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Sept23NVRD

Today is the largest voter registration day of the year, National Voter Registration Day!

Let’s ensure that all our voices are represented in our democracy.

If you are voting for the first time this November, or have moved since the last time you voted, register today! It’s free and takes less than 10 minutes.

Young people have an incredible opportunity to make a huge impact on the political process. In 2012, 18-29 year-olds made up 21% of the voting eligible population in the US. That number will rise to 36% in 2016.

Our country is positioned to have laws that reflect your values and elected officials that share your lived experiences. So make sure your voice is heard by registering today.

If you are already registered to vote, you can take the next step towards ensuring your voice is heard this November by pledging to vote: Text “PLEDGE2VOTE” to 877-877

Or forward this email to a friend and make sure they are registered to vote

 

 

Tweet now!Today is National Voter Registration Day! Join millions of voters during this year’s elections! Register @ http://ow.ly/BPtYG

 

 

tweet-now-toutWe live in a country positioned to have our laws and elected officials reflect our values. Let’s ensure ALL our voices are represented. Join millions of voters during this year’s elections, and register to vote this National Voter Registration Day at http://ow.ly/BPtYG

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obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Coupled with the buzz of religious norms the relationship with sexual health and development in most parts of the world – where girls are a major entity. There are huge barriers raising the heights against change, due to religious tenets and other viral misconception on girls sexual health by uneducated and uninformed dictators.
Most Christian girls socialize and connect with youths of the opposite sex. Frankly the main course for this, is to associate with the outside world and spread the world for change.
In Nigeria, there’s an upheaval of distrust when it comes to Christian girls associating with boys of different social and religious background. The enmity connected with youths due to a difference in background makes it difficult for social equality to take effect.

Most girls have become rigid due to the religious norms governing the idea of equality.
Our social conditioning as males and females is an important determinant of sexual risk behaviours. The pressure from religious beliefs like ,” no sexual intercourse till marriage, no dating and socialize with only the same peer group, pressure most girls into engaging in sexual behaviours they don’t want, and as a consequence increase their risk for unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

The nub of the matter is that these girls due to pressure from religious norms have rapidly increased the rate of teenage pregnancy and STIs – which is a major threat to a promising society.

I believe that, if we can raise our voice the notion governing religious superiority in our environment , then we may experience social equality.

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Dating and choices :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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They aren’t too many gays in Nigeria, as well as lesbians. But for over a wide spectrum we have been able to parry the disparities we have.
Life and the circumstances it dictates has curbed the desire of man to either appreciate or pulverize its contributions.

Many a time, i have tried to understand why there’s no equality between youths of different sexual orientation and the society.
”some say, these youths have violated the laws of nature and existence”, but from what i have figured, it’s bluntly choice.

With choice, we have become anew ; thus redefined with the principles of life. ‘Choice influence decision, and in deciding we set the goals and objectives of our future.

Today, we have a future that emerged from the choices we made years ago – which instigated ; war, peace, hate, discrimination, youths with different sexual orientation, poor governance and many others.

For over a decade, we have been able to comprehend the reasons why these properties have become a dominant fact in our lives.
Today, we have boys who have turned gay ( due to certain obligations resulting from choice ), and girls, lesbians as well as youths who equate themselves to both stance.

From my research, here are some crucial areas that constitute a high proportion of disparities between GLBT & The Society :

1) RELIGIOUS NOTION :
Christianity, Traditional rights, as well as Islamic principles don’t encourage the relationship between man to man and vice versa. In Nigeria, there’s a very high standard in religious notions, which govern the affairs of positive living – that is living up to standard.

Youths who are (Gay, Lesbians, Bisexual or Transgress) are shunned, to avoid profane contamination between young and inspiring youths. This equates to no acceptance, with an increase in Gender Differences.

2) FAMILY :
The family holds the foundation of every youth, and also admits to a purposeful and proactive attribute set by them. Most families have certain principles they adhere to so as to attain a positive lifestyle. Thus, they don’t support the abnormal behaviors (in terms of sexual orientation) their child may portray.
The attitude set by most parents reduces the standard of youths in a given environment. Since they aren’t accepted in their homes, they go out with a wrong mind set.

3) LAW ENFORCEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT :
Recently in Nigeria, the bill for a 14 year in prison for youths who are (GLB) was passed, which shut the door to acceptance and cordial agreement between (GLB, non GLB youths and the Society). Certain Laws attributed to youths with different sexual orientation raises an unequal relation between youths of the same or different peer group and other external work ground. Thus, there’s no security and peace.

4) ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS :
Most environment despise GLB youths and as such raise hands for condemnation when a GLB youth is caught in the act. These laws or principles which originate from governmental notions and environmental standards looms the street of most countries, not only as a warning but as an opportunity to end a life. This conditions creates an unsafe avenue for GLB youths, reduces self-confidence and esteem.

DISAGREEMENT IN SCHOOLS :
Nowadays, schools – Private or Government owned, don’t encourage a mixture of youths with a different sexual orientation in their surrounding, to avoid contaminating those that aren’t practicing such acts.
In real sense, the environment plays a huge role in the development of schools. Thus, since there’s a disagreement between GLB youths and the environment, the school closes the door for an opportunity to meet other youths and learn As well.

GLB youths have rights too. The way we act should also influence and elevate the bedridden standards which has nullified the way things are with these youths.

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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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Tennessee Sends Religious Anti-Discrimination Bill To Governor

Reposted from The Huffington Post  | by  Shadee Ashtari

Tennessee lawmakers approved a bill on Monday that seeks to expand religious liberty protections for students in public schools.

The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which passed the state Senate 32-0, would permit students to express religious beliefs in their homework, artwork and written and oral assignments without academic punishment or discrimination.

The legislation’s primary sponsors, state Rep. Courtney Rogers (R) and Sen. Ferrell Haile (R), introduced the measure after a teacher asked a 10-year-old student to choose a subject other than God to write about as the person she admired most, according to the Associated Press. The state House passed the bill earlier this month by a vote of 90-2.

Haile characterized the legislation as a pre-preemptive safeguard against potential lawsuits challenging school officials for permitting religious expression, according to the Tennessean.

The proposal would also allow religious students to organize prayer groups and other religious gatherings before, during and after school to the “same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups.”

Opponents of the bill contend that existing laws already protect students’ rights to religious expression and that the new legislation would only expose students of different faiths to unnecessary religious coercion.

“While purporting to prevent discrimination against students expressing religious viewpoints, SB 1793/HB 1547 crosses the line from protecting religious freedom into creating systematic imposition of some students’ personal religious viewpoints on other students,” the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union said in a recentstatement. “Should this pass, students with a range of religious beliefs, as well as non-believers, would likely routinely be required to listen to religious messages or participate in religious exercises that conflict with their own beliefs.”

Similar legislation, modeled after Texas’ 2007 Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act, unanimously passed the Oklahoma Senate in February.

The Tennessee bill now awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s (R) signature. Given the measure’s overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House, a veto by the governor would likely be overturned.

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

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

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

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

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 WHY I AM A STUDENT FOR SEXUAL HEALTH

By Matt Mazzari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m sorry, but what?!

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

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

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The past few weeks have seen dozens of news stories reporting on various states trying to pass segregation-style, LGBT discrimination bills, each under the duplicitous guise of ensuring “religious freedom.” There has also been nearly as much coverage on the several states moving forward to overturn their bans on marriage equality. (Look out for that round-up next week!) All of this information coming out at once can be confusing, and a lot of important facts can be missed or overlooked in all the excitement. To help sort it all out, I decided to put everything you need to know in one place. Here’s what’s been happening:

States that have already failed to pass discrimination bills: Arizona, Kansas, South Dakota, Idaho, Tennessee, and Maine.

Arizona: Last week, by votes of 17-13 in the Senate and 33-27 in the House, Arizona passed an LGBT segregation bill that would “allow anyone to refuse to provide services to anyone for any reason as long as they claim it violates their religious beliefs.” The big question then became whether Republican Governor Jan Brewer would sign or veto the legislation. The governor, who has been tight-lipped on the topic for the past several days, has received over 20,000 emails, letters, and phone calls about the bill, and met privately on Wednesday with groups of both supporters and opponents.

On Wednesday evening, Brewer announced that after “careful deliberation,” she had vetoed the bill, which she said, “could divide Arizona in ways we could not even imagine and no one would ever want.”

Kansas: Earlier this month, the Kansas House of Representatives passed HB 2453, igniting a national outcry accusing the state of trying to legalize segregation based on sexual orientation. The bill would not only have allowed private businesses (such as restaurants, hotels, movie theaters) to deny service to gay people, but extended that right to include public services.

Had the bill passed the Senate (it was voted down, largely due to public pressure) it would have allowed police officers to ignore 911 calls, let hospitals turn away patients seeking emergency care, and permitted schools to deny students education. It also would have forced anyone suing for discrimination, an act they were all but guaranteed to lose, to pay all of their opponent’s legal fees.

South Dakota: Senator Phil Jensen proposed a bill that would have allowed private businesses with religious-based homophobic views to deny services to gay people. As long as they did not incite violence, any action based on their religious views would be protected from any lawsuit. Anyone being sued on this basis would be guaranteed to have their case argued by the attorney general. Luckily, the bill never made it out of committee.

Idaho: Representative Lynn Luker proposed two bills, both of which he eventually pulled from consideration after receiving significant pressure. The first bill was basically a copy of the Kansas bill. Both private businesses and public services could deny service or assistance to gay people and anyone who wanted to sue would be held liable for their opponent’s legal fees.

The second bill would have done two things. 1) Ban the state from ever passing an ENDA-style bill in the future, which would make workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity illegal, and 2) Ban all private organizations from enforcing their own anti-discrimination policies within the state. Among other things, this would mean that a doctor could refuse to treat a gay patient, even though the American Medical Association bans such discrimination, or that a college professor could kick gay students out of class, even if the university they work for has a non-discrimination policy.

Tennessee: Senator Mike Bell introduced a bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee that would allow any private business to refuse any service related to gay couples in a domestic partnership or marriage, even though Tennessee does not recognize marriages between same-sex couples. Bell claimed he was trying to protect shop owners from lawsuits that businesses in other states have faced for discriminatory policies, but a law like this is unnecessary in a state that already allows discrimination. Getting sued isn’t a problem if what you’re doing is legal. Bell eventually pulled the bill from consideration.

Maine: LD 1428, sponsored by Senator David Burns, stated that “no state law could infringe on a person’s exercise of religion unless that law constituted a ‘compelling state interest.’” It failed along party-lines in both chambers, being defeated 89-52 in the House and 19-16 in the Senate.

States that are still trying to pass discrimination bills: Georgia and Mississippi.

Georgia: The “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act,” (HB 1023 and SB 377) has seen mixed results from the Georgia legislature. The bill would allow “private business owners to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to deny service to gay customers.” HB 1023 is currently before the House Judiciary Committee, yet Judiciary Chair Wendell Willard has said he “can’t see” the bill moving to the House floor for a vote, at least during the current session.

The Senate version of the bill, however, passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday. The Senate has until Monday to put it to a full floor vote. If they don’t, they will have passed the “Crossover Day” deadline, the date by which the bill would need to pass at least one of the chambers in order to continue to be considered.

Mississippi: On January 31st, the Senate unanimously passed SB 2681, a “religious freedom” bill that would allow both private and public businesses to refuse services and/or employment to gay people based on religious bias. The bill is currently before the House Judiciary Committee, where it is facing harsh scrutiny.

Senator David Clount, a Democrat who voted for the bill, claimed that he was “unaware” that the bill could be used to discriminate against gay people. He tried to suggest that he (and all of his Democratic colleagues) thought they were voting on a bill to add “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This argument loses all credibility (as if it had any to begin with) when you consider that the language about altering the state seal was added as an amendment to the discrimination bill, meaning it was clearly not the sole intention of the bill they were voting on.

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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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Buffer zone laws are meant to serve the simple purpose of aiding legal protection to abortion access and vary state to state, even country to country. They are viewed as bordering provisions for anti-abortion speakers and protestors to not infringe on the safety and well-being of an abortion provider’s patients and staff. In a few weeks, the Massachusetts buffer zone law will be heard in the Supreme Court, with anti-abortion activists and abortion activists ready and waiting. Reporters have already covered both sides of the story, and everyone in the reproductive justice community in Massachusetts is keeping a close eye on this decision.

 

With the Supreme Court hearing on Jan. 15, I wonder how the verdict will turn out. While anti-abortion activists will claim freedom of speech and assembly, these freedoms are not justified with previous histories of aggression, violence, and libel nationwide.

For those who work at the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, this decision hits close to home. Nearly two decades ago, a shooter entered a Planned Parenthood in Brookline, Massachusetts, and killed two people and wounded five others. As a result, Planned Parenthood moved to a new location, but the memory of those who died and were affected by this tragic incident sparked a movement to further protect staff and patients in abortion-providing settings.

Fast forward to 2013, and as I walk into Planned Parenthood for my internship, I see signs of defaced babies and crowds of people distributing anti-abortion material. The amount of anti-abortion activism varies, but it’s enough to know that the anti-abortion movement is strong in Massachusetts.

Let’s see what the new year brings.

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image

 

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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I ran across an article about a couple that refused to leave their waiter a tip because of his sexual orientation. This is the note the couple left on the back of their receipt:

“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to God. Faggots do not share in the wealth of God, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your faggot choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for God’s love, but none shall be spared for fags. May God have mercy on you.”

This got me thinking, why are we so busy judging the lives of others when we can’t even handle our own? Why do we insist on telling people what to do, how to look like and how to live their lives when we get upset when people try the same with us? Most importantly, why are we so rude about it? There’s something to be said about those who can share their beliefs while still being respectful to persons who have a different opinion.

We are all different because we need each other’s diversity to thrive. We wouldn’t be who we are today without the people who’ve indirectly shaped us.  Our lives are meaningful because everyone comes with different shapes, colors, sizes, sexual orientation, personalities and beliefs. The sooner we can come to this realization the sooner we can provide this world with peace. To those who have already recognized this, accepted it and or welcomed it… we can all learn something from you. This couple could have just as easily not left a tip, and kept their disrespectful and hurtful comment to themselves. Instead, they chose to be rude.

Moral of this rant: It’s cool to have your own opinion; it’s not cool to be offensive about it! At the end of the day we all inhabit this earth, and we all deserve RESPECT.

It’s simple.

Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get one.

Don’t like abortions? Don’t get one.

Don’t like drugs? Don’t do them.

Don’t like sex? Don’t have it.

Don’t like your rights taken away?

Don’t take anybody else’s.

 

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Why ’12 Years A Slave’ Is

Different From ‘The Help’

And ‘Django Unchained’–

And Why It Matters

[originally posted on ThinkProgress by Alyssa Rosenberg]

[TW: racial slurs, movie spoilers, rape]

This post discusses plot details of 12 Years A Slave in depth.

“Forgive me,” Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) tells his wife Anne (Kelsey Scott) when he returns to Saratoga and to freedom after more than a decade of enslavement in Southern states. “There is nothing to forgive,” Anne tells him. And of course, Solomon is in no way responsible for being kidnapped into servitude and for being out of his touch with his family for twelve years, except for the errors of judgement he made in trusting the men who deceived and sold him. But the exchange between the reunited spouses reveals, in plain language, what makes Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave so strikingly different from many of the movies about slavery, race, and the South in recent years. 12 Years A Slave is concerned with Solomon’s character arc, rather than the moral development of a white woman like Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone), the misfit socialite who becomes a reporter and goes to work for a publisher in The Help, or Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), the bounty hunter-turned-hater-of-slavery in Django Unchained. And the movie treats whiteness not as a neutral thing, but as a complex construct that, in its intersections with class and gender, creates a landscape more unstable and risky than any Palmetto swamp.

Unlike Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), the housekeeper in The Help, who goes from quiet acceptance of her lot to speaking her mind, or Django (Jamie Foxx), who begins Django Unchained in irons and ends it galloping off towards freedom with his wife, Solomon spends much of 12 Years A Slave traveling an opposite trajectory. At the beginning of the film, his freedom has granted him the privilege of being trusting when two men, Brown (Scoot McNairy) and Hamilton (Taran Killam) offer him a job playing his violin at an exorbitant salary with a circus. “Your generosity is extraordinary,” Solomon tells them over a rich dinner in Washington, DC, where he’s traveled for what he believes will be a two-week engagement. Even after he wakes up in irons, Solomon refuses to believe that Brown and Hamilton have betrayed him, protesting that “They were not kidnappers, they were artists.” And even more tellingly, he believes that some sort of justice is within reach. “I promise you, upon my liberation, I will have satisfaction for this wrong,” Solomon declares to one of his jailers.

For much of the next twelve years, Solomon spends his time being disabused of the notion that fellow artists are trustworthy, that his talent will save him, and that decency and fellow-feeling trumps race. And he comes into uncomfortably close acquaintance with he’ll do to survive, and to be free again.

Solomon’s education takes place in three acts, the first, and swiftest in a form of violent gaslighting designed to swiftly transition him from thinking of himself as a free man to accepting an identity as a slave. “You ain’t no free man. And you ain’t from Saratoga, you’re from Georgia…You ain’t nothing but a runaway nigger,” his jailer in Washington, DC tells Solomon as he beats his new identity into him. “You’re a slave. Your’e a Georgia slave.” That man’s partner teaches Solomon the other part of the essential lesson of servitude, that he’s meant to be surprised by any generosity show him, rather than feeling entitled to it. “Got no gratitude?” the man tells him, when he comes to offer Solomon a replacement for the shirt that’s been shredded and irreparably bloodied by his beating. And when Solomon arrives at his destination, the custody of a slaver named Freeman (Paul Giamatti), he’s punished when he doesn’t answer to the new name bestowed on him, Platt. “You fit the description. Why didn’t you answer when called?” Freeman demands of Solomon, making sure that his latest commodity will behave as expected before he’s sold off.

If Solomon becomes convinced of the value of docility to his survival in the first stage of his journey South, it’s in his second that he learns that his talents and intelligence need to be deployed carefully, and the extent to which race trumps class for Southern whites. The man who purchases him is a plantation owner named Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) who fancies himself a benevolent owner. Ford’s first attracted to Solomon in Freeman’s establishment when the slaver tells Ford that “This is a nigger of considerable talent,” and Ford hears Solomon’s playing. That respect extends beyond Solomon’s music. Ford is willing to accept Solmon’s advice on transporting lumber through the swamps around his estate. Tibeats (Paul Dano), a foreman who’s taken an instant dislike to Solomon on the grounds that he doesn’t know his place, asks Solomon “Are you an engineer or a nigger?” when Solomon volunteers his experience working on a canal crew as proof of his plan. “I’ll admit to being impressed even if you won’t,” Ford tells Tibeats and Solomon, giving Solomon a chance to prove his idea viable.

But Eliza (Adepero Oduye), who like Solmon was kidnapped in Washington, and has been sold to Ford along with him but away from her children, sees what Solomon cannot in these gestures of respect. “Ford is your opportunity?” she asks Solomon, recognizing that Solomon’s displays of his talents only make him more valuable to Ford, rather than convincing Ford of his humanity. Solomon’s first inkling of this comes when Ford gives him a violin, telling Solomon “I hope it brings us both much joy over the years,” envisioning a placid, and permanent, coexistence with the slave he’s come to enjoy.

Even if Solmon accepts that might be his lot, he fails to recognize that the means by which he expresses his usefulness may someday erode the risks Ford is willing to take for him. His error is in continuing to challenge Tibeats, treating the white man as if he’s foolish, telling him “I simply ask that you use all your senses before rendering judgement,” and when Tibeats criticizes his work, declaring “If there’s something wrong, it’s wrong with the instructions.” When their repeated confrontations finally become violent, Solomon acts as if his skills outrank the whiteness of Tibeats’ skin, beating him rather than allowing himself to be physically abused. When Tibeats declares after the fight that “You will not live to see another day…I will have flesh and I will have all of it,” it’s another layer of the instruction that Solomon first received when he was kidnapped: he’s in a place where reason matters very little, and race and class are everything.

In one of the most intellectually complex and visually harrowing sequences in12 Years A Slave, Tibeats rounds up a lynch mob, only to be interrupted by Ford’s overseer, who informs Tibeats that “You have no claim to his life.” This doesn’t, of course, mean that Solmon’s life is his own. And to remind him of it, the overseer leave Solomon hanging just low enough that he can relieve the pressure on his neck by pointing his toes in decidedly unstable mud. The slaves around him, better-trained in the art of self-preservation, largely go about their work as Solomon languishes there. Children play near the tree from which he’s hung. Mrs. Ford watches Solomon struggle, then strolls away from her viewpoint on the porch. A woman sneaks him a drink of water, but she can only ease his comfort, not relieve him of it. The one person who can do that is Ford, who ultimately cuts Solomon down with a machete. But that assertion of ownership comes paired with an acknowledgement that Solomon himself has transgressed so far in his beating of Tibeats that Ford cannot–or will not–assert his class privilege over the poorer man’s racist outrage in order to save a slave, even one he’s grown fond of. “You are an exceptional nigger, Platt,” Ford tells Solomon as he prepares to sell him to Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). “But I fear no good can come of it.”

It’s on Epps’ plantation that Solomon learns submission and compromise, which, paradoxically, are the qualities that will allow him to save his own life at the end of the film. On the Epps plantation, Solomon’s skills are turned against him. Far from being able to win Epps’ respect with any knowledge he might possess, Solomon proves poor at the one thing Epps wants of him, picking cotton. His musical skills, once a source of consolation, become part of Epps’ macabre entertainments, as Epps forces Solomon to play for grotesque dances he forces his slaves to hold in the middle of the night.

And amidst the brutality of the Epps plantation, Solomon learns to do what the people who saw him being hanged and did nothing did on that day: to ignore what he sees, and to keep quiet. When he contemplates running away when Mrs. Epps (Sarah Paulson) orders him to run her errands at a store, his flight through the woods brings Solomon upon a lynching party. Solomon effectively promises the white men in the group that he will forget what he saw. He tells Mrs. Epps that “No m’am. [He encountered] No trouble,” on his route, erasing the experience from his official account of the trip. And Solomon and Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), a slave Epps describes as “Queen of the Fields,” and who Epps rapes regularly, warning his wife that “I will rid myself of you before I do away with her,” are lectured on the value of patience and submission in Christian terms by Mistress Shaw (Alfre Woodward), a slave who accepted the role of mistress to another white man. “Where once I served, I have others serving me,” Mistress Shaw counsels the two younger people. “In good time, the Lord’ll manage ‘em all…The sorrow of the pharaohs is no match for what awaits the plantation class.”

This education saves Solomon when he is caught in a dangerous ploy, trying to convince a former overseer-turned-cotton-picker named Armsby (Garret Dillahunt) to deliver a letter to his family. “Well, Platt. I understand I got a learned nigger writes letters, tries to get white fellows to mail ‘em,” a drunk Epps tells Solomon, clearly eager to use this knowledge against a slave who’s irritated him, but not quite given him the excuse Epps needs to dispatch him by violence. Solmon, by this point, knows enough to play Epps’ class suspicions against Armsby. “He made the story out of whole cloth because he wants a situation,” Solomon insists, and Epps believes him.

But submission also means that Solomon is pulled deeper into complicity with Epps’ cruelties, nowhere more so than in the case of Patsey. At one point, Patsey begs Solomon to kill her and to make her body disappear, telling him “I ain’t got no comfort in this life. If I can’t buy mercy from you, I’ll beg it.” But Solomon declines, even as he becomes witness to her escalating suffering. When he returns from a stint on another plantation, where he was allowed to play his violin and earn money for himself, Solmon sees all the blood vessels in one of Patsey’s eyes broken, whether as the result of abuse from Mrs. Epps, or as an assertion of authority from Epps himself. Later, when Patsey is not available to Epps on a Sunday, a day she’s traditionally been free to go visiting, his wrath is dreadful. And it escalates when she explains that she was visiting Mistress Shaw to get some soap because Mrs. Epps has denied it to her. “500 pounds of cotton a day, more than any man. And for that I will be clean. That’s all I ask,” Patsey begs for her dignity. And Epps, telling her “You’re doing this to yourself, Pats,” orders Solomon to whip her, and then to whip her harder when he makes a show of the beating rather than administering it properly.

And when Mr. Parker (Rob Steinberg), Solomon’s white friend, comes to Epps’ plantation with evidence of Solomon’s freedom, 12 Years A Slave makes wrenchingly clear that Solomon’s freedom depends on his willingness to simply accept it and go. “Get away from him, Pats,” Epps warns Patsey as she insists on saying goodbye to Solomon. The price of her minor act of dignity is likely to be severe, and during her whipping and the treatment of her flayed back afterwards, we’ve seen what that cost looks like. And the price of Solomon’s freedom is his willingness to turn his back on her, as he looked away from her injured eye, as he refused to risk Epps’ wrath or his soul to kill her before she suffered more.

None of this is to say that the decisions Solomon makes are wrong, or to argue that he should have martyred himself on Epps’ plantation and died forgotten, rather than living to tell his story and to become an abolitionist activist, a chapter of his life that’s left out of the film. But 12 Years A Slave is a remarkable film because it examines the ways in which slavery coarsened the moral sensibilities not just of the white people who practiced it, but of the black people who were held in bondage. And unlike Aibileen Clark, who is a saint, or Django, who is an action hero, Solomon can be damaged by slavery, he can do terrible things to survive, and the movie extends to him the privilege of never sacrificing his claim on our immense admiration and respect. When Solomon tells his family “I apologize for my appearance, but I have had a difficult time these past several years,” he is speaking not only physically and emotionally, but with a veiled honesty about the terrible compromises he has made to return home to them. In between 12 Years A Slave and Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler’s remarkable debut film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), who was shot to death on a BART platform in 20009, 2013 may prove a waster-shed year for cinema in the long-overdue assertion that black men don’t need to earn the value of their lives or their dignity, that they simply possess them.

12 Years A Slave is also admirably corrective for sidelining the moral development or degradation of the white people in Solomon’s journey. This is not to say that the characters are poorly sketched. With the exception of a badly miscast Brad Pitt as Bass, a white Canadian who eventually delivers news of Solomon’s fate to his friends and family in Saratoga, McQueen has gotten remarkably rich psychological portraits from his cast. Fassbender seems likely to be a strong Best Supporting Actor contender for his performance of the louche, self-loathing Epps. And it’ll be a shame if his work overshadows Sarah Paulson’s enraged, humiliated plantation wife.

But for once, we have a film about the South where the highest concern is not whether Skeeter Phelan turns on her racist friends and finds fulfillment in the world of publishing, leaving the black women who gave her the material for her first book behind in Mississippi, or whether Dr. King Schultz acts in accordance with his newly-awakened conscience and dies in a blaze of spectacularly impractical glory that puts Django and his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) in greater danger than a show of deference to violent planter Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) might have done. To 12 Years A Slave, whether individual white people are good or bad, compromised or virtuous, cowardly or courageous is simply less important than their collective impact on black men like Solomon Northup, who must navigate their whims and class prejudices to survive. Really, what does the small kindness of a Mr. Ford matter when men like Epps live and bear lashes? 12 Years A Slave dismisses the moral myopia that governs movies like The Help and Django Unchained, which reduce the experiences of black people down to the importance those experiences play in white people’s moral educations.

Those learning experiences are not unnecessary to social progress. But the movies have often given the impression that this is a one-sided process, in which white people of good will must learn to recognize the ills that they have unconsciously done and benefitted from, and find some small way to renounce them. 12 Years a Slave is a powerful corrective in its illustration that racism in America is a matter of mutual, continual and detrimental education, in which all parties learn to read privilege and respond to their position relative to it, rather a monolithic and impersonal institution.

Excellent review, analysis, and description of this film I watched a couple weeks ago by Alyssa Rosenberg.  Though I would have ventured more in depth about Ford’s character and how even though he is much kinder than your typical slave owner, he is still a slave owner and in the film it was clear that his compliments and actions were still dehumanizing.  He represented another face of racism and oppression.  And that would be it, because I choose not to speak on a character whose role was only less than ten minutes.

And I say this as a response to the overwhelming amount of praises for Benedict Cumberbatch who played as Master Ford.  Admittedly, Benedict Cumberbatch did very well in his less than ten minutes on the screen.  Of course with personal perspective, I did not find it spectacular.  Not even close.

I see no reason to extend more than a few kind words for Benedict Cumberbatch’s role when the movie was not even about a somewhat kind, but very cowardly and oppressive white slave owner.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Solomon) and Lupita Nyong’O (Patsey) were the real stars of the movie.

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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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*Raucous laughter as tears stream down my face as I fall to the ground clutching my sides*

How am I supposed to take this person seriously? Not only is it inaccurate to assume that same-sex couples do not have sex while looking each other in the eye, but how is that any excuse for denying people the right to marriage?

 

Oh look! More proof of racial discrimination!

 

Why? Just why?

  •  Here’s a photo of Robin Thicke being the slimy piece of schtako that he is. Suprised? I’m not!

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

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

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

Brace yourself.  This is pretty triggering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
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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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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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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APIreland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.

Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life. (Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)

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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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“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”

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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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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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Burn fat – Weight Management and Healthy Blood Sugar Formula

In a recent clinical study, lifeguard recommended experienced immediate pain relief

Categories: Religion and Faith
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This poem I am writing now is a poem I got from an Audio Verse I listened to for about a couple of years already and from that moment on I did remember all of it :)

Here it is:

Everyone longed to give themselves completely to someone
To have a deep relationship with another
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively
But God says “NO” not until your satisfied and fulfilled and content of being loved by Me alone
“I Love You My Child”, and until you discover that “Only in Me” is satisfaction to be found
And you’re not capable about a perfect relationship that I planned for you
You’re never be united with until you are united with me
Exclusive of any desire and longings
I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow me to give you the most thrilling relationship that exist
One that you can even imagine, I want you to have the best, please allow Me to bring it to you
Keep watching me, expecting the greatest things, keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am
Keep learning and listening to the things I tell you
Don’t be anxious, don’t worry, don’t look around the things that other’s have gotten or that I have given them
Don’t look at the things that you want, just keep looking at Me or you’ll missed that I want to show you
And then, when you are ready, I’ll surprise you with the love far more wonderful that you could ever dream
You see until you’re ready and until the one that I have for you is ready
Whom I’ve working for this very minute as I working with you
So to both of you ready at the same time
Until you’re both satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I have prepare for you
You won’t be able to experience the love that is based on your relationship with Me
And this, is “Perfect Love”
And Dear One, I want you to have the most wonderful love
I want you to experience a relationship with me and to enjoy the everlasting beauty and perfection in love that I offer
Know that I loved you utterly
I am Your Heavenly Father, “believe and be satisfied” ^^

Categories: Religion and Faith
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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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“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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butwhy5b65d

Hi!

My name is Karachi and I am here to share with you the wondrously-baffling gospel of Tyler Perry. Ladies, Mr. Perry would like you to know that if you cheat on your God-fearing, hardworking, high school sweetheart husband, you WILL feel the wrath of the almighty. This wrath will come in the form of HIV, which will be transmitted by the most evil man ever – the HIV-positive, craptastic, psycho of a man whom no woman would fall for…unless of course she was a character in a Tyler Perry movie. ‘Cos we all know that women, black women, are just spineless, money-grubbing hos who destroy perfect marriages and are only brave enough to pour a pot of hot grits on an abusive husband when Madea tells us to.

It is QUITE interesting to see how Perry chose to portray HIV-positive people in 2013. It is especially interesting considering that the immigration and travel ban on HIV-positive people was only lifted 3 years ago, and that the International AIDS conference was finally held in the US again after 22 years as a result of this lift. So imagine how it feels, after all this progress, to have Mr. Perry come along with this epic fail of a movie. No seriously, even if you take away the HIV stigma, and the ridiculous characters who must only exist in the alternate universe contained solely in Tyler Perry’s mind, the movie still blows. I am hopeful that Tyler Perry or one of his employees will see this post, and offer me my $10.50 back, along with their sincere apologies for the atrocities inflicted on my mind and eyes.

I tried unsuccessfully, to vlog about this travesty of a movie, but failed. I failed because the entire time I sat there laughing in incredulity or with this expression on my face.

 http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3cLpmZJw6qY/T-HqRUrjyBI/AAAAAAAAC3w/0stx-dLVMtY/s1600/jackie+chan+my+brain+is+full+of+fuck+meme+blank+template+lol+wtf.jpg

It was just difficult to flow from point to point without veering off into head-shaking and other assorted expressions of disgust.

So let’s talk about some of the other things that went on in the movie. Warning, there are spoilers ahead as I have to divulge some of the plot in order to create an understanding of the issues I am discussing.

The main character, Judith, is a young woman who has recently moved to DC with her husband; an equally religious man whom she has known since she was young. She dreams of becoming a marriage counsellor, but is working as a counsellor at a matchmaking agency owned by Vanessa fake-French-accent Williams. One day, a young, rich, handsome, black man comes in (after we have been subjected to Kim Kardashian’s forced acting and God-awful voice) and is revealed to be the founder/CEO/whatever of a social media platform. This man, who is to be known from this point onward as “The Devil”, wastes no time flirting with Judith and pointing out the many inadequacies in her marriage. If I ever met this man in real life, I would take off my shoes and run as fast as possible in the opposite direction because he’s a complete nightmare.

Long story short, the blissful marriage begins to sour when Judith finds that the Devil pays more attention to her, and could offer her a more exciting life. Eh-mah-gerd! Sex that doesn’t happen in a bed with the pillows previously fluffed and with the lights off! It’s a whole new life! Judith’s husband offers her the chance to leave a street altercation unharmed after she has been heckled by a group of young, black men, explaining that they could have had guns; the Devil on the other hand, nearly pummels an innocent cyclist after Judith is injured from running into the bicycle because she was too busy trash talking with her head turned backwards during a run. The Devil also offers creepy possessiveness, calling her at home one night and asking why Judith’s husband doesn’t question who she’s on the phone with. “If you were mine, I’d want to know who you were talking to”. *swoon* Yes, this is on the list of qualities a woman looks for in a man, right next to being watched while asleep Edward Cullen-style.

The icing on this grossly dysfunctional cake was watching the Devil semi-rape Judith on his private plane. I sat in the theater, mouth agape, “Wait! What? There’s MORE?!” He pawed her repeatedly as she protested, asking him to stop. He did stop. And then he said something that nearly shut my brain down because it was so hard to process, “Now you can say you resisted”. And because this is an alternate reality, what followed was passionate monkey sex. Douchetards of the world now have another handy technique for raping women. Thanks Tyler Perry. After all that, what came next was predictable…up to a certain point. Judith leaves her husband, the Devil shoves her mother as she tries to stop her erring child from making a mistake, Judith berates him for shoving her mother, and the boxing gloves come out. Her husband finds out the Devil is HIV-positive and swoops in to rescue her, finding her in a tub looking like she just came out of a match against Gina Carano. In the grand finale, Judith is HIV positive, and comes to pick up her medication from the pharmacy where her husband works, and encounters his new wife and son on her way out. The movie ends with Judith walking down the street, ALONE, going back to meet her mother at church. She dissed Jesus, and she was punished, and she has no other place to go but back to him. Yes I get that the entire movie was supposed to symbolize what Perry deems to be normal gender roles and traditional Christianity.

I have so many questions:

  1. Tyler Perry, what in the world is wrong with you?

  2. Are we supposed to believe that a woman who professionally advised people about their relationships completely failed to discuss the problems in her own marriage and vaulted over to the Devil’s side after he bought her roses for her birthday, noticed her new hairdo and took her on a private jet?

  3. What is wrong with you?

  4. Why does no one discuss the Devil’s mode of infection? The status of his health? The fact that this is ignored makes HIV-positive people out to be even more reckless. In this portrayal, they are either uncaring of their effect on the people around them or just plain evil and intentionally infectious. HIV is NOT a form of punishment and HIV-positive people live full, happy lives unlike what you would have us believe.

  5. I believe I’ve asked this before but, what is wrong with you Tyler Perry?

  6. Why are all the strong, educated and successful black men in your movies always so greatly flawed when it comes to personality?

  7. Do you hate women?

 

If you are looking for a truly horrific movie experience, this is it.

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Tennessee state lawmakers decided to pass a resolution this week.  Before I tell you what the resolution was, let me give you a quick background on how Tennesee deals with its social issues.  The bills that have been introduced in this state include: school prayer, fines on students who have saggy jeans, public displays of Christianity’s Ten Commandments, public access to the names of doctors who provide abortions, and the most “popular” is the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill which would prevent teachers from ever discussing homosexuality.  Tennessee has also pushed the education system to teach the “controversies” of evolution and climate change.  This state has also made an attempt to deal with its high teen pregnancy rates by restricting discussion in sex education, in fear that a truly comprehensive lesson might be arousing to the teens.

The latest endeavor has the state of Tennessee set to celebrate “Traditional Marriage Day” on August 31st, after passing a resolution to dedicate such an observation on the date.  Gay rights activists are pushing against this measure.  They declared that August 31st should be called “Tennessee Marriage Equality Day” instead.  Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project suggested that these two different advocate groups have similar goals.  He was quoted saying, “We’re not opposed to traditional marriages, but we believe traditional marriage is for everyone.”

Now in the “Traditional Marriage Day”’s defense, advocates for the measure claim that the day is merely about pointing out the economic benefits of getting married, hoping that more couples would be encouraged in doing so.  It surely has nothing to do with stigmatizing and railing against marriage equality.  No, of course not.  Yet the official written resolution itself quotes the Christian Bible and in a clear statement says that marriage is to be “expressed only between a man and a wife.”

This is strange.  If “Traditional Marriage Day” was simply about encouraging couples to get married and enjoy economic benefits, then why should same-sex couples be prohibited from doing the same?  And isn’t every day pretty much Traditional Marriage Day then?  I mean, especially in Tennessee where a state constitutional amendment was passed in 2006, banning marriage equality.  This measure was supported by 81% of voters and since then, Tennessee has seen little progress on this issue.  But activists are still fighting.

 Check out the Tennessee Equality Project’s Facebook page and proclamation!

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So far, I have refrained from blogging about the Boston Marathon bombings lest I explode into a ball of fire from the rage I feel. It’s always interesting to see the way that mainstream media latches onto stories about tragedy. Before it’s all over, the story has been told one million different ways, with everybody and their mother having been invited to weigh in. I kid you not, last Friday, every time I tuned the radio to NPR, someone was spouting some kind of analysis or the other. It’s always the same – “experts” postulate, and close friends and family talk about how the perpetrator was someone who could never have done whatever it is that was done.

 

In the case of the Tsarnaev brothers, take away the death and injury, and it’s almost funny to see how confused America is as to how to treat them. The way things usually go is that people of color, no matter whether they are actually victims in the situation (*cough cough* Trayvon Martin), are portrayed as “thugs”, while their Caucasian counterparts are always the quiet, awkward, friendless young men who are subsequently proven to be mentally imbalanced in cases. Yeah, he didn’t have any friends so he decided to shoot a theater full of people whose only crime was wanting to see the new Batman movie.

 

On one hand, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is, for all intents and purposes, a Caucasian fellow. He is also an American citizen. Logic dictates that this case would be treated as an instance of domestic terrorism. But on the other hand, there are rumors of Muslim involvement, and he is also brown-looking, so this must be an international crime against America right? At least that’s the way the public is reacting to the media coverage. People danced in the streets with the American flag the way that they danced in front of the White House when Osama bin Laden was reported dead. The media is constantly highlighting any possible ties to Islam, because somehow that makes it all much more justifiable. Do you see how Islamophobia is constantly being bred?

 

Tarring all people who fit in a specific category with the same brush is what leads to situations like an innocent woman being harassed in the street and blamed for the bombings simply because she was wearing a hijab. Let us not forget the false accusations leveled by Redditors against missing Brown University student Sunil Tripathi. Usually I love the internet because of its bountiful provision of Corgi photos, but stuff like this makes me wish I could take away internet privileges from some of these really ridiculous people who think it’s ok to sit in judgment, protected by the afforded anonymity of teh interwebs. Seriously, if I was the parent of one of those wanking, racist kids on Twitter, spouting ignorance, he/she would have the fear of Cthulhu put into him/her…and also wouldn’t be able to sit for a month.

 

Seriously, people. Stick to your day jobs and leave the policing to the actual judiciary system. Also, stop being so racist and judge people for their actual crimes rather than their religion or where they come from. If every ignorant thing said about groups of ethnic minorities were true, according to Oprah, I’d be a criminal regardless of my level of education (Ask me again why I have no respect whatsoever for that woman).

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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.

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Virginia’s New Anti-Choice

Restrictions Will Force 40-

Year-Old Abortion Clinic To

Close This Weekend

 Last week, Virginia’s Board of Health voted to finalizeunnecessary regulations that will force many of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. Those new restrictions — which are known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws — are already having their intended effect. Hillcrest Clinic, which opened to the public just nine months after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion services, will be closing its doors this weekend.

READ MORE HERE.

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If you haven’t heard already, the law makers in North Dakota are pushing for another anti-choice bill.  This time it’s an abortion ban on the basis of personhood.  If passed, this would effectively give fertilized eggs all the rights of U.S. citizens.  And it would cut off abortion care completely.  Beyond abortion this bill would also charge doctors who damage embryos in any way with criminal negligence.  It also prevents doctors from being able to perform in vitro fertilizations.  Now you might be thinking an unconstitutional bill like this couldn’t possibly get passed by Senate or the House, but it did.  Shockingly, it passed the House by a vote of 57-35 and it’s currently making its way to the Governor’s desk.

The state’s recent six-week abortion ban is already in direct violation of Roe v. Wade and will bring about several legal costs for taxpayers when challenged.  This next measure of a total abortion ban will surely cause North Dakota to face the same results, costing the state more than they bargained for.  And how will they pay for these litigations?

During a recent debate between Senator Margaret Sitte and Dr. Kristen Cain about the abortion restrictions and pending abortion ban, Senator Sitte accidentally lets something slip.  When asked if these bills will cost taxpayers possibly millions, Senator Sitte unintentionally admits that there are outside interests behind the unconstitutional abortion bans who are willing to spend those millions to make sure people in North Dakota will not have access to reproductive healthcare and rights.  Watch as Senator Sitte tries to lie her way out of it.

Watch the debate between Senator Sitte and Dr. Cain!

This abortion ban won’t be a law until Governor Jack Darlymple of North Dakota signs it, and it’s unclear if he will or won’t.

To contact Governor Jack Darlymple:

Office of Governor

State of North Dakota
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505-0100

701.328.2200: phone

701.328.2205: fax 

 

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5 Serious Consequences Awaiting North Dakota If Republicans Ban All Abortions Under ‘Personhood’

Two personhood bills — Senate Bill 2303 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 4009 — have already passed the Senate, and the GOP-controlled House is expected to take them upsometime this week. But if North Dakota successfully enacts a total abortion ban, there will be serious consequences for the state that extend even beyond women’s reproductive freedom. Here are five ways the state will suffer under personhood:

1. There will be fewer doctors in the state available to provide medical care. In a historic move for the North Dakota Medical Association, the nonpartisan organization has come out againstpersonhood. The group points out that the anti-abortion measures go too far to “interfere with the physician practice,” and they suspect it will be harder to find qualified medical professionals willing to practice in North Dakota if the state imposes so many complicated restrictions on doctors. Some doctors have already testified before state lawmakersto say they will leave North Dakota if the abortion bans pass.

2. Maternal health care will be compromised. Doctors could becharged with criminal negligence if anything happens to an embryo — which could prevent them from making quick decisions that could help save women’s lives. The tragic case of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died after being denied an abortion in a Catholic hospital because her doctors were reluctant to provide care that could get them in trouble with the law, highlights the serious consequences of state lawmakers coming between a woman and her doctor.

3. Women could be forced to resort to illegal abortion procedures.Under a personhood law, women will end up resorting to dangerous “backroom” abortions, one former pediatrician warned North Dakota lawmakers last week. That Fargo-area doctor did his medical training before Roe v. Wade, when women were dying of bacterial infections after botched abortion procedures — and he warns that the passage of the proposed personhood measures would pull North Dakota back into “the stone age of medicine.” There’s evidence to back up that claim. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the legality of abortion hasabsolutely no correlation to abortion rates around the world, because women will continue to seek to terminate pregnancies regardless of the law.

4. Women won’t be able to use in vitro fertilization to try to have a family. Ironically, in addition to compromising medical procedures for the women seeking to terminate a pregnancy, personhood measures also place restrictions on the women who are trying to get pregnant. “These bills will stop the practice of in vitro fertilization in this state,” Dr. Stephanie Dahl, an obstetrician-gynecologist and reproductive medicine specialist in Fargo, explained to lawmakers. Doctors wouldn’t be able to perform any procedure that carries the risk of damaging some embryos, so women would be forced to travel to South Dakota or Minnesota for in vitro treatment, a six-week process that requires multiple sonograms and up to 12 visits to the doctor.

5. The state will become embroiled in expensive lawsuits. North Dakota’s six-week abortion ban already runs afoul of Roe v. Wade, and will certainly invite several costly legal challenges. A total abortion ban would lead to similar consequences. Two personhood bills were recentlystruck down in Oklahoma, suggesting that the courts won’t take kindly to North Dakota’s push to restrict women’s constitutional rights, either. Nevertheless, even the self-proclaimed “fiscally conservative” Republicans in the state are willing to defend their abortion bans on the state’s dime.

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/03/19/1738321/north-dakota-suffer-personhood/

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“To be clear, reproductive justice is not a label—it’s a mission. It describes our collective vision: a world where all people have the social, political, and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions about gender, bodies, sexuality, reproduction, and families for themselves and their communities. And it provides an inclusive, intersectional framework for bringing that dream into being. Reproductive justice is visionary, it’s complex, it doesn’t fit neatly on a bumper sticker, and it has a lot to teach us about how to be successful in a changed and changing world.”

— Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and Kierra Johnson, Beyond Choice: How We Learned to Stop Labeling and Love Reproductive Justice

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vatican-black-smoke-pope

The secretive election process to select the next Pope officially began on Tuesday at the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

To those watching in the Vatican Square, the results of each vote are announced by smoke that emanates from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. The smoke is black if no pope has been elected. White smoke means a new Pope.

According to “The New York Times’” the chimney is connected to two stoves inside the chapel, one stove burns the paper ballots of the Cardinals after the votes are counted. While the other stove releases either white or black smoke, which combines with the smoke from the burning paper ballots before it comes out of the chimney. The conclave uses cartridges filled with different chemicals to produce either white or black smoke.

The practice of using chemicals to color the smoke began in 2005, but until now, the Vatican would not say what those chemicals were.

However the Vatican has revealed what the smoke signals emerging from the Sistine Chapel chimney are made of, after the stir caused by how much more distinct the black smoke in this conclave has been compared to the past.

The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the black “fumata”  was made by adding cartridges containing potassium perchlorate, anthracene (a component of coal tar), and sulfur to the burned ballots.

While the white “fumata” is a mixture of potassium chlorate, lactose and chloroform resin.

Prior to 2005 the black smoke was obtained by using smoke black or pitch and the white smoke by using wet straw.

The Vatican is burning the flares following confusion in past conclaves about smoke color. Lombardi said that neither the chapel frescoes nor the cardinals inside suffered from the smoke.

A two-thirds plus one majority were required to elect the Pope. The whole process was extremely well-guarded. The Cardinals were completely cut off from the outside world, locked inside the Sistine Chapel until a decision was made. No TV, radio, newspapers or texts were allowed.

When the Pope Francis was chosen, the white smoke arose from the chapel, the bells of St.Peter’s Basilica rang, as they did in 2005 when Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was elected..

This year, it was the French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon, who stood on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to shout “Habemus Papam!” (“We have a pope!”). He presented the new pope, who was in white papal cassocks. Pope Francis gave his first blessing as pope on the 13th of March 2013.

Categories: Religion and Faith
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Malala Yousafzai is the youngest nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize ever.

In her hometown, the Taliban banned education for women.  Malala Yousafzai started writing under a pen name for BBC when she was around 11 or 12 years old, describing the inequities.  She appeared on television, has done interviews, has done whatever she could to promote her beliefs, that everyone has a right to an education.  Now she’s known as an activist for education and women.

This comic serves as a short summary of what Malala Yousafzai is internationally known for: her courage.

[source: watermarked in image]

From a simple Wikipedia search:

On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus.[17] In the days immediately following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition,[18] but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to a hospital in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation. On 12 October, a group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā against those who tried to kill her,[19] but the Taliban reiterated its intent to kill Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin.[20]

Former British Prime Minister and current U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a United Nations petition[21] in Yousafzai’s name, using the slogan “I am Malala” and demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. Brown said he would hand the petition to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in November. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has announced that 10 November will be celebrated as Malala Day.[22]

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Unethical, Cruel, and Likely Illegal: Anti-Choicers Make Family’s Tragedy Public Without Their Consent
Anti-choice activist Jill Stanek recently published online the name and photo of a woman who passed away following a late abortion at the Maryland clinic of Dr. Leroy Carhart. The name and picture of the woman, I’ll call her Marie, along with information about her job, marriage, and pregnancy were soon all over the internet. Protesters plastered Marie’s picture on signs and marched outside Dr. Carhart’s clinic and held a “vigil” outside the emergency room where she was treated. Internet commentators characterized Marie’s husband, parents, and sister, who traveled with her from out-of-state for the three-day procedure, as everything from bad Catholics to killers. Beyond being immoral, unethical and unbelievably cruel, making the family’s tragedy public without their consent was likely illegal.
-See more at: http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/02/28/unethical-cruel-and-likely-illegal-anti-choicers-make-familys-tragedy-public-without-their-consent/#sthash.qKSJmEww.dpuf

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The Arkansas Legislature has approved the earliest abortion ban in the nation.

And it’s now up to Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to decide what to do next. If he vetoes the bill, his veto could be overridden by a simple majority in the Republican Legislature as it was earlier Thursday on a similar 20-week abortion ban bill.

The Arkansas Senate gave final approval Thursday morning to the Human Heartbeat Protection Act, which would ban abortions at 12 weeks into pregnancy if a heartbeat is detected, with exceptions for cases of rape or incest, to save the life of the mother or for a lethal fetal condition. The bill now goes directly to Beebe.

Through “fetal pain” laws, other states have begun approving abortion bans at around 20 weeks into pregnancy — such a ban became law in Arkansas with the veto override early Thursday — but this bill would go further, turning Arkansas into the only state to ban abortions that early in a pregnancy.

Abortion rights groups immediately urged Beebe to reject the bill. “This extreme legislation would insert politics into women’s personal medical decisions, and we urge Gov. Beebe to veto it immediately,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

“Lawmakers in Arkansas are placing women’s lives on the line by passing the most severe ban on access to safe, legal medical care this country has seen in recent years,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

In vetoing the 20-week ban on Tuesday, Beebe said the bill violated Supreme Court precedent that establishes states cannot limit abortions before viability. That was one of 10 “fetal pain” laws that have been enacted in 10 states, based on the assertion that the fetus can experience pain after 20 weeks. Cases have been filed against such laws in Arizona and Georgia.

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/arkansas-legislature-passes-12-week-abortion-ban-88245.html

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This is a post by a fellow blogger called BrashBlackNonBeliever.  These are her words and feelings about how “pro-life” advocates use PoC, specifically Black women and children, to further their agenda.  Some of it will be edited for language censorship.

http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/43324196733/brashblacknonbeliever-i-am-beyond-fucking-sick

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  1. What America Hasn’t Learned 70 Years After Japanese Internment (Colorlines) – February 17th marked “the 70th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced internment of more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans who lived along the West Coast. The order came after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the wake of the attack, Japanese-Americans were immediately cast as a threat too dangerous to be allowed to live freely.”
  2. a hijabi can…be a figure skater (Hijabican) – the first-ever hijabi figure skater.
  3. A Conversation With Rihanna’s Hair Stylist Ursula Stephen (HuffPo) – A really important article about the significance of black hair. It also makes Rihanna kind of a progressive badass.
  4. the bad dominicana: On importance and substance (Tumblr) – “Journalists” are stealing from bloggers on Tumblr and refusing to acknowledge said bloggers as credible sources. Whoa!
  5. A school somewhere in the US tried to pull a sexist stunt on Valentine’s day and the awsum wimmin smashed it to bits! (Tumblr)

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(See link: http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/42021609348/all-states-except-oregon-now-limit-abortion-access)

The above graph lists all the states and their abortion restrictions.  Although, Roe v. Wade gives people the right to abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey gave states the right to limit access to abortion without posing an “undue burden.”  Even though the World Health Organization has already declared that a restriction or limitation of safe, legal, and accessible abortion leads to a decrease in health for people, specifically women (although we all have the understanding that it’s not just women who are affected by this).

Some states have less than a handful of clinics that can even provide these services and some states simply have unreasonable restrictions that prevent people from getting the healthcare they need.  This forces people to travel, sometimes out of their means, to get an abortion.  Others seek more dangerous options.  Until this changes, there are some things that are helping people right now.

There is a particular page that I have been supporting on my own site (ST*U, Pro-Life) called the Abortion Assistance Blog.  This is how it describes itself:

A collection of abortion funds, individuals willing to provide transportation and/or lodging before and after your appointment, and other resources.

This blog is intended to be a resource for people of all genders, races, sexualities, and abilities. If you are offering help, but not willing to help someone based on one of those categories, please say so. Everyone deserves to be safe and supported.

This blog has several links, providing help and information.  It lets readers know how they can help or where they can find help.  Many people go on the blog leaving contact information or simply letting others know that they could provide transportation, lodging, or monetary support.  I recommend to everyone to check it out and share.

It’s just not enough to just say that we support reproductive/sexual health care and rights anymore.  It never has been.

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For those who are not really sure where Lebanon is located, it is on the east coast of the Mediterranean and is bordered by Syria (north and east) and Palestine/Israel (south). It is in the Middle East so feel free to assume that all the homophobia one expects to find in that part of the world holds true for Lebanon too. Or maybe not.

 

I have decided to dedicate this blog to discuss the LGBT reality in Lebanon because this country is very dear to me. To start, there is really just one law that holds the Lebanese LGBT community back. Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits having sexual relations that are “contradicting the laws of nature,” which is punishable by up to a year in prison. The law is rarely applied, as it depends on the personal views of the respective judge regarding homosexuality, but still serves as a threat. More often than not, people who are arrested are arrested for drugs or prostitution instead, and their main worry is being outed to their family. The Lebanese society at large suffers from a rampant homophobia, which is mostly based on religion (mainly Christianity and Islam) and culture (Arabic, patriarchy, traditional, conservative, etc).

 

That notwithstanding, there is a lot of hope for the new generation, as younger people tend to have more neutral or even positive attitudes towards homosexuality. Exposure to [Western] pop culture and access to Internet more or less demystifies the invalid homophobia society instills in people from the day they are born. Moreover, Lebanon also enjoys an “underground” LGBT movement. There is a number of LGBT publications, such as Barra (Out in Arabic) which is the first gay periodical in the Arab world, and Bareed Mista3jil, which is a female LGBTQ short stories book that is gradually gaining more of an international acclamation. In addition, there is number of organizations working to promote LGBT rights, such as Helem (Dream in Arabic), which also stands for Lebanese Protection for Homosexuals (not formally recognized by the government), and Meem for LGBTQ women (formally recognized as a feminist organization sans LGBT focus).

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  1. Ten Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started My Transition – Annika Penelope, a Trans Issues contributor at Autostraddle, writes a personal essay about some of the things she has experienced during her MTF transition.
  2. Al Roker Slams ‘Small Minded Idiot’ for Insulting Melissa McCarthy – Film critic Rex Reed wrote an irrelevant review of “Identity Thief”, choosing to be sizeist instead of providing an actual review. It’s so rude no one can believe he thought he’d get away with putting all that vitriol out in public space. Al Roker, like many of us, thinks Rex Reed can shove his review up his you-know-what. Well done sir! Well done!
  3. Uh, Yes, Franca Sozzani, Racism is a Problem in Fashion – Vogue Italia puts an Asian model on it’s covers for the first time. Apparently, the US and UK editions are yet to do this as well. Also, editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani doesn’t think the fashion industry is racist, but has advocated for the inclusion of more women of color in fashion. Her magazine is also responsible for this highly offensive spread which some people tried to explain away as “Racist in America but not in Europe”. What? Grrrrrrrr!
  4. Taylor Swift Grammys Performance: Pop Star Sings ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ To Open Show – All comments about this would be fueled by exasperation and followed by hyperventilation so I won’t even go there. What I will say is, “What are you, five?”. She is welcome to all the seats on the planet and more. Ugh!
  5. Farewell to an Uninspiring Pope – NYT Op-Ed Contributor, John Patric Shanley, writes about the gender inequalities within the Catholic Church and how it will lead to a sorry fate.

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Last weekend, I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending the twenty-fifth Creating Change conference. For those who are not familiar with Creating Change, it is the biggest national conference on LGBT equality in the US and receives over 2,000 attendees each year. The conference is organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which is an American nonprofit organization with the mission to build the grassroots power of the LGBT community. Creating Change takes place over a long weekend during which sessions are held to explore various issues that face the LGBT community. This year was my first time attending this conference as I was there to represent Advocates For Youth’s International Youth Leadership Council (IYLC) and my country. Thus, I was part of a panel entitled, “U.S. Foreign policy, queer activism, and The Global Human rights movement: Tensions, Trials, and Opportunities.” As its name indicates, the panel looked into the relationship between LGBT advocacy in the United States and the realities of queer activism in the developing world. We had a great turnout of over 75 attendees and the discussion was engaging and informative to all.

That notwithstanding, the highlight of my time at Creating Change was listening to Bishop Gene Robinson and meeting him in person. Robinson is an American retired bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire and is widely known for being the first priest in an openly gay relationship to be consecrated a bishop in a major Christian denomination. Robinson has done and is still doing a lot to advance the LGBT movement. As a Christian myself, I had a hard time growing up and accepting homosexuality without “betraying” my Christian upbringing. For a long time, I thought Christianity and homosexuality are mutually exclusive. Thus, my spiritual journey was a challenging one, as I had to alter my beliefs to fit both identities together. At Creating Change, Robinson added the cherry on top by explicitly stating how one can be both Christian and LGBT at the same time. To do so, he reminded us of a line in the Bible that reads, “I still have a lot to say to you, but you cannot bear it now. Yet when the Spirit of Truth comes, he’ll guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). According to Robison, the Bible is telling us, “Don’t think for a minute that God is done with you. You will do amazing things later. The Holy Spirit will lead you to all truths.” For him, this is an exciting view of God. “God didn’t say all He wanted to say to us by the end of the scriptures.”  He has left a lot out, which shall be revealed to us with time.  For example, Robinson believes that the end of slavery, the recognition of people of color and the recognition of women are all examples of the Holy Spirit’s work in human history. This is exactly what President Obama alluded to in his inauguration speech when he mentioned Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall. Therefore, it is only fair to believe that wide recognition of LGBT rights is on its way. Moreover, it is more than possible to achieve it through God’s work, as the Holy Spirit’s job is to bring us to new truths. In the words of Robinson, “there is something comforting about believing that God is still revealing himself to us.” God did not say all He wanted to say in the scriptures. He did not say, “that’s it I’m done, I’m off to the Bahamas [for a one-way holiday]!”

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Roe v. Wade guaranteed abortion as a legal right across the country. A separate decision two decades later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, guaranteed states’ rights to limit access to abortion, so long as it did not pose an “undue burden” on the woman.

States have, over the past four decades, made no short use of that latter right. Only one state, Oregon, has not layered additional restrictions on top of the Roe decision. At the other end of the spectrum is Oklahoma: With 22 abortion restrictions, it has more than any other state. The chart below, courtesy of Remapping the Debate, has the full list. You can also gohere for an interactive version of the graphic, which will let you look at what type of restrictions each state has set.

SOURCE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/31/all-states-except-oregon-now-limit-abortion-access/#

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Text message conversation:

Friend: Becca!

Me: Haaaaaaaay!

Friend: What up!

Me: Chillin. You?

Friend: I gotta talk to you but I’ll text you in a bit….

oh man. this might be big.

Friend: Yo!

Me: What’s up ma?

Friend: Nothing what up?

Me: How was school?

Friend: Good!

Me: Thassssssswhatsup!

Friend: Fo sho! So Umm I gotta talk to ya…

breathe, Rebecca, breathe.

Me: What’s up?

Friend: So umm I kinda need something… From you..

Me: What?

Friend: Lol… Take a guess.. “be protected”

Me: For you?

no, Rebecca, for her cat. of course it’s for her. get it together!

Friend: Mhm.. Lol

Me: Is this something you want?

Friend: Not that I want, I need it. “stay protected” lol you have them…

Me: Yes I know, but have you and _____ talked about this? And have you had time to think about what you want?

Friend: Yes

Me: Okay, I had to ask. I trust you and I’m glad you asked me. Is there a certain time you need it by?

Friend: I don’t need it soon. Whenever you can (:

Me: Okay, well I want to make sure you have them for protection when and if you need them. I assume you haven’t talked to your mom about this?

why, Rebecca? why are you making assumptions? have you learned nothing from your social work classes??

Friend: We’ve had the “talk.”

Me: Ight lil’ ma. If you have any questions just ask

Friend: Ight I will (:

aww.

This was a conversation between a friend and I from a couple of weeks ago. If you can’t tell by the coy wording, we are talking about condoms and sex. Looking back on the conversation I wish I would have just said condoms and sex instead of “it.” What can I say? I was caught off guard. I have known this friend of mine all her life. She is a special person to me, and I consider her to be a little sister, especially since I don’t have any younger siblings. I have always been very open and honest with her, hoping that she would return the favor by trusting me, and I’m glad she did.

Back when I first began my activism with sex education and sexual health, I asked my middle/high school aged cousins and friends about the type of sex ed they were receiving in school. Some were a little embarrassed and tried to laugh my questions off, while others were straight forward and told me that they don’t remember learning anything, but that so and so was pregnant and had to leave school for a bit. No matter which way the conversation went, I always ended it with something like this, “I just want you to know that I will always be here for you, if you ever need anything. I’m in college, and I remember my years in high school; I know sex happens. I can’t tell you how to live your life, but I can tell you this, if you choose to have sex you should respect yourself and your partner by using protection.” I didn’t want to come off as preachy by telling them what to do, but I wanted to get a message across.

When I started having sex I had no formal education and had to research everything online. You can imagine how amazing that process went. I feel that I knew more than some of my peers because I knew that you could get pregnant “even if he pulls out,” and that you can’t get pregnant by having oral sex. However, I didn’t know that oral/anal sex are still sex, so condoms should still be used.

I have always had a great relationship with my parents, but in high school I was scared to talk to them about sex. Growing up in a devout Catholic household might have that effect. I wasn’t scared of them, but I didn’t want them to judge me or get angry. I didn’t know how to approach them. Now, things are much different. My parents are very much aware of the work that I do, and they respect me for it. While there is one particular issue we don’t see eye to eye on (I’m pro-choice, they are pro-life), we still respect each other and love each other. I often joke with my mom and tell her we will probably run into each other at a rally but will be on opposing sides. She rolls her eyes and responds with something like, “estas loca,” and I tell her to pray extra hard for me.

I love my parents, family, and friends. I’m glad that my relationships are always strengthening and growing thanks to the big questions and conversations that allow for both parties to gain trust. These conversations are important, not only for the obvious reasons like preventing pregnancy, STI’s, or HIV, but also to have healthy relationships with the people you love or care about.

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laci-green-on-abstinence1-480x244

Let the record show that this U-DGurl is in absolute LOVE with Laci Greene!

I am literally watching her video on “A is for Abstinence” and I think it’s such a great thing to do for those who need (and may not need) to be informed about abstinence and making the choice

She’s funny and so real…did I mention funny, too?

I do wish there was a Laci Greene symbol back in my high school days. So many girls grew up, confused about the changes in their bodies, confused about their desires and the world they lived in that seemed to change after they discovered two weird things growing on their chests. And what towhere telling you was worse, the “grown ups” we turned to made it their duty to give developing girls and growing boys the most untrue and confusing information possible. Either that, or they made you feel guilty about know what was happening to your body. It’s Yours! It’s your duty and privilege to know as much as possible about your body, your likes and so on without anyone, anywhere telling you that it’s wrong and sinful to.

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Beggars:

1. One who solicits alms for a living.
2. An impoverished person; a pauper.

- thefreedictionary.com

Begging, is all around me. In Nigeria I mean, not literally around me, trailing me, holding me down with entreating eyes and dirty hands holding my shirtsleeves begging for a few nairas to spare. Alright, that does happen. They are everywhere: by motor parks, along the streets in busy traffic, at the doors to shopping malls, at restaurants looking through the mirror at you – a ploy to make you feel guilty for stuffing yourself with that chicken while they and their children are out on the streets, begging for scarps to live on so they could survive for yet another day…

Sad, I know. True….probably not.

I have often heard, read and even observed that begging, especially in developing countries is something that would be described as a very lucrative business, if for instance, one happened to be without personal shame, had no qualms about exploiting themselves and especially their loved ones to the contempt and pity of society and its dangers, and also, if one happened to be doing it professionally.

How low can they go? How far do they come? These are some of the questions that are answered in full on one’s first visit to Lagos State, Nigeria. This is not to say that beggars are present only in Lagos. From my years lived in Nigeria, I can tell you that so long as it is urban, populated and profitable, the begging masses will materialize from everywhere – including the nations of Chad and Niger Republic.

Life as a beggar is profitable, believe it or not. The more dense and urban the area, the more they appear with their arms stretched out, palms turned upwards begging for your pity and religious piety.

But what about the risks? Yes some of these people do it for profit, the “corporate beggars”, while others do it because they are disabled in a society that largely scorns those with disabilities, children who are homeless and forced to beg to survive and give their earnings to a “master”, women whose authoritative male head forces her to do so – what about the health risks: the attacks and molestation, the kidnappings and assaults ..the murders for ritual sacrifices? They are often vulnerable targets for predatory and manipulative people, pedophiles and ritualists.

Street Medicine is practices by some to help those who cannot afford to find treatment and medication from formal or informal health centers or pharmacies. People like Dr. Uche Uruakpa of the Doctors for Humankind Foundation who I have written about previously on my blog, provides such aid. But he is one amongst few organisations who go out of their way to provide such services for the poor.

In a nation who seeks to reduce sexual and reproductive health risks and diseases in hopes of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, where did we go wrong? How can we improve the health of those who are at risk – the women and children who risk their lives in hopes of garnering the pity of passersby and tourists?

 

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We need to talk about why we’re not talking about Uganda.

A recent report from progressive watchdog organization Media Matters found that despite the hot-button nature of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, cable news networks in America have seriously lagged in covering the legislation. In November, for example, the viral music video for “Gangnam Style” by South Korean rapper Psy received more coverage on CNN and Fox News than Uganda’s attempt to kill LGBT people. In fact, Fox didn’t cover the legislation at all. Notably, MSNBC devoted twice as much airtime to covering the “Kill the Gays” bill as it did to discussing “Gangnam Style.”

from The Advocate

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Political Info and Laws in Brief

Executives

  • Governor Rick Snyder (R) is anti-choice.

Legislature

  • The Michigan House is anti-choice.
  • The Michigan Senate is anti-choice.

ANTI-CHOICE LAWS

Abortion Bans

Michigan bans a safe abortion procedure and has unconstitutional and unenforceable criminal bans on abortion.
Details »

Biased Counseling & Mandatory Delay

Michigan has a partially unconstitutional and unenforceable law that subjects women seeking abortion services to biased-counseling requirements and mandatory delays.
Details »

Counseling Ban/Gag Rule

Michigan prohibits certain state employees and organizations receiving state funds from counseling or referring women for abortion services.
Details »

Refusal to Provide Medical Services

Michigan allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide women specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals.
Details »

Restrictions on Low-Income Women’s Access to Abortion

Michigan restricts low-income women’s access to abortion.
Details »

Restrictions on Young Women’s Access to Abortion

Michigan law restricts young women’s access to abortion services by mandating parental consent.
Details »

Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP)

Michigan subjects abortion providers to burdensome restrictions not applied to other medical professionals.
Details »

PRO-CHOICE LAWS

Contraceptive Equity

Michigan law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide the same coverage for contraception.
Details »

Low-Income Women’s Access to Family Planning

Michigan provides certain low-income women increased coverage for Medicaid-funded family-planning services.
Details »

Protection Against Clinic Violence

Michigan law protects women seeking reproductive-health care and medical personnel from blockades and violence.
Details »

OTHER RELEVANT LAWS

Post-Viability Abortion Restriction

Michigan restricts post-viability abortion.
Details »

83% of Michigan counties have no abortion provider.

*an issue that does not affect *just* women.

Source: NARAL

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The Gulabi gang is a group of women vigilantes active across North India. It is named after the pink saris worn by its members. The group was founded as a response to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women. Gulabis visit abusive husbands and beat them with bamboo sticks. In 2008, they stormed an electricity office and forced officials to restore the power they had cut to extract bribes. The Gulabis have also stopped child marriages and protested dowry and female illiteracy.

Source

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Currupt Culture

I have always found a foreigner’s perspective on the Nigerian society quite interesting and much needed, after all, it often takes one standing on the outside looking in to fully grasp the situation at hand: they are detached and sometimes, not always, tend to have an objective view. Islamist extremists and terrorist cells in the North; Niger Delta militants and independent kidnapping groups in the South; over population, disease, over riding impoverishment of its people everywhere else; and of course, the corruption. We cannot forget about that.

For a nation with boundless human and mineral resources, diverse and fruitful agricultural potential, the nation is sinking into a quick sand of economic and political muck brought about by the rot that corruption has festered for the last 50 years of the country’s existence. As I write, Nigeria is ranked the 143rd most corrupt nation out of 182 in the world. This goes to show, that no matter how a nation is blessed with resources, or anyone has everything they could ever need to succeed on paper, nothing will work unless the people themselves decide to, and follow through to take actions important to succeed.

Growing up in a nation where corruption is the national pastime as the average person’s ambition – and therefore the average politician’s is to take a very sizable chunk of the “national cake”, as it is called, regardless of the consequences on the masses, it is no wonder that that the developed world views Nigeria as a Red Zone. Economic fortunes can be made without a doubt, especially my multinationals, but usually at the price of the people.
How can a nation that claims to be Africa’s Giant boast knowing and participating to spread the rust deep within its core? Status quo or just plain procedure to survive? I do not know. But one thing I have come to understand about human nature and society, is that logic and commonsense are not so common.

But despite the greed, incredible poverty and lack of infrastructure that continues to plague corrupt nations like Nigeria, we should be thankful of those individuals and groups faced with the odds of improving the state of affairs of the people, and the countries in question. These are the idealists, the fighters, those ridiculed and discouraged by even their own leaders who should be examples for young people to look to. They try in the best way, as hard as it is, and trust me, its excruciatingly hard to keep moving when everyone says you can\’t make it, that you are a fool for believing in the good, the development and sustainability of your own nation.

Cultures that thrive on social and economic inequality, gross injustice to the masses and corrupt leaders have a tendency to face uprisings and revolutions and even civil wars. Let\’s hope that the change to a more sustainable society, a more transparent and functioning government shall not involve too much bloodshed.

It is more than obvious that as a nation, Nigeria has a long way to go in terms of sustainability, especially where the sexual and reproductive health of its young people, particularly the women, are involved. Most of it\’s leaders are too busy looting the resources  using its people for their own selfish ends and spending it anywhere but where it\’s needed most; the few who care are focused on other areas of national development. Apparently, issues that concern women and young people in general are much to soft for their tastes.

With hope, hard work and determination (I include them because I know success is not achieved by prayers alone), young people will be the ones to realize that their destinies lie in their hands, and they will do with it what they will.

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Georgia HB 954, also known as “Women As Livestock,” passed.  The bill caught national attention after State Representative Terry England (R) came to the bill’s defense and shared his thoughts a few months ago, “…if farmers have to ‘deliver calves, dead or alive’ then a woman carrying a dead fetus or one not expected to survive should have to carry it to term.”

Because that worked so well with Savita Halappanavar, right?  And we thought the GOP couldn’t be any more openly misogynistic.

At first this bill criminalized all abortions after 20 weeks, regardless of health conditions. After weeks of negotiation the bill was revised in a way that an exemption will be made for medically futile pregnancies or if the health of the pregnant person is in danger.  The revised bill still neglected to make an exemption for pregnant people with mental illnesses.  So, those suffering with mental illnesses will still be forced to continue their pregnancy.  The bill still has no exemptions for rape or incest.

According to Ms. Magazine and the bill itself:

In order for a pregnancy to be considered “medically futile,” the fetus must be diagnosed with an irreversible chromosomal or congenital anomaly that is “incompatible with sustaining life after birth.” The Georgia “fetal pain” bill  also stipulates that the abortion must be performed in such a way that the fetus emerges alive. If doctors perform the abortion differently, they face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison.

And this “fetal pain” bill is just based on this silly notion that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks, even though doctors and scientists keep coming up with new studies that the nervous system of a fetus does not register pain until much later in the third trimester–one of many sources being The Journal of  the American Medical Association.  But whatever point of the pregnancy the fetus feels pain is actually not an issue for me.  Pain, sentience, and/or personhood of the fetus, etc, none of that matters to me in this discourse for reproductive health care and rights.  Pregnant people continue to be erased from this conversation, and I’m done with that.  We need to stop participating in this erasure of people who are actually affected by these restrictions.  The focus of the conversation should always be about choice and the people who can make one.  Actuality should always come before potentiality.  And remember, no one–whether it’s a fetus, a child, or a grown adult–has the right to another person’s body without constant consent.

I post this with the understanding that this issue does not affect only women or all women.  I post this with the hopes that we all continue this fight for reproductive health care and rights.

Sources:
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20112012/HB/954
http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2012/03/31/at-11th-hour-georgia-passes-women-as-livestock-bill/

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Description:

The two sides of the abortion debate in America literally face one another in this documentary from filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. In Fort Pierce, Florida, a women’s heath care center is located at the corner of 12th and Delaware. On the same corner, across the street, is another women’s heath care center. However, the two centers are not in the same business; one provides abortions along with a variety of other health services, while the other primarily offers counseling to women considering abortion, urging them to keep their babies.In 12th and Delaware, Ewing and Grady offer a look inside both offices, as pro-life counselors give women a mixture of concern and disinformation about terminating their pregnancies and the pro-choice medical staff struggles to work under the frequent threat of violence against them. The film also examines the handful of protesters who stand outside the abortion clinic, confronting both patients and staff as they enter and exit.

See the movie: http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/38560890103/because-some-followers-have-asked-about-this-i-am

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Congress Passes Amendment to Lift Abortion Ban on Military Rape Survivors

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, applauded Congress for supporting a provision sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would lift the ban on women in the military using their health insurance for abortion care in cases of rape or incest. Now, the bill makes its way to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

The Obama administration already has voiced its support for lifting the ban on sexual-assault survivors using their health insurance for abortion care.

“Sen. Shaheen and retired military leaders advocated tirelessly to end this discriminatory policy,” Keenan said. “Protecting those who serve our country is an American value. There is no better time than now for President Obama and Congress to remind the country of their commitment to protect and support our servicewomen by signing this bill into law.”

The Shaheen amendment has widespread support ranging from retired military officers to former Secretary of State Colin Powell to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

This ban is one of two unfair restrictions on women’s access to safe abortion care. Looking to the future, NARAL Pro-Choice America also urges lawmakers to repeal the ban on military women using their own money for abortion services in situations beyond sexual assault at overseas military hospitals.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is a longtime leader in advocating for servicewomen’s reproductive rights and has been working with lawmakers and other allies for more than 15 years to repeal this unfair abortion-coverage ban. Nearly 89,000 of the organization’s member activists have taken action to support lifting the ban.

Source: http://stfuprolife.tumblr.com/post/38574104159/congress-passes-amendment-to-lift-military-abortion-ban

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Michigan Politician on H.B. 5711: “This Isn’t about Protecting Women, It’s about Protecting Fetuses!”

H.B. 5711, the Michigan omnibus anti-abortion “super bill” passed last week during the lame duck session of the state legislature, is a hefty 80-odd pages worth of restrictions and regulations on abortions, providers, clinics, and medical practices. It was overwhelmingly passed by both chambers of the legislature, but how many even knew what they were actually voting for?

Emily Magner of Social Work Advocacy Coalition of Michigan, shares a story onEclectablog of her late November meeting with one local legislator, state Senator Howard Walker, who voted in favor of the bill. A bill which as of the end of November he couldn’t even be bothered to read.

e went on to talk specifically about how this bill will harm Michigan women, disproportionately women living in rural areas like ours. After we brought up a few of these points he put up his hands and said that he couldn’t really speak to those topics … he had not read the bill.

In front of him was a one paragraph synopsis I assume was from the Right to Life special interest organization who drafted the bill.

Howard Walker had not even bothered to read it.

We spoke with him for 20 minutes, the whole time he was dismissive, misinformed, and rude. When his handler told him, “5 more minutes,” I told him that I would never ask him to change his beliefs on abortion, I would protect his right to believe whatever he wanted, but I did want him to consider the harmful implications that this legislation would have on women and consider his ethical obligation to his field to leave his personal views at the door.

Before I could finish my sentence, he waved his hand dismissively and interrupted, “THIS ISN’T ABOUT WOMEN! THIS IS ABOUT PROTECTING FETUSES!”

Republican Governor Rick Snyder has less than two weeks to decide whether he is just as dismissive of women as Senator Walker is or whether he will veto the bill.

Source: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/17/michigan-politician-on-hb-5711-this-isnt-about-protecting-women-its-about-prote-0

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Talking about young people in the part of the world where I come is already a sensitive issue and adding ‘rights’ which is another very explosive issue to this makes advocacy for the placing of youth rights at the heart of development a very difficult but not an impossible task. Behind these words lies the fears, doubts, and optimism of a participant at the just ended International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-Beyond 2014 Global youth Forum (GYF) which held from the 4th to the 6th December 2012.They are also the words that come to my mind whenever I think about this forum and the impact its outcomes will have on the future of young people and therefore our world as a whole. The fruits of the optimism raised and the hopes re-enkindled by the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF not only in the young persons that attended this event but above all in the lives of the millions of young persons that are marginalized, down trodden, and persecuted because of their gender, age, political choices, and sexual orientation, will no doubt become reality as youths irrespective of their social status, religious beliefs, and gender have been empowered and energized by this forum. With most of the recommendations from the ICPD-Beyond 2014 GYF urging governments, international bodies, and civil societies to recognize the rights of all young persons especially the marginalized, suffering and persecuted(the girl child, sexual minorities, rural dwellers, the uneducated) and establish an enabling environment for the potentials of every young person to be unleashed and his/her dreams fulfilled, the forum is ended but has opened an avenue for youths to claim what is theirs and take their places in decision making cycles in their various countries. Enlightened, empowered, and inspired by the passion and enthusiasm I witnessed in Bali, the following words came to my mind in the evening of the 6th of December as the forum ended: ‘What happens when it comes time to part? Well you know how when you’re listening to music from another room and you’re singing along, because it’s a tune you really love, when the door closes, or a train passes, and you can’t hear the music anymore, but you sing along anyway?’ Just like the song described in this scene from the movie, ‘Music from Another Room’, the journey towards achieving youths rights might have begun long ago, Bali marked a new beginning in this fight for the rights of young people in all their diversity to be recognized and respected in the society where they live.

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WHAT THE MICHIGAN ANTI-ABORTION BILL REALLY DOES

SOURCE: http://www.michnow.org/memo_hb5711analysis.pdf

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate now has before it a draconian anti-abortion clinic bill designed to make the
full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care, inaccessible for Michigan women. The bill passed
the Michigan House in June. The most potentially dangerous, expensive, and degrading provisions in HB 5711 would:

REQUIRE DISPOSAL OF “FETAL REMAINS” LIKE A DEAD BODY
– Michigan will become the first state in the nation to
require any woman who seeks an abortion or miscarries to decide how she will dispose of the “fetal remains.”

WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
At 10 weeks: A woman must pay for a funeral home to transport fetal remains and to decide amongst burial,
cremation, or interment. Current law requires the products of conception to be hygienically incinerated.

HB 5711, if passed,
Misleads women into thinking of the fetal issue as a person and abortion as murder.
Traumatizes and shames women at a difficult time and adds unnecessary expense to an abortion.

At 20 weeks: Additionally, either the physician or the coroner must file a Death Certificate, a public record which
may be reported in the local newspaper and remains permanently on file with the State. HB 5711, if passed,
Robs women of their right to privacy and potentially makes miscarriage and abortion public.
STOP DOCTORS FROM PERFORMING ABORTIONS – Doctors who would perform more than five abortions a month in the office (or who meet other criteria) must do so only in a licensed freestanding surgical facility and buy $1 million in liability insurance.

WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Makes providing abortion services prohibitively expensive for doctors so that they will give up the practice.
The requirements for surgical facilities won’t make women safer, the insurance is not currently available in
Michigan and, even if it were, it would likely be prohibitively expensive and make the cost of abortion beyond
the reach of most women. Current laws adequately protect women and should be enforced.

RESTRICT FREE SPEECH IN THE GUISE OF PREVENTING “COERCION” – Doctors must verify that patients have been “screened” about whether they were coerced into seeking an abortion.

WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Makes parents, spouses, and others subject to lawsuits for counseling a woman about making informed
choices, while frightening doctors from providing abortions for fear of legal action.

END THE TELE-MEDICINE OPTION

The new law would prohibit doctors from dispensing safe medication abortions or emergency contraception drugs such as Ella through telemedicine protocols. The bill even requires that medication abortions be performed at a licensed freestanding surgical facility!

WHAT THIS REALLY DOES:
Adds physical and financial barriers that discourage women from exercising their legally-protected rights
without making them any safer.
Makes abortion unavailable to women in underserved areas, which includes more than 83% of Michigan
counties.
WHAT THESE LAWS ALSO DO IS DISCOURAGE GOOD DOCTORS FROM PRACTICING IN MICHIGAN

- Dr. Michael Allswede of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists tes9fied against the bill, arguing that his organization knows the bill will make it harder to recruit doctors to practice in Michigan. Studies show Michigan could lack as many as 4,500 doctors by 2020, and this legisla9on would make matters worse.

Contact your Senator and Governor Snyder and tell them to reject HB 5711.
See www.michnow.org for contact informa2on.

*this does not affect just women

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How The People Who Brought You Curves Are Actually Working Against Women’s Health**

**This issue is not just about women’s health, it’s about every single person who could be affected by an attack on reproductive rights and health.**

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/12/07/1300361/curves-founders-against-womens-health/

The latest filings from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads show a last minute contribution of $1 million received just days before the election (10/29/12) from Gary Heavin — the co-founder of Curves International Inc., which calls itself “the world’s leader in women’s fitness.”

Curves, a chain of women-only fitness center franchises, claims nearly 10,000 locations in more than 85 countries. Heavin and his fellow co-founder, his wife Diane, sold Curves International to an private equity firm in October, but they remain prominently featured on the company’s website. The Heavins say they “share a passion for and commitment to women’s health and fitness.” But his massive donation to the right-wing super PAC is only the latest in a long pattern of their efforts
in support of policies that undermine women’s equality in the workplace and restrict women’s access to health care services.

American Crossroads spent $91 million to elect Mitt Romney over President Obama. Romney refused to endorse key pro-women legislation including the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and thePaycheck Fairness Act, but backed reinstating the “global gag rule” on even discussing abortion as a family planning option and supported the infamous Blunt Amendment to allow employers to deny health benefits that go against their personal views. Crossroads also worked to help far-right extremists like Todd AkinRichard Mourdock, and George Allen. Much of the American Crossroads attack strategy focused on criticizing Obamacare and those who backed the effort to expand health insurance access to all Americans.

In addition to helping fund American Crossroads, the Heavins also combined to give $92,400 to the House and Senate Republican campaign arms, $2,500 to Texas Governor Rick Perry (R), $30,800 to the Republican National Committee, $7,300 to Romney’s campaign, and $2,500 to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in 2012.

And this past election isn’t the only time that Curves and the Heavins have worked against women’s reproductive rights. Gary Heavin pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars for controversial “pregnancy crisis centers” that try to talk women out of abortions and have been accused to providing false information. They also made large donations to abstinence-only education programs — programs which often misinform and make teens more likely to engage in risky behavior and become pregnant. Curves also pulled its funding for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation over its objection to the charity’s funding for Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screening services. In a 2004 editorial, Mr. Heavin attacked Planned Parenthood’s sex education literature, writing “I have a 10-year-old daughter. I would absolutely not allow her to be exposed to this material. I don’t want her being taught masturbation and told that homosexuality is normal.”

That anti-choice and anti-LGBT stance was further demonstrated when Curves partnered with the American Family Association — a group that has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group.” They joined for a 2009 healthy recipe contest and sold a Curves fitness CD on the AFA’s website. Gary Heavin has also been an outspoken enthusiast for televangelist Pat Robertson, who has blamed natural disasters on same-sex marriage equality and blamed 9/11 on abortion, the separation of church and state, and civil liberties groups.

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Michigan Lawmakers Are Trying To Sneak Extreme Abortion Restrictions

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/12/06/1294861/michigan-lawmakers-are-trying-to-sneak-through-extreme-abortion-restrictions-in-lame-duck-session/

Women’s health advocates confirm that Michigan lawmakers are likely to revive on Thursday an omnibus anti-abortion bill that sparked widespread protests after it passed the House this summer, in addition to a host of other restrictive abortion legislation they hope to force through the current lame duck session.

As Michigan’s current attempt to pass anti-union legislation dominates the coverage surrounding the state legislature, lawmakers are using the opportunity to revisit anti-abortion measures they hope to slip through before this session ends. Since five anti-choice state legislators lost their seats in last month’s election, this may be the best time for the legislature to advance their far-right agenda — despite the fact that the majority of Michigan residents support legal access to abortion. On Thursday afternoon, the state senate may consider multiple anti-abortion bills that aim to:

1) Regulate abortion clinics out of existence. HB 5711, the massive 45-page legislation that sparked amassive outcry when the House considered it in June, contains additional and unnecessary regulations for abortion providers. HB 5711 would subject any facilities that perform 6 or more abortions per month to burdensome regulations that could be so costly that they force clinics to close their doors, an indirect method of targeting abortion providers.

2) Limit abortion access for women in rural areas. HB 5711 would also place restrictions on telemedical abortions, which provide essential health services to women in rural areas who often lack any access to nearby abortion doctors. Even though telemedical procedures have been proven to be safe and effective, Michigan lawmakers seek to require doctors to be physically present to administer abortion services.

3) Impose further guidelines for the disposal of fetal remains. Michigan already has regulations in place to instruct medical professions about how they must dispose of fetal remains, but HB 5711 wants to go a step further, requiring fetal remains to be treated in the exact same manner as dead bodies. Doctors would be forced to fill out death forms and make arrangements for the fetal remains’ cremation or burial,imposing an emotional burden on the women whose pregnancies end through a medical miscarriage. No other state handles fetal remains at 10 weeks in the same way as it handles dead bodies.

4) Prevent private insurance companies from covering any abortion services. A trio of companion bills — SBs 612, 613, and 614 — would work together to ban the health insurance exchange that Michigan will set up under Obamacare from covering abortion, as well as ban private insurers from covering any abortion services under their general insurance plans. Currently, 87 percent of Michigan’s insurance plans include abortion care in their benefits packages. If private insurers elect to cover abortions, they have to do it as a separate rider, which often ends up being more costly for women.

5) Allow doctors to refuse to perform abortion services because of their personal beliefs. SB 975, which passed the Michigan Senate’s Health Policy committee earlier this week and is now up for a full vote, is a sweeping “license to discriminate” bill that would allow medical professionals to deny health services based on their personal beliefs. It would allow doctors to refuse to provide HIV treatment, vaccinations, or abortions to any of their patients simply based on their “conscience.”

Preliminary reports from women’s health advocates on the ground in Michigan suggest that the Senate has already passed SB 975, and is likely to pass SBs 612, 613, and 614 this afternoon. But Thursday’s push doesn’t represent the only step that Michigan lawmakers have taken during this year’s lame duck session to push through anti-choice legislation. Just a few weeks ago, state legislators also considered establishing a tax credit for fetuses past 12 weeks’ gestation, a dangerous step toward endowing fetuses with the same rights as U.S. citizens.

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Anti-Choice Senators Block Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty

Sadly, we’ve all grown used to the idea that nothing gets through the U.S. Senate these days without the support of at least 60 senators. Procedural tricks and a misuse of the filibuster rule has ground legislation to a near halt in the years since President Barack Obama took office. But when it came to a vote to ensure that disabled persons have the same rights as anyone else—including the right to avoiding pregnancy or terminating unwanted ones—even 60 votes wasn’t enough.

The Senate voted 61 to 38 to ratify the United Nations Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty, which stated “nations should strive to assure that the disabled enjoy the same rights and fundamental freedoms as their fellow citizens,” according to the Associated Press. The treaty was modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, but anti-choice activists rallied against it, claiming it “sacrifices the most vulnerable—the disabled and the unborn—all in the name of population control,” according to Bradley Mattes, president of the International Right to Life Federation.

Although anti-choice activists claimed concern that the treaty, if ratified, could expand access to abortion and somehow impede their efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, many of those who voted against the measure, such as Utah Sen. Mike Lee, pointed to fear of losing United States “sovereignty” as their reason for opposing the treaty.

Source: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/04/anti-choice-senators-block-convention-on-rights-persons-with-disabilities-treaty

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Another day has come and gone over Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum.But as days come and go, the discussion intensifies and young people are more demanding to their governments, religious and traditional authorities, parents, and society at large.

Universal access to education,inclusive education, relevant education, quality education ,financing and partnerships, as well as ccomprehensive sexuality education were identified by participants at the ICPD beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum participants as being vital for comprehensive education to become a reality in our world and were thus recommended in that other for discussion by the United Nations and possible inclusion in its post-2015 international  development agenda.

Transitions to decent work, and famiies,youth Rights and well being are the themes which were on the discussion table today.These being of course issues which are relevant to every young person irrespective of  where he/she hails, the debate in the plenary was so intense and continued into the various work groups.

During the plenary on transitions to decent employment, it was revealed by the International Labour Organisation’s representative that we now have the highest number of unemployed youths that the world has ever. Also, during this plenary it was disclosed that 1 in 9 young workers in Africa are in the informal sector, 4 out of 10 young workers are working on a temporary basis, and 5 in 10 low paid persons are youths.

Productivity, fairness, and rewarding are the major characteristics of a decent job as defined by the International Labour Organisation(ILO). If one is to go by this definition, one will have no choice but agree with the above statistics. One other area in which there was total agree is on the fact that  stronger families, respect of  youth rights, and the well being of youths are the basis for any society and so for  a world at peace with itself, there was need for these issues to be tackled with maximum care.

According to Mr.Anatole Makosso, the president to the conference of African youth ministers and youth minister of Congo Brazzaville, there exist three reasons for governments to carefully consider the above mentioned issues and ensure that the needs of youths are met: They are the majority, they are the future, they will not identify with any decisions taken without them.

Another day is come and gone,  and the desire for action by youths on the part of their governments has not faultered Youths want to make the Bali declaration not only a declaration but a platform for action. Hear our voices!

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Gaston

What a long awaited and historic day for mankind has today being. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum was officially opened today. In the presence of   close to a thousand participants, Indonesian officials, and  representatives of governments the world over, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive Director , in his speech  decried the  situation in which so many young people, especially those in the global south, live in before pointing  out the importance of this event, and then inviting  representatives of governments and those he termed “Seniors” to look  at the  young people around them and  challenge  how they  relate to them, and then think of how they can release  the potentials of these young people.

Further setting the context of the Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum, the Indonesian minister for people’s welfare, declared that: we believe that a meaningful dialogue is necessary on the means and ways of engaging young people to release their potential. He further emphasized that , young people need to understand the values of life that will make them  stay healthy, be educated, foster family life, actively participate in building the  world they have always dreamed of.

Staying healthy, comprehensive education, transition to  decent work for youth, Families, youth rights and well being, leadership and meaningful youth participation, and realizing youth rights are the themes which will be discussed and recommendations made by the over 650 participants for  discussion and adoption  by the UN member states as one of its post-2015 agenda.

 

Staying healthy and comprehensive education were tackled today in discussion groups (world Cafés) and recommendations made on the former. Access to data, putting in place of an enabling environment for youths by governments, religious and traditional authorities, access to   quality, affordable, and comprehensive health services, and finally  the abolition of laws and policies that   that hinder youth empowerment   are the recommendations that came out from the 15 sort of work groups that brainstormed on this topic. The recommendations on the comprehensive education will be presented  tomorrow, Wednesday December 5th 2012.

It should be noted that the above recommendations were arrived at by participants including representatives of governments, UN agencies, and civil society in a very interactive, safe, and open environment  after attending the plenary session that addressed  the issue of staying healthy for a young person. At this plenary Advocate for Youth’s Meredith Waters acting in her capacity as young person commentator for this theme, declared amid thunderous applause from the audience  that: the Global Youth Forum is a great way to start but not enough. Dr Nafsia Mboi, Indonesian minister of health, answering to questions from the participants declared to conclude the plenary that: Every person, I repeat every person including young people has the right to health.

Good as the speeches may be, world leaders should be conscious that young people are tired of speeches and want to see concrete actions being taken solve the pile of problems in which young people from all part of our beloved world are drowning. World leaders! Take action now or be fired! We are ready for the fight and I assure you we will always out power you; for we are the majority.