I survived an illegal abortion

Fran Moreland Johns sought an abortion in 1956 following a workplace rape. Now the author of Perilous Times: An Inside Look at Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade, she survived a back-alley procedure in the days before legalization, and warns that with women’s rights under renewed assault, those grim days are returning.

Read the rest

California prisons sterilized at least 150 female inmates

While most of the sterilizations were agreed to by the women, those same women also report being heavily pressured into the surgeries. For instance, one woman reports that, in 2010, a doctor tried to convince her to have a tubal ligation while she was sedated and strapped to a surgical table for a C-section. What's more, the doctors pushing for and performing sterilizations didn't have approval from the state to do the procedures at all.

And here's the part that really stood out to me: When prison staff pushed back against the doctors in 2005 and questioned the fact that women were being sterilized, it wasn't because the staff was concerned about proper oversight or whether the women were being pushed into making decisions they wouldn't have made except under duress — it was because the staff was upset the women were getting extra medical services they didn't "deserve".

During one meeting in late 2005, a few correctional officers differed with Long’s medical team over adding tubal ligations to a local hospital’s contract, Kelsey, 57, said. The officers viewed the surgeries as nonessential medical care and questioned whether the state should pay.

“They were just fed up,” Kelsey said. “They didn’t think criminals and inmates had a right to the care we were providing them and they let their personal opinions be heard.”

The service was included, however, and Kelsey said the grumbling subsided.

You can read the rest of journalist Corey Johnson's story at The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Desert Sun. There's also a report on the matter recently published by The California State Auditor.

Hobby Lobby, IUDs, and the facts

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide later this year whether a corporation can have religious beliefs. Maggie Koerth-Baker looks at the science of birth control, and how it might inform the debate.

Read the rest

Powerful poetry slam piece on choice, rape and personhood

Personhood, Lauren Zuniga's 2012 performance at the Urbana Poetry Slam, is a powerful piece about choice, social justice, reproductive rights, and rape [TW]. Set against the backdrop of Rick Santorum's remarks on rape (calling pregnancies arising from rape a "gift from God"), the performance tries to bridge the gap between Zuniga's life and beliefs and her conservative grandfather's staunch opposition to choice on abortion.

Lauren Zuniga's "Personhood" (via Wil Wheaton)

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Great Moments in Lady-Parts Science - Todd Akin's Startling Discovery

Help sustain Tom the Dancing Bug, by @RubenBolling, by joining the INNER HIVE.

Read the rest

Help fund Lizz Winstead's PSA for reproductive rights

Lizz Winstead is raising money to make a PSA about reproductive rights.  She's a writer, comedian, asskicker and one of the creators of The Daily show. I believe her that she will get this thing made and then get it seen.

Lizz says:

By helping me create this campaign we will be reminding America just how much erosion we are seeing in the area of reproductiove rights and we all know that humor poking at the underbelly of dipshittery makes a HUGE impact.

Sounds about right to me. Give what you can here - Lizz has less than 7 hours to meet her goal.

Quien es mas malo: Tennessee vs Arizona

Tennessee and Arizona have been locked in a race to see which state can past the worst, most invasive, least constitutional anti-woman and racist legislation. In case you've lost track of which state is winning the race to the bottom, Skepchick provides a helpful scorecard. Arizona makes a strong showing, but I think that, for the moment, Tennessee is in the lead for most barbaric state in the union.

Also this week, Tennessee senators approved an update to the state’s abstinence-only education policy – which, I should add, doesn’t work seeing as the state has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country – which would outlaw the teaching of “gateway sexual activity.” I know what you’re thinking: what is this “gateway sex” all the kids are talking about? Is it as awesome as oral?

According to Tennessee legislatures, “gateway sexual activities” are kissing and hand holding. You know, things that small children do. Joyous things that bring us closer together, as humans. Ways we express affection every day. Evil.

The bill would warn teens about the dangers of kissing and hand holding, and prohibit teachers from demonstrating such activities. I’m not really clear on whether that means a teacher would be fired for, say, kissing his wife when she picks him up at the end of the day. And what about the teachers of small children who need their hand held every now and again? Off limits? Again, unsure.

What I am sure about is that a bill effectively warning teens about affection is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. But what do you think? Is Arizona worse for increasingly limiting the rights women have over their own bodies, or is Tennessee worse for providing us with a future world full of idiots who think evolution and global warming are myths and holding hands is a sin?

Tennessee vs Arizona: Which is the Worst?

Doc blasts mandatory transvaginal ultrasound laws

An anonymous MD has a guest-post on John Scalzi's blog describing her/his medical outrage at being asked to perform medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds on women seeking abortion, in accordance with laws proposed and passed by several Republican-dominated state legislatures. As the doctor writes, "If I insert ANY object into ANY orifice without informed consent, it is rape. And coercion of any kind negates consent, informed or otherwise." The article is a strong tonic and much-welcome -- the ethics of medical professionals should not (and must not) become subservient to cheap political stunting, and especially not when political stunt requires doctors' complicity in state-ordered sexual assaults.

1) Just don’t comply. No matter how much our autonomy as physicians has been eroded, we still have control of what our hands do and do not do with a transvaginal ultrasound wand. If this legislation is completely ignored by the people who are supposed to implement it, it will soon be worth less than the paper it is written on.

2) Reinforce patient autonomy. It does not matter what a politician says. A woman is in charge of determining what does and what does not go into her body. If she WANTS a transvaginal ultrasound, fine. If it’s medically indicated, fine… have that discussion with her. We have informed consent for a reason. If she has to be forced to get a transvaginal ultrasound through coercion or overly impassioned argument or implied threats of withdrawal of care, that is NOT FINE.

Our position is to recommend medically-indicated tests and treatments that have a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio… and it is up to the patient to decide what she will and will not allow. Period. Politicians do not have any role in this process. NO ONE has a role in this process but the patient and her physician. If anyone tries to get in the way of that, it is our duty to run interference.

Guest Post: A Doctor on Transvaginal Ultrasounds