AbortionChat A place to talk about abortion; why you're for it, why you're against it, firsthand, secondhand, or curiosity. All we ask is that you keep an open mind.

Monthly Archives: July 2014

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An Interview with Emily Robinson

 A little over a week ago, I got to sit down with 15 year old, Emily Robinson, who may have a small addiction to whip cream, cinnamon, and music. Emily will be a sophomore in high school in the Fall, and never misses an opportunity to go on an adventure. Dressed in a To Write Love On Her Arms tank top, a Warped Tour hat, and skinny jeans, Emily sat down to answer some questions from AbortionChat.

How do you identify (ProChoice, ProLife, ProVoice, etc)? Why?

I’m ProChoice because I believe that women should have control over their own bodies and have the option to have an abortion. The option should be available to those that need/want it.

Are your friends sexually active? How do you feel about this?

Yes, my friends are sexually active. I’m okay with it I guess, but I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant (or, in the case that it’s one of my male friends, if they get a girl pregnant.)

You said, “I hope they practice safe sex and have a general idea of what to do if they get pregnant” have you ever had these types of conversations with them? Would you be willing to?

I have (kinda?) had these conversations with my friends. Really, only with one. But he wouldn’t listen to what I had to say. One time, he told me that he didn’t use a condom and that he had pulled out. After asking him what he would have done if the girl got pregnant, he brushed the conversation off and refused to believe that she could have gotten pregnant. Which, thankfully, she didn’t.
But I’m willing to have these conversations. My friends, however, seem to be hesitant and are not entirely willing.

Do you know what consent is (how to convey it, how to ask for it, etc)?

Yes. Well…I like to think that I do. The easiest way to ask for consent is to just throw the question out there, “Do you want it?”

Do you feel like there is a correlation to unhealthy relationships, body image, and mental health? If so, can you explain?

Yes. Based on my personal experiences, I believe there is. A few years ago (and even in the present day) I wasn’t exactly in the best place. Honestly, I wasn’t emotionally stable. I was far from it, actually. My body image was bad and my mental health was even worse. I had no self esteem. As one of those got worse, every one slowly did the same thing. At the same time, when things started getting better, they all got better at the same time; and they still are.

If you were to find out you were pregnant today, what would your reaction be?

Surprised. If anything, afraid. I’m not sexually active, but in the case that I was and got pregnant, I would feel trapped. What would my friends think? Not that it matters, but what would my other peers and teachers think? What about my mother? Sister? Friends parents? Other people in my life? What would they say?
I’ve heard people my age talk about girls that get pregnant. The things they say are terrible. In high school, (not necessarily my high school, thank God), if a girl is pregnant she’s ridiculed and called a whore, slut, etc. and everyone talks about how she’s stupid for not practicing safe sex. Even if she did and something went wrong, people still ridicule her.
So, if I was pregnant, I would be afraid. I would go to an abortion clinic as soon as possible. If it started to show, I would stay home. Everyone is so judgmental, it’s sickening.

What do you think your family’s reaction would be?

My family would disown me and I would be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts.

What would you do if the state of Maine implemented a parental consent law? Would this affect your decision?

If Maine had a parental consent law, it wouldn’t affect my decision. My mother would make me go to a clinic, and I would probably choose to go to a clinic, too.

You said “I’d be sent to an abortion clinic, no ifs, ands, or buts,” but also eluded to the fact you’d willingly go. Do you think pressure would cause you to seek out an abortion? Would you consider carrying out the pregnancy at all? (Basically I’m curious to see if this is YOUR decision or how much influence those around you would have on this decision.)

I think I would seek an abortion either way. There is no way I could carry out a pregnancy. Mostly because I couldn’t afford a child and because I am unfit to be a mother. I refuse to bring a child into this world if it’s not going to have a good life with a good mother that’s fit to be one. Carrying out a pregnancy is not a possibility.

What about if you found out your best friend was pregnant?

I would be afraid for her. If my male best friend got a girl pregnant, I would be afraid for him, too. Neither of their parents would let a newborn into the house. Either way, I would be surprised and afraid but I would be there to support them no matter what.How would you support them?
To support my pregnant friend, I would be there emotionally and I would give them everything I could. And I would try to help them through every decision they made.

What is the sexual education program like at your school? How do you feel it could be improved?

I haven’t taken health at my high school yet, but my sister has. In the elementary and middle schools it wasn’t very good. It was vague and repetitive. For the four years I took the class (4th, 5th, 6th and 8th grade), it brushed over the same things: male arousal, condoms/preventative methods (only covered condoms), menstrual cycles, puberty, abstinence, and in 8th grade a very brief lesson on STDs. That’s it.
I found that most of the time the people teaching this stuff couldn’t answer my questions, so everything I know about this stuff I learned online. These classes never covered female arousal, pregnancy (and what happens), birth control, and other things. The world of sex is so much more than what they’re teaching.
But I hear the class is much better in high school. They apparently cover that stuff more; maybe because people are sexually active in high school. Who knows? But I hear you have to watch a birthing video?

Do you feel comfortable coming to your family with questions about sexuality? Why or why not?

No. Not with my mom, at least. She blows everything out of proportion and doesn’t take me seriously, anyway. My sister, however, is a different story. I can talk about sex and stuff with her…to a certain extent.

How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the buffer zone in Massachusetts?

I’m pretty pissed. Yes, it helps the picketers get their point across, but what about the women trying to enter the clinic? The people standing there yelling and holding up those awful signs make the decision that much harder.
Plus, there’s not enough room on the sidewalks to get in (as Lynne said about Portland) and to be completely honest I feel like it’s not safe.
Are they even thinking about both sides of the situation?

Do you have twitter? What was your response to the #YesAllWomen hashtag?

Personally, I thought it was great. A lot of women got their point across. It helped raise awareness. Along with that, it put the spotlight on people that were abusing the tag.
On Instagram @basically_juno posted a picture of her in jeans and a thick strapped tank top that said, “A woman’s place is in the house and the senate.” Under that, a 14 year old boy commented, “Maybe if you didn’t wear slutty clothes u wouldn’t get raped, dumb, fat feminist, #malemasterrace.” It’s disgusting. She’d never met this boy in her life. The #YesAllWomen hashtag exposes that kind of stuff. I love it.
Other tweets:
“@TrapHouseCj: ur upset bc u got raped??? people’s children get kidnapped & murdered everyday and ur crying bc u had sex???k”
“Funny, the thing men fear most about going to jail is the thing women fear most about walking down the sidewalk #YesAllWomen” ~No credit, a lot of people tweeted that.

Do you have an experience you’d like to share?

A boy that had a crush on me for two years ran by and slapped my butt when I was reaching for something in my backpack one day during lunch. Apparently he thought he deserved it because he waited for so long. After that, he continued to hit on me for about two months. I’m pretty sure he hit on a few girls after that, too.

At another point in time, I was standing with my friend and a guy came up to us. He said, “You guys have tits buy yourself lunch,” and threw money at us and walked away.

Another time, at a concert I went to, a guy slowly creeped his hands around my waist. At the time, I went along with it. I craved affection. He started saying that he wanted to kiss me (after not even an hour). I had feelings for him for a little while after that. Looking back, it was actually creepy. He was a mutual friend of a girl I knew for four years, but until that day I had no idea he existed.
He just recently stopped flirting with me (on Wednesday), when I told him I wasn’t interested.At work, an older guy (like 40/50/60, he had gray hair) was reported for saying sexual things to girls and being creepy.

Once, I was standing in the back room and I was checking off a checklist of stuff I had to do. I was in his way, so I apologized and moved. His response? “You can stand in my way any time.” That is NOT okay. My coordinator took me off my register once this week to talk to me about it and she was horrified. She’s like a mother to me and she’s being so protective about this.

And then earlier in the school year, a kid (he’s gonna be a senior this year) started talking to me after jazz band rehearsal one day. He talked to me for awhile and at one point he said that he had had sex with another girl and the entire time he was picturing me. He asked me to hang out once or twice…And he also asked me if I masturbated. After awhile we stopped talking. Now, he pretends I don’t exist.

What is your reaction to the word(s), “slut” “whore” etc?

They make my stomach churn. They ALWAYS refer to a woman. If a female decides to engage in a lot of sexual activity with multiple partners, she is labeled as a slut, whereas if a man does that, he is congratulated and put on a pedestal for everyone to look up to. He’s seen as being “more of a man.” It’s sickening. Most derogatory terms like that, “slut, whore, pussy, cunt,” are all FEMALE BASED.
The male side of things, for the most part, is on the “better side of things.” Once again, females are the “weaker sex” and males are the “better” one. Which is why I love the “Like a Girl” campaign.

Any last minute thoughts/things you’d like to share?

a while ago a kid started messaging one of my friends. He started pressuring him and tried forcing him to masturbate over Skype and eventually it escalated to the point that the kid freaked out. He told me that he thought he had an anxiety attack, but I’m not sure. The kid had never talked to my friend before, but he tried using the “no one has to know” line.
I just thought that it was sick and disgusting. It’s probably not relevant though?

Portland, Maine Buffer Zone Repealed

IMAG1165This evening, Portland City Counsel met to discuss whether or not to repeal the 39ft “buffer zone” or patient safety zone around Planned Parenthood that was enacted only a few months ago. This area created a safe space for patients receiving care to enter the building without harassment or intimidation tactics.

A motion was passed to expedite the process (taking only one hearing, one week, rather than two). Men and women from the public spoke in support of the patient safety zone, asking the counsel members to not repeal the zone. However, after several people spoke, public comment was closed and the counsel members had a discussion. Many counsel members address that in November, when the zone was first put in place, it was passed unanimously. Since that time, they reported that they have been taken to court over the ordinance. With the recent SCOTUS decision, striking down the 35 ft zones in Massachusetts, many of the counsel members felt like at this point, taking away Portland, Maine’s was the only thing to do.

Each member that voted to repeal the zone reported that they did so “reluctantly.” The only member to vote in favor of keeping the zone intact was Counselor Jill Duson.

All of the counselors addressed the concerns of many of the people in the gallery, stating that by September they hope to have a new ordinance to help keep those entering the clinic safe and free of fear.

To Or To Not #ProtectTheZone?

It was sunny the day my friend drove me past the Planned Parenthood clinic in Virginia. It wasn’t even 9:00am yet, and there were protesters lining the sidewalk. They held signs, there were men and women, and worst of all, they were there to tell me I was making a huge mistake. My stomach turned just looking at them.

“Hey,” my friend said snapping me out of my inner turmoil. “Let’s go get something to drink.”

Because I was having a surgical abortion, I hadn’t had anything to eat (okay, let’s be honest, I snuck some candy on the drive up) in several hours, and I was only allowed to have clear liquids. We sat at a diner while she sipped coffee, and I drank iced water. No matter how warm it was outside, I couldn’t stop shaking.

When we returned to the clinic, the protesters had gathered in numbers. “Are you ready?” my friend asked. I couldn’t talk anymore, so I just nodded my head and stepped out of the car. We approached the doors that had signs saying, “Please don’t interact with the protesters,” and I pushed a button. Somewhere, I registered the fact someone was shouting. I assumed it was to traffic, telling the cars passing by of the atrocities that happen inside the building.

Instead, my friend put her arm around me, protectively and said, “Don’t listen to them, Sweetie.”

And then it hit me like a baseball bat to the face. They were screaming at me. Finally I could hear their words, “We know you’re scared, but you don’t have to do this!”

(A bit later)

After the procedure, I was groggy from sedation, and sitting in the recovery room. I can’t remember if it was me, or one of the women beside me, but someone asked the nurse taking care of us if she was ever afraid to go to work.

Her face went very still and she answered, “Yes, sometimes the protesters can be very mean.” I was still too sedated to remember what else was said. I do remember feeling upset because here was a woman helping me, who is afraid to come to her job, to help people like me, and yet was still there on that day.

Some time later, my friend had to pick me up from the back door and we left the clinic. As we drove away, I could see that even more protesters had gathered, and they still held signs. It was the first time I’d ever felt real hatred toward people I didn’t know. Yes, I was afraid. I’d never been pregnant before. I’d never had an abortion before. I’d also never been left by the guy who got me pregnant, was awaiting being evicted from my house, a knee surgery, and a plethora of other complications. I was scared out of my mind, that the protesters were right about. But I did need to have my abortion because for me, my abortion meant life, or my pregnancy meant death by my own hand.

Since my abortion, I’ve become an activist attempting to spread some grey area into the world of the black and white abortion debate. I’ve been to ProLife and ProChoice rallys. I’ve been to writing conferences talking about my abortion. And I’ve also been to counter protests outside of Planned Parenthood in Portland, Maine holding signs that say, “We support you!” and “I had an abortion.”

My friends and I were met with hostility. A man forcing pamphlets into our hands about “willful ignorance” insulted us. There was a sickening, almost tangible element of fear in the air, not only for the women entering the clinic, but the workers, the clinic escorts, and my friends…it felt like any second the world would explode. People drove by screaming at the protesters, “You’re fucking disgusting!” A man on a bicycle rode by chastising them. It was oppressive, and yet they still yelled at my friends and I, asking why we were “scared” of them. When we left, we were followed to our car.

Now, the Supreme Court has voted against the buffer zone in Massachusetts, which may or may not set the precedent for the remaining states in America. Earlier this year, Portland, Maine enacted a patient safety zone of 39 ft. We’ve heard many positive stories since the buffer zone had been enacted. Planned Parenthood of New England (PPNE) stated in a press release, “What is different since the buffer zone has been enacted is that we no longer see the sort of harassment and intimidation we saw previously. The atmosphere outside of our health center is one of peaceful coexistence – which balances the right to privacy with free speech rights.”

In light of the recent decision to strike down the Massachusetts buffer zone, PPNE stated, “The U.S. Supreme Court Justices’ decision today to strike down the buffer zone law shows a disregard for the safety of patients and staff entering reproductive health centers and we are disappointed by their decision to strike down the Massachusetts law.”

The Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor, Maine, Abbie Strout, said, “I am dissapointed in the Supreme Court for ruling against a buffer zone. We all deserve the right to make a decision about our lives and should be able to access necessary health care services without facing fear and intimidation.”

In regards to a potential added level of danger to the decision, Abbie stated, “I think it is important to acknowledge that we all face a certain level of danger doing this work.  It was only 5 years ago when Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church, he was a well-known abortion provider and hero.  Everyday people across the country face fear and intimidation going to work or while accessing medical care.  This is unacceptable. At the same time, we are all incredibly lucky that there are women and men who understand how important access to abortion care is and will risk their lives for it.”

The fact of the matter is, when people are allowed to be hostile, to add tension, it becomes an unsafe environment. Not just physically, but emotionally as well. As someone who is a mental health profession, and who has struggled with my own mental health, these “protests” or “clinic counselors” are a danger to any person walking into those clinics.