Tag Archives: unplanned pregnancy

The World’s Abortion Laws in 2015

“Since 1998, the Center for Reproductive Rights has produced the World’s Abortion Laws map to visually compare the legal status of abortion across the globe. The interactive map is updated in real time to keep pace with changes in how countries are protecting – or denying – women’s reproductive freedom.”


The map is amazing – in an easy-to-understand, color coded format, the map breaks down laws into categories (ex. “without restriction as to reason,” like in the US and Australia) and also into subcategories (ex. “abortion permitted in case of rape,” like in Brazil and Indonesia). We encourage you to follow this link and interact with the map.

According to the World Health Organization, around 22 million unsafe abortions take place world wide each year and about 47,000 women died from unsafe abortions in 2008. Unsafe abortion often leads to hospitalizations and/or complications, and the annual cost of treating these complications is estimated to be $680 million ANNUALLY.

Whether abortion is legal or not, women will access safe and unsafe abortions. Making abortions illegal or inaccessible will not stop women from attempting dangerous procedures to terminate their pregnancies. The better way to decrease abortion rates are to increase access to birth control and sex education, says Cecile Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood.

The divide between the pro-choice and anti-choice arguments are deep, stark, and emotionally and politically charged, but at the end of the day, the thing to remember is that safe and legal abortion is a woman’s human right. On that note, we’ll leave you with this video from the Guttmacher Institute.


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Condom Use Among Young African American Men

Today’s guest post was written a sex educator who specializes in peer-to-peer pregnancy prevention programs. He understands the cultural nuances that influence the decisions young people make and works to help youth realize their potential. 

Condom use can be a taboo topic, especially within certain cultures and ethnic communities, including the African American community. When you dissect the African American community into subsets (by age, for example) you see trends in attitudes about condom use. According to the Black Aids Institute, young African American men report a 20.5 percent condom usage rate. It’s alarming to consider that 4 out of 5 young black men are not using condoms during sexual intercourse. Lack of condom use among African-American men can be seen as a direct correlation to higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, HIV, and other STI’s within the African American community.


Research done by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation conducted a qualitative study on condom use behaviors among urban African-American men ages 18-24. That research revealed various reasons for non-condom use:

  • Lack of interest in condom use
  • Lack of immediate access to condoms
  • Inconvenience
  • The mood-killing length of time it takes to put on a condom
  • Partner’s disinterest in condom use

The most commonly expressed rationale for not using condoms among the research participants was their general disinterest in using condoms. It is evident that there may be some cultural perceptions among young African-American men that promote the non-use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Education is a critical component to refute many of the misconceptions that this population has in regards to condom use and it may be highly beneficial for Sexual Health Educators to consider the use of peer-to-peer education.

Some of the perceptions of condom use among young African-American men are driven by peer influence. A literature review of peer-to-peer programs done by Advocates for Youth revealed the following results:

  • Improved reproductive and sexual health outcomes, including reduced incidence of pregnancy, births and STIs
  • Reduced sexual risk behaviors, including delayed initiation of sex, increased contraceptive use and condom use, reduced number of new sexual partners as well as increased abstinence among sexually experienced youth, reduced incidence of unprotected sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased partner communication
  • Increased incidence of testing and sharing test results, including testing for HIV, for STIs, and sharing positive test results with a partner

Lack of condom use among African-American men has far-reaching public health consequences and effective strategies must be implemented to mitigate the cultural behavioral norms that promote non condom use. Peer education appears to be a promising model to educate young African-American men about the benefits of consistent and appropriate condom use.

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Who Cares for the Caregivers?

Most of the time when we talk about self-care, we’re focusing on how you can support yourself when you’re going through a rough time. That’s obviously important, but what about when you’re spending a lot of time supporting someone else?

This came up recently when I was talking with some colleagues about the issues around abortion stigma. When we were talking about resources, I mentioned that I’ve taken a number of counseling calls from medical practitioners during my time as a a counselor with Exhale. I know that’s not what most people think of when they think of a support talkline, but I wasn’t expecting the level of surprise and interest that folks had! While we’ve given out those resources for years, the idea of using them for ourselves had never come up.

But in fact, a lot of the people who use these kinds of hotlines are people who are supporting someone else. Exhale’s very first call was from a father who wanted to support his daughter after her abortion, and counselors on all kinds of talklines and support sites have worked to help people be able to support others more effectively. Especially when it comes to issues that involve a lot of stigma, like abortion or sexual assault, having a place to get support anonymously can be particularly important. You often can’t share details with your normal support systems, like your family or mutual friends, but you will often have your own feelings that you want to work through.

Supporting other people can be rough – making sure you’ve got ways to tend to your own needs is crucial, both to make sure that you don’t burn out, and to help you be there in the best ways you can for the people you love. So, if you’re looking for some advice on how to support a friend who’s going through a tough time or want to discuss how it’s affecting you, here are some resources that may be able to help you both:

Exhale – post-abortion talkline
Backline – talkline addressing abortion and making decisions about unplanned pregnancies
Trevor Project – crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth – hotline and online support and community
RAINN – sexual assault hotline and online support
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Suicide Prevention Hotline and online support

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Switching Contraceptives Raises the Risk of Pregnancy

According to a recent article in the New York times, the US has one of the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy in the developed world. Several reasons were cited, but one of the primary reasons was dissatisfaction with a chosen method and the decision to switch to a different method. According to a study done at the Battelle Centers for Public Health Research and Evaluation, 40% of married women and 61% of unmarried women switched methods during the past 2 years. An even more surprising statistic is that 1 out of every 10 women stopped taking contraceptives completely but didn’t stop having sex!

Without sounding overly judgmental, I just don’t understand. Except when I was intentionally trying to conceive, I was very careful to always use contraception of one sort or another. When I talk to people about contraceptive choices I ask them to think about how much they don’t want to get pregnant at this time in their lives. If you really don’t want a pregnancy, you just can’t take chances or you don’t have sex in a way where a pregnancy can happen.

I do understand the confusion over how to switch methods. These two charts should make the whole process much easier to understand.

Life gets complicated and messy sometimes, but having an unplanned pregnancy doesn’t make life easier or less stressful. Every child deserves to arrive when you can give it all the time, love, patience, and advantages possible.

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