Russell Pearce Misses the Point: Starting a Dialogue on Sex Education

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, political engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

teacher and studentsMuch has been made of the repugnant remarks made by former Republican lawmaker Russell Pearce regarding poor women and birth control. Mr. Pearce — assuming he was head of welfare — made comments on his radio show September 6 saying he would force women to have birth control implants or undergo surgical sterilization to access funds. So many regimes have used this rhetoric, and some have enacted policies like these to control the reproductive lives of women. It seems the definition of insanity that we’re having this conversation again.

Let’s be clear about one thing: Politicians have no place in the health care choices of Americans. All health care decisions should be made between the patient, the doctor, and the patient’s family — and politics should play no part in that.

Let’s also remember, birth control prevents abortion. In fact, birth control allows young people to finish high school — which is especially important here in Arizona since we have a high teen pregnancy rate and subsequent increased high school dropout rates.

But really what it comes down to is education. Government cannot force birth control on its citizens. Governments cannot legislate to impose morality or healthy decision making or regulate hormones. What governments can do is educate their youth on abstinence and contraceptive behaviors to help keep them safe from unintended pregnancy and STDs. Schools can teach medically accurate information on anatomy and biology and facilitate conversations on the importance of healthy relationships. Finally, communities can help advocate against bullying and raise awareness about dating violence and ways to address it.

Since sexuality education is not a mandatory subject in Arizona schools, it’s important to understand that accuracy and truth matter. School boards, local schools, and communities can take action today by simply asking teachers, principals, and administrators: “What is my kid learning when it comes to sex ed?” Facebook and Twitter allow public platforms for town-hall-like discussion to take place directly with officials. Have you ever wondered what your child is learning — if anything — about sex? Maybe it’s time to find out.

To learn more about starting the conversation on comprehensive sex education, please download our flier.

Meet Our Candidates: Amy Schwabenlender for State Representative, LD 20

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Amy for AZAmy Schwabenlender is running to represent the 20th legislative district in the Arizona House of Representatives. LD 20 encompasses much of Northwest Phoenix, and includes parts of Glendale and Moon Valley. Ms. Schwabenlender stands strong for reproductive health, justice, and, as a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood, the work we do to stand up for women’s rights.

LD 20 is currently represented in the state House by Paul Boyer, who identifies as “strongly pro-life.” Paul Boyer recently voted for SB 1062, the infamous discrimination bill that received national attention last spring. Anthony Kern, a Republican, is vying for the second seat. Kern has indicated on his Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire that he is opposed to comprehensive sex education and in favor of retaining Arizona’s constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Because so much is at stake for this House seat, and because Amy Schwabenlender is such a passionate advocate for reproductive rights, we are proud to endorse her campaign. Ms. Schwabenlender was kind enough to talk to Morganne Rosenhaus on September 14, 2014.


“Government and legislators should not be involved in personal health care decisions.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, went to college in San Antonio, and have lived in Arizona for 19 years. I worked in sales and marketing for 10 years, and then transitioned to the nonprofit sector, which is where I have been for the past nine years. I currently work at United Way as vice president of community impact, where my job is to end homelessness and hunger in Maricopa County.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law? In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?

These kinds of bills are insulting to women and their families. It feels like women are being picked on just for being women. The rights that women have when they receive their health care shouldn’t be different from men. No one should have their privacy threatened. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Patty Kennedy for State Senator, LD 20

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Patty Kennedy bricksPatty Kennedy is running to represent the 20th legislative district in the state Senate. LD 20 encompasses Northwest Phoenix, including parts of Glendale and Moon Valley. Ms. Kennedy stands strong for reproductive health and justice, opposing legislation like HB 2284 and recognizing the fundamental right of an individual to choose what is best for herself or himself when it comes to health care.

LD 20 is currently represented in the state Senate by Kimberly Yee, whose record on reproductive health and rights is abysmal. She has consistently voted against Planned Parenthood’s mission, supporting bills that attempted to reduce access to birth control and preventive services at Planned Parenthood Arizona. In 2012, she sponsored HB 2036, which not only threatens doctors with criminal penalties for performing abortions after 20 weeks, but also goes so far as to define pregnancy as beginning two weeks before conception. Kimberly Yee has signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s statement denouncing Roe v. Wade and was rated by Salon as one of the Top 5 most extreme anti-abortion lawmakers in the United States.

Because so much is at stake in this senate seat, and because Patty Kennedy is such a passionate advocate for reproductive rights, we are proud to endorse her campaign. Ms. Kennedy was kind enough to talk to Morganne Rosenhaus on September 12, 2014.


“The right to make health care decisions in one’s best interest is vitally important and fundamental to our society.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up and have lived in the area that is currently LD 20 most of my life. I have raised my family in this district and own a small business that is located in the district. I have served on the Governing Board of the Glendale Union High School District for the past four years and have served as the board president for the past two years. I will be serving on the Board again for the next four years, as only two candidates turned in valid signatures and there are only two seats up for election.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law? In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?

HB 2284 is not a good piece of legislation. It is both unnecessary and possibly illegal on the grounds of being a possible invasion of privacy for those patients who are at the facility at the time of an unannounced inspection. This bill should be repealed and I would work toward that end. Continue reading

Let’s Talk Contraception: Contraceptive Implants

implantMany of us want a long-term method of birth control, but know we’re not able to reliably take a daily pill or interrupt a sexual experience to use a barrier contraceptive. There are several other options available that offer protection on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. A very effective but often underused method is the contraceptive implant, which provides pregnancy prevention for three years. The Guttmacher Institute reports that only 0.3 to 0.5 percent of women who use birth control choose an implant, but it is one of the most effective contraceptives.


The implant protects you from pregnancy for three years and, with a failure rate of 0.05 percent, is the most effective reversible contraceptive.


There are two hormonal implants available in the United States: Implanon and Nexplanon. Both contain only a progesterone hormone, etonorgesterol. This hormone prevents pregnancy by suppressing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, and thinning the lining of the uterus. Nexplanon is quickly replacing Implanon because it is designed to be seen on an X-ray. This feature helps medical providers be sure the implant is placed correctly and reduces problems due to incorrect insertion. If the implant is placed incorrectly, you can have numbness and it may be difficult to remove.

Nexplanon is a very small flexible plastic rod, about the size of a matchstick. It is inserted by your provider under the skin in your upper arm, where it slowly releases the progesterone hormone into your bloodstream and prevents pregnancy for three years. After three years, it must be replaced with a new one to provide continuous effective birth control. However, it can be removed at any time before three years if desired. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Plan BBring out the balloons, champagne flutes, and noisemakers. Look what the cat is dragging in come 2017: MALE BIRTH CONTROL NOT IN THE FORM OF A CONDOM! (The Daily Beast)
  • Are men treated differently than women when buying emergency contraception? (New York Daily News)
  • Overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto, Republican lawmakers in Missouri have forced a 72-hour waiting period for abortions into law. They now join South Dakota and Utah as having the longest waiting periods in the United States. Additionally, there are no exceptions for victims of incest or rape. (USA Today)
  • Texas gubernatorial candidate, Wendy Davis, bravely shares her personal abortion story. (Cosmopolitan)
  • Crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe, has banned all fundraisers and content related to abortion. What other safe, legal medical procedures have they banned fundraisers for, you ask? None that we know of. (Salon)
  • Is there any facet of the anti-choice movement that isn’t hypocritical? The corporations opposing the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act mostly do not offer any parental leave to help you out with the baby they want you to have no choice but to conceive. (RH Reality Check)
  • Republicans have seemingly done an about-face on birth control, and have been talking an awful lot lately about the Pill being made available over the counter. Please don’t be fooled. They want the entire cost burden to be on the individual woman rather than covered by insurance. I’m trying to think of any other preventive medications they feel this way about off the top of my head, but for some reason I’m drawing a big ol’ blank! (Time)
  • Bustle has an interesting piece on the most restrictive abortion laws in America and, as you may have guessed, it’s really quite painstaking to get an abortion anywhere in this country. (Bustle)
  • Vaginas are magic and powerful vessels and now their contents can make medicine! (Nature)

The Condom Broke. Now What?

oopsProtecting yourself with barriers like condoms is an important part of keeping yourself healthy when you and your partner don’t know one another’s STD status. Condoms are also great for pregnancy prevention. You can improve their effectiveness by learning how to put them on correctly, using a generous amount of lubricant, and checking their expiration dates.

But, sometimes, despite your best intentions, condoms break.

When that happens, you might wonder about your vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). And, if pregnancy is a possibility, you might also be concerned about sperm meeting egg. Luckily, there are still options. One, getting tested for STDs can help you receive treatment, if needed, in a timely manner. Two, if you act quickly, you can still take steps to minimize the risk of certain STDs or help avert an unwanted pregnancy.

Don’t let a broken condom immobilize you with fear! Take matters into your own hands, and learn what to do if a condom breaks.

How long does it take after a potential exposure until an STD test is likely to be accurate?

The answer to this question is: It varies. Each STD has a different “window period,” that is, the time it takes for an infection to be detectable. Some STDs can be tested for within days (if symptoms are present), while other STDs can take months to show up on a test. Also, while you might be inclined to wait and see if symptoms show up, remember that most STDs don’t have symptoms at all! When infections don’t have symptoms, they are said to be “asymptomatic.”

Check out this handy chart to see how long it takes for symptoms to appear, how common asymptomatic infections are, and how soon you should be tested.  Continue reading

Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does, Part 22: Expedited Partner Therapy for Chlamydia

200373577-001Welcome to the latest installment of “Over 90 Percent of What Planned Parenthood Does,” a series on Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s blog that highlights Planned Parenthood’s diverse array of services — the ones Jon Kyl never knew about.

So, you got chlamydia. It happens. In fact, it happens to an estimated 2.86 million Americans every year, and is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the country.


After testing positive for chlamydia, you can receive extra antibiotics to hand-deliver to your partner.


Your infection didn’t come out of thin air — you got it from somewhere. Maybe you have a new sex partner who wasn’t tested and treated for any STDs before you got together. Perhaps you’re in a non-monogamous relationship. You also could have had it for a while before you found out about it, during which time a partner might have unknowingly caught it from you. One reason chlamydia can spread so easily — by vaginal, anal, or oral sex — is because it usually doesn’t come with symptoms. Amazingly, most people with chlamydia don’t know they have it unless they take an STD test to screen for it.

But the fact remains: You got chlamydia. Now what? Continue reading