Disclaimer: I am not a professional! If you want to find a professional sex educator please look at http://fuckyeahsexeducation.tumblr.com/Resources. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: http://fyseq.tumblr.com/ask, though check out http://fuckyeahsexeducation.tumblr.com/FAQ!
TW: Rape and incest, forced pregnancy
This Tuesday, the Colorado House Judiciary Committee will hear a bill that will ban all abortion and emergency contraception in Colorado, and make it a felony for a physician to perform an abortion.
Representative Humphrey’s bill (House Bill 1133) will deny survivors of rape or incest access to emergency contraception, and force them to give birth to their attacker’s child should they become pregnant as a result of these violent acts.
Forcing people to bear children that result from rape and incest goes too far, but Representative Humphrey doesn’t think it goes far enough. He wants to make sure any physician in Colorado who performs an abortion can be sentenced to 12 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.
We’ve seen attacks on reproductive health become law in states across the country over the past year, but don’t want them here in Colorado. This bill is an attempt to insert politicians into Coloradans personal, private health care decisions.
TELL THE STATE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE TO VOTE NO ON HOUSE BILL 1133
Many in the black community have fought for reproductive justice — but we’re often left out of the story
Next Saturday there’s a Reproductive Rights Rally taking place at my State’s Capital (Little Rock, Arkansas). I’m trying to see if my church will help send me there to do our “Standing on the Side of Love” thing (Social Justice is a big part of UUism). I’ll try to do a post on it and maybe I’ll see some of you there (I’ll be wearing my Sex Education Army t-shirt). Also, we’re going to be signing petitions to get more comprehensive sex education in Arkansas schools.
If any of you would like to chip in for gas and what not to get me there, click on my donate button!
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?
How Are You Raising Your Voice in 2013?
We’re in the second week of 2013, and during the first days of every year we evaluate what took place last year, and develop resolutions or goals for things we want to get, where we want to be, and experiences we want have. In doing this, we focus mostly on ourselves and how we want some aspect of our lives to change for the better.
And that’s totally great! But how are you raising your voice in 2013?
2012 was one of the worst (if not the worst) years in women’s health. While major wins such as the United States Supreme Court ruling the Affordable Care Act as constitutional and the birth control mandate beginning in August were exciting, 2012 had the second-highest number of abortion restrictions ever made at the state-level. Not only that, health disparities also continue to run rampant in low-income communities and communities of color, and the politicizing of women’s bodies shows no signs of slowing down.
While fighting for women and girls (especially women and girls of color) to have access to the services that can improve their health and lives can oftentimes feel discouraging, we shouldn’t feel undaunted. Let’s make 2013 the year where huge strides are made in sexual and reproductive health. Not only when it comes to reproductive justice, but for women and girls’ mental, spiritual, and emotional wellness.
How do you want to raise your voice for women and girls’ health in 2013? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
So very important! You may be hearing in the news or on tumblr about a lot of people who are being arrested and even dying because they are trying to get medical help during pregnancy or searching for an abortion. This is an issue that has always been present in low-income communities and communities of color (you’re much more likely to survive a pregnancy or find a way to get an abortion if you are white or upper to middle income), but now it’s getting more press as it’s happening to more and more people. We need to fight back and make sure everyone gets the medical treatment they deserve.
The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the recipients of a $5 million federal grant designated for abstinence-only education programs. Although President Obama has opposed funding for abstinence-only programs since the beginning of his time in office, social conservatives in Congress forced a choice during the battle to pass Obama’s landmark health care reform law in 2010: in order to support extending to health coverage to more Americans, Senate Republicans demanded to deprive students of accurate and comprehensive sexual health education.
Despite the fact that abstinence-only curricula are ineffective and, in many cases — when young adults make risky sexual decisions after abstinence education fails to equip them with the resources they need — dangerous, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) used the Senate version of the health care reform bill to restore a lapsed program that provides funding for abstinence programs. President Obama eliminated the Title V Abstinence Education program in his 2010 budget, finally doing away with the steadily increasing federal funding for abstinence programs that ballooned under the George W. Bush administration. But Hatch’s bill, which narrowly squeaked by the Senate Finance Committee, forced the Obama administration to reverse that decision in order to pass health care reform.
And earlier this month, the Title V funds that Hatch insisted on tacking onto Obamacare were distributed to nine organizations that provide “mentoring, counseling and adult supervision to promote abstinence from sexual activity.” Of course, abstinence-only curricula advance those goals while neglecting to impart accurate information about methods to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as failing to include comprehensive discussions about sexuality and the LGBT community.
Although the Obama administration attempted to take a step forward by moving to eliminate Title V funds, social conservatives’ insistence on clinging to a misguided approach to sex education has brought the country right back — ensuring that federal funds will be spread over abstinence programs for the next two years. As the spokesperson for the right-wing National Abstinence Education Association put it, “[Obama administration officials] were specifically tasked by Congress to appropriate these funds for an authentic abstinence education program. So they really had no recourse but to do just that.”
You can look up here how much money is given to a certain state for a certain level of sex education and it’s RIDICULOUS how much federal funds are being spent on abstinence only education that has proven to be ineffective and really doesn’t teach a thing.
It appears the anti-choice folks are becoming increasingly more adept at curbing access to abortion in conservative states by creating strict rules and regulations that make it difficult for clinics to operate. In Virginia last Friday, clinics are now being required to make expensive renovations to their facilities or stop providing abortion services altogether.
In this climate, it sometimes feels like we’re losing ground in our struggle for reproductive justice for everyone. In 2012, we can help but ask ourselves, “how is this even possible?”
Instead of being on the defensive, I wonder in what ways can we be more pro-active about maintaining our rights and even expanding them?