Tag Archives: abortion

I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about them: Generational evolution and activism

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “Young people just don’t get it,” in the last 2 years I’d have at least enough money to buy a nice, used car. I’m tired of it. Let’s all agree to retire the phrase, mmmkay?

First of all, while I have no empirical evidence to support this beyond hearing it out of the mouths of my grandparents, I’m pretty sure every generation says this about the generations following them. “When I was a kid I walked uphill to school in a foot of snow both ways! Kids today, they just don’t get it!” It’s like generational hazing. And it’s basically noise. It has no substance. It’s highlighting a “problem” that doesn’t actually exist. Perhaps what people really mean is “Young people are doing things differently than I did them and I find that unsettling because I want my way to be the best and only way of doing things.” I’m cool with that, it’s honest, and it doesn’t have the silencing effect of, “Young people don’t care.”

Second of all, NO NO NO. It’s just not true. Young people DO get it. Older generations just need to start looking for things that aren’t on the tip of their nose and get their egos out of the way.

This cliche pops up pretty regularly in the reproductive rights movement. Nancy Keenan, outgoing president of NARAL Pro-Choice America has, on more than one occasion, stated that she has concerns about younger generations taking the reins of reprorights activism. In a recent Salon piece Keenan suggested, again, that millennials don’t prioritize abortion rights the way the Boomers do. Of course, she went on to clarify that she’s not talking about the women and men who are committed, only those that aren’t.

What really bugs me about this sentiment is that it assumes that Boomers, as a bloc, care about reprorights more  than subsequent generations. And I think this is based, almost entirely, on the blinders of a cohort.

When you find your activist cohort, you might think that no one but your cohort is involved because, when you’re planning activisty things, your friends are the people that show up, and not people that you’ve never talked to before. Which makes sense, right? I mean, you know that this group will want to be involved, so you call them up and involve them. And then sit around wringing your hands about how “there are no new faces, they must not care.” When, in reality, the new faces that you’re trying to attract are holding their own party, because they got sick of hearing, as Keenan said, “Young people don’t care. Oh, but I don’t mean you. You’re different.” If you’re going to denigrate my cohort, I don’t have a whole lot of interest in participating in your stuff.

I don’t think there is a divide in the reprorights movement, I think there is the way things have always been done, and a new way of doing things. It’s evolution. Which is absolutely necessary in order for a movement to remain relevant.

 

 

 

 

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Don’t give me this “small government” stuff.

Rachel Maddow on small government. Transcript after the video.

Small government is a great political brand. It looks great on a bumper sticker. People who don’t want the government to help unemployed people, or the elderly, or people without health insurance, who don’t want the government to create jobs , they say it’s because government has to be small. They also want government to be monitoring every pregnancy in the country to make sure the government’s chosen outcome is the result of that pregnancy, under penalty of jail. So, make your case that you don’t want the government to help the economy, but don’t give me this ‘small government’ stuff, c’mon.

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Thinking about Dr. Tiller

I drop something heavy and then disappear for weeks and then come back with this. I’m all abortion all the time lately!

Three years ago today, I was 6 months pregnant sitting on the couch with the windows open. My husband was in the kitchen doing dishes from the brunch that we’d just finished eating. I had my laptop open on my lap, and said, “Holy shit,” as I reached for the TV remote.

“What?” my husband asked as he peered into the living room. “Fucking anti-choice zealots just fucking assassinated Tiller,” I said.

I spent the rest of the day yelling about violence against providers, and clinics, and methods of intimidation, and obsessively refreshing the news. CNN, Yahoo, AP… all of them. I wanted to know everything about what had happened.  I thought about Barnett Slepian, who was assassinated by a sniper in his home in 1998. I shed tears.

I was angry. I’m STILL angry. Acts of violence against providers and facilities that perform abortion happen ALL.THE.TIME. They are acts of terrorism.

They are committed in an effort to stop a legal practice from a occurring. They are committed to remind doctors and clinic workers that they aren’t safe. They are committed in the hopes that they will do enough damage, or take enough lives that people will get sick of being harassed, hurt, and living in enough fear for their lives that they will pack up and go home.

It’s absolute bullshit.

What Drs. Tiller and Slepian did, what Dr. Carhart does, what Dr. Means is trying to do is heroic, and I’m grateful to them for their persistence.

 

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I had an abortion.

I had an abortion.

I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I had it.

I’m not going to tell you what the circumstances around the pregnancy were.

I’m not going to tell you whether birth control was used or not.

I’m not going to tell you whether it was a wanted or an unwanted pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you how far along the pregnancy was.

I’m not going to tell you whether there was a genetic abnormality, or whether my life was endangered by the pregnancy.

I’m not going to tell you any of those things because I think answering those questions, creating the situation from which my experience unfolds offers someone, everyone, anyone, the chance to say, “She deserved to access abortion,” or “How dare she get pregnant and have an abortion,” or find some pity in their heart for whatever piece of my situation offers them the opportunity to justify their judgment, or their sense of false safety.

When I was in high school (so many years ago) we had a speaker come to talk with us about HIV and AIDS. He told us about what living with AIDS was like. What it was like to defecate in his bed at 3am and be unable to move by himself and having to call for his parents to come clean him. To live with the stares that people gave him when they saw the sores on his arms. To be asked, over and over and over, “Well, how did you contract the disease?” He said it was a question he never answered. Because the answer would muddy his message with pity or feelings of false safety. How he contracted the disease was irrelevant to the fact that he had it.

This is how I feel about my abortion. None of the, “How did it happen?” matters. It’s irrelevant.

What matters is that I was able to access abortion when I needed to. When I wanted to. When I was pregnant and had the need to no longer be pregnant. When I was desperate to not be pregnant.

I walked past anti-choice protestors with their signs, and listened to their shouting, “Don’t do this! Think of your baby! We’re praying for you!” I pushed past them as they blocked the sidewalk.

The facility that did the abortion had, what I’ve come to understand is, an abortion doula. She held my hand, asked me if I was okay. If I needed anything. She tucked the stray hairs from my ponytail behind my ear and told me that everything was going to be all right.

When it was over, I threw up.

I have never regretted my abortion. For a long time I didn’t talk about it. In fact, I’m only just beginning to talk about it. I’ve always felt that my experience was just that, my experience and didn’t need to be shared. (I will admit, I did fear negative repercussion. I feared facing hostile judgement.) But I’m learning that things we don’t talk about – abortion, miscarriage…are things that we NEED to talk about. *I* need to pipe up when I hear someone struggling and say, “I’ve had this experience, too. This was how it went for me.”

Silence equals shame. And I am not ashamed.

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Fuck you Bubba Carpenter

Mississippi State Senator Bubba Carpenter (R) sure is proud of himself.

[05/24/12 Edited to add: The Alcorn County GOP has restricted sharing on the video, so in order to see it, you will need to click through to You Tube. I recommend clicking through.]

Transcript from The Maddow Blog bold emphasis is mine.

“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 learned 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.”

First, I’d like to congratulate Rep. Carpenter, and all other representatives in the state of Mississippi who voted for this legislation, for their tireless concern for the moral character of their state. It takes true courage to dismiss the REALITY of unsafe, and dangerous illegal abortions. It takes a fine patriot to learn that people will perform their own abortions with coat hangers (Yes, this happened. Often with tragic results.) and IGNORE the knowledge. It brings a tear to my eye, really.

Asshole.

Rep. Carpenter, all you’ve achieved is to limit safe access to a normal healthcare procedure. You haven’t stopped abortion, you’ve encouraged it to become a back-alley procedure which may very well be performed by untrained, unskilled, and unscrupulous persons who care nothing for the safety of their patients and only for the cash they will have in hand.

Abortion will always happen. It happened before Roe v. Wade, it has happened since Roe v. Wade, and it will continue to happen as states such as Mississippi stand around patting themselves on the back for their “moral values.”

Sen. Carpenter, (The link will take you to a graphic police picture Gerri Santoro dead in her hotel room after a self-induced abortion in the 60s) THIS is what you’re proud of.

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What women deserve.

Yesterday I talked about what I demand. Today, take a listen to what Sonya Renee has to say about what women deserve. She’s powerful, and in your face about it.

There is a mostly accurate transcription here.

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Feminist Friday

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Kidlet and I at a pro-choice rally in Richmond a few weeks ago.

There’s another one tomorrow that I’m really disappointed I can’t make. The illustrious state of Virginia (the Board of Health, anyway) instituted some regulations a few weeks back that could put around 80% of the states abortion providers out of business. The rally tomorrow is to show Governor McDonnell that Virginia is a pro-choice state, and we’re pissed. LISTEN UP MCDONNELL. (I’ll interject here that one of the great weaknesses of Virginia is that governors can only serve one term at a time. So a governor really has no vested interest in keeping constituents happy – they’re done at the end of their four years. Makes it pretty hard, in my opinion, to put any pressure on the position.)

We’re on an impromptu vacation in the outer banks of North Carolina – what are you all up to this weekend?

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