Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Is Sex Education the Solution?

Debate over contraceptive methods, health care and abortion rights is more heated than ever. Is education the solution?

Each state has unique laws regarding sex education in public schools. Oklahoma does not mandate sex education but each Oklahoma school district may create courses regarding sexual health. The content of these courses varies greatly; some Oklahoma students are very well informed about sexuality, health and their own bodies, but too many others are not offered the same opportunity. The Tulsa school board recently approved a comprehensive program aimed at preventing pregnancy that requires multiple courses. Unfortunately though, there are many more districts with no sex education courses at all. Many parents say it’s a matter of privacy, and that parents should talk to their children. Legislation to change sex education programs has gained almost no traction over the years, but data shows we could use it.
U.S. Health and Human Services surveys show Oklahoma teens are not practicing abstinence, as about 50% of Oklahoma teens report being sexually active (slightly higher than the national average of 46%). Oklahoma has consistently maintained one of the five highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. In Oklahoma 47.8/1000 teenagers will give birth, as opposed to the 31.3/1000 teenagers nation-wide. This is a problem for many obvious reasons, but specifically teen pregnancy is a problem for teen’s educational and career prospects.

Teen parents struggle to finish their educations. The Tulsa School Board cited the low graduation rates of pregnant teens as a major reason for their sex education overhaul. Teen parents can experience gaps in education and they are less likely to gain higher education degrees, which can bring a lifetime of consequences, including poverty. Poverty works like a cycle, so many children of teen parents are also at a higher risk of experiencing unintended pregnancies and falling into poverty themselves. Today almost 20% of Oklahoma lives in poverty. One of the most effective means of ending the cycle of poverty is through careful family planning- a feat accomplishable through sexual education. 

We all know the old saying, “knowledge is power” but in this situation it has never been truer. Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to show the need for comprehensive sex education. Sex education can change young Oklahoman’s futures for the better because isn't just about "how not to get pregnant.” It's about public health, it's about positive body image, it's about consent, it's about STI prevention, but most importantly it's about empowerment. We want our youth to have every advantage possible, so why deny them knowledge about their own bodies? Oklahoma youths deserve the chance to make informed decisions, so let's empower them to do so! 

Email, write or call your senators and representatives to tell them you want to empower Oklahoma youth through comprehensive sex education! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Set the Record Straight on Emergency Contraception

A nasty rumor seems to have spread about Emergency Contraception. It has become a common misconception that pills like Plan B, or ‘The Morning After Pill’, work by causing abortions. For the record, that is absolutely not true. Misunderstandings happen, but this big misunderstanding is beginning to take a toll on women’s access to contraceptive options so it’s time we all help set the record straight. 

By definition, Emergency Contraception (EC) is a, “
postcoital contraception, [consisting] of the same hormones found in ordinary birth control pills. When taken in a concentrated dose within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, these hormones can prevent a pregnancy from occurring.”

EC works in a few different ways, but first you need to understand a few quarks about conception. Sperm can live in the uterus for up to 5 days. This means that egg cells could be fertilized up to 5 days after unprotected sex. EC works because it prevents an egg from being released into the uterus (otherwise known as ovulation). If ovulation has already occurred and the egg has been released, EC thickens mucus inside the uterus trapping the sperm cells and preventing successful fertilization. Studies show that EC does not have any effect on already fertilized and implanted egg cells. 

Now you know! There is still opposition to EC, but do not be swayed by misinformation. We are all entitled to our own beliefs, but not to our own facts.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Support Family Planning in 2014

It’s true that Oklahoma’s Governor, Senate, and House of Representatives all have a history of restricting family planning. As the new year creeps up on us, the legislative session also inches nearer, bringing with it new opportunities to limit family planning options for Oklahomans. Beyond offending women’s right to bodily integrity, anti-choice policies harm families in many unexpected ways. 

Family planning is a far reaching issue. It impacts families, the economy, state-wide health and most importantly, it impacts the lives of individual Oklahomans. Here are a few problems associated with Oklahoma’s lack of family planning resources:  

·         The teen pregnancy rate of Oklahoma is among the top five in the nation. Though the rate of teen pregnancy slowly and steadily decreased for a decade, in 2005 that trend turned around and the teen pregnancy rate jumped 5%. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2005 also saw the beginning of large scale bipartisan efforts in the Oklahoma legislature to limit emergency contraception and abortion services, with special emphasis on limiting minor’s rights.

·         Oklahoma ranks in the ten worst states in the nation for infant mortality. Sexual education plays a huge part in not only helping men and women avoid unwanted pregnancy, but also in helping families stay healthy before and during wanted pregnancies. A mother’s good health is directly tied to a baby’s good health, so it’s crucial that women understand their bodies. Unfortunately, though, Oklahoma does not currently require any form of sexual education.

·         This year a study indicated that Oklahoma has the second lowest number of OB-GYNs in the nation. This means there is 1 OB-GYN doctor for every 18,000+ women in this state. The flurry of laws restricting family planning makes Oklahoma a hostile state for doctors focusing on women and fetal health. Thus qualified professionals less likely to settle here. 

        Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma is working to stop laws that could hurt family planning, but the team cannot do it alone. Here are a few ways you can stay informed and support family planning:

·         Visit:  http://www.oklegislature.gov/index.aspx to read about proposed bills and learn how to contact your representatives.
·         Email danielle.williams@ppcok.org to join PPCO’s Action Alert mailer. Email with the subject line, “Add me to the Action Alert list” and you will receive email alerts about actions taken at the Oklahoma capitol that threaten family planning.
·         Write to your representatives! Use social media (no joke, your representatives are probably on twitter or facebook.), use email, write a letter, or train a carrier pigeon. Do what it takes to be heard!

Monday, October 7, 2013

PPCO hosts Navigator for ACA

Need assistance guiding through the ACA exchange? 
PPCO has a Navigator for the ACA health exchange who can help you through the process!  Call 405-528-0221 today!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy PRIDE Month!

June is Pride Month, and Planned Parenthood is proud to be a provider of health care, education, and information for many in the LGBTQ community.

LGBTQ youth also face discrimination, and are at increased risk for bullying, harassment, and physical assault — as well as for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, substance abuse, and depression. LGBTQ kids need to feel loved, secure, and valued — no matter what. They need support to be safe and find their way in the world.

At Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, we offer programs for LGBTQ youth and allies, providing safe and supportive environments that allow youth to get the information and support they need to make healthy decisions and feel comfortable in their identities.
We wish everyone a happy Pride!

There is power in your voice. Use it!