Monday, August 24, 2015

What We Need to Teach Young Women About Their Bodies

Originally Published on Huffington Post

I used to work in a sexual health clinic. It was interesting but sometimes frustrating work. One day a young woman came in upset and angry about a "discharge" she had that she didn't like and wanted to get rid of. 
"I've been to two other clinics and had tests and they tell me there's nothing wrong with me. But I still have this discharge!" 
I asked her if the discharge was clear and watery, like egg whites. She said it was. "You know, there is nothing wrong with you," I said. "In fact, everything is right with you. That is your natural cervical mucus. It comes every month before ovulation, and it has to do with your fertility." 
We then had a conversation about the mucus changes over the month and what these changes mean. She left, much relieved and a lot wiser. 
Women don't understand their fertility.
At the clinic I rarely met women, young or old, who understand their fertility and what happens during the menstrual cycle. They all know about the blood, although not always why they bleed. But few know anything about what happens between periods. No one has told them. 
Why have we kept this information from young women? Why do we tell them they can get pregnant any time of the month? If it's to encourage young people to use protection when they have sex, it doesn't seem to work. We have given out countless morning after pills (emergency contraception pills) to young women who tell us they always use condoms except that once when they didn't and guess when that one time usually is? You got it, just at their most fertile time. They have no idea when that is or how their body can clue them in about it. 
Educators and counsellors don't know how to tell the story of fertility.
When educators and counsellors don't have the full story, we are afraid to share the information we have lest it be misinterpreted. Some of us think the information is too complicated. We don't know how to explain it, so we don't say anything. 
When I was young, no one really understood what cervical mucus was, what it was for and why it changed over the month. But now we know that when this mucus is wet, slippery, clear and stretchy, it is what we call fertile mucus. It comes a few days before ovulation. 
Fertile window includes cervical mucus.
Some years ago I read an article that proclaimed women's "fertile window" was unpredictable. The conclusion was that even when women considered their cycles "regular" their ovulation could be unpredictable in any given month. The advice to women was not to rely on calendar dates to determine their fertile window, (good advice in my opinion) but not once in the entire article did the authors mention that the "fertile window" had to do with cervical mucus. 
So, while some educators and other health professionals tell young women you can get pregnant any time of the month, others tell them that there is a safe time after the period, when they cannot get pregnant. This may be true for some women, but fertility experts know that if a girl or woman has a short cycle, her cervical mucus will appear early and she will ovulate early too. They know it is possible that the mucus may even be there when she is still menstruating and that it is possible to get pregnant while still on your period if you have a long one. They tell us sperm can live in this mucus up to five days, waiting for the release of the egg.
The mucus sperm love

The mucus sperm love is transparent and elastic. I tell the women, "Check your underpants every day or when you wipe after you pee. If the mucus is there, if it is clear, slippery, like egg whites and if you can stretch it, you are fertile. That is the stuff that sperm love. The mucus helps keep the sperm alive and to swim. Even though the egg only lives about a day after it is released from the ovary, women are fertile longer than one day, due to the mucus that comes before."
Then I usually tell them how many sperm men release every time they ejaculate. When they hear that it is millions, their eyes grow wide. 
The mucus changes. 
"So what happens after the egg has been released and died or been fertilized? Well, the mucus changes. Now it could be described as dry, sticky pasty and yellowy. You cannot stretch it. Nature doesn't care anymore if sperm can swim in the mucus, because there is no egg to fertilize. After a couple of weeks, if the egg has not been fertilized, the lining of the uterus sheds, little by little, and that is menstruation." 
Of course if a woman is on the pill or on "the shot" or some other hormonal method, she doesn't have the fertile mucus because she is not releasing an egg. 
Now isn't that a neat story? And if you are a guy, wouldn't it be useful to know the story of women's fertility and your own? Then you will be informed enough to avoid playing Russian roulette when it comes to protection. Of course, using condoms all the time would go a long way to solving that problem. 
Books for girls don't tell the story well either.
When I was looking for books about puberty and menstruation, most of the books I saw had inaccurate information about cervical mucus, where it comes from, (the cervix) and what it is for (fertility). One book described it as vaginal mucus, for cleaning the vagina. Another said it came before menstruation and also said it was for cleaning the vagina. Another said it came from the walls of the vagina. Another described it but did not say where it was produced or why, and called it "discharge." (I know a lot of people call it discharge but I find that term rather negative.) One of the books reiterated the falsehood that you can get pregnant at any time but then, in another section talked about a safe time! Guess when it was? Right after the period! By the time I had finished looking through these books, I was gnashing my teeth. And I wouldn't recommend any of them. 
So please, let's tell girls and women the truth. Let's acknowledge the role mucus plays (particularly when telling the story of menstruation). And let's tell the story early so the girls won't worry about what's in their underpants, and let's tell it often so young women are empowered by this knowledge. Then they will know that there is nothing wrong with them. In fact, everything is right!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why Are So Many Black Babies Dying?

There aren't many things in life that really upset me. 

Ever since the doctors said that my husband and I would never have children naturally - you know, old school, the way we've been making babies since Adam and Eve - and I proceeded to get pregnant naturally (yep, intercourse) six months later. Ever since then I have been on this crazy road of learning more about women, childbirth, and babies in general. 

Before having my son I dove headfirst into researching my options about birth. Since then I have become a doula and childbirth educator. But it wasn't until spring of 2014 at the Southwest Birth Roundup when my path took a major turn. I listened intently to the incredible midwife Jennie Joseph toss out matter-of-fact statistics on infant and maternal mortality rates among African-Americans. These statistics brought me to a place of great grief. No longer was I just a doula and childbirth educator. In that moment I became an advocate. I wanted to shout from the mountaintops how completely wrong this was. And is.

Then I came home and I looked up more information about these phenomena that I had no clue about. I ended up falling down a rabbit hole of information that truly infuriated me.

This is some of what I learned (see footnotes for sources):

African-American women are three to four times more likely to be harmed or die during birth.

African-American babies are two to three times more likely to be born too soon, too small, or too sick to survive.

The African-American population in the USA is 13.2% (as of 2014). The white population in the USA 77.7%.

However, the African-American abortion percentage is 37%. The white abortion percentage is 34%.

The infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) is 12.2 for African-Americans, and 5.3 for non-Hispanic whites, and 5.4 for Hispanics.

Get more info by clicking this link, and see that the rates stay basically the same across all states in the U.S.

The maternal mortality rate is similarly disproportionate. Looking at deaths per 100,000 live births, the number of African-Americans in the U.S. is 42.8, for whites 12.5, and for other races 17.3.

My reaction to this is: what in the actual hell? Why is there not national outrage over these figures and why did I not know this? I haven't even begun writing about Planned Parenthood. Are you ready?

Planned Parenthood was founded by proud racist and eugenicist Margaret Sanger. If you look her up, you'll find it pretty incredible what she was capable of doing while others bowed at her feet like she was God. She even had black ministers involved to back up her "service," but it was all based in pure deceit. If the devil could dress up like someone and fool people to believe that what he was doing were good, he would dress up like Margaret Sanger.

Here is a nice little quote from Ms. Sanger. "We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." Planned Parenthood does many good things but... (Yes, there will always be a big ol' "BUT: when it comes to PP.)

But... they kill babies. Not only do they kill babies or "clumps of tissue" or "products of conception" (as they would like to put it), they strategically set up shop in lower economic communities, all in the name of providing "services" for those in need.

The major problem with this is that although African-American women make up a small percentage of the population of the U.S, these women make up nearly the largest percentage of women getting abortions. I had someone argue that African-American women make up the largest percentage of abortions because they are the minority. Please someone enlighten me, educate me on how this makes a lick of sense.

In 2011 there were 76,251 abortions in NYC. Of these aborted babies, 9,950 were white, which is 12.5% of the total. A whopping 35,188 were black babies, which is 46.1% of the total. 

Did you know that in 2012 there were more black babies aborted in NYC than born? There were 31,328 babies aborted in the city that year, versus 24,758 allowed to live.

I write this not as a black woman with an agenda against the evil white man. Please, if anyone knows me, I am the furthest thing from a racist, and if you think that I'm racist because I'm writing about the disparities experienced by black women and babies you might want to look at yourself for a second. This is not about you. This is about life. When it comes to the right to life there should be no color divide - but obviously there is.

I am writing this because to me the facts are so obviously sickening that this needs to be a topic of discussion amongst everyone. 

Something needs to be done. I'm tired of not seeing many faces of color in support of life... LIFE! I'm tired of these statistics being brushed off as if they are unimportant. Most do not know them. I did not know most of this until last year.

I'm also very tired of the whole argument: "Well, they had a choice!" As if black women have so very little regard for the life of their children that there could not possibly be any other factors that contribute to it. Let us not forget that I included statistics of infant and MATERNAL mortality rates here. 

Something bigger is going on and it is going to take more than a handful of white people standing up for life. It is going to take people opening their eyes to the immorality that has overtaken hearts and blinded us to this mass genocide. It is going to take more than a couple of black people writing a blog. It is going to take people of color speaking out and standing up for what is right!

I want people to start asking questions and taking action. I want people to stop with their Facebook posts about how abortion is so bad and start actually doing something. Give your money to organizations that provide free or low-cost care to women, that do not support abortion. Adopt

Please, please consider adopting. Volunteer to help support teen moms and moms that are going at motherhood alone, counsel women who are struggling with the decision whether to abort or not. Get involved on the sidewalks in front of these clinics, offering women life affirming, non-violent choices.

We need compassionate, empathetic people to get out from behind their computer screens and actually do something.

We especially need to start empowering each other in this fight for life. Planned Parenthood has not empowered women. They have stripped from millions of women a natural power we as women are only capable of possessing and that is carrying and caring for our children. 

I was asked to pour out my heart and that is what I've done. Now, let's all do something together.

The following are sources for information contained in this blog post. New Wave Feminists always encourages readers to read and research further.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Right to Vote

A right I too often take for granted was won for me 95 years ago today as a result of a brave and exhausting battle when the Constitution of the United States was ratified, allowing women the right to vote.

I wonder if perhaps the women (and men) who demanded that women receive the right to vote would actually be happy with us growing content with it; forgetting it exists because it's so common and expected that we rarely think about it, if we ever do.

But, I know that's simply not true.

These activists gave up so much time and energy for me to have something I take for granted. And not only that, they didn't fight for me to be able to just mindlessly fill in a bubble and put on a sticker. They fought so I could have a voice and make an impact on my community and country by taking a stand and being heard.

Today, I've been a mix of grateful and ashamed. Grateful for the sacrifices of women who came before me. Ashamed because they thought more of my voice than I do.

Regardless of my history of selective apathy in this regard, reflecting on this has me nearly in tears at this moment. I can only hope that I will one day appreciate my right to be heard as much as the women who fought for it did.


Post by Tori Long

Thursday, August 6, 2015

"Poor, Uninsured Women" Deserve Better

I was that girl, the one everybody is suddenly talking about: the low-income, uninsured woman in need of potentially life-saving healthcare.

My husband worked for a small start-up. He was given a $200 stipend for insurance that covered him and the kids. However, if he also included me and my baby-making organs it immediately shot up to $600 a month. Evidently, I’m one of those parthenogenesis mammals capable of reproducing all on my own, and that's a liability. 

So I went without. As mothers often do.

Then one day I noticed something was "off" with my body. Specifically my lady parts. I was terrified. I needed to see a physician immediately but because it was likely to require blood draws and lab work I knew that was going to be way out of my fledglings family’s price range. We were on a budget where ten bucks could make or break us for the month. 

This was about five years ago and at the time I remember my resources here in Dallas were incredibly limited. There were no federally qualified health centers in the area offering well woman care. Most were merely ear, nose, and throat doctors. Many had been shut down do to lack of funding, so when you called you'd just get a busy signal. I couldn't afford the hundreds of dollars it would cost to go to a family physician. I knew an ER would be even worse. I had a friend who attended a local mosque and said he might be able to get me an appointment with their female physician who came in quarterly, but the entire time there was one obvious solution to my predicament: Planned Parenthood.

For around $75 I could be seen by one of their physicians and further treatment would then be put on a sliding scale based on our income. When I told people this they thought I was crazy for not making an appointment immediately.

There was only one problem. I was… I am... pro-life.

I know a lot of people might scoff at that, but in my book abortion is the taking of a human life. And knowing I would likely have to see a higher-level physician, one who performed that procedure, was incredibly conflicting. I knew I needed help and that not receiving treatment that could potentially catch an issue in its early stagesthereby saving my lifewas just that, pro-life. But I still couldn’t bring myself to make the appointment.

I called the mosque instead but when I never heard back I did nothing. Planned Parenthood, ironically, was my only viable option.  

Fellow pro-life activists get mad when I embrace the “talking point” that PP has a monopoly in this country because they think I’m supporting the belief that without Planned Parenthood poor women like myself would have nowhere to go, but the opposite is actually true. I think it’s completely unacceptable that Planned Parenthood is allowed to have a monopoly in this country simply because so much federal funding (around $360 million a year) is funneled straight to them instead of being evenly dispersed among clinics that offer the same well woman care, just minus abortion. 

Over the last few weeks most of us have seen the undercover videos of high ranking Planned Parenthood staff haggling over "tissue" donations from aborted fetuses and whether you view this behavior as admissible or not, I ask you to respect the fact that many of us will never be comfortable receiving care from Planned Parenthood physicians. Ultimately we disagree on what constitutes a human life, at what point it deserves respect, and when it becomes a human being worth protecting. Because of that many of us will choose not to receive medical attention if Planned Parenthood is our only option.

I know we can't all afford the same level of healthcare, but why must poor women be forced to go to doctors who can't even adhere to the most basic medical oath… to do no harm.

Rich women, poor women, all women deserve better choices.


Post by Destiny

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

She'll be back, will you?

I can't help but wonder--every single day--if things would have been different if there was someone on the sidewalk to dissuade me. 

There was. 

She was only a few minutes too late. 

When Brian picked me up from my abortion, he told me about the LOON who said, "Sir? There's still time to save your baby!"

His witty retort? "Well I guess I'm in the wrong place."

He then went to Home Depot to contemplate interior design...

If I could go back in time and thank that woman, I would. And I would ask her to remain vigilant, because I will be back. Every day, I will be back. Every day, four thousand times, I will come to kill my child. Because God will forgive me. Because the timing is bad. Because I'm broke. Because I want to go to school. Because I want him to like me. Because I am an unfit mother. Because she was conceived in rape. Because his father is abusive. Because because because because... Don't you understand? It's all just because...

I. Will. Be. Back.


Post by one of the best people I know, Brice Griffin