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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Protesting Crisis Pregnancy Centers, an Interview

Men and women stand outside of Planned Parenthood establishments holding signs

of bloody fetuses, screaming at women as they walk in to the clinics. When I went in for my abortion, I was screamed at. The woman’s voice haunted me for months. 

So someone suggested, “Why doesn’t anyone protest Crisis Pregnancy Centers?” Thus our protest was born.

The reason we’re doing this is not to persuade women to have abortions. It is simply to persuade the workers at the Crisis Pregnancy Centers to offer valid information to women seeking their assistance, especially when it comes to abortion. 

For today’s article, I interviewed four protesters, Echo (yes, that is actually her name), Jennifer (you met her here), Nicholas, and Damien, before they went to protest. If all goes well, you’ll find out what happened at the protest tomorrow.

What and why are you protesting?
Echo: I am ProChoice because I believe a woman should be able to choose what happens in her own body.
Jennifer: I believe in women’s rights and don’t believe that other people have a say in what goes on in a woman’s body.
Nicholas: I’m mostly protesting because Jen wants to go, and because I’ve never been to a protest before.
Damien: The right to do what you want with your body. The right to be educated in ALL of your options.

Have you protested anything before?
 Echo: Never ever!
Jennifer: I have not, but I’m excited to see what the turn out is!
Nicholas: See previous answer.
Damien: No

What are your expectations?
 Echo: I hope I convert somebody~I’d like to convince people to be ProChoice. It’s better to support a woman if she has a baby, or if she seeks an abortion.
Jennifer: I’m not sure. I don’t know if people will violent, or if they’ll be open to other opinions, etc.
Nicholas: I expect McDonald’s on the way, other than that, I’m not sure what to expect.
Damien: I have no idea…

Do you have any fears?
 Echo: None whatsoever!
Jennifer: I’m afraid I’m going to get shot in the face…seriously…
Nicholas: No
Damien: No

What are you looking forward to?
 Echo: I’d like to know what the other side is like. Will they yell at us?
Jennifer: Other people who feel the same way as me!
Nicholas: I feel like it’ll be fun, like I said, I’ve never been to a protest before.
Damien: Protesting and supporting my girlfriend.

What are your feelings on abortion?
 Echo: I don’t think anything is wrong with it. The woman is mostly affected. It’s her body. Her significant other may be affected, too, but he should be supportive.
Jennifer: I feel like I’m not in to, “Killing the baby.” But if the person isn’t under the right circumstances (there are a lot of situations children shouldn’t be living in)….I think it’s up for the woman to know what is best for her and her fetus.
Nicholas: People should be able to obtain an abortion until it becomes a breathing infant.
Damien: I’m squeamish with late term abortions, but I understand that they’re sometimes necessary.

Honk For Choice
Your Body Your Choice

What does your sign say?
 Echo: I wanted my sign to say, “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator,” but they won’t let me make it. So my sign simply says, “TRUTH”
Jennifer: “Come talk to me!”
Nicholas: I’m not sure I’ll have a sign, but I’ll stand and be supportive with everyone else.
Damien: “Your body, your choice!”

How do you feel about people who protest at Planned Parenthood clinics?
 Echo: I think it’s awful that they judge women based on one decision. Especially when they don’t know the circumstances of the woman walking in.
Jennifer: I think it’s inappropriate. The protesters don’t know what’s going on in that woman’s life.
Nicholas: There area always two sides to things. There will always be extremists, whether they’re right or wrong.
Damien: I think it’s bullsh*t because of the things they say and the disgusting signs of dead babies when women walk in to the clinic. An abortion is a big decision, it’s not like she says, “I can’t wait to get knocked up and have another!”

Do you think you’ll protest anything again?
 Echo: Yes! I want to go to a bunch of them! People need to be more educated about what’s happening in the world!
Jennifer: It depends. I really am afraid of getting hurt. If it’s not as intense as I think it’s going to be, probably.
Nicholas: Maybe, if there is a protest to help legalize marijuana in the state of Maine. Medicinal marijuana is already legal, I feel like there won’t be much more of a step.
Damien: Yes!

Do you think what you’re doing will make it into the paper?
 Echo: I hope so, that’d be cool! There’s a lot of coverage for ProLife in the media, where is the representation for the other side?
Jennifer: No, I think people will just look past what we’re doing.
Nicholas: Probably not, but I don’t know how big these things get.
Damien: If more people join, maybe.

A lot of people refer to abortion as, “Baby killing.” Where do you believe life begins?
 Echo: I think it begins when a woman is 6-7 months pregnant. Though if the life of the woman or child comes in to play, I may still support an abortion IF THAT’S WHAT THE WOMAN WANTS.
Jennifer: I think life begins after birth.
Nicholas: I think life starts when you start breathing. When you’re breathing, you’re alive. When you stop breathing, you’re dead.
Damien: Sometime during the third trimester because the fetus can move and kick. Though in circumstances, I would still support the right to terminate the pregnancy. 

Why I Value Life by Laura Karr

My heart breaks when I hear stories of abortions. It breaks for the precious life that was ended before it ever was given a chance to behold the wonders of this Earth. It breaks for the mother who, through whatever circumstances she must have endured – whether painful or selfish, has chosen to end a life. It breaks for a world whose heart has become so hardened that it feels nothing when it hears these stories.

The 3 “Plus Signs” that changed my life

When I was in high school, I was a very judgmental person. It was not until I grew much older and wiser that I realized that I have no justification for judging others – as I myself am far from perfect. I remember a conversation I had with my best friend one day on the way to a track meet. We were sitting in the back of the bus having our normal conversations about life, boys, running – all the things that were important to us then – when she told me how she read that if you were to get pregnant, you could make yourself abort the baby by using a coat hanger. I was appalled by this suggestion and I told her, in my most judgmental and vindictive voice, that I could never forgive her if she had an abortion. Today, I am still a little horrified. I am horrified that a woman would ever have to feel so desperate that she would risk her very life to end a pregnancy in such a dangerous way. Most of all, though, I am ashamed and discouraged by the arrogance and foolishness that led me to believe that forgiveness was mine to give or withhold.

Today, I believe myself to be a very open-minded and inquisitive individual. When I say I have an open mind, understand this: My mind is not easily changed. Rather, it is like a room with wide open doors. The doors are left open so that ideas can flow into them freely, easily heard and seriously considered. The doors remain open so that ideas that pass serious inspection may remain but ideas that do not carry their own weight with the tests I put them up against can be rejected. When I say that I am open minded, I am not saying that I am easily swayed, but instead, that I am willing to hear the stories, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs of others and give them serious consideration. Because of this, I have, over the past few years, been privileged to be part of many educational conversations with friends and family who pose clear opposition to my own beliefs.

In one such conversation, I was told that until I could imagine a situation in which I

A love letter filled with grace, love and peace – where I gather wisdom

would choose to have an abortion, I could never understand why another woman might. At this moment in time, I cannot imagine a situation where that would be my choice. That being said: I have never been raped. I have never been a victim of incest. I have never been alone and pregnant – scared, depressed, anxious and without anybody to turn to. I have never been carrying a child with a congenital disease that might cause them to die in the womb or, possibly even worse yet, after living a short but very painful life outside the womb. I have never been faced with the possibility of my own death if I were to proceed with a pregnancy, whether through physical complications or emotional ones. I have never faced anything but joyful anticipation of the precious life I was carrying. I do not know what makes a woman choose an abortion. I do not know the pain she may feel before and/or after her decision. I do not know anything about her or her choice. I cannot judge her for the decision she will make.

I value life – all life. I value the life of every woman who has ever stared at that powerful piece of plastic that can change the whole world with a simple plus sign. I value her life whether she has stared at it with joy or with fear, dread, or anger. She is no less important than the child that she is carrying. She is also no more important than the child she is carrying. I value the unborn child.

After carrying three precious lives into this world, I can honestly say that I believe that what is inside a pregnant woman is not a simple “lump of cells,” but a child. Some may say that I am biased in my opinion because I allowed those cells to form into the precious children I hold in my arms. They may be right – but more likely, they are wrong. Each of my children has proven to be very different – both since their birth and during their development before birth. One child would roll, one would kick, and the first one hardly did much of anything at all unless I prompted her by pushing on one side or the other of my belly. They haven’t changed much since then. My son is a wild child – kicking, climbing, and tackling life however he sees fit. My second daughter can hardly sit still, wallowing around the room – on the couch, off the couch, on the chair, back to the floor – whenever we sit down to watch a movie. But my first child – she could sit for what seems like forever just observing clouds or flowers. From long before they took their first breath on their own, I knew them. They were somebody then, and they are somebody now.

I have spent much time thinking about a situation where I might choose an abortion – and I can only come up with one. That one situation is this: I would have to give up faith in my God. This is not because I believe that if I chose an abortion He would turn His back on me. No, it is quite the opposite. In fact, were I to ever choose an abortion, it would have to be because I turned my back on Him. In my faith, I believe that there is nothing too big for my God to handle and there is nothing set in stone that He cannot change. I value life, because my God values life – all life. He values our lives so much that He would die for us, and forgive us for everything we have done. When I said it is not my place to judge or to forgive, that is because I have finally learned that I cannot even touch the extent to which God loves Life. There are those who would claim that they are acting in the name of God when they attack abortion clinics. They are liars. Every life is valuable.

As to the fight for “Women’s Rights” – I do not know what the solution is. I want to live in a world without abortions, but I do not want to live in a world where, out of desperation, women are dying from botched attempts at abortions in their own homes or illegal, back-alley clinics. I do not know what will solve this problem.

Raising our children to scream, “Murderer” in the faces of those who would support abortions will not solve this problem. Maybe the best way to find a solution would be to stop all of the screaming, to sit down as women and start supporting each other. We should be helping each other through the difficult times – through the fears, the anxieties. We should be listening to each other’s stories with open minds. I have been told before, “if you don’t support abortions, then just don’t get one.” While that seems like a valid point, think of it like this: If people had stood by with that same mentality during the years of slavery, there never would have been the abolition. You would not stand by and watch an infant be brutalized, so if you are asking “pro-lifers” to back off and do nothing about abortion – because we believe with all our hearts that a “fetus” is a child – you are asking us to do just that. Often, though, I do not agree with the approaches taken by those who oppose abortion. We become so focused on the life of that child, that we forget how precious the life of its mother is as well. We must find a way to support each other so that abortion, while still a choice (because whether it is legal or illegal, it has always been and always will be an option) is the last option that a woman would ever need to consider.

Laura Karr is the mother of three amazing children. She is an aspiring poet with dreams of writing a novel but has taken a brief hiatus in order to write silly songs and crazy bedtime stories. She considers this to be a time of research as she re-examines life through the eyes of a child, but with the complex understanding of an adult.

She intends to spend the next few years of her life remembering her dreams and working towards them, but putting most of her focus on raising brilliant and loving children who will make a positive impact on their world.

What It’s Like to be ‘Late’ by Jennifer Martin

Photo Credit:
Lynn(e) Schmidt

Sometimes I don’t do the dishes for weeks. I work three days a week to support my never ending car problems. I go without the essentials at times; toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish towels, etc. And occasionally I find myself living off ramen noodles when I run completely out of money. Like most people my age, I have a hard time taking care of myself. My habits are partly to blame, the economy is mostly to blame. My simple life of barely getting by had taken an unplanned turn when I realized I might be feeding my ramen noodles to someone else, someone inside me.

When I realized I was late, I didn’t think much of it.The thought of getting pregnant terrifies me, and truth be told, babies scare me. I avoid them for the most part. I’m not ready at this point in life, to care for another person other than myself. When I hear a baby cry, I try to be as far away from it as possible. When I see a little kid throw a tantrum, I give them candy and toys so they’ll stop making noise. When I see they’re crying, I quickly busy myself to avoid the situation. So, when I realized I was late, these thoughts of my experiments with small children did run through my mind, and I was queasy.

After the sixth or seventh day of the absence of my period, I found myself checking for it frequently. I would be walking through Wal-Mart and see babies around every corner and feel the need to make a quick run to the bathroom to check if I had started. Every little pain I had in my stomach, I’d assume that my period had come at last and run to check in the nearest bathroom, only to be disappointed. I was so desperate for some kind of answer, I broke down a bought a pregnancy test. 

Photo Credit:
Lynn(e) Schmidt

Though they both came back negative, I still wasn’t starting my period. I started to come to the conclusion I was pregnant. Some people would suggest having the child and putting it up for adoption but, honestly, I don’t think this is not an option for me. I’m skinny and my body isn’t set up for the caring of a baby. I don’t eat healthy whatsoever and being pregnant wouldn’t suddenly make money appear for nutritious foods. I searched online to check where the nearest abortion center was located and watched videos of exactly what the procedure was for an abortion.

My friends and boyfriend were supportive of my decision to get an abortion. They understood, like so many people wouldn’t, that I wasn’t ready to support another life other than my own. One of my friends even said she’d hold my hand during my appointment.

Then one day, while I was at work, I felt a sharp pain in my side. I knew this was it. I went to the bathroom and was overjoyed to see what I saw. I was glad not only because I wasn’t pregnant but because I wasn’t in need of an abortion. 
An abortion isn’t something that you look forward to getting done to you. It’s a step that happens when other contraceptive don’t work. It’s something that gets done when a mistake happens, and/or you’re not strong enough to bear a child. Even though abortion is the choice I would have made, I’m glad I didn’t have to. I’m grateful to have open-minded friends and family who would have supported me through my decisions. Not everyone has people like that around them and are forced into a path they’re not ready to take.

Jennifer Martin is a nineteen year old retail associate in Maine. Her friends call her Genevieve, but she’s not sure why. She enjoys pina coladas and occasionally getting caught in the rain. Reading and recycling are little hobbies of hers. 
Jennifer has a cat named Blue who she rescued from a near-death experience (involving a bald eagle and a dirty sock). 
She tries to be open-minded and looks forward to meeting different people because she enjoys talking about anything and everything!

Confessions of a Pro-Life Convert by Alex Ruiz

At the age of one, I was baptized Catholic. At eight, I did confession, took communion, and (by cheating the system—thanks, Mom!) was confirmed Catholic. And nine years later, I privately gave up my faith for a lot of reasons that I won’t delve into here. Intriguingly, though, a few Catholic sensibilities still lingered in my personal morality, the weirdest among these to my non-religious and fellow-liberal compatriots was being Pro-Life.

Look at him…God, he’s so punchable

It was always easy to explain: my cursory knowledge of biology (influenced by a Florida public school education, I now realize, and not my former religion) told me life began at conception, and therefore killing in-utero babies was murder. I didn’t think of exceptions for rape and incest, though could be persuaded when the life of the mother was at stake—after all, logic dictates ensuring one life, rather than risking both. These were the lines within which I smugly watched the world. For the sake of a well-rounded picture, I should mention that at this point, I also insisted on only wearing synthetic leather shoes and belts because murdering cows for anything but food was inhumane and unnatural, that total pacifism in both the international and personal altercations was always and eternally not just the best but onlymorally-sound response, and that Van Halen didn’t suck. You can see what kind of insufferable creature eighteen-year-old me could be.

Then the even-more-unthinkable-than-unthinkable happened: I had a pregnancy faked on me. The faking I didn’t actually figure out until some time later upon a closer inspection of details—we had always used protection, she danced around symptom descriptions, and relayed the details of her “miscarriage” in a way that I later learned would make even an introductory med-school student scream with laughter. What was really important was the moment in which she said to me that she believed herself to be pregnant: faced with the (false) reality of what she was saying, all of the moral and logistical reasoning that I had used to formulate my every view on abortion shattered like so many dreams.

All I wanted was for her to get it taken care of, a truth which I actually kept to myself for the most part—I think there was the sly inclusion of the question to see how she’d react, and (of course) she wouldn’t hear of it. I kept pestering her to take a pregnancy test so that we could know conclusively and start reacting—after a few days, she claimed she had taken one with questionable results and then threw away because she didn’t think I’d care to see it—and a week or two later professed that she’d “lost the baby” (which she was absolutely sure had been the girl I’d always wanted).

Her name is Adelina: Here she is
with her first rattle.

While the entire situation was doubly much ado about nothing, in the aftermath I faced my own hypocrisy towards the abortion option. It’s indelibly easy to posture and stake out a moral claim, especially when it hasn’t applied to one personally. And I won’t insult Pro-Life readers here by stating they only believe as they do because they have yet to encounter these situations, though I know this is a distinct possibility, especially for men. I did it, in my youth and my arrogance, and I was humbled. I sought a new perspective on the issue and eventually arrived at a funny mix: I don’t really think about whether or not life begins at conception—I subscribe to the medical community standard regarding first breath and add the George Carlin addendum of if a fetus is really aperson, we would mourn miscarriages with funerals and couples would say “wehave two children” instead of “two and one on the way” (skip to for the particular citation, but this entire bit actually did a lot to inform my new logic).

Some years later, my best friend and his girlfriend accidentally got pregnant with my goddaughter. At the time, they were under twenty, under-educated, and under-employed. I told them they had my support whatever they decided to do. Despite what I privately believed was their best course of action, she was born in October of 2009.

Alex and Adelina
A couple months ago

Since she was born and I’ve related the story of her circumstances, I’ve been asked why I’m still Pro-Choice, why I didn’t switch back after beholding this beautiful little creature for whom I would give pretty much anything in the world. In truth, I treat it as I do religion: reveling in the discussion and debate, but not pushing anything on anyone unless they ask for my opinion. With Adelina and her parents, I was honest when they asked, and was there for them all the way, even being present in the delivery room. I’m very glad that they made the decision that they did, but having been in that same situation (or thinking that I had been), I know that I could never make that decision for anyone.

So I stand Pro-Choice, a supporter of rights to a safe medical procedure that should be openly available to all women and couples. And it isn’t logic or a traumatic experience that drives me there, at least not alone. It’s plain empathy. I’ve felt the claustrophobia of an unwanted pregnancy and I’ve witnessed the splendor that can come out of it as well. What I take away from both is simply a respect for the situation and an understanding of the difficulty of the decision: either way, all that is needed is some simple support, education, and maybe a little humility.

Alex Ruiz is a freelancer, poet, and fiction writer. He is a graduate of the English and Theater programs at Rollins College, and currently teaches in Orlando, FL. He is at work on his grad school applications, his first novel, and his first half-marathon.

Apart from these exploits, Alex enjoys Irish whiskeys, lifting heavy metal objects, and yelling at 24-hour news channels like they’re sporting events. Please follow him on Twitter @A_X_Ruiz where he’ll be happy to argue with you about way more than just abortion.

Food for Thought, by Allie Rosnato

I love ProChoice Boys
I love ProChoice Girls

As a young girl, I believed abortion was an appropriate solution only if a woman was raped or could potentially die during child birth. All other circumstances I considered invalid. I thought if you were careless enough to have unprotected sex, the consequences fit the crime. This was before I knew and understood bodily autonomy. I can’t remember the exact moment I had a change of heart but I do know that it was acute and it was transformative, hurling me into a passionate desire to fight for women’s reproductive rights.

Last year I volunteered for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our job was to make our presence known by canvasing, getting petition signatures in support of Planned Parenthood, and holding a rally featuring elected officials and Planned Parenthood staff speakers, including president Cecile Richards. Through my work as a volunteer, I encountered people from all walks of life with differing opinions not only on abortion, but Planned Parenthood as well. Thinking back to the many conversations I had, I am amazed at the degree of misconceptions people have about unplanned pregnancies and abortions and the perceived goals and intentions of Planned Parenthood.
Women Are Watching

There are two moments I remember specifically from my work at the DNC. One I found incredibly disheartening and one that’s beauty nearly brought me to tears. I remember marching with other Planned Parenthood volunteers trying to get the word out about the rally we were holding that day. We were a sea of pink passing out flyers, giving directions, and many of us were carrying pink Planned Parenthood Action Fund posters that said “Women are Watching”. On the way to the rally, we passed a group of Pro Life protesters and I’ll never forget the little boy who looked me dead in the face and said, “Murderers!”

My heart sunk. A little boy, no older than 8 years old, just called me a murderer for supporting and raising awareness for an organization I feel is an advocate for what I believe in. Wasn’t he doing the same thing? Fighting for what he believed in? I had no choice but to shake it off and keep moving—keep pushing forward. I didn’t let it stop me.

On a happier note, later on in the midst of a pre-rally chant with all the Planned Parenthood volunteers and our recruited supporters, I was standing next to a man while we were chanting ,“Our body, our choice!” who with one hand cuffed around his mouth and the other balled into a fist thrusting towards the sky started chanting “Their body, their choice!”

I turned to him, eyes watering, and gave him a hug. That moment made up for my experience with the little boy from earlier. It is a moment I will always cherish and remember whenever I feel burnt out, disheartened, or discouraged.

My work with Planned Parenthood helped me further articulate my stance as Pro-Choice and understand  what the pro-choice movement is really all about, and that’s supporting and working towards preventing unwanted pregnancies, reducing abortion, promoting contraception, educating women and the youth, and providing women with the necessary resources to raise healthy, happy children.

Allie Rosnato is a student at the University of North Carolina where she is studying Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She considers herself a Golden Girls enthusiast, an unapologetic feminist, and prefers to take naps as often as possible.

When not in school, Allie resides in the Outer Banks where she kayaks, hang glides  and does her part to spread awareness for women’s rights. You can find her on Twitter HERE.