My abortion story

I’ve been choosing abortion for 10 years, and that choice has shaped the course of my life.

Today I blogged about my abortion story on Role/Reboot:

If I got pregnant today, I would have an abortion

As a 16-year-old, I knew that if I got pregnant by accident I would have an abortion. Ten years later, I am in a completely different place—a place where I could, realistically, support and parent a child—and I would still choose abortion.

I believe in the power of telling stories. With the 80 new restrictions on abortion rights enacted by state legislatures in 2011 and more coming every day, I believe it’s especially important to tell stories about abortion and the role it plays in creating an egalitarian society that allows women, and men, to control their destinies. Until recently I felt like I didn’t have a story to tell because I haven’t had an abortion. I cannot speak to the experience of making that decision or undergoing the procedure. But I realized that I do have a story, a story that has grown with me as I matured from a 16- to 26-year-old adult who could, if I chose to, be a mom.

Continue reading at Role/Reboot.

The MBTA should not allow advertising from crisis pregnancy centers

The MBTA is where you’ll usually find ads for Jamba juice and Jansport backpacks, local research studies, and public health campaigns. Currently, though, much of this highly-coveted space is occupied by ads for, an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. The ads don’t tell you that Daybreak has an anti-abortion agenda; they claim to offer “compassion,” “empowerment,” “hope,” and most inaccurately, “options.” This is in fact the major criticism of crisis pregnancy centers—that they misrepresent themselves as neutral parties. They are not, and they should not be allowed to advertise their heavily-biased and manipulative services on the MBTA.

The point of a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) is to keep pregnant women from having abortions, often by delaying them with offers of pregnancy tests and ultrasounds until it’s too late. What is truly sinister about CPCs is their use of untrue or misleading information to scare women away from choosing abortion, with false claims such as: abortion causes breast cancer, abortion is psychologically damaging, abortion can lead to sterility, and birth-control pills cause abortion. A 2006 Congressional investigation found that 87 percent of the centers surveyed provided false or misleading medical information.

Daybreak is guilty of this type of misinformation, although they are careful not to appear so on their website. It’s no wonder they are covering their behinds—legal action has been taken against CPCs in a number of states regarding their deceptive advertising in New York, California, Ohio, Missouri, and North Dakota.

According to their website, Daybreak claims to provide “accurate information about pregnancy, fetal development, lifestyle issues, and related concerns” as well as offer “accurate information about abortion procedures and risks.” They say “our advertising and communications are truthful and honest and accurately describe the services we offer.” But when you dig in deeper, you will find a sample if misleading and just plain untrue “facts” on their website:

  • Daybreak claims: “[Plan B] It may alter the uterine lining which prevents the fertilized egg from implanting, resulting in an early abortion.” (This is wrong—the dissolution of a fertilized egg is NOT “early abortion.”)
  • Daybreak claims: “Complications may happen in as many as 1 out of every 100 early abortions,” when according to the Guttmacher Institute, “the risk of abortion complications is minimal: Fewer than 0.3% of abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization.”
  • Daybreak claims: “Women who have experienced abortion may develop the following symptoms: guilt, grief, anger, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, difficulty bonding with partner or children, eating disorder,” when the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion reported that “the best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver that pregnancy.”
  • On the particularly appalling “For Men” section of the Daybreak website, they write: “Many women who have had abortions report that they were waiting for their boyfriends/husbands to stop them. Some even say that they sat on the table hoping the father of their baby would ‘rush through the door to rescue me and take me away somewhere safe.’” (Um, citation needed?)

I’m not trying to make the argument that free pregnancy counseling is a bad thing or that the people at Daybreak are “bad” people, but pregnancy counseling, or any counseling for that matter, should be unbiased and informative. No where on the Daybreak MBTA ads are women informed that the the “free pregnancy counseling” is actually anti-abortion counseling, and that is dishonest, manipulative, and ultimately wrong. Women facing unplanned pregnancies need to know all their options, without the implication that one is better than another, and they need real medical information, not the “facts” listed above.

The MBTA is currently under fire for proposed fare increases and service cuts. They may be desperate for funds, but that does not excuse this moral misstep. CPCs are a growing threat to women’s health and the MBTA is the last place Bostonians should be exposed to anti-abortion propaganda.

What Ron Paul meant when he said “honest rape”

CNN’s Piers Morgan challenged Ron Paul about his position on abortion in the case of rape, asking “You have two daughters. You have many granddaughters. If one of them was raped — and I accept it’s a very unlikely thing to happen — but if they were, would you honestly look at them in the eye and say they had to have that child if they were impregnated?” In his wavering response, Ron Paul used the phrase “honest rape,” implying that only some rapes are valid — or as Whoopi Goldberg would say, “rape rape.”

Ron Paul used “honest rape” as code for rapes that fit the prescribed, social narrative of rape: When an innocent, attractive, young woman is attacked by a criminal stranger in a dark alley. Of all the rape narratives that actually exist (incest, partner violence, date rape, acquaintance rape, etc.), this is the only one in which predators “look like” predators and victims “look like” victims. When our predators look like choir boys or world leaders or women, the Ron Pauls of the world are less likely to believe the rape was “honest.” When our victims are not pure and chaste, or young and beautiful, or women, they are less likely to believe the rape was “honest.”

Of course, this is bullshit.

All rape is “honest rape,” no matter who perpetrated it, no matter the victim is (or what she was wearing or drinking), no matter where or how it occurred. The idea that some rape is more valid than other rape is a device used to preserve the false notion that some victims are “asking for it.”

Ron Paul seems to believe that “honest rapes” are rapes that are reported right away. But anyone who knows anything about the reality of rape and sexual assault knows that the majority of rapes go unreported. Why? Because the very idea of “honest rape,” the very same that Ron Paul is propagating, deters victims from coming forward.

Victims worry that their rape might not be taken seriously because they knew their attacker or because they don’t have physical injuries. Sixteen percent of victims say that they fear reprisal, while about six percent don’t report because they believe that the police are “biased.” Biased by what?  The idea that only some rapes are “honest,” and therefore only some victims are credible.

One more thing.

Just as there is no such thing as an “honest rape,” there is no such thing as an “honest abortion.”  You don’t need to be raped–“honestly” or otherwise–in order to deserve the right to terminate a pregnancy. (#justsayin’)

Don’t be fooled: The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act is bullshit

Last week, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona (a white Republican) introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011. The legislation would end the utter atrocity of race and sex-selective abortions in the US. Which sounds nice and progressive, until you remember that we don’t have a problem with race or sex-selective abortions in the US.

According to (which I don’t suggest you read unless you want to feel stabby), Franks has said the bill is needed because abortions on black babies are done at much higher rates than abortions on babies of other races. (So he says.) Franks also believes that Asian Americans have brought the traditional practice of sex-selection (and the preference for boys) over to the US. So essentially, he wants to restrict abortion access to women of color in the name of protecting them from their own bad decisions.

Do you see something wrong there?

Oh! It’s paternalism!

It’s mansplaining at the highest level. It’s this:

The reality is that in the US, sex-selective abortion is incredibly rare because 95% of abortions happen too early in pregnancy to detect the fetus’s sex. And, since the ratio of girls to boys has actually increased since abortion became legal, we are definitely not seeing any effects of this practice. I call bullshit.

The reality is that in the US, women of color face enormous structural barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare, including contraception. As a result, they have higher rates of unintended pregnancy. According to the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, reproductive healthcare providers who seek to help these underserved populations get the care they need are actually “eugenicists in disguise,” targeting minorities not to help them–but to convince them to abort themselves out of existence.

The reality is that women of color aren’t buying this bullshit. Anti-abortion activists already tried to pass this legislation at the local level in Georgia; they were defeated by coalition of women-of-color organizations. The anti-abortion group backing the legislation is the same group that put up those billboards in low-income neighborhoods saying “Black children are an endangered species” and “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” Groups like the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective have already called bullshit on the billboards, and the whole damned assumption they make about black women being manipulated into killing their own children:

Black women are not the pawns of these white people who erect such billboards. We find them offensive, racist, sexist and–most of all–disrespectful of our decision making, our 400-year history of raising and caring for black children and our human right to make health care choices for ourselves.

The reality is that the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act is not about protecting women of color, but about taking another swing at overturning Roe v. Wade. It’s hard to deny this when is publishing editorials called “Sex-selection abortions a possible opening to overturn Roe.”

A sex-selection ban would indeed present the Supreme Court with a dilemma. To strike down such a law–in essence, to embrace a constitutional right to sex-selection abortion–would expose just how extreme and immoral the Court’s present abortion doctrine really is. To read such a result in the name of “gender equality” would be monstrous and absurd. Such a ruling would undermine support both for Roe and for the Court as an institution, as never before.

So there you have it.

There is no need for a Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act because “prenatals” are not being discriminated against. The only purpose it serves is to scare people into giving up their own human rights, including the right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare.

So please, contact your Congressperson and call bullshit on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.


It’s not like a sweater: Why you shouldn’t ask a pregnant woman for her baby

This week, something on Postsecret really bothered me. One secret told the story of a generous shopper who purchased over $300 worth of Christmas presents for a fellow shopper whose credit card was denied. A second secret was from a mom who, for the second year in a row, couldn’t afford to buy her children Christmas presents. In response, three people wrote in offering to donate so that her children could have presents to open Christmas morning. A third secret was written by a woman who was lying to her employers about taking time off for a funeral so that she could get an abortion (left). In response, a woman who could not have children wrote in asking for her baby.


Hi Frank – My husband and I are not able to have children. Or at least I’m not. I had my 2nd ectopic pregnancy the day before Thanksgiving and they took my last fallopian tube. I would love to get my contact info to the poster of the abortion secret in case she changes her mind and considers adoption. We would make amazing parents!

This really bothers me. It’s as if the emailer is talking about a plate of food, asking, “Hey, are you going to eat that?”

I realize that my interpretation of this exchange is colored by context of the first two secrets about giving to families in need, but the juxtaposition is striking. Good samaritans donate money, food, clothing, toys, and shelter. They give scholarships, grants, even buildings. But a baby is not charity or something you can donate. A baby is not something you should ever ask of someone — especially of someone who has already made the difficult decision to terminate her pregnancy.

First of all, it is not the responsibility of pregnant women who don’t want to have a baby to provide babies for couples who can’t have their own. Adoption is not some sort of magical solution where pregnant women who don’t want babies can just give them to women who want babies but can’t get pregnant and everybody wins. In one episode of Sex and the City, Carrie’s boyfriend asks, “If Miranda doesn’t want the kid, can’t she just give it to Charlotte?” Carrie responds, “No, it’s not like a sweater.”

Adoption is a choice, yes, and it is the right choice for some, but it is not any easier or any less emotionally devastating of a choice than abortion for a pregnant woman. Let’s not forget that giving birth involves drawing out the emotional turmoil for nine whole months, not to mention the physical challenges, medical risks, and ya know, having to hand over a squishy infant that’s been a living part of you for nine months.

Nor is adoption a magic-happy-fun-time solution for couples who can’t conceive or carry out a pregnancy naturally. The adoption process is just as emotionally trying as struggling with IVF or surrogacy — just ask Alicia who recently shared a heartbreaking story of her adoption that fell through six days after she and her husband had begun taking care of the infant they thought was to be their daughter. I have a lot of respect for birth parents and adoptive parents, partly because this is not something everyone can do. And it’s certainly not something anyone should ever expect anyone else to be able, or willing, to do.

Clearly, the woman who responded to the secret is hurting and I can empathize with her. For those who want children, not being able to conceive, carry, and give birth to a child can be absolutely devastating. But just as she is suffering, so is the writer of the secret. Pro-life factions would like us to believe that Pro-choice women get abortions like they get their teeth cleaned, but the reality is that abortion is difficult and emotionally painful even when the woman is sure of her choice, and even when she doesn’t regret it afterwards. So, asking a woman who has already chosen abortion to reconsider because other women would give anything to be able to have a baby, is an especially cruel variety of guilt trip.

For some reason, women’s bodies become public property the minute they get pregnant. Strangers feel like they have the right to reach out and touch their bellies, or police what they’re eating or what they’re doing. It seems this is true even for pregnant women who choose abortion — who may never get to the point where their pregnancy shows, but who are still being made to feel like they owe someone something. In this case, a freaking baby.

Sometimes I wish I could be a guardian angel for women who choose abortion. I wish I could envelop them in my big angel wings and protect them from the hate, the judgment, the protesters, the politicians. I wish I could wrap them in love and they would know that someone out there supports their choice, and trusted them to make that choice in the first place. I wish I could protect them from the kind of guilt that comes from unintentionally tactless emails like the one above.

Asking to adopt a pregnant woman’s baby might make good television (it’s a running plot arch on this season of Parenthood), but in real life it’s a bad idea. If you’re looking to adopt a baby, go through the channels that will link you with pregnant women who have already chosen adoption and are looking for great parents just like you. But if a pregnant woman chooses abortion, have some compassion and leave her the fuck alone.

Well intentioned Facebook meme misses the point

A ‎15 year old girl holds hands with her 1 year old son. People call her a slut. No-one knows she was raped at 13. People call a girl fat. No-one knows she has a serious disease which causes her to be over weight. People call an old man ugly. No-one knows he had a serious injury to his face while fighting for our country in the war. Re post this if you are against bullying and stereotyping. 95% of you won’t

I keep seeing this Facebook status meme pop up from time to time, and every time, it makes me angry. Sure, I’m against bullying and stereotyping (is anyone really pro bullying and stereotyping?) but I don’t at all agree with the message here.

Sure, it’s important not to assume that all teen mothers became mothers by choice. It’s important not to assume that every teen mother became pregnant through consensual sex or irresponsible behavior. Yes, it’s important to understand and recognize that some pregnancies are the result of rapes, and that some young women are forced to carry their babies to term because of shitty barriers to contraception, Plan B, and abortion access. Maybe she was forced to carry the baby to term because of parental notification laws, or the crowds of anti-Choice protesters outside her local Planned Parenthood, or even simply because abortion is too stigmatizing or incompatible with her family’s beliefs or culture to consider.

But even if a teenage girl did become pregnant through consensual sex – even if she was irresponsible – even if she had consensual, unprotected sex with multiple partners – she still doesn’t deserve to be called a slut. Nobody deserves to be called a slut, ever, for any reason. Because there’s nothing wrong with having sex. Even when you’re young. Even when you’re not married. Even if it’s with multiple partners.

Sure, it’s important to realize that there are a myriad of different reasons why a person might become overweight. It could be the result of an illness, or a medication, or a genetic condition and no fault of her own. But it could also be a result of an eating disorder, or stress eating, or poverty, or a lack of education about nutrition. It could be because she’s too busy working 14 hours a day to shop at a grocery store and prepare healthy meals. It could also be because she loves food and doesn’t really care if she conforms to the unrealistic American beauty ideal of the size 2 supermodel. She might be happy with her body exactly how it is.

But no one deserves to be discriminated against or bullied for being fat, ever, for any reason. Even if their weight appears unhealthy, even if they just fucking love to eat hamburgers. Because fat people deserve respect, even if they’re fat because they’re lazy, even if they’re unhealthy. Because people come in all different shapes and sizes, for all sorts of reasons. Because there’s no wrong way to have a body. And because someone else’s weight is really none of your business.

Yes, it’s important to realize that sometimes people look different and sometimes they were injured while serving our country. But sometimes people look different because they were injured for some other reason. Maybe it was a car accident. Maybe it was a drunken hang-gliding accident. Maybe there was an accident at work because of lax safety standards. Maybe it wasn’t an injury, but an illness, or a condition that developed over time, or maybe they were just born that way. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with a person’s face other than the fact that it doesn’t look like the faces we see in magazines. Maybe it’s not a person’s face, but their body. Maybe they use a wheelchair or a cane. Maybe they sound different when they speak. Maybe they cannot speak, or cannot hear, or cannot see. No one deserves to be called ugly, no matter what they look like or sound like or how they came to be that way.

Though I can recognize that the meme is well-intentioned, it suggests that while some people don’t deserve to be bullied or stereotyped, other people do. Because they “brought it on themselves” by acting irresponsibly or just because they don’t have a “good excuse” for being the way they are. But nobody deserves to be stereotyped or bullied, for any reason.

When someone falls outside the norm, they become a target for bullying and stereotyping just because they’re different. And everyone is different at least some of the time. There’s no point to trying to determine who “deserves it” and who doesn’t. Because bullying and stereotyping is cruelty, and no one ever deserves that.

So if 95% of people aren’t reposting this status meme, let’s hope it’s because they agree that EVERY 15 year old mother, EVERY overweight person, and EVERY person who’s body is in some way “different,” deserves our respect and compassion.

Abortion riders: Just another way to support rape culture

Earlier this month, this happened (from the McPherson Sentinal, Kansas):

And Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who supports abortion rights, questioned whether women would buy abortion-only policies long before they have crisis or unwanted pregnancies or are rape victims.

During the House’s debate, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, a Mulvane Republican who supports the bill, told her: “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”

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

DeGraaf drew groans of protest from some House members when he responded, “I have spare tire on my car.”

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

It’s true. Sometimes it’s important to plan for the worst. Flood insurance, life insurance (though it really should be called “death insurance,” don’t you think?), car insurance – these things are important because shit happens. When I say “shit,” I’m referring to freak accidents or forces of nature that cannot be prevented or predicted. Things like getting struck by lightning, a tsunami, a freak accident where something falls out of the sky or runs in front of your car. Yes, these things happen and they aren’t preventable, controllable, or anybody’s fault. It’s important to plan for them because they could happen at any time, and there’s nothing we can really do about it.

But you know what IS preventable, controllable, and definitely somebody’s fault?


When we say “shit happens,” we are absolutely, positively, NOT referring to predatory, criminal acts like rape. Rape is NOT something that we must accept as a statistical inevitability, nor is it a freak occurrence. Rape, and abortion coverage in case you become pregnant as a result of rape, is not something you plan ahead for.

Rape is a social illness supported by a culture that sexually objectifies women and children and portrays men as hormonal cavemen. Rape is preventable through cultural awareness, education, legislation, and social change.

An “abortion rider” purchased separately from your health insurance is NOT equivalent to carrying a spare tire or buying life insurance. It’s a much more comparable to buying torture insurance, just in case you end up getting tortured by a fellow human being.

Flat tires happen. Death is inevitable. We can tolerate them as unfortunate realities of life. Crimes against humanity like rape and torture are illegal because we refuse to tolerate them – a moral absolute that is fully contradicted by the idea of an abortion insurance rider.