Friday News Roundup.

The GOP Unleashes a Horrifying Attack on Women. Alternet.

Nick Kristof: Tussling Over Jesus. New York Times.

Reactions of Nick Kristof’s Abortion Editorial. New York Times.

The GOP Hostage: End Family Planning or Shut Down the Government. RH Reality Check.

Planned parenthood saved my best friend’s life-and not in the way you think.

planned parenthoodI have been hearing more and more stories about people who are protesting Planned Parenthood and how there are still people out there who would like the place closed down. So, I have decided to share a story for everyone to know why Planned Parenthood is needed.

There is a girl, a year older than me. She is my best friend, the one who I would go to any lengths to help (and she would do the same for me). I will call her Marcia in this article (not her actual name). She has a boyfriend who she will be getting married to someday- they are in love with each other. They are sexually active, and I don’t mind, but I am always afraid because even though they practice VERY SAFE sex (at least one form of birth control, usually two) they have faced an extremely scary situation before.

They did it for the first time. And then, a few weeks later, things got weird. She got bad stomach-aches and went to the doctor. Then after doing some tests on her, our doctor told us Marcia had an STD: chlamydia. Fortunately, there is a Planned Parenthood in our town, and she and her boyfriend got treated quickly. And I am so thankful for that. [Read more...]

New poll reveals interesting data about Catholics and choice.

religion_contraceptionI had the pleasure of participating in a conference call with Catholics for Choice yesterday morning to hear about the release of a recent poll the organization conducted about Catholic voters and their opinions on health care reform and reproductive health care coverage.

923 Catholic voters, selected randomly, participated in the poll, and 84% of participants attend church regularly.

Some of the more interesting results included:

  • Catholics were completely split on the question of whether an abortion should be covered whenever a woman and her doctor feel it appropriate, with 50% in favor and 50% opposed.
  • However, participants felt an abortion should be covered when a pregnancy threatens the life of a woman (84%), when a pregnancy was a result of rape or incest (76%), when a pregnancy poses long-term health problems for the woman (73%), and when any test shows the fetus has an seriously abnormal condition (66%).
  • Catholic voters do not believe abortion coverage should cause Catholics to oppose health care reform. 68% do not believe that as a Catholic, you should oppose a health care plan because it includes coverage for abortion.
  • In fact, 68% also disapproved of American Catholic bishops taking the position that Catholics should oppose a health care plan that covers abortions. [Read more...]

Herpes and Safer Oral Sex

dentaldamsDear Lyndsey,

I’ve heard a lot of different things about STDs and oral sex and I don’t know what to believe or listen to. I was about to go down on a newly-made lady friend and she stopped me to tell me that she had herpes, but hadn’t had an outbreak in months. While I’m glad she was honest, but I was confused and didn’t continue my journey south. So, what’s the story, am I safe?

Thanks,
Heading for warmer climates

Excellent question, and I can assure you that you are not the only one who has ever been confused or thwarted below the belt. Hopefully I can help clear a few things up. [Read more...]

Caution: Men at work (demolishing violence)

On Tuesday I posted Jimmy Carter’s brave op-ed distancing himself from the Southern Baptist Convention on the Moral Courage Project blog. The post prompted some interesting dialog on the site. I was particularly struck by the words of Erin:

Although it seems that disassociating with an organization that discriminates against women is the right thing to do intellectually, especially for a man who champions human rights for all, the ability to do so emotionally can be very challenging—impossible for some.

In many cultures boys are brought up to be “tough.” The use of violence and the degradation of women are seen as mere rites of passage, or less. For many cultures and communities teaching boys to disrespect women is simply a part of their upbringing. Few men, even fathers, are willing to go against the grain and teach boys that violence, sexual conquests, and disrespecting women and elders does little to make you a “real man.”
[Read more...]

Feminist for Choice: Ina May Gaskin

inamae_10Ina May Gaskin is a righteous feminist for choice who has spent her life striving to improve women’s health services. Gaskin has not only made significant and historical contributions to the women’s health field, she continues to be actively engaged in the movement to educate both pregnant women and the general public about pregnancy, safe labor and delivery, and societal misconceptions about the childbirth process.

Gaskin received her start in midwifery in a manner that is heavily romantic to a post-modern hippie such as myself. After a disappointing birth experience with her first child, Gaskin and her then-husband moved to California to join its hippie community. It was there that she met Stephen Gaskin, a popular speaker on topics of interest to the growing hippie community. Gaskin and her then-husband became close friends and eventually joined a 50-bus convoy that traveled the country while Stephen gave presentations arranged by preachers about what being a hippie was all about. The convoy eventually founded the famous commune The Farm, and Gaskin become its lead midwife, although her only training was the hands-on training she had gained delivering babies while the convoy was on the road. Wow!

Gaskin authored Spiritual Midwifery in 1977, largely based on her experience working as a midwife at The Farm. The book provides a comprehensive guide to childbirth and includes empowering birth stories from several of the families who birthed at The Farm with Gaskin. One of my favorite things about the book is that it includes the mother’s partner and community as an integral part of pregnancy and birth. When viewing the black and white photographs of The Farm women and their partners (most often husbands at the time) in “hippie” clothing that I would sell my left arm for, I smile to myself and aspire to have a birth experience that will leave my family and I with similarly contented expressions on our faces.
The book introduced an entire generation to the notion of natural childbirth and continues to be studied by practitioners today. [Read more...]

Colorado Abortion Opponents Will Reintroduce Fetal Personhood Bill

Abortion opponents in Colorado lost a major ballot initiative in November when the state’s voters rejected a proposed amendment to Colorado’s constitution that would have granted personhood to a fertilized embryo. Not content to rest on their laurels, abortion opponents will start collecting signatures tomorrow in order to put the same bill on the 2010 ballot.

Colorado Right to Life and Personhood USA say they will submit a new initiative Thursday to the Colorado Legislative Council in hopes of getting the measure on 2010 ballots. Last year, Colorado voted 3-to-1 against a similar measure to define fertilized human embryos as people in the state constitution. . . Abortion opponents say they think they’ll fare better next year in Colorado with better funding and a new campaign strategy. (source)

Voters in Georgia and Oregon have rejected this type of legislation, and the North Dakota legislature rejected a similar bill in February. The intent of these bills is clear – anti-choicers hope that the bills will make an end run around abortion by defining a fetus as a person and endowing the fetus with civil rights. However, Gender Equality Law explains that the effects go far beyond abortion and will have negative consequences for a broad range of reproductive health services. [Read more...]

Pro-Life State Pregnancies End in Fewer Abortions?

The fine folks at fivethirtyeight.com recently ran a piece titled ‘Pro-Life States Have Lower Abortion Rates?’ that utilized SurveyUSA opinion polling and CDC abortion stats gathered from state health agencies’ voluntary reports.  Study caveats:

Some states, like Florida and Louisiana, do not report their abortion statistics, and in other cases — Kentucky’s figures are suspiciously low when compared to Tennessee’s, for instance — it may be subject to various sorts of imperfections……..Also, there is some ambiguity about the number of abortions in a particular state versus the number by residents of that state; for instance, a lot of women in Idaho travel to Washington to get abortions….

Despite these caveats, Silver goes on to describe a strong relationship between the % of adults identifying as pro-life and the % of pregnancies ending in abortions.  I find his reliance on imperfect information cavalier at best and irresponsible at worst.  Towards the end he queries: [Read more...]

Democrats’ Health Care Bill Must Include Reproductive Health Services

uscapitol1Last week the Democrats unveiled their version of the health care reform bill. In a nutshell, the bill would require that all Americans have health insurance and that all employers offer insurance. Medicaid eligibility would be expanded. Insurance companies would no longer be allowed to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Funding for community health centers would be increased. And a new advisory committee headed by the US Surgeon General would standardize insurance coverage.

All of these proposals are important, but none of them would guarantee that women have access to reproductive health services. This is from the Feminist Majority Foundation:

Within our current health care system, women endure serious barriers to proper health care as they suffer higher health costs compared to men and are less likely than men to be eligible for coverage from their employers. According to this fact sheet, there are some major health provisions for women in the draft of the house bill including banning gender rating so women cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions or a history of health problems, which often includes survivors of domestic violence. [Read more...]

Take Action to Protect Choice in New Jersey

Planned Parenthood in New Jersey needs your help. As the state struggles with an unprecedented economic down turn, we must continue to adequately support New Jersey’s family planning services. These programs provide basic health care services to so many New Jersey women and men, many of whom have recently lost their jobs and/or their health insurance.

  • New Jersey’s family planning agencies provide reproductive and other health care services to over 131,000 women and men. The Guttmacher Institute found that more than six in 10 women who obtained care at a family planning center in 2006 considered the center their usual source of medical care.
  • There is a health care crisis in this country. Over one million New Jersey residents are uninsured and over one million New Jersey women are in need of subsidized family planning services. There is not enough funding to meet the existing need and any cut to the program will mean that agencies will not be able serve some women currently receiving services.

If you’re a New Jersey resident, click over to the Planned Parenthood Action Center and sign their online petition to protect funding for reproductive health services.