08 January 2009

Pro-choice round-up: blogs and news items

  • unexpectingbaby chronicled her abortion experience for about a month at myabortionblog. From the first entry:
  • I stopped at a Starbucks with my friend for a quick cup of something warm. It was freezing outside and cider sounded like the perfect thing. Just plain, warm cider. I added a bit of cinnamon and drank it down quickly while chatting with her about nothing in particular. It was delicious for about three minutes…and then the queasiness began.
    Later on, she explains thoughtfully why, as a Christian, she does not feel guilty about her choice:
    Some day I will be ready to have children, and I can’t wait to be a mom. I know that time isn’t now, and this was the right choice for me.
  • abortionblogger writes from a different side of the debate: she's "a proud atheist" who blogged her abortion in order to help women learn about the practical reality of the experience in a climate where few women who have had one ever discuss it in any real depth. Her blog includes a list of helpful links for women seeking more information about abortion procedures and providers. She appears to have a scientific background (she calls herself "a bit of a biology nerd"). Early on in her blog, she explains why abortion is the right decision for her right now:
  • I sometimes literally crave to be a parent, and I wish I were in a position financially, emotionally etc where I could just have the baby and be joyful about it. I think I would be a pretty good mom. And someday I probably will be.
    abortionblogger discovered her pregnancy early and had a medical abortion. A few anti-choice readers posted inflammatory remarks (I think the young people call them "concern trolls") about the risks of taking RU-486 in the case of ectopic pregnancy and the obviously unscrupulous doctor who was only interested in abortionblogger's money. So the author promptly found an NIH study debunking their claims, and she quit approving the repetitive comments, concluding, "Science, my friends, is a wonderful way to sort out the facts. Yay science!"

  • Speaking of the procedure and speaking of science, abortion does not cause depression. A review of almost 2 dozen studies following the experiences of some 150,000 women found that there are "no significant differences in long-term mental health between women who choose to abort a pregnancy and others." In other words, post-abortion syndrome doesn't exist. Recall that the Supreme Court upheld the federal law banning late-term D&X procedures on that ground. Will someone take judicial notice, please?

  • Do you need abortion pills? If you live in a country that restricts abortion (and who doesn't, really?), then Women on Web can hook you up with an online consultation for a prescription, just like those online pharmacies that can get you Viagra. They appear to be based out of the Netherlands. Their FAQ includes questions about legality, international package delivery and receipt, and the procedure.

  • In the news: Latina women in New York, specifically Dominican women, are taking Cytotec to induce abortions at home. (Cytotec is misoprostol, which is 1 of the 2 components of RU-486.) It appears to be a practice they've brought with them from the Dominican Republic. I found an article from 2003 explaining that pharmacies there may "sell as much Cytotec as aspirin or cold remedies."

    Misoprostol works almost as effectively on its own as it does in combination with the other drugs in a medical abortion, because it does the heavy work, so to speak. It's the drug that actually causes softening of the cervix and uterine contractions. (The other drugs work to chemically interfere with pregnancy development, with other effects.) That is, you probably won't successfully terminate a pregnancy if you take only the other drugs; but you're very likely to successfully terminate a pregnancy if you take the right dose of misoprostol early enough. Think of it this way: misoprostol is plain, unflavored oral rehydration solution (like Pedialyte), and RU-486 is Gatorade. Both products would do the job to rehydrate you. But if you separate the food dye and B vitamins and other add-ons from the simple oral rehydration solution component of Gatorade, and then consume only the add-ons, you won't rehydrate yourself.

  • Elsewhere in the news: "The family of a 14-year-old Afghan rape victim face prosecution after her foetus was removed without anaesthetic." She was 5 months pregnant; her family "eventually" got her to a hospital in Bamiyan, which, not coincidentally I'd have to say, is where they blew up the Buddhas in 2001 because the monumental carvings were against Islam.

  • But what is not against Islam? Female genital mutilation among our allies, the Kurds. The Washington Post article includes a photo gallery euphemistically titled "Sheelan's Circumcision: A seven-year-old girl is taken by her mother to be circumcised in Kurdish Iraq, where more than 60 percent of women have undergone the traditional and controversial procedure." You should look at those pictures. They aren't graphic, as the warning explains; you don't see blood. But you do see several girls under the age of 10 who are terrified, enduring excruciating pain, and clutching their vulvas afterward, and who have to be carried home by proud mothers -- after having been promised that they were being taken to a surprise party.
    There was no celebration. Instead, a local woman quickly locked a rusty red door behind Sheelan, who looked bewildered when her mother ordered the girl to remove her underpants. Sheelan began to whimper, then tremble, while the women pushed apart her legs and a midwife raised a stainless-steel razor blade in the air. "I do this in the name of Allah!" she intoned.

    As the midwife sliced off part of Sheelan's genitals, the girl let out a high-pitched wail heard throughout the neighborhood. As she carried the sobbing child back home, Sheelan's mother smiled with pride.
    Huh? "Smiled with pride"? Dig photo 7 in the gallery. Mom can't even watch. As Sheelan lets out a cry that can only come from someone having her vulva sliced up with no painkillers, mom has shut her eyes tight and turned her head away.

    Look at the pictures.

    The Post refers to Sheelan's experience as "circumcision" and morally relativizes her unanaesthetized, back-alley cutting as "a painful ancient ritual," the assholes. I wonder what words the Post would use to refer to the D.I.Y. at-home C-section on the teenaged Afghan rape victim?

    In an older article I found, a woman who performs genital cutting on Kurdish girls explains:
    "I cut about a quarter [of the vulva] off with a razor," she says, in an apparent reference to the so-called Sunna circumcision, a mutilation that some clerics have attributed to a tradition taught by the Prophet Mohamed that involves removing the prepuce. Sometimes the clitoris is left intact, but sometimes part of or all of it is removed.
    Hey, yo, Post -- if somebody sliced off a quarter of the external genitalia of a 7-year-old boy, in a less-than-surgical setting like this one, you wouldn't call it circumcision.
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