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    In the midst of today's crazymaking Amy Coney Barrett live hearings—a terrifying process that could eventually result in the demolition of Roe v. Wade—we'd like to suggest a little palate cleanser in the form of Viva Ruiz’s new track, “Thank God For Abortion Anthem.” Ruiz is an activist and artist-in-residence for Shout Your Abortion, a multimedia movement working to normalize abortions through art, storytelling, and community-building events and she's also the creator of the activist collective Thank God For Abortion (TGFA). Ruiz started TGFA in 2015 as a response to the closing of abortion clinics across the U.S., and they have just released this supercool song and music video:

    In a public statement about the video, Ruiz explains, “TGFA is a spiritual mission to affirm the sanctity of abortion-having people. Queer people, gay people, trans people, and people of faith all have abortions…. We stand as believers intending to claim space for God in the abortion conversation. God has been used against abortion-having people, against LGBTQ people, against women and femme people. We know it’s a blasphemy to use spirit to oppress people.”

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    "Thank God For Abortion Anthem” is a powerful display of solidarity with the Pro-Chice movement and all proceeds from this song will be donated to the Abortion Care Network.

    To make a donation and to learn more, visit the song's Bandcamp page.  

    Images: Screenshot from video

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    Following widespread abortion bans across the United States, the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale has released a PSA advocating for the protection of women’s reproductive health. Set in Gilead, a post-American dystopia where the rights of women are both virtually nonexistent and flagrantly violated, the show has become a symbol for the struggle against female oppression.

    With new, abortion-restricting legislation being proposed what feels like every day, it’s almost impossible to keep track of all the damage. This PSA, scored with somber music and filmed in black and white, does the math. “Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia”: Samira Wiley and Madeline Brewer, who respectively play Moira and Janine on the show, list off the six states that now have only one legally operating abortion provider. “Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Georgia”: Amanda Brugel, who plays Rita, names the states that have passed “heartbeat bills,” restricting abortion to the first six weeks of pregnancy—usually before a woman is even aware of it.

    “When we start restricting access to abortion, our country takes one step closer to Gilead,” says Elisabeth Moss, who stars in the show as June.

    Just last weekend, Kylie Jenner came under fire for throwing a Handmaid’s Tale-themed party—notably featuring “sexy” handmaid costumes and drinks like “Under His Eye Tequila.” Criticized for her extreme entitlement, the ability to jokingly trivialize the oppression of women clearly demonstrates wealth’s ability to shield her from inequity, the event inspired a number of think-pieces, including those questioning the need for the show’s existence in the first place. In a recent Guardian article, columnist Arwa Mahdawi argues, “Is dressing up as a handmaid for fun really so much worse than watching the TV adaptation, which seems to revel in violence against women and has been described as ‘torture porn’?”

    With the show’s increasingly gory and sadistic trajectory on the one hand and Kylie Jenner’s tactless party on the other, this PSA harkens back to the root of Handmaid's Tale, serving as a sharp reminder of how it should be viewed and understood.

    Think back to the first season. Remember when Serena Joy, Commander Waterford’s wife, wrote books and articles advocating for “domestic feminism”? You know, before plotting the demise of civilization as we know it? Well, people are sure as hell doing that now. Just look at anti-feminist Suzanne Venker who just wrote the ridiculous piece, “The real reason millennials are in such bad financial shape,” for the Washington Examiner, blaming women’s professional ambitions for the downturn of the entire economy.

    How about Aunt Lydia at the handmaid reception/indoctrination/internment center imploring the women to recognize themselves as having been sluts in their former lives, even going so far as to incite a group shaming for Janine’s having been an assault victim? Well, what about the viral tweet by writer Denise McAlister that blamed women’s uncontrollable horniness and “lubed legs” for unwanted pregnancies? These posts have gotten a lot of flack, but they have a lot of support, too.

    In season one, viewers were painstakingly walked through how American democracy fell and authoritarian Gilead rose. Women lost jobs and were thrown out of coffee shops; slurs were hurled at them, their money was taken away. As June says in the show, “Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub, you'd be boiled to death before you knew it.” She laments that she and her family were too late to flee the country, furiously wishing that they had recognized the signs earlier. With a striking resemblance to the trajectory of Hitler’s ascent in 1930s Germany (I mean, this show is basically a futuristic version of the Holocaust, see: the “normal guys” who let legislation pass without intervening, the Colonies, public hangings, etc.), Handmaid’s Tale poses the ever-frightening and omnipresent question: When is it time to cut and run?

    Though Handmaid’s Tale has been swept up by a dramatic and harrowing plot that lends itself both to valid criticism of a sensationalist approach to violence and female brutalization as well as consumption like any other TV show created for entertainment, this PSA serves as a reminder of what it’s really about. Handmaid’s Tale is about activism. It is about recognizing the signs that so many throughout history, like June, saw too late, and responding with swift, uncompromising action. It is about never getting to the point when we’ll wish we left sooner. 

    The show has the capacity to put viewers on their toes, to notice that the headlines we’re scrolling pass—children dying in immigration detention centers, anti-abortion bills, a growing number of humanitarian crimes—if gone unexcused, are horrible precursors to even more horrible things to come. Abortion restrictions must be struck down. Immigrants in border detention facilities must be released. Congress must impeach a President who openly flouts the law. And these measures can only be the start. Sitting quietly as rights are stripped away is how mass atrocities happen. Not just in some text book, but here and now and always. The Handmaid’s Tale, at the core of the show and in this PSA, is more than a disturbing plot or aHalloween costume—it is a call to arms.  

    Text RESIST to 22422 to get involved with Planned Parenthood and the fight for women’s right to reproductive healthcare.

    Top photo screenshot via Harper's BAZAAR US

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    A trial examining the effects of abortion ‘reversal’ has been stopped due to safety concerns for the participants. Carried out at the University of California in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researcher Dr. Mitchell D. Creinin wrote the study was investigating “the efficacy and safety of mifepristone antagonization with high-dose oral progesterone.” The trial ended when three women were rushed to the emergency room with extreme hemorrhaging; one received a blood transfusion.

    Those participating, it is worth noting, were already scheduled for a voluntary abortion and had consented to continuing their pregnancy for the experiment. As with most terminations, to induce a medical abortion, a two-pill dose of mifepristone and misoprostol is prescribed throughout a 24 hour period. Mifepristone stops the embryo from forming, while the latter forces a somewhat induced labour. It is seen as the most common and least invasive of methods. Not only that, but it is extremely effective and safe for the patient. Religious Pro-life groups and extreme Right-Wing Conservatives, however, have been vehemently pushing for a reversal pill to be available and offered to those seeking abortions— because what if, they argue, a woman changes her mind?

    In the study, patients ingested misoprostol followed by either progesterone or a placebo. Initially, the enrollment number was supposed to be at 40, because of finishing early the trials stopped at 12. Two individuals pulled out due to side-effects such as vomiting, nausea and bleeding (from each group) and three has such severe side effects they were rushed to the hospital. This may seem like a positive indication that the conclusion would be that this method is ineffective and hazardous, yet because it was halted the authors wrote, “Patients in early pregnancy who use only mifepristone may be at high risk of significant hemorrhage.”

    It’s difficult to believe these groups are truly trying to protect a woman and child’s health and safety by adding more trauma to people who are already going through the tough process of having an abortion and changing their mind, only for it to be too late. An ironic trend among pro-life women is the defense of having experienced it themselves, and feel remorse for their decision; believing their vindication lies within forcing others not to have the choice they once excercised.

    Conservatives argue that abortion rights should be dismantled because fetuses are potential children, and children are seen as gifts from God who should be protected. Even with this display of empathy, there is a staggering lack of concern given to the well-being of either the mother or child once the child is actually born. There are several legitimate reasons why women who become pregnant might be afraid to bring a child into the world besides their own personal or medical reasons for not wanting to take on this responsibility. For example, the lack of care and supportworking single mothers receive, the microscopic gun control laws that allow for the high-rates of school shootings nationwide, or the fact that children of low-income families are much less likely to have access to affordable healthcare (4.3 million in 2018), all of which is supported by the aforementioned groups.

    The national dialogue on abortion and reproductive rights are viciously divided by partisan politics, particularly in the Trump administration. In his presidency so far, he has proposed to block federal aid to Planned Parenthood and is constantly threatening to overturn Roe v. Wade. This year, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act was signed, preventing nearly all abortions in the state and could potentially imprison any professional that carried out one for life.

    Professionals within the medical industry have suggested there is no proof that such a pill could work, especially without endangering the mother. The general consensus is that there is a lack of evidence and a high chance of risk by not completing the two-pill dose. When speaking to VICE News, Chris Zahn, VP of the journal in which the study was published, said, “Even with its limitations, [the] study raises safety concerns about not completing the evidence-based regimen. Mifepristone is not intended to be used without follow-up misoprostol treatment.”

    There is still no significant evidence that there is a possible reversal abortion procedure. Some may say this study is sufficient. Others may jump on the fact that it was never completed, therefore, discrediting any warnings and findings as inconclusive. And, regardless of the little to no evidence, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Utah, and South Dakota have laws in place that require doctors to give patients information about a reversal pill. Other states in the U.S. from Ohio to Wisconsin to Texas all have similar bills upcoming in State Congress, like the Second Chance at Life Act at the Federal level.

    When it comes to women’s rights and safety, it seems some political groups will comfortably overlook scientific data and professional expertise from those within the medical field just for their own political gain and career achievement.

     

    Photo Courtesy of freestocks via unsplashed

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    Lots of other adoptees pose for photos with all kinds of anti-abortionsigns:

    “Adopted, Not Aborted.”

    “I Survived Death Roe.”

    “Conceived from Rape. I Love My Life.”

    “I was almost aborted. Thanks Mom!”

    “I’m adopted. My Mom Chose Life.”

    “I’m so happy my mother let me live!”

    But not me. I should have been aborted. I’m happy to be alive, but I should have been aborted.

    I’m not depressed or bitter.  There have been ups and downs, but I’ve had a wonderful life, and in many ways it gets wonderful-er all the time.  Still, my mother should have had the choice to choose her life, and not begin mine.

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    I was born when abortion was illegal.  Millions of women’s lives were changed, some ruined, by being forced to bear and raise children.  Thousands were forced to undergo painful and unsafe abortions. How many women were wounded, and how many died?  My biological mother had heard the horror stories and she was terrified that she might end up one of them.  So instead, she was one of the thousands who were forced to carry babies they couldn’t keep for 9 months.

    Her name was Doris. She was a 37-year-old secretary living in Washington, D.C.  She’d moved there as a young woman during WWII and had been working there ever since.  Doris was acquaintance-raped (or, as I like to call it, raped) by her boss.  It was only the second time she’d had intercourse, and like so many others, she also got pregnant. When Doris’s doctor told her she was going to have a baby, he implied he knew where she could go to not have one.  How did he say it, I wonder? What was the look on his face? Was he as embarrassed as poor Doris? Or was he kind and sensitive to her shame and fear?

    Anyway, despite the doctor’s implied solution, Doris was too scared to take her life in her hands. Her boss? He was not so particular.  When she told him she was pregnant (the only person on Earth she ever told), he gave her a check for $300. No explanation. She used the check to buy a Greyhound bus ticket to Miami Beach to wait out the pregnancy. She’d heard it was nice there; it would be warm, with no winter winds and no one to recognize her growing belly.

    When I met her, I tweezed some of the painful details.  How the lawyers stood over her hospital bed for hours that rainy morning, waiting for her to sign the adoption papers.  She’d arranged my adoption some months before, with the help of her ob-gyn.  But that morning, the signature came hard. I understand.  If I’d carried a paperweight inside me for 9 months, I’d be hard-pressed to give it up. No doubt arguments about a better life for the baby, and tales of a life of shame for her, eventually won the day. Long story short, here I am.

    It's not easy being raped, and it's not easy having to carry a baby to term, and then it's not easy to give that baby up. My mother shouldn't have had to go through all this. Not having an abortion changed the entire course of her life. She left her home in Washington, D.C. and went back to the Midwest town she'd left decades before. She never married, and she never returned to D.C.

    My mother became pregnant the second time a penis entered her vagina; her daughter got pregnant the first time. But unlike my mother, I was able to have a safe abortion. The procedure was safe and relatively painless, but the experience was a hard, difficult and painful. To be honest, it broke my heart. Insecure and not one for dating, I actually asked God to make me pregnant, thinking this might be my last chance. But when I found myself pregnant, reality set in. I realized that having a baby would doom me and the child to a rocky life of instability and uncertainty. The same youthful cluelessness that led to this poor decision would likely be followed by hundreds of others, making both me and a child poor, scared, and miserable.  Let this poor soul take the next car, I thought. But I was uncertain. I was 21. I still slept with a stuffed animal. My mom sensed I was shaky, and flew to my college town to show up and my door and personally drive me to the hospital. I cried. I was surrendering the only blood relative I’d ever know. I wanted a few seconds to say goodbye, but my mom was disgusted by my sentiment. Afterward, I worried for months (okay, years) that God would strike me down for the impertinence I’d shown my answered prayer.

    I tell you all this because I want people to know that I understand that giving a baby up for adoption is hard. I know that having an abortion is hard. I know that both can break your heart.

    I also know that being alive has its perks, and I’m grateful. I’m grateful to live the life of a woman who can make decisions and choices about how that life should go. What good is my life if I can’t guide and shape that life I’ve been given? What good is a life without one’s own oversight and choices, and the agency lead the life one’s own heart and mind thinks best?

    The war on women gave me my life by taking away my mother’s. And now it’s dead-set on taking away the lives of millions of women. I’m okay with  saying my mother should have been able to have a safe abortion I’m okay with saying I should haven't been born. So I fight and will always fight for women's reproductive rights. Not every baby needs to be born, but every woman who is born deserves dominion over her own body and the right to determine her own destiny.

    Top photo via Wikimedia Commons/Nancy Wong

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    Presidential candidate Joe Biden has supported the Hyde amendment—legislation that by-and-large prohibits the use of federal money to fund abortions—for over forty years. A mere two days after reaffirming his long-held position on Wednesday, which falls outside the contemporary norm for democratic candidates, massive backlash has Biden calling for its repeal.

    The Hyde amendment, first voted into law in 1976, prevents Medicaid from covering abortion in cases other than rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother. Unlike wealthy women who can afford to pay for their abortions out-of-pocket should the situation demand it; this amendment leaves women relying on government healthcare with little recourse other than to undergo risky abortion procedures or carry the fetus to term.

    A study cited by The New York Times estimates that up to 60,000 abortions are stopped by the Hyde amendment every year.

    Unsurprisingly, the amendment has received substantial criticism as exceptionally targeting poor women and women of color in the already delightful crusade against female body autonomy. “Due to the structural inequalities in our country that link racism, sexism, and economic inequality,” reports Planned Parenthood, “30% of Black women and 24% of Hispanic women are enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 14% of white women.” With 1 in 5 women on Medicare, 20% of the female population is effectively denied its constitutional right to choose.

    The Hyde amendment has consistently limited abortion accessibility for over forty years and pushing for its repeal has become mainstream policy among democrats—including just about every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. It’s even listed on the Democratic party’s platform

    But not for Joe Biden. Despite being a frontrunner in the democratic primary (not to mention former VP and proud owner of the middle name “Robinette”), Biden’s history on abortion is not quite what you’d expect of the guy who claimed to have “the most progressive record” of any candidate.

    Biden has spoken openly about being opposed to abortion in his personal life as a result of his Catholic faith. In a 2012 debate between Biden and then-candidate Paul Ryan, Biden stated: “I accept my church’s position on abortion as a de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgement.” He continues, saying “I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews....I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people, women, that they can’t control their body.”

    But does his voting record demonstrate this same commitment to separation of public policy from personal opinion? According to an NBC investigation, Biden voted in 1977 against the inclusion of rape and incest, alongside danger to the life of the mother, in the list of abortions eligible for government funding. They passed anyway, and he signed a bill calling for their removal in 1981. The “Biden amendment” was passed the same year, preventing the use of government funds for foreign, biomedical research regarding “abortion or involuntary sterilization.” It remains a law to this day. According to the New York Times, he voted in support of the Hyde amendment—which must be renewed every year—a number of times, and until Wednesday, he still stood by it.

    “The most progressive record”? Not as far as abortion goes.

    To his credit, when Biden was criticized for his continued support of the Hyde amendment this past week, he changed his stance. Despite refusing to apologize for his former position, he got on board with the rest of the Democrats with calling for the amendment’s appeal. And while some critics suspect this flip-flopping has more to do with politics than a sudden change of heart, there is something to be said for a politician who listens to the citizens, hears their concerns, and responds accordingly. This change shows adaptability and a desire to represent the majority viewpoint—admirable traits that are not to be undervalued in an administration where basic decorum is a stretch.

    But with some states trying to all but outlaw abortion, do we want someone who is just catching up? Someone who only in 2019 realizes, “hey, maybe allwomen should have access to safe, legal abortion instead of just the ones who can afford it.” There’s a lot to be said for evolution, but when the U.S. has turned into a glorified Black Mirrorepisode, do we have the time to wait?

    Top Photo via Wikimedia Commons/ Official Vice Presidential photo, 2013. 

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    New York City’s $92.8 billion budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year was announced last Friday, with $250,000 set aside to finance abortions. Though a relatively small sum in the grand scheme of the nine-digit budget, this allocation makes New York City the first to directly fund abortions, as opposed to Planned Parenthood and other abortion-providing medical facilities that pay for a variety of sexual healthcare services, according to The New York Times.

    The money will go to New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), which dedicates itself to the subsidizing of safe abortions for uninsured women who could not otherwise cover the costs, as well as women coming from outside New York. According to a statement published by NYAAF, “Abortion is prohibitively expensive for many people with the average cost ranging from $523 at 10 weeks, to $3000 at 24 weeks gestation. Even in New York and the 16 other states that provide Medicaid coverage for abortion, thousands of low-income people fall between the cracks.”

    Approximately 500 women can expect to have their abortions covered by this fund in the coming year, with approximately a third being out-of-towners.

    With abortion bans sweeping the country—legislation barring women from terminating their pregnancies after obscenely short time frames or forcing just about every clinic to shut its doors—New York’s allocation of funds sets the city up as a haven for abortion seekers. “As it gets harder for people to access abortion in conservative states,” writes NYAFF, “NYC will likely see an increase in out-of-state folks seeking abortion. This city funding means NYAAF will be better-equipped to keep up with the increasing demand and to continue building a movement to lift barriers to abortion access here in New York and across the country.”

    The new budget is set to take effect on July 1, and is one of a growing number of measures taken to protect abortion in the face of conservative backlash. Medical professionals with the authority to perform abortions has been expanded to include nurses and physician’s assistants in Maine and Illinois, according to ThinkProgress. New York and Vermont, as reported in The Hill, have both passed bills with language protecting the right to abortion even in the case of a Roe v. Wade overturn.

    Though this New York fund will help real women get abortions, the statement the allocation makes in the face of growing restrictions on abortions extends far past the five hundred who will directly reap the benefits. Not only does the allotment emphasize the personal responsibility of every city and every legislator to oppose the attacks on women’s healthcare, but it promotes the reassuring message that, no matter where a woman lives, people will always be fighting to get her the abortion she needs.

    Top photo via New York Abortion Access Fund

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    With a lilac backdrop and adorable icons next to words like “cervical mucus,” the FEMM app is millennial kryptonite. Easy to scroll through and undoubtedlyaesthetic, the fertility app is meant to help users “get pregnant or avoid pregnancy” by inputting information about their periods, emotional states, sex lives, medication, and more. It’s too cute to feel clinical. The daily check-in feels like a diary entry, a guided exercise in self-reflection—self-care instead of a doctor’s appointment.

    Who knew far-right, anti-abortion Catholic activists had their fingers so firmly on the pulse of youth culture?

    A May 30 investigation by The Guardian reveals that behind FEMM’s stellar graphic design are an anti-abortion CEO, backing by extremist Catholic funders, and on-deck healthcare consultants who are either unlicensed in the U.S. or flat-out not OB/GYNs.

    Were the app purely used for women to keep track of their cycles, the politico-religious views of its leadership may not have mattered. But, as CEO Anna Halpine explained in a 2017 YouTube interview with anti-abortion channel Life Network Foundation Malta, once women enter in their information, “the app then gives them personalized feedback about their health, their body, and the health choices that they want to make.” This includes referring users back to their own doctors and health centers.

    Halpine first gained notoriety in the Catholic world following a 1999 UN speech advocating for “a right to abortion, sexual rights for children, and the removal of parental oversight in sexual matters” on behalf of global youth. Appalled by such deplorableideas, Halpine founded the World Youth Alliance (WYA), according to The Catholic World Report, an organization dedicated to hyper-conservative ideals with a strong anti-abortion bent.

    Now it shares an office with millennial-friendly, lilac-background, let’s-talk-about-the-consistency-of-your-vaginal-discharge FEMM.

    Furthermore, FEMM’s 2017 financial statement, the most recent disclosed on its website, indicates that the organization received a total $618, 653 in contributions that year. More probing on behalf of The Guardian revealed that a significant portion of that funding comes from the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a nonprofit headed by notorious anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion conservative Sean Fieler. Providing just under $3.7 million to FEMM between 2013-2017, their $445, 500 donation in 2017 made up approximately three fourths of the year’s total contributions. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something in FEMM’s mission that Fieler can find to agree with?

    Maybe it’s the fact that despite appearing like any other fertility tracker—potentially particularly attractive to liberal youth given its “millennial” style—FEMM promotes a life free of the recommended contraceptives. You know, like condoms and birth control pills. Though you’d never guess it from the sweet, little tap through menus asking about how you’re feeling that day, a simple browse of the FEMM website reveals clear statements advocating for reliance on fertility cycles to avoid or induce pregnancy, rather than standard birth control methods.

    A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study cited by The Guardian marks this to be one of the least effective methods of birth control, with 24% of women experiencing unwanted pregnancies.

    The FEMM website, however, falsely claims: “FEMM is just as effective but more attractive because it does not risk unpleasant side effects and also empowers women to monitor their health. An investigation of high contraceptive discontinuation rates proposes that women want a method that is both effective and free of side effects, two conditions that FEMM satisfies.”

    Statements like this make it unsurprising that the “medical advisers” advertised by the application don’t really hold up—one being a family practitioner rather than an OB/GYN, another lacking a U.S. medical license. No FEMM medical practitioner has the legal means to practice in the United States, most being based out of Chile, according to The Guardian.

    Without clearly marketing itself as an anti-birth control app, skewed information is spread insidious ways, hidden in plain sight. Take the questions on their online FAQ. One asks, “I’m on hormonal birth control to manage my irregular cycles, is that good?” FEMM answers with a strong ‘no,’ writing, “Birth control pills disrupt or suppress natural hormone production.” The anti-birth control, anti-abortion framework behind this popular app is not something that an average user would notice when purchasing or even using the app, but it’s there, lurking, in every analysis of information and every piece of and advice that’s given out.

    Cleverly tucked away in crafty wording, donations, and the annals of their website, FEMM is peddling risky birth control methods to an unsuspecting audience. Now you know: don’t be one of them.

    Top photo screenshot via Life Network Foundation Malta

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    Anti-choice groups are surely, surely, exhausting their reasons and facts for women not having the right to abortions by now. From "It’s murder;" "it isn’t natural;" to "who are we to decide?"; and “but they have fingernails!” And it appears that since they are running out and scraping the unjust barrel, these baby-loving groups have deemed, without any evidence to back it up, that not one abortion has or will ever be medically needed. The group “ProLife OBYGYNS” tweeted about their latest epiphany last week and people’s responses were arguably what the group wanted: an angry and frustrated reaction.

    Internet personality and OB/GYN, Mama Doctor Jones, wasn’t just about to sigh and scroll past this worrying message, rather, she replied with a series of examples on how many abortions she has personally dealt that were medically required. She wrote on an Instagram post, “I am not interested in discussing the politics of abortion here, but when an outright medical lie is being spread by people tasked with sharing real information, we have to talk about. Pregnancy, abortion, life and death situations...this is not black and white.” In the cases she used to clarify her point there were hemorrhages, seizures, high blood pressure, and organ failure. All of which were severe enough to terminate the pregnancy (one being 21 weeks) and save the mother’s life.

     

     

    Mama Doctor Jones is a YouTube and TikTok celebrity, followed by 4.1 million on the latter. Her aim is to educate the younger generation about sex, STIs and STDs, contraceptives and anything else people who write in ask her. The app, most popular with Gen-Z, is premised on short clips of videos filmed and edited by users. Some of the more popular types of clips are lip-synching, dancing and Vine-style comedy, but there’s also a lot more. Much like the internet does, the videos vary in infinite genres that can lead even the most restrained of people down an hour-long technology rabbit hole. Recently, a TikTok video went viral when a nurse advised young people that the only way to STI’s and STD’s was abstinence before marriage.

    Although Mama Doctor Jones gives scientifically correct and helpful information that will hold the attention of young people through her videos (a favorite of mine shows her as an IUD “just chilling” before a sperm with a backward baseball cap and sunglasses dies), just like anything on the internet it isn’t regulated or certified.

     

    @mamadoctorjones

     

    ♬ Y U Gotta B Like That - Audrey MiKa

    This gives the opportunity for some medical professionals to give unsolicited and potentially harmful advice. Mama Doctor Jones’s bio on the app reads “YouTuber Sex ed your health class forgot.” This is hard to disagree with, because of the dated and uninformative sex-ed classes many remember throughout their school days. Her message is admirable and absolutely needed, but it does mean others with alternative views will give it a go and could result in a lack of trust, including Mama Doctor Jones, for reliable medical social media accounts.

    Check out more of Mama Doctor Jones' TikToks  

    @mamadoctorjones

    Hold up ? ✌️ ? first you need... #fyp

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    @mamadoctorjones

     

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    @mamadoctorjones

    Your boyfriend lied. #douche #tiktokdoc

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  • lucia 48UaeIMNAA4 unsplash 1 1523e

    Earlier this week, abortion rights were on the ballot in Louisiana and Colorado. In Louisiana, voters passed an amendment to the state constitution adding clarifying language that the state does not offer protection for abortion rights or funding. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion policy will be left up to the states. Louisiana already has "trigger laws" in place, meaning that abortion would automatically become illegal in the state if Roe falls. But adding insult to injury, this new amendment  would make it even more difficult for lawyers to challenge an abortion ban.

    The amendment added the following to the Louisiana Declaration of Rights: "To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion." The Associated Press states that Louisiana's Amendment 1 was approved by a majority of 62.1% to 37.9%. There are already only three abortion clinics left in the entirety of Louisiana, and this legislative action is positioned to make it even harder to obtain reproductive healthcare in the future if Roe is reversed.

    According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research center that supports reproductive freedom, "A reversal of Roe could establish a legal path for states' pre-1973 abortion bans, as well as currently unenforced post-1973 bans, to take effect." There are now 21 states that use language in their constitutions that effectively restrict abortion in the scenario that Roe v. Wade is struck down.

    Colorado voted in the opposite direction from Louisiana. According to CNN, voters rejected Proposition 115 by a 59% to 41% vote. This proposition would have banned abortion beginning at 22 weeks of pregnancy unless the pregnant person's life was in immediate danger. There would be no exceptions for rape or incest. Although the polls were close, abortion's legal protections in the state were sustained.

    Colorado is unique because it is one of the only states with no gestational limits on abortion. However, it is important to note that only 1.2% of abortions occur at or after 21 weeks. The Guttmacher Institute points out that people seeking an abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy typically experience more logistical delays than those who have abortions in the first trimester. These include locating a provider, raising funds for the procedure and transportation costs, and obtaining or confirming health insurance coverage. Not only is late-term abortion rare, but researchers in 2004 found that 58 percent of abortion patients reported that they would have preferred to have had their abortion earlier than they did.

    Herein lies one of the most troubling illustrations of what a post-Roe America would look like: coastal and liberal states would maintain the right to choose, while people in the South and swaths of middle America would be left with no support. Research has found that 24% of women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the age of 45. That's roughly one-quarter of women in the country. With numbers like that, it's hard to sell the idea that abortion bans would stop abortions from happening. Equally important is the fact that the conditions for why people may need to have an abortion will still apply.  

    Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia, and Louisiana all have similar language in their state constitutions that would make challenging an abortion ban incredibly difficult. Each state is one of the 10 most impoverished in the nation. The Guttmacher Institute has found that "some 75% of abortion patients in 2014 were poor (having an income below the federal poverty level of $15,730 for a family of two in 2014) or low-income (having an income of 100–199% of the federal poverty level)." In 2014, 10 percent of women traveled 50 to 100 miles, and 8 percent traveled more than 100 miles to reach an abortion clinic. This number would undoubtedly go up if Roe falls, but there are massive barriers to this kind of travel. Between needing to take time off work, gas or public transportation costs, and lodging, safe abortions simply will not be accessible to the most vulnerable populations.

    While abortion rates are on the decline, especially as contraception has become more accessible, they are still an essential part of reproductive freedom. The Supreme Court is the most conservative it has been since the 1930s, putting the already uncertain future of Roe onto a tightrope. Like we have seen in America's recent history, banning abortion does not stop them from happening; it prevents them from being safe.

    If you would like to help support reproductive freedom in Louisiana, you can donate to the New Orleans Abortion Fund here.

    Top Image via Unsplash/Lucia

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