Category > Abortion
Resources about Abortion
- Abortion is a part of people’s lives and has been throughout history. One in three women in the United States will have an abortion in her lifetime. Read Advocates for Youth's factsheet Abortion and Young People in the United States.
- Advocates for Youth's 1 in 3 Campaign is about ending the cultural stigma and shame women are made to feel around abortion. By sharing stories we can empower others to end their silence and encourage all supporters of abortion access to publicly take a stand. Learn more and join the campaign
- If you need an abortion, contact the nearest Planned Parenthood to learn more about the procedure and how to obtain it.
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May 6, 2015
Just as you wrote in your piece, I want to make sure that you know you are not alone. Facing an incredibly difficult decision without support is something that no one should have to go through. Telling your story to this community is an incredibly brave and powerful thing to do. I want you to know that I stand by you, in support of you, and in awe of the courage that it must have taken to share your experience.
I want to tell you that at least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy before the age of 45, and roughly three in ten American women will have an abortion by that age. I want to tell you that you’re a part of this silent community. I want to tell you that people have abortions for a variety of reasons, and that people feel a variety of different ways about their abortions – before, during, and after the procedure.
I want to apologize for the fact that abortion is a topic of shame and stigma in our society, pushed into the corner of things unfit for discussion. I want to recognize that it is okay to feel pain and sadness about your abortion, and it’s also okay to feel emotions across a range of feelings. I want to emphasize that having an abortion does not make you a horrible person in the least.
I want you to know that multiple other students have whispered this very same secret to me, with the very same apprehension and pain that you have expressed. I want you to know that your words will make me care more about every person around me on this campus. I want you to know that despite the shame and stigma surrounding this incredibly common procedure, there are people working to change that.
I want you to heal from this experience, in whatever way you can. I want to thank you for perfectly describing the feeling of impossibility that washes over you when you’re surrounded by resources and still unable to seek out help. I want to remind everyone in our community that in addition to the information and referrals that the Women’s Center can offer, Sexual Health and Relationship Counselors is a confidential place to go with our questions about sexual and reproductive health. I want to shout from the rooftops that off-campus support exists for everyone who has had an abortion. I want to listen to you, to tell you that your feelings and experiences are legitimate. I want to make our campus listen, too.
Anonymous, I cannot do anything to make your experience any easier. I can only continue advocating for equitable access to safe and affordable abortion so that everyone can make an informed choice about this experience. I can only call upon our community to hold your words up in solidarity and support, working against the shaming and stigmatizing tendencies that usually constrain our conversations about abortion. I echo your words with gratitude: “You are not alone.” I hope that our campus is ready for the conversation that you’ve started.
Brianna J. Suslovic
Apr 27, 2015
Inspired by real abortion stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign, and honoring the tradition of theatre in social justice movements, the 1 in 3 Campaign is bringing Out of Silence to a university near you!
From the halls of Congress, to pulpits and court houses around the country, there is so much noise around abortion—but it’s women’s personal stories that have been silenced. Out of Silence is a play comprised of a series of vignettes that bring to light the situations, relationships, emotions and logistics that contextualize peoples’ decisions to seek abortion care.
After the premiere last fall, an overwhelming number of people ask how they could bring Out of Silence to their school.
By hosting a performance, you can help to challenge the stigma around abortion through igniting an honest, raw and complex conversation a theatre near you.
And just by signing up, you’ll receive copies of the script, a toolkit to assist in planning the performance, in addition to 1 in 3 Campaign Materials and swag, all for the low low price of FREE!
So don’t wait! Bring Out of Silence to a school near you, and take these stories out of the silence, to the stage.
Associate Director, Youth Organizing and Mobilization
Advocates for Youth
Apr 20, 2015
Over 75 student groups across the country are participating in the 1 in 3 Week of Action. These young people, using guerilla art tactics, are peppering their campuses with pop-art featuring real people’s abortion stories. They’re helping shake up the conversation among their peers about the role abortion plays in people’s lives.
Cut out three or more, and put them up in your office, dorm rooms, community spaces, or even your local pub! Any high traffic area where someone might stop to read the stories. Then take a pic and share your display using #1in3Stories, or text “1in3Stories” to 877-877, and send them straight to us.
You don’t have to be Banksy to participate – all you need is scissors, tape, and a commitment to ensuring access to legal and safe abortion care in our communities.
In solidarity (and creativity!),
Associate Director, Youth Organizing and Mobilization
Advocates for Youth
Apr 16, 2015
Just several days ago, Labrys, one of the leading LGBTIQ* organization in Kyrgyzstan, was attacked by unknown persons who threw three bottles with explosives.
This is not the first time when offices of human rights organizations have been attacked and human rights activists threatened and harassed by the government. The recent unconstitutional, anti-human rights initiatives of the Kyrgyzstani Parliament are rapidly limiting the spaces and activities of NGOs, thus putting all of civil society under enormous pressure. Moreover, there is an increasing number of pro-traditional values law enforcement agencies, movements and political parties brutally attacking, both verbally and physically, LGBTIQ communities and human rights organizations.
As an ally and human rights activist, it is very heartbreaking to see how state-supported hatred and violence towards LGBTIQ communities can transform into potential legislation.
In March 2014, several Kyrgyzstani MPs introduced a discriminatory, unconstitutional draft law, which would criminalize so-called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” If this law passes, the government would give legal permission to law enforcement agencies to imprison any person who speaks favourably about LGBTIQ rights. In later versions of the bill text, MPs gave their own interpretation by explaining this as sexual relations and attractions between people of the same sex only. Furthermore, the very notion of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” is so vague, that it allows everyone to interpret it in their own way and often in disregard of human rights.
The draft law has already contributed to a rise in hate crimes and hate speech in Kyrgyzstani society against the LGBTIQ community.
Since this draft bill has been introduced, there have been numerous concerns and calls to reject the law from certain national and international human rights organizations, representatives andembassies. Despite this fact, MPs did not withdraw the draft bill, but instead introduced harsher consequences such as criminal liability for dissemination of information and restrictions in forming associations and organizations for protection of LGBTIQ rights. The latest meeting of Parliamentary committee on 17 February, 2015 vividly demonstrated that the majority of government officials and MPs are not willing to reject this bill, but are actively pushing for its adoption and supporting a homophobic, transphobic rhetoric. There are only two readings left, before President will consider endorsement or rejection of this draft bill.
Amidst this new norm, the draft law has unfortunately found large public support.
The majority of people believe this draft law should be adopted to preserve “traditional values”, thus legitimizing populist rhetoric of MPs and allowing them to determine for people these values. Finally, the very discourse in the Parliament about “traditional values” and the consequent introduction of an anti-LGBTIQ draft bill is unconstitutional, because the Kyrgyzstani constitution prioritizes and commits to human rights above all other rights. The consequences of this draft bill will negatively affect our country’s sustainable development process towards democracy and human rights. There is a little chance that the Parliament will withdraw the draft law, but there is still hope that the President of the Kyrgyzstan will reject the bill.
Apr 1, 2015
Politician 24-Hour Delay: CLICK THE LINK FOR A LAUGH!
Let’s talk about the 24-Hour mandatory Delay period for a woman seeking an abortion AKA SB 724 by Senator Flores, HB 633 by Representative Sullivan
WHY? WHY? WHY?
Why should a woman have to wait 24 hours in order to receive an abortion? Any woman seeking an abortion has already thought through this decision. No woman wakes up one morning, realizes they’re pregnant, and immediately drives to an abortion clinic. Did you forget about the “Holy crap! I’m pregnant!” moment which can last days or even weeks- OR the “How do I tell my partner?” moment which takes time after bringing your self to the realization that you are actually pregnant-OR the “What am I going to do?” moment which carries on throughout the rest of her pregnancy.
So again…WHY? State laws that require mandatory delays before a woman can get an abortion do not offer any health benefits. They result in increased expenses, travel difficulties, and medical risks. They unnecessarily postpone the procedure even when a woman has already received state-mandated counseling and made a deliberate and fully informed decision. Additionally, with access to so many online sources, information about receiving an abortion is literally at your fingertips.
Women should be trusted to make their own decisions.
Delaying care based on political and not medical reasons puts women’s health at risk. While abortion is a very safe procedure, it is safer the earlier it is provided.
Today, tomorrow, or even over the weekend take a few minutes to call up your representative or senator and tell them that you oppose SB 724 by Senator Flores and HB 633 by Representative Sullivan.
Because one thing that’s certain is women don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care, or cancer treatments – and politicians have no business in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy.
Stay Informed. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.
Mar 30, 2015
Hearing of Purvi Patel by accident on social media, I rushed and clicked the link for this story about feticide and abortion charges brought against her. I’m pretty sure that most of my South Asian friends probably never heard of Purvi Patel. It’s not every day an Indian woman makes headlines, but when I saw feticide and neglect in several headlines, I could not look away. Most headlines about Indian women and South Asian women overall pertain to some sort of achievement, something to brag about at the family table. Feticide, neglect, abortion: these are topics never mentioned in social circles or at family gatherings. One of my close friends messaged me at the same time, and I was like “please read this when you get a chance.” I shared the link with her, as two South Asian reproductive justice advocates would do. We starting talking about the implications of this decision and what it means for Indian women and South Asian women cohesively. What now? What does Purvi Patel being convicted of feticide and felony neglect of a dependent, with the potential for up to 70 years in prison, mean for young South Asian women navigating their reproductive health care options and choices? Bringing these issues up with their family and friends? Even thinking about how this case pertains to our own sexual and reproductive agency?
I can say that South Asian men may not be publicly involved in or aware of this issue, but there are strong roots of South Asian patriarchy written all over this case. I’ve read several articles about this, and not a single one has mentioned anything about the man involved in the pregnancy. They’re all focused on Purvi’s actions, lifestyle, upbringing. Within the South Asian community, there are higher standards of modesty for women as opposed to men and much more shame associated with women’s sexuality as opposed to men’s. These attitudes and notions further restrict the autonomy of South Asian women, who are always under the gaze of their family and those outside of the community to be upheld to the rules of the patriarchy. Typically, American society views South Asian women as docile, obedient, desexualized, stereotypes that consume us based of racist immigration laws, media depictions (or lack thereof), and orientalist views.
So when abortion, feticide, and reproductive health in general are viewed as “things we do not consider” unless we’re discussing issues “back home” or “things only immodest girls discuss,” we are continuing to be constrained by our depictions of what people want us to be and not who we want to be. I’ve read articles and statements about Purvi Patel and only wonder about the future of the criminalization for reproductive choices for South Asian women and women of color collectively. Purvi Patel is not the first and will not be the last woman of color to be charged with crimes for her reproductive actions. But one is more than enough to start the conversation. It’s time for the South Asian community to start integrating these issues into our daily conversations and to slowly challenge the ways we view South Asian reproductive and sexual agency.
Mar 16, 2015
“Art begins with resistance.” – André Gide
Art has has the power to change perspectives and to start a new dialogue. That’s why it is such a powerful tool for activists. Now, we’re asking you to harness that power to change the conversation around abortion.
During the week of April 13-19, student activists around the country will create pop-up sticker art displays. We’ll send you a roll of the sticker art (don’t worry, they’re removable stickers!) featuring real people’s abortion stories along with simple instructions. You set up and personalize the exhibit any way you like!
Large and eye-catching, you can post these stickers anywhere! Perhaps on the Quad? Your Student Activity Center? The dining hall? Posting the stories in unexpected areas on campus can spark a new conversation among your peers about the role abortion plays in people’s lives. You don’t have to be Banksy to participate – you just need a high-traffic area and time to construct the display.
Register by March 20th so we can send you the supplies you need.
In solidarity (and creativity!),
Associate Director, Youth Organizing and Mobilization
Advocates for Youth
Mar 13, 2015
There seems to be a common themes here at CSW – love, adherence to human rights, and protecting human dignity. However, one particular issue seems to be very polarizing – whether or not women all over the world should have access to abortion services.
During a CSW side event hosted by the Center for Health and Gender Equity, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of young women who so happened to be anti-abortion. Because I am very grateful for my right to free speech and freedom of beliefs, I also respect someone else’s right to disagree with my belief. However, I do believe it is my responsibility as a pro-choice, pro-woman, individual to clear up any misconceptions others may have about my beliefs and the work that I do…and that is what I did with these young women.
Because those at CHANGE (and myself), believe post-rape care includes access to safe abortion services, the group of anti-abortion young women were very upset at the conclusion of the event. Along with some inaccurate “Googled” statistics, I overheard them voicing concerns about the care of women who do choose to end their pregnancy. I decided to go over and speak with them to clarify any misconceptions. Based off the discussion, here are the questions the anti-abortion group seem to have for us:
1. “Why are they pushing women to have abortions? What about adoption or parenting?”
We’re not. The pro-choice movement believes women have the right to choose the trajectory of her pregnancy. We believe in providing women with evidence based, comprehensive information so she may be able to make a well-informed decision that fits her beliefs, needs, and situation. We support women regardless of whether they choose to continue with their pregnancy or terminate the pregnancy. If a woman decides to terminate the pregnancy, we believe she has the right to access safe abortion services. If a woman does not have access to safe abortion services and decides to terminate a pregnancy with unsafe procedures, we believe she has the right to post-abortion care services. If a woman decides to continue with her pregnancy, we believe she has the right to prenatal care, safe childbirth, and postnatal care. We also believe women should be supported in their decision to adopt or parent their child as well. No matter which option a woman chooses, she should come to her decision without coercion.
2. “But I saw on Google that 80% of women suffer psychosocial trauma from having an abortion!”
First and foremost, Google is not a citation. Secondly, when I Googled this I did not find a reputable, unbiased source reporting this figure. And when I mean reputable, I mean I did a search on Google Scholar and skimmed through several pages of search results from research journals and could not find this figure. What I did find is that most women do not regret their choice to have an abortion. In the spirit of fairness, I did say most – not all. I am sure there are women who do struggle with their decision. However, denying all women the right to bodily autonomy, health, and individual beliefs is not the appropriate response to those few women who made an autonomous decision and now feel unsure about it (but we should definitely support them as well). Finally, if we are able to provide comprehensive post-rape care in conflict zones, such services would ideally include access to both short-term and long-term psychosocial counseling for women.
3. “Well I was a victim of sexual assault and I’m okay. If I ended up pregnant, I would never terminate the pregnancy.”
Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I’m really glad to hear you were able to overcome what happened to you. I also respect the choice you have made for yourself. However, as important as your experience is, please respect the diverse and numerous experiences of women all around the world. Please respect that some women may find other options better suit their lives – both in the moment or in the future. Please realize that every woman is not you, and every woman does not believe what you believe. Please come from a place of love and empathy and support fellow women instead of trying to impose your individual believes on entire populations.
4. “So at what point do you consider what’s inside a woman to be a baby? Why don’t you just say baby!?”
In the United States, 24 weeks – because that’s when a fetus is able to live outside the womb. Otherwise, I am not here to change your ideology on when a human life begins – that’s your choice to decide. I am only here to make sure you understand that women will choose to have abortions regardless of when you think life begins. My job is to advocate for people who are born, living, and may suffer. Unfortunately, making safe abortions inaccessible does not keep women from having them. However, keeping abortions safe ensures that all women maintain the right to choice, meaning you can continue to believe what you believe without imposing your beliefs on others.
5. “Why do you all keep saying unsafe abortion? What does that even mean?”
I’m glad you asked. Unfortunately, the anti-abortion movement has failed to acknowledge the difference between unsafe abortion and safe abortion by simply deeming all abortion “bad”. Unsafe abortions constitute any method of terminating a pregnancy that leads to complications. Unsafe abortions are usually performed by an unskilled person in an environment lacking minimal medical standards. An unsafe abortion may be induced by sticks, wire hangers, caustic chemicals, or throwing one’s self down the stairs to end a pregnancy. Such methods can lead to uterine perforation, sepsis, hemorrhage, and death. Women living poverty, women living in rural areas, women in developing countries, and women living in countries where abortion is illegal are at most risk of undergoing an unsafe abortion. On the contrary, safe abortions ensure the lives of women are preserved. Safe abortions are performed in medical facilities with skilled providers using evidence-based practices. Facilities where safe abortions are provided ideally offer contraceptive counseling to ensure women are able to prevent a future pregnancy if she chooses.
In conclusion, the anti-abortion movement fails to protect the lives of women in the name of personal beliefs that everyone may not hold. It impedes freedom of beliefs and the right to maintain health and life. It devalues women all over the world and fails to respect their diverse experiences. Imposing your belief to deny women the right to choice is unjust and dangerous. Ensuring abortion is legal, safe, and accessible for all women will not only prevent death and morbidity; it will also ensure all are able to make self-determined decisions for the trajectory of a pregnancy.
Mar 2, 2015
This March 10th marks the 20th anniversary of National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. Let’s take this opportunity to honor and celebrate the people who risk so much to ensure access to safe reproductive health care every day.
Every single day, abortion providers, nurses and clinic staff stand with young people, women, and their families, often at great risks to themselves, to ensure access to safe medical care – care that 1 in 3 women will need in her lifetime.
Help us flood provider’s mailboxes with postcards of support, gratitude and appreciation. Register by tomorrow to receive a box of postcards designed by our good friend, Heather Ault from 4000 Years for Choice. Gather with your friends, colleagues, and classmates to write notes of appreciation and send to your local provider.
This National Abortion Provider Day, help us flood provider’s mailboxes with postcards of support, gratitude and appreciation for all that they do. Register by tomorrow to receive a box of postcards designed by Heather Ault of 4000 Years of Choice! #NAPD #1in3 http://bit.ly/VolunteerNAPD15
Feb 25, 2015
i just felt a jolt
did again father beat you?
i just felt a pain
did father again hurt you?
i am scared!
i know father will treat me the same!
i am afraid
i know father ll make you bleed again!!
please do whatever father says you to do!
i know you love me,and i love you too.
but oh mom!
because of me
i can’t see you being blue!
thatswhy do as father says you to do!
soon ill be gone!
i ll miss your womb
i wish to get your kiss once
but alas! i am a girl ,mom
till then i ll be dead and numb!!!
SAY NO TO SEX SELECTIVE CHILD ABORTION!!
Feb 11, 2015
Want to show your love for access to safe abortion care this Valentine’s Day? Bee sweet to your honey, or some otter special person in your life and send them a 1 in 3 Valentine for just $5! Check out the new Valentines for 2015!
Jan 28, 2015
In a surprising turn of events Wednesday night, House Republican leadership decided to cancel their Thursday vote on a 20-week abortion ban. The decision was largely driven by GOP Congresswomen who felt that the details of the ban were too harsh and would further alienate their party from young and female voters in 2016. The bill, which made the usual exemptions for rape, incest, and the life of the parent, did so in a more restrictive way than is usually attempted. The rape exemption only applies to survivors who have already reported their assault to the police (something that happens in only an estimated 35% of rape cases), and the incest exemption also requires prior reporting, but is only available to survivors who are 17 years old or younger.
During an interview, Congresswoman Renee Ellmers of South Carolina described her hesitation on the restriction of the rape exemption. “The issue becomes,” she said, “we’re questioning the woman’s word. We have to be compassionate to women when they’re in a crisis situation.”
With similar concern, Congressman Charles Dent of Pennsylvania voiced his confusion on the logic behind the age limit of the incest exemption. “So the exception would apply to a 16-year-old but not a 19-year-old?” he questioned. “I mean, incest is incest.”
While the bill, titled the (medically inaccurate) Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is off the House floor for now, Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey isn’t ready to give up on it. While speaking to the House Rules Committee, he said, “I would just briefly mention that the pain-capable legislation is only delayed. It’ll be up on the floor, it’ll be up on the floor soon. That bill, I promise you, will be back on the floor very, very shortly.” It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to make this happen given the dissention that has made itself evident within the party as they’re trying to make the GOP more palatable to younger voters before next year’s Presidential election.
Instead, the Republicans decided to vote today on a different anti-abortion bill, one called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. It passed by 242-179, with only one Republican voting against it and three Democrats voting in favor.
While the bill makes it sound like there is currently federal money being used to fund abortions, that’s just not the case- not entirely. What’s known as the Hyde Amendment has been routinely passed each year for decades and states that no federal funds may be used to assist poor women in accessing abortion services. The amendment does have exemptions for rape, incest, and the life of the parent, but the bill voted on today also allows for those exemptions. The only difference is that today’s bill would make the funding restriction permanent.
In addition, the bill also bans the federal government from subsidizing health insurance plans which offer coverage for one of the most common out-patient medical procedures in the country: abortion. One-third of American women will have an abortion by the time they are 45. Considering how many people of reproductive age are currently getting an affordable, reduced rate on their health insurance plans thanks to ObamaCare, the passage of this bill through the House is a national health concern.
Now that the Senate has a Republican majority as well, pro-choice and pro-abortion activists cannot rely on bills like this being restricted to one chamber of Congress. President Obama promised in Tuesday’s State of the Union address that he would veto any 20-week abortion ban, and while he’s very likely to veto this funding bill should it pass the Senate, reproductive rights in America are far from secure.
Jan 22, 2015
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe V. Wade, a landmark moment for women across our country. People could, supposedly, seek legal and safe abortions, without fear. However, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, clinic protestors, and violent stigmas, this has not always held true for all people, especially people of color and people of low socio-economic status.
The Hyde Amendment has been in place since the mid 1970’s, being renewed every year. This amendment bans all federal money for abortion services, which translates to – federal health insurance for low income families and disabled folk such as Medicaid and Medicare, cannot cover any abortion services.
This is a barrier that affects our communities the most. My family, being one of mixed race and lower socio-economic status, has been consistently affected by this amendment throughout our generations. In order to better understand the struggles our women have been facing for the last 40 years, I decided to ask an expert of confronting, overcoming, and defeating struggle – my mother.
C- Tell me your story. What was it like when all of this was just happening and you were younger?
M- I was very lucky, when I was in high school, I could go to the city. You could get them, you didn’t have many protests, but I couldn’t imagine at that point having to walk through protests to, you know, try to make the right decision. Back then, we didn’t have the 24 hour thing; you went in, walked out. I do know several people who had the child and at that point, the family and everything was more invested in the child than they were, so in the first 6 months, two of them dumped the kids on their parents and split. The children had all sorts of problems because she didn’t want the kid and was partying her ass off trying to miscarry all because she didn’t have $400.
C- What about your story? How was it like for you?
M- I happened to be lucky where I came from. These things were available. The first time I had an abortion I was 17, my friend sent me to a back alley place in Harlem for only $150. It horrified me. So I went to my father and was able to get the money to do it right. I was really lucky.
C- So when it comes to women on Medicaid and Medicare not being able to access these services, women like yourself, how do you feel about it?
M- I think it’s unfair, I think people that need access to terminations are low-income and they’re the ones that have no access to it.
C- So how did the Hyde Amendment ultimately affect you and your community?
M- It made it difficult, I know people that had children cause they couldn’t afford the abortion. I mean, where’s the choice in that?
Forty years later, and our women and our people are still fighting for the right to choose. We cannot leave folk living in poverty, folk of color, and disabled folk out of these conversations. And the Hyde Amendment is doing just that.
If you want to keep the Hyde Amendment off of our more permanent law books, call/email your U.S. Senator and vocalize your thoughts on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion bill.
Find Your Senator
Jan 21, 2015
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that in 1973 gave women the right to make their own choices about their own bodies and futures. The decision of the Supreme Court to uphold a women’s right to privacy under the due process clause of the constitution gave way for safe and legal abortions services to be something that every American woman has access to.
What a moment of pride for progressives and feminist everywhere, many people said. What a moment of pride for ALL Americans, I choose to believe. What a moment of pride when our nation believes that all women are worth enough that we have the choice over our own lives and to determine when are ready, prepared and equipped to become mothers.
I know that right now, at nineteen years of age, I am not ready to be a parent. I am far too selfish, have no money to support another person and I don’t have the time to be the parent I would want to be. And though I have never faced a pregnancy, I have chosen to use contraception in my life. My choice is to not have a child now. One day I hope to be ready to be a mother and that is MY choice.
That is what Roe v. Wade gave me and every woman in America.
I love children. I love toddlers and babies and I will be a mother. But not yet,not in this period of my life. Right now I need to live for me, so that when that tiny human comes into my world, I can be living for them. My belief in choice doesn’t mean that I don’t like kids or don’t believe in the sanctity of life (thank you pro-life posters in my dorm hallway for this suggestion). It means that I believe in the life that is already with us on this planet. It means that I recognize the lives around me and that the women who walk beside me can choose to be mothers when they’re ready to be mothers. It means that with choice, comes women who are ready, women who want children, and women who, prepared, can be the best mothers possible.
Tomorrow’s anniversary is a day that many pro-life supporters take to rally in protest of the Roe v. Wade decision. This year’s slogan “Why We March,” makes it that much harder for me to see this march for the continuation for shame and stigma, especially as we mark another Day of Remembrance for Martin Luther King Jr. and his struggle for justice. Tomorrow is a day for celebration, not shame. Tomorrow is a celebration of choice. So I invite you to March tomorrow, and paste all over social media #WhyWeMarch for the real reasons. From the suicides of bullied transgender teens, to the killing of unarmed black men; from the chipping away of abortion rights, to needs of young immigrants, we march every day.
Choice. It’s a powerful word.
Jan 21, 2015
This week, coinciding with the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Advocates for Youth hosted the D.C. performance of Out of Silence: Abortion Stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign. One of the reasons that the 1 in 3 campaign has been so powerful is because it centers the voices of people who have abortions. Unfortunately, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we will also be watching the House of Representatives vote to ban abortions after 20 weeks. It is a stark reminder how little many of our legislators value the voices and experiences of the 1 out of 3 women who will have an abortion in her lifetime. The stories people share with us show that each person faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications, and how important it is that she is able to make her own decisions based on what’s right for her and her loved ones. Young people in particular are more likely to face barriers to accessing safe abortion care and may be forced to delay an abortion because they need time to assemble the funds, or lack transportation or access to a provider. Parental consent and notification laws in many states also force young women to delay safe medical care. For young people in one of the 38 states that mandate parental involvement in minors’ abortions, trying to obtain an abortion may look like this:
A 16 year old high school student from rural Louisiana realizes she is pregnant and decides to have an abortion. The fees at closest clinic to her, which is still over two hours away, range from $400 to over $800 for the procedure. She will need to make two trips to the clinic, first for the state-mandated “counseling” session, for which she may have to pay an additional fee, and then after the state-mandated 24 hour waiting period for her actual procedure. She will have to find a way to get out of class without getting in trouble and a ride to get to the clinic for both of her appointments, as well as the money for her procedure. As a minor, Louisiana requires her to get a parent or guardian’s written consent before obtaining an abortion. Most young people do consult with their parents before seeking an abortion, but for those who can’t, those afraid to anger or disappoint, or who face the threat of violence in their homes, it is best for them to seek the advice of a trained medical professional than to face the situation alone and afraid. Instead, parental notification requires minors who do not or cannot obtain written parental consent to seek official approval from a judge.
To do so, she must first visit the clinic to obtain written documentation that she is pregnant, which can cost more money on top of her procedure. She then must fill out a judicial bypass application, with help from a volunteer attorney if she wants and can wait for one. Then, she must bring her documentation and her application to the correct courthouse when it is open (which is generally during school hours). Provided the courthouse staff knows the laws and procedures of the process, they will allow her to file her form and require that she either pays a filing fee or fill out a fee waiver. If there is a judge willing to take her application, she will be given a hearing date, which is supposed to be within 48 hours. She must attend the hearing, requiring arranging another ride and more time off from school, and will be appointed a lawyer – who may or may not be supportive of her right to have an abortion – if she did not opt for a volunteer lawyer before. At the hearing, the judge can ask her a range of personal questions about her background and the circumstances of her pregnancy. It is then in the judge’s hands to grant her permission, if he deems her “mature” and informed enough or that it is otherwise in her best interest. If the judge rules in her favor, she can take the order he gives her to the abortion clinic for her procedure appointments. If the judge rules against her, she can appeal the judge’s decision, which requires more forms and another hearing within 48 hours of the first judge’s decision.
Every day young people navigate this process to make the healthcare decisions that are best for them. As one young women shared with the 1 in 3 campaign, “Society has everyone think that we have no power over our own bodies and choices, and at 15 legally we almost have none. At only 15 years of age I KNEW that I did not want to bring a child into this world to struggle with a young mother . . . I knew I had to get this abortion without my mom’s consent because she would not allow it to happen . . . I found out that I had to get a waiver signed by a judge. So on the day of my appointment (at the clinic) I would have to present the waiver to the receptionist. So I lied to my brother (knowing that he was anti-abortion) and made up a different story convincing him to take me to the court house.”
At the same time, politicians work to make it even harder for young people to access the safe abortion care they need by pushing harmful bans and restrictions. Proactive legislation being introduced, including the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would help remove many of the unnecessary and harmful restrictions and prevent new restrictions from being enacted into law, still this pro-active bill excludes protections for young women’s access to safe abortion. As Roe v. Wade turns 42, let’s focus on something different: the voices of people who have abortions. In that spirit, I will close with a quote from Suzy: “My abortion was a way to affirm that I am in control of my life and my future, whatever it may hold. It is not something that eats me up, but rather something that makes me grateful to live in a society where I had a choice about my health. Hopefully it stays that way.”
Nov 19, 2014
As a sophomore at the University of Maine, I am an active member of the Student Women’s Associate, I am a campus representative of a national abortion campaign, the 1 in 3 Campaign, and I started a new student organization about sexual health rights and issues for college students. So, why is it so hard for me to write an article about abortion? I have come at this article from a handful of different angles, but still it is hard for me to find the one that relates abortion specifically to my college peers. At times, I am borderline overly passionate about women’s rights and abortion access and I’ll discuss it with anyone who wants to, but still I cannot find a way to get my huge community of a public state university to care.
There is just not a huge discussion surrounding abortion rights and access for young people on my campus. It is so stigmatized and taboo, that no conversation has been started that I can join. This makes my job so much harder. There is no anti-choice group on my campus, for which I am so grateful and excited, but still there is no contrast or dynamic. I don’t think many students at UMaine are thinking about abortion, so how do I get us involved?
The 1 in 3 Campaign is wonderful because it brings abortion to a personal level. One in three women in their lifetime will get an abortion and women are a part of every single individual’s life on this campus. Women are half of my college’s population. It sounds trivial at times to say, “this woman could be your mother, your sister, your girlfriend!” because it is even more personal than that. Abortion affects both men and women because it’s intrinsically who we are and therefore there needs to be a bigger conversation in our community.
The 1 in 3 Online Abortion Speak Out brings light to real people who have real abortions because it makes it relatable. Through storytelling, t normalizes this choice for everyone, but it is especially necessary for this normalization on our college campus. Abortion doesn’t need to be feared, it doesn’t need to be awkward or taboo, because it’s a part of life. I encourage my campus to stop by our viewing of the Online Abortion Speak Out in the Bangor Room on Thursday, November 20th at 3:00 pm.
Oct 23, 2014
Courts play a pretty big role in shaping the ways that we can – and can’t – make decisions about our lives, including about how we want to build our families and if we are able to access healthcare or to exercise our right to vote. But, a lot of these decisions can fall under the radar. Here’s a quick round-up of recent court decisions and how some of those decisions are playing out.
Hobby Lobby’s Fallout:
As you may remember, in June the Supreme Court decided Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius. The decision stated that a limited number of corporations have the right deny insurance coverage of contraception to their employees based on the religious beliefs of the corporation’s owners. This was silly and stupid and the first time the Court had said any corporations have religious rights. Also, the Court was super unclear about what kinds of corporations have these rights, making all the lawyers go
The lawyers in the Obama administration are trying to figure out what the Court was talking about and how they can try to make sure birth control is covered for as many women as possible, so they are taking comments on new rules. We reached out to our youth activists in the last couple weeks to solicit comments that emphasize the importance of access to contraceptives for young people, and yesterday Advocates joined some of our partners to deliver 88,000 comments directly to the administration!
The Supreme Court Fall 2014
The Supreme Court has been having quite some fun this fall pulling a Ron Swanson.
Last Tuesday, in an unsigned and unexplained decision, the Supreme Court prevented key parts of Texas’ new abortion law, HB 2, from going into effect while the law is being litigated. This means that 13 of the abortion clinics that were shuttered by HB 2’s requirements can reopen (though not all of them necessarily will). So good news!! But also, all is still not okay in Texas.
At 5 a.m. last Saturday morning, the Court issued an unsigned, unexplained decision Texas’ voter ID law to remain in place while litigation continues. This follows an unsigned, unexplained decision allowing Ohio officials to block the expansion of early voting for now, and another unsigned unexplained decision in which the Supreme Court actually sided with voting rights (!), temporarily halting Wisconsin’s voter ID law.
In better news, the Court decided not to hear appeals on several same-sex marriage cases, letting the decisions of the lower courts stand. By doing so, the Court allowed same sex marriages to go forward in Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. As of October 21, the number of states with marriage equality is 32, with more on the way!
A lowlight from the lower courts: Alabama’s awful parental involvement law, and the Judges who are awful all on their own
The ACLU recently filed suit challenging Alabama’s new parental involvement in abortion law. The law created draconian rules that required young people under 18 to get parental permission before obtaining an abortion, or to request a “judicial bypass” by following a procedure that required the involvement of the District Attorney and allowed the judge to appoint an advocate for the fetus. Even more depressing, Mother Jones has found that judges had been making the judicial bypass process horrifying and dehumanizing for young people all by themselves for years.
Oct 12, 2014
Last week’s episode of Doctor Who, ‘Kill the Moon,’ was blatantly anti-abortion.
The episode begins with Clara confronting the Doctor about being rude to one of her students, Courtney, by telling her that she isn’t special. Even to the girl’s face he won’t apologize. We’re left to wonder what happened to the Doctor’s old belief, voiced by Matt Smith, that in 900 years he’d never met anyone who wasn’t important before. Seemingly to appease them, he asks Courtney if she’d like to be the first woman on the moon. (Why you would take a child to the moon on a trip that has good precedent of turning out dangerously, I don’t understand.)
So they get to the moon and surprise surprise they’ve accidently jumped 35 years into the future and something has gone terribly wrong; the moon has “put on weight.” There’s some killer bacteria spiders, a few people die, and then we come to the big moral dilemma. Turns out the moon is actually a giant egg that’s about to hatch some kind of brand-new, winged, moon-sized beast. Luckily, the one remaining astronaut, Lundvik, happens to have 100 nuclear bombs.
- Use the bombs to kill it and prevent apocalypse-sized moon-chunks from destroying life on Earth and keep the creature from attacking Earth.
- Let the “innocent baby” hatch and see what happens.
Clara asks the Doctor for help, but he refuses, being a huge, insensitive jerk about it. He says it’s their moon; their decision; and he gets in the TARDIS and disappears. Not feeling qualified to make the decision herself, Clara sends a message to Earth: Turn your lights off if we should use the bombs; keep your lights on if we should do nothing. She gives them one hour to decide. Not surprisingly, due to the time of day, they can only see responses from Western Europe and the eastern United States. (I guess Asia’s opinion doesn’t matter and let’s not bother to look at the Southern hemisphere.)
So Earth clearly votes to use the bombs. Lundvik goes for the button, but half a second before she can press it, Clara presses the other button to end the detonation countdown. Immediately, the Doctor shows up again and rushes them all into the TARDIS. He flies them to a beach on Earth and tells Clara that he knew she would make the right decision. They then watch as the creature hatches, the rocky moon shell disintegrates, the creature lays a new moon-sized-egg (from its moon-sized body- don’t ask questions) and then flies away.
The Doctor then explains that this moment, instead of being the end of mankind, is actually the moment that our sense of wonder and exploration of space is restored and we go on to develop technology that enables us to travel the universe once Earth is no longer habitable and thereby ensures the continued existence of human beings until the end of time.
Well! Good thing we didn’t abort that baby which had a 99% chance of destroying all human life, huh?!
This is the science-fiction version of “What if the baby you aborted had cured cancer?!” And this wasn’t even a human baby! It was a moon-sized creature! Yet the episode made it painfully clear that even though Earth chose “abortion,” Clara’s decision to risk the lives of 7 billion people was the right decision. Anti-choicers always try to bully and guilt pregnant people into continuing their pregnancies, no matter the consequences to anyone. This episode went so far over the top to say that this “pregnancy,” this “baby,” would save the human race from extinction, conveniently forgetting after-the-fact the reality that allowing this “pregnancy” to continue had a much higher chance of causing the extinction of the human race. Doesn’t that matter??
If even in this situation, with such clear and high risks of everything going wrong and people not being able to handle the outcome, abortion is still the wrong choice…when is it the right one?
Outside of the world of science fiction, many countries in the world today have laws which agree that abortion should never be an option. As of June, 2013, abortion is illegal in all circumstances in 29 countries and in 37 countries it is only permitted to save the life of the pregnant person. Just over 25% of the world’s population live in these 66 countries. (Guttmacher has more detailed information on the legality of abortion in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.)
Rates of abortion are not lower where it is illegal, though a much higher percentage of these abortions are unsafe. In 2003 and 2008, unsafe abortions accounted for 16% of all maternal deaths. In 2005, it was estimated that 8.5 million women suffered serious complications from unsafe abortions, and that 3 million of them never received the aftercare they needed.
When a popular show like Doctor Who, then, sets up a plot line where abortion is the wrong choice- even when the “pregnancy” risks the lives of an entire planet- it sends a deeper message that mere entertainment. Illegal abortion and abortion with heavy restrictions hurt families every day and in too many cases lead to death. It’s not entertaining. When people are not able to safely end their pregnancies, it doesn’t lead to expanding technologies in space travel. There are extremely serious consequences to people not being in control of their reproductive functions.
It was irresponsible of Doctor Who to send such a harsh anti-abortion message. Access to safe abortion will always be a necessity and no one should be made to feel guilty for needing one. No one needs an alien who looks like an old, white man to make them doubt their carefully considered decision; they get more than enough of that as it is.
Anti-abortion rhetoric is harmful no matter where it comes from, whether it’s Congress, Parliament, or a fictional character. In fact, messages like this from popular culture may cause an ever deeper impact on the way we think about abortion. Abortion is not a topic that comes up much in pop culture, so those of us who are pro-choice need to use this as a tool to discuss abortion access and reproductive justice. Where media gets it wrong, it’s up to us to make it right!
Oct 7, 2014
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Alabama on behalf of one of its only abortion clinics to block a new parental involvement law that could put some young people on trial simply for seeking abortion care. Alabama’s restriction is one of the worst laws in a huge, nasty pile of laws passed by state legislatures to put obstacles in the way of people – particularly poor people, people of color, and young people – who are seeking abortions.
Parental involvement laws require that when people under eighteen seek abortion care, they notify or get consent from one or both parents first. Most young people seeking abortions do involve their parents, but there are a variety of reasons that is not always possible. In fact, one study found that thirty percent of pregnant teens who do not tell their parents about their abortions make that decision because they fear violence or being kicked out of their homes. Young people who are not threatened with abuse in their homes may be afraid to let their families down or uncomfortable involving their parents. Yet, under these laws in order to get around the parental involvement requirement a person has to file an petition to the court for a “judicial bypass” saying that the person is mature enough to make the decision to get an abortion – petitions judges can and do reject. Parental involvement laws delay access to abortion, endanger health and safety, and fundamentally disrespect young people’s ability to make their own decisions. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld just such a law in the early 1990s, and 38 states have adopted them. Alabama has required people under 18 to get the signature of one parent or legal guardian since 1987.
This past year, however, Alabama passed a new law that is unimaginably worse. As the ACLU wrote in its brief to the court, the law “radically alters the judicial bypass process in a wholly unprecedented manner that goes well beyond any judicial bypass statute that has ever been upheld by a federal court.” Now, when a person under 18 petitions for a judicial bypass, the District Attorney is automatically notified, and the court may appoint an advocate for the fetus (Yes, you read that right!). Further, if the person’s parents know of the bypass proceeding already, the court must allow them to participate. The District Attorney, fetus, and parents may call any witnesses they want to testify against the person’s petition – including witnesses who may be the very reason the person has chosen to ask for a judicial bypass in the first place, such as an abusive partner or family member. With this law, Alabama is literally putting young people who need abortion care on trial.
It is best for young people who find themselves pregnant to be able to seek the advice of a trained medical professional rather than face the situation alone and afraid. Further, young people should have the same right to access the full range of reproductive and sexual health services that other people have. That right includes the ability to access reproductive and sexual health services confidentially and with dignity. It does not include being put on trial to get the services they need. The Alabama legislature seems to have forgotten this, but hopefully the courts have not.
This blog is cross-posted at Law Students for Reproductive Justice’s reporepro.lsrj.org.
Sep 30, 2014
Written by Heather, an activist with the 1 in 3 Campaign.
With the 38th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment here, allow me to dispel some myths using basic math. Here’s the myth: millennials and those born after Hyde was implemented are apathetic or are no longer doing the work to lift the health care coverage bans that deny abortion services to so many. Here are the facts: I, a 24-year-old born 14 years after Hyde, was among 180 abortion access advocates that participated in the All* Above All Hill Education Day during September 16-17. At a reception event the night before we were to take on the Hill those in attendance were asked “how many of us were born after the Hyde Amendment?” An overwhelming majority of the room, including myself, raised their hands not only to represent that we’re still here as a force doing this work but some of us are here as people who are still hindered by this harmful amendment.
In fact, 1 in 4 women or people with female assigned reproductive systems (FARS) that are of reproductive age are Medicaid recipients and 1 in 3 women or people will have an abortion in their lifetime. This puts a particular strain on low income people, people of color who are disproportionately low income, immigrants, incarcerated women and people, and youth who may also fall into some of the above categories. Earlier this year after a trip to the emergency room I had to apply for public funding to cover the remainder of my hefty medical bills. I would be denied this same funding in the event that I needed to access abortion services.
All of the above reasons are why I, like the rest of the 179 advocates, participated in this huge day of taking action. We were split up into teams that altogether met with 95 supportive Congressional offices, 13 of which were scheduled with members of Congress themselves, and represented over 25 states and the District of Columbia. Our message was delivered loud and clear regarding the absolute imperative to lift the bans on abortion and discuss the work that is already being put in place such as the most recent Be Bold Roadtrip. This campaign had the Bravemobile travel over 10,000 miles to 12 cities in 9 states to hold rallies and gather petitions that garnered support and raised awareness for this issue. We are going to continue to lay the ground work that it’s going to take to undo the 38 years of harmful Hyde. This is a legacy that has not and will not stop building.
To commemorate this work as a response to this 38th anniversary of the Hyde amendment the great news is that you don’t have to travel to Washington, DC but you can effect real change right where you live! Start by signing the All* Above All declaration today. You can also apply to become a 1 in 3 campus chapter next year which is what I did to get involved in this awesome work! We’ve got to keep being brave, bold, and united in building the power that will insure reproductive health and access for all people.
Sep 29, 2014
No person should have their pregnancy options limited because they cannot afford to have an abortion. We have not fully secured abortion rights until everyone has access to safe, affordable abortion care.
That’s why we are part of All* Above All, a coalition of organizations committed to restoring public funding for abortion care.
Thirty-eight years ago today, the Hyde Amendment was passed for the first time, barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion care. Every year, politicians in Congress renew the amendment and deny abortion coverage for individuals who get their insurance or health care through the federal government. Enough is enough!
We ask our members of Congress to affirm their support for the removal of all restrictions on coverage of abortion care, so that every person can make personal decisions that are best for their circumstances, without political interference.
Funding restrictions like the Hyde Amendment force one in four women insured through the Medicaid program to carry unintended pregnancies to term. And the proportion is even higher among younger women, who are less likely to have a steady source of income and more likely to be uninsured. The Hyde Amendment’s ban on using federal funds for abortion means that federal employees and their dependents, military families, people with disabilities, Native Americans who use the Indian Health Service, and many families on Medicaid all lack coverage for abortion care.
Every year, politicians in Congress deny abortion coverage to individuals who get their insurance or health care through the federal government. Tell Congress enough is enough! All women should be able to make their own decisions abt #abortion despite their income! http://ow.ly/C02uX #BeBoldEndHyde
Aug 6, 2014
Are you tired of politicians interfering in your personal health decisions? Fed up with the growing number of states that are making it ever more difficult to access abortion care?
Yeah, so are we. That’s why were are linking up with All* Above All for their Be Bold Road Trip! This summer, All* Above All, a campaign to restore and sustain abortion coverage, is traveling around the country visiting 12 cities, 8 states and covering more than 10,000 miles to build nationwide support and call on Congress to stop denying critical abortion coverage and health care services to low-income women.
Visit the #bravemobile to learn more about abortion coverage bans, sign a wall of support for lifting these restrictions, snap selfies, and hear abortion stories that bring the issues to life. Ultimately we want to send the message to politicians in Washington, DC, that we’ve had enough of them interfering in personal decision-making.
It’s time to for us to unite and lift the bans that deny abortion coverage to low income women. RSVP YOURSELF and a FRIEND for the BE BOLD TOUR.
Jul 22, 2014
The Supreme Court’s buffer zone decision has the potential to have adverse affects on the sexual health of youth. American youth already have higher rates of unintended pregnancies-despite the latest decline in rates, growing rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and receive misinformation about sexual health all the time (read abstinence only sex education in public schools).
By not upholding the buffer zones outside of abortion clinics the Supreme Court just unanimously put youth in America at greater sexual health risk.
The first time I went to a clinic for sexual health information and services was after I had my daughter. I was 16 or so and went to the only place I had hear about, Planned Parenthood. Thankfully I did not encounter protestors however, some of my friends had; they commented that they were afraid to go inside the clinic because of the angry mob outside so they left.
While they were not there for abortion services the anti choice crowd outside caused so much fear to them that they did not go inside and speak to a sexual health professional about safer sex, free condoms, and or HIV and STI testing.
They knew of no where else to go and unfortunately one of their first attempts to make well informed sexual health decision for themselves was ruined by ill informed, intimidating, and aggressive anti-choicers. While they think they are “stopping” abortions from happening, they are actually stopping youth from making sexual health decisions and establishing healthy and responsible sexual health practices early on in life.
The Supreme Court let us all down but youth just might be the most vulnerable population to feel and deal with the adverse effects this decision can have on our health.
Jun 30, 2014
It’s been a tough few days for us here at Advocates. Last week the Supreme Court ruled against buffer zones at abortion clinics, and just a couple hours ago the Court put women’s access to contraception in jeopardy.
We could give you a long, legal explanation of the cases, but in short—until our society recognizes that sexuality is a normal, healthy part of being human, we’ll continue to get devastating decisions like these.
Shifting the culture around these issues is one of the most powerful tools we have as activists. Young people in communities around the world are already fighting for change. Help support them. Donate today.
We can do this.
May 14, 2014
Guest post by Lara Brooks
Lara S. Brooks is a Chicago-based youth worker fighting for transformative justice, queer and trans youth spaces, a never-ending supply of harm reduction options, and holistic health access for youth experiencing homelessness. Brooks works with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health as a youth rights advocate.
During the first week of April 2014, youth leaders rallied at the Illinois state capitol to advocate for their reproductive rights and generate awareness about the dangers of the Parental Notification of Abortion Law (PNA). The Illinois PNA law requires that any person under 18 years of age seeking access to abortion services must have an adult family member (someone who is a parent, legal guardian, grandparent, or step-parent who lives with the young person) notified at least 48 hours before a medical provider can perform the abortion. There are similar laws in 38 states around the US.
As a long-time youth worker, sexual assault counselor, and former director of a youth center, I know that young people, navigating complex realities and complicated systems, are making informed and thoughtful decisions about their bodies—something that the very premise of PNA erases altogether. As an advocate and youth ally, I resist that erasure. At the recent youth rally in Springfield, I witnessed how powerful the voices and stories of youth can be when lifted up as part of policy conversations around the reproductive rights of youth.
The dangers of PNA, in combination with existing barriers to abortion access, disproportionately impacts youth who are in danger of or currently experiencing homelessness, housing instability, violence, and neglect. Based on my experiences working with young people, I know the trauma, danger, and crisis induced by PNA directly exacerbates violence, neglect, and homelessness. For already unstably housed young people, parental notification of abortion laws are just as dangerous as laws in other states that require written consent.
Most significantly, PNA does nothing to address the systemic or structural roots of this critical question: What are the lived realities of many young people in Illinois that make it unsafe to inform PNA’s list of approved adults and guardians in the first place?
I believe responding to the harms of PNA demands an intersectional, holistic response that includes all of us—young people, families, communities, youth workers, adult allies, healthcare providers, health educators, parents, and organizers. Despite barriers to comprehensive sexual health information and accessible healthcare, young people create powerful relationships within their communities, grow life-saving chosen families, and build critical, supportive and trusting relationships with extended family members, educators, youth workers, counselors, and other caring adults. Young people are actively striving to reduce their isolation in ways that are inspiring. As a youth worker, I witness this type of resilience every day.
The Reproductive Justice Movement that I want to be a part of builds its base by connecting and centering the real, lived experiences of young people. It connects to and learns from Environmental, Disability, Healing, and Health Justice Movements. It intersects with Racial, Queer and Trans* (transgender, gender variant, gender non-conforming, and gender questioning), Transformative Justice, and Economic Justice Movements. No one is disposable and solutions support both immediate and long-term goals and needs. For example, how are we holistically connecting struggles for reproductive health access with Trans* health access? How does Reproductive Justice intersect with state violence, policing, and discrimination? Which clients and patients are the most disposable in our current healthcare systems? How does a sex- and body-positive, gender-affirming, and trauma-informed health care system benefit all of us?
Structural and intersectional responses to reduce the harms of PNA, in this moment, include all of us. Reproductive Justice pushes me to critically question and complicate definitions of self-determination, choice, and consent. And, at the same time, Reproductive Justice implores us to transform the conditions which may lead to increased violence for a young person seeking reproductive health options and abortion access.
I know we can do better and show up for young people by:
- Complicating narratives about consent and self-determination by creating spaces that allow young people to share their real lives in their own words.
- Listening to, trusting, and believing young people.
- Acknowledging that young people may be taking care of and supporting (emotionally, financially) the same family members that they are forced to inform when seeking abortion access.
- Increasing access to safe, gender-affirming, sex-positive, trauma-informed, and body-positive healthcare and health education.
- Creating alternative health-focused projects, organizations, and clinics with values in relationship building and harm reduction. Many of us feel a sense of disposability as staff, patients, and/or clients within health-focused organizations, medical institutions, and clinics. Let us continue to build models that meet our needs and fight for our whole lives.
- Learning about legacies and histories of sexual and reproductive health resiliency.
- Educating our communities about ACLU’s Judicial Bypass Coordination Project, a strategy for reducing the harms of PNA right now.
- Centering the health priorities of Queer and Trans* young people of color, youth with disabilities, and undocumented youth in our reproductive justice and health access efforts.
- Taking part in efforts to end youth incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Recognizing that laws like the PNA are an extension of the carceral state, one that values punishment-based systems and incarceration to “solve” community “problems” instead of restorative justice and community accountability practices. PNA may serve as a tool to discriminately punish young people most impacted by economic and housing injustices.
- Incorporating Healing and Disability Justice—and the ways our bodies have experienced intersecting forms of violence (institutional, state, individual, generational, and family violence) into our conversations, workshops, and writings about sexual health, abortion, intimacy, disabilities, youth incarceration, and more.
- Increasing opportunities for young people to access basic needs, including safer sex supplies, in accessible, non-judgmental spaces.
- Providing employment, educational, and authentic leadership development opportunities to young people—particularly young people of color, youth impacted by state systems like juvenile detention, foster care, and group homes, youth with disabilities, undocumented youth, and LGBTQ young people.
The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, ACLU of Illinois, and Chicago Abortion Fund are raising awareness with the support of Advocates for Youth in a campaign called #StopPNA. Follow the #StopPNA campaign on Twitter & Instagram where you can join in with your voice and stories.
Apr 28, 2014
If you are anti-choice, this article is not for you. I am not writing to add to the plethora of content on the importance of reproductive rights. Rather, I am writing to ask more from the pro-choice community.
I’m pro-choice, but I would never have an abortion.
There was a time in my life when I had the audacity to make such a baseless statement. But then someone in my life, someone I respect and admire told me that they had had an abortion, and my adolescent naivety was shattered.
I’m pro-choice, but I would never have an abortion.
How many times have you heard this? Have you as well had the audacity to say it?
I’m pro-choice, but I would never have an abortion.
I’m sure most of the women who say that really believe it, and I’m sure many of them really would not ever have an abortion, but I’m also quite certain that no one can relate to the experiences of 50 million women.
I am in a supportive relationship, I have a supportive family, I attend a university supportive of mothers, and despite that context of support, if I were to become pregnant, I would still probably have an abortion.
Why is that so hard to say? Why does the abortion stigma remain within the pro-choice community? Or is it just in select communities that such caveats are necessary? Is it because I go to a Catholic school? Is it a desire to assimilate, a fear of acknowledging our womanhood, of owning our bodies? We take the fight out of our own feminism, acting as though the only feminism we need is “leaning in.”
Or is it an issue of validation? We fail to recognize our own needs as women and as members of a movement or activists in a field that has been historically undervalued in society. Our culture-bound norms of success and worth tell us that our human rights are merely “women’s issues” and we forget that our bodies and our autonomy are on the front lines.
Or is it the stigma? As students we juggle classes and internships and extracurricular, we do not make colossal “irresponsible” “mistakes” or “accidents.” We can say “I’d never have an abortion” because we can’t fathom that we’d ever have to make that choice.
I’m pro-choice, but I would never have an abortion.
Maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe, if you became pregnant tomorrow, you definitely would not have an abortion. But the context in which you would make that choice, whether to have an abortion or to carry the pregnancy to term, is unique, entirely distinct from the context in which over 50 million women have had to make that choice.
I’m pro-choice, but I would never have an abortion.
Regardless of the tone and the way in which you preface the statement, there remains the implication that there is something innately wrong with the decision to have an abortion. We need to stop treating abortion like a last resort right, and acknowledge that for many women facing an unintended pregnancy, abortion is a first resort. In saying “I would never have an abortion” we are telling women that abortion is acceptable, but that they should definitely avoid it at all costs, they should definitely feel guilty about it, or that getting abortion should be a lesson to be more responsible next time.
In conversations around sexual assault, we often encourage people to assume there is a survivor in the room. 1 in 4 college-aged women experience sexual assault, and thus, in any group setting, we should be cognizant of the impact of our words on survivors. I think we should assume the same with abortion.
If you knew that someone in your group project, on your team, on your dorm floor had had an abortion, would you say “I would never have an abortion,” aware of the judgment you are passing upon their decision? Would you knowingly reinforce norms about which type of women have abortions or the morality of the choice to have an abortion?
I’m pro-choice and I would probably have an abortion.
Apr 22, 2014
Thoughts at puberty”
Thoughts may come and go,
And minds made decisive,
Mates may stay to cuddle,
And tears cease to stop,
Apr 15, 2014
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an “Advocate For Youth”.
Apr 8, 2014
Members of the Harvard College International Women’s Rights Collective joined me to see the one-woman show MOM BABY GOD in Boston this week. The show, written and performed by Madeline Burrows, provides an inside look at the American pro-life movement in a creative yet strikingly realistic portrayal of a young pro-life teen vlogger at the fictionalized Students for Life Conference.
I entered the show unsure of what to expect… Burrows greeted the audience members while in-character, acting as a young participant at the Students for Life Conference. I knew that Burrows had spent months doing undercover research from within the pro-life movement, and I knew that this was what the theatre piece was based on. Burrows plays all of the pro-life characters in this 73-minute show, but her primary narrative character is a teenage girl whose parents are both heavily involved in the pro-life movement as well. Burrows embodies not only the words and thoughts of these characters (based on real life individuals), but also their mannerisms and movements in an enthralling and energetic way.
Burrows’ representation of numerous young adult activists and their approaches to the pro-life movement are fascinating, comprising of a punk rock teen boy, a formerly homeschooled girl, a pro-life spy, and a new-age feminist. Each character in this cast has a unique dialect and delivery, and Burrows has them all mastered. This play speaks to the unseen diversity in a movement like this, one that is actively mobilizing against the reproductive justice movement with some horrifying tactics.
Burrows also uses adult characters (including a crisis pregnancy clinic director, a doctor, and a reverend) to convey the rhetoric of the pro-life movement. In one scene, a piece of tape is likened to a female. In another, the audience is taught how to effectively sidewalk counsel women out of getting abortions. The generation of individuals born after Roe v. Wade is characterized as a generation of “survivors,” and abortion is likened to murder and genocide by these adult characters.
The powerful rhetoric and deeply invested acting in this piece was driven home by the cognitive dissonance present in the main character’s plight at this conference: she tries to reconcile her own sexual urges with the extremely anti-sex messaging of her peers and adult role models. In this conflict, she is led to perform a sexual act that may not be consensual, and she experiences a huge amount of guilt and shame from it. The culture of shame is truly embodied here, and it becomes one of the most memorable moments of the show.
Burrows’ MOM BABY GOD is a hilarious and heart-wrenching glimpse at the movement that works against the reproductive justice work that we do – by providing this glimpse, it has made me grateful for the access to education and care that I have, and it has also solidified and affirmed my passion for this work.
Apr 4, 2014
Many a time, I have tried to survey and parry the questioning effect on sex and its constituent. I believe it is a redefined commitment entitled to both parties ( man & woman ) on a divine standard.
The world we live in today define sex as a ‘social commitment’, which is a taboo to fundamental notions displayed from old.
Afore, Sex, occurs after a marriage right is fulfilled – which connects a man and a woman together perfectly. Today, sex, is now seen as an avenue to satisfy common urge.
* some say we should have sex to satisfy ourselves and set our burdens at ease.
* others say, when you feel the urge get someone to have sex with. And a girlfriend should serve as a friend with benefits.
Sex is good and fun in the making, not to be confused with a Mutual Engagement between a male and a female. There are so many medical attributes linked to sex – one dominant property I know of is a reduction in emotional pressure or tension, resulting from ‘Anxiety’.
If we define sex on the basics of mutual engagement, then it is the right for every one (Adolescence,Teen,Youth and Adult), to have sex.
We have a situation where a boy of 16, gets a girl pregnant,at the expense of the so-called love. And the girl demands for an abortion or decides to conceive the child due to having sex at the wrong time.
There’s an increase in Abortion, Unwanted pregnancy and a retardation in fundamental growth of boys and girls. Most people who see sex as a social commitment end up having a bad experience, because they capitalise on the lust of satisfaction, instead of seeking to understand the reason for IT.
In most homes where a man considers sex more than his wife, there’s a high tendency for an upheaval of distrust to occur – which will massively dwindle their growth. Most who youths originated from these homes have become the heir of most illegal acts displayed in the world.
There’s an increase in divorce rate,children from this background become prone to harsh circumstance etc.
Youths who lack parental care and control end up doing irrational things, having unprotected and unwanted sex and other juvenile act.
I believe that if a minimum of 15% of youths are taught :
* Pre-sex affair and its influence.
* The fundamentals of sex education,
* Health education and its relation to sexuality.
Then change can commence.
My question :
* How do we educate boys and girls in : Developing and under-developed countries on sex education.
Proposed Query :
80% of youths living in these areas, constitute to the progression of illegal sex and the un-demanded notion it dictates.
Proposed Answer :
* I believe that changing the dialogue of sex affair is on great step .
Educating Youths on :
– what sex is ?
– why is sex needed ?
– what are the effects of sex on life ?
– who are the right persons to have sex ?
– And the required age for sex ?
* A notion I surveyed recently is doing a Poetry on sex-education : which will play a huge role in schools ( High school mostly, in rural and localised areas ).
In localised areas where there’s a gargantuan growth in sex rate, only few schools teach Sex education and a handful of these schools practise it.
– At locations where there are no computers for learning, no Adverts on sex-Ed, no Online orientation, and no seminars and outlets for diverse learning , an introduction to a reformed part of learning on sex education will help.
If we have a preamble poetry on sex education, health and orientation in under-developed areas, then we can help shape most of the questioning we have.
Mar 31, 2014
The anti-drug program, D.A.R.E- Drug Abuse Resistance Education- which was very popular in public schools in America, has lost its funding, popularity, and credibility within the scientific community after multiple studies found that the program was ineffective and did not lead to a decrease of drug use.
In 2001 the United States Department of Education announced that they would no longer allow schools to spend money on the D.A.R.E program after the United States Surgeon General deemed the program ineffective.
The D.A.R.E program’s mission was a noble one but also one that in some places may seem obsolete with the legalization of marijuana in certain states and several other states contemplating bills to legalize it as well.
The de-funding was a necessary and swift move by the federal government however, I wonder why the same did not and still has not happened for inadequate and ineffective abstinence only “sex education” programs.
Many published peer reviewed journals have found that abstinence only education is ineffective. A study by Hall and Hall found that states which taught more strict abstinence only sex education had higher correlations of unintended pregnancies and births among teens.
While reducing unintended pregnancies is a noble goal, educating young people about sexually transmitted diseases and infections has become secondary. So much so that according to the Center for Disease Control the rates of STI/STD infections in young people ages 10 to 24 continues to rise.
The funding D.A.R.E was receiving would be better served in educational programs that accurately, effectively, and honestly inform young people about their sexual health through federally funded and widely implemented comprehensive sex education.
Young people deserve and need to know helpful and effective sexual health education from Kindergarten all the way to senior year of high school. By beginning the discussion about sexual and reproductive health early on society can begin a cultural shift in the way society refuses to accurately and honestly discuss all sexual and reproductive health topics.
D.A.R.E’s federal funds should be redirected to help youth, who will grow into young adults, learn about their sexual and reproductive health early on through holistic and comprehensive education.
Mar 31, 2014
“Art begins with resistance.” – André Gide
Art has great power. It can get your attention. It can make you think. It can even change your mind. That’s why art can be such a powerful tool for activists. Now we’re asking you to use that power to change the conversation around abortion.
Host a 1 in 3 Week of Artivism event to showcase people’s real stories of experiences with abortion.
During the week of April 21-27, activists around the country will host 1 in 3 Week of Artivism events to bring new audiences to the real stories about abortion experience which people have shared with the 1 in 3 Campaign. You can participate by reserving a space on your campus or community and setting up an interactive display of stories from the 1 in 3 Campaign.
We’ll send you a “display in a box.” You assemble, personalize, and set up the exhibit. You don’t have to be Picasso to participate – you just need a display space and some time to construct the display.
Will you host a 1 in 3 Week of Artivism event?
Please register by April 4 so we can send you the supplies you need.
Mar 28, 2014
via The Guardian
Mar 22, 2014
The Big picture :
Rape- is a word which is supposed to be wiped out of existence. Most girls in the rural and urban ares extensively suffer from this dreadful cause. It’s a shame to see young girls go through this uncomfortable act.
Raped girls now have STDs , unwanted pregnancy and some may die as a result been bartered.
When parents mutter at words, ungodly things happen. And when girls feel reluctant they become victims to this cause. I blame non, it is simply because there’s no unity and the law holding the term for rape has almost been ridden off.
Every GIRL child DESERVES a brighter future. Why not share the word!
What\’s your say on RAPE !
Mar 11, 2014
In honor of National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, Dr. Emily Young, who works as an abortion provider, shared her story with us.
“You saved my life,” I had told the provider.
I was 22 years old, in a just-okay four-year relationship with a just-okay guy, and I was working every second of every day towards becoming a doctor. One night while working on my medical school application, I realized I had been so stressed that I couldn’t remember when I last had a period. Time stopped. Then, the pregnancy test came back positive. The dream I had for my life went from feeling close within reach to sickeningly far, far away.
My dream was to change the world, although at the time I wasn’t sure what that meant. Nevertheless, I wanted to commit all of myself to doing so, and I didn’t feel I had enough of myself available to be the awesome mother I would wanted to be. And yet, I felt judged for doing what seemed was the right thing to do, particularly by those who shouted meanly at me outside the abortion clinic that I should “choose life”. I shouted back at them, “What on earth do you think I am doing??”
I was choosing my own life. Doesn’t a woman’s life matter, and all she can do with it? Does “life” only refer to the fetus? Too often, this message of having less-than-important lives is what is perpetuated to women around the world. Thus, fighting for abortion rights is fundamentally apart of fighting for women’s lives.
For me in December 2005, I became eternally grateful to Planned Parenthood for providing me an abortion. With it, they gave me the message that my life mattered. By allowing me to make my choice for my life, they were telling me they believed in my potential as a woman. They saved the life I had dreamed for myself, to go on to be a physician and save others. I walked out of their clinic that day feeling like I could breathe air in my lungs again.
I don’t know what I would have done if I had lived in an area where I couldn’t get an abortion. Just the thought of it catches my breath again, as my nauseating desperation of being unwantedly pregnant returns so easily. I remember feeling panicked enough that I would have tried anything to not be pregnant anymore. With this, I understand why women die in areas where there is no abortion access. Unskilled abortion providers that result in sepsis, coat hangers that result in uterine perforations, and even suicide become realistic options for desperate women. In countries where abortion is illegal and thus unregulated, approximately 3000 women die per 100,000 abortion procedures performed.1 Hugely contrasting, in countries where abortion is legal and safe, only 0.6 women die per 100,000 procedures.2 Take a minute to soak that in: only 0.6 deaths in areas where abortion is legally accessible, and 3000 deaths in areas where it is illegal, taboo, potentially unsanitary, unskillfully provided, and hence, unsafe. Abortion access saves lives, not only figuratively like mine, but literally.
Almost ten years later since my story started, I’m now a doctor. I am eternally grateful to having been allowed the agency in my own patient decision-making those years ago, and I strive daily to give my patients the same. I continue to want to save the world, and to me this now means working to ensure no one can take away another’s freedom to decide his or her life. With this in mind, I am now and forever will be an abortion provider.
Several years ago, my first abortion patient said to me, “Thank you for saving my life.” I smiled, and took the moment to reminisce on my own similar past words. We both spoke our truth on the day of our abortions, and the truth is that this procedure is lifesaving in so many ways, for so many women. Let us continue to work towards safe and legal abortion access for all women. Let us celebrate our abortion providers, as they are truly lifesavers.
With gratitude on Abortion Provider Appreciation Day,
Dr. Emily Young, DO, MA, MPH
1. Guttmacher Institute. Facts on Induced Abortion Worldwide. Accessed 3.09.14 at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html.
2. World Health Organization (WHO), Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008, sixth ed., Geneva: WHO, 2011.
Mar 10, 2014
In honor of National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, Alison, who works as an abortion provider and a Nurse Practitioner in California and on the board of directors of Nursing Students for Choice, shared her story with us.
On the sidewalk outside the clinic, I see her standing in white scrubs and a lab coat. A car turns right towards the parking lot and she runs in front of it, waving her arms. The driver stops, rolls down the window, then rolls it back up and pulls into the parking lot. Next to the other entrance, a poster of a bloodied fetus reads: “Abortion: a mother’s choice.”
The first day I worked at this health center, the woman in white ran at my car too. She sprinted over so fast I was scared I might hit her. Now she knows I’m an employee, not a patient, so she just scowls when I arrive.’
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, she is stationed outside the clinic from 8:30am-5:30pm, rain or shine. She sits in a plaid lawn chair with a white umbrella. She has pamphlets with “medical information” and doesn’t let a patient pass by without attempting to give them one. She’s been known to yell at the volunteer escorts who inform patients she’s not a real medical professional. Her determination is fierce; she seems to lack any doubt that what she is doing is not only right, but desperately needed. I can only speculate the motivation for her fervor. Does she think we are murderers? That we harm women? Disrespect life?
I’m not sure what she believes transpire behind our clinic doors each day, so I’ll describe that now. We provide birth control to women and men so they can prevent pregnancies when desired, and plan pregnancies if they choose. We counsel patients on sexually transmitted infections and how to prevent them. We treat urinary tract and yeast infections. We do breast exams and pap tests. We administer vaccine and provide primary care. We answer questions and try to make patients comfortable when examining the most intimate parts of their bodies. We provide medication abortions. We are dedicated to all aspects of the work we do.
While the bulk of my clinical work involves family planning and well-woman care, my scope of practice includes abortion and I’m proud of that. Although our clinic aims to prevent unintended pregnancies, they are still a common occurrence. Roughly 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned and about half of those pregnancies end in abortion. So why is abortion so stigmatized and shamed? Why, after 40 years, is Roe v. Wade still under attack? How come the political right is constantly trying to amend laws to restrict access to abortion, especially for young and poor women? Why is there a protester outside my health center harassing every patient who seeks to pass through our clinic doors, whether their intention is to obtain an abortion or not?
The only answer I can come up with is that this protester, these politicians, the anti-choice movement lacks understanding of the work we do and the patients we serve. They seem to have a unilateral way of thinking: “NO ABORTIONS,” instead of a multifarious perspective, which might lead to a simple question: “Why does a woman seek an abortion in the first place?” A few possibilities: she’s 16 and wants to finish high school. She already has 4 children she’s supporting on her own. She was raped. Her birth control method failed. She’s not interested in being a mother—ever. There are infinite answers to this question, and one is not more moral than the other.
When I see the protester outside my work, I go past her as if she wasn’t there. I refuse to let her actions have any impact on me or the care I provide. I know she does not view abortion as a medical procedure, a women’s right, or a decision between a patient and her health care provider. She is entitled to her opinion and right to protest, but she will not prevent me from serving patients and presenting them with all of their options. Even if it takes another 40 years to de-stigmatize and reframe abortion care, it’s a job I’m dedicated to doing.
Mar 10, 2014
Every single day, abortion providers, nurses and clinic staff stand with young people, women, and their families to ensure access to safe medical care – care that 1 in 3 women will need in her lifetime.
Sadly, many abortion providers and clinic staff face significant risks, including harassment, stalking, threats to family members, and even violence. Despite these risks, they continue to stand with us and provide care.
In 1996, March 10th was declared National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day. To honor and celebrate the people who risk so much to ensure access to safe reproductive health care. Advocates for Youth is honored to stand with these brave and caring professionals.
Thank you to our good friend Heather Ault from 4000 Years For Choice for designing these beautiful appreciation postcards.
Abortion providers and clinic staff face significant risks, harassment, stalking,and even violence. Despite these risks, they continue to stand with us and provide care. Show your love by sending them a thank you postcard. http://bit.ly/1qfFqZC
Feb 28, 2014
Jan Brewer will not get a thank you out of my for vetoing PART of the highly homophobic and highly criticized bill that reached her desk this week after state representatives signed the bill.
Feb 28, 2014
It was probably the second last thesis dissertation of the day. The man over the projector was talking about the study of side effects during the combined therapy of mefipristone and misopristol used for medical abortion. As the clock on the wall was running on its third round of 60 ticks of 11 pm, i felt drenched in the hot sensation after accumulation of carbon dioxide from two hours long self breathing. The only reason that was refraining me from leaving the hall were those imposed sanctions not to leave.
I would have hardly noticed, had not the women from the panel of judge given a sign of astonishment towards the number of women receiving medical abortion at Marie Stopes, Gongabu. The number was more than 45 per month who take the service of medical abortion. The fact had not poked me to a extent of astonishment but her reaction, ” The data clearly shows people are not using contraceptives” did.
As my retina projected the picture which my lens found finally found catchy to click on, I started wondering over the hues.
Despite our knowledge, what is making us away from contraception? why do we prefer choosing medical or surgical abortion rather using a temporary contraceptives? and why not permanent contraception who are already blessed with the number we want? why don’t we use contraception? simply why don’t we?
Feb 24, 2014
Feb 23, 2014
For as long as I have advocated for abortion rights, the conversation has always seemed to carry that old fashioned us vs. them attitude. But from what I have experienced as of late, this issue is not one of “freedom and genocide”, or “us vs. them” as my university’s newspaper likes to claim, but one in which I believe there to be much more gray area and overlap.
The Students United for Reproductive Justice Group, of which I am apart, at Colorado State University partook in “1 in 3 Week”, a weeklong series of events aimed to raise awareness and challenge the stigma and shame around women who have had an abortion. We started by sticker bombing our campus and chalking our Free Speech Plaza. We aimed to draw attention to and start a conversation on CSU’s campus about how we treat & talk about women who have had an abortion.
What quickly developed was more of a debate than a conversation. The morning after we chalked the plaza with 1 in 3 slogans, such as, “These are our stories” and “End the Silence and Shame,” we found a new message had been written. Students who identified themselves as “pro-life” brought their own chalk and adapted what we had written to fit into their message. What had previously read, “Pro-Choice does not equal Anti-Life” had been altered to “Pro-Choice is Anti-Life”. Their website address: www.silentnomoreawareness.org was written in multiple places under our slogan “End the Silence & Shame”. The short term implications of this included: 1) people might have visited their site instead of ours: www.1in3campaign.org , 2) people were/might have been unwilling to talk to us because they thought we represented an anti-choice group, 3) our message was hijacked by Student’s for Life (an anti-choice group) on the plaza in order to draw attention to themselves and their message, and 4) Our message was misrepresented in the university’s newspaper. After an article, titled “Freedom, genocide…and sidewalk chalk”, appeared in the Rocky Mountain Collegian about the plaza chalking, our club President responded with a letter to the editor clarifying what the 1 in 3 campaign stood for. As for the chalk, it was washed away within a few days by snow & rain along with any other mention of the controversy. Despite the obstacles we experienced, we continue to table in the plaza, host events, and facilitate conversations on CSU’s campus about the 1 in 3 campaign.
The long term implications of this kind of action are even more disconcerting, reaction debate. I feel we are constantly acting in response to anti-choice protests rather than working together to find common values & goals. I believe the 1 in 3 campaign is a huge step in the right direction as it aims to tell women’s stories without bias. That being said, there is still a long way to go and a lot of cultural stigma to overcome. As a lifelong proponent of women’s rights, including the right to choose, I find the idea of working with anti-choice groups a challenging strategy.
The reality is, working in opposition and in reaction to anti-choice groups only creates further stagnation & fails to change the stigma around abortion. Framing abortion in a binary light perpetuates the sigma that it is a divisive issue, and that you must pick only one side.
I believe it is important to move past this if we hope to reduce the number unwanted pregnancies and the stigma and laws that prevent safe access to legal abortion. I envision pro-choice and anti-choice groups coming together to have a discussion about how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and how to support women and men post-abortion or post-partum. In having these conversations, creating common goals, and taking action, we can advance the health and well-being of all of those affected by abortion. Together we can shift how we treat these women from stigmatizing and shaming to respecting and supporting regardless of their personal decisions. There is a very clear amount of energy and passion on both sides that together, can help change the way we frame abortion.
That being said, there is a fine line to walk when working with anti-choice groups. There are major fundamental differences between the pro-choice & anti-choice movements and it’s important to stand by one’s own values. If ever these differences begin to harbor hostile interactions or cause more harm than good it is always acceptable to end your affiliation with an anti-choice group or individual.
For me personally, when I am engaging with an anti-choice group or individual I establish very clear boundaries. The first is I will not speak on the morality of the act of abortion. That meaning, I believe abortion is a very personal choice to be made between a women and her faith. I will not entertain questions on my own religious beliefs or ethical principles regarding abortion. The second boundary I set is, I will not enter or continue a conversation if it is hostile or accusatory in nature. By choosing to only engage in conversations in which there is mutual respect I am protecting myself and the organizations I represent. I highly recommend my fellow activists establish their own boundaries before beginning to work with anti-choice groups.
I invite my fellow activists to rethink how we frame the discussion of abortion and start to explore where we have overlap with those who identify as pro-life. Shifting from a debate to a discussion can help bring clarity & productiveness in how we talk about abortion rights, the stigma and shame women who have had an abortion experience, and unwanted pregnancy prevention.
The following are some discussion ideas and solutions, in which we may find overlap:
1. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies.
- Many anti-choice groups are not necessarily anti-contraception.
- Work together to distribute condoms.
- Host safe sex workshops.
2. Support women and families post-partum.
- It is important that people’s personal choices are supported, whatever they may be. Extra support may be especially needed for parenting teens and students.
- Cohost a diaper/ baby supplies drive for teen parents.
- Work with schools to ensure affordable daycare is provided for parenting students.
3. Talk about abortion-related violence including personal & interpersonal.
- Understand that abortion can be a traumatic or uncomfortable experience for both women and men, which can lead to doubts of self-worth, depression, and suicide. Restrictive abortion laws can also force women to seek out unsafe abortions and endanger their lives.
- Start a conversation about the language we use to ensure women are not shamed before or after having an abortion.
- Ensure that unbiased counseling services are offered.
- Discuss how laws pertaining to abortion can negatively impact women’s health and safety.
This semester, I hope to convene CSU’s Student’s for Life group, Student’s United for Reproductive Justice, and other interested individuals to start a conversation and identify ways in which we can work together.
By reducing the polarity of how we talk about and take action around abortion, common ground can be found. These are not always easy conversations to have but they can lead to productive ends. I challenge you to think critically about how we frame abortion and work to find common ground with those who historically been viewed as our opponents.
Feb 18, 2014
by Jen Sorensen via Talking Points Memo and the ACLU
Feb 17, 2014
I discovered that TED and TEDWomen have never featured a talk on abortion.
…When I asked around, the consensus was that the omission was simply an oversight. But it turns out TED is deliberately keeping abortion off the agenda. When asked for comment, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel said that abortion did not fit into their focus on “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights.”
“Abortion is more of a topical issue we wouldn’t take a position on, any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill,” Stoetzel explained. She pointed me to a few talks on women’s health and birth control, but this made the refusal to discuss abortion only more glaring. In the last three years, the United States has seen more abortion restrictions enacted than in the entire previous decade; the United Nations has classified the lack of access to abortion as torture; and Savita Halappanavar died in Ireland because a Catholic hospital refused to end her doomed pregnancy. Just how is abortion not an issue of “justice, inequality and human rights”?
OPPRESSED MAJORITY (Majorité Opprimée English), by Eleonore Pourriat
“On what seems to be just another ordinary day, a man is exposed to sexism and sexual violence in a society ruled by women.”
What they say: “People are just people.” ”I don’t see color.” ”We’re all just human.” “Character, not color, is what counts with me.”
Response: “Colorblindness” negates the cultural values, norms, expectations and life experiences of people of color. Even if an individual white person can ignore a person’s skin color, society does not.
For all you Americans, lad mags are pornographic men’s magazines. Y’know Hustler, King, Penthouse etc.
This article by Jezebel features a study done by the University of Surrey, on the very thin line between derogatory statements in these magazines, and actual quotes from rapists.
Feb 10, 2014
via Al Jazeera America
Feb 4, 2014
Recently fans and non fans of MTV’s Teen Mom 2 show found out that one of the cast members, Jenelle Evan’s, had an abortion. There were many mixed reactions ranging from support to anything but support and everything in between. I applaud Jenelle for being open and standing up for herself and her reproductive decisions. Jenelle maintains that she does not regret her abortion and feels it was the correct decision for her since she was in a ‘bad place’ when she was pregnant.
Jan 31, 2014
Jan 24, 2014
via Media Matters
Jan 22, 2014
Don’t Tread on Me…Or My Buffer Zone
The SSH E-Board
Happy 2014! In the spirit of starting fresh, we would like to share some good news for those of you who thought that BCSSH was waaay too long of an acronym to bring up in your frequent casual conversations about sexual health. Trip over your tongue no longer! From here on out, we will be shortening our name to Students for Sexual Health — or SHH. Or Shhhh!, if you’re in the library.
Our new name aside, there’s something that’s gotten us pretty upset over the past few weeks that we won’t Shhhh! up about. A 2007 Massachusetts law, commonly called the “Buffer Zone” law, is currently being threatened by anti-choice activists, and is set to be reviewed by the Supreme Court tomorrow, on January 15.
The Buffer Zone law is the most recent is a series of legislation that followed the fatal 1994 shooting in two Brookline health clinics. The law ensures the safety of patients and employees of health care clinics that provide abortion services against intimidating and violent protests. It mandates that anti-choice demonstrations cannot occur within 35 feet of the entrance to a health clinic, ensuring that women are safely able to access their health care without interference. The shootings that sparked the drafting of this law are certainly a tragic extreme; however, before the law was enacted, many protesters harassed patients, physically touched them, threatened women entering the clinics, and physically blocked them from leaving their cars or entering the facilities.
Almost before the ink had dried on the Buffer Zone bill, anti-choice activists challenged it, claiming that the zone was a violation of their freedom of speech. Now, the Court must balance First Amendment rights with public safety concerns. Anti-choice activists claim that the law prevents them from being close enough to talk to patients, and that by singling out clinics that provide abortion services, the law is targeting a specific kind of speech.
Last January, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the Massachusetts law, ruling that the First Amendment ensures the right to free speech, but does not guarantee an attentive audience. It ruled that the protesters had appropriate access to patients and that it was okay for the law to target abortion clinics because officials had identified a specific public safety concern.
While SSH would like to offer a few choice words to people who seem to think that a woman’s access to healthcare is somehow the protesters’ business, we recognize that Massachusetts’ law is the closest we may be able to get to a “happy medium” between free speech concerns and patient safety. Should the Supreme Court strike down this legislation, it could also mean disaster for other state laws (Colorado and Montana, specifically) that have defined buffer zones, as well as municipalities such as San Francisco and Portland, Maine that have passed similar laws.
The Court won’t be ruling on this case until this upcoming summer, but in the meantime, you can get involved in the fight for patient safety by volunteering to be a Planned Parenthood Clinic Escort to ensure the safety of Planned Parenthood patients.
Peace, Love, and Lube
Students for Sexual Health
Jan 22, 2014
Check out this awesome graphic from New York Magazine! Read the stories that accompany the image too.
Jan 22, 2014
Here’s a short video of me talking about what Roe vs. Wade means to me. I’d really love to hear back from other young people. It would help to dispute the rhetoric that we don’t care about the repro-justice movement anymore.
Jan 22, 2014
(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)
President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.
“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.
The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”
Jan 20, 2014
Forty-one years ago, women won their constitutionally protected right to choice and gained access to safe, legal, and accessible abortions. However, soon after the passing of Roe v. Wade, legislatures quickly began to pass measures to hamper access to abortion across the globe. Even under new restrictions, women in the United States could still practice the right to decide when and if they are prepared to become mothers. However, women across the globe do not have access to abortion care due to a relatively undiscussed piece of legislation.
The Helms Amendment was passed shortly after the Roe v. Wade ruling, banning the use of any U.S. foreign assistance on abortion services, even in countries where it is legal, even in the case where the woman’s life may be in danger. Especially in poor countries, the Helms Amendment has lead to stigma, misinformation, injury and the deaths of tens of thousands of women a year.
The global aid fund is supposed to help – not harm. Unsafe abortions remains a leading cause of death for women in the global south and the Helms Amendment does nothing to protect the lives of women around the world. With more countries reforming abortion laws, the international community is acting on the need to provide abortion services to women as part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare. Unfortunately, 41 years after the passing of Roe v. Wade, the United States stands on the opposite side of the rest of the global community.
So, to our Congressmen who are “committed to reproductive rights at home and abroad” – use the anniversary of Roe v. Wade as a reminder to stay true to your commitment. Protect the lives of women. Recognize safe abortion care as a necessary intervention to ensure comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care. Understand denying abortion access is correlated with higher abortion rates and allowing access can actually decrease the rates. Acknowledge a woman’s right to choose – both domestically and abroad – and repeal the Helms Amendment.
Jan 17, 2014
Sonia Renee – “What Women Deserve”
Katie Helm – “If My Vagina Was a Gun”
Jan 16, 2014
Every time I pass by my local Planned Parenthood and see a group of protesters I get really angry. I’ve never been a fan of anti-choice tactics; I feel there should be more respectful and sensitive (not to mention honest and effective) ways to protest. I believe Buffer Zones may be the only chance at having some sort of respect and sensitivity in this situation. Anti-choice protesters still get crazy even with these buffer zones in place (I’m sure we all may have heard a “protester against employee, patient, or other” horror story), imagine how much worse it would be without them.
Abortions are just like any other medical procedure and should be treated with respect and privacy. (It’s not like groups of people stand outside Plastic Surgery practices telling everybody going in “Don’t do this, you’re beautiful the way you are. God made you special this way. Love the way He made you.”)
It’s really sad that in this day and age, especially after 41 years of Roe v. Wade, that this is still an issue. Even more so, that there are people trying to reverse all the great work that has been done for women.
We need abortions to be safe and legal. Not just the actual procedure in the doctor’s office, but also the process of even walking in the building. Women deserve to be able to make their own decisions without the input or judgment of strangers. Abortion clinic staff deserve to have a safe working environment. We need Buffer Zones.
-Also if you haven’t yet, please check out the stories on http://www.1in3campaign.org/ to see how Buffer Zones have affected women.
Jan 8, 2014
“[Marlise Munoz’s] case has become a strange collision of law, medicine, the ethics of end-of-life care and the issues swirling around abortion — when life begins and how it should be valued.”
via The New York Times
Jan 6, 2014
Hey Fellow Activist, Bloggers, Youth, Etc…
Check out this amazing opportunity to advocate for the protection of Women’s right to access to birth control, increase awareness of teen pregnancy, and ensure the equal and fair treatment of employees who are pregnant!
For more information and to sign please lick the link!: http://www.wvfree.org/advocacy-2/2014-lobby-day/
If you can’t attend brainstorm someways to be an effective and awesome ally to women!
A little more info on Allyship (from the perspective of an Ally)
Here is my truth: I practice being an ally to women by recognizing my privilege (male, white passing, able-bodied, college educated privilege). I attempt to do this everyday, some days I am better than others. For example, I often thing about the intent and the impact of what I say and how that would change if I were not in my privilege. Or, I sometimes think about was what I said was accepted because of my privilege.
Another way to practice being an ally to women is by not engaging in behaviors that sexualize/objectify women’s bodies for the sole purpose of pleasing men and by not engaging in behaviors that demean women.
The Take Home from this is that being an ally is an active role and that as an ally it is important to be aware of your privilege and understand that intent and impact are not one in the same. Also, that as an ally your behavior speaks louder than your words. I can’t be an ally to women if I engage in behaviors such as treating women as less than equal and calling it chivalrous.
Jan 6, 2014
We as advocates for women’s health seem to take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I just read that now Ohio is one of those states that passed more restrictions against abortion in the year of 2013. as if Roe vs. Wade was in vain. I still don’t understand why it is even up for discussion about what women do with their own bodies.
its a step back because according to City Beat, the restrictions against abortion were up almost by 100 more restrictions and Ohio is following that same trend.
so for 2014 we need to get the voices out there and we need to be at every single election no matter how small or how big it may seem.
Jan 3, 2014
Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights
Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.
That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.
But there may be a shift on the horizon.
Dec 31, 2013
After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion. This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans. What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest. And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay. So, what’s to become of that 52%? What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need? We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people. It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need. It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.
Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this. Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:
“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.
What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.
This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.
Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”
But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”
Dec 30, 2013
Buffer zone laws are meant to serve the simple purpose of aiding legal protection to abortion access and vary state to state, even country to country. They are viewed as bordering provisions for anti-abortion speakers and protestors to not infringe on the safety and well-being of an abortion provider’s patients and staff. In a few weeks, the Massachusetts buffer zone law will be heard in the Supreme Court, with anti-abortion activists and abortion activists ready and waiting. Reporters have already covered both sides of the story, and everyone in the reproductive justice community in Massachusetts is keeping a close eye on this decision.
With the Supreme Court hearing on Jan. 15, I wonder how the verdict will turn out. While anti-abortion activists will claim freedom of speech and assembly, these freedoms are not justified with previous histories of aggression, violence, and libel nationwide.
For those who work at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, this decision hits close to home. Nearly two decades ago, a shooter entered a Planned Parenthood in Brookline, Massachusetts, and killed two people and wounded five others. As a result, Planned Parenthood moved to a new location, but the memory of those who died and were affected by this tragic incident sparked a movement to further protect staff and patients in abortion-providing settings.
Fast forward to 2013, and as I walk into Planned Parenthood for my internship, I see signs of defaced babies and crowds of people distributing anti-abortion material. The amount of anti-abortion activism varies, but it’s enough to know that the anti-abortion movement is strong in Massachusetts.
Let’s see what the new year brings.
Dec 29, 2013
“I invite you to find your voice and let it be known that you stand for abortion rights and the dignity of a woman to be the master of her own life and body.” – Mark Ruffalo
Dec 27, 2013
I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on. And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention. I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.
While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves. I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational. Oh, and guess what? Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.” There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime. Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue. There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.
I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website. It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share. There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting. Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though. An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:
Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…
What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?
How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?
There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series. East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast. And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into. For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.
Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color. Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious. From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:
At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…
We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.
We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.
Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended. Please use the number to the opposite.
(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)
Dec 25, 2013
So my mom just recently found out that AFY is pro-choice, and she completely freaked out on me. This is how the conversation went down:
“So, do you want kids?”
I replied, “No, not anytime soon.”
“You would get an abortion instead of dealing with your consequences?”
“You’re for abortion! I found out, so now you’re a baby killer!”
I literally just looked at her with a disgusted face because not once did I ever say I would get an abortion. So, I calmly said to her, “I believe in women having a choice to do whatever they like to their own bodies, I didn’t say I would do it, but having a choice is nice.”
After I said that she just looked at me with disappointment and didn’t reply because she knew this debate would turn ugly.
Just because you’re pro-choice doesn’t mean you would actually get an abortion, its a tough decision and not for everyone.
Also, people who are pro-choice shouldn’t be viewed as “baby killers”.
Every time my mom brings up this whole abortion issue, I just look at her and say, “SERIOUSLY?”
Nov 29, 2013
Nov 18, 2013
As you’ve heard, there is an upcoming ballot measure in Albuquerque mandate government interference in a woman’s personal decision about abortion. This is not what Albuquerque women and families need. Vote AGAINST on Tuesday, November 19.
Extremists are flooding millions of dollars into our communities to pass the ban that would deny women access to legal abortion care.They think they know what is “best” for Albuquerque women.
This effort heartlessly disregards all of the personal considerations that go into a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy, and is a shameful attempt to limit access to safe and legal abortion care. We cannot stand in a woman’s shoes nor can we make these decisions for her.
This vote will be close, so make sure your voice is heard. Vote AGAINST on Tuesday, November 19.
If you are not registered to vote in Albuquerque, forward this email to friends and family who can and encourage them to vote AGAINST.
Advocates for Youth is proud to stand in solidarity with the Respect ABQ women campaign, a group of women, families, and allied organizations working to defeat this harmful and misleading ballot measure. Albuquerque women and families deserve respect, and that means respecting the real life decisions Albuquerque women and families face every day. Respect Albuquerque women and families. Vote AGAINST on Tuesday, November 19.
For more information or to find your polling place, click here.
If you want to join the efforts on the ground to defeat this ballot measure, RVSP for a volunteer shift here.
Paid for in kind by Advocates for Youth. Authorized by Respect ABQ Women Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains/ACLU-NM Foundation/ACLU-NM/Young Women United/Feminist Majority Foundation and not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
Nov 11, 2013
Nov 7, 2013
“I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.” – State Senator Wendy Davis
Nov 5, 2013
Upcoming documentary, Young Lakota, highlights the restricted access to abortion among the Ogala Sioux tribe. The film will air Monday, November 25 at 10pm on Independent Lens on PBS.
Oct 31, 2013
Who invented abortions? I’ve always wondered who was the first person to decided that the practice of abortions needed to be invented! After doing some research I found that abortions date back to ancient China, but the first abortions weren’t even surgical. Surgical or not, they’re still WRONG. I hate abortions with a passion, and I don’t understand who could kill a child that they birthed. Learning how to have better sex habits would definately solve the problems of abortions, but people rather have unprotected sex than wrap it up. So what is your considerably “too young?” If you weren’t too young to have sex then you aren’t too young to take care of a child that you helped make. People should learn to woman or man up to their responsibilities and face the fact that babies are innocent. They didn’t ask to be here and they definately didn’t ask to be kilt!
Oct 30, 2013
The image above pretty much sums up the pro-life movement. Fetuses are more valuable than women in utero. And after they are born, the same people who professed to fight for its rights suddenly couldn’t care less.
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 24, 2013
Oct 14, 2013
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Sep 30, 2013
Texan First Lady, Anita Perry, describes abortion as a woman’s right in this interview.
Sep 29, 2013
Sep 25, 2013
Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning
Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield
Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.
Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE
Sep 25, 2013
Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States
Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan
To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).
But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.
Sep 25, 2013
Texas woman drives four hours to Planned Parenthood after being shamed for hickey
Reposted from: Raw Story, written by David Edwards
A Texas woman who was shamed by her doctor for having a hickey and wanting birth control says she is now forced to drive four hours to a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care due to the state’s new anti-abortion laws.
Athena Mason told KUT that her first visit to the doctor as a student at Texas A&M was awkward.
“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘It’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.’ But I got a big lecture. [He said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go somewhere else.”
Mason started using the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But that facility is one of four women’s health service providers that closed in August after the state passed new regulations restricting abortions.
So Mason now drives four hours to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin for health care.
In 1998, Cadence King was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on her cervix and became a patient at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. She had returned for regular checkups in the years since, but she has missed visits in recent weeks because the clinic closed.
King is now struggling to find a new health care provider. Her only options are driving three hours to Beaumont or waiting four months for the next opening with the one Bryan clinic that’s willing to take her case.
Sep 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Aug 24, 2013
First- Ever Legal Abortion,
And It Saved A Dying Woman’s
(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)
The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.
Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.
The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.
The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”
Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.
Aug 21, 2013
“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.
Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”
Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.
Aug 21, 2013
Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black
(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)
Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.
First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.
What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.
The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.
Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.
As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.
Aug 21, 2013
Here we go again. Although the most restrictive abortion bill (‘the Heartbeat bill’) in the nation was tabled in Ohio’s last Senate session, it’s coming back – and this time with the full backing of America’s largest reality TV family, the Duggars. The Duggars are from Arkansas which is currently the home to the most restrictive abortion ban in the country, banning abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. Arkansas got the idea from Ohio, where the bill would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could occur as early as 6 weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Unlike Arkansas’ bill, Ohio’s bill does not include an exception for cases of rape or incest, or the health of the woman. The Ohio bill passed the House but stalled in the Senate.
Ahead of an inevitable bill reintroduction, the Duggars participated in a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus to show their support for this extreme and heartless bill. During the press conference, mother of the brood, Michelle Duggar, crudely asserts that “there is a baby holocaust taking place” across the nation.
Gross overstatements such as this won’t help their cause. Opponents are geared up to take on the threat with rallies and conferences already in the works. Grassroots activists and statewide organizations are primed to defend against this bill again. Arkansas is seeing court challenges and so will Ohio if it goes that far. Let’s make sure that it doesn’t. Get ready to fight!
Aug 20, 2013
One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.
The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:
86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
Aug 14, 2013
New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.
This article originally appeared on Salon.com.
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.
But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.
Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)
“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”
Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.
Aug 14, 2013
North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.
Aug 7, 2013
On July 30th, my Fellowship with Planned Parenthood Health systems ended. Working for PPHS has truly opened my eyes to the services that are available to both women and men here in the Columbia area. The staff is extremely nice and welcoming, and they know exactly how to help you. If you are looking for a new reproductive healthcare provider, go check them out! They are located at 2712 Middleburg Drive. For additional information on their office information, text SEXT to 74574.
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.
Jul 22, 2013
All too often our stories are told for us. Last week, I had the honor of presenting to members of congress, their staff and other people in the reproductive health and rights field during a congressional briefing with Black Women’s Health Imperative. I took this opportunity to use my voice as an African American young person to tell anyone listening that we Millennials are not only invested in creating change but we are committed to making sure our generation can lead healthy lives. Read what I had to say!
As a member of Advocates for Youth’s Young Women of Color Leadership Council, I have been organizing and advocating around the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people for the last 5 years. I am dedicated to this work not only because I believe that young people like me deserve the right to lead healthy, self-determined lives, but also because I know first-hand what it is like to navigate this world without access to accurate and honest education and services.
At 23 I can say that I never received any type of formal sexual education from any educational institution I attended. The first time I was tested for HIV happened completely by accident. One day during my junior year in high school I wandered into a mobile testing unit in hopes of receiving a free metrocard. That would be the first day I would find out about HIV and other STIs. The woman conducting my test asked me if I was nervous and I proceeded to tell her no and then asked her would I have a reason to be. She began to explain sexually transmitted infections and diseases to me. Thus giving my first “sex education class” in the back of a mobile testing unit. Although my results that day revealed that I was not HIV positive, I remember feeling like someone had robbed me. I felt cheated. Lied to. I could not fathom at that time how learning about preventing diseases that could potentially make you sick and claim your life were not as important as math and science. The even more depressing part is that even when I went to college many of my peers were still uneducated about their sexual health, and how prevent HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancies. I began wondering whether we all needed to wander aimlessly into a mobile testing truck to learn about saving our lives.
As leader of a campus organization that provided sexual health information specifically geared toward Black and Latino students at Syracuse, it became more and more clear to me that I was not the only person who had been robbed. Some of our campus events attracted over 200 young people interested in learning about what they could do to lead sexually healthy lives. Many of these young people expressed that they felt that this is something that should be taught in school, by the administration. They were not alone.
Not only do African American Millennials believe that comprehensive sexuality education should be available to young people in high school, overwhelming majority, over 90% believe that it should include information about preventing HIV/AIDS and other STDS, unplanned pregnancy prevention, and abstinence. Over 80% also believe that comprehensive sex education programs in high school should cover information about pregnancy options including abortion.
Many of the young people I worked with in college constantly spoke about the barriers, many financial, to accessing contraception and abortion services. Research shows that over 90% of African American Millennials believe that contraception needs to be available and affordable to help young people stay healthy. 75% of African American Millennials believe that regardless of how they feel personally, abortion should remain legal and that women should be able to get safe abortions.
There is still much to be done to ensure that young people like myself have access to medically accurate and culturally competent information regarding their sexual health, and we young people across the country are working diligently and organizing to make it happen.. While the media and other people are committed to portraying my generation as apathetic and removed from this type of work, I can insure you that those statements are indeed false. In fact, according to research conducted by the Reproductive Justice Communications Group and Advocates for Youth, over 7 in 10 of African American millennials say they are interested in improving young people’s access to sexual health services such as contraception and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. 7 in 10 expressed interest in getting personally involved in promoting honest and accurate sex education programs in their communities. Another 6 in 10 are personally interested in making sure that safe abortion is available and accessible in their community. We African American Millennials are interested and committed to helping our friends, our families and our communities access services and information to live healthy, autonomous lives.
Here’s video of my remarks at the briefing!
Jul 19, 2013
On the same day that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion omnibus bill into law, Republican legislators in the state introduced yet another anti-abortion measure, this time looking to ban abortions after 6 weeks. And while it seems very unlikely at this point that the bill will make it through the state’s legislative process by July 31, the end of the current special legislative session in Texas, the timing is still drawing a decent bit of attention.
There’s only one state in the U.S. with an abortion ban after 6 weeks: North Dakota. And that law is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. The 6-week bans, like the one proposed in Texas, rely upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat by a doctor. Arguing that a fetal heartbeat is “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the Texas bill, HB59, would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat exists before legally performing an abortion. Fetal heartbeats typically register at around 6 weeks, meaning that the bill would effectively make that the cut off for the procedure.
Jul 19, 2013
Before President Obama took office, foreign non-governmental organizations receiving international family planning funds couldn’t answer women’s questions about abortion. They couldn’t provide abortions, refer women to abortion providers, or advocate for safe abortion care in their communities and their countries – even using their own funds.
It was called the Global Gag Rule. And it could come back at any time unless we take action today.
The Global Democracy Promotion Act (GDPA), introduced today by Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and over 114 of her colleagues, protects foreign assistance programs from politicized restrictions, especially the Global Gag Rule. This legislation accompanies a parallel bill in the Senate introduced earlier this year by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
The Global Gag Rule endangers women’s health. It forces organizations to make a choice: refuse to answer women’s questions about abortion, or lose funding. The end result is that some of the most effective and experienced providers and clinics are forced to close, often dismantling the only health services available in a community. Not only is this policy dangerous to women’s health and lives, it also violates our own democratic principles of free speech and open debate by silencing advocates who wish to reform their own national abortion laws.
Since 1984, the Global Gag Rule has ridden a merry-go-round of being rescinded and reinstated in accordance with each new President’s priorities. President Obama rescinded it in 2009 – but any new President could reinstate it. The personal decisions a woman makes with her doctor shouldn’t depend on whoever happens to occupy the White House at any given time.
Jul 15, 2013
Flea markets are a one-stop place where people can get every-day necessities, often at a low price or second-hand. Among clothing, food, and furniture a Texas women can also find pills that induce miscarriage, an evocative sign of the role of family planning in everyday life. The pills, known by their brand name, Cytotec, were designed to prevent stomach ulcers, but are being taken without a prescription by many Texan women and causing complications such as extended bleeding and incomplete abortions.
In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a region along the southeastern border of Mexico, these pills are reportedly popular. One of the states and nation’s most low-income areas, women of the Valley have already had difficulty accessing reproductive health care after the state cut funding for birth control in 2011.
HB 2, the Texas abortion bill that is awaiting Governor Rick Perry’s signature will further restrict access to family planning and reproductive health clinics across the state. Unless clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical center standards within a year, these locations will be forced to close, pushing women to seek risky alternatives. The two clinics currently in the Lower Rio Grande Valley do not meet the requirement of the bill. If these centers close down, women will have to travel hours across that state to receive care and will have additional costs such as transportation, hotel, food, missed work, and childcare.
Erlinda Dasquez, a 29 year-old mother of four who has used the pills, sees the widespread desire for these pills an economic issue. She described how for $40 she received four pills, a sum much less than the $550 pharmaceutical abortion cost at the closest legal provider. Many women and families like Dasquez seek illegal and unsafe forms of abortion due to the staggering costs of abortion which are typically not covered or subsidized by insurance companies or the state. Many undocumented women are also taking Cytotec and similar drugs. These women cannot utilize traditional health care outlets for fear of being reported.
The clinics that are being threatened do not solely provide abortion services. Many of these facilities are a source of free or inexpensive birth control for families, a valuable resource. Without assistance, many low-income people cannot justify paying the amount for contraceptives among other economic priorities. When interviewed, Alma Saldana said, “If I had $100 to pay for birth control or pay the bill for lights, I’d pay the lights”. Saldana stopped taking birth control after two nearby clinics closed and the remaining clinic charged more than she could afford.