The Pingpong of the Abyss

{January 22, 2009}   On being a pro-choice mama

This is one of my contributions to the Roe v Wade Blog-a-thon.

pro-choiceIt’s weird, the reactions I’ve gotten in the past when expressing my opinion on abortion. I censor myself 90% of the time when the subject comes up because, living in Texas, I expect most people to be horrified by the topic, and a lot of the time when I do end up getting into conversations about reproductive rights and my pro-choice stance, people do end up being horrified. Somehow, a lot of that horror comes from the fact that I dare parent an 18 month boy while being okay with abortion, and while in fact being 100% sure that if I were ever to fall pregnant again (thanks, English people), I would get one myself.

Why does my mama-hood make me somehow incapable of holding a pro choice opinion? I think people expect those of us who have kids to blur the lines between the fetus and the smiling, screaming, sack of crazy that is our kid. It’s a similar attitude that I came across while I was pregnant, when I was expected to read books to my belly and coo at it and shit, while I really had no attachment to the fetus inside me and had difficulty humanizing it until the it became a he after my son was born. And the attitude I’ve gotten from people when they learn that one kid is enough for me and I won’t be having anymore. I’ll change my mind, they say. Don’t you miss being pregnant? (what?? no!) But they’re so cute when they’re little…(that’s why we have cameras) He won’t have anybody to play with (last I checked, there were a lot of kids born in 2007 he can hang around). There’s pressure on all women to breed, but by having one kid it’s like people think that a woman has automatically signed her uterus up for the mailing list. Being pro-choice is consider an insult to our existing offspring, a sign that we might be that dastardly, unwomanly thing…non-maternal.

It’s funny, because most pro-choice mamas I talk to became even more pro-choice than they were previously after they had kids. It’s easy to see why, if you’re already in the pro-choice camp. Pregnancy kicks your ass, and if you understand how hard it is to go through–and how hard it is to take care of the little buggers afterwards–then it’s hard to wish to force that on another person. Especially those of us who got pregnant at young ages in less than ideal situations.


{January 20, 2009}   Bush —-> Obama quickies


First of all, hell yeah, Barack Hussein Obama is the new prez of the USA.

That means no more Bush! That also means that Bush is coming home to Texas. Goddammit.

Bush, by the way, one of whom’s last acts was to pardon former Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean, who were serving a sentance for shooting a drug smuggler as he was running away, and then trying to cover the incident up. Great message to send to all governmental gun carriers, Mr (ex) President! Especially after the recent death of Oscar Grant in Oakland. And for the last time, journalists and bloggers, stop calling the guy they shot an illegal immigrant. He was a drug smuggler. That doesn’t make him evil and it doesn’t make it okay that he was shot, but that’s not what the word immigrant means.

Anyway, now we can finally stop wondering whether President Obama will actually do what he talks about and start finding out. In the next month, I expect to see things like the global gag rule and don’t ask don’t tell gone, and in the next 100 days we’ll be seeing what Obama does about immigration, particularly the Dream Act.

{January 18, 2009}   Women in detention

The Univeristy of Arizona has released a report about the conditions that women face while in U.S. immigration detention, along with recommendations for solutions. As has been apparent for awhile, the conditions of detained migrants who require medical treatment, whether for cancer or pregnancy, are dangerous. Female detainees interviewed in this report describe being told to “exercise and watch your diet” when complaining about severe abdominal pain after experiencing female genital mutilation, being given aspirin to treat diagnosed cervical cancer, and going without medical care late in pregnancy.

Women are also denied access to CPS to protect their children, or contact with their children, period.

More than any other issue, separation from their families was identified by women as the most difficult aspect of detention.199 Table 4 captures the impact of detention on the family of each woman interviewed. As the table reflects, of the 21 women interviewed, all but three were separated from U.S. citizen children. The majority of these children were under the age of 10. Not only were the women separated from their families, but in many cases their families were in different states, making visitation extremely unlikely. Twelve of the seventeen currently detained women were transferred to Arizona from out of state.

Four women described their frustrating attempts to communicate with Child Protective Services (CPS) from within detention. They confronted significant obstacles and severe distress in attempting to locate their children and/or negotiate their placement. In two of these cases, the women were unable to locate their children during their detention, and were fearful that they had been turned over to abusive spouses by CPS.200 Two other women were struggling to communicate with CPS over custody disputes from within detention.

My first reaction to this news article, about a few ballads being distributed to various Mexican radio stations in high sender states, was to raise my eyebrow and roll my eyes. But after listening to the songs, I think I can get behind this Border Patrol campaign. Granted, the lyrics could be a little better…

Many people who make the choice to cross the border illegally don’t have much of a choice in the matter. All options available to them may be undesirable. But there are people who cross the border who do have other options, and who choose that one because they don’t realize the danger or, in any case, think that they have luck or God on their side. Maybe these songs, which are an accessible type of information, will make them rethink their options.

Make no mistake: the immigration policy of the United States is in many ways responsible for the many deaths that happen during crossings every year, and this campaign ignores this. It is in no way a full solution to deaths on the border, but it is at least something that may save a few lives while we are waiting for reform.

et cetera