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Planned Parenthood (and our key issues!) in the News

Sex ed. teacher works to inform

Read this fantastic profile of our lead educator, Leigh Anne Woods in Sunday's Daily Press!
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Good Medicine or Bad Politics?

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The Virginia Board of Health last week did the unexpected
and backed away from onerous, costly architectural
regulations proposed for first-term abortion clinics. In doing so
, the board refused to do politicians' dirty work, at least when it comes to building requirements.

The adopted rule imposes no heavier or no lighter burden on the
clinics than Virginia requires of existing hospitals; they must meet
local and state building codes. This achieves
lawmakers' stated goal of ensuring the places women turn to for legal first-term abortions provide good care in safe environments.

Governor approves new abortion clinic rules

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Abortion clinics will now be regulated as hospitals under emergency regulations approved by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell, an abortion opponent, approved the rules Thursday, as recommended by the Board of Health in September.

The emergency regulations were required under legislation
adopted by the General Assembly this year, despite warnings
that they will force most clinics providing abortions in Virginia to close.

"The governor believes these common-sense regulations will help ensure that this procedure takes place in facilities that are modern, safe, and well-regulated, in order to ensure the safety and well-being of all patients," McDonnell's staff said in a statement Thursday.

Some medical advisors question abortion rules

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RICHMOND, Va. --Abortion-rights activists are not the only people unhappy with emergency abortion clinic regulations that await Gov. Bob McDonnell's signature.

Some medical experts who advised state health officials on the development of the regulations suggest that political concerns, not safety problems, were behind the crackdown and aredisappointed some of their key
recommendations were not followed.

A comprehensive conversation

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As the country's largest sex education provider, Planned Parenthood speaks with parents every day about what they can do to keep their kids safe and healthy. Highlighting why parent-child communication is important and how parents can effectively talk with their kids about these issues is especially pertinent this month.

Every year, sex education providers and advocates use October
as Let's Talk Month to encourage parents in their role as the
primary communicator with their kids about sexual health.

Setting a TRAP

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I've seen about a thousand abortions. I've been in the room and held the hands of women from all over the world. I've counseled them about what to expect during the procedure and made sure they were well informed and as comfortable as possible while they were with me.

I did this at two Planned Parenthood centers in two states, Michigan and Maryland.

New proposals for cervical cancer screening

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The issue with preventive health screenings is not whether to screen but how often and whom. Early detection is recognized as the key to the best treatment in every case — but there's rarely consensus on screening guidelines for those without symptoms.

Screenings for cervical cancer are no exception. "You could ask everyone in my practice and probably get a different answer," says Swati Adawadkar, an OB-GYN with Williamsburg Obstetrics & Gynecology, who follows the recommendations of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It endorses Pap smears every two years and HPV testing from age 30.

Reaction mixed to new abortion rules

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The prospect of stricter rules on abortion clinics could have both financial and health consequences for women, representatives of abortion providers in Hampton Roads said Friday.

The new rules could require expensive structural renovations that are unrelated to patient care, but could drive up the cost of services, they said. Women may need more time to save money for an abortion, meaning they'll wait until later intheir pregnancy. The longer the wait, the greater the potential risk.

Va. releases draft of rules for abortion clinics

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The Virginia Department of Health has released draft regulations for licensure of abortion clinics that abortion-rights advocates say could threaten the continued availability of safe, legal procedures.

The proposed emergency rules, posted late Friday afternoon, include building requirements that some advocates view as costly, onerous and not intended for existing health-care facilities.

"Those guidelines are extensive, significant physical plant requirements," said Jessica Honke, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. "To make the changes could be upwards in the millions of dollars."

The Virginia Coalition to Protect Women's Health said the draft regulations require existing clinics to make "substantial architectural changes" to comply with the 2010 Guidelines for Design and Construction of Health Care Facilities.

The new rules follow an amended Republican-backed bill, Senate Bill 924, which narrowly passed the General Assembly this year on a tie-breaking vote cast by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

New report finds unplanned pregnancy rates are on the rise

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Efforts to slow the rate of accidental pregnancies have stalled in the United States, but new government requirements that insurers pay for all birth control may help, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The report from the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, which specializes in reproductive issues, found nearly half of all pregnancies in 2006 were unplanned and unintended. The rates grew the most among the poorest and least educated women, according to the study, to be published in the journal Contraception.

"Nearly half (49 percent) of pregnancies were unintended in 2006, up slightly from 2001 (48 percent). The unintended pregnancy rate increased to 52 per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years in 2006 from 50 in 2001," the report reads. Out of 6.7 million total pregnancies in 2006, 3.2 million were unplanned.

New Gonorrhea Drug Resistant Strain Realized; Global Threat

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A new strain of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea is likely to transform a common and once easily treatable infection into a global threat to public health, according to an international research team that has uncovered a variant that is resistant to all currently available antibiotics.

Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world. In the U.S. alone, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cases is estimated at 700,000 annually.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: Abortion debate clouds Planned Parenthood application

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A Planned Parenthood proposal to offer outpatient surgical services to poor women in Hampton Roads is caught up in the political battle over a new state law that requires abortion providers to be licensed as hospitals.

State health department officials are trying to wall off the pending
licensing regulations from the Virginia Beach Health Center's
request for a certificate of public need for two operating rooms to
treat gynecological conditions ranging from pelvic pain and breast biopsies to urinary incontinence and sterilization.

But the two issues have converged because of timing and the debate over whether abortion providers should have to meet standards similar, if not identical, to those required for outpatient surgical hospitals.

And because the center is owned by Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, the debate "is going to be about abortion and the politics of abortion," said Victoria Cobb, executive director of TheFamily Foundation. "That's just the reality."

James River Journal: Planned Parenthood, VBDPH and the Urban League team up for National HIV Testing Day

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Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia partnered with the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health and the Urban League of Hampton Roads to provide free STI/HIV testing on June 29. Held at Planned Parenthood’s Newtown health center, free testing for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis and HIV was performed for almost 50 individuals in the span of just 4 hours.

HuffPo: Dear Planned Parenthood: Thank You for My Law Degree, My Planned Family and My Health

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Dear Planned Parenthood: I should have thanked you long ago for all you have given me. When I saw you in the news taking such a beating, I knew I had to write. While politicians slur you, spread false information about your services and funding, and try to take away women's access to you, I offer
you my testimony with gratitude for the good life you have enabled
me and countless other women.

Thank you for the birth control pills you gave me when I was 17. I didn't get much information at my Catholic school, but you explained everything I needed to know to avoid getting pregnant or diseased. I loved my high school boyfriend, and continued to date him through most of college, but he was not "the one." I thank you for keeping me from being a teen mother, for the fact that my first boyfriend is not the father of my children, and for allowing me to focus on my studies, run cross country for my university, and graduate with a double major.

Thank you for the birth control pills you gave me through my years in law school. I still remember your welcoming office in an old house near the campus. I met the love of my life in October of my first year, and I was glad to be protected from getting pregnant. My sweetheart and I graduated cum laude together -- just the two of us, no babies yet. We married four years later. I can't imagine how difficult it would have been to be new parents during law school. I might not have made it through. I am so grateful for my education, and for the fact that my relationship with my husband had time to grow and mature before we had children. I am thankful that we both had good jobs and a house before we welcomed the first of two children who were very much planned and wanted. I am grateful that our education allowed for salaries that have kept our children well fed, clothed and educated. They are now amazing teenagers, soon to embark on their own lives of love and career.

Slate: The death of Roe V. Wade

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Supporters and opponents of abortion agree on nothing. One side says this is a conversation about fertilized eggs; the other says it's about fetuses. One side says the debate is about personal autonomy; the other says it's about murder. One side sees exceptions to abortion restrictions for reasons of maternal life or health as necessary to protect life; the other sees them as cunning "loopholes."

Daily Press: Abortion foes confused by facts

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Arizona senator Jon Kyl didn't just get it wrong — he got it spectacularly wrong.

Hilariously wrong.

Here's what the fervidly anti-choice Republican said last week on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

"If you want an abortion you go to Planned Parenthood and
that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."

"His remark was not intended to be a factual statement."

NYT: Behind the abortion war

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Part of the price of keeping the government operating this week is another debate over the financing of Planned Parenthood. Whoopee.

At least it’ll give us a chance to reminisce about Senator Jon Kyl, who gave that speech against federal support for Planned Parenthood last week that was noted for: A) its wild inaccuracy; and B) his staff’s explanation that the remarks
were “not intended to be a factual statement.”

WTKR: Hampton Roads has some of the highest STD rates in the nation

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Hampton Roads has some of the highest sexually transmitted disease rates in the nation.

It had the second-highest rate of chlamydia cases among U.S. metropolitan areas and third-highest rate of gonorrhea cases, according to a 2010 report by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.

Eastern Virginia has the highest percentage
of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state.

"We have a significant local epidemic," said Dr. Edward Oldfield, director of Eastern Virginia Medical School's infectious disease division.

That means people here are at a higher risk of infection — that engaging in unprotected sex is riskier here than it is in other parts of the country, Oldfield said. Once an infectious disease gets into a community, it spreads more easily here than it would elsewhere.

Planned Parenthood seeks to expand Virginia Beach clinic

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Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia has requested permission from the state to add two operating rooms to its clinic on Newtown Road.

If the January application is approved by the state health commissioner, the nonprofit's Virginia Beach Health Center will be able to perform additional procedures, such as removing growths from a woman's cervix or uterus and surgical treatments for incontinence.

The additional capability would help the center better serve women of all ages who are uninsured, said Dr. Robert Rashti, CEO of the local Planned Parenthood.

The proposal would change the center's classification to outpatient surgical hospital.

Virginian Pilot Editorial Board: Clinic restrictions minus a safety net

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It should be everyone's goal to reduce the number of abortions performed in Virginia. The best way to do that is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. But that wasn't the tactic chosen by Republican lawmakers last week.

Instead, they decided to clamp down abortions in the commonwealth by imposing new standards that could force the closure of as many as 17 of the 21 existing clinics offering first-trimester procedures.

Specifically, the General Assembly adopted a last-minute measure requiring the Board of Health to regulate clinics as hospitals. The legislation, which Gov. Bob McDonnell has promised to sign into law, would set more stringent rules than those used for other invasive medical procedures such as cosmetic and dental surgery.

The precise impact of the measure may not be known for years. Lawsuits are likely to delay implementation. Meanwhile, it's unclear how the regulatory board, now controlled by appointees of former Gov. Tim Kaine, will react to the instructions.

WAVY 10: Planned Parenthood on the chopping block

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Planned Parenthood clinics in Virginia could be forced to close or cut services, depending on how the Senate votes next week.

Last week, the House approved an amendment to take federal funding from Planned Parenthood. Across the country and here in Hampton Roads, some patients are
fighting back.

There's nothing Thy Tran loves more than being a mother.
She carefully timed out the births of her two children through Planned Parenthood.

"It'll just be a big mess if they cut off the funding for it," Tran said.

That's what the so-called Pence Amendment would do. It's named after Republican Representative Mike Pence of Indiana who proposed it.

CNN: Yes, oral sex is still sex, and it can boost cancer risk

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Here's a crucial message for teens: Oral sex carries many of the same risks as vaginal sex, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of oral cancers in America in people under age 50.

"Adolescents don’t think oral sex is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 'sex.'"

Halpern-Felsher and other researchers presented the latest information about the risks of contracting an HPV infection Sunday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.

Virginian Pilot: Planned Parenthood Saves Money
Letter to the Editor

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ONCE AGAIN, Planned Parenthood has come under attack. Congress is considering legislation that would prohibit the program from receiving any federal funding. This time there is a real risk that millions of women could lose access to basic primary and preventive care.

If we want to cut government spending, then we need toeducate our youth about safe sex and the options that are available. Teen pregnanciescost taxpayers more than $9 billion every year. Planned Parenthood provides an environment for people to seek the medical care they need.

There are more than 3 million unintended pregnancies every year, and more than 800,000 are teen pregnancies. This is not the time to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. In fact, for every dollar invested in family planning, taxpayers save nearly $4.

Daily Press: Sting Videos Muckraking in Action
By Tamara Dietrich

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What is it with right-wing muckrakers that they like to play dress-up as pimps 'n hookers?

Then use that ruse to try to take down groups that serve low-income, minority-rich populations?

Two years ago, it was James O'Keefe, a pale young neocon who tricked himself out in fur, fedora and walking stick, then, accompanied by a sweet piece of eye candy, targeted offices of ACORN, a national network of 1,200 community groups that agitates for, among other things, better wages, housing and health care for the poor.

O'Keefe and his sweet piece, posing as a prostitute, videotaped encounters with a few ACORN workers, then heavily edited the tapes to suggest the workers were giving them advice on how to hide their illegal sex work, as well as taxes owed.

NYT: The siege of Planned Parenthood
By Gail Collins

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As if we didn’t have enough wars, the House of Representatives has declared one against Planned Parenthood.

Maybe it’s all part of a grand theme. Last month, they voted to repeal the health care law. This month, they’re going after an organization that provides millions of women with both
family-planning services and basic health medical care, like pap
smears and screening for diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer
and sexually transmitted diseases.

Our legislative slogan for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches.

“What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?” demanded Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chief sponsor of a bill to bar the government from directing any money to any organization that provides abortion services.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t use government money to provide abortions; Congress already prohibits that, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. (Another anti-abortion bill that’s coming up for hearing originally proposed changing the wording to “forcible rape,” presumably under the theory that there was a problem with volunteer rape victims. On that matter at least, cooler heads prevailed.)

Daily Press: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia Expands Services for Older Women

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Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia has expanded its services to accommodate the medical needs of menopausal and post-menopausal women in Hampton Roads.

The services now also include an evaluation for hormone
replacement therapy (HRT) qualification, and HRT can be
prescribed if indicated.

NY Times: Single, Female, Mormon, Alone

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Of all the places I felt sure I’d never go, Planned Parenthood topped the list. Because, you know, they perform abortions and give condoms to kids, or so I’d been warned. Yet one spring afternoon found me in its waiting room next to a teenage girl, who was clearly perplexed by the intake form and likely bound for an uncomfortable, humiliating four minutes in the back of a borrowed Chevy Chevelle.

But what did I know? I was a 35-year-old virgin, preparing for my
own “first time,” which, incidentally, didn’t happen until I was well
into 36….

Oddly, my trip to Planned Parenthood provided much that the church had not in recent years. During my exam, the clinician explained every move before she made it, asked permission to touch me during the most routine procedures. I was mystified: by her compassion, by the level of attention paid to my body — as if it were fragile, or sacred. Only then did it occur to me how many terrified and abused women Planned Parenthood must treat every day.

And that brought me to tears, sorrowful for the ways in which we all suffer, in whatever ways we do, and grateful for the unlikely refuge of this place. Grateful also for the safety granted my own tears, prompted by the delicate weight of a hand on my shoulder, the warmth of her palm against my back….

Nicole Hardy, who lives in Seattle, is the author of two books of poetry, including “This Blonde” (Main Street Rag).


School day care helps teen moms and society
February 24, 2010

Leigh Anne Woods is community health educator for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia. She is based in Hampton.

THE VIRGINIAN Pilot recently ran a news article and Kerry Dougherty column regarding day care at school for pregnant teens. I see the lack of accountability and parental involvement every day.

Parents are not teaching their children about sex and responsibility. Because our public schools lack comprehensive sex education, 750,000 babies were born to teenagers in this country last year. The CDC estimates there are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year, the majority of which affect 15- to 19-year-olds. If you want to teach kids responsibility, then teach them everything they need to know to make smart, healthy choices.

I talk to teenagers every day. Most teens do not know what the word “abstinence” means. We have preached “don’t have sex” for so long they have tuned us out. Plus, teens are teaching each other, and their information is incorrect and dangerous. Here are some examples:

A balloon, garbage bag, bread bag, sandwich bag and Saran Wrap are effective means of protection. Pouring Mountain Dew on a man’s genitals before sex will prevent him from contracting an STI. The pill will protect against STIs.

Kids are surrounded by sex without consequences everywhere they look — music, advertisements, movies and TV. But there is no such thing as sex without responsibility and consequences.

Our task as a community is to counteract these falsehoods by thorough, factual education and share the truth regarding consequences of a sexual relationship before they become sexually active.

Plus, public money already is involved. So many people say, “I do not want my tax dollars paying for some girl who chose not to practice abstinence.” When a pregnant teen applies for social services, those are our tax dollars. When 80 percent of day care expenses are paid as long as the teen stays in school or works full time, those are our tax dollars. Why not pull in outside resources to offer day care at a reduced cost?

If we tie day care to a prekindergarten program, we are helping educate the very children we are trying to save. Most children born to teen mothers have the deck stacked against them. We can teach children the necessities they need for a head start in school.

We could punish mothers by not furnishing crucial services like day care, but what we are really doing is punishing the children. It is not the child’s fault that families and society have failed to educate his or her parents. It is not the child’s fault that parents cannot financially support him or her.

The best way to fight the cycle of poverty is with education. If we help teen parents get an education, they get a job and can get off public assistance.

We need to look at the big picture. The key is prevention through education. Parents cannot do this by themselves. Neither can the schools.

While we are arguing, pointing fingers and being political, our kids are becoming pregnant and contracting diseases that can cause long-term issues.

Parents need to start early and talk often. Schools need to supplement this information with accurate information about STIs, contraception and healthy relationships. People need to realize a little money spent now will save a lot of money later.