Because I am a Woman

This blog is about sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism. Because I am a Woman features articles, news, opinion pieces, digital media, and original information posts on all of the topics and more.

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Posts tagged "prochoice"
As Ingall and Grose point out, women’s experiences of their lives, especially their reproductive lives, should not be forced into a rigid box of cultural expectation. Unfortunately, it’s that very box that determines how American culture and policy treat women, their health, and their bodies. Anti-abortion mania, judgment of women who choose to not procreate, judgment of women who do procreate and breastfeed, or don’t breastfeed, or work, or don’t work… As a culture, we insist on fetishizing motherhood, and only want to imagine glowing pregnancies and bouncing babies. But the spectrum of women’s reproductive lives encompasses so much more than that. Women have myriad experiences and feelings, but we are taught to deny the unpleasant, to hide what doesn’t conform to unfair, unrealistic, simplistic expectations.

While I understand how profoundly personal these life experiences are, and thus many women feel hesitant or unwilling to discuss them openly, I wish that more women would talk honestly about their reproductive lives. If these subjects were less taboo – I had many women merely whisper their miscarriage stories to me when they found out I had been through it, like a shared dirty secret – it would be difficult to isolate and demonize women for the fact of their womanhood, wherever they fall on the reproductive spectrum. Significantly, if we acknowledged women as complex and diverse, it would also be much harder to pass legislation that discounts women’s health, agency, and very lives. We need to stop assuming that women can ever conform to a one-size-fits all label, because our experiences are historically, culturally, and personally contingent. Women need the flexibility, compassion, and space to create lives of their own meaning. Without that, we deny women’s full humanity.


A Film’s Simple Question: ‘What Makes a Woman Want to Have an Abortion’?

Last year, Al-Jazeera English produced a documentary called The Abortion War. One of its interview subjects was Ohio State representative Jim Buchy, who co-sponsored two state anti-abortion bills. In the documentary, he’s asked a simple question: What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion? The Republican legislator grimaces and fidgets in his seat. “Well, there’s probably a lot of reasons.” He lets out a little laugh when admitting, “I’m not a woman,” then continues to think aloud. “So I’m thinking, if I’m a woman, why would I have to… some of it has to with economics. A lot of it has to do with economics. I don’t know, I never—it’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”

Rep. Buchy, then, would learn a lot from Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s extraordinary new documentary After Tiller. But so would anyone with strong opinions on the question of whether abortion should be legal. The film is a rare consideration of the abortion debate that moves past labels and abstracts and takes a long look at the people involved. It is a showcase for empathy, a quality lacking in many conversations on the subject.

Dr. George Tiller’s Women’s Healthcare Services clinic was the best known of the country’s few providers of late-term (third trimester) abortions, which account for fewer than one percent of all abortions. Tiller was bombed in 1985, shot in 1993, and, finally, murdered in 2009. After his death, only four late-term providers remain: Dr. LeRoy Carhart (located in Bellevue, Nebraska when the film begins, though he is eventually forced to relocate to Maryland), Dr. Warren Hern (in Boulder, Colorado), and Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella (who share duties at a clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico). Directors Shane and Wilson divvy up the film fairly evenly between the three practices, and while they have some understandable interest in the kinds of people who would put themselves in, quite literally, the gun sights of the extreme anti-abortion movement (“When I walk out of the front door of my office, I expect to be assassinated,” Dr. Hern says), they’re more interested in the women who come to see them.

Read more. [Image: Oscilloscope Laboratories]


I Help Desperate Women, and I Could Go To Jail for It

The job that could put me in jail started at the same time that the desperate emails did. Women searching for abortion-related terms online found something I had written, and started sending me desperate pleas.

These women had dire stories. Many were mothers already. They needed abortions, but the nearest clinic was three, four, six hours away. They’d need to go on more than one visit. They’d need childcare. They’d need more disposable income than they would have for the next three months. They had exhausted all their funding, and their state’s abortion fund didn’t have enough money to help them that week. Every week that passed made surgical abortions cost more, a cycle that kept some women perpetually on the brink of affording termination.

They told me they’d try anything: herbs, soaps. One asked if I knew how, exactly, it was that you went about using a wire hanger to abort.

Two or three days later, they would receive a small, unmarked envelope. Inside the envelope were doses of two different drugs that, when used together, will abort nearly any first-trimester pregnancy.

I am one of America’s unlicensed, untrained illegal abortionists.

I don’t know how many people like me are in the United States. I suspect most are women. I know that most of them so far are immigrants, and most of them, like me, never get near surgical abortion implements like cervical dilators or vacuum machines (much less crude methods like coat hangers).

In the United States, contrary to popular belief, it’s not illegal to bring in prescription medications from somewhere else. As long as the medication isn’t scheduled (a classification reserved only for addictive drugs), Americans can feel free to import a supply of up to 90 days’ worth of any medication they like. Immigrants, who often know pharmacies they can trust in their home countries and have family able to ship medication across the border, are some of the most likely people to have access to these medications.

It’s possible to get misoprostol (which will induce an early abortion about 80 percent of the time on its own) for just a dollar or two per dose from online pharmacies around the world. Mifepristone, which is added to misoprostol to make the over 95 percent effective drug combination sometimes called RU-486, ranges from $10 to $50 per dose. The higher per-pill pricing of mifepristone, however, means that the drug is prone to counterfeiting.

I send women what I can—misoprostol, or mifepristone/misoprostol in combination when I have some stocked. I know, when I do it, that it could be a devil’s bargain—that this could be the envelope that gets traced back to me. This could be the one that lands me in prison. Or, even worse, it could be the one that kills someone. The abortion drugs rarely cause major complications (less often than birth), but they do happen. I don’t know what I would do with that on my conscience. I haven’t had to find out yet.

Since I’m an illegal abortionist these days, it might surprise you to know that I don’t make any money from it. In fact, I’m out of pocket a little over a thousand dollars in total, due to purchasing and then giving away abortion pills. Some women have sent Paypal contributions when I send them pills, but if they don’t, I don’t argue. I’d rather get them what they need.

(via 1in3)

What do you all think about #Menforchoice happening on Twitter today?


Introducing the Abortion Assistance Blog’s new business cards! Please distribute these, online or in person, wherever you feel is appropriate.

Credit to middletone. Thanks, middletone!

(via damnitdisney)


It is poor women, young women, women of color and immigrant women who bear the burden of these restrictions, particularly federal bans on funding for abortion care. These bans – such as the Hyde Amendment that affects Medicaid and the international Helms Amendment that affects our foreign aid – exacerbate the circumstances that lead women to facilities like Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic in the first place.

Carhart is 67, heavy-set and deliberate in his movements and speech, a man who looks as if he could use a good rest more than a five-hour drive to Wichita. If his life had taken a different course, he would be thinking about wrapping up an uneventful career as a general surgeon in Omaha. That’s where he founded an emergency walk-in clinic in 1985, after a 21-year career as an Air Force surgeon. Carhart had trained as a fighter pilot in Texas and England—although he never flew in combat—and got his medical degree, from Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, while still in uniform. He was a surgeon at Ouffett Air Force Base near Omaha before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. His life seemed set in a comfortable mold—married to his -elementary-school sweetheart with two teenage children and a 62-acre farm outside town. It all changed in 1987, when a nurse prevailed on him to spend a day at the abortion clinic where she worked. Talking to the women reminded him of the patients he had seen as a medical student, in the days before Roe: women whose botched abortions, anywhere from the first to the third trimester, left them with perforated uteruses, intestines protruding from the vagina, or untreatable pelvic infections. The way Carhart remembers it, it was a good week for the emergency room if only five women died. Soon after the visit he trained at an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, performing more than 500 abortions in four months. When he returned to Omaha, Carhart began splitting his time between his friend’s abortion clinic and his own emergency facility. Some specialists, who objected to his abortion work, refused to see patients Carhart referred to them, even if the patients came from his emergency practice. When his farm burned down in 1991, Carhart got defiant: he added an abortion practice to his walk-in clinic. His two physician assistants quit in protest.

It was at Tiller’s clinic that Carhart first performed late-term abortions. The two met in 1988 at a National Abortion Federation meeting and quickly became friends and confidants: two unassuming Midwestern doctors who were both risking community pressure—if not yet their lives—doing abortions in conservative states. “He would always be there,” says Carhart. “He would call me if he had a hard patient; I would call him when I needed someone to talk to. We became each other’s therapists.” When Kansas passed a law in the mid-1990s requiring second consultations for abortion, Carhart would do Tiller’s over the phone. In 1998 he began assisting with surgeries in Tiller’s clinic, and starting in 2004 he spent every third week there.

The Abortion Evangelist: LeRoy Carhart is determined to train as many late-term-abortion providers as possible—or the practice just might die with him

I admire this man so much, you don’t understand. This article is old - I think he performs abortions in Maryland now because Nebraska has banned late-term abortions. But it’s a great read.

The anti-choice media is currently trying to crucify him, and late-term abortions in general, because a woman died after receiving a late term abortion from him. I think it’s important to remember how many lives have been saved by these late-term abortions. The article does a great job of discussing the different reasons women go to get late-term abortions.

As of the writing of this article, there were only 10 doctors nationwide performing late-term abortions. We cannot let the anti-choice bigots shut any more of them down.

(via spacew0man)

(via theclarkknight)