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(en) US, Phoenix, Upheaval* #2 - Fighting for your reproductive health by the Secret Speculum

Date Fri, 20 Jan 2006 16:40:48 +0200

Everyone should have equal access to
adequate healthcare; unfortunately, this
country doesn't make that easy. Women
in the US are especially in need of better
healthcare, as Christian interference in
government is doing its best to deprive
women of their basic reproductive rights.
Without the right to control when, if, and
how she has children, a woman is
unable to control her livelihood, her iden-
tity, or her destiny.
Working within these constraints can
be difficult, but not impossible. There
are organizations in Arizona and else-
where in the US that offer assistance to
women trying to meet their family-plan-
ning and gynecological needs: here's
some information on how to get the
most out of these agencies.
Pregnancy testing & abortion
Here are some guidelines for what
to do when you suspect that you're
First, take a home pregnancy
test. E.P.T (Error-Proof Test) and
First Response are both reliable
pregnancy test kits, and are avail-
able at most grocery stores and
drugstores. To get an accurate
result, wait at least fourteen days
after you last had intercourse
and/or you missed your period.
If the test is negative, consider
repeating the test in one or two
weeks -- if you still haven't started
your period. Home pregnancy tests
measure a hormone found in your
urine which is produced during
pregnancy. You could receive a
negative result if you have not been
pregnant long enough for this hor-
mone to begin accumulating in
your body. Also, though it is rare,
some pregnant women will not
show a positive test with their
urine, and may need a blood test to
determine whether they are preg-
When searching for a pregnan-
cy-test provider, be aware: faith-
based anti-abortion organizations
frequently masquerade as pregnan-
cy-planning centers, offering free
tests as a lure to talk women out of
terminating their pregnancy. Some
will even lie to women about how
long they've been pregnant in
order to reduce the chances of
women obtaining simpler first-
trimester abortions. Some of these
agencies offer free ultrasounds in
order to encourage women to
become emotionally attached to
their pregnancies, in the hopes that
they will decide to give birth.
When looking for a pregnancy
test, be careful to avoid these types
of organizations.
If your pregnancy test is positive,
you plan to parent, and you have
health insurance, contact an
OB/GYN. If you are uninsured,
you can obtain health insurance
from the state of Arizona through
AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care
Cost Containment System). You
can sign up for AHCCCS either
through the Department of
Economic Security or through
Baby Arizona; call 1-800-833-4642
to make an appointment. You will
need proof of pregnancy.
If you plan to terminate your
pregnancy, there are two types of
abortion available: Medical
Abortion, also known as Chemical
Abortion or the Abortion Pill; and
Surgical Abortion, also known as
an aspiration, or a D&C.
There are several factors to con-
sider when deciding which type of
abortion to choose. The first is how
far along the pregnancy is. If you
don't have a way to determine this
by ultrasound, you can count the
number of days since your last nor-
mal period. If your last period was
short or light, measure from the
period before.
If you are between five and nine
weeks pregnant, either a medical or
surgical abortion is viable. If you
are more than nine weeks along,
however, the surgical abortion may
be your only choice.
A second consideration is your
lifestyle. Since a medical abortion
is at least a two-day process, it is
less convenient for women with
young children to care for, who
have a demanding work schedule,
or who do not have a support sys-
tem at home to help them.
However, the abortion pill is a
good choice for women who would
prefer a less-invasive abortion.
Surgical abortion is a better
option for people who are trying to
keep their abortion a secret from
family members or a partner.
Surgical abortion patients are usu-
ally medicated ahead of time, but
how much and what type of med-
ication you receive depends on your
provider. With many providers you
are not asleep, as this makes the
procedure more risky. The cervix is
usually numbed with a local anes-
thetic, and then dilated. The preg-
nancy is then vacuumed out with a
suction machine. Afterwards the
doctor will use a tool to ensure that
everything is removed from the
How each service works is differ-
ent for each abortion provider.
Usually the cost for an abortion in
the first trimester (the first twelve
weeks of pregnancy) should be
around $400 -- though the cost may
vary. The following are safe, reli-
able, impartial providers of both
medical and surgical abortions in
the city of Phoenix and surround-
ing areas:
1. Planned Parenthood of Central and
Northern Arizona
(locations all over the Valley)
(602) 277-7526
2. Camelback Family Planning
(602) 279-2337
3. Family Planning Associates
(locations in Phoenix and Tempe)
(602) 553-0440
If you're under eighteen, it's
important to know that it's against
Arizona state law for a minor to
have an abortion without parental
consent or a court order. However,
if a minor wishes to have an abor-
tion without her parents' knowl-
edge or consent, she can receive
free counseling and legal services
through Planned Parenthood, who
can help arrange for her to have an
abortion under what is called a
"Judicial Bypass." It is highly
uncommon for such requests to be
denied. If a teenager does not wish
to go through this process, the
state of California does not require
parental consent for abortions.
Since Roe v. Wade legalized abor-
tion, there have been attempts to
make it illegal for women to cross
state lines to obtain abortion serv-
ices. No such laws have passed yet --
however, anti-abortion groups
continue to pressure the federal
government to restrict a woman's
right to a timely abortion proce-
Emergency contraception
While the abortion pill and sur-
gical abortions both terminate an
existing pregnancy, Emergency
Contraception (EC) prevents ovu-
lation, fertilization and implanta-
tion of a pregnancy. EC can be
taken up to 120 hours (five days)
after unprotected or forced inter-
course -- though it is most effective
if taken within the first 72 hours
(three days). Since there are virtu-
ally no medical restrictions or dan-
gers involved in using EC, it is very
safe and convenient.
In some other states (Alaska,
California, Hawaii, New Mexico,
and Washington), EC is dispensed
directly from a pharmacist; but in
the state of Arizona you need a
prescription. Planned Parenthood
centers around the valley offer EC
appointments for $44 -- a $28 office
visit and $16 for the medication
itself; some clinics also offer dis-
counts depending on your income
and family size. You can find a list
of clinics that prescribe EC online
at: <www.getthepill.com>.
EC is not intended to be used as
a regular form of birth control. It
can interfere with normal periods
and make tracking ovulation more
difficult. About one in every three
women will experience nausea,
vomiting or headache after using
EC, so it is important to eat and
drink something before taking the
pills. However, many types of hor-
monal birth control pills can also
be used as EC -- for more informa-
tion, see the Planned Parenthood
Federation of America website:
There's been a growing debate
recently over a pharmacist's right to
refuse to fill EC prescriptions
based on their moral or religious
beliefs. A bill that would have sup-
ported this practice failed in
Arizona last year; other states have
already passed similar bills. Some
pharmacists have refused to give
women information on where to
get EC prescriptions filled, even
though they are legally required to
do so; some even withhold pre-
scriptions so that they cannot be
filled -- a major concern con-
sidering the urgent time constraints
involved with taking EC. For
more information on this
topic go to <www.ppfa.org> or
search "Pharmacists Right to
Refuse" on the internet.
Pap smears, annual exams &
birth control
Pap smears -- also known as
"annual exams" or "well-woman
exams" -- are a good way for
women to verify their cervical
health. But for the vast number of
people who are uninsured, pap
smears are prohibitively expensive.
However, some clinics provide
funding to help women obtain
family planning services such as
annual exams, birth control, and
EC. The funding is available in
several clinics throughout the val-
ley; people nineteen and younger
can receive this funding in the
Mesa and Scottsdale Planned
Parenthood locations. Those over
19 can receive this funding at the
South Phoenix location. You can
call (602) 277-7526 to schedule an
appointment or get more informa-
The Secret Speculum works at a family-
planning clinic somewhere in the
* Journal of the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition
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