Many among us are fortunate to have someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with.  As we do, let’s remember not only the power of love, but also the importance of a social structure that allows love—in all it’s unique forms—to flourish.  
 
For healthy love to thrive in our world, the communication that happens between intimate partners and families is essential.  My book, OOPS! Tales From A Sexpert, provides numerous windows into overcoming challenges of communicating about these issues.   Please remember, though, that that’s not all that is needed: society’s education and health care services are also essential.
 
My hope is that everyone who is fortunate enough to have experienced both love and access to supportive resources will join me this Valentine’s Day in renewing vows to work to protect the rights we have enjoyed for others.  Decades of hard work by countless individuals are currently being eroded at a rapid pace by the current administration, and we need to resist and remain vigilant. 
 
One thing we can do right now* is to take advantage of the comment period on the proposed changes to the HHS and USAID faith-based regulations, which would allow discrimination in the name of ‘faith.’  You can read more about it in the Federal Register’s Daily Journal of the US Government and follow links to comment here, or (more easily) you can use Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s link here.
 
Another thing we can do is to counter some of the destruction that has already taken place in terms of keeping contraception affordable by donating free birth control to individuals who can’t afford it.  Almost 20 million low-income Americans don’t have access to contraception, and the Power To Decide Contraceptive Access Fund is working to help them: “Through BCBenefits, we provide access to free or low-cost birth control methods and appointments (remote or in-person!) to people who have limited income and would like prescription birth control, so that they can decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.” You can read more about it and donate here; $5.00 a month will provide birth control pills to one woman for a month.
 
In the U.S., some states are expanding services that support these issues but other states are cutting them, and the federal government is doing great harm.  For example, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved a waiver submitted by Texas that will severely limit women’s access to family planning services.  Texas already has over 1.7 million women in need of publicly funded family planning living in counties where they lack reasonable access to a clinic that offers the full range of birth control methods.  The CMS approved waiver will only result in more Texas women living in contraceptive deserts.  The concerns are both for the Texans that are without access to these critical services and also that other states will follow suit; the concerns are real and are supported by data.  You can read more about it, and follow links to learn about any state here.
 
Meanwhile, there’s a lot of important work to be done: please pass the chocolate!
 
With gratitude, I wish every one of you a Happy Valentine’s Day, 
Vivian

*Please note that the comment period ends on Feb. 18, 2020.

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.

As we look back on 2019 and look ahead to the New Year, when we focus on reproductive health and rights it can be easy to get discouraged by the current political landscape.  I’ve tried to keep my readers up to date throughout the year with the setbacks the Trump/Pence administration has imposed, but they’ve been so numerous and sweeping that it’s hard to fathom how devastating it is.

But please remember how powerful we can each be with individuals.  Though government continues to make accessing medical and education services more challenging, it doesn’t impact our individual ability to communicate effectively with those we care about.

Numerous readers responded to my blog entry about that amazing mom who communicated so effectively with her daughter. (Thank you all for your feedback!) Readers were touched by her thoughtfulness and her ability to be so lovingly supportive and helpful.  Although that story was about a parent with a kindergartener, it’s a reminder of how influential those loving, one-on-one conversations can be.

When those kindergartners grow up, and the concerns turn to relationships, intimacy, love, and sex, conversations can be tricky in different ways.  It can be challenging to open conversations: to avoid being condescending, to be caring, honest, and helpful.  

Sometimes we can teach ourselves to be better guides to young people we care about by pausing to ask ourselves some important questions.  Did you talk with your mom?  Your dad?  Your partner? If you did, what helped start the conversation?  And what kept it going?  What made it easy; what made you comfortable?  What was helpful?  If you didn’t, what stopped you?  And what about your daughter, son, grandchild, niece or nephew?  Might you want to start conversations with them about love, relationships, sexuality, and contraception?  Do you create a non-threatening atmosphere that says you’re a safe person to come to when they have concerns about any of these issues?

And when it comes to contraception, with the ever-changing landscape of what’s available and the pros, cons, and instructions for each method choice, the information can feel overwhelming.  But I always encourage adults not to shy away from these important conversations and not to postpone them for fear of not knowing the facts about current methods. If you’ve got the skills necessary to seek out answers to factual questions, you can model how to learn; you don’t have to have all the answers to start a dialogue.  Think instead about the big picture.  What impact has effective (or ineffective!) use of contraception had on your life?  What challenges did you/your partner face understanding when you first needed it, how to get it, how to use it, how to communicate with a partner about it, or what to do about side effects or other questions or concerns about it?

When I wrote OOPS! Tales From A Sexpert one of my goals was to model helpful dialogues to adults who interact with young people so that some of these taboo subjects would be more approachable.  So if you have someone in your life that you’d like to have open dialogues with, I encourage you to take the book off the shelf and give it another look.  Also, if you want to discuss it with anyone who lives in or visits your home, it can be helpful to leave it lying around after you’ve finished it as a conversation starter.

I send my best wishes to all my readers throughout this holiday season and into the New Year. May 2020 be the year of 20/20 vision, bringing each of us the clarity we need to create the relationships—and the world—we envision.

With gratitude,

Vivian

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.

“Mommy, can I ask you a question?” Rachel asked as her mom tucked her in.

“Of course!” Mom braced herself.  Rachel usually just blurted out questions, so this intro was a signal that it was probably going to be intense.

“Travis keeps rubbing my tushy and calling me ‘honey’ and blowing me kisses even when I tell him to stop.  What should I do?”

Last week Rachel had said that she was going to marry Travis.  

Mom already knew that Travis often started fights with boys in their kindergarten class, but this was a shocker.  

Mom asked me for feedback, so I started by asking, “How did you handle it?”  

“I’ve taught myself that when I have those moments where the sirens go off inside me and I want to scream and hurt someone, that’s a red flag to do three things.  First, pause, take a deep breath, stay calm and don’t freak out.  Second, in a calm tone, speaking slowly, affirm that I’m glad she came to me.  Third, start by asking questions, and do a lot of listening.”

I told mom I thought that was a great strategy.

She recounted their conversation to me.  She started by asking Rachel, “How did that make you feel?”

“I didn’t like it,” Rachel replied, “I told him to stop.  I even wrote him a letter about it.”

“Good for you.  How do you think I could help?” mom asked.

After a thoughtful pause, Rachel replied, “Maybe you could tell my teacher.”  Of course mom had planned to tell the teacher from the instant she had heard what was happening.

“That’s a great idea.  Then she’ll know to keep a closer eye on Travis.  That’ll help you and everyone in your class.  I’ll email her tonight and talk to her tomorrow.  Can you think of anything else?”

After another pause Rachel said, “Maybe you or my teacher could talk to Travis’ parents.”

“That’s another great idea.  Then they could talk with him the way we’re talking together.  I’ll do that, too, but let’s also practice some things you can do directly.”  Mom affirmed that Rachel has the right not to be touched like that.  She initiated a role-play, guiding Rachel to make eye contact with Travis, point a finger at him and say, with a clear, strong voice, “Travis, you have no right to touch me like that: STOP!”  They discussed it and practiced. 

At the end of their conversation she asked her daughter, “So, with you being prepared and your teacher and all the parents knowing what happened, do you feel better now?”

“Yeah, a lot better.”

“I’m so glad you talked to me about this.  This is so important.”

“I’m glad, too.”

“Goodnight,” they both said with a sweet kiss and hug.

I told mom that I thought she had done a fabulous job in a tough moment. And I explained that I thought the most significant aspect of the story wasn’t anything about Rachel and Travis: it was about Rachel and mom.  The fact that her daughter came to her in the first place is a sign that she’s successfully created that open and safe space that’s so essential for kids to thrive. And the fact that she handled it so lovingly, comfortably, and effectively bodes well for their future. “Stuff like this is going to happen.  We’d like to think it wouldn’t start in kindergarten!  But it did.  The most important thing that happened that night is that your response told your daughter, ‘You can talk to me about anything, and those conversations will help you grow up.  A+, mom!’ ”

I believe in the power of storytelling and learning from each other’s stories.  Parenting is a tough job, and I’m hoping that this mom’s three steps will be helpful to other parents.  I’d love to hear your stories, too.  You can reach me anytime at Vivian@VivianPetersOops.com

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.

October is “Let’s Talk” Month, a month set aside to encourage effective communication with teens about sexuality, love, and relationships.  Communication and accurate information are vital to young people. One email I received about it from Power To Decide intrigued me, so I’m sharing part of it with you:

“Birth control has long been a topic that’s not discussed, and as a result, reproductive health awareness, access, and progress—as well as women themselves—have suffered.
We’re partnering with Simple Health for “Let’s Talk” month and asking you to use your voice to ignite the conversation around birth control access.  If you’ve ever struggled to get your birth control—because of cost, insurance coverage, doctor interference, time off—we’re asking you to publicly talk about it.
Share your story on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #KissMyAccess, and for each tagged post in October, Simple Health will donate one month of birth control to an uninsured woman. 
By talking about it, you’re helping uninsured women get access and inspiring women everywhere to own the conversation.”

What a great idea: taking ownership of the conversation and using that as a vehicle to help uninsured women get access to contraception!   

I believe that for a long time people didn’t talk about contraception because it’s such a private subject.  I’m all for respecting privacy.  However, when “respecting” privacy means not talking openly about contraception—and the importance of everyone understanding it, being able to get accurate information about it, and have access to their choice of method—then that “respect” leads to silence which in turn works against progress; it puts contraception on the chopping block for too many people.  That’s what’s happening in the US right now, and open dialogues are vital for changing that.  So I encourage any of my readers who use social media to share their stories on Instagram or Twitter.

With more than 19.5 million women in the US right now living in contraceptive desert—or a county without reasonable access to the full range of contraceptive methods—it’s critical to support women in need. 

And while access to contraception is vital, there are also other ways that opening dialogues about sex, contraception, love, and relationships can be helpful. I’m always so deeply honored by the feedback I get from readers saying that reading OOPS! Tales From A Sexpert helped them with their own communication.  So in addition to sharing your stories, I invite you to share mine: to celebrate “Let’s Talk” Month, I will send a FREE copy of OOPS! Tales From A Sexpert to the first 5 readers that request them.  Please think of someone you know who’d benefit from reading it and email me at Vivian@VivianPetersOops.com with the name and address you’d like the free copy sent to.  And if you want it signed and inscribed, just tell me the person’s name.   

Thank you to all my readers for all you do to help open important dialogues, in October and in the other 11 months of the year!

Vivian

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.

Since 2007, a number of organizations have partnered in an annual worldwide campaign centering around a global vision: a world in which every pregnancy is wanted.  September 26this World Contraception Day; the mission is to improve awareness of contraception and enable young people—all around the world—to make informed choices regarding their sexual and reproductive health.  What a vital mission!

Fortunately, when we look around the world, committed individuals and organizations have made information about effective contraception and access to it much more prevalent; indeed, there’s a lot to celebrate globally.  Worldwide, increased access to effective contraception enables more people to plan their pregnancies, resulting in lower rates of maternal mortality, newborn and child mortality, and in healthier families and communities. 

Unfortunately, I’m concerned about what’s happening—and what’s going to happen—right here in the U.S.  The recent changes to Title X are making access to accurate information and access to contraception much more challenging for many Americans, especially those with the most limited financial resources.  

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “The Trump administration has punched a massive hole in the nation’s safety-net family planning program…It’s still too early to fully grasp the impact of the new regulations—collectively referred to as the domestic gag rule—governing the Title X program. But available records…indicate that it could be severe…These changes impose coercive standards of care on patients, subvert the nationwide network of family planning providers that Title X supports, and diminish access to affordable care…Each component of the new regulations is harmful. Taken together, the domestic gag rule is blatantly coercive and a violation of medical ethics and patients’ rights.”

Let’s pause this year on World Contraception Day to think about the importance of contraception and about all the behind-the-scenes framework that make reproductive autonomy possible: contraceptive choice, free from coercion; informed consent; confidentiality—especially for adolescents, but also for everyone; and evidence-based standards of care.  If you’ve ever benefitted from this social framework, which people have worked so hard to create, I hope you’ll join me in committing to keeping it alive for future generations.

I’ll close with words by Melinda Gates, from her important book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.
 “…No country in the last fifty years has emerged from poverty without expanding access to contraceptives…contraceptives are the greatest life-saving, poverty-ending, women-empowering innovation ever created.”

Respectfully,

Vivian

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.

The shopping for clothes and notebooks is over.  The dust has settled from the transition of summer vacation to new routines.  Sports teams are formed, clubs are joined, homework times are established; a new school year is underway.

Now is a good time to pause and consider this question: when it comes to sexuality, what do we want our kids to be learning when they go to school? The messages we give our young people—at home, in our community, in our religious centers, in the media—are complimented in school.  If you’re a parent or a concerned community member, here are some questions worth pondering:

  • Do you want your daughter to be told that if she has sex before she’s married, she’ll be like a chewed up, used piece of gum?  
  • Do you want your sons and daughters to be taught that sex outside of marriage is sinful?  
  • If you or anyone you care about are in a same sex relationship, or are living with a partner to whom you’re not married, do you want your child to hear that you’re living an unacceptable lifestyle—from their teacher?  
  • If your teenager wants to learn about birth control, or if you’ve helped your teen obtain an effective method, do you want their teachers giving them information about birth control that is based on scientific research or on the teacher’s religious beliefs?

Perhaps you live in a neighborhood that you see as “progressive”; do you think I’m just talking to people in “other” communities?  If you live in a city, are these just questions for rural America, like the communities I wrote about in OOPS! Tales From A Sexpert?  If your community votes “blue,” do you think these are issues only in “red” states?

They’re not.

Even before the Trump-Pence administration’s radical destruction of the Title X federal grant program, there were no national standards to ensure medically accurate or shame-free sexuality education.  But in the past, Title X education funds ensured medical accuracy.  That’s no longer the case, so even guest speakers from organizations that receive Title X federal funding can’t automatically be trusted.  And from school to school, even within the same district, there is no assurance of either quality or consistency; shame-based speakers are being invited into many schools—even surprisingly “progressive” ones, and they’re funded by our tax dollars.

I encourage anyone who is concerned about this to find out what is going on in your school district and get involved.  You might be surprised.  And please know that it is often a single person taking the time and trouble to find out what’s going on in the classroom and taking action that makes a change.  I know one person who wrote a letter to the school board complaining about a guest speaker, and simply calling it to the school board’s attention resulted in the oversight that the youth deserve.  If you’re feeling frustrated with what’s going on politically regarding sexuality education and access to many sexual health services—including how much harder it’s getting for so many people to obtain birth control—please know that this is one area where a single individual really can make a difference. 

Also, if you’re not registered to vote—or if you have a child who is reaching the age to register—now is a good time to be sure you’re all registered.

Sending my best wishes to all who care about our youth and our communities,

Vivian

Many of the 4 million patients who rely on federally funded clinics through Title X may find themselves unable to get medically accurate information and access to a full range of reproductive health services very soon.  This is unconscionable.  

The Title X program is the only federal grant program for reproductive health.  It was started in an effort to ensure that every American could access high quality and free or affordable reproductive health care regardless of variables such as income, race, religion, education, or geography. It was started under President Nixon (a republican) in 1970 with broad bi-partisan support.  

One of the cornerstones of the program is that it ensures medically accurate information and contraceptive choice; medical providers who accept these grants must comply with the federal regulations.  And federal oversight ensures patients that providers are complying.  Planned Parenthood (PP) affiliates receive Title X money as do other providers; PP serves about 40% of Title X patients. Title X money covers services including annual gynecological exams, pap smears, contraception, testing for STDs, HIV/AIDS, breast exams, pregnancy testing and non-directive pregnancy options counseling; it does not pay for abortions.

It’s a cost effective program: every dollar spent on Title X actually saves taxpayers seven dollars. And the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to make accurate information and effective contraception available to all.

However, the current administration has recently tried to change the regulations, including a ‘domestic gag rule’ that prohibits Title X providers from even referring patients to abortion providers.  The new regulations could also result in faith-based organizations becoming eligible for Title X funds (our tax dollars), and they could steer patients towards certain contraceptive options (such as abstinence and fertility awareness-based methods) replacing another cornerstone of the program: contraceptive choice based on unbiased, medically accurate information.  So the same federal government—our government—that once worked to ensure that all Americans had access to high-quality, confidential, medically accurate reproductive health services now plans to use our money to provide biased services and cut the highly effective services that have been proven to work.  

This is outrageous, and PP, other organizations and more than 20 states have taken the administration to court.  However, a judge last month ruled that while the legal cases are pending, Title X providers must comply with the proposed regulations or stop accepting the funds. PP refuses to withhold any information from its patients and is therefore not accepting the money.

Remember, while these changes will be enormous, they will only affect Title X (government funded) providers; those among us with money and/or private insurance will personally not be affected.  So it will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable: the poor, the young, and people of color.  Absolutely unconscionable.

I’ve been following this ongoing saga for months and I find it horrific.  That said, considering how sweeping the impact of this will be it is alarming to me how little coverage it’s been given by the mainstream news organizations.   

If you are as outraged by all of this as I am, please call your senators even if you’ve already called them, and ask them to protect Title X.  (Below my signature you’ll find their phone number and a sample script.)  In addition, in the short term, you can send donations to your local Title X provider.  Also, Power To Decide recently launched “BCBenefits,” a contraceptive access fund.  You can read about it and donate here.

In addition, please keep this issue on your radar; as you assess potential political candidates, find out their opinion about Title X.  Talk about it with your friends and family.  If you use social media, spread the word, make sure people are aware of what’s going on.  We MUST keep reproductive health and rights for everyone on the front burner, always.  It is fundamental.  And we MUST hold our representatives accountable.

Respectfully,

Vivian

You can call your senator at 1-202-601-3441.  
Before calling, please note that “Title X” is pronounced “Title Ten.”
Sample script:
“Hi, my name is __________ and I live in __________.  As your constituent, I’m calling to urge you to protect Title X from all the proposed changes, including “the domestic gag rule.” These changes threaten access to vital reproductive health care services and education for millions of people across the country. I am also calling on you to use your position and your voice to call all your constituents’ and senate colleagues’ attention to just how important it is to protect Title X without any of the proposed changes.  Please know that I will be watching this issue closely and your actions on this one issue will be critical to me as I face decisions about voting and donating money.  
Thank you for your time.” 

“You are entitled to your opinion.
But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

~ former N.Y.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan 

An article I read last month has been haunting me.  It was in the New York Times Magazine and it shed light on the current state of abortion access in Mississippi.  A clinic escort was escorting a patient into the only clinic in the state that provides abortion services. A protester—who was white—handed a pamphlet to a black woman who was heading for her scheduled abortion. It claimed, among other things, that abortion was “the leading cause of death among African-Americans.”  According to the CDC, it’s not even on the top 10 list.  And a first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and carries minimal risk: Major complications (those requiring hospital care, surgery or transfusion) occur at a rate of less than 0.5%.
 
It’s not simply that the pamphlet contained a blatant and potentially terrifying lie that haunts me; I’ve always known that protesters have a history of giving out misinformation. But this one led me to rethink how we get our information, how other people get theirs, how we all form our opinions, and how that process is currently, rapidly changing.
 
It used to be that when we listened to the news or read the newspaper, even if we read different papers we could see what others were seeing. But the Internet changed all that; Facebook now collects more money in advertising than all American newspapers combined.  And, unlike newspapers, they can show each of us different ads, stories, and links based on our browsing history.  And to make matters worse, there’s no public record regarding what anyone else has seen, and no oversight to ensure accuracy.  So this story got me wondering what those same groups are posting on Facebook. And I’ll never know.  And you probably won’t, either. 
 
So I’m asking my readers to try to think of ways we can ensure that more people base their opinions on FACTS.  For starters, I’m taking a detour today to review some basic information about abortion around the world and here in the U.S.  My hope is that you’ll each sprinkle this information into everyday conversations as appropriate.  There’s a lot on the line right now, especially for those among us living in poverty.  

  • Worldwide, abortion rates have gone down in recent years.  The decrease is almost exclusively in areas that have increased access to modern, effective contraception.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost every abortion death and disability could be prevented through sexuality education, use of effective contraception, provision of safe, legal, induced abortion, and timely care for complications. 
  • Abortion tends to be safer and less prevalent where it is broadly legal than in more legally restrictive settings. 
  • Despite that, here in the U.S., in the first half of 2019, 12 states enacted some type of abortion ban and 6 states enacted legislation that protected or expanded abortion access.
  • Anti-choice activists frequently focus on late abortions, but In the U.S., two-thirds of abortions occur at eight weeks of pregnancy or earlier; 89% occur in the first 12 weeks, and only 1.3% occur at or after 21 weeks.

In that same article about Mississippi, a woman who takes calls from people trying to put together the resources they’ll need to access abortion (money, transportation, childcare), summed up her outlook beautifully.  “A lot of our caller stories sound tragic to other people,” she said. “I don’t think of it as tragic; I think of it as life. What’s tragic is that they don’t have what they need to make their choices without having to come to me.”
 
Thank you to all my readers who do and have done so much to level the playing field in so many ways.

~Vivian

For more information including a current map of the U.S. new legislation, see Guttmacher Institue’s State Policy Trends at Mid-Year 2019: States Race to Ban or Protect Abortion
For global information regarding safe and unsafe abortion, see the World Health Organization’s fact sheet: Preventing Unsafe Abortion
For an overview of Induced Abortion in the U.S., see the Guttmacher Institue’s Fact Sheet

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.

“I want to help people; I just don’t want to have to deal with them.”  Those were my friend’s daughter’s words when she came home from college to visit, years ago.  She was explaining to me why she had changed her college major and her vision for her own future.  Instead of continuing in pre-med, she decided to pursue a career as a medical researcher. She had been studying advances in the history of medicine, and realizing the great impact she could potentially have on an enormous number of people while doing work that fascinated her.  I remember being so impressed with her levels of motivation, social awareness, self-awareness, and honesty.
 
I’ve been thinking a lot about scientists and particularly medical researchers this week. So many of us thank our doctors when we have face-to-face visits with them, and our pharmacists when they fill our prescriptions.  Yet we never have face-to-face contact with so many medical researchers who made their work possible; we never get to thank them.  And other than the handful who are granted prestigious awards, they’re rarely recognized.

Yet they’re the ones who have cured so many diseases, prevented others, and made it possible to live with others.  Unsung heroes.
 
Many of them are working on testing drugs, developing vaccines, and trying to find cures for HIV, cancer, blindness, birth defects, Parkinson’s and dementia, in which they rely on the unique use of fetal tissue in their medical research. 
 
The Trump Administration recently announced that the federal government would sharply curtail federal spending on much of this vital medical research, mainly by ending fetal-tissue research within the National Institutes of Health.  Lawrence O. Gostin, a professor specializing in public health law at Georgetown University, said the new restrictions would ‘devastate’ crucial medical research…’The ban on fetal tissue research is akin to a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life-threatening and debilitating diseases. It will also severely impact the National Institutes of Health, universities and other researchers, who will lose key funding for their laboratories and their vital work.’ “*  According to a letter from dozens of scientific and medical groups, “Claims that other cells can be used to replace fetal tissue in biomedical research are patently incorrect.”*
 
Although it would bother me if any president cut any vital medical research for any reason, I find it particularly disturbing and offensive when the reason is so hypocritical.  According to the official announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services, “Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration.”* 
 
The idea that cutting research that could cure cancer and that did contribute to the cure for polio is “promoting dignity” is appalling. 
 
The role of science and scientists throughout human history is remarkable.  This is just one of many areas in which the current administration is disregarding established science in setting policy, placing political motives above science. When you vote, and when you speak to others about the importance of voting, I hope you’ll join me in remembering the important role scientists play in all our daily lives—in our health and well being, on so many levels—and vote for candidates who take science seriously. In addition, we can emphasize our respect for the importance of scientists’ work in our daily lives and any time we are speaking with our representatives and candidates.
 
My personal heartfelt thanks to all the scientists out there, and to all who support them.

*New York TimesTrump Administration Sharply Curtails Fetal Tissue Medical Research by Abby Goodnough, June 5, 2019

I just called my representative in the US House of Representatives about two vital issues.  It literally was a two-minute phone call, and I’ve put all the essential information below.  I encourage all my U.S. readers to do the same.  

Here’s why: The House Appropriations Committee recently passed its Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill.  There’s good news about it regarding the funding levels and protections provided for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program and Title X, and the prohibition of the use of FY 2020 funds to implement the Administration’s domestic gag rule (see links below for details). 

The process is that next, the bill needs to be brought to the House floor for approval.  No date has been scheduled for this next step, but NOW is the time to call our representatives in the House and let them know that this is important to us and that we’ll be watching their vote.  

Fortunately, Power To Decide, the Campaign to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy, has made it easy for us to advocate: they’ve literally reduced long, complex issues to 2 clear sentences which we can simply read to our representatives over the phone.  This is a critical issue and calling our representatives is a way we can remind them that, with all that is going on in the world, this is vital to us. 

Call your Representative in the US House of Representatives and say:
1.  “Please continue funding for the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program at $110 million for FY 2020 appropriations and protect the integrity of the program as the House Appropriations Committee funding bill recently did.”
2.  “Please continue funding for the Title X Family Planning Program at $400 million for FY 2020 appropriations, and prohibit the use of FY 2020 funds to implement the Administration’s domestic gag rule, as the House Appropriations Committee bill does.”

To find out the name and phone number of your representative, click here.  (Note that if you regularly call your representative, it is best to use their Washington, DC number for national issues such as this, and their local number for local issues.)

This is vital advocacy at a vital time.  I’ve kept this short, but below my signature are links for those of you who want to learn more about these issues.

Thanks, in advance, to any of you who make these important phone calls.  And please know that I always appreciate hearing from my readers who make the calls—you inspire me!

Vivian Peters

For the Statement from Power to Decide regarding this funding bill, click here.
For more information about the TPP program, click here.
For more information about Title X, click here.
For more information about the Domestic Gag Rule, click here.  
For more information about Power To Decide, the Campaign to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy, click here.

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.