Abortion 101: What to Know Before You Go

Today’s post comes courtesy of FFC contributor Sarah Erdreich and guest contributor Sarah Cohen, who worked at the National Abortion Federation hotline for several years and currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their cat.

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

When you work in reproductive rights, people pepper you with practical questions about getting an abortion. How much does the procedure cost? How long does it take? Does it hurt? While the answers vary depending on the particular circumstances, there are a few tips you should know.

First, confirm that you actually are pregnant. This might sound obvious, but as many of us know, it’s surprisingly easy to lose track of when your last normal period occurred. If a home pregnancy test shows a positive result, you are probably pregnant; home test kits rarely give a false positive. If a home pregnancy test shows a negative result, it’s possible that you’re too early for the test to detect a pregnancy. Most test kits come with two in the package, so wait a few days and, if you still think you might be pregnant, take the second test. [Read more...]

Whatever Happened to Rock for Choice?

I recently caught Cameron Crowe’s documentary on Pearl Jam. It’s an excellent film, but one of the things that really jumped out at me was just how pro-choice the band was (and probably still is, but I’m just going by the archival footage here). Eddie Vedder playing “MTV Unplugged” with the word “pro-choice” inked down his arm in thick black letters? Pretty frickin’ awesome. Vedder wearing a Rock for Choice t-shirt in a promo picture for one of the band’s appearances on “Saturday Night Live”? Just as awesome – and hey, whatever happened to Rock for Choice?

Organized by the band L7 and music journalist Sue Cummings,, the first Rock for Choice concert featured Nirvana, Hole, L7, and other bands that supported the pro-choice movement. During the ten-year period between 1991 and 2001, dozens of Rock for Choice shows around the country raised awareness about reproductive rights issues, including abortion access and violence against abortion providers, and other political issues like voter registration. The concerts also helped fund the work of the Feminist Majority Foundation, specifically the organization’s Campaign to Save Roe.

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The FBI Moves Toward Updating Definition of Rape

Earlier this week, an FBI subcommittee met to discuss expanding the current definition of rape used in the agency’s Uniform Crime Report. That definition, which has been in use since 1929, classifies rape solely as “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” A number of organizations, including the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) and the Women’s Law Project, have long been lobbying for a new, expanded definition; and yesterday, the FBI agreed with them.

The Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services voted unanimously to change its definition. The proposed change would define rape as, “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” A final recommendation will be presented in December, after which it will go to FBI director Robert Mueller for final approval.

This week’s vote is a huge victory for all victims of rape crimes. As Eleanor Smeal, President of the FMF, said, “This will ensure the crime of rape is measured in a way that it includes all rape, and it essentially becomes a crime to which more resources are allocated. It’s intolerable the amount of violence against women, and we feel this will have a significant impact.”

If you’d like to add your voice to the hundreds of thousands that are asking the FBI, Mueller, and attorney general Eric Holder to count the experiences of all rape survivors, check out theRape is Rape petition.

Kansas Abortion Provider Under Attack

This post was written by Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. Mazine. It was originally published at Ms. Magazine. Please help spread the word!

“Are doctors who are willing to provide [abortions] still just on their own, with their face on WANTED posters … waiting to see what happens next?… How do we as a country react?”

Rachel Maddow posed that question last week as she reported from Kansas on the escalating campaign of threats, harassment and terror against Dr. Mila Means, who recently announced her plans to provide abortions in Wichita.

Abortions have not been available in the city since the murder of Dr. George Tiller in May 2009. Means has now become the target of an aggressive campaign led by anti-abortion extremists. WANTED-style posters featuring Means’ photograph and address are being circulated in Wichita and online, and about a dozen anti-abortion zealots stalked the physician at her rural Wichita home.

Threats of violence against abortion providers intended to prevent them from providing reproductive health-care services—like those against Means—are prohibited by the FACE act, by state anti-stalking laws and by criminal threat and trespass laws. Although these threats can and should be prosecuted, all too often they are not. And time and again, threats that are ignored by law enforcement escalate to violence. [Read more...]

2008 Clinic Violence Survey Released

keep_abortion_legalThe Feminist Majority Foundation has released it’s 2008 Clinic Violence Survey. Here is a quick summary of some of the findings. (h/t to Clinic Escort for the Tweet.)

  • 43% of US abortion providers saw anti-abortion protesters take pictures/video of patients in 2008, and 7.7% found patient pictures posted online.
  • In 2008, 20% of abortion providers endured blockade, invasion, bombing, arson, physical/chemical attacks, stalking, gunfire, bomb/arson/death threats.
  • The percentage of clinics experiencing three or more types of violence and harassment has slightly increased from 7% in 2005 to 9% in 2008.
  • The percentage of staff resignations as a result of anti-abortion violence, harassment or intimidation in 2008 remained at 4%.   Not surprisingly, clinics experiencing high levels of violence, harassment, and intimidation had a substantially larger percentage of staff resign.  In 2008, 32% of clinics experiencing high levels of violence (three or more types) lost physicians or staff members.
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