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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Gender Roles

This is a small list of preconceived notions of what a woman is/does and what a man is/does. Then, it’s a small list of how to go out of your way to break the mold. Enjoy.

Wears makeup
Wears frilly clothing
Attracted to neon/bright things
Plays with dolls at young age
Mood swings (PMSing)
Nonassertive, nonagressive
Peacekeeper, socialite
Have a natural maternal instinct
Gush over infants
Views pregnancy as a blessing

Aggressive, assertive, competitive
Likes porn
Plays poker
Smokes cigars
Sleeps around
Fanatic about sports/athletics
Drinks lots of beer
Likes cars/working on them
Expected to be employed (ideally with a high paying job)

Break the Mold:
Rarely, if ever, wears make up
Childfree/Hates kids or infants
Plays with GI Joe’s or race cars at a young age
Wears men’s basketball shirts/baggy t shirts
Seeking to accomplish goals verses seeking a husband or significant other
Drinks. Lots. And not just fruity shit.
Surfs rather than sunbaths.
Wears skate shoes verses high heels

Wears make up
Cleans the house and cooks
Hates porn because it objectifies women but supports sex workers
Respects condoms/birth control/women
Hates sports
Doesn’t drink or if he does, drinks fruity shit
Fearful (of things like spiders, etc)
Likes small dogs and/or cats
Likes Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, or Nicki Minaj
Talks openly about his feelings

Stay tuned to the #AbortionChat tomorrow (9:00pm EST) to find out what typically happens when the mold is broken.

~JA and LS

Forming an Opinion by Jeremy Allen

We got a lot of Honks for Choice

Until recently I’d intentionally veered clear of the abortion debate due to the extremeness of demonstrations on either side of the confrontational topic. What most caught my attention in the past were those infuriating images of dead fetus’ that so-called “ProLife” demonstrators held outside of Planned Parenthood clinics.

Between these and the Christian terrorists, I’d conceded that such a topic wasn’t worth fighting over. I hadn’t even considered the legitimacy of the arguments, and believed that as a man, it isn’t my place to get involved. This, and the highly discouraging language of my parents (they didn’t want to talk about abortion practices) prevented me from forming a solid opinion.

Today, my view point has changed. After attending one such demonstration and speaking with people close to me about their abortion experiences it seems simple and rational understanding that every situation is different, and in instances of rape, incest, or when a to-be mother is unfit or incapable of caring for a child, abortion should most definitely be allowed, without question.

If a woman can, with a clear conscience, abort her own fetus, perhaps she isn’t prepared to raise a child yet, anyway. Now I don’t suppose myself to be highly knowledgeable on the subject, but it seems that the person who understands their situation best is the individual choosing.

Under a few circumstances this line of reasoning could certainly be challenged, however nothing can justify the guilt inculcated by protesters screaming, “Child killer.”

Regardless of my viewpoint, change is thick in the air, and the war rages on.

Jeremy Allen is a graduate of Green Mountain College and a part time hippie. He studied business, and enjoys social activism, as well as making tea. He’s one of those people who thinks, long and hard, before he opens his mouth.

In his spare time, he can be found wandering around Maine, trying to start conversations with people.

Abortion with Sedation by Lynne Schmidt

This is a chapter from my memoir about my personal abortion experience.

We arrive at Virginia Beach way early. The protesters are already out. It’s not even yet. To kill time, we stop at Shoney’s so she can have coffee and I can have water.

When we deem it is time to go, we drive to the clinic and park. I take a deep breath, take my bag and exit the car. As we walk, I hear someone yelling, I know it is one of the protesters but I assumed they are either talking to each other over the traffic, or yelling to the traffic.
Instead, when my friend puts her arm around me, I realize, They’re yelling to me. At me?
“We know you’re scared but you don’t have to do this!” a woman’s voice calls out. I hear this for a long while after this moment. She has no idea what fear is, she has no idea that I have to do this.
“Just ignore them, Sweety,” my friend assures. Under the safety of her arm, I push the button on the outside of the building. This time, when they ask for my name and appointment, I’m prepared.
They unlock the door. “Go to the room to the right,” the woman had told me. We step in, protesters still calling from behind. There are three rooms. I can’t remember which way is right, and I’m terrified of missing my appointment and being forced to stay pregnant.
“This way,” my friend says taking the lead of the lost little girl in front of her.
When we get to the door, I can’t figure out the lock on the handle. She has to open the door for me. Slowly, uneasily, I make my way to the check-in window. Keep going. You’re okay. You can do this.

“Check-in, please,” the woman behind the glass tells me.
I write my name:
Stephanie Schmidt
Arrival Time:
Appointment Time:
I look at my name in blank ink on the lines of the paper. My name. For an appointment to have an abortion. Me. My name. Proof that I am here, right now.
“Do you have your envelope?” the woman asks, breaking me out of my horrified trance.
I hand the woman my information and ID.
“Your total is $255,” she tells me. I get out the money I got at the ATM wondering how much of this bullshit he’ll actually help with.
She hands me back five dollars. “Take a seat, they’ll call you shortly.”
As I’m sitting, I see another girl walk in with black sweatpants. She has, who I assume is, her boyfriend with her. It’s suddenly hard to breathe. I can’t look at her because she’s so much like me right now.
My friend puts her arm around my shoulders and says reassuring things. I again consider suicide as a viable alternative. I think about just asking to leave, and finding the razor blade in the bathroom and slitting my arteries. The one in my neck would cause me to bleed out in seconds.

Before I’m able to think further, the door opens. The woman with the chart looks right at me. “Stephanie?”
This isn’t a knee doctor appointment. For the first time in my life, I’m ashamed to hear my name.
I rise, unable to shake the chill that’s swallowed me. It hasn’t even been ten minutes of me sitting. The song Brick by Ben Folds Five runs through my head, “They call her name at ,” only in my life it’s . But he was right, I am alone.
I follow her and she tells me to, “Empty your bladder.”
I don’t tell her how much water I just drank at Shoney’s.
The bathroom is stark white and much too big to make me feel comfortable. I lock the door, then pee and wash my hands.
For the last time I look in the mirror. I turn to the side and see the slight bulge that no one else but me, the girl who’s spent hours staring at herself in the mirror thinking she’s too fat, would notice. It shouldn’t be there. It’s what I’m here to get rid of. My eyes feel raw as they tear up again.
I’m sorry, God. I’m sorry body, stomach for what I’m about to do. I’m sorry, Baby. I pull my shirt down, I step out of the bathroom.
When I come out, she motions to a chair and takes my pulse and blood pressure. Like a robot she hands me a cup with a horse-sized pill in it, “800 milligrams of ibuprofen to help with the cramping after the abortion,” she tells me in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.
How old are you? I wonder as I swallow the pill with some water. How did you decide to work at Planned Parenthood? What is the hardest part of your job?

She sticks my finger to test if I’m anemic (I’m not) or RH Negative (I’m positive). I could have told her all of these things.
What do you think of me?
She leaves the room to run the blood samples and while she tests, I sit and roll my finger over my lip and try not to cry. If I cry, will they still give me the abortion?Or worse, if I cry, will they refuse to sedate me?
She comes back. “Are you okay?”
I’m not. My hands are freezing, it’s too cold. I’m pregnant, I’m terrified. He isn’t here, my mom doesn’t know I’m here. One of my sisters doesn’t even know I’m here. I have to work tomorrow. Am I even going to be okay enough to work tomorrow? Deep breaths, Steph. Keep going.

“I’m fine,” I say. She leads me to another waiting area. There is a book on the table that says “Tell Us You Story” and the writer in me wants to add the missing R. Tell Us YouR Story.
I flip through the pages and read a couple entries. They’re written in beautiful bubble script, stories of girls who have been through the same thing as me. Girls who some day admit in these pages that they want to have children and that Planned Parenthood was the best thing for them. These are the stories I tried to find online.
I put the book down. How will I feel? Will I regret my decision? Will I someday thank Planned Parenthood?
I don’t know and the uncertainty is ripping me apart. I try not to cry. I try not to imagine what’s going to happen. Why am I not sedated yet?
Down the hall, the girl with black pants who came in after me is told to empty her bladder, to take the pill that’s supposed to help with cramping. Then she is lead to the chair beside me. I’m reminded how business like this process is. They probably see a hundred girls a day. I don’t matter to them. My baby doesn’t matter to them.
Then again, my baby doesn’t matter to me either, right?
Beside me, the girl picks up the story book, flips through, puts it down. We sit. Men In Black is playing over the radio. I make a comment. She laughs.
“I wish it were Madonna playing,” I tell her. But then she has Papa Don’t Preachand I’m not keeping my baby. She has Like a Virgin and I never want to be touched again. He was playing Madonna when I got in the car. He’s not here now. I take a deep shaky breath.
As if on cue, Borderlinecomes on and we laugh.
She admits that this isn’t her first abortion, that she’d be afraid of sedation, that she already has three kids. Wow, I think. You should take better birth control.

In a split second, I realize, I am in no position to judge.
Soon, I’m lead back to another room and the girl and I wish each other luck.
“Undress from the waist down. Put your clothes and bag there,” the nurse tells me. “You can cover yourself with a drape.” She exits quickly.
Why aren’t you here to hold my hand again?

I look at the exam table, it’s the same sort of drape that covered me during my first clinic visit. I expected a hospital gown this time, or something that signifies how traumatic this ordeal is. My manager had called it life threatening surgery, yet…I’m in a drape that refuses to cover up my ass crack.
As I look around the room, it looks like someone’s living room made into a surgery lab. I wonder if this is a legitimate abortion clinic or if it’s one of those horror stories you hear about on TV. Are those protesters outside are actually collected pregnant, desperate girls, and torturing them so they learn their lesson?
Panic, real cold, breath stealing panic sets in. I haven’t stopped shaking since Shoney’s and my hands still haven’t warmed up. I take a deep breath and allow myself to fall out of the safety of my pants. I scurry to the exam table wondering again, Why aren’t you holding my hand? I can’t breathe, think. I keep telling myself to just keep going.
I’m about to have an abortion.
Keep going.

The floor around the table has blood spots from girls before me. I wonder if this is actually a sanitary area, or if I’m going to end up like that girl in Dirty Dancing. This is all just one big horror scene, isn’t it? I try not to look at the stains, but there’s nowhere else to look.
A nurse comes in. “You doing okay?”
“Define okay,” I answer. Will they still sedate me if I panic? Why am I not sedated yet?
“Nervous?” she asks.
I vacantly nod.
“Do you have any questions?”
“Actually, yes. I read on the forms that the tissue can be donated. I was wondering if I can do that, so it’s not a complete waste.”
“They didn’t tell you?” she asks suddenly standing still, making sympathetic eye contact with me.
I shake my head, confused.
Her face looks sad for a second. “That surgeon is only here on certain days, not Fridays. You won’t be able to donate it. You came on the wrong day.”
“Oh,” I say while my heart sinks. Don’t cry, you’re okay. Keep going. I don’t tell her how many times I’d asked the pissy nurse about the donation, or how they were the ones to set up my appointment for this day even after I’d asked, several times, about donating. I got pregnant, and now everything is going to be wasted, and killed because I was irresponsible. This is my fault. I hate myself. I hate myself so fucking much. I deserve this.
Silence falls in the room. Can I reschedule for next week? Maybe then he’ll be able to come.

If I leave now, I’m not coming back. Things won’t change. Even with a different date, he won’t come.

If I leave pregnant, I’ll kill myself.
Keep going.

“Thank you, though,” the woman offers.
The next nurse comes in and brings my pants to me, which contain my iPod. Then the doctor comes, a male, not a female, and I die inside a bit. He greets me, asks how I am. The first nurse says nervous while the second places my bare legs so that the world can see inside me. I stare at the ceiling to avoid focusing on the fact that the drape isn’t even covering me anymore. I again consider suicide. I could just pull the cap off the IV, bleed out…
The doctor’s fingers are inside me. He didn’t even warn me. Oh God, oh, God. Fuck, fuck, fuck. My stomach rolls into my throat, into my mouth. Stop touching me, stop touching me! I try to act like I’m not freaking out, like time isn’t spinning so fast I think my head will fall off. I feel nauseous, not just because of the pregnancy anymore.
Keep going.

“Nervous,” he reiterates as he removes himself. “We can help with that.”
The second nurse pushes play on my iPod, rests it near my head. The doctor injects stuff into my IV. It takes less than five seconds before I feel it. The ceiling takes on a heart beat, waves and cascades in and out.
And then I’m in darkness.
In the dark, like I’m rising to the surface from a black out, it hurts for a second, like my insides are being torn out of me. Oh God, they’re ripping the pregnancy away from me. I can feel this.

Whatever. You deserve it.

Rip, rip, rip.

When I’m present again, I’m trying to help the nurse get me into my pants, and then I’m in darkness again. Sometime between the darkness and seeing light again, it’s like I’ve become two different people. Stephanie, the girl who walked into the clinic, and Stephanie, the girl whose pants are on, with a thick pad somehow in my underwear. There is the residual voice (the Stephanie in pants) that continues to say, Keep going, and the old voice that still says, You can still kill yourself. One voice struggles to keep me alive, to keep me going. I recognize the voice from my Alanon meetings, the one that says slogans like One day at a time, and Let go and let God. The other is the voice my parents instilled in me.

There are girls sitting on lazy-boy chairs like an abortion mill. I join them, scared I’m the only one losing consciousness because I’m the only one that’s a coward and chose to be sedated. Thankfully, I’m still too tired to care.
I’m woken up and offered something to drink. I choose Ginger Ale like I do every time I’m on an airplane. They hand me my cup and a bag full of papers and pills. Antibiotics, so I don’t die from this shit, my poor life decisions.
Though I’m safe inside the haze of residual sedation, and the confines of the walls, I know just outside the doors there are protesters. I also know that in 2009, George Tiller, an abortion doctor, was shot and killed as he walked into church. I also know that there have been bombings and fires in other Planned Parenthood clinics. While I sit in my Lazy-Boy chair, I wonder, is someone going to blow this building up?
“You deal with the protesters every day?” a girl asks.
A nurse nods her head while handing a drink to another girl in a large comfortable chair.
“Aren’t you afraid of working here?” someone, possibly me, asks.
“Sometimes. Sometimes they can be really mean,” one nurse states. Another also says she’s sometimes afraid to come to work. The girls and I continue to talk: mainly about the protesters.
I’m amazed and humbled by the fact that they’re still here, taking care of girls and women like me, potentially afraid for her life.
One by one the nurses have us all pee and change our bloody pad. When we emerge, we’re asked to gauge how bloody it was and say it out loud like show and tell.
All of us seem like we’re fine, like we’re not bleeding out too badly, though there’s still time for that to change.
Shortly after, they match us up with our rides and I’m again reminded that it’s my friend and not him driving me home. Keep going, you’re okay. They have us leave out of the room with the comfortable chairs, the back exit. At least you have someone, anyone here.
As I rise to leave, still slightly high off the sedation, I miscalculate the way I’m walking and manage to knock over a box of Kleenex. I realize that those are there, because it’s okay to cry after the surgery, to grieve the loss of life.
I start to bend to pick the box up, and a nurse runs to me, “Don’t worry, we got it.”
I thank her, apologize, and continue my walk of shame.
I’m still wobbly and as my friend pulls her vehicle forward, we see that the protesters have gathered in numbers. Hatred runs through my bones for them. Sometimes it’s the best option! Sometimes we get left alone! I want to make them understand that those girls inside that room are not monsters, that I’m not a monster.
I imagine what I’d say to them, We’re young, and you’re right, we are terrified. We may end up regretting our decision, but it was our decision to make. For whatever the reasons, we made this decision. We have to deal with the consequences, you don’t. Stop judging us because for some of us, this was the only option!
“Are you hungry?” my friend asks breaking up my thoughts.
I’ve only had candy to eat this morning. “I think so,” I tell her. I’ve still only been able to eat roman noodles at home, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to eat anything right now.
We make our way back to Shoney’s and I move slowly, now because I’m terrified to move too quickly. My stomach is cramping like I’m being serrated with butcher knives from the inside out, and it hurts.
The mean unsupportive voice tells me, You deserve this.
We eat and talk. She makes me laugh and each time my abs contract, the knives twist and slice. Though I wanted to take her out for lunch, since she won’t even let me pay for the gas to get here, she refuses, and pays for our meals. I thank her and she gives me her keys to I don’t have to stand long.
She drives, we get lost. I sleep. We make it back to the parking lot we met up in this morning. “Do you need anything else?”
Though I need more liquids, food, a thermometer to make sure I don’t run a fever, I don’t tell her this, she’s done enough. I expect him to call, to ask if I need anything, and then I’ll get these things that I need. “No, I’ll be fine.”
“Do you want to rest on my couch?” she offers.
“No, I need to get home to Baxter,” I tell her.

            She nods, an animal lover herself, and hugs me before I exit. I hug her goodbye and tell her I’ll be fine. 

Lynne Schmidt is the Real People columnist for the Advertiser Democrat, and a memoir and young adult author. Her work has appeared in Zephyr and Authors of Tomorrow.
She lives in Maine with her dogs Baxter and Kyla.
You can find her on her personal blog or twitter.

Things To Be Aware Of

If you’ve lived on the planet, by now you’ve heard of Wendy Davis’s bravery regarding her filibuster. But maybe you haven’t heard about what’s happening in other states.

Right now, states like Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and many other states are under fire.

What can you do to help?

If you live in these states, GET INVOLVED. Let your legislatures know that you WILL NOT stand for your rights being taken away. Go to the hearings. Tell your friends. Get people involved. Many states are trying to sweep this under the rug. Why? Because they know their people will get pissed. Tell people. Let them stand for their rights.

If you’re not in these states? Send support. At the filibuster, people were donating pizzas to the people. Tweet about it. Talk to your friends about it.

One thing at this point is certain. The anti abortion bills are coming for us.

Are you prepared?