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.
for asking President Obama to rescind bad
Bush Administration HHS Regulations
Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray has asked President Obama to rescind an anti-choice Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that was created by the Bush Administration in their final days in office. Commonly known as the "Provider Conscience" regulation, it does two harmful things.
First, it allows anti-choice protesters to apply for jobs at women's health clinics without facing questions regarding their willingness to prescribe or legally distribute birth control. Employers, including Planned Parenthood, would not be able to ask doctors or nurses if they would be willing to provide women with complete care, nor could they terminate them if they refused. Should a clinic refuse to comply, they would lose the funding that keeps health care services available to women in their community.
Second, it would open the door for the HHS Department to redefine all prescription birth control as a form of abortion. Any use of contraceptive medications would be subject to all laws governing abortion procedures.
Obviously, this Bush Administration regulation was created to interrupt women's access to birth control, health care, and abortion. President Obama has signaled his intention to rescind the regulation. By urging the president to do so, AG Cordray is working to ensure Ohio's health care providers maintain their funding and their services. Bravo, Mr. Attorney General!
for opposing the FDA approval of OTC access
of emergency contraception to 17 year-olds.
Emergency contraception is birth control. Period. Birth control pills are available to women and teens, and therefore, emergency contraception (known as EC or 'Plan B') should be available to women and teens to prevent pregnancies. Because of the emergency aspect of EC, it has been approved as an over-the-counter form of contraceptive by the Food and Drug Administration.
The Concerned Women for America do not want teen girls and adult women to have all the options available to prevent unintended pregnancies. They do not feel that a rape victim has the right to avoid becoming pregnant by her attacker. They do not feel that a girl who understands she's not prepared to become a mother should not have to be one.
When the FDA announced that Plan B may be sold to 17 year-old girls, the CWA president, Wendy Wright went on CNN to disseminate her anti-prevention lies. (video and transcript) She appeared opposite Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards, and Wright continued to spread the lie that this contraception is an abortifacient. We reject Wright's false claims and her efforts to deny teens' access to contraceptives. Read more...
The president held his third press conference on his 100th day in office. He addressed the issue of abortion, drawing attention to the need for pregnancy prevention methods to reduce the number women dealing with untended pregnancies.
Transcript of the question and answer after the jump.
OBAMA PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
OBAMA: Ed Henry?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. In a couple of weeks, you're going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame. And, as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion.
As a candidate, you vowed that one of the very things you wanted to do was sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as you know, would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion. And at one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was above -- quote, "above my pay grade."
Now that you've been president for 100 days, obviously, your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator.
Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act so you can sign it?
OBAMA: You know, the -- my view on -- on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.
I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they -- if they suggest -- and I don't want to create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women's freedom and that there's no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with and families and individual women have to wrestle with.
OBAMA: The reason I'm pro-choice is because I don't think women take that -- that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day. And I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a president of the United States, in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their doctors, with their clergy.
So -- so that has been my consistent position. The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again.
And so I've got a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp, to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.
Now, the Freedom of Choice Act is not highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose. But I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that's -- that's where I'm going to focus.
Corey Ryan, from the Athens News covered Prevention First Lobby Day 2009. His full article after the jump.
takes part in recent lobbying day in Columbus
Monday, 27 April 2009
Pro-choice activist Lois Whealey’s life hangs around her neck and decorates her bright red jacket.
The charms laced around her silver chain include emblems from her three alma maters – Stanford, University of Michigan and Ohio University – and for each of her three children and three grandchildren.
Below the crowded charm necklace are scattered Whealey’s buttons. One button reads “Pro Child, Pro Family, Pro Choice,” from her Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) group. Whealey is also active in the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters and the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio.
“It has always been important in my family to have strong women,” Whealey said. “That’s why I have always felt so strongly that a woman’s political, social and economic rights need protecting.”And here is the rest of it.
Voicing her opinion is why Whealey loves to wear her buttons and her t-shirts, she said. Although Whealey does not need fashion flair to talk about what she says is an essential right to women, the right to choice, an opportunity to gain a new shirt and button does leave a smile.
Whealey grabbed her newest button declaring her love for pro-choice boys at Wednesday’s fourth annual Prevention First Act Lobby Day in Columbus, an event where a collaboration of Ohio men and women met with their respective state legislatures to gather support for the proposed legislation.
The Prevention First Act breaks down into five sections – assistance for sexual-assault victims, increasing education about emergency contraception, guaranteeing access to over-the-counter contraception medication, honest and accurate sex education in high schools, and contraceptive equity.
Tara Harwood, Development Coordinator at Planned Parenthood of Southeast Ohio, and Whealey represented the Athens district by meeting with state Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Athens. The duo was scheduled to meet with Sen. Jimmy Stewart, R-Athens, but the meeting fell through because of scheduling confusion.
“(Phillips) was very receptive,” Harwood said. “We shared our stories, and (Phillips) told some of her own.”
Harwood and Whealey did not have the time to prepare like most of the lobbyers because their meeting was scheduled before lunch. But the setback did not derail Whealey from expressing her main concern.
“One of the things that I find very troubling is that men are permitted to have insurance coverage for erectile dysfunction,” Whealey said. “Women very often do not get coverage for contraception. There's a double standard when men get aids for conception, but women can't get aid for contraception.”
Health-insurance companies provided coverage for Viagra, a pill that treats impotence, within the first year it hit the market. But Ohio’s health insurers are not required to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices.
“My patients range from 12 years old to 48,” said Dr. Rhonda Medina, an OBGYN in Lima, Ohio. “Yesterday I saw a 15-year-old on her second pregnancy. When she delivered last year, I wanted to put her on an oral contraceptive pill.
“It wasn’t my first choice because I don’t like to give teenagers something they have to think about every day,” she added. “But that’s the only thing her mother’s insurance plan would cover.”
Pro-choice lobbyists from the more conservative Delaware County decided to approach their legislator from a financial perspective. For every $1 spent on a family-planning program, $4.70 is saved in averted Medicaid birth costs according to a 2008 article in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.
Other lobbying groups took different approaches. The RCRC presented the lobbyists with tips for addressing religion and issues of faith.
“We will not change the ethical framework that these men and women operate in, nor should that be our purpose,” said the Rev. Richard Venus, a member of the Ohio RCRC board of directors. “We should be clear where our ethics come from…”
Several mainstream religions including Roman Catholicism have strongly advocated against teaching anything other than abstinence in sex-education classes. The Prevention First Act requires comprehensive sex education classes to provide age-appropriate and medically accurate information about both abstinence and contraception.
“I was given all the information to get a good score on the SAT,” said fourth-year Ohio State student and Olmstead Falls High School graduate John Petrus. “I was not given enough information on how to keep safe, and what the risks and dangers out there.”
Petrus said he contracted HIV during his freshman year at Ohio State because he was not properly educated on sexual safety as a gay student.
Another section of the Prevention First Act seeks to protect those seeking contraceptives.
“I have a cousin who is a pharmacist,” Dr. Medina said. “Two years ago I was sitting at a family gathering, and I hear my cousin saying ‘Why should I dispense emergency contraception; I don’t believe in contraception.’ I thought that when I write a prescription, it gets filled.”
Medina’s cousin is not the lone pharmacist to deny contraceptives, according to a 2005 article in Science magazine. The article “Pharmacists Refusals: A Threat to Women’s Health” cites some instances where pharmacists have lectured women on their decision to use birth-control or emergency contraceptive, also known as the morning after pill.
The FDA permits the sale of emergency contraceptive without a prescription to women 17 or older (the age limit was 18 prior to April 23, 2009).
For more information about the Prevention First Act or to sign the petition, visit the Ohio Planned Parenthood Web site at ppao.org.
Ohio Prevention First Lobby Day attendees were thrilled to hear from Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. Ms. Schultz, wife of Ohio's U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, spoke about encouraging women to be vocal with their elected officials. She also urged the attendees to consider running for office themselves. "You all know somebody who should be running for public office. And many of you should be considering it."
Connie Schultz Keynote Speech- Prevention First Lobby Day 2009 from Freedom of Choice Ohio on Vimeo.
At the YWCA trainings, attendees were addressed by Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Connie Schultz. Senate Assistant Minority Leader Shirley Smith, Senator Tom Sawyer, and Representative Nancy Garland joined volunteers for trainings and lunch.
At the day's rally on the Statehouse steps, Representatives Tyrone Yates and Dan Stewart were followed by Senators Teresa Fedor, Sue Morano, and Nina Turner. Each stressed how the bill is necessary, but will only move forward with the actions of supporters like you.
Those who could not attend joined via email. Over 600 emails were sent to state lawmakers from Planned Parenthood supporters. Here's what some of them had to say:
"I am a labor and delivery nurse. I take care of more women having unintended pregnancies than I do planned births. Please listen to this cry for help coming from someone who sees the damage that can be done by neglecting to educate our teens properly." - Katherine R., RN
"Teaching Abstinence is still a good idea, but we also need to educate teens about safe sex." - Dianna H.
"As a high school teacher I see daily the massive failure of the "abstinence-only" programs as I teach young women who are either pregnant or already have a child. I of course have no idea how many of them have contracted infections that may impact their lives for years to come - and unfortunately many of them do not know either." - Diana D.
"It is only through contraception and teaching of facts that pregnancies, abortions, and diseases can be reduced." - Kathy S.
"I do believe that sex education should be taught in the home, and that abstinence is best. However, I realize that not all families are as wonderful as mine. Comprehensive sex education is important. Why are we depriving our citizens of education?" - Melanie S.
"As the mother of teenagers, I have learned firsthand that young people today are hungry for honest, reliable information about sexuality." - Lisa W.
To send your message to Ohio lawmakers, click here for our online web form before April 30.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, were on CNN last week to discuss the FDA's ruling that Emergency Contraception may be sold over-the-counter to 17 year-old girls. The video follows, full transcript after the jump.
OFFICIAL CNN TRANSCRIPT
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: And I'm Rick Sanchez.
Welcome back to the World Headquarters of CNN.
The FDA says the emergency contraceptive pill, better known as Plan B, will soon be available to 17-year-old girls in the next few weeks without a prescription. A ruling last month set a new legal precedent, which previously required 17-year-olds to get a doctor's note to get this Plan B pill.
Anti-abortion activists aren't happy with the latest ruling.
Abortion rights activists are hailing it as better access to contraceptives.
Is there a happy medium here to be found in this ensuing debate?
Again, remember, it's called the morning after pill. And now 17- year-olds will be able to get it without a prescription. That's the upshot here.
Let's get into this debate.
Wendy Wright is the president of Concerned Women for America.
She joins us live from Washington.
Cecil Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is live in our New York studios.
My thanks to both of you ladies for being with us.
CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Thank you, Rick.
WENDY WRIGHT, PRESIDENT, CONCERNED WOMEN FOR AMERICA: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: The first question, isn't preventing unwanted teen pregnancies a good thing, whether or not you agree with the methodology in this case, either one of you?
RICHARDS: Absolutely, Rick. I think that this decision by the FDA to expand access to emergency birth control for 17-year-olds is a good thing because it's better for the health care of -- of young women. We have an epidemic proportion of unintended teen pregnancy in this country. And I think it's good that the FDA is taking this issue seriously. It's about time.
SANCHEZ: Should we -- what do you say from the other side?
WRIGHT: Well, two prominent advocates for easy access to the morning after pill admitted in 2007 in a medical journal that, in fact, making the drug nonprescription does not reduce pregnancies or abortions. And they also admitted that the effectiveness of the drug had been substantially overstated. In essence, it doesn't work as well as they thought. So that's probably the reason why there has been no reduction in pregnancies or abortions.
Now, the FDA, in making this decision, violated its own standards, because it made a high dose of a drug available without a prescription when a low does of the very same drug requires a prescription because women...
SANCHEZ: So is that...
WRIGHT: ...need medical oversight when they take this drug.
SANCHEZ: Is that the problem with it, do you think, the dosage?
Because a lot of people are complaining -- you know, there's even the argument by some that this is akin to an abortion.
But parentally, it's not, right?
RICHARDS: That's right.
SANCHEZ: This is actually more akin to using a condom, for example, right?
WRIGHT: Well, the manufacturer...
RICHARDS: It's really...
WRIGHT: The manufacturer of the drug says it works in three different ways -- delaying ovulation, preventing fraternization or inhibiting implantation -- an incomplete sentence -- implantation of an embryo.
If it does work in that third way, then it would end a new life. So, at the very least...
WRIGHT: ...we need to be honest with women so they can make their own choice if they want to take something that may end a new life.
SANCHEZ: But wait a minute. Now -- now you've made it a little bit more fuzzy than I thought it was going in.
Does -- does this stop -- we're not killing an...
SANCHEZ: We're not destroying an embryo here, we're getting -- we're stopping the embryo from being fertilized is what we're actually doing.
WRIGHT: No, no, no, no. RICHARDS: Rick, you're...
SANCHEZ: Or the egg from...
RICHARDS: Wendy is actually completely wrong.
SANCHEZ: ...the egg from being fertilized.
RICHARDS: Right. Wendy is actually completely wrong on the science. And the frustrating thing here, I think, is that groups like the Concerned Women for America oppose birth control, they oppose every effort...
WRIGHT: Oh, that is not true.
RICHARDS: They have opposed every effort to do -- to take a really serious look at what is a very big problem in this country. The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Western industrialized world.
RICHARDS: We have to take this issue seriously. And I think for most parents -- because I know you've -- you've raised this issue, like how do parents feel?
But I'm a parent of two teenagers. I think all of us hope and expect that our teens to come to us to talk about birth control, to talk about sexual activity.
But the truth is we're not doing enough and that there are teens out there who are getting pregnant, who aren't getting birth control, who aren't getting emergency birth control and I think we all...
SANCHEZ: We get it.
RICHARDS: What we all want as parents is to say we don't want more teen pregnancy in this country.
SANCHEZ: Well, I think most people just want to be educated. I know I do. I have a daughter.
SANCHEZ: And this is something that we all need to consider and have conversations with our families about.
RICHARDS: That's correct.
SANCHEZ: Ladies, Wendy, Cecil -- Cecile, thanks to both of you for being with us.
SANCHEZ: We appreciate it.
WRIGHT: Thank you.
Thank you, Rick.
Next week, hundreds of pro-choice Ohioans will descend on the Ohio Statehouse to talk to their lawmakers about the Ohio Prevention First Act. One part of the legislation requires hospital emergency rooms to provide Emergency Contraception to women who request it, including rape victims. There's a good deal of confusion over what "EC" is exactly. We thought we'd clear the air on this last-chance pregnancy prevention tool.
To read about how women in Ohio have been denied access to Emergency Contraception, check out this 2005 article from Cleveland Scene.
[The following info is not meant to be medical advice. It is simply offered as an informative guide. To receive or use Emergency Contraception, see a pharmacist, doctor, or visit a Planned Parenthood clinic near you.]
* Emergency Contraception is a medication taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex that prevents a pregnancy from starting.
* Chemically, some EC is identical to regular birth control pills. In fact, one EC method involves taking a larger dose of birth control pills. See a pharmacist or doctor for more information.
* One form of Emergency Contraception is known by the brand name "Plan B."
* Emergency Contraception is available at Planned Parenthood and other women's health clinics, pharmacies, and some hospital emergency rooms.
* You don't need to be sexually active or have had unprotected sex to buy EC. Many women keep EC in their medicine cabinet in case of a condom break, unprotected sexual encounter, or sexual assault.
* Emergency Contraception is NOT a form of abortion. It is not RU-486 or Mifepristone. EC will not affect an existing pregnancy.
For further info on EC, check out Planned Parenthood's EC page.
An important part of talking openly and honestly to our children and teens about sex involves warning them about physical and sexual abuse. They must understand that their bodies are private, and no one should touch them inappropriately. In schools, age-appropriate sex education can open a dialogue with children about assaults they may have witnessed or been victims of. Planned Parenthood is proud to support this event for victims' rights.
Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray is kicking off
National Crime Victims Week at the Speak Out:
Voices United for Victims' Rights Rally
Sunday, April 26th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ohio Supreme Court, 65 S. Front St., Columbus, OH 43215
Parking: Riffe Center – 77 S. High St or Ohio State House
Street parking is free on Sundays)
Thursday, April 16, 2009 | | 0 Comments
Adding additional obstacles to ensuring teens' access to birth control are draconian rules against medication use in schools. While these rules vary from district to district, some students find themselves risking very severe punishment for taking Tylenol, Aspirin, and of course... birth control pills. In Fairfax, VA, one student received a two-week suspension for taking her daily pill.
This, obviously, is more of an issue with medication in general, but it clearly affects girls on birth control. The pill is most effective when taken at the same time each day. If that time is most convenient for girls during school hours, the school district should not prevent her from taking medication. Many students, even those over the age of 18, do not inform one or both of their parents that they are on the pill. Taking the pill at school may be necessary to ensure they take the steps necessary to prevent pregnancies while avoiding conflicts with parents. These conflicts are known to be a factor in the physical abuse of teens.
School districts are overstepping their rights and responsibilities by passing these rules, anyway. If a school bans all medication use (one district banned sunscreen without a doctor's note)what is a student with an asthma inhaler suposed to do?
Freedom of Choice Ohio
Prevention First Lobby Day
April 22nd, 2009
"Lobby Day is an excellent opportunity for supporters to make the point that for the sake of all Ohioans we must work together to reduce unplanned pregnancies. I consider myself pretty well versed in reproductive health care in general, but I learned a lot through lobby day. It is a great time to speak one on one with the legislators who are sponsoring our bill and demonstrate to other legislators that we are dedicated, organized, and offer solutions that would reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and the cause for some abortions. I hope you will join me and so many others at the Prevention First Lobby Day on April 22, 2009!" - Kelli Arthur Hykes
"Lobby Day is a valuable experience that all pro-choice individuals should take advantage of. While participating in Lobby Day 2008, I was able to meet with my State Representative, Tracy Maxwell Heard. As a new resident in her district she was pleased to hear my concerns regarding a lack of focus on women's health issues in Ohio. She listened intently as I spelled out what the Prevention First Act would do. At the conclusion of our meeting I was able to make a difference by asking her to co-sponsor the bill. Please take this wonderful opportunity to meet your Representative or Senator personally." - Tim Johns
"When I went to Lobby Day 2008, I expected it would just be standing on the Statehouse steps with signs and a bull horn. I actually had an opportunity to talk to a lawmaker one-on-one about the issue at hand. It was not just any politician, it was the one who represented my neighborhood to Ohio. It was so intimate of a meeting, that I would have WALKED to Columbus." - Lois Armstrong
"When I went to Lobby Day I didn't know what to expect. It was my first time going to any event such as this one. I was a little nervous but soon felt at ease. Everyone made me feel so welcome and it was such a wonderful experience to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. I was inspired by the group of men and womyn who were there to lobby. We should all hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and remind them they represent us. If you are concerned about the way our government is handling things I would highly recommend attending Lobby Day. You can make a difference." - Danielle Mason
Registration Deadline: April 14th
please visit https://id286.securedata.net/naralohio/events/lobbydayreg.shtml
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