Illinois action blog

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blurring the line between protest and harassment

Rocky Mountain News in Denver, CO reported on a story this week that anti-choice protesters set up camp at the home of an executive for a construction company that was hired to renovate and expand a facility for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. The facility will provide much-needed healthcare services for the area (and help in preventing unintended pregnancies), but that didn't stop the protesters from marching around the executive's house carrying their usual, despicable fetus signs.

This brings up a couple questions for me.

First of all, the right to express your opinion is an important one, but parading in front of some one's private home in order to scare and bully them into doing what you want is crossing the line, is it not? The anti-choice protest organizer says in the article that "[they] want to make it uncomfortable to build abortion facilities." By "uncomfortable" they obviously mean intimidating.

Secondly, in light of these types of situations, why do some people still not understand why some Planned Parenthood affiliates must choose to use a low-visibility approach regarding permitting processes for new facilities? This is EXACTLY what Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area wanted to avoid in Aurora. No one wants to experience harassment - especially not for simply doing your job.

Kudos to Gary Meggison, the senior vice president of The Weitz Company Rocky Mountain Business Office for standing up to the protesters. Mr. Meggison says in the article,"We're more resolved than ever to build this facility and get it completed." Sounds like intimidation tactics will get them nowhere this time.

Technorati tags: anti-abortion protesters,Denver Planned Parenthood,Weitz Company

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Take action for affordable birth control

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you've read about a critically important issue facing students and other low-income individuals: skyrocketing birth control prices.

Last year, Congress changed a law which, for nearly twenty years, has allowed pharmaceutical companies to provide birth control pills at very low cost to certain health care providers. In doing so, Congress inadvertently cut off college and university health centers and some community health providers from obtaining birth control at low cost.

On some college campuses, birth control has gone from $5 or $10 to $40 or $50 dollars. Some college health centers have stopped providing birth control at all. This pricing affects over 3 million college students and 750,000 low-income women and is having a devastating impact on women and families nationwide.

Tell your member of Congress to fix the problem by making a small change in the law. It doesn't cost Congress or taxpayers a dime, but will allow university health centers and safety net providers to offer affordable birth control to women who need it.

Illinois Representative Mark Kirk, as an original co-sponsor, deserves a shout out for helping to get this legisation off the ground. Representative Jan Schakowsky also deserves thanks for signing on.

Please let your Representative know how you feel about this issue.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Where we're heading with this blog...

First of all, we’d like to offer a huge THANK YOU to Veronica for pitching in right when we needed her most. Veronica did a tremendous job of blogging on our fight to open our Aurora health center and beyond. Her honest and insightful commentary will be sorely missed by the rest of our online team. Our only consolation is that she’s agreed to guest blog from time to time, so stay tuned for occasional updates from Veronica. And of course, if you need an immediate Veronica fix you can always hop over to Viva La Feminista.

Now that we can concentrate the brunt of our efforts in Aurora on providing critical reproductive health services to women and families, we’d like to take the opportunity to broaden the focus of this blog to address the larger issues of reproductive rights facing Illinois and the nation.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t still keep you updated on the situation in Aurora. As you know the opposition just doesn’t seem to be able to get over the fact that our health center is up and running. We will definitely continue to post updates specific to the Aurora center.

But (as Veronica has already done a great job of pointing out!) we’re fighting for reproductive rights on a lot of fronts. We saw pro-choice people around the nation come together and say “What happens in Aurora happens to ME.” We also know that what happens in Kansas and Manassas, Virginia and Springfield, IL, and Washington, DC happens to all of us as well.

For that reason we are officially rolling this blog into our Planned Parenthood Action Illinois statewide online advocacy program. While we may change the blog’s color scheme, most other things will stay the same. I hope you’ll stay involved with us through this blog, our email list, and through Myspace and Facebook. And I hope you'll stick with us as we continue to post updates, commentary and action alerts on our fight to protect reproductive rights for women in Aurora, Illinois, and everywhere else.

Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood Action Illinois
Reproductive Rights

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When I signed on to write for this blog, I knew it would be a short term project and that was fine with me. As my partner said, "Do you really have time for this?" in my insanely hectic life? My response was, "For this, I will put off everything else." And I pretty much did because this issue, reproductive justice, means that much to me. All the other bits of my life add up to me working and fighting for reproductive justice, so calling a time-out on other projects wasn't a big deal.

Now we are all a month older and my time has expired. It's bittersweet, but I'm happy and proud to have helped this lil blog grow into a bigger and better one. Carrie will be posting soon about the future of the blog and oh, yes, there is a future. You won't want to miss it.

Organizations are spitting out blogs left and right because "blogs are hot." Rarely do you see an organization take the time to not only find someone with a blogging past to help develop a blog, but also to listen to them with open ears. Building a blog is much more than just typing a few words a day on a site. There is outreach, commenting, marketing, and a load of other stuff to make a blog more than just another place on the internet and meaningful to one's audience. And gosh darnit, it's tiring and hard. Considering that I've done more in four weeks for this blog than in seven years for my private one explains why I have 5 readers. That's not pity, just reality. This is hard work folks.

As I ride away in my hybrid, don't be a stranger. I'll try to guest blog here from time to time, but I also do write in other places. Please come and visit...The mommy blogging isn't just about spit-up and catty playdates.

To Carrie & the rest of the PPCA crew, thanks again for this fabulous opportunity.

To the readers, stay tuned.

To my family, thanks for putting up with an even more blog-obsessed me.

To my writing partners, thanks for giving me the time I needed.

To the wonderful bloggers out there who answered my call for help with this project, I'm in your debt.


I blog over at Chicago Parent, Chicago Moms Blog, and my personal site, Viva La Feminista!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The new front is old news

Bob Novak lauds Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney Phill Kline for continuing to file charge after charge against Planned Parenthood DESPITE that charges keep getting dropped. Somehow the fact that a sympathetic judge hasn't dropped them yet means that Kline is on the right track and apparently blazing a new trail.

In fact, it's a well-worn trail, Bob.

Aurora knows this all too well. Anti-choice forces have used the judicial system for years filing lawsuit after lawsuit. The fact that the opposition has a district attorney who doesn't do much other than file charges against a clinic is just a new flavor of an old routine. Kinda like how each "American Pie" movie has one scene where Jason Biggs gets himself into an awkward position, it's a new position, but you know he's getting caught.

Kline's audacity has given the Concerned Women of America (only concerned with putting women back in the kitchen) an idea. They are petitioning Congress to pull Planned Parenthood's funding until the Kansas allegations are cleared up. Nice. Let's pull money from clinics that help to PREVENT unplanned pregnancies. Yeah, that will really help end abortions.

Yet I have to think that the only reason our opposition files charges or lawsuits is to waste our money and time fighting them. And that Bob is very old news.

technorati tags: Novak, Kline, Planned Parenthood, Congres

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

A World Away

With all the pressures on our lives (work, family, volunteering, hobbies, working out) I think we all often forget we are a part of a larger world. Some of us fear getting involved in international women's issues because we don't want to look like know-it-all-American-women pushing our values on other women. Yet we also know that women in other countries desperately need our help and support.

Americans for the UN Population Fund has this great new tool/site that allows you to enter in your life story and then compare to another woman anywhere in the world.

I've just completed my lifeline at and want you to do the same!

I can compare my life to the lives of women from all over the world. Women's lives vary in so many ways — Americans for UNFPA shows us how, even though our lives are different, we can still make a difference in our world.

Log on and set up your lifeline today and show your support for the health and dignity of women everywhere.
I did it last night while bored at all the walks the Rockies gave up to the Red Sox (seriously, we need a slaughter rule in baseball). It was pretty fun. I compared myself to a 60yo woman in South America and a 33yo woman in Asia. The similarities were striking more so than the differences.

Yes, the site is run by the same group that has been trying to get the USA to pay its dues to the UNFPA since Bush has been in office:
The U.S. Committee for UNFPA, now Americans for UNFPA, was founded in 1998. We are the official committee for UNFPA in the United States. We support UNFPA by generating awareness of UNFPA’s work, fundraising for field programs, and advocating for U.S. policies in support of UNFPA, including the release of Congressionally-allocated U.S. funds that have been withheld by the Administration since 2002.
So head on over to the site, create your profile. You can find me by putting my first name in the "look for friends" search box. Easy, eh? I did put in my profile pretty quickly so it's not as thorough as others on there.


How "pro-lifers" promote abortion

Our friend Terry Cosgrove, at Personal PAC, has published an excellent piece at The Huffington Post that spells out how so-called "pro-life" advocates actually promote abortion. Terry points to the hypocrisy of anti-abortion forces' policies - like opposing birth control and comprehensive sex education in schools - which actually result in more unintended pregnancies and higher abortion rates.

Terry writes, "U.S. teenagers have higher pregnancy rates, birthrates and abortion rates than adolescents in other developed countries. The primary reason is that those nations don't allow political extremists to dictate reproductive health policy. In countries with the lowest abortion rates, women's health and well being do not take a back seat to politics."

It's an excellent critique. Read the whole piece here.

Planned Parenthood Aurora

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Two great letters in the Aurora Beacon News

I thought you would appreciate these two great letters, published last week in the Aurora Beacon News . We sure did. I couldn't find copies on the web, so we're reprinting them here for your reading pleasure. Let's give a shout out to Rev. Thompson and Renee for making their pro-choice voices heard. Thank you!

Not everyone agrees (Letter to the Aurora Beacon News)
Mr. Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League says that the local community does not support Planned Parenthood. I suggest he check again. He is not speaking for everyone in the local community. His protesters aren't the only ones who have rights to voice their opinions.

Rev. Clara Thompson, Montgomery

Free to Choose (Letter to the Aurora Beacon News)
I am pro choice. That doesn't mean I encourage or would have an abortion. It means that I believe that every woman has the right to choose. My teenagers have asked many questions about both sides of the issue. I do not encourage or discourage either way. They, too, have the right to choose what they believe. I want to thank whoever came in my yard, destroyed my support sign, and put 43 yellow signs in place. My children were shocked that a person or persons would try to intimidate to change our minds. We are proud to say that we will continue to display our pink sign because we all support choice.

Renee Nelson, Aurora

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The Politics of the Melanie Stokes Act

See that woman? She was Melanie Stokes, a beautiful woman who would had been one hell of a mother.

What happened?

She developed postpartum psychosis, which is the most extreme version of postpartum depression. She eventually jumped to her death from a Chicago hotel.

Why should this blog talk about her? One, today is BlogHers Act Day in support of the Mothers Act, which is the Senate version of the Melanie Stokes Act which wants to increase funding for research into postpartum depression and create a public awareness campaign. In the House version an anti-choice representative tacked on an amendment that calls for some of the funding to go towards studying depression in women after an abortion.

I go into my personal feelings over at my blog, but here I want to say sometime more simple.

I know that the abortion debate is polarizing, but I just cannot fathom why those who oppose abortion must put this issue into other debates. Instead of rallying around an issue I think most of us (Tom Cruise & friends aside) can agree on, our opposition has to splinter us.

To take action on the Mothers Act bill, click here.

That's it.

technorati tages: depression, abortion, postpartum, Melanie Stokes, Blogher, BlogHers Act

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I'm going to take liberty with having this platform to let out a huge WOOHOO!

This morning the space shuttle lifted off with a woman as commander. It is headed to the International Space Station, currently under the charge of a woman. As a bonified science nerd, I a must also point out that:
Also on hand for the launch was "Star Wars" director and writer George Lucas. Packed aboard Discovery is the lightsaber used by the character Luke Skywalker in 1983's "Return of the Jedi" to mark the 30th anniversary of the first "Star Wars" film.
I will wrap this back to our previous discussion about the increase of women in college to birth control. Cool, I got this blog back on topic. OK...back to our regular programming.

Not quite a student, not yet faculty

Today I want to talk about 'adult' students. No, not another story on 90-year-olds heading back to school (which I think is awesome). But graduate students. I personally think that a lot of the lack of action by some stems from the idea that as college student, one is still a 'kid' and thus shouldn't be having sex.

Graduate students vary in age, but safe to say that most are over 22, all have earned their bachelor's degree, and some might even be in a committed relationship. A lot of students feel that the simply cannot start a family while spending 10 hours a day in a lab setting, traveling around the country interviewing people or afford to take a semester off from a teaching assistantship. Surveys have shown that many heterosexual women who are striving for academic careers are partnered with a man who is also on an academic career path. If two people are graduate students, earning I'll guesstimate $20K a year each, should they be expected to afford a 300% increase in the price of birth control?

The Graduate Employees Organization at UIC has begun to organize around this issue. Adele from UIC GEO, and I emailed about why they are concerned about this issue:
It's interesting that you ask about how grad students have been affected by the price increase, because we do have such a strange position at the university as both students and employees.

Graduate students who are teaching assistants (employees of the University) do receive a waiver for CampusCare health insurance. This is the same plan that undergraduate students at UIC have. So the price increase also affects us.

Members of the GEO, like so many other people around campus, were really outraged by this price increase. The GEO recognizes this increase as a lack of healthcare coverage. As graduate employees we need to demand the full coverage that we pay for. Full coverage would mean that contraceptives would be made accessible.

Even though we feel that the price increase is an issue that we as campus employees need to fight for, we are also well aware that a broader injustice is being perpetrated to all women at UIC. As graduate students and employees we consider ourselves active and responsible members of the entire UIC community. As such, we feel that all groups invested in this issue should pool their resources and energy to work towards a fair and responsible resolution. A united front on this issue will, we hope, create more awareness and action around campus.

They will be rallying on campus this Wednesday in the quad at 1 pm to bring awareness to the increased price of birth control & their organizing. Whatever campus you are on, reach out and see if anyone else is also concerned about this issue. That graduate student union that means nothing to you as an undergrad just might be key to effective organizing. Find allies where ever you can!

technorati tags: birth control, congress, campus, colleges, university, Deficit Reduction Act, Planned Parenthood Aurora, Save Birth Control Now

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Monday, October 22, 2007

What will give?

I've known about the pending birth control price issue for quite some time. Some providers figured it out pretty early and the only thing keeping the story a non-issue was that many clinics stocked up as much as they could at the cheaper prices. What we are seeing is that clinics have run out of their stockpiles.

Just before classes started this fall, the Chicago Sun-Times profiled a student (whom I know) who got pregnant after going off her birth control because of the increase in prices (sadly the Sun-Times archives aren't free after 30 days). I think that her story and Valerie's show that students are very sensitive to economic factors. Birth control is NOT like gas, as a University of Kentucky editorial states. Despite Ashlie's optimism, student's won't pay any price to prevent pregnancy. Some will take their turn at Russian roulette, praying to their Gods & Goddesses that they aren't ovulating, hallelujahing when their period comes, and risk it again. Some will get pregnant, have abortions, surrender children to adoption, or parent. It's really sad when it can be prevented by an act of Congress.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney is on the case:
I am working with my pro-choice colleagues in Congress to close this ridiculous loophole and bring down the cost of prescription birth control at college health centers and free clinics. In fact, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt could easily close this unfair loophole and restore access to affordable birth control for millions of women. Yesterday, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and I wrote a letter urging him to do just that (to read the full text of our letter, click here). Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) is also working on legislation that would bring costs down.

Thank you Rep. Maloney! Contact your representative and see if she or he is also working on this issue.

technorati tags: birth control, congress, campus, colleges, university, Deficit Reduction Act, Planned Parenthood Aurora, Save Birth Control Now

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Valerie's Story

This is our first story for the week. Names will be changed unless stated at the beginning of the story. Please feel free to leave your own.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

I have a long term boyfriend who recently moved 250 miles away to attend another university. Now we only see each other on the weekends. Because of the price increase I'm considering getting off birth control and using spermicide gel. This makes me nervous because it's much less reliable. My boyfriend has a terrible aversion to gels and creams and make-up so it will be very unpleasant for him. I'm sensitive to latex so condoms are too irritating for regular use. I've even considered using the rhythm method even though I know it is the worst option.

We have an opportunity to see each other at most 4 times out of the month, for which I'm now paying $400 instead of $60 dollars a year. He is considering a vasectomy as he is certain he doesn't want children (a lot of cancer and other illnesses run in his family), and the increase in birth control is factoring into his decision. I personally don't want him to have a vasectomy. He offered to look for cheap pills while abroad a few months ago, but he wasn't able to get any. I'm visiting relatives in Europe this winter and will try to stock up over there. I'm looking on the internet too.

This is a terrible situation. My boyfriend and I are madly in love and hope to spend our lives together, it's affecting us both. He said he will help me pay but he already pays for so much and we're both poor students. Birth control pills are so ridiculously cheap to make, it's almost criminal what they're doing. Meanwhile Viagra is still covered by insurance. What sort of message are they sending? This makes women more powerless over their lives, I wouldn't be surprised if there will be a huge spike in STDs and a decrease in women graduating college due to pregnancy.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

According to a study published in 2002 by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, they did find an increase in women's participation in higher education that was a result of the development & increase availability of the pill. Sorry...subscription required, but college students, use your library privileges! :) From the introduction:
The careers of college graduate women and their age at first marriage both changed signicantly in the United States with cohorts born around 1950. Women were 10 percent of first-year law student in 1970 but were 36 percent in 1980. Among the cohort of female college graduates born in 1950, almost 50 percent married before age 23, but fewer than 30 percent did for those born in 1957. We ask whether the birth control pill and the legal environment that enabled young, unmarried women to obtain "the pill" altered women's career plans and their age at first marriage. Our answer is that they did.

I wish the study wasn't scanned so I could quote some of the awesome research they present. Not only do they go through the history of birth control in this country, but also the legal history of unmarried women being able to obtain it. One tibit that I will type out for you (without their citations) is about colleges providing services:
According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), just 12 institutions in 1966 (3.6 percent of those reporting) would prescribe the pill to unmarried students. In 1973, according to an extensive survey of college,s 19 percent would provide family planning services to students regardless of age and marital status. Because larger schools had a higher fraction providing services, about 42 percent of undergraduates would have been able to obtain such services. Thus, although in 1966 few student health services would prescribe the pill to unmarried women, by 1973 more than two-fifths of all undergraduates, regardless of marital status and age, could receive family planning services on campus, and others could obtain them locally without parental consent.
Not only do college-aged women want birth control, it appears that for women, the pill is a mighty and needed tool in our fight for equity in education and eventually in the work place.

technorati tags: birth control, congress, campus, colleges, university, Deficit Reduction Act, Planned Parenthood Aurora, Save Birth Control Now

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Senate stands up for abortion providers

The Chicago Tribune reported on Thursday that the US Senate beat back an amendment offered by "Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to stop funding health clinics, Planned Parenthood and other providers of reproductive health services if they use money from nonfederal sources to perform abortions." I know Sen. Vitter is opposed to providing condoms to sex workers internationally, so he's not for birth control at all or even for keeping one's self safe from STD/STI/HIV infection. Thus, it's not just abortion he is opposed to. Planned Parenthood could stop doing abortions and he's still try to find a way to cut off funding.

Yet according to a recent CBS poll on white Evangelicals, 26% of all respondents (not just Evangelicals) said it should be legal all the time. An additional 16% said yes, but with greater restrictions, 34% only for rape, incest, or to save the woman's life. That right there is a total of 76% who want abortion available. An additional 16% would reserve abortion for just saving a woman's life.

Sure, we can be negative and think only 26% support full abortion rights, but I know many pro-choice folks who do want some legal restrictions. I don't support most of them (I'd be in the 26%), but I understand their rational. But bottom-line, would you make abortion illegal and I'd say that a large majority of Americans would say no. Most of us don't like the idea of abortion, but know that we need it.

And as Senator Boxer said, "His amendment will do nothing to reduce abortions," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "It will make contraceptives harder to get, so it will increase the number of unintended pregnancies."

If Sen. Vitter wants a poll on birth control, I'm sure we'd win hands down.

HT to Kaiser Network

technorati tags: Planned Parenthood Aurora, abortion, Senate, Title X, birth control

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Save Birth Control Now!

This week we'll be focusing on the issue of the sky rocketing price of birth control on college and university campuses. If you have been affected by this issue, please feel free to leave your story in the comments or leave your email and I will contact you.

While the situation may not have been done deliberately, there is a solution. But Congress must act. And act soon.

The summer issue of Ms. had a great take on this issue and I'll leave you with that...for now.

technorati tags: birth control, congress, campus, colleges, university, Deficit Reduction Act, Planned Parenthood Aurora, Save Birth Control Now

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Want to prevent breast cancer? Give up that Ph.D.

As we mark Breast Cancer Awareness month many of us consider prevention methods. Some of us tally up how many women in our family has been struck by this disease. We give thought to what we might do, as individuals, to keep the disease at bay. Well guess what? HT to the Feminist Peace Network for finding the cure in a conservative web community:

“It’s another instance of ideology trumping science. Emphasizing the benefits of early motherhood could—gasp!—encourage some young women to give marriage more priority, and postpone their demanding career. They might decide it’s a diamond they most want now, not a PhD.”
First let's take a moment to recover from our laughing fit. The right pulling the ideology over science card? I don't think any of us have time to go through all THEIR ideology stances (EC, HPV vaccine, evolution, on and on) so let's move on.

As the wonderful folks over at the Feminist Peace Network point out, yes, having kids younger & breast feeding them longer will lower your risk, but it's not the only way. And thankfully, our former National leader, Gloria Feldt weighs in on the issue:

“(Dr Grossman) neglected to mention that there are substantial life-threatening risks from pregnancy and childbearing, especially too-frequent or closely spaced pregnancies and childbearing. Those risks would at least balance out any elevated risk of breast cancer incurred from delaying childbearing. Further, when you weigh in the risks to women and children associated with increased stress and poverty when families have more children than they can afford to care for, it’s a slam dunk that women are better off being able to plan and space their childbearing based on a number of health and social factors. Oh, and did Dr. Grossman forget to mention that using the birth control pill lowers risk of breast cancer?
Thanks Dr. Grossman, but no thanks. Besides, I didn't have my daughter until I was 28 and fell short of the one year mark on breast feeding. Hmm...wonder if Dr. Grossman is on the front lines to protect women's right to pump at work AND provide us with clean & private lactation rooms?

Go ahead and have kids when you're 25, but don't do it just because you think you're going to save yourself from breast cancer. The 70-year-old with breast cancer today? I bet she had kids young because that's what happened 50 years ago. Take care of yourself and talk to a trusted health professional about what *you* can do to prevent breast cancer.

BTW, I know a fabulous woman who did have kids young and want back for that Ph.D. It's not a matter of choosing between, but choosing when.

technorati tags: breast cancer, prevention, Planned Parenthood, Gloria Feldt, breast feeding

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Kline can't quit

He's at it again. A friend sent me the story that "Johnson County (Kansas) District Attorney Phill Kline charged the clinic with 23 felony counts and 84 misdemeanor counts, according to court records." When he was Attorney General (he lost his election) he obtained records of patients for review and filed charges very similar to these "new" ones.
As for allegations that Planned Parenthood performed illegal late-term abortions, [Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missour] said its clinic doesn't perform any past the 22nd week of pregnancy.

Attorney General Paul Morrison previously reviewed all of the allegations upon which Kline's criminal charges are based and found no wrongdoing, Morrison spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said.

"The attorney general did a thorough review of Planned Parenthood and found no wrongdoing," Anstaett said. "We are skeptical that these charges have any merit, and we continue to wonder how much politics influenced Mr. Kline's decision to file these charges."

Kline's charges came less than four months after Morrison closed his investigation and told Planned Parenthood's attorneys that he found no wrongdoing by the clinic or its personnel.

Not only do I think his motivation is purely political and not about patient safety, but he's also trying to use tax-payer money to do it. Even if the charges are bogus, Planned Parenthood will still have to go to court, use up valuable resources, and that's what is really sad about the story. How many more women could we service?

Our opposition likes to question the 3% statistic. Overall, 3% of Planned Parenthood's services are abortions. As you can see from our stats page, even if you added pregnancy testing to the mix, we wouldn't be much higher than 5% - far from what the opposition believes or says. A whopping 37% of services go towards contraceptives or in other words, preventing unplanned pregnancies.

Attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics in Kansas concern us in Illinois. Why? Because what happens there happens to us. Our nifty slogan rolls both ways folks. :)

technorati tags: kline, Planned Parenthood, Kansas, abortion

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Does Your State Make the Grade?

Guest Post by Julia Kaye, Health and Reproductive Rights Program Assistant
National Women's Law Center

Suddenly the 2010 Winter Olympics I’ve been eagerly anticipating since ’06 can’t take long enough to get here. Yesterday’s release of Making the Grade on Women’s Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card made it clear that there is serious work to be done in women’s health before our nation and its states achieve the benchmarks set by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 initiative. If we’re still going to achieve these goals within the Healthy People’s timeline, then 2010 better come “later,” rather than sooner.

The fourth of a series of health report cards released by the National Women’s Law Center, the 2007 edition of Making the Grade makes it particularly clear that interventions in women’s health and health care policy are needed on both the federal and state levels. The 27 status indicators assessed by the Report Card show that U.S. women are nowhere near as healthy as they should be, the reasons for which quickly become apparent when you look at the Report Card’s 63 policy indicators. These indicators reveal which states have chosen to implement policies that positively impact women’s health — and which states have not.

The nation received an overall grade of “unsatisfactory,” and only received “satisfactory” grades in three of the 27 status benchmarks assessed by the Report Card, one additional benchmark since the Report Card was last published in 2004. These three goals are: the percentage of women age 40 and older across the country getting mammograms regularly, the number of women age 50 and older who receive screenings for colorectal cancer, and the number of annual dental visits. (Check out the New York Times’ October 11th article, Boom Times for Dentists,but Not for Teeth, and you might just start to wonder if the nation will be able to maintain high scores in even these three categories in time for the next Report Card!). Though three “satisfactory” grades this year are certainly better than two last year, the nation now fails to meet 12 of the 27 status benchmarks, an increase of three failing grades since 2004. Most troubling are the rapidly increasing rates of obesity and diabetes in our country. Rates of obesity increased in every one of the 51 states (including D.C.) during the past three years, and the number of women diagnosed with diabetes increased in 43 states. Take your time, 2010, take your time.

Things aren’t looking much brighter on a state-by-state basis, either. The pack is led, yet again, by Vermont, Minnesota and Massachusetts (who said a hearty breakfast of pancakes and syrup doesn’t do a body right?), with Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi maintaining position
at the tail end. All of the states missed ten benchmarks (with many missing far more!), including access to health insurance; and twelve states received overall failing grades, five more than in 2004. When the categories are broken down by race and ethnicity, the data is even more alarming — especially when it comes to disparities in access to care. There is much work to be done, indeed.

The policy indicators reveal that states have made more progress in adopting policies to advance women's health, but still have a long way to go. Twenty states have improved their provision of Medicaid coverage for smoking cessation treatment (good news!), but 12 states increased co-payments to their prescription drug coverage under Medicaid (bad news). Nineteen states have improved their minimum wage (good news!) but four states no longer allow women to receive an abortion without a mandatory waiting period (bad news). The best policy news is that all 51 states now offer Medicaid coverage for breast and cervical cancer, and all states now participate in the Food Stamp Nutrition and Education Program (FSNEP).

A special note to those states at the bottom of the list (you know who you are): If you don’t require private insurers to cover Chlamydia screenings (and only two, count ‘em, two states do), your rates of Chlamydia are probably a bit higher than most college kids in your state would like. If something like 10% of your population has diabetes, how about requiring private insurance plans to include diabetes supplies and education as part of general coverage? And when 18% of women in this country are without insurance, it might be time for certain, powerful people to take their heads out of the sand and start doing something about it.

Check out the Report Card, so you can brag to your friends about how your state is ranked second when it comes to women eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (uhem, D.C.);
question why you chose to go to university in Wisconsin, which is ranked 51st for binge drinking (or why, oh why, did you possibly go elsewhere…?); or — and we strongly suggest this last one — write a letter to your representatives demanding that they implement policies that promote women’s health. After all, it’s your health that hangs in the balance.

Cross-posted at Womenstake.

technorati tags: womenstake, NWLC, women's health, healthcare

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Pro-life or Pro-Fetus?

The SCHIP veto override has failed.

I got a ton of emails over it, asking me to call my representative to urge her to vote to override. Considering that my rep is Jan Schakowsky, I could save my phone call as I knew she'd vote the way I wanted. We all know the real targets were Republicans as all but two Democrats voted for SCHIP. Many of those emails were from organizations that lobby for women's rights, health care, children's rights, on and on. Ann at Feministing points out that not one email would be coming from pro-life organizations. Even AFTER the wording was changed so that SCHIP covered the fetus and NOT the woman carrying the fetus, the pro-life forces wouldn't support the bill. Because we all know that women don't need health care while pregnant. 10 anti-abortion Democrats even sent a letter asking them to support SCHIP.

In the NYTimes, Senator Harry Reid mentioned compromises that had already taken place to get Republicans to vote for SCHIP. One of those compromises was on abstinence-only education. Amanda Robb reports that:
To entice Republicans to support the bill, the House of Representatives agreed to increase money for abstinence-only sex education by $28 million, to a total of about $200 million a year. Abstinence-only courses, the only form of federally financed sex ed, teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to cause psychological and physical harm.
They compromised on sex ed? Even after studies have come out that show it is a waste of money? It looks like the Democrats will try again and again, playing this out for all the political capital. But I have to wonder, if they are willing to compromise on sex ed, what else will they compromise on in the next version?

This leads me to believe that yes, our opposition only cares about the fetus. Not women or else we would be covered while pregnant. Not the child because once you're out, baby, you're on your own.

BTW - Here is a link to the final roll call.

technorati tags: pro-life, SCHIP, healthcare, roll call, Congress, veto

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Report Card Day!

The National Women's Law Center has released a state-by-state report card on women's health. Illinois, I think you're grounded!

Overall we get a U or unsatisfacotry. Not as bad as a F, but hey, if my late-mom wouldn't buy that excuse, neither should we. Out of 50 states, we rank 33rd. Bottom half.

Our highest grades (S) are for mammograms (that should go up next year with the Guv's new plan) and annual dentist visits.

Our lowest grades are in the area of women without health insurance, prevention, causes of death and some chronic diseases. We also fail life expectancy! We also scored Fs in the wage gap and, linked?

Read the report card yourself and consider, do we really need low-cost health clinics?

technorati tags: health care, women's health, Illinois, report card

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Urgent! Anti-birth control radical put in charge of our birth control

In case you're not in the action network:

What's wrong with this statement:

Late yesterday, the Bush administration announced the appointment of a staunchly anti-birth control extremist to a leadership role in the Office of Population Affairs.

You read that correctly — we simply couldn't make up something this outrageous. Please, take a moment right now to oppose the appointment of Susan Orr as the acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs.

Orr's anti-reproductive health stance is clear. She applauded President Bush's reinstatement of the global gag rule and urged him to revoke approval for mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486) — both while working for the notoriously anti-choice, anti-birth control, anti-sex education organization, the Family Research Council.

It is hard to imagine a more mismatched role for Orr than one in the Office of Population Affairs, the department that advises the secretary of health on policies concerning reproductive health. And Orr's new role? Why, it's to run the family planning program, of course.

The family planning program that Orr will run plays a critical role in ensuring that low-income families have access to contraceptive services.

In other words, a virulently anti-family planning radical is in charge of family planning. Appointments don't get more egregious than this — please, take action now.

If this situation sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before. Less than a year ago, the Bush administration also tried to put Eric Keroack, whose anti-birth control stance rivals that of Susan Orr, in charge of family planning. After an outpouring of opposition, he stepped down from office – but the Bush administration is continuing its efforts to put ideology over science. Susan Orr’s appointment and an emerging crisis in the federal government’s birth control program make that clear (we'll be letting you know how you can help on this issue, as well).

Thank you for standing up for women who need reproductive health services by taking action today.


Cecile Richards
President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

P.S. Susan Orr's appointment is yet another obstacle to women seeking reproductive and other health services at Planned Parenthood health centers and elsewhere. See what else we're up against here.

technorati tags: birth control, Planned Parenthood Aurora, Orr, anti-choice

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Many of you have asked what you can do for the clinic. The doors are open, we're seeing patients, and we're loving all the supportive notes. One thing you can do is join us for a presentation of Emma!

The TRAP DOOR THEATRE is graciously donating 100% of tickets proceeds on Friday, October 26, 8pm to PP/CA's effort to keep our Aurora Health Center open! Seats to this special event are limited and tickets are $30.

When: Friday, October 26 at 8pm

Where: Trap Door Theatre- 1655 West Cortland Ave. Chicago, IL 60622

For Information/Reservations: 773.384.044. To purchase tickets online visit:


Written by: Howard Zinn

Directed by: Kate Hendrickson

Howard Zinn (The Playwright): Historian, author, and a pivotal figure in the American Left, Howard Zinn has written over a dozen books. Among them are his now classic "A People’s History of the United States". He is professor emeritus at Boston University. Zinn has received the Lannan Foundation Literary Award for Non Fiction and the Eugene V Debbs award for writing and political activism. His plays Emma and Marx in Soho have been performed internationally.

Zinn's drama "Emma" is based on the life of American Anarchist Emma Goldman. Passionate, audacious, an notorious Emma was also a popularizer of the arts, a defender of civil liberties and a proponent of birth control and a free love advocate. Emma explores not only her political life but also the friendships and tumultuous love affairs that sustained and inspired her. "Emma" has been performed in New York, Boston, London and Tokyo. This is its Chicago premier.

Please join us for a fabulous night of local theater!

technorati tags: Emma, Planned Parenthood, Aurora, feminist, theater, Chicago, Howard Zinn

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Marcie at A Child Chosen has tagged me and linked here (thanks!). I'll answer her tag (7 things) over at my personal site. Come on by!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The power of blogging

Newsweek covers feminist blogging. Who would have thunk it? They point to the huge success of the 2004 March for Women's Lives that brought out more than one million people. In the three years since the march, this is the ONLY citation I can find on their website about it. I guess late is better than never, eh? Criticism aside, it does mention THIS BLOG! I feel a slight brush with fame since I wasn't here at the beginning. Word to Nathan, Carrie & the crew!

"Older feminists worry that ERA-era feminism's declaration that "the personal is political" has been lost on the latest generation, who don't realize that their personal struggles should be addressed collectively." Despite what some GenX/Millennial feminist bloggers may think, I think that what happened right here in Aurora, Illinois, blue-state that it is labeled, shows that the personal is STILL the political. What can be more personal than control over our reproduction? And clearly, what happens in our wombs is still hotly political. That's coming from a GenX feminist mom who has reproduced and pumped her way through the March. Seriously!

The piece ends with this:
The space for that conversation may be the Internet, on sites like Feministing, Feministe, Pandagon and Echidne of the Snakes. Valenti of says feminist blogs drove the million-plus turnout at the 2004 March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C., and helped secure the opening earlier this month of a controversial Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora, Ill. But even if blogging can translate into real-world activism, will it be enough to hold a movement together? That's a question this generation of feminists will have to answer themselves.

I posed that question to PPCA CEO & President Steve Trombley. Did he feel that the feminist blogosphere was critical to the opening of the clinic?

I think that blogging can “hold the movement together” and that it definitely translates into “real-world activism” We wouldn’t have won the fight to open the Aurora clinic without the hundreds of local activists and thousands of national activists who showed up at rallies and contacted local officials in Aurora. While they may have heard about the fight from the media or from our action alerts — it was the blog that kept them involved in the fight. I heard this over and over from our supports both nationally and locally. As someone who started his career as an organizer I know that there is nothing more important than making sure that your activist are feeling “in the fight” and the blogging is a great way to give everyone a sense of being on the inside, of being involved and also ready to take action.

Thank you to everyone who visits and especially to those of you who take the time to comment. Thanks to everyone who reads and passes along information. Planned Parenthood serves the community and that is the mission for this blog. To serve you with information as long as it is needed and wanted. Now let's get out there and continue to make this world a better place.

technorati tags: Newsweek, feminist, feminist blogging, Planned Parenthood, Aurora, March for Women's Lives

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Religion & Abortion

Our opposition usually states that they aren't harassing women, but merely praying outside the clinics. They use pulpits to spread word that a clinic is opening up and protests will occur. They use the Bible as their justification for opposing not just abortion but birth control. But are they right?

Garry Wills asks this question in his book, Head and Heart: American Christianities. In Martin Marty's discussion of the book he states that:
Wills contends, "It is not demonstrable that killing fetuses is killing persons. Not even the Evangelicals act as if it were. In that case, the woman seeking the abortion…is killing her own child." If the fetus is regarded as a person, why would the murderous mother be exempt from the death penalty, in which most Evangelicals believe? And many Evangelicals allow abortion in the case of rape or incest. That won't work: "We do not kill people because they had a criminal parent." Some allow for abortion to save a life. Wills asks, "Why should the mother be preferred over the 'child' if both are, equally, persons?" Why opt for the "certitude" of murder over only the "danger of death?"
This question of 'punishment' is at the center of the movement to criminalize women's health care. If you haven't seen it, there is an excellent video made in Libertyville, Illinois asking anti-choice protesters what the sentence would be for illegal abortions. Most have no idea, many have never thought about the sentence for illegal abortions. As much as the opposition would like to think that women are forced or talked into abortions, we aren't. We are agents in our lives.

In September, Feministing reported that one anti-choicer DID come up with a sentence - 15 years to life. Of course, he does recognize that women are making this choice themselves. I guess that's a bit of progress.

technorati tages: religion, abortion, bible, Martin Marty, University of Chicago, Garry Wills

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Monday, October 15, 2007

When it's an emergency, you just can't wait

In 2005, Illinois Governor Blagojevich stepped into the emergency contraception debate. Around the country and even in blue-state Illinois, women were being denied access to EC and in some cases, they had their prescription slips taken away. Gov. Blagojevich took women's side and said that prescriptions for contraceptives must be filled without delay. Anti-choice pharmacists took issue and said that the rule made them violate their beliefs and filed suit.

On October 11th, a "compromise" was settled on:
Illinois pharmacies must fill prescriptions for Plan B and other emergency contraceptive pills "without delay," as Gov. Rod Blagojevich decreed in 2005. But individual pharmacists who believe dispensing the pills would violate their religious beliefs don't have to get involved. Instead, the customer can receive the medication from the pharmacy owner or another employee after an off-site pharmacist approves the prescription by phone or fax.

Womenstake points out that this compromise is exactly what the rule was before hand. There is a difference between a pharmacy and a pharmacist. It's just too bad that we didn't have a ruling akin to the recent victory in Connecticut.

One thing is certain: Planned Parenthood will always be a place where you can access birth control and especially emergency contraception without delay. For people over 18, you should be able to access EC over the counter at your local pharmacy. Those under 18 still need a prescription.

While this ruling sounds like it only affects emergency contraception, we know that there are times when women get the run around when filling every day birth control. In either situation, if you are in a situation where you can't get your prescription filled, please, please, please report it. Just call 800-280-4149. You can see what your rights are on the State of Illinois Dept of Financial & Professional Regulations site. NOTE: that link is to a PDF document.

I think the NOW campaign logo says it all.

technorati tags: Planned Parenthood Aurora, EC, birth control, Morning After Pill, Illinois, Emergency Contraception, Walgreens

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Thank you Dr. Berman!

In today's Chicago Sun-Times, sex & relationship columnist, Dr. Laura Berman (this Dr. Laura I can trust!) sends a big thank you towards the clinic:

I want to commend the employees of this new clinic in Aurora for standing up in the face of adversity and breaking through protest lines to care for the women of our community.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Planned Parenthood!

And I want to say, thanks for the warm welcome and add in a big thank you for a wonderful response to all those who say Aurora doesn't need a Planned Parenthood clinic.

In our current environment of rising health-care costs and astronomical prescription prices, clinics such as Planned Parenthood are providing the basic health-care services that so many uninsured Americans desperately need yet cannot afford.

Right now approximately 30 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 are uninsured. This means that thousands of young women do not have affordable access to cervical exams, breast health exams and STD testing -- all of which can mean the difference between early detection and the tragic alternative. Planned Parenthood provides these services to women at an affordable cost, something that most hospitals across the nation are unable to do.

Go the rest.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meet Emily X

Our opposition is in the middle of 40 days of protests at Planned Parenthood clinics around the country. In response, Planned Parenthood has begun another blog by a clinic worker, Emily X. In this blog, Emily X will document what she sees during the 40 days outside her clinic.

One post that seemed to hit home is "Protesters are my family" where she talks about her mother-in-law called to tell her she was joining the protesters. Of course, her MIL doesn't know she's a doctor at the clinic. I think many of us take time to come out to our family & friends about our work with Planned Parenthood or any reproductive justice organization. It's all our choice on who to tell and when. Perhaps we grow up in a very conservative family and just don't want to cause 'trouble' at holiday dinners. Perhaps we just don't want our parents to worry that we're working in a field where people have died greeting patients.

No one should have to run a gauntlet to obtain health care and neither should we have to in order to get to work.

To support Emily X and other clinic workers around the country why don't you sponsor a protester? What you say? Yes. Sponsor a protester. Say you pledge $1 for every one that shows up during the 40 days and 5 come out every day. That's $200 going to Planned Parenthood. If they double the number of people harassing women, your donation would double! You can also pledge 5 cents for every protester as well. YOU pick the level you can manage. Just go to Emily X's sidebar to pledge.

A similar pledge drive in Ohio recently raised $28,000 for Equality Ohio!

And remember, you can also leave thank you notes in our comments for Planned Parenthood in general or just Chicago Area workers. Emily X also has a link so you can send thanks.

technorati tags: Planned Parenthood Aurora, abortion, protests

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Are you the next Sofia Coppola or Penny Marshall?

Sponsored by RHReality Check and others, Fresh Focus is a sex-ed digital video contest.

Using digital video technology, tell us what your sex ed experience was like OR tell us how you would redesign sex ed for the future!

Was sex ed at your school a total drag or did you love it? If you had your choice, would you want a personal robot tutor or an online game you could play with other teens to learn about sex and its consequences?

RH Reality Check, in partnership with a dynamic group of progressive organizations, is hosting a digital video contest with two themes to choose from:

Theme 1. Share your sex ed experience so far. Show us how and why it sucked or rocked.

Theme 2. Redesign how sex ed could be delivered. Imagine that anything is possible.

First place wins a $3500 scholarship to the educational institution of your choice (or cash equivalent); second place wins $1000 cash; and third prize is your choice of a Nikon P5000, a Nintendo Wii or an iPhone!

Content and creative vision will be weighed more heavily than production quality. See the official rules for more details.

Contest Guidelines

  1. Contest deadline is December 31, 2007.

  2. Entrants/Filmmakers must be between the ages of 15-30.
  3. Read the Official Rules (PDF).

  4. Create a video up to 3 minutes long that provides an entertaining, thought-provoking or otherwise interesting look at sex education today or what you'd like to see in the future.

  5. Upload your video and fill out and submit one official entry form per video to our contest page on DoGooderTV.

Entries can feature humor, satire, music, discussion, dramatic portrayals, documentary style interviews, animation, information, lecture or other means of conveying the themes of the contest!

Video finalists will be featured at the Sex::Tech Conference: Focus on Youth, an inaugural STD/HIV Prevention Conference about youth and technology, January 22 - 23, 2008 in San Francisco, CA at SFSU's Institute for Next Generation Internet.

For more information, please contact amie AT rhrealitycheck DOT org.

So if you're in that age range and you have anything to say about your experiences with sex ed, grab a camera and get rolling!

Technorati tags: Planned Parenthood Aurora, movies, sex ed, sex education

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Friday, October 12, 2007

From a doctor's perspective

HT to OBOB for pointing me in the direction of "over my med body!" a blog by Graham Walker, a 5th year med student. He blogged about his rotation at a Planned Parenthood clinic:

The patients I’ve seen have been, in general, young, healthy women, ages 12 to 26. They come in primarily for three things:

  1. annual exams (pap smears, breast exams, etc.),
  2. sexually-transmitted infection (STIs) diagnosis and treatment,
  3. and birth control.

I see patients of all socio-economic statuses, but most are immigrants or lower-middle class women. Their health knowledge runs the gamut, from the highly educated 12 year-old I saw today, who curiously asked “how exactly do the birth control pills work?” to the 23 year-old who shrugs and answers questions with a dull, empty look on her face. Almost every single one uses some form of birth control.

Yes, Graham is a man. I fully admit to wanting and seeing only women doctors - if I can help it. When you're in the hospital the only doctor doing rounds is a guy, you take the guy. I'm just more comfortable having by girly parts looked at my a girl. Well Graham blogs about this too:

I realize the exam puts a person in an incredibly vulnerable situation, and it probably doesn’t help that I’m a young man and that many of my patients are my age or younger. I also realize this may be the first time a male physician has seen their genitalia since before puberty (or any male unless they’ve been in a relationship with one), but I feel like the look still exists in many of my older patients as well.

I realize all of this, but still. It’s discouraging and frustrating. I’m not present to make my patients feel uncomfortable. If I could somehow learn everything I need to learn without making anyone uneasy I would, but I can’t.

It really makes me think. If we really want to have awesome feminist (an assumption on my part) men in the movement with us, why are we unwilling to have them treat us too? I dunno. All I do know is that I've added his blog to my RSS reader.

Technorati tags: Planned Parenthood Aurora, Planned Parenthood, women's health

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More on the WHO/Guttmacher Report

The Chicago Tribune headline says it all:

Abortion rate same, legal or not

Having attended many a rally, meeting, workshop, and symposium on abortion and reproductive justice, I have heard many women and men repeat the line that women have been having abortions since women could get pregnant. I have been at events where women talk about having pre-Roe abortions, the fear of not knowing where they were going, where their best friend was going, or if their money would make it to Mexico.

The WHO/Guttmacher report firmly shows that no matter what, if a woman does not want to be pregnant, she will try anything to not be pregnant. Some will succeed, some will fail, and some will die trying.

The report shows that women living in countries where abortion is illegal STILL have them. The difference? Many of those abortions are in unsafe conditions. To think that only single, childless woman have abortions is to be ignorant of the situation. Women with children have abortions. They realize that they cannot feed one more mouth, that they are not healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term, or that their lives are too dangerous to have a baby. When women die, families suffer. Not just the woman, the children she left behind, the elders she cares for, and perhaps the entire community if she plays a vital role.

So if we're going to have them, shouldn't they be safe?

Technorati tags: abortion, Planned Parenthood, international, women's health

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Abortion rates decline around the world

And what's the secret?


According to a new report out this week, "the number of induced abortions worldwide declined from nearly 46 million to under 42 million between 1995 and 2003." The Guttmacher Institute and World Health Organization report reveals:

For every 1,000 women of childbearing age (15–44) worldwide, 29 were estimated to have had an induced abortion in 2003, compared with 35 in 1995. The decline was most substantial in Europe, where the rate fell from 48 to 28 abortions per 1,000 women, largely because of dramatic declines in Eastern Europe. On the whole, the abortion rate decreased more in developed countries, where abortion is generally safe and legal on broad grounds (from 39 to 26), than in developing countries, where the procedure is largely illegal and unsafe (from 34 to 29). Significantly, the abortion rate for 2003 was roughly equal in developed and developing regions—26 and 29, respectively—despite abortion being largely illegal in developing regions. Health consequences, however, vary greatly between the two regions, since abortion is generally safe where it is broadly legal and mostly unsafe where restricted. (emphasis mine)

The bad news is that unsafe abortions are still happening around the world and in countries where abortion is illegal at a rate that is astronomically higher than where abortion is legal:

The study also found that an estimated 20 million unsafe abortions occurred in 2003, 97% of these in developing regions. The prevalence of unsafe abortion remains high, with up to 39 unsafe abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in Eastern Africa and 33 per 1,000 in South America. By contrast, developed regions, where almost all countries allow abortions with few restrictions, had an average unsafe abortion rate of two per 1,000. (emphasis mine)

Many progressives don't like the phrase "safe, legal, and rare" but this report seems to show that increasing access to birth control does make abortion rarer and by making abortion legal makes it safer. If that's what that phrase means, then I'm all for it.

Technorati tags: abortion, Planned Parenthood, international, women's health, , birth control

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Love Your Breasts!

If you don't know it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'll assume you haven't been to the store lately. I've seen laundry detergent, hair brushes, and even curling irons all out to find a cure for breast cancer. We also still have our old favorites of yogurt, test driving cars, and donating at the check-out lane.

Have you gone more than a year since your last annual exam? If so, then you're more than a year from a medical professional performing a breast exam. Yes, you should be examining your breasts each month (note to self), but you should also have it done once a year at your annual exam. And what do you know, Planned Parenthood does include breast exams in our comprehensive annual exams! Early detection is one way to battle breast cancer.

As you just read in the last post, our new clinic is beautiful! If you want more then a beautiful setting in your annual exam, how does $5 off sound? Yup, just download this coupon and you get $5 off your first visit.

Y-Me points us to the American Cancer Society for some basic facts about breast cancer. It's not just a worry for women who have a family history!

* Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
* One out of eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer if they live past the age of 85, a risk that in 1960 was one out of 14.
* There are 2.3 million women living in the U.S. who have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.
* Every woman is at risk for breast cancer, and that risk increases with age. About 77 percent of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women age 50 and older.
* Seventy percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history.
* More than 80 percent of breast lumps are benign (not cancerous).
* Women who begin menstruating before age 12 are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. The more menstrual cycles a woman has over her lifetime, the more likely she is to get the disease.
If you still need assistance in obtaining breast exams and pap smears (cervical cancer detection), Illinois now has a program that allows uninsured women access to these vital tests and treatment.

The Take Charge, Get Screened campaign calls on every woman to get screened, noting early detection could save a life...Effective October 1, Gov. Blagojevich made sure all women who need access to potentially life-saving cancer screenings and treatment could get it by expanding the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) to all uninsured women in Illinois. This expansion makes it possible for more than 260,000 women in Illinois to qualify for free cancer screenings and treatment when they need them, regardless of income.
Let's take care of ourselves, ok?

Technorati tags: breast cancer awareness, breast cancer, Planned Parenthood, pink

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Ribbon cutting at Aurora center

Today, nearly 200 of our favorite donors, local volunteers and clinic staff met at our Aurora center to cut the proverbial ribbon (actually there was a real ribbon and a really big pair of scissors) and to congratulate each other on a job well done. Planned Parenthood Federation of America President, Cecile Richards (pictured at left), joined us to celebrate.

In her remarks, Cecile spoke of the founding of Planned Parenthood over 90 years ago -

When Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in New York, she and her sister, along with one volunteer, served 464 women with birth control before the police busted them, took them to jail and shut them down. That was the start of a movement that changed women's lives forever.

Ninety-one years later donors and volunteers were given tours of Planned Parenthood's newest and biggest facility - pointing to how far we truly have come in that time. As donors toured the health center, many were awed by the attention to detail evidenced in the design and by the fact that design and construction decisions were firmly rooted in how the patient would experience the center.

While most of us don't look forward to our next Pap smear, more than a few were heard to say they'd love to come to the center for their next annual exam.

Steve Trombley, our President and CEO, thanked donors and staff for everything they have put into the center. Steve reserved a special thank you for Aurora residents who fought to get this center open. "This is your center as much as it is ours," Steve pointed out.

A great way to celebrate the opening of our Aurora health center is to give a donation. Just click here to give a donation online.

Stay tuned for video of Cecile's remarks...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Report back from Southern Illinois

Now here's some good, pretty balanced media reports...coming from SIU's Daily Egyptian regarding Sunday's rally in support of reproductive justice and Aurora clinic:

The rally was a collaboration of many local groups who joined together to help raise awareness, said Melissa Obermiller, the president of the Southern Illinois chapter of the National Organization of Women.

"We believe that women should have the right to choose what's best for their body. Especially in the area of reproductive freedom," Obermiller said.

There is also a video of the event on the site. Amazing, amazing photos. Great job, Southern Illinois!

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Faux News

This is a screen shot from a piece FOX News did on the clinic at least a week ago. I just found it on YouTube and couldn't even finish watching it. It wasn't that I was disgusted with the not-even-close attempt to be unbiased, but I was laughing too hard at this the "evil-wash" that FOX did of CEO and President Steve Trombley.

I didn't even know Photoshop had an evil setting!

The day after the clinic opened I saw 5-6 different news outlets with headlines that used the word "allowed" in it. "Clinic allowed to open." NOTE: The Chicago Tribune changed the headline, but do a news search and you'll see it. That's not even counting the many many headlines that said "abortion clinic" instead of referring to the clinic as a women's health clinic.

I'm happier to report that during our press conference a week ago most of the local reporters asked questions that were clearly unbiased. The terminology used, the angles they went for, showed that they understand the issues at hand and wanted to report the facts.

Not only am I a reproductive justice activist, but I also keep an eye on media reform issues.

The reporting on the opening of the clinic is a prime example of how unbalanced media has become. Yes, we will do abortions at this clinic, but 90% of the services done will be STI/STD testing/treatment, birth control education/dispensing, and overall well-woman care (annual pap smears, breast exams, etc.).

For many women who use Planned Parenthood clinics, the doctor/nurse/nurse practitioner/midwife may be the ONLY medical professional they see over a course of years.

When the Wal-Mart opened in Chicago after a much longer political fight, the headlines did not say "Wal-Mart Allowed to Open" rather headlines pointed out the long lines for jobs and inexpensive items people wanted. Where is the headline "Hundreds flood clinic lines"? Because that is what happened. Our phone lines have been off the hook. But you'd never know that if you read the mainstream media.

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Monday, October 8, 2007

Extra Credit

Perhaps the biggest winners of the opening of our clinic are Catholic school kids. Why? Because Catholic schools award extra credit for school kids to come on out and rally against choice. A friend of the clinic sent us this email:

I understand why Catholic high school students protest abortion clinics, I did it too when I was 16. I screamed to stop abortion and I waved my fetus sign at passing cars...because I got extra credit.

At my Catholic high school in Illinois, students are awarded academic extra credit for participating in anti-abortion events. I stood on the street corner on Saturday morning, not because I was against abortion, not because I thought birth control was wrong- I was a passionate protester because I was awarded 10 extra points to my lowest test score.

My presence was not due to a religious fervor, or even a testament to my support - it was so I could get a higher GPA.

I grin when I see the kids at the center, because I was in their place only a few years ago - and I know what really brought them out to protest on a Saturday morning.

Yesterday our opposition held one of their so-called life chains outside the clinic. Their freedom of expression is honored. It is legal for them to stand on the sidewalk and oppose what the clinic does. Just as legal as all the activities in the clinic.

The funny thing is that in a few years or even days, clinic staff may see the same young women inside seeking birth control information. Why? Because Catholics have an abortion rate 1% higher than the national average. Far lower then those not practicing any religion, but still higher than church leaders would like to think. A friend who has escorted at Dr. Tiller's clinic (more on him in a future post) has said that it never fails. Once a year, she will hold the hand of a woman during an abortion procedure who was JUST protesting the day before. "But I'm not like those other women!" she will profess. And like clock work, my friend will see that woman on the protest line in a few days. It's good enough for her, but not for you.

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My favorite photo

I love that got this shot. Right here is when CEO and President Steve Trombley said:

"But we know that the services we provide at this center will do more in one day to prevent abortions than our opponents will do in a lifetime of protesting."

That is the gosh darn truth.

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

A big thank you to the Aurora Police Dept

With the opening of the clinic and the arrival of anti-choice folks with telephoto lenses, questions have been asked online and off about the Aurora police. "What are the doing?"

They are doing their jobs. Plain and simple.

They have been a joy to work with and are responding without fault.

There are laws that protect the clinic (FACE is just one), but there are laws that protect the anti's. We may not like it, but the laws protect us all.

So to the Aurora Police Department, thank you.

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