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Blog for Choice Day 2009

This year's Blog for Choice topic is: What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?
To be honest, I have seen Obama make great decisions in this area already (NARAL fact sheet on his voting record as IL Senator: My biggest hope for the next 4 (hopefully 8 if everything goes well) years is that Obama will expand funding and access to better sex education (not abstinence-only or even abstinence-urging), because only information can give people true choice. I think Obama is well aware of the glaring need for better and more inclusive sex education, and for all states to provide legal, safe access to abortion for all ages of women, in all situations. I am choosing to write about some of my more basic-building-block thoughts on issues surrounding choice.

Why are you pro-choice?
Because I believe that no one's body is the property of any government or entity but her-/himself. This is also why I am against restrictions on same sex marriage or even the archaic laws against oral and anal sex intended to "catch" gay and lesbian people specifically. This is why I am against sweatshop labor and child labor, and support raising the minimum wage. This is why I support medically-assisted suicide. This is why I support legalization of drugs, or at least shorter sentences for crimes currently defined as drug offenses. This is why I know that slavery was (is) wrong. This is why I know that murder and rape and assault are wrong, and why abusing children is wrong. Because each person's body belongs only to herself or himself.

What's the problem with saying, "I believe in abortion, but not for people who use it as birth control"?
I feel that this attitude can actually harm the cause of keeping abortion safe and legal. When the Supreme Court of the US declared that abortion was federally legal, and that no state could delegalize or ban it, it meant that abortion could not be limited by a state. Why should it be limited by number of abortions an individual woman has, or by the fact that she is a minor, or by what conditions may or may not threaten her health (this has recently come to actually exclude mental health for some people who are against choice)? If we begin to dictate that only SOME women can have abortions, we begin the work of taking those rights away from people who may need them, and certainly deserve them either way. Better sex education and provision of free methods (as are available from Planned Parenthood clinics for people with low incomes) for prevention of pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infection is where we need to focus. The legal moves that G.W. Bush made toward allowing medical professionals to deny services to women based on their own conflicts of belief has left too many women contraception, Plan B and emergency contraceptives, and abortions alike. That's a great example of how a small change toward restriction can cause a huge threat to choice.

What's the problem with the term "pro-abortion"?
Pro-choice means supporting the choice of each woman (and couple, or family, I suppose--some couples and families have relationships in which each person is not necessarily simply an individual with individual rights) to make the decision to have an abortion. This is not being in support of abortions, it is being in support of freedom of choice for individuals to have abortions if they CHOOSE to; for this reason, I do not acknowledge the other end of this spectrum as 'anti-abortion' or 'pro-life', I acknowledge them as 'anti-choice'. I can't imagine that pro-choice could mean relishing the idea of abortions, or enjoying the experience/reality of an abortion. Perhaps it can be said that a woman may feel good about having had an abortion, because of the greater context of her situation, but that still does not constitute her position as "pro-abortion", which is a term created by people who do not believe in choice, to try to emotionally engage pro-choice people and make them feel badly somehow.

What's the problem with the term "pro-life"?
Pro-choice people can still support life, and living life. It is another term that was created to stir up emotions, to paint the pro-choice cause as extinguishing life. Pro-choice means maintaining a good quality of life for women who become pregnant but may not want to be. It means the prevention of throwing another child's life into foster care and group homes. It means respecting the lives of human beings who are living their lives right now, and understanding the science of life and how it is formed. I can respect that a lot of people believe that life begins at conception (and can respect their positions of not having abortions!), but this is not the medical and scientific reality; many fertilized eggs never implant into the uterus and become fetuses, many fertilized eggs can implant and then become dislodged. Not all fertilized eggs suddenly become babies out of nowhere.

What's the problem with the term "partial birth abortion"?
This is yet another term that was engineered by people who do not support choice, in order to conjure up images of a baby being born juxtaposed with 'abortion' to create a feeling of sickness, horror, shock. The medically accurate name is late term abortion, and it refers to an abortion that occurs during a period that may begin at the 20th week of gestation, or the 27th (depending on I guess some secret factors), according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Studies by the Guttmacher Institute (preeminent source of research on reproductive health issues in the US and, to some degree, internationally) find that the majority of women who have late term abortions do so because they either did not realize they were pregnant and/or they have limited access to abortion and had to wait longer. In my view, both of these reasons are failures of government because of lack of providing adequate education about the signs/symptoms of pregnancy, and lack of accessible resources for those in need of abortions.

What's the problem with making abortion illegal and denying it to women?
Many women and young girls die trying to give themselves abortions, even now, as abortion is legal and they can have access to it. The financial cost (most often anywhere from $300-500) is too great for a 14 year old who is not able to tell her parents and ask them for help. It is too great for the woman who works the graveyard shift in a factory making orange juice bottle caps, who was raped while she was walking home. It is too great, even, for someone like me or you--an adult, using consistently safe sex practices in a monogamous relationship, with a decently-paying job and bills to pay. If you google "at home abortion" or "DIY abortion", you'll find a shocking number of websites that can advise you on how to accomplish it outside of a clinic, at your own risk. This is not the kind of culture I hope to pass on to future generations. I want abortion to be a safe, legal, available practice to all women and all girls who need it, no matter what, because I do believe in life. I believe in doing what I think is right for me, and giving everyone else the opportunity to do what they believe is right for them, and never infringing upon their rights to do or not do. The easy thing about believing that abortion should be illegal is that, in fact, you never have to get one if you don't want one. The difficult thing about believing that abortion should be legal is that, in fact, should I need one, my right to it could be taken away in a heartbeat, by people other than the one responsible for my own body.

Any and all questions or comments are absolutely welcome.
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Writer's Block: Honey Bear

Happy birthday, A. A. Milne! Not coincidentally, it's also Winnie the Pooh Day. Which resident of Pooh Corner do you identify with the most?

Piglet: Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Eeyore: Major Depressive Disorder, Severe, Chronic
Tigger: chronic Manic Episodes and, if he ever experiences depression, Bipolar Disorder I; ADHD
Winnie-the-Pooh: Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, extremely poor judgment at times, compulsive eating tendencies
Owl: Narcissistic Personality Disorder, also a reading or visual processing issue of some type
Rabbit: Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, hardcore rudeness/detachment that make me think Cluster A Personality Disorders, maybe Schizoid
Kanga: A good mommy, a little overbearing at times--possible paranoid tendencies, but I tend to think she is just a product of an environment that does not show enough appreciation to single moms.
Roo: A totally normal little kid
Christopher Robin: Most likely normal, may want to test for psychosis just in case, since he does spend all his time with made-up animal characters.

I am a dangerous Piglet-Eeyore combination, definitely--a catastrophizer and quick to get down on myself and the world. And I am very certainly like Rabbit--my first thought was that this question SHOULD have read, "Which resident of the Hundred Acre Wood..."
Also I clearly have too much time on my hands, way too much fun with diagnostics, and too little important other stuff to be doing right now.
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Irrelevant accomplishments!!

The Foo Fighters' album The Colour and the Shape came out today on Rock Band, and I sang all the songs on expert mode, one time each, and kicked so much ass that my Xbox cowered in fear and I got several #1 positions on the leaderboards, which I will save for posterity on LiveJournal Collapse )

Culture of death

John McCain is the man who looks you in the eyes and knows that he is lying to you, but does it anyway, America. He is the man who tries to warp your thoughts so that you think he is just trying to keep you safe and protected because he cares so much about you, but all your friends can see that he is controlling and jealous and dangerous. He is the man who is beating you within an inch of your life, and then laughing at you while you are bleeding on the ground. You are the one who still doesn't leave him because he says he loves you and he'll change, but he never does and never will, and you're going to end up dead, America, and your whole life will become one of those hour-long stories on Forensic Files someday, where they're interviewing your parents and siblings who cry in such immense pain about how they knew this would happen to you, but no one could convince or help you to break away from that poisonous, lying, violent man.
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The Ghost of Teenage Past

I have been doing a lot of cleaning and going-through. I have had these boxes of letters from people, printed-out AIM conversations and emails from when I was, oh, 15, all the way up to 19 or 20. I found many notes and letters (and mixtapes and CDs!) from several of you LiveJournal friends, and did you even realize how long we have known each other? Eons, oceans of time, forevers!

The thing that's really on my mind is looking at the things I wrote 10 (or even 5) years ago, poems, letters that I never delivered to the intended recipient, pages and pages of volumes and volumes of journals (I found that I have filled at least 6 different diary/journal books since the age of 12), artwork I did in high school and college (along with extremely encouraging notes from the teachers that still could not break through the icy barrier of my self-consciousness about drawing and painting), my 'zine' from 2001. It felt good to see the earnest, open girl who wanted to speak and be heard, and to remember that she is still in here somewhere. I worry sometimes that, in the process of becoming this person, the woman-girl discovering what it is like to feel confident because of having a great skill at something, I lost some of the special things I used to be. Looking back on myself at 15-18-20, I like who I was, even though I didn't at the time. I like a lot of things about who I am at 25, too, but feel a strong drive to improve on certain things too. In some ways, I don't even know that there is a static definition of Who I Am, but in some ways, I can see how undeniable it is that certain parts of me persist through whatever my life circumstances are (good and bad parts alike).

Next step: finally begin to feel like an adult(?).
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Writer's Block: Whose part would you play?

If you could be cast on any TV show, from any time, who would you play?

I've never answered a "Writer's Block" question before but this one was tooooooo good. I watch way too much TV for a grad student.

1) Mary Richards, The Mary Tyler Moore Show: I think this was one of the first shows that really had an intelligent, capable female lead, and I watched the reruns on Nick at Nite as a little girl. I think it played a part in developing me as a feminist, to be honest.
2) Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager: Female space captain? Awesome. (The only thing I don't like about her character is this odd, nonsensical moral double standard she sometimes has about when it is permissible to interfere in other space cultures.)
2.5) Also Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation: She is the ship's counselor and has telepathic abilities.
3) The Smoke Monster, Lost: Because then I would understand the smoke monster because I would be it, so I would totally understand what the hell is going on in this show.
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I've seen your flag on the marble arch

I will tell you something. There's nothing like that just-right combination of mood and song that makes you sit outside in the car, in front of your house, waiting until the song is over to turn off the car and go inside. There is one line in "Hallelujah" that always wrenches my stomach and heart and brain, and I don't completely understand it, except that I just feel it, like it's this bright light that points directly at some secret place and illuminates whatever was quiet there before.

There are things that aren't going the way I want them to, and it's so hard to just let it be that way. Is this the experience I need to have in order to develop the ability to tolerate the incredible discomfort of it? It's not like I've never had a pebble in the road before, but I can't remember ever feeling so much like the pebble is actually a mountain that is uphill both ways and made of some substance impossible to walk on and the temperatures are intolerable to the human body and the mountain is actually a monster that will swallow me at any moment. The thing I'm holding onto is the feeling of wanting to press on and get through it to have what promises to be the greatest reward.