Resources and reporting for mothers and others who think about social change.
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July/August 2005

Civil society

Women and the politics of values:
Two new reports suggest women's self-identification as caregivers may be key to understanding their political outlooks. Plus: related articles


UK study links fathers' depression to young children's behavioral outcomes

New study tracks incidence of depression in
child-rearing grandmothers


New America Foundation offers proposal for legislating workplace flexibility

Internet survey finds men, women equally likely to waste time at work

Working to live:
News and commentary on work/life issues

Wages and benefits

New America Foundation releases fact sheet on maternal wage gap and a special report on earnings and productivity growth in the U.S. Plus: more articles on productivity, wages, and benefits

Reproductive health and rights

New government web site on teen health and sexuality inaccurate, misleading

American Academy of Pediatrics states abstinence-only education is not enough

Other recent news and commentary on sexuality and reproductive health

Elsewhere on the web:

News and commentary of note on feminism, parenting culture, and national trends

past editions of mmo noteworthy ...
civil society

Women and the politics of values
Two new reports suggest women's self-identification as caregivers may be key to understanding their political outlooks. Plus: related articles

Two recent reports -- an in-depth qualitative study of the attitudes of 75 religious women activists and a survey of over 2,000 women who voted in the 2004 election -- suggest the political priorities of many U.S. women are shaped by their experience and self-identification as caregivers.

Women at the Center of Political Change, a survey summary and analysis released by EMILY's List in May 2005, found a strong reemergence of the partisan gender gap since the 2004 election, with 43 percent of women voters stating they would vote Democratic in a generic congressional contest and 32 percent saying they would vote Republican. Notably, one-third of women who voted for George W. Bush in '04 are not now planning to vote Republican in the next congressional election. "Women voters believe the government has gone too far in dictating personal morality," the analysts conclude, "and even those whose own values are conservative are discomforted." Women voters cited Social Security as their top concern (27 percent), followed by the war in Iraq (25 percent) and health care (20 percent). Women voters who are leaning away from the GOP also felt Republicans had overstepped the bounds on issues of privacy and the relationship between religion and science.

The EMILY's List survey also found that "the concept of family is at the center of women's values and they see themselves as the central caregivers in their family life," and "women see their role as caregivers as central to who they are." Even 69 percent of single women without children volunteered that the statement "taking care of the needs of other people is the most important role I play" described them well (29 percent) or very well (40 percent). By comparison, just over half of all male voters included in the survey felt strongly or very strongly that caring for others was their most important life role, compared to 76 percent of all women.

When polled about the most important values in their personal lives, women voters were most likely to say "family" (39 percent), followed by "religious faith" (35 percent) and "personal accountability and taking responsibility for one's actions" (33 percent). But women favored elected leaders who demonstrate the values of personal accountability (41 percent of woman voters), caring about people in need (29 percent), and equal opportunity and a "fair chance for all" (29 percent).

To reach women voters, the reports concludes, Democratic leaders "need an agenda that addresses poignant economic insecurities among women, but that does so with due respect for the centrality of families and care giving in their values system." Analysts also caution that if Democrats hope to prevail in the next election, they must "develop a language that respect families and caregiving."

According to a June 20 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the moral outlook of women activists in faith-based organizations is also influenced by their experience and self-identification as caregivers. The Ties That Bind: Women's Public Vision for Politics, Religion, and Civil Society "compares and contrasts the themes that conservative and liberal religious women evoke their activist work" and examines the ways women are claiming moral authority and leadership through their activism, despite traditional limitations on women's power in most religions and the American political system. The study's author, Amy Caiazza, PhD, found that the values and visions of the women she interviewed "in some ways reflect those of their religious faith. In others, they are firmly tied to women's experiences in private and family life, with their emphasis on the values of caring and connectedness." Caiazza remarks that the activists who participated in the study articulated "a moral vision for public life that is informed by their lives and experiences as women, experiences often excluded from traditional ideas about both morality and politics."

Although her interview subjects were diverse in their faiths and political orientations, Caiazza identified four basic sets of values -- "stewardship; love, peace and compassion; interconnectedness; and basic worth and dignity." -- that informed religious women's social justice activism. Together, Caiazza suggests, "the values articulated by the women we interviewed suggest an overall moral vision for public life. They assert that rights are both individual and shared and that recognizing our connectedness and mutual responsibility is integral to creating fully inclusive economic and political systems. That is, they suggest we can redefine the public sphere as a place of partnerships and relationships among citizens and communities, rather than of individuals simply protecting their rights."

Of course, a secular version of this ethical formulation -- that caring makes a difference; people matter; relationship is central, not just to the quality of family life, but to the quality of the civil society; interdependence is a normal, healthy and predictable aspect of every human life; the work of caring for each other and the world we live in is indispensable and must be acknowledged, accommodated and fairly shared by society as a whole; and that this "ethic of care" is accessible to all, since it arises from the experience and practice of caregiving, and is not an innate aspect of female or maternal nature -- informs the visions and activism of women engaged in the emerging mothers' movement.

In a recent address to 1,200 spiritual activists, framing guru George Lakoff suggested the most effective way to gain support for progressive social change is to start talking to people and "find out what they share with you, that is, what the nurturing parts of their lives are." Perhaps we're really onto something here.

EMILY's List

EMILY's List 2005 Women’s Monitor Report
“Women at the Center of Political Change”
Press release, 22 Jun 05
Full report, 10 pages in .pdf

Institute for Women's Policy Research

New Report Shows Critical Role Religious Women Activists Can Play in Transforming American Politics
Press release, 20 Jun 05, 3 pages in .pdf

The Ties That Bind:
Women’s Public Vision for Politics, Religion, and Civil Society

Amy Caiazza, Ph.D., June 2005
Research-in-Brief, 6 pages in .pdf

Related articles:

Women Lead the Progressive Charge
By Tamara Straus, AlterNet, 24 Jun 05
Emily's List has some advice for Democrats looking for future electoral successes: embrace the fact that family is at the center of women's values.

Big Dreams, Big Hopes
By Barack Obama, AlterNet, 30 Jun 05
What if we prepared every child with the education and skills they need to compete in the new economy? What if no matter where you worked or how many times you switched jobs, you had health care and a pension that stayed with you?

Bush's Empathy Shortage
By Arlie Hochschild, AlterNet, 24 Jun 05
"Why do families with the shakiest grip on the American dream support the Bush equivalent of taking bread from the poor and giving it to the rich?"

A Class Act
Jennifer Ladd and Felice Yeskel, TomPaine.com, 23 Jun 05
"In the last month, two of our country’s most elite newspapers published a series of unprecedented articles about social class in America. ...Although these articles address an often-taboo subject, they overlook a crucial element: potential ways to remedy the flaws in the current system."

Class Matters
By David Moberg, AlterNet, 30 Jun 05
Belief in the myth of the self-made man has made many ordinary people suckers for the right-wing pitch.

The 'Leave My Child Alone' Movement
By Rebecca Romani, AlterNet, 29 Jun 05
Main Street Moms are mad about military recruiting at high schools and they're becoming a force to reckon with.

The Real Number on Social Security
by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Ms. Magazine, Summer 2005
Private accounts would be a disaster, writes a woman from the generation Bush claims he’s helping -- but something else in the system really does need fixing."Today’s working women will rely heavily on Social Security when they retire, since only 30 percent currently have pensions, and baby-boomer women will be the first generation earning Social Security primarily as workers, not spouses. Superficially, the system seems to offer equal benefits to men and women, calculating them based on an average of American workers’ 35 top earning years. But those calculations fail to take into account the fact that women are far more likely than men to spend many of their top earning years at home caring for children, an aging parent or an ill spouse."

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UK study links fathers' depression to young children's behavioral outcomes

New research finds that fathers' depression during the postnatal period of a child's life is linked to disturbances in behavioral development at age three. A study led by Paul Ramchandani, which appeared in the June 25 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, measured depressive symptoms in 8,431 new fathers and 11,833 new mothers in the UK. Mothers were more likely to report postnatal depression than fathers (10 percent versus 4 percent), but the research team found that pre-school age children of depressed fathers showed a similar frequency and range of behavioral problems as those whose mothers suffered post-partum depression. An unexpected finding was that fathers' depression was much more likely to be associated with problem behaviors for young boys, while the effects of mothers' depression appeared to be gender neutral.

Given fathers increased involvement in caregiving and family life over the last twenty-five years, the findings of Ramchandani's paternal depression study are not especially surprising. But the study itself is something of a landmark, because so little formal research has attempted to assess the connection between fathers' behavior or moods and children's outcomes (although there have been innumerable studies on the effects of maternal characteristics on children's development and well-being). For example, one of the most infuriating aspects of large-scale U.S. studies of the effects of day care on children's development is that most focus almost exclusively on hours of mothers' employment and the quality of maternal "sensitivity" in relation to preschooler's undesirable behaviors. Researchers' baseline assumption seems to be that fathers' patterns of employment or the quality of paternal attachment is of little or no consequence to the behavioral outcomes of young children who spend time in non-parental care.

Including the influence fathers' characteristics in early childhood development studies is way overdue, and federal spending on research studying parental influence on early and later child development should, at a minimum, be equally apportioned to projects studying the effects of father/child interactions.

Paternal depression in the postnatal period
and child development: a prospective population study

Paul Ramchandani, Alan Stein, Jonathan Evans, Thomas G. O'Connor
The Lancet, Vol 365, 25 Jun 05
You may read the full article and a related editorial on www.thelancet.com; free registration is required.

Study: Dads can suffer post-natal depression, too
CNN Health, 24 Jun 05

More on dads:

Confessions of a Mother-Man
By Osha Neumann, AlterNet, 18 Jun 05
"Our respect for family values is a lie. When the powerful fall or are pushed from power, they inevitably say, as they tender their resignation, that they are leaving to spend more time with their families. Nobody believes them, and rightly so. Powerful men do not put themselves out to pasture, snap on Snuglis and spend their days happily on park benches changing diapers. Compare the compensation of nannies with CEOs to see how much we value the nurturing of children. Closer to the truth is that there is a radical incompatibility between the parenting of children and the perpetuation of a system that seems hell-bent on blighting their future."

Swap family roles:
When a mom and dad trade duties on a summer vacation

By Austin Murphy and Laura Hilgers, MSNBC, 20 Jun 05
"Poll even the most evolved couples, and you'll find that during family vacations, it's Mom who's the workhorse. But what happens when a hu
sband and wife trade duties?"

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New study tracks incidence of depression
in child-rearing grandmothers

A study of selected variables related to caregivers' psychological distress in "skipped generation families" -- households in which grandparents are raising their own grandchildren with no parent present -- found that parenting grandmothers who are poor, African American, and do not receive public assistance with child care costs were more likely to report feelings of anxiety or downheartedness.

The older the grandmothers were, the less likely they were to experience symptoms of depression, the study found. However, when researchers controlled for receiving child care assistance, age was found to be statistically insignificant. Child-rearing grandmothers were also less likely to experience psychological distress if they were married and when they reported a lower perception of parenting burden, which in this study was measured by grandmothers' assessment of how difficult or time consuming it was to care for a particular grandchild.

In a University of Florida press release, the study's lead author, Terry L. Mills remarks that "It's not surprising that having a family income below the poverty level or not receiving welfare payments for child care were associated with more feelings of emotional stress. One serious consequence of becoming a custodial grandparent is a change for the worse in grandparent's financial status."

Accord to Mills' study, U.S. Census data show nearly 8 percent of all children under age 18 (5.5 million) currently live in homes with grandparents. Of these, 1.3 million are grandparent-headed households, with roughly half the children in such families under age six. In the United States, the largest percentage of children living in a grandparent-headed household are African American, and other recent research finds that African American grandparents acting as parents are more likely than their white counterparts to be unemployed, live below the poverty line, and have larger numbers of grandchildren to care for.

The findings of Mills' Skipped Generation Families study -- which was based on a statistically representative sample from a larger national survey -- are limited. For example, there was no attempt to determine the relationship between grandmothers' reports of psychosocial distress and the total number of dependent children, including the woman's own children and grandchildren, in the household. However, the study does suggest directions for further research and discussion concerning the hardships faced by the growing number of child-rearing grandmothers and the types of social support that might improve their well-being and economic security.

University of Florida Study:
Child Raising Toughest On Young Grandmothers

Press release and summary of findings

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New America Foundation offers proposal for legislating workplace flexibility

Work-life researchers have long emphasized that work day and work week flexibility are key to integrating paid work and the normal responsibilities of family life, but few employers voluntarily offer workers the ability to change their starting and ending times or otherwise adjust their daily work hours. Fewer still offer proportional pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement to employees who work less than full-time. Since it seems unlikely the market will provide solutions to ease America's time divide any time soon, a critical question for mothers' advocates and the time movement is how flexible work might be legislated. One option would be to revise federal working time regulations set out in the Fair Labor Standards Act to reduce involuntary overtime and increase and protect workers access to flexible work hours. A less worker-friendly strategy would involve creating tax incentives for businesses offering flextime options to a certain percentage of their workers.

In a June 2005 overview of a policy proposal from the New America Foundation, work/life policy expert Karen Kornbluh suggests an alternative approach that guarantees the right of all parents of minor children and other family caregivers to formally request a modified work schedule -- either reduced and/or flexible work hours -- with proportional pay, benefits and advancement. Employers would be required to grant a request unless they could show that it would require "significant difficulty or expense entailing more than ordinary costs, decreased job efficiency, impairment of worker safety, infringement of other employees’ rights, or conflict with another law or regulation." Kornbluh does note that the effectiveness of her "Win-Win Flexibility" plan would depend on other policy expansions or enactments, including anti-discrimination laws protecting caregivers (which might make the use of family-friendly work policies more father-friendly), the right of all workers to paid sick and family leave, and guaranteed child care. Kornbluh's primary concern seems to be establishing workers' right to fewer or more flexible working hours without tinkering with the FSLA, and her suggestion that flextime policy would initially cover only parents and family caregivers might be a tough sell to other categories of workers. However, the NAF proposal is a good start on the kind of constructive thinking that needs to take place before we can shift the mothers' movement into high gear.

New America Foundation

Policy Proposal: Win-Win Flexibility
By Karen Kornbluh,
The New America Work & Family Program, June 2005
8 pages in .pdf

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Internet survey finds men, women equally likely to waste time at work

An industry survey of internet users and human resource professionals found that -- not including lunch or scheduled breaks. -- American workers fritter away two hours of their eight-hour work day on non-work activities. Workers were most likely to waste time on non-work use of the internet (45 percent) or socializing with co-workers (23 percent).

The data collected in the online survey -- which relied on the self-reports of slightly over10,000 workers -- is not reliable by formal research standards, but it's certainly suggestive. Salary.com, which conducted the survey earlier this year, projects that workers' wasted time results in a $759 billion dollars loss for employers based on an average worker salary of $39,750/year. Since this calculation is based on the total number of non-farm workers in the U.S. -- millions of whom, such as nurses, most retail workers, production line workers, food and hospitality service workers, call center workers, and many other jobs in the service sector -- have rigid schedules, close supervision, limited opportunities for unrestricted internet use while at work, and tend to have lower than average wages, the Salary.com estimate might have been more realistic had it excluded workers other than office workers.

However, the survey does offer some findings which -- if at all accurate -- are intriguing. For example, HR professionals who took the survey report that they expect workers to spend about an hour of work time on non-work activities -- and note that compensation and benefits take this into account -- but they suspect that workers actually spend about 1.6 hours goofing off. An especially revealing finding was that HR managers believe women waste more time on the job than men, even though the survey found that male and female workers wasted about the squandered about the same amount of work time.

Salary.com found that younger workers were more likely to be time cheats than older workers, with those born after 1980 blowing off an extra hour of work a day compared to those born between 1950 and 1970. One third of workers surveyed report their top reason for whiling away the hours on the job was that they did not have enough work to do, and nearly one in four said they did so because they are poorly paid. Fewer workers reported being distracted by co-workers (15 percent) or not having enough time after work (12 percent). Coincidentally, the survey found that only about 11 percent of workers were stealing work time for personal business or running errands.

For all its limitations as a valid measurement of workers lackadaisical behavior on the job and its costs to employers, the Salary.com survey offers the hope that many American workers could easily get the same amount of work done as they do now -- and feel their time and efforts were used more productively -- in a standard six- or seven-hour work day. However, given the unreliable method of the survey, it findings must be taken with a grain of salt.

Wasted Time At Work Costing Companies Billions
American workers are wasting more than twice the time Human Resource managers expect.
By Dan Malachowski, Salary.com

Other recent industry surveys on working time:

Steelcase Workplace Index Survey Unveils Driving Forces Behind Weekend Work
Steelcase, a manufacturer of high-end office furniture, released selected results of the second of its three-part Workplace Index Survey on the Nature of Work in 2005. Conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, the study examines the length of a typical work week and the reasons workers feel compelled to turn their weekends into "workends." The study found that of the 700 office workers surveyed, 53 percent reported working weekends, compared to 73 percent in 1997. Women and men were equally likely to work on weekends, although more men than women said an "increased workload" is to blame, while more women than men felt as though it is an "unwritten rule."

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Working to live
News and commentary on work/life issues

An Idler's Life
By Katie Renz, Mother Jones, on AlterNet, 25 Jun 05
What would happen if we embraced a four-day work week, or decided to work just three hours a day? An interview with Tom Hodgkinson, publisher of the UK journal The Idler.
"Certainly in my own experience -- even in the really good jobs -- a lot of the day is just spent sitting there, staring at your screen, pretending to work, checking your emails, on the phone to your girlfriend. I realized I'd rather work hard for two or three hours in a day -- which was the only real work I was doing -- and then bobble about the rest of the time, in the park or whatever. I've found that there isn't any correlation whatsoever between the hours put in and the quality of what comes out."

From The Idler (www.idler.co.uk):
On Not Having a Career
By Joan Bakewell, The Idler, no date
"I was beginning to formulate what exactly I wanted from life. Not from a job or even a career. But from life itself. And I discovered that the ingredients actually lay all around. They just needed to be combined in the right formula to meet my own temperament and abilities. They are not obscure and elusive. They are the very things most of us want: a happy family life focused around good relationships; congenial surroundings both at home and at work, that make life pleasant. I am not talking some ambitious make-over nonsense here. Think instead of being able to watch a particular tree round the seasons, coming into bud, flowering, turning to golden leaf and then fronting the winter with stark, dramatic branches."

The Entitlement Generation: Are Young Workers Spoiled
or Simply Demanding a New Kind of Work Life?

By Martha Irvine, The Associated Press, ABC News, 26 Jun 2005
"'We're seeing an epidemic of people who are having a hard time making the transition to work -- kids who had too much success early in life and who've become accustomed to instant gratification,' says Dr. Mel Levine, a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School and author of a book on the topic called 'Ready or Not, Here Life Comes.' …He partly faults coddling parents and colleges for doing little to prepare students for the realities of adulthood."

Finding the work-life balance
By Maggie Jackson, Boston Globe - Boston Works, 19 Jun 05
The ThirdPath Institute, a Philadelphia non-profit, is bringing leading lawyers around the country together to tackle their own work-family challenges.

Ditching corporate life for balance
Some boomers vacate the corner office for a more laid-back existence

MSNBC, Associated Press, 13 Jul 05
"Forsaking corporate jobs may not yet be a trend, but if boomers made it one it wouldn’t be surprising for a generation known for shattering barriers and doing things in its own unconventional way. Due largely to boomers’ influence, work-life balance is becoming more of a priority for a U.S. population getting older and wealthier."

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wages and benefits

Wage Gaps in America:
The Costs of Gender and Motherhood

By Shelley Waters Boots,
New America Foundation
Work & Family Program
A fact sheet summarizing recent research on men's and women's earnings and the maternal wage gap. 2 pages in .pdf

Running Faster to Stay in Place:
The Growth of Family Work Hours and Incomes

By Jared Bernstein and Karen Kornbluh,
New America Foundation
Work & Family Program
"For the period 1979-2000, married-couple families with children increased their hours worked by 16 percent, or almost 500 annual hours. Yet the data also demonstrate that without the increase in women’s work, middle-quintile families would have experienced an average real income increase of only 5 percent – instead of the actual 24 percent -- while families in the bottom two quintiles would have experienced a decrease in real income over that period -- by about 14 percent for the bottom quintile and about 5 percent for the second quintile. Today, middle- and lower-income families no longer see increasing returns to their hours worked in the same way that the previous generation did. The only way many of these families can keep their total income growing -- or not shrinking -- is to work harder and harder." Research paper, 18 pages in .pdf

The Productivity Problem
By Jonathan Tasini, TomPaine.com, 14 Jul 05
"For decades, workers' wages were tied to productivity. The idea was simple: When workers produce more—either tangible products or services—in an hour of work than before, they are being more efficient and, usually, that means more profit for a corporation. Historically, increased efficiency flowed to workers in the form of higher wages. Not anymore."

The Best Corporate Health Plan
Jonathan Tasini, TomPaine.com, 30 Jun 05
"Because health care expenditures come either out of business profits or get passed on to consumers as higher prices, U.S. companies put themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared, at least, to every other country in the industrialized world."

Work For Wal-Mart? You May Need Welfare
By Maria Luisa Tucker, AlterNet. 27 Jun 05
Thousands of low-wage Wal-Mart workers are on public assistance. Many state lawmakers say it's time the megastore was forced to provide affordable employee health insurance.

End of the Private New Deal
By Paul Starr, The American Prospect, 20 Jun 05
"The old corporate America that took responsibility for workers’ pensions and health care is dying, and the nation’s political leadership has hardly taken notice of the implications."

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reproductive health & rights

New government web site on teen health and sexuality inaccurate, misleading

In a July 13 letter to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform and Representative Henry Waxman released the findings of an expert review of a new government web site with advice to parents who want to talk to their teens about sexuality and relationships. The Committee pronounced the web site, www.4parents.gov, "inaccurate and ineffective." Waxman's letter notes that the content on the site, which was launched earlier this year, was not guided by the "expertise of health scientists" from the CDC or "any other science-based agency of the federal government," but was produced by the National Physicians Center for Family Resources, an organization that has criticized the NIH for "finding that condoms are highly effective and has erroneously linked abortion to breast cancer." The letter also mentions that when a number of public health groups raised questions about the accuracy of the information on the 4parents.gov web site, HHS officials attacked them for "failing to support the Administration’s policy initiative on 'abstinence only' education."

Among the inaccuracies or biases found in the information on 4parents.gov were misinformation about the transmission and prevention STDs and HIV, promotion of a "dismissive message on contraception" that leaves parents of sexually active teens in the lurch, derogation of divorced and single parents by suggesting that "divorce and single parenting are responsible for the nation's social ills," descriptions of homosexuality as a "lifestyle," and the prioritization of information in a manner suggesting that "tattoos and body-piercing" are more significant health risks for American teenagers than alcohol and tobacco use. Public health experts did praise the web site for its information on eating disorders and "general instructions on how to talk to teenagers."

Families Are Talking (www.familiesaretalking.org), a project of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), has launched an internet-based letter writing campaign to HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt demanding a comprehensive review and revisions to the web site. Concerned parents, youth and citizens are urged to participate.

Letter from Rep. Henry Waxman to HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt and summary of expert comments on the www.4parents.gov web site

Index to full expert reviews

Families Are Talking letter writing campaign page

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that abstinence-only education undermines the "important goal" of preventing unintended adolescent pregnancies. A July 5 press release from the AAP notes that "most successful prevention programs include multiple and varied approaches to the problem, including both abstinence promotion and contraception information and availability, sexuality education, school-completion strategies and job training" According to the AAP's position statement, current evidence shows that "sexuality education that discusses contraception does not increase sexual activity, and programs that emphasize abstinence as the safest and best approach, while also teaching about contraceptives for sexually active youth, do not increase sexual activity and improve teens' knowledge about access to reproductive health." The AAP based its position on the findings of a new clinical report on currents trends and issues in adolescent pregnancy in the July 1 issue of the journal Pediatrics.

American Academy of Pediatrics:
Prevention of Unintended Adolescent Pregnancy an Important Goal
Press release, 5 Jul 05

Clinical Report:
Adolescent Pregnancy: Current Trends and Issues
Jonathan D. Klein, MD, MPH and the Committee on Adolescence
Pediatrics, Vol 116 No. 1, 1 Jul 05

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Other news and commentary of note on sexuality and reproductive health:

The Price of Denying Choice
By Ann Crittenden, TomPain.com, 13 Jun 05
You don’t usually hear this, but the truth is that you cannot have well-nurtured, well-educated children or a modern, dynamic economy without reproductive freedom. Put another way, denying reproductive freedom is a perfect formula for economic backwardness.

Should Roe Go?
By Katha Pollitt, TomPaine.com, 15 July 05
"Legislative control might be more "democratic"—if you believe that a state senator balancing women's health against a highway for his district represents democracy. But would it be fair? The whole point about constitutional protection for rights is to guarantee them when they are unpopular—to shield them from majority prejudice, opportunistic politicians, the passions and pressures of the moment."

Supreme Consequences
Wendy Chavkin, M.D., TomPaine.com, 21 Jul 2005
"If a reconfigured Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the consequences to women’s health would look different than before 1973—but they would still be serious. The advances of the last three decades, including medical abortion and emergency contraception, would likely change the landscape for women with unintended pregnancies if abortion was illegal. We’ve already heard anecdotal reports of women buying medical abortion pills online and taking it themselves without seeing a doctor." Dr. Wendy Chavkin is the chair of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. She and other doctors who provided or facilitated abortions before Roe v. Wade share their experiences on a new website, www.voicesofchoice.org.

Foes Keep Planned Parenthood under Steady Attack
By Cynthia L. Cooper, Women's eNews, 15 Jul 05
The campaign against Planned Parenthood now goes far beyond anti-abortion protests. Led by two national organizations--Life Decisions and STOPP--it features community protests, corporate boycotts and targeting of clinics with weak finances.

As It Eyes Cities, Wal-Mart Has No Plan B
By Liza Featherstone, Women's eNews, 26 Jun 05
As a national battle rages over pharmacists not filling prescriptions for the "morning-after pill," Wal-Mart continues to keep Plan B off its shelves. The megastore's policy, catering to its rural base, complicates its pursuit of new markets.

California Weighs Parental Notification
By Rebecca Vesely, Women's eNews, 27 Jun 05
California will become a test case this November for whether pro-choice voters support parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. The initiative will part of a special election called by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his economic agenda.

Legal Child Abuse:
The Harm of Parental Involvement Laws

By Diana Philip, Center for American Progress, 17 Jun 05
"Mothering with dignity? Becoming a parent when emotionally, physically, and financially ready? Not for these youth. Deciding when to become a parent or whether to have another child has been taken out of their hands entirely. Because of parental involvement laws, reproductive options are not a reality for teens whose parents seek to punish their behavior rather than support or protect them."

Who's your daddy?
By Andrew Leonard, Salon, 30 Jun 05
"The Nobel Prize Sperm Bank never fulfilled its mission of breeding geniuses. But it did bring 200 children into the world -- and now they're asking questions about where, exactly, they came from." Review of "The Genius Factory," a new book by David Plotz. Registration required to read.

Life Begins at 'Want a Cigarette?'
By Margaret Wertheim, AlterNet, 23 Jun 2005
"Run by the Nightlife Christian Adoption Agency, the Snowflake program is one of a growing number that seek out Christian couples willing to be implanted with some of the estimated 400,000 fertilized eggs residing in the nation's IVF freezers. Proponents refer to the process as "embryo adoption," and while no state or federal law currently recognizes the term, bills to do so are now being put forward in several state legislatures, including California's."

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elsewhere on the web:

Other news and commentary of note:

From Salon (www.salon.com)
More recent articles may require registration to view

The F word
By Rebecca Traister, Salon, 5 Jul 05
"Feminism" turns off a lot of younger women. Is it time to retire the word -- or reclaim it?

Letters in response to Rebecca Traister's "The F word":
"Perhaps today's smart women should stop contemplating the lexicon and start figuring out the fight." Readers sound off on Rebecca Traister's article about "feminism." Salon, 12 Jul 05

A woman needs a repairman
By Ayelet Waldman, Salon, 20 Jun 05
I still want my husband to change the light bulbs and fix the leaky faucets. Maybe I'm not as much of a feminist as I think I am.

Letters in response to Ayelet Waldman's
" A woman needs a repairman"

"True feminists can change their own damn light bulbs." Readers respond to Ayelet Waldman's column about the division of domestic labor. Salon, 22 Jun 05.

Letters in response to Ayelet Waldman's "
A woman needs a repairman," round two

"Feminism has zip to do with what you do, and everything to do with your right to choose to do it." Readers challenge letter writers' responses to Ayelet Waldman's latest column. Salon, 24 Jun 05

"So, why aren't you knocked up yet?"
By Lynn Harris, Salon, 21 Jun 05
"Since I got married, everyone and their mailman has asked me this question. Why, suddenly, is my body everyone else's business? …Is it me, or are people -- and not just the self-righteous religious -- feeling more and more entitled to offer their "input," or at least make irritating inquiries, into others' private lives?"

Letters in response to Lynn Harris'
"So, why aren't you knocked up yet?"

"I think we need to return to some good old-fashioned boundary drawing." Readers agree with Lynn Harris -- people are rude! Salon, 23 Jun 05

Trying to control the controller
By Katy Read, Salon, 7 Jul 05
"These days, I know, parents are supposed to have vehement child-rearing opinions and to stick to them with droidlike consistency. But with video games, as with so many parenting matters, I wind up thinking that almost all the positions -- even diametrically opposed ones -- make a little bit of sense. And that none offers any guarantees."

From AlterNet: (www.alternet.org):

Is Everything Bad Really Good For Us?
By Laura Barcella, AlterNet, 8 Jul 05
We talk with media darling Steven Johnson about pop culture, 'media diet,' and -- ahem -- whether his much-hyped new book should really be taken seriously.

The Myth of Marriage
By Monica Mehta, AlterNet, 21 Jul 05
A radical new book debunks the concept of marriage as a time-honored institution, and argues that we need to loosen up about it. Review of "Marriage: A History" by Stephanie Coontz.

Domestic Violence Not a Problem?
By Judith Kahan, AlterNet, 21 Jul 05
The Violence Against Women Act is set to expire in September -- and unless Congress can ensure that domestic abuse ends by then, our lawmakers have a responsibility to renew and expand the bill.

Un-Housing the Poor
By Dan Frosch, AlterNet, 6 Jun 05
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is leading the charge to deny assistance to the families who need it the most.

From other sources:

Feds May Fund Programs for Teen Dating Violence
By Tiare Rath, Women's eNews, 8 Jul 05
A recent study found 57 percent of teen respondents had a friend in an abusive relationship, validating the growing concern about teen dating violence. Now, Congress considers spending $15 million annually on a problem that goes beyond immaturity.

Kids in legal gray area when gay couples split
By Richard Willing, USA Today, 20 Jun 05
"Sometime this summer, the California Supreme Court will rule on the case of Elisa and Emily and two similar appeals. At issue: In same-sex relationships, what makes a person a parent? Is it biology, existing legal standards or whether that person acts like a parent? If Elisa and Emily had been an unmarried heterosexual couple, their dispute probably would have been resolved already. In California and other states, courts look at how such couples define their relationship to determine parentage."

Blogging: Group Therapy of the 21st Century? Many Bloggers Say Writing Online Journals Helps Them Deal with Problems
ABC News, 2 July 05
An article profiling blogger Heather Armstrong, owner of the Dooce, on the role of blogging in her recovery from post-partum depression.

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July/August 2005

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