Friday, March 21, 2014

Spreading Awareness About Down Syndrome

Rachael's Note: March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day (named for Trisomy 21, the condition which causes Down Syndrome). The diagnosis of Down syndrome often strikes fear and dread in an expectant mother's and father's heart. The Down syndrome diagnosis often brings forth images of mentally handicapped individuals unable to take care for themselves and partake in life in any real way, and the need to care for their child for the rest of their life. Also, many people still view Down Syndrome as "terminal illness" like cancer or heart disease, and the individuals with this condition "defective" or "broken." These and other misconceptions about Down syndrome are often based on worse-case scenarios, misperceptions, sterotypes, and ignorance, and further perpetuate these fears. I have been working in direct care for 7 years and have met and worked with individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities. Today, I will be sharing information, based on my own knowledge/experience as well as from professional/parent resources, to debunk many of the misperceptions and stereotypes about Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome it is a developmental disability. Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. While there is no cure for Down syndrome, there are many treatments available for the problems associated with Down syndrome. Approximately 40% of the children have congenital heart defects. Some of the heart conditions require surgery immediately after birth/in early childhood, while others only require careful monitoring. Children with Down syndrome have a higher incidence of infection, respiratory, vision and hearing problems as well as thyroid and other medical conditions. However, with appropriate medical care most children and adults with Down syndrome can lead healthy lives. The average life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome is 55 years, with many living into their sixties and seventies. Unfortunately, for individuals with Down Syndrome, there is a higher chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer's, however this doesn't mean every individual will develop it.

Also, most people with Down syndrome have only mild to moderate mental retardation. More important than IQ scores is the fact that all individuals with Down syndrome are capable of learning. Most children with Down syndrome in the United States are “mainstreamed” into regular schools. They attend regular classes for some subjects and attend special classes for other subjects and continue to earn a certificate of completion or graduate from high school. A large percentage of adults with Down syndrome live semi-independently in supported living homes and assisted living facilities. Adults with Down syndrome often hold jobs and have romantic relationships. Some high school graduates with Down syndrome participate in post-secondary education. Many adults with Down syndrome are capable of working in the community, but some require a more structured environment, such as a supervised workshop.

It's important to remember that individuals with Down Syndrome are people too. They enjoy various hobbies and activities and have individual likes and dislikes like you and I. Also, people with Down syndrome experience a full range of emotions such as sadness, anger and happiness & they respond to positive expressions of friendship and they are hurt and upset by inconsiderate behavior, just like everyone else.

Disability rights organizations, care providers, and individuals and their families are seeking to educate the public and bring about awareness about Down Syndrome so that better treatments can be found, to lend to more education and understanding of the condition, and bring about awareness.

For more information on Down Syndrome and to listen to families and individuals with Down Syndrome share their insight and experiences, please visit:

Room for More: World Down Syndrome Day

Offers scientific research, information, education, and suuport to parents and families of children with Down Syndrome as well as awareness and education for the medical professionals and the general public. Written by parents of a child with Down Syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society Offers advocacy, outreach, education, and support and resources for families, parents, and medical professionals. Helpline: 1-800-221-4602

Support Organization for Families of Trisomy, a nonprofit volunteer organization offering support for parents who have had or are expecting a child with a chromosome disorder and education to families and professionals interested in the care of these children.

Recommended Down Syndrome Sites on the Internet
Compiled by Len Leshin, M.D.

Hidden Treasures: The Trisomy 21 Journey
Parents from all around the world share their stories.

Video: Dreams
Dreams features children and adults who have Down syndrome talking about their dreams and what they're proud of in their lives. This fun and inspirational video made by Scott and Julia Elliott celebrates the work of the National Down Syndrome Society and the larger Down syndrome community.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Letter to Abortion Providers

Today, March 10th is National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. Here are my thoughts in a letter to abortion providers (doctors, nurses, & clinic staff).

Dear abortion providers,
Although you ment well & were trying to help, there are many women who've been hurt by their abortion(s) in addition to those who've benefited.
As you may know, an abortion is often a short-term fix to long-term problem(s) such as poverty, homelessness, & limited education. Please re-consider your work & let's work together to find other ways to better address these issues & work together to strengthen & empower women. 
A pro-life feminist

Posted via Blogaway

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Taboo...Talking About Emotional Abuse

Domestic Violence Awareness Month
This is an issue which hits close to home for me and I'd like to share about my experience in a volatile and abusive relationship and the challenges I faced...but please understand this is difficult for me to talk about, although it can be cathartic and healing.

Verbal and emotional abuse is often occurs behind closed doors and leaves no visible scars (although the negative emotional and mental impact can be devastating).

I was married in volatile relationship for four years and we were together for a total of almost 12 years. Somewhere along the way things began to change. Love and affection became indifference & resentment. The first few years were great, we were so in love. We went on dates to the movies, for frozen yogurt, dinners at each other's houses. We wrote love poems & cards to each other & slow danced to our favorite songs. Then something began to change.

Looking back, now I see the red flags: Once in college, I was playfully tapping him to get his attention (looking back, immature, I know) & instead of asking me to stop when he was annoyed, he ignored me & let his irritation build up until he finally turned & slapped me across the face. I was so humiliated because we were in public & yet looking back I feel like I deserved it. Another time, we were having a disagreement over something on the way to church & he proceeded to then ignore me & walk ahead when I wanted to talk it out. I got frustrated by his ignoring me & his "whatever" attitude, & I'm ashamed to admit this, I hit him across the back with my Bible case. The abuse had began and our relationship began to decline.

I can remember the first time serious verbal abuse occured in our relationship. We had been married for just 3 months. I was laying on the couch, in a major depressive episode and almost in a catatonic state.  I had been unhappy since our honeymoon, it was hardly what I imagined marriage to be, he didn't always show respect towards me and communication between us was tense. He came home from working late and I was vaguely aware of his presence, paralyzed by severe depression. When I didn't respond to his greeting or his attempts to get my attention, in frustration he demanded to know what was wrong and when I didn't answer, he got in my face and yelled "What's your f****** problem, b****?" in a demanding tone. This shocked me out of my stupor. I was blindsided, shocked, and deeply hurt and began to cry. I didn't even know how to react. The first words uttered out of my mouth were "I want a divorce" and I think equally shocked, he replied "No, no, no" and at that I point bawling, I told him I was depressed. This wasn't the way it was suppose to be, was it, with your spouse yelling hurtful things, when you needed him to be supportive? At that point, he took me into his arms and comforted me & apologized. He was the source of my pain and my comfort. After that, no other major incidents occurred for a while but I had a sense things weren't right. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, but I found myself beginning to try to fix him & our relationship. (More coming as I feel up to writing)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Craft Project!

My dad and I recently completed a Father-Daughter project we had been working on in the evenings. He taught me basic carpentry skills while we turned an ordinary cat scratching post into a cat tree house (recycling extra scrap carpet, wood, & rope we had lying around). It was a ten hour project and every bit worth it, they love it!

Light Blogging/Tweeting This Week

Just to let my readers know, I'll be doing little blogging/tweeting this week, as I'm working 30 plus hours, preparing for my younger sister's upcoming wedding (which I'm a bridesmaid in), and visiting with family from out of state and country...I'm staying busy!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July/Endor Day!

Happy 4th of July/Endor Day!

Today we celebrate freedom and liberty and remember
 those who lost their lives so we may live free

Monday, July 1, 2013

Slowly Returning from Hiatus

Hello to my dedicated readers and welcome to my new visitors. As you may know, I've been on a hiatus over the last couple of years due to personal circumstances. I'm happy to report that my haitus is over and I will be slowly returning to regular blogging as work and time allows. You may have noticed I recently made some changes in the appearance and lay out of my blog as I try to make it more streamline and easier to read and I will continue to make improvements as needed. Thank you and carry on.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Is This Really Being Pro-Choice & Supportive of Women? (Or Rather How Not To Hold a Protest)

Yesterday while surfing Twitter, I came across the following pro-choice blog, AbortionChat where they are discussing protests of CPCs (or Crisis Pregnancy Centers) and I'd like to discuss a few thoughts on this...
Two weeks ago, a group of people stood outside a Crisis Pregnancy Center holding signs that said, "Come Talk to Me!" "Your Body, Your Choice!" "We Support You" and "Honk if You Love Choice!  
Here are their reflections:  
What was your objective today? Do you feel like you accomplished it?  
Damien: I was there to support women's rights and my girlfriend, so yes. I think I accomplished those goals.
Jennifer: My objective was to express my feelings about being ProChoice, and I feel like I did accomplish that.  
Echo: My objective was to talk to people and give out more information about how crisis centers like the one we were at are giving out false information and lying by omniscient [sic-omission]. I feel like we accomplished a lot, we talked to a couple people and got 100+ honks!  
Nicholas: See a protest, not really
Put into context, I think it's pretty clear the "choice" they're talking about is abortion rights. Crisis pregnancy centers offer options counseling which discourages clients from choosing abortion (nor do they provide nor give referrals for abortions), but they do focus on having a healthy pregnancy and parenting/adoption and offer practical and emotional support for pregnant and parenting women; however there are those who strongly feel CPCs should be more "pro-choice" and include politically correct information on abortion and abortion referrals and there are many who feel CPCs shoud be shut down. However, this is where I feel pro-choicers are missing the point of being "pro-choice" when they're so wrapped up in advocating abortion rights, they're either criticizing or ignoring the need for (emotional and practical) support for pregnant and parenting women in poverty.
While I usually think it's cool for a guy to support his girlfriend in her beliefs, I don't in this endeaver, as I believe his presence is for the wrong reasons. While feminists are largely changing their views on whether or not the women's partner should have imput on pregnancy decisions for the most part men are still largely excluded and shunned by mainstream feminism. With that said, one could view this guy as standing up for men to not be able to give imput into the decision, when they're affected to a degree as well. However on the flip side, there are also many men who favor abortion rights for the sole reason avoid the responsibility of pregnancy/parenting.
 Was the protest what you expected?  
Damien: ::Shrug:: Yes, except we didn't get that many people to stop talk and talk  
Jennifer: The protest was what I thought, except with less people  
Echo: Not at all. I thought there were going to be other people there, but I'm glad it was just us. It was a very chill first experience, which was nice.  
Nicholas: No there was no one else
Hmm, so not a lot of pro-choicers turned out to protest, must not be a big priority on their activism list.
When people came up to talk, what was your reaction?  
Damien: No one came up to talk to me, I'm not going to lie. When they came up to Nick, I wanted to know what they wanted to find out. I'd go over and listen to everyone else's opinion. I also wanted to make sure that the people approaching us weren't going to start a confrontation.  
Jennifer: I was surprised that they were all males.  
Echo: Nobody directly came to talk to me, which is probably a good thing, but I was glad that people stopped to talk about what we were protesting for.  
Nicholas: Hello.  
Somehow I'm not surprised there were a lot of males, as there seem to be two reasons men support abortion rights 1)To blindly support their partner, in whatever it is she wants or needs and the more common reason I've pointed out above 2) There are many men who support abortion rights for the sake of avoiding responsibility for the pregnancy/situation they've created.
What was your favorite part about the protest?  
Damien: Supporting my girlfriend. And all the honks!  
Jennifer: Hula hooping! And getting beeps!  
Echo: My favorite part was hula hooping, and the woman coming out to talk to us.  
Nicholas: Hula hooping  
Wow, hula-hooping and honks, doesn't sound like a very productive protest (lack of meaningful dialouge), maybe more for attention-seeking than anything. This compares more to the stereotypical protests expected of pro-lifers with gory abortion photos, yelling, and flashy display; this contrasts to the truely meaningful sidewalk counseling done by pro-lifers at abortion clinics by groups such as Gabriel Project, where there aren't gory photos being displayed, nor yelling of condemnation, rather they seek to have meaningful dialouge and help women connect with resources in their community to help meet their socio-ecomic needs through pregnancy and beyond.
What was your least favorite part?  
Damien: People flipping us off.  
Jennifer: Standing, and the wind.  
Echo: My least favorite thing was the people driving by and saying rude stuff to us. 
Nicholas: I forgot deodorant  
Do you realize others face this everyday in standing up for their political and religious convictions in other countries and even here in the U.S. for having differing beliefs.
Do you think you'll protest again? 
Damien: Mmm hmm. (Yes)  
Jennifer: Yes!  
Echo: I totally want to protest again! Bringing the hula hoops every time!  
Nicholas: Depends on the topic  
Did anything that happened make you think differently about being ProChoice?  
Damien: No. 
Jennifer: No. 
Echo: Nothing made me think differently about it. I was surprised at how many people honked for us! The ProChoice side isn't really publicized very much, so I didn't realize how many people were actually on our side.  
Nicholas: No my natural choice is valid and accepted currently  
Contrary to what Echo believes, the mainstream media is largely either pro-choice or neutral on the issue and the pro-choice view is often published in both editorials and articles on the anniversary of Roe v Wade and when a significant pro-choice protest occurs or anti-abortion extremist act of violence.
How do you think you can improve the next protest?  
Damien: Try to get more people, both to protest and to approach us. I'd also like to give more of my opinion.  
Jennifer: Better signs, and wind holes so it doesn't feel like the signs are going to get ripped out of our hands.  
Echo: I think making more signs would probably be a good idea, but overall I think we did awesome!  
Nicholas: BBQ  
Maybe having a table with literature and posters supporting your view with factual information and figures from non-biased sources and presenting actual opportunities for dialouge would be a good start if you actually wanted to get serious.
What did you learn from today's protest?  
Damien: Not everyone supports our beliefs. I mean, I already knew it, but people flipping us off, shaking their heads no for holding a sign saying, "Your Body, Your Choice," it's kind of messed up.  
Jennifer: I learned that people actually care. And that you should make wind holes in your signs so they don't try to bubble up.  
Echo: I learned that people are a lot more open minded than I thought.  
Nicholas: Do what thou wilt
No, it's not "messed up," part of the beauty of living in this country is people are allowed free speech and access to wide variety of information, leading to people to think for themselves, and they have the right to have their own view point, even if you don't agree with them.
Do you think the protest made anyone think differently? Did you help make change today?  
Damien: I don't know, maybe not think differently but shed some light on people supporting women's rights.  
Maybe it brightened the women's days who drove by us. Jennifer: YES! I feel like we helped make change today.  
Echo: There was one guy and his daughter that Lynne talked to for awhile. I hope she (Lynne) opened his mind to different options. I helped Jen hula hoop, so that was my contribution!  
Nicholas: Yes i made a pretty funny video on the way, and got some great giggles out of it. Highlight of my trip.
Again, doesn't sound like a very productive or meaningful protest, just a sidewalk show. I'll close with this thought: It's easy to be an activist and spout political rhetoric, hold signs, and hola-hoop, but the real challenge is in doing the legwork to support these women in navigating their options and the socio-economic challenges they face.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Ignorance and Stigma is Still Well and Alive, Part Duex

Fellow Blogger, MoronicProchoice Quotes brings to our attention this little gem from a pro-choicer on Twitter...

Crystal @Crystal_Smith44: "Grandstand much @RepHartzler ? Forcing women to bear children< monsters> w/ genetic defects is barbaric, shame on you. #Fem2"

Ugh, this is not the first time (nor will it be the last) I've heard such an ignorant & bigoted thing said about the developmentally disabled & it really angered me. I replied...

Butterfly Angel @bttrfly_angel: "@Crystal_Smith44 I've worked w/ moderate to profoundly disabled individuals for years & the only I've seen are not the disabled individuals I work with, but ignorant & prejudiced people like you"

Not but within an hour after I responded, she blocked me and the tweet was removed within a couple of days as well. Not surprised, some prejudiced people don't like to be called out on their bigotry, but I disgress. Her insult towards the developmentally disabled aside, I'd like to address her claim about forcing women to carry pregnancies with a poor prenatal diagnosis. One point I'd like to make is about the assumption and pressure women face from their doctors, support person, and even family to terminate the pregnancy (have an abortion) when facing a poor prenatal diagnosis. This is discussed in a couple of articles written from the viewpoint of parents of a child(ren) with disability who experienced it first hand as well as medical journal articles:
DS Screening: A Few Cautionary Thoughts
Down Syndrome Support Groups Rise to Counter Physicians’ Poor Diagnostic Practices
Prenatal diagnosis of hypoplastic left heart syndrome: impact of counseling patterns on parental perceptions and decisions regarding termination of pregnancy
Is there pressure from society to terminate pregnancy in case of a fetal anomaly?

For the reason I'd like to move the focus away from the abortion debate and back to the pregnant woman and to the child(ren) she's carrying and ask: is enough being done to inform the woman and her partner about the ramifications of prenatal testing and to provide them with support and options other than termination? For that reason, I'd like to make a call for more compassion towards women facing a poor prenatal diagnosis, and let's give them a support system, medical resources, and options. Also, it's important to continue to educate and bring awareness to the public.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Is Pro-Choice Activists Oppose Ohio Diverting Funding to CPCs Reasonable?

Trolled from NARAL's Blog for Choice
Our opponents have really reached a new low in Ohio.

Anti-choice politicians are using the state budget to take essential funds away from low-income women and children and give them to anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) instead.

CPCs are anti-choice facilities that often set up next to legitimate reproductive-health clinics in order to trick women into thinking they're going to see staff who will be honest with them. Once they have confused a woman and gotten her into their doors, CPCs are likely to shame and intimidate her so that she's too scared to consider abortion. Sometimes CPC workers will flat out lie to women. That's the exact opposite of the quality, accurate reproductive-health care women need.

So let's get this straight: anti-choice politicians want to strip funding from effective programs that help low-income women and children and give those funds - taxpayer dollars - to anti-choice organizations that lie to women.

Are you outraged yet?
Hmm, and yet abortion rights advocates call for the removal of federal funding and the closing of pregnancy resource centers (which offer vital education and support services to pregnant and; parenting women), based on political misinformation and interest only in protecting abortion rights. Let's see how it really sounds coming from the pro-choice side (in a parody to the above article)...
Our opponents have really reached a new low in Ohio.

Pro-choice politicians are wanting to use the state budget to take essential funds away from low-income women and children and give them to pro-choice "reproductive health care" (RHC) clinics instead.

RHC are "pro-choice" facilities that often set up next to legitimate health care offices and businesses in order to trick women into thinking they're going to a clinic where they'll receive quality care and see staff who will offer them all their options and unbiased counseling. But once a woman gets through their doors and into so-called "options counseling" (often done by under-qualified office assistants), she'll be given info which is heavily weighed towards choosing abortion and sometimes the clinic counselor will straight out lie. Also, the woman will quickly learn the clinic does not offer all choices, the only service the clinic offers to pregnant woman is a pregnancy test, ultrasound, and abortion, she will need to go elsewhere for services if she wishes to choose other than abortion (as this is often the case with private clincs and according to Planned Parenthood's 2012 financial report, they provided 1,150,589 pregnancy tests, but only provided 28,674 prenatal care visits and 2,300 adoption referrals compared to  333,964 abortion services). Furthermore, the clinic may be having abortions preformed by an unlicensed and/or unsafe doctor. That's the exact opposite of being "pro-choice" and providing women with the ethical, quality health care they deserve.

So let's get this straight: pro-choice politicians want to strip funding from effective social service agencies, like crisis pregnancy centers (pregnancy resource centers), which assists low income pregnant and parenting women with free resources, education, and material support and give those funds -taxpayer dollars - to contraversial pro-choice organization Planned Parenthood, which often only offers one choice - abortion and lies to women.

Are you outraged yet?
H/T MoronicProchoiceQuotes

Update: 7/8/13:
A different, more balanced perspective on this issue can be found at
City Beat: Ohio Senate Budget Keeps Conservative Issues at ForefrontBill Would Cut Taxes for Small Business, Not Other Ohioans