Monday, June 30, 2008

Quick and Quippy: Abstinence vs. Comprehensive Sex Ed


While many Americans would like to believe that their children abstaining from sex, the reality is that a lot of teenagers aren’t. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half (46%) of all 15-19-year-olds in the United States have had sex at least once. Maybe in a utopian society pre-martial sex (at its worst, unsafe sex) wouldn’t be an issue. But in the real world, with STIs flying around left and right and teen pregnancy rates as high as they are, adults deluding themselves into thinking that kids are abstinent is just plain dumb. It’s been shown that providing comprehensive information about sex is the smartest strategy in preventing STIs and unintended pregnancies. The following articles support the argument that family planning services and comprehensive sexuality education are smarter policies than abstinence only curriculums.

States Say No to Abstinence Only Funding – For those who aren’t aware, the Title V Abstinence only program is a complete failure. According to RH Reality Check, 22 states including the District of Columbia have opted out of abstinence only programs and its funding. Many states have expressed frustration with the ineffectiveness of abstinence only and said that they need practical, honest programs about sex. The decline of states making use of Title V funds means that the ludicrous and inaccurate abstinence-only programs are on their way out of the door! This means that the best way of getting comprehensive education programs in the schools is by getting rid of Title V funding. Here’s to chucking ab-only programs out the window!

Comprehensive Funding Bill Passes in the Senate -- So are there people on the Hill that realize that abstinence only is failing horribly? Apparently so, because the Senate passed a spending bill that will fund the Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Education departments for the 2009 fiscal year. The spending bill reduces funding for community-based abstinence only education programs by 25 percent and keeps the Title X funding for family planning programs at $300 million (which is still appallingly low). The spending bill also increases funding for community health clinics, and provides funding for breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women.

In light of the decrease of abstinence only funding—can Title X family planning programs look forward to an increase in funds in 2010 if states continue to opt out of receiving abstinence only funds?

Any questions or comments?

Friday, June 27, 2008

What Does Pro-Family Mean to Conservatives?


If they’re lucky, federal employees might get some more time to spend with their children. Introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the Federal Employees Paid Leave Act (FEPLA) will grant four weeks of paid parental leave federal employees to after giving birth, adopting, or taking in a foster child. The Federal Employees Paid Leave Act has been the first expansion of parental benefits since the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Currently, the Family Medical Leave Act allows people to take unpaid leave up to 12 weeks. Since the FMLA is non-paid, the FEPLA will financially assist parents while they take time off work to take care for their newborns by having them use accrued vacation time that includes sick time, and per approval by the Office of Personnel Management—Federal workers are able to take four weeks of unpaid time to take care of their children.

Since the passage of the FEPLA in the House, the Bush Administration has once again threatened to veto the bill saying that the act is a “costly, unnecessary, new paid leave entitlement.”

Even though Bush has stated that the FEPLA is unnecessary, other House members disagree with Bush’s statement, bill sponsor Carolyn Maloney. Maloney, a strong pro-choice leader, says that the FEPLA “will strengthen the federal government’s ability to compete for high quality employees.”

According to Office of Personnel Management, the availability of Federal level jobs is rapidly increasing due to many workers reaching retirement age and unsuccessful hiring. The FEPLA can potentially attract people to Federal level jobs, and also give the government that ability to compete with private-sectors employers.

In addition to assisting with hiring rates, providing federal workers with such benefits might say “Hey! Maybe the government really does care about family.” Vetoing the bill is a clear contradiction to his “family values” position and so-called dedication to children. This is something conservatives do over and over again –adopting policies that go directly against those values they espouse, like protecting the family.

Providing parents with the financial stability to care for their newborn while they are on leave from work is a kind and common sense policy. It’s completely absurd, for a pro-family politician like Bush, to force federal employees to choose between caring for their child and receiving a month’s worth of pay.

So, what do you think, is Bush as pro-family as he says he is?

Monday, June 23, 2008

House Drops Birth Control Price Fix


This week, the House made the unfortunate decision to drop a provision restoring affordable birth control from the War Spending Bill. The provision, which was passed in the Senate, would have made affordable birth control available again at family planning clinics and university health centers. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2007, which was discussed in a previous post, caused the cost of birth control to increase from $5 to $10 per month to as much as $40 or $50 per month for low-income women and college students. Despite the hard work of Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), the provision was dropped as part of a compromise with the White House. It seems that there’s enough money in our budget to fund the war, but not enough to ensure affordable birth control for women’s reproductive health. While I understand that this is a complicated way to solve a simple problem, I can’t help being disappointed with the outcome.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pro-Choice Activist Donna Edwards Sworn Into Congress


Congratulations to Donna Edwards for winning Maryland’s fourth district seat in Congress! She was sworn in on June 19th after winning a special election.

Donna Edwards is the first black woman to represent the state of Maryland in Congress. She has also been an active advocate for reproductive rights gaining support from organizations like Planned Parenthood Federation, National Organization for Women (NOW), and EMILY’s List.

Having Donna Edwards in office will give pro-choice women and men assurance that reproductive rights will not be ignored, but protected.

NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland wishes Donna Edwards much luck in her position. After the resignation of Congressman Albert Wynn, Donna Edwards was nominated for the special election. The Pro-choice congresswoman defeated Republican candidate Peter James and Libertarian Thibeaux Lincecum by taking more than 80 percent of the vote. Find out more about congresswoman Donna Edwards here at her website.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quick and Quippy -- Abortion Ban Madness: Do These People Ever Give Up?



There is obviously something in the air—bills that were previously defeated are resurfacing in hopes to restrict abortion to the highest extent possible. Just like in California and Colorado, the anti-choice movement has picked up momentum since the passage and upholding of the Federal Abortion Ban and is now repeatedly introducing bills to ban abortion in individual states, now in Michigan and Arizona.

Michigan – Governer Jennifer Granholm vetoed the abortion ban saying that the ban does not have an exception for the life or health of the woman. Violating Michigan’s ban will constitute the procedure a felony, meaning the doctor performing the procedure can face up to two years in prison or a $50,000 fine. Knowing that doctors are held responsible, many will opt not to perform the procedure, which in many cases will be dangerous to the health of the woman. The Governor’s spokesperson stated that “she’s [Governor Granholm] fully committed to protecting rights and health of pregnant women.” This will be the second time that a similar bill has made its way to the State House. Check out Medical News Today for more information about the Governor’s veto.

Arizona – The Arizona State Senate has passed an anti-choice bill banning certain abortion procedures for women who are more than 12 weeks pregnant. Like Michigan, there was a similar bill that was vetoed in April. The measure is now making its way through the House for final approval and passage.

Knowing that similar bills were unsuccessful in the past, intelligent people would think that the anti-choice movement would accept the fact that there are people that care about women…even if they don’t. Won’t they just quit already?

Does anyone else think that these repeated attempts to pass abortion bans are insane?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Faith Based Discrimination

On the front page of today’s Washington Post, there’s an article about “pro-life” drugstores. Robert Semler, a “pharmacist with a conscience” has recently opened DMC Pharmacy in Chantilly, VA. Semler not only refuses to stock Plan B, but shuns all contraceptives including condoms and birth control pills. This “faith-based workplace”, as Semler describes, is part of a growing movement around the country of “pro-life drugstores,” which deny women access to birth control, based on their “right of conscience.” Apparently, the right to a “faith-based conscience” is more important than women’s right to have access to contraceptives. Pro-lifers have yet to explain a valid reason for promoting religious beliefs at the expense of reproductive rights, and why their so-called rights matter more. Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life International, says “this [practice] allows a pharmacist who does not wish to be involved in stopping a human life in any way to practice in a way that feels comfortable.” It seems that the “comfort” of pro-life misconceptions is more important than women’s reproductive health. As Marcia Greenberger, of the National Women’s Law Center, explains, “Contraception is essential for women's health. A pharmacy like this is walling off an essential part of health care.” Indeed it is, yet these pro-life pharmacists claim that “such methods can cause what amounts to an abortion.” However, most respected medical professionals agree that birth control does not cause abortion; it prevents pregnancies that might lead to abortions. Are we really going to allow religious zealots to re-define science? It appears that the war against birth control is no longer a hidden agenda; which leads me to believe that the anti-choice movements now feels that outlawing birth control is a reasonably obtainable goal. Interesting, that “faith-based pharmacists” also don’t have an explanation for why they stock Viagra, but not contraception. The “pro-life conscience” seems to only extend to promoting a double standard limiting female sexuality and reproductive health.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Surprise! Prochoice.com is Anti-Choice





The most common mistake made by internet surfers is typing .com when they intend to type .org. More and more anti-choice groups are seizing this opportunity to target their biased message to unsuspecting people. Sneaky tactics like this help anti-choice groups further their anti-choice agenda to the public. The recently outed prochoice.com is a prime example of this strategy.

If one tries to access the National Abortion Federation, a simple mistype of the url will lead them to prochoice.com? Prochoice.org is the legitimate website of NAF that provides factual, unbiased information on pro-choice issues. On the other hand, prochoice.com is unequivocally an anti-choice website. Using the domain name “prochoice.com” is a blatant attempt to manipulate people who search for pro-choice information.

While the true motivation of the website appears transparent (Particularly with biased phrases like, “Imagine feeling safe and the next moment someone is killing you and you can't get away or cry for help.”), less tech-savvy folks may not immediately see through this fraudulent propaganda. And unfortunately, their goal to spread their anti-abortion message chock-full of misinformation is successful.

If the unapologetic deception is not enough to sway you away from the ever more radical pro-life movement, perhaps the fact that they consistently fall short of adequately addressing alternatives to abortion will convince you. While an abundance of false and misleading information is displayed in the abortion section, little or no information is presented in the adoption and parenthood sections. Adoption and parenting are options that many women consider when facing an unintended pregnancy, but as with abortion, both of these options require an evaluation all possible resources before a decision can be made. However, it seems that the facilitators at prochoice.com believe that a link to a list of home schooling programs is a sufficient resource on how to finish school as a parent. That is laughable at best, shameful at worst.

In addition, the parenthood and adoption sections prominently display links to the closest crisis pregnancy centers, whose deceptive practices have been well- documented. Is it no surprise that prochoice.com promotes CPCs, as their deceptive nature is very similar. Like the volunteers at CPC’s, the creators of this website are so concerned with dissuading women from abortion, they fail to truly help women who may want information on abortion alternatives. And they will use every low-down, dirty trick they can think of to push their mission forward. Why else would they use prochoice.com? There is only one logical reason. They want to deliberately spread misinformation and lies by targeting those who seek pro-choice information.

Two BIG THUMBS DOWN for the creators of prochoice.com!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pro-Life Organization Stops House Building for Habitat for Humanity



As much as the right touts their unbridled dedication to family values, pro-life groups are certainly abandoning those principles over a land deal. Nice work, right-wingers.

Planned Parenthood has offered to sell land to Habitat for Humanity for TEN DOLLARS. The donation from Planned Parenthood went to help Habitat for Humanity build three below-the-market-cost houses next to the new Planned Parenthood in Sarasota, Florida. Director of the Planned Parenthood offices in Sarasota, Barbara Zdravecky, said, “We wanted to donate the land so that Habitat for Humanity can build more attainable housing.”

Just one month before the deal was officially closed, pro-life group American Life League sent 10,000 e-mails to donators and supporters of Habitat Humanity informing them of the deal with Planned Parenthood. Many Habitat for Humanity donors and supporters complained about the upcoming land purchase—the deal was called off.

Director of Habitat for Humanity in Sarasota Tony Souza said, “It was pressure from donors—and not a philosophical stance—that caused Habitat for Humanity to end the project.” Many donors threatened to back out if Habitat for Humanity accepted the land from Planned Parenthood. Once donors started backing out, board members had no choice but to abide by their donors’ wishes. Since Habitat for Humanity is out of a 3 house project, I think their donors need to step up and make up for the cheap land they just lost.

Vice president of the American Life League, James Sedlak sent out emails to Habitat for Humanity supporters and organized protests in front of Planned Parenthood locations in the Sarasota area. I hope that Sedlak is proud of his compassionate work to prevent access to affordable housing. They have succeeded in making it harder for Habitat for Humanity to find affordable land. For those who may not know, Habitat for Humanity organization in Sarasota is struggling financially. The director has lamented the lack of affordable land and complained about seemingly endless tax problems. This is a prime example of how the pro-life movement cares more about fetuses than actual people. The American Life League’s goal to protect the lives of the “unborn” across the nation has severely impaired their ability to capture the complete picture. In stopping Habitat for Humanity from building houses, the American Life League has, in effect, denied low-income families affordable housing in the process. The American Life League needs to sit down and think about whether or not they are protecting children and families, or if they are endangering them. Instead of supposedly helping families, their actions show that they care more about furthering their political agenda than fulfilling their so-called mission, which is to “help.” This sounds a little similar to the volunteers who devote their time to crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). Volunteers at CPCs are so focused on promoting an anti-abortion agenda that they often fail to deliver information on adoption and parenting.
Now that the American Life League has prevented the construction of these homes, how and where do they expect Habitat for Humanity to build houses and find generous land donations like the one from Planned Parenthood? Barbara Zdravecky says, “They [Planned Parenthood] will not have trouble finding someone else to build on the land, however the effect is fewer people will have attainable housing in Sarasota.” Is the American Life League willing to donate land to Habitat Humanity? I sure hope so since they managed to contact 10,000 Habitat for Humanity supporters. They have something…right?

In addition to keeping three families without a roof, the American Life League has recently attacked birth control. Does it seem like the American Life League’s “pro-family” actions are less protective and more destructive?

Discuss.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Contraception Hating Susan Orr Abruptly Resigns


Maybe she didn’t like overseeing the Title X project. Maybe she didn’t like that HHS stocked generic, not Charmin, toilet paper. Maybe she decided she was incredibly offended by the word birth control. You know, since she’s against it. Whatever the reason may be, after less than a year as head of Population Affairs for Health and Human Services (HHS), Susan Orr has resigned.

At the announcement of her appointment in 2007, women’s rights groups and lawmakers questioned Bush’s decision to appoint Orr because of her disappointing record on contraception. Several members of Congress urged Secretary Mike Leavitt to withdraw Orr’s appointment because of her past with disapproving birth control. Susan Orr has made countless number of comments railing against the distribution of birth control. Responding to Bush’s proposal to cut birth control from federal employees’ health insurance plan, she remarked “we’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease.” While working as policy director at the Reason Public Policy Institute, the anti-contraception zealot objected to a District of Columbia City Council bill that would have required health insurance companies to pay for contraception.

With Susan Orr’s appointment, President Bush demonstrated once again his contempt for women’s health and important reproductive health programs like Title X. For example, in 2006, Bush appointed Dr. Eric Keroack, an extremely religious, contraception-hating, conservative as head of Population Affairs at HHS. The former director of “A Woman’s Concern”--a group of crisis pregnancy centers in Massachusetts, and staunch abstinence-only education advocate, denounced birth control saying that it was “demeaning to women.” Of course Keroack did not stay in that position for long. He later resigned in March 2007 because of “ethical differences.” Seriously, what was Bush thinking? Is this some evil, strategic plot for Republicans to eliminate access to contraception? Having someone who denounces contraception is clearly not suitable for any position at that at Health and Human Services. The appointments of Keroack and Orr demonstrate what little concern Bush has for the women and men who benefit from HHS’s programs.

Shortly after Orr’s resignation, reports surfaced about the future of government programs such as Title X. The Bush Administration and conservative activist groups like Orr’s Family Research Council are scheming to add additional restrictions to Title X. Such restrictions include barring providers that receive Title X funds from even discussing abortion with patients. Adding such strict regulations to Title X will hinder and limit access to affordable heath services to women and men.

Funny how these changes are taking place when she resigns. Coincidence? I think not.

Got comments about this?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Stand Up for Choice this Saturday

June 7th, 2008, marks the 43rd anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that access to birth control is protected under the privacy clause of the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the American Life League perceives this decision as the catalyst for “the culture of death that we live in today.” They have organized “Protest the Pill Day ‘08”; the rallying cry of which is the false declaration that “The Pill Kills.” Their website urges anti-choicers to “gather with your friends for peaceful protests in front of facilities that distribute birth control products.”
Fortunately, Planned Parenthood is organizing counter protests. The Women’s Information Network, or WIN, is holding a local counter protest.
When: Saturday, June 7 from noon until 2 PM
Where: The Planned Parenthood Clinic at 16th and L, NW - site of a planned
Pill Kills protest
Please RSVP to political@winonline.org if you plan to attend - even for a
little while. Hope to see you there!
NOW’s Birth Control Factsheet, a great source of information that counters all the lies told by the ALL.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Quick and Quippy: The Wild, Wild, Ridiculous West


Ballots/Madness in the West--Proposition 73 Says Wait 48 Hours in Cali and Amendment 48 says Fertilized Egg is a Person in Colorado.

Despite failing to garner voter approval twice before, Proposition 73—will be on California’s November ballot. Prop 73 would require teens to notify their parents in order to obtain an abortion. If that’s not enough of an obstacle, teens must then wait 48 hours after notifying their parents before the procedure can be performed. According to The Guttmacher Institute , teens are already more likely than older women to delay having an abortion until after 15 weeks of pregnancy, when the medical risks associated with abortion are significantly higher. Apparently, anti-choice zealots in CA would rather put young women in physical danger than admit that are capable of making informed, responsible decisions about their own bodies.

If California’s parental notification wasn’t enough, Colorado really takes the cake on the anti-choice ballot measures. Amendment 48 will appear on Colorado’s November ballot. Amendment 48, if passed, will classify a fertilized egg a person. Yes, you read it right the first time: a fertilized egg will in fact be a person in the state of Colorado. If this dangerous ballot measure passes, not only will abortion rights be in jeopardy, but so will the most effective and commonly used forms of birth control. This is definitely one of those situations where many people ask why, wonder how, and say, “are you kidding me?!” Just more proof that you must pay attention at all times or your reproductive rights will vanish before your very eyes.