Category > Health Care
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Mar 11, 2014
This past Friday I was privileged to see President Barack Obama speak at Coral Reef High School. It was truly an honor to be up close and personal with the nation’s 44th president. He visited South Florida to speak with the senior class at Coral Reef High School about the options that they have for continued education. President Obama and his wife strongly advocate for students to be able to obtain a higher education. Applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA was stressed throughout the president’s speech. He explained that last year millions of dollars were left on the table simply because students did not fill out the FAFSA to see what aid they were eligible for. President Obama encouraged all of the students to fill out the FAFSA to ensure they have a chance at obtaining a higher education.
The overall experience of meeting the President of the United States was mind blowing. As he spoke I was flushed with a number of different emotions ranging from proud, excited, eager, and satisfied. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to be invited to such an amazing event. The memories will live in my mind forever.
Feb 28, 2014
Feb 18, 2014
by Jen Sorensen via Talking Points Memo and the ACLU
Feb 10, 2014
A week ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Creating Change 2014, organized by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Houston, Texas. Although this was my second time attending this conference, my excitement was surprisingly higher than last year’s, thanks to this year’s keynote speaker being Laverne Cox. I have become a huge fan of Cox the moment I saw her on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out big time). Ever since, I started following her on social media and kept up with all of her appearances on TV and in other media outlets. The qualities I admire the most about Cox are her high level of intelligence, exceptional eloquence and fierce poise. I was so lucky to listen to her live during Creating Change’s opening plenary where she delivered a speech that was out of this world. She did not leave a single issue facing the transgender community without mentioning it, especially when it comes to transgender women of color, whom she represents so well. I especially loved the point she raised, saying, “The conversation about trans people in mainstream media has centered on transition and surgery.” Cox explained that limiting our trans conversations to transition and surgery objectifies trans women and does not leave us room to discuss the myriad of pressing issues that face the trans community today. This is exactly what happened on CNN with Piers Morgan a few days ago when he interviewed Janet Mock, who is another incredible trans activist. Instead of focusing on Mock’s newly released memoire “Redefining Realness,” Morgan bombarded her with questions about her physical transition and romance life. The next day, Mock came to his show again to explain how his show attempted to sensationalize her story instead of focusing on the real issues at hand. In her speech at Creating Change, Laverne Cox talked in length about the many injustices trans people, especially trans women of color, face nowadays, including violence, discrimination in the workplace and lack of healthcare access. In Cox’s words, “Healthcare for trans people is a necessity. It is not elective, it is not cosmetic, it is life-saving… But we are more than our bodies.” I remember the entire audience standing up and clapping after she articulated these powerful words.
I truly loved how this year’s Creating Change gave more space for the conference attendees to discuss the issues facing transgender people and learn more about this marginalized community. I personally attended the screening of “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” which is a documentary film about Los Angeles-based trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo. The film is very touching and eye opening to the serious struggles of trans women of color. I also attended a workshop entitled “Transgender People Unite Against Hate and Violence” in which Bamby was one of the panelists. The panel was very informative about the various forms of violence that transgender people experience, not only on the streets and in the workplace, but also at home and from the police. This workshop made me realize that there is not enough data available to us in order to reflect trans people’s struggles, thus making trans activism especially hard. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “of the 25 documented anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2012, 53.8% of the victims were transgender women. [Moreover], transgender people were 1.67 times as likely to experience threats and intimidation, 3.32 times as likely to experience police violence, and transgender people of color were 2.46 times as likely to experience physical violence by the police.” The reality is very sad for trans people, especially trans women of color. But I am so happy that Creating Changed highlighted this community’s struggles and made room for us to share solutions and success stories. There is a lot more we can do, but visibility is a great step in the right direction.
Jan 29, 2014
We teach young men to be prepared, to be assertive, to choose their own destiny. And yet, too often when it comes to making decisions about their reproductive futures we haven’t delivered the message that they need to step up. When 38% of young men have a fatalistic view about contraception’s effect on fertility and pregnancy* or 53% are ambivalent about becoming a father*, it’s clear we haven’t told young men they can play an active role in determining when, how, or if they want to become fathers. Furthermore, or health care system hasn’t addressed the issue when you consider the fact that primary care providers are 3 times more likely to take sexual health histories from female than male patients and twice as likely to counsel female patients on the use of condoms*.
Luckily, organizations like A Step Ahead Foundation are ready to change the tune. After a year of operating with the primary focus on providing free long-acting reversible contraception to women in Shelby County Tennessee, ASAF staff recognized that young men were just as interested in information about effective pregnancy prevention methods as young women. The only problem was, there weren’t too many resources for talking to guys about what their options are.
Taking matters into their own hands they created The Man On Campaign, a movement to get young men up to speed on birth control choices — including abstinence. The goal is to give guys the tools to build healthy relationships and start conversations with their partners about birth control or sexually transmitted infections. At The Sexy Ed guys can find out where to get free condoms in Memphis, be directed to HIV testing centers in their area, get support in making the decision to wait, or find some dating advice by yours truly. In addition the campaign will grow to engage young men across Shelby County with posters, booklets, and social media engagement.
Perhaps it won’t stop there. This is merely a great step forward in a revolution of educators, resources, leaders, and health care providers ready to engage young men in sexual and reproductive health. What can you do to encourage guys to take their futures into their own hands? What else is out there that you’ve seen? What do you want others to do? Young men are out there and ready. Like A Step Ahead Foundation and the Man On Campaign, let’s do our part to support them.
Jan 22, 2014
(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)
President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.
“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.
The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”
Jan 17, 2014
Just recently, I made a trip to the gynecologist to get a refill of my preferred birth control. I have the privilege of having insurance that requires no copay for appointments as such, and I had the privilege of getting into this doctor’s office within a month of calling. For my low-income neighborhood (see: health disparities), that was pretty quick. I was hoping for a quick appointment as well – sit down, update the doctor, get my prescription, and be on my way.
I haven’t been to this doctor in almost a year, but she had performed a pap smear and pelvic exam last visit. I also had no real changes between then and now. An added tidbit of information, I also just got a pelvic exam in the emergency room three months ago (unrelated, was nothing serious). I let the nurse know this, and I also informed her that I haven’t had any symptoms or real trouble. The doctor comes in, talks to me for a bit, and then instructs me to strip. The dreaded pelvic exam. The dreaded pelvic exam that I had just three months ago. When I protested and asked why she was doing a pelvic exam, I was told it is required to prescribe birth control. However, I had just been to the health district where they prescribed me birth control without me even taking my clothes off. I’d also like to note that my gynecologist did not ONCE ask me if I was sexually active, had been having unprotected sex, or if I’d like to get tested for HIV/STI’s, while the health district spent a good amount of time making sure they were fully aware of all my risk factors, and I was aware of the resources available to me.
I am seventeen, was in the office without a parent, and I did as instructed, not that I had much opportunity to do anything else. While still in the office, I decided to Google if pelvic exams are really required for birth control, contrary to my previous experience at the health district, only to find a massive online community outraged at the unnecessary pelvic exams women across the country are being forced into if they want a birth control prescription. According to a 2010 study, 1/3rd of of doctors and advanced nurses required pelvic exams before they would administer or prescribe hormonal birth control. Regardless of the fact thatguidelines, studies, and experts have stated that pelvic exams are unnecessary.
Unnecessary pelvic exams are hindering in so many different ways. If a woman goes into her gynecologist to try to get a birth control prescription and is met with the unexpected price of a pelvic exam (around $350 in my experiences), this can keep the woman from obtaining birth control. My vagina, my rules, right? The simplest saying that carries the most weight, right? The simplest saying that is often betrayed by health care providers, particularly in marginalized communities. Minority groups and marginalized communities will not always have the means to pay for a pelvic exam. This puts women at risk of unintended and teen pregnancy, a problem that disproportionately affects communities of color. People of color are more likely to live in poverty which results in a probability that they would not be able to afford an unnecessary pelvic exam just so they can get birth control.
When it comes to effective birth control, we must do everything in our power to make it as easily attainable as possible. The fact is, pelvic exams often scare the young women I have encountered out of going to their doctors for birth control. I am still shocked by the fact that my gynecologist required a pelvic exam when I had just been prescribed birth control via the health district with NO pelvic exam necessary. These are the barriers that stand in the way of our young women and their reproductive health and choice. Women that do want birth control are often afraid or unable to obtain it because of things like mandated pelvic exams that raise appointments costs exponentially and leave women feeling like they have no choice but to lay back and allow it. I couldn’t help but feel slightly violated after my gynecology appointment, but more than violated, I was angry. I am angry that other people with vaginas are being forced to have unnecessary, highly invasive, uncomfortable exams that they can’t afford just to exercise their right to obtain birth control.
As with any issue, we need to speak up, speak loud, and speak truth. My body is not something for private doctor offices to turn a profit on. My body is not a vessel for your unnecessary medical treatments performed in keeping with tradition. I refuse to be quiet about this. Birth control should be accessible to all, without fear. I am speaking out, and I am not speaking alone.
Jan 3, 2014
Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights
Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.
That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.
But there may be a shift on the horizon.
Dec 31, 2013
After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion. This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans. What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest. And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay. So, what’s to become of that 52%? What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need? We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people. It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need. It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.
Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this. Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:
“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.
What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.
This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.
Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”
But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”
Dec 30, 2013
Buffer zone laws are meant to serve the simple purpose of aiding legal protection to abortion access and vary state to state, even country to country. They are viewed as bordering provisions for anti-abortion speakers and protestors to not infringe on the safety and well-being of an abortion provider’s patients and staff. In a few weeks, the Massachusetts buffer zone law will be heard in the Supreme Court, with anti-abortion activists and abortion activists ready and waiting. Reporters have already covered both sides of the story, and everyone in the reproductive justice community in Massachusetts is keeping a close eye on this decision.
With the Supreme Court hearing on Jan. 15, I wonder how the verdict will turn out. While anti-abortion activists will claim freedom of speech and assembly, these freedoms are not justified with previous histories of aggression, violence, and libel nationwide.
For those who work at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, this decision hits close to home. Nearly two decades ago, a shooter entered a Planned Parenthood in Brookline, Massachusetts, and killed two people and wounded five others. As a result, Planned Parenthood moved to a new location, but the memory of those who died and were affected by this tragic incident sparked a movement to further protect staff and patients in abortion-providing settings.
Fast forward to 2013, and as I walk into Planned Parenthood for my internship, I see signs of defaced babies and crowds of people distributing anti-abortion material. The amount of anti-abortion activism varies, but it’s enough to know that the anti-abortion movement is strong in Massachusetts.
Let’s see what the new year brings.
Dec 27, 2013
I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on. And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention. I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.
While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves. I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational. Oh, and guess what? Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.” There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime. Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue. There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.
I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website. It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share. There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting. Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though. An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:
Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…
What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?
How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?
There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series. East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast. And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into. For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.
Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color. Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious. From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:
At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…
We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.
We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.
Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended. Please use the number to the opposite.
(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)
Dec 12, 2013
Examine My Depth:
Examine this depth because it hasn’t sprung from nowhere – my rage is not a fire hydrant that opens with a tap and strikes everyone close by.
My ache has been rooted and carefully harvested for centuries.
My rage is Mandela, King, Malcolm X, Corky Gonzales, Susan B. Anthony, and Dennis Goldberg.
Please tell me why my presence seems to be scrutinized by the public eye.
My misery lies within the hard cold walls of the daunting penitentiaries in which my people lie.
Open me up and dissect my pain. Tell me that my mother deserves better than minimum wage while working at a hotel – tell me that we didn’t cross el rio Bravo: monstrous and alive, ready to take our lives, only to live a white, superficial hell.
That my aunt wasn’t sexually assaulted on the border, only to find herself lost and lone in the land of the free, in fear of a deportation order.
Let me know that the “New Jim Crow” does not exist. I want to hear that Michelle Alexander is wrong when she says “Jarvious Cotton cannot vote….His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Ku Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation. His father was barred from voting by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Jarvious Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”
Take a closer look at my disgust when I say that five Middle Eastern men had the police called on them at my university for looking like they did not belong: they were students.
They were no more than 18 year old humans.
Tell me that my father did not hold on to the rails of a train for 24 hours in order to be here – only to drive in fear of deportation. What good is the free land if we are closed off and barred in our box of a home in isolation?
I wish Alexander was wrong when she tells us “A black man was on his knees in the gutter, hands cuffed behind his back, as several police officers stood around him talking, joking, and ignoring his human existence.” – This or course, on Election Day: As we introduce the first black president of the United States
I yearn for the day when statements like these are not true – when black and brown people are not just labeled as a form of “resistance.”
Examine my anger. Look deep into my soul. Take a look at the land you’ve settled and grounded your beliefs on – notice that my angst was not born this morning, or last night, or a week ago, or 10 years ago. Notice that I have been destined to fail and crumble for centuries – see my pain and then take a look at the Anglo reign.
Examine this depth.
Once entering College, I found myself being the only queer youth of color in most if not all of my classes – and also found myself angry at people with privilege because they made sure to make me feel less than human every single day. However, I keep on doing advocacy work and telling people my story, in hopes of changing mindsets and perspectives.
I wrote this poem about youth of color, and people of color in general because we are often no more than a statistic: a reaction to the dominant culture – and we are often left out on conversations that deal with health care, LGBTQ issues, or sexual health.
Latin@ people of color matter.
Dec 7, 2013
This week I had the opportunity to conduct an educational training on pregnancy prevention for local high school students in my community. The teen summit had over 400 students in attendance. I co-facilitated the presentation with an educator from Planned Parenthood. I was extremely nervous at the first session while I presented. A million thoughts went through my head; were they listening, was I saying it right, did they understand, etc. This was my first experience at peer educating so I wanted to be perfect. There were three sessions in total. By the second session I felt more relaxed and comfortable. It was a great feeling to see the students interact and yearn for more information. I felt accomplished when a few students stayed after the presentation to ask more questions. This experience has shown me that peer education is something I’d like to continue doing.
Dec 4, 2013
via RH Reality Check
Nov 29, 2013
Nov 25, 2013
(original image by The Stigma Project)
We are a grassroots organization that aims to lower the HIV infection rate and neutralize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through education and awareness via social media and advertising. The Stigma Project seeks to create an HIV neutral world, free of judgement and fear by working with both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or background.
Social media has rapidly become one of today’s largest mediums of news, culture, and education. We hope to embrace that with effective campaigns each season that bring awareness to the current state of HIV. Please, whether you’re HIV-positive, negative, or you don’t know (and should), we need your help. Ask your friends to join us in starting a revolution: an “HIV Neutral” revolution. Like us, Share us, Re-tweet us. The more people we reach, the more effective our project. The more successful our mission. YOU can make a difference.
The Stigma Project seeks to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS on a global scale, through awareness, art, provocation, education and by inspiring a spirit of living “HIV Neutral.”
The Stigma Project seeks to create an “HIV Neutral” world, free of judgment, fear, discrimination and alienation by educating both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life about the constantly evolving state of the epidemic. We seek to reduce the HIV infection rate through knowledge, awareness, and effective marketing and advertising. Ultimately we see a future where the world is free of HIV/AIDS.
I’ve already posted this image before but without credit to the original poster, so here it is! I’ve also added information about this organization!
Nov 24, 2013
Time after time have I seen lawmakers pass bills that affect me as an LGBT self-identified youth of color, without taking my opinion into consideration, which is why I have become an advocate for social justice. I grew up in what one would call the “ghetto,” and I didn’t actually realize the conditions I was living in until my parents decided to move homes. In retrospect, I now realize that I was living in a community of mostly undocumented families like my own. Furthermore, I took notice of the fact that most of us didn’t actually visit the doctor: not because we didn’t want to, but because we had no access to reliable healthcare. So, it was up to the yerberias (herbal stores) and whatever pills grandma could bring from Mexico on her visits to keep my family and me “healthy.” However, I know there must be a safer, more equitable way for the United States to provide healthcare to undocumented citizens, and there is: the inclusion of healthcare access in immigration reform policies.
The United States is at a point in time in which addressing social policy issues, including Immigration, is both urgent and inevitable. In all honesty, I don’t see why it is an issue in the first place, because the United States ultimately is not the property of a white man of European descent, but rather of those native to this land. However now, in the 21st century I like many others, believe that the land is property of the people: all people, regardless of their racial descent. Nonetheless, here we are, advocating and preaching for the equality of all people. Advocates follow comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level with attentive eyes and hopeful minds, without considering that proposed legislation does not include increasing access to healthcare for undocumented citizens who will be most affected by the bill.
As a nation, we tend to look past deeper issues which are well engraved into our society: it’s not only a lack of access to health services but to sexual health services that negatively affects undocumented citizens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers data which expresses the discrepancies among Latino communities. Pregnancies among Latina teenagers are still higher than those of any other group of people, and have been for years and years. What is truly unsettling and gut wrenching for me is that the lack of resources and healthcare options not only affects Latino communities, but many other undocumented citizens as well. This includes citizens from Eastern Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East and more.
Here’s my question: How can legislators and people in power expect the progression of all communities within in our country to flourish when undocumented citizens are offered false and incomplete promises? These citizens will not receive healthcare, a safe facility to go to if we contract an STI or become pregnant, and most importantly, will still not be given equal access to essential opportunities. Any attempts to mend the issue of immigration cannot be done without addressing the inclusion of access to healthcare for undocumented citizens. As a nation, we cannot expect the undocumented community to graduate, pursue higher education and succeed, if we will not provide all communities with quality, equitable access to health care. The answer is simple: include access to holistic and equitable healthcare in our country’s immigration reform policies that will not only provide opportunities, but will encompass what a comprehensive immigration reform is: not just a license and job permit but quality education, pathway to citizenship, comfortable living conditions, and access to healthcare.
To conclude, yes it is true that the lawmakers of the United States seem to be moving in the right direction, but as for the undocumented community, we cannot settle for less. We cannot settle for just a license and job permit because we are worthy of equal opportunities just as any other citizen. We are eligible for pathway to citizenship, education, jobs, and healthcare. The cycles of marginalization within undocumented families will stop when the nation addresses both immigration and healthcare in an all-encompassing reformative policy
Nov 1, 2013
I am happy to be part of the pool of facilitators who facilitated the very first National Adolescent Health Camp that was held at the Fontana Leisure Parks in Clark, Pampanga from October 22-25, 2013 and attended by 300 young adolescents from across the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. I am also honored to have worked with my fellow Y-PEER siblings in this project by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Youth Commission (NYC) and to mentor out-of-school youth delegates from Eastern Visayas who were awesome during the entire duration of the camp. It made me confident that more adolescents are becoming aware of the importance of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Adolescence is the period in life when an individual is no longer a child but not an adult as well. They are the person in transitional stage in life, living in critical time of rapid physical, mental, emotional, sexual, social and spiritual development. A time of transition that varies across individuals and groups, countries and cultures.
Globally, 1/5 or 1.2 billion of the world population are adolescents. However, 2/3 of the premature deaths and 1/3 of the disease burden in adults are associated with conditions or behavior that begins in youth. In the Philippines, adolescents comprise about 21.5 percent or almost 20 million of the 92 million Filipinos counted in the 2010 census conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) as cited by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). They contribute significantly to the labor force of the country. Considering that they constitute the most active group, they are the most vulnerable to communicable and non-communicable diseases owing to their risky behaviors. Furthermore, rate of teenage pregnancies have risen.
It is under this pretext that the Family Health Office of DOH in collaboration with the Department of Education (Dep-Ed), NYC, and Y-PEER Pilipinas conducted a basic training on adolescent peer education. As part of the learning process, an enhancement program was given to potential young leaders. Among the objectives of this camp are: a) Identify issues, gaps, and challenges on adolescent health and development at the local level; b) establish a pool of youth leaders on Adolescent Health and Development to address issues identified; c) develop standards of peer education on Adolescent Health and Development that will aid in developing the national framework on peer education; and d) develop one year local adolescent peer education plans to be implemented in their community/school.
At the start of our registration process, the participants were given name tags with number written at the back for an activity that was held later that afternoon. During the opening ceremonies which featured an ensemble of various traditional costumes from across the islands of the Philippines, the highlight of the said ceremony was the speech of Dr. Stephanie Sison from the Department of Health (DOH) in which she stressed the importance of the health camp to our young people and their importance to our country. They learned that engaging in risk behaviors such as early sexual encounter that may lead to unplanned pregnancy has a great impact on our lives especially on child and maternal health, education, and economic standing.
After the ceremony, participants were grouped according to the numbers behind our name tags for our first series of activities which was one of the facilitations I did in the duration of the camp. They had their getting to know in the form of a speed dating activity in which they met for the first time with their fellow participants from other regions. It provided them an opportunity to mingle in order that we can be friends and likewise for me to meet them. It also provided an opportunity to correct their stereotypes with other region like those from conflict areas in Mindanao. The second activity was body mapping in which I instructed them to draw a human body and wrote in the parts of the body their goals, achievements, positive/negative attitudes, their loved ones, and what others say about them among others. It’s a time where they get to know themselves better as they prepared themselves for the next days of activities. In our last activity which is called Agree or Disagree, young adolescents were able to know each other’s views and values on pressing issues among young people like acceptance of LGBT and people living with HIV, teen pregnancy, access to family planning services, and abortion among others. Yes, it gave them an opportunity to debate and argues on these issues but what prevailed at the end of the day is their mutual respect for each other’s views.
The next day during the plenary, Dr. Minerva “Mimi” Vinluan discussed the legal frameworks that serve as basis for DOH and other government agencies’ programs and projects on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). It gave us a solid foundation on where we stand as Peer Educators because there is a legal basis for everything that is being conducted in the training. Moreover, since most of them are not acquainted with these legal frameworks, it provided us an opportunity to be educated about these laws which they can invoke and apply in real life situations.
After the plenary, they enrolled into four different topics of discussion for the day: Understanding Adolescent and Puberty; Sex and Gender and Sexuality; Teenage Pregnancy; and HIV, AIDS, and STI. Their enrollment to these topics served as basis for their groupings in the sessions that followed. During our workshop, we let them compute the expenses that they will incur when they impregnated or got pregnant at a very young age with no financial security. They were shocked with the amount that they have computed – a staggering P180, 000 pesos more or less is the money that they have to pay for all expenses related to pregnancy (pre-natal check-ups, medicines, hospital bills, immunization, canned milk, baby diapers, newborn screening and other procedures. They have realized that it is not a big joke to get someone or become pregnant and they conclude that they have to be careful and be responsible with their actions related to practicing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In the afternoon, four different topics for workshops were simultaneously held: Relationships; Gender Based Violence and Power Analysis; Youth Sexuality and Family Planning; and ASRH in Humanitarian Setting. Also, the Adult Session for our partners from DOH, Department of Education (Dep-Ed), National Youth Commission (NYC), and other government and non-government organizations was held in a separate venue within the Fontana Convention Center.
During the Thursday plenary, Maria May-i Fabros of Task Force Batang Ina provided an insightful discussion on Elements of RH, the 13 Sexual Rights, and Human Rights Lens that enshrined in various international treaties that the Philippines have signed and ratified. We appreciated the kind of approach that she had on these topics because she delivered it in a manner that is not too academic like classroom lectures, rather, she delivered it in an informal manner that we understood since she anchored it on her own personal experiences and journey as an advocate and as someone doing development work. After the plenary, we break into groups and we facilitators discussed Peer Education 101 that included: Roles and Responsibility of Peer Educator, Peer Education on ASRH, Peer Education Activities, and workshop on session planning in Preparation for our Practicum the next day. In the afternoon, the NYC conducted Peer Education 201 that stresses on leadership and accountability as Peer Educators after which, we break into regions for the young adolescents’ regional planning.
In the Practicum, the existing groupings were further subdivided into four smaller groups with each assigned topics to deliver. We were given 45 minutes at most to deliver a Peer Education session following the standards given to us by our facilitators. The first two groups conducted their sessions simultaneously while the remaining two groups served as the participants respectively of the first two. During their presentation, we observed on how they conducted their sessions such as facilitation and co-facilitation skills, quality of information presented, icebreakers conducted, and our management with our participants. After they presented our sessions, we were able to give them feedbacks and points to improve on their workshop sessions the next time they conduct one.
Overall, all of us enjoyed the experience while at the same time they learn from us facilitators and resource speakers as much as we facilitators learned from our young participants. We have formed lasting friendships among our fellow facilitators and delegates from Region VIII and the delegates from other regions as well. The dinners and regional sharing that we had every night has been memorable. As newly trained Peer Educators, much is expected from them. They may be still learning the ropes but I am very much confident that they can train new Peer Educators in Region VIII and I am here as their Kuya – Big Brother to help them.
Oct 30, 2013
The image above pretty much sums up the pro-life movement. Fetuses are more valuable than women in utero. And after they are born, the same people who professed to fight for its rights suddenly couldn’t care less.
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 9, 2013
Young people deserve quality, affordable health care. And by signing health care reform into law 2010, the government took a big step in making that a reality. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefits young adults by letting them stay on their parents’ health plans longer, by making it easier and cheaper to get health insurance of their own, and by providing no-cost preventative care, including important sexual and reproductive health services. Now that enrollment is under way, young people have more power to get and stay healthy.
First, the new healthcare law gives you the option of staying on a parent’s health plan until you are 26. This provision has already resulted in real gains in health coverage among people between 19-25 years of age, helping them both get and keep insurance. Before the ACA, lots of young adults experienced a gap in coverage between leaving school and getting a job with healthcare benefits. The ACA goes a long way in addressing that gap.
Next, if you are not covered under your parents’ health plan or through work, it is now cheaper and easier to get your own health insurance. First, the new health care law makes coverage more affordable. The ACA allows states to expand Medicaid to cover more individuals. That means many people who previously earned too high an income to obtain very affordable government health insurance through Medicaid will be eligible soon, depending on the state where they live. The ACA further limits the cost of private health plans for people making less than about $46,000. Finally, the ACA makes the actual process of buying insurance easier by creating a new online marketplace where people can compare and buy plans that suit their own needs.
Once you are covered, you no longer have to pay anything for many preventative health care services that young people actually need, including sexual and reproductive health services. The ACA fully covers a list of approved preventative services, including STI/HIV screening and counseling, contraceptive and family planning care, services for pregnant and nursing women, substance abuse and mental health services, immunizations, and more. No co-pays. No cost-sharing. Plans must cover the entire cost of these services. And because young people face unique risks when it comes to unintended pregnancy, STI/HIV, and mental health and substance abuse issues, this is a real benefit.
Ready to get started? Here are some more resources that will give you additional information about the law’s benefits, the process of applying, comparing plans, and enrolling.
- HealthCare.Gov: The federal government’s website. Contains information about your options under the new law and its benefits, including a section about young adults.
- Young Invincibles: Providing information focused on young people under the ACA.
- Raising Women’s Voices: Detailed information about women under the ACA, including a factsheet on its benefits for young women.
- Out2Enroll: Website opening October 11 (National Coming Out Day). Provides information on LGBT individuals’ options under the ACA.
Oct 8, 2013
Oct 7, 2013
(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)
How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.
Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.
Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.
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 5, 2013
October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and thanks to Obamacare, young women like me have access to preventive care and checkups that can help us identify abnormalities and potential cancer early, when they are most treatable.
The year my grandma got cancer changed a part of how I see and value life. As someone extremely close and dear to me, she was one of the few people I thought could live forever. I considered her indestructible. After discovering her condition, I took to researching breast cancer and finding ways to help me prevent the disease. But before being able to prevent it, I would need to know my health condition. In other words, I would need access to mammograms, MRI, PET scans, etc. These things can be expensive, and now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, I don’t have to delay checkups and preventive care because of the cost.
Twenty-seven million currently insured women have already benefited from access to fully covered women’s preventive services, including breast exams and mammograms — 1.47 million of them in Florida. When the law goes into full effect, 47 million women nationally — 2.48 million women in Florida will benefit from this provision. Additionally, people under the age of 26 can now stay on their parents’ health plan, thanks to Obamacare.
The law also means that health insurance plans will no longer be able to deny anyone coverage based on pre-existing conditions like breast cancer. This will help women who have overcome breast cancer continue medical care for a more healthy future without fear of losing insurance coverage or going bankrupt.
On October 1, an estimated 3.5 million uninsured Florida residents became eligible to enroll for more affordable insurance, many for the first time, under the new law.
The knowledge that my grandmother’s cancer may return, or that my mother and even I, could one day have this disease, is what motivates me. Every woman deserves access to lifesaving breast cancer screenings from trusted health care providers, and thanks to Obamacare, they’ll do so without fear of looming debt. That’s why I’m standing with Planned Parenthood for National Breast Cancer Awareness month to say: Obamacare Works. It works for young women like me and we’re not going to let anyone take it away.
Oct 1, 2013
Sep 25, 2013
Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning
Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield
Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.
Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE
Sep 25, 2013
Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States
Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan
To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).
But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.
Sep 25, 2013
Texas woman drives four hours to Planned Parenthood after being shamed for hickey
Reposted from: Raw Story, written by David Edwards
A Texas woman who was shamed by her doctor for having a hickey and wanting birth control says she is now forced to drive four hours to a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care due to the state’s new anti-abortion laws.
Athena Mason told KUT that her first visit to the doctor as a student at Texas A&M was awkward.
“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘It’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.’ But I got a big lecture. [He said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go somewhere else.”
Mason started using the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But that facility is one of four women’s health service providers that closed in August after the state passed new regulations restricting abortions.
So Mason now drives four hours to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin for health care.
In 1998, Cadence King was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on her cervix and became a patient at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. She had returned for regular checkups in the years since, but she has missed visits in recent weeks because the clinic closed.
King is now struggling to find a new health care provider. Her only options are driving three hours to Beaumont or waiting four months for the next opening with the one Bryan clinic that’s willing to take her case.
Sep 11, 2013
Tune into any news channel and you will probably hear “Syria” within a minute. The talking heads are covering the security implications of the civil war and the alleged use of chemical weapons has prompted a moral and human rights debate. However, largely absent from public debate is a discussion about the basic health needs of Syrians and the international community’s role in ensuring those rights. WHO has declared the situation as a “Grade 3” emergency, the highest alert level. Grade 3 describes an event “with substantial public health consequences that requires international response”. 
As of this month, estimates predict that there are over 1.8 million registered refugees and over 2 million persons of concern. In addition, the UN estimates that at least 5 million Syrians have been internally displaced. [2, 3] While it is difficult to sum up the experiences of the displaced persons, a logical assumption is that their quality of life has changed, including their access to healthcare. Syria’s health care system receives little funding from the state and thus is largely decentralized and functions of the village, district, and provincial level. Even if displaced persons did not have institutional or comprehensive health care in their place of origin, their process of receiving care has been disrupted, and often, compromised.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but factors influencing the change in health care access include:
- Health facilities have been targets and many providers have been killed and facilities destroyed.
- Transportation systems have been damaged, making it difficult to access care providers.
- If displaced persons previously had a provider they regularly saw, their patient-doctor relationship has been disrupted.
- Internationally subsidized programs such as clinics and refugee camps run by the UNHCR often provide basic services for free, however, some more advanced services are not. Many displaced persons do not have access to all of their resources, making affording some procedures and medicines impossible.
- Syrians who were receiving some form of schooling prior to the civil war might no longer be. While data is limited, some students are educated on how to lead healthy lives through their schooling.
In addition, inside of Syria the health care system is in decline due to the collapse of the Syrian pound and state instability. Pharmacies, including ones in Damascus, are facing shortages and substantial price increases in many medicines including children’s milk.  Lack of access to necessary medicines can harm children’s development.
There has been progress in several Millennium Development Goals areas in Syria. Between 1970 and 2009, infant mortality dropped from 132 per 1000 live births to 17.9 per 100, and maternal mortality fell from 482 per 100,000 live births to 52 per 100,000.  While it is still soon to tell, the inaccessibility to health systems might have a negative impact on these trends. Let us hope that the international community will consider these issues as much as security and diplomatic ones.
Sep 5, 2013
My Decision on Obama Health Care I think it can be fix by not making health care so harmful for any race of Americans.Health care is Important because there always some Americans suffering from a disease becasue of harmful drugs,weapon wounds,living in abanded house with type of insects and not having protected sex.Health care should change because new-born babies mite be sick of there parents.Even young adults even the elders humans that are sick and may not have the right type of money to have great health Insurance on there health.I think Obama health care act should have a catalog our category where it should have the new-born and young babies have there own catalog and for teenagers and young adults even the elders have their own catalog for the health bill want be so confused but every human American need not a pricy health care bill.
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 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Aug 24, 2013
First- Ever Legal Abortion,
And It Saved A Dying Woman’s
(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)
The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.
Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.
The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.
The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”
Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.
Aug 21, 2013
“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.
Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”
Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.
Aug 21, 2013
Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black
(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)
Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.
First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.
What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.
The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.
Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.
As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.
Aug 20, 2013
One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.
The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:
86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
Aug 14, 2013
New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.
This article originally appeared on Salon.com.
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.
But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.
Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)
“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”
Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.
Aug 14, 2013
North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.
Aug 2, 2013
Originally posted at Choice USA: Choice Words:
India just banned the use/exploitation of dolphins as entertainment, as they are now considered “non-human persons”. Blackfish, a documentary about the psychological realities other animals face when confined in captivity, has just opened in theaters (at the distress of SeaWorld). Bird brain mapping has recently revealed that birds are “remarkably intelligent in a similar way to mammals such as humans and monkeys,” but ‘bird brain’ is still an insult. And the U.S. State Department and President Obama have decided to push ahead with building the Keystone XL Pipeline’s southern half amongst numerous questionable building practices, even though the previous Keystone I Pipeline has leaked fourteen different times. But isn’t this the Choice USA blog? What does this have to do with reproductive justice? Everything.
Having grown up with cats my whole life and having a vegetarian mother, I guess you could sayI was predisposed: at age 10 I chose to become a vegetarian and at age 19 I chose to begin living a vegan lifestyle. Somewhere in between there I also became a sexual health peer educator and have dedicated all of my time and effort to the reproductive justice movement ever since— including my eating habits.
I, like many of you, am pro-choice because I believe in each individual’s autonomy concerning their own body, lifestyle, and choices. I am pro-choice because I challenge any attempt to infringe on each individual’s freedom to control their own bodies and minds. I am pro-choice because it is not my place to coerce or use another being’s body as a means to any reproductive end she did not choose. And I am vegan for the exact same reasons.
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
‘Drink a glass of water and come to room no 18’, said the nurse with a white coat.
The day was old then. Nurses and staffs were packing up. The nurse with curly hair gave a “Lion Look”, when I had come and started to fill the form of ‘Blood Donation’. However, they had to take my blood pressure.
‘Fill your form properly’ same nurse had shouted at me while I gave it to her. I was paused. I was amazed. The response they did to me was unacceptable. ‘Why?’ I asked. She looked me with big eyes and asked ‘What is your Blood Group?’ My expression was Numb then. I kept quite. Actually, I didn’t knew it. ‘Don’t know’ I said. ‘So you have never donated blood?’, ‘Is this your first time?’ She asked same question in two different ways. ‘No, I have never donated and this is my first time’ I also answered in same way with slight smile in my face. But it was worthless because she had already given me form and asked me to sit in the chair nearby. I put my earphone and played it. Noah and the Whale’s ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N’ started playing from somewhere between. I was listening the song. And the nurse with a white coat came to me.
The nurse with white coat was sexy enough. She was slim around 50 kg, height 5 feet 7 inches, eyes were lovely and face was clean. ‘Small Chest’ was out, which made her perfect, as a girl. I went near the filter and drank two sip of water from the bottle. Then, I went directly to room no 18.
‘18’, I guess her age was around 18. I had no guts to ask it. However, it was not my concern. ‘Yeta’, she called me inside and asked to sit next to her. She took out Sphygmomanometer and started checking my Blood Pressure. Her long wavy hair was disturbing her as it had slipped from her hair band. She also smelled good. I was looking her. ‘Ok! It is fine’, she said and looked at me. I turned around and gave an ‘Ok’ look.
I think she knew that, I was looking at her. Anyway, it does not matter to her. She gave me fake smile and asked to lie in a chair (used for Blood donation) and I did accordingly. The, she banned my arm tightly with pipe in a yellow color and also cleaned my layers of nerves with spirit cotton. ‘Tighten your hand’, she said touching my fingers. ‘She is really soft’, I thought. She took a blood storing packet and opened a covered syringe, which was really scary. She injected me and slowly blood started moving towards blood storing packet from my arm. The, she immediately removed the pipe. ‘Move your fingers’ she again asked me, really she said it with love. I was looking her.
‘Please, I need only a packet of O -ve blood, my brother is dying, this is my last option, please’, I listened a boy in tensed voice. ‘I am sorry but there is not even a single packet and O –ve is rarely found. ‘Well, we will try’, a nurse with a curly hair said with chaotic look, outside in the same reception desk. ‘Please, you can’t say that’ the boy sounded helpless.
I was also helpless then. Eight years back my best friend Ramesh died of Blood Cancer.
‘Are you feeling good?’ a nurse broke a silence suddenly. ‘Ya’, I said. I kept silent.
I was 11 then, he had also died of cartage of blood. ‘He is fighting but can’t for long’, doctor had said to his father. ‘He need a lot of blood’, he had added. My father had also kept me in cue if we got more blood, but I wasn’t used then. I can still remember his father had gave a big advertisement in Kantipur. ‘O -ve’ was written in Big letter. But, it didn’t matter at all. He went.
‘So, you’re done!’ nurses said to me and slowly tighten the pipe and also took out the syringe from my nerves. I didn’t say her anything and gave a fake smile. I was suddenly in trauma of Ramesh death.
‘Rest for Sometime’, she said and catching my hand. I said nothing. So, this is your cell number?’ she again asked me showing my application form. But I was not interested.
I was thinking of that boy’s brother and Ramesh, then a ‘Packet of Blood’. I stood up and ran. Everybody was amazed. The same guys had already gone outside of the ‘Red Cross Gate’ in tensed mood. I thought nothing and ran. I reached in the gate; he was 10 steps ahead of me. I shouted ‘Dai’. He looked back, with same look. ‘I can help’, I said.
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
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 22, 2013
Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.
Jul 19, 2013
On the same day that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion omnibus bill into law, Republican legislators in the state introduced yet another anti-abortion measure, this time looking to ban abortions after 6 weeks. And while it seems very unlikely at this point that the bill will make it through the state’s legislative process by July 31, the end of the current special legislative session in Texas, the timing is still drawing a decent bit of attention.
There’s only one state in the U.S. with an abortion ban after 6 weeks: North Dakota. And that law is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. The 6-week bans, like the one proposed in Texas, rely upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat by a doctor. Arguing that a fetal heartbeat is “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the Texas bill, HB59, would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat exists before legally performing an abortion. Fetal heartbeats typically register at around 6 weeks, meaning that the bill would effectively make that the cut off for the procedure.
Jul 15, 2013
Flea markets are a one-stop place where people can get every-day necessities, often at a low price or second-hand. Among clothing, food, and furniture a Texas women can also find pills that induce miscarriage, an evocative sign of the role of family planning in everyday life. The pills, known by their brand name, Cytotec, were designed to prevent stomach ulcers, but are being taken without a prescription by many Texan women and causing complications such as extended bleeding and incomplete abortions.
In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a region along the southeastern border of Mexico, these pills are reportedly popular. One of the states and nation’s most low-income areas, women of the Valley have already had difficulty accessing reproductive health care after the state cut funding for birth control in 2011.
HB 2, the Texas abortion bill that is awaiting Governor Rick Perry’s signature will further restrict access to family planning and reproductive health clinics across the state. Unless clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical center standards within a year, these locations will be forced to close, pushing women to seek risky alternatives. The two clinics currently in the Lower Rio Grande Valley do not meet the requirement of the bill. If these centers close down, women will have to travel hours across that state to receive care and will have additional costs such as transportation, hotel, food, missed work, and childcare.
Erlinda Dasquez, a 29 year-old mother of four who has used the pills, sees the widespread desire for these pills an economic issue. She described how for $40 she received four pills, a sum much less than the $550 pharmaceutical abortion cost at the closest legal provider. Many women and families like Dasquez seek illegal and unsafe forms of abortion due to the staggering costs of abortion which are typically not covered or subsidized by insurance companies or the state. Many undocumented women are also taking Cytotec and similar drugs. These women cannot utilize traditional health care outlets for fear of being reported.
The clinics that are being threatened do not solely provide abortion services. Many of these facilities are a source of free or inexpensive birth control for families, a valuable resource. Without assistance, many low-income people cannot justify paying the amount for contraceptives among other economic priorities. When interviewed, Alma Saldana said, “If I had $100 to pay for birth control or pay the bill for lights, I’d pay the lights”. Saldana stopped taking birth control after two nearby clinics closed and the remaining clinic charged more than she could afford.
Jul 15, 2013
I Attended the Abuja + 12 Summit Civil society Side event AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Symposium. Themed “country Ownership and Sustainability of Health Sector in Africa”
This struggle began since 2001 at a special summit when African Head of state committed to improve policy and investments to address the challenges of HIV/ADIS, TB and Malaria and other related infectious diseases.
Since then till now the struggle continue, the most interesting issues discussed in this year’s meetings was the issue of changing the MDG’s to SDG’s (sustainable Development Goals)
HON. Dr. Wale Okediran former member of the House of Representatives. Spoke on the challenges and hindrances to the work of the parliamentary which are as follows:
• Time management
• The process of law making is cumbersome
• Offices and equipment
• Lack of capacitated Parliamentary support staffs
• Corruptions and poverty are major factors
• Poor educational or professional backgrounds of some MPs is a hindrance to their optimal capacity as lawmakers.
• Overcoming the powerful executive clique and press who most times affiliate more with the executive even in the face of truth.
He listed out some possible solutions to the problems as
CAPACITY BULDING: it is essential to build the capacity of parliaments and their staff, especially with respect to economic development.
INFORMATION: it’s important to keep them informed on trending issues
COMMUNICATION: communicate on important issues
TECHNICAL: they should be computer literate, they must be able to use computer effectively.
TRAINING OF PARLIAMENTARY STAFF: There must be training and retraining of parliamentary staffs
POLITICS: This should be taken into cognizant, people must change their mind set on what they think politics is.
EDUCATION OF ELECTORATE: The Electorate should be informed on the importance of voting for the right candidate.
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 9, 2013
Yesterday, the Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation authorized doctors to sterilize at least 148 women between 2006 and 2010. Another 100 women were estimated to be sterilized since the late 1990s. Incarcerated women at the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla were coerced into having tubal ligations against their will. Many of the women who underwent the procedure while incarcerated said they were not only provided with little information on the health risks, but falsely educated.
Women who are incarcerated are predominantly low-income, women of color. In 2009, the compounded state and federal incarceration rates (per 100,000) for black and Hispanic women were 142 and 74 respectively, while for white women this rate was 50 . Forced sterilization is a violation of one of women’s most basic rights – the right to procreate. Although modern-day sterilizations are not as blatantly racist as eugenics in California in the early 20th century, it is scary to see parallels between the “science” used to justify the practice then and now. Modern doctors pushing sterilization as a necessity for inmate’s health is reminiscent of the research and academic eugenic centers that sprung up a hundred years ago that were dedicated to maintaining “desirable” bloodlines.
What really enrages me is that Daun Martin, the top medical manager at Valley State Prison from 2005-08 “characterized the surgeries as an empowerment issue for female inmates, providing them the same options as women on the outside”. No, empowerment is allowing women to have autonomy over their bodies, families, and decision-making process. Empowerment is providing women with comprehensive, unbiased information, while respecting their authority. Empowerment is presenting honest facts that don’t spin the truth or patronize women’s ability to see political actors’ contrived stories for what they are.
Martin continues to prove clueless as he claims that some pregnant women commit premeditated crimes in order to enter the prison system and receive better health care. While he acknowledges that women who manipulate the system should not be criticized, he simultaneously asserts that this trend must stop. Instead of persecuting women, Martin should focus on the systems that force women to make such drastic decisions. What do the actions of these desperate women say about the state of our health care system and the level of inequality in this nation?
For more details, visit: http://cironline.org/reports/female-inmates-sterilized-california-prisons-without-approval-4917
 Mauer, Marc. (2013). The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration. The Sentencing Project. Retrieved from: http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_Changing%20Racial%20Dynamics%202013.pdf
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.
Jul 8, 2013
Location: Immaculate suites and Apartments, Lobito crescent, Wuse II FCT Abuja.
The CSO symposium at the Abuja +12 side event organized by AIDS Health care Foundation (AHF) addressed issues around the impact of Advocacy and community mobilization in country ownership. Issues were discussed around health financing and community ownership, a call was made by Obafemi to all activist in country to work with all the believe in toward achieving the MDG’s, and come up with ways of lobbying policy makers to increase health funding Nationally, so that the country does not depend wholly on international funding. Dr Stephen Karau the Country director AHF also gave a speech on were Kenya is in respect to the 15% funding, and how he personally does not see a need to move from the MDGs to SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), because to him the MDGs cuts across all aspects of the population and are SMART.
Jul 2, 2013
Growing up I’ve wanted to be a meteorologist, a teacher, a therapist, all for reasons that were missing something. They all lacked passion. Passion and drive are what push you and it’s what makes you enjoy what you do. With passion for what you do, you will never work a day in your life. In April I was in Tallahassee lobbying for medicaid expansion, the longer I was there the more I realized how issues like this affect everyone, and how each and every one of us were part of a movement, change. I was given an amazing opportunity which not only challenged me, but opened my eyes to what I want to do for the rest of my life. I was given the amazing opportunity to speak along side representatives and senators. I spoke about how medicaid expansion would positively affect me. The feeling I had while up there not only speaking and advocating for something I’m passionate about, but also surrounded by amazing caring people, that feeling is unforgettable. That’s the feeling I want to have everyday of my life, while others are dreading going to work I will be loving every second of it. As of now I don’t know what I will choose to do, but I do know what it will feel like once I get it right. Everyday I grow, but without the advocacy work I have done, and the passionate people I’ve met my vision for the future would still be blurry. I will make a difference and figure it all out one step at a time.
Jul 2, 2013
AP: Ireland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.
Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life. (Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)
Jul 1, 2013
I decided to break the law to provide a necessary medical service because women were dying at the hands of butchers and incompetent quacks, and there was no one there to help them. The law was barbarous, cruel and unjust. I had been in a concentration camp, and I knew what suffering was. If I can ease suffering, I feel perfectly justified in doing so.
-Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian doctor who was arrested four times for performing abortions, but whose arrests eventually led to the 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country.
He died this week at the age of 90. Good obit in the NY Times.
Jul 1, 2013
I posted a couple things here about Wendy Davis’ insanely awesome marathon filibuster to stop SB5, which is a bill from Texas that would close the majority of the clinics in the state that not only provide abortion services, but contraception and general health care. And she wasn’t alone. Hundreds of local supporters stood by her and when the bill was thought to be stopped, the capitol building erupted with cheers.
The lawmakers had to vote on this bill before it hit midnight. But thanks to Senator Wendy Davis, Senator Leticia Van De Putte, and hundreds of reproductive justice advocates, lawmakers fortunately did not get the chance to meet that deadline. Republican lawmakers tried to argue that the bill was voted and passed on time despite clear evidence revealing that the vote ended on June 26 when it was supposed to be June 25. They later took it back and admitted that the vote occurred after midnight and the bill was dead. All Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst could say about it was: “…it’s been fun.” Because taking away people’s rights to health care is so much fun.
The bill was thought to be stopped and everyone in the social justice club was happy. But Texas Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to try to bring SB5 back. This would make all the efforts of the Texans who went to stop this in vain. Governor Rick Perry’s Facebook, Twitter, office website, office address, and phone information has been spreading so that people can voice their opinions. Hopefully the voices of the constituents will be heard.
While the Internet social justice atmosphere exploded at the news of Texan Republicans’ shady tactics, for good reason, Ohio has passed some terrible anti-choice legislation of their own. Ohio lawmakers didn’t even bring it up for debate. They slyly passed the bill last minute the other night. Activists are sharing Ohio Governor John Kaisch’s phone number (614-728-7576) in hopes that he line-vetoes the measure. If he doesn’t, Planned Parenthood and rape crisis centers lose their funding in that state, and those funds will be going to Crisis Pregnancy Centers. And you know what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are like. People will have to will 24 hours before receiving their emergency contraception. Forced ultrasounds will be legalized, and the unwilling patient would still have to pay for it. This measure would even redefine pregnancy, throwing out the actual medical definition, so that using emergency contraception would be considered abortion.
We have our work cut out for us.
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 27, 2013
“Promotion and its use need of time ’
A female condom (also known as a Femidom) is a device that is used during sexual intercourse as a barrier contraceptive and to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infection.
Condoms are the best measure prepared to be prevented various STI/D’s. It is worldwide termed as best and cost-effective method that can have multiple use ranging from disease prevention to family planning. Access to condoms can prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and also unwanted pregnancy. The global concern today is to promote the health and wellbeing of all with special focus on female health. To strengthen the female health status, to ensure females right and thus provide them with ability to access to health services and adoption of preventive measure is most. Among the list of strategic action promotion of female condoms can be best. Today market have prioritized the promotion of male condoms only which makes the female wish to use condoms for safe sex ineffective thus raising the control of male in sexual activities.
Jun 27, 2013
A big question always arises in my mind whether they (LGBTI) should be accepted or???
LGBTI is an initialism that collectively refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community. Society of ours is still struggling to provide favorable environment for both girls and boys equally, LGBTI community face numerous obstacles in daily life. The narrow minded society of Nepal till date do not accept the community of LGBTI. They face problem in various places within their families, society and even in their jobs. A recent study suggest that a total of 14% LGBTI are still face various types of discrimination in America.
Nepal a developing country, where we even normal people get discriminated then we can easily imagine the status of LGBTI. There are many cases where we find that these people are being stressed and are made embarrassed in jobs as well as in public places. They have to face many problems regarding their jobs as well as of their personal life. These people face’s various problems they are excluded from their family, school. They have to hide their identity and have to behave life a very normal person. So what we need to perform as a good citizen of the country is that give everyone a position so that everyone can play their vital role to raise their as well as of their society status.
So it’s time to initiate the social change to promote the fundamental right of LGBTI community member. Provide them with equal opportunity and thus establish society with equity and equality where all lives in Harmony.
Jun 26, 2013
From Huffington Post:
The Texas anti-abortion bill, which threatened to close nearly all of the abortion clinics in the state and prompted an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is dead, The Austin American-Statesman reported.
Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session’s end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called “a people’s filibuster,”The Associated Press reported.
The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried “Shame! Shame!” when Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
Their cries continued to echo inside the chamber — and over a livestream watched by thousands around the world — until after the midnight deadline passed.
Although some Republican lawmakers later claimed the bill had passed in time, Democrats denied that the vote was completed before the clock ran out on the session.
A time stamp showing the vote completed after midnight was the deciding factor. “This will not become law,” Sen. John Whitmire (D), told The Austin American-Statesman.
In response, the crowd of protesters gathered in the capitol cheered and began singing “The Eyes Of Texas,” the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin.
According to The Texas Tribune, Dewhurst was less than pleased by the evening’s turn of events. After ruling that the time on SB 5 had expired, he told reporters that “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” had derailed legislation that was designed to protect women and babies.
The legislation would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regulated first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers and restricted access to medication abortions. Had it passed, nearly all of the clinics in the state would have been shuttered.
Dewhurst also hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may call another special session to get the bill passed, saying: “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”
Despite a long day of filibustering, Davis was upbeat when she greeted the crowd of supporters, who applauded the senator and chanted her name.
“Today was democracy in action,” Davis said. “You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.”
Jun 26, 2013
From Tumblr blogger kat1712:
(edited for language)
Senator Wendy Davis is a f*cking badass.
There’s this bill that they are trying to pass in Texas that would make it illegal to get any abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would make it very difficult for abortion centers to continue doing what they do. Governor Rick Perry has already said that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will sign it. And Wendy Davis said f*ck no that is not happening.
So she’s filibustering it. That means she asked to talk on the subject at 11:18 this morning, and if she can continue talking about abortion until 11:59 tonight, the bill won’t reach Governor Perry, and they would have to start all over with the bill next time they meet- 2 years from now.
But Wendy has to keep talking. She can’t pause for even a minute, not for food or a sip of water or to go to the bathroom or sit down. She can’t even lean up against anything, or she’s out. So she’s wearing motherf*cking PINK NIKE TENNIS SHOES in the middle of the state senate.
She also has to continue talking about the topic. She sent out tweets an other messages last night asking for anyone and everyone’s abortion story, and received a sh*t load of answers. Her staff is still collecting them, and she’s reading them aloud to the senate. Not only is she making this bill impossible to pass, she may just change some minds while she’s at it.
This is history, guys. Wendy Davis is a motherf*cking badass, and we are watching it happen.
Jun 22, 2013
“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” AMA board member William Kobler said in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”
The AMA’s stance on amending the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in the U.S. falls in line with recent policy changes in other countries. Earlier this year Canadian Blood Services approved achange in policy that would allow gay men to donate blood if they have abstained from having sex with another man for five years prior to their donation. Additionally, other countries such as Australia and the U.K., require only a one-year window of deferral for sexually active gay men, while South Africa requires only a six-month period.
Jun 21, 2013
For decades, most Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been lying to women, evading questions, and disguising their institutions as health care facilities. They receive federal funding to shame women into believing lies- “abortion causes breast cancer”, “it will make you infertile”, “condoms do not protect against STIs”, etc. They do not have a doctor at these facilities, and are not under HIPAA regulations of non-disclosure of medical records. They are against all contraception forms. They will harass a woman until she is in tears, and then send her on her way with a Christian religious token, and a promise from her that she will keep her child, they will only provide “help” if she agrees to go to Bible Study. This is not health care. Title X funding should be revoked.
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 21, 2013
This week, we celebrated the tenth and final week of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a social media campaign mobilizing mass support for policies and programs that enable women and girls around the world to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe. Spearheaded by our friends at the International Women’s Health Coalition, and supported by hundreds of advocacy organizations around the world, the campaign focused on eight critical topics over the course of ten weeks:
- Ensuring quality education of women and girls;
- Putting women and girls at the center of the post-2015 global development agenda;
- Preventing violence against women and girls;
- Improving the health of women and girls;
- Ending early and forced marriage;
- Achieving peace and security for women and girls;
- Promoting economic empowerment of women and girls; and
- Protecting human rights and promoting leadership and participation of women and girls.
Each week, partners tweeted and posted on Facebook compelling facts, statistics, and policy asks to US government officials and other high-profile influentials in policy and media circles. The goal: push for a set of tangible, measurable, and specific policy actions the US government could take to support foreign policy efforts for women and girls.
Why the campaign and why now? On February 1, John Kerry took the reins from Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State. As I laid out in this Politico piece, Kerry has HUGE shoes to fill in terms of advancing the rights of women, girls, and young people. We all wondered, just how would he fare? We needed a way to demonstrate our collective support for a continuation—and enhancement—of his predecessor’s policies and priorities. Thus was born the idea for the 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls.
To date, messages have reached millions of social media users, raising awareness of women’s and girls’ rights around the world. Many of these messages have even been retweeted by high-ranking officials representing the US government in negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda, as well as countless others.
The case for investing in women and girls has been made. NOW it is time for the US government to ACT! Advocates for Youth will do our part to continue to apply pressure on government officials to prioritize women and girls in all facets of US foreign policy. We’ll keep you posted as progress is achieved.
Jun 19, 2013
After 25 years, the Senate has finally voted to end the federal ban on research into organ donations from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients.
The HOPE Act (HIV Organ Policy Equity Act) legislation would establish a review process in which the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary evaluates the progress of medical research into procedures that would allow transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senators from both sides of the aisle decided that the 1988 ban on even conducting research on transplants from HIV-positive donors was not only discriminatory, but also medically outdated. With recent medical advancements HIV-positive people are now living longer, and like other older Americans, are also developing medical conditions that require organ transplant. Medical experts estimate that the bill can help save over 1,000 lives every year.
Jun 15, 2013
“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”
Jun 12, 2013
A dangerous development in Myanmar is largely going unreported. Recently, local authorities announced their support for the enforcement of a two-child limit for Rohingya Muslims. While not an official policy of the central or state government, the policy has been implemented on a grass-roots level. The most recent public endorsement for this policy comes from Immigration Minister, Khin Yi who stated that Rohingya families of 10-12 children are “not good for child nutrition. It’s not very easy for schooling. It is not very easy to take care of the children.” While details of this discriminatory practice are recently reaching the international community, some believe this policy has been in effect for years, possibly decades.
This stateless, minority group primarily lives in one of Southeast Asia’s poorest regions, Rakhine state. They have been excluded from Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Act which recognizes 135 ethnic groups. Bangladesh has also disowned the Rohingyas and denied them refugee status, although they migrated from Bangladesh between 1824 and 1948. The two-child policy is aimed at controlling unrest between Buddhists (the majority in Myanmar) and Muslims. As a result of increasing violence, stricter policies have been placed on the Rohingyas, risking the spread of wider anti-Muslim sentiment. More worrisome is the belief that the child restriction is a form of ethnic cleansing.
Health experts fear this policy could encourage unsafe abortions in Myanmar, where abortion is illegal except in cases of maternal life. Women that already have two children who become pregnant might have an illegal abortion in order to avoid fines or incarceration. Vickie Hawkins, Deputy Head of Mission of Myanmar’s Doctors Without Borders divisionv often sees “Women coming in [the] clinics with infections and medical complications because they have had unsafe abortions”. Doctors Without Borders operate in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships where there are the largest Rohingya populations in the state. Journalists are not allowed to visit either town, making it difficult to access correct information and rally the international community behind this issue.
The UN and other human right organizations have condemned Myanmar’s unofficial policy, arguing it violates international law and harms women’s mental and physical health. While family planning is an issue that should involve both parents, this policy attacks women’s autonomy over their bodies. In addition, this ban circumscribes the construction of Myanmar Buddhist families onto the Rohingya population. Forcing cultural and ethnic norms onto groups has never worked and will only intensify the animosity between Myanmar’s populations.
Source: Reuter’s. “Myanmar Minister backs 2-child Policy for Rohingyas”
Jun 11, 2013
Jun 7, 2013
As a follow up, to my post about CPCs in Louisville, here are a few tips about distinguishing CPCs from real clinics.
Crisis pregnancy centers, or pregnancy resource centers, disguise themselves as medical facilities, but usually have no licensed doctors, nurses or counselors. They often appear under “Abortion Alternatives,” and may have names similar to abortion clinics nearby in order to confuse patients into entering their buildings instead of the real clinics.
Once you enter a CPC, their mission is to prevent you from getting an abortion at any cost. They will use misleading language, delay tactics, emotional manipulation, intimidation, and outright lies to either persuade you against abortion or to make you miss your appointment. The worst part? It’s all completely legal and funded by federal dollars.
CPCs do their best to appear as legitimate abortion clinics, so how can you tell which is which? Here is a list of red flags for CPCs:
- The words “crisis” or “resource” appear in the center’s name
- Their ads use language like “Pregnant & Scared?”
- They offer free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds
- When asked if they provide abortions or contraception, they will not give a direct answer
- The waiting room has biased pamphlets, sometimes with graphic pictures labeled as abortions
- They attempt to make you feel guilty about considering abortion
- They offer baby items, such as diapers and formula
- They downplay the effectiveness of contraception and emphasize abstinence
- They emphasize the dangers of abortion (Fact: fewer than 0.3% of patients experience complications requiring hospitalization)
- They discuss the false connections between abortion and breast cancer, infertility, or mental illness, often referred to as post-abortion stress syndrome
- Regardless of how you talk about the pregnancy, they refer to “your baby,” the “preborn child,” “post-abortive women,” and say that you are “already a mother.”
A list of licensed abortion clinics in the United States can be found on the Abortion Assistance Blog.
Jun 6, 2013
Just in case women didn’t have enough to deal with Repro-Justice wise, there are also fake abortion clinics to contend with in addition to pro-life hecklers.
I’ve always known about CPCs (Crisis Pregnacy Centers), but I never knew just how horrible they could be until now.
There have been reports of a couple of fake clinics in downtown Louisville, KY. These clinics are right next to a genuine one – EMW Women’s Surgical Center on Market street.
Tumblr user thisgingerisback reports, “…this place is seriously a nightmarish hell-hole for any unsuspecting women tricked by the anti’s [sic]. They assure you this this the abortion clinic, they get you inside, and then offer you food and drink—which of course, means that once you realize your mistake, you can’t run next door and catch your actual appointment, since you need to fast.
Women have come out of this building crying, and on a few rare occasions, without their pants. They take you to a back room for an ultrasound, have you remove your pants, and then begin lecturing you on the sins of aborting. They do not give you back your pants until you have listened, and a few women tricked this far refused to listen and stormed out furious, ashamed, and in their underwear…”
Signal boost, spread the word, give everyone you know a heads up.
Jun 3, 2013
In an interview with the Guardian on June 2nd, actor Michael Douglas revealed that his throat cancer was caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). The stage four cancer was originally deemed fatal when Douglas was diagnosed in August 2010. While he has been cancer free for two years, his outcome could have been much worse if he had not seen a doctor in Montreal who correctly diagnosed him. Before learning HPV had caused the cancer, he had seen many specialists who failed to notice the large tumor on his tongue and link it to HPV.
Approximately 25-35% of oral cancers are HPV-related, yet many of Douglas’s doctors and various media outlets assumed that the cancer was caused by Douglas’s tobacco and alcohol use. Substance use is often correlated with cancers of the throat, however, oral sex is often not connected in our conversations. Our culture tends to stigmatize those experiencing STIs and downplay the frequency of occurrence. Often this stigma drives people away from seeking the treatment they require. While the Guardian article is fairly objective, it does subtlety further this norm through its diction. By declaring Douglas’s admittance as “surprisingly frank”, the article acknowledges the silence regarding this subject, while simultaneously assigning oral sex and its possible health risks as a subject that is unnatural to be discussed.
In addition, this article and similar conversations are worrisome because they sensationalize the act of oral sex, rather than focus on the health implications of such cases. Instead, conversations should center on how to adapt our health institutions and processes to better diagnose and treat HPV-related cancer cases. The article quotes a recent study in which 57% of 1,316 patients with oral cancer tested positive for HPV-16. Over 100 variants of HPV exist and many are symptomless, but HPV-16 has been linked to a type of oral cancer. This increase in HPV-related oral cancer cases can be attributed to various factors such as the rise of oral sex and fluctuations in safe sex practices. Whatever the cause, health professionals must adapt to the changing causations and be open to discussing their patients’ sexual history, so that the diagnostic period can happen as quickly and as accurately as possible. Luckily for Douglas, oropharyngeal cancer is highly curable even in the latest stages of intervention. If dialogue about our sexual practices and history becomes more embedded in our culture, then the linkage between certain health problems and sexuality will not be an afterthought, leading to earlier intervention.
Jun 1, 2013
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 31, 2013
Whenever abortion is the topic of a conversation, especially when spoken of as a choice that someone wants to make for whatever reason that’s personally valid to them, there is always someone who pops up and says, “Adoption is an option too!” You know, as if that thought never occurred to anyone ever or it’s some kind of a magical word to rid one of an unwanted pregnancy. I witness it all the time on my STFU Pro-Lifers blog through the large amount of messages I receive on a daily basis, but yesterday a self-proclaimed pro-choicer shared that familiar, derailing insight you hear from anti-choicers. Granted, she had her own personal experiences with abortion and adoption. I made sure that she knew how appreciative and grateful I was to her for sharing those experiences with me. But it was something she said that really bugged me. There were a few sentences subtly expressing privilege and ignorance.
“It isn’t that hard to find someone to adopt a baby…”
She also mentioned the baby she gave up for adoption was blonde haired and blue eyed. It’s another discussion that makes it clear how important it is to be intersectional. She was speaking solely as a white woman in her experiences with adoption. She somehow gained an adoption lawyer at no personal cost to her. Adoptive parents quickly lined up for this white blue eyed baby. And the parents the girl chose to adopt her baby paid for her one year of school tuition. She was happy with her decision, and that’s great. I’m happy for her. Anyone would be.
But for the part about how “easy” it is to get someone to adopt a baby… well, I quickly and politely corrected her. She thanked me and then told me that she loves my blog. The matter was settled. It still bugs me though, and it’s not so much the person but the original line of thinking shared by so many people. You hear things like that all the time. Oh, you’re pregnant and don’t want to be? But there are tons of people out there who can’t have children! You should consider adoption!
I guess no one told them that less than 2% of our entire population actually adopts, and when they do adopt, the less than 2% tend to favor the able-bodied, young, emotionally sound, sibling-less, white baby. [source] And really? Agreeing to the idea of an adoption won’t make an unwanted pregnancy go poof! There are still nine, agonizing months of a condition that was never consented to. I mean, most pregnancies are already really difficult for those who do it willingly. There are tons of complications that arise during those three, brave trimesters. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic it is for those who desperately don’t want to be pregnant but were forced to remain so.
Don’t want to raise a child? Fine! Adoption is definitely an alternative to parenthood. Just keep in mind that abortion is an alternative to a pregnancy. That’s how it works. Don’t talk to me about how there are tons of people in the world who can’t have children. No one should be forced into being a brood mare for someone else. No one owes their body to anyone else.
As pro-choicers, it’s inherent in our very name that we celebrate choice whether it be parenthood, adoption, or abortion. We keep in mind that our lives are individual, and the same can be said about our choices.
May 30, 2013
Beatriz is 22. The mother of a 1-year old boy. She has lupus. Kidney malfunction. And her doctors say she will likely die if the pregnancy continues. But, there is still hope for Beatriz.
May 30, 2013
There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights. One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action. When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization. According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.” They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites. To this organization, abortion is:
An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken. But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous. Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.
The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website. Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on. One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice. The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth. You can watch her video response here. I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.
It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though. Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action. Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff. The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident. But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.
Seriously! Click the link below to watch!
May 29, 2013
Integration can be an imperative thing which will result in success of the story. When we integrate thing, a synergetic effect can be seen, which makes things go easier as well as coverage of the service will also increase. Remembering this important thing and taking an glimpses of the integration in other countries, its important and need can easily be recognized
Nepal, a growing country where still people die lacking health service, people don’t show their disease felling shame and health service reach is still a story. While these things continue, an important thing is going outside the country to make health service more better i.e. integration of SRHR and HIV services, resulting in more coverage of SRHR as well as of HIV services.
Country like Nepal where reach of health services is still need to be strengthens. Implementation of this can be an important big step in progress of health service. Research in various countries shows that integration of these two big services help to reach many people’s home which shows a success rate of this new strategy. Still in many part of the world discrepancy exists related to HIV and SRHR. So this integration can be a success step for the removal of these specific differences.
So why shouldn’t focus on the thing which can result a synergetic effect regarding its reach and success. Integration can be an important thing which will help us in the following ways: low manpower consumption, one door service delivery, discrepancy get removed which result increase in coverage of service provided.
Making our hand together, we can work out making this specific program success, because when come together thing will come together.
May 28, 2013
I write about issues that people hardly worry about: Health, Politics, Media, Kids, Entertainment, Poetry, and unusual stories.
Keep yourself informed, entertained and educated.
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here’s what you should look for:
- Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color.
- Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling.
If you see any of the following changes, bring it to your doctor’s attention:
- Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin.
- A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out).
- Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling.
Raise your arms and look for the same changes
Feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few fingers of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together.
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side—from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in Step 4.
Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
I’m sure most of us on twitter have heard about @debbified also known as Osarere Idiagbonya. For those who haven’t heard about her, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age of 27 So my beautiful, sexy, traffic stopping ladies, it is important to do a breast self-examination. If you notice anything unusual about your breasts, PLEASE get to a hospital fast! Remember that cancer has no cure yet, but it can be prevented.
Do this examination every month and ensure that you’re living a cancer -free life.
May 27, 2013
What if all the empathy that transpired in the speeches and talks of policy makers I listened to today at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference could immediately be converted to action? This is the question I asked myself during my reflection on the pre-youth conference that ok place on the 27th May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
Passion, enthusiasm, and determination were perceptible in the way the policy makers I listened to and spoke with today spoke about how painful, frustrating, and humiliating the consequences of inequalities that exist in today‘s world are. But does this mean these people have finally heeded to the call of social activists to act now for inequality to be eradicated? Only time will tell as youths will be keeping a keen eye on these people to ensure that all the promises they will make this time around are kept and within the minimum possible time frame.
“The biggest risk to the continuity of humanity is inequality“, declared UNFPA‘s deputy Director; Kate Gilmore during an intervention at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference. Conscious of this, it is unavoidably true that, by delivering on their promises to not only reduce but eradicate inequalities and injustices of every nature, policy makers will be contributing to the continuity of humanity. Therefore by failing to deliver for Girls, women, and Youths, policy makers of this generation will be committing a crime that present and future generations will not pardon.
But well, we the youths of this generation won‘t sit arms folded to see you commit such heinous crimes, because our silence-that of Girls, Women, and Youths is a roar that will degenerate into something worse if not listened to.
May 27, 2013
May 25, 2013
Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths & Miscarriages?
On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”
The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.
If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state would be setting a “dangerous precedent” that “unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide,” says Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal organization that has joined with Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, to defend Buckhalter. If Buckhalter’s case goes forward, NAPW fears it could spur a wave of similar prosecutions in Mississippi and other states.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 16, 2013
Melissa Harris-Perry’s Panel looks at Elizabeth Smart’s recent comments on abstinence-only sex education and whether the policy is effective.
WATCH IT HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty_MA_mrow8
May 13, 2013
May 11, 2013
“Sadly, real or perceived controversy keeps schools from providing young people with the information and skills they need to become sexually healthy adults. Just like other topics taught in school, sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate, sequential and complete.
Irrational fear – the cultural belief that teaching young people about sex will cause them to have sex – keeps administrators and educators from doing what they know is best: providing young people with developmentally appropriate, sequential and honest sex education. Never mind that 30 years of public health research clearly demonstrates that when young people receive such education, they are more likely to delay sexual initiation, and to use protection when they do eventually become sexually active, than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence. Withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant.
Ninety-five percent of all Americans have sex before marriage. About half of all young people begin having sex by age 17. Providing a foundation of quality sex education is the only way to ensure that young people will grow into sexually healthy adults. It can augment what children learn at home and combat misinformation learned from peers or found on the Internet. Porn is not the best way for teenagers to learn about sex, but it will fill the vacuum when sex education is politicized and withheld from our classrooms.
Quality sex education should start in kindergarten. Early elementary school students need to learn the proper names for their body parts, the difference between good touch and bad touch, and ways in which they can be a good friend (the foundation for healthy intimate relationships later in life). Fourth- and fifth-graders need information about puberty and their changing bodies, Internet safety, and the harmful impact of bullying. And seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are ready for information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, H.I.V. and disease prevention, communication, and the topic they most want to learn about: healthy relationships.”
May 8, 2013
TODAY, the North Carolina House of Representatives will be debating a bill (HB 693) that would require teenagers notarized parental consent form in order to access STD testing and treatment, mental health counseling, pregnancy prevention or care, or substance abuse treatment. Teenagers without a parent or guardian would be required to stand before a judge and request a judicial bypass in order to obtain those health services.
Let’s do a quick before and after:
RIGHT NOW, a young person in North Carolina can see a doctor for STD testing and treatment, mental health counseling, pregnancy prevention and care, or substance abuse treatment WITHOUT parental consent.
IF THIS LAW PASSES: A young person would need NOTARIZED parental permission to see a doctor for any and all of these services (including abortion).*
Obvious problematic scenarios arise: For example, a young woman who may be sexually active may decide to forgo birth control because she is not willing to speak with their parents. There’s also the question of how often signatures are required? Is it every time you get a pap test or every time you pick up monthly contraception or antidepressant prescriptions? Does this include OTC contraception? Would young people need notarized parental permission to buy condoms?
The bill is so vague that it offers more questions than answers and the answers we do have are problematic and dangerous for young people’s health and safety.
If this law passes, North Carolina would be the ONLY state in the U.S. to amend that parental consent requirements include STD testing and treatment and mental health counseling.
It’s also worth noting that even though every state has some type of parental consent law in some form or fashion, NO state has ever required notarization. That extra step will undoubtedly make it harder for young people in North Carolina to access the services they need to lead healthy lives.
The bill is going to the House today. I hope the House leadership feels embarrassed about how far this bill goes and does the right thing for young people in their state. Crossing my fingers that House leadership doesn’t allow this crazy to go any further!
If you live in North Carolina, I recommend contacting Republican members of the House to let them know why you’re concerned about this bill. They need to hear your perspective as a young person, parent, or professional to know about how truly outrageous this effort is for our young people’s safety and health.
*However, Title X clinics, meaning any clinic which receives federal funding under Title X and including all Planned Parenthood clinics, must still by law offer confidential STI testing and treatment, and contraception, regardless of any state law.
May 8, 2013
Health is a key component for all. Statistics show that nearly one third of Nigeria’s total population, totaling about 148.1 million is between the ages of 10 to 24 years. Nigeria’s adolescent sizeable share of the population makes them integral to the country’s social economic development.
Nigeria development has compromised sexual and reproductive health issues and services making young people vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STI) and unintended pregnancy. However many organizations are working to improve adolescent reproductive and sexual heath through advocacy and prevention programming.
Reproductive and sexual health services if offered for the youth can, among other gains:
- Prevent unintended pregnancies
- Lower the transmission of HIV through testing and treatment people living with HIV.
We young people therefore call upon the government and other civil society actors to ensure that young people, who are the bulk of the Nigerian population, can access reproductive health services without any difficulty or discrimination.
May 8, 2013
I often wonder about sex after pregnancy, so here are some facts:
Pregnancy does not mean the end to sexual desire, before or after child birth, yes women do experience pain during labor how ever for some times after delivering a baby, some women experience pain and this can be very distressing.
This is particularly after first and second babies. Painful sex after child birth varies from women to women and can occur if caused by the general trauma to the vaginal area during childbirth, or cut during the delivery, but it can also be caused by hormones.
The key is to know that its normal and that won’t last forever. If having sex after childbirth is painful some women find that they can get over the discomfort by talking with their partners about it and working through the issue together.
If the discomfort is serious however, women should be encouraged to talk to their gynecologists to get their opinion and help.
Many doctors recommend waiting four to six weeks before resuming sex, to allow the cervix to close and bleeding to stop.Sex should be pleasurable.
If you didn’t know, now you know…
May 7, 2013
The other day I was online and came across an article about Ben Affleck and several other political and celebrity figures becoming part of a campaign to raise awareness about global poverty by living on $1.50 a day.
May 5, 2013
*This is a long post. Just a heads up! Grammatical errors and misspelled words are inevitably bound to show up, as well as the extreme use of the words, awesome, FIERCE, amazing, radical and inspiring.
From April 12- April 14, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the 27th Annual CLPP Conference at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. This was my first time visiting Massachusetts and attending CLPP Conference, so needless to say, I was extremely blessed and excited to be in a safe space to discuss abortion rights and reproductive justice (RJ)!
If you don’t know what CLPP Conference is, let me copy and paste the mission for you, so you can read about how awesome it is!
CLPP(Civil Liberties and Public Policy program) Conference is held every year to create a welcoming space for RJ activists!
“CLPP’s annual conference connects activists from across the U.S. and internationally to build a stronger movement for reproductive justice and social change. We support intergenerational dialogue, encourage youth leadership, and foster cross-movement collaborations. Through plenaries, workshops, panels, and trainings, speakers will highlight successful examples of activism and illuminate how struggles for reproductive and sexual rights are intricately linked to movements for economic, social, gender, and environmental justice.”
Reading that description just got me juiced to write this blog! I have not had much time to reflect on my trip (the reason why this blog is so late) due to school and personal life, but I am just as excited as when I got on the plane to go, so let me give you some amazing highlights from my trip!
Day 1: My six hour red eye flight from SFO to New Jersey to Connecticut has left me feeling groggy, tired, and in need of stimulants! Luckily, I consumed two cups of coffee before I headed out to begin day 1! After picking up the rest of the Advocates crew, we headed out to Hampshire College! The weather was rainy, windy, and the crisp air was not a fan of my sun tinted California skin. East coast weather was not a fan of me and I was not a fan of it either! We remained civil to one another for most of the trip, so it did not ruin my time at CLPP Conference!
After our bellies were fed and we checked into our hotel, we headed to Hampshire College. To be honest, I was a bit deterred upon arrival because I was not accustomed to being at such a small, liberal, privileged campus in the middle of what looked like a scene from a Twilight movie. I also was not fond of the lack of people of color at a reproductive justice/abortion rights conference, which I felt was necessary in such a big, popular space. I ended up giving them the benefit of the doubt, since it was the first day after all.
I helped set up our vending table for the 1 in 3 Campaign (if you don’t know what 1 in 3 is, check it out: 1in3campaign.org). I also got to chat with a few other vendors and hung out with my sistahs! Unfortunately, due to my jet lag, I did not attend the Abortion Speak Out that night, which I deeply regret. I hope that my other sistahs who attended will give you better details on that portion of the conference. I apologize, I teased you with my banter about the weather and small talk. Let’s move on to Day 2….
Day 2: The next day, I felt refreshed and ready to attend workshops! But here are some highlights in the form of quotes from the Opening Plenary:
“I could be killed for doing this work. I face that w/ full knowledge, knowing I’m going to be held + supported by this community”- Anonymous
“In many countries, if you ask a crowd “raise your hand if you know someone who’s died from an illegal abortion” every hand goes up” – Anonymous
“Fuck off Human Rights Campaign” – 16 year old FIERCE QUEER, Trish Bryant
“When we talk about reproductive justice we must also talk about immigration.” – Sonia Guinansaca
“As we continue to build in solidarity and continue to say fuck them…” -Monica Raye Simpson
These lovely gems pumped me up and got me out of my seat praising my fellow RJ sistahs (unbeknownst to them that they are, my sistahs) for their inspiring, unapologetic, FIERCE, words of wisdom and truth! MMM! I just got excited all over again!
Let’s go on to workshops, shall we?
Unpacking Oppressions: Liberation through Media Making:
This workshop gave me life! I truly believe that youth have the power and tools to create and gain acknowledgement through popular social media tools to spread RJ messages more than ever before. The first facilitator, Jamia Wilson, used her journalistic expertise to tell attendees that mainstream media is not the end all be all to spread news. Other sources of media, such as tumblr, youtube, blog sites, etc. have become more advanced at creating a steady platform that gains widespread audiences so much, that mainstream news has caught wind of RJ issues. For example, alternative media helped push the Planned Parenthood situation into becoming national news because RJ activists got upset and took to their blogs! Of course the event spiraled into a lot of negative feedback from Fox News and other conservative outlets, but it went on to show that we do have a voice and a platform to engage audiences about what we stand for.
During the second half of the workshop, Colorado queer youth activists, Trish Bryant and Eleanor Dewey, engaged the audience by telling us the story of how they have created their own media in order to spread the voices of queer identifying youth of color in Colorado. Using little resources, they bought a camera, tripod, and editing equipment and made their own documentary because they felt that queer youth did not have any positive images in the media. I cannot express to you how empowering this was for me. Seeing young people take matters into their own hands to create positive images for the next generation really inspired me to create videos on my own. I am also a new fangirl of 16 year old, Trish Bryant, who is just way too cool and more bad ass than I will ever be. She is a fan of bell hooks. Enough said.
*I forgot the name of this workshop:
Facilitators, Steph Harold and Poonam Dreyfus-Pai presented their research thesis, called Reading Women’s Lives. During this study, they observed a group of women in book clubs, who read a book about abortion stories and discussed their findings. They found that these women were affected and transformed by storytelling, which is crucial in framing abortion rights. This small group setting and reading material allowed a safe space for women to tell their abortion stories, whether they were pro-choice or pro-life. As I am training to be a peer counselor for an after-abortion hotline, I have realized that having a space to express your thoughts and feelings around abortion is necessary. We must validate and put a name to people’s individual experiences. Abortion should not be seen as a political stance. It is an individual experience and people have the right to tell their stories and put a face to the experience in a public space if they choose to.
At Your Cervix: A Self-Exam Workshop:
Lauren Mitchell, facilitator, taught us how to perform a self pelvic and breast exams. I was quite nervous to attend this event because I am extremely sensitive to graphic material. Lauren was an amazing teacher and taught us step by step instructions. Although I don’t think I will be performing any self-exams soon, I did find this workshop to be empowering in the sense that women have the right to learn and explore their bodies. I also got a free speculum!
Day 3: I will keep this quick because I’ve already written enough!
The Revolution Starts with Me: Incorporating Self-Care and Preventing Burnout: This workshop was the perfect ending to a lovely weekend. For many activists, such as myself, it can be difficult to practice self-care when you are out trying to educate, empower, and uplift others folks. In my personal life, I struggle with aligning school, activism, and work into an organized manner, which leaves me tired and listless at the end of the day. Facilitators, Adaku and Nicole, started the 90 minute workshop off with meditation. After our relaxation session, we went on to discuss reasons why we are burned out and how it is easy to forget about our body temples. While our work is never done, we can take a break to go out dancing, take naps, go running, and eat healthy. We do not have to feel guilty about saying no or eating ice cream. We deserve it! We compiled a list of self-care tips, which I have found extremely useful. Bubble baths and my India Arie pandora playlist are officially a weekly thing for me.
To sum it up, CLPP Conference has changed me. I love life changing conferences! Being around such radical people has led me to check my privilege, change my dialoguem share my stories, and provide a listening ear to those who need it the most. CLPP Conference created a safe space for me to promote the work I do in the Bay Area, establish a network of women I can lean on, and take what I have learned and put it into practice. There were more POCs being represented at CLPP than the years before, from what I heard, which was great! Being a women of color in the same space as Eesha Pandit Monica Ray Simpson and Miriam Zoila Perez (to name a few) was life altering!
Amherst, you were hella cold, but you were good to me. That six hour flight was totally worth it.
Thank you to Advocates for Youth and Trina Scott for giving me the opportunity to attend CLPP Conference 2013! I am ever so grateful!
May 4, 2013
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.
Apr 30, 2013
Transgender women are the fastest growing population of the HIV-positive. The National Institutes of Health came out with a report, noting that almost a third of transgender Americans have HIV. Trans women of color specifically are at a greater risk than their white sisters. Through a survey, it was found that 56% of black trans women have HIV. The 2009 study from NIH also noted that many transgender women may not even know their HIV status. With an alarming statistic like this, we have to wonder what’s causing it.
When individuals are thrown into social injustice, it can be difficult to escape from. Trans women are profiled and disproportionately targeted and arrested by the law enforcement. The police will try to use condoms as evidence of sex work, so trans women face the “choice” of keeping themselves and their partners safe or getting arrested. When they’re forced into jail, trans women are often housed with male inmates or they are put into solitary confinement, as if either path is any better. Sex workers are generally more likely to be HIV-positive than those who are not engaged in sex work, but because of the disproportionate targeting of trans women, trans women sex workers’ risk for HIV is four times greater.
While sex work is a valid way of meeting financial needs, some trans women turn to it as an option because of discrimination in employment. In most of the United States, it’s completely legal to turn down or dismiss a person based on gender identity and sexual orientation. People can even be denied housing or become evicted because of their gender identity and orientation. This leaves a dangerously negative and significant impact on their economic well-being and safety. It also makes it difficult for trans women especially to keep up with their hormonal therapy, since it’s often not covered by insurance, if they can even pay for that insurance with what the circumstances are. With lack of access to basic health care, many incompetent doctors, clinics, social stigma, and overall institutions that discriminate against trans women, especially those of color– it’s all a very nasty formula expressing why trans women are hit so hard with HIV.
So, what can we do to help? Trans people are often absent from public campaigns for sexual health and safety. We can start by including them into that, and into many of our discussions and campaigns of social justice as well. We could get trans-specific in our literature in safer sex guides. We could also set up community centers as a safe space for trans people and create some peer groups, which would be strong social networks and a good use of peer outreach for safer sex and HIV testing. And of course we could and should create social support and do our part to de-stigmatize our trans brothers and sisters. Look up a local or national activist organization today.
Apr 29, 2013
Being able to attend the 46th Untied Nation Commission on Population and Development during the 22nd and 26th of April was definitely a great experience for me. While entering the UN not as a tourist excited me since my dream since childhood is to be able to work for the UN, attending the sessions enabled me to have a deeper understanding of the political debate of sexual and reproductive health and rights at an international level.
This year’s CPD focused on “demographic changes and new trends in migration”. Although the meeting started somewhat like a statistical presentation, the debate over the resolution quickly started around numbers of red-lights issues.
The first, without any doubt, was around the sexual and reproductive health and rights. Although I definitely understood the cultural differences among countries and their reasons for arguing against SRHR, at some point, the debate became too frustrated for me to continue engaging since the oppositions started to become irrational. The misunderstanding of SRHR was huge. The major argument of oppositions was SRHR=abortion without realizing all other great things that SRHR promoted—for example, maternal health, empowering women, and in fact, with proper use of contraception method, abortion, especial unsafe abortion, could be avoid. However, they argued one-sidely about abortion. But, as a matter of fact, they themselves also argued for better health of mothers as well as economic opportunity for migrants—which was ironic because to achieve all of these goals, promoting SRHR is necessary.
The second red-light issue that received a lot focuses was the argument of national sovereignty and migrants’ equal access to services. This debate was actually heart-breaking for me to observe. Apparently, while conservative countries remained in opposition, countries which had a tradition of supporting universal human rights turned against migrants’ rights majorly with the consideration of national sovereignty and the fear of undocumented migrants’ usage of social welfare. As a politician put in his words—“I don’t care the human rights of migrants, because they are in my country, they need to play by my rules.”
Rules, or as a delegation stated during the plenary—“legal status and regulation”, separated migrants’ rights from universal human rights and turned the discussion during the 46th UN CPD into a debated of “us” and “them”. While migrants should be considered as natural human beings, their manmade titles such as “undocumented” make them subject to structural violence—defined by Johan Galtung as a form of violence where some social structure or social institution purportedly harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs—created by legal systems which are intended to protect universal human rights but become institutions only for “us”, not “them”.
Consequentially, this legal barrier makes migrants, especially those undocumented migrants, more vulnerable to ill health. On the one hand, administrative hurdle and legal status, sometimes couple with other social risk factors such as poverty, stigma, and social exclusion, lead to the lack of social security and protection for migrants which cause the exacerbation of health conditions may due to migrants’ suffering of human trafficking, sexual violence, and exploitation, on the other hand, legal status also blocks migrants’ access to services. As a result, migrants face a health disparity that sometimes even cannot be voiced due to legal barriers. For example, migrant women frequently endure sexual coercion and abuse, without the ability to report these crimes to a local authority; young migrants are often afraid to access health services for fear of discrimination, detention or deportation because of their migratory status. In fact, I have a much deeper understanding of this fear. On the one hand, during my spring trip to Immokalee, Florida with the George Washington University Alternative Spring Break program, I heard lots of stories from undocumented migrant workers there about their inability to use healthcare services. One young lady said she had to turn to unsafe abortion method because she entered the country illegally and was afraid hospitals would report her to the government. On the other hand, as an international student with legal status, I still cannot fully utilize health services like an American citizen. As a result, I urge countries to ensure migrants’ equal access to basic health services regardless their legal status and their ability to pay. I also hope to call for international society’s recognition of migrants’ rights as human rights.
The last thing I learnt from CPD was the importance of NGOs. Imaging the one-week debate among politicians will determine people’s lives around the world made me somewhat cannot accept. Although I totally understood each nation’s position and the obligations for its own politicians to stand for the position, I also felt there lack a representation of the real people in the country. While the nation may argue from a religious point of view to against SRHR, it was the people who were suffering from this decision. As a result, NGOs are very important because they are the channels of the real voices and demands of people. I am very proud of myself can be part of this channel for young people’s voice to be heard.
Apr 27, 2013
« KO! KO! KO! », shouted the crowd .Mind you, they weren’t participating in a boxing match, neither were they at a musical concert, they shouted KO! in response to the health officials that took turns in sensitizing the crowd of more than 5000 that gathered at the Douala Place du Gouvernement to participate in the 9KM sensitization Walk that was organized by the Cameroon’s Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and better known by its French acronym CCATSIDA, Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health, and other stakeholders (local and international) in the fight against Malaria this Saturday 20th April 2013.
Being a participant, I could not help but be marveled at how engaged fellow participants were as we criss-crossed the streets of Cameroon’s most populated town. Young and old, and from diverse horizons, one thing united this people; that Malaria be kicked Out of Cameroon.
This passion and demonstrated in the endurance of the participants all through the alertness of their footsteps and the smile on their faces, could not however stop me from asking myself fundamental questions around the strategy for the fight against Malaria in my country. Thus, when one of the thousands of spectators that had amassed at streets corners shouted, “Where are condoms?”, there was an outburst of laughter from the crowd, I began asking myself what might have prompted this spectator to ask the question he did. As I thought about this, my eyes fell on the logo of the Cameroonian Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and on the T-Shirt of the participant ahead of me, my answer was here. The words AIDS on this coalitions logo prompted the question from this spectator.
AIDS and its prevention methods are better known in Cameroon than Malaria and its means of protection. This is paradoxical given that Malaria kills in Cameroon and Sub-Saharan Africa than HIV/AIDS. Mind you, I am in no way saying that resources (human and material) should be shifted from the fight against HIV/AIDS, which is causing havoc in Cameroon especially amongst youths, to the fight against Malaria. The point I am trying to make is that the fight against Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis has for long been done as though they were isolated.
It is true that a person that has Malaria or Tuberculosis is not automatically an HIV/AIDS patient, but most often people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Cameroon are victims of the Malaria and tuberculosis given the milieu in which they live and the little means they have to survive on.
I have for long being convinced that an effective fight against Malaria cannot be done in an isolated manner but must be inclusive; taking into consideration the vectors of the disease in various communities in Cameroon. A dirty environment provides good breeding grounds for Mosquitoes especially the female Anopheles mosquito, through which Malaria is spread, the fight against Malaria must start from there. If a clean environment is achieved through mechanism through efficient urban development and poverty reduction strategies, Malaria will be made history. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that prevention is better than Cure?
In Cameroon and I guess is the case elsewhere in the world, a change from a dirty and crowded environment to a cleaner environment is the main indicator that a person has emerged from poverty. This is so because people who could barely afford 3 meals a day will have little time to think about the environments in which they live talk less of women in this bracket going for prenatal consultation or even having time to take their infants to the hospital when they are sick. Thus, despite the bed-nets distribution campaigns that have been organized all over Cameroon and despite the fact that Malaria treatment is free for children and pregnant women in Cameroon, Malaria killed more than 3000 people most of whom children.
Without an efficient attack on poverty, which is fertile ground for poor living conditions, I am afraid our walk and much talk on the fight against Malaria will be in vain. For Malaria to be kicked out of this country, we must not only walk on occasions like those organized to mark the World day for the fight against Malaria, we must truly walk the talk on the fight against Malaria daily, by launching an immediate assault and poverty. Because Malaria is the consequence of a dirty environment which is its self a glaring consequence of poverty.
Apr 25, 2013
The two years I spent serving as a health volunteer with the Peace Corps in West Africa were some of the most formative years of my life. They fostered my sense of independence and resourcefulness, solidified my career and life goals, and taught me to question injustices, particularly those injustices that jeopardized the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young women and girls and placed them at an educational, economic, social, and political disadvantage. I never imagined that one day I would find myself questioning injustices faced by Peace Corps volunteers themselves.
More than 210,000 of us have served in the Peace Corps since its founding 52 years ago. As anyone can attest, Peace Corps volunteers provide an invaluable service to our country and the countries in which we serve, but we often do it at risk to our own safety and security. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 volunteers have experienced sexual assault. Women—who comprise more than 60 percent of the 8,000 currently serving volunteers—should never have to face the tragedy of a sexual assault, but if they do, they should be able to access comprehensive health care and support services. Yet, Peace Corps volunteers are now one of the only groups of women who receive their health care through the federal government who are denied coverage for abortion services in the cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.
We must change this outrageously blatant discriminatory policy! Join me in demanding health equity and fairness for Peace Corps volunteers!
Denying volunteers a basic health care benefit that is extended to all other federal employees—including the Peace Corps employees who work with these volunteers—is grossly unfair and denies thousands of volunteers access to vital health services. Women serving our country deserve equity and fairness in access to health care, consistent with other areas of federal law.
Fortunately, Senators Lautenberg, Shaheen, Gillibrand, Boxer, Murray, Warren, and Murphy introduced the Peace Corps Equity Act (S. 813), which would repeal this inequitable restriction on women’s health and allow the Peace Corps to provide the same coverage for abortion care—in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment—as employees covered under other federal health plans currently receive.
No woman should face life endangerment because she cannot access a medical procedure that is safe and legal in the United States.
Director of Public Policy and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer