Posts tagged with "abortion"

Teen Pregnancy

By Cassandra Yany

Teen Pregnancy in the United States

In 2018, the birth rate among women aged 15 to 19 years in the United States was less than half of what it was in 2008, which was 41.5 births per 1,000 girls, as stated by the Pew Research Center.

In 2017, 194,377 babies were born to women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 19 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The birth rate dropped seven percent from 2016, with 18.8 babies born per 1,000 women in this age group. This was a record low for the nation.

The teen birth rate has been declining since the early 1990s, and this decline accelerated after the Great Recession. A 2011 Pew Research Center study connected the decrease in teen births to the economic downturn of the recession. The rate has continued to fall even after the economy’s recovery.

Evidence suggests that the declining birth rate is also partly due to more teens abstaining from sexual activity, and more who are sexually active using birth control than in previous years. Still, the CDC reports that U.S. teen pregnancy rate is substantially higher than other “western industrialized” nations.

DoSomething.org states that three out of 10 American girls will become pregnant at least once before the age of 20. About 25 percent of teen moms will have a second child within two years of their first baby.

Data shows that there are racial, ethnic and geographic disparities among teen pregnancies in the U.S. From 2016 to 2017, birth rates among 15 to 19-year-olds decreased 15 percent for non-Hispanic Asian teens, nine percent for Hispanic teens, eight percent for non-Hispanic white teens, six percent for non-Hispanic Black teens, and six percent for Native American teens. In 2017, the birth rate of Hispanic teens was 28.9 percent and of non-Hispanic black teens was 27.5 percent for non-Hispanic Black teens. These were both two times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white teens, which was 13.2 percent. Among the different racial and ehtnic groups, Native American teens had the highest rate of 32.9 percent.

From 2007 to 2015, the teen birth rate was lowest in urban communities with 18.9 percent, and highest in rural communities with 30.9 percent— as reported by the CDC. During the same years, the rate among teens in rural communities had only declined 37 percent in rural counties, while large urban counties saw a 50 percent decrease and medium and small counties saw a 44 percent decrease. State-specific birth rates from 2017 were lowest in Massachusetts (8.1 percent) and highest in Arkansas (32.8 percent).

Socioeconomic disparities also exist among teen pregnancy rates. Teens in child welfare systems are at higher risk of teen pregnancy and birth than other groups of teens. Those living in foster care are more than twice as likely to become pregnant than those not in foster care. This then leads to financial difficulties for these young families. More than half of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager, and two-thirds of families started by a young mother are considered poor.  

Teen pregnancy and motherhood can have significant effects on a young woman’s education. According to DoSomething.org, parenthood is the leading reason for teen girls dropping out of school. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by the age of 22, while 90% of women who do not give birth during their teen years graduate from high school. Less than 2% of teen moms earn a college degree by age 30. 

Being a child of a teen mother can also have lasting effects on an individual. The children are more likely to have lower school achievement and drop out of high school. They are more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lives and face unemployment as a young adult. They could also have more health problems and are more likely to become a parent as a teenager themselves. 

According to the CDC, teen fatherhood occurred at a rate of 10.4 births per 1,000 ranging from 15 to 19-years-old in 2015. Data indicates that these young men attend fewer years of school and are less likely to earn their high school diploma. 

A decline in teen pregnancy means an increase in U.S. public savings. According to the CDC, between 1991 and 2015, the teen birth rate dropped 64%, which led to $4.4 billion dollars in public savings for 2015 alone.

Global Teen Pregnancy

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 12 million girls 15 to 19-years-old and 777,000 girls under 15 give birth in “developing” regions each year. About 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 in these areas become pregnant.

Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for girls age 15 to 19 years globally. An estimated 5.6 million abortions occur each year among 15 to 19-year-old girls, with 3.9 million of them being unsafe. This can lead to death or lasting health problems.

Additionally, teen moms face higher risk of eclampsia, puerperal endometriosis and systemic infections than 20 to 24-year-old women. Babies of these mothers face higher risk of lower birth weight, preterm delivery and severe neonatal conditions.

Across the globe, adolescent pregnancies are more likely to take place in marginalized communities that are driven by poverty, and lack of education and employment opportunities. In many societies and cultures, girls get married and have children while they are teenagers. In some locations, girls choose to become pregnant due to limited educational and employment prospects. These societies either value motherhood and marriage, or union and childbearing may be the best option available to these young women. 

Teenage girls in some areas may not be able to avoid pregnancy because they do not have the knowledge of how to obtain contraceptive methods or how to use them. There are restrictive laws and policies regarding provision of contraception based on age or marital status that prevent these women from access to forms of pregnancy prevention. 

Health worker bias also exists in these areas, as well as an unwillingness to acknowledge adolescents’ sexual health needs. These individuals also may not be able to access contraception due to transportation and financial constraints. 

Another cause for unintended pregnancy around the work is sexual violence, with more than one-third of girls in some countries reporting that their first sexual experience was forced. After pregnancy, young women who became mothers before the age of 18 are more likely to experience violence in their marriage or partnership.

The University of Queensland in Australia conducted a study that found children who experience some type of neglect are seven times more likely than other victims of abuse to experience teen pregnancy. They drew these conclusions by looking at data from 8,000 women and children beginning in pregnancy and moving into early adulthood.

According to News Medical, researchers found that neglect was one of the most severe types of maltreatment when compared to emotional, sexual and physical abuse. The study defined child neglect as “not providing the child with necessary physical requirements (food, clothing or a safe place to sleep) and emotional requirements (comfort and emotional support) a child should receive, as determined by the Queensland Govt. Department of Child Safety.”

CBS reported that an increase in calls to Japan’s pregnancy hotline since March indicates that COVID-19 has caused an uptick in teenage pregnancies there. Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto, Japan said that calls from junior and senior high school students hit a 10-year high back in April. Pilcon, a Tokyo-based non-profit that runs school sex-ed programs, said that it was flooded with calls from concerned teens after they used home pregnancy tests or they missed periods.

Global Citizen stated that 152,000 Kenyan teen girls became pregnant during the country’s three-month lockdown, which was a 40 percent increase in their monthly average. Data from the International Rescue Committee shows that girls living in refugee camps were particularly affected, with 62 pregnancies reported at Kakuma Refugee Camp this past June compared to only eight in June 2019.

In an online press conference, Dr. Manisha Kumar, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières task force on safe abortion care, said, “During the pandemic, a lot of resurces got pulled away from a lot of routine services and care, and those services were redirected to coronavirus response.” The growing economic, hunger and health crises worldwide due to the pandemic makes this an especially challenging time for pregnant teens. 

Both Marie Stopes International and the United Nations Fund warned that the new focus on the coronavirus in the medical field would negatively affect reproductive health. This included disruptions to family planning services and restricted access to contraception, leading to more unintended pregnancies.

Preventing Teen Pregnancy

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Evidence Review has identified a variety of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. These include sexuality education programs, youth development programs, abstinence education programs, clinic-based programs and programs specifically designed for diverse populations and locations. 

Resources that focus on social health determinants in teen pregnancy prevention, specifically at the community level, play a crucial role in addressing the racial, ethnic and geographical disparities that exist in teen births. The CDC also supports several projects that educate, engage and involve young men in reproductive health. 

According to the CDC, research shows that teens who have conversations with their parents about sex, relationships, birth control and pregnancy tend to begin to have sex at a later age. When or if they do have sex, these teenagers are more likely to do so less often, use contraception, and have better communication with romantic partners.

A 2014 report by the Brooking Insitution’s Senior Fellow Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine of Wellesley College found that the MTV reality programs like “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” led to a 5.7 percent in teen births in the 18 months after the shows first aired. This number accounts for approximately one-third of the overall decline in teen births during that time period.

In locations where more teenagers watched MTV, they saw a larger decline in teen pregnancy after the introduction of the show. The show also led young adults to educate themselves more on birth control. Research showed that when an episode aired, there were large spikes the following day in the rate that people were conducting online searches for how to obtain contraceptives.

Contraception and Reproductive Rights

According to Power to Decide, contraception is a key factor in recent declines in teen pregnancy. Yet, over 19 million women eligible for publicly funded contraception don’t have access to the full range of birth control methods where they live.

Between 2011 and 2015, 81 percent of females and 84 percent of males between the ages of 15 and 19 who had sex reported using a contraceptive the first time. This number increased for females since 2002, when 74.5 percent used contraception. 

A sexually active teen who doesn’t use contraceptives has a 90 percent chance of becoming pregnant within a year. 

NPR reported that a challenge to the Affordable Care Act could reach the Supreme Court in the near future, which would significantly affect reproductive healthcare. This could make contraceptives unaffordable and unobtainable for some Americans, which would in turn affect the number of teenagers having unprotected sex.

Some also fear that the recent death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg will jeopardize women’s reproductive rights. If her replacement is opposed to abortion, it will most likely turn the court in favor of increasing restrictions on abortion, and could even go as far as to overturn Roe v. Wade. This would have the potential to increase the number of unsafe abortions among pregnant teens, or increase the number of teen births.

According to Kaiser Health News, there is a case waiting in the lower court that involves federal funding of Planned Parenthood in both the Medicaid and federal family programs. Ginsburg always sided with women on issues such as these, so her absence could mean a lack of access to education, family planning and contraceptives for teens.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Cassandra Yany

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday after her long battle with cancer. The 87-year-old Supreme Court justice was a trailblazer who continuously worked to end gender discrimination and preserve our civil liberties. 

The Supreme Court announced Friday that Ginsburg passed away at her Washington D.C. home due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She had previously overcome lung, liver and colon cancer. In July, she revealed that the cancer had returned, but that she would continue to serve on the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg’s revolutionary career started when she graduated at the top of her class from Cornell University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in government. Two years later, she attended Harvard Law School with her husband, Martin Ginsburg. There, she was one of only nine women in her class of over 500 students, according to NPR.

During their time at Harvard, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer, so Ruth would take notes for the two of them and help him with his work, all while trying to juggle being a new mom. When Martin landed a job at a firm in New York, the family packed up and Ruth finished her education at Columbia University. 

Once Ginsburg finished school, she began to experience the discrimination that came with being a female lawyer. According to TIME, she was unable to secure a position at a premier law firm or one of the Supreme Court clerkships, regardless of the fact that she had been the first students to serve on both the Harvard and Columbia Law reviews, and graduated at the top of her class. These jobs were instead easily given to males who had ranked lower than her in school. This led her to work a lower court clerkship and teach at the Rutgers Law Newark campus.

At Rutgers, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter. While she was there, she learned that she wasn’t earning the same wage as one of her male counterparts. The dean attributed this pay disparity to the fact that the male professor had a family to support, while Ginsburg’s husband already had a good-paying job. This type of discrimination caused her to hide her second pregnancy.

After her son was born, Ginsburg began teaching at Columbia, becoming the university’s first tenured female professor. There, she also co-authored the first case book on discrimination law. She later went on to co-found the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972.

During her work as a lawyer, Ginsburg established that equal protection under the law, as stated in the 14th Amendment, should extend to gender. She won five out of the six cases that she argued before the Supreme Court on gender discrimination. She often chose to find this prejudice in cases where males were the plaintiffs being discriminated against, as seen in the 2018 film On the Basis of Sex. 

In 1980, Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She became the second woman on the Supreme Court, and the first Jewish justice since 1969 when she was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993. During her time, she eliminated almost 200 laws that discriminated against women. 

Ginsburg also fought for the rights of immigrants, the mentally ill, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. She approved gay marriage in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, stating that if you can’t deny a 70-year-old couple the right to marriage due to their inability to procreate, you can’t deny a gay couple of that right either.

Ginsburg supported women’s reproductive rights, fighting for the coverage of contraceptives despite anyone’s religious beliefs. At the time of Roe v. Wade, she litigated a case where a pregnant Air Force captain was told she would have to have an abortion in order to return to her job. She noted the hypocrisy present in this case— that the U.S. government was encouraging abortion – and found that it served as a clear example of why women should have the right to make their own life decisions.

Ginsburg’s passing gives Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump the ability to appoint a new justice, despite her dying wish to not be replaced until after a new president is elected. This opportunity could make the Supreme Court more right-leaning and jeopardize cases like Roe v. Wade that are at the forefront of equal rights movements. 

This comes four years after McConnell’s 11-month Republican blockade of President Obama’s nominee for the court, where he argued “that a president shouldn’t be able to seat a new justice in the final year of their term.” Obama noted this in a statement released early Saturday, where he said “A basic principle of law— and of everyday fairness— is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”

After the news broke Friday night of Ginsburg’s death, hundreds of people gathered outside the Supreme Court to pay tribute and create a memorial on the building’s steps. Many signs have since been left outside of the court honoring her legacy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday morning that there will be a statue built in Ginsburg’s hometown of Brooklyn to “serve as a physical reminder of her many contributions to the America we know today…”

Trump issued a proclamation Saturday ordering flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of interment “As a mark of respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg…”

RBG will be dearly missed by Americans on both sides of the aisle. We have lost a longtime champion of equal rights, but her legacy will never be forgotten.

Doctor, Coronavirus, Health, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine,

Klaus Jakelski on Doctors and the Unimaginable

By Klaus Jakelski

Frank Lambert’s soul had hemorrhaged dry long before he volunteered for his present deployment. He just didn’t know it yet.

The battle-hardened surgeon had seen action in Rwanda, Burundi and Chechnya. Some of the bad memories he had suppressed. Others came to him only in nightmares, which he could never quite remember. His service had been one known for faultless, hard work in the operating room and afterwards, hard drinking to keep the demons out. Most recently he had substantially turned himself around — made himself better — at least that’s what he thought.

But life in the civilized world of Boston operating rooms had not been enough for him. He soon needed to feel the rush of adrenalin which propped up his self-identity.

Volunteering with an NGO that operated a forward relief station under NATO protection, he found himself in the middle of the Yugoslavian Civil war of the 90’s. He thought it was a simple mis-understood conflict in Europe — the civilized world after all — what could be horrible about that?

But as the conflict raged around Sarajevo, Frank and his nurse ally, Gwen Pakin, felt isolated from the main conflict. Until the inevitable arrived. The girls and young women who had been raped. Naturally, the two elected to do the procedures to free the girls from the captivity of unwanted pregnancy.

With each of his five daily cases, Frank became mesmerized by the splashing of the red evacuation bottle. Torn between gladness for the life he had restored and sadness for the life he had taken. Each one eating away at another part of his soul.

A cousin of mine, a battlefield trained ex US Navy anesthetist, recently volunteered to work in the ICU at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in Queens NY. Nothing in her training had prepared her for the month she spent there, looking after COVID-19 patients. Loosing an average of six patients per day is not a normal experience in anybody’s books. She told me she managed to suppress the bad parts of her experience.

Which is exactly what Frank had done all his working life. Especially in combat areas where each reparation of a torn human body whether it was by suturing, exploring a bodily cavity, amputation or some other surgical alchemy, was exactly the sort of thing that would result in a non-surgeon being recommended for a long stay in a psychiatric prison. But Frank, entrusted by regulatory authorities and accustomed to the controlled carnage of surgery as he was, had learned how to cope. At first suppressing the memories in a dark corner of his soul. And when the burden became too great, unlike my cousin, he began to self-medicate. At first with a little, but as the painful psychological provocation became too great, with more and more alcohol.

Such is the plight of many first responders, whether civilian, or in the military. If not alcohol, then another substance.

Even though nurse Pakin recognized that Frank was better than on his last deployment, she quickly saw through him, because she had issues herself. A life rocked by personal loss and service in conflict zones, no matter how altruistic, had left her with emotional scars too.

So Frank wasn’t quite able to compartmentalize his new reality. He wasn’t able to separate the liberation of a woman from her rape, from taking the life of her unborn. He knew just as well that the simple procedure would never return the woman’s soul to its rightful place after the tortuous transgression.

Frank found his trigger in the swirling red evacuation bottle on the wall of his makeshift operating room. The bottle that drew him in at the end of every case, one at a time, and separated him one more degree from his freedom, as he developed a new found affinity for a different bottle of liquor.

This type of scenario plays itself out repeatedly in our every day society. There’s no need to go to a war-torn area to meet an antagonist like the dark genocidal Kamenko Hradich, who has all the surface veneers of a gentle family man, until he reaches his breaking point. We know this all too well.

The people who deal with this type of suffering are right here. These first responders are all around us. Many of them as yet unaware of their trouble. We only need to recognize them.

As for the issue of war rape – It is so easy for us to sit in our comfortable space when bad things happen elsewhere.

Two hundred or so girls are kidnapped in Africa to the service of some African war lord. We see it on the evening news. We turn it off and say to each other, well I’m glad that is over there, as we roll over onto our pillows and go to sleep.

And still we don’t make the connection. The one that #Me Too is making. The one that is circulating in the most genteel corridors of our society, as well as our schools. The notion that a certain treatment of women is alright, as long as it never gets called out.

Really?

The systematic rape of thousands of women occurred in a civilized area of Europe, alongside the most monstrous genocide since the holocaust. What does it take for that sort of thing to boil over in another advanced society?

My guess is, as Frank followed his adrenalin rush from case to case, he didn’t have a chance.

banging gavel illustration

Landmark Supreme Court Rulings

By Eamonn Burke

A series of historic and liberal rulings have been passed in the Supreme Court within the last few weeks, the latest being an abortion decision, the first under Trump as President.

The Louisiana law dictating that doctors must have certain privileges at local hospitals in order to perform an abortion was ruled out by the Court on Monday by a 5 to 4 ruling, with Chief Justice John Roberts tipping the scales to the Democrats. It comes as somewhat of a surprise as many expected Trump’s court, including two of his appointees, to remain restrictive against abortion. The decision comes following multiple occasions of criticism towards Justice Roberts from Republicans in cases concerning the national census and the Affordable Care Act. One such Republican, Senator Ted Cruz, reacted with a scathing remark that the Justice “sided with abortion extremists who care more about providing abortion-on-demand than protecting women’s health.” Progressives simply chalked it up to committing to precedent. It is most definitely not a certain signal that Justice Roberts would uphold Roe v. Wade. The law, if passed, would have limited the state of Louisiana to just one abortion clinic.

The decision also comes on the heels of two other landmark cases in favor of liberals, one being a civil rights law pronouncing job discrimination against lgbtqia+ people illegal, and the other being to protect the young immigrant DREAMERS by upholding DACA.