Celebrating Mama’s Day

This year I’m working with the folks at the Strong Families Initiative on their Mama’s Day campaign. Mama’s Day is about turning mother’s day around and focusing on the moms in our communities who often get left out of the celebrations, particularly young moms, immigrant moms, queer moms and low-income moms. Not only do these mamas often not get love on mother’s day–in today’s political climate, they get scapegoated and targeted.

As doulas, our work is just that: to provide love and support to all the mamas we work with, regardless of who they are or what phase of pregnancy they are in. That’s why I support this campaign.

We’ve also got a ton of blog posts from these Mama’s here, as well as some beautiful images like the one below to show your support to the mamas in your life.

Babies need love, Moms do too. Tell an immigrant mom, "I stand with you."

Check out the campaign on facebook and twitter to learn more.

Proof that anti-abortion laws hurt ALL pregnant women

We’re only just starting to see the impacts of new extreme anti-abortion legislation that has been passed around the country.

As I argue in this post, these laws also restrict the choices of women who want to parent. I’m going to try to keep an eye on the stories that highlight these connections because I think it busts open the myth that anti-choice activists are only focused on restricting abortion. They’re actually focused on restricting women’s autonomy in a myriad of ways related to pregnancy.

From Nebraska State Paper:

Nebraska’s new abortion law forced Danielle Deaver to live through ten excruciating days, waiting to give birth to a baby that she and her doctors knew would die minutes later, fighting for breath that would not come.

And that’s what happened. The one-pound, ten-ounce girl, Elizabeth, was born December 8th. Deaver and husband Robb watched, held and comforted the baby as it gasped for air, hoping she was not suffering. She died 15 minutes later.

The sponsor of the controversial Nebraska statute, Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk, told the Des Moines Register that the law worked as it was intended in the Deavers’ case.

“Even in these situations where the baby has a terminal condition or there’s not much chance of surviving outside of the womb, my point has been and remains that is still a life,” Flood said in an interview with the Iowa newspaper.

The law, the only one of its kind in America, prohibits abortions after the 20th week. It is based on the disputed argument that a fetus may feel pain at that stage. It took effect last October.

These situations, while rare, do happen. Not all women, when faced with a fetus that is known not to be viable, would choose to terminate early. Some would want to carry the fetus to term, and spend that time in whatever way they choose.

The point is: she should have a choice. No one should be forced to carry an unviable fetus to term. No one should have lawmakers interfering with a medical decision that should be kept between the family and the medical providers.

“Our hands were tied,” Danielle Deaver of Grand Island told The Register in a story published Sunday.  “The outcome of my pregnancy, that choice was made by God. I feel like how to handle the end of my pregnancy, that choice should have been mine, and it wasn’t because of a law.”

Also, what kind of BS argument is that about fetal pain? For one thing, the research behind the idea of fetal pain is super sketchy. And for another, what about the suffering of this newborn as it died?

I’ll keep saying it over and over: anti-abortion laws don’t just hurt women who want to terminate their pregnancies. They also hurt women who want to parent.

h/t Mary M.

Victory in Kentucky: Fetuses cannot be legally disconnected from the pregnant woman carrying them

Via the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, some good news on the legal front:

I am thrilled to let you know that the Kentucky Supreme Court once again refused to advance the war on drugs to women’s wombs and made clear that pregnant women, no less than other persons, are protected by the rule of law. By refusing to accept the prosecution’s argument that the “unborn” should be legally disconnected from the pregnant women who carry them and treated as if they were separate legal persons, this decision protects the civil and reproductive rights and health of all women in Kentucky.

In this case, a pregnant woman was prosecuted in flagrant disregard for Kentucky law, embodied in its Maternal Health Act of 1992, and binding Kentucky Supreme Court precedent. NAPW worked extensively with the defendant’s talented public defenders (including Jamesa Drake, who presented a brilliant oral argument) and many treatment, recovery, and health allies in the commonwealth. NAPW, with attorneys Allison Harris of Shearman & Sterling and Kentucky Attorney Michael Goodwin, filed an amicus brief to highlight the negative public health consequences that would arise if drug-using women were to be punished for becoming mothers. Twenty-five public health organizations, advocates, and experts were represented on our brief (see list below) and more than sixty were represented as amici in the case. Today’s opinion reinforces the importance of Kentucky’s public health approach to the issues of drug use and pregnancy, and the fact that prosecutors should not be allowed to legally separate the fetus from the pregnant woman who carries and nurtures it.

Some of the scariest changes in laws regarding women, autonomy and pregnancy happen at the legal level, across the US. This is a big victory. Read the rest of NAPW’s post here.

What organizations work with feminist mothers?

I often get questions from readers via email, and figured that some of you might have the same questions. So I’m going to share them here if I think they might be useful.

A question from a soon to be mom last week:

Can [you] point me in the directions of any organizations that work with feminist mothers? Most of my activist work has been with victim/survivor rights of sexual assault, and now that I’m going to be a mother I am interested in working with other feminist mothers on important issues. If you have any advice I’d really appreciate it!

My answer:

Two that came to mind were the Big Push for Midwives and Moms Rising. The Big Push is national, and great if you are interested in midwifery advocacy. They are pushing legislation around the country to increase access to Certified Professional Midwives, who focus on out of hospital birth. They are working with coalitions around the country. http://www.thebigpushformidwives.org/

The other that came to mind was Moms Rising. I don’t know if they identify specifically as “feminist” but they seem to do cool work on a slew of mom-related things (like toxic toy campaigns for example). They are also national. http://www.momsrising.org/

Lovely Radical Doula readers, do you have any additions? Leave them in comments! And feel free to include orgs that work with parents more generally, and not just moms.

Immigrant woman reunited with child after losing custody

A story I wrote about last June, looks like it finally has a happy ending. A year later, Cirila Baltazar Cruz has been reunited with her daughter.

Cirila gave birth in a Mississippi hospital, and initial reports indicated that the hospital staff deemed her unfit to be a parent because she couldn’t communicate with an interpreter. Cirila speaks an indigenous language from Oaxaca, explaining the  inability to communicate with a Spanish language interpreter.

So sad it took a year, but so happy for this mother and daughter to be reunited. According to the Native American Times, they are headed back to Mexico and the Mexican government has gotten involved.

A news release from Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs said Cruz’ situation was “a clear case of discrimination and violation of the most basic human rights of a Mexican citizen.”


Via VivirLatino

Worried about women of color? Thanks but no thanks anti-choicers. We’ve got it covered.

I have another piece up at RH Reality Check today. Apparently it’s my week for publication! This one has a lot more opinion and snark than yesterday’s. I was responding to the recent efforts on behalf of the anti-choice community to argue that abortion is being used by groups like Planned Parenthood as a form of eugenics against women of color.

Latinas and other women of color don’t need to be protected by paternalistic ideologues motivated by a political agenda that disregards the needs of women of color and their families. So thanks for your concern, anti-choicers, but I think the women of color advocates working within the reproductive justice movement have got it covered. We’re working in those clinics you attack, we’re helping to shape policies and provide services in our communities, services that allow us to decide what our needs are.

We know whom we can trust to make decisions about family creation: women themselves. We don’t need limits on what services we can access.  And we don’t need your ideological bullying.

The next time one of your crisis pregnancy centers, one of your dramatic billboards, or one of your bogus pieces of “sex and race selection” legislation actually works to support women through whatever choice they make for their families—we’ll talk.

Read the rest here.

Large baby denied insurance coverage, headlines force retraction

I first saw this story over at Unnecesearan, and I’m happy to say that by the time I got to posting about it, some resolution was reached.

You can see a video of the news coverage, but basically a baby in the 99th percentile for size was denied coverage by a health insurance company.

Thanks to a ton of news coverage (possibly fueled by the father’s job as a newscaster in Colorado) the insurance company has reversed it’s policy. The company called it a flaw, but we all know that these kind of denials are pervasive and not going to go away on their own.