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Posts Tagged ‘EMergency Contraception’

Roe v. Wade Anniversary

Well, today is the 38th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision!

When I think about what life was like over 38 years ago – before abortion was legal in this country – I can’t help to think about this nut ball doctor up in Philadelphia who a few days ago was indicted on several counts of MURDER for basically performing “illegal” abortions.  Now, I have not had the time to look closely at the indictment and, frankly, I’ve never heard of this guy but the only thing I thought of when I heard the news was that what he was doing was just how it worked in the old days.  We had all these sleazy illegal abortionists with unqualified staff, using unsterilized instruments and offering no counseling.  As a result, women throughout the country were being harmed physically and, worse, dying.  This guy up in Philadelphia is just an old “abortionist.”   Unfortunately, it’s someone like that who makes the headline and that, of course, gives the legitimate doctors a bad rap by association.

In the grand scheme of things, I can see how certain anti-abortion folks are so totally fixated on “saving” that fetus.  It’s just their thing and I am not qualified to psychoanalyze their thinking.  But while these folks are seemingly mesmerized by the quest to “save babies” do they not see what might happen if abortion were made illegal again in this country?  Do they not see what happened up in Philadelphia recently?  Do they have absolutely no compassion for the real, live, breathing woman?   I mean, they’re not all totally myopic, are they?

I think I know the answer that the pro-lifers will give me, I’ve certainly heard enough of the rhetoric over the years.  But, at least at this time, 38 years later, I can breathe a sigh of relief that in 1973 the Supreme Court in 1973 was brave and smart enough to realize what they were doing.  They struck a blow for woman’s health and that’s what I choose to celebrate today.

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Teenagers

Okay, girls, it’s time for some basic info.

Let’s start with you youngsters.  Are you between the ages of 13 and 15?  Ah, God bless ya if you are!   I remember those days well.  I can remember cute little Tommy Kosky who sat in front of me in Algebra class.  To this day, I can still smell that cheap cologne that probably cost him $2.00 a gallon.  I remember asking him dumb questions just to get him to notice me…uh, I’m sorry, I’m digressing here.

Okay, earth to Pat.

As I was saying, if you are between the ages of 13 and 15, it’s time you picked up the phone and made your first appointment with an Obstetrician-Gynecologist, otherwise known as an Ob-Gyn.  Don’t know who to call?  Well, ask around, talk to your friends.  Don’t rely on the Google-meister.

The important thing is that this first visit will help you establish a relationship with the doctor of your choice and you’ll be able to talk candidly about your medical and sexual history (even if you have not had sexual intercourse.) This is a good time to ask questions about sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives.   In many cases, this can become a life-long relationship.

If you are 21 years or older and have not yet had a pelvic exam or a Pap test, what the frig are you waiting for?   Get on your cell phone right now!

Ob-Gyn First Visit

If you have had these tests, then the question is how long has it been since your last Pap smear and pelvic exam? According to the American College of Ob-Gyns, women 21 to 29 should get a Pap smear every year, then every other year (or as often as your doctor recommends) from ages 30 to 64.

Meanwhile you should always see your gynecologist if you experience any bleeding between periods, bleeding after sexual intercourse or an unusual or constant vaginal discharge.

If you are over 30 years old, it is not necessary to get an annual Pap smear but you still should get an annual pelvic exam to check for any other changes or infections. If you’ve had an HPV test that was negative that doesn’t mean you don’t need to have a yearly pelvic exam. And remember that with each new sexual partner your risk of getting HPV increases by 15 percent. According to the ACOG guidelines for Pap testing women diagnosed with HIV or other diseases or conditions that lower immunity should continue having annual Pap smears after age 30.  Indeed, the greatest single reason for the occurrence of cervical cancer is not having Pap smears according to recommended guidelines.

Get with the program.  Don’t be a silly girl.  After all, it’s only your life.

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Abortion Pill

Almost 80 percent of all abortions take place in Third World, poverty stricken nations.  But as we know, those abortions, because of a lack of training and bad facilities, can be very dangerous.  According to the World Health Organization up to 70,000 women die each year from complications from these abortions.

Think about that – 70,000 women each year.

Think about that again.

But now there is some hope on the horizon.  There is now a pill called misoprostol that is cheap and safe that can be used to induce abortions or, as it is being called, “medical abortions.”  This pill was originally developed to prevent stomach ulcers.  But now, thousands and thousands of women are learning that it can be used to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

It is not a perfect solution.  It is about 80-85 percent effective.  But the pill is readily available across the world.  Indeed, the use of this pill overseas is exploding.  According to Marie Stopes International, nearly 70 percent of all abortions in Scotland are performed using misoprostol.  It is predicted that the use of this pill will spread rapidly.  Indeed, some women’s health groups are calling this a “revolution” in women’s health.

Let’s hope so….

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Grant

President Obama recently announced the start of a new $110 million campaign that will fund programs that teach teenagers about the risks of specific sexual activity and the benefits of contraception.  Just last month, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $75 million to 75 groups to try to reproduce some of the 28 programs deemed to have been “proven effective through rigorous evaluation.”   Then, DHHS awarded $35 million to 40 groups to test “innovative strategies” that appeared promising.

At the same time, however, in a political balancing act, the Administration also awarded twelve grants for about $9.3 million for abstinence-only programs!  What the heck?   For example, the Live the Life Ministries of

Health

Tallahassee received $891,533 for its abstinence program!   In Kansas, the “Women’s Clinic” received over $1 million and it is a crisis pregnancy center which tries to lure women in seeking abortions in the hopes of talking them out of their decision.

Of course, organizations that support abstinence only programs are disappointed that they did not receive more money.   Too bad, I say.

As for President Obama tossing some money to these groups, I say – again – “what the heck?”

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Teen Pregnancy

I am not going to take a lot of your time today, but I just need to convey this thought.

I’m normally not into statistics.  I grow bored very quickly when I start to see a lot of numbers on a piece of paper.  I also know that numbers can be manipulated to fit anyone’s agenda.    Still, I ran across some numbers lately that I can’t stop thinking about.

A recent report found that the rate at which teenagers are having babies varies significantly from state to state and from race to race.

According to the report, Arkansas led the nation in 2008 with 61.8 births per 1,000 girls aged 15-19.  Why am I not surprised?    I don’t have the entire report in front of me but I would not be shocked if Mississippi and Alabama were not far behind Arkansas.

Pregnancy Rates

Meanwhile, in 2007, the birth rate among Hispanic teens was 81.6 per 1,000, which is nearly TRIPLE the rate for white teenagers.  I guess we have the good ole Catholic Church to thank for that one, huh?

When are people going to get their heads out of their butts?

Are we some kind of Third World nation?

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Today Show

I have been watching the “Today” show for a good thirty years.  I’ve been through dozens of co-hosts and countless funky weathermen.  Unfortunately, in the last few years I’ve watched “Today” morph from a true news show to a morning version of “Entertainment Tonight.”  And I’m tired of it.  So, Matt and Meredith and Al, if you are listening, I need to tell you that I’m gone.

The tipping point came yesterday morning.  Waiting for my coffee to brew, buttering my toast, I switched on the TV to Channel Four and heard that familiar opening theme.  You know the one I’m talking about, the one that starts with the three heavy notes.  I can’t convey that sound in writing, but if you take a second you’ll hear it.  Then, after this dramatic intro, you hear the somber voice of Matt Lauer.

“Soaker,” he announces.

Huh?   Did he say “soaker?”    What the frig does “soaker”  mean?

I glance at the television and see a quick shot of a street and it looks like it is raining.  I am puzzled.

He then gives us the next one word verbal “headline,” which I will get to in a minute.

After this titillating intro, Matt proceeds to give us a little more information on that FIRST story on this NATIONAL television broadcast that is being watched my MILLIONS of Americans.  I have to assume it’s something significant.  I am on the edge of my seat.

He proceeds to tell us that it is raining pretty hard in Florida.  Yep, that’s it.  The first story of the day is that it is raining heavily somewhere in the state of Florida.  People are getting – you guessed it – soaked.  What the heck?  Is that it?  Are you kidding me?

Matt and Meredith

Then, for a live, action-filled report on this breaking story, the camera cuts to some dweeb who is standing in the middle of this “soaker” wearing the obligatory heavy rain gear.  His hood is over his head but, honestly, I don’t see any rain falling on him.   Now, mind you, he is not talking about a hurricane.  No one has mentioned the word “tropical storm.”   Heck, he hasn’t even used the word “tropical depression.”   No, it was just a lot of rain.  It was a “soaker.”

They cut to a street where you can see some water backing up.  I also see cars flying back and forth, zipping right through the puddles.   Meanwhile, this brave reporter, who wants us to think he is risking his life for us, is using the obligatory buzzwords to keep our attention.  “I will add, Matt, that there have been no DEATHS or no SERIOUS INJURIES due to this STORM. “

This was the first story of the day.  This was the hard news that the producers of “Today” thought I just had to know.   Then there was the second most important story of the day.

It seems that there was some beauty contest in Australia or New Zealand or one of those semi-English speaking countries.  After hours of inane interviews and silly talent displays, the field was pared down to two young girls.  The emcee, a woman, took out the card with the winner’s name on it and, in true Ryan Seacrest form, milked the announcement for several minutes.  The tension was palpable.  Finally, she declares the winner and the place goes nuts.  The new Miss Marsupial is screaming her lungs out, jumping all over the place.  The runner-up gives her the obligatory hug while no doubt cursing her under her breath.

But, wait a minute!   The emcee is yelling something over the din.  She is screaming “I made a mistake, I made a mistake!”   Well, it seems that she screwed it up and named the wrong person.  So, she had to suck it up, stop the premature celebration and announce, practically in tears, that the original winner was really the runner up.

A funny story, if you ask me.  Maybe a little sad as well.

But my point is was this really the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT

Anne and Al

NATIONAL story of the day?  I mean, c’mon folks, do I really need to know about this screw up?  Didn’t anything happen somewhere in the rest of the entire world that qualified as real news?   We’re in a war for God’s sakes, didn’t we win some skirmish somewhere or capture some terrorist?   Didn’t some city or state pass some controversial new law?   Believe me, Matt, I can take the hard news if you got it.

But the more I think about it, maybe the “Today” show and other “news” shows are just giving the public want they want.  Maybe most folks don’t want to hear about some boring debate in the U.S. Congress, even if it is about a bill that would reduce carbon emissions and possibly stave off the DESTRUCTION OF OUR PLANET.  Maybe people just don’t want to be too serious and they’re just looking for fluff.  In some ways I guess can’t blame them.  But, for me, I must say adios Matt.

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World Contraception Day

World Contraception Day

Did you know that today has been declared “World Contraception Day?”

I frankly do not know who declared it as such but I don’t care.  It’s a great opportunity to think and opine a little about the important of contraception and how it affects the basic human rights of women all over the world.

It is no secret that contraception is an important tool in helping women make one of the most important decisions of her life – whether or not to bear children.  Now I know there are a bunch of men out there who think bearing a child is no big deal, that it is just a “natural” thing for a woman to want to do.  Well, guys, it really is not that simple.

The fact is that almost 215 million women in this world do not have access to modern birth control.  Obviously, most of them are in the underdeveloped nations of the world.  So, in these often male-dominated societies, where having more children is a sign of the man’s “masculinity”, women are practically being forced to bear more children.  That, of course, then perpetuates the cycle of poverty that has been going on for generations. And it’s not just individual males who are perpetuating this situation.  For example, courts in Chile, Ecuador, and Peru have all recently restricted or banned emergency contraception based on the ridiculous claim that it is the same as performing an abortion.  In places like the Philippines, public clinics and hospitals have been prohibited for years from distributing any kind of contraception.

Emergency Conraception

Emergency Conraception

Here in the United States, while contraception is more readily available than in underdeveloped countries, there are still battles that are being fought on a daily basis.  One of the more aggressive groups trying to make access to contraception easier is the Center for Reproductive Rights.  For example, just last year they won a ruling in federal court which compelled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to revisit the restrictions it put on the availability of emergency contraception, otherwise known as the morning after pill.  Unfortunately, despite the presence of a pro-choice administration, they still have to press the FDA to comply with the judge’s order.  In addition, the Center is working on the world wide problem.  For example, they recently asked the Human Rights Council on Human Rights to focus on the high rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among low-income women.  They are also working with their local partners in Slovakia to examine how government subsidies can expand access to contraception to low-income Slovak women.

Center for Reproductive Rights and Abortion

Center for Reproductive Rights and Abortion

Kudos to the Center for Reproductive Rights!

Then, of course, in this country there are the persistent legislative efforts to allow healthcare professionals to refuse to provide emergency contraception to women if they personally object to the product.   Don’t even get me started on that one…

And while all this is going on, the anti-abortion movement sits back and refusesd to support providing better access to birth control.  To me, this is the height of hypocrisy.  Here they have the chance to prevent millions of abortions which I thought was their goal.  But, no, they’ve got their head in the sand and refuse to support the only real proven way to prevent abortions.  Indeed, I really believe that they would just rather stand outside of the clinics and scream at women as they enter abortion clinics.  The irony is that they may be yelling at a woman who is going in to get Norplant inserted or to start a new regimen of birth control pills….

And while I’m at it – where the heck is that male birth control pill?

Abortion

Abortion

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