Sunday, October 26, 2008


So I haven't really had any time for blogging since I got my first full-time job (hooray for me!), but I thought it would be useful to post the link to my favorite voter resource:

Have no idea what to vote or who to give your vote in local, state, or even national politics? The site outlines everything on your ballot (customized after entering your address), and gives you all the information you need to make an informed vote.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Too brilliant not to post

Samantha Bee on Sara Palin and choice:

Republican hypocrisy runs rampant:

(especially when it comes to Hillary)

(and yes, I am running just a tad behind on my blogging...)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quick Hit: Sarah Palin's Record

Emily's List presents:

The Five Facts You Should Know about Sarah Palin's Record

Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Palin, and Teen Pregnancy

So I’m reading my Glamour Daily Gossip email and I see a story about Lindsay Lohan giving her two cents on the scandal of the day - Sarah Palin’s unmarried pregnant teenage daughter. Great, I think, another Paris Hilton-style bit of manufactured commentary. Turns out, in the words of Guanabee, “she’s apparently not an idiot.”

Says Lindsay on her MysSace blog:

“I've been watching the news all morning, like everyone else - and i keep hearing about the issues related to 'teen pregnancy' - It's all related to Sarah Palin and her 17 year old unmarried pregnant daughter. Well, I think the real problem comes from the fact that we are taking the focus off of getting to know Sarah Palin and her political views, and what she can do to make our country a less destructive place… I get Sarah Palin's views against abortion, but i would much prefer to hear more about what she can do for our country rather than how her daughter is going to have a child no matter what….”

True, we should be focusing on the issues and not on scandals that don’t effect someone’s qualifications to hold office, but I am happy that this particular scandal at least shows that the ideals of the pro-life movement don’t work in the real world.

Frankly it doesn’t surprise me that someone so staunchly anti-abortion and pro-abstinence until marriage has a pregnant teenage daughter - and I’m sure she isn’t alone. It makes me laugh that she wants the media to give her daughter the same privacy as other candidates’ kids when her daughter clearly isn’t just another candidate’s kid - other kids (usually) don't embody the failure of their parents' policies. Also, the Obamas tend to keep their girls out of the public eye.

It’s easy to berate pre-marital sex, birth control and abortion until your kid’s the one that’s pregnant. But Palin’s daughter is keeping her baby, regardless of whether she, herself, wants it, because her mother is now known on the national stage as a member of Feminists for Life, a group beautifully described by Guanabee as “an anti-abortion group that loosely interprets the word feminism to fool young women into having babies they can’t afford.”

But back to Lindsay Lohan:

“On another note… i heard a woman say on TODAY on NBC that teens are feeling as if they have to grow up faster. Really? Because, i think that girls that are CHOOSING to be sexually active and are making a conscious decision to grow up faster..... I think that parents need to recognize how important it is to talk to their children about the things that can result from being sexually active if they aren't protecting themselves (birth control, condoms, etc.)”


In other celebrity/Sarah Palin news, fellow famous (formerly) somehow-I’m-not-surprised-she’s-pregnant teen Jalie Lynn Spears reportedly sent Bristol Palin a gift. Or her mom had a store send something for her. Or something.

One more thing. Can I just point out that Sarah Palin is the current governor of Alaska and the mother of a five-month-old? Do governors get maternity leave? It's a 24-hour type job so I wonder how that works. Also, did anyone else see the five-month-old on stage at the the announcement of her candidacy? What mother in her right mind purposely brings a five-month-old into a room full of hundreds of loudly applauding and screaming people???? I'm not a mother and don't plan to be for a while, but does anyone else find these things a bit disturbing?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What to Expect When You're Aborting: A Must Read

*Cross posted on Choice Words

I just want to say a big “thank you” to Hannah for her post on Choice Words about What to Expect When You’re Aborting, a blog were a 23-year-old woman describes her experience getting an abortion, starting with a picture of the positive pregnancy test and continuing through the morning sickness and doctors appointments.

She makes the process real by describing not only her thoughts but what her body is going through. Somehow it never occurred to me that women who have abortions are still pregnant until they get the abortion - I mean, obviously they’re still pregnant, but I never thought about them experiencing all the symptoms of pregnancy and the body changes that occur up until the day of the abortion.

I also love her discussions of abortion in pop culture and the way the extreme politicization of abortion effects women who get them. She says in one post that she doesn’t want to engage in debate - she just wants to create a blog she thought should exist so other women in her situation can know what to expect and compare their situation to hers.

In another post she mentions that it’s almost impossible to say that she’s having an abortion without it starting a political discussion. With abortion being such a controversial and divisive topic, we argue endlessly about legislation and the right to choose, usually talking about abortion in abstract terms, and forget that for many women abortion is a personal experience, not a political statement. From that point of view it seems odd that we politicize a private event in a woman’s life.

I fully support her search for another word to label the experience of getting an abortion. Let abortion be a word we use in politics, and let’s find another word that fits the real-life experience - nothing clinical like “terminating a pregnancy,” or silly or slang not everyone is cool enough to use, but something casual so that a woman can tell her friend what’s going on without the gasps and looks of horror.

This blog is truly revolutionary. I’d love to see it inspire an online community for women having abortions where they can share their experiences, ask questions, and find support from women in similar situations. Like Hannah said, the story of this one woman puts a face on women who have abortions so we can see that real women - not hypothetical slutty girls - have abortions, and thanks to this blog, those real women can know they’re not alone.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Giving rights to the [Guantanamo] detainees 'will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed,' Justice Antonin Scalia said in a scathing dissent he read from the bench.

No one threw that line back at Scalia in the guns case."

- Mark Sherman, Associated Press

   Long quiet, justices end their term with a growl

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Are You Effing Kidding Me?

The Daily Show on why Obama lost West Virginia. The comments from voters leave me speechless, and that's pretty darn hard to do.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC Endorses Obama

Breaking news!!! I was so excited to hear - or read, actually, since I got the announcement via text message - that NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC has endorsed Obama for president. In an email announcement, NARAL President Nancy Keenan said, “I believe that Sen. Obama is the leader who can unify our country behind commonsense ways to prevent unintended pregnancy.” She explained that they made the announcement today to end McCain’s “free ride on the issue of choice,” adding that “we cannot let one more day go by without comparing Sen. Obama’s fully pro-choice record to Sen. McCain’s anti-choice record.” You can read more about their endorsement in their press release.

Though Obama’s record on choice isn’t that different from Hillary’s, I support Obama as a pro-choice candidate because of his rhetoric. When he said Roe v. Wade is “a matter of equal rights for women,” I practically jumped out of my seat, because that is exactly what I believe - that women will never truly be equal until society believes in their ability to making their own decisions. As a candidate that not only understands this concept but expresses it publicly, Obama definitely deserves NARAL’s endorsement.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lois Capps Rocks My World

*Cross posted on Choice Words

It’s always nice to be reminded that my Congressional Representative, Lois Capps, is pretty awesome. One of her latest acts of awesomeness is testifying before the Oversight Committee during the
Abstinence-Only Education hearings.

She talked about her time as a school nurse, her experience working with a program for teen mothers continuing at their own high school, and her participation in curriculum review panels for sex-ed in Santa Barbara.

One fact she cited was that half of high school students have had sex, and over 60% of high school seniors have had sex. Given this, she said it is irresponsible if not dangerous to withhold information on sexual health to kids who are already sexually active and may already be parents.

She also cited a study that showed students exposed to an abstinence-only curriculum showed no change in sexual behavior, and compared to the control group were less likely to feel they have a right to refuse to have sex with someone. That’s right. Our nation’s abstinence-only curriculums teach kids — probably just the girls — that they don’t have a right to refuse sex. The fact that nationally approved curriculums are spreading rape myths makes me want to scream.

Another thing that makes me want to scream? That the testimony in-favor of abstinence-only education is often something like: the science on this issue does not match the morals of my family. Hmm, here’s a simple answer: teach your morals in your home and keep them out of our nation’s schools!

Really, is it so much to ask for the abstinence-only crowd to yield to the vast majority of Americans who favor comprehensive sex-ed and just teach their kids about their family’s morals at home? It’s not like comprehensive sex-ed is anti-abstinence – in fact most curriculums stress abstinence as the best way to avoid STIs (thought it only works as long as you’re abstinent!).

So here is a video of Lois Capps testifying that comprehensive sex-ed is the way to go. It’s a bit hard to hear, but totally worth watching. Also, click here to see other people testify, including* sex-ed rock star Shelby Knox, and if you haven’t seen The Education of Shelby Knox see it ASAP because it’s just that good.

*Actually, the Shelby Knox video doesn’t work, but can be seen here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thought of the Day

It always makes me laugh when companies use sex to sell things that are anything but sexy. Take the latest Tylenol commercial - all the people in bed are naked and showing some skin. Given, I have nothing against sleeping in then nude, but in a Tylenol commercial? Really?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Quick hit: Missing Pretty White Girl Syndrome

Thanks to my DVR, I just caught up on my Daily Show watching. While talking about the Rev. Wright media frenzy, Jon Stewart made a short but potent reference to another ridiculous media phenomenon:

"Rev. Wright is dominating cable news like a missing white girl."

Sad but true my friend. Sad but true.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scientology and Reproductive Injustice

So last night I was watching a Nightline story about Scientology escapees, and while most of their stories were disturbing, one infuriated me. Apparently women in Sea Organization, which is Scientology’s clergy, aren’t allowed to have children. Women who get pregnant either have to leave the church or have an abortion.

Forced abortion??? Are you kidding me???

One woman they interviewed said that when she told a “church” official she was leaving, he responded “Oh is it too late for an abortion?”

I’m so frustrated with this situation because cults like Scientology are so impenetrable that I can’t think of any way to stop this.

On a not wholly unrelated note, Scientology brings up an interesting point in the “contentious objection” debate: if it’s ok for Christian pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and the morning after pill because of their religious beliefs, does that mean it’s ok for Scientologists not to fill prescriptions for psychiatric medications because of theirs? Just think about that one for me.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Blog for Fair Pay

*Cross-posted at Choice Words

Blog for Fair PayNext week the Senate will vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. If passed, the act will reverse the effects of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, the 2007 decision which ruled that those who want to sue for pay discrimination must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days “after the unlawful employment practice occurred,” which basically means as soon as they start getting unequal pay.

Ledbetter completely overturned the long held rule that each unequal paycheck is a separate act of discrimination. What is ridiculous about this decision is that unless you ask all your coworkers (or maybe just your white male coworkers) what exactly they are paid each time you get a paycheck, how are you supposed to know when you first start receiving unequal pay? Most people only find out that they are being underpaid long after their unequal salary was set. This ruling basically punishes the victim for trusting her company to pay her fairly by not awarding back pay for all the years she was paid less than others with the same job.

Please take action!!! Email and call your senators and ask them to vote for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Our futures depend on it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

They're Trying to Kill Us

The Daily Show's Jason Jones on how the Bush Administration is trying to kill us all. There's a saying that goes something like, never call conspiracy what you can attribute to incompetence - but is it possible to be this incompetent?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kansas' anti-choice legislative circus

*Cross posted on Choice Words

Given the multitude of anti-choice ridiculousness that comes out of Kansas, I wasn’t too surprised when I read about Kansas House Bill 2737, which has been called the requisite “abortion bill” of the session.

Unlike the usual bills that propose waiting periods or parental notification (both of which are law in Kansas), this bill seems to exist only to excite people with a wedge issue since it includes ridiculous provisions the supporters can’t (I would hope) be serious about enacting.

ProKanDo CEO Julie Burkhart describes the bill as “overbroad, frighteningly vague and in some parts, unconstitutional” in her piece:

For example, one provision stipulates that a relative, an elected official, a law enforcement officer, or a district attorney can file for injunctive relief to prevent a woman from obtaining reproductive health-care services. Further, a relative can file a civil suit against a practitioner after or even before a procedure has taken place. A county or district attorney from any county can gain access to private medical records regardless of whether he/she has grounds for a case. Ten or more citizens can demand a report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment if they feel they aren’t getting enough information.

Burkhart believes the bill is being used by incumbents to reaffirm their status as anti-choice legislators and shield their campaign from attack by the anti-choice lobby. I can only hope that is all they want this bill to do.

Bills like this are some of the worst kind of politics. They are a complete waste of time, especially when their writers have no intention for them to pass. They distract both representatives and their constituents from more important legislation that can actually accomplish something tangible. They aren’t meant to benefit their constituents in any way – they are completely self-serving vehicles for politicians to increase their support and rile up their base.

A bill like this passing would be devastating. My only hope would be for its supporters to be voted out of office once people see the effects of the bill, and for them to have to admit that the bill was never meant to be passed.

In happy Kansas news, congrats to KU men’s basketball on their NCAA victory!

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Raisin in the Sun and feminist history

*Cross posted on Choice Words

I was really happy with the new version of A Raisin in the Sun that was on ABC in February. While I was disappointed that they left out one of my favorite lines from the play – a climactic moment in which the family matriarch Lena explains that in times of desperation there’s nothing a woman won’t do for her family, including getting an abortion – I was happy to see that they expanded the abortion plot line.

In the original play we only find out that Ruth is having an abortion when she lets slip that the doctor she saw about her pregnancy was a she. The play debuted in 1959, 14 years before Roe v. Wade, so abortion was illegal in the time of the play. During this time there weren’t female gynecologists, so "female doctor" referred to an abortion provider. In this case, that female doctor is a member of Jane.

Jane began as Abortion Counseling Service in 1969 with a phone number whose answering machine told the caller they’d reached “Jane.” Advertised entirely by word of mouth, the women of Jane counseled callers on their decision to have an abortion and gave referrals to abortion providers.

The women later learned to assist in abortion procedures and set up a midwife service so women facing complications wouldn’t have to go to a hospital and admit to having an illegal abortion.

Jane members saw that the high price of abortion at that time (about $500) was a financial burden and prohibitive for some women, and after finding out that not all the providers they knew were certified doctors, they decided to learn how to do abortions themselves. Over the years, the Jane network illegally performed more than 12,000 abortions. The women collected a $25 donation from patients who could afford to pay in full, which was added to an abortion fund to make the procedure accessible to all women.

In the original version of A Raisin in the Sun we never see Ruth meeting with the abortion provider, but in this new version we see Ruth enter a beauty parlor where, after a discrete conversation, she is led upstairs to the owner’s apartment for the abortion procedure. This might have just been an attempt to show characters outside house since the entire play takes place on one set, but I like that it tells more about this history of abortion during this period – that the only female doctors were abortion providers, that women learned to provide abortions outside of hospitals, and that abortion being illegal didn’t stop it from happening.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Egg + Sperm = Person? Um, no.

*Cross posted on Choice Words

This is a little late, but since the issue of protecting fertilized eggs (implanted or not) is an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away, I thought I’d add my proverbial two cents.

Rebecca posted a week ago about former (!) presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s endorsement of a Colorado ballot initiative that would amend the state’s constitution to define a fertilized egg as a person.

Obviously, this bill is aimed at making abortion illegal, but that’s only one of the problems I have with the whole fertilized egg as a person idea.

First, this concept is based on the idea that life begins at conception, which is either impossible or tragic. Medically speaking, pregnancy begins at implantation – this is the point where fetal development begins and is required for a positive pregnancy test. Pregnancy cannot begin before implantation because not all fertilized eggs implant. Then there is the issue of ectopic pregnancies, which cannot be carried to term and have to be terminated or the fallopian tube in which the egg is implanted will burst. It would be a tragedy, then, if a life was lost each time a fertilized egg failed to implant, or implanted in the wrong location.

Next, how on earth are they going to enforce this? How will they know if an egg is fertilized and doesn’t implant? Will they be checking women’s discharge to make sure it doesn’t contain any fertilized eggs? Will the government monitor women’s cycles and the results of intercourse during ovulation?

Finally, what will the punishments be? Will women or their doctors be charged with murder for terminating ectopic pregnancies or will doctors have to wait for a woman’s fallopian tube to burst before they can operate? Will women be charged with manslaughter for miscarrying? What about women who don’t get pregnant when they’re trying or when their birth control fails? Could a woman be charged with murder if she has sex while fully aware that her uterus is hostile to implantation? Will the men involved in these fertilizations be charged along with the women?

These may sound like ridiculous questions but they are the very real implications of laws that define fertilized eggs as people. If law makers are serious about this issue, they could at least be practical and change the definition to an implanted fertilized egg, or perhaps a viable pregnancy since their ultimate goal here is to make abortion illegal.

It really irks me that anti-choice leaders write all these ridiculous laws and hide behind their claim of protecting women rather than admit that what they’re really trying to do is make abortion illegal, and in the mean time they’re trying to make legal abortion impossible.

For a slightly more humorous take on the issue, check out this awesome cartoon at The Boiling Point.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Love your body!

One of the things I care about most is body image. My dream is to one day be the editor of a magazine that helps girls develop and maintain a healthy body image. I've been told it's impossible, but I refuse to believe that. Unfortunately, girls who have a healthy body image today are few and far between. It took me years to develop a positive body image, and it still requires regular maintenance.

NOW, the National Organization for Women developed a great quiz about body image and a slide show about images of women in the media.

Take the quiz:
Take the Body Image Quiz

Friday, February 22, 2008

I ♥ Eli Stone

So the show may be really unrealistic in its portrayals of a doctor treating his own brother, a lawyer being engaged to his opposing counsel, or inter-office dating, but I love it for the issues it addresses like autism, the effects of pesticides, and war-torn families. Then there are moments like this, taken from the last episode, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."

Defense Attorney: We have a separation of Church and State.
Eli: That's still around? It's hard to tell with the current administration.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

¡Viva Obama!

The other day while discussing the race for the Democratic nomination, someone mentioned that Hispanics are voting for Clinton. I don’t know where this idea came from, particularly because I voted for Obama, but I’m really tired of the idea that all minorities think as a group, and those of us who fit into more than one category – say, Hispanic women – are at odds with which category should decide our vote.

In celebration of breaking the stereotype, here are two awesome videos promoting Amigos de Obama:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Charles Barkley takes on "Fake Christians"

*Cross posted on Choice Words

I was really excited to see this clip of Charles Barkley talking about being pro-choice and for gay marriage. Since I’m so outspokenly political, it always makes me happy to see celebrities advocate for their pet causes, thought luckily I’ve yet to be turned off by one of my favorite celebrity’s political views. I think it’s brave that they risk their popularity to use their celebrity for a good cause.

What I love about Barkley’s statements is his assertion that true Christians can be pro-choice and for gay marriage. I am a pro-choice Catholic and my faith is part of the reason that I am pro-choice and for gay marriage. It infuriates me when people insist you can’t be a true Christian without being anti-choice and homophobic. I was glad to hear Charles Barkley call out members of the so-called “moral majority” as “fake Christians.” So many people, President Bush in particular, are very holier-than-thou in their Christianity, but are intolerant when Jesus preached love and acceptance, judgmental when the Bible is full of lessons against judging the sins of others, and violently vengeful—as in the death penalty and abortion clinic bombings—when Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek.

I’m not so sure about Charles Barkley’s bid for Governor of Alabama, but he sounds pretty darn cool to me.

Quick Hit: Women in Ski Jumping

There's a great post on Feministing by Sarah Murray of the Women's Sports Foundation about the International Olympic Committee's refusal to add a women's ski jumping competition. Um, what century are we in? Too bad Title IX isn't international.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Reproductive Justice on ABC

*Cross posted on Choice Words

I was pleasantly surprised to see a reproductive justice issue addressed on primetime TV. One of my favorite new TV shows is Eli Stone, a dramedy about a lawyer who starts seeing visions that lead him to take on cases against the mega corporations his firm usually defends. In last week’s episode Eli took on the case of a produce worker who was rendered infertile from exposure to pesticides. This is a real problem faced by many men and women both in the United States and abroad, and the focus of one of Choice USA’s campaigns. The Fairness in Flowers Campaign, an ongoing collaboration with Jobs with Justice’s Student Labor Action Project, advocates for Dole flower workers in Ecuador and Columbia who, among other human rights violations, have been exposed to toxic chemicals that lead to miscarriages and birth defects. This issue is important to Choice USA because reproductive justice is about more than abortion – it is also about the right to have children and raise them in healthy environments. Click on the Fairness in Flowers link above to take action.

Another look at reproductive justice will be in the upcoming remake of the classic play and movie A Raisin in the Sun. Starring Phylicia Rashad and Sean Combs, the movie is about an African-American family dealing with racism and poverty. The original playwright, Lorraine Hansberry bravely included a sub-plot about the mother Anna’s contemplation of getting a back-alley abortion. (The movie takes place before Roe v. Wade.) Interestingly, while matriarch Lena lectures Anna on their being a family that does not take life but gives it, she admits that in hard times, there’s nothing a desperate woman won’t do to help her family – “the part that’s living.” I definitely recommend watching A Raisin in the Sun on the 25th at 8pm, not only because of its look at abortion, but because it’s a beautiful story. I hope it will be as good as the 1961 version, which is a must-watch classic.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Quick Hit: The Hispanic Vote

It's nice to see an article about the Hispanic vote that isn't about who we're supposed to support as an ethnic group (because clearly we don't think as individuals). This article by The Miami Herald's Andres Oppenheimer looks at why Hispanics went to the polls in record numbers on Super Tuesday. It turns out blatant racism is a great incentive to vote, or at least to vote Democratic. As recent Colbert Report guest Angelo Falcon said, "the Republicans have been basically taking Latinos up to the top floor and chucking us out the window."

"A" Daily Show

I have to say, the one thing I like about the writers' strike is the effect it's had on Jon Stewart's interviews, particularly those with people he disagrees with. It seems that the writers were holding him back.

The Daily Show - writers = anything goes.

Here's a clip from a hilarious interview with Fox News anchor Chris Wallace:

On the complete other end of the spectrum, here's his interview with Lynne Cheney, also known as the the most awkward interview ever. (Coincidentally, both have references to the Plame incident)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It Takes Two

*Cross posted on Choice Words

I want to add to Holly’s post (on Choice Words) about Rep. Liston’s comment that teenage mothers are sluts, because there are so many issues involved here that get me riled up.

Rep. Liston’s comment echoes a column written by Dr. Laura near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I really shouldn’t have read it, since I’ve never read a column of hers that hasn’t left me livid, but I saw the title, “Planned UN-Parenthood” and read anyway.

Dr. Laura starts by accusing women who have abortions of being careless about “when and with whom they have sex,” not using birth control, and not having “the maturity to make sure their sex partner (or, if you’re in college, it’s just a hook-up partner) uses a condom.”

Just how removed from the real world is Dr. Laura? Does she honestly believe that married couples never have unplanned pregnancies? Or that no one who’s had an abortion was using birth control? Or that it’s the woman’s fault if the man doesn’t wear a condom? Even though birth control is extremely effective when used correctly every time, in the real world, well, stuff happens. We forget to take pills, condoms break, we’re denied access to the morning after pill… Unfortunately, the list continues.

Later, Dr. Laura echoes Rep. Liston’s call for a return to shame:

“It would seem that reinstituting shame for being a “bad girl” and having sexual intercourse out-of-wedlock (it works…there were no pregnancies in either of the two high schools I went to in Long Island, NY), and pushing the heck out of adoption might be better for women in the long run than unfettered abortion rights.”

Again, Dr. Laura needs a reality check. I’m sure there was at least one girl at one of her high-schools that got pregnant – she was just shipped off to Texas to hide the problem. And the father? He got to stay at school, anonymous and without shame. I remember Loretta Ross’s story about girls being expelled from her high school for being pregnant, while the boys were left unpunished.

Given Dr. Laura’s stance on abortion, and I’m sure Rep. Liston’s as well, their treatment of pregnant teens is very telling. After going to great lengths to keep young girls from getting abortions they continue to shame those who continue with their pregnancies. It’s clear that they don’t just want to keep girls from having abortions – they want to keep girls from having sex.

It really infuriates me how girls are almost always the ones shamed and punished for having sex. The politics of virginity are really interesting to me. Girls somehow lose their value with their virginity while boys become men. Girls aren’t supposed to have sex until marriage while it is a natural urge for teenage boys.

The Curvature had a great post about a Maryland School District’s decision to notify parents of their daughter’s pregnancy that brought up the idea of parents’ feeling of ownership of their daughters’ bodies (particularly their virginity). She noted that her dad refused to leave her unsupervised with her boyfriend, yet didn’t hold his sons to the same rule. This idea is perhaps best exemplified in the practice of virginity balls, where girls ceremonially pledge their virginity until marriage with their fathers as witnesses and protectors of said virginity. Purity balls for boys, however, are extremely rare.

Like with teen pregnancy, it angers me that all the responsibility of avoiding sex before marriage is put on the girl. Girls already are the ones who actually become pregnant – we should spare them the shame, punishment, and ostracism that are completely unfair and unnecessary. It’s time society acknowledges that teenagers—not just teenage boys—are sexual beings, and, as the saying goes, it takes two to tango.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Vote Obama

I love Obama. I really do. I know it’s cliché by now, but he gives me hope.

I have to say that I’m a little offended by the idea that my support of him is only because I’m a person of color, or that my choice of him over Hillary is somehow betraying my gender. Amazingly enough, I support Barack Obama because I like his politics.

Some may call him naïve because he is not jaded by decades in Washington and refuses to give in to the system. He would rather be guided by hope in achieving what others call impossible than to not try at all. This hope he has is infectious.

This September I was lucky enough to hear him speak when he came to Santa Barbara. He is honestly one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. The audience was near silent as he spoke, completely captivated by his words, and enthusiastic in their applause. He left me inspired and filled with hope, which is sadly a rare occurrence.

I think my love for Obama may have began after the Supreme Court’s awful paternalistic ruling on Gonzales v. Carhart last April. One of the first to respond, Obama noted that Roe v. Wade is "a matter of equal rights for women." I couldn’t agree more. The legality of abortion is essential to the equality of women, not only because it allows them the ability to compete in the job market, but because women will never be truly equal until we as a society value women’s ability to make their own decisions.

It kind of amazes me that I like Obama’s stance on abortion more than Hillary’s. While their voting records on the issue are basically the same, and they are both great supporters of reproductive choice, the way they approach the subject of abortion is very different. Sadly, I knew that Hillary was planning to run for president when she said something along the lines of abortion is a horrible choice for a woman to have to make. I don’t remember the exact quote, but that her use of “abortion” and “horrible” together signaled a move to the middle that disturbed me. The Clintons also use the line that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. But it isn’t.

I’ve been accused many times of being a single issue voter. Granted, reproductive justice is the most important issue to me by far, but I also care about the environment, immigration, gay rights, healthcare, labor, the war, an end to genocide, and education, to name a few. Obama not only represents the causes I support, but he has the passion to achieve great things. My vote for him is inspired by hope – a hope for change in the political system, a hope for change in our nation, and a hope for a brighter future.

Here is an awesome video inspired by Obama’s hope:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

State of the Union

If only President Bush actually meant everything he said the other night:

We must trust patients and doctors to make medical decisions

By one of my favorite cartoonists, Signe Wilkinson.

United States Social Forum

So this is really old news but I thought I'd post it anyway. This summer I spent a week at the first ever United States Social Forum as one of Choice USA's Reproductive Justice Youth Ambassadors. The conference was very thought provoking and inspiring. I had the chance to learn about issues I'd never be exposed to, become more informed about causes I support, and network for possible cross-movement campaigns. I didn't agree with every viewpoint presented and the Forum, but it was good to be challenged by new ideas, especially since I tend to surround myself with people who have the same general values as I do, and most of the opposing views I encounter are just so opposite to mine that they don't have much affect on me. Overall I'm grateful for the experience and hope the Forum will continue to grow in the coming years.

Choice USA @...


The story of Choice USA's Reproductive Justice Youth Ambasssadors at the first ever United States Social Forum...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Blog for Choice

*Cross-posted at Choice Words

Blog for Choice Day

This past Saturday hundreds of anti-choice demonstrators armed with graphic (and grossly distorted) pictures of aborted fetuses were bussed to reproductive justice safe-heaven San Francisco for their third-annual Walk For Life West.

I was present at its first incarnation in 2005, in which Planned Parenthood Golden Gate and other Bay Area pro-choice organizations put together a fabulous event to show the anti-choice contingent that San Francisco is truly a pro-choice city. The day began with a rally that included an inspiring speech from mayor Gavin Newsom, followed by a march from Market Street to the Embarcadero where we lined the route of the Walk for Life. The meeting of the two sides was largely non-confrontational, save for an incident at the end where several pro-choice activists linked arms and blocked the street, forcing the Walk to change their route. I thought it was kind of awesome.

Two years later I spoke at a counter-rally that took place before the Walk for Life West 2007. The turnout was definitely disappointing and not nearly enough to line the entire route of the march. It made me wonder if it would be better to have done nothing at all – had we not been there, the only witnesses to the march would be people going to the farmers market, at least along the Embarcadero.

On the other hand, I know the damage that can come from inaction. During my sophomore year, Stanford Students for Choice decided we didn’t need to do a counter-protest at everything Students for Life did, but after the appearance of their annual mock-graveyard in the middle of campus, we found that the students wanted to see a pro-choice presence to counter the morbid scene, so we threw together a pro-Roe table with ribbons and a huge poster for people to write pro-choice messages. Since then we’ve marked the anniversary of Roe v. Wade with a birthday party of sorts including music, balloons, and pro-choice cupcakes.

In general, I’m not too fond of counter-demonstrations, particularly on a day we should be celebrating, like the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Also I find that they’re generally less successful than events planned for their own sake and not as a response. Perhaps most importantly, counter-demonstrations tend to breed confrontation, and allow the media to portray our movement as angry or hostile, especially in a case like this where the opposition is praying and mourning the unborn. Instead of fighting gross pictures of fetuses with hangers, get some balloons and rise above.

P.S. Here’s the speech I gave at last year’s rally:

Good morning. My name is Jessica Haro, and I am 21 years old, meaning I was born twelve years after Roe. I grew up in a world where abortion was always legal, in a school district that offered comprehensive sex education, and in a family where I can talk openly about my choices as a sexual being. So it is no surprise that I became “another youth for choice.”

I have to admit that many of my fellow students are not here this morning. Part of the reason is that as young people, this is about the time we’re meant to get up. And another part of that is what some would call apathy.

As students at a Bay Area university that has always admitted women, where free condoms are plentiful, whose health center offers cheap birth control, and where abortions are available on campus in the hospital, this morning Stanford students had the luxury to turn off the alarm and go back to bed.

But I see this as something other than apathy. It’s that they know that the legality of abortion should go without saying. The truth is we don’t know what it was like before Roe, nor should we. I’m glad many in my generation don’t understand the symbol of the wire hanger, and that some of my friends were confused when I suggested we break out our knitting needles as a counter-demonstration to the mock graveyard that will appear on campus on Monday.

I’m glad because to me, this is evidence that we will never go back. My generation is so far removed from the days before Roe, that to us, the idea of abortion being illegal is ridiculous. And because we have always had this right, I know it is something we won’t let anyone take away.

This is why I’m so proud to be here today representing Choice USA, a youth-focused organization that identifies and trains emerging leaders to be the future of our movement.

So on a day characterized by looking back, I encourage you look forward and know that in the hands of today’s youth, the future is bright.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

A beautiful speech Barack Obama gave at Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, Georgia, in which he talks about unity, the moral deficit in our country that leads us to ignore Darfur and send our children to schools where skin color can determine "the content of your education," the tensions between African Americans and Latino immigrants, and my favorite: hope.

Pregnancy in the movies

Quick hit, via's Weekly Feminist Reader:

Anatomy of a Smushmortion is a great blog entry on Hollywood's reluctance to say 'the a-word' let alone portray a woman having an abortion, as well as their usually completely unrealistic portrayals of pregnancy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

How It Should Be: A portrait of comprehensive sex education

*Cross posted on Choice Words and

I am proud to say that I was a recipient of a great comprehensive sex education. I came away from freshman Health with the proper knowledge upon which to base my decisions about becoming sexually active, and the sense to always practice safe sex. The only real complaint I ever heard was that there should be a refresher course senior year for those of us who just recently or had yet to become sexually active.

According to literature from the Santa Barbara School district, the program is designed to encourage abstinence until marriage and include information about human sexuality, parenting and contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, and AIDS prevention. While I don’t remember much emphasis on waiting for marriage, I do remember the constant repetition that abstinence was the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, but if you’re going to have sex, you MUST practice safe sex.

Looking back I’m impressed at how non-judgmental and gender-neutral the experience was. Instead of leaving out queer students by defining sex as an act between a man and a woman, we learned about various sex practices and their risks using medical terms like ‘penile-anal intercourse’ and ‘oral-vaginal intercourse,’ which thankfully kept us safer than kids given an abstinence-only education who have unprotected anal sex, thinking it’s a safer choice because it’s ‘not really sex.’ We also discussed how and when to talk about sex and contraception with a partner (not while naked under the covers), and even non-intercourse options like mutual masturbation.

As part of the program we heard from various guest speakers. One young woman talked about her experience being raped, the various types of birth control, and the process of getting tested for STIs. I have to admit that while she was explaining how the speculum is used in a vaginal exam she stopped in the middle of what she was saying to tell me that it’s really not that bad, because apparently I had a look of absolute horror on my face. Two UCSB students talked to us about the dangers of mixing sex with alcohol and taught us how to put on a condom, though instead of just showing us they had a blindfolded girl try to put a condom on a banana, then went through step by step showing us what she did wrong, from the girl tearing the wrapper open with her teeth to being impaired by alcohol (hence the blindfold).

To balance these two speakers we heard from a woman who taught us about gender roles and saving ourselves for marriage. I remember being embarrassed when I learned that apparently I look at my fingernails like a boy – girls put their hands out palms down, while boys hold their hands palms up and bend their fingers to see their nails. I forget what exactly this had to do with sex… She also demonstrated the harms of having multiple sex-partners by repeatedly putting on and pulling off a piece of duct tape from a boy’s arm, showing how it stuck less each time, to teach us that each time we have sex with a new person our ability to bond with them is diminished.

At the time I took sex ed, I knew nothing about abstinence-only education and didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to receive a truly comprehensive sex education. In college I volunteered at the Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, and during our training we talked about what kind of sex ed we each had in high school, if any. I was appalled to hear what other people were told, and more importantly, not told about sex. To draw attention to this problem, Stanford Students for Choice, our Choice USA chapter, held a remedial sex ed event, and the SHPRC does educational outreaches all over campus, including many freshman dorms. This is, of course, not the answer, as about half of all students have had sex by the time they graduate high school.

With abstinence-only education proven many times over to be ineffective and even harmful as teen birth rates increase along with STI prevalence, it is essential that all teens receive a comprehensive sex education.