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Articles about Family Planning

Welcome Pope Francis: The Catholic Church Needs a Change in Culture

March 13th, 2013 • Contributed by Below The Waist

From Catholics for Choice.

“We welcome Pope Francis,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, “and look forward to hearing about his priorities in the coming days. We do not expect very many changes, but sincerely hope that the culture will change to better reflect the needs of the church and of Catholics. As Cardinal Bergoglio, he was outspoken against the recent liberalization of Argentinian laws on abortion, stating flatly that ‘abortion is never a solution.’ He also opposes adoption by gay couples. But this is no surprise, as he and his fellow electors were all appointed by his two conservative predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.

“We recall with fondness Pope John XXIII, who confronted the troubles of his day by convening the Second Vatican Council ‘to open the windows of the church to let in some fresh air.’ Pope Francis needs to go even farther and throw open the Vatican’s doors to shed some light on a bureaucracy that has allowed the management of the Vatican Bank and the sexual abuse crisis to get completely out of hand. Facing this reality, and the other problems within the church, requires leadership, and leadership is something different than simply referring back to the established Vatican playbook. This is where we could use a pastoral pope, one who recognizes that the main role of the hierarchy is not to become enmeshed in politics but to focus on developing relationships within and outside the Catholic community.

“We call on Pope Francis to recognize that he is now the head of a very diverse church, one that includes Catholics who use contraception, who have or provide abortions, who seek fertility treatments, who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage or with people of the same sex, as well as people who are living with HIV & AIDS. These Catholics are absolute traditionalists in that they live according to their consciences and by virtue of their faith every day. A leader of our church who affirms rather than denies the lived wisdom of the faithful would be well within the Catholic tradition as well.”



Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.

Comments Off • Posted in: Abortion, Family Planning

Discuss family planning candidly with children

January 10th, 2013 • Contributed by Sue Kettner

[From Christopher Taylor, first appearing in the Jacksonville Progress]

Family planning has always been a controversial public health issue for a variety of reasons.

As a father of four, I can honestly admit that well, I didn’t plan very much. Like most East Texas parents, my folks tried their hands at sharing the important information, but what teenager wants to discuss that with their parents over chicken and mashed potatoes?

Looking back now in my thirties, I wish that more had been shared, so I decided that my kids needed to know the issues, the options and ‘no-no’s. The issues and the options were easy, it was the ‘no-no’s that tripped me up. But I knew I had to do it.

My oldest, soon to be a teenager himself, had already experienced all that middle school had to offer, and fortunately, he felt safe enough to come home and talk to me about it. That was when I realized that if I didn’t educate him, someone else was going to. I also realized that to tell him everything was a ‘no-no’ wasn’t going to go very far. Sure, he’s a great kid and I trust that he’ll follow most of my rules, but I also remember that despite my values, beliefs and ethics, things happen that we don’t necessarily plan on.

And that’s also when I realized that educating my kiddo had nothing to do with values, beliefs and ethics. It was my job, my right. And he deserved it too.

So we had the family planning talk. I asked him what kind of family he wanted, how many kids, when he would marry and so on – just to see what was in his head.

Then, we moved on to a more grown up conversation about the birds and the bees as dad used to call it. We talked about pregnancy, abstinence, sexually-transmitted diseases, emotions, feelings and the whole nine yards as they say. I was so relieved once we did.

You see, parental involvement makes all the difference in the world to a kid’s life. I realize now that if I had told my son all the no-no’s and left it there, someone might tell him otherwise, and he might get curious and when he found out that I hadn’t shared all the information with him quite so accurately … he wouldn’t trust me anymore. Now of course, what a child hears needs to be consistent with what he/she is mature enough to understand. But by the young teenage years, they probably ought to hear about abstinence, and the methods of protection that exist if abstinence doesn’t work out. And there are a variety of reasons it doesn’t, not because it isn’t the best preventative method, but because of peer pressure, hormones, people kids have learned to trust other than us, and for terrible reasons like being taken advantage of without your permission.

I resolved that I wanted my child to be prepared, educated and ready to make a good decision. But I also know he’s a brand new teenager, and things happen that don’t make me a bad parent, or him a bad kid.

So from one parent to another, I encourage parents everywhere to have the family planning discussion with their children, and by doing so, we remove the stigma and move forward in the fight to eliminate unnecessary disease, unwanted pregnancy, not to mention, save a whole lot of money that could be spent elsewhere. If you need an icebreaker, try this. It’s a great start and then you can decide what’s appropriate and when. You can also contact your Cherokee County Public Health Depart-ment and we’ll provide a few additional resources.

Good luck.

Christopher Taylor is the executive director of the Cherokee County Public Health Department and the father of four.

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Area Clinics Offer HPV Vaccine to Boys

November 6th, 2011 • Contributed by Dino Corvino

New research shows boys can also benefit from getting the HPV vaccine.

A government medical advisory panel said Tuesday that boys should receive the vaccination protecting them from the human papillomavirus virus.

The controversial vaccine was originally only given to girls to help prevent cervical cancer and genital warts.

Now, area health experts are offering the HPV vaccine to boys and men.

“We do have services for the Guardisil vaccination for 18 and over,” Kathy Buyeske with Family Planning Health Services said. “If they’re younger than 18, they can go to the local health department for the Guardisil vaccination.”

Research has shown more than 80 percent of anal cancer in men is related to HPV.

“The HPV vaccine is really being promoted for males ages 9-26 to help reduce their risk of contracting genital warts,” Buyeske said. “It also can protect them from penil cancer, or anal cancer also.”

The vaccine costs around $140 for each shot, but doctors say most insurance companies will cover it.

Comments Off • Posted in: Cervical Cancer, Family Planning

This Looks Promising…

August 2nd, 2011 • Contributed by Frances Irwin

Recently a judge placed an injunction on the Kansas law that prevents the state from including Planned Parenthood in their Medicaid provider network.  So at least women won’t lose their health care while the courts review the case.  More information is available here from CNN.

Comments Off • Posted in: Birth Control, Cervical Cancer, Family Planning, Policy, STIs

Family Planning: It’s Time to Welcome Men Into the Discussion

July 13th, 2011 • Contributed by Sue Kettner

In the article below from the Huffington Post, Ashley Judd reports on worldwide efforts to educate men and women about family planning. In developing nations, women and men are desperate for education and information about family planning. They utilize cell phones to access information and referrals for family planning services.

We are all in this together; the American public may have more access to services than men and women in developing nations, yet we all need the education and services so families and women all have a chance at a healthier life.

Yesterday, on World Population Day, the United Nations Population Fund officially launched 7 Billion Actions — a campaign to raise awareness and action around our planet’s growing population, which is set to reach 7 billion later this year.

The campaign is a wake-up call to the health, environmental, and social challenges associated with rapid population growth. It is also a wake-up call to the importance of voluntary family planning.

In 2011, more than 200 million women worldwide are still denied access to desired family planning services due to unavailable resources or lack of support from their husbands and communities. As a woman, I believe it is time to make universal access to family planning a global priority. And as a woman, I believe it is essential to welcome men into the conversation.

Why Family Planning?

According to World Health Organization statistics, approximately 1,000 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Over 99 percent of these maternal deaths occur in the developing world, in countries where a mother’s death can leave children — and entire families — in a perilous scenario.

Many, if not the majority, of these women want smaller families but often do not know how to prevent pregnancies. During my travel as Global Ambassador for the public health organization PSI (Population Services International), I have personally met some of these women.

I remember Therese, a woman in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was so desperate after having given birth to six children that she ingested poisonous herbs to terminate three different pregnancies — leaving her in agonizing, life threatening pain. Her husband, Victor, watched each time in helpless fear. Like his wife, he had never been given information on family planning methods that could protect his wife and his family.

Their story is all too common and is a reminder that family planning communication must incorporate men into the equation.

Men and Family Planning

Research shows that men have a significant influence over women’s reproductive health decisions in the developing world, especially in Africa. Men who receive education on sexual and reproductive health are far more likely to support their partner’s decision on family planning.

Despite these facts, many family planning programs continue to follow the traditional woman-focused model, excluding men from research, service provision, and information campaigns.

A program in the Democratic Republic of Congo is addressing this problem, tailoring communication to reach men. Moreover, it uses an innovative and remarkably simple avenue to do so: the cell phone.

Reaching Men in the DRC

In 2011, 70 percent of worldwide cellular phone users live in developing countries. The World Bank has identified mobile phones as one of the most powerful ways to deliver health services and information to people living in remote areas, particularly in largely rural countries like the DRC.

PSI and its local partner, Association de Sante Familiale, saw a unique opportunity within these statistics and, in 2005, launched a family planning hotline in the DRC called Linge Verte.

Open 5 days per week, 8.5 hours per day, Ligne Verte provides free, accurate information on family planning and refers clients to family planning clinics across a wide geographic range.

Most importantly, Ligne Verte provides a safe, confidential zone for Congolese men and women to ask sensitive questions about family planning, as well as other sexual health concerns such as HIV.

To date, 84 percent of Ligne Verte callers have been men. Parallel PSI hotlines in other countries reflect similar statistics. In Benin and Pakistan, men make up 77 percent and 78 percent of callers, respectively, to national PSI family planning hotlines.

These numbers speak for themselves.

Family planning is not a gender specific issue. Men, as much as women, are interested in learning about ways to protect the physical and economic health of their families. They are asking questions and seeking answers.

It is our responsibility to listen and respond to them.

For more information on family planning:

2011 International Conference on Family Planning, Dakar, Senegal, November 29- December 2

7 Billion Actions Campaign


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Why we must STAND UP for Family Planning

March 1st, 2011 • Contributed by Sue Kettner

Amanda Marcotte summarizes just why we all need to stand up for family planning services. All US women have the right to control their fertility.

For some who can’t afford contraception and reproductive exams, the state and federally funded programs provide coverage for these services. These programs save a phenomenal amount of taxpayer dollars by preventing unintended pregnancies. They reduce the numbers of abortions because there are less unintended pregnancies. They reduce poverty for women, children and families.

The “straight white-guys” who oppose these programs want to deny the cost-savings and health enhancing outcomes of these programs. Don’t let them do it. Call them on it each time you hear or see them attacking family planning services.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on RH Reality Check.

By Amanda Marcotte

When it comes to the world of feminist writer/activists, I definitely fall on the “writer” side of the line. Most of my life is researching, conducting interviews, pitching pieces, and, of course, staring at my computer, trying to think of a verb that’s dynamic but not pretentious. I love giving speeches, but they’re usually of the 20-60 minute long variety meant to educate, analyze and entertain (and there’s always a Q&A), and I’m always on a roster with journalists and academics. So how was it that Saturday afternoon, I found myself standing outside with feet growing numb in the cold amongst actors, musicians, organizers and oodles of politicians, trying to think of what I could say in 120 seconds that would be meaningful to the crowd of thousands of people waving signs and periodically erupting into chants?

Well, mostly I was there because Planned Parenthood of New York City graciously asked me to speak at a rally in support of Title X funding, which has been zeroed out by the House of Representatives in the continuing resolution to fund the government, a move that can be stopped by the Senate and President. I said yes because while drum-beating and sign-waving is really outside of my comfort zone, I consider this issue too important not to grab opportunities to speak out. For years I’ve been writing about something that most of the media tragically ignores, which is the growing radicalism of movement conservatism regarding women’s sexual health. Anti-choice is also about resisting birth control and any other health care that relates to sexual activity, on the grounds that women who have sex should face “consequences”, i.e. be punished. (As a good example, I saw my friend Katie Halper fighting some guy on Twitter over whether or not Planned Parenthood offers breast exams, something anti-choicers are trying to deny because, as Katie put it, “I guess even the most heinous distortion of punitive conservatism can’t make breast cancer a woman’s fault.” Notice that they’re not trying to deny that Planned Parenthood does a million cervical cancer screenings a year, but I guess they don’t care about those lives, since cervical cancer is usually caused by HPV, and they can convince themselves those women brought their deaths on themselves.) Even though we’ve seen evidence of the anti-choice movement pushing for abstinence-only education and fighting the HPV vaccine and emergency contraception, in most of the media, the discussion is still incorrectly framed as fetus-centric.

And now the anti-choice has scored a major victory in the war on women’s health, amongst many other programs that help people that conservatives disapprove of, such as people who want to have more energy-efficient homes and women who have to work for a living and therefore can’t play unpaid preschool teacher to their kids. So I had to speak out. Conservative activists are dropping the word “abortion” a lot, because it performs well as a conversation-stopper that allows them to continue working against women without suffering too much investigation into their real aims, but this time, people aren’t fooled. Pap smears and condoms aren’t abortion. The anti-choice resistance to them makes it clear that the concern for fetuses is actually a concern that women are having sex without facing sadistic punishments that, in the past (and sadly still today) left them traumatized, mutilated, and often dead.

That era isn’t far enough in the past that women today really can take for granted all that we have, but I thought the best way to speak out against the encroachments on women’s rights was to talk about all the ways our lives have been quietly saved by doctors, nurses, and educators who give us the tools to be, as women always have been before us, sexually active without giving up our health and dreams. For most of us, having to live without birth control would have meant drastically different, sadder lives. How better than to highlight the radical nature of this move against Title X than to instigate a speak-out about how the biggest target — Planned Parenthood — helped us, usually in ways that the vast majority of the country finds completely non-controversial?

For this purpose, I started the Twitter hashtag #thanksPPFA, where people could talk about how Planned Parenthood had improved their lives. And for this purpose, when I stood up at the rally Saturday, what I did was tell a (very short) story: I had gone to a Catholic university, and the health center didn’t offer birth control. (Boooooo!, said the crowd, surprising me and then making me laugh.) So I went to Planned Parenthood, where I could afford it, and that clinic basically was my doctor for the next five years. And I spoke briefly about the stories that came out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time: women who finished school, married the right guy, had kids when they were ready, all because of Planned Parenthood. Women who are still with us, because their cervical cancer was caught by Planned Parenthood’s routine screening. Lives are saved every day, and it’s usually not remarked on, because most of us expect it will always be there.

But if the conservative movement gets its way, it won’t be there.

While Planned Parenthood is the touchstone for this outrage, people are standing up for more than just this one large organization. We’re standing up because we believe that women, gay people, poor people, people of color, young people, and people who fall outside the gender binary are just as much people as the rich straight white guys that dominate the ranks of those trying to shut down access to sexual health care. And as people, we have the same rights as those rich straight white guys to our health, to our hopes and dreams, to our relationships, and yes, to our sexual pleasures as they do. Planned Parenthood offers substantial services that save lives every day, but they’re also a symbol in this war over who gets to decide if The Rest Of Us are people, too. In the 21st century, are we going to expand the rights of man to all of us, or are we going to slide backwards to a time when only the few got access to what we all deserve?

Comments Off • Posted in: Action, Birth Control, Family Planning, Policy

The Good & The Bad

October 22nd, 2010 • Contributed by Frances Irwin

This week, two stories have come to my attention.  One gives me hope, and the other reminds me that there is a lot more work to do to ensure reproductive justice for everyone.  Let’s start with hope.  According to the River Front Times, Washington University in Missouri is starting a program to help young women prevent unintended pregnancies and to protect their sexual health and well being.  Read the full story here.  Now for the “roll up your sleeves” story.  Upside Down World reports that the Center for Reproductive Rights and Vivo Positivo are working with HIV-positive women in Chile to bring an end to forced and coerced sterilization.  The recently released a report, Dignity Denied, outlines the work to be done in Chile.

Comments Off • Posted in: Family Planning, Policy, Sex Ed

Meg Brown, Grand Forks, letter: Sex ed and birth control, not prayer and fasting

October 5th, 2010 • Contributed by Frances Irwin

This letter to the editor by Meg Brown nicely captures a realistic approach to reducing abortions in response to the 40 Days for Life demonstrations taking place across the nation.  NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice have also responded with a Forty 4 Forty campaign.  I hope you appreciate these efforts as much as I do.  Frances

GRAND FORKS — Like Rod Lammer, I too have noticed the 40 Days for Life campaign’s signs urging North Dakotans to “pray and fast to end abortion” (“Advice for the faithful: Trust but verify,” letter, Page A4, Sept. 30).

I found myself asking how prayer and fasting compares to proven means of reducing abortions.

Unlike comprehensive sex education and access to birth control, neither prayer nor fasting has been shown to prevent abortion. Instead of depriving one’s self of nourishment or mentally soliciting supernatural intervention, individuals opposed to abortion should make contraceptives available and ensure that consumers know how to use them correctly.

Continue reading this article »

Comments Off • Posted in: Abortion, Birth Control, Family Planning, Policy

Election could affect state birth control services

October 4th, 2010 • Contributed by Dino Corvino

[We want to thank David Wahlberg for this piece.  Clearly this is an important topic.]

By DAVID WAHLBERG | | 608-252-6125 | Posted: Monday, October 4, 2010 5:10 am

Family planning advocates hope Wisconsin’s bid to make permanent its expanded birth control services under Medicaid is approved before the Nov. 2 election so the program will be harder to cut if Republican Scott Walker becomes governor.

Whether Walker or Democrat Tom Barrett wins the governor’s race, opponents say they will fight the program, especially its inclusion of teens as young as 15. Federal officials are reviewing Wisconsin’s application, submitted in June before any other state.

The proposal, allowed under the new health care reform law, would let the state provide free birth control pills, vasectomies and other contraceptives to more low-income people than some states without having to periodically reapply as the state must do now.

The state also wants to start giving the services to men and women 15 and older who make as much as $32,940 a year, up from the current annual income limit of $21,660.

Wisconsin’s proposed start date for the permanent program is Nov. 1. “It has nothing to do with the election,” said Marlia Moore, a benefits policy administrator for the state Department of Health Services. “It’s just a coincidence.”

But advocates say they hope the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approve the bid by then to codify the program before the election.

“There is definitely an advantage to getting as much done as we can while we still have (Democratic) Gov. (Jim) Doyle in office,” said Nicole Safar, legal and policy analyst for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.

Getting approval by Nov. 1, or at least before January when Republicans could take control of the governor’s office, would “hopefully ensure that the program will continue,” said Lon Newman, executive director of Wausau-based Family Planning Health Services.

Wisconsin is one of 27 states that provide family planning services — which also include Pap smears and testing for sexually transmitted diseases — to more people than required by Medicaid, the state-federal health plan for the poor. The state’s expanded program started in 2003, and men were added this year.

Wisconsin spent $18.4 million to provide the services to 65,000 people in 2008, saving $139.1 million in costs from unintended pregnancies, according to the state health department.

“It’s good for the public health, and it’s good for the public purse,” said Clare Coleman, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. She praised Wisconsin’s leadership in being the first state to pursue a permanent program.

But Julaine Appling, president of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action, said spending more money on birth control when the state faces a budget deficit makes no sense. “That’s an unwise and irresponsible use of taxpayer money,” she said.

Matt Sande, director of legislation for Pro-Life Wisconsin, questioned the state’s claim that birth control saves money. Like Appling, he vowed to fight the program and at least get the qualifying age moved from 15 to 18.

“Government-funded birth control, liberally distributed to young women and girls, increases and encourages sexual promiscuity,” Sande said. “What comes at the end of that? Abortion.”

Pro-Life Wisconsin and Wisconsin Right to Life have endorsed Walker. In a debate in August, Walker said BadgerCare Plus, Wisconsin’s main Medicaid program, has become too large and should be cut.

“Scott supports returning BadgerCare to its original purpose,” said his spokeswoman, Jill Bader.

Barrett supports the state’s application to make the expanded family planning services permanent, said his spokesman, Phil Walzak.

Shinie Tho, a 19-year-old student at UW-Madison, said she has been getting the NuvaRing birth control for free through the program at Planned Parenthood in Madison.

“Most college students are broke,” she said. “This helps a lot.”

Comments Off • Posted in: Birth Control, Family Planning, Policy

City of Baltimore and Center for Reproductive Rights Ask for CPC Case Dismissal

June 10th, 2010 • Contributed by Dino Corvino

This piece appeared on RH Reality Check, and since we have explored CPC’s, we thought it was a great piece to pass along.  Thank you Robin for such good work.

The city of Baltimore, together with the Center for Reproductive Rights, is asking that the court dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Archbishop of Baltimore and the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc., claiming that the city ordinance asking crisis pregnancy centers to have truthful signs outside their centers constitutes a denial of their freedom of speech.

From a Center for Reproductive Rights press release:

Today, the City asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the Archbishop’s claims against the ordinance are not supported by the facts or the law.  The ordinance protects women from deceptive advertising and ensures that women seeking birth control or abortion services have prompt access to those services.

“These facilities have a long documented history of misleading and manipulating women seeking abortion or contraceptive services.  It’s about time that they were required to tell women the truth,” said Stephanie Toti, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Anti-choice advocates are upset with the ordinance stating that they must post signs declaring that they are not medical centers, and that they neither dispense nor provide referrals for abortions or birth control services.  According to the Archbishop, the ordinance is a form of religious harassment.

Comments Off • Posted in: Family Planning