Category > Emergency Contraception
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Dec 4, 2013
via RH Reality Check
Oct 31, 2013
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Oct 2, 2013
As of August 1, Plan B has been available at drug stores for women and girls capable of childbearing. Despite the increased access to emergency contraceptives in the US, the fight to secure basic medication for reproductive health continues in some communities, such as in the US indigenous communities.
Nearly 1.8 million indigenous women can access free emergency contraceptive at 161 Indian Health Services clinics in 35 states. Although a campaign highlighting these services has been launched, many women still do not even know they exist. Others who know about the clinics and their services cannot easily access the clinics.
Bitsinnie, a Diné woman, explains that language has barred many from understanding the new regulations. She explains, “We don’t use the phrase ‘emergency contraception’ in our communities. We call it ‘Plan B’ or ‘the morning-after pill”. References to “EC” thus cause much confusion. Social media campaigns aim at making this knowledge more accessible.
Spreading information to some indigenous communities will be difficult though. Many communities are rural and low-income, with little access to common communication tools such as cell phones, social media, cable, and newspapers.
Another prominent challenge is the fear women who experience sexual assault face. Estimates predict that one in three indigenous women will be raped in their lifetime, compared to one in five women in the US overall. Victim blaming and fear of retaliation often stop women from seeking out health care post-assault.
Sep 25, 2013
With the rapid changes regarding EC restrictions over the past several months, advocates and health professionals have had to distinguish further what it means for EC to be OTC (“over-the-counter”). In previous years, most people would just use the term OTC (“over-the-counter”) to refer to the point that EC was available behind the pharmacy counter for those meeting the required age restrictions to have access to EC, without a prescription. But just what does the term OTC mean now since the FDA has approved the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be made available OTC for everyone of any age?
Well, I’m glad you should ask… OTC, as this point in time for EC, essentially means that as long as the local pharmacy (not necessarily the pharmacy counter) is opened, the Plan B One-Step EC pill option will be available “on the shelves” for anyone to purchase regardless of age. Most specifically and for example, this brand of EC is offered directly on the shelves in the feminine hygiene aisle by your favorite ribbed, flavored and tribal print condoms! The generic versions of the EC, such as Next Choice and My Way, are only available “behind the counter”, meaning that a pharmacy personnel will be the one to provide you with these options directly at the pharmacy counter upon request and providing that you meet the age requirement of being 17 years and older. As of the present time, if the pharmacy counter is closed, those not offered OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”), such as the Next Choice and My Way options, will not be accessible; this is a major difference between Plan B One-Step and the generic options. One should additionally note that the EC Pill Ella, is till only available with a prescription for those 17 years and older.
So what the exclusivity for just the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be sold OTC, well a wonderful document on the History of EC created by the Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council puts it best in the “the FDA formally approved the application for Plan B One-Step from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and these other forms of EC will have to be submitted to the FDA for approval. Actavis Inc. markets a generic version of Plan B One-Step called Next Choice. Actavis will apply to the FDA for approval to sell Next Choice without restrictions, as will Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the manufacturer of Ella.” So short and sweet, according to the FDA, Teva Pharmaceuticals has been the only pharmaceutical company to submit their application to the FDA which provides sufficient research to prove that their EC product is safe and effective for young women of any age to use, and thus making that argument that it should be made available without age restrictions.
While the latest piece of legislation to allow the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be made available OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”) is fairly new as of June 20th, 2013, we are glad to see that many pharmacies are already carrying it on the shelves. Although there is much room to cheer, unfortunately, in most pharmacies the Plan B One-Step is being sold in locked boxes for security and loss prevention purposes; however, this does not change the fact that the Plan B One-Step EC pill is still referred to as OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”). So let’s put this potential barrier (to some) in a favorable context, it is not unlike buying your favorite pair of pants at a trendy store, and having to have the security tag removed before leaving the store. We can even take this idea a step further and attempt to look on the bright side. Wouldn’t you much prefer to have the EC pill in its own individual lock box, as opposed to having it in a security lock rack of which you may have to call a staff person over “for assistance” to open the rack or either having to hear that annoying and blatantly obvious loud noise that some lock box racks make when trying to get your most durable razors, for example? In comparison, having to wait the extra 5 seconds to have the EC box removed from it’s individuals lock box at the general pharmacy check out counter, pales in comparison.
Let’s face it, while lock boxes may seem like another barrier to obtaining the Plan B One-Step EC pill, it is a great step forward to having EC readily available on the shelves (OTC) during pharmacy store (not necessarily the pharmacy counter) hours to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind! J #SCECOTC #reduceunplannedpregnancies.
For additional information on the legislation which approved Plan B One-Step for OTC sales without age restrictions, and for FAQs on which particular EC options are available OTC versus at the pharmacy counter, please visit the Not-2-Late and the official Plan B One-Step websites.
Sep 4, 2013
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.
Sep 3, 2013
Majority of our world’s youth are indulging in sexual activities. Thus, the ugly truth is that, preaching the power of abstinence is rarely having the desired effect. Many hear the message, but many also disregard it. Frankly, there is not much that can be done. the only method left is to try and at least show these youths the safer road to take, wen dealing with intercourse.
Below are methods and ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Posted on a site called, womenonweb.com : whom is an online abortion agency.
About 85% of sexually active women who do not use contraceptives become pregnant within a year. A woman can become pregnant while breastfeeding, from about 10 days after childbirth, and even during her menstruation. Withdrawal of the penis prior to ejaculation and periodic abstinence does not prevent pregnancy or spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Here you can read more about several forms of contraceptives.
You can prevent an unwanted pregnancy with:
- Total Abstinence
- Use of contraceptives
If you are sexually active and do not want to get pregnant, always use contraception.
Methods of Contraception:
No method of contraception gives 100% protection.
The male latex condom is the only contraceptive method considered highly effective in reducing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). Birth control pills, Implant and IUDs do not protect against STD infection.
For the Woman
- DIAPHRAGM is a rubber disk with a flexible rim that covers the cervix and must be used together with spermicide. It is available by prescription only and must be fitted for size by a health professional. The diaphragm protects for six hours and should be left in place for at least six hours after intercourse but not for longer than a total of 24 hours.
- ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES protect against pregnancy by the combined actions of the hormones estrogens and progestin. The hormones prevent ovulation. The pills have to be taken every day as directed and do not work after vomiting or diarrhoea. Side effects of the pill can be nausea, headache, breast tenderness, weight gain, irregular bleeding, and depression.
- DEPO-PROVERA is a hormonal contraceptive injected into a muscle on the arm or buttock every three months. The injection must be repeated every 3 months. The menstruation can become irregular and sometimes even absent.
- IMPLANTS (such as Norplant or implanon) are made up of small rubber rods, which are surgically implanted under the skin of the upper arm, where they release the contraceptive steroid levonorgestrel. Their protection lasts from 3 to 5 years. Side effects include menstrual cycle changes, weight gain, breast tenderness and loss of bone mass.
- IUD is a T-shaped device inserted into the uterus by a health-care professional. The IUD can remain in place for 5- 10 years. IUD’s have one of the lowest failure rates of contraceptive method. Sometimes the IUD can be expelled and a woman has to check each month after her period with her finger if she can still feel the threads of the IUD. Other side effects can include abnormal bleeding and cramps, but this usually only occurs during and immediately after insertion.
- FEMALE STERILIZATION is done surgically. The tubes are ligated, preventing the egg-cells from encountering the sperm cells and preventing any future pregnancies. It is a permanent form of contraception.
- EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. A woman must take 1 Norlevo and a second pill 12 to 24 hours later. Beside Norlevo, most combination (estrogens and progesterone) birth control pills can also be used. Take within 72 hours of unprotected sex. One dose 100 µg ethinylestradiol + 500 µg levonorgestrel (2-4 birth control pills), 12 hours later a second dose.
- MORNING-AFTER IUD must be inserted within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. The IUD can stay for 5 to 10 years.
For the Man
- CONDOMS are usually made from latex rubber and can be used only once. Some have spermicide added to kill sperm. They act as a mechanical barrier, preventing direct vaginal contact with semen, infectious genital discharges, and genital lesions. Condoms are the most effective method for reducing the risk of infection from the viruses that cause AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). It is important to put a condom on properly before intercourse
- MALE STERILIZATION also known as vasectomy, is a quick operation performed under local anaesthesia with possible minor postsurgical complications, such as bleeding or infection. The ability to get an erection and an ejaculation does not disappear. The sperm cells are just a very small part (1%) of the fluid and a man will not notice any difference in ejaculation. The body will absorb the sperm cells.
Rates of Effectiveness of Different Contraceptives:
|Male Latex Condom||86%|
|Diaphragm with Spermicide||80%|
|Oral Contraceptives||Over 95%|
|Injection (Depo-Provera)||Over 99%|
|Implant (Norplant, Implanon)||Over 99%|
|IUD (Intrauterine Device)||98-99%|
|Surgical Sterilisation||Over 99%|
In reference to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, these methods of contraception do not fight againt disease. Basically, you have to know and trust your partner.
Do not risk your life, for a night that may or may not have been so pleasurable.
#NoToDiseases . #WantedPregnanciePrevention .. #TheBigPicture.
Sep 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Aug 30, 2013
Jul 31, 2013
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.
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
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.
Jul 12, 2013
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.
Jul 8, 2013
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.
Jun 29, 2013
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.
Jun 21, 2013
“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.”
Jun 19, 2013
IT’S one of the latest advertised emergency contraceptive pills on the market, and is considered accessible and effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. But Qualcare, the sole distributors of Pregnon in Jamaica, is cautioning women to use it only in cases of emergency, and not as a substitute for a regular contraceptive method.
District manager at Qualcare Limited, Othneil Brown, said like most doctors he too has a problem with women abusing Pregnon, which should only be taken as an emergency contraceptive method.
“They (doctors) prefer if you use it only as recommended as an emergency method. [It should be used] when either your regular contraceptive method has failed — like a break in condoms perhaps — or when you have had probably a sexual assault, but not necessarily to use it as your main means of contraception,” he said.
“It is an emergency method and that is the way we recommend it,” he added.
Pregnon has been available in Jamaica for the past two years and is available in most pharmacies for about $800 per pack. There are no restrictions to purchasing it, but Brown stressed that it is not an abortifacient.
“If a woman suspects that she might be pregnant or if a woman is pregnant, we don’t recommend that the woman use it, because it is not abortifacient. It will not abort an ongoing pregnancy.”
The pill contains a high dosage of progesterone which prevents the release of the eggs from the ovaries while increasing the thickness of the mucus in the cervix. This thickness creates a barrier so the sperm cannot get from the vagina to the uterus.
For the pill to be effective it has to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Although the recommendation on the package insert suggests that a user should take one tablet up 72 hours after sex and then take the other one 12 hours after the first, Brown said it is okay to take both at the same time.
“The World Health Organisation has said that they will support patients taking those tablets together. It is much better, because the patient doesn’t necessarily stand the risk of forgetting to take the second one or taking it too late, so they can take both together if they wish,” he said.
The district manager said women have been very receptive to Pregnon, because it is safe and it prevents unwanted pregnancies
“Many people are on a regular contraceptive method, but on occasion it may fail or they might forget. They might just be in a situation where they can’t necessarily help themselves and they have intercourse and they don’t have any protection; for cases like those, definitely it is their only recourse,” he said.
But while the pill is effective, there are some side effects. Some women experience discomfort in their stomach, changes in their menstrual cycle and nausea after taking it.
May 31, 2013
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.
May 27, 2013
May 17, 2013
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.
IYSO Council Member
May 17, 2013
May 13, 2013
May 13, 2013
In early May, the Justice Department announced that it would appeal District Court Judge Edward Korman’s April decision on emergency contraception being available over the counter with no age restrictions. Judge Korman was not happy, calling the appeal, among other things, “nonsense,” “baloney,” and “a charade” – especially since his order had granted the FDA what they asked for in 2011. (See the word cloud above for some more of the Judge’s choice words!) Judge Korman followed up his comments on the case by denying the Obama Administration’s request that he delay his order making Plan B widely available. He again blasted the Administration, observing, “If a stay is granted, it will allow the bad-faith, politically motivated decision of Secretary Sebelius, who lacks any medical or scientific expertise, to prevail — thus justifiably undermining the public’s confidence in the drug approval process.”
Judge Korman gave the Justice Department through today to get the verdict suspended by an appeals court. If the Justice Dept. is not successful, then Judge Korman’s order must be followed immediately. We’ll be keeping an eye on this case and what it means for young women’s access to emergency contraception!
May 8, 2013
The age restriction has been lifted for emergency contraception! You no longer have to be 17 years old!
May 4, 2013
Yesterday I was in my 1st block class which is Government. My teacher had pulled up on his computer where President Obama was saying it was “OK” selling the morning- after pills to young females at the age of 15. Now see at that time I didn’t know that President Obama was Pro- Abortion. As I had started to think I was like “Why would he do that? It seems like to me that he is promoting young teen girls to have sexual intercourse with a partner at a young age.” But, then one of my classmates said “Well they already having sex” still I said “That’s not an excuse we need to try and prevent more teen pregnancies as much as possible.”
May 2, 2013
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.
- 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
- 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.
May 2, 2013
by Kate Stewart, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs
When I wrote about access to emergency contraception a year and a half ago, the Obama Administration had just overruled the FDA’s ruling that would have made Plan B available over the counter, without age restriction or ID requirements. With loaded remarks about “bubble gum and batteries,” the President had decided that Plan B had to remain locked up, accessible only to those who can prove they are 17 or older.
Since then the Administration’s decision-making has gone from bad to worse, continuing to allow politics to trump the health and well-being of young women. The events of this Spring and the moves by the Administration are truly mind-boggling.
First, in early April of this year, we all hailed a judge’s ruling that emergency contraception must be made available on store shelves within 30 days with no age or identification requirements. We thought – finally! – the decade long battle over emergency contraception has come to a close, and now young women and their partners will have access to back-up birth control without unnecessary and burdensome restrictions.
Not so fast. Earlier this week, the FDA, in a downgrade of its own 2011 ruling, announced that Plan B was approved for those with ID who could prove they were fifteen or older. Not so great.
Then last night, the Justice Department announced that it would appeal the judge’s April decision on emergency contraception being available over the counter with no age restrictions.
Never mind the absurdity of the picture the White House paints of a child buying a $50 pregnancy prevention medication from the drugstore, or that that same drugstore sells thousands of non-age-regulated chemicals and medicines which cost far less and pose far more danger to someone who uses them incorrectly. Never mind that science has shown that young people are capable of assessing when they need emergency contraception and using it appropriately (according to the FDA’s own 2011 ruling and to what its scientific staff have been recommending since 2004). And that the medical community supports making emergency contraception available with no age restriction.
The political machinations are dizzying. But forgotten are the real victims of this shell game: young women who need emergency contraception, for whom there is now one more barrier to preventing unintended pregnancy.
Many teens do not have picture ID of any kind. Some look very young into their late teens and twenties. And some, like undocumented immigrants,cannot get ID. Should these young people be barred from preventing pregnancies they did not intend and do not want?
When a young person has experienced contraceptive failure, or been sexually assaulted, the decisions they make in the next couple of days are crucial. When they decide that preventing pregnancy is a priority, they deserve support in that decision, not roadblocks created to protect politicians.
As I wrote in 2011, a part of me can understand that President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea that young teens may need emergency contraception. That worries me too. But, rather than deny them access to a fully safe medication that could help prevent unintended pregnancy, perhaps we should be doubling down on comprehensive sex education — and expanding access to contraception in the first place — so that fewer of our daughters ever need Plan B at all. But, for those young women who do, we still have a responsibility to make sure that any woman who needs emergency contraception has access to it when they need it.
Moms and Dads, Aunts and Uncles, we can help by keeping on hand emergency contraception in the family medicine cabinet (where a worried teen can access it without being carded). And we can help by continuing to raise our voices in protest at the now decade-long farce surrounding this safe, essential medication moves into the next phase. Once again I find myself disappointed, angry and scared about the direction we are going in this country when it comes to access to basic health care for women. But not hopeless. Because as I ate breakfast this morning with my daughters and thought of their friends and all the other young women who may one day be faced with an emergency it reminded me of who and what we are fighting for.
Apr 17, 2013
The 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
Apr 1, 2013
- Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
- Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
- Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?
Mar 26, 2013
I have seen this post circulate on Facebook and loved its message. I apologizing for not crediting it since I am not sure who put it together. There is absolutely no way to sugar coat the rape stories that are happening today and we should keep doing our great work loud and proud until we no longer hear about these savage crimes happening in our world. It is about time we teach our fellow humans NOT TO RAPE. Full Stop.
Mar 20, 2013
“To be clear, reproductive justice is not a label—it’s a mission. It describes our collective vision: a world where all people have the social, political, and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about gender, bodies, sexuality, reproduction, and families for themselves and their communities. And it provides an inclusive, intersectional framework for bringing that dream into being. Reproductive justice is visionary, it’s complex, it doesn’t fit neatly on a bumper sticker, and it has a lot to teach us about how to be successful in a changed and changing world.”
— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice
Mar 4, 2013
While browsing through my twitter page I came across an ad directed at teen mothers in NYC. While seeing this ad disgusted me; I was a little relieved that I had not seen it person in my city, Brooklyn. Not only is this ad extremely offensive (the Post calls it a “Tad” offensive), it has racist, classist and sexist undertones. The ad I saw featured a beautiful brown girl with big brown eyes and read “Honestly Mom… chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” It also quoted a statistic that 90% of teen parents do not marry each other. While this statistic can be shocking to most it also seems to continue to push the agenda of marriage and “nuclear” families among young people, something I wish this country would have let go of in the 1976 Reagan “Welfare Queen” era.
After further research, I discovered that this ad was part of a larger campaign created by the NYC Human Resources Administration. For an agency with the word “resources” in its name, it appears that they do not know how to use them very well. Especially considering the fact that the United States is preparing to undergo sequestration and they thought it wise to use government funding to disseminate disturbing, stigmatizing and shameful ads about teen mothers. Also considering the fact they are a “Human Resources” agency, I would think funds would be better allocated to real initiatives to help young mothers, such as creating real job opportunities for young moms and working with other agencies and organizations to provide childcare so that young women could support their families. It is resourceful to create life-size ads that basically say “Mom you suck for having me.”
While NYC has taken steps to improve the lives of young parents, like closing Pregnancy Schools after advocates insisted these institutions were in violation of Title IX, this initiative seems backwards. This is the same city responsible for the Living for the Young Family through Education program which provides free childcare around the city to help teen parents graduate from high school. In addition to these efforts, the NYC Department of Education mandated Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools in 2011 to decrease the rate of teen pregnancies, HIV and STIs among young people. However, many of the youth that I work with in Brooklyn still report receiving little to no sex education even after the mandate was placed into effect. Having grown up in Brooklyn my entire life and having never received formal sexual education, I know they are telling the truth.
So if you think scare tactics and shameful ads are going to work, think again. In fact it is just making the situation worse. I’m mostly concerned with who the agency talked to before creating these controversial ads. It definitely was not teen parents!! I wonder how agencies feel they can solve a problem without consulting the people on the ground and the young people with the “situated knowledge.” As a millennial of color, research shows that although my peers would like to decrease the rate of teen pregnancies, they also feel that society has a responsibility to provide young parents with the necessary resources and opportunities to lead healthy lives.
Lastly, I think these ads should be taken down, and the funding for this so-called Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Initiative should be redirected to organizations working to provide real comprehensive sexual education, access to contraception, teen parenting programs, affordable childcare and job opportunities for young people. Education, inclusion and empowerment is how we solve real issues not by attaching stigma to young people, especially young women!
Feb 27, 2013
Feb 27, 2013
Feb 27, 2013
“When I introduce the concept of reproductive justice to new audiences, at lectures or workshops, I always frame it in the same way. I use a really simple exercise, where I draw a stick figure on a piece of butcher paper, or an easel, or a chalkboard. Then I ask the question: “What things in this person’s life will impact their ability to create the family they want to create?” Usually it takes a few minutes for the audience to get going, but within five or ten minutes the result is a stick figure with many, many issues written in bubbles around them. Things like religion, money, environment, language, race, gender, sexuality, laws, incarceration end up surrounding the person.
This activity is a pretty decent illustration of my definition of reproductive justice—it’s working to build a world where everyone has what they need to create the family they want to create. And that work requires incorporating and taking into account all of those items written in bubbles on the diagram, as well as many we probably leave out. Almost always this exercise results in “ah ha” moments, and it’s had a striking universality—from using it with college students to using it in Latina immigrant communities on the border. Reproductive justice is an easier concept to explain in ten minutes than in a two-word soundbite, like pro-choice, but that additional context also allows for so many more of the issues and challenges or our every day lives to be made visible and explicitly included in our work.”
Feb 10, 2013
(oldie but goody)
Feb 1, 2013
Roe v. Wade guaranteed abortion as a legal right across the country. A separate decision two decades later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, guaranteed states’ rights to limit access to abortion, so long as it did not pose an “undue burden” on the woman.
States have, over the past four decades, made no short use of that latter right. Only one state, Oregon, has not layered additional restrictions on top of the Roe decision. At the other end of the spectrum is Oklahoma: With 22 abortion restrictions, it has more than any other state. The chart below, courtesy of Remapping the Debate, has the full list. You can also gohere for an interactive version of the graphic, which will let you look at what type of restrictions each state has set.
Jan 24, 2013
Tell Them is proud to announce the release of a new report: 25 Years and 250,000 Teen Pregnancies Later.
This report examines the multitude of research surrounding the need for comprehensive sex education programs in South Carolina.
The report highlights 5 major problems with current sex education programs:
- - No accountability for what is being taught in sex ed classes
- - Lack of teachers trained in health education instruction
- - Information provided to students is not medically accurate
- - Discriminatory information being imposed on students
- - No “checks and balances” on the local level
The Comprehensive Health Education Act was passed in 1988. Twenty-five years later, we are still facing the same problems. Condom use among teens is down (67% used condoms in 2005, 58% used condoms in 2011); more than 50% of high school students (and nearly 20% of middle school students) report that they have already had sex; and there are an average of 68 newly reported cases of Chlamydia or Gonorrhea in youth every day.
This should enrage every parent in our state. Let’s see this report as the catalyst for change. Visit www.reformsexed.org now and email your legislator. Tell Them that you support sex ed reform and demand that we get comprehensive sex education programs in our schools.
While the report focuses on information released Monday by the New Morning Foundation in their new report A Sterling Opportunity, the Tell Them analysis also examined recent studies by the South Carolina State Alliance for Adolescent Sexual Health, the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the 2010 US census, the CDC’s annual youth risk behavior surveys and a regional report published last year. For a complete list of sources, visit our webpage.
Jan 13, 2013
Click on the link to see the images in full!
Jan 11, 2013
Political Info and Laws in Brief
- Governor Rick Snyder (R) is anti-choice.
- The Michigan House is anti-choice.
- The Michigan Senate is anti-choice.
Michigan bans a safe abortion procedure and has unconstitutional and unenforceable criminal bans on abortion.
Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay
Michigan has a partially unconstitutional and unenforceable law that subjects women seeking abortion services to biased-counseling requirements and mandatory delays.
Counseling Ban/Gag Rule
Michigan prohibits certain state employees and organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Refusal to Provide Medical Services
Michigan allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide women specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals.
Restrictions on Low-Income Women’s Access to Abortion
Michigan restricts low-income women’s access to abortion.
Restrictions on Young Women’s Access to Abortion
Michigan law restricts young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental consent.
Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP)
Michigan subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to other medical professionals.
Michigan law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide the same coverage for contraception.
Low-Income Women’s Access to Family Planning
Michigan provides certain low-income women increased coverage for Medicaid-funded family-planning services.
Protection Against Clinic Violence
Michigan law protects women seeking reproductive-health care and medical personnel from blockades and violence.
OTHER RELEVANT LAWS
Post-Viability Abortion Restriction
Michigan restricts post-viability abortion.
83% of Michigan counties have no abortion provider.
*an issue that does not affect *just* women.
Jan 7, 2013
When I attended the One Voice Summit in Washington D. C. on November 16-19, 2012, I didn’t know how they were going to fill one hour, much less three days with information about how the environment and reproductive health were related.
After attending the conference, I learned how the world is acutely affected by our reproductive choices through population control, sustainability, and resource consumption and how we are affected by the environment we live in. The reproductive system is one of the most easily affected by its environment. In one instance, an umbilical cord was found to contain approximately 287 industrial chemicals. We’re being exposed to more chemicals at an earlier point in our lives and it’s affecting how we reproduce. Phthalates, BPA, and PAH are in the air we breathe and the everyday items we use. These chemicals have been linked to premature births, endometriosis, genital abnormalities in boys, sperm damage, reduced sperm count, and hormone disruption, to name a few.
Needless to say, this is some pretty serious stuff. When I arrived home, I was determined to change my lifestyle and start living more eco-friendly. Although I had recycled before, I became even more rigorous about recycling and making sure nothing recyclable was being thrown away. No receipts, no water bottles, no cans. Though this was a good beginning, I still found myself surrounded by toxic chemicals. I swapped out cleaning supplies for white vinegar, began leaving my shoes at the door, avoided plastic like the plague, and looked up my personal care products using cosmeticsdatabase.com. It’s so easy to change a few simple things in your lifestyle that can cause a world of difference in your toxin intake and your carbon footprint. There’s even an app for that. The free GoodGuide Mobile app allows you to scan the barcode of an item and find out its health, environment, and society scores, combining them to give you an overall rating. It’s so simple, even my mom can do it.
As a result of this conference, I found out more than I ever thought possible about how environmental issues and reproductive issues go hand in hand. It caused me to reevaluate my choices. I don’t reach for bottled water anymore. I make sure that I know what my products have in them. This conference made me want to research the things in my life that I took for granted. Because of that, I’ve become an organic gardener. I’m attempting to change my life, it’s true. But, I’m also attempting to change the world. And it’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
Dec 17, 2012
Talking about young people in the part of the world where I come is already a sensitive issue and adding ‘rights’ which is another very explosive issue to this makes advocacy for the placing of youth rights at the heart of development a very difficult but not an impossible task. Behind these words lies the fears, doubts, and optimism of a participant at the just ended International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-Beyond 2014 Global youth Forum (GYF) which held from the 4th to the 6th December 2012.They are also the words that come to my mind whenever I think about this forum and the impact its outcomes will have on the future of young people and therefore our world as a whole. The fruits of the optimism raised and the hopes re-enkindled by the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF not only in the young persons that attended this event but above all in the lives of the millions of young persons that are marginalized, down trodden, and persecuted because of their gender, age, political choices, and sexual orientation, will no doubt become reality as youths irrespective of their social status, religious beliefs, and gender have been empowered and energized by this forum. With most of the recommendations from the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF urging governments, international bodies, and civil societies to recognize the rights of all young persons especially the marginalized, suffering and persecuted(the girl child, sexual minorities, rural dwellers, the uneducated) and establish an enabling environment for the potentials of every young person to be unleashed and his/her dreams fulfilled, the forum is ended but has opened an avenue for youths to claim what is theirs and take their places in decision making cycles in their various countries. Enlightened, empowered, and inspired by the passion and enthusiasm I witnessed in Bali, the following words came to my mind in the evening of the 6th of December as the forum ended: ‘What happens when it comes time to part? Well you know how when you’re listening to music from another room and you’re singing along, because it’s a tune you really love, when the door closes, or a train passes, and you can’t hear the music anymore, but you sing along anyway?’ Just like the song described in this scene from the movie, ‘Music from Another Room’, the journey towards achieving youths rights might have begun long ago, Bali marked a new beginning in this fight for the rights of young people in all their diversity to be recognized and respected in the society where they live.
Dec 12, 2012
WHAT THE MICHIGAN ANTI-ABORTION BILL REALLY DOES
The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate now has before it a draconian anti-abortion clinic bill designed to make the
full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care, inaccessible for Michigan women. The bill passed
the Michigan House in June. The most potentially dangerous, expensive, and degrading provisions in HB 5711 would:
REQUIRE DISPOSAL OF “FETAL REMAINS” LIKE A DEAD BODY
– Michigan will become the ﬁrst state in the nation to
require any woman who seeks an abortion or miscarries to decide how she will dispose of the “fetal remains.”
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
At 10 weeks: A woman must pay for a funeral home to transport fetal remains and to decide amongst burial,
cremation, or interment. Current law requires the products of conception to be hygienically incinerated.
HB 5711, if passed,
Misleads women into thinking of the fetal issue as a person and abortion as murder.
Traumatizes and shames women at a diﬃcult time and adds unnecessary expense to an abortion.
At 20 weeks: Additionally, either the physician or the coroner must ﬁle a Death Certiﬁcate, a public record which
may be reported in the local newspaper and remains permanently on ﬁle with the State. HB 5711, if passed,
Robs women of their right to privacy and potentially makes miscarriage and abortion public.
STOP DOCTORS FROM PERFORMING ABORTIONS – Doctors who would perform more than ﬁve abortions a month in the oﬃce (or who meet other criteria) must do so only in a licensed freestanding surgical facility and buy $1 million in liability insurance.
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Makes providing abortion services prohibitively expensive for doctors so that they will give up the practice.
The requirements for surgical facilities won’t make women safer, the insurance is not currently available in
Michigan and, even if it were, it would likely be prohibitively expensive and make the cost of abortion beyond
the reach of most women. Current laws adequately protect women and should be enforced.
RESTRICT FREE SPEECH IN THE GUISE OF PREVENTING “COERCION” – Doctors must verify that patients have been “screened” about whether they were coerced into seeking an abortion.
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Makes parents, spouses, and others subject to lawsuits for counseling a woman about making informed
choices, while frightening doctors from providing abortions for fear of legal action.
END THE TELE-MEDICINE OPTION
– The new law would prohibit doctors from dispensing safe medication abortions or emergency contraception drugs such as Ella through telemedicine protocols. The bill even requires that medication abortions be performed at a licensed freestanding surgical facility!
WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Adds physical and ﬁnancial barriers that discourage women from exercising their legally-protected rights
without making them any safer.
Makes abortion unavailable to women in underserved areas, which includes more than 83% of Michigan
WHAT THESE LAWS ALSO DO IS DISCOURAGE GOOD DOCTORS FROM PRACTICING IN MICHIGAN
- Dr. Michael Allswede of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists tes9ﬁed against the bill, arguing that his organization knows the bill will make it harder to recruit doctors to practice in Michigan. Studies show Michigan could lack as many as 4,500 doctors by 2020, and this legisla9on would make matters worse.
Contact your Senator and Governor Snyder and tell them to reject HB 5711.
See www.michnow.org for contact informa2on.
*this does not affect just women
Dec 12, 2012
**This issue is not just about women’s health, it’s about every single person who could be affected by an attack on reproductive rights and health.**
The latest filings from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads show a last minute contribution of $1 million received just days before the election (10/29/12) from Gary Heavin — the co-founder of Curves International Inc., which calls itself “the world’s leader in women’s fitness.”
Curves, a chain of women-only fitness center franchises, claims nearly 10,000 locations in more than 85 countries. Heavin and his fellow co-founder, his wife Diane, sold Curves International to an private equity firm in October, but they remain prominently featured on the company’s website. The Heavins say they “share a passion for and commitment to women’s health and fitness.” But his massive donation to the right-wing super PAC is only the latest in a long pattern of their efforts
in support of policies that undermine women’s equality in the workplace and restrict women’s access to health care services.
American Crossroads spent $91 million to elect Mitt Romney over President Obama. Romney refused to endorse key pro-women legislation including the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and thePaycheck Fairness Act, but backed reinstating the “global gag rule” on even discussing abortion as a family planning option and supported the infamous Blunt Amendment to allow employers to deny health benefits that go against their personal views. Crossroads also worked to help far-right extremists like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and George Allen. Much of the American Crossroads attack strategy focused on criticizing Obamacare and those who backed the effort to expand health insurance access to all Americans.
In addition to helping fund American Crossroads, the Heavins also combined to give $92,400 to the House and Senate Republican campaign arms, $2,500 to Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), $30,800 to the Republican National Committee, $7,300 to Romney’s campaign, and $2,500 to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2012.
And this past election isn’t the only time that Curves and the Heavins have worked against women’s reproductive rights. Gary Heavin pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars for controversial “pregnancy crisis centers” that try to talk women out of abortions and have been accused to providing false information. They also made large donations to abstinence-only education programs — programs which often misinform and make teens more likely to engage in risky behavior and become pregnant. Curves also pulled its funding for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation over its objection to the charity’s funding for Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening services. In a 2004 editorial, Mr. Heavin attacked Planned Parenthood’s sex education literature, writing “I have a 10-year-old daughter. I would absolutely not allow her to be exposed to this material. I don’t want her being taught masturbation and told that homosexuality is normal.”
That anti-choice and anti-LGBT stance was further demonstrated when Curves partnered with the American Family Association — a group that has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group.” They joined for a 2009 healthy recipe contest and sold a Curves fitness CD on the AFA’s website. Gary Heavin has also been an outspoken enthusiast for televangelist Pat Robertson, who has blamed natural disasters on same-sex marriage equality and blamed 9/11 on abortion, the separation of church and state, and civil liberties groups.
Dec 9, 2012
Anti-Choice Senators Block Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty
Sadly, we’ve all grown used to the idea that nothing gets through the U.S. Senate these days without the support of at least 60 senators. Procedural tricks and a misuse of the filibuster rule has ground legislation to a near halt in the years since President Barack Obama took office. But when it came to a vote to ensure that disabled persons have the same rights as anyone else—including the right to avoiding pregnancy or terminating unwanted ones—even 60 votes wasn’t enough.
The Senate voted 61 to 38 to ratify the United Nations Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty, which stated “nations should strive to assure that the disabled enjoy the same rights and fundamental freedoms as their fellow citizens,” according to the Associated Press. The treaty was modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, but anti-choice activists rallied against it, claiming it “sacrifices the most vulnerable—the disabled and the unborn—all in the name of population control,” according to Bradley Mattes, president of the International Right to Life Federation.
Although anti-choice activists claimed concern that the treaty, if ratified, could expand access to abortion and somehow impede their efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, many of those who voted against the measure, such as Utah Sen. Mike Lee, pointed to fear of losing United States “sovereignty” as their reason for opposing the treaty.
Dec 7, 2012
Hope you’ve already signed the petition asking Secretary Sebelius to follow the science and make emergency contraception available over-the-counter without age restriction. Don’t miss this entry from last year when the decision came down; it’s still relevant!
Dec 7, 2012
A year ago today, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overriding the FDA’s recommendation to make Plan B emergency contraception available over-the-counter without age restrictions. That’s right – scientists recommended the over-the-counter status, finding the drug safe for young women under 17. But the Obama administration denied it, ignoring the evidence in favor of politics.
Join us in taking action:
- Sign the petition: Tell Secretary Sebelius to make Plan B available over the counter without age restrictions
- Tweet about it TODAY, RIGHT NOW.
Then join us and others in a “twitter flurry” directed at HHS throughout the day – let them know we haven’t forgotten and we want action!
During his 2009 Inauguration speech, President Obama said, “We will restore science to its rightful place.” And since a year ago, the science has only gotten stronger, with the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommending that doctors routinely talk about EC with teens and provide them with prescriptions as needed.
Tell Secretary Sebelius to stick to the President’s commitment and follow the science: make emergency contraception available over-the-counter without restriction!
Dec 6, 2012
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Adult men have great ranges of testosterone levels early in lifetime and are inclined to show dangerous habits when girls pick out to stay secure by getting safety measures like as driving sluggish (for which gentlemen definitely dislike us), sporting seat-belts, maintaining a check on their well being as well as that of other spouse and children members. Could that be why women live prolonged than fellas? According new data published by the United Countries, the normal living expectancy of a female in the United States is 80.8 ages whilst that of a person is seventy five.six ages! In reality, in essentially each and every place all-around the earth, the regular lifestyle expectancy of girls is much more than that of gentlemen. So, why do gals are living more time than gentlemen? Let us discover out an remedy to this age-previous concern. 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These kinds of variation on the same or distinctive set of genes contributes to their more time life. While, this explanation is a modest difficult to realize as to why adult females dwell prolonged than fellas, but it performs a critical job to their life expectancy. Evolution of Species: Given that women of all ages give beginning to the offspring and are key caregivers to their little ones, they are genetically made to have bodies that can withstand these kinds of disorders and therefore, remain healthier than guys. In most mammals, the ladies are likely to dwell prolonged than males. The position of males is confined to reproduction only. Iron Deficiency: Girls are likely to be more deficient in iron in their bodies due to monthly blood decline during menstruation. Iron, discovered mainly in red meat, contributes to the generation of free of charge radicals that speedup growing older and clog arteries, raising [url=http://www.uggbootsukincheap.co.uk]ugg sale[/url] the hazard of a heart and soul stroke. Adult men effortlessly have much more iron in their blood, than girls. Delaying Health and fitness Checkups: Just like most males refuse to acquire instructions, they refuse to go for health checkups believing they are hale and hearty. Connect with in the moi or about-assurance, they don’t actually have a look at the health care provider unless of course something key comes about to their wellbeing. And, then girls are blamed for nagging to go for common check-ups… huh? Clinical Boom: Aside from just becoming mindful about their overall health, lower women die while in childbirth. A substantial mortality rate because of to the similar was typical among the our ancestors. On the other hand, now lower and lesser females die due to childbirth, vitamin deficiencies and other health conditions. Nevertheless, a position to be famous right here is that in the earlier ten years there has been a declining pattern in the lifetime expectancy ratios of adult men and females. As adult females much too keep on to indulge in harmful life-style practices these as drinking, smoking, getting medicines, not feeding on nutritious foods and acquiring aggressive with women top to enhanced levels of worry as very well participating in violent conduct also in their youthful years, the everyday living expectancy of women is also expected to decline, shortening the gap amongst them and adult males. Also, the criminal offense versus females this kind of as homicide and rapes are on the increase. Whether you are a male or a lady, we will need to all start off dwelling a holistic way of living to like the present of life for more time and with a wholesome physique.
Dec 6, 2012
Dec 5, 2012
Dec 5, 2012
Another day has come and gone over Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum.But as days come and go, the discussion intensifies and young people are more demanding to their governments, religious and traditional authorities, parents, and society at large.
Universal access to education,inclusive education, relevant education, quality education ,financing and partnerships, as well as ccomprehensive sexuality education were identified by participants at the ICPD beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum participants as being vital for comprehensive education to become a reality in our world and were thus recommended in that other for discussion by the United Nations and possible inclusion in its post-2015 international development agenda.
Transitions to decent work, and famiies,youth Rights and well being are the themes which were on the discussion table today.These being of course issues which are relevant to every young person irrespective of where he/she hails, the debate in the plenary was so intense and continued into the various work groups.
During the plenary on transitions to decent employment, it was revealed by the International Labour Organisation’s representative that we now have the highest number of unemployed youths that the world has ever. Also, during this plenary it was disclosed that 1 in 9 young workers in Africa are in the informal sector, 4 out of 10 young workers are working on a temporary basis, and 5 in 10 low paid persons are youths.
Productivity, fairness, and rewarding are the major characteristics of a decent job as defined by the International Labour Organisation(ILO). If one is to go by this definition, one will have no choice but agree with the above statistics. One other area in which there was total agree is on the fact that stronger families, respect of youth rights, and the well being of youths are the basis for any society and so for a world at peace with itself, there was need for these issues to be tackled with maximum care.
According to Mr.Anatole Makosso, the president to the conference of African youth ministers and youth minister of Congo Brazzaville, there exist three reasons for governments to carefully consider the above mentioned issues and ensure that the needs of youths are met: They are the majority, they are the future, they will not identify with any decisions taken without them.
Another day is come and gone, and the desire for action by youths on the part of their governments has not faultered Youths want to make the Bali declaration not only a declaration but a platform for action. Hear our voices!
Dec 4, 2012
What a long awaited and historic day for mankind has today being. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum was officially opened today. In the presence of close to a thousand participants, Indonesian officials, and representatives of governments the world over, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive Director , in his speech decried the situation in which so many young people, especially those in the global south, live in before pointing out the importance of this event, and then inviting representatives of governments and those he termed “Seniors” to look at the young people around them and challenge how they relate to them, and then think of how they can release the potentials of these young people.
Further setting the context of the Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum, the Indonesian minister for people’s welfare, declared that: we believe that a meaningful dialogue is necessary on the means and ways of engaging young people to release their potential. He further emphasized that , young people need to understand the values of life that will make them stay healthy, be educated, foster family life, actively participate in building the world they have always dreamed of.
Staying healthy, comprehensive education, transition to decent work for youth, Families, youth rights and well being, leadership and meaningful youth participation, and realizing youth rights are the themes which will be discussed and recommendations made by the over 650 participants for discussion and adoption by the UN member states as one of its post-2015 agenda.
Staying healthy and comprehensive education were tackled today in discussion groups (world Cafés) and recommendations made on the former. Access to data, putting in place of an enabling environment for youths by governments, religious and traditional authorities, access to quality, affordable, and comprehensive health services, and finally the abolition of laws and policies that that hinder youth empowerment are the recommendations that came out from the 15 sort of work groups that brainstormed on this topic. The recommendations on the comprehensive education will be presented tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th 2012.
It should be noted that the above recommendations were arrived at by participants including representatives of governments, UN agencies, and civil society in a very interactive, safe, and open environment after attending the plenary session that addressed the issue of staying healthy for a young person. At this plenary Advocate for Youth’s Meredith Waters acting in her capacity as young person commentator for this theme, declared amid thunderous applause from the audience that: the Global Youth Forum is a great way to start but not enough. Dr Nafsia Mboi, Indonesian minister of health, answering to questions from the participants declared to conclude the plenary that: Every person, I repeat every person including young people has the right to health.
Good as the speeches may be, world leaders should be conscious that young people are tired of speeches and want to see concrete actions being taken solve the pile of problems in which young people from all part of our beloved world are drowning. World leaders! Take action now or be fired! We are ready for the fight and I assure you we will always out power you; for we are the majority.
Dec 3, 2012
Let me tell you a little story about my relationships with Emergency Contraception, or EC.
Since I have been sexually active, I have been a consistent birth control user, advocate too as I might add! For about a year I was the proud how to a Nuvaring each month. I loved it! I specifically loved that I could take it out for up to an hour without any decrease in effectiveness.
As easy as the Nuvaring is, there were still times I made mistakes using it. I was half way to Cleveland Pride in 2011 when I realized I didn’t have my trusty ring-shaped friend with me. I believe I literally said, “stop the car! We need to go back, I forgot my Nuvaring!” Another time I had taken it out, and then fallen asleep. I woke up the next morning, reached for my cell phone to turn off my alarm, and then realized what I was touching was not a phone but my Nuvaring.
Did I have unprotected sex? How long has it been out? Questions started to pile on, and I started to get worried. OK, I thought, I have to be in to work in an hour which gives me time to run by the drugstore to buy emergency contraception (EC) before I need to get there. I called the pharmacy, they confirmed that taking EC would be the best plan of action. I made it just in time to get my EC before heading into work. This is how me and EC became friends.
My experience with EC was pretty smooth. Sadly, this is not true for all women in the US. My experience was made easier because I was older, married, had health insurance, a state issued ID, a car, a steady income, and a little extra time. Now imagine a similar instance happened to a younger woman, one under 18. Before they could access this safe and possibly life-change medication they would have to jump through several hoops.
Hoop one: They would have to meet with their doctor to get a prescription. For me, It takes AT LEAST two weeks for me to get in with my doctor (which is a whole other conversation about the US healthcare system). Therefore, who knows if they could even get an appointment with their doctor within the 72 hour time frame in which EC is most effective.
Hope two: A younger person would have to face more stigma regarding EC use. Even as an adult, I was a little nervous calling the pharmacy and talking to a stranger about my birth control accident. Not just an adult, but former sexual health educator and Planned Parenthood employee! Luckily the person I spoke to was understanding.
A younger woman would be much more likely to face a judgmental look or tone of voice from the doctor or pharmacists. Not to mention that the woman might have to tell her parents about using EC, and not all young women have relationships with their parents that allow open and honest conversation about sexual health.
The experience of a young woman accessing EC could have been different and better this time last year. The Reproductive Health Technologies Project stated:
In December of 2011, the FDA was prepared to make emergency contraception accessible to consumers without restriction, based on more than a decade of medical research and policy debates. Instead, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA, putting politics ahead of women’s health. Her decision created unnecessary confusion for women and couples at a moment when clarity and timing matter most.
The bottom line is, EC is safe, and can make an incredible difference in the life of a woman. When I needed EC my husband was in law school, and I was not in a place to support him and a child financially, emotionally or physically. It would have even been harder for me if I was 17.
There are things you can do today to let policy makers know that you oppose unfair restrictions to accessing EC for young women.
- Sign the petition here.
- Share the petition link and encourage friends to sign. The petition site makes it easy to share on Facebook, Twitter or through email. We need your help reaching your friends!
- “Like” RHTP on Facebook to share images containing facts from the campaign with your social networks.
- “Follow” @RHTPorg on Twitter and retweet campaign and petition links using #ECOTC
- Commit to sharing a few social media memes, facts, or articles with your social networks throughout the campaign. Not everyone sees a post that only happens once and repetition really is important for public education.
Help protect reproductive rights for young women, but taking action today!
Nov 27, 2012
December 7th marks the 1 year anniversary of Secretary Sebelius’s short-sighted, election-minded decision to flat-out ignore the FDA recommendation that Plan-B One Step and its generic equivalent be made available on drug store shelves. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that EC must remain behind-the-counter.
According to RHRealityCheck, that decision has led to all sorts of confusion and unnecessary obstacles for women, teens and couples. For instance:
- Doctors and teens have been given misinformation about the age restrictions applied to emergency contraception over the counter (currently 17) or told that teens could not get the product at all (not true). This confusion helps no one.
- Men have been told by pharmacists in several states around the country that they could not buy EC (not true), presenting obstacles and delays when timing matters.
- Individuals without government issued identification may have difficulty accessing EC because of the restrictions.
Nov 25, 2012
Omg. You can’t just ask people why they’re ignorant.
Nov 19, 2012
The United Nations announced, “Access to contraception is a universal human right that could dramatically improve the lives of women and children in poor countries.” CBS News says that this is the first time the United Nations Population Fund’s annual report describes family planning as a human right. CBS even quotes the executive director:
“Family planning has a positive multiplier effect on development,” Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the fund, said in a written statement. “Not only does the ability for a couple to choose when and how many children to have help lift nations out of poverty, but it is also one of the most effective means of empowering women. Women who use contraception are generally healthier, better educated, more empowered in their households and communities and more economically productive. Women’s increased labor-force participation boosts nations’ economies.”
But not everyone is happy with this progress. Groups like Human Life International are disgusted with this development. Really, the idea of having some control over when and where to get pregnant, spacing the births far apart enough for optimal health of pregnant person and children, and actually being able to care for the resulting children while saving some money in medical fees is mortifying. Let’s all get up in arms and fight this! I kid, of course. Albeit, there are people who serious with this kind of sentiment, like the folks at LifeSiteNews:
Declaring birth control a right means “everyone else must pay for…the new right” Clowes told LifeSiteNews, “even if those forced to pay for it may object to it on moral grounds. This violates the more basic human right of freedom of conscience, which has for some time now been dispensed with by UN ‘human rights’ champions.”
Despite what they’re saying, the UN declares “that legal, cultural and financial barriers to accessing contraception and other family planning measures are an infringement of women’s* rights.”
*Let’s all try to remember that now all women can get pregnant and not all those who have the ability to become pregnant are women.
Nov 19, 2012
Everyone should read this article: What happens when a woman is denied an abortion?
Although it may evoke the same thought I had:
“And water is wet.”
Nov 19, 2012
I live about five minutes away from this.
Their typical show of “slactivism” is anti-choice chalk writing on school property, which reeks of emotionally manipulative messages full of misinformation and bad spelling.
And now there’s this recent sign they put up, even after what happened to Savita Halappanavar, see what AFY_EmilyB has to say about that.
Nov 11, 2012
Free birth control could prevent 1,060,370 unplanned pregnancies and 873,250 abortions a year in the U.S., according to a study.
Nov 9, 2012
This is something you can use if you didn’t use birth control or were late on your regular method. It’s really stronger doses of the same hormones that are found in regular birth control. And it’s most effective if it’s taken within 12 hours after sex.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that Plan B and RU486 (also known as the ‘abortion pill’) are the same thing. It’s not. Pregnancy is defined by implantation, and Plan B can’t harm an egg that has finished implanting–thus can’t cause an abortion. It also cannot cause birth defects.
Click on the image and then print it out for the Plan B Coupon!
Nov 7, 2012
by Deb Hauser
President, Advocates for Youth
Advocates for Youth congratulates President Barack Obama on his historic reelection. We also celebrate the amazing role that young people played within his administration and his reelection, and we recognize the growing power of youth to drive social and cultural change for a better world. Young people represented approximately 19 percent of the electorate yesterday—a larger percentage even than in 2008!
In the years ahead, we call on President Obama to stand with us in recognition of every young person’s right to honest sexual health education, safe and affordable sexual health services, and an equity of social, educational, and economic opportunity – the type of opportunity that builds healthy lives and strong communities.
Nov 2, 2012
THE DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO DECEMBER 7th
Boom. The International Youth Leadership Council is looking for college students in the DC metro area to apply to be new council members to start this January.
Need some background?
Advocates for Youth sponsors a project called the International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC), which is designed to develop youth leaders in the areas of international sexual and reproductive health and rights, abortion access, global HIV and AIDS, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and other sexual orientation and gender identity rights. The Council currently consists of seven members who are a diverse group of young people with backgrounds from around the world. Members attend colleges or universities in the Washington, DC Metro area.
IYLC members work with the staff of the Policy Department and The Youth Activist Network to increase U.S. support and leadership for improving young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights globally and domestically. As members of the council, they develop an understanding of a broad range of issues, including international family planning; maternal health and adolescent maternal mortality; gender inequality; harmful traditional practices, such as child marriage; HIV and AIDS; and LGBT rights. They in turn become familiar with related U.S. domestic and foreign policy, and international agreements that address youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Throughout the school year, council members serve as youth educators, advocates, and spokespeople on sexual and reproductive health issues and polices that affect young people around the world. They organize campus events, utilize online and traditional media outlets, conduct educational workshops, attend conferences, and lobby policy makers at the national and international level.
-opportunities to shape policy from the local to international level
-resources to mobilize your communities
-meet some pretty fantastic people
Be a part of a movement to make youth voices heard!
Oct 30, 2012
Talk to your parents about sex. No, really. Do it. I’m being completely serious.
If your parents aren’t around and/or conversations with your parents never go well and you fear an extreme negative reaction, find a local clinic/Planned Parenthood and direct some of your questions there or do some research using the Internet or find a trusted adult who you can talk to. The education is worth it especially with all the risks that do come with sex.
But if the worst that can happen from talking about sex with your parents is just awkwardness, then it’s definitely worth the try. And it might not just be awkward for you, it’s probably this way for them too. But they care about you. And I’m sure you care about them, even if you’re not ready to admit that quite yet.
Studies show that the closer the relationship is between parents and children, the less likely it is that a teen pregnancy or an STI will occur.1 Open communication can only help. I know, I know. Easier said than done. So, how do we bring it up? Mom or Dad hands you your lunch or allowance or whatever and you just go, “Hey, can we talk about sex?” If that works for you, try that. I mean, yeah. Your parents will be caught off guard, but it’s better than never finding out what your parents know or if they’re willing to help you reach a better understanding of sex and all it entails.
You can also try pulling up some article from a magazine or off the Internet about sex education and/or prevention care and try discussing that with your parents, then casually ask questions about your own interest, but be sure to have those questions prepared.
Why would you want to ask your parents about sex? Why is it so important to have comprehensive education not only from school but from your parents as well?
It’s just important to gather all the information you can about sex. Let’s look at it this way. There are approximately one billion people ages 15-24 in the whole world, and there are about 42 million in the United States. 48% of high school students are currently sexually active, and 62% of those teens report using a condom the last time they had sex. Just 62%. That’s like a D minus. But get this, in 2006, only 5% of American high schools made condoms available to students.2
Maybe you’re thinking, “How hard can putting a condom on be?” It’s a good question. You probably know all the necessary steps, like checking the expiration date on the package, opening it with just your fingers and never your teeth, squeezing the tip of the condom, when exactly to put it on, leaving a half-inch space at the tip, which side to roll down, etc. And did you know that with typical use of a condom, 15 out of 100 people face an unintended pregnancy? When condoms are used consistently and correctly, less than 2 people experience an unintended pregnancy.3 Almost half of all new infections are happening with people under 25, but only less than a third of these people know how to protect themselves from STIs and HIV.4 So, think about those numbers again. Weigh the awkwardness and the importance of sex education together for a minute and decide what matters more to you.
For more facts, please click this link: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/press-room/get-the-facts
1) Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention & Education for Adolescents & Children 5.3-4 (2003): 7-32.
Oct 27, 2012
Mary J. Blige, along with actress Julianne Moore and songwriter/producer Bryan Michael Cox, attending the Planned Parenthood Action Fund “Yes, We Plan” in NYC
Oct 25, 2012
Every day, governments all over the world violate the fundamental human rights of millions of women. The Center for Reproductive Rights fights on the front lines every day to beat back these assaults — and Meryl Streep, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, Billy Crudup, Audra McDonald, and many more are standing beside us in this call to action in the global battle for reproductive freedom.
Oct 25, 2012
Oct 25, 2012
This is outside the State Capitol building in Lansing for a free viewing of The Vagina Monologues, in which Eve Ensler made an appearance on her day off, in support of Representative Lisa Brown and overall reproductive healthcare and rights this past summer. I was definitely there.
What HB 5177 entails:
1) Bans Abortions After 20 Weeks, Even For Rape And Incest Victims: A woman would not be able to have an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation based on the widely disputed idea that a fetus can feel pain after that point. The only exception would be if a woman’s life was in danger.
2) Transforms Doctors Into Detectives: The Republican-backed legislation would make it a crime for anyone to coerce a woman into having an abortion. Doctors will have to give their patients a questionnaire to inform them of the illegality of coercion and determine if the woman had been coerced or is the victim of domestic abuse before the abortion procedure.
3) Limits Access For Rural Women: Under the omnibus bill, doctors would have to be physically present to perform a medication abortion, thus preventing a doctor from administering abortion-inducing medication by consulting via telephone or internet. This would especially hurt rural women, who may have to travel hours to meet in-person with a specialist.
4) Requires Doctors To Purchase Costly Malpractice Insurance: If HB 5711 goes into effect, then doctors would be required to carry $1 million in liability insurance if they perform five or more abortions each month or have been subject to two more more civil suits in the past seven years, among other requirements. But the qualifications are so vague that almost all doctors who perform abortions could be requiredto carry the additional liability insurance at a potential cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
5) Regulates Clinics Out Of Existence: HB 5711 would create new regulations so that any clinic that provides six or more abortions in a month or one which advertises abortion services would have to be licensed as a “freestanding surgical outpatient facility.” That means that even if a clinic does not offer surgical abortions, it would be required to have a full surgical suite.
I hope I don’t get in trouble for this following one. I don’t really think it’s profane.
You probably can’t see me, but I’m somewhere in here. I’ll have to look it up but I think over 500 people were there.
Oct 19, 2012
Oct 18, 2012
One of the things I like to do as the moderator for STFU, Pro-Life is share pro-choice music. People ask me why I do this, how is it relevant, etc. I just think it’s cool to know if our favorite bands or singer supports a cause that we believe in. A lot of these artists actually put their money into supporting sexual and reproductive health and rights. Giving them a shout out just seems like the thing to do.
As stated on the STFU, Pro-Life blog:
This is based on their support for Planned Parenthood (either by playing for feminist events and/or knowingly signing onto labels that donate to PP) and continuous work for feminism and overall pro-choice awesomeness. You might be surprised by some of these artists. And if there’s a musician(s) you know that’s pro-choice and it’s not on this list, let me know! Progress never sounded so good.
And here are some of the bands:
Against All Authority
Alice in Chains
Angels and Airwaves
Archers of Loaf
Au Revoir Simone
Big D and the Kids Table
The Black Keys
Boards of Canada
Broken Social Scene
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Dave Matthews Band
Death Cab for Cutie
Dillinger Escape Plan
Dry the River
Florence and the Machine
Fox and the Law
Gang Gang Dance
Get Up Kids
Goo Goo Dolls
The Go Team
Gregory and the Hawk
Kings of Convenience
Less Than Jake
The Magnetic Fields
Manic Street Preachers
Maps & Atlases
Marina and the Diamonds
Mary J. Blige
The Mountain Goats
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
My Brightest Diamond
My Morning Jacket
New Found Glory
The New Pornographers
No Use For a Name
The Postal Service
The Presidents of the United States
Queens of the Stone Age
Rage Against the Machine
Ra Ra Riot
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Salt ‘n’ Pepa
The Scissor Sisters
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
Stone Temple Pilots
The Summer Set
System of a Down
Tegan and Sara
TV on the Radio
Uh Huh Her
The Volcano Diary
Yo La Tengo
Aug 28, 2012
Everyone makes mistakes and accidents can sometimes happen. But none are as scary as the ones during sex – the condom breaking, forgetting to take birth control or not using protection at all. If any of these happen to you (or someone you know) and a concern about pregnancy follows, there is emergency contraception to prevent an unintended pregnancy.
Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. It’s commonly known as the morning-after pill. Brand names of the morning-after pill are ella, Next Choice, and Plan B One-Step. Emergency contraception works by keeping a woman’s ovaries from releasing eggs and prevents pregnancy from happening because there is no egg to join with the sperm. If the sperm has already joined with the egg, however, emergency contraception WILL NOT work. Emergency contraception DOES NOT cause an abortion.
Also, there is no harm in taking the “Morning After” pill more than once. Your uterus won’t fall out or you won’t become barren! Emergency contraception is safe and effective to use. The only side effect from using emergency contraception more than once is that your menstrual cycle may become irregular. To be sure you are not pregnant and that emergency contraception worked, take a pregnancy test two weeks after taking the morning after pill. If you do become pregnant despite taking the “Morning After” pill and want to continue the pregnancy, it does not increase the risk of birth defects.
Lastly, do not use emergency contraception as a permanent method of birth control. There are so many fabulous methods out there you can choose from that will be much cheaper on a long term basis. No matter what you choose though, always remember that SAFE SEX is the best sex and only you can be in charge of YOUR sexual health!
Check out Planned Parenthood’s website for more information on the “Morning After” pill and other methods of birth control.
Jun 28, 2012
Check out this blog from S.W.A.R.M. (Students With A Responsible Message) council member Aaron about his experience looking for emergency contraception around the University of South Carolina campus. Spoiler alert: yeah…it’s not easy to get!
Jun 1, 2012
Sunday morning, a 24-year-old woman was raped in an apartment complex. She contacted her mother, who drove her to the nearest hospital (Integris Canadian Valley Hospital) to receive medical care for her assault. When they got there however, mother and daughter were shocked when the doctor assigned to her treatment informed them that due to budget cuts, there were no Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners on permanent staff to provide a rape kit. SANE nurses are specially trained and work only with rape victims, ensuring “the proper collection, preservation, and documentation of evidence” be provided to local law enforcement and the District Attorney “without re-traumatizing the victim.” Apparently, someone thought it was good enough to have SANE staff rotate monthly between four hospitals, each about 25- 35 minutes away from each other.
Worse, even though the hospital had emergency contraception available on hand and was not religiously affiliated, the doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to the young woman, based solely on the fact that it was against her “conscience.” In Oklahoma, and many other states, this is legal. “Conscience clauses” mean that if a medical provider has any personal, moral, or religious objection to performing or providing any specific act, they have the right to refuse care.
In an interview with KWTV News, the rape victim’s mother describes her shock and disappointment with how her daughter was treated.
“I was shocked that they wouldn’t provide treatment to a rape victim.”
“Her attitude was so condescending. It was like she was treating my daughter like she had done something wrong.”
My daughter said, “Is it you that won’t give [emergency contraception] to me? Do you have them here, and you just won’t give them to me?” And she said, “That’s right. I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs.”
“Even though she’d been advised that your daughter had just been raped?”
“Yes. Absolutely. She knew my daughter had just been raped.”
Reporter: Rhonda says at no time did the doctor offer to get another doctor at Canadian Valley Hospital to see them or to help her daughter.
“Her attitude was so judgmental. And I felt like she was just judging my daughter.”
This is yet another big problem because although the doctor had a right to personally refuse care, she also had “an obligation to minimize disruption in delivery of care,” which she clearly did not provide.
Rhonda decided to take her daughter to Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where she was relieved to see that her daughter was given proper medical care and treated with respect.
“She was treated so well there. The staff, the doctors, the SANE examiners, they were just so wonderful to her. She stopped feeling like she was at fault.”
It is beyond comprehension how someone with a medical degree would reject medical science. It is impossible that this young woman was pregnant, having come to the hospital the day she was raped. That’s just not how pregnancy works, and a doctor should know that. IF her ovary had released an egg sometime in the past 24 hours and was making its way through her fallopian tube, and IF her rapist hadn’t been wearing a condom, and IF one of his sperm had reached the egg by the time she got to the hospital, she would STILL be about 8 to 11 days away from the fertilized egg becoming fully implanted in her uterus, making her officially pregnant. This means that there is absolutely no way for the doctor to object to emergency contraception on the basis that it would end a pregnancy. And then she has the gall to talk down to this woman whose been raped, as if she can’t believe that anyone who was forced to have sex wouldn’t love to become a mother because of it. This woman doesn’t deserve to practice medicine if she’s going to prioritize religiously-influenced beliefs over provable medical facts.
I’m working on gathering more information on this doctor, including confirming her name, determining if any disciplinary action is going to be taken, and if she has a history of providing inadequate care. I’ll provide updates as the story progresses. In the meantime, you can contact the hospital through their website if you’d like to voice your opinion
May 3, 2012
The Pill. For many of us who are members of Generation Y, the pill is as universally known to us as the internet. It is a very easy form of birth control that is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, when taken as instructed. The pill should be taken everyday at the same time in order to be effective. The pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and should always be used with a condom or some other barrier device. Also in an emergency, one could take extra doses of the pill, his has the same effectiveness as an emergency contraceptive pill. For more information on birth control pills and emergency contraception, please visit www.bedsider.org and www.carolinateenhealth.org.
Apr 7, 2012
Your youth is supposed to be some of the greatest years of your life, filled with excitement and fun-filled parties, nights out to bars and going to concerts. However, that group outing to the hottest club or that night out on the town can turn horribly wrong if you are not careful. On college campuses specifically, sexual assault involves the use of alcohol or drugs 90% of the time and more than 75% of college students who experience unwanted intercourse are under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the incident. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and with end of the semester and graduation parties approaching, it is important you keep yourself safe – especially from people you do not know.
Date rape drugs are powerful and especially dangerous because they often have no odor, color, or taste. They cause the individual who has consumed them to become weak, confused or to even pass out. Three of the most common date rape drugs are Rohypnol, nicknamed ruffies, GHB, and Ketamine. The have become known as “club drugs” because they tend to be used at dance clubs, concerts and raves. They come in a pill, powder and liquid form.
These drugs are legal when lawfully used for medical purposes and should only be used under a doctor’s order and care. While these drugs may have to be made or obtained illegally to use, another drug that is easier to come by and can have similar effects is alcohol. Alcohol is a drug and can affect one’s judgment and can put a person at risk for unwanted or risky sexual activity just like Ketamine, GHB or Rohypnol.
Some good ways to protect yourself are:
• DO NOT accept drinks from people you do not know or drinks you did not see prepared.
• Keep your drink with you at ALL TIMES, even when you go to the bathroom. If you realized you left your drink unattended, DO NOT drink it.
• DO NOT drink anything that tastes or smells strange.
• Have a non-drinking friend with you.
• If you feel drunk and have not drunk alcohol or feel the effects are stronger than they should be, get help right away.
• Attend parties in groups and never leave a party without accounting for those you came with. ALWAYS pre-plan a safe, sober ride home.
For a full list of nicknames of the common date rape drugs, effects of the drugs, what to do if you think you have been a victim or for a list of people to contact about date rape drugs check out Women’s Health or Kansas State University Counseling Services. You can also check out Date Rape Drugs for more information on other reliable sources.
And please remember that if you or someone you know should find yourself a survivor of sexual assault, you will want to report the incident, get tested for STDs/HIV, and exercise your right to seek Emergency Contraception as a pregnancy prevention option; EC is available at most local pharmacies, family planning clinics, and Planned Parenthood. For more information on EC, please visit www.morningafterinfo.org.
Apr 3, 2012
Amplify has the stories you need to hear! With so many great contributors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want you to miss out on the top insightful and informative stories of the week. Check in each week for a list of must-read posts. Whether it’s a national story or a individual experience, these are the issues you care about!
March 25- March 31
Stats this week: 19 posts by 15 writers
Why EC=BC: Emergency Contraception is a Form of Birth Control- by Amplify_Staff
Inside this post:
Over the last two months, religious opposition to insurance coverage for birth control, right-wing resistance to the Affordable Care Act, and GOP presidential nominees’ attacks on family planning created a perfect storm of anti-EC propaganda that not only threatens to set our advocacy back by years, but risks discouraging women from using this safe, effective method of preventing pregnancy.
The Broward Youth Council supports LGBT Rights!- by Jenny_BCYC
Inside this post:
However, Florida Statute 1003.46 implicitly forbids teaching gay students about HIV prevention, requiring that HIV/AIDS education in schools promotes “monogamous heterosexual marriage” and teaches “the expected standard for all students is abstinence outside of marriage.”
As advocates of comprehensive sexual education, we think that it is important to include LGBT language in our curriculums.
Inside this post:
Only 39 percent of currently married women report using a modern method of contraception. Furthermore, contraceptive use amongst young women is very low compared with that reported by older women. Only nine per cent of women aged 15-19 years are currently using a modern method of contraception, compared with 52 per cent of women aged 35-39 years.
Inside this post:
So, now, those inmates who are being denied necessary treatment have the Supremes on their side and now must receive treatment for their condition. And perhaps there may be redemption for certain prisoners, as their feelings of hopelessness which lead to the transgressions that they have committed can be adequately addressed in an institutionalized setting through hormone therapy, surgery, and other responses, and can then have a smooth transition to the outside world once released.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
My blog this week:
New Shave Gel Ad Puts a $10,000 Value on What’s In Your Pants
Mar 28, 2012
By Andrea Miller, NARAL Pro-Choice New York/NIRH
Editor’s Note: This article was cross-posted from RH Reality Check’s 2012 Back Up Your Birth Control series.
The claim started out on the lips of the Catholic bishops and anti-choice activists: Obamacare will mandate coverage for abortion-causing drugs – by which they meant emergency contraception (EC), a form of birth control (BC) that does not actually terminate a pregnancy. But that little detail didn’t seem to matter. Soon anti-choice politicians jumped on the bandwagon. Before long the mainstream media was uncritically repeating the mantra. In a moment of directorial carelessness or simple misunderstanding, a popular television show even got in on propagating the lie that emergency contraception is an abortifacient.
Today is the 11th Annual Back Up Your Birth Control (BUYBC) Day of Action. For 11 years, this campaign has served a dual purpose: increasing consumer knowledge about EC and advocating that it be available and accessible for anyone who needs a second chance to prevent pregnancy.
For more than a decade, the campaign has spread the word that EC is a safe and effective method of birth control that can prevent pregnancy when taken up to five days after sex, while also providing a forum for increased activism around making EC available over-the-counter for people of all ages. In a serious battle for women’s reproductive freedom, the Back Up Your Birth Control campaign has been a vehicle to infuse a little levity into the debate, reach new and diverse audiences, and keep ourselves sane. Using iconic pop cultural images, at-times irreverent messages, and guerilla-style tactics, thousands of people have engaged in street action, online activism, and good old-fashioned public education about this important birth control method.
It (almost) makes me feel old that I remember when a dedicated EC product was first made available by prescription in 1998, even though women’s health advocates knew for more than a decade prior that the hormones found in many birth control pills could be used after sex to prevent pregnancy. It (almost) makes me tired to remember that it then took constant advocacy, consumer education, lawsuits, court orders, and a scathing GAO report over the course of the next seven years before the FDA approved EC for over-the-counter access for those 18 years and older – a significant step yet one that ignored the scientific studies finding that EC was safe and effective for all ages. And it definitely makes me mad that, to this day, the “behind-the-counter” status conferred on this safe, effective contraceptive requires everyone to request EC from a pharmacist and present a government-issued ID to get it. What gives me hope is that, while the pace is glacial at times, there has been progress.
In 2009, we won over-the-counter access for 17-year-olds, and, this year, we anticipated science was finally – FINALLY – going to trump politics. The FDA was set to make EC available over-the-counter for all ages, which would have made EC available next to the condoms and pregnancy tests at pharmacies, grocery stores, and other retailers, without the need for prescriptions or proof of age. (For undocumented people, those too intimidated to ask the pharmacist for EC, or those in the suburbs or rural communities, where you might have to drive 20 miles just to buy a potato, much less EC, this would have been huge.)
But it was also too good to be true. In an unprecedented move, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius swept in to override the FDA’s decision. Then, the President – who so often speaks passionately as a parent who wants a better future for his daughters – made the groan-inducing claim that “The reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect.”
We barely had time to regroup and take stock after this unscientific, but sadly unsurprising, attack on EC before we witnessed an even more powerful backlash of a different sort. Over the last two months, religious opposition to insurance coverage for birth control, right-wing resistance to the Affordable Care Act, and GOP presidential nominees’ attacks on family planning created a perfect storm of anti-EC propaganda that not only threatens to set our advocacy back by years, but risks discouraging women from using this safe, effective method of preventing pregnancy. And it’s not just consumers who are affected. Health care providers, pharmacists, educators, parents, and others also need and deserve to have correct and truthful information about what EC is, how it works, and who can purchase it.
This year, the Back Up Your Birth Control campaign is addressing the lies head-on. Our theme is as simple as it is scientifically accurate: EC=BC. EC is a form of birth control. It will not end a pregnancy – not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it is the best decision for a woman and her family. EC will not interfere with a fertilized egg that has already implanted. There is no controversy here, and the scientific and medical communities are unanimous. EC=BC.
So, hoping to reach beyond our usual suspects again this year, we have launched www.ECequalsBC.tumblr.com. Check it out, pass it along, add your own images and thoughts, and join with us as we refuse to leave misinformation unchallenged and insist on creating a conversation in which contraception – of any sort – is the norm and a no-brainer.
Mar 26, 2012
In December of 2011, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s recommendation that the emergency contraception pill Plan B OneStep be permitted to be sold over the counter. Sebelius expressed concern that younger teens and pre-teens were not cognitively advanced enough to use the product without talking to a health care professional. Research published in April’s issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology explored this supposed potential misunderstanding of how to use Plan B by providing an EC product to young women who requested it at a clinic, but not providing further instruction, simply allowing them to read the label. Researchers found that 92 percent of the women in the study correctly selected to use or not use the product, and 93 percent used it according to the instructions on the label. They also found that correct use of the product was not associated with age. That is, a 13 year old was as capable of assessing her need for EC, and taking EC, as was a 17 year old.
Researchers observe that only 3 percent of young people initiate sexual activity before age 13, so therefore, the study’s age range represents the majority of youth ages 17 and under who are in need of emergency contraception. (And, even if participants did use the product incorrectly, it would not cause harm beyond the product’s typical side effects of headache and nausea; Plan B cannot harm an established pregnancy.)
Meanwhile, additional recent research found that some pharmacists are misinformed about EC: in a study in the journal Pediatrics, one-fifth told callers they believed to be 17 years old that they could not access emergency contraception, and 43 percent gave incorrect information about at what age teens can acquire EC without a prescription. While pharmacists can be great partners in helping young people access emergency contraception, including emergency contraception, if they don’t have correct information they create a barrier: a barrier that would not exist if emergency contraception were available over the counter. Common sense says young women can decide if they need EC, and they can take Plan B OneStep’s one pill correctly – and science says so too.
Feb 23, 2012
I don’t know about you but it pisses me off that every time a woman says she’s had an abortion – she is judged for making the right choice for her and her situation. This time Chelsea Handler is under attack.
Now I don’t know about you, but I love comedy. Watching Chelsea Lately’s mix of comedy, news, and celebrity interviews is one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I know she’s made mistakes (we’re all human) but I love her.
She’s revealed the fact that she had an abortion at 16 (quite commendable since it’s a rather personal experience and because of the irrational stigma) on the Rosie O’Donnell show on Wednesday 8, February 2012. Since then, some people (anti-choicers and even some pro-choicers) have come from left and right declaring their opinions on her choice.
Personally, I’m glad abortions are legal (although they’re under constant attack in red states) in the US and I’m not sure why anyone would think to judge her.
_ She was only 16 at the time; it’s not as if she would have been a responsible mother – financially or emotionally. (I believe every child should be wanted and that they should be cared for by capable parents)
_ Her parents did inform her that they wouldn’t help her raise it. (Fine by me – grandparents aren’t supposed to be raising their grandkids except for sad cases where both parents pass away and the children’s aunts or uncles can’t care for them for some reason)
_ If she’d had the child the same people who’re complaining about her having an abortion would be complaining about having to pay welfare for her child. (One reason I support free contraception and the right to have an abortion is because I believe in personal responsibility. If a person has a child; they should be able to provide for that child. I don’t believe it should be my responsibility and/or my fellow taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for that child for 18yrs.)
_ If she’d had the child and given it up to the state foster care system, she’d have added one more child to our broken foster care system.
Don’t judge a person for having an abortion unless you’re willing to take care of that potential child for 18+ years (and even then abortion isn’t just about being pregnant and unable to provide for a child – it’s about the choice to not be a parent. It’s not something everyone wants to be and once you have a child, you’re a parent for life.) Ultimately, abortions are unselfish acts. If that potential child had been born – it would’ve been born to unfit, unready, unloving parents or to parents who loved their child to death but had absolutely no way to provide for it.
And if the potential child was born and placed for adoption it would most likely bounce from foster home to foster home (some of which are dangerous and/or abusive – many have been shown to use multiple phsycotrophic drugs unnecessarily) for its whole life if it doesn’t get adopted within the first five years of its life (research shows that as a child ages; its chances of getting adopted start dropping.) And depending on the woman’s ethnicity the child may have a low chance of getting adopted (research shows that Caucasian babies have a higher chance of getting adopted than babies of minorities.) Not to mention some women personally don’t agree with adoption (though they’re probably fine with others doing it) and will view it as letting strangers raise their child – something they aren’t comfortable with. And the fact that not many foster care children actually get adopted.
In short, no one (pro-choice or anti-choice) has the right to judge a woman for her choice. Chelsea Handler has said she’s glad she decided to have one. She’s said that she wouldn’t have the career she loves today if she hadn’t. And isn’t that what abortions for? A tool (when BC and emergency contraception fail) to help woman stay in control of their bodies and lives to help them fulfill each and every dream they have.
Sources on Adoption and Foster Care Information:
Dec 15, 2011
Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.
December 4- December 10
Stats this week: 39 posts by 26 writers
Inside this post:
Since all of this legal jargon can be tricky even for the Pre-Law students among us, we’ve broken down the things we think every woman should know about the Affordable Care Act, and possible threats to it.
Who Knew Fundamental Rights Could Disappear in a Heartbeat?- by OberlinSURF
Inside this post:
Learn more about the anti-abortion “heartbeat bill” in Ohio.
Inside this post:
Against the recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services have decided that young people under age 17 will not be able to buy emergency contraception without a prescription.
Myths and Messages About HIV- by Media_Justice
Inside this post:
Here are some of the top questions and myths I receive and challenge/rectify when providing HIV education in high schools…
Inside this post:
Here, President Obama and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are the objects of outrage for good reason: their decision to reject the clear-cut medical science in this case exposes their willingness to sacrifice young people and women’s health in the interest of continuing a cowardly brand of politics.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
Dec 14, 2011
I am absolutely outraged with President Obama for supporting the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to enforce age restrictions on Plan-B One Step (emergency contraception) for individuals 17 years of age and younger.
Essentially President Obama is afraid that 10 and 12 year old girls will take/use Plan B (the morning-after pill) without supervision or guidance and get hurt. President Obama is afraid that young girls/women can go inside a drug store alongside bubble gum and batteries and buy a medication, which if not used properly could potentially have an adverse affect. President Obama says, "And I think most parents would feel the same way."
President Obama, I think you are wrong. I believe most parents would rather have their daughter have unrestricted access to PlanB than to find them pregnant. It is already difficult to have conversations about sexual activity with one’s parents. Plan B is most effective if used within 72 hours of unprotected sex. If a young person who is sexually active has had difficulty talking about sex for their entire upbringing, why would President Obama assume the young person would come up with the courage to have this conversation within recommended time frame?
So if the young woman cannot have this conversation with her parent/guardian so she can get Plan B, then where will she go? It only makes the situation more difficult, and I believe this will lead more young women to make more difficult decisions in the future.
Why are we punishing young women for engaging in sexual activity? I believe President Obama decided to oppose the FDA’s recommendation because he is worried political opponents will accuse him of "giving young girls permission to have sex." But his fears won’t stop young people from having sex – and it won’t stop them from needing Plan B. President Obama needs to understand that people are sexual beings and sex is an action that occurs, and young people engage in sexual activity. He is trying to not make Plan B be a panacea for young women who choose to have unprotected sex. I understand this, however, he needs to provide another option, and there is no other option on the table at this moment for young women 17 and under.
The fact is that he is hoping that young people will communicate with their parents regarding their sexual life is a difficult feat in itself, and could potentially lead to young women having to turn to abortion because the former option of preventing pregnancy through the option of Plan B has already been taken off of the table.
Dec 14, 2011
Last week, we were all psyched because the Food and Drug Administration recommended that Plan B One-Step (also known as emergency contraception) be approved over-the-counter for women and young people of all ages…then the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gave the FDA the shaft, with Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ruling that younger adolescents don’t have the same capacity to think as critically as their older peers. Everybody had something to say about it, including Jessica Valenti, Jezebel, NARAL, The Washington Post, doctors groups, The New York Times, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and RH Reality Check.
Then President Obama decided to defend the Secretary Sebelius’s decision, stating that, as a father of two daughters, the government should "apply some common sense" — as opposed to what? Listening to science? While I understand President Obama’s stance and I can see where Secretary Sebelius is coming from to a certain degree, I also understand a couple of things:
2012 is an election year: This is really about the Obama administration taking all necessary routes to make sure that Obama is re-elected in 2012. What better way to assist in that than by appealing to the "moral consciousness" of many people who are undecided if they should vote for Obama or for the yet-unknown Republican candidate, and by throwing young people under the bus in the process?
Making access to contraception more difficult can result in negative consequences: If a 16-year-old cannot get access to Plan B, the chances of experiencing an unwanted pregnancy or having an abortion increase significantly. Thus, if the goal is to decrease the number of abortion procedures and the number of teen pregnancies, it makes sense to provide everyone with access to an array of birth control options, including emergency contraception. Emergency contraception is safe when used as directed, and it can stop unwanted pregnancies from occurring. This is why comprehensive sex education, combined with parent-child communication, is extremely important.
All young people are not the same: Secretary Sebelius’s statement that younger adolescents may not have the same capacity to think as critically as their older peers makes sense on a surface level, but in working with young people throughout the years, I know that not all young people think alike, act alike, and many are more mature and can think critically than many adults give them credit for. In fact, I believe I know more young people who know what Plan B than older adults. Sebelius provided no scientific evidence that would actually say why the FDA is incorrect in their recommendation. To say that younger adolescents do not know how to effectively read a label and take the correct dosage (or that they wouldn’t be able to go to their nearest clinic or to a trusted adult if they have questions) is bizarre and condescending.
The same HHS that vetoed the FDA’s recommendation on Plan B is the same HHS that recommended health insurance companies provide birth control prescriptions with no co-pay starting August 2012: Was the HHS thinking about any potential damaging consequences when this recommendation was made?
Medical science should always prevail: Common sense isn’t so common when it’s used to trump scientific evidence. Politics should not win out over medical science. I expected for President Obama to focus more on the best medical and scientific research.
Though teen birth rates have steadily declined over the years, young women of color still experience unintended pregnancies at a disproportionate rate.
These are some reasons why not making Plan B available over-the-counter affects young women of color:
Significant barriers: Youth of color experience more financial, cultural, and institutional barriers in obtaining health care compared to white youth, and many youth of color are receiving limited access to medical services that can aid in their overall health and wellbeing. Denying young women of color access to emergency contraception over-the-counter, when they are already receiving little or no medical services, places them in a precarious situation.
Abortions on the rise: Women of color are having abortions at higher rates than white women, often because of financial constraints. With no access to Plan B, the rates of abortion will continue to rise for young women, especially young women of color.
Limited proper identification: In order to get any type of prescription, one will need access to proper identification outside of a school ID. How many young people are walking around with proper identification? This can definitely be a problem for young immigrant women.
Negotiating condom use: This places an even greater burden on young women of color who have difficulty in negotiating condom use with their sexual partners.
Yes, President Obama may have been thinking of his daughters when he defended the HHS’s decision to overrule the FDA. However, many young women of color may not be growing up in homes where they have access to healthcare services that the Obama children most likely have. In order to work towards decreasing the rates of unintended pregnancies and abortion for young women of color, we need to make Plan B available for all young people.
Take action with me and many others in telling the Obama administration and HHS to stop preventing the FDA from recommending scientifically based and sound decisions for the health and lives of women and young people.
Dec 13, 2011
Dr. Susan Wood never thought that she’d see this day again.
In August 2005, Wood resigned from her position as Assistant Commissioner and Director of the Office of Women’s Health at the Food and Drug Administration in protest of the Bush administration’s refusal to grant Plan B One-Step emergency contraception over-the-counter status.
In an interview earlier this week with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Wood discussed the Obama administration’s new politically motivated restrictions on Plan B and its unprecedented overruling of its own top medical scientists. The interview is a must-watch:
Also check out Wood’s recent Op-Ed in The Washington Post. Here’s an excerpt:
In his scientific integrity memo [from March 2009], [President Obama] stated:
"When scientific or technological information is considered in policy decisions, the information should be subject to well-established scientific processes, including peer review where appropriate, and each agency should appropriately and accurately reflect that information in complying with and applying relevant statutory standards."
In overturning the well-considered, scientifically based decision of the FDA, Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services certainly did not "appropriately and accurately reflect" the available scientific information. Her precedent-setting action undermines the principles of scientific integrity and science-based policymaking — and could pave the way for a future HHS secretary to overrule the FDA in other areas.
The president should stand by the principles of scientific integrity and restore science to its rightful place. He should support the FDA commissioner and direct the secretary to allow the agency to do its job. By doing so he will fulfill the promise of that beautiful day in March 2009 when he pledged that science would trump politics, not the other way around.
Dec 8, 2011
Disappointed doesn’t cut it anymore.
Disappointed, angry, dismayed — these are only some of the emotions I am feeling this afternoon after hearing President Obama’s poor excuse for restricting access to Plan B One Step.
I am also scared.
Scared about the health of my daughters. As the mother of two daughters, just like President Obama, I try to use "common sense" as much as possible. But, also like President Obama, I am not a doctor; I am not a scientist. I use my own judgment when it comes to things I am confident I can handle — a case of the sniffles, a little cold.
But, I also understand that it is my responsibility as a parent to know when I don’t know all the answers and it’s time to turn to experts. And that, apparently, is where the President and I disagree.
When my daughter’s pediatrician gives me medical advice, I listen. Carefully. American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine make recommendations about my daughters’ health, that matters to me. A lot. And I believe it should.
Today, President Obama has made the irresponsible — and nearly incomprehensible — decision to support HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ move to block the FDA from expanding access to Plan B One-Step emergency contraception. Whether the President’s decision was motivated by well-intentioned ignorance or political cowardice is beside the point. Either way, this move will adversely impact millions of women, particularly young women, across the country.
President Obama has decided to ignore scientific research and medical advice and has sacrificed the health of young women. And I want to know why. Why, Mr. President? Why would you reject years of research and the best scientific thinking the medical community has to offer? Why, for the first time in U.S. history, did your administration intervene to overrule the FDA’s ability to make decision about medical science?
On Monday, I was optimistic. The FDA was expected to expand the availability of Plan B One-Step, a form of back-up birth control that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if something goes wrong with regular contraception. Indeed, the FDA tried to do just that: make Plan B One-Step available to all women — without age restrictions and without needing a prescription. If either of my daughters ever needs back-up birth control, I hope I will be among the first to know and I would help them in whatever way I could. But, life is not always as we want it to be, and therefore, it is essential that young people have the access to the information and services they need to ensure their health and safety. I thought we were headed in this direction on Monday. But, my optimism suddenly turned to dismay.
Yesterday, in a shocking move, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA and blocking its decision to expand access to emergency contraception. I held out a brief hope that President Obama would intervene and allow the FDA to do its job unhampered by politics, but those hopes were soon dashed as well. Today, President Obama came out in support of Secretary Sebelius’ action – and, in doing so, decided to play politics with the lives and health of young women.
To say I was shocked when listening to the President is an understatement. It’s not just that I disagree with his position, it’s that his reasoning is so hollow and unsubstantiated. This Harvard-educated legal scholar who has signed presidential directives about the importance of science-based policy suddenly sounded eerily like Rep. Michelle Bachman. He framed his reasoning “as the father of two daughters,” when my own two daughters most needed him to be acting like the President of the United States. He invoked the specter of 11 year-olds buying Plan B next to “bubble gum and batteries,” as if 11 year-olds wander into CVS to buy $50 medications every afternoon. In the end, he felt that these concerns should overweigh the best advice of every major medical organization, years of research, and the recommendations of the FDA itself. How is this different than Rep. Bachman condemning HPV vaccines because of unscientific misinformation from a woman in the grocery store?
I understand that President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea that young teens may need emergency contraception. That worries me too. Rather than deny them access to a fully safe medication that could help prevent unintended pregnancy, perhaps we should be doubling down on comprehensive sex education — and expanding access to contraception in the first place — so that fewer of our daughters ever need Plan B at all. But, for those who do, we still have a responsibility to make sure that any woman who needs emergency contraception has access to it when they need it.
As I write this my daughters are at school and I am figuring out how to get them a quick dinner before heading off to a school holiday party this evening. Of all the other things, on my to do list today as a working mom, I really did not believe I would be writing about my shock and disappointment in President Obama and, yes, my fear for my daughters’ future.
Was this part of a back-room deal, trading away the rights of all our daughters for some inside-the-beltway political ploy? Mr. President, why? I still want to know. I need something more than your current, cowardly excuses.
Mr. President, many of us were stunned by your remarks today. We need a better explanation for why you decided to sacrifice my daughters’ safety and well-being.
I hope you will join me in expressing your outrage and demanding that President Obama reverse this decision. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION.
Dec 8, 2011
By now, the Obama administration must realize the political firestorm that it has created for itself by overruling the Food and Drug Administration and refusing to expand the availability of emergency contraception to women of reproductive age.
Here, President Obama and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are the objects of outrage for good reason: their decision to reject the clear-cut medical science in this case exposes their willingness to sacrifice young people and women’s health in the interest of continuing a cowardly brand of politics.
Earlier today, President Obama publicly defended the sudden restrictions on over-the-counter emergency contraception (while simultaneously deflecting blame for this decision). Watch him explain his thinking by citing the non-reason that he is the "father of two daughters" (wait — I am the father of two daughters, and therefore I’m happy to support something that degrades their long-term health?):
(Video from ThinkProgress)
The President may think that this petty maneuvering improves his 2012 election chances, but to this we can only say: you should read and listen to all of the condemnation today. Editorial boards across the country, basically the entire progressive movement, and countless women’s rights and reproductive health organizations and advocates have denounced this administration for selling out and bartering away our health care. This isn’t something that anyone’s going to easily forget.
Below we’ve compiled some must-read reactions to the Obama administration’s emergency contraception reversal:
I have one word. P.O.L.I.T.I.C.S.
If we have been reminded of one thing in the past several months, it is that politicians and religious leaders alike will, when it suits them, marginalize the rights and needs of women to advance their own interests and need for power. And somewhere, someone in the Obama Administration, perhaps the president himself, gave the cue to HHS to overrule the FDA decision. And clearly, as she sometimes did as governor of Kansas, Sebelius did the deed.
Because apparently the health and rights of women do not matter, but placating the far right does. Because apparently helping teens actually prevent unintended pregnancies isn’t an authentic a goal of this administration. Perhaps it was among the topics on which President Obama came to "understand the concerns of Catholics [read: the 281 bishops]," as Archbishop Timothy Dolan assured The New York Times after his private meeting with the president.
Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Israeli manufacturer of Plan B, met every standard the FDA uses to evaluate whether or not a drug should be sold over-the-counter with no age restrictions, and they met the standards years ago. In 2005, Bush administration officials also hijacked the over-the-counter approval process, citing vague concerns about the decision-making skills of the under-18 set. The Government Accountability Office excoriated the politicized process that kept Plan B behind the pharmacist counter, noting that out of the 67 proposed prescription-to-OTC switches considered from 1994 to 2004, Plan B was the only one whose application was denied despite the advisory committee’s recommendation for approval.
In other words, we’re seeing a pattern.
Teva applies to sell Plan B over the counter.
The medical experts weigh the evidence and agree with their application.
But political appointees with ties to the White House block the switch, citing vague concerns about the decision-making abilities of teenagers.
It’s hard to understand how the Secretary thought there was good reason to contradict the FDA, especially when many clinicians, members of Congress, reproductive rights advocates and healthcare professionals saw no evidence to prevent Plan B from being over-the-counter. In fact, the effort to make emergency contraception available to all people of reproductive age started six years ago. In 2005, Susan Wood resigned from the FDA because of delays in approving Plan B over the counter. Today, she’s quoted in the Washington Post, saying:
"There is no rationale that can justify HHS reaching in and overturning the FDA on the decision about this safe and effective contraception. I never thought I’d see this happen again."
Good news. It looks like we’ve finally gotten the long awaited post-partisan achievement: the Democrats have joined the war on science. And women! It’s a twofer…
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, reversed the decision, arguing that younger girls, those 11 or 12 years old, have different cognitive and behavioral skills than older girls. She offered no evidence to challenge her agency’s in-depth analysis. And it is hard not to see this as anything but an effort to blunt Republican criticism in the presidential campaign or shield the FDA budget from retaliation. Unfortunately, the losers will be young girls who need easy access to the pill.
In other words, there isn’t enough evidence that a 15-year-old girl has the "cognitive" and "behavioral" ability to read a label and properly take a pill. So, since it’s "common knowledge" that girls under 17 are too stupid and/or immature to undertand how to read a label, it’s safer for them if they have to first get to a doctor who will write them a prescription they can take to the pharmacy — all within 72 hours. Which should be easy for a kid to do, right?
I really thought you were going to hold the football steady this time, Obama. I really did.
I’m an idiot. I keep hoping against hope that you’re not going to throw women under the bus. That you can stand up to the ladies who swoon at the Concerned Women for America. You think they’re going to vote for you because you said no to Plan B?
Make no mistake: Sebelius didn’t go rogue here; there is no doubt in our minds that she was carrying out marching orders from an administration now fully in re-election mode and — for reasons we’re trying and utterly failing to wrap our heads around — fearing backlash from a conservative bloc that regularly sends people like Mark Foley to Congress and Ted Haggard to the pulpit and would sooner undergo voluntary waterboarding than vote for a Democrat anyway.
Despite significant progress in reducing the teen pregnancy rate, about 50,000 girls in California have unwanted pregnancies every year. The FDA conducted extensive research and found that Plan B is safe and effective. It is already sold over the counter in more than 40 nations. Case closed. But not for Sebelius — nor, we can only assume, for Obama.
Finally, the last word goes to the actual health care providers. Three expert groups that represent well over 100,000 medical professionals condemned the Obama administration for prioritizing political gamesmanship over the health and well-being of countless Americans:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College) and the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) denounce the decision today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to overrule an evidence-based decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve an application for over-the-counter access without age restriction to the emergency contraception (EC) product Plan B One-Step. This move defies the strong data that EC is safe and effective for all females of reproductive age.
Nov 30, 2011
Siri, the voice-activated personal assistant baked into Apple’s iPhone 4S, is supposed to be a technological wunderkind. Tell it to generate a list of the best Chinese restaurants in Washington, DC, and it does so in a matter of seconds. Ask Siri to find you local pharmacies that sell, say, Viagra, and it shows you relevant pharmacy addresses and phone numbers in a pinch.
Ask Siri, though, to find you a local abortion clinic (via commands and questions like "Find me an abortion clinic…" or "I need an abortion…" or "Where can I get an abortion?") and Siri comes back with a surprising response:
There is a Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortion services less than a mile from here (in Washington, DC) — and yet Siri only comes back with two recommendations 26 miles and 74 miles away! Far worse, both of these "abortion clinics" are in fact Crisis Pregnancy Centers that do not provide abortion services and attempt to "counsel" women out of having abortions, often through misinformation. For those of us in the sexual health field, this is simply infuriating. For anyone who is genuinely trying to locate medical care, this could result in an hour-long drive only to be met with misinformation, judgment, and scorn.
If you ask specifically for Planned Parenthood, you get this:
Of course, many Planned Parenthood clinics do not provide abortion services — and many other medical facilities do.
When it comes to birth control, things get even stranger. Siri immediately apologizes because it "couldn’t find any birth control clinics" — even though it just pointed out six Planned Parenthood locations!
If you simply want to refill your birth control prescription, you get the same unhelpful response. Weirdly, a generic request about prescription refills pulls up a detailed list of drug stores. Maybe Siri just doesn’t understand how to answer a question about a specific prescription. That would make sense — until you actually ask Siri the question. Need a Viagra refill? You get the exact same helpful list of pharmacies as before.
Searches for "emergency contraception" most often leads to a list of emergency rooms, while requests for "Plan B," "Plan B One Step," and "the Morning After Pill" all result in web searches. These lead to helpful results, but there is no justifiable reason why emergency contraception should be different than looking for Tylenol.
So what’s happening here? One might conclude that this is simply a regrettable instance of product failure (Siri and the iPhone 4S were only released last month, after all), but other results seem to indicate otherwise. For example, tell it to find you the nearest "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" — again, these are anti-choice front groups that brazenly provide their visitors with medically dangerous lies about abortion care — and Siri has no problem at all:
A number of bloggers (hat tips especially to The Abortioneers and Amadi) have done some thorough testing of the Siri platform, in order to figure out if Apple is indeed engaging here in some kind of politically motivated censorship. If so, let’s be clear: such censorship-through-deliberate-programming would amount to nothing less than moral cowardice. And it doesn’t matter if the decision was made by a single engineering team, the company’s executives, or the PR team: abortion services, birth control, and other kinds of reproductive health care are often searched for online, and any hijacking of these commands would represent a cynical but also nonsensical fear about what social conservatives might say about Apple products.
Of course, since we don’t have access to the Siri codebase, we’ll never know for sure. That said, we do know what Apple should do in order to address the problem at hand: it needs to fix Siri immediately so that the above searches yield real AND accurate results. For a company like Apple — whose brand reputation is based in large part on its uncompromising dedication to product design and the end-user experience — fixing Siri to seamlessly handle searches for incredibly common questions like "Where can I find birth control?" and "Where can I find an abortion?" is a complete no-brainer.
Oct 13, 2011
Why would boys be taught about birth control?
This is a question that is commonly asked by both males and females. Birth control is an issue that males and females should both be worried about when they are sexually active, so why do people question why a boy should know about birth chontrol? Say if a boy gets a girl pregnant, and the girl is younger than the boy and she is not knowledgable about the different types of birth control, shouldn’t the boy be able to give advice on what her options are, rather than possibly seeking an abortion? Instead of the boy being naïve, unaware, or denying the fact that the girl is pregnant or thinking that the only way to prevent having a child is abortion, he along with the girl should know about Emergency Contraception (let’s say EC instead of Plan B, b/c there is also another EC pill out now called Ella, along with the generic version of Plan B called Next Choice) . The Emergency Contraceptive Pill (Brands include: Plan B, Next Choice and Ella) are commonly referred to as the “Morning after pill”. It can be used if a woman has unprotected sex, if there was failure in any other type of birth control, or if a woman has been sexual assaulted. It should not be used as a routine form of birth control, and the Emergency Contraceptive Pill does not terminate an already existing pregnancy.
So fellas, wouldn’t you rather know about having the option of purchasing the Emergency Contraceptive Pill, as opposed to purchasing diapers? Just purchasing that ONE pill can costly, about $50 in some pharmacies, however that beats paying 5 times that amount a month (on what?- please include a word here).
So to answer the question “Why would boys be taught about birth control?”… Well, I’ve just shared at least one highly important scenario!! Knowledge on Contraception is for everyone, for more information please text SEXT to 74574 or visit our website at www.southcarolinasafersex.org.
Aug 29, 2011
Every year around the beginning of school, Beloit College releases its notorious “mindset list” : statements that describe cultural realities for entering freshmen. The statements, like this year’s “The Communist Party has never been the official political party in Russia” or “Men have always been Martians, women, Venusians” remind older folks of how times have changed – or not.
In the spirit of Beloit’s work, I’ve compiled a few facts about reproductive and sexual health that have always been true for young people starting college this year (the class of 2015). Some are good news, while in other areas, there’s still some work to be done.
If you are an entering freshman, what would you add to the list? How have these realities shaped your perceptions?
- All federal funding for sex education in public schools, throughout their education, went to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which taught that “sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical side effects.” Source
- There have always been very famous, well-loved, openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
- Films with excessive nudity, violence, or swearing have always been rated NC-17, not X.
- From their birth to their senior year of high school, those in the military who are LGBT faced discharge if they were found out.
- RU-486 has always provided women with a medication option for abortion.
- Plan B emergency contraception has existed as an option to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or sexual assault since they were children, has been available without a prescription since they were 13, and has been available to 17 year olds since they were 16.
- From Beloit’s list: Women have always been kissing on TV.
- The percentage of people who identify as pro-choice has always been declining – but their generation is more pro-choice than their parents.
- True Love Waits has always pressured young people to make religion-based abstinence-until-marriage pledges in high school. Only a small percent of people have remained abstinent until marriage.
- Activists have always been trying to get Congress to pass a law prohibiting employers from firing people because they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual – and Congress has always failed to do so.
- Facebook has existed since they were too young to use it.
- Abortion clinics have always been targeted by violent protestors, who have committed vandalism, arson, and even murder.
- HIV has always existed, but antiretroviral drugs have always prolonged the lives of HIV patients for decades.
- Women have always been able to sue when they experience sexual discrimination or harassment.
- For most, a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer has been available since before they were sexually active.
- Both male and female condoms have always existed, and the demand for Magnums has always been…large.
A hat tip to Felicity Knox of Towson University’s Special Collections and Archives for clueing me into the Mindset List phenomenon!
Aug 15, 2011
Whether you are a political junkie, like me, or not it’s that time again: Campaign Season! It’s the time when we hear from the multiple candidates about their stance on issues and what they want to do for the American people.
First of all, I want to plead that everyone vote! I know many of you say “well my one vote does not matter”, but if everyone said that you will not be heard. Women strived, and starved and died for the right to vote. Whatever side of the coin you are on, I bed you PLEASE VOTE!
Secondly, vote for those who share your values. I have very strong beliefs about who I want to elect to office, but it is not my place to tell you who to vote for. What I ask is that you look at the candidates and see who shares your values. As young women and men we need to pay attention! What I ask is that you elect candidates that are working for you! As sexually active men and women, look at who supports sex education, birth control, emergency contraception and abortion. As students we need to look to those who support more affordable higher education. As graduates we need to support those who want to create jobs, so that when we graduate we can begin a successful career!
I ask you to do you research and participate in our democracy! Every voice and vote counts!! The young people of this country need to be heard, WE are the emerging leaders! Vote and be heard!
Jul 27, 2011
by Bianca Laureano
This is a series of posts from the sexuality course I am teaching this summer. Check out the first week of notes here. If you are interested in receiving some of the readings, syllabus, and workbook assignments please leave a comment with a way to contact you!
Gender & Sexual Orientation
For this class there were some fairly long readings that I had scheduled. The two main readings for our topic on gender were the third chapter in Anne Fausto-Sterling’s book Sexing The Body called “Of Gender & Genitals: The Use & Abuse Of The Modern Intersexual” which will totally challenge everything I taught them the first two days! The other reading is the introduction and first chapter of Julia Serano’s book Whipping Girl which discusses trans people and how our societies have constructed ideas around identity, sex, experience, and ways we may begin to challenge and unlearn. The final reading for the gender section is called Words That Are Transphobic And Why.
The second part of the class will focus on sexual orientation as folks usually confuse gender and sexual orientation, especially when it comes to gender expression and exaggerations! The readings for sexual orientation include a discussion of asexuality based on Dan Savage’s exclusion of this as a sexual orientation, Queertionary 2.0, and the Media Maker’s Salon: Espie Hernandez.
Before I started class for these themes I forgot to lecture on one topic that is important to discussions of sexuality. These are the Circles of Sexuality. We discussed each circle (5 in total) which include reproductive health, sensuality, intimacy, sexual identity, and sexualization. Each circle intersects with the other and we are at the center of that intersection. Reproductive health focuses on managing health care and understanding the postive and negative consequences of sexuality and sexual activities. Sensuality has to do with our sense (touch, vision, hearing, taste, smell) and awareness of our bodies and what we enjoy as well as others ability to enjoy their bodies and experience pleasure. Intimacy is about emotions and being able to create relationships with others (or animals). Sexual identity includes sexual orientation and gender. Sexualization includes using sex as a form of power and coercion to influence and manipulate others. This may include assault, rape, violence, but also things many of us do like flirting and seduction.
I then asked the class what they thought was missing?
I asked where they would put class, race, ethnicity, disability, immigration status, education level, incarceration history, language spoken, and other aspects of our identities. We agreed that these were vital parts of our identities that do inform our sexuality and sexual health in various ways. So, why weren’t they included? And where would they include them? Personally, I include these identities in the center of where the circles meet. Other students believed they would put others in various different circles. I think this is an important discussion to have with students to demonstrate that even in the field of sexuality not everything is included and there are ways to improve and expand the field!
To begin our discussion of gender I discussed the different between sex and gender. Sex being based on biological reproductive organs and genitals that is assigned to us at birth. While gender being more psychological, not having to be connected to the genitals. Yes, this is a very limited way of discussing gender. One of the reasons I begin these conversations in such a way is because I’ve learned that for the past 3 years teaching at this location, students have never had discussions on gender, sex assigned at birth, and trans communities as we will have in our class. I see these as small steps. These are doses of conversations that once begun can then be explored further and then challenged and critiqued. I completely recognize this is limiting, and I acknowledge that and build from a basis to help students unlearn and challenge assumptions and socialization as well as theories and critiques on gender and sex.
Sometimes I begin by asking students to take a few moments and write in their notes what the first time they realized their gender was like. Where were they? Who was there? What was the environment and context? Some students say “I just knew” and this is a useful discussion to have regarding gender and our knowledge of ourselves.
As many sociology courses are known to do, we discuss how sex and gender are social constructions; things that society creates and gives value, importance and meaning. I introduced the phrase “sex assigned at birth” (SAAB) as what we are given/assigned by physicians based on what our genitals look like which is how society has crafted fe/male identities. Because doctors and physicians are a part of society, this is one way SAAB is a social construction. SAAB may also be argued as a social construction because it is happenstance that the decision was made that females have vulvas and ovaries, et. al. and males have penis’ and testicles, et.al. Sometimes students ask “what about what the Bible says,” and my response to that is usually that people interpret the Bible differently, that some people interpret the Adam & Eve story as a transgender narrative. Another reply I have is that this discussion and our ability to have certain types of knowledge is one of the gifts we are given by the universe, god/desses, etc. Other responses I have is that these are arguments people make and they can choose to believe what they want, but they must understand people’s ideologies and why the come to these conclusions. Finally, SAAB may be argued as a social construction because we are able to change our sex, it is not ridged and static.
From here we discuss gender roles, expectations, and expressions. We create a list of how we are socialized into understanding and assuming we are to behave and act based on gender. From this list I introduce gender binaries and ideologies around gender and how folks challenge and affirm gender within these binaries. I then begin to discuss how gender is not just two different options/sexes/genders, that gender is significantly more complicated and to put them in these small spaces limits everyone.
We then begin to discuss transgender communities and refer to the reading by Julia Serano. In her introduction and first chapter, she discusses her reasons for writing her book, her goals, and what she seeks to put forth, challenge and affirm. We discuss masculinity and femininity, and how Serano argues for liberating femininity in specific ways, her challenging of gender binaries as an ideology and approach, and connecting back to SAAB.
This conversation was a challenge for some students. Many became confused with gender expression and identity. One student asked (and I’m paraphrasing) “but when I (a woman) go to play soccer I wear the same clothing as men, this does not make me a trans person or wanting to be a man.” This is a great point and an interesting perspective on where some of us may get confused. I was glad we had read Serano’s article as I could refer to passages she wrote where she states that women have more flexibility with expressing femininity than men are provided. That when men embrace any aspect of femininity they are ridiculed and isolated. We connect this to misogyny as Serano does, and the ideas that masculinity and things that are identified as representing men as being strong and powerful. That men are considered to be the “better” gender because of ideas about differences versus similarities. From this perspective of understanding misogyny, we can understand Serano’s argument that women having a gender expression similar/stereotypically associated with masculinity that it makes “sense” because men are stronger and more powerful, of course a woman would want to dress/behave/do what men do! After explaining this a bit more an connecting with the Serano reading it seemed to “click” for many students.
I then highlighted some of the terms and language that Serano used in her chapter. These included transmisogyny, cis, cissexual and cisgender, and sexism. As with many new terms that are introduced at certain points in our lives, they were a bit confusing for some, on how to properly use them what they represent, if they are adjectives, nouns, or verbs. I asked what their reactions were in discovering terms that may describe some of them, labels that trans people have come up with to identify them. I then referred to the Queertionary 2.0 reading that included terminology that has also been created by trans and gender queer people, these included ze and hir. We had a brief discussion of how language can also shift and change when we begin to challenge and question our socialization and build more inclusive and libratory communities.
One example of this limitation would be people who are intersex. This is when the third chapter of Anne Fausto-Sterling’s book is useful. I introduced intersexuality and defined it very generally as “ambiguous genitalia.” I often find that some students want to know specific details of genitals that are considered ambiguous even when they may not be clear what their own genitals look like! Instead of giving them specifics, we talk about how we may know if an enlarged clitoris is a clitoris or a penis. One way to know this is that a urethra passes through the penis and if one is present we understand that body part to be a penis. I also mention that there is nothing wrong with have a large(r ) clitoris and that these ideas are often connected to our ideas of “normalcy” which we all have a responsibility to challenge.
Instead of discussing each of the most common types of intersexuality that occurs, as Fausto-Sterling does a great job of outlining them in an accessible way in her book, we discussed a societal response to intersex people. We talked first about why doctors and parents may rush to perform surgery on babies, what motivations the doctors and the parents have and if they are the same. We also discussed in what capacity someone would know if they were intersex if they were not told, if the idea by parents and doctors is for them to have “normal” looking genitals how would they know what “normal” is? What images in our society and families may help us understand what “normal” genitals look like when we do not all live in societies where we show our genitals to others outside of specific encounters.
As part of their preparation for discussing intersex communities and experiences I had them watch a four part series of a documentary following Caster Semenya, a South African track runner (videos below). You may remember conversations about Semenya, as some of her competitors were suspicious on why and how she was so much faster than them and winning often (i.e. the faster in track is a few seconds). We discussed what was seen in the documentary, how Semenya coped with what was going on, how the world now knew what her chromosomal make up and genitals may look like (when ironically a majority of us do not know our chromosomal make up and some still don’t know what our own genitals look like because we have not ever looked in a mirror!) Many students vaguely remember Semenya, or what the societal and institutional response was to her. They were each disappointed in the response and all picked up on the fact that although Semenya was one of the fastest women runners in the world, she was not the fastest and she was not close to the fastest man runners in the world. I hope that if they one day find themselves in a position to support an intersex person they are able to remember our class and their experiences and responses to Semenya’s story.
Originally I did not put these two topics after one another. The reason for that is because often students confuse sexual orientation with gender. I often like to do separate days and lectures for each topic, however, since we only meet three times a week for a few hours and I had some guest speakers coming in, this was one of the only options I had to discuss both topics in depth.
I began by making it clear that students understood WHY gender and sexual orientation were separate. I asked them why they thought they were different and heard their responses. We then made a list of the sexual orientations that they have heard about or are familiar with. The list we created as a group included: lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, and queer. As is often something that happens the group forgot that heterosexuality is a sexual orientation. I used this opportunity to remind them that this is a good example of how we are normalized to understand and see heterosexuality as “normal” in our society.
I explained that sexual orientation is not just about sex. It is an attraction and a connection. That sometimes these connections and attractions are physical and/or sexual, but when thinking about how they identify their sexual orientation it is more inclusive and centers connections that are also spiritual, emotional, sensual, and fulfilling in various ways. That when we think of sexual orientation think of who you may want to spend your life with, build a family with, and find comfort. It is far more complex than engaging in sexual activities.
Part of their readings for this section was focused on discussing asexuality as a sexual orientation. One reading focused on Dan Savage recent ignoring of asexuality as a sexual orientation and how harmful and inappropriate that approach is for a sexuality educator. The Queertionary 2.0 also acted as a good resource. Some students confuse asexuality with celibacy. So, I made it clear that brothers, sister, monks, and nuns may have their own sexual orientation, but their vow of celibacy means they are not acting upon their desires, but that does not mean they never existed!
We also discussed the difference between bisexuality and pansexuality. Some students did not see the difference and my explanation was that people who identify as pansexual may often “date the people they like” regardless of gender expression, sex assigned at birth, and identities. That often folks who identify as bisexual may be clear that they are attracted to a specific gender expression and sex assigned at birth, that the term alone is a good example of clearly being interested in people who are a part of the gender binary and that is ok!
I then went through a discussion of how trans people also have a sexual orientation. That being trans is a about gender, not sexual orientation; a completely different part of our identity. I explained that if a trans woman partnered with a another woman that would be a lesbian relationship; if a trans woman partnered with a man that relationship is heterosexual, if a trans man partnered with a man that is a gay relationship and if a trans man partnered with a woman that is a heterosexual relationship. Again, just as with intersex, some students get caught up on the genitals. These relationships are not always about genitals. I make it clear that it is none of our business what two (or three or four) people do in their relationship with their genitals unless we are one of those people. That to assume that a coupling would participate in certain sexual activities is problematic, and sexual behaviors do not define us. Since we had already discussed anatomy and physiology, we know where nerve endings are located on our body so it makes sense if some folks find pleasure in certain activities that we may not enjoy for ourselves. These are important things to know about ourselves for our partners, but they are not to be used to oppress other people’s pleasure, that is a misuse of power.
Now, some folks confuse these two: gender and sexual orientation, also because some folks may not perpetuate a stereotypical gender expression. That some people who identify as something other than heterosexual, that their gender expression challenges what we assume and are socialized to understand men and women presenting and exaggerating. I use myself as an example and share that my gender expression is very stereotypically feminine. Yet, my students do not know what my genitals look like or what my SAAB was just as I do not know what theirs is. We base those off of gender expression. Because I wear dresses, have long hair, my name is “feminine,” my voice is high, my body has fat deposited in places we assume is correct for “curvy” figures, and I wear make up (to name a few), I express femininity in this way. That does not mean that folks can assume what my sexual orientation is by looking at me. Some folks who are women may express their gender in what we understand to be stereotypically masculine qualities and that is also not grounds to assume anything about someone’s sexual orientation. Gender expression is about what we feel comfortable doing that day, how we wish to present ourselves to the world and for some people it is connected to gender, for others it may be connected to sexual orientation, or for others connected to both.
A video I asked them to watch before class was Jay Smooth’s “An Old Person’s Guide to ‘No Homo’” which I find to be accessible, and sadly, still relevant. Check the video out below:
They also watched the film Mariposa about Espie Hernadnez’s experience with planning her quinceñera (sweet 15). Some folks did not know what a quinceñera was so this was a new experience for them. Many of my students are from the Spanish-speaking Caribbean where quinceñera’s are not always/often celebrated as in other Central and South American communities. One question was if Espie was “pushing” her sexual orientation onto her parents. I explained that for this rite of passage it assumes heterosexuality, thus it is a heterosexist rite of passage, which also privileges heterosexual people. For Espie to request she be partnered with her girlfriend for her quinceñera is challenging hetersexism and also speaks to her desire to be true to herself and truthful and honest with her family. Check out Mariposa below:
The next class is a quiz (if you want to know what the quiz questions were to practice or quiz yourself let me know in the comments and I’ll send them to you) for the first hour in short answer format with a diagram for students to complete. We then discuss pregnancy and birth options with our first guest speaker!
Again, if you want to know the quiz questions, let me know! Some sample quiz questions I offered students to prepare and try to answer in short question format include:
1. What is the path sperm goes to exit the body?
2. Is PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) real? Support your opinion.
You’ll notice that we did not discuss PMS specifically when we discussed the menstrual cycle, however it was in the textbook readings and they are responsible for those readings even if we do not discuss them in depth in class. Also, in the syllabus are lists of terminology that are important to know. Many of these terms I discuss in class but if not they are in the text and readings and they are still responsible for know.
Pregnancy Options and Birth
Our guest speaker is someone that I’ve mentioned here before, my doula mentor Sparkle. I asked Sparkle to talk about her experiences working with pregnant and parenting people and providing support for them as well as what occurs during pregnancy and birthing options. To prepare for this session, students were reading Doula Right Thing: About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts which discusses how to work with trans and genderqueer people who are pregnant and how to discuss genitals without assigning a gender to them. They were also asked to watch clips from the documentary “The Business of Being Born” which discusses the medicalization of birth, home births, working with midwives and doulas, and how medication given to pregnant people at the hospital impacts the body and baby. The clips are below:
Before Sparkle began to present I defined three terms for students: fertilization, implantation, and human chorionich gonadotrophin (HCG). Fertilization is when a mature egg hooks up with a mature sperm. Some folks believe this is when “life” begins, but I am going to leave that definition of “life” up to individual students. Implantation is when the fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine/endometrial lining which helps nurture it and grow into a fetus. HCG is considered the “pregnancy hormone” as this is what is trying to be detected in home pregnancy tests and pregnancy tests at doctors and clinics. I made it clear that home pregnancy tests do NOT have to be expensive and that the dollar store tests work just as well as the expensive name brand ones.
One of the reasons I have Sparkle come to my class to discuss pregnancy and birth options (she came last year as well) is because it is one topic that I do not enjoy discussing. I’m honest with students about this (just as I don’t like discussing deviance in introductory sociology courses) but I do it! However, if I can get an expert who is excited about pregnancy and birth I’d prefer them to have someone to talk to versus myself who is not as excited about the topic. Sparkle basically went through this article and discussed each point in detail and incorporated a personal narrative and story when appropriate. In addition, Sparkle suggested this article about pregnancy and birth for future reference. She also took questions as they came up.
Sparkle shared that as a birth doula she may be present for the birth of the baby and the birth of the placenta providing pain management and support for the birthing parent. She also noted that she is also a support for parents after pregnancy where she will help with breastfeeding, cleaning, coping with parenting, and making sure the transition from being pregnant to being a parent is smooth.
Many students were surprised to hear that working with a midwife in a home birth or a birthing center is significantly less expensive than working with an OB/GYN in the hospital. They were also surprised to hear about how an episiotomy (when the perineum must be cut or severed to help the baby move through the vaginal canal) done by midwives who often allow the perineum to tear are more careful to stitch up the perineum than doctors are who cut the perineum which requires more stitches and a longer recovery time. I have one student who is a parent and chose to share her experience with childbirth with the class. She shared that she felt very empowered by her doctor who supported her desire for a “natural” birth (i.e. no medication) and that to this day she is proud of her accomplishment. It was such a privilege to have her share her birthing story and for it to be one that is positive as she will carry that with her for the rest of her life!
Contraceptives and Birth Control
This session focuses on contraceptive and birth control options. For a social and historical perspectives on how these options have been used as coersive forms of population control among people with disabilities, working class and working poor people, and people of Color in the US (and abroad) we read a chapter from Dorothy Robert’s book “Killing The Black Body.” This chapter is called “The Dark Side of Birth Control” which focuses on how birth control advocate Margaret Sanger worked toward making contraceptives and birth control available but also how she aligned herself with eugenicists and the eugenics movement in the US that worked to eliminate racially Black people (and other non-white people) as well as those with disabilities. This chapter is very long! But it provides such an important amount of information about how people’s bodies were seen as valuable, disposable, and how racism, classism, ableism, and ageism played a role in the US history of reproductive health.
I then discussed the difference between the terms contraception and birth control. The term “birth control” does exactly what it says: prevents a birth from occurring. Contraception attempts to limit fertilization, an egg and sperm hooking up. As a result, birth control may allow fertilization and implantation to occur, however a birth does not occur. I then made a list of hormonal and non-hormonal methods and said that after we discuss each we will be able to identify which are contraceptives and which are birth control.
Hormonal methods discussed included a list that students provided: oral birth control pills (obcp), Depo-Provera (the shot), Nuva-Ring, Reproductive Patch, Mirena (IUD), Implants, and Emergency Contraception/Morning After Pill. The non-hormonal methods we discussed included male and female condoms, Paraguard (IUD), diaphragm, spermicides, natural family planning/calendar method, sponge, cervical cap, withdrawal, sterilization (tubal ligation, essure, and vasectomy), breastfeeding, abortion, and abstinence. One website I offered for students to check out prior to this class was Bedsider which offers a discussion of almost each method in depth and in an accessible way. I had samples of each (except for the cervical cap, sponge, implant, and Depo-Provera). We discussed each method, how it is supposed to work, what the side effects are, what folks like and do not like about the method and the cost.
When discussing EC, I shared that it is available over-the-counter for folks over the age of 16 in NYC and the cost may range from $20-60 depending on what that pharmacy chooses to charge. I also indicated that I’m not sure how men who go to the pharmacy to purchase this are treated and if they are given EC. I’m not aware of any men who have tried to get EC and what their experiences were (this may be a great social experiment for some of you reading!). I also noted that if men are not provided with EC when they request it, since men should also know about EC, that it is a good example of leaving contraception and birth control up to the person with the vulva, and that pharmacists are making assumptions about someone’s genitals based on their gender expression. The man in front of them may have a sex assigned at birth that requires them to need EC.
We also discussed how lesbians (some of which I have in my classroom) often think they do not need birth control or contraception, however, again we do not know what our future holds, and it may be that we find ourselves in a relationship with someone who is a woman but whose sex assigned at birth is male and that is a lesbian relationship, but one where if penetrative vaginal intercourse is occurring a barrier method and/or birth control option is needed. Plus, barrier methods like condoms, dental dams, gloves, and finger condoms are useful for many folks regardless of sexual orientation.
Finally we ended with discussing abstinence, which I defined as “waiting to have sex.” I shared that many people define abstinence differently and that “waiting” may mean waiting until you get condoms, waiting until you graduate college, get married, fall in love, whatever! That it is important for each of them to define abstinence for themselves and to be comfortable sharing that with any of their partners. It is also important to discuss what abstinence means to them and to their partner as they may have different definitions as well. We also discussed how abstinence may not work such as instances in domestic violence situations where a person who may not want to have sex with their partner may need to for safety and survival purposes, or when someone is a victim and survivor of rape.
Although I included abortion in our list of non-hormonal methods, I leave that up for a separate class lecture where we will discuss what the procedures actually include, laws surrounding abortion, and debunking myths. We will also discuss female sexual dysfunction and how that is diagnosed and discussed among the sexology community.
Jul 21, 2011
Today Amplify is joining the National Women’s Law Center and Planned Parenthood as a contributor to their Birth Control Blog Carnival. A number of wonderful organizations and writers are participating — you can find a compilation of all of the reflections and analyses on the NWLC’s blog.
Earlier this week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the independent health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a set of groundbreaking recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about preventive health care. Among other things, the IOM has called for FDA-approved birth control to be available without co-payments for all U.S. health insurance plans.
As we wrote yesterday, it’s important to remember that these recommendations are just that: the IOM has done its part, but now it’s the Obama administration’s turn to make sure that these recommendations are implemented faithfully and completely. (If you haven’t already, take two minutes to urge President Obama and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to adopt the IOM guidance in full.)
Now, many in the news media have presented this story using some simple us-versus-them framing. A number of articles and editorials that have covered the IOM’s new report weave in quotes from the usual opponents of basic reproductive health, including the laughably anti-family Family Research Council — a fringe group notorious for propagating lies about emergency contraception. In response to the IOM recs, a Family Research Council spokesperson warned that the federal government should not endorse "controversial [contraceptive] services just to placate the abortion industry." Such a conspiracy-driven conflation of contraception and abortion isn’t accidental. Indeed, it perfectly illustrates where exactly far-right groups have decided to draw their line in the sand. They’re not only against abortion rights. But they’re also dead-set against any kind of birth control access and the very idea of birth control itself. They are, ultimately, opposed to letting women and their families access basic health care.
It’s time to stop pretending that there is even a penumbra of a real contraception "debate" here. Read the relevant news coverage this week, and you’ll quickly find out who makes up the two opposing sides here:
- In favor of expanded birth control coverage: "Obstetricians, gynecologists, public health experts and Democratic women in Congress hailed the recommendations."
- Against contraceptive access: "The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and some conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, denounced the recommendation on birth control."
(The above list is taken from a New York Times article published this Tuesday.)
In other words — on one side, you have clinicians and health care providers, medical and social scientists, and public officials who have actually worked with and served the people and communities that the IOM’s report is intended to help. Practitioners whose operative tools are empirical investigation, empirical evidence, and science-backed consensus. On the other end (at the very extreme end), you have the Family Research Council, a group whose expertise is a particular brand of loud-mouth political campaigning — i.e., an ideological, armchair spoiler that knows nothing about actual health delivery. And then you have the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, an institution that must be befuddled by the fact that 98% of Catholic women (who have had sex) have defied its supremely wise counsel and used contraception.
This is all to say that the ethical verdict and the sheer numbers are on our side. Millions of American women and their families use birth control in order to take responsibility for their health — and they would be helped that much more if they knew that their most important health care decisions won’t ever have to be compromised by a lack of money or the vagaries of the economy.
Hopefully, the choice for the Obama administration is already clear. There are the ideologues. And then there’s the American majority. Best to listen to those who know that reproductive health care IS and will always be preventive health care.
Jul 20, 2011
We just sent out the following alert to our Youth Activist Network. Will you take 2 minutes to read it and sign on? Thanks! -N
In a groundbreaking report that has the power to reshape women’s access to preventive services, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has called for birth control to be available without a co-pay for all U.S. health insurance plans.
As the Affordable Care Act (health care reform) starts to take effect, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the independent, non-partisan Institute of Medicine to recommend additional preventive care services that all women should be entitled to at no cost under their insurance plans. These recommendations from the IOM are a critical first step — but their recommendations must now be formally accepted and implemented by HHS and the Obama Administration.
If enacted, the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations will have an enormous impact on the health and lives of women — particularly young women — across the U.S. Specifically, five of the IOM’s recommendations make important advances in sexual and reproductive health:
- Annual counseling on sexually transmitted infections for sexually active women.*
- Counseling and screening for HIV infection on an annual basis for sexually active women.
- FDA approved contraception (including emergency contraception!), patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.
- Counseling and screening for interpersonal and domestic violence.
- Yearly well-woman preventive care visits to obtain recommended preventive services.
* STI screening is already covered.
So what does this mean? If accepted by the Department of Health and Human Services, these services would be available at no cost (i.e., without a co-payment) to women with health insurance.
Though these regulations would only apply to women with health insurance, it would greatly expand available services and reinforce that contraception is central to basic preventive medical care.
Unfortunately the same organizations that push abstinence-only-until-marriage are already trying to portray these science-based, evidence-based recommendations as "radical" and "out of the mainstream." These distortions put ideology above science and public health — and are designed to intimidate the Obama Administration into watering down the IOM’s recommendations.
Senior Manager of Domestic Policy
Advocates for Youth
P.S. Along with other pro-choice organizations, Advocates for Youth has been collecting petition signatures in support of no-cost contraception. Once you fill out the first alert, please join more than 5,000 other advocates and sign the petition!
Jul 12, 2011
I’m extremely excited to be able to share some of WV FREE’s (a reproductive justice organization in West Virginia) new youth resources on Amplify’s blog. With so much misinformation, outright lies and superstitions surrounding sexuality and safe sex, WV FREE has decided to devote our new mini-site www.wvfree.org/getaplan entirely to reproductive health & options for teens in West Virginia.
On our “Get a Plan” page you’ll find accurate information about safe sex, contraceptive effectiveness, and a full-range of pregnancy options.
The next page, “Know Your Rights, Know the Facts” outlines the legal system for minors seeking an abortion. Because of the high number of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in West Virginia (clinics that masquerade as a center for women’s health and are usually run by extreme anti-choice groups) we felt it was necessary to provide a place for young people to find out all their legal options when faced with a difficult decision about a pregnancy.
As one young man shouted out during the last “Emergency Contraception” training I taught—“Knowledge is power.” Which is why our last page, “Be the Change” is designed to provide West Virginia youth with information about how to advocate for themselves and their peers at the state and national level.
I hope even if you’re not from the great Mountain State you’ll check out our new resources on our www.wvfree.org/getaplan website, including our fabulous YouTube videos starring…a loveable “horny” rhino! Check it out here–http://youtu.be/e0-odYncW8w and let us know what you think.
Let’s start with education. Let’s end with empowerment.
Jun 29, 2011
Adolescent pregnancy and Emergency Contraceptive’s use
Emergency contraception refers to back -up methods for contraceptive emergencies which women can use within the first few days after unprotected intercourse to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Emergency contraceptive are not suitable for regular use. Emergency contraceptive can be used when condom breaks, if a diaphragm or cervical cap slips out of place during intercourse, after sexual assault, or any time unprotected intercourse occurs.
Emergency contraceptive pills are sometimes called the morning after pill but they are usually effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse. The WHO recommended regimen for emergency contraception is 1.5 mg of levonorgestrel as a single dose. EC pills should be used within 72 hours and intrauterine device should be inserted within 5 days to prevent pregnancy. An IUD can also be fitted as an emergency contraceptive up to five days after sex. It has to be fitted by a specially trained doctor or nurse.
The adolescence is a time in which individuals explore and develop their sexuality, gender and sex role. These factors have profound influence on a young person’s current and future health through exposure to safe or unsafe sexual practices. Unprotected premarital sexual relations are taking place at earlier ages giving rise not only to problems of unwanted pregnancy and childbearing, but also to induced abortion in hazardous circumstances, to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) leading to AIDS. Adolescent childbearing is a phenomenon that has significant impact at personal, societal and global levels. Early child bearing has many health and social implications for adolescent girls and can shape her entire future. Childbearing marks the end of education and limits a women’s opportunity of employment prospects as well as the potentials for acquiring skills to deal with a wide range of experiences in the outside world.
An unwanted pregnancy in an unmarried adolescent girl can either result to induced abortion or early and unplanned marriage (through elopement, or under coercion by parents). The ‘single mother’ concept is not yet acceptable in Nepalese society. Unintended pregnancies are terminated secretly with the assistance of unskilled persons. Moreover, such abortions are likely to take place later in the pregnancy thereby involving greater risks to life, health and future fertility of young girl.
Unmet need for family planning among adolescents is twice as high as among the adult population, despite undeniable risks: young women aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely as women in their twenties to die in childbirth, and of the 14 million teenagers who give birth each year, many face serious pregnancy-related illnesses and at least 5 million undergo unsafe abortion.(UNFPA; Giving Girls Today and Tomorrow. Breaking the cycle of Adolescent Pregnancy)
For biological, cultural and economic reasons, sexual and reproductive risks are higher among adolescent women. Pregnancy is the leading cause of death for young women aged 15 to 19 worldwide with complications of childbirth and unsafe abortion being the major risk factors. Teenage girls are not physically mature are at greater risk of obstructed labor, pregnancy induced hypertension and obstetric fistula. Girls aged 15-19 are twice likely to die in child births as those in their 20s, and girls under 15 are five times as likely to die as those in their 20s.
The median age at first sexual intercourse among age 20-49 is 17.2 years and is identical to the median age at first marriage, suggesting that Nepalese women generally begin sexual intercourse at the time of their first marriage. The median age at first sexual intercourse among men age 20-49 (19.7 years) is two and a half years higher than among women in the same age group, primarily because men tend to marry later than women and, presumably, even among men sexual intercourse tends to initiated upon marriage. Nevertheless, the median age at first sexual intercourse among men aged 20-49 is one year earlier than median age at first marriage, indicating that some Nepalese men do initiate sexual intercourse prior to marriage.
Nepal is also a country with fairly high adolescent fertility rates. The high rate of adolescent childbearing is a result of early age at marriage for females. One of the measures to check the early childbearing is to use contraception since age at marriage is associated with socio-cultural factors in Nepal as a result it is not possible to rise marriage age in a short period of time. It is also true that young people may be unaware of their risk of pregnancy and unsure where to obtain family planning services and what types of services are offered. Young people often do not seek information or care, because they believe that they are at little or no risk of any problems.
Despite programming and messages encouraging delayed sexual debut and abstinence, many youth have unplanned intercourse. Some youth have sex sporadically, which makes contraceptive planning difficult. Others experience contraceptive failure and their failure rates may be higher than adults due to their inexperience. Also, many young women experience coerced sex, including rape. Making Emergency contraceptives (ECPs) accessible to adolescents can help prevent unintended pregnancy. The prevention of unintended pregnancy in turn prevents the risks that adolescent pregnancy poses for mother and child, including abortions. In addition, providing ECPs can provide adolescents with a bridge to other reproductive health services. Therefore preventing unintended pregnancy among them is the important concern. Sexually active young women are having special needs for contraception. They are eligible to use variety of the available contraceptives. Introduction of emergency contraception (EC) in the recent past has helped them to avoid such unintended pregnancies.
Jun 23, 2011
Ohio HB 125, or the “heartbeat bill” could come to a floor vote as early as NEXT WEEK in the Ohio House of Representatives. This bill will make abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is before some women even know they are pregnant. This is the farthest reaching abortion restriction ever, and will be tied up in the courts for years, and funded by Ohio tax payers.
The Heartbeat Bill is supported by an organization called Faith2Action. This group states that their main goal is to completely ban abortion. Below is their press conference when the bill was introduced. Note the sick analogue with the heart balloons. Really?
Also note this really creepy call to actoin video they put out. Weird dude with the glasses is Speaker Batchelder.
On a positive note, Ohio legislators reintroduction of the Ohio Prevention First Act. This bill includes comprehensive sexual health education, the development of a teen pregnancy prevention state-wide taskforce, increases contraceptive access, and ensures rape victims’ access to emergency contraception in the ER.
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio participated in a press conference on the Ohio Prevention First Act. As more information about this bill is released I will follow up! This video features Representative Nickie Antonio, an amazing advocate from reproductive rights and LGBT rights.
Jun 8, 2011
Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.
May 29- June 4
Stats for this week: 41 posts by 26 writers
Inside this post:
HemlyMO explains why and how we need to fix our foster care system, which in some states currently discriminates against LGBT parents, individuals, and children.
Inside this post:
Ariela Migdal of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project provides some great information and resources to middle and high school students about the federal protection their schools are required to provide them.
My Plan B Experience- by clarakbrown
Inside this post:
Clara shares her story of having to use emergency contraception. I think this is a very relatable experience, and I’m glad it’s being talked about.
Inside this post:
The reasoning given for performing these tests? The military wanted to protect itself from accusations of sexual assault or rape during the revolution by proving that the female protesters weren’t virgins in the first place.
As if virgins can’t be rape…
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
My posts this week:
Protest/Counter Protest for LGBT Equality and Reproductive Freedom in Chicago
Illinois Passes State DREAM Act!
Gay and Transgender teens win crowns at prom in Maine, Florida, and Virginia
SlutWalk Chicago: A March to End Rape Culture
Jun 5, 2011
While many countries are hopefully moving forward towards more liberal laws for abortion and contraception Russia is taking a step back and making more restrictions. While the country was not particularly progressive on this front in the first place, it seems particularly dangerous that they are making further restrictions in this area. And the reason for this? To advance their birth rate. The worst part in all is that the law targets to restrict those who are least fit to have a family or have children: restrictions are to be made against the unmarried around right to an abortion or emergency contraception.
Apr 4, 2011
Each week, I’ll be posting a list of the most news-worthy and/or inspirational, informative, well-written, thought-provoking, and/or unique posts of the week. While every post and every contributor is valuable to our community, these are the blogs that I feel are must-reads.
March 27- April 2
Stats for this week: 50 posts by 35 writers
Inside this post:
Appearing on Ugandan television last week…Information Minister Masiko Kabakumba announced that the Museveni administration has determined that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is redundant, citing existing national laws that already make being gay a crime punishable by life imprisonment.
Sign the Petition: Remove the Economic Barrier to Birth Control- by Amplify_Staff
Inside this post:
More than half of women aged 18 – 34 say that the cost of prescription birth control has made it hard for them to use birth control consistently. Removing the economic barrier to birth control would have a major impact on young people’s lives.
Speaking Up for Sex Ed in Texas- by miniMIZE
Inside this post:
February and March have been busy for our Youth Leadership Council activists here in Texas. Across the state, they have been engaging their peers and advocating for medically-accurate, comprehensive sex ed.
I am thoroughly impressed. These activists continually inspire.
Inside this post:
Two representative from the ACLU talk about South Dakota’s depressing new anti-abortion law, and how they’re teaming up Planned Parenthood to fight back!
Warning! Dangerously Disgusting Sexualization Ahead- by KarachiYWOCLC
Inside this post:
Karachi provides humorous commentary on a music video by 12-year-old Jenna Rose, or, as Karachi describes it, the “manifestation of a phenomenon that I like to call ‘The Other Side of Bieber Fever’.“
Inside this post:
Richael, who attended the 55th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, shares a ton of info about emergency contraception and sexual health and talks about how understanding the facts can help us save lives.
Inside this post:
Mackenzie responds to an ignorant comment she received in response to our No-Cost Birth Control Petition.
Unfortunately, I also had a "friend" comment that this was stupid and wasteful, because it would be spending his tax dollars to pay for birth control that "stupid, irresponsible, forgetful girls" wouldn’t even use consistently.
Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!
My post this week:
Kurt/Blaine Kiss on Glee: Fan Reaction Videos Give Me Hope
Mar 30, 2011
At the end of February, I had the amazing experience of attending the 55th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York with Advocates for Youth. The sessions I attended covered many different issues, from comprehensive sex education to violence against women to education of young women. However, from three days that I spent at CSW, one memory stands clear: people do not understand emergency contraception.
It happened more than once – representatives from different NGOs, in the United States and abroad, called emergency contraception (EC) “the abortion pill”. One particular participant launched into a description of what happened after her friend took the pill, including the torrents of blood that spilled out of her and the death of the fetus. However, we know that emergency contraception does nothing to a pregnancy that has already begun. If the egg has implanted in the uterus, taking those two pills will do absolutely nothing. There will be no flood of blood, because there is nothing in there to expunge. The biggest side effect that a girl may have is short-term vomiting – something that almost any medication can cause.
It is well-known that there have been countless struggles over EC, both domestically and internationally. The makers of Plan B, a common brand of EC, as well as several advocacy organizations (including Planned Parenthood) lobbied for several years to get emergency contraception available over-the-counter in U.S. pharmacies (the FDA finally approved this type of sale for women over 17 in 2006). Thanks to the work of organizations around the world, EC is now available in 140 countries worldwide. However, work still needs to be done. The Chilean government used to provide EC to girls over 14 free of charge, until a court declared in 2008 that it was unconstitutional. This video shows more.
Even though it is now widely available in the developed and developing world, youth – who need EC the most – face the most barriers to obtaining it. 15-30% of sexually active girls in developing countries report that their first sexual encounter was coerced or forced. Half of all sexual assaults globally are against girls younger than 15. In Brazil, 58% of currently pregnant women say their pregnancies are mistimed or unwanted. 4.4 million females between the ages of 15 to 19 have abortions every year.
Adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 are two times more likely to die during childbirth than older mothers. Mothers under the age of 14 are five times more likely to die. Young mothers are often more likely to suffer from obstructed labor because their bodies are not prepared for childbirth. Obstructed labor, if not properly treated – and it is often not treated in developing countries – often leads to the death of the infant and the mother. The babies of teenage mothers are more likely to have a low birth weight, be born prematurely, or die. Young mothers are also less likely to complete their schooling, and are often ostracized by their communities.
Emergency contraception can help to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, not to mention reduce maternal mortality and infant mortality. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that, in the United States, more than 50,000 abortions were prevented by EC use in 2000; this accounts for 43% of the total decline in the number of abortions nationally. Access to EC in developing countries will help to reduce the number of unsafe abortions.
Girls who use EC are also more likely to begin using other forms of contraception. A study of 205 students in Jamaica revealed that 55% of those who used ECP adopted another method of contraception, such as the birth control pill, afterwards. A similar study in Mexico found that the use of EC is associated with increased probability of condom use.
So, why don’t adolescents use EC more often to prevent unwanted pregnancies after their other forms of birth control fail? In the 140 countries were EC exists, many adolescents simply do not know it is available, or have the same misconceptions as the young woman did at CSW. They oftentimes do not feel comfortable going to a clinic or pharmacy to ask for EC, due to fear of stigmatization, rude and judgmental staff, or fear that their family will find out. If a clinic or pharmacy is not open 24-hours a day or is nearby, the girl may miss the 72-hour window in which EC has the best chance of working. In many cases, she cannot afford EC.
Much work needs to be done to ensure that adolescents have safe, easily available, and affordable access to EC. Access to EC is guaranteed by the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, which states, “Information and services should be made available to adolescents to help them understand their sexuality and protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and subsequent risk of infertility.” Policymakers need to make sure that girls and health workers are educated about EC, including about its availability; make the product more available by ensuring that it is available in pharmacies and over-the-counter; reduce the stigma around using EC by training health workers; and eliminating any other barriers that may exist. Countries that do not make EC available must be pressured by NGOs and international agreements to legalize EC as a way to improve health and reduce the number of abortions.
It goes without saying that EC shouldn’t be needed. Every girl, boy, woman and man has the right to family planning and to be safe from rape and sexual assault. But the world isn’t always safe, mistakes happen, and condoms break. Therefore, emergency contraception needs to be available to everyone everywhere.