Friday, February 10, 2012

I Use Birth Control

I don't like the tone of this birth control debate. Conservatives are trying to make it sound like contraception is some fringe practice only for promiscuous people. It's ridiculous.

Contraception shouldn't even be controversial. So let's change the conversation.

I use birth control, and it's awesome.

Women, do you use birth control? Say so, loudly. Men, have you ever used a condom? Then you use birth control, too. Let's tell them. Enough with this crap already.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ron Paul Is A Jerk

There are a lot of reasons I think Ron Paul is awful. I won't go into all of them here. However, I do want to comment on this interview with Piers Morgan, in which Morgan challenged Paul on his views on abortion, because what he said was so mind-bogglingly stupid.

Before we start, let's remind ourselves (little as I like to remember this fact) that Ron Paul is an obstetrician-gynecologist. So, in theory, he should know better.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Still Angry

While I'm glad that the Susan G. Komen foundation seems to have reversed its decision, I'm still angry.

It's time to stop demonizing abortion (and Planned Parenthood). Whatever your discomforts, convictions or beliefs about how other people should behave, it is necessary to acknowledge that life is messy, and that sometimes things have to happen that we don't like very much. You don't have to agree with abortion to be opposed to its criminalization. I would love it if no woman ever had an unwanted pregnancy, or a pregnancy complication for that matter, but that's not the world we live in.

It's time to acknowledge how easy it is to get pregnant unintentionally, whether through a momentary lapse, series of bad decisions, or unlucky contraceptive failure. It's also time to acknowledge that bearing a child and rearing a child are both significant challenges, sometimes burdens, that should not be taken lightly.

It's time to concede the grey areas. A first-trimester pregnancy is not the same as a newborn infant, and accordingly our society doesn't treat an early miscarriage the same as it does an infant death. An abortion is sad, but it is the woman's sadness, not ours, and she needs to be respected and trusted to make a decision.

The Komen foundation thought that they could quietly defund Planned Parenthood in part because we, the pro-choice community, have not been vocal enough in showing how strongly we believe in reproductive freedom. Subtly, we allow the implication that abortion is a personal failure, and is shameful. We think that it would never happen to us, until it does.

We allow politicians to yell and scream about "Medicaid funding for abortion" and we don't question them. Well, why shouldn't federal Medicaid fund abortion? It is a legal, safe procedure that affects the health of women. Taxes are not fee-for-service. I don't have a car, and I wish our country had more trains and less highways, but I don't yell and scream that my taxes shouldn't go to repairing and building roads (but maybe I should). Maybe Medicaid shouldn't fund abortions. Maybe there are good arguments to be made against funding it, even if I haven't heard any. But we should stop letting them take it for granted, and actually argue about it.

We quietly simmer while abortion access is severely curtailed through legislation and murderous intimidation. When restrictive laws are passed, we think, "How terrible. I'm glad I don't live there." Or if we do live there, then we think, "How terrible. I'm glad I don't need an abortion." What would be our response if laws restricted access to Pap smears? (After all, cervical cancer is caused by HPV, which is acquired through sex. Should Pap smears be shameful?) As this excellent Guttmacher article argues, we need to stop accepting "the apologetic approach."

Abortion is legal and most of the country is opposed to criminalization, but it is an easy target for conservatives who want to seem moral and religious. What if we yelled back, and told them that they were immoral for trying to shame women? What if we called them out for what their anti-abortion rhetoric really is, which is disrespect and hatred? The pro-choice community was angrier yesterday than I have ever seen it in my lifetime, and I think there is more anger out there. Let's start showing our anger.

Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood

Petition against the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screening programs.

What I wrote:

As an obstetrician-gynecologist, I have seen first-hand the devastation of women's cancer, and the importance of screening and early detection and treatment. Your actions are short-sighted, and, at best, cowardly. At worst, they are misogynistic for contributing to the forces that would deny women reproductive freedom. I will never donate another dime to your organization, and I will find other ways to support cancer research, screening, and treatment. Furthermore, I will always support and stand by Planned Parenthood.

Induced Abortion in Uganda

A research paper by the Guttmacher Institute contains interesting information about abortion in Uganda:

  • Abortion is permitted only to save a woman's life
  • The incidence of induced abortion is 54 per 1000 women
  • One in 5 pregnancies ends in abortion
  • 85, 000 women are treated every year for complications from induced abortion
  • 38% of births in Uganda are unintended, and half of all pregnancies are unintended
  • Ugandan women have an average of 2 more children than they want
  • Only 14% of women were using an effective contraceptive method