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Feminism Worth a Thousand Words

26 Apr

I found this to be very profound. Thought I’d share it . . .

My Uterus and I Have Something to Say

5 Apr

Every time I read another article about the proposed legislation against women’s rights, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. Yesterday, I almost had a total meltdown out of frustration and sadness.

I’m sick of hearing the same illogical arguments from anti-choice people. I’m sick of hearing politicians try to force their religion down my throat by means of eliminating my reproductive rights. I’m sick and tired of it and I can’t take it any more with out saying something.

First, I’d like to point out that there are only two ways to categorize your thoughts about abortion. You are either “pro-choice” or “anti-choice.” There’s no such thing as pro-life. Give me a break – everyone is pro-life! However, based one your beliefs (wether they be personal or religious) we all have different opinions about when life begins. Considering that there are studies professing all sorts of facts about this topic – it remains a very personal decision based on what you choose to believe. Hence the term, “pro-choice” because it should be left up to the woman, her partner, and her doctor to make a decision that is best for them and their beliefs.

Second, if I hear one more person call Planned Parenthood the “nations largest abortion provider,” I’m gonna lose it. According to the Guttmacher Institute there were approximatly 1.3 million abortions performed throughout the USA in 2009. Planned Parenthood performed approximatly 300,000 abortion in 2009. Lets to the math together: 300,000 divided by 1.3 million = 0.2307. This means that Planned Parenthood is responsible for 23% of the abortions performed annually in the USA. HELLO?! Thats less than a quarter! This means that there are a lot of abortions happening in places other than Planned Parenthood. However, they can get away with calling them the “largest abortion provider” because, as an organization, they provide more abortions than any other single organization. Basically, these politicians are doing what they do best: manipulating the truth for their benefit. Do the math for yourself. Don’t believe their manipulative lies about the statistics.

What does planned parenthood do to make their money each year? Well, for starters, in 2009 they’ve provided cancer screening and prevention for over 1.8 million women, including pap tests, HPV vaccinations, breast exams, and colposcopy procedures. They’ve provided STI/STD testing and treatment for almost 4 million men and women. And they’ve made contraception services accessible for over 4 million men and women. Total, Planned Parenthood has made reproductive health care possible for over 11 million men and women, who may not have had this benefit otherwise because 75% of their clients have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. (Example: According to the Health and Human Services, the federal poverty level for a single woman is $10,830 a year. This changes based on number of people in the family.)

Third, someone said to me the other day, “I don’t want my tax dollars paying for your abortion.” Planned Parenthood receives NO federal funding for abortions services.NONE! From Huffington Post,

“Although, Planned Parenthood receives zero federal dollars for abortion services and uses all government funding for preventative care, conservative rhetoric continues to portray the organization as a taxpayer-funded abortion factory.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself! For those of you who still think your tax dollars are paying for abortions, I’d like to introduce you to the Hyde Amendment. “Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has excluded abortion from the comprehensive health care services provided to low-income people by the federal government through Medicaid.” The federal exception for funding for abortion exists in cases of rape, incest, or when a pregnant woman’s life is endangered by a physical disorder, illness or injury. As Kristen Schaal, sarcastically points out on the Jon Stewart show, federal funds paid for a mere 191 abortions in 2006, for cases of rape, incest or where the woman’s life was in danger. This works out to be two tenths of a penny (.2) per tax payer. (Any one who would like a refund come see me. I’ll even refund it with interest and make it an entire penny.)

Fourth, quit using the under cover videos and phone calls from Live Action as proof of anything that happens in Planned Parenthood. From Huff Post, “Despite the questionable legitimacy of the Live Action reports, conservative lawmakers continue to use them in their arguments for defunding Planned Parenthood.” They have proven that these videos were highly edited to distort the health workers statements. Again, manipulate the truth (did you expect anything less?). Quit using them as proof of anything.

Fifth, I seem to remember something about a separation of Church and State. Republicans and Tea Baggers are opposed to abortion for one specific reason: religion. The problem is, I don’t believe what you believe. I don’t believe in your god or your religion and last time I checked we live in a country where we have freedom of religion. Which, as a friend pointed out, also means freedom from religion. I would never tell anyone they were wrong for believing what they choose to about abortion based on their religion. Thats why it’s called PRO-CHOICE! Because it’s your choice. When having a discussion with someone the other day they said to me, “I am pro-life because I believe god knits each one of us in our mothers womb. Psalm 139: god knew us before he laid the foundation of this world. I will not keep that to myself.” I would never ever tell this man that he was wrong for believing that. That’s his religion of choice and if he is ever faced with an unwanted pregnancy, he will obviously choose not to end it. However – don’t you dare try to inflict your religious beliefs on me when it comes to my reproductive rights. He finished his letter by saying he would pray for me. Seriously dude, spare me. Please do not pray for me because I do not want your god or your religion anywhere near my uterus.

Seems to me that this new wave of anti-choice legislation is more about punishing and shaming women than it is about saving babies. Jon Stewart says,

“They want to cut everything from family care to prenatal care to child nutrition. It’s like the Republican Congress is saying, “You can’t prevent an unwanted child. You can’t get care if you do get pregnant, and you can’t get any help after the baby is born. But — for those two minutes when the skull is crowning your baby is the most precious thing on Earth.”

I’m hesitant to post these videos cause it’s sad to me that it’s so outrageous that it’s becoming a joke, but I think they’re worth watching. Check them out here and here. They are pretty funny and informative at the same time.

So, now, lets talk about the fucking hypocrisy that is happening here. They are de-funding Planned Parenthood as part of the budget-cuts, because they don’t want their tax dollars paying for abortions (which we’ve established already that they aren’t and haven’t since 1976 and that these are really a back door way to express their religious views). Cause where else could we get that money from? Well lets see – General Electric make 10.3 Billion dollars last year and paid (ready for this) NOTHING in taxes. And this is only one example of one company. And for everyone who says, “I don’t want my taxes paying to kill innocent babies.” I’ve got news for you – your taxes (and lots of them) pay to make bombs and fund our military which kills THOUSANDS of innocent people in the war. Moms and Dads, children and babies, even pregnant women. So again, that argument is null and void unless you plan on defunding our military too. OH – and lets talk about how much BIG money is involved in the health care industry. Planned Parenthood makes nothing compared to the big pharmaceutical companies, who may I remind you, pay very little taxes.

Here you have these CEO’s making millions of dollars each year and there are men and women who can’t afford have basic health care services at high-end doctors, who can use Planned Parenthood as an alternative for low-cost care that they can afford, but we are going to cut their funding and propose all this legislation to make it almost impossible for them to function, leaving these low-income men and mostly women with no affordable health care. Something is terribly wrong with this picture.

What pisses me off the most is that there are so many young women who either aren’t interested in these issues or don’t know anything about them. Well, it’s time to get involved! It’s time for every woman to realize that there are HUGE losses on the line right now. Your body is being legislated based on religious reasons, yet they aren’t allowed to say “uterus” on the house floor any more. Your reproductive rights are on the chopping block and you need to start standing up for them. Get involved. Learn about what’s going on and take a stand. Stop acting like it doesn’t effect you, because it does. I guarantee that someone you know has had an abortion and/or been a patient at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

So please, for all of us, if you love your body and you cherish it as your own, don’t let these politicians regulate it with their religious beliefs. Start speaking out and tell them to keep their god out of your uterus!

What Should a Mother Represent

3 Jun

The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Over the memorial day weekend I partied with some really good friends. On one night a woman – who was in her 20’s – came by with her friend and also brought her 6-year-old son. We were all pretty shocked. She was teaching him how to play beer pong, and he was hanging out with a bunch of drunk 20 year olds. Now, I really have no right to judge what she does with her son. Surfin3rdWave over at the feministing community talks about her friends experience as a young mom and the expectations we place on mothers to set good examples, in her post Mothers Shouldn’t _____. I would never try to tell anyone what they should or should not do as a parent. I have no experience in parenting and I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulties parents deal with. But the post and the situation with the 6-year-old at the party raised some questions for me. I also had some of the same thoughts that Surfin3rdWave brings up in Mothers Shouldn’t _____. An excerpt:

My friend, a single mother of two children, celebrated her 21st birthday last weekend. After she tucked her two kids into bed, her trusted neighbor came over to babysit, and she and I went out for drinks.

We got absolutely blasted– I think we each had about five drinks. We stayed out until nearly two in the morning, laughing and cutting up, until the booze wore off. Then, stone-cold sober, she returned home to her kids, paid the babysitter, and returned to her remarkably responsible life as a young, single mother.

I had been recounting our evening out to a mutual friend, and he interrupted me to say that he can’t believe she– my friend– would do that. He said that mothers shouldn’t drink, or at least not get drunk, because they have responsibilities.

This puzzled me– we didn’t get drunk around her children or do anything that could endanger them. Nobody puffed second-hand pot-smoke into  her baby’s crib or handed a margarita to her one-year-old. But still, our friend was judgmental about what mothers aren’t supposed to do.

We are living in a world where women are being taught that they don’t have to jump into marriage and have babies right after they finish college. Many more women are now having careers than they ever have. Yet, at the same time, the US has the highest rates of teen pregnancies and births in the western industrialized world. Thirty-four percent of young women become pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20. (FFA) In 2006 42 out of every 1,000 girls ages 15-19 had babies. Ten percent of all U.S. births are to teens. (Guttmacher)

So in a world where women are becoming more independant, yet we have so many young mothers, where do you find a standard for what mothers are or aren’t supposed to represent?. Who sets that standard? What does maternal (or also paternal) responsibility mean. Was it appropriate for this woman to bring her 6-year-old son to a party and teach him how to play beer pong?

I started thinking about what maternal responsbility means. Mothers should, according to our culture, abstain from drinking, smoking, sex, unhealthy eating, late nights out, and everything else deemed “slutty” or “irresponsible”. Mothers shouldn’t do anything outside the kitchen or the nursery.

What does it mean to be a responsible parent? Can a mother get drunk and still be a good mother? Can she play video-games until three in the morning if she still takes care of her kids the next day? Can she smoke a joint and watch cartoons when her children are asleep in the next room?

Where do you draw the line of maternal responsibility? Is is ever okay to drink in front of children? Can mothers have grown-up fun without influencing their children negatively?

Where do you draw the line about showing your children who you really are? Or how much of yourself should you be willing to give up because you want to set a good example for your children? I don’t think mothers or fathers should have to give up any of themselves as long as they can still have responsible parenting skills. In my opinion, the women I met at the party this weekend should have done what the woman in Surfin3rdWave’s story did. But who am I to say it’s wrong for a 6-year-old to be hanging out with a bunch of drunk twenty-somethings.

When I was younger my parents would have company parties at our house and by the end of some of those parties there were always people so drunk that they ended up falling in the pool or knocking over a planter. But I also saw my parents partying responsibly. For example, they never let people drive home drunk. They were extremely cautious about that.

I also love how Surfin3rdWave poses the same question from the opposite viewpoint:

For that matter– do mothers who resign themselves to childbearing and cooking set a bad example, too? Is it okay for children to know that their mothers like getting drunk more than they like washing dishes?

In a culture where we are telling young woman they can be independent, and be the best them they can be, it should be okay for them to be someone else other then the homemaker, stay-at-home, mom type.

I think it is possible to be a young responsible mother, and allow yourself to enjoy your youth at the same time. I think it’s something that is changing with our culture, which like any good change, takes time to perfect and be accepted.

Florida Senate Bill 2446 – Parental Notice of Abortion Act

28 Apr

Sitting on the cold, white tile of a bathroom floor, hugging her knees tightly to her chest is a slender, brunette, 14-year-old girl named Tara. Her heart is pounding like that of a humming bird. In her right hand, she’s holding onto a plastic, white stick. A cool damp sweat is starting to cover her hands as she awaits the appearance of what she hopes will be one single, pink line. Just outside the bathroom door, she can hear her drunk dad yelling at the TV, followed by the glass explosion of a liquor bottle as it shatters against the wall. She checks her watch anxiously waiting for the two minutes to be up. She closes her eyes as she tilts her head back, thinking about all the possible outcomes. The timer on her watch goes off. She braces herself for what she’s about to find out. Tears start to flow over the rims of her perfectly mascaraed eyes at the sight of two bright pink lines. Curled up, all alone on the frigid bathroom floor, Tara has just learned that she is pregnant—and is facing a flurry of decisions.

Because Tara is under 16 and is a Florida resident, if she chooses to end her pregnancy with an abortion and is unable or unwilling to notify her parents, she will have to face a formidable and complicated court system. In the state of Florida, Senate Bill 2446 – Parental Notice of Abortion Act (SB 2446) requires that if a minor under the age of 16 chooses to terminate a pregnancy, she must notify her parent or guardian. She does not need her parent’s consent, only proof that they have been notified. Although some physician’s policies vary, most require a signed notification form and a copy of the parent or guardian’s ID. The Parental Notice of Abortion Act includes a sub-section allowing for a girl under the age of 16 to petition the court for a judicial bypass waiver of parental notice if she is unable to tell her parents about her decision to have an abortion. In Florida, over 45,000 teens get pregnant every year and 14,000 of them choose to have an abortion. (“Oppose” 1) According to the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, less than 600 teens (or less than one-half percent) petitioned Florida’s courts for a judicial bypass in 2009. The fact is, most girls involve a parent in their decision to have an abortion, and those who don’t usually have a good reason not to. One study showed that 22% of girls who did not tell a parent about their abortion decision feared that if they told their parents, they would be kicked out of the house. More than 8% feared that they would be physically abused because their parents had beaten them before. Of those who did not tell a parent, 12% did not live with either parent and 14% had parents who abused drugs or alcohol. (ACLU, par. 7) When a girl under the age of 16 decides to have an abortion but does not feel it is in her best interest to inform her parents, a functioning judicial system is crucial. The Florida Senate is currently attempting to make amendments to the Parental Notice of Abortion Act that focus entirely on imposing additional barriers and roadblocks to the parental notice judicial bypass system, which could make it almost impossible for a young girl to turn to the courts for protection. The proposed amendments are irrelevant and unnecessary and should not be passed.

Dealing with an unintended pregnancy is a very scary situation for anyone and can leave the strongest of people feeling helpless. For a 16-year-old girl with no support from her parents, it takes a magnitude of courage and maturity to petition the court for Judicial Waiver of Parental Notice. The judicial bypass sub-section of SB 2446 states that a judge must find “clear and convincing evidence that the minor is sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.” (SB 2446) The wording, as is, does not mandate any specific requirements be met about the girl’s individual character, allowing a judge to base his/her decision on each individual case. One of the proposed amendments would require that a judge consider additional futile factors such as; the girl’s overall intelligence, her emotional development and stability, her credibility and demeanor as a witness, her ability to accept responsibility and to assess both immediate and long-range consequences of her choice. This amendment is entirely extraneous and unrealistic. How does a girl prove her overall intelligence to someone she’s never met? Will she have to bring in a report card as evidence? None of these qualities have anything to do with her parent’s ability to treat her situation properly. Furthermore, why does a teen girl’s intelligence, emotional development, credibility or demeanor have anything to do with her ability to choose not to continue a pregnancy? Ironically, women with very low IQ levels, who are emotionally unstable are giving birth to children every day, so why should a young girl have to prove she’s intelligent enough to obtain an abortion without parental notification? Many abortions are acquired at a Planned Parenthood center. Planned Parenthood has the reputation of being an abortion provider, but the truth is abortions make up only 5% of the services they perform each year. (PPFA) They provide regular exams and health-care to millions of women and pride themselves on having a great staff of counselors. When a girl comes to a Planned Parenthood center, she is given a plethora of information about her options. This includes adoption and family planning assistance, along with literature about abortion. Most states enforce a 48-hour waiting period between the time a girl decides to have an abortion and the date it can be done. Dealing with an unintended pregnancy is not something a girl takes lightly and presumably consumes every single one of her thoughts. Of the chance that it was an impulse decision, young girls have the time and material to weigh all their options. If a girl has already been through this and has decided to go forth with petitioning for judicial bypass, she is unquestionably aware of her decisions and the immediate and long-range effects that an abortion will have. This amendment to the judicial bypass sub-section makes no sense and is just another attempt at making it harder for a young girl to obtain an abortion.

Currently, the judicial bypass sub-section allows a girl to file her petition with any circuit court in the district where she resides. For example, if a girl living in Liberty County, FL—part of the second circuit with a population of only 7,021 people (Florida State Courts)—wants to file for judicial bypass, she can currently file her case in any of the six circuit courts in the district that Liberty County is part of. The total population for all counties in that district is 1,933,343 (State of Florida). One of the proposed amendments to SB 2446 would require a girl to file for judicial bypass waver in the circuit court where she resides. This could effectively intimidate a small-town girl who might wish to keep her anonymity during the judicial bypass process, entirely violating the need for the judicial bypass in the first place.

Most teens under the age of 16 do not have jobs. In Florida, a minor under the age of 17 may only work 30 hours-per-week (Florida Child Labor Law), so chances are that even if they are employed, they are not overly wealthy. Because of this, SB 2446 states that “no filing fees or court costs shall be required of any minor.” One of the proposed amendments to the bill will change the wording to say “filing fees or court costs may not be required.” The only reason to make this change would be to independently decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not to charge for judicial bypass but does not set down clear guidelines, rendering the amendment ambiguous. If a girl chooses to have an abortion at a Planned Parenthood facility, the costs is anywhere from 375–500 dollars. Finding a way to come up with that amount of money is a very serious factor for anyone considering an abortion. Asking a teen to possibly be responsible for court costs is simply an attempt to complicate the process. This vague amendment should not be made to the judicial bypass sub-section of SB 2446.

Taking a pregnancy test and ending up staring at those two pink lines can bring out an array of emotions for different people. For girls like Tara who find themselves alone and dealing with an unintended pregnancy, it can be a most devastating feeling. An unwanted pregnancy can turn a girl’s life into a nightmare, especially if their home life is less than ideal to begin with. The need for judicial bypass is essential to the health and needs of many young girls. The amendments being proposed to SB 2446 are just a back-door attempt at making it harder, if not impossible, to obtain an abortion. They are trivial changes to a sufficiently functioning system that was created to assist girls who desperately need the autonomy of the decision to have an abortion. The Florida Senate should not adopt the proposed amendment to the Parental Notice of Abortion act.