Thursday, July 31, 2008

One Million Strong at Warped Tour

Thanks to the ladies of, Planned Parenthood’s One Million Strong campaign was represented at the Detroit Warped Tour. The One Million Strong Campaign is a Planned Parenthood Action Fund-sponsored effort, combining national, state, and local action funds to identify, energize, and mobilize one million pro-choice voters in the coming election.

Think Girl is a non-profit organization based in metro-Detroit, dedicated to informing and empowering women through their website and community programs. The Vans Warped Tour is the longest running tour/music festival in the United States. This year’s 13th annual festival was held at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

Thank you Think Girl, for giving over 25,000 Detroiters the opportunity to become One Million Strong!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Progressive Voices Silenced by Tragedy in Tennessee

If you haven't heard the news yet, it's disturbing and unbelievable- in the truest sense of the word. On Sunday morning, over 200 people were worshiping at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville when a gunman came in and fired. In the next few minutes, before he was tackled by congregation members, he shot and killed 2 people and wounded 7 others. The children's' choir was performing when he began his deranged act.

The man clearly has mental illness if he is willing to go shoot innocent strangers. But if you read the reports of what happened, you'll see that he targeted the members of that church becuase of their liberal views and specifically because they promoted women's and LGBT rights.

As a 4th generation Unitarian Universalist myself, I am proud of our denomination's history of working for social justice for all people and I feel lucky that my work at Planned Parenthood and my spiritual life are so easily congruent. The congregations I grew up in always stood up for the marginalized, always wanted a better world for everyone, and never placed judgments on people based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, creed ... or decision to terminate an unplanned pregnancy.

What's so mind-boggling to me is that this spirituality of love and acceptance was so threatening and angering to the gunman in Knoxville that he not only wanted those liberal values to be silenced, but that he thought he had the right to kill the people who shared and promoted those values.

When you work daily in a movement that some consider controversial, you are aware of the history of violence that came before. As a fighter for reproductive justice, I'm aware of the violence clinic workers and doctors have had to endure to do their jobs. I am aware of the clinic bombings (even right here in Michigan) and the murdering of abortion doctors back in the 1990s. It's so bizarre to think that someone disagrees with our message of Choice so much that they would want to literally destroy us and our work- like it's unbelievable that a man in Tennessee hates liberal ideals so much that he kills members of a congregation, in front of their own children, during a church service.

My heart is with the congregation of UUs in Knoxville. My heart is with our movement too, as we work towards social justice for all people. I have faith that our movement for women's rights and LGBT rights will come to fruition despite hateful acts of violence.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Parting Gift from the Bush Administration

For the past 8 years, the Bush administration has spent plenty of time promoting an anti-choice agenda. Thankfully, their time is almost up. However, the Bush administration couldn't leave without delivering a severe blow to the health of women and families, now could it?! That just wouldn't be their style.

The Bush administration is circulating a draft of proposed regulations that would apply to those who receive U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds. These regulations would threaten women's access to basic health information and services and also undermine states’ ability to enforce laws related to health care access and information.

The proposed regulations include a definition of abortion which is extraordinarily broad, seeking to expand the existing legal protections for providers/entities refusing to participate in abortion services to regular forms of birth control. The proposed regulation defines abortion as “any of the various procedures—including prescription, dispensing, and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action—that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation.” The definition could be interpreted to sweep in birth control, including emergency contraception, intra-uterine devices (IUDs), and other forms of hormonal contraceptives.

Some of the consequences of this might include:

*Planned Parenthood would be forced to hire doctors and nurses who refuse to prescribe birth control pills or even counsel patients on all their options. Countless teenagers, low-income women and those without health insurance could be denied help in family planning and preventing pregnancies.

*Health insurance providers could stop covering the cost of contraceptives for many American women even in states that require them to do so.

*Sexual assault survivors could be prevented from learning about emergency contraception, a form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy.

*Hospitals wanting to continue to receive federal funds would be required to certify that they do not discriminate against hiring health providers who would refuse to prescribe or tell patients about birth control.

Ridiculous, right? So how can you help? Contact your federal Senator and Representative and urge them to speak out against this outrageous attack on women's health.

Before you tear your hair out in frustration, remember: 176 days until we elect a pro-choice president!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Are You Serious?

I met a woman at the Detroit City Fest who was staffing a table for a local non-profit organization. I asked her to sign a statement of support for our One Million Strong campaign. After she read the materials, she took the form and studied it for five more minutes. Finally, she brought it back with her name printed, but crossed out. She said that she could not sign because was not pro-choice.

She talked to many people about being an Obama supporter, to which I wanted to reply “you know he’s pro-choice, right?” I didn’t though. I know how to respectfully agree to disagree. But that’s not the end.

She came over and started talking to me about how she teaches Sunday school at her church, and that they only teach abstinence because they don’t want teens to become sexually active. She then said, in a whispered voice, “it’s not working though….they’re still doing it”. I could not have said it better myself. If you know that abstinence-only isn’t working, aren’t you being irresponsible when you don’t provide information that can help teens make healthy decisions?

We are in a crisis people! One in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection. One in two African-American teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection. If you read this blog regularly, you might be tired of hearing this statistic. I’m sorry, as long as teens are suffering because of bogus politics, we will continue to shout it from the roof tops. When teens stop being infected at these alarming rates, I will stop making a fuss about it. Until then, abstinence only MUST GO!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

McCain: 8 Seconds of Silence

If you weren't aware of how out of touch John McCain is, this should sum it up:

If you still need more reasons to not vote for him, check this out:

Monday, July 14, 2008

See you in a week!

Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan is off to Washington D.C. for a national Planned Parenthood conference. We will be learning strategic and effective ways to ensure that Michigan becomes a state that fully supports pro-choice policies! And when we get back, it will be time to kick the electoral activism into full gear, so be ready to get out and knock some doors, make some phone calls, and host a house party or two to make sure we elect pro-choice legislators on the state and federal level this fall!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Thanks Detroit NOW

The Detroit Planned Parenthood Young Leaders (PPYL) group was recently featured in the summer 2008 issue of the Detroit NOW newsletter (front page, no less). As another group dedicated to ensuring the reproductive rights of women, it’s great to be recognized by the Detroit Chapter of the National Organization for Women.

NOW issues numerous action alerts, notifying its members of important national issues. One specific issue that Planned Parenthood and NOW have in common is our fight to restore affordable birth control to low-income and college women. For more information, see the NOW action alert at

Once again, sincere thanks to Detroit NOW. If you are interested in joining the Detroit PPYL group, please contact us at

Out of Touch

Yesterday John McCain was interviewed on his campaign bus and according to the Press Release by the PP Action Fund he left a long pause in his conversation that leaves women wondering whether he cares about their health care. It goes a little something like this...

Reporter:..."it was unfair that insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. Do you have an opinion on that?"

(strange, uncomfortable, 8 second pause).....

McCain responded: "I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer."

McCain went on to say, "it's something that I had not thought much about, and I did hear about her response, but I hadn't though much. But I will get, I will get back to you today on it."

Oh really John McCain!!! As stated by Cecile Richards in the press release, "When Sen. John McCain was asked to vote on insurance coverage of affordable birthcontrol, he HAD AN ANSWER... NO. By voting against insurance coverage of birth control, Sen. McCain is denying women affordable access to basic health care."

Just a little food for thought over the weekend!

"Living is the art of loving. Loving is the art of caring. Caring is the art of sharing. Sharing is the art of living.
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
Booker T. Washington

Monday, July 7, 2008

What's At Stake in November

In preparation for a training, my fellow organizers and I have been brainstorming all of the reproductive rights issues that are at stake in the upcoming election. As we all know, on the federal level, there is a HUGE difference between Obama (strong women's health advocate) and McCain (Mr. Mc-AntiChoice). There are important issues on the state level as well.

On the federal level:

Title X funding: the nation's family planning program. Title X funds go to safety-net family planning providers that serve low-income women and families. Title X is already severely underfunded and desperately needs an increase in the coming years.

Title V: funding for abstinence-only education programs. The government has already wasted $1.5 billion on Title V, which has been proven ineffective by many, many studies. It is time to put Title V to rest!

Supreme Court justices: the Supreme Court has an immense amount of power, and the president gets to decide who's on it. President Bush has already done enough damage by appointing justices who are dedicated to stripping away women's reproductive rights. We need to make sure McCain doesn't get a chance to continue this trend.

On the state level:

Prevention First: the Michigan legislature has introduced a series of bills that focus on making women's health a priority. These bills are a part of Planned Parenthood's Prevention First! Campaign, and they will ensure:

*access to affordable birth control
*comprehensive, medically-accurate sex education
*timely access to and education about emergency contraception
*insurance coverage of annual pap smear screenings

We need to make sure that Michigan elects pro-choice legislators so that these bills can become a reality. This is vitally important to the health of our communities.

So now that you know what's at stake, make sure your vote in November supports women's health! And don't forget to tell all your friends to do the same!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Do People Care?

As a field organizer, it’s my job to make my community aware of issues and legislation that will affect women’s health in Michigan. One of the ways I accomplish this is through crowd canvassing at large events like festivals. I usually ask people if they would like to support women’s health, to which some reply yes. Many say no. How could this be? How could people actually say no to making women’s health a priority? One of my rationalizations is that people are too busy to stop, but that they really do care about women’s health. Thing is, if you don’t stop to sign or stand up to speak out, no one will ever know.

While some people are too busy to learn about the laws being passed in our country, many others are super-busy passing laws and lobbying for legislation that could negatively impact the very same people who didn’t care to speak out. There are those who would pass laws that never affect themselves personally, but affect poor, uninsured or under-insured people. These are the people who hope you are always too busy to stop, too busy to learn what’s going on in your community, too busy to stand up and call for change. Understand this: while they are hoping you are too busy to stop and make a difference, they are never too busy to stop trying to exert their control over women’s bodies by eliminating women’s choices. They are tireless when it comes to working against good sex ed in schools and making accessible and affordable health care for women a thing of the past.

I titled this blog “Do People Care?” because I really want to know if they do. I’m sure they do. I’m hoping they do. If you are reading this and you care about women’s health, post a comment saying “I Do!”

Thank you, I do too.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thanks Northville!

The Northville Board of Education recently approved a human sexuality component to be added to their health education curriculum. I think this is big news and I am excited to see a community come together to create an environment where teens can get medically-accurate, age-appropriate sexuality education.

The Northville Board of Education’s decision is in response to a statistic that says 79 percent of Northville parents want to see this education in schools. Parents will have to opt-in to the course, instead of opting out, a decision that may have a negative impact on the number of students participating (just ask any teacher who has ever sent a note home).

Overall, I believe this decision is a move in the right direction. The parents of Northville have had their say. Now, let’s watch the wonderful things that can happen when we trust our teens enough to give them access to vital, relevant and accurate information.