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Posts from the ‘Abortion’ Category

Misunderstanding Miscarriage

By Lara Freidenfelds

Miscarriage rarely makes the news, except in tabloids. But last year, Virginia state Senator Mark Obenshain’s ill-advised attempt to require Virginia women to report all miscarriages to the police contributed to his failure to become Virginia’s state attorney general. The bill, introduced in 2009, haunted his race for the position. Obenshain was trying to demonstrate his moral outrage over the case of a frightened teenager who had given birth to a premature stillborn baby, and disposed of it in a dumpster. It was a tragic case, to all observers. But instead of asking how his state could better provide sex education and contraception, or provide support to teens who get pregnant, he wrote a bill aimed at surveillance and punishment. On penalty of up to a year in prison, women would be required to report all incidences of fetal demise occurring outside a physician’s supervision to the police. They were to report the pregnant woman’s name and the location of the remains, and would not be allowed to dispose of them without police supervision.

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The Pain of Choice: Late Term Abortion and Catastrophic Fetal Diagnoses

By Ginny Engholm

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in both the political sphere and the blogosphere about the magic twentieth week of pregnancy. For some women, blissfully unaware of the fragility of modern pregnancy, it’s the date at which they find out if they should paint the nursery pink or blue. It’s the date that they schedule the “gender-reveal” party. It’s the date at which the baby goes from being an “it” to a “he” or “she.” For others, it is the thin red line of the abortion debate, the indisputable moment of personhood, the fractious moment where anti-abortion advocates can say, “Aha! It’s really a person after all. You couldn’t possibly think that having an abortion is okay now, could you?”, the moment at which so-called late-term abortion becomes unthinkable for a large majority of the public. For some unlucky women, women like me and like Phoebe Day Danziger, it’s both.

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My Miscarriage (Is Not Your Miscarriage)

By Carrie Pitzulo

Recently, Marjorie Ingall, writing for the Tablet, discusses the complicated – but sometimes very simple – feelings women have about their abortions or miscarriages. In “My Abortion, My Miscarriage, and My Right To Have My Own Feelings,” Ingall presents a sensitive, levelheaded rendering of her own spectrum of reproductive experiences. She describes the relief she felt at terminating a pregnancy in her youth, and the overwhelming sadness she felt at a later miscarriage, before having two healthy children. Ingall points out the lack of cultural acceptance of women’s wide variety of feelings about their own lives: “No matter what we feel—sadness at a miscarriage, relief at an abortion—women are told their feelings aren’t legitimate. Someone—a politician, a friend, a member of the clergy—invariably tells us to buck up if we’re devastated by the loss of a wanted pregnancy, and/or to hate ourselves if we’re not devastated to end an unwanted one.”

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Wendy Davis Filibuster Shows You Don’t Mess with Texas Feminists

By Heather Munro Prescott

Periodically, we Yankees need a reminder that the term "southern feminist" is not an oxymoron. This past summer, we received an especially vivid one: Senator Wendy Davis's epic filibuster of SB-5, which sought to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, to regulate first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers, and to restrict access to medication abortions.

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What We Can Learn From Republican Men

By Carrie Adkins
Listen up, people: Republican men have had A LOT to teach us this week about sexuality, reproduction, and abortion. For one thing, you can all breathe a deep sigh of relief about the possibility of rape leading to pregnancy; apparently, that happens only very rarely, so really, we should probably just overturn Roe v. Wade. Oh, and in case you need a second reason to ban abortion, here’s one: male fetuses masturbate! Also, not to be homophobic or anything, but it seems that gay people are likely to show up at work wearing tutus. Now what would you have done without all of this edifying information? You’re welcome.

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One Year of Making the Personal Historical

By Carrie Adkins
In 2009, the historian Jill Lepore told an interviewer that “as an obsessive reader of newspapers and watcher of news,” she was struck by “how impoverished our historical perspective is on most contemporary problems.” She was absolutely right. In 2012, as we, the co-founders of Nursing Clio, began to conceptualize our project, the news was making me want to lose my mind. Every day, I watched as Republicans proposed – and sometimes passed – new bills that limited access to safe and affordable abortion. And, to my horror, they didn’t stop there but instead started attacking contraception as well. Lawmakers worked to eliminate insurance coverage for birth control; Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a “slut” because she opposed those measures; and the presidential candidate Rick Santorum went so far as to state that contraception itself was “not okay.” Watching these developments, I went from bemused to angry to downright scared. We were supposed to be living in the twenty-first century! What on earth was happening here?

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North Dakota: Where Freedom Blooms on the Hills and Prairies (But Not in Your Uterus)

North Dakota has become a very dangerous place for women. On Tuesday Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-abortion measures into law. The first, HB 1305, bans abortions performed because of genetic abnormalities or for the purpose of gender selection; the second, HB 1456, bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; and the third, SB 2305, requires any physician performing an abortion to have admitting and staff privileges at a local hospital. Individually, each of these bills makes it much more difficult to secure a safe and legal abortion in North Dakota, effectively policing patients’ reasons for electing an abortion, shortening the legal time period for seeking that abortion (fetal heartbeats can sometimes be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy), and limiting the number of qualified abortion providers in the state. Taken together, they constitute a full-scale assault on the rights secured by Roe v. Wade. I have questions. Who gets to decide whether a woman wants an abortion for acceptable reasons? How will the presence of a fetal heartbeat be determined -- perhaps through a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound? And with a single clinic currently operating as the only safe and legal facility for abortions, doesn't this hospital-privilege requirement effectively eliminate abortion in North Dakota anyway? What are the class implications of making abortion available only to those who can travel out of the state?

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Blog for Choice 2013: Roe at 40 and the Rebranding of Planned Parenthood

By Heather Munro Prescott
Today is NARAL's annual Blog for Choice day, which falls this year on the 40th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. One this day, NARAL invites bloggers and activists to get people to talk about reproductive rights online. By participating in Blog for Choice day, we join NARAL's mission to "let readers and the mainstream media know that a woman's right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected." NARAL's deliberate decision to retain the word "choice" is quite a contrast to Planned Parenthood's commemoration of Roe's 40th anniversary. In advance of this event, Planned Parenthood launched a new campaign, Not in Her Shoes which seeks to move beyond labels in the abortion debate:

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Gender, Medicine, and Horror, Oh My!

By Carrie Adkins
First of all, a disclaimer: in many ways, American Horror Story is not Nursing Clio material. For starters, the show features haunted houses, alien abduction, demonic possession, and an angel of death; it does not, in short, aim for realism or historical accuracy. The first season offered very little content related to Nursing Clio’s focus on gender and medicine in a historical context, and after just a few episodes, I found it uneven and disappointing. There were, at least, some interesting (and purposefully horrifying) highlights – part of the back story involved an unscrupulous 1920s abortionist, and Jessica Lange did an amazing job playing a very, very, very bad mother – but in general, that season quickly lost its scariness and became ridiculous and repetitive. But oh, the second season!

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Motivation for Change in Ireland

By Helen McBride
It’s no surprise that laws concerning family planning have remained within a grey area in Ireland. Following the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar’s death, Amnesty International has called upon Ireland to clean up its act. Halappanavar entered University Hospital, Galway on 21st October due to severe back pain. This back pain was diagnosed as a symptom of a miscarriage, being 17 weeks pregnant at the time. Halappanavar later died on 28th October, the cause being classified as septicaemia. The situation has been explained by Halappanavar’s husband that upon discovering the miscarriage, they repeatedly asked for a medical termination, as Halappanavar was in substantial pain. This request was denied repeatedly over three days. RTE has outlined the timeline of events.

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