Posts by Kelly
Posted on 10.17.2012 by Kelly
I first read about Dr. Marie Equi in a book I bought this summer, Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils, which awesomely describes her as “an anarchist, a supporter of the women's suffrage movement, an illicit abortion provider, an activist fighting for working-class rights, and an open lesbian.” I decided to check out a zine biography of her life called Queen of the Bolsheviks: The Hidden History of Dr. Marie Equi by Nancy Krieger, which I later found out was originally published in the journal Radical America and is available online here. Most of the information from this post was taken from this essay, and I would highly recommend it.
Marie Equi was a contemporary of Emma Goldman, born in 1872 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Her mother was originally from Ireland and her father had immigrated from Italy; both parents brought their experiences under one form of occupation or another in teaching Marie to “abhor absolutism, monarchy and oppression” (Queen of the Bolsheviks). Marie started working in the textile mills of New Bedford at age 8 and came down with tuberculosis at age 13. She recovered and went to live with her grandfather in Italy from 1886-1889. Upon her return to America Marie decided to move to Oregon with her friend, Bess Holcom, who had been offered a job as a teacher there. In one example of Marie Equi's badassery, upon finding out that the school superintendent decided not to give Bess a job after all, Marie confronted him in the streets with a horsewhip. As written in Queen of the Bolsheviks, “needless to say, Bess got her job.”
As for Marie, she began studying at the Physicians and Surgeons Medical College in San Francisco in 1900. She later transferred to the University of Oregon Medical School once they began admitting women, and received her degree in 1903. In the years after graduating, she set up a medical practice treating working-class women and children and also became involved in the movement for women's suffrage. After the devastation of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco she rallied a group of doctors and nurses from Portland to help tend to the southern city's injured. During this time she also began a relationship with a woman named Harriet Speckart, with whom she lived until 1920. The women adopted a baby named Anna in 1915, when Marie was 43 and Harriet was 32.
Although she always had a working-class consciousness and had been active in reform-oriented politics, Marie quickly became radicalized after witnessing the brutality of repression as well as the hypocrisy of reformers during the Oregon Packing Company fruit cannery workers' strike in 1913. Soon after this she became involved with the International Workers of the World (IWW), working on campaigns supporting timber workers in the Northwest. She remained active with the IWW throughout her life, responding to national events such as the Everett Massacre in Massachusetts in 1916, and the 1934 West Coast Longshoremen's Strike. Marie also joined the American Union Against Militarism not long after the start of World War I. Her involvement with this organizations led to her arrest in 1918 after saying that “workers should not participate in a war where they would be killing fellow workers at the bidding of their masters” during an antiwar speech for a group of IWW members (Queen of the Bolsheviks). During her trial the prejudice against her political beliefs was transparent, and she was sentenced to three years in jail as well as a $500 fine. Marie appealed her case, but her appeals were denied and she began a shortened sentence on October 19, 1920.
While in jail, Marie wrote extensively to her large network of activist friends, including Margaret Sanger, with whom she had become close after their meeting in 1916 when Sanger came to Portland on a speaking tour discussing the necessity of legal birth control. Equi was a proponent of birth control and in her medical practice provided abortions to anyone who needed them. During Sanger's Oregon visit, Marie edited her pamphlet on birth control and defended her associates against obscenity charges. Bonded by their shared political involvement, the women became lifelong friends. It should be noted that while Margaret Sanger was instrumental in gaining widespread acceptance and distribution of contraceptives, she was also a racist supporter of eugenics. As with the development of the birth control pill and the IUD, which I hope to write about soon, it is disgusting that much of the research and support for potentially lifesaving technologies has been accompanied by racism, colonialism, and classism in addition to sexism.
Upon her release from jail in 1921, Marie led a much quieter life. She was not inspired by any of Portland's political activities throughout the 1920's. However, she did house another female IWW activist named Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who was in need of rest after campaigning for the release of anarchist political prisoners Sacco and Vanzetti. Elizabeth lived with Marie for ten years, from 1926-1936, taking care of Equi after a heart attack in 1930. After this point Equi was largely confined to bed, but was visited by many younger activists in her later years. Not much is known about the end of Marie's life, but she died in 1952 having enriched the lives of her many friends and those she served as a physician and activist committed to ending militarism and capitalism. It is inspiring to read about Dr. Equi today, and I am happy to include her in this series uncovering radical figures and movements in health history.
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Posted on 10.01.2012 by Kelly
I recently decided that I would like to switch birth control methods, from male condoms to the copper ParaGard IUD. Having recently gotten health insurance coverage after a summer of being unemployed and uninsured, I excitedly searched the list of covered benefits on my insurer's website, certain that the IUD would be included. However, under the category of "Implanted Contraceptives" bold letters read, "Not Covered." This is extremely frustrating, considering that implanted contraceptives, often referred to as long-acting reversible contraception, are the most effective of all contraceptive methods, with typical use failure rates of 0.05-0.8%. Also frustrating is that other than the diaphragm, the only reversible methods covered by my insurance plan are hormonal. The full cost of the ParaGard is $754, which does not include the insertion fee and the cost of associated tests for pregnancy and STIs. This is not something I can afford at this point in time, and considering the alternative of condoms bought online in bulk for around $0.30 each the cost seems even harder to justify. But, considering the efficacy and long-term nature of the IUD, it is a method I would like to use, and I've spent the last couple of weeks calling several clinics to determine eligibility for sliding scales and other programs for a reduced price, which is a work in progress. In the midst of this somewhat stressful process, a number of interesting and heartening articles regarding the IUD have come out recently, further fueling my confidence in this choice as right for me at this particular time in my life.
For your Monday reading pleasure, here are a few such articles:
"IUDs and Contraceptive Implants Safe for Teens" If you haven't heard, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently released a statement encouraging the use of IUDs by teens, a move that will hopefully help assuage practitioner and patient fears of infertility and other long-term negative effects for people who have never had children.
"Why Don't More American Women Use IUDs?" This article from Mother Jones has some interesting graphs and insights concerning the relatively low rate of US IUD use as compared to worldwide use of the method.
"How can a small piece of copper prevent you from getting pregnant?" I found this recent piece helpful in better understanding how the copper IUD works.
"Switching Contraceptives Effectively" While not talking specifically about the IUD, I found this article to be really helpful and relevant for folks who are looking to switch to a different method.
And finally, this is not new, but I think this comic about one person's experience getting an IUD is really cute.
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Posted on 9.14.2012 by Kelly
“I'd have sometimes 4 babies a night...I'd wade in water up over my knees to get to people's houses.”
So Margaret Charles Smith described her work as a midwife, catching 3,500 babies in Greene County, Alabama throughout the early to mid-twentieth century. Margaret was part of a tradition of primarily black healers called “granny” or “grand” midwives who attended to pregnant people in the southeastern United States. As described in a recent article from Insight Magazine, “According to chattel records, the first African (Black) Midwives arrived in America in 1619, bringing with them centuries of healing wisdom from diverse African cultures and their rich traditions of pregnancy care for women. Their knowledge allowed them to continue to care for African and white women in this country and extend this care to include the entire family. African (Black) Midwives not only provided prenatal care and 'caught' babies, but provided primary care for women, pediatric care for newborn infants and children, and medical care for men when necessary.” Grand midwives worked for very little pay and sometimes accepted trades for their services. While maternal mortality rates were high in the early part of the 20th century, there is evidence to suggest that grand midwives had exceptional records. Margaret Charles Smith, for example, did not have anyone in her care die during all her years as a midwife. However, doctors were quick to demonize grand midwives due to their lack of formal education and status as lower class women of color.
While the American Medical Association (AMA) was founded in 1847, professionalization of medicine in the United States did not truly occur until the early 1900's, influenced by studies such as the Flexner Report (1910) which set standards for medical education. Prior to this time there were many quack doctors and snake oil salesmen, but there were just as many lay health practitioners who were knowledeable and competent such as grand midwives, herbalists, and homeopaths. Indeed the treatments preferred by these lay practitioners were often less invasive than those used by the “regular” doctors who were “taught to treat most ills by 'heroic' measures: massive bleeding, huge doses of laxatives, calomel (a laxative containing mercury) and, later, opium.” (Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers). A Popular Health Movement in favor of these alternative healing philosophies thrived during the 1830's and 1840's. However, the dominance of the medical model we have today was established by events such as the founding of the AMA, the passage of medical licensing laws favoring “professional” doctors, and the previously mentioned Flexner Report, which was funded by the wealthy Carnegie foundation.
Initially, grand midwives were not seen as a threat to the burgeoning medical profession as the communities they served were largely poor people of color. However, as maternity care moved into the hospital these same low-income people were needed as subjects upon which to train new doctors. Racist and sexist attitudes about the abilities of grand midwives supported the push to limit, and eventually outlaw, their practice. Over the first half of the twentieth century, grand midwives were increasingly required to undergo training and receive supervision from state health departments.
This fascinating movie called All My Babies...a Midwive's Own Story was a training film for grand midwives produced by the Georgia Department of Health in 1952. Through the thinly veiled emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene the movie tells the interesting story of “Miss Mary” Coley and the families she served. Unfortunately many of the older grand midwives were either unable or unwilling to go through the required training and licensing requirements of southern states and were forced to leave midwifery. Eventually many of these states outlawed non nurse-midwives or pushed them into a legal gray area that made it nearly impossible to practice. Margaret Charles Smith was prohibited from practice in Alabama in 1976, when her and “about 150 other black traditional midwives were told they would be jailed if they continued to work as midwives.” (Alabama Women's Hall of Fame)
Today, non-Hispanic black pregnant folks face a maternal mortality rate nearly four times higher than that of white pregnant people. In working to address these health disparities we should look to the model of care that was provided by grand midwives of the past and gain inspiration from amazing people such as Margaret Charles Smith who dedicated their lives to the healing and care of their communities.
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Posted on 8.28.2012 by Kelly
For those of you who are looking for a distraction from the neverending onslaught of patriarchal bullshit from politicians and pop culture alike, I have a recommendation: Push Girls. Push Girls is a reality show from the Sundance Channel which began airing earlier this summer and follows the lives of a group of friends in LA who all have spinal cord injuries: Angela, Mia, Auti, Tiphany, and Chelsie. I first heard about the show in May from the Bloody Show blog, but I wasn't able to check it out until I had access to cable while traveling this summer. As described in the blog, Push Girls “is neither focusing solely in on disability nor ignoring it but instead include it as one dynamic” of the women's lives.
The show focuses a lot on relationships: romantic, sexual, and friendly. The support and advice of the group of friends is a central pillar in the show as each woman deals with and discusses aspects of her life such as breakups, dating, sex, family strife, the pursuit of new careers, apartment searching, and athletic training. The group ranges in age from 20-42 and the women are ethnically diverse. They all appear to be fairly privileged economically, though the continuing financial troubles of Angela, who has recently separated from her husband, as well as the struggled past of Auti are threads throughout the season. While I enjoyed the more playful elements of the show, such as a ski trip the five women took, I was also impressed by the way the show has tackled reproductive health issues, such as in episode 4, “Hope It's Not Too Late.”
Episode 4 centers around Auti's attempts to get pregnant at age 42. Her anxieties are reflected in the title of the episode, as she is concerned that she may not be able to have a baby due to her age as well as her paralysis. She also reveals during conversations with Mia, Angela, and her fertility doctor that she has had two miscarriages and also had an abortion eighteen years ago. As she describes, “Just a year after my accident my mother passed away from cancer. I was an emotional wreck, I was in a bad relationship, and I got pregnant.” While she seems to understand that she was not in a good place to take care of a child at the time, Auti clearly needs to process her past decision. While she doesn't explicitly say she feels ashamed or regretful of her decision, at one point she says, “I just hope they didn't mess up anything down there,” seemingly blaming herself for her subsequent miscarriages. Mia, Angela, and the doctor do a great job of giving her affirmation and helping her to move past her guilt. Angela tells her that she is “very powerful” and that she “will support [Auti] any way that I possibly can.” When Auti tearfully divulges her miscarriages and abortion to the fertility specialist, expecting her to connect the two, the doctor barely blinks and says, “Obviously the accident didn't immediately change your fertility.” Auti is reassured that her age, not her previous abortion or her paralysis, is the largest influence on her fertility and it is discovered that she still has eggs.
Overall I felt that the episode dealt with many reproductive health issues such as infertility, disability and pregnancy, miscarriage, and abortion in a thoughtful and real way. While this episode ends after Auti's appointment, her attempts to get pregnant are mentioned throughout the rest of the season. I am interested to see the discussions to come whether Auti ends up getting pregnant or not. Push Girls is an entertaining and engaging show that goes beyond the usual reality show drama to bring us the real-life pleasures and problems of an interesting group of women, and I would definitely recommend checking it out.
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Posted on 8.15.2012 by Kelly
Inspired by a book I recently bought called Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils, I've decided to start a monthly feature profiling radical figures in health history. By examining the stories of radical healers, doctors, nurses, and activists for health justice I hope to develop an understanding of an alternative version of medical history.
This month I am profiling Emma Goldman, one of the most well-known anarchists who is often misquoted as having said some iteration of the phrase, “If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution.” Her actual quote, found in the autobiography Living My Life, Volume One, was of a similar sentiment but more verbose. In response to being told that as “an agitator” she should not dance, Emma responded, “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things.” Regardless of your political views I feel like this is something we can all agree on!
Emma was born in Russia in 1869 and had a childhood full of poverty and family strife. At age sixteen she left for America where she found work as a seamstress and factory worker. The event which raised her political consciousness and radicalized her was 1886's Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. A striking workers' protest for the eight-hour day was disrupted by a bomb thrown by an unknown person, and eight anarchists were scapegoated as the perpetrators with little supporting evidence. The subsequent execution of four of the men deeply disturbed Emma, and she soon decided to move to New York to join the anarchist movement. She became a renowned writer, touring lecturer, and co-conspirator in the assassination attempt of steel baron Henry Clay Frick. She was arrested multiple times and deported from the United States in 1919 though her career as an orator and activist continued across Europe and North America throughout the rest of her life.
Beyond being a strong and talented woman in the male-dominated radical activist world, Emma Goldman is notable to me for her work as a nurse and midwife. She first became trained as a nurse while incarcerated at Blackwell's Island Penitentiary. After a stay in the jail's hospital for her own illness, Emma was asked to help out in the hospital by the head doctor. As described in an article called, “'I Am a Trained Nurse': The Nursing Identity of Anarchist and Radical Emma Goldman,”
She...found that she loved nursing. Her experience among the other women prisoners—and as their nurse—provided an education in what she saw as a major injustice; women were jailed for having “ministered” to men’s sexual demands while the men themselves went free. Abused, often afflicted with venereal disease and other illnesses, “they were victims, links in an endless chain of injustice and inequality,” an experience to which Goldman could relate, having written about the violence that accompanied her own first sexual experience before leaving Russia.
After leaving Blackwell's Island, Emma took work as a personal nurse and loved that in having this profession she “no longer [had] to grind at the machine.” In 1895 she went to Europe to formally study nursing and midwifery and upon her return to America she worked in both capacities, nurse and midwife. Of her experience as a midwife she wrote in her autobiography, “My profession of midwife was not very lucrative, only the poorest of the foreign element resorting to such services...But while my work held out no hope of worldly riches, it furnished an excellent field for experience. It put me into intimate contact with the very people my ideal strove to help and emancipate. It brought me face to face with the living conditions of the workers, about which, until then, I had talked and written mostly from theory.” She goes on to describe her particular impression of the struggle of poor women in achieving reproductive autonomy at a time when access to abortion and contraception was extremely limited. While she eventually left nursing to focus on her other projects, her experience working with low-income women stuck with her. In later years she dedicated much writing and public speaking to the fight for access to birth control, something she was arrested for in 1916.
All in all, Emma Goldman is an inspiring figure in radical history. It is interesting to examine how her anarchist identity influenced her work as a nurse, and how her work as a nurse reinforced her philosophy and shaped her actions. I hope you enjoyed this first installment of “Radical Figures in Health History” and stay tuned for next month's profile!
Image By T. Kajiwara (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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Posted on 7.30.2012 by Kelly
Much to my excitement, it was recently announced that the BBC show Call the Midwife is coming to PBS this fall. I was able to get my hands on this show last winter and absolutely loved it. Apparently British viewers loved it too as it received higher ratings than Downtown Abbey did in its first season. Call the Midwife is based on the memoirs of nurse Jennifer Worth, and follows a group of young, bicycle-riding midwives who worked for England's National Health Service (NHS) in the East End of London in the 1950's. Beyond the personal dramas of the midwives and the nuns they live with, the show presents an intimate look at the struggles faced by the neighborhood's working class residents. Lack of knowledge and access to birth control, single parenthood, forced surrender of babies by young unwed mothers, postpartum depression, and preeclampsia are all issues encountered by the midwives and members of the community.
One thing I love about Call the Midwife is its illustration of a community-based midwifery model. In this model, nurses provide group care in prenatal clinics, one-on-one support during labor and birth in the birthing person's home, and postpartum house calls. Support for emergencies beyond the midwives' scope of practice is provided by a general practice doctor who has a collaborative rather than adversarial relationship with the midwives. Although the NHS has moved away from community-based midwifery in recent decades, there is a burgeoning movement to revive this model in England. Annie Francis, program director for one such community-minded London organization called Neighbourhood Midwives describes the model as follows: "We'll be an option for women who are low-risk and initially at least, our services are likely to only be available to those having second or third babies. Once they've booked with us, we'll guarantee that they'll be seen by a midwife they know, whether it's in their home or in a clinic, every single time they need to see a professional during their pregnancy, birth and afterwards. If their needs change and they need to see an obstetrician, we'll go with them. If they end up needing a caesarean section, we'll still be there by their side.”
As I previously wrote about, the state of care for childbearing people in the United States leaves much to be desired. Perhaps the one-on-one, community-based care depicted in Call the Midwife can help provide the template for a new reproductive health care system in this country. As this article from Think Progress states, “Call the Midwife is a reminder both that expanding access to care dramatically changes the lives of people who benefit from it, and requires both the medical professionals who treat them and the patients themselves to make cultural adjustments.” Here's hoping that Call the Midwife is just as popular in the United States as it has been in Britain and that it serves as an inspiration for drastically changing our model of reproductive health care.
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Posted on 7.04.2012 by Kelly
Although I am not really interested in patriotic celebrations of imperialist United States' “Independence Day,” I do love me some red, white, and blue desserts. Blueberries and strawberries feature prominently in said desserts, and to me berries and whipped cream are a sign of summer. You might be wondering how my love of berries is related to reproductive justice. The connection lies in the pesticides commonly used in the production of these fruits and the people who are exposed to these chemicals through their work or place of residence.
A couple years ago I lived in Maine, the largest producer of wild blueberries in the country, providing around 30% of the total United States supply. The state takes great pride in its blueberry harvest, with many festivals celebrating the tiny fruit occurring during the month of August. Recently I met a woman who formerly lived next to blueberry fields that were sprayed with a pesticide called azinphos-methyl (AZM). AZM is an insecticide which was developed from neurotoxins used during World War II. In humans it “binds up, blocks, or damages, the normal functioning of cholinesterase, an enzyme which is essential to the proper working of the nervous system.” In 2006, due to concern for worker health and ecological impacts of the pesticide, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to phase out AZM for agricultural use. However, it will not be prohibited for use on blueberry fields until September 30 of this year.
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Posted on 6.18.2012 by Kelly
On Friday the New York Times published an article in the Fashion & Style section entitled, "The Midwife as Status Symbol." The article discussed the growing trend of well-heeled pregnant people, including supermodels such as Gisele Bündchen and Christy Turlington, choosing the services of a midwife for their pregnancy care. As quoted in the article, "midwifery is no longer seen as a weird, fringe practice favored by crunchy types, but as an enlightened, more natural choice for the famous and fashionable." Indeed, the women, midwives, and doctors interviewed for the article celebrated the less medicalized midwifery model of care as "empowering" and "holistic," a consumer choice similar to buying organic produce or herbal beauty products. As a future midwife, I am certainly happy to hear that more people are discovering the midwifery model of care. However, access to safe, appropriate, empowering health care during pregnancy and childbirth is a fundamental human right, not simply a trendy choice for the wealthy and privileged few.
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Posted on 5.28.2012 by Kelly
As the government has increased restrictions on a variety of reproductive and sexual health care services, I have repeatedly heard an outcry over this “War on Women.” In this phrase, “women” are those who can become pregnant, and the “war” is the increase in government control over the bodies of these people and restrictions on their choices of whether to become pregnant, how to prevent pregnancy if so desired, whether to have an abortion, and how and where to give birth. However, this language erases the experiences of a whole range of other folks who don't fit into this narrow category of cis women, including people who can get pregnant who aren't women and women who don't have uteruses but are sure as hell also facing a war of misogyny, such as CeCe McDonald. To me, reproductive justice is about bodily autonomy, not just the rights of some folks to safe, affordable, and appropriate contraception and abortion. It only hurts the fight against patriarchy to ignore and exclude people whose experiences of fighting for bodily autonomy may be different from our own (and who in fact may experience misogyny not only from the government and society but also from those of us who claim to be feminists).
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Posted on 5.18.2012 by Kelly
As someone who identifies as an anarchist, direct action is central to my philosophy of social change. But what exactly is direct action? Mainstream media portrayal of radical action often paints a picture of black-clad protesters breaking windows of corporate targets or locking themselves together in front of a bank headquarters. Indeed, property destruction and blockades are forms of direct action often undertaken by people who identify as anarchists, but I am not going to discuss either their merits or disadvantages here. Expressing dissent towards an unjust system and disrupting business as usual is important, but there are other forms direct action can take. As Wikipedia defines it, “Direct action occurs when a group of people take an action which is intended to reveal an existing problem, highlight an alternative, or demonstrate a possible solution to a social issue.”
While I see validity in the point Amy recently made about electoral politics having a direct effect on people's lives through the seemingly small things that impact access to reproductive health care, I am sick of giving control of my body to the whims of a bunch of rich, white, heterosexual men. Even with Obama as president, our profit-driven and hierarchical political and economic system continues to wage a war on the bodies of women and other people with uteruses, and its effects are amplified by race, class, citizenship status, sexual orientation, gender, disability status and other forms of oppression. To me, direct action means finding ways to provide community access, control, and self-sufficiency over fundamental human rights such as accessible and appropriate health care, food, and shelter.
“But what exactly does this look like?” you ask.
Great question! Let's look at a few examples of communities who have taken direct action to provide necessary health care services.
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Posted on 4.24.2012 by Kelly
Last week I read an article on Jezebel (“Women Try to Rebrand the Catholic Church’s Position on Contraception”) about efforts by some women in the Catholic Church to revitalize Natural Family Planning (NFP). This method of family planning is generally sanctioned by the Church, though there are some who think that it should only be used to space out children and to aid conception. The article argues that it is hypocritical for one method of pregnancy avoidance to be allowed and promoted as natural, “unmedicated, God-given rhythms,” while other contraceptive choices are prohibited. While overall I agreed with the sentiments of the article, as a practitioner of the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM), a secular form of natural family planning, I took issue with the article's dismissive and uninformed attitude towards NFP and FAM. It's an attitude I have received repeatedly from other feminists, health care providers, and others who claim to support a spectrum of reproductive options.
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Posted on 4.22.2012 by Kelly
Happy Sunday and Earth Day! Here's a thought-provoking article by Matthew Harwood at Salon considering who sets the agenda for what is considered terrorism. Why are "instances of vandalism, such as activists breaking windows and spray-painting 'Animal Liberation Front' or 'Earth Liberation Front' on things" called "terrorist acts" while more violent acts carried out by right-wing extremists, such as arson of abortion clinics, are given lesser weight? Why do we accept that Muslim communities are subjected to constant surveillance and harassment by the government while anti-abortion Christian churches are left alone?
Check it out: "Is this man a terrorist?"
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Posted on 4.12.2012 by Kelly
“So, why are you here today, your foot?” asked the nurse, noting my cast from a recent injury. “No, I am here for a pap smear,” I replied. “Oh,” she frowned. “I wasn't aware of that. Let me go check to see if the doctor has time for a pap smear. You need to inform us in advance if that is the reason for your visit.” I had taken time out of work to be at this appointment, which I had made three months previously. Due to the doctor's busy schedule I was already months late for the test, the last in a series of follow ups after treatment for cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer. When the nurse returned to inform me that I had to reschedule the appointment and the earliest available time was in another two months, tears of frustration came to my eyes. Never was I asked whether I was feeling anxiety over the exam or whether it would be a financial difficulty to take more time out of work. Nor did anyone reassure me that I would not jeopardize my health by waiting another two months. Although I was able to schedule a much earlier appointment with another member of the practice, I left the doctor's office discouraged at what was the latest in a series of negative experiences relating to my reproductive health.
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