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Applications are now closed, GACC Safe Sites will be notified in October!

Did you miss this round? Come back in December when applications open again!

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Sex ans sexual acts are filled with various myths which has been giving some scary and untrue message to the world.this has been responsible for sex related fear and perceptions of the people around the globe. Though myths changes with the place we dwell but each and every part of the world has one or the other myths associated with following.
1. You can tell by looking if you or someone else has an STD / I would know if I had an STD.
2. If I needed to get tested for STDs, my doctor would test me.
3. If I get an STD, including HIV, there’s nothing I can do about it.
4. If he pulls out, I won’t get pregnant or an STD.
5. STD testing is for cheaters & players.
6. Sex in a hot tub / sex standing up / jumping up and down /douching after sex… will prevent STDs, including HIV, and/or pregnancy.
7. Two condoms are better than one.
8.There’s a cure for HIV/AIDS.
9. Oral sex and anal sex are “safe” sex–or not sex at all.
10. If I use birth control, I don’t need to worry about STDs.

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On June 30, 2014, Advocates for Youth staff stood outside the Supreme Court fighting for reproductive justice, alongside young people who are empowered, informed, and not going to give up their rights without a fight. The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling allows some privately owned, “closely held” for-profit corporations to dictate the health coverage of their employees. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Products challenged the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement, alleging that it violates their companies’ religious rights, all the while disregarding their employee’s religious freedom and right to privacy and basic health services. In response to the Hobby Lobby ruling, Congress introduced the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act” (aka “Not My Boss’ Business Act”). The bill was intended to protect coverage of health services from employers’ religious beliefs, but was four votes short on moving forward in the Senate.

With the recent rulings firmly standing, it is important to evaluate the imbalanced impact they will have on young people. The recent Supreme Court ruling disproportionately impacts young women: 3.2 million teenage women use contraceptives and the IUD is more likely to be used by women aged 20-24 than any other age group.

The Hobby Lobby decision is fundamentally about abortion and the first amendment. Hobby Lobby wanted to exclude four specific brands of contraception from its insurance plan because they believed them to be abortifacients. As stated in the brief filed by a group of medical associations, none of these four methods of contraception are abortion. Hobby Lobby may believe that some contraceptives are abortifacients, but the courts should be obligated to rule based on facts, not a business’ erroneous beliefs.

The Supreme Court ruling addressed the Affordable Care Act contraception mandate for for-profit businesses. Now, no “closely held company” can be required to cover any method of contraception conflicting with their religion. This ruling only applies to contraceptive coverage and no other health services.

The Hobby Lobby decision will remain the governing policy on contraception coverage until Congress acts to reverse the decision through legislation. With the failure of the “Not My Boss’s Business Act” in the Senate, that seems like an impossible lift during the 113th Congress. However, as a constituent you have the right to make your voice heard about these issues. Contact your Representative and Senators today and encourage them to support justice for young people.

Young people are at the forefront of the reproductive rights, health and justice movement. We need to stand with them against these decisions that disproportionately put their health and well-being at risk. Advocates for Youth was proud to stand with and among them on June 30th and we will continue to stand with them to support their sexual and reproductive health needs and rights.

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Applications to become a Great American Condom Campaign Fall Semester SafeSite are now open!

GACCThe Great American Condom Campaign is a youth-led grassroots movement to reduce unintended pregnancies and the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by normalizing condom use on college and university campuses. Students from across the country apply to become SafeSites, individual condom distribution points, and upon selection receive a box of 500 Trojan condoms to distribute to their peers. SafeSites are also tasked with educating their peers about safer sex and advocating on campus and within their community for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.

In the past academic year, 2,600 SafeSites distributed more than 1,300,000 condoms to students on 1,234 campuses. SafeSites were established in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Sound like fun? Apply for the GACC NOW!

We receive more applications than we can accept, so make sure your application stands out! Be clear about how you will distribute condoms and why you want to be part of the GACC. To learn more about the GACC and the awesome work of previous SafeSites, go to the GACC Facebook page.

Applications to be a Fall Semester SafeSite are open through August 15th, 2014. It only takes 10 minutes to fill out an application, so start now!

Do it for your country.

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As a student at Georgetown University, I was always thankful to be covered under my mother’s employee-based health insurance plan. When there was debate over how or if religiously-affiliated organizations, such as Georgetown, would adhere to the contraceptive coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I breathed a sigh of relief because I did not have to worry about losing my access to birth control without cost-sharing, as many of my classmates did. I was able to cheer when the ACA went into effect two years ago on August 1st, 2012, happy that I could stay on my mother’s insurance plan until I turned 26. I could celebrate a year later when, on August 1st, 2013, Plan B One-Step®, an emergency contraceptive (EC), began to be sold over-the-counter with no age restriction. I remembered the story of my 17-year-old friend having to buy EC for our 16-year-old friend, despite the fact that studies have concluded that young people are able to comprehend – equal to adults – the key points necessary for safe and effective use of EC. Now, women and men of any age can purchase Plan B One-Step® and its generic equivalents over-the-counter without presenting identification to prove their age.

This August 1st, on the anniversary of so many advances in reproductive health care, there are both reasons to celebrate and reasons to frown.

We can celebrate that barriers to EC are being eliminated and EC is now easier to access than ever before. AfterPill® is newly available online only for $20, plus $5 shipping and handling – half the cost of Plan B-One Step®! By no longer requiring proof of age to purchase in-store products and with this new affordable online option, more people (and more young people) will be able to get EC and have it when they need it.

Despite this progress, some barriers remain.  Although stores can and should be stocking EC over-the-counter, some aren’t. Only half of stores surveyed were found to stock the product on the shelf. Even among stores that stock Plan B One-Step® on the shelf, two-thirds lock the product in a portable box or fixed case which must be unlocked by a store employee. And while AfterPill® is a great option, the fact that the website does not offer expedited shipping means that one must order the product ahead of time for it to be available when needed.  While the advances break down barriers to access and availability and enable more women to get this important element of their healthcare, clearly there are still improvements to be made.

And unlike in 2012 –  when we were celebrating the Supreme Court affirming the constitutionality of the ACA – this year we are dealing with the disappointment of the Hobby Lobby vs. Burwell decision. The Court ruled that closely-held, for-profit corporations could deny insurance coverage of contraceptive methods to which they object based on their owners’ religious beliefs. With this decision, the Court put the rights of corporations above the rights of women. As Justice Ginsberg put it, “the startling breadth” of this decision means that I too could be at risk for losing coverage for parts of my healthcare if my mother’s employer wanted to limit that access. With all the uncertainty over the impact this decision may have, the Georgetown student health insurance plan, which covers contraceptives through its third-party insurance provider in adherence to the accommodation for non-profits, suddenly does not seem so bad.  As a young person and a student, my options for health insurance are either my university or my parent’s employers.  Unfortunately, my access to reproductive health care is now threatened on both of those fronts.

Let’s celebrate August 1st as a day which reminds us of the forward strides we have made in making sure everybody, including young people, has access to reproductive health care! Yet, let us also be aware of the missteps of the last year and continue to fight against those wrongs to ensure access for all.

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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 left. 
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.

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Greetings Everyone,

The South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign would like to share some exciting news!! As of January 2014, we have formally launched Choose Well, a five-year, outcomes-based initiative to expand contraceptive education and services for young women across the state of South Carolina. The initiative aims to increase young people’s awareness of the full range of contraceptive methods and improve access to youth-friendly family planning services, with a special emphasis on education about and access to long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARCs)—intrauterine contraception and the contraceptive implant. Our long-term vision of the initiative is to decrease unintended pregnancy among women ages 18 to 29 in South Carolina which will be conducted by continuing our innovative work to promote contraceptive education through social media, peer-to-peer outreach, and community engagement.

We look forward to the important work that is ahead of us and are excited about sharing this information with you! We hope to help you and other South Carolina young people to get the access you need and deserve to ALL the tools available to protect your health and well-being.

 

Thank you,

Choose Well Team Members

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JeopardyBW

 

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.

Donate today so we can continue to fight for our personal freedoms and reproductive health services.

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.

 

Tweet now!It’s been a tough few days in the battle for #sexual & #reprorights. But it’s not over. Help us continue the fight! http://ow.ly/y64og

tweet-now-toutLast week the #SupremeCourt ruled against #bufferzones at #abortion clinics and just a couple hours ago the Court put at jeopardy women’s access to #contraception. It’s been a tough few days in the battle for sexual and reproductive healthcare. But it’s not over. Help us continue the fight! http://ow.ly/y64og

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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.

jepardy

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.

Donate today so we can continue to fight for our personal freedoms and reproductive health services.

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.

Deb

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In the context of Nepal hear we have two kinds of people who work in office and as a labor. People who works in a office they don’t get much tired as a labor who carry loads of weight and get badly tired  in evening. When people get tired they have sex wither partner to reduce the tiredness.

Some people who are totally tired they don’t have sex because they have no stamina in them to have sex.

While returning home 50% of the people buy condoms and goes home at evening after the work off.   50% doesn’t buy ant privation method.

Mostly 97% male goes to buy condoms only 3% female buys condoms.

50% Use condom during sex and rest 50% female goes for other privation like piles, coper- t, ‘Sangini’ (Injection which works for 3 month in a use). mostly female goes for Sangini so in a pharmacy pharmacist says that  in a month 5,6 box condom he sale at same time 15,16 female use sangini and rest other use piles and other method.

 

Especially country sides are the place where the market of condoms is high.

On my survey I’ve found that people don’t say what they want they just point they want and pharmacist give them.  Female goes to buy condoms without felling any shyness but male goes in only those places where the pharmacist is male, they often goes to female pharmacist.

The major question that buyers ask to every place wherever they can buy the privation,

  • ‘’How to use?’’
  • ‘’Is it safe?’’
  • “For how long I can take it? ‘’

Places where I’ve done survey almost in all the places demand of condom is high and then Sangini and other piles.

 

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As we are rounding out the last few days of National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, we just wanted to remind everyone that there is a birth control method out there that is a “best fit” for your lifestyle! The methods range from condoms, pills, patch, and the ring, just to name a few! And while you’re considering what works best for you, also research the Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) options which are the IUDs and the Arm Implant! Not sure about whether the IUD is right for you, check out a testimony of a young women who chose an IUD as her pregnancy prevention option!! Enjoy and #LARCon!!

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This is my birth story: Fifteen with twins. It was
the night of my year 10 formal. I went with my
boyfriend, Cameron, of 3 years. We had a really
good and fun night and decided to sleep together
later that night.
Around Christmas/New Year time I started to
feel quite sick. I had missed a period but didn’t
think much of it since it was still quite new to
me and the have odd times. On the 5 Jan my
older sister, Kate, took me to the doctors
because of how sick I was.
They looked at me and did some tests and then told
me the news- I was pregnant. At first I was in
shocked. I didn’t know what to do. But then Kate
hugged me and said it will all be ok.
When I got home I was brave enough to tell my
parents. They were both watching TV on the lounge. I
walked in and just told them straight out. They were
so surprised ( I was a straight A student that was in
dance groups, choir, musicals, social justice group
and tennis) they never thought I would get pregnant.
The first thing my mum did was hug me. My dad just
kept saying you should have been more careful.
After that we just talked about and I was keeping the
baby. The next day I asked Cameron over. I sat him
down sand told him. He didn’t take it well and left. I
was so upset but I had Kate and my parents to help
me through it. A few days later I was scheduled to go
out with my two besties, Hanna and Maddie. When I
told them they were surprised and supportive.
Then it was school time. When I returned to school to
start a new year I was already 4 months pregnant but
I wasn’t too visible luckily. I got called a lot of names
but I had Maddie and Hanna to support me and clear
up rumors and things.
When I got my first ultrasound I found out I was
having twins! I had so many emotions then. I was
having twin girls. My whole family was do excited.
We had the baby’s room ready all in pink by the time
I was 7 months.
When I was around 7-8 months Cameron came back
to me. He said he was stupid to leave and can’t
imagine his life without me. I decided to take him
back and give him a chance.
One day when I was just at home reading a magazine
my water broke. I was only 8 months pregnant so I
was shocked! I ran and told Kate and she called mum
and dad and took me to the hospital. When I got
there I was 9 cm dilated and was having really painful
contractions. Because I was so ready I couldn’t have
an epidural and had to push through the immense
pain.
2 hours later my beautiful girls arrived. Sophie Lily
Grace Atkins-Portman at 7:36pm, 11 May and Mia
Kate Elizabeth Atkins-Portman 7:52pm, 11 May.
Since the birth of my beautiful girls I went to
university, married Cameron and moved from
Australia to Los Angeles. I am currently pregnant
with my first son.

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Bill O’Reilly believes that Beyonce does not deserve to be on the cover of Time magazine because she causes young women in the black community to have unintended pregnancies…. Seriously, he said that.

As a young black Latina who had her daughter at 15, I don’t even know where to start with his ridiculous claim. I can however promise you that Beyonce and her music were the LAST things that led to my being pregnant at 15 years old. Terrible sexual health education classes in my conservative southern school; poverty; lack of access to  affordable  birth control options; and low self esteem are a few of the things that led to my unintended teenage pregnancy –  but certainly not Beyonce.

While O’Reilly is making ridiculous claims about the black americans and unintended pregnancies being attributable to a very married, committed, and self employed black women, Beyonce, I wonder when he will address the lack ofcomprehensive sex education being taught in public and private schools across America? When will he address the fact that low wages keep many parents out of the home for hours on in, working for wages so low that they can barely afford to pay the rent  – let alone spend real and quality time with their children? I wonder when/ if he will take a look at policies in place that keep access to affordable birth control options to all persons, free of coercion, an option?

It simply doesn’t work or add up to be anti- birth control, anti livable wages, anti Beyonce and paint yourself as the voice of reason for a group of people you know very little about.

This decline seems to coincidentally line up with that fact that Beyonce’s first single album was released in 2003, and since then teenage pregnancy rates have continued to drop.

 If we want to play the game of false equivalencies and correlation being causation, I will take a note out of the Brookings Institute “findings” and say that it is not the show Teen Mom but is in fact Beyonce and her jezebel music you speak of that have led to the decrease in teenage pregnancy.

There you have it folks, Beyonce is the cause of the decline in unintended pregnancies. (see how ridiculous that sounds?)

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promswag4-up-M

Prom season is in full swing! Students across the country are reserving limos, renting tuxes, and posing for those classically awkward photos for their parents. But while we’re enjoying the glamour, let’s not forget safety! It’s always better to protect ourselves – and our partners – and these images are a reminder to do it in style. #promswag!

Share on FacebookIt’s always better to protect ourselves – and our partners – and these images are a reminder to do it in style. #PromSwag. http://bit.ly/PromSwag

tweet-now-toutProtect yourself and your partner while getting your #PromSwag on http://bit.ly/PromSwag #safersex

abstinence #promswag
condoms #promswag
condoms #promswag
patch #promswag
pill #promswag
#promswag

Show your love for contraception methods, while getting your prom glam on.

Share on FacebookIt’s always better to protect ourselves – and our partners – and these images are a reminder to do it in style. #PromSwag. http://bit.ly/PromSwag

tweet-now-toutProtect yourself and your partner while getting your #PromSwag on http://bit.ly/PromSwag #safersex

Keep calm, and Prom on.

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“I\’m standing my ground on the right to #birthcontrol! #no527 #nopersonhoodsc @TellThemSC.”

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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\”.

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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”.

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By: Sarah Bradley ’17

On April 5, I and another freshmen member of Students for Sexual Health attended the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts conference for campus organizers, alongside representatives from UMASS-Amherst, Boston University, Tufts University, Northeastern University, Smith College, and Wellesley College. It was a day of instruction and reflection on how to improve our campus outreach programs, strengthen our campaigns, recruit new members, and facilitate those difficult conversations concerning reproductive social justice. Discussions were encouraged as we exchanged ideas and strategies. Representing Boston College—a school where we as a student group have no support from the administration and literally stand on non-BC property sidewalks to distribute condoms—we represented a unique situation within the group.

It was both frustrating and incredibly exciting to hear what other schools were doing, to hear about their incredibly fun and innovative events and creative campus outreach programs. When we explained our situation as an unrecognized sexual health group at a Catholic college, the other representatives were shocked. They were quick to suggest different ways to rally support and to promote our cause, regardless of our campus situation. And they had some great ideas.

Taking the train home, I found myself wishing I attended a more liberal college where our student group could have more freedom with our outreach programs. Then I realized: as great as it is that these other Massachusetts schools have the ability to rally on campus and receive administrative support, the fact remains that this is not the situation we face at Boston College—at least, not now.

I’m a freshman. That means that I have three more years to continue working with Students for Sexual Health here at BC. If I had attended a more progressive college, maybe sexual health would have just been another cause among the lineup of tables at the club fair. But attending a conservative college, as frustrating as it may be, is an important push that maybe I would not have experienced otherwise. It’s not about sulking over the lack of administrative support; it’s about taking it as a challenge.

Personally, I know that I have three more years ahead of me of standing on the sidewalk passing out condoms, holding events off campus, and doing our best even as an unofficial group to educate our peers. And while it may not happen during my time here as a student, SSH will be an official group someday—but even then, Students for Sexual Health will continue to advocate for our cause and for our right to educate our peers here at BC.

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Sometimes I ask myself questions : questions which are ever aching and proving stubborn to define or understand. I can’t recall the last time; a friend ,organization or social community discussed the affair of Youth Development via Sex Education and the threat it poses to Humanity and its affair.

In America there’s a flexible, progressive link for Sex development. Although not perfect but better than what we have here in Nigeria. At most case I have wondered why we are still in the loop hole ; a pit filled with ill-fated people who only acknowledge the receipt of their welfare.

The role of sex Education , is to foster a spontaneous change in : Sexuality, Heterosexual-conscience,Attitude and also promote a Beneficial role in Moral and Value. Youths , (especially boys), will massively grow in self esteem as it will tremendously shape Thoughts and increase a positive intake in Sex orientation and Education.

Educating people on Pre-sex Affair which is the Basics for a good foundation on Youth sexuality, will change lives. What we fail to understand is our, ” inability to Define what Sex Education and the Orientation it has on Youths”.

Sex education is instruction on issues
relating to human sexuality, including
human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, abstinence, and birth control. Common avenues for sex education are parents or caregivers, formal school programs, and public health campaigns.

sex education is defined as a vital public health strategy – which will play a role in the Reduction of STDs : By initializing Health centers, Health tips, Options (Gadget) and Orientation. And will also diminish an increase in Abnormal Behaviors displayed by Youths (Boys mostly) ; which are ,Bullying, Coercion and Discrimination). If Every youth know the basics (i.e, its preventive methods (Abstinence), techniques, and Healthy tips) then we can have a possible outbreak of change in Heterosexuality.

I believe that when people become enormously aware of their Sexuality and how it tends to : Affect, Diminish and Increase STATUS’, we will begin to see change – Fundamentally, Socially and Mentally in schools, society, Environment and the world at large.

Starting with schools – which is a great idea, is one profound step. Advocating Sex-ed in public places, outlets like Seminars, NGO programs and other governmental aids will contribute too.

We need to spread the word which is a,”PROMOTION ON SEX-ED” in schools, outlets, Rural and Urban sphere and other geographical locations.

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In the words of ROCK STAR youth activist Kirin Gupta, ““What is at stake today is an issue of sexism, classism, and oppression. It is the control exercised by money and power of a few who are twisting our country’s freedom of religion to deny basic freedoms to young, often already marginalized bodies. These choices are ours—not our schools, not our bosses, not anyone else’s.”

Today’s Supreme Court hearing on contraception and religious liberty was a big deal and we could not be more proud of the response from our friends, allies, co-workers, partner orgs, and youth activists all around the country.  Our voices have been heard, and we are watching!

Visit #DearSCOTUS for a comprehensive look at all the went down today, but here are a few pics too!

photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 1960963_10154052157820145_1817722768_o photo 2kirin jeryl

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Family planning is a method of managing family health through application of appropriate methodologies suitable for the couple in order to maintain quality of life of his/her family. The term, in a nutshell, describe how to plan own family in order to adopt a happy and healthy life. It includes every procedure of maintaining owns family size to a manageable number so that we can give full and required attention to our children along with a thinking on the care that is needed by the parents themselves.
Family planning is the decision of a couple on when to conceive a children by the use of birth control and other techniques to implement such plans. Other techniques commonly used include sexuality education, prevention and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and management, and infertility management.
At least 200 million women want to use safe and effective family planning methods, but are unable to do so because they lack access to information and services or the support of their husbands and communities. And more than 50 million of the 190 million women who become pregnant each year have abortions.
so sex education is a must part of family planning methods which must be acquired by the couple in order to avoid unwanted pregnancy and limit the number of children to a certain number for which access of facilities and care is possible. With a care on this family planing is described as “educational, comprehensive medical or social activities which enable individuals, including minors, to determine freely the number and spacing of their children and to select the means by which this may be achieved”.

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According to DoSomething.org, “more than 90 percent of parents of junior high and high school students believe that it is somewhat or very important for sex education to be included in the curriculum”. And yet, if a basic question regarding sex is typed into Google, some of the most popular results include webpages such as Yahoo Answers. Many schools across the United States currently push for the abstinence-only, Mean Girls approach (“Don’t’ have sex, because you will get pregnant and die!”) Yet even if these schools are not providing students with information regarding sex education, students will find their own means to understand their questions—often, from unreliable sources such as Internet forums, or word of mouth from other students.

College campuses provide a unique opportunity to learn first-hand what high school sex education programs are like in various states; try asking classmates from different locations what their experience has been in the past. For example, I attended an urban high school in Pennsylvania, where I received an intensive sex education class in ninth grade that covered all methods of contraception, how they are used, and their effectiveness. In contrast, I have a friend from a rural town in Washington whose sex education class was shorter than one semester and consisted of an abstinence-only approach. When I asked him how he pursued the answers to his questions regarding sex education, his answer was simple: the Internet.

You know how teachers are picky about research paper sources, strongly against the use of sites like Wikipedia, but advocating for researched articles? Those Internet forums on informal sex education are like Wikipedia for your body. Young students are getting their own information from complete strangers on Internet forums who claim to know all the answers—answers that may prove unreliable and unsafe. Our generation is at high risk for unplanned pregnancies and contraction of STDs, and the public school system is doing little or nothing to help. Abstinence-only methods are ineffective; if students want to know more, they have endless resources—thank you, Internet—to help them do their own research. Yet these methods are not as reliable and not nearly as trustworthy as a researched curriculum would be to students in the classroom.

Young students have the right to learn about their sexual health. The choices they make outside the classroom are their own. But if every student is provided with an equal level of education in regard to prevention of STDs, unintended pregnancies, and equal understanding of their sexual health, then every student has an equal chance to be healthy in their sexual choices. (And P.S.—the parents agree.)

 

Sarah Bradley ’17

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by Amber Morley Rieke, Special Projects Fellow

The Supreme Court is about to hear two challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that private insurance plans cover contraception for women with a prescription at no out-of-pocket cost. In Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, owners of for-profit companies argue that the requirement violates their religious freedom. They want the same exemptions from the mandate that religious institutions receive.

As we wait for the Court’s decisions, which should come by June, women of all ages are paying less for essential health services and prescriptions. The rulings could ensure contraceptive coverage continues, or force the government to exempt companies as well as churches. Thousands, or millions, of women could lose access to affordable contraception.

The Court’s decision could also codify a new legal precedent. If the Court imbues commercial entities with protected rights to religious beliefs, there could be a legal basis for the anti-LGBT discrimination laws cropping up across the country. Denying birth control coverage and denying services to same-sex couples could be protected under the same judicial precedent. On the other hand, a definitive statement that companies do not enjoy the same religious freedom as individuals would render discriminatory business policies unconstitutional.

A main objective of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to make preventive services such as screenings and contraception universally accessible. The law requires private insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods for women with a prescription at no out-of-pocket cost. Access to reliable contraception is important to women of all ages. Since cost can be a real barrier to birth control use, eliminating cost-sharing was a major advancement.

The Administration crafted accommodations for religious institutions that object to contraception. It totally exempted health plans offered by religious employers, like churches and synagogues, from the requirement. It also created a process for organizations like religiously-affiliated universities to opt-out. These institutions simply self-certify that they meet certain criteria and object to contraception. The insurer or administrator must arrange separate coverage without charging the employer or beneficiary.

Despite these exemptions, eighty legal challenges to the requirement have been filed against the government. Some religious organizations are not satisfied with the accommodation process. For example, the University of Notre Dame claims that the process to opt-out of coverage still involves them in arranging birth control coverage.

While they fight the paperwork in lower courts, business owners demand accommodation based on personal religious objections. Suits brought by for-profit companies will reach the Supreme Court on March 25. These cases will have implications for employers and workers, and broad legal ramifications for religious freedom and discrimination.

In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the owners of the Oklahoma-based craft store chain will argue that the First Amendment’s freedom of religion applies to their corporation and should protect them from the requirement. They object to including emergency contraception and IUDs in their health benefits, claiming that they would be “facilitating what they believe to be an abortion.” Hobby Lobby contends that the law violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Under RFRA, government policies may only “substantially burden” one’s exercise of religion if the law furthers a “compelling government interest” and if the law is applied in the “least restrictive means.”

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of Hobby Lobby, ruling that the company was protected by RFRA. The court did not find the government’s interest in “public health and gender equality” compelling enough to justify the “substantial burden” on the company.

Yet before this case, such claims were unprecedented. Courts regularly identify the compelling government interest in public health laws that justify concessions in personal freedom, from public smoking restrictions to immunizations requirements. The government does not accept that businesses should receive the same protections as religious organizations, and appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the judgment.

The Court will also hear Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius, the appeal of a Pennsylvania cabinet manufacturer owned by a Mennonite family. The family asserts that RFRA and the First Amendment allow for-profit corporations to deny contraceptive coverage based on the religious objections of its owners.

The government counters that the law and current exemptions show “respect for the vibrant religious pluralism that thrives under the protections our Constitution affords.” It acknowledges the sincere beliefs of the family, but reiterates that the requirement is supported by compelling public interests. The 3rd Circuit ruled for the government, and the company is appealing.

This month, the core of the arguments in the Supreme Court chambers will be the liberty of the private sector. What is conspicuously missing from these conversations is the right of any citizen to access basic healthcare services and to be free from their employer’s intrusion into their lives. If the court upholds the challenges, there would be nothing to stand in the way of corporations invoking religious beliefs to deny individuals and their families childhood immunizations, same-sex partnership benefits, maternity care, HIV- testing, or any number of other benefits or services the corporation chooses to deny. In essences, corporations would be given a free pass to discriminate. That is what now hangs in the balance.

References:

Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act (Rules and Regulations). Federal Register 78: 127 (July 2, 2013) Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-02/pdf/2013-15866.pdf

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 42 U.S.C. § 18001 (2010). Available at: http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/rights/law/patient-protection.pdf

Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines for Women’s Preventive Services (August 1, 2011). Available at: http://www.hrsa.gov/womensguidelines/

Benedict K. When Might Does Not Create Religious Rights: For-Profit Corporations’ Employees and the Contraceptive Coverage Mandate. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. 2013; 26(1). Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2360576

American Civil Liberties Union. Challenges to the Federal Contraceptive Coverage Rule. February 19, 2014. Available at:

https://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom/challenges-federal-contraceptive-coverage-rule

Brief for Respondents, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius. (U.S. Supreme Court ) No 13-354. Available at: http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/No-13-354-Brief-for-Respondents.pdf

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, No 12-6294. (Decision of U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals). Available at: http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013.06.27-Opinion.pdf

Brief for the Respondents, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius. (U.S. Supreme Court) No 13-356. Available at: http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/13-356bsUnitedStates.pdf

Lederman M. Symposium: How to understand Hobby Lobby. SCOTUS Blog. February 23, 2014. Available at: http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/02/symposium-how-to-understand-hobby-lobby/

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 WHY I AM A STUDENT FOR SEXUAL HEALTH

By Matt Mazzari

It’s no secret that Catholic-affiliated universities in America struggle with open discussions of sexuality on their campuses.  The fundamental discomfort that religious educational administrations feel regarding issues such as contraception, STI prevention and pre-marital sexual activity in general make it difficult for students at places like my own school, Boston College, to have the oh-so-very important conversations about birth control and sexual health that are oh-so-very relevant to university life.

Of course, acknowledging that these unnecessary taboos exist isn’t to say that progressive conversation isn’t happening anyway.  At BC, students simply find outlets for discussions of sexuality on our own.  Just a few weeks ago, a theatre group of female undergraduates put on three full-house performances of The Vagina Monologues.  Before that, I saw the LGBTQ allies of BC flood an anti-marriage equality lecture on campus with their assertively-tolerant presence.  This semester, I’m taking a course titled “Spirituality and Sexuality” with an openly gay professor wherein my classmates are talking about their own experiences with sex and its relevance (positive and negative) to their religious lives.

Just because certain members of the administration aren’t appreciative of how important these issues are doesn’t mean that the students are going to be silent about them.  The simple fact of the matter is that the vast majority (approximately 75%) of U.S. college students are sexually active, and religious institutions like Boston College are not some miraculous exception.

So yes, students here generally recognize the importance of sexual health to at least some extent.  And it makes sense, right?  A constant topic of controversy for BC is the “hook-up culture”, which students and external perspectives alike have described as being especially pervasive on this campus; any statistically literate person can tell you that this social scene in combination with a lack of sexual health awareness programs is a recipe for disaster, particularly when you consider the fact that 1 in 2 sexually active people will contract an STD by the age of 25. In a survey from 2009, about 90% of BC students answered in support of having access to contraceptive resources, i.e. condoms, available on campus.  It’s pretty clear where the student body (pun-intended) stands on this matter of promoting sexual health.

But if we’re basically all in agreement, why is having a group like the Students for Sexual Health so important at BC?

Personally, I became a part of SSH relatively late; I’m a senior now, and I only went to my first meeting last semester.  I’d seen them handing out condoms at the corner of College Road and Hammond Street since I was a freshman living on Upper Campus.  I remember hearing about the “incidents”: the counter-activism from conservative clubs on campus, the frequent harassment they dealt with from the campus police, or that one time they got yelled at by a priest during condom distribution outside of McElroy.  But despite being aware of the problem and the ludicrous knock-back SSH was encountering, it wasn’t really until this year that it dawned on me that progress just doesn’t seem to be coming along fast enough.

Just look at the political sphere!  Backwards opinions on sexual health aren’t exclusive to Catholic university campuses: since the Affordable Care Act was passed in March of 2010, one of the central controversies has been the coverage of birth control as part of health expenses.  Because, I guess, sexual health isn’t a part of…health?  By last year, nearly a hundred federal lawsuits had been filed specifically in opposition to ACA’s birth control benefits.  The Supreme Court has recently ceded to the demands of several Catholic Organizations regarding this issue.  For instance, the owners of a company named Hobby Lobby, a for-profit Arts and Crafts material-supplier with no open religious affiliation, successfully argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) grants them exemption from providing their employees with birth control insurance based solely on their own religious beliefs.

I’m sorry, but what?!

         How in the name of all that is reasonable does a corporation justify denying its employees federally-guaranteed health care on the basis of the CEO’s personal religion?  So, even though 99% of sexually-active women report having used birth control, that medical expense somehow doesn’t count?  The owners of an Arts and Crafts company just have to say “We think the Pill was invented by Satan” and then they automatically don’t have to provide the women in their company with medical coverage they obviously need?  Should we also take away insurance coverage of blood transfusions if a company owner is part of Jehovah’s Witness?  Should we take away people’s chemo treatment if their manager believes exclusively in faith-healing? The fact that President Obama and Congress are entertaining these demands is extremely unsettling.  Not only does this fly in the face of everything that a national health care plan is supposed to be, it perpetuates an attitude towards young persons’ sexuality (female sexuality in particular) that is incredibly dangerous and wrongheaded, resulting  in the continued high-rates of accidental pregnancies, VD transmission, and general ignorance that have proven to be problematic in the past.

So that’s why I’m a part of this club, SSH.  It’s not because I’m pessimistic about my campus or the students’ attitude here at BC; it’s not because I believe in anything more radical than “everyone should know how to have protected sex”; it’s not even because I want the federal government to provide Americans with anything beyond what it has already agreed to provide.  It’s because the opponents to programs like SSH are still so vocal and powerful, and there is still such a long way to go.  When our country finally reaches the point where it has covered that distance in sexual education and provision of necessary resources, I want to be able to say I was a part of that movement, that I was a Student for Sexual Health.

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“This month, the Supreme Court will begin hearing the court cases that could allow corporations to deny employees birth control coverage just because the boss personally doesn’t agree with it.

But we think it’s pretty simple: Good bosses don’t try to interfere with or control their employees’ personal lives and health care decisions—and they don’t put their personal beliefs over your health.”

-Planned Parenthood Action’s Facebook

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For the month of February, besides attending a Jack and Jill health fair in Fort. Lauderdale, I began my ‘Contraception Awareness Campaign.’  This project is an endeavor that will last for about 8 weeks at my attempt to get 200 people on my campus to learn something new about contraception. My goal is to peer educate at least 25 people every week while I table at my college.  (I will provide information like how to get contraception, the proper way to store them, comparative analysis between brands including breaking myths, as well as educating the importance of contraception in preventing pregnancy). In my first week, there were approximately 40-80 people in attendance and we collected 40 sign ups. The focus was ‘How well do you know your STI’s?’ Although many people came up and played our game, it took an engineering major to win the $25 It’s sugar gift card give-away!  Also around Valentine’s Day, I took part in hosting a love Workshop on my campus in order to educate the students on healthy relationships and contraception use. My passion for educating my peers on this controversial topic comes from recognizing the important role contraceptives play in people’s futures.  As an incredible philosopher once said “Neglect of an effective birth control policy is a never-failing source of poverty which, in turn, is the parent of revolution and crime.” —ARISTOTLE, Politics.

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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?

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by Jen Sorensen via Talking Points Memo and the ACLU

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Thank you to everyone who applied to be a spring 2014 SafeSite! Safesite applications are currently closed! Check back in August for the Fall 2014 semester applications!

This semester’s SafeSites have been selected and should be receiving their box soon – hopefully in time for V-Day – taking into account mother nature’s winter weather plans. Don’t forget to share your awesome activities with us here on Amplify and on Facebook!

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There are many clinics in the Charleston area that can offer contraceptive methods or STD services. Two are DHEC (which has the Teen Point Clinic) and Planned Parenthood. This video just provides basic information about their services but you can call for more information.

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Mike Huckabee has done it again. Just recently making an incredibly insulting comment about women and how we “can’t control our libidos so we go to the government for help.”

Here is the whole quote:

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America, because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”

Not only does this quote take away any dignity that women have but it also shows a symptom of a bigger problem. Today in American (and all over the world rather), men have the entitled thought that they are the superior sex and they make all the decisions, even if it has nothing to do with them.

This kind of thing happens time after time in the american bureaucracy and unfortunately it is only happening with women’s issues. This country needs a wake up call. Women are NOT punching bags. Women have feelings and families and libidos and health issues and lives too. Just because women have vaginas doesn’t mean that we aren’t humans.

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This month I planned my Passion Project which I will be focusing on for the first half of 2014. It is centered on providing people with information on contraceptive access, and bringing awareness to my campus about ways the students can protect themselves.  I plan to table on campus weekly for two consecutive months in order to reach a minimum of 200 people. During these tabling events I will have one on one peer education sessions, a question box, interactive training, and giveaways. Most excitingly, I will be gaining more support for the Healthy Teens Campaign. February and March are going to be productive months, and I most look forward to seeing the positive impact that educated youth will have on our communities.

 

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This Tuesday, while at work, I was listening to my Pandora. After one of my favorite song ended, “Ride Out by K.Michelle”, a commercial about Plan B appeared. Normally I skip past commercials, but I wanted to hear what this commercial had to say about Plan B. Much to my amazement, it had announced that Plan B can now be accessed in the aisle of food and drug stores!!! Meaning, that we no longer needed to go to the pharmacy and have that awkward or embarrassing dialogue about purchasing Plan B. I was in disbelief. To check if this information was true, I went to the Plan B website. I typed in my zip code to determine where Plan B could be purchased in the aisles. Every drug store or supermarket in my area came up in the search engine! Now, I wondered where have I been that I am just hearing about this! Still in disbelief, I call the closest drug store to see if Plan B was available in the aisle.

Giant pharmacy representative: “Hello, this is Mark speaking.
Giant Pharmacy, how may I help you?”

Me: “Hi, Mark! Are you selling the Plan B, the emergency contraception medication, over the counter or do I need to obtain it from a pharmacy representative?”

Mark: “Yes, the emergency contraception pill is available to be purchased over the counter”

Me: “Ok. Thank you!”

At this point, I am still skeptical! So, I leave work during my lunch break and go to the Giant food store. I walked over to the pharmacy counter and asked “Where is the Plan B located?” The representative pointed to the glass display behind the counter. So I preceded to attempt to purchase it to determine if the representative would ask for ID to determine my age. And of course, she did! I left Giant feeling somewhat proud. Activists have been pushing to make “Plan B/The morning after pill” more accessible. Now the pill is being sold over the counter. However, there are still some obstacles. The fact some stores may ask for ID to determine the purchaser’s age before selling Plan B is a limitation. This means that younger people trying to access this medication may be denied. We aren’t quite where we need to be, but thank God we are not were we used to be when it comes to accessing Plan B.

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(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.”

 

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Growing up as a young South Carolinian, sex education was non- existent. If it was available, it was vague, and as a result having the opportunity to make a difference, even if a small one, became my goal. Once I learned of the South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign, I was able to pursue my goal of serving as a sexual and reproductive health advocate, and it has truly been a life changing experience and a rush. Covering topics such as anatomy and physiology, birth control options, and reproductive rights, offers me the chance to take action as well as opened my eyes to the information young people are lacking. Being a SC Youth Activist and being able to spread reliable, accurate information in an innovative and fun way – with free pizza I might add – was and continues to be a recipe for great learning. We also utilize social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, in addition to our free text messaging line, as resource tools to raise awareness about contraceptive access. A lot, if not most young adults use social media and texting to communicate. Creating these means for learning can make a huge difference because we are essentially meeting young people where they feel most comfortable.

Equipping young people with the necessary knowledge to protect themselves from STDs and unplanned pregnancies has sparked great joy. While there is still much outreach and education to be done to ensure that young people everywhere have reliable resources, being apart of a network and organization like the South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign has given me great hope.

For more information on how you can be involved with raising awareness about contraceptive access and reproductive health services, please contact the South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign at www.southcarolinasafersex.org.

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Just recently, I made a trip to the gynecologist to get a refill of my preferred birth control. I have the privilege of having insurance that requires no copay for appointments as such, and I had the privilege of getting into this doctor’s office within a month of calling. For my low-income neighborhood (see: health disparities), that was pretty quick. I was hoping for a quick appointment as well – sit down, update the doctor, get my prescription, and be on my way.

I haven’t been to this doctor in almost a year, but she had performed a pap smear and pelvic exam last visit. I also had no real changes between then and now. An added tidbit of information, I also just got a pelvic exam in the emergency room three months ago (unrelated, was nothing serious). I let the nurse know this, and I also informed her that I haven’t had any symptoms or real trouble. The doctor comes in, talks to me for a bit, and then instructs me to strip. The dreaded pelvic exam. The dreaded pelvic exam that I had just three months ago. When I protested and asked why she was doing a pelvic exam, I was told it is required to prescribe birth control. However, I had just been to the health district where they prescribed me birth control without me even taking my clothes off. I’d also like to note that my gynecologist did not ONCE ask me if I was sexually active, had been having unprotected sex, or if I’d like to get tested for HIV/STI’s, while the health district spent a good amount of time making sure they were fully aware of all my risk factors, and I was aware of the resources available to me.

I am seventeen, was in the office without a parent, and I did as instructed, not that I had much opportunity to do anything else. While still in the office, I decided to Google if pelvic exams are really required for birth control, contrary to my previous experience at the health district, only to find a massive online community outraged at the unnecessary pelvic exams women across the country are being forced into if they want a birth control prescription. According to a 2010 study, 1/3rd of of doctors and advanced nurses required pelvic exams before they would administer or prescribe hormonal birth control. Regardless of the fact thatguidelinesstudies, and experts have stated that pelvic exams are unnecessary.

Unnecessary pelvic exams are hindering in so many different ways. If a woman goes into her gynecologist to try to get a birth control prescription and is met with the unexpected price of a pelvic exam (around $350 in my experiences), this can keep the woman from obtaining birth control. My vagina, my rules, right? The simplest saying that carries the most weight, right? The simplest saying that is often betrayed by health care providers, particularly in marginalized communities. Minority groups and marginalized communities will not always have the means to pay for a pelvic exam. This puts women at risk of unintended and teen pregnancy, a problem that disproportionately affects communities of color. People of color are more likely to live in poverty which results in a probability that they would not be able to afford an unnecessary pelvic exam just so they can get birth control.

When it comes to effective birth control, we must do everything in our power to make it as easily attainable as possible. The fact is, pelvic exams often scare the young women I have encountered out of going to their doctors for birth control. I am still shocked by the fact that my gynecologist required a pelvic exam when I had just been prescribed birth control via the health district with NO pelvic exam necessary. These are the barriers that stand in the way of our young women and their reproductive health and choice. Women that do want birth control are often afraid or unable to obtain it because of things like mandated pelvic exams that raise appointments costs exponentially and leave women feeling like they have no choice but to lay back and allow it. I couldn’t help but feel slightly violated after my gynecology appointment, but more than violated, I was angry. I am angry that other people with vaginas are being forced to have unnecessary, highly invasive, uncomfortable exams that they can’t afford just to exercise their right to obtain birth control.

As with any issue, we need to speak up, speak loud, and speak truth. My body is not something for private doctor offices to turn a profit on. My body is not a vessel for your unnecessary medical treatments performed in keeping with tradition. I refuse to be quiet about this. Birth control should be accessible to all, without fear. I am speaking out, and I am not speaking alone.

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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.)

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Did you know that December 1st was World Aids awareness day? If not, you weren’t the only one. About 75%-80% of the people I spoke directly to this month had no idea about this fact either. That is why I recently had the pleasure to have small peer education sessions with over 30 people and not only fill them in on this relevant information, but also to pass out goody bags filled with candy, condoms, and other small pamphlets. What I enjoyed most about my small direct sessions with the students on my campus was the way we were able to engage in this somewhat intimidating topic. I had the fear at first that people would want to shy away from the discussion and not give me the chance to explain, but instead many welcomed the information and were in fact interested in the topic.

“Broward County is #1 in new HIV infection rates, what!?”

“I never even know there was a texting line for those embarrassing sex-related questions!”

My absolute favorite had to be when it was all over and they would look at me and say “Thank you, I learned something new today!” And as great as that felt, I can admit that what I did wasn’t anything anyone else couldn’t do.  I gave about 40 minutes to share my knowledge with those around me. As we bask in the wonders of the Holiday Season, I believe it’s important to remember that more often than not it’s not about the price of the gift, it’s about its impact.

Happy Holidays!

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This week I had the opportunity to conduct an educational training on pregnancy prevention for local high school students in my community. The teen summit had over 400 students in attendance.   I co-facilitated the presentation with an educator from Planned Parenthood. I was extremely nervous at the first session while I presented. A million thoughts went through my head; were they listening, was I saying it right, did they understand, etc. This was my first experience at peer educating so I wanted to be perfect.  There were three sessions in total. By the second session I felt more relaxed and comfortable. It was a great feeling to see the students interact and yearn for more information. I felt accomplished when a few students stayed after the presentation to ask more questions. This experience has shown me that peer education is something I’d like to continue doing.

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Exciting news!  Applications to join our Great American Condom Campaign are now open!

The Great American Condom Campaign is a youth-led grassroots movement to reduce unintended pregnancies and the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by normalizing condom use on college and university campuses.  Students from across the country apply to become individual condom distribution points–AKA SafeSites– and upon selection receive a box of 500 Trojan condoms to distribute to their peers.  SafeSites are also tasked with educating their peers about safer sex and advocating on campus and within their community for the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.

This past fall, 1,400 SafeSites distributed more than 700,000 condoms to students on 946 campuses.  SafeSites were established in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Sound like fun? Apply for the GACC NOW!

We receive way more  applications than we can accept, so make sure your application stands out! Be clear about how you will distribute condoms and why you want to be part of the GACC.  To learn more about the GACC and the awesome work of previous SafeSites, go to the GACC Facebook page.

Applications to be a Spring Semester SafeSite are open through December 31st, 2013. It only takes 10 minutes to fill out an application, so start now!

Do it for your country.

 

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Walk into just about any grocery store, pharmacy, corner store, or health center, and you’ll find a multitude of condom choices: ultrathin, ribbed, warming sensation, twisted, large, colorful, flavored, etc. Most of these shops will have just about any condom you can imagine — except for the female condom.This World AIDS Day, it’s time to demand better access to female condoms.

Female condoms, also known as “receptive-partner condoms” or “internal condoms,” fill an important niche in contraception. As the only receptive-partner initiated contraceptive method that offers protection against STIs and HIV, many women consider the female condom a tool of empowerment. In some cases, women have been able to negotiate use of female condoms in cases where male condoms were unacceptable to one or both partners.

Even the mere fact that the female condom is another contraceptive option is a positive thing for sexual health. Research has fairly consistently shown that having more choices of contraceptive methods increases the number of protected sex acts. One study in particular found that offering female condoms along with male condoms also increased the total number of protected sex acts compared with offering male condoms alone.

Of course, a “protected sex act” is only as useful as the method itself, so it helps that female condoms are just about as effective as male condoms. The failure rate for perfect use of male condoms is 2%, and the failure rate for perfect use of female condoms is 5%.[1] Several small studies have shown that female condoms are at least as effective as male condoms at preventing the transmission of STIs. Female condoms also reduce the probability of HIV transmission by 97% per act. Unlike male condoms, female condoms also protect some of the external skin, possibly offering even greater protection against certain STIs transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

Beyond the clinical benefits, female condoms outshine male condoms in a few ways. Female condoms can be inserted a few hours before sex and don’t require an erection to put on, so they make for a sexual experience with less interruption. Even the materials themselves offer some advantages. The FC2, the only FDA approved female condom, is made with nitrile, which quickly warms to body temperature, providing a more natural sensation. It is lubricated with silicone, which is longer lasting and less sticky than water-based lubricant. Some people even report that the outer ring increases stimulation!

Despite being safe, effective, and pleasant to use, female condoms still only make up about 3.4% of condoms distributed worldwide.

It would be easy to assume that female condoms aren’t as common as male condoms because people don’t like them as much as male condoms, but that’s an oversimplification of a complicated problem. There are many barriers to increased use and availability of female condoms in the United States, including negative impressions of the first generation of female condoms, a self-perpetuating cycle of low use and lack of investment, and cumbersome FDA approval processes.[2]

The first generation female condom (FC1) was made out of polyurethane and had a very low acceptance rate. This was partially due to a lack of implementation planning, but users also complained about the texture, smell, noisiness, and uncomfortable outer ring of the FC1. However, these complaints do not translate to the FC2. People who used both generations found that the FC2 was better because “it was soft, not noisy, not painful, and did not have a bad smell.” Unfortunately, most of the available data about acceptability of female condoms focuses on FC1, and the reputation is lagging behind the improvements.

Regrettably, it’s difficult to increase the number of FDA approved female condom types due to the burdensome approval process. Male condoms get a pass because of a wonky FDA classification system.

This combination of forces makes it difficult for female condoms to gain traction. However, FC2 is faring far better than its predecessor thanks to a handful of citywide female condom education and distribution programs, improved training for health care providers, and wider marketing. Still, there are ways that you can help make female condoms more accessible.

What YOU can do 

  • Ask your pharmacy to stock female condoms. Hand your pharmacist this stock request card, and, if you want, include a personal message about why you think female condoms are important.
  • Talk about female condoms. Spread the word about why they matter, and kick misinformation to the curb.
  • Be an advocate. If you don’t live in a city with a female condom distribution program,[3] you can learn how to advocate for one by getting in touch with the National Female Condom Coalition. 

When it comes to safer sex, we should leave no method behind. Stand up for female condoms and help bring more attention to this effective and empowering contraception.

Learn more about FC2 and hear from real users at http://bedsider.org/methods/female_condom#how_to_tab


[1] Most of the available data for female condom failure rates focuses on the first generation female condom, but data provided to the FDA showed that the failure rate of the FC2 was equivalent to the first generation female condom.

[2] The problems are different in countries where more than one type of female condom is approved, but this post will focus on the United States.

[3] Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and D.C.

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GACC AmberName: Amber

School:  California State University Long Beach

Year in School: Senior

Have you been a GACC SafeSite Before: Yes, I was a SafeSite in the 2012-2013 school year.

“We know that barrier-free access to sexual health information and resources are critical to the sexual health of all people, but especially young people” says Amber in response to why she decided to apply and participate in the Great American Condom Campaign.

A member of her local Choice USA chapter, Amber tells us that it was her goal to make sure students had access to all the resources they needed.  “On our own campus, few students know where to go to get affordable condoms, or students that do know that they can get them free at the Health Resource Center are limited to the number that they can get there. We wanted to eliminate some of these barriers by making condoms easily accessible on campus.”

For Amber and her team, being able to start conversations has had an important impact. By removing “barriers to access, like price and availability, we are also able to work on another huge barrier: social stigma about who has sex, when is sex appropriate, who is responsible for pregnancy &/or STI prevention.GACC Long Beach

Even though Amber and her Choice USA chapter have been very vocal about their advocacy work, they recognize that not everyone is as comfortable talking about sex or sexual health as they are. “To lessen the stigma or embarrassment for people taking condoms from us, we often hand them out along with fliers or candy, something that will be more inviting for people to take,” she says.

When asked if she had any fun or funny stories to share about the campaign, Amber said this— “We found funny the very gendered ways that people react to our presence. Women tend to be more shy and reluctantly take a condom when offered, while men typically walk up to our table because they see the condoms there and gladly take handfuls of them.”

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My favorite time of the year is Autumn- hence my love for all things Halloween! As the Events Coordinator for an LGBTQA Youth Organization in South Florida, my largest gratification comes when I produce a fabulous and successful event.

Two weeks ago was our annual LGBTQA-Inclusive Halloween Dance with the theme of “Voodoo in the Bayou” – stemming from my obsession with being a Southern Belle and the legendary, magical city of New Orleans. The decorations for the evening consisted of grand and elaborate foliage, life-size skeletons and even a Royal Jester greeting guests at the door.

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The event was hosted by the grand diva, Miss Andii Viveros- of course. The evening consisted of an AWESOME D.J., endless food and performances to LIVE for! Whenever you have 75+ LGBTQA youth in attendance, two things are a must: #1- Great Food and #2- An endless supply of condoms!

Around the room, there were tables with food, beverages and desserts. There were also seperate tables dedicated to just buckets filled with candy and cauldrons filled to the top with all types of contraception! There were condoms of all varieties, female condoms, dental dams, flavored condoms and lubricant!

It was a memorable evening had by all- from a Beyonce performance by professional dancers, to a sickening Toni Braxton ballad executed by Miss Andii. At the end of the evening, all youth who attended the dance received a goody bag to take home filled with candy, condoms, lubrication and information for our local sex-ed text line and other youth support services!

Being involved the Broward County Youth C0uncil and Advocates for Youth has made me open my eyes to all of the opportunities there are for outreach to be made in regards to contraceptive access and sex-ed information to be provided!

 

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This week, the makers of Trojan condoms released their 8th annual Sexual Health Report Card, ranking the best and worst college and universities in the country with sexual health resources and information.

What are you doing to help your school ranking around sexual health? Upload a photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and show us how you distribute condoms. Make sure to use the hashtag #GACC

Through the Great American Condom Campaign, we know there are hundreds of campuses working towards improving condom access & information on sexual health. Yet, we know may campuses still have bad policies and regulations in place that limit the access of young people. Is your school one of those?

From November 7th-14th, raise your voice and tweet to your school (or via Facebook), and asked them to support policies that improve young people’s health & lives. 

 Examples:

@BostonCollege What are you doing to improve #condom access on campus? http://prn.to/1hNQx7X #GACC

@ChicagoState Why are we last on this list? Let’s improve #condom access #GACC http://prn.to/1hNQx7X

By using the hashtag #GACC and tweeting to your school (or via Facebook), you can start a conversation on your campus about the policies needed to support young people on campus.

Let’s ensure that young people have the tools needed to lead healthy sexual lives.

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Last weekend I decided to put together an event that promoted safe sex. Given the fact that it was the weekend before Halloween it was a great opportunity to dress up and have some fun. I planned a bar crawl where I would travel to different bars and hand out condom necklaces and comprehensive sex information. My sister and I dressed up in our tutus as “Condom Fairies” handed out over 700 condoms on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. If was loads of fun and we met tons of new people. The most rewarding aspect was when individuals would commend us on our efforts to promoted safe sex. A lot of people we met thought what we were doing and encouraged us to keep it up.

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Seeing a pregnant teenager makes many people uncomfortable. The discomfort is rooted in facing the reality that the comforting lies these people tell themselves about youth not being sexual beings, don’t have questions about sex, and aren’t having sex are wrong.
By finding comfort and silence in their disillusions they too play a role in the high rate of unintended pregnancies experienced by teenagers and young adults everyday.
I remember being a pregnant 15 year old and complete strangers glaring at me, stopping me to lecture me on what a mistake I have made and how terrible I make the world, and telling me how dumb I was for not just saying no and keeping my legs closed.
After having my daughter some of these things subsided because I was no longer a pregnant teen they felt inclined to harass instead the disillusions took on a new form. When people would see me with my daughter they told themselves I was the baby sitter, older sister, nanny, cousin, anything BUT the mother.
The few rude brave ones would approach me and ask me if I was her mother. “YES!” I would proudly answer with the new mother glow only to be scoffed at, looked up and down, and walked away from.
Teenagers become pregnant for a variety of reasons: inadequate sex education, lack of access to affordable contraceptives, no one to talk to about sex and relationships, poverty, boredom, sexual assault, planning a pregnancy, all types of reasons. However, the overwhelming consensus is elders are failing to help youth navigate the world of relationships and sexuality in a healthy way so teens are figuring it out on their own.
Don’t like it? Change it by changing the way YOU (read adults) address and deal with approaching the topic. It isLet’s Talk Month… maybe you should start listening and stop comforting yourself with lies.

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Malala Yousafzai, along with her father, are education activists in Pakistan striving to end educational inequality despite the institutional oppressions put in place. When the story of Malala’s assassination attempt by the Taliban made news about a year ago, this was the next the shot heard around the world. Hundreds of journalists and bloggers wrote about her involvement in girl’s education and the role of the Taliban. Fundraisers and sponsorships emerged for South Asian education development for girls, making this a prime example of consumer capitalism on a structural issue of educational inequality in Pakistan (1). Fortunately, this girl survived and made a steady recovery. She has wowed the world with her resilience, and for that, I am honored, especially from the lens of another South Asian Muslim woman.

However, her success doesn’t come with scrutiny. I’m not surprised that she gained so much fame as a result of a vicious attack by Pakistani Muslim extremist men. I’m no stranger to the way the media covered the story and perceptions of Pakistani Muslim men in general, and nothing will be the same post 9/11 for Arab, Middle Eastern, South Asian, or Muslim (AMEMSA) men (2). They are always deemed as “barbaric, savage, and backwards,” words frequently used to describe them and other men of color and the atrocities they do without a mention of the harm inflicted on women of color bodies by white men via imperialism, colonialism, and sexual violence (3, 4).

Yet, my hope for Malala is that the Western gaze will not impede her goals with their “peaceful” interventions or continue to deem the Global South as a hindrance to gender equality. I hope she can overcome the oppressions instilled in these countries by the Western world and current policies affecting women of color bodies (3, 5). As Malala said on the Today Show with Jon Stewart, “we don’t understand the importance of anything unless it’s snatched from our hands.” (6) Now is the time to understand the complexities of social oppression and its influences on the security of women of color everywhere.

Sources:
(1) http://activist1.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/brand-malala-western-exploitation-of-a-schoolgirl/
(2) http://m.colorlines.com/archives/2013/06/seven_surprising_facts_about_asian-american_and_middle_eastern_boys.html
(3) http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/12584/transnational-anti-imperialism-and-middle-east-wom
(4) http://disciplesofmalcolm.tumblr.com/post/43584250163
(5) http://iranwire.com/en/projects/1777
(6) http://www.upworthy.com/watch-this-incredible-young-woman-render-jon-stewart-speechless

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Hi everyone! This is a brief post, just with a question (or two) for my fellow Ohioans.

1.) How old does one need to be to have a birth control implant from Planned Parenthood?

2.) Are schools legally able to provide condoms or emergency contraceptives?

Thanks!

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(Image reposted from Amplify Facebook – click here for more)

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.

 

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August 2013 is the beginning of my second year as a Broward County Youth Council member. This year will be bitter sweet for  me because I am aging out. I am extremely excited for what this year has to bring. All of the hard work we did last year is slowly coming to fruition. I am excited to see how everything falls into place regarding comprehensive sex ed in the Broward County school system. This year we have a few new members and I am anxious to work with them on our upcoming projects. This year will be EPIC for me. I plan on having a blast. Urban Retreat is s quickly approaching and I am ready to learn new techniques and tools that will help me be a better advocate. This year will definitely be a memorable one.

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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?

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New York City’s Health Department understands that you have to meet youth where they’re at and today youth are almost always on their phones.
Knowing this NYC’s Department of Health has released two apps, Find Condoms NYC and Teens in NYC Protection+ that help youth locate sexual health services as well as LGTQ counseling centers in their immediate locations through the “near me” or “current location” options or through typing in an address.
Both apps are extremely user friendly and are available through the app store for free! In addition these apps help youth locate FREE condoms!
While some individuals are trying to lessen the amount and or access to medically accurate sexual health and mental health consoling for youth, I applaud New York Cities Department of Health for releasing these apps which are literally at any youth’s fingertips who have a smart phone.
One of the things I would like both apps to have is a set by set guide or video on how to properly place both a female and male condom because although many people know what a condom is many have no idea how to properly use one. Thankfully fellow Amplify contributor has outlined the 12 Steps, yes there are 12, to using a male condom properly.
I hope more cities that lack comprehensive sex ed are taking similar strides to providing youth and young adults in their cities the information they need and want by developing sexual health apps for smart phone users.

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The piece explains how residents in this particular Bronx zip code have at least two of the following STD’s:HIV hepatitis B, hepatitis C, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia and tuberculosis?”
 
This got me thinking about what major campaigns or sex education curriculums have arguably lesser known STD’s as prominent as HIV/ AIDS. Sex education usually stresses HIV/ AIDS so much that other STD’s are seen as less serious, less likely to be contracted, and in some cases completely forgotten about. 
 
The immediate comments following the article were:
 
“I knew it would be The Bronx. Lotz of dope users.” Actually the title says it in big bold letters above.
 
“What do you expect when most residents of 10457 can’t even spell STD?”
 
And the eloquent: “We are the ones paying for these creatures aids treatments, at  40-80K for the rest of their lives.” SO MUCH WRONG WITH THIS.
 
HOLD ON! 10457 is my zip code!
I can tell you first hand that finding a condom in my neighborhood is damn near impossible. I remember sitting down one day and wondering where I could go and get a condom for free if I needed one and not being able to come up with anywhere that was within walking distance from my home. 
The comments go on to talk about how terrible myself and my neighbors are. 
 
However, not one of the comments I read, and I had to soon stop because it appears the Daily News has captured the most ignorant and judgmental audience in New York City, stopped to think about the lack of access, affordability, and social problems that factor into these findings. 
 
While the Upper West Side and Upper East Side richer neighborhoods have more access, information, and actually teach a more comprehensive sex education curriculum in their schools. The reality is The Bronx and specifically 10457 is way behind with all of the above. 
 
As a resident I’m racking my brain about the initiatives I can start to change my neighborhood from “Disease Alley” to “Accurate Sex Education Condom Alley.” 

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GACC

Want a chance to win this t-shirt? Then apply to the Great American Condom Campaign (GACC) today!

This year, we’re going big. 1,000 campuses across the country will have the chance to become a GACC SafeSite, and distribute 500 condoms on their campus. That’s 500,000 condoms going to your fellow students and friends that will protect their health, and start making condoms normal.

Take a moment to apply and be part of the GACC movement!

We are looking for young people, just like you, who have exciting ideas to distribute condoms and safer sex information on your campuses. Do you have what it takes? Sound like fun?

Then apply here.

Applications to be a Fall Semester SafeSite are open through August 31st, 2013. It only takes 10 minutes to fill out an application, so start now! To sweeten the deal, 5 lucky applicants will win a GACC t-shirt.

To learn more about the GACC and the awesome work of previous SafeSites, go to www.amplifyyourvoice.org/gacc.

Do it for your country.

P.S. Make sure to tell your friends about the GACC! Find us on Facebook!

 

Tweet now!Apply 2 @AdvocatesTweets #GACC & help distribute 500,000 #Trojan #condoms on your #college campus! http://bit.ly/12G8Xmr

 

tweet-now-toutAre you ready to join the Great American Condom Campaign? Apply today and Advocates for Youth and Trojan will send you 500 condoms to hand out on your college campus to promote sexual health! Do it for your country! http://bit.ly/12G8Xmr

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After over a decade of pointless restrictions and politics taking priority over science, emergency contraception (EC) is finally on store shelves where it belongs! Regardless of age, anyone can now buy Plan B One-Step® as easily as they stock up on ibuprofen—no need to show identification or get a pharmacist involved. This is especially important for young people, who no longer need to get prescriptions or show ID they may not have. At last, we’re trusted to make responsible decisions about our bodies and lives.

Want to join in on the celebration? There’s a fun and simple way to show your support—here’s how:
1. Go to rhtp.org/ECotcGraphic.asp and print out a Healthcare in Your Hands graphic. Fill in your name and location.

2. Take a trip to your local pharmacy and find EC in the family planning aisle, near the condoms and pregnancy tests.

3. Either pose for a picture with your graphic and EC in the store or buy some and take your picture at home. (Remember, EC is always good to have around!)

4. Submit your picture to ecotc.tumblr.com/submit and tell us about your experience finding EC or why you’re excited that it’s finally on store shelves.

It’s that easy to join the party and show how many people can finally take their healthcare into their own hands! Check out ecotc.tumblr.com for more helpful information about the new rules for purchasing generic emergency contraception and what to do if a pharmacist denies you access.

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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.

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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

  1. Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
  2. Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
  3. 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:

  1. “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
  2. “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
  3. “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.

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California’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 60 percent as a result of expanded sex education programs, according to a report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday.

The report –- which was based on data collected until 2011 — revealed that the California teen pregnancy rate reached a 20-year low that year. While in 1991, there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19, in 2011 this number decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens.

Teen pregnancy rates fell across all ethnic groups, according to the report. The Hispanic teen birth rate dropped from 73.6 in 2001 to 42.7 in 2011 –- although Hispanics continue to be the group with the highest teen birth rate. Teen pregnancy rates for African-Americans, Whites and Asian-Americans also decreased significantly.

Several factors contributed to the falling pregnancy rates, the department said in a press release. One factor was the state’s school sex education program, which law requires to be comprehensive and medically accurate. The report also credits community-based education programs that provide sexual health information to teens and their parents.

“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.

“California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”

As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/california-teen-pregnancy-rates-drop_n_3625090.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

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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!

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Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.

I can not tell you how often I have been asked in interviews or casual conversation if I support teenage pregnancy prevention. Somehow to some people that fact that I advocate for respect and a fair chance at creating the future I and so many other teenage parents want or wanted translates to I do not agree with teenage pregnancy prevention. I do.
The next question is usually what do you think would have worked on you or needs to happen to reduce the rate of teenage pregnany.
My answers are and will always be-but not limited to:
  • Parents need to talk to their children about sex and relationships early.
  • Schools need to teach comprehensive sex Ed.
  • When asked a question about sex or relationships by a youth answer them and more importantly answer honestly.
  • Stop pretending like kids and teens aren’t thinking or talking about sex.
In a nutshell the response is: those answers are too taboo. What about ads? You know ads like nyc hra’s recent ones or ones a like? Aren’t those good?
No. 
Well surely they would’ve worked on you if say them.
 I did and they didn’t. 
End of conversation or follow up with more questions.
People! Stop thinking a PSA is going to be the end all be all of teenage pregnancy and more importantly stop asking me questions you don’t like the answers to.
Stop asking youth and young adults what they think if you won’t listen.
Because I’m tired of speaking and having no one listen

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Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.

I can not tell you how often I have been asked in interviews or casual conversation if I support teenage pregnancy prevention. Somehow to some people that fact that I advocate for respect and a fair chance at creating the future I and so many other teenage parents want or wanted translates to I do not agree with teenage pregnancy prevention. I do.
The next question is usually what do you think would have worked on you or needs to happen to reduce the rate of teenage pregnany.
My answers are and will always be-but not limited to:
  • Parents need to talk to their children about sex and relationships early.
  • Schools need to teach comprehensive sex Ed.
  • When asked a question about sex or relationships by a youth answer them and more importantly answer honestly.
  • Stop pretending like kids and teens aren’t thinking or talking about sex.
In a nutshell the response is: those answers are too taboo. What about ads? You know ads like nyc hra’s recent ones or ones a like? Aren’t those good?
No. 
Well surely they would’ve worked on you if say them.
 I didn’t and they didn’t. 
End of conversation or follow up with more questions.
People!  stop thinking a PSA is going to be the end all be all of teenage pregnancy and more importantly stop asking me questions you don’t like the answers to.
Stop asking youth and young adults what they think if you won’t listen. Because I’m tired of speaking and having no one listen

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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.

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-11/flea-market-abortions-thrive-as-texas-may-close-clinics.html

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Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies

The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.

READ MORE HERE.

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When I mention the term taboo I DO mean the game in which you guess the word someone on your team is explaining. I mean taboo as in  is a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too sacred or too accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake, under threat of supernatural punishment as explained by Wikipedia(you know you refer to that site).  Parents today are just not taking the initiative to  teach their kids or even answer questions.Everything starts at  home.  The schools does not enforce sexual education like they should hence why advocates does the work they do.  I hearing all kinds of things that are just plain crazy and I have to correct the young people and send to different resource. If different organizations are providing the resources then parents should back the kids it’s only right.  I want education for all dispite the topic. If only I can educate the world.Sex shouldn’t be taboo instead it’s should be talked about.  I am positive parents don’t want students learning from the wrong person.

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Greetings Everyone,

The South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign is now accepting applications for youth and young adults (ages 16-29) to serve as Youth Activists working on sexual and reproductive health issues in the Greenville area!

We seek to create a team of highly qualified and motivated youth and young adults to work with us on our New Media Campaign program.

Ready to work in your community to make a difference? Click here to apply today!

Please pass this information and application on to all youth and young adults who would be great advocates for sexual and reproductive health, and most qualified for the job. And please share and post the flyer – get it here in black and white or here in color.

Apply to be a youth activist with the South Carolina Contraceptive Access program today!

You can learn more about the campaign at www.southcarolinasafersex.org. Please contact me at india@advocatesforyouth.org if you have any questions.

Thank you for your interest/assistance in the recruitment process. And remember, space is limited so apply quickly!

Sincerely,

India Walters

Program Associate, South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign

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sex ed

So lately I have been on a health kick. I partake in so many things to try to get to my goal weight. Green smoothies, juicing, exercise, detoxes, weight loss challenges, you name it. This health binge that I’m on is basically like a whole new lifestyle. Today while I was in the gym I noticed there were many other dedicated individuals who were working hard towards what ever goal they wished to achieve. As I sweat bullets on the elliptical I though to myself that if people where as concerned about their sexual health as they were with their physical health there would be a significant change in the number of sexually transmitted diseases. There are individuals who dedicate hours in the gym each day, eliminate carbohydrates from their diet, and even refrain from eating meat to be “healthier” but do not even know their HIV status. Obviously, there is a disconnect somewhere. Your sexual health is just as, if not more, important as your physical health. We need to focus on the body as a whole and not only the outer part. Let’s start working out and getting our sexual health in shape. Knowing is half of the battle. Know your status, get tested, use protection, and spread the knowledge.

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I came across an interesting article; Parents of Teen Girls More Accepting of Birth Control Pills Than Other Contraceptive Methods, Study Finds. A study was conducted at UC San Francisco and the researchers asked parents if they were ok with their teen’s doctor providing various methods of contraceptives upon finding out that they are sexually active.  The results were staggering. Birth control pills came in first, followed closely by condoms.  However, ranked at the end of the list of contraceptive methods, came implants and IUDs (the MOST effective contraception). Interestingly as well, results even found that parents who regularly attended religious services had a lower acceptance of emergency contraception. Even though there is a little ray of hope due to the fact that the parents didn’t shut down the whole list of contraceptive options, results from this study still show that more education needs to take place. I tried to wrap my mind around why parents wouldn’t even highly favor condom usage, -due to it being less invasive- and after remembering conversations I had with my mom, it started to make perfect sense. Now all these theories are subjective, but since they coincide with results, maybe some of you guys can relate.

Parents do not like the idea of their child having sex. This shouldn’t come as a shocker, but it’s a great foundation statement to gain some understanding. If parents don’t like the idea of their child having sex then they won’t approve of condoms, injectable contraception, emergency contraception, patches, and most definitely implants or IUDs. The reason birth control pills manage to get a pass is because it allows for an ignorance-is-bliss mind frame. “Oh my daughter isn’t having sex, she takes the pill to regulate her periods.” The last little additional piece of the results that talked about parents with high religiosity and the correlation to emergency contraceptive was interesting.. For some strange reason emergency contraceptive is often mistaken as a form of abortion. Abortion is very taboo among a lot of religious communities.

Upon viewing all of this the results make sense, but it’s disheartening. Parents are missing out on playing a pivotal role in helping their daughters hone their autonomy with their sexual health.  Not only would it build a closer relationship but the teen would be able to make better decisions in the future about what’s best for them concerning their health. Parents need to realize that they would not be condoning promiscuity if their teen uses various methods of contraception. They would be simply helping their teen transition better to adulthood. Education is not solely for youth, there is a wealth of information for parents to know as well. For more information on parent communication when it comes to sexual health, you can visit www.advocatesforyouth.org.

 

 

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“CPCs have a long history of engaging in deceptive advertising. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care. The Family Research Council investigated what names would be most likely to appeal to women, particularly pro-choice women, in a 1998 report. Women’s Resource Center, which gives the impression of a full range of services, was deemed to have the most strategic value in reaching women “at risk for abortion.” The report also showed that women faced with an unplanned pregnancy were most likely to look in the Yellow Pages under the words “Pregnancy,” “Medical,” “Women’s Centers” and “Clinics.” Accordingly, CPCs often are advertised under these categories, as well as “Abortion Alternatives,” and “Women’s Organizations.” CPCs also advertise through posters, signs, and billboards that contain messages like, “Free Pregnancy Test,” or “Pregnant? Scared? We Can Help! Call 1-800 #.” Women report, however, that when they call these numbers the CPC representatives evade questions about whether they provide abortions, and urge the women to make an appointment to meet with a ‘counselor’ to talk in person.”

Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice

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May is observed throughout the nation as many things but one of the most important things that is observed in May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention. Teen pregnancy is a big problem in the US as we have some of the highest rates in the world among our peer nations. This is for a variety of reasons including a societal taboo in discussing sex among teens, a de-emphasis on healthy relationships being portrayed in media and an insistence on keeping abstinence only sex education in our schools. I also think that not starting sex education early enough contributes. If I had a magic wand, I would make all these reasons go away, but I cannot. All we can do is work to change society’s minds to further improve the health of our teens.

 

In the meanwhile, it becomes important during the month of May that raise awareness to practice safe sex!

 

To raise awareness on safe sex practice, here are a few tips:

  • Do  your research on birth control options and decide on the best choice for you
  • Don’t have sex with a partner who doesn’t respect your right to request the use of condoms or other birth control methods,
  • Look out for friends who may be unaware of the risks involved in certain actions

 

South Carolina still has some of the highest teen birth rates in the country, and we have the ability to change this! For more information on pregnancy in SC, visit www.southcarolinasafersex.org!

 

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I have spoken with people about the various birth control options that are available, as well as discussed  reasons for not using a method, and some of the reasons I heard for not using a birth control option has really just been myths regarding their possible side effects. There will be side effects for any type of medication we use, but just because a side effect is listed on the medication DOES NOT mean that that side effect will occur for you.

It is important to do research of a method you may be interested in and weigh all of the pros and cons. Even if one method does not work, try another one and SWITCH IT UP! There is nothing against or wrong with trying more than one method to find one that works for you. It is also important to switch it up if need be, especially because one method that works horribly for “Suzie” may work perfect for you and vice versa. Ask around to get personal experiences, but don’t limit your options based on that or other myths you have heard. Check in with your health care provider if you are thinking about “switchin’ it up!” And remember, SAFE SEX is the BEST SEX and you should always be protected!

For more information on your birth control options and to find a healthcare provider in your area, text SEXT to 74574!

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The Candies foundation has done a great job at repackaging anti-teenage pregnancy messages in a way that youth and celebrities alike pay attention to. However, it has greatly failed at addressing or highlighting the factors that lead to teenage pregnancy and how to avoid an unintended  pregnancy.

Factors like poverty, which has been found to lead to teenage pregnancy and defy the notion that teenage pregnancy leads to poverty. Lack of comprehensive sex education which has been found to delay the on-set of sexual intercourse, lack of access to preventative services like birth control and condoms.

 

Some argue the ads aren’t bad and work. Let me take this chance to tell you I saw these ads and many like them BEFORE becoming pregnant at 15. Didn’t work for me and they don’t for the other 750,000 teens that become pregnant each year.

 

If more anti-teenage pregnancy organizations addressed and amplified the factors that lead to teenage pregnancy their messaging would be less offensive to teenage families and more effective in reducing teenage pregnancy and STD/STI infections in youth.

It’s important to realize that people can and are offensive without intending to or realizing they are but this is no reason to continue with offensive messaging.

 

Public service announcements and public and private campaigns which paint portraits of a desolate life for teenage families not only perpetuate stereotypes born out of ignorance, they can also lead to discouraging teenage families from seeking help and services that may be available to them while simultaneously discourage adults from helping teenage families for fear of being viewed as “encouraging teenage pregnancy.”

 

As a teen mom I call on all anti-teenage pregnany firms and organizations to use their platforms and budgets to really combat unintended pregnancy by advocating for easier and wider access to contraceptives, comprehensive sex education, and teenage parent support not disrespectful, biased, fear driven campaigns.

 

It’s time to stop ignoring the fact that social problems such as poverty, educational disparities and a lack of access to sexual health services and information  play a huge role in unintended teenage pregnancy and the high rates of STI/STD infections in youth.

 

Learn more about this campaign and how you can support young parents   http://strongfamiliesmovement.org/young-parents

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On Monday, June 10, the Justice Department announced it would no longer pursue attempts to block over-the-counter availability for Plan B One-Step and generic one-pill emergency contraceptives.

The Justice Department invited Teva, the maker of Plan B, to submit an application for over-the-counter status, and said it would approve the application “promptly” (though we do not know when the product will actually move to pharmacy shelves).

This is a great step forward for helping young women prevent teen pregnancy.  Once emergency contraception has been cleared for over-the-counter status, young women of all ages who have experienced contraceptive failure, or been sexually assaulted, can simply buy it from drugstore shelves – without the age and ID restrictions that disproportionately affect young people of color, those who are undocumented, and those of lower socioeconomic status.

Research has shown that young women can use Plan B safely. Advocates for Youth welcomes the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case and take politics out of decisions about health and safety.

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Infographic-740-BanningAbortion

Reposted from Feminists-At-Large and the Voice

I used to consider myself “transiently pro-choice,” mainly because I didn’t know enough about the issue to restrict anyone’s rights, but I certainly wasn’t comfortable with abortion.

Then things started to change as I came to college and, through my studies, came to some startling realizations about women’s health.

I felt that way before I developed a greater understanding of healthcare in America, particularly the fact that millions are uninsured and underinsured. Not only that, but also that it is easier in this country to get insurance for Viagra than for birth control.

It was before I understood sex and how much easier it is to be sexually irresponsible than responsible. It is not easy to take one pill at the same time every day, especially when your insurance plan does not cover contraceptives. I was “transiently pro-choice” before I had ever taken Plan B, placed that second pill on my tongue and realized that to some I was now a “murderer.”

Most importantly, it was before I understood the meaning of choice. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” If Dumbledore said it, then it must be true. However, there are no identical choices, and not everyone has the same opportunities or resources, not everyone has bootstraps or even boots with which to pull themselves up.

But most of all, it was before I delved into the field of Global Health.

Internationally, 222 million women have an unmet need for family planning. For those who pretend that statistics about women’s issues are in some way fabricated or exaggerated, women with an “unmet need” are those who are sexually active, and are not using any method of contraception, but either do not want to become pregnant or want to delay their next pregnancy.

Over 40 million women have abortions annually. 40 million. And nearly half of them are unsafe. 47,000 women die from complications due to unsafe abortion every year. 47,000. Not to mention the 8.5 million others who suffer serious medical complications from unsafe abortions. 13 percent of maternal deaths are attributable to unsafe abortions. Women drink turpentine or bleach, insert haphazard herbal mixtures into their vaginas, penetrate themselves with hangers or chicken bones, and jump from roofs or fling themselves down stairs because they don’t have access to abortion services.

This is what is known as a preventable cause of death. This is on us. We can’t ascribe these deaths to the long Latin names of communicable diseases. These women do not die of natural causes. These women die because of us, namely bad governance and worse laws. These women die because lawmakers ignore science and statistics, and they ignore history. Policymakers are more concerned with the life of a fetus than the life of its mother.

These policies cannot be categorized as “third world problems.” Less than two weeks after Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) claimed that in abortion “there is no such exception as life of the mother [...] with advances in science and technology,” Savita Halappanavar became a martyr to the cause, dying because despite pregnancy complications and her inevitable miscarriage, she was denied an abortion in a Dublin hospital.

Criminalizing abortion is not a tradeoff. Save some fetuses, lose some women; there are no winners. Rather than decreasing abortion rates, it merely decreases the proportion that are performed in a safe, sanitary manner. Western European countries, home to some of the most liberal abortion laws, have the lowest abortion rates globally, with an estimated 12 per 1,000 women of childbearing age annually. Whereas regions with highly restrictive abortion laws have rates two to three times that, at 29 per 1,000 and 32 per 1,000 in Africa and Latin America, respectively.

How one can call oneself “pro-life” while striving to criminalize abortion is one of the greatest health paradoxes known to humankind. If pro-lifers want to save lives they should take a leaf out of South Africa’s book. The country has the lowest abortion rates in the continent due to the liberalization of its laws in 1997, which led to a decrease in abortion-related deaths by 91 percent in the first five years.

Another way to save lives is to financially support mothers and women of childbearing age, which decreases abortion rates even in developed countries.

However, the most direct way to prevent abortion-related deaths, both those of the mothers and those of the fetuses, is to make modern contraceptive methods affordable and accessible. Approximately 80 percent of unintended pregnancies in developing countries can be attributed to unmet need for contraceptives. Even here, we have much to gain from improving access to contraceptives. A recent study performed in St. Louis, surveying over 9,000 women, showed that providing a variety of free contraceptives decreased teen pregnancy rates from 34 to 6.3 per 1,000 women, and abortion rates dropped from between 13.4-17 to between 4.4-7.5 per 1,000 women.

Contraceptives, not restrictive abortion laws, save lives.

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When being sexually active you may run into a couple of problems such as the condom breaks. If this happens, don’t panic and take responsibility. There are many options that are available to help prevent from pregnancy in the very instance, and precautions to use for the future to prevent to preit fromhappening again. One option for future condom breaks can be to double up by using a hormonal contraceptive AND a barrier method such as female condom oryour partner wearing a condom, this term is better known as “double dutch” or “Double C’s”. You may also go to the store within the first 72 hours topurchase and use EC (emergency contraception) also known as the Plan B or Next Choice pills. These brand of emergencycontraceptive pills are available in local stores such as Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens. So the next time you or someone you know find themselves in a “tizzy” don’t Panic and take charge!!!!

To read more about EC visit www.morningafterinfo.org or text SEXT to 74574.

 

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Colorado Youth Testify in Support of HB 1081

I strictly assumed that by this time period humans would not be arguing over equality, inclusion, and sexual health. Apparently, some Americans don’t want their children learning about “the gays”, “the lesbians”, “the immigrants” or “cultures.”  Some are even outraged because “white heterosexuals” are “no longer represented.” These are authentic words spoken from citizens present in the committee for HB 1081 or “The Sex Ed Bill”, on Thursday February 7th. I went into committee humming “I’m just a Bill” to ease the nerves, because I had no idea what to expect for my first committee hearing.  I was not prepared to speak, but after listening to the opposition’s arguments that were no more than racist and discriminative, I wanted my voice heard. I was “the gay” that they rejected, and the “immigrant” that disgusted them, and the “culture” that they were opposed too.

My turn came to speak. Hesitant I got up from my chair, stepped slow and cautious to the stand while I felt judgment from the many eyes in the room. I thought repeatedly in my head what I wanted to say, but as soon as my mouth said the first word, everything seemed to vanish from my brain. What was a high school student to say? Hell, why was he even here? I sat down. My voice shook as I said my name, but I remembered the woman who didn’t want “the gays” and the “immigrants” in her white heterosexual culture and said “I am here representing the Latino community who cannot be here today because they do not speak English, or have the resources to be here.” Yes, I said Latino with an accent because in that very moment, I had never been more proud to be a person of color. I then stated “I would like to begin by saying that I identify as gay.” Never had a said “I identify as gay” openly, in public. I knew however that this was the time to truly express myself as an advocate.

I testified for HB 1081 in a way I never thought I would. I not only came out to the 12 legislators in the room, but I came out to the priest in the back who probably damned me to hell ten times over, the woman who drove from Colorado Springs to attack communities I am a part of, and the many allies in that room which gave me the boost of confidence I much needed. I didn’t have a clear understanding of why I do the work I do. I knew I had a passion for the education of individuals, the equality of humans, and empowerment of the mind, but it took that one woman saying “the gays” and “the immigrants” to accurately put this into perspective.  Not only was I advocating for Comprehensive Sexual Health Education, but I was making a stand for everything that is included in Comp Sex Ed; The inclusion of culture, ability, gender, age, sexual orientation, size, and ethnicity. Comprehensive Sexual Health addresses the respect for others and respect for yourself, which is why I was able to testify, and confront the opposition: Learning about my body, my actions and reactions, and my rights as a young person has allowed me to gain self assurance and confidence.  The experience of testifying for committee was electrifying, intimidating, but mostly rewarding and reflective, and I can only hope that I was remembered among the citizens who don’t want the “the gays”, “the lesbians”, or “the immigrants” in their culture, these pitiful underprivileged people: Where are they represented?

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The Ministry of Educations says “No to condom in Schools.” I beg to differ. Yes to Condoms in Schools…..

By now we must all be aware of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) and National HIV/STI merger to form the national authority for sexual and reproductive health. While it is a good move to have the merger, we are now faced with the question, will these two entities — now made one — make more success in its endeavour, and what about the rights component associated with sexual reproductive health?

One of the issues that this authority needs to examine is the debate on whether condoms should be distributed in schools or not. In order to tackle this correctly, the first step that must be taken is for us to scrutinise the readiness of individuals at this age to be engaging in sexual encounters.

There needs to be greater transparency in the age at which one can start engaging in sex and the age at which one can access sexual reproductive services. At present, it is 16 years old and 18 years old respectively. This is contradictory, but the sad reality is, it is our law, so we have to abide by it or else we know the result will be jail time or be fined large sums of money when brought before the courts. There have been several consultations over the years with the relevant authorities involved; however, we are yet to see any real change with regards to having consistency in light of this discrepancy.

Let us examine the pros and cons of distributing contraceptives in schools moreso condoms. Many argue that if this is done we are sending a strong message to children that they should be engaging in sexual activities at their young age, even though they are not emotionally ready for this act. How many of the children in schools are married? Well, we have to take into consideration the moral standing of most of the country being Christians, and we all know that it is a sinful act to be engaging in sex before marriage.

When last did you stop to check the statistics as it relates to teenage pregnancy? The last time I did, it still showed Jamaica having one of the highest in the region. What about that for HIV and other STIs? The 14-24 age groups have the highest rates in the total population. This should not be the case, but it is a reality that these unwanted diseases and pregnancies are occurring among our young people. How else can we deal with this in our society but to distribute condoms to students to rid the society of these unwanted actions? This should always be a last resort, but if the family was playing its role and educating children from within the home from an early age about sex, then the school wouldn’t have to be faced with this burden.

At the end of the day, we should also be advocating for comprehensive sex education in schools. Not only should we teach about abstinence — which is the greatest prevention strategy — but for those who are involved already there needs to be intervention strategy, and this can come in the form of condom distribution to protect these students against unwanted pregnancies and diseases. There should also be a supportive component which can come through counselling and effective referral services where needed. Students have the ability to make informed decisions and should be trusted in taking on this role at times.

Jason Madden

IYSO Council Member

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TODAY, the North Carolina House of Representatives will be debating a bill (HB 693) that would require teenagers notarized parental consent form in order to access STD testing and treatment, mental health counseling, pregnancy prevention or care, or substance abuse treatment. Teenagers without a parent or guardian would be required to stand before a judge and request a judicial bypass in order to obtain those health services.

Let’s do a quick before and after:

RIGHT NOW, a young person in North Carolina can see a doctor for STD testing and treatment, mental health counseling, pregnancy prevention and care, or substance abuse treatment WITHOUT parental consent.

IF THIS LAW PASSES: A young person would need NOTARIZED parental permission to see a doctor for any and all of these services (including abortion).*

Obvious problematic scenarios arise: For example, a young woman who may be sexually active may decide to forgo birth control because she is not willing to speak with their parents. There’s also the question of how often signatures are required? Is it every time you get a pap test or every time you pick up monthly contraception or antidepressant prescriptions? Does this include OTC contraception? Would young people need notarized parental permission to buy condoms?

The bill is so vague that it offers more questions than answers and the answers we do have are problematic and dangerous for young people’s health and safety.

If this law passes, North Carolina would be the ONLY state in the U.S. to amend that parental consent requirements include STD testing and treatment and mental health counseling.

It’s also worth noting that even though every state has some type of parental consent law in some form or fashion, NO state has ever required notarization. That extra step will undoubtedly make it harder for young people in North Carolina to access the services they need to lead healthy lives.

The bill is going to the House today. I hope the House leadership feels embarrassed about how far this bill goes and does the right thing for young people in their state. Crossing my fingers that House leadership doesn’t allow this crazy to go any further!

If you live in North Carolina, I recommend contacting Republican members of the House to let them know why you’re concerned about this bill. They need to hear your perspective as a young person, parent, or professional to know about how truly outrageous this effort is for our young people’s safety and health.

*However, Title X clinics, meaning any clinic which receives federal funding under Title X and including all Planned Parenthood clinics, must still by law offer confidential STI testing and treatment, and contraception, regardless of any state law.  

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This past March I became a Public Affairs Fellow with Planned Parenthood here in Columbia. In April, we launched our Prevention First Campaign. The campaign consists of various tabling events throughout the summer and canvassing in the Columbia area. The goal of the campaign is to urge our lawmakers to put prevention first by promoting more comprehensive sex ed for youth. Canvassers are still needed for the project, if interested please email latwyla.mathias@pphs.org. Each canvasser will receive a stipend for each completed canvassing shift. For additional information on this project, please visit the website at http://www.ppaction.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=22046.0

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There are so many rumors and theories about Plan B and other emergency contraception that it can become very difficult to differentiate fact from fiction, and unfortunately, many people believe the falsified rumors over what EC actually does. Emergency contraception is NOT an abortion pill and it will NOT terminate a pregnancy if you are already pregnant. Emergency contraception just prevents you from becoming pregnant just like any other birth control. In fact, EC is just a higher dosage of the pill you take every day.

 

That is why this new decision to finally remove the arbitrary and harmful age restriction on emergency contraception is so vital. Sometimes it can seem easier to believe that youth under a certain age are not having sex and, therefore, are not in need of condoms or birth control, but we cannot ignore the facts. The fact that the US has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world, for instance. Other nations view sexual and reproductive health including for youth to be a matter of public health and public policy. It becomes the entire nation’s duty and cause to look out for their youth in all areas of their life- including the ones we don’t want to talk about. The US is slowly on its way to realizing this truth and hopefully it will bring many more changes like this one along with it. For more information on emergency contraception, you can visit our website at www.morningafterinfo.org or text SEXT to 74574.

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Last week, governments from around the world met at the United Nations for the 46th Commission on Population and Development (CPD).  Throughout the week-long deliberations, governments, UN agencies, demographers, and NGOs debated the topic of migration and its relationship to the 1994 ICPD Programme of Action—a groundbreaking declaration which signaled a major shift in population policy from one based on population control to one based on human rights, including sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

What’s migration got to do with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), you ask?  Well, just about everything.

Today, more women are migrating than ever before, representing nearly half of the total international migrant population, and in some countries, as much as 70 to 80 percent.  And young migrants under the age of 29 make up half of all global migrants. During the process of migration, women and girls tend to be more vulnerable to human rights violations, particularly SRHR violations, including violence, exploitation, and sexual coercion.  Moreover, migrant women and young people are also at increased risk of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections due to inadequate access to health services, including SRH services.  As a result, ensuring access to SRHR information and services and protection of women’s and young people’s rights was our number one goal at the CPD.

So, how’d we do?  Well, this year’s CPD proved interesting, to say the least.  Traditionally progressive countries that fight every year to advance SRHR found themselves in a bit of a pickle given their countries’ rather regressive migration policies.  Against the backdrop of comprehensive immigration reform playing out on Capitol Hill, the US delegation—typically a stalwart champion of young people’s SRHR and LGBT rights—sought to include language restricting access to non-emergency services to only those migrants who are documented or in legal status. The same was true for other Global North countries like the UK, Canada, Denmark, and the EU. At the same time, conservative countries with strong religious views (think Nigeria, Egypt, Qatar, Honduras, Malta, and Poland) joined forces with the Holy See (aka, the Vatican) to denounce any inclusion of SRHR or sexual orientation and gender identity.  Discussions grew more and more tense by the day, resulting in an eventual breakdown of the negotiations and a final “take it or leave it” declaration drafted by the chair of the commission.

From a youth SRHR perspective, the declaration is just so-so.  Here’s my take on it.

The Good:

  • Recognizes that human rights are universal and must be promoted and protected regardless of migration status
  • Mentions SRH/SRHR five times, with specific attention paid to the prevention of and response to sexual violence, including the provision of emergency contraception and safe abortion services where permitted by law
  • Calls for gender sensitive migration policies and actions that empower women and prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, coercion, discrimination, trafficking, and exploitation and abuse of women and girls, including protections for women migrant domestic workers
  • Urges special attention (albeit only in a preambular paragraph) to young people’s vulnerability to HIV due to social and economic inequities, stigma, discrimination, gender-based and sexual violence, gender inequality, and lack of access to information on HIV prevention as well as access to sexual and reproductive health services
  • Encourages governments to eliminate any remaining HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay, and residence

The Bad:

  • Includes language in two places which restricts access to services based on migration or legal status, as well as an entire paragraph reaffirming the sovereign right of each country to implement recommendations in accordance with national laws, “with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people”—in essence rendering everything in the resolution optional if countries disagree with its tenets
  • Neglects young people, who are only mentioned twice, both of which are in the preambular paragraphs which carry less significance than the operational paragraphs; adolescents do get a minor mention in OP30 which calls for services to be provided to women and adolescents that are sensitive to their needs, with particular attention to sexual violence survivors

And the Ugly:

  • Rejected language suggestions from several countries that would recognize the rights of young people, including access to SRH services and information, including comprehensive sexuality education
  • Eliminated the only operational paragraph solely addressing the specific rights, needs, and vulnerabilities of young migrants
  • Refused to include a single mention of sexual orientation and gender identity, despite three attempts to do so

After a groundbreaking resolution on adolescents and young people at last year’s CPD, we’ve certainly got our work cut out for us to ensure young people’s rights are front and center in the 20-year review of the ICPD in 2014 and in the post-2015 development agenda. We simply cannot afford to go backwards; we need forward progress if we are ever to see the full implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

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Being able to attend the 46th Untied Nation Commission on Population and Development during the 22nd and 26th of April was definitely a great experience for me. While entering the UN not as a tourist excited me since my dream since childhood is to be able to work for the UN, attending the sessions enabled me to have a deeper understanding of the political debate of sexual and reproductive health and rights at an international level.

This year’s CPD focused on “demographic changes and new trends in migration”. Although the meeting started somewhat like a statistical presentation, the debate over the resolution quickly started around numbers of red-lights issues.

The first, without any doubt, was around the sexual and reproductive health and rights. Although I definitely understood the cultural differences among countries and their reasons for arguing against SRHR, at some point, the debate became too frustrated for me to continue engaging since the oppositions started to become irrational. The misunderstanding of SRHR was huge. The major argument of oppositions was SRHR=abortion without realizing all other great things that SRHR promoted—for example, maternal health, empowering women, and in fact, with proper use of contraception method, abortion, especial unsafe abortion, could be avoid. However, they argued one-sidely about abortion. But, as a matter of fact, they themselves also argued for better health of mothers as well as economic opportunity for migrants—which was ironic because to achieve all of these goals, promoting SRHR is necessary.

The second red-light issue that received a lot focuses was the argument of national sovereignty and migrants’ equal access to services. This debate was actually heart-breaking for me to observe. Apparently, while conservative countries remained in opposition, countries which had a tradition of supporting universal human rights turned against migrants’ rights majorly with the consideration of national sovereignty and the fear of undocumented migrants’ usage of social welfare. As a politician put in his words—“I don’t care the human rights of migrants, because they are in my country, they need to play by my rules.”

Rules, or as a delegation stated during the plenary—“legal status and regulation”, separated migrants’ rights from universal human rights and turned the discussion during the 46th UN CPD into a debated of “us” and “them”. While migrants should be considered as natural human beings, their manmade titles such as “undocumented” make them subject to structural violence—defined by Johan Galtung as a form of violence where some social structure or social institution purportedly harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs—created by legal systems which are intended to protect universal human rights but become institutions only for “us”, not “them”.

Consequentially, this legal barrier makes migrants, especially those undocumented migrants, more vulnerable to ill health. On the one hand, administrative hurdle and legal status, sometimes couple with other social risk factors such as poverty, stigma, and social exclusion, lead to the lack of social security and protection for migrants which cause the exacerbation of health conditions may due to migrants’ suffering of human trafficking, sexual violence, and exploitation, on the other hand, legal status also blocks migrants’ access to services. As a result, migrants face a health disparity that sometimes even cannot be voiced due to legal barriers. For example, migrant women frequently endure sexual coercion and abuse, without the ability to report these crimes to a local authority; young migrants are often afraid to access health services for fear of discrimination, detention or deportation because of their migratory status. In fact, I have a much deeper understanding of this fear. On the one hand, during my spring trip to Immokalee, Florida with the George Washington University Alternative Spring Break program, I heard lots of stories from undocumented migrant workers there about their inability to use healthcare services. One young lady said she had to turn to unsafe abortion method because she entered the country illegally and was afraid hospitals would report her to the government. On the other hand, as an international student with legal status, I still cannot fully utilize health services like an American citizen. As a result, I urge countries to ensure migrants’ equal access to basic health services regardless their legal status and their ability to pay. I also hope to call for international society’s recognition of migrants’ rights as human rights.

The last thing I learnt from CPD was the importance of NGOs. Imaging the one-week debate among politicians will determine people’s lives around the world made me somewhat cannot accept. Although I totally understood each nation’s position and the obligations for its own politicians to stand for the position, I also felt there lack a representation of the real people in the country. While the nation may argue from a religious point of view to against SRHR, it was the people who were suffering from this decision. As a result, NGOs are very important because they are the channels of the real voices and demands of people. I am very proud of myself can be part of this channel for young people’s voice to be heard.

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« KO! KO! KO! », shouted the crowd .Mind you, they weren’t participating in a boxing match, neither were they at a musical concert, they shouted KO! in response to the health officials that took turns in sensitizing the crowd of more than 5000 that gathered at the Douala Place du Gouvernement to participate in the 9KM sensitization Walk that was organized by the Cameroon’s Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and better known by its French acronym CCATSIDA, Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health, and other stakeholders (local and international) in the fight against Malaria this Saturday 20th April 2013.

Being a participant, I could not help but be marveled at how engaged fellow participants were as we criss-crossed the streets of Cameroon’s most populated town. Young and old, and from diverse horizons, one thing united this people; that Malaria be kicked Out of Cameroon.

This passion and demonstrated in the endurance of the participants all through the alertness of their  footsteps and the smile on their faces, could not however stop me from asking myself fundamental questions around the strategy for the fight against Malaria in my country. Thus, when  one of the thousands of spectators that had  amassed  at  streets corners shouted, “Where are condoms?”, there was  an outburst of laughter from the crowd, I began asking myself  what might have prompted this spectator to ask the question he did. As I thought about this, my eyes fell on the logo of the Cameroonian Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and on the T-Shirt of the participant ahead of me, my answer was here. The words AIDS on this coalitions logo prompted the question from this spectator.

AIDS and its prevention methods are better known in Cameroon than Malaria and its means of protection.  This is paradoxical given that Malaria kills in Cameroon and Sub-Saharan Africa than HIV/AIDS. Mind you, I am in no way saying that resources (human and material) should be shifted from the fight against HIV/AIDS, which is causing havoc in Cameroon especially amongst youths, to the fight against Malaria. The point I am trying to make is that the fight against Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis has for long been done as though they were isolated.

It is true that a person that has Malaria  or Tuberculosis is not automatically an HIV/AIDS patient, but  most often people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Cameroon are  victims of the  Malaria and tuberculosis given the milieu in which they live and  the little means they have to survive on.

I have for long being convinced that an effective fight against Malaria cannot be done in an isolated manner but must be inclusive; taking into consideration the vectors of the disease in various communities in Cameroon. A dirty environment provides good breeding grounds for Mosquitoes especially the female Anopheles mosquito, through which Malaria is spread, the fight against Malaria must start from there. If a clean environment is achieved through mechanism through efficient urban development and poverty reduction strategies, Malaria will be made history. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that prevention is better than Cure?

In Cameroon and I guess is the case elsewhere in the world, a change from a dirty and crowded environment to a cleaner environment is the main indicator that a person has emerged from poverty. This is so because people who could barely afford 3 meals a day will have little time to think about the environments in which they live talk less of women in this bracket going for prenatal consultation or even having time to take their infants to the hospital when they are sick. Thus, despite the bed-nets distribution campaigns that  have been organized all over Cameroon and despite the fact that  Malaria treatment is free for  children and pregnant women  in Cameroon, Malaria killed more than 3000 people most of whom children.

Without an efficient attack on poverty, which is fertile ground for poor living conditions, I am afraid our walk and much talk on the fight against Malaria will be in vain. For Malaria to be kicked out of this country, we must not only walk on occasions like those organized  to mark the World day for the fight against Malaria, we must truly walk the talk on the fight against Malaria daily, by  launching an immediate assault and poverty. Because Malaria is the consequence of a dirty environment which is its self a glaring consequence of poverty.

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Social justice and environmental justice have a very direct
correlation. The environmental movement and the feminist movement both
advocate for the health of humanity, but in different ways. There are
many subject matters that exemplify this intersectionality.
For example, the way people use and abuse nature can easily be
compared to how society uses and abuses women.
Toxic Chemicals. We clearly need to do something about how easy it is
for major companies to slowly pollute our bodies and our earth. There
are over 84,000 chemicals in popular consumer products and only 200
have been tested. When chemicals even are tested it is primarily on
men, so these companies clearly do not care about the effect they are
having on women’s bodies. Some of these chemicals are made from toxins
that pollute our water and air. Many of these chemicals have been
shown to cause infertility, low sperm counts, sexual dysfunction,
miscarriage, and different types of cancer.  Not to mention women use
personal care products far more often than men and are therefore more
negatively affected. Here at ETSU we’re celebrating Earth Day with a
festival and a young man best summarized it when he said “unnatural
chemicals don’t make natural beauty.”
Not everyone can afford ridiculously expensive so-called “natural
organic” personal care products to keep themselves and their children
healthy. In addition, toxic waste dumps are disproportionately located
near minority communities. Women of color are targeted by systematic
racist beauty standards convincing them to buy hair relaxers and skin
lightening creams with chemicals that have severe damage potential.
For example, the chemicals found in common African-American hair
products are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs are
linked to a range of reproductive health issues, like premature
puberty, gynecologic cancer, and birth defects. Look at who is hurting
the most by toxic chemicals. This is clearly a social justice issue
activists need to rise up against.
Quick Fact: 80% of federal transportation funds go to highways while
only 20% goes to mass transit. Not only does this hurt inner city
communities, but it’s a contributing factor to global warming.
Reproductive Justice. You know what’s really hurting our resources?
Overpopulation. People are using up far more than they need to and it
is growing out of control. If reproductive health options were more
readily available this would alleviate a great deal of that
environmental strain.
Here is a quick review on what the Toxic Substances Control Act is and
why we need it to be updated. This site also helps teach you on how
you can help.http://www.saferchemicals.org/resources/opinion.html
Find out what is in your cosmetics:
http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?list=type&type=33
Wake up to the threat of toxic chemicals!
www.rhtp.org/fertility/ToxicZombie.asp (Many resources used in the
writing of this blog were obtained from this site.)
“Toxic Combination: Fact Sheet on Toxic Chemicals and Reproductive
Health”—Center for American Progress:
http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2010/04/pdf/toxic_combination.pdf
“Women of Color are at Greater Risk for Toxic Chemical
Exposure”—Women’s Voices for the Earth:
http://www.womensvoices.org/about/why-a-womens-organization/

 

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text GetHipDC to 74574

text GetHipDC to 74574The GetHip DC line is a resource for you to find information about sexual health. It’s free and available 24/7.
You can get info about STDs and birth control, as well as where to go locally for help. Just text GetHipDC to 74574

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Today while at work i saw several women who were with-child and a thought popped in my head, “why are these women getting pregnant and the economy is so unstable?” this came to mind because these women were not in the best of jobs, they were the lunch lady and several janitorial staff members i began to think to myself “how will they provide for their new child? how are they going to manage? i make good money and i can barely manage!” it may seem weird but its a genuine thought which led me to google and i searched for some statistics in jamaica for womens access to contraceptives and how pregnancy intertwines with poverty.

The information below was taken from the Jamaica National Family Planning Board;

 

Jamaica, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, adolescent pregnancy presents a serious social and health problem ( McNeil, 1983 ). Before the age of 20, 40 % of Jamaican women have been pregnant at least once, and 85 % of these pregnancies are unplanned. Sexual activity begins at an early age for many Jamaicans, in the early teens and even pre-teen years. Among 15 year olds, the youngest age group surveyed in the 1993 Contraceptive Prevalence Survey, 35 % of females and 43 % of males reported having had sexual intercourse. The younger adolescents begin sexual activity, the less likely they are to use contraception, thus increasing their risk of pregnancy (Morris et al, 1995).

Early childbearing often ends a young woman’s education, limiting her future job prospects, and thus her own and her child’s economic well-being. Among Jamaican women ages 15 – 24 who have ever been pregnant, almost 1/ 3 became pregnant while in school, and almost 60 % of these pregnancies occurred before the fourth year of secondary school. Among adolescent females who became pregnant before the fourth year of school, only 14 % of those returned to school after the birth of their child. Among adolescents who became pregnant while in primary school, 20 % returned to school ( Morris et al, 1995 ).

Adolescent sexual activity and pregnancy in Jamaica have been associated with such factors as poverty, absence of male role models in the home, and a social context of conservative sexual ideals coexisting with tacit approval of early childbearing. Jamaica’s education system may also contribute to early sexual activity and unintended pregnancy. Children who do not gain admittance to a traditional, college preparatory high school after elementary school are viewed as failures by parents, teachers, and society. Smith (1993 ) found that students who attended “all-age” and “new secondary” schools are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, a trait that may be related to early sexual activity and pregnancy. In general, the type of school attended is associated with social class, with children from the lower socioeconomic strata more likely to attend the all-age and new secondary schools that generally do not prepare their students for university education.

Table 1

% of Young Adult Women Aged 15 – 24 Who Before The Age of Menarche Received Information From Parents / Guardians on Menstruation And How Pregnancy Occurs

And Who Before Initiating Sexual Relations Received Information On How Pregnancy Occurs By Selected Characteristics

Before Menarche Had info. on menstruation (%) Before Menarche Had info. on pregnancy (%) Before 1st sex Had info. on pregnancy (%)
Total 65.3 64.5 62.8
Characteristic
Age Group
15-17 69.7 70.0 64.3
18-19 68.7 66.3 64.0
20-22 61.5 61.8 62.7
22-24 59.9 56.8 58.5
Educational Attainment
0-9 years 55.5 56.4 54.8
10-12 years 67.1 66.7 65.0
13 or more years 75.3 69.4 67.5
Socioeconomic Status
Low 56.1 57.3 55.1
Medium 63.6 62.5 59.9
High 72.7 70.9 70.2

1997 Reproductive Health Survey ( RHS )


Slightly more than 1/3 of women reported receiving no information from their parents or guardians on menstruation before their first menstrual period; corresponding % were similar for pregnancy information before menarche and before first sex. Also, as might be expected, parents were more likely to give this information to their children if they are in a higher education or socioeconomic category.

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Today is National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. This  disease has been robbing our generation of precious young people for many years and now is the time to take a stand and fight for our generation back. I am happy to support this day and I have hopes that it will evolve into a mass movement amongst the young people of this generation. Knowledge is power! By raising awareness and promoting prevention young people will have the power to fight HIV and AIDS.