Category Archives: Reproductive Rights

Teaching the ABC’s of Sex in IL?

Sexual education has long been a hott topic in American politics and society. Republicans hate it (on the principle that it admits sex exists); Democrats love it (as long as it doesn’t make their moderate middle constituents too uncomfortable); and most Americans seem to have strong opinions about it even if many of those opinions are based on clever political jargon.

But behind the jargon, the majority of Americans think sex ed should be taught in school (93% according to a 2004 survey) and often parents assume sex ed is taught in school even if recent budget cuts have nixed the sex ed. And here is where the problem lies, parents think their children are receiving responsible sexual education but in many cases, students are receiving inadequate information in the form of abstinence only materials or they are receiving no education at all.

The IL PREP bill (formerly HB1619 and now HB 3027) seeks to change that, with a baby step. The bill would require schools which have sex ed provide medically accurate and age-appropriate content; it does not require schools teach sex ed, only that if a school does have a sex ed program, the information taught in class be accurate. This translates to talking about all the abc’s of sex including abstinence and birth control and condoms.

But even this baby step bill has had a rocky road. After months of negotiations in the state legislature, the bill fell short by one vote in April. The bill has been revived this month and thanks to a few minor changes, is likely to pass this time around. 

Read more on the PREP bill here:,0,1098839.story

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Filed under Reproductive Rights, Sex

90%, fact vs. political jargon

see stephen colbert video here:

Sentator Jon Kyl will hopefully always be remembered for his claim that 90% of  Planned Parenthood services are abortion as well as his staff’s follow up comment that this claim was not meant to be “factual.”

I sincerely hope that this political misstep will be remembered for its sheer insanity as well as the fact it illustrates, the GOPs reliance on people not checking facts but accepting political jargon.

The fact is abortions are 3% of Planned Parenthoods services and none of those abortions are paid for with federal money. That is the fact.

As Gail Collin’s points our in her Sunday column, this fight over Planned Parenthood is not about facts or even abortion, it is about rallying the base against reproductive rights.

Collin’s writes “For eons now, people have been wondering why the two sides can’t just join hands and agree to work together to reduce the number of abortions by expanding the availability of family-planning services and contraception.The answer is that a large part of the anti-abortion community is also anti-contraception.”

Read Collin’s full article here.

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New Threats to Access to Abortion in IL

Last month was the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the supreme-court decision that gave American women access to the safe abortions. For the past 38 years, abortion has been legal, at least on paper. Being 25, I can’t imagine a United States of America where abortion is illegal; nor I can imagine a United States where the abortion isn’t a highly controversial topic impolite for dinner conversation but appropriate for graphic posters outside medical clinics.

But while abortion is legal, little by little, access to abortion has been restricted over the past 38 years. States have made abortions after 20 weeks illegal, they have made it financially challenging for clinics to receive funding or they have put mandatory wait times between consultations and abortion procedures.

Illinois is no exception. This month the Agriculture Committee of the house will bring a bill HB1919 to the floor. The bill will require abortion providers to show patients an ultrasound of the fetus before an abortion is performed. The bill will then require patients to wait one hour before the procedure can be performed. It is obvious that this bill has no medical relevance. An ultrasound is not necessary for an abortion nor is forcing a woman to wait an hour is a paper gown before receiving a procedure she and her doctor has decided is necessary. This bill will put an extra burden on abortion clinics who already have more demand than time available.

ACLU is hosting a Rally for Choice: Women are not livestock event in Springfield 15 March 2011

For today’s young American women, who may have had an abortion or who may need an abortion in the future, an America doesn’t exist where abortion isn’t illegal. Yet every year politicians chip away a little at what constitutes legal. And quite frankly, it just isn’t their decision. We may not know a world without abortion but we know we want to keep access to abortion available for ourselves, our friends and for future generations. On Tuesday March 15th there will be a Rally for Choice in Springfield. Take the day to voice your opinion and to tell the state legislation that women’s choice does not belong on the Ag Committee’s agenda. Register here on the ACLU website.

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Filed under Events in Chicago, Reproductive Rights, The Politics

Walk for Choice! Young People Show Up To Support Choice.

I have never been a great chanter. I blame it on my inherent lack of rhythm as a white person; screaming slogans while rhythmically hoisting poster board has never been my strong suit, not even in my hippy college days.

Going to my first pro-choice rally in Chicago this Saturday, I was naturally nervous that my awkward inability to chant, “Ho! Ho! Hey! Hey! Women’s rights are here to stay!” would expose me as the novice marcher that I am. I practiced some traditional slogans the night before. “Hey! Hey! Mister! Mister! Get your laws off my sister!” I repeated into the mirror until I had sufficiently mastered the elegant prose.

On rally day, I downed a pot a coffee and headed for Daley plaza ready to impress the masses with my in-sync vocals.  As I blended into the hundreds of pro-choice demonstrators and prepared to shout, I realized the majority of marchers surrounding me were young people, like me, and many of them were quiet.

I admit I was expecting a showing of middle-aged feminists with flowers braided into their hair shouting slogans about their vaginas. But the crowd that surrounded me was in their 20’s with bright orange t-shirts thrown over their Northface jackets. Some had banners and were shouting slogans but many were just holding signs and occasionally waving at beeping cars that passed.

As we began to walk through downtown Chicago, I found myself not chanting but waving to encouraging drivers and downtown tourists. My fellow marchers were Planned Parenthood employees, students from the suburbs, a feminist from Iowa and a family who wanted to show their kids what civic engagement looks like.

The crowd was young and diverse.  As one passerby noted, “There are a lot of dudes here.” There were also children, a few dogs and one distinctly colored 5-inch mohawk. And although some came prepared with whistles, signs and impressive lung capacity, others just seemed to show up.

I realized marching that this isn’t the 70’s and social progress isn’t about the strength of your chants. From Egypt to Daley plaza in 2011 it is just about showing up. Young people especially are filling the proverbial and physical squares around the world, and whether or not they are chanting something, they are all saying we have something to say.

There are a number of ominous budgets cuts headed to Congress right now. Everything from Planned Parenthood to PBS to Americorps is being threatened. You don’t need to practice slogans from the 70’s to support these causes. It is 2011, folks. Update your Facebook status, tweet it, blog it, sign an on-line letter campaign, text a donation, or just show up. As for me, I’m going to blog my support of for Planned Parenthood and save the chants for when they are really necessary, like the next Justin Bieber concert: “Bieber Fever! Bieber Fever”

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Filed under Events in Chicago, Reproductive Rights, The Politics

Abortion not a “women’s issue”

For some time now I’ve been interested in what I affectionately refer to as “women’s issues,” that vast swath issues ranging from domestic violence to women’s image in the media to the most notorious of women’s issues out there abortion. As “women’s issues” these topics are usually handled by women in the media. But to my delighted surprise, a recent Salon article written by a man about abortion was one of the most honest and enlightenign articles I’ve read on the subject for a while.

The author Aaron Traister

The male writer is Aaron Traister and he describes how abortion and reproductive rights have touched every part of his life. From his mother’s decision to end a dangerous pregnancy to his college’s girlfriends decision to have an abortion to his wife’s access to birth control, each of the women in his life made reproductive choices that not only affected their future but his. Realizing this, Traister writes one of the strongest arguments for men becoming involved in the pro-choice movement.

I wish all men could read this and understand there is no such thing as “women’s issues.” As Traister, says “The destinies of men and women are intertwined by sex, and pregnancy, and childbirth. It is time for more men to sack up and start taking responsibility for their end of the conversation.” Read the full article here .

I must admit that there is a part of me that is protective about “women’s issues” and particularly abortion. A part of me doesn’t want to give up ownership of something that has to do so intimately with my body and my future. But as I read Traister’s story, I came to the same conclusion with him: abortion is a difficult decision which we are all responsible for defending and perhaps in sharing this responsibility the burden will become a bit less.

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Filed under Low Brow, Magazine, Reproductive Rights

Gail Collin’s describes Republican’s War on Women

Gail Collin’s is a personal hero of mine. Her recent op ed piece about Republican’s War on Women describes the current illogical political jargon so perfectly I have nothing to do but copy and paste:

“Our legislative slogan for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches.

“What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?” demanded Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chief sponsor of a bill to bar the government from directing any money to any organization that provides abortion services.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t use government money to provide abortions; Congress already prohibits that, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. (Another anti-abortion bill that’s coming up for hearing originally proposed changing the wording to “forcible rape,” presumably under the theory that there was a problem with volunteer rape victims. On that matter at least, cooler heads prevailed.)”

Read the full article here

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Filed under Low Brow, Newspapers, Reproductive Rights, The Politics

An eye for an eye, a mass of cells for a doctor’s life

You can’t “kill” a mass of cells in a women’s uterus but in South Dakota it is A-Okay to kill a full grown adult. A new bill would make killing an abortion doctor legal if the intent was to save a fetus. Who really thinks this is a good idea?

Read the article here

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Filed under Low Brow, Magazine, Reproductive Rights, The Politics

Abortion’s Common Ground: It’s Not Your Decision

For as long as I have been alive, abortion has been legal. It has also been one of the most divisive issues of my generation, not just in the media, politics or in the church but within my own circle of friends. The majority of my friends are pro-choice yet what we would do personally if we became pregnant, the decisions vary widely.

But no matter what each of us feel individually, we all understand it is not our choice to decide what another person should do with her uterus, her 9-months and her future. This is the common ground we all stand on. Although personally we all have different values, we know our values are not somehow better than anyone else’s.

This is the major common ground missed in most abortion arguments. In light of the recent horrific news about an illegal abortion clinic in Philadelphia, Salon’s Rebekah Kuschmider reminds readers that this common ground still exists.

Kuschmider remarks that “Societies over the course of human history have tried to put all kinds of different regulations and rules on sex but in the end, pretty much everybody does it. And you do not have the right to impose your personal sexual morals on anyone else. You don’t. It’s rude. So please don’t try.”

She continues to confirm that indeed the human race has sex and sex produces pregnancy. She encourages society to change the way we look at sex, reproductive rights and the attitudes we hold towards women and sex.

“Telling young women that having sex makes them “bad” is a good way to totally undermine their self-esteem if they do have sex and lead them to make poor choices about it,” Kuschmider says.

While my friends and I  have these conversations about abortion “what ifs,” we also have discussions about the best type of birth control, which condoms are most enjoyable as well as what positions we like and what makes good sex great. And just as we would never tell a friend that liking “doggy style” is just weird and wrong, or perfering ribbed condoms is immoral, we would never say the personal decision to have an abortion is right or wrong.

Read Kuschmider’s full article here

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Filed under Feminist Rant, Low Brow, Magazine, Reproductive Rights, The Politics