Archive for Reproductive freedom

Forty Days against women’s health care

Those of you who follow Bitch, Ph.D. may already be aware of this, but for those who aren’t, here’s the nutshell version:

Operation Rescue plans on protesting women’s health clinics all over the country for 40 days, starting 23 September. You might wanna call your local clinic, if it’s on the list–mine is–and offer to help in whatever way they need it.

There’s a clinic less than seven miles away from me on the list. I called the same day the above was posted, but the clinic manager was unaware of the Operation Rescue harassment plan. I filled her in, gave her the web address for the list of targeted clinics, and emphasized my desire to help. She said she’d call me back. She didn’t. I called again a few days ago. The manager couldn’t come to the phone, so I left my name and number and reiterated that I wanted to support them. No call back.

At this point, I’m not sure what to do. If there’s an organized counter-protest afoot, I don’t want to undermine it by starting my own thing. On the other hand, how can I find out if there is one at all if no one will call me back? I can’t figure out whether they’re not returning my calls because they think I’m a sneaky pro-lifer trying to get inside information, or because they’re just too busy, y’know, providing health care to women (crazy thought, right?).

What I’d like to do is start a Pledge A Protester website* as a fundraiser for the clinic, whereby people pledge a certain amount – 10 cents, 50 cents, a dollar – per anti-choice protester. The more people who show up for Operation Rescue, the more money the clinic brings in. It doesn’t look too hard to set up (thank the gods for the “view source” button), and it shouldn’t step on anyone else’s efforts if other things are being planned. Does anyone here have any experience with something like this, or want to offer their web expertise in case I need help?

Any other ideas for how to support a clinic that won’t call me back?

*Linked Pledge-a-Picket website is for a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pennsylvania. Feel free to contribute to them, or wait until I get the Los Angeles one running – if indeed I can get one running at all. I’ll keep you updated on that.

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In which I make myself unpopular.

The woman in the grocery store smiled at my two shrieking monsters. “Two is perfect!” She lowered her voice to a confidential whisper. “Eight is too many.”

We’ve been getting so much of this sort of offhand remark, I’ve started to call them “octuplet-bys”. And I get it, I do: eight is a lot of babies. Fourteen, with the six already at home, is REALLY a lot of babies. Since the news broke, though, I’ve found myself awkwardly defensive of Nadya Suleman and her prodigious reproduction. Not because I think having eight children at once is a good or even neutral idea. I think it’s a terrible idea. But some of the criticism leveled at Suleman in this case seems to me to be misplaced and unfair.

It is totally valid to point out that having octuplets (or even the septuplets everyone thought she was carrying) is incredibly dangerous for the mother and all the babies. Any doctor who agreed to put eight embryos in the uterus of a woman – any woman, much less one with a proven history of successful pregnancy – should have his license taken away and maybe be hung up by his toes, or some other small, roundish, dangly bit. If, as has been widely speculated by Those Who Know About Such Things (meaning infertility bloggers and commenters), the woman obtained fertility drugs in some shady manner and got herself very knocked up and then refused to reduce the pregnancy, then it was incredibly stupid and irresponsible of her to do so, because of the above-mentioned risks to everyone’s health.

Much of the criticism I’m reading, though, has less to do with the health risks and more to do with moral outrage over the financial aspect. How dare this woman, who appears to be unmarried and not wealthy, proceed with a reproductive process and end result she can’t pay for? The internet is initially aghast at the prospect of the state footing the bill for these children. THEN word emerges that Suleman has obtained a publicist and is in negotiations to give interviews, and suddenly the focus of the fury shifts. A “famewhore,” some call her; there is rampant speculation that she had all fourteen kids for the money she would one day reap in reality show residuals.

We’re in the midst of some scary, scary economic times, and frankly I think this woman is catching backlash from a generalized anxiety about money right now. No matter how she ended up mama to a bajillion babies, she now has to support them and I do not blame her one tiny bit for doing whatever media gigs come her way in order to pay for those children.

It’s unfortunate, no, worse than unfortunate – it sucks that cases like this become the face of infertility. It makes it harder to persuade insurance companies to cover fertility treatment and increases the general public bafflement and hostility infertile people already encounter (we’re selfish, why don’t we just adopt?). And that’s another valid reason to criticize Nadya Suleman. But the Welfare Mom/Famewhore catch-22? I think we can ditch that little bit of nastiness.

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Let them know this is not okay.

On April 4th, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” ran a story about Thomas Beatie, the pregnant transman who recently appeared on Oprah with his wife. Scrupulously avoiding any appearance of reason or maturity, the anchors mocked Beatie and called him “disgusting.”

Fast forward to the 2:00 mark for the incredibly offensive segment.

I don’t have a lot of time for righteous indignation lately, what with the two babies and all, but after viewing this I clicked right over to the Morning Joe website, where there is a comment form that you can fill out and send in. I only wish it worked like one of the Harry Potter Howlers, and my epistle would arrive on the set and unfold itself in a glory of screaming paper, shredding itself with rage when it was finished.

I wrote:

I was completely disgusted not by the story of the pregnant transman (“Mr. Mom”, 4/4/08), but by your ignorant, bigoted, and offensive coverage of that story. I thought I was watching a group of junior high school students as you and your colleagues expressed such sophisticated opinions as “I’m going to be sick,” “we don’t want the facts,” and “I’m closing my eyes.”

As I sit here with my infant daughter in my arms, I am angered and saddened that you chose to heap your abuse upon a loving couple who have decided to have a child together. I am ashamed that I ever respected Mika Brzezinski back when I was growing up in Hartford, CT. Thank you, Ms. Brzezinski and co., for showing me how unworthy of that respect you are.

(There would have been more, but Wren was voicing her own discontent with the total lack of nipple in her mouth. A baby’s gotta eat, yo.)

(via Feministing)

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It’s Blog For Choice Day

Blog for Choice Day

NARAL Pro-Choice America wants to know why I vote pro-choice.

I vote pro-choice because I believe that women’s bodies are their own property, and not anyone else’s.

I vote pro-choice because, as someone who is currently 30 weeks pregnant, I am quite certain that no one should ever be forced to do this.

29 weeks 3 days (twins)

29 weeks 3 days (twins)

I vote pro-choice because I love my soon-to-be children, and want them to have all of the rights and opportunities that I have had.

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Pregnant ≠ Brainwashed

John Dias:

Just when I thought that you were so enamored of the gift of life that is now growing in your womb — the inherent goodness of that child — you prove yourself once again an ideologue.

Translation: What? Women keep thinking even after they’re knocked up?

I’ve actually been waiting for this moment. I knew, at some point, someone would assume that pregnancy had negated my feminism. Please let me assure you: it has only strengthened my beliefs. I want my children of either sex to have reproductive choice and freedom. I want my children to be artists like their parents, but I also want them to eventually solve the world’s most pressing problems of disease, hunger, and injustice, and I don’t want any path closed to them because of their sex, gender, or sexual orientation.

I believe that good parenting is, in large part, about being a good role model. If I want freedom and choice, opportunity and achievement for my children, then I have a duty to embody those things in my own life. And I intend to do so.

Sorry to disappoint, John! Oh, wait. No, I’m not.

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My new favorite blog

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Twins! So you can schedule a C-Section!

When we first started trying to get pregnant, I optimistically scheduled a meeting with Diane West, a midwife, to talk about my desire for a homebirth. Husband was very, very apprehensive about the idea, but after talking extensively with Diane, became convinced that this was indeed the way he wanted to do things too.

Well, flash forward two years: We’ve been through several rounds of Clomid, one IUI, and a clinical study that gave us a free IVF cycle. And voilà! We’re pregnant! And holy crap, it’s twins!

Poof! There go my dreams of the perfect homebirth. In California, midwives are not licensed to attend twin homebirths, and birth centers are regulated by the same laws as homebirths. And while I certainly respect those who choose to birth unassisted, that path is not for me. So off to the hospital we go! I’m not happy about it, but there it is.

A fertility clinic is, by definition, a highly medicalized environment. So it probably shouldn’t have come as quite the shock it did when the first thing the (otherwise wonderful) doctor said to me after “You’re having twins!” was “So you can schedule a C-Section!” I can’t even tell you how far up her eyebrows went when I mentioned that I was still hoping for a natural, vaginal birth. Nor can I convey the skepticism in her voice as she insisted that I check to make sure my OB was on the clinic’s “approved” list, and encouraged me to keep an open mind regarding C-Section.

I have an open mind regarding C-Section. If I have an OB 1) who is supportive of my desire for a natural birth, 2) who has generally low c-section rates, and 3) for whom I have good references from midwives, doulas, and former patients who chose natural births, and that OB tells me that a C-Section is necessary for me and/or my babies, then I’m going to trust her or him and have the surgery. Frankly, even if I got stuck in a lousy situation without the above-described OB, and someone told me I had to have a C-Section, I’d probably have it, because I’d be too frightened not to.

But that coercive, bullying scenario is precisely what I intend to avoid through careful research, and by ensuring that the OB to whom I entrust my life and the lives of my babies has our best interest at heart – not just “hospital policy” or his or her malpractice insurance. Fortunately, I have a fantastic husband, a great midwife, and a wonderful friend who just happens to be a doula, all of whom will be there to support me through this adventure.

Yes, the most important thing is that the babies are healthy, but a C-Section is major surgery, and doesn’t automatically equal a healthy baby. Nor does it automatically equal a healthy mother. When it’s necessary, it’s necessary, and while of course I’m glad it’s an option available in those cases, the fact is that almost 30% of births in this country right now are C-Sections, and they’re not all necessary.

Reproductive freedom is not only about choosing whether to give birth: it’s also about choosing how to give birth. I support every woman’s right to make that decision for herself, and to be fully educated as she works through her decision-making process. This is my choice, and my opinion, and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time up to and including several years after the babies are born.

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