Commentary Abortion

Congress Wants To Stop Gender Imbalance? I Recommend the PRICK Act

Robin Marty

It's time to put Congress where they will do the most good -- in our bedrooms.

Arizona Rep. Trent Franks has presented an excellent first step in thwarting any potential gender imbalance with his introduction of PRENDA, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.  The bill, which will make it a crime to abort a fetus based on its sex, is intended to “end discrimination against female babies.” But honestly, the bill is utterly unenforceable. After all, who is going to tell a doctor that they are seeking the abortion in order to eliminate a female child.

Instead, I would like to offer Franks the opportunity to present a bill that will truly fix the issue of gender discrimination in the womb, and stop this madness before it takes hold in our society.

Yes, I’m talking about the Prenatal Regulation of Interbedroom Coitus and Konception (PRICK) Act.

The PRICK Act would outlaw certain sexual behaviors that could be used by some couples in an attempt to “sway” the outcome of their coital activities to produce a baby of a specific sex. It will come as little surprise that many couples, seeking to carry on family names, guarantee a lower burden of wedding expenses, or even “balance” their families after having a series of female infants, may go to drastic lengths to try and conceive a boy child during a following pregnancy.

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Should this go on unabated, there is no doubt that girls, the forgotten sex, will continue to decrease in number in comparison to male counterparts.

Based upon the deviant “Shettles Gender Swaying” protocol, the following activities must be made illegal as soon as possible by Congress:

  • Ban the practice of timing intercourse as close to ovulation as possible: The idea is that since the Y-chromosome sperm are faster than the X-chromosome sperm, there will be more Y-chromosome sperm who reach the egg, making it more likely that a Y-chromosome carrying sperm will fertilize the egg.
  • Ban the abstention from sex for four to five days prior to ovulation. Have intercourse only just at the time of ovulation and just before.
  • Ban acts of intercourse that allow for deep penetration. Shettles recommends rear-entry (aka, “doggy-style”). The idea is that the sperm will be deposited closer to the cervix where cervical fluid is most friendly to the Y-chromosome sperm and where the “boy sperm” are more likely to survive since there is less distance to travel.
  • Make men wear tight clothing. Heat kills off both types of sperm, but will kill off the less protected, smaller Y-chromosome sperm faster when tight underwear is worn, according to Shettles, and this can affect the sex of the child.
  • Ban women from having an orgasm: According to Shettles, female orgasm increases the alkaline secretions in the vagina that are favorable to the Y-chromosome carrying sperm. Shettles recommends having an orgasm before or at the same time as the male partner.

We ask that Congress move swiftly to create a law that bans tight clothing for men, allowing only boxer shorts and airy pants to be worn. We demand Congress ban sex in any position besides the missionary position, and that they make sexual intercourse at any time except the four days prior to ovulation. And above all, we demand that Congress make it illegal for women to orgasm.

The fates of our girl babies are at stake.

Support the PRICK Act.  Get Congress in our bedrooms where they really belong.

Culture & Conversation Abortion

The Burden Is Undue: What I Have Learned and Unlearned About Abortion

Madeline Gomez

For all 29 years of my life, the right to abortion has been under attack. In early March, I slept at the Supreme Court overnight, waiting for oral arguments, and had time to reflect on the experiences that have made me an advocate.

Thirteen years before I was born, the Supreme Court declared abortion a fundamental right in Roe v. Wade. Despite this, for all 29 years of my life, the right to abortion has been under attack.

In the past six years alone, states have enacted 288 provisions restricting access to abortion care. Three years ago, the Texas state legislature enacted HB 2, an omnibus anti-abortion bill. And on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled two provisions of that law are unconstitutional.

I am a Texas native, a Latina, a lawyer, and a reproductive justice advocate, so this case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, naturally hits close to home.

In the years since HB 2 has passed, I have heard from friends who have waited weeks and been forced to drive hours just to get an appointment at a clinic. And, as my colleagues and I wrote in an amicus brief the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health filed with the Supreme Court, women of color in Texas, particularly the 2.5 million Latinas of reproductive age, have been disproportionately affected by the clinic closings resulting from the expensive, onerous, and medically unnecessary standards HB 2 imposed. For example, if the law had been allowed to go into full effect, residents of my birthplace, El Paso, Texas, where 81 percent of the population is Latinx, would have to drive over 500 miles to San Antonio in order to get an abortion in the state.

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In early March, I slept at the Court overnight, waiting for oral arguments. In the 24 hours I spent outside the Court, I had time to reflect on the experiences that have made me an advocate.

***

I am 12, with my mother and her dear friend at the dinner table. As the three of us sit together, I regale them with stories of a teacher I deeply admire. She’s been telling us about how she prays the rosary and speaks to women entering abortion clinics, urging them to “choose life.” I believe this is a good act, something I want to be part of, and I’m proud of my righteousness. My mother’s friend says to me simply, “There are a lot of reasons women have abortions.” Almost 20 years later I will learn that this friend had an abortion, which makes sense statistically speaking, since one in three women do.

I am 14 and sitting in high school religion class. The male instructor tells us that pre-marital sex and contraception are forbidden by our Catholic faith. He says the risk especially isn’t worth it for women: It is, according to him, physically impossible for women to orgasm. At the time, and still, I despair for this man’s wife, and for him. Shortly after this lesson the class watches a 45-minute “documentary” about “partial-birth abortion.” This concludes my sexual health education.

I am 18 and counting 180 seconds, waiting to see whether one or two lines appear on a white stick. In a few weeks I am moving to New York to begin college. In those 180 seconds I decide with little fanfare that, regardless of the number of lines, I will not be pregnant when I go. One line appears and I move, able to begin the education I’ve dreamed of and worked for.

I am 19 and talking with a friend. We get to a question that often comes up among women: What would you do if you got pregnant? She tells me calmly and candidly that she would have an abortion. She is the first person I’ve heard say this aloud. Her certitude resonates with me. I know that I would too, and that though I always felt I should be sorry, I would not be. I feel the weight of the shame I’ve been carrying and I stop apologizing for what I know.

I am 20 and teaching sexual education classes to high school students. More than one young woman tells me that she believes she can prevent pregnancy by spraying Coca-Cola into her vagina after intercourse. We talk about safe and effective methods of contraception. Years later, I still think about the damage and danger inflicted upon young women out of fear of our sexuality and power.

I am 21 and lying naked in bed next to a man I’ve been seeing. We’re discussing monogamy. I’m on the pill and he’d like to stop using condoms. He wants me to know, though, that if I become pregnant he won’t let me have an abortion. Because I am desperate to be loved and because I don’t yet understand that love doesn’t mean conceding your autonomy, it will take another year before I leave him.

I am 22 and my friend—the first I know oftells me she is having an abortion. After the procedure I do not know the right thing to do or say or how to comfort and support her. We will lose touch. Like 95 percent of women who have abortionsshe will not regret her choice. When we reconnect years later, we will talk about her happiness and success and about how far we’ve both come.

I am 24 and reading about Congress making a budget deal contingent on “defunding” Planned Parenthood. I understand that though I now refuse to date men who believe they have a say in my reproductive choices, I’m stuck with hundreds of representatives and senators who think they do and who will use my body and health as a bargaining chip.

I am 26 and in my home state of Texas, Wendy Davis is filibustering an anti-abortion bill with two pink tennis shoes on her feet. I watch her all night, my heart swollen with pride at hundreds of women screaming in the rotunda, refusing to be ignored. Despite their efforts, Texas HB 2 will pass. Within three years, over half the abortion clinics in Texas will close.

Today I am 29 and five justices of the Supreme Court have declared the burden imposed by two provisions of HB 2 undue. Limiting abortion and lying about the effects of these laws hurts women’s health, and now the highest court in this nation has declared these actions and these laws unacceptable and unconstitutional. I am in Washington, D.C., 1,362 miles from the home where I grew up, the day the decision is announcedbut it is not just about me and it’s not just about Texas. It is about the recognition and vindication of our worth and rights as human beings. All 162 million of us.

Commentary Abortion

A Fact-Based Guide to Resisting Anti-Choice Propaganda in the Wake of the Attack on Planned Parenthood

Andrea Grimes

The phrases being thrown around by conservative legislators and organizations aren't medical terms. They're intentionally deceptive bits of propaganda, and they create an anti-choice political frame for conversations about abortion care that are not rooted in sound science and medicine.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress video here.

After the release of a deliberately misleading cut of a video targeting Planned Parenthood for its policies regarding fetal tissue donation, the Texas Attorney General said his office is investigating Planned Parenthood for the “sale of baby body parts.” A number of other states, as well as federal lawmakers, have pledged to do the same thing for these “babies.” The Pro-Life Students Association told its members that Planned Parenthood was selling “the body parts of aborted babies.” A Personhood USA email talked about “preborn human beings.”

These aren’t medical terms. They’re intentionally deceptive bits of propaganda, and they create an anti-choice political frame for conversations about abortion care that are not rooted in sound science and medicine.

But oftentimes, even people who care deeply about reproductive rights aren’t sure how to talk about abortion in the most accurate way. Rewire talked to OB-GYNs and abortion providers—you know, actual doctors!—to compile a list of phrases and terms you’ll often hear during conversations about abortion care, their definitions, and their scientifically correct usage…if, in fact, there is a scientifically correct usage.

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Last menstrual period, LMP: For accuracy’s sake, doctors generally measure pregnancies in weeks, rather than months, and LMP is the measure by which the vast majority of medical professionals calculate the weekly development of an embryo or fetus. It is calculated from the first day of the pregnant person’s last menstrual period. In the first trimester, many doctors use both LMP and an ultrasound to date a pregnancy. However, ultrasounds become less reliable for dating purposes as a pregnancy develops, said one doctor, “because of variations in fetal growth rates as well as margin of error of the technology.” So LMP gives doctors a good overall idea of the length of the pregnancy, and ultrasounds help them monitor fetal development.

Fertilization: The process during which an egg cell (“oocyte,” the thing that ovaries produce) unites with sperm (the thing that testicles produce), to create a zygote, the earliest stage of reproductive development.

Conception: A “metaphysical” term rather than a medical term, which “centers the zygote as a being,” according to an abortion provider who talked to Rewire.

Beginning of Pregnancy: When a fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterine wall. (Or, in cases of ectopic pregnancies, which are unsustainable and life-threatening to the pregnant person, when the fertilized egg implants elsewhere.)

Gestational age: This is a deliberately misleading term (sometimes called “post-fertilization age) that is not widely accepted in scientific use and misapplies the concept of “age” to an embryo or fetus in order to imbue it with the kind of “age” we might think of a child, teenager, or grown adult having. Doctors and other medical professionals, when discussing pregnancy, are not concerned with “age” but with the duration of a pregnancy (in weeks) and the development of that pregnancy. It is generally not possible to reliably pin down the moment of fertilization, so doctors don’t try—they stick with LMP and ultrasounds.

Embryo: The stage of development, in humans, up to nine weeks’ LMP.

Fetus: The stage of development from 10 weeks after LMP until birth.

Products of conception: A medical term to describe the embryonic or fetal contents of a uterus and attendant tissues. “Products of conception isn’t a euphemism,” one abortion provider told Rewire. “It’s an actual proper term [which] encompasses fetus, umbilical cord, membranes, placenta, etc.” If products of conception are present in a uterus, it signals that a pregnancy is not ectopic, wherein a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than a uterus.

Medical, or medication, abortion: An abortion using pharmaceuticals. Most medical abortions are prescribed using a combination of mifepristone (also called Mifeprex or RU-486), which blocks the hormone progesterone (which a body needs in order to continue a pregnancy) and misoprostol (also called Cytotec), which induces contractions.

Emergency contraception: Also known as the “morning-after pill,” it is not the same thing, repeat, NOT the same thing, as a medical abortion. This medication, which can be taken up to a few days after unprotected sex—with certain limitations depending on pharmaceutical content and patient characteristics—prevents, delays, or blocks ovulation, preventing fertilization (without which there can be no fertilized egg and no pregnancy).

Dilation and curettage (D and C): Falls under the category of “surgical abortion,” is also known as an “aspiration” abortion, and is done up to about 13 weeks’ LMP. It’s a medical procedure which requires less dilation than a D and E—”It’s always safer not to enter the uterus with forceps if you don’t need to,” said one provider we spoke to—and uses a suction method to remove products of conception. Why curettage, then? Because older providers were trained to do a sharp curettage, or scraping, after suction, but abortion providers who have been trained more recently tend not to do so. The “c” part of “D and C” stays in because  the suction cannula is sometimes called a “suction curette.”

Dilation and evacuation (D and E): Falls under the category of “surgical abortion.” It’s a medical procedure which involves dilating the cervix (think 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters, as opposed to the 10 centimeters required for a full-term delivery) and a doctor entering the uterus with forceps, usually after about 14 weeks’ LMP depending on fetal development. Forceps are needed to grasp and remove the products of conception. Before the D and E procedure was developed, pregnant people would’ve had to have labor inductions in a hospital setting to facilitate the removal of fetal tissue. D and E procedures, widely misunderstood by anti-choice lawmakers, are recent targets for unnecessarily intrusive legislation that puts pregnant people at risk and prevents doctors from performing the safest possible procedures.

Partial-birth abortion: Not a thing. Well, it’s a string of words put together to make a phrase, so it’s a thing in the sense that a phrase is a noun, but medically, it has no meaning whatsoever. According to one abortion provider, it’s “not a distinction we make.” Instead, abortion providers are concerned with removing the products of conception safely. “A more intact removal, if you have adequate dilation, is safer for the patient,” said the provider, because the doctor makes fewer passes into the uterus. But it’s not something doctors can or do plan for: “You don’t deliberately set out to do an intact extraction, and sometimes you do one by accident.”

Induced abortion: When a pregnancy is ended using medication or surgical abortion care.

Self-induced abortion: When a pregnant person ends their pregnancy outside of a clinical setting.

Spontaneous abortion: A miscarriage.

Stillbirth: The spontaneous loss of a pregnancy (a miscarriage) that has developed past 20 weeks.

Viability: Many laypeople imagine the point of “viability” to mean the threshold at which a fetus is capable of surviving outside the uterus, but that threshold is different for every pregnancy, and greatly dependent on available medical care and existing technology. Generally speaking, medical professionals believe viability begins around 24 weeks’ LMP, and they take into account the likelihood not only of survival, but of disability and quality of life, when weighing potential fetal viability.

Neonate: An infant younger than four weeks old.

Baby: Not a medical term, but nevertheless a word that obstetricians and gynecologists do sometimes use when talking with patients, depending on their patient’s condition, situation, and personal preferences—not as an across-the-board replacement for “zygote,” “embryo,” or “fetus” in order to manipulate their patients’ emotions. Dr. Leah N. Torres, a Utah-based OB-GYN with a focus and training in family planning and reproductive health, told Rewire, “I change my language depending on the patient I’m caring for and their individual situation.” For people who might be losing desired pregnancies, said Torres, “that fetus has a high school diploma and is getting married once the urine test is positive”—in other words, that’s what some patients have imagined for the future—so she’s comfortable using “baby.” For someone having an abortion, Torres said she might be more likely to use “pregnancy” or “fetus.” But overall, she said, she prefers “to use the catch-all term ‘pregnancy’ which is medical and neutral and applies to all stages of the pregnancy.”

Person: A born human being who is not currently the occupant of a uterus and not therefore dependent on a human uterus for their continued development. I’ll let Torres take the rest of this one: “A person is a social or philosophical construct that, if applied to fetuses, will necessarily revoke the personhood of the pregnant person due to the ‘power’ imbalance and physical dependence of one upon the other. Miscarriage as involuntary manslaughter, if you will.”

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