Thursday, November 27, 2008


The Obamas were interviewed on Barbara Walter's special last night. They were so comfortable, so sure of themselves, so happy. So geared up and ready to begin their work. And so adorable together as a couple.

I am truly thankful that we have, in some real way, perhaps not for everyone, but at least for the president(!), moved beyond the world described in this poem by Langston Hughes:

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed -
I, too, am America.

- Langston Hughes, 1925

(Thanks to Girl With Pen for sharing this poem.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's time to talk

There is a blog rally going on today, trying to get families to talk about end-of-life issues while they are together during the Thanksgiving holidays. It's part of something called "Engage With Grace: The One Slide Project."

Here are the questions:

Working, as I do, on a project about end-of-life care with children, it seems to me like a no-brainer to have these conversations with adults. All adults.

Although, it will be interesting to see if I'm actually able to bring up this topic at the Thanksgiving table tomorrow. We'll see how it goes....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More on abortion

Since yesterday's post, I've been thinking more about what it takes to be an abortion provider, and how to get the proper training. It seems to me that it might make more sense for OB/GYNs or family practice docs to learn how to do abortions and then do them as part of their practice, instead of that being the only thing they do. It may well be that this is the case already. I'll bet that there are OB/GYNs out there and other docs who will perform abortions for their patients if they need them, but they don't advertise that fact.

And why would they? If you advertise that you provide abortions, then you put yourself at risk of the wrath (or worse) of the pro-life, anti-choice folks. In Boston, in the '90s, a mentally-ill pro-lifer went on a shooting spree at 2 abortion clinics on Beacon Street, killing several people in one day. It was really terrible.

I was also thinking that the typical abortion procedure, a vacuum aspiration or D&C (dilation and curettage), is something that most OB/GYNs are taught in their residencies. Vacuum aspirations and D&Cs are done for many reasons other than abortion; if a woman has a miscarriage, or has abnormal bleeding for some reason, they will scrape out the lining of the uterus using one of these procedures. So why is it that med students don't feel they have the proper training to provide abortions? I'm still trying to understand.

The bottom line is, you can have laws that allow abortion, but if no one will provide them, what good are the laws?

Monday, November 24, 2008

What it takes

Very interesting article about what it really takes for medical students to become abortion providers, and how complex and difficult it is to be an abortion provider. Here is a sample:
"The everyday pressure of being an abortion provider can be grating: the self-censorship, the disapproving stares of fellow doctors, the social repercussions in small communities. So perhaps it's not surprising that among doctors who said they wanted to provide abortions when they entered their residencies, only 52 percent did so once they were working, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology by Jody Steinauer, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a co-founder of Medical Students for Choice. The young doctors' commitment to abortion rights, she said, may not run as deep as the doctors of Myron Rose's generation, who have vivid memories of women dying from botched, back-alley abortions before Roe v. Wade and who regularly recall the details for medical students."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I kissed a girl - part 2

Okay, now I'm obsessed. Son is still singing the song. Song is stuck in my head. It's a damn catchy song! It's just the words I'm having trouble with...

So I went looking online. Turns out the singer, Katy Perry, was brought up in a Christian household by 2 pastors (figures) and originally sang Christian gospel. She then shifted over to...well...popular music.

I guess one of the reasons I'm obsessed with this right now is that I just went to a lecture at J's school about keeping kids safe online. It was actually a good presentation, and I learned a lot. The question here is, will exposing J to songs like this be harmful to him? I feel like the YouTube video is pretty suggestive, as are the lyrics to the song. On the other hand, if I make a big deal out of it, he'll be even more interested in it. And on the other hand (yes, I have 3 hands), if he actually understands the song (which I don't think he does), maybe it's good for him to have a more flexible understanding of sexual orientation, since the inflexible one we currently have seems to be doing no good in our society.

Stay tuned for part 3.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I kissed a girl

Okay. My 9-year-old son has been running around the house recently singing "I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of cherry chapstick..." I had no idea that it wasn't a song about a boy kissing a girl. I'm a bad mom. I'm clueless.

Tonight, I found out. It's not about a boy. It's about a girl who "kissed a girl and liked it."


Just what my 9-year-old needs to hear.

Look, I used to be a sex ed teacher. I'm no prude. I'm all for gay marriage. I live in Massachusetts for G-d's sake. 9-year-old? What is he learning from this?

So, like any good sex educator, I tried to find out. "So, J, what does that mean?" "It's about a girl who is kissing a girl, Mom," he replied knowingly. "She's not a lesbian. It's just a song, Mom."

"But why is she kissing a girl?"

"I don't know."


Monday, November 17, 2008

A strange space

Now that the election is over, and Obama won, I feel like I'm in a strange space. I'm not worrying about the election anymore, which frees up a lot of psychic energy, but Obama hasn't taken office yet, so there's a strange sense of waiting for something to happen. He is assembling his leadership team, and his choices sound good, but the news there hasn't been terribly exciting. The Republicans have all but admitted that their party is in deep #$%^, but even that, somehow, isn't that satisfying.

I hate to say it, but it feels like the span of time between a death and when the funeral takes place. There is often a day or two (in the Jewish tradition) after which the person has died, but the funeral hasn't happened yet and shiva (the 7 day period of mourning) hasn't begun. And you are just waiting, not really wanting it all to start, but not really wanting to stay in the waiting space either. Neither here nor there.

But this isn't about a death, it's about a victory. But somehow it doesn't feel that way entirely. There are still a lot of bitter feelings among those who lost, and deep divisions in the country. Half the country did NOT vote for Obama, and for whatever reason (political views, cultural issues, religious issues) that they did not vote for him, these reasons still remain. You could say: well, they just have to get over it. Tough luck. Their guy lost. But saying that isn't going to make people feel any differently. Obama is going to have a lot of convincing to do to get the WHOLE country on his side.

I heard some Catholic bishops quoted as saying that Obama is the most anti-life president on record. That hurts. Here is the official statement from the bishops. I just don't understand how these men can have such a narrow view. They clearly have no idea of the complexities of women's lives. It drives me batty.

So I'm living in this strange space. I can't wait for January 20th to get here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A historical look at abortion: "health of the mother"

There's a lot of rhetoric flying around these days about abortion. I've been trying to put my finger on what's bothering me about the tone of the conversation. Here are some thoughts:

It's important to remember that women throughout history have become pregnant when they didn't want to be pregnant, and tried to end the pregnancy through a variety of means. You can read about some of these techniques here.

More recently in the U.S., before Roe v. Wade and legalized abortion, women (or unlicensed abortionists) used coat hangers and other sharp instruments which were inserted into the cervix in an attempt to cause a miscarriage. Various poisons were ingested by women to cause the same thing. Needless to say, these procedures were very dangerous, and some women died due to infection. You can read more about this here.

What some people today forget is that legalizing abortion means that abortion takes place in a medical setting, where it is safe for women. That is the "health of the mother" that McCain puts air quotes around. Women (in the U.S.) used to die having abortions. Now they don't. Women in other countries around the world still die having abortions. They die having babies, too.

Now "pro-life" folks would say: well, we don't want women to have abortions, so why should we be happy that they are safe?

The answer is that some women will seek abortion if they are pregnant and don't want to be. It's that simple. It can be provided in a safe way, to protect the health of women, or in a dangerous way. That's the choice.

Pro-life folks might reply: but what of the health of the baby?

And therein lies the difference. This is the crux of the matter. What is more valuable? The life of a woman who is already here, or the potential life of a fetus?

You know, it's a difficult calculus. I like babies. But I also know that women's lives are complicated, and that every pregnancy is not wanted. And I feel that value should be placed on the person who is already here. Sorry, that's how I feel.

So yes, I feel the health of the mother should be protected first.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Victory and change

He won. Barack Obama is going to be our new president.

There was cheering on the streets, there is celebration here at the office, and the blogosphere is celebrating as well. On Facebook, friends are "joyful," "proud," "ecstatic," and "elated."

Here is a link to Obama's speech from last night. This is only the beginning.

P.S. Since I seem to be speechless, I will let others speak for me. Here is a wonderful (as always) poem and post from the Velveteen Rabbi.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

My 9-year-old son J is as excited as anyone about election day. His school has been doing a big school-wide unit on the election, complete with creating signs urging everyone to vote, lessons about the electoral college (which I hardly understand), and a mock election that will take place today. I'm proud to say he's a big Obama fan, and I've been trying to discuss some of the issues with him (the ones he can understand). I want him to understand how historic a day this will (hopefully) be.

This morning, I was about to step into the shower when J informed me that he and A were walking to the local elementary school to get in line to vote. The polls open at 7 am.

Makes this mother very proud.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It ain't over

'til it's over... but it's almost more day to go.