Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mainstream Media on Abortion

Glamour Magazine has a great piece on abortion up this month. While many feminist and reproductive rights publications write about this issue over and over again, this is the first piece I've seen in a glossy magazine to give such a balanced and thoughtful take on the issue. The whole thing is definitely a must-read, but one of my favorite parts was this intro:

In the end there’s little drama to the procedure, but that doesn’t make it a simple experience. How could it be, when abortion inspires culture-quaking political and religious debates and feels too charged to discuss, even woman to woman? “No one talks about abortion on a personal level—there’s too much stigma attached,” says Aspen Baker, the cofounder of Exhale, an after-abortion counseling help line.

In a perfect world, no woman would ever need to end a pregnancy. But in reality, one in three women will have at least one abortion by the time she is 45, and these women run the gamut of ages, races, backgrounds and beliefs. “I’ve seen every type of woman in my office, from Catholics to Muslims to mothers with three kids,” says Dr. Oyer. “I’ve even treated someone I recognized—because I’d seen her before, protesting right outside my clinic.”

Let's hope this fair and balanced take on the issue is a sign of the times, and that there are many more pieces like this to come..

Friday, February 6, 2009

Responding to the "Myth" of Teen Pregnancy

Last week Tara Parker-Pope wrote a piece for the NY Times on how reports of teenage pregnancy have been overblown by the media and over-cautious parents. Planned Parenthood of New York City sent in a letter to the editor that I thought would be interesting to share here:

Dear Editor,

While Tara Parker-Pope is not yet ready to sound the alarm on teen pregnancy ("The Myth…" 1/27/09), her article glazes over a stark reality: teen pregnancy and STD rates for young women in the United States are higher than those in any other industrialized nation in the world.

Additionally, teen pregnancy and STD rates for women of color in the U.S. are disproportionately higher than those of the overall population, with African-American and Hispanic rates nearly three times those of white women. For all the mainstream media stories sensationalizing teenage sexuality, this is the statistic that goes largely overlooked.

While the hype surrounding teens and sex will likely continue, it has yet to lead to effective, comprehensive sex education programs, especially ones that reach at risk youth. Let's continue this conversation, but let's also give our kids access to the services and information they need to stay safe and healthy.

Joan Malin
President and CEO of Planned Parenthood NYC

While teenage sexuality has without a doubt been sensationalized in the media, it's too soon to put away the alarm bells all together. Even though it's not as bad as, say, Oprah's report on the Teen Oral Sex epidemic (and that means an epidemic of teens having oral sex not an epidemic passed through oral sex) might suggest, our work isn't done yet.