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How to Speak on Reproductive Justice
I recently attended a workshop hosted by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland on how to speak about reproductive justice as an advocate. The first part of that workshop focused on what exactly constitutes reproductive justice and that it’s so much more than the availability of abortions. The second part was actually talking about abortion. The workshop is based on the information gathered by Planned Parenthood in a study that took several years on attitudes towards abortion and how language affects it. Following the layout of the workshop, the first part of this post will cover various aspects of reproductive justice and the second will cover how to speak on reproductive justice.
What is included under the term “Reproductive Justice”?
- Safe and legal abortions available to all who need
- Affordable and available birth control and contraceptive options
- Affordable and available health care (pap smears, mammograms etc.)
- Affordable and Available resources to help under-privileged families
- No forced sterilizations
- Comprehensive sex education
- Affordable and Available sterilization options
- Adoption regulations (no child taken from healthy family, no child without a home)
- Adoption options available for any who want to adopt
- No genital mutilation
- Affordable and available transition options for Trans* folk
- No forced pregnancy or forced abortion
- And much more
It’s important that we look at the intersections of oppression. All oppressed groups based on race, orientation, gender identity, intersex conditions, ability, financial status, designated sex are oppressed in this category and we need to look at how their general oppression affects this. It’s important we look at the underlining cause of these reproductive oppressions, which is racism, sexism, cisexism, heterosexism, and many more. Certain racial, orientation, gender identity, ability, and intersex conditions are sterilized against their will. Health options are limited for people of certain financial status, ability, condition, orientation, or gender identity. Comprehensive sex education is even more difficult to find when you’re not straight, cis gender, dyadic, able-bodied, and neurotypical. People of certain orientations or gender identities may be unable to adopt. Children of certain abilities, races, gender identity, or orientation may be more unlikely to be adopted. Many children of different races are taken away from their countries, communities, and loving families in amoral adoption practices. This occurs even today in the United States, with Native American children being taken away from their families and adopted off to white adults.
Try to think of other ways that someone may be oppressed as it relates to reproductive health.
How to speak on Reproductive Justice
The Planned Parenthood website Not In Her Shoes, although gendering and not inclusive to trans* people is a good resource to check out what information and statistics they have gathered in their studies.
It starts with the words “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life”. I have definitely seen in my discussion on reproductive justice and the abortion issue that many people I would identify as pro-choice, those who support keeping abortion legal, don’t identify as such and this can create problems. Instead of sticking to these outdated (and in the case of pro-life, plain incorrect) labels that cause people to have an immediate negative response, Planned Parenthood suggests that we say we are pro reproductive justice, and that we want abortions to be legal and safe. The number of people who say abortion should remain legal and safe are much higher than those who would identify as pro-choice, by changing our language we open up our community to more people and gather more supporters. Two Thirds of American Voters want abortion to remain legal, whereas nearly one third of voters do not identify as either pro-choice or pro-life. By using this language we are excluding one third of our supporters.
Another thing that they found was that although people aren’t really comfortable talking about abortion, they do support it as a personal decision. People respond favorably to statements like, “Abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a person, and I don’t believe you can make that decision for someone else.”, “A person should have accurate information about all of their options. Information should support a person, help them make a decision for themselves, and enable them to take care of their health and well-being.”, and “Information should not be provided with the intent of coercing, shaming, or judging a person.” These are good to bring up when we talk about legal limits being put on abortion.
Another thing that they found that surprised me is that it works well if you don’t describe possible situations. Something I and many people who talk about reproductive justice is to try to talk about different situations a person may come from who needs abortion. We think that this helps show the diversity of people who need abortions, and show that it could be anyone. In reality, what the find is that what we think are good reasons for an abortion may not be someone else’s. They may have a direct negative emotional response that closes their ears off to what you are saying. What the research showed was that 79% of likely american voters found this simple statement convincing, “We’re not in their shoes. It’s just not that simple.” It is important to recognize that anyone of any background may someday need or want an abortion, but it is better and less judgmental to just state that everyone’s situation is different.
It’s also important, Planned Parenthood found, to avoid using language like “unintended pregnancy”, “unplanned pregnancy”, and “unwanted pregnancy”. When talking about abortion, more people responded more favorably when just using the word abortion, ending a pregnancy, or a safe and legal procedure, when talking about abortion. When talking about the goal to reduce “unintended pregnancy” with birth control or sex education it’s okay to use that word, but not unplanned and especially not unwanted. Many unintended pregnancies are wanted, I’ve definitely had friends that were “accidents” that their parents wanted very much. People also tend to not respond to the concept that you have to plan a pregnancy, so unintended works best. “Safe and Legal” is also what more people responded to as a good goal. “Safe, Legal, and on demand” may turn off people who may consider themselves more pro-life, while “Safe, Legal, and rare” may turn off people who consider themselves more pro-choice.
Something that really hit me in a strong way was this statement that was used in the workshop, “People don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments. Politicians should not be involved in a person’s personal medical decisions.” This is the bottom line, a person should be making this decision with her doctor, her loved ones, and her own faith. Politicians are not medical experts and have no place in discussing a medical procedure.
A similar message that I thought was important to address was that of when life begins. What they suggested to say about that is that “Questions about life are deeply personal and it’s not simple. It can be cultural, religious, or scientific. All I know is Politicians are not experts.” Many cultures believe that the baby is alive until it is born, takes it’s first breath, or even for several weeks or month after it is born. Different religions have different definitions of life, and as for science it still depends on the person.
For me there were a couple of things I’d like to touch on when talking about language and reproductive justice. For me a lot of this issue comes down to consent. Consent to medical procedures, consent to having children, and yes consent to sex. It’s also about having the education and ability to have informed consent.
It’s also important for me to remain inclusive to trans* people while also acknowledging the sexism in legislation that restricts reproductive rights. Like we touched on earlier, a lot of restrictions come down to the intention of oppressing certain groups. To keep people from thriving as much as others, whether that means refusing gender transition, making them care for a child instead of going to college, never finding a family, or to never be able to have a child. A lot of this does stem from sexism, and it is important to realize it even though more than just women are affected. You can use inclusive language that acknowledges more than just women get abortions or need birth control while still being conscious of the fact that regulations are being used in an attempt to control and oppress women.
What are your thoughts? How will this help you frame the way you think and speak about reproductive justice and justice in general?
If any of my followers live in the Northwest Arkansas Area, we are going to have a rally at 5pm this coming Monday at the Wilson Park Pavilion in Fayetteville to show our support for the Affordable Care Act.
Planned Parenthood and other health organizations are going to be there to talk about how the ACA can help you. In reproductive rights, it helps make birth control and preventative screenings like Pap Smears and Mammograms more affordable and in many cases free. It also makes it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to get health care and it makes medicaid more available.
Unfortunately there is a lot of myths being spread about the ACA and there is a lot of backlash. This rally is in response to an anti-ACA rally taking place the same day.
Help show our representatives how important the ACA is to us and show up! I’ll see you there!
Anti-Choice Legislature in Arkansas and what it means to you.
By now you may have heard that Arkansas is receiving an onslaught of proposed bills and new laws that limit people’s reproductive choices. These are just a few of those laws and bills:
* New Law, currently in affect: a ban on abortion after 20 weeks except in cases of rape, incest, or in saving the parent’s life
* New Law, not yet in affect: a ban on abortion after 12 weeks except in the cases of rape, incest, or in saving the parent’s life.
* New Bill (SB1157): Amending the law regarding consent to abortion. Although we don’t know what it all entails yet this usually requires you to look at an ultrasound or have a doctor describe an ultrasound before an abortion is preformed. If the pregnancy is early enough this may require a transvaginal ultrasound.
* New Bill (SB913): This requires that you take both doses of the abortion pill in the clinic with the doctor there. Usually you take one in clinic and take the other at home as you have to wait 3 days before taking the other pill. This would really affect people who had to travel to get the procedure done. This also allows the “father” and “maternal grandparents” to sue the doctor.
* New Bill ( HB276): Amending the law regarding waiting periods for abortions. Again, we don’t know the details but this would largely affect those who had to travel or those close to the cut off date.
* New Bill (HB1098): this changes the definition of child under the child maltreatment act to from the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected to 18 years of age. That means that if a doctor thinks that a pregnant person is somehow abusing the fetus they could file a report.
* New Bill (SB913): this bans telemed abortions, abortions where the doctor is not physically in the room when the abortion pill is administered, but watches remotely and offers virtual counseling.
* New Bill (HB1899): Would allow doctors and pharmacists to refuse you birth control based on their moral beliefs
* New Bill (SB818): Would defund Planned Parenthood
Now what does this all mean to people in Arkansas? This could mean that one or more of the Planned Parenthood clinics would have to shut down or reduce programs which could leave people without affordable birth control, STI testing, genital infection testing, infection treatment, wellness exams, prenatal care, post natal care, free condoms, pregnancy tests, the morning after pill, and the abortion pill. If they try to get an abortion or self abort they could possibly be charged with child abuse. They would only be able to get the abortion pill if they are able to go to the clinic twice in 4 days. They would only be able to get a surgical abortion before 12 weeks. This also means that if the parent’s life isn’t in immediate danger they may be forced to carry a dead or non-viable fetus to term which can cause several health problems and be incredibly traumatic.
What does that mean to you? If any or all of these bills are made into laws this sets a precedence. If your state or wherever you live sees Arkansas accomplish all this they may want to start passing other laws. Right now North Dakota Senate just passed a 6-week abortion ban bill. Now many of you may be pointing out that many of these laws are unconstitutional and do go against federal law. This is true, a state Judge in Idaho just struck down a 20-week abortion ban as unconstitutional. However, they are planning to appeal this and take it all the way to the Supreme Court. Not only is this a time and money consuming procedure if Arkansas were to do this, but also until this happens some of these laws are already in affect or going into affect. Also, these people want to take it to the Supreme Court so that they can call into question Roe vs. Wade and try to get it overturned. That’s the main thing, they want abortion to be illegal on a federal level. This is scary considering 20 states have laws that restrict abortion.
Now, what can you do about this? If you live in Arkansas, or any state for that matter, there are a few things you can do.
1. Educate yourself. Look into what your local laws are, and what the bills are that are coming up. Really look into what they say. Educate yourself on what abortion is, what it does, and why it is used. There are a lot of myths out there, so I’m going to be spreading some posts around to help you.
2. Talk about it. To everyone! Reblog posts or make posts on social networking sites, talk about it in school or at work. Tell people what’s going on and what they can do.
3. Write to newspapers and magazines. Write to as many groups as you can to tell them where you stand. Not only does your voice get heard, it encourages others to speak up as well
4. Call or email your local government. Many people have websites you can comment on, or emails and numbers available. Research who your local representatives are and tell them how you feel.
5. Make petitions, fliers, and protest. Make a petition on line or on paper and get signatures of people who support your cause. Take the information you learned about and make pamphlets or fliers to spread around town and educate others. Many places are holding protests, in Arkansas we’re having one at the Capitol (in Little Rock) March 23rd at 3:00). You are welcome to come show your support even if you don’t live here and maybe it’ll help you figure out what you need to do for your state. If you do live in Arkansas, if you can please go! It’s very important.
6. Vote. I know a lot of people say voting doesn’t matter, but this is a great example to show it does. Vote for people who aren’t going to do this to you. Research who is voting for these awful bills and spread the word so people know not to vote for them. I’ll be making a post of all of the politicians involved in these bills later.
So I wrote to all Arkansas Senators, and this is one of the responses I got
I love the thinly veiled contempt he holds for my words. Can you spread this around so Arkansas residents know how unwilling to communicate about legislation that affects them he is?
Yeah, I got a similarly disappointing response (BY THE SAME SENATOR!) right after Beebe’s Veto of the 20 week bill:
Basically Senator Clark not only thinks it’s okay to make light of the fact that abortion is sometimes the only viable option for people with chronic conditions but also thinks that his constituents want him to vote this way and that “the most vocal are women”. I’d like to see these vocal constituents, as the only ones I know of are urging him not to vote this way.
*Edit: Since my screencap is so small and I can’t get it to be any clearer this is what was said:
1.) Most of the fatal fetal anomalies like skeletal displasias, malformed diaphragms, Edward’s syndrome, Anencephaly, and Patau’s syndrome are detected after 20 weeks. Forcing women to carry nonviable fetuses to term is cruel psychological trauma for women who have to tell well-meaning people in the bank and supermarket that the baby is not viable and yet she must carry it to term. Can you imagine having this conversation everyday around your town? Can you imagine your children or your daughters-in-law being forced to have this conversation with well-meaning strangers? It is an undue burden.
2.) The bill will be challenged in court since it is patently unconstitutional, which will be an astronomical cost for Arkansans, as Governor Beebe pointed out yesterday. In a climate where fiscal responsibility is an important consideration, this is an undue cost for Arkansas taxpayers.
3.) While you may personally disagree with the medical practice, women who get abortions at 20 weeks or beyond really want their children but the medical complications threaten the fetus or the mother.
Everyone wants to reduce the number of abortions in the state but we do that with comprehensive sex education and contraception. The data is clear that more stringent abortion legislation leads to an increase in the number of abortions and those abortions are extremely unsafe.
Thank you for your time and for serving all of the people in the state.
1. The bill was amended to take into account the very issues you brought up.
2. There is every reason based on recent court decisions to believe the bill is constitutional The Attorney General budget will be the same with or without this bill.
3. Was answered in #1
4. My constituents sent me here to vote for this bill. The most vocal are women.
5. I agree with them.
Submission: Pro-choice study on Planned Parenthood Clients
A wonderful woman by the name of Wanda Kolomyjec is conducting a study via interviewing clients of Planned Parenthood. The study will be published into a book and her main goal is to shed light on the fact that Planned Parenthood is a vital source of reproductive healthcare, not an abortion factory. Whether you are a life long client or just went in for an STD test, Wanda wants to hear from you. She is the director of Social Circles of Knowledge, a wonderful org. that promotes healthy conversation about hot button issues. If you are interested in sharing your experience(s) with Planned Parenthood, you can reach Wanda at email@example.com.
Someone asked us:
If I am on the pill, and I had to take a pregnancy test, would the hormones in the pill affect the result of the test?
Nope — pregnancy tests are 99 percent accurate, whether or not you’re on the pill or any other form of birth control. The hormone that a pregnancy test detects in your urine is called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and it’s only produced during pregnancy. It’s not found in hormonal birth control (which contains the hormones progestin and estrogen).
Taking a pregnancy test correctly usually means waiting to take it after your missed period, although some brands can be taken a few days before. You can read the label on the box to see when it becomes effective.
-Nina at Planned Parenthood
Plus you get to hear about all the awful anti health/abortion/Planned Parenthood laws that are being passed.
Can I bring someone with me to my pelvic exam?
Someone asked us:
At Planned Parenthood, can I bring my boyfriend in with me for my pelvic exam?
A lot of people feel a little nervous before a pelvic exam, especially if it’s their first time getting one. And holding someone’s hand always helps when you’re freaked out at the doctor’s office. But many health care providers don’t allow other people in the exam room, for a number of different reasons. This can vary one from provider to the next, so you should call your local Planned Parenthood health center and ask about their policy. But there’s a chance he’ll have to wait for you in the waiting room.
That might sound really scary, but take a deep breath: getting through a pelvic exam – whether alone or with your boyfriend in the room — is something you can absolutely do. A good first step would be to read up on what happens during a pelvic exam, so you have a sense of what the experience will be like. While some parts of a pelvic exam might be a little uncomfortable, none of it should be painful.
When you go for your exam, it’s okay to tell your health care provider if you’re feeling nervous. She can help explain what’s happening and what everything will feel like, which can make the whole thing a lot less scary.
- Alex at Planned Parenthood