Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from my family to you and yours!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let Us Be Thoughtful & Thankful This Thanksgiving

As I'm sitting down for breakfast this Thanksgiving morning, I'm taking a moment to reflect on what I'm thankful for:
1)Freedom: to practice the religion of my choosing or not practice at all, the right to work, and the right to have a voice and vote
2)My Family and Friends: You know who you are. Thank you for being there through the hard times and by my side to laugh through the good times.
3)My Best Friend and the Love of My Life, "B": I just want to let you know that I love you very much. We've been through some hard times together, but we've made it though. Thank you for being there through the hard times and by my side to laugh through the good times.
4)Finding and becoming employed with not only one, but two jobs after 6 months of unemployment.
5)My supervisors, who took a chance and gave me the opportunity to gain experience, as well as work in a field I enjoy
6)The individuals who've helped us out during difficult financial times.
7)A roof over our head, which is safe and protects us from the weather.
8)Food on the Table
9)Clothing and Shoes to Wear
10)Experiences Which Let me Walk in Others Shoes and Keeps Me Humble
12)Our Two Cats: They've brought us companionship, comfort, and laughter, they're practically members of our family
13)Indoor Plumbing/Electricity
14)Hot Chocolate and Warm, Soft, Chocolate Chip Cookies
15)Books Which Comfort, Inspire, Make Me Think, and Entertain
16)Our Firefighters, Police Officers, and the Men and Women Serving Our Country...Thank you
17)Nurses, doctors, and nursing assistants, you heal and comfort, and are underappreciated for all that you do...Thank you
18)Minimal Traffic on the Interstate Highway
19)...and Safe Arrivals For Myself, My Friends, and My Family at Their Destinations
20)Two Words: Star...Wars

I hope everyone has a safe and fun holidays.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

On This Day Nine Years Ago

September 11th, 2001 at 8:46am, the first United Airlines plane crashed into the North Twin Tower and many lives were changed forever. Today, please take a moment of silence and bow your heads to remember the individuals and service men/women who lost their lives in this tragedy nine years today and to hold in your thoughts and prayers (whatever your spiritual beliefs may be) for our men and women serving over seas. Thank you. Peace and spiritual blessings to you on this day.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I am frustrated and tired of the bickering and homophobia within the pro-life movement. Sexual identity doesn't have anything to do with protecting the unborn, and not only diverts away from the issue, but also causes division within the pro-life movement. You know, you're free to disagree with other pro-lifers about gay marriage, but do you really want to risk losing allies by telling self-professed pro-lifers that they can't be pro-life? Do you think people saved from abortion really care what the person or people who saved them thought about gay marriage? Do you think this is a movement that can afford to alienate people?

We are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot, unintentionally furthering the misconception that we pro-lifers are only about moralizing and policing sexual practices or punishing those who participate in non-traditional sexual practices and that we oppose potential life-saving practices such as using condoms

I'm also getting really sick of, "hey, you know about this over-the-top, highly publicized gay event that focuses on promiscuity? Do you agree with that, too?" That's like claiming that people who support heterosexual marriage approve of Girls Gone Wild. People acting like sex-crazed hedonists in public is not the same thing as two people wanting a loving, committed relationship.
Pro-life should mean equal rights for all, born and unborn, whether they are GLBT or straight.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Experience at a Planned Parenthood

I went to Planned Parenthood last year and saw a nurse practitioner for my annual exam. You may be wondering, because I identify as pro-life, why I'd find myself in a Planned Parenthood. Well, although I had health insurance, it was a high deductible plan and we were tight on money, plus I wanted to see what the organization was like for my self..According to the National Planned Parenthood website, they list female infertility as one of their services, in addition to routine preventive care. I signed in and During the course of the exam, I explained that I have been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), one of the most common female endocrine disorders. I explained my concerns regarding the negative health implications associated with this condition and requested a medication to treat the symptoms. She replied that all she could offer was the regular birth control pill.. I tried to explain that I didn't want the Pill, I'd experienced too many side effects and my husband and I were open to pregnancy. Even so, she continued to encourage to me to re-consider taking the Pill and I felt like I didn't have much of a choice, between treating the symptoms of my condition or keeping my fertility. At no time during our discussion were any other options given. She continued to encourage me to take a script for the pill, although I was not interested. Getting no where and frustrated, I ended my appointment and took the script for a birth control pill of l which I had no intention of filling, so I could get out of there. I remained polite however and signed out at the desk and left. I later did some research and learned there are several other medications which can be prescribed to treat the symptoms of and address the underlying cause of PCOS without preventing fertility. Apparently this PP wasn't equipped to provide infertility services or treat abnormal female reproductive conditions, nor did their staff seem interested in providing services to help me become pregnant.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Helping Women Fight Back Against Rape

At the South African World Cup soccer games this week, in a country with alarmingly high rape rates and low conviction rates, 30k condoms of a different type are being distributed: female condoms with teeth.

South African doctor invents female condoms with 'teeth' to fight rape
(CNN) -- South African Dr. Sonnet Ehlers was on call one night four decades ago when a devastated rape victim walked in. Her eyes were lifeless; she was like a breathing corpse.

"She looked at me and said, 'If only I had teeth down there,'" recalled Ehlers, who was a 20-year-old medical researcher at the time. "I promised her I'd do something to help people like her one day."

Forty years later, Rape-aXe was born.

Ehlers is distributing the female condoms in the various South African cities where the World Cup soccer games are taking place.

The woman inserts the latex condom like a tampon. Jagged rows of teeth-like hooks line its inside and attach on a man's penis during penetration, Ehlers said.

Once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it -- a procedure Ehlers hopes will be done with authorities on standby to make an arrest.

"It hurts, he cannot pee and walk when it's on," she said. "If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter... however, it doesn't break the skin, and there's no danger of fluid exposure."

Ehlers said she sold her house and car to launch the project, and she planned to distribute 30,000 free devices under supervision during the World Cup period.

"I consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to help in the design and make sure it was safe," she said.

After the trial period, they'll be available for about $2 a piece. She hopes the women will report back to her.

"The ideal situation would be for a woman to wear this when she's going out on some kind of blind date ... or to an area she's not comfortable with," she said.

The mother of two daughters said she visited prisons and talked to convicted rapists to find out whether such a device would have made them rethink their actions.

Some said it would have, Ehlers said.

Critics say the female condom is not a long-term solution and makes women vulnerable to more violence from men trapped by the device.

It's also a form of "enslavement," said Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda. "The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to."

Kajja said the device constantly reminds women of their vulnerability.

"It not only presents the victim with a false sense of security, but psychological trauma," she added. "It also does not help with the psychological problems that manifest after assaults."

However, its one advantage is it allows justice to be served, she said.

Various rights organizations that work in South Africa declined to comment, including Human Rights Watch and Care International.

South Africa has one of the highest rape rates in the world, Human Rights Watch says on its website. A 2009 report by the nation's Medical Research Council found that 28 percent of men surveyed had raped a woman or girl, with one in 20 saying they had raped in the past year, according to Human Rights Watch.

In most African countries, rape convictions are not common. Affected women don't get immediate access to medical care, and DNA tests to provide evidence are unaffordable.

"Women and girls who experience these violations are denied justice, factors that contribute to the normalization of rape and violence in South African society," Human Rights Watch says.

Women take drastic measures to prevent rape in South Africa, Ehlers said, with some wearing extra tight biker shorts and others inserting razor blades wrapped in sponges in their private parts.

Critics have accused her of developing a medieval device to fight rape.

"Yes, my device may be a medieval, but it's for a medieval deed that has been around for decades," she said. "I believe something's got to be done ... and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman."
H/T Jill Stanek

I honestly think this is a great project. On the positive side, in countries where women do not often enough receive protection from rape and justice against rapists, it will provide a new form of self-defense and empowerment for women. And in developed countries such as the U.S.  it will hopefully lead to more arrests of and deter date rape. However, while this condom is intended to deter potential rapists, one of my concerns is that it doesn't prevent the act of rape from occuring, but rather is made to very quickly put an end to a rapist's attack. And with that said, while it does provide protection against seminal fluids, because it is designed as a defense once penetration has occured, it's faults lie with that it doesn't protect the woman from the physical and pyschological devastation of being forcibly penetrated against her will. Also, my concern lies with protential violent retaliation against the victim by the would-be-rapist. There are benefits, but also disadvantages to this. The Rape-Axe is a start, but we've got a longs ways to go.

While we're talking about this issue, it's worth noting that a while back, feminist and progressive blogger, Bitting Beaver wrote a contraversial, but informational article, entitled, "The Rapist Checklist" which defined and clearly defined rape so that men and women can know boundaries.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blogger's Home Vandalized for Expressing Pro-Life Views

This is just sad. In the United States, he has the same right to free speech and to express his political views and opinions as anyone else, whether others agree with his views or not. All too often pro-choice individuals are defenders and advocates of "tolerance" and "free speech," that is until a differing view from their own is expressed. As the old saying goes, "Free speech for me, but not for thee!"

Update 6/25/10: Apparently this has made the news: Telegraph Harold: Man believes vandalism tied to his opposition to abortion

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More About Me

Some interesting questions have been raised, as well as implied, in the course of discussions with others on political blogs and I would like to take the time to answer these questions as well as provide an opportunity for you, my readers, to get to know me better.

Question: You've mentioned that you have been a peer counselor for 10 years. Did you have any sort of training? When and where does your experience come from?

In the spring of 1999, I began peer ministry through a local church's highschool youth group, which ended the following summer. In peer ministry, we trained to be peer counselors through role-playing, a work book, discussions, and peer evaluation. Some vital key points we learned were: reflective and active listening, how to provide non-judgemental responses and advice, guidance through basic problem solving, with an emphasis on confidentiality unless the person was in danger of harm or death & refer to a professional if issue is severe. Issues we learned about included: unplanned pregnancy, illegal drug use, underage drinking, and depression/suicide.

From 2002 until January 2004, I maintained a now defunct website (seen here), with a section of information on unplanned pregnancy and provided an e-mail where men and women could contact me for advice and support. Basically I would guide and support them through the decision-making process using active and reflective listening and basic problem solving skills and connected them with resources in their communities to further meet their needs. I received and answered up to 5 e-mails a week.

May 17, 2003, I completed and received a certificate for 6 contact hours of Infant Adoption Awareness Adoption Liason training  (Provided by the National Council for Adoption, through a grant from the state of Indiana. Training personnel provided by Bethany Christian Services)

In 2003, I created a Yahoo! Group Pregnant_Teen_Support, a peer support group for teens (12-20yrs) who are facing an unplanned, unexpected, or unwanted pregnancy, with an emphasis on politically neutrality and non-judgementalism. Today, the group has over 400 members and I have stepped down to co-moderator due to pressing issues in my personal life.

Also, I have become an accepted member at the following online unplanned pregnancy/abortion recovery support communities starting in 2004: Yahoo! Groups: I Might Be Pregnant, IVIllage Abortion Support Board, and the PASS Support Boards.

Question: What are your spiritual/philosophical beliefs?

Answer: I consider myself an agnostic theist. I was born and raised a Catholic, but in my college years I choose to leave the Catholic Church and started attending my husband's church, a small congregation (less than 100 members) which at the time was afffiliated with the United Methodist church. My parents jokingly call me a "Matholic" a combination of Catholic and Methodist :P At that time that I felt very much at home in a United Methodist church because of their scripturally based beliefs (sola scriptura), emphasis on mission work, traditional services, very similiar to the Catholic mass, traditional music, and more conservative stance on political issues. However as time went on, a series of life events led me to start doubting my faith and the existance of a Christian god or higher power(s). I no longer found comfort in or the answers I was seeking in the Christian faith, nor did I idenify with any of the world religions, which led me to identify myself as agnostic two years ago in 2008. I do not believe in multiple gods/godesses, but I am undecided about whether or not one omnipresent, benevolent god/godess exists. My spouse is a practicing Christian and does not agree with my decision and so I do attend church from time to time with my husband to maintain relationship harmony.

Question: What are your political beliefs?

Answer: I would consider myself a moderate, voting democratically on some issues and republican on others. My politically beliefs on the various issues are described here.

Question: But don't you oppose abortion and contraception based on moralistic, bible-based thinking? Didn't we even see a blog entry where you clearly made biblical references in oppositon to abortion?

From when I began to write this blog in 2004 until about mid 2008, I did indeed write a couple of spirituality based entries, at a time when I still believed in the Christian god, but was starting to doubt my faith. These entries can be found under my Religion and Spirituality post tag. There is one entry, written in late 2004, entitled Political Corruption in the Church, in which I took the United Methodist Church and other Christian denominations to task for taking a pro-choice stance based on false and loose interpretations of the Christian faith. You will find this is the only entry on my blog where I make biblical references in oppositon to abortion, which at the time 5 years ago, was made when I still believed in the Christian Faith. However  my beliefs have changed over the years and these days my primary reasons for opposing abortion are based on social, ethical, and medical reasons, and thus these are the basis of my writings on abortion from mid 2005 on. I do not believe in making abortion illegal. Rather I believe we would benefit from: more medical regulation of abortion practices, changing hearts and minds with education and knowledge, reducing the need for abortion through a focus on preventing unplanned pregnancy with availability of contraception and sex education, a better support system for pregnant and parenting women who are working or continuing their education, and addressing the societal pressures which lead women to abortion.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy Birthday to Meeee!!

Just wanted to share that today is my 27th birthday :)

Plans? We celebrated my birthday this past Sunday with a dinner at home with a couple of close family friends attending. Although I do have to say it was interesting because we heard the local tornado warning sirens go off around 7pm, just as we were getting ready to sit down and eat. A small cold air funnel touched down on the south west side of town, with no serious damage in that area. The cell which produced our funnel cloud was part of a cold front with severe thunderstorms which produced 6 tornadoes in Indiana over Saturday and Sunday, causing moderate damage to homes, outbuildings, trees, and utility poles.
Tornado: National Weather Service tracks path of tornadoes in Indiana - WXIN

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Expressions of the Mind: Living with Clinical Depression

Art can be a creative and healing outlet for many. I've created the following Wordle to express what living with clinical depression feels like, so that others may have a better understanding, awareness, and more compassion towards those living with clinical depression and other mental illnesses—

Monday, May 31, 2010

On This Memorial Day We Remember...

On this day of rememberance, we keep in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers those who have died defending our freedom as well as those who are currently on the battlefield. Let us pray...

Higher power, we ask that you keep watch over our soldiers, as you know, our family members are out there, please keep them safe from harm. Please deliver them home safely. And for those who have passed, may they go to rest peacefully in your arms. In your name we pray, amen.

In Memoriam to Our Fallen Marines

Memorial Day 2007: A Tribute to Our Soldiers

Memorial Day salute: Armed Forces Medley

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Off to the Race!

Earlier today, I attended the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500. My husband and I started preparing a backpack for the race the night before. Sunscreen, check. Hats, check. Non-parishable food, check. My Epipen for in case I get stung by a bee, check. We got up at eight am (later than we wanted) and got dressed for the day and packed our cooler with a sack lunch and dinner. We met our friends at their apartment on the west side of Indy about nine am, but didn't leave until  about nine-thirty am and got stuck in slow moving traffic in the smoldering heat for two hours (it was already around a humid ninety degrees by this point). Finally we decided to just park and walk and so parked at five dollars parking at a bar and walked the rest of the two and a half miles, a fourty-five minute walk to the race track with our coolers, back packs, and gallon jug of water. We arrived at the race right during the opening ceremony. We had free tickets from my father-in-law, for seats in the National Guard section, on turn four, at the beginning of the straight way. They were great seats, four rows up from the track, but in the direct sun and man was it hot! Overall it was a great experience, though and I've included pictures below. Also, I found more great pics from the Indy 500 by another user on Photobucket, which can be seen here




Friday, May 28, 2010

An Experiment in Compassion

Josh is an actor. So are the people heaping verbal abuse on him. See how the ordinary shoppers respond in the following video:

Food for thought: How would you respond if you saw an individual with developmental disabilities being verbally or physically harassed at a local store, restaraunt, park, school, or other place in your community?

H/T Real Choice and Mommy Life

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Year Anniversary of Late-term Abortion Provider George Tiller Death

Monday, May 31 - Memorial Day, this year - will mark the 1 year anniversary of abortion provider George Tiller's murder.

Pro-choice activists have been paying tributes and are planning memorials. Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has read or will read a Tiller tribute statement on the Senate floor today.

For a donation of $75 the TX Equal Access Fund "will deliver a handmade card, flowers, and a basket of goodies" to your favorite abortion provider on May 31. Why not instead deliver flowers to the women and families of women who were injured or killed during supposed "safe and legal" late-term abortions at George Tiller's clinic. Where's their concern for these women and their families? Does their concern not extend beyond the woman's abortion?

The George Tiller Abortion Fund has been established to subsidize late-term abortions. However, I think it's important to keep in mind that often in the case of a theraputic late-term abortion for health reasons or poor prenatal diagnosis, the woman has often been has been given a worst-case scenario and feels that she has run out of options and she may have been told that an abortion is the best option by her doctor despite carrying a wanted pregnancy. Rather than abandoning these women to despair and hopelessness and feeling they have no choice but to have an abortion, instead let's give them a support system, medical resources, and options. Instead of supporting the George Tiller Abortion Fund, instead consider donating to organizations such as Be Not Afraid, Prenatal Partners for Life, or your local prenatal hospice, establish a community outreach to parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis, create a database of community resources for those with special needs children, purchase and distribute Ashli McCall's book "Beyond Morning Sickness: Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum" to families and doctor's offices, sew memory blankets or create a comfort basket for a family facing neonatal death or infant death, or offer to help a family by bringing meals over or assisting with errands. To this end, we can help support and comfort families through their challenges, grief, and sorrows and healing journeys.

Picture credit: Jill Stanek

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nun Excommunicated For Allowing Abortion : NPR

Nun Excommunicated For Allowing Abortion
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
Last November, a 27-year-old woman was admitted to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She was 11 weeks pregnant with her fifth child, and she was gravely ill. According to a hospital document, she had "right heart failure," and her doctors told her that if she continued with the pregnancy, her risk of mortality was "close to 100 percent."

The patient, who was too ill to be moved to the operating room much less another hospital, agreed to an abortion. But there was a complication: She was at a Catholic hospital.

"They were in quite a dilemma," says Lisa Sowle Cahill, who teaches Catholic theology at Boston College. "There was no good way out of it. The official church position would mandate that the correct solution would be to let both the mother and the child die. I think in the practical situation that would be a very hard choice to make."

But the hospital felt it could proceed because of an exception — called Directive 47 in the U.S. Catholic Church's ethical guidelines for health care providers — that allows, in some circumstance, procedures that could kill the fetus to save the mother. Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at the hospital as well as its liaison to the diocese, gave her approval.

The woman survived. When Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted heard about the abortion, he declared that McBride was automatically excommunicated — the most serious penalty the church can levy.

"She consented in the murder of an unborn child," says the Rev. John Ehrich, the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix. "There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But — and this is the Catholic perspective — you can't do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means."

Ehrich adds that under canon or church law, the nun should be expelled from her order, the Sisters of Mercy, unless the order can find an alternative penalty. Ehrich concedes that the circumstances of this case were "hard."

"But there are certain things that we don't really have a choice" about, he says. "You know, if it's been done and there's public scandal, the bishop has to take care of that, because he has to say, 'Look, this can't happen.' "

A Double Standard?
But according to the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer, the bishop "clearly had other alternatives than to declare her excommunicated." Doyle says Olmsted could have looked at the situation, realized that the nun faced an agonizing choice and shown her some mercy. He adds that this case highlights a "gross inequity" in how the church chooses to handle scandal.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, shown here in 2003, declared that McBride was automatically excommunicated because she allowed a patient at a Catholic hospital to get an abortion. But some say her quick punishment stands in stark contrast to the protection many pedophile priests have received from their bishops.
"In the case of priests who are credibly accused and known to be guilty of sexually abusing children, they are in a sense let off the hook," Doyle says.
Doyle says no pedophile priests have been excommunicated. When priests have been caught, he says, their bishops have protected them, and it has taken years or decades to defrock them, if ever.
"Yet in this instance we have a sister who was trying to save the life of a woman, and what happens to her? The bishop swoops down [and] declares her excommunicated before he even looks at all the facts of the case," Doyle says.

Ehrich agrees that sexual abuse can't be tolerated. But he says neither can McBride's actions.

"She said, 'Yes, you can kill that unborn child.' That's a heinous act. And I'm not going to make a distinction between what's worse. They're both abhorrent," Ehrich says.

Ehrich says the nun can be admitted back into the Catholic community by going to confession and repenting. McBride still works at the hospital in another position. Whether she is allowed to remain in her religious order, Erich says that is up to the Sisters of Mercy.
I don't know, I think every effort should be made to save both mother and unborn child with close monitering and treatment with medications in a hospital setting. However, in this case, it sounds like moderate to severe pulmonary hypertension, also known as Preeclampsia and Eclampsia. According to E-Medicine/Medscape: Eclampsia and Preeclampsia it appears terminating the pregnancy via emergency delivery is indicated in a later-term pregnancy in addition to medications to stabilize her blood pressure and reduce seizures (with every attempt to save both baby and mother), however delivery wasn't possible here, and so perhaps this was one of those rare cases where there were no other options and terminating the pregnancy via a theraputic abortion was necessary to save this woman's life. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the principle of double effect comes into play. However it's also important to note that this case was an exception, not the rule for abortion as theraputic abortions for endangerment to the woman's health only comprise 1% of all induced abortions. I'm no longer a practicing Catholic, so I don't know the specific guidelines for theraputic abortions necessary to save the mother's life. *Sighs* And how the Catholic church has handled the cases of sexual abuse is one of the reasons why I'm no longer a practicing Catholic.

H/T to my younger sister, "T"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Singing a'cappella

A while back, my sister told me about a great new up and coming a'capella group called "Straight No Chaser"

If you like "Straight No Chaser," you might like the following up and coming group, University of Oregon's all male a'cappella group "On The Rocks" Their version of Lady Gaga's song Bad Romance is especially great.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hiatus Interrupted

As you may have noticed, I've taken a recent hiatus, sans an occasional entry or comment on other's blogs. Recently I've started working again in direct care with the developmentally disabled, now for a different agency. Also, I was in the process of completing my CNA (or nurse aide) certification, which I'm happy to say, I completed 105 contact hours of training (lab/lecture and clinicals) and passed the state certification exam this morning. I hope to return to writting again, although it may be infrequent due to a hectic work schedule.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Please Help Spread the Message of Teen Suicide Prevention

1,800 young people under age 20 take their own lives each year, most because of untreated depression. Tragically, only 1 out of every 3 depressed teens receives treatment. AFSP developed More Than Sad: Teen Depression to help students recognize depression in themselves or their friends, promote help-seeking and demystify what treatment involves. In 2009, the film was recognized as a Best Practice in Suicide Prevention. What’s needed now is to make sure that it gets used in high schools across the U.S. Our idea is to recruit 2,000 teachers to participate in one of 10 hour-long webinars, aimed at introducing them to the film and helping them understand its importance as a suicide prevention tool. Following the webinar, teachers will receive a complimentary copy of the DVD and instructional materials for use in their schools. Our intention is that this project will empower high school teachers to play a crucial role in preventing the loss of young lives to suicide.

About American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
AFSP is a national nonprofit engaged in research, education and advocacy to prevent suicide. We also reach out to people living with mental disorders and suicide loss. Our highly acclaimed film, More Than Sad, educates teens about depression, the leading cause of suicide.

Voting Ended April, 30 and AFSP was a finalist to receive $50,000. Thank you for your votes!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Donating Bone Marrow Can Save a Life

A while back, Keep Calm and Carry On provided information on becoming a bone marrow donor and bone marrow donation here, here, and here. Blood stem cells taken from the bone marrow or blood of a matching volunteer donor can be used to treat a number of conditions and can be life saving for people with diseases of the blood, bone marrow, or certain types of cancer. It only takes 5 minutes to do a buccal swab to determine if your tissue might be a match for someone in need of a transplant.

Often times when individuals think of bone marrow donation, they think having having to be put under anesthesia and having a long needle draw bone marrow out of a bone in their hip. However, I'm happy to say that the process has improved there is another option to donation. The other option is to administer certain drugs (which unfortuantly may have flu-like side effects) which stimulate the release of stem cells from the bone marrow into circulating blood. An IV is inserted into the donor's arm, and the stem cells are filtered out of the blood. The procedure is similar to donating blood or platelets.

Today I went to the local university student center and did a buccal (cheek) swab to see if I might be a donor match for a bone marrow transfusion for two local girls in need
Ailing sisters still need a donor match | | The Star Press
and was added to the National Donor Registry.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


For the last week or so, it's been rather dreary here, overcast, rainy, and cold. It sure didn't feel like Spring. As I looked out the window into the rain yesterday, I wondered if it would be warm in time for Easter Sunday. Fortuantly the weather today turned out to be beautiful, sunny and breazy, with temperatures in the 70's. Even better are the beautiful flowers in bloom. Below are some pictures, taken earlier today, of my grandmother's flower garden.


Happy Easter!

The first two pictures are from online, I'm not sure who the author is.
The rest of the pictures are of a traditional Easter at my Grandmother's house.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month

Learn about child abuse and how you can help prevent it..

What Is The Definition of Child Abuse?
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define child maltreatment as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child (source).

What are the Types of Child Abuse?

Child abuse can take several forms (source): The four main types of abuse are physical, sexual, psychological, and neglect(source).

Physical Abuse:
Physical abuse is physical aggression directed at a child by an adult. It can involve striking, burning, choking or shaking a child. The distinction between child discipline and abuse is often poorly defined. Cultural norms about what constitutes abuse vary widely: among professionals as well as the wider public, people do not agree on what behaviors constitute abuse.

Child Sexual Abuse:
Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse in which an adult or older adolescent abuses a child for sexual stimulation.(sources: here and here) Forms of CSA include asking or pressuring a child to engage in sexual activities (regardless of the outcome), indecent exposure of the genitals to a child, displaying pornography to a child, actual sexual contact against a child, physical contact with the child's genitals, viewing of the child's genitalia without physical contact, or using a child to produce child pornography (sources: here, here, and here).

Psychological/Emotional Abuse:
Out of all the different forms of abuse, emotional abuse is the hardest to identify. This form of abuse includes name-calling, ridicule, degradation, destruction of personal belongings, torture or destruction of a pet, excessive criticism, inappropriate or excessive demands, withholding communication, and routine labeling or humiliation (source).

Neglect is the instance in which the responsible adult fails to adequately provide for various needs, including physical (failure to provide adequate food, clothing, or hygiene), emotional (failure to provide nurturing or affection) or educational (failure to enroll a child in school).

Why Does Child Abuse and Neglect Occur?

Child abuse is a complex problem which has multiple causes (source). Understanding the causes of abuse is crucial to addressing the problem of child abuse. Parents who physically abuse their spouses are more likely to physically abuse their children. However, it is difficult to know whether marital strife is a cause of child abuse, or if both the marital strife and abuse are caused by tendencies in the abuser (source). Substance abuse is a major contributing factor to child abuse. One study found that parents with documented substance abuse, most commonly alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, were much more likely to mistreat their children, and were also much more likely to reject court-ordered services and treatments (source).

What Children Are at Risk?

What is the Outcome for Children Who've Been Abused?

How Can Child Abuse and Nelgect Be Prevented?

Some Helpful Links
National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Domestic Violence Hotline TDD
(for the hearing-impaired)

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
Toll-free 24-hour Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
RAINN is a 24-hour national hotline for victims of sexual assault. Calls to the hotline are instantly computer-routed to the 24-hour rape crisis center nearest the caller.

Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline
National Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
TDD: 1-800-2-A-CHILD

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
National Hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
A child advocacy organization in the UK promoting awareness, education, and public change to put an end to child abuse.

Child Welfare Information Gateway
Topics Covered Include: Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect, Overview of Child Abuse and Neglect, Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect, Responding: The Child Welfare System, and Issues Associated with Child Abuse and Neglect, and Find Help with a Personal Situation. También disponible en español.

Prevent Child Abuse America
A not-for-profit organization that has worked for over 25 years with local, state, and national groups to promote healthy parenting and community involvement as effective strategies for preventing child abuse.

Child Abuse Prevention Network
Provides multiple links to child abuse prevention sites, including Army Family Adovcacy Program, Physicians Network, and Family Life Development Center.

Contains information about child abuse prevention and treatment, and a method to report suspected abuse cases in the US.
Seeks to support, inform and encourage those dealing with any aspect of child abuse, in a positive non-threatening environment. Includes articles by child abuse prevention experts.

A clearinghouse of information for facts and strategies for those seeking to keep children safe from maltreatment, such as crisis hotline numbers, parenting articles, and web links.

Parents Anonymous
Self help groups for abused children and parents under stress

Coalition for Children
Comprehensive resource for child abuse, lifeskills education, advocacy, media support, legal & expert witness services, research, strangers, safety on the Internet and bullies.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

April is Abortion Recovery Awareness Month

If you or a loved one is struggling after an abortion, please know you are not alone and that help is available and there is hope and healing for you or your loved one. The most important thing to realize is that you/they are not alone in your/their thoughts and feelings. Others have traveled the path to find healing and you/they can, too. If you or your loved one is struggling, please reach out for help. You or your loved one will receive lots of love and support and support in your/their journey to find healing and peace. You can find organizations which offer counseling services, websites on healing, books of diverse beliefs and practices, and more healing resources at the following directory: Abortion Recovery Resources

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Coerced Abortion: A Concerning Issue

Having spoken with and listened to post-abortion women for a number of years, especially at this post-abortion support website, I've learned that subtle to overt pressure and even coercion to have an abortion were a common factor for many woman in their abortion decision. This issue is concerning, however under-represented in discussions on abortion. A growing body of evidence shows that most abortions are unwanted or coerced. One study 64% of American women felt pressured by others. (1) More than half felt rushed or uncertain, yet 67% received no counseling.(1) 79% were not told about available alternatives.(1)

A survey of members at a poltically-neutral post-abortion support website of 5,714 active members, found 772 incidences of individuals in a member's life invovled in coercing her into the abortion(s) (source)

Pressure and coercion to have an abortion comes in many forms and from all sides. It may come from a boyfriend/partner spouse, parent, mentor, school counselor, employer, family planning clinic staff, or religious clergy. Coercion comes in many direct and indirect forms, overt or subtle.

Overt coersion often involves outright words or actions of threat --- such as someone saying to you --- "if you don't get an abortion..." then they will usually list dire consequences purposely to upset her and push her into doing what they want. These dire consequences and threats may include threats of ending the relationship, removing their other child(ren), kicking them out of the home, job termination, etc.

Subtle coersion often includes double-entendres, veiled threats, mind games, passive-agressive actions by the coercers, etc. These threats are not as blatant as the overt coercers, but are more subtle forms of emotional abuse, intended to make her doubt herself, for example, a double-entendre, "It's YOUR decision BUT you'll never finish school." or "It's YOUR decision BUT you wouldn't be a good mom."

Another method includes bribing, sweet talking, or making empty promises ... for example, a boyfriend may promise to marry her if she has the abortion, he may promise that she can have a baby later if she only has the abortion at this time, if she has the abortion everything will be okay and they will be together forever. However these relationships often don't last.

These are all real examples of coercion and these are all forms of emotional/psychological abuse. For those who say "the final decision was up to her," "she signed the consent form," "no one forced her to get up on that table" etc., yes, she ultimately made the choice to get on the table, but pressure and coercion strongly influenced her decision, it was not a "choice" completely made of free will. We need to consider the effects of what being in an abusive relationship can be like and what it can do to a persons free will when she's been emotionally worn down. If you have ever spent time at a woman's shelter or know of a woman who has been abused, know how quickly they feel dehumanized and have no choice and do things they wouldn't have normally chosen to do.

Some coercers have even gone as far as to actually call up and book an appointment at the abortion clinic for the coerced woman, either taking her to the clinic under a misleading guise or basically dragging her and forcing her to into the car and then clinic...using every threat and tactic they can think of to force her through the door and even to sign the form stating that she isn't being coerced. Unfortuantly, many of these women, under emotional duress from harassment and the fear of what will happen when they return home/back to work if they don't get the abortion, will sign the form. Coercion by abusive or otherwise controlling individuals can escalate to violence, forced abortion or even homicide - the leading cause of death for pregnant women.

Some coercers honestly think that by pushing her into having an abortion, they are doing what is right for her, often in the case of parents, who mistakenly believe it is their 'job' as a good parent to presure her into an abortion to protect her from ruining her life or embarassing the family, etc. However, this doesn't undo the emotional hurt or damage of being coerced into an unwanted abortion. "65% of women coerced into an abortion suffer symptoms of trauma" (1) This represents the need for better screening and pre-abortion counseling at hospitals and clinics and more dialogue on this issue from both sides of the abortion debate.

1) VM Rue et. al. "Induced abortions and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women," Medical Science Monitor 10(10):SR5-16 (2004).

For more information, please see:

Abortion: The UnChoice
Stories, research, and documentation of forced or coerced abortions

Forced and Coerced Abortions
Documentation of high profile cases of forced or coerced abortion.

Unwanted Abortions
Stories, research, and documentation of forced or coerced abortions

Women's Experience of Forced or Coerced Abortion
Shared experiences of women who were forced or coerced into having an abortion(s).

More Women's Experiences of Forced or Coerced Abortion
Shared experiences of women who were forced or coerced into having an abortion(s).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Incredible Photo Essay on Poverty and Young Mothers in Troy New York

At the following link, you will find an incredible photo essay on poverty and young mothers in Troy, NY. The issues surrounding poverty are complex, there are many layers and facets contributing to life in poverty: unstable relationships with partner(s) and family, domestic violence, partner's involvement in gang or drug activity, lacking a high school diploma or GED, lack of vocational or career skills, lack of reliable transportation, lack of safe housing, unemployment due to layoff or termination, underemployment at a minum wage or poorly paying job, underemployed but inelgibile for federal assistance programs, and mental illness or ongoing health issues, etc. coupled with the emotional state of hopelessness and discouragement that often accompny poverty, there are no easy solutions. Beyond the political arena of hot cotemporary issues such as welfare, abortion, and health care are the individuals living everyday lives in poverty.

Brenda Ann Kenneally: Upstate Girls

As a journalist and activist I have dedicated my life to exploring the how and why of class inequity in America. I am concerned with the internalized social messages that will live on for generations after our economic and social policies catch up with the reality of living on the bottom rung of America's upwardly mobile society. My project explores the way that money is but a symptom of self-worth and a means by which humans separate from each other. Poverty is an emotional rather than physical state with layers of marginalization to cement those who live under them into their place. The economic crisis as it is called has done some to take the moral sting out of being poor, though the conversation remains centered on economic rather than social stimulus relief. Thus indicating that the crux of the crisis is for those that are recently without money rather than Americans whose ongoing struggles left them unfazed by the headlines.

H/T to Keep Calm and Carry On

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pro-lifers Don't Care About the Born, Redux

If you're a pro-life individual and activist, you've probably heard it at sometime or another in a conversation on abortion or maybe as a pro-choice activist, you hold the view that we don't care about children once they're born, only fetuses.

However, keep in mind that many pro-lifers individuals volunteer on an individual basis in over 4,000 pregnancy resource centers in the United states and other countries, which provides parenting and childbirth classes; nutritional counseling; material items (see Earn While You Learn program below); and referrals to public and private agencies for assistance such as Medicaid, the Woman, Infants, and Child (WIC) program, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), homeless and battered women shelters, utility assistance, and for health care. Most centers feature clothing rooms, which are a department store-like resource center for supplementary material goods such as baby furniture, car safety seats, diapers, hygiene items, blankets and crib bedding, formula/baby food, and new and gently used infant/toddler clothes. are able to make purchases by using "Mommy Money" that is earned by attending 'Earn and Learn' classes. 'Earn and Learn' classes are provided for pregnant and parenting women and include pregnancy, prenatal development, delivery and postpartum care, the emotional needs and physical care of a newborn/toddler/school-aged child, first aid, foundations of discipline, financial management, job preparation and other life skills. Not only does this program provide clients with the material things they need for their infants and their other children, but also teaches them valuable life skills to help them rise out of poverty, and gives them independence and a sense of self-worth.

Also we act on an individual basis to provide, "We offer—and deliver—concrete, here-and-now help. Groceries, clothing, cribs, "safe haven" places to stay as long as they need (like my own home, for instance, in my guest room), baby supplies for their other young ones, even medical care for them and their unborn babies." -

One great example is when pro-lifers pitched in and worked together to help pay a 15 week pregnant woman's $1950/month mortgage payment when she couldn't work due to pregnancy complications and was at risk of loosing her home:

And on a personal note, my best and closest friend is a single mom to a school-aged child. I was there for her through her pregnancy and her daughter's childhood. I've been there to provide emotional support when she went to the hospital, provide transportation to doctor's offices and Medicaid appointments, provided childcare for her daughter while she was at work or needed an evening off, but most of all continue to giver her support and encouragement. Also, keep in mind that many pro-lifer individuals, such as myself, volunteer on an individual basis for a number community service and support agencies. I've been volunteering at local food pantries and the local soup kitchen, where we distribute hot meals and sack lunches to low income and homeless individuals and families, for the last eight years, off and on, as times allows. And I'm currently creating and distributing basic care bags, with information on local resources, to the indigent homeless in Indiana.

This is one such stereotype of pro-lifer individuals which is inaccurate, perpetuated by biased perceptions and rhetoric, rather we should focus on constructive dialogue of what we can do to better support disadvantaged pregnant and parenting women in our communities.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Former Abortion Clinic Building Converting to Teen Parenting Center

Former Abortion Clinic To House Teen Parent Center

Little Steps To Lease, Renovate Laurens Road Site

Beth Brotherton, WYFF News 4 Anchor/ Reporter
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- A building that used to be an abortion clinic has a new tenant.

Little Steps has taken a lease out on the downtown Greenville property. The teen parent program offers parenting classes, mentoring, support groups, supplies and childcare to young moms and dads.
The group's founder, Mandy Black, was a teen parent herself. "They're young parents, they're going to be parents whether we come along side and help them or not," Black said.

The abortion clinic closed in 2002. The building has been unoccupied for years. It is moldy, water damaged and in need of repairs. To fix it up, Little Steps has planned a community makeover the first weekend in May. Black says they need supplies and sponsorships before then. "We will be repairing walls throughout the building. I don't think there is one wall in whole building that doesn't need repairs," Black said.

Little Steps hopes to finish renovations before summertime. They want to create more space for classes and play groups. Jackie Harris, a 15-year-old single mom to daughter Mary Grace, is excited about the move and the extended hours Little Steps will offer. "I didn't have the baby's father's help. I was a single mom at age 14, a freshman in high school. They gave me options for daycare. They helped me with a job."

Mandy Black knows the move is a bit of a political statement but she says the space really is a perfect fit to provide classrooms, playrooms and mentoring stations. "I don't want to forget what happened here," she said. "There were a lot of lives lost and a lot of lives changed in this building. We don't want to forget that, but at the same time we want to move from that and say here is what can happen now."

To learn how you can help Little Steps with renovations go to their website
This is one great example of a pro-life individual seeing a need in the community and taking the intiative for change, by provide mentoring, emotional support, and life skills to prepare pregnant and parenting teen moms for adulthood. Whether you consider yourself pro-life or pro-choice, this may be one area of common ground, there is definately a need in many communities for better support services, like this, for teens and college students who are pregnant and parenting.

H/T Christina at Real Choice

Monday, March 8, 2010


I just wanted to pop in and say hello. My blogging is going to be lighter for the next few weeks, as I'm taking six to eight week CNA (certified nursing assistant) or nurse aide certification course . Having worked for two years in direct care with the developmentally disabled, I've found that I enjoy providing compassion and care to patients and I think I've found my niche.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Volunteering at the Local Soup Kitchen Tuesday Mornings

I'm living back in my hometown temporarily and so I've begun every other Tuesday, volunteering at the local soup kitchen with a family member, where we distribute hot meals and sack lunches to low income and homeless individuals and families. The soup kitchen is operated by the Catholic church across the street and is located in the basement of the old catholic school, meals are prepared and served in the kitchen and clients eat in the old cafeteria. Also in the basement, next door to the kitchen, is a day room where clients can receive educational tutoring, assistance with GED course work and job applications, Dress for Sucess and Share You Soles clothing for employment, and on some days just serves as a safe, warm place where they can relax, watch movies, and socialize with others. Also, up on the first floor is a St. Vincent DePaul resale store. I've been volunteering with the soup kitchen for the last eight years, off and on, as times allows and the regular volunteers and the director know me. When we got there around 8:30 and the hot food was already prepared and sack lunches ready to go, as sometimes meals are prepared in advance. A few of the regular inviduals we serve often choose to give back and volunteer and were washing the tables in the dinning room and emptying the trash cans for us. Shortly after we arrived, Second Harvest food bank made a delivery of fresh produce and various milk products, so I helped put away food. I noticed that we had a bushel of patatoes, more patotoes than we knew what to do with, and had gotten fresh produce in, and so suggested to the director that maybe we could make my grandmother's famous patotoe soup recipe. She liked the idea and so I set to cleaning and peeling patotoes. I got the patotoes done and had a minute to sit down, but I'm always looking around to see if there's anything that needs done. Today's menu consists of hot vegetable soup (made this morning), salad, yogurt sticks,  fruit cocktail, and orange juice or water, plus they can choose to get a sack lunch to take with them (consisting of a sandwhich, piece of fruit, chips, and a desert), and extras such as loaves of bread, and heads of lettuce. We opened the door and started serving at 9:30 (we serve until 11am) and I was right upfront, distributing the meals,  as well as pouring more juice and washing trays as needed. We served an estimated 85 individuals, about average for a given day.

Soup Kitchen Hours sign

Bulletin board: Welcome to the Harvest Soup Kitchen
Bulletin board: I can do all things through Christ who gives me stregnth

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reflections on Haiti and Catholic Relief Services' Operation Rice Bowl

As I sat down for dinner tonight, I looked down upon my bowl of home-made soup of chicken broth, spaghetti noodles, chicken, and celery, and  I contemplated about Haiti and how many hungry bodies, such a simple soup would nourish. I wish there would be a way I could go overseas to Haiti and serve nutritious meals such as these to the hungry there, however temporarily unemployed and without a church affiliation (I consider myself an agnostic theist), I have no means to connect with mission groups or to travel overseas. Then I remembered the Catholic Relief Services' Operation Rice Bowl collection container on the kitchen counter (from a family member's church). This program of Catholic Relief Services invites Catholics in the United States to respect human dignity and foster solidarity with the poor through the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (Seventy-five percent of gifts will go to Catholic Relief Services international hunger and poverty alleviation efforts and twenty-five percent will remain in the donor's local diocese to support local hunger and poverty alleviation efforts). In turn, participants will enter the stories of people throughout the world who are rising from poverty with the help of these relationships of solidarity. Although having no intention of participating in the prayer or fasting, I gathered what little money I have out of my purse and dropped it into the Operation Rice Bowl collection container, while dreaming of more, hoping it will make a difference.

Giving All Post-Abortion Men and Women a Voice

This is to let you know of new pro-choice post-abortion sharing website, 45 Million Voices. In their words:
45 Million Voices is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating the stigma, shame, and silence surrounding abortion through education, empowerment, and sisterhood....
In this virtual space, we will share women's stories of their abortions, unedited, posted as they are submitted to us. The goal is to provide a safe space to listen women into voice. A space where stigma is eradicated, silence is broken, and honesty prevails through the power of love and support....
The stories of women who had abortions are featured, although they mostly focus on physically and emotionally positive abortion experiences. However the experiences of women are diverse and I believe the voices and experiences of all women should be honored and heard. Let's see how honest these people are and let's give a voice to all women.

For those post-abortion women and men, who regret or had physically or emotionally difficult abortion(s), or have had difficulty coping after your abortion, this would be a good opportunity to share your pregnancy and abortion experience and to promote post-abortion stress syndrome awareness.

I encourage you to share your abortion story because others need to know that while feelings of relief are normal, so are feelings of sadness, loss, or grief and everything imbetween are normal too and all women's voices and experiences should be honored.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

In Favor of Reproductive Choice...Except for the Choice to Have Multiple Children

With the recent birth of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar's 19th child, feminists and advocates for reproductive choice are working themselves up into a tizzy once again. The target of their disdain? Michelle and Jim Bob's reproductive decision to have multiple children and a large family.

Many of their responses show a double standard of many in the "Reproductive Rights" movement. If a woman decides she wants to have multiple children and a large family, based on a fully informed decision, made between her and her husband, and based on their personal convictions and beliefs, she is looked down upon with a patronizing attitude that she must of been coerced or brainwashed, or mentally ill; her very real feelings and experiences are challenged and questioned (with the viewer or reader presuming to know what she must be experiencing and feeling); jokes and  insults regarding the possible state of Michelle's genitalia are made at her expense; and she is called condescending and belittling names such as  "brood mare," "breeder," and "clown car." In the same breath they shame and berate the Duggars for reproductive choices they've made, these advocates would expect others to respect their own reproductive rights, to limit their family size using birth control or having an abortion. Those who have a large family, whether by circumstance or choice, are looked down upon as misguided, lacking intelligence, irresponsbile breeders, and contributors to the problems of overpopulation, overall a burden, while women who use birth control and carefully limits her family are viewed as good girls, empowered and intellegent, making good choices. With an obvious amount of disdain, many feminists turn their matriarchal noses up and away with an air of disgust towards those with multiple children.

As for the various comments and pot-shots towards the Duggar's belief system, while I don't personally agree with their belief system, I don't see the Duggars trying to push their beliefs onto others, or presumably wanting everyone to live their lives this way. Rather, the Duggars are living their life to their beliefs, as they see fit. While many of their family practices are quite questionable and while I must disagree with their practices, it's not of anyone's business to tell them how to raise their children, so as long as the children are receiving adequite food, shelter, clothing, and education. While you may agree or disagree, how many children they have, what religion they practice, and how they raise their kids is their business, as long as they're not abusing their children and are within the confines of the law. And regardless of their decision to appear on public television, by no means should Michelle Duggar's body or her personal beliefs, be subject to public judgement. Leave them be. As mom always has said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Adventures in Plasma Donation

Ok, so since I'm strapped for cash right now and I've been a blood donor before, I'm considering donating plasma. I've already looked into the whole process and the place where I'd be going and it looks clean and the process appears to be safe, and there is a strict screening process for donors. Apparently these places are regulated by the FDA and an independent regulatory organization and are basically operated by pharmaceutical companies, which then use the plasma to manufactor medications for those with clotting disorders, immune disorders, burns, etc. But I have some concerns because donating plasma seems to carry stigma based on some of the cientele they receive and because you receive money in return. I have an appointment this Monday and am a bit nervous.

Update 2/02:
Ok, it's Monday and my first appointment. I wasn't able to get anyone else to go with me, both my best friend and my parents are firmly against selling plasma for ethical reasons. So I borrowed a family member's pickup truck (remember, I'm still without a vehicle since my car accident in December) and went to my appointment by myself. I made sure to have the required identification documents (letter of proof of social security number from the social security office, driver's license, and a piece of mail for proof of mailing address), a book to read, and my CD player with a book on CD to pass the time during the wait and procedure. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was 1) How busy they were 2) All the staff handling clients apeared to be phlebotomists and other medical professionals (including those operating the front desk) and were using universal precautions and wearing lab coats, 3) How clean and ultra-modern the place looked, and 4) They have a nice supervised playroom for the children of clients. After a short wait, they got my information put into the computer, my finger print scanned (to login each time), took me back to the procedure area and had a phlebotomist check my veins, then took me back up front and showed me how to do the automated medical history questionare on a self-service computer. After I filled out the history questionare, I was then taken into a small private office to review my history questionare with one of the medical staff. She reviewed my prescription medications and asked what condition they were for, and how long I've been taking them, but seemed particularly interested in the medication I'm on for depression. Uh oh, I thought, something's wrong, that isn't on the medication deferral list (I know from being a whole blood donor). She then took me back to her office/examine room for a short physical examination to make sure that donating won't adversely affect my health, a part of the normal screening process. On the way back, out of curiousity, I asked what her titled was and she told me licensed nurse practioner, with a bit of an attitude (like, "Why'd you ask that?") but over all was professional. Once we were in her office, she explained that I couldn't donate today, that I'd need to be on my medication for 30 days to make sure the medication was at its peak dose in my blood stream, because the medication is present in plasma and when a person donates plasma, it can temporarily lower the amount of medication in ones blood stream. Because of this, she explained, for certain medical conditions, where a patient needs to have their medication consistantly in their blood stream, they would need the prescribing doctor's approval before they can let the person donate, and such as my case and they would need my physician's approval before they can let me donate.

She then had me fill out a release of information form and handed me a form to have my primary care physician, who's been treating me for my depression, to fill out and to fax back to the plasma center. Then the medical director of the plasma center has to review what my physician wrote to determine whether or not I'm eligable to donate. Well, that was that. I need to get a physical because I'm going back to school and I'm due for an annual medication review for my depression anyways, so after leaving the plasma center, I headed over to my primary care physician's office to drop off the form and to schedule an appointment. So I have an appointment at my primary care physician next Monday and may have to wait until I've been on my medicine for 30 days before I can donate, depending on what my primary care doc writes on the form for the plasma center and if the plasma center director approves me. Darn! I was hoping I could start donating today, not to mention I've been drinking like a liter and a half of Gatorade (sports drink electrolyte replacement) over the last 24 hours so I'm adequitely hydrated in anticipation of donating and really had to pee! So that was my initial experience and the place I'm going to looks clean and safe and as you can see, it's a thorough screening process, not just anyone off the street can donate plasma. Despite all lengthy screening process and challenges which have arose, if I'm approved, I'd like to still donate.

Update 2/9:
It's been a week and so I followed up with the plasma center via a phone call to see if they had received the form back from my physician's office and if my physician had given the ok for me to donate and apparently he had. Now I just have to wait until I've been on my medicine for a month before I can make the actual appointment to donate.

Update 3/10:
I had an actual donation appointment today, but because I hadn't ate an actual meal beforehand (meal replacement shakes don't count I guess) and they prefer you do as to minimize side effects, they deferred me until tomarrow, but went ahead and took a test tube of blood to test for any blood-borne pathogens (such as HIV and viral hepatitis) which might make my blood and blood products unsafe to use, a normal part of the screening process. Normally the screening process, the physical, medical questionare, and test tube of blood are all done in one appointment, but because I had to have a physician's ok, it was a bit more drawn out.

Update 3/11:
Yea, I was able to donate today! I made sure to eat a good breakfast this time before my appointment. I got there a little early and got logged in at the front desk and because I was a first time donor, I got a bag of gold-fish crackers and a bottle of water to drink. Once I finished my snack, I filled out an automated medical history questionare on a self-service computer. I then was called to chair along a large round counter where a phlebotomist (or lab tech) weighed me (to determine how much plasma can be donated), took my blood pressure and temperature, and took a finger-prick of blood to check the iron and protein levels in my blood. Everything was good, so next I proceeded to a large room where the actual plasma donation would take place, and took a seat in a recliner next to a plasmapheresis machine. Donating plasma is similar in many ways to whole blood donation. First a blood pressure cuff is put around my arm and then the tech hooked up the disposable tubing. Then the tech will felt for a vein in the bend of my arm and marked it, my skin was cleaned well with betadine, and a needle is inserted into the vein. I know having a needle inserted interveinously isn't fun, but honestly I think the finger prick hurt more than having the needle inserted. The machine was then set for the amount of plasma to be collected and the process begain. In the first cycle, blood is drawn through the needle and into tubing, up into a spinning tube which seperates the plasma from the rest of the blood products, the blood products then run out of the tube, down a line where it mixes with an anticoagulant (to keep it flowing) and collects in a small resevoir. Once a pint of blood has been collected in the resevoir, the machine stops and enters the next cycle, in which the blood and is then pumped back into the body. The anticoagulant used (citric acid) gave me an awful metallic taste in my mouth and made my lips tingle at first. Once the resevoir is empty again, the first cycle begins again and this continues until 520 to 820 ml of plasma is collected. Once the process is complete, the machine automatically switched off, with the machine chirrpring and moniter screen showing the process is complete. Then the phlebotomist then changed the settings so that an infusion of normal saline drip was given to help rehydrate me and prevent dizziness; however at normal room temperature (15 to 20 degrees below normal body temperature), the saline feels cold and made me shiver, I think next time I'll bring a blanket! The tape holding the tubing in place on my arm was removed (and I got free hair removal on my arm :p) and the needle was removed and a piece of colorful elastic bandage was wrapped around my arm. I got a purple one, only my favorite color. I felt well with no side effects and so was released. I then checked out on the finger scanner, receiving $20 credited a a debit card I received, a worthy incentive I might add. Overall, the process wasn't that bad nor that big of a deal and I look forward to donating again in the near future.

Also, the following is a pretty thorough, honest, and informative article about plasma donation:
Pimping For Plasma - The Truth Behind Plasma “Donations”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Legal but No Safer - Shoddy Abortion Practices Continue in the U.S.

This article will be addressing continuing unsafe abortion practices in the United States. Let me start out with an excerpt of an article:
"Although thousands of abortion procedures are performed every year without incident, the procedure does carry risks, and some complications of abortion can be extremely serious, even life-threatening. In certain cases, negligence on the part of a medical professional can cause or contribute to complications of abortion. Women who have procedures performed incorrectly or incompletely may suffer complications of abortion including perforation of the uterus, infection, and endotoxic shock. Some complications of abortion are long-term, such as the possibility of an increased risk for certain cancers and ectopic pregnancies. Patients should be warned of the risk of complications of abortion before deciding to go ahead with the procedure, but surgical mistakes and medical negligence are not considered acceptable risks." 

Despite legalization, women are continuing to experience and die from abortion complications; however, women are dying from foreseeable and preventable complications due to inexcusable poor clinic conditions and carelessness and neglect on the part of abortion providers, which is supported by the following statistics and actual cases.

According to the CDC Abortion Surveillance taken during the years 1972 to 2002, the total number of deaths due to legal induced abortion were highest before the 1980s (despite widespread legalization in 1973) and during the years 1972 to 2002 there were more deaths due to legal abortions than illegal abortions, with a steady trend of of  12.6 abortion deaths average  a year in the United States (see table 19), however the CDC admits that because these data are reported voluntarily, several limitations and under-reporting exist (see Limitations). Medscape's continuing medical education website, E-Medicine, features the following complication and mortality statistics for abortion:
Abortion Complications: complications of spontaneous and therapeutic abortions include (1) complications of anesthesia, (2) postabortion triad (ie, pain, bleeding, low-grade fever), (3) hematometra, (4) retained products of conception, (5) uterine perforation, (6) bowel and bladder injury, (7) failed abortion, (8) septic abortion, (9) cervical shock, (10) cervical laceration, and (11) disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). Frequency of complications depends on gestational age at time of abortion and method of abortion. Reported complication rates according to gestational age at time of abortion are as follows: for 8 weeks and under - Less than 1% or less than 17,300 women will experience complications, for 8-12 weeks - 1.5 to 2% or 25,950 to 34,600 women, 12-13 weeks - 3 to 6% or 51,900 to 103,800 women, Second trimester - Up to 50% or 865,000 women, possibly higher.

Mortality and morbidity depend on gestational age (GA) at time of abortion. In the US, mortality rates per 100,000 abortions are as follows: (1) fewer than 8 weeks - 0.5; (2) 11-12 weeks -2.2; (3) 16-20 weeks - 14; and (4) more than 21 weeks- 18. Let me put this into perspective for you. Consider that in 2002, 1.3 million abortions were preformed and and 430,000 spontaneous abortions occured in the United States, (source: Unintended Pregnancy Statistics) for this purpose, a total of 1.73 million, correlating the number of total spontaneous and elective abortions to the above mortality rates for spontaneous and elective abortions,  this translates to the following statistic number of mortalities (or deaths) which occur for spontaneous and elective abortions (but keep in mind the actual numbers may be higher or lower), (1) fewer than 8 weeks, 8.7 deaths, (2)11-12 weeks, 38 deaths, (3) 16-20 weeks, 242 deaths, 4) more than 21 weeks, 311 deaths.

Cases of Legal Abortion Deaths from 2000-201

Abortion Reportedly Kills Woman in New York at A1 Medicine Abortion Center
The below news reporting agencies also confirm LifeSite's news report
Woman Dies While Undergoing Apparent Abortion - WPIX TV New York
New York Daily News: Queens clinic A1 Medicine probed after Alexandra Nunez is fatally injured

New York, NY -- A New York woman has apparently died as a result of a failed abortion done at the A-1 Women's Care abortion center located in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. Reports indicate emergency officials responded to an emergency call from the A1 Medicine facility at 95-45 Roosevelt on Monday afternoon.

WPIX-TV indicates a woman in her 30s was reportedly undergoing heavy bleeding and was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital Center where she was later pronounced dead.

The television station indicates an investigation into the failed abortion is ongoing and that one question officials are examining is whether the center was licensed to do abortions.

Another local media outlet, 1010 WINS, indicated the abortion practitioner severed an artery during the abortion procedure.

The A-1 Women's Care abortion business does abortions but advertises gynecology and plastic surgery on the sign located outside the building.

No one from the abortion business answered the phone when contacted it for information or a quote about this story.

The New York state department of health lists A1 Medicine as a facility for plastic surgery accredited by The Joint Commission on July 13, 2009.

Other media reports indicate the second-floor office specializes in plastic surgery, laser wrinkle surgery, skin depigmentation and liposuction but does abortions as well.

Local news agencies indicated the center was still taking appointments for abortions.

This failed abortion comes after a California medical board said an abortion practitioner who killed a woman last year in a botched abortion must stop doing them. However, to the chagrin of pro-life advocates, a judge did not revoke the medical license of Andrew Rutland, as happened years ago before reinstating it.

Rutland surrendered his license in October 2002 after a two-year state investigation that resulted in accusations of negligence, misconduct and incompetence in his treatment of 20 pregnant women, newborns and gynecological patients

Rutland faced a Thursday hearing in front of the California Medical Board at a hearing in San Diego after documents showed Rutland killed a woman during an abortion by administering anesthesia to her and not knowing the proper dosage.

A judge ordered Rutland to stop doing abortions until a more thorough hearing on the case could be held.
Also late-term abortion provider Pierre Renelique's FL medical license was revoked following his part in the alleged murder of neonate, Shaunice Williams. Renelique was the abortion provider on call when in 2006, Sycloria Williams delivered a live baby girl, who she named Shaunice, during a botched abortion. A Gyn Diagnostics clinc owner Belkis Gonzalez allegedly then killed the neonate and threw her body in a biohazard bag and onto her Hialeah, FL, clinic roof to hide the evidence from police. Pierre Renelique preformed a D&E on the client and then falsified the records to cover Renelique's mistake. On February 16, 2009, the State of FL revoked Renelique's medical license and a lawsuit against him is pending. Pierre Renelique then moved and began to practice medicine again, this time in NY. However his past caught up with him and NY officials put Renelique on a 2-year probation.
(sources: here, here, and here)

Also this follows Abortion practitioner Alberto Hodari, based in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, fined $10,000 in 2009, by a state board in connection with a woman's botched abortion death (source). Hodari is facing civil and possibly criminal charges after he allegedly had a staffer hold a teen down and performed an abortion on her against her will (source). Also Hodari was implicated in the death of Tamia Russell, a 15 years old girl who died in January of 2004, after an abortion at over 26 weeks gestation. The abortion was arrainged by her boyfriend's sister and paid for by her 24 yrs old boyfriend, who paid Hodari $2,000 in cash. Tamia died from complications of the abortion less than 24 hours after the procedure at Hodari's Womancare clinic of Southfield/Lathrup Village (source). Most recently, a lawsuit filed January 28, 2010, is accusing Hodari of assault and battery for committing a intrauterine abortion on a woman who was actually carrying an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Hodari and the clinic failed to inform the woman of the ectopic pregnancy and to properly treat the ectopic pregnancy, instead preforming an unncessary intrauterine abortion (source). Hodari and/or his Womancare clinic have a number of lawsuits against them: All cases can be accessed by visiting the county’s circuit court office (from which the case was filed), just present the case number. Current Oakland County files may be sent to a personal e-mail address for a charge of $1 per a page at:

The following are other client cases as well as disciplinary action against doctors and clinics; evidence of the continuing medical malpractice and neglect occuring within the practice of abortion services.

Kimberly K. Neil : Date of Death: May 22, 2000. Place of Death: Family Planning Associates, Los Angeles, California. Abortionist: Kenneth L. Wright. "Fresno Abortion Practitioner Sued for Abortion Death, Botched Abortion." Fresno Bee, August 18, 2001; "Kenneth Wright Loses Abortion Patient.", August 22, 2001.

Nicey Washington, age 26, : Date of Death: June 6, 2000. Place of Death: Ambulatory Surgery Center, Brooklyn, New York. Abortionist: Unknown. "City, State Probe Patient Death at Abortion Clinic." New York Post, June 9, 2000.

L'Echelle Renee Head, 21,  died October 11, 2000. Place of Death: Dayton Women's Services, Dayton, Ohio. Abortionist:

Brenda A. Vise : Date of Death: September 12, 2001. Place of Death: Volunteer Women's Medical Clinic, Knoxville, Tennessee. Abortionist: RU-486 death. Christine Hall. "Lawsuit Alleges Medical Malpractice in RU-486-Related Death.", September 3, 2002. Jane Roe of Vancouver, BC : Date of Death: August 31, 2001. Place of Death: Vancouver, British Columbia. Abortionist: RU-486 death. Celeste McGovern. "Woman Dies in Canadian Abortion-Pill Testing." National Catholic Register, October 7-13, 2001.

Diana Lopez, age 25 : Date of Death: February 28, 2002. Place of Death: Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, California. Abortionist: Mark Maltzer. Sandra Schmerz. Diana Lopez, a 25-year-old Huntington Park woman, bled to death after her cervix was punctured during the procedure.
Los Angeles County Coroner's Report #2002-01721

Cherry Hill Women's Center; Dr. Charles Benjamin

Cherry Hill, New Jersey - 2003
Failure to obtain parental consent and informed consent

Settled out of court
Holly Patterson : Date of Death: September 17, 2003. Place of Death: Planned Parenthood of Hayward, California. Abortionist: RU-486 abortion pill fatality. Kara Platoni. "The Making of a Martyr." East Bay Express, December 17, 2003; Julian Guthrie. "Pregnant Teen's Death Under Investigation." San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2003; "Parents of Abortion Drug Victim Sue Drug Company and Planned Parenthood." Culture & Cosmos [Culture of Life Foundation], December 28, 2004 [Volume 2, Number 22].

Leigh Ann Stephens Alford, age 34, died November 26, 2003 of complications of an abortion preformed by Malachy DeHenre and Andy Kanengiser at Summit Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama, which resulted in the suspension of the license of one of the abortion providers.
"Abortion Death Cited in Action Against Doctor: Ala. Suspends License of Jackson Abortion Practitioner." The Clarion Ledger, August 14, 2004; Associated Press, August 19, 2004.

Oriane Shevin, age 34 : Date of Death: June 14, 2005. Place of Death: Eve Surgical Center, Los Angeles, California. Abortionist: Unknown. Maria L. La Ganga. "FDA Warns Patients." Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2005.
Christin Gilbert, a young woman with Down Syndrome, died January 2005 as results of complications of an abortion procedure preformed by George Tiller at Women's Health Care Services, Wichita, Kansas. "Woman's Death After Abortion Not a Crime, Jury Finds." The Wichita Eagle, August 1, 2006.

Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio Region

Ohio - 2005
Failure to obtain parental consent; failure to report statutory rape
Case status not known

Dr. Deborah Levich - Medical license suspended

Alabama - 2006 Use of early-term abortion pill on late-term patient
Erica Goode, died February 14, 2007 Planned Parenthood, Riverside, California.  Edrica Goode, 21, went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Riverside for an abortion Jan. 31 and that a nurse inserted cervical dilators, used to gradually expand the cervix in preparation for second-trimester abortions, despite the fact that the nurse noted Goode had a vaginal infection. Goode then became feverish and disoriented and did not report back to the abortion clinic for the removal of the dilators. Goode's mother, Aletheia Meloncon, was unaware of the abortion. She described her daughter as having become "mentally unstable." She took her to a Moreno Valley hospital where, due to a lack of knowledge about the abortion, proper treatment was delayed and she eventually died.,0,885364.story?coll=la-home-local

Smith, Laura Hope : Date of Death: September 13, 2007. Place of Death: Women's Health Center, Hyannis, Massachusetts. Abortionist: Rapin Osathanondh. Gail Besse. "Abortion Business Death Raises Questions." National Catholic Register, October 21-27, 2007; Steven Ertelt. "Mainstream Media Finally Reports Massachusetts Woman's Abortion Death.", October 22, 2007.
Abortion Malpractice: Exploring the Safety of Legal Abortion

Metropolitan Medical Associates: Dr. Keith Gresham & Dr. Nicholas Kotopoulos
Englewood, New Jersey - 2007
Medical malpractice
Settled out of court

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri
Overland Park, Kansas - 2007
Providing unlawful late-term abortions
Case Status: Ongoing,2933,302919,00.html

Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California - 2008 Medicaid fraud
Case status not known

Dr. Hamid Hussain Sheikh
Lexington, Kentucky
2008 Unsanitary abortion facility, Medicaid fraud
Case Status: Ongoing, medical license suspended

James Pendergraft
Orlando, Florida - 2008
Medical malpractice
Medical license suspended

Dr. Rapin Osathanondh
Massachusetts - 2008
Medical negligence resulting in maternal death
Case Status: Ongoing. Medical license revoked.

Planned Parenthood of Nebraska and Council Bluffs; Dr. Meryl Severson
Lincoln, Nebraska - 2007
Botched abortion: perforated uterus
Case status not known

South Dakota Planned Parenthood
Sioux Falls, South Dakota - 2009
Failure to comply with informed consent law

Planned Parenthood of San Antonio
San Antonio, Texas - 2009
Performing abortions without a license

Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest
Spokane, Washington - 2009
Medicaid fraud, drug distribution by unauthorized personnel

Gentilly Medical Clinic for Women
New Orleans, Louisiana
2010 Violation of state health standards
Medical license revoked

James Pendergraft, medical license suspended according to a order on the Florida board of medicine website
365 Women Who Have Been Killed by "Safe" and Legal Abortion

Abortion Deaths Prior To and After Legalization

Abortion Lawsuits Archive

It's time to put women's safety first. It's time for abortion-rights activist to also step up to the plate and demand better care for women.