Sometimes Facebook mirrors our world a little too well. I go to Facebook to escape—from mounds of laundry waiting to be folded, weeds that are taking over the front yard, the ever burbling saga of minor crises in my extended family, or the frustration of not being able to find the right words for my next article. But lately, things have been reversed. The laundry and weeds have become welcome distractions from the news feed.
Once again women’s health and autonomy is being compromised for politics. The Obama administration had the mandate and information they needed to make a science-based decision that put women’s health as top priority, and once again they failed to do so. In 2011 the FDA said that emergency contraception like Plan B and Next Choice should be available over the counter to all who seek it.
The Fox News response to the recent Plan B ruling provides a graphic example of how the channel uses “fair and balanced” reporting to creates false perceptions. A press release issued by the conservative Family Research Council uses misdirection to attain the same goal. Anyone who wants to understand why the U.S. is so divided need look no farther than these two pieces of political communication disguised as reporting.
The freedom to die in peace has been much in the news of late. When an 83-year-old man shot first his dying wife and then himself in a Pennsylvania hospice, distressed commenters speculated that local law left him with no better options. The wife was bedridden, in a unit for people who have less than six months to live, and Pennsylvania has no Death with Dignity provisions like those in Washington and Oregon.
Weird as it sounds, using tax-time to count your blessings may boost your mental health. As April heats up and that midnight-on-the-15th deadline approaches, even the most civic minded of us can end up feeling stressed and crabby about taxes.
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.
In the summer of 1983, I was ambling along a beach in Ecuador talking and flirting with a local high school boy. We rounded a curve. The long open stretch we had been walking disappeared from sight and we were alone—or almost alone. Ahead of us on a rocky outcropping four guys sat, watching the shore. As we approached, they hopped down and sauntered toward us.
Imagine a future in which every child is a chosen child.Imagine a future in which a woman becomes fertile only when she wants to have a child—a future in which high school and college students can pursue their dreams and women can plan their lives according to their own values without being derailed by a surprise pregnancy. Imagine a future in which every child is a chosen child.
In 2002, 26 percent of Norwegian contraceptive users relied on a long acting method that they could simply fit and forget, the IUD. In the United States, that rate was 2 percent. Long acting reversible contraceptives (aka LARCs) such as IUDs and implants are rapidly growing in popularity, but the US and Canada lag behind many other countries in making these top tier methods widely available.
Futurist Sara Robinson has called modern contraception the most disruptive technology of the last hundred years. From the time our ancestors first walked out of the Great Rift Valley—perhaps even before—culture, religion, and division of labor enshrined the simple, universal fact that women had little control over their fertility.
Last fall, researchers in Missouri caught the attention of public health experts and advocates across North America. Some 9,000 St. Louis women had been offered their choice of contraceptives for free in a study that has since been called an “Obamacare simulation.” Two years later, the teen pregnancy rate was at 6 per 1,000 instead of the US average of 34. The abortion rate was less than half the rate of other St. Louis women.
Despite Vatican efforts to keep the public eye focused on pomp and circumstance, speculation about the real reason for Pope Benedict’s resignation dominates conversation about the papal succession: Is it the Vatileaksmoney laundering? Is it the pedophilia scandal? Might it have something to do with criminal charges filed in European courts? How about the impact of all three on Catholic Church coffers and pews? Is this about immunity or power or finances or brand management?
The story has gone viral: A group got together at Applebees. When the tab came the minister wrote on the ticket, “I give God 10 percent, why do you get 18?” She scratched through the automatic large-group tip and substituted a fat zero and signed it with the word “Pastor” in front of her name. The waitress posted an image on Reddit. The pastor called to complain. The waitress got fired. The internet went wild. Last I saw, one story had 80,000 comments and counting.
Our ancestors struggled to get enough calories just to stay alive. But as food supplies have become reliable and rich, people around the world face the opposite problem. Now, as we try to keep our weight in a healthy range, we look at all kinds of factors: diet, exercise, sleep, supplements, meditation, hypnosis, psychotherapy, prayer, or even surgery that might help us tip the scales a little less.
As we head into a new year, the guardians of traditional religion are ramping up efforts to keep their flocks—or, in crass economic terms, to retain market share. Some Christians have turned to soul searching while others have turned to marketing. Last fall, the LDS church spent millions on billboards, bus banners, and Facebook ads touting “I’m a Mormon.” In Canada, the Catholic Church has launched a “Come Home” marketing campaign. The Southern Baptists Convention voted to rebrand themselves. A hipster mega-church in Seattle combines smart advertising with sales force training for members and a strategy the Catholics have emphasized for centuries: competitive breeding.
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.
Pizzerias, chocolatiers, ice cream parlors and other vendors of high cal, high carb foods have been facing a quiet crisis that could reach epidemic proportions in next few years: More and more women are choosing not to have a monthly cycle.
Is the holiday season more glitter than glow for you lately? Are you a former Christian who finds that hymns don’t resonate anymore? Do you roll your eyes about the “war on Christmas” manufactroversy? Does the cherubic little Jesus-in-a-Manger fail to flood your body with sweetness? Do you feel mixed about participating in a religious holiday now that you’re not religious? Get the scrooge out with these ten tips.
Is the holiday season more glitter than glow for you lately? Are you a former Christian who finds that hymns don’t resonate anymore? Do you roll your eyes about the “war on Christmas” manufactroversy? Does the cherubic little Jesus-in-a-Manger fail to flood your body with sweetness? Do you feel mixed about participating in a religious holiday now that you’re not religious? Get the scrooge out with these ten tips:
It’s time, once and for all, to clear up the confusion about Plan B on progressive message boards, Facebook pages, forums and comment threads. Tweet this: Plan B doesn’t cause abortion. It stops or delays ovulation. No egg, no fertilization, no pregnancy – no abortion. It’s that simple.
Last week, a young Indian man in Ireland went public about the death of his wife, Savita Halappanavar. A week later, her name, picture, and tragic story are known by millions. Now the husband, Praveen, has launched a fight to ensure that no woman ever again is refused a lifesaving abortion. Her parents have requested that the Indian government bring diplomatic pressure to bear.
In the autumn of 1978 the Washington Association of Churches and the Washington State Catholic Conference jointly published a six page pamphlet they called, “Abortion: An Ecumenical Study Document.” Their work offers a fascinating snapshot of Christian thinking at the time and raises some equally fascinating questions about what, exactly, has happened in the last thirty-five years.
By now many Americans have read the basics: 9000 St. Louis women are offered their choice of contraceptives for free. Two years later, the teen pregnancy rate is at 6 per 1000 instead of the country average of 34. The abortion rate is 4.4 to 7.5 per 1000, less than half the rate of other St. Louis women.
With marriage equality battles in front of the voters in four states, the faithful are out in flocks to defend traditional matrimony. I don’t know exactly what traditional means in this context. It certainly doesn’t mean biblical, or it would include captive virgins and sex slaves and fathering children for your deceased brothers. It certainly doesn’t mean Mitt Romney’s version of traditional, since his great grandfather had five wives and his great-great grandfather had twelve.
My husband Brian is driving in Maputo, Mozambique, I’m navigating, and our daughters Brynn and Marley are in the back seat. We turn the corner, and Brian groans. Ahead, stands a police officer waving us over.