Category > Maternal Health
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Mar 13, 2015
There seems to be a common themes here at CSW – love, adherence to human rights, and protecting human dignity. However, one particular issue seems to be very polarizing – whether or not women all over the world should have access to abortion services.
During a CSW side event hosted by the Center for Health and Gender Equity, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of young women who so happened to be anti-abortion. Because I am very grateful for my right to free speech and freedom of beliefs, I also respect someone else’s right to disagree with my belief. However, I do believe it is my responsibility as a pro-choice, pro-woman, individual to clear up any misconceptions others may have about my beliefs and the work that I do…and that is what I did with these young women.
Because those at CHANGE (and myself), believe post-rape care includes access to safe abortion services, the group of anti-abortion young women were very upset at the conclusion of the event. Along with some inaccurate “Googled” statistics, I overheard them voicing concerns about the care of women who do choose to end their pregnancy. I decided to go over and speak with them to clarify any misconceptions. Based off the discussion, here are the questions the anti-abortion group seem to have for us:
1. “Why are they pushing women to have abortions? What about adoption or parenting?”
We’re not. The pro-choice movement believes women have the right to choose the trajectory of her pregnancy. We believe in providing women with evidence based, comprehensive information so she may be able to make a well-informed decision that fits her beliefs, needs, and situation. We support women regardless of whether they choose to continue with their pregnancy or terminate the pregnancy. If a woman decides to terminate the pregnancy, we believe she has the right to access safe abortion services. If a woman does not have access to safe abortion services and decides to terminate a pregnancy with unsafe procedures, we believe she has the right to post-abortion care services. If a woman decides to continue with her pregnancy, we believe she has the right to prenatal care, safe childbirth, and postnatal care. We also believe women should be supported in their decision to adopt or parent their child as well. No matter which option a woman chooses, she should come to her decision without coercion.
2. “But I saw on Google that 80% of women suffer psychosocial trauma from having an abortion!”
First and foremost, Google is not a citation. Secondly, when I Googled this I did not find a reputable, unbiased source reporting this figure. And when I mean reputable, I mean I did a search on Google Scholar and skimmed through several pages of search results from research journals and could not find this figure. What I did find is that most women do not regret their choice to have an abortion. In the spirit of fairness, I did say most – not all. I am sure there are women who do struggle with their decision. However, denying all women the right to bodily autonomy, health, and individual beliefs is not the appropriate response to those few women who made an autonomous decision and now feel unsure about it (but we should definitely support them as well). Finally, if we are able to provide comprehensive post-rape care in conflict zones, such services would ideally include access to both short-term and long-term psychosocial counseling for women.
3. “Well I was a victim of sexual assault and I’m okay. If I ended up pregnant, I would never terminate the pregnancy.”
Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I’m really glad to hear you were able to overcome what happened to you. I also respect the choice you have made for yourself. However, as important as your experience is, please respect the diverse and numerous experiences of women all around the world. Please respect that some women may find other options better suit their lives – both in the moment or in the future. Please realize that every woman is not you, and every woman does not believe what you believe. Please come from a place of love and empathy and support fellow women instead of trying to impose your individual believes on entire populations.
4. “So at what point do you consider what’s inside a woman to be a baby? Why don’t you just say baby!?”
In the United States, 24 weeks – because that’s when a fetus is able to live outside the womb. Otherwise, I am not here to change your ideology on when a human life begins – that’s your choice to decide. I am only here to make sure you understand that women will choose to have abortions regardless of when you think life begins. My job is to advocate for people who are born, living, and may suffer. Unfortunately, making safe abortions inaccessible does not keep women from having them. However, keeping abortions safe ensures that all women maintain the right to choice, meaning you can continue to believe what you believe without imposing your beliefs on others.
5. “Why do you all keep saying unsafe abortion? What does that even mean?”
I’m glad you asked. Unfortunately, the anti-abortion movement has failed to acknowledge the difference between unsafe abortion and safe abortion by simply deeming all abortion “bad”. Unsafe abortions constitute any method of terminating a pregnancy that leads to complications. Unsafe abortions are usually performed by an unskilled person in an environment lacking minimal medical standards. An unsafe abortion may be induced by sticks, wire hangers, caustic chemicals, or throwing one’s self down the stairs to end a pregnancy. Such methods can lead to uterine perforation, sepsis, hemorrhage, and death. Women living poverty, women living in rural areas, women in developing countries, and women living in countries where abortion is illegal are at most risk of undergoing an unsafe abortion. On the contrary, safe abortions ensure the lives of women are preserved. Safe abortions are performed in medical facilities with skilled providers using evidence-based practices. Facilities where safe abortions are provided ideally offer contraceptive counseling to ensure women are able to prevent a future pregnancy if she chooses.
In conclusion, the anti-abortion movement fails to protect the lives of women in the name of personal beliefs that everyone may not hold. It impedes freedom of beliefs and the right to maintain health and life. It devalues women all over the world and fails to respect their diverse experiences. Imposing your belief to deny women the right to choice is unjust and dangerous. Ensuring abortion is legal, safe, and accessible for all women will not only prevent death and morbidity; it will also ensure all are able to make self-determined decisions for the trajectory of a pregnancy.
Mar 11, 2015
The Commission on the Status of Women is the United Nation’s premiere meeting on the issues women face around the world. Soon after the inception of the UN, women (and men) from all Member States and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have come together to share experiences and develop goals for women. In earlier years, CSW contributed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and drafted the Convention on the Political Rights of Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The Commission has also charged itself as the body that collects extensive data on a country-by-country basis to determine the position of women and girls as support for the Commission’s efforts.
This year, The 59th Commission on the Status of Women focuses on the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Adopted during the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, the Beijing Platform for Action became the “most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights.” Though there were already many women (and sometimes men) on the ground fighting and advocating for women, the meeting gave participants a common plan to achieve the goals outlined in the Platform for Action. To this day, we use this document as a framework to continue the fight for gender equality and women empowerment in all corners of the world.
The Beijing Platform for Action outlined 12 critical areas of concern:
- Women and the environment
- Women in power and decision making
- The girl child
- Women and the economy
- Women and poverty
- Violence against women
- Human rights of women
- Education and training of women
- Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women
- Women and health
- Women and the media
- Women and armed conflict
Though we are far from achieving the goals outlined for each critical area, we have definitely made great strides since the Beijing conference in 1995. More girls have completed primary school. More women hold positions of power in their political bodies. More women own businesses. More member states have passed laws to protect women from gender based violence. More women live in nations where laws guarantee equal treatment. More women and girl adolescents have access to contraceptives. Fewer women die in labor.
However, we have not finished the agenda outlined in Beijing. Around a third of all women still face violence – and even more in conflict zones. About 2 million girls under age 15 each year are forced into commercial sex work. Women still face obstacles in accesses sexual and reproductive health services, including safe childbirth, modern contraceptives, and post-rape care. Nearly 37,000 girls are at risk of entering a marriage before age 18, leaving them at risk for early pregnancies, domestic violence, and lost educational opportunities. About 20 million women undergo unsafe abortions every year.
In the words of Dr. Angela Diaz, a medical doctor and advocate for adolescent health and rights, “Is this dignity for all? Is this social justice? What do you think?”
During the opening ceremony of the 59th Commision on the Status of Women, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated that our work is not done – and it’s not. He states that “our goal must be 50:50 by 2030.” Women deserve more. Women deserve a world where we don’t even have to discuss gender equality and fight for women’s empowerment because it will become an unconscious action; it will become a reality.
And finally, as youth, we hold a special responsibility. We are the most educated, the most involved, most connected and the biggest generation ever in our world’s history. We must hold the world accountable for the goals set out on the international agenda. We must not wait until we’re “old enough” or “experienced” as our experiences, our desires, and our vision for the world is more than enough to build the world we want for women and girls.
Jan 22, 2015
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Roe V. Wade, a landmark moment for women across our country. People could, supposedly, seek legal and safe abortions, without fear. However, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, clinic protestors, and violent stigmas, this has not always held true for all people, especially people of color and people of low socio-economic status.
The Hyde Amendment has been in place since the mid 1970’s, being renewed every year. This amendment bans all federal money for abortion services, which translates to – federal health insurance for low income families and disabled folk such as Medicaid and Medicare, cannot cover any abortion services.
This is a barrier that affects our communities the most. My family, being one of mixed race and lower socio-economic status, has been consistently affected by this amendment throughout our generations. In order to better understand the struggles our women have been facing for the last 40 years, I decided to ask an expert of confronting, overcoming, and defeating struggle – my mother.
C- Tell me your story. What was it like when all of this was just happening and you were younger?
M- I was very lucky, when I was in high school, I could go to the city. You could get them, you didn’t have many protests, but I couldn’t imagine at that point having to walk through protests to, you know, try to make the right decision. Back then, we didn’t have the 24 hour thing; you went in, walked out. I do know several people who had the child and at that point, the family and everything was more invested in the child than they were, so in the first 6 months, two of them dumped the kids on their parents and split. The children had all sorts of problems because she didn’t want the kid and was partying her ass off trying to miscarry all because she didn’t have $400.
C- What about your story? How was it like for you?
M- I happened to be lucky where I came from. These things were available. The first time I had an abortion I was 17, my friend sent me to a back alley place in Harlem for only $150. It horrified me. So I went to my father and was able to get the money to do it right. I was really lucky.
C- So when it comes to women on Medicaid and Medicare not being able to access these services, women like yourself, how do you feel about it?
M- I think it’s unfair, I think people that need access to terminations are low-income and they’re the ones that have no access to it.
C- So how did the Hyde Amendment ultimately affect you and your community?
M- It made it difficult, I know people that had children cause they couldn’t afford the abortion. I mean, where’s the choice in that?
Forty years later, and our women and our people are still fighting for the right to choose. We cannot leave folk living in poverty, folk of color, and disabled folk out of these conversations. And the Hyde Amendment is doing just that.
If you want to keep the Hyde Amendment off of our more permanent law books, call/email your U.S. Senator and vocalize your thoughts on the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion bill.
Find Your Senator
Jul 11, 2014
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.
Apr 30, 2014
“Republican Gov. Bill Haslam took the 10 days allotted to him to consider the advice of doctors, addiction experts and reproductive health groups urging him to veto the punitive and dangerous measure that allows prosecutors to charge a woman with criminal assault if she uses illegal drugs during her pregnancy and her fetus or newborn is considered harmed as a result. Haslam ignored these recommendations — and the recommendations of nearly every major medical association, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy — and signed the measure anyway.”
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an “Advocate”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
“A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an “Advocate For Youth”.
Mar 28, 2014
via The Guardian
Mar 22, 2014
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.
In 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.
Mar 8, 2014
Feb 28, 2014
Feb 18, 2014
by Jen Sorensen via Talking Points Memo and the ACLU
Jan 22, 2014
(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)
President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.
“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.
The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”
Jan 3, 2014
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.
Dec 31, 2013
After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion. This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans. What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest. And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay. So, what’s to become of that 52%? What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need? We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people. It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need. It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.
Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this. Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:
“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.
What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.
This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.
Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”
But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”
Dec 27, 2013
I am a pretty big fan of sitting at home with food and shows to binge on. And East Los High caught my full and undivided attention. I’m not normally into soapy teen dramas, but the problems teens face everyday, especially teens of color in neighborhoods like East Los, were real.
While many find sex and the details of it to still be taboo to discuss, teens are left without the rights and respect to get the knowledge they need to better protect themselves. I found it so refreshing to find a series that is easily relatable, stimulating, and educational. Oh, and guess what? Characters in the show can actually say the word “abortion.” There wasn’t a Voldemort treatment of an actual medical procedure that one out of three women in the United States will experience in their lifetime. Even better, several choices and paths that follow unprotected sex are explored and tidbits of helpful sexual health facts and info are casually placed into the dialogue. There’s even brief but impactful conversations on masculinity and gender roles in regards to safe sex throughout the show.
I had a Hulu Plus account and was fortunately able to view the “Hulu exclusive” series, but anyone can watch the full episodes on the East Los High website. It’s a good and fairly accessible teen drama with lots of examples and lessons to share. There are little whispers about a second season to appear, and I am excitedly waiting. Not everyone shared my enthusiasm for the show though. An online “news” article from Life Site News expressed an opinion:
Planned Parenthood’s has its guns aimed squarely at Hispanic teens, as it continues its latest foray into eugenic targeting via an unbelievably salacious novella featuring an all-Latino/Latina cast…
What kind of public service is done by the airing of this trashy novella directed to Hispanic teens? And just what is the “moral” of Episode 1? Finish the dance with your boyfriend before dashing to the car to have sex with someone else? Watch out when you have sex in a car because someone may be videotaping you? Being voted Winter Queen will make you extremely popular on the hookup circuit?
How can anyone even use the word “moral” in connection with this series?
There are some other significant things that this writer neglects to mention besides the awesome sexual health info and examples found throughout the series. East Los High is the first English language show with an all Latino cast. And what is even better is that the cast defies the mainstream roles that Latino people are often forced into. For something like this to be left out in this diatribe is quite telling of the kind of perspective the writer has, especially with the condescending and twisted but very nonexistent link between the show and fictitious eugenic attempts.
Miriam Perez, a past contributor on Racialicious, Feministing, and RHRealityCheck, has written on this topic of anti-choice movements making it seem like they care about women of color. Her post was originally found on RHRealityCheck, but I pulled it off Racialicious. From the succinct and eloquent post Worried About Women of Color? Thanks, But No Thanks, Anti-Choicers. We’ve Got It Covered:
At first glance, it’s nice to see the anti-choice community pretending to care about communities of color. But within a few minutes, the skepticism sets in. What’s really behind these tactics, coming from a group that is majority white, middle-class and Christian? In the end, we know this isn’t actually about women of color and their well-being. It’s a sensationalist attempt to pit women of color against the reproductive rights movement. Classic divide and conquer…
We’ve fought back against governmental policies like welfare family caps and limits on access to certain types of contraception over others. We’ve fought with the reproductive rights community to get them to care about these issues and how they affect our communities—and we’ve won.
We’re fighting for access to contraception, to abortion, to options for childbirth and parenting. And now we’ll fight the racist and paternalistic logic behind the eugenics arguments being made by anti-choicers.
Life Site News has urged concerned citizens to call Hulu’s corporate headquarters at 310-571-4700 to remove the series and to make sure a second season contract cannot be extended. Please use the number to the opposite.
(This has also been posted on my blogs FanTalk and STFU, Pro-Lifers.)
Nov 29, 2013
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 7, 2013
(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)
How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.
Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.
Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Sep 25, 2013
Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning
Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield
Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.
Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE
Sep 25, 2013
Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States
Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan
To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).
But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.
Sep 25, 2013
Texas woman drives four hours to Planned Parenthood after being shamed for hickey
Reposted from: Raw Story, written by David Edwards
A Texas woman who was shamed by her doctor for having a hickey and wanting birth control says she is now forced to drive four hours to a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care due to the state’s new anti-abortion laws.
Athena Mason told KUT that her first visit to the doctor as a student at Texas A&M was awkward.
“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘It’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.’ But I got a big lecture. [He said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go somewhere else.”
Mason started using the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But that facility is one of four women’s health service providers that closed in August after the state passed new regulations restricting abortions.
So Mason now drives four hours to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin for health care.
In 1998, Cadence King was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on her cervix and became a patient at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. She had returned for regular checkups in the years since, but she has missed visits in recent weeks because the clinic closed.
King is now struggling to find a new health care provider. Her only options are driving three hours to Beaumont or waiting four months for the next opening with the one Bryan clinic that’s willing to take her case.
Sep 4, 2013
It is remarkable that great strides are being achieved toward meeting MDGs 4 and 5. Ghana has been ranked 41st on the world maternal mortality rate index, according to CIA World Fact book report made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra (GNA ,Tuesday, 4 Sept, 2012). It is worth noting that Ghana also rates 350 deaths/100,000 live births. Better still ninety-two percent of child deaths which occur before age five take place within the first seven days of delivery.
According to statistics from the Ghana Health Service (GHS), 60 percent of the deaths occur within the first 24 hours, while another 32 percent takes place within the first seven days of delivery. Neonatal death, which refers to the situation where a baby dies within the first 28 days of life, is still high in the country with indicators showing little improvement in the past 10 years (www.moderghana.com; accessed on Tuesday, 23 July, 2013: 3:37PM).
It is discovered from Graphic publication on Tuesday, 23 July, 2013 that the major causes of the maternal and neonatal deaths are complications from preterm birth, difficulty in breathing just after delivery and infections. However, there are major gaps in access to and utilization of interventions such as neonatal stimulation and resuscitation. The rating is based on female deaths per 100,000 live births from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes).The MMR includes deaths during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, for a specified year.
Kudos to the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service for these frantic efforts bring made in this regard. It is salient to recommend to the Ministry of Health and other inter-sectoral players to confront high rates of maternal and infant mortality in Ghana through various approaches. Although safe motherhood programmes are being implemented by Ghana Health Service (GHS), a range of complementary interventions to improve maternal and newborn health ought to be embraced encompassing all and sundry in the country. A laudable strategy for reducing the rates of neonatal and maternal mortality is birth-preparedness package/plan (BPP), though it has remined a bit silent in the safe motherhood discourse among other equally important and potent interventions, to say the least. The purpose of the package is to encourage pregnant women, their families, and communities to plan for normal pregnancies, deliveries, and postnatal periods and to prepare to deal effectively with emergencies if they occur.
The BPP is a demand-creation intervention that promotes key messages and behaviour change via inter-personal communication through community health volunteers, Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) among others. Birth-preparedness plans will effectively and efficiently address the ‘three delays’ to care-seeking for obstetric emergencies: delay in recognition of problem, delay in seeking care, and delay in receiving care at facility. These delays represent barriers that often result in preventable maternal deaths. The presence of a skilled birth attendant (SBA) at delivery is recognized as essential to preventing maternal mortality. It is pertinent to add that, from varied research into BPP, the strategy which seeks to reduce the three delays should begin at the community level and be linked to improving access to basic/comprehensive essential obstetric care. Birth-preparedness, an established concept, is recommended consistently as a best practice; however, few studies have examined the effectiveness of a comprehensive BPP and its associated costs. While there is no universal definition of birth-preparedness, many studies that address birth-preparedness promote the following: preparation for normal birth by selecting a SBA and place of delivery; preparation of essential items for delivery, such as a clean delivery-kit; knowledge of danger signs for mother and newborn and when to seek help; knowledge of where and to whom to go for help; arranging access to funds and means for emergency transportation and medical care; and prior identification of blood donors.
Studies have shown that, if strong referral mechanisms are in place the introduction of professional attendant(s) as per the UN Summit proposition can lead to a marked reduction in the maternal mortality ratio.
Considering the issues on Birth Preparedness Planning in our communities and local parlance (the traditions and customs) in Ghana, the active and holistic involvement of TBAs rather than emphasizing their limited formal knowledge acquisition process ought to be factored into consideration. With reference to Michael P. Todaro in his Book Economic Development (6th Edition, pages71-76); Ghana is a dual society consisting small pockets of wealth within broad areas of poverty as exemplified by the non-existence of BPP by pregnant women in most rural homes.
Throughout history traditional birth attendants (TBAs) have been the main human resource for women during childbirth. Their role varies across cultures and at different times, but even today, they attend the majority of deliveries in rural areas of developing countries. There is little doubt that they have a significant role when it comes to cultural competence, consolation, empathy and psychosocial support at birth with important benefits for the mother and also for the new-born child. In many countries, the contribution of TBAs has been an important component of strategies to improve maternal and neo-natal outcomes. However, recent analyses have come to the conclusion that the impact of training TBAs on maternal mortality is low (Sai & Measham 1992). The non-existence of access roads by vehicles to some communities still militate against achieving 100 percent deliveries at health facilities or ensuring Skilled Attendant at Birth by the citizenry and TBAs across the rural parts of the country.
A primary visit to a TBA at Da in Nadowli/Kaleo District of the Upper West Region of Ghana who has captured about over eight (8) out of the 11 Districts/Municipality in the region disclosed in an interview with her that, “for more than ten to fifteen years now, she has never been involved in any programme of Ghana Health Service, and that she has had a clean track record of no maternal death. I discovered that the practicing TBA visited relied on their own improvised essential equipment, supplies and verandah’s or even sometimes under trees during counseling as part of her traditional ANC package”. It is interesting to note that, trained Nurses do access her services and local medicines though somewhat awkward. Her “gift” as a widow, is what she relies on for the upkeep of the entire family with numerous grandchildren. Based on this, should TBAs in LDCs including Ghana be excluded in our attempt to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality and also attain a reasonable percentage of Skilled Attendant Birth, a good number of them who earn their livelihood through their practice will be left out in the race. Other researchers could view this differently though, but this will ignite the flame of further studies into the area for the betterment of posterity.
Sep 1, 2013
Most people who occupy the social justice corners of the Internet are sure to have heard of the Edmonton police department’s anti-rape campaign. What makes the campaign so great is the focus on the offenders to not rape rather than telling the victims to not get raped with messages like, “It’s not sex when she’s passed out. Sex with someone unable to consent = sexual assault. Don’t be that guy.” SAVEdmonton even includes men as potential rape victims and broadens the crime outside a heteronormative perspective. From their own page on what makes this so different from other anti-rape campaigns:
Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders – ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault. By addressing sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities. (reposted from SAVEdmonton.com)
Edmonton’s posters with messages of ending victim blaming and targeting perpetrators was successful in its intention to decrease the rate of sexual assaults. But it seems like not everyone is supportive of the campaign and its success. An unauthorized campaign took SAVEdmonton’s original posters and made parody versions.
(image reposted from The Edmonton Journal)
What makes these parody posters so problematic is the perpetuation of the myth of false reporting or allegations, which our current culture is already strongly promoting. These parody posters not only silences actual and potential victims, but blames them for the assaults against them which completely contradicts the original campaign’s message.
Here are the actual posters from SAVEdmonton:
With the current messages that’s fed to our youth on a daily basis, it’s really important to think of the messages SAVEdmonton has to share with the world. It doesn’t promote a rape culture and actively seeks to create a change by preventing sexual assault. SAVEdmonton is truly a model anti-rape campaign.
Sep 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Aug 24, 2013
First- Ever Legal Abortion,
And It Saved A Dying Woman’s
(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)
The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.
Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.
The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.
The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”
Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.
Aug 21, 2013
“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.
Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”
Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.
Aug 21, 2013
Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black
(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)
Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.
First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.
What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.
The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.
Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.
As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.
Aug 20, 2013
One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.
The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:
86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
Aug 14, 2013
New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.
This article originally appeared on Salon.com.
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.
But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.
Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)
“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”
Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.
Aug 14, 2013
North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 24, 2013
while browsing and thinking about what to blog about i stumbled on eve for life’s website and found an interesting section called diary of a teen mom which includes stories from different girls telling Jamaica and the world about their experience as a teen mother so far. Here is on which stood out to me.
I REMEMBER the day quite vividly. It was a Friday, March 5, 2010 to be exact. My mom woke me up and told me, “You are not going to school today. Get dressed we have to leave the house by 9 a.m.”
Not knowing anything, I complied. To my surprise, we ended up at our family doctor. My mom seems to have recognised that I was not the same person. Up to the time when my name was called I was not sure why I was going to see the doctor. Mom then told me why we were visiting. After that, I was then told to go in and do a pregnancy test, and the result was positive – as in four months pregnant. After seeing and hearing all that, it was as if the whole world was closing in on me.
And it got worse. I was told that I had to report that I was pregnant since I was not at the age to consent to be having sex. I was 15 years old. I was escorted by the police to the Rape Unit. I had to give a lot of information to the corporal, which I did not like. Some of the questions she asked me were like the name of the man, where he lived, his age, where we had sex, what type of building – board or concrete – and the position we had sex. I had to answer all the questions and when I was finished I was tired.
When I got home, I called my older sister and told her what happened and she started to cry. I told my father and he hung up the phone on me. I tried to sleep that night but couldn’t because there were a lot of things running through my mind, like how was I going to take care of a baby?
The next day, I had to go back to the Rape Unit. My sister and mother accompanied me. On my way there, my stepfather called my mom and told her that I must not come back to his house. Before I was pregnant, I was living with mom and my stepfather, and the house belonged to my stepfather. Mom started to cry again and said, “I don’t know why you do something like this to me and now I don’t have nowhere to live.” I started crying too and my sister told me, “Don’t cry, let us talk to the corporal about it.” From that day, I had to be sleeping here and there.
The first three nights I spent with my church godmother. It hurts me to know that my father was living next door from were I was staying and I was not welcomed into his house. For the next five days, I slept at two different houses, then finally I got somewhere to stay until I had the baby.
In the space of a few days, my life suddenly changed. I wasn’t going to high school anymore. When they found out that I was pregnant, most of my friends stopped talking to me. I started going to the Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica shortly afterwards.
I started feeling the baby move at the end of the fourth month. I was living in a different world with strange families. It was very challenging for me and my pregnancy. It was costing my mother what she didn’t have, but she tried her best all the way. I had a big sister, and God knows she was the best friend somewone in my position could have. I was happy and sad at the same time. Going to clinic was something I looked forward to, reason being I learned a lot about myself and the baby.
I was on my way from the clinic one day when my water broke. I went to Victoria Jubilee Hospital and my mother carried my bags to me. My sister was with me when I gave birth to my beautiful daughter on July 16, 2010. She weighed six pounds and eight ounces.
Being a teen mother is hard, but my daughter is worth it. If you are not willing to sacrifice your life for someone else’s, I would advise teenagers not to have unprotected sex.
I am now back at a prominent high school and I intend to make the best of it this time around. I do not have a boyfriend and I have chosen to abstain. At 16, raising a child and going to school is challenging, but I want the best for my daughter and myself.
Important Fact: 18.8 per cent of births occurring in the 15-19 age group in 2008 were planned.
TO READ MORE ON THE SERIES CLICK THE LINK AND READ ON EVE FOR LIFE’S WEBSITE: http://www.eveforlife.org/Teen-Mothers.html
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
California’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 60 percent as a result of expanded sex education programs, according to a report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday.
The report –- which was based on data collected until 2011 — revealed that the California teen pregnancy rate reached a 20-year low that year. While in 1991, there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19, in 2011 this number decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens.
Teen pregnancy rates fell across all ethnic groups, according to the report. The Hispanic teen birth rate dropped from 73.6 in 2001 to 42.7 in 2011 –- although Hispanics continue to be the group with the highest teen birth rate. Teen pregnancy rates for African-Americans, Whites and Asian-Americans also decreased significantly.
Several factors contributed to the falling pregnancy rates, the department said in a press release. One factor was the state’s school sex education program, which law requires to be comprehensive and medically accurate. The report also credits community-based education programs that provide sexual health information to teens and their parents.
“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.
“California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”
As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
Jul 22, 2013
Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.
Jul 19, 2013
On the same day that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion omnibus bill into law, Republican legislators in the state introduced yet another anti-abortion measure, this time looking to ban abortions after 6 weeks. And while it seems very unlikely at this point that the bill will make it through the state’s legislative process by July 31, the end of the current special legislative session in Texas, the timing is still drawing a decent bit of attention.
There’s only one state in the U.S. with an abortion ban after 6 weeks: North Dakota. And that law is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. The 6-week bans, like the one proposed in Texas, rely upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat by a doctor. Arguing that a fetal heartbeat is “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the Texas bill, HB59, would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat exists before legally performing an abortion. Fetal heartbeats typically register at around 6 weeks, meaning that the bill would effectively make that the cut off for the procedure.
Jul 15, 2013
Flea markets are a one-stop place where people can get every-day necessities, often at a low price or second-hand. Among clothing, food, and furniture a Texas women can also find pills that induce miscarriage, an evocative sign of the role of family planning in everyday life. The pills, known by their brand name, Cytotec, were designed to prevent stomach ulcers, but are being taken without a prescription by many Texan women and causing complications such as extended bleeding and incomplete abortions.
In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, a region along the southeastern border of Mexico, these pills are reportedly popular. One of the states and nation’s most low-income areas, women of the Valley have already had difficulty accessing reproductive health care after the state cut funding for birth control in 2011.
HB 2, the Texas abortion bill that is awaiting Governor Rick Perry’s signature will further restrict access to family planning and reproductive health clinics across the state. Unless clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical center standards within a year, these locations will be forced to close, pushing women to seek risky alternatives. The two clinics currently in the Lower Rio Grande Valley do not meet the requirement of the bill. If these centers close down, women will have to travel hours across that state to receive care and will have additional costs such as transportation, hotel, food, missed work, and childcare.
Erlinda Dasquez, a 29 year-old mother of four who has used the pills, sees the widespread desire for these pills an economic issue. She described how for $40 she received four pills, a sum much less than the $550 pharmaceutical abortion cost at the closest legal provider. Many women and families like Dasquez seek illegal and unsafe forms of abortion due to the staggering costs of abortion which are typically not covered or subsidized by insurance companies or the state. Many undocumented women are also taking Cytotec and similar drugs. These women cannot utilize traditional health care outlets for fear of being reported.
The clinics that are being threatened do not solely provide abortion services. Many of these facilities are a source of free or inexpensive birth control for families, a valuable resource. Without assistance, many low-income people cannot justify paying the amount for contraceptives among other economic priorities. When interviewed, Alma Saldana said, “If I had $100 to pay for birth control or pay the bill for lights, I’d pay the lights”. Saldana stopped taking birth control after two nearby clinics closed and the remaining clinic charged more than she could afford.
Jul 12, 2013
Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies
The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.
Jul 9, 2013
Yesterday, the Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation authorized doctors to sterilize at least 148 women between 2006 and 2010. Another 100 women were estimated to be sterilized since the late 1990s. Incarcerated women at the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla were coerced into having tubal ligations against their will. Many of the women who underwent the procedure while incarcerated said they were not only provided with little information on the health risks, but falsely educated.
Women who are incarcerated are predominantly low-income, women of color. In 2009, the compounded state and federal incarceration rates (per 100,000) for black and Hispanic women were 142 and 74 respectively, while for white women this rate was 50 . Forced sterilization is a violation of one of women’s most basic rights – the right to procreate. Although modern-day sterilizations are not as blatantly racist as eugenics in California in the early 20th century, it is scary to see parallels between the “science” used to justify the practice then and now. Modern doctors pushing sterilization as a necessity for inmate’s health is reminiscent of the research and academic eugenic centers that sprung up a hundred years ago that were dedicated to maintaining “desirable” bloodlines.
What really enrages me is that Daun Martin, the top medical manager at Valley State Prison from 2005-08 “characterized the surgeries as an empowerment issue for female inmates, providing them the same options as women on the outside”. No, empowerment is allowing women to have autonomy over their bodies, families, and decision-making process. Empowerment is providing women with comprehensive, unbiased information, while respecting their authority. Empowerment is presenting honest facts that don’t spin the truth or patronize women’s ability to see political actors’ contrived stories for what they are.
Martin continues to prove clueless as he claims that some pregnant women commit premeditated crimes in order to enter the prison system and receive better health care. While he acknowledges that women who manipulate the system should not be criticized, he simultaneously asserts that this trend must stop. Instead of persecuting women, Martin should focus on the systems that force women to make such drastic decisions. What do the actions of these desperate women say about the state of our health care system and the level of inequality in this nation?
For more details, visit: http://cironline.org/reports/female-inmates-sterilized-california-prisons-without-approval-4917 Mauer, Marc. (2013). The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration. The Sentencing Project. Retrieved from: http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_Changing%20Racial%20Dynamics%202013.pdf
Jul 8, 2013
When I mention the term taboo I DO mean the game in which you guess the word someone on your team is explaining. I mean taboo as in is a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too sacred or too accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake, under threat of supernatural punishment as explained by Wikipedia(you know you refer to that site). Parents today are just not taking the initiative to teach their kids or even answer questions.Everything starts at home. The schools does not enforce sexual education like they should hence why advocates does the work they do. I hearing all kinds of things that are just plain crazy and I have to correct the young people and send to different resource. If different organizations are providing the resources then parents should back the kids it’s only right. I want education for all dispite the topic. If only I can educate the world.Sex shouldn’t be taboo instead it’s should be talked about. I am positive parents don’t want students learning from the wrong person.
Jul 2, 2013
AP: Ireland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.
Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life. (Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)
Jul 1, 2013
I decided to break the law to provide a necessary medical service because women were dying at the hands of butchers and incompetent quacks, and there was no one there to help them. The law was barbarous, cruel and unjust. I had been in a concentration camp, and I knew what suffering was. If I can ease suffering, I feel perfectly justified in doing so.
-Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian doctor who was arrested four times for performing abortions, but whose arrests eventually led to the 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country.
He died this week at the age of 90. Good obit in the NY Times.
Jul 1, 2013
I posted a couple things here about Wendy Davis’ insanely awesome marathon filibuster to stop SB5, which is a bill from Texas that would close the majority of the clinics in the state that not only provide abortion services, but contraception and general health care. And she wasn’t alone. Hundreds of local supporters stood by her and when the bill was thought to be stopped, the capitol building erupted with cheers.
The lawmakers had to vote on this bill before it hit midnight. But thanks to Senator Wendy Davis, Senator Leticia Van De Putte, and hundreds of reproductive justice advocates, lawmakers fortunately did not get the chance to meet that deadline. Republican lawmakers tried to argue that the bill was voted and passed on time despite clear evidence revealing that the vote ended on June 26 when it was supposed to be June 25. They later took it back and admitted that the vote occurred after midnight and the bill was dead. All Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst could say about it was: “…it’s been fun.” Because taking away people’s rights to health care is so much fun.
The bill was thought to be stopped and everyone in the social justice club was happy. But Texas Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to try to bring SB5 back. This would make all the efforts of the Texans who went to stop this in vain. Governor Rick Perry’s Facebook, Twitter, office website, office address, and phone information has been spreading so that people can voice their opinions. Hopefully the voices of the constituents will be heard.
While the Internet social justice atmosphere exploded at the news of Texan Republicans’ shady tactics, for good reason, Ohio has passed some terrible anti-choice legislation of their own. Ohio lawmakers didn’t even bring it up for debate. They slyly passed the bill last minute the other night. Activists are sharing Ohio Governor John Kaisch’s phone number (614-728-7576) in hopes that he line-vetoes the measure. If he doesn’t, Planned Parenthood and rape crisis centers lose their funding in that state, and those funds will be going to Crisis Pregnancy Centers. And you know what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are like. People will have to will 24 hours before receiving their emergency contraception. Forced ultrasounds will be legalized, and the unwilling patient would still have to pay for it. This measure would even redefine pregnancy, throwing out the actual medical definition, so that using emergency contraception would be considered abortion.
We have our work cut out for us.
Jun 26, 2013
From Huffington Post:
The Texas anti-abortion bill, which threatened to close nearly all of the abortion clinics in the state and prompted an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is dead, The Austin American-Statesman reported.
Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session’s end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called “a people’s filibuster,”The Associated Press reported.
The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried “Shame! Shame!” when Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
Their cries continued to echo inside the chamber — and over a livestream watched by thousands around the world — until after the midnight deadline passed.
Although some Republican lawmakers later claimed the bill had passed in time, Democrats denied that the vote was completed before the clock ran out on the session.
A time stamp showing the vote completed after midnight was the deciding factor. “This will not become law,” Sen. John Whitmire (D), told The Austin American-Statesman.
In response, the crowd of protesters gathered in the capitol cheered and began singing “The Eyes Of Texas,” the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin.
According to The Texas Tribune, Dewhurst was less than pleased by the evening’s turn of events. After ruling that the time on SB 5 had expired, he told reporters that “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” had derailed legislation that was designed to protect women and babies.
The legislation would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regulated first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers and restricted access to medication abortions. Had it passed, nearly all of the clinics in the state would have been shuttered.
Dewhurst also hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may call another special session to get the bill passed, saying: “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”
Despite a long day of filibustering, Davis was upbeat when she greeted the crowd of supporters, who applauded the senator and chanted her name.
“Today was democracy in action,” Davis said. “You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.”
Jun 26, 2013
From Tumblr blogger kat1712:
(edited for language)
Senator Wendy Davis is a f*cking badass.
There’s this bill that they are trying to pass in Texas that would make it illegal to get any abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would make it very difficult for abortion centers to continue doing what they do. Governor Rick Perry has already said that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will sign it. And Wendy Davis said f*ck no that is not happening.
So she’s filibustering it. That means she asked to talk on the subject at 11:18 this morning, and if she can continue talking about abortion until 11:59 tonight, the bill won’t reach Governor Perry, and they would have to start all over with the bill next time they meet- 2 years from now.
But Wendy has to keep talking. She can’t pause for even a minute, not for food or a sip of water or to go to the bathroom or sit down. She can’t even lean up against anything, or she’s out. So she’s wearing motherf*cking PINK NIKE TENNIS SHOES in the middle of the state senate.
She also has to continue talking about the topic. She sent out tweets an other messages last night asking for anyone and everyone’s abortion story, and received a sh*t load of answers. Her staff is still collecting them, and she’s reading them aloud to the senate. Not only is she making this bill impossible to pass, she may just change some minds while she’s at it.
This is history, guys. Wendy Davis is a motherf*cking badass, and we are watching it happen.
Jun 21, 2013
For decades, most Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been lying to women, evading questions, and disguising their institutions as health care facilities. They receive federal funding to shame women into believing lies- “abortion causes breast cancer”, “it will make you infertile”, “condoms do not protect against STIs”, etc. They do not have a doctor at these facilities, and are not under HIPAA regulations of non-disclosure of medical records. They are against all contraception forms. They will harass a woman until she is in tears, and then send her on her way with a Christian religious token, and a promise from her that she will keep her child, they will only provide “help” if she agrees to go to Bible Study. This is not health care. Title X funding should be revoked.
Jun 21, 2013
“CPCs have a long history of engaging in deceptive advertising. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care. The Family Research Council investigated what names would be most likely to appeal to women, particularly pro-choice women, in a 1998 report. Women’s Resource Center, which gives the impression of a full range of services, was deemed to have the most strategic value in reaching women “at risk for abortion.” The report also showed that women faced with an unplanned pregnancy were most likely to look in the Yellow Pages under the words “Pregnancy,” “Medical,” “Women’s Centers” and “Clinics.” Accordingly, CPCs often are advertised under these categories, as well as “Abortion Alternatives,” and “Women’s Organizations.” CPCs also advertise through posters, signs, and billboards that contain messages like, “Free Pregnancy Test,” or “Pregnant? Scared? We Can Help! Call 1-800 #.” Women report, however, that when they call these numbers the CPC representatives evade questions about whether they provide abortions, and urge the women to make an appointment to meet with a ‘counselor’ to talk in person.”
Jun 19, 2013
Ogilvy & Mather Argentina recently created a campaign for Huggies with the aim of sharing the experience of pregnancy with fathers who usually do not experience a baby’s growth in utero the same way a woman does. It was sweet, until I noticed they used one word – “compensate”.
“Pregnancy was always about her. That’s why at Huggies, we did something to compensate fathers…”
Sorry fathers. We didn’t know you wanted to experience the joys of pregnancy too. I’m sure women everywhere have been chastened by this commercial, and are ashamed about making it all about themselves. I mean, the process of growing a tiny human, carrying it around for 9+ months, and then pushing it through a small, magic orifice with superhuman strength is quite selfish. Why haven’t women thought to include fathers instead of being divas about it all? But now we know that while we suffer through the back pain, nausea, crazy cravings, weight gain, swollen feet, indigestion, fatigue and more, we are obligated to somehow find the strength and brainpower to make a father feel like a sequined, shimmering princess by strapping a fancy gizmo to his tummy that lets him feel the baby kicking. Awww! How touching. Do you feel compensated?
That word completely marred the emotional value of that commercial. Where else would this kind of nonsense exist but in a patriarchal society?
“Compensated”, they said. KMT
Jun 12, 2013
A dangerous development in Myanmar is largely going unreported. Recently, local authorities announced their support for the enforcement of a two-child limit for Rohingya Muslims. While not an official policy of the central or state government, the policy has been implemented on a grass-roots level. The most recent public endorsement for this policy comes from Immigration Minister, Khin Yi who stated that Rohingya families of 10-12 children are “not good for child nutrition. It’s not very easy for schooling. It is not very easy to take care of the children.” While details of this discriminatory practice are recently reaching the international community, some believe this policy has been in effect for years, possibly decades.
This stateless, minority group primarily lives in one of Southeast Asia’s poorest regions, Rakhine state. They have been excluded from Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Act which recognizes 135 ethnic groups. Bangladesh has also disowned the Rohingyas and denied them refugee status, although they migrated from Bangladesh between 1824 and 1948. The two-child policy is aimed at controlling unrest between Buddhists (the majority in Myanmar) and Muslims. As a result of increasing violence, stricter policies have been placed on the Rohingyas, risking the spread of wider anti-Muslim sentiment. More worrisome is the belief that the child restriction is a form of ethnic cleansing.
Health experts fear this policy could encourage unsafe abortions in Myanmar, where abortion is illegal except in cases of maternal life. Women that already have two children who become pregnant might have an illegal abortion in order to avoid fines or incarceration. Vickie Hawkins, Deputy Head of Mission of Myanmar’s Doctors Without Borders divisionv often sees “Women coming in [the] clinics with infections and medical complications because they have had unsafe abortions”. Doctors Without Borders operate in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships where there are the largest Rohingya populations in the state. Journalists are not allowed to visit either town, making it difficult to access correct information and rally the international community behind this issue.
The UN and other human right organizations have condemned Myanmar’s unofficial policy, arguing it violates international law and harms women’s mental and physical health. While family planning is an issue that should involve both parents, this policy attacks women’s autonomy over their bodies. In addition, this ban circumscribes the construction of Myanmar Buddhist families onto the Rohingya population. Forcing cultural and ethnic norms onto groups has never worked and will only intensify the animosity between Myanmar’s populations.
Source: Reuter’s. “Myanmar Minister backs 2-child Policy for Rohingyas”
Jun 1, 2013
May 31, 2013
I used to consider myself “transiently pro-choice,” mainly because I didn’t know enough about the issue to restrict anyone’s rights, but I certainly wasn’t comfortable with abortion.
Then things started to change as I came to college and, through my studies, came to some startling realizations about women’s health.
I felt that way before I developed a greater understanding of healthcare in America, particularly the fact that millions are uninsured and underinsured. Not only that, but also that it is easier in this country to get insurance for Viagra than for birth control.
It was before I understood sex and how much easier it is to be sexually irresponsible than responsible. It is not easy to take one pill at the same time every day, especially when your insurance plan does not cover contraceptives. I was “transiently pro-choice” before I had ever taken Plan B, placed that second pill on my tongue and realized that to some I was now a “murderer.”
Most importantly, it was before I understood the meaning of choice. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” If Dumbledore said it, then it must be true. However, there are no identical choices, and not everyone has the same opportunities or resources, not everyone has bootstraps or even boots with which to pull themselves up.
But most of all, it was before I delved into the field of Global Health.
Internationally, 222 million women have an unmet need for family planning. For those who pretend that statistics about women’s issues are in some way fabricated or exaggerated, women with an “unmet need” are those who are sexually active, and are not using any method of contraception, but either do not want to become pregnant or want to delay their next pregnancy.
Over 40 million women have abortions annually. 40 million. And nearly half of them are unsafe. 47,000 women die from complications due to unsafe abortion every year. 47,000. Not to mention the 8.5 million others who suffer serious medical complications from unsafe abortions. 13 percent of maternal deaths are attributable to unsafe abortions. Women drink turpentine or bleach, insert haphazard herbal mixtures into their vaginas, penetrate themselves with hangers or chicken bones, and jump from roofs or fling themselves down stairs because they don’t have access to abortion services.
This is what is known as a preventable cause of death. This is on us. We can’t ascribe these deaths to the long Latin names of communicable diseases. These women do not die of natural causes. These women die because of us, namely bad governance and worse laws. These women die because lawmakers ignore science and statistics, and they ignore history. Policymakers are more concerned with the life of a fetus than the life of its mother.
These policies cannot be categorized as “third world problems.” Less than two weeks after Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) claimed that in abortion “there is no such exception as life of the mother […] with advances in science and technology,” Savita Halappanavar became a martyr to the cause, dying because despite pregnancy complications and her inevitable miscarriage, she was denied an abortion in a Dublin hospital.
Criminalizing abortion is not a tradeoff. Save some fetuses, lose some women; there are no winners. Rather than decreasing abortion rates, it merely decreases the proportion that are performed in a safe, sanitary manner. Western European countries, home to some of the most liberal abortion laws, have the lowest abortion rates globally, with an estimated 12 per 1,000 women of childbearing age annually. Whereas regions with highly restrictive abortion laws have rates two to three times that, at 29 per 1,000 and 32 per 1,000 in Africa and Latin America, respectively.
How one can call oneself “pro-life” while striving to criminalize abortion is one of the greatest health paradoxes known to humankind. If pro-lifers want to save lives they should take a leaf out of South Africa’s book. The country has the lowest abortion rates in the continent due to the liberalization of its laws in 1997, which led to a decrease in abortion-related deaths by 91 percent in the first five years.
Another way to save lives is to financially support mothers and women of childbearing age, which decreases abortion rates even in developed countries.
However, the most direct way to prevent abortion-related deaths, both those of the mothers and those of the fetuses, is to make modern contraceptive methods affordable and accessible. Approximately 80 percent of unintended pregnancies in developing countries can be attributed to unmet need for contraceptives. Even here, we have much to gain from improving access to contraceptives. A recent study performed in St. Louis, surveying over 9,000 women, showed that providing a variety of free contraceptives decreased teen pregnancy rates from 34 to 6.3 per 1,000 women, and abortion rates dropped from between 13.4-17 to between 4.4-7.5 per 1,000 women.
Contraceptives, not restrictive abortion laws, save lives.
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 31, 2013
Whenever abortion is the topic of a conversation, especially when spoken of as a choice that someone wants to make for whatever reason that’s personally valid to them, there is always someone who pops up and says, “Adoption is an option too!” You know, as if that thought never occurred to anyone ever or it’s some kind of a magical word to rid one of an unwanted pregnancy. I witness it all the time on my STFU Pro-Lifers blog through the large amount of messages I receive on a daily basis, but yesterday a self-proclaimed pro-choicer shared that familiar, derailing insight you hear from anti-choicers. Granted, she had her own personal experiences with abortion and adoption. I made sure that she knew how appreciative and grateful I was to her for sharing those experiences with me. But it was something she said that really bugged me. There were a few sentences subtly expressing privilege and ignorance.
“It isn’t that hard to find someone to adopt a baby…”
She also mentioned the baby she gave up for adoption was blonde haired and blue eyed. It’s another discussion that makes it clear how important it is to be intersectional. She was speaking solely as a white woman in her experiences with adoption. She somehow gained an adoption lawyer at no personal cost to her. Adoptive parents quickly lined up for this white blue eyed baby. And the parents the girl chose to adopt her baby paid for her one year of school tuition. She was happy with her decision, and that’s great. I’m happy for her. Anyone would be.
But for the part about how “easy” it is to get someone to adopt a baby… well, I quickly and politely corrected her. She thanked me and then told me that she loves my blog. The matter was settled. It still bugs me though, and it’s not so much the person but the original line of thinking shared by so many people. You hear things like that all the time. Oh, you’re pregnant and don’t want to be? But there are tons of people out there who can’t have children! You should consider adoption!
I guess no one told them that less than 2% of our entire population actually adopts, and when they do adopt, the less than 2% tend to favor the able-bodied, young, emotionally sound, sibling-less, white baby. [source] And really? Agreeing to the idea of an adoption won’t make an unwanted pregnancy go poof! There are still nine, agonizing months of a condition that was never consented to. I mean, most pregnancies are already really difficult for those who do it willingly. There are tons of complications that arise during those three, brave trimesters. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic it is for those who desperately don’t want to be pregnant but were forced to remain so.
Don’t want to raise a child? Fine! Adoption is definitely an alternative to parenthood. Just keep in mind that abortion is an alternative to a pregnancy. That’s how it works. Don’t talk to me about how there are tons of people in the world who can’t have children. No one should be forced into being a brood mare for someone else. No one owes their body to anyone else.
As pro-choicers, it’s inherent in our very name that we celebrate choice whether it be parenthood, adoption, or abortion. We keep in mind that our lives are individual, and the same can be said about our choices.
May 30, 2013
There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights. One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action. When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization. According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.” They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites. To this organization, abortion is:
An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken. But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous. Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.
The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website. Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on. One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice. The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth. You can watch her video response here. I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.
It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though. Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action. Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff. The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident. But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.
Seriously! Click the link below to watch!
May 27, 2013
What if all the empathy that transpired in the speeches and talks of policy makers I listened to today at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference could immediately be converted to action? This is the question I asked myself during my reflection on the pre-youth conference that ok place on the 27th May 2013 in Kuala Lumpur.
Passion, enthusiasm, and determination were perceptible in the way the policy makers I listened to and spoke with today spoke about how painful, frustrating, and humiliating the consequences of inequalities that exist in today‘s world are. But does this mean these people have finally heeded to the call of social activists to act now for inequality to be eradicated? Only time will tell as youths will be keeping a keen eye on these people to ensure that all the promises they will make this time around are kept and within the minimum possible time frame.
“The biggest risk to the continuity of humanity is inequality“, declared UNFPA‘s deputy Director; Kate Gilmore during an intervention at the Women Deliver pre-youth conference. Conscious of this, it is unavoidably true that, by delivering on their promises to not only reduce but eradicate inequalities and injustices of every nature, policy makers will be contributing to the continuity of humanity. Therefore by failing to deliver for Girls, women, and Youths, policy makers of this generation will be committing a crime that present and future generations will not pardon.
But well, we the youths of this generation won‘t sit arms folded to see you commit such heinous crimes, because our silence-that of Girls, Women, and Youths is a roar that will degenerate into something worse if not listened to.
May 27, 2013
May 27, 2013
50years is worth celebrating no doubt, but what do Africans have to celebrate the African Union for ? Economic growth ?,political independence ? social progress ?,or technological advancement ? An answer to this will depend on which side of the board one finds his/herself. There is no doubt that strides have been made in some of the mentioned above areas, but if there one area in which the African Union has woefully failed is in the area of the empowerment of girls, women, and youths.
In a write-up to mark this day titled : The Africa We Want to See,the current chairperson of the African Union commission, Nkosazana Nzuma amongst other things talks of this being an opportunity to take stock of Africa today,its assets, capabilities,opportunities , and challenges. She is definitely right and inorder for the African Union not to become mere words as feared by Ahmed Ben Bella, Africa through the African Union and its people must deliver for its main assets which is its people- especially girls, women , and youths. The time is for African girls, women, and youths is now ! I am utterly convinced that the African delegates and other stakeholders at the 3rd Global Women Deliver conference will make cristal clear and that concrete actions will be taken to ensure that the plight of the African girl,woman , and youth takes central stage in the various policy formulation and implementation processes accross our beloveth continent ;Africa.
May 25, 2013
Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths & Miscarriages?
On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”
The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.
If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state would be setting a “dangerous precedent” that “unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide,” says Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal organization that has joined with Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, to defend Buckhalter. If Buckhalter’s case goes forward, NAPW fears it could spur a wave of similar prosecutions in Mississippi and other states.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 16, 2013
Melissa Harris-Perry’s Panel looks at Elizabeth Smart’s recent comments on abstinence-only sex education and whether the policy is effective.
WATCH IT HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty_MA_mrow8
May 13, 2013
May 4, 2013
Apr 27, 2013
« KO! KO! KO! », shouted the crowd .Mind you, they weren’t participating in a boxing match, neither were they at a musical concert, they shouted KO! in response to the health officials that took turns in sensitizing the crowd of more than 5000 that gathered at the Douala Place du Gouvernement to participate in the 9KM sensitization Walk that was organized by the Cameroon’s Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and better known by its French acronym CCATSIDA, Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health, and other stakeholders (local and international) in the fight against Malaria this Saturday 20th April 2013.
Being a participant, I could not help but be marveled at how engaged fellow participants were as we criss-crossed the streets of Cameroon’s most populated town. Young and old, and from diverse horizons, one thing united this people; that Malaria be kicked Out of Cameroon.
This passion and demonstrated in the endurance of the participants all through the alertness of their footsteps and the smile on their faces, could not however stop me from asking myself fundamental questions around the strategy for the fight against Malaria in my country. Thus, when one of the thousands of spectators that had amassed at streets corners shouted, “Where are condoms?”, there was an outburst of laughter from the crowd, I began asking myself what might have prompted this spectator to ask the question he did. As I thought about this, my eyes fell on the logo of the Cameroonian Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and on the T-Shirt of the participant ahead of me, my answer was here. The words AIDS on this coalitions logo prompted the question from this spectator.
AIDS and its prevention methods are better known in Cameroon than Malaria and its means of protection. This is paradoxical given that Malaria kills in Cameroon and Sub-Saharan Africa than HIV/AIDS. Mind you, I am in no way saying that resources (human and material) should be shifted from the fight against HIV/AIDS, which is causing havoc in Cameroon especially amongst youths, to the fight against Malaria. The point I am trying to make is that the fight against Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis has for long been done as though they were isolated.
It is true that a person that has Malaria or Tuberculosis is not automatically an HIV/AIDS patient, but most often people suffering from HIV/AIDS in Cameroon are victims of the Malaria and tuberculosis given the milieu in which they live and the little means they have to survive on.
I have for long being convinced that an effective fight against Malaria cannot be done in an isolated manner but must be inclusive; taking into consideration the vectors of the disease in various communities in Cameroon. A dirty environment provides good breeding grounds for Mosquitoes especially the female Anopheles mosquito, through which Malaria is spread, the fight against Malaria must start from there. If a clean environment is achieved through mechanism through efficient urban development and poverty reduction strategies, Malaria will be made history. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that prevention is better than Cure?
In Cameroon and I guess is the case elsewhere in the world, a change from a dirty and crowded environment to a cleaner environment is the main indicator that a person has emerged from poverty. This is so because people who could barely afford 3 meals a day will have little time to think about the environments in which they live talk less of women in this bracket going for prenatal consultation or even having time to take their infants to the hospital when they are sick. Thus, despite the bed-nets distribution campaigns that have been organized all over Cameroon and despite the fact that Malaria treatment is free for children and pregnant women in Cameroon, Malaria killed more than 3000 people most of whom children.
Without an efficient attack on poverty, which is fertile ground for poor living conditions, I am afraid our walk and much talk on the fight against Malaria will be in vain. For Malaria to be kicked out of this country, we must not only walk on occasions like those organized to mark the World day for the fight against Malaria, we must truly walk the talk on the fight against Malaria daily, by launching an immediate assault and poverty. Because Malaria is the consequence of a dirty environment which is its self a glaring consequence of poverty.
Apr 24, 2013
“I also came to realize that the focus on personhood ignores the fact that a zygote, embryo, or fetus is growing inside of another person’s body.”
|—||Libby Anne, “How I Lost Faith in the ‘Pro-Life’ Movement”|
This is really important to consider. You absolutely can advocate for a zygote, embryo, or fetus. But understand that in doing so, it subsequently infringes on the rights of the person this being resides in.
Giving a fetus personhood is not equality. No one currently has the special right of using another’s person body without constant consent.
Apr 22, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights have filed a lawsuit to block an Arkansas law banning abortion care after 12 weeks from going into effect.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe had vetoed the extreme measure in March, citing concerns that it violated Roe v. Wade and that subsequent legal challenges would prove “very costly to the taxpayers of our state” as the “costs and fees [of defending an unconstitutional law] can be significant.” The Legislature overrode Beebe’s veto in March.
The suit seeks a preliminary injunction against the law, which is set to take effect in July.
“This law is one of the most dangerous assaults on women’s health that we’ve seen in decades,” said Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “We may not all agree about abortion, but we can all agree that this complex and personal decision should be made by a woman, her family, and her doctor, not politicians.”
And not just women, of course. Everyone is entitled to reproductive/sexual healthcare and rights.
Apr 22, 2013
When debating whether a fetus’s “right to life” trumps a woman’s “right to choose” — or whether the news media has paid enough attention to the trial of a Philadelphia doctor who allegedly killed seven babies born alive during late-term abortions, as well as a pregnant woman — Americans are bitterly divided on abortion. Before abandoning facts for rhetoric, let’s tackle some misunderstandings about this procedure’s history and impact.
Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-abortion-rights/2013/04/18/bd53c884-a5e5-11e2-b029-8fb7e977ef71_story.html
Apr 22, 2013
Social justice and environmental justice have a very direct
correlation. The environmental movement and the feminist movement both
advocate for the health of humanity, but in different ways. There are
many subject matters that exemplify this intersectionality.
For example, the way people use and abuse nature can easily be
compared to how society uses and abuses women.
Toxic Chemicals. We clearly need to do something about how easy it is
for major companies to slowly pollute our bodies and our earth. There
are over 84,000 chemicals in popular consumer products and only 200
have been tested. When chemicals even are tested it is primarily on
men, so these companies clearly do not care about the effect they are
having on women’s bodies. Some of these chemicals are made from toxins
that pollute our water and air. Many of these chemicals have been
shown to cause infertility, low sperm counts, sexual dysfunction,
miscarriage, and different types of cancer. Not to mention women use
personal care products far more often than men and are therefore more
negatively affected. Here at ETSU we’re celebrating Earth Day with a
festival and a young man best summarized it when he said “unnatural
chemicals don’t make natural beauty.”
Not everyone can afford ridiculously expensive so-called “natural
organic” personal care products to keep themselves and their children
healthy. In addition, toxic waste dumps are disproportionately located
near minority communities. Women of color are targeted by systematic
racist beauty standards convincing them to buy hair relaxers and skin
lightening creams with chemicals that have severe damage potential.
For example, the chemicals found in common African-American hair
products are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs are
linked to a range of reproductive health issues, like premature
puberty, gynecologic cancer, and birth defects. Look at who is hurting
the most by toxic chemicals. This is clearly a social justice issue
activists need to rise up against.
Quick Fact: 80% of federal transportation funds go to highways while
only 20% goes to mass transit. Not only does this hurt inner city
communities, but it’s a contributing factor to global warming.
Reproductive Justice. You know what’s really hurting our resources?
Overpopulation. People are using up far more than they need to and it
is growing out of control. If reproductive health options were more
readily available this would alleviate a great deal of that
Here is a quick review on what the Toxic Substances Control Act is and
why we need it to be updated. This site also helps teach you on how
you can help.http://www.saferchemicals.org/resources/opinion.html
Find out what is in your cosmetics:
Wake up to the threat of toxic chemicals!
www.rhtp.org/fertility/ToxicZombie.asp (Many resources used in the
writing of this blog were obtained from this site.)
“Toxic Combination: Fact Sheet on Toxic Chemicals and Reproductive
Health”—Center for American Progress:
“Women of Color are at Greater Risk for Toxic Chemical
Exposure”—Women’s Voices for the Earth:
Apr 22, 2013
Photo Credit: Sacramento Earth Day
Today is Earth Day.
It’s a day that many of us associate with recycling and celebrating trees, wildlife, and rivers. And as a recreational tree-hugger, I can appreciate those traditional connotations of Earth Day.
But today’s environmental issues run much broader than just our waterways and forests.
Examining environmental issues with a feminist lens enables us to see the intersection of gender, socio-economics, and the environment.
The exploration and study of this intersection is formally referred to as eco-feminism.
Although no single definition of it exists, I would define it as a feminism that works to examine how environmental degradation and climate change impact communities and community members based on their socio-economic status and gender.
It’s important that the valuable intersectional perspective of eco-feminism doesn’t get lost amidst the green frenzy on Earth Day.
Women and Global Climate Change
Natural disasters and resource shortages hit impoverished communities first and worst. With women making up an estimated 70% of those living below the poverty line, they are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.
Women living in developing nations tend to be natural resource managers as the gatherers of food, water and firewood. And from a young age, girls traditionally assist their mothers with this work.
As resources become scarcer with decline in the environment’s health, girls are attending less and less school to be able to dedicate more time to finding water, or simply because school fees are no longer available as crop cycles become less predictable.
You can imagine the cycle of poverty that this spawns.
As primary natural resource managers, these women are especially well-equipped to lead environmental mitigation and adaptation efforts.
But due to traditional and patriarchal gender roles that devalue unpaid work like childcare and water retrieval, women’s specialized knowledge in smart and effective climate change adaptation is typically not respected or taken into consideration in most community decision-making processes.
Environmental and Social Injustice in the United States
In our own backyard, low-income communities and communities of color bear the greatest burden of environmental injustice.
Take Mossville, Louisiana as an example.
The small, rural, and predominantly African American town became the site of the highest concentration of vinyl plastic manufacturers in the US, in addition to housing a coal-fired power plant, oil refineries and other chemical production facilities.
Together, these facilities produce more than 4 million pounds of carcinogenic toxic chemicals that end up in the soil, air and water of Mossville. This community’s exposure to these toxins has resulted in grave health impacts, from high incidences of asthma to a cancer epidemic.
It is not a coincidence that these toxic plants were built in a lower-class community of color and not a place like downtown Washington, DC, a place populated by people of privilege and significant socio-political power.
Mossville, Louisiana is a clear cut incidence of environmental racism.
Another alarming instance of environmental and social injustice happening right before our eyes has to do with toxic chemical exposure.
Mounting scientific evidence reveals that chemicals in our air, water and everyday products—from our furniture to our personal care and cleaning products—are harming our reproductive health and fertility.
This is frightening news for those of us that are planning big spring cleaning extravaganzas or like to paint our nails every few weeks.
But what about if you clean houses for a living or work in a nail salon? Your exposure to toxic chemicals is likely to be constant and severe.
Women of color and immigrant women are overrepresented in professions that entail extreme and dangerous exposure to toxic chemicals.
Again, it’s not a coincidence that low-income women of color are disproportionately burdened by toxic chemicals through their jobs, and the eco-feminist lens helps illuminate this reality.
Applying Eco-Feminism on Earth Day and Beyond
The eco-feminism lens is helpful in addressing environmental issues because it allows us the unveil oppressive societal structures – like racism, sexism, and classism – that play a significant role in the health of the environment and who is most impacted by this health declining.
So from now on, when you’re discussing recycling with your friends, don’t just think about where your un-recycled items will end up.
Dig deeper and consider which communities tend to live near the landfills in which non-recyclable waste is dumped.
Then dig even deeper and consider how living near the landfills may impact their health and wellbeing and if they are likely to have access to health insurance or not when it comes time to address these health impacts.
That is the beauty of the intersectional nature of eco-feminism.
With eyes wide open to the importance of justice issues on Earth Day, let’s take action in support of legislation that would make the 84,000 chemicals in commerce today safe for use by all consumers, but most importantly, communities that are disproportionately harmed by toxic chemicals.
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Apr 20, 2013
Virginia’s New Anti-Choice
Restrictions Will Force 40-
Year-Old Abortion Clinic To
Close This Weekend
Last week, Virginia’s Board of Health voted to finalizeunnecessary regulations that will force many of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. Those new restrictions — which are known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws — are already having their intended effect. Hillcrest Clinic, which opened to the public just nine months after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion services, will be closing its doors this weekend.
Apr 19, 2013
DOWNLOAD THE EARTH DAY OF ACTION TOOLKIT HERE
What do reproductive and sexual health have to do with the environment and Earth Day?
A whole lot.
When we think of Earth Day, visions of green recycling signs and oceans often come to the forefront of our minds. But today’s environmental issues run much broader and deeper than just our recycling bins and waterways.
Natural disasters and resource shortages hit impoverished communities first and worst. With women making up an estimated 70% of those living below the poverty line, they are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. This increased vulnerability for women and girls is oftentimes manifested in high rates of maternal mortality, pregnancy complications, and poor overall reproductive health. This is just one example that illustrates the intersection of reproductive health and the environment.
In our own backyard in the United States, low-income communities and communities of color bear the greatest burden of environmental injustice.
Take Mossville, Louisiana as an example.
The small, rural, and predominantly African American town became the site of the highest concentration of vinyl plastic manufacturers in the US, in addition to housing a coal-fired power plant, oil refineries and other chemical production facilities.
Together, these facilities produce more than 4 million pounds of carcinogenic toxic chemicals that end up in the soil, air and water of Mossville. This community’s exposure to these toxins has resulted in grave health impacts, from high incidences of asthma to a cancer epidemic.
It is not a coincidence that these toxic plants were built in a lower-class community of color and not a place like downtown Washington, DC, a place populated by people of privilege and significant socio-political power. Mossville, Louisiana is a clear cut incidence of environmental racism.
Another alarming instance of environmental and social injustice happening right before our eyes has to do with toxic chemical exposure.
Mounting scientific evidence reveals that chemicals in our air, water and everyday products—from our furniture to our personal care and cleaning products—are harming our reproductive health and fertility. This is frightening news for those of us that are planning big spring cleaning extravaganzas or like to paint our nails every few weeks. But what about if you clean houses for a living or work in a nail salon? Your exposure to toxic chemicals is likely to be constant and severe.
Women of color and immigrant women are overrepresented in professions that entail extreme and dangerous exposure to toxic chemicals.
Again, it’s not a coincidence that low-income women of color are disproportionately burdened by toxic chemicals through their jobs.
This is why we must take action this Earth Day and raise our voices in support of the Safe Chemicals Act, a piece of legislation that would make the 84,000 chemicals in commerce today safe for use by all consumers, but most importantly, communities that are disproportionately harmed by toxic chemicals.
- Blog for Amplify!
Participate in Amplify’s Earth Day discussion/blog-a-thon, using the Earth Day category tag. Write about how you see reproductive health and the environment being connected and what you’re doing to stand up for them on Earth Day.
- Photo Petition
Download these pre-made petition signs, fill them out, take pictures with them, and email them to your Senators (instructions on how to do this included!) to let them know that you support the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill that would protect marginalized communities from toxic harm. Please also Tweet them and post them on Facebook with the #RJonEarthDay hashtag.For a chance to win a signed copy of Eco-Sex: Going Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable, also email your photo petition pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org !
- Twitter Chat
Let’s chat about #RJonEarthDay at 2pm EST on Earth Day, April 22nd!
- Host a Film ScreeningShare one of the films included in the action toolkit with your friends, campus or community to raise awareness about the link between reproductive and environmental health & justice.
- Host a Green Cleaning Party
Learn how to make toxic-free cleaning products with Women’s Voices for the Earth’s green cleaning party kit, which is also included in the action toolkit!
Apr 16, 2013
Among both pro-choice and anti-abortion activists, the story of the abhorrent conditions and Kermit Gosnell’s actions at the Women’s Medical Society clinic in West Philadelphia brought feelings of anger and sadness as it lit up Facebook and social media. People expressed outrage not only at the death of Karnamaya Mongar, a Nepalese refugee who died after receiving an overdose of a sedative at the hands of Gosnell’s staff, but also at the failure of officials to close Women’s Medical Society and revoke Gosnell’s license, and at the media for failing to give the story the attention it deserves. (To read a more complete story, read this article at The Atlantic, one of the first news outlets to cover the case)
I agree that people should feel outraged. They should feel outraged for all of the reasons listed above, and they should feel outraged because no woman, no person, no girl should ever have to face the conditions that Gosnell’s patients did. This situation could have been prevented if the United States guaranteed every woman’s right to safe, affordable, legal abortion. Unfortunately, it does not.
One of the most shocking aspects of the story were the fetuses found stored in jars and refrigerators in Gosnell’s office. Many of the fetuses were over the age of 24 weeks, the cut-off for legal abortion in Pennsylvania. One question that has not been asked is why? Why were these fetuses aborted so late? The most likely answer: these poor women did not have access to an abortion any earlier than that. Even if they realized they were pregnant at 8 or 10 weeks, it could have easily taken them 3 months to save up the hundreds of dollars they needed to afford an abortion. This is yet another example of why there should be funding to pay for abortions for those women who cannot afford them.
Another question: why did these women go to Gosnell’s office? Why did they not leave when they saw the terrible conditions? The answer: they had nowhere else to turn. There are four abortion providers in Philadelphia, and in 2008, there were only 50 total abortion providers in the entire state of Pennsylvania. 46% of Pennsylvania women live in a county without an abortion provider. Even if a women or girl could have gotten transportation to see a different provider, it could have taken weeks to get an appointment, after the weeks it took her to raise the money. In addition, Pennsylvania law states that a woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. This is why clinics cannot be closed, why providers must be able to continue providing safe, legal abortions, and why these restrictions must be removed.
Gosnell’s case should be receiving publicity. Not only does it show the terrible situations in which women who are exercising their right to have an abortion find themselves in all too often thanks to restrictive legislation, but it shows what will happen if abortion becomes illegal.
I would also like to use Gosnell’s case to shine light on another pervasive problem that threatens women’s and girls’ lives around the world: unsafe abortion. In 2008, 21.6 million unsafe abortions took place worldwide; only 360,000 of these occurred in developed regions. As a result of these unsafe abortions, 47,000 women in developing countries will die; only 90 will die in developed regions. Complications from pregnancy, including unsafe abortion are the leading cause of death for young women ages 15 through 19. Among those who survive the procedure, many suffer from post-abortion sepsis, hemorrhage, and genital trauma.
As in the case of Gosnell’s patients, we must ask ourselves: why? Why do 3 million girls between the ages of 15 and 19 receive unsafe abortions? Why are over 21 million unsafe abortions performed annually? One major barrier is the legality of abortion. Only 15% of developing countries permit abortions on request, and only 39 percent of women live in a country where it is available upon request. In 4 countries, abortion is not permitted under any circumstances, even to save the life of the mother. In addition, many of these countries have additional restrictions on abortion like those we see in the United States. Even if abortion is legal, women may have to go through a waiting period or receive an endorsement from several doctors or specialists. In developing countries where physicians are few and far between, this can make the process nearly impossible.
Several other issues restrict women from accessing safe and legal abortion care. Many countries have failed to make provisions for abortion services, often due to social and cultural beliefs. Women are often uninformed of their right under the law, or they cannot afford the services. Abortion services are often not well distributed throughout the country, they are insufficient to meet the demand, or they are of poor quality.
Sound familiar? Women cannot afford services? Abortion services are not well distributed throughout the country? The United States is quickly going down a dangerous path that leads to unsafe abortions, far more than those seen in Gosnell’s clinic. In the United States and in other countries, women must have the right to choose, and the right to a safe, legal, affordable abortion. That should be the discussion around the Kermit Gosnell case. That should be why people are outraged.
Apr 16, 2013
The rising cases of premature death among women have been blamed on the dearth of screening equipment and the poor attitude to health care. Erelu Fayemi, Ekiti’s first lady, asserted in Ado- Ekiti during free screening for breast and cervical cancer, blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and AIDS and other diseases common among women.
At the occasion to mark the 2013 International Women’s Day, Erelu Fayemi said superstitious beliefs as well as the patronage of quacks and faith- based healing centres are the major causes of sudden death among women. She said women, including educated ones, seldom go for screening for hypertension, cervical and breast cancer, diabetes and other diseases that are common among women. Erelu Fayemi said: “I was alarmed when in a large gathering of women, I could barely find two persons that had gone for pap smear; we do not go for regular check up. When you see someone complaining of constant malaria for more than three months, then it could be a symptom of a debilitating disease that may lead to sudden death. It is common to find people blaming such deaths on some supernatural powers or enemies.”
She urged women to go for medical check-up regularly in standard health centres, which is what can aid early detection of any illness or disease which would otherwise have become complicated and maybe lead to death.
Apr 16, 2013
Maternal mortality estimates in the North East zone are very high compared to those of the South West, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals(SSAP-MDGs), Dr Precious Gbeneol, has said.
Gbeneol stated that apart from other hiccups, campaigns against maternal death among rural dwellers have yielded less result.
The SSAP – MDGs disclosed this at a workshop organized for the validation of reports from the MDGs Acceleration framework (MAF) technical session at the weekend in Abuja. Gbeneol said: “As you well know, there is a sign? Can’t urban-rural divide in estimates, with rural areas doing considerably worse.
“Again as you know, there is signi? Cant regional variation: maternal mortality estimates in the North East zone.”
Gbenelo, represented by the Director MDGs, Mr. Babalola Lateef, noted that government is concerned about incidences of women dying during pregnancy and child delivery.
She restated her commitment to partnership with stakeholders in the health sector to fight the problem.
Apr 3, 2013
Efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality by government have been set in motion through a series of town hall meetings. The first of its series is scheduled to hold very soon.
The meetings are being planned to enlighten citizens, especially pregnant women at the grassroots, about the basic facilities provided by government to them before and after child birth.
According to a statement by government, through the maternal and child mortality reduction initiative by it last year, it had mapped out strategies to ensure that it reduces the scourge to the barest minimum.
The statement added that personnel were being trained on administering drugs to address bleeding during pregnancy, which is a bane of high maternal mortality in the grass roots.
Ambassadors to lead the crusade against maternal and child mortality have been chosen by government even as the statement assured that government would engage community dwellers on preventive measures.
The above step seems a proactive way of confronting the debilitating issue of maternal and child mortality issue in the country.
Apr 1, 2013
- Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
- Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
- Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?
Mar 23, 2013
If you haven’t heard already, the law makers in North Dakota are pushing for another anti-choice bill. This time it’s an abortion ban on the basis of personhood. If passed, this would effectively give fertilized eggs all the rights of U.S. citizens. And it would cut off abortion care completely. Beyond abortion this bill would also charge doctors who damage embryos in any way with criminal negligence. It also prevents doctors from being able to perform in vitro fertilizations. Now you might be thinking an unconstitutional bill like this couldn’t possibly get passed by Senate or the House, but it did. Shockingly, it passed the House by a vote of 57-35 and it’s currently making its way to the Governor’s desk.
The state’s recent six-week abortion ban is already in direct violation of Roe v. Wade and will bring about several legal costs for taxpayers when challenged. This next measure of a total abortion ban will surely cause North Dakota to face the same results, costing the state more than they bargained for. And how will they pay for these litigations?
During a recent debate between Senator Margaret Sitte and Dr. Kristen Cain about the abortion restrictions and pending abortion ban, Senator Sitte accidentally lets something slip. When asked if these bills will cost taxpayers possibly millions, Senator Sitte unintentionally admits that there are outside interests behind the unconstitutional abortion bans who are willing to spend those millions to make sure people in North Dakota will not have access to reproductive healthcare and rights. Watch as Senator Sitte tries to lie her way out of it.
This abortion ban won’t be a law until Governor Jack Darlymple of North Dakota signs it, and it’s unclear if he will or won’t.
To contact Governor Jack Darlymple:
Office of Governor
State of North Dakota
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0100
Mar 22, 2013
Two personhood bills — Senate Bill 2303 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009 — have already passed the Senate, and the GOP-controlled House is expected to take them upsometime this week. But if North Dakota successfully enacts a total abortion ban, there will be serious consequences for the state that extend even beyond women’s reproductive freedom. Here are five ways the state will suffer under personhood:
1. There will be fewer doctors in the state available to provide medical care. In a historic move for the North Dakota Medical Association, the nonpartisan organization has come out againstpersonhood. The group points out that the anti-abortion measures go too far to “interfere with the physician practice,” and they suspect it will be harder to find qualified medical professionals willing to practice in North Dakota if the state imposes so many complicated restrictions on doctors. Some doctors have already testified before state lawmakersto say they will leave North Dakota if the abortion bans pass.
2. Maternal health care will be compromised. Doctors could becharged with criminal negligence if anything happens to an embryo — which could prevent them from making quick decisions that could help save women’s lives. The tragic case of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died after being denied an abortion in a Catholic hospital because her doctors were reluctant to provide care that could get them in trouble with the law, highlights the serious consequences of state lawmakers coming between a woman and her doctor.
3. Women could be forced to resort to illegal abortion procedures.Under a personhood law, women will end up resorting to dangerous “backroom” abortions, one former pediatrician warned North Dakota lawmakers last week. That Fargo-area doctor did his medical training before Roe v. Wade, when women were dying of bacterial infections after botched abortion procedures — and he warns that the passage of the proposed personhood measures would pull North Dakota back into “the stone age of medicine.” There’s evidence to back up that claim. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the legality of abortion hasabsolutely no correlation to abortion rates around the world, because women will continue to seek to terminate pregnancies regardless of the law.
4. Women won’t be able to use in vitro fertilization to try to have a family. Ironically, in addition to compromising medical procedures for the women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, personhood measures also place restrictions on the women who are trying to get pregnant. “These bills will stop the practice of in vitro fertilization in this state,” Dr. Stephanie Dahl, an obstetrician-gynecologist and reproductive medicine specialist in Fargo, explained to lawmakers. Doctors wouldn’t be able to perform any procedure that carries the risk of damaging some embryos, so women would be forced to travel to South Dakota or Minnesota for in vitro treatment, a six-week process that requires multiple sonograms and up to 12 visits to the doctor.
5. The state will become embroiled in expensive lawsuits. North Dakota’s six-week abortion ban already runs afoul of Roe v. Wade, and will certainly invite several costly legal challenges. A total abortion ban would lead to similar consequences. Two personhood bills were recentlystruck down in Oklahoma, suggesting that the courts won’t take kindly to North Dakota’s push to restrict women’s constitutional rights, either. Nevertheless, even the self-proclaimed “fiscally conservative” Republicans in the state are willing to defend their abortion bans on the state’s dime.
Mar 20, 2013
Kansas House members on Tuesday gave first-round approval to sweeping new restrictions on abortion after refusing to add exceptions that would allow victims of incest or rape — including children who are raped — to get late-term abortions.
Mar 20, 2013
“To be clear, reproductive justice is not a label—it’s a mission. It describes our collective vision: a world where all people have the social, political, and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about gender, bodies, sexuality, reproduction, and families for themselves and their communities. And it provides an inclusive, intersectional framework for bringing that dream into being. Reproductive justice is visionary, it’s complex, it doesn’t fit neatly on a bumper sticker, and it has a lot to teach us about how to be successful in a changed and changing world.”
— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice
Mar 15, 2013
BREAKING: North Dakota legislature passes nation’s most restrictive abortion law, bans all abortions after 6 weeks
Mar 4, 2013
While browsing through my twitter page I came across an ad directed at teen mothers in NYC. While seeing this ad disgusted me; I was a little relieved that I had not seen it person in my city, Brooklyn. Not only is this ad extremely offensive (the Post calls it a “Tad” offensive), it has racist, classist and sexist undertones. The ad I saw featured a beautiful brown girl with big brown eyes and read “Honestly Mom… chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” It also quoted a statistic that 90% of teen parents do not marry each other. While this statistic can be shocking to most it also seems to continue to push the agenda of marriage and “nuclear” families among young people, something I wish this country would have let go of in the 1976 Reagan “Welfare Queen” era.
After further research, I discovered that this ad was part of a larger campaign created by the NYC Human Resources Administration. For an agency with the word “resources” in its name, it appears that they do not know how to use them very well. Especially considering the fact that the United States is preparing to undergo sequestration and they thought it wise to use government funding to disseminate disturbing, stigmatizing and shameful ads about teen mothers. Also considering the fact they are a “Human Resources” agency, I would think funds would be better allocated to real initiatives to help young mothers, such as creating real job opportunities for young moms and working with other agencies and organizations to provide childcare so that young women could support their families. It is resourceful to create life-size ads that basically say “Mom you suck for having me.”
While NYC has taken steps to improve the lives of young parents, like closing Pregnancy Schools after advocates insisted these institutions were in violation of Title IX, this initiative seems backwards. This is the same city responsible for the Living for the Young Family through Education program which provides free childcare around the city to help teen parents graduate from high school. In addition to these efforts, the NYC Department of Education mandated Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools in 2011 to decrease the rate of teen pregnancies, HIV and STIs among young people. However, many of the youth that I work with in Brooklyn still report receiving little to no sex education even after the mandate was placed into effect. Having grown up in Brooklyn my entire life and having never received formal sexual education, I know they are telling the truth.
So if you think scare tactics and shameful ads are going to work, think again. In fact it is just making the situation worse. I’m mostly concerned with who the agency talked to before creating these controversial ads. It definitely was not teen parents!! I wonder how agencies feel they can solve a problem without consulting the people on the ground and the young people with the “situated knowledge.” As a millennial of color, research shows that although my peers would like to decrease the rate of teen pregnancies, they also feel that society has a responsibility to provide young parents with the necessary resources and opportunities to lead healthy lives.
Lastly, I think these ads should be taken down, and the funding for this so-called Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Initiative should be redirected to organizations working to provide real comprehensive sexual education, access to contraception, teen parenting programs, affordable childcare and job opportunities for young people. Education, inclusion and empowerment is how we solve real issues not by attaching stigma to young people, especially young women!
Mar 3, 2013
SEE COMPLETE IMAGE:
Mar 3, 2013
The Arkansas Legislature has approved the earliest abortion ban in the nation.
And it’s now up to Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to decide what to do next. If he vetoes the bill, his veto could be overridden by a simple majority in the Republican Legislature as it was earlier Thursday on a similar 20-week abortion ban bill.
The Arkansas Senate gave final approval Thursday morning to the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, which would ban abortions at 12 weeks into pregnancy if a heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for cases of rape or incest, to save the life of the mother or for a lethal fetal condition. The bill now goes directly to Beebe.
Through “fetal pain” laws, other states have begun approving abortion bans at around 20 weeks into pregnancy — such a ban became law in Arkansas with the veto override early Thursday — but this bill would go further, turning Arkansas into the only state to ban abortions that early in a pregnancy.
Abortion rights groups immediately urged Beebe to reject the bill. “This extreme legislation would insert politics into women’s personal medical decisions, and we urge Gov. Beebe to veto it immediately,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.
“Lawmakers in Arkansas are placing women’s lives on the line by passing the most severe ban on access to safe, legal medical care this country has seen in recent years,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
In vetoing the 20-week ban on Tuesday, Beebe said the bill violated Supreme Court precedent that establishes states cannot limit abortions before viability. That was one of 10 “fetal pain” laws that have been enacted in 10 states, based on the assertion that the fetus can experience pain after 20 weeks. Cases have been filed against such laws in Arizona and Georgia.
Mar 1, 2013
I have had an abortion. Most people who know me know that. I’m very open about it and fervently pro-choice. I had to start my piece like this, so you’ll understand where I’m coming from. I’m not writing this post out of malice, but for educational purposes. I haven’t been able to find any other pieces on this subject, so maybe I’m wrong. If I am I would appreciate any readers to provide me with some cold hard medical facts. Okay?
Before my abortion I had a transvaginal ultrasound. This was in mid-2011, so before TVUs got famous. When I saw the device I was wary and my reaction was something along the lines of “woah what’s that? Do I have to have that because I don’t want it.” The woman said yes it was necessary for the procedure and she’s sorry. She didn’t say it was required by law or whatever, but that it was necessary. She didn’t show me the ultrasound or talk about it or even offer to. The whole thing was over in about two minutes. I had a surgical abortion at nine weeks and I was assured this was needed for my procedure.
Then eventually the TVU law proposals starting arriving and I was incredibly confused and hurt. Had something wrong been done to me? By that clinic? That clinic that saved my future? That clinic I was eternally grateful to? That clinic that advertises “comprehensive reproductive services in a supportive, nonjudgmental, knowledge-based environment?” That clinic that boasts that it has “the most experienced clinic staff in the region?” That clinic which is part of the National Abortion Federation?
All of these activists were and still are posting images of ultrasound wands with captions like “up mine? Up yours?” and talking about TVUs being a violation and comparing them to rape. This was/is really upsetting to me. I felt weirdly betrayed by my savior clinic. So I called them. I just briefly asked why they do TVUs and the clinic worker said because it was needed for the procedure. I felt pretty satisfied with that answer.
Of course I think this mandatory TVU legislation is terrible and wrong. It’s unethical for legislators with no medical expertise to be putting this into law. Since when are bills about medical procedure? Those are two entirely different fields. Where are the laws going into detail about thermometer or blood drawing procedure? Why is abortion any different? Why would a bill by those with no medical degree be dictating what practitioners do? Also, are states competing for the most ridiculous TVU bill? Now apparently there are bills requiring two TVUs.
Honestly I have not take part in this debate because it made me uncomfortable. The anti-choice side was clearly wrong, but for the first time I also felt the pro-choice side was wrong. They weren’t being outraged about the right things. They weren’t being outraged about why specifically this legislation was terrible instead they were just proclaiming TVUs were terrible. I don’t know why I’m talking in past tense. This is still going on. So, pro-choice activists are proclaiming that what is in some clinics vital to abortion is a violation and basically a desecration of human rights. They’re starting to sound like the anti-choicers to me. I mean what if legislators start listening? What if they start believing TVUs are a violation and try to ban them? What does that mean for the clinics that use them? Will abortion access become more difficult and expensive? Are these pro-choicers hurting the movement?
I’m working on expanding my knowledge. Nowhere on prochoice.org does it say TVUs are “medically unnecessary” like so many pro-choicers are claiming. This week I asked my abortion clinic for more in depth reasoning into their usage of TVUs. This was their response:
“There is no mandated law in TN that requires a vaginal ultrasound although they are trying to pass a law currently to require an ultrasound 24 – 72 hours before an abortion with the sound of a heart beat, verbal description of the u/s picture and a copy of the picture given to the patient. Here at [name removed] we routinely perform a vaginal ultrasound for patients who may be under 12 weeks and an abdominal ultrasound for patient who may be over 12 weeks. Because a patient can have missed a period and not be pregnant or can have a period and be pregnant, (it is possible to have periods all the way up until delivery) until we do an ultrasound we do not know for sure her gestational age. An accurate gestational age supports providing the best possible care for our patients. We do not however show her a picture, hear a heartbeat (which we don’t have the equipment for) or describe the u/s to the patient unless she requests it.”
Basically I’m demanding more education on this issue for everyone. Because honestly I’m offended that my supposed allies are telling me I was violated. It almost feels like they’re belittling rape. Why is it so difficult to find resources on this? Why can’t I find other articles with this viewpoint? Is it the abortion stigma? Are women not talking about it because they don’t feel comfortable talking about their abortion? Are abortion providers not coming forward so that they don’t disclose their profession and put themselves at risk? I’m concerned and I demand more information.
Feb 27, 2013
Feb 27, 2013
Feb 27, 2013
This is a post by a fellow blogger called BrashBlackNonBeliever. These are her words and feelings about how “pro-life” advocates use PoC, specifically Black women and children, to further their agenda. Some of it will be edited for language censorship.
“I am beyond f****** SICK of these so-called “pro-life” advocates using Black women and children to further their agenda.
Those conservative assholes don’t give a F*** about us when we’re walking this earth, but I’m supposed to believe they give a f*** about Black babies? I’m supposed to believe these motherfuckers actually care about pregnant Black women?!
They don’t give a f*** about Black families in the hood, struggling to live.
They don’t give a f*** about the single Black mothers doing everything they can for their kids.
They really don’t give a f*** about the Black parents on welfare.
No, to them, we’re nothing but welfare queens and wh**** who never should have spread their legs.
Our children are nothing but drug dealers, thugs, or future drug addicts and prostitutes who need to be put down like dogs.
That is, until one of us gets pregnant and they need a new face for their “pro-life” campaign.
Then our babies are “precious children.”
Then they pretend to be worried about the future of the Black race.
Only then do we need to protect ourselves against “extinction” by never having abortions.
Only then do they care oh so much about racism and they seek to warn us about how racist Planned Parenthood and abortions are.
Well I, for one, am completely fed up with their BS. I can see right through them. They don’t give a f*** about Black people and they never have.
Stop using Black bodies as props and pawns.”
Feb 27, 2013
“When I introduce the concept of reproductive justice to new audiences, at lectures or workshops, I always frame it in the same way. I use a really simple exercise, where I draw a stick figure on a piece of butcher paper, or an easel, or a chalkboard. Then I ask the question: “What things in this person’s life will impact their ability to create the family they want to create?” Usually it takes a few minutes for the audience to get going, but within five or ten minutes the result is a stick figure with many, many issues written in bubbles around them. Things like religion, money, environment, language, race, gender, sexuality, laws, incarceration end up surrounding the person.
This activity is a pretty decent illustration of my definition of reproductive justice—it’s working to build a world where everyone has what they need to create the family they want to create. And that work requires incorporating and taking into account all of those items written in bubbles on the diagram, as well as many we probably leave out. Almost always this exercise results in “ah ha” moments, and it’s had a striking universality—from using it with college students to using it in Latina immigrant communities on the border. Reproductive justice is an easier concept to explain in ten minutes than in a two-word soundbite, like pro-choice, but that additional context also allows for so many more of the issues and challenges or our every day lives to be made visible and explicitly included in our work.”
Feb 19, 2013
(See link: http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/42021609348/all-states-except-oregon-now-limit-abortion-access)
The above graph lists all the states and their abortion restrictions. Although, Roe v. Wade gives people the right to abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey gave states the right to limit access to abortion without posing an “undue burden.” Even though the World Health Organization has already declared that a restriction or limitation of safe, legal, and accessible abortion leads to a decrease in health for people, specifically women (although we all have the understanding that it’s not just women who are affected by this).
Some states have less than a handful of clinics that can even provide these services and some states simply have unreasonable restrictions that prevent people from getting the healthcare they need. This forces people to travel, sometimes out of their means, to get an abortion. Others seek more dangerous options. Until this changes, there are some things that are helping people right now.
There is a particular page that I have been supporting on my own site (ST*U, Pro-Life) called the Abortion Assistance Blog. This is how it describes itself:
A collection of abortion funds, individuals willing to provide transportation and/or lodging before and after your appointment, and other resources.
This blog is intended to be a resource for people of all genders, races, sexualities, and abilities. If you are offering help, but not willing to help someone based on one of those categories, please say so. Everyone deserves to be safe and supported.
This blog has several links, providing help and information. It lets readers know how they can help or where they can find help. Many people go on the blog leaving contact information or simply letting others know that they could provide transportation, lodging, or monetary support. I recommend to everyone to check it out and share.
It’s just not enough to just say that we support reproductive/sexual health care and rights anymore. It never has been.
Feb 10, 2013
Feb 10, 2013
(oldie but goody)
Feb 7, 2013
Redefining Philanthropy: Liberating African Infants from Mortality with the Children’s Prize Million Dollar Initiative
The multi-dimensional effect of lack of development and poverty on Africa and Africans engulfs not only the adult in terms of economic depravity, or the younger generation which makes the most of the African population, through faded possibilities of realizing their life ambitions, but also very importantly and under-discussed is the prevalence of these effects on young infants through child mortality.
Infant mortality around the world is indeed a cause for concern, but more relevantly is the preventable level of infant mortality in sub-Saharan Africa which boasts of about half of the global child mortality rate estimated at 6.9 million children under five years in 2011 alone.
However, in light of these concerns, and an attempt to ensure a continuous generation on future leaders in the African continent and beyond, the Children’s Prize under the leadership of Dr. Ted Caplow has is initiating a different way to give beyond the conventional mode of philanthropy and funding the best solutions to Child Mortality through a million dollar fund.
Children’s Prize, committed to saving lives of Children under five (5) years and has put forward a competitive platform for the submission of ideas, utilizing the internet to facilitate a direct interface between grant applicants and the Children’s Prize million dollar fund, aimed at reducing to the barest minimum, the rate of child mortality. An animation of the idea behind the prize is obtainable here while the official Press Release from the organization is attached herewith.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
$1 million online prize may save hundreds of lives
Miami, FL, January 14, 2013 – Social entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Ted Caplow has created the Children’s Prize in an attempt to save as many children’s lives as possible for one million dollars. The Children’s Prize is an Internet based contest open to people or organizations from any corner of the globe.
The entire application process can be completed online. Applicants to the prize must propose plans to save the lives of children who would otherwise die before the age of five. The rules are extremely simple: the winner will present a proposal that balances credibility with the greatest number of lives saved, and will be awarded one million dollars to execute their vision. The lives to be saved must be in immediate danger, and the names of the beneficiaries must be provided to the donor over the course of the winning project. The timeline and budget details are up to the applicant.
“The death of a child is a uniquely powerful and universal tragedy,” says Dr. Caplow, a recent father of triplets, “and the Children’s Prize is a no-holds-barred experiment to harness new opportunities in philanthropy created by the communications age.”
In 2011, almost seven million children around the world died from preventable causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, or neonatal infection before their fifth birthday. Applicants to the Prize can include medical clinics, NGO’s, municipalities, schools, scientists, doctors, community leaders, and private citizens. Emerging online tools for social connectivity and the exchange of visual media will play a critical role in selecting finalists and verifying results.
“Today’s social fabric is no longer bounded by geography or the pace of the postal system, and our goal is to pioneer a model that empowers individual donors to specify and control their objectives, and then invite the world to come to them with tailored proposals.” says Dr. Caplow.
Unlike conventional, institutionalized charity, the Children’s Prize attempts to use the Internet to act independently across great distances.
The Children’s Prize was launched January 14, 2013 and Entry Forms will continue being accepted until May 1, 2013. To date proposals have been received from countries in sub-Saharan
Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and North America. Project ideas range from bed nets to prevent malaria carried by mosquitoes to water tanks for safe drinking water to expanding the capacity of health facilities.
The entry form and contest rules, together with video interviews with Dr. Caplow and further information on the prize, can be found on our website at www.childrensprize.org.
Aleyda K. Mejia
The Children’s Prize
Feb 3, 2013
It’s sad when you hear saying like the title of my article. You may even feel incensed, outraged that a young woman like me would write that. But what if I showed you, what if I proved to you that it’s true.
The Human Development Report in 1995 made that statement after a research done that showed that out of the 1.3 million people living in poverty, 70% of that population comprised of women. Talk about cornering the market on being poor. Not something one should aspire to, not that they did.
I can believe that poverty bears the face of a woman. A walk through the streets of Lagos would more than answer anyone’s question about who’s more in need, men or women. Maybe it is the fact that women have the tendency of making you feel pity and therefore, make you give more, especially when they have got their babies in hand. Or could it be that when we see them on the streets, we imagine that its our mother, sister, aunt or niece. The real ones in need are too poor to afford even basic amenities such as food and water, much less a roof over their heads for the night. Some, as the culture would dictate, have nowhere to go after they had been kicked out of their homes by husbands or relatives tired of supporting them. Whatever the reason, women in this state are a poor sight to behold.
Women comprise two-thirds of the world’s illiterate. Sad, considering that studies have shown that in households where the mother is educated and enlightened, the children tend to be more successful and challenged to succeed and improve their communities. Women are often the first educators’ children have, why not impact the growth and development of that child by making sure his first teacher is enlightened and empowered?
In short, denying women and girls education slows growth and development of the society, especially in societies where culture dictates the ignorance of the women-folk that benefits male ego and makes women subservient.
Societies that struggles against the development of women fail to see the long term impact that educating women would have on their economy. Promoting the self worth of young girls is the basis of individual initiative not only in the family, but community as well.
It is definitely passed time that statements like the title of this article should be proved correct. Why do women have to be poorer than men? We work longer, we work harder and yet, we are literally at the bottom of the barrel. It’s time to help each other help ourselves.
Feb 1, 2013
Roe v. Wade guaranteed abortion as a legal right across the country. A separate decision two decades later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, guaranteed states’ rights to limit access to abortion, so long as it did not pose an “undue burden” on the woman.
States have, over the past four decades, made no short use of that latter right. Only one state, Oregon, has not layered additional restrictions on top of the Roe decision. At the other end of the spectrum is Oklahoma: With 22 abortion restrictions, it has more than any other state. The chart below, courtesy of Remapping the Debate, has the full list. You can also gohere for an interactive version of the graphic, which will let you look at what type of restrictions each state has set.
Jan 26, 2013
It’s the New Year and as 2013 begins in most parts of the world, loved ones and people you are in anyway close to express their wishes for you in diverse ways. One popular way of expressing wishes to others for the New Year is through greetings cards and I did receive quite a good number of them this year. Unlike in the past years, I decided to make a careful study of the messages on these greetings cards. ‘This Guy is crazy!’, is the thought that might be lingering in your mind. Just stay with me so that I can share my surprising discovery.
Though written in different styles and strongly influenced by the nature of my relationship with the sender of the greetings card, there is a wish that was omnipresent in all the messages: Wishes of Good Health. The result of this crazy study revealed to me how much Cameroonians care about their health.
The health of the average Cameroonian, like that of any normal human being in the world, is very important to him/her. What would vary might be the approach to ensuring that they stay healthy and maintain an equilibrium that is necessary for them to live a life worth living. Important as being healthy might be to Cameroonians, they are not unaware of the barriers to staying healthy. Talking about barriers to staying healthy in Cameroon, if you ask any Cameroon what the greatest barrier to staying healthy is, you would likely hear him/her answer ‘ACCESS’.
While it is clear from all indications that access to health is a stumbling block to Cameroonian’s staying healthy, it should be noted that even where these health facilities are available, users complain bitterly of the quality of the services rendered. Thus, it is common place to see a health practitioner sarcastically questioning a teenage girl about the reason for her pregnancy and making fun of her pregnancy by using very insulting and violent language. Worst still, it is common place to get a health practitioner who openly discusses results of the medical test of his/her patients without any sense of guilt or fear. The judgemental nature and lack of confidentiality in Cameroon’s health services is so widespread and across all spheres of society that a government minister recently declared that a journalist who had been tortured to death while in detention had died of HIV/AIDS.
With judgemental attitudes like these from health professionals and lack of confidentiality, no wonder an ever increasing number of pregnant teenagers refuse to go for prenatal checkups. To stay clear of insults and other traumatising language and behaviours, they thus decide to stay at home with the risks that this carries.
It is high time the quality of health services in existing health facilities be improved so that patients,especially young persons, can have the best possible experience and not be afraid, for instance, to get an HIV test because they are not sure the results will remain between them and the health professionals.
The quality of health services, though often ignored, is an important factor in reinforcing the access of young people in particular and society at large to health facilities and should be considered as such by policy makers and health professionals. The availability of health facilities that have little or no consideration for the quality of the services offered creates more problems than it solves.
Jan 17, 2013
This election, I was proud to work with many young people to engage our communities and campuses in the issues that impact us. One issue that engaged many young women in Ohio this election was access to healthcare, especially pregnancy related services, such as pre and post-natal care, maternity care, and abortion care. 65% of 18-24 year olds believe abortion should be legal all or most of the time, which is higher than any other age group. I am lucky to have employer-funded health insurance that allows me to access a full range of preventive services, including all pregnancy related services.
Sadly, not all women – even women with insurance – have access to these services. Current law unfairly limits insurance coverage for abortion for women with government-funded insurance. This is because federal dollars are withheld from covering a woman’s abortion except in limited circumstance.
It seems unfair to withhold insurance coverage or try to influence a woman’s decisions about whether to end a pregnancy just because of the type of insurance she has. These are decisions best made by a woman, her family, faith and doctor, not politicians.
These laws also put the lives of women at risk. When a woman is pregnant, it is important that she has access to safe medical care. Providing insurance coverage insures she will be able to see a licensed, quality health care provider.
Even if we don’t personally agree with abortion, it is unfair to restrict insurance coverage, or try to influence a woman’s decision about whether to end a pregnancy, just because she has government-funded health insurance.
I care about women in Ohio, which is why I supported Barack Obama and Sherrod Brown. Both pledged that they would work to ensure all women have access to essential reproductive health care services.
Women and youth voters played a huge impact in Obama’s win this year. Not only did young people, 18-24, turn out for the president in 2008, they continued to turn out for him as they aged, now in the 25-29 year age bracket. This demonstrates how important issues such as insurance coverage for abortion are to this generation.
Now my generational must hold Obama accountable to his commitments. That includes urging President Obama to submit a budget to Congress without unfair restrictions on coverage for abortion care. Obama Administration, take note that Ohio women will be watching to see if you live up to your commitments to women’s healthcare.
Jan 13, 2013
Click on the link to see the images in full!