Tag Archives: abortion

The Story That’s Taken Ten Years To Tell: On Abortion, Race, And The Power Of Story

By Guest Contributor Shannelle Matthews; originally published at Crunk Feminist Collective

“Are you in college?” The doctor could tell from my face I wasn’t at all interested in having a conversation. “You speak well. I mean, you’re articulate.” The wrinkles in my forehead 558387_523164701057337_2002892972_ndeepened. I wrung my fingers tightly around the scratchy, blue exam gown and briefly thought about the woman who wore it before me; what was she like? I looked at him, desperately wanting to not have to actually speak, wishing he could just read my mind. “Yes. I’m in college,” I responded shortly. I was really thinking, “That’s none of your business and really, is this the time to make small talk? When your elbow is deep in my vagina?” But, I was grateful for him, so I frowned and looked away.

The room didn’t feel particularly uncomfortable. I mostly gazed at the ceiling tiles, counting square by square. Occasionally I peeked down. Over the long sheet that draped my knees I could see my feet, not really manicured, resting awkwardly in the titanium stirrups, straddling the doctor’s full head of curly hair. “We’re just about done.” I sighed out a breath of relief. My abortion was almost over.

My abortion experience isn’t the kind that might be featured in a Lifetime movie. By that I mean I was 18, technically an adult. I consented to having sex, although I had never learned how to really protect myself. I lived in California, which is a state that provides emergency Medicaid for women who need financial assistance to help cover the costs of abortion care. The circumstances in which I found myself were not particularly difficult but only because at the time I didn’t know any better.

I was 6 months out of high school, a full-time student-athlete living away from home. I was privileged enough to be going to college and receiving some scholarship money to do so. One day, during practice, I found myself violently ill. Workouts were hard and often induced vomiting–but not like this. I counted the days since my last period and realized I may be pregnant.

I was dating my teammate who was several years older than me. He was sexually experienced and, while I wasn’t a virgin, I had dated mostly women and not been very sexually involved with men. He said he used protection. I believed him.

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Quoted: Andrea (AJ) Plaid On Being A Black Woman, Middle Age, Stats, And Reproductive Justice

So, you may wonder why I still care about abortion when my story isn’t statistically reflected.

Though I’m not in the numbers, I’m in the reasons why some Black [child-bearing people] seek the procedure, and why quite a few cis women — in solidarity with [some] trans men, trans women and non-binary people of many races and ethnicities — fight so hard to keep it legal.

My mother did an excellent job of both encouraging me to get my education and discouraging me from having children while I was a teenager. My mom failed to convince me in my 20s and 30s to “have children.” My co-workers failed, too. The rare co-worker nowadays still tries to talk me into it — and yes, even my mom still tries — appealing to some notion of an impending spinsterhood if I don’t essentially create my future caregiver and “someone who’ll love me.” As I had to remind Mom, having children is, essentially, a crap shoot as far as their “loving you” and you “loving them”: how many stories have we heard of people who give birth but who don’t form that “nurturing instinct” with their newborns? How many stories have we heard about children disowning and getting disowned by parents, let alone loving you enough to want to take care of you in your old age? (The resentment and burnout of grown children taking care of elderly parents are real.)

My long-held reason, I tell them all, is that I simply do not like children enough to gestate or adopt and rear one (or two or more). I don’t have the patience to provide that long-term emotional support and don’t wish to share my material resources with a child. This is very much in line with a study cited by the Guttmacher Institute in August, 2011: “The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”

Now that I’m entering the middle part of my life, a colleague summed up my new viewpoint about [having] children: “She’s not just running down her biological clock. She’s taking the clock and throwing off the Empire State Building.”

Excerpted from “Heading Toward Menopause, Still Caring About Abortion,” On The Issues 

Photo Credit: caribdirect.com

Latinos Fall Prey to the Danger-Womb Epidemic!

By Guest Contributor Akiba Solomon, cross-posted from Colorlines

Remember that racist anti-choice billboard in New York City that pimped misused a stock photo of a 6-year-old black girl, Anissa Fraizer, to sell the slogan, “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb”?

Well, according to similar billboards sponsored by the Latino Partnership of Conservative Principles (LPCP), Latina wombs are lethal, too!

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Silent Choices Streaming for Free–Today Only! [Culturelicious]

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

I met filmmaker Faith Pennick when I lived and went to school in Boston. At the time she was promoting her film, Silent Choices. I traveled to the Big Apple to interview her for my now-defunct ‘zine when the Republicans decided to hold their convention  and several New Yorkers weren’t having it. Just on the passion for her flick, I even tried to host a viewing/fundraiser for it. As people and life go, we lost touch.

Forward several years and my move to New York City. I reunited with Faith the other night at the full meeting of the reproductive-justice organization SisterSong NYC. Faith announced to the group her award-winning film is getting a free showing online today.

Her film addresses a rarely covered topic: Black women discussing their own experiences with getting abortions (trigger warning):

I can’t recommend Silence Choices highly enough, especially in light of how others are trying to dictate how Black women should feel about exercising our reproductive rights and are trying their damnedest to make sure we don’t have access to reproductive options.  But just don’t take my word for it.  This is what Professor Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body, has to say about the documentary: “Silent Choices explores not only black women’s personal and political struggles around reproductive freedom, but also the complexities of abortion too often ignored by the mainstream media. Silent Choices is essential viewing for students, scholars, and activists interested in reproductive justice for all women.”

For more information about Faith, her work, and more on Silent Choices, click here.

Plan B: Anti-choice Group Puts President Obama on Billboard

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Hat tip to reproductive-rights activist Shelby Knox for this:  today the anti-choice group Life Always, the group behind the billboard that was taken down in New York City due to the melding of online and offline activism, reveals its latest billboard in a press conference in Chicago.

According to Life Always’ press release, about 30 of these outdoor ads will be place around Chicago’s South Side, where President Obama served as a community organizer and where First Lady Obama grew up.  So, since using the image of a darling little Black girl stirred up a fiasco instead collective guilt over not wanting to carry a fetus to term,  the group decides to go for double-barrel sentimentality with the placement of this message: the soft spot that some Chicagoans have for their  hometown heroes and connecting the termination of a pregnancy to the nationalist trigger-word of “genocide.”

To further push the racial-guilt sappiness, Life Always Board Member Reverend Derek McCoy, one of the attendees at today’s press conference said, “Our future leaders are being aborted at an alarming rate. These are babies who could grow to be the future Presidents of the United States, or the next Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington or Maya Angelou.”

::Direct laser side-eye::

What would be great is if any or all of these celebrities–especially the POTUS and the FLOTUS–publicly told the anti-choice group to get their names out of the group’s mouth because they’re not feeling the anti-choice  message.

According to Huffington Post Chicago, other leaders joining Rev. McCoy include “former 2nd Congressional district GOP candidate Rev. Isaac Hayes, Rev. Ceasar LeFlore, [sic] and Pastor Stephen Broden, an anti-choice activist who ran for office as a Republican in Texas last year.” The press conference for the first billboard, to be hung in an empty lot at 5812 S. State Street, Chicago, will be held at 11AM.

Monday Morning Videos: Token and Abortion Conspiracy

By Arturo R. García

Thanks to Angry Asian Man for the heads-up on Token, a short film written by Kulap Vilaysack and Kevin Seccia and directed by Peter Atencio.

And courtesy of Feministing, below the cut is the first installment of “Conspiracy Tactics,” a GritTV investigation into astro-turfed anti-abortion campaign centered around the idea of abortion as a genocidal effort against the black community. (Warning: this video includes uncomfortable imagery.)

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Dagnabit Shit Fuck: True Blood Recap S03E11

Hosted by Thea Lim and featuring Joseph Lamour, Tami Winfrey Harris, Latoya Peterson and Andrea Plaid

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Thea: Another sort of lackluster episode, though better than last week’s. Though I have to say this eppy sure had lots of good oneliners:

I used to drink hot sauce straight out of the bottle…that was a good time.

Dagnabit Shit Fuck!

So you turn into a panther! What the hell! That ain’t so bad.

Tami: What no love for Pam calling Bill an “infatuated tween”? That was the quote of the night. It perfectly captured the essence of the Bill and Sookie romance.

Andrea: Oh! My! Gawd! Pam aced the ep with that line. I so heart that vamp (pun intended).

Thea: Well, I didn’t want to steal all the good lines…I wanted to give y’all a chance to list your own fave oneliners :) Also I just read on the internet that Mama Hoyt actually said Dagnabit Shit Fire! I truly hope not, Shit Fuck is just so wonderful.

Thea: But to get down to the really really important business: poll – do we prefer LaLa as a pet name for our favourite, or Laffy? I can’t decide.

Joe: I love it when Ruby calls him Lala, but not when anyone else does. My vote goes for Laffy.

Tami: Co-sign, Joe. I love “Lala,” but it feels like one of those special names within friends or family that only one person is allowed to use. I’m going for Laffy.

Latoya: Team Lala. It makes me squee to think of 6 year old Lafayette. But Laffy works too.

Andrea: Honestly, I like Laffy or even Lafette, which is my fam’s nickname for my uncle, who shares the same name. I’m with Joe: let “Lala” be his mom’s nickname for him. Though, to be honest, I don’t like it coming from her mouth because there’s a homophobic bite to it.

Thea: Hm…that’s an interesting point about Lala having a homophobic bite…especially since every episode since its intro, Laffy has been addressed as such. This week, it was by the religious icons during a bad trip. Aiyeee..but more on that later, of course.

A Black Panther?

Thea: So here, for once, I would like those of you Charlaine Harris fans who’ve been sitting on your hands in the corner for fear of spoiling anything for the rest of us, to step up: is Crystal a black panther in the books, or is that just a choice they made for the visual medium of TV? Actually, wait a sec, are all panthers black? Since this is True Blood, master of dabbling foolishly in serious historical shit, I can’t help but wonder why they would choose a black panther, an animal which is, as professorjawn put it in the comments last week, “a uniquely racialized animal in the US psyche.”

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Joe: Other than the Pink Panther, panthers are all black, otherwise they’re called something else, like jaguars, leopards, cheetahs, and cougars (another loaded word, this day in age.) While reading the book I definitely assumed the (spoiler alert!) Hotshot people were all panthers, and that those panthers were of this variety: and not of the beret-ed variety. Also, to my (cursory, at best) knowledge, a panther is not actually a type of cat like a lion, but it refers to the color. For instance: a black jaguar is a panther, and a black cougar is a panther. There is a such thing as a white panther, but its rare, like a white tiger. Confusing enough? Yes, yes it is.

Interestingly enough, the reason that panther cats of any variety turn out black is because of- take a guess- an abundance of melanin. The writers, and Charlaine for that matter, probably didn’t think too hard about which species of cat to go with. Willful ignorance strikes again, I guess.

Tami: The folks in Hot Shot were panthers in Charlaine’s Harris’ books, though I don’t recall her specifying black panthers. II always assumed they were the sort of panther found in America–the cougar. I think the choice of using a black panther for Crystal was stylistic–they certainly look cool lurking in the shadows. It’s just that given True Blood’s sketchy racial imagery this season, even the most benign choices seem to mean something more sinister.

Sookie & Bill Are Boring; Pam Breaks Our Heart with her Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

Thea: So Latoya totally called it last week when she said, “But again, it’s Sookie who gets the creepy chain basement to herself, and she’ll probably be saved in a day or so, so whatever, I can’t drum up any concern.” OMG, try saved in like, fifteen minutes. More and more I am just writing the word “BOOOORING” in my notebook during all the Bill-Sookie scenes.’

Latoya: I hate being right. There isn’t even time to fake concern anymore.

Andrea: LOLOLOL I think we’re supposed to either 1) conveniently ignore that she was rescued or that 2) we’re supposed to get all “yeah girl-power!” that another human–especially a woman–rescued her. I think Ball and Co. wanted us to focus on the fact that she “whupped Pam’s ass” (with said woman’s help) to save her man. What peeved me is Pam’s xenophobic plea regarding Sookie’s sex-worker rescuer, “Don’t leave me here with this idiot immigrant!” The woman response, “I’m a cardiologist!” missed the humor mark because it turns back on her: the stereotyping questions become, “Why is a cardiologist hanging with vampires? Don’t they get good pay in that line of work?” Which can play either way: 1) thoughts about why people go into sex work (basic answer: the reasons are myriad) and 2) the stereotypes of female immigrants as victims of sex trades. Too much hung on that joke, which is why it fell flat for me.

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Television and Abortion: Two Shows, Two Different Paths

By Guest Contributor Aymar Jean Christian, originally published at Televisual

Two broadcast television series the week of January 22nd featured prominent narratives on teenage pregnancy and abortion. A rare coincidence, indeed — or perhaps not, giving January 22 is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. In Private Practice (“Best Laid Plans“), a rich black family’s 15-year-old daughter, Maya, gets pregnant and grapples with having the procedure. In Friday Night Lights (“I Can’t“), Becky, a minor but regular character, is a working class sophomore in high school also dealing with the same issue, albeit with much less parental guidance (her single mother).

Both shows, in my opinion, feature good storytelling and try to do justice to this difficult issue, in ways that suggest networks are finally moving forward on an issue still most famously explored in 1972 in an episode of Maude (later again on Roseanne).

Television (film too) is infamous for its silence on abortion. If a character gets pregnant, it’s an easy bet she’ll have it. So ironclad is the pregnancy rule it ruins all the drama from the plot point. Pregnancy = baby. Major characters rarely even discuss it (Sex and the City, season 4 did); “abortion women” leave shows quickly. Even adoption is rarely broached. So both Friday Night Lights and Private Practice deserve credit for even using the “A” word, several times, and actually dealing with the issue head-on.

The shows take two different paths. Yes, unbelievably, on broadcast television, a character actually goes through with the procedure.

Friday Night Lights Goes There

I should first be clear: I don’t think television needs to show more abortions. I do think, however, their near complete silence on the issue betrays the fact that this happens, everyday, right or wrong.

When Becky, who attends East Dillon high school and lives next to former Dillon star Tim Riggins (he’s her mom’s tenant and former one-night-stand), said she was pregnant last week, I wasn’t sure where Friday Night Lights would take it on. But the show privileges its sense of realism, reinforced by its documentary/hand-held camera aesthetic, so I thought if any show would “go there,” it would.

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