Thursday, June 26, 2008

People for PPYL

I recently co-hosted events for Planned Parenthood’s first Detroit and Oakland County Young Leaders groups. We had a great time talking about Planned Parenthood’s mission and goals and planning our upcoming fun-filled, action-packed events. If you are an activist and would like to participate with one of our groups in your area, give us a holler!

Contact Detroit PPYL at
Contact Oakland County PPYL at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Please Don't Let Epidemic Become "Old News"

As many of you know, back in March a shocking study from the Center for Disease Control came out, showing that nearly 1 in 4 teen-aged women in our country, and 50% of African American teen women, have a sexually transmitted disease. Most of the cases found were of Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, as well as Chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and Herpes.

To me, this seems everyone should be up in arms trying to do something to turn the tide on the epidemic facing our young women.

When most people think of epidemic, I think they probably think of Polio. So, I did a little comparative research. What I found was that back in the early 1900s Polio was not only striking fear in the hearts of Americans as the disease seemed to pop up unexplainedly and spread quickly, but it was also killing a lot of people. In 1907 there were 2,500 cases of Polio in New York City and in 1916 6,000 people in Brooklyn alone died of the disease.

Then I looked up the number of women who die of Cervical Cancer in our country today. Already in 2008 3,800 women have died and 11,000 others have been diagnosed. HPV causes 70% of all cervical cancer and our young women are getting HPV at alarming rates. I fear that becuase there is a delay in the serious threat that HPV poses, many people aren't adequately alarmed at the rates at which our teens are contracting this disease.

Across the country HPV education and awareness bills have popped up and have passed to varying degrees. But becuase HPV is sexually transmitted and we tend to have a hang up around teens and sex (the main misconception being that if we teach sex ed, teens will be more promiscuous, as if packing an umbrella causes rain, or as if many aren't having sex already (remember the 1 in 4 STI rate?)), many of the bills get watered down and have no teeth, meaning the young women who need the information about staying safe most, probably aren't getting it.

Just like a lot of adults aren't getting what a serious problem a 1 in 4 STD rate among teen women is.

Let's not judge and waste time talking about how back in our day young women weren't so ________ (insert you're own personal adjective here). Let's get to work educating young women about how to be healthy and safe, so that they can avoid sexually transmitted infections and turn back the epidemic of their generation.

Here are a few resources for teens, adults, and parents of teens about staying safe and talking to teens about avoiding STIs:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Seriously?...The Affordable Birth Control Crisis Really Hasn't Been Fixed Yet?

Yet again, Congress has rejected the chance to fix the affordable birth control crisis.

Since January of 2007, women all across the country have watched as birth control prices have soared 900% in many university clinics and safety-net family planning providers, all because of a MISTAKE Congress made. See, Congress inadvertently reversed a rule in the Deficit Reduction Act which allowed these clinics and providers to receive birth control at a discount price so they could turn around and sell it to their clients at an affordable price.

Recently, the Senate passed the War Supplemental bill, which contained a provision to fix this crazy mess. Unfortunately, on June 18th, the House stripped this provision from the bill.

So. Frustrating.

Birth control should be affordable. This is a simple, common-sense concept, right? After all, an overwhelming majority of women will use birth control at some point in their lives, and preventing unintended pregnancies is the best way to 1.) ensure happy, healthy families and 2.) reduce the need for abortion.

Planned Parenthood will continue to push for some sort of legislative fix. Here's what you can do to help:

Contact your Representative (find yours at ) and ask him/her to reach out to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and urge that 1.) a vote be taken on the House floor for the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act and 2) affordable birth control is indeed restored this session.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Great Place to Work

Each day, I’m amazed that I get to live out my feminist ideals through my job. Sometimes it seems unfair that other people are stuck in jobs that they only feel lukewarm about, while I have the time of my life working for a cause I believe in. Thank you Planned Parenthood - for being at the forefront when it comes to women’s healthcare and reproductive rights. Thank you for the work you do to make contraception affordable and sex education accessible. Thank you for being a great place to work!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Don't Underestimate the Power of Educating Others!

As you all know, Planned Parenthood is holding a week of house parties in order to educate others about John McCain's extreme anti-choice positions on reproductive health care. The week kicked off on Saturday, June 14th, which is when I hosted my very own party.

While everyone I invited was supportive of Planned Parenthood and our mission, almost everyone there did not know the extent of McCain's anti-choice beliefs and actions. I heard quite a few comments like "wow, I didn't know that" and "really? he voted against all these things [comprehensive, medically accurate sex education, funding to reduce unintended and teen pregnancy, contraceptive equity, etc.]?"

This is exciting to me, because while I already know that these people are going to vote for the pro-choice candidate, they now have the knowledge to enlighten other people on how dangerous McCain would be for women's health. Since McCain has done an excellent job of convincing people he's a moderate and thus pro-choice, this is vitally important. I like to call it a ripple effect: I educate a few people, who educate a few more, who educate a few more...and we all go to the polls in November to elect a pro-choice president!

So please, take the time to inform others of McCain's extremist stance. Even if everyone you know is already voting pro-choice, they might have a few friends who are on the fence...and just need that litte push to realize how scary it would be to have McCain in office. Please visit to get all the information you need to know on McCain's reproductive health care record.

My dog Nori shows her support by wearing a One Million Strong sticker at my party.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Father's Day

As Father’s Day approaches, I am reminded of the many men who support the women’s rights and reproductive justice movements. Although, these movements are largely viewed as female, many men put themselves on the line everyday to make true equality between men and women a reality. I want to offer a sincere thanks to the men who work to sustain the rights of all people, especially those who work for the rights of women. You show every day that you understand “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Getting out McCain's Real Record on Women's Health

As we mentioned last week, in regards to Reproductive Justice and women's rights, the two Presidential candidates could not be more different. Whereas I focused on how great Sen. Obama is on the issues we at Planned Parenthood care about last time, today I'm going to explain JUST HOW BAD JOHN MCCAIN IS!

Here are a few examples of how he's awful (or should I say "How awful he is"):

-McCain opposed spending $100 million to prevent unintended and teen pregnancies. -McCain opposed legislation requiring that abstinence-only programs be medically accurate and scientifically based.
-McCain opposed Title X, the nation's family planning program.
-McCain opposed requiring insurance coverage of prescription birth control.
-McCain opposes comprehensive sex education.
-McCain is unsure where he stands on government funding for contraception.
-McCain opposed repealing the "global gag rule."
-McCain supports overturning Roe v. Wade.
-McCain says Roe v. Wade was a "bad decision."

And drum roll please for the very worst thing he could have February 2007, the AP quoted McCain stating, 'I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."

This guy's real bad....

...but you can help us get the word out about him... Across the country Planned Parenthood Supporters are holding House Parties, not just becuase they're fun, but becuase lots of people don't understand how bad McCain is. His moderate persona is going to carry him far -unless we do something to shatter it.

I'm having a house party, you should have a house party too! Like I said, it's fun, it's easy, and it can make a real difference!

Let me explain...

A "House" Party doesn't really have to be at a house- it can be at a restaurant, a park, wherever. It can be over drinks, or as a potluck, or as a brownie-bake-off.

Basically, it just means that you get some friends together, have fun, and spend a few minutes talking about John McCain and how bad he'd be for women, and our health, if he becomes president. We'll get you all the info on him you'll need, and you'll also get a box of hosting goodies in the mail too- like a PP t-shirt, a lapel pin, buttons, stickers, a note from our PPFA president, etc.

Everything's really easy to set up through Party2Win: check out Michigan's home page to get started!

*FYI, you don't have to actually have your house party in the next week, but make sure to sign up through the above website by June 20th to get the box of prizes and materials for your party (and so that Michigan gets credit for all it's great activists!)

... they've been chipping away at our rights, let's chip away at John McAnti-Choice's chance at becoming President.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Climbing Steep Hills

This week I spoke over lunch to a local service club. PP was asked to come and talk about the Prevention First Campaign/our agenda for 2008, what services PP provides in the local areas, and low cost health care options for women, men, and teens. I arrived at the restaurant and was greeted warmly by a huge Planned Parenthood supporter. She briefed me on the climate of the group and told me that some people were concerned that "Planned Parenthood" was coming to speak and not a lot of people may show up. I stood up to room of mostly men and began talking about my job as an organizer of Planned Parenthood, the 2008 Legislative and Policy Agenda, the Prevention First Campaign etc. I addressed the teen pregnancy issue in the county and how important comprehensive sex education was. I looked around - blank faces. When it was time for questions, I was pleasantly surprised by an older gentlemen - in his late 70's - he said, "...there has never been a time in my life where I did not completely agree that it is a woman's choose" he looked around the room and said, "I know a lot of you (speaking to his colleagues) may not agree with this but it is important to talk about".

After I was finished most of the participants came up to me and thanked me for coming. I know that they went home that night with a lot to think about. For many years, they may have had mis-conceptions and unknowns about "Planned Parenthood", my hope is that they tell just one person about the comprehensive services PP provides, the teen peer education groups for high school students in several communities, the breast and cervical cancer prevention programs for older woman, the advocacy work that the organizers who work at PPAM do everyday and the hundreds of volunteers who are "foot soldiers" in our mission.

Lesson Learned: "To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first." Shakespeare

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Pro-Choice Democratic Nominee

No doubt by now, nearly everyone has heard that Sen. Barack Obama has surpassed the number of delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination for President. Last night the final two races (North Dakota and Montana) showed how close this race between Sen. Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton has been. Each of them won a state last night, but Sen. Obama's previous lead in delegates, and a wave of super-delegate support yesterday, pushed him over the top.

This has been a very long and unprecedented primary in many ways, but what I think is so cool about it is that from the beginning of this process in January all the way through last night, all of the candidates who even had a chance of winning on the Democratic side were 100% pro-choice and pro-women's health care! I don't think the pro-choice community could be any happier with either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama- they have both been champions of our issues for a long time.

A quick story: Last summer at the annual conference for Planned Parenthood staff who work on policy and organizing, both Senators Clinton and Obama came to speak, as did Elizabeth Edwards on behalf of her husband, John Edwards, who had another engagement to attend at that time. Each spoke for nearly an hour about their commitment to Reproductive Justice and what they would do as President to ensure that women retained the right to affordable reproductive health care, family planning services, accurate information, and abortion, not to mention how they would handle the inevitable Supreme Court nominations they would have to make. The room of 700 Planned Parenthood staff was ecstatic- after 8 years of an extreme anti-choice administration any of the three would have been a welcome change... and not just becuase they were better than President Bush on our issues, but becuase they are all excellent on our issues!

One person who is NOT excellent on our issues is the Republican nominee, John McCain. In fact, he's horrible on just about everything we care about here at Planned Parenthood. We are a non-partisan organization, but it's not hard to figure out who we'll be supporting in November, when one nominee has introduced bills on our behalf and truly cares about the well-being of women, men, and teens in America, and one has made it clear that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned and Supreme Court Justices should be like current Justice and anti-choice extremist Samuel Alito.

I am excited that a Senator with a 100% pro-choice rating has a true shot at becoming the next President of the United States!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Planned Parenthood at Pride

Yesterday, Karisha (another Field Organizer) and I tabled at Motor City Pride in Ferndale. This is an event that celebrates the lives of Michigan's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual citizens. It is a huge street festival that is organized by Triangle Foundation (

What an amazing event! Thousands of people showed up to have a good time and pay tribute to Michigan's diversity. Many, many people approached the Planned Parenthood table to get information and express support for our organization. Some people may not initially see how Planned Parenthood and the LGBT community connect, but there are actually plenty of ways that the two support each other.

*Planned Parenthood believes in non-judgmental health care, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic background, able-bodiedness, sexual orientation, etc. Every individual deserves access to quality, affordable service.

*Planned Parenthood advocates for safe sex and healthy relationships. Clearly, this is important for everyone across the sexual identity spectrum. PP has information for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, on how to protect against STI's and sexual assault, understand the dynamics of a healthy relationship, and develop good communication skills.

*Planned Parenthood believes in comprehensive sexuality education, which should include information on and sensitivity to LGBT issues.

*Planned Parenthood is a progressive organization and we support progressive causes!

These are a few of the reasons why Planned Parenthood and the LGBT community are linked, and why we should continue to work together in the future.

I am so looking forward to attending the Pride festival in Lansing on June 27-29th. I hope to see you there! Visit for more information.