In honor of the Back Up Your Birth Control with Emergency Contraception (EC) Campaign, Pharmacy Access Partnership and Rewire teamed up to launch an essay contest open to young people 14-24 years of age. Read the winning entry!
honor of the Back Up Your Birth Control with Emergency Contraception (EC)
Partnership (a center of the Pacific
Institute for Women’s Health) and Rewire teamed up to
launch an essay contest open to young people 14-24 years of age. Emergency contraception
(also called the "morning-after" pill even though it’s actually two
pills taken 12 hours apart) is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy
after you’ve had unprotected, unintended or unwanted sex. Building on
our theme of "Got Plan B?
Why access to Plan B emergency
contraception is important," we asked
authors to answer the following questions: What do you think are the most
important issues related to emergency contraception/Plan B for young women?
Would you like to see greater education and access to information so more young
women know what Plan B is and how to access it? Do you want to advocate for the
right to access Plan B? We’re pleased to present the winning piece
by 14-year old Nikki from Champaign, Illinois. Congratulations, Nikki,
and keep up the good work! For more information on Plan B, visit www.pharmacyaccess.org.
Nikki, 14 years old, writes:
Many women don’t understand the importance of
the "morning after pill." It’s not so that you can do what you want
when you want. It’s for that time that something goes horribly wrong. Some
people think that EC is a horrible thing, yet what if a horrible thing
happened to you? What if you were raped by a man you didn’t know, and ended up
pregnant? Would you want to keep the baby? What if you had a disease, and there
was a chance that the baby could get it too? Would you want your child to grow
up in either situation? In one, be normal, yet have no idea who her father is?
Or in the other, have a child who couldn’t do the things a mother would hope to
watch? Your child may never walk, or never talk. The pill should be used in
those cases where something horrible has happened. Yes, it is true that not all
are using it in the "correct manner." But should those people keep
those who truly need it, those who would never think to use it unless something
bad were to happen, from using it? No, they should not. If you still disagree –
just think, what if it were you?
Dressed in signature Steve Jobs black shirt and blue jeans attire, comedy writer Lizz Winstead is on a stage, showing the crowd her team’s new invention: Hinder. The crowd appearing in the Apple-inspired video is wooed by Winstead’s swaying, her long pauses, and whisper voice as she describes Hinder as a combination of “the sensibility of the Daily Show,” which Winstead co-created, “the accessibility of Facebook, and the creepiness of Tinder” all in the palm of your hands.
Of course, this is all satire. Winstead’s impersonation of Steve Jobs is just that: fake. The video is merely poking fun of the way presenters reveal new technology or ideas among a large audience of curious onlookers. The crowd was edited to whoop and holler at the most opportune moments.
But the app is real.
In the video, Winstead demos Hinder by showing the Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) page. Farenthold gained national attention following allegations by a former press aide that Farenthold sexually harassed her. When his photo pops up in the app, he is wearing a light blue onesie, standing next to a woman wearing a short, black nighty, but as Winstead notes, “this creepy onesie isn’t the worst thing about this guy.”
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Farenthold’s embarrassing photo is (unfortunately for him) real, and the charges against him for sexual harassment are real. Every person and quote in the app, no matter how ridiculous their stories sound, are real, and it’s that authenticity that seeks to disgust, entertain, and us.
The app allows users to either swipe left or right, à la the dating app Tinder, depending on whether the user wants to learn more about the candidate, or sees the official as a waste of time. If users swipe left on Farenthold, for example, Hinder asks you to donate to Winstead’s organization, Lady Parts Justice, “to make up for this personal shortcoming.” Swiping right allows users to “weep for democracy” and share the fact that you rejected the individual on Facebook or Twitter.
As Winstead says in the video, “Uterus begins with you,” to which the fake crowd erupts in celebration.
The Lady Parts Justice website jokes that the app exposes “anti-choice douchebags with a swipe,” but it absolutely does more than that. Hinder keeps its thousands of users updated on the latest absurdities from politicians and anti-choice advocates, state by state.
The app is more than a Tinder parody. Beyond passing judgment with a quick swipe left or right, the app also provides articles that include additional information on a politician’s reprehensible behavior. A writer at Lady Parts Justice confirmed that the organization put a lot of time and research into making sure Hinder was just as informational as it was funny. Iwould agree it is indeed both.
Lady Parts Justice is the equivalent of pairing tasteless medicine with sugar, and Hinder is both the sugary substance and the medication all in one. Even the organization’s name, an homage to former Rep. Lisa Brown (D-MI), pairs humor with the utter awfulness of legislators trying to police women’s bodies. Brown was banned from speaking on the statehouse floor after saying the word “vagina” during an argument against a transvaginal ultrasound bill in 2012. According to the organization’s website, it was suggested she use the term “lady parts” instead.
In many ways, Hinder is perfect for people like me, a woman still in her 20s whose frustration is only growing the more I read articles about abortion bans or efforts to criminalize pregnant people. The app works as an introduction to anti-choice advocates, where reproductive rights newbies can learn about the long list of advocates pushing to end a woman’s access to critical health services. I see someone like Farenthold, gleeful in his onesie, and I realize this man is a representative for an entire state. He helps make decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of people. Why? To use one trendy word, the Hinder app encompasses the “lolsob,” the urge to laugh until I cry.
But the app is not just to share information. It also serves to help Lady Parts Justice garner allies who will spread awareness about the importance of knowing who makes or upholds laws hindering our reproductive health and rights. Voting allows us to have a say in who can be an elected official: If you wouldn’t swipe right on a lawmaker who believes swallowing a camera would allow doctors to see the vagina, why would you vote them into office?
Hinder is an app for those unaware of the anti-choice environment in which we live, and who want to make a change in who is allowed to make these decisions—and the gallery is ever-growing.
Lady Parts Justice is essentially taking names of any politician fighting against reproductive rights and placing them onto Hinder. Users are encouraged to email the organization any info on local politicians who should be added to the app. This move is, again, a lolsob moment, because as great as it is to have a list of anti-choice politicians to avoid conveniently in the palm of your hands, it would be better to not need a list in the first place.
“It’s unending,” Winstead told me in a phone interview. “It’s a real wake-up call to how much is going on.”
For Winstead, the opening that allowed for more discussion on these taboo topics happened back in 2012, when former congressman Todd Akin (R-MO) made the controversial (and highly inaccurate) claim during an interview that, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” His statements opened a floodgate of criticism from both political parties. Even Akin’s fellow Republicans urged him to withdraw from the senate race that he was in.
Reproductive rights have always been difficult to discuss, but as Winstead stated during our phone call, “When we saw a person say something so stupid, it gave us [the Lady Parts Justice team] an opportunity to point out people saying things and using their own words with humor for the first time.”
Akin’s comments came the same year Lady Parts Justice was founded. Since then, it has worked to “expose creeps hellbent on destroying access to birth control and abortion.” Using humor, the team is fighting to disrupt stigma about abortion and reproductive rights. To Winstead, these politicians are nothing but “Lame-O, lying losers” who simply want control of women’s bodies. Humor, via Hinder, is a way of pushing back against their false narratives and disingenuous claims about our health.
According to the organization, Hinder will continue to grow and evolve well beyond the presidential election season. Anyone willing to participate can send Lady Parts Justice information on local politicians working to stifle reproductive rights.
For its part, Winstead stated that the organization will be “hitting the ground and rallying” across the country in support of abortion providers and clinic workers who constantly face threats and violence. “At the end of the day,” said Winstead, “we have to fight to try to not have horrible anti-choice monsters get elected. But even if they do, clinics still need to be up and running.”
Hinder is a catharsis, a joke wrapped in real advocacy and education. When the laughter fades, Hinder provides information about actual people who are fighting against reproductive rights. The first mandatory action to oppose these politicians is simple: Swipe left.
This week on NBC’s Meet the Press, Fiorina defended the part of her description that was the least factually defensible.
“That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying—‘We’re gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain’—exists as well,” Fiorina said.
This is categorically untrue. There is no voice, or any other source or quote, saying anything of the kind in the videos created and released by CMP, a front group that has worked closely with Republican legislators.
One conservative media report claimed that Planned Parenthood’s “media allies” are lying, and that the video Fiorina referenced does in fact exist.
The truth is that while there is a CMP video that Fiorina seems to be referring to, she is describing a scene in it that does not exist—namely, the made-up scene in which somebody says a fetus has to be kept alive to harvest its brain.
It’s true that the video contains a stock image of a “kicking” fetus that appears to have a pulse. It also contains a first-person narrative, with no video to back it up, of harvesting a fetal brain. But the rest is fiction. Fiorina’s description makes it sound like someone from CMP captured undercover video of Planned Parenthood doctors dissecting a still-living fetus, and intentionally kept it alive for organ harvesting. The image is as barbaric as it is fictional.
What’s more, the full video of the “kicking” fetus was released this week. It comes from an anti-choice image library, and it’s almost certainly not an abortion, according to medical experts. It was probably filmed illegally, and possibly not even in America or in the past decade.
Either way, it wasn’t taken by CMP, and there’s no evidence that it was taken at a Planned Parenthood facility.
A person could have watched CMP’s misleading video and mistakenly assumed that the footage was taken at Planned Parenthood, so Fiorina could perhaps be forgiven for the first half of her quote. But the same simply cannot be said for the “keep it alive” part of her quote, which has no basis in fact and which Fiorina is repeating as true regardless.
…and Another Lie for Good Measure
As if that weren’t enough, Fiorina seems to have made misleading statements about whether Planned Parenthood has denied allegations of illegal activity.
“Why is it Planned Parenthood cannot and will not deny late-term abortions are being performed for the purposes of obtaining brains and other body parts?” she said Friday at a town hall in South Carolina. “Because it’s happening. It’s happening.”
On Fox News Wednesday, Fiorina said: “Up until this point in time, not only am I not lying, but Planned Parenthood has not, will not, cannot deny that this is happening because it is.”
As it happens, Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest made a similar-sounding claim at a recent House hearing. Planned Parenthood has repeatedly and categorically said that the claims in the CMP videos aren’t true.
Just in case that wasn’t clear, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens sent Fiorina a letter on Friday:
Several times this week, you have claimed that Planned Parenthood has not denied your baseless, outrageous, and totally false claims about “harvesting” body parts of fetuses for sale. Wednesday night, you said that Planned Parenthood “has not, will not, and cannot deny that this is happening, because it is.”
This statement is completely false.
Planned Parenthood has been clear and unequivocal that these claims are untrue. In fact, we have, can, and will continue to say that this is untrue – and have said so to you directly. In letters to you over the past two weeks and in public statements for the last months, we have said that these claims are false, but you continue to say otherwise.
In other news…
Trump Says His Wife Is Into “Women’s Health Issues”
Trump’s daughter Ivanka has been seen more often on the campaign trail than his wife, Melania, and the media has taken notice. Responding to a question about whether his fourth wife would be seen more often, Donald Trump said he thought she “very much” would.
He added: “She’s very much into the whole women’s health issues.”
It’s not clear what Trump meant by that—whether or not Melania supports reproductive rights, and how her interest in the issue might be used to help sway mostly anti-choice Republican voters.
Trump has been criticized by the Republican establishment for having held pro-choice views, and he recently acknowledged that Planned Parenthood has “positive” sides to its work. But it hasn’t seemed to hurt him so far.
Cruz Is Getting Ignored by Republican Leadership
Ted Cruz has made his outspoken, virulent criticism of Planned Parenthood, and of Republican leadership, a central part of his 2016 campaign appeal.
But in the Senate, Burgess Everett reports at Politico, Cruz’s Republican colleagues are getting tired of his game. They denied him several routine procedural chances to rock the boat on a vote to fund both the government and Planned Parenthood.
“Republicans have grown tired of Cruz pushing proposals that he knows McConnell and other Republicans will never back, like defunding Planned Parenthood in a spending bill, then criticizing McConnell for not taking up the plan even as he uses the fight to bolster his presidential campaign as Washington’s consummate outsider,” Everett writes.
Rubio: Republican Establishment “Never Even Tried” to Win Planned Parenthood Debate
Marco Rubio told NPR this week that the Republican Party “never even tried” to “make the case to the American people over a sustained period of time” that Planned Parenthood needed to be defunded.
“They didn’t think they could win the public debate, and so they never even tried,” Rubio said. “If [Obama] ultimately vetoes it, if ultimately we don’t have the votes, that’s one thing. But to basically wave the white flag weeks in advance…that is inexplicable.”
Given that Rubio said in the same interview that he didn’t prefer to see the government shut down over the issue, it’s unclear what would have satisfied him.
Both the House and Senate took multiple votes on defunding the organization. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) both oppose Planned Parenthood, but didn’t want to seek a government shutdown precisely because they knew they didn’t have the votes and that Obama would veto it.
Meanwhile, right-wing media skewered Rubio for not showing up to vote against the Senate’s continuing resolution to fund both the government and Planned Parenthood.