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Valerie Tarico Topics




Smut in Jesusland: Why Bible Belt States are the Biggest Consumers of Online Porn

by Valerie Tarico

Red State conservatives may insist that the rest of us should keep aspirin between our knees and be forced to bear Divine Justice Babies when we don’t. They may refuse to provide cake or flowers for gay weddings, or even to attend. They may pretend that teens won’t do it if we just don’t tell them how.



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

by Valerie Tarico

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.



Dementia Care? No Thanks!

by Valerie Tarico

In a powerful article at the Atlantic, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel lined up facts and figures showing that much of the recent gain in human lifespan is  about stretching out the process of decline and death rather than living well for longer. Most of us would love to live to 100 and beyond with our minds sharp and our senses clear, able to take pleasure in the world around us while contributing at least modestly to the happiness and wellbeing of others.  But clear-eyed analysis shows that is not how most elderly Americans experience their final years.  



Why Right Wing Christians Think They are America’s Most Persecuted

by Valerie Tarico

A recent Pew study found that white American Evangelical Christians think they experience more discrimination than Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Atheists or Jews. Really?!



Has the Christian Doctrine of Hell Become an Awkward Liability?

by Valerie Tarico

Three years ago, my sister, who had long struggled with mental illness, hit her limit and jumped off a freeway bridge. She lived. She was rushed to the county trauma center, and by the time I arrived from Seattle she was hooked up to an array of life support technologies and monitors.



The Obvious Relationship Between Climate and Family Planning—and Why We Don’t Talk About

by Valerie Tarico

Several years ago, Bill Gates keynoted a breakfast for Seattle-based Climate Solutions, a nonprofit focused on advancing the clean energy economy and driving practical, profitable solutions to climate change. Gates opened his speech with an equation. To paraphrase: Our carbon problem = persons x services x the energy intensity of services x the carbon intensity of energy. The number of people is growing, Gates observed, and we all want more services.



Biblical “Spare the Rod” Parenting Tied to PTSD and Chilling Revenge

by Valerie Tarico

When is it acceptable for a muscular man who weighs 100 kilos and stands 1.85 meters tall to grab a stick and repeatedly hit a skinny, scared person half his size?



Party Time! Excellent! Educators and Health Professionals Celebrate a Drop in Teen Pregnancy

by Valerie Tarico

Public health officials, educators, and parents of teens have reason to party! According to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, American teen pregnancy rates are lower currently than they were back in 1975 when top 40 dance music included “Kung Fu Fighting” and “The Hustle.”



Where the Wild Things Are–Family Planning Conversations on Teen Turf

by Valerie Tarico

No one birth control method fits everyone, but today young women have better options than ever before. Across the United States, from New York to South Carolina to Texas to Oregon, health advocates and providers are scrambling to get the word out about long-acting yet easily reversible contraceptive methods that are now approved for use by teenagers and well liked by most who use them. (See this earlier Sightline series, Twenty Times Better Than the Pill.)



Back to the Future — Modernizing Sexual Health Care, Regulations, and Reimbursement for Teens

by Valerie Tarico

More than 80 percent of teen pregnancies are accidents. A girl with other hopes and dreams—or maybe a girl who is floundering, who hasn’t even begun to explore her hopes and dreams—finds herself unexpectedly slated for either an abortion or 4,000 diapers. Given the shame and stigma surrounding abortion in many American subcultures, that can seem like a choice between the proverbial rock and hard place. The exciting news that launched this Sightline series is that teen pregnancy is in decline across the United States and across all major ethnic groups. Fewer and fewer young women are facing hard decisions after the fact.



Bring It On! — Why It’s Tme For Over the Counter Oral Contraceptives.

by Valerie Tarico

When Plan B emergency contraceptives became available without a prescription, I sent my teenage daughter, Marley, and her friend Amanda out to do a little research. Was the medication available in our local pharmacies? What would happen if they asked for help?
Most of the drugstores the girls visited in their meander through Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood kept the medication behind a counter or locked up because it’s so expensive (close to $50 for a single dose).



Dazed and Confused — The Case for Comprehensive Sexual Education

by Valerie Tarico

Can a girl get pregnant if she has sex standing up? Will my boyfriend be able to feel my IUD? What are dental dams, and why do people use them for sex? Does everybody shave or trim down there? If a guy pays for dinner, what does a girl owe him?



Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About Religious Freedom 200 Years From Now!

by Valerie Tarico

In 1878, the Supreme Court of the United States wrestled with a religious freedom case focused on Mormons and polygamy. In the written decision, Chief Justice Morrison Waite explained the court’s attempt to discern the intent of the First Amendment. He turned to someone who had been in the room when the Amendment was written—Thomas Jefferson...



Why “Fetal Personhood” is a Dangerous Word Game

by Valerie Tarico

What does it mean to be a person? For the anti-abortion group, Personhood USA, a “person” is present from the moment a sperm penetrates an egg, and members are fighting to have their definition encoded into law. Online coaching tools for abortion opponents use the term person interchangeably with human or human being. Are they interchangeable? Does it matter?



Ten Commandments That Would Have Changed the World

by Valerie Tarico

The American Bible Society funds an annual “State of the Bible” survey, and this spring the Christian Post cheered some of their findings: “The Bible continues to dominate both mind space and book retail space as America’s undisputed best-seller.” According to the study, conducted by Barna, over 88 percent of American homes contain a Bible. In fact, the average is 4.7 copies per household.



Changing the Abortion Conversation – An Aikido Strategy

by Valerie Tarico

Picture this: A group of abortion opponents stand outside a women’s clinic holding pictures of fetal remains. As they stand there, calling and offering pamphlets to people entering the clinic, a trickle of pro-choice activists also arrive…



Beyond Homophobia: The Even Bigger Reason to Avoid World Vision

by Valerie Tarico

In a media frenzy akin to the Komen scandal, Evangelical aid organization World Vision announced recently that it would allow legally married and monogamous queer Christians on its payroll. Conservative co-religionists, including Franklin Graham of Billy Graham Ministries, and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention took to the media denouncing the decision as a violation of biblical Christianity and all that is good. 



Why Religious Leaders are Speaking Up in Support of Universal Contraceptive Access

by Valerie Tarico

As the Supreme Court reviews the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods cases in coming weeks, attorneys for the business owners will argue that their religious freedom (and that of the corporations!) is being violated by the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. But not all religious leaders agree.



Conscience Creep: How “Religious Freedom” Spiraled Out of Control

by Valerie Tarico

Secular Americans and many liberal people of faith have been horrified by the Right’s most recent ploy: “religious freedom” claims that would give conservative business owners license to discriminate. Until Arizona made the national spotlight, the need for lunch counter sit-ins had seemed like a thing of the past. But in reality, advocates for religious privileges have been circling toward this point for some time.



It’s Time for Religion to Get Out of the Healthcare Business

by Valerie Tarico

When you have to make hard medical decisions, who do you want in the room? Religious belief is on the decline in the U.S., and medical knowledge is on the increase. This makes it particularly ironic that so much of our health care system is accountable at the highest levels not to science or patient preference but to the dictators of faith and of theology. Metaphorically, more and more medical decisions get made with the Catholic Bishops in the room, regardless of whether the patient wants them there. Not only that, but the Bishops have a religious veto that can trump both doctor and patient.



What Getting Thin Taught Me About Being Fat

by Valerie Tarico

Two years ago, at a small cabin in the San Juan Islands, I put a ladder on a slippery deck and stepped on it, and something happened that will surprise nobody but a woman utterly intent on fixing a rain gutter: it slipped off. I landed on one leg, fragmenting the knee joint. My husband hauled me to the beach and onto a boat and into a car, and ultimately I ended up at the best trauma center in the region, Harborview Hospital in Seattle.



Protesting Students Joined by Alumni: “Change the Church”

by Valerie Tarico

In late December, while marriage equality became law in New Mexico and Utah, a Washington vice principal and coach at a Catholic school got fired for marrying his partner, and a Philadelphia Methodist minister was defrocked because he performed a wedding ceremony for his son. 



10 Reasons Freethinkers Can Look Forward to a Bright 2014

by Valerie Tarico

Days may be dark right now—after all, as the memes proclaim, axial tilt is the reason for the season. But things are looking bright for those who would like to see humanity more grounded in science and reason. If you are a nontheist in the mood for a party, here are ten reasons to celebrate.



Ancient Mythic Origins of the Christmas Story

by Valerie Tarico

Many Americans have heard that December 25 was a birthday of Roman gods long before it was chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some people also know that our delightful mélange of Christmas festivities originated in ancient Norse, Roman and Druid traditions – or, in the case of Rudolph, on Madison Avenue. But where does the Christmas story itself come from: Jesus in the manger, the angels and wise men?



#12 Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

by Valerie Tarico

At age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.



#18 Abortion As a Blessing, Grace, or Gift–A Renewed Conversation about Reproductive Rights

by Valerie Tarico

Can we reclaim the moral high ground in the debate about abortion as a part of thoughtful, wise loving and living? We won’t know until we try.Most Americans think of childbearing as a deeply personal or even sacred decision. So do most reproductive rights advocates. That is why we don’t think anybody’s boss or any institution should have a say in it. But for almost three decades, those of us who hold this view have failed to create a resonant conversation about why, sometimes, it is morally or spiritually imperative that a woman can stop a pregnancy that is underway.



5 Ways Conservatives Promote Shirking and Freeloading

by Valerie Tarico

Early in high school my daughters learned a lesson about group projects: some people don’t like to pull their weight. It wasn’t the kids who struggled to produce quality work that the girls found most frustrating. As fiery Ohio State Senator Nina Turner says, “We don’t all run the race at the same pace,” and the girls got that. It was the shirkers. I myself used to want one of those bumper stickers that say, “Mean people suck.” The girls would have wanted one that said, “Freeloaders suck.”



Thanksgiving Message from Toys R Us Reveals More than Miley Cyrus

by Valerie Tarico
Thanks to last summer’s twerking extravaganza and her follow-up naked Wrecking Ball video, Miley Cyrus is front runner in polls for Time Person of the Year (to be announced December 6). Cyrus’s trademark this year is “nasty,” so when she exposes her back side, we know at least that she’s done it on purpose. But Toys R Us?  You gotta wonder.



What World War Z and Washington State Have in Common

by Valerie Tarico

Did anyone see the World War Z scene where the zombies reach the top of a massive zombie-proof wall and start pouring over? The same thing has finally happened to Jefferson’s wall of separation between church and state. Council members in Pierce County, Washington got busted last week because they allocated taxpayer dollars to fund not one, but two evangelical missionary organizations that target public school kids for conversion.



Right Wing Finally Notices That Women Vote

by Valerie Tarico

On Wednesday morning after the November 5 election, a hard Right rag, The Washington Times, headlined with the following caption: “Christie’s win, Cuccinelli’s loss: Two playbooks for defending against the ‘war on women.’”

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