This summer I worked with Professor Carolyn Herbst Lewis and three other students on a research project in which we explored the history of reproductive health care in Chicago. Part of our summer included a trip to Chicago to do archival research on our subjects, and, after a month of poring over secondary research, I… Read more →
by Rachel Epp Buller
Creative stamp arrangements. Cross-stitched fallopian tubes. Knitted uteri. This summer’s social media circulation gave witness to all manner of artsy protests surrounding reproductive rights. Practitioners of this sort often call themselves “craftivists,” a portmanteau that makes clear the use of craft for activist ends. (“Lactivism” indicates a similar word blend, regarding activists who mobilize around issues of lactation.) Guerrilla knitting, yarn bombing, yarn storming, and granny graffiti are all terms in the craftivist lingo (some lovely examples of which can be seen here). To get their message out, craftivists often work in public spaces – sometimes in a guerrilla, dead-of-night manner – and their colorful, even fanciful creations can provide a non-threatening point of entry for public discussion of serious issues. In July and August this year, craftivists made sneaky appearances at Hobby Lobby stores around the U.S. to leave art-based messages for the retail giant as well as for their fellow crafters.
By Jacqueline Antonovich
Things have been pretty hectic lately for the folks who work and study in Lane Hall, the small, historic building at the far end of University of Michigan’s central campus. Over the past two months the building that houses the Women’s Studies Department and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) has been the target of anti-choice protesters. Lane Hall has been peppered with anti-choice leaflets, the main entry steps have been vandalized with chalk, and protesters have picketed the sidewalks in front of the building. Staff in Lane Hall have also been fielding phone calls from angry activists, alumni, and others. As Debra M. Schwartz, senior public relations representative for IRWG told me recently, “Some of us in Lane Hall and a few other university offices have been distracted from our routine work. But, in general, the protest has scarcely been noticed on campus. It feels like a tempest in a teapot.”
When I criticized Hobby Lobby for its attempts to evade the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, a friend of mine thoughtfully replied, “Lara, I don’t think the Hobby Lobby case has anything to do with the daily birth control pill — it is only dealing with not wanting to cover drugs and medical devices that actually “end”… Read more →
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.
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.”
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?
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.
Oh, Michigan…you just couldn’t let Wisconsin soak in the limelight of conservatism for too long, could you? I know there is a whole Badger/Wolverine rivalry, but honestly, you could have at least given the Dairy State one full day of being “King of the Crazy” before trying to snatch the crown away. n a move that will surely place The Mitten State squarely in the middle of the War on Women, the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the Michigan House is considering passing a controversial set of bills designed to restrict and regulate abortion practices.
Like many graduate students, I obsess about my particular academic interests and have a hard time letting them go at the end of the day. I happen to study the history of women and medicine in the United States, so I see my specialization everywhere, often to the dismay of my friends and family. I interrupt movies to point out inaccuracies and anachronisms, and I offer unsolicited historical commentary about the depictions of women on Mad Men. I lecture people about the stupidity of 1950s nostalgia, and I get angry about advertisements for Dr. Pepper. I am, in short, lots of fun at parties.