Helping: You’re Doin’ It Wrong

The article making it’s way around Facebook today brings to light two important issues: First, the Catholic Church is a haven of hypocrisy that doesn’t actually give any flying fucks about the sanctity of life or the plight of the disadvantaged (duh); secondly, women are just like dogs that need to be spayed so they can’t multiply. Oh, don’t forgot how EASY it is to get into rehab facilities! There’s no access or overcrowding problem at all, women just refuse to utilize them!

This sounds so hyperbolic, I know. But really, there just isn’t any need for hyperbole when it comes to the organization that calls itself “Project Prevention”, a non-profit that pays addicts cash for undergoing sterilization or IUD insertion. Their website bends over backwards to paint themselves in an altruistic and benevolent light in order to sugarcoat the very questionable ethics of their ‘work’; they resist the accusations of modern-day eugenics. Yet, not only do their Facebook updates nastily hint at their disgust for the “druggies” they prey on – or, as I like to refer to them, drug-addicted systemically disadvantaged human beings existing below the poverty level that our society loves to vilify, but mainly just HUMAN BEINGS – founder Barbara Harris wants to make it very clear that she is not even remotely concerned about the women she bribes (11:14 in). She even goes so far in defending her bribery as to propagate the favorite conservative myth that these women already have access to free contraception but just refuse to utilize it. This is not and has never been the case in the United States. Some people in some areas can find free birth control, yes – not only is it NOT available in most areas, when it is available it’s mostly in the form of The Pill; not the IUD or tubal ligation, which are the only two options Barbara deems appropriate for those nasty crack smokin’ whores.

She also insists that a huge number of drug addicted women have “litters” of babies (Get it? The ‘bitches’ have litters! Haha?) despite the fact that 1. Women who use drugs, statistically speaking overall, have about the same amount of children as women who do not, and 2. These women are not birthing 3-12 babies at a time, as the word “litter” would imply.

When Barbara’s inflated and misleading anecdotal ‘evidence’ is called out, she appears not to even understand or comprehend the fact that her rhetoric is harmfully overblown and ignorant. Well, actually, I suppose that’s a bit unfair… she may indeed understand, but her ideology of addicts being nothing more than trash with no human worth whatsoever will not allow her to admit it. She appears to hold great disdain for science in general, repeatedly brushing off statistical research and medical studies as unworthy of even a moments consideration. (With that attitude, it should come as no surprise that her group is being supported and funded by the right wing, specifically Richard Mellon Scaife, a millionaire donor to conservative causes.) No, she’d rather continue waving cash under the noses of diseased individuals, who – depending on their current fix or lack of one on that particular day – are more often than not incapable of making fully informed decisions about their future. Throw cash at ’em, send them off to buy MORE DRUGS, who cares if they go off and overdose and die! They’re just incubators for the BBZ, after all. Right?

Look. Infants that experience side effects due to prenatal exposure to toxins of any kind? It is heartbreaking. My stomach is twisted into knots just thinking about it. It’s cruel, it’s unnecessary, and I don’t begrudge anyone who is upset at this occurrence. It is the very definition of upsetting! Children are to be protected, yes! But. Babies in withdrawal? This is not some epidemic as Project Prevention would have you believe. The “crack baby” myth was (and still is) an incredibly overblown media scare tactic with racist undertones. We don’t see nearly as much publicity and panic about the use of tobacco and/or alcohol use during gestation, despite the fact that these two substances are actually more likely to negatively impact fetal development. It’s discouraged and judged, for sure – we love dragging pregnant women through the mud for everything from drinking coffee to eating lunch meat – but not nearly to the same extent. Where are all the sensational headlines and the panicked white journalists? Where’s the rabid media frenzy? What is the difference between these two substances and crack, when it comes to pregnant users? Statistically speaking, the amount of women smoking cigarettes during pregnancy is double that of women who use crack. But crack users are more likely to be women of color – making an easy scapegoat for race-baiting assholes to continue the narrative of black women as “jezebels”, “savages”, as mere animals who are just plain “inferior”… despite the fact that white women were found more likely overall to abuse substances during their pregnancy. But eh, Barbara isn’t really interested in any of this. It would interfere with her tiny little black and white world view, and we can’t have that!

Watching her defend this organization, you can almost see the internalized misogyny dripping from her every word. I’d pity her, if the only person she was hurting was herself. But she is voluntarily participating in and encouraging a mythical societal narrative that frames every woman who has ever struggled with addiction, especially moms, as street trash.

This is not the answer. I am all for sterilization and long term birth control for women (and men!) who wish to utilize it – I adamantly believe that all forms of birth control should be freely available on demand. I’m a strong supporter of universal healthcare, period. I am absolutely revolted that an entire program exists to bribe people into these (sometimes permanent) decisions when this time and money could – SHOULD – be spent on increasing access and funding for treatment. Recovery IS possible. Addicts, in general, are NOT some lost cause. They’re still fucking human beings; they’re someone’s child, sister, cousin and yes, sometimes they are even someone’s mother.

Barbara likes to insist, when criticized, that the women she bribes aren’t interested in getting clean. She likes to insist that most aren’t interested in any treatment at all and that they even turn down offers made to them by the hospitals they birth in, over and over. As if there are empty rehab facilities just around the block, and hospital staff simply isn’t able to convince these women to check in. Bullshit. These facilities are always full. There’s almost always a waiting list, sometimes the wait is even longer than a year. In the majority of addictions, professional guidance is imperative to getting clean. This country simply, literally, does not have enough clinics and professionals to go around. Maybe we can work on that, instead?

Now, that’s an objective I could get behind.

Please support National Advocates For Pregnant Women in their mission to combat harmful stereotypes about addicts who are mothers, as well as protecting the human rights of all pregnant women, no matter their circumstance.


Millions of American Women Do Not Regret Their Abortions: You Cannot Erase Us

Normally, I just delete the trolly comments that come my way. Today, though, I received a pretty fantastic comment from one Jacqueline Dorman:

Have you ever had an abortion personally? It’s a horrible experience. I have worked with post abortive women for 10 years and they are physically, mentally and emotionally scarred by their “choice”. I’m not so much pro-life as I am pro-woman and I see them after they make their “choice” and 90% of them regret it and wish they would have known how it was going to affect them physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.. Every time they hear a baby cry, when their projected due date rolls around every year, when they become pregnant with a “wanted” child. A majority of them suffer from PTSD…you may only see them before the abortion and I can tell you the aftermath is very tragic. You seem to really care about women and I really encourage you to talk to some post abortive women 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years later and see what they have to say now. Let’s push contraception as much as we can because abortion is a choice that no woman should ever have to make.

[Emphasis mine.]

Jacqueline is probably oblivious to the fact that she is making a wonderful argument in favor of increasing Pro-Choice activism. The fact that many people actually wholeheartedly believe that most women who seek an abortion will suffer great psychological harm should serve as a reminder to those of us on this side who support women’s choices; that is, why projects such as My Abortion, My Life are so incredibly vital to preserving our right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason we deem sufficient. The majority of women who speak publicly of their abortion are indeed the women who have decided they regret their choice. Those of us who do not have regrets – the real majority – are very rarely ‘out’ about it, which paves the road for the anti-choice movement to exploit regretful women and erase all the rest. Leading people like Jacqueline to emphatically state with such confidence that of the approximately 50 million  women who have sought legal abortion(s) since 1973, 45 million of them do or will regret their decision.

This is, to put it gently, a vastly flawed conclusion to draw; especially so when you take into account the numerous neutral medical organizations that have long ago debunked this myth.

Says the American Psychological Association:

The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy. […] Across studies, prior mental health emerged as the strongest predictor of postabortion mental health. Many of these same factors also predict negative psychological reactions to other types of stressful life events, including childbirth, and, hence, are not uniquely predictive of psychological responses following abortion.

Interestingly, the APA identifies “Perceptions of stigma” as one of the primary reasons a post-abortive woman may experience negative feelings after her procedure. (See: rabidly angry old men waving fake fetus posters from the sidewalk – I mean, “sidewalk counselors”.) Quoting from the 2009 APA study, “The claim that observed associations between abortion history and a mental health problem are caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors, is not supported by the existing evidence.”

The American Medical Association has reached the same conclusion, and the Guttmacher Institute also has a vast array of sources discrediting this so-called “Post Abortion Syndrome”. Yet, the idea persists.

One of the reasons this myth is so disingenuous and malicious is the fact that women who carry to term are at risk of experiencing harmful mental health conditions such as postpartum depression (PPD). The Center For Disease Control recently found that “According to a recent CDC survey, 11% to 18% of women reported having frequent postpartum depressive symptoms.” So, why do the anti-choicers believe that the silly wommenz need to be protected from only one of their three pregnancy options because it might make them all sad and stuff, but they’re not the least bit concerned with women who actually carry to term only to experience anything from mild depression to actual psychosis? Why aren’t they out there warning women at fertility clinics of the risks of PPD? Or placenta previa? Gestational diabetes? Pre enclampsia? Even death?

The notion that the other side is only “concerned” for the health of women and children falls to pieces after a mere minute of close examination. It’s almost boringly easy to debunk their falsehoods and scare tactics. If their cause was so just, they wouldn’t feel the need to fabricate reasons for supporting it.

Now, my personal response to Jacqueline, which will from here on out be a universal reply to any troll who wanders over to this space to parrot harmful myths:

Dear Anti,

Don’t presume to speak for all women who have chosen abortion – in fact, don’t ever presume to speak for all women, period. Studies – actual, verified, peer reviewed studies – have proven that the most common emotion after an abortion is relief. Women who regret their abortions are a minority. The same cannot be said for women who are pressured, baited and outright lied to by assholes feeding them long ago debunked myths about abortion causing breast cancer, infertility, etc. (nope, not at all, not even a little bit true.), women that carry to term ONLY because they’re scared shitless of abortion, who end up giving the baby they spent fourty weeks of hard labor creating to strangers; strangers who have absolutely zero legal liability to honor ANY aspect of the adoption agreement they worked out with the birth mother.

I suppose you’d rather we return to the good ol’ days when the only options were: parenting a child that was never wanted; seeking an illegal and sometimes deadly abortion; or being hidden away in secret during pregnancy only to have their child taken from them without informed consent and spend the rest of their lives wondering where their child is and how they are doing.

While it is actually TRUE that more women regret adoption than those who regret abortion, unlike you, I advocate for a woman to have a choice, period. Adoption, abortion, parenting – there is no right or wrong choice. Only the women who owns that particular uterus and the contents therein deserves to decide what is right or moral. Not you, and certainly not I.

Which is why the clinic that I volunteer for not only offers abortion, but birth control and pregnancy tests, too; we also work directly with one particular adoption agency that has established itself as a strong advocate for the birth mother and who will inform her of all the legalities of an open or closed adoption, and minimize the chances of regret by giving her the love and support she needs through that process.

Normally, I wouldn’t have taken the time to respond to someone so clearly misinformed – at least, I assume you’re simply misinformed, as I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt here! – but you’re a little different than the usual anti-choice comment er in that you actually support contraceptive use to prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place. So I sure do hope you are investing volunteer time and money in Planned Parenthood, who’ve done more to prevent abortions in this country than ALL so-called “Pro-Life” organizations put together, as they object to contraceptive use entirely.

I have, indeed, had an abortion. Relief was, indeed, the strongest feeling afterwards. I’d rather kill a hundred non-sentient embryos than bring an unwanted child into this world – and NO, adoption was not an option for me. I’ll be damned if I risk health and my very life to create a new person with absolutely no payoff to myself. I can see you spitting “selfish!!” at your screen, and it’s ok. I make no apologies for placing value of myself above that of a zygote, embryo or even fetus when science has proven these life forms can not possibly even BEGIN to be self aware, or feel any pain, before the cerebral cortex is developed enough to receive those signals. It is biologically impossible. I, however, am an actual sentient person who can feel. Pain, love, joy, sadness, and everything else imaginable. I am worth more than coat hangers, rapey back alley (fake) “doctors”, worth more than mere chattel.

I have, indeed, spent time with many women before and after their abortions. That includes patients, of course; but it also includes my friends. One friend just had an abortion a few months ago. She is done raising children, and was not about to start all over again just because the asshole she slept with slipped the condom off. Thankfully, there was somewhere safe for her to go. Another friend had one back in 2003, and has experienced absolutely no regret. Thankfully, she, too had somewhere safe to go. And I have many more stories where that came from.

I don’t doubt that there are women who regret their abortions. However, I will not stand for the amount of these women being completely exaggerated and inflated on my site. You’d sound a lot more reasonable if you just presented the facts, and shared how exactly YOU plan to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies in order to prevent the need for abortion. (Again, see Planned Parenthood.)

Women AND men make major life decisions and later regret it. This is called living life. People regret having children too young, they regret trusting an open adoption only to be burned by adoptive parents who cut off contact despite promises not to, they regret marrying the ‘wrong’ person and having to endure divorce, they regret smoking too many cigarettes and making their teeth yellow, they regret choosing adoption at all even if the adoptive parents do keep their agreement, they regret their major in college, they regret ever having children at all. The idea that the possibility of regret is a reason to paint something as bad, horrible awful always always wrong for EVERY ONE NO MATTER WHAT OMGWTFBBQ is therefore an invalid argument. If we as a society followed this line of thinking to it’s logical conclusion, there would be nothing left for anyone to regret.

The Danger Of Being a Woman With An Elephant In Your Uterus

Since January of 2011, there has been an onslaught of anti-choice laws introduced to the House and Senate that have become more and more extreme as the year progressed. We’ve seen a fetus testify in the Ohio House, to sway the public that all abortions performed after six weeks should be illegal with no exceptions. We’ve watched our governor sign a sweeping law that could make abortions after 20 weeks illegal (instead of the previously generally agreed upon point of possible viability at 24 weeks) only now without adequate protection for life and health of the woman. We’ve watched our elected officials who campaigned under the guise of “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” not only seemingly forget that an unacceptable number of us are still out of work, but that being out of work usually means it’s a bad idea to have (more) children. They want to to cut off funding for our birth control, and then turn around and make it impossible for us to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

These atrocities are sliding by relatively easily while the public is in an uproar over SB5, the bill attacking our workers rights and HB194, the voter suppression bill passed under the guise of ‘ensuring things are fair’. While these issues absolutely deserve our outrage (I myself am currently collecting petition signatures to repeal HB194) so do the attacks on our reproductive rights. The more distracted we get, the easier it is for the Conservatives to get ‘wins’ in their chosen corner of social issue warfare. And the more emboldened their misogynist supporters become, the closer we get to waking up one day to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Meet The Personhood Amendment, a lovely gift to Ohio from Personhood USA – a group of extremists from Colorado who just don’t know when to quit. As I refuse to link directly to the petition itself, you may read the language by googling “Personhood Ohio”. Go on. I’ll wait.

Please note the line:

The proposed law would not 1. Affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing fertilization or the creation of a new human being

What does this translate to, realistically? Condoms. If something this broad were ever passed, the only birth control method legally accessible to women would be barrier methods. If you’ve ever spoken to one of these people, you know that this is their favorite scary, scary thing to say: that because hormonal methods affect a woman’s uterine lining, they may sometimes prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting into the uterine wall, causing it to be flushed out in the menstrual cycle… thereby “murdering an unborn child”. Putting aside the absurdity of equating a fertilized egg with an actual child, the best part about this is that it cannot be definitively proven one way or the other. There is no way to determine whether an egg has been fertilized until approximately two to three weeks after the sex in question has occurred, after the egg is already firmly attached to the uterine wall. This is when your body will begin to produce enough of the the hormone called hCG, or human chorionic gonadotrophin, to be detected by a pregnancy test. Until this hormone can be detected, no pregnancy is considered to have occurred. Not by the medical community, or… well, not by any actual, logical people.

In short, the Antis want to abolish our legal access to birth control based on a hunch. A hunch which would, upon closer examination, actually make (their) God the biggest “abortionist” of all time: an untold number of fertilized eggs are naturally flushed out of the uterus through the menstrual cycle with no intervention from the woman whatsoever. This is often referred to as a Chemical Pregnancy, as a woman wouldn’t even know that an egg was ever fertilized. I wonder if the people behind the Personhood Amendment believe we should have our used tampons checked for fertilized eggs each month to determine whether an “unborn child” has sadly met it’s end?

This is nothing new. Most of us involved in the Pro-Choice community are aware that anti-choicers are not out to “save the babyz!” from abortions, but are in reality set on revoking women’s sexual freedom altogether. They do not want to prevent unwanted pregnancies – they want every (hetero) women who chooses to have sex “suffer the consequences”, the fate of unwanted children be damned. But the American public has long allowed these people to hide under the guise of the “Pro-Life” label. Many who are not involved in reproductive rights activism have no idea that birth control is, and has been from the start, under attack. I think that is both a failure of the beltway media – who pander to the other side as if advocating laws that actively cause harm and sometimes death to those they purport to be concerned about is a perfectly justifiable stance to take while jumping around waving “Pro-Life” banners – and the Pro-Choice movement’s hesitance to be bolder.

Never have I have seen a mainstream reporter say “Sir, what do you propose we do when abortion becomes illegal and women are dying in hospitals all over the country from septic poisoning?” or “Why does your organization oppose birth control methods that could prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place? How do you think sexually active women should prevent having a child?” This just doesn’t happen. If it did, their views that women should just plain Not Fuck, ever, unless it’s for the purpose of procreation would come to light. I imagine a lot of people would be pretty shocked to know this.

It’s left to us to pick up this slack. We are the majority, yet we aren’t nearly as vocal as the Antis are. Because of this, we have legislators in office passing bills such as the aforementioned “Heartbeat Bill”. Bills like this, as well as the “Personhood Amendment” if it were ever to become an actual amendment, are constitutionally unsound. They will most likely be defeated in our courts, after the state wastes an untold amount of money. That’s the best-case scenario. The flip-side, though, is that one of these draconian proposals may end up making it all the way to the Federal Supreme Court. This is exactly their intention. A challenge to Roe v. Wade. Finally, the opportunity they’ve been waiting for – an opportunity to revoke our right NOT to bear children.

We have to get louder. We have to get angrier. We have to take the label of “Pro-Life” and claim it for ourselves; we have to stop the meek pleas of finding a “middle ground” with the opposition. Pro-Choice IS the middle ground. Think abortion is “murder”? Don’t have one. Think birth control is abortion, despite the undeniable medical and scientific evidence otherwise? Don’t use it. I will choose MY own morality, and you’re free to stick your head in the sand when choosing yours. So be it.

Make no mistake – if we continue on this weak path of vague Pro-Choicey-ness, this “Safe, but rare!”, this “Nobody is pro-abortion!” spineless rhetoric, we will continue to see politicians run successful campaigns under the guise of “Saving the Babys!” and we will watch women die from illegal procedures.

We also have to get positive. By this, I mean that we have to remember to acknowledge our state representives when they do something right. Picking up the phone or writing a letter to thank them is just as important as writing to express our dissatisfaction with them.

With that, I leave you with the perfect way to get started in being more vocal. You didn’t think I’d let you get off with just reading this blog post, did you? You can write a personalized message to the following Representatives*, or use the letter that I sent below. Then, you can sign the petition that calls on all members of the Ohio Legislature to pass the Prevention First Act.

You can email (and call!) a Representative here.

To: Rep. Nickie Antonio, Rep. Robert Hagan, Rep. Connie Pillich, Rep. Clayton Luckie, Rep. Kathleen Clyde

Thank you for your recent statements in objection to HB 125, “The Heartbeat Bill”. Ohio’s families are already suffering in the current economic environment, and the last thing we need is Government accompanying us into our doctor’s office.

I am honored to have you as my Representative, and hope that you will continue to serve the best interest of Ohio’s families by fighting to get the Prevention First Act passed into law so that we can make better family planning decisions and protect those in need of help, such as sexual assault victims, instead of denigrating them as other members of the House and Senate seem determined to do.

Thank you,

Your Name (and city of residence)

* Why do these particular Representatives need to be thanked?

Rep. Connie Pillich: “No exception for rape? For incest? For mental health? This is cruel! Where’s the prevention?”

Rep. Clayton Luckie: “I rise today to wonder why this bill is on the floor. We should be here to discuss pregnancy prevention.”

Rep. Kathleen Clyde: “This bill is anti-woman, out of touch, overreaching, and unconstitutional.”

Rep. Bob Hagan: “Look around, women, and see that you’re surrounded by men who are making decisions about your body.”

Rep. Nickie Antonio: “The Ohio legislature should not be practicing medicine without a license.”