The amazing pro-choice comedy Obvious Child hit select theaters across the country and will open nationwide on June 27.
Seriously, go see this movie. I was lucky to see it in an advanced screening and was blown away. It was hilarious, heartwarming, and, most importantly, it was honest in its portrayal of abortion care.
So, why am I personally thrilled to see a movie tackle a woman's unintended pregnancy and decision to have an abortion with respect and humor?
There are plenty of movies, like Juno and Knocked Up, that share stories of women who face an unintended pregnancy. In these films, the option to choose abortion is either glossed over or talked about as something dirty or a decision to be ashamed of. When we watch story lines that depict abortion negatively, they feed into a culture that teaches women that it's not okay to talk about abortion and that having an abortion makes you a bad person.
Obvious Child is unlike any film I've seen before about young people like me and our real-life experiences. To see a main character choose abortion and be happy and content with her decision to do so is pretty awesome. When I watched Obvious Child I could immediately relate and laugh about some of the real conversations about relationships, sex, and our bodies that I've had with my friends, and I loved the courage Jenny Slate's character showed when she made the best decision that was best for her. It was refreshing to finally see a complex female character deal with issues that are rarely shown on screen. I could also relate to the fear of sharing something so personal and being pleasantly surprised by the outpouring of support from friends and family when you didn't know if they'd have your back.
The movie also debunks some of the most common myths about abortion and the women who have them.
It's kind of amazing when you think about how unique Obvious Child is - because it shouldn't be unique at all. One in three women has an abortion in her lifetime and research shows that the majority of those women - 95 percent - feel relieved and like they made the right decision afterwards. Shouldn't the majority of stories about abortion and unplanned pregnancy in pop culture reflect this breakdown? It's troubling and hugely problematic that we're afraid or made to feel ashamed to talk about our real experiences because Hollywood isn't getting this issue right.
But based on the numbers, maybe Obvious Child can convince filmmakers to treat these topics in a more honest way. So far, Obvious Child has the best per-screen ticket sales of the summer independent releases. These numbers show that there's no monetary excuse not to change the way stories about abortion are told in movies. People will show up to watch movies about real women and their experiences.
It's important that we help build momentum for Obvious Child. That's why we teamed up with Cosmopolitan to host a screening of it that featured a panel discussion moderated by our president Ilyse Hogue. Director Gillian Robespierre, lead actress Jenny Slate, producer Elisabeth Holm and editor of Cosmopolitan Amy Odell joined her to talk about why honest stories of abortion and women's lives are essential to breaking down stigma and uniting women in their shared experiences.
Hopefully, Obvious Child will make filmmakers and members of the media think twice before they pedal more negative stereotypes about abortion. And maybe we'll even start to see more plot lines that accurately portray a woman's decision to choose abortion with honesty and empathy.
Check out the trailer below for Obvious Child and see it in theaters starting today!
Lydia Paver is an intern in the political department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.
In the coming days, Gov. Bobby Jindal is preparing to strike several blows to reproductive freedom in Louisiana. Three bills that will compromise the health, safety and rights of women are before him awaiting signature. Since assuming office in 2008, Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed 13 pieces of legislation curtailing women's reproductive freedoms, making Louisiana the most anti-choice state in the United States.
HB 388, or "The Unsafe Abortion Protection Act," is modeled on a 2013 Texas law, which resulted in the closure of a third of the state's abortion clinics. Sources on the ground say the Jindal-backed bill is "likely to shutter most clinics," forcing women in southern Louisiana to drive up to 400 miles each way to obtain an abortion.
The bill requires physicians who provide abortion services to have active admitting privileges at a hospital that provides obstetrical-gynecological services within 30 miles of their clinic. But of course, nothing in the bill requires hospitals to grant admitting privileges to doctors - and many anti-choice hospitals routinely deny - or simply ignore - the requests. Currently, only two of Louisiana's five abortion clinics meet such harsh regulations, meaning that the remaining three face immediate closure. While supporters of such anti-choice measures claim that further regulation works to protect women, it is clear that that these anti-choice laws are strategic attempts to reduce women's access to reproductive services by creating unnecessary requirements that few abortion clinics can actually meet. In fact, abortions are already a very safe procedure, with clinics under regulation by both federal and state laws, as any other health care facility.
Last week Jindal took to his Twitter page to publicly express his enthusiasm to complete the passage of the bill:
But, this isn't the only extremist anti-choice measure that Jindal is seems overjoyed to force upon the women of Louisiana...
This second bill, HB 305, would prevent staff and volunteers of, or organizations affiliated with, abortion providers from distributing materials on any health topic in all public and charter schools that receive state funding. This means that organizations with the most expertise on women's health, such as Planned Parenthood, would be prohibited from guiding necessary discussions on "human sexuality or family planning" throughout the state. Louisiana teens - like many young people across the country - are in desperate need of basic, unbiased, comprehensive sex education; this bill would make a bad situation even worse.
Louisiana's legislature hasn't stopped there. A third bill that would force anti-choice propaganda on every woman seeking abortion in the state, HB 1261, is now also before Governor Jindal. The bill would require that a woman seeking abortion care be isolated in a private room where she must read counseling materials created by a governor's task force, including a pamphlet about the "alleged psychological effects of abortion."
About that task force: it's looking like Gov. Jindal is packing it with anti-choice state politicians and advocates, including two counselors from crisis pregnancy centers, which are fake clinics that are known for lying to women. If that wasn't sketchy enough, according to the Times-Picayune, "no abortion providers or mental health professionals that recommend abortions would be allowed on the panel." What are the chances that this task force is going to produce unbiased, fact-based information? Probably zero.
These measures in Louisiana mirror laws enacted throughout several Southern states in recent legislative sessions. Together, these measures have nearly created a no-access zone that limits women's access to abortion and reproductive health facilities under the cover of heightening safety and protecting women's health. Since they have been unsuccessful banning abortion outright, anti-choice groups have turned to these tactics to virtually ban abortion by making it almost completely unavailable in regions of the country. What region will they focus on next?
It's hard to believe: anti-choice, anti-civil rights, anti-LGBT judicial nominee, Michael Boggs, could get a vote in committee at any time for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.
When you think about what makes a good judge, a few qualities probably come to mind: fair, unbiased, and committed to protecting the rights of all Americans. That's why judicial nominee Michael Boggs is the wrong man for the job. In honor of the much-buzzed about upcoming film, check out 10 reasons why we must #StopBoggs as told by Star Wars:
For 1) Michael Boggs voted to endanger abortion providers by putting detailed information about them on the Internet, including how often they provided abortion services.
2) Boggs said that when he took this vote, he had no idea that this measure could've put the health and lives of women and abortion providers at risk. That's pretty hard to believe. Just before he voted, lawmakers had a heated discussion about this very topic.
3) Boggs cosponsored a bill to create "Choose Life" license plates to funnel state funds - aka taxpayer dollars - to "crisis pregnancy centers" that lie to and shame women out of choosing abortion.
4) Boggs also pushed to make parental consent laws more extreme.
Not only does Boggs have a clear record of undermining and restricting a woman's right to choose, he also voted to suppress LGBT rights:
5) Michael Boggs voted for a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in his home state of Georgia.
6) He called his vote against LGBT rights a matter of "common sense."
7) Even the Boy Scouts weren't safe from Boggs' prejudice - he pledged to oppose Boy Scout leaders who also happen to be gay.
But Boggs isn't just politically opposed to women's reproductive freedom and equality for LGBT people.
8) Boggs voted to keep the confederate symbol, a symbol of racial oppression, on Georgia's state flag.
This guy is bad news all around. Boggs' disturbing record regarding civil rights and reproductive freedom isn't the end of it. You should also take this serious allegation into account:
9) Boggs potentially violated Georgia's ethics rules while he was a judge by contributing to a political organization.
10) Michael Boggs said that we should look to his legislative record to see what kind of judge he'd be - and we're doing just that!
Does Michael Boggs sound like a person who deserves a lifetime appointment to the federal bench? Nope, we don't think so either.
Help us #StopBoggs from reaching the federal bench by sharing our graphic on Facebook.
Benita Ulisano is a co-chair of the Illinois Choice Action Team, a committed group of volunteers advancing NARAL Pro-Choice America's mission, based in Chicago.
Did you hear about NARAL Pro-Choice America's recent victories with Yahoo and Google? Both search engines agreed to enforce their truth in advertising policies and removed a slew of deceptive ads from crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) that come up if you search for "abortion clinic" - even though CPCs don't provide abortion care and actively dissuade women from choosing abortion.
I'm particularly thrilled about this change because I know firsthand how dangerous CPCs are.
One of the CPCs we caught lying in a Yahoo ad is actually right around the corner from the women's health clinic here in Chicago where I run an escort program. Check out the ad - you'd never know this is for a CPC!
(Last time we checked, the CPC website referenced in this ad is down, too.)
One of CPCs' common tactics is to purposely situate themselves near real reproductive-health clinics to confuse women. This CPC is no different.
For women who figure out where the real clinic is, anti-choice activists aggressively try to prevent women from going to their appointments. They stalk around outside the clinic, hold offensive signs, and harass women as they head in for an appointment, even if it's for a birth control prescription. The staff at the reproductive-health clinic has asked me to increase the days we're organizing escorts from one day a week to four. It's that bad.
I've seen anti-choice activists approach women in their cars to intimidate and shame them. CPC activists will yell at anyone of reproductive age who just happens to walk by! The harassment is so unbelievable that some of my current clinic escorts told me they decided to volunteer because they live in the neighborhood and are sick of being harassed for walking down the street.
This is what's happening outside the clinic. What's happening inside the CPC is even more disturbing.
One woman told us that she was tricked into going to this CPC instead of the reproductive-health clinic by finding the CPC online. Mid-way during the appointment, when she realized she wasn't at the real clinic and tried to leave, CPC staff physically restrained her. We've also heard reports that inside the CPC there are photos of our pro-choice escorts posted on the wall. We provide a lot of training to our escorts so they know how to handle this kind of pressure, but of course it's intimidating to know that you've been targeted so personally.
Women who are looking for an abortion provider shouldn't have to endure the harassment and intimidation that I've witnessed firsthand - and a lot of that starts with what's happening on Internet search engines. Women deserve the truth when trying to find abortion providers or other reproductive-health services. Every day I hear about women who have to encounter anti-choice protesters from the CPC, and you wouldn't believe the lies they've been told.
I'm happy that Yahoo is reporting that it's going to do the right thing. We'll review the deceptive ads we found to verify Yahoo's claims, and we'll hold them accountable if our results don't match what they're telling the press. Enforcing their policies and taking down ads that deceive women will go a long way toward protecting women from deception.
Our Choice Out Loud - On Campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to become a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. Here's the latest post in this series.
Meet Payne McMillan:
What was your major?
I am an English major at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
Why is choice important to you?
Choice is important to me because I believe that pregnancy is personal. It's nobody's business what a woman chooses to do once she is pregnant, but there needs to be structures that support her, regardless of what her decisions are. The ability to be in control of your own reproductive health is a fundamental right, as is all health care.
How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement?
I got involved in the pro-choice movement when I signed up for Students for Reproductive Health and Choice at the St. Olaf College co-curricular fair. Going to the meetings gave me insight into how important the protection of choice is and how opponents have been chipping away at reproductive rights, especially recently. It's important that men are allies and advocates; these issues don't just affect women, but they affect families and the well-being of all people. Now I will be an informed voter that makes sure to elect legislators that protect reproductive rights.
What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative?
We hosted a Faith and Choice event, where we brought in Rev. Kelli Clement from the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as a speaker. She addressed how interconnected choice is with other areas of social justice. Her perspective showed that religion and abortion rights don't need to be pitted against each other, which is something most people don't realize.
What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
I've learned how to talk about these issues in an informed and respectful manner. I feel that I am well informed and can stand my ground in defending reproductive rights and educating people on the issue.
What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
I went to pro-choice lobby day in the spring of 2013 at the Minnesota Capitol. I also worked with them this fall in putting pressure on the "crisis pregnancy center" (CPC) in the town I live, Northfield.
Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
Through the campus representative program, they already had a presence at St. Olaf, which made it easy to get involved. I like NARAL because it is a powerful, established organization that works efficiently and effectively in not only protecting but expanding reproductive rights.
The millennial generation (born between 1981 and 1999) is both the largest generation and the most pro-choice generation in American history. By 2020, 40% of eligible voters will be from the millennial generation. NARAL Pro-Choice America is committed to working with and learning from pro-choice millennials in order to organize in favor of reproductive freedom in a way that resonates with this important generation.
NARAL Pro-Choice America founded the Choice Out Loud - On Campus program in the Fall of 2012 as part of our strategy to engage this key generation in the fight to protect and expand reproductive rights.
Our campus representatives have done amazing work to engage the community around the issue of reproductive rights. We asked our graduating class of activists from this academic year to tell us why they decided to because a campus representative, what they accomplished, and what they've learned. This post is the first in a series.
Meet Hailey Magee, a campus representative at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
1. What was your major?
I am a Women's and Gender Studies and Politics double major, with a minor in Social Justice and Social Policy.
2. Why is choice important to you?
Choice is important to me because I believe bodily autonomy is the most basic form of human freedom. The idea that any person or society could legally inhibit me from exercising my right over my own body is horrifying to me.
3. How did you get involved in the pro-choice movement? Do you intend to stay involved after you graduate?
I got involved in the pro-choice movement as a natural extension of my feminist activism. Before college I hadn't understood the gravity or salience of the reproductive rights debate. When I became president of my campus Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, I began to explore the diverse avenues through which I could create a more just society. My sophomore year, I lobbied a bill for comprehensive sex education (An Act Relative to Healthy Youth) in the Massachusetts State House, and from then on, I was hooked on reproductive justice. I spent the following summer interning for NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and have been interning for NARAL in some capacity ever since. I will spend my summer as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Intern and Campaigns Coordinator, and would love to work for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts - or a different state affiliate - upon graduating college. This work is my lifeblood; I have never been more passionate about a cause.
4. What was your favorite event that you planned as a Campus Representative?
My favorite event that I assisted in planning was our Roe at Risk Mixer. Brandeis University Students for NARAL co-sponsored the screening with the Brandeis Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance (a student organization) and the Women's Studies Research Center (an organization of predominantly elderly feminist resident scholars at Brandeis). The screening, followed by small group discussions that addressed the inter-generational differences in reproductive justice advocacy, brought many diverse and engaging perspectives to the table.
5. What is/are the greatest skill or skills that you've learned from being a Campus Representative?
As a Campus and Community Organizer, I have learned how to build a network of faculty and staff allies that can help me achieve my campaign goals as a student. I have learned how to identify, contact, and build relationships with point people on my campus - administrators and staff I particular - that can use their networks, resources, and clout to help me to foster the pro-choice atmosphere the Brandeis University students demand.
6. What is your earliest memory of interacting with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
My first official contact with NARAL Pro-Choice America occurred through a Campus Organizer conference call in October. Led by Travis Ballie, the call was engaging, inspiring, and allowed the organizers to share their progress in establish their campus coalitions with one another. Travis was an excellent facilitator, and when I came to study "abroad" in Washington, D.C. this semester, he went out of his way to let me know about NARAL events and volunteer opportunities.
7. Out of all the different ways to engage with this issue, why did you choose to engage with NARAL Pro-Choice America?
Though many organizations fight for reproductive justice in some capacity, NARAL has been my favorite by far - and that's completely due to the characters that compose NARAL's staff. NARAL employees are witty, animated, intimidatingly intelligent, and passionate. In my experiences at NARAL Pro-Choice New York, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and now NARAL Pro-Choice America, I have consistently been floored by the warmth and acceptance with which I've been treated. The enthusiasm of NARAL staff is contagious; it is that energy and passion that attracts me to the organization.
8. What are your future plans?
I will spend my summer as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts' Intern and Campaigns Coordinator. I plan on continuing to intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts throughout my senior year at Brandeis, and upon graduating, hope to continue working in a reproductive justice organization. When I become more familiar with the issues and the ins-and-outs of policy, I would like to become a lobbyist or policy director. In the distant future (or maybe not so distant!) I plan to run for state legislature and fight for social justice directly as an elected official.
There's something happening in Kansas that's not making national headlines but should be. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is doubling down on his anti-choice agenda. It's extreme. And he's showing no sign of stopping.
Anti-choice Gov. Brownback already signed a bill that manipulates Kansas' tax code to limit abortion care, and now he's poised to sign two more bills that would severely restrict women's access to affordable health care in the Sunflower State.
One bill - the state budget bill - includes a provision that would effectively defund reproductive-health clinics, which many women and families rely on for a full range of reproductive-health services. For many low-income families, these clinics are their only means of accessing basic health care. The second bill would extend unnecessary tax penalties on reproductive-health clinics for making renovations or even holding fundraising events!
Don't be fooled, these bills and tax penalties are really just a way for extreme anti-choice politicians to further restrict access to reproductive-health care and force their personal beliefs on all Kansas families.
Gov. Brownback has never been shy about his extreme anti-choice record: "If a pro-life bill [comes] to my desk, I will sign it. I am not backing away from that."
If he signs these bills, Gov. Brownback will pile onto his already long anti-choice resume. Just last year, Gov. Brownback signed an extreme anti-choice bill into law to effectively ban abortion in almost all cases and could outlaw many common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in-vitro fertilization.
In 2012, Gov. Brownback signed a bill that allows doctors to withhold medical information if they think it will lead a woman to choose abortion or refuse treatment like chemotherapy for cancer patients if they think it would end a pregnancy. Even worse the same bill requires that doctors lie to women.
If these attacks to deny women control over the bodies and futures weren't bad enough, Gov. Brownback has spent roughly $1 million in taxpayer dollars to defend these unconstitutional laws in the courts.
Gov. Brownback has two more chances to stand up for women's freedom and privacy. It's time that he put his anti-choice, anti-woman agenda aside and prove that he's not going to punish working families and Kansan women just to score political points.
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month, and we'd like to pay tribute to survivors of sexual assault by recognizing progress that's being made in the movement to make sexual assault a thing of the past.
Sexual assault is still a serious problem that must be addressed. While we still have a long way to go in terms of developing substantive solutions to preventing these crimes and tackling the negative stigma associated with sexual assault, elected officials across the country are taking steps forward to provide appropriate protections and care for survivors.
Here are four ways elected officials across the country are working to bring justice to sexual assault survivors:
1. In California, Asm. Mike Gatto is collaborating with a sexual assault survivor to make sure colleges and universities report sexual assault to police.
Sponsor: California Asm. Mike Gatto
Asm. Mike Gatto was horrified to learn that colleges were sweeping sexual assaults under the rug, so he contacted a student who, with several of her peers, had filed a federal complaint against UC Berkeley for not taking their assaults seriously. He's written legislation to require campus officials to report all sexual violence to the police unless survivors don't want their assault to be reported or wish to remain anonymous
. This bill passed unanimously
through Assembly Public Safety Committee and will head to Assembly floor for a vote
2. California is moving a bill to make sure police process rape kits more quickly.
Sponsor: California Asm. Nancy Skinner
Right now in California, there's no law that puts a deadline on how quickly rape kits must be processed. No wonder only 21-percent of sexual assaults resulted in arrest in 2012. If this bill passes, it could help bring justice for countless survivors of sexual assault.
3. In Tennessee, the state House and Senate unanimously passed legislation that eliminates the current three-year statute of limitations for survivors of rape.
Sponsors: Tennessee Sen. Mark Norris and Rep. Joe Towns
This new legislation would help survivors of rape to bring their attackers to justice
regardless of how much time has passed after the vicious attack. Some victims of rape may need time to cope with their assaults and now will no longer be burdened by the three-year statute. With the statute removed, victims can work with the state to prosecute when they are ready to come forward.
4. Maryland is moving legislation to bring justice to rape survivors.
Sponsor: Del. Ariana Kelly
Right now, only one hospital in every Maryland county provides the type of exam that can be used to prosecute the attacker
. If a rape survivors show up at the wrong emergency room
, the survivors could be told to drive to another hospital! This common sense bill requires that every hospital establish procedures to treat survivors of sexual assault and was passed unanimously by both Maryland houses.
We still have a long way to go, but every step and every piece of legislation to curb sexual assault and give justice to survivors is a step to making the world a safer place for us all.
Thank you for joining us in recognizing National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a new report out on teen pregnancy, and called out how ineffective "abstinence-only" programs really are:
"Only four out of 10 [teenagers] said they had been given information both on how to say no to sex and about birth control. And 83 percent of the boys and girls who had sex said they had not received any sex education before their first time."
Woah. That's just scary. No wonder the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed nation.
This is what the anti-choice movement is all about: keeping people from getting the facts and from making the health-care decisions that are right for them. That means a lot of teens aren't learning what they need to know to stay healthy.
Take a look at four ways the anti-choice movement's agenda is playing out across the country:
- "Abstinence-only" programs: Not only has the anti-choice movement made it their agenda to withhold information from young people across the country, "abstinence-only" programs actually promote misinformation and use shaming tactics to block teens from accessing birth control or their full range of reproductive options. Only 28 states require sex education that teaches about birth control.
In one Mississippi classroom, students of an "abstinence-only" program were made to pass around an unwrapped piece of chocolate to show that sexual activity is dirty and shameful. A school district in Texas compared sexually active teens to "chewed up gum" that should be thrown away. Another program taught students that if they have sex they're like a "rose without petals." Education is supposed to encourage and inspire students, not shame them and make them feel worthless. The problem is these programs just don't work. Teens will still have sex, but they have no idea of the risks or consequences.
- Anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs): The anti-choice movement's agenda of denying information and using shame isn't only happening in schools. Our opponents have created "crisis pregnancy centers" to stop women from choosing abortion. These fake clinics are meant to look like abortion providers to lure women facing an unintended pregnancy through their doors, but then they tell women lies like "abortion causes breast cancer," "Condoms are porous," and "abortions will ruin your chance of having children in the future."
- Attacks on contraceptive coverage: For the anti-choice movement, withholding information isn't extreme enough. They are also working to let bosses who oppose birth control refuse to cover it for their employees and two of their cases have gone all the way to the Supreme Court. One in three women struggles to afford birth control, so if these bosses win it's going to mean that a lot of women could lose access altogether.
- Laws that close abortion clinics: Anti-choice politicians in states like Texas close reproductive-health clinics, including ones that provide abortion. We're seeing this happen in Ohio where new restrictions are forcing clinics out of business because they cannot comply quickly enough with unnecessary transfer agreements with local hospitals. These Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have one goal: shut down clinics where women can get safe and legal abortion care. And, sadly, in states that are dominated by anti-choice politicians, these laws are doing just that.
Justin Cohen is a staff member of the Communications department at NARAL Pro-Choice America.
As snow began to fall earlier today, we joined more than 40 women's health groups and progressive allies, along with hundreds of activists for our "Not My Boss's Business" rally outside the Supreme Court.
The court began to hear oral arguments for two cases brought by for-profit companies who want to give bosses the right to deny their employees birth control coverage just because they oppose it. The Affordable Care Act's birth-control coverage benefit is one of the biggest reproductive-health wins in a generation, but that makes it a target for anti-choice forces.
The frigid weather wasn't going to stop us from having our message heard - personal health decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor. It is not any boss's business!
Now it's up to the Supreme Court to rule in favor of women's reproductive health-care access. Make sure to you follow our hashtag #NotMyBossBusiness
to stay up to speed with our campaign!
| || |