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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"Gendercide" in the US...what a crock!

"Gendercide," or sex selective abortion is in the news right now because of a ridiculous "sting video" from the anti-choice group Live Action.  It should be noted that they were so heavy-handed with their intent that Planned Parenthood knew what they were doing before this video was released.



From this video, we should draw the conclusion that sex-selective abortion is a problem in our country, that males are clearly favored in our society, even as babies, and that obtaining a sex-selective abortion would be an easy matter.  None of these things are true, by the way.

First of all, gender selective abortion is a problem in places like India and China.  In fact, it is illegal to find out the gender via ultrasound in India and China, although those with money seem to be able to find the right facilities to do it anyway.  The natural birth rates favor males, with 101-105 males born for every 100 females.  So, any deviation from this should indicate human intervention or possibly a severe problem with one gender or the other in a culture or nation.  China's birth ratio is estimated to be 116-120 males for every 100 females, and India's birth ratio is reported to be 830-914 girls for every 1,000 boys.  After a few simple calculations, that makes their ratio 109-120 males for every 100 females.  This is what a country's birth ratio looks like when sex-selective abortion is a problem.

I have to admit, though, that I do not think sex-selective abortion should be illegal in these countries.  Why?  Because sex-selective abortion prevents gender-based infanticide and abandonment of children of the unwanted gender!  Of course, infanticide is illegal in both countries, but that does not stop some desperate people from doing what they feel their culture is encouraging them to do.  Newborns are so delicate, that suffocating one without leaving any evidence is incredibly easy, and no one would be the wiser if the mother simply reported that the baby had been stillborn or died shortly after of unknown causes or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS.)

The method of getting the male a poor family so desires is not in sex-selective abortion, which is illegal and therefore prohibitively expensive for them.  So, the unethical poor family commits female infanticide, while the ethical one simply keeps having children until the one they want is finally born.  So, making sex-selective abortion illegal is contributing to overpopulation, as well.

I think it's obvious that these difficult-to-enforce laws are not making women any more valued in these cultures.  Cultural change must come about in order to make women as valued as men, and these well-intentioned laws aren't going to change that.  I think that these countries need to suffer the consequences of an unbalanced society for a generation or so, before this swing to equality and appreciation for women will happen.  Clearly the disparity in gender ratio is already in place, now I think it's time to let the chips fall where they may.  If men have to compete for a small pool of women, perhaps they will start to value them.  At least we can expect overpopulation to be less of a problem, since there will be so many men unable to find a mate.

So, now that I've illustrated what a problem with sex-selective abortion looks like, here is why we do not have one in the US: our birth ratio is 104.7 males per 100 females. There is no reason to believe that the people of the United States need to intervene on abortions on the basis of gender.

Furthermore, the Live Action people who made that video are morons.  If they had done their research, they would realize that baby girls are more highly prized than baby boys in the US and the UK today.  In fact, this was highlighted in the documentary "Eight Boys and Wanting a Girl."  This information is based on a sex-selective IVF procedure called PGD, or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.  It was originally pioneered to predetermine which embryos were carriers of genetic disorders or abnormalities, but doctors quickly realized that this was the first non-abortive procedure that could virtually guarantee the gender of a baby.  It's been used for this purpose ever since, and couples come from all over the globe to balance their families, since sex-selective PGD is illegal in many countries including the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Norway, India and China, just to name a few.

This brings up an interesting point: if we're so worried about sex-selective abortion, why are we not pushing for insurance to cover gender-selective PGD?  And why are we not pushing to decriminalize the practice in other countries?

In the US, more baby girls are requested than baby boys in fertility treatments.  Did you also know that most people seeking to select for gender are not simply choosing to have a family of all girls or all boys?  No, according to Dr. Daniel Potter, a fertility doctor who specializes in PGD for gender selection, the majority want the opposite gender of the one they already have in order to balance their family.  There is an unspoken bias in this country against single-gender families, and the desperation of women wanting to have a daughter to relate to, or men wanting a son to pass his traditions on to should not be swept under the rug.  By the way, the actress in the video above claimed to be wanting a boy because she already had a girl.

Sex-selective abortion is quickly becoming another method for the anti-choice movement to unnecessarily restrict abortion access. Arizona has already made it illegal, and other states are looking to ban it, as well.  It is estimated that 77% of the US population supports a ban on sex-selective abortion, a  ban which is certainly an answer in search of a problem.  This ban is destructive because it chips away at our already-crumbling right to choose.  Furthermore, making this ban enforceable would be a terrible encroachment on prenatal care in this country and a disservice to doctors.  It would also make inroads to making it illegal to abort for gender-specific abnormalities and disorders.

Some of these bans are worded in such a way that the onus is on the doctor to determine whether an abortion is being performed for sex-selective purposes.  So, if a doctor doesn't adequately grill their already desperate and anxious patient, they can then be fined and/or subject to criminal charges?  What about women who are aborting because they've found out they are carrying a child with an X-linked disorder such as Hunter's syndrome or hemophilia?  They certainly would not be aborting if the child were a girl (because the baby could not possibly have the disease,) so is this a sex-selective abortion?

This is ridiculous ban is also totally unenforceable as it stands.  A woman can find out the gender at an 11 week chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and then when she goes in for an abortion claim that it's because she just doesn't want the pregnancy.  As long as she doesn't mention gender, no one would be the wiser.  So are we now going to ban any test that might reveal the gender of the fetus?  That would be a measure punishing the majority (since most women now find out the gender of their fetuses during routine ultrasounds) of the population for an unnecessary ban on a practice that is not known to occur in this country.  Sounds a little extreme to me!

Sex selective abortions would be, for the vast majority of the population, a second trimester abortion, subject to all the regulation, high fees and difficult access that any second trimester abortion is.  This is a subject I've already explained at length in a previous blog post, so I won't rehash it here.

In the end, sex-selective abortion should remain legal because abortion, or the removal of a unwanted pregnancy, should remain a choice between a woman and her doctor.  An unwanted pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy, regardless of how much information a mother has about it.





Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sign online!

There are quite a few online efforts to improve conditions for us now, and I think it's important for as many people as possible to participate.  I've heard before that online petitions "don't amount to anything," or "are easily ignored," but it's important to note that this is an election year.  An overwhelmingly unpopular idea is a lot harder to ignore than it was last year.  I'd advocate signing the following:

These two are for ending the "corporations are people" Citizens United decision:


This one is more of a mockery to let the legislature know that women's rights are worth more than corporations' rights:


This one is to revoke Fox's ability to post "news" that has no truth to it:


This one is, I think, the most important one, especially for Arizona.  It's a petition for the IRS to get rid of Cathi Herrod and her disgusting Center for Arizona Policy as a tax-exempt organization.  It should also stop them from being able to re-organize!


Online petitions take two minutes out of your day, and help point out to our politicians that we are angry and willing to add our names to the list of complainers.  Change often starts small, and we cannot afford to let things stay as they are!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Empathy

Just because I'm straight doesn't mean that fighting for gay rights isn't important, and that restricting gay rights doesn't diminish us all.

Just because my husband has always had a job that provided good, quality health insurance, doesn't mean that I shouldn't be concerned about health care reform.

Just because I am a stay at home mom, doesn't mean that making sure women have the opportunity to have both a career and a family isn't worth fighting for.

Just because I am married and have a stable family and home environment doesn't mean that abortion restrictions couldn't have dire consequences for me, my health and my family.

Just because I'm in my 30's doesn't mean I no longer want the legal alcoholic drinking age reduced to 18, or even 16.

Just because my children are young, doesn't mean I'm not pushing for comprehensive sex education and contraceptive availability for teens now.

Just because I don't live in Tennessee, or Mississippi, or South Dakota, doesn't mean that I should remain unconcerned when heinous anti-woman legislature is passed there.

Just because I'm pro-choice doesn't mean I'll ever have an abortion.

Just because I want to home school my children, or put them in a good charter school, doesn't mean I'm not constantly pushing for better public education.

Just because you're white doesn't mean that allowing brown people to be treated as less doesn't dehumanize you.

Just because you've never needed food stamps, welfare, or some form of public assistance doesn't mean that they are unnecessary programs.

Just because five guilty men were set free does not mean one innocent one should be sentenced to death.

Just because you are retired, and your children are grown, does not mean funding for public education is no longer important.

Just because you have never been depressed does not mean depression isn't real.

~

Empathy is the ability to relate or identify with another.

The ability to empathize is something children must be taught.  They are not born with it, and their parents, peers and role models are supposed to help instill them with a firm sense of concern for the well-being for people who are not them.

Psychopaths and sociopaths lack a sense of empathy.  They tend to have shallow emotions, but are often intelligent and very charming.

We live in sad, desperate times when so many of our laws and policies could have been proposed by children or psychopaths.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cathi Herrod: Destroying Arizona One Bill at a Time

Pissed off about what's going on in the Arizona Legislature?  I am.  You should be.  It's clear that, in the GOP's War on Women, the State of Arizona is playing a major part...and this bitch is leading the charge:


Yep, Cathi Herrod, of the so-called Center for Arizona Policy, is a fundamentalist Christian lobbyist who is more powerful than our entire elected minority, and indeed more powerful than some of the Republican majority.  She has Debbie Lesko, Nancy Barto and Jan Brewer herself in her pocket.  It's time we take action and call for her to be kicked out of the Arizona Legislature!  It is wrong that she walks around like she owns the place!  It is wrong that she wields more power than elected officials!  It is wrong that a well-funded fundamentalist is able to strip women of their rights and their very personhood through her anti-choice and hate-fueled bill writing.

She's not just out to fuck over women, either.  She hates the gays with a passion, as well.  Look at how she single-handedly killed a bi-partisan anti-bullying bill, which had already passed the senate:


This woman will stop at nothing until Arizona stands alone as a theocratic state.  Our power against her is limited, but our best move now is to spread awareness.  Most citizens of Arizona have never heard the name Cathi Herrod and do not know about the Center for Arizona Policy, and we can change that.  Our power lies in exposing her.  Please help by contacting Phoenix CPHO Channel 5 news and tell them we want more in-depth coverage on Herrod and her evil works!

Here is the email address for CBS 5:
cbs5gm@cbs5az.com

Here is a link to submit a request for Channel 12:
http://www.azcentral.com/12news/contact/http://www.azcentral.com/12news/contact/

Here is a sample letter:

I am a concerned Arizona voter who appreciates that you dare to cover Cathi Herrod, of the Center for Arizona Policy, and her bold moves to control the Arizona Legislature.  You are one of the few news organizations who dare to do so, and that's important to me.  I would like to request more in-depth coverage on her and her organization, as I think this is a sadly underreported issue and that most Arizona voters would be aghast if they truly knew what was going on.  Thank you for providing quality news, and I look forward to seeing more news stories about this.

See?  It's so easy.  I have written the letter for you.  All you have to do is copy and paste it.  Please, help stand up for our rights, spread the word about this heinous woman and her fundy agenda, and tell at least a few people about her.  No one seems to even know this is happening!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Researching your candidates

I'm going to do everything I can to make this post interesting, but unfortunately, almost no one thinks that researching before voting is fun.  It's SO important, though.

The GOP has truly driven home the point that they do not need to elect one of their own on a national stage if they can fully exploit the state and local elections.  They've succeeded, and now here we are with a ton of tea partiers infecting our state with crazy legislation designed to restrict women's rights, benefit corporations, and overall make life harder for the average American while they walk away with more money in their pockets.

So, who do we vote for when we make it to the polls?  First of all, early ballots are an EXCELLENT idea.  If you get your ballot in the mail and can fill it out at the kitchen table, you can take your time, look up candidates and proposals on the internet, maybe even ask someone who is politically involved how they are voting and why.  On the spot, in the voting booth, we often forget which way we were going to cast our votes on more obscure issues, even if we were sure of what we were going to do before we left the house.  If you haven't registered to vote and signed up for early ballots, please do yourself, and the state in general, a favor and do it now!

And here's a naked man running and then hitting a fence:


I hope that made it more interesting.  Anyway, we need to understand what the offices we are voting on DO, as well.  For example, I had no idea that voting for a candidate on the County Board of Supervisors would have any real effect in my life.  But I do hate Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the county board of supervisors decides his budget.  They could have cut it at any time, but they have decided to give him free reign.  So, now I'll be campaigning for Lilia Alvarez in District 3, and I'm hoping someone comes along to challenge Denny Barney for District 1, which is my district.  Denny is both an unchallenged Republican and an incumbent who has done nothing to help us choke off Arpaio's cash supply.  We've been unable to directly vote out Arpaio thus far, but sometimes the best way to get rid of a weed is to quit watering it instead of vainly trying to pull it out.

I know a lot of people just vote along party lines, and I'll admit to having been guilty of just voting for anyone with a D next to their name in previous elections.  In general, the Dems clearly have the rights and interests of the people in mind more than the GOP.  However, this does not help you when there are no Democratic candidates, when there are a lot of Democratic candidates, or when party is not noted on the ballot, like in the case of voting for judges.

One of my friends says she just votes for women in these cases.  Once again, in general, that's not a terrible idea, but traitors like Nancy Barto, Debbie Lesko and the infamous Jan Brewer have proven that's not always an indicator of a sane politician.  If they have a political record, checking out sites like:

http://votesmart.org/

can help you decide which candidates are most likely to vote or rule with your rights and interests in mind.  Checking out who the opposition is supporting is often helpful, as well as checking corporate support.  For example, Wal-Mart has never backed anyone I'd consider worthy of office.

Of course, then there's ALEC.  Check out my previous post on ALEC, and you'll see why NO ONE receiving funds from ALEC deserves your vote.

As for proposals, the easiest way to decide whether it would be ethical to support a prop you are unsure of is to check out who is supporting it and who is opposed to the proposition.  For example, last time around there was a vote on a proposition regarding the regulations for caging pregnant farm animals.  The ASPCA was for it, various factory farms were opposed.  Clearly the interests of the animals' welfare lies with the ASPCA, so I cast my vote for it.

We have quite a bit of time before the election rolls around in November, but there are already tons of ads and signs everywhere.  Do yourself a favor: stop watching TV!  Use the DVR so you can fast forward through the commercials, watch movies and shows via Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, stick to commercial-free stations like PBS, and rent DVDs instead.  These attack ads are not only tiring in their constant exposure, they represent a TON of misinformation, political spin and justification in the name of generating votes.  As for the radio, try Pandora and online radio to have all the music and none of the political advertising.  NPR is my personal favorite source for news.

After the early ballot form comes out, I'll be posting my own recommendations on a voting "cheat sheet," and the reasons for my choices.

To wrap it up, stop watching/listening to political ads, register for early ballots, and start researching your issues and candidates.  This is what you can do for us now.  We have win back our state, and it's only going to happen if we all get out and take it back!







Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Morality" vs Ethics

I think I now understand the concept of "activist burnout" that I was warned about.  It's not a desire to no longer be involved, or a lack of ability to help with the issue at hand.  It's more of a creeping depression at the overwhelming amount of work necessary to fix things.  It's a nagging doubt, a bit of hopelessness at the seemingly insurmountable number of assholes out there with one single goal: to fuck over innocent people and/or make money while doing it.

I'm not done.  Not by a long shot.  But the initial thrust of energy I had, powered by sheer anger and outrage, is cooling.  I need to stoke it into a long-burning flame, rather than let it flicker and die.  It's helpful to take note of our victories, even our small ones, to stay encouraged.  I also find it helpful to stay abreast of the news, noting that they are out there, waiting for us to tire and lay down so they can use us as a stair-step to their next heinous abuse of power.  I, for one, will not be letting anyone take away my rights laying down!

I'm sure many of you have seen, or at least heard of, Mississippi State Senator Bubba Carpenter's statement regarding women dying from "coat hanger abortions."  If not, I sadly cannot provide the video here because the Alcorn County GOP has removed it.  My guess is because it was incredibly damning to them and their cause, and it fully illustrates the contempt for women that the anti-choice movement and the GOP in general cultivate.

Here is the transcript of that awful video:



"We have literally stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi. Three blocks from the Capitol sits the only abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. A bill was drafted. It said, if you would perform an abortion in the state of Mississippi, you must be a certified OB/GYN and you must have admitting privileges to a hospital. Anybody here in the medical field knows how hard it is to get admitting privileges to a hospital...
"It's going to be challenged, of course, in the Supreme Court and all -- but literally, we stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi, legally, without having to--  Roe vs. Wade. So we've done that. I was proud of it. The governor signed it into law. And of course, there you have the other side. They're like, 'Well, the poor pitiful women that can't afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger.' That's what we've heard over and over and over.
"But hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that’s what we've decided to do. This became law and the governor signed it, and I think for one time, we were first in the nation in the state of Mississippi."
Sadly, there is something lost in reading it his statement.  Bubba's "But hey..." came out with the same shrug and lack of anything resembling emotion with which one might use the phrase "You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette."  So a few are gonna die painfully, Whoop-dee-doo!  At least we're saving some fetuses that will end up born addicted to drugs and in the foster care system to be abused and become a drain on society!

This man proudly states, "You gotta have morals."  What the hell does he mean by that?  His morals clearly dictate that allowing desperate women to accidentally kill themselves (taking their fetuses down with them, by the way) in shame and fear is clearly the more upstanding route than allowing them to safely and legally rid themselves of an unwanted pregnancy.  This same man must have been directed by his "morals" to vote against a comprehensive high school sex education program intended to prevent  unwanted pregnancies (and therefore, help prevent abortion.)  He also voted against a higher cigarette tax, against an increase in Medicaid funding, against an early parole program for non-violent offenders with good behavior records...but he did vote to legalize deer baiting.  This man has some real "morals!"

This is something my husband and I have often spoken of.  We both hate the word "moral."  Although in Webster's the words ethic and moral are considered interchangeable, I think it's safe to say that "moral" has taken on an unshakeable religious connotation.  I don't use it anymore when I speak of someone's character as an upstanding citizen.  I always say "ethics."  The word "ethics" implies a judgement between that which is right or wrong based on logic, reason, facts, and a general respect for other living beings.  I have a strong ethical character, and that's worth more than the "morals" Bubba gets from some Mississippi baptist hate pulpit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gay Rights & Obama's Endorsement

Hallelujah, he finally said it!  We all knew that Barack Obama felt this way for years, but that the political environment  was sadly not going to be receptive to such an announcement.  Thankfully, things are changing, bit by bit, and gay marriage is becoming more palatable in the eyes of the average American.

I think it's important to note that President Obama has not necessarily done himself any favors by announcing this in an election year.  Yes, he's going to have a fuller swing of the LGTBQ community behind him, but overall the black community, which he's always been able to count on for support, is generally against it.  As a dear, politically savvy friend put it, "He took a real gamble."

And here we are.  Now that North Carolina has overwhelmingly shown the country that they are bigoted and homophobic with the passing of Amendment 1, we now have a president and a vice president who are supporters of gay marriage.  Okay, maybe that's a bit too harsh.  Everyone who showed up for a Sunday Republican primary in North Carolina (i.e. only the most fervent of liberals, and the entirety of the conservative vote) decided that it was important to alienate gays, single parents and their children, endangering their health insurance and their security.  Apparently there were a lot of churches in the state preaching about how important it was to pass this.  Gee, I wonder why their congregations then left and went straight to the voting booths to spread this hate.  It was truly a masterful manipulation on the part of the GOP to have this amendment voted on on a Sunday during a primary vote when there was no Democratic primary candidate to vote on.  Perfect.  The churches and the Republicans only.

This fight, at times, seems like an endless one.  Sure, there are states where gay marriage is legal.  So, a lesbian couple can go there and get married, but then when one of them has a baby that they planned and conceived in love with the aid of artificial insemination, the other still has to legally adopt their child after the birth despite the fact that there is a spot on the birth certificate for the other parent, regardless of gender.  More than that, they are married, but that is no guarantee that the medical insurance that the one partner has will cover the other.  This is what happened to a couple in New Hampshire.  They are actually considering getting a divorce so that the young mother can get a life-saving surgery to remove the brain tumor that was discovered just after she became pregnant.  Her partner's workplace-provided insurance does not cover same-sex partners, and they are ineligible for state aid because they are married.

What was the point of telling you this story (besides depressing everyone who hears it?)   It's to point out that there's so much more to this issue, the issue of gay rights and equality.  If we just worry about voting to "allow" our gay brothers and sisters to marry on an individual state level with no other protections, this is the kind of thing that can happen.  It's unacceptable.  Any rights available to a married couple should be available to a gay married couple, period!

I am tired the language surrounding gay rights, as well.  They are not waiting to be "given" their rights, they are waiting to realize them.  They are human beings, just like the heterosexual population, and they deserve human rights.  Why are we arguing about "redefining marriage," something that has been "redefined" throughout history.  Between polygamy, anti-miscegination, arranged marriage, child brides and laws regarding possession and slavery, I do believe this term has been "redefined" an awful lot.  Why are we concerned about allowing consenting adults to make a life together, regardless of their genders?

And yes, you can most certainly read into that statement that I am for legalized polygamy between consenting adults.  The key words here are consenting and adults.  I think two women who want to share a husband are crazy.  I also think people who marry someone within a month or two of knowing them are crazy, as well.  But that's legal, and polygamy between consenting adults should be, too.

Back to the subject at hand: gay marriage.  Recently, on NPR, the President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM,) Brian Brown, stated outright that it's all about "framing the question."  He explained that when you ask people if gay marriage should be illegal, the majority of them say no.  But then if you ask those same people if we should "redefine marriage," they will say no, that marriage should remain a legal contract between one man and one woman.  He further stated that the idea of "making gay marriage illegal" conjures up images of monogamous, innocent gay couples being arrested in their homes.  Then he had the gall to inform the listeners that it is wrong to categorize anyone opposed to gay marriage as "bigoted," since then the majority of many states would be bigots.

This is crap!  Unacceptable!  I just can't believe that people are so easily swayed by language, but it's true.  Perhaps we need to take the initiative and write our own legislation "protecting the rights of gay people from persecution based on religion and bigotry."  And guess what?  Sometimes the majority of the population is composed of bigots!  Back when the Jim Crow laws were being enforced, the majority of people in the South supported them and THEY WERE BIGOTS.  It does not matter that an idea is popular if it is an idea that treats human beings as though they are worth less than the ruling class.  Period.




Monday, May 14, 2012

WTF is ALEC?

In our state it's amazing how many of our legislators are bought and paid for by ALEC.  If you were unaware (as I was not too long ago,) ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group of businesses and legislators.  It has been around since the 1970s, but it has only recently become part of the public consciousness because it is not merely a lobbying group.  They are responsible for actually drafting the legislature that furthers the goals of its corporations and conservative ideals.  It is so insidious because it is a conglomeration of legislators working behind the scenes directly with corporations to draft bills that directly benefit the members of ALEC, not the American people!  Some of their goals include removing environmental protections to benefit corporations, removing early-release programs for model prisoners so that corporations can make more prison-profit, privatizing the school system, encouraging "tort reform" so that corporations receive more protection from lawsuits, and especially influencing voter registration policy and election policy.  They are most interested in gaining control of government on the state level (although they would LOVE to have one of their members for president, as well.)  They keep their meetings and conferences closed to the public, and no media coverage is permitted.  More than that, up until now, their tax-exempt status has remained unquestioned.  

If you consider yourself conservative, consider this: with ALEC in charge, corporations are defining the conservative agenda.  "Small government" is their rallying cry, while they work to take it over.  Do not play into their hands!  Educate yourself!  ALEC is dangerous to the American people, and NONE of their members deserve your votes.  Here are some of their members from our state:

Arizona Representatives:

Cecil Ash
Judy M. Burges
Steve Court
Chester Crandell
Jeff Dial
John Fillmore
Doris Goodale
David M. Gowan, Sr.
Rick Gray
John Kavanagh
Nancy McLain
Javan D. Mesnard
Frank Pratt
Amanda A. Reeve
David Burnell Smith
Kimberly Yee
Michelle Ugenti

Arizona Senators:

Nancy K. Barto
Rich Crandall
Adam Driggs
Gail Griffin
Lori Klein
Albert Anthony Melvin
Don Shooter
Steven B. Yarbrough

Also, our Speaker of the House, Andy M. Tobin, Sr. and our AZ House Majority Whip Debbie Lesko are on that list.


We should certainly be aware of the corporations behind ALEC, as well as the ones who have left it.


Corporations that have left ALEC:


Coca-Cola
Pepsi
Kraft
McDonald's
Wendy's 
Mars
Intuit
Arizona Public Service
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Proctor and Gamble
Kaplan
Reed Elsevier
YUM! Brands
American Traffic Solutions


In addition, shockingly, the Gates Foundation and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards had once had ties to ALEC.  The Gates foundation made a single donation and they vow to never have anything to do with ALEC again.  The NBPTS was a member of ALEC under the previous leadership and they will not renew.


Corporations that are still screwing the American people...I mean, are members/supporters of ALEC (There are TOO many to list here, but I'll list the most household of names.  You can find the rest of the list here:


1-800-CONTACTS
3M
Amazon.com
American Express
Anheuser Busch
AOL 
ARCO
AstraZeneca
Bank of America
Best Buy
Boeing
BP America, Inc.
Bristol Meyers Squibb
CenturyLink
Chevron
Chrysler Corporation
Comcast
Conoco Phillips
CVS
Dell Inc
DirecTV
eBay
Eli Lilly and Company
Farmers Group, Inc
FedEx
Ford Motor Company
Frito-Lay
Fruit of the Loom
GEICO
General Motors Corporation
Gerber 
Hiram Walker and Sons
Hewlett Packard
Honeywell
Humana
IBM
Intel
JC Penney
John Deere
Liberty Mutual
Mary Kay Cosmetics
Merck
Microsoft
MillerCoors
Monsanto
Motorola
Nestle
Outback Steakhouse
Pennzoil
PG&E
Sanofi-Aventis
Sara Lee
Seagram and Sons
Shaklee
Shell Oil Company
Sony
Sprint
State Farm Insurance
T-Mobile
Texaco
Texas Roadhouse
Time Warner Cable
Tropicana
Unilever
United Airlines
United Healthcare
Verizon
VISA
Walgreen's
Waste Management
Yahoo!


These companies have members on ALEC's corporate board:


CenterPoint 360
Bayer
AT&T
American Bail Coalition
Altria Group (formerly PhillipMorris)
Diageo
Energy Future Holdings
ExxonMobile
GlaxoSmithKlein
Johnson & Johnson
Koch Companies Public Sector
Peabody Energy
Pfizer
PhRMA
Reynolds American
Salt River Project
State Farm Insurance
United Parcel Service
Walmart


Non-Profits that are members/supporters of ALEC (again, there are WAY too many to list here.  For a complete list go to this website) Again, think about the goals of ALEC as you look at this list to fully understand the conflicts of interest for some of these organizations:


Americans United for Life
Center for Education Reform
Council for Affordable Health Insurance
Family Research Council
Goldwater Institute
Heritage Foundation
Institute for Energy Research
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
National Rifle Association
National Right to Life Committee
Prison Fellowship Ministries
The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee
RestoringFreedom.org, Inc
State Budget Solutions
State Policy Network


ALEC is too big, and too awful to describe in one blog entry.  Please go to ALECexposed.org/ for the most current and in-depth information.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why is abortion an important issue?

I've noticed that the vast majority of my posts have been about abortion, and I don't want this blog to be exclusively about abortion.  I want to put out information about women's rights and progressive politics in general, especially in Arizona.  However, women's rights in particular have come under fire lately, and I know a lot of people don't really understand why abortion is crucial to equality for women.

The simple truth is that contraceptives were the great equalizer for women.  They allowed us to put off having a family, or to not have one at all.  They allowed us to own our sexuality, not keep it under lock and key for our future husbands to enjoy while men were free to have anonymous sex without much fear of the consequences.  The birth control pill put us in charge of our lives, allowed us to have careers and become more than housewives and mothers.  It allowed us to have smaller, more manageable families we could adequately provide for.  It allowed us to let our bodies rest and heal in between pregnancies so that we could have them a couple of years or more apart, rather than becoming pregnant within a few months of giving birth to the previous child.  It allowed us to not die, exhausted, after having a dozen children.  It allowed us to plan and manage our futures.

Contraceptives were critical in creating an environment where equality for women was possible.  Abortion is the back-up plan.  Abortion is our safety net.  It means that we can still move forward with our lives if contraception fails us, if we are raped, or if a deeply wanted pregnancy goes wrong.

Legal, safe abortion means that we are worth more, in the eyes of the legislature, than our ability to breed.

Right now, this right is so threatened that women who have not protested since the 70's are coming out to defend us.  Understand this: if we allow them to take our right to choose, our rights to contraceptives are next.  There are people who do not value women as intelligent, valuable citizens of this country who are writing these bills.  There are people out there who would love to return us the pre-pill era where men controlled us, our lives, our futures, our property, and our country.

I am worth more than my ability to produce children.

I am a human being, equal to men.

I deserve to be treated as such.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

It's not so simple

It's interesting that children, before the advent of high school, tend to identify as "pro-life," if they have thought about the argument at all.  Most, it seems, haven't been given much exposure to an issue so controversial, but those who have, have usually been told how wrong abortion is by anti-choice parents, or come to that conclusion on their own.

That's because being against abortion as a whole is part of an immature and simplistic worldview.

Children feel this way because their world is still in black-and-white.  There are no shades of grey, no subtleties, no complexities.  They are children, and this is how they see life, so of course it is very easy to understand why they see it as a simple equation.  Abortion=killing.  Killing=wrong.  Abortion=wrong.

I expect children to feel this way.  I also expect them to ask questions and develop a more intricate viewpoint as they age and learn.  It's reasonable to believe that most people realize the world, as they understood it in 6th grade, does not exist.

So, I can only come to the conclusion that the people who make up the anti-choice movement are ignorant, undereducated and immature.  They function on the idea that they need not worry about the dire consequences that their actions create for other people.  They figure, so long as people do the "right thing" (read: follow the current popular Christian ideal of waiting to have sex until marriage) then everything would work out fine for them.

Some people are at least mature enough to understand that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or if the fetus is deformed or disabled.  But the Christian Patriarchy movement does not even allow for that.  If I were to ask them about abortion exceptions, the conversation would go something like this:

What about rape?  I mean, nobody plans for that!
Super Christian answer: If you're a good and modest woman, you'll not only remain home most of the time with your children, leaving the house only under the guidance and supervision of your father, or later, your husband, but when you do leave the home, you'll be dressed modestly, so as not to entice men. Besides, in a godly society, such as the one we'd create with our strict laws requiring that everyone commit to Jesus, family life, patriarchy and of course, sex only between husbands and their wives, no one would ever become a rapist.

What about an unplanned pregnancy within the bonds of marriage?  Birth control occasionally fails.
Super Christian answer: Any child given to you is a gift from God, and a child who is conceived despite birth control is truly meant to be.  Besides, birth control is just preventing you and your husband from receiving God's gifts, and it was the gateway to getting the public to accept abortion.  Better to simply accept any child God sends you without the interference of birth control.

What about children for whom prenatal testing has shown to have incurable deformities or genetic disorders?  Some of these children will not live more than a few hours, days or weeks!  And some will live in terrible pain or have no quality of life.  Besides, we'd go bankrupt trying to care for them.
Super Christian answer: All life God creates is sacred.  Allow Him to give or take it as He sees fit.  It is not for us to judge what lives are worth living.  Don't worry about providing for this child.  God will give what you need.


It is over-simplifying and not understanding that the world itself is complex.  Things happen without reason or fault.  To be staunchly anti-choice is to cover up one's ears and declare that the world is the way one sees it through your religion-colored glasses.  It does not take into account that life is unfair.  It denies the innocent women get raped, and that no one deserves or "asks for it."  It denies that, for no particular reason but a bad roll of the genetic dice, truly wanted babies are formed with horrible, disfiguring and life-long disabilities that might cause their lives to be very short and painful if they even survive to be born.  It denies that women, like men, make mistakes that they should not have to alter their entire lives to pay for.  It denies that parents have upper limits on resources, such as time, energy and money to raise their families.  It denies that some people are better off not being parents, and that society is better off when children are wanted, loved and provided for by both their parents and their country.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waiting periods, Ultrasounds, and Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Shame, Disgrace and Punishment

The War on Women, and the war against choice in particular, have employed four powerful tools that some pro-choice individuals don't seem to think are important or wrong.  Mandatory ultrasounds, mandatory waiting periods, mandated physician supervision of medical (pill) abortion and "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" are all ways the anti-choice movement has tried to mislead the public into thinking they want women to make an informed decision about their pregnancy or make abortion safer, when their true motivation is simply to keep women with unwanted pregnancies from aborting, regardless of the cost.

Mandatory ultrasounds sound so innocent.  After all, shouldn't women know exactly what they are deciding against?  Doesn't looking at the embryo/fetus on the screen mean she has to think about it more? Isn't more information always a good thing?

Well, this is certainly what they want us to think.  In truth, we are living in the age of information.  Anyone who wants to know exactly what the fetus looks like, at any given stage, can look it up online in greater detail, with better pictures and descriptions, than can be had at an ultrasound.  Even without the ultrasound mandate, a woman could ALWAYS request an ultrasound to see what is going on inside her, even if she was going in for an abortion.  So, this is not facilitating more information.  Instead, it is an attempt to make the woman feel bad about her choice, a choice any woman in that situation agonizes over, analyzes, and typically researches before coming to a conclusion about what would be best for her, in her particular situation.

Showing her "the baby" and reading her a description of its functioning organs and abilities at the present stage of development, is all about trying to change her mind and make her feel ashamed of her choice.  The fact that this is not an option we're forcing doctors to offer, but rather a part of the procedure we're forcing women to be subjected to, says it all.  Women know what's going on, and they're out to make sure we feel terrible about making a choice we already didn't want to have to make.

Mandatory waiting periods are also a barrier to allowing women to retain their dignity and make their decisions without harassment.  Even a 24-hour waiting period is ridiculous.  The premise is that women need this time to make certain that they are firm in their decision to abort.  If that was really what lawmakers wanted, they would allow women to phone the doctor or clinic 24 hours ahead to start their waiting period at home.  No one could argue with the idea that a woman should have some time to think it over, right?

Actually, I would disagree with even a waiting period at home.  This polarizing political issue has become such a public spectacle, I seriously doubt anyone is unaware of it and what it entails.  Moreover, just about any woman I've ever talked to has at least thought about the "what ifs" of an unplanned pregnancy.  To assume that women need to be made to essentially "sit in time out and think about our actions" is to treat us as second class citizens and children.

Ultimately, the greatest argument against mandatory waiting periods is a medical one.  Time is crucial when a woman chooses to terminate her pregnancy.  The earlier she terminates, the less likely it is complications will arise and the cheaper it will be.  There is a fine line between the time when a woman is eligible to have a medical (pill) abortion, and a surgical one.  If she's too far along for a medical abortion, there is a fine line between whether she's eligible for the easier, cheaper, dilation and curettage (D&C,) or the more costly and harder to obtain dilation and evacuation (D&E.)  More doctors can help a woman in need of a medical abortion than of a D&C.  There are FAR more D&C providers than D&E ones.  Furthermore, the cost escalates as time passes.

But it's just 24 hours, right?  How much difference can one day make?  In the hypothetical, one day would, admittedly, make little difference in most circumstances.   But in the real world, most clinics cannot see you on the day you call to make an appointment, or even the next day.  So, if it takes a week to make that first appointment, then the next available appointment isn't for another week or so, this poor woman has added 2 weeks to her pregnancy.  It's not unreasonable to think that this timeline may have limited her options.

What about the mandate that doctors supervise their patients taking the first pill dose in a medical abortion?  Surely this is ethical and right?  I mean, we're just making sure the woman asking for the abortion is actually the one getting it.  It's important that she isn't taking the pills to another woman who hasn't seen a doctor (and one who is attempting to circumvent all the legal roadblocks to abortion set up by the anti-choice lobbyists.)

I'll agree whole-heartedly that it is best, in most circumstances, that a woman see a physician for her abortion.  This ensures that she is receiving the correct treatment in the safest possible environment, and that she will be immediately attended to in case of complications.  However, we need to understand that we live in the real world, where it can be very difficult to get an appointment at a busy doctor's office.  Doctors who would consider writing a prescription for a medical abortion might reconsider if they know they are going to have to schedule for a longer appointment (or two, in the case of states with mandatory waiting periods,) rather than simply writing a script.  If there's also a mandatory ultrasound, this further complicates things, making a doctor even more reluctant to provide this service for women.  The pool of abortion providers continues to get smaller and smaller.

The worst thing to happen to the pro-choice movement is the wave of "Crisis Pregnancy Centers," which now outnumber freestanding abortion clinics by 5:1.  The Crisis Pregnancy Center is a religious-based, anti-choice "clinic," usually set up with an ultrasound machine, designed to trick pregnant women into thinking they are going to an abortion clinic.  Instead they enter a place set up to look like a cozy, inviting room to comfort women through this difficult time.  They are offered free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, while bloody videos of dismembered fetuses and botched abortions play in the waiting area.  The literature they provide is all anti-choice propaganda, and most of it is misinformation to further their agenda.  They are told things like abortions have been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer or that an abortion could kill you or permanently damage your fertility.  The former has been proven false and the latter is true in the same way that saying crossing the street could kill you is true.  Yes, it could, but the odds of it happening are so infinitesimal that they are negligible.  Those pamphlets certainly don't explain that carrying a pregnancy to term is far more dangerous than aborting.  They also tell their unsuspecting victims that condoms generally don't work and they tell their marks that most women experience so-called "post-abortion syndrome" after an abortion.  This "syndrome," by the way, is not recognized by either the American Psychiatric Association or the American Psychological Association.

The people who work there are coached on how to dodge certain questions like, "Do you do abortions here?" or "How can I keep this from happening again?"  They also play fast and loose with telling women how far along they are.  See, there are two ways to date a pregnancy, and both are valid.  You can date a pregnancy from the time of conception, which is usually about 2-3 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period, or you can date it from the date of her last menstrual period.  Since VERY few women know their date of conception, but almost all of them know when they were last bleeding, most doctors use the date of their last menstrual period for dating purposes.  So, in a way, a fetus can be both 9 and 11 weeks old simultaneously.

Why does this matter?  Because if a woman likely to have an abortion is told at a Crisis Pregnancy Center that she is two weeks less pregnant than she actually is by her last menstrual period, she might assume she has more time to think about terminating her pregnancy and therefore miss her state's legal cutoff, end up being unable to afford a more expensive procedure, or need a more involved and harder to obtain abortion.  On the other hand, sometimes they tell women they are more pregnant than they are if they think showing them a larger fetus "doll" might sway them.  So as not to lie, they tell them, "Looks like you're 9 weeks pregnant" (from last menstrual period.)  "Here is what a 9 week fetus looks like" (shows the woman a fetus that is 9 weeks from conception.)  See, they're not lying.  They're just not being entirely honest.

Here is a short video of an undercover exposure of a Crisis Pregnancy Center in New York City:



Now that you understand how ludicrous "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" are as proponents of women's health, you can see that the idea of sending women to one of these places for "pre-abortion counseling" is insane, incredibly offensive, and infuriating.  But that's exactly what has been proposed in South Dakota and a few other states.

I'd advise anyone interested in this fight to watch the documentary 12th & Delaware.  It's about an abortion clinic across the street from a "Crisis Pregnancy Center" and what goes on inside each.  I'd also appreciate support to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to fund these religious institutions.  I've started a petition here:

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petition/end-non-profit-status-and-tax-dollars-funding-religious-anti-choice-crisis-pregnancy-centers/pQBWZkZs

The truth of the matter is that chipping away at our freedom to choose is easier and more effective than directly challenging Roe v. Wade.  Understanding that the anti-choice movement's "reasonable regulations" are not reasonable at all in the real world, rather than simply in the abstract, and knowing that they are not motivated by an intent to protect or inform women, but rather by a ridiculous desire to restrict abortion further, is important.




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Know your hospitals!

When we need emergency medical care, the closest hospital is the best one to go to, right?  That's not necessarily true, particularly if you're a woman.  Many hospitals have religious affiliations, and some will even consider risking your life to preserve that relationship.

Catholic hospitals have a "no abortions ever" policy.  So, if you are pregnant (or even suspect you might be) I would avoid a Catholic hospital.  They might not help you with your life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, will not abort in order to save the mother's life, or even administer treatments that might be harmful to the fetus.  Recently, St. Joe's lost its Catholic affiliation because a woman with pulmonary hypertension needed to terminate her 11 week old fetus to save her life.  The woman was 27, had 4 children already, and would have died, taking the fetus with her, if she had not gotten the inexplicably controversial abortion.  A courageous nun approved the procedure, and was excommunicated for it.

In addition, you should know that your doctor's personal ethics are not enough if you are admitted to a religiously affiliated hospital.  In a recent study of 1000 ob/gyns, a third of them reported a conflict with the hospital because of religiously based policies on treatments.  More than half of them have these problems in Catholic hospitals.

Is this really health care?  If you don't want someone else's morals enforced on your body, I would avoid religiously affiliated hospitals, if possible.  I would also make certain that the doctor you have chosen has privileges at a hospital without religious affiliations.

If possible, we should boycott Catholic affiliated "health care" and make it known that we, the women of this country, are worth more than our ability to incubate a fetus.  I will no longer knowingly allow my money to go to a church that values its "morals" over my life, or that values its reputation over the suffering of sexually abused children by its own appointed authority figures.

It is not readily obvious whether or not your chosen hospital has a religious affiliation.  Most of the time, even the hospital staff don't understand what a religious affiliation is.  They assured me that they had chaplains of every major religion and sect, but had no idea what I meant when I asked if the hospital itself was affiliated.  Apparently you need to contact hospital administrators to get this kind of information.  I have to admit, I'm a little suspicious that they might be making the information difficult to obtain on purpose.  Perhaps the Catholic organizations are afraid to lose business to people like me?  Maybe the non-religiously affiliated hospitals are afraid that if they highlight their secular (rather than "moral") model for health care, crazy religious people will go out of their way to go elsewhere?

Here is a list of the hospitals and organizations I called and/or could research myself on the internet:

Tempe St. Luke's: no religious affiliation
Scottsdale Healthcare: no religious affiliation and no one knew what I was talking about
Banner Healthcare: no religious affiliation and no one knew what I was talking about
Chandler Regional Medical Center: Catholic
Mercy Gilbert Medical Center: Catholic
St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix: Affiliation in question; was Catholic.  I'd avoid.
Barrow Neurological Institute: Catholic
Huger Mercy Living Center: Catholic
Children's Rehabilitation Services (CRS) Clinic: Catholic
Desert Ridge Outpatient Surgery Center: Catholic
Craig Tuberculosis Clinic: Catholic
CHW Urgent Care in Queen Creek: Catholic
CHW Urgent Care in Ahwatukee: Catholic
CHW Urgent Care in Gilbert: Catholic
Sun Lakes Laboratory: Catholic
Warner Park Outpatient Surgery Center: Catholic
Arizona Orthopedic Surgical Center: Catholic
Arizona Heart Hospital/Institute: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Arrowhead Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Maryvale Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
North Peoria Emergency Center: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Paradise Valley Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Phoenix Baptist Hospital & Medical Center: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
West Vally Hospital: Abrazo Health Care, non-religiously affiliated
Mayo Clinic Phoenix: no religious affiliation
Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital: Catholic
Carondelet St. Joseph's Hospital: Catholic
Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital: Catholic
Carondelet Heart and Vascular Institute: Catholic
Carondelet Medical Mall (both locations): Catholic

Carondelet Health Care (Tucson) is Catholic.  I'd avoid anything with the name Carondelet in it.
CHW is Dignity Health (formerly Catholic Health West) so anything with the CHW logo is Catholic affiliated.*
Banner Health, and all its clinics, hospitals, labs and pharmacies are not religiously affiliated.
Abrazo Health is not religiously affiliated, although it took 3 phone calls and several transfers to find someone who knew what this meant.

* It has been brought to my attention that Dignity Health, which was formerly Catholic Health West, has stated that the health care facilities they have acquired which were not religiously affiliated will remain that way.  Having said that, I will also state that it is difficult enough to find out if a hospital or other health care facility is owned by a Catholic or non-religious health care network.  It is far more difficult to find out what affiliation that facility had under its previous owner.  I, personally, will be avoiding anything owned by Dignity Health so as to hedge my bets that I will receive the care I need, regardless of what is considered "moral" by someone completely unqualified to make health care decisions.

If anyone sees a mistake on this list, or knows of the affiliations of a hospital in Arizona I did not list, please let me know in the comments section.  I'll gladly correct/update my information.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Our latest protest effort


Sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words.  If you want to participate in this effort, feel free to fax a picture of a hanger to (602) 542-1381 or send your hanger to:


Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Why I won't call them "Pro-Life"

I refuse to use the term "Pro-Life"when describing the opposition anymore.  I simply won't do it.  Words have power, and this term is assigning an altruism and empathy to that movement which isn't a part of their agenda.

If they were really "Pro-Life," they'd be against capital punishment.  But the majority of them are for it.

If they were really "Pro-Life," they'd be anti-war.  But the majority of them supported the Iraq war.

If they were really "Pro-Life," the majority of them would be for providing food, cash and housing aid for low-income families, so that they could actually make the decision to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term without fear of being unable to provide for that child.  But they want to cut funding to these programs.

If they were really "Pro-Life," they would want to cut down on unwanted pregnancies so that there would be fewer women who were ever even in a situation where they needed to make that choice.  But they constantly support "abstinence-only" education, which is proven to increase the number of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies, rather than a comprehensive sex education program, which produces the opposite effect.

If they were really "Pro-Life," they would want to promote contraception, which is the only proven way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies (that, in turn, leads to fewer abortions.) But they do not want our children educated in the use of contraceptives.  They want to prevent legislature that would make contraceptives more affordable, and do not offer any advice or information on contraceptives in their "Crisis Pregnancy Centers."

If they were really "Pro-Life," they would value the lives of the homosexual and transgendered people, rather than work to protect the "rights" of children to bully them and prevent them from adopting children in need of loving families and stable homes instead of living in the foster care system which is rife with abuse and a breeding ground for psychological issues.

If they were really "Pro-Life," they would worry about the psychological effects of carrying an unwanted pregnancy might have on the mother, whether she chose to give it up for adoption or raise it in a precarious environment.  But they think giving a child up for adoption is not a hardship.

If they were really "Pro-Life," they would worry about the quality of life of a child with a severe deformity or disability.  But they think these children should be born despite their parents unwillingness or inability to care for a child with special needs, and despite the fact that the lives they live might be especially short, painful, traumatic and/or fraught with depression.

I'm sure there are exceptions, people who do not endorse the things I listed above, but I have not met them.  All the people I have spoken to who fall into this camp are people are anti-abortion, anti-women's rights and anti-choice.  They are pro-controlling women, but they are NOT "pro-life."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I was that girl.

I was her.  You know, that girl who claims she's "not really a feminist."  Yep that was me.  My #1 priority, for as long as I can remember, was to have children.  I wanted to stay at home with them, because paying for childcare meant letting someone else raise them for 8 hours a day, and I certainly wasn't having kids to let them be raised by someone else.  I watched my mother raise my five siblings and I, so I had no delusions of glamorous motherhood.  No, I knew there were endless loads of laundry, sinkfuls of dishes, errands to run, babies needing to be fed, rocked, nursed, changed and played with.  I wanted to be super involved, possibly homeschooling and definitely being involved in their lives as much as possible without being overprotective or socially crippling them.  I was going to read to them, garden, sew, compost, cook and just generally be a great, environmentally conscious stay-at-home-mom.

I did go to college, and get my Bachelor's in Art with a minor in Religious Studies, before marrying my boyfriend of 6 years.  We started our family about two weeks after the wedding, and I gave little real thought to this strange concept of "feminism."  After all, we have the right to vote, right?  We have contraceptives and thus can decide whether we want to have families or careers, and abortion, though controversial, is legal, and now women can be CEO's and judges and even run for president, so why are we worried about feminism anymore?

I really went through life thinking that the issue had been resolved.  Looking back now, it had been taken care of for where I was, socially and emotionally, and for what I wanted in life at the time.  Nothing I wanted or needed was challenged by inequality, and so I was content to stand on the shoulders of my foremothers, and assume that we were done, and that I could now relax and enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The birth of my first son, oddly enough, was the first sign that all was not right in the world.  I went through the pregnancy giddy with anticipation at finally getting to do what I'd always dreamt of doing: raising my very own baby.  I was on cloud 9.  I was a newlywed, we'd just bought a house, I graduated college and my life was really damn near perfect.

When I went into labor, we went to the hospital and it became clear pretty quickly that there was something amiss.  Women in the maternity ward are second class citizens.  They are really just breathing incubators who need to have their contents removed as quickly as possible, with little concern for their desires or comfort.  Never in my life have I had decisions made about me, right in front of me, without my consultation and with a complete lack of caring as to how I felt about those decisions.  I thought having a female ob/gyn would've helped, too.  But alas, no.  From what I've gathered from other women, she was worse than most men.  I will say this, I was at least capable of advocating for myself enough to avoid an unnecessary cesarean section.  A lazy nurse, who clearly did not like me, was marking my chart and telling my doctor that she had been checking me for dilation when she had not.  I had had an epidural, and a VERY effective one, at that, and so I had no idea how ready I was to deliver.  They prepped me for a c-section and I insisted that they check me one last time, for my own piece of mind.  The nurse's eyes popped open and she informed that I was fully dilated and ready to go.

So, I was about to have major abdominal surgery, in addition to all the other dehumanizing treatments I'd received in my stay at the hospital of horrors, because I was no longer a person, so long as I carried another human being within my body.  This started my research into abortion and the pro-choice movement.  I mean, if I was being treated this way carrying a baby I wanted to term, how were women who needed an abortion faring?

Not well, it turns out.  It's clear that, although 1 in 3 women in this country will need an abortion in her lifetime, no one ever talks about it.  It's still taboo.  It's still not an acceptable choice, although it's a legal one.  And on that note, I saw just how "legal" it still was.  Sure, Roe v Wade was still the law of the land, but the anti-choice movement had gotten smarter in their tactics.  Challenging Roe directly was, and still is, nearly impossible.  There's no point in wasting their resources on that dead end.  So they found a much more effective route: enact much smaller pieces of legislature in individual states to make abortions less accessible.  THAT strategy has proven incredibly effective, mostly because those of us who are pro-choice, but didn't really foresee ourselves ever needing an abortion, failed to act.  We were complacent for decades.

When my first son was less than a year old, I was invited to go with a couple of friends to hear Gloria Steinem speak at Arizona State University.  Honestly, I just wanted to spend some time with my friends and I had no idea who she even was.  That evening changed my life.  I'll admit, I walked in there afraid of hearing a "feminazi" condemning my desires to stay home and raise a family.  I thought I was going to hear that women like me harm the movement, and draw feminism backwards, lessening the gains we have made over the years.  Instead, I heard how important choice, in all walks of life, is for women.  Honoring a woman's choice to become a mother, a CEO, a lawyer, a homemaker, a secretary, a cop, a member of the military infantry, a woman working from home or a political activist is paramount to the movement.  Judging women for their choices was working against us, and that applied to ALL their choices.  Removing roadblocks to freedom for women was what we all needed to work against, and attacking the homemakers and stay-at-home mothers was counterproductive.  Most importantly, we needed to make sure those mothers were raising empowered girls and feminist boys who understood that they were equal, and didn't fear living in equal partnership.  How would that be possible without embracing the mothers among us?

I now consider myself a "Steinemite."  I have been converted, and there's no going back.  I can't look at the world without thinking about how women are better off, in every scenario, being educated to make their own decisions, their own choices, in all aspects of life.

Education is the key.  When women are educated, they have fewer children, have them later in life, and provide better lives for them.  When they are educated, they also tend to understand what feminism REALLY means...just like I finally do.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Abortion Pills: What we should all know about them

When discussing abortion with anti-choice people, it occurs to me that many of their arguments are formulated around surgical, not medical abortion.  A lot of their criticisms, and indeed a lot of the legal roadblocks they're trying to set up, fall apart when it comes to using the abortion pill.  That's why medical abortion is Public Enemy #1 for the anti-choice movement.  It's discreet, it mimics a natural miscarriage, a doctor cannot even tell the difference between a medical abortion and a natural miscarriage at all.  For people who want you to endure the shame of dealing with pictures of torn apart fetuses and recovery in a clinical setting, for people who have made it entirely too difficult to be humanely treated when seeking abortion, the invention of mifepristone was the worst day in their battle against choice.


While it's not a legal option, it's still possible to order mifepristone and misoprostol online, thus avoiding the waiting period, angry protestors with graphic signs, mandatory ultrasounds and unnecessary descriptive narratives of the fetus' development.  Sure, these women are taking a chance on the drugs they are buying online, but the anti-choice movement has made certain that these poor women, who were in a terrible situation anyway, are now in a desperate one.  Desperate women take chances and do desperate things, like buy drugs online and take them without the supervision of a doctor.


I'm not advocating this route, but I am saying that I understand why some women feel that they are being forced to take this chance.  It's not as scary as the coat-hanger abortions of the pre-Roe era, but internet-purchased medical abortions are the contemporary version of them.  It's still taking a chance with our health because of legal blockades set up by the anti-choice movement.


So what are these drugs?  Mifepristone, also called RU-486 or Mifeprex, is a pill designed to block progesterone to the fetus.  Progesterone is necessary to continue to sustain the uterine lining, and so blocking progesterone ends the pregnancy the majority of the time.  A dosage of 200-600 mg is recommended.   Mifepristone alone is effective at ending a pregnancy 60-80% of the time, and so it is recommended that it be taken in combination with misoprostol.


Misoprostol, also called cytotec, is the second part of the medical abortion equation.  In some circumstances, it can actually work all on its own, but it has been recommended that it be used in combination with Mifepristone if that is available, since the combination have fewer side effects and less discomfort than misoprostol alone.  Misoprostol is also prescribed for the prevention of gastric ulcers, so it may be easier to get a hold of than mifepristone in countries where abortion is illegal.


Misoprostol works by stimulating uterine contractions, thus expelling the products of conception.  dosages between 25 and 800 mcg are recommended depending on how far along the pregnancy is.


Wait, what?  You mean medical abortions can happen beyond the 49 days post-conception as recommended by the FDA?  In other countries, this happens all the time.  In the UK, the same method, mifepristone and misoprostol taken 48 hours apart, is routinely used up to 63 days after conception, and their abortion safety record is no worse off for it.  In fact, in some form or another, medically induced abortion (read: mifepristone/misoprostol abortion) can be used up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy.  To be sure, it is NOT as simple as just taking the two part pill regimen which is effective at 7 weeks, but in varying doses, medically induced abortion can be safely used FAR beyond what it has been approved for in the United States.  


In fact, recently an Idaho woman used pills purchased from the internet for her abortion which ended up terminating a pregnancy far more advanced than she had thought.  She was certainly lucky, as it should be understood that complications and side effects from a medical abortion are more likely the farther the pregnancy has progressed, and she would have been much safer under the supervision of a doctor, but who could blame her?  Desperate women do desperate things, and the anti-choice movement has forced us into desperate actions.


In my searches, I have come across sites (which I will not list here for fear that they will be shut down) with instructions for women in countries where abortions are illegal.  They have instructions on where 
to get the pills, as well as this warning:


Do not buy any pills from the website "Abortion-pill-online.com" or "mifepristone-misoprostol.com" or "mifepristone-online.com". The medicines are not Mifepristone, Mifegyne or RU 486. The medicines that were sent to us did not contain the active ingredient Mifepristone!
Do not order from the website "drugdelivery.ca" or "cytoteconline.com" either, the package never arrives!


They recommend the woman take the final dose and then sit in a hospital cafe so that when the bleeding starts, she can rush to the emergency room and claim to be having a miscarriage.  This way, she will be examined and can be certain that all products of conception are expelled in a non-judgemental manner, since no doctor can tell the difference between a medical abortion and a natural miscarriage.


I think this is good advice for anyone in a situation so hopeless that they've considered the illegal, abortion pills online method.  At least be near a hospital.  Do not be afraid to rush in there when you are bleeding so that you can be taken care of properly.  Understand that, unless you have an undissolved misoprostol pill in your vagina, there is no way any of the hospital staff will know you've started your own abortion unless you admit it to them.  Getting an examination afterwards is crucial to avoid infection or complications that may endanger your future fertility or your life.


Medical abortion is not a perfect solution.  There are many side effects including diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, nausea, vaginal bleeding, headache, fever, chills, and dizziness.  I have known several women who have experienced a medical abortion, and none have reported a pleasant experience.  However, it is important to note that it is considered very safe under the supervision of  doctor, and some ob/gyns will administer the pills in their own office, thus saving their patients from having to visit a freestanding abortion clinic (with the possibility of protesters and their shaming tactics.)