pro-choice

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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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    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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    On July 1, a video flooded Twitter depicting a group of protestors marching down the street chanting “My Body, My Choice.” However, this wasn’t an event for reproductive rights. This video featured a right-wing group protesting the mask orders that recently went into effect in Sanford, Florida. 

    The mask mandate was announced on Monday afternoon, stating residents of Seminole County, FL will now be required to wear masks while out in public as an added measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. “Every person working, living, visiting or doing business in Seminole County is required to wear a face covering consistent with CDC guidelines while at all businesses, places of assembly and other places open to the public,” the executive order reads.

    This is only one example of right-wing protestors using the phrase to protest government-mandated protective measures against COVID-19. Another Twitter image went viral of a young person in Texas protesting the state’s stay-at-home order with a sign bearing the same words. 

    “My Body, My Choice” is a phrase that roots itself in the reproductive rights movement, referencing a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. It is historically grounded in structural violence, injustices, and inequality against women – yet, time and time again, it has been co-opted by the right. This is a tactic NARAL has identified as a textbook move in the “Anti-Choice Propaganda Playbook.” We saw this little trick deploying during this year’s annual anti-choice March for Life rally, which was themed “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman” in an attempt to co-opt feminism – arguing that restricting a woman’s reproductive freedom is empowering.

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    A meta-analysis of 172 studies published on June first found that mask-wearing significantly reduces the risk of viral transmission. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it’s more important than ever to mask up. So, not only has the phrase been taken out of historical context: it’s been contorted to fit a sentiment that is injurious to others. Not exactly Pro-Life, is it?

    Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, points out that “‘our body, our choice’ is invalid because it is ‘not just your body.’ But in using the message here to protest efforts to protect our collective health and well-being, they are exposing themselves and simultaneously jeopardizing literally thousands of lives.”

    Header image via Matthew Henry on Burst

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