Straight from Abby’s blog

July 24, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

Posing for our 8th picture after a talk Abby gave in Fargo, ND in June. The first seven were hideous.

I stole the quotation you are about to read from Abby Johnson’s latest blog, which you can find here.

If you don’t know who Abby is, do yourself a favor and pick up her book, UnPlanned. Abby is a brave lady who is willing to throw herself out under the bus of public opinion just to hopefully save women from hurt and pain. She’s worth listening to. Anyway, now onto the quote:

“The pro-life movement needs to be about collaboration; working together, finding out who does what best…we can’t all be the best at everything.”

Sounds pretty simple and straightforward, yes? Hardly.

Since the initial vision for creating Guiding Star Centers came in the fall of 2006, I have been given a crash course in Pro-Life: 101.  I have observed a few overarching themes in trying to work with pro-life groups, and the fact that I am about to state them here, is not going to win me any popularity contests. But with hope and belief that we all share the same end goal (an end to a culture that despises humanity), I step out with courage to say what I think is holding back the pro-life movement.

1) As Mrs. Johnson so rightly stated above, “we can’t all be the best at everything”.  Currently some groups attempt to provide a quantity of services instead of a quality. I think we better serve those seeking our assistance when we provide fewer, higher quality services and rely on others who specialize in the other areas to fill in the gaps. We communicate to clients that they are worth our best. They have dignity.

2) Referrals are lacking. In order to fill in those gaps for clients needing services, our referral networks must be much stronger. We have to actually know the other agencies in our region and create relationships with people in many different service areas so that we can confidently refer onward to best serve the client. Giving names and actually connecting the client to the next provider gives them a sense of only being given the best. That  you would only refer them on to a friend, because they are worth that.

3) Fighting for funding. Yes, we all know that times are tough. But do we think that they are tough enough to jealously guard our donors so that they will not give “our” money to other agencies? I have seen this, and it is so disheartening. Instead of trying to call “dibs” on donors, why don’t we try to find a model that allows these donors the ability to give generously to several causes at once? Do we operate out of an abundance ideology, or out a poverty mindset? Is it possible that we can share some of our expenses so that our donor’s money could go much further? Could we ever consider working together in one space to eliminate duplicate spending on things like rent rates, utilities, phone/internet, copy machines, office supplies, staff lounges? Which lead us directly to #4….

4) Rampant Individualism. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to have a seperate identity and purpose. That is how we develope specialists in every field (see #1). But when it comes the point of seeing our own cause or approach as superior to the contributions of other causes, that is not helpful. It’s like the analogy of the body. You know it; many parts, all one body. When the hand perceives the foot to be of less value and convinces the other parts that they should no longer nourish it or hack it off, no one benefits and everyone else must now try to limp along without it, literally. In our movement there are many parts. We need them all to get us to a true Culture of Life. Everyone is important; from the crisis pregnancy centers, to the adoption lawyers, to the volunteers running the drop-off daycare. We all need to work together.

I do not say these things to create further division or ill-will within our movement, but because I think we ARE capable of overcoming these difficulties. Sometimes you just need to say it like it is in order to make changes that will positively affect your cause. We cannot be afraid of criticism, especially when it is given with love and a promise to stand together through the trials that will come with change.

I am hopeful that over time many people will come to see the wisdom of working together and that through greater collaboration all our pro-life groups will be strengthened.  If we ever want to present an approach that can stand up to the groups that are currently touting themselves as “women’s centers”, we need to be able to create centers that provide the same number of services, in a professional specialized manner.  The only difference will be that our providers actually DO provide solutions to the problems we as a society are facing.

How is THIS “pro-life”?

July 23, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

I sometimes get questions from people asking how things like fertility and breastfeeding are pro-life issues. Many people say there is little, or no connection between these things and the main issues they consider to be in the pro-life arena; abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research.

To which I reply, “Oh contraire!”

It is my firm belief that our nation has come to it’s current acceptance of the above mentioned practices because we have simply forgotten that human beings are  remarkably put together.  We have forgotten that we are amazing creatures; mind, body, and spirit. We have lost our very sense of self, making it nearly impossible to recognize the beauty of others.

This may be due to many things, but I think that some of the practices that we’ve accepted in our culture as helpful and even healthy actually distract or prevent us from reaching and living our fullest potential. We prefer birth control to our own natural fertility patterns, we choose elective c-sections rather than allow our bodies to give birth, we opt not to breastfeed out of fear or for convenience sake, but what are we really doing???

We are not trusting or believing that we were really made “good enough” to do these things ourselves. We are perpetuating a societal belief that our bodies, and women’s in particular, are broken and insufficient. We are disconnecting the body from it’s amazing capacities and doubting the fact that we are indeed magnificently put together. In this worldview humanity is flawed and man is capable of fixing it. People need fixing. Circumstances need fixing. But what is “fixing”?  And I think you can understand where this logic follows.

We “fix’ unplanned pregnancies just like we “fix” fertility. We simply destroy them. We “fix” genetic illnesses through cloning and destructive research just like we “fix” the problems of childbearing; we manipulate and interfere. And we “fix” the inconvience of old age and poor health like we “fix” the committment to nourish our children; by introducing solutions that free us from giving selflessly to others.

I say the pro-life issues extend FAR beyond the abortion clinics, euthanasia clinics, and research laboratories. The downward slide to these practices start with each one of us adopting attitudes that humanity and our bodies are burdens. Being pro-life begins with us joyfully accepting our entire selves and others as beautifully unique and irreplaceable, at all times. No exceptions.

Every step away from our beautiful, natural  individuality is a statement of self-doubt and insufficiency.  When we are closest to our natural state and living in a way that upholds and honors the capabilities of our minds, bodies, and spirits, and those of others, we are being most “pro-life”.  We are embracing life with every fiber of our being, without holding any of ourselves back.

Sounds kind of new-agey, doesn’t it?

It’s not. It’s pro-life.

AAFCP, here we come!

July 20, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

The Guiding Star Project is excited to officially kick off our vision casting and networking campaign at the national convention for the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals, taking place this week in Duluth, MN.

More information about the convention can be found here.

We are so excited to make our debut at a convention focused on natural fertility for many reasons. Not only does the AAFCP represent top researchers in the field of fertility, but their methods honor and empower women through education of our natural hormones and cycles. While much of the medical community tends to ignore things like cervical mucus, Creighton Practitioners embrace the natural signs of fertility and actually research them! They help women to understand all those “weird” little things about their bodies and to recognize them as not only signs of fertility, but beautiful cues that our bodies are healthy and functioning properly.

We commend the work of the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals and look forward to spending the next few days at your convention. Thank you for all that you offer women and families.

To learn more about the Creighton Method, visit their website.

Menstrual Suppression

July 16, 2011 by Leah  
Filed under Latest Thoughts

 “Although a woman taking a menstrual suppression pill will take a few dozen more active hormone pills over the course of a year than a woman taking the 21-day version of the pill, there’s probably [emphasis added]no meaningful increased health risk. The small risks of stroke and blood clots associated with traditional oral contraceptives – increased in women who smoke – are also associated with extended use pills. But even though there are many years of accumulated experience with these drugs, this is a new product so there could be unanticipated effects over the long-term. The drop out rate in the trials has been high, and in the trials of Seasonale, for example, fewer than 300 women were observed for a full year”


"Hang on....just need to suppress my fertility."

While doing research for a paper on women’s perceptions of their fertility (of which there is very little available research), I came across the website for the National Women’s Health Network. The above quote from their page on Menstrual Suppression leapt off the screen at me. “Probably no increased meaningful health risks”? “Fewer than 300 women completed the trials”? And not to mention the side comments about risk of stroke and blood clots…..but no big deal, really.

How in the world was this drug ever approved for use?!? Why are women so willing to take these drugs?

“Menstrual suppression” refers to the hormonal contraceptives on the market that regulate a woman’s monthly bleeding to occur only a few times a year, sometimes only once a year.  They are similar to the regular “Pill” that we’re all familiar with, except that they do not contain the usual placebo pills that allow for an artificial breakthrough bleed each month. As noted with a little asterisk at the bottom of the page;

*The menstrual period of a woman using hormonal contraception is sometimes called withdrawal bleeding. Instead of a natural menstrual cycle controlled by the body’s own hormonal fluctuations, withdrawal bleeding is the body’s reaction to the cessation of the hormone dose that the contraceptive has been providing. Whether she bleeds monthly or quarterly, a woman who takes either traditional or extended cycle oral contraceptive pills is not having a natural period.

The very fact that it is necessary for this to be posted is probably the saddest indicator of our lack of knowledge of how natural fertility really functions and our appreciation for an unbroken system.

The whole idea of menstrual suppression is troubling to me on many levels.   What are we saying about this very natural part of ourselves? What are we willing to do in the name of “convenience”? Do we have any idea what the long-term effects of this might be; not only on our bodies but our relationships as well? Have we given any thought to the supposed benefits of these drugs, or have we bought the lines sold to us by the drug companies focused on making a profit?

I can’t help but wonder what the subtle messages are that we are sending to our daughters when we say things like, “I’m going to skip my period this summer so I can be free to vacation and swim in peace.”? Do they grow up thinking that our bodies and their natural functions simply get in the way of our real purpose, having fun? What are we passing on to our daughters when we embrace these drugs?

There was one point of solace on this particular page, however, and came from the following line, “ Introducing menstruation to pre-adolescents and newly menstruating girls as a negative experience to be avoided may affect the girls’ body image and relationship to their bodies in negative and lasting ways.” Right on! Exactly. Teaching our girls to avoid something very natural to themselves is telling them they are somehow broken.

What do you think about these drugs? Are they really meant to make our lives easier, or are there other agendas at work? What kind of messages do you think we’re sending to our daughters when we take these drugs?