Happy National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers!

Micah Steffes

Today is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion-providers! Here are just a few reasons to recognize and a couple ways to do so!

Happy National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers!

Katha Pollitt over at the Nation urges readers to recognize this important day, and many of them aren’t having it: 

On a more positive note….how about, National Days for:

State Exectioners (tough work & like Abortion providers, people die!)

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Emergency Room Staff

Butchers

SPCA Executioners

Dr. Death (starts w/K)

Posted by Happy at 03/09/2009 @ 2:09pm

 

 

Talk about a convoluted phrase; "Appreciation for Baby Killers".

What’s next, "National let’s euthanize a Senior Day"?

Posted by antisocialist at 03/09/2009 @ 3:24pm

 

A national day of recognition sounds a little callous and smug given that this issue is considered by many to be an extremely difficult moral issue at best. Still, the anti-choice crowd has largely determined rules of engagement, and they have used criminality at times to push their agenda, including terrorism. Pro choice supporters must maintain the high ground at all times. If this means going without accolades of public recognition and appreciation, so be it. Private support and thanks is totally appropriate.

Posted by OneVote at 03/09/2009 @ 7:19pm

 

Forgive me for giving too much airspace to naysayers, but I’ve posted these comments because they just sort of reinforce why this day is so important. Given the expected uptick in clinic violence, a troubling shortage of younger people interested and willing to takeover this important work in the future, and of course, just the simple fact that it’s such an under-appreciated field given the politics surrounding it (see above), it is necessary that those of us who are inclined recognize this day do so heartily. 

So let’s just take a moment out of our lives to, at a minimum, pause and really appreciate the struggle abortion providers face, the controversy they endure, and the dedication demanded of them, especially in the face of violence and frequent social black-listing. 

For a little more reading for the issues surrounding the expected increase in clinic violence, check out Eleanor Bader’s piece from yesterday outlining the tensions arising around various clinics as the new administration’s support swings in a new direction. And on Sunday, the New York Times had a piece up about the lack of younger people willing to work in clinics as directors and providers. Here’s just a little excerpt:

 

At 50, Ms. Burgess is the youngest member of the Hope clinic’s leadership team, which includes Ms. Baker; Debbie Wiehardt, 57, the office supervisor; and the two doctors performing abortions (the only men on the 30-person staff), who are both in their 60s…

 

Abortion advocates like Kelli M. Conlin, president of Naral Pro-Choice New York, say that while it’s not a problem finding younger doctors and support staff to work in clinics in large urban areas like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, it is an issue in more conservative places like upstate New York; smaller Midwestern cities; Southern states, including Texas; and rural areas.

 

Lastly, Dr. Suzanne Poppema has a piece up along similar lines. She urges:

 

Want to help save the endangered abortion provider? Here are three things you can do today. If you know a doctor who provides abortions, thank them for what they do.  Call or write to your elected officials and ask them to consult with an abortion provider before voting on any abortion-related legislation.  Too often, bills are passed without input from the very people they affect most.  Finally, if you’ve had an abortion, tell someone about it. One in three women will have an abortion by age 45, yet it remains a taboo topic.  The more we can talk openly and honestly about women’s abortion experiences, the more we can reduce the stigma around this procedure.

 

Katha also suggests:

 

You can show your support for the selfless people who make more than words on a page by making a donation to the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), an all-volunteer group which helps low-income girls and women around the country pay for their abortion care. As the economy sinks and unemployment rises, more and more women will find themselves both needing to terminate a pregnancy and unable to come up with the cost.  Help WRAPP be there for clinics and for women.

 

And while simply wanting to show appreciation should be enough, it can’t hurt that if you send Katha your receipt for $50, she’ll mail you a signed copy of her collection of personal essays, Learning to Drive. 

All arguments for recognizing this day and the courage of abortion-providers aside, let’s also just remember that this shouldn’t be reserved only for March 10. Most days of the year, clinics face the same threats and the same nasty politics. So if you don’t have time today to write a letter of thanks, make a donation, or whatever other creative ways you can come up with to recognize this day, March 11 isn’t too late. Neither is March 22nd. Nor July 25th. Nor the entire month of December! Appreciation is always appreciated.

News Abortion

Blackburn Abortion Investigation Set for Congressional Windfall

Christine Grimaldi

All told, the investigation is well on its way to totaling $790,000, using nearly 80 percent of the House’s available supplemental funding.

Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives panel investigating questionable reproductive health-care allegations have sought an additional $490,000 in funding—even as Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) publicly indicated that their activities may halt by the end of the year.

Congressional documents reveal that panel Republicans requested the money from the Committee on House Administration, which sets aside $500,000 per session of Congress to supplement operating budgets.

​A congressional aide told ​ Rewire that the request has been approved.​

The panel last year received $300,000, which followed the House’s informal two-thirds/one-third funding split between the majority and minority parties, from the Administration Committee’s coffers. All told, the investigation is well on its way to totaling $790,000, using nearly 80 percent of the House’s available supplemental funding.

House rules stipulate that standing subcommittees draw funding from the budget of the full committee with jurisdiction and pursue additional means as needs arise. The funding streams are murkier in the case of the select panel, a temporary entity under the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It’s unclear how much money, if any, Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton (R-MI) has directed from his budget to the select panel.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Upton’s spokespeople did not respond to questions from Rewire about full committee financial support for the ad hoc panel by publication time.

Administration Committee Democrats protested the original funding request and raised similar objections again this time, to no avail. The current action marks the second time the committee “decided without a public hearing or a proper vote to pay for the political attack on Planned Parenthood,” they said in a statement accompanying a trove of appeals to their Republican counterparts on the committee to stop the transfer.

Blackburn’s select panel spokesperson in an email to Rewire deferred all funding questions to the Administration Committee, including what Republicans intend to do with their share and whether their request marks an expansion of the investigation despite the limited number of days that Congress will be in session for the remainder of the year.

In a statement shared via panel spokesperson, Blackburn cited allegations she often makes about abortion clinics and tissue procurement companies trafficking in “baby body parts.” She also repeated a similar claim against the University of New Mexico, the subject of her recent criminal referral to the state’s attorney general.

“These disturbing findings are exactly why this investigation is warranted and we will continue to follow the facts in order to complete our report to Congress by the end of the year,” she said.

Blackburn’s reference to the end of the year signals that there’s an end in sight. The resolution creating the panel only specifies that activities will come to an end 30 days after filing a final report. An Upton spokesperson previously referenced the panel’s “one-year term” when Rewire reported on past fetal tissue attacks in Congress.

In any event, Blackburn must act before the resolution expires with the close of the 114th Congress in 2016. The House would have to vote next year, in the 115th Congress, to extend the current investigation.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the select panel’s ranking member, condemned the latest funding request and the overall investigation.

“This has not been—nor will it ever be—a fact-based investigation,” Schakowsky said in a statement. “Instead the Panel is being run as a taxpayer-funded arm of anti-abortion groups, in pursuit of a partisan, anti-science, and anti-health care agenda. Enough is enough.”

Culture & Conversation Abortion

The Comic Book That Guided Women Through Abortion Months After ‘Roe’

Sam Meier

Abortion Eve used the stories of fictional girls and women to help real ones understand their options and the law. At the same time the comic explained how to access abortion, it also asserted that abortion was crucial to women's health and liberation.

“Can you picture a comic book on abortion on the stands next to Superman?”

In June 1973, Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevli wrote to the National Organization for Women in Chicago, asking this question of their “dear sisters” and pushing them to envision a world where women’s experiences could be considered as valiant as the superhero’s adventures. They enclosed a copy of their new comic book, Abortion Eve.

Published mere months after the Supreme Court’s January 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, Abortion Eve was intended to be a cheap, effective way to inform women about the realities of abortion. Like the few other contemporaneous comic books dealing with abortion, Abortion Eve‘s primary purpose was to educate. But for a comic dominated by technical information about surgical procedures and state laws, Abortion Eve nonetheless manages to be radical. Though abortion had so recently been illegal—and the stigma remained—the comic portrays abortion as a valid personal decision and women as moral agents fully capable of making that decision.

The comic follows five women, all named variations of “Eve,” as counselor Mary Multipary shepherds them through the process of obtaining abortions. Evelyn is an older white college professor, Eva a white dope-smoking hippie, Evie a white teenage Catholic, Eve a working Black woman, and Evita a Latina woman. Evelyn, Eve, and Evita are all married and mothers already.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Their motivations for getting an abortion differ, too. Evita and Eve, for instance, wish to protect themselves and their loved ones by keeping their families smaller. Sixteen-year-old Evie is the poster child for sexual naiveté. Pregnant after her first time having sex, she spends most of the comic wrestling with guilt. “It’s all so ugly!” she exclaims. “I thought sex was supposed to be beautiful!”

Teenager Evie, one of the characters in the comic book Abortion Eve, breaks down as counselor Mary Multipary asks questions about her pregnancy. (Joyce Farmer)

Nonplussed, the older Eves talk her through her choices. As Eve reminds her, “Like it or not, you are a woman now, and you are going to have to decide.”

In an interview with Rewire, Farmer said that the plot of Abortion Eve was a direct outgrowth of her and Chevli’s experiences in the nascent women’s health movement. Both women had started working as birth control and “problem pregnancy” counselors at the Free Clinic in Laguna Beach, California, soon after it opened in 1970. Archival documents at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute show that Chevli and Farmer visited Los Angeles abortion providers in December 1972, on a business trip for the Free Clinic. According to Farmer, one of the doctors they met approached the pair with the idea of doing a comic about abortion to publicize his clinic.

Earlier that year, the women had produced one of the first U.S. comic books written, drawn, and published by women, Tits & Clits alpha (the “alpha” distinguished the comic from subsequent issues). So they took the doctor’s idea and ran with it. They decided to use their newly founded comics publishing company, Nanny Goat Productions, to educate women, particularly teenagers, about abortion.

At the Free Clinic, Chevli and Farmer had seen all kinds of women in all kinds of situations, and Abortion Eve attempts to reflect this diversity. As Farmer noted in an interview, she and Chevli made sure that the Eves were all different races, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds in order to demonstrate that all kinds of women get abortions.

Farmer had made the choice to get an abortion herself, when her IUD failed in 1970. The mother—of a 12-year-old son—who was putting herself through college at the University of California at Irvine, she decided that she couldn’t afford another child.

California had liberalized its abortion laws with the Therapeutic Abortion Act of 1967, but the law was still far from truly liberal. Before Roe, California women seeking abortions needed doctors (a gynecologist and two “specialists in the field”) to submit recommendations on their behalf to the hospital where the abortion would take place. Then, a committee of physicians approved or denied the application. Only women who could pay for therapeutic abortions—those needed for medical reasonscould get them.

For Farmer, as for so many others, the process was onerous. After an hour, the psychiatrist who had interviewed her announced that she would not be eligible, as she was mentally fit to be a mother. Stunned, Farmer told the doctor that if he denied her an abortion, she would do it herself. Taking this as a suicide threat, her doctor quickly changed his mind. She wrote later that this experience began her political radicalization: “I was astounded that I had to prove to the state that I was suicidal, when all I wanted was an abortion, clean and safe.”

Farmer and Chevli began work on Abortion Eve before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was still illegal in many states. After the Supreme Court’s decision, they added a page for “more info” on the ruling. Yet even as they celebrated Roe, the women weren’t yet sure what would come of it.

The comic reflects a general confusion regarding abortion rights post-Roe, as well as women’s righteous anger over the fight to gain those rights. On the day of her abortion, for example, Evita tells Eve that, at five months pregnant, she just “slipped in” the gestational limits during which women could have abortions.

Eve explains that women now have the right to an abortion during the first three to six months of a pregnancy, but that the matter is far from settled in the courts. After all, Roe v. Wade said that states did have some interest in regulating abortion, particularly in the third trimester.

“I get mad when they control my body by their laws!” Eve says. “Bring in a woman, an’ if the problem is below her belly button and it ain’t her appendix, man—you got judges an’ lawyers an’ priests an’ assorted greybeards sniffin’ an’ fussin’ an’ tellin’ that woman what she gonna do an’ how she gonna do it!”

Abortion Eve Dialogue

Abortion Eve confronts the reality that abortion is a necessity if women are to live full sexual lives. Writing to the underground sex magazine Screw in September 1973 to advertise the comic, Chevli noted, “Surely if [your readers] screw as much as we hope, they must have need for an occasional abortion—and our book tells all about it.”

Six months after they published the comic, in December 1973, Chevli and Farmer traveled to an Anaheim rally in support of Roe outside the American Medical Association conference. They were met by a much larger group of abortion opponents. Chevli described the scene in a letter to a friend:

300 to 8. We weren’t ready, but we were there. Bodies … acquiescing, vulnerable females, wanting to show our signs, wanting to be there, ready to learn. Oh, Christ. Did we learn. It was exhausting. It was exciting. We were enervated, draged [sic] around, brung up, made to feel like goddesses, depressed, enlightened … bunches of intangible things. I have rarely experienced HATE to such a massive extent. 

That wasn’t the last feedback that Chevli and Farmer received about their views on abortion. In fact, during the course of Nanny Goat’s publishing stint, the majority of complaints that the independent press received had to do with Abortion Eve. Several self-identified Catholics objected to the “blasphemous” back cover, which featured MAD Magazine‘s Alfred E. Neuman as a visibly pregnant Virgin Mary with the caption: “What me worry?”

As archival documents at the Kinsey Institute show, other critics castigated Chevli and Farmer for setting a bad example for young women, failing to teach them right from wrong. One woman wrote them a letter in 1978, saying “You have not only wasted your paper, time, money, but you’ve probably aided in the decision of young impressionable girls and women who went and aborted their babies.”

Farmer and Chevli responded to such charges by first thanking their critics and then explaining their reasons for creating Abortion Eve. In another response, also in the Kinsey archives, Chevli wrote, “Whether abortion is right or wrong is not our concern because we do not want to dictate moral values to others. What we do want to do is educate others to the fact that abortion is legal, safe, and presents women with a choice which they can make.”

Today, abortion opponents like Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson (R) frame abortion as the “dismemberment” of unborn children, suggesting that women who seek abortions are, in essence, murderers. With Abortion Eve, Chevli and Farmer dared to suggest that abortion was and is an integral part of women’s social and sexual liberation. Abortion Eve is unapologetic in asserting that view. The idea that abortion could be a woman’s decision alone, made in consultation with herself, for the good of herself and of her loved ones, is as radical an idea today as it was in the 1970s.