|Greetings! |Spring has sprung here in the Pacific Northwest and we have been treated to a bounty of blooms. This edition of Backline's quarterly e-newsletter includes ideas you can use to raise the visibility of our work, a report from our recent workshop on pregnancy options and fetal diagnosis, this year's Mama's Day blog post from board member Shantae Johnson, and a review of an incredible new book on abortion counseling by Backline ally and supporter Alissa Perrucci. We hope you enjoy it!
If you have ideas to share or would like to contribute a future newsletter article, please just let us know.
Help Raise the Visibility of Backline
If you love us, then tell the world! By sharing your personal experience with Backline, you could inspire future donors and volunteers to support the organization -- it's a fast, effective, and valuable way to take action.
First, come like us on Facebook and then tell all your friends! This is one of the easiest ways to spread the word about Backline and bring more people into a new conversation about experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption.
GreatNonprofits is a website where people can share stories about nonprofits that have touched their lives. They are conducting a Women's Empowerment Awards campaign to identify the top-rated nonprofits in the country working to support women. http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/backline
You can also write a review of Backline on Guidestar and Yelp. Thank you for helping to the raise visibility of our work!
Pregnancy Options & Fetal Diagnosis
At this year's National Abortion Federation annual meeting, Backline had the opportunity to organize and present a session on pregnancy options counseling and support for women who have received a diagnosis of fetal disability.
The session explored the way we (meaning abortion providers, reproductive rights advocates, and pregnancy counselors) typically talk about pregnancy decisions in the context of a fetal diagnosis, and what our language communicates about 'choice' and disability. Board members Parker Dockray and Heather Dorsey worked closely with our brilliant allies Alissa Perrucci and Sujatha Jesudason to put together a dynamic workshop that included thought-provoking presentations, values clarification exercises, and lots of small and large group discussion.The room was filled beyond capacity ten minutes before the session was scheduled to begin, with people sitting on every inch of the floor and spilling out into the hallway. We were overwhelmed by the response and honored that so many people wanted to engage in this important discussion with us. We hope to continue the conversation in future trainings, both in person and online. In the meantime, we share a few resources that were discussed during the session. We hope you find them useful in your thinking, and welcome your feedback.
We also recommend that you visit the Generations Ahead web site, where you will find additional information and resources related to disability and reproductive rights, sex selection, and reproductive technologies.
Stay Out of My Bedroom: Momma Said Knock You Out
Mother of five, business of none. Throughout women's reproductive years, judgment and opinions are issued by family, friends and sometimes even strangers. The War on Women is alive and well, both in and out of the bedroom. It's alive in the limitless questions, loaded with judgment, that even complete strangers feel justified in asking women about their bodies and reproductive choices.
Society has very rigid prototypes of motherhood and who should have the privilege to parent. A regular mama like me has felt the backlash every time I have ever taken a pregnancy test. If you happen to be a woman of color, you simply don't have any business that is your own, as far as society is concerned. The Jezebel and Welfare Queen stereotypes shape the responses you receive from others when you have a belly full of baby.
Read the rest of Shantae's story here. This piece was written for Strong Families' Mama's Day 2012 blog roll.
Book Corner: Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care
Shelly recently sat down with Alissa Perrucci to talk about her new book, Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care.
Tell us a bit about what motivated you to write this book.
There are so many of us working in community health, nursing, medicine, family planning and mental health that care for women during times of decision-making. Patients ask us questions and express feelings and beliefs that can challenge our skills; we want to be able to respond with skill and grace. That is what this book is about. When patients ask, "Will God forgive me?" or describe their guilt, sadness, and loss we sometimes struggle with how to respond. The reason that I wrote this book was to create a type of manual or stand-alone guide for working with women who are making decisions about pregnancy.
What can readers expect from Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care?
In this book, I put forward an approach and framework for working with the spectrum of patient conflict - emotional, spiritual, and moral - with abortion decisions as well as pregnancy decision ambivalence and how to talk about pregnancy options. The techniques that I teach are consistent across all types of conflict. Each chapter contains exercises to cultivate self-awareness but also to practice hard skills of listening and responding. As the reader moves through the chapters, it is my hope that she or he will feel inspired about the depth of the work, but also realize that these techniques are imminently learn-able no matter what one's past areas of study.
Why a whole book dedicated to decision assessment?
I think it is important to state that many pregnancy decisions are clear and most women who present at an abortion clinic feel certain, supported, and expect to cope well. But talking about the straightforward cases wouldn't make a very interesting book! The fun part is cultivating our philosophy and our practice for working with emotions and beliefs that challenge us to grow and change as professionals. The decision assessment is the way that we do this. The decision assessment does not create problems - it is a tool to discover if the patient is having conflict and whether she is interested in talking about it. A space is created for patients to share, but it's not a requirement! It's always important to keep in mind that at the foundation of our care, we are upholding the process of informed consent. A compassionate, non-judgmental space to talk about feelings and beliefs is an additional component of care that contributes to our standard of excellence.
Tell us about your experience with decision assessment and supporting women through their pregnancy experiences.
I began working at an abortion clinic in Pennsylvania (by way of Indiana) while I was finishing my doctorate in clinical psychology. It changed the direction of my professional life. I moved to California, did a MPH in maternal and child health, and then went to work in research and program evaluation of family planning programs and abortion care. About five years ago, I decided that I wanted to get back into direct care and that my goal was to create the gold standard for decision assessment and counseling. The readers will decide how far I have progressed toward that goal! This is a life's work and one where there is ongoing personal and professional development and change. I am still learning about my own assumptions and developing new approaches for working in clinical care. I guess that's what makes life interesting. I hope that you find this book a useful guide in all of your endeavors to facilitate patient decision-making and support patients in their struggles and transformations.
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Backline promotes unconditional and judgment-free support for decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting abortion & adoption. Through direct service and social change strategies, we are building a world where all people can make the reproductive decisions that are best for their lives, without limitation or coercion, and where the dignity of all lived experiences is honored and affirmed.
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J. Parker Dockray
"Backline helped me get through the dark times. I wouldn't have been able to do it without their volunteers. My friend told me to call Backline because I would never be judged for my feelings and I have found that to be entirely true. It's the only safe place I have found in my life, and we all need one."
-Talk Line Caller
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"I believe in Backline because I believe in women. I believe in our journeys, our struggles, and our triumphs. When we can work together - as women, and as people who love and support the women in our lives - we can challenge our perceptions, reform relationships and give each other space to make the best decisions we can, with the best information, resources and support we have available."
-Sarah, Talk Line Advocate
"I am incredibly proud to be a part of an organization that offers a safe, supportive space for women whose lives have been changed by a pregnancy. It's a rare thing to be able to discuss all sides of a decision with another person knowing that there will be no pressure and no judgment."
- Gayle, Former Talk Line Advocate
Did you miss the Pregnancy Options Dialogue this year? Didn't attend the National Abortion Federation conference? Don't worry! You can still experience a Backline training to expand your skills and ideas about pregnancy options counseling and abortion, adoption, pregnancy and parenting. We would love to talk to you about coming to your city or organization! Contact us at 503-287-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.