Marcy Bloom

GIRE

Marcy Bloom is recipient of the 2006 William O. Douglas Award, the ACLU of Washington’s highest honor. The award is given for outstanding, consistent, and sustained contributions to civil liberties. A courageous advocate for civil liberties, Marcy Bloom has long been a leader in safeguarding the fundamental right to reproductive freedom. Bloom served for 18 years as the executive director and guiding force of the Aradia Women’s Health Center, Seattle’s first nonprofit abortion and gynecological health center, and a model for clinics nationwide.

Her activism spans the history of the reproductive rights movement. Bloom was on the front lines at a time when reproductive rights were not yet protected, helping women to locate safe providers and personally guiding them to states where abortions were legal and accessible. In the decades that followed, she dedicated herself to making health care and reproductive services available to all women.

In addition to her visionary role in shaping Aradia, she stood up to picketing and threats by anti-choice forces, assisted in exam rooms, lobbied the legislature, carried speculums to clinics in Mexico, and sat on the steering committee that oversaw the passage of Initiative 120, Washington’s reproductive freedom law.

She is also now doing U.S. advocacy and capacity building for a Mexico-City based organization GIRE – El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice. GIRE seeks to decriminalize and destigmatize abortion and works toward the expansion of reproductive justice and respectful, safe reproductive health services for all the women of Latin America.


All Work

(VIDEO) The Forsaken Women of the Philippines: The Hardship, Humiliation, and Hypocrisy of Unsafe Abortion

Marcy Bloom

Although perhaps not completely shocking to those of us in the reproductive health and justice movement, the encompassing newly published Forsaken Lives: The Harmful Impact of the Philippine Criminal Abortion Ban by the innovative Center for Reproductive Rights is both incredibly powerful and devastating as it discusses in detail “the human suffering caused by the criminal ban on abortion [in the Philippines] and the challenges it creates for health service providers.”

We Already Have an Abortion Pride Movement

Marcy Bloom

When we discuss abortion as an honorable and loving choice that helps women to become better mothers in the future, we are showing respect, understanding, and support for the complexity of women's choices.

“Jailhouse Journal” of an Abortion Provider

Marcy Bloom

What motivates an abortion provider? What brings an individual to this important - and regretfully still controversial - practice of medicine? The answers are as varied as the brave doctors who do the work of helping women.

What Is a Woman Worth? The Feminization of AIDS

Marcy Bloom

HIV infections among women and girls have risen in every part of the world in recent years. The numbers point to a startling reality - the HIV/AIDS pandemic is inextricably linked to the brutal effects of sexism and gender inequality, most pronounced in Africa.

Far From a Victimless Crime

Marcy Bloom

Unequivocally, prostitution, in every manifestation, is a human rights violation and violence against women and girls everywhere. And we need to say so.

“Broken Justice” : Race, Abortion, and Misogyny

Marcy Bloom

"Broken Justice: A True Story of Race, Sex and Revenge in a Boston Courtroom" -- the autobiography of a brave physician fighting for his freedom, career, and principles -- recounts an important part of reproductive justice history that may change the reader as much as it changed its author.

Need Abortion, Will Travel

Marcy Bloom

Many pregnant women and girls are virtually forced to become abortion tourists. Though the term is often used in sexist and disparaging ways, what it really reveals is that women's reproductive health needs are being ignored.

The Transformation of Emily Lyons

Marcy Bloom

The clinic bombing that maimed Emily Lyons ten years ago today transformed her from an apolitical and quiet nurse to a fierce and outspoken champion of choice and women's lives.

Witch-Hunt Against Spain’s Abortion Clinics

Marcy Bloom

On January 7, abortion providers in Spain stated to the world that they will not be victims of governmental persecution and anti-choice manipulation. They decided to go on strike, accepting only "emergency" cases.

The Truth About Abortion and Mental Health

Marcy Bloom

The right to abortion and access to safe abortion care has been extraordinarily politicized in the US (and elsewhere) for decades now and women’s physical and psychological needs have been caught in the cross-fire. A new book places those needs front and center.

Killing for “Honor” – and Control of Women

Marcy Bloom

So-called "honor killings" or "honor crimes" are but one extreme and horrific form of violence against women and are executed for instances of rape, infidelity, flirting, or any other behavior even perceived as violating community norms or traditions of behavior and disgracing the family's honor.

Remembering Rosie: We Will Not Forget You

Marcy Bloom

The Hyde Amendment killed Rosie Jiménez. She died thirty years ago today, and we remember her because she has become a symbol of all women and girls everywhere who are denied their human right to safe, legal, funded, and accessible abortion care.

Birmingham Blues: Part 2

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom shares stories from her experience in Birmingham, Alabama -- including Emily Lyons' perspective and highlighting the different groups who came together to protect women.

The Invisible Irish Abortion

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom examines the stigma and silence that still surrounds abortion in Ireland, despite the fact that every year thousands of Irish women and girls "make the journey" elsewhere to access abortions.

The Woman in the Photo

Marcy Bloom

June 8th marks the 43rd Anniversary of Gerri Santoro’s death. Her image became iconic for the abortion rights movement, but not many who know about her death are familiar with her life.

Contraception in Mexico

Marcy Bloom

Mexico, the second most populous country in Latin America, has a critical need for contraception, but is unable to meet the demand due to social and economic factors. Access and education must be improved so that women may live in dignity—and equality with men.

Ultrasounds Like Emotional Blackmail

Marcy Bloom

Many bills to restrict reproductive health have been introduced in state legislatures this year; one of the more oppressive types would force pregnant women to view their ultrasounds before receiving abortions.

Sterilization Abuse of Roma Women

Marcy Bloom

The Roma people, also known as Gypsies or Romani, have historically been discriminated against and there is evidence that Roma women continue to be pressured and misled into coerced sterilization; now they are speaking out about this abuse.

The Hidden Heartbreak: Obstetric Fistula

Marcy Bloom

Imagine being a child bride, no older than 14, sexually inexperienced, married to a much older man, becoming pregnant quickly, and going into labor all by yourself. Isolated from any possible medical help and safe birthing interventions, you labor alone for days on end, screaming in excruciating pain. The fetus gets stuck in your small, too narrow pelvis during this agonizing prolonged and obstructed labor. The severe pressure of the fetal head against your pelvis cuts off the blood supply to the tissues of your vagina and your bladder (and/or frequently your rectum too), causing the tissues to die and a perforation or hole, known as a fistula, to form.

Such is the reality of obstetric fistula, which is now unknown in the United States because of the surgical intervention of Cesarean sections. But in the developing world, access to any kind health care, including obstetrical care, is rare, and fistula is common. As a result, the girl/woman is left with chronic incontinence and the baby is almost always born dead, compounding the tragedy.

“This Custom Can Only Be Brought to an End with the Power of Islam”

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for GIRE—El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also called female genital cutting (FGC), refers to the cutting, removal, and sometimes sewing of part or all of the external female genital tissue (the labia, clitoris, or both) for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. This traditional practice affects an estimated 130 million girls and women worldwide, mainly in 28 African countries, but also in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Australia, and the United States. It is estimated that every year 2 million more girls (that is 6,000 girls every day) are at risk from the practice. One out of three girls or women die as a result of the most extreme type of FGM/C that is classified by the World Health Organization as Type III. This is where the external genitalia are partially or completely removed and the vaginal orifice is stitched together, leaving only a small opening for urination and menstruation.

Abortion Rights Are Human Rights, Part Two

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for GIRE - El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.

Earlier, I wrote about the evolution of abortion rights as basic human rights and how that legal strategy can potentially be used to change laws in many countries, with the ultimate goal to end the tragically high maternal mortality rates around the world.

I will continue now with a discussion of how four human rights specifically apply to the need for safe and legal abortion.

Abortion Rights Are Human Rights, Part One

Marcy Bloom

Over the years, I have come to appreciate the reproductive health and justice movement as an international feminist and human rights struggle. There are a myriad of connections and lessons. We can all learn from each other.

The public health statistics of abortion restriction and illegal abortion in the world are grim. But we can use these numbers—which represent real flesh-and-blood women—to inspire us to make changes.

Movie Review: The Tragedy and Triumph of “Rosita”

Marcy Bloom

Talk about a film that has all of the elements of great human drama and pits the marginalized against the powerful. Such is the story of "Rosita," an hour-long documentary by award-winning filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater.

In January 2003, the international press broke the story of a pregnant 9-year-old Nicaraguan girl who had been raped in Costa Rica. Rosita, as she comes to be called to preserve her anonymity, is the daughter of illiterate campesinos who had moved to Costa Rica to pick coffee, the classic story of impoverished immigrants seeking a better life. Rosita is a carefree and intelligent 8-year-old girl who loves her life in the country and loves dolls, dogs, chicken, and hens. She is in the second grade and learning to read and write; she paints and draws the world around her, and is elected "Miss Congeniality" at her school. Her child's world is shattered when she is raped by a 22-year-old neighbor who lures her into his home with promises of sweet tangerines and colorful TV shows.

The Manipulation of ‘Post-Abortion Syndrome’: Part Two

Marcy Bloom

Last week I discussed the manipulative tactics that are the foundation behind the propagation of the so-called "post-abortion syndrome" and my own experiences over the course of 34 years counseling women who need support and affirmation of their choice of abortion. What did we talk about in these "post-abortion counseling" sessions? Most women—some brought their male partners—simply wanted to talk and affirm their decisions because they weren't confident that they could trust anyone in their lives with this "shameful secret." Some women felt sad and were looking for resolution for the loss. A few felt doubt about their decision. We talked about what had changed from the day of the abortion to the present. What were they missing in their heads and hearts? What was happening in the rest of their live? How was their primary relationship (if there was one) affected by the experience of abortion? Where they searching for the road not taken—was "the baby that will not be" a fantasy unfulfilled? What would she say to "the baby" if she could? What ritual or process would be healing and helpful to say let go and truly say good-bye? When appropriate—if the woman raised the themes of faith—we would discuss religion and God. I referred to God as not punishing, but loving, and told them that he/she understands what we need to do to survive, live, and care for the others in our lives. I believe God grasps the profundity of our decisions and acknowledges abortion as a moral and loving choice.

The Manipulation of ‘Post-Abortion Syndrome’: Part One

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for GIRE - El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.

As the 34th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade was approaching last week, I was both intrigued and surprised by the extensive January 21st New York Times Magazine cover piece entitled "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" To a certain extent, the article did attempt to cover both sides of the issue on whether or not this syndrome actually exists. However, the "star" and true centerpiece of the article is a 53-year-old woman named Rhonda Arias who describes herself as an "abortion recovery counselor." Her work began fifteen years ago when she had "what she describes as a revelation from God...she decided that her own pain and unhappiness were rooted in the abortion she had...when she was 19...it was like I'd done the worst thing I could possibly do...a piece of evil had entered me."

‘Women Shouldn’t Let Themselves Be Humiliated”: Abortion in Mexico

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for GIRE - El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.

I recently had the honor of hearing the powerful remarks of Maria Luisa Sanchez Fuentes, a prominent Mexican feminist and the executive director of the Mexico-City based GIRE. This amazing organization, Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/ The Information Group on Reproductive Choice, has been advocating for reproductive justice and the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico since 1992. GIRE's mission is to contribute to the recognition, respect, and defense of reproductive rights, in particular abortion rights, which upholds women's free choice. Ms. Sanchez Fuentes describes her inspiring work as an extraordinarily difficult battle for a more humanitarian world that truly respects women's rights and lives.

The New Scarlet Letter

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for GIRE - El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.

>When I was in high school, I read "The Scarlet Letter" and was intrigued by its dark and stormy themes. Published in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne narrates the story of Hester Prynne, the heroine accused of adultery in Puritan New England who is forced to wear the scarlet letter "A" as a symbol of her sin. Filled with alienation, secrecy, judgment, religious hypocrisy, and self-insight, it captured my interest.
It still does. ‘The Scarlet Letter" is all about hiding the truth.

Today the new scarlet letter is the alienation and stigma that still surrounds abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, thirty-five percent of US women will have at least one abortion before they are forty-five years old. This makes abortion the most common surgical procedure in the country. In addition, 52% of Americans know someone who has had an abortion. Yet, women still whisper when they talk about their abortion experiences - if they talk about them at all.

Contemporary Women’s Hell

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for GIRE - El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.

[img_assist|nid=1642|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=99|height=100]Over the years I have contemplated and written about the critical importance of destigmatizing abortion in US culture. That mission has now expanded to the international realm. So, when I discovered a 2005 document from the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, "Contemporary Women's Hell: Polish Women's Stories," I was intrigued.

A sad and tragic title, but one that all too accurately describes the current painful abortion situation in Poland, as well as in far too many parts of the world.

What About Women’s Pain?

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for a Mexico-City based organization GIRE - El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.

Today, the lame duck House of Representatives will vote on a scientifically biased and deceptive bill that is yet one more attempt to drive women away from making the choice of abortion in an atmosphere of compassion and respect. Instead of real information and support, the inaccurately named "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act" forces doctors and health care providers to give women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks or more of pregnancy inflammatory and manipulative misinformation written by anti-choice legislators. The express intent of this last-ditch restrictive attempt by the current Congress is clearly to extend the concept of rights to the fetus, to frighten women, and to distort information that might truly be helpful in allowing women to make the best decisions possible when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.

The Woman in the Red Smock

Marcy Bloom

Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for a Mexico-City based organization GIRE - El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice. She was formerly executive director of Aradia Women’s Health Center.

Often your life can be transformed by people you have never met.

In 1962, when I was eleven years old, a Phoenix, Arizona woman named Sherri Finkbine was denied the ability to have an abortion in her hometown even after discovering that her pregnancy was likely to be seriously deformed. Mrs. Finkbine (there was no Ms. yet) had taken the medication thalidomide to alleviate her nausea before learning that the drug had been linked to serious fetal deformities in Europe. After being denied an abortion in Arizona, she flew to Sweden. I clearly remember the headlines: "Tearful Sherri off to Sweden." She and her family received death threats, the press hounded her, and when she returned home, the headlines blared: "Abortion mother returns home."

I wasn't sure what an abortion mother was. But I did understand that the pregnancy she was carrying was very sick, that she was very sad and upset, and that this operation called an abortion could only be obtained far away.

I didn't understand why her own doctors at home couldn't help her. I was eleven years old and I was also very upset.

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