Category Archives: Pregnancy & Childbirth

Do you know how babies are made?

By: Nicole McLaren

The goal of sexual education is to teach young folks how to lead healthy sex lives, at least that is the ideal form of it. Unfortunately only 24 states and D.C. require that public schools teach sex education. Even among these sex education programs there is variance, some programs focus on abstinence only instead of providing a comprehensive education.

Not only have these abstinence only programs been found ineffective at keeping teens from having sex, some of them are not based on scientific fact and actually rely on religion to educate. The federal government has spent taxpayer money to fund these abstinence only programs even after the research found them to be ineffective.  Advocates for Youth claims that overall congress has spent over $1.5 billion on these harmful programs.

Multiple studies have found that parents regardless of educational obtainment, economic class, and religious affiliation, support the idea that comprehensive sexual education should be provided to their children. These studies have been completed nation-wide and in individual states and the results have been the same.

The prevention of teen pregnancy and STD/STI contraction is important for young people to lead healthy, successful lives. The best way to do this is to provide sexual education for teens in school, at home and in the community. Every year, according to dosomething.org 750,000 teen girls will get pregnant in the U.S. That’s 3 out of every 10 teenage girls. Becoming a parent is the leading cause of dropping out of high school, 50% of teen moms never graduate. Only 2% of teen moms earn a college degree.

There is much we can do in way of changing policy by working with organizations  like Planned Parenthood to lobby legislators into listening to the wants and needs of their constituents. Something that we can do right now though is start a free Babysitters Club to help teen moms stay in school or earn their GEDs. Here is a link https://www.dosomething.org/us/campaigns/babysitters-club?source=node/152

The Social Construction of Gender and the Gender-Neutral Parenting Trend

By: Jillian James

From the moment we are born, we are classified as either biologically male or female and raised according to our gender. Girls get pink toys and clothes, boys get blue. Girls wear dresses, boys don’t. However, there is a distinct difference between your biological sex and your gender. A person’s sex is refers to their anatomy, while a person’s gender refers to a person’s concept of himself or herself.

 

As more and more social science research has been conducted, scholars have realized something very important- gender is a social construct. Just because a boy has long hair or wears makeup doesn’t make him any less of a male biologically. He is just going against his society’s prescribed ideal about what a male should look like.

 

Gender is a social construct because the definition of masculinity and femininity has changed in our society over time. Less than one hundred years ago women were given the right to vote and a woman wearing pants could cause a scandal. The social construction of gender also changes from country to country, region to region, state to state. Every culture has its own prescribed gender ideals and ways of thinking. This is all proof that gender ideals don’t have a connection to a person’s biology.

 

So what can we learn from this? Luckily, society is becoming more and more accepting and has gained more understanding about gender fluidity and societies’ pressure to conform to gender norms. This is very positive step in the right direction.

 

The new trend in parenting is raising a child to be “gender-neutral”. This means that you don’t raise your child as being distinctively male or female or you don’t make them follow prescribed gender roles. Instead you let them grow and develop independently and make their own choices about their gender as they get older. This is becoming very popular in other countries like Sweden and is now making its way to the United States.

 

There are different levels to this type of parenting. Some couples don’t even reveal the gender of their child and raise their children as neither male nor female while others simply encourage their children to break gender stereotypes. Things as simple as buying both boy and girl toys and encouraging them a wide variety interests can help children feel comfortable being themselves.

 

Having prescribed gender roles can be harmful. Human beings are incredibly complex, multifaceted creatures. They can’t fit into any one box or type. The people who struggle to conform to the societal norm can feel ostracized and begin to question themselves and their self-worth. By understanding and accepting that both boys and girls can have a wide variety of interests that may include things that are typically associated with the opposite gender, we can start to understand, accept, and encourage them to be their truest selves.

 

Source:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/difference-sex-and-gender/

http://www.parents.com/parenting/gender-neutral-parenting/

 

The Freedom of Decision: Marriage and Child-Raising are a Choice, Not a Requirement

By: Jillian James

Sociologists are noticing a trend among modern women: they are getting married and having children at lower rates than ever before. Why? Why are women choosing to delay or forgo the experiences of marriage and childbirth, the two things that used to be so commonplace that it seemed like a requirement for women?

Part of it stems from the fact that marriage used to be something that was tied to economics and, for most women, was the only way that they could provide for themselves. Up until very recently in history women haven’t had very many opportunities to attend college, make their own incomes, and forge their own futures. They had to depend on marriage and their spouse to provide for them. The patriarchal structure of society meant that women had to get married at a young age or risk falling into financial despair or becoming dependent on their parents.

Now in modern society, women are finally being given choices. Marriage and child rearing are absolutely wonderful life paths, but they are no longer their only life paths.

Both men and women are now focused on carving lives for themselves and finding their own personal fulfillment before marrying. The emphasis is now on cultivating a relationship with a person and searching for a partner that you truly connect with. Taking the time to grow with your partner before marriage could potentially lead to less divorce and stronger relationships.

Women are also choosing to forgo marriage entirely, focusing on other facets of their lives. They may focus on careers or their own personal well being and fulfillment, or enter domestic partnerships. Many women who don’t marry are still in satisfying and enriching relationships with their partners.

Many women are also choosing not to have children or to delay childbirth until later in life. This could be because women are taking the time to pursue their own personal passions, like traveling, or are waiting until they are sure that they are financially stable and have achieved their own personal goals before having children.

In the end, choosing whether or not to get married or have a child is a personal choice, a choice that every individual woman should make for herself. A woman should always be the one who makes the choice to marry and have children, because then she will be happy and fulfilled with her life and relationships. In modern society, women have the freedom and the power to create their own lives, and that is a remarkable thing.

 

 

Sex Education in America: Why Abstinence Only Education Does More Harm Than Good

By: Jillian James

WHAT IS ABSTINENCE ONLY EDUCATION?

Abstinence only education is sexual education that promotes and teaches abstinence until marriage. Discussion of different types of birth control, STDs and STIs, and other sexual topics are excluded completely. Abstinence only education also for the most part only discusses heterosexual relationships and doesn’t provide a depth of information on LGBTQ+ issues.
WHY IS COMPREHENSIVE SEXUAL EDUCATION BETTER?

Abstinence education does more harm than good. It is incredibly important to provide comprehensive sexual education in schools because it gives students the power to makes informed decisions about their bodies and their sexual health. According to Advocates for Youth, 88% of millennials support comprehensive sex education.

Comprehensive sexual education gives students the power of knowledge and the resources to be healthy. By discussing sexuality, it becomes less stigmatized and students grow up feeling more self-actualized and confident about their identity and their bodies. Abstinence only education makes sex and sexuality seem shameful and causes students to have low self esteem and question their natural desires.

The idea that teenagers in high school must be “shielded” from comprehensive sexual education is ridiculous and counter intuitive. Teenagers are exposed to sex and sexual acts through music, movies, and pop culture and it is crucial that they are given medically correct information that is taught by a professional.

It is also important to note that the message of abstinence can be taught effectively while still providing comprehensive sexual education. Several studies have shown that providing comprehensive sexual education does not make the teen pregnancy rate go up. In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been dropping over the past few years and many studies owe that fact to wider contraception access and education.

Take steps to educate yourself and research sexual education in your area. If you have any questions at all about sexual health, Planned Parenthood clinics are available to provide educational services and professional help and advising. You can find your local Planned Parenthood and learn more about the educational services they offer at PlannedParenthood.org.

Marriage before the Age of Consent

By: Nicole Mclaren

Childhood marriage is something that usually we do not think of happening in the U.S. but the definition of a childhood marriage is any marriage in which the parties are under 18. In almost every state this is legal but the requirements to get the marriage certificate changes between states.
The national average is about 5 out of 1000 underage people are married. The two states that have the highest average are Texas and West Virginia both averaging around 7 out of 1000 15-17 year olds being married. Still other states have outdated laws that allow 12 year old girls and 14 year old boys to marry with parental consent. in 2014 there were over 57,000 15-17 year olds married in the US, 55% of them were women.


According to Human Rights Watch, one out of four girls in the world will marry before the age of 18. There are over 7 million women and over 1 million men in the world who are in a childhood marriage. The over representation of girls in childhood marriages in the US and around the world is alarming. It is because of the rights of women and girls being an afterthought in cultures across the globe. Childhood marriage is an outdated system and we should be working to address it in the US and around the world.
Currently there is a bill being proposed in the New York state legislature that seeks to end child marriage by changing the age of marriage from 14 to 17. In the first decade of the 21st century over 3000 children were married in New York. Human Rights Watch has started an email to legislators in the state to push them to pass this bill. The organizations and politicians that support this bill are seeking to help protect the rights of these children, mostly girls married to adult men. Click the link to put your voice in!

 

https://www.hrw.org/EndChildMarriage

5 Myths About Abortion Debunked

By: Cassandra Hedrick

There is a lot of information about abortion circulated these days. But how much of it is true? Because of the wide variety of sources available is can be hard to tell. So, let’s look at 5 myths about abortion and talk about why they are wrong.

Abortion increase the risk of breast cancer

This is a straight up lie made up by anti-choice activists. It is unsure exactly where it started, but since it began circulating, scientists have been studying it. No scientific study has shown any link in breast cancer and abortions. Even the World Health Organization put out a statement saying this.

Prohibiting abortion will lead to fewer abortions.

The logic behind this makes sense. If it’s illegal, less people will do it. However, this simply isn’t true. 19 million illegal abortions are performed every year. The truth is, women who have unwanted pregnancies will do what they have to. This means making abortions illegal will just make them unsafe. Just like alcohol prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking, abortion prohibition will not stop people from getting abortions.

Women who have abortions can suffer from “post-abortion syndrome”

This is the idea that women who have abortions will develop depression or bi-polar disorder because of it. It is supposedly a post traumatic disorder. However, there has been no scientific evidence found. In fact, most women have reported feeling relieved after getting an abortion. Read more here.

Abortions are unsafe

Like any medical procedure, there can be risks to getting an abortion. Complications can happen and, if the doctor is not following all of the protocols, things can go wrong. But, like any medical procedure, abortions have very low risks and are generally safe. There is more risk giving birth to a child than having an abortion

Abortions can cause infertility

Like the link to breast cancer, this is a rumor completely made up by anti-choice activists. Safe, legal abortions will not lead to infertility. Women return to their normal fertility and menstruation shortly after an abortion and there are no long term affects.

There are a lot of “facts” circulating about abortion, so it can take some digging to find the truth. Just make sure you look for the facts to back up any claims you read. If you want more information about abortions, the procedure, or risks you can visit plannedparenthood.org or call their main center.

Everything You Should Know About Roe v. Wade in 2017

By: Jillian James

OVERVIEW

Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court Case that changed the face of women’s health in America. The case stated that a woman had the constitutional right to privacy under the 14th amendment if she decided to have an abortion, and that she had the right to have an abortion without interference from politicians.

HISTORY

Roe v. Wade was a case that challenged a Texas statute that stated that it was illegal for a woman to receive an abortion (unless the woman’s life was at stake). A woman named Norma McCorvey, who used the name “Jane Roe” to protect her identity, filed the case. McCorvey was a woman who lived in poverty and had a ninth grade education. After she found herself pregnant with her third child, she decided to fight for the right to have a safe, legal abortion.  She won her case, which was argued by lawyer Sarah Weddington, who was only 26 at the time.  The ruling make restricting access to abortion by making it illegal unconstitutional. McCorvey recently died this month. She had famously conflicting views about abortion, being the face of the abortion rights movement and then the anti-abortion movement later in life, but the legacy of the court case that defined her continues to live on.

ROE V. WADE- Before and After

Before Roe v. Wade, up to one-sixth of all childbirth related deaths were caused by illegal abortions. Now it is one of the safest medical procedures in the U.S. and has a safety record of over 99%.  Abortion is legal in all fifty states and women have access to medically safe abortions performed by trained doctors.

CALL TO ACTION

Tell your friends and family members about the importance of Roe v. Wade and its impact on women’s health. Share your voice let others know that you stand with the Roe v. Wade decision and that every woman should have the right to choose.

For more about abortion and abortion services, contact your local Planned Parenthood location to get information from professionals or visit Planned Parenthood on the web at plannedparenthood.org

SOURCES:

https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/roe-v-wade

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/3013/9611/5870/Abortion_Roe_History.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/02/18/jane-roe-made-abortion-legal-then-a-minister-made-her-repent/?utm_term=.86a0b7541a26

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/legacy-of-roe-v-wade-endures-after-death-of-woman-who-sued/2017/02/18/6ea7d444-f615-11e6-9fb1-2d8f3fc9c0ed_story.html?utm_term=.5c405c91e416

The Do’s and Don’ts of Consent

By: Jillian James

 

Do- Always remember that your ‘yes’ can turn into a ‘no’

At anytime, you can change your mind. Just because you consented previously does not mean that you must follow through if something starts to feel wrong. Also, just because you consented to a person once doesn’t mean that you must consent to them again.

 

Don’t- Blame yourself if you are the victim of a sexual assault.

If you are assaulted, never put the blame on yourself. What happened was not your fault. Seek immediate help by calling the National Rape Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE, which can direct you to a local Rape Crisis Center in your area. Rape Crisis Center services are usually free or at a low cost and they can provide counseling, therapy, support groups, case management, legal advocacy and/or medical advocacy.

Do- Keep an eye out for your friends at parties and social events.

Unfortunately we must practice caution when going out to parties and other social events. When alcohol is involved people are more likely to take risks or have unlikely behavior. If a friend is going home with someone, make sure that they are willing and able to give consent.

 

Don’t (EVER)- Slut-shame or say “They were asking for it.”

Lets make one thing clear: no one ever asks for sexual assault. Even if they are wearing a short skirt or a revealing top. What a person is wearing or how much skin they are revealing should never be an indication of whether or not they deserved to be assaulted.

 

Do- Communicate.

If something doesn’t feel right or you change your mind, it is your right to communicate that to your partner. Say “no” and use clear verbal language. Its your right to speak up if things are going further than you would like or you begin to feel uneasy.

 

Do- Have open discussions with your partner and friends about consent

It’s very important to spread the message of consent and communicate exactly what it means: an exact and clear “yes” response to sexual activity. Have discussions with your partner and friends about what consent means and why it’s so important in order to have healthy, happy relationships.

Sex Ed for Queers

By: Cassandra Hedrick

 

Recently, more and more kids and teens are coming out as gay, bisexual, or trans. However, LGBTQ+ sex is not included in most sex ed curriculums. In fact, only 12 states require sexual orientation to be taught and 3 of those only teach negative information, like homosexuality is a sin and a criminal lifestyle. This means the vast majority of LGBTQ+ youth are uninformed about how to practice safe sex.

It is common knowledge that you can’t get pregnant having sex with the same gender, so many gay and bi teens don’t think about protection.Image_11 In fact, gay and bi men between the ages of 13 and 29 make up 2/3s of new HIV infections. Gay and bi girls are also more likely to contract an STD or even become pregnant than straight girls. This is because they are not taught how to protect themselves during sex. Even I didn’t know exactly how protection would work until I was in college and discovered what a dental dam was.

Another consequence of not having LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed is the increase in bullying. Because the LGBTQ+ youth are excluded from most sex ed lessons, and in some criminalized, they are less accepted by their peers. Gay, bi, and trans teens are victims to more violence and bullying than straight kids.

In 2016, Canada introduced a bill that would require sex ed to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. This would start with third graders being taught about sexual orientation and gender identity and accepting differences. In the US, a bill has been introduced that would require not only medically accurate, but also LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed. This bill is called the Real education for healthy youth act, and you can sign the petition to have is passed at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/pass-the-real-education-for-healthy-youth-act.

LGBTQ+ inclusive sex ed would help keep gay, bi and trans teens from contracting STDs, as well as decrease bullying. You can help us make that happen by signing the petition. And, if you have any more questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex education you can visit plannedparenthood.org. You can also talk to your teachers about adding sexual identity and gender orientation to the curriculum.

 

Do we Really Need Sex Education?

By: Cassandra Hedrick

 

Do we Really Need Sex Education?

Yes.

Sex ed is probably the most awkward class a kid can take, but that doesn’t mean it is any less necessary. Statistics have shown that states with comprehensive sex education have lower rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. Image_9Even so, only 22 states require sex education and only 19 of them require it to be medically accurate. This means many states allow abstinence only sex education, meaning they only teach not to have kids not to have sex. Let’s compare the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate, Arkansas, to the state with the lowest teen pregnancy rate, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts only has 9.4 births for 1,000 teen girls in the state, while Arkansas has 38 births per 1,000 teen girls. I know neither of those numbers seem like a lot, so let’s put it in perspective. The average high school in Arkansas only has 999 students.

Neither of these states require sex ed in every school, and let the school districts decide for themselves if they want to teach it. However, in 2010, Arkansas got $619,862 in federal funds for abstinence only programs, while Massachusetts declined them. Arkansas has policies that require Image_10school districts that teach sex ed to stress that the only way to prevent pregnancy and STDs is to not have sex until marriage. They are also not required to teach about condoms or birth control and don’t allow federal funds to go to giving birth control or condoms to students.

Massachusetts does not require sex ed either, but in 2015 they passed a law that required school districts that do teach sex ed to have medically accurate and age appropriate lessons. This means they require the curriculum to cover STDs and contraceptives. These efforts help prevent teen pregnancy and lower STD rates throughout the state.

Here in Florida, sex education is required in all schools, but the topics covered can be decided by the school districts. The only requirement is that Abstinence must be taught as the only way to prevent 100% prevent pregnancy and STDs. Teaching about STDs or contraceptive is optional. Because of this Florida about 21 births for every 1,000 teen girls.

In general, states who stay away from abstinence only education and focus on teaching safe sex have less teen pregnancies and STD rates. Abstinence only education simply doesn’t work because, in my experience, the moment you tell a teen not to do something, they are going to do it, especially when their hormones get involved. Therefore, it is better to teach them to have safe sex rather than just say “don’t do it.” If you want to learn more about sex education, safe sex, and contraceptives you can visit plannedparenthood.org or call their main center to talk to someone.