How does it help people who need safe access to abortion to further limit our sexual autonomy? There is a constant, unrelenting war against women, LGBTQ+ folks and Black, indigenous and people of color, the poor and working class in
Abortion doulas work to normalize the termination process from start to finish.While most people have heard of birth doulas and generally understand their support role during pregnancy, labor, and after, very few have heard of abortion doulas and know even less about what they do to support people terminating pregnancies. Gina Martinez Valentín first heard about abortion doulas from Hip Mama magazine 20 years ago: “There was an article about a young single queer mom who was showing up and helping her friends when they were having an abortion, to offer support. For unrelated reasons the mom ended up dying, and that’s when I knew I was going to do this.” Not only is she a working abortion doula now, Martinez Valentín is also co-founder of the Colorado Doula Project, an anti-racist, anti-oppression, full-spectrum reproductive health support non-profit that offers birth, abortion, and miscarriage doula services as well as postpartum and fertility assistance. Even though abortions have been a part of reproductive health since the dawn of time, it’s only been in recent history that access to this important care has been denied and even criminalized. In spite of abortion being legal by federal law, many states—such as Ohio, Texas, Iowa, Arkansas—have been restricting abortion access at the local level in draconian measures that negatively affect women’s reproductive health and choices.
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Because of the stigma and myth of periods being dirty, I wanted to distance myself from imagined uncleanliness. I compromised my comfort, but it did not come without a valuable lesson.By Rachael Edwards We all have stories that we tuck away into the crevices of our inner-most beings in hopes to have them never resurface again. One of my stories that I rarely, if ever, share with anyone is the time I fainted while trying to insert a tampon. Granted, it was my first time but there were reasons that led up to me fainting and the embarrassment that followed after. Recently, I have explored why I find this particular story so embarrassing. Growing up, I was taught to tuck pads deep into my purse so that no one else could see I had my period. It was women’s business and men could not discover what was going on with my body. If they did, myself and other young women were teased. The language around periods remains problematic because this language is laced with associating our menstrual cycles to uncleanliness–people who menstruate have to hide what happens to their bodies because the cishet male gaze perpetuates the lie that periods are dirty and something to be ashamed of. When I was 17-years-old, I thought it would be a good idea to insert a tampon without any practice. I was told that tampons were cleaner and way cooler than pads. In high school, I was the one in the bathroom with the loud crunchy pad paper. I never had any real issue with pads until someone told me that I was late to the game and needed to start wearing tampons. I wanted to be as clean as possible-if tampons meant that, I had to catch up.
Related: #ASKCAM: HOW TO OWN YOUR SEXUALITY
How can we create a more inclusive discussion about the very common endocrine disorder, PCOS?By Toni-Marie Gallardo Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects 10% of people with ovaries. It can lead to ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, problems with ovulation, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It is caused by the body’s overproduction of androgens, under production of progesterone, and insulin resistance. This is a brief explanation, but I don’t want to regurgitate the same narrative that most of the PCOS online community spouts. Black, indigenous women, trans and gender nonconforming people of color (BIPOC) are often left out of the narrative. I was officially diagnosed with PCOS in 2014. I say officially, because if you’re anything like me and other BIPOC, then you are already familiar with the dangerous but necessary tradition of self diagnosis. It took me three years to overcome the generational trauma that most BIPOC experience when going to the doctor’s office. Low income communities and hourly wage earners often aren’t able to take time off from work, aren’t made aware of all their options, don’t trust physicians, or are simply used to creating their own remedies through traditional means. Today, although I am Mexican American with the privilege of healthcare, the trauma manifests as telling myself “it’s not that bad,” or “I’m being dramatic,” which is usually reinforced by family members. I brought up the symptoms of PCOS to my mother–she laughed and said I was just Mexican, thick and hairy, and gave me twenty bucks to start waxing.
I was born in the early 1970s and have never known a United States without legal abortion. I’ve been lucky to have easy access to birth control and health services like Planned Parenthood. Over the past several years, it’s been