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Anti-Choice Blogger Cruelly Mocks Women’s Experiences

6:57 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Nancy Keenan for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is made up of pro-choice women and men across the United States who come together to protect a woman’s right to choose. These individuals are our backbone, and their stories remind us of why we do this work. Behind every statistic or heated argument about abortion is the experience of a real woman.

On our website, ProChoiceAmerica.org, we offer a safe space for people to share their stories because sharing stories is a way for our supporters to connect. Our Women’s Stories page gives powerful and heart-felt accounts of women’s personal lives and the difficult decisions they’ve made. As someone who talks with women about what it means to be pro-choice, I understand the courage it takes to share a story with us and the world.

That’s why I was deeply disgusted and outraged when I discovered that an anti-choice blogger mocked these personal stories through a series of "Parody Testimonials" blogs.

The blogger crudely and cruelly mocks the circumstances behind these women’s stories, even in situations where women’s lives and health were in danger.

Here is a selection from one "parody" that was particularly disturbing:

Dawn, 40

I got pregnant in the summer of 2008. My husband and I were thrilled. We had been trying for about 6 months and it finally happened.

At 11 weeks of gestation we found out that our son/daughter had anencephaly. We were devastated. We thought we wanted this child. We murdered our son/daughter two days later in a building which looked like a hospital (but where they murdered people instead of cared for them). A spineless, life-hating, unprotective man who had a Medical Doctorate in gynecology dilated my cervix and proceeded to cut my son/daughter up into several pieces. After this, the nurse informed him that all of my son’s/daughter’s body parts were present and accounted for. The "doctor" considered this a "condition not compatible with life" AND WHO WOULD after being cut up into so many pieces?!

[...]

I have worked for groups which favor the murder of unborn babies for the worst part of my life doing a variety of volunteer activities (lying, deceiving, coaxing, betraying my fellow woman, hating men and the babies that they helped us conceive… did I mention lying?) as well as giving money to spill more blood. I support murdering unborn babies in all circumstances (yes, especially those which are forced in China and other countries since they have more melanin than I do).

And here’s Dawn’s actual story:

I got pregnant in the summer of 2008. My husband and I were thrilled. We had been trying for about 6 months and it finally happened.

At 11 weeks of gestation we found out that the fetus had anencephaly. We were devastated. This was a very wanted child. We terminated the pregnancy two days later in a hospital. My OB performed the D&C. The doctor considered this a "condition not compatible with life."

[...]

p>I have worked for pro-choice causes for the better part of my life doing a variety of volunteer activities as well as donating money. I support choice in all circumstances.

We can’t let the actions of an anti-choice blogger intimidate or shame women into silence. Please take a moment to support the women who bravely shared their stories with us. Read some of our Women’s Stories and pick the story that you find most compelling. Share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media you use. Share it here at BlogForChoice and on other blogs you visit. When you post the story, please say, "I stand with [NAME] and here is her/his story."

Together, we can stand up for these brave women and against hate.

The Right to Privacy and the Right to Speak Out

6:47 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sarah Seltzer for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Our right to abortion is couched, legally and often socially, as a right to privacy, the right to keep our medical decisions to ourselves. This appeals to a certain American libertarian streak, and so it perhaps can be effective politically. But does the fact that the decision must be allowed to be made in a personal, private context mean that women ought keep their experiences with abortion to themselves?

Clearly, some people think so. Those are the terms with which many wavering people are comfortable being legally pro-choice. Your body, your choice, leave me out of it. In our age of "TMI," live-tweeting births and deaths and general over-sharing, the idea of public discussion of abortion may seem to some folks to be a herald of an era in which privacy no longer exists.

The #livetweetingabortion controversy which we covered last week attracted its share of rabid anti-choicers declaring Angie Jackson to be a pawn of Satan– and now threatening her in alarming, serious ways but there were also plenty of people who just said ewww. That’s private.

But that’s the point, explained Jackson, who has blogged and tweeted about a number of intensely personal issues:

I think that secrecy is unhealthy. We don’t get help when we don’t talk about things. For women who do need counseling or support or love or understanding after an abortion, if they have to stay quiet out of shame, then they won’t get that help. I think talking about things really can make a huge difference.

Legally, privacy and bodily autonomy remain the standards we promote as pro-choicers. But socially and culturally, the pushing of abortion into a sort of "don’t ask, don’t tell" limbo has been truly damaging for women. Whether it’s shows like "16 and Pregnant" which ignored the truth of teen girls who abort, movies like "Knocked Up" which can’t even say the word "abortion", and more, our prevailing attitude of it’s your choice, but keep it to yourself has had a direct link to the chipping away of our rights. When people don’t see their friends, neighbors and selves as being hassled, inconvenienced or threatened by mandatory ultrasounds, counseling and waiting periods, these things don’t seem like a terrible idea.

So yes, it’s a private decision, but it shouldn’t be a silenced decision. That’s the difference. Women should feel free to mourn or rejoice, breathe a sigh of relief or cry from exhaustion, keep it to themselves or blog or tweet about it, as they do with other personal choices–where to send kids to school, when, where, how and if to get married, whom they’re dating and how they survive cancer, motherhood, or bereavement.

Unfortunately, as Robin Marty’s touching story shows, without other women’s stories, without the reality of abortion being portrayed in the media, the extremely common procedure can be incredibly isolating. By sharing her story, Angie Jackson is a  heroine, because she chose to tell her story to help others, and she got so much invective for it, just as women who tumbled and blogged about their abortions have gotten before.

Just as gay rights have advanced by people coming to know their gay relatives, friends and neighbors and no longer seeing people without rights as a "them" so abortion rights can benefit hugely by the acknowledgement that these women are all of us. And there’s a more practical side to it as well, which was Jackson’s original intention. In her now-infamous Youtube video

I am doing this to demystify abortion so other women know that it is not nearly as terrifying as I had myself worked up thinking. It is not that bad. This is nothing compared to child birth, compared to labor for me. This is the best choice. It is not that bad and I want people to know that it is out there if you need this."

Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory wrote that this sharing on Jackson’s part has a useful, practical side to it, which the abortion tumblrs also fulfilled: helping women understand what’s happening to them, medically, physically, psychologically. If anyone has looked up birth control on the internet they can see that women’s ability to share the side effect, advantages, and reactions to different contraceptives has the kind of benefit that even a doctor can’t give you, the benefit of crowd-sourcing. Clark-Flory notes:

In fact, before I went in for what felt like terrifying oral surgery…I went on YouTube and watched footage of similar procedures and video blogs of people’s recovery process. It replaced all of my far-fetched nightmarish visions with concrete, factual information. Without that, I might have gone running for the hills — or at least passed out in the waiting room. Considering that abortion is so prone to politicized distortions and outright lies, Jackson is doing women a real favor. This isn’t another case of overshare-itis, it’s an example of how amid all the frivolous cacophony of Facebook, Twitter and the like, some folks are, like, actually doing good.

As feminists we stand firm on the side of never telling women you should, allowing them full choice about what to do with their bodies and then what to say about what they’ve done. But we need to really support women like Jackson and the others at websites like I’m Not Sorry and publications like Exhale’s Our Truths express our undying gratitude and tell them how proud we are of them. It shouldn’t take a tragedy the death of Dr. Tiller to make these kinds of stories public–we need positive motivation to bring more stories out of the shadows.

Live-Tweeting Abortion from Feministe

Internet Reacts (Predictably) To Woman Live-Tweeting Her Abortion from Jezebel