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Contraceptive Sponges Available May 30, 2009

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article here.

At one time the Today Sponge, a spermicide-coated polyurethane barrier placed in the vagina to inhibit sperm, was the most popular form of over-the-counter birth control for women. Now, a new distributor is introducing it again this weekend, hoping to reclaim that status.

Introduced in 1983, the sponge first disappeared from drugstores in 1994 after some manufacturing problems. It reappeared in 2005 under new ownership, which spent millions to promote the brand before selling it to another company. That new proprietor declared bankruptcy in late 2007, taking the Today Sponge out of production last year.

Left stranded were any number of loyal devotees who describe themselves as “sponge fans,” eagerly awaiting its latest comeback.

Sexy Spring in Minnesota May 16, 2009

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for anyone who plans on being in the midwest region this june, y’all should try to go to Sexy Spring in Minneapolis. 

Sexy Spring is a radical, sex/body positive sexual education skill-share and conference focused on exploring the ways sex, sexuality, gender, relationships, communication, health, our bodies and our choices affect our lives through workshops, art, discussions, performance, play, demonstrations, storytelling, networking, etc. 

Sexy Spring is a product of the people who organize it and the people who come to it. It seeks to attract a large and diverse collection of perspectives. A skill-share is based on the idea that learning to understand each others’ experiences is more important to making meaningful changes in ourselves and our world than accumulating knowledge from so called “experts.” We all have things to teach each other. Sexy Spring is a venue for these exchanges.  

i’m supposed to be helping organize this thing, but hardly since i haven’t been in available for any of the meetings, and might not be able to make it there, but from the bits i have seen being put together, it’s going to be really great. they’re actually looking for people to facilitate workshops and skillshares, and so if you’re interested in that, check out their website for a proposal form. 

this will be june 5-7th, probably on the university of minnesota campus. check out their site for updates as the arrive.

obama cuts abstinence-only education from 2010 budget May 8, 2009

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read article here. i would write more, but i’m finals-ing. will return to this! read the article, though, and contact your representatives to tell them to support the president’s decision. easy easy form for that here.

more sustainable sex info May 3, 2009

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how to green up your sex life 

i had forgotten about this site, but i was answering someone’s question about vegan condoms and safer sex and while using it as a reference, i was taken back to what a wonderful resource it is (the treehugger site in general, not just this link.)
going back to the earlier post on greener condom use, there are really many, many things you can do to make your sex life more sustainable. read the site to get more ideas, or search around the web for more options.

changes May 1, 2009

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Since taking office, the president has shown his commitment to women’s health care on a wide range of issues, from repealing the global gag rule, restating his commitment to protecting a woman’s right to choose, creating a White House Council on Women and Girls, expanding access to affordable birth control, and calling for evidence-based, medically accurate sex education.

read full article here.

i would argue that he hasn’t really done…enough? as much as promised? but that his presence in washington, whether as a liberal leader or for his individual beliefs, has sparked so much change in gender, reproductive, and equality legislation. i feel like most of the positive changes that have happened and are happening have been at either the state level, or through the legislative branch.
yay for our country lately! (we still have a long way to go.)

this is our secretary of state April 25, 2009

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yay! she’s impassioned and knows what she’s talking about, she’s logical, and politely but strongly countering arguments. this is the most articulate i’ve heard any politician lately.

Plan B in Post Bush Times April 24, 2009

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It isn’t very often that you find a write-up of Plan B in the national press that is positive, or doesn’t inaccurately call it a form of abortion for ideological or sensationalized reasons. When I opened the Times this morning, I felt insanely empowered not just that this piece existed, but that for once the issue at hand wasn’t ideologically focused, but instead where many agree it should be- on women’s health and access to an important family planning tool that is a necessary component of personal sovereignty.  In this view, the FDA lowered the age of  access to Plan B from eighteen to seventeen a few months ago and it is likely that the push will continue to remove age restrictions restrictions altogether.

Quick Plan B Facts:

– Plan B should be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse to be most effective, but can be taken up to five days after unplanned sexual intercourse.

-Plan B is an over the counter drug, and typically costs between $50 and $55 at drugstores. However, college students and those deemed to have a financial need can consult their college health centers or a reproductive health clinic, such as Planned Parenthood or Tapestry.

-Plan B, also known as the morning after pill, consists of two pills taken in a sequence (either together or about twelve hours apart)

-In February 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature ordered that Walmart, which operates 44 stores in the state, carry Plan B, and fill the prescription of all women that come seeking the drug. Massachusetts became the second state to do so after Illinois in 2005.

– In 2006, under Congressional pressure, the F.D.A. relented and made Plan-B available to women without a prescription

– March 23, 2009: A judge orders than Plan B be made available to women seventeen and above, lowering the age of consent one year. It is interesting to note that many states have an age of sexual consent of sixteen  or seventeen.

Plan B in the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/24/opinion/24fri3.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/opinion/25wed2.html?scp=4&sq=&st=nyt

oral contraceptives reduce muscle mass in women? April 21, 2009

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article here

 

“According to the researchers, “We were surprised at the magnitude of differences in muscle gains between the two groups, with the non-[oral contraceptive] women gaining more than 60% greater muscle mass than their [oral contraceptive] counterpart.” ”

 

I’m not really a conspiracy theorist, or super paranoid about things like this, but i’ve always have a problem with the negative health effects that some forms of birth control can have, and that they only affect women… i’m going to stay objective and not go off on a rant, but i will say that…if i were going to write a science fiction book about a misogynistic society that is controlling women through certain social norms and expectations, i would definitely include a pill that caused certain things to keep women down, like reducing their muscle mass or keeping hold on when they can conceive…

in other mass-commercialized-ways-of-controlling-women’s-bodies news… check out this ad.

The Uncertain Future of Tapestry Health April 20, 2009

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From the April 16, 2009 Edition of the Valley Advocate

Tapestry Health may well be one of the best models for the future of American health care, at least in the sense that it has been very successful in its street-level, community-based approach to servicing populations in need. Founded in 1973 as the Family Planning Council, the organization has focused primarily on reproductive health, but has also by extension branched out into areas of public health such as psychological counseling and the spearheading of a pioneer needle exchange program in Northampton, one of four such programs launched in Massachusetts in the mid-’90s. Now in its 13th year, the exchange, while controversial, has proven to be a significant success.

Despite its sterling record of real-world functionality and statistically demonstrated efficacy, this organization, too, has found much of its funding in the crosshairs of Beacon Hill budget-slashers. Tapestry reports that on January 28, 2009, “Governor Deval Patrick released his recommendations for the FY 2010 budget year, recommending over 68 percent in cuts to statewide comprehensive family planning services funded in the Department of Public Health (DPH) budget. This recommendation is in addition to the governor cutting these services by 16 percent this year in October through his 9C powers [see Fig. 2 for detailed numbers]. This cut will eliminate services to over 98,000 low-income women, men and adolescents who are uninsured and underinsured and dismantle the program’s 70 sites statewide.” The organization tries to add some straight-up fiscal logic to its plea for funding as well, citing data that shows that “every $1 invested saves over $4 in Medicaid costs for prenatal and newborn care.”

According to a recent report by ABC-Channel 40’s Shannon Hegy, “the budget cuts have already forced Tapestry Health to suspend its family planning services at its locations in Great Barrington, Athol and North Adams,” a sobering fact confirmed by Tapestry Health President Leslie Tarr Laurie. And Tapestry is also moving its headquarters.

Laurie has some hope that a bit of federal money will begin to help offset the dramatic state cuts, though such systemic changes will likely take a while to enact as the new administration sniffs out all the leaks and prepares to patch whichever ones it can. At the time she spoke to the Advocate, she was leading an effort to lobby folks to voice concerns, via a public comment period, to try to change some Bush-era “conscience regulations.” These were put into place to try to force entities like family planning organizations to hire people who fundamentally disagree with their positions on several key issues—a sort of imposed quota system—to assure that agents of socially conservative agendas could infiltrate the groups and perhaps run interference on controversial services or procedures.

Tapestry employs about 120 workers in the Valley, and all of them have been scrambling to continue providing services with fewer and fewer resources.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to have some private beneficiaries who strongly believe in our mission,” Laurie acknowledged. “Without them, we’d be in much worse shape.” Still, she admits that like all the nonprofits in the state, Tapestry is anxious about the approach of July 1, the beginning of the state’s fiscal year and the moment of truth when the actual budget is rolled out for public inspection.

“The federal fiscal year turns around in October,” Laurie notes. “That leaves a lot of organizations worried about what you do from July to October if your state funding’s been cut.”

RHAs now offer free, anonymous pregnancy tests! April 19, 2009

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If you are a student at Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, or Smith, you can email freepregtest@gmail.com with your college box number, and you will receive a pregnancy test within the next mailing day.