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Sex and the city

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

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

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

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

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“We are here for family planning. She has already taken great hurdles during her pregnancy; not any more now. I will operate for family planning procedures. And this is the only way I can help her physically.”, a man expresses his compassion towards his wife during an encounter of a couple in family planning and counseling center at Teaching hospital.
Asking him in and out of a female reproductive health and knowing his view made me sigh deeply and happily. Now I asked myself, has there been a real change in this concept of materialization of a woman? Is pregnancy no more an institution to promote instrumentalism? Is every woman getting equal response from their better halves? And I answered myself; there must have been at least some initiation. Now it’s not just mother-in-law/mother, sister-in-law or sister who brings women to gynaeo depart and delivery wards. We get to see her partner sometime even father, brother and male in-laws caringly giving her a hand of support. Observing these trivial achievements, an internal force propels to throw a beautiful smile.
Reproductive health of women is the most sensitive and the most complicate unit of health. It’s the identity of a woman and the thing that gives them inextricable happiness. Let it bet the time of her teenage when menstrual cycle starts operating, breast oust from her chest, or the time in her adulthood when she experiences her first sex and becomes pregnant, welcomes children home or her infertility in her old age where her menstrual cycle stops, reproductive health is always a part of her life. It’s the health that adds color to her life, gives her and her family an awaited pleasure.
Reproductive health by its name though involves all those organs and issues related to reproduction, it is a very vague which gives different view from many angles. Reproductive health is that topic which links gender. But reproductive health of women is always on hike than that of men due to their higher contribution to reproduction and higher complications in women. Reproductive health of women gives the panoramic view of diseases, diagnostic features, its symptoms and complications along with every condition of a female partner of a couple. In fact it includes ins and outs of a female reproductive system.
Stomach cramps during menstruation, prenatal and postnatal extremities, uterine prolapse, cervical cancer, discrepancies in vaginal and fallopian tubes, complications due to short terms and long terms contraceptives procedure, problems in sexual intercourse are the major complication that female have been afflicted from the god blessed reproductive health of her. Actually she suffers a lot to receive some happiness from her reproductive health. Pre and post pregnancy disorders are far more difficult and challenging than the 9 months of pregnancy. Insanitation during menstruation in rural areas of Nepal have been worsening the condition, along with fostering of superstition in menstrual cycle. Heavy works during the pregnancy tenure, lack of adequate nutritious food during pregnancy and inadequate knowledge of birth spacing have been causing uterine prolapse.
Female cannot be accompanied by other person during her pregnancy and other reproductive health infirmities as lovingly as her own partner. Inability of a female to speak about their reproductive health deformities and also about the use of contraceptives is due to traditional system of male domination prevalent in our society. A male can attribute for personal happiness of female in every aspect. Every sexual intercourse is taken as an instinct of life for eternal happiness. He and his involvement in her aspects of health can always be taken as a symbol of positivity. Every male shares great responsibilities of his partner’s health on his shoulder. Condition of marital rape would not have arisen had the entire male understood their limits. Attention of a male towards problems of female builds healthy society and pacifies gender domination. Reproductive health of a woman will immensely improve if male partner addresses her difficulties by decreasing the reproductive burden of female partner.
Globally priorities are changing and also the power is being shared. Peoples are moving ahead. Many aspects of women health has been escalated to new level of understanding and effort. Now, women are generally not found alone in a gynecologist or with family planning counselor. Male are being their literal partner. Yet many changes are to be made in context of Nepal. Voices of every female are to be raised, obligations are to be pinned to every male’s chest, and power of women and condition of her health are to be understood by every family to trigger building a healthy and happy community.

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For months, I have thought, read and surfed the
web and other extensive files and documents of
ways by which ; Males and Females , can have
safer sexual intercourse without STDs and not
having to worry about Unwanted pregnancy.
Although , Abstinence is a profound alternative
which is practiced by volunteering to Refrain from
sex , till a divine time. Abstinence is laid on a
foreground of not having any kind of sexual
relationship with a partner – it is simply
diminishing this urge with self will (i.e not willing
to oblige).
But , I have often dabbled at rigorous questions I
can’t answer ( like : Can we all abstain from sex ?)
If only a handful can, then what about the
majority ? I got the idea of Outercourse, from
Medical Reports I came across and other
documents too.
“Outercourse allows people to express their
sexuality in many ways, to Abstain from sex, and
avoid the risks of sexually transmitted infection
and unplanned pregnancy”.
“Outercourse is any sex play with no penetration
at all, whether — oral, anal, or vaginal”.

http://www.mariatalks.com/birth-control/

abstinence-and-other-behavioral-choices
It also, defines the situation of intercourse –
between youths and adults experimentally.
Most youths, especially young couples who desire
no intercourse between themselves for a long time
can delve into outercourse :
Because there are no side effects and medical
faults , since the fondling of the body is meant to
cause stimulation and provide satisfaction.
Outercourse is a the best option for the young and
old, since sexual intercourse cannot be ultimately
ruled out.
Outercourse, is not an education, but rather
abdication of the role of guiding youths with the
information they need to make personally
influenced decisions based on sound reasoning
facts. “Knowing, what is safe and what you should
avoid will help you make proud and responsible
choices”.
Outercourse gives an outstanding solution to the
aches we have in the society due to certain notions
most youths and couples partake in.
There are ways in which youths, couples and
adults can life an outstanding life without being
cut short by unwanted and unplanned
circumstance. For sexual health – which is every
youth desire , Outercourse should be considered to
reduce sexually transmitted diseases and
Unwanted pregnancy.

http://m.plannedparenthood.org/mt/

www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-
control/outercourse-4371.htm?
un_jtt_v_expand=7#un_q7

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Last year Candies started the #NoTeenPreg hashtag in an effort to continue the work they do which they believe helps reduce unintended teenage pregnancies. 

A group of former teen moms, now young moms, really felt that Candies mission is an important one but their messaging and ads were stigmatizing, rude, disrespectful, and not informative enough so #NoTeenShame was born. 
We asked the founder of the Candies Foundation, Neil Cole, to meet with us as a group to discuss how we could work together to make better, non stigmatizing, and informative ad campaigns for their annual month of action in May. (May is is also Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Month) Despite numerous calls and 800+ petition signatures asking Mr. Cole to meet with the #NoTeenShame team Candies and Mr. Cole did not respond. 

Mr. Cole did however, spend time writing a post on his Huffington Post Blog about why Candies is right and why essentially anyone who disagrees is wrong. We were upset but certainly not defeated. 

This year #NoTeenShame has been meeting for about 5 months through weekly conference calls about what and how we will directly create a cultural shift in the way teenage and young families are discussed and how preventing teenage pregnancy does not have to include mentioning us, our peers, or our families especially if it is in a negative way.

We have a Tumblr, a very active hashtag; #noteenshame, and a very insightful one pager about our goals, history, and mission. 

However, what #NoTeenShame has really showed me, as simply one of it’s core members, is that online advocacy that is born out of speaking up when something is wrong is powerful, purposeful, and can change the way people think about certain topics. 

In April we launched- and successfully met our goal on- a Thunderclap campaign which asked supporters to sign on and tell the world that they support #NoTeenShame and our mission, we had an insightful and purposeful twitter chat hosted by Tara of The Young Mommy Life, we’ve had organizations reach out and show support and pledge their solidarity alongside with us. 

As we get ready to enter one of the most stigmatizing months for teen and young parents we have the honor of knowing that we are on the right side of change and progress, that more people are beginning to think about how harmful ads they once thought were seemingly harmless really effect others, and that Neil Cole and many other organizations and foundations like his who use stigmatizing language are watching. 

#NoTeenShame is about young people using technology to advance and change discussions on causes we hold most important and personal to us in an effort to implement change in policy and change in cultural perceptions.

Thank you for your support thus far and please continue to support us and ALL young families during May and everyday.

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Bill O’Reilly believes that Beyonce does not deserve to be on the cover of Time magazine because she causes young women in the black community to have unintended pregnancies…. Seriously, he said that.

As a young black Latina who had her daughter at 15, I don’t even know where to start with his ridiculous claim. I can however promise you that Beyonce and her music were the LAST things that led to my being pregnant at 15 years old. Terrible sexual health education classes in my conservative southern school; poverty; lack of access to  affordable  birth control options; and low self esteem are a few of the things that led to my unintended teenage pregnancy -  but certainly not Beyonce.

While O’Reilly is making ridiculous claims about the black americans and unintended pregnancies being attributable to a very married, committed, and self employed black women, Beyonce, I wonder when he will address the lack ofcomprehensive sex education being taught in public and private schools across America? When will he address the fact that low wages keep many parents out of the home for hours on in, working for wages so low that they can barely afford to pay the rent  - let alone spend real and quality time with their children? I wonder when/ if he will take a look at policies in place that keep access to affordable birth control options to all persons, free of coercion, an option?

It simply doesn’t work or add up to be anti- birth control, anti livable wages, anti Beyonce and paint yourself as the voice of reason for a group of people you know very little about.

This decline seems to coincidentally line up with that fact that Beyonce’s first single album was released in 2003, and since then teenage pregnancy rates have continued to drop.

 If we want to play the game of false equivalencies and correlation being causation, I will take a note out of the Brookings Institute “findings” and say that it is not the show Teen Mom but is in fact Beyonce and her jezebel music you speak of that have led to the decrease in teenage pregnancy.

There you have it folks, Beyonce is the cause of the decline in unintended pregnancies. (see how ridiculous that sounds?)

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What is it about twins that are so fascinating? Many of us have either envied them or idolized them. Twins are two off springs produced by the same pregnancy. Twins are rare and special. About 2 in every 100 pregnancies around the world are twins.

So how exactly are twins formed? The various studies show that the chance of having a twin pregnancy is increased by maternal age (30+).

There are basically two types of twins, fraternal and identical. But there are also the cases of third type called the conjoined twins.

Fraternal (Non-identical) twins: They are formed when two egg cells are fertilized; each egg by a different sperm so that two embryos are formed. Fraternal twins can be of the same or opposite sex and they don’t have to look at all alike. These non-identical twins are no more alike than any other two siblings. Non-identical twins are more common. Fraternal twin girls have twice the chance of giving birth to twins than singletons. One-third of all twins will be identical and two-thirds non-identical.

Identical twins: They are formed when one egg after being fertilized by one sperm, divides into two halves. The two halves are genetically identical. Identical twins are usually of the same sex.Identical twins share the same DNA but do not have the same fingerprints.About 1 in 250 pregnancies results in identical twins. No one knows what causes identical (monozygotic) twins. It appears that all women, irrespective of ethnicity, have an equal chance of having identical twins. Identical twins do not run in families.

Conjoined (Siamese) twins: They are formed exactly like identical twins, but during the split, the embryo does not separate completely to form two separate babies and the twins develop attached to one another.

Whether identical or fraternal, same sex or not, multiple child births are still one of the most amazing and mysterious births to present themselves to families and mothers everywhere. As fascinating as it can be, it can also invite the complications. Thus, the pregnant mothers should possess knowledge about twin birth.

(Facts are deduced from different sources)

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Thoughts at puberty”

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

http://reverbednothesblog.wordpress.com/category/poetry-sex-ed/

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am an “Advocate For Youth”.

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By: Sarah Bradley ’17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then change can commence.

My question :

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

Proposed Query :

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

Proposed Answer :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sarah Bradley ’17

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Organizations that truly and honestly support teenage parents are limited and at best growing in number.

These organizations are literally a life line for the parents they are able to support and help the only problem is I would like to see them go a bit further and further educate the teenage parents they help when it comes to sexual heath decisions, mental health, and relationships.
Many times the parents that these organizations are assisting need more in depth conversation and instruction on building and sustaining basic skills. While the support they provide is essential I would like to see them take on the role of comprehensive sex education counselor to ensure that the young parents actually know how to get tested for STI/STD’s regularly, while ensuring they are seeing a gyno at least once a year, how to find an affordable birth control, what to do if they have a missed period or forgot to take the pill, and what an STI or STD infection can look and feel like.
The stress of teenage parenthood is extremely high, so high that teenage parents are at higher risk for postpartum depression than any other age group.
Lessons on how to deal with, manage, and identify stressful triggers are extremely necessary and wanted by teen parents. We want to know how to deal with all the emotions and energy we are feeling within ourselves and the emotions and energy directed at us by family, friends, and sometimes perfect strangers.
In my experience more times than not the mothers I meet have been in an emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive relationship. While we, myself included, may feel like something is “not right” we are sometimes unable to identify the abuse we are experiencing for abuse for a multitude of reasons.
While we advocate for comprehensive sex education, rights for teenage parents, equitable access to services and programs that teenage parents and families need we, as organizations, people, and advocates need to create a space where these instructions and lessons are being taught and fully received in the interim.

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“Nothing decisive,Nothing sustainable,can be done in our country as long as this important part of ourselves remains in the oppression imposed on them by different systems of exploitation….the true empowerment of women is that which makes the woman responsible,that includes her in productive activities, and in the fight against the different challenges faced by our people. The true emancipation of women is that which forces consideration and respect from men”
Though these words may sounds like those of a convinced women’s rights activist of the second decade of the 21st century, they aren’t. These are words from Burkinabe revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara to women gathered to celebrate International Women’s day on March 8th 1987 a few months before his assassination.
The above was not only an appeal for women to never lose sight of the fundamental role they play in the progress of a society, but above all, a call to men and society as a whole to support them as they selflessly invest in the nation’s future at times through acts of courage that are often taken for granted or ignored such as beautifully balancing their role as mother, caretaker of the family, and increasingly bread winner for most families in my part of the world.
Rural Women deserve more……
 The brave women of the rural areas of Cameroonlive what I call “A life of service to the community” by waking up early to prepare the children for school; prepare breakfast for the family; toil all day in farms; return home late and despite the hard day’s work prepare dinner for the family. This makes me so proud of these women and reinforces my conviction that they merit more attention than is currently being accorded them by politicians and policy makers in the far away capital cities and comfortable skyscrapers in Yaounde, Addis Ababa, and NewYork.
Women make up more than half of Cameroon’s vastly youthful population. A majority of this very “important part of ourselves” live in the most ignoble of conditions in its rural areas and are on a daily basis subjected to torture, rape, and abuses of all sorts by men who are themselves oppressed by a society in which the gap between the very rich and the very poor is ever widening.
Economic Injustice is an Effective fertilizer for the Oppression of Women
Yes, a man who is powerless in the face of  his family’s inability to eat to their fill; cannot pay  health bills for his family; and cannot afford to send his children to school,  transfers the injustice done  him by society to his wife, sister, and daughteronly  in the face of whom he feels  “a real man”.Non-inclusive redistribution of a country’s resources therefore leads not only to economic inequality among a nation’s citizens but aggravates the already existing inequality through abuses of all sorts on women and girls.
Achievement of Millennium Development Goals is impossible without women 
Thus, greater economic opportunity is to be extended to rural area dwellers if the Millennium Development Goals to which this year’s International Women’s Day is dedicated are to ever be achieved and this cannot be done without the brave women who though living in these socially challenged areas, have put their lives “at the service of the community”

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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.

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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.

 

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by Jen Sorensen via Talking Points Memo and the ACLU

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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.

Jenelle has received/earned the title of Teen Mom 2′s most infamous mother for her less than perfect life decisions, and for better or for worse experiencing it all on film for the world to see. While some may say that Jenelle gives teen moms a “bad name” the truth of the matter is Jenelle’s struggles are ones that many pregnant and parenting people, not just teens, can relate to. From drug addiction, to abusive relationships, loosing custody/signing custody over of her child, life changing decisions, and arrest all the while trying to figure out who she is, what she wants, and how to successfully reign in all the roles in her life in a healthy way. The world and viewers should give Jenelle a lot more respect and humility.
The truth of the matter is many people go through these very same things everyday, they just do not have the platform she has for people to glare at and judge them. While questionable studies want to boast a possible correlated decline in teenage pregnancy because of exploitative MTV pregnant and parenting teen shows we should be focusing on the reality of the struggles presented within the shows that no only these young women are going through on camera but how it is a shared experience among many and how support, encouragement, and policy has yet to catch up to society. 

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At The Grammys, Beyonce and Jay-Z Made The Case for Marriage That Most Conservatives Can’t

“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

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

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

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

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

 

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Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights

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

Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.

That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.

But there may be a shift on the horizon.

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After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.  It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion.  This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans.  What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest.  And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.

The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay.  So, what’s to become of that 52%?  What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need?  We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people.  It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need.  It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.

Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this.  Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:

“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.

What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.

This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.

Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”

But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

  1. Find the right time.
  2. Talk face-to-face.
  3. Do not attack.
  4. Be honest.
  5. 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.

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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.

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

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I am happy to be part of the pool of facilitators who facilitated the very first National Adolescent Health Camp that was held at the Fontana Leisure Parks in Clark, Pampanga from October 22-25, 2013 and attended by 300 young adolescents from across the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. I am also honored to have worked with my fellow Y-PEER siblings in this project by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Youth Commission (NYC) and to mentor out-of-school youth delegates from Eastern Visayas who were awesome during the entire duration of the camp. It made me confident that more adolescents are becoming aware of the importance of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Adolescence is the period in life when an individual is no longer a child but not an adult as well. They are the person in transitional stage in life, living in critical time of rapid physical, mental, emotional, sexual, social and spiritual development. A time of transition that varies across individuals and groups, countries and cultures.

Globally, 1/5 or 1.2 billion of the world population are adolescents. However, 2/3 of the premature deaths and 1/3 of the disease burden in adults are associated with conditions or behavior that begins in youth. In the Philippines, adolescents comprise about 21.5 percent or almost 20 million of the 92 million Filipinos counted in the 2010 census conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) as cited by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). They contribute significantly to the labor force of the country. Considering that they constitute the most active group, they are the most vulnerable to communicable and non-communicable diseases owing to their risky behaviors. Furthermore, rate of teenage pregnancies have risen.

It is under this pretext that the Family Health Office of DOH in collaboration with the Department of Education (Dep-Ed), NYC, and Y-PEER Pilipinas conducted a basic training on adolescent peer education. As part of the learning process, an enhancement program was given to potential young leaders. Among the objectives of this camp are: a) Identify issues, gaps, and challenges on adolescent health and development at the local level; b) establish a pool of youth leaders on Adolescent Health and Development to address issues identified; c) develop standards of peer education on Adolescent Health and Development that will aid in developing the national framework on peer education; and d) develop one year local adolescent peer education plans to be implemented in their community/school.

At the start of our registration process, the participants were given name tags with number written at the back for an activity that was held later that afternoon. During the opening ceremonies which featured an ensemble of various traditional costumes from across the islands of the Philippines, the highlight of the said ceremony was the speech of Dr. Stephanie Sison from the Department of Health (DOH) in which she stressed the importance of the health camp to our young people and their importance to our country. They learned that engaging in risk behaviors such as early sexual encounter that may lead to unplanned pregnancy has a great impact on our lives especially on child and maternal health, education, and economic standing.

After the ceremony, participants were grouped according to the numbers behind our name tags for our first series of activities which was one of the facilitations I did in the duration of the camp. They had their getting to know in the form of a speed dating activity in which they met for the first time with their fellow participants from other regions. It provided them an opportunity to mingle in order that we can be friends and likewise for me to meet them. It also provided an opportunity to correct their stereotypes with other region like those from conflict areas in Mindanao. The second activity was body mapping in which I instructed them to draw a human body and wrote in the parts of the body their goals, achievements, positive/negative attitudes, their loved ones, and what others say about them among others. It’s a time where they get to know themselves better as they prepared themselves for the next days of activities. In our last activity which is called Agree or Disagree, young adolescents were able to know each other’s views and values on pressing issues among young people like acceptance of LGBT and people living with HIV, teen pregnancy, access to family planning services, and abortion among others. Yes, it gave them an opportunity to debate and argues on these issues but what prevailed at the end of the day is their mutual respect for each other’s views.

The next day during the plenary, Dr. Minerva “Mimi” Vinluan discussed the legal frameworks that serve as basis for DOH and other government agencies’ programs and projects on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). It gave us a solid foundation on where we stand as Peer Educators because there is a legal basis for everything that is being conducted in the training. Moreover, since most of them are not acquainted with these legal frameworks, it provided us an opportunity to be educated about these laws which they can invoke and apply in real life situations.

After the plenary, they enrolled into four different topics of discussion for the day: Understanding Adolescent and Puberty; Sex and Gender and Sexuality; Teenage Pregnancy; and HIV, AIDS, and STI. Their enrollment to these topics served as basis for their groupings in the sessions that followed. During our workshop, we let them compute the expenses that they will incur when they impregnated or got pregnant at a very young age with no financial security. They were shocked with the amount that they have computed – a staggering P180, 000 pesos more or less is the money that they have to pay for all expenses related to pregnancy (pre-natal check-ups, medicines, hospital bills, immunization, canned milk, baby diapers, newborn screening and other procedures. They have realized that it is not a big joke to get someone or become pregnant and they conclude that they have to be careful and be responsible with their actions related to practicing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In the afternoon, four different topics for workshops were simultaneously held: Relationships; Gender Based Violence and Power Analysis; Youth Sexuality and Family Planning; and ASRH in Humanitarian Setting. Also, the Adult Session for our partners from DOH, Department of Education (Dep-Ed), National Youth Commission (NYC), and other government and non-government organizations was held in a separate venue within the Fontana Convention Center.

During the Thursday plenary, Maria May-i Fabros of Task Force Batang Ina provided an insightful discussion on Elements of RH, the 13 Sexual Rights, and Human Rights Lens that enshrined in various international treaties that the Philippines have signed and ratified. We appreciated the kind of approach that she had on these topics because she delivered it in a manner that is not too academic like classroom lectures, rather, she delivered it in an informal manner that we understood since she anchored it on her own personal experiences and journey as an advocate and as someone doing development work. After the plenary, we break into groups and we facilitators discussed Peer Education 101 that included: Roles and Responsibility of Peer Educator, Peer Education on ASRH, Peer Education Activities, and workshop on session planning in Preparation for our Practicum the next day. In the afternoon, the NYC conducted Peer Education 201 that stresses on leadership and accountability as Peer Educators after which, we break into regions for the young adolescents’ regional planning.

In the Practicum, the existing groupings were further subdivided into four smaller groups with each assigned topics to deliver. We were given 45 minutes at most to deliver a Peer Education session following the standards given to us by our facilitators. The first two groups conducted their sessions simultaneously while the remaining two groups served as the participants respectively of the first two. During their presentation, we observed on how they conducted their sessions such as facilitation and co-facilitation skills, quality of information presented, icebreakers conducted, and our management with our participants. After they presented our sessions, we were able to give them feedbacks and points to improve on their workshop sessions the next time they conduct one.

Overall, all of us enjoyed the experience while at the same time they learn from us facilitators and resource speakers as much as we facilitators learned from our young participants. We have formed lasting friendships among our fellow facilitators and delegates from Region VIII and the delegates from other regions as well. The dinners and regional sharing that we had every night has been memorable. As newly trained Peer Educators, much is expected from them. They may be still learning the ropes but I am very much confident that they can train new Peer Educators in Region VIII and I am here as their Kuya – Big Brother to help them.

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Seeing a pregnant teenager makes many people uncomfortable. The discomfort is rooted in facing the reality that the comforting lies these people tell themselves about youth not being sexual beings, don’t have questions about sex, and aren’t having sex are wrong.
By finding comfort and silence in their disillusions they too play a role in the high rate of unintended pregnancies experienced by teenagers and young adults everyday.
I remember being a pregnant 15 year old and complete strangers glaring at me, stopping me to lecture me on what a mistake I have made and how terrible I make the world, and telling me how dumb I was for not just saying no and keeping my legs closed.
After having my daughter some of these things subsided because I was no longer a pregnant teen they felt inclined to harass instead the disillusions took on a new form. When people would see me with my daughter they told themselves I was the baby sitter, older sister, nanny, cousin, anything BUT the mother.
The few rude brave ones would approach me and ask me if I was her mother. “YES!” I would proudly answer with the new mother glow only to be scoffed at, looked up and down, and walked away from.
Teenagers become pregnant for a variety of reasons: inadequate sex education, lack of access to affordable contraceptives, no one to talk to about sex and relationships, poverty, boredom, sexual assault, planning a pregnancy, all types of reasons. However, the overwhelming consensus is elders are failing to help youth navigate the world of relationships and sexuality in a healthy way so teens are figuring it out on their own.
Don’t like it? Change it by changing the way YOU (read adults) address and deal with approaching the topic. It isLet’s Talk Month… maybe you should start listening and stop comforting yourself with lies.

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Recently the Nebraska Supreme Court decided that a 16 year old pregnant foster child could not have the abortion she wanted regardless of the law being on her side.
As a foster child this young woman did not need to approval of her biological parents to seek the abortion she wanted but the anti-choicer judge who has past involvement with an anti-choice group deemed her too immature to make such an “adult” decision on her own. Never mind the fact that she has cared for her younger siblings for years because her parents are addicted to drugs, that she cited her lack of financial stability and lack of stable living arrangements as reasons as to why she did not want to have a child at this point in time in her life, and the fact that she managed to navigate the judicial system to even have her case heard by an obviously bias judge; she’s the immature one. 
 
As a former teenage mother this case upsets me all too much and is not the only case in which I have heard things like this happening.
The cycle of the lack of sexual education that some adults refuse to provide young people with resulting in unintended pregnancy which prompts these very same adults to judge these young people for the unintended pregnancy is dizzying, ludicrous, and all too real for the overwhelming amount of teenagers who experience unintended pregnancies EVERYDAY.
When will these adults realize that they are partly responsible for the cycle of unintended pregnancies in young people and young adults? When will youth finally be given the agency to make healthy and well informed decision about their sexual health that they are demanding both explicitly and implicitly?
This young woman is FAR from immature or incapable on the contrary she was one of the few mature people in this entire case. What happened was because f her age she was railroaded by a terrible adult who is wrongfully a judge.

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(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)

How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.

Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.

Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

 

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Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning

Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield

Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.

Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE

 

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Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States

Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan

To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).

But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.

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Texas woman drives four hours to Planned Parenthood after being shamed for hickey

Reposted from: Raw Story, written by David Edwards

A Texas woman who was shamed by her doctor for having a hickey and wanting birth control says she is now forced to drive four hours to a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care due to the state’s new anti-abortion laws.

Athena Mason told KUT that her first visit to the doctor as a student at Texas A&M was awkward.

“I had a hickey and the doctor was just like, you shouldn’t be doing that,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘It’s a hickey, it’s nothing major.’ But I got a big lecture. [He said] my boyfriend was abusive and all of these things. And then I asked for birth control. I did not hear the end of that. So I said never mind, I’ll go somewhere else.”

Mason started using the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. But that facility is one of four women’s health service providers that closed in August after the state passed new regulations restricting abortions.

So Mason now drives four hours to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin for health care.

In 1998, Cadence King was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells on her cervix and became a patient at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan. She had returned for regular checkups in the years since, but she has missed visits in recent weeks because the clinic closed.

King is now struggling to find a new health care provider. Her only options are driving three hours to Beaumont or waiting four months for the next opening with the one Bryan clinic that’s willing to take her case.

 

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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Ireland Has Performed Its

First- Ever Legal Abortion,

And It Saved A Dying Woman’s

Life

(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.

SOURCE

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Ohio Republicans Pledge to Reintroduce Heartbeat Ban

“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.

Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”

Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.

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Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black

(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)

Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.

First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.

What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.

The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.

Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.

As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.

BECAUSE I AM WOMAN

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One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.

The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:

  • 86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

  • 71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

  • 72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.

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

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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.

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

New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.

This article originally appeared on Salon.com.

Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.

But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.

Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)

“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”

Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.

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

North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.

 

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baby-breastfeeding

Why the breast is important to men.

Breastfeeding protects babies

  1. 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!)

 

  1.  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
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes: when the body does not produce insulin

Mothers benefit from breastfeeding

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Breastfeeding can be good for the mother’s health, too – Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems in women:
    1. Type 2 diabetes
    2. Breast cancer: cancer of the breast
    3. Ovarian cancer: cancer of the ovaries

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.

Reference :(women’shealth.gov)

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

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

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

Brace yourself.  This is pretty triggering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Untitled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/19/california-teen-pregnancy-rates-drop_n_3625090.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

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Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.

Why? The politics of abortion in Latin America

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On the same day that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion omnibus bill into law, Republican legislators in the state introduced yet another anti-abortion measure, this time looking to ban abortions after 6 weeks. And while it seems very unlikely at this point that the bill will make it through the state’s legislative process by July 31, the end of the current special legislative session in Texas, the timing is still drawing a decent bit of attention.

There’s only one state in the U.S. with an abortion ban after 6 weeks: North Dakota. And that law is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. The 6-week bans, like the one proposed in Texas, rely upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat by a doctor. Arguing that a fetal heartbeat is “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the Texas bill, HB59, would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat exists before legally performing an abortion. Fetal heartbeats typically register at around 6 weeks, meaning that the bill would effectively make that the cut off for the procedure.

READ MORE HERE.

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Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.

I can not tell you how often I have been asked in interviews or casual conversation if I support teenage pregnancy prevention. Somehow to some people that fact that I advocate for respect and a fair chance at creating the future I and so many other teenage parents want or wanted translates to I do not agree with teenage pregnancy prevention. I do.
The next question is usually what do you think would have worked on you or needs to happen to reduce the rate of teenage pregnany.
My answers are and will always be-but not limited to:
  • 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.
In a nutshell the response is: those answers are too taboo. What about ads? You know ads like nyc hra’s recent ones or ones a like? Aren’t those good?
No. 
Well surely they would’ve worked on you if say them.
 I did and they didn’t. 
End of conversation or follow up with more questions.
People! Stop thinking a PSA is going to be the end all be all of teenage pregnancy and more importantly stop asking me questions you don’t like the answers to.
Stop asking youth and young adults what they think if you won’t listen.
Because I’m tired of speaking and having no one listen

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Don’t talk to me about teenage pregnancy prevention unless you intend on listening.

I can not tell you how often I have been asked in interviews or casual conversation if I support teenage pregnancy prevention. Somehow to some people that fact that I advocate for respect and a fair chance at creating the future I and so many other teenage parents want or wanted translates to I do not agree with teenage pregnancy prevention. I do.
The next question is usually what do you think would have worked on you or needs to happen to reduce the rate of teenage pregnany.
My answers are and will always be-but not limited to:
  • 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.
In a nutshell the response is: those answers are too taboo. What about ads? You know ads like nyc hra’s recent ones or ones a like? Aren’t those good?
No. 
Well surely they would’ve worked on you if say them.
 I didn’t and they didn’t. 
End of conversation or follow up with more questions.
People!  stop thinking a PSA is going to be the end all be all of teenage pregnancy and more importantly stop asking me questions you don’t like the answers to.
Stop asking youth and young adults what they think if you won’t listen. Because I’m tired of speaking and having no one listen

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

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

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

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

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

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-11/flea-market-abortions-thrive-as-texas-may-close-clinics.html

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Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies

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

READ MORE HERE.

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Yesterday, the Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation authorized doctors to sterilize at least 148 women between 2006 and 2010. Another 100 women were estimated to be sterilized since the late 1990s. Incarcerated women at the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla were coerced into having tubal ligations against their will. Many of the women who underwent the procedure while incarcerated said they were not only provided with little information on the health risks, but falsely educated.

Women who are incarcerated are predominantly low-income, women of color. In 2009, the compounded state and federal incarceration rates (per 100,000) for black and Hispanic women were 142 and 74 respectively, while for white women this rate was 50 [1]. Forced sterilization is a violation of one of women’s most basic rights – the right to procreate. Although modern-day sterilizations are not as blatantly racist as eugenics in California in the early 20th century, it is scary to see parallels between the “science” used to justify the practice then and now. Modern doctors pushing sterilization as a necessity for inmate’s health is reminiscent of the research and academic eugenic centers that sprung up a hundred years ago that were dedicated to maintaining “desirable” bloodlines.

What really enrages me is that Daun Martin, the top medical manager at Valley State Prison from 2005-08 “characterized the surgeries as an empowerment issue for female inmates, providing them the same options as women on the outside”. No, empowerment is allowing women to have autonomy over their bodies, families, and decision-making process. Empowerment is providing women with comprehensive, unbiased information, while respecting their authority. Empowerment is presenting honest facts that don’t spin the truth or patronize women’s ability to see political actors’ contrived stories for what they are.

Martin continues to prove clueless as he claims that some pregnant women commit premeditated crimes in order to enter the prison system and receive better health care. While he acknowledges that women who manipulate the system should not be criticized, he simultaneously asserts that this trend must stop. Instead of persecuting women, Martin should focus on the systems that force women to make such drastic decisions. What do the actions of these desperate women say about the state of our health care system and the level of inequality in this nation?

For more details, visit: http://cironline.org/reports/female-inmates-sterilized-california-prisons-without-approval-4917

[1] Mauer, Marc. (2013). The Changing Racial Dynamics of Women’s Incarceration. The Sentencing Project. Retrieved from: http://sentencingproject.org/doc/publications/rd_Changing%20Racial%20Dynamics%202013.pdf

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

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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.

Image from Vancouver Sun.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

Dallas Live Video

CBS NEWS: Senator Wendy Davis

Twitter Results for Wendy Davis

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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.

LINK: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/cut-funding-crisis-pregnancy-centers/x44cgD3v

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“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.”

Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice

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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?

Compensated!

Compensated!!

Compensated!!!

COMPEN-FREAKIN-SATED!!!

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

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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.

Factors like poverty, which has been found to lead to teenage pregnancy and defy the notion that teenage pregnancy leads to poverty. Lack of comprehensive sex education which has been found to delay the on-set of sexual intercourse, lack of access to preventative services like birth control and condoms.

 

Some argue the ads aren’t bad and work. Let me take this chance to tell you I saw these ads and many like them BEFORE becoming pregnant at 15. Didn’t work for me and they don’t for the other 750,000 teens that become pregnant each year.

 

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.

It’s important to realize that people can and are offensive without intending to or realizing they are but this is no reason to continue with offensive messaging.

 

Public service announcements and public and private campaigns which paint portraits of a desolate life for teenage families not only perpetuate stereotypes born out of ignorance, they can also lead to discouraging teenage families from seeking help and services that may be available to them while simultaneously discourage adults from helping teenage families for fear of being viewed as “encouraging teenage pregnancy.”

 

As a teen mom I call on all anti-teenage pregnany firms and organizations to use their platforms and budgets to really combat unintended pregnancy by advocating for easier and wider access to contraceptives, comprehensive sex education, and teenage parent support not disrespectful, biased, fear driven campaigns.

 

It’s time to stop ignoring the fact that social problems such as poverty, educational disparities and a lack of access to sexual health services and information  play a huge role in unintended teenage pregnancy and the high rates of STI/STD infections in youth.

 

Learn more about this campaign and how you can support young parents   http://strongfamiliesmovement.org/young-parents

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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.

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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.

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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.[1] 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”

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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!

randk

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.

PAUSE!

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.

amber

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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 Bureauthe 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.

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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.

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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!

http://www.slate.com/articles/video/slate_v/2013/05/abortion_clinic_video_exposing_fake_selectively_edited_hidden_camera_footage.html

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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

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WD time is now

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 todays 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 UNFPAs 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 wont 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.

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WD

“To  free the people still under colonial  rule, let us  accept to die a little or even completely so that the  African Union doesn’t become mere words”.  These are the words of Ahmed Ben Bella one of those African leaders present in Addis Ababa on the 25th of May 1963 to form what is today known as the African Union.
Why do I quote Ahmed Ben Bella? and why am I talking about the African Union?, it’s exactly 50 years today that this historic event took place and I happen to be in the very historic town of Addis where African heads of states and other major decision makers from around the African continent have also gathered to celebrate this event.

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.

 Having a woman at the  helm of the African Union-Nkosazana Nzuma, and another -Helene Johnson Sirleaf at the helm of one of its nations ;Liberia is the arguement many will advance to contradict my above assertion, but they are just two in  millions who are languising in poverty,dieing while giving birth,reduced to sexual slaves, and considered in many cultures  as good only for child bearing. Statistics on these issues in Africa abound and I will not like to come back to them here. Same arguement will be advanced as concerns the plight of African youths.But how many of them occupy posts of responsibility in the communities from which they hail or live in ? How many of them have been given the opportunity by policy makers to participate in the formulation and implementation of policies ;even on issues that affect them the most ? A very tiny proportion, is the answer I will give you.

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.

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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.

Mississippi’s manslaughter laws were not intended to apply in cases of stillbirths and miscarriages. Four times between 1998 through 2002, Mississippi lawmakers rejected proposals that would have set specific penalties for damaging a fetus by using illegal drugs during pregnancy. But Mississippi prosecutors say that two other state laws allow them to charge Buckhalter. One definesof manslaughter as the “killing of a human being, by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another”; another includes “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth” in the state’s definition of human beings.

The cause of any given miscarriage or stillbirth is difficult to determine, and many experts believe there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to drugs in utero can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. Because of this, prosecuting Buckhalter opens the door to investigating and prosecuting women for any number of other potential causes of a miscarriage or stillbirth, her lawyers argued in a filing to the state Supreme Court—”smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs, exercising against doctor’s orders, or failing to follow advice regarding conditions such as obesity or hypertension.” Supreme Court Justice Leslie D. King also raised this question in the oral arguments last month: “Doctors say women should avoid herbal tea, things like unpasteurized cheese, lunch meats. Exactly what are the boundaries?”

READ MORE HERE

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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!

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unex1

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.

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parents

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.

 

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lesley

“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.

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Quality Health Care Pic

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.

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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.

Kirbie-Platero-with-logo-2

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.

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“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.”

READ MORE HERE.

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say what nc

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.  

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DSC01873

« 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.

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“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.