Dr. Stuart Bramhall Battles for Tomorrow

The Battle for Tomorrow: A Fable, by Dr. Stuart Bramhall, is a self-published book about sixteen-year-old Ange, a politically conscious girl who struggles to seek independence and identity. Ange encounters both hindrances and help in her journey toward adulthood. An ageist, misogynistic culture hinders her goal of emancipation; unexpected help comes in the form of older women who empathize with and encourage their young friend to explore her own ethics.

Ange encounters many life-changing events in her search for selfhood: date rape, abortion, dysfunctional family relationships, moving to a different city, making new friends and exploring many ideologies through different activist groups. Determined to join the activist movement, Ange also encounters various facets of the judicial system.

Dr. Bramhall spoke with Feminists for Choice about her book.

Why did you decide to self-publish your work? [Read more...]

Teens Beware: Federal Parental Notification Law Introduced

Thousands of minors in the United States become pregnant each year, and many choose to terminate their pregnancies. Indeed, 18 percent of U.S. women obtaining abortions are teenagers, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This statistic indicates not only the reality of unwanted teenage pregnancy but also the legality of abortion, irrespective of age. And yet, despite the legal permissibility of abortion for younger girls, it is not always accessible, thanks to a number of obstacles such as parental consent laws, parental notification laws, mandatory waiting periods, geographic isolation and lack of finances (to name a few).

Parental involvement has long been favored among conservatives as a tactic to reduce minors’ access to abortion. As of December 2010, 35 states require some parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion, be it consent or notification. This has traditionally been a state issue. That is, until now.

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Teenagers, Birth Control, and the Eternal Wisdom of Donna Martin

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article examining the city’s high abortion rate: 41 percent of all pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. Several possible explanations were mentioned, including the absence of mandatory sex education in the city’s public schools and young people’s lack of knowledge about where to get affordable birth control.

The focus on teenagers was interesting, particularly in light of an overall decrease in the number of teenage parents. In New York, the number of teenagers having children has fallen by almost 40 percent since 1996; the number of abortions has decreased by more than 16 percent. These statistics reflect national trends; according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the teen birth rate declined by 6% in 2009 and is now at a “record low.” [Read more...]

Free Abstinence App from Sexy Candies Shoes

Candies Shoes, made famous by their ads showing celebs like Jenny McCarthy sitting on a toilet with her panties halfway down her legs and Hayden Panettiere ‘assuming the position,’ has created an app called Candies Cry Baby that promises an “insta-dose of parenthood!” The app features four short videos of infants screaming their heads off. Once you click on an image of a baby the loop begins and there doesn’t seem to be any way to shut it off. A pretty pink logo then pops up telling you to ‘Pause Before You Play.’

The Candies Foundation, launched in 2001 by head of Candies Neil Cole, is a non-profit organization focused on preventing teen pregnancy. They claim their goal is to influence youth culture by creating ads that feature celebrities youth can relate to like Hayden Panettiere, Beyoncé, Jenny McCarthy, Ashley Tisdale, Hilary Duff, Ashlee Simpson and others. The site claims that teen girls exposed to the foundations and its messages are more likely to view teen pregnancy as negative and to think teens should wait longer to have sex. No studies or statistics are cited.

The Candies Foundation most recent plug for their ‘Pause Before You Play’ campaign features Bristol Palin and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino in a ‘spontaneous’ conversation backstage at Dancing With The Stars about abstinence and safe sex. According to Cole, “In just three days, the video was viewed nearly 1,000,000 times on YouTube.” Quite possibly for its comedic value, but maybe some contraception education snuck in there as well.  [Read more...]

Quick Hit: MTV’s “No Easy Decision” Airs @11:30pm Tonight

Kudos to MTV for airing “No Easy Decision,” its first show about teens who choose to get abortions. After 3 seasons of “16 and Pregnant,” the coverage is long overdue.

Pro-choice advocates will be live-blogging during the program to show their support for the young woman sharing their stories.

Follow the conversation live on Twitter with the hashtags #16andloved, #WMCwatchin, and #provoice.

Become a fan of Exhale’s on Facebook to get daily updates on the campaign:

http://www.facebook.com/ExhaleProVoice

Abortion in TV: Degrassi High and Degrassi: The Next Generation

To quote Gloria Feldt, “Media portrayals, real or fictional, don’t merely inform us — they form us.” In this series, I will be examining five films – classic, mainstream, independent, foreign, and pre-Roe – and five television shows – daytime soap, pre-Roe, drama, critically lauded, and teen-oriented – that address unexpected pregnancy, to examine how past portrayals can influence and reflect society’s view of abortion.

My parents didn’t let my sister and I watch a lot of television when we were kids, which might explain my pop-culture obsession as an adult. One of the few shows that we were allowed to see, however, was a Canadian teen drama called Degrassi Junior High. We lived close enough to the U.S.-Canadian border that the CBC was one of the few stations our TV antenna could pick up, and every Monday evening the entire family would settle in for a half-hour of the finest teen angst north of the border. Degrassi Junior High eventually morphed into Degrassi High, which spawned the current incarnation, Degrassi: The Next Generation, currently airing on TeenNick (formerly known as The N).

Degrassi distinguished itself by constantly exploring dramatic issues in a pretty realistic manner, and the handling of abortion is no exception. There have been two significant storylines involving abortion, one on Degrassi High in 1989 and the other on Next Generation in 2004. Both storylines generated controversy; when the 1989 episode was aired in the U.S., scenes of protestors were edited out and the character’s ultimate decision was left unclear. In 2005, TeenNick refused to air either the two-part abortion episode or the episode immediately following them. The previous year, the network had declined to air Next Generation’s abortion episodes, finally broadcasting them in 2006.

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Abortion on TV: Friday Night Lights

To quote Gloria Feldt, “Media portrayals, real or fictional, don’t merely inform us — they form us.” In this series, I will be examining five films – classic, mainstream, independent, foreign, and pre-Roe – and five television shows – daytime soap, pre-Roe, drama, critically lauded, and teen-oriented – that address unexpected pregnancy, to examine how past portrayals can influence and reflect society’s view of abortion.

The NBC drama “Friday Night Lights” has been drawing critical acclaim ever since it premiered in 2006, but it has struggled to find the wide audience that this show deserves. Set in a small West Texas town where life revolves around high school football, “FNL” follows the lives of a high school coach, his family, and several of the players on the team. The first season alone dealt with infidelity, teenage sex, steroid use, and bipolar disorder – so really, the only surprise around the most recent season’s abortion storyline is that the show hadn’t explored the issue before.

The storyline played out over a number of episodes, and realistically portrayed 16-year-old Becky’s struggle.  Pregnant by a classmate that she liked but hardly knew, and keenly aware of the difficulties her own mother, who had Becky when she was a teenager, had gone through in her own life, Becky had a number of conversations with her mother, the boy involved, a close friend, and her school principal before deciding that having an abortion was the best decision.  Delicately written and extremely well-acted, the storyline served as an important corrective to the glossy, simplified way that teenage pregnancy has long been represented not just in film and television, but in the larger media as well.

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Is There Really a Teen Pregnancy Epidemic?

The second season of MTV’s “Teen Mom” debuted last night. The show features pregnant teens, or young women who have just given birth, and it focuses on their struggles to raise the children while the mothers themselves are still growing into adulthood. The timing of the season premiere could not have been more fortuitous, because an op-ed in today’s Huffington Post seeks to blow the myth of a teen pregnancy epidemic right out of the water.

Choice USA Executive Director Kierra Johnson writes a scathing article, asking pro-choice advocates and policymakers alike to re-examine the way that teen pregnancy is discussed and demonized.

People in every age bracket have sex, get pregnant, have abortions and have children. Sex and the outcomes of sex are not exclusively experienced by teens. Actually, according to the Guttmacher Institute, teens have a lower rate of sexual activity (46 percent) than other age groups, and teens make up the smallest percentage of pregnancies (seven percent, including 18 and 19-year-olds), abortions (six percent) and births (10 percent). The vast majority of pregnancies, abortions and births occur after the teenage years.

So, if people of all ages are having sex and facing the results, why are teen sex and teen pregnancy the problems?

[Read more...]

Happy Friday! News Roundup

dogs in costumesOMG – I love dogs in costumes. I think more people should hand out little dog biscuits with the trick-or-treat candy, because little dogs like Halloween, too, you know.

On the pro-choice front, here’s your Friday click list to kick off the weekend!

When it Rains, it Pours . . . And Then There’s Health Care Reform – San Francisco Gate
Thanks, Abstinence-Only! Teen Pregnancies on the Rise – Feministing
Need a Halloween Costume? Dress Up as the Octomom – Womanist Musings
Justice Ginsburg Hospitalized Again – Voice of America
A Party to the Abortion Wars – Newsweek
Hillary Clinton Tops Obama in Popularity – Newsday

Australian teen faces jail for home abortion

Just when I begin to get complacent about the constant struggle that women face across the globe for reproductive rights, stories like this are thrust into my consciousness, not soon to leave. Tegan Leach, a 19 year old girl from Queensland, Australia and her boyfriend, 21 year old Sergie Brennan face serious jail time for procuring drugs to induce abortion. The couple acquired the drug, a Chinese version of RU-486, from a Ukrainian source, and the evidence used to arrest her were the empty blister packs from whence the drugs came. Although RU-486 is technically “legal” in Australia, a maze of contradictory laws and unclear regulations scare most physicians into refusing to prescribe the drug.

Leach, who chose to terminate her pregnancy because she felt that she was not ready to parent, faces up to seven years in prison for her “crime,” and her boyfriend faces three years for helping her buy the drugs. Upon her arrest, Queensland hospitals began refusing drug-induced abortions, despite their “legal” status. [Read more...]