Category: News

Adolescents, ACOG, and LARCs: Coercion or Choice?

By Heather Munro Prescott

via re: Cycling, where Laura Werschler expresses her disgust with “drug and device based birth control and its zealots.” According to Werschler, “birth control in the U.S. has become synonymous with drugs and devices. The pill, patch, or ring; Depo-Provera or hormonal implant; copper IUD or Mirena IUD; traditional hormonal birth control or long-acting reversible contraceptives. All impact the function of the menstrual cycle; some suppress it completely. As a pro-choice menstrual cycle advocate I take issue with the fact that keeping your cycle and contracepting effectively are now considered mutually exclusive.”

Day of Action for Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception

By Heather Munro Prescott

Last year on my personal blog, I wrote of my disappointment that Health and Human Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius overruled a recommendation by scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg that Plan B One Step be made available over-the-counter without any age restrictions. In her letter to the FDA Commissioner, Secretary Sibelius said that there were “significant cognitive differences” between older adolescents and younger ones So, if age restrictions were removed, then the drug would be available without prescription or other point of sale restrictions for even the youngest girls of reproductive age (the average age of menarche in the U.S. is 11.1 years). Never mind that only 1% of all 11 year old’s have been sexually active (and for those, “sexually active” usually means rape or incest).

This is an unprecedented move by an HHS secretary — i.e. none of her predecessors has ever overruled the FDA on a drug application. It was not the first time that “politics trumped science” when it came to emergency contraception (give background).(during the George W. Bush administration, the problem was the FDA Commissioner).

A Responsibility to Speak Out: The NFL and the Belcher Murder-Suicide

By Ashley Baggett

Gender-based violence plagues our community. Approximately 30% of Americans say they know someone who has been abused by her significant other in the past year. Rather than being a highly visible topic, a shroud of silence seemingly surrounds the issue. Over forty years after the Women’s Liberation Movement, we are still trying to break the silence and raise awareness. We should somehow be closer to ending the violence, but we are not. As a domestic violence survivor, I utilize opportunities to break the silence and speak about my experience. My hope is that I help to spread awareness and generate discussions that will dismantle the stereotypes and assumptions about intimate partner violence (IPV). I have little influence compared to some activists in the fight to end gender-based violence, and I have far less reach than large organizations. Most recently, an enormous group⎯ the National Football League (NFL)⎯ had the responsibility to take a stance against IPV and send a needed message to its huge fan base. And, they did.

Still That Kind of Girl: Teens, Sex, and Contraception

By Carolyn Herbst Lewis

My sophomore year of high school, the French teacher taught my English literature class. At some point in the semester we had to give a five minute persuasive speech on any topic of our choosing. Mine was “Why There Should Be Condom Dispensers in the School Bathrooms.” I do not remember the response of my classmates, but I will never forget what my teacher said, even before I had reached my seat: “Caroleeen, I had no idea you were that kind of girl.”In my mind, I flipped him off. In actuality, I just sat down.

The 2012 Election and Misuse of History: Why Historians Matter

By Ashley Baggett

In the past few weeks, I have witnessed excessive misuse of history to justify political opinions. The presidential election seemed to bring out the historian in everyone, much to my chagrin. Generally, I try to avoid debating people on social media (a wise suggestion for everyone), but I couldn’t stand it anymore during the election returns. Way too often people used quotes taken completely out of context (as I’m screaming, “But context matters for understanding that properly!!!”). On every Facebook status that made me cringe, I put in my two cents and tactfully acted as a caped crusader correcting gross historical inaccuracies and rabid attacks on the historical profession. The responses were depressing. The lack of rational discussion I expected to a degree, but the low level of respect for historians was shocking. I wondered, as many of us often do, how to maintain the accessibility of history to the public and yet still retain authority over our expertise?

Why We Should Expand the Voting Rights Act Instead of Dismantling It

By Austin McCoy

President Obama’s recognition of Americans’ struggles while voting seemed unexpected, even with all of the news reports about long lines, defective voter machines, and other voter irregularities.What is even more astonishing, and at this point, pretty tone deaf, is that the Supreme Court may hear another case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Shelby County, Alabama aspires to have the provision overturned on the grounds that it is archaic and unnecessary in an “American that elected and reelected Barack Obama as its first African-American president.” Section 5 forces particular states with histories of voter disenfranchisement to seek “preclearance” from the Department of Justice before changing voting rules. Conservative justices, according to Adam Serwer writing for Mother Jones, argue that the law discriminates against white southerners despite the fact that Section 5 applies to “all or parts of” Western and Northern states such as New York, New Hampshire, California, and Arizona, nor does it single out white individuals. States and “political subdivisions” are the regulated entities.

What Does Responsibility Have to Do with Reproduction?

By Adam Turner

Genetic counseling, as the previous two posts in this series suggest, has a lot to offer for navigating the tricky decisions things like prenatal testing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis raise. Well, in this post I’d like to make things a little more complicated. Enter the sheer messiness of history. I still believe genetic counseling is the best approach we have right now for helping prospective parents with hard choices, but it has a complicated — and not so distant — past that continues to shape counselors’ ways of interacting with clients.

HPV and the Importance of Planned Parenthood

By Tina M. Kibbe

While doing research for a new project, I was doing some reading about sexually transmitted infections and came across a couple of interesting articles about the HPV vaccine and Planned Parenthood. The article on the HPV vaccine deals with the concern over the vaccination increasing the sexual activity of young women. And the article on Planned Parenthood surrounds the controversy over whether or not the organization would remain part of the state-run Women’s Health Program in Texas. My interest in these articles stems from my research in the gendered aspects of healthcare, particularly in relation to sexual transmitted infections. Also, I am originally from Texas and I think it is inane to restrict access to affordable healthcare resources.

When the Personal Really is Historical (and Scary!)

By Jacqueline Antonovich

So, I have pertussis. You may know it better as whooping cough. Believe me, the irony of a gender and medicine historian catching a 19th century disease is not lost on me. It’s hard enough to be a graduate student, a GSI (Graduate Student Instructor), a wife, and a mother of two, but throw in a good old-fashioned Oregon Trail disease, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a semester.

Homosexuality the New Norm?

By Sean Cosgrove

Questions in public discourse surrounding the issues of human gender and sexuality seem to revolve around (unchallenged) binaries of female and male, and hetero or homosexual. Now, that they exist in this form currently and shape our lived experience is absolutely true. That they have always existed, however, in the guise(s) that they do now is not, and it can be dangerous to assume the unchanging nature of these constructs when talking, particularly, about social policy.