Tag Archives: abortion

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

On occasional Fridays, I point you towards some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Wherever you fall on the abortion debate, New York Magazine’s accounts by 26 women who’ve had abortions is heartbreaking and harrowing.

2. Equally compelling is one woman’s story about what it’s really like to be poor over on Alternet. Best thing I’ve read in ages. (Hat tip: Communicatrix)

3. On a lighter note, The Atlantic has given us a glimpse of what Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address would look like in Powerpoint.

4. Of the many tributes to Nobel Prize-winning short story writer Alice Munro, I really enjoyed Kristen’s “mother-writer” take over on Motherese.

5. In case you’re on the market, Why Dev offers 52 reasons to date an aid worker.

6. When the OED recently added “selfie” to its list of words, BBC Persia compiled this wonderful composite of selfies from around the region.

7. The Guardian once again outdoes itself with this photo shoot on the world’s oddest jobs – in pictures.

8. And finally, just in case you’re wondering, here’s a glossary of old disease names that are no longer in use. Personally? I think I suffer from abasia.

Have a great weekend folks!

Abortion Research: Is It Ever Unbiased?

In an election year in which women’s reproductive health issues are already front and center, allow me toss one more log onto the fire. A new study has been released challenging the notion that abortion has long-term mental health effects for women.

The study – which was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research – is actually a refutation of an earlier study in the same journal which purported to show that mental health disorders (like panic attacks, depression, substance abuse and post traumatic stress disorder) were higher in women who had terminated their pregnancies.

This initial study was used to inform a number of recent state efforts to restrict abortions, including – most recently – the controversial Virginia proposal that would have required women to undergo a transvaginal ultra-sound before going ahead with the procedure.

But apparently, the methodology in the original study was deeply flawed. By including all lifetime mental health disorders of the women in their sample – rather than only those instances occurring after the abortion took place – the study’s claims were utterly unsubstantiated.

Read the rest of this post at The Washington Post’s She The People blog

 

Image: I had an abortion by Willem Velthovenen via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Abortion and Regret: The Remorse Can Cut Both Ways

There’s a scene in the movie “Fish Tank,” (often hailed as the U.K.’s answer to “Precious,”) in which the mother of the 15-year-old heroine tells her daughter that she’d intended to abort her.

It’s a difficult thing to listen to — and to watch the mixture of pain, anger and confusion that passes across the teenage daughter’s face. But one of the many things this brutally realistic film forces you to do is confront the question of what each of these female’s lives might have been like without the other.

In the Woman Up thread that’s coalescing around the issue of feminism and abortion and summarized by my colleague Bonnie Goldstein, some of my sister bloggers have described regret as a component of many abortion decisions. Joanne Weiner quotes President Obama saying something along the lines of “I know that many women today are still regretting that abortion they had 20 years ago.” My colleague Mary C. Curtis similarly notes that she’s heard plenty of regrets and one woman even say, “When I was on that table, I knew I would never let this happen again.”

I agree that there’s probably plenty of regret out there on the table (so to speak). But there are other ways in which regret enters into this equation that we talk about much less.

Read the rest of this post at www.PoliticsDaily.com

Image: Pregnant Woman by Bete a Bon-Dieu via Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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'Abortion Ad' In U.K. Provokes Controversy

The first ad ever to offer advice on abortion services was screened on British television Monday night. In a country long known for its reserved demeanor, the ad has provoked vociferous praise and condemnation.

Much like the Focus on the Family ad featuring Tim Tebow that aired in the United States during the Super Bowl this year, the so-called “abortion ad” is fairly ambiguous. The 30-second spot features a number of women from different walks of life who are “late.” A voice-over then says that “Being late for a period could mean pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and not sure what to do, Marie Stopes International can help.” There is no mention of the word abortion. Just a closing shot with the words “Are you late?” and a phone number underneath. (You can watch it here).

Marie Stopes International is a non-profit network of sexual and reproductive health clinics in the U.K. analogous to Planned Parenthood in the United States. According to their chief executive, Dana Hovig, “We hope the new ‘Are you late?’ campaign will encourage people to talk about their choices, including abortion, more openly and honestly, and empower women to reach confident, informed decisions.” Last year alone, Marie Stopes International received 350,000 calls to its 24-hour helpline. The organization decided to commission the ad after a study found that less than half of U.K .adults said they would know where to go for specialist advice if they faced an unplanned pregnancy, other than to their general practitioner.

But many do not see this merely as an ad about making informed choices…

Read the rest of this article at www.PoliticsDaily.com.


Image: 2007-07-14 Mattock Lane, Marie Stopes Clinic – All Deliveries To The Side Door

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Join A Book Club

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I’ve been thinking a lot about book clubs lately.

It started when I read this vaguely dismissive piece in the New York Times about why reading has become “too social” and should remain a fundamentally private experience.

Then I read Kristen’s post over on Motherese yesterday about the sheer variety of book club experiences out there and her uncertainty as to what she’s meant to get out of them anyway.

I can relate to both points of view. I’ve been in several book clubs over the course of my adult life and they’ve all been quite different from one another. At times, I’ve been quite frustrated by these clubs, whether because people came to the meeting not having finished the book (gasp) or because they chose titles that I thought were too…cheesy. (For a great spoof on the potential shallowness of book clubs, see this New Yorker piece.)

I’ve since reformed my ways and come to see that you go to book clubs for lots of different reasons, and it’s best to just chill out and lower your expectations.

And so, as a reformed book club snob (Yes, Katy, that’s my definition!), let me offer five reasons that I think it’s a good idea to join a book club:

1. You meet interesting people. IMHO, the trick is not to join a book club full of your best friends. Some people do that and absolutely love it. But I find book clubs more interesting when none of my close friends are in them. After all, I’ll probably end up talking about books with my close friends anyway. But I’ll learn more from drawing upon a wider range of individuals. My current book club is composed of a bunch of women I almost never see (except occasionally on the street) and that’s precisely why I like it. It features – among others – a midwife, an entrepreneur, a SAHM and an urban planner. These ladies hail from all over the world. So in addition to gaining their quite distinct takes on the book at hand, I also gain a window into their lives, which are so very different from my own.

2. You read things that you wouldn’t otherwise read. Which ties to point #1, because people who are outside of your immediate circle of friends are more likely to have literary tastes that differ from your own. For example, I just read Stieg Larson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It’s a thriller set in Sweden with loads of sex and violence and family sagas. Though I’m still not convinced that it’s a great “book group” book (see point #3), it was a terrific read and I absolutely devoured it. But I never would have gone near it with a ten foot pole had it not been for book club.

3. Some books need to be discussed. This gets back to the New York Times article and the idea that reading should (arguably) remain a private pursuit (although, to be fair, the author of that article acknowledges that some particularly difficult books demand discussion.) A case in point: José Saramago’s Blindness, which I also just read in my book club. Wow! What an amazing novel. It totally changed the way that I think about fiction. But what was it about? Clearly, it was an allegory of some sort. But for what? Authoritarian rule? Religion? Capitalism? All of the above? We all had different ideas about what this great book “meant” and I felt like I understood it so much better having talked about it.

4. You eat great food. Most book groups entail some sort of snack alongside them, and usually – let’s be honest – some alcohol. I had grown accustomed to the standard wine/cheese/grapes fare at my old book club in Chicago, and that suited me fine. But, boy did they up the ante when we moved to London. One of my hostesses is Swedish, and she regularly prepares Swedish mulled wine – appropriately named Glögg – as well as Swedish apple tarts whenever we meet at her home. Yum!

5. Sometimes it’s fun just to chat. Finally – all book clubs – no matter how serious, entail some chit chat. And that’s just how it should be. Whether or not you’re in one that’s all-women – as seems to be the norm – or contains “the male element” (as someone ominously referred to men recently…yikes! sounds contagious!) we all thrive on friendship as we grow older. And book clubs are a great excuse to make and keep friends.

*****

I was delighted to get this shout-out on the fabulous Alpha Mummy blog in London today for my recent piece on peanut allergies.

*****

I’m over on PoliticsDaily.com today talking about why I think Nicaragua’s abortion ban is inhumane and backward. (But other than that, I think it’s really great…) Have a look.

Image: My Book Group Met At A Knit Shop by ellenmac11 via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. You may be Tigered out, but of all the volumes of things I’ve read on Tiger Woods in the last two weeks, this piece by Jay Michaelson about our (absurd) cultural attachment to the ideal of monogamy struck me as the most intelligent. (And I say this as someone who encourages the practice.)

2. Regardless of where you fall on the abortion issue, this is one of the most compelling interviews I’ve ever heard on any topic in my entire life. It’s an interview on BBC Radio 4’s program The Choice with Dr. Warren Hern, the only doctor who still provides late-term abortions in America.

3. I really enjoyed this in-real-time description of what it’s like to write with small children around by Stephanie McGee in Literary Mama.

4. And speaking of literary mamas, my new favorite Mom blog is Motherese. Kristen has a wonderfully fresh and honest voice and I admire her dedication.

5. I was sad to learn about the death of the book tour (via @gretchenrubin).

6. Finally, for those who are interested, here are my posts this week from PoliticsDaily.com, one on challenges to the restrictive abortion law in Ireland, and another on a prostitute turned PhD called Belle de Jour.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Tangible Signs That You're Middle Aged

“Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.”

–Bob Hope


Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Yesterday, I talked about middle age as a set of attitudes. Today I’d like to complement that idea with five concrete signs that you’re middle aged:

1.You start re-reading classics. I’m a big believer in the value of re-reading. But while in Waterstone’s the other day (UK equivalent of Borders), I saw a bookmark entitled “50 Books To Read Before You Die.” And suddenly I had this panic attack that I hadn’t read every single book on the list.  As it happened, I was already re-reading Wuthering Heights for my book group. But as soon as I saw that bookmark, I ran back to embrace Heathcliff with reckless abandon!

2.You leave Parties Before Midnight. I remember once taking this personality test which asked “Do you leave parties before or after midnight?” I dismissed the question entirely because at that point in my life, I didn’t show up to parties until after midnight. Boy, how times have changed. And it’s not just that I now have to pay a sitter when I go out. I actually find myself craving the solitude of…well, Heathcliff.

3. You decline alcohol because you need to exercise the next day. OK, in truth I don’t do this all that much. But I do restrain myself far more than I once did. For heaven’s sake, I used to smoke a cigarette *after* returning from a run. Or go running…to escape a hangover. Now my aging body does the mental calculation of how that morning run will feel after just one glass of wine and I find myself re-considering it.

4. You Start Renting BBC Mini-Series. It’s one of those sad truths of parenting that once you have kids, you never go out to movies anymore. My husband and I thought we’d be different than everyone else on this score but, of course, we’re not. Sure, we go to see a few of the big hits every year. I’m too much of an Oscar fan to skip those. But most of the time we rent movies about six months behind their release date. Lately, however, we have found ourselves renting assorted BBC mini-series that ran – gasp – in like the 80’s. Worse, we find them bizarrely addictive. Don’t believe me? Check out House of Cards. Tell me if you’re not hooked after Episode One.

5. You buy that Joni Mitchell album. You know that one – Both Sides Now – where she goes back and sings…Both Sides Now, except that her tone’s a little more plaintive, a little more somber, a little more…middle-aged. Worse, you buy it because you saw it featured in Love, Actually in that scene with Emma Thompson crying in the bedroom. And it’s haunted you ever since. Admit it. It has.

*****

Check out my response to the latest study showing the costs of unsafe abortions worldwide.

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Image: Joni Mitchell self-portrait by Jenny J via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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