Archive for the ‘Women & Pro-Choice’ Category

10 Things Amanda Marcotte Would Tell Anti-Choicers

July 28, 2011

This is a genius list. But first, recent abortion wars news:

Every day I read about absurd pieces of legislation that are specifically written to limit access to abortion or reproductive choice. Today’s Bill-O’-Fun-and-Oppression comes out of North Carolina.

Earlier this week the NC House managed to override the state governor’s veto on a bill that would require all women who seek an abortion to undergo a a 24-hour waiting period, an ultrasound, a detailed description of the fetus and state-mandated “counseling”. Today, the NC Senate  passed that bill 29-19.

This intrusive government-mandated health care now requires that every women have her ultrasound 24 hours in advance of the procedure, regardless of whether the woman is a victim of incest or rape or medical necessity, and regardless of whether she wishes to accept the state’s kind offer to waste her time with unsolicited, unnecessary medical procedures and lectures about “other options”. Book your hotel room now if you’ve traveled a distance to one of the eight cities in North Carolina that currently have abortion clinics – you’re going to be there for a few days. And so sorry if you can’t find the money for a hotel, or obtain transportation, or find childcare for several days, or take time off of work. Maybe you’d just better have that kid; in the short term it will be much easier than terminating your pregnancy. The pro-lifers in the North Carolina legislature can assure you of that.

And now on to Amanda Marcotte’s Awesome List of Awesome. Here are 10 very good points which people entrenched in the anti-choice movement ignore completely. But if you’re one of those people who have always identified as pro-life (then you’re probably not reading this blog, but just in case), but you’ve never really given the issue a lot of thought, check out Ms. Marcotte’s full article on AlterNet, in which she goes into detail about why each of the statements below is true. Or if you support reproductive rights, read her piece to brush up your knowledge on why abortion isn’t evil.

10 Things Amanda Marcotte Would Say to the Anti-Choice Fanatics Trying to End Access to Abortion

  1. Most abortions take place early in pregnancy.
  2. If not for anti-choicers, even more women would get abortions much earlier in their pregnancies.
  3. Doctors perform late term abortions because of medical indications, often on women who desperately wanted the baby.
  4. Women who get abortions aren’t afraid of being mothers.
  5. Abortion is physically safe.
  6. Abortion is mentally safe.
  7. Women who get abortions take responsibility for their decision.
  8. Abortion providers are responsible medical professionals who work to make sure their patients are healthy and avoid future unintended pregnancies.
  9. Women get abortions because they’re being responsible.
  10. Conservative policies cause the abortion rate to be higher than it needs to be.

Photos of PPFA Supporters

April 23, 2011

Yesterday I posted the story of my experience at the Good Friday  counter-protest that was held during the pro-life prayer vigil at Highland Park Planned Parenthood. Here are some of my favorite photos from yesterday, and here’s a big shout-out to everyone who took time on a Friday morning to show their support for men and women’s access to reproductive and sexual health.

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Planned Parenthood on Good Friday

April 22, 2011

Good Friday protesting is a tradition at the Highland Park Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, MN. Every year on this day a prayer vigil is held and hundreds of anti-choice supporters gather to pray to God for an end to abortion. In response, hundreds of pro-choice supporters gather to walk and cheer their support for the services that Planned Parenthood provides and a woman’s right to reproductive choice.

This is the first year that I’ve participated in the solidarity event, and the first time I have visited the Highland Park Planned Parenthood. I arrived at 7:30am and found a parking spot not too far from the clinic. Everything was very well-organized with cones, mobile fencing and plenty of uniformed police. An area for protesters was set up on one side of the clinic’s driveway, PPFA (Planned Parenthood Federation of America) supporters were on the other. There was a division between the two groups of about the length of the clinic itself, and the only people who were allowed to stop in this neutral zone were police and on-duty Highland Park clinic escorts.

The police and escorts were very good about keeping people from both groups off of the sidewalks and property unless they were walking through (that’s my way of saying I was wrist-slapped twice during the day for standing on the sidewalk while I took photos).  

Both groups were setting up when I arrived. I signed in at the pro-choice supporter’s booth, grabbed a sign (“Women’s Health Matters”) and joined a small group which had started walking clockwise around our “pen”.

The PPFA supporter sign-in area was in the clinic parking lot, but escorts did a great job of keeping the driveway entry clear for patients and staff.

At around 7:30am, the walk begins!

One of the first things I noticed as I was getting in line was a nearby run-down white building with a sign out front that said “Highland LifeCare Center”. I walked down to take a look.

Ugh. Yup – Crisis Pregnancy Center. CPCs usually position themselves close to clinics that provide abortions. This isn’t a medical clinic, but a “counseling” center. CPCs exist to try to keep women from getting abortions, and they have been known to use some pretty sneaky and underhanded tactics to achieve that goal. Bummer that this one is here.

8:00am and the crowds grow larger:

As time went on, more and more people showed up for both sides. There was no drama that I saw; both sides kept to themselves. The protesters chanted bible verses, sang hymns and church leaders showed up to give sermons and lead prayers. There were a few anti-choice signs, but nothing graphic, no bloody fetus replicas or yelling or screaming. I think that for most of them this was a pretty solemn occasion.

Okay, I swear that the appearance of the DQ Chicken Strip sign is purely coincidental and was not an attempt at humor. But it does kinda look like one of the marchers could be carrying it, doesn’t it? Pro-lifers for Chicken Strips!

There was little to do except chat, walk and cheer – which was a blast! I had a chance to meet some interesting people, including a lovely, charming woman who has been involved in the pro-choice movement since 1991. She told me about the illegal abortion she obtained back in the day, and how years she later she tracked down the doctor who had provided her abortion in order to thank him. I spoke with a gentleman who is interning with the MN National Organization for Women, and who I had met at the much chillier Walk4Choice back in February. And then I ran into some friends who I hadn’t even known were pro-choice supporters!


Walking at PPFA solidarity events is a great way to make new friends…


…and a good place to have surprise meet ups with current friends!

We were walking on Ford Parkway and there was a lot of passing traffic, a lot of supportive horn honking, and very little heckling. I did see one woman make a cross with her fingers (what are we – vampires? And get your hands back on the steering wheel, lady!), and I heard another walker exclaim, “I think that woman just hissed at us!” and start giggling. The supporters who drove by were very vocal and wildly waved out of their car windows or gave thumbs up. For those who didn’t agree with our message, well…Minnesota Nice kept them most of them politely disdainful and quiet.

Around 10am some of the PPFA supporters held a non-denominational service and sing-along.

And that was about it for me. There was a little drizzle, and the weather was cool, but not not horribly uncomfortable. I ended up leaving at around 11:30am when the crowds swelled so much that we could hardly move around our allotted space. I ran off to have lunch with the Hubby, and on the way back to his office we drove by and added some of our own honking and waving to the mix.

All in all, it was a really good experience and I’m glad I participated.

Clinic Escorting

April 13, 2011

In March I underwent clinic escort training for a women’s health center in Minneapolis. I am a strong supporter of a woman’s right to obtain affordable, confidential and safe abortions, and I believe that all people should have access to and information about sexual and reproductive health care. Being a clinic escort is one way for me to show my support for these issues and for the people who take advantage of these rights.

At the women’s health clinic at which I volunteer, a pro-life group has paid staff who stand outside and intercept women who have come to the clinic to have an abortion. These staff members hand out pamphlets filled with pictures of bloody tissue, stories from women who were “crippled by dispair and depression” because of their decision to have an abortion, and dubious or disproven claims about the links between abortion and breast cancer or future reproductive and sexual health. They walk alongside potential clinic patients and quote statistics at them or tell them to consider adoption or other alternatives to baby killing.

The women and men who come to the clinic often become exasperated, angry or distressed when these protesters get in their personal space and start speaking at them about abortion. They may yell back at the protesters, making a tense situation even more loaded. And as a clinic escort, do you know what I get to do in this situation?

I get to smile.

When a client approaches the clinic and is accosted by a protester, I get to stand off to the side in my bold yellow jacket that proclaims “clinic escort” on the front and smile, open the door to the clinic and motion them inside. That’s it. Nothing really world-saving there. I’m an unpaid doorwoman and it’s really easy work. But the relief on the clients’ faces at seeing a friendly, welcoming smile and having a guide past the aggressive in-your-face tactics of the protesters is the most incredible thing.

Last Saturday was my first day of escorting. There were  two of us escorting and four protesters, all of them regulars who are well-known to the clinic. We were all pretty nice to each other, considering we were diametrically opposed about the issue at hand. It felt very much like “you’re here to do your job, I’m here to do mine.” (and again – they’re *paid*, so they very literally were there to do their jobs).

At some point one of the ladies gently tried to hand me a pamphlet and I said “Look, while we’re out here together I’ll talk to you about anything you like except abortion.” She shrugged and we actually talked about the weather! She tried to slip abortion back into the conversation now and then, but each time I averted my gaze and sealed my lips. Then she’d sigh and go back to talking about her garden or grandkids. When a person or couple would approach the clinic, I would walk right next to the client(s) and distract them with chit-chat so the protester was relegated to speaking loudly at our backs. As soon as the client was inside the protestor and I would go back to discussing the weather.

It was an odd detente and I imagine a pretty good protester experience to have on my first day of escorting. I’m guessing they won’t all be this genial.

I learned about volunteering as a clinic escort from a twitter user named – appropriately enough – @clinicescort. Many Saturdays @clinicescort posts a tweet or two from the front lines about protests occurring at the clinic where she or he volunteers. I am always astounded by the spiteful, ignorant, close-minded vitriol that @clinicescort endures, but I am grateful that she or he is there to play interference for the clients of the clinic so that they can go about their day with less harassment. So far it seems like the protesters at my clinic are pretty benign – they don’t scream or unduly harrass, so small favors.

If you want more information about escorting, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email. And if you’re ever in downtown Minneapolis and you see me standing around in front of a building wearing a bright yellow jacket, make sure to give me a smile. I’ll certainly smile back.

Social Science and Stuff

March 30, 2011

Omigosh, I’m so excited to be going tonight to Party with the Pharaohs, the Science Museum of Minnesota’s first Social Science event for adults. I set up a page on Eventbrite to organize all of my fabulous science-minded friends for this evening, and some of y’all even accepted! I’m giddy. It’s going to be a blast, what with the mummies and the movies and the food and the cash bar and the live animal exhibition and the omnitheater and wheee!

So until tomorrow when I can tell you about how all of that went, here are some articles that caught my interest today:

  • Verbal and physical attacks on students are encourged by extremist animal rights group, Negotiation is Over. Reported on by Pharyngula, Respectful Insolence and Speaking of Research.
  • SlutWalk – A Toronto event that is speaking out against the idea that women who dress like “sluts” get what is coming to them. Covered by Almost Diamonds.
  • Abortion Crackers – What happened when a pro-choice store owner in a small town encountered an anti-choice consumer. Written by Liberal House on the Prairie.

Taking Maternity Leave Doesn’t Make You Worthless

January 28, 2011

I haven’t had a Dinkus of the Day in a while, but somehow I always find more.

Okla. official questions hiring pregnant woman

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A member of Oklahoma’s Board of Education drew heated reaction Thursday after saying a newly hired administrator would be “worthless” as a legislative liaison if she took immediate maternity leave.

Shortly after the board voted to hire Jessica Russell, who is due to give birth in April, former state Sen. Herb Rozell noted that she was pregnant and questioned whether she would be around for key days of the upcoming legislative session.

Russell was hired to represent the state Department of Education’s interests at the Capitol. The Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes Feb. 7 and must end its business by May 27.

“If she has that baby in April and takes off six weeks, she’s worthless to us,” Rozell said.

While there was some laughter in the room, state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi rebuked Rozell and ordered a 10-minute recess. Russell left the room in tears.

“Your comment is inappropriate and not worthy of this board and this department,” Barresi said.

After the meeting, Rozell said his words came out wrong.

“I didn’t mean to interfere. I was just hoping we could have her in April and May, because that’s when everything gets tied up,” he said.

Gov. Mary Fallin called Rozell’s remark “demeaning” and “disgusting,” while Sen. Clark Jolley and Sen. John Ford called for Rozell to resign. Jolley said Rozell’s comment was “archaic, misogynistic and deplorable.”

Rozell didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment about calls for his resignation.

Oklahoma has about 660,000 students in its public education system.

I’ve never had to take maternity leave, but I’ve worked with women who have. I’ve spoken with a few of them and asked if they ever had to worry about this kind of reaction. What sucks is that all of them expressed having some level of anxiety about notifying their boss that they were pregnant and would be taking leave, even at places that have track records of treating women and families with respect when it comes to maternity and paternity leave. Sen. Roznell’s attitude is why – women still don’t know if they’re going to run into this Dinkus in the workplace. Even if the boss gives you a perfectly PC response and congratulates you, is her or she really thinking “Great…now what am I going to do? How can she get pregnant now when I need her here? Should I put off promoting her if she’s planning to have a lot of kids?”

As if being pregnant isn’t challenging enough. 

Found on twitter via @miriamzperez

You can have a career, as long as you look good doing it.

December 20, 2010

Cross-Country Connections is going to be delayed by 24 hours due to extreme slackerdom and holiday-time distractions.  Until its arrival, I offer you a quote from Leslie M. McIntyre:

“Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-groomed and unaggressive.”

Does anybody know anything about Leslie M. McIntyre?  Google is failing me in my brief search; all I can find for “Leslie M. McIntyre” are references to the above quote, or possibly unrelated finds about random people named Leslie M. McIntyre who may have nothing to do with the quote.

In my search I did find this related quote from Gloria Steinem.  Not to worry, dear readers – Google totally knows who Gloria Steinem is.

“I’ve yet to be on a campus where most women weren’t worrying about some aspect of combining marriage, children, and a career. I’ve yet to find one where many men were worrying about the same thing.”

And with that, back to the end-of-year reports and experiments!

Boutique Academia Jewelry

December 1, 2010

Check out the cool jewelry at Boutique Academia!  I don’t know anything about the company, but their products look like they kick nerdalicious butt!  Boutique Academia was brought to my attention by Biodork visitor Su.  The website describes their jewelry as “smart-but-subtle accessories for women in science & technology. Stuff for geeks with taste.”

Hmmm…just in time for Christmas!

Would you lie?

October 15, 2010

Seen on Nothing to Do With Abroath

Original article: NZHerald

New Zealand museum bans pregnant women from attending exhibit

A clash of cultures over a rule forbidding pregnant or menstruating women to attend a Te Papa exhibit has been criticised by feminists. An invitation for regional museums to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of some of Te Papa’s collections included the condition that “wahine who are either hapu [pregnant] or mate wahine [menstruating]” were unable to attend.

Jane Keig, Te Papa spokeswoman, said the policy was in place because of Maori beliefs surrounding the Taonga Maori collection included in the tour. She said the rule was one of the terms Te Papa agreed to when they took the collection.

“If a woman is pregnant or menstruating, they are tapu. Some of these taonga have been used in battle and to kill people. Pregnant women are sacred and the policy is in place to protect women from these objects.”

If an object is tapu it is “forbidden” and in Maori culture it is believed that if that tapu is not observed, something bad will happen. Women who plan to attend the tour on November 5 are expected to be honest about whether they are pregnant or menstruating as a sign of respect to Maori beliefs.

So the argument for keeping certain women out of the special tour is because the women are sacred, forbidden, and need to be protected.  And if they do go on the tour, tapu will be violated and something bad will happen. 

I have nothing to lose in this debate, so I don’t know if I would lie or not to get in.  But if I was affected by this ban, I might.  Or I might try to organize a boycott or protest.  The group imposing the restrictions doesn’t have the right to insist that I respect their beliefs. They have a right to not let me see their private stuff, but do they have the right to open their collection to the public except for the people they don’t want to see it? This particular museum is a public institution that accepts public funding.

Does the owner of a private collection have a right to place restrictions on who gets to see it, even if they allow it to be displayed at a public institution?

If only I had a seestor with a concentration in museum studies…

Nice ad, Macy’s!

September 10, 2010

Yay, Macy’s!  I was flipping through a Macy’s advertisement this morning – which I usually don’t do, but I was waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, plus they had a kick-butt $10 off coupon on the front cover of the ad, so why not?

A few pages in I ran into a page dedicated to the clothing and accessories and saw this:

No, not the shoes – the beautiful, curvy, plus-size model in lingerie.  I thought, “Oh, I must have found the “women’s” section (read: the plus size clothes), but no!  There are no other lingerie or clothing ads in the pamphlet.  Macy’s chose to use a plus-size model as the only lingerie model in the entire ad, which is pretty awesome.

Maybe people are starting to figure out that not only can curves be sexy, but that it’s even okay to admit it!