The pro-choice movement is full of “war stories”, personal actions that women and men have taken for social and reproductive justice. Pro-choice pioneer Merle Hoffman shares some of her most significant experiences in her new book Intimate Wars, and now she’s inviting other activists to tell theirs, whether it was accompanying a friend to her abortion, standing up to someone for their hateful actions, or rallying for social change. Through December 19, if you share your experience with Merle on her Facebook page or through Twitter, you’ll be automatically entered into a drawing to receive a free, signed copy of Intimate Wars!
Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to difference feminists about what activism looks like for them. Today we’re talking to my good friend, Emily Herrell. Emily is the former Advocacy Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona. (That’s Emily is the hat on the left.) Emily has been an incredible mentor to me as I have volunteered with Planned Parenthood over the last three years. In addition to being a huge zombie fanatic, Emily is also a runner and a bicycling enthusiast. Emily recently left her position at Planned Parenthood Arizona and transitioned over to Habitat for Humanity Tucson.
Find out what Emily has to say about being a pro-choice activist, and read her advice for sticking it out in the movement.
How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement?
I have always been pro-choice, but when I got hired at Planned Parenthood, that was my first official role in the pro-choice movement.
When I was in high school and I decided to start having sex, I put $300 into a savings account so that if I ever needed an abortion, I had my own funding to pay for it. I had that savings account all through college, and I always told my partners up front about it. [Read more...]
This month at Feminists for Choice we’ve been making a conscious effort to count our blessings and consider all we have to be thankful for. I can’t help but think I have the universe to thank for bringing Linda Weber, a pioneer feminist with over forty years of abortion counseling experience, and her book, Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion, into my life at this particular time to help me recognize mine. Weber has a gift for making the most profound matters of human existence seem approachable, even debatable, without making them seem any less profound from the discussing.
Much of this comes from the fact that she is fearless where others might turn away–or wish away–or never face in the first place. I absolutely believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion, so I was surprised by my initial reaction to the book’s subtitle. But there it was. Uncomfortably. “The Teachings of Abortion?” “Teachings?” Didn’t that seem too … upbeat? Too celebratory? It wasn’t until I had started reading that I realized I had made exactly the sort of judgment Weber avoids. (And exactly the sort of judgment abortion opponents are counting on.) Where I was feeling there was either good or bad, Weber illustrates patiently, time and again, that there is only experience, and it is rarely uncomplicated. (And rarely, is it communicated with precision like this: “The moral position of most women in the abortion decision is neither pro-life nor pro-choice.”) [Read more...]
At the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday, officials announced plans to expand Project Rachel, the post-abortion “healing” ministry of the Catholic Church. Despite a comprehensive study by the American Psychological Association in 2008 providing evidence to the contrary, Project Rachel asserts that women suffer psychological implications post-abortion. Reuters reports:
The move came a day after the bishops said religious freedom had been whittled away by same-sex marriage, abortion and healthcare legislation, and vowed to ramp up efforts to protect it.
Officials at the annual meeting said two new pilot projects based in Boston and Washington would train priests in building more Project Rachel ministries around the country.
Editor’s Note: Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to feminist activists about what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writers, as part of our Season of Gratitude. I’m so lucky to work with such amazing writers, all of whom volunteer their time and talent. Maureen Shaw is from New York City. In addition to our site, Maureen blogs at sherights.com.
1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I don’t remember a defining moment of first identifying as a feminist. Being a feminist is completely natural for me, and has been for as long as I can remember. I should credit my mom for this. Despite never being an outspoken feminist herself, she used to read me a book as a child called “Girls Can Do Anything Boys Can Do” (or something like that!). I grew up understanding that my gender has no bearing on what I can achieve!
2. When did you start sherights, and what was the motivation for starting the blog?
I wrapped up my Master’s thesis at the end of 2010 and suddenly felt at a loss — I went from researching & writing 8+ hours a day to nothing. It was a glorious nothing for a week or so, but it got old quickly. I love to write and I’m extremely passionate about women’s rights, so starting a blog — especially with so much down time — seemed like a natural next step. And so sherights was born!
3. When did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And how has your involvement evolved over the years?
Throughout my college years, I was an armchair pro-choicer. Meaning, I totally supported a woman’s right to choose…from my dorm room. [Read more...]
I grew up in the Mormon Church. Whenever my brother and I would complain or fight, my mom would have us sing a Mormon hymn called “Count Your Many Blessings.” Not surprisingly, our attitudes would quickly change when we started singing about being grateful and naming our blessings one by one.
This past year has been very difficult for me, so I’m taking time out to say thank you for all of my many blessings as we move into the holiday season. Yes, Thanksgiving is a holiday that commemorates colonialism and white supremacy. But it is also a time to say thank you and feel grateful.
This month Feminists for Choice will be saying thank you to pro-choice advocates we admire. We all work so hard to protect access to reproductive health care that we sometimes forget that we’re not out here fighting alone. So stay tuned for some thank you notes. And if you have someone you’d like to honor with a guest post, please send us an e-mail. We’d love to include your voice in this season of gratitude.
Last week I posted a discussion question and asked folks to define what it means to them to be pro-choice. The response that I got from people on Twitter and Facebook was overwhelming. Thanks to everyone who responded.
The diversity of answers people gave me shows that there is such a broad range of thought around what it means to be pro-choice. Most importantly, it’s OK to have a conflicted answer about what “pro-choice” means to you. Rather than getting ourselves trapped in binary frameworks (i.e. “you’re either with us, or against us”), it seems more productive to acknowledge that everyone has their own point of view. When you read on, you’ll get a good sense of why I think there’s a valuable place at the table for each of these opinions. [Read more...]
When we started Feminists for Choice two years ago, there was a simple motivation: an invitation for discussion amongst feminists and pro-choice activists. If you ask 100 feminists what feminism means, you’ll get 100 different answers. The same is true if you ask pro-choice advocates to define what choice means to them.
For example, some pro-choice advocates believe that late-term abortion is valid, some don’t. Some of us argue that abortion should be rare, while others state that abortion is always a viable option. Some pro-choicers support parental notification laws, while others oppose them. The difference of opinion is valuable because it helps us clarify our points of view, and we believe that there is room for everyone at the table.
As new writers join our team at Feminists for Choice, I ask each of them to provide their personal definitions of feminism and pro-choice when they submit their bios. It’s been so interesting to see where our definitions intersect, and where they differ. [Read more...]
A friend of mine and I are currently in the process of getting an abortion fund established in Arizona. The process of establishing a 501(c)3 has been moving along quite smoothly, thanks in large part to the support we’ve been getting from the National Network of Abortion Funds. That is until now.
Today I went to the post office to open a PO Box for our abortion fund. The first clerk I spoke to was very polite and she showed me how to fill out the paperwork, told me that I had the proper forms of identification to open up a box, and then reassured me that there were boxes available. I left the counter to fill out the form, and then waited in line again to turn it in and get my key.
The second clerk I spoke to was less than helpful. As soon as he saw Abortion Access Network of Arizona on my application, he told me that I didn’t have the proper identification. He told me that I needed to bring a piece of mail that had my mailing address on it in order to open the account. I asked him why I needed to show where I get my mail, when I was clearly trying to get my mail at the post office. I also asked him where it said that on the paperwork, because according to the form I filled out, I needed a driver’s license and voter ID card – both of which I had. Then he had the nerve to tell me there were no boxes available, even though the first clerk had already checked. [Read more...]
Calling all activists! A Woman’s Choice in Jacksonville, Florida needs you. A Woman’s Choice is a private abortion clinic in need of clinic escorts. The clinic is one of only three abortion providers in the Jacksonville area – and they are the target of anti-choice protesters. To top it all off, a crisis pregnancy center is located right next door to A Woman’s Choice. So needless to say, pro-choice activists can make a big difference by volunteering as clinic escorts.
The clinic is open Monday – Saturday. Volunteers can commit to one to two hours shifts. If you would like to volunteer, contact Tiffany Arnold. You can also visit Pro-choice Jacksonville’s Tumblr page for more information.
So let’s do it, pro-choice Jacksonville. Get out there and escort!