Tag Archives: abortion

Women: Second Class Citizens

First off- my apologies for the lack of updates; I’m still adjusting to my new work schedule- finding time for updates had been on the back burner. Now on to the infuriating article ahead.

For those of you paying attention to political parties these days, or to new and interesting laws seeming to creep up without the public ever knowing about their creation, this article will serve as a blood-boiling recap of the absurd and disgusting politics surrounding women and women’s health. If you have not been paying attention- hold on to your pantyhose, because you are not going to believe this sh*t.

10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Is Nuts

This week the Georgia State Legislature debated a bill in the House, that would make it necessary for some women to carry stillborn or dying fetuses until they ‘naturally’ go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigsin the same situation.

I have a question for Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and too many others: I have three daughters, two of them twins. If one of my twins had been stillborn would you have made me carry her to term, thereby endangering both the other twin and me? Or, would you have insisted that the state order a mandatory fetal extraction of the living twin fetus from my womb so that I could continue to carry the stillborn one to term and possibly die myself? My family is curious and since you believe my uterus is your public property, I am, too.

Mr. England, unlike the calves and pigs for which you expressed so much empathy, I am not a beast of burden. I am a woman and I have these human rights:

The right to life.
The right to privacy.
The right to freedom.
The right to bodily integrity.
The right to decide when and how I reproduce.

Mr. England, you and your friends do not get to trade these rights, while “dog and hog hunting,” in return for a young man’s chickens.

My human rights outweigh any you or the state corruptly and cynically seek to assign to a mass of dividing cells that will eventually turn into a ‘natural’ person. Personhood-for-zygote based bills and related legislation, like Georgia’s and hundreds and hundreds of others, bills and laws that criminalize pregnancy and abortion and penalize women for being women, violate my human rights.

Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean I cannot think clearly, ethically, morally, rationally about my body, human life or the consequences of my actions. Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean that I do not have rights when I am pregnant. I have responsibility but am powerless. You have power but are irresponsible with my rights.

By not trusting me, you force me to trust you. And YOU are not trustworthy.

I gestate humans, you do not. I know how it feels to be pregnant. You do not. I know what happens to a fetus in a womb. You do not. I have carried three fetuses to term. You have not. What I experience when I am pregnant is not empathy. It is permeability. The fetus is me. And the state is you, apparently. But, no matter what you say or do I have fundamental human rights. What makes you think that you, who cannot have this fully human experience, can tell me anything about gestation or how I experience it? Especially when you compare my existence and experience to that of brutish animals.

The rest of the civilized world thinks this country has lost its mind. It’s no wonder. Look at this list of frenzied misogyny:

1. Making women carry still-born fetuses to full term because cows and pigs do. This week, Mr England, you supported a bill, the net effect of which, taken tandem with other restrictions, will result in doctors and women being unable to make private, medically-based, critical care decisions and some women being effectively forced to carry their dead or dying fetuses. Women are different from farm animals, Mr. England, and this bill, requiring a woman to carry a dead or dying fetus is inhumane and unethical. By forcing a woman to do this, you are violating her right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and tortured. And, yes, involuntarily carrying a dead fetus to term, although not torture to you or to a pig, is torture for a woman. It is also a violation of her bodily integrity and a threat to her life and as such violates her right to life.

2. Consigning women to death to save a fetus. Abortions save women’s lives. “Let women die” bills are happening all over the country. There is no simple or pretty way to put this. Every day, all over the world, women die because they do not have access to safe abortions. Yet, here we are, returning to the dark ages of maternal sacrifice. Do really have to type this sentence: this is a violation of women’s fundamental right to life.

3. Criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriages and arresting, imprisoning and charging women who miscarry with murder, like Rennie Gibbs in Mississippi or at least 40 other similar cases in Alabama or like Bei Bei Shuai, a woman who is now imprisoned, is charged with murder after trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Pregnant women are becoming a special class subject to “special” laws that infringe on their fundamental rights.

4. Forcing women to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration (otherwise called rape) with a condom-covered, six to eight-inch ultrasound probe. Pennsylvania is currently considering that option along with 11 other states. Trans-vaginal ultrasounds undertaken without a woman’s consent are rape according to the legal definition of the word. This violates a woman’s bodily integrity and also constitutes torture when used, as states are suggesting, as a form of control and oppression. Women have the right not to be raped by the state.

5. Disabling women or sacrificing their lives by either withholding medical treatment or forcing women to undergo involuntary medical procedures. We impose an unequal obligation on women to sacrifice their bodily integrity for another. For example, as in Tysiac v. Poland, in which a mother of two, became blind after her doctor refused to perform an abortion that she wanted that would have halted the course of a degenerative eye disease. If my newborn baby is in need of a kidney and you have a spare matching one, can I enact legislation that says the state can take yours and give it to her? No. We do not force people to donate their organs to benefit others, even those who have already been born. One of the most fundamental of all human rights is that humans be treated equally before the law. Denying a woman this right is a violation of her equal right to this protection.

6. Giving zygotes “personhood” rights while systematically stripping women of their fundamental rights. There is too much to say about the danger of personhood ideas creeping into health policy to do it here. But, consider what happens to a woman whose womb is not considered the “best” environment for a gestating fetus in a world of personhood-for-zygote legislation: who decides the best environment — the state, her insurance company, her employer, her rapist who decides he really, really wants to be a father? Anyone but a woman.

7. Inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion, including abortions sought by rape victims to end their involuntary insemination, imposing restrictive requirements like 24 hour wait periods and empowering doctors to lie to female patients about their fetuses in order to avoid prosecution. In Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas and other states around the country bills that make women “pay” for their choices are abounding.

8. Allowing employers to delve into women’s private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she choses to use birth control. In Arizona, which introduced such a bill this week, this means covering payment for birth control as a benefit only when a woman has proven that she will not use it to control her own reproduction (ie. as birth control). As much as I am worried about women and families in Arizona though, I am more worried about those in Alabama. You see, as recently revealed in a public policy poll in Alabama, conservative, evangelicals who support “personhood” related “pro-life” legislation and are fighting for their “religious liberty” — 21 percent think interracial marriage should be illegal. So, what if they decide that an employee involved in an interracial marriage should not, by divine mandate, reproduce? Do they switch and provide birth control for this employee? Do they make contraception a necessary term of employment for people in interracial marriages? This violates a woman’s right to privacy. My womb is one million times more private than your bedrooms, gentlemen.

9. Sacrificing women’s overall health and the well-being of their families in order to stop them from exercising their fundamental human right to control their own bodies and reproduction. Texas just did that when it turned down $35million dollars in federal funds thereby ensuring that 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic preventive and reproductive health care.

10. Depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Bills, like this one in Arizona, allow employers to fire women for using contraception. Women like these are being fired for not.

You presume to consign my daughters and yours to function as reproductive animals.

This is about sex and property, not life and morality. Sex because when women have sex and want to control their reproduction that threatens powerful social structures that rely on patriarchal access to and control over women as reproductive engines. Which brings us to property: control of reproduction was vital when the agricultural revolution took place and we, as a species, stopped meandering around plains in search of food. Reproduction and control of it ensured that a man could possess and consolidate wealth-building and food-producing land and then make sure it wasn’t disaggregated by passing it on to one son he knew was his — largely by claiming a woman and her gestation capability as property, too.

This is not about freedom of religion. If it were, we would, for example, allow Christian Scientists to refuse to pay for coverage of life-saving blood transfusions for employees. Religious freedom means I get to chose whether or not to be religious and if so, how. It does not mean that I get to impose my religion on others. Paying for insurance is part of the way we compensate employees, even when they use their insurance in ways we don’t agree with and are in contravention of our own personal beliefs. I think that it is stupid, dangerous and immoral to chain smoke, especially around children whose lungs it irreparably harms. But, I still have to pay for an employee to have access to lung scans, nicotine patches and oxygen tanks. I do not get to say that my religious beliefs, which include keeping bodies as healthy as possible, make it possible for me to withhold payment of this employee’s insurance. Guaranteed coverage of contraception and reproductive health care has overwhelming benefits for society, including reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. By inserting your religious beliefs so egregiously into government legislation and my life, you are imposing your religious beliefs on me. You don’t like mandated insurance coverage for basic reproductive health humans with two X chromosomes? I don’t like being bred by state compulsion like Mr. England’s farm animals. I have a MORAL OBJECTION to being treated like an animal and not a human. You do not have to use contraception, you do not have to use birth control. But, that does not mean you have any right to tell me that I cannot if I chose. That is my right.

Property, control, sex, reproduction, morality, defining what is human. Sounds a lot like issues surrounding slavery 170 years ago. It is no surprise that of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-miscegenation laws, but rather had them overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967 more than half have introduced personhood bills. Like anti-miscegentation laws, anti-choice laws and bills that humiliate women, that treat them like beasts, that violate their bodily autonomy, are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. These laws are not about “personhood” but “humanity.” That women of color are massively, disproportionately affected by these assaults on their bodies and rights should also come as no surprise – their rights and their bodies have always been the most vulnerable assault.

This is about keeping women’s wombs public and in other people’s control — the exact opposite of private and in their own control.

And, yes, I do know how complicated the ethics, bioethics and legal arguments related to these decisions are. You, apparently, do not. If you were truly concerned with sustaining life and improving its quality or in protecting innocent children, you would begin by having compassion and empathy for living, born people that require and deserve your attention. You feed them, educate them, lift them from poverty and misery. You do not compound these problems as you are with twisted interpretations of divine will. Only after that do you have the moral legitimacy to entertain the notion of talking to me about my uterus and what I do with it. By then, fully functional artificial wombs should be available and you can implant your own, since you are so fond of animal analogies, as was completed with this male mouse. What you are doing is disgraceful, hypocritical and morally corrupt.

And, no, I am not crazy. I am angry.

Mr. Santorum, Mr. England and Mr. Brownback and Mr. Perry you should consider not clinging so dangerously and perversely to the Agrarian Revolution ideas. Birth control and safe abortions are life-saving technologies. These archaic bills and laws, wasteful of time, money and lives, obscure an enduring and unchangeable truth: safe and effective family planning is the transformative social justice accomplishment of the 20th century. They will not go away. This is a revolution, too.

In an 1851 speechin which she argued for equal rights for women, Sojourner Truth said the following: “The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble.”

Do you, Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and friends even know who Sojourner Truth is?

This post has been updated since its original publication.

 Follow Soraya Chemaly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/schemaly

 

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New Laws Imposed on Women

I understand that many people are against abortion and would like to see abortion become illegal across the United States- I am not one of those people. I believe all options (and education) should be made available for women to promote healthy and responsible decision-making. Virgina, however, a state that is loath to provide abortive services to begin with, thinks that the best way to end abortion is to forcibly assault the woman seeking such abortive services. Continuing our look into women’s health we find this gem of an article and new bill that PASSED through legislature forcing women to undergo an invasive procedure before they are permitted to receive abortive services. So Virginia, does raping women (potentially women who are trying to abort a rapist’s fertilized seed) make them understand that you think abortion is bad? So criminal sexual contact makes women less pregnant? Unbelievable.

Virginia’s Proposed Ultrasound Law Is an Abomination

Under the new legislation, women who want an abortion will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. Where’s the outrage?

By Dahlia Lithwick

This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a billthat would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

What’s more, a provision of the law that has received almost no media attentionwould ensure that a certification by the doctor that the patient either did or didn’t “avail herself of the opportunity” to view the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat will go into the woman’s medical record. Whether she wants it there or not. I guess they were all out of scarlet letters in Richmond.

So the problem is not just that the woman and her physician (the core relationship protected in Roe) no longer matter at all in deciding whether an abortion is proper. It is that the physician is being commandeered by the state to perform a medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman, despite clear ethical directives to the contrary. (There is no evidence at all that the ultrasound is a medical necessity, and nobody attempted to defend it on those grounds.) As an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot put it recently, “Under any other circumstances, forcing an unwilling person to submit to a vaginal probing would be a violation beyond imagining. Requiring a doctor to commit such an act, especially when medically unnecessary, and to submit to an arbitrary waiting period, is to demand an abrogation of medical ethics, if not common decency.”

Evidently the right of conscience for doctors who oppose abortion are a matter of grave national concern. The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial. Don’t even bother asking whether this law would have passed had it involved physically penetrating a man instead of a womanwithout consent. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument about the obscene government overreach that is the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law. Yet physical intrusion by government into the vagina of a pregnant woman is so urgently needed that the woman herself should be forced to pay for the privilege.

The bill will undoubtedly be enacted into law by the governor, Bob McDonnell, who is gunning hard for a gig as vice presidentand has already indicated that he will sign the bill. “I think it gives full information,” he said this week on WTOP radio’s “Ask the Governor” program. “To be able to have that information before making what most people would say is a very important, serious, life-changing decision, I think is appropriate.”

That’s been the defense of this type of ultrasound law from the outset; it’s merely “more information” for the mother, and, really, what kind of anti-science Neanderthal opposes information? Pretending that this law is just a technological update on Virginia’s informed consent laws has another benefit: You can shame and violate women, while couching it in the language of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s gift that keeps on giving—his opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart. That opinion upheld Congress’ partial-birth abortion ban on the grounds that (although there was no real evidence to support this assumption) some women who have abortions will suffer “severe depression” and “regrets” if they aren’t made to understand the implications of what they have done.*

Never mind that the evidence indicates that women forced to see ultrasound images opt to terminate anyhow. According to the American Independent, a new study by Tracy Weitz, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that “viewing an ultrasound is not an indication that a woman will cancel her scheduled procedure, regardless of what emotional response the sonogram elicits.” Weitz summarized her findings in 2010 when she said that “women do not have abortions because they believe the fetus is not a human or because they don’t know the truth.”

Of course, the bill is unconstitutional. The whole point of the new abortion bans is to force the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade. It’s unconstitutional to place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, although it’s anyone’s guess what, precisely, that means. One would be inclined to suspect, however, that unwanted penetration with a medical device violates either the undue burden test or the right to bodily autonomy. But that’s the other catch in this bill. Proponents seem to be of the view that once a woman has allowed a man to penetrate her body once, her right to bodily autonomy has ended.

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that“in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)

That’s the same logic that animates the bill’s sponsor in the House of Delegates, Del. Kathy J. Byron, who insisted this week that, “if we want to talk about invasiveness, there’s nothing more invasive than the procedure that she is about to have.” Decoded, that means that if you are willing to submit to sex and/or an abortion, the state should be allowed to penetrate your body as well.

I asked Del. Englin what recourse there is for the ultrasound law, and he told me that the governor, while unlikely to veto the bill, still has the power to amend it to require the patient’s consent or say that physicians can opt not to do the vaginal probe. One might hope that even the benign act of giving women “more information” not be allowed to happen by forcing it between her legs. Or is that what we call it these days?

Whatever happens in the commonwealth, it’s fair to say it’s no accident that this week the Legislature also enacted a “personhood” law defining life as beginning at conception—a law that may someday criminalize contraception and some miscarriages as well as abortion. Today was not a good day in the War on Women. Abortion is still legal in America. Physically invading a woman’s body against her will still isn’t. Let’s not casually pass laws that upend both principles in the name of helping women make better choices.

Corrections, Feb. 16, 2012: This article originally misidentified the Virginian-Pilot as the Virginia-Pilot. The article also mistakenly characterized Gonzales v. Carhart as striking down the partial-birth ban. It also misidentified Del. David Englin as a representative.

http://mobile.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/virginia_ultrasound_law_women_who_want_an_abortion_will_be_forcibly_penetrated_for_no_medical_reason.html


Women’s Health Under Fire

Again, women’s health is under scrutiny and planned parenthood will be losing thousands of dollars in support.

Give Komen the Pink Slip: Five Ways to Support Women’s Health for All

News broke Tuesday afternoon that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, the omnipresent charity battling breast cancer, is pulling hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of grants it had awarded Planned Parenthood to fund cancer screenings. The official reason? A new rule forbids the organization from funding any group currently under investigation in Congress. (Planned Parenthood is being investigated by legislators who oppose abortion rights and want to make doubly sure federal funds aren’t being used for abortions). But many assume Komen caved to anti-abortion activists, and possibly to anti-choice higher-ups within the foundation.

At best, this decision is spineless. At worst, it’s cruel. Rescinding the Planned Parenthood funding implies that the only women who deserve to receive breast cancer screenings are those who can afford a private doctor. Three million women and men visited Planned Parenthood last year. Over the past five years, Susan G. Komen allowed the health centers to provide nearly 170,000 breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals.

If you’re pissed off, show it with your dollars—even if you can only part with a few of them. And afterwards, be sure to tell the Komen Foundation where your money went.

Donate to Planned Parenthood. The obvious choice is to compensate for what Planned Parenthood has lost. The organization received $680,000 from Susan G. Komen last year alone, and virtually every dollar was used for breast exams. That leaves a gaping hole in their funding. Help fill it here (and make sure to mark it “for mammograms”).

Support a breast cancer organization with some integrity. Not every organization will sell out women’s health to please anti-abortion rights legislators. Some anti-cancer advocacy groups make their feminist messages explicit and central. Breast Cancer Action, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the Women’s Community Cancer Project are three that have genuinely feminist roots.

Help the women the Komen Foundation has ignored. Awareness isn’t enough—some women just can’t afford breast cancer screenings. Women of color and poor women will be hurt most by the foundation’s decision. Donating to places like the African American Breast Cancer Alliance or Black Women’s Health Imperative will help these women get the medical attention they need.

Prop up a pro-choice, pro-woman organization. A strike against Planned Parenthood is a strike against women’s health in general. If breast cancer is too specific a cause for you, donate to a women-centered organization that provides crucial sex and health information, like Our Bodies, Ourselves or the National Women’s Health Network.

Support your local women’s clinic. Planned Parenthood is the most ubiquitous group of health clinics in the country, but there are other local women’s health clinics that provide breast exams, and they’re likely struggling even more. Places like the Chicago Women’s Health Center or the Cedar River Clinics could really use some cash, too. Or donate to your local abortion fund—access to a safe abortion may be more of a political lightning rod than breast cancer screenings, but it’s no less essential.

Source: http://www.good.is/post/give-komen-the-pink-slip-five-ways-to-support-women-s-health-for-all


Get Over Rape

A friend posted this piece from the Huffington Post website. I unfortunately do not have a direct link, so I cannot provide the source link for you, but I do have the author’s name: Ms. Eve Ensler.  I find her words to be strong, direct, emotional and biting… and also true. Being exposed to women and men who have had their lives shattered by assault and rape allows you to see a side of the world that most people never seem to even acknowledge. Seeing the writing of women like Ms. Eve Ensler moves me and nearly compels me to believe that there is hope for change in the attitudes surrounding assault. The change I hope for can only be brought about by all of us- all of us who stand against rapists, not victims.

“I am over rape.

I am over rape culture, rape mentality, rape pages on Facebook.

I am over the thousands of people who signed those pages with their real names without shame.

I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.

I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are really fucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.

I am over how long it seems to take anyone to ever respond to rape. I am over Facebook taking weeks to take down rape pages.

I am over the hundreds of thousands of women in Congo still waiting for the rapes to end and the rapists to be held accountable.

I am over the thousands of women in Bosnia, Burma, Pakistan, South Africa, Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Afghanistan, Libya, you name a place, still waiting for justice.

I am over rape happening in broad daylight.

I am over the 207 clinics in Ecuador supported by the government that are capturing, raping, and torturing lesbians to make them straight.

I am over one in three women in the U.S military (Happy Veterans Day!) getting raped by their so-called “comrades.”

I am over the forces that deny women who have been raped the right to have an abortion.

I am over the fact that after four women came forward with allegations that Herman Cain groped them and grabbed them and humiliated them, he is still running for the President of the United States.

And I’m over CNBC debate host Maria Bartiromo getting booed when she asked him about it. She was booed, not Herman Cain.

Which reminds me, I am so over the students at Penn State who protested the justice system instead of the alleged rapist pedophile of at least 8 boys, or his boss Joe Paterno, who did nothing to protect those children after knowing what was happening to them.

I am over rape victims becoming re-raped when they go public.

I am over starving Somalian women being raped at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, and I am over women getting raped at Occupy Wall Street and being quiet about it because they were protecting a movement which is fighting to end the pillaging and raping of the economy and the earth, as if the rape of their bodies was something separate.

I am over women still being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it’s their fault or they did something to make it happen.

I am over violence against women not being a #1 international priority when one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime — the destruction and muting and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself. No women, no future, duh.

I am over this rape culture where the privileged with political and physical and economic might, take what and who they want, when they want it, as much as they want, any time they want it. I am over the endless resurrection of the careers of rapists and sexual exploiters — film directors, world leaders, corporate executives, movie stars, athletes — while the lives of the women they violated are permanently destroyed, often forcing them to live in social and emotional exile.

I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you? You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?

I am over years and years of being over rape.

And thinking about rape every day of my life since I was 5-years-old.

And getting sick from rape, and depressed from rape, and enraged by rape.

And reading my insanely crowded inbox of rape horror stories every hour of every single day.

I am over being polite about rape.

It’s been too long now, we have been too understanding.

We need to OCCUPYRAPE in every school, park, radio, TV station, household, office, factory, refugee camp, military base, back room, night club, alleyway, courtroom, UN office. We need people to truly try and imagine — once and for all — what it feels like to have your body invaded, your mind splintered, your soul shattered.

We need to let our rage and our compassion connect us so we can change the paradigm of global rape.

There are approximately one billion women on the planet who have been violated.

ONE BILLION WOMEN.

The time is now.

Prepare for the escalation.

Today it begins, moving toward February 14, 2013, when one billion women will rise to end rape.

Because we are over it.”

Aside from the advocacy and women’s self defense, I also take part in an initiative created by mark cosmetics- an initiative called m.powerment.  M.powerment is a philanthropic initiative dedicated to breaking the cycle of dating abuse and partner violence. Since its creation in 2008, m.powerment by mark has raised over $750,000 to support programs that provide preventative training and education. Currently mark offers 4 items for sale to support this cause- 100% of the net proceeds of each item’s sale is donated to the m.powerment campaign- and a Domestic Violence Resource guide is sent out with each item purchased. If you would like to support the m.powerment campaign please click here.


Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice?

This article is bound to stir up a lot of controversy, so I will not be responding to any comments left. There are moments when I find the candor of this article to take away from it’s impact, but on the whole it raises a lot of important points.

America Without Abortion Would Be An Absolute Horror Show

This year, rather than fix the economy or create jobs, American lawmakers have opted to focus their attention instead on working their evangelical butts off to make sure that there are as many obstacles between a woman and reproductive control as possible, using esoteric imaginary justification to introduce legislation that would be disastrous if enacted. The impact of restrictive abortion laws is not a mystery; dozens of countries around the world already severely restrict women’s access to reproductive health services, and, to put it lightly, life for women in those countries is hardly a picnic. In fact, from what we can glean, an America without legal abortions would be pretty terrible for everyone.

So, what lessons can we learn from… reality? What would really happen if fetuses join the ranks of corporations and are legally considered people? The same thing that’s already happening in other countries.

Women will die from unsafe abortions.
Pro-life, my ass. When abortion is outlawed, women die as a result. In Latin America, where abortion is roundly restricted and in some countries banned outright, more women die from having unsafe abortions than in any other region in the world. A 2009 Guttmacher report estimates that 70,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions, and millions of women are seriously harmed.

If women decide not to try to have unsafe abortions and give birth to all pregnancies, they might die anyway.
CNN reports that in countries like Somalia, Uganda, and Niger, where women average 6 to 8 children each, the maternal death rate is much higher than in countries with lower birth rates. That’s because giving birth, while beautiful and natural and desired in many cases, is fucking dangerous. In fact, giving birth is more unsafe than having an abortion.

Victims of sexual abuse and assault would be forced to carry unplanned pregnancies to term.

Last year, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, a 10-year-old girl was raped and impregnated by her father. Because abortion is outlawed in the state, she was denied her request to have an abortion. Seventeen other Mexican states have similar abortion restrictions on the books.

Pregnant women with cancer would not be allowed to seek treatment.
In Nicaragua, a pregnant 27 year old woman who found out she had cancer was denied treatment for cancer on the grounds that the treatment would endanger her fetus (even though without treatment, the woman was projected to die before the baby was even born). Abortion’s been completely illegal in the country since 2006, and women who seek abortions face jail time.

The government’s already-strained resources will be further strained.
The Times’ Nicholas Kristof aptly points out that the budget conscious country should consider the implications of forcing millions of unwilling mothers to give birth by providing them with birth control necessary to prevent pregnancy. This will promote economic well-being on both a micro level (diapers are fucking expensive) and a macro level (providing schools for a bajillion kids is fucking expensive). Readily available birth control and abortion saves the US an estimated $3.4 billion annually. If only money trees hadn’t gone extinct during the Bush administration.

Paying magical detectives to solve miscarriage related whodunits would drain legal system.
Somewhere between 1 in 10 and 1 in 3 pregnancies result in a miscarriage, and of those miscarriages, 80% happen during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If abortion is criminalized and fetuses are declared people, then how will we determine the cause of death? Who will do it? Will they need a warrant to search my uterus or can they rely on eyewitness testimony? Will we build itty bitty cemeteries? I guess forcing every single one of the million or so miscarriages that happen every year will create lots and lots of jobs for the FBI’s Special Fetal Task Force. Now if only Americans weren’t so bad at science.

Source: http://jezebel.com/5856197/america-without-abortion-would-be-a-horrorshow


Sexual Assault Care in Question

This article is a little out of the realm of what I usually like to cover on this blog- A friend shared this article with me, and I needed to share it with all of you. Though a large portion of this article discusses abortion, I’m focusing more on the issues surrounding survivors/victims of rape and violence. Being an instructor for Self Defense, namely Women’s Self Defense, and having presented many seminars on protection, safety, awareness, and defense techniques I get to see a very different side to women- I am also a Confidential Sexual Violence Advocate. As an advocate, I am privy to a wide range of horrible life experiences and violent crimes perpetrated against women. Having experience on both ends of the ‘violence spectrum’, I can tell you that many women live day-to-day in fear; regardless of their level of training, or their exposure to sexual or domestic violence. One woman described her daily existence as feeling like ‘a bread-cart being wheeled through an alley of starving mouths’, this description (I think) embodies perfectly, the fear that women experience simply existing as women. With this is mind, it is very difficult for me to understand how a policy-maker could compare preparing for rape, as one would prepare for having a flat tire. I find this article to be a painful reminder of the way survivors/victims are dismissed in our society.

Abortion debate trivializes rape

By LZ Granderson, Special to CNN

Grand Rapids, Michigan (CNN) — Well, now that Oprah’s finally said goodbye, maybe women can get back to the important business of planning to be raped.

What’s that? You have no idea what I’m talking about?

That’s exactly what some politicians are hoping for — women’s lack of attention to what is being said about them, women being unaware of what is being decided about them.

I’m a dude, so I don’t really have a dog in this race, but I thought an elected official suggesting women should be prepared to be raped the way he is prepared for a flat tire would draw more attention than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child. But once again, I’ve overestimated the public’s ability to prioritize.

Earlier this month, Kansas State Rep. Pete DeGraaf made some ratehr outlandish comments during a debate centered on banning insurance companies in Kansas from offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans unless a woman’s life were at risk. The bill, which the governor signed into law last week, would require a woman to carry a separate policy for abortions. When Rep. Barbara Bollier voiced concern for women who may become pregnant as a result of rape or incest, this exchange followed:

DeGraaf: “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”

Bollier: “And so women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with pregnancy?”

DeGraaf: “I have a spare tire on my car.”

“I also have life insurance,” he added. “I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”

Ladies and gentleman of the great state of Kansas, your tax dollars at work.

It shouldn’t really matter which side of the fence you stand on regarding abortion: that tone, that rationale, has no place in the debate. That more people, more women, were not angered by DeGraaf’s statements only highlights just how little we are paying attention to lawmakers.

Tea partier Sharron Angle raised eyebrows during the 2010 midterm election by suggesting rape and incest victims who become pregnant and do not have an abortion made a “lemon situation into lemonade” — but at least she lost and cannot mandate that rape victims make lemonade. These guys are in office and affecting policy. Last month, while debating a similar ban, Iowa State Rep. Brent Crane said rape was the “hand of the Almighty” at work.

Yep, that’s right ladies, being raped could be part of God’s plan.

It’s one thing to discuss whether or not life begins at conception but to go so far as to trivialize one of the most horrific crimes anyone could ever experience is nothing more than an extension of the chauvinistic blame-the-victim mentality that has always tainted the conversation on rape.

I wonder who DeGraaf believes has the greatest risk of being raped, and thus should purchase insurance accordingly? I wonder if Degraaf believes rape is inevitable as death and that’s why he mentioned he made the correlation with his life insurance policy.

Am I making too much of a big deal about this?

Not when you look at the mentality of Indiana Rep. Eric Turner, who earlier this year introduced a bill that would make abortions illegal after 20 weeks instead of 24 weeks. When Rep. Gail Riecken proposed an amendment to that bill exempting women who are the victims of rape or incest, Turner said Reicken’s proposal would encourage women to lie in order to get an abortion.

“I don’t want to disparage in any way someone who has gone through the experience of a rape or incest — but someone who is desirous of an abortion could simply say that they’ve been raped or there’s incest,” he said.

True, but does that mean the overall mental health of someone who was a victim, someone who was not lying, suddenly doesn’t matter? I tend to think the only person who would make that kind of a statement is someone who tends to believe the number of women who lie about being sexually assaulted are far greater than the ones who actually are.

These are the kind of people, the kind of men, who are involved in shaping the conversation about abortion. This is why it is imperative that women, and not just those affiliated with groups like NOW, pay attention to what is being said and done. The issue at hand is not simply the morality of having an abortion, that’s one aspect of it. But the other wrinkle to this conversation, the one all women — regardless of political affiliation –should be able to rally around, is addressing the attitude and tone of the conversation. If men feel comfortable enough to be on the legislative floor and suggest that women and girls lie about rape, or recommend that it is something they should prepare for, one can only imagine what is being said behind closed doors.

Remember in April when federal funding for Planned Parenthood was being debated, Sen. John Kyl boldly stated that 90% of the organization’s services were providing abortions — when in fact the procedure only represented 3% of Planned Parenthood’s functions? Of the more than 11 million services provided in 2009, more than 4 million fell under contraception and nearly 4 million fell under sexually transmitted disease testing. Nearly 2 million were for cancer screenings. A little more than 300,000 were abortions.

Late night TV had a good laugh at Kyl’s expense when his staff later said the number was not supposed to be “factual.” What isn’t funny is the thought of just how many measures regarding a woman’s body that Kyl supported or pushed forward.

When it comes to the topic of abortion, a politician’s view is often shaped by his or her religion. What it should not be shaped by is sexism and flat-out lies.

The notions that rape is a possibility that women should plan for, or that abortions should not be provided to victims of rape or incest because some women might lie about an attack to get their insurance company to pay, reek of misogyny. Female voters need to pay closer attention to this rhetoric and be more vocal in challenging it, because ultimately it’s not the Kyls, DeGraafs and Turners who are losing control over their bodies. It’s them.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.


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