Boston Walk For Choice

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Posts tagged with "reproductive justice"

Aug 3

Critiquing the Pro-Choice Frame: 10 Reasons to Rethink Reproductive Choice

Here are 10 compelling reasons why advocates for abortion rights should move away from “choice.”

1. Choice resonates most with women who see themselves as having choices; not with those who don’t. Because they are dealing with high rates of poverty and lack of access to education, jobs, and healthcare, low income and poor women often do
not experience reproductive decisions as choices.

2. Choice homogenizes reproductive experiences. Women’s reproductive lives vary tremendously, because they are shaped primarily by their race and class. White middle class women have gained increased control over their sexuality and reproduction with the legalization of contraception and abortion. Poor women and women of color have not.

3. Choice has not included the right to have children. Most often, reproductive oppression has consisted of attempts to prevent low income women and women of color from having children. While women of color have consistently resisted these practices and fought for their right to be mothers, the pro-choice movement has not.

4. Choice disconnects abortion from the rest of women’s lives. Like all other reproductive experiences, abortion occurs in the context of a woman’s entire life – including her economic and educational status, her sexual orientation, her other healthcare needs, and whether she is in a violent or abusive situation, has a disability, has other children, is incarcerated or homeless, and so much more. A woman brings all of these aspects of who she is to her reproductive decision-making. Therefore, while preserving the legal right to abortion is a central aspect of reproductive freedom, it is only one part of what is needed.

5. Choice is a conservative framing. “Choice” became the primary way of talking and thinking about abortion in the 1980s when advocates were overwhelmed by the power of the New Right and the growing anti-abortion movement. The mainstream reproductive rights movement responded by trying to widen its base of support to include people who were more conservative. Thus the movement became “pro-choice” instead of being for abortion rights, sexual rights, and insisting on women’s bodily autonomy.7 Pro-choice politics were framed defensively by what was considered winnable rather than by a positive vision of reproductive freedom.

6. Choice is a market concept. In our capitalist society, choices are consumer decisions. If something is for sale, then supposedly we can choose it. This model is not adequate for dealing with basic needs, especially when almost 50 million people in the U.S. have no health insurance at all.

7. Choice is individualistic. The underlying assumption of the choice framework is that an individual is responsible for her economic status and for solving her own problems. With this understanding, childbearing and abortion are privileges, not rights. That there are social, political, and economic conditions required to enable individual choices is completely invisible.

8. Choice focuses only on women's reproductive decisions. While women must have the right to decide whether to become pregnant or to continue a pregnancy, this is only one aspect of reproductive autonomy. Gay men, lesbians, and intersex and transgendered people are also fighting for reproductive, sexual and health rights. These include the right to be parents, to bear children and to have access to the technologies and services which support their parenting decisions. If we understand the right to abortion as a necessary aspect of bodily integrity, equality, and full citizenship, it is integrally connected to these other struggles.

9. Choice lacks moral force. In the abortion debate “choice” is pitted against life as the underlying ethical conflict, conceding the issue of “life” to the opponents of women’s rights. This allows the debate to center on the status/significance of fetal life as the primary moral question. Instead, advocates of abortion rights need to re-focus on the morality of forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term against her will and the ethical consequences of preventing women from terminating a pregnancy. At issue are women’s lives and livelihoods — their status, health, relationships, and ability to be in charge of the major decisions which affect their lives. Women who have abortions talk about them in terms of necessity and survival. Our language should reflect the significance that women attach to these actions.

10. Choice is not the adequately compelling vision needed to mobilize a broad and inclusive movement. Reproductive Justice provides that vision. Since abortion was legalized, the opposition has organized a movement aimed not just at re-criminalizing abortion, but one that is inspired by a holistic conservative vision of gender roles, familyand sexuality. Restoring traditional gender hierarchies and behavior, and taking back gains made by movements for women’s equality, gay liberation and reproductive rights, are all part of that agenda. In order to combat the multi-faceted nature of this attack, and to fully encompass the reproductive needs and concerns of all women, we must build a reproductive justice movement — a movement that is broad-based, linking issues and communities.

This is a slightly shortened version of the PDF on the linked bage, “10 Reasons to Rethink Reproductive ‘Choice’” by Marlene Gerber Fried.

What does everyone think of this?

Aug 2

Adoption as a Feminist Issue (... and maybe as a queer issue as well?)

resources on the history of the forced sterilization of indigenous women

a developing online archive of information about people of color and coercive sterilization.

From the site:

“Mississippi Appendectomy” 

Diagnosed with a small uterine tumor in 1961, Ms. Hamer checked into the Sunflower City Hospital to have it removed. Without her knowledge or consent, without any indication of medical necessity, the operating physician took the liberty of performing a complete hysterectomy.

Three years later, as a leader of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Ms. Hamer spoke about her experience to an audience in Washington D.C. – telling them that she was one of many black women in her area that had been a victim of a “Mississippi appendectomy” (an unwanted, unrequested and unwarranted hysterectomy given to poor and unsuspecting Black women). According to her research, 60% of the black women in Sunflower County, Mississippi were subjected to postpartum sterilizations at Sunflower City Hospital without their permission. A number of physicians who examined these women after the procedure was performed confirm that the practice of sterilizing Southern Black women through trickery or deceit was widespread.

The page goes on to describe forced sterilization among Native American, Romani, and Chinese populations.

Forms of sterilization abuse include sterilization procedures performed*:

  1. when a woman has not given consent because she was unconscious
  2. against the expressed will of the patient
  3. with false consent based on medical misinformation – women are not told that the procedure is permanent and irreversible, or that sterilization is only one among many contraceptive options
  4. with false consent under threat of losing welfare benefits
  5. with false consent under threat of deportation
  6. with false consent – when sterilization is aggressively encouraged by medical providers to women in stressful situations or when they women are given inadequate time to consider the procedure
  7. without fully-informed consent – because non-English speaking patients are not provided with interpreters in health care institutions
* This list was adapted from a 1977 statement made by the Chicago Committee to End Sterilization Abuse

(Source: versosdeliberacion)

jessicavalenti:

EMERJ and Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice have a great campaign, Strong Families, that is responding to the racist anti-choice billboards being put up in communities of color. Check out more videos on their YouTube channel.

Jul 8

Abortion in Norway compared to the USA

mooglets:

When I met Dr. Hauge in person, my sense of being on a different planet intensified. To summarize our conversation:

  • Abortion is “completely integrated” into the Norwegian health care system, paid for (like other medical procedures) by the government, and available virtually everywhere in the country;
  • ob/gyn residents are expected to undergo training in abortion provision, and though opt-out provisions exist, very few young physicians make use of them;
  • health care professionals involved in abortion provision are neither sanctioned by medical colleagues nor harassed by anti-abortion activists.

Abortion, in short, is largely a non-politicized issue, both within Norwegian medical circles, and the population at large.

A truly fascinating article. 

So that means Norway must have way more abortions than the US, right? And it must not care about mothers and children, right?

WRONG.

Norway, where abortion is freely available, subsidized by the government, and apparently not stigmatized, was recently named by a leading children’s advocacy group as “the world’s best place to be a mother” because of its family-friendly policies and excellent record of both maternal and infant mortality.

The United States, in contrast, notwithstanding the sanctimonious bows to motherhood by anti-abortion politicians, came in 31st—the worst of any developed nation, due mainly to its shameful record of both maternal mortality and under-five mortality.

Norway not only has a better record than the United States with respect to teenage pregnancies and births, but also has a lower abortion rate—a reflection, among other things, of Norwegians’ better access to contraception, its comprehensive sex education policies, and its generally more mature attitude toward human sexuality.

Jul 7

Why We Need Planned Parenthood: My Post for the "My Planned Parenthood" Blog Carnival

opinionessoftheworld:

Imagine you needed medical treatment.  Let’s say you needed insulin or heart surgery.  But no one in your state offered either medical service.  You’d be horrified, right?  Well now let’s imagine that same scenario only it’s for an abortion, or birth control or cervical cancer screenings.  Still horrified?  You should be because this is exactly what’s happening at the state level when it comes to reproductive health.  Anti-choice legislators are doing their damndest trying to fuck up your healthcare.   And that includes their attacks to defund Planned Parenthood.

Tami and Melissa from the fabulous blogs What Tami Said and Shakesville teamed up to create a blog carnival to support Planned Parenthood in their home state of Indiana (and elsewhere), which is facing defunding, and to encourage people to share their personal stories.

I’ve written before about how Planned Parenthood helped me.  I worked full-time (and part-time) putting myself through college.  Living paycheck to paycheck, I often went without health insurance so I could pay for rent and groceries.  I just simply couldn’t afford it.  I often worried…what if I had an accident?  What if I needed surgery?  Luckily, I was able to turn to Planned Parenthood for my exams and birth control.

If you’ve never had to ration your food throughout the week, stretching your dollars as far as they’ll go, or worry if your electricity would be turned off, you might not understand why people go without insurance or why someone would go to a clinic over the hospital.  Any time I ever visited a Planned Parenthood clinic, I felt at ease and never judged.  And I know I’m not alone; many women and men have turned to the non-profit for their health care.

Planned Parenthood covers a broad range of healthcare for women and men.  Some in the LGBTQ community feel more comfortable going to Planned Parenthood than a hospital as they’re often more sensitive to sexual orientation.  With abortion costs ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars (depending on how far along your pregnancy is) and increasing exponentially each week, abortions in a clinic cost less than if going to a hospital.  Planned Parenthood provides essential services, particularly to low-income women, including those in college.

As Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood expressed,

“These aren’t niche services that supplement to people’s regular health care. More than six out every ten women who receive care in a Title X family-planning health center say it’s their main source of health care –not a supplement, but a lifeline. That’s because 85 percent of them live at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and two thirds lack health insurance.”

In my own state of Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood serves over 34,000 patients, providing cervical cancer screenings, STI testing, breast exams and abortions.  Luckily, I live in a state that often supports pro-choice legislation.  Although trust me, it’s not quite as liberal as you might think.  But we’re not facing an uphill battle like they are in many other states.

It’s appalling how the federal government and state legislatures have been attacking funding and services for abortion, sex education, and reproductive health.  Federal bills H.R. 3, which restricts abortion coverage, passed the House and the Pence Amendment tried to eliminate Title X funding.  At the state level, reproductive rights face a barrage of attacks.  Just last week, Kansas almost became the first state with absolutely no abortion providers.  The Ohio House passed the heartbeat bill which would ban abortion at the first sound of a heartbeat, before most people would know they’re even pregnant.  South Dakota has mandatory waiting legislation.  Kansas, Idaho, Nebraska and Oklahoma have 20-week abortion bans.  Legislation for mandatory ultrasounds occurred in Florida and Texas.  Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia banned or restricted private and/or public insurance coverage of abortion and many other states are considering doing the same.  Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin face attacks on Planned Parenthood funding.  It makes my head spin to think about all of the anti-choice bills…there’s almost too many of them to keep track.

When discussing the war on reproductive rights, supporters often downplay the number of abortions Planned Parenthood provides, comprising only 3% of their services.  With anti-choice legislators seeking to eliminate all funding, it seems like a valid point to raise (and one I’ve raised myself) when Planned Parenthood doesn’t even receive federal funding for abortion services.  But as kick-ass reproductive justice activist Steph Herold astutely points out at RH Reality Check, we as pro-choice advocates and supporters shouldn’t be making those statements.  Abortion is a normal and vital part of healthcare; we shouldn’t diminish or stigmatize it.  Herold writes:

“We need to honestly address the good abortion/bad abortion dichotomy that we’re all guilty of perpetuating. All abortions are created equal. When we’re talking to the press or to our legislators about abortion, the message is often, “the majority of women abort in the first trimester!” Or, “it wasn’t her fault! She was raped!” This enforces the damning idea that abortions are ok for some women, those few “good” women who didn’t mean to get pregnant, who had an “acceptable” reason for an abortion. When we say that every woman deserves to have access to abortion care, we need our messaging to match. A woman who was raped deserves the same access to an abortion as a woman who is 28 weeks pregnant. Unless the pro-choice movement is fighting for the rights of ALL women to have abortions, we’re settling for less than women deserve, not to mention sending mixed messages to our supporters and to the women for whom we advocate.”

It’s clear that anti-choicers want to eradicate abortion.  But they won’t stop there.  They want to attack all healthcare for women and stigmatize their sexuality.  With funding cuts affecting low-income individuals and the racist, anti-choice billboards that sprung up in Los Angeles, Chicago and NYC, it’s clear that the anti-choice agenda is an assault on gender, race and class.  Planned Parenthood provides a beacon of hope for many women and men.  By stripping away funding and essentially services, people need to remember that many people won’t have anywhere else to turn for their healthcare.

Earlier this year, I marched in Boston’s Walk for Choice and Planned Parenthood rally to protest the offensive and misogynistic legislation seeking to strip people of their reproductive rights and essentially their bodily autonomy.  Medical decisions belong between a patient and their doctor, not the government.  Period.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll who spoke at the Planned Parenthood rally declared:

“I want my two daughters and my young son to grow up in a world that’s blind to gender and that supports essential services for women…we ask you to support Title X funding. Our health and that of our daughters depends on it.”

It was empowering to be surrounded by almost a thousand people protesting, chanting and standing up for our rights.  But I was taken aback that in this day and age, 38 years after Roe v. Wade passed, I’d have to take to the streets to fight for my reproductive rights.  It felt strange though…isn’t this what the women in my mother’s generation fought for?  Hadn’t this battle already been won?

Read all the posts participating in the My Planned Parenthood blog carnival and follow the #MyPP tweets!

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit - though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death - they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.

-

US Women Who Have Stillbirths Face Murder Charges

15 years old.

pregnant.

cocaine habit.

15 years old.

pregnant.

cocaine habit.

15 years old.

pregnant.

cocaine habit.

and this is what we see as a *criminal*—as a threat to society. In the olden days, this was a *child* that needed some serious fucking help and more than likely protection.

we prosecute people for feeding the homeless, we criminalize little girls that need fucking help, we deport workers whose bodies are falling apart, we call starving people “protecting our right to exist” and feeding those people terrorism…

(via radicallyhottoff)

I seriously hoped we’d reached the point where depraved-heart murders were gimmicks used on tv. SERIOUSLY PEOPLE.

(via therotund)

feministblackboard:

At the age of thirteen, Elaine Riddick was kidnapped, molested and raped. She carried her son too term and after he was born, by the decision of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, she was sterilized. How did this occur? At the time, Elaine was living with her illiterate grandmother who signed the form of consent for the procedure without knowing what it was about. What she did know, however, was that her granddaughter would be sent to an orphanage if she failed to comply. She signed the form with merely an X. (she was one of 7 siblings; the other five were sent to an orphanage already due to being taken out of custody of alcoholic parents) Why were such measures taken for this girl back in 1968? The Board deemed her to be both feebleminded and promiscuous.
Later on, her son, Tony Riddick went on record for saying that the Eugenics board of 1968 “was not far from the thinking of Hitler.”
It wasn’t until 2003 when Elaine and other victims of the sterilizations spoke out against the Eugenics Study Committee (which, by the way, mostly targeted low income people of color back in the day). Elaine, now 57 remarked, “When you’re a little girl, what do you want? You want to be a mommy. To find out that’s been taken away from you is devastating.” At this time North Carolina is thinking about giving each victim a 20 thousand dollar compensation to each of its victims, but in reality they probably will not be able to set aside the funds due to the republican controlled legislature. 

The fight for the right to terminate a pregnancy gets a lot of attention in feminist circles. We must never forget that the right to give birth is just as important. There are many stories like this of people who had their ability to have children taken away without their knowledge or informed consent. This is a tragedy and an injustice that we should be fighting against, as a part of fighting for reproductive justice for all people.

feministblackboard:

At the age of thirteen, Elaine Riddick was kidnapped, molested and raped. She carried her son too term and after he was born, by the decision of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, she was sterilized. How did this occur? At the time, Elaine was living with her illiterate grandmother who signed the form of consent for the procedure without knowing what it was about. What she did know, however, was that her granddaughter would be sent to an orphanage if she failed to comply. She signed the form with merely an X. (she was one of 7 siblings; the other five were sent to an orphanage already due to being taken out of custody of alcoholic parents) Why were such measures taken for this girl back in 1968? The Board deemed her to be both feebleminded and promiscuous.

Later on, her son, Tony Riddick went on record for saying that the Eugenics board of 1968 “was not far from the thinking of Hitler.”

It wasn’t until 2003 when Elaine and other victims of the sterilizations spoke out against the Eugenics Study Committee (which, by the way, mostly targeted low income people of color back in the day). Elaine, now 57 remarked, “When you’re a little girl, what do you want? You want to be a mommy. To find out that’s been taken away from you is devastating.”

At this time North Carolina is thinking about giving each victim a 20 thousand dollar compensation to each of its victims, but in reality they probably will not be able to set aside the funds due to the republican controlled legislature.

The fight for the right to terminate a pregnancy gets a lot of attention in feminist circles. We must never forget that the right to give birth is just as important. There are many stories like this of people who had their ability to have children taken away without their knowledge or informed consent. This is a tragedy and an injustice that we should be fighting against, as a part of fighting for reproductive justice for all people.

I Had Polio. I Also Have Sex

redplaanet:

The assumption that all disabilities — of hands, feet, hearing, sight — somehow also affect the ability and desire to have sex is common. It would be comic if it didn’t have such serious consequences: people with disabilities are rarely exposed to sex education and are almost never considered in need of information about H.I.V. and treatment for it.

(by Winstone Zulu)

People with disabilities are often left out of sex education and family planning, despite the fact that many are sexually active, some are wanting children, and some are already parents. This leaves PWDs without access to reproductive health services and especially vulnerable to HIV and other STDs.

Judge stays abortion law that defunded Planned Parenthood A federal judge has halted enforcement of a law cutting off funding  to Planned Parenthood of Indiana and other entities that provide  abortions.
 The ruling by U.S. District  Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on Friday night means Planned Parenthood, which  stopped serving its 9,300 Medicaid patients last week after running out  of donated funds, can again see those patients.
The judge  also enjoined a part of the law that would have taken effect July 1,  requiring doctors to tell patients seeking abortions that a fetus can  feel pain at 20 weeks or less.
Both were part of an  anti-abortion bill that passed the Republican dominated legislature with  significant support and was signed into law by Mitch Daniels.
Pratt’s  injunction means the two provisions cannot be enforced while she is  hearing a lawsuit, brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil  Liberties Union, arguing that those parts of the law should be struck  down.
Judge stays abortion law that defunded Planned Parenthood

A federal judge has halted enforcement of a law cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood of Indiana and other entities that provide abortions.

 The ruling by U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on Friday night means Planned Parenthood, which stopped serving its 9,300 Medicaid patients last week after running out of donated funds, can again see those patients.

The judge also enjoined a part of the law that would have taken effect July 1, requiring doctors to tell patients seeking abortions that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks or less.

Both were part of an anti-abortion bill that passed the Republican dominated legislature with significant support and was signed into law by Mitch Daniels.

Pratt’s injunction means the two provisions cannot be enforced while she is hearing a lawsuit, brought by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that those parts of the law should be struck down.