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Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’


Today a video from BuzzFeed.com, “How To Confuse Pro-Lifers With Just One Question,” has been just about all over my facebook feed. The video shows a cameraman interviewing folks at a pro-life protest and their responses to the question, “If abortion should be illegal, what should be the punishment for women who have illegal abortions?” I thought this video offered a fresh new prospective on the abortion debate. The intention of the protestors becomes suddenly illuminated: they want to end the practice of abortion, but can’t say how the crime should be punished. Most reply that they’d never thought of it, others say that God will provide punishment in the end, but none suggest any method of prosecuting offenders.

The video points out a fundamental flaw in how pro-lifers perceive pro-choicers as not being sympathetic to the unborn child, while on the flip side, it becomes clear that most pro-lifers don’t think of women as worthless sluts. In fact, pro-lifers and pro-choicers share a common goal: both sides want to prevent the situation of unwanted pregnancy. The difference is an arbitrary sense of morals. Pro-choicers don’t necessarily view abortion as a moral issue; most know the difference between “human life” and “sustainable life.” Meanwhile, many pro-lifers are attached to the idea that human life is valuable no matter what, and therefore abortions should be restricted under the law as a form of condemnation. Not that there isn’t already a whole lot of cultural forces that condemn abortion, from religion to pop-culture phenomena.

What pro-lifers blindly ignore is the fact that death, and the practice of humane killing, is just as much a part of the continuation of life as having sex out of wedlock. Living wills allow people to consent to be “aborted” should they fall into a vegetative state. We put animals to sleep 9 million times per year–some because they are old or sick, most because there’s no one to take care of them. I really don’t see anyone celebrating with champagne over these statistics (well, maybe a fucked up few), but if we didn’t “abort” unsustainable lives, everyone would suffer. Abortion is similar, but for some reason, pro-lifers are far more judgmental of women experiencing unwanted pregnancies than the drunk driver that put your grandpa in a vegetive state–yet it’s easier to name a punishment for those convicted of DUI’s than those who undergo illegal abortions. Hmm, how’d that happen?

Maybe there should be less people protesting whether or not abortion is legal and more people trying to offer support to women with unwanted pregnancies through education, financial aide, and improving accessibility to birth control. It’d be nice to live in a world where we only needed the assurance of being able to get an abortion when and if we needed one.

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My good friend Amelia recently wrote a post on how she became a feminist where she gave me more credit than was due for enlightening her to the meaning of the word back in high school. I feel kinda silly that she’d so specifically attribute me in her experience because, unlike me, she can date her realization that women are equal to men to a specific moment when she was very young. But the fact of the matter is, unlike Amelia, who clued in to gender equality at the ripe age of 6, my feminist identity was more the result of teenage angst and rebellion than anything else.

Like Amelia, I also remember the specific moment when gender equality entered my mind, setting into motion my thirst for feminist fury, but it came much later and started an avalanche of enlightenment that would make me into the green-haired, pot-smoking, self-proclaimed “poet anarchist” I developed into my senior year of high school (you know, the person in that little picture on the top of the page). I had a very traditional Catholic upbringing, which was just oodles of fun. My mother was a stay-at-home mom until I was 12, at which point my white-collar father decided to move into a bigger, nicer house that required her to get a job. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, my mom was being subjected to a type of new oppression for women in the post-second wave America. She had to work just as many hours as my dad, but get paid less, at a less prestigious job, and then come home and keep house just the way she used to when she was unemployed, while caring for two adolescent daughters and an overgrown baby of a husband. In addition to all that, she continued to teach private music lessons as a way to stay connected with her passion in life. I remember most days when I’d come home from school, my mom would be with a student while periodically checking on whatever was on the stove. I never thought twice about how no matter how much my mom slaved for her family, my dad expected even more from her. In the world of Catholic Conservatives, that’s just the way the world works.

Like my good friend, my feminist enlightenment was also set into motion by one simple comment that blew the top off my head. One night, at dinner, my dad made a snide comment. He was upset that my mom never had dinner on the table when he got home from work because she was busy with lessons. He went on and on about how my great-grandmother would cook her husband eggs over-easy every morning and have a warm meal waiting for him when he got home each night. I remember him saying, “I thought I had a wife to come home to take care of me.” This type of rude conversation was pretty normal for the average Sutton-family dinner, but this night was different, because my older sister, an unabashed daddy’s girl, decided to speak up: “That’s chauvinist.”

I had never heard the word before and timidly asked what it meant. My sister went on to explain how women were exploited: they were expected to be beautiful and successful in competition with males, yet also rear children and keep house. Women were expected not only to adhere to traditional standards, yet also strive for success in a contemporary world. My dad was silenced, and my mind was completely blown. I remember posting about the event on my online journal, misspelling “shovenist” and being corrected by a friend. But at that point, I had found a new way to look at my strained relationship with my father: he disrespected women–he was sexist.

Unfortunately my sister’s outspoken attitude did not change my parents relationship. My mom filed for divorce earlier this year after my dad began a slew of affairs with women he met online who look creepily like a younger version of his mom. He once again cited wanting the envisionment of society’s perfect woman for his immature and inconsiderate actions–someone with good looks, prestige, and a paycheck that competes with his own. Not surprisingly, his quest for love continues, as women of that caliber are not only very rare, but dislike putting up with childish bullshit. Meanwhile, my mom has become the embodiment of a woman in charge of her own life: she’s bought her own home, continues to work–now getting paid more in a better position–and teach flute lessons, and has reconnected with old friends from college.

There were other factors that contributed to my coming-of-age as a feminist; mainly the efforts of my old high school’s social worker who gave an after-school lecture my freshmen year about body image issues that was surprisingly well attended. It was there that I first learned what it means to be a feminist, and knew I was one: it’s simple, if you believe in equal rights for men and women, you’re a feminist. End of story. Whether or not you’re an unaware douchebag is irrelevant, especially considering the fact that there are so many different sects of feminism that completely oppose each other in sub-beliefs.

I also have to give credit to the online community, because without people on online forums and livejournal communities continuously calling me out on my privileged brat douchebaggery, I would have never realized I had engrained attitudes that were racist, homophobic, or classist. It’s also because of the online community that I became enraptured by the abortion debate, declaring myself as pro-choice at the age of 14. “I hate babies and don’t give a fuck what other people do with their bodies” was my logic before my argument became much more complex and personal.

How did I become a feminist? Clearly the answer is complex, and still developing. As a white upper-class woman I recognize that there are many flaws in my outlook and experience; my beliefs are constantly changing based on continuing realizations of how I’ve been benefitted and disadvantaged just for being white and female. To be honest, I’ve changed a lot as a feminist as well; I no longer use the term as a blanket statement to describe my political beliefs because I also strongly believe in ending oppression for racial minorities and the working class. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for girls to become familiar with feminism at a young age in order to combat all the confusion thrust upon them, and if anyone asks, I will defend the “f-word” to the grave.

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For those of you who don’t think it’s important to include health insurance coverage of abortion in health care reform, maybe hearing Tiffany’s Story will make you reconsider:

She was pregnant with twins and had to abort one to save the other. If abortion coverage isn’t included in reform, it’s likely she wouldn’t have been able to afford the procedure, and would have lost both her children.

Although cases like Tiffany’s are rare, I still think it’s important for health reform to include abortion coverage, if not because it would otherwise screw over willing mothers, because restricting fair access to abortion violates Roe vs. Wade and a woman’s right to choose.

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Update 2/6/14: COMMENTS ARE CLOSED. No new comments will be posted. I’ve disabled comments on all posts because this blog is inactive. I urge everyone with medical questions to consult a medical professional if they are able to. If you are not able to ask a medical professional in your country, there are some professionals available here.

When most people think of the abortion debate, they forget that it’s an issue that’s been on the table for as long as human history, not just since Roe vs. Wade. Before abortion became legal and safe surgical procedures came into common practice, women used many home methods of inducing abortion. Most of these amateur methods were dangerous. However, there is a way to herbally induce abortion that has been used since Ancient times. The herbal method of abortion is not as safe as approved medical procedures; however, it is important that this method is propagated to those who are not able to access medical/surgical abortions are aware that there is a way that is considerably less dangerous than the well-known wire hanger method. I originally found this method on Angry for a Reason, and although I can’t attest to its effectiveness from personal experience, many others can. Here’s how to do it:

I have used this to positive results 3 times. Given the lack of access to bc and abortion in much of the US I would like to share this with all of you. Copy it, pass it around, send it to your friends. It is cheap and accessible to all. Obviously if there are any health problems or adverse side effects contact a doctor. My friends and I have used this with very little complications, but I just want to put that disclaimer out there as all bodies are different and yours may react differently then ours. Feel free to ask a natropath/herbalist/physician/gynaecologist.

It can only be used up to 3 weeks after a missed period, but the sooner the better. I’ve done it within the first week of missing my period and it’s always brought it back for me. The best time to start it is on the 1st or second day of the missed period.

You will need:
Fresh parsley (preferably organic…I don’t want pesticides in my vagina, so I go organic)
500 mg pills/capsules of Vitamin C (Try not to get pills with Bioflavonoids such as Rose Hips. These PREVENT miscarriage.)

The treatment can last 3 days: DO NOT EXCEED 3 DAYS!! This will work or not within 2/3 days.

1. Insert a fresh sprig of parsley as far as possible into the vagina. (parsley induces contractions, yum) Change every 12 hours. When soft, it may be difficult to remove, but this is not dangerous.

2. At the same time, drink parsley infusions. 2 to 6 tablespoons 4 times a day.

Making an infusion: use 2 1/2 cups of boiling water for every ounce of parsley (If you buy it at the store, minus 2/3 stems (for sprigs) this should be the amount of water used to make the tincture). Add parsley to boiling water, remove from heat and cover. Very important that you remove from heat IMMEDIATELY upon adding the parsley. Boiling the water with the parsley in there will make the infusion less effective. Let it steep for at least 20 minutes (the longer it steeps, the more potent it will be. I usually let it steep for 2 hours.

3. During the 3 days (or until your period starts) take high doses of Vitamin C orally. Ideally, take 500 mg every hour up to 6000 mg. You can continue using the Vitamin C for up to 6 days. Vitamin C can bring on menstruation even 3 weeks after a “late” period. you can begin taking Vitamin C immediately after unsafe sex, or if the condom broke, etc.

If successful you should start to bleed in 2 to 3 days.
Notes:
-You may have cramps (I get ’em bad after doing this) and you can take whatever you usually take for cramps or make a ginger infusion and take that.
-The chances of success are less if you regularly take high doses of Vitamin C
-High amounts of Vitmain C can cause loose stools. No one I know has experienced this, but is has been known to happen.
-Do not use if you have kidney problems.
-Watch for signs of Toxicity Specific to Parsley: Nausea, hallucinations, vomiting, vertigo, hives, paralysis, liver swollen and
painful, urine scanty and darkly colored, and tremors.

I’ve often noticed that on the second night I start emanating heat. Seriously I feel like a space heater. This is ok, it’s just a side effect of the high doses of Vit. C and to me signifies that it worked and I will get my period soon (generally that night/next morning)

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE PENNYROYAL. IT IS DEADLY AND DANGEROUS. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH, DO NOT DO NOT, DO NOT USE IT!!!

For more information, please see Angry for a Reason.

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I’m sure many of you are familiar with Candie’s, the shoe brand notorious for sexualizing teens in their controversial ad campaigns, the most recent being a campaign featuring Britney Spears juxtaposed with the concept of her being a role model for girls all across the country. I would have little objection to yet another celebrity getting paid to further confuse the body images of girls at least ten years her junior if it weren’t for The Candie’s Foundation, which was formed to promote teen abstinence, their prize-winning slogan being “I’m sexy enough to keep you waiting.” Essentially, a teenage girl should continue to use sex to prove her self-worth, but abstain from sex until marriage when they can go on to have lots of babies and fulfill their purpose as a slave to the uterus.

Ironically, it was Britney Spears who faced a minor career sabotage as a role model for teen girls just a few years ago when she admitted to giving her virginity to Justin Timberlake outside of wedlock, after promising to wait until marriage–just as the Candie’s Foundation begs teen girls to do. The Candie’s Foundation Website is designed to get important information to both teens and parents about the facts of premarital sex, but these “facts” are rather questionable; they are percentages of teenagers who share an opinion rather than concrete statistics regarding issues such as teen pregnancy and STI’s. Nowhere does it suggest using condoms to correct the problem of unplanned pregnancy/spreading of STI’s, which may be useful information for teenagers who are already sexually active, or those who plan to have safe sex one day.

Examine the numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation to see just how much worth abstinence-promoting campaigns such as Candie’s contribute to keeping teens out of the bedroom. Between 1993-2003, the percentage of sexually active teens decreased from 53% to 43%. However, the likelihood that a teen will engage has increased in correlation with age: in 2003, 62% of high school seniors had engaged in sex, in comparison to only 33% of ninth graders. The majority of students still lose their v-cards in high school. In addition, although students chose to abstain from intercourse, engaging in oral/anal sex has been on the rise, and abstinence only programs–such as the Candie’s Foundation–turn a blind eye to other sex acts, focusing only on preventing pregnancy outside of wedlock. At the same time, abstinence only programs seem to have had little effect on Latin American and Black communities, which have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. (Is it a coincidence that the Candie’s Foundation website has virtually no depictions of anyone other than white?)

The most startling statistics from the KFF have not to do with teen girls–who are so inaptly singled out in the Candie’s Foundation Campaign as being those solely responsible for maintaining virgin purity–but with teen boys. Males are, on the whole, more likely to have sex in high school–and at a younger age–than their female counter parts. Yet they are rarely the target of abstinence only campaigns; the responsibility of chastity is placed upon girls, who are taught starting from a young age that they are inherently more valuable to life-long partners as a virgin than if they are not. Meanwhile, girls who do choose to have sex are looking towards older partners; a quarter of girls lost it to guys who were at least four years older. Girls are also much more likely not to use protection the first time they have sex. Reasons for this? Perhaps the perpetuation that the person they have sex with should be their life long partner–someone in their 20s or older is more likely to be ready to settle down and can provide better for a young girl, although most men that age are not interested in making babies with a baby. What’s the point of preventing pregnancy with someone with whom you plan on having children? What’s the point of preventing the transmission of STI’s that you’ve never been educated about?

We could be investing time and money into programs that tell 20 year olds not to commit statutory rape, or programs that teach kids what truly constitutes a healthy, long-lasting relationship. We could be turning our attention to the prevention of spreading STI’s and preventing teen pregnancy across the class/race board. But instead, Candie’s exemplifies what many would rather do–use sex to sell abstinence, and to keep women virginal and pure objects for the morally perverted.

Teens have sex. You can’t stop it. Telling an adolescent not to do anything is pretty much counter-productive to the cause. Worse of all, promoting abstinence clings on to gender expectations as outdated as the role of women as put forth in the Old Testament. Instead of perpetuating images that turn young girls into soulless bodies with the purpose of looking good for boys, how about we try to produce thoughtful, opinionated, well-educated young women responsible enough to call their own shots about their personal health.

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As women, throughout our lives we are taught to be prisoner to the womb. Growing up, we are discouraged from having sex and are taught that we can become pregnant at any time. As a result, women are raised to fear their fertility, and live in ignorance of the most basic form of birth control–knowing your cycle, or “the calendar method.”

The calendar method of birth control isn’t so much a technique as it is simply the knowledge of when and how you can conceive. Almost all women’s cycles are twenty eight days long. The first day of one’s cycle is the day your get your period. The day you are ovulating is day 14, two weeks after the day your period starts–give or take a day. The average lifespan of sperm is 4 days, so it is possible to conceive even if you don’t have sex on the day you’re ovulating. This chart illustrates the average ovulation cycle:


Click for full size

Here are some important things to remember in relation to knowing your cycle:

  1. Pulling out is roughly 75% effective. There is no sperm in pre-ejaculate unless the male hasn’t urinated since his last ejaculation. That means if you’re up for round two, make sure your lover takes a bathroom break. It does not protect against any STI’s. It is the oldest form of birth control but perfect use is difficult; therefore, it is not a reliable form of birth control. However, it is considerably better than nothing.
  2. It takes three days for a fertilized egg to implant. Plan B — emergency contraceptive or the morning after pill — is 89% effective when taken within the first 72 hours of fertilization. The effectiveness drops by 25% every day afterwards, so it is important that you take it as soon as possible if you believe you are pregnant.
  3. Your cycle can often become irregular due to outside factors–stress, changes in exercise/diet, drugs (recreational and prescribed), etc. Antibiotics can hinder the effectiveness of the birth control pill. Spotting (vaginal bleeding on days when you’re not getting your period) is an indicator that your cycle has come off kilter. Ultimately, the day your ovulation may not always be two weeks after you get your period, so always use a method of birth control.

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