Why I Am Pro-Choice

bfcd-2013This post was written for Blog for Choice Day.

Why am I pro-choice? Because I don’t want a complete stranger telling me to do with my body. Because I don’t want to tell a complete stranger what to do with hers. Because I know that the decision about whether to have a child is too precious and important to be made by anyone other than the woman that is pregnant. Because I don’t think that there is only one right way or right time to become a mother. Because every child should be a wanted one.

Why am I pro-choice? Because of my friends that were able to graduate college. Because of the thousands of women, voices on the other end of the phone, that were able to leave troubled relationships and take care of their sons and daughters and choose how to end much-wanted pregnancies in a way that gave their fatally ill unborn children a measure of dignity, and themselves a measure of peace.

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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...]

Standing Up for Women’s Health

Earlier today, thousands of pro-choice activists from around the country gathered to show their support for reproductive rights at the “Stand Up For Women’s Health” rally on the National Mall. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards kicked off the event, which was both preceded and followed by lobbying activities on the Hill.

The lineup of speakers was pretty impressive – besides Richards, attendees heard from, among others, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America; Senators Barbara Boxer, Charles Schumer, and Patty Murray; Representatives Frank Lautenberg, Rosa DeLauro, Louise Slaughter, and Diana DeGette; and the actors Amy Madigan (a member of NARAL’s board of directors), Ed Harris, Connie Britton, and David Eigenberg (who gave a particularly rousing and impassioned speech).

While the speeches touched on various aspects of women’s health, from the bad old days of back-alley abortions to how it’s just plain common sense to support a service that provides low-cost health services, one message was clear: that Planned Parenthood must not lose its funding. This was an even more timely message than the organizers may have intended, as this morning brought the news that two issues are holding up a budget resolution: the environment and abortion. (House Speaker John Boehner also insists that there are disputes over how to slash spending, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that “[T] he numbers are basically there”.)

For Planned Parenthood to lose its funding would mean that millions of women and men would lose access to affordable and vital health care. Several speakers at the rally touched on the critical work that these clinics do in screening for cervical cancer, among other preventative measures; and one of the most emotional speeches of the day was given by Carolyn Smithers, a mother of two daughters. When she was 19, a checkup at Planned Parenthood revealed that Smithers had cancer; that checkup, Smithers said, saved her life.

Planned Parenthood isn’t safe yet, but the energy, passion, and dedication shown by both the speakers and the crowd at today’s rally were an important reminder that it’s not going down without a fight.


Hell Yeah, I’m a Feminist!

Feminist Conversations is a weekly series at Feminists For Choice.  We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them.  Alison Turkos is a recent college graduate majoring in English writing and minoring in Women’s Studies. She is a Development & Events intern with NARAL Pro Choice NY, she volunteers as a clinic escort, and she is currently attempting to enjoy all the feminist fun that New York City has to offer.  We met up last month at the Feminists for Choice Tweetup.  Here’s what she had to say about feminism and choice.

1.  How did you get involved with NOW?
I became involved with NOW completely by chance. While attending the “Women and Power” conference at the OMEGA Institute I met a few young women who were/are involved with the NOW NY State Young Feminist Task Force. After sharing stories, goals, and ideas they invited me to attend a gathering back in the city that the task force was holding after the conference. It was completely unplanned and all due to fabulous networking.

2.  NOW has sometimes gotten a reputation for being irrelevant to younger women, but what has your experience been like?
I have been involved with the organization for a VERY short amount of time, but so far, my experience has been amazing. The Task Force is a fantastic group of diverse individuals who all lead amazingly interesting lives, and come together for one common purpose: FEMINISM!

3.  When did you first decide to call yourself a feminist?  And what contributed to that decision?
I grew up in a very Feminist household, but my parents never used the term “Feminist.” Gender roles have never existed in my house. I have two working parents, a mom who mowed the lawn, and a dad who is a master in the kitchen. My parents’ marriage is an entirely equal partnership, so I grew up surrounded by Feminism and Feminist values, but there was never the “Feminist” label attached.

Like many other Feminists, I experienced my “click” moment when I was in college. I took a classes titled “Women in Contemporary American Culture,” and on the first day of class the professor asked “who here is a Feminist?” I didn’t raise my hand because I hadn’t had much exposure to the word and it’s meaning, but after she explained what she believed Feminism to be, I raised and my hand and declared to the entire class “hell yeah, I’m a Feminist,” and ever since that day I’ve identified as a Feminist.

4.  What does feminism mean to you? [Read more...]

Stunning Numbers — Casualties of the War On Choice

NARAL Pro-Choice America recently sent out a tidy little email reminder of what is at stake in the fight for reproductive rights in the U.S. For me, the email is compelling because they are clear that the War on Choice is not simply one of laws and legislative battles, but it is literally a violent, gorilla war with lives at stake.

While the numbers do speak for themselves, I think there are some additional points to be considered. I trimmed it a bit, and added emphasis to some crucial points and, of course, put in my 2 cents! Credit for the numbers must go to NARAL.
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Tips for Talkin’ Choice

 5 simple ways to be an effective advocate for reproductive freedom:

1.  Be audience appropriate:  Be conscious of where you are and whom you are addressing.  Words that pack a punch on the picket line might not be the right words for a coffee shop or class discussion.  Matching the tone and tenor of the environment in which you find yourself is the best way to leave an impression on your listeners that will prime them to seriously consider what you have to say.

2.  Be a great listener:  Seriously.  Teaching political science in the Heart of the Heartland may have tested my patience and jeopardized my mental health, but it has also educated me about opinions and policy positions that I could not wrap my head around before.  So take a cue from our Moderate-in-Chief Barack Obama, tilt your head back, and listen for awhile.  You (probably) won’t regret it. [Read more...]