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When I was five I realized that it’s impossible for a stork to fly down and leave a baby at my parent’s doorstep, or babies come out of mother’s bellybuttons. I was a curious child, always asking a million questions about everything. So when the topic came of where my little sister “came from” my mother told me these common unrealistic stories. She has told me she only did this for two main reasons, the fact I was so young, and also my “maturity level” at the time. She believed telling me how babies were made and the idea of sex, Id look at my vagina and be terrified. I probably would be terrified at the time, but I soon later found out on my own and eventually had the talk with my parents. But what happens to the kids who don’t have the sex talk with their parents and have no sex education in school?

Teens will have sex eventually in life, whether they wait till marriage or not. The consequence of not discussing such an integral part of life often has the opposite of the intended effect. According to the poll Let’s talk: Are Parents Tackling Crucial conversations about Sex? 57% of parents are uncomfortable having discussions about sex and the topics surrounding it with their kids. 94% of parents feel they have the power to influence their teen’s sexual choices, so why are so many parents reluctant to have these important conversations?

Most schools have some kind of sex education whether it is an absence only program, or comprehensive sex education, parents still should not rely on the school system to teach sex education. Many parents leave it to the school system because they’re just uncomfortable talking about sex. Some parents and their parents may have not have had the sex talk. Mostly because society in previous generations has not been as open with the sex talk compared to now. The main problem is how can teens be expected to talk with their parents about sex, or even to trust their parents with sensitive information, if parents make it clear that they are not comfortable discussing sex? Discussing sex is a part of starting an open communication with your child from a young age, and having a parent to talk with about sex and birth control in your teen years can eliminates many dangers, such as false or harmful information gleaned from peers, neglect of protective measures, and attempting to solve serious problems alone such as an unwanted pregnancy or an STD.

Parents’ providing their child with what THEY want them to know about sex is very important, rather than depending on someone else who could be giving them misleading and inaccurate information. Talking openly and honestly, answers your child’s questions, and seizes opportunities to help them make smart decisions about their relationships and behavior can help your child out dramatically. You have some parents who encourage their children to wait until marriage; others tell their children that they can make their own decisions as long as they are safe, and the some who never talk to their kids at all. Yet at the end of the day parents all want the same things for their children when it comes to sex; for them to be safe, happy, and protected.

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2015 was a big year for me. I studied abroad in England, traveled to ten countries in Europe and Africa, spent my summer interning at a prominent nonprofit in Washington, D.C., and graduated from college! As I rang in the New Year with my family and made resolutions, I decided that I wanted– and needed to take better care of myself.


I was only able to say yes to exciting opportunities and take risks in 2015 because I had the support of my family, friends, and health insurance, to fall back on. When I was stressed, I knew I could turn to someone to talk to and when I got sick, I knew that I could see a doctor and get the medication I needed without a problem.


My health insurance empowered me in more ways than one and as I approach the next phase of my life– starting graduate school and my career– I wanted to make sure I was healthy and well. So, to start off the year, I made an appointment to see my OB/GYN.


I asked my doctor a bunch of questions about my health, my body, and contraception. I knew that I didn’t want to have children at this point in my life so we discussed different birth control options and decided that the IUD was the best option for me.


I also had a pap smear– which I was really looking forward to. When I told my friends over brunch they were confused and asked me why I was so excited. The reason? Peace of mind.


A few days after my appointment, I got the test results back and felt relief knowing there were no traces of cervical cancer. I was just a healthy twenty one year old who could focus on getting my master’s and finding a job, and planning my next vacation.


I know that life gets busy especially around the holidays and with school, work, family, and other commitments. People shrug off that pain in their back or the lump they feel in their breast because they’re caring for family member or trying to make a deadline at work. But it’s important for people to prioritize their own health and wellbeing too. After all, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first, before assisting others.


So as we celebrate the start of the new year and look towards National Youth Enrollment Day, I encourage you to get covered! Young people are one of the largest group of uninsured people in the United States. Between 2013 and 2014, nearly half of newly insured people were millennials but more and more people are still without insurance. We desperately need to change that. Please visit healthcare.gov for more information– or if you already have insurance, tell a friend! Together, we can ensure that people have access to healthcare– especially contraceptives and preventative care– and no one gets left behind.

Categories: Health Care
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Two great decisions came down from the Supreme Court today!


In King, v. Burwell, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that subsidies can remain available to people who get their health insurance coverage through “federally facilitated” health insurance exchanges, which 34 states use. For some background, the Affordable Care Act requires that most people enroll in health insurance, but without assistance this insurance coverage would be unaffordable to many. So the Act provides subsidies, in the form of tax credits, to help low and middle income people afford health insurance. By preserving the availability of the subsidies for people in all states, the Court preserved affordable health coverage for over 6 million people. Slate has a pretty great breakdown here of what was at stake in each state.


So why was King even a thing? The case was brought by some conservative lawyers, who seized on the way a couple sentences in the Affordable Care Act law to argue that only people who receive health insurance through state facilitated health insurance exchanges could be eligible for subsidies. This argument went against all common sense, evidence, and the statements of pretty much everyone involved in writing and passing the law. But, the Supreme Court took the case, so we got worried!  Advocates for Youth signed on to a “friend of the court” brief put together by the National Women’s Law Center, which highlighted the importance of the Affordable Care Act subsidies to guaranteeing affordable healthcare for so many people across the country, as well as the disproportionate impact a bad ruling in King v. Burwell could have for communities that have historically lacked access to health care.

Today’s decision upholding the subsidies is a huge relief.

In addition, the Court ruled in Texas Dept of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project. In that case, the Supreme Court said that people can bring “disparate impact” claims under the Fair Housing Act. There are two main types of arguments that people make when they bring a lawsuit to challenge an action as discriminatory: disparate treatment and disparate impact. Disparate treatment arguments require that the person challenging a discriminatory action prove that its purpose was to discriminate. In contrast, disparate impact arguments require that there is proof only of a discriminatory effect. For example, if a person sues a landlord for denying her housing based on her race, a disparate treatment claim would require her to find some sort of proof of the landlord saying outright that he denied her housing because of her race. A disparate impact claim could rely on other evidence, such as evidence that the landlord always denied housing to people who are not white, and almost never denied housing to someone who is white.  Disparate impact arguments have been increasingly important for civil rights advocates as overt statements of bigotry have become rarer. At the same time, the Supreme Court has been less and less tolerant of these arguments, which is why we were excited to see the Court today affirm them as legitimate in the context of Fair Housing!

We’re still waiting to hear about a couple more big cases, including Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court could effectively legalize same-sex marriage across the country! But for now, we’ll close with a scene from the White House when they heard the news:

Categories: Health Care
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On 25th April, 2015 a devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitude struck Nepal that claimed more than 8000 lives and left thousands of people injured. Houses that sheltered millions of people collapsed and were turned into nothing more than rubble. Its education system has been hit hard as well, where thousands of schools were damaged or were unsafe. The health system has suffered nonetheless. Twenty six hospitals and over 1100 health facilities were damaged and 90% of health facilities outside the main towns rendered non-functional. Those that are still functional are overwhelmed by the increasing number of casualties.

Nepal is a developing country and this unfortunate event has caused the loss of nearly half the country’s GDP setting back the country’s development for several years. Moreover it is the poor and the vulnerable who have suffered the most. The frequent aftershocks that still persist have left a state of uncertainty, traumatizing the minds of people. In such precarious situation where services have been disrupted with no certainty of food and commodities and people have been displaced from their homes having to live in the makeshift tents with minimal facilities, the health and dignity of vulnerable i.e. the women and girls are in question.

Based on the latest available data, UNFPA estimates some 2 million women and girls of reproductive age are affected – including some 126,000 pregnant women. The cases of complicated and home deliveries have come into light since the obstetric services are limited and not easily available. Furthermore the lack of nutritious food to the mothers and children especially in the areas where the earthquake has hit hard and the lack of water, sanitation and toilets have posed a serious threats to the health of these newly borns, mothers and girls increasing the chances of maternal and neonatal mortality and long term reproductive health problems. The stress and disruption of emergencies has also led to a rise in sexual violence, exploitation and domestic abuse. Even in these emergency situations, people are still bounded by the social taboos on menstruation and it is the girls who are left to suffer in silence. The news of poor, homeless and orphaned children being trafficked for labor and sex trade in the India-Nepal border is all the more unsettling. The post traumatic stress, psychological trauma and depression and its effect on reproductive health is also a matter of immediate concern.

There is an urgent need to address these issues so as to mitigate the adverse and long lasting effects of earthquake on the health and dignity of women and girls. The pressing issues of lives lost, injuries, food and shelter has no doubt dominated the country’s relief approach. However, it has become a necessity to design the approach in a more systematic and evidence based manner so as to take various serious matters such as of reproductive health side by side along with the major and obvious matters in hand. The reproductive health services with obstetric care and equipments need to be made available to the earthquake hit districts as soon as possible. Reaching sanitation, toilets and safe drinking water along with nutritious foods for the needy, in this case the pregnant and lactating mothers and children are of prime importance as well, to ensure their survival. Also psychosocial support and awareness and education regarding sanitation and hygiene during menstruation, trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse and food and nutrition need to be given much attention as well. Duplication and waste of resources needs to be taken care of so that the supplies and help may actually reach where they need the most.

In this time of great tragedy, all need to work hand in hand and in harmony for the survival and for humanity.

Categories: Health Care
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At the age of 10, 11, 12 young girls go through a very serious stage of their lives, they turn from young girls into mature girls with more responsibilities according their health and behavior.

The menstrual hygiene process is different for every girl and woman. It is very specific, because it relates with the organism of the person, with the health situation and mostly with the inner feelings and emotions. When this stage of life comes to a young girl she doesn’t know what she has to do and what is she going to face up to through all her life and that’s why she should be well-educated on this topic, she should know her organism in order to know how to react when it happens. It is very important young girls from 7-9 years old to talk freely with their families on this topic, especially with their mothers and sisters. There are many girls that grow faster than others and they should be prepared and know how to react, because the first time the menstruation comes they may be alone and they should know what to do. It will be very good if in each school the nurses could be the people to turn to when this happens and they should explain the change of the organism and the management with the menstrual hygiene to young girls and they should provide consultation time for example once or twice a week when girls could go and speak freely on this topic and ask questions without being judged from their families, friends or the society in general.

What bothers me is that in many countries this stage of life is connected with marriage. In these countries when the menstruation comes it is considered that the girl is ready to get married, have children and start a family. Yes, the start of the menstruation process is a sign of the maturity of young girls’ organisms, but it is not a sign of the maturity of their minds, souls and spirit. A 12 or 13 year old girls could not know whether she wants to spend the rest of her life married to somebody, taking care of the children and doing housework. Young girls have dreams that include that, but somewhere in the future, not in the when they are supposed to get education, live their dreams and be carefree. With the arranged marriages from early age many girls are being suppressed and forced into doing something they don’t want to and most of all their own wishes are being crushed. How can this stimulate girls and make them feel safe in the world around them? I understand that in some countries there are traditions, but I don’t understand how the women don’t have access to good education, to politics, etc.

I support strongly the menstrual hygiene day, because this is an initiative that brings us one step closer to what we want to achieve – the independence of women, the protection of their rights and wishes, their education and guarantee for a secure future.

Preslava Ivanova, Bulgaria

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Planned Parenthood has developed the reputation of this evil place that only performs abortions. First off, this is NOT TRUE. This is probably the most common misconception of this health facility. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was gossiped about by strict southern evangelists when they speak with friends and family, especially if it was a topic that came up on the ballot. With the negative connotations that come along when one says “Planned Parenthood”, often times when the opportunity to vote for the construction of a facility, it gets vetoed by the misinformed public. The south has a high rate of church attendance; many ‘anti-abortion-clinic’ vigilantes often associate the entirety of the health agency of Planned Parenthood with just abortions. Which is a real shame because the agency provides so many other helpful resources for women and men.
Aside from the controversial topic, Planned Parenthood provides several other health care resources such as, birth control, STD testing, health screenings like breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings, HPV shots, guidance from doctors about pregnancy, general information on sex education, parenting classes, body image, relationships, understanding the importance of sexual orientation and gender identity, women/men’s sexual health, and much more. Needless to say, it’s unfair to just label this facility as a place that only provides abortions. Planned Parenthood also conducts studies with various graduate schools to monitor teens’ and young women’s sexual health, as a way to reach out and get young women to actively learn about their health.
The most ironic part about southerners preaching about anti abortion clinics due to their religious beliefs, the south has indubitably some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy. Reasons? Poor education system, and parents can vote on “controversial topics” that prohibits certain schools to teach sex education at various grade levels. Also, there’s a lack of communication with adults about pregnancy prevention, because with a Christian mindset one of the first reasons to avoid the topic: “you shouldn’t be fornicating in the first place so there’s no reason to talk about prevention”. (Which are true words, I’ve heard a grandmother tell her grandson). Another major reason: limited resources to obtain birth control, like pills and condoms. The first place that comes to mind when thinking of the easiest place to access condoms are at the store but let’s face it condoms are expensive! So why spend the money, when you can save it? Right? WRONG! Birth control is really important is terms of prevention. That’s why it’s important to support and build these health care facilities around the state so that these teens and young adults to receive access to info on sexual health and preventative methods on STDs and unplanned pregnancies.
It’s time we change those negative connotations about Planned Parenthood into positive implications about a health care facility that helped a community become more aware and prepared for its sexual endeavors. Being sexually active doesn’t have to be a taboo to talk about anymore, it’s a serious topic that should be addressed with total and complete honesty.

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It goes more as often as it does not that women are married to men they have no knowledge about in societies such as that of India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Srilanka. They are told to forget their friends after they become “Pati Patni” or “Mian Biwi” and devout themselves to the bond of eternal relation.

This so called “eternal relation” does flourishes but not very often. And when it does not, the results are often quite painful and brutal. Women end up crying proving right the conflict approach of Marx and feminists towards the institution of family. At many occasions these planned marriages go haywire and more often than not, women are the ones who end up job, support, family and most sadly and commonly- Homeless.

According to a survey carried out by the Institute of Family Research and Planning Asia, more than 74% of the divorced women in the country are usually left with no asset to their name and hence are thrown out of their own very homes. The most common cause being “Childlessness” and “Extra Marital Affairs”. At the end, women are left with their parents, labelled as damaged expected to serve a sentence of disgusted opinions and loneliness as they work like servants at their parents house.

Many of the so called very “moderate” people of these societies would first stand by these women but soon they would desert them as their interests change or their efforts to produce children bear no fruit. At the end, the blame goes all onto women.

I do agree that people themselves are to blame at many occasions but what is the basic reason of such flaws in these societies; The Structure of the Society. A society where women are just treated as material things, it is absolutely impossible to give and get them the respect they deserve and need and hence major reforms in this structure are a need of the time.

It is a fact that such changes don’t come overnight but to bring about such changes we need to stand today for what women deserve and have a right to- EQUALITY. For this we need women to become independent, swear away the label of being weak and rise to the level of equality. #RespectThoseWhoGaveYouBirth #StandUpToInjustice #TeachADaughterLikeASon

Categories: Health Care
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Many people in Nepal are ignorant about cancer. This is because unlike infectious disease, chronic diseases like cancer comes under least priority area of governmental health policy in Nepal. Very few national programs are conducted to educate and aware people about cancer. Education program are conducted sporadically and only few people have access to such program.

In the recent time, Healthy Nepal Foundation (HNF), an organization dedicated to increase awareness about cancer has done some remarkable work to increase understanding of cancer to Nepalese population. Since 2012, HNF has developed several education modules to educate students and public about common cancer such as cervical, breast, oral and lung cancer in Nepal. With the help of volunteers from different colleges, this organization conducts program at colleges and sometime in the community.


Volunteers is the main working pillars of HFN. “With the help of volunteers, we are able to conduct education programs at around twenty schools to date and our main goal is to educate student and the public about cancer and its prevention”, said Kiran Sapkota, co-founder of the organization. “We are dedicated to educate and inform public about risks of cancer and promote healthy life style to reduce cancer burden in the society”, Sapkota said.

Members of healthy Nepal foundation have conducted several education program at secondary schools, higher secondary colleges and universities around the nation. HN College Coordinator Mr. Sunil Pandey, who is also a student of Medical Microbiology at Nobel College, said “we have got very good response and appreciation from both teachers and guardians from respective schools where we conduct cancer education program”.  Mr. Pandey was so passionate to assist HNF that he allocate his tight time schedule out of his college to conduct programs around the nation. Mr. Pandey contact schools, recruit volunteers, communicate with teacher and conduct education awareness program at different schools around the country. “With the help of experts we were able to develop education material for only few cancers and we are still developing additional cancer programs in the future” said Pandey.


Healthy Nepal Foundation is operated by physicians, public health officials, and community and school volunteers. Till date it has conducted programs in Parwat, Myagdi, Baglung, Pokhara, Kathmandu, Chitwan and several other districts. “Our main aim is to make a disease free healthy society” said Dr. Kalyan Sapkota, another co-founder of the organization. Dr. Sapkota and his team have conducted cancer screening programs at several communities in Myagdi, Parwat and Baglung in the past.


Currently Healthy Nepal has concentrated more of its activities on educating students and public about cervical and breast cancer. “These two cancers are the significant cause of mortality and morbidity in women in Nepal” said Dr. Sapkota. With the available funding, Healthy Nepal Foundation had organized free Pap smear screening camp at different places in Nepal.  A pap test is the best way to detect cell changes that may be early sign of precancerous of the cervix.

Dr. Sapkota added that, Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there are a number of risk factors. “If we reduce these risk factors, we can minimize the number of cancer patients in Nepal’, said Dr. Sapkota.  Sharing his experience while conducting cervical cancer awareness program, Mr. Sunil Pandey said, we were so shocked to know that many students do not know much about common cancer, and many have misconception about it. After we conduct program, we do posttest and found that our program really changed how students perceive about cancer. Their knowledge remarkably changes just after an hour or two education session, added Mr. Pandey. Many women do not know about the screening test available to detect cancer at early age. This include Pap smear screening and self-breast examination in Nepal.

Mr. Sunil Panday said there are several opportunities available for youth to be involved in cancer education projects. He is recruiting many volunteers to initiate oral and lung cancer awareness in the near future. For more information or to get involved, email healthynepalfoundation@gmail.com, or visit the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/healthynepal

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The first case of HIV in Ukraine was reported in 1987, since then, health records suggest that the estimate of all Ukrainians who were HIV positive in 2010 was about 360,000. In the country and the surrounding area, HIV has spread rapidly. In some parts of the Black Sea region, there are up to 100,000 new cases of HIV each year. Economic crisis and armed conflict are factors that are provoking a surge in the virus. “We are all concerned about the rise of HIV/AIDS in the region” Director of the World Bank’s Global AIDS Program David Wilson says “this is perhaps the region where HIV is growing fastest.”

Historically, the majority of people living with HIV in Ukraine were infected with the virus via sharing needles when injecting drugs. Public health professionals and NGOs saw an opportunity both to reduce the number of people addicted to drugs and the incidence of HIV through a needle exchange and opioid substitution program. (Based on international practice, three interventions are needed to reduce the rate of transmission: needle exchange, substitution therapy, and treatment for people with HIV.) Substitution drugs act like a nicotine patch, they are used in place of the injection drug.  After the introduction of this program, as well as other harm reduction and education initiatives, the incidence of disease has decreased in the country.  Transmission still continues to occur, and most often occurs in the southeastern section of the country. Most people living with HIV live in this part of the country.

Conflict in Ukraine’s east and the annexation of Crimea by Russia has heightened health disparities for people living with HIV. The central government decision to cut off humanitarian aid to the separatist-held east in November has resulted in urgent shortages of narcotics substitutes for people who inject drugs. Supplies of substitution drugs are due to run out in east Ukraine at the beginning of 2015. When they run out of drugs they will be forced to migrate or can regress to taking illegal drugs, and sharing dirty needles. This policy could undo years of progress in curbing Ukraine’s HIV epidemic.

As the global community discusses and debates the new set of benchmarks in international development, we need to prioritize and guarantee access to healthcare services in conflict zones. Humanitarian access is crucial in situations of armed conflict where civilians are in desperate need of assistance. As young people, we have the power to advocate for issues that are important, and accessibility to HIV treatment is a high priority, and a human right.

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There seems to be a common themes here at CSW – love, adherence to human rights, and protecting human dignity. However, one particular issue seems to be very polarizing – whether or not women all over the world should have access to abortion services.

During a CSW side event hosted by the Center for Health and Gender Equity, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of young women who so happened to be anti-abortion. Because I am very grateful for my right to free speech and freedom of beliefs, I also respect someone else’s right to disagree with my belief. However, I do believe it is my responsibility as a pro-choice, pro-woman, individual to clear up any misconceptions others may have about my beliefs and the work that I do…and that is what I did with these young women.

Because those at CHANGE (and myself), believe post-rape care includes access to safe abortion services, the group of anti-abortion young women were very upset at the conclusion of the event. Along with some inaccurate “Googled” statistics, I overheard them voicing concerns about the care of women who do choose to end their pregnancy. I decided to go over and speak with them to clarify any misconceptions. Based off the discussion, here are the questions the anti-abortion group seem to have for us:

1. “Why are they pushing women to have abortions? What about adoption or parenting?”

We’re not. The pro-choice movement believes women have the right to choose the trajectory of her pregnancy. We believe in providing women with evidence based, comprehensive information so she may be able to make a well-informed decision that fits her beliefs, needs, and situation. We support women regardless of whether they choose to continue with their pregnancy or terminate the pregnancy. If a woman decides to terminate the pregnancy, we believe she has the right to access safe abortion services. If a woman does not have access to safe abortion services and decides to terminate a pregnancy with unsafe procedures, we believe she has the right to post-abortion care services. If a woman decides to continue with her pregnancy, we believe she has the right to prenatal care, safe childbirth, and postnatal care. We also believe women should be supported in their decision to adopt or parent their child as well. No matter which option a woman chooses, she should come to her decision without coercion.

2. “But I saw on Google that 80% of women suffer psychosocial trauma from having an abortion!”

First and foremost, Google is not a citation. Secondly, when I Googled this I did not find a reputable, unbiased source reporting this figure. And when I mean reputable, I mean I did a search on Google Scholar and skimmed through several pages of search results from research journals and could not find this figure. What I did find is that most women do not regret their choice to have an abortion. In the spirit of fairness, I did say most – not all. I am sure there are women who do struggle with their decision. However, denying all women the right to bodily autonomy, health, and individual beliefs is not the appropriate response to those few women who made an autonomous decision and now feel unsure about it (but we should definitely support them as well). Finally, if we are able to provide comprehensive post-rape care in conflict zones, such services would ideally include access to both short-term and long-term psychosocial counseling for women.

3. “Well I was a victim of sexual assault and I’m okay. If I ended up pregnant, I would never terminate the pregnancy.”

Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I’m really glad to hear you were able to overcome what happened to you. I also respect the choice you have made for yourself. However, as important as your experience is, please respect the diverse and numerous experiences of women all around the world. Please respect that some women may find other options better suit their lives – both in the moment or in the future. Please realize that every woman is not you, and every woman does not believe what you believe. Please come from a place of love and empathy and support fellow women instead of trying to impose your individual believes on entire populations.

4. “So at what point do you consider what’s inside a woman to be a baby? Why don’t you just say baby!?”

In the United States, 24 weeks – because that’s when a fetus is able to live outside the womb. Otherwise, I am not here to change your ideology on when a human life begins – that’s your choice to decide. I am only here to make sure you understand that women will choose to have abortions regardless of when you think life begins. My job is to advocate for people who are born, living, and may suffer. Unfortunately, making safe abortions inaccessible does not keep women from having them. However, keeping abortions safe ensures that all women maintain the right to choice, meaning you can continue to believe what you believe without imposing your beliefs on others.

5. “Why do you all keep saying unsafe abortion? What does that even mean?”

I’m glad you asked. Unfortunately, the anti-abortion movement has failed to acknowledge the difference between unsafe abortion and safe abortion by simply deeming all abortion “bad”. Unsafe abortions constitute any method of terminating a pregnancy that leads to complications. Unsafe abortions are usually performed by an unskilled person in an environment lacking minimal medical standards. An unsafe abortion may be induced by sticks, wire hangers, caustic chemicals, or throwing one’s self down the stairs to end a pregnancy. Such methods can lead to uterine perforation, sepsis, hemorrhage, and death. Women living poverty, women living in rural areas, women in developing countries, and women living in countries where abortion is illegal are at most risk of undergoing an unsafe abortion. On the contrary, safe abortions ensure the lives of women are preserved. Safe abortions are performed in medical facilities with skilled providers using evidence-based practices. Facilities where safe abortions are provided ideally offer contraceptive counseling to ensure women are able to prevent a future pregnancy if she chooses.

In conclusion, the anti-abortion movement fails to protect the lives of women in the name of personal beliefs that everyone may not hold. It impedes freedom of beliefs and the right to maintain health and life. It devalues women all over the world and fails to respect their diverse experiences. Imposing your belief to deny women the right to choice is unjust and dangerous. Ensuring abortion is legal, safe, and accessible for all women will not only prevent death and morbidity; it will also ensure all are able to make self-determined decisions for the trajectory of a pregnancy.

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Chelsea Manning, currently serving a 35-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth military prison for exposing military wrong-doings to WikiLeaks, has been waiting a year and a half for life-saving medical treatment. Now, her wait is finally over. In a February 5th memo, Col. Erica Nelson, commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks, announced the army’s decision to provide Manning, who is transgender, with hormone treatment.

“After carefully considering the recommendation that [hormone treatment] is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding [hormone treatment] to Inmate Manning’s treatment plan.”

After being convicted in July, 2013, Pvt. Manning came out as transgender and asked to begin a hormone regiment. She was continually denied access to the healthcare she needed, so in September, 2014, she sued the federal government with the help of the ACLU, asking for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman. The lawsuit “alleged Manning was at a high risk of self-castration and suicide unless she received more focused treatment…”

In a statement released by the National Center for Transgender Equality, Executive Director Mara Keisling spoke on the military’s responsibility to provide inmates with medical care.

“The Army’s decision means it’s simply fulfilling its obligation to provide Manning with medical care. Manning has been diagnosed with a medical condition, and failing to treat it would be cruel and unusual punishment.”

While Manning was approved for hormones, she was denied the right to “female hair grooming,” including growing her hair long (something other female prisoners have the apparent luxury of doing).  In her memo, Col. Nelson said this decision was based on risk assessment. Presumably, this relates to worries about Manning using a razor to shave her legs, yet misses the point that being able to shave her legs would reduce chances of self-harm. “The resistance meeting Chelsea’s full treatment needs,” explains ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, “is a reflection of the deeply entrenched stigma associated with transgender health care.”

In 2015, people who are transgender are still barred from serving openly in the U.S. military. The end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2010 allowed gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers to serve openly, but did not apply to those who are transgender. This is the first time this type of health care has been provided to an American soldier. Transgender and intersex veterans, however, do have access to hormone therapy through the Department of Veteran Affairs, and have since 2011.

Chelsea Manning has already proven herself as someone willing to fight for justice and accountability. Her personal victory in gaining access to health care resonates beyond herself, inspiring others to fight for themselves, and reminding us of the policies and prejudice still left to overcome.

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I am a Resident Advisor to about 65 residents at my university. As a youth activist, I can’t help myself but to spread sexual and reproductive health information to my residents. Last week was National Condom Week, and in its honor, I provided both male and female condoms to my residents. My residents came to the program expecting free male condoms and various edible goodies. However, they were also bombarded with a new, unknown-to-them method:

“OH MY GOD! What are those?”

“I stick this WHERE?”

“Why would anyone use those?”

“Wouldn’t this scare a guy away?”

“Who uses those anyways? I’ve never heard of them.”


I’ll admit the first time I ever heard about female condoms I had the same reaction – until I was able to fully understand the power of female condoms. Female condoms are exactly what they sound like they are – but are inserted inside of the vagina (or the rectum). If you’re interested in a visual on how female condoms work, watch this informative video from Planned Parenthood.


As the reactions of my residents suggest, female condoms are not very popular in the United States.  In fact, out of about 50-60 students who stopped by the program, only one knew about female condoms prior to the event – and he was a guy. However, they have proven popular with both men and women all over the globe. In many countries, female condoms have become one of the preferred methods of choice. Their growing popularity in some places have left health departments unable to keep up with demand! There are several reasons why female condoms are a great method and why they have maintained their popularity among those who use them:


#1 – They are the only method that prevent pregnancy, STIs, and HIV/AIDS that a woman can control and initiate herself – and they’re just about as effective as male condoms. Though there is an array of contraceptive methods for women, only male and female condoms can protect against STIs and HIV/AIDS. With male condoms, a woman must depend on a man to agree to use a condom and use it appropriately. With female condoms, a woman can put her health into her own hand and ensure she’s protected from not only pregnancies but STIs and HIV/AIDS as well.


#2 – They are not made with latex, so allergic reactions are not a problem. Unlike the typical male condom, female condoms are made of nitrile, which is non allergenic. Therefore, a woman does not have to worry about herself or her partner having a bad reaction to female condoms.


#3 - They come pre-lubricated. Particularly among women in menopause, vaginal dryness may be an issue that makes sex uncomfortable. Female condoms are lubricated both on the outside and inside, which provide both partners with comfort and pleasure. If more lubricant is required, users of female condoms can opt for either oil- or water-based lubricants.


#4 – Many men do not enjoy wearing male condoms. Female condoms can allow men to forgo wearing condoms while also receiving pleasure from the design of female condoms, particularly from the rings on either end. In addition, male condoms require a man to be erect before putting it on, which can interrupt the heat of the moment. Female condoms can be put in before any sexual activity even begins – up to 8 hours before!


#5 – They empower women. Due to the very nature of inserting female condoms, women must become comfortable with their bodies and understand their anatomy. In addition, commercial sex workers do not have to worry about the possibility of a client refusing to use condoms; she can take her health into her own hand and discreetly use a female condom. Finally, HIV/AIDS is affecting more women than ever – 60% of all new diagnoses in sub-Saharan Africa are women.  Therefore women deserve access to a reliable, effective method that is made especially for them.


Though countries such as South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, and Zimbabwe have been effective in promoting the use of female condoms, other countries haven’t been as successful or do not promote them as heavily. To increase the awareness and use of this relatively new and exciting barrier method, we must:

  1. Advocate for the sale and/or placement of female condoms wherever male condoms are available.
  2. Work with manufacturers, private donors, and government ministries of health to make female condoms more affordable.
  3. Include men in the discussion so that they have the the information necessary to have candid conversations about female condoms with their sexual partners.
  4. Educate woman on female condoms in schools, places of worship, hair salons, etc.


To learn more about female condoms, visit femalecondom.org

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Female Circumcision is a traditional practice that is harmful which involves partially or totally removing of the female genitalia. It is estimated that 100 to 140 million girls have gone through female genital mutilation worldwide. This practice is recognized internationally as a human rights violation. It is a human rights violation because women are stripped of their rights to decide if they want to undergo this painful and harmful procedure or not.

The Four major types of FGM:

  • Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals) and, in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
  • Excision: partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (the labia are “the lips” that surround the vagina).
  • Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia, with or without removal of the clitoris.
  • Other: all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

When do they do it?

It is usually done to young girls (infants to the age of 15)


Where does it happen the most?

It is most concentrated in Africa and Middle East (29 countries in Africa and Middle East practice it). There are 125 million girls and women alive today in those areas that have gone through this procedure.


Why do they do it?

It is a mix of cultural, religious, and social factors within families and communities.

  • The social pressure to conform to what others do is one of the strongest factors of motivation
  • It is considered a necessary part of properly raising and girl and preparing her for adulthood and marriage.
  • It is motivated by beliefs of what is considered proper sexual behavior. It is believed to reduce a woman’s libido which they think allows her to abstain from “illicit” sexual behavior.
  • In most places it is considered a cultural act which they use as a reason to continue performing FGMs.


Why should it be stopped?


  • There are many consequences:
  • it is usually done without anesthesia so it is extremely painful. Clitoris holds at least 8,000 sensory nerves.
  • Lifelong health effects such as chronic infection, cysts, infertility, severe pain during urination, menstruation, sexual intervourse, childbirth, and it causes psychological trauma. amount of women who die from FGM is unknown.


  • There are no health benefits for girls or women








Categories: Health Care
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Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe V. Wade, a landmark moment for women across our country. People could, supposedly, seek legal and safe abortions, without fear. However, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, clinic protestors, and violent stigmas, this has not always held true for all people, especially people of color and people of low socio-economic status.
The Hyde Amendment has been in place since the mid 1970’s, being renewed every year. This amendment bans all federal money for abortion services, which translates to – federal health insurance for low income families and disabled folk such as Medicaid and Medicare, cannot cover any abortion services.
This is a barrier that affects our communities the most. My family, being one of mixed race and lower socio-economic status, has been consistently affected by this amendment throughout our generations. In order to better understand the struggles our women have been facing for the last 40 years, I decided to ask an expert of confronting, overcoming, and defeating struggle – my mother.

Mi Madre, still protesting decades later!

C- Tell me your story. What was it like when all of this was just happening and you were younger?

M- I was very lucky, when I was in high school, I could go to the city. You could get them, you didn’t have many protests, but I couldn’t imagine at that point having to walk through protests to, you know, try to make the right decision. Back then, we didn’t have the 24 hour thing; you went in, walked out. I do know several people who had the child and at that point, the family and everything was more invested in the child than they were, so in the first 6 months, two of them dumped the kids on their parents and split. The children had all sorts of problems because she didn’t want the kid and was partying her ass off trying to miscarry all because she didn’t have $400.

C- What about your story? How was it like for you?

M- I happened to be lucky where I came from. These things were available. The first time I had an abortion I was 17, my friend sent me to a back alley place in Harlem for only $150. It horrified me. So I went to my father and was able to get the money to do it right. I was really lucky.

C- So when it comes to women on Medicaid and Medicare not being able to access these services, women like yourself, how do you feel about it?

M- I think it’s unfair, I think people that need access to terminations are low-income and they’re the ones that have no access to it.

C- So how did the Hyde Amendment ultimately affect you and your community?

M- It made it difficult, I know people that had children cause they couldn’t afford the abortion. I mean, where’s the choice in that?


Forty years later, and our women and our people are still fighting for the right to choose. We cannot leave folk living in poverty, folk of color, and disabled folk out of these conversations. And the Hyde Amendment is doing just that.



If you want to keep the Hyde Amendment off of our more permanent law books, call/email your U.S. Senator and vocalize your thoughts on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion bill.
Find Your Senator

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On December 1, each year the World AIDS day is observed to commemorate the 36 million lives claimed by HIV/AIDS across the world; it also highlights that in the fight against HIV there is urgent work that still needs to be done. It has been more than three decades since scientists identified the HIV virus which causes AIDS and the cure for it still evades the doctors. Leading researchers from Australia, Italy and the United States have said that considerable work still needs to be done before they can find a cure for HIV.[i]

The transmission of the HIV virus is tied to specific high-risk behaviors and has nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation. It is not uncommon for people to blame gender non-conforming people for increased prevalence rates of HIV in society, but the real culprit is the legalized homophobia  and bigotry which drive them underground. The oppressed are always blamed for their problems by the oppressors. Societal norms, dominant cultural practices and religious beliefs are responsible for driving sexual minority groups underground due to which they are marginalized from HIV/AIDS related prevention efforts and have limited or no access to such programs. Because of this they are at a bigger risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS. No logical person would willingly want to contract HIV and gender non-conforming people are no different. Numerous research studies have proved that reduced stigma and discrimination always leads to a reduction in the infection rates.[ii]

In Pakistan, an estimated 130,000 people are living with HIV.[iii] But this number could be much higher as a lot of people in the country do not have access to screening services and are probably living in ignorance of their HIV status. According to the UNAIDS website for Pakistan adults aged 15 and above are at an increased risk of getting the virus, and in 2013 there were 4000 reported cases of deaths due to AIDS. A report published by the UN last year highlighted that new cases of HIV were on a rise in Pakistan.[iv] Most of the prevention efforts and Public AIDS control programs in the country are targeted at the sex workers in the country and have yet to include the general population who if not more than are at the same level of risk as the sex workers. The HIV/AIDS national surveys and public prevention programs do not include men who have sex with men and transgender people who are universally acknowledged as two high risk populations. And without including the key affected populations into their prevention efforts the national and provincial AIDS control programs cannot halt the spread of HIV in Pakistan.

Extraordinary advances in the field of medicine have made it possible for HIV-positive people to live long and lead healthy lives. But in the absence of a cure each year tens of thousands of new infections occur. Since 2011, the international efforts to highlight HIV/AIDS awareness have been focused on achieving the common goal of, “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination.” [v] But less than adequate funding for HIV programs, ideological restrictions on research efforts, improper prevention techniques and endless stigma and discrimination have proved to be major roadblocks in the achievement of Getting to Zero. A majority of the world’s population exposed to the HIV virus continues to live in either ignorance or shame about their HIV status. Only through leading by example can we improve the lives of those living with HIV. We can get tested to learn our HIV status and show care and support towards those who have already been tested positive.  Together, we can slow the spread of HIV and better care for those affected by it.

[i] http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29460198

[ii] http://caps.ucsf.edu/archives/factsheets/stigma

[iii] http://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/pakistan

[iv] http://www.dawn.com/news/1059723

[v] http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/world-aids-day/world-aids-day-2011/6

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Last night, President Obama announced actions that he is taking to grant relief to many young immigrants and families currently stuck in our unjust immigration system.  Millions of currently undocumented immigrants can now apply for protection from deportation and work legally in the country. It is a big deal that the President is taking these actions – in doing so he is standing up for the rights of immigrants across the country, and bringing them one step closer to full citizenship. However, the President’s actions are far from enough to guarantee that young immigrants and their families are able to build empowered and healthy lives in the U.S.

First, President Obama’s actions reflected his admirable commitment to supporting families, focusing much of his administrative relief on the legally recognized parents and families of U.S. citizens. As we applaud this, however, we must remember that our immigration laws – as well as many of our others – often fail to recognize LGBTQ families and individuals, leaving them out of this historic moment.

Second, equality is not just a matter of being granted legal status – among many other things, it includes the ability to access the healthcare you need. Last year in the administrative relief President Obama granted to DREAMers – undocumented young people who entered the U.S. as children – he decided not to extend eligibility for the Affordable Care Act exchanges and subsidies to them. Now, President Obama has repeated that unfortunate decision and  the millions of immigrants who will now be able work legally in this country will not be able to access the Affordable Care Act’s health exchanges and subsidies – exchanges and subsidies that their tax dollars will support. Health insurance coverage, and the no co-pay preventive services that coverage comes with, is a critical tool in ensuring that all young people can lead healthy lives. Access to the health exchanges and subsidies could be a game-changer in addressing the serious disparities in access to health services young immigrants and their families currently face. Instead, millions will remain excluded from the ACA’s promise, and forced to rely either on limited and unaffordable options for their health insurance or go without.

President Obama took a historic step towards remedying the injustices that young immigrants and their families face in this country. In the days to come, hopefully he and Congress will remember that they have the power and the duty to stand up for the rights of millions of immigrants to remain in the U.S. no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as for their ability to access the health care they need and to build healthy lives.

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Election time is intimidating for young people. There is a lot of pressure on us. Pressure from our passionate peers (ahem, me) to go out and vote, from our parents to follow in their footsteps, and from our communities and nation to forge a path into the future that will make everyone proud. There is no denying that we have a big impact on the outcome of an election. Politicians target young people for a reason: we make a big difference. We matter. We have the ability to change the future and therefore every candidate wants the power of the (young) people behind them. Why should we care though? What does the outcome of this election mean for us as young people?

To begin with, in Maine, Republican Governor Paul LePage was re-elected. Governor LePage is a huge risk for women, starting with his views on abortion and ending with his misinformed opinions on health. One of Governor LePage’s most infamous responses in the last four years was his reaction to the effect that BPA residue can have on estrogen levels. His quote, “So the worst case is some women may have little beards,” has become the butt of many national jokes and late night shows, but what does it really mean for women in our state? For one, it shows that our governor does not have an understanding of what the hormone estrogen actually is (hint: it would never cause hair growth), but it also shows that he does not care to put energy or research into women’s health before he comments on it. This lack of understanding and empathy will likely show up in other areas of women’s health issues, such as contraception access, health care, and abortion rights. If you have a vagina and/or are sexually active in the state of Maine and rely on birth control pills, IUDs, or emergency contraceptives, Governor LePage could be a risk to you. It’s a jump between “little beards” and birth control pills, but there’s a connection. There’s a lack of knowledge. That’s what you need to know.

Outside of my home state, however, there were similar election results that could end negatively for young people in general. For college students, tuition costs are a top priority and concern. National student loan debt is at an all time high: $1.2 trillion. Many higher education loan reforms have been under Democratic campaigns and policies, meaning with the Republican Party taking control of the Senate, these policies will likely go into deadlock or just be vetoed. What does this mean for us? It means we will be waiting longer for lower interest rates on our student loans and there will be more support in our government for for-profit colleges (http://bit.ly/1z0uq5l). All of this information can be hard to sift through and understand. At the end of the day, the shift in power will likely mean delays for progress in higher education reform and student loan debt as well as investment in colleges that are looking to suck-up our hard-earned cash.

It’s (usually) easy for young people to look at social issues such as gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, or contraception access and understand why it is important for us to go out and vote. In midterm elections, however, it can be hard to decipher what candidates mean and why our vote is necessary. There is a lot on the line for us– our health, our rights, our money. So it’s time for us as a community to get involved. Know your issues, form an opinion, take a stand.

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We are all feminist!
People fight for every girls right,–whether in secret
or not. We have once said no to those people who,
one way or another have adjusted the beauty of the
“Girl Child.”
Life made things easy, but our new story-telling,
and blueprint-art, shaped the way things used to
be. It is quite beautiful to say we have tried our best
to influence most of the affairs of girls living in
rural areas–“to put a smile on gaunt faces.”
Today, there’s a task on each of us to help raise
awareness and #Write4Girls ; to ring the bell, and
set prosperous margins for them to follow.
In Cotonou, the Republic of Benin; teenage girls are
going through a lot of pains–from hunger strike in
major rural areas, to sexually transmitted
infections, and rape! Most of these girls have no
parents, only few of them have access to hospitals
and parental care. The selfsame happens in
Ekpoma, Edo state, Nigeria (…my state of origin);
girls have turned coated wires, nude. From peer
group relationship to hotel services. Almost 15% of
teenage girls in my environment from (14-17) are
pregnant, 10% are already mothers,–the story goes
From these circumstances “Feminism” becomes a
dwindled act, because majority of the girls we fight
for–(to get quality education, parental care and
reproductive health services…),–are knowingly
doing the wrong things.
But aside from any heart feelings, we are still
And There’s always a heart that wants to put a smile on
wrinkled faces. While “Malala,” is working on education for
every girl child, we too can do our best.
Today, there’s a new definition, the renaissance of a
new hope; thoughts that begets’ essence, and
notions that raises the bowels that once lay flat.
Our words, written or spoken, can influence and
reach the farthest places. Faults may emerge, and
we may have to shrink to environmental and
governmental laws; but the grace to move on will
spring forth, if we decide to take a stand.
This is for those girls that have lost all, those girls
that have been shut out, raped, coerced for
pleasure, used as slaves, Infected with Sexually Transmitted Infections, and made to hawk fruits
in the market.
We can do a lot more if we #Write4Girls, and
channel or thoughts to the development of every girl child.

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Today Worldwide sexual and reproductive health Right have gain its focus on programs and discussions. The increasing concerns globally have resulted to number of actions which have made the SRHR a basic right for all. The SRHR is the issue of concern among all age groups but the increasing focus is made to ensure SRHR of youth and adolescent highlighting their growth need. Saying by Jill Sheffield “Young people everywhere have the right to the knowledge, tools and services they need to make informed decisions about their bodies and live full healthy and productive life.” well advocate the factual need of youth for their productive development. If all those can be meet the youth taskforce can be well developed for the nation development.  But the tragedy is the handsome paper work are unable to gain the same level of actions for achievement of developmental goal of ensuring SRHR of all youths in equitable manner.

I analyzed the current situation starting from self-analysis “Me as a youth I feel like I am able to enjoy the SRHR to limit I want   but…… But the scenario is different for those in rural areas of Nepal and is more tragic to women. This thought stroked my mind on my trip to rural community of Nepal, where SRHR is still a never heard term and its entertainment can be imagined.  The situation in rural areas of Nepal are miserable where youths and SRHR is never a parallel issue. Young women are more victimized where they are forced to stay out of home during menstrual period and also during birth, their rights are violated in every actions lifetime. These are few direct example but when observed closely I can say they never entertain their SRHR life time as women.

There are number of programs put forward by government and non-governmental organizations to ensure SRHR but…………. The developmental trend existing in the country highly suppressed by traditional approach are able to drive the non-directional development of productive part of development. The single lensed developmental activities in my view will never fulfil the need of the population at all level there is the need of specific actions which will bring the desired changes. The problems are numerous and same are the solutions which need to be selected scientifically and implemented for the higher goal achievement.

Categories: Health Care
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For two days this week, I have attended a class taught by my state\’s health department to become a certified HIV and STI instructor.  While I really enjoyed the course, I do not feel that my instructors have a really good grasp of cultrual sensitivity.  The instructors stressed during the two days that we should always research the culture that we will be presenting to, and to ensure that we remain appropriate with our teachings.

I am not sure that these instructors were really aware of what cultural sensitivity is.  One of the instructors used an example of teaching an instructor course on the Choctaw reservation in Mississippi.  This instructor told of how she did do any research beforehand and was not aware that they did not like being referred to as American Indians.   She continuously spoke about the people of the Choctaw, and still referred to them as a whole as American Indians.  This is an issue, because cultural sensitivity should not be about JUST being culturally sensitive whenever you\’re around a certain group of people.

Another area of cultural the instructors did not succeed at being sensitive to was the LGBTQ community.  I know that it is wishful thinking for full acceptance here in Mississippi, but healthcare instructors know more than most that they work closely with members of the community, and as such should remain appropriate.  They should not be joking around with members of the class about how \”I don\’t know what they do\”.  It is not appropriate, and frankly, I am tired of instructors thinking it is okay to just use the vague term of they for communities they do not understand or belong to.  As instructors, they should be held to an accountability, especially when speaking to another class.  I understand using specific examples of where you messed up in cultural sensitivity, but seriously, at least continue to be aware of being culturally insensitive and apply it everywhere.

Categories: Health Care
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While going through a national newspaper (Daily Trust – Aso Chronicle) the caption “Pregnant women raise alarm over lack of health centre in Kuje village” caught my intention. Reading through, I observed that access to a health centres is a major issue in this community (Shaji community in Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital territory {FCT}) as most residents including the pregnant women had to travel long distances to access antenatal care and give birth.

With 482 days left until the target date to achieve the MDGs, it is clear that Nigeria is not even close to achieving Goal 5 of improving maternal health, lest we talk about other goals. As of 2014, Nigeria accounts for 13 percent of maternal mortality. This is outrageous for just one country. The Nigerian Demographic Health Survey 2013 revealed that 70 percent of the maternal deaths in Nigeria are due to four conditions: haemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis and abortion complications. The first three conditions can be avoided simply through adequate antenatal services hence the need to have accessible health centres.

Access to primary health centre (PHC) is not the only issue in this community as their only source of water for drinking, cooking, bathing and other domestic chores is the “Diditani River” which also serves as a home to a big crocodile. The residents also do their laundry at the banks of the river causing further pollution.

This is just one community; there are so many “Makoko, a slum in Lagos lacks access to portable water and disease spreads because of lack of proper sewage or drainage system”. “Dagiri Bassa community in Kwali Area Council of FCT has similar experiences as only one resident has delivered in a PHC said to be about 3 hours away on a motorcycle, children trek two hours to school daily and portable water is two hours trek from the community.

400 days is more than enough to build a PHC and I hope this community is alleviated from this level of suffering. However, though one of the targets of Goal 3 in the draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seeks to reduce global maternal mortality ratio; I hope the final document will reflect “reducing global maternal mortality ratio” as a goal of its own as Nigeria and some developing countries are yet to achieve the MDG Goal 5 target.

I am also a bit hopeful that the situation will improve because the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme is becoming widespread and I am very glad that the new set of proposed goals (SDGs) Goal 6 recognizes the need for WASH programme. This will go a long way in improving the health of Nigerians, Africans and the World.

Categories: Health Care
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reposted from Miriam Zoila Pérez, Colorlines

This summer, Minnesota passed a first-of-its-kind law improving the treatment of pregnant incarcerated women. In addition to extending an existing ban on the use of restraints during childbirth for up to three days postpartum, the law also allows incarcerated women to have a doula. 

Doulas are trained birth attendants who provide physical and psychological support during pregnancy and birth. Doulas have gained popularity in recent years. Doulas of North America (DONA), just one of a handful of training organizations, now boasts 6,500 members; in 1994, there were only 750. As the community and movement has grown, doulas have worked to bring their model of care to many different arenas. As a trained doula, I’ve participated in groups such as the Doula Project in New York City, which brings doula support to people having miscarriages and abortions. Other groups focus on providing low-income women with this kind of care, and a number have also tailored their work to support incarcerated women. 

This a great step towards providing care to incarcerated pregnant people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Supreme Court’s buffer zone decision has the potential to have adverse affects on the sexual health of youth. American youth already have higher rates of unintended pregnancies-despite the latest decline in rates, growing rates of sexually transmitted diseases, and receive misinformation about sexual health all the time (read abstinence only sex education in public schools). 

By not upholding the buffer zones outside of abortion clinics the Supreme Court just unanimously put youth in America at greater sexual health risk. 

The first time I went to a clinic for sexual health information and services was after I had my daughter. I was 16 or so and went to the only place I had hear about, Planned Parenthood. Thankfully I did not encounter protestors however, some of my friends had; they commented that they were afraid to go inside the clinic because of the angry mob outside so they left. 

While they were not there for abortion services the anti choice crowd outside caused so much fear to them that they did not go inside and speak to a sexual health professional about safer sex, free condoms, and or HIV and STI testing. 

They left. 
They knew of no where else to go and unfortunately one of their first attempts to make well informed sexual health decision for themselves was ruined by ill informed, intimidating, and aggressive anti-choicers. While they think they are “stopping” abortions from happening, they are actually stopping youth from making sexual health decisions and establishing healthy and responsible sexual health practices early on in life. 

The Supreme Court let us all down but youth just might be the most vulnerable population to feel and deal with the adverse effects this decision can have on our health.

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Sex and the city

A sixteen year old girl got pregnant few weeks before i had completed my exams, and the reeking saint of unwanted pregnancy loomed in my street for weeks ; bearing from the first. Most girls I have talked to in my neighbourhood, often say ; ”their family are poor and they lack the essential resources that will trigger a change — socially, physically, emotionally and economically.

”Today, eight out of ten girls (with ages between 12-17) in my community, gets pregnant every two Months”

In Some families ( where girls are a majority), parents lure their daughters into prostitution : as a result of poverty, and poor social status.

We are the drivers our lives: but what if that life is nurtured and understood. What if girls are taught — with basic morals from mother and father.
”what if, for every mistake, she is corrected and shown the right part ; Then, with other positive attribute laid, change can be achieved.

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It’s just wrong that hardworking and dedicated young people can be fired for being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, or queer. For being who they are. These young people have no protection. No recourse.

We need our President to stand strong. And right now, he can make a big difference for thousands of LGBTQ federal employees and contractors. Join us in demanding that President Obama and his Administration do the right thing and sign executive orders protecting LGBTQ workers without needless exemptions that would open the door to discrimination.

With a swipe of his pen, President Obama’s executive orders will expand workplace protections for young people across the country. Current federal law already provides an exemption for houses of worship and religiously-affiliated organizations. Further exemptions are unnecessary and would dilute the protections the orders are seeking to provide for LGBTQ young people.

Mr. President, it’s time to stop surrendering the rights of young people.

Tweet now!.@WhiteHouse No more religious exemptions! #LGBTQ employees deserve protections, regardless of where they work. #ENDAEO #DearPOTUS

Tweet now!.@WhiteHouse #DearPOTUS, #LGBTQ young people believe in #equality, #freedom, and #justice. #ENDAEO

Tweet now!.@BarackObama you said ’now is the time to end this kind of discrimination, not enable it,’ Prove it, sign #ENDAEO. No more exemptions. #DearPOTUS

Tweet now!.@vj44 workplaces should be free from discrimination for all people, including #LGBTQ employees. Protect workers’ rights. #ENDAEO #DearPOTUS



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Dating and choices :

Today makes it 10 years of being single, and i feel awkward about it. I love being single but sometimes i want to be loved, praised and appreciated.

I enjoyed the life i had, but one thing i couldn’t conquer was ”Loneliness”. No matter how hard i try to get it off, it sinks in the more. Loneliness makes most youths delve into early and unhealthy relationship ; and this retards growth and social commitment.

‘I love to connect, to share my thoughts and mingle with friends and love ones, most youths will say.
But how ? Does dating promote mutual acceptance?

Most religious tenets don’t allow dating – and youths entangled with this law tend to miss out in mutual connection.
Dating is meant to connect two unequal persons together, not only in the aspect of mutual or cordial acceptance but to stir up a change in each persons life.

Today, we have youths who can’t decide who to have an affair with. Due to a poor environmental standard and the flaws they were associated with.

When girls can’t express themselves with the opposite sex a barrier rises which shuns the need for acceptance. Which is a major problem for an environment seeking progress in all ramifications.

We are faced with choices that will shape our lifestyle and also influence the way we respond to each other. If dating is now an avenue for unlawful activities in most part of the world – then how do we proceed ?

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The issue of sexual health and its related concept have been a heart-ache in the domain of growth and fundamental right. In Nigeria, there’s a redundant development in men’s sexual health as well as women. We (men&women), at most case experience the same circumstances ; while some Girls are raped – which results from the deformity in social and health status, lack of respect and right. Boys experience some Abnormal Behaviours – As a result of poor Environmental standard, wrong peer group, lack of sex-Ed and above all poor home training.

The Notion for the fundamental dedication of change is an abstract concept put to practice by uneducated and inexperienced dictators. What we need is a change, a turn-around from the illusion that all will be safe and sound.
Girls have become an object of mockery And abuse. There’s a gross increase in stigma, which emanates from unwanted and unhealthy sexual intercourse and Hiv, as well as other Demographic circumstances. The worst of all this, is the lack of respect shown to girls (Especially in the Northern parts of Nigeria).

I have recently noticed a meager increase in Medical utensils made available by the so-called government. Even at the expense of this unqualified rise in standard, there’s still a turmoil between men and women on who is to use these medical service and when to use it.
“Inequality”, has curbed the value for a characteristic change in Health services rendered to Nigerians. Today, medical doctors in government owned hospitals go on strike mostly for an increment in salary – with little or no maintenance and materials for health services.
Sexual health is a FACTOR of life. And as long as there will be Reproduction, Sexual Health is Needed and should be (RESPECTED,PROTECTED and FUFILLED) in the affair of every man and woman.

Another subject that greatly disturbs is the decry of provisional aid in the facilitation and tackling of the defaults associated with health services rendered and a very low attention given to (Affected (Hiv) and Unaffected persons).

On the context of medical attention , segregation is the source of ‘Inequality’. The Rich gets all the attention he/she needs and the poor man or woman has his/her rights neglected – As a result of the segregation in roles and opportunities affiliated to Health.

An Even Social status attributed to Sexual health is one cure to the ill practices portrayed by the lack of Decency and Inequality.

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

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We had a lot to say and rail about when Mipsterz releases its
“Somewhere in America” video with hip hijab-wearing ladies. We talked about slut-shaming and music being haram (or not) and everything in between. Then on International Women’s Day when Sheikh Abu Eesa Niamatullah made extremely inappropriate jokes towards women, the global Muslim community rose to fire opinions back and forth on that too.
And when the Honesty Policy released its “British Muslim” video for “Happy,” we had a lot to say then, too. And yes, those issues are important in their own rights. There is growth to be had, stereotypes to be unpacked wrongs to be righted. But can we be fired up as well over the April 15 kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian school girls by the terrorist group Boko Haram – 276 of whom still remain in captivity? Girls whom the leader of Boko Haram is threatening to sell into slavery? (“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.”)
Maybe hashtag activism is all we have right now.
Maybe that’s a crock. But maybe that’s where it
starts. And international pressure builds, and then
pressure will be put on the Nigerian government, and
then someone will do something to help those girls.
Staying quiet isn’t getting us nowhere, and it
certainly isn’t doing squat to help 276 girls held by a
terrorist group.
As friend and colleague Professor Omid Safi says in
his blog , “ What Would Muhammad Do,” to the
leader of Boko Haram:
The time comes to put aside intellectual exchange:
You repulsive vomitous excuse of a man. Human
beings are not for sale. The girls belong to their own
selves, belong to their own families and communities.
You are nothing short of a thief.
This is a bastardization of Islam, of decency, of
liberation, of all that is good and beautiful.
We are dealing with people’s children here. If we
were dealing with property, it would be akin to
someone breaking into another person’s home,
stealing their property, and then stating that they are
willing to sell the stolen material.
Except that we are not dealing with property. We are
talking about human beings.
Boko Haram stands for “Western Education is haram
(forbidden).” You know what’s haram? Stealing
people’s children…Trying to sell human beings. You,
Boko Haram, you are haram. You are vile and
repulsive, the very antithesis of all that is beautiful
and merciful. Your action have made the lives of 276
school girls a living hell, and brought untold anguish
to thousands of their family members.


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Thoughts at puberty”

Thoughts may come and go,
And minds made decisive,
Mates may stay to cuddle,
And tears cease to stop,


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Ways to stay healthy

Being healthy is a major concern to many people. However, there are those who do not do anything to maintain their health as required. Usage of EHIC Card will keep you healthy by providing quality medical checkups at free of cost. Being healthy will ensure that you keep diseases at bay. In case you would like to know the ways in which you can be healthy, then you have come to the right place.

Reduce the level of stress

Stress plays a bigger part for those who are unhealthy. It is therefore important that you reduce the stress levels. If you have stress in excess, then you will bring a lot of problems to your health. It will lead to having problems such as mental problems, weak immune system and high blood pressure. You will be able to reduce stress by doing yoga and meditation.

Get enough rest

The amount of sleep that is required usually varies between individuals. You should always make sure that you get enough sleep. Sleeping will heal your blood vessels. Sleeping will bring about a balance in your hormones. For your body to function as required it is vital that you get enough sleep. If you notice that your body is tired and you are feeling sleepy, then it is advisable that you go straight to bed. You should make sure that you sleep for about eight hours every day.

Take plenty of water

A bigger percentage of our body is made of water. This shows just how important this commodity is to our health. You should make sure that your body is well hydrated. For the cells in your body to function as required, they need water. Water will ensure that your body is in the right temperature. It is vital that you drink a lot of water so that you replace the ones you lose when you sweat.


Doing daily exercises is important to maintain a healthy body. You will be able to control your weight and muscles by doing regular exercise. You can do simple exercises such as walking. You should make sure that you do at least 150minutes of exercise every week. In case your health is being affected by the exercise that you do, then you should consult your doctor before you get started.

Eating healthy

You should make sure that you eat healthy so that you provide your body with the right nutrients. This is essential for maintaining a healthy body. Some of the foods that you can eat include: poultry, eggs, lean meat, low fat dairy foods, whole grains, nuts, fish and avocados among others. Do not eat refine and processed foods. This is because they have a lot of sugar.

These are just some of the ways that you can use to improve your health. You will be able to live longer by adopting healthy living. Staying healthy will also ensure that the diseases are kept at bay. They are very simple to follow. Go ahead and start living healthy, you will be amazed at the benefits it will bring to your health.

Categories: Health Care
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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.

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I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.

I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.

I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.

I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)

I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.

I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.

I am an “Advocate For Youth”.

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By: Sarah Bradley ’17

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

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

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

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

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

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Many a time, I have tried to survey and parry the questioning effect on sex and its constituent. I believe it is a redefined commitment entitled to both parties ( man & woman ) on a divine standard.
The world we live in today define sex as a ‘social commitment’, which is a taboo to fundamental notions displayed from old.
Afore, Sex, occurs after a marriage right is fulfilled – which connects a man and a woman together perfectly. Today, sex, is now seen as an avenue to satisfy common urge.

* some say we should have sex to satisfy ourselves and set our burdens at ease.
* others say, when you feel the urge get someone to have sex with. And a girlfriend should serve as a friend with benefits.

Notion :
Sex is good and fun in the making, not to be confused with a Mutual Engagement between a male and a female. There are so many medical attributes linked to sex – one dominant property I know of is a reduction in emotional pressure or tension, resulting from ‘Anxiety’.

If we define sex on the basics of mutual engagement, then it is the right for every one (Adolescence,Teen,Youth and Adult), to have sex.
We have a situation where a boy of 16, gets a girl pregnant,at the expense of the so-called love. And the girl demands for an abortion or decides to conceive the child due to having sex at the wrong time.

Note :
There’s an increase in Abortion, Unwanted pregnancy and a retardation in fundamental growth of boys and girls. Most people who see sex as a social commitment end up having a bad experience, because they capitalise on the lust of satisfaction, instead of seeking to understand the reason for IT.

In most homes where a man considers sex more than his wife, there’s a high tendency for an upheaval of distrust to occur – which will massively dwindle their growth. Most who youths originated from these homes have become the heir of most illegal acts displayed in the world.
There’s an increase in divorce rate,children from this background become prone to harsh circumstance etc.

Youths who lack parental care and control end up doing irrational things, having unprotected and unwanted sex and other juvenile act.

I believe that if a minimum of 15% of youths are taught :

* Pre-sex affair and its influence.
* The fundamentals of sex education,
* Health education and its relation to sexuality.

Then change can commence.

My question :

* How do we educate boys and girls in : Developing and under-developed countries on sex education.

Proposed Query :

80% of youths living in these areas, constitute to the progression of illegal sex and the un-demanded notion it dictates.

Proposed Answer :

* I believe that changing the dialogue of sex affair is on great step .

Educating Youths on :
– what sex is ?
– why is sex needed ?
– what are the effects of sex on life ?
– who are the right persons to have sex ?
– And the required age for sex ?

* A notion I surveyed recently is doing a Poetry on sex-education : which will play a huge role in schools ( High school mostly, in rural and localised areas ).

In localised areas where there’s a gargantuan growth in sex rate, only few schools teach Sex education and a handful of these schools practise it.
– At locations where there are no computers for learning, no Adverts on sex-Ed, no Online orientation, and no seminars and outlets for diverse learning , an introduction to a reformed part of learning on sex education will help.

If we have a preamble poetry on sex education, health and orientation in under-developed areas, then we can help shape most of the questioning we have.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sarah Bradley ’17

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In the past years, I have volunteered my skills and time on a number of community projects. But the feeling I had this morning after digging for the laying of pipes which will convey potable water to  the community of the of the Bassa Industrial area especially those of the “Plateau Guinness” neighborhood was  special. Special because sparked by the smiles on the faces  of the adults of this community who had come out in their numbers to contribute to the building of the taps from which will flow this so much talked about “Precious” liquid which some have said is “Life”. The smile on their faces was as radiant as I have only seen on the faces of children enjoying every minute of their life on a school playground at break.

These persons have every reason to smile because Cameroon’s water sector is one of the most neglected and poorly maintained. According to a United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP), about 92% of Cameroonians living in cities have access to improved water while only 47% of Cameroonians living in rural areas can access potable water. This situation has not only been the cause of the repeated Cholera outbreaks that the country has experienced recently but caused untold damages in families and communities especially rural communities.

World Water DAY 2014In fact, these people who are not alone in their case have had their sisters, daughters, and mothers raped as they moved to the stream to fetch water, they have missed their lessons or being late to   school because of they have to move for long distances to fetch water for the family every morning while their peers are in class, and have lost a loved one to diarrhea and other water related diseases. This has no doubt contributed to the lamentable state of rural areas in my country Cameroon.

We must all make the progress our world is currently enjoying benefit all. It is only when the fruits of the progress the world is currently experiencing are enjoyed by all that the development we are so much clamoring for will really be sustainable.

Knowing that atrocities such as those described above are experienced by a countless number of people in other communities around the world is revolting because we live in a world of plenty and can all afford to make life better for all. In fact, the United Nations estimates that 800 million people lack access to safe, clean drinking water .May the below extract from Reflections on Water  by the  Ecumenical Water Network, a project of the World Council of Churches, inspire you to act  in your own small way for this liquid as we observe World Water Day today, March 22nd  2014.


Like the ticking of a clock marking out time, water drips noisily.

Maybe it drips off the edge of a stone or roof in times of rain and plenty,

or perhaps from a badly turned off tap in societies where earth’s most precious

and vital resource is unconsciously wasted.

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Many people in Nepal are ignorant about cancer. This is because unlike infectious disease, chronic diseases like cancer comes under least priority area of governmental health policy in Nepal. Very few national programs are conducted to educate and aware people about cancer. Education program are conducted sporadically and only few people have access to such program.

In the recent time, Healthy Nepal Foundation (HNF), an organization dedicated to increase awareness about cancer has done some remarkable work to increase understanding of cancer to Nepalese population. Since 2012, HNF has developed several education modules to educate students and public about common cancer such as cervical, breast, oral and lung cancer in Nepal. With the help of volunteers from different colleges, this organization conducts program at colleges and sometime in the community.


Volunteers is the main working pillars of HFN. “With the help of volunteers, we are able to conduct education programs at around twenty schools to date and our main goal is to educate student and the public about cancer and its prevention”, said Kiran Sapkota, co-founder of the organization. “We are dedicated to educate and inform public about risks of cancer and promote healthy life style to reduce cancer burden in the society”, Sapkota said.

Members of healthy Nepal foundation have conducted several education program at secondary schools, higher secondary colleges and universities around the nation. HN College Coordinator Mr. Sunil Pandey, who is also a student of Medical Microbiology at Nobel College, said “we have got very good response and appreciation from both teachers and guardians from respective schools where we conduct cancer education program”.  Mr. Pandey was so passionate to assist HNF that he allocate his tight time schedule out of his college to conduct programs around the nation. Mr. Pandey contact schools, recruit volunteers, communicate with teacher and conduct education awareness program at different schools around the country. “With the help of experts we were able to develop education material for only few cancers and we are still developing additional cancer programs in the future” said Pandey.


Healthy Nepal Foundation is operated by physicians, public health officials, and community and school volunteers. Till date it has conducted programs in Parwat, Myagdi, Baglung, Pokhara, Kathmandu, Chitwan and several other districts. “Our main aim is to make a disease free healthy society” said Dr. Kalyan Sapkota, another co-founder of the organization. Dr. Sapkota and his team have conducted cancer screening programs at several communities in Myagdi, Parwat and Baglung in the past.


Currently Healthy Nepal has concentrated more of its activities on educating students and public about cervical and breast cancer. “These two cancers are the significant cause of mortality and morbidity in women in Nepal” said Dr. Sapkota. With the available funding, Healthy Nepal Foundation had organized free Pap smear screening camp at different places in Nepal.  A pap test is the best way to detect cell changes that may be early sign of precancerous of the cervix.

Dr. Sapkota added that, Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there are a number of risk factors. “If we reduce these risk factors, we can minimize the number of cancer patients in Nepal’, said Dr. Sapkota.  Sharing his experience while conducting cervical cancer awareness program, Mr. Sunil Pandey said, we were so shocked to know that many students do not know much about common cancer, and many have misconception about it. After we conduct program, we do posttest and found that our program really changed how students perceive about cancer. Their knowledge remarkably changes just after an hour or two education session, added Mr. Pandey. Many women do not know about the screening test available to detect cancer at early age. This include Pap smear screening and self-breast examination in Nepal.

Mr. Sunil Panday said there are several opportunities available for youth to be involved in cancer education projects. He is recruiting many volunteers to initiate oral and lung cancer awareness in the near future. For more information or to get involved, email healthynepalfoundation@gmail.com, or visit the organization’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/healthynepal

Categories: Health Care
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By Matt Mazzari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m sorry, but what?!

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

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

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This 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.

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by Jen Sorensen via Talking Points Memo and the ACLU

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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.

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Man On Campaign

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. (more…)

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(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)

President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.

“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.

The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights

[Original image and post found on ThinkProgress, writer: Tara Culp-Ressler]

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.

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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.”

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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.

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I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on.  And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention.  I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.

While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves.  I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational.  Oh, and guess what?  Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.”  There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime.  Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue.  There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.

I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website.  It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share.    There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting.  Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though.  An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:

Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…

What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?

How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?

There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series.  East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast.  And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into.  For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.

Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color.  Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious.  From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:

At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…

We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.

We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.

Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call  Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended.  Please use the number to the opposite.

(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)

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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.

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

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(original image by The Stigma Project)

About them:

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.

Their mission:

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.”

Their vision:

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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Categories: Health Care
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(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.

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

Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier.  Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound.  We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share.  We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world.  All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives.  But we celebrated our diversity.  And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.

I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first.  I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend.  It was a place I had never been to on my own.  I would be surrounded by strangers.  But these strangers quickly became my friends.  And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them.  And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well.  Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders.  And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives.  It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.

I even got to meet Janet Mock!  We talked and had dinner.  She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!

It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice.  And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource.  Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan.  I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore.  The realization was bittersweet.  But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.


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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.


Categories: Health Care
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Categories: Health Care
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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


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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.

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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.


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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”. [1]

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. [4] 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. [5] 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.


[1] http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/09/09/219681288/humanitarian-aid-agencies-brace-for-fallout-from-syrian-strikes

[3] http://www.moh.gov.sy/Default.aspx?tabid=337

[2] http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

[4] http://zamanalwsl.net/en/readNews.php?id=1307

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/02/internally-displaced-syria_n_3855563.html

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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.

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

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Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog.  It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr.  Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10.  And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session.  Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal.  Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education.  No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active.  If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!

The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:

I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.

Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!

My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice.  My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both.  I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources.  I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives.  Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me.  What’s your vision for sex ed?

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Ireland Has Performed Its

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.


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Ohio Republicans Pledge to Reintroduce Heartbeat Ban

“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.

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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.


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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.

Source: http://rhrealitycheck.tumblr.com/

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Fetal Pain Is A Lie: How Phony Science Took Over The Abortion Debate

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.

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North Carolina House Republicans sneak abortion rules into motorcycle safety bill without notice

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.


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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.

feminist cat

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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‘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.

Categories: Health Care
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When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”

Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!”  State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this.  But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.

There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident.  Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things.  You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in.  It’s not just one old, white male politician.  It’s several.  And they’re not necessarily always white men.

Brace yourself.  This is pretty triggering.

“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”

— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”

— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”  —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.

“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”

—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.

“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”

—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.

“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.

This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth.  The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education.  It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life.  And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen.  So, we advocate for the youth.  We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.

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Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.

The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise

  1. Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
  2. Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
  3. Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.

After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and  leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.

The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.

On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.



About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)

Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.

With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.

The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:

  1. “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
  2. “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
  3. “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.

As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).

Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.

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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.

Why? The politics of abortion in Latin America

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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.


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Flea markets are a one-stop place where people can get every-day necessities, often at a low price or second-hand. Among clothing, food, and furniture a Texas women can also find pills that induce miscarriage, an evocative sign of the role of family planning in everyday life. The pills, known by their brand name, Cytotec, were designed to prevent stomach ulcers, but are being taken without a prescription by many Texan women and causing complications such as extended bleeding and incomplete abortions.

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a region along the southeastern border of Mexico, these pills are reportedly popular.  One of the states and nation’s most low-income areas, women of the Valley have already had difficulty accessing reproductive health care after the state cut funding for birth control in 2011.

HB 2, the Texas abortion bill that is awaiting Governor Rick Perry’s signature will further restrict access to family planning and reproductive health clinics across the state. Unless clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical center standards within a year, these locations will be forced to close, pushing women to seek risky alternatives. The two clinics currently in the Lower Rio Grande Valley do not meet the requirement of the bill. If these centers close down, women will have to travel hours across that state to receive care and will have additional costs such as transportation, hotel, food, missed work, and childcare.

Erlinda Dasquez, a 29 year-old mother of four who has used the pills, sees the widespread desire for these pills an economic issue. She described how for $40 she received four pills, a sum much less than the $550 pharmaceutical abortion cost at the closest legal provider. Many women and families like Dasquez seek illegal and unsafe forms of abortion due to the staggering costs of abortion which are typically not covered or subsidized by insurance companies or the state. Many undocumented women are also taking Cytotec and similar drugs. These women cannot utilize traditional health care outlets for fear of being reported.

The clinics that are being threatened do not solely provide abortion services. Many of these facilities are a source of free or inexpensive birth control for families, a valuable resource. Without assistance, many low-income people cannot justify paying the amount for contraceptives among other economic priorities. When interviewed, Alma Saldana said, “If I had $100 to pay for birth control or pay the bill for lights, I’d pay the lights”. Saldana stopped taking birth control after two nearby clinics closed and the remaining clinic charged more than she could afford.



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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.

Categories: Health Care
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Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies

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


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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 [1]. 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

[1] 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

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

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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.

Categories: Health Care
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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.

Categories: Health Care
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APIreland’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)