Contraceptive Implants and Reproductive Rights

I had no idea what a can of worms I was opening up.

Today is International Women’s Day. It’s nice to know we deserve a day, but there are so many women’s issues that are still yet to be resolved that it boggles the mind. When casting about to find a topic for this blog post, I was quickly overwhelmed. I could have easily written about gender bias, sexism, domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, female genital mutilation, and that’s just scratching the surface. (Heck, I could give you chapter and verse on mansplaining. A coworker once tried to explain to me how to flush a toilet. The email was 3 pages long.) But at a time when reproductive rights are being attacked at every angle, I felt that this particular topic was appropriate. I hope you agree.

From 1992 to 1998, I worked at a county public health department in an inner city in Florida. To be clear, I did not work in the clinic. I have no medical training. I was in administration, so I was more focused on policies and procedures. I interacted with all the departments, and based on my observations, the medical staff had the best interests of the patients at heart. Unfortunately, they were forced to make some questionable choices due to budget restrictions and the political environment in which they were forced to operate.

They gave out condoms for free, and that was admirable, but they went for the least expensive condoms they could find, and they had the highest failure rate. I suspect that many of the people who helped themselves to these condoms might not have had as much confidence in them had they known. It could be argued that a substandard condom is better than no condom at all, but I believe that giving people the opportunity to make informed choices is even more important than that.

Birth control was one of the primary functions of that clinic, as it should be. Every woman should have access to all the information and services she needs to maintain her health in general, and her reproductive health specifically. She should be able to decide how many children she wishes to have, if any, and how she’d like those children to be spaced in age based on her own individual circumstances.

I know that during the 90’s, many women walked out the door of that clinic having chosen Norplant as their primary source of birth control. Implantable contraceptives such as this are 99 percent effective, and they can last up to 5 years. The only birth control method that comes close to that level of effectiveness is the IUD.

During my long commute to work the other day, it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard a word about Norplant in a long, long time. Granted, I’m no longer connected to the health industry in any way, but surely I’d still have heard something about Norplant, if only in passing. So out of curiosity, I decided to do some research on the subject.

I had no idea what a can of worms I was opening up for myself. (Why, oh why do I always say to myself, “This should be an easy topic to blog about,” only to discover that there’s so much more to it that it requires days of research? Once I figure that out, though, I’m already hooked on telling you everything I’ve learned. Anyway…)

First of all, I should explain that Norplant is a Levonorgestrel-releasing implant that came in tiny little rods that were inserted under the skin of your upper arm. They were extremely low maintenance, highly effective, and easily reversible. They were also easily concealed, so the choice to use this method rested squarely with the woman. (As it should, in my opinion, because she is the one whose body and life are most impacted by pregnancy.)

Needless to say, there are certain elements of society that would rather not see women having that much power and control over their own lives. So much so, that even though contraceptive implants are endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control,  the Mayo Clinic, Planned Parenthood, the World Health Organization, and weirdly enough, the American Civil Liberties Union, you can no longer get Norplant and its new and improved version, Jadelle, in the United States. Fortunately, you can still get an etonogestrel implant called Nexplanon which is equally effective. That is, as long as we Americans are still allowed to have access to it. And with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we are all reminded that nothing is guaranteed.

The first website I encountered during my research was rather hair raising in its bias. It was from a crackpot organization called the Population Research Institute. After looking into this organization, I came to the same conclusion that Wikipedia does, and since they put it so succinctly, I’ll quote them directly:

“The Population Research Institute (PRI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Front Royal, Virginia, US. The organization opposes abortion. They believe that overpopulation is a myth, and oppose hormonal birth control in females and vasectomies in males. In addition, the organization issues opinion pieces questioning the veracity of human driven climate change and the natural origin of COVID-19.”

Even without the Wikipedia assist, PRI’s ridiculously extreme and hysterical article on Norplant made it obvious to me that it shouldn’t be taken it seriously. It claimed that this creepy organization had “driven a stake through the heart of Norplant,” and that “population controllers have long dreamed of chemically sterilizing women for extended periods of time”. They go on to say that this contraceptive was so harmful that it could cause you to go blind or be bedridden for months on end, and that when women asked to have these implants removed, the “population control officials” flatly refused to allow it.

C’mon. Seriously?

Yes, some women suffered side effects, as some people do when taking any medication. (Check out another factually warped article by Human Life International, with its laser focus on the remote chances of side effects. It’s like reading the script of a badly written horror film.)

But I think it was PRI’s media campaign that encouraged women to engage in class action lawsuits, and even though Wyeth, the company which produced Norplant, never lost a single one of these lawsuits, after a time they chafed at the expense of these legal proceedings and started settling out of court with 32,000 women.

That blew the side effects thing way out of proportion, causing a media frenzy which scared a lot of people, and the upshot is Norplant/Jadelle are still approved by the FDA, but they’re no longer sold in the United States. They’re still available in more than 60 countries and they are used by 7 million women worldwide.

The Population Research Institute would have you believe that those 7 million women were merely “easy targets” that “lacked the means to fight back legally.” And just in case you aren’t buying that argument, they also say that it causes women to conceive children which are then aborted after the egg “fails to implant in the uterus.” In essence, they believe that life begins at the zygote stage.

A zygote is a cell. The skin you are shedding even as you read this are cells, too. Does that mean that any time we scratch an itch, we are committing murder? Should we hold funerals for every skin-derived dust bunny under the bed? If so, I’ll be busy for years. There’s no nervous system or brain in a zygote. It’s not sentient or viable. It’s about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.

Anyway, it was awfully nice of PRI to close off yet another avenue of family planning for American women. Talk about population control! This organization, if given the opportunity, would force you to have children whether you like it or not.

Fortunately, it appears that most American women aren’t buying what these crackpots are selling. Check out this report by the Guttmacher Institute if you are curious about the statistics regarding contraceptive use in the US. Given its efficacy, though, I wish the percentage of women who chose implants when seeking birth control were higher.

Sadly, not only do you have extremists who would like to eliminate all forms of birth control on one end of the reproductive rights continuum, but on the opposite end, you’ve got the equally scary people who would like to exert control over women by forcing them to have implants as a punitive gesture. Women’s rights, under these circumstances, might be considered moderate middle ground.

According to the ACLU, Norplant is one of the many types of “contraception that enhances the reproductive freedom of women and men,” but they go on to say that it can also be “a vehicle for infringing on the reproductive autonomy of women.” Not good.

It seems that many judges and legislators attempted to mandate Norplant’s use by some women or groups. Some states wanted to give women convicted of child abuse or drug use during pregnancy a choice between Norplant and jail. (Let me state the obvious: Women on Norplant can still abuse children and use drugs.) Other states wanted to give incentives to women on welfare if they agreed to use Norplant. Still others wanted to require women who received public assistance to either use Norplant or lose their benefits. For a time it was quite popular to offer inmates reduced sentences if they got an implant.

I don’t want the government to decide anything about my childbearing capacity or decisions. It smacks of eugenics. I want all the available information on all the available birth control methods so that I can decide what to do with my own body. Men are never forced to medically acquiesce to politicians. Male child abusers are not forced to have vasectomies. Men’s public assistance is not contingent upon his birth control or lack thereof.

This article by the Guttmacher Institute reminds us that every woman’s birth control choice should be fully informed and completely voluntary. That is a fundamental right that accorded to every human being. Even though our rights are constantly being infringed upon, it’s still shocking to me to contemplate that so many people would deprive us of these rights.

The article goes on to describe the horrific history of sterilization abuse in this country, which is against the law now, but has still taken place as recently as 2013. Then it goes into further detail about the many controversial Norplant proposals. Then it reviews the many ways that countries the world over have attempted to control a woman’s reproductive choices by either prohibiting pregnancy because of overpopulation, or prohibiting birth control out of a desire for more workers, soldiers or patriots, or to comply with certain religious beliefs.

The bottom line is that we women are caught in the middle between groups who want us to reproduce whether we like it or not and groups who want to deprive us of the right to reproduce even if we want to. It’s all about control. It’s all about power.

A worldwide commitment to reproductive rights is the only way women can control their lives and futures. Toward that end, please support the Center for Reproductive Rights. The statistics below, which can be found on their website, make it perfectly clear that for many of us, these issues are a matter of quality of life, and, unfortunately, the potential for death. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to make those types of choices on my own.

  • 74 million women living in low and middle-income countries have unintended pregnancies annually.
  • Every year, 215,000 pregnancy related deaths are prevented by modern contraceptives.
  • The rate of maternal mortality in the US is 24 women per every 100,000. That’s more than three times the rate of most other high-income countries.

Make the choice to read my book!


Mahsa Amini: Say Her Name

She must never be forgotten.

As I write this tonight, women in 12 cities in Iran are protesting their utter lack of human rights. They are burning their hijabs and cutting their hair in a public outcry like no other. No doubt many of them will be tortured and/or killed for their efforts. Because, you know, we women need to be kept under control. You can’t have us running around, all willy-nilly, deciding that every single part of our bodies belongs to us, now, can you?

Why is this happening at this particular moment in time? Because of a beautiful, 22-year-old woman named Mahsa Amini. She was visiting Tehran, not causing any trouble, when she was stopped by the Morality Police. Every woman in Iran has been stopped by these sick people, or knows someone else who has been, and women therefore live in fear of them.

The Morality Police decided that Mahsa was not wearing her hijab properly, and must therefore attend a class at one of their detention centers. It was only supposed to take an hour. But other women in the van say that she was beaten and humiliated during the ride, and when she got to the center, she collapsed, lapsed into a coma, and then died in the hospital.

The authorities would have you believe that a healthy young woman with no pre-existing conditions had a heart attack. What a convenient coincidence. But images from the hospital show her bleeding out of both of her ears. That’s no heart attack. That’s head trauma. Her future was cut short because she let a few strands of hair show, intentionally or unintentionally. And does her intention in this instance truly matter? People have no right to kill someone simply because they don’t like their morals.

Before we Americans get all high and mighty about our vastly superior society, please remember that as you read this, American women are dying, too, based purely on legislated morals. They aren’t getting the healthcare that every person has a right to have, and therefore infant mortality rates are higher here than in any other developed nation. It has been legally proclaimed that we don’t have the right to personally decide whether it is safe for us to carry a pregnancy to term, and even the medical professionals we choose to consult can’t make that decision with us, and therefore women are dying from complications. More and more women will be forced to seek illegal and dangerous abortions, because, as is shown in Iran, you can legislate all the morals and values you want, but you can’t make anyone agree with that legislation. Abortions aren’t going to go away simply because you say so.

Please understand that I have nothing against the hijab if it is worn voluntarily. We should all be allowed to dress as we please and demonstrate our faith, or lack thereof as we please. But no one, NO ONE should be allowed to dictate what any woman does if she is not harming others in the process. And no one is harmed by a hijab or lack thereof. What they are harmed by is religious dictatorship.


So take your morality police, Iran, the US Supreme Court, and fundamentalists everywhere, and shove them up your a$$. Sideways. We’re done being obedient.

The death of Mahsa Amini seems to have been the final straw for women in Iran and the men who support them. They have seen decades of governmentally sanctioned violence against women, and they are no longer willing to take it. Mahsa is now every woman. She must never be forgotten.

But the saddest, most telling part of this unfolding story is that I have yet to see any reportage on who Mahsa Amini was when she was alive. All we know is where she was from, and the names of 3 family members. That’s it. That’s all.

What were her interests, her accomplishments, her dreams for the future? Did she go to university? Did she want to? What stories could her friends tell us about her? At the time of this writing, it has been 5 days since her death, and we don’t know any of these things, and we will probably never know.

In a religious dictatorship, women not only don’t matter, but they are so closely controlled that they are rendered all but anonymous. Mahsa was a living, breathing human being. But now she has been turned into a symbol for a long-overdue protest that, I fear, won’t change a thing when all is said and done.

What a shameful, despicable waste.

Please vote.


Thoughts on Freedom

If freedom requires kneeling on the necks of others, we aren’t free.

I wrote this post prior to the overturn of Roe v. Wade. When that happened, I contemplated scrapping this post and starting from scratch. But even in the midst of this hell in which we now find ourselves, the things in this post need to be said, too. So, for my full rant on Roe v. Wade, check out my post entitled, “Ladies, Welcome to Involuntary Servitude.

The 4th of July always has me musing about freedom and independence. Naturally, we all value these things. Independence implies that one is not being subjected to outside control, and freedom is the ability to do as one pleases. We all deserve to have both, but when you are living in a civilized society and you blend those two concepts together, you have to add in a third one in order for society to function properly. That third concept is civic responsibility. Without that third ingredient, the recipe becomes a toxic stew, because not everyone is willing to play nice. If you only have freedom and independence, what you get are people doing as they please without any basic outside control, and, unfortunately, that often boils down to chaos and an attitude of “to hell with everyone else.”

As responsible human beings, we must make sure that the things we want to do are not causing others to feel controlled. In other words, my freedom and independence should not roll right over your freedom and independence. It’s okay to be selfish if what you’re doing only impacts yourself. But for the big picture things, we must be more generous.

I never thought that the golden rule thing would be a difficult balancing act for most people. Surely I am not the only person in the world who was taught about civic responsibility. When did we become so selfish that we’re willing to do whatever we want, regardless of how much it hurts others? Have we always been this way? Maybe I just wasn’t allowing myself to see this truth prior to 2016.

It’s all about weighing the pros and cons of every scenario and choosing the less destructive path. For example, you might want free and easy access to semi-automatic weapons, but if that means that innocent children are forced to do active shooter drills and are possibly going to die themselves or witness the death of their schoolmates, is that freedom of yours actually worth it? Statistics bear this out: countries with more gun restrictions have fewer mass shootings. It’s that simple.

Recently I went to see the comedian Hannah Gadsby. The show started extremely late, because the metal detectors that we all had to pass through had caused such a bottleneck that people were still finding their seats a full hour after showtime. Ms. Gadsby was kind enough to come out on stage and keep us entertained with some ad-lib during that time, which was extremely generous of her. But one of the things she pointed out was that she never has this problem when she tours in Australia. Congratulations, America. This is the society we’ve created for ourselves through our egocentricity. But enough about gun control. Let’s move on.

Another controversial topic: Women’s Rights. You might want the freedom to impose your religious beliefs on everyone around you, whether they agree with you or not, but is that freedom worth the deaths of women who are having such a complicated pregnancy that the birth of the child will kill them? Is that freedom worth reducing human beings into unwilling incubators for rapists? How can you feel free while plunging women and children into poverty, violence and dysfunction, only so everyone will march in lockstep with your beliefs?

You might want independence from big government, but is that independence worth it if it means that huge sections of the population won’t have access to healthcare, and the most poverty-stricken people among us will have a life expectancy that is 14 years lower than it is for the rest of us? Do you have the right to steal 14 years of life from a full grown adult who has parents, children, and siblings who will be impacted as well? And if America is so great, why do we have a lower life expectancy than 39 other countries? That’s pathetic. But as per usual, I digress.

You might want the freedom to bust unions, but is that freedom worth it when the average worker in a “Right to Work” state makes 6,109 dollars less a year than a worker in a free bargaining state? Do you care that “Right to Work” states have a 15 percent higher poverty rate, and a 49 percent higher chance of dying on the job?

You might disapprove of all things LGBTQ, and wish to stigmatize these fellow citizens, and block them at every turn from pursuing the very happiness that you hold so dear, but is that cruel desire worth it if it means that LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers?

You may not like the way an election turned out, but does that give you the right to attempt an overthrow of our very democracy? When did that become okay in your mind? Is it because we never call white men terrorists, so they can do anything that their hearts desire, including wanton destruction and threats of murder, and that’s okay? Where is the freedom in that, and for whom? This is not freedom, and it definitely isn’t patriotism. Being a fully functioning adult means you don’t get to throw a violent tantrum when you don’t get your way.

On this of all days, please make an effort to read the famous, albeit densely packed, speech by Frederick Douglass entitled “What To The Slave Is The Fourth of July?

That speech is the most damning oration against slavery that you will ever hear. And slavery, of course, is the complete deprivation of freedom. The fact that this country condoned slavery for centuries is unconscionable. But read this speech, too, with an eye toward the present erosion of our rights and freedoms. It’s chilling how much of what he says applies to today. For example:

“YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow.”

Well said, Mr. Douglass. Well said. How pathetic that we still have to beg for the same type of compassion that we lacked even then. Have we not matured at all as a nation?

At what point did we decide that a complete lack of civic responsibility and a breathtaking wont of consideration for our fellow man was the best path to take to secure our freedom? How can we, as individuals, feel free while kneeling on the necks of others? When did bold faced lies become the most common currency that we use to get what we want? When did we start admitting out loud the belief that as long as we have what we want, everyone else can go straight to hell?

Think about that while enjoying your fireworks (which, by the way, are traumatizing our veterans and our dogs, but at least you’re enjoying yourself, so happy freakin’ 4th.) Think about that while many of us wonder if this country even deserves a party this year, or if we can really be considered citizens when our bodies are no longer our own.

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library!

Ladies, Welcome to Involuntary Servitude

I have never felt less free in my life.

Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Historians will look back on this and say that this was a dark day, indeed. At the time of this writing, I’ve had time to calm down and get a good night’s sleep, and…

Nope. Who am I kidding? I’m still outraged.

But I’m trying to remain levelheaded so that I can think clearly and act appropriately and effectively. I’m not like the Proud Boys. I’m not going to throw a violent tantrum when I don’t get my way. I’m not going to go off half-cocked (or fully cocked, for that matter) and wipe all the chess pieces off the board before repairing to my bedroom and slamming the door.

I think there are ways to make this better. Some I can’t talk about just yet. Others will require legislative intervention. But the primary thing to keep in mind is that even though women’s rights have been rolled back to the 1960’s, we have something that they didn’t have. We can network and communicate in real time, and now, more than ever, we must do so.

I can almost feel it in the air. Women are using their brains, not their brawn, to battle against this injustice. They are working together, and won’t simply sit back and wait until mid-terms to vote these fools out of office. They’ll be doing that, too, rest assured, but they’re also coming up with creative ways to help their fellow woman in the meantime. (And these are definitely mean times.)

If you can financially support a cause, please do so. If you can volunteer your time, there will be a lot of needs that will have to be met now in a lot of creative ways. Think about what women are going to need and consider ways you can help them. If you can pass along facts and information, do that, too.

And of course, yes, vote. Vote in every election, no matter how small. Vote for your school board. Vote for your dog catcher, if that’s even a thing. Poisonous mushrooms start off small but they don’t always stay that way. We’ve learned that the hard way.

But for those of you who are on the fence, or are morally opposed to abortion, I want to explain what just happened, to you, to me, to everyone in this country. Many of us are now no more than involuntary servants. We have about as much agency as a bitch in a puppy mill. We are being used to produce offspring.

Imagine this. Pick an organ, any organ. The colon? Good choice. It’s low down in the trunk area of your body. That’ll do nicely.

Now imagine that your government suddenly decided that you can’t take a shit without asking for permission. But that would put your health at risk, you might say. They don’t care. But you need to, for whatever reason. (Maybe you had a bad fish taco or something.) Actually, the reason is nobody’s business but yours. Perhaps you just want to gain some relief. Maybe you’ve accidentally ingested a toxic chemical and the only way to pass the poison out of your body is to… well, you get the idea.

How would you feel if that happened? Would you feel like an adult, having to ask permission to use a part of your own body in the way you want to? Would you feel free? (I have never felt less free in my life.) Would you feel like your country gave a shit about you?

Have you also considered that this change won’t impact rich people at all? If a rich person wants an abortion, she can simply fly to Ireland or wherever and have one, and then do some sightseeing. (And while we’re on the subject, how pathetic is it that Ireland, a Catholic freakin’ country, has legalized abortion and we haven’t?)

And rich people are a lot less likely to need this type of service anyway, because they have stellar health insurance, and easy access to the most effective forms of birth control, and are much less likely to find themselves in an environment where they’ll be raped, and will be so well set that they wouldn’t have to look at having a child as a pathway to financial ruin and potential homelessness. They can afford childcare, and they don’t have to work 80 hours a week, so they can actually enjoy their children, when they don’t send them off to boarding school or lock them up in another wing of the house to be cared for by nannies and maids.          

So, yes, the diabolical reversal of Roe v. Wade will disproportionately impact the poor among us, and they, by extension, will be mostly people of color. So now that we’ve learned who the brood mares are going to be, let’s find out what they’ll be producing, exactly.

Why do we want more children in a world that is already so overpopulated? More children will mean more development, overcrowding, more competition for food and resources, more disease, more pollution, more services that will have to be paid for by all of us, and on and on.

But children also become consumers, and those are important to have if your system is capitalism, especially if the rich people making the political systems often own many of the companies that will profit from these consumers. Children, especially the ones that we’re talking about now, who come from the most underprivileged homes, are the ones who grow up to be cannon fodder in our very profitable wars. We can afford to lose a few. There are plenty.

Children born into poverty are less likely to be educated, so they’ll wind up doing those horrible jobs that nobody else wants. Many of them will also blindly follow leaders who quite obviously do not have their best interests at heart. They’re needed for their mindless votes.

And it’s important to have plenty of cogs for this corporate wheel of ours! The bigger the pool of potential employees you have, the more competition there are for your jobs, the less you have to provide incentives, such as a decent living wage or maternity leave (which is ironic), or decent health insurance. So, in essence, you get the poor people to produce the population for you, and then there will be enough of them to perpetuate the cycle, generation after generation.

Have you ever thought about the home lives of people in prison? I wonder what percentage of them were never wanted or loved by their families. How many of them were just another mouth to feed? How much of the abuse that they suffered growing up stemmed from resentment? How many prisoners have fetal alcohol syndrome, or were born addicted to their mother’s drug of choice? Thanks a lot for giving that poor unborn fetus that life.

One friend couldn’t really understand why I’m so worked up about this. Technically, I don’t have any skin in the game, so to speak. I’m well past childbearing age, and even if I weren’t, I no longer have a uterus. (And believe me, many’s the time I’ve rejoiced in its absence, but never so much as I do now.) I don’t possess the organ they want to control, so one would think I’d shut up and fly under the radar.

But I can’t. First of all, I wasn’t raised to believe that as long as I get mine, to hell with you and yours. I could never be that selfish, in spite of the fact that that seems to be the societal trend. I feel the need to fight for these rights that I was lucky enough to benefit from.

I’ve had two abortions. One was because I was way too young and already poor, and a child at that point in time would have chained me to poverty for the rest of my life. There would have been no college, no job satisfaction, no safety, no security, and I’d have been forced into very dangerous, non-supportive living situations. I’m not particularly mentally healthy now, so I can’t imagine what those added stressors would have done to me. The second abortion was the result of rape, and I can’t picture having to go through life looking at my child and seeing the face of my rapist.

Speaking from experience, I know that there are very legitimate reasons for seeking abortions, and people will continue to seek them whether they’re legal or not. You’re not preventing abortions. You’re taking away safe and sanitary environments in which to have an abortion, and you’re forcing them into back alleys with practitioners who know nothing about the medical profession at all.

If you don’t want an abortion, you shouldn’t have one. You have that choice. Why take away the choices of everyone else?

This issue is not about life. If the people that have forced this current nightmare upon us cared about life, they would be moving heaven and earth to stop little kids from getting hit with bullets that spin so rapidly that what’s left of their innocent little bodies can’t even be identified by their grieving parents. If they cared about life, they wouldn’t be sending boys off to wars that we should never have been involved in in the first place. They pretend to revere our veterans, but when one of their number dies in combat, we’re not even allowed to see their flag-draped coffins anymore. If they cared about life, they would be so focused on solving the homeless problem that they wouldn’t have time to do anything else. If they cared about life, they wouldn’t be forcing women to be involuntary vessels for unwanted children. If they cared about life, they’d have gone out of their way to wear masks during this pandemic, rather than not caring who died as a result of their own selfishness. If they cared about life so much, they wouldn’t be so eager to turn away people that seek asylum. If they cared about life so much, they’d focus on helping the lives that are already here.

This issue is not about life. It’s not about the poor unborn babies. It’s not about morality. It’s about control. Pure and simple. It’s about power.

The thing conservatives don’t seem to get is that the rest of us are perfectly willing to let you not have an abortion if you think it’s immoral. But when you start legislating morality, based on your idea of what morality is, not mine, then you’ve thrust me into the kind of law that you call sharia law, because it makes you sound enlightened. We’re now living the very thing you’re so terrified will take over this country.

And conservative women confuse me more than any group on earth. Do you realize what you’ve done? You probably think that none of this matters, because you’d never have an abortion in the first place. But you’ve given away one of your vital organs. It’s still in your body, but it’s not under your control. In some states, women can now be locked up if they cross a state line to seek an abortion in a more sympathetic state. Locked up. They can’t leave their own state. They are supposed to stay put, so that their uteruses (uteri) can be used in whatever way the politicians choose. They are not allowed to decide their path in life or solve their own problems. They are criminalized if they even attempt to do so. Stop disparaging Saudi Arabia if you’re hell bent on transforming this country into that one.

If none of this scares you, then you’re not paying attention.

And here’s the thing I find most interesting. The thirteenth amendment outlaws involuntary servitude. I think forcing a woman to carry a child for 9 months is the epitome of involuntary servitude. Your very bodily functions are impacted. Your mental health definitely is. You’re making an adult beg like a child. And then, if that woman has to raise that child, most likely with no help from a man, then her servitude goes on for decades. You are turning her life upside down, because you don’t value her life at all.

How is this constitutional? How is this not sex trafficking? We’re now chattel. We’re servants. We could be farmed out like dairy cows.

Last night I dreamed that a crowd of white men in sharkskin suits were holding me down and ripping out my uterus.

Anyway… Stay strong. We’ll need all the strength we can get.

We Rallied for Reproductive Justice!

Fight for what you care about!

On October 2nd, 2021 I had the opportunity to do something extremely important. With my dear husband by my side, I went to downtown Seattle to stand in solidarity with younger women, just as the older generations stood in solidarity with me in years past so that I could enjoy the freedoms I have as a female in this country. I mean, it’s thanks to them that I can now vote, have a credit card in my name, and can’t be married off at age 12 anymore. It’s because of them that most of us now take those things for granted. I was grateful for their efforts, so I thought (and will always think) that it was time to pay it forward, even though I’m no longer of childbearing age.

Hundreds of us converged on Westlake Center, just as hundreds and even thousands converged on 650 other marches and rallies around the country. Many of us may have appeared not to have a dog in this fight. There were a lot of men and older women there, and rightly so. Any assault on human rights is an assault on us all.

And assaults on women’s rights are at an all-time high at the moment. Texas’ recent passing of law SB 8, which turns all citizens into vigilantes, is particularly cruel. Not only does it not allow abortions after 6 weeks, even though most women don’t even know they’re pregnant that soon, but it has neighbors and even strangers taking action to prevent you from accessing healthcare

. Texans can no longer trust fellow Texans. They are forced into feeling like they’re constantly watched and that they’re criminals who should feel shame. That is truly terrifying. It has to be stopped before the 95 percent of us who are pro-choice get overpowered by the 5 percent who are not.

Let me make one thing clear before I go on to describe the event. People who are pro-choice are not out here trying to convince or force people to have abortions. We have nothing against people who are morally opposed to, or simply uncomfortable with, the concept of this medical procedure. We are fighting for your right to make that decision as well. More power to you. I will defend, until my last dying breath, your choice to not have an abortion.

We believe that every human should make their own health decisions. If a man who wanted a vasectomy was told that he couldn’t have one because some other random people found it morally repugnant, his head would explode. There’s absolutely no way that the men in power would sit still for any obstacles put in the way of men’s health care. That’s why it’s easier to obtain Viagra than birth control pills in this country. The people at this protest believe women should have the same right to make personal health care decisions. And since some women will make the decision to have an abortion, we simply want those abortions to be safe, affordable, and accessible to everyone who feels they need one. No one, anywhere, should have to flee in secret to another state or country to access health care.

Oh, and I guess I lied about making only one thing clear before going on to describe the event. There’s another thing that I should clarify, if only to head off the comments that I anticipate from trolls. Pro-choice should never be equated with the freedom to not wear masks, or the freedom to not get vaccinated in the throes of a pandemic.

Public health issues such as trying to prevent the more vulnerable people who live amongst us from dying of COVID, are completely different from making a personal choice that does not impact the health of other adults. Wearing masks and getting vaccinated is the very essence of being pro-choice, because we do so in order to allow others to live to make their personal health choices. So don’t even go there with me.

So, now let’s delve into the thick of the rally, shall we? As so many other people did, I came dressed for the occasion. I was wearing my Nasty Woman t-shirt. I also had on my Notorious RBG pin, and my RBG mask which says, “Fight for the things you care about.” I was also wearing my rainbow jacket, because this is also an LGBTQ+ issue. And of course, I donned my pussy hat even though it was technically too warm for it.

In fact, it was a beautiful, sunny day. Perfect for listening to all the speeches. It was almost as if nature was on our side, because it had been the typical crappy Seattle October weather the day before and the day after, but on that day there was not a cloud in the sky.

And the place was so packed with people that it made me nervous. Thanks to the pandemic, I don’t think I’ll ever be used to crowds again. But every single person there was wearing a mask, and I suspect the vast majority were vaccinated, too. The event was held outdoors. We all tried our best to keep a respectful distance from each other, but had a hard time succeeding in our efforts. Normally I’d avoid putting myself at such risk, but the cause is way too important to me to opt out. I just couldn’t do it.

The energy in the crowd was amazing. As we listened to the various speeches, people were clapping and showing support to the various speakers. There were no trolls in the crowd on this day.

The speakers discussed a variety of things. One told us that she never wanted an abortion, but a birth defect that she was born with meant that a pregnancy would have killed her. She had been married to her husband for many years before her birth control method had failed, and yes, she was more than 6 weeks along when she discovered she was pregnant. It was either have an abortion or die, so she had an abortion. If she lived in Texas right now, she would die.

Another had to go through the process of artificial insemination to have a baby, and it turned out that three of the eggs inside her became fertilized, and the doctor said that if she carried all three to term, her life, and the life of the children, would be at risk. So she had one of them removed, and now has a healthy family.

A third woman talked about how she became pregnant for the first time when she was young and desperately poor and about to go to college to improve her life. She had an abortion. When she finally chose to have children she was more mature and financially able to properly care for them and give them a stable life. She also mentioned that she had no regrets making this choice, and she was not traumatized by the simple procedure. (I wish Hollywood and the media would stop keeping that secret. Most women who have abortions don’t turn into basket cases.)

Other stories were passed through the crowd. One that was mentioned was a severe birth defect discovered in utero that meant the child would not be able to live outside of the mother’s body. No way. The fetus had no brain. So the mother chose to have an abortion rather than have the trauma of carrying that child who would be born dead. In Texas, she wouldn’t have that choice.

And there were discussions of battered women whose batterers attempted to force pregnancy on them in order to trap them at home, or the batters who only become batterers after the woman is pregnant, because the focus is no longer on him. And there’s pregnancies brought on by rape, which is a whole other nightmare scenario.

No two women have the same story, and therefore no white male legislator should have the right to dictate what she chooses to do with her life. Women do not owe explanations or excuses to anybody.

As one sign, being carried by a much older woman, said, “I cannot believe we’re still having to fight this sh*t.”

Speaking of signs, people really got creative with their activism at this rally! Here are some of the ones I observed in the crowd:

  • We are not ovary-acting!
  • Abortion on demand without apology!
  • Women of color tried to warn us.
  • Bans off our bodies.
  • Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.
  • Angry people will change the world.
  • Men of quality do not fear equality.
  • Abort the court.
  • Abortion IS health care.
  • Don’t mess with Texas women!
  • Choice for my daughters and granddaughter.
  • We need to talk about the elephant in the womb.
  • I’m with her (with arrows pointing in all directions, and held by a man).
  • If only an abortion was as easy to get as a gun in TX.
  • Texas, where a virus has more reproductive rights than I do.
  • I am a person, my body is my own.
  • Stand with Planned Parenthood.
  • My favorite included a picture of RBG and said, “The future is Ruthless. ACT appropriately. Your choice is supremely your own.”
  • Forced Uterine Containment * Texas!
  • Mind your own uterus.
  • Women’s rights are human rights.
  • I am more than just a womb.
  • I march 4 women who can’t.
  • Do NOT mess with the grandmas!
  • History repeats himself. (with coat hanger) We are better than this.
  • He has no right to tell a woman when to create one.
  • This is why I left Texas and moved to Seattle.
  • I didn’t want an abortion. I NEEDED one.
  • No one is free when someone is oppressed.
  • My body, my decision.
  • Protect Roe v. Wade 1973. Not your body, not your choice.
  • Texas: American Horror Story.
  • Logic of the GOP: (Mask picture) My body, my choice. (Uterus picture) Your body, my choice.
  • Pro-Life Pro-Child Pro-Women Pro-Choice.
  • Pro-choice is NOT Anti-life!
  • Focus on the living!
  • I am a woman, not a womb.
  • If you cut off my reproductive rights, can I cut off yours?
  • Mandate vasectomies.
  • Arrest the owner of the sperm!
  • Planned Parenthood saves lives!
  • Grab ‘em by the patriarchy!

And the best part was that every single sign was carried by someone who cares. Please, dear reader, decide what matters to you and stand for it. It’s the most important thing you’ll ever do. What a day!

As everyone was disbursing, people started singing Country Joe and the Fish’s Vietnam Song. So you can hear the dulcet tones of this song, as it was sung at Woodstock, here. It left me feeling like we were connected to a long, long line of righteous protest. And that felt really, really good.

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What I Thought America Meant

When I was little, I was taught that I lived in the greatest country in the entire world. I thought we set the best example, and that based on that example, other countries would aspire to be better, and someday the whole world would be just as wonderful as we were.

Everyone would be free. There would be no war. Every individual would have equal opportunities. The world would be one big safe, happy, teddy bear of a place. I was so proud. I felt so lucky to be an American.

To me, America meant generosity, compassion, justice, safety, equality, freedom, dedication, love, and integrity.

If you had told me back then that I’d become increasingly ashamed over time, I’d have been pretty darned disappointed. Disgusted is the word, actually. And even horrified every once in a while. (Simply because I can’t work up the energy to maintain horror for long periods.)

How must the rest of the planet view us when we say things like domestic and gang violence are no longer valid reasons for asylum? What happened to “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free”?

And when did we become okay with children being yanked away from their parents? Do we think those traumatized children will grow up admiring us for that? Do we think those children deserve punishment? Guilt by association?

We were supposed to be the poster child for human rights. Are we? When our president shakes hands with Kim Jong-Un, the worst human rights abuser currently alive, and says he’ll “probably have a very good relationship” with him, it doesn’t do much for that image.

I also thought we’d be the saviors of the world. But we are one of its worst polluters, biggest consumers, and we live in a culture of selfishness and waste. We can’t even hold on to our national parks, which is an embarrassment, because we were the first country to even conceive of them. The planet cries out for us to take climate change seriously, even as some of them are sinking into the sea, and instead of setting an example, we back out of the Paris Accord.

Apparently we value the profits of gun manufacturers more than the lives of our children. We allow the very worst of our law enforcement officers to become murderers without any real consequences. We step over our homeless veterans in the streets. And we don’t seem to think anyone has a right to health care.

We elected a man who brags about grabbing pussies, thinks that white supremacy is acceptable, and uses Twitter to lie without remorse. We take great strides to make it difficult to vote, but that’s probably a waste of energy when no one can seem to be bothered to do so anyway. We spend more time keeping up with the Kardashians than we do with the real current events that actually impact our day to day lives.

We have become fat and bloated by our laziness and greed. We flaunt our hate. We exaggerate our fear. We demonize education and journalism. We are not who we said we would be.

I once told a cousin that America is an experiment. You’d think I had peed in his Post Toasties. How dare I say that?

Well, Cuz, do you still think we are solid as a rock, unchanging, and will last forever? Do you really think that this thing we have become has staying power, above all other regimes that have come and gone throughout history? Are we a shining example of the best of humanity? Have we reached some bright pinnacle? Should everyone want to be just like us?

I wish I could be that little girl again, with the star spangled banner eyes. I wish I was full of optimism and hope for this country’s future. I wish I still thought I was one of the good guys.

But I have to ask: Are we becoming our best selves? Because if we can’t do better than this, if we don’t want to do better than this, then there’s really no hope. And that scares me.


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“I Don’t Consider Myself a Feminist”

I always cringe when a female says that. A friend of mine said it recently, and it nearly broke my heart. She referred me to Judge Judy, who, according to this article, says, “I never felt I didn’t have equal opportunity as a woman.” But in that same article Judge Judy admits that there were only 6 women in her law school, and the professors didn’t treat them well. She also concedes that she did all the housework and child rearing even though she and her husband both worked. I’m not sure how she characterizes opportunities for women, but this seems kind of contradictory to me. Yes, she may have overcome those hurdles, but the point is, an attitude of “suck it up and deal with it” does nothing to remove those hurdles.

Here’s why I think everyone should be a feminist: It means you believe that women should be treated equally. It means equal pay for equal work. It means not being harassed. It means an equal level of human rights. It doesn’t mean we’re out to get all men or expect special treatment as is often claimed by those who speak out against feminism. If your primary focus are those who occupy the radical fringes of this movement, then at least acknowledge that every movement will have its fringe elements.

When I have this debate with friends, they often state that they are not feminists because that equality of which I speak should be the way it is anyway. As if the unfortunate need to ask for equality or demand it somehow delegitimizes the right to have it. You may not want to be identified as part of this group, but like it or not, by virtue of being a woman you are being treated like it by outside forces.

Should equal rights be a given? Abso-freakin’-lutely. But here’s the thing: It isn’t the case. Judge Judy is the exception, not the rule. It’s awfully easy to not support the minority that you’re a part of when you’re at the top of the heap, but there are a heck of a lot of us below you, your honor.

And Judge Judy couldn’t have reached her successful pinnacle were it not for the work of feminists. For example, according to this article, here are things American women could not do less than 100 years ago:

  • Have their own name printed on a passport.

  • Wear whatever they wanted.

  • Work in “dangerous” jobs, such as in bowling alleys.

  • Maintain US citizenship if married to a non-citizen.

  • Work the night shift.

  • Hold a job while pregnant.

  • Enlist in the military.

  • Serve on a Jury.

In theory, we finally got the right to vote in 1919, but it actually took decades for that to be universally practiced in this country. Some Trump supporters, even in 2018, want to repeal the 19th amendment. Women fought and were tortured and jailed and force fed and died for that privilege, and yet only 63 percent of eligible female voters turned out for the 2016 election, and 42 percent of them voted for a man who admits to grabbing women’s private parts. I’ll never understand that as long as I live. Do we hate ourselves?

And if the Me Too movement isn’t giving you a sense of how shabbily women are treated in the workplace, your head is buried in the sand. I’ve written a couple posts about my personal experiences with harassment, and I’m pretty typical. Eighty-three percent of American women believe they have experienced discrimination in the workplace. That’s a statistic that ought to be hard to ignore.

According to this article:

  • The more education a woman gets, the higher the wage disparity becomes. The average woman will earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.

  • Only 30-40 percent of all small businesses are owned by women, and they generate 61% less revenue.

In my workplace alone (the Seattle Department of Transportation), in one of the most liberal enclaves in the United States, of the 99 field positions, only a handful are held by women. And when I suggested that they make more connections with Woman in Trades organizations, to attract more female electricians, mechanics, welders and engineers, it went in one ear and out the other. That’s probably because the administration of SDOT is overwhelmingly white and male. I still work with people who use the term “cat fight” and don’t believe women should be bridgetenders.

Women’s rights are under threat all the time. We have to constantly fight to have birth control covered by insurance. No one has to fight to get Viagra covered. And there’s little or no support for affordable child care in this country. There’s constant political pushback against us making our own decisions about our health. Keep us barefoot and pregnant and out of every man’s way. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

And if we are in such an enlightened country, how is it possible that sex trafficking, child marriage, and domestic slavery still exists here?

So when a woman says, “I don’t consider myself a feminist,” what I hear is that they are comfortable enough in their situations to not have to stick their necks out. They have no desire to address the many outrages that they’re in denial about. They have theirs, and to hell with everybody else.

It would be nice if feminism were not necessary. If only wishing could make it so. But now, more than ever, we need to show a united front. Even if you don’t feel like it. If we don’t step up, why should we expect anyone else to?


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There Are Just Too Many of Us Now

I just read an interesting article in the New York Times entitled, In China, Wives Fight Back After Their Activist Husbands Are Jailed. It went on to describe the kinds of human rights abuses you come to expect from China: Defense lawyers being imprisoned simply for standing up for the rights of their clients. Being detained without counsel for months or years. Being tortured. And their families pressured. Children kicked out of schools, wives fired from jobs, families evicted from their homes and prevented from traveling. Guilt by association.

What was new and interesting is that a lot of these wives have found each other and are speaking out and organizing protests. Even though the authorities have told them to be compliant and not make waves, waves they are definitely making. Good for them.

Even in China, one of the last bastions of total public suppression, we the people can no longer be silenced. There are just too many of us now. We are talking to each other. It’s harder to isolate us when we are everywhere you look. The more educated we become (never trust anyone who demonizes education) and the more we connect with each other (never trust anyone who wants to mess with a free internet), the harder it will be to keep us down.

If you want to be on the right side of history, you should consider lifting us up so that everyone wins, including you. Because we are legion. And we’re not going away.

power to the people

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A Few Thoughts on International Women’s Day

First of all, happy International Women’s Day! It’s nice to be recognized and celebrated. I’m glad that organizations throughout the world will be using this as an opportunity to speak out about equal rights. I’m thrilled that this will open up dialogues that many people wouldn’t otherwise have thought to have.

But at the same time, it frustrates me that we still need a day like this. Aren’t we women every day of the year? Don’t we deserve basic human rights all year round?

Recently I was sitting at a table with 15 other women, so I took an informal survey.

  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been touched inappropriately without your permission.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been cat called.
  • Raise your hand if anyone has ever discussed your breasts, behind, or legs without your initiating that conversation.
  • Raise your hand if your opinion has been dismissed as trivial.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve heard a man singing the words “bitch” “slut” or “ho” along with the radio.
  • Raise your hand if you yourself have been called a bitch, slut, or ho.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve seen nude women calendars in public places.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by a man who insists on explaining something to you that you already know.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been treated like an idiot by a mechanic.
  • Raise your hand if men have assumed that you’re not intelligent.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been rejected based on your weight, age, or shape.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized because of something you were wearing.
  • Raise your hand if people have assumed you need to ask a man’s permission to do something or go somewhere.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of not being feminine enough.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being too girly.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told you do something good, “for a girl.”
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drive behind a truck with naked women mud flaps.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been paid less than a male counterpart.
  • Raise your hand if men that you’ve trained have been promoted above you.
  • Raise your hand if a man assumed you needed his protection when you didn’t.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told something was women’s work.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being emotional or hysterical.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.

Try giving this survey the next time you’re with female friends. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that in the vast majority of cases, every woman at the table raised her hand. And that’s probably the most outrageous part of all – that it comes as no surprise.

The only reason that this happens is that we are not in the exclusive group of humans who sports a penis. That simple fact makes “us” not “them”. As far as I can tell, that appendage does not endow people with superior abilities of any kind. It just means we get to be easily identified as being on the other team. And society has arbitrarily decided that our team gets to be the losing team. It’s not rational. It’s not just. And it’s not acceptable.

I for one am sick and tired of being treated to micro-aggressions every single day. Case in point, I looked at my supply of Graphicstock pictures to see which one to use for this blog entry. This, below, is their idea of a good image for Women’s Day. Because we all should be depicted as naked, sexy, thin, with long flowing hair and luscious lips, arching our backs while floating with our heads in a flowery cloud.

Happy Women’s Day, indeed.


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A Message to the World

Hello. I’m an American. Never in my life did I imagine that I would say this, but I am ashamed of the state of my country. I am embarrassed at the face we are currently showing to the world. This is not who we are.

Never again will I look at another country and assume that all its people agree with its government. Because I don’t. Never again will I think of the resident of another country as possessing a stereotypical characteristic based on that person’s place of birth. Because clearly, I no longer fit in here.

In recent months I’ve been seeing a great deal of ugliness. I’ve seen Americans spewing hate. I’ve seen selfishness and greed and intolerance. I’ve seen ignorance deified and intelligence vilified. I’ve seen science discounted and fantasy encouraged. I’ve seen violence. I’ve seen misogyny. I’ve seen fraud. I see more and more lies every day.

I am so sorry that things have gotten this way. I didn’t vote for Trump. I wouldn’t have approved any of his cabinet members or his choices for the Supreme Court. There is not a single thing that this man has done that I agree with. Not one.

I’m particularly mortified that his immigration policies are making so many people live in fear. This is not acceptable to me. I am a second generation American, and the vast majority of the people who live here are descended from immigrants. We have absolutely no right to do what we are currently doing.

We also have no right to treat the Native Americans the way that we do. If anyone should have moral currency with regard to how we treat the land here, it should be them. They should not be beaten down for wanting water that is safe to drink. Shame on us.

We, of all people, should not have the right to negatively impact women’s health at home or abroad. We should also appreciate the good work that other members of the United Nations do every single day. We should be good stewards of our environment, because what we do affects the entire planet.

I just want you to know that many Americans still believe in human rights, freedom, justice, the environment, freedom of speech, science, peace, and respect for all people who do good in this world. I want you to know that those of us who feel this way will not remain silent. We will speak out for the values that we all strive to maintain. Our voices might get drowned out by those in power, but please don’t stop listening for us. We are here.

Because what you’re seeing now is not who we are.


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