Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SB776 Passes the Michigan House Last Night

The first thing I saw this morning when I got online was that last night the house passed SB776, which the anti-choicers who created it call the "Partial Birth Abortion Ban" ... the rest of us, who understand that this type of bill is purely political in nature and that no doctor would use this language to describe the procedure that this bill seeks to redundantly outlaw (the Federal government already banned this procedure), are outraged that not only did this waste-of-time bill get so much play, but that there's no health exception for the pregnant woman!

There are SO MANY wonderful things the legislature could be doing right now. There are so many ways to protect the lives of women and children that the supposed "Right to Life" folks don't ever make a move on that it's utterly frustrating to know that SB776 has been being pushed for months- all that time and money spent on a redundant, insulting bill rather than on really taking care of people and really making life for Michiganders better.

I don't want to be cynical in this important election year, but it's hard not to be when political pandering to bullying special interest groups like "Right to Life" is so prevalent. How out of touch with mainstream Americans are these people if they can't vote for a rape and incest amendment, or a clarification that this ban wouldn't outlaw birth control, or for an addition that would make an exception to this ban in the interest of protecting the pregnant woman's health!?! All of those were proposed last night, and none of them could get enough votes.

It's a shame that legislators worked late into the night yesterday to pass a redundant bill banning abortion procedures that are already banned and don't feel so compelled to work late to keep our drinking water clean, end our foreclosure problem, or work on balancing our budget before the deadline. Using women's health as a political chess game is unacceptable and shameful.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Support and Inspiration Up North

Yesterday, Megan (my fellow organizer) and I drove up to Traverse City to chat with our VOX students at Northwestern Michigan College and with some local feminist activists who wanted to know more about how they can advocate on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Not only was it invigorating to go up to Traverse on a beautiful and sunny late spring day, but hanging out and coming up with ideas with other young women (who are pumped to spend their summer as activists for choice) was so inspiring that Megan and I both found ourselves giddy with excitement! For me, one of the best feelings in the world is when I'm talking to someone who shares my values and we start getting crazy-creative because we're both so inspired to work on the things that matter to us so deeply. It's that exact feeling that makes me love working as an organizer with Planned Parenthood.

I feel so unbelievably lucky that my job requires me to go out and talk to amazing and passionate people who want to make the world more equitable for women, and a better place for everyone!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Get Involved!!

This is a call to action. For all of you who think reproductive justice is important, but never have done anything about it, it is now your time to step up and make a difference. And there are so many ways to do so! For your convenience, I have listed them below:

Join a Planned Parenthood Legislative Action Team. If you live in Muskegon, Northville, West Bloomfield, Commerce Township, or Ann Arbor, contact to receive more information on how to make an impact on public policy.

Become a member of a Teen Advisory Board. If you are a teenager and live in Muskegon, Northville, West Bloomfield, Commerce Township, or Ann Arbor, contact to get involved with a project that will allow you to get your voice heard on important issues that affect you.

Join a Planned Parenthood Young Leaders group. This group is for those who are post-college through pre-retirement and are looking to have a fun time while learning about Planned Parenthood. PPYL groups host social events, such as house parties, happy hours, potlucks, and anything else you can think of! Please email for more information.

Sign up for our One Million Strong Campaign! To learn more, please visit

Join the Planned Parenthood Action Network to receive email updates on legislative issues affecting reproductive health care. The Action Network also makes it really simple to contact your legislators to let them know how you feel on these issues. Please visit and click on "act now."

Become a Vox member at the college you attend. Vox (Voices for Planned Parenthood) members organize events on their campus to raise awareness about reproductive rights. Please email for more information.

Donate! If you are able, you can donate money to Planned Parenthood to support our work. It is a huge support. Please visit and click on "donate."

Volunteer in any way you can. Your time and effort are always appreciated. Please email for more information.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Building on the Michigan Policy Summit

Last Saturday Planned Parenthood staff, volunteers, supporters, and students were able to attend and participate in the 2nd Annual Michigan Policy Summit ( It was a terrific event! About 600 progressives from all around Michigan joined together to network and mingle, learn about and get involved in efforts around health care, clean energy and education, and hear two great keynote speeches from Jim Hightower and Amy Goodman.

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan had a display and activism table at the Summit’s Organizational Showcase, where 55 organizations highlighted their work on a myriad of issues, ranging from ending torture and homelessness, to supporting LGBT and women’s rights, to registering underrepresented folks to vote, and preserving our great lakes. And there were several other pro-choice groups at the Summit, including the Michigan Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, MARAL, NOW and MI List.

Meeting so many other activists and organizers was exhilarating! It’s exciting to know that all the hard work we do here at Planned Parenthood is being matched by dozens of other organizations, also working on issues we care about, even if they are outside the realm of what we do here. There’s so much common ground between the work we do and that of our peers, that having the opportunity to get together and talk about it, which is what we did at the Summit, is invaluable. There are so many ways that we can work together to make Michigan the state we dream about. That’s the point of this Summit. The other point is that we don’t have to just do it once a year at an annual event. Now, after the Summit, is the time to get working. Let’s build on the new relationships we started on Saturday and continue to build on those relationships we’ve been nurturing for years. Working together is the only way we can get our goals accomplished...and besides, it's way more fun!


PS Planned Parenthood signed up over 100 new Million Strong Campaign supporters at the Michigan Policy Summit last weekend. To learn more about this campaign and to sign up yourself, visit our website:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Teens Know What Teens Need

Planned Parenthood is holding a Comprehensive Sex Education Lobby Day this Thursday, May 15th. We are calling the event Y.E.L.L.: Youth Educating Legislators in Lansing. Michigan teens from across the state will be part of a press conference, learn tips for lobbying effectively, and meet with legislators to talk about the importance of teen pregnancy prevention.

The cool thing here is that these teens want to get involved because it is their generation that is currently feeling the effects of abstinence-only education.

Nevermind the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recently came out showing that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection...

Nevermind the congressional hearing held last month that examined the detrimental effects of abstinence-only education on teenagers and their health and safety...

These teens that will be lobbying on Thursday will be speaking from their own experiences: they have seen the effects of abstinence-only education on themselves, their friends, and their classmates. What could be a more valid reason to listen to them when they say that comprehensive sex education is what teens need?

Let's hope our legislators feel the same way...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

African-Americans and STDs

I just read an article titled “African Americans and STDs: A silent epidemic”, written by U. S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio. The article states that “…a study was released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that revealed alarming statistics about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the United States. The report estimated that one in four young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States, or 3.2 million teenage girls are infected with at least one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases including human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, herpes simplex virus, and trichomoniasis. Even more devastating, was the statistic that found that 48 percent of young African-American women are infected with an STD compared to 20 percent of young white women.”

I continue to be alarmed by the disparities in health that exist within communities of color. The article attributed higher rates of sexually transmitted infections to “…conditions in the community and access to healthcare” and went on to say that “a woman in an African- American community with a single partner is much more likely to be exposed to infection than a woman in a white community.” Some contributing factors are “men having multiple partners, multiple concurrent partners or men getting exposed to infections while in prison. “ The article also mentioned that there were a “small number of African-American women who are infected by bisexual men.”

This information is devastating because it suggests that even though an African-American woman may have only one sexual partner, she is still at greater risk for contracting an STI. In a culture that equates sexually transmitted infection with your worth as a human being, it becomes increasingly problematic for people to understand that they are at risk, even if they consider themselves to be a good girl (or boy). If I only had one sexual partner and I am not promiscuous, I must be safe, right? Wrong.

As if we have not been sounding the alarm for years, this article serves as yet another wake-up call for women, men and especially those who identify with a community of color. We have got to educate our communities about these health risks and methods for prevention and treatment. I’m sure we all have suggestions for the best way to proliferate this education. One way jumps out at me. Comprehensive sex ed, anyone?

“African Americans and STDs: A silent epidemic” can be found at