April 8th, 2014

The Supreme Court in the Philippines has approved a birth control law, in a defeat for the Catholic Church.

The law requires government health centres to distribute free condoms and contraceptive pills.

The court had deferred implementation after the law’s passage in December 2012 after church groups questioned its constitutionality.

Supporters of the law cheered as the court found that most of the provisions were constitutional.

The government of President Benigno Aquino defied years of church pressure by passing the bill.

It says the law will help the poor, who often cannot afford birth control, and combat the country’s high rates of maternal mortality.

The provisions will make virtually all forms of contraception freely available at public health clinics.

Sex education will also be compulsory in schools and public health workers will be required to receive family planning training.

There will also be medical care for women who have had illegal abortions.

I’m sorry America, we can’t hear you over the sound of the Philippines’s cheering.

February 24th, 2013

Oklahoma already prevents women fromusing their insurance plans to help cover abortion services, but Republicans aren’t stopping there. One state lawmaker wants to continue stripping insurance coverage for reproductive health services, advancing a measure that would allow employers to refuse to cover birth control for any reason — based solely on the fact that one of his constituents believes it “poisons women’s bodies.”

Under State Sen. Clark Jolley (R)’s measure, “no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees.” According to the Tulsa World, Jolley’s inspiration for his bill came from one of his male constituents who is morally opposed to birth control, and wanted to find a small group insurance plan for himself and his family that didn’t include coverage for those services:

Jolley said the measure is the result of a request from a constituent, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, an Oklahoma City cardiologist who describes himself as a natural family planning medical consultant and women’s health researcher. […]

Women are worse off with contraception because it suppresses and disables who they are, Pedulla said.

“Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”

The bill has already cleared a Senate Health committee and now makes it way to Oklahoma’s full Senate. It is unlikely that either Jolley and Pedulla themselves rely on insurance coverage for hormonal contraceptive services — but if the measure becomes law, the two men could limit the health insurance options for the nearly two million women who live in Oklahoma.

Of course, contraception does not actually poison women. The FDA approved the first oral birth control pill in 1960, and that type of contraception is so safe that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends making it available without a prescription, as it is in most other countries around the world. Furthermore, considering that over 99 percent of women of reproductive age have used some form of birth control, the Oklahoma women who rely on insurance coverage for their contraception would likely disagree with Pedulla’s assertion that it “suppresses and radically contradicts part of their own identity.”

In reality, access to affordable birth control is a critical economic issue for women. When women have control over their reproductive choices, it allows them to achieve economic goalslike completing their education, becoming financially independent, or keeping a job. But birth control can carry high out-of-pocket costs, and over half of young women say they haven’t used their contraceptive method as directed because of cost prohibitions. Nonetheless, Republican lawmakers have repeatedly pushed measures to allow employers to drop coverage for birth control.

August 14th, 2012

Lynn Beisner explains the difference between the two phrases “The best choice for both my mother and me would have been abortion” and “I wish I had never been born.”

If there is one thing that anti-choice activists do that makes me see red, it is when they parade out their poster children: men, women, and children who were “targeted for abortion.” They tell us “these people would not be alive today if abortion had been legal or if their mothers had made a different choice.”

In the past couple of months, I have read two of these abortion deliverance stories that have been particularly offensive. The first story is one propagated by Rebecca Kiessling, the poster child for the no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. On her website Kiessling says that every time we say that abortion should be allowed at least in the case of rape or incest we are saying to her: “If I had my way, you’d be dead right now.” She goes onto say, “I absolutely would have been aborted if it had been legal in Michigan when I was an unborn child, and I can tell you that it hurts [when people say that abortion should be legal.]“

The second story was on the Good Men Project this week. In an article entitled, “Delivered From Abortion: Healing A Forgotten Memory,” Gordon Dalbey tells a highly unlikely story about his mother’s decision to abort him and her eventual change of heart. I say that the story is highly unlikely because the type of abortion he says his mother was about to have was not available until 50 years later. However, Dalbey claims to have recovered a memory of being “delivered” from the abortion because as a fetus he cried out to God. He claims that the near-abortion experience had caused him psychological suffering throughout his life. Since recovering the memory, he has experienced survivor’s guilt because he was saved when so many other fetuses have been aborted. In explaining how he overcame this guilt, he quotes a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who says that the purpose of surviving is to testify to the experience.  

What makes these stories so infuriating to me is that they are emotional blackmail. As readers or listeners, we are almost forced by these anti-choice versions of A Wonderful Life to say, “Oh, I am so glad you were born.” And then by extension, we are soon forced into saying, “Yes, of course, every blastula of cells should be allowed to develop into a human being.” 

Stories like Mr. Dalbey’s are probably effective because they follow the same model. First there is a woman facing the unplanned pregnancy that poses severe problems. In Dalbey’s case, his family is suffering from extreme poverty, and in the case of Kiessling, her mother is dealing with the aftermath of rape. The story shifts so that the mother has a divine or moral enlightenment and knows that she must carry the baby to term. We are left with an adult praising the bravery of their mothers and testifying that their lives were saved for some higher purpose. But the story goes on to tell us how even the contemplation of abortion was horribly scarring for the person. The moral of these stories is clear: Considering abortion is like considering genocide. 

Here is why it is so effective: People freak out when you tell an opposing story. I make even my most ardent pro-choice friends and colleagues very uncomfortable when I explain why my mother should have aborted me. Somehow they confuse the well-considered and rational: “The best choice for both my mother and me would have been abortion” with the infamous expression of depression and angst: “I wish I had never been born.” The two are really very different things, and we must draw that distinction clearly.

The narrative that anti-choice crusaders are telling is powerful, moving, and best of all, it has a happy ending. It makes the woman who carries to term a hero, and for narrative purposes, it hides her maternal failing. We cannot argue against heroic, redemptive happy-ending fairy tales using cold statistics. If we want to keep our reproductive rights, we must be willing to tell our stories, to be willing and able to say, “I love my life, but I wish my mother had aborted me.”

An abortion would have absolutely been better for my mother. An abortion made it more likely that she would finish high school and get a college education. At college in the late 1960s, it seems likely that she would have found feminism or psychology or something that would have helped her overcome her childhood trauma and pick better partners. She would have been better prepared when she had children. If nothing else, getting an abortion would have saved her from plunging into poverty. She likely would have stayed in the same socioeconomic strata as her parents and grandparents who were professors. I wish she had aborted me because I love her and want what is best for her.

Abortion would have been a better option for me. If you believe what reproductive scientists tell us, that I was nothing more than a conglomeration of cells, then there was nothing lost. I could have experienced no consciousness or pain. But even if you discount science and believe that I had consciousness and could experience pain at six gestational weeks, I would chose the brief pain or fear of an abortion over the decades of suffering I endured.

An abortion would have been best for me because there is no way that my love-starved trauma-addled mother could have ever put me up for adoption. It was either abortion or raising me herself, and she was in no position to raise a child. She had suffered a traumatic brain injury, witnessed and experienced severe domestic violence, and while she was in grade school she was raped by a stranger and her mother committed suicide. She was severely depressed and suicidal, had an extremely poor support system, was experiencing an unplanned pregnancy that resulted from coercive sex, and she was so young that her brain was still undeveloped.

With that constellation of factors, there was a very high statistical probability that my mother would be an abusive parent, that we would spend the rest of our lives in crushing poverty, and that we would both be highly vulnerable to predatory organizations and men. And that is exactly what happened. She abused me, beating me viciously and often. We lived in bone-crushing poverty, and our little family became a magnet for predatory men and organizations. My mother found minimal support in a small church, and became involved with the pastor who was undeniably schizophrenic, narcissistic, and sadistic. The abuse I endured was compounded by deprivation. Before the age of 14, I had never been to a sleep-over, been allowed to talk to a friend on the phone, eaten in a restaurant, watched a television show, listened to the radio, read a non-Christian book, or even worn a pair of jeans.

If this were an anti-choice story, this is the part where I would tell you how I overcame great odds and my life now has special meaning. I would ask you to affirm that, of course, you are happy I was born, and that the world would be a darker, poorer place without me.

It is true that in the past 12 years, I have been able to rise above the circumstances of my birth and build a life that I truly love. But no one should have to make such a Herculean struggle for simple normalcy. Even given the happiness and success I now enjoy, if I could go back in time and make the choice for my mother, it would be abortion.

The world would not be a darker or poorer place without me. Actually, in terms of contributions to the world, I am a net loss. Everything that I have done—including parenting, teaching, researching, and being a loving partner—could have been done as well if not better by other people. Any positive contributions that I have made are completely offset by what it has cost society to help me overcome the disadvantages and injuries of my childhood to become a functional and contributing member of society.

It is not easy to say, “I wish my mother had aborted me.” The Right would have us see abortion as women acting out of cowardice, selfishness, or convenience. But for many women, like my mother, abortion would be an inconvenient act of courage and selflessness. I am sad for both of us that she could not find the courage and selflessness. But my attitude is that as long as I am already here, I might as well do all I can to make the world a better place, to ease the suffering of others, and to experience love and life to its fullest.

August 7th, 2012

The Republican war on women an interesting turn earlier today when a male Democratic Senator had the unmitigated gall to use a scientific term with respects to the birth control debate. During a lively discussion of the Affordable Care Act’s Women’s Health package, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), echoed a fairly well-known and obvious fact that birth control can aid some women suffering from difficulties with menstruation.

In his defense of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurance plans cover preventative care, including birth control pills, Harkin said the following:

"There are many women who take birth control pills, for example, because they have terrible menstrual cramps once a month, some of them almost incapacitated, can’t work. I know of young women myself who, because of this, aren’t able to work and be productive, and it’s prescribed by their doctor, said the longtime Democratic Senator(Jezebel)

Ew, menstration! Not to be gauche, but perhaps Harkin should’ve said freedom female gravy? As if uttering the scientific phrase in the presence of other men will cause the male penis to come off.

Pretend human being and Anne-Coulter-in-training, Dana Loesch, whose only credentials appear to be an active Twitter account and the ability to say things equally as fallacious as they are horrific on cue, was apparently horrified at Harkin’s suggestion. In her routine temper tantrum, Loesch failed to acknowledge the fact that Harkin never stated all women could benefit from birth control during menstration.

"It’s asinine to suggest that birth control is the only way women can control menstrual cramps. Speaking from experience with endometriosis, there are a number of other remedies available to women that assist with this issue, not just birth control pills. If it was about women’s health, the "birth control" aspect wouldn’t be at the spear of the left’s push," said Loesch(Jezebel)

It’s safe to say that she’s a better pretend journalist than she is a pretend doctor.

In her “what crap can I say to get more ignorant Twitter followers” statement, Loesch also blatantly overlooked the fact that the Affordable Healthcare Act also covers other preventive health coverage unrelated to birth control. But once again, Dana: kudos on being a female and denouncing  a dude who’s more concerned with women’s health than Twitter followers. If anything, this should prompt a debate on insurers covering pills that help people suffering from nausea related to things Dana Loesch says.

Jesus fucking Christ.

June 24th, 2012

A new poll released this week by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) shows that American voters overwhelmingly support access to affordable contraception. According to the poll (PDF), the Obama Administration’s rule under the Affordable Care Act that requires all employers, including religiously-affiliated employers, to include contraception coverage without co-pays or deductibles in their health insurance plans is viewed by most voters as being about economics and women’s health, not religious liberty.

In a joint press release, Marcia Greenberger, co-president of NWLC and Cecile Richards, president of PPFA, announced the results of the poll and emphasized the wide support for affordable contraception. Marcia Greenberger wrote, “This polling demonstrates, once again, that Americans across the political spectrum and religious beliefs support affordable access to prescription birth control and reject opponents’ claims that this is not a matter of basic health care. The use of birth control is nearly universal among sexually active women, regardless of their political or religious beliefs, and this new polling mirrors that reality. For a majority of voters, this is a matter of basic health care, not of religious freedom.”

The poll found that 73 percent of voters agreed that Americans should have access to affordable contraception, and 55 percent strongly agreed. Fifty-four percent of voters who identified as pro-life agreed with this, as did 66 percent of Catholics and 58 percent of Evangelical Protestants. Fifty-six percent of voters identified the Obama Administration’s rule as a matter of economics and health while 36 percent viewed it as a matter of religious liberty. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 for the full sample.

States protect Men’s Health more than Women’s.

States protect Men’s Health more than Women’s.

June 21st, 2012

plannedparenthood:

Photobucket

Three cheers for birth control! According to a new CDC study, the abortion rate for women in their 20s has dropped because of increased access to birth control. Where would you be today without your birth control? Give us your answer in your reblog.

Dunno if I’d be pregnant but I sure as hell would be an emotional wreck every 15 days, as I suffered from Pre AND post menstrual syndrome. And it is heavy. And can be very painful. AND it’s irregular as hell. (When I was prescribed the Pill, I had just gone from nearly 10 months of no period to one every 15 days, and they all lasted about 9 days.)

But it let me get on with my school and social life and I’m in a long term relationship with a bloke who is also very grateful for my birth control ;)
and about to start a post-graduate teaching course with a very good history degree under my belt.

So.

Suck it anti-contraception people.  

June 12th, 2012

Important questions in my life…

mostlyrubbish:

Why do people call contraception birth control? Shouldn’t it be like, pregnancy prevention?

Just because, birth control sounds like something you should take when you go into labour in a really inconvenient place, just to put it off for a few more hours, like on a train or something. And contraception is something you need to take care of like… 9 months BEFORE the birth, to prevent it from happening at all…

Why do I think of these things.

OMG that’s how my mind works.

But obviously we both know why it’s called birth control. 

(Source: nearly-headless-ned)

20) Better Vacations

One major advantage of taking birth control pills is that a woman can “start” her period a few days earlier or a few days later. It can be very helpful if you are going on a vacation and want to enjoy time by the pool instead of worrying about unwanted leakage.

19)  Clearer Skin

Birth control pills are a great way to treat teenage or adult acne. Acne is often caused by a hormonal imbalance, and birth control pills can help regulate that imbalance and eliminate the origin of acne.

18)  Prevention Against Ovarian Cysts

Birth control pills reduce the risk of developing ovarian cysts. An ovarian cyst is a fluid filled growth that can develop in the ovary during ovulation. Over time, the cyst can enlarge greatly or even burst and may require surgery. Birth control pills prevent ovulation and so the cysts have less chances of forming in the ovaries.

17)  Regulation of Menstrual Cramps

It is a well-known fact that for some women, menstrual periods are accompanied by painful cramps. Birth control pills help to regulate the flow of your period. In fact, the pill was first marketed in the 1950s not as a contraceptive, but to regularize menstruation. Even Pope Pius XII approved this use of the drug. By preventing ovulation, birth control pills decrease the pain that usually accompanies this process, and can help women survive menstrual periods with less pain.

16)  Prevents Excess Hair Growth

Oral contraceptives suppress the hormones androgen and testosterone which cause excess facial hair and darkening of the skin.

15)  Protection From Various Forms of Cancer

In addition to protecting against cysts and other serious health conditions, oral contraception can prevent ovarian and Colorectal cancer. Studies show that the risk of developing uterine cancer reduces considerably after 1 year of using the pill and the risk of ovarian cancer is reduced with just 3 to 6 months.

14)  Increases Fertility

One of the common causes of infertility in women is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is a serious bacterial infection of the fallopian tubes and uterus that causes severe pain and can often lead to infertility. Birth control pills thicken the cervical mucus which acts as a barrier that helps to prevent the bacteria that causes infection from entering the cervix.

13)  Healthier Moms-to-Be 

Using contraception can also give women a chance to get healthy before they conceive — to stop smoking, lose weight, or lower their blood sugar.

12)Fewer Miscarriages 

Studies show that short periods between pregnancies have been associated with increased risk of higher mortality for children under age 5, low birth weight, preterm births, stillbirths, miscarriages, and maternal death. Birth control lets women space out their pregnancies resulting in healthier babies.

11) Bigger Boobs

Depending on the level of hormones in your contraception, taking birth control can give women’s bust size a boost. (Now that’s a benefit that both women and men can appreciate).

10) More College Educated Women

Birth control helps women plan their families so they can focus on their education and their careers. Before the landmark Griswold v. Connecticut decision in 1960, which established the right to marital privacy, only 35% of college students were women. Today women represent at least 57% of students on most college campuses.

9) Fewer Mood Swings and Temper Tantrums

All variations of modern birth control contain some amount of estrogen. Certain pills have higher doses which can reduce severe mood swings and bloating that some women get before their monthly periods, usually referred to as premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD.

8) Fewer Abortions

In countries where women have limited access to contraception, abortion rates are higher than in countries where it is easier to obtain. When contraception was banned by an executive order in Manila — the capital of the Philippines — the rate of abortion increased by more than 10%.

7) Fewer minivans 

The math is simple: More babies equals more space needed in your home and in your car. If you have more than three kids, a minivan is surely in your future. Contraception allows women to control their reproduction so you can keep that BMW 3 series.

6) Teaches responsibility

It is not a stretch to assume that those who seek to make safe, informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health will also be more likely to get tested for STDs and diseases. Which brings us to number 5…

5) Prevents Sexually Transmitted Diseases

When someone says birth control, people usually think the pill, the ring or the patch, but condoms – both male and female — are a widely used form of contraception. When used properly, condoms can be 98% effective against STD infection.

4) What Happens in the Bedroom, Stays in the Bedroom

Contraception allows women to have safe sex with their partners without anyone knowing. Seven years after Griswold vs. Connecticut granted right to privacy for marital couples, the Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) decision extended that right to unmarried couples. 

3) Fewer Menstrual Migraines

Sixty percent of women with migraines link their attacks to menstruation. Studies indicate that menstrual migraine occurs in 8–14% of women. Certain birth control polls can decrease the hormonal fluctuations that trigger certain migraine attacks in women.

2) Promotes an Active, Healthy Sex Life

Contraception, when used effectively, can take the worry out of sex, meaning that women and their partners can enjoy the pure act of sex without the consequences of pregnancy or STD’s.

1) And the number one reason why women should have access to birth control is because it will piss off Rush Limbaugh!

Rush Limbaugh has been one of the loudest critics against access to birth control, calling one woman who wanted her contraception covered a slut. Contraception gives women control over their own bodies and fertility. Some women will use birth control to prevent pregnancy and others will use it for any of the 20 reasons documented on this list, but no matter what the reason, the decision to use contraception belongs to a woman and no one else.  

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June 5th, 2012
Conservative bishops and Congressmen are fighting a rear-guard action against one of the most revolutionary changes in human history.

Yes, we did. And the fact that we were wrong about that points to a deeper trend at work, one that needs a bit of long-term historical context put around it so we can really understand what’s going on. Let me explain.What’s happening in Congress this week, as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) bars any women from testifying at his so-called “religious freedom” hearings, is so familiar and expected that it hardly counts as news. The only thing surprising about it is the year: didn’t we all honestly think that by 2012, contraception would be a non-issue, and Congress wouldn’t make the mistake of leaving women out of conversations like this one?

When people look back on the 20th century from the vantage point of 500 years on, they will remember the 1900s for three big things.

One was the integrated circuit, and (more importantly) the Internet and the information revolution that it made possible. When our descendants look back, they’re likely to see this as an all-levels, all-sectors disruption on the scale of the printing press — but even more all-encompassing. (Google “the Singularity” for scenarios on just how dramatic this might be.)

The second was the moon landing, a first-time-ever milestone in human history that our galaxy-trotting grandkids five centuries on may well view about the same way we see Magellan’s first daring circumnavigation of the globe.

But the third one is the silent one, the one that I’ve never seen come up on anybody’s list of Innovations That Changed The World, but matters perhaps more deeply than any of the more obvious things that usually come to mind. And that’s the mass availability of nearly 100% effective contraception. Far from being a mere 500-year event, we may have to go back to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire to find something that’s so completely disruptive to the way humans have lived for the entire duration of our remembered history.

Until the condom, the diaphragm, the Pill, the IUD, and all the subsequent variants of hormonal fertility control came along, anatomy really was destiny — and all of the world’s societies were organized around that central fact. Women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. With a few rebellious or well-born exceptions (and a few outlier cultures that somehow found their way to a more equal footing), the vast majority of women who’ve ever lived on this planet were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions designed to guarantee that they bore the right kids to the right man at the right time — even if that meant effectively jailing them at home.

Our biology reduced us to a kind of chattel, subject to strictures that owed more to property law than the more rights-based laws that applied to men. Becoming literate or mastering a trade or participating in public life wasn’t unheard-of; but unlike the men, the world’s women have always had to fit those extras in around their primary duty to their children and husband — and have usually paid a very stiff price if it was thought that those duties were being neglected.

Men, in return, thrived. The ego candy they feasted on by virtue of automatically outranking half the world’s population was only the start of it. They got full economic and social control over our bodies, our labor, our affections, and our futures. They got to make the rules, name the gods we would worship, and dictate the terms we would live under. In most cultures, they had the right to sex on demand within the marriage, and also to break their marriage vows with impunity — a luxury that would get women banished or killed. As long as pregnancy remained the defining fact of our lives, they got to run the whole show. The world was their party, and they had a fabulous time. 

Thousands of generations of men and women have lived under some variant of this order — some variations more benevolent, some more brutal, but all similar enough in form and intention — in all times and places, going back to where our memory of time ends. Look at it this way, and you get a striking perspective on just how world-changing it was when, within the span of just a few short decades in the middle of the 20th century, all of that suddenly ended. For the first time in human history, new technologies made fertility a conscious choice for an ever-growing number of the planet’s females. And that, in turn, changed everything else.

With that one essential choice came the possibility, for the first time, to make a vast range of other choices for ourselves that were simply never within reach before. We could choose to delay childbearing and limit the number of children we raise; and that, in turn, freed up time and energy to explore the world beyond the home. We could refuse to marry or have babies at all, and pursue our other passions instead. Contraception was the single necessary key that opened the door to the whole new universe of activities that had always been zealously monopolized by the men — education, the trades, the arts, government, travel, spiritual and cultural leadership, and even (eventually) war making. 

That one fact, that one technological shift, is now rocking the foundations of every culture on the planet — and will keep rocking it for a very long time to come. It is, over time, bringing a louder and prouder female voice into the running of the world’s affairs at every level, creating new conversations and new priorities in areas where the men long ago thought things were settled and understood. It’s bending our understanding of what sex is about, and when and with whom we can have it — a wrinkle that created new frontiers for gay folk as well. It may well prove to the be the one breakthrough most responsible for the survival of the human race, and the future viability of the planet.

But perhaps most critically for us right now: mass-produced, affordable, reliable contraception has shredded the ages-old social contracts between men and women, and is forcing us all (willing or not) into wholesale re-negotiations on a raft of new ones.

And, frankly, while some men have embraced this new order— perhaps seeing in it the potential to open up some interesting new choices for them, too — a global majority is increasingly confused, enraged, and terrified by it. They never wanted to be at this table in the first place, and they’re furious to even find themselves being forced to have this conversation at all. 

It was never meant to happen. It never should have happened. And they’re doing their damndest to put a stop to it all, right now, and make it go away.

It’s this rage that’s driving the Catholic bishops into a frenzied donnybrook fight against contraception — despite the very real possibility that this fight could, in the end, damage their church even more fatally than the molestation scandal did.  As the keepers of a 2000-year-old enterprise — one of the oldest continuously-operating organizations on the planet, in fact — they take the very long view. And they understand, better than most of us, just how unprecedented this development is in the grand sweep of history, and the serious threat it poses to everything their church has stood for going back to antiquity. (Including, very much, the more recent doctrine of papal infallability.)

That same frantic panic over the loss of the ancient bargain also lies that the core of the worldwide rash of fundamentalist religions. Modern industrial economies have undermined the authority of men both in the public sphere and in the private realms; and since they’re limited in how far they can challenge it in the external world, they’ve turned women’s bodies into the symbolic battlefield on which their anxieties over this play out. Drill down to the very deepest center of any of these movements, and you’ll find men who are experiencing this change as a kind of personal annihilation, a loss of masculine identity so deep that they are literally interpreting it as the end of the world. (The first rule of understanding apocalyptic movements is this: If someone tells you the world is ending, believe them. Because for them, it probably is.)

They are, above everything else, desperate to get their women back under firm control. And in their minds, things will not be right again until they’re assured that the girls are locked up even more tightly, so they will never, ever get away like that again.

If you’re a woman of childbearing age in the US, you’ve had access to effective contraception your entire fertile life; and odds are good that your mother and grandmother did, too. If you’re a heterosexual man of almost any age, odds are good that you also enjoy a lifetime of opportunities for sexual openness and variety that your grandfathers probably couldn’t have imagined — also thanks entirely to good contraception. From our individual personal perspectives, it feels like we’ve had this right, and this technology, forever. We take it so completely for granted that we simply cannot imagine that it could ever go away. It leads to a sweet complacency: birth control is something that’s always been there for us, and we’re rather stunned that anybody could possibly find it controversial enough to pick a fight over.

But if we’re wise, we’ll keep our eyes on the long game, because you can bet that those angry men are, too. The hard fact is this: We’re only 50 years into a revolution that may ultimately take two or three centuries to completely work its way through the world’s many cultures and religions. (To put this in perspective: it was 300 years from Gutenberg’s printing press to the scientific and intellectual re-alignments of the Enlightenment, and to the French and American revolutions that that liberating technology ultimately made possible. These things can take a loooong time to work all the way out.) Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will, in all likelihood, still be working out the details of these new gender agreements a century from now; and it may be a century after that before their grandkids can truly start taking any of this for granted.

That sounds daunting, though I don’t mean it to be. What I do want is for those of us, male and female, whose lives have been transformed for the better in this new post-Pill order to think in longer terms. Male privilege has been with us for — how long? Ten thousand years? A hundred thousand? Contraception, in the mere blink of an eye in historical terms, toppled the core rationale that justified that entire system. And now, every aspect of human society is frantically racing to catch up with that stunning fact. Everything will have to change in response to this — families, business, religion, politics, economics…everything.

We’re in this catch-up process for the long haul. In the meantime, we shouldn’t be surprised to be confronted by large groups of well-organized men (and their female flunkies, who are legion) marshaling their vast resources to get every last one of Pandora’s frolicking contraception-fueled demons back into the box.  And we need to accept and prepare for the likelihood that much of the history of this century, when it’s finally written, will be the story of our children’s ongoing struggles against the organized powers that intend to seize back the means of our liberation, and turn back the clock to the way things used to be.

What we’ve learned these past few weeks is: the fight for contraception is not only not over — it hasn’t even really started yet. 

June 1st, 2012

In media coverage of women’s issues such as abortion, birth control, and Planned Parenthood, men are doing most of the talking, a new study has found. Men are quoted around five times more than women in these stories, according to the research group The 4th Estate, which has been studying election coverage for the past six months.  

women's health

Clockwise from top left: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Dan Skerbitz, director of Personhood Oklahoma, Rep. Robert Dold, R-Ill., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., spoke at 2012 news conferences on issues related to women’s health including birth control, Planned Parenthood, and abortion. (AP Photo (4))

Among 35 major national print publications, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, men had 81 percent of the quotes in stories about abortion, the research group said Thursday, while women had 12 percent, and organizations had 7 percent.  

In stories about birth control, men scored 75 percent of the quotes, with women getting 19 percent and organizations getting 6 percent. Stories about Planned Parenthood had a similar ratio, with men getting 67 percent, women getting 26 percent, and organizations getting 7 percent.  

Women fared a bit better in stories about women’s rights, getting 31 percent of the quotes compared with 52 percent for men and 17 percent for organizations. 

Men didn’t just dominate stories on women’s issues, the study found, but stories on all election topics, including the economy and foreign policy. Among individual publications, men had 65 percent of quotes on general election topics in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune. Men had 67 percent of quotes in The Washington Post and 76 percent in USA Today. 

Men ruled the airwaves as well. The study looked at 11 major national television shows, finding that men had 81 percent of quotes on general election topics. Among individual shows, men were quoted 87 percent of the time on CNN State of the Union, 81 percent of the time on Hardball, 78 percent on Face the Nation, 77 percent on Fox News Special Report, and 69 percent on Meet the Press.  

“Sometimes it takes a quantifiable analysis to be able to show that the voices represented are still not balanced, and this is especially frustrating when stories are focused on women’s health and women’s rights topics,” said Joy Bacon, a co-founder of The Gender Report, a research group that monitors gender representation in Internet news. “It’s just another reason why we need more women in all sectors, including the media and healthcare, so there are more expert sources to turn to in the first place.” 

In the report, called Silenced: Gender Gap in the 2012 Election Coverage, researchers studied a total of 2,750 print articles and TV segments in the six-month period from Nov. 1 to May 15, according to The 4th Estate. The total quote count was 50,754, according to the group. The organization, based in Montpelier, Vt., is an offshoot of the privately held research company Global News Intelligence and is focused solely on media coverage during the 2012 presidential election. 

Separately, a recent study called The OpEd Project found that men are writing the majority of opinion columns in the media. In that study, researchers at a site calledThe Byline Blog evaluated more than 7,000 opinion columns in 10 media outlets over a 12-week period from Sept. 15 to Dec. 7, 2011, and found that women wrote just 33 percent of opinion columns in new media (websites), 20 percent in traditional media (print publications), and 38 percent in college media.

Numbers like these are “shocking but not surprising,” said Jasmine Linabary, a co-founder of The Gender Report. “Studies have consistently found that women are roughly a quarter or less of news sources. Counts like these continue to draw awareness and raise questions about why this might be the case. The answers are complicated, but the next question we need to ask ourselves is, what can be done about it?”

May 9th, 2012

Kate Beckinsale, Judy Greer and Andrea Savage use mockery and comic genius to show just how ridiculous — and offensive—  anti-choice legislation like forced ultrasound really is. I recommend watching the  clip in full — some of the funniest moments come at the very end.


"I make big decisions every day. And the Democrats want me to make even more?!”
"I could have the Government provide access to affordable birth control, decide when I want to get pregnant, do tests on the foetus to make sure it’s healthy and then have a baby”

"Or! the Government could restrict birth control, up my chances of getting pregnant with an unwanted child-“

”- forcing me to have an invasive vaginal ultrasound with no diagnostic purpose -“
" - scaring me into not having tests which they say more often than not end abortion…”

”- and THEN have a baby :D It’s just easier!” 

April 30th, 2012

TRUE STORY: I BUY BIRTH CONTROL FROM A TRUNK

My first thought on buying car trunk birth control? Ewww. But six months later it’s more like, “Yay!!”
Shayla

8 hours ago | 121 Comments

All this happened because I had the audacity to want to go to grad school. To make that happen, I had to put my grown-up life on hold and live in the back room of my mom’s house until I got my fancy pants master’s degree. Having a kid in that situation would be beyond inconvenient.

So without money or health insurance, I hightailed it to Planned Parenthood once a month to pay $30 bucks for birth control in an concious effort to keep my womb fetus-free. This worked wonderfully until (one particularly broke weekend) the cost of my NuvaRings spiked $20 dollars without explanation.  

For $50 bucks a month, I figured it’d be less expensive to just go on ahead and raise my hypothetical baby.  Fortunately, my thesis (and total lack of motherly instinct) knew that having a kid was still a very bad idea. But I only had $30 dollars, two of which were in quarters. Then and there I decided Susan G. Komen is somehow responsible for this nightmare and I left the clinic empty-handed for the first time in months.

The next day I sulked on over to the hair salon to beg my stylist for a freebee.  When she relented, I sat in her chair to vent about my lack of Nuva Ring dilemma, because aside from executing a mean “press n curl” she’s there to listen to me complain. I expected her to nod absentmindedly at my pain in the same way she does every other Saturday afternoon. But instead, after listening to my womb woes, she bent over and whispered the sentence every fiscally challenged person longs to hear: “I got the hook-up.”  

Now “the hook-up,” in laymen’s terms, is an unauthorized connection to goods or services that is typically illegal in nature. I’ve received said hook-up on cell phone chargers, the occasional bootlegged DVD and a $50 dollar store credit at Wet Seal that I swear was for a friend. But a hook-up on birth control?  Eww.  

Before I could even fix my lips to give my hair stylist a courteous, “Hell no,”  she tells me that her best friend’s second cousin charges $15 dollars for a month’s supply. Fifteen dollars? Maybe bootleg birth control wasn’t such a bad thing after all. 

Fast forward to 30 minutes later and I’m outside the salon next to a rust-colored Plymouth Reliant, shaking hands with a portly young woman who introduces herself as Ruwanda. She pries open the trunk and rattles off the names of pills like list of fine wines;  “Loestrin, Yasmin, or Alesse?” Fingers crossed, I whisper, “NuvaRing?”   

It’s a freakishly warm November day. Ruwanda snaps her fingers and reaches into her oven of a trunk for one of the rings I’m pretty sure is supposed to be stored at 60 degrees. When I grab for it, I’m worried that, not only has the Indian summer destroyed its contraceptive power, but that the ring may singe my va jay jay on the way up.  But Ruwanda hands it over and, lo and behold, it’s cool to the touch.  

I want to ask how she gets them, but can’t, because the rule for this and any other illicit transaction is always, “Don’t ask.  Don’t tell.”

Before I hand over the money, I give the city block around us the shifty eye to make sure no one is watching. I inspect the packet with trembling hands. The little blue package isn’t some Canal Street knock off. It’s the real freaking deal. I caress the ring, resist the urge to hiss, “My precious,” and I shove it into my back pocket.

If this were an episode of “Intervention,” I’d be shooing the cameraman away not to keep my face out of frame, but to protect sweet Ruwanda’s identity. I have to make sure she’s not in jail this time next month when I’ll need another fix.

After a convincing sales pitch, I decide to buy three rings for less than the price of what Planned Parenthood charged me for one. Ruwanda even throws in a free ring, part of her new customer promotion. Before we part, Ruwanda grabs a satchel out of her steamy trunk. It’s filled with packets of Plan B pills. Apparently, they sell like hot cakes at the barbershop next door.

It’s six months later and my lady parts are still vacant, save for the NuvaRing.  Meanwhile, a bunch of white guys in Congress, none of who will probably ever get pregnant, are trying to make it even harder for me to get the birth control that’s keeping my life plan on track.  I guess to keep me from screwing half the county on the taxpayers’ dime when all I want to do is NOT have a baby before I have a grown up house, a grown-up job and all the other means to take care of one. 

I’m willing to bet that Ruwanda’s dozens of other customers and the one in five women without health insurance have a similar American dream. But unlike many of them, soon I’ll graduate and hopefully be able to get a real job with real benefits. Until then, Ruwanda and her entrepreneurial American spirit will keep making my birth control as accessible as a freshly delivered pizza. So she’ll continue to get my birth control business, as long as her car continues to run.

March 30th, 2012

LiveScience reported yesterday on a working paper out from University of Michigan economist Martha Bailey, which suggests that about 1/3 of women’s wage increases relative to men since the 1960s have been the result of access to the birth control pill. Bailey explained the findings in terms of women having the ability to better plan their lives, both personally and professionally:

“As the pill provided younger women the expectation of greater control over childbearing, women invested more in their human capital and careers…Most affected were women with some college, who benefitted from these investments through remarkable wage gains over their lifetimes.”

March 16th, 2012

When I first heard about billionaire and Rick Santorum supporter Foster Friess offering contraceptive advice on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show, I checked the Onion.

My own grandfather made a similar comment once-upon-a-time, but it was decidedly before 1986. And there was no question that Grandpap was making a joke. I understood that at the ripe old age of 12.

But sure enough, soon every major news outlet was on the airreporting Friess’ famous words:

"I get such a chuckle when these things come out. Here we have millions of our fellow Americans unemployed; we have jihadist camps being set up in Latin America, which Rick has been warning about; and people seem to be so preoccupied with sex. I think it says something about our culture. We maybe need a massive therapy session so we can concentrate on what the real issues are. And this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s [so] inexpensive. Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly."

I slapped my forehead and yelled at the TV, “Do you know how many sexual positions are actually possible with your knees closed?”
 The message is clear: Women need to keep our knees (and our mouths) shut. (Never you mind that pregnancy requires input, if you’ll pardon the pun, from men to actually occur). Frankly, it’s insulting.

Beyond the insult, Friess’ “advice” is downright irresponsible in the wake of abstinence-only education because there’s still a lot of sex (and therefore a lot of baby-making) that can occur with a small pill between the knees. Trust me, I tried it. 

Also her partner is fucking awesome for doing this.