Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reminder: Check out our new blog!

Just a reminder: If you're not reading our new blog, you should be! A few things you may have missed:

Friday, June 19, 2009

We're Moving!

Hey Kids!

We've finally decided that we've been using a .blogspot address for too long. Over the next few weeks we'll be rolling out our new blog, with its very own URL: But for now we wanted to give you all a sneak peak at the new design. Check it out!

Pretty right? Stay tuned!

What the Internet Thinks: Condoms Good, Birth Control Bad, and Abortion is a Tricky Issue

A friend of mine sent me a link to the web site What Does The Internet Think? which, according to the description, uses search engine results to get a general sense if the Internet is positive, negative or neutral on any given topic.

So of course what's the first thing I do? Search for reproductive-health related topics, duh.

So what does the Internet think?

Well, for some reason it hates birth control.

But it looooooves condoms.

The birth control pill stikes out too, for some reason (although as soon as you don't put it in quotes the popularity shoots up. A commentary on the Internet's favor for birth and pills, perhaps?)

But! Ladies, there's hope. The Internet loves IUDs!

And finally, of course, abortion. I dreaded the search, but surprisingly?

Just like the rest of America, when it comes to abortion, the Internet isn't quite sure.

Obviously, this is just for fun, and no real measure of public opinion etc. I'd be fascinated to know just how they get their results. What do you think? Acurate? Could anything be throwing the results off?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Should Sex Ed Always Be Sex-Positive?

A friend sent me this link to a new Sex Ed web site called Sex.Really., sponsored by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Unlike some other sex ed web sites, it's geared towards women in their 20's, and is designed to
"provide food for thought, and for discussion. Sort of like a sex site for the brain..."

I love the idea of the site in theory – yes, people of all ages need sex education, especially those in their 20s and 30s (and even 40s, 50s and 60s) who are making up the 'rules' as they go. But most of the content seems to revolve around the work of author Laura Sessions Stepp. And as a post over at Jezebel so aptly describes, that means:

In the system of sexuality that Sessions Stepp seems to favor — the slow, steady, codified "running of the bases" within a relationship — women are always the sexual gatekeepers. This stance neatly sidesteps any notion of men's responsibility for, well, anything. In Sessions Stepp's view, women trade sex begrudgingly in return for access to the socially-protected role of "girlfriend" and the supposed privileges that come with it.

Putting aside Sessions Step's assumption that all sex is between men and women, or how ridiculous it is to task young women with protecting their chastity, exactly why can this approach be so harmful?

For that I turned to my friend Jessica* who has just started dating casually after getting out of a four-year relationship. When I showed her the site, she told me this:

It was weird for me at first to have sex with someone I wasn't in a relationship with, and I kind of freaked out and thought I was doing something wrong. But then I realized that "I feel like I'm doing something wrong" thing wasn't coming from me, it was coming from my fear of being judged by other folks.

For me I couldn't make sex contingent upon a relationship because I wasn't ready to get into a new relationship. But I did want to have sex.

It's weird, it probably would have been more unhealthy for me to force a relationship in order to have sex. But I think [Laure Sessions Step] would think that having a relationship was more healthy.

And she's not my only friend who's had this reaction, especially after getting out of a relationship.

I agree that it's good for sex ed to be holistic, and to talk about the emotional consequences of the decisions we make -- Planned Parenthood of New York City uses a model of sex ed that talks about body image, relationships and everything else in between. And I also agree that navigating just what kind of sexual relationship (no strings attached, long term relationship) you're comfortable entering into can be really tricky.

But sites like Sex.Really., with their warnings about the negative consequences of hook ups, don't do much to help the matter. And perpetuating the assumption that women always want an emotional commitment and men never do can't be good for either gender.

But maybe I'm erring on the side of being too anything-goes sex-positive. What do you think? Is there value in what Laura Sessions Step has been producing for the site?

* Yes, names have been changed to protect the newly-singe

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekly News!

Here's what you might have, but shouldn't have, missed in the news last week:

  • Joan Malin, CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, is quoted in the New York Times on the Clinic Access Bill.

  • The Rachel Maddow Show, on MSNBC, highlights Planned Parenthood’s preventive health care to 3 million women.

  • Julie Rovner, NPR, has an excellent segment piece on All Things Considered about why NPR no longer uses the phrase “late-term abortion” and instead refers to these procedures as "late abortion" or "abortion later in pregnancy."

  • Rozalyn Farmer Love, a medical student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, has a powerful OpEd in the Washington Post

  • Cecile Richards, president of PPFA, is interviewed on AP Radio about speaking at Dr. Tiller’s memorial in Washington DC, hosted by RCRC. The American Prospect also reports on the memorial.

What did you read?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Do you listen to your friends when it comes to birth control?

Check out this hilarious new video from Sarah Haskins, all about Lady Friends!

Sarah's stuff is hilarious, and this one is sure no exception. But it got me thinking -- as much as the advertising industry may try and unrealistically use the concept of a woman and her friends sharing information (hello granny panties!), that idea doesn't come from nowhere. I often turn to some of my best friends for information on doctors, relationships and, of course, birth control.

But am I alone in this? What about all of you? Who would you turn to first, your friends, a web site, or a doctor for advice on birth control and protection?

PS - read more about the Top Ten Contraception Myths and how to find the best birth control for you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What you might have missed in the news last week:

There's been a ton of media coverage, both local and national, on all things repro rights. Here's what happened last wee:

  • The New York Times has a piece on the Clinic Access Bill with a great quote from PPNYC's President Joan Malin.

  • El Diaro has a great editorial on the Dr. Tiller murder.

  • Chelsea News Now covered the vigil for Dr. George Tiller.

Additionally, there have been many, many moving articles, commentary, blogs regarding the tragic murder of Dr. Tiller. Here are a few from across the country worth reading.

What else did you read?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jonas Brothers' Mom on Safe [non]Sex

Not that I'm a huge fan, but I couldn't help but pay attention when I saw that according to People Magazine the Jonas Brothers' mom is speaking out about the boys' sexuality:

"They are men. They have desires. They have testosterone," she says. "If they make a mistake, I'm not going to hate them."
As for the purity rings Kevin, 21, Joe, 19, and Nick, 16, all wear, [the Jonas Brothers' mom] Denise says it was a private decision that's gotten some unwanted attention.

"They've been criticized for proclaiming things they never proclaimed," she says. "And what's the criticism? They don't want to go out there giving everyone an STD? What's so terrible about that?"

On the one hand, this kind of open, non-judgmental attitude coming from a parent is one of the best things a kid (both boys and girls!) can have when navigating the sometimes rocky waters of sex and sexuality. On the other hand, I kind of wish she'd focus less on testosterone and more on ways of preventing STDs other than just the brothers' purity rings.

Which brings us to the real question: given that Joe Jonas wears a purity ring, should we be reading more into the fact he's just dressed up and danced to Beyonce's song "Single Ladies" (chorus: 'if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it')?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Personal Stories

In the wake of Dr. Tiller's assassination, I've been hearing a lot of questions about what it means to get an abortion in the late second or third trimester of your pregnancy, and why women would seek them.

To anyone who hasn't had to think about this issue before, or who's only heard about it from anti-choice groups' rhetoric, the question makes sense. Jodi Jacobson has a great piece up at RH Reality Check about the specifics of the procedure -- namely that they constitute about 0.2% of all abortion procedures conducted in the U.S., that they're severely restricted by law under Roe v. Wade and are performed when the continuation of the pregnancy poses serious risks to the woman's life or health and could cause irreparable harm to the woman.

The heartbreaking part is that often times the women who elect to have this procedure done do so under dire circumstances, with pregnancies that were wanted yet for the woman's own safety simply cannot continue. And to that effect, I thought it would be worth sharing some of their stories.

  • Gretchen Voss has a powerful first person story in the Boston Globe which won a Maggie. Her piece also appeared in Marie Claire.

  • The site A Hearbreaking Choice has a collection of personal stories posted by women who traveled to Kansas to see Dr. Tiller.

  • Self Magazine has a great piece on the tragic pregnancies at the center of late-term abortion debate.

  • MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has an amazing piece on 'Who is Dr. Tiller'

  • And these two powerful editorials are also worth a read:

  • USA Today editorial: Our view on death in Wichita: Activists mount militant assault on abortion rights

  • Washington Post editorial: Clinics in the Cross Hairs

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vigil Tonight

Please join PPNYC along with NARAL NY, The NYCLU, NYAAF, and PRCH this evening for a special:


Monday, June 1st, 6 pm

Union Square, New York City

Accessible by the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R trains

Many of you have read in the news about the tragic murder of Dr. George Tiller yesterday in Kansas. I am writing to share my deep, personal sadness that is shared not only in Kansas, but throughout the entire Planned Parenthood family.

Dr. Tiller was a hero, a man who had deep compassion for his work and his patients. PPNYC had referred patients to his practice over the years and was always gratified by his care and compassion. A couple years ago, Dr. Tiller came to speak at PPNYC and shared his experiences and passion for his work with our clinical staff. He was a true inspiration to us all.

Tonight , Monday June 1st at 6pm, we will gather in Union Square with our friends, colleagues and supporters to honor the life of this courageous man who dedicated his life to serving women when they were in need.

Please join us to remember Dr. Tiller and to stand in solidarity with those who work every day to ensure that women and their families have access to the care they need even in the face of violence and intimidation.

Recommended Reading

If you're like me, you might be having a hard time wrapping your head around the horrific murder of Dr. George Tiller. We'll be holding a vigil later tonight (details coming shortly) but in the meantime here are some of the pieces I've been reading to try and understand this gut-wrenching tragedy:

So tell us, what have you been reading? What have you found helpful?

The horrific tragedy in Kansas

I'm sure most of you have heard by now about the tragic murder of Dr. George Tiller yesterday in Kansas.

Planned Parenthood of New York City's official statement is below:

We at Planned Parenthood are deeply saddened by the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and to all of us who hold Dr Tiller in such high regard and know the value of his commitment and work.

George Tiller was truly an American hero.

He provided critical reproductive health care services to women facing some of the most difficult medical circumstances. He was continually harassed by abortion opponents for much of his career - his clinic was burned down, he was previously shot in both arms by a health center protestor, and he was continually targeted for investigation only to be acquitted by a jury just a few months ago. None of this stopped George Tiller from his commitment to providing women and their families with compassionate care that others were unwilling to offer.

Several years ago, after anti-abortion protesters marched outside the same church where he was killed Sunday, Dr Tiller explained his commitment to providing abortion care for women. "Make no mistake, this battle is about self-determination by women of the direction and course of their lives and their family’s lives. Abortion is about women’s hopes and dreams. Abortion is a matter of survival for women."

We have referred patients to Dr Tiller’s practice over the years and were always deeply impressed and gratified by his care and compassion. A couple years ago, Dr. Tiller came to speak at PPNYC and shared his experiences and passion for his work with our clinical staff. He brought a deep understanding of patients needs and set the bar high for quality care, compassion and understanding. Patients that went to Dr Tiller were very often difficult cases and many had no other place to turn.

His death is an enormous loss for the patients who relied upon him, his dedicated staff, the medical community and for women and their families across America.

But our work continues, the medical providers and clinical staff at Planned Parenthood rededicate our efforts to serve the women and families of New York – we do this in Dr. Tiller’s memory.

Last Week's News

Good Morning! In case you missed them, here is a quick roundup of last week's news:

  • Planned Parenthood's CEO Joan Malin had a great Letter to the Editor in the New York Times.

  • Planned Parenthood's Haydee Morales had a column in El Diario about Teen Pregnancy rates in the Latina community.

  • NBC’s Today Show highlights Planned Parenthood’s online tools, My Method and The Check.

  • The Washington Post reports that the White House delivered strong assurances that Judge Sotomayor agrees with President Obama’s belief in constitutional protections for a woman’s right to abortion,

  • offers more insight into the recent Gallup poll on abortion.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Your Non-Repro Health News

Happy Friday! As the week winds down, here are a few not-quite-repro-health-related stories of note:

  • "Helloooo, this is Dr. Maya Angelou calling. Tell me something: Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?" These are some robo-calls I actually wish I was getting.

  • I personally have always been a horrible speller. But that doesn't stop me from loving the story about this thirteen year-old girl winning the spelling bee.

  • There's a great roundup of Judge Sotomayor's Opinions over at RH Reality Check.

  • And finally, most of you must have heard the sad news that the CA Supreme Courtupheld Proposition 8. Below is a small collection of some of the protests that happened all over the country as a result.

So tell me all. What will you be up to this weekend?

Protesters gather in the castro district in San Francisco. Via Capt' Tim..

Protest in Dupont Circle, DC. Photo via M Hoek.

Protest in Atlanta, GA. Photo via Melissa Terry.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm in Love with This New H&M Campaign

Cheap-chic retailer H&M has collaborated with Designers Against AIDS to launch the second annual Fashion Against AIDS collection, with twenty five percent of the sales prices going to HIV/AIDS awareness projects.

Cyndi Lauper (pictured), Yoko Ono, Dita Von Teese, N.E.R.D., Moby, and Katy Perry are among the stars who're collaborating on the effort; personally, I'm most in love with their safe sex message.

Check out more images from the collection here.

We Have A Reader Diary!

Anyone who isn't reading the great reproductive health news site RH Reality Check already should hop on over there. They are the best resource out there for the latest news and opinion from reproductive health sources all over the world.

But, if you really needed another reason to visit the site, well we've got one. Come visit us! Yes, that's right: this week PPNYC will be starting on a new Reader Diary discussing many of the same questions we raise here -- only in greater detail. So come check us out!

Photo thanks to Cecilia Levy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The problem with labels

Two weeks ago Ross Douthat wrote a piece about Obama's approach to the so-called culture wars. Well today, Planned Parenthood of New York City has a letter in the New York Times in response.

The best part is where Joan Malin says:

When we let politics get in the way of providing the best medical care possible for America’s women and families, everyone loses.

When women are no longer able to make the best medical decision for themselves, their families and their situations, both sides — right and left — suffer.

This isn’t about “choice”; it’s about respecting and affirming a woman’s decision no matter what it may be.

It’s time to stop making women and their families casualties of an ideological war.

Personally this letter really resonated with me. I've gotten so frustrated, especially over the past eight years, as I've watched what I consider to be the most intimate and personal decision I'll make in my life -- whether and when to have a baby -- become some abstract political rallying cry. Of course these issues are so important, but as each "side" in this argument has gotten more and more heated, I've felt more and more alienated. Shouldn't our priority ultimately be the health and safety of women, men and families, regardless of a political philosophy? And shouldn't doctors and women be the ones making intimate and personal medical decisions, instead of having them debated, poked and prodded at on a national political stage?

But I'm curious -- what do you think? Do you agree with the letter? Disagree with it? Have you gotten at all frustrated with the national debate?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Love: Are We As Seasonal As The Rest of the Animal Kingdom?

A friend sent me this post over at Glamour magazine today, and it got me thinking. With the unofficial kickoff to summer upon us, how *do* you feel about summer romance? Animals definitely have seasonal mating periods, and hormones may rule women's attraction levels throughout the month, but do us humans ever have our romances dictated by the season?

Unfortunately I've got nothing to offer you but speculation since, aside from one study done about fifteen years ago, I haven't been able to find any credible evidence tying human sexuality to various seasons.

I do intend to keep looking, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear how you feel! Is there one season that gets you more than the rest? Summer? Spring, with the flowers in bloom? Winter with cold weather and fireplaces? I personally love fall, both because it's got some of the nicest weather in New York, and it's my birthday season.

Plus, I can't help but share this video. Enjoy, and have a good holiday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Have a good weekend!

I'm not sure how it is for everyone else around the country, but here in New York it really is starting to feel like Summer. So I thought I'd share this great picture of two Dragonflies -- just a reminder that yes, even insects have to think about reproductive health too. So tell me, what do you have planned this weekend? Anything fun for Memorial Day? Will you be enjoying the weather outside? Or taking a trip? Have fun!

(photo via Dadida)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When did you first learn about sex?

I consider myself lucky. When I was three my mom had just become pregnant with my little sister. Of course what toddler isn't going to want to know what's growing in mommy's tummy and exactly how it got there? So I asked – and she answered, whipping out her vintage copy of "Our Bodies Ourselves" and all. Over the years, we kept having versions of this conversation, whether it was me asking what a term I'd heard on TV meant (the "blow job" conversation was a classic) or asking about different forms of birth control. That doesn't mean I always felt comfortable telling my mom everything, but it did mean that I a) knew the facts and b) knew where to go to get answers if I needed them from somewhere other than mom.

So when I saw this video of Planned Parenthood's Haydee Morales and her daughter talking about sex it made my heart warm. Haydee is the Vice President of Education at Planned Parenthood of New York City, and Haydee's daughter is 11. Their conversation is touching, and proof that yes, a parent can have a good, open conversation about sex with their kids. And sometimes it's that conversation that makes a world of difference.

So what about you all? Could you talk to your parents about sex? Are they the ones who told you the facts, or did you find out from friends/peers/older siblings? And how much of what you thought you "knew" ended up being myths?

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Midwest Teen Sex Show Goes PrimeTime!

I've posted many times about my love for the Midwest Teen Sex Show. I mean it's hilarious sketch comedy that' teaches better sex ed that most U.S. schools do – where can you go wrong?

So that's why when I saw that the MTSS was going to take a break from their regular podcasts I was sad. Until…

I found out that it was because the show had been picked up by Comedy Central!

Yes, that's right. The video sex ed troupe that used a hot dog and cup of chocolate and peanut butter to teach about anal sex will now be on national cable.

Check out MTSS's other great videos, including ones on The Older Boyfriend, Syphilis and Vaginas.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Does this study make you want to practice withdawal?

So how many of you have seen this study about withdrawal? It comes from the Guttmacher Institute, which for those of you who don't know, is definitely one of the leading research bodies on sexual and reproductive health, and compares pregnancy rates for couples using withdrawal for birth control versus those using the male condom. And it found that the rates were almost the same!

But does that mean we'll all run out and start relying on withdrawal as a method of birth control?

I know I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable depending on the old "pull out" method to make sure I wouldn't get pregnant -- it just seems like there are too many things that could go wrong. Plus, I have mixed feelings about promoting it as a method. On the one hand, I know as well as anyone that hormonal birth control isn't for everyone. On the other hand, withdrawal is risky, and leaves a lot of room for human error. Plus, it in no way protects against STDs! But what do you think?

PS - how to find the best birth control for you; the top ten contraception myths; and trusting a boyfriend to take the male birth control pill.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Michelle Obama & Elmo Encourage You to Stay Healthy

Make this your smile of the week. (Via.

Top Ten Contraceptive Myths

Good morning everyone!

No matter how well-informed our parents were, or how many times we had that "birds and the bees" conversation with our parents, each and every one of us grew up thinking something crazy about sex and the way babies were made. I remember my best friend Baron insisting that babies came out your belly button when we were in the third grade, and I unfortunately believed until I was 20 that women could only take the "morning after pill" once in their lives, and if they took it again it would kill them (not true my dears, as it's simply a high dose of birth control hormones it has no more harmful side effects than birth control).

So that's why I was so pleased to see this piece in the UK's Mirror about the top ten contraceptive myths:

1 You can't get pregnant if the man hasn't ejaculated
2 You can only get pregnant mid-cycle
3 You can't get pregnant if you're breastfeeding
4 The morning-after pill has to be used the next day
5 Hormonal contraceptives can reduce fertility
6 You need a break from the Pill or patch
7 The Pill makes you fat
8 The implant moves around the body
9 Only mums can use an IUS or IUD
10 Two condoms are safer than one

But I'm curious about all of you. What misinformation did you grow up believeing? And when did you learn that it wasn't true?

Friday, May 8, 2009

The never ending question of the best form of protection

The first time I went on the pill, it was the high estrogen type that came in a thick pink packet. It made me feel like I had PMS all the time, I got moody, and it killed my sex drive. Since then I've tried low-estrogen, progesterone-only, a diaphragm, condoms, and lots of things in between. A few friends of mine started using an IUD and love it. Another friend of mine got hormonal shots and they made her clinically depressed. My younger sister once tried the sponge. The truth is when it comes to contraception, everyone has a story to tell, and there's no one simple option.

Which is why I was excited to see Planned Parenthood's new My Method – a quiz that helps you figure out what form of birth control & protection might be best for you based on cost, frequency, whether you want to take hormones and whether you even need birth control or just prevention against STIs. And who knew -- for me, it recommended I look into an IUD, cervical cap or diaphragm!

But I'm still curious. What do you all use? And does it differ when you're in a committed relationship versus non? For partners who don't have to worry about pregnancy, what do you use? And how often? Do you use more than one method? Which method has worked best for you, and which have you been dying to try?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Goodbye Abstinence Only Funding!

Just a quick link, but check it out! Obama has effectively removed almost all the national funding for abstinence-only education. Definitely the best way to celebrate national teen pregnancy prevention month that I've heard so far.

Why does this prevention message seem so half-hearted?

Yes, yes, I've seen it -- Bristol Palin talking about preventing teen pregnancy on the Today Show, Good Morning America and every national network that covered the Candie Foundation Town Hall meeting in NYC.

It's definitely a relief to see a national conversation about our disproportionately high teen pregnancy rate, especially one that's focused on prevention. But why are we spending so much time talking about why teen pregnancy is bad and almost no time talking about how to not get pregnant? What kind of message are we sending to kids when we admonish them for making the 'wrong' decisions but then give them no tools to make the 'right' ones? Or when the only 'prevention' method you employ is to talk about how hard it is to be a teenage mother? Doesn't that assume teenagers become pregnant only because they want to?

PS - I love Emily Douglas' piece at RH Reality Check on how shame is an ineffective method of birth control. And check out Planned Parenthood's new web site that actually does feature practical information on how to prevent pregnancy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

So how would you market the "male pill" to men?

You may remember, a few weeks ago we were all excited about the possibility of a male contraceptive pill, even while we were wondering whether or not we'd trust the men in our lives to take them.

Well the BBC is reporting that scientists are close to perfecting a testosterone shot that would act as birth control as well -- easier to remember than a daily pill, and a great option should all the trials prove successful.

The only problem? The BBC has been calling the shots "contraceptive jabs."

I don't know about you, but calling something a "jab" is probably the best way to make it sound unappealing. Still, I got to wondering how they will market the final product to men. Sarah Haskins did a great piece on birth control companies coining the the concept of "period control" instead of contraception, but what's the male equivalent?

Will they jut be brave and go with a straight up contraception message? Will theytalk about paternity or one-night stands? What would appeal to the men you know?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Latest Sarah Haskins!

Check out the latest Sarah Haskins video, and have a good weekend! What are you up to?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do You Have a Clinic Near You?

Have you ever wandered around your neighborhood or flipped through the yellow pages, wondering where the closest place to get STD tested was?

I have for sure -- especially when I'd just moved to the City and had to wait two months for an appointment with my OBGYN.

Well Planned Parenthood launched a pretty cool tool this month, a clinic finder that works anywhere in the country! So even if you're away from home and have a scare, you can find a clinic nearby. Check it out -- it's super easy. You just type in your zip code!

So, did you get tested yet this week? What was it like? Were you scared? Where did you go to get tested?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where is the pop culture?

Last week at the fabulous Words of Choice performance, an audience member was speaking about his time as a TV writer, and how difficult it was to even mention the word abortion in a script.

And that got me thinking -- why is it so rare to see stories about abortion (unless they're cautionary tales that is) in mainstream pop culture?

Penny Lane, the creator of the great documentary The Abortion Diaries has a wonderful resource up on her site: a timeline of when abortion has been mentioned in pop culture. And it's pretty rare! Or at least pretty rare when the character considering an abortion doesn't a) change her mind or b) have something horrible and life-threatening happen to her.

For me, it's a no-brainer that there's so much stigma attached to the issue when we can't even talk about it in the mainstream media. But what do you think? Why are networks so afraid of presenting the procedure when it doesn't have dire consequences?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mobile Health!

Ever wondered how Planned Parenthood reaches so many people? Well this month, it's been by taking to the streets!

Above is a picture of our mobile medical unit, which all throughout the month of April has been administering walk-in STD testing all throughout the city. You may have seen the inside already but if you haven't, they're basically a big clinic inside of an oversize RV. Check them out the next time you see them on the street!

So how many of you have been tested so far? Do you know how at risk you are for STDs? If you haven't been tested, go do it already!

Monday, April 27, 2009


The Onion's take on the Emergency Contraception ruling.

Get Yourself Tested!

Checkout PPNYC's latest radio ad -- running all this week! And don't forget, get yourself tested!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Como Hacer Un Bebe

Thanks to Jo, comes this cute video on "how to make a baby." (note, for real information on how to make a baby, check here)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Latest "storm" parody

As many of you know, with New York State set to vote on same-sex marriage this year, I've been eating up all things marriage equality. So when I saw this parody video of the infamous "gathering storm" video, I had to smile.

Funny, no? Have you seen any other parodies that made you smile? And did you see the story about the hilariously unfortunate acronym for the anti-marriage group?

Did you know this photo was staged?

Neither did I, until I read Megan's fascinating piece over at Jezebel on the history of imagery of the human embryo.

The whole thing is a really interesting piece of not only how images can be changed and interpreted differently, but on how our views on abortion and pregnancy have changed as a society. Definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

17 Year Olds Can Get Emergency Contraception Without a Prescription!

Great news!

Today the FDA announced that they would go along with a Federal Court's ruling that they make emergency contraception available over-the-counter to anyone over age 17.

Which is great news! Especially since, as the Federal Judge originally cited, the FDA decision to only make emergency contraception available over the counter to those 18+ was based on politics, not science. In fact the Judge said:

"These political considerations, delays and implausible justifications for decision-making are not the only evidence of a lack of good faith and reasoned agency decision-making. Indeed, the record is clear that the FDA's course of conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug from prescription to non-prescription use."

The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the world, and it's always seemed like a mistake to me to keep teens from having as many tools as possible to prevent unintended pregnancies. Plus, even the FDA's panel of experts admitted that there was no medical reason to put an age restriction on emergency contraception.

But what do you think? Is the ruling a good thing? Did it not go far enough? Should there be an age limit? And have you ever taken emergency contraception? Could you get it over the counter, or did you need a prescription?

How has the economy affected your birth control?

Last night I was talking with a friend of mine who's recently been laid off, and the conversation turned to health care. She's lucky, her job is paying for her health insurance for an additional six months (or until she finds coverage elsewhere), but after that she's on her own. And it got me thinking, how much is the economy affecting all of our choices about birth control and health care?

At Planned Parenthood we definitely see a lot of uninsured patients - that's a part of being a safety net provider, and we even have a great program to help people get on public insurance if they qualify for it. An there have been a lot of stories about peoples' birth control decisions being affected by the economy.

But what about you? Have you made any decisions about your health based on the economy? Seen a doctor less? Switched birth control? Gone for a more long term option? Or is your life staying pretty much the same?

Monday, April 20, 2009

What are you doing Thursday night?

Hopefully, you've answered 'Going to see Words of Choice at Judson Memorial Church.'

For those of you who've never seen the theater performance before it's a powerful experience -- described as the "Vagina Monologues" only for reproductive rights. The theater performance tells a dozen stories of women (and men) as they navigate their sexuual and reproductive rights.

This variation of the piece has never before been performed in New York City, and will be in town for one night only. Tickes are limited, so get them while you can!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Good news this morning!

New York's Governor Patterson is supposed to introduce a bill on same-sex marriage today. While I was hoping that Albany will do the courageous thing, I was reminded me of how much I love this video from the courage campaign:

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

(sniff, sniff) What's that? No, I'm not tearing up.....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amazon admits fault

Update on the saga! Patti Smith, an Amazon spokesperson has called the stripping of sales-rankings on LGBT, feminist and reproductive health books as "an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error." Also, apparently more that 57,310 books were effected!

Yet while they're admitting fault, fixing this error has been a slow process. Thousands of books still have yet to regain their sales rank.

I have two friends, Michelle Goldberg and Jessica Valenti, who had their books stripped of their sales rankings. How about you? Did you notice any favorite books that were affected?

On Language

Jezebel ran a piece about this course at Vassar for men on understanding women's language. The course was canceled after just one class, mainly because it had turned into an offensive lecture reinforcing gender and racial stereotypes.

But it got me thinking. Yesterday we wrote about how navigating certain relationship dynamics can be difficult. But do you feel like you use different language to talk about sex and relationships than your partner does? Do men and women use different vocabulary?
How great is this bracelet? The Family Violence Prevention Fund puts them out, and half of the procedes from the RESPECT! bracelet go towards the great work the Fund is doing to prevent dating abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. I love it (thanks, Joy)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My favorite picture of Obama so far

That was my favorite book when I was a kid. Don't you just love it? (yes, I know this has very little to do with reproductive health, but sometimes we all need a little pick-me-up)

Sugar Daddies and Babies?

How many of you all saw this article in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend, about "Sugar Daddies" and "Sugar Babies"?

I'll admit, I was fascinated and couldn't put it down. But over at Salon, Rebecca Traister rips into it for perpetuating gender stereotypes and feeding into the (false) mainstream media narrative of women desperately falling back on gender roles during a recession.

I agree with Rebecca's hesitation - there do seem to be a lot of stories about increasingly (financially) desperate women in this recession. But on the other hand, I felt like this New York Times piece thoughtfully delved into a fascinating gender dynamic that still exists in many romantic (and not just heterosexual) relationships today.

Any relationship that has an unequal balance of money/age/professional success is going to be tricky to navigate. And there are still many people out there, including some of my dear friends, whose qualifications for the perfect partner include a strict analysis of financial means.

So where does the sugar relationship begin and the "normal" relationship end? The New York Times piece argues that the Sugar Daddy/Baby relationship is the extrapolation of traditional power/financial roles involved in dating. But what do you think? Would a "sugar" relationship ever be ok? Was the piece sensationalizing the issue?

All men all the time?

It's a complaint I've heard many of my single female friends make on a regular basis. "I never meet any men!" they'll say. "There are just no men anywhere!"

Well, my dears, Salon has an interesting piece about how in China, they have the opposite problem.

According to a report released on Friday, gender-specific abortion and the higher value placed on male babies have made the gender imbalance worse, with 32 million more men than women in China.

China has initiated a few campaigns to help reverse the imbalance, but so far nothing seems to be working. The idea that a country has placed such a low value on girls that it's lead to a national problem seems really sad to me. But what do you think? And what do you think a solution might be? Should they reverse their one-child-per-family policy? Or should the government push their public education campaign on the value of girls even more than they already do?

Monday, April 13, 2009

[D]Effective Advertising?

Jezebel alerts us to an interesting German ad campaign - portray sperm as Hitler (or Osama Bin Laden or Mao Zedong).

Kind of creepy, right? What do you think? Would this ad make you want to use a condom?

Amazon Fail: Update

Thanks to Salon for pointing us to Dear Jane who's unraveled a little bit of this mystery:
"At the suggestion of someone I looked up the category meta data provided by the publisher to Amazon. I looked up over 40 books that had been deranked and filtered out of search engines. It appears that all the content that was filtered out had either 'gay', 'lesbian', 'transgender', 'erotic' or 'sex' metadata categories. Playboy Centerfold books were categorized as 'nude' and 'erotic photography', both categories that apparently weren’t included in the filter. According to one source, the category metadata is filled in part by the publisher and in part by Amazon.

The question is then who implemented the policy of marking GLBT books as adult and who knew of the implementation? What kind of supervisory person signed off on it?"

What's going on with

Happy Monday everyone!

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. I know mine was great, well mostly. Until I read this disturbing piece of news about

Apparently the book retailer has been stripping the sales ranking off of gay, lesbian and feminist books. For those of you who don't know, a book's sales ranking is what determines if it comes up first or last when you search for a particular subject matter or title. So a book with no sales ranking will come up last, if at all.

The reasons why have been somewhat indecipherable - some sales reps have called it just a glitch while other authors are being told it's because their material was deemed too "adult."

Yet Jezebel points out the interesting contradiction in the "adult" classification. Vibrators and anal plugs have retained their sales ranking, but Ellen DeGeneres' biography was deemed inappropriate. Likewise, books on Coming out, Jessica Valenti's Full Frontal Feminism, and as I learned from Facebook last night the only very recently released but superb Means of Reproduction by Michelle Goldberg have been stripped of their sales rank, but books on "curing" homosexuality, Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds and
The Professional Bachelor Dating Guide: How To Exploit Her Inner Psycho get to keep their sales rankings.

There is a petition up at Care2 that you can sign, and Twitter has added an #amazonfail hashtag to keep track of books which have lost their sales ranking. Or you can just view the Amazon Fail tagged items on itself.

I know I'll be following this story diligently all week, but for now what do you think? On the one hand, it seems like turned super conservative on us. Maybe this is this the new form of censorship? But on the other, the list is so random that it can almost seem arbitrary. Maybe it is a glitch? Or is there a third answer? What do you think? (and sign the petition!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Prom Sex Tips!

Some of you might know this already, but I am in love with the Midwest Teen Sex Show. I grew up in New York City, so never really had either the Midwest experience or the whole Prom thing. But their videos are consistently both hilarious and really informative. Anything that teaches you accurate information about sex while making you crack up is always good in my book, and this Prom Instructional is no exception.

What do you guys think? Did you go to your prom? Did you like it? Was there pressure to have sex?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jesus battles the Pope over condoms

I'm loving this video! Thanks to Free Williamsburg for the link.

Sexting: Update

After this last post, a reader directed me to this great article by Violet Blue over at SF Gate which asks: when teens make their own porn, who's being exploited?

What do you think? Can taking nude photos of yourself be healthy or harmful? When I was fifteen there was barely an internet, and I know I'm glad to know that the dumb mistakes I made back then won't be broadcast for all the world to see, but that's no longer the case. Have you ever had something you regret broadcast over the internet?

Teenage Sexuality: How do you teach without the shame?

Do you remember a while back, a few high school girls in Pennsylvania got in trouble for sending semi-nude photos of themselves to friends via cell phone?

The atrocity wasn't that they got in trouble - a school restricting that kind of behavior among students I could maybe understand. It was that the police decided to charge all those involved with trafficking in child pornography.

Now, in a twist, a U.S. District Judge has now issued a restraining order against the original prosecutor, saying his actions went to far.

It's so rare you see a federal judge doing something that actually seems to really protect young girls without shaming them for exploring sexuality, that I consider this District Judge a hero. But it got me thinking, how should the girls parents and authorities responded in the first place? It's natural for teenagers to want to experiment, and the local police forces' strong reaction was definitely creepy. But sending nude or semi-nude pictures of yourself can be really risky. You never know whose hands they'll end up in, and once they've made it online there's no taking them down - readily googleable for any future employer to find.

So what do you think? How should the teens' parents and teachers dealt with this issue?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hilarious! Onion Saves the Day Again.

I love the Onion. And after the depressing news that the Pope was still claiming that condoms can give you AIDS in Africa, well this piece is just perfect.

Breaking: MTV VJ Gets Tested for STDs on Camera!

As some of you may have already heard, this month is Get Yourself Tested Month (or GYT09). Which means that Planned Parenthood has partnered with the Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV to remind all of you how important it is to get tested for STDs on a regular basis!

It's been pretty exciting so far, especially because we get to do cool things like have an MTV VJ come in and get tested for STDs on camera.

Watch the video! Doesn't he make it look easy? I even got to meet Carlos, and he was very sweet. And yes, he really did go through the whole exam and get tested for everything.

What about you? When was the last time you were tested for STDs? Do you think you'd be brave enough to do it on camera?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

When was the last time you were tested for STDs?

Whether you lost your health insurance or are just plain lazy, you may have been putting off getting STD tested lately. But do you know how much of a risk you're facing?

Now you can! As a part of Get Yourself Tested month, Planned Parenthood has made it simple to do a quick assessment of what STDs you might be at risk for via an online quiz. Of course you should all be getting tested on a regular basis anyway - it's just common sense.

What about you guys? When was the last time you were tested? Do you get nervous before you go?

Who would you rather take the pill, you or your boyfriend?

Any of our readers who've actually been on the birth control pill can tell you: the burden of remembering to take your daily dose can sometimes be exhausting. Although thanks to Obama it'll soon be a bit less expensive, you still have to always worry about bringing your pill pack with you, taking it at the same time everyday and worrying what to do if you miss one. And if you're going on vacation around the time you're switching to a new pill pack, well the pharmacy can make the hassle of getting your pills in advance a nightmare.

Yet now, as Marie Claire UK is reporting (via the wonderful Emily at RH Reality Check), there may be a new pill for men in the works!

The good feminist in me knows that I should be excited: Finally! Equity in birth control! But instead it just makes me nervous. How would I know for sure that he was really taking it? Could I really trust a boyfriend to be more responsible than I am? And how long would it be until we were sure that there are no harmful side effects for the men taking it?

So I'm curious what you think. Is this a great new advancement that's been too long in the coming? Will you run out to try it right away? Or would you prefer to be the one in charge of your daily birth control regimen?

Birth Control Pills as Drugs?

Via feministing, a teenager in Virginia was suspended for taking her birth control pills at school. The school's authorities are claiming it's a case of worrying about liability, but I can't help but wonder if they would have made the same choice had she been caught taking anti-depressants or ADD medicine. Especially when I read this:

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.

What do you think? A case of misdirected overly-cautious administrators? Or did they target birth control directly?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Abortion Ads? reports that the UK might start airing ads for pregnancy services, including abortion, on TV.

On the one hand, why not? On the other hand, I can see how this might make people uncomfortable. So I'd love to hear from our readers -- what do you think? Should the UK allow ads for abortion services on TV? Should the US?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

To Do: Support Clinic Access on your lunch hour

Sick of eating lunch at your desk? Well, PPNYC has something pretty special going on tomorrow during your lunch hour: the City Council is voting on (and approving we hope!) the Clinic Access Bill an important piece of legislation that will help protect our reproductive health care clinics as well as our patients.

That's right even in 2009, patients and staff at reproductive health care centers deal with harassment and intimidation by protesters outside. This bill will help make sure that doesn't happen -- removing a barrier to health care at a time when people are already struggle to get access to care. Doesn't that sound like a good reason to come down to City Hall and celebrate its passage?

So, if you're so inclined, don your Planned Parenthood T Shirt and come on down to City Hall to show your support. We'll be gathering there at 1:30pm. Hope to see you there!

Gossip Girl's Dan Humphrey a Supporter of Planned Parenthood?

Said Gossip Girl's Dan Humphrey in this Monday's episode:
? "All I did was carry the chili and stop a few teenagers from having unprotected sex."

At least he has his priorities straight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Family Planning and the Economy

This is a guest post from our new intern, Amy.

A story published by the AP a couple of days ago talks about abortion and the economy. The article provides a powerful example of how an economic downturn influences women's health and their decisions about family planning.

It's interesting for us to see at Planned Parenthood, since we're a safety net provider for so many women (meaning basically that we don't turn anyone away, irregardless of financial means or insurance). Right now people are losing their jobs and their health insurance. Luckily this means that more and more women can still turn to Planned Parenthood to help pay for birth control and other reproductive health needs like OBGYN appointments and cancer screenings.

Interestingly, legislators are starting to take an interest in these issues too. The AP article quotes Lori Lamerand, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan, suggesting, "We're seeing a receptivity among our legislators to hear about prevention policies . . . Folks who wouldn't have opened the doors to a Planned Parenthood representative are now willing to talk to us."

Everyone's talking about the economy now, and it's important to remember that when making tough decisions about how to cut costs, birth control shouldn’t fall by the wayside. We can use this opportunity to get legislators on board with funding to help millions of women continue to exercise their right to family planning.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Would you be able to use these condoms?

And more importantly, do you think they're safe to use? (via)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Teen pregnancy health care crisis

From Cecile Richards today:

Today's news from the CDC that the teen birthrate is on the rise for the second straight year clearly demonstrate that abstinence-only programs are failing our teens. We agree with President Obama that our nation must leave behind the divisive politics of the last eight years and move forward with commonsense policies that achieve our shared goal of truly preventing unintended pregnancies. That?s why we believe that the time has come for everyone who cares about teenagers to start focusing on real policies that will help reduce the teen pregnancy rate. This begins with honest communication between young people and parents, comprehensive and accurate sex education, and access to affordable contraception.

With nearly 750,000 teens getting pregnant every year, the United States is facing a teen pregnancy health care crisis. When something is broken, our country works to fix it. We must work together to fix this crisis and reduce unintended pregnancies.

Congress should put the right foot forward and immediately stop funding for abstinence-only programs that deny young people information about how to prevent pregnancy, protect their health and make responsible decisions. In the last decade, more than $1.5 billion has been wasted on abstinence-only programs, when studies show they don?t reduce the number of teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted infections.

As a nation, we must invest in policies and programs that will help prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among teenagers.

It's nice to know that Christopher Walken is on our side.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Voice of the Youth!

Let's take a break from national politics for a second, and talk about youth.

Specifically the 23 amazing youth from New York City that were in Albany yesterday, meeting with legislators to convince them that comprehensive sex education is important enough that ALL of New York State schools should have it.

The teens were some of Planned Parenthood's amazing teen advocates, from the Lower East Side, the Bronx and Brooklyn. They all got up incredibly early in the morning to make the long bus trek up to our State's capitol - something I know I was never jumping to do when i was between the ages of 14 and 18. Still they all braved the trip, and not only met with legislative staffers but participated in workshops in online organizing and knowing your rights (that last workshop was thanks to the NYCLU).

Pictures are coming soon, but I wanted to take a step back and recognize our amazing young volunteers. You'd be surprised at just how powerful a group of teenagers thoughtfully talking about sex education to their legislators can be. So thanks guys, it's good to know that our future is in your hands.

Friday, March 13, 2009

You Heard it Straight From MTV

You know, even rock stars can't be too careful. Use a condom. (via)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers

In 1993, Dr. David Gunn was assassinated, the first provider murdered by an anti-abortion extremist. March 10 was set aside in 1996 as the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers to commemorate him.

Let's take today to pause and honor the men and women who put their lives at risk to make reproductive choice a reality. Thank you for all you do everyday to ensure that we have quality health care services and access. Thank you for standing up for what is right in difficult times and for providing life-saving care for women.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Palin appoints former Planned Parenthood board member to Alaska Supreme Court

Will wonders never cease. Is this another result of the Obamization of the nation?

Read on...

In a move that should give social conservatives great pause, Governor Sarah Palin has appointed a former board member of Planned Parenthood to the Alaska State Supreme Court.

Palin appointed Anchorage Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen to the state’s highest court on Wednesday.

There is no disputing Palin’s appointment of Christen with her association with Planned Parenthood will cause the Alaska Supreme to lean left and will ensure a more activist court when it comes to gay marriage, and abortion.

The Christen appointment is key because she replaces justice Warren Mathews, one of the dissenting votes striking down the parental consent legislation.

The Governor, who early on won the support of Alaska liberals after she pushed through an enormous, unprecedented tax increase on the oil industry, seems to be back in their good graces with this appointment.

AND liberal bloggers responded to Palin’s Supreme Court appointment writing, “Ohmigawd!??The governor's been taken over by space aliens.??What an improvement!”

“Wow. Way to go Palin! I can't believe I just said that. But hey, credit where credit is due.”

“Glad to see a woman in the position to balance out the court. Good for Palin for keeping bible thumper beliefs out of the court system and honoring the separation of Church and State.”

Read more in The Alaska Standard...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cecile Richards Speaks at the WHite House on Health Care

President Obama held a summit at the White House to discuss health care reform, and our own Cecile Richards was there to speak! Watch the video below:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The War on Planned Parenthood Continues

As columnist Lynn Harris so accurately states, "Sen. David Vitter reminds us that the anti-reproductive-rights movement has hardly gone fishin."

And Lynn's right - the anti-choicers are still anti-woman, and anti-contraception and as anti-Planned Parenthood as ever.

Here's Lynn's hot-off-the-keyboard article on Broadsheet @ ....

Thanks Lynn, great article and great reminder!


The war on Planned Parenthood

Sen. David Vitter, who we assume has availed himself of contraception and/or STI screening,so '07 -- is to strip federal funding for Planned Parenthood from the 2009 omnibus appropriations bill currently in the Senate. The vote on Amendment 601 -- if it comes to the floor at all -- could take place this afternoon. has risen from Crystal Lake to get all Friday XIII on Title X. His goal -- which is

This bill, it should be noted, is a bit of a sham to begin with. No federal funding may be used to support abortion services in the first place. (Some states now pitch in.)

But Vitter's plaint, as paraphrased it, is that "while the money Planned Parenthood receives from Title X funds doesn't pay for abortions still helps the abortion business." Mmm, except for the part where access to contraception er, hurts the abortion business, in a way we can all kind of agree on.

Further, no one should have to explain why it'd be a particularly bad moment to make the full range of Planned Parenthood services (including breast and cervical cancer screening) less accessible to low-income and uninsured patients. In fact, as Feministing notes, US News has reported that in these tough times, more and more women (and men) are visiting Planned Parenthood, many as their source of primary health care. Yet since the anti-reproductive rights movement sees Planned Parenthood as the veritable Death Star of abortion, it will always be a major, if symbolic, target.

Will the Vitter bill actually make it to the floor? And if so, how much do we really need to worry that this rather preposterous piece of work would pass? Well, if the bill does not come to a vote, it'd be because Republican lawmakers (especially with PP already rallying its troops) decided not to choose a losing fight. Sorry, Senator.

That said, this effort -- while a bit flailing in and of itself -- should serve as a reminder that the anti-reproductive-rights movement has hardly gone fishin'. Their forces remain plenty active at the state level, with some scary successes. Just because we've got a fella in the White House who rescinds gag rules, strikes "conscience" clauses, re-ups health coverage for kids, and supports planned families (did I just type all that? Pinch me!) doesn't mean we can start mixing Obamatinis and call it a day.

So, in the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to call your senators, and let 'em know you're still watching.

UPDATE: Broadsheet hears that Senator Jim DeMint has just filed an amendment (No. 649) to "strike provisions relating to the Medicaid drug rebate program and prevent the implementation of a funding earmark for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America." His goal: to remove from the appropriations bill a long-needed, much-discussed, technical -- and no-cost -- correction that would restore the ability of pharmaceutical companies to offer nominally priced drugs to college and university health clinics and family planning health centers without penalty, just as they had done for decades before a change to the law went into effect in 2007. There is no federal funding in this provision. So while you're calling your lawmakers, perhaps ask Sen. DeMint exactly how it constitutes an "earmark."