Pro-Choice Feminists and Pro-Life Feminists should march together

Here’s a cheering thought about 2017: It’s gonna be a banner year for comedians.

It’s also shaping up to be a surprisingly good year for pro-lifers. Not because Trump has done anything whatsoever to help save babies or protect women. Maybe he’ll take the trouble to reinstate the largely symbolic Mexico City policy, maybe he won’t; but so far, his pro-life credentials are exactly zero, if you’re generous. [ETA: Shortly after I wrote this, Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy. Credit where it’s due.]

But never mind him, because people who are actually pro-life aren’t waiting for him to remember there’s such a thing as us. Women in seven continents turned out for the Women’s March, to protest his election and to support causes dear to women — causes like education, healthcare, racial justice, protection and respect for the disabled, and, well, everything else. Women are interested in all kinds of things; and even progressive women have more on their mind than abortion abortion abortion. That’s the nice thing about a protest: You show up and say what you want to say (even if you can’t even talk yet).

Yeah, the protest was organized and funded by pro-choicers. Yeah, “abortion rights” became one of the planks of their platform, after a stink was raised in some quarters. But tons of pro-life women showed up anyway, because pro-life is a feminist cause ne plus ultra. As the giant banner said — the banner that led the march, because Students For Life decided to run right out in front — “ABORTION BETRAYS WOMEN.”

So there were pro-life feminists there. In some venues, they were attacked and screamed at; in some venues, they were greeted with respect and support, even from women who didn’t agree with them. These are the reports from the women I know who were actually there.

Even more heartening than this reception is what happened on Saturday Night Life. You can see the entire segment here, but here’s the money part:

Did you catch that?  The man just told his audience that pro-lifers are feminists, and that they absolutely belong in a pro-woman march, because a feminist is simply a reasonable person. He used the phrase “pro-life,” not “anti-choice” or “anti-abortion rights.”

Here’s the transcript of this segment:

It was an amazing show of support for feminism, but some feminist groups were asked not to march because of their pro-life views, which raises the question: “What makes a feminist a feminist?” It’s confusing. 

My mother raised seven kids by herself and she’s the strongest woman I know, so I asked her if she was a feminist, and she said, “Boy, God made Adam and EVE,” I was like, “That’s not what that means.”

A feminist is really just someone who believes in rights for women, and that’s easy to get behind. Until you get behind a feminist wearing a uterus hat and then you’re like, “There are levels to this.”

I just think it’s weird to have a special name for just being a reasonable person, because that’s all it is. Believing in equality just means you’re not a dick, and for me, that enough.

Folks, Donald Trump is a dick. Not because he claims to be anti-abortion, but because he treats women and children, and anyone else who seems vulnerable, like dirt to be trampled under his feet.

Shall I tell you what I want, as a feminist?

I want no girl, teenager, or woman to feel that she has to have a sexual relationship she doesn’t want.
I want no girl, teenager, or woman to feel pressured to act out the porn that’s shaped the desires of a generation.
I want no girl, teenager, or woman to be mocked, pressured, or chided by her friends, her boyfriend, her doctor, or the culture at large for deciding not to have sex with someone.

I want every woman to know that, if she gets pregnant unintentionally, the father of the child will behave like an adult — not just ponying up a few hundred dollars and a ride to the abortion clinic to erase his mistake, but taking on real, shared, self-giving responsibility. I want women to know that the pregnancy is not just her problem.

I want rape victims to be treated with dignity and respect, not suspicion and blame and aggression from schools, from the legal system, and from their neighbors.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning stigma, shame, and horror.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning that a woman’s education must end.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning that a woman is doomed to poverty.

I want unplanned pregnancies to stop meaning the end of a career.

I want women carrying a disabled unborn baby to know that her child has a shot at being treated with dignity by the world, if she’s allowed to be born.

I want women carrying a black unborn baby to know that her child has a shot at being treated with dignity by the world, if she’s allowed to be born.

I want women carrying an unborn girl to know that her child has a shot at being treated with dignity by the world, if she’s allowed to be born.

I want a world where it doesn’t even occur to people to consider abortion, because there are so many, many alternatives. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers can work together to provide these alternatives. And that’s what we have in common.

If pro-choice feminists agree with even part of this, then you’re damn right we are sisters. You’re damn right we belong marching together.

Don’t underestimate the power of popular culture to change hearts and minds. It’s already becoming more acceptable to be pro-life. It’s already becoming more evident that there is more to us than “no, no, no.”  Today’s young adults are looking around at the cultural wasteland left behind after the sexual revolution, and they’re thinking, “Well, that didn’t work. What else can we try?”

Some of them are trying on pro-life feminism. I think it looks pretty good on them — and apparently, so does Saturday Night Live.

So, you folks who are stamping your feet and huffing and puffing over the scandal of pro-lifers turning up at a pro-choice march? You Catholics who are up in arms over pro-life women inflating the numbers of the march, and giving aid and comfort to our ideological enemies? Check it out:

Pro-life feminists who marched got Saturday Night Live to utter the phrase “pro-life,” and to call them reasonable people, to admit that they are feminists, too. Tell me how you were planning to achieve that by sitting at home in your MAGA hat, annotating your list of Catholics We Find Upsetting.

While you were busy taking incriminating screenshots of your neighbor to send to your priest, pro-lifers feminists were bringing their message home. And they’re changing the culture.

Keep marching, sisters.


But what will poor people do if Planned Parenthood is defunded?


On Wednesday, NH voted to withdraw nearly $650,000 of state funding from Planned Parenthood. Even the pro-choice legislatures of our state have long chafed against funding the top-heavy, corrupt, inefficient monolith of Planned Parenthood — not because we love babies, but because we hate wasting money.

Naturally, people concerned about the poor are upset about the vote to defund, because Planned Parenthood is like the classic abusive boyfriend: They’ve got us convinced that we need them, we’re going to be lost without them, we’re no goodwithout them, we’ll never make it on our own.

Yes, well.

New Hampshire is actually a pretty good state to be a poor woman in (it’s rated 7th in the nation for the quality of its healthcare).

I should know, having been a poor woman in New Hampshire for the last forty years, give or take a few sojourns north and south.  I have always gotten free, excellent prenatal care and postpartum care, free pap smears, free breast exams, free STD testing, and — well, I’ve been offered free birth control, if by “offered” you mean bombarded with non-stop, wall-to-wall, relentless harangues about how important it is for me to get my free birth control now now now. Even when I told them I didn’t want it, they put a bag of condoms in my suitcase at the hospital anyway.

I have gotten all of these things for free. And I have never set foot in a Planned Parenthood.

But what would we do without Planned Parenthood?

NH has offered free medical care to children, pregnant women and the elderly and disabled for years, and it recently expanded Medicaid to cover all poor people. Here is a pdf of the handbook that lists (starting on page 15) all the services which are free to poor people. It includes preventative care, including regular wellness check-ups, and  all prenatal care, including nurse midwife services, pregnancy related services, services for conditions that might complicate pregnancy, lab work, birthing centers, family planning, medically necessary hysterectomy, prescription drugs, and a myriad of programs to help you have a healthy pregnancy. They literally pay you to take care of your baby, offering cash incentives for well-child check-ups.

But what would we do without Planned Parenthood?

New Hampshire will take the $600,000+ they were going to give to Planned Parenthood and instead will distribute it among the Concord Feminist Health Center, the Joan G. Lovering Health Center on the Seacoast and Weeks Medical Center in the North Country.

But what would we do without Planned Parenthood?

New Hampshire’s Let No Woman Be Overlooked Breast and Cervical Cancer Programoffers

women’s health exams, mammograms, pap test, and pelvic exams to women age 21-64 who have no health insurance or have insurance that does not pay for screening tests and with family incomes at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Here is the list of sites which offer free mammograms and pap smears:

Berlin Coos County Family Health Services – North 752-2900
Colebrook Indian Stream Community Health Center, Inc. 237-8336
Concord Concord Hospital Family Health Center, Concord 227-7000×2921
Conway White Mountain Community Health Center 447-8900 x305
Derry Women’s Health Associates 421-2526
Franconia Ammonoosuc Community Health Services 444-2464 x0
Franklin Health First Family Care Center 934-0177
Gorham Coos County Family Health Services – South 466-2741
Groveton Weeks Medical Center 788-2521
Hillsboro Concord Hospital Family Health Center, Hillsboro 464-3434
Keene Cheshire Medical Center 354-6679
Laconia LRG Healthcare 524-3211 x2940
Lebanon Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center 653-9321
Littleton Ammonoosuc Community Health Services 444-2464 x0
Manchester Catholic Medical Center 626-2626
Manchester Elliot Hospital 668-3067
Manchester Manchester Community Health Center 626-9500
Nashua Lamprey Health Care 883-1626
Nashua St. Joseph Hospital 882-3000 x67188
Newmarket Lamprey Health Care 659-3106 x7455
Newport Newport Health Center 863-4100
North Conway Memorial Hospital 356-5461 x2388
Peterborough Monadnock Community Hospital 924-1795
Plymouth Speare Memorial Hospital 536-1104
Portsmouth Families First of the Greater Seacoast 422-8208 x222
Raymond Lamprey Health Care 895-3351 x7390
Somersworth Goodwin Community Health Center 749-2346
Warren Ammonoosuc Community Health Services 444-2464 x 0
Whitefield Ammonoosuc Community Health Services 444-2464 x 0
Wolfeboro Huggins Hospital 569-7500
Woodsville Ammonoosuc Community Health Services 444-2464 x 0

But what would we do without Planned Parenthood?

Uninsured people can get STD testing, pregnancy tests, counselling, and ultrasounds at these clinics around the state.  My daughter volunteered at one of these clinics. It’s a few blocks away from Planned Parenthood, and unlike Planned Parenthood, but like many of the other clinics around the state, it also offers things like free diapers and baby clothes, car seats and strollers, parenting classes, and help navigating social services.

Without $650,000 from the state.

But what would we do without Planned Parenthood?

Here is a list of FDA certified mammography facilities. It includes nearly 9,000 places where women can get mammograms. Planned Parenthood is not one of them. Not one. Because they don’t offer mammograms, but only referrals (i.e. a piece of paper with an actual doctor’s address on it) for mammograms.

But what would we do without Planned Parenthood?

The truth is, most of what Planned Parenthood offers is abortion. That’s their cash cow. The reason they say it’s only 3% of their business is because they count everything that goes along with abortion as an individual service: you go in because you’re pregnant, and they give you a pregnancy test, and an STD test, and an abortion, maybe some antibiotics, and a box of birth control pills. Guess what? Planned Parenthood just provided five services — and abortion was a mere 20%. Now mix in a bunch of teenagers who stop by to get free condoms, and it’s pretty easy to get that number down to 3%.

It’s a stupid game, but it works. And it makes people think,

What would we do without Planned Parenthood?

We would do fine.

We would do fine.



Pro-Lifers Should Offer Help and Hope Along with Undercover Videos


Many Americans call themselves pro-choice, but are uncomfortable with unlimited abortion on demand, and these videos could help tip the balance in their hearts. But even as we hope and pray that the videos accomplish this conversion, let’s not forget another large population of Americans, whose hearts matter just as much: the population of women who have had abortions.


Read the rest at the Register.


10 Things I Had Mercifully Forgotten About the Third Trimester of Pregnancy



1. You may know where the baby is going to come out, but your joints aren’t sure. So they alllllll relax, all over your body, just in case you need to prepare for, for instance, a mandibular delivery. On the up side, the spectacle of you trying to get out of a car with your useless, floppy puppet legs is hilarious, and will win you many admirers. Among jerks.

2. Doesn’t matter if it’s a penny, a pork chop, or the last existing original copy of the Declaration of Independence wrapped around the Koh-i-Noor diamond: if you drop it on the floor, it’s dead to you.

3. People can chatter all they like about “miracle drugs” that “cure cancer” or “save lives” or other trivial nonsense like that. You know what’s a miracle drug? Zantac. One dose, and your pantry shelves are suddenly full of food again, rather than leering, taunting lava grenades waiting to detonate in your esophagus.

4. Drool. So. Much. Drool. Don’t wait for baby; break out those rubberized sheets now.

5. Your body gets so excited about growing a brand new baby that it gets really ambitious, and starts growing all kinds of other things, too: skin tags; thick, glossy sideburns; a glowering, boundless resentment toward humanity in general.

6. Right this second, check if you can reach your toenails without blacking out. If you can, then trust me on this: trim them now.

7. I’ve never read any non-fiction by Chesterton. There. Whew. That doesn’t belong in this list, but it’s been weighing on me, and what if I die in childbirth and I never get a chance to confess it?

8. Turning over in bed becomes a 46-step process. The only benefit to this is that it gives the drool puddle on your pillow sufficient time to dry before you lay your cheek in it again. Also, your husband will enjoy the soothing sensation of having the mattress tossed around like a liferaft trying to get some distance from the Titanic.


10. Of course it’s all worth it blah blah blah miracle of life and so on. Where the drugs at?




How to tell if you’re in the third trimester

If you’re new at being pregnant — if this, for instance, only your sixth or seventh child — you probably know how many weeks along you are.  You will be able to recite exactly which fetal neurodendons are likely being formed at this moment, and can calculate to the minute how far away your due date is.

If this is, however, your ninth pregnancy or beyond, you take the longer view:  all you can really be sure about is whether or not your water has broken yet.  Not  yet?  Okay, then you gotta make supper again, darn it.

For those of us who have long ago abandoned our manuals and our pregnancy journals, here are some helpful tips for identifying whether you are in the third trimester:

1.  Being pregnant is all you can think about.  Say, for instance, that you’ve agreed to write three posts a week about Catholic culture, politics, liturgy, spirituality, and other matters of general interest to Catholic readers.  The first topic that pops into your head is, “Have you seen my FEET?”  Then, rather than thinking, “Wait, that doesn’t really have anything to do with Catholicism,” you go ahead and write about it.

2.  You have totally relinquished anything like a sense of personal dignity.  In theory, you know that you are one of the grande dames of the domestic church, the very mirror of Our Lady, anchor of civilization and hope of the future.  But in practice, your one and only goal in life is finding the next bathroom as quickly as possible.  There are only so many times you can walk into an exam room, find out how many elephants you could displace in a pool of water, and then let someone – erm, “take a look” at you in an exceptionally personal way, before it starts to take its toll on your avidity for decorum.   “Hey,” you will find yourself barking at the guy in the toll booth, “Let’s speed this up!  My cervix isn’t getting any less effaced!”  He looks at you in a weird way, and you assume this is because HE has a problem.

3.  You do an excellent imitation of efficiency, but are about as effective as a blindfolded duck.  You make a doctor’s appointment, dream that you cancelled it, wake up and call a slightly baffled receptionist to reschedule, forget to write down the new date, notice the old date on the calendar at the “last minute,” show up ten minutes “late” in a frantic lather, and discover that you’re in the wrong building anyway.  And wonder why the sheaves of “You and Your Colostomy” pamphlets in the waiting room didn’t tip you off.  So as not to waste a trip, you stop at the supermarket at the way home, and then drop exhausted onto the couch, where you sleep through your real appointment, leaving four gallons of milk rotting in the sun the back of the car.

4.  By 4 p.m., your aphasia is almost complete.  You start out the day unable to remember nouns.  By noon, verb and adjectives are on their way out.  But by the time the kids come home from school, and you’re in charge of making sure they pack nutritious lunches, do their chores and homework, take showers, pick out clothes for tomorrow, and hand over all the important papers you’re responsible for as a caring parent, you’re reduced to standing in the middle of the kitchen pointing at their grinning faces and yelling, “You!  That!  Now, it!  Oh, why can’t you!”  Even God thinks this is funny.

5.  In the immortal words of Lili Von Shtupp :  Let’s face it, everything below the waist is kaput.



[This post originally ran in the National Catholic Register in 2011, which was the last time I was in the third trimester — during which, unlike this time, I could still come up with two words to rub together.]


Are WHO and UNICEF secretly sterilizing Kenyan women with a tetanus vaccine? Maybe, but probably not.

Last week, the bishops of Kenya accused the WHO and UNICEF of secretly lacing a tetanus vaccine with a hormone intended to induce miscarriage and sterility in Kenyan women of childbearing age, in an effort to reduce the population. The bishops issued a press release, saying:

[W]e shall not waver in calling upon all Kenyans to avoid the tetanus vaccination campaign laced with Beta-HCG, because we are convinced that  it is indeed a disguised population control programme.

We do know that the WHO and UNICEF do not take seriously the bodily integrity of poor families, especially women. The West has a shameful history of exploiting third world populations in the name of humanitarian efforts. So the bishops’ allegations are understandable, and if they are true, this is a dreadful crime against humanity. But if the allegations are false, then spreading the story could have disastrous results. Neonatal tetanus brings a prolonged and agonizing death to tens of thousands of children every year. If Kenyans are afraid to vaccinate against tetanus, people will die needlessly.  That’s why I didn’t write about this story, even as it cropped up everywhere. All I could find  was the same facts and sources in every story, no new information. Now we have some new information, and there is more on the horizon. The story is far from settled, but there are strong reasons to suspect that the bishops’ allegations arise from a misunderstanding and there has been no sterilization campaign.  Catholic News Agency did an excellent job of reporting the story in a balanced way:

“There are aspects of this that need to be raising red flags because of history and because of the way it was all being done. But raising red flags doesn’t mean that there’s something that actually has occurred,” said Dr. Kevin Donovan, director of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University.

The red flags are primarily: (a) that the vaccination campaign targeted women of childbearing age, raising suspicions that the effort was tied to population control, and (b) that, when the vaccine was tested at the request of the Kenyan bishops, hCG was found. HCG, in high enough quantities, can induce miscarriage and sterilization. But these red flags can both be explained.

The WHO said that they decided to focus the vaccination campaign on women of reproductive age “because of the focus on eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus.” They also said that the methods needed to provide adequate protection against tetanus for unborn and newborn children require a different testing schedule than the one usually used for other forms of tetanus.

But what about the hCG detected in the vaccine? Why would it be in a tetanus vaccine at all, even in low levels “millions of times less than the amount needed to trigger this contraceptive response“? The WHO and Donovan both noted that the techniques used by the labs who tested the vaccines, and the reports they produced, are irregular and problematic. One likely explanation for the small levels of hCG detected? A false positive. Donovan explains:

“If these were labs that were using tips to test for pregnancy and such, they may not be the appropriate measuring techniques for picking up small amounts of hCG, leading to false positives.”

“I suspect that the tests that the hospital labs tried to do for the Catholic bishops weren’t really designed to test the way that they did, maybe giving them erroneous results,” he added.

For a detailed and rigorous explanation of why it is by no means certain that the tetanus vaccine is anything but a tetanus vaccine, Rational Catholic has once again done the legwork , sifting carefully through the possibilities of what may or may not have happened here, and explaining in detail how a false positive could have been found. Rational Catholic also notes:

I have seen the lab results from the tests performed at the request of the bishops in Kenya, and my understanding is that they will be published shortly in an online news source.  I will update and link to them when that happens.

The main obstacle to finding the truth seems to be that the local government in Kenya did not initially take the bishops’ concerns seriously, but that may be changing.According to a Kenyan newspaper, (link courtesy of the Rational Catholic post)

[T]he Parliamentary Committee on Health ruled that a joint team of experts from the Ministry of Health, Catholic Church and other stakeholders would conduct a fresh round of independent medical tests to end the controversy on the safety of the vaccines.

There is mistrust and bad feeling on both sides, but it is clear that both the Kenyan bishops and the Kenyan government are eager to make sure that Kenyans are not dissuaded from protecting themselves from a vaccine that saves lives, so we can only pray that the new round of testing will be definitive and that the results will be shared in a clear and transparent way. In the mean time, I urge concerned readers with good intentions to stop spreading the story that the vaccine was deliberately and secretly contaminated. This has not been proven, and can only add to the general confusion about vaccine safety.


The Splat Life

PIC Wallace on train


The train is whizzing out of control, and he can’t get off, slow down, or change course. In desperation, Gromit snatches a box of spare tracks and frantically lays them on the floor ahead, just split seconds before the train he’s on thunders over them.

This is more or less what it’s like to raise a child. Yes, you have to work frantically to stay ahead of that train; but no, you’re not exactly in control.

Read the rest at the Register.