On March 26th, 2013, The House Federal and State Affairs Committee opened at 8 a.m. the hearing on HB 2324—a bill summarized by the meeting minutes as “prohibiting an abortion of an unborn human individual with a detectable fetal heartbeat.” The hearing closed that day and now having been heard successfully in committee almost a year ago, the bill awaits to see if it will be introduced to the floor of the legislature for a vote, a vote imbedded in the divisionary politics and varying allegiances at play within the “pro-life”/anti-choice legislators, lobbyists, and activists in the capitol.
There are multitude of anti-choice organizations in Kansas (and even more groups that actively work for anti-choice causes) but the five main anti-choice organizations in Kansas are “Kansans for Life” (KFL); “Kansas Coalition for Life” (KCFL); Operation Rescue (OR); “Right of Life of Kansas, Inc. (RTLK); and the “Kansas Republican Coalition for Life” (KRCL). Often the media outside the state seems to portray the Kansas anti-choice movement as being wholly united in their efforts to eliminate access to choice, not only within the state, but also in the country. This sentiment seems particularly emphasized considering the fact that Governor Brownback stated when he was campaigning that, “if a pro-life bill got to [his] desk, [he] will sign it.” Last year he did sign a “sweeping abortion omnibus bill.” But, in fact, the anti-choice movement is not as united as it may seem in Kansas. Some are concerned that disagreements over fetal heartbeat legislation may produce a division marking some as “moderates” and extremists within the anti-choice movement. But this isn’t a mere ideological divide—it’s a divide that deeply implicates the power in Topeka. [...]
We had some good news out of the White House recently — President Obama just released his version of the budget this week and in it he gives some major attention (and money) to comprehensive sex education!
I’m especially excited about President Obama’s five-year re-authorization and maintenance of funding for the Personal Responsibility Education Program, an education initiative for young people to help prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, specifically for youth who are homeless, in foster care, or who come from areas with high levels of teen pregnancy, including youth of color. He also proposes increases in funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, which helps to prevent unintended pregnancies in teens and support teen parents in communities around the country. [...]
I have a Diva Cup. I am not a hippie. These two statements often times seem mutually exclusive. This millennial is happy to let you know that they are not. My “feminine care” products story goes like this. First, there were pads. (Good girls use pads, they don’t use tampons, a family member used to say.) Then I got older and decided if using tampons meant I wasn’t “good,” then I didn’t want to be good. So I made the switch to tampons. I liked tampons enough. My experience with them was better than my experience with pads. And for a while I thought that was it. Until I discovered Diva Cup by accident one day. For those of you who don’t know, a Diva Cup is one of many reusable menstrual cups on the market. So what’s so great about a menstrual cup?
1. Convenience: You can wear a Diva Cup for up to 12 hours. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. You can wear it for a full work day (for some at least). This is where the caveat comes in. If you are a heavy bleeder, like I was pre birth control, you will have to empty your cup. However, if you’re not a heavy bleeder, you can wear it in the morning before you go about your day and not have to worry about emptying it till you get back home in the evening. I bet you can’t do that with your pad or tampon. [...]
In 2013, I had the very interesting experience of spending five days in a mental institution. I’ll be really upfront and say that it extremely different from what movies and TV make it out to be like. I mean, there wasn’t even a Native American trope to rip a sink out of the wall.
But I did learn some really interesting things while in that hospital. I learned a lot about myself, and the causes I fight for. I learned a lot about how people see women in conjunction with mental wellness. And I learned that even though a bunch of people are in a mental hospital, some will still find time to be sexist dickbags.
2.) It’s Really Subtle (And It’s Everywhere)
I was one of the younger patients. By far. The oldest person in the adult wing was 72, the youngest was 18 and was only born three months after me. So the aggregate of people in this hospital was immensely diverse. It was a tossed salad of minorities, including people of different races, sexualities, faiths, economic backgrounds, and ideologies. [...]
It’s that time of year – when college campuses and communities host The Vagina Monologues. This is the third year I have been involved with my Choice USA chapter’s production of The Vagina Monologues. The Vagina Monologues is the play written by Eve Ensler, inspired by interviews with over 200 women about anatomy, sexual violence and intimate partner abuse, sex work, birth, and other issues among women*.
Unlike other years, I am feeling more and more conflicted about my chapter’s involvement with the play and V-Day. This scathing and incredibly poignant critique of the play has still stuck with me the last few weeks. Basically, Eve Ensler’s cissexist, white feminist point of view has been inadequate for feminists everywhere. This is something my chapter members and I have discussed extensively since my involvement with the production, and we make it a point to create a conversation about it. The problems of the play are widely known among the young feminists I know outside of campus as well, and yet we still produce it, year-after-year. [...]
San Antonia Express
Thank you. I don’t even think a thank you can express a fraction of how I’m feeling. It’s a kind of I want to run up to you and give you a long embracing hug as I cry in your shoulder kind of thank you. I’ve been a Texas southern boy my entire life. No, a gay Texas boy and I never thought in my young life that I would live to see today. As I see other states pass sweeping legislation granting a right to love, I never thought Texas would be nearing equality.
I remember last summer when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. I was in my accounting lecture and was browsing through my Facebook feed on one of our breaks. Status upon status of the news and I grabbed all my belongings and stormed out of the classroom. I ran upstairs to a quiet study room, fell to the floor, and cried. I cried because the first time ever, I felt like a person. I felt like I existed. I think so many queer folks that day shared a similar experience that straight people will never understand. Something so small like a right to marry the person we love meant so much to us. [...]
Sex education in schools has been a contentious topic for a long time. A poster in a Kansas middle school brought up it up again after a parent became enrage that his child was being educated about “explicit” topics . Many schools in the country are failing to correctly teach children about contraceptives and safe sex, defaulting to the “Abstinence is King” philosophy. This led me to examine how the education I received about sex affected my relationships.
When I was in eighth grade, my parents were given the option of letting me take an Abstinence-Based Health class or Abstinence until Marriage. Both of them focused on abstinence being the best method of preventing unintended pregnancies. The only difference was that when contraceptives were discussed in the Abstinence until Marriage (AUM) class, they were talked about in relation to their failure rates. To my parents, AUM seemed liked the best decision because it sounded good. Of course no parent wants to think of their child being sexually active at thirteen. [...]
On Wednesday, February 19th, Ohio legislatures passed Senate Bill 238 and Senate Bill 205. SB 238 “would reduce the number of absentee-voting days by six — from the current 35 days before an election down to 29 days before an election. (Absentee ballots for men and women in the armed forces and for overseas voters would continue to be available 45 days before an election.)” SB 205 “would forbid any public official except Ohio’s secretary of state from mailing out unsolicited applications for absentee ballots”. Governor Kasich has signed both.
Instead of 35 days, Ohioans now have 29 days to cast a ballot before an election. 29 days is not bad. Some states don’t allow that much. True. But that doesn’t make SB 238 any less terrible. The right to vote is very important. We should be doing everything in our power to make voting easier and accessible. Cutting back the number of days that people can vote early is not promoting the right to vote, it limits it. [...]
In 1969, in the early hours of June 28th, in a small corner of New York City, police raided Stonewall Inn. It’s been close to fifty years since that day and a lot has been lost and convoluted to fit the more dominant discourse of queer activism. Now, I am not claiming to be an expert on the Stonewall riots in any way. But let me be clear about what I do know. I do know that a budding concept of trans* identities were coming to fruition in the late 1950s and 60s. And that a lot of these people, men, women, and non-binary, began their transitions through drag.
And I do know that on June 28, 1969, it was a black drag queen that picked up the first brick and gave us the modern LGBTQ movement. And as a black queer woman, I will never ever forget that. [...]
This past weekend I was lucky enough to get the chance to attend the fourth annual Take Root, a reproductive justice conference focused on red states. It was a whirlwind time in Norman, Oklahoma, meeting fellow Midwest and Southern folks who understand the particular difficulties in organizing for RJ in a red state. I especially loved how Take Root –walking the walk and not just talking the talk of reproductive justice (as unfortunately often happens) — put women of color, lower-income folks, and queer people at the forefront of the conversations.
But beyond all the feminist warm and fuzzies that make my heart go all-aflutter, I was particularly struck by one panel “Reproductive Justice Off the Coasts” which featured a bevy of badass activists. And, I was most especially struck by one organization that was represented on the panel – Faith Aloud, an organization that describes itself on its site as “the religious and ethical voice for Reproductive Justice.” It was the Rev. Rebecca Turner that spoke on the panel, and though she only spoke for a few minutes, she said something that hit me hard with truth, because it’s a truth I personally struggle with.
“If you’re doing reproductive justice work and you’re not including people of faith, that’s why you’re losing.” [...]