‘Menopausal Militia’ to Young Women: It’s Your Body!

I write as a member of the “menopausal militia,” as the New York Times, quoting NARAL’s President, Nancy Keenan this weekend, characterized those of us, “of a certain age,” who have led America’s decades’-long fight for reproductive rights.

But, on this day after the National Day of Action (to stop Stupak), I feel like I’m still 18, in the fall of 1968, gathering nickels, dimes and dollars for a friend to take the bus to Rapid City, South Dakota to get an (illegal) abortion.

On other recent days, I’ve felt like the newly married 23-year-old I was, living in Chicago the year abortion became legal, realizing that the fight was on; that I needed to make this fight a part of my life’s work, for my personal sake.

And on this day after, though still a married woman living in Chicago, things are very different for me. Today, it doesn’t matter to me, for me, whether abortion remains legal or not. It doesn’t even matter to me for my immediate family: I don’t have children or grandchildren. Even so, I know, with every bone in my body, that this is still a fight worth fighting.

So, it still feels like a day in 1968. For if abortion becomes illegal again, or impossible to obtain in a conventional medical setting–because the Stupak Amendment has become law–it will be 1968 all over again.

For sure, it will be 1968 all over again if America’s young women don’t wake up and realize that women’s reproductive rights can only be secured by battling to secure this human right, the right to control one’s own body.

In 1968, as we looked towards adulthood, we knew that the threshold determinant of women’s equality was the capacity to control one’s reproductive destiny. We recognized that, absent that capacity, the rest just isn’t possible; nope, and hear me clearly on this one: none of it: not that cuddly family, not that nice home, not that non-sexist husband, not that good job, not the ability to choose when to have children, or how many to have, for the capacity to determine one’s own reproductive life is what makes all the rest of this achievable.

So, yes, we’ve battled ever since, and in the process we’ve become a (menopausal) militia.

And because we have, we’re here to tell you to stop talking about personal choice, as though it could be the basis of the strategy to win this fight (to stop Stupak) to keep abortion safe and legal. It isn’t.

Time to leave the talk to the (male) academics, pollsters and journalists. And while you’re at it, time to leave to the big-time male executives at the big-time ad agencies (they can waste their time) the business of proposing new taglines and “softer” messages: "If you just try this one, ma’am, you’re sure to get those middle-of-the-road moms on your side"…as though selling a permanent commitment to women’s reproductive choice were like selling perfume. 

Listen to us, us members of the menopausal militia. We know, from direct and repeated experience for decades, that there just isn’t any “nice” way to convince politicians to keep abortion safe and legal. This one is “hard time,” not in prison, but certainly in a war zone. 

Time to get real–you (younger) women who are wishing it were otherwise: This fight is about your body, and who controls it.

Why in the world do you think that it was only women’s reproductive healthcare that got exempted from a reasonable and comprehensive approach to providing Americans with access to healthcare? Was this just the luck-of-the-draw, just Congressional business as usual?

Hell, no.

There have been numerous other issues facing Congress on which the Blue Dogs said they’d hold out.  But, when it came down to it, they didn’t. Yet, when it came to legislation that would guarantee women’s autonomy, they did, and then, to add insult to injury, they convinced others to join them in their war against American women.

Why were these Members of Congress able to do this?  Because women’s autonomy–remember: it took women almost 150 years to get the right to vote in this country–isn’t what the men who (still) rule America want for us. Why? Because our gaining our autonomy is about their giving up their power.

If I cede the basic position from whence my power stems–in the case of a male legislator, that’s being male–what might I have left?

Forget the catchy slogans and friendly messages. Forget the pretty pink websites. Forget the pollsters. Forget trying to make deals with legislators fundamentally unsympathetic to the cause of women’s autonomy. Forget trying to make ever-so-reasonable arguments about reducing the cost of health care, or about the benefits of health care, if we just have reproductive coverage for those mothers who love their children just so much.

Instead, recognize that today’s fight is a defining battle for American women.

Today, and on every day to come, be battle-ready: be prepared to tell your legislators they’ve crossed the line. In fact, tell them they need to step back. Tell them you will lie down on the steps of the Capitol, so they can’t get in to vote; tell them you will picket the White House, so they can’t meet with the President; tell them you will ruin their family’s Christmas, and oh, by the way, while you’re at it, remind them you birthed the children now going to Afghanistan to fight, and because you did, you know every child should be a loved and wanted child; tell them you know that the America your children now fight for, and die for, is one which should give you equal rights, in all matters, and that means the right to control your own body. Tell them nothing less will do.

Young women of America: Fail to understand this at your peril. Take this lesson from the menopausal militia to heart.

Young women of America: Prepare for many, many more national days of action. And know that we’ll be right there with you. 

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  • wendy-banks

    Funny, as I was reading your article I pictured you- ala George C. Scott in the movie ‘Patton’ uniformed, spit-shined black boots, helmet, and rideing crop, paceing in front of a huge American flag giveing your speech to the troops– *chuckles* Great article!

  • crowepps

    Thanks for saying this so clearly. Young women today have no understanding of what things were like back when ‘normal’ was understood to be defined as ‘male’ and ‘female’ was understood to be not only different but abnormal, inferior and subsurvient.

  • ahunt

    Well done.

    One of my favorite all-time political slogans is “Post Menopausal Women Nostalgic For Choice.”

  • freewomyn

    I’m a little beyond irritated by the willful ignorance of the older generation of feminists. You think that all we do is Tweet all day and check our Facebooks. But it’s not for nothing. Social networking enabled 1000 young women from all over the country to organize and show up in DC yesterday to protest the Stupak amendment. And before the days of social networking, we were organizing on college campuses to hand out condoms, collect petition signatures, hold die ins on the Roe v. Wade anniversary, along with pledge a protester. We were part of the 1 million strong who showed up for the March for Women’s Lives. And thousands of us put ourselves on the line each day as clinic escorts at abortion clinics across the country. You say that we need to wake up, well YOU need to wake up. And stop taking the younger generation for granted, because it feels like we’re the ones doing all the heavy lifting.

  • progo35

    “I feel like I’m still 18, in the fall of 1968, gathering nickels, dimes and dollars for a friend to take the bus to Rapid City, South Dakota to get an (illegal) abortion.”

    Okay, but it’s NOT 1968. It’s 2009, and a lot has changed since then. Feminism isn’t just about reproductive rights, it’s about equal employment, education, respect and autonomy, all of which are valued by pro life feminists. Moreover, we have more technology that has influenced people’s positions on these matters. In 1968, people could only imagine what a fetus looked like. Now, we know.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • kate-ranieri

    Speaking from a liberal arts college campus, I share Rebecca’s concern for younger women, some who are quite the activists and some who are not. I also have concern for those who are complacent because many have been subjected to misinformation and frightening rhetoric from prolife constituents. The good news is that once these young students, male and female, see for themselves how utterly terrorizing prolife protesters are at reproductive health clinics, they see with fresh eyes. Because they are able to read and research unbiased scientific and medical information, they learn rather quickly the biased and, often, erroneous nature of much of the prolife literature. And despite technology that enables visualization and the audible heart beat of the fetus, abortion remains a medical, emotional, and legal option, at least for today.

  • kate-ranieri

    Prolife feminists interested in autonomy? Really? Respect? Really?


    My definition of feminism includes both these terms. But just because we have technology does not in anyway negate the need for abortion. So, I respectfully submit that you respect those women who choose abortion because they have the right to autonomy. Trust women, even prolifers, to make the right choice for them.

  • liberaldem

    Amen to everything you said. If women do not have the right to decide for themselves if and when they have children, then everything else goes out the window.

  • heather-corinna

    I think you forget that abortion providers and those who worked in abortion have always known what they were looking at.  Sonogram tech wasn’t needed for that information.


    I remember when I started working in-clinic, I had a moment before I observed my first procedure where I thought, "Okay, this is the moment of truth."  Not in terms of my being pro-choice: that was never in danger. I don’t know what on earth save a frontal lobotomy could change my thinking on women needing and having a right to full bodily autonomy.  Rather, I was prepared to have my own feelings on abortion changed.  I even thought for a minute I might regret the abortion I had, which I had never had anything but positive feelings about.


    But that’s not what happened. It was intensely underwhelming, save the level of geek I tend to have in general with the body. I worked with small children for years, and I have a lot of love for them. I wasn’t looking at a baby when I looked at fetal tissue: I didn’t see one in it, at all, and I even tried to (how I usually describe it as looking to me to others is like some kind of alien sea creature). If anything, I had some moments of anger at feeling even more duped than usual — and for other women duped — by anyone who suggested what that looked like who clearly had never actually seen it, knew they hadn’t, but didn’t care about being accurate or honest.


    Sonograms: same deal.  Which isn’t surprising when you bear in mind that sonograms for most abortion clients look like a whole lot of nothing much because there ISN’T much there yet and it doesn’t look like an infant because it isn’t one.


    By the by?  When I was counseling clients, plenty of times they’d ask if they could see a sonogram to help assure their choice or make sure they felt okay about it.  Only a handful of times did any client I saw change her mind based on that, and those who did were all late second-trimester clients. So, if you have the idea that sonogram tech radically changes the picture for women who want to terminate, who know that’s what they need, you’re mistaken.  The only thing I can think that radically changes is how often that tech is intentionally misused to mislead women.

  • heather-busby

    Okay, seriously? When is this going to stop? I’m sick of the so-called “menopausal militia” undermining young women’s efforts and blaming us for setbacks, as if we’re not doing enough because we don’t value reproductive autonomy. I’m sorry, but that’s total bullsh*t and if you paid attention and listened to and respected the young women around you in this movement, you might have written a completely different article. I was born in 1973 and valued abortion rights at a young age. I’ve been actively involved in this issue since age 18. I co-founded an abortion assistance fund and I bust my ass every day to find money to help women pay for abortions while still finding plenty of energy to care about the legal aspects (I got a law degree & co-founded a Law Students for Repro Justice chapter at my fairly conservative law school). And as I move closer to 40 & menopause myself, I see behind me some truly inspiring young women. I’m humbled and floored everyday by these women and their intelligence and tech-savvy and boundless energy. I am so grateful for them and I want to learn from them and be energized by them, not look down on them just because I’m older and have been around longer. And I don’t think it’s fair or accurate for women who lived pre-Roe to do so either. Just because we have had the “legal” right doesn’t mean we’ve had access to abortion! Who do parental involvement laws affect? Young women. And young women are the ones more likely to be in poverty, unable to get the money for an abortion or to get to one of the few clinics left in their state. And you don’t think that young women can’t appreciate abortion rights because they haven’t lived in a time when abortion wasn’t legal and accessible? Wake up! We’re living it. I don’t want to hear or dole out blame anymore because it’s counter-productive to our efforts. Let’s stop the negativity and if you need to blame someone, go for it. Blame the conservative Democrats who voted for Stupak. Blame your menopausal sister Nancy Pelosi for not fighting harder for us. Blame the Catholic church. Blame whoever you want, but stop blaming your younger sisters who are fighting just as hard, if not harder for this.

  • margaret-conway

    It is notable to me that I CONSTANTLY hear from the "menopausal militia" their laments about how (pick one) young women "take repro rights for granted," aren’t in the movement, don’t care, etc etc etc. Well why would they even participate in this movement when, if they do, they get trashed like this?


    I am 47 (almost menopausal, proudly gray haired). I started working on abortion rights at age 27. For 20 YEARS (seriously!) I have heard the same tired argument from the pro-choice leaders–and it leads to nothing. It’s like hearing from your mom what a rotten ungrateful kid you are. I much more rarely hear real self-reflection or conversations about why the movement has failed to attract younger women.


    I am not the only one who believes the "menopausal militia" has repeatedly failed young women, poor women, and women of color. We must empower younger women to take the reigns of this movement. Picket? Lie down at the White House? Those are strategies of an era gone by. Young women have much more engaging and effective strategies, ones relevant to their peers. But the "menopausal militia"–who are still taking up the air and the money in the movement–will not step aside or consider other strategies.


    The Stupak fight is not about back alleys and is not about legality. It is disingenuous to claim it is, but worse, it’s irrelevant. Young women are facing a mind-boggling economy, college tuition is getting more and more out of reach; and job prospects are beyond dismal. Stupak is yet one more blow to a woman’s ability to determine her future with dignity and respect.


    There is room for all comers in this movement. We can respect the insight, wisdom, and strategic thinking that experienced women bring, while valuing the energy, new ideas, and perspective that young women bring. Stop already with this useless criticism and start listening to young women. We might all learn something.

  • heather-corinna

    I really appreciate the commentary on this both from Heather and from Margaret: really well-spoken.

    I think this, particularly, is a good, proactive ground to bridge with and start from:

    There is room for all comers in this movement. We can respect the insight, wisdom, and strategic thinking that experienced women bring, while valuing the energy, new ideas, and perspective that young women bring.

  • freewomyn

    You said it, Heather!

  • lindsey-oliver

    Movements aren’t built by basing our activism on competition.

    It’s obvious to me that you just haven’t had a chance to expose yourself to the really amazing organizations that are either led by young people or geared towards young people that are doing innovative, challenging and fierce work in our movement! I started a list of organizations that I personally find to be incredibly inspiring, perhaps other readers could add more organizations (and since I don’t have endless free time, this list is just a small sample)! Check them out!

    Spark Reproductive Justice NOW!
    The Chicago Abortion Fund’s
    The Pro Choice Education Project
    HOTDISH Militia
    Civil Liberties & Public Policy Programs
    Incite! Women of Color Against Violence,
    National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
    Native Youth Sexual Health Network
    National Asian Pacfic American’s Women’s Forum
    Choice USA
    Third Wave Foundation

  • swampyankee

    To the younger women posting here: You, the savvy ones, are not the problem. You’re fantastic, and are literally the "hope for the future." My thanks to you.


    But here’s why we older women are deeply alarmed, especially those of us with "hands on" (if you’ll pardon the expression) experience with illegal abortion (I earned my Purple Heart in 1966, at age 17). The collective societal memory fades as time goes by. Polls are showing more and more very young women (not you, obviously) who are saying they’d like to see abortion made illegal again. Add to that an extant historical revisionism employed by the anti-choice side which says that illegal abortion was "not that bad," "didn’t happen that often," was "done by doctors," and worst of all, that it "deters" abortion. Lies, all lies. We who were "there" have to listen to this propaganda, and endure the condescension and sneers of revisionists who ridicule us when we tell our stories. We have horrible personal knowledge of what’s at stake. When abortion’s illegal, young girls and women are consigned to a squalid, furtive, dark, dirty, dangerous underground, as sure as night follows day. There can be no "negotiating" on any of this. The horrors of illegal abortion are why it’s legal today. It’s about a woman’s "right to choose," yes–but even more, it’s about a woman’s right to not bleed to death on a motel room floor or die of septic shock in the emergency room because it’s too late to save her. When we lose sight of that, we’re in danger of going back to those dark times. I say: Over my dead body.


    That’s what’s got us worried. Arm yourselves! Recommended reading: THE WORST OF TIMES, by Patricia G. Miller.



  • tate

    As a fellow feminist, uterus-holder, and Chicagoan, I respect your comments, sacrifices, and struggles.
    But as a young woman who has engaged in reproductive justice activism for the past 10 years and feminist scholarship for the past 7 years, I can’t help but find this post incredibly insulting and demoralizing.
    "In my day…" rhetoric has never done anyone any favors, as it implies that there is one right course of action that should be taken – ahistorically – to address an issue. Just because today’s young feminists aren’t using 1968-style organizing techniques, that doesn’t mean that we are apathetically twiddling our thumbs as we watch (male AND female) legislators to take away our reproductive rights. Moreover, this sort of talk strangely romanticizes the late 60s/early 70s without acknowledging the social conditions of the time that systematically silenced the voices of many women.
    We appreciate the rights and privileges that second wave feminists have worked for, which is why young feminists work to protect them. Young feminists should listen to the advice of those who came before them, but listening should not be a one-sided endeavor. Just as we can learn from you, so too can you learn from us.

  • aim%C3%A9e-thornethomsen

    This piece isn’t provocative. It’s disrespectful. It’s also inaccurate. It makes invisible all the work that young people – male and female – contribute to reproductive justice. As an organization dedicated to young people, PEP sees firsthand the work of our Young Women’s Leadership Council and many other young people to support abortion and all reproductive justice issues. Frankly I continue to be frustrated with fellow activists who do not work with young people, do not interact with them, and certainly don’t listen to them, speaking down to young people as if they have been sitting on the sidelines for the last 10 years. I am deeply disappointed that this theme gets re-hashed over and over and contributes to this myth that young people are apathetic, don’t understand what’s at stake, don’t know their history, etc.Young people are here, have always been here, if only we’d recognize them.

    Aimee R. Thorne-Thomsen

    Executive Director

    Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP)

  • rebecca-sive

    Dear sister feminists,

    I’m pleased that my article has generated this discussion because when we engage,we find ways of(more effectively) working together.

    Like all of you, I write based on my personal experience. And, yes, my persoanl experience includes working with younger women. My point in making this plea is that, in my experience, there aren’t enough young women mobilizing in the way that, yes, like it or ot, was necessary in 1968, 1973, 1981, 1989, etc. And I feel this way for the reason I stated:this mobilization needs to be first in our minds and work: our success in other domains, e.g., the workplace, is ependent on our ability to control our own existence.

  • julie-watkins

    when mass media is owned by people who prefer everyone to "know their place". It’s harder now to get a message heard, if it’s counter to what the PTB find convient.


    35 years ago, there was a lot of talk about ZPG. 30 years ago, contraception wasn’t controversial. And when right-wing politicians complained about it it was "loose college girls are a disgrace" not "the pill kills".


    I believe Reproductive Rights getting the "Wall Street" treatment. There’s well-funded think tanks feeding talking points to groups that support traditional gender roles & "personal responsibility" (code for "if you’re poor it’s your own fault"), and they aren’t going to quit. The bankers didn’t quit trying to get back to (their PoV) "good old days" before the post-depression regulations. They chipped away till they got what they wanted. Look at the ugly result.


    The same kind of forces are trying to chip away at the gains women made. What was done with just a few concessions showed how dangerous to the Status Quo real reproductive choice is, so they’re chipping away at abortion access — and to redefine contraception as abortion, so contraception gets blocked also. Part of that program will be to prevent anyone knowing about the newer pro-choice movements and belittle the older groups. I don’t want to see what no access/recriminalizing would look like.


    I think the little people, in general, are getting the "factory farm treatment" — the point of the general populous is to make money for the top 0.1%, so we get bombarded with spend-spend-spend, BABIES!, One Rule To Get White Teeth!, etc., etc., with consumer behavior research to pick the perfect words to sell the most widgets … enforcing gender roles is just one facet of the big picture.

  • crowepps

    You know, the young women who have commented here are absolutely right. It is massively unfair to look over the heads of those who are actively working and insist that young women in general need to “wake up”. For one thing, those who do need to wake up are far more likely to listen to those young women who are active than they are to us post-menopausals.


    We have to be careful not to slip into the ‘geezer’ habit of bemoaning how ‘back in my day’ everyone was united behind the issue. As I recollect, back in the old days there were many people who resisted every step forward by women, many of them other women, and a heck of a lot who never did ‘wake up’.

  • heather-corinna

    Much appreciated, Rebecca.


    I think one major issue with this — for me, anyway — was where it was posted.  Here, at Reality Check… where I believe nearly all, if not all, of our core staff and writers, as well as many other writers and posters, ARE pre-menopausal (or not female-bodied at all).  In other words, you and this piece are IN a space created by younger reproductive rights activists, so it feels like a particular smack in the face here.


    I agree, and I think anyone of any age working in repro rights before or now will, that we need more women, of all ages (heck, take a look at the anti-comments here and note that when from women, they’re not mostly from younger women), to have a keener awareness of these issues and to recognize them as crucial and critical women’s rights issue.


    But I also think the critiques made in the comments here have serious merit: we really can’t mobilize if our efforts go unrecognized or dismissed even at the very places where we are visibly making those efforts.  I think some of the message you’re sending is really vital, but I also think that you don’t want to shoot the messengers carrying it, and want to see what can be done to get it out to those who are not already doing the work.

  • brady-swenson

    Shelby Knox posted a response to Rebecca post in her reader diary, here.

  • ahunt

    Indeed. I was interpreting the post through the filter of the  unnerving polls indicating younger women are less inclined to be supportive of choice, and failed to acknowledge the very fine work of young women like Heather, and Jessica and Amanda and Melissa and on and on…

     My bad.

  • progo35

    As an older member of the Millenial generation (born in 1982), I know that an eight week old embryo is not the same as a twenty week old fetus in terms of its resemblence to a baby, but the elasticity of "abortion" rights is what bothers me. Even though I think it’s morally wrong to have an abortion at any point, there is, in my opinion, a significant difference between having an abortion at eight weeks and having one at twenty weeks, yet, many abortion rights leaders try to tell us that this difference is inconsequential as long as the woman involved wants the abortion. (Or, at least, that’s what I feel I’m being told). In my opinion, that’s a load of hoey. It’s not logical, it does not make sense. 

     Some abortion providers have even written about their discomfort during second trimester abortion procedures, including one entry on the abortioneers blog that was later deleted in which a female OBGYN described performing an eighteen week abortion when she herself was eighteeen weeks pregnant. She wrote that she began crying, because as she was pulling a fetal foot out of the woman’s body with forceps, she felt movement in her own uterus. She also recounted performing a 23 week abortion in the afternoon and then needing to assist with the emergency delivery of a 23 week old baby. She marveled at the fact that if that baby had been inside it’s mother’s uterus, she could have dismembered (her word) it with impunity. Despite all all of this, she justified her continued practice as an abortion provider by using what to me are very circular and/or flimsy arguments, including:

    a) denying a woman an abortion when she wants one is an act of "extreme violence"

    b) Discomfort with the procedure itself should be managed by talking about how it makes one feel, not by declining to perform such procedures


    It was a fascinating article, but it left me feeling strongly that the woman was having to do moral gymnastics in order to justify something that her heart told her was wrong. Thus, my rational mind tells me that abortion is wrong, even if it is done with good intentions or for the "right" reasons. 


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • julie-watkins

    I realize that there are a lot of women who make decisions that other people don’t agree with; but because of biological & societal systemic discrimination I think those decisions shouldn’t be subjected to legal force or outsider coercian. 

    I haven’t read of any "problem" about late abortions that wouldn’t be, I believe, better handled by medical standards instead of laws. That’s how it is in Canada — they don’t have abortion laws. But most of the scandals seem to come from the USA, where abotion access has been pushed out of hospitals into clinics that have less oversight.

    I don’t know of any way a "reasonable" abortion law could be written that wouldn’t dangerously restrict a doctor’s options. If a doctor is allowed discression (the discression doctors now have is protested), then the pro-recriminalization groups then say that the purpose of a reasonable abortion law that could theoretically allow a nine month abortion is have "Abortion On Demand". When I get the accusation: "you want No Limits" my answer is: "I didn’t say that. I don’t want laws, I want medical standards."

    I believe from what you write that you have moral problems with abortion, especially late abortion. My opinion is that there is a larger moral problem with Nature’s Sexism, and how cultures take advantage to have discriminatory and classist expectations of women and poor families, to the benefit of the ruling class.

  • heather-corinna

    However, Progo, we do not all have that experience. 


    I also feel like you somehow make it sound like the feelings that woman may have had in her heart in terms of fetuses were her only heart-feelings.  In other words, given what she said in terms of why she provides 2nd-tri procedures for women, why are those sentiments "moral gymnastics" rather than ALSO being feelings in her heart for women?In the things you say about abortion, I always see so much black-and-white thinking, and a strong desire to have things be pat, simplistic and black-and-white.  The problem with that in terms of abortion is that it’s one of those things that is very poorly suited to binaries or simple poles.  It’s complex, it’s complicated, it’s highly individual.  It’s never — for anyone involved in any way — just one way or another.


    So, you read that piece: and you could read many others where we all have had a range of experiences, many very different from that experience.  If you’re informing your own opinions about procedures based on the direct experience of others, why is only this experience, or those like these, what’s relevant to you?  If the experiences any of us have in having, witnessing, assisting or providing abortion are what informs your rational thought on this, would you not wind up recognizing that there is no one right/wrong, and a world of grey area and a range of experience you so often seem to want to deny?


    P.S. We can often experience body sensations when other women are, or have our bodies wind up in alignment.  Like menstrual cycling, for instance.  Just a few weeks ago when observing a procedure and holding a patient’s hand (who had a pain condition that made any kind of vaginal exam/procedure uncomfortable for her) I wound up getting my period moments after, a whole week earlier than usual.  It’s wacky stuff, but it happens, and I think it’s a stretch to try and make things like that sound like they are about fetuses or babies or heartbreak when they are more likely simply about women and the ways we and our bodies can connect.

  • kinsd


  • kinsd

    Could you please link to this polling? Most of the studies and polling I’ve seen say the exact opposite, so I’m curious about what as being held up as ‘proof’ of this attitude about young women.

  • progo35

    The fact that women’s bodies can connect like that is very interesting, Heather, but the woman in this piece was crying because, according to her, she felt fetal movement/kicking, which she described as "thump, thump, thump." This would seem to discredit the idea that the doctor was connecting with the other woman’s body and feeling what the other woman might have been feeling in her uterus due to the abortion being performed.

    To me, the gray becomes a part of morally contentious issues when we asess someone’s character and reasons for making the choices that they do, rather than when we assess the choice itself. For instance, stealing is always wrong, even if someone is stealing to feed his or her starving family, but I have a lot more sympathy for someone who steals for this reason than I have for someone who steals DVD players so that they can make a buck off of it. In short, I feel that I experience the gray when I think about the women actually undergoing the abortions and why they chose to do so.

    BTW, I’ve done a LOT of research on this issue. When one takes a position, I think it’s important to understand the other side. To better understand and empathize with the pro choice position, I have read or watched the following materials:


    This website


    the abortioneers blog

    blogs run by abortion clinic escorts

    The New York Times online

    Planned Parenthood’s website

    NARAL’s website

    The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice website

    Catholics for Choice website

    A Heartbreaking Choice website

    I look at or know of other blogs, too, but these are the main ones


    Our Bodies, Ourselves (1998 and 2006 editions)

    Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Adoption, Single Parenting and Abortion

    My Choice, God’s Grace: Christian Women Tell their Stories



    If These Walls Could Talk

    Vera Drake

    Four Months, Two Weeks, and Three Days

    A Private Matter

    The Cider House Rules


    None of these resources have changed my view on abortion, they have only deepened my already-existing empathy for women obtaining abortions.


    P.S. In my experience, all of these resources, with the exception of the 1998 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, is just as rabidly abelist as the rest of society, if not more so, which makes me feel that the pro choice movement is as hypocrtical as the pro life movement when it comes to justice. Sadly, OBO’s good sections on the intersection of disability rights and women’s rights were deleted from the 2006 edition. Readers were told to go to the organization’s website if they wanted that information, but information on other minorities was maintained, as if disability rights just weren’t important or universal enough to "make the cut." As a millenial, I expect more consistency on a human rights issue that impacts millions of women worldwide.


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • heather-corinna

    You are aware that uterine contractions and more blood to the uterus — such as occurs with orgasm, for example — can cause a fetus to kick during a pregnancy, yes?


    I cannot express how much I would love to hear you explain to me how myself or my organization are ableist.


    In doing so, I’d suggest you carefully consider the fact that, to my knowledge, we have never personally met, and you may not know things about me or my life you perhaps are very foolishly — as you often seem to do with so many things — assuming.

  • progo35

    Heather-I never said that you, personally, or that your organization, Scarlateen, were/was ableist. I said that all of the organizations I’ve seen function on the same ableist mindset as the rest of society. Perhaps I should have made it clearer that I think this is largely because of the surrounding culture and it’s lack of attention to those issues. For instance, I’ve only seen one article on your scarlateen website on sexual education and people with disabilities, in response to a young woman who wrote in about wanting to help her autistic sister with this. Sexuality and disability is a significant issue, yet only that one piece. What about addresing it more often on your website? That would certainly help a lot of young people with disabilities who are coming into their sexuality who may reference your website. Likewise, I have only seen one piece on RH about the elderly and sexuality, which is important but it’s only one piece, and none about disability and sexuality. Where are those pieces? Why did OBO delete the portions about the intersection of disability and women’s rights? To me, these are all symptoms of a culture that does not regard disability rights as a minority issue that is directly tied to human rights in general. I would like to see more pro choice people embrace the cause. That’s all I’m saying. 


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • heather-corinna

    Allow me to remind you of what you said, since you seem to have a tendency to "forget" when you respond to people holding you to your own words, that they are here for us to reference:

    In my experience, all of these resources, with the exception of the
    1998 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, is just as rabidly abelist as
    the rest of society, if not more so…

    Your list included Scarleteen as one of those resources. You stated that Scarleteen, as well as the other resources you listed there, is "rabidly ableist."


    We have one static article about sex and disability, though many which, when it is an factor, address disability and include those of us with disabilities. We, additionally, have at least a few hundred or more message board posts where we have counseled one-on-one on disability issues.  We have blog posts which have discusses disability, and in our off-site resource sections, have more than a few links to disability organizations relevant to sexuality or relationships. We have several advice columns addressing disability, one of which was once reprinted right here at RH.  As with any other issue, we address what our users ask us about, and what is on the site is directly reflective of what we are being asked for: if we got more questions about disability, you’d see more material on disability.  I have yet to ever receive a complaint from the disability community at large about Scarleteen, while I have seen many link to it.


    If you’re going to call me or anyone else not just ableist, but "rabidly ableist"  we are going to hold you to those words, and feel we have the right to ask you to support such a claim of discrimination. If you cannot, or are suggesting that is not what you actually MEANT to say, I expect to see you say that yes, you said that, but it is not what you meant to say, and you are not stating I am "rabidly ableist," and even more so than "the rest of society." 


    I take claims like that very seriously.  Not only do they present myself and the work I do as discriminatory, and thus, may influence who feels they can be served by us, statements like that about me and the work I do malign my character. And I think we can probably very easily agree on that fact that, even because, and perhaps especially because, I am a person WITH a disability who also cares for someone else with disability, if someone states or suggests I am ableist, I want to know, clearly and with sufficient support, why they are saying so, because should it turn out I am, that is something I would absolutely want to look at and correct if need be.


    I can’t speak to OBOS’ choices, but I don’t know why you’re asking me (I don’t work for OBOS), save perhaps to try and wiggle out of what I am asking you to defend per what you claimed about my organization and myself.

  • progo35


    I read the letter response on RH and was impressed by it. But, I have spent a fair amount of time on Scarlateen’s website and while there are several books linked on the site, that is essentially the same thing that the 2006 edition of OBO does-it lists a website where you can go for that information, but the information itself just isn’t important enough to be included in the book. Moreover, the fact that a disability rights website links to your website doesn’t mean that there are no issues that need addressing, it just means that the people managing the website are doing the best they can with the resources available to them. Your site is a good resource, but I’m sure that if you took a pole, many  disabled people would agree that it would be helpful to include more materaial on that subject. I also know that there are discussions about disability on your message boards, but that in itself does not mean that you are addressing the issue of disability adequately. If someone asks you a question on a message board, than I assume that you’re going to answer it. I’m talking about a more cognizant approach to disability as a rights and culture issue. For instance, I would like to see more sexuality sites, including yours, include a specific section on sex and disability in the same way that you include sections on LGBT issues and sexuality. What I’m saying is that the resources on sex in the disabled community are few and far between, even on sites that try to embrace a "big tent," liberal approach.

    I also want to make clear that I’m talking about abelism as a social mindset rather than as a hateful ideology. For instance, many sociologists would argue that we live in a racist society, even though the majority of people are not racists. But, many sociologists would argue that our society is set up in a racist manner so that many well meaning organizations reflect that inequalities by default. That is the same observation I’m making about all the organizations I listed. As such, it’s not a character thing, it’s a reflection of the fact that most organizations reflect the society in which they are created.

    At the same time, I don’t want you to think that I was singling Scarlateen out for correction. I like scarlateen and think there is some really good information there. So, don’t take it personally, but perhaps consider what suggestions I made here. I would also be happy to look at it more over the holiday break and send you some more suggestions for how the site could be more disability friendly, if really want suggestions on how to do that. I hope that I’ve answered your question.



    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • emma

      Progo (and anyone else interested) I haven’t read the whole thread, so someone might already have linked to this site, or you might have come across it yourself, but Feminists with Disabilities is a great site for disability issues that intersect with feminism. This may or may not be the kind of thing that would interest you, but I’m linking to it because I think it’s fantastic.

  • heather-corinna

    So, am I understanding then that you are stating my organization (and these others) is "rabidly ableist…even more so than the rest of society" because, in your view, we do not have enough address of disability issues, even though our model for the whole site and org is to make choices on what we address and how much we do based on what our users are expressly asking us for?  Even though our site tends to address disability more often than most general sexuality sites do and most young adult sex education does?  Since we’re worse than most of society,  society in general must then be far MORE inclusive of disability than we are?


    You state that "most organizations reflect the society in which they are created," but if that is so, how could we possibly be SO much more ableist than this apparently amazingly inclusive society we live in?  (For the matter, mind telling me what society you live in that serves the disabled so fantastically?  Because I think I’d like to move there.)


    We don’t have a specific section of the site for trans people (or non-trans people, for that matter), either, for certain races or for other aspects of who all of us are: you might consider asking me what my rationale is for the way we have chosen topic headings, rather than presuming it to be about exclusion (Hint: it’s actually the opposite, and also has to do with the way we view sexuality as a whole in terms of sound divisions and general topics). Are we being equally discriminatory of a whole bunch of groups because our broadest headings don’t have a section for every aspect of every person?  If you are stating that we are, thus, discriminating against all groups who do not have a section expressly for that aspect — some of which would include me discriminating against myself — could you please redesign my site so that every segment of the population has room, in a small menu that can fit on each page, for our own section addressing only any one part of all of who we are? We also often include listings of other resources for MANY different issues because a) some of them can simply do a better job than we because they have the funding and a specific focus we don’t and I respect them and want to support their work, and b) because often what our users are looking for when they come to us ARE referrals to more specific services and organizations. 


    Scarleteen has the smallest budget, by a long shot, of most of the orgs you listed despite serving as many if not more users than most of them. I would love for us to be able to serve EVERYONE better, and address everything we do more than we do, but we have limits, and they are profound, even though we do a staggering amount of work even with those limits. If you or anyone else can tell me how to provide everything everyone — millions of everyones a year — of every possible group with every possible issue, needs, entirely on our site, with only one full-time staffer, that’d be awesome. An explanation as to why it’s less acceptable to refer some users (whether we’re talking about disability or mental health or incest or anything else) to services which can serve them far better than we can because they have greater ability to do so, more staff to serve and greater expertise would also be helpful.


    Can you also, perhaps, explain to me how Scarleteen has ableism as a social mindset, even though nearly EVERYTHING we do directly addresses the exact person at hand we are serving, including — when there is disability and that information is iven to us or asked about — that person’s disability?


    You cannot state that all of us in your list should not take claims like this you make personally.  They ARE personal. And very serious: in fact, for as much as you think I’m not doing enough,because claims like this are serious, and I take them seriously, I’ve had to spend time here addressing this I could be spending doing the work you say you want me to be doing.


    I would also be happy to look at it more over the holiday break and
    send you some more suggestions for how the site could be more
    disability friendly, if really want suggestions on how to do that.


    I have no idea if this is in earnest or not, but if it is, I confess, I am honestly floored you would have the notion, given the way you have talked to and about me here and in the past, I would want to be in any additional contact with you, nor that I would have any good faith that you have a serious interest in helping me with what I do.  Do you often seek out the help of people who talk to you the way you have talked to myself and others in the comments at RH? Do you try and integrate them more deeply into your life?  I don’t.  I make a point of trying to have as little contact with people who mistreat me or malign me as possible.


    If this truly was said in earnest, I don’t want to be rude or unkind with an offer of help.  However, I’m not interested in your personal suggestions. I can and do get consult on disability inclusion and issues from others whose words carry a lot more credibility, who care far more about the words they say, and who do not make assesments as you have when they clearly have not bothered to take the time to really read through all they are assessing before making sweeping judgments, right down to perhaps not even reading the spelling of my organization’s name. I also prefer very much not to work with people who are not so cavalier about maligning me, my organization, or others and who refuse to take real responsibility for doing so when they do.


    • progo35

      The comment about these organizations being more abelist than some others is a general comment. It kind of disturbs me that you take that to imply that everything on every single site is ableist or that you think I was maligning you or your organization specifically. Your site may have strengths where others have weaknesses, and vice versa. Moreover, you don’t get to escape an "ableist" label just because you’re just addressing what people are asking you for. I only made the suggestion of a specific section of Scarleteen as a suggestion. Moreover, you DO have a section for transgender people because their issues are addressed under the LGBT section. I realize it is not pleasant to be criticized in the manner in which I did, however, I urge you not to take what I said as personally as you are taking it and/or think a bit more about what I said. I’m sure that if you spoke to someone else in the disabled community they could give you suggestions as to what I was getting at with that comment. It’s not like I’m the only person ever to have such concerns.  Perhaps I should have been more careful about explaining what I mean next time, but I stand by my assertion that all of the organizations listed could improve how they serve the disabled community. 


      Getting back to more general issues, there are many examples of RH being ableist. For instance, there have only been two sections having to do with disability issues-one piece on sex and seniors, and the other a link to Heather’s Scarlateen letter to a young woman who wanted to help her autistic sister by giving her some sex ed. There have been no other articles on this issue, but there have been plenty on LGBT, economic, religious, and race-related issues. Secondly, RH refused to delete a hateful comment made by someone advocating infanticide against infants with autism and down syndrome, even though it would rightly not allow that same vitriol to be said about biracial or (in the future) LGBT babies. That’s a double standard. It also featured a piece by Peter Singer and validated him as a philosopher, even though he has written hateful things about the disabled community, including asserting that snails have as much worth as human infants with disabilities. An organization truly concerned with disability rights would not do that because it would recognize Singer for the bigot he is and would not give him a platform for those views. This position on giving Singer a platform for his views is not a minority opinion, it is widespread in the disabled community. 


      "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • jodi-jacobson

    Your comment prompts me to respond as numerous people have raised with me "why is RH Reality check printing this piece."


    As you know, we have a set of core values around choice, equity, human rights, public health and autonomy, accountability for government policy, and so on.  


    We try, and will continue to try, to make space for debate, discussion, and airing of viewpoints and analyses from people who share our core values but who may have a different take on "where things are" or "what the problems are" on one or another issue (within reason).  Some people, for example, take issue with analyses that ask hard questions about the pro-choice community’s role in "how did we get here" on the Stupak amendment.  Others have raised the issue around Rebecca’s post with me.


    Our interest in this case was in airing the various viewpoints around a mainstream media article (the Stohlberg NYT article) from those within our community, committed to the same goals, but with very different sets of concerns and "takes" on the issues. 


    In response to your question "why put this out on RH Reality Check," I would (personally and frankly) respond "because I’d rather us have these debates here, among people who can be productively self-critical and even express anger, but in an environment where we are all going to learn alot and where some who don’t often hear these messages and debates may in fact get to here them."


    As but one example, several of the folks who’ve commented on Rebecca’s article have articulated extreme frustration with the way they are treated, in the words of one person who described themselves as a "millenial," "as convenient props" by larger organizations…doing the grunt work but never really having a place at the table.  Another example is the sheer force of examples of all the many things for which younger women in this movement have taken leadership.  if nothing else, this debate has put these issues in the public domain.  This has happened at other times: We had vigorous debates about the Kristof/WuDunn book for example by a number of actors with very different perspectives.  I think these debates are not only healthy, but critical.


    As someone who has grown up (and unfortunately out of the category of "young person") in this movement, I constantly heard along the way about how we needed to empower "young people." But, as a then-young leader I rarely felt there was much "empowerment" going on (whatever that really means anyway), and relatively little support from the generation ahead; in fact I have often felt that members of my cohort were sometimes seen as a threat rather than an asset or, as Shelby put it, as colleagues (that took a very long time to achieve). That these dynamics still persist is telling, and is something we urgently need to air and debate if in fact we are going to grow and prosper as a movement.


    All a way of saying that I think RHRC is the "right" place to have these debates because here we are among people who share the same goals and values, have an investment in ridding ourselves of these barriers, and we need self-reflection by many actors and on many levels to strengthen the movement to achieve those goals.

    Hope that makes sense.




  • heather-corinna

    That is beyond sensible, and I not only completely get it, I think that’s a fantastic rationale and set of aims.  Thanks for filling me in!

  • crowepps

    For instance, there have only been two sections having to do with disability issues-one piece on sex and seniors, and the other a link to Heather’s Scarlateen letter to a young woman who wanted to help her autistic sister by giving her some sex ed. There have been no other articles on this issue

    Was curious and took the time to look at your own diary, Progo, and found posted there a "story about the FDA outsourcing drug trials to other countries" and a solicitation for others to comment on the fact that "Sweden has decided that it is legal to abort based on fetal gender".  I don’t think the focus of either of those articles is disability.


    Is there some particular reason why you, as an advocate for disability rights, haven’t posted about disability rights?  Since you assert your expertise in this matter, perhaps instead of assigning the site hosts the task of addressing your issue instead of their own special areas of knowledge, you might want to take the time to actually do a diary entry on the subject yourself?

  • jodi-jacobson

    By Peter Singer???


    I do not find an author account for him here and know of no such article posted while I have been on board, and certainly not by me.


    As for these comments:

    There are many examples of RH
    being ableist.

    I have no doubt that there are many ways in which RHRC can improve.  Indeed we undertook a strategic planning exercise to identify many of them.  But ablesit???  Please.

    As a small under-resourced organization, we are primarily reliant on other organizations and individuals suggesting to us and pitching to us topics they would like to see on the site.  As for news and reporting, we report on the news….if there are issues around the sexual and reproductive health and rights of disabled persons you feel we have missed–if there are efforts at the state level or national level or international to take away the rights of disabled persons, research on sexual health issues among disabled persons we have missed or should be covered, or other such topics that are within our mandate–please point them out to us. 

    We cover LGBT issues as a matter of course because sexual identity is a key aspect of the struggle for sexual and reproductive rights. Were someone with expertise on issues of sexual and reproductive health challenges specific to disabled persons to pitch us a quality story or analysis, I have no doubt we would publish it.  We don’t pretend to cover everything and right now we are covering but a fraction of what we would if we were fulfilling our own strategic goals.

    Secondly, RH refused to
    delete a hateful comment made by someone advocating infanticide against
    infants with autism and down syndrome, even though it would rightly not
    allow that same vitriol to be said about biracial or (in the future)
    LGBT babies.

    Blatantly false.  I understand that the nuances are difficult here, but here are the facts: this is a community of people who are engaged in debates with each other and with many persons in the broader online community.  We constantly monitor comments, spam and all manner of discussion in a wide range of posts on this site ("we" being the total sum of two and a half staff people).  Any comment that is blatantly violent or calls for violence is immediately removed.

    I remember one instance in which someone was clearly–and as everyone understood it–making a point by using a Jonathan Swift approach in their comment about some issue with which you took offense and it was not deleted because no one else agreed with you about its interpretation.

    It also featured a piece by
    Peter Singer and validated him as a philosopher…..

    ???? what exactly are you talking about?  "We" as RHRC do not "validate" anyone.  We, as the community of individuals who write and comment and debate here have wildly varying points of view on various issues/people, you included among them.  I don’t know what you are talking about in regard to this person.

    An organization truly concerned with disability rights
    would not do that because it would recognize Singer for the bigot he is
    and would not give him a platform for those views. This position on
    giving Singer a platform for his views is not a minority opinion, it is
    widespread in the disabled community.  

    We are not an organization. We are an online community and publication dedicated to the sexual and reproductive rights and health of all persons, whomever, wherever, whatever. 

    We are also not an "organization concerned with disability rights" because we are not an organization, and we are not an online publication focused on disability rights.  See above.  We gladly partnered with organizations working with seniors and sex when we were approached about a series on that issue.  No such approach has been made of us of specific issues regarding policy, politics, practice or research around the sexual health of disabled persons, assuming there are specific and unique needs that differ substantially from others in regard to rights, health, policy, and services.

    Again, we have many areas of needed improvement and a strategic plan that was painstakingly researched to guide us.  We are and will remain imperfect to the extent that we neither have the resources to do everything or don’t have someone who is interested in writing on these issues pitch to us.




  • heather-corinna

    I’m only going to say this one more time and reply to this once more, because I find my experience of talking to you like to pouring water through a sieve. And when a person won’t even stand behind their own statements, but instead continually states they said something other than the words writ right on the page, which I’ve noticed is a common occurence with you, one cannot possibly have a fruitful discussion.


    When you make a list of orgs and state — not infer, not imply, but state — that we are "rabidly ableist" you are NOT saying "these organizations [are] more abelist than some others" nor are you making "a general comment."  And by all means, if you do not MEAN to specifically list organizations as ablelist, I’d certainly concur that you need to be more careful with your words. I’d also suggest that if and when you have written something that you find was NOT what you meant to say, you do what the rest of us do and make an edit or clearly retract your statements rather than trying to wiggle around them.

    Moreover, you DO have a section for transgender people because their issues are addressed under the LGBT section.

    Newsflash: so are the issues of LGBT people with disabilities, because our material, general and specific, includes disability and addresses it specifically if and when it is an factor. Again, how about first asking me for my rationale in having a specifically queer section and why that, and the male and female sections, are the only sections we have which address types of people? How about asking, in a respectful manner that actually fosters any kind of productive communication, about how we address disability particularly and if any of us have disabilities before you post public comments stating my organization to be ableist? How about an email? How about you ask RH about their disability content and what you feel is a lack of it in a respectful way?  Have you done all of that BEFORE making inflammatory statements like this? If you did with the others you named, you sure didn’t with my org.  This is the first I have heard this from you, which is surprising to me if you have felt things are really this bad. For that matter, how about pointing any of us who HAVE written on disability and sexuality issues, yet apparently do so so substandardly, to the work YOU have done on the subject? Have you done any youself?


    Newsflash #2: Some others of us who have disability, including myself, some of my volunteers, other writers and one of our primary donors would actually prefer NOT to have a separate section (something we discussed at the very onset of Scarleteen when the majority of us working/consulting on it all had disabilities), but instead to simply have the material we have for everyone be such that it ideally addresses a range of people and a range of abilities.  Some of us feel that approach best fosters real inclusion and also assures that abled people read material which includes disability to help foster their awareness. It’s precious you assume I have never discussed disability issues at my organization with any other members of the disability community: but of course you do, because you don’t appear to be seeing me or others in that community I work with at all. Believe me when I tell you that these discussions have been had: they simply may not have resulted in the conclusions you, yourself, are drawing.  Newsflash #3: we’re a diverse community of people.


    I’ll leave it to RH as an org to address you if they feel a need to.  *I* addressed you because you made a public statement about my organization, including it in a list which you expressly stated was all "rabidly ableist." I do have to say that I find your complaints about RH not removing hateful comments ironic, to say the least.


    You’re right, it’s not pleasant to be criticized in the way you did: it’s also beyond counterproductive if you actually want to foster change, particularly as the first way to bring the issues you have to light.


    But here’s what is particularly infuriating to me in all of this: when the person making statements like that says she cares so much about persons with disability (but not enough to ever write in, say how they feel, and ask about improvements before speaking so strongly) and about disability visibility but doesn’t appear to remotely consider — or even ask about — your views as a member of that group as well as someone who has financially supported a parent with disability off and on since she was 18; rendering you, disabled people you care for, disabled clients you serve and the disabled people who work with you invisible while complaining, oddly enough, about a lack of visibility. Who’s rendering who invisible here, again?


    (Which, go figure, is in quite a lot of alignment with many of the comments addressing the piece we were commenting on here in the first place.)

  • ahunt

    It was the latest Pew report…there was a decline in the number of young women (18-39) identifying as pro-choice. I’ll try to find it.




    Okay, I found the actual report, and once again, I should know better than to rely on news blurbs. The significant drop is among women age 29 to 49. The 18-29 bracket remains marginally pro-choice. 

  • progo35


    Here’s the article/post featuring Singer that you couldn’t find:


    And here’s the post in which you refused to delete an infanticide comment on another article because it "didn’t advocate violence against anyone."



    Although you seem to feel that infanticide isn’t violent, you yourself acknowledged that it was a disgusting comment-you did not argue that the person was taking a "Jonathon Swift" approach. Jonathon Swift would roll over in his grave if he knew that you were comparing his satirical essay about oppression to a bigoted comment about an oppressed minority group.




    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • emma

      I don’t know if people have looked at the youtube video of Chomsky and Singer within the first link Progo provided, but Chomsky’s comments – at the beginning in particular – are excellent, and summarise the issue pretty well, I think.

  • jodi-jacobson

    by Peter Singer, which is what you said, but an article that references his work by one of our writers who, by the way, is one of a number of college and graduate students who write for us and whose content I do not censor.  If you have an issue with her representation of her issues as such, take it up with her in a discussion in the comments section.

    As for the comments to which you have linked: First, they are on the common ground section of this site, of which I am not the editor.,

    Second, I have read through them and once again (we’ve had this conversation 6 months ago or so and the fact that others whose judgment I trust agree with my assessment and that this is the one thing to which you repeatedly point back proves my point.

    Those comments have nothing to do with your claims.  One uses irony–whether you like how it is used or not–to mimic the claims of anti-choice advocates on this site by turning the language around.


    It seems pretty obvious from the body of commenting you have done here that you go out of your way to interpret as personal assault anyone who does not agree with your view.


    Finally, you object whenever anyone says that they would not wish to carry to term a child with down’s syndrome or other genetic abnormalities.  That is a choice people have.  You might not like it, it might not be your choice, but it is a choice people have to freely make not to bring a child into the world for which they feel they can not care.   If someone does not feel "able" to adequately care for, provide support for, or bring an additional child into a family, it is not about your definition of "being ableist."  It is honest assessment of that person’s own abilities.


    Like Heather, I find this constant inability to clearly understand nuance and to honor and respect the various choices of various people in their various circumstances both exhausting and revealing.


  • progo35

    article is to video as hydrogen bomb is to atomic bomb. Different material, same result.


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    "Those comments have nothing to do with your claims. One uses
    irony–whether you like how it is used or not–to mimic the claims of
    anti-choice advocates on this site by turning the language around."


    Oh really, Jodi? Than why did you say youself that saying "I support infanticide. Why should I have to raise a child with autism or down syndrome?" was a disgusting comment? Moreover, I find it disturbing and revealing that you link that issue with the issue of someone who doesn’t want to bring a disabled child into the world. That seems to me like you’re either trying to change the subject or support the person who made the infanticide comment. I stand by my assertion that those comments are ableist. Many pro choice disability advocates agree with me.



    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35


    Having had time to think about it, I realize that I made a mistake in making the "rabidly ableist" comment in respect to the list of resources I provided without clarifying what I meant by that, tempering what I said with an explanation of just which organizations I felt were truly ableist as opposed to which ones could be improved, or simply using different language to describe what I feel is a universal social weakness in serving the disabled community. I should have approached you with this concern rather than including your organization on a list. If it means anything to you, I sincerely apologize for the way I phrased my statement and hope that you will accept my apology.


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Frankly, Crowepps, I would find your comment laughable if it didn’t make me so angry. If you really read ALL my diary entries, you will see that the third one I wrote directly addressed the rights of disabled people and the fact that they are being undermined by simultaneously anti choice and anti life futile care laws in Texas and Virgina. So, I have written about disability rights. Too bad you didn’t look carefully at my diaries before commenting on them.

    If you wish to know more about my work on this issue, you may visit



    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • crowepps

      As was pretty obvious from my post, I did not read the individual diary entries, but instead relied upon your (?) description of what they were about.  I am glad to hear that one of them is about futile care laws as they relate to disability rights.  I continue to challenge you to cover the areas which you think are important by creating diary entries here that outline your concerns rather than referring people to your website.  I think a lot of us here would be interesting in reading your views in a more coherent fashion since when they are negatively outlined as a critique of how our discussions haven’t take your special interest into account, it isn’t very clear just what you are advocating.

  • heather-corinna

    Progo: I very much appreciate that and accept the apology.  Thanks.

  • jodi-jacobson

    My personal views on these comments is irrelevant.  This is an open site with policy of freedom of speech and expression. 


    We’ve had these conversations endlessly, there really is not much point to going on with it.


    We will use our judgment in deleting posts that a) are directly calling for violence; b) are, directly, specifically and disrespectfully targetting a specific person and going over the top; c) come from people known to associate with groups that promote violence; d) spam.


    The principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression don’t apply to some and not others.  The very principles are based on the knowledge that we must tolerate speech we don’t like.


    I could easily spend my day deleting comments "I don’t like."  That is not my role, nor should it be.


    And once again, I am not editor of that section of the site and do not delete or otherwise manage that section.



  • progo35

    "We will use our judgment in deleting posts that a) are directly calling for violence;"


    You know, I’m begining to wonder if I wasted my time in college and grad school, because I’m having a very hard time understanding how you can articulate the above-referenced statement and allow a comment advocating infanticide to remain on the website. Perhaps you could explain how, in your mind, infanticide does NOT consitute violence, so that less englightened people, such as myself, could better understand your position. 


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Hey, Emma,

    Thanks! I’ve favorited the site on my browser and am going to take a closer look at it. Another good disability/feminism resource that I haven’t had that much time to look into but want to know more about is FRIDA, which stands for Feminist Response In Disability Activism. I’d like to see RH and other pro choice feminist organizations take a cue from these sorts of organizations and include more disability related topics.  


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Hey, Emma,

    Thanks! I’ve favorited the site on my browser and am going to take a closer look at it. Another good disability/feminism resource that I haven’t had that much time to look into but want to know more about is FRIDA, which stands for Feminist Response In Disability Activism. I’d like to see RH and other pro choice feminist organizations take a cue from these sorts of organizations and include more disability related topics.  


    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • paul-bradford

    Why were these Members of Congress able to do this? Because women’s autonomy–remember: it took women almost 150 years to get the right to vote in this country–isn’t what the men who (still) rule America want for us. Why? Because our gaining our autonomy is about their giving up their power.




    A discussion about power distracts us from talking about justice.  Contrary to what some on this ‘site think, I fully support the goals of bodily autonomy and self determination.  It isn’t possible to track precisely how much power women have or how much power they’ve gained or lost over time, but as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t actually matter.  Regardless of a woman’s power status, it as has always been true that she has a moral right to bodily autonomy and self determination.  No matter how much power a man has, it would be an injustice to deny a woman these things.


    It is, however, possible to track precisely how much power the unborn have.  They always have had, and they always will have no power at all.  The unborn will never be able to assert their right to bodily autonomy or self determination.  The power will always rest with their mothers.  Just the same, though, the unborn have a moral right to these things.  The fact that mothers have the power to deny their children bodily autonomy and self determination doesn’t mean that they have the right to do so.


    It bores me to get into a discussion about a woman’s power to abort.  To me, it’s a settled issue.  Mothers have 100% of the power and their children have none.  If we could stop talking about power we’d have a chance to talk about justice — and that would be a fruitful discussion to have. 



    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice