Thursday, March 26, 2009
Yesterday was Back Up Your Birth Control Day!, a national campaign to raise awareness and increase access for emergency contraception (EC). Emergency Contraception has tons of aliases: it's known as the 'morning after pill,' back up birth control, emergency birth control, and also by its prescription name Plan B. So what is it really? Emergency Contraception is a form of birth control that can help prevent pregnancy after sex. EC can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. It is safe and effective for women, and is not the abortion pill.
But far too many women still don't know what EC is or how to obtain EC. And we've all heard the myths and rumors about EC that make accessing it and using it all the more confusing. That's why this week we're speaking out to increase awareness and access for EC to all women. Around the nation, activists are raising awareness about EC by hosting events, generating public awareness, and providing truthful information to women. Many of Planned Parenthood's VOX groups are hosting events on their college campuses to supply their student bodies with accurate information.
The celebration of yesterday's eighth anniversary of BUYBC Day has been heightened with a recent court decision. On March 23, a New York state U.S. District court ordered the Food and Drug Administration to rescind previous legislation that limited access to EC to young women. In 2006 the FDA agreed to make Plan B accessible over the counter without a prescription, but only to women and men 18 years old and older. The FDA must now extend that guarantee for over the counter access to 17 year olds. The court also ordered the FDA to reconsider eliminating all age restrictions.
This victory is a supportive measure to all women. Many women still face challenges accessing EC, young women especially. The cost poses a financial burden to low income women, some pharmacies and pharmacists still deny women access to EC at the counter, and unsupplied health centers leave students on college campuses without access. And young women? Well, most teenagers today are left in the dark about their rights (like NO - you don't need parental permission to obtain a prescription for EC), reducing their access to emergency contraception.
So take some time to share your voice for the cause. Check out Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Regions' EC Commercial, and visit Planned Parenthood online to find a local clinic where EC is available. Talk to a friend and share the information you know about EC so that all women are aware of their options!
Friday, March 13, 2009
March 10th was National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers. With all the great activity that supporters are continually working on we’re constantly recognizing their efforts, but sometimes overlooking the everyday activity of the workers who help carryout the right we so passionately defend.
Abortion providers are facing countless obstacles right now and are in need of some serious appreciation. State laws are tightening access to abortion, clinic violence is increasing, and many health activists are nearing the age of retirement. Around the nation, 85% of counties still do not have abortion providers, and clinic workers are hesitant to take up work in anti-choice areas where social alienation and danger is prominent.
Now is the time to show some appreciation for abortion providers and clinic staff who help carryout our rights everyday. Give thanks to your local providers by stopping by with thank you cards and let them know you appreciate their work. Find out if a local clinic is in need of clinic escorts and volunteer your time! Visit Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region for information about volunteering.
Though this day of recognition has passed, that doesn’t mean we can’t continually offer our thanks! Make donations at organizations assisting women’s health care. Visit Planned Parenthood for donations and up to date information, programs, and support. Stay updated with current policy regarding abortion (hello “conscious clause” that Obama hopes to rescind!) and stay active in defending our right!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
After 2 long years of fighting to get affordable birth control back onto college campuses and into providers like Planned Parenthood, we are one short hurdle away from success.
Do you remember birth control pills being as cheap as $5 on your college campus? I don't. I don't remember BC ever being that inexpensive. I guess I wasn't paying much attention to BC prices when Congress inadvertently cut safety net providers (like college health centers) from obtaining birth control at low prices, with the passing of the Deficit Reduction Act in the fall of 2007. A legislative error in this bill caused birth control prices to skyrocket - as much as 900%.
Birth control isn't a privilege, it's a right. In these tough economic times, no woman should have to choose between a week's worth of grocery shopping and a month's worth of birth control. Cecille Richards put it bluntly, "Now more than ever, government needs to remove — not create — unnecessary barriers to health care services."
All that needs to be done to correct this error is a simple technical correction, in the form of an appropriations bill. This FY09 Bill is a no-cost provision, and includes no federal funding. It has passed already in the House, and just passed Tuesday in the Senate.
Believe it or not, there was some opposition in passing this commonsense correction. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) positioned this legislation as an "unnecessary earmark" and tried to halt its progress. In a Facebook update, Kendall from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund said, "I don't know about you, but I've had enough of anti-choice politicians hiding their opposition to family planning behind claims of fiscal responsibility." It rings especially true considering that this bill costs nothing to the US government.
We urged senators not to allow DeMint to strike our provision from the bill, and they listened to us. They voted for the appropriations bill, including the provision known as the "Affordable Birth Control Act," that will help American families make responsible choices in these difficult economic times.
All that's left now is the desk of Barack Obama, who we are confident will sign it. We at Planned Parenthood salute Congress for recognizing the need for affordable birth control and fixing this problem.
PS! Hi! I'm new here at Sex. Justice. Change. - my name is Sammy and I'm a sophomore at Syracuse University, hailing from White Plains, NY. I'm delighted to be a part of this community, and excited for the future - Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
President Obama has, as promised, thankfully decided to repeal Bush's last minute, anti-choice "conscience rule." The HHS regulation prevents health care providers from “discriminating” against all levels of anti-choice employees who refuse to provide services, and is intended to not only restrict access to abortion, but also birth control and reproductive health care in general.
The 30 day comment period for the public to send in their thoughts on the proposed change opened earlier this week. And just like it was important for you to send in your opposition to the rule when Bush proposed it, it’s important to send in your support for its repeal now! After all, pro-choice causes, women's health and access to reproductive health services need all of the public support that they can get. And the anti-choice opposition will certainly be making their voices heard, so it's time that we do, too.
Click here to send your comments to the Department of Health and Human Services. If you happen to have trouble with the form, you can just email your comments directly to email@example.com. And then, make sure to spread the word and ensure that all of your friends send in their comments, too!
Friday, March 6, 2009
We talk about these programs in the abstract an awful lot, and how they're not teaching teens the tools they need to keep themselves safe and make smart choices about their sexual health. But it's also a good idea to take a look at what they actually are teaching teens. And the truth about what they're up to goes far beyond even the dangerous myths that "condoms don't work," and into the realm of reinforcing out-dated and oppressive gender roles with regards to sex.
Just a couple excerpts from what Amplify found:
In South Carolina, Heritage Community Services (currently receives a CBAE grant of $600,000 per year from 2006-2011) teaches girls that conservative attire is necessary, or those poor boys will virtually attack you. Here is an excerpt from their classroom curriculum:Yes indeed, girls. It is your duty to the country. More from HCS’s website:“Males and females are aroused at different levels of intimacy. Males are more sight oriented, whereas females are more touch oriented. This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.”“a good minimum guideline is to declare everything covered by a bathing suit as off limits. Everyone needs to know his or her boundaries before getting in a risky situation. Once someone is excited physically, it can be difficult to stop.”
Far from teaching girls the useful skills of how to assert themselves in sexual situations and clearly say what they do and do not want to do, this kind of curriculum doesn't even acknowledge that girls and women have their own sexual thoughts and desires. Indeed, another example found over at Amplify's blog post shows curriculum that asserts male sexual desire as erratic based on physical attraction, with female sexual desire as harder to come by and based in emotion.
And worst of all, these kinds of attitudes are the exact same ones that promote victim-blaming with regards to rape and sexual assault. These attitudes being taught to students put the onus on girls and women to not "provoke" the sexual attraction and attention of men, rather than the onus on boys and men to control themselves and act respectfully. Amplify has even yet another example, where this attitude gets particularly explicit -- in an abstinence-only story which asserts that a girl who claimed to be raped is not credible, due to her promiscuous reputation.
Read the full Amplify post here, and remember that not only are our teens being given dangerous, harmful and sexist messages -- they're also being funded by our tax dollars! You can ask President Obama to zero-out funding for abstinence-only education here.