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Nov 05 2013Gearing Up to Say Thanks, Birth Control
"Rocked a 4.0 because the only thing that kept me up at night was studying..."
Living in a sorority house, there are plenty of times during the day when a phone alarm goes off, reminding someone to take their birth control. Birth control is omnipresent on a college campus and especially in a sorority house--yet we don't talk about it. The alarm goes off, we reach into our bags, we take our pill, change our ring, buy a new patch and go on with what we were doing. Studying for a big test, organizing a philanthropic event, getting ready for a formal. The average college student has a LOT going on and worrying about getting pregnant before you're ready is not something you have time for. Birth control lets you decide when you're ready to start a family, and for me and the girls in my house, that's not right now. But no one gives it any credit!
99% of adults have used a form of birth control at some point in their lives. That means almost EVERYONE has used it--yet it's still not something we can talk openly about. And if we can't even talk about it, how can people be expected to be comfortable using it?
Let's get a conversation started--on November 12th (next Tuesday), show some love for birth control! Join me and tweet what birth control has allowed you to accomplish and tag it #thxbirthcontrol. We've got videos on The National Campaign's website, or head over to Bedsider for some shareable digital postcards. If I can find time to show my gratitude, so can you!
Alanna Perlstein is an intern with the Entertainment-Media team of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and a junior at University of Maryland, College Park. Originally from Highland Mills, NY, Alanna spends her downtime at school involved in her sorority and enjoying life before she becomes a "real person."
Oct 21 2013Are Unplanned Pregnancies a Good Thing?
This recent Jezebel post on "10 Advantages to an Unplanned Pregnancy" really irritated me for some reason. I can't quite put my finger on it--perhaps it's the flippant way the author compares her life pre-pregnancy to her life post-pregnancy, but most likely it's because it actually seems like she wanted to get pregnant (or at least was open to the possibility). So she thought her husband was infertile (you can get the details on that here) and was shocked when she saw the + sign on the pregnancy test. It remains the case that she had a partner who was willing and able to parent with her. She also had a job and an education, so while it seems as though she decided to make a career change, she was fairly prepared to do so. What about the thousands of women who find out that they're pregnant and don't have a career to "figure out"? Or those who just met their partner and don't have much of a relationship with that person yet? Perhaps the pregnancy will bring them closer and perhaps they'll really get their butts in gear after seeing that + sign. But isn't that a lot of responsibility to put on the shoulders of a baby? We're too lazy or scared to make decisions on our own so we have to wait for something to happen to us before we make a change?
I get it that life happens and many, many things are totally out of our control, especially things related to pregnancy and childbearing. I also get it that getting pregnant and having a baby is a lot of work (just coming off of a solo-parenting weekend for my 13 month old, I really get it)--but I also think that we can do a better job as a country making decisions about when and under what circumstances we want to start our families.
While it's true that almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, it doesn't mean it has to stay that way (take a look at the plummeting teen birth rate for inspiration). Shouldn't we at the very least decide with our partners when we might be open to the possibility of kids? Until then, maybe we can just use birth control--there are plenty of options out there.
Sep 05 2013Before You Head to Purellistan, Head to the Marketplace
"America's uninsured, take personal responsibility. If you can't afford #insurance, move some place without bacteria." --@ColbertReport, 8:03pm on Sun, Sep 01, 2013.
Despite a gigantic amount of policy, political, and media attention over the past several years, Kaiser Family Foundation reports that half the public (51%) say they don't know enough about the Affordable Care Act to understand how it will impact them and their family. This is a particular shame when it comes to young adults, many of whom say they want health insurance but are concerned about how to pay for it.
The good news according to a recent Commonwealth Fund survey is that more young adults are now aware of, and benefiting from, the Obamacare provision allowing them to stay on their parents' insurance. More good news: many women with insurance are now able to get a birth control method that works best for them without cost being a barrier.
But, not everyone has insurance (young adults aged 19-34 make up 40% of the uninsured), and not everyone knows how to get it. For example, Commonwealth also found only 27% of 19 to 29 year olds are aware of the new health insurance marketplaces (or exchanges) where they could get insurance.
With enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces opening up on October 1st, it's time to pay attention folks. There are many creative efforts underway to help educate consumers about how all this will work.
Bedsider is doing its part to help. Check out this new article that breaks down as simply as possible (given that this is pretty complex stuff) how the Affordable Care Act can help people who don't currently have insurance get access to birth control, not to mention other important health care. Then share it with a friend or two, or with anyone who is in touch with young adults.
No, it isn't all easy or simple--important things rarely are. Yes, it is better in some states than others. But, give it your best shot and take responsibility to get informed. Believe me, that beats Stephen Colbert's advice.
Aug 16 2013Baby Crazy
I don't know if you've noticed, but this summer has been all about babies. The Royal Baby! Baby North West! I think even Jessica Simpson had another baby. And Buzzfeed has tons of pictures of babies, although my boyfriend prefers that I coo over the baby animals and not the tiny humans. The point is, I'm all about babies. But I'm sure glad I don't have one!
While on a big family vacation I saw first-hand that babies do not care if you'd rather sunbathe. And they don't care if you have one more chapter you really want to finish. They cry if you go too fast on the motorboat. Babies have no spot in my summer plans.
Speaking of plans, that's what kids are--a big, scary, and exciting plan that will heretofore change all your other plans. And for teens, making a plan for the future is important. The chances that teens will delay having sex, pregnancy, and parenthood are significantly increased when they have clear goals and dreams they plan to achieve. But 50% of teens say they've never thought about how a pregnancy would change their lives! It's time to start thinking about it.
Soon it will be September and back-to-school education time. It should also be sex education time. 49% of teens and 79% of parents says they wish young people were getting more information about both abstinence and contraception (instead of either/or). So finish that tan while you can and get ready to hit the books. Stayteen.org is a great place to start.
Aug 13 2013It's a Freakin' Condom!
Because you needed one more thing to love about both the Bay Area and Macklemore (featuring Ryan Lewis), I bring you this:
Youth from Forward Together, a group in Oakland which counts among its social justice goals increasing access to quality sex education, remixed the ubiquitous summer hit to promote using condoms and getting tested regularly for STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
And since condoms are the only method of contraception that also protects against STIs, we are obviously huge fans. I bet the second verse of the remix is all about that.