Fikri Alkhatib is from Singapore and studies politics in the UK, navigating spaces that used to belong to old white men and making them her own. She says yes to too many things and is particularly fond of planting trees, travelling on impulse, taking photos, and writing the occasional thing on the internet. You can find her on Twitter (@metafiktion) or on her blog (Typical, Really).
Laurie Bertram Roberts is President of Mississippi’s chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She is also a board delegate for the Mid-South Region of NOW. Roberts is a doula, mother, activist, clinic escort and feminist. She is also a regular contributor at the Jackson Free Press.
Roberts is on Twitter: @smartstatistic.
1. How do you view the relationship between your work as the president of Mississippi NOW and your work as a radical doula?
First, I think the state of birth in our country is a huge reflection of the state of women in our country. Even for something that is suppose to be so revered and respected as motherhood, women are STILL not given respect or seen as capable to think on their own. That said, I really don’t think they can be separated primarily because pregnancy and birth, how you do it and if you do it, is a human right. As a full spectrum doula, I work with women and families regardless of their pregnancy outcomes or their reproductive choices.
As president of MS NOW, I advocate and work on behalf of feminist/women’s issues. Both roles require me to listen to women and honor their choices. I cannot be an effective doula and not respect my clients and their abilities to choose what is right for them. The same goes for leading Mississippi NOW. I cannot in my leadership role work on behalf of women in my state without first listening to their voices, their concerns and respecting those concerns.
Especially as a woman of color who does this work, I am constantly aware of intersectionality and the effects of multiple oppression. If I lose that focus I think I will be doing a greater disservice than a service to the state. Mississippi NOW also recently started an abortion fund. Miriam Perez just wrote a great piece in RH Reality check saying that doulas and abortion funds have many commonalities, primarily that both are stop gap measures stepping in to provide additional services where they are lacking.
by Bailey Shoemaker Richards
Bailey Shoemaker Richards is a writer, feminist activist, and market research analyst. She holds a BA in creative writing from Ohio University.
Ohio is latest on the list of states where anti-choice legislation is being proposed, and House Bill 200 is an impossibly restrictive bill. HB 200, introduced as part of an omnibus anti-abortion bill, was brought by Representative Ron Hood and is backed by 34 Republicans. HB 200 restricts access to abortion in multiple ways, relying on the same tactics that anti-choice activists use everywhere to chip away at access to reproductive health services and the right to bodily autonomy.
What has not been widely reported as yet, in addition to the fact that this bill infringes on Ninth Amendment rights, is that HB 200 is another so-called “Heartbeat Bill.” Buried in the bill, proposed HB 200 §2317.56 (A)(3) is an amendment that says a “viable pregnancy” is one in which “cardiac activity is present,” making abortion illegal beyond that point. Compare this to current §2901.01 (B)(1)(a)(ii): a “person” is an “unborn human who is viable.” According to §2901.01 (B)(1)(c)(i), an “unborn human” is “an individual organism of the species Homo sapiens from fertilization until live birth” and “Viability,” according to §2901.01 (B)(2)(c)(ii), is “the stage of development of a human fetus at which there is a realistic possibility of maintaining and nourishing of a life outside the womb with or without temporary life-sustaining support.”
HB 200 attempts to essentially redefine the meaning of viability in this clause, altering it to the point at which there is a heartbeat and effectively altering current §2919.151 (B) to make ending a “viable” fetus a felony. Fetal heartbeats can be detected very early in a pregnancy, when many people are unaware they are even pregnant. In effect, HB 200 will make abortion illegal for the vast majority of individuals who would seek one.
by Mary Drummer
Mary Drummer is a student, Democratic campaign organizer, and reproductive justice advocate/organizer living in Northeast Ohio. You can find her on Twitter: @mary_drummer.
Republicans in the Ohio legislature are on a roll.
After turning the state’s biennium budget bill into an abortion restriction free-for all that includes defunding Planned Parenthood and non-PP affiliated family planning clinics and imposing unncessary, TRAP-like restrictions on abortion clinics in the state (one clinic in Toledo has already closed due to these proposed regulations and another one may close within a few months), you’d think the GOP-controlled General Assembly would be happy and leave well enough alone. You’d be wrong.
by Amelia Long
Long is the president of the Lilith Fund, an abortion fund that provides financial support to low-income and poor people in south and central Texas who cannot pay for the abortions they want and need.
For more on what you can do to help fight this bill, see this post by NARAL Texas at the Burnt Orange Report. If you live in Texas and plan on calling your state legislator and would like a script to use when you call, there is one towards the end of this post at Jessica Luther’s site. Also, Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check has more on this bill.
The Texas 20-week abortion ban is back. The bill didn’t even make it to a House vote during the regular session, but now Rick Perry has added abortion to the agenda during the Legislature’s special overtime session. The bill, a proposed ban on abortions after 20 weeks, is a pet project of Perry’s – it’s yet another step toward his ultimate goal of banning abortion completely in the state.
We have only days to mobilize against this bill. Due to the special session, abortion restrictions may be wrapped up into an omnibus bill, making them even harder to fight. We have to speak out while we still have time.
Rebekah is a married feminist and activist who has worked on projects for Planned Parenthood and has interned with her state legislature. She grew up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. She currently is majoring in accounting and lives in the suburbs of Seattle with her husband.
I don’t know how to feel about my name
I have a very complicated relationship to my name. To say that I grew up in a very conservative family is an understatement. Both of my parents are evangelical Christians. I am the black sheep of the family. From the very beginning I was strong willed and would not do what was socially expected of me. Needless to say I did not have a happy childhood.
My parents got divorced when I was five and both of my parents quickly remarried, with my mom taking her new husband’s last name, and my stepmother taking my father’s. My father quickly started building his new family, which didn’t have a lot of room for an unruly five year old who didn’t like sitting in church on Sundays and preferred climbing into trees and reading instead of playing with dolls. My mom, who was stuck with me by way of the court chose to lord it over my head that she and her new children had her husband’s last name and I had my absentee father’s.
I was taught from the very beginning that my name wasn’t my own. I was and would remain the property of men for all of my life. My parents purposefully chose my first name because it means bound in Hebrew.
It should not have been any surprise to either one of my parents that I left home at 18 to make my own way, far gone from the grasp of their emotional taunting and the pain that it caused to a child who desperately wanted the love and approval of her parents. It still shook the ground that they walked on and my mother has never quite forgiven me for that.
Six months ago my boyfriend of two years proposed. Up until that point we really hadn’t had a conversation about what we would do with our last names if and when we got married. My preference has always been to make a new last name. He as the child of a feminist who kept her last name when she got married.
Because it costs quite a bit of money, hassle, and time to change your name, when we got married we both kept our last names.
by Bianca Campbell
Campbell is a doula and reproductive justice organizer at SPARK Reproductive Justice Now. She is also proud to be a member of Echoing Ida, using the potential of social media to promote the reflections of Black women.
Too often public discourse on the reproductive and sexual rights issues of women living in the U.S. South, as well as the Global South, describes women as perpetual victims of their location and circumstances—especially Brown and Black women. In an effort to highlight the gross social and economic disparities, these narratives lose sight of the fierce feminist organizing happening in these regions. Even well-intentioned reproductive justice leaders can forgo balanced remarks by focusing on the injustices. This is simply detrimental to our movement.
Instead, let us foreground the dynamic reproductive justice work happening in the South and debunk the myths that we are helpless, uneducated, and in need of rescuing by the North! This Mama’s Day join SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW as we honor three amazing Black mothers and celebrate the resilience of women social justice leaders who continue to pave the way for our reproductive freedom in the South and the nation.
Annamarya Scaccia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has reported extensively on reproductive health and reproductive rights, women’s issues and rights, civil rights, constitutional issues, marriage equality, sexuality, sex worker rights, and sexual violence, among other rousing topics. Her work has appeared in/on Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Weekly, West Philly Local, Initiative Radio with Angela McKenzie, RH Reality Check, Prince George’s Suite, Origivation, and BLURT. She was a 2011 Peter Jennings Project for Journalists & the Constitution Fellow, and is the author of the 2005 poetry and prose collection, Destiny for a Tragedy.
Naming Problems: Who Am I?
For years when I was younger, I wished my name was Amanda.
That was the first name my mother originally picked to brand me with—to shape my identity for the years to come. But my father was adamant against it. So they decided to name me Annamaria instead.
And, for a while, I despised it.
It was a seething hatred I never fully vocalized. Instead, I sat with it silently, keeping Annamaria—and whatever it meant to be Annamaria—at a far, tense distance. Plus, it’s not like I was ever actually Annamaria. It was either shortened to Anna by me or assuming others, or was given some perverse variation, like Annemarie, Anne Marie, Annamarie, or Anna Marie, so on and so forth. And it was mocked mercifully. “Anna Banana Plays the Piano” was the soundtrack of my youth.
Annamaria was just a name I wrote on paperwork.
But this isn’t why I hated my name or why I wished upon stars that my birth certificate read Amanda instead. The simple, unabashed truth is I wanted to be named Amanda because of what it symbolized: an American girl in an Italian family.
In a lot of ways, my family is the quintessential Brooklyn Italian famiglia. Our heritage is important to our identity, to the way we communicated, and to the way we responded to the outside world. A mix of broken English and broken Italian was spoken over dishes of orecchiette and ragu. We would walk the line of the Santa Rosalia feast (better known as the 18th Avenue Feast) every year and shove our faces with delicious, messy zeppoli. And we would attend midnight mass on Christmas at St. Simon and Jude Church, filing in with our other Catholic neighbors.
Yet, I wasn’t Italian enough. Even though my mother would only joke about how I was “Americanized”— how I couldn’t speak or understand a lick of Italian or I didn’t like certain traditional foods—I always felt she had a point. How can I really be a first generation Italian-American if I couldn’t comprehend the language that filled our house? How could I really be a first generation Italian-American if I turned away from Catholicism to pursue a more profound faith?
How could I be this Brooklyn Italian girl I’m supposed to be if I couldn’t even fit into her clothes properly?
Marna Nightingale lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She is very married.
I put a lot of thought into the question of taking my hypothetical future husband’s name, when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Just as I felt I had come up with a plan, though, I got a girlfriend. Then I turned out to be poly. I now have two wives, a husband, and my birth name, not on principle, exactly, but because when it comes down to it, there is no practical alternative.
We did consider it, but all of us taking a new, made-up name didn’t appeal to any of us. Choosing one of the four names and going with it didn’t work either. As for hyphenation, I think quadruple-barrelled surnames should be given only to minor European nobility, who are presumably issued special passports with extra blank space to fit it all in.
Aside from all of that, I like my surname. If I didn’t, I might think differently; I don’t know. I don’t really think of it as “my father’s name”, either, even though he’s the reason I’ve got it. He carries it; he doesn’t own it any more than I do – or I don’t own it any less than he does.
Elly Blue is a writer, publisher, speaker, and bicycling advocate based in Portland, Oregon. Her publishing company, Taking the Lane Media, produces feminist non-fiction about bicycling. She has written, edited, and published books, zines, and other independently produced media and is also an active speaker on tour with the Dinner and Bikes project.
In addition to her writing and publishing accomplishments, Blue co-founded PDX by Bike, a business that helps people find their way around Portland by bicycle, and a nonprofit business alliance called the Portland Society.
Her first book, Everyday Bicycling, came out in December, 2012. Her next full-length book, Bikenomics: How Bicycling Will Save the Economy, comes out in February 2013.
Follow Elly Blue on Twitter @ellyblue
1) What inspired you to start producing feminist zines largely focused on bicycling?
I made the first one in 2010 when I was at a crossroads. I’d left my job editing a blog and was trying to figure out what to do next. My partner (and now publisher!), Joe, was planning to go on a month-long tour to show movies and sell books. I was at odds and ends I figured I might as well go too. I wanted to have something to sell, gift, and trade, so I wrote a long form essay venting my increasing frustration with sexism I’d experienced in the bike movement. Someone told me about Kickstarter and it all fell into place. I made zines as a teenager in the 90s, and it felt good to revisit that format in a more polished form at the same time as rediscovering my feminist ideals from that age.