Tagged: birth control

Republicans continue to trip over the Gender Gap — and more

GOP women

When it comes to the Republican Party’s path to a Senate majority, so much of the focus has been on the red states. But the difference between the GOP pursuing a lasting majority and one that is temporary — or even elusive — is how it performs in purple and blue states like Colorado and Michigan. And our brand-new NBC/Marist polls of Colorado and Michigan show Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) leading Cory Gardner (R) by seven points among registered voters…in Colorado’s key Senate race. They find Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) ahead of GOP challenger Bob Beauprez by six points… They have Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) up over Republican Terri Lynn Land by six…in Michigan’s Senate contest. And they show Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading Democratic challenger Mark Schauer by two points… So why are Udall, Peters, and Snyder all ahead in their contests?

Here’s an explanation: mind the gaps — the gender gap, the Latino gap, and the independent gap. In Colorado, Udall is up by 12 points among female voters…as Democratic groups like Senate Majority PAC are up with TV ads…on abortion and contraception. Indeed, 70% of Colorado voters in the NBC/Marist poll said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who supports restrictions on the use of contraception. And in Michigan, Peters is ahead by 13 points with women…

But the gender gap isn’t the only notable gap in our new polls — also look at the Latino gap. Our NBC/Marist poll shows that Latinos make up 16% of registered voters in Colorado, and Udall is winning them by 31 points…

And then there’s the independent gap. In Colorado, both Udall (by 50%-34%) and Hickenlooper (by 52%-35%) have the advantage with independent voters. By contrast, in Michigan, Gov. Snyder holds a 14-point edge among independents — which explains his narrow lead in this Democratic-leaning state. Remember: It’s often easier to win independent voters as a Republican governor or gubernatorial candidate in a blue state, rather than as a GOP Senate candidate…And Snyder won his 2010 GOP primary and then general election due to independent voters…

Kind of a catch-all article. Hardly any poll analysis is as tidy as Pew or fivethirtyeight.com. Still, the groupings examined in this portion of the NBC/Marist poll would have it appear that under-represented portions of the American population are pissed-off enough to vote in their own interest.

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Subsidized birth control = 40% decrease in Colorado teen pregnancy

A Colorado programme that offers free birth control to teenagers has dramatically reduced the rate of teenage pregnancy. But the nature of the scheme’s funding – a large anonymous donation – leaves it unclear whether it could work on a broader scale…

That opening paragraph is a non sequitur. The source of funding isn’t relevant at all. What was done with the contribution is about a qualitative effect on the lives of young women.

In 2008, an anonymous donor made a $23 million five-year commitment to provide long-term contraception such as intrauterine devices or implants for teenagers who needed them, for free or at very low cost.

The state’s health department rolled out the programme, called the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, through clinics that were already offering family planning services…

When Greta Klinger, the director of the programme, got the first results back about how the initiative was working, she and others were stunned.

“The demographer whom I worked with on the analysis of the data kept coming into my office and saying, ‘Look at this, I’ve never seen this before.'” Klingler says…”It’s really incredible. From the public health perspective, it’s pretty rare to have a programme that produces such dramatic results.”

The US birth rate for teenagers is decreasing across the country, but Colorado has seen a quicker drop – between 2008-12, it jumped from 29th-lowest teen birth rate in the nation to the 19th lowest.

Not everyone is happy. There is fierce opposition to the idea of offering birth control to teenagers from groups like Colorado Right to Life…

I’ll not waste space in this post on spooky arguments leftover from centuries of ignorance. Suffice it to say the arguments from opponents range from fear and hatred of evolution and science to instructions from an invisible old white guy in the sky.

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43 Republican Senators vote against access to birth control

Welcome to 1965. That was when the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold vs Connecticut legalized the sale and public access to contraceptive devices. The pharmacist at the Orange pharmacy just 5 blocks from my apartment in New Haven was arrested for publicly displaying and selling condoms.

Today’s conservative-dominated Supreme Court probably would have upheld the law and his arrest. Today’s Republicans demonstrate once again their War on Women is more important than separation of Church and State, more important than women having the individual liberty to make choices about reproduction. Welcome to 1865.


Estelle Griswold

Today, Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would have walked back the recent Supreme Court hearing in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and made sure that contraception was treated no differently from other medications in company insurance policies. The bill, promoted by Washington senator Patty Murray and Colorado senator Mark Udall and called the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, would have ensured that for-profit companies that provide health insurance to employees could not deny coverage of specific medications, including birth control. It exempted houses of worship and religiously affiliated nonprofits.

Nonetheless, the bill failed. Only three Republicans crossed party lines to vote for it: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

The bill’s defeat isn’t a surprise, but it is indicative of how extreme positions from the long-standing wars over abortion have crept into territory the American public more or less agrees on. Overwhelming majorities of Americans think birth control is morally acceptable, and two-thirds support mandated contraception coverage in health insurance plans. A majority thinks for-profit companies should have to cover contraception even if the company owners have religious objections.

But a bill solidifying those values while maintaining rights for religious groups was just shot down…

Numerous studies show that affordable, accessible contraception significantly lowers abortion rates. When women around the world are able to plan their families, they live longer, their children are healthier, they have fewer abortions, their families make more money and even their local and national economies improve. And family planning doesn’t just reduce abortion rates — it reduces infant mortality rates too.

So why do Republicans want to make it harder and more expensive to get? Because this isn’t about abortion at all. It’s about female sexuality and a conservative hostility toward it. Contraception doesn’t just have social, medical, and economic benefits; it allows women to have sex for pleasure. There are a lot of folks who find that threatening and unpleasant…

…The point of insurance is to help offset health care costs. If employers didn’t have to cover vaccinations or the setting of broken bones or brain surgery, people would still have the legal ability to get to those things, but many people wouldn’t be able to, because the cost would make them inaccessible. The same is true for birth control.

Americans understand that. It’s too bad conservatives in the Senate don’t.

‘Nuff said. Conservative creeps want to turn this country back into the sort of theocratic, bigoted, old-white-male-dominated nation exemplified by today’s Republican Party.

The War on Women is central to that ideology.

Philippine top court defies Catholic Church – Backs birth control

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.

The Philippines is about 80% Catholic, and with a population approaching 100 million, has one of the highest birth rates in Asia.

The church fought fiercely against the bill, denouncing it as evil and a threat to life. It denounced politicians who supported it, including President Aquino.

While most of the world’s candyass media keeps the focus of their attention on the nice guy with the big ring in Rome – throughout the rest of the world, especially developing nations, the Catholic Church continues with the iron fist in the velvet glove. Fully committed to the suppression of women and reproductive freedom, the church is satisfied with tying society to the ignorance of 14th Century minds.

Threats aside, Catholic Church admits to already paying for contraception coverage for employees

As the nation’s leading Roman Catholic bishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been spearheading the fight against a provision of the new health care law that requires employers, including some that are religiously affiliated, to cover birth control in employee health plans.

But even as Cardinal Dolan insists that requiring some religiously affiliated employers to pay for contraception services would be an unprecedented, and intolerable, government intrusion on religious liberty, the archdiocese he heads has quietly been paying for such coverage, albeit reluctantly and indirectly, for thousands of its unionized employees for over a decade.

The Archdiocese of New York has previously acknowledged that some local Catholic institutions offer health insurance plans that include contraceptive drugs to comply with state law; now, it is also acknowledging that the archdiocese’s own money is used to pay for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion for workers at its affiliated nursing homes and clinics…

The archdiocese agreed to cover its own health workers long before Cardinal Dolan became archbishop of New York, and even today insists that it has no choice. As a result, about 3,000 full-time workers at ArchCare, also known as the Catholic Health Care System, receive coverage for contraception and voluntary pregnancy termination through their membership in 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a powerful health care workers union, according to Dave Bates, a spokesman for the union.

ArchCare, which operates seven nursing homes and a variety of other health facilities, gives its 1199 union employees the same coverage they would get at over 100 other nonprofit hospitals or nursing homes in the New York area, because ArchCare voluntarily belongs to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, a multi-employer organization that negotiates with the union every few years for a joint labor contract.

Bruce McIver, the president of the league since 1991, said…“Eventually, the Catholics just said, you know, we are going to ignore the issue and pay into the fund and people are going to make their own choices about contraception and so forth,” Mr. McIver said.

During union negotiations, “I don’t remember it coming up in the last dozen years or so, ever,” he said. “In a place like New York, their employees, not all of whom are Catholic, would react pretty badly…”

The root of all modern hypocrisy owes so much to the history of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Portrait offers focus on religious foolishness

Eggs Benedict
Click to enlarge

Yup. The “Pope Emeritus” constructed entirely of condoms.

A so-called leader of millions who has no comprehension of the usefulness of birth control, how it frees women and families by offering individual choice. He barely accedes to health protection.

We all owe a vote of thanks to Niki Johnson for her talented and dedicated work. She calls this “Eggs Benedict”.

Boston College threatens students who actually believe their constitutional rights still work on a Catholic campus

003-God-Big-Brother

Boston College officials are threatening to take disciplinary measures against a group of students who are distributing condoms out of their dorm rooms, calling the act a violation of the university’s mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution.

Boston College officials sent a letter to students on March 15 demanding an end to student-run “Safe Sites,” a network of dorm rooms and other locations where free contraceptives and safe sex information are available.

Students living in the “Safe Sites” were told in the letter that the distribution of condoms is in conflict with their “responsibility to protect the values and traditions of Boston College as a Jesuit, Catholic institution.”

The letter, signed by Dean of Students Paul J. Chebator and George Arey, director of residence life, says that “while we understand that you may not be intentionally violating University policy, we do need to advise you that should we receive any reports that you are, in fact, distributing condoms on campus, the matter would be referred to the student conduct office for disciplinary action by the University.”

Safe Sites are sponsored by the Boston College Students for Sexual Health (BCSSH), a group that works to improve sexual health education and resources for students at BC. The group is not recognized by the university.

Lizzie Jekanowski, Chair of BCSSH, said that the Safe Sites program fills a need that the university is not providing to its student body. Students who go to any of the 18 locations — which include one off campus location as well on campus dorms — can pick up free male and female condoms, lubricant, and pamphlets about sexual health…

…Jack Dunn, BC spokesman. wrote in a statement. “We recognize that, as a reflection of society at large, many students do not agree with the Church’s position on these issues. However, we ask those who do not agree to be respectful of our position, and circumspect in their private affairs.”

In other words, we know you have rights as Americans – but, forget about them when you’re on our campus. You know – the one that doesn’t pay any taxes to Boston, Massachusetts or the United States of America.

If our Department of Justice and President Obama maintained a track record of defending constitutional rights and the laws of the nation against religious edict and caprice – confrontations like this wouldn’t be likely. Poisonally, I think our government’s habit of caving in to the demands of churches over freedoms only encourages this kind of crappola.

Hobby Lobby owners want laws governing business to be subordinate to religion

Federal government says Hobby Lobby cannot raise religious objections to insurance requirements.

The federal government is asking a judge to rule against Hobby Lobby, whose owners do not want to provide their employees with insurance coverage for “abortion-causing drugs and devices.”

Founder David Green and other owners of the Oklahoma City-based retail chain…are asking U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton to prevent the government from enforcing new health care rules on their business “and other individuals and organizations that object on religious grounds to providing insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs and devices and related education and counseling…”

In a response this week, government attorneys argued the owners cannot raise religious objections to “the preventive services coverage regulations” because Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular corporation.

“To hold otherwise would permit for-profit, secular corporations and their owners to become laws unto themselves,” the attorneys wrote.

“Because there are an infinite variety of alleged religious beliefs, such companies and their owners could claim countless exemptions from an untold number of general commercial laws designed to protect against unfair discrimination in the workplace and to protect the health and well-being of individual employees and their families…”

The government responded that the Greens want to block regulations intended to give women access at no cost to approved contraceptive methods “that medical experts have deemed necessary for women’s health and well-being.”

“The Greens’ theory boils down to the claim that what’s done to the company (or the group health plans sponsored by the company) is also done to its owners. But, as a legal matter, that is simply not so…”

Separation of church and state must protect freedom from religion.

At the simplest operational level, our government would have to kowtow to every sect and superstition that qualifies as religion.

As a nation that respects the intellectual freedom built into our constitution, that right is deliberately broad. Equally broad, the citizens of this land should only be governed by civil and criminal laws that don’t allow favors for religions, exemptions from civil practices on the basis of one or another religion.

Inventions that changed the world in ways we didn’t expect

Here are powerful technologies developed last century that are still changing the world, even though we didn’t expect them to.

The Haber-Bosch process

Back in the early part of the 20th century, the German chemist Fritz Haber was alarmed by the growing number of mouths to feed — and the inability of farmers to keep up with the demand. Subsequently, Haber became the first person to figure out that ammonia could be created from nitrogen and hydrogen. In turn, this ammonia could be used to produce fertilizer. A lot of fertilizer…

Vaccines

Nationwide, 85,000 cases of vaccine-preventable diseases are reported every year. The recently debunked claim that there is a link between vaccines and autism hasn’t helped. Globally, over 3 million people die each year mostly on account of insufficient access to vaccines. More to the point, though, it’s easy to forget what it is, exactly, that we’re being protected against on account of their profound effectiveness; vaccines stave off such blights as polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, shingles, and many other diseases…

The birth control pill

The development of the pill in 1960 marked a major biological and sociological turning point. For the first time in our species’ history, women were actually able to temporarily turn off their fertility. Moreover, its presence has irrevocably altered the social and economic landscape in those countries where it has become available. Subsequently, its impact cannot be overstated…

Lots more in the whole article. Some, I don’t doubt you’ve reflected upon in your own time. Some might be a surprise – again, until you think about what each has accomplished on their own – and provided as a beginning for much more.

Thanks, SmartAlix

Access to the morning-after pill in high schools makes sense

New York City parents who are raising questions about the city’s plan to expand its pilot program of dispensing contraception, including the morning-after pill, to high school students are doing what parents should do. They’re asking questions.

If they seek information from credible sources, they will learn that when taken within five days of intercourse, the morning-after pill Plan B, which contains one of the hormones found in regular pills, is safe and effective.

They also will learn that other forms of contraception have been available in many New York City public high schools for years. This new plan, open to all, is actually designed for girls who have been hardest to reach.

These young women, from poor and working-poor families, are much more likely than others to get pregnant by accident. Then, one of two things happens: A girl gets an abortion, or she has a baby she cannot support. Neither New York City’s school authorities, nor Mayor Michael Bloomberg, finds those options desirable; both are quite rightly supporting the expansion.

According to Joanna Kuebler of the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, about 40% of school-based health centers in the United States are allowed by their school districts to dispense contraception. Sixty percent of centers are prohibited from doing so. Requirements for parental consent vary. New York’s effort to reduce teen pregnancies appears to be among the largest and most comprehensive.

Obviously, the majority of parents in the United States would rather be part of the problem – rather than part of a solution.

What hangs some people up is the school administration’s decision, during the recent pilot phase of the project, to allow parents to opt their children out of it. Parents received letters in the mail describing the program and telling them that their child would be in the program unless a parent disallowed it in writing. Only 1% to 2% of parents denied permission. It’s a good bet many parents didn’t read the letters, or if they did, thought their daughter wasn’t having sex, or weren’t sure how they felt — so they didn’t do anything.

Again, why accept parental ignorance or indecision as a decision-breaker? And use those options to walk away from offering aid to their children?

We live in one of the richest, most well-educated countries in the world, yet we have the highest teen birth rate of comparable countries. That is simply not right. Yes, parents are children’s first teachers and moral guides, but they need assistance, which is what the New York City system is attempting to provide.

No reliable scientific evidence shows that the availability of birth control encourages young people to start having sex earlier. And there is good evidence that the increased availability of birth control, as well as improved sex education, has lowered the teen pregnancy rate dramatically.

A lower teen pregnancy rate means a lower abortion rate. Among the 7,000 girls ages 15 to17 who got pregnant last year in New York City, nine out of 10 pregnancies were unplanned, and almost two out of three resulted in abortions. For that reason alone, we should embrace New York’s efforts to make all forms of contraception accessible, as well as affordable and safe.

Agreed. Overdue. Life in a nation which can afford the best educational system in the world – with healthcare to match – leads to a great deal of frustration when the ignorant and the corrupt combine to inhibit any progressive change.

I can be a bit understanding – a little bit – of parents who haven’t had the education opportunities their kids now may have. Although, my generation was aided enormously by first-generation American parents who wanted their kids to achieve more than they might have – and accepted knowledge, education as key to that.

The corrupt portion of that equation lies at the feet of churches and politicians who combine opportunism in a last-ditch defense of social and political power that should have vanished with centuries of past greed, self-serving ideology.