Tag Archives: Planned Parenthood

Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8!

By Liz Peters, Editorial Intern

Girls celebrate all sorts of holidays: Thanksgiving, Independence Day, their birthdays and those of their friends, maybe even Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza. But how often do you celebrate being female? International Women’s Day gives you the chance to scream, shout, and make merry over your womanhood!

Designed to connect girls and inspire futures, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1909, driven by women taking a stand against their discrimination the year before. In inspiring futures, let’s take a look to see where we have been in the past. In 1908, 15,000 women stormed the streets of New York City, demanding shorter hours and better pay for their work, as well as the right to vote. One hundred years ago, women were not allowed to vote. They were not allowed to serve in the military; they were banned from many sports and jobs; they were not allowed to have abortions. I don’t even think they had the freedom to wear pants!

Today, all of that and more is possible.

We’ve come pretty far, ladies, but there is still more to conquer. And progress hasn’t come without a fight.  Recently, for example, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer charity, pulled their funding from Planned Parenthood, a sexual health and reproduction organization, because of various concerns. In 2008 alone, Planned Parenthood provided nearly 3 million people with health services, some, but not all, related to reproduction. Not only does Planned Parenthood provide medical services, it provides knowledge. As the nation’s largest sex educator, the organization brings issues and methods of contraception, family planning and sexual diseases to light, preparing women, younger and older, for anything that may come their way. Many women don’t have access to affordable sexual and health care, except through Planned Parenthood. In offering breast cancer screenings, Planned Parenthood examines the full health of a woman, possibly catching early signs of cancer and saving lives, at a minimum, encouraging women to get checked regularly.

It’s no wonder that the backlash to pulling funding was so strong. After facing heavy criticism, displayed on several social media sites, the Susan G. Komen Foundation listened to the concerns of the public and reversed its initial decision a mere three days after pulling its funds. They also offered an apology. But the fact that this incident happened at all is scary, and symbolic of how disturbingly women are positioned in this society. Can you imagine funding for men’s prostate cancer screening being pulled without warning?? It’s something to think about.

So despite many successes, the reality today is that women are still outnumbered in politics and the workplace, still receiving unequal pay to their male counterparts [check out our blog post on the Paycheck Fairness Act], still facing a glass ceiling in many fields. It’s clear that we still live in a patriarchy, where men hold the majority of the power. It’s time to even things out.

Under-represented and often misrepresented, women in today’s society need to jump the hurdles that the women of the past could not. It’s a lot of responsibility, but we can handle it. We’re up for the fight. Remember where we were 100 years ago? With your help, just imagine where we’ll be 100 years from now!

How You Can Join the Fight for Women

  •  Set goals and see them through
  • Get involved with your school’s student government
  • Find yourself an afterschool job
  • Play a sport traditionally viewed as for “the guys”
  • Volunteer at an organization focused on empowering girls and/or women
  • Investigate, question, and stay informed on issues surrounding women today

Lastly, on March 8, get together with your girls and celebrate being you—an empowered, intelligent, beautiful girl!  Happy International Women’s Day!

Logo courtesy of International Women’s Day

Health Reform Law Could Spell Covered Contraception for Women

By Jessica Moore

A contraception revolution could be underway following the passage of health care reform, which contains a key provision allowing for women’s preventive care. Covered items could include birth control pills, vaginal rings, intrauterine devices, and patches; the law could also allow for free maternity care and pelvic exams.

But don’t put away your checkbook just yet. For contraception to be fully covered, it must fall under the definition of “preventive care” — and the looming debate over what counts as preventive will likely hinge on morals.

Conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the National Abstinence Education Association, are already coalescing around their opposition to the provision. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), who came close to derailing passage of health reform over concerns that abortion could be included as a covered option, has written to the Department of Health and Human Services detailing their objection.

USCCB spokesman Richard Doerflinger told Minnesota Public Radio that the government should not mandate co-pay-free contraception for all insurance plans, since some members of those plans may object to birth control on moral grounds.

“It’ll be free of co-pay for those that want that coverage, which means it’ll be subsidized by those who don’t want the coverage,” Doerflinger said.

Covered birth control, however, could make economic sense for a population squeezed by recession. Women often spend $50 a month for birth control, while more reliable intrauterine devices (favored in countries that enjoy lower rates of abortion) cost $200 to $400.

Individual budgeting aside, the move could result in major savings for the U.S. economy, according to 2009 numbers from the Guttmacher Institute. The reproductive research group found that publicly-funded contraception saves taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent, preventing nearly 2 million pregnancies and 810,000 abortions every year. This could be a wise move for a country whose abortion rates are among the highest in the developed world.

The Department of Health and Human Services has asked the independent Institute of Medicine to parse through the health care legislation and recommend which elements of women’s care should be covered. The debate begins this month, with a final recommendation due August 1, 2011. HHS, with pro-choice Kathleen Sebelius as head, is expected to respond in favor of the provision, provided they can withstand pressure from conservative groups.

To gain support, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has launched a campaign, Birth Control Matters, which includes the commissioning of a poll to gauge popular support of covered birth control. Poll results show that 81% of women and 60% of men agree that contraception should be considered preventive.

We’ll be keeping our eyes on the debate, so stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, take our poll and let us know what YOU think!