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Let’s Try That Again…

February 26, 2017

I had high hopes for myself and this blog, and then I did pretty much nothing. It’s been so long, I wasn’t even sure I would remember how to log into this account! But I found it, I got in, and here I am. I’m a little disappointed with myself for not blogging about the year I spent as a clinic escort, or my training to become a counselor at that clinic, or the last two years’ worth of experiences I’ve had working in that capacity at the clinic. But what good are regrets? Many experiences have come and gone and their memories are lost to the ether. But there are many experiences I can and do recall, many aspects of this work and my experiences in this environment that I can reflect on meaningfully and with a bit of analysis. This experience has played a major role in fine-tuning my feminist politics in a way that I think most people wouldn’t expect. Moving forward, let’s hope this really is the start of something meaningful, and that I light the fire under my ass to share what’s in me that wants and needs to be shared.

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Back, With Renewed Purpose…

July 9, 2014

I enthusiastically started this blog after a march on Columbus a few years ago, and then predictably (for me) fell silent. But I’m back. And this time I predict I’ll have a lot to say for a while. Between the recent Supreme Court rulings and my own regular volunteer work as a clinic escort, which I began back in March, I only see things heating up both politically and personally. I am also a year away from becoming an ordained Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister, and more and more strongly feel my calling to involve working with women who are choosing or have in the past chosen abortion.

I’m not entirely sure of the direction this blog will take. I’m sure I will share a lot from my own experience as an escort and any other work I embark upon. I feel very strongly about my life and work making a difference. I suspect I will be grappling in the months ahead with some important questions. What actions actually make a difference, and on what level? How can I be a force for systemic change, as well as a source of personal support and compassion to individual women? I hope to offer any insights as they arise. I also hope to offer ideas and opportunities, large and small, for others to get involved and be a part of the change. We can all do something. I truly believe that. 

I hope that if you care about these issues even half as much as I do, you’ll follow along with me, do some grappling too, and join in the conversation about how to make the world a better place for all women. 

I get why you’re ‘pro-life’…

March 3, 2011

At the tender age of 14 years old, I got on a bus full of strangers and made the six-hour trek to Washington DC to march in the Rally for Life in 1990.  As a young teenager, my step-mother used to leave horrific anti-abortion literature in my bedroom, pamphlets and booklets filled with graphic images and hellish stories of tortured babies and the suicidal women who regretted their decisions to abort.  I cried myself to sleep some nights because of it.  For years, I was deeply committed to what I called being “pro-life.”  So when I say I get it, that I know where you’re coming from, that I understand why you feel so strongly the way you do, I really do get it.

By now you must be wondering what could have possibly happened to transform me from a born-again pro-life activist into a  rabid baby-killer.  (I told you, I know how you think, I was once like you.)  Well, I began seeking information through formal and informal education, engaging in dialog with people with diverse views, thinking rationally, and thinking for myself.  I’m going to take a look at a couple of the arguments against abortion rights and see how they hold up.

One reason people feel so strongly opposed to abortion is based on the belief that fetuses have souls, and therefore ought to be protected.  All I can say about this argument is that it is a religious belief that is not shared by all Americans.  Some people believe souls do not attach to humans until they are born, others do not believe in souls at all.  The United States is a religiously pluralistic society, and our laws cannot be based on religious beliefs that have no evidenciary basis, whether we like that or not.

It is my sense that the greatest cause the for strong anti-abortion fervor lies, in essence, with aesthetic and emotional appeals.  We love babies, and see them as pure and innocent little creatures, and we irrationally equate pre-babies (embryos and fetuses) with infants.  We talk about heart beats and fingers and toes and our hearts break at the thought of doing that which ‘stops a beating heart.’  I get it.  But a heart beat does not a fully formed human person make.  The billions of non-human animals that are slaughtered every day for human consumption have heart beats.  They also have a degree of intelligence, the ability to feel pain and pleasure, and inner emotional lives that most fetuses–and certainly embryos–simply do not have, yet I’m guessing the vast majority of my “pro-life” friends have no problem with the taking of these lives.  I challenge you to ask yourselves, why?

Finally, I realized that the issue of reproductive choice is not about babies, and it’s about much more than abortion.  It is about women’s lives.  Women are living, breathing, thinking, feeling human beings, and when the government tells us what we can and cannot do with our bodies, we become nothing more than governmental pieces of property.  Why should the government have more of an interest in protecting a fetus than in protecting the life and well-being of a woman?  They shouldn’t.  But because our right to reproductive choice is relatively new (most contraception was still illegal until the 1960s, and abortion only became legal in the 1970s), much has been done over the last 40 years to chip away at these rights.  As a result, not only is access to safe, legal abortion in jeopardy, but our right to mourn the loss of a wanted pregnancy in privacy is being challenged (see this), and a host of other issues that come up when a government (run primarily by affluent straight white males) believes it has the right to control a woman’s body.

I encourage anyone who is opposed to abortion to think critically about all the issues surrounding reproductive choice, and not simply tow the party line.  If you truly are against abortion, think about how cutting funding for organizations that provide family planning services and affordable contraception conflict with that position.  Think about whether cutting funding for programs that help provide food for pregnant women, infants, and children in low income families contradicts an anti-abortion (pro-life!) position.

If you vote and/or engage in any other kind of action based on an anti-abortion agenda, I ask you to think critically and consider the full range of complex issues surrounding this very contentious debate.  Think about the full consequences of your position, and whether your positions on related issues are really consistent with what you claim to value.

A Letter to Rep. Pence

February 28, 2011

Representative Mike Pence is the man behind recent House legislation to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.  I wrote him a letter today…

Dear Mr. Pence,

You claim it is “morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions,” but there are a few problems with that statement, and others you have made.

1. As a vegan morally and ethically opposed to eating animals, my tax dollars (and those of millions of other Americans who are vegetarian or vegan) fund subsidies given to factory farms in the beef and dairy industry.  Where’s the legislation to cut those subsidies?  How about those of us opposed to war?  Do you care about our tax dollars?  This is clearly not how the system works.

2. You say you favor smaller government and less regulation, yet you want to regulate what I can and cannot do with my own body, based on religious beliefs that I do not share.  That’s bigger government with more regulation.

3. If you want to reduce the number of abortions in this country, you should be funding organizations like Planned Parenthood which provide access to contraception (as well as STI screenings and other preventive health care measures) to millions of low-income Americans, which reduces the need for abortion services to begin with.

4. Approximately 78% of Americans say abortion should be legal.  Do you represent the people, or do you represent radical right-wing special interest groups?  I think the answer is clear.

Women all over the country are watching you.  We are many and we are strong.  Good luck the next time you’re up for reelection… you’re going to need it.

You may send your own letter to Mr. Pence here.