It’s time to begin the shift from SOAM to FS101.

Hello, friends and readers!

I think I will be starting the shift from SOAM to FS101 in my social media accounts soon. As things continue to shift and evolve with the work I do online and beyond, I think the time has come to begin to start the shift away from SOAM and towards FS101. For one thing, as I do more and more work for the trans community, I feel the name “Mother” is something that may lead the trans community to distrust my intentions. So many people claim to be allies, but folx in oppressed communities will inevitably find that the boundaries of that so-called allyship too often end far before the real allyship begins. As a cis woman, I know that trans folx do not owe me trust, I have to earn it. And for those who don’t already know me and my commitment to trans allyship, seeing “The Shape of a Mother” probably gives alarm bells. As this time in United States history, as we are moving to make laws against existing as a trans person, I want to work against that by being explicitly clear that I fully recognize that all genders give birth and parent children.

To anyone concerned that this move will lead to the erasure of women… It won’t. It doesn’t. SOAM has always been feminist. It is inherently feminist. But body image and postpartum body image are but one facet of what feminism actually covers and there is a LOT of work to be done.

I went back to college in my mid-30s. I was an English major and once I arrived at university, I decided that I wanted to do more. I came to choose between earning an editing certificate or taking a minor in Women’s Studies. The day that I met with the undergrad advisor for the WS department, was also the same day that Trump won the 2016 election. I watched the news in horror that night, but at least I knew what my decision would be.

We cannot continue compartmentalizing feminism because to do so divides our own power and weakens our ability to win this ultimate battle against patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy. Feminism is the anthesis to all of these evils because of its diversity. We cannot separate feminism from anti-racism work because some women are Black, or Indigenous, or other people of color. We cannot separate feminism from anti-capitalist work because some women are poor. We cannot separate feminism from environmental justice because women live in the environment and deserve a safe place to live. I can go on and on.

So I want to be very clear that the shifting focus from SOAM to FS101 is not erasing women in any way, but instead is an open invitation to all who want to work together for a truly equitable world. The tent is large and all are welcomed here, except those who work to divide and exclude.

I think I am formally closing SOAM. To be honest I wasn’t expecting that as I started writing this post, but the truth is that it’s been closed for a long time and that hasn’t been my decision. The lack of entries and my own disabilities and health issues made that decision for me. Maybe someday that will change. But right now I recognize that I need to face forward and move ahead with new, evolved work. Today is the 17th anniversary of the day I first started this website so it feels like a nice circle to end the project here. Will I stop doing work with body image? Absolutely not. If you have been following me on social media, you will not notice any difference except that the logo will change as we already do all kinds of feminist work outside of body image. It’s just that now everyone will know immediately that they are welcomed in my space.

Well, I think I’m gonna go sob now a little bit. See you around and I cannot wait to see what work we do together in the future!

Big News! Feminist Studies 101, now open in Beta

Y’all, this has been a loooong time in the making.

As the internet evolves, and as our social conversations and tools evolve, SOAM has slowed down significantly from when I was getting multiple entries daily.

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, I recognize that my inability to keep it up has contributed to this. I don’t usually get too raw here about my internal struggles because as the owner of this site I always feel an obligation to present a positive attitude, but the truth is I have been struggling with how to move forward for a long time and my childhood trauma of internalizing my failures feeds on this like Hexxus in Fern Gully, growing larger, looming, and destroying. It’s not a super functional way to try to be a successful person, turns out.

I’m not shutting SOAM down or anything, don’t worry about that! And I believe I even have some entries waiting to be posted.

But I’ve been somewhat uncomfortable with the shift here from a website focusing specifically on postpartum body image to a general feminist educational site. Obviously the one is inherently enmeshed with the other so it’s not exactly that feminist education doesn’t belong here. It’s more that feminist subjects vary so widely that postpartum body image is merely one facet of feminist education.

Part of this is obviously that “mother” doesn’t describe all of those who experience pregnancy, birth, and thus have a postpartum body and I have been increasingly uncomfortable with the name of this site because I realize that even if I say “I welcome trans folx” there will be some who will be triggered and cannot benefit from the work I want to be accessible.

I think part of it may also be my autism desiring clear distinctions between what is for SOAM and what is for something else.

But I’ve been clinging to this particular website because it once had a big audience and audience is everything online.

But as I become increasingly frustrated with the algorithms of the big social media sites, I find myself wanting to be able to write words without trying to figure out a new and inventive way to trick the algorithms while still remaining understandable to my readers. Knot seas, Yahtzees… Further, perhaps these euphemisms don’t do anything to slow the fascism and white supremacy that is spreading like wildfire. Perhaps they minimize, make silly, things that should chill our hearts?

I hold a minor in Women’s Studies and I believe the lessons that (intersectional) feminism teaches us are so vital to fighting the systems of oppression that I desire to make accessible all of the theory and lessons that feminism teaches us. Where oppressors try to hide information, or lie and twist truths, feminism thrives on transparency and bringing information to light. Where oppressors sow fear, feminism breaks down those fears and unites us in all of our diversity. I have known for some time now that I want to spend the rest of my life fighting patriarchy, white supremacy, racism, and fascism by helping to educate the world about feminist philosophy. And I’ve known for about a year that ultimately that would require a new place under which to organize. I’m keeping SOAM for what it has always been – and I absolutely mean to keep it inclusive despite the archaic name – but now there is also a new place I am basing on a formal education in Women’s Studies – but for inclusivity I’m calling it Feminist Studies 101.

Will I succeed in this new venture? Fuck if I know. My brain is telling me I’m never going to be successful; it’s just listing all of my previous failures, throwing them in my face and reminding me that, ultimately, I’m a fraud.

I fight back against that because, frankly, it’s all capitalist lies. If the information I provide helps even one person, that makes it worthwhile. If I let this new website sit where it is and never touch it again, it is still something I can be proud of.

That said, I do need money to live in this capitalist hellscape and I hope that you will consider supporting me financially for the work that I do because what better way to take down The Man than to support individual artists and activists.

On that note, I’ve set up a Redbubble shop with some feminist designs. I’ve got stickers up and you can slap those babies on anything. But there’s other merch, too. Mugs, water bottles, totes, etc. So many options to tell the world “Fuck Nazis!” And if you have a good idea for a design you’d like to see, let me know!

PS, this is not an April Fool’s joke, hahahaha I just wanted to take advantage of April to get some stuff about autism published at the new site for Autism Awareness Month.

What’s Next?

Y’all. I’m nearly done with my first series of Badass Bitches From History. Ten bitches, coming right up!
Ada Lovelace completes the set. I’m also working to update the graphics for some of the older ones. Once that’s done, I plan to start offering postcards, stickers, perhaps mugs or other merch. What would you like? (Also if anyone knows of a good site that will print sets of postcards and ship them for me that’d be cool thanks.)

As far as moving forward in a sustainable way, I think I’ve decided each series will be ten historical figures (give or take). I’m less certain about how to present InfoPosts. Those may not come in complete series like my Bitches because I sense they need different organizational formats. However, I do plan to gather them all together to create some sort of Intro to Feminism source. Book? Website? All of the above? Who knows at this early stage!

I’ll work on a loose schedule for the BBFH and InfoPosts moving forward and get that posted soon. In the mean time, stay tuned for Ada Lovelace and Fat Phobia, they’ll be coming up within a couple of weeks!

Nope, I’m still apart.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. - Douglas Adams

In June I wrote a bit about how I completely dropped the ball on the May BBFH and Infoposts. Well, it’s now August and I’m still not caught up. I’m not sure why I’m so stuck right now because in many ways I am doing so much better than I had been for a hot minute there. I think it’s a combination of a number of things. For one thing, as I continue healing from my severe autistic burnout, I am capable of managing more of my daily life than I had been for a long time. For instance, I’m able to make myself small meals more often instead of eating frozen meals every time. So as I find myself able to do more things, I need to relearn how to balance those things with other stuff, such as the work I do here.

I think it’s also that, let’s be honest, I’m not the one in charge here. My brain is being driven, not by me, but by my neurodivergence and my neurodivergence has Opinions. For instance, it shuts down the factory if the workers aren’t getting enough rest or benefits. Heh. In processing all this with my friends, they pointed out that maybe it’s unreasonable to have planned a full year’s worth of posts with no flexibility for breaks. And of course, the intention was always to be willing to be flexible, but… let me put it this way. And folx with both ADHD and autism probably know what I’m talking about. But the ADHD likes new shit all the time, right? But the autism likes to know what’s coming next and to be fully and completely prepared with the schedule. So the ADHD was like “whoa there, we need a break.” and the autism was like “sure no problem but the thing is we won’t reopen the factory until we have a Plan.” And here we are, stuck between the one and the other neurodivergence, with no hope of escape until one side or the other is willing to concede, which they are not, of course.

It’s a ride, I tell you hwat. hahaha

A friend suggested that I break up the BBFH posts into series rather than one month a year and I love that idea, although I am admittedly not sure how it will look in the end. I need to create some sort of rules for the autism and to help hold the ADHD accountable, but no so much it makes the ADHD pull in the demand avoidance which can be a whole other thing all on its own, haha

That said, I am working on finishing up Lili’uokalani’s BBFH and I *hope* to get August’s posts up in (or at least near to) August. Please refer to the Douglas Adams quote at the top of this post.

And then I will be thinking about how to formulate things in the future so as to be both successful and reliable for y’all.

As always, think you for your support. You mean the world to me.

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.

Every Now And Then I Fall Apart

Image shows a black butterfly with light blue accents sitting on a child's open hands. The child has light skin. In the background is shown shoes and a wooden floor, out of focus.
Image of me, a butterfly, transformed after three long years of depression/autistic burnout. Or some shit.

Hello, reader! You may have noticed that I wound up producing neither a BBFH nor an Infopost for May. I am not exactly sure what happened, or why/how I completely dropped the ball. I did have a few weeks where I struggled more with my depression again, and I know that this whole Roe v Wade thing has hit me pretty hard* and that was almost certainly a part of it. But sometimes my brain Can and sometimes my brain Cannot and this past May, for whatever reason or reasons, my brain Just Couldn’t.

I am working on getting myself caught up on life and my work here. I regret to say that I will not be able to complete both the May and June projects I had planned so I will be dropping the June ones, finishing the May ones, and jumping back in with July. So this month I’ll get out a BBFH about Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, and in lieu of the planned Infopost on Fatphobia, I will be publishing a post and Infopost on Alito’s bullshit claims, debunking them. I do also plan to get a TikTok done for Marsha P Johnson, a previous BBFH, and an Instagram/Facebook story posted about her as well.

I am still learning and relearning, writing and rewriting my newly healed and healing self into existence. Setting the goal this year of monthly planned BBFH and Infoposts was a hard thing to do and I am so very proud of how well I have so far met that goal (even if I am consistently late). I promised myself it was okay to make change things and make mistakes (like being consistently late) so I am meeting myself with forgiveness and love right now and moving forward.

Thank you all for being here for that and understanding that. Love and blessings to all of you!

*I want to acknowledge that my white privilege had blinded me for a long time to the fact that what white women/AFAB/fems are facing now with this Roe v Wade SCOTUS bullshittery is not in any way new to Black and Indigenous people of color. I am listening to y’ll and learning from you. When I say I am struggling this month because of it, I do not intend to erase the very real experiences other communities have always faced.

BBFH: Ching Shih

Y’all. I heard “female pirate” and basically I was sold on this badass bitch, but after doing research I honestly feel like she may be the badassest bitch I’ve covered here and I can’t wait for you to meet her. Let’s go!

Wikipedia claims she was born as Shi Yang, but other, scholarly sources claim we do not know her birth name (2). Today she is known primarily by Ching Shih or Zheng Yi Sao, or sometimes Ching I Sao, which translates to Cheng I’s Wife or Cheng I’s Widow.

Full disclosure, I have tried to figure out which is the most correct translation of her name into English and I cannot find a source which discusses the variations so I do not know if one is more accurate/respectful than the other or if all are equally acceptable. If you happen to know, do please drop me a comment (and hopefully a source!) and I will edit this essay and all social media posts because accurate and culturally respectful histories are of utmost importance to me.

In any case she seems to have been born around 1775 and worked as a sex worker in a floating brothel in Canton. She was known for her shrewd business sense (2). It was apparently this talent that made Cheng I seek her out (1). Cheng already had considerable forces under his command when he married Ching Shih, but together they were able to unify several smaller gangs into a fleet that ultimately was made up of 1,800 ships and as many as 80,000 men (2). For comparison, the famous pirate Blackbeard commanded only four ships and 300 men (1). For yet even more impressive comparison, this badass and her husband had more than twice as many men in their service as the Spanish Armada (2). Fucking wild.

Meanwhile her husband was apparently bi and wanted his lover/protégé to inherit his legacy so he adopted him which is less uncomfortable than it sounds to our modern, Western ears as it was the primary means of “establishing kinship” for inheritances (1). Women were limited in the rights they were granted (2) and I presume this was also true of inheritances.

In any case, Cheng I died unexpectedly, leaving his “son” Chang Pao to inherit the fleets. Almost immediately, Ching Shih took Chang Pao as her lover as well, soon marrying him (2). And thus she retained her power in the fleet with even her new husband subordinate to her.

To continue to maintain her position, she instituted a severe code of laws which included the following:

  • Disobey a superior? Immediate beheading.
  • Stealing from treasury? Also gets you dead.
  • Desertion or AWOL? Lose your ears and everyone makes fun of you.
  • Have sex with a captive? Again with the beheadings. Even if the sex was consensual. (2)

  • But it wasn’t all threats. She also provided for her crews by guaranteeing 20% of all captured goods for those doing the capturing (2). It’s almost like a union. Or something.

    Y’all. This whole operation was so massive and so well-run that nobody could stop them. They were able to move their operations onto land and into cities, getting involved in the salt trade and eventually all but ceasing the opium trade (2). People do not like not getting their opium, it turns out.

    Eventually the Chinese government realized that even with the help of the Portuguese navy and England’s East India Trading Company, they could not make a dent in Ching Shih’s forces. They offered a generalized amnesty to all the pirates if they’d just stop pirating (3).

    So Ching Shih recognized the power she held here and, in theory, could have continued on as they were, but she also knew that tensions were rising among the leaders of the various fleets she commanded. She realized the power she held and the chance for this total amnesty would ultimately not last. She decided to negotiate the best terms she could for herself and her crews (2).

    Y’all. This may be the most badass part of all of this. She did not budge during negotiations which went on over a couple of months and multiple attempts. Eventually she showed up at the home of the highest official in the land with only women and children to accompany her. She would not agree to any terms until it was guaranteed that her second husband Chang Pao would be allowed 80 ships to continue working in the salt trade, legitimately (2). Not only did none of her pirates receive punishment, but many went on to do the same work they were already doing, and many others went on to join the actual military (2). But really. Can you imagine?

    As noted earlier, women were limited in various ways in how they could hold power. Ching Shih had achieved her status through illegitimate means thus far. Now that she and her crews were going straight, she wanted to maintain status. Normally remarried widows could not hold the title of Wife of an Official, but this badass bitch petitioned and won that right despite the social barriers (2). Absolute fucking queen, y’all.

    She spent the remainder of her years in peace, running a gambling house, until her death in 1844.

    So many women who achieve power in situations where it is typically withheld from them come from some sort of privilege, either an established family, or financial means, or a privileged community, or educational background. But Ching Shih seems to have had none of these. She rose from a brothel to become more powerful than China, Portugal, and England combined using only her wits and her shrewd business sense. I am in utter awe of this badass bitch.


    1. Banerji, Urvija. “The Chinese Female Pirate Who Commanded 80,000 Outlaws.” Atlas Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 6 Apr. 2016,
    2. Murray, Dian. “One Woman’s Rise to Power: Cheng I’s Wife and the Pirates.” Historical Reflections / Réflexions Historiques, vol. 8, no. 3, 1981, pp. 147–61,
    3. “Ching Shih Pirate Biography and Facts.” Anne Bonny Pirate,

    BBFH: Rosalind Franklin

    Y’all, this badass bitch, tho. Rosalind Franklin was a gifted and driven English scientist in the middle of the 20th Century. And because she was a woman, she faced a fucking lot of misogyny. Yay, Women’s History Month.

    Watson and Crick are the men generally credited with the discovery of DNA, but there is huge debate even to this day as to whether they did, whether Rosalind Franklin did, or whether they stole her work and succeeded unethically. After doing my research, I feel like the answer is this: they absolutely profited off of her work without her knowledge or credit and anyone who says otherwise is, usually, a man.

    Here’s how it went down.

    Rosalind was an English chemist and X-Ray crystallographer and, after doing work on coal that was vitally important to WWII and to the world we live in today, she took a fellowship at King’s College in London where she wound up working on DNA structures. There was some miscommunication, or perhaps some chaotic reassignments within their department when she joined and this, in addition to apparent personality differences, caused some friction between herself and fellow researcher Maurice Wilkins (1). “Her friend Norma Sutherland recalled: ‘Her manner was brusque and at times confrontational – she aroused quite a lot of hostility among the people she talked to, and she seemed quite insensitive to this (1).'” Girl, SAME.

    Meanwhile, at Cambridge, Francis Crick and James Watson were doing the same work, but struggling to find the correct answers. “Watson and Crick’s first foray into trying to crack the structure of DNA took place in 1952. It was a disaster. Their three-stranded, inside-out model was hopelessly wrong and was dismissed at a glance by Franklin (1).” Badass.

    Meanwhile over at King’s College, Wilkins had been working with graduate student Raymond Gosling on attempting to get pictures of DNA with some success. But once Franklin arrived, she, working with Gosling, who had been transferred to her leadership, used her expertise in Chemistry to make some adjustments to the camera and tools Wilkins had been using. In this way she was able to capture the first clear picture of DNA.

    Image shows a shape roughly like a circle with a chromosome shaped like an X at the center., the outer part of the circle is blackened. To the right shows some cursive handwriting that is frankly hard to read but, among other things, does mention the names Franklin and Gosling. The background is like yellowed paper and a mark from a paper clip can be seen in the upper left corner.
    Photo 51 by Franklin and Gosling

    Now there’s a lot of politics and bureaucratic nonsense going on here and it’s not unreasonable for Wilkins to have felt slighted with his tools and grad student being used to achieve superior work without his input or involvement. Based on everything else I’ve read on this case and also my experience as a woman in our society, I think it’s reasonable to say that the fact that the superior work was being done by a woman must have stung even more.

    But what’s not reasonable – and what’s strangely up for debate to this day – is what he did next.

    He fucking showed the photo to Watson. Without Rosalind’s permission.

    This is particularly important because this photo changed the game. Immediately, Watson understood that he was looking at a double helix. He later said, “my mouth fell open and my pulse began to race (qtd in 1).”

    Here’s where the “debate” comes in. Did he “steal” the photo? Technically, no, nothing illegal occurred. But was it unethical? FUCK YES, JESUS CHRIST, YES IT WAS UNETHICAL FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Matthew Cobb, at the Guardian, wrote that, “Their behaviour was cavalier, to say the least, but there is no evidence that it was driven by sexist disdain: [they] would have undoubtedly behaved the same way had the data been produced by Maurice Wilkins (1).” To which I, a woman, say, “mhrm, okay bro” but even if he’s right about that, I daresay we would not still be debating whether it was stolen work had it been stolen from a man.

    But even this groundbreaking photo was not quite enough. More of Rosalind’s work was taken – again, not illegally, but not with permission or acknowledgement. Watson and Crick needed, not just the photo, but the detailed observations from it to make their calculations. This was made available to them by another man, Max Perutz, who showed them an informal report Rosalind had made (1).

    Even Cobb admits that “The report was not confidential, and there is no question that the Cambridge duo acquired the data dishonestly. However, they did not tell anyone at King’s what they were doing, and they did not ask Franklin for permission to interpret her data (something she was particularly prickly about) (1).”

    How the fuck can they claim that the work wasn’t stolen? A scientist and scholar of Franklin’s notes that “you do not hand unpublished data to a competitor. Period. I don’t care if the MRC report was not marked confidential (2).” And I mean, I’m just a lowly literature and Women’s Studies scholar, but it was made patently clear in every single class from middle school through university that plagiarism is unconscionable and this smacks of plagiarism. *shrug*

    Furthermore, the arguments against wrongdoing by Watson and Crick (which tend to be made my men) generally go like this:

  • She was mean and didn’t want to work with anyone else.
  • But she wasn’t discriminated against for her sex (ummm okay reread the line before this one and just try to tell me anyone would have used this excuse about a man).
  • The information was publicly available previously (I will get into this in a mo). (2)

  • and my personal favorite:

  • She never found out the extent to which they’d used her work to beat her to the finish line so she therefore wasn’t harmed by it (2).

  • What. Like. Really though. What? How is this an argument made by an adult professional? It feels like kids fighting on an elementary school playground.

    black and white photo featuring a woman with short brown hair, parted at the side, leaning over a microscope

    As for the information that was publicly available previously? Watson had attended a seminar in 1951 where Rosalind presented “virtually identical” data as was in the later-acquired report. “Had Watson bothered to take notes during her talk, instead of idly musing about her dress sense and her looks, he would have provided Crick with the vital numerical evidence 15 months before the breakthrough finally came (1).”

    Yeah. Still not seeing how his refusal to take her seriously enough at the time makes it acceptable for him to use her work, retrieved illicitly, to earn a Nobel prize. I feel like any one of my professors would shrug and say “too bad, so sad” to me if I tried to use that as an argument. I certainly feel like, again, had she been a man presenting this information, Watson may have taken her seriously enough in the first place so that he would never have had to twist and bend ethics in an attempt to wash his conscience clean.

    *feminist grumbles*

    In an interview from PBS Newshour, Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian was asked if Watson and Crick would have arrived at their world-changing discovery without Rosalind’s work. “They absolutely would not. It would have been very hard for them,” before conceding that “They might have, eventually (3).”

    He goes on to acknowledge that “I think they never thought of Rosalind as a serious competitor of their level. I think it was chauvinism to the nth degree and was very common in academic science on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean at that time (3).”

    That, friends, is how you ally.

    Would they have, eventually, gotten there? Yes, maybe, but still not before our girl Rosalind. “The progress she made on her own, increasingly isolated and without the benefit of anyone to exchange ideas with, was simply remarkable (1).” She was speedrunning what had taken them years and stolen data to achieve. Markel notes, “Francis Crick said: Of course, Rosalind would have figured it out in a few weeks. It’s just that we figured it out faster (3).” (With stolen work.)

    Rosalind lived only five more years, dying in 1958 of ovarian cancer, possibly due to her work with X-Ray technology, and four years before Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel prize for “their” discovery. It is often argued that Rosalind would not have been eligible for the Nobel prize, anyway, because they did not award them posthumously. But to me that sounds like more bullshit because a) why they fuck not? and b) we will never truly know if she would have been considered for it.

    Rosalind was an absolute powerhouse and her work changed the world not only through the vital understanding of DNA, or even her earlier work with the structures of coal, but because she worked with viruses as well and her work laid the foundations that shaped scientific response to the pandemic we are currently living through. Fucking hero. Badass bitch. Rosalind Franklin.


    1. Cobb, Matthew. “Sexism in Science: Did Watson and Crick Really Steal Rosalind Franklin’s Data?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 June 2015,
    2. Lloyd, Robin. “Rosalind Franklin and DNA: How Wronged Was She?” Scientific American Blog Network, Scientific American, 3 Nov. 2010,
    3. Brangham, William, et al. “Why Discovery of DNA’s Double Helix Was Based on ‘Rip-off’ of Female Scientist’s Data.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 30 Sept. 2021,

    Further basic information found at

    Upcoming Infoposts and BBFH

    I’m so scatterbrained these days…. well more than usual, hah. I entirely forgot to post my planned schedule for infoposts and BBFH for this year. I was a little behind on my Feb infopost, but I still hope to get March’s up this month. All of this is subject to evolve for any number of reasons, including new recommendations for subjects shared with me. So if you’ve got a great idea, drop it in the comments below!

    FEBRUARY: Ida B Wells, Black Journalist b. 1862
    MARCH: Rosalind Franklin, chemist who discovered double helix shape of DNA
    APRIL: Zheng Yi Sao, Chinese pirate b. 1775
    MAY: Liluuokalani, last monarch of Hawaii
    JUNE: TBA, let me know your favorite queer icon!
    JULY: Poly Styrene, singer for punk band X-Ray Spex
    AUGUST: Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer b. 1815
    SEPTEMBER: Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Mexican poet b. 1648
    OCTOBER: Kitty Cone, disabled activist b. 1944
    NOVEMBER: Susan La Flesche Picotte, Native American doctor b. 1865
    DECEMBER: Trieu Thi Trinh, Vietnamese warrior b. 226 CE

    FEBRUARY: Reproductive Justice
    APRIL: Intersectionality
    MAY: Fatphobia
    JUNE: Allyship 101
    JULY: Clitoris Facts
    AUGUST: Patriarchy is bad for men, too
    SEPTEMBER: Non-Western Beauty Standards
    OCTOBER: Disability rights
    NOVEMBER: Childbirth Recovery
    DECEMBER: Sexual Violence

    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,

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