Morning Roundup: Alaska, Wisconsin, and 16 and Loved

Alaska wants a judge to reconsider the ruling on a parental notification law, show your support for teens speaking out about pregnancy termination, and Wisconsin raises the income limit for free birth control. Also, a reminder that RH Reality Check will only be publishing intermittently between now and January 3rd. Have a safe and healthy New Year!

  • The state of Alaska is asking a judge to reconsider his decision that stripped the state’s parental notification law of any punitive measures. The law, which requires parents of a woman younger than 18 to be notified of her decision to terminate a pregnancy, went into effect last week, despite attempts from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest to block it.
  • Another reminder of MTV’s “No Easy Decision” special coming up on Tuesday night. The program deals with three young women who have terminated their pregnancies. Exhale has created a “16 & Loved” campaign to support the teens who came forward to tell their stories. Show your support by joining a “watch-in” on Facebook, participating in a live blog of the show, or tweet about it using #16andloved.
  • Wisconsin is the first state to raise the income limit for free birth control after approval from the federal government. “The family planning program, which also provides screening for sexually transmitted diseases, had been available to those making 200% above the federal poverty level. The changes approved Thursday raise eligibility to 300% of the federal poverty level, making it available to individuals who earn up to $32,490 a year.” Republicans are taking over the Wisconsin state legislature and governor’s office next month, however, and have stated their intent to “pare it back” as much as possible. According to Lon Newman, Executive Director of Family Planning Health Services, “It is a great victory toward achieving universal access to reproductive health care.”

Dec 23

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  • sschoice

    Here’s some background on Dr Drew relavent to “No Easy Decision,” the MTV special that aired last night to some pro-choice surprise and acclaim. 

    Before Dr. Drew was a featured doctor on MTV shows, on the syndicated radio show “Loveline” back in the 1990s he regularly made comments about abortion and women seeking abortion, especially minors, might reasonably be considered anti-choice. He basically took on air on numerous occasions the position that abortion terminates a life, with a similar moral weight as if one were to end the life of a autonomous, already born human being, and he made statements on numerous occasions that abortion usually did (though he didn’t quite say “should”) cause guilt and regret.  You can read a little background on the “Loveline” show at this page from Wikipedia: 


    Though he took some anti-choice positions on Loveline back in the 1990s, Dr. Drew didn’t extend this sort of belief/bias to contraception, and he did strongly encourage listeners to use contraception — though his encouragement was often mixed with derision of women who used contraception imperfectly, without allowing for (1) no use of a drug or device which requires use daily or use every time one has sex lends easily to “perfect” use, (2) unconscious ambivalence about using contraception may be present in women who are not completely certain that they want to avoid being pregnant, and making them feel guilty for that is no way to deal with that ambivalence, and (3) there’s another party in these relationships who may not be doing all they can either to avoid unintended pregnancy — namely the guy — which he rarely mentioned in his criticism of women who made mistakes using contraception, though when he did he did say they basically all ought to be using condoms.  This was made worse by the presence of Adam Carolla, who after a few years on Loveline went on to start “The Man Show” on Comedy Central in 1999.  On Loveline Carolla frequently led in making remarks which might be considered at least derisive of women, if not outright anti-choice.  Carolla was often just as condemming and sarcastic towards men who misunderstood or made mistakes in using condoms or in communicating with their partner about contraception, abortion, or sexuality in general, and Dr. Drew didn’t say much to moderate that attitude.


    Dr. Drew seemed to moderate his attitudes towards women using contraception and contraceptive failure in the very late 90s around the time that PREVEN, the first emergency contraception formulation, was approved by the FDA for general use (mid-1998, to be exact).  He talked positively about EC and gave information about how to use oral contraceptives prescribed for daily use for EC, like how many of what brand pills to take to be effective as EC, though he encouraged listeners to consult with a doctor to confirm how many to take.  He didn’t moderate his position on abortion, however, and there’s no clear indication from any statements he’s made since then that that has changed. 


    Maybe the best way to explain Dr Drew’s seeming turn-around – which may not be a change in either his personal point of view or his position on the issue as a physician at all — is to compare the apparent change from Dr Drew’s comments in the 1990s to his statements on MTV in this special to those of Dr C Everett Koop, Surgeon General under President Reagan through most of the 1980s.  You can get a little background on Dr. Koop on this page from Wikipedia: 

    Dr Koop made numerous anti-choice statements in his private life before President Reagan appointed him Surgeon General, however once in office he refrained from using his position to take anti-choice positions, despite obvious pressure and frustration from anti-choice groups to get him to do so.  Reagan was a conservative Republican who was personally somewhat anti-choice and very easily influenced by the anti-choice “religious right” of the time.  Koop didn’t take the pro-choice positions that some at the time wishfully said he did in reaction to the anti-choice pressure, he never came out and talked about the psychological benefits it obviously has for many women, but he did say that there simply wasn’t evidence to support the anti-choice position that it causes psychological harm.  What Dr. Drew had to say in this special, like what he’s said overall on MTV vs. what he said in his days previous on Loveline is very similar to what Dr. Koop said when he was in his position as Surgeon General after being appointed by Reagan. 


    It’s good to listen to what Dr. Drew is saying skeptically, as one might have listened to Surgeon General Koop decades ago.  Dr Drew was sympathetic to the women on the “No Easy Decision” special and he’s overall competent and knowledgeable enough to not say blithely that abortion hurts women or that it’s a selfish choice, but he’s also talking in this special to adult women who are very intelligent and at least average in their knowledge and experience of the health care system, and who in some cases already had children.  It truly is mainstream medical practice, and has been for many decades, to say that women in general can clearly benefit from choosing to have abortion for elective/non medically-necessary reasons, it’s mainly though minors and poor women who get the most condemnation for doing that.  There’s more controversy over issues like parental notification and/or consent for abortion, or over low-income women’s right to have an abortion with government funding,  but there shouldn’t be, they’ve got as much right to have an abortion if they want one and not be condemned for it as Markai and similar women have the right – or ought to have the right. 


    Dr. Drew taking the position that women like Markai – or the others on the extended interview now posted to the MTV website — deserve to at least have support and not condemnation on a one-off special at 1130 pm local time (Eastern) is sadly commendable given his history of distancing himself from women seeking abortion – like MTV itself has done on the issue – if not implicitly condemning them on the old Loveline radio show.  It’s still not addressing the reality that most young women like on “16 and Pregnant” would face, it’s at best bringing the network up to the standards of what Dr. Koop might have supported in 1982 when he took office under President Reagan.


    Perhaps if they had aired this special on VH1 instead of MTV, they might have titled it “Welcome to the Eighties.”

    –southern students for choice, athens