Tag Archives: food politics

So you want to be “pro-life”

20 Feb

Do you?

I need to throw this disclaimer out there to anyone who is reading this: I am so, incredibly, totally pissed.

When I was in high school, my friends and I decided to do a history fair project on Roe v. Wade. Up until that day, I had very specific beliefs about abortion. I was a practicing Methodist who was very involved in the church, and that had a lot to do with it. Plus, I was a little self-righteous middle class white teenage girl who thought she knew absolutely everything. I believed that abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity, because I honestly believed that you should only have sex if you were ready to deal with the consequences. Obviously, I didn’t get out much. Then we went and interviewed Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade, and my entire perspective on abortion changed.

The truth, that I did not honestly know, is that before abortion was legal, women got abortions anyways. And they didn’t always survive. The OB/GYNs and the emergency room physicians told Weddington that women showed up at hospitals every day infected, hurting, and dying from illegal abortions. Some illegal abortion providers sexually assaulted the women they came to help. Some women took pills full of toxic chemicals, or shoved knitting needles and hangars up their vaginas in order to end their pregnancies. Some women, like a girl named Sophie that Sarah told us about, were able to procure safe illegal abortions, but then, because those providing them were not always trained doctors, were given false and misleading aftercare information that led to infections and, in Sophie’s case, death. After learning the lengths that women would go to, even my relatively conservative Christian morals could not stand in the way of my concern for women’s lives.

Now, my opinions have changed. I do not believe that anyone should be denied the right to any family planning services, including abortion. I am a self-identifying sex positive pro-choice feminist, and I would not have it any other way. I don’t think sex is just for procreation. If it was, relationships, and life, would be much less fun. Also, I don’t believe that abortion has to be a life-altering decision, or one that is emotionally devastating. I validate and affirm all experiences of women who have abortions, and I have no expectations of how they will or should feel. It is their own personal decision, and that is how it should stay.

Since the conservative Republican majority has taken over, there have been multiple assaults at state and national levels against women’s rights to choose. Of course, these assaults, especially the recent vote in the house to defund Title X and, therefore, Planned Parenthood, are not only on abortion services. It is a valid point to bring up the plethora of other services that Planned Parenthood provides in cities across the country to the poorer citizens in those communities. These include HIV testing, breast cancer screenings, and annual pap smears, to name only a small few. You can check out the Planned Parenthood website for more information on the wide variety of reproductive health services they provide.

But, you know what? There is a reason that none of the republicans are standing up in Congress saying, “We don’t want to fund breast cancer screenings!” You want to know why? Because this is not about all of those other services. This is specifically about abortion. So I’m taking them to the mat. I refuse to tip toe around this issue. I believe it is my right to have access to safe and legal abortions and to have health insurance that allows me to pay for them, whether that is private or state funded. I don’t care if you are Catholic or some other form of conservative and you think that this little sack of cells is more important than my life and my decisions. I simply don’t care. I will not force you to abort your fetus or to take birth control if those don’t fit into your life plans, so why do you feel that you have the right to make those decisions for my life? The thing is, you don’t. And for far too long we have been too afraid of the controversy to come out and say these kinds of things. We have hidden behind things like Obama’s statment, “No-one is pro-abortion,” and arguments that shy away from coming face to face with the anti-choice rhetoric that focuses on the rights of the fetus. So here I am, telling all of you anti-choicers out there, I am pro-abortion. I am pro women having access to every level of family planning that allows them to live their lives as they see fit. Further, I believe that women have the capacity to make that choice. Yes, all women. I am not going to take back that statement. For too long we have let things like 24 hour waiting policies and mandatory sonograms slide because we are afraid of the public reaction to our views. I am not afraid anymore. I can see that the writing is, in fact, on the wall and that they anti-life people have left behind any attempts they ever made to be objective. If they aren’t being objective, why do I have to be? Your policies don’t have anything to do with protecting women. As a matter of fact, they put women at risk. By limiting the funding available for places like Planned Parenthood and the ability of women with health insurance through the government to have their abortions covered, the women who are most directly impacted are already poor. Do you really think the best idea is to force, through your legislation that implies that you do not trust women’s abilities to make this decision, these women to have an even greater financial burden? Why is a fetus so much more important than a child? I don’t see you rushing out to implement national child care. As soon as that fetus hits air and becomes a living, breathing, being, your lobbying no longer protects her. The idea of a 24 hour waiting period is offensive and preposterous. Are you implying that the woman making this decision didn’t already spend 24 hours thinking about this decision? Further, you assume that all women have the ability to take 24 hours after getting to a clinic to wait to have an abortion. Again, this puts the burden on poor women and women in rural areas; two realities that all too often coincide.

I respect your right to make decisions regarding your own body, but my respect stops there.

When I called my father on Friday in a tizzy because the House had just passed the bill to defund Title X, he told me that it was “just politics” and that people had “voted for these representatives.” This was infuriating for multiple reasons. I did not vote for any of these people, which was the first. Second, this is not just politics. None of this is “just politics.” Politics are never “just politics.” I also had this feeling that I could not articulate at the time, that if he had a uterus, he would not have been telling me to calm down. “Entitlement programs,” he told me, “are always the first to go.” Maybe that is the recent historical reality, but that doesn’t mean I have to let it happen without a fight.

I am throwing down the gauntlet and pointing the blame at everyone who voted in this conservative House. Hopefully the Senate will stop this bill. I already called the offices of both of my senators and have their aids a piece of my mind. But, just because the bill stops doesn’t mean the fight is over. This passing in the House should be a wake-up call to everyone who has been blissfully unaware of the precarity of our rights to reproductive justice in this country. It isn’t time to sit back and watch politics play out, like my father suggested. It’s time to take notice and demand that the voices of a few self-righteous fundamentalist Christians aren’t the only ones being heard.

Be on the lookout for deeper policy analysis coming out of this blog in the next few weeks.

There is a rally in NYC at Foley Square on the 26th of February in support of Planned Parenthood and against all of this ridiculous anti-choice legislation. It is from 1-3. You should be there.



The UN, Veganism, and trippy movies you thought you liked as a kid.

1 Oct

Why, hello.

[insert come hither stare.]

Yesterday when I promised to explain how the UN and veganism were connected I had this totally unrealistic expectation that I would have had time to read my new book by now. False. I’m currently reading The Kind Diet . A friend of mine mentioned that she read it and decided to go vegan, and because I really want to guilt myself into not being able to eat smothered pork chops or baked brie I asked if I could borrow it. But seriously. If you read any reports, including this one from the UN, (or a summed up version from the guardian) you will find that the way we eat is really, really bad for us. Huge disclaimer: though I think little fluffy chicks and bunnies are cute, I still think they are delicious and do not really associate any guilt with that deliciousness. However, I’m pretty down for reducing my carbon footprint through a lower consumption of meat and dairy. Did you know that a full fifth of the carbon emissions the US produces come from the meat industry? Isn’t that insane? I learned this tidbit from Mark Bittman, who wrote Food Matters. Also in Food Matters, I learned that the original food pyramid was basically bull shit that was paid for by big food industry lobbyists. I don’t know about you, but that kind of stuff makes activist me incredibly pissed off. When I decided to try to go one day without meat and realized I had no idea how to make lunch or dinner without it, I felt brainwashed. Since then, I’ve been flirting with a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and I think this book is just another step in that direction. It is hard, though, to imagine my life as a veggie anything. Thanksgiving? Christmas? Easter? Birthdays? Fourth of July? Mother’s Day? Father’s Day? Memorial Day? Saturday? Being a southerner, I find it hard to picture myself still belonging to my family and not being an omnivore. We shall see, though. There are all kinds of options for incorporating these ideas into any diet. I will also keep you posted on The Kind Diet and how it is as a book in general.

In other news, do you remember this really freaking creepy movie that you probably watched as a child and thought “Holy shitballs, what the hell are they doing with that crystal?!” Yes. I am talking about The Dark Crystal. Probably one of the scariest and creepiest children’s films ever made (why thank you, Jim Henson, for my complete fear of…everything.) If you need a refresher, check out this scene on youtube.  Or, if you’re pretty sure that scared feeling in your stomach is from repressed memories of this damn movie and you want to check without upsetting your inner child, the trailer is a nice, misleadingly un-horrific way to jog your memory.  If you are sitting there reading this and wondering, why is she doing this? Why are we going here? It’s because today I had this urge to watch some harry potter (since I couldn’t bring my set of books with me when I moved) and found that none of the movies are streaming on netflix. Neither, I might add, is The Pebble and The Penguin, which was my second choice. I then started browsing the children’s movies sections, because by that point I was just in the mood for something happy that I could count on. That is when it happened. I saw The Dark Crystal right next to Labyrinth under the heading “Children-Adventures.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any child needs to see Bowie’s package so up close. Labyrinth is, of course, no Dark Crystal, but it still begged the question, what is up with all of these really creepy children’s movies? Think about it. How many children’s movies have you seen recently and thought “How could I possibly have a positive memory from this movie?” and then there are the movies that, even as a child, you knew were just plain wrong. Consider James and the Giant Peach. If you are like me, you will just remember some fun claymation insects and glowing worms. I somehow managed to block that viscious shark of death and the two masochistic aunts. I guess in some ways those kinds of kids movies are preferable to the sugary-sweet children’s movies of today. Those movies at least acknowledge that even as children we have an awareness that life isn’t all sunshine and daisies, and creepy children’s movies like the ones mentioned above respect the morbid in children. But still. I could have gone my whole life without that Dark Crystal, but then I wouldn’t have understood all the awesome jokes in the Robot Chicken parody, Dark Cristal.

I’m going to go sit around and hum.

Make that money, don’t let that money make you.