WTF is this SCOTUS Bullshittery?

I know it’s almost two months since Alito’s draft opinion was leaked and maybe it’s not a topical issue anymore. Also there are definitely other sources talking about the impending likelihood of Roe v Wade being overturned and I hope we are all taking the time and energy we can spare to fully understand this vital issue. But I wanted to create a source that talked specifically about abortion itself and where he is fundamentally wrong about it. I have also highlighted some other arguments that are dangerous at best, and I’m including here and there some information I have gleaned from other sources such as medieval historians (a moment of silence for the fact that we have to turn to medieval historians during this fight to protect abortion wtf). I am no lawyer myself and there is much that I cannot speak to. But I am a person living in this nation and I recognize that sometimes we must choose to drop archaic beliefs in the name of equity and freedom and so in that sense I maintain that I have the qualifications to question his logic, at times even when his opinion is backed up (supposedly) by legal precedent.


I know. Me neither.

Here goes!

(BTW, TW for gendered language. I am working hard to keep my own parts of this gender neutral because not all people who need abortions are women, but Alito is a little less, uh, woke in this area. And every other area. I’m keeping his comments as is for clarity.)

Alito wrote:
“The legislature then found that at five or six weeks’ gestational age an ‘unborn human being’s heart begins beating. . .’” (p6-7)

Completely ignoring the fact that for some reason we are letting legislatures do medical research and make medical pronouncements, this is factually misleading.

Y’all already know from my Abortion Facts infopost that the heartbeat detected at six weeks gestation is not a fully formed heart. It is a few heart cells and heart cells are known to beat even in a petri dish which is obviously not a viable human, nor will it ever become one. Recent research has shown that the heart may not be completely formed until around 20 weeks gestation (1).

Alito wrote:
“And at twelve weeks the ‘unborn human being’ has ‘taken on the human form at all relevant respects.’” (p7)

What? No really, what?

Who defines relevant? What is the definition of relevant? Because a fetus at 12 weks gestation cannot survive outside the uterus, which is a pretty relevant part of being a human, I think. This is an unscientific statement that holds no real meaning so I cannot debunk it with scientific facts, but I can discuss bodily autonomy here.

In no other situation is keeping another person alive forced upon a living or dead human. We cannot force someone to donate blood to save a human life. We cannot take someone’s organs to save a life without their consent – not even if the donor is deceased and will never need the organs again. Why do we force people to carry pregnancies to term, then?

It’s punishment. That’s what it is. Punishment for having sex.

Alito wrote:
“[The legislature] found that most abortions after fifteen weeks employ ‘dilation and evacuation procedures which involve the use of surgical instruments to crush and tear the unborn child,’ and it concluded that the ‘intentional commitment of such acts for nontherapeutic or elective reasons is a barbaric practice, dangerous for the maternal patient, and demeaning to the medical profession.’” (p 7)

That’s a lot. Let’s break it down.

First of all, a D&E is a procedure done for second trimester abortions.

The claim that the procedure will “crush and tear” a fetus is designed to elicit an emotional response based on the presumption that being crushed and torn is painful and frightening. And it absolutely would be for you or I. But nearly all abortions take place long before the fetus has any of the physical structures which transmit pain. Furthermore, the capacity to comprehend pain doesn’t exist within the brain until around 28 weeks gestation (2).

(And if you want to limit later abortions, the most complete way to do that is to make sure abortions are accessible for all geographical locations, all incomes, all genders, and all races because, aside from those tragedies where a wanted pregnancy must be terminated for health reasons, the vast majority of later abortions happen because people lack access and it takes time to gather resources.)

The claim that a D&E is dangerous for the gestating parent is patently false (3).

The claim that a D&E is demeaning to the medical profession is nothing but Alito’s opinion. Once we have debunked these other errors, we find that the procedure is not “barbaric” at all and that it is a simple, safe medical procedure. Mayyyyybe we let medical professionals decide what is or isn’t demeaning to their profession? Just an idea.

Alito wrote:
“Roe, however, was remarkably loose in its treatment of the constitutional text. It held that the abortion right, which is not mentioned in the Constitution, is a part of a right to privacy, which is also not mentioned.” (p9)


This is actually chilling.

He is literally saying the constitution does not protect our right to privacy. People have been saying since May 3 that losing Roe v Wade is the first, incredibly dangerous step to losing our rights to privacy. Well, here it is in Alito’s own words.

You cannot want to ban abortions and also have your right to privacy. They go together.

Alito wrote:
“The regulation of a medical procedure that only one sex can undergo does not trigger heightened constitutional scrutiny unless the regulation is a ‘mere pretext[] designed to effect an invidious discrimination against members of one sex or the other. . . .’ And as the Court has stated, the ‘goal of preventing abortion’ does not constitute ‘invidiously discriminatory animus against women.’ (p10)

I mean. Let me just….


lol hoookay there, upper class white cishet male.

Alito wrote:
“…Abortion has long been a crime in every single state. At common law, abortion was criminal in at least some stages of pregnancy and was regarded as unlawful and could have very serious consequences at all stages. American law followed the common law until a wave of statutory restrictions in the 1800s expanded criminal liability for abortions.” (p 15)

Here we begin with his series of historical arguments which date back to the 1200s and include some pretty blatant hypocrisy. There is much that I cannot say here because I have no training in law theory and no formal training as a historian. But I can say this: The world is not the same today as it was 200 years ago or even in the 1850s. We know more and we know better. When we know better, we must do better. Women/AFAB folx have always been oppressed in part by our ability to give birth. Lives were ruined and often ended by forced birthing. Why in the actual fuck would we think any of that was valid in our modern world of supposed equality? Especially not now that we understand more clearly the science behind fetal development? Just because someone held a value 200 years ago does not mean our society today holds that same value (I will be coming back to this idea at a later point in the post).

It is also vitally important to understand that abortion has always existed (and will always exist). People who did not want a pregnancy have always used various methods via various professionals to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

It is a modern Christian belief that life begins at conception. As Alito notes with regularity in his draft, historically it was only considered a crime after quickening (when the gestational parent can feel movement). And other cultures and religions hold different beliefs. In Judaism, for instance, life is considered to begin at first breath, not at conception (4). We cannot make secular laws based on one religion because, and you may want to sit down for this shocking information, but not all religions hold the same beliefs. If we want to guarantee our own religious freedom, we *must* work to guarantee religious freedom for all. Period. This is why we say “if you don’t believe abortions are ethical, don’t have one.”

All that prefaced, there is ample historical evidence that not only was abortion legal, but it was also common and accepted. Medical literature discussed abortion and newspapers advertised remedies (5). If and when abortion was prosecuted, it was not until after quickening, which happens around week 20 of gestation, well into the second trimester. Alito conveniently ignores this to redirect his reader to focus only on the legality of it, but if he were honestly citing this as relevance for the historical precedent of abortions in the US and other western cultures, he would clearly allow for early abortions. But that’s not what he’s trying to do at all, of course. Like most forced birthers, he isn’t at all interested in the lives he claims to be pro-life for.

Alito goes on to cite specific cases starting in the 13th century and then more in the 17th century. However, according to medieval law historian, Dr. MJ Pardon, there really aren’t cases in which a woman is tried for her own abortion, and many medieval cases that deal with abortion are canon law – in other words, law maintained by the church a person belongs to rather than the government where a person lives (6). None of this is relevant to Roe v Wade.

Alito wrote:
“The Court in Roe could have said of abortion exactly what Glucksberg said of assisted suicide: ‘Attitudes toward [abortion] have changed since [the 13th century], but our laws have consistently condemned, and continue to prohibit, [that practice] (p 25).’”

Okay well first of all, we’ve already proved that abortion has always been accepted so he’s flat out lying or wrong there, but more importantly I’d like to point out that laws should always reflect the society they aim to maintain. Why in the actual fuck would we make laws that aren’t relevant to our society? The *only* time such a thing happens is when the government is overextending its control. 64% of Americans do not want to see Roe v Wade overturned (7). That is nearly two-thirds of this country, a significant majority. When a government so blatantly works against the wishes of the majority of its people, I’d argue we really cannot call ourselves a republic anymore because we are clearly no longer being represented.

Alito wrote:
“While individuals are certainly free to think and to say what they wish about “existence,” “meaning,” the “universe,” and “the mystery of human life,” they are not always free to act in accordance with those thoughts (p 30).”

This is another subtle bit that’s actually chilling AF. Here is is acknowledging that there are many and varied belief systems and philosophies regarding when life “begins” and yet he specifically says that one is not “always” able to enact their own belief systems. Because he is approaching this from an inherently Christian point of view, these words are cementing US law to Christianity which is a direct infringement on the rights of many other belief systems. The implications for future laws being cemented to Christianity is terrifying.

(And here I do feel I need to clarify that I am not having any “Not All ______” arguments. It is reasonable to say that not all Christianity shares these dangerous conservative views on lawmaking, but those who are allies recognize their privilege and know that what is meant here is modern evangelical Christianity which is by far the most active in US lawmaking and thus they know not to start a “Not All Christians” discussion.)

Alito wrote:
“Americans who believe that abortion should be restricted press countervailing arguments about modern developments. They note that attitudes about the pregnancy of unmarried women have changed drastically; that federal and state laws ban discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, that leave for pregnancy and childbirth are now guaranteed by law in many cases, that the costs of medical care associated with pregnancy are covered by insurance or government assistance, that States have increasingly adopted “safe haven” laws, which generally allow women to drop off babies anonymously; and that a woman who puts her newborn up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home (p 33-34).”

Um. Wow. This dude is a leetle bit out of touch, huh? Okay let’s dig in.

1. Attitudes about unmarried women have changed in the past 50 years. That’s true. And that’s one of the big reasons that abortion and adoption rates have declined. Because people who give birth have more social freedom to keep their babies.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t still need abortion.

2. Laws prevent people from being discriminated against because of pregnancies. Um, yes, technically these laws do exist. But any lawyer (and *ahem* Supreme Court Justices are all lawyers) should also understand that it is notoriously difficult to prove intention in court. Companies can and often do lay off pregnant people or choose not to hire pregnant people and it’s very easy for them to claim it was for some other reason. If you cannot prosecute for breaking a law, you cannot enforce the law. Therefore, all the laws in the world cannot guarantee employment to pregnant people.

3. Leave for pregnancy and birth are guaranteed. Sure. Like, a little bit of leave is guaranteed but much of that goes unpaid, creating hardships. The United States is horrifyingly behind other countries in this area (8).

4. The costs of medical care for pregnancy and birth are covered by insurance or government assistance. Again, lol, not really. The US repeatedly refuses to create some sort of single-payer plan that would provide equitable and accessible medical care to all. Furthermore, there is minimal assistance for poor families once the forced birth produces a child. This may also be a good time to point out that we are also horrifyingly behind in gestational and birth mortality rates (9) and that rate rises for Black and Indigenous people of color.

5. People who put their children up for adoption can trust their infants will find a safe home. I could write a whole other paragraph in this increasingly long and verbose rebuttal but Vox already has a good article outlining all the reasons that adoption is not an answer to abortion so if you need to educate yourself on this (I did! No judgement!) click this link.

Also important to note at this point that the part of this draft that mentions the “domestic supply of infants” was not Alito’s own words, but appeared in the footnotes as a reference to a document he is using to support his claims. Of course it also doesn’t matter if he said it himself or not because he is clearly holding that opinion. So friendly reminder that children are humans, not products. Adoption exists as a means to solve a tragedy – when a child loses their parents. Adoption is not a means to provide a childless family with a human being of their own. That would be human trafficking. Kthxbye.

Moving on.

We’re almost done, I swear.

I hated reading the whole thing, I get it. But this *is* important and so I thank you for sticking with me.

Alito wrote:
“[with Roe], the Court usurped the power to address a question of profound moral and social importance that the Constitution unequivocally leaves for the people (p 40).”

If the Constitution “unequivocally” leaves this choice to the people – WHY, SIR, ARE YOU REMOVING THAT CHOICE FROM THE PEOPLE? He’d say “because states’ rights” but fuck that noise. The concept of “states’ rights” is only ever invoked to restrict human rights. States are not “the people.” The PEOPLE are the people. FFS. I am too old and tired for this nonsense.

Alito wrote:
“Also noted [in Roe] were a British Judicial decision handed down in 1939 and a new British abortion law enacted in 1967. The Court did not explain why these sources shed light on the meaning of the Constitution (p 44).”

Ok hang on. Maybe cover your ears.


Alito wrote:
“Viability also depends on the “quality of the available medical facilities.” Thus a 24 week old fetus may be viable if a woman gives birth in a city with hospitals that provide advanced care for very premature babies, but if the woman travels to a remote area far from any such hospital, the fetus may no longer be viable. On what ground could the constitutional status of a fetus depend on the pregnant woman’s location (p 48)?”

It’s like he technically *can* grasp the concept that access to medical care needs to be equitable, but instead of applying that to make sure all Americans have equal access to health care, he uses it against equal access to health care.


Alito wrote:
“Despite Roe’s weaknesses, its reach was steadily extended in the years that followed (p 50).”

Well, I mean first of all, read a bit about the Hyde Amendment which fundamentally limited Roe’s reach.

But also, here are the specific ways in which he claims Roe’s reach was extended. You may notice that, in actuality, these are all ways in which conservatives tried to *limit* Roe and the Court determined that Roe should not be limited. That is not quite the same as extending its reach.

The Court ruled that:
-Second trimester abortions did not have to be performed ONLY in hospitals (1983)
-minors do not need parental consent to obtain abortions (1976)
-women do NOT need to give written consent after being informed of the status of the developing prenatal life and the risks of abortion
-people do not need to wait 24 hours for an abortion
-physicians cannot determine viability “in a particular manner”
-that a physician performing a post-viability abortion need NOT use the technique most likely to preserve the life of the fetus
-fetal remains do NOT need to be treated in a humane manner

Alito wrote:
“. . . the preservation of public approval of [SCOTUS] weighs heavily in favor of retaining Roe (p 63).”

He knows the majority of people don’t want Roe overturned. He just feels powerful enough to not give a shit.

Alito wrote:
“As Chief Justice Rehnquist explained, ‘The Judicial branch derives its legitimacy, not from following public opinion, but from deciding by its best lights whether legislative enactments of the popular branches of Government comport with the Constitution (p 63).”

Completely ignoring the idea that perhaps a document written by slave owners who did not view women as people might not be the best document for governing a nation in the 21st century, I want to reiterate that public opinion is vitally important in deciding what laws to follow and what beliefs our nation should hold. If we are not governing according to public opinion, what the fuck are we doing? Why would a culture enact and enforce laws that the vast majority of its people do not believe in?

At the end of his arguments, he summarized all his points by claiming that these following points (p 66) are the reasons the state has “legitimate interests” in this. I shall rebut point by point. (heh. heh. “re butt” heh.) If you are SO DONE with this post, it’s okay to leave now. He’s just repeating the same ignorant shit here so I’m just repeating my same actual facts and logic. Nothing really new. You get a cookie for being here this long as it is.

-respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development

I have already discussed how the embryo/fetus is mere cells early in pregnancy (1), I have discussed how the embryo/fetus does not feel or have consciousness of pain early in pregnancy (2). The question of at what moment does a human soul become involved is not a scientific one, but a personal one that each person should be allowed to consider on their own. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. But where is the concern for the gestating person? I’ve also already discussed bodily autonomy: abortion is the singular instance in which one person is forced to use their body to keep someone else alive. This is discrimination. Period.

-protection of maternal health and safety

I’ve already debunked the idea that this is a dangerous procedure for gestating persons (3).

-elimination of particularly gruesome or barbaric medical procedures

The use of the word “barbaric” is intended to focus one’s emotions on the pain a fetus must feel during the procedure. We’ve already debunked that. Instead let’s talk about how cervical biopsies literally rip part of the cervix away with no anesthesia for the person undergoing the procedure. Perhaps we can make medical procedures for autonomous humans less barbaric before we start worrying about undeveloped cells?

-preservation of the integrity of the medical profession

I assume his concerned about the medical profession retaining its integrity is due to his belief that abortions are “barbaric” but 1) I’ve already – twice now in this section – debunked the idea that abortions are “barbaric” 2) pointed out that he is not in any way concerned for the barbaric procedures grown adult people have to go through and 3) once again, let’s let the medical profession itself decide if it’s being harmed mkay?

-the mitigation of fetal pain

Dear lordy how many times do I have to say this (2). It’s SO easy to look this shit up. He looks either entirely unprepared and unresearched or simply controlling.

-prevention of discrimination on the basis or race, sex, or disability

I honestly don’t know how he sees that overturning Roe v Wade will help end these things? Women are still oppressed, trans folx doubly so. People of color are still oppressed. Disabled folx are also still oppressed. Forcing births onto any person in an oppressed demographic, left alone a person who has many identities that are oppressed, will only strengthen the oppression. Until birth is safe in the US (9), until health care, child care, housing, education, parental leave, food, and everything else needed to raise a child, then forcing birth onto people who are not ready to be parents furthers their oppressions.

Remember that bodies change during pregnancy and birth. And I am not talking *just* about extra skin on a belly. Bodies can become permanently different, permanently disabled due to pregnancy and/or birth. It is not a risk-free action and, in fact, abortion is far safer than childbirth. A person should not be expected to risk their health, their body, unless they choose to. Period. We don’t ask it of any other demographic except pregnant people. Stop it.

Thank you for sticking here this long. Let me know in the comments what kind of cookie you want. I mean and also let me know if you have any questions or clarifications. Fuck the SCOTUS, they aren’t working for the people any more.


1. “Human heart development slower than other mammals.” University of Sheffield. 21 Feb 2013.

2. “Facts are Important: Gestational Development and Capacity for Pain.” American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

3. “D&E Abortion Bans: The Implications of Banning the Most Common Second-Trimester Procedure.” Guttmacher Institute. 21 Feb 2017.

4. “Judaism and Abortion.” National Council of Jewish Women.

5. “Abortion Is Central to the History of Reproductive Health Care in America.” Planned Parenthood.

6. “Medieval law in the supreme court decision.” Dr. MJ Pardon (on TikTok). 3 May 2022.

7. “Poll: Two-thirds say don’t overturn Roe; the court leak is firing up Democratic voters.” NPR. 19 May 2022.

8. “Among 41 countries, only U.S. lacks paid parental leave.” Pew Research Center. 16 Dec 2019.

9. “Maternal Mortality and Maternity Care in the United States Compared to 10 Other Developed Countries.” The Commonwealth Fund. 18 Nov 2020.

What is Intersectionality?

When I say that I practice intersectional feminism, I am specifically aiming to let people know that I eschew the erasure inherent in traditional “white feminism.” I am aiming to communicate that I recognize that Black women have different struggles than I ever could and that my goal is for my work to be inclusive of their needs and history as well. Because it’s not equity if it’s not for everyone.

However, I want to also recognize that I am willing to be corrected by Black women, or members of other marginalized groups I am not a part of, if ever I misstep. You cannot claim to practice intersectional feminism if you are not open to being corrected. We are all learning and unlearning, myself included. And when we know better, we must do better.

So what is intersectionality? Let’s get into it.

Kimberlé Crenshaw is a professor of law at Columbia University and UCLA. She coined the term to “describe the double bind of simultaneous racial and gender prejudice,” particularly in regards to law (1).

At the time courts recognized either sex or gender discrimination, but not both. Crenshaw cites three court cases that highlight how the *intersection* of race and gender compound to make Black women’s experiences more challenging than either Black men or white women.

Crenshaw cites the lawsuit DeGraffenreid v General Motors. GM did not hire any Black women before 1964 so when they had seniority-based layoffs in 1970, all Black female employees were fired (2).

The women tried to sue but because GM had hired white women and Black men previous to 1964, the courts refused to see the sexism or the racism, saying “[P]laintiffs have failed’ to cite any decisions which have stated that Black women are a special class to be protected from discrimination.” (qtd in 2)

So Crenshaw coined “intersectionality” to describe how multiple marginalized identities can erase a person’s struggles and keep them from accessing justice.

The more marginalized identities a person has, the more likely they are to face oppressions. It is important to disaggregate data: remember that when people say women are more likely to be victims of violence, that likelihood rises for women of color or trans women. Not all experiences of womanhood are equal.

While it is true that one does not have to be Black to have multiple oppressed identities, feminism in the US and other culturally-related places has a long history of excluding Black activists. Because of that, it is vitally important to remember that “For many, intersectionality has always been, and should continue to be, synonymous with US Black feminist theory (3).”

So what does this mean for feminists, especially for allies? First, remember that while we may hold multiple marginalized identities, we must still recognize those we do not hold and make space for them. For instance, I may be a disabled woman living under the poverty line (and that is significant!), but I am not a Black woman and I need to make sure I am making space for Black women and not talking over them or pushing them out of the proverbial tent. Need specifics? Keep these goals in mind and aim to make them a habit in your daily life:

  • Follow BIPOC content creators and activists.
  • Center voices from marginalized groups rather than speaking over them.
  • Call out/in the people in your own groups of privilege when necessary.
  • Be willing to be called out/in. Do self-reflection on a regular basis. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • Do not correct or tone police folx with marginalized identities as they speak or advocate for themselves and their community.

  • Feminism is in direct opposition to patriarchy. The patriarchy holds power with white supremacy and capitalism, therefore feminism must oppose those as well. Because for too long feminism has aligned itself with white supremacy and capitalism, we must actively and aggressively embrace intersectional feminism. Because we are not free until all of us are free. Patriarchy is bad for everyone, even the men who hold the power. The same is true for its bedfellows.

    Therefore, it’s not feminism unless it’s intersectional because we cannot truly and actually oppose the patriarchy while we are still aligned with it’s allies. Intersectional feminism because some women are Black, or indigenous, or trans, or disabled, or houseless, or incarcerated, or otherwise oppressed. Intersectional feminism because it’s the right thing to do.

    1. “Kimberlé W. Crenshaw.” Columbia Law School, 1 Feb. 2019,
    2. Crenshaw, Kimberlé. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 1989: Iss. 1, Article 8.
    3. Davis K. Who owns intersectionality? Some reflections on feminist debates on how theories travel. European Journal of Women’s Studies. 2020;27(2):113-127.

    Infopost: Reproductive Justice

    You are undoubtedly aware of the Reproductive Rights movement, which advocates for access to sex ed, birth control, abortions, and medical care during pregnancy and birth. And those things are absolutely very necessary for the health of individuals as well as for the society which those individuals live in. But those things are all rather limited in the grand scheme of things and as it turns out, we need to recognized the interconnectedness of all things not just through intersectional feminism, but through Reproductive Justice as well.

    According to Sister Song, a respected source in the RJ movement since 1997, the Reproductive Justice Movement was named in 1994.

    “Indigenous women, women of color, and trans* people have always fought for Reproductive Justice, but the term was invented in 1994. Right before attending the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, where the entire world agreed that the individual right to plan your own family must be central to global development, a group of black women gathered in Chicago in June of 1994. They recognized that the women’s rights movement, led by and representing middle class and wealthy white women, could not defend the needs of women of color and other marginalized women and trans* people. We needed to lead our own national movement to uplift the needs of the most marginalized women, families, and communities.” (1)

    Many RJ sources quote Audre Lorde when she said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

    So what is Reproductive Justice, then? Sister Song defines it as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities (1).”

    And what does Reproductive Justice look like? It includes awareness and advocacy not just for the same issues as the Reproductive Rights movement calls for, but also for environmental issues, prison reform, economic justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, and it also specifically advocates for the rights of people to have children if they choose – the US in particular has a long and dark history of forced or coerced sterilizations of people of color and disabled folx. So buckle up if you’ve got the spoons for this post, cause it’s gonna be a hard road to walk.

    (And please remember, white, cis, straight, abled folx, that when I talk about “spoons” that is not for you in this case. It is your responsibility to learn this history and to share this history among your peers. Marginalized folx already know this and do this.)

    Already we recognize that the classism and racism in our culture is toxic and must be eradicated. But it becomes a Reproductive Justice issue when you also acknowledge that without universal, equitable healthcare, many cannot afford it (2). And if one cannot access healthcare, it logically follows that one therefore cannot access birth control, gestational and birth care, cancer and heath screenings, or healthcare for any children one has. Ms. Magazine has a nice little article up that notes how various aspects of economic injustice contribute to a lack of access to healthcare:

  • “women of color are disproportionately segregated into work sectors that are least likely to have access to paid family leave, paid sick leave and protections for pregnant women (2).”
  • “70% of tipped workers are women and they are three times more likely to be in poverty and experience five times the rate of sexual harassment. When the minimum wage goes up to $15, tipped workers will still be left at $5 (2).”
  • “when we talk about domestic abuse, we have to consider the experiences of undocumented people who do not report out of fear of deportation (2).”
  • “At [Planned Parenthood New York City], we see over 64,000 patients every year, many of whom are women of color, low-income and poor, immigrant and undocumented, and young people. Last year, we gave financial assistance to 10,600 patients (2).”

  • We also need to talk about the Hyde Amendment. In 1977, just four years after Roe V Wade, the US backpedaled in the name of “compromise” and “appeasing the Right” and enacted the Hyde Amendment which bars the use of federal funding for most abortions.


    Anyway. Without federal funding, low income folx cannot access most abortions on their own. Which is why we have Planned Parenthood being known for abortions when their original goal was contraception, and the majority of their services are healthcare and cancer screenings.

    But, wait! There’s more!

    “The [Hyde] amendment hinders the ability of all low-income women to terminate a pregnancy and disproportionately affects women of color, but it discriminates against Native women specifically because they are entitled to receive health services from a federal agency (3).”

    I’ll do a post on what intersectionality is at another time, but this is a good example. Many Americans struggle to access healthcare. Women struggle more than men. Women of color more than white women. And, in this respect, at least, Native American women are impacted the most. Where their identities of woman and Indigenous intersect is where they are the most impacted.

    Environmental Justice becomes a Reproductive Justice issue when it interferes with a person’s rights or ability to have and raise (or to not have) a child. This is pretty obvious when you look at the communities struggling during and in the aftermath of major storms like Katrina or Harvey. As global warming continues and storms become more destructive (4) I don’t have to elaborate on how that will affect families, particularly poor families (of which BIPOC make up a disproportionate amount).

    But things like the Flint water crisis are also examples of how Environmental Justice is a fundamental part of Reproductive Justice. Michael Moore reminds us that “you cannot reverse the irreversible brain damage that has been inflicted upon every single child in Flint. The damage is permanent (5).” Furthermore, residents’ reproductive organs may be affected (5). The City of Flint’s website does not have any updates on the situation past last July and this article by a PBS affiliate dated October 2021 notes that “As of June, just over 10,000 pipes have been replaced in Flint and the city’s website says it is in the final stage of replacement, but even still residents struggle to trust that the water is safe to drink (6).”

    If people do not have access to a safe environment in which to raise any children they choose to have, they lack Reproductive Justice. Chernobyl, Fukushima, the BP oil spill in the gulf, the issues with the Cuyahoga River, current and future pipelines, etc…. It’s all included here.

    And a reminder that while these events are global and affect many, many people, it is still BIPOC folx who are affected disproportionately because they are more likely to be living near these places, more likely to live below the poverty line and therefore have fewer options with which to remove themselves. Wealthy white people do not choose to build toxic places near their homes. (Eat the rich, by the way.)

    “Over half (58%) of all women in U.S. prisons are mothers, as are 80% of women in jails, including many who are incarcerated awaiting trial simply because they can’t afford bail (7).”

    When pregnant people are incarcerated, it is still routine within the United States to shackle them during labor and birth despite no evidence that it is necessary. JAAPL notes that “Most incarcerated women are not violent offenders. . . and there are no known escape attempts among inmates who were not restrained during childbirth (8).”

    They also note that “Potential negative health effects of restraints include increased discomfort, limited mobility, increased fall risk, delays in medical assessments during obstetrical emergencies, increased risk of blood clots, interference with normal labor and delivery, and interference with mother–infant bonding (8).”

    And they say that “Currently, 22 states have some legislation restricting the use of shackles during pregnancy, with some of these banning shackling only during active labor and delivery (8).”

    Once the baby is born, they are nearly always separated from their birthing parent in the United States. This is not, it turns out, the global norm. There are only four nations that routinely separate infant and parent: The United States, The Bahamas, Liberia, and Surinam (8).

    The good news is that there are a few prisons in the US that are working to change this. NPR has a really lovely article about this, stating that “Washington Corrections Center for Women is one of at least eight prisons in the country that allows a small number of women who are pregnant and give birth while incarcerated to keep their newborns with them for a limited time (9).” These places aren’t like Orange is the New Black – they are safe and appropriate for babies and toddlers. They are built to be child- and family-oriented and studies have shown that they benefit for the baby and the parent (10).

    Another problem unique to parenting while incarcerated is presented by The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 which intends to get children out of the foster care system and into adoption as soon as possible. While perhaps a noble goal, for parents whose children are in foster care while they serve their time it becomes a risk of losing ones child altogether. If a child is in foster care for fifteen months of the previous two years, parental rights are terminated (8).

    And a quick reminder here that prisons are literally modern slavery, per the Thirteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. According to Wikipedia, “While the United States represents about 4.2 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 20 percent of the world’s prisoners.” Putting all of this information together together makes the whole situation look kinda sus tbh.

    BIG trigger warning for this whole section.

    Ah, joy of joys. I’ve saved the most fun subject for last. (That’s sarcasm, this is the least fun subject. Maybe. Maybe they’re all equally horrific. The United States is a flat-out dystopia.)

    Did you know that the Nazis quite literally modeled their eugenics program after the United States? After California, specifically, in fact (11). Yeah. Gross.

    “Beginning in 1909 and continuing for 70 years, California led the country in the number of sterilization procedures performed on men and women, often without their full knowledge and consent. Approximately 20,000 sterilizations took place in state institutions, comprising one-third of the total number performed in the 32 states where such action was legal (11).”

    This was a program that specifically focused on the Disabled community. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough” when a disabled woman whose mother was also disabled was sterilized after having a child (11).

    But they didn’t limit themselves to just Disabled folx, they also sterilized minorities. There are noted examples in Puerto Rico (11), and in Los Angeles among Latina women, many of whom were forced to sign papers in a language they did not speak or read while in active labor (watch the documentary No Más Bebés). Time Magazine notes that in the 1970s, at least 25% of Native American women were sterilized, but the numbers are actually likely higher (12).

    But the worst part is that none of this is ancient history (not that 1979 is ancient history…). A number of incarcerated women were sterilized without lawful consent in California in the first decade of this new millennium (13). And don’t forget that as recently as 2020 it came to light that ICE was sterilizing immigrant women without lawful consent (14).

    Access to good, complete sex ed, and to abortions and birth control, as well as to gestational and birth care are absolutely necessary. But, proportionally, white women deal with these other issues less often. And, historically, we tend to forget (or worse) about others when we are doing activism. Hence, Reproductive Justice was born. Just like how feminism isn’t truly feminism if it’s not intersectional, the fight for reproductive freedom means nothing if we don’t remember to include all of these other aspects of being a human.

    Additionally, we must also remember to include LGBTQIA+ issues in our work – but there has not been research done on, for example, trans fathers in prison (also we need to research that and other niche areas). Remember that queer folx need access to birth control and abortions, too. Remember that some men give birth.

    We must remember that the gestational and childbirth mortality rates in the United States are abysmal. We have twice the birth mortality rate compared to other high-income nations at 17.4 per 100,000 births (15). France is next highest with 8.7 deaths per 100,000 births. New Zealand, Norway, and the Netherlands have 3 or fewer deaths per 100,000 births. But wait, it gets worse! For birthing folx who are Black, the rate in the US is 37.1 deaths per 100,000 births. What, and I want to be very clear here, the FUCK? (15)

    None of us are free, while so many of us cannot access their basic human rights. Take this information and share it and together we can begin to fix this mess we call a society.

    Fellow white folx, please remember: While it is absolutely imperative that we make Reproductive Justice a priority, we must remember that it is not our movement. As allies, we should share information, but never speak over BIPOC or any other marginalized community, particularly in a movement they started.

    If you’ve read this far, you’ve earned a cookie.

    1. “Reproductive Justice.” Sister Song, Sister Song,

    2. Ko, Michele. “Economic Justice Issues Are Reproductive Justice Issues.” Ms. Magazine, Ms. Magazine, 8 Feb. 2019,

    3. Theobald, Brianna. “The Native American Women Who Fought Mass Sterilization.” Time, Time, 5 Dec. 2019,

    4. “Environmental Justice Is Reproductive Justice and Reproductive Justice Is Environmental Justice.” Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood, 1 July 2020,

    5. Pickens, Josie. “#FlintWaterCrisis Is a Reproductive Justice Issue.” Ebony, Ebony, 2 Feb. 2016,

    6. Blakely, Natasha. “Seven Years on: The Flint Water Crisis Has Yet to Conclude.” Great Lakes Now, PBS, 27 Oct. 2021,

    7. Bertram, Wanda, and Wendy Sawyer. “Prisons and Jails Will Separate Millions of Mothers from Their Children in 2021.” Prison Policy Initiative,

    8. Friedman, Susan Hatters, et al. “The Realities of Pregnancy and Mothering While Incarcerated.” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 13 May 2020,

    9. Corley, Cheryl. “Programs Help Incarcerated Moms Bond with Their Babies in Prison.” NPR, NPR, 7 Dec. 2018,

    10. Clarke, Matthew. “Benefits of Allowing Prisoners to Raise Babies Born in Prison.” Prison Legal News, Human Rights Defense Center, 3 June 2016,

    11. Ko, Lisa. “Unwanted Sterilization and Eugenics Programs in the United States.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 19 Nov. 2020,

    12. Theobald, Brianna. “The Native American Women Who Fought Mass Sterilization.” Time, Time, 5 Dec. 2019,

    13. Johnson, Corey G. “Female Prison Inmates Sterilized Illegally, California Audit Confirms.” Reveal, 2 July 2015,

    14. Narea, Nicole. “The Outcry over Ice and Hysterectomies, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 15 Sept. 2020,

    15. “Maternal Mortality and Maternity Care in the United States Compared to 10 Other Developed Countries.” Commonwealth Fund, 18 Nov. 2020,

    Hymen Facts – Is Virginity Even REAL?

    Image text: Hymen Facts Image shows six sketches of hymens. First, a ring of tissue around the vaginal opening. Second a very thin ring of tissue. Third shows a vaginal opening nearly covered except for a sort of slit in the middle. Fourth shows two openings in the tissue. Fifth shows a medium-sized ring of tissue around the vaginal opening. Last shows a hymen with several small holes in it.

    Spoiler alert: nope! It’s a construct we made up! Read on for more info on hymens.

    Image shows a sketch of a vulva with text labeling the anatomy: clitoris, urethra, vaginal opening, and hymen, also called vaginal corona.

    Hymens don’t necessarily break when something is inserted into the vagina (1).
    And they can break without any vaginal insertion: through injury, or masturbation, etc (1).
    Hymens change in size, shape, and flexibility across a person’s lifespan (1).
    The hymen will often tear during the first vaginal birth (2).
    Hymens have very few blood vessels and may not even bleed when torn (1).
    There is no universal definition of the term “virginity” – its meaning varies by era, culture, and religion (3).
    Clinicians are not trained or educated on the complexities of the hymen (1).
    The term “intact hymen” has no anatomical correlate and should not be used (3).

    If you want this information in the social media formats or in a printable flyer you can use for your clients or students click here.


    1) Mishori, R. “The Little Tissue That Couldn’t
    2) Frye, Anne “Healing Passage
    3) WHO “Eliminating Virginity Testing
    4) drawings by Nina Reimer

    Let’s not “Just Be Friends”

    A quick hello to my readers, and a thank you for being so patient with me as my family struggles through the worst year of our lives. I am working on slowly getting back to work here at SOAM.

    Joe Biden has been elected the new president of the United States!

    I hadn’t realized exactly how much the election (and the Trump presidency) had been affecting me until Saturday, which I spent crying with relief. Since then, each day has felt like I am floating. My god, it’s like the weight has been lifted (that’s a Killers lyric and I am absolutely making a Killers reference, you’re welcome).

    But it’s vitally important that we not become complacent in our relief because there is much work to be done. This pandemic has shown us the weaknesses in our society that existed even before Trump – lack of access to medical care, predatory landlords, the fact that the 1% really does not give a shit about their workers, only their capital gains. We’ve also seen how deeply racism runs in this nation – this isn’t new, it’s merely awoken. We were broken before Trump and now we have a chance to fix things for now and the future and we cannot fuck this up. Or we will be back here in four more years.

    It will be a lot of work.

    And that work may feel uncomfortable to some of you at first because we are taught from an early age that we should work to create peace with our enemies. And that isn’t untrue; it is a noble ideal. And it works if both parties are willing to examine themselves and move forward. But that is not the reality most of the time.

    It’s hard to examine ourselves. BTDT.

    I’ve seen a lot of liberal folx calling for peace and love right now. I’m fully down with that!

    But I want to be very clear that peace and love are not merely passive things. Peace and love don’t mean just sitting back and smiling because everything is okay. Peace and love are void if there isn’t a basis for peace and love holding them up.

    Peace and love are fierce. Peace and love are the mama bear of the social justice movements. Peace and love are out there fighting for the peace and for the love of marginalized folx. I’m not Christian but I know that Jesus wasn’t out there just sitting around saying “love each other” – he was also flipping tables and hanging out with prostitutes. Love is for the ones who need it. Love fights for their peace. Love prioritizes those who are marginalized and protects them.

    Love is here to comfort the afflicted. Love is here to afflict the comfortable, to help them grow and change. If they aren’t willing to do that work, they aren’t a part of the game. If they are unwilling to stop abusing, they don’t get protected. I’m here to include everyone except the excluders.

    Or, in not so many words:

    Now it’s time to do the dirty work. It’s time for education on racial, gender, sexuality, class, and other social issues. It’s time to shame those who refuse to move past our dark history and leave them behind in their hatred. They are always more than welcome to rejoin us when they are ready.

    But here’s the thing that your family and friends who are queer, BIPOC, Disabled, and/or experiencing poverty want you to know:

    as long as you are trying to “make the peace” without doing any of the work below the surface, you are not only not making peace, but you are actively upholding all these oppressive systems

    demanding that marginalized folx “just be friends” is silencing

    silence in the face of oppression is the side of the oppressor

    if nobody calls out the racism (homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, misogyny, etc) the racism thinks it gets to say and we get another Trump in four years

    allies call out racism even if it’s “ugly” or “uncomfortable”

    Don’t silence marginalized communities. Just. Don’t.

    Here are some resources you can donate to if you are looking for ways to help keep the momentum from the election and turn it into real social justice activism to create a better world now. (Many of these are local to San Diego, but some have national affiliates.)

    San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium
    San Diego Food Bank
    National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
    San Diego LGBT Community Center
    Border Angels
    Planned Parenthood
    Indigenous New Hampshire -thanks to reader Rikki who wanted to add that BIPOC are the folx who made this election happen and the indigenous of Arizona are credited with flipping their state. If you’d like to learn more or donate to the people whose land you are living on, you can find which nations once flourished where you live here.

    Just a quick note before I close here because I know there are some of you readers out there saying “I’m not here for politics! Get back to talking about body image!”

    Body image is inherently a feminist issue.

    Feminist issues are inherently political.

    Every single aspect of your life, from the roads you drive on, to the access to medical care you may or may not have are decided by politics.

    Identities cannot be separated from each other: because some women are Black, or disabled, or queer – feminism must also stand for those movements or else it is only for white women (and I am not here for that).

    Finally, the world has become so unstable and frankly outright dangerous, that body image may need to be set aside a little bit while we focus on, say, eliminating fascism from US government. I’ll never stop talking about body image and how important it is, or all the issues associated with it, but if people are dying body image doesn’t mean much, so let’s triage the issues and get folx safe before we drop these other pressing issues.

    Black Lives Matter (Anti-Racism Resources)

    I’m officially back, Readers!

    I apologize for not having a whole beautifully written statement on the events that have transpired here in the US and across the globe this week. I have long stood with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and I have been sharing everything I can on SOAM’s space on Facebook, so check that out for more resources including an album I am creating with various thoughts and perspectives on racism in the US.

    For understanding racism more fully, including historical context:
    A Timeline of Events that Led to the 2020 “Fed-Uprising” (Hint: it starts in 1619)

    Ben & Jerry are not fucking around.

    John Oliver killed it last night with his post on the events in the US this past week. Other timely John Oliver recommendations:
    Ferguson, MO and Police Militarization
    Police Accountability

    Here is a list of Ted Talks to help you understand racism in America

    A list of Facebook pages to help parents discuss racism and decolonization.

    Resources for protestors:
    Teen Vogue killing it again: How to Safely and Ethically Film Police Violence

    Broadcastify is a website that allows you to access thousands of local police scanners. I often listen to my local police when I hear a lot of sirens, but during the riot in La Mesa, CA the other night, it was especially helpful.

    How to talk about racism, riots and looting, and other related topics:
    Why you should stop saying “All Lives Matter” explained 9 ways.

    How to respond to “Riots never solve anything!”

    Affirming Black Lives Without Inducing Trauma

    Tone Policing Is Just Another Way To Protect Privilege

    Let me know if there is anything else I should include here. There is a lot to take in here, but I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Keep doing the good work, readers!

    A primer on Fat Phobia

    A few years ago when I was enrolling my oldest child in middle school, I had to drop off some forms at the school nurse and I saw this poster. It made my blood boil because the very first thing listed for harmful effects due to overeating and overweight was “Psychological problems.”

    I want to be very clear here: Being fat does not cause psychological problems. Being fat does not cause blame, guilt, shame, disgust, or depression. Those things are all caused by fat phobia.

    One more time: Being fat does not cause psychological problems.

    But this is the message we are sending kids who are struggling at the most physically sensitive time in their lives. Puberty and brain development are on overdrive at this age as kids become aware of their bodies on a whole new level (and I don’t mean simply in a sexual way, but there is a deeper cognitive understanding of their physical shape and size and how it relates to the world going on at this age as well). Weight is already driven home in every aspect of our daily lives and as we bring media deeper into our consciousness through our devices and new, more insidious forms of advertising, these messages get harder and harder to notice and to critique. So these kids head into their new school which will be the driving force of their entire lives for the next two years and they see this sign and it says two things. To fat kids (or kids who believe they are fat) it says they are at fault for their size. To everyone else it says that bullying is okay – of course it doesn’t say that in so many words, but that is the message that inevitably ultimately settles into social habits in the brain.

    So here’s the question: Are fat people to blame for their size? Sometimes, sure. Other times, they aren’t. For one thing, there are many physical conditions such as hypothyroid that cause weight gain and equally make it difficult to lose weight. And, of course, there are also life-saving medications that cause weight gain. Antidepressants or steroids can do this. And it’s a side effect to keeping a person alive and functioning, in which case Medicine has decided that weight gain is a better choice than not functioning or not surviving. Overweight is also a class issue and a disability issue where poverty or disabilities can lead to weight gain through lack of accessibility. But there’s yet another form of overweight caused by dieting. We have known for years that diets don’t work. They can sometimes shock your body into weight loss, but in doing so, the body reads its recent starvation as a time of famine and it slows the metabolism. Permanently. In this case, people have been trying to follow the good advice, often given to them by a doctor, but it is not sound science and it ultimately fails the person who is trying so hard to “be good.”

    The bottom line is that overweight is a wildly complex issue and simply cannot be reduced to just one facet.

    Quite literally the only thing you can determine from looking at someone’s size is your own personal bias against fatness.

    (Someone awesome said that and I can’t find the actual quote to give credit right now. If you know who said it, leave me a comment and I’ll edit.)

    Okay, you’re thinking, but if I KNOW someone eats unhealthy and doesn’t do anything to lose weight, surely I can judge them then, right?


    But, you say, I’m doing it for their heath. I care about their health!

    This is a noble intention, yes, but just stop and listen for a minute.

    Because here’s the thing: people who live in fat bodies are humans. You don’t have to be a Christian to recognize that Jesus was a pretty wise dude and when he said “Do not judge,” it’s good advice. Judging places us in opposite corners, it creates a false sense of separateness. It isolates the person you are wanting to care for and reinforces the lies society tells us, as illustrated by the poster in my kid’s middle school. Depression lies in and of itself, and it’s hard enough to learn to determine the difference between what are and are not lies, but when you also hear these same lies in every corner of your life, it will, in fact, beat you down until you simply cannot function anymore. And to reiterate, the lies I’m speaking of aren’t about whether or not weight gain causes other physical ailments, but whether or not weight gain causes guilt or shame. It does not. Ever.

    The fact is that people do unhealthy shit all the time. We drink too much or we don’t exercise, we don’t always wear seat belts or we smoke cigarettes. We go to tanning salons despite knowing the risks. We fuck up all the time. But no one is judged quite like fat people. And it always assumed their weight is their fault. Why? Why do we pick one sin and make that the one we are so cruelly vocal about?

    Because you know what? A ton of thin people eat like crap and never exercise, but because their genes aren’t expressed in a proclivity to gain weight, we look at them and assume they must be healthy.

    That right there? Is the ultimate proof that fat phobia isn’t about health at all; it is about size and it is only about size.

    Last Friday night I shared a progressive ad from plus size store Torrid which featured an overweight woman rocking a bikini. I especially liked this ad because, unlike so many attempts at size diversity, this woman wasn’t too smooth, and she wasn’t just a little chubby. She looked more like me with my weird lumps and cellulite. I liked seeing someone like that feeling confident in a bikini because it inspired me to remember that my body is just a body and I deserve not only to feel confident, but also to feel the splash of the ocean and the warmth of the sun. Fat people deserve joy just as much as thin people. Why? Because we are people. Period.

    But the post blew up and we spent the next couple of days arguing over whether or not this ad should even exist. The excuses thrown into the mix included everything from “This is simply bad marketing because the people who would want to look like this model are too few and far between” (I mean, I think Torrid is kind of doing okay right now) to “I’m not fat phobic because I do not literally have a phobia about fat” (which is not even the way the word is used here, it’s arguing false semantics). Ultimately it boiled down to not wanting to normalize fatness. But fatness is already normal. People are fat. People need clothes. Fat people need clothes that fit them. Companies make those clothes. Companies want people to know they exist so they must advertise. By banning such ads, not only are you erasing an entire population of people from media exposure (the absolute antithesis of SOAM’s founding principles, might I add?), but you are also insinuating that you don’t want fat people clothed, or at least not in anything cute that might accidentally make them feel good about themselves.

    There is a lot of information out there suggesting that fat may not be as dangerous as we have believed for so long, but this post isn’t even about that. Because that’s irrelevant. The point of this post is that fat people are PEOPLE. And people deserve equity. People deserve to feel cute. People deserve to feel joy. End of story. Period. It is nearly impossible to have a conversation about this with people who are not yet acquainted with these principles – and I get that, I really do! Ideal body size is a construct and constructs are nearly impossible to see and even harder to entirely demolish. I’ve been working with SOAM for 13 years and with body image for most of my life and I still struggle with it. I promise you, it’s okay to have a hard time grasping this shit if it’s new for you. But the reason it’s so hard to discuss is because every argument will inevitably go back to “but health…?” It’s time to fully separate health from fatness, and it’s the only way to move forward. Health IS important, yes, but not only is size a poor indicator of health (cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. are much better indicators), but another person’s health is not your business. Even if you love them. I promise. Shame never healed anyone.

    Because I know people will be asking, I’ll make a simple acknowledgement that offering support is always loving and wonderful, but it absolutely must be with consent and on the person’s own terms because they are the only person on this planet who is an expert in themselves, and only they know which steps they need to take in their life at this moment.

    So please, think about the people living inside the bodies, rather than the bodies themselves. End fat shaming. Now.

    Mothers/Parents and Mental Health

    This is a really important article from NPR that I shared on our Facebook page a few days ago. It talks about postpartum psychosis, which is when a new mother has a break from reality. This illness is rare, but not as uncommon as you would think, because most women are too afraid to talk about it. According to the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Women’s Mental Health, only 1 to 20 women per 1,000 will have this disorder. But here’s the thing: women are, consciously or subconsciously, held by society to be mothers. Women who fail at this in one way or another are judged harshly. Women whose mental health suffers and affects their children are dealing not only with the stigma of “bad mothering” but also with that of mental illness.

    I am going to say this one time only: mental illness is just another kind of regular illness. The brain is just as much a body part as the pancreas, but one would never judge a mother with diabetes for needing to stop to adjust her insulin, or for needing insulin in the first place (well, at least we tend not to judge those with Type I diabetes – the stigma against fatness is a whole other blog post).

    Sometimes our bodies fail us. It is simply a part of being a living creature; we are imperfect.

    And I do not deny that mental illness is a challenging thing to deal with. Unlike many other physical ailments, it can affect personality and that is truly a hard thing for those who suffer with it as well as those around them.

    But it doesn’t make the stigma any more valid.

    Here is a fact for you: Most medications are tested on men. Women have very different bodies and very different neurology, particularly in regards to hormones. Thus, being a woman and needing medication of any kind, you are already at a disadvantage. To add in something as complex as postpartum psychosis which, as we already noted, is dealing with two stigmas, and to try to balance the body and mind with a medication that hasn’t been tested on women, especially postpartum women, is a problem. (Here is a video that talks a little bit about the gender gap in medication testing. The video itself is about pain, but it’s not irrelevant because we do know that the gut and the brain, as well as the immune system and the gut, are connected in ways we do not fully understand.)

    And the stigma is built into the mental health system, too. For instance, in trying to find care for my daughter (it is okay with her for me to discuss this publicly), we were met again and again with limited care for mental health. There are clinics here who will only see a patient for 13 visits, with a second set of 13 visits possible if still necessary, but no more. This may be logical for a kid who is simply needing to learn some coping skills or needs help navigating difficult interpersonal connections. But for a kid with a true mental illness, it is simply not enough in any way, shape, or form. You’d never find a medical hospital with a 13-visit limit on any other kind of care. If a child goes through the expected number of chemo sessions and still needs medical help, they will get appropriate medical care. But this isn’t true of mental health care. The stigma is built into the system itself.

    If you read that NPR article, you will see the difference between care models here in the US and those in the UK where babies are sometimes allowed to stay with mom. Here in the US, however, infants are not even allowed to visit and breast pumps are not readily available. This is a woman’s problem in that it affects women directly, but it is a social problem when we consider the time off work the woman’s partner will need to take, the childcare involved of the infant and/or older children. Something like this could make or break a family’s survival and here in the US where we don’t offer healthcare to everyone, health problems often do break families, forcing them into poverty and potential homelessness.

    I am not over-exaggerating.

    I’d also like to quickly note that, yes, police can be involved in mental health cases where it is not safe to transport a person yourself. If you need to call for care (at least here in San Diego – you will want to look up your own local information) you should ask for the PERT team (psychiatric emergency response team). They will handcuff the person while transporting them and, while this is often perceived as treating them like criminals, it is not the intention to do so. It is done for safety and probably policy reasons. Perhaps this is something we need to work towards changing – I’m down with that. But I’m sharing this right now primarily because I think this is important information for the general public to know – it’s certainly not something you want to be surprised by at your lowest moment, and it’s something that can be so easily misunderstood.

    So, what do we do about this problem of mental health care, in particular as it pertains to women?

    Well, first of all, we share the facts. Women are at a disadvantage when it comes to appropriate medical care. People struggling with mental health issues are at a disadvantage when it comes to appropriate access to services and care. Women struggling with mental health issues are dealing with this from every angle, and women of color or other oppressed groups are oppressed even more. So talk about this. Share the facts with your friends and family even if – especially if – they do not pertain directly to you. A voice outside the community can be a powerful ally.

    Second, listen to your friends and family when they speak of their mental health issues. Do not tell them how to fix it, do not offer suggestions. Instead just tell them that you hear them. Offer to help them find services (here in San Diego the Access and Crisis Line is your first stop). Promise that you don’t judge them and that you love them. Remind them that this is just another illness like any other illness and the fact that it is happening in their head doesn’t make them any less worthy of help or love.

    If – and only if – you are ready to share your own story of struggling with mental health, share it. The more people admit secrets, the more we find we are not alone – just like with our pictures of our bodies here, we can stand together and be stronger than we are alone. If you want to share your story here, you can do that here.

    And if you are a mama or a parent who has struggled with mental health issues of any severity, I am here to tell you that you are not alone and that it does not make you a bad parent. You are worthy of love and life. It is scary sometimes to seek help, and I will admit that sometimes even mental health practitioners are terrible at understanding mental illness, but keep moving forward. Don’t allow yourself to believe anyone – professional or not – that mental health problems are something you should be ashamed of. It’s simply a thing that happened, just like any other challenge people face, no stigma necessary, no judgement at all. You are strong and worthy and beautiful just as you are. I see you and I hear you.

    We Believe Survivors


    TW: Sexual Violence

    These past two weeks have been awful for so many survivors of sexual violence. To not only hear these triggering things being spoken of so often in the media, but to hear them being denied and erased, and to hear these survivors, particularly Dr. Ford, absolutely torn apart both in the media and in congress.

    To have an abuser refuse to acknowledge an abuse (which is, of course, the most common patten) is deeply damaging. To have an entire nation refuse to acknowledge a specific instance as well as an entire culture of abuses can be traumatizing – and I am not using hyperbole when I say that.

    I listened to as much as I could of the hearing in DC today and, even though I am not personally triggered by this subject, I could only handle so much. I have so much respect for Dr. Ford for sitting through that as bravely as she did. She is truly a beacon of strength. She is a American hero. I believe her.

    And I want you, my readers, to know that I also believe you. No questions asked. I believe you. I know that the statistics of false rape reports are fewer than 2%. I know that it is hard to come forward because of fears of not being believed, or because of fears of retaliation from your abuser and/or their community. I know that most rapes are never reported and I know that 36 years makes no difference whatsoever in terms of legitimacy of your claim, or in terms of your trauma and healing. I don’t need explanations. I believe you.

    Friends, please make sure you are registered to vote and get out there come November and help take this country back from those who would harm us. Women’s health is very much on the line right now and we must take that more seriously than ever. Every vote counts, but we need to get out there and make our voices heard. We’ve seen the direction this country is headed in – let’s take it back!

    So much love to you all.