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Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

08 June 2017

I can't believe I still have to blog about Planned Parenthood

Like a lot of people I turned to Planned Parenthood during college. 

Those were the days when Planned Parenthood sold birth control pills that fell under some weird rules that ended in the Dubya era so a pack of pills was maybe $10, maybe a bit less if I bought more than one at a time. But most of the time I bought a pack each month, having to hike over to the clinic off campus and say hi to the staff. Which might be why I love Planned Parenthood so much and ended up volunteering with them soon after college.


Ah, the good old days of the late 1990s when passing out free condoms seemed to be the height of being a radical.

That's how I spent one summer...passing out free condoms at street fairs in Chicago. But of course that was just to get people to the table. To get them talking. Once we lured people in with the free condom we would register people to vote, talk to them about how even with a Democrat in the White House, reproductive rights were being threatened. It was just a few years after the Illinois General Assembly passed a parental notification law, but was soon blocked from being active until just a few years ago. We also had issues with the rise of abstinence-only sex education, not to mention the so-called late term abortion bills of the 1990s. So yeah, handing out condoms to fellow Chicagoans was a crash course in WTF is going wrong in reproductive rights.



I also spent a year volunteering at the clinic that provided abortion services. While I did not work on the days the services were preformed, I did interact with many of the women who came in for post-care. I saw first hand the fear they had until they were assured that yes, you are no longer pregnant. I also interacted with young people seeking care and guidance with STIs, HIV, abnormal pap smears, and general not-feeling-wellness.

I stand with Planned Parenthood not just because they got me through college, but because of the work they did to help all those people I checked into the clinic get through life. And continue to get people through life. While I know that unplanned pregnancies do not have to ruin a life, I knew that I was not ready to become a mother in college. Thankfully Planned Parenthood was there for me when I needed them.



Now we're living in a moment where not just the President flip-flops on his views around reproductive rights, but I live in Illinois where our Governor is a huge donor to Planned Parenthood, but says will veto a bill protecting abortion access.

So we must rise up and protect Planned Parenthood. We need to keep their doors open so people who need their care can receive it. We cannot live in a country where Planned Parenthood's doors are locked.

And the GOP is getting itchy about Trumpcare. They want a vote soon in order to kill it and move on to tax reform. But we have to MAKE SURE Trumpcare is dead. We can't rely on the GOP to mess it up.

There are FOUR ways to protect Planned Parenthood:


Ready? Then let's do this!!


This post is made possible with support from the Mission List. All opinions are my own.

06 November 2016

Why I joined #BreakUpwithSalt


I was honored to be asked to join the American Heart Association's #BreakUpwithSalt team. Here is an excerpt of my post:
This December I’ll be 42. That puts me at t-minus five years until I am as old as my mom was when she died. FIVE YEARS. No one does know how long, but most of us do want to live to be little old ladies and men. One thing I am trying to get a hold of is my health. My mom died of diabetes and my dad, thankfully still with us, is battling high blood pressure and heart disease. So yeah, I have a lot of work cut out for me.

In terms of the high blood pressure, I know that increased sodium in one’s diet is the major cause of that. But I had forgotten WHY this is such a bad thing to do to one’s body.
Head over to the AHA's site to read more of my reasoning and to find resources on how you can also #BreakupwithSalt.

Disclaimer: I was compensated for writing my post on the AHA.



16 October 2016

Here’s to Planned Parenthood #100YearsStrong


100 years today Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in New York. It was soon shut down because 100 years ago birth control was outright illegal. While Sanger is fraught with complications due to her strategy to partner with wealthy eugenicists to bankroll the development of the bitch control pill and other aspects of the birth control movement, her work lead to the founding of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is where myself as well as many friends first sought out reproductive healthcare. It is where the protagonist in Judy Blume’s Forever heads to when she decides she is ready to have sex with her high school sweetheart. They have always been a target of conservative forces who wish to reduce women’s access to healthcare. From being painted as abortion mills to targeting communities of color, Planned Parenthood has had to fight for its existence from day one.

As an 18-year-old I was lucky to have plenty of Planned Parenthood clinics to choose from when I needed reproductive healthcare. Alas, too many parts of the USA have only one Planned Parenthood for too wide of geographic area.

Planned Parenthood as a brand is good for the entire reproductive health care movement in terms of knowledge. Being able to be name dropped in a timeless novel is important to young people identifying where they can obtain services without having to ask their parents. On her 13th birthday, our health care provider gave my daughter more privacy on our account. Now she can make her own appointments, but I can’t see how the system can give her total privacy since we do have health insurance and get statements. That said, I am glad that our health care provider gives young people a sense of autonomy. But that is why Planned Parenthood and other clinics are so important – privacy.

After college I volunteered at one of the Planned Parenthood clinics. I checked in patients, filed records, and other things required as the first face people saw. I will never forget a young woman, probably in college, who was frantic about her privacy, “My mom will never know, right? Even if she calls?” That said, I saw young women escorted to the clinic with their mothers as well.

In 100 years, Planned Parenthood has offered the women and men of the USA the opportunity to access confidential healthcare. From birth control, abortions, mammograms, and STI testing, Planned Parenthood has done a lot for us. I’m conflicted on what to wish them for the next 100. Ideally women wouldn’t need a separate healthcare clinic for pregnancy terminations or low-income women need to seek out free mammograms outside of their regular healthcare team. But until we get to that day, long-live Planned Parenthood and their kick ass services.

22 February 2016

Stopping HIV in the Latino Community One Conversation at a Time


I am proud to be part of the CDC's national communication campaign - We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time / Podemos Detener el VIH Una Conversación a la Vez - to bring awareness of HIV and encourage conversations about HIV prevention in the Latino community as a paid ambassador.

The numbers can be scary. Hispanics/Latinos continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Although representing 17% of the total US population, Hispanic/Latinos account for 21% of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States and 23% of new diagnoses.

What the Latino community needs to realize is that the first step to stopping HIV in the our community is talking about it, but so many people in our community still remain silent. Research indicates that talking openly about HIV can be a simple but powerful way to eliminate some of the stigma, negative stereotypes, and shame that are too often associated with HIV within some segments of our community that prevent many from talking, getting tested, disclosing their HIV status, and seeking treatment.

To help Hispanics/Latinos start these critical conversations, the campaign provides resources, including a dedicated campaign website and practical tools and tips to help families and friends begin or continue important conversations about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.

I joined other One Conversation ambassadors for a Twitter chat last week. It was fun and enlightening to see what others were thinking about HIV awareness in our communities.  A lot of people cited the stigma Latino families have around sex. I have always found that so ironic that we are stereotypically seen as hypersexual. But it is true, Latinos find it difficult to talk to their children about sex, much less HIV prevention.

I hope that the CDC's campaign site helps parents who need support talking to their kids about HIV prevention. We can bring down the rates of infection One Conversation at a Time.

31 January 2016

No Más Bebés Premieres on Independent Lens

No Más Bebés tells the story of a little-known but landmark event in reproductive justice, when a small group of Mexican immigrant women sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and early 1970s.



This moving (seriously, have tissues at hand!) documentary about the human rights abuses inflicted on Latinas in the 1960s and 1970s will have you up in arms. My friend and colleague, Elena R. Gutiérrez did a lot of the research work to help put together this puzzle. In a blog post about the film she says:
“No Más Bebés” also shows that socially grounded attitudes relating to ethnicity and gender can play a role in the provision of reproductive health care services; a message that is important for us to hear today. In my own research I show that the abusive practices that occurred at LACMC were not only shaped by debates on population control, but also by concerns about increased immigration from Mexico and the stereotype that Mexican women gave birth to too many children. Through tracing newspaper articles, organizational records and scholarly research in Fertile Matters: The Politics of Mexican-origin Women’s Reproduction, I show how these “stereotypes” about Mexican immigrant women being hyper-fertile and “having too many children” are deeply-rooted beliefs that are part and parcel of institutionalized racism and were perpetuated by the media, social science, and immigration control activists throughout the 20th century carrying into the 21st century. Beyond representations of the perpetually “pregnant pilgrim” who came to the United States purposefully to have children born on US soil so that that they could become American citizens (an idea perpetuated in both Mexican news media and popular culture), “hyperfertility” as a social construct became significantly entrenched in academia, and has thus gained legitimacy in both scholarly research and policy response. I argue that this context and the general public perception that Latina women are significantly more “fertile” than women of other races and ethnicities influenced medical practitioners’ behaviors.
Elena R. Gutierrez is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is also co-author of Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice, which will be reprinted by Haymarket Press in April and director of the Reproductive Justice Virtual Library.

This is an important film to view and discuss. I do not want you to just watch it, think and stop there. No. This film calls for action. It demands it. I saw a sneak preview of No Mas Bebes about a year ago and was floored. And I know much of the history already. What makes this such a powerful film is that you hear from the women who were robbed of future children. They were robbed of that decision to even have future children. You hear from their families. It is just, gah...

At the moment we are in the midst of the 2016 Presidential campaign. We have candidates who are railing against anchor babies, wanting to use religious tests on refugees and then those who are calling for the end of the Hyde Amendment in order to increase women's access to reproductive services. All of these moments are connected because the government wants to say who is welcome not just in the USA, but who is welcome to reproduce and parent. Too often the feminist movement is seen as just about abortion, but an intersectional feminist movement is concerned about parenting as well.

On top of this political conversation is the recent worry over the Zika virus. A health issue that is worth of concern over who is getting pregnant, the governments that are calling for women to hold off on getting pregnant and failing to give them access to the tools (birth control and abortion) to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. 

This film premieres on February 1st on your loca PBS station. Watch it, tweet it, share it, discuss it. It's that important and not just to Latinas around the world.


20 November 2015

Thor is the new face of breast cancer

It has been just over a year since the world was introduced to a new Thor...the woman who now wields the hammer. Earlier this year we found out that the new Thor is none other than Dr. Jane Foster. Added to this story line is the fact that Jane has breast cancer. When we catch up with Jane in The Mighty Thor she is in the middle of a chemo treatment.

The image of Jane at her treatment was a punch in the gut. I have far too many friends enduring that same routine. Another one was just added to that list. #FuckCancer can't be said enough. There is something about the images of Jane in the room with others receiving treatment that is just shocking. I am not sure what I thought the room actually looked like, but having never been in one, it was enlightening.

We see Jane go from dying cancer patient to unstoppable superhero. In a previous series we know that Jane will not accept magical cures. Chemo is her best chance to beat cancer's ass. There is a twist that I won't reveal here that puts Jane's ability to kick cancer's ass in jeopardy.

I really hope that we don't get an all pink issue of The Mighty Thor to mark this battle. The pinkification of breast cancer awareness is overdone. As one of my friends with breast cancer ranted during October, we are well aware of breast cancer. Buying pink things will not get us closer to a cure or prevention. But this issue is not full of pink. Rather I feel that this issue has given me one of the starkest views of breast cancer treatment that I have ever seen.

As I wrote yesterday, I moved to digital comics, so feel free to download the issue and read yourself. I would really love to hear from those who have fought or continue to fight breast cancer. Or perhaps it may be too triggering. One thing I know, we have a new face of breast cancer and she's gonna kick its ass.


I am trying to raise $1,000 for Bitch Media by December 31st. Please consider supporting this almost-20-year-old independent feminist media organization by:
  1. Simply donating $10 or $100.Whatever you can give will help!
  2. Subscribe! Right now subscriptions are 20% off AND you get a geeky pencil set.
  3. Gift a subscription! Perfect for your favorite feminist pop culture junkie!
  4. Join me in being a sustaining member of Bitch Media by giving a small amount every month.

17 November 2015

Texas women are attempting to self-abort

Hundreds of thousands of Texas women may have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a “first of its kind” study released Tuesday by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP).  [link]

When I heard this stat today I wanted to puke.

It is actually quite difficult for me to form an intelligent rant about this. I am just. Ugh. I have been active in the reproductive justice movement for a long time and this is as bad as I feel it has gotten. I have heard stories of women resorting to self-induced abortions before. Heard rumbles of the return of back-alley abortions. Known of women who have given birth despite not wanting to add another baby to their family. But to have a study that quantifies how much we are failing women in this country? I'm sickened.

This is exactly the type of work that one Missouri state senator wants to stop by censoring a woman's dissertation.
In a letter to University of Missouri officials, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) argues that Lindsay Ruhr, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, is illegally using public funds to conduct her dissertation research on the state's law that requires a 72-hour waiting period before a woman receives an abortion. Ruhr is using Planned Parenthood data to analyze the effects of the law on women's decision making. In Missouri it is illegal for public employees and facilities to use state money towards "encouraging or counseling" a person to have an abortion not necessary to save her life.
In Texas, Latinas who live near the border appear to be more likely to be attempting to self-induce an abortion. This is quite disconcerting. It was also quite predicted by many reproductive justice activists. Bitch Media discusses the many obstacles that undocumented Latinas face at the border when attempting to seek any healthcare services, much less abortion services. Women who do not have access or limited access to healthcare will still attempt to not carry a pregnancy to term if she does not want to become a mother (again).

So while I am heartbroken over the results of the study, I am grateful that we now have data on the hardships that anti-abortion laws are doing to the people of the USA. Research on, feministas!




I am trying to raise $1,000 for Bitch Media by December 31st. Please consider supporting this almost-20-year-old independent feminist media organization by:
  1. Simply donating $10 or $100.Whatever you can give will help!
  2. Subscribe! Right now subscriptions are 20% off AND you get a geeky pencil set.
  3. Gift a subscription! Perfect for your favorite feminist pop culture junkie!
  4. Join me in being a sustaining member of Bitch Media by giving a small amount every month.

07 October 2015

#OneConversation - Latino HIV Awareness Campaign

web banner: We can stop HIV One Conversation At A Time.  Campaign Image of a middle aged Latina and a speech bubble with a message: We need to talk openly about HIV.

You may notice an ad on the sidebar that says "We Can Stop HIV". That is because I have been asked to join the CDC's HIV Awareness campaign. One Conversation at a Time, a CDC campaign, is a call to action for our community to talk about HIV and AIDS, increase HIV and AIDS awareness, and decrease HIV-associated stigma and shame. Now you might ask why we need a special emphasis in the Latino community. The fact is that "[m]ore than 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States and about 50,000 people become infected each year. As Hispanics/Latinos, we account for 21% of these new HIV infections."Compare this to the fact that Latinos make up 17% of the population in the United States. This is unacceptable.

Stay tuned throughout the campaign as I share more information about HIV and its impact in the Latino community.

Join LATISM’s Twitter chat on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 9:00 ET.
Use either use the #OneConversation or #UnaConversación hashtag.


Disclaimer: I am being compensated for participating in this campaign. This is a sponsored post.

01 December 2014

Reducing Open Enrollment Headaches!

President Obama Signs Health Insurance Legislation Into Law by Pete Souza
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Far too many of my friends are underinsured or have no insurance at all. That is why I was a proponent for the Affordable Care Act or ACA. But I know that just because we have access to ACA things are fine and dandy either. For many people it can be overwhelming to choose an insurance plan. I know when it is open enrollment time for my workplace insurance plan I hid my head because it was confusing enough to select a plan the first time around.

That is why I am partnering with UnitedHealthcare to bring you helpful videos to make selecting an ACA plan a little easier for you. The first thing is to check out their Open Enrollment Guide to help you figure out what you should be thinking about when selecting a plan.

Another aspect of health insurance that you should keep in mind is the differing cost of treatment and procedures. Before ACA, friend of VLF, Kathie Bergquist, Editor in Chief of Ms. Fit Magazine, had been covering herself with the same plan since grad school:
As an adjunct professor, I don't receive health insurance through my employer. Up until earlier this year, I never used my insurance for anything other than routine check-ups. Then, this past winter, I was hospitalized for a severe asthma attack; almost as soon as I was out of the hospital, I received a notice that *former insurance company* was jacking my premium by more than $100/month, from $328 to $430. In the ongoing treatments I required, I came to realize that my exiting plan was pretty terrible. It covered absolutely no diagnostic care; I had to pay 100% of all tests, etc., plus for any doctor visits outside of my annual exam. I never realized how limited my plan was because I'd never really had to use it before, and I had it for a long time. So, I'm getting all these tests and follow up doctor visits, getting billed 100% for them, Also, there was no prescription coverage, and I was put on medicine that costs $300/month. AND I was still paying my insurance premium, and when I turned 45, the raised it again -- to $460, for terrible, useless coverage.

The open enrollment period couldn't open up quickly enough for me.
 
Through the healthcare.gov website, I was able to get a platinum insurance plan with no deductible, PLUS pretty good dental coverage for $100/month less than the monthly premium for my worthless *former* plan. Now I know that I can continue to receive the medical care I need (and some overdue dental work) without having to worry about it bankrupting me or ruining my credit. Such a relief! I'm glad to know that I will actually be getting what I am paying for. 

And if you don't know what a deductible is, you should know because it is an important part of your health insurance plan. 

So hopefully you know a little more about what you should be considering as you go through the menu of options in your state marketplace or the national marketplace. And if you are like me, I have learned that we should also be checking out our deductibles and out-of-pocket fees on a regular basis. I am guilty of sticking with a plan unless I change jobs or a carrier is dropped.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated by UnitedHealthcare to create this post. 

18 November 2014

When the child needs to give the "quit smoking" talk

In sixth grade the anti-smoking message was drilled into us HARD. I remember health class going on and on about the dangers of smoking despite it still being a sign of coolness in the last 1980s. We were subjected to very graphic photos of black lungs and diseased hearts. Smoking equaled death. I freaked the hell out.

I became the most passive aggressive anti-smoker campaigner. Fueled by multiple viewings of “Mask,” I utilized Rocky’s use to hiding anti-smoking brochures around the house where my mom would find them. She rarely ever smoked in front of me, but I knew she smoked. It was weird because she did not quite hide her smoking, but relegated it to times when she was not with me. I even tried to sabotage her smoking by squishing the cigarettes she kept in the seat pocket of her van, while also occasionally stealing a cigarette. If these things were as evil and addicting as every one is telling me, but they are also so cool and sexy…I had to try them myself.

I was an utter failure.

I failed at my attempt to become a smoker. I could never inhale. I would puff and let the smoke escape my mouth before it truly infiltrated my lungs. I became addicted to trying to look cool. I am pretty sure that the real smokers in my circle of friends knew I was a phony.

I was also a failure at getting my mom to stop smoking. Just as in “Mask,” we had a confrontation about my brochures. She asked me why I could not just come out and tell her, “Mom, I love you, please stop smoking.” I could never answer that question. I still can’t. I am pretty sure that I shrugged and tried to say just that anyway. It was my mom’s superpower to thrust the issue back onto me and me failing at throwing it back at her. She went on smoking and I went back to squishing her cigarettes whenever I could.

Sometime in high school my mom figured that I was enough of a friend that she could smoke in front of me; specifically in my car. Armed with teenage rebellion I was able to tell her to hang out the window. “I tell my friends who want to smoke in here, if you want to hang out the car while smoking, go for it, but no smoke inside the car.” She laughed and lit up. I stopped the car and asked her to get out. I want to say she put out the cigarette and we drove on with our day, but I feel like she just went on smoking because she was the mom.

I never spoke to her about her smoking after she was diagnosed with diabetes. She made it clear that since I did not live with her, her health issues were none of my business. “What are you going to do about it?” was her mantra. Looking back I know it was my mom’s way of pushing me away. That is why I implore those of you reading this to push back. My mom was 47 when she died from complications due to diabetes.

I know this is my guilt speaking, but I do wish I had done more to talk to her about her health. If you have someone in your life that smokes and you want them to quit, just tell them.

Why not take this opportunity to invite your loved on to join the Great American Smokeout on November 20th? November 20 marks the American Cancer Society’s 38th year of the Great American Smokeout (GASO), an initiative to encourage smokers to commit to quit or make a plan to quit on that day. By quitting, even for one day, smokers will take a critical step to a healthier life that can reduce the risk of cancer. Need some assistance? Call the GASO 800-number (1-800-227-2345) or join the Quit for Life Facebook page.

And good luck!

This post represents a sponsored editorial partnership with the American Cancer Society. All storytelling and opinions are, of course, my own.

23 October 2014

I'm part of the 99%

of women who have used birth control.

That is what a new t-shirt designed by Natasha Lyonne and Selenis Leyva says. Sales of the shirts go towards supporting Planned Parenthood.

Oh yeah, on the back it says, "It's My Business, Not Politicians." I say we wear these on election day!



03 August 2014

5th Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice


Monday, August 4 to Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice is an initiative that elevates Latina leadership, power and activism to transform the cultural narrative via a collective call to action on critical reproductive justice issues facing our community.

Despite what the NYTimes thinks, reproductive justice is not a new term, rather one that comes from women of color organizing beyond the "pro-choice" box to ensure our work is not about one procedure, one action, but rather a holistic view of women's lives and how we make decisions about when, how, and why we become mothers or not.

To mark this week you can:
  • Organize an in-district visit with your elected officials
  • Host a rally, street action, community meeting or cafecito
  • Write a blog (VLF is open for guest posts!)
  • Mobilize using social media using the hashtags: #WOA14 and #RJrevolution
  • Contact Angy@latinainstitute.org to learn more ways to get involved and share what you are doing

29 May 2014

Women's Health Activism & Online Feminism

If you aren't following Jessie Daniels on SlideShare, go do it now. She just posted another great presentation (although I wish it came with all her thoughts) about online feminism. This time it is about women's health activism.








10 December 2013

This and That Tuesday

This is what you get when I'm trying to clean out my inbox and no time to write a lengthy piece about these stories:

    • Voto Latino and Planned Parenthood Federation of America convened a panel discussion on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the Latino community. The event was especially timely as the federal government and community partners on the ground prepare for the rollout of the Spanish language enrollment website, www.cuidadodesalud.gov, this month. Every year, more than 600,000 Latinos -- mostly Latinas -- visit Planned Parenthood health centers to access health care services, including important preventive services like well-woman exams, breast health services, and cervical cancer screenings.

    • Soroptimist, the global women's organization, presents the annual Women’s Opportunity Awards, which provides cash grants to women for education and training. The 2013 Women’s Opportunity Award winner is Aziza Kibibi.  Aziza was held prisoner and sexually abused by her father, an MTV award winning director affiliated with The Fugees, who was recently convicted to 90 years in prison because of what he did to his daughters. TW: rape, sexual abuse

    • Women left behind in the economic recovery: A short video discussion with Kate Gallagher Robbins of the National Women's Law Center with Nia-Malika Henderson about women's economic struggles since the recession ended in 2009, and the dramatic rise in their ranks among low-wage workers. (The Washington Post)

    • There's no better way to start debating the state of public education in the US than the PISA results. This is an international assessment of 15-year-olds on their math, reading and science knowledge. According to this assessment the US is getting smoked. But the Education Trust reminds us that if we look "deeper at the data from within the U.S., gaps between African American students and their white peers are equal to more than two years’ worth of learning in math, while gaps between Latino and white students exceed one year. Gaps between U.S. students in low-income schools and those in wealthier schools are even more alarming: Students in the lowest income schools lag behind their peers in the highest income schools by about two and a half years’ worth of learning in math." Dan Montgomery, the president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, claims if we rank results by poverty rates, the US actually comes out on top. This is both awesome, but depressing. Awesome that we can do so well despite our lack of addressing the roots of poverty, but depressing that the US ranks #1 in those who participate in PISA.

    • The US Department of Labor is marking its 100th anniversary by creating a list of "Books that Shaped Work in America" and they want your suggestions!  

    29 July 2013

    Stuff I've written that's been posted elsewhere...

    Just a quick note to point out two pieces that I wrote for other sites that perhaps you missed...

    1) I interviewed US Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius while she was in town for Blogher '13:
    This week a little boy was born in London. One day he will grow up to be the King of England. This week a little boy was born in Chicago. Who knows what he will grow up to be. One thing we do know is that the future king’s birth most likely cost half as much as baby boy Chicago. 
     
    The state and cost of health care in the USA is why the Affordable Care Act is an important piece of legislation. I am unsure if the cost of health care will go down under Obamacare (I hear it won’t), but we do know that everyone will be mandated to have insurance. This, hopefully, should put health care in the affordable category for most of us. But will it help minimize health disparities in the US? This is what I asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

     To read the rest, visit The Broad Side.

    2) Latina Lista asked me to write a short summary of the MALCS 2013 Summer Institute that I attended and presented at:
    Columbus, Ohio is not the first place you would guess for an academic gathering focused on Chicana/Latina and Native American women studies with a feminist heart. But last week it was!

    The MALCS 2013 Summer Institute is an annual gathering of Chicana and Native American scholars. This was my first time attending. I have failed to attend in the past mostly because I have not felt that my academic work had focused on Latinas enough. But after learning that MALCS also had a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) track, I knew I needed to go to present my work and hopefully learn from other attendees.

    Within the STEM track, there were presentations on the low number of Chicanas/Latinas in STEM at all levels, from undergraduate students to faculty members.

    Jean Rockford Aguilar-Valedz, PhD, used Gloria Anzalduan’s writing to frame her solution of the decolonizing science education. “Why are the advances that the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans made not discussed in the same manner as European civilizations?” I could not help but hear Edward James Olmos as Jaime Escalante saying, “You burros have math in your blood!” 
    Read the rest at Latina Lista

    07 September 2012

    Our Bodies, Our Votes

    My submission to the Our Bodies, Our Votes tumblr


    Get your own bumpersticker!

    16 August 2012

    What aren't I allergic to? CHOCOLATE! (Possible TMI)

    Today I finally went in for allergy testing.

    I've suffered from seasonal allergies since I was in the first grade. As I have gotten older, my allergies have only gotten worse. Somewhere in my twenties, my allergies turned into a touch of asthma. Really cold weather is my big trigger, although heavy exercise does as well.

    But this spring I had a few weeks where my allergies were seriously killing me. I felt like they were aggravating, if not triggering migraines. Because I kept showing up at my doctor's office begging to be squeezed in, I saw a few different doctors. One, the man, diagnosed me with a deviated septum. This is something I have suspected for many years. When my allergies get really bad, I can feel it in the same spot on the left side of my nose. So he sent me to see an ear & nose specialist.

    That specialist said my deviation wasn't impacting my allergies very much. It wasn't helping, but fixing it wasn't going to do a lot for me. Instead she strongly suggested allergy testing. And yes, this was so we could see if allergy shots would be a benefit for me.

    So here are my results:

    Allergy Testing
    Right Wrist: Positive for Cottonwood & White birch


    Allergy Testing
    Left forearm: Positive for White Ash (Top-left: do you see how awesomely bad I reacted? The nurse practically gasped), White Oak (Bottom-left) , Ragweed (Top-right) and Pigweed (Bottom-right)


    Allergy Testing
    Right forearm: You can see the slight reaction to dog & cat. The cat is worse than the dog reaction.

    I was tested for about 36 items and came up positive for 12 items. TWELVE!

    *drum roll*
    • Aspergilius (mild)
    • Cat
    • Dog
    • Cottonwood
    • White Birch
    • White Ash
    • White Oak
    • English Plantain
    • Lamb's Quarter
    • Ragweed
    • Pigweed
    • Western Waterhemp
    Whew!

    I wasn't tested for any food allergies, but there are a lot of foods that could be causing my allergies due to cross-reactivity like apples, cherries, potatoes, peanuts and a whole lot more that I pray I don't have to cut out of my diet. Cause seriously, bananas and chamomile?

    Today isn't the end of my journey, but it was something I thought would be fun to share. Cause as awful as my photos look, it was pretty damn cool to watch the process. If you are thinking of allergy testing, it doesn't really hurt. It felt like getting pricked by thumb tacks. And believe me...I have fainted from getting a flu shot. I would not lie to you!

    15 August 2012

    EVENT: Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk!


    You’re Invited!

    Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk!

    This Annual Event Supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention!


    Walk to Save Lives! Walk to Support the Cause!

    Walk to Raise Awareness! Walk to Honor a Loved One!

    Saturday, September 29th
    Check In at 8 am | Event Begins at 9 am
    At Independence Grove in Libertyville


    Register Today at

    Help Spread The Word!

    Post Walk info to social networking sites and around town.

    · Walk Tear Off Flier: http://www.afsp.org/files/Field_Staff/Chi_Tear_Off.pdf

    · Flier: http://www.afsp.org/files/Field_Staff/Chi_Flyer.pdf

    · Leaflet: http://www.afsp.org/files/Field_Staff/Chi_Leaflet.pdf

    15 February 2012

    Tweet & Rally against attacks on women's health in Illinois

    Attention Illinois readers!

    Did you know that Illinois Republicans think that women are livestock? That must be the only reason why they continue to submit bills impacting women's health to the Agriculture Committee.

    Want to learn more?


    Hands Off Women’s Health Twitter Chat

    Lorie Chaiten, ACLU of Illinois, Director of Reproductive Rights, is hosting a twitter chat on Thursday, February 16th from 1-2 pm discussing the Health and Human Services Plan B decision, the Mississippi personhood amendment, the Komen/Planned Parenthood controversy, the birth control coverage compromise, the attacks on reproductive health care here in Illinois and everything in between. Please follow the hashtag #HOWH (Hands Off Women’s Health) and join in the discussion.

    Women Are Still Not Livestock Rally and Lobby Day

    Yet again, extremists are trying to close down access to reproductive health care under the guise of protecting women’s health – by ramming measures though the Agriculture Committee (a noted authority on the subject).

    Please join Illinois Reproductive Rights Activists next week on Tuesday the 21st for a rally and lobby day in opposition to treating women like livestock. The t-shirts are will be even more awesome this year, and you will definitely want to get one.

    Things will get started at 10:30 am in Springfield, and transportation is available. 
    Please RSVP: http://action.aclu.org/cows2012.

    Can't wait until next week? TAKE ACTION NOW:

    Today, HB 4085, the so-called Ultrasound Opportunity Act, was sent to the Agriculture Committee. It could be heard during their Tuesday, February 21 hearing scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

    Like last year’s bill, HB 4085 would require that prior to an abortion, the provider must offer the woman to have and view an ultrasound. The woman’s decision must be recorded in her medical record and reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The bill contains some vague and non-medical terminology that would be problematic for physicians who try to comply with its requirements. Unlike last year’s version, HB 4085 has no waiting period between the ultrasound and the abortion.

    Write/call you state representative and tell him/her to “vote NO on HB 4085”.
    Contact information for House members is available at: http://www.ilga.gov/house/default.asp

    Next...pass this on! 

    11 February 2012

    Occupy the Pews

    The past week's brouhaha over religiously affiliated entities having to provide their women employees with birth control was infuriating to watch. I agree with the original stance of the White House that churches and houses of worship are exempt. But religiously affiliated hospitals and universities are different. Especially hospitals.

    According to Religion & Ethics Weekly, "Catholic hospitals have become the largest nonprofit health care provider in the US, with over 600 hospitals. This year, one in six patients will be cared for in a Catholic hospital." For those of us living in large cities, we have a choice as to which hospital to use. But families who live in rural America have little, if no choice. I believe that even suburban families are also impacted.

    But during the past week's "debate" over birth control, Anthony Picarello, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops general counsel finally revealed to the world their ultimate goal - no birth control. I know, I know, some of us knew this already, but it was great to hear it from their mouths and not just feminists piecing it together from other statements. His desire for even a Taco Bell owner to refuse birth control to employees based is just the ultimate.

    This Sunday a letter from Chicago's Cardinal Francis George was to be read. I'm not sure if it still will be, but I suspect there will still be some sort of lecture from the pulpit about the evil of birth control as the Church is not happy with the "accommodation" the White House issued yesterday.

    The last time I was at Catholic services, I'm pretty sure it was for a funeral. I grew up Catholic, but my mom made it crystal clear that we didn't go to services because of she didn't agree that "they" could tell her what to do about birth control.

    But I am asking feminists who do go to Catholic services, Catholic women who use birth control and go to church on Sundays to stand up to the men in power.


    Here's where Occupy the Pews comes in:


    1) Go to Church as you normally do (Or if it's been awhile, consider attending)


    2) When the offering basket comes around, feel free to still donate to the Church, but include a note with your donation telling the Church that you, a donating and supporting member of the Church uses birth control. Attach your name if you are so bold or not if you want anonymity. Just tell them that the women and men sitting in their pews, loves and respects the Lord, but believes in birth control as well.


    3) When the lecture happens walk out. This will tell your priest that you do not agree.

    These are simple and respectful ways to protest the Church leaders wanting to tell you what to do with your body. Not only that, as the statistic shows, the Catholic Church through their acquisition of hospitals is increasingly telling families of different faiths what to do with their bodies. How's that religious liberty, eh?

    The Church moved pretty darn fast to protest women having access to birth control. Imagine if they moved that fast when dealing with priests who rape and abuse children?

    My rule would be if a religious entity is doing religious work, their rules. But once they enter into providing services for the masses (hospitals, health care, adoptions) then they need to abide by secular law. If they don't like it, don't do it. Recently a Catholic adoption agency changed to a Christian adoption agency in order to adhere to an anti-discrimination law and retain its lucrative state contracts. So yeah, a compromise can be lived with.

    And when should you Occupy the Pews? EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY that you go to Church. A Twitter friend told me that the last time there was a lecture on abortion, she walked right out. I truly believe this statement should come from those of us raised Catholic and especially from those who still regularly attend services, send children to Catholic schools and are connected to the Church.

    As I said, I was raised Catholic, but didn't attend services on a regular basis. But I still have an affinity to parts of the Church. When I was in Mexico, I made it a point to visit the Basilica of Guadalupe. It's the church for the Mexican Virgin Mary. I made it a point because my in-laws asked me to "visit and just take a picture." But I believe in the positive images of the Virgin, especially a brown Virgin. When I walked into the square I was overcome with energy. I believe it was the energy of all of those around me. The love and peace was awesome. Then I walked into the old Basilica, I almost cried. I held onto my goddess necklace in prayer. Then I saw this:

    The peace and love was gone. Why do they do this? According to polling done in the USA by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, "a strong majority of Latino registered voters - 74 percent - agrees  that a woman has a right to make her own personal, private decisions about abortion without politicians interfering." A display like this just offends those who believe in a woman's right to decide her own fate. Thankfully the goddess and the Virgin (some would say she's one in the same) restored the peace in my heart, but it wasn't the same.

    If you do Occupy the Pews, please report back!

    Disclaimer

    This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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