Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio released their monthly Thanks and Spanks today. The organization's cheers and jeers go to two groups or individuals who have made a difference in reproductive rights, either good or bad.
Anti-choice activists have been up in arms lately, pleading with their friends to contact Congress and defeat the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). While this is the usual activity we expect from the usual suspects, there is one thing that has us puzzled: FOCA isn't a real bill.
In previous sessions of Congress, the Freedom of Choice Act had sought to put the principles of Roe v. Wade into statutory law. However, it is not a piece of legislation being currently considered. Under the current pro-choice administration, the threat to Roe isn't as severe, and the idea has not been re-introduced. (This is the benefit from the hard work you did to elect a pro-choice president!)
Despite not having an actual piece of legislation, anti-choice activists across the country are wasting the time of our Congressional leaders when economic recovery is the most important issue of the day. Among others, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has been making members of Congress respond to his letters demanding a defeat of this non-bill. Worse, he claims credit for each day the non-bill is not passed. It is unfortunate that individuals with so much time and resources are not compelled to try to help those truly in need or to advocate for legislation that...actually exists.
Thanks to the Members of Congress for recognizing the anti-FOCA campaign for what it is – pure misinformation and lies.
Each year, Freedom of Choice Ohio (FOCO) sponsors a Roe v. Wade Anniversary event to both celebrate the monumental court decision and provide insight of the work that still needs to be done. This year’s dinner featured Jennifer Baumgardner, an author and third-wave feminist activist. Jennifer is best known for creating the “I had an abortion” campaign to encourage women (and men) to "come out" about their procedures. The project included t-shirts that said "I had an abortion," and a book called Abortion and Life. This campaign also led to the creation of Jennifer’s film, Speak Out: I had an Abortion.
At the Roe anniversary event, attendees had the opportunity to interact with Jennifer as she introduced her film, and later as she answered questions about it. She told the crowd that she originally became interested in the project because as an activist, she felt “there was a disconnect between our beliefs and the way we told our own stories.” Pro-choice activists were talking about their acceptance of abortion, but no one was talking about their actual abortion experiences. Jennifer stated that during the Bush administration especially, she “became frustrated because there wasn’t a lot of movement on this issue, and frustrated with myself because I was contributing to this loggerhead.”
This frustration led to the creation of the “I had an abortion” project, as Jennifer realized that people can fight about abortion easily, but it’s really difficult to actually talk about it. By encouraging conversation about abortion experiences and taking the time to really listen to people’s stories, Jennifer says that this project “allowed me to reconnect to the political issue of abortion in a really authentic way.”
Speak Out: I had an Abortion shares the story of ten women who had an abortion, and the story that surrounded that decision. The stories span seventy years, and include women from diverse backgrounds. Jennifer later told the crowd that the most difficult part of making the film was deciding which stories would be included. One question from the crowd addressed that the women who had abortions post-Roe seemed to have more guilt than those who had had their procedures before the decision. Jennifer responded “My generation feels very responsible when they get pregnant. You get this sense of ‘I screwed up.’ I think this is too punishing – but I’m sympathetic that my generation feels that with greater power comes greater responsibility.”
Jennifer reminded the group that while there is much work to be done, the movement may be headed in a new direction. The terminology of “choice” is not a label that all activists feel comfortable embracing, and there has been a recent trend toward the idea of reproductive justice, which started with Loretta Ross and Sistersong. The “I had an abortion” project made the movement even more personal to Jennifer. She said that before the project, “I saw the movement in terms of bumper stickers and arguments. I don’t get into those fights anymore. When someone tells me they’re pro-life and they regret their abortion, I say, ‘Tell me your story.’”
The FBI completed a major initiative to stop teenage prostitution across America. 48 teenage prostitutes (ages 13-17) were taken into protective custody and 571 suspects were arrested.
There isn't much more to add to the story, but it does provide an occasion to thank State Senator Theresa Fedor for her work to pass Human Trafficking legislation in Ohio last year. These awful cases are exactly why Senator Fedor was so persistent in pushing this cause.
This week, we wrote on Connie Schultz's Plain Dealer column about teens abusing and harassing each other via text message.
Today, Slate.com's Dahlia Lithwick hit upon the cellphone-porn phenomenon, too. Her disbelief that many teens actually engage in swapping nughty pics via cell phone led her to this study. (.pdf) The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy found that a staggering one in five teens has sent a naked cellphone pic of himself or herself.
20% of teens (ages 13-19) trading self-snapped nudes like baseball cards has many consequences. Prosecutors, parents, teachers, judges, and social workers are all trying to stop their heads from spinning. Exactly what the legal ramifications are have not yet been tackled by legislators. They probably don't want to explain to voters why they do or do not want to make little Billy and Katie have to register as sex offenders because of "sexting."
Our take is far easier: teens are facing exposure to sexual situations at a shockingly early age. They need guidance from parents to help decide what actions are appropriate. At the same time, not every parent has the time, the understanding, or the interest in having these conversations with their children. Every teen needs to be taught how to avoid unintended pregnancies and contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Comprehensive, medically-accurate sex education shoud be taught in all our schools. Parents and teachers should work together to be aware of the challenges kids face, and develop lessons designed to teach them how to stay out of trouble.
It being a Saturday, National Condom Day, and Valentine's Day, we've got love on the brain, and not particularly interested in spending time persuading you fine people to practice safe sex. So we're just gonna' paste the talking points from Planned Parenthood and get to the florist before they close.
Women, men and teens need to know how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections.
The CDC reports the teen birthrate is on the rise, and that young women are more affected by sexually transmitted infections (STI) and have greater risks associated with STIs. We must provide commonsense solutions to preventable health care problems.
With an estimated 750,000 teenage girls becoming pregnant this year and nearly four million teens contracting a sexually transmitted infection, it is time to reject policies that aren’t working and embrace those that help teens make responsible decisions about protecting their health and avoiding unintended pregnancies.
In 2007, the YRBSS included a national school-based survey conducted by the CDC, 44 state surveys, five territory surveys and 22 local surveys conducted among students in grades nine–12 between January 2007 and February 2008.
Local stats in selected locations.
Cases and Rates of Chlamydia in Selected Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
Cases and Rates of Gonorrhea in Selected Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
Cases and Rates of Syphilis in Selected Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
Connie Schultz’s column in today’s Plain Dealer hits upon a growing phenomenon among young people – instant access to peers.
In a world of text messages and Facebook status updates, we’re all able to check in on our friends at every waking hour. Workplaces are beginning to ban Facebook access on work computers because of the amount of time wasted on it, but it’s not only the time that gives us pause. Researchers have recently started looking at increased anxiety in teen girls who excessively use Facebook-based chat rooms.
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