Tag Archives: prochoice

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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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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What are your demands?

A question posed in a Facebook group I’m a member of this weekend:

What demands do you have? What actions or legislation should be off limits? What constitutes being United Against the War on Women? Which women are allowed the freedom to control their own bodies?

A caveat: I’m not in love with the “war on women” rhetoric. I use it on occasion because, depending on my audience, I find it useful. (Which is probably just a function of me being too lazy to find another way to frame it neatly. And I should stop doing that.) But I also find it limiting. This war isn’t just about women. It has great consequence for people who don’t fall neatly into one of the gender binary options that exist, and it’s about families. And it’s easier if you just go read what Spectraspeaks has to say about unity.

I spent the night thinking about this question. It’s a GOOD question. It’s a question that seems like it should have an obvious answer, but when you drill down, and start to think about how to answer it…there’s a lot that rises up.

From where I sit, in my cisgender, hetero-partnered, middle class white woman chair, this is what I demand*:

  • I demand that the stupid fucking M/F checkbox be erased from every form that gets filled out – ESPECIALLY in health care (what if you don’t fit neatly into one of those boxes? Already you’re someplace that DOES NOT WELCOME YOU).
  • I demand to stop being asked if I’m married (another favorite form question) because that NECESSARILY ignores anyone who is PREVENTED FROM BEING MARRIED, or chooses to participate in any other permutation of non-legally recognized, consensual relationship.
  • I demand that everyone to be able to access reproductive services at no cost to themselves. Yes, I believe the government should PAY FOR BIRTH CONTROL, and yes, ABORTION. My child has been an amazing addition to my life, but that’s not the case for everyone. People should NEVER be forced to birth a child because they didn’t have any other option. CHILDREN ARE NOT A PUNISHMENT.
  • I demand that the 85% of counties in Virginia that don’t have abortion providers get them. Do they have primary care doctors in those counties? Okay, they NEED to provide abortions too. (I know that rural parts of the country struggle to have consistent primary care providers – let’s work on that, too.)
  • I demand, safe, legal, accessible, affordable, subsidized abortion on demand for whoever needs or wants it for whatever reason. (I took this directly from my amazing friend scATX. She breaks it down on her blog.)
  • I demand that all people be free to exercise domain and consent over their own bodies without government intrusion.
  • I demand that people be free from forcible bodily intrusion under the guise of necessary medical care. (I’m looking at YOU Governor Perry.) (Doonesbury gives it to you in comic form.)
  • I demand accessible prenatal care (doctors that work nights and weekends would go a LONG way to making health care accessible. Ever tried to schedule a doctors appointment with an obstetrician who runs late on your 30 minute lunch break?)
  • I demand paid parental leave. Yes, PAID PARENTAL LEAVE. It’s valuable for everyone.
  • I demand that companies recognize that people can be dedicated to their jobs AND their parenting.
  • I demand no-cost, safe, and convenient daycare. If there are 2 subsidized daycares in a town of 50k people that spans miles, that’s not enough. And I don’t want subsidized anyway. I want it paid for by the state.
  • I demand 24 hr daycare. The common 7:30am – 6pm daycare schedule is useless if you work nights, or work noon- 8pm, or start work at 6am, or don’t get off until 7pm. Employment is a 24 game these days – daycare needs to catch up.
  • I demand that non-wage earning parents be paid. They are penalized once for taking care of children and having no earnings, and they are penalized again for not contributing to their credit rating, and their social security credits.
  • I  demand it be recognized that some people don’t want children AND THAT’S OKAY.

Start legislating HELP instead of looking for ways to hurt. Ask, “How can we help?” before jumping in. LISTEN. Give people the opportunity to tell you what they want. Stop talking about what YOU THINK they want.

What do YOU demand?

*When I wrote this everywhere you read the word ‘demand’ I originally used ‘want.’ And then as I was proofing it, I realized that I was asking. And I wasn’t answering the question. The question asked why my demands were, not what my wants were. Language is everything.


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Activism in spoken word

This is…I don’t even have the words to describe how amazing it is. Goosebumps. (h/t to Radical Doula – where I saw it.)

[ETA: Trigger warning – the video and transcript contain discussion of rape, and non-consensual sexual violence.]

“If you want to write your Bible on my organs, then you better be there when I am down on my knees pleading from relief from your morality.”

(I typed a full transcript after the video in case you want to read it. The formatting is awful, but I think I got all the words right.)

Lauren Zuniga, To The Oklahoma Law Makers: a poem

To the Oklahoma law makers who will force all women to receive an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

Why don’t you print out the ultrasound pictures in pastel frames.
Make me take them home and hang them on my wall as a souvenir of the night that is branded like red coals to flesh on my memory.
The night when his hand pressed so hard against my shoulder blade I felt more intimacy with asphalt.
Why don’t ya knit the baby a sweater?
Make me take it out and smell it on the anniversary of this day for the rest of my life to remind me that I chose to be a murderer
instead of bringing a child into a world where we kill people in the name of freedom, but imprison people in the name of life.
You could pass laws for that too, you know?
It’s bad enough that I can still see his handprints on my thighs.
But now I can see your probing eyes scraping across my cervix, tattooing my womb with shame.
Why don’t you send me a card every Mother’s Day to remind me of how wretched I am? Sign it, ‘Your friends at the state capital making sure you know we actually do something all day with your tax dollars. “
Look, I know it can get boring, between the porker’s association breakfasts and the oil and gas industry lunch.
And I know you need something to do, between screwing up our election system and passing off your racism as an immigration bill.
But I need a little more from you than a piece of paper.
I mean, if you really want to show me that you believe in faith, family, and freedom, then why don’t you come along for the ride.
I could’ve used you that night.
After the football game.
Him finally showing me attention
Me grasping for acceptance
Tell me I’m special
So when he hands me the next drink, I don’t look to the bottom of it for approval.
Tell me to scream louder
So someone might find us
Wrap me in a blanket when he’s done
Take me home.
My body a tapped keg
My heart the grimey gym floor after the pep rally
Give me the words to say to my parents when I come out of the bathroom with a plus sign on the stick
And he won’t even talk to me
The school hallway is a canyon
Silence echoes in my skull
And I don’t even know what to do.
Tell me what to do.
Sit with me at the clinic
The ticker plucking away at my innocence
Give me the revelation
That the blip on the screen
Is actually a baby.
Take me home when I change my mind.
Take me to the doctor every month
Hold my hand in the delivery room
I will name him after you, if you will help me do my homework
When he’s crying in the next room.
Give me food stamps,
Pay my gas bills,
Put him in an afterschool program
Where he learns he can sell my pain pills
Have mercy on him when he goes to court
Give me strength when they sentence him
If you want to play God, Mr. and Mrs. Lawmakers,
If you want to write your Bible on my organs
Then you better be there
When I am down on my knees
pleading for relief
from your morality


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