Thursday, December 5, 2013
ThinkProgress: Pregnancy, Birth, And Abortion Rates For U.S. Teens Have All Hit A Record Low, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
There’s some encouraging news in the Centers for Disease Control’s latest report about pregnancy rates among U.S. women. According to the agency, teen pregnancies have been steadily declining over the past two decades — hitting a new historic low in 2009, the most recent year with data on the subject. That’s led to new lows for the rates of teen births and abortions, too. . . .
Saturday, October 26, 2013
In recognition of Intersex Awareness Day, I'm pleased to publish this commentary by Courtney Fraser, Fall Intern at Advocates for Informed Choice (’15, University of California, Berkeley School of Law):
There’s no “I” in LGBT: How Reproductive Justice can (and must) end intersex invisibility
“Intersex? What’s that?” – so begins a series of questions I have become quite accustomed to fielding in my Civil Externship seminar. My classmates, some of whom are avid social justice advocates, are all familiar with reproductive rights; many of them even support LGBT causes, but few have ever heard the word “intersex” before. Most people probably haven’t. In honor of International Intersex Awareness Day, October 26, I’d say there’s no time like the present.
“Intersex” describes those who are born with ambiguous genitalia, or bodies that otherwise do not match societal ideas of “typical” male or female configurations. My externship this fall is with Advocates for Informed Choice, an (read: THE) organization working to protect the rights of intersex people. Right now, I have the honor of being involved with AIC’s groundbreaking litigation on behalf of a child (identified as M.C.) who suffered unnecessary genital surgery while he was still a baby. When I am called upon to explain my work to the class, invariably someone is shocked. That happens? All the time. To how many people? As many as 1 percent of live births are intersex, and 0.1 or 0.2 percent become victims of “normalizing” surgical mutilation.
So why aren’t more people outraged? Why do so few people even know about this?
Sunday, October 13, 2013
ABC News: Court Says Nebraska Teenager Too Immature to Decide on Abortion, by Sidney Lupkin:
A Nebraska teenager in foster care was denied access to an abortion, because the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled she wasn't mature enough to make that decision on her own, according to a court opinion published this month. . . .
Under the governing Supreme Court case law, courts are supposed to grant a teenager permission for an abortion if (1) she is sufficiently mature to make the decision on her own or (2) the abortion would be in her best interests (or, under some states' laws, if telling her parents would not be in her best interests). Here, the biological parents' rights were reportedly terminated based on their abuse and neglect. One would think that would satisfy the second part of the test, but the court apparently found that inquiry to be inapplicable, at least as applied to the teenager's biological parents, given that their rights were terminated. There is a sad irony in the courts' further determination that "the young woman wasn't mature enough to make the abortion decision on her own because she was financially dependent on her foster parents and had never lived on her own or mentioned any work experience." It seems those were the very factors that led her to make the mature decision that parenthood was not a realistic option.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
The Raw Story/The Guardian: Germany will be first European country to recognize babies as gender ‘undetermined’ come November:
Germany will become the first country in Europe to join a small group of nations which recognise a third or “undetermined” sex when registering births, according to a report in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
From November 1, babies born in Germany without clear gender-determining physical characteristics will be able to be registered without gender on their birth certificates, according to the report. . . .
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The New York Times: HPV Vaccine Not Reaching Enough Girls, C.D.C. Says, by Sabrina Tavernise:
The very low vaccination rate for teenage girls against the human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection and a principal cause of cervical cancer — did not improve at all from 2011 to 2012, and health officials on Thursday said a survey found that doctors were often failing to bring it up or recommend it when girls came in for other reasons. . . .
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The New York Times: Report Finds Gradual Fall in Female Genital Cutting in Africa, by Celia W. Dugger:
A comprehensive new assessment of the ancient practice of female genital cutting has found a gradual but significant decline in many countries, even in some where it remains deeply entrenched.
Teenage girls are now less likely to have been cut than older women in more than half of the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated, according to the assessment by the United Nations Children’s Fund. . . .
The Boston Globe: Plan B One-Step gets exclusive rights, by Deborah Kotz:
The US Food and Drug Administration decided late Monday night to grant exclusive rights to Teva Pharmaceuticals to put its brand name form of emergency contraception on drugstore shelves without any age restrictions for the next three years. Plan B One-Step, Teva’s product, has started to appear in some drugstores this week on shelves next to spermicides and pregnancy tests. . . .
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Department of Educ. Office for Civil Rights Urges Greater Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: Dear Colleague Letter:
We as a nation need to do more to help the hundreds of thousands of young people who become mothers and fathers each year graduate from high school ready for college and successful careers. According to studies cited in the attached pamphlet, Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 26 percent of young men and young women combined who had dropped out of public high schools — and one-third of young women — said that becoming a parent was a major factor in their decision to leave school. And, only 51 percent of young women who had a child before age 20 earned their high school diploma by age 22. The educational prospects are worse at the higher-education level. Only 2 percent of young women who had a child before age 18 earned a college degree by age 30. This low education attainment means that young parents are more likely than their peers to be unemployed or underemployed, and the ones who do find jobs will, on average, earn significantly less than their peers.
To help improve the high school and college graduation rates of young parents, we must support pregnant and parenting students so that they can stay in school and complete their education, and thereby build better lives for themselves and their children. . . .
Monday, May 20, 2013
The Los Angeles Times - op-ed: A birth control double standard, by Meg Waite Clayton:
Condoms are readily available without identification. Why not Plan B?
In the uproar about making the morning-after contraceptive known as Plan B available to our daughters, there has been no similar outcry about condoms and our sons. Anyone of any age can walk into a drugstore — as well as most grocery and big-box stores — and buy condoms. . . .
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The New York Times: U.S. to Defend Age Limits on Morning-After Pill Sales, by Pam Belluck & Michael D. Shear:
The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge’s order to make the most common morning-after contraceptive available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.
The announcement came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said that one well-known morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step, would be made available without a prescription for girls as young as 15 — instead of only to girls ages 17 and over, as has been the case. . . .
The Los Angeles Times: Government will appeal Plan B emergency birth control ruling, by Monte Morin:
The U.S. attorney's office announced late Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge's decision to make Plan B One-Step and related emergency birth control pills available to consumers of all ages without a prescription. . . .
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: FDA approves 'morning-after pill' for women 15 and up, by Sam Baker:
The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that the contraceptive known as Plan B should be available without a prescription for all women 15 and older.
The move is sure to stir controversy among social conservatives, some of whom view Plan B as a form of abortion. Unlike other forms of birth control, Plan B is intended for use after sex, rather than before. . . .
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: FDA pressed to go further on Plan B, by Sam Baker:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is under pressure from political activists — and some doctors — to remove all age restrictions on the over-the-counter sale of Plan B.
The FDA made waves Tuesday by allowing the sale of Plan B without a prescription to women 15 and older. Its previous policy had restricted the drug to patients 17 and older.
Women's-health advocates said the move from 17 to 15 was a good first step, but doesn't go far enough. . . .
RH Reality Check: Administration Again Fails on Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception, by Jodi Jacobson:
Today, in a proposal that can best be described as adding insult to injury, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved making emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter for teens and women ages 15 and up. This convoluted proposal from the Obama administration comes despite a court order in early April by U.S. District Court Judge Edward R. Korman to make EC available over-the-counter to all ages within 30 days of his decision. It comes from an administration which pledged to make science the cornerstone of public policy and instead has consistently flouted a wealth of accumulated evidence on emergency contraception. It also comes after several studies showing that current policy requiring prescriptions for some groups and not others has confused so many pharmacists that access to EC has been denied to many who were in fact legally eligible to obtain it quickly. In practice, the new policy will almost certainly perpetuate, not resolve, that confusion. . . .
The Nation: Hey, FDA: Drop the Plan B Restriction, by Jessica Valenti:
Yesterday, the FDA announced that it will make Plan B—also known as emergency contraception (EC) or the morning after pill—available over the counter to women older than 15 years old who can prove their age. This decision comes less than a week before the end of a thirty-day deadline imposed by a federal judge mandating EC be available without a prescription to women of all ages. So despite the FDA’s announcement, the Obama administration still needs to appeal the judge’s decision or request a stay by Monday. . . .
Monday, April 15, 2013
Fox News Latino: New York City Launches Teen Sex Education iPhone App:
New York City has pulled out all the stops in recent months to make sure the city’s teens are informed when it comes to their sexual health.
Most recently, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has launched the “Teens in NYC Protection +” app.
The app helps teens find clinics throughout the New York City area that offer everything from condoms to STD, HIV, and pregnancy tests. . . .
Friday, April 5, 2013
The New York Times: Judge Orders Morning-After Pill Available for All Ages, by Pam Belluck:
A federal judge ruled Friday that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. In his ruling, he also accused the federal government of “bad faith” in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available. . . .
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Healthwatch: North Dakota lawmakers push new attack on Planned Parenthood, by Sam Baker:
Planned Parenthood is fighting to save a sex-education program in North Dakota that is under attack just as the state has passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country.
The North Dakota Legislature is considering a measure that would likely cut off state funding for a comprehensive sex-ed program supported by Planned Parenthood and North Dakota State University.
"This is incredibly unusual. No state has tried to block a comprehensive sex education program like this, ever," Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, told reporters Monday. . . .
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The New York Times: Posters on Teenage Pregnancy Draw Fire, by Kate Taylor:
The curly-haired baby looks out from the poster with sad eyes and tears dripping down his tawny cheeks.
“I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” the text next to his head reads.
In another poster, a dark-skinned little girl casts her eyes to the sky and says, “Honestly Mom ... chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”
These images, part of a public education campaign targeting teenage pregnancy that the city unveiled this week, are drawing mounting criticism from reproductive health advocates, women who had children as teenagers, and others . . . .
The two ads described here, in addition to stigmatizing pregnant teens and reinforcing stereotypes, are disturbing in the way they target teen mothers through the fictional accusations of their own babies. Did the mayor's office forget that it takes two to create a pregnancy? Blaming "bad mothers" is a time-worn, punitive, and utterly unproductive way to try to address the social realities of poverty and sex and race discrimination. Read PPNYC's response to the ads here.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
TIME: In Texas, a Pregnant Teen Sues Her Parents to Avoid an Abortion, by Bonnie Rochman:
It’s the kind of case that invigorates the Texas Center for Defense of Life, which has handled three similar situations in the two years since it was founded. “Parents think they’re making a decision for their daughters like pulling a tooth or getting their tonsils out,” says Stephen Casey, who spoke to the boy’s mother and agreed to file suit against the girl’s parents. “But now that the girl is pregnant, the parents become grandparents and they can’t make a decision for the girl about her unborn child.”. . .
The Hill - Healthwatch: Study: Teen birth rate highest in rural areas, by Elise Viebeck:
The teen birth rate in rural areas of the United States is nearly one-third greater than in other parts of the country, according to a new study.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found declining teen birth rates across the country have been slower to take effect in rural counties. . . .
Guttmacher Institute – News Release: 2008 State-Level Teen Pregnancy Data Now Available, by Rebecca Wind:
Teen pregnancy rates declined steadily in all 50 states between 1988 and 2005. However, between 2005 and 2008, the teen pregnancy rate decreased by 5% or more in 7 states, while increasing by 5% or more in 16 states, according to "U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity." While these short-term increases are troubling, recent evidence from the CDC, including further reductions in teen birth rates in nearly all states between 2008 and 2010 and preliminary numbers indicating a decrease in teen abortions in 2009, indicate that teen pregnancy rates will continue their long-term declines. . . .
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: GOP bill would tighten rules on parental consent for abortion, by Ramsey Cox:
A group of GOP senators introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit minors from crossing state lines to avoid parental involvement in the decision to get an abortion.
Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are the lead sponsors of the legislation. Some states don’t require parental consent for minors to get an abortion, causing some to cross state lines in order to avoid telling their parents about the procedure. . . .
For more on the history of this recurring bill, see:
National Abortion Federation: Teen Endangerment Act Repackaged: A Menacing Maze for Young Women, Their Families, and Their Doctors
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: Sex ed bill nixes 'gender stereotypes', by Elise Viebeck:
A new sex education bill would give grants to programs that reject gender stereotypes and embrace LGBT students.
The legislation from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and 32 other Democrats encourages a "comprehensive" approach to sex ed. . . .