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Déjà Vu: Guilt Trippin’

A gal finds herself pregnant, looking for some advice. She finds a pregnancy counseling center, thinking they will give her accurate, nonjudgmental advice about her options. She has a tough decision to make and she wants some facts and medical referrals. Imagine her surprise when the "counselor" calls her a murderer for considering abortion and gives her inaccurate information intended to intimidate and scare her into continuing her pregnancy.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Sounds an awful lot like what Congressman Waxman discovered about crisis pregnancy centers in the United States – that they accept federal funds and then give biased, inaccurate advice. Only, this scenario and others like it are happening in Australia.

A report released by the South Australia Government's Pregnancy Advisory Centre says that "various bodies and agencies, both private and public, have given women false information on the physical and mental health risks of abortions." But that's no big deal, right? I mean, it's not like pregnancy is a decision that can completely change a woman's whole life. No, wait… it is.

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More Like Plan V…

This must be plan V… or at least plan P for the Bush administration.

After repeatedly politicizing emergency contraception, pressuring the FDA into going against recommendations by their own scientists, and trying in vain to establish Andrew von Eschenbach's independence, Bush finally decided to try something different. During Monday morning's press conference, Bush stated:

"I believe that Plan B ought to be — ought to require a prescription for minors, is what I believe. And I support Andy's decision."

Wait – did I just hear that correctly? Listen to that little space between what he said… right there – the part where he implied Plan B ought not to require a prescription for adults.

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What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Always Stay in Vegas

This week, a Ugandan pastor was in Las Vegas giving talks about AIDS. Martin Sempa is a long-time AIDS activist who credits abstinence-only programs and Christian values (like fidelity and matrimony…not so much care for the vulnerable) for Uganda's success in the fight against AIDS.

Now you may be thinking: AIDS… International activist… wait a second – why wasn't he in Toronto at the International AIDS Conference? Oh yeah, it's because "hatred of motherhood and the family, a pathological fear of fidelity and sexual continence and loathing of traditional Christian values are the defining forces in the international fight against AIDS" – not a place for a guy like Sempa.

Avoiding Toronto because of expected hostility to his message, Sempa spoke from Las Vegas. Maybe you've heard of it? City of casinos, nude dancers, Elvis impersonators and quickie weddings, nicknamed "Sin City." Seems like kind of a funny place for a pastor to take haven from those wacky International AIDS activists and speak out about "Christian values" and preventing HIV, doesn't it?

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Solidarity in Toronto

Isn't it amazing when different social movements work together in peace and justice? This past week, 2,000 hotel employees in Toronto voted to authorize a strike, but after considering the havoc this would wreak on the HIV/AIDS conference (you know, the one that we keep gabbing about) they instead deferred the strike and declared their solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Show Me the Lies

Missourians will be able to vote on the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative this fall, since it was certified by the MO Secretary of State on Tuesday. Supporters gathered more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, despite lies put out by the opposition.

Focus on the Family sent out over 90,000 brochures to Missouri residents, with quotes from women's organizations to strengthen opposition to the stem cell initiative. When the Center for American Progress contacted several of the women's organizations, they said their quotes had been taken out of context in order to misrepresent their views. In fact, these women's organizations are supportive of stem cell research. They do NOT think it is "exploiting women in the name of science" as the brochure says. Looks like Focus on the Family was exploiting women's health advocates!

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Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

It seems like for the past several years Americans have become more polarized by a great divide deepening between the right and the left, conservative and liberal, red states and blue states. The myth of a dramatic culture war has become pervasive in the popular consciousness. But that's exactly what it is – a myth.

A poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center shows that most Americans fall in the middle on many hot issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and other controversial social issues. Though the country is still split on the topic of abortion (51% think it should be available compared to 46% who think it should be illegal), 66% of Americans believe that we need to find a middle ground. This solid majority willing to consider opposing views comes from a varied background – including different religions, political party, race, age, and geographical location.

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Syringes in Sacramento

Public health advocates in California have been working to prevent the spread of disease among injection-drug users by making needles available at pharmacies without a prescription. Unfortunately, when the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors had the opportunity to legalize sales of needles last year, they gave in to misinformation and fear that increasing access to clean needles would increase drug use. Studies have found that increased syringe access decreases infection such as HIV and Hepatitis C – not that it encourages people to do more drugs.

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Decision-making in the Dark

When a government agency makes a decision, they complete an unbiased analysis based on scientific data… right? I mean, the FDA decides whether Americans have access to various medications – so one would think that they must really be grounded in science and not be influenced by little things like politics. No?

Court documents recently released by the Center for Reproductive Rights confirm that FDA officials decided against approving Plan B for over-the-counter use WELL BEFORE the data review was finished by agency scientists.

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The View Erupts Over Plan B

"Everybody has strong opinions… There are many other arguments people could give you. I think the most important thing, which is what we see here today, is we've got to be able to have these discussions and listen to other people's opinions and not go so crazy," said Barbara Walters, host of The View, after a segment she introduced to discuss Plan B was high-jacked by the anti-choice passion of guest panelist and GOP pinup Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

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Don’t Believe the Hype

Editorial Note: With this post RH Reality Check welcomes its newest staff blogger, Tyler LePard. Tyler has worked in and volunteered with a variety of reproductive health organizations, as well as in other progressive causes. She has her BA from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Public Policy from George Washington Univeristy. We are pleased she has joined our team and we know you will look forward to reading her posts.

If you happened to read a press release from Instead Sciences, Inc. on Business Wire a couple of days ago, you may have gotten very excited about the first approved microbicide about to hit the market. But hold on a minute – settle down and prepare for disappointment. This was just a misunderstanding – a tweaking, if you will, by some PR people.

When Tommy Thompson (the Chair of Instead Sciences, Inc.) said "Amphora — which already has FDA safety clearance for human use — is in the best position to be the first approved microbicide", apparently what he really meant is that Amphora has been approved as a sexual lubricant… and that they might know something about its effectiveness in preventing infection (such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea) by the year 2010. MAYBE.

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