Sweden – An abomination, or a place where women’s reproductive rights are valued?

Overall, Swedes have a very liberal view when it comes to women’s right to abortion, which is most often mentioned in relation to Sweden being a very secular country. Most Swedes are however happy with this arrangement and believe that everything is a-okay. Well, maybe not everyone, as Edward Pentin has a few chosen words to share (Edward who?). And what better than a quick educational spiel by someone who is not Swedish and seems to know very little about Sweden overall. And why not throw in some biased people to further support your own preconceived notions. Interestingly, Edward Pentin (again, Edward who?), a writer for the Catholic “ZENIT – the world seen from Rome” basically believes that Swedes are an abomination. In his article “Secularism in Sweden: Where Irreligious Trends Leads After Decades”, he points out that Swedes not only support abortion, but that their marriage rates are down, and that they are very accepting of…HOMOSEXUALITY…can you believe it?  [Read more...]

What Are We Teaching Kids About Sex?

Sex education is a constant source of debate in American society. As a proponent for sex education in school, I believe that it is important to teach children not only about contraception, pregnancy, and STDs, but also about sexual orientation, feelings, desires, being ready for sexual intimacy, and love. But with the current focus on abstinence and sex being acceptable only within marriage, teens are expected to delay sex until they are married. And that is exactly what most American teenagers are doing, right? They wait until marriage and they only have one sex partner their whole life? Wrong!

Most American teenagers have sexual experiences during their teenage years, and most have sex before marriage. Therefore, abstinence-only programs are not very effective. So is it not better to teach children how to be prepared, protected, and emotionally ready for sex, so that they can avoid unwanted teen pregnancy, contracting STDs, or having sex with a partner before they are mentally and physically ready?

[Read more...]

Guttmacher Midyear Report Looks at Reproductive Rights Trends and Threats

Earlier this week, the Guttmacher Institute released its midyear report on state legislative trends relating to reproductive rights. A detailed look at all ninety-five new provisions enacted across the country can be found here, but for now, here are some notable points:

  • Attempts to legislate abortion continue, although at a slower pace than was seen this time last year (39 new restrictions have been enacted so far in 2012, versus the 80 that were passed in the first half of 2011). However, these 39 restrictions – fourteen of which were enacted in just three states – represent a higher number than in any previous year except 2011.
  •  Over half of American women, 55%, live in a state considered hostile to abortion rights.

[Read more...]

Maybe Footlooose Was Ahead of the Curve

Earlier this month, Michigan Representative Lisa Brown drew the ire of her male colleagues for using the word “vagina” on the House floor. Her comment, “Finally Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’” was made while the state’s politicians were discussing proposed anti-choice legislation that is considered to be among the strictest in the country.

As Brown recalls, there was no immediate reaction from her colleagues until the following day, when she and Rep. Barb Byrum were informed that Republican House leaders had barred the two women from speaking on the House floor. “Given my speech, I could only assume it was because I spoke to my Jewish values or because I had said vagina,” she writes in an article published last week. “But later that day, Rep. Mike Callton told the press that what I had said was so vile, so disgusting, that he could never bear to mention it in front of women or “mixed company. … Since we share the same religion, I’m guessing he wasn’t referring to my kosher sets of dishes. Even though Callton has a bachelor’s degree in biology and worked as a chiropractor, it was the word “vagina” that did him in.”

Oh those delicate Michigan men, done in by an anatomically correct term! Perhaps they will find sympathy among equally squeamish politicians of Tennessee, who voted this week to bar “gateway sexual activity” yet were unable to verbalize just what that meant. In lieu of the bill’s supporters being able to use their words, critics of the bill – which is intended to promote teen abstinence – have dubbed it the “no hands-holding bill.” [Read more...]

STD Awareness Month: International Roundup

STD awareness month in the USA is the occasion to recall that all inhabitants of the Planet are concerned by STDs. Even if what is at stake can change more or less, depending on the countries, STD awareness stays intrinsically linked to the woman’s condition. There are too many laws which the only purpose is to control human body. Sexual education is a pivot in this awareness: when people don’t receive an appropriate sex education, they are much exposed to STD.

What is at stake:
USA: Sex, Teens and Risk: Conservatives Have It Wrong
Africa: Study Notes Strategies to Lower HIV Risk for Sex Workers
Brazil: Brazil’s economy may be thriving, but its attitude towards children shows it is still lagging behind

Sex education:
USA: Utah’s Abstinence-Only Sex Education Bill is Dangerous for Teens
Asia: China introduces sex education in primary schools

Utah Joins the War on Contraception

Just weeks after California Representative Darrell Issa felt the need to call a special hearing to bemoan the oppression of the Catholic Church’s First Amendment rights–the freedom of religion–Utah Republicans are ready to legislate away another First Amendment right, their teachers’ right to free speech. The Utah House passed a bill, HB363, that would allow schools to ban sex ed and prohibits instruction in the use of contraception by a 45-28 vote. The bill now moves on to the state Senate.

But not to worry, the bill’s sponsor,  Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, “a dairyman“(!), has got the doublespeak down. Perhaps realizing that banning the discussion of contraception (under the guise of forbidding ”advocacy” of its use) might leave educators tongue-tied–and on the brink of a crime spree–if asked a direct question about contraception, he maintained that teachers could respond to students’ questions on the matter. How, exactly, he couldn’t say. The language of the bill states: “An instructor may respond to a spontaneous question as long as the response is consistent with the [bill's] provisions.”

Wright can be added to the ever-growing list of public officials who have gone on the record with their light-years-beyond-the-mainstream belief that birth control is a dodge, an “intellectually dishonest” way of “getting away with” sex. Boldly ignoring the biological truth that even married women aren’t able to get pregnant every day of their married life, he, along with Senator Santorum and the Catholic Church, have decided that sex is for procreation only and that the consequences of unprotected premarital sex aren’t grave enough already. (Apparently the threat of eternal damnation isn’t what it used to be.) Though Wright, like Santorum and the Church, professes to be protecting all of us from the consequences our mainstream “brainwashing” has left us unable to recognize without their intervention, everybody knows the wages of sexual sins are not distributed equally. To be sure, the Mormon influence in Utah may make it harder for an unmarried dad to shirk his parental responsibilities. Still, we all know who gets pregnant and who had to wear that scarlet letter.

There’s reason for hope though, even in this ultra-conservative state. Anyone who has visited Utah over the past thirty years can tell you how much influence the Mormon Church has lost over the state liquor laws. Where there once was no MTV, “16 and Pregnant” airs unmolested. And a Democratic lawmaker from Salt Lake City like Rep. Brian King can fight the self-appointed contraception police and go on the record saying that bills like HB363 make ”reasonable people think we have lost it up here on the Hill.”

New Website and PSAs Focus on Birth Control

Coming in first is usually a good thing – except when, well, it’s not. Case in point: the U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world. And older couples aren’t doing that much better: nearly half of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned.

The Ad Council and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy are teaming up to do something about that. They recently launched a three-year multimedia campaign that address the importance of birth control through a series of humorous PSAs and Bedsider, a new website that’s chock full of information and advice about birth control options.

[Read more...]

Remembering Dr. Robert Kinch

Editors’ Note: This is the first post in our series “A Season of Gratitude.” We’re all grateful for the the work of heroes like Dr. Kinch. To read more articles in this series, click here.

The name Dr. Henry Morgentaler is synonymous with pro-choice in Canada, but Dr. Robert Kinch was also instrumental in securing women’s rights as his colleague. Born in Iraq in 1920, Dr. Kinch immigrated to Canada with his family in 1949 after seeing a billboard advertising “Ontario Wants You.”

Dr. Kinch launched his career as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Toronto. In 1968 he moved to Montreal as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University, eventually becoming chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Royal Victoria and Montreal General hospitals. He was appointed chairman of the Department of Obstetrics of Gynecology at McGill in 1979.

Beloved by his patients, Dr. Kinch delivered thousands of babies while determinedly championing maternal health and the advancement of sexual education.  [Read more...]

Sex in the City

Sex is all over the news up here in New York City, and not just because the newly-wedded Kardashian is divorcing. Between the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recent recommendation that 11- and 12-year-old boys be vaccinated against the Human Papalloma Virus (HPV) and the reaction to the city’s mandatory sex ed program set to begin this spring, even a reasonably polite, mild-mannered adult like myself can be forgiven for thinking about the sex lives of strangers. Even if they’re underage strangers. Hopefully.

Not for the first time, I’m wondering how people manage to do the whole parenting thing. As a licensed therapist once told me, cultures have taboos for a reason. And let’s face it, how many taboos do we have left besides those having to do with S-E-X? I have serious doubts as to how many adults can really have an adult conversation about sex with other adults. So, to put it mildly, I do not envy anyone having to have “the talk” with their kids. But part of parenting—and part of being an adult in a mostly-functioning society—is to put the well-being of the most vulnerable above our own feelings, icky as they may be. [Read more...]

Sex Ed is New in New York?

I like to think I’m the kind of New Yorker Michele Bachmann sees when she closes her eyes and dreams presidentially. So when I heard that New York City was requiring public schools to teach sex-education classes to students from sixth grade through high school, the news to me was that it was news. This is the city that never sleeps, after all. We were talking secession long before Rick Perry made it fashionable, and we have the “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Kerry” buttons to show for it.

My boiling blood returned to room temperature when I learned the majority of public school students in the city had been receiving sex education for years. The real news was that the city was  hoping to exert more influence over the curriculum by making the classes compulsory. To a New Yorker like me, that’s a no-brainer. In the absence of such content controls, students could attend a high school where they could (literally) get their hands on a condom without ever learning how—or why—to use one. (High schools in New York have been distributing condoms for over 20 years.)

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that most every American teen that’s seen a condom application demonstration up close and personal has wished sex educators might find a better less mortifying way. But let’s face it, beyond the very practical life-saving purpose the demo serves, there may be no better visual to convey one of the less popular facts of life: sex can be very unsexy.  And not just because you may have to wrestle with an unruly condom. [Read more...]