Category > Pregnancy and Parenting
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Mar 4, 2014
For the month of February, besides attending a Jack and Jill health fair in Fort. Lauderdale, I began my ‘Contraception Awareness Campaign.’ This project is an endeavor that will last for about 8 weeks at my attempt to get 200 people on my campus to learn something new about contraception. My goal is to peer educate at least 25 people every week while I table at my college. (I will provide information like how to get contraception, the proper way to store them, comparative analysis between brands including breaking myths, as well as educating the importance of contraception in preventing pregnancy). In my first week, there were approximately 40-80 people in attendance and we collected 40 sign ups. The focus was ‘How well do you know your STI’s?’ Although many people came up and played our game, it took an engineering major to win the $25 It’s sugar gift card give-away! Also around Valentine’s Day, I took part in hosting a love Workshop on my campus in order to educate the students on healthy relationships and contraception use. My passion for educating my peers on this controversial topic comes from recognizing the important role contraceptives play in people’s futures. As an incredible philosopher once said “Neglect of an effective birth control policy is a never-failing source of poverty which, in turn, is the parent of revolution and crime.” —ARISTOTLE, Politics.
Feb 28, 2014
Feb 28, 2014
In our country Nepal, various sociocultural and religious aspects do not allow the consumption of certain food items during pregnancy. theses food taboos are,
- restriction of fish during pregnancy.
- restriction of fruits mainly jack fruit.
- pregnant women should eat less food.
food taboos are highly practiced in village communities than towns and country have more than 70% villages.It has only negative consequences in pregnant women health.the physiological state of pregnant women is completely different from normal women. She requires more nutritive food and extra care during the period. Fish and fruits are the vital source of vitamins like vitamin A, B-complex, vitamin C. less food consumption may leads to the malnutrition of mother and child, which causes low birth weight of baby. Anemia,vitamin deficiency diseases,complication during labor which increases the mortality of infant and mother.it is hard to change the society habits but change is not impossible. we must challenge theses false nutritional knowledge.
Feb 18, 2014
by Jen Sorensen via Talking Points Memo and the ACLU
Feb 4, 2014
Recently fans and non fans of MTV’s Teen Mom 2 show found out that one of the cast members, Jenelle Evan’s, had an abortion. There were many mixed reactions ranging from support to anything but support and everything in between. I applaud Jenelle for being open and standing up for herself and her reproductive decisions. Jenelle maintains that she does not regret her abortion and feels it was the correct decision for her since she was in a ‘bad place’ when she was pregnant.
Jan 28, 2014
“And in my favorite recent example, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Jay-Z got on the Grammy stage last night and did what conservatives have been dying for someone to do for ages: they made marriage look fun, and sexy, and a source of mutual professional fulfillment. As Caitlin White wrote in her review of Beyoncé’s self-titled album: “She claims female pleasure as pure and grown, something dominant that can coexist with monogamy and marriage and her own status as an artist.” And that’s particularly true of the song Beyoncé and Jay-Z chose for their Grammys collaboration.”
via Think Progress
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
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.)
Dec 14, 2013
Between Instagram and Twitter and other various social networking sites, people never really take the time to start actual face-to-face conversations and get to know each other. You may know who they are on social media, but that doesn’t mean you know them in reality. People have secrets and skeletons in their closet that are unknown to the world unless you really take the time out to get to know them. The youth of today spend so much time with their eyes glued to their smart phones that they never actually get to know the people that they are involving themselves with intimately. They “fall in love” with what they see on the outside and are destroyed when they figure out that the person they’re so in love with is not who they thought them out to be.
Communication in a relationship is extremely important. Knowing about your partner’s sexual history and status can help clear out some of the skeletons in the closet before it’s too late.
Here are some tips on how to communicate effectively:
- Find the right time.
- Talk face-to-face.
- Do not attack.
- Be honest.
- Check your body language.
Don’t be afraid to start the conversation. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the better your can prepare and protect yourself. Step away from the smart phones and make the first move.
Stay Informed. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.
Dec 13, 2013
Recently On Scandal Lisa Kudrow played a politician who had ambitions of running for the presidential office.
Wanting to ensure she had a successful campaign she hired Olivia Pope to help her win the election. The only problem was her trusted and most loyal campaign manager, her sister, wasn’t completely sold on the new arrangement.
While the opposition was conducting their usual dirt digging to shame Kudrow’s character out of the race they uncovered that she had experienced a teenage pregnancy and that upon walking out of the maternity ward the child’s existence vanished.
As it comes to pass Kudrow’s character’s trusted assistant is her daughter that she had as a teen but no one knew-not even the “sister-daughter.”
During a heated debate in front of national television the Kudrow’s character confesses that she in fact had a child in her teens and that she no longer wishes to hide this truth. Listening on side stage is her sister daughter who does the math and can’t believe what she is hearing.
Kudrow explains that because of the shame a teenage pregnancy would bring upon the family her mother decided to move the family away, move back when the child was born, and would say the new baby was her baby and not the teens. Only thing was Kudrow had to agree to keep the truth buried and treat her daughter as her sister.
Sounds like something completely fake that would only exist in a fiction Hollywood show right? Wrong!
This story is all too common for many former, present, and future teen moms. In fact, this story line bares an eerie resemblance to Jack Nicholson’s story, yes that Jack Nicholson.
Nicholson was born to a teen mom but it was his grandmother that would raise Nicholson as her own son and have his biological mother take the role of his sister.
Nicholson isn’t the only celebrity that had this happen to him according the Starcasm:
“Nicholson’s not the only celebrity to have this happen: Bobby Darin found out his sister was his mother when he was 32 (he was thinking about entering politics, which compelled his real mother to tell him the truth before it became a scandal,) and Eric Clapton found out the same thing when he was nine.”
The shame and stigma against teenage mothers is so pervasive in society that families are willing to lie, break apart, and right off a family members existence to not allow the societal created shame and stigma sully the family’s name. Nicholson’s mother and grandmother both kept their secret even in death. Nicholson had to confirm with his mother’s sister that his mother was in fact his mother and not his sister.
Society’s false narrative of how destructive teenage pregnancy is only becomes true because society, families, and friends believe the false narrative and make it real by disowning pregnant and parenting teens.
Dec 7, 2013
This week I had the opportunity to conduct an educational training on pregnancy prevention for local high school students in my community. The teen summit had over 400 students in attendance. I co-facilitated the presentation with an educator from Planned Parenthood. I was extremely nervous at the first session while I presented. A million thoughts went through my head; were they listening, was I saying it right, did they understand, etc. This was my first experience at peer educating so I wanted to be perfect. There were three sessions in total. By the second session I felt more relaxed and comfortable. It was a great feeling to see the students interact and yearn for more information. I felt accomplished when a few students stayed after the presentation to ask more questions. This experience has shown me that peer education is something I’d like to continue doing.
Nov 29, 2013
Nov 1, 2013
I am happy to be part of the pool of facilitators who facilitated the very first National Adolescent Health Camp that was held at the Fontana Leisure Parks in Clark, Pampanga from October 22-25, 2013 and attended by 300 young adolescents from across the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. I am also honored to have worked with my fellow Y-PEER siblings in this project by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Youth Commission (NYC) and to mentor out-of-school youth delegates from Eastern Visayas who were awesome during the entire duration of the camp. It made me confident that more adolescents are becoming aware of the importance of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Adolescence is the period in life when an individual is no longer a child but not an adult as well. They are the person in transitional stage in life, living in critical time of rapid physical, mental, emotional, sexual, social and spiritual development. A time of transition that varies across individuals and groups, countries and cultures.
Globally, 1/5 or 1.2 billion of the world population are adolescents. However, 2/3 of the premature deaths and 1/3 of the disease burden in adults are associated with conditions or behavior that begins in youth. In the Philippines, adolescents comprise about 21.5 percent or almost 20 million of the 92 million Filipinos counted in the 2010 census conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) as cited by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). They contribute significantly to the labor force of the country. Considering that they constitute the most active group, they are the most vulnerable to communicable and non-communicable diseases owing to their risky behaviors. Furthermore, rate of teenage pregnancies have risen.
It is under this pretext that the Family Health Office of DOH in collaboration with the Department of Education (Dep-Ed), NYC, and Y-PEER Pilipinas conducted a basic training on adolescent peer education. As part of the learning process, an enhancement program was given to potential young leaders. Among the objectives of this camp are: a) Identify issues, gaps, and challenges on adolescent health and development at the local level; b) establish a pool of youth leaders on Adolescent Health and Development to address issues identified; c) develop standards of peer education on Adolescent Health and Development that will aid in developing the national framework on peer education; and d) develop one year local adolescent peer education plans to be implemented in their community/school.
At the start of our registration process, the participants were given name tags with number written at the back for an activity that was held later that afternoon. During the opening ceremonies which featured an ensemble of various traditional costumes from across the islands of the Philippines, the highlight of the said ceremony was the speech of Dr. Stephanie Sison from the Department of Health (DOH) in which she stressed the importance of the health camp to our young people and their importance to our country. They learned that engaging in risk behaviors such as early sexual encounter that may lead to unplanned pregnancy has a great impact on our lives especially on child and maternal health, education, and economic standing.
After the ceremony, participants were grouped according to the numbers behind our name tags for our first series of activities which was one of the facilitations I did in the duration of the camp. They had their getting to know in the form of a speed dating activity in which they met for the first time with their fellow participants from other regions. It provided them an opportunity to mingle in order that we can be friends and likewise for me to meet them. It also provided an opportunity to correct their stereotypes with other region like those from conflict areas in Mindanao. The second activity was body mapping in which I instructed them to draw a human body and wrote in the parts of the body their goals, achievements, positive/negative attitudes, their loved ones, and what others say about them among others. It’s a time where they get to know themselves better as they prepared themselves for the next days of activities. In our last activity which is called Agree or Disagree, young adolescents were able to know each other’s views and values on pressing issues among young people like acceptance of LGBT and people living with HIV, teen pregnancy, access to family planning services, and abortion among others. Yes, it gave them an opportunity to debate and argues on these issues but what prevailed at the end of the day is their mutual respect for each other’s views.
The next day during the plenary, Dr. Minerva “Mimi” Vinluan discussed the legal frameworks that serve as basis for DOH and other government agencies’ programs and projects on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). It gave us a solid foundation on where we stand as Peer Educators because there is a legal basis for everything that is being conducted in the training. Moreover, since most of them are not acquainted with these legal frameworks, it provided us an opportunity to be educated about these laws which they can invoke and apply in real life situations.
After the plenary, they enrolled into four different topics of discussion for the day: Understanding Adolescent and Puberty; Sex and Gender and Sexuality; Teenage Pregnancy; and HIV, AIDS, and STI. Their enrollment to these topics served as basis for their groupings in the sessions that followed. During our workshop, we let them compute the expenses that they will incur when they impregnated or got pregnant at a very young age with no financial security. They were shocked with the amount that they have computed – a staggering P180, 000 pesos more or less is the money that they have to pay for all expenses related to pregnancy (pre-natal check-ups, medicines, hospital bills, immunization, canned milk, baby diapers, newborn screening and other procedures. They have realized that it is not a big joke to get someone or become pregnant and they conclude that they have to be careful and be responsible with their actions related to practicing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
In the afternoon, four different topics for workshops were simultaneously held: Relationships; Gender Based Violence and Power Analysis; Youth Sexuality and Family Planning; and ASRH in Humanitarian Setting. Also, the Adult Session for our partners from DOH, Department of Education (Dep-Ed), National Youth Commission (NYC), and other government and non-government organizations was held in a separate venue within the Fontana Convention Center.
During the Thursday plenary, Maria May-i Fabros of Task Force Batang Ina provided an insightful discussion on Elements of RH, the 13 Sexual Rights, and Human Rights Lens that enshrined in various international treaties that the Philippines have signed and ratified. We appreciated the kind of approach that she had on these topics because she delivered it in a manner that is not too academic like classroom lectures, rather, she delivered it in an informal manner that we understood since she anchored it on her own personal experiences and journey as an advocate and as someone doing development work. After the plenary, we break into groups and we facilitators discussed Peer Education 101 that included: Roles and Responsibility of Peer Educator, Peer Education on ASRH, Peer Education Activities, and workshop on session planning in Preparation for our Practicum the next day. In the afternoon, the NYC conducted Peer Education 201 that stresses on leadership and accountability as Peer Educators after which, we break into regions for the young adolescents’ regional planning.
In the Practicum, the existing groupings were further subdivided into four smaller groups with each assigned topics to deliver. We were given 45 minutes at most to deliver a Peer Education session following the standards given to us by our facilitators. The first two groups conducted their sessions simultaneously while the remaining two groups served as the participants respectively of the first two. During their presentation, we observed on how they conducted their sessions such as facilitation and co-facilitation skills, quality of information presented, icebreakers conducted, and our management with our participants. After they presented our sessions, we were able to give them feedbacks and points to improve on their workshop sessions the next time they conduct one.
Overall, all of us enjoyed the experience while at the same time they learn from us facilitators and resource speakers as much as we facilitators learned from our young participants. We have formed lasting friendships among our fellow facilitators and delegates from Region VIII and the delegates from other regions as well. The dinners and regional sharing that we had every night has been memorable. As newly trained Peer Educators, much is expected from them. They may be still learning the ropes but I am very much confident that they can train new Peer Educators in Region VIII and I am here as their Kuya – Big Brother to help them.
Oct 31, 2013
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 24, 2013
Oct 7, 2013
(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)
How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.
Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.
Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Sep 25, 2013
With the rapid changes regarding EC restrictions over the past several months, advocates and health professionals have had to distinguish further what it means for EC to be OTC (“over-the-counter”). In previous years, most people would just use the term OTC (“over-the-counter”) to refer to the point that EC was available behind the pharmacy counter for those meeting the required age restrictions to have access to EC, without a prescription. But just what does the term OTC mean now since the FDA has approved the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be made available OTC for everyone of any age?
Well, I’m glad you should ask… OTC, as this point in time for EC, essentially means that as long as the local pharmacy (not necessarily the pharmacy counter) is opened, the Plan B One-Step EC pill option will be available “on the shelves” for anyone to purchase regardless of age. Most specifically and for example, this brand of EC is offered directly on the shelves in the feminine hygiene aisle by your favorite ribbed, flavored and tribal print condoms! The generic versions of the EC, such as Next Choice and My Way, are only available “behind the counter”, meaning that a pharmacy personnel will be the one to provide you with these options directly at the pharmacy counter upon request and providing that you meet the age requirement of being 17 years and older. As of the present time, if the pharmacy counter is closed, those not offered OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”), such as the Next Choice and My Way options, will not be accessible; this is a major difference between Plan B One-Step and the generic options. One should additionally note that the EC Pill Ella, is till only available with a prescription for those 17 years and older.
So what the exclusivity for just the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be sold OTC, well a wonderful document on the History of EC created by the Charleston County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Council puts it best in the “the FDA formally approved the application for Plan B One-Step from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and these other forms of EC will have to be submitted to the FDA for approval. Actavis Inc. markets a generic version of Plan B One-Step called Next Choice. Actavis will apply to the FDA for approval to sell Next Choice without restrictions, as will Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the manufacturer of Ella.” So short and sweet, according to the FDA, Teva Pharmaceuticals has been the only pharmaceutical company to submit their application to the FDA which provides sufficient research to prove that their EC product is safe and effective for young women of any age to use, and thus making that argument that it should be made available without age restrictions.
While the latest piece of legislation to allow the Plan B One-Step EC pill to be made available OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”) is fairly new as of June 20th, 2013, we are glad to see that many pharmacies are already carrying it on the shelves. Although there is much room to cheer, unfortunately, in most pharmacies the Plan B One-Step is being sold in locked boxes for security and loss prevention purposes; however, this does not change the fact that the Plan B One-Step EC pill is still referred to as OTC (a.k.a “on the shelves”). So let’s put this potential barrier (to some) in a favorable context, it is not unlike buying your favorite pair of pants at a trendy store, and having to have the security tag removed before leaving the store. We can even take this idea a step further and attempt to look on the bright side. Wouldn’t you much prefer to have the EC pill in its own individual lock box, as opposed to having it in a security lock rack of which you may have to call a staff person over “for assistance” to open the rack or either having to hear that annoying and blatantly obvious loud noise that some lock box racks make when trying to get your most durable razors, for example? In comparison, having to wait the extra 5 seconds to have the EC box removed from it’s individuals lock box at the general pharmacy check out counter, pales in comparison.
Let’s face it, while lock boxes may seem like another barrier to obtaining the Plan B One-Step EC pill, it is a great step forward to having EC readily available on the shelves (OTC) during pharmacy store (not necessarily the pharmacy counter) hours to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind! J #SCECOTC #reduceunplannedpregnancies.
For additional information on the legislation which approved Plan B One-Step for OTC sales without age restrictions, and for FAQs on which particular EC options are available OTC versus at the pharmacy counter, please visit the Not-2-Late and the official Plan B One-Step websites.
Sep 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 17, 2013
Its Interesting. The reasonings Teens give for wanting to have kids at such a young age. When I graduated high school, over half of the females i graduated with were pregnant, and sadly the one who fathered the child to be, was no longer in the picture. They’d say things like ” I thought it would keep him faithful”, “He wont leave me if we have a kid” or ” it will bring us closer as a couple”. Sadly they didn’t realize all the responsibility that comes with having a child. Now, they’re saddened when their friend are out having fun and they can’t because they have a child. Im not trying to say that kids aren’t fun, they are, when you’re a little bit more grown up. Boys that are still in high school aren’t anywhere near ready to settle down. They still have growing up to do on their own. Same goes for the girls. The girls think that it will just be like a doll. Thats one expensive doll! Diapers, food, Doctors visits, clothes, etc. Adds up fast. I dont have a kid of my own yet, but i will someday when Im ready. I just wish kids would stop bringing kids into this world when they can barely afford to take care of themselves. Mommy & Daddy aren’t going to pay for everything forever. Why not wait? Put on a condom, and save yourself. You can still have sex. Just put on a condom, and prevent STD s, and pregnancy. Its really not as complicated as kids make it seem. The whole reason I sign up to be a safe sight, is so that I can be the change i wish to see in the world. I want to help teens stop having kids, so that they can live their teen lives as normally as possible. When I found out about this, I was excited to be able to hand out condoms to high schools, as well as kids at my College, saying ” have a SAFE and fun weekend” as i handed each one out. I have become known as “the condom girl” on campus, and kids actually come up to me asking if I have any. Its awesome.
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 15, 2013
Always the mother should find a comfortable place and position to feed the baby. A sitting position with holding the baby comfortably is usually ideal. The mother may feed the baby about 8–12 times in 24 h as and when the baby feels hungry. She can offer one breast at a time for complete feeding, and she is required to maintain a healthy diet in order to maintain her health and also keep the baby healthy Breastfeeding the baby is one of the most special times in the mother’s life wherein a special bondage develops between the mother and the baby. The breast-milk provides complete nutrition required the baby during its early growth and also helps the baby to develop immunity against various infections. The reasons why breastfeeding is very important to the baby is the colostrum (a yellow, watery pr-milk) that is secreted from the breast for the first few days after delivery helps the baby’s digestive system grow and function efficiently, the protein and fat in breast milk are more easily available for the baby’s body. Breastfeeding is good for the mother also! It offers various advantages such as It is always available and at the right temperature and convenient to feed the baby he process results in the release of a hormone known as Oxycontin, which helps the uterus to contract and return to its normal size more quickly also women The risk of osteoporosis and some forms of cancer is low in women who breast feed. It may help the mother lose the weight faster, which is gained during pregnancy. It is advisable for mothers to always breast feed their baby.
Aug 14, 2013
New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.
This article originally appeared on Salon.com.
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.
But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.
Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)
“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”
Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.
Aug 14, 2013
North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.
Aug 1, 2013
Why the breast is important to men.
Breastfeeding protects babies
- Early breast milk – Known as liquid gold, colostrum (coh-LOSS-trum) is the yellow thick first milk from the breast that babies suck just after birth, produced during pregnancy. This milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold. (Visit How to know your baby is getting enough milk to see just how small your newborn’s tummy is!)
- Breast milk fights disease – The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique; baby formula’s cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk. In fact, among formula-fed babies, ear infections and diarrhea are more common. Formula-fed babies also have higher risks of:
- Necrotizing (nek-roh-TEYE-zi): Flesh eating bacteria
- enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-lyt-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinaltract in preterm infants.
- Lower respiratory infections
- Type 2 diabetes: when the body does not produce insulin
Mothers benefit from breastfeeding
- Life can be easier when you breastfeed – Breastfeeding may take a little more effort than formula feeding at first. But it can make life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. Plus, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. You do not have to buy, measure, and mix formula. And there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! You can satisfy your baby’s hunger right away when breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding can feel great – Physical contact is important to newborns. It can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers can benefit from this closeness, as well. Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time to bond. The skin-to-skin contact can boost the mother’s oxytocin (OKS-ee-TOH-suhn) levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps milk flow and can calm the mother. It also creates a bond between the mother and the baby.
- Breastfeeding can be good for the mother’s health, too – Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems in women:
Breastfeeding during an emergency
When an emergency occurs, breastfeeding can save lives:
- Breastfeeding protects babies from the risks of a contaminated water supply.
- Breastfeeding can help protect against respiratory illnesses and diarrhea. These diseases can be fatal in populations displaced by disaster.
- Breast milk is the right temperature for babies and helps to prevent hypothermia (when the body temperature drops too low).
- Breast milk is readily available without needing other supplies.
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
California’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 60 percent as a result of expanded sex education programs, according to a report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday.
The report –- which was based on data collected until 2011 — revealed that the California teen pregnancy rate reached a 20-year low that year. While in 1991, there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19, in 2011 this number decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens.
Teen pregnancy rates fell across all ethnic groups, according to the report. The Hispanic teen birth rate dropped from 73.6 in 2001 to 42.7 in 2011 –- although Hispanics continue to be the group with the highest teen birth rate. Teen pregnancy rates for African-Americans, Whites and Asian-Americans also decreased significantly.
Several factors contributed to the falling pregnancy rates, the department said in a press release. One factor was the state’s school sex education program, which law requires to be comprehensive and medically accurate. The report also credits community-based education programs that provide sexual health information to teens and their parents.
“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.
“California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”
As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
Jul 22, 2013
Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.
Jul 19, 2013
On the same day that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion omnibus bill into law, Republican legislators in the state introduced yet another anti-abortion measure, this time looking to ban abortions after 6 weeks. And while it seems very unlikely at this point that the bill will make it through the state’s legislative process by July 31, the end of the current special legislative session in Texas, the timing is still drawing a decent bit of attention.
There’s only one state in the U.S. with an abortion ban after 6 weeks: North Dakota. And that law is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. The 6-week bans, like the one proposed in Texas, rely upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat by a doctor. Arguing that a fetal heartbeat is “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the Texas bill, HB59, would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat exists before legally performing an abortion. Fetal heartbeats typically register at around 6 weeks, meaning that the bill would effectively make that the cut off for the procedure.
Jul 19, 2013
Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.
- Parents need to talk to their children about sex and relationships early.
- Schools need to teach comprehensive sex Ed.
- When asked a question about sex or relationships by a youth answer them and more importantly answer honestly.
- Stop pretending like kids and teens aren’t thinking or talking about sex.
Jul 19, 2013
Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.
- Parents need to talk to their children about sex and relationships early.
- Schools need to teach comprehensive sex Ed.
- When asked a question about sex or relationships by a youth answer them and more importantly answer honestly.
- Stop pretending like kids and teens aren’t thinking or talking about sex.
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 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 18, 2013
The Candies foundation has done a great job at repackaging anti-teenage pregnancy messages in a way that youth and celebrities alike pay attention to. However, it has greatly failed at addressing or highlighting the factors that lead to teenage pregnancy and how to avoid an unintended pregnancy.
If more anti-teenage pregnancy organizations addressed and amplified the factors that lead to teenage pregnancy their messaging would be less offensive to teenage families and more effective in reducing teenage pregnancy and STD/STI infections in youth.
Jun 16, 2013
Let me start off by wishing everyone (who has a dad), a very Happy Fathers’ Day. Now that my heteronormative wishes have gone through, let me get right to the point. Celebrating Mothers and Fathers on separate days is straight up offensive. Do mind the pun. Having specific days dedicated to either mothers or fathers assumes that all families conform to “traditional” and “heteronormative’ lifestyles and does not acknowledge the fact that there are many families who do belong to these strict structures. LGBT families are an example that may come directly to mind. Imagine how offended (and hurt) members of such a family would be on Mothers or Fathers’ Day, feeling left out and marginalized from society, not able to take part of all the festivities that people like to organize around such holidays. It’s enough to look at any magazine around said holidays for a member of an LGBT family to feel the amount of insensitivity thrown at him/her/them. But LGBT families are not the only ones who suffer on such holidays. A similar situation applies to single parents as well as parents raising orphans or adopted children. And the list goes on. Therefore, I believe Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day should be abolished and replaced by Parents’ Day, celebrating all parents around the world, no matter their background. Parenthood is not restricted to any age, relationship status, gender, sex, sexual expression, etc. In this age of political correctness, when will Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day be ruled insensitive?
PS: National Parents’ Day is celebrated in the US on the fourth Sunday of every July. Though the intention of its establishment in 1994 (during Clinton’s administration) was not to be politically correct, I think such a case must be made loud and clear.
Jun 14, 2013
In an attempt to lower teen pregnancy rates, Chicago has implemented a thought provoking ad campaign. All over the city people are encountering billboards picturing pregnant young men. While the images are powerful, I am uneasy about their message and effectiveness.
As seen above, the uniting message of these ads is, “Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are. Avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Use condoms. Or wait.” While I applaud the Chicago Department of Health for not promoting abstinence and safe sex practices, by imploring “use condoms” instead of “use protection” the message is a bit limited. Perhaps this campaign is solely targeted at males, in which condoms are the most effective form of protection. I know ads must cleverly summarize their message into a line or two, but this subject deserves a bit more expanding. Where’s the mention of how you must use condoms properly each time for them to work? Even just adding “every time” after “use condoms” would have gone a long way and perhaps subliminally started to engrain the consistency condom use requires. The ads lists the website www.beyoubehealthy.org which also only provides basic information on condoms, and no mention of other forms of birth control and sti-protection. A thorough, responsible education campaign should offer knowledge on all options.
I have always been a believer of the tenet that “scare tactics” do not work. Yes, they often provoke meaningful conversations, but their effectiveness has failed to be proven. Supporters claim similar ads resulted in a 10% drop in teen pregnancy in Milwaukee, however, it is difficult to isolate causality. I would love to see a campaign that sparks conversations about how to have safer sex without shaming teens in the process.
The Milwaukee campaign had nearly identical ads. I’m sure they were well-intentioned, but attached quite a bit of stigma to teen pregnancy in order to get their message across. Below, one of the ads claims that teen pregnancy is “disturbing”.
Attaching such charged words to teen pregnancy gives it a negative connotation, further shaming young parents or those debating what to do with their current pregnancy. In addition, while I acknowledge this trend is decreasing, some young adults still do choose to have children and we should not push those people to the fringes of society.
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 10, 2013
On Mondays, after spending my day working for and with young college sexual health and reproductive rights activists as the Manager of Campus Organizing at Advocates for Youth, I come home to cook dinner and text my sisters as we prepare for yet another drama filled episode of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. Yes, I enjoy my fair share of terrible yet entertaining reality TV shows like most Millennials and LHHA happens to be one of the train wrecks that I can’t turn away from!
Let me start by saying I’m well aware that there is much to be said about LHHA’s fictitious and at times demeaning portrayal of Black life. The women are constantly fighting each other and the men seem to have little to no respect for the women they claim to love (Oh Stevie J how I loathe you and your silly grin!)
However, much of the turmoil that exists on the show is clearly created to move the plot and keep the show’s millions of viewers watching and tweeting. My baby sister and I agree that the show can hardly be considered “reality” or an accurate depiction of all Hip Hop artists, Black people, and our love lives. However, my interest was further sparked in the show when one of the main cast members, Rasheeda, told her husband she was pregnant with their second child. When the words hesitantly came out of her mouth, her husband of 13 years reacted with the same hesitation in acceptance of the news.
To give you a brief rundown, Rasheeda is a business owner and an Atlanta based Hip Hop artist who is signed to her husband’s label and management company. Though Rasheeda is excited about her pregnancy she’s not happy with her husband Kirk’s reaction to the news. Kirk voices his concerns about the bad timing of the pregnancy considering Rasheeda’s demanding schedule of upcoming performances, previous turmoil within their relationship, and the responsibility of caring for their pre-teen son. During the course of their discussion Kirk suggested that Rasheeda consider an abortion.
Did someone on television say the word abortion?! In one of the segments of the show Kirk even refers to the common procedure as “the A-B word” while talking with one of his friends about the situation.
Though I believe the decision to carry her pregnancy to term should ultimately be determined by Rasheeda (which she has clearly decided to do considering all of her recent baby bump pictures she’s posted to Instagram), everyday intimate partners around the world make family planning decisions together. While many people watching, like my sisters, were taken aback by the idea of a married couple possibly deciding to terminate an unplanned pregnancy, these types of conversations are not that uncommon.
At Advocates for Youth, I work with our program called the 1 in 3 Campaign. Did you know that 1 in 3 women in the United States will have an abortion in her lifetime? The 1 in 3 campaign is about ending the cultural stigma and shame women are made to feel around abortion through storytelling. By sharing stories, we empower others to end their silence about their experience as well as take away some of the very negative views we have about abortion and the women who choose to access them. After last week’s LHHA show aired, I was able to have a very interesting conversation with my 19 year old baby sister.
I found out that my youngest sister barely knows what an abortion even consists of, yet she had strong feelings against them. My sisters and I were raised in a loving and Baptist Christian family in Columbus, Ohio. Though I personally know more than one person I have shared a Sunday school class with who has accessed abortion care, it was not something we talked about outside of it being totally wrong. Until my sophomore year of college I had never even heard the words “reproductive justice”. Therefore I was not surprised when my baby sister said, “The only thing I know about abortions was through Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls!”. The abortion in this movie was a “back-alley” illegal abortion because the young girl did not have enough money to pay for a safe and legal abortion procedure.
Thankfully at the end of our conversation, directing her to 1in3campaign.org to read the countless stories of women who have accessed abortion care, and giving her some interesting statics about abortion, my baby sister said words that made me smile. “I have never actually thought about this. I feel like I should look up more information now.” Success!
Since our research on storytelling around abortion access played out to be completely true right in front of my eyes with my sister, I figure I can try to do it again! It’s another Monday, folks! That means a brand spanking new episode of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta! Since I have the coolest job in the world, I will be living tweeting with you at 8pm EST during this week’s episode of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta on VH1! So make sure you are following us @AmplifyTweets and tune in to see how the abortion conversation between Rasheeda and Kirk will continue to play out on the show! This should be fun, yes?!
See you all then!
A luta continua.
Jun 1, 2013
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 31, 2013
Whenever abortion is the topic of a conversation, especially when spoken of as a choice that someone wants to make for whatever reason that’s personally valid to them, there is always someone who pops up and says, “Adoption is an option too!” You know, as if that thought never occurred to anyone ever or it’s some kind of a magical word to rid one of an unwanted pregnancy. I witness it all the time on my STFU Pro-Lifers blog through the large amount of messages I receive on a daily basis, but yesterday a self-proclaimed pro-choicer shared that familiar, derailing insight you hear from anti-choicers. Granted, she had her own personal experiences with abortion and adoption. I made sure that she knew how appreciative and grateful I was to her for sharing those experiences with me. But it was something she said that really bugged me. There were a few sentences subtly expressing privilege and ignorance.
“It isn’t that hard to find someone to adopt a baby…”
She also mentioned the baby she gave up for adoption was blonde haired and blue eyed. It’s another discussion that makes it clear how important it is to be intersectional. She was speaking solely as a white woman in her experiences with adoption. She somehow gained an adoption lawyer at no personal cost to her. Adoptive parents quickly lined up for this white blue eyed baby. And the parents the girl chose to adopt her baby paid for her one year of school tuition. She was happy with her decision, and that’s great. I’m happy for her. Anyone would be.
But for the part about how “easy” it is to get someone to adopt a baby… well, I quickly and politely corrected her. She thanked me and then told me that she loves my blog. The matter was settled. It still bugs me though, and it’s not so much the person but the original line of thinking shared by so many people. You hear things like that all the time. Oh, you’re pregnant and don’t want to be? But there are tons of people out there who can’t have children! You should consider adoption!
I guess no one told them that less than 2% of our entire population actually adopts, and when they do adopt, the less than 2% tend to favor the able-bodied, young, emotionally sound, sibling-less, white baby. [source] And really? Agreeing to the idea of an adoption won’t make an unwanted pregnancy go poof! There are still nine, agonizing months of a condition that was never consented to. I mean, most pregnancies are already really difficult for those who do it willingly. There are tons of complications that arise during those three, brave trimesters. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic it is for those who desperately don’t want to be pregnant but were forced to remain so.
Don’t want to raise a child? Fine! Adoption is definitely an alternative to parenthood. Just keep in mind that abortion is an alternative to a pregnancy. That’s how it works. Don’t talk to me about how there are tons of people in the world who can’t have children. No one should be forced into being a brood mare for someone else. No one owes their body to anyone else.
As pro-choicers, it’s inherent in our very name that we celebrate choice whether it be parenthood, adoption, or abortion. We keep in mind that our lives are individual, and the same can be said about our choices.
May 30, 2013
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 30, 2013
So,recently, I have found myself in a funny spot on my journey to becoming what our society labels as “adult”. For the last couple years, I think my master status was the role of “teen mom”. I had to change diapers,work full time, and do my homework all at once. All this, while I was still discovering who I was as a young adult, I was also molding this other little human being. I don’t want to go on with the cliches, “I’m stronger now” and “I learned from my lesson” because that’s not the story I’m writing about. I want to explain the curious situation I have found myself in now.
By legal definition, I am now 100% “adult”. 21 years young. I always hated when people would say that in the past… now I get it. I still live with my dad, because frankly rent is way too expensive when I can just help my dad maintain a house too big for just him; paying all bills other then rent. I work just under 40 hours a week at a reproductive health care clinic, making decent money. I am fortunate enough to have a stable home for my daughter and I, without having to worry about paying rent. I know many other young parents don’t have this “luxury”. But I’m also a part-time college student, working towards my Bachelors degree in Sociology. And I only have 7 credits left! I’ve started to realize, that with everything going on in my life, I can say I have grown up a lot and that I’m no longer a “teen mom”. I’m not that 17 year old who could barely match her socks right…let alone raise a kid. I did learn from my mistakes, example: do not forget a bottle of milk in the car if you expect to drive in it the next day. Managing finances, child rearing, time management, good study habits, all these things are difficult enough to master one at a time, let alone all together and with the emotional capacity of a teenager. I know a lot of who I am today comes from my daughter. She is the consistent light in my life. No matter how horrible things may have seemed, all she has to do is a silly “happy” dance and everything was fine. It was uncontrollable. (Sorry, that was super cliche, but still true). She gave me the strength to keep going. The things I experienced these last few years, are not typical for people this age for a reason. I know that now, and I’m grateful to be one of the ones that came out..decently lol. But it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve noticed the things I sacrificed about being young, to be where I am today. Some easier then others lol.
My point is that I’m excited about finally feeling like a real grown up. While of course having a kid at young age makes you grow up to an extent, but there are other parts of you that will not change without experience and TIME.But I feel more respected, not only as a young adult, but as a mother. People see that I still continued my plans and am achieving my goals. While my little munchkin may not be perfect, she is extremely bright and amazes anyone she meets. And I know that I have a lot of chapters left to write in this crazy story called “Life”, but I can finally see things are moving forward and my hard work is starting to really pay off. With my graduation is just 2 more semesters away,….ugh FINALLY!!!! Me and My Lilypad
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 24, 2013
Sexually active with no knowledge on sexual health educationmay lead to a lot of issues such as HIV, AIDS, STIs, and teenpregnancy. To prevent some of these issues, you may use different methods of contraception and also use emergency contraception such as the Plan B, Next Choice or Ella pill. There are different ways to be more active within your own sexual life and live above the influences. The time to start taking action of your life is now and to also help others around you. May isdesignated as teen pregnancy prevention month and is an awareness month to enlighten all teenagers. So for all teens out there, don’t be a statistic and practice afe sex… And remember,a surprise at the wrong time is a surprise that can be prevented!For more information on sexual health info, please text SEXT to 74574 today!
May 21, 2013
Because there are actually sensible people on this planet who know that the responsibility of pregnancy does not fall solely on the shoulders of girls and women, the campaign above exists. The Chicago Department of Public Health’s Office of Adolescent and School Health has launched a great campaign about teenage pregnancy. The campaign features images of pregnant lads, reminding people that there is always another party involved. Because in today’s society, people are quick to shame the young women, forgetting that they couldn’t possibly have gotten pregnant all on their own. What are we now? Amoeba?
You can read all about the campaign on the City of Chicago’s official website.
May 18, 2013
Growing up in the church, I always felt like it was a very safe place. But as I have gotten older, I noticed that everything that glitter isn’t gold.
My best friend, who is also the pastor’s step-granddaughter ended up getting pregnant and was kicked off of the choir and dance teams once the pastor found out. She isn’t the first girl that this has happened to. There were a few others before her. A young man who got a young lady pregnant was kicked out of all of the youth activities as well.
I understand that my pastor thinks that he is punishing them for the sins that they have committed. But I see the effects of the punishment. What was once a large group of youth has dwindled down to very few. I think that being kicked out of church activities has caused them to run away from my church. Since my friend has told the church about her pregnancy, I can count on one hand the number of times that she has actually been to church.
I understand that being Christians, they have morals and a certain way to go about their lives. But they should also be supportive and understanding of young people.
May 18, 2013
“You don’t have kids, do you?”
Have ever met someone and really hit it off? You start asking the basic initial questions, like, “where do you live?” “How old are you?” “Where is your family from” and so on.
Then you ask, Or you are asked, “You don’t have kids. Do you?” As if having a kid is going to make or break this potential relationship. If you are the one being asked the question, what should you answer? What should you say? Feel? Or think?
Should you admire that this person is are that you might or might not have children? Should you be offended that they might discriminate against you because you might have kids. Or should you feel like you should have brought it up yourself first to avoid the question?
If you are the one asking the question, please be cautious, sensitive and respectful. If you are asking in a snarky or sarcastic way, someone with kids could be offended. If you ask with good intentions, you might bring up a topic some people are not comfortable talking about.
Please be respectful and do not discriminate against people with children. And to all those young parents out there, don’t be discouraged by the people that ask in a sarcastic way. You are an amazing parent and be proud of being a young parent.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 17, 2013
Wow! How time flies. I can’t imagine I am year older (again), thought I this morning when I received an SMS from a friend I have long lost sight of. It read thus; “Happy Birthday and many more years” This is a classical birthday message that anyone will send to a friend or even an unknown person, you might be thinking. But this is not the case for me because unlike in the previous years when I will just receive these messages and file, I have this year decided to carefully study these Birthday messages before filing or even deleting and as well carefully look through all the Birthday messages I have been sent at each one of these occasions.
Though written in different styles and strongly influenced by the nature of my relationship with the sender of the birthday message, there is a wish that was omnipresent in all the messages: Wishes of Good Health; which is what my friend’s, “Many More Years” in the above extraction from his birthday wish message to me seeks to express 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 judgmental 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 traumatizing 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.
As government leaders, policymakers, healthcare professionals, NGO representatives, corporate leaders, and global media outlets gather in Kuala Lumpur to attend the Women Deliver 3rd Global conference to hold from the 28th-31st May 2013, it is my greatest desire that the quality of health services as they are now be carefully studied and appropriate action taken to make them less judgmental, more efficient, and more youth friendly.
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 12, 2013
We join Strong Families in their Mama’s Day celebration, highlighting the real lives and experiences of the mamas in our lives. The following is a blog from Kirbie who’s fantastic art work is featured in a Mama’s Day e-card.
I wanted to interpret my feelings of becoming a young parent at the age of 17, and learning to identify myself or, in a sense, figure out how I identify with my culture in relation to the challenges of sexual violence on the reservation. I realized that being a victim has fostered little trust I had between the world and my son, but most especially between myself and being a Native American woman. When I found out I was pregnant, I only heard negative comments that life was over because I was too young to be a mother out of wedlock. Nobody knew my traumatic past, or my desire to express love over hate. They just saw a teenaged, single, Native American mother.
I moved from the reservation at the age of 8, due to being out-cast by relatives. My new urban city was surrounded by all ethnicities. I knew nothing about my Navajo culture or traditions. I just knew that I wanted to stop feeling like a victim, and find out who I am in my own skin.
Now 23 years old, I believe that I’ve done a lot of soul searching, and the only thing that has brought me comfort to any psychological pain is being a mother. Knowing that my son’s’ safety is in my hands, and it’s my duty to surround him with my strengths and innovations. I am driven to inspire him with love and care, and push him past perceived limitations as a boy or doubts as a Native American.
My strengths and weaknesses as a young parent have bred from the pain, hurt, or betrayal in my childhood that it has matured me mentally for all the possibilities of being a parent. The only peace I have found, is the peace I have searched for within myself through these years. This fall, my second child will be born, and I can’t express the endowment of motherhood and everything that it has shown me in revealing the truth within myself.
May 11, 2013
“Sadly, real or perceived controversy keeps schools from providing young people with the information and skills they need to become sexually healthy adults. Just like other topics taught in school, sexuality education should be developmentally appropriate, sequential and complete.
Irrational fear – the cultural belief that teaching young people about sex will cause them to have sex – keeps administrators and educators from doing what they know is best: providing young people with developmentally appropriate, sequential and honest sex education. Never mind that 30 years of public health research clearly demonstrates that when young people receive such education, they are more likely to delay sexual initiation, and to use protection when they do eventually become sexually active, than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence. Withholding information about sex and sexuality will not keep children safe; it will only keep them ignorant.
Ninety-five percent of all Americans have sex before marriage. About half of all young people begin having sex by age 17. Providing a foundation of quality sex education is the only way to ensure that young people will grow into sexually healthy adults. It can augment what children learn at home and combat misinformation learned from peers or found on the Internet. Porn is not the best way for teenagers to learn about sex, but it will fill the vacuum when sex education is politicized and withheld from our classrooms.
Quality sex education should start in kindergarten. Early elementary school students need to learn the proper names for their body parts, the difference between good touch and bad touch, and ways in which they can be a good friend (the foundation for healthy intimate relationships later in life). Fourth- and fifth-graders need information about puberty and their changing bodies, Internet safety, and the harmful impact of bullying. And seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders are ready for information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, H.I.V. and disease prevention, communication, and the topic they most want to learn about: healthy relationships.”
May 8, 2013
TODAY, the North Carolina House of Representatives will be debating a bill (HB 693) that would require teenagers notarized parental consent form in order to access STD testing and treatment, mental health counseling, pregnancy prevention or care, or substance abuse treatment. Teenagers without a parent or guardian would be required to stand before a judge and request a judicial bypass in order to obtain those health services.
Let’s do a quick before and after:
RIGHT NOW, a young person in North Carolina can see a doctor for STD testing and treatment, mental health counseling, pregnancy prevention and care, or substance abuse treatment WITHOUT parental consent.
IF THIS LAW PASSES: A young person would need NOTARIZED parental permission to see a doctor for any and all of these services (including abortion).*
Obvious problematic scenarios arise: For example, a young woman who may be sexually active may decide to forgo birth control because she is not willing to speak with their parents. There’s also the question of how often signatures are required? Is it every time you get a pap test or every time you pick up monthly contraception or antidepressant prescriptions? Does this include OTC contraception? Would young people need notarized parental permission to buy condoms?
The bill is so vague that it offers more questions than answers and the answers we do have are problematic and dangerous for young people’s health and safety.
If this law passes, North Carolina would be the ONLY state in the U.S. to amend that parental consent requirements include STD testing and treatment and mental health counseling.
It’s also worth noting that even though every state has some type of parental consent law in some form or fashion, NO state has ever required notarization. That extra step will undoubtedly make it harder for young people in North Carolina to access the services they need to lead healthy lives.
The bill is going to the House today. I hope the House leadership feels embarrassed about how far this bill goes and does the right thing for young people in their state. Crossing my fingers that House leadership doesn’t allow this crazy to go any further!
If you live in North Carolina, I recommend contacting Republican members of the House to let them know why you’re concerned about this bill. They need to hear your perspective as a young person, parent, or professional to know about how truly outrageous this effort is for our young people’s safety and health.
*However, Title X clinics, meaning any clinic which receives federal funding under Title X and including all Planned Parenthood clinics, must still by law offer confidential STI testing and treatment, and contraception, regardless of any state law.
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
By April Grayce Dunlop for The Black Sheep Journal
To not have children and act thoughtfully towards the Earth are perfectly valid life decisions on their own, but claiming that not having kids is the best thing we can do for the health of the planet threatens reproductive rights and climate justice. This misled moralistic approach to denouncing procreation is exactly the platform of an emerging group of women who self-identify as GINKs- Green Inclinations, No Kids. Their main stated motivation in being “child-free by choice” is to reduce their “carbon footprint.” An article shared and widely “liked” on the GINK Facebook page states that, “To insure that the reduction of emissions in the developed countries is not cancelled by increases from the developing world, we must slow the growth rate of our human family.”
Drawing this connection between population control and environmental health encourages reproductive rights policies aimed at low birth rates instead of bodily autonomy. Blaming climate change on large families and “overpopulation” distracts us from the people responsible for massive environmental destruction – such as oil companies, polluting factories, and militaries to name a few. To lessen one’s harmful impact on the environment is an admirable goal, but the individualist frame of GINKs hugely limits their potential for change.
Often, the financial burden of raising kids ($234,000 for each child’s lifetime according to the GINK article) is posed as the most urgent reason not to have any. The cost of feeding, clothing, and housing children undeniably takes a chunk of parents’ paychecks. A GINK WordPress blogger says household clutter is an eyesore of families with kids – “stuff” increases 30% when you have a toddler. But how much of that financial drain and “stuff” is necessary and how much of it is the result of rampant consumerism? Families who make more money spend more money on their children. A 2008 USDA study found that “total family expenses on a child through age 17 would be $210,340 for households in the lowest income group, $291,570 for those in the middle, and $483,750 for those in the highest income group.” Not spending money and resources on children leaves you with more for yourself, sure, but how many of the child-free by choice are living lavish lives and how many get by with the bare minimum?
In addition to the environmental motivations, paradoxically, many material benefits are cited as reasons to be childless. The dream life depicted as an alternative to child-rearing includes luxurious vacations, all the sleep you could want, and a fancy house free of fingerprints on the glass. This presumes, of course, that everyone’s life could be like this if they didn’t reproduce. It is telling that the photo on the GINK manifesto on greenprophets.com is a flat, white stomach with a bit of long blond hair hanging at the side. Beyond the obvious fat-shaming implications of this, it makes me wonder how many women “choosing to be child-free” are white, upper-middle class, and/or college-educated. All types of people decide not to have kids, but it’s hard to imagine GINKs are representative of diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic status when “traveling the world, running my business, getting massages, getting pedicures and manicures, working out with my trainer, enjoying great dining experiences and enjoying life to the fullest” is depicted as the non-parenting life.
Perhaps childrearing wouldn’t be “too expensive” if our economic structures and public spaces accommodated raising children in families that didn’t fit the mold of a couple with one high-income-earing parent and a full-time caregiver. To encourage people to forgo having children due to the cost reinforces it as a privilege for middle to upper class people – and an irresponsible choice for lower class folks. Instead of examining our buying practices, inadequate wages, price inflation, and the need for publicly supported childcare, the GINK approach relies on individual choices as the solution to systemic problems.
Many people choosing not to have children for the benefit of the planet do not identify (openly, on the internet) as GINKs, but the rhetoric is similar and equally precarious. A Seattle Times columnist, Sharon Pian Chan, voiced her support for not having kids as “the most important thing [she] could do to reduce [her] carbon footprint.” She cites a 2009 study by Oregon State University that calculated the emissions impact of each new child in the United States to be 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide – which is five times the emissions of a child born in China. It is important to acknowledge the national differences in pollution, but fearing non-U.S. countries’ rapidly increasing emission rates should signal us to take a critical look at our own country’s policies and practices. Instead of interpreting high individual emissions rates in the context of a larger pattern of production and consumption, the GINK framework shifts the focus to a micro level. From that vantage point, it is easy to overlook the magnitude of change needed on corporate and institutional levels to halt environmental damage soon enough to be meaningful.
No matter how many light switches we turn off when we leave the room, pounds of food scraps we dutifully compost, and hours spent on public transit instead of driving an SUV, the Earth will still be under violent attack. The GINK ideology may be well intentioned, but evades the root causes of climate change and unintentionally humiliates mothers who are less than totally enthusiastic and prepared to have kids. Reproductive freedom must necessarily include the freedom to have – or not have – children. Encouraging women to sacrifice their right to do what they want with their body for the “greater good” stirs up guilt in individuals that is widely disproportionate to their personal impact. We need collective action- not individual shaming- to effectively address the global environmental crisis.
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 4, 2013
ADOLESCENT PREGNANCY continues to be a major public-health challenge in Jamaica. Coupled with this, is the related trend of adolescent girls who are infected with HIV. Anecdotal evidence points to an increasing number of adolescents who are not only getting pregnant, but also contracting HIV.
Teenage mothers are more likely to face maternal mortality as their bodies are not mature enough to have children. Approximately 18 per cent of children born in Jamaica are attributed to adolescent girls. They are also more likely to have premature babies, complications during labour, babies with low birth weight and low use of antenatal health care (Reproductive Health Survey (RHS) Jamaica 2008, UNICEF).
Sexual Activity and teens
The 2008 RHS reports that the mean age at first intercourse for females 15-17 is 14.4 and for those aged 18-19, the average age is 15.8, and that the percentage of women aged 15-19 who have ever had sexual intercourse, is 43.6 per cent.
The 2008 Knowledge Attitude and Practices Survey, Jamaica, points to a high level of sexual risk-taking among young girls aged 15-24 years. Just over 20 per cent (21.4 per cent) of females aged 15-24 years old reported having more than one sexual partner within a 12-month period.
Lifetime incidence of STIs increased by more than 50 per cent among women aged 15 to 24 years old, moving from 8.2 per cent in 2004 to 14.4 per cent in 2008.
A socioeconomic problem
More than 60 of every 100 pregnancies (66.2 per cent) among adolescent girls in the age group 15-19 years were unplanned in 2008. However, a more sobering trend that is noticeable in the statistics is that more adolescents are planning pregnancies. Data from the RHS indicate that the percentage of planned birth in the above-mentioned age group was 18.8 per cent in 2008, an increase of 9.4 percentage points over the last survey in 2002. .
A look at the Registrar General’s Department statistics on births in 2008 also gives an insight into the public health and development challenges faced by Jamaica as it relates to teenage pregnancy. The data show that in 2008:
“Mothers below the age of 15 gave birth for the first time to 225 children, and an additional three were recorded as second birth for mothers under 15 years old.
“Of the 42,161 babies born in Jamaica, 6,138 were the firstborn for teenagers aged 15-19 years. For the same age group, 1178 were recorded as second births, 121 as third births, 10 as fourth birth and one each for fifth and sixth birth.
A similar trend is seen in those aged 20-24 years old. There were 5,575 firstborn to adolescent women in this age range; 3,857 second births; 1,498 third births; 411 fourth births; 72 fifth births; 13 sixth births; four seventh births; one-eighth birth and one 10th birth.
Adolescents aged 15 to 24 years old account for the 44.75 per cent of all births in Jamaica for 2008. The implications of this are clear. Oftentimes, the teenage mother is excluded from school and thus professional opportunities to provide for themselves and the babies. Since the mothers are not in a position to care for themselves and their children, the burden of care rests with civil society and the government. It also speaks to the present gaps in parenting, child rearing, sexual and reproductive health education and the financial burden the country faces.
A focus group discussion (FGD) conducted by EVE for Life with eight HIV-positive and eight HIV-negative teenage mothers around teenage pregnancy produced some interesting information.
None of the participants in the FGD thought they would have got pregnant the first time they had sex. According to them, they were thinking only about the pleasure.
“I see other girls having sex and not getting pregnant, so I thought it would be the same for me.”
A key point made by participants is the way men see pregnant adolescent girls. According to the participants, men see them as clean and less likely to become pregnant again, and so, proposition them for sex. They explain how it makes them feel cold the way the men look at them and the things they say to them.
“Is a whole heap of man out there want young pregnant girls. They tell us that they will mind the baby if we give them a piece.” “They tell us that when a young girl pregnant we are tighter.”
“Dem ask wi if we nuh want dem wash the baby head with the sperm – they claim it will make it easier to have the baby if the head wash.”
“Dem sey dem like to have sex with pregnant teenagers, because they want to have unprotected sex and come inna yu. You won’t get pregnant again cause yu already pregnant.”
“Some of them think we are safer – they want to have sex with us because they don’t want to get disease.”
The average age of first pregnancy for HIV-negative participants in the FGD is 15 years old, and 17 years for HIV-positive participants. The experience for the participants was varied with some receiving reassurance from parents, others being abused physically, and others being put out of their homes. The emotional impact of pregnancy was also experienced by parents.
“I got pregnant when I was 16 years old. My mother cried every day. She was very disappointed.”
“My mother hit me with a machete. My mother told me to come out of the house. My mother told me she felt she would just walk in front of a truck and let it hit her.”
“My mother was pregnant at the time and she got upset and lost the baby. My mother was a teen mother herself and was disappointed.”
Almost all the participants told their friends they were pregnant before they told their parents. Some wrote it in their diaries. None of the pregnancies were planned, and 12 of 16 participants contemplated abortion.
The FGD participants overwhelmingly felt that parents played a role in their getting pregnant.
“Some of the parents are careless. I told my mother I had a boyfriend and she didn’t give me any advice. I told her I was having sex and she didn’t tell me to stop or how to protect myself.”
“Once you start seeing your period, some mothers tell you, you can start having sex.
At the clinic and hospital, the young mothers also noted that their treatment by health-care workers was bad. They explained that they were treated as if they had no rights. One participant summed up the treatment:
“They disgraced me bad. They classed me in a way – ‘whey yu a do yah? Yuh shoulda inna school!’”
Starting today, EVE for Life in partnership with The Gleaner will begin the series ‘Diary of Teen Mom”. The series is expected to generate public discussion around this public-health issue with a view to developing innovative programmes to prevent teenage pregnancies and to assist teenagers who have already given birth to return to school and complete their education. Many teenagers who get pregnant did not intend to do so and some are forced to have sex resulting in pregnancies. Some teenagers also get pregnant and contract HIV. It is important that in our discussion of teenage pregnancies that these nuances are considered and appropriate policies and programmes are developed to address this growing socio-economic problem. We need to have effective change to this issue and the common view by youth leaders is that it is up to us to have this escalating problem changed. How? Through access to information.
Apr 3, 2013
Thanks to Advocates For Youth, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health’s National Advocacy Weekend for 5 days this past March. As I packed my bags and boarded the plane that would take me from Ithaca, NY to Washington DC, I had no clue as to the intense intellectual, emotional, and passionate environment I was about to step into.
This year’s Advocacy Weekend was focused on the inclusion of immigrant women’s health care in immigration reform. Immigration policy directly affects an immigrant woman’s access to health care. According to the NLIRH website, the majority of female immigrants do not have healthcare coverage. State legislatures continue to introduce legislation that would restrict non-citizens’ access to basic public health programs, including prenatal care. Immigrant women are less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care, including cervical and breast cancer screening and treatment, family planning services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment, accurate sex education and culturally and linguistically competent services.
Reproductive Justice tells us that these services are essential for women to have the basic human rights to dignity and self determination. It was under this belief that over 50 activists from across the country joined together. We represented the full spectrum of american latina identity- some of us were undocumented, others were second and third generation citizens. Our command of English and Spanish differed, but we were united in our conviction, and most of all in our support of one another.
Yo te apoyo. This is one of NLIRH’s campaign slogans, and it was this sentiment that was most felt throughout the weekend. As we learned about the intricacies of immigration reform and of it’s intersections with Reproductive Justice, we were free to voice our personal experiences and frustrations. People spoke of very personal obstacles- young motherhood, the pain of familial disruption by deportation, the inability to be seen by a doctor for a cyst in the breast- openly and honestly, and were always received with respect and the assurance that they had in their power the ability to create change.
At the rally for Immigrant Women on Sunday, speakers shouted, “We are on the right side of history!” to a church full of applause. I clapped and shouted right along. It was only later that I questioned the assurance I felt that this is true. I suppose I feel that I am “on the right side of history” when I am working with people who sound least like a history textbook.. People who choose not to simplify and sterilize an issue, because they are not afraid to admit to and confront the complexity and diversity of it. People who gain collective power through their willingness to admit to vulnerability, to the need to support and be supported in their struggle.
For more information about the issue of Immigrant women’s access to healthcare, and how it is affected by immigration policy, check out:
Apr 1, 2013
- Passionate about fighting for young people’s rights to sexual health information and services?
- Interested in connecting with youth leaders from across the country?
- Dedicated to developing skills to make a difference in your community?
Mar 26, 2013
I have seen this post circulate on Facebook and loved its message. I apologizing for not crediting it since I am not sure who put it together. There is absolutely no way to sugar coat the rape stories that are happening today and we should keep doing our great work loud and proud until we no longer hear about these savage crimes happening in our world. It is about time we teach our fellow humans NOT TO RAPE. Full Stop.
Mar 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 19, 2013
The war against women continues in Texas. It seems as if the attack against women’s health will not stop. Recently, Texas State Senators Deuell, Campbell, and Schwertner introduced Senate Bill 537. This bill also known as the “Back Door Abortion Ban” is an attempt to restrict a women’s basic right to living a healthy life. Under the guise of safety and more regulation, Senate Bill 537 would in fact not improve safety of abortion care, but instead place medically unnecessary requirements on health centers such as becoming licensed Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASCs).
These requirements would force all but five women health centers that offer abortion services to shut down in the state of Texas. This would have a devastating impact on thousands of women, especially low income women. Low-income women and women of color who live in the rural parts of Texas do not have access to the necessary resources to protect themselves and live a healthy life. To attain a basic cervical cancer screening sometimes they need to take time off work and travel miles to go to the nearest health clinic.
My mother and myself are prime examples of this. We both do not have health insurance because we cannot afford it. My mother lives in South Texas and has traveled to Mexico to consult a doctor. She only goes to the doctor when about once every two years because she cannot afford losing a day of work, paying doctor visits, and buying prescribed medicine. I am a fourth year student at the University of Texas at Austin. I do not have my yearly check ups due the inability to afford health care insurance. It is difficult, frustrating and stressful living each day without health care and hoping you do not get sick and continue to work or pursue a higher education.
Texas has the highest percentage of women who are uninsured . Also, Texas ranks one of the top ten highest rates of women having cervical cancer. Yet, the 2011 Texas Legislature cut 66 percent of family planning funds. About 300, 000 fewer women will now receive health care . Unfortunately, Texas State legislature does not support women’s health. Every year, the state of Texas is limiting a women’s basic right to living a healthy life.
SB 537 is another example of the Texas State Legislature trying to limit women’s health rights in Texas. However, we will not let that happen because we decide what is best for our future. Young leaders in Texas such as myself working with the Young Women of Color Leadership Council with Advocates for Youth, Katy Waters Vice-President for Voices for Reproductive Justice at the University of Texas at Austin and organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, and Planned Parenthood are working hard to make sure our communities are aware of what the Texas State legislature is doing. Through advocacy, lobbying, community outreach, petition drives, and speak outs at the Texas State Capitol we are making sure to create conversations with our families and friends All women in Texas deserve access to HIV tests, birth control, safe and legal abortions. Women’s health is not a just a women’s issue. It is an inclusive problem that affects everyone. Family planning cuts and closing down of abortion clinics will affect mothers, wives, daughters, husbands, sons and the list continues.
Simple actions such as following bills that may affect women’s lives and what is going on at the Texas legislature online at http://www.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx or signing online petitions such as opposing SB 537 online https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=15903 to hold our political leaders accountable are ways communities can speak up.
 Guttmacher Institute. State Facts About Title X and Family Planning: Texas.http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/title-X/TX.html.
 Legislative Budget Board. http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/
Mar 16, 2013
As a former teen mom and human I could not help but address the questions and worries of the discontent toddlers in the New York City’s controversial anti-teenage pregnancy ads.
Just because I had you as a teen does not mean that you are not capable of doing well in school and graduating high school with honors just as I did.
Mar 15, 2013
BREAKING: North Dakota legislature passes nation’s most restrictive abortion law, bans all abortions after 6 weeks
Mar 15, 2013
One State. A Country worth of Disappointment.
12 is the new 20
If you’ve been following any news about reproductive health recently, you may have seen a thing or 12 about Arkansas. Just a reminder: Arkansas passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, banning abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy. There are a few factors to note about this piece of legislation and what it means for the future of anti-abortion policies throughout the states.
The bill was actually vetoed by Governor Mike Beebe (D) and his veto was overridden by the Republican-controlled legislature (shout out to the Beebe for trying!). Its sponsor is Republican Senator Jason Rapert (self-identified tea partier), who actually submitted a bill to ban abortions at 6 weeks but decided to retract since the only way to know anything about a fetus at 6 weeks is with a transvaginal ultrasound (and he didn’t want to feel the heat Virginia felt when they tackled that issue). The final approval of the bill was surprisingly unemotional, with consideration taking just a few minutes and with no one refuting, pushing back or making a statement against the decision. Mere moments that would potentially put hundreds of women at risk. Mere moments that put Arkansas at the center of the abortion rights movement. Mere moments that pushed fetal heartbeats and 12-week bans as a possible and passable policy option. This is unsettling, to say the least.
Fetal Heartbeat is the new Fetal Pain
Interestingly, what we’re seeing now are certain old school anti-abortion leaders worried that this new wave of (tea party-inspired) radical anti-abortion activism is only going to push abortion ban policies to federal courts, get struck down, and actually just REINFORCE Roe. And they’re right. While we’re on the topic, let’s just revisit the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade for a moment, which states that women have a constitutional right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb (24-26 weeks into the pregnancy).
Abortion bans, at 12 (fetal heartbeat) or 20 weeks (fetal pain), are being argued in court because, get this, they actually ARE unconstitutional. Just last week, a federal court struck down Idaho’s 20-week abortion ban. Luckily, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union have challenged the 12-week ban in Arkansas and are hopeful they will strike down the legislation before it comes into effect.
But that doesn’t mean this new wave of anti-abortion activists and elected officials won’t continue to introduce legislation like wildfire. Nebraska started this trend with a 20-week ban in 2010, which prompted five more states to follow suit in 2011 (Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma), and then three more in 2012 (Arizona, Georgia, and Louisiana). Thus far, Arkansas is the first state this year to approve an abortion ban.
Let’s Back up…What’s with the numbers? These measures are premised on the idea that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation and have a detectable heartbeat at 12 weeks, and should therefore be afforded state protections. Well actually, in 2005 the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published a statement that, after rigorous scientific review, states that “fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.” And, as of a statement released in the summer of 2012, there have been no new studies since that have changed this dominant view of the medical profession. And that’s just the opinion of the entire medical profession and rigorous scientific review. No big deal.
But the real point is that 20-week bans, 12-week bans, and whatever ban that occurs before viability are straight-up unconstitutional. We can see this doesn’t seem to stop radical anti-abortion crusaders, which is the worrying part. And the questions we must ask ourselves as abortions-rights activists: What number is next? What state is next?
Actually, we have the answer to that last question. Drum roll please….. NORTH DAKOTA. Yup. A similar ban is under consideration in North Dakota RIGHT NOW. In the light of recent events in Arkansas, this bill may be all the more likely to pass. Other states that have introduced similar heartbeat bans during the current legislative session include Ohio, Kansas, Texas and Alabama. Be on the lookout for actions to plug into in the near future.
BUT FOR REALSIES…. Arkansas takes the cake on worst reproductive health policies this week. And that 12-week abortion stuff above? That’s not the end of it. Earlier this month, they also passed a law that limits abortion coverage in the state’s upcoming health exchange. Oh, and if Senator Rapert didn’t feel like he had done enough passing the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban, the next day he co-sponsored a bill designed to strip Planned Parenthood of all state and federal financing. Wow, Arkansas. Just… WOW.
I’m feeling a bit underwhelmed with the state of states these days. But I can’t end this on such a negative note. There HAS been some good coming out of the states, right? Right.
Shout out to…. ILLINOIS! Why?! Well a few things.
On the local level:
The Chicago Board of Education recently passed a policy that mandates a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten. In addition, for the first time, sex education instruction in Chicago will cover sexual orientation and gender identity. CHEERS to Chi-Town for getting that all young people deserve the right to lead healthy lives and access to complete and accurate information.
On the state level:
This week, HB 2213, passed through the House Education Committee, which seeks to remove the barriers to school attendance, safety, and completion among young parents, expecting parents, or survivors of domestic or sexual violence. This “Ensuring Success in Schools” Act is now on its way to the House floor for debate. One step closer to ensuring the rights of pregnant and parenting teens!
Also, this week, Illinois’s comprehensive sex education bill (HB 2675) passed out of the Human Services Committee and is heading to the House floor, which requires that if sex education IS taught, then the curriculum needs to be comprehensive, medically accurate, and age appropriate. One step closer towards a more comprehensive approach to sex education!
And to continue on the shout-out train, major props to our friends over at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) for all their advocacy work and youth mobilization on both of these statewide efforts! Young people and sex education for the win!
Curated by Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, State Strategies Manager, Advocates for Youth
Mar 13, 2013
Last week I posted a blog responding to the New York City Human Resource Administration’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Campaign. With much hard work, The New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice has launched its No Stigma! No Shame! Campaign in response to the Human Resource Administration’s,“Think Being A Teen Parent Won’t Cost You?”campaign. A collective of women of color, teen parents, community organizers, young people and myself have organized this campaign. We need you help with this push back. We are standing up and letting people know that our young people, especially young parents deserve better!
We ask that you stand with us and sign on listing your affiliation, organization and state. Please send that information and sign on at nyc4rj[at]gmail[dot]com. Support us in getting the word out and pushing for a teen pregnancy prevention campaign that DOES NOT shame and blame teen parents, particularly teen parents of color.
To find the Sign On Letter please visit nyc4rj.tumblr.com
Here are ALL the ways you can support the “No Stigma! No Shame!” Campaign (via Nicole Clark Consulting):
1. Stand with us and sign on to our letter by contacting Jasmine Burnett, founder of NYC4RJ, at nyc4rj[at]gmail[dot]com. Please listyour name, any academic or professional affiliations, and state. Your information will be added to this letter, and this letter will be sent to Robert Doar, commissioner of HRA’s Department of Social Services, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
2. Join us on social media! Follow NYC4RJ on Twitter (and follow our hashtag #NoStigmaNoShame ) and like the NYC4RJ Facebook page to keep up with the latest updates on the No Stigma! No Shame! Campaign.
4. Share this blog post and the NYC4RJ No Stigma! No Shame! Campaign sign-on letter with others and encourage them contact Jasmine Burnett to sign on with their support.
This sign on letter is just the beginning. We plan to incorporate a campaign that infuses policy advocacy, arts, and education that will make sure that all teens in New York City are able to make the best decisions for their health and lives. Support us in getting the word out and pushing for a teen pregnancy prevention and parenting campaign that DOES NOT shame and blame teen parents.
Mar 10, 2013
A fellow Amplify Blogger, Twittersister and founder of TeenMomNYC.com, a website offering support and incite of the day to day life of what it means to be a teenage mother, recently posted a blog (like many of us) about the New York City Teen Pregnancy “Prevention” Campaign that launched last week by the NYC Human Resources Administration. Reading through my newsfeed last night, I caught a glimpse of her responding to the hateful comments she was receiving on this particular blog post. This morning, I decided to visit her blog for myself. There were a whopping 38 comments attached to what I thought was a brilliantly written blog laced with veracity and Gloria’s situated knowledges as a teen parent. I guess the others did not think so. Let me first say that I was not a teen mother and I cannot, will not and do not wish to speak from that perspective. However, I am a young woman of color who was born and raised in a hypersegregated medically “underserved” area, attended sub-standard schools, and was in and out of kinship care my entire life. All of these experiences influence my analysis of this situation (outside of my work with young people and pregnant and parenting teens).
This blog is also not meant to come to anyone’s rescue (we advocates/activists are not saving teen moms from these egregious, shameful ads) because they do not need us to rescue them or step in and give them a voice. These brave young women already have them! This is to show my solidarity with them and express why I feel so strongly about the attacks on them. As if the ads were not enough, you have people offering their empty “advice” on their blogs, ranging from “been there, done that” to “you should have kept your legs closed.” Uhh no that’s not about to happen. So you want to come for teen moms? Let me come for your train of thought. Allow me to deconstruct your notions of young people and teen pregnancy prevention.
Wait, be patient, love yourself!
I recommend young people keep a journal of their childhood that way when they grow up and catch a sudden case of dementia when it comes to sexuality and sexual activity they can “remember” their teen years. An “older wiser woman” commented that there is in fact no positive side to teen sexual activity. Hmmm well that’s strange considering teens are pretty much still keep having sex (something has to be positive there). While we all hope that young people delay sexual activity, lets face the music TEENS ARE HAVING SEX! Just because young people make decisions to have sex, doesn’t mean we don’t love ourselves. I’m pretty sure we’d love ourselves more if society showed us some love too!
I didn’t know lived in a society in which CULTURE does not play a significant role in how we raise our children!
An anonymous added that young people have an “unlimited” amount of resources including our moms, aunts, sisters, friends… Okay, so where I come from my family doesn’t talk about sex. Outside of the fact that most parents don’t feel comfortable talking to their kids about sex, I know first hand that some families are not about to talk about sex! As a person of the African Diaspora, sex was not talked about in my house. I was told not to get pregnant, but NEVER how to go about preventing pregnancy. And when I did receive some ‘sex education”, it definitely didn’t apply to me. No one met me where I was. No one wanted to speak my language. Then and now youth need Culturally and Linguistically relevant (along with medically accurate, age-appropriate) sexual education. Because all that other stuff…Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Just close your legs that way we don’t have to provide you with comprehensive sexual education, access to birth control and all the other things you need to lead healthy lives!
Telling someone to keep their legs closed is not okay! First of all opening your legs does not cause pregnancy (if that was the case I’d be with child every time a rode a bike, danced, and did jumping jacks.).Secondly, most women don’t get pregnant by themselves unless we are talking about the Immaculate Conception. The notion of “keeping your legs closed” is not only sexist and misogynist but just plain ignorant. And lets think about resources, is birth control accessible? I saw comments on other blogs about the Affordable Care Act and how teens could purchase birth control on their parent’s health insurance because it would be free. Well some insurance companies, have these cool things called EOBs (Explanation of Benefits). They basically tell you all the stuff you just got done at your doctors visit. Until we get that fixed I don’t know how accessible Birth Control under the ACA is for young people. That’s the ish I don’t like!
Society doesn’t owe you anything its all about “choice.” (This is where you laugh hysterically.)
Oh please. This kills me because some people are so scared of the word “choice.” It kills me because people throw around the word choice and “decision making” when we aren’t really handing out the tools for young people to make choices. Yes society has a responsibility to equip young people with these tools, but that does not excuse the fact that young people have individual responsibilities too. We contribute to society (so stop acting like you don’t know). We don’t need shaming ads to tell us that parenting is hard. We don’t need people telling us that we are WIC/EBT/Medicaid/Government Assistance users and that the older generation needs not be responsible for us. Well last I checked Social Security and Medicare are government programs and every McDonalds minimum-wage check goes to fund the older generation.
If you are going to come for young moms, young people, young people of color I just ask one thing….. COME CORRECT or go home.