Tag Archives: reproductive rights

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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Virginia and the state of the uterus

This is what went down in Virginia on Friday (9/14). If you don’t think it could happen where you live, if you want to write it off as “stuff that happens in the South,” or think, “Well, what do you expect, it’s Virginia,” you can probably go ahead and kiss my ass right now. This kind of shit can AND WILL happen anywhere in the United States. It’s not isolated to the red states, it’s not isolated to the south, or the midwest, or the southwest. IT IS EVERYWHERE.

I speak at the 5:05 mark, if you need a specific reason to watch. But you shouldn’t need one – you should watch because THIS is how this kind of stuff goes down.

How Virginia is Shutting Down Women’s Clinics from Kontra on Vimeo.


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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.


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 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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