January 28th, 2007
|07:15 pm - This just made my day|
"Putting it a little crudely, if the intensity of a woman's orgasm was played through a man's brain, there's a danger that the shock to his system would kill him."
I don't know how reliable this is, but it's a self-esteem boost to women everywhere.
January 22nd, 2007
|04:40 pm - Happy Birthday Roe v. Wade!|
34 years of choice in the United States -- Yay! But they've been 34 years where a woman's right to choose is constantly under attack.
Being pro-choice does not mean someone is pro-abortion. Identifying as pro-choice means you believe that a woman has the right to decide when she has a child. You may not believe abortion would be a plausible option for yourself, but if you believe a woman has the right to choose for herself whether or not she is ready to bring a child into the world, then you are pro-choice.
Personally, I think we need to move the focus away from the pro-choice/pro-life debate. Let's educate our population about contraception to reduce and hopefully eliminate the need for abortion. Pro-life and pro-choice people have nothing to argue about if the only women having babies are the ones who want to.
Oh, another sex-ed rant... I need to come up with some new material :)
January 17th, 2007
|03:13 pm - Another reason Abstinence-Only Education is dumb|
Our gal Courtney has a provocative piece on TAP Online today about how the prevalence of abstinence-only education contributes to the screwed-up attitude many college students have about sex. She argues that the number of drunken acquaintance rapes might be reduced if everyone was more experienced talking about sex, boundaries, and needs.
"The abstinence-only sex education that most young men and women receive does not teach them how to articulate their own sexual needs and respect those articulated by their partners. Teens who are merely told "Just don’t do it" are lacking more than an anatomy lesson or information on contraceptive choices. They also missing out on essential communication skills and life-saving knowledge about sex and power. Which is bad news for teenagers in our paradoxically hyper-sexual and hyper-conservative contemporary America who are in desperate need of wise mentorship."
It's an interesting argument. While I think it's at some risk for being interpreted as, "Date rape is women's fault if they can't say no" -- which is definitely NOT what Courtney's saying -- the inability to have a mature dialogue about sex and power is a largely unexplored consequence of abstinence-only education. And an under-explored contributing factor to drunken acquaintance rapes.
I think abstinence-only could also make it more difficult for women to come to terms with the fact that they've been raped. Most curricula drill home the idea that all sex should feel dirty and shameful. So when young people have an experience like (Courtney's friend) Jen's and feel regret afterward, it can be hard to tell whether they feel that way simply because they've had sex -- because they've been taught that all sex should feel bad -- or they feel that way because they were involved in a rape.
But I've gotta say, a standard of healthy, open discussion with teens about sex and power seems like a total pipe dream at a time when we can't even get school districts to discuss more straightforward topics like contraception.
November 29th, 2006
|07:03 pm - All Women Are Pre-Pregnant|
This article from the New York Times talks about the importance of pre-natal care specifying that that care should begin years before conception. I'm not even thinking about having kids, but according to this article, if I want to be a mother in the next decade, I need to be preparing my body now. I'm only 21! I really don't think now is an appropriate time to be creating my "reproductive life plan."
The article does stress that healthy women make healthy mothers and healthy babies. If the goal is women's health, then that's fine with me. But I really don't want to spend the next years of my life specifically planning the future activities of my uterus.
November 27th, 2006
November 6th, 2006
November 3rd, 2006
|08:03 pm - The V Card|
An interesting article by the fabulous Rachel Kramer Bussell.
August 31st, 2006
|11:30 am - Education, Not Prohibition|
Finally the Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency contraception, the morning after pill, to be sold over the counter to women 18 and older. It's a start. I'm sure the morning after pill will have a similar relationship to cigarettes now. Younger girls want it, older girls buy it for them. Being an avid pro-choice, bleeding heart liberal, I have no problem with this; I want women of all ages to have access to emergency contraception. But there are many who do have a problem with the morning after pill.
First of all, the morning after pill is NOT the abortion pill. The abortion pill terminates a pregnancy. The morning after pill prevents a pregnancy. The medical definition of pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants itself in the uterine lining. Egg + sperm + uterus = Pregnancy.
I understand many people's objections to the morning after pill. For those who believe that life begins as soon as that sperm hits the egg, the morning after pill is abortion. But 50% of fertilized eggs never implant in the uterus, and these women never become pregnant. Is this a miscarriage? Did this woman just get lucky? Is it abortion if the woman chooses to not become pregnant by using the morning after pill? Here lies the debate.
This summer, I read many well written articles about our society's views on abortion and contraception. The one thing I can take away from all of these: contraception is becoming the new abortion. A word so taboo that people are forced to take sides. Since when is a condom so scary?
If anyone has any great ideas that will stop people from having pre-marital sex, I'd really like to hear them. Abstinence-only education? I don't think so. The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized nation, and our rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs, formerly called STDs) are ridiculous. Abstinence only education does not work. Telling teens "Don't have sex" will not stop them from having sex. It will only lead to uneducated decision making that can lead to very severe consequences.
I'm not saying that the answer is to put every girl on the pill once she hits puberty. I'm saying that we need to educate our youth, starting at puberty if not sooner, about the choices and decisions that they will have to make as sexual beings.
Thus the answer is comprehensive sex education, or abstinence-based education because, really, that's what it is.
1. Teach abstinence (the only 100% way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or STI).
2. Teach contraception (ways to protect yourself, should you choose to have a sexual relationship).
3. Teach the different kinds of STIs and how to avoid them.
4. Teach self-respect: only begin a sexual relationship if you are ready to have one. Don't do it, so he or she will love you. Don't do it because "everyone else is doing it." Do it when you feel you are mature enough to handle the emotional, and sometimes physical repercussions that come with sex. If you don't think you can handle that, then DON'T HAVE SEX.
That's how we can drastically lower the number of teen pregnancies and STIs in our country: education. Any questions?
August 1st, 2006
|05:31 pm - Emergency Contraception Update|
FDA May Move on Plan B
This morning, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified Barr Laboratories Inc., manufacturer of Plan B emergency contraception (EC), that it wanted to meet within seven days to discuss new steps the company must take to make Plan B available without a prescription to some women. The announcement comes one day before President Bush's nominee to lead the FDA, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, is scheduled to appear before a Senate committee, where he is expected to face tough questions on why a decision has not yet been made to make Plan B available without a prescription.
Here is the full story:
FDA Weighs Over-The-Counter Plan B Sales
By LAURAN NEERGAARD AP Medical Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press
WASHINGTON The government is considering allowing over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill to women 18 and older. The surprise move Monday revives efforts to widen access to the emergency contraceptive almost a year after it was thought doomed.
The Food and Drug Administration notified manufacturer Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. early Monday that it wanted to meet within seven days to iron out new steps the company must take in its three-year battle to sell the pill, called Plan B, without a prescription to at least some women.
"We think this is a positive development. We will see how the meeting goes and move forward from there," company spokeswoman Carol Cox said.
Cox could not predict how quickly the company could amend its FDA application, which already includes a plan to restrict distribution of the pills. The FDA said a final decision could be reached within weeks, if talks with Barr go well.
The announcement came just 24 hours before President Bush's nominee to lead the regulatory agency, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, was scheduled to appear before a Senate committee, where he was expected to face grilling on why the morning-after pill had apparently gone into bureaucratic limbo.
The morning-after pill is a high dose of regular birth control that, taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.
Contraceptive advocates and doctors groups say easier access to a pill now available by prescription only could halve the nation's 3 million annual unintended pregnancies, and FDA's own scientists say the pills are safe. In December 2003, the agency's independent scientific advisers overwhelmingly backed nonprescription sales for all ages.
But FDA rejected that recommendation, citing concern about young teens' use of the pills without a doctor's guidance. Barr reapplied, asking that women 16 and older be allowed to buy Plan B without a prescription and setting up a program for pharmacists to enforce the age rule _ just as they now enforce age restrictions on cigarette sales.
But last August, FDA's then-chief postponed a decision indefinitely, saying the agency needed to determine how to enforce those age restrictions _ something that it said would require the formality of writing new regulations.
Monday, the FDA reversed itself, saying that it had reviewed about 47,000 comments from the public, with an overwhelming majority supporting the view that the drug could be sold both as a prescription and nonprescription product.
"It is not necessary to engage in rulemaking," von Eschenbach wrote the company Monday.
To try again, Barr must re-file its application with some changes:
_Barr must agree to sell nonprescription to women 18 and older, not 16 as the company had earlier sought. That's because it conforms with current age restrictions on tobacco products, and thus would simplify pharmacists' enforcement.
_Both the nonprescription and prescription versions of the pill would be kept behind the pharmacists' counter. But FDA wants Barr to sell the nonprescription version in completely different packaging to help distinguish the two.
_Barr must provide details on how the program will enforce the age restriction. If that's not rigorous enough, Plan B will remain prescription for everyone, FDA warned.
"We already said that we would only sell to pharmacies _ to places where there was a pharmacist, not to convenience stores," Cox said.
Asked why the FDA was moving forward now, 11 months after delaying a decision, FDA spokeswoman Susan Bro said von Eschenbach wanted to spend Tuesday's hearing less on this contentious issue and more on his own plans for the agency if confirmed as its chief.
"He knew it was critical that he be able to provide tomorrow a thoughtful approach to resolving what has been one of the most divisive issues the agency has faced in order for him to present his broad and ambitious vision for the FDA," Bro said.
Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y, vowed to continue holding up von Eschenbach's confirmation as commissioner until the agency makes a final decision, Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass said. The two had previously allowed von Eschenbach's predecessor, Lester Crawford, to be confirmed after receiving a pledge the FDA would act on the issue. Crawford resigned shortly after delaying a decision.
"Fool us once: We're not lifting this hold until a decision is made," Glass said.
If a woman already is pregnant, the pills have no effect. They prevent ovulation or fertilization of an egg. They also may prevent the egg from implanting into the uterus, considered the medical definition of pregnancy, although recent research suggests that's not likely.
Laws in eight states already allow women to buy Plan B from certain pharmacies without a prescription, with no age restrictions.
July 31st, 2006
|01:26 pm - More on Parental Consent for Abortions|
When The Parents Can't Know
New York Times
By JUDITH WARNER.
(Judith Warner is the author of "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" and a contributing columnist for TimesSelect.)
Spring Adams, a 13-year-old sixth grader from Idaho, was impregnated by her father. On the morning she was to have an abortion, he came into her room and shot her.
This awful story, which was brought to the Senate floor this week by
Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat, isn't the kind of thing that most
parents, fortunately, can relate to. Most parents, surely, love their
children and believe that if they learned that a daughter was pregnant and seeking an abortion, they'd treat her with kindness and concern.
Love -- blinding, misguided love -- I would like to believe, is the
chief reason why so many mothers and fathers support parental
notification laws for girls seeking abortions and did not rise up and
cry foul this week when a shockingly cruel and girl-hating piece of
legislation passed in the Senate.
The new bill, the Child Custody Protection Act, like its even more
draconian House counterpart, would make it illegal for any adult other than a parent to take a minor across state lines to get an abortion. If the bill makes it into law, an incest victim, a rape victim or any other vulnerable pregnant teen who lives in a state that requires parental notification for abortion will no longer be able to seek the help of, say, a grandma if she's too frightened or ashamed to tell her parents that she is pregnant.
For many loving parents, this is all well and good. The problem is,
though, that there are parents who do not behave toward their daughters with love. There are also teenage girls who don't believe their parents' love is strong enough to overcome whatever shame or disappointment or disgust they may feel upon learning that their daughter is pregnant and seeking to abort. Some teenage girls -- even those from the ''best'' of homes -- resort to desperate measures under such circumstances.
I think, first, of Becky Bell, who in 1988 died of an illegal abortion because she was too ashamed to comply with Indiana's requirement that she notify her parents of her intent to end her pregnancy. Then, in 2004, there was the teenage girl in Michigan who, desperate to avoid telling her parents she needed an abortion, allowed her boyfriend to beat her belly with a baseball bat until she miscarried. She was six months pregnant.
Becky Bell's parents and the parents of the boy in the baseball bat case have since become outspoken critics of parental notification laws.
It does not particularly shock or surprise me that extreme right-wing
ideologues would be willing to sacrifice girls' lives on the road to
their greater goal of making Roe v. Wade a dead letter; empowering girls to take control of their bodies and their lives -- through, for example, reality-based sex education and access to contraception -- has never been high on their list of priorities.
What I find much more disturbing now is that the mainstream public is
going along for the ride. I think this is happening, in part, because
radical Republicans -- always so adept at finding the inner dark spots in Americans' hearts and minds -- have cleverly linked this particular anti-abortion effort to one of the most basic beliefs of mainstream parenting today: namely, that parents have a right to know everything about their children and to control every aspect of their lives.
It is not unreasonable for parents to want to know what's going on with their kids. I would just suggest that parental rights have limits. Children -- including teenagers -- have a fundamental right to love and decent caretaking. That right sometimes conflicts with and outweighs their parents' rights to control them.
That clash of rights is what plays out, often enough, when non-parents intervene to help minors cross state lines to get the medical attention they need. Most, I am sure, don't do it because they want to meddle or lead young girls astray. They do it because the girls desperately need their help. No one knows how many of these girls are incest victims, fleeing fathers or stepfathers or brothers or uncles who abuse them in families where there's no one stepping forward to protect them.
For our society to deny these girls access to freedom from forced
pregnancy, I believe, is to abuse them further. I don't want to be a
party to that abuse, and neither, I imagine, would most loving parents -- if only they'd think to extend their kind caretaking beyond the borders of their own backyards.