I am 16 years old and already have a 7 month old baby. My son has a lot of health problems, he was born with a lung disease and has holes in his heart. I recently found out I was pregnant again and I’m not for sure how to go about it. I’ve only told one person and that’s my older sister. I know for sure that I do not want to keep the baby but I don’t have enough money for abortion and if I tell my dad it could turn out very bad. I live in Kentucky, and I am trying to figure out how to go about a judicial bypass and an abortion but I need help with money.
Heather Corinna replies:
I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s health problems, Faith. It’s hard enough being a very young parent without the rights of an adult, let alone doing so when your child has serious health problems. It also seems like you might not have a very supportive family, so from the sounds of things, you’ve had it really rough for a while now. I really want that to change for you. I’m going to offer all I can to help you with what you want help with here.
As it sounds like you already know, in your state you can’t obtain an abortion as a minor without the consent of at least one parent or guardian or without a judicial bypass. That’s not something impossible, it is often doable, but if you do think you can get a legal guardian or parent’s consent safely, then I’d suggest you do try that first. That is certainly the more efficient route, and is often easier in most ways.
I don’t know what you mean when you say that if you told your father, things could turn out very badly.
If you mean you already are, would be or might be in danger of abuse, I’d strongly encourage you to contact social services. In KY, the hotline for child abuse or neglect — the child in this case being you, the child of your parent or parents — is (877) 597-2331. I suggest that because if you’re already living with abuse or under threat of abuse, I want you to at least find out about your other options so you don’t have to live that way if you don’t have to. I don’t want you to have to live in danger, and no matter what happens with this pregnancy, it may be you have other support and living options you don’t know about and which might mean a better way for you and your son to live moving forward, maybe even starting right this very second.
Too, if disclosing this pregnancy to your father, or asking him for permission for an abortion is something that would put your safety or life at risk, then by all means, that is NOT something you want to do. Instead, it will be safer for you to contact other helps first and explore your other options, which I’ll give in detail for you in my answer.
Read the rest at Scarleteen here.
Unwanted pregnancies are a fact of life. Globally, nearly a fourth of all pregnancies are unplanned and 22 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. Women experience unwanted pregnancies because they have forced sex, (worldwide, one in three women are survivors of sexual violence), they don’t have access to contraceptives, or they simply didn’t plan on becoming pregnant.
Women who have unwanted pregnancies should be respected and their rights to choice upheld. However, in many countries, government policies, and societal practices do not uphold women’s right not to continue a pregnancy and women with unwanted pregnancies are forced into motherhood. Certainly this is evident in the United States; just before the new year, the governor of Virginia quietly signed legislation designed to close abortion clinics in the state. These laws often punitive, restricting women’s reproductive autonomy and freedom and creating categories of who can and can’t obtain abortions.
Fortunately for women, pills have changed the landscape of abortion. Abortion with pills, also known as medical abortion (MA), provides a safe, low-cost and easy to use method to terminate pregnancies. In addition to being safe and effective, medical abortion has changed the dynamics of who can provide abortions, where women get them, and who has control over the process. Evidence shows that those closest to women—community health workers and midwives—and women themselves can be trained to use abortion pills to safely terminate a pregnancy, thus giving women back the control of their own bodies. In fact, it was women in Brazil who first discovered the potential of misoprostol (cytotec) to safely end an unwanted pregnancy and who shared this knowledge through their social networks.
Read the rest at RH Reality Check here!
Walgreens, already the largest drug retailing chain in the US, is to expand into the global marketplace with the takeover of Alliance Boots in the UK.
It may have work to do on its reputation among female consumers, however, as it has repeatedly come under fire from US reproductive health activists for not doing more to ensure individual pharmacists abide by federal laws to provide emergency contraception.
At a national level, Walgreens, which has thousands of stores across the US, complies with FDA’s regulations on contraception and other healthcare provisions. But its name has become associated with a disturbing trend among pharmacists who have refused to provide over-the-counter emergency contraception to men buying it for their female partners.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said they had received a number of complaints from men who have had their requests for emergency contraception refused by pharmacists in Walgreens.
The group complained to Walgreens several times in 2010, and received what they described as an “encouraging response” from the parent store, saying they had distributed a bulletin telling all its stores that emergency contraception can be sold to men and that a male customer need not be accompanied by a female customer. But since then, there have been other cases.
Read the rest at The Guardian here.
From the developing world to the UK, the statistics are clear: teenagers who miss out on education are more likely to have sex younger, less likely to use contraception, and more likely to get pregnant.
A survey carried out as part of the 2001 census in the UK showed that fewer than half of teenage mothers were going to school when they got pregnant. About a quarter of boys and a third of girls who left school at 16 with no qualifications did not use contraception when they first had sex, compared to only 6% of boys and 8% girls who stayed on till 17 or over and got qualifications.
A 2008 study of 38 mostly poor, developing countries found that 15- to 17-year-old girls who were enrolled in school were less likely to have had sex than girls who weren’t in education. Nearly 13 million adolescent girls give birth each year in developing countries; a girl growing up in Chad is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to attend secondary school, according to the IPPF. But if a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, on average she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
Leaving school also affects chances of picking up STIs: studies of HIV in Africa and Latin America have found that education lowers women’s risk of infection and the prevalance of risky behaviour.
Without the natural hub for young people that is created by school to rely on, how do sexual health professionals ensure the most vulnerable teenagers get much needed education and access to services?
Read the rest here.
P.S. This is one of the many reasons providing quality online sex education is so very important.
An innovative computer-based intervention for depressed young people, developed by researchers from The University of Auckland, has been shown to be at least as effective as standard treatments mainly comprising face-to-face therapy.
A research team led by Associate Professor Sally Merry developed and trialled the intervention called SPARX with the aim of giving young people easier, lower cost access to treatment.
In a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) they assessed the effectiveness of SPARX in 24 sites around New Zealand, including youth clinics, schools and general practices. Half of the young people participating used the new game and half received standard treatment through their doctor, school counsellor or other provider. SPARX was shown to be at least as good as the standard treatments.
Read the rest here.
New CDC data show a leveling off of the number of middle and high schools that are teaching their students about how to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.
Researchers analyzed data from 45 states in 2008 and again in 2010. They asked the principal and the head health teacher at each school how often they taught students about specific topics pertaining to the prevention of HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy.
According to the study, the percentage of middle schools teaching 11 topics on HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention in 2010 was lower in 11 states and higher in none compared with 2008 results.
There were widespread differences across the states as to what they did and did not include in their sexual education curriculum. For example, the importance of using condoms consistently and correctly was taught in 26.8% of public high schools in Utah and 96.6% of high schools in Delaware in 2010.
“Little progress has been made in the proportion of middle and high schools that offer education on the prevention of HIV, many STDs, and pregnancy,” says study author Laura Kann, PhD. She is a researcher at the CDC in Atlanta. “We are heading in the wrong direction.”
Read the (depressing) rest here.
In ongoing censorship of the internet, Pakistan has blocked access to Scarleteen, a sex education website geared towards teenagers.
In an alarming development, the website that has provided sex education and support worldwide since 1998 has apparently been banned as part of the PTA’s attempt to shut access to all pornographic content to Pakistani internet users.
Scarleteen, which was established by author, activist, feminist and internet publisher Heather Corinna, was set up to be an “inclusive, healthy, and sex-positive sex ed resource for teens” online.
According to a review by Common Sense Media, Scarleteen, “includes information that’s geared toward younger teens (articles about self-esteem and puberty) as well as more “adult” topics that aren’t normally addressed in sex-ed classes (like sexual pleasure). The site identifies as feminist and pro-choice and explains its philosophy as “a nonjudgmental and unbiased attitude of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding for young people, whether they choose to be sexually active or not.”
The government has recently cracked down on content that is deemed offensive, blocking up to over 13,000 pornographic websites and was also considering certain words in SMSs.
The judiciary and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had taken action against porn websites by blocking or banning access to them in the country, following multiple petitions filed by the citizenry.
One of our users in Pakistan let us know about this today, and we can’t express how very much this stinks.
Every day, we have many users who come for education from countries like Pakistan, who are in great need of accurate education about their bodies and sexuality and often have little to no other ways to safely access that information.