June 25, 2009 § 1 Comment
The one millionth way that Ann Coulter simultaneously terrifies and disgusts me:
“I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.”
— Ann Coulter on The O’Reilly Factor on June 22, 2009
And may I ask — what the fuck is an “abortionist,” or even an “abortion doctor”? Ann, you can save those extra syllables and just call them doctors — you know, the kind who go to medical school, get certified, and save lives.
via a NARAL Pro-Choice America email.
June 25, 2009 § Leave a comment
This is a victory for students and members of the general public who are partial to logic:
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school’s strip search of an Arizona teenage girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen was illegal.
The court ruled 8-1 on Thursday that school officials violated the law with their search of Savana Redding in the rural eastern Arizona town of Safford.
Redding, who now attends college, was 13 when officials at Safford Middle School ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear because they were looking for pills — the equivalent of two Advils. The district bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs and the school was acting on a tip from another student.
“What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear,” Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. “We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable.”
Amen. I’m not totally down with the idea that students’ civil rights can be restricted once they step into a school building — or even outside, if they are representing the image of their school — but I am absolutely, fervently against any rights-limiting policy that doesn’t even pretend to be in the interest of someone’s safety. Hell, even if Redding had had two ibuprofen in her frickin’ underwear — who the fuck cares? The priorities of the public school system are sometimes so baffling to me.
May 3, 2009 § 12 Comments
Hey, Mike Galanos? Shut the fuck up. Your “commentary” on the tyranny of 17-year-old girls (a.k.a. me) having access to emergency contraception is naive, elitist, and contrived.
In a matter of weeks, teenage girls, just 17 years old, will be able to get their hands on the “morning after pill” without ever talking to a doctor and without their parents ever knowing or being a part of this major decision.
The pills are in my HOT LITTLE HANDS! And one day I will rule the world with them.
Think of a 17-year-old girl. Most of the time she’s a high school senior, still living at home with Mom and Dad. She still needs her parents in the tough times. But they will be cut out of a traumatic situation. All thanks to U.S. District Judge Edward Korman. Korman stated in his order, “The record shows that FDA officials and staff both agreed that 17-year-olds can use Plan B safely without a prescription.”
Why oh why would Korman say that it’s safe for teens to use emergency contraception without a prescription? Gee, maybe because there was no medical evidence from the start that the pill could be dangerous to women under the arbitrarily chosen golden age of 18. It’s more than obvious that the conservative movement to restrict access is not about the health and safety of teenage women, but about legislating who is and isn’t allowed to have sex.
I’m very much like the ghost girl Galanos describes: I’m 17, not a senior but a junior (gasp! so young!), and yes, I do “still need my parents in the tough times” (gotta loathe that Lifetime-esque word choice). But here’s the difference between me and Galanos: I trust young women. I know that we are the only ones who can be sure if our parents are trustworthy, if they’ll support us through whatever “major decision” we make. In an ideal world, of course we’d talk to our parents, not just if we needed to take Plan B, but about all that messy sex stuff: attraction, consent, myriad birth control options, pleasure. But our world is far from ideal. Far too many parents are abusive or just inconsiderate for Galanos’ mandate to hold any value in real life.
And the larger point is, society must help parents, not undermine their rights by keeping them in the dark on their child’s life-changing decision.
Oh, word? You’re playing that card? It works both ways, Galanos. I vote for a culture in which the rights of parents and teenagers are respected, where each side is honest and informed and open-minded. I vote for a culture in which the person in the hot seat – the young woman, in this case – has the ultimate right of choice.
The [pill] is 89 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when it’s taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood applauds the now broader access to this drug, calling it “a strong statement to American women that their health comes before politics.” I question that, when we are cutting a doctor out of the decision to administer a powerful drug. Timing is essential to the drug’s effectiveness, Plan B supporters say, so getting parents and doctors involved would unnecessarily delay the teen’s ability to pop the pill the “morning after.” Does it really take that long to get a prescription?
Uh…YES. If I get sick, there’s a good chance that my pediatrician can see me within a few days on short notice, but not always. If I needed an appointment to get an EC prescription – if time was a particularly important factor – I’m pretty sure they’d rush me in, but this is a private practice with affluent clients. Who knows what the situation is like for other women? I certainly don’t – but unlike Galanos, I don’t make huge assumptions about that sort of thing. Galanos is effectively asking, “Why are we expanding quick access, when it’s somewhat likely that most women will probably be able to get a prescription within the very small time slot?” What he should be asking is, “How can we make this powerful option available to every single woman who might want it?”
But let’s get back to the first point: We are making it available to high school girls. We’re enabling teenagers to act carelessly with an easy way out. During a recent discussion on my show, Jackie Morgan MacDougall, supervising producer of the Web site Momlogic.com, said it best. “Teenagers are known for thinking they’re untouchable and here we are saying that they can continue to do that and that there aren’t any consequences.” With Plan B, they can do it now and deal with it later.
Don’t tell me high school dynamics won’t play in here. The boyfriend will talk his girlfriend into unprotected sex with the promise of buying the “morning after pill” the next day. Any 17-year-old boy will be able to buy this drug, just as any 17-year-old girl will.
Yes, this could encourage unprotected sex and that means a greater risk for sexually transmitted diseases. What about the 17-year-old girl who may get Plan B for her 15-year-old sophomore friend? These are the kind of decisions high school girls will make.
Korman didn’t stop there. He asked the FDA to consider making Plan B available to girls of any age. That’s a slippery slope and what’s worse, the ones who will fall are our daughters.
Dear readers, I wish I had a witty antidote to this sexist, ageist, slut-shaming, sorry excuse for logic. Unfortunately, I’m only human.
April 25, 2009 § 2 Comments
April 23, 2009 § 2 Comments
A few days ago I was in a drugstore looking to buy some over-the-counter birth control. It was a store I’d never been to, medium-sized, and I looked all over but couldn’t find the aisle where contraceptives and condoms are kept.
Finally I found what I was looking for, all the way in the back of the store on the side of the pharmacy counter – that is, about a foot and a half off the ground. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to buy, so I sort of bent over, trying to get a better look at the options. But they were so low that I eventually just put myself on the floor in a combination sit-kneel.
I said to my boyfriend, “What the fuck? Why are these things so out of the way?” He agreed. The store apparently has the space to put dozens of bottles of chocolate syrup at eye-level in a regular aisle, but lacks the decency to put life-saving products in a remotely convenient place. The incident really got me thinking about people, like me, who are looking for condoms or BC but who, unlike me (thanks to a good deal of feminist awakening), don’t have the courage to face judgment by asking an employee where to look. My boyfriend pointed out that this policy would particularly affect teenagers, who in my experience want to be as inconspicuous as possible in situations like these.
So as I was paying, I spoke to the manager, who was totally nice and charming and respectful about it. I said, “It took a while for us to find this, and when we did we noticed that the condoms and spermicide products were located all the way in the back and pretty low to the ground. I basically had to sit on the floor to decide what I wanted to buy. It seems like you’ve got a lot of space here. I’m sure a lot of people come here looking for the same thing I was, so I think you should consider moving the products to a more obvious display.” He said he would look into it, and seemed very sincere.
Me: “That felt so badass!”
Boyfriend: “Changing the world, one store at a time.”
April 14, 2009 § 2 Comments
Hey folks – my posting has been light this week since I’m in San Francisco visiting family. But here’s some quick information passed on by Tara from NARAL Pro-Choice New York (one of my fave organizations!).
I thought you’d be interested in this new resource for teens in NYC that NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health are unveiling: Doctors for Teens. This website helps teens find providers they can talk to openly and honestly, who specialize specifically in adolescent needs, and who will respond to teens’ needs confidentially and without judgment. Teens can search by borough to find which providers near them offer things like low-cost service, birth control, HPV testing, and primary care. The site is also available in Spanish.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for young women to speak without shame about sex. If you’re uncomfortable talking to your parents or regular doctor about sex, these websites are fantastic resources.
April 6, 2009 § 4 Comments
UPDATE: Amplify has a form to tell the Virginia School Board members that birth control isn’t the same as heroin or a loaded gun.
A disheartening story of under-the-radar slut-shaming and bullshit bureaucracy: the Washington Post reports that a teenage girl has been suspended for two weeks – with the possibility of expulsion – for getting caught taking her birth control pill during lunch.
For two decades, many schools have set zero-tolerance policies on drugs. That means no over-the-counter drugs, no prescription drugs, no pretend drugs in student lockers or pockets. When many teens have ready access to medicine cabinets filled with prescription medications such as Xanax and Vicodin, any capsule or tablet is suspect.
Still, some parents and civil rights advocates say enforcement has been overzealous. Stringent rules have ensnared not only drug dealers and abusers, but a host of sniffling and headachy students seeking quick medical relief. The Supreme Court will consider this month the case of a 13-year-old Arizona student who was strip-searched in 2003 by an administrator who suspected that she was carrying ibuprofen pills.
Fairfax [Virginia] School Board members have debated over time whether to allow students to carry Tylenol or other over-the-counter medicines without registering them with the school nurse.
Look, I understand that there needs to be some sort of regulation about what drugs kids can and can’t take into school buildings, and what they’re allowed to self-medicate with. Obviously heroin, LSD, and marijuana shouldn’t be tolerated at all, and potent prescription drugs should be registered with the health office so that in an emergency, the administration would have the information necessary to act responsibly.
But I think this whole charade about over-the-counter and widely used prescription drugs reveals a profound distrust of young people, and a desire by the education bureaucracy to get involved in the private lives of the families it serves. I’m a high school student who is currently pursuing the pill as a birth control option (the personal is political, right?), and, feminist as I am, I imagine I’d be upset if the entire school were to hear about my sex life in such a humiliating way. I’m worried about the shame this young woman might feel – shame that’s entirely irrational, since using contraception (with condoms) is in fact the most responsible choice straight sexually active teens can make. And I’m thrilled that she’d made the decision to use the pill with her family, so the administration’s call home wasn’t a total shock – but, as Miriam points out, what about women who don’t tell their families they’re using birth control? They’d likely face jeers and rumors at school and surprise and anger at home.
According to school policies, her pills should have been kept in the school clinic. But the student said she did not see the logic in making a special trip to see the nurse, a relative stranger, each day during her 25-minute lunch break. She preferred to take the pill on her own. She tried to be discreet but she got caught.
The teenager and her mother maintain that the decision to take birth-control pills is personal. Now that private choice has been shared with her principal and many teachers.
Why are we embarassing girls for making healthy sexual decisions? Why don’t we shine the spotlight, just for a second, on the naive and sexist health curricula that pervades our country’s education system and tries to prevent such responsible choices?
As far as I can tell, the student – who declined to publish her name (hooray respecting privacy rights!) – seems to be taking this mayhem with a grain of salt.
During two weeks of watching television game shows and trying to keep up with homework online, the Fairfax teen, an honor student and lettered athlete, had time to study the handbook closely. If she had been caught high on LSD, heroin or another illegal drug, she found, she would have been suspended for five days. Taking her prescribed birth-control pill on campus drew the same punishment as bringing a gun to school would have.
I don’t really know what to say to this shit, except that taking contraception is not fucking the same as carrying a gun – that this statement seems to warrant evidence beyong basic decency is truly depressing. But I also want to point out that the Washington Post takes pains to include that the teen is an “honor student and lettered athlete.” She’s a nice good girl, so it’s okay for her to do it – the implication being, of course, that if she didn’t have stellar grades or wasn’t involved in the school community, having The Sex would be quite unforgivable. Look: you are allowed to have sex. You are allowed to want pleasure and go after it. You are allowed to keep yourself from getting pregnant in the process. This has nothing to do with your grades or work ethic or looks or personality. It’s your right, and that’s that.