Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Interdimensional Compassion



Ben’s the baby of the family, but don’t try calling him that. Even with a limited vocabulary he still knows how to clap back. “BIG DUDE” he’ll insist, referring to himself. Then the follow-up under his breath: “POO,” -a curse word ‘round these parts - which we usually humor with a dramatic gasp. He loves it. Of course, the effect is more impactful if everyone in the room stops what they’re doing to be collectively offended.

Having someone with Down syndrome in your life is like having stepped through an interdimensional gateway. Things are different here. Before I arrived, I
was aware that people with special needs were “out there” but they were probably being cared for by someone infinitely more benevolent than myself -- like angels or something, the kind with fluffy wings and halos. They lived in a separate place that I could only imagine. I always just thought, “Good for them!”


But now everything has shifted. I’ve been allowed to crossover into this dimension. Ben’s dimension.


In this separate place the world is brimming with hurt, healing, and more purpose than I know how to handle. I didn’t know I could feel this much and I didn’t know there were so many people who needed me - who I also needed. Benjamin was my family’s little “interdimensional gateway,” and since we stepped through things have never been the same.


When Ben gets up in the morning he's a zombie, which makes getting him ready for school an adventure for my mom. He'll fall asleep while eating breakfast or flop back in bed right before the bus arrives. (Lots of fun. My mom loves that...) Yesterday, three and a half minutes before the bus was going to pull up my mom was running around the house calling his name and panicking. That's never a good thing to hear with little siblings. I jumped out of bed and flew down the stairs to ask if she’d found him. He was downstairs in our basement, showing our pet snake his homework. My dad is a science teacher. We like weird pets. Ben had his little "Letter S" print off from the day before up against the glass. "SNAKE," he instructed. Now when we don't know where he is, we check the basement.


One time someone told my mom aborting a child because they had Down syndrome was totally justified. Ben just happened to be sitting there on her lap at the moment. I was floored. I had never been so baffled. Instinctively, I needed to get my brother as far away from that person as possible. Mom cried. I cried. We drove to a park and Ben scratched away with chalk on the Buffalo city sidewalk next to my siblings.


He’s ours. Ben is ours.” I told mom, because seeing her cry is never a good thing. “He could have been someone else’s, someone who wouldn’t want him. But he’s all ours. We get to love him.” She hugged me.


Ben is small but his world -- this dimension we’ve found ourselves in -- is growing.

To say that people with special needs don’t deserve a shot at life is to say that Ben has no value. And nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do we need to protect people like Ben, but we need to celebrate every moment they’re here with us.


Mom and Dad told us when he was born that things were going to be... different. How different? None of us knew.


We were scared. Mom cried -- and like I said, when mom cries it’s weird. The apocalypse could be vacuuming the final vestiges of habitability from the planet and my mom would be sitting there in the fruit cellar handing out freeze-dried ice cream and canned beans while maintaining some semblance of “cool” and assuring everyone that it was gonna be okay.


It might as well have been the apocalypse with how we carried on.


How long would he live? Would he be... happy? We googled furiously for answers, as if an extra chromosome could possibly affect how much love we were willing to offer. We were experiencing the shift – taking those first few steps into Ben’s dimension.

Now, on the other side, we’ve emerged with a better understanding of what it means to love.


I call it empathy but my sister calls it Down syndrome radar…. (It actively takes every cell in her being not to pounce on special needs classmates and cover them in hugs and kisses.) Our compassion vocabulary is expanding rapidly. And there’s a mischievous wink we get to share with special needs families. “You’ve made it here too, huh? Good news, we understand you! And guess what? We’re here for you.”


And it doesn’t stop there. Our world is bigger. There is a burden for those who hurt, for those who cannot speak for themselves. We wouldn’t give that up for anything.


We are privileged. We are so very privileged. Not everyone has the chance to step through this little gateway. In fact, most actively deny that journey. They slam the portal shut and lock it tight. They tell people like Ben that since there’s a chance what he has to offer isn’t “good enough,” they won’t have any part of it.


“You won’t have a quality life. You’re going to be different. We’re probably both going to suffer, so let’s just not."


Pre-birth screenings are the reason that most Down syndrome children will never have the chance to take their mothers by the hand and guide them through that gateway. Our capacity to show others unconditional love is being traded for a false sense of emotional safety. Does showing compassion hurt? Hell yes. In fact, I think now that I’m living in this other “dimension,” where special needs kids are no longer invisible, life aches more. That ache is what drives me to love them harder. They need it. They want it. And they deserve it.


I get to witness their potential firsthand -- through Ben. And sometimes I see that potential snuffed out. And it hurts, but I have purpose now - learning how to love deeper.


This world needs to heal. But who will heal us and who will teach us how to heal others if we are eliminating every opportunity to step outside of our comfort zones? We don’t need more locks on our interdimensional gates. We need more Bens to let us know that we are strong enough to give our time and our blood and guts to those who desperately need unconditional love.


One last story… Ben went through a phase where he would, well, randomly kiss things when he was in a good mood. We’re still trying to figure out where this came from. I guess if he got comfortable enough with his environment some rogue synapse in his little head would fire more rapidly than usual and induce a desire to show affection by giving whoever (or whatever) was closest, a peck. It was actually really cute. But we found out this habit wasn’t limited to just kisses on the face -- the target had to be eye level for him. At 8, he’s a bit short for his age, around 3 and a half feet tall.


So one day we were out shopping and Ben was walking alongside mom, helping out because he’s a big boy. Suddenly, he started to pucker up. The nearest target: a complete stranger’s... um, posterior. He was gentle and brief, like powdering a macaroon. Mom would have been mortified if the unassuming victim of Ben’s affections hadn’t seen the humor in the situation. I’d like to say we learned a lesson that day, or that we taught Ben something, but we figured it was best to just leave it alone. There’s not really any use in telling someone that they’re showing too much love.


I’ve found that is something that rings true in both dimensions.

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Post by Jake Romano

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pro-Choices

Had the pleasure of speaking at a 40 Days rally this morning and as I was leaving this gentleman stopped me. He said a few years ago he heard me speak at an event about my teen pregnancy. I mentioned how no one could've made me feel any worse than I already felt for putting myself (and now an innocent child) into that predicament at 16.
If I would've been met with shame or anger, I would've welcomed it oddly enough, because it's what I felt I deserved. I hated me. And I thought everyone else should hate me too.
But to my surprise, no one did. They loved me. They supported me. They offered me options. They cut through my self-loathing with love. They helped me eliminate the crisis, not the pregnancy.
I know how lucky I was to have had that. Not a day goes by that I take it for granted. ALL WOMEN deserve that kind of support.
He said my story impacted his activism, and that's when I read his sign. Then suddenly realized how bad my allergies had gotten and excused myself.

This is the Prolife movement, y'all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I just read a quote that gave me chills...


"'Mother' is the name for god on the lips and hearts of children."

What an incredible thought. Take a moment not to be offended, but instead soak that sentiment in.
To a child that knows nothing more, this is the power a mother holds. We are everything. Their giver of life, their protector, their nurturer, their shelter, their food source... everything.
When did we stop embracing that power?
When did we stop celebrating it?
When did it become something to destroy?
When did we become at odds with those that depend on us for everything?
We control their entire universe yet feel "empowered" when we destroy it. How? And why?
Just because we can?
Because we are bigger and stronger and have the power to do so? As a feminist that sounds awfully familiar.
The power to create and destroy. The power to give life and take it.... I guess that does make us gods, huh? But isn't that everything people hate about God? How He allows evil, and destruction, and death. After every natural disaster, after every school shooting, after every act of terrorism people are always asking where "God" was and why he didn't stop the violence.
Yet, when the violence is suddenly a "woman's right to choose" we are silent in the face of human oppression.
Our ability to destroy another human being simply because they are powerless against our aggression, and can't say no... that will never be a human "right." Because that is the very definition of oppression.
We have so much power.
But how will we use it? For good or evil? To give life or take it?
Violence against human beings - no matter how vulnerable, weak, or unwanted they are - that can never be something that we champion as feminists, or people.
We fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
And because of that, abortion is the human rights violation of our lifetime.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Can you imagine a world without abortion?

What would it look like? Pro-choicers want us to believe it would be filled with hemorrhaging women, self-aborting and dying in the streets, but I'm not buying that. 


When I imagine what the world would look like if our fertility were treated as the super power it is, and the life of the unborn human given the respect it deserves, I see a place that's a whole hell of a lot more pro-woman than what we have now. 


Think about it. Currently when a low-income woman gets pregnant (or a young woman, or a single woman, or really any woman who doesn't have a life deemed “suitable” by society to bring children into) she is met with all types of hostility. Simply for having the audacity to, ya know, actually have the kid that clearly already exists inside her womb.
She basically has to make her case for why she should be able to STAY pregnant and how she plans on supporting said child with the least amount of inconvenience to society as possible. 


Her partner resents her; her boss resents her; her community resents her. She and her child--whose life is considered "a choice" (and because she CHOSE to keep the baby this is all her responsibility of course)--are now a burden to others. An inconvenience. This makes the fertile female person a liability to employers and partners. 


But what if we lived in a world that realized that once a new life had come into existence, the time for "choosing" whether or not it existed, was over? What if we lived in a world where that woman, no matter her age, income, or status, was accommodated rather than resented? 


Because more than 50 million unborn children have been aborted over the last 43-years, we can't know how society would have accommodated women if such a high number had continued with their pregnancies. 


Had the unborn person not been viewed as disposable, the world would've had to adjust.

Our culture and our corporations would have had to accept that--guess what!--women sometimes grow new people in their bodies and it's freakin' amazing. And not only should we respect the hell out of that, but we as a society might want to help a sister out a little bit more because without happy healthy women, society screeches to a halt. 


Unfortunately, we don't live in that world though. We live in a world where if you experience an unplanned pregnancy you are expected to work twice as hard to make up for you fertility. That child is not a blessing, it's a burden. It's not a person, it's a problem. 


Because abortion is an option, when a woman doesn't "choose" to terminate her pregnancy, by default she's choosing to burden her employer, her partner, her community. 


And we hate her for it. 

Abortion creates a world that is undeniably anti-woman. 
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Post by Destiny

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


We cannot compete with Planned Parenthood. 
It's time we admit that.


     There are thousands of pro-life groups who are doing great things individually and offering pieces of what PP does, but I've yet to come across one nationwide entity that is offering comparable services, sans abortion.

     Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are the closest thing we have to that, and let's be honest, they're more like the DMV than PP. So if a woman does not have a strong conviction against going to an abortion provider for her healthcare she is going to pick Planned Parenthood every time. She can schedule an appointment there, get all of her well woman services in one place, and get in and out in a timely manner.

     I can hardly blame women for being defensive when we talk about taking that away, without replacing it with something better.

     That said, I wonder what would happen if we stopped putting all of our efforts into "defunding" Planned Parenthood and instead started actively working to create an alternative. Pregnancy Centers are great resources for PREGNANT women, but guess what, women still need healthcare even when they're not pregnant. And letting uninsured, low income women go without annual breast exams and cervical screenings is not pro-life.

     I say this as an uninsured woman myself. I've been able to experience this lack of options first hand.

     However, I'm not one to complain about a problem without offering a solution. And it's worth noting that it took Planned Parenthood 100 years and millions of dollars in blood money to create the monopoly they currently have on women's "healthcare."

     Pro-life outreach usually COSTS us money, so we're going to have to get creative. The services already exist, the main thing we're missing is the network that links these resources together.

     Five years ago I felt called to start an app that would help uninsured and underinsured women find healthcare.

     It would be similar to "Around Me," but instead of showing you nearby bars and coffee shops, it would drop pins for Maternity Homes, Pregnancy Resource Centers, Pro-life Doctors who offer free/low cost services, FQHC, WIC offices, Free Sonograms, etc.

     The fact that this type of app doesn't already exist honestly blows my mind, and as a movement we should be ashamed that we haven't created it yet.

     THIS is how we take down Planned Parenthood. We offer COMPARABLE alternatives through a vast network of pro-life resources, in turn giving women real options and practical support.

     It would not be as easy as "Around Me" since we couldn't simply hook it up to a Google algorithm. The resources would have to be vetted, up-to-date, and entered into the network manually in order to guarantee that they are all life-affirming facilities. But it could be done if different pro-life groups adopted cities or states and committed to do this for the women and unborn children (and born children!) in their communities.

     Most sidewalk counselors already have this information gathered. It's usually in a big, bulky box that they haul around when offering alternatives outside of the clinics. But could you imagine being able to offer those same resources to women not just at the clinic, and from the palm of your hand?

     For me this is personal because I encountered a young woman 3-years-ago and wasn't able to help. I had already had this idea when I found myself in a Walmart bathroom, washing my daughter's hands over the sink. I looked up into the mirror and noticed an empty pregnancy test box on the floor of the stall behind us.

     You aren't in a good place when you're taking a pregnancy test in a Walmart bathroom. I knew I could help her but I didn't know how to without invading her privacy. I knew what the resources in my area were but I didn't know how to get them to this complete stranger locked in the stall behind me, without crossing quite a few boundaries.

     Could you imagine if I had a simple business card that read, "Help Assist Her - Women's Healthcare Resources In The Palm Of Your Hand" that I could've slipped under the stall door?

     I can, because I imagine it quite frequently. Such a simple act could've saved a life. I don't know whatever happened to that woman or her child, but I want to make this app for her and all of the women like her that we could reach.

     I don't know how this is going to happen, but I know there are enough of us here who are sick and tired of being against Planned Parenthood and are ready to be FOR something better.

     So if you think you can help, or know someone who could, please contact us. It's high time that Help Assist Her became a reality.



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Amanda Marcotte Just Makes Shit Up

So evidently this is how modern day online journalism works now. You decide you hate someone and then go and cobble out the villain you want them to be from work that they're only distantly connected to. 

Exhibit A:

Like literally she just removed the word "not" so that it would have to opposite meaning and then slapped it by my name. Are you effing kidding me, Salon?

Marcotte then goes on to attributed someone else's words from a blog post (which she actually links to in her "article," y'all… showing the other person's attribution and all) and claims it was MY story about giving up contraceptive. {Note to self: Let husband know about this update in our sex life.}



So basically this is how internet "news" works these days. Good to know. NWF *official* response:



*all of those words were in her article or articles people she knows have written before 
so I put them together in a sentence I liked better. 



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Empowering Exploitation

Originally published by the Dallas Morning News

“She looked so much like my daughter…”

That was the thought that kept rolling around in my head as I drove to work after an early morning coffee with a friend. We were sitting outside of a Starbucks in North Dallas, enjoying the beautiful fall weather and brainstorming about ways we could reach more women globally through our activism, when I saw this young girl walking through the parking lot.

She was probably all of 5-feet tall, with a thin frame and light brown wavy hair cascading passed her shoulders... just like my daughters. Her legs were tan but not in the fashionable way you’d expect in an affluent Texas city. As she walked her shorts crept up and down on her thighs, exposing a very defined tan line which was a deep red around the edges. I couldn’t tell if it was the beginning stages of a burn or the end of the healing process, either way she’d clearly been standing out in the sun for quite some time wearing those shorts. My daughter has a similar pair which she usually throws on over her leotard on the way to gymnastics practice.

The young woman had beads of sweat covering her face, but given the cool morning breeze, I knew it wasn’t from the weather. Her eyes were darting back and forth as she neared our table. I’d stopped talking to my friend mid-sentence and with everything in my being tried to mentally will the girl to come over to us. My silent prayer was that once she got closer she might pause long enough that we could offer her a cup of coffee, or something to eat. Anything to be able to talk to her. After all, here we were trying to think of ways to "love women better" around the world, all the while she was being “loved” the wrong way in our own backyard.

A few months back I had stopped at the gas station across the street from that Starbucks. I noticed a giant fishbowl of 25 cent condoms near the register. It seemed so odd to me, and when I made a comment to the clerk he responded with, “Yeah, they are big sellers here.”

“Here?” What did that mean?

It didn’t take long for me to start noticing young women standing near the lights at this particular intersection every time I passed. Often they’d be accompanied by a male. Unlike the usual panhandlers in that area they were never holding signs though. Just standing. Quietly advertising.

So when this girl, who was probably only 6 or 7 years older than my 10-year-old daughter, blew passed us without pausing as she headed towards the run down hotel behind Starbucks, my heart broke. I knew why her legs were so sun-kissed. I knew why her face was so damp. I wondered if she was ever in gymnastics. I wondered if her mother ever had to wrangle that beautiful wavy hair into a top bun before practice. How did she get here? She doesn’t belong here. No woman belongs here.

Women are being exploited on street corners and sold in back pages across the country because we claim sex work is all about agency and it can even be empowering. Perhaps to a select few, but let's not kid ourselves, those few are privileged. The ones who are truly choosing to sell themselves like property with clear and sober minds are not the norm. The average woman, or girl in many cases, is escaping abuse and pursuing addiction. She is stuck in a vicious cycle that makes her more vulnerable than any child should ever be. And she need compassion, not criminal charges. She needs rehabilitation, not a rap sheet.

In just a few years that girl’s young face will have aged by decades. She will no longer look like my daughter, but she will still be someone’s child. 

She will still be someone. 


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Post by Destiny