Afternoon Roundup: Teen Birth Rate At All Time Low; Natural Childbirth is Moronic

Teen birth rate in the U.S. continues to decline; former anti-abortion leader/Catholic excorcist accused of “inappropriate relations” with women; Florida “Choose Life” law may be re-written; new Lifetime show presents natural chidlbirth as moronic; and the battle over homosexuality all over Africa.

  • I’m not quite sure what to make of this story on so many levels. The former president of the extremist, anti-abortion group Human Life International, Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, is being accused of having “inappropriate relations” with women. I am SO not going to make a snarky comment here about how all anti-choice organizations, in effect, have inappropriate relations with women. The former HLI president is a Catholic priest who…performs excorcisms? I truly am not clear as to why an exorcist was heading up an anti-abortion group or why no one felt, as one commenter on the article notes, that was at all weird? In any case, according to HLI, after one woman stepped forward – a woman under Rev. Euteneuer’s spiritual care – more women have made “allegations” against the Catholic exorcist, according to the Palm Beach Post. What those allegations are exactly I do not know yet.
  • Teen birth rates are at an all time low says the National Center for Health Statistics. 2009 marked the second year in a row that birth rates for teens fell. Between 2007 and 2009 teen birth rates declined 8 percent. According to the Washington Post,”…the rates fell significantly for teens in all age groups and all racial and ethnic groups, pushing the rate for each age group and for nearly all race and ethnic groups to the lowest levels ever reported, according to the analysis.”
  • A re-write of a Florida law governing the state’s “Choose Life” license plates has provoked frustration from both Planned Parenthood and pregnancy centers alike, according to the Florida Independent. The re-write involves directions for where to funnel the funds from the license plates, which now go to crisis pregnancy centers, when particular counties do not have a pregnancy center. The new bill mandates that revenue from the sale of the license plates would go directly to Choose Life, Inc., which would then funnel money to CPCs or use a portion of the funds for publicity purposes:

Current law states that at least 70 percent of the funds made off the plates go to providing for women making an adoption plan for their unborn children. Only 30 percent or less can go to the oft-criticized crisis pregnancy centers that The Florida Independent has found often disseminate misleading information about abortion. But Fasano’s rewrite does away with the 70/30 split, and doesn’t specify what portion of the funds must go to providing for the material needs of women.

“The legislature promised that the funds from these plates would be used to provide adoption resources — to actually increase the number of adoptive homes for children in Florida,” says Danielle Prendergast, public policy director of ACLU Florida. “Now they’re trying to break that promise, and it looks like they want to use the state as a pass-through to fund anti-abortion propaganda. The bottom line is: There’s no need to change the way the funds are used. This is a solution in search of a problem.”

  • Okay, I haven’t seen this show yet but Tracie’s write up on Jezebel about a new Lifetime program, One Born Every Minute, makes me boil anyway. According to her post, the show makes women who desire natural childbirth look like absolutely morons. Writes Egan Morrissey, “It was infuriating to watch as women were admitted into labor and delivery and were immediately pressured by nurses to get started on Pitocin—which was treated as a routine step in the labor process—but not informed of the drug’s potential (and numerous) risks.” Yeah, I can see why that would be infuriating to watch.
  • An excellent artlcle on (Voice of America) says gay and lesbian Africans are “under siege” like never before. All over the continent, there are reports of an increase in discrimination and violence against gay and lesbian people. According to the article, “In most of Africa’s 53 countries, same sex acts are illegal and punishable with long prison sentences.  In some nations, like Mauritania, Somalia and Sudan, gays and lesbians can be put to death if convicted of “sodomy” or “indecent” sexual activities.” At the same time, gay and lesbian Africans are protesting more than ever, fighting for their rights, openly demanding basic human rights for themselves. The issue is, of course, harshly lit as of late by recent events in Uganda where prominent gay rights activist David Kato was murdered recently, after an on-going debate in the country around a new law which would impose the death penalty on those who engage in homosexual activity in the country.

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  • sschoice

    This probably came in too late for your “Afternoon Roundup” but maybe it could make it into a “Morning Roundup.”

    This issue has gotten some coverage before but this seems to be an article worth writing about:

    Officials Consider Requiring Insurers to Offer Free Contraceptives

    The Obama administration is examining whether the new health care law can be used to require insurance plans to offer contraceptives and other family planning services to women free of charge.

    By ROBERT PEAR | New York Times | Feburary 2, 2011

    What maybe will make this more interesting is likely conflict with forces trying to repeal or make regressive changes to health care reform (linked to in a graphic, ironically, in the article above):

    THE OBAMA HEALTH CARE LAW: The Growing Legal and Political Opposition

    More than 20 legal challenges have been mounted against some aspect of the sweeping health law, with the individual coverage requirements fueling a constitutional battle likely to be decided by the Supreme Court.

    …and, irony squared (maybe even cubed?), linked from that page:

    A History of Overhauling Health Care: Nearly 100 years of legislative milestones and defeats.

    …note how the timeline, while spanning nearly 100 years, comes up (at this time and date anyway) centered on this:

    March 21, 2010

    After Abortion Deal, Democrats Secure Victory

    It’s as if health care reform was contingent on restricting abortion rights, huh?

    And yes, that’s where the 100-year timeline is centered, for now, when one clicks on the last link above. With that in mind, let’s speculate just how we might see “Officials Consider Requiring Insurers to Offer Free Contraceptives” actually play out.

    Maybe that could be done, or maybe it would be more likely to be seen realized, if the change in policy could favor coverage of college students at public universities for whom contraception is likely accessable already through campus or community clinics. Or, we might see this favored for insurance coverage for low-income adult women for whom a pregnancy, if carried to term, might likely result in public assistance being required for a baby’s care.

    We don’t see it likely though that the government will likely require insurers to cover contraception confidentially to minors through their parent’s insurance — confidentially meaning without reporting to one’s parents.  At we believe that’s something we think will be easily compromised and denied, to the extent that may be possible at all for now for family insurance to cover that.

    It would be freaking awesome if we didn’t have to worry about private insurance covering contraception at all for poor women and minors. We THOUGHT that was something that public health clinics and Title X funds were supposed to be for, but one hardly hears anymore about trying to increase funding for that to cover many more young and poor women.

    If this measure passes without affirming and hopefully building on what coverage there is for confidential provision of prescription contraception for minors as well as poor women, we can only expect to hear less of such advocacy in the future.

    If you think that won’t happen without a fight, let’s just say we not only think it will require a fight but a fight to PREPARE for a fight, like a fight was what would have been needed to move towards making emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter in the latter years of President Clinton’s administration.  It would have been possible to have begun serious moves to do so with PREVEN, the EC formulation that was on the market, but there was no political will and negligible movement support for that, though the need was obvious and in the economic boom pre-2000-dot-com bust nonprofits did have money available for that — but instead there was a focus on partisan politics and the looming 2000 elections.  Movement work on making EC OTC didn’t begin in earnest the Bush administration was well underway and 9/11 had passed, and it was obvious that there would be no way one could expect the Bush administration to support making EC available OTC to minors.  It was only after the FDA issued a “not approvable” letter in May 2004 in response to Barr Labs request — we’ll assume honestly but naively — for the FDA to approve Plan B for OTC sale to minors of any age that there was “outrage” from the movement and many in the mainstream press that the Bush administration wouldn’t do so:

    Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces Discussing Plan B Emergency Contraceptive

    Nov 18, 2005

    Think that “we” the movement didn’t know for sure that this would happen? One can give the benefit of the doubt to the least experienced among us who care about minor’s access that some of us literally didn’t know enough of history to forsee that moving to make EC available OTC for all ages under the Bush administration wasn’t possible, at least not without a serious effort beforehand engaging public support to do so.  But if this matters at all to the movement as a whole we ought see serious moves from the grassroots to do so under a pro-choice Democratic administration.

    And — if not to make EC available OTC to minors — wholeheartedly move to make PRESCRIPTION birth control, freaking PRESCRIPTION birth control more accessible, confidentially, to minors?

    We forgive inexperience, but forgiveness brings with it an expectation that one learns and shares knowledge especially with the younger generation of subsequent experience.  

    If not, we’ll still sympathize with fellow advocates who are outraged at anti-choice restrictions, and we’ll try to find the nicest way to say “we all really ought to done more.”

    And we will add, we hope as kindly and authoritatively as Hannah Arnedt tried to explain to the youth of her day:

    “And we knew.”

    –southern students for choice, athens