Monday, April 28, 2014

Lone Mississippi Clinic Fights to Remain Open

There is only one abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. Let that sit and marinate for a moment. For the entire state, there is only one clinic providing safe abortion services to the women of Mississippi. This alone is enough to make you shake your head in disbelieve, but the worst is yet to come. In 2012, Jackson's Women's Health Organization required its doctors to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals. After unsuccessful attempts (due to local hospital's "not wanting to deal with the potential political backlash" after granting the 2 doctors admitting privilege) the clinic is now "non- compliant." This TRAP (targeted regulations against providers) law is one of many throughout the U.S. designed to stop women from having abortions. Elected officials try to validate their war on women by saying that these and similar laws are meant to protect women or keep them safe. Newsflash: an abortion is on of these safest medical procedures! Also, the governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant, has went on record saying that he will sign any anti- abortion bill because he essentially wants to overturn Roe v. Wade and abolish abortion in the U.S.

Anti- abortion legislation is not meant to protect or keep women safe; it's quite the opposite. When women don't have access to safe and affordable reproductive health care such as abortion services, we will resort to unsafe measures to end an unwanted pregnancy. Stripping women of their constitutional right to have an abortion or implementing laws that restrict access to such services is the problem: not the other way around!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Power of Self-Awareness

I was reflecting on our outreach experience in Pilsen and Little Village. As a Latina I instantly became aware of my own fears. I thought to myself how traditional cultural norms are deeply embedded in me and how this awareness helps me challenge them. Some of my fears consisted of "this is my first time doing this, what will I say if someone is judgmental?" "How will I react if someone curses me for the work I believe in and feel passionate about" As I began to engage in conversation with local community members I became surprised by their response to the information I was sharing with them. I remember talking with one older woman who was setting up her local business and as I explained to her the work we did, she smiled and shared how thankful she was that we were out here in her community sharing this information. She shared her concerns of young Latina girls not being able to have the access to exercise all their choices because of the lack of education that exist. I thought to myself how in many ways this woman challenged my assumptions of the community. Here I was assuming (as in many cases at some point we all do) that because Pilsen and Little Village are predominately a Latino heavily religious community I would instantly get backlash.  I truly was thankful for my interaction with her, she taught me something new and reminded of the importance of this work. How powerful is to talk with people in the community, to engage in important conversation, to learn from our elders.

Although I encountered people who were receptive I also experienced unpleasent experiences and I thought to myself, what do I win in treating this person with the same disrespect. My mother has taught me the importance of practicing compassion with a challenging individual. When we practice compassion we are able to see through their negative behavior. I reflected and thought did this individual react this way due to fear? Fear of the different? Did she react this way because she felt I disrespected her values, norms and beliefs? In social work we learn of the importance of meeting the client where they are. I believe I should carry this kind of thinking with every interaction, I can't pressure someone to shift their thinking if they simply are not ready.  When we practice kindness, patience, compassion we are able to make impact and change. Sometimes we want to rush things, rush thought process, rush c-h-a-n-g-e. Activism creates change, but we have to practice it every single day, remain persistent, have a positive outlook even in times when we feel most defeated.

It is important to remain self- aware. Our self-awareness will help us make the best decisions in our every day interactions.