision to become vegan?

PCG: Somewhat. Gory photos and videos would not have given me enough of a push by themselves to convert me to veganism. They were, however, a small part of the big picture. I almost definitely would still be vegan even if I had never seen gory slaughterhouse videos and pictures. The thing is, I didn’t need those pictures and videos to know that animals are sentient beings who are very capable of feeling pain. What I needed to push me to choose veganism were facts. For example, for the longest time, I had no idea that there was so much cruelty involved in the dairy industry. I did not know that it was so closely linked to the veal industry. It was facts like that that got me from saying “I could NEVER give up cheese!” to being the vegan I am today.

VV: I went vegetarian without ever seeing a gory picture, but I will admit that a PETA brochure is what pushed me over the edge to become vegan. The images still gross me out when I see them and I choose to look away, but it’s ok for me to look away because I don’t need convincing. I fear that everyone else looks away and just chooses not to think about the processes involved in where their food comes from, so ultimately the animal rights movement could spend their money in better places that won’t be ignored.

Q. Vegan organizations and anti-choice organizations have both been known for using coercive tactics to convert people to their movement, such as putting up fliers in the neighborhoods of people who oppose them, paying people to watch gory videos, etc. How do you feel about this?

PCG: I disagree with coercive tactics being used to convert people. I consider them not only morally wrong, but also highly ineffective. Putting up fliers in the neighborhoods of “higher ups” in order to shame them is a tactic that both groups have used in the past. I find this behavior awful. To me, it’s stalking behavior. Anti-choicers have been doing this for ages, in order to shame, stalk, and draw attention to abortion providers and their families, and the pro-choice community knows very well that it incites violence. As for paying people to watch gory videos, while I think this is wrong, I actually don’t think this is as bad as just flaunting huge gory pictures outside in public, so that anyone who walks by has no choice but to look. I also don’t see it as an effective way of converting people. Again, gory videos and pictures which are not backed up with facts hardly ever do any good.

VV: I disagree with any group or movement using coercive tactics, specifically money to win people over to their point of view. I also feel it is not a sustainable way to change behavior, because the money will eventually go away and people will go back to their usual ways.

Q. Do you think it’s fair to compare the tactics of animal rights groups to the tactics of anti-choice groups?

PCG: I believe that vegans and anti-choicers are coming from two vastly different belief systems. As far as the message behind the movements, I see absolutely no comparison. Vegans fight for the bodily autonomy of sentient beings while anti-choicers do just the opposite. However, vegans and anti-choicers have both resorted to some of the same tactics. As a vegan, I think that it’s intensely important to recognize the problems that reside within veganism and to take action to fix them. Still, despite these similarities, I don’t think that the problems within vegan activism are nearly as prominent as those in the anti-choice movement. For example, when vegans resort to problematic bullying tactics, it’s targeted towards the “higher ups” in animal abuse. When anti-choicers resort to bullying and stalking tactics, it’s targeted towards absolutely anyone who opposes them. Veganism does have its problems which we need to recognize. I just don’t think that these problems are as extreme as the hatred that goes on within the anti-choice movement.

VV: Obviously since I am vegan my natural tendency is to support most tactics used to convince the entire world to GO VEGAN. Although, I realize it is something people need to come to on their own, without coercion or bribes. However, people often need education on this issue since we are really told nothing about where our food comes from, and sometimes a picture of the reality of what animals goes through does hit home. I do not think this is the same as what anti abortion people do; I think their images are falsified and manipulative and taken out of context.

Thank you for reading the second installment of our series Animals and Abortion! You can look forward to more posts soon, including posts on topics such as vegan birth control, vegan sex toys, and more. Also, your feedback and ideas for future posts are more than welcome! We hope that you enjoyed this installment of Animals and Abortion!

Why YOU Should Be An Abortion Provider

14 Jul

Let’s face it: providing abortions is not the most popular job that a person can choose. Even among the pro-choice medical community, providing abortions is not something that you do; it’s something that you let other people do. I can understand why, too. People don’t generally go to medical school with expectations of being protested, harassed, and threatened when they finish their schooling and get a job. People don’t usually expect to have the simple question of “what is your job?” to sometimes have to be an awkward, nerve wrecking experience. With all of this, some people may wonder why anyone would want to become an abortion provider.

Still, regardless of how many anti-choice laws are passed and how many protests there are, the fact remains that women need abortions. As long as we have pregnancy, we will have abortion. As long as we have abortion, we will need abortion providers in order to keep the abortion process safe. Sadly, the fact is that we don’t have enough abortion providers. In the United States, we have over a million abortions taking place yearly. For all of those patients, we have approximately 1700 abortion providers. Do you see something wrong with this picture? I do.

So how do we solve this problem? Easy! We get more providers! How do we do that? Uh, maybe that’s not so simple. Here’s the truth; it starts with you. To me, one of the basic principles of activism is that, when there’s a problem, you don’t wait for someone else to fix it, or for the problem to fix itself. As activists, we are the repairwomen and the repairmen. We go out and we work our asses off to fix the world’s problems. Providing abortions does not have to be the necessary job that you let other people do. It can be the job that you go out and do yourself.

Obviously, abortion care is not the right career path for all people. However, I believe that one of the main reasons we have so few abortion providers is because so few people ever even consider abortion work as a career path. I don’t blame them. Becoming an abortion provider can seem to be like an “out of the way” kind of thought for most people. My mission today is not to get you to change your major or your career path. My mission today is simply to get people to think about something they may have never considered before: abortion care. A few years ago, every career looked undesireable to me. I had no idea where I was going in life. Then, I considered abortion care, and I found my calling. I decided that I am going to become an abortion provider. Who knows? Maybe this is your calling, too.

Long story short: we don’t just need abortion providers. We need YOU. No one is going to shame you if you decide that providing abortions is not for you; this does not make you a less valuable activist. However, maybe you have it in your heart to become an abortion provider. Maybe it’s simply something you have never considered. If you are one of those people, and particularly if you want to go into medicine, then this might be something to explore. I found my calling; have you found yours?

Animals and Abortion Part 1: How PETA gets it wrong

25 May

Crossposted at The Abortioneers.

Today, I am pleased to announce that we are beginning a new series called Animals and Abortion. I got together with Vegan Vagina from The Abortioneers and, with us both being passionate pro-choicers and passionate vegans, we have decided to do a series of collaboration posts regarding our pro-choice veganism. It may not seem so at first glance, but veganism and reproductive justice do have quite a few similarities. I was thrilled to come across another pro-choice vegan activist, and I am excited to explore the ties that veganism and reproductive justice have with one another along with Vegan Vagina.

Vegan Vagina is passionate about veganism, abortion, and running marathons. During the day she does public health research and at night she is a volunteer host for women who travel to her city for abortions. In other words, she is one amazing activist and I am thrilled to have her as a co-blogger on the Abortion Gang.

I am sure some of you might be wondering what kind of connections and intersections exist between animal welfare and reproductive rights movements? I think because I am so deeply involved in both of these issues the parallels are very apparent. One of the biggest examples that comes to mind is PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and they will be the focus of our first blog in this series.

PETA is an animal welfare organization which has caused a stir in the feminist community more than once. They have been accused of everything from racism, to sexism, to fatphobia, to transphobia. It goes without saying that PETA is controversial. Today, we are going to address some of these issues in the form of a Q and A.

Q. PETA has been known forusing women’s nude or near-nude bodies to get their message across about the evils of fur. Do you ever feel like they are justified in their tactics? Is this a case of the ends justifying the means?

PCG: In PETA’s fight to get people thinking about animal welfare issues, one of their main “weapons” that they have used has been sex. Sadly, I think they’re missing the point. In many of their advertising campaigns, they have reduced women down to things as opposed to living, sentient being who deserve respect. PETA seems to forget that humans are animals, too. When you ignore human rights and human welfare, you are inevitably ignoring aspects of animal rights and welfare, as well. In short, no, I don’t believe that PETA is justified in doing this.

VV: No, I do not think they are ever justified in their tactics. Essentially, PETA uses sensationalism and a shock factor to get attention. They exploit women and reduce them to “meat”, which seems a bit hypocritical. I love animals and live a very intentional life in order to protect as many as I can, but there have to be more creative ways to bring attention to animal welfare than exploiting women and their bodies. The ad campaign using naked women’s bodies renders these women silent and voiceless, which puts them in the same situation as voiceless animals who are also exploited to turn a profit.

Q. PETA has a brief section on their website where they address abortion. Here is what they write:

PETA does not have a position on the abortion issue, because our focus as an organization is the alleviation of the suffering inflicted on nonhuman animals. There are people on both sides of the abortion issue in the animal rights movement, just as there are people on both sides of animal rights issues in the pro-life movement. And just as the pro-life movement has no official position on animal rights, neither does the animal rights movement have an official position on abortion.

What do you think about this statement?

PCG: I understand why PETA wouldn’t want to take a direct stance on abortion; it would alienate a good portion of their supporters. However, I do believe that it is important for vegans to recognize that, again, human rights are essential to animal rights and animal welfare. A huge part of veganism is about respecting sentient beings and their bodily autonomy. Vegans should respect that for all animals, and that means being pro-choice. Still, I do understand why PETA would not take an official stance on abortion.

VV: I find it interesting that this even comes up on their website. I am curious what prompted them to make an official stance on this, and I suspect it may be that anti- abortion groups tried to align themselves with PETA to show their support for all forms of life and then PETA needed to respond that they are neutral. Ok, so first off, PETA’s statement is annoying because they use the term “pro-life”. I also strongly agree with PCG that PETA claims to respect bodily autonomy of all sentient beings, yet they do not show this respect for women. I think their neutral stance is one more example of them trying to please as many as possible in order to achieve their end goal, yet in the process they have alienated many feminists.

Q. In response to Dr. George Tiller’s assassination, PETA proposed these ads in Wichita, KS. What are your thoughts on this campaign?

PCG: The ads themselves are not so bad, in my opinion. The fact that they were a response to Dr. Tiller’s assassination, however, absolutely disgusts me. I feel as if they exploited such a tragic event in order to further their own cause. It was, at best, inappropriate and at worst, downright hateful.

VV: As a Jew I was thoroughly disgusted when they previously exploited the Holocaust in their ads. Well, just in case I thought PETA couldn’t piss me off any more, they did with their ads in response to Dr. George Tiller’s assassination. I want to know who thought up these ads and why they ever thought these would be appropriate. I keep stressing how they think their ends justify their means, but this was insensitive on so many levels. These sorts of radical ad campaigns give vegans and animal welfare organizations a bad name.

Q. Considering all of this, do you believe that feminist vegans (or just vegans in general) should withdraw support for PETA?

PCG: I do believe that we should withdraw support for PETA. PETA has, time and time again, promoted all kinds of bigotry without apology. I believe that we should show them that, if they’re okay with promoting bigotry, then we are okay with ditching them and supporting vegan organizations which do not do so.

VV: I am mixed on this. I know I was pretty negative about PETA in my answers, but there are some parts of their organization I respect and support. Personally, it was a PETA pamphlet that got me to switch from vegetarian to vegan almost two years ago. Unfortunately, they are one of the best-funded vegan organizations so they can dictate and control what gets out in the media about the movement. They also make the news a lot! In fact, they often create ads they know will not make it into actual media just so they can get news attention about an ad that was too radical/racy/offensive to be on TV.

For me, I don’t give them any donations and I don’t direct people to them if they are thinking of going vegan. I would love for them to exist but in a much more feminist and non-sensationalizing way, but maybe I’m just too much of an idealist.

Thanks for reading and please let us know your thoughts about our first co-blog! You can look forward to future posts from Vegan Vagina and ProChoiceGal on topics such as factory farm footage Vs. fetus posters, vegan birth control methods, and vegan sex toys! We would also love to hear your ideas for future posts.


Review of Silent Choices: Black Women and Abortion

20 May

The other day, I watched (and enjoyed) a documentary called Silent Choices. Silent Choices is about abortion and other reproductive justice issues in the black community. The idea itself is wonderful; black women’s experiences are often ignored in the mainstream media and pro-choice movement itself. This documentary uplifts black women’s voices, which is a wonderful change from the typically white-dominated talk about abortion.

This documentary  succeeds in showcasing black women’s abortion related stories. Too often, attempts to discuss the issues of marginalized groups end up as people speaking over these groups, as opposed to people allying with them. This is not one of those documentaries. The makers of Silent Choices let black women speak for themselves; for once, black women’s voices were uplifted, not trampled over.

Every woman in this documentary had a touching story to tell, but one woman’s story in particular really touched me. Angela shared her pre-Roe illegal, back alley abortion story. She was afraid to tell her mother because she had five kids, loved kids, and would probably forbid the abortion, but after thinking about it, Angela says that her mother “may have done the same,” recognizing that all types of women need and use abortion. Angela attempted to abort her pregnancy twice. The first time, the person who attempted the abortion on her simply gave her a shot and then punched her in the stomach. After this failed attempt, she went to someone else. She describes this back-alley clinic as “factory-like” and she says that the provider was mean to her. She says, “it wasn’t like you could call somebody and take your choice of a good clinic. You had to find somebody underground, you had to find somebody who did this stuff.” Angela is not alone in her experience. People of color are disproportionately affected by poverty, and therefore are disproportionately affected by restrictive anti-choice laws. A white woman is far more likely to be able to afford to travel, to take more days off of work, or to pay more in order to obtain a safe abortion. Angela, along with many other women, did not have those options. The more restrictions we put on abortion, the more stories like Angela we have. Reproductive justice is not simply an issue of sexism; it is also an issue of racism and classism.

One aspect of this documentary that disappointed me was how much air time was given to anti-choicers, particularly one male anti-choicer. At some point in the documentary, it went from being a film that uplifted black women’s voices to typical anti-choice babble that went without rebuttal. I’m not going to lie; I kind of nodded off while listening to the anti-choicers talk.

The documentary ended off with a montage of responses to this statement, made by an anti-choicer: “Abortion is a white woman’s issue.” I found it refreshing to see pro-choicers rebuking this ridiculous statement. Overall, I thought this documentary did a great job at uplifting black women’s voices and illustrating how abortion and other reproductive rights issues affect the black community. This film is easily worth the five dollars being asked for it; I recommend it.

Pre-Abortion Provider Stigma

11 May

For those of you who don’t already know me, I’m a pre-med student working towards getting into the health care field as an abortion provider. In high school, I shocked all of my friends and family (and still am shocking them) by announcing that I chose not to be a music major and am going into health care instead. After getting over that initial shock, it seemed that everyone was outspoken about their opinion of what I should do with my life except for me. My dad wanted me to be an ultrasound technician. My mom wanted me to go back to music. My private violin teacher wanted me to be a cardiac surgeon. One of my professors even tried to convince me to become a plastic surgeon. Is someone’s voice missing from this conversation? Uh, yeah: MINE!

With so many strong opinions out there about what I should do with my life and with so much stigma surrounding my future profession, it’s sometimes difficult to get my voice out there and “come out” as a future abortion provider. I admit, sometimes I toy with the idea of going back to music; no one heckles you for saying “I am a violinist”. It’s never intimidating for me to tell someone that I play the violin. No violinists have been stalked or murdered just for being violinists. Abortion providers, sadly, do have to deal with these things. A lot of abortion providers have a hard time “coming out”, even to their family and friends, for fear of the stigma surrounding abortion care and being treated badly for their work. Even though I’m not an abortion provider yet, I have experienced some of the same things. I live in an area that is plagued by anti-choicers, so I am somewhat alone in my passion for women’s rights. When I “come out” to someone as a future abortion provider, I have no idea what kind of reaction I’ll get. Usually people just avoid me after I tell them (hey, I’m okay with that. Who wants to be friends with an anti, anyway?) I’ve gotten people who try to start arguments with me. I had one friend who responded by saying “Oh my god, really? That’s so awesome!” The wide range of reactions can be intimidating; you never know what you’re going to get when you tell someone of your plans for your life when those plans involve providing abortion.

Continue reading

The Truth About Fetal Pain Laws

22 Mar

Let me set something straight about anti-choice laws; they are never what they seem. It is never about getting minors to talk to their parents, ensuring that women make choices that they don’t regret, or ensuring that a fetus doesn’t feel pain during the procedure. One restriction leads to another, and their goals are always the same: to restrict women’s freedom.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard of so-called “fetal pain” laws. This is something that anti-choicers try to pull all the time. They try to make it seem as if they just want to make sure that the fetus isn’t being hurt by its evil, careless mother (while, of course, ignoring the fact that forcing women to give birth to fetuses that have deformities often results in more pain, both for the fetus and the woman). In reality, making the cut off point for abortions earlier has nothing to do with concern for what the fetus may or may not go through during the procedure. Restrictions on third trimester abortions lead to restrictions on second trimester abortions. Restrictions on second trimester abortions lead to restrictions on first trimester abortions. Restrictions on first trimester abortions leads to no more abortion rights for women, and that’s when anti-choicers will begin to attack our other rights, particularly our right our sexuality and to birth control. This is only one reason why we can’t use later term abortions as a bargaining chip.

Continue reading

Remembering Women in the Politics of Abortion

24 Feb

There are so many reasons why I am pro-choice that it would probably be impossible to list them all. I can, however, summarize these reasons fairly easily; it’s for women. Women need abortion. Some need it to stay alive. Others need it to maintain their happiness and health. If I were to get pregnant, I’d need abortion to help me stay in school and reach the goals that I have in life. There are many reasons why society needs abortion, but when you break it down it is fairly simple. It’s for women’s lives, women’s liberty, and women’s rights. Ask me any question about my pro-choice beliefs and my answer will come back to it being about women. In fact, you won’t hear me talk about the fetus much at all.

The abortion debate, however, revolves around the fetus. The questions asked about abortion include “does the fetus feel pain? Is the fetus alive? Is the fetus a person? Does the fetus deserve rights?” and women, despite being the ones most directly affected by pregnancy and abortion, are completely forgotten. If you take all of these questions and replace “fetus” with “women” then you get very clear answers; yes, women feel pain. Yes, women are alive. Yes, women are people, and yes, women deserve rights. However, despite the conspicuity of these questions, we fail to implement these basic ideas in real life. In our minds, we (well, most of us) recognize that women are persons deserving of equal rights. In our actions and debates, however, we ignore this fact and act like it isn’t true. We always come back to the fetus, while neglecting the woman involved.

Continue reading