The Recession And Contraception Access


The recession affects women of reproductive age and their access to health care and contraception. Also, Bishop Eddie Long is accused of sexual abuse, and activists work to improve HIV health care for women and their children worldwide.

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SNL parodies anti-masturbation  

SPLC on Eddie Long

Eddie Long speaks

Don Lemon speaks out about sexual abuse

Why are health care costs rising?

On this episode of Reality Cast, Adam Sonfield from Guttmacher will discuss how the recession is affecting women’s access to contraception and health care.  Also, a segment on the Bishop Eddie Long scandal, and another on efforts to improve maternal care for HIV positive women and for children. 

Saturday Night Live took on Christine O’Donnell’s tapes from the 1990s showing her denouncing masturbation.

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The whole episode was pretty funny, which makes me wonder if they really do have their groove back.

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Is it just me, or when you see that a major megachurch leader is in the news, you know pretty much immediately it’s going to be a sex scandal.  And it’s probably not going to be some minor sex scandal, like some garden variety adultery.  Who does that anymore?  No, if you see a minister in the news, there’s probably prostitution, underage partners, or an outspoken anti-gay man who is sleeping with dudes on the side.  In this recent scandal with Bishop Eddie Long, you have all three elements, with allegations of coercion to boot.

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Since Rick Sanchez did that report, the number of young men making accusations against Bishop Long has risen to 4.  A couple of cell phone pictures Long took of himself in skin tight workout clothes and then sent to the young men in question have also been released.  Long is a popular preacher, obviously, but he’s also famous for being a really outspoken homophobe.  Really, really outspoken.

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I’ve got the Southern Poverty Law Center report pulled up in front of me, and it quotes Eddie Long saying, quote, “The woman gets perverted to turn towards woman … and everybody knows it’s dangerous to enter an exit! And everybody knows, lady, if you go to the store and buy these devices, it’s Memorex! It ain’t real!” End quote.  The devices he’s talking about are, of course, vibrators and dildoes.  This judgmental, homophobic man is accused of buying teenage boys jewelry and trips in order to have sex with them. 

As usual with sex abuse situations, the accused abuser can expect to have widespread support if he’s a person with any social esteem whatsoever.  And Eddie Long has a huge congregation of 25,000 people, so he’s got lots and lots and lots of supporters.  When he presented a rather self-serving sermon last Sunday, the roar from supporters was deafening. 

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In fact, Long used this whole situation to create a situation where he was greeted like a superhero.  Nothing can make people snap into place like the chance to offer their support to a man they like who’s been accused of sexual abuse.  It happened with Roman Polanski, even though there’s no doubt that he’s guilty as sin.  And now it’s happening for Eddie Long. 

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He compared himself to David fighting to Goliath, which sent Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post straight to the keyboard to denounce these kinds of tactics, saying, quote, “Unlike the bishop, as far as I know, none of the accusers is driven around in a Bentley. Or is constantly attended by a retinue of aides and bodyguards. Or cultivates and maintains first-name relationships with famous politicians, athletes and entertainers.” End quote.  But that’s how it always is with sex abuse situations involving powerful men and not powerful victims.  The accused are rallied around like they are helpless and vulnerable, and the accusers are treated like they’re some kind of all-powerful demons. 

What was really remarkable to me was that CNN anchor Don Lemon broke through the usual nonsense and spoke honestly from the heart about being targeted by a sexual predator when he was young.  First, he played a video of the lawyer of one of the accusers explaining the accusation. 

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And when the members of the congregation he brought on to the show listened to this and said that they didn’t feel that this is really any evidence against Bishop Long, Don Lemon said this:

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The response from one of congregants is that she just doesn’t think of Bishop Long as a pedophile.  And that’s always the problem, regardless of whether he’s guilty.  The problem is that people have an idea of what an abuser looks like, and in real life, abusers rarely look how we imagine them.

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Insert interview

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Lots of good stuff coming down the pipe on TED Talks about HIV/AIDS.  It makes sense, of course, since a lot of global leaders on this issue were in one place at one time for the big UN shindig that recently went down.  I was fortunate enough to get an invitation for a reception for the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health.  I saw a lot of cool world leaders speak, but I didn’t get to see Annie Lennox.  I guess she was too busy, including her time having to do this TED Talk about why she’s chosen to become an activist fighting HIV. 

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Lennox is focused specifically on women and children with AIDS, because women are susceptible to getting the disease, of course, and then passing it on to their children.  According to the SING website, one third of all pregnant women in South Africa are HIV positive, and many don’t have access to the drugs that would help prevent them from transmitting the disease to their children.  This is what happened in this little girl’s case, and what is happening all the time, particularly in places like South Africa where the disease spreads so rapidly. 

As you can imagine, this is a case where things end up a little better than they often do. 

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Lennox showed a picture of the little girl wasting away and then showed a picture of her at a healthy weight, and even round in the face.  She went from a child who barely had any weight on her at all to a child who looks quite normal and healthy.  The drugs they have now really are miracle drugs, but of course the main problem is that so few people have access to them. 

Annie Lennox isn’t the only TED Talker who recently did a great presentation on HIV/AIDS.  Mitchell Besser focused his talk on the social aspects of HIV/AIDS.  The disease is highly stigmatized, as he notes.

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The big social issue that Besser singles out is that in the places where HIV is the worst, particularly with regards to mother to child transmission, there are the fewest medical care providers.  Nurses have to measure their time for counseling in minutes, and frankly it’s closer to seconds.  But the protocol for care is really complicated, and so there’s no time really for care providers to really sit down with people and explain how to take care of themselves, how not to spread HIV, and how to manage their drug regime.  And that’s even in the best case scenario, where the patients can follow what little instruction they get without much trouble.  But in real life, many people face obstacles in their homes and families that make simple sounding instructions quite complicated. 

So Besser imagines the common problem of a pregnant woman who discovers that she’s HIV positive right when she discovers that she’s pregnant.  She gets a quick run down of how to take the drugs and is basically put out on the street, still confused and unable to really imagine how she’s going to perform all the tasks she’s been given.  She faces obstacles that make it hard for her to take drugs that prevent womb transmission.  She feels alone.

And then he explains a solution.

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Basically, they just recruit mothers who have already gone through the process.  The program is called mothers2mothers.  It clearly owes a lot to other patient to patient programs, many started by patients themselves.  You have cancer support groups, for instance.  Or doulas who help women through childbirth.  But what I really liked about this program is that it’s not only helpful to women going through this process, but it’s paid so that counselors are compensated and of course there’s economic stimulation going on. 

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So this economically empowering, it’s psychologically empowering, and it’s culturally empowering. It’s really good to see all this work moving away from seeing disease strictly as a biological thing that is fought through physical interventions, and more towards viewing disease in a larger context.   

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, time travel edition.  Fox News is happy to blame stuff that hasn’t happened yet for stuff that’s happening right now.

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Since the vast majority of the reforms haven’t even begun yet, I fail to see how this works, outside of time travel.  According to the actual experts, though, costs are rising for the same reason they’ve always been rising, which is our aging population and improvements in expensive medical technology.

Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte