Friday, June 29, 2007

Funding Choice...

Abortion funding is important to me. There, I said it. It's not something that most people think about on a daily basis, and not without good reason, I suppose. It's bad enough to have to listen to all the shrieking moral and ethical arguments around abortion issues- after all that, who wants to talk about paying for it?

Well, I do. A few years ago, I got involved with a fund that is a part of the National Network of Abortion Funds. For the uninitiated, women who have decided to have an abortion can contact an abortion fund to receive financial assistance in order to pay for the procedure.

"But the media tells me abortions are cheap and easy to come by!" I hear you say. Au contraire! There is no federal medical assistance available to pay for abortion thanks to the Hyde Amendment, and state assistance is difficult to come by unless you're lucky enough to live in one of the 17 light green states on this map:

And good luck getting connected with a private insurer that will cover a procedure. Thus, the advent of the volunteer-run, privately funded, abortion fund.

It's not an easy slog. The fund I am involved with raised over $25,000 this past fiscal year, yet provided over $40,000 in grants to women in need. Were it not for a substantial balance left over from past years, we'd have been broke by December. Many funds are not so lucky, and end up having to resort to personal phone calls and emails to try and raise funds. Nation writer Katha Pollitt wrote a great article about just such an appeal recently. Unfortunately, the need was not new, and the story not unique:
"We need $400 more in order to pay the fee $850 fee of a 2nd trimester patient who HAS to be seen tomorrow, or she'll be too far along to be seen in the state of Tennessee. In that case, her fee will increase even more and have to pay the traveling expenses, as well.

"She's raised $250 and we have given the clinic $200 on her behalf thus far.

"She's a single mom with a 19 month old; co-conceiver skipped town; no child support because that dude skipped town; she is clinically very depressed and extremely desperate. She makes less than $800 a month working fulltime. She makes too much to get any state aid and definitely not covered by TNCare. She becamse pregnant after her birth control failed to prevent her pregnancy. Can you help by sending a paypal donation to asap?

" "She has an appointment at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. "

As much as we want to think that because Roe v. Wade is still (barely) the law of the land, the sad fact is that access to abortion is out of reach for most of the women who need it most, because of simple dollars and cents. This has nothing to do with "choice"- the choice has been made- and if a woman has decided that she can't have a child at this point in her life, we as a society should support that decision, and help her in any way we can.

Let's put it more simply- if a woman can't afford the cost of an abortion, do you think she'll have the financial means to raise a child??? The government sure isn't going to help.

So, dear friends, I beg of you- go to the NNAF website, check out the map of fund locations, find the one nearest to you, and give what you can- whether it's your time or your money, you can bet that the fund, and the women they serve, will be grateful for it. To me, this is the clearest expression of being "pro-choice"- you've got to walk the walk to feel right about talking the talk.

Thanks for reading my little diatribe. Go back about your business now. :)

Monday, June 18, 2007

No 'Poo!!!

Oh, get your minds out of the gutter. Over the past year or so, the condition of my scalp has seemed to get worse and worse. Itching, flaking, red spots... Given the apparent shortage of dermatologists, which prevents one from getting an appointment for six months, if you're lucky, I've decided to take matters into my own hands.

A while back, I remember reading an article called Why You Should Go No ‘Poo - the thing that struck me about it was this:

Following are just a small sample of the toxins found in most shampoos and their detrimental side effects.

• Alcohol, isopropyl (SD-40) is a very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that strips your skin’s moisture and natural immune barrier, making you more vulnerable to bacteria, molds and viruses. It is made from propylene, a petroleum derivative, and is found in many skin and hair products, fragrances, antibacterial hand washes as well as shellac and antifreeze. It can act as a “carrier,” accelerating the penetration of other harmful chemicals into your skin.

It may promote brown spots and premature aging of skin. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says isopropyl alcohol may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anesthesia and coma. A fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.

• FD&C color pigments are synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.

• Mineral oil is a petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. It interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders.

• Propylene glycol (PG) and butylene glycol are petroleum plastics which act as surfactants (wetting agents and solvents). They easily penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs, PG is strong enough to remove barnacles from boats!

• Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are detergents and surfactants that may pose serious health threats. They are used in car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers — and in 90 percent of personal care products that foam. Animals exposed to SLS experienced eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and even death.

Terrifying stuff. So, as the article's name suggests, I've decided to go sans shampoo. Today is day three- this morning I did the baking soda treatment to stimulate the scalp. The girl, whose nose would most certainly know, indicates that my hair smells "like nothing"- a good start!

So we'll see what happens over the next days and weeks. I'm on the fence about the apple cider vinegar rinse, since I've got really short hair right now, and I don't want to undo the work, but I'll probably break down and try it soon.

More updates to follow!