Despite overwhelming scientific evidence showing that vaccines are safe and effective, many parents have become skeptical. Efforts to encourage these parents to change their minds have most often focused on correcting the misinformation. A new study, however, suggests that this approach may backfire.
Two more reproductive health clinics—one an abortion provider—in underserved areas of Texas closed their doors this week, as the effects of the omnibus anti-abortion access bill passed last summer with the support of conservative lawmakers continue to unfold across the state.
Both now-shuttered clinics, in McAllen and Beaumont, are part of the Whole Woman’s Health group, which once had five facilities in Texas: in Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, McAllen, and Beaumont. As of this week, the organization will be down to three locations. And come September, when abortion providers are required to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, there will be just one Whole Woman’s left, in San Antonio. At that time, it will be one of six abortion providers left in a state that, according to data from Texas Department of State Health Services, sees about 70,000 legal abortion procedures performed each year.
“It’s hard for me to feel like I’m giving up, letting people down,” Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller told RH Reality Check. But when her doctors can’t get admitting privileges in socially conservative communities, and she can’t afford the million-dollar retrofitting required to turn her small clinics into hospital-like surgical centers, she said, “there’s no miracle way to pay the bills.”
The two shuttered clinics were both located in communities where poverty rates are high and many residents are un- or under-insured. The Beaumont facility, in southeast Texas, was the only provider between Houston and Louisiana, while the McAllen facility, in the Rio Grande Valley, served clients in the poorest city in the United States. Read the rest of the article here.
“(TW: RAPE) If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”—
“For many transgender people, announcements of equal health-care access—particularly through state-funded services—are met with all the adulation and tearful glee that would attend a state announcing that it has legalized same-sex marriage. This says a lot about the needs and priorities of transgender people, many of whom are still fighting for the basic preconditions for life.”—D.C.’s Transgender Health-Care Victory and What It Means
“Women are watching and we’re ready,” Planned Parenthood’s 2014 midterm elections campaign informs us.
But which women are watching and ready? Certainly not white women. As a voting bloc, white women don’t seem to care much about reproductive rights. But Black women do, while also realizing that there are issues that are equally if not more important that threaten our health and well-being. And the behemoth reproductive rights organizations persist in their failure to recognize that. —Imani Gandy
Let’s also not forget that if it wasn’t for Black women, we would be face-palming our way through a Mitt Romney presidency right now.
So where is our recognition? Where is the campaign strategy that centers our concerns? Where is the voter education model that emphasizes the unique importance to women of color of issues beyond abortion and birth control? Where are the NARAL Pro-Choice America candidate score cards that include candidates’ positions on, for example, voter ID laws? And really: Can a sister get a shout-out for keeping Mitt “Planned Parenthood? We’re Gonna Get Rid of That!” Romney out of the White House?
“Women are watching and we’re ready,” Planned Parenthood’s 2014 midterm elections campaign informs us.
Two clinics in underserved areas of Texas—one an abortion provider—closed their doors this week, as the effects of the omnibus anti-abortion access bill passed last summer with the support of conservative lawmakers continue to unfold across the state.
I had a patient in the clinic who really did not want an abortion but who had no resources to cover the costs of prenatal care or childbirth. She was single and without insurance coverage but made just enough money to be ineligible for state assistance. She already had outstanding bills at the hospital and with the local ob-gyn practice. No doctor would see her without payment up front.
We were willing to do the abortion for a reduced rate or for free if necessary. But she really didn’t want an abortion. Once I understood her situation, I went to the phone and called the local ‘crisis pregnancy center.’
"Hello, this is Dr. Wicklund."
Dead silence. I might as well have said I was Satan.
"Hello?" I said again. "This is Dr. Wicklund."
"Hello," very tentatively, followed by another long silence.
"I need help with a patient," I said. She came to me for an abortion, but really doesn’t want one. What she really needs is someone to do her prenatal care and birth for free."
"What do you expect us to do?"
I let that hang for a minute.
This Common Secret, Susan Wicklund
Crisis Pregnancy Centers often disguise themselves as medical facilities, with advertisements offering “help” with an unplanned pregnancy. Their main goal is to keep the pregnant person from having an abortion at all costs. Usually, all they’ll give you is a free pregnancy test, some baby clothes, and maybe a box of diapers.
The patient referred to in the quote was given free prenatal care and did not have to pay the financial cost of childbirth by a local anti-choice doctor. She would often stop by Dr. Wicklund’s office to let her know how she was doing:
"He always moans and groans about being tricked into [doing this]," she says. "Then he goes off on these tirades against abortion."
“There’s a lot of talk among liberal, coastal elites about how we should just let the red states secede, how we should cut Florida off the map and give Texas back to Mexico. There’s also a lot of talk within the queer community that being queer and Christian is a contradiction in terms. As a queer Christian living in a red state, it’s hard not to feel totally abandoned by my allies who happen to live in blue states.”—Telling me I deserve what I got because I chose to live in a red state is not only unhelpful—it is destructive. Part of making LGBT rights a priority means that we don’t abandon LGBT people to the whims of legislatures that don’t see them as human. -Living Queer in a Red State
A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to a nearby city to meet with a friend who was speaking in the area. We’re both feminist Christian writers, and it was great to be able to reconnect with her after not seeing her for a while. We sat in a local coffee shop and talked about everything under the sun. Eventually, the conversation turned to LGBT issues. I found myself looking around the coffee shop to see who was in earshot before saying, “As a queer woman … ”
This sort of paranoia is built into how we queer people have to function in red states. I’m very careful about how I talk about myself and how I present myself in public, because after all, Matthew Shepard died just one state over. I was 12 years old at the time. It was only within the last few years that national hate crime legislation was signed into law. And state legislatures are still trying to depersonalize and dehumanize our identities. -Living Queer in a Red State
I live in South Dakota, in the city I grew up in. I’m a two-minute drive from where I went to high school. It’s not unusual for me to run into former professors and classmates from my (also local) Christian undergraduate college. With every one of them I see, I wonder if they’ve seen my blog posts, if they know who I’ve become.
I moved back here in August after leaving my job in Chicago and deciding to pursue a career as a freelance writer and author. The cost of living is lower here, and the lack of state income tax makes it a much better for me, financially, than the high city and state taxes in the Chicago area. But by leaving a major urban center for a town that is 221 miles from the nearest Ikea (I counted), I knew I was taking a risk—a risk that I would lose access to a queer community. What I didn’t expect was that my own state government would start to push to decide that I am not a person worth protecting, that I am not deserving of dignity.
My family and I sat down to play the Game of Life one holiday weekend. In the game, players move a little cararound the board and work their way through “achievements”: completing college, getting a job, getting married, buying a house, having kids, and eventually retiring, hopefully at “Millionaire Estates.”
I dutifully went through the first levels of the game, obtaining my college degree and finding myself a nice high-paying job. Then the marriage goal came. As she was fishing out a blue “husband” peg for me, my cousin turned to me and asked, “Or would you like a wife? We could be very modern about this!”
I’d come out as queer to my mother about six weeks before, but hadn’t told the rest of my family yet. No one else knew, to my knowledge, except a few select friends. I didn’t know what to do or say, so I just nervously laughed it off and took the little blue husband she handed me. - Living Queer in a Red State
Iowa is now considering a bill that would allow abortion patients to sue a doctor for abortion regret, even if they received counseling and signed informed consent forms prior to the abortion. The bill gives women a ten-year window to come to the conclusion that they regret their abortion and to sue. Since none of us really knows where we’ll be in ten years, this opens abortion providers up to all sorts of unfair lawsuits, since there’s no way to know that the 21-year-old women’s studies major with a pro-choice button on her bag getting an abortion today is going to get married and join a fundamentalist church and decide she must produce “abortion regret” in penance before she’s 30.
More to the point, the bill shows how cynical and insincere anti-choicers are when they pretend to care about women experiencing abortion regret. If they actually cared about women who are suffering from abortion regret, they wouldn’t blame the doctor. They would blame the people who actually caused the regret. For instance, you would be able to sue a partner or parent who shamed you, or your church for telling you that your past behavior was sinful, or your local anti-choice organization for provoking these feelings of shame and regret. That makes a whole lot more sense that blaming the doctor.
If you read the abortion regret stories that proliferate in anti-choice circles, what comes across loud and clear is that the feelings of regret owe far more to the pressure from churches and right-wing organizations and other people in the community who shame women than to doctors—who in many cases were the only people who were generous and non-shaming to the women. - Who’s to Blame When A Woman Experiences Abortion Regret?
“Anti-choicers would like you to believe they are very concerned about abortion regret. Conservative websites fill up with tales of woe from women who claim they would like to take an abortion they had back, even though they often don’t consider that doing so would mean they’d have to give up the life path that led to their current happy circumstances—husband, children, and so on. The implication is that abortion regret is so terrible that if only a few women regret their abortions, abortion itself must be banned. This logic is not carried over to other decisions that are far more frequently regretted than abortion. For instance, a far higher percentage of people who marry will regret that decision—as any divorce statistic will confirm—and yet somehow the “we must ban every decision a person could possibly regret” logic doesn’t get invoked when it comes to marriage.”—Who’s to Blame When A Woman Experiences Abortion Regret?
“During a Republican primary debate in the last presidential election cycle, there was a dispiriting moment in which tea party audience members cheered at the idea that a comatose uninsured American — unable to afford health insurance — would be left to die. That infamous outburst, among others, has prompted GOP bigwigs to try to cut back on primary season debates, hoping to limit appearances that might expose the party’s baser impulses. But that mean-spirited and contemptuous attitude toward the sick is alive and well in the Grand Old Party, as its maniacal (and futile) resistance to Obamacare has made clear. Now, one Republican politician is pushing that callousness to new lows: He wants to bar the uninsured from hospital emergency rooms.”—GOP WOULD BAR POOR FROM HEALTH CARE ALTOGETHER (via azspot)
A recent Slate piece argued that coercing testimony from survivors of violence means more victims testifying, which means more offenders jailed, which means less DV and sexual assault. However, this position is, as it turns out, largely nonexistent in the real world.
A prosecutor’s decision to jail a complainant in order to compel testimony is not made in a vacuum, and it’s one that carries criminal justice costs of its own. The state may succeed in forcing testimony by such tactics, or it may not. That testimony may be helpful to the prosecution, or it may not. It may result in a guilty verdict, or it may not. The idea that jailing a reluctant complainant will invariably improve the chances of convicting the offender is unsupported by evidence—in fact, such a move may well have the opposite effect, by inducing a complainant to flee, or recant, or testify unconvincingly.
And even if the testimony is obtained, and is effective, the practice of compelling testimony may dissuade other victims (or that victim in a subsequent case, possibly with the same perpetrator) from coming forward. That risk is highest among survivors with reason to fear the criminal justice system—the poor, the homeless, the undocumented, the addicted, sex workers, LGBT people, people with disabilities, and so on. These communities are already disproportionately victimized by sexual assault and domestic violence, and coercive prosecutorial tactics that victimize them again are completely antithetical to curbing such violence.
It must also be recognized that rapists and abusers understand the power of the state and how it can be wielded against victims, and they use this knowledge to facilitate their crimes. Perpetrators of domestic violence frequently threaten to turn their victims over to immigration officials, child protective services, or other authorities. The more widespread the judicial coercion of victim testimony becomes, the more the threat of incarceration by frustrated prosecutors will be deployed by abusers to perpetuate their own violence.
Dear CVS: A Real ‘Health-Care Company’ Guarantees In-Store Access to Birth Control
If CVS wishes to keep moving in the direction of providing health care, the women who patronize it need to know they can come in to the store for contraceptives and leave that same store with contraceptives in hand. Read the rest of the open letter here. And the petition here.
Can you imagine walking into a pharmacy to buy ibuprofen and, finding that it was kept behind the pharmacy counter, you ask the pharmacist if you can buy some and are told no.
The pharmacist doesn’t believe in selling ibuprofen, and unfortunately the sales associate on shift doesn’t either. It’s against their religion. You’re out of luck.
It sounds funny, but if you go to a CVS pharmacy for emergency contraception, or to refill a monthly birth control prescription, their corporate policy allows employees to refuse to serve you in the store, even if there isn’t anyone else on duty who’s willing to do so. Is there another store to go to? If you’re in an urban center, have time on your hands, are very mobile and have access to transportation, sure. If you’re in a rural area or have difficulties getting around, you may be out of luck at one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country.
The West Virginia chemical spill is a reproductive justice issue.
The CDC has said since early February that the water is safe to drink for everyone in the region, including pregnant women, because tested water is at “non-detect” levels of MCHM—that is, less than ten parts per billion. Some tests can detect levels as low as one part per billion, and Gupta said he would like to see more testing done at those lowest levels. But he said that there are still many unknowns, especially where homes are concerned.
Officials don’t know, Gupta said, whether the chemicals might have leeched into the materials in home pipes, which are typically made of copper or plastic rather than the iron or PVC found in the kinds of central distribution pipes that have already been tested. The hot water in homes in the region tends to smell stronger than the cold water, which could mean that sediment is forming in hot water heaters.
Even non-detect levels haven’t always necessarily meant “safe,” as West Virginians found out with disruptive spill-related school closings that happened around the same time the CDC lifted its advisory. Three schools closed, and 14 issued complaints to health officials, as students and teachers reported strong odors and symptoms of light-headedness and watery eyes.
Already, pregnancy is “a very anxious time in people’s lives,” said Margaret Chapman Pomponio, executive director of reproductive rights advocacy group WV Free. “For a pregnant woman to have this kind of anxiety, uncertainty, and financial strain—it’s potentially harmful to her pregnancy.”
WV Free has been fundraising since the disaster to benefit pregnant women in need of relief as a matter of both reproductive and environmental justice.
And some advocates argue that this is not the first time West Virginia’s government has failed to protect the freedom of pregnant women and families to live without fear of environmental hazard. More here.
“Rape’s not something where you just go, “Well, get over it” or “Believe in love and peace, my child, and it’ll all be over.” Well, fuck you, that isn’t the answer. It’s a great thought, OK, but you can go and stick crystals up your butt and get on with it. I’m all for love and peace, but that’s not the side I work on. If somebody would talk about it, or worse, joke about it, I would be ready to kill. That’s not healing. It was a very long time after that before I was able to be with anyone again. And it has never been the same as it was before”—Tori Amos (via beyondxy)
Ms. Phyllis “Grandma” Hardy is a 70-year-old great-grandmother serving the 22nd year of a 30-year federal prison sentence for distribution of cocaine. After 22 years of incarceration and now confined to a wheel chair, Ms Hardy is waiting to receive a necessary knee replacement while continuing to struggle with respiratory health problems.
Do you feel safer knowing that Grandma Hardy is living in a prison cell in Texas, thousands of miles away from the family that can’t afford to visit her anymore, or do you think the republic might survive letting her go home?
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: EDs in the Military
Although eating disorders affect 20 million women and ten million men in the United States each year, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), studies show a greater prevalence of some eating disorders among military service members.
A 2001 study published in Military Medicine found that, across four of the five military branches, female soldiers were likely to suffer from bulimia at nearly six times the rate of the general population—or 8.1 percent, compared to 1.5 percent of women and 0.5 percent of men—with higher numbers among female Marines (15.9 percent). The same study showed 1.1 percent of female soldiers suffered from anorexia and 62.8 percent suffered from eating disorders not otherwise specified (ED-NOS)—a rate slightly higher than that of civilian women.
In a way, the military can create a perfect storm for triggering an eating disorder, says Dr. John Dolores, executive director of Center for Hope of the Sierras, a ten-bed residential eating disorder treatment center in Reno, Nevada. The emphasis on discipline, rank, and teamwork, combined with rule-based conducts, regimented eating, and grueling physical training mirrors the mindset often associated with eating disorders: a controlling, compulsive strive for perfectionism that thrives “under rules.”
“That perfectionism, that rigidity, is a really big piece to it,” Dolores told RH Reality Check.
…Being on a battlefield thousands of miles away from home took its toll on her body and mind. The combat environment she was accustomed to became even more extreme—“pressure on steroids,” as she described it.
The second most common eating disorder among women, bulimia is defined by recurring episodes of excessive eating (binging) followed by “compensatory behaviors” like self-induced vomiting, digestive supplement abuse, and extreme exercise meant to offset the effects of consuming large amounts of food (purging). Like anorexia nervosa, if left untreated, bulimia can be life-threatening.
When media consumers read an op-ed shaming rape victims, when fans follow fictional narratives that exaggerate the risks of abortion, when viewers encounter no women of color on TV screens or elided depictions of queer sexuality in films, when articles about and interviews with transgender individuals treat their lives as salacious rather than sensitive material, when readers flip through the pages of glossy magazines and see only tiny, thin, white bodies—in all these instances, they are consuming the choices of media makers.
So much of this damaging media content comes from creators who are not women.
when choice is reserved for those with money and access to resources. you can go on and on about your RIGHT to choose, but if you do not understand that rights have always been an illusion, that they are only granted to the rich, the white, the privileged, then you are not fighting for justice. you are fighting for the rich; the white; the privileged.
reproductive justice goes beyond the abortion debate. it is affordable housing and childcare. it is respecting treaties. it is the deindustrialization of the prison system. it is the eradication of poverty.