Where the Revolution Continues: Inside the Second Annual Body Love Conference

A speaker at the 2014 Body Love Conference. Photo: Body Love Conference

A speaker at the 2014 Body Love Conference. Photo: Body Love Conference

The Body Love Conference debuted last year, riding on Tucsonan Jes Baker’s breakthrough success in body-positive blogging. Baker’s dating woes — and how they affected the way she saw herself in the mirror — sent her on a personal journey of body acceptance. Before long, the personal became political as she launched a blog called The Militant Baker, a place where could share with others what she had learned on her own journey. The Militant Baker soon reached a readership of about 20,000 — and then nearly a million as some of her content went viral.


We are maligned for wanting control over our bodies.


But Baker, along with a team of like-minded advocates and volunteers, knew that the movement needed something else as well: a safe but more public space for seeing, feeling, and asserting body love, where empowering words could translate into empowering actions. The Body Love Conference was their brainchild, and their months of preparation to make it happen paid off on April 5, 2014, with an event that drew more than 400 people.

The momentum continued this year with the second annual Body Love Conference, held at the Pima Community College West Campus on June 6. The message was the same, but a lot of things were different this year. Baker passed the torch to the other BLC volunteers so that she could turn her attention to her first book, slated for release on October 27. Meanwhile, the BLC team decided on a smaller, regional conference, so that they, too, could focus on something further out: a national “headliner” conference in 2016. Continue reading

Senate Bill 1318: It’s Not Just a Bill

The following post comes to us via Brittany Frew, who is (almost) a graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in marketing. She hopes to go into either advertising or health care, but mostly just hopes to get a job. Tweet @brittanyfrew with your comments!

Schoolhouse RockIn the aftermath of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1318, similar legislation is popping up all over the country. In Texas, SB 575 would prohibit the federal exchange and private health insurance from covering elective abortion. Arkansas recently passed HB 1578, which makes them the second state to require doctors to tell their patients that medication abortions can be reversed — a claim that isn’t based in scientific evidence. With a trend of attacks on the freedom of women nationwide, it’s important to be active in your state legislature.


Legislative hearings are the perfect opportunity to voice your opinions.


When I walked into the Arizona Capitol for a committee hearing on SB 1318, I thought I knew what I was in for. I mean, I’ve seen that Schoolhouse Rock! video, I know how laws work. I’m going to sit for a few minutes, the vote will be unanimous, and the bill and I will be on our merry way. However, much like one realizes that most of childhood was a lie, I realized that the beloved classic did not paint an accurate picture. Continue reading

STD Awareness: The Next Generation of Gardasil Is Coming!

noisemakersIt’s January, which means it’s time to festoon our surroundings with streamers, throw around the confetti, break out the noisemakers, and shout Happy Cervical Health Awareness Month!

And, in 2015, we have something huge to celebrate: Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Gardasil 9, the next-generation HPV vaccine, which provides broader protection than the current version. Next month, the new and improved vaccine will start to be shipped to health care providers, and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is expected to give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the green light to recommend the vaccine, after which insurance plans and the Vaccines for Children program should start covering it.


The newest version of Gardasil protects against the seven strains of human papillomavirus that together cause 90 percent of cervical cancers.


Why is this news so exciting for people who care about cervical health? Because, while the current version of Gardasil, which debuted in 2006, protects recipients from the two HPV strains that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers, Gardasil 9 will protect against seven strains of HPV that collectively cause 90 percent of cervical cancers. On top of that, both versions of Gardasil protect against the two HPV strains that are together responsible for 90 percent of genital warts.

Gardasil 9 has been shown to be highly effective in clinical studies, and it is safe to use, which means Gardasil just became an even more potent weapon against cancers caused by HPV. Not only that, but vaccination against HPV will also reduce the frequency of precancerous lesions, which are cellular abnormalities that can be treated before progressing into full-fledged cancer. Less pre-cancer means less time, money, and anxiety spent dealing with followup procedures after an abnormal Pap test, for example. Continue reading

Ethan Orr’s Record Reveals Extreme Views Behind Moderate Branding

In the 9th legislative district, we endorse both Randall Friese and Victoria Steele ... not Ethan Orr!

In the 9th legislative district, we endorse both Randall Friese and Victoria Steele … not Ethan Orr!

Ethan Orr brands himself on his campaign website as a leader who “has worked across party lines” and will “bring people together to create community solutions.” It’s easy to see why his branding has gained currency — but with a little digging into his record, it’s just as easy to see how hollow it is.

The representative for Legislative District 9, who is running for re-election this November, seemed to be walking his talk back in February when he stopped in with state Sen. Steve Farley at Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson. Reacting to SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses the right to refuse service to customers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, Rocco’s put up a sign in defiance of the bill’s bigotry: “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona lawmakers.” The gesture of protest was soon in the news and spreading through social media, receiving accolades from people who thought it was the perfect response to a terrible bill. Orr and Farley decided to pay the pizzeria a visit, Orr carrying a print-out of the Senate vote that showed his opposition to the bill.


A little digging into Ethan Orr’s record reveals a legislator who doesn’t stand for LGBTQ rights or reproductive justice.


Unfortunately, there’s more to Orr’s record on LGBTQ issues than this story. Orr was absent from the list of sponsors when LD 9’s other representative, Victoria Steele, introduced SB 1443, another bill that addressed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — but this time prohibiting, rather than allowing, discrimination. The same goes for SCR 1012, a bill Steele and other legislators introduced to recognize same-sex marriage. Orr stood up to a bill that would have allowed more wrongs, but his inaction on SB 1443 and SCR 1012 leaves voters to wonder if that’s the limit of his concerns.

Orr is also credited for voting in favor of Gov. Brewer’s Medicaid expansion. But given Brewer’s threat to veto all other legislation until other Republicans fell in line with her — and her promises to help those who did fall in line through the support of her Arizona’s Legacy PAC — Orr’s positions when there are no unusual incentives at stake might be more telling. And his positions look dismal when it comes to women’s health. 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 general election, 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

Celebrating Motherhood — and Reproductive Freedom

mother babyTwo months ago, a single mother’s ordeal was grabbing headlines. Shanesha Taylor, homeless and desperate for a job, landed an interview at a Scottsdale insurance office. But the 35-year-old mother of two faced a difficult dilemma when she went to her interview on March 21. She couldn’t find child care, but she also couldn’t afford to cancel.

Short on options, Taylor let her two boys, ages 6 months and 2 years, wait alone in her car for 45 minutes while she tried to secure a source of income for her family. Taylor was subsequently arrested for child abuse for leaving her sons unattended in a hot car. Her children were examined at an area hospital and released as uninjured, but Taylor nevertheless faced two felony counts.


The best gift to mothers would be the ability to choose motherhood without suffering tremendous financial blows.


Taylor endangered her children, but she did it because she faced a tough dilemma — a choice between what was best for them in the short term and what was best for them in the long term. She faced this dilemma in the richest nation in the world — a nation that is nonetheless the worst among rich nations in terms of family-friendly policies. Taylor’s unemployment didn’t help matters, but even for the employed, social programs are lacking. As Stephanie Coontz summarized in her interview with us last year, “We are the only rich, industrial country in the world that doesn’t have subsidized parental leave, limits on the work week, some form of national health insurance, and/or strong investments in child care and preschool.”

Consequently, parenting is an almost insurmountable expense for many. In the last 20 years, the cost of maternity care and delivery has swelled in the United States — in fact, tripling in the case of delivery. Pregnancy, delivery, and newborn care now come to $30,000 on average. Add another $20,000 if the delivery is by C-section. It’s far more than what people in other developed nations pay. Americans pay more than twice what people in Switzerland pay for childbirth, and more than three time what people in Britain pay. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

Blaming women for the spread of STDs is an age-old tradition.

Blaming women for the spread of STDs is an age-old tradition.

  • If you love food and birth control, and wanna get ’em both at the same place, you should eat here. (LA Times)
  • Millions of women now pay nothing for birth control. It feels so good to type those words. (Mother Jones)
  • Taking woman-hating to a new level: An anti-Obamacare cartoon posted on the website Comically Incorrect claims that men will get more sexually transmitted diseases from “women who now get free birth control” thanks to the health care reform law. This is one of the dumbest, most misogynistic things I’ve seen in a long time. If STDs spread, it’s women’s fault! Not the men who gave them the disease! Yeah. OK. ’Cause men have no responsibility in protecting themselves from STDs. Evil women put them at risk and they’re simply helpless!! (Time)
  • Paid FMLA for pregnant women and those of us with chronic illnesses? YES. PLEASE. (RH Reality Check)
  • So far, there are nine states where you might need “abortion insurance.” Luckily, AZ isn’t one of them. Yet. (ABC News)
  • Not that we aren’t fighting our own uphill battles here. (Arizona Daily Star)
  • Abortion providers make huge sacrifices to care for women. And we are so thankful. (NY Mag)
  • Even after having women (their peers!) stand in front of them telling their emotional stories of rape and miscarriage, Republicans weren’t moved to keep women from having to further endure these atrocities. (USA Today)
  • Congressional dufus Steve Stockman (R-Texas, naturally) is so pro-life that he wishes “babies had guns” to kill their mothers who are considering abortion. Is this real life? I mean, he does know that a fetus can’t survive if the carrier of the fetus is dead, right? (MSNBC)
  • I’m not a scientist or anything, but if birth control is less effective for women over 176 pounds, why don’t they do something to make it more effective? (Jezebel)