Tag Archives: reproductive justice

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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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Strong Families’ “Still Wading: Roe At 40″

By Andrea Plaid

Forward Together‘s Strong Families Movement curated a superb commemoration of Roe v. Wade‘s 40th anniversary this week. Of course, the organization showcased fantastic work by artist-activists like Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler

Still Wading DRKRZ Design

“Still Wading” by Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler.

 and Favianna Rodriguez.

Share Your Abortion Story by Favianna Rodriguez.

Share Your Abortion Story by Favianna Rodriguez.

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Announcement: Reproductive Justice Media Workshop in NYC!

By Andrea Plaid

New York City Reproductive Justice Coalition, a outgrowth of SisterSong NYC, proudly hosts its first reproductive-justice media conference this weekend!

Attendees–and those following the Ustream–will hear from RJ activists and writers Aimee Thorne-Thomsen, Belle Taylor McGhee, Jamia Wilson, Akiba Solomon, Dara Sharif, Simone Jhingoor, Shanelle Matthews, Jasmine Burnett, Faith Pennick, Nuala Cabral, Carol McDonald, Dalila-Johari Paul, Gabriela Valle, Nicole Clark, Steph Herold, Pamela Merritt, Janna Zinzi, and the R’s Jessica Danforth (Yee). Racialicious’ Associate Editor Andrea Plaid will open the workshop.

The workshop also features a film festival on Sunday, 5/20. Sunday’s roster: NO!: The Rape Documentary, Silent Choices, We Always Resist, A Vital Service, and Don’t Need Saving.

Realizing that not everyone can attend this event, the R is supporting the workshop by livetweeting it for you! If you want to catch other commentary and conversation, follow the event hastag, #RJMedia2012, and the NYCRJC’s Twitter, @NYC4RJ.

For more info, check out NYCRJC FB page: http://t.co/HYtAOMVS. Hope to catch you in Twitterville!

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

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.

Boston Readers, Event Tonight: “Race, Rhetoric, and Reproductive Justice”

“Race, Rhetoric and Reproductive Justice: How Current and Proposed Legislation Will Affect Communities of Color”

A Panel Discussion Featuring:

Loretta Ross, National Coordinator of SisterSong
Reverend Madison Shockley, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Tiloma Jayasinghe, Executive Director, Sakhi for South Asian Women
Elizabeth Barajas – Roman, Director of Policy, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Priscilla Huang, Associate Policy Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

When: Thursday April 7th, 2011, 6:30-8:00pm, followed by RECEPTION (those wishing to attend reception MUST attend Panel). Event will begin on time.
Where: Northeastern Law School, Dockser Hall Room 240, 65 Forsyth Street Boston MA, 02115

Co Sponsored by:
Northeastern Black Law Students Association, Northeastern Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Northeastern Latin American Law Students Association, Northeastern South Asian Law Students Association, Northeastern Human Rights Caucus, Harvard LSRJ, Boston University LSRJ, Northeastern Feminist Student Organization, and the Northeastern Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department.

Reception after! Open to the public! Please FORWARD and distribute widely!

Oh SNAP!: Protesters Take On Anti-Choice Billboards in Chicago

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Remember this?

Toni Bond Leonard, President/CEO of Black Women’s Reproductive Justice BWRJ), said this about it (from RH Reality Check):

“The groups behind these heinous attacks upon Black women care nothing about Black children or the Black community. These are some of the same groups who fought against healthcare reform and oppose government safety net programs that would directly benefit Black women, our families and our communities.”

“This billboard and the twenty-nine others they plan to erect are offensive to Black women and the Black community, overall. We saw them cowardly placing the billboards in the dark late last night. These billboards are painting an abhorrent image of Black women as perpetrators of a plan to eradicate the future Black race.”

“That they would place these billboards in the Black community with such a despicable lie is reprehensible. It also must not go unnoted that they placed the billboards on the side of a building facing a vacant lot filled with garbage and broken glass. This only further shows their disrespect for Black women and the Black community that all they could think to do was put up billboards telling us Black women are preventing future leaders from being born. What about highlighting the need for economic resources to remove garbage-filled lots in urban areas and creating safe communities.”

And, according to BWRJ, Life Always, the anti-choice group who placed these billboards around Chicago’s South Side,  is backed up by the same funders who are down with Sarah Palin. o_O

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Quoted: Chicago Abortion Fund Opposes South Side Billboard Campaign

“[I]t’s clear those who fight against reproductive choice for women of color know nothing of why women choose abortion Rather than create fake concern for a community these people have never set foot in, Life Always should spend their energies helping us address the reasons why women decide to choose abortion.  The procedures we help fund are because out community is among the least likely to have regular access to healthcare, family planning and comprehensive sex education.  Our services exist because our women are among the most likely to be victims of sexual assault…

“Women have a legal right to access abortion services and should not be shamed regarding the personal choices they make.  Abortion is a personal decision, not a political discussion.  We will not be moved moved by this anti-choice attempt to hijack our communities.”

~~Chicago Abortion Fund‘s Executive Director Gaylon Alcaraz

If you want to let Life Always know how you feel about their billboard, you can sign a petition here.

Photo credit: groundswellfund.org