Women versus Men in the 2016 election

The image below (original source unknown) is outrageous and politically incorrect. But it’s also funny and insightful.

Women versus men in support for Hillary or Trump

The gender-divide in the support for Hillary versus Trump is extreme. As of mid-October, Hillary was ahead by 20 points among women, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, while Trump leads among men:

Looking inside the numbers of the two-way horse race, Clinton holds a 20-point lead among female voters (55 percent to 35 percent), while Trump is ahead among men by just three points (48 percent to 45 percent).

Clinton also has the advantage among African Americans (86 percent to 9 percent), non-white voters (76 percent to 16 percent) and those ages 18-34 (54 percent to 36 percent).

Trump, meanwhile, holds the edge among independents (41 percent to 36 percent) and white voters (51 percent to 40 percent). But there is a difference among whites: Those without college degrees prefer Trump by a 56 percent-to-36 percent margin, while those with college degrees break evenly between Trump and Clinton, 45 percent to 45 percent.

Some Trump supporters may think that men who vote for Hillary are being henpecked into voting for her (as the image above suggests).

Just as racial bias partly explains the opposition to President Obama, gender bias no doubt partly explains the opposition to Hillary.

Of course, Trump’s mistreatment of women, and his frequent insulting and degrading comments towards women, offended many people.

The majority of voters are women (at least in Washington State). Let’s hope women save us from Trump and from GOP control of the state senate.  In the 41st LD, both state representatives are women (Clibborn and Senn).  If Lisa Wellman can defeat Steve Litzow, women will make a clean sweep and that may be enough to flip the senate.

Why women — especially older women — rule in Washington State

Out of the 4.6 million registered voters in Washington State, 2.4 million (51.9%) are female.

Out of the 3.4 million active registered voters (meaning they’ve voted since 2012), 2.4 million (52.8%) are female.

Women rule — or at least decide who rules — in Washington State.

Furthermore, older people vote at much higher numbers than younger voters.     The following graph shows the number of registered voters by age of birth.

Voter Registration in Washington State

There are drop-offs for elderly people born before 1950, for the newly eligible people born since 1990, and for the double dip around 1970 — presumably the generation between the baby boomers and their children.  But aside from these drop-offs, the number of registered voters is rather flat.  However, the number of active voters (who have voted since 2012) shows a marked preference for the older voters:

Voter Registration in Washington State, for active voters

Young people need to vote more!

(Note: I gathered these stats from the voter registration database that I downloaded from the Washington State Secretary of State’s office.)

If we consider elderly active voters, the bias towards women is more extreme.  There are 799 thousand active female voters who were born before 1960. There are 703 thousand active male voters born before 1960.   So 53.1% of active elderly voters are female.

Some other interesting stats: King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties have over half the registered voters in Washington State.  Female voters outnumber male voters 711 thousand to 673 thousand in King County.

Here are the numbers of registered voters by county.

| CountyCode |  # Regs  |     Percent of total |
| KI         |  1386134 |              29.8783 |
| PI         |   534848 |              11.5287 |
| SN         |   494310 |              10.6549 |
| SP         |   332249 |               7.1617 |
| CR         |   301612 |               6.5013 |
| TH         |   192481 |               4.1490 |
| KP         |   180618 |               3.8932 |
| WM         |   149761 |               3.2281 |
| YA         |   121799 |               2.6254 |
| BE         |   111978 |               2.4137 |
| SK         |    78947 |               1.7017 |
| CZ         |    70074 |               1.5105 |
| IS         |    60167 |               1.2969 |
| CM         |    54836 |               1.1820 |
| LE         |    49506 |               1.0671 |
| GY         |    47050 |               1.0142 |
| CH         |    45999 |               0.9915 |
| GR         |    45724 |               0.9856 |
| MA         |    40770 |               0.8788 |
| FR         |    38318 |               0.8259 |
| WL         |    36834 |               0.7940 |
| ST         |    32640 |               0.7036 |
| KS         |    26991 |               0.5818 |
| JE         |    26713 |               0.5758 |
| WT         |    25873 |               0.5577 |
| OK         |    24325 |               0.5243 |
| DG         |    21702 |               0.4678 |
| AS         |    16504 |               0.3557 |
| KT         |    15786 |               0.3403 |
| PA         |    15230 |               0.3283 |
| SJ         |    13506 |               0.2911 |
| PE         |    10116 |               0.2181 |
| SM         |     8097 |               0.1745 |
| LI         |     7402 |               0.1596 |
| AD         |     7175 |               0.1547 |
| FE         |     5170 |               0.1114 |
| WK         |     3231 |               0.0696 |
| CU         |     3011 |               0.0649 |
| GA         |     1780 |               0.0384 |

Though King County has lots of registrations, its turnout is lower than many other counties. Here’s a table showing turnout by county (again, voters are those who have voted since 2012).

| CountyCode | Active  | Registered | Percent turnout |
| SJ         |   11667 |     13506  |     86.4%       |  San Juan County
| LI         |    6238 |      7402  |     84.3%       |  Lincoln County
| JE         |   22170 |     26713  |     83.0%       |  Jefferson County
| CU         |    2468 |      3011  |     82.0%       |
| GA         |    1445 |      1780  |     81.2%       |
| WK         |    2585 |      3231  |     80.0%       |
| CM         |   43310 |     54836  |     79.0%       |
| ST         |   25683 |     32640  |     78.7%       |
| FE         |    4064 |      5170  |     78.6%       |
| SK         |   61914 |     78947  |     78.4%       |
| IS         |   46750 |     60167  |     77.7%       |
| OK         |   18873 |     24325  |     77.6%       |
| PA         |   11811 |     15230  |     77.6%       |
| WM         |  115759 |    149761  |     77.3%       |
| KS         |   20795 |     26991  |     77.0%       |
| CH         |   35344 |     45999  |     76.8%       |
| MA         |   31242 |     40770  |     76.6%       |
| SM         |    6197 |      8097  |     76.5%       |
| BE         |   85388 |    111978  |     76.3%       |
| WL         |   28073 |     36834  |     76.2%       |
| PE         |    7678 |     10116  |     75.9%       |
| LE         |   37463 |     49506  |     75.7%       |
| KI         | 1046928 |   1386134  |     75.5%       |
| KP         |  136283 |    180618  |     75.5%       |
| KT         |   11876 |     15786  |     75.2%       |   King County
| SN         |  370888 |    494310  |     75.0%       |   Snohohomish County
| WT         |   19396 |     25873  |     75.0%       |
| SP         |  248881 |    332249  |     74.9%       |
| DG         |   16072 |     21702  |     74.6%       |
| AD         |    5229 |      7175  |     72.9%       |
| TH         |  140214 |    192481  |     72.8%       |
| PI         |  388218 |    534848  |     72.6%       |   Pierce County
| CR         |  216499 |    301612  |     71.8%       |
| CZ         |   49609 |     70074  |     70.8%       |
| GY         |   33155 |     47050  |     70.5%       |
| YA         |   85157 |    121799  |     69.9%       |
| GR         |   31583 |     45724  |     69.1%       |
| AS         |   11031 |     16504  |     66.8%       |
| FR         |   25400 |     38318  |     66.3%       |

The following image shows turnout by zipcode in Washington State.
Turnout by Zipcode in Washington State

Earlier this year, in How does voter turnout vary with income?, I showed the degree to which wealthy people vote more  than poorer people.  I reproduce the relevant graph below. (Click on it for a larger version.)

Voter turnout by median income

There is a trend in the graph: the richer zipcodes (on the right) tend to have higher turn out (towards the top). That’s why the graph tends towards the upper right. There are exceptions — zipcodes with lower income and higher turnouts.

You can also see to which voters tend to be older and female from the following chart from the Secretary of State’s office, showing voter turnout in the 2014 election:

Age     Gender  Number of Voters
18 - 24 years   Female  174801
18 - 24 years   Male    167837
18 - 24 years   UnKnown 376
18 - 24 years   Total   343014
25 - 34 years   Female  331861
25 - 34 years   Male    304675
25 - 34 years   UnKnown 410
25 - 34 years   Total   636946
35 - 44 years   Female  322444
35 - 44 years   Male    300368
35 - 44 years   UnKnown 369
35 - 44 years   Total   623181
45 - 54 years   Female  365392
45 - 54 years   Male    343584
45 - 54 years   UnKnown 345
45 - 54 years   Total   709321
55 - 64 years   Female  392350
55 - 64 years   Male    359749
55 - 64 years   UnKnown 372
55 - 64 years   Total   752471
65 and over     Female  461011
65 and over     Male    396921
65 and over     UnKnown 414
65 and over     Total   858346
Grand   Total   3923279

In short, older people, rich people, and females tend to be the people who vote most.

According to the Secretary of State’s Voting Participation Statistics, in the 2012 elections, 60.8% of the voting age population voted. In the midterm elections of 2014 only 39.5% of eligible people voted.

Peeling Back the Polished Pro-Woman Surface of Prolife™ Rhetoric

anti-abortion-protesterProlife leaders trying to convince the world that they are actually pro-woman have failed to convince even their own followers.

For years now, the professional class of abortion foes has been working to polish the Prolife brand, claiming that they are not mere fetal fetishists but actually protectors of women, who are being exploited by profit-hungry abortion doctors. They bolster their pro-woman positioning with false claims that abortion causes cancer (it doesn’t), or sterility (it doesn’t), or death (it’s a hundred times safer than carrying a pregnancy to term), or that women regret their abortions and suffer depression (as with any major life decision, some do; but most experience relief).

Even ignoring the disinformation, just beneath the thin layer of chivalry lies a toxic stew of religion, sexism, and judgmental certitude. Religious right politicians seeking to regulate abortion out of existence with bogus safety laws may have memorized their lines, but rank-and-file believers keep saying what they really think.

The Comment Thread Conundrum

Like most writers, I send articles to a variety of outlets, but I also cross-post to my own website, where religious conservatives and abortion foes not infrequently send me an unedited earful. (Do the people ranting or even making threats not realize that I have editorial control at my own site?) I don’t always publish such comments, but I do keep them, in part because they so clearly illustrate the dark underbelly of religious conservatism and its obsession with controlling sex and reproduction.

Consider a few of the recent tidbits:

  • “These clinics are greedy and if a woman leaves there is no profit for them. Most of these women could meet a mother that desperately wants a child and would provide their baby with a great life, but these women are too self-absorbed to care about that. These women don’t want anyone knowing they were pregnant and gave their baby up, they would rather murder their child to save face.”
  • “Sorry but nothing justifies abortion that’s why god condemns premarital sex in the first place because of its consequences if everybody obeyed gods rules instead of doing what they want there would not be any unwanted pregnancies or children being born out of wedlock or any other things I doubt that the majority of abortions are of women use birth control and the birth control failed that’s why the bible says that are going to see good as something bad and the bad as something good that’s why the world is so messed up today because the wicked one is misleading the entire earth.”
  • “You are nothing but a wicked woman who loves to murder babies. You are a Satanist, a Devil worshipper. I pray for you to trust in Jesus and be saved, Valerie. I pity you because you will one day face a HOLY GOD named the LORD JESUS CHRIST who created those babies and those children who you advocate for the mass murder of. To support abortion, aka, baby slaughter, baby murder, is to be complicit in it. God can forgive you if you will trust in His eternal Son the Lord Jesus Christ and His shed blood atonement alone, Valerie.”
  • “Abortion should be illegal and the participants charged with murder and punished.”
  • “Shooting an abortionist is as “wrong” as shooting a sniper on the roof of a school, you do what you have to do to save the lives of children, both born and unborn.”

Once Set in Motion . . . .

Prolife™ leaders may cringe and seek to distance themselves from comments like these, or from the prayer circles and rosaries and gauntlet of hell-threats outside of abortion clinics—or worse, from stochastic terrorism like the murders at Colorado’s Planned Parenthood. But ordinary Evangelicals and conservative Catholics really can’t be blamed for their difficulty in getting the branding right.

Many have been taught from childhood that every fetus is a teeny weeny baby, and that God values each from the moment of conception. Scientifically or statistically this may be implausible, but it’s black and white, beyond question like other points of theology. Some abortion opponents—most—retain an intuitive sense that the difference between an embryo and a child is morally consequential. But others simply follow that line of thinking to its logical conclusion: An abortion provider is a sniper on a school roof. A woman aborting a pregnancy might as well be drowning her preschooler in a bathtub. The only possible explanation is that those who disagree lack morals or are in the thrall of Satan.

The Fruit of the Prolife Spirit

One of the New Testament writers made the mistake of saying that Christians would be known by their “fruit,” meaning their actions and the consequences of those actions. If this is the case, the motives and morality of ProLifeTM Christians are laid bare not only by their own ugly words and behavior but by the fruit of their relentless, obsessive campaign to obstruct abortion access while simultaneously denying prospective parents the information and contraceptives needed to time their pregnancies. Pro-woman? Guess again.

  • Over 200 women in the U.S.—and over 200,000 globally—dead each year from an unsought pregnancy.
  • Millions more with permanent changes to health or mental health.
  • Pregnant teens and young women forced to drop out of school, floundering for years or decades instead of flourishing.
  • Fragile families locked into deeper poverty by mistimed and unwanted fertility.

Underlying all of this is the foundational assumption that women don’t know what is best for them and their families, can’t know what is best, can’t be trusted as autonomous moral agents—which is why God put men in charge. Women were made for childbearing. The Bible says so!

Not Gender Justice, Not Social Justice

If there’s one thing that can be said for the ancient texts gathered in the Bible, it is that many of them have a strong social justice message. Prolife leaders, recognizing this, often claim that they are advocating justice for the most vulnerable members of society, which includes children and racial minorities as well as women. They relentlessly link abortion with genocide or with the misguided eugenics push of the early 20th Century, proclaiming for example that Black babies are in particular danger of being aborted. (Poor Black women do abort somewhat more than white women but also carry more pregnancies forward because of a higher rate of pregnancy.)

In reality, families living at the hardscrabble edges of life are those most negatively affected by the Religious Right’s obstruction of family planning services.

I was in Singapore when my husband and I discovered that my first trimester pregnancy was infected with Toxoplasmosis. The consequences can be much like Zika, so we decided to abort and start over; and we received supportive, competent abortion care from a Singaporean doctor trained in Canada. Had timely care not been available in Singapore, we could have gone wherever we needed. Our privileged reality is inconceivable for most couples or women facing an ill-timed or unhealthy pregnancy.

Abortions have always been more available to upper and middle class couples than families struggling to get by. Knowing that they can’t control women of means, the Religious Right has doubled down on poor women who rely on public healthcare services, denying them insurance coverage and forcing on them long distance travel and childcare costs that [abortion foes hope will] become insurmountable barriers. In the Pacific Northwest, poor women in need of abortion turn to complete strangers for financial support via a program known as the CAIR Project, one of several “underground railroads” providing housing, transportation and funding for women in need.

Nationally, advocates for poor women and families are fighting through the coordinated campaign All* Above All to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which for 40 years has stripped abortion coverage out of Medicaid. Women of color—long denied the full right to manage their own fertility and disproportionately impacted by this restriction—are taking the lead.

Pro Woman, Pro Family, Pro Child

Not all women and men want children, but for all of us decisions about parenthood are among the most important and life-shaping choices we will ever make.

As parents, we all want to stack the odds in favor of our children flourishing. Those who can, seek prenatal and pediatric care, and provide nutritious food, and read stories, and help with homework, and get up bleary-eyed and go to work, and sock away a little financial buffer. Even men and women whose lives are destitute or desperate, or who are plagued with illness or mental illness, want what is best for their kids.

Religious rhetoric aside, we all know that parenting begins before conception, not at some magical moment when a sperm penetrates an egg. We know that the timing and circumstances of birth can shape the course of a child’s life. Mindful of our own limits, most of us try to time and limit our pregnancies, and we sometimes end them, so that we can bring our kids into the world under the best possible conditions available to us, with enough bounty to thrive.

Real pro-life passion is more than just lipstick on a pig in a clerical collar. It means thinking about what makes life so precious to all of us, regardless of our religion or circumstances. It means doing what we can to create genuine reproductive empowerment so that perhaps, someday, all children will come into loving families who are ready to welcome them with open arms.

Originally published at ValerieTarico.com

Will Unequal Access to New IUD’s and Implants Worsen America’s Economic Divide?

Unwanted pregnancy is contributing to a new “caste system” in America. Is that about to get worse? 

When new and better technologies become available only to people who are already privileged, the rich get richer and opportunity gaps get wider. That’s exactly what’s happening with family planning—and unless trends change, a recent revolution in contraceptive technology may deepen America’s economic divide.

Many factors intersect to create poverty or keep people mired there: racism, sexism, untreated illness and mental illness, hopelessness created by lack of opportunity, structural barriers between social classes, and more. Disruptive, unsought pregnancy and childbearing is one of these factors, both a cause and consequence of poverty. Modern long- acting contraceptives offer women impressive protection, literally toggling the fertility default setting to “off” until a woman wants it on. But as with so many empowering tools, access is least available to those most vulnerable to having their family wellbeing, dreams and opportunities derailed.

The Lucky Ones

My daughters both headed to college in the last two years, along with a flock of friends who have been raiding our refrigerator since middle school. As the children of middle class and professional mothers, many of the girls left home with the best birth control that money can buy—state of the art IUD’s or implants that drop the rate of surprise pregnancy below 1 in 500 annually and last for years. We moms might not be able to prepare our girls  for sexual pressures that didn’t exist back in the day, but we could virtually guarantee that a daughter we loved wasn’t going to have her education and dreams derailed by two pink lines on a pregnancy test.

For both males and females, but especially for young women, being able to reach educational goals and settle into a career before parenthood offers a huge boost to lifelong prosperity. It also stacks the odds in favor of a stable partnership and healthy children who then go on to have healthy, prosperous kids of their own. Strong girls with strong social support can sometimes carve out impressive paths for themselves despite early unexpected pregnancy. But stories of their achievements captivate us because they are heroic—and the exception to the rule.

The High Human Cost of Poor Contraception

Very few young single mothers get pregnant because they actually want to. Even fewer plan and prepare for pregnancy or obtain recommended preconception care. Today, 82 percent of teen pregnancies and 70 percent of pregnancies among single woman under the age of thirty are unintended, and most of those children are born into poverty. The consequences of those pregnancies are enormous: more abortions, less healthy moms and babies, more infant death, more high school drop-outs, college foregone, lost earning potential, domestic violence, repeated disruptions in family structure as young moms try to find reliable partnerships, more mental health problems and anti-social behavior in children, and public budgets stretched to the breaking point as states try to fill in resources and services once provided by stable families.

Guttmacher uniintended pregnancy trendsThe part that’s most cruel is the growing split in who does and doesn’t get hit by the tsunami of hardship linked to ill-timed or unwanted pregnancy–a divide so dramatic that some have called it an emerging “caste system.” In 2008 unplanned pregnancy was five times as common for women below the poverty level as those above.

Across race and class divides in the U.S., young women voice surprisingly similar aspirations regarding when they ideally would like to have kids—how many and under what circumstances. But there the similarity ends. Girls who have grown up with the benefits of financial security and higher education have more and better tools to manage their fertility—and they tend to bring children into the world when they feel ready.Unsought pregnancy - desires by income Brookings

By contrast, girls raised in families that are up against the hard edges of life, those fighting to make ends meet on low wages in rough communities, depend on cheaper and less effective birth control—or crossed fingers—and they often end up with very different lives than the ones they dreamed of. Their desire to get ready before getting pregnant crumbles against a wall of disempowerment: low access to sexual health information, financial barriers to medical care, cultural disruption, racism and classism, a social fabric of low expectations, gender based violence, and more. Unintended pregnancy is the top reason teens drop out of high school, and less than 2 percent of these young mothers go on to complete college by age 30. It’s a formula for multi-generational poverty.

Old Left/Right Solutions Not Working

Isabel Sawhill is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a centrist think tank. Sawhill may be best known as proponent of marriage. In a series of books and monographs over the course of 40 years, she has extolled the economic advantages of stable partnerships and the benefits to children of two parent families, lining up research evidence to support her claims. But more to the core, Sawhill is an advocate for flourishing children, and in her latest book, Generation Unbound, Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage, she concedes that interventions aimed at promoting marriage and preventing divorce are not the answer. They simply don’t work. Family formation in the U.S. is changing, and there’s no going back.

Liberal analysts might say we told you so, but their solution—more social services and financial support for struggling single moms—hasn’t worked either. For every child lifted out of poverty by such programs, more are born into fragile families with the odds stacked against them. Today nearly half of births in the U.S. are paid for by Medicaid, and that number is rising. In Sawhill’s words, “To reduce poverty, we must slow down entries into poverty, not just speed up the exits.”

What else can we do to ensure that children are born when parents are ready? How can we enable young people to find their place in the world before they find themselves changing diapers? How can we buy them some time so that they can create stable partnerships for co-parenting before the stork arrives? A partial solution lies in the highly effective easy-to-use birth control methods that let me send two daughters off to college, confident that if they began to explore their emerging sexuality, or if they used poor judgment at a party, or if god-forbid they got assaulted, they wouldn’t come home for the summer eating for two.

How Revolutionary Contraceptives Change the Equation

My daughters are beneficiaries of a technology revolution in contraception, the biggest leap forward since the Pill became available in the 1960’s. The current technology shift is a transition from every-day or every-time methods like the Pill and condom to long acting reversible contraceptives known for short as LARCs. LARCs include hormonal and non-hormonal IUD’s and contraceptive implants.

Pills and condoms work great in the lab, but in the real world where most of us live, they produce annual pregnancy rates of 1 in 11 and 1 in 6 respectively, mostly because it’s so hard to use them consistently and perfectly. Pills and condoms are way better than the desperate measures taken by our ancestors (Metal pessaries? Weasel testicles? Eew!), but the statistics are still painful. After 50 years of widely available pills and condoms, half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and despite the shame and stigma, 1 in 3 women has an abortion at some point before hitting menopause.

With a LARC, surprise pregnancy becomes truly surprising. Annual failure rates range from 1 in 500 to 1 in 2000, depending on the method. The game-changer is that long acting contraceptives toggle the fertility default to off until a woman wants it on. No one method works for everyone. But once an IUD or implant is settled into place, ambivalence, intoxication, impulsivity, sexual coercion or general life chaos no longer puts a young woman on the path to premature parenthood. Pregnancy is opt-in rather than opt-out.

When she is ready, a woman who wants a baby simply has her LARC removed. (She can expect the same rate of fertility she would have had without it.) Then, immediately after giving birth, she can have a new one placed so that she is protected again until she wants another child. LARCs that are provided in the hospital at the time of labor and delivery are called “bedside LARCs.” They are safe for breastfeeding and help to prevent rapid repeat pregnancies, which tend to be higher in risk because a new mother’s physical reserves are low. Bedside LARC is the cutting edge of contraceptive care.

Fair Access Essential to Narrow Inequality

Middle and upper middle class teens and women are making the transition to top tier long acting contraceptives and reaping the benefits, but “the best birth control money can buy” has a high up front cost, as much as $1000. For many emerging adults, coming up with that kind of cash is unimaginable. The Obamacare contraceptive mandate may eventually make these life-changing technologies available to all with no surcharge. Large scale research suggests that when this happens a high percent of teens and women will choose LARCs for themselves and the rates of teen pregnancy and abortion will plummet. In the meantime, religious and political conflict, coupled with outdated medical practices and other bureaucratic challenges means that top tier methods are not consistently available to young and poor women—in other words, those who are the most vulnerable to ill-timed pregnancy and least able to take the hit.

The fortunate young women I have watched growing up can pursue their dreams with a high level of confidence that they won’t get derailed by a surprise pregnancy. For a young  woman relying on pills or condoms or her boyfriend’s ability to pull out, that simply isn’t true. Unless we want to see America’s economic divide grow wider and deeper, we need to ensure that reliable, state-of-the-art family planning options are equally available to emerging adults from all stations in life.

Originally published at ValerieTarico.com

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Find it at Radical Women’s organizing meeting

Connect with a multi-racial group of feminists looking to change the world! Take part in updates and discussions on the effort to stop Seattle Housing Authority’s rent-raising “Stepping Forward” plan. Analyze the movement to defend Marissa Alexander, a Black mother going on trial in Florida for defending herself against domestic violence. Learn about other campaigns and activities. Get involved, you are needed!

Thursday, November 6, 7pm
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New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave S., Seattle
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For info, rides or to reserve childcare:  206-722-6057

Pediatricians Give Thumbs Up to Game Changing Birth Control for Sexually Active Teens

Every year more than 750,000 American teens become pregnant, and over 80 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned. That may be about to change. If teens take to the latest wave of birth control technologies the way they’ve taken to cell phones, unplanned pregnancy could go the way of landlines and stretchy handset cords.

On October 2, the American Academy of Pediatrics published updated practice guidelines for medical providers serving adolescent patients. The new guidelines endorse three kinds of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) including state-of-the-art IUDs and implants that are total game changers when it comes to unintended teen pregnancy.

These methods have been slow to arrive in the United States, largely because of an early defective IUD that caused infection and injury during the 1970’s, traumatizing women, doctors, and regulators. But since that time, later generations of long acting contraceptives have become the norm in other countries. No one method works for everyone, and any contraceptive decision requires that a young woman and her medical provider weigh any risks of a given method against other methods or none at all, meaning the health and life risks of pregnancy.  Nevertheless, in 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists finally gave long acting contraceptives a strong endorsement for Americans including young single women. Since then research has been piling up, confirming that LARC methods are safe and effective for teens.

In St. Louis between 2008 and 2013, 9000 women including 1400 teens were offered the contraceptive of their choice at no cost, and 72 percent chose a LARC. Teen pregnancy and abortion rates plummeted. This summer a teen pregnancy prevention program in Colorado announced equally impressive results. Between 2009 and 2013, Colorado’s teen pregnancy rate dropped 40 percent, with 75 percent of the decrease coming from areas in which low- or no-cost LARCS had been made available through public clinics. The program, funded by a $23 million grant from an anonymous donor, saved the state $42 million in teen-pregnancy related health care costs in 2010 alone, including a decrease of 35% in abortion procedures. And whether we measure the benefits in terms of flourishing families or state budgets, that’s just the beginning.

Here is why a little bit of “intrauterine bling” or “bicep bling can make such a difference:

Think of fertility as an on/off switch. When a female hits adolescence, her defaut setting toggles to ON. For the next four decades, over 400 cycles, if she doesn’t want to get pregnant she will have to keep switching it back off or else use some kind of sperm barrier whenever she has sex. Pills and condoms work pretty well if they’re used perfectly—but who’s perfect? In the real world, 1 in 11 women relying on the Pill gets pregnant each year, and 1 in 8 couples counting on condoms ends up facing a big surprise. For sexually active teens the statistics are worse.

Don’t go looking down your nose or wagging your finger. Condoms may be a decent fit for the average penis, but every-day and every-time contraceptives are a rotten fit for the human brain. In technical terms, they get a big fat “D” on human factors engineering. To be sure, condoms are the best thing we have going to prevent sexually transmitted infections, and they’re way, way better than nothing when it comes to preventing pregnancy. But people wait too long or leave them on too long, or stretch them too tight, and they sometimes slip; and then, to quote Lena Dunham’s hilarious scene in Girls, there’s “the stuff that gets up around the sides of condoms.”

As for the Pill, it’s almost impossible for ordinary imperfect human beings to take any medication at the same time every day for weeks and months and years and decades on end. Forgetfulness, fights, finances—you name it—life provides an endless grab bag of distractions and barriers, to the point that only fifteen percent of women miss three or fewer pills each month. (It’s not just you, and like I said before, teens are even worse at it.)

Again, in the real world, pills are far more effective at reducing pregnancy and STI’s than alternatives like withdrawal, barriers, fertility monitoring, or abstinence commitments. But, Pills simply don’t compare to “set and forget” methods like IUD’s and implants that toggle the fertility switch to OFF for 3-12 years at a time, or until a woman feels ready for a baby.

No one method works for everyone, and each LARC has an adjustment phase, but once things are settled into place, the annual pregnancy rate drops below 1 in 500 for the least effective, the copper IUD. For the most effective, the implant, that number is one in 2000. Compare that to the 1 in 5 annual pregnancy rate for young couples using withdrawal or the 4 in 5 pregnancy rate for those counting on crossed fingers. The difference means young women (and young men!) can dream big and then put their energy into pursuing those dreams rather than angsting about missed periods.

Speaking of Aunt Flo, shorter, lighter, fewer periods is one of the reasons that some teens are opting for a LARC even before they become sexually active. Heavy cramps and bleeding are a top reason teen girls miss school, but a hormonal IUD reduces cramps and bleeding by, on average, 90 percent by the end of the first year. For a girl with problem periods that can make the difference between regular attendance and chronic absenteeism. For a young athlete it can be a literal game changer. And given that most youth are sexually active for six months before seeking birth control, non-contraceptive benefits like these can open up timely conversations about reproductive health before the first scare or accidental pregnancy.

Today even teens who do use birth control rely mostly on older, less effective methods; only 4.5 percent have a LARC. But health providers and even schools are working to get out the word about new options and to make better birth control accessible for all. If they succeed, more young women will be using their cell phones to text friends about homework assignments instead of abortion services or maternity care. Having a big thumbs up—and some actual practice guidelines—from the top professional organization of U.S. pediatricians can only help.

Originally published at AwayPoint

Orgasm, Inc. The Strange Science of Female Pleasure

Orgasm, Inc.

This humorous documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look into the ploy by pharmaceutical companies to create a new disease for profit – “female sexual dysfunction.” It illustrates how people are manipulated into thinking they have a physical problem to increase revenues for Big Pharma.

Open discussion will be kicked off by Susan Traff, a licensed mental health counselor, who is passionate about bringing awareness to this issue.

Friday, August 8, 7:00pm
Snack plate with vegan option at 6:30pm for $7.00 donation. Door donation $2-5.

New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave S., Seattle
On the #7 busline or six blocks southeast of the Columbia City light rail station.

Sponsored by: Radical Women

For information, rides or to reserve childcare: 206-722-6057 RWseattle@mindspring.comwww.RadicalWomen.org

Inspire Seattle, March 8 — Women Under Fire: Abuse in the Military

InspireSeattle invites YOU to join us at our Social Forum: Saturday, March 8th at 6:30PM.

Main discussion topic for this evening: Women Under Fire: Abuse in the Military

There is an extraordinary culture of violence and sexual abuse committed within the U.S. Military. Sarah Blum’s book, Women Under Fire: Abuse in the Military, is a stunning revelation of sexual abuse in the U.S. Armed Forces. As Blum’s book makes scathingly clear, this criminal activity–demeaning, degrading and despicable – and is far too prevalent in each of the armed services. Action is needed–comprehensive, effective and swift–before sexual abuse rips out the very heart of the military.

Sarah Blum will share how she came to be writing this book, share what she learned, the data, the problem of reporting sexual assault in the military, retaliation, the failure of the military justice system to deal with these cases, the cover up, leadership and command failure, share some of the women’s stories and what must be done to end this scourge.

Please join us for this important discussion!

Guest Speaker: Sarah L. Blum:

Sarah Blum, is a decorated nurse Vietnam veteran who earned the Army Commendation Medal serving as an operating room nurse at the 12th Evacuation Hospital Cu Chi, Vietnam during the height of the fighting in 1967. Sarah was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for exemplary service as head nurse of the orthopedic ward at Madigan Army Hospital in 1968, where she was also the assistant director of nursing on evening and night shift in 1970. She received her Bachelor’s Degree, Summa Cum Laude, from Seattle University and her Master’s, Cum Laude, from U. W. and at age 74, Sarah is still a practicing nurse psychotherapist with over 29 years experience working with PTSD and trauma resolution.

Sarah was one of the first two women elected to the National Board of Directors of the Vietnam Veterans of America in 1983, and she was active in veterans affairs and successfully lobbied Congress to study the connection between Agent Orange and birth defects in the children of women Vietnam veterans.

Sarah’s first Op Ed “Sexual Abuse in the Military Needs to be Brought to Light”, was published July 12, 2012 in The Seattle Times and her second,”Sex Crimes Continue to Plague the U.S. Military,” was published in Truthout on January 15, 2013. Sarah’s guest editorial, “Support the Joint Memorial,” appeared in the July 12th, 2013 issue of the Auburn Reporter. Her authentic passionate voice reverberates through the pages of Women Under Fire: Abuse in the Military and the sequel, Women Under Fire: PTSD and Healing. www.womenunderfire.net

Come join us for what should be a very important and interesting evening!!!

About InspireSeattle:

InspireSeattle is a progressive network of Seattle-area people sharing ideas and supporting action. InspireSeattle’s vision is to create connection throughout our community and better community through activism. InspireSeattle’s mission is to provide a fun, supportive gathering for people who care deeply about our community, our country and our planet. We embrace progressive policies that improve our society and protect our environment. We discuss current issues, share ideas and activism efforts while striving to inspire additional action. Subscribe (or unsubscribe) to InspireSeattle by visiting www.inspireseattle.org/contact.html.

When: Saturday, March 8th at 6:30PM. Please try to be on time!!!

Where: Jim Simpson’s home (Seward Park), 5236 S. Mayflower, Seattle 98118 Tel: 206-450-5834

Directions: (easy to find!) http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?formtype=address&addtohistory=&address=5236%20S%20Mayflower%20St&city=Seattle&state=WA&zipcode=98118%2d2537&country=US&geodiff=1

From the North: I-5 south past Safeco Field to Albro/Swift Exit. Go left on Albro, then right on Swift, then left on Graham (all of these intersections are within a block of each other). Take Graham St. eastbound (about 3 miles) past MLK & Rainier Ave. until it dead ends on Wilson. Left on Wilson, through the next stop sign on Orcas. Go another 2 blocks until Mayflower St. Right on Mayflower and go to the middle of the second block left hand side of the street.

From the South: I-5 northbound to the Boeing field area. Take Albro/Swift Exit. Go left on Swift, then right on Graham St where there is a stop light. Go eastbound on Graham (about 3 mile) passed MLK and Rainier Ave until it dead ends on Wilson. Left on Wilson, through the next stop sign on Orcas. Go another 2 blocks until Mayflower St. Right on Mayflower and go to the middle of the second block left hand side of the street.


It’s a potluck: so please help out and bring something to eat and to drink!

6:30 to 7:45: Social time! Eat, drink, relax, and catch up with some other local progressives

Formal discussion and guest speakers, 7:45 to 9:30

Other Announcements – got any?

Rules of Engagement!

1. So that everyone has a chance to participate, please keep your comments short

2. Raise one’s hand to ask a question in lieu of shouting out

3. Respect the points of views of others

4. No arguing of politics during the formal discussion – save that for afterwards!

Nov 27 in Seattle: a feminist look at the TPP free trade monster; Nov 7: organizing

Thursday, November 21, 7:30pm • Dinner 6:30pm, New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle
4 blocks south of S. Alaska St. at the Hudson stop of the #7 busline. Near the Columbia City light rail station.

A feminist look at a looming free trade monster: The Trans-Pacific Partnership

How are capitalist trade pacts impacting women and workers around the world? Learn what’s at risk from this latest imperialist love fest that pushes privatization, targets food production, and undermines global access to low-cost medications. Let’s talk about how to create a global economy run for people, not profit. Come strategize about how to stop the TPP before it’s fast-tracked down our throats. Presentation by environmentalist and social worker Hilary Bowker. Seasonal supper, with vegan options, served at 6:30pm for $8.50 donation.

For more info or to arrange childcare: 206-722-6057 • RWseattle@mindspring.com www.radicalwomen.orgwww.facebook.com/rwseattle

Thursday, November 7, 7:30pm • Dinner 6:30pm
Get engaged with socialist feminism!

This Radical Women meeting will focus on grassroots activist organizing. Learn about campaigns such as defending victims of domestic violence, fighting for the basic needs of working and poor people, and building women’s leadership. Hearty home-style dinner, with vegan options, served at 6:30pm for $8.50 donation.

New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle
4 blocks south of S. Alaska St. at the Hudson stop of the #7 busline. Near the Columbia City light rail station.

For more info or to arrange childcare: 206-722-6057 • RWseattle@mindspring.com www.radicalwomen.orgwww.facebook.com/rwseattle