A Word on Justin Beiber’s Mom


Don’t worry…I do not have Beiber fever, and I am not one of those creepy cougar types who goes all gaga over a teenaged pop star.

Honestly, I’ve never really paid too much attention to the Justin Beiber phenomenon other than the basics. I know he was discovered because of a YouTube video his mom posted. I can see he’s pretty talented and a cutie patootie. He seems to have a good sense of humor when I’ve seen him on The Ellen Show and I respect the fact that he took time out of his day last week to acknowledge a young super-fan who passed away.

Basically, he seems like a sweet kid who hasn’t gotten too wrapped up in his fame, which is, at least in part,  a testament to his mom.

It wasn’t until the past week or so that I understood her story…a teenaged mom, raising a son on her own and she herself the victim of longstanding sexual abuse. Not exactly the blueprint for having a successful outcome to one’s life.

What is interesting is the rest of the story… She found religion and made different choices for herself than she had in the past. She concentrated on raising her son, and he turned into Justin Beieber. I, for one, am happy for her and very impressed with the struggles of her life and how she’s handled them so far.

Her memoir was recently released and she has been making the rounds doing interviews about her story. One topic that invariably comes up is her unplanned pregnancy, and her choice to continue the pregnancy in the face of pressure from her family to abort.

That is where the Pro Life camp picks up the thread of the story for their own purposes. I have had several postings on my FaceBook wall with basically the same message of “See what she would have lost if she’d  had an abortion.” (Implied here is that having an abortion would have been taking the easy way out)…..and that’s where you lose me.

We’ve seen this argument before….Tim Tebow’s mom comes to mind….and the anecdote about a college professor posing a scenario to his class in which they decide to abort a fetus that would have turned into Beethoven…such a flawed and simplistic argument for such a complex topic. As if a woman should keep a pregnancy in case they win the gifted human lottery and produce a child that becomes famous.

Because let’s face it, you could just as easily take the story of Ted Bundy‘s mom or Osama Bin Laden‘s mom or even Hitler’s mom (Hard to imagine Adolf Hitler having a mom isn’t it?) and say, “Wow, how many people would be alive  today if his mother had had an abortion.” Just a different lottery….in this case gifted for evil instead of good. It’s just as ridiculous an argument.

Here’s the thing…abortion is an immensely personal decision. No one should be pressured into getting one when they want to carry a pregnancy and bring a child into the world, and no one should be pressured to carry a pregnancy they feel they cannot.

As a woman, and a healthcare provider I am beside myself. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve had to make a choice about whether or not to continue a pregnancy, both of mine were planned and desired. My gut reaction is that I don’t think I could have an abortion, but  would I feel differently if I were raped and became pregnant or if the fetus I carried had anomalies which would have been incompatible with life, or if my life was in jeopardy which would mean risking leaving the two kids I do have without a mother? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone truly knows what they would do until they are in that situation.

But damn it, I have the right to make that decision. I believe that my husband has a right to some input. That’s it. No one else. Not my friends, relatives and certainly not the politicians in my state or my country. I am insulted that anyone thinks they know better than me about what goes on inside my body, and more importantly (as I am nearing the end of my reproductive capabilities) I am scared for my daughter and for any future granddaughters and great granddaughters I may have. I just shake my head in disbelief that they may live in a country that has stripped them of autonomy over their reproductive lives.

Honestly, I have no problem with anyone telling their story of how they could have had an abortion, and are so grateful that they didn’t. Nor do I have a problem with anyone telling a story about why they had an abortion and why it was the right decision for them. Everyone deserves to know their options and get many points of view, but when it comes down to it, everyone also deserves to be able to make their own decisions.

Oh, Michigan….here we go again.


I go away for a week and the politicians start going stone cold crazy on me.

It’s called a vagina people.

50% of the population has one and most of the other 50% enjoy them.

Apparently, though, it is too foul a word to be used in mixed company and it’s use deserves a gag order, at least in the Michigan House of Representatives…. I honestly don’t even know what to write about this; I feel like my head is spinning with all of the indignation and outrage I feel over the continued attempts of the legislature to practice medicine, yet words fail me.

Frontier Nursing University’s campus in on the side of a mountain in a remote part of Kentucky. I loved it!

Last week I was in Hyden, Kentucky in some of the most beautiful country I’ve seen. Beautiful mountains, covered in forests, small rivers and creeks everywhere. For this Dallas girl who is used to a flat landscape and little water it was wonderful. I was there to attend my orientation at Frontier Nursing University and I had the opportunity to listen to the stories of some pioneers of midwifery. Two of the speakers were midwives who had once ridden horseback through those same mountains to provide healthcare to the rural families who lived there. (One of the midwives stated her age as 86, the other was perhaps in her 70’s)

The interesting thing was that they both independently mentioned how life changing the introduction of the  Pill was to these women. Their mortality rate in childbirth went way down. They and their children were healthier. Both women strongly advocated for reproductive choice and encouraged all of the budding midwives and nurse practitioners in front of them to stand up and fight for women’s rights in the healthcare system.

I honestly cannot believe that in the year 2012, there are white men in suits and ties sitting in a room making decisions which will have life altering consequences for all women, but most especially minority women (according to statistics).

All I can say, once again, is that now is not the time to be silent. Maybe you live in a progressive state where women’s reproductive choices are not currently threatened, but be aware of what is going on around you. If we remain passive, our choices are going to be made for us. Morality is being legislated right before our eyes, and I can’t help but think it is a slippery slope.

I have dedicated my life to caring for moms and their babies. Every birth I witness is wondrous to me, no matter that I’ve seen hundreds of them. I am continually humbled to be present as a new life comes into the world……and I believe with all my heart that women have to be able to choose whether or not to bring a new life into the world.

I hope that we can provide easy access to contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and to support all pregnant moms so that abortion isn’t the only option to them. But it seems that the powers that be want to limit access to abortion, and contraception and sex education. What kind of sense does that make?

So let me end by saying this…….

Vagina.

Vagina….vagina…..vagina…….vagina……vagina…..vagina……vagina…..vagina…..

Take that Michigan Legislature!

Reflection on Birthing and Reproductive Choice


In my last post I did a little Bill Maher bashing, but more importantly I brought up the bugaboo topic of abortion, and then spent a good chunk of the next day reflecting on how I feel about that difficult subject especially in light of my chosen profession as a labor and delivery nurse and, as of this morning’s acceptance letter, a student midwife.

In light of my return to school and following a dream, let me take a moment to post George Takei‘s Happy Dance, since his is much more fun than mine:

OK, back on topic……

I haven’t always been pro-choice. Actually, as a teenager and in the early years of my marriage I was strongly pro-life. I remember having a heated debate with a friend about this issue when I was quite pregnant with my daughter. It was somewhat horrifying to feel my baby moving inside me, and anticipating her arrival so keenly, while listening to my friend argue that every woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy if she feels she needs to.

My pro-life leanings never had anything to do with religion. Back then it was really about biology.  I was so fascinated by early ultrasounds and how you could see heartbeats, arms, legs and movement, and I couldn’t understand how anyone could decide where to draw the line  for abortion being okay, so I drew the line at never. I figured that a fetus, while not viable, was a potential life and deserved to have a chance to live. Of course, as you may have been able to tell by my previous post on sex ed, I was also all about excellent contraception information and access in order to prevent an unintended pregnancy in the first place.

Over the intervening years, I didn’t give the issue much thought. I was raising my own babies, trying to balance kids, work and an across country move and it just didn’t seem have anything to do with me or my life. The furor had died down a bit; abortion wasn’t a big topic in the news. It was all about terrorism, the war on terror and the economy. Then, all of a sudden it seems to me, abortion was in the news again. There were new protests, and new pushes to place restrictions on abortion, so I sat up and started to take notice. And what I noticed most of all was a shift in my own thoughts on the subject.

Maybe I’m thinking of my own daughter, and her options as she nears adulthood. Maybe I’m just being contrary and adopting liberal ideals in response to being in such a conservative area. Maybe I get to see babies born every day who are desired and cherished and want that for every baby that is born. However, as I reflect further on my change in allegiance, I think that the thing that has most influenced my opinion is that as I’ve gotten older and gotten more experience I understand that motherhood is not about being able to conceive. Motherhood is about raising a child.

Having a baby is the easy part. Nurturing, teaching, and enabling a child to be their best self is challenging beyond description. It is at minimum an 18 year job, and truly, it is a job that lasts as long as you live, and I feel that every child that comes into this world deserves parents who want them, who want to care for them, and who will do their best to love them.

There are so many stereotypes out there about the kind of woman who would have an abortion, the three most prominent I think are careless teenagers, women of low socio-economic status who use abortion as birth control, and older, professionally successful women too self-absorbed to have a child. In my experience, though, while there are certainly some women who fit into those stereotypes, most women who seek abortions are just like you (or me) or your best girlfriend. They are single, married, younger, older, and from every economic background. They are from every race and religion and every part of the country. I have sought out friends and acquaintances who have had abortions to ask them their stories and they are all deeply personal and deeply varied.

I have never talked with a woman who had taken their decision to have an abortion lightly, although I guess it happens. The decision was always made with a lot of thought and generally a lot of tears. Yes, there may occasionally be thoughts about the child that might have been under other circumstances, but there is not a lot of regret. They know that, for whatever reason, they were incapable of carrying and parenting a child at that time in their lives and were unwilling to bring a child into this world without the best possible start. Now with the benefit of time, and hopefully, wisdom, I see their point.

I can’t imagine a world where women are forced into carrying a pregnancy that they feel they cannot. Pregnancy and birth are such all-consuming, life changing events; women have the right to be in control of their own reproduction and the timing of when they become mothers. That’s what’s right for women and that’s what’s right for their babies.

Damn it, Bill Maher! Get Your Facts Right!


I’m suffering through my first case of blogging writer’s block. So, I did what any good blogger would do and started surfing the web, praying to the google gods to help me find a webpage that would inspire me and be good for debate.

One of the first things I came across was an article with a clip of Bill Maher discussing the newest Arizona anti-abortion bill…..promising! So I clicked it and settled in for some snark. I know, I know, he’s a jerk and he’s polarizing, but DAMN the man is good at snark.

I’m not going to attach the clip, because the advertisement at the beginning is longer than the actual clip and I wouldn’t do that to you, but the gist of it is that Bill was making fun of an Arizona law that redefines life as beginning the first day of a woman’s menstrual period, thus saying life begins two(ish) weeks before the poor woman even has sex! Ridiculous!

This warranted further investigation. I could feel my blood pressure rising, so it was back to google to see what information I could dig up. Sure enough, page after page about this law and about how stupid and backwards it was. How it showed how far the politicians will go to push their agenda. How it went in the face of every scientific fact known to man. Absolute outrage!

So then I actually tried to find the law, and here is the write-up in case you’re interested.

http://blog.azpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/f12-12-AbortionRegs.pdf

And was I outraged too? Well, yes…..and no.

Yes, I believe this law is detrimental to women. It is now the strictest anti-abortion law in the country and I believe that if it stands it is just another stepping stone in the fight to outlaw all abortion rights. It purports to help women who are being coerced into having abortions while basically coercing women into having a child, and is called the “Women’s Health and Safety Act” which just makes me cringe, because it is clear from the inflammatory language that it is putting the wellbeing of a fetus ahead of the wellbeing (both physical and mental) of the woman who has decided for a variety of reasons that she cannot carry this particular pregnancy.

However, that is beside the point of this particular post.

First of all, the law does not state life begins on the first day of a woman’s period, it states that pregnancy begins on the first day of a woman’s period, and to Bill and all of the other commenters out there on the web, I have to tell you, it’s not politicians, Republicans or religious folk who define pregnancy that way….it’s the medical profession that does that. Yup, gestational age begins at the woman’s last period and is counted for 40 or so weeks and pregnancy has been defined this way for a long, long time.

Anyone who has had a baby knows that when you walk into your healthcare provider’s office the first question they ask you is “When was the first day of your last period?”. That is how the “due date” is calculated and in effect the first two(ish) weeks of a pregnancy, the woman is not yet pregnant. Most women find out they are pregnant after they miss a period, and by the calculated gestational age are considered 4-5 weeks pregnant when in actuality they have only been physically pregnant for 2-3 weeks. Confusing, I know, but that’s how it is. I have to explain it all the time.

 I’m a little aggravated with Bill Maher for muddying the waters on this issue. If you’re going to raise a stink, you should know your facts first, and maybe he does know the facts and was just using the opportunity to make a good joke (I do understand the difference between satiric humor and factual commentary.), but once again I feel like its much more important to arm everyone with information about what’s really going on. There’s no exaggeration or rhetoric needed, so tirades like his and those of the other internet commenters don’t help. We want people fighting against the wrong laws….but for the right reasons.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below.