I'm Lena Chen, a writer, activist, and media producer who's been called a "skank" (by Bill O'Reilly) and "a small Asian woman" (by The New York Times). My favorite part of my workday is the hate mail.For the unlikely story that is my life, read on.
From the program: Looking at the five to ten top reproductive health stories to watch under President Obama, we’ll prepare bloggers, advocates, and journalists to cover them, offering a clear synthesis of what legal and policy issues are coming up next, discussing how the nuts and bolts of how to track and report on these stories, and exploring how the feminist blogosphere can elevate and drive coverage of these issues. We’ll look at policy issues from a comprehensive, justice-focused framework and discuss punchy, disarming ways to counter misinformation from the anti-choice movement. This session is an opportunity to brainstorm collaboration between policy/advocacy organizations, jouranlists and the blogosphere.
Emily Douglas, content editor, RH Reality Check
Dana Goldstein, staff writer, The American Prospect
Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, deputy director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Kiki Zeldes, web manager and editor, Our Bodies Ourselves
“[The web resources under the old administration] makes it seem like there’s nothing you can do but be abstinent. And the second one, which is much more accurate, says we have an incredible tool [condoms] that can help prevent you from getting these diseases if you use them correctly. It’s a very different message of empowerment and that you have a choice, that you can protect yosuelf. I was really struck by the subtle ways info can be distorted. They’re not blatant lies, but it’s how information is affected. I was really delighted to see a change happen.” -Kiki Zeldes
Zeldes calls for more transparency about where funding for drug trials come from and how that affects the results, since pharmaceutical companies can influence research methods. Douglas says that it seems that while the FDA tried to delay approval of Plan B, the approval process for Gardasil moved along quite speedily, perhaps a result of pharmaceutical companies lobbying for it. Zeldes says the hormones involved in Plan B have been around forever, have been tested and researched, and have demonstrated long-term efficacy. Even in the FDA, there wasn’t anyone who said this isn’t effective. They were trying to limit it to certain populations and stall it. It took political pressure to force them to move on it. Although Our Bodies Ourselves haven’t taken a stance on the the long-term safety of the HPV vaccine, they are against mandates.
Studies conducted by drugs companies are three to five times more likely to give a positive result for the product being studied. They are not required to publish the information they come up with. With more money coming from government, it takes out a huge conflict of interest.
Gonzales-Rojas speaks of a woman who was pulled over while pregnant, arrested for being an illegal immigrant, and separated from her newborn after childbirth (during which she had handcuffs on). Her organization, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, approaches feminist issues from a human rights framework. She thinks Obama is committed to overhauling healthcare, signaled a lot of support for immigration reform. Latina Institute is working at the intersection of immigrant rights, reproductive freedoms, and feminism.
Dana Goldstein said that including reproductive health in sliding scale (based on income) healthcare plan would probably face opposition from Republicans. For conservatives, adoption is only discussed and encouraged as an alternative to abortion. Mayor Bloomberg was promoting circumcision as a HIV preventative among gay, black populations in New York. In reality, studies suggesting that circumcision is an effective way to prevent HIV were done in Africa promoting heterosexual population. Circumcision in adult men actually causes increased risk to women.
Goldstein says that Nebraska has a safe haven law that allows parents to leave their newborns if they couldn’t afford to take care of them. Poor families or families without health insurance began to leave older, teenage children with developmental disabilities. Goldstein suspected that anti-abortion groups were behind safe haven laws and was correct.
Audience member mentions that women seem to be the receptacles of all the responsibility and all the burden of contraception.