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I’m Pro-Choice and I Support Planned Parenthood…Can We Still Be Friends?

A good friend of mine posted this on Facebook today:

I do think it is important we let folks know our position on an issue. That doesn’t have to include efforts to bring them around to our way of thinking or countering every point they try to make to support theirs. Sometimes the best thing is to let them, and more importantly, others, know that we differ and we believe, and will act differently. Breaking one’s silence is sometimes hard but very powerful.

And while I discuss a lot of political views openly around these parts, I’ve never really discussed my support of reproductive rights. I usually jokingly add “baby killer”on my Lefty McLiberal list after “tree hugger” and “gay lover” so I make it known, but I’ve never really discussed it. I know some will just blatantly disagree and hate me no matter what follows in this entry, but if you’d like to know more about why I hold these stances, please read on. I think 95% of my friends and family disagree with me so I’ve never really wanted to throw this in anyone’s face, but I need to own my stance so I thought I’d share the “Why” in case you were wondering.

Let’s start with the more generally palatable side of my support.

Why I Prefer The Term “Reproductive Rights”

During the years where I was struggling with Endometriosis, Uterine Fibroids, and Ovarian Cysts, I had several miscarriages. Some were very early and were just heavy periods. One, however, was later and was very painful and had me basically delivering a fetus on the floor of my bathroom. This experience still haunts my nightmares so that when they discovered a lack of a heartbeat during after my last miscarriage I could not say: “PLEASE GIVE ME A D&C!” fast enough. I had no desire to take a pill to suffer through that again.

BUT…for their own reasons, some women opt to get what many call the “abortion pill” to have the process occur at home, without surgery. And because of this term “abortion pill” – some Pharmacists refuse to fill the prescription and women dealing with the trauma of having a dead fetus inside of them have to suffer even more by trying to find a Pharmacist who will trust her doctor who gave her the prescription enough to just give her the pills.

During that same time we also found ourselves looking into IVF as a way to have babies. That brought us to information about embryos and how we might end up with some frozen embryos we wouldn’t use. The question always arises, “What do we do with them?” Well…we would have destroyed them and we would have struggled to do that if the Pro Life contingent who thought life begins at fertilization had their way. So, that shed some light on the issue for me. I would want to choose what to do with those few cells in a freezer somewhere, and it would upset me if I would be unable to do with them as I chose.

Finally, I also made many friends online who were also infertile during that time of my life. Some with various other issues to fight against. One who had preeclampsia and one who had fetal distress and both ended up needing abortions after 20 weeks. One was able to have it down by her own doctor in her own city/state, and the other had to travel out of state because it was illegal where she lived. Seeing both of those women come to this tough decision to terminate their pregnancies, that really cemented my stance if I wasn’t there already. It was none of my business, it was between them, their spouses, and their doctors – and if they had not had a choice, I’m not sure what would have happened.

So, these experiences are what shaped my view regarding Reproductive Rights because that’s what it is in those cases, the right to make a decision with a doctor regarding your own reproductive situation and have that decision be legal everywhere in this country.

Why I Support Planned Parenthood

I got pregnant unexpectedly at 18, had the baby at 19, eventually graduated college and became a contributing member of society where my son is now a Junior in college and the single person responsible for me not becoming a drug addict living in poverty god knows where doing god knows what.

THAT SAID…

My story took several turns before and after that decision and those turns led me need the types of services Planned Parenthood provides. Now, only 3% of their services are related to abortion, the other 97% are things like cancer screenings and birth control. But, here’s the thing, there was no Planned Parenthood near me when I was young, sexually active, and often under the influence of some sort of drugs. I didn’t get to enjoy their free birth control or gynecological exams with the ease that I needed them.

However, I did need their various services at different times in my young life. ALL of their services. And while I won’t go into the details of when or how I needed what services, just know that all of their services allowed me to eventually become a contributing member of society. I was only a single Mom to one kid, and my Dad helped with rent while I was in college, so I didn’t need government assistance for long. But if places like Planned Parenthood didn’t exist? I might not have ever graduated college, or become someone who could pay taxes back to the system that helped her when she was down. I might have stayed a “burden” on society, someone living in government housing and on welfare indefinitely.

I have absolutely no regrets for the decisions I made, my only wish is that Planned Parenthood had been more easily accessible to me when I needed it most. So that I could have maybe taken advantage of the health care and birth control they offered instead of needing any of the more controversial services they provided.

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And while I’m fairly certain the only people who read this far don’t need this link, here is a story of why/home a woman decides to donate fetal tissue after an abortion, since that’s the hot topic that prompted this entry from me.

Fallout

I come from a long line of Catholics. I married into an even longer line of Catholics. I live in conservative Alabama where most of my near and dear friends are Pro Life. Even my friends who are pro Marriage Equality, are Pro Life. And the reason I’ve never completely audibly supported Planned Parenthood is because I’m scared of losing all of those people.

But, my daughter has been asking about sex lately. Questions that come up based on things big kids say at school. Part of the blame of my unprotected sex in my youth falls on my inability to talk to anyone openly about sex or birth control. I was raised Catholic by a single Dad who I loved dearly, but was not good at uncomfortable dialog. I want to openly talk about these things with my daughter, so she can come to me with any and all questions and needs that arise. But I also want to know that someone is there for her if she can’t come to me. If she needs birth control from Planned Parenthood, I want them to be there for her and I don’t want her to be so ashamed of walking through the doors, that she just opts to risk her health and chance of pregnancy instead.

So I’m speaking out. I’m adding my voice to the millions so that you’ll know where I stand.

I stand with Planned Parenthood.

In Defense Of Selective Outrage

Whenever there’s a big news story that makes people feel ALL OF THE ANGER! there are always people dismissing this type of tidal wave of social media outrage. And then those dismissive people wonder why that news story made you feel anger and not this one. I’ve done this myself and I see it a lot on Facebook because I have a selection of friends and family ranging all across political spectrums. I actually saw that argument used several times this week in the following forms:

How can you be outraged by Cecil’s murder but…

  • …not be outraged by Samuel Dubose’s murder?
  • …not be angry at the factory farming that tortures animals for their entire lives before killing them for our consumption? (This was my stance, and thinking about that is what motivated this post.)
  • …not be worried about the Veterans Accountability Act? (SIDENOTE: This is one of the examples of times this liberal does not side with Obama. I don’t think this bill is perfect, but it’s a start and if we wait for “perfect” we will never improve anything associated with the VA.) (SIDENOTE #2 – I have said time and time again, if you can not think of something you disagree with on your side of politics, or something you agree with on the other side, then you might be watching too much biased media. All officials from all sides of our government sometimes do stuff we like or dislike because they are all funded by lobbying and big corporations, and if you don’t see that, then you’re not getting your news from a wide enough variety of sources, in my humble opinion. You need to sometimes be angry with politicians on your side of the aisle or your being shielded too much by your selection of news sources.) (Sorry for all the parentheticals.)

And I get that…I do. Like I said, I was shocked at how many people were angry about it and really wanted just as many people to be angry about how our factory farmed animals are treated. BUT! I also know we all have our causes that are important to us and when we see people using their voices and their emotions to promote ideas that we don’t think are important, then it’s frustrating. I think about it all the time during Football Season here in the South. People have SO MUCH PASSION for football and since I don’t (I did in a previous life) I often wonder how the world would be different if that passion and money was directed elsewhere. Just like I’m sure people wonder how different life would be if those of us obsessed with Harry Potter would donate that $2,500 to charity instead of tickets and lodging to Harry Potter World.

But here’s the thing…these bursts of what people call “Selective Outrage” are usually not fruitless. People are usually driven to some sort of action. Maybe they stop eating at restaurants where CEOs frequently take their own Trophy/Canned Hunting safari trips. Maybe they donate to the Oxford program that was responsible for monitoring Cecil the Lion. Maybe they start thinking about how the animals they eat on their plates don’t even get the 13 years of free living that Cecil got before he was tortured and killed and they rethink their next egg sandwich? Usually that outrage eats at us until we do SOMETHING and to me, as long as it produces some kind of action towards a greater good then I’m not going to fret about it.

You also see this same kind of frustration from people every October when Susan B Komen colors everything pink. There will be articles and pleas all over the place from people to spread their money and their activism to other fund raisers and DUDE…I GET IT. No one has heard of the cancer that killed me Dad. (Until Tom Brokaw got it, I think more people know of it now.) And yes, Susan B Komen has had some issues lately with accusations of mismanaging funds etc but let’s look at the trend, if your passion or your anger pushes you to make changes or donations or promote causes or learn more about issues that trends us as humans towards better? Then I’m okay.

What I don’t like is when people get REALLY outraged but then do nothing. If someone posts angry Facebook posts but then reads nothing about canned hunting and how a lot of Americans hunt lions, or if they don’t make donations or changes in their own lifestyles, if the outrage doesn’t pan out to educating ourselves or changing habits or donating to causes…then I don’t like it. Then it’s just a piece of flair on our vest at TGiFridays.

But I think most of us read about horrible things…Sam Dubose, Cecil the Lion, Veteran wait lists, and we do something. Maybe we learn more about the popularity of exotic game hunting and make sure everyone in our circle of influences knows we hate it – even if it’s not a protected Lion. (Some hunt GIRAFFES…SLOW HERBIVORES…WHAT IS THE POINT?) Maybe we read about the Veterans Accountability Act and find our stance for or against, maybe we decide to pick up a book we wouldn’t normally read.

Hearing about something awful and then educating ourselves, is never a bad thing. Especially if it leads to action – whether it’s a call to a congressman, or a donation to a charitable organization – then the outrage is not wasted.

But…if you just share an article on Facebook and are just angry with no action, then it’s pointless. Read about how we actually allow the shipping of lions back home after trophy hunting adventures and learn about how listing the lion as an endangered species could help ban the imports after these hunts. Social media anger is a great thing and drives a lot of people to action and/or education, I refuse to dismiss it or roll my eyes at it. I love seeing people fired up about SOMETHING, I love when I am motivated to read up about an issue, that’s how I became an herbivore in the first place. Learning about issues and getting angry about them is never bad if it promotes education or change in any way.

Hmm…So Those 8 Million Articles Were Right.

I’ve been reading about the importance of leaving your cell phone far away from where you sleep for YEARS. But I never really thought it applied to me because I don’t really use my phone when I can’t sleep.

BUT. I use it when I need to know the TIME because there are no clocks in my room and I don’t wear a watch anymore.

So, since I’ve been so desperate for something to help me sleep consistently past 3am, I thought Maybe I should give up the phone-as-a-clock method and see if it works?

Yesterday? 4am! Today? 4:30am!

I AM CURED.

I don’t know about being cured, but not having a “screen” to look at when I need to know the time seems to maybe helped a little? It also means that I don’t use it to wind-down at night…surfing instagram or Facebook. Maybe there’s something to the light itself being a bad thing to be exposing yourself to in proximity to your sleeping time? Maybe?

Or maybe I was just so damn tired it my body was just like, “IT IS TIME TO SLEEP. LET US SLEEP NOW.”

It helps that Nikki gave me a watch for my birthday so it gives me a softer source of light when I need to know the time, and that light doesn’t come with random notifications from apps that I may want to also check after I check the time. Many nights I did end up doing that, even unintentionally.

SO! What other tips from the internet have I been ignoring because I totally don’t think they apply to me?

I’m An Over-Crier.

I listen to the “You Made It Weird” podcast with Pete Holmes. He’s a stand-up comedian (comedian-driven interview podcasts are my jam) and he does these interviews where he asks all sorts of pointed questions (making it weird, hence the title) and often one of them is, “When was the last time you cried?”

I always laugh when he asks that one because if it were me? I’d have to say, “Um…what kind of cry do you mean? Because I cry at least once a day at something.”

The first time I saw the trailer for Max I bawled like a damn baby. When E and I read The Fault In Our Stars we both described the crying we did as “ugly crying” because it was that slobbery, can’t-catch-my-breath, sniffling, sob that is about as ugly as it gets. It has now become the definition for the worst crying I know how to do, and that trailer for Max? Was most definitely a TFiOS cry. I haven’t watched another one since – even though I knew I’d want to see the movie. But I won’t see the movie until I’m by myself and am armed with kleenexes…because I know it will be a TFiOS cry. Also? The episode of The Fosters in season 2 when Lena has to give up her pregnancy due to the threat on her own life? TOTALLY A TFiOS CRY. Thankfully the TFiOS cry only hits me once every month or two.

When I used to listen to the radio back before iPods or cell phones, I would hear these commercials for On-Star which was (Is? Maybe it still exists?) was a service connected to your car that would allow you to immediately talk to an On-Star agent who could give you directions or call for a tow truck. One of them was a real recording of a little girl calling because her Mom had passed out and they were on the side of the road and she didn’t know what to do. Hearing that very real and very terrified voice talking about her Mommy that wouldn’t wake up? Always made me cry. Not a TFiOS cry, but a real cry with real tears, but tears that are easy to stop because I can rationalize away what is making me cry. I do the On-Star cry the most often. It hits me whenever I heard someone on NPR talking about something tragic going on around them. Not the news person, but the interviewee. Their voice and their very real pain will cause tears to suddenly form but I can usually stop them kinda quickly before anyone around me notices. The On-Star cry hits (on average) of at least once or twice a week.

I saw a YouTube video once of this woman who was suddenly being overwhelmed by cuddling needs of a small pony. It was totally adorable as the pony was obviously desperate for the love and petting and affection this woman was giving and the woman was laughing and loving every second of it and suddenly my eyes were wet watching it. No real tears, but wet eyes that I had no control over. Sometimes that sudden sensation forms the lone tear if the picture or the story or the video is long enough, but usually I see the trigger, the eyes get a little teary, and then the sensation will pass usually without anyone around me even knowing the tears kinda made a brief appearance. This is my Cute Animal Video cry because that is the dumbest thing in the world for a trigger…a cute animal. But it hits me DAILY, whether is a beautiful birthday message written on a friend’s wall or a video of a laughing baby…at least once a day something, somewhere, causes the eyes to go wet and me to get suddenly self conscious about being THAT GIRL WHO CRIES AT EVERYTHING.

I’ve gotten pretty decent at hiding it over my life because it is such an embarrassing condition, and sometimes I can brace myself in groups (like at weddings and funerals) and actually prevent it from happening, but not always. If I’m somehow the center of attention I can usually stifle it, but I sat in the back row of a funeral where I knew no one and cried like a baby recently. Mainly because I could and no one would care because they had no idea who I was.

But I happy-cry at 99% of the YouTube wedding videos that go viral. Even the ones that are meant to make you laugh. I’m the one crying because EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY, I CAN’T HELP IT. I cried the happy-cry several times a day at Harry Potter World. I mean, OF COURSE I DID.

So…yeah. The last time I cried? This morning. When I saw another Dog Freaks Out When Soldier Owner Comes Home video. I’ll definitely cry on the way to work when NPR does interviews with Syrian refugees. I’ll then cry again later at another, “First Time My Child Could Hear My Voice” video of maybe a, “Mother and Son Do Best Dance Ever At Wedding” video. Then I’ll read an article about a woman who elected to have a late-term abortion due to the health of the fetus and the recommendation of her doctor and I’ll sob over my phone. On the way home NPR will do a report about Cecil the Lion and I’ll tear up over that. I’ll come home and watch an episode of The Fosters which doesn’t make me cry as often as Parenthood (I had to stop watching that one because of that) but does hit me in the feels at least once every 2-3 episodes. I’ll goof off on the internet at the end of the day and catch a video of Surprised Snorkelers Get To Play With Seals and I’ll happy cry a little before bed.

When was the last time you cried?

Let’s Talk About “The Talk”

MY KID TOLD A DIRTY “DEEZ NUTS” JOKE YESTERDAY AND IT WAS TERRIBLE.

Okay. I’ll stop yelling.

He told the joke to Donnie on the way to school yesterday morning. It went, “Hey…do you know what your girlfriend choked on last night?” “What?” “DEEZ NUTS!”

I’ll let you sit with that for a moment. That joke my SEVEN-YEAR OLD MADE.

Oops. Yelling again.

I guess a 11-year old boy from school taught him that joke on Friday. And I guess the “Deez Nuts!” jokes are quite common but not usually that dirty. It’s kinda like, “My butt!” in the sense that it’s today’s goofy response to all questions I guess? Maybe? But usually not SO FREAKIN’ DIRTY. ACK.

But!…I’ve been fielding a lot of sex questions and discussions about inappropriate jokes lately and I think it has to do with the proximity of older kids at this daycare the kids are going to this summer. I just feel like Wes especially has come home with a lot of questions I didn’t think I’d have to answer yet. I have been so grateful to a TED talk I watched a long time ago that referenced this issue because it taught me one simple rule and I thought I’d share it here.

Only answer what they ask.

A lot of times we hear a question and we panic OH, GOD. THIS IS IT. THE SEX TALK. and so we dodge the question because we’re not ready. But that TED talk said that only answer what they ask (unless you haven’t had the “Sex” talk yet of course and you think it’s time – then by all means use any conversation as a starting point) and that’s been really necessary lately as Wesley has asked some pretty interesting questions.

“How does the baby get inside the Mom’s stomach?”
“It grows there, it starts out super small…so small you can’t see it without a microscope.”

“What’s a condom?”
“It’s what a boy wears on his penis during sex to protect everyone from getting diseases or giving diseases to the person he’s having sex with. It can also keep a girl from getting pregnant.” (I braced myself for follow-ups but there were none.)

“How does a woman get pregnant if she’s gay? Don’t you have to have a boy and girl to make a baby?” (This is from catching a few minutes of The Fosters)
“There are different ways, all requiring a Doctor’s help, but in this situation they got permission from a man they knew/respected/loved and they used his sperm to fertilize her egg to make a baby.”

All of these questions could have lead to more, but the general idea behind only answer what they ask is that if you answer the questions they have, they’ll feel comfortable to ask more when they need more information, but you don’t have to force conversations they might not be ready for yet. Often they just hear things they don’t really understand and that doesn’t mean they need a FULL conversation about it, but the talk mentioned the importance of still answering all their questions as simply as possible and only give follow-up if they seem to want it.

Although, the one he asked in the car on the way to dinner we were a little unprepared for. “Have you and Daddy ever had sex?” LUCKILY, we were both in the car and both immediately on the same page so we laughed and said, “How do you think you all got here? We had to have sex to have you guys.” And they both moaned audibly.

WHAT IN THE HELL? WHY IS ALL OF THIS HAPPENING SO FAST?

I did then point out to him that a person’s sex life was a very personal thing and that we didn’t mind answering questions in general but he really shouldn’t quiz other people on personal things like that. I suddenly had this fear of him asking teachers at school if they had sex with their husbands. OH MY GOD, I WOULD DIE.

Have you had this experience? A kids spending time around older kids and then suddenly having questions you weren’t quite ready for? DID YOU LOCK THEM UP UNTIL YOU WERE READY? Jeez.