resource review (5):

this was the very first instance of someone putting their abortion story on the internet that i was ever aware of.  i was working in abortion services when i came across it and i was very excited about it. a.k.a. what to expect when your aborting boasts the tagline “I’m 23, I’m knocked up. I’m not keeping it. You can fuck yourself Judd Apatow.”  as it indicates, it’s VERY straightforward, this young women is not holding anything back.  rereading it before this post i am actually kind of amazed at how savvy she is.  she says that she googled around for abortion blogs, hoping to get some information and only found anti-abortion propaganda so she decided to blog about the experience in the hopes that someone might find her blog if they needed info.  it’s not particularly journalistic but very opinionated and real.  i’m glad to read her raw, unedited posts, but i am bummed out that she didn’t have the best of experiences at an organization that is very close to my heart.

realistically i know that it is often the case that people on the front lines of not for profit healthcare don’t or can’t always give the best healthcare in the moment, for so many reason.  Inevitably the clinicians, physicians and clinic assistants are all working for little pay, with major time constraints and without lunch.  some days are 12 hours or even longer.  for me, working in abortion services was significantly about providing a positive experience for the folks who came in needing services, but i know that at times it was very difficult to give all that it took to provide excellent service.  and i was extremely lucky to work with such bad ass, kind, strong people.  in retrospect i wish there was a ab services version of the student evaluation…….

there were a few inaccuracies that i noted, which is totally understandable, she is the patient not the clinician and it’s not actually her responsibility to explain the medical side of things.  but just for the record she incorrectly explains that folks with rh negative blood are required to take a shot in order for the pain medication to work when in fact they are required to have a shot of rhogam because there is a likelihood that the fetus’ blood will be rh positive, the opposite of yorus.  if that were the case your body would treat it as an invader and manufacture antibodies against it which could compromise your health and the health of a future pregnancy.

in any case, this author is no holds barred and serves up, along with her personal abortion story,  resources on abortion in pop culture, advice and other gems such as the abortion recovery kit.  definitely required reading.

resource review (3): caitlin moran’s how to be a women

you might have heard a review of moran’s book how to be a woman on npr in the last year.  it definitely sounded good and while talking to my housemate mariana baquero, she mentioned that it had a whole section titled “abortion”  and went to grab it from her room.  i read through that section first and am now starting on the whole book.  her story is both narrative and commentary.  she starts out plunking you right in to her experience by telling us how she discovered she was pregnant to begin with (an exam to diagnose polycystic ovaries) and then goes on to say how she knew right away she wouldn’t keep it.  i won’t ruin it for you, it’s a lovely story about motherhood, agency and empowerment.

she speaks directly about how abortion is vilified and how the women who seek them are victimized.  the state makes allowances for abortions because left to their own devices desperate women would get themselves killed in botched back alley abortions.  the more i read, the more i realize that’s its never easy to articulate that systematic victimization of women.  that idea that women should be punished for choosing abortion by a lifetime of guilt and regret.  you can access abortions ladies, but only if you don’t really want it.  it’s so unfair and it was great to read what she had to say about it.

there is something that really touched me.  she talks about how abortion is seen by society as fundamentally wrong, that women could be seen as these endless fountains of selflessness and mothering and that they should prefer to simply trickle away rather than refuse to give life to another potential human (ok, i’m paraphrasing here).  in any case, she’s not down with that.  she proposes that arguing over “is it alive” or “isn’t it” should be abandoned and that the pregnant individual and their “dominion over life” should also have “dominion over not-life”.  “not-life”.  i like it.  i mean, i totally, super agree with her.  she talks about kali, the mother of the whole universe and devourer of all things.  she proposes that motherhood might mean bringing life into the world and it might mean not doing that.

“on a very elemental level, if women are, by biology, commanded to host, shelter, nurture and protect life, why should they not be empowered to end life, too?”

well said.

there are so many things she said so well that i think this post will warrant a pretty hefty rewrite, but for the time being i’ll close with what i think is really pertinent to my thesis topic.  she states that all the accounts she had ever read about abortion before had always foregrounded the”mark” left.  i take that to mean, the regret.  but her story is not on of regret.  it is one of a person who made an easy, right choice and has lived everyday since them knowing she did the right thing.  i’m just glad that she wrote her story down and i’m really excited to collaborate with people in getting more of these stories down and out into the world.

resource review (2):, loretta ross, that’s my abortion tumblr and a video by the guttmacher institute.

after my post yesterday my friend sarah tancred sent me some resource suggestions.  i had never heard of loretta ross though i was lucky enough to attend the 2004 march for women’s lives, of which she was the co-director.  though i have a whole list of resources to annotate here, i clicked the link and was smitten.  thanks sarah!

sarah’s link sent me to, which is a aol/pbs collaboration that does video showcases of women who are changing the world and/or “fighting for something bigger than themselves”.  watching the “about” video showed me snippets of features of ellen degeneres, gloria steinem, condoleezza rice, and many, many more, a really amazing and inspiring bunch.  i also like that the website makes a point to say they feature known and unknown women, high profile to everyday.  i guess that felt really inclusive, so i appreciated that choice of language.

the loretta ross video was about her experiences with reproductive injustice at an early age and how those experiences led to her becoming an organizer.  the most interesting part for me was the short history she gave of the term “reproductive justice.”  this was a new term for me and, in my opinion, such a beautiful term.  she begins by talking about how in 1994 she attended an international conference in which activists were using a human rights framework from which to talk about reproductive rights.  they were interested in how that created a more holistic movement, where abortion wasn’t the most important topic, where economic justice and access to basic healthcare were just as important.  she goes on to say, how the african american community has been subjected to population control in the past so, therefore, the right to HAVE children and toRAISE them is just as pertinent to the topic of reproductive freedom as is the right to abortion access.  she sums it up real quick here:

she goes into more detail about her organization sistersong, reproductive justice and the political term “women of color” in this video:

i’m just embedding part 1 but i definitely recommend going down the rabbit hole and youtubing everything on loretta ross because she is freaking amazing.

when i searched for more information on her personal abortion experience (since that is the topic of my current work) i found a tumblr called “that’s my abortion”.  this site acts as a space for women of color to tell their own stories of reproductive justice.  there is a huge movement by the conservative right to paint abortion as an attack on the african american community and this site combats this.  the front page of that’s my states “The right wing is targeting the reproductive agency and rights of black women and other women of color. Their messages are couched in a deceptive framework of anti-racism in billboards and advertising in NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Austin, D.C. and Philadelphia.”

lastly, as i scrolled through that’s my, i came across this great little video by the guttmacher institute. just a great little reminder of what we’re all working for.

resource review (1): i’m not

i’ve been scouring the internet for resources on the topic of my thesis exhibition.  to put it simply, i’m looking for resources that examine the dominant narrative around abortion in the united states.  i’m not sorry. net ( was a great first stop. “patricia” started the site about 14 years ago (!) in order to offer an alternative to what she saw as the “blood-spattered guilt trip so many make it out to be.”  the site hosts stories submitted by women who have had abortions and don’t regret it. all stories are submitted anonymously, only a first name is used to identify the storyteller and patricia reserves the right to minimally edit the stories or not to post them of they are deemed inappropriate.  the stores themselves are plentiful and there is even a section dedicated to stories by women who sought out abortions before roe v wade was passed in 1973, which is pretty amazing.  patricia, the host of the site is direct, sassy and unapologetic.  the infrastructure of the website (the about page, the faq and the section titled answering “pro-lifers”) all make her position very clear.

i wholeheartedly agree with patricia and admire her postion.  she states clearly the ambivalence often shown by well-meaning feminist or pro-choice individuals (and institutions) saying “Even many in the pro-choice movement subtly encourage the mindset that no decent woman really wants an abortion and that it’s done only when there’s no other alternative.” and tackles “pro-lifers” straight on in a section just for them.

the overt defensiveness in the tone of the whole site sometimes bothered me though.  i guess that it’s because, in my opinion, it seems to be responding to the dominant narrative instead of creating space that operates outside of it.  not that i don’t get that, it would be incredibly hard to operate outside of that after 14 years of fielding hate mail.

overall, i think its a great resource that provided hours of intriguing reading.  and honestly, her unapologetic nature is bad-ass and inspiring.

check back tomorrow for another resource review.