A women’s health supporter outside of Barack Obama’s Health Care Reform speech at the Target Center on September 12, 2009 in Minneapolis. Shutterstock
I’m pretty vehemently pro-choice, but I’ve never had an abortion or known a close friend who has so I’ve always felt really removed from the vitriol of pro/con arguments. There’s so much public fervor and heated (read: exaggerated) dialogue about what abortion really is, that I realized I really don’t know what happens in real world language. I reached out to Planned Parenthood who had their senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, answer some questions that can help us understand in non-sensationalized words what her job is really about.
What is your day-to-day like in your job?
It’s probably just like the day to day of any health care provider. On days when I see patients, I get to work a little while before my first patient is ready. The whole health center team huddles to review the schedule, the staff assignments, and anything else we need to be aware of. I usually see between 15 and 25 patients in a typical day, for a variety of reasons, not just ending a pregnancy. A woman could have a birth control implant or IUD that needs to be removed or replaced. Some women are done having children and are sure they want permanent contraception. Others are looking to me to help them make an educated decision about which birth control method might be best for them.
Birth control methods are not one-size-fits-all–a method that’s perfect for one woman may not be right for another. So I talk with women about all their birth control options, and give them information so they can make an informed decision about which one is best for them.
It’s amazing how so many people have so little information about birth control. So many people think that the only methods available to them are condoms or the pill. Every patient is trying to do what is best for them and their family. And so I try to help them do just that. Different patients have different plans for their lives–if they want kids, when they want kids–and that really influences what my conversation with each patient will be.
In terms of my abortion patients–I know that abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision, and we carefully counsel each woman on all of her options. The patients I see experience a wide range of emotions before and after an abortion. That’s very normal. Some want to talk, others are very private. Some are very appreciative and others are very obviously having a bad day, and you can’t blame them.
There really is no typical day, or typical patient–every person I see is different and that’s one of the things that keep my work interesting. I just try to be as positive and supportive as I can for each of them in the way that’s most helpful for them.
What are some things you’ve learned in your line of work?
One thing I’ve learned is that no one ever plans to have an abortion.
Or to ever be in a situation where they might want or need to consider having an abortion. I think that’s one reason why we’ve seen so many laws restricting abortion in the last few years: people don’t put themselves in that hypothetical situation and wonder what they would do if they were faced with an unintended pregnancy. Or with a desired pregnancy that ends up having severe abnormalities or complications. So people underestimate the need for continued access to safe and legal abortion.
What is a big misconception people have about what you do?
Patients will often ask me why I became an abortion provider, and I explain that I didn’t plan my path in life to become an abortion provider. Rather, I became an Obstetrician Gynecologist because I wanted to take care of women–through all the phases of their reproductive life, whether or not they ever decided to have children.
Abortion is just one of the many things that I do as an Ob/Gyn. I do think it’s a critical part. I believe that if your goal is to provide health care for women, you’ve got to provide the whole range of services that a woman might need. The further along I went in my training, the more I realized that there are a lot of doctors who don’t feel that way. As a result, there is a real shortage of abortion providers in this country. So abortion just started to take up more and more of my time.
In my experience, my colleagues who provide abortion are concerned, skilled people who believe deeply in the health, well-being, and dignity of women. And they put that trust and care for women into the work they do every day.
In a perfect world, we could make sure every woman who needed effective contraception got it, before she had sex, and there would be no more unintended pregnancies–and that would be great. But it still wouldn’t eliminate the need for abortion. There would still be women whose lives or health are put at risk by being forced to continue a pregnancy. There would still be women who experience the loss of a pregnancy, or who are diagnosed with heartbreaking pregnancy complications.
I believe every woman deserves the right to decide–along with her family, her faith, and the counsel of her health care provider–whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child. All women should be able to get the care they need without having to jump through hurdles imposed upon them by people who don’t care enough to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
Do you have moral or ethical qualms about abortion?
Qualms, no. I think providing abortion to a woman who requests it is the moral and ethical thing to do.
I trust that women are capable of deciding what is best for them and their families. And if a woman decided that ending a pregnancy was the best thing for her, and I refused, well, I think that would be unethical.
As I said, abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman. I don’t believe you–or a politician or anyone else–can make that decision for someone else. And most people in this country feel the same way–they agree that abortion should remain safe and legal for a woman to consider if or when she needs it.
Lastly, what do you think readers should know about abortion or Planned Parenthood in particular?
I would like people to know that abortion is safe. Legal abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. For women who have made the decision to end their pregnancy, it was the best decision for them, the moral and ethical choice for them. It’s not a black and white issue–we don’t know a woman’s specific situation. We’re not in her shoes.
At Planned Parenthood, we believe strongly in making sure women have access to safe and legal abortion. We work every day to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and to keep women healthy. Planned Parenthood provides a broad range of services, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STDs, breast health services, Pap tests, sex education, information, and health counseling. One in five women in the U.S. has turned to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for professional, non-judgmental and confidential care. I’m proud to be a part of this organization’s work helping people lead healthier lives.
You’re going to want to listen closely. I’m a millenial and I blog; I know what I’m talking about.
1. You’re MAD judicious with your likes.
Who gives out “likes” like they’re candy corn on Halloween? A loser does, that’s who. A 2014-good-for-nothing, well-mannered loser. In this new year, you can never be too not nice; reticence, a bitch attitude, and a pout go a long way.
2. You say “girl” a lot.
Greetings are EVERYTHING. “Hey” and “hello”? Over. “Hi, what’s up”? OVER. “Hello”? C’mon, you know better than that: OVER. Presently the only acceptable greeting is “hay girl.” And it’s crucial that you’re consistent and use it on everyone: from your boss and grandma, to your gynecologist and a girl you don’t even know.
3. You have a private Instagram.
Ah, the allure of the private Instagram — or “Instagram privée” if you really know what’s up. The fake-it-till-you-make-it approach. Because they had to ask your permission to see your photos, each and every one of your followers counts. And of course there’s the glaring fact that one follower of a private Instagram account equals ten followers of a public Instagram account.
4. Your smize is on point.
If you’re alive in 2014 and you don’t have a fantastic smize to your name, then why are you even living? Honestly, I’m confused.
5. You have “too many followers.”
The other day, my famous model friend said to me, “Rach, I literally have too many followers…” He was actually lamenting his popularity to me. And you know what? It was beautiful: the way in which he exuded prominence and conveyed genuine angst over his number of followers. Beautiful and, more importantly, cool.
6. You can Photoshop.
A 20- to 30-year-old who doesn’t have Photoshop skills is like a runner with no legs — impossible and frankly dangerous. To be honest, I’m not even quite sure how you’ve survived this long. How have you even been making your Drake memes? And what were you doing when everyone else in the world was pasting a photo of themselves into that epic celeb-laden Oscars selfie? Don’t let another un-Photoshopped photo pass you by…
7. You wake up like “dis.”
“Dis” being good enough to Instagram. And if you don’t wake up like “dis,” then you wake up early, while everyone’s still asleep, like Kristin Wigg did in Bridesmaids, and you paint on your face until you look like “dis.”
8. You dress like a dad.
You’re a walking ad for the new Voldemort — the trend that must not be named — that starts with an “n” and ends with an “ormcore.” You wear oversized, ill-fitting clothes and bucket hats — but the type of bucket hat you’d buy at a Ski resort souvenir shop.
9. You change your Instagram photo a lot.
Perhaps you’re wondering why this should matter, seeing as the profile picture on Instagram is so tiny. Except that’s just it: its diminutive nature is exactly what makes it matter all the more. Because what’s better than one photo that leaves people wondering what they’re looking at? That’s right: multiple photos that leave people wondering what they’re looking at.
10. Wear all of your clothes at once.
Or as I like to call this, “Apocalypse Chic.”© First The Mayans predicted it, then Dennis Quaid in The Day After Tomorrow saw it coming, and finally John Cusak in 2012 too? I mean really, how many more signs do you need? Obviously the apocalypse is nigh and the clock is ticking before our time is up to flaunt our new clothes. So put ‘em all on at once — it implies you don’t blindly conform to ideal body standards and that you’re environmentally conscious too.
11. You get paid to take Instagrams photos.
Getting paid to wear designer clothes and take selfies? Can you fathom a better job? Can you fathom this at all? Let me break it down for you: it’s an intrinsic coolness that gives rise to a surplus of followers, which, IN TURN, gets the attention of young professionals who are looking for good press. Basically, getting paid for being cool is the new cool.
This is Rachel Hodin reporting to you live in 2014. You heard it here first.
As a dumb white bitch, I love Wes Anderson. There’s just something about his ability to take us into a vintage clothing store and fill it with precocious children, compartmentalized action, and Bill Murray. I consider myself a die-hard Wesbian and I’ve seen all of his films, so naturally I am super excited about his upcoming sure-to-be-a masterpiece, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The movie is going to be great no matter what because I don’t have the ability to form my own opinions and I’m sure it’s going to look good and be quirky. I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here, I know you all feel the same way, and I’m usually hard pressed to find a white person who doesn’t think Wes Andersen is a genius.
Surprisingly though, I often meet people who have not heard of some of his films. Did you know that he’s actually directed several films that are not available for sale, listed on IMDb, or mentioned anywhere other than in this article? It’s true. Here’s 5 Wes Andersen films that any real fan should see:
The Nimbus Empire
An idiosyncratic butler constructs a hot air balloon out of old Bazooka Joe wrappers and sets off for Paris. Along the way, he meets several other balloon pilots and they invent a new font that simplifies the process of sky writing. When they get to Paris, their reputation precedes them. The whole world is enamored with their new font, but they cannot decide on who owns the rights to it. There’s a lot of quirky infighting and ultimately none of them claim ownership of the font. In the last shot, we see the butler and his friends wearing the gum wrappers as clothes as they have a child-like tea party on top of the Eiffel tower.
Lessons For Gautier
A young girl proctors elocution lessons for gerbils behind her boarding school for left handed girls. When her lessons are discovered by a local accordion player, he enlists her help in overcoming his speech impediment. She trains him the same way she trains the gerbils–by using a series of treats in their tube maze. He rides the subway around looking for packages she has hidden for him, and eventually the packages are shown to contain love letters that he thinks she has written for him. We find out that the letters are actually love letters that her father had sent her mother before he disappeared during the war. The two wed and they take her last name, on account of him being unable to pronounce his own.
The Golden Portrait
A young boy with an absentee father pics up a silver-nitrate camera and begins taking daguerreotypes of his classmates. He meets the love of his life, a girl with Bell’s palsy who cannot move her face, and therefore, takes perfect daguerreotypes. The two pinky-swear to run away together until the boy’s father returns. The girl is taken away by the father who tries to sell her to the circus. The kids disguise themselves as a pantomime horse to escape, and the father is arrested by some sort of anachronistic police man wearing a pith helmet. The circus owner, an orphan himself, at first is an antagonist, but when he discovers the boy is a photographer, he has the boy photograph him in exchange for his most prized possession–a golden statue of an amputee clown. The children sell the statue and live together on some tiny boat or some shit.
The Himalayan Retreat
A wife and husband have their children walk out on them after the kids go to the store to fetch a pack of candy cigarettes. The adults slowly revert to childlike behavior as the children go on a sea adventure with a Sherpa or like a monk or someone of a vague ethnicity that doesn’t speak for the entire film. Eventually the children return and they both have beards and the parents are wearing Raggedy Anne doll clothing. The final scene is the family re-enacting the Beatles’ Abbey Road picture but they’re all smoking those candy cigarettes.
Stupid Bullshit In Ecru And Ochre
A rambler house is filled with green shag carpeting and earth toned wallpaper. Owen Wilson smokes unfiltered cigarettes while wearing a tennis headband as he argues with Jason Schwartzman about the pedestrian nature of ellipsis in prose. The camera tracks to another room where a small boy is creating a model airplane out of popsicle sticks. The shot is held for thirty seconds and then the boy says fuck. The camera tracks back. It’s Bill Murray in a coonskin cap, standing in front of a bunch of record players, staring into the camera for an hour and a half. At the end he says, “that’s it! Peanut butter in a tube!” The film ends. The white people in the crowd clap politely and go home and fuck with the lights off.
Growing up, you probably heard of several cases of abuse. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and so on… Something might have happened to a personal friend of yours, a friend of your friends or even cases that you so frequently read about in the news.
Never in a million years would you have imagined that you too, would be part of the statistics the number of women who have had to put up with abuse in their lifetime. Since it has happened, it has taken a toll on your life. Whenever you read about someone who has had to go through the same kind of pain, you cannot help but tear a little. Whenever someone tells you about their problems with their partner, you want to run away because you cannot help but remember the pain you have had to go through in your past relationship.
I want to write this today to face that demon that has been lingering around for too long. The one that still makes me think that I am at fault. The one that still makes me want to return back to my abuser. Today, I want to face that demon and write all that is deep within my heart.
Dear Person Who I Once Thought Loved Me,
By grabbing my hair and pushing me to the ground that very cold September night, by calling me a “slut” and a “whore”, by saying things like “you will rape me” and “you will kill me” and spitting right at my face after an argument we had – which you were not willing to sit calmly and hear my side of the story – you have changed my life forever. I fear trusting anyone again. I cannot believe when anyone tells me that he loves me now and my self-image feels as though it has been trampled on the ground, only to be stepped and spit on. I cannot help but blame myself for that very night. For the years that I loved you blindly, the trust I had placed in you and the false sense of security I had in you – thinking that you were going to be my “protector” forever.
Sometimes I wish that you could go through the pain that you had placed me through but I know that I could never wish that upon your mother or your sister. Because only a woman would be able to understand the pain of another woman and in no way would I ever want another person to be put through all that you have placed me through. I do not know how you will be able to forgive yourself if karma bites you back in the arse and the same thing were to happen to that person you love, like how you “loved” me, or so as you said.
I have had to hold on to this pain all these years, and I have not been able to truly forgive myself for trusting a deceitful creature like you. But today, I choose to let go. I choose to stop wishing I could return back to that place where I felt like a helpless kitten that had just been attacked ruthlessly by a dog. I choose to stop returning back to you hoping that you have changed or to hear that you are truly sorry, only for everything to happen all over again. I choose to forgive myself for my very wrong judgements. I choose to stop blaming myself because it was never my fault – I was definitely not the cause of your inability to control your emotions. I choose to let go and be free. Free from your hold. And for that, I will have to forgive you.
I know deep down that one day, I am going to meet a man when I am ready and he will truly love me for who I am. He will look into my eyes and see my beautiful soul, so much that he would never want to hurt me the way you did. As of now, I can only hold onto God because he is my fortress and my solid rock.
I do not know if you truly are sorry about all that you have put me through or if you will hurt another person the way you hurt me. But I pray that one day, in time, when you are sitting on your porch tracing back the events of your life – when your fifty maybe and have finally matured a little – you remember that young woman you had scared so badly, one whose life you have changed forever and the guilt eats you up. However, when that day comes, I would have been out of your life for good and you will not be able to reach out to me to say sorry.
Never ever ever ever again to be yours,
– The one you betrayed so badly.
P.S: If you are going through some sort of abuse, I pray you find some peace reading this and I pray that you too will be able to find your solid rock– one that comforts you in times like these. Please learn to let go like I have or at least, am trying to. I have decided to take this as a lesson learnt to make wiser judgements in life and to speak about my experience openly – hoping to be the voice for women who have seemed to have lost theirs.
It was a cold winter morning. The year was 2003. And my nipples? Swelled to the size of two mosquito bites. No I wasn’t having an allergic reaction — I was going through puberty, and it wasn’t pretty. All the boys and girls stared –1) because I was one of the first to sprout and 2) I wasn’t yet too self-aware and so nixed the idea of bras altogether. I was uncomfortable in my new skin but excited and secure, believing I was well on my way to full-grown boobs in no time. Well, you can imagine my disappointment when, ten years later, I woke up with the same mosquito-bite-size boobs.
1. How it feels to put excess hope in those “I went from a size AA to a size C at 25″ stories.
Every woman with small boobs has heard that elusive story — the one where some lucky 25-year-old, pitiful in all her late-bloomingness, finally grew the boobs she had always wanted in her mid-20s. We’ve all HEARD the story, but have never actually witnessed it. It’s always a friend of a friend’s cousin or someone else no less than four degrees of separation from us, her existence shrouded in the uncertainty of urban legends. But she keeps our spirits high.
2. Never going bra shopping.
I have zero clue how to shop for bras; in fact, I don’t think I’ve purchased a single bra in my life. My collection of bras fall into two categories:
- The bras I’ve had all my life; the ones I can’t remember not having. They usually look like a sports bra Susanne Summers might’ve worn.
- The bras my friends outgrew.
3. Never having to complain of sore boobs.
With boobs so small, there’s scarcely anything about them that needs tending to. Sometimes when your friends are complaining about their “sore” boobs, us small-boob folk will nod along and say something in the affirmative like “ugh, yeah me too…” But know this: we’re lying.
4. What it feels like to pull skin into a makeshift cleavage.
As a faithful member of the dwarfed boobs cohort, I am inevitably familiar with the myriad ways in which we try to trick men into thinking we are a cup-size bigger than we actually are. Like a blind woman finding her way by reading Braille, i too could find my way in a sea of darkness if it was adorned with those cup-shaped cushions that go into padded bras. But, perhaps the most practiced ruse of all is the classic skin grab; without enough tittage to secure cleavage, we resort to our skin, grabbing all the excess skin in our boob region that we can get our hands on, and use that as cleavage fodder.
5. How it feels to constantly hear “but small boobs are in!”
When it comes to boobs, the grass is usually always greener; everyone’s got boob FOMO and they won’t let up. (Though we all know who the real winners are: the girls blessed with perky B-cups.) Big-boobed women are constantly fawning over our small boobs and are always of the belief that their boobs make classy outfits look tacky and that small boobs are “chic” and “in.”
6. The sobering realization that you’ve gone too far with not wearing a bra.
Sometimes, us small-boobed broads feel duped, as if we’ve been excluded from a very feminine process: that of growing boobs. Sometimes — whether in an effort to make ourselves feel better or out of pure indolence — we forgo bras altogether. Big-boobed women are so envious of this and because it’s probably the only thing about our small boobs that they envy, we like to flaunt this one and only perk. But fellow small-boobers, beware: the sans-bra look has the power to come back and bite you in the ass; take your no-bra celebration too far and you won’t just be bra-less, but friendless too.
7. How it feels to borrow your best friend’s younger sister’s bra.
It’s always a fine moment when your best friend’s bra size surpasses your and now every time you need to borrow a bra she goes marching into her little sister’s room. A fine moment for all. Unfortunately, I’m not being facetious — cherish this moment, as it’s a hell of a lot more preferable than when the younger sister finally surpasses you in bra size too.
8. Small boob family pride.
I come from a female-dominated family in which the small boob gene runs deep. Ever since I could say “mama” I was aware of my fate. My mother, leading the pack, never once shied away from poking fun at her small boobs and my inevitable ones. There was never even a freckle of hope that I would some day have natural, effortless cleavage, and so we did what most small-boobed girls in large numbers too: we band together.
9. How it feels to freak out over big tits.
Having never had these salacious, excess appendages, I’m as impressed by them as the next straight guy. Would one squeeze hurt? Just one? I want to know what they feel like, because for all I know they really could have the texture of a bag of sand.
10. What dudes sometimes say about big boobs in private.
Because I’m a 32 AA, guys seem to think it’s acceptable — even welcome — to talk poorly of large breasts. One time I was applauded for my breasts because, as he put it, “your boobs won’t become a liability when you’re older.” And yet, hearing other talk about women in this manner didn’t make me feel any better! Strange…
11. That eating more doesn’t always mean bigger boobs.
There are some blessed women out there whose breasts hoard all of the weight they gain. Us bevy of small-boobed gals are not as blessed. I can’t stand when people say “just gain weight!” as a solution to my dwarfed boobs. Don’t you think if this worked I’d be practicing it already? Funneling Oreos into my mouth?
12. How it feels to put too much hope in “boob enlargement exercises.”
There’s this chant I used to say as a 12-year-old that, in hindsight, epitomizes a truly twisted mindset. While doing this weird pectoral clench thing — which I know realize is just a rather useless exercise for the serratus anterior — I would sing “I must, I must, I must increase my bust, the bigger the better the tighter the sweater the boys depend on us.” Prolific poetry, I know…But my focus isn’t so much the anti-feminist chant as it is the “boob exercise” that went along with it. Futile boob exercises abound and, after trying them all out, I can safely say they’re all folklore.
13. The I-want-a-boob-job phase.
And this is especially true if you grew up in the 90s like me — note: this is not the same as growing up with 90s GIF-related articles. The 90s was anything BUT boobs, and most of them were fake too. Elizabeth Hurley, Lil’ Kim, Pam Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, with Aaliyah and barely anyone else leading the small-boob camp. My point is, the influence was strong. And it took a toll. i’m just glad my mom refused to let me get one “until I could pay for it myself,” because, though I still can’t afford it, I now know I don’t want it.
14. Getting over that phase.
It’s not instantaneous; you don’t go to sleep one night dreaming of fembots and wake up idolizing Kiera Knightley. It’s gradual, but it happens. As it tends to happen, you realize: “Wait a second — world hunger. Gay rights, too. Also: racism still exists. And: FEMINISM!” And what used to matter begins to matters less…