Thursday, December 23, 2010

Won't A Graffiti Artist Please Change This To "Most Dangerous Place For Children Is In the Wombat Reserve"?

Oh, Travis County. What have you done?

Anti-abortion ads target black women:

This ad is one crazy scare tactic. Banned in Dallas and Houston, but not Austin? WTF!?

The website sponsoring the ad,, poses this fact:

This is a pretty shocking statistic. Before the fervor gets blown out of proportion (like accusing the founder of Planned Parenthood of a secret plan to ethnically cleanse minorities), let's look at some facts. According to Susan A. Cohen, author of "Abortion and Women of Color: The Bigger Picture" (Guttmacher Policy Review, Summer 2008, Volume 11, Number 3),

The disparities in unintended pregnancy rates result mainly from similar disparities in access to and effective use of contraceptives. As of 2002, 15% of black women at risk of unintended pregnancy (i.e., those who are sexually active, fertile and not wanting to be pregnant) were not practicing contraception, compared with 12% and 9% of their Hispanic and white counterparts, respectively. These figures—and the disparities among them—are significant given that, nationally, half of all unintended pregnancies result from the small proportion of women who are at risk but not using contraceptives.


Not only do fertility and not wanting to be pregnant work against women, contraceptives can be messy, uncomfortable, forgotten, misplaced, or incorrectly used.

"For an individual woman who is attempting to avoid a pregnancy, the particular method she chooses and the way she uses it over time also matter. In fact, all of the major contraceptive methods are extremely effective if used "perfectly." In actual practice, however, there are significant variations in a method's effectiveness in "typical use" (i.e., for the average person who may not always use the method correctly or consistently). The IUD has a very low failure rate because it is long-acting and requires little intervention by the user. Coitus-related methods such as condoms are at the other end of the typical-use effectiveness scale, because they depend on proper use at every act of intercourse. The pill, which is not coitus-related but must be taken every day, is usually more effective than the condom, but less effective than an IUD. Factoring together the method choices and the real-life challenges to effective use over long periods of time, women of color as well as those who are young, unmarried or poor have a lower level of contraceptive protection than their counterparts.

Studies by Guttmacher Institute researchers, published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health in 2007 and in Contraception in 2008, sought to shed some light on the reasons women at risk of unintended pregnancy do not use contraceptives at all or use them only sporadically. Geographic access to services is a factor for some women; however, for many, it is more a matter of being able to afford the more effective—usually more expensive—prescription methods.

Beyond geographic and financial access, life events such as relationship changes, moving or personal crises can have a direct impact on method continuation. Such events are more common for low-income and minority women than for others, and may contribute to unstable life situations where consistent use of contraceptives is lower priority than simply getting by. In addition, a woman's frustration with a birth control method can result in her skipping pills or not using condoms every time. Minority women, women who are poor and women with little education are more likely than women overall to report dissatisfaction with either their contraceptive method or provider. Cultural and linguistic barriers also can contribute to difficulties in method continuation."

Shocking: women are human! Acquiring and then correctly using contraceptives can be a financial, emotional, time-consuming, stressful burden. But some of us are lucky to have a doctor to provide them. Others use free clinics, over-the-counter Plan-B, prayer, or the rhythm method.

"Access to health care, including financial access, remains a significant issue that particularly affects minority communities; however, there is increasing recognition of the critical importance of quality of care as it affects health-seeking behavior and outcomes. In 2002, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that "minorities are less likely than whites to receive needed services, including clinically necessary procedures." The IOM offered a number of explanations for this finding, including linguistic and cultural barriers that interfere with effective communication between a patient and a provider. The IOM also noted a level of mistrust for the health system in general that exists in minority communities. Mistrust can cause a patient to refuse treatment or comply poorly with medical advice, which in turn can cause providers to become less engaged—leading to a vicious cycle. These obstacles are difficult enough to surmount in cases where a patient is ill and presumably motivated to receive some kind of treatment. In the case of a prevention intervention such as birth control, however, where the need for "treatment" may seem less pressing, the cumulative effect of these obstacles could be daunting."

What does it all mean? African-American women have less access to high-quality health care. The best contraceptives are often the most expensive and difficult to acquire (read: you have to get it from a doctor). The less expensive contraceptives effectiveness rely on "perfect use." Often culture or linguistics can be a barrier to proper care, prevention, or education.
And I haven't even touched on Texas' abysmal sex education policy.

Seems that there are more factors at work than just one evil genius' plan to wipe out an entire race on a purely volunteer basis - you remember choice, right?

Planned Parenthood's full response:

Planned Parenthood's mission is to provide preventive, affordable health care to everyone in the community regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or ability to pay. Planned Parenthood health centers provide health care and education to three million women and men in the U.S. every year—including 33,000 men and women in Austin. Last year, Planned Parenthood in Austin provided 5,944 breast cancer screenings, 5,557 cervical cancer screenings, 16,577 tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; 6,578 HIV tests; and birth control for more than 26,000 Central Texans. This expensive billboard campaign generates media attention but unfortunately does nothing to provide critically needed health care and education in the Austin community.

Critically needed health care for the Austin Community. Austin's low-income healthcare provider, The Medcial Assistance Program (MAP) just imploded on itself this summer. Without enough clinics and doctors available to care for the growing number of patients, low-to-middle income residents were denied benefits and their contracts went unrenewed as a means to quell the demand. Right now, to meet MAP's qualifications, you must make under $900 a month. The well-intentioned receptionists at MAP do, however, recommend Planned Parenthood as an alternate source of care.

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