#ExpertOpinion: Increase of “Contraception Deserts” is no accident


Introduced by the framing of the Zika Virus spreading to the United States, Rebecca Kreitzer and Candis Watts Smith, two assistant professors of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel HIll, dive into the concern over whether or not women in every part of the country can protect themselves from the possibility of pregnancy through contraception.

For anyone who has ever read a little bit about women’s reproductive health, the answer should be an obvious “absolutely not”. Unfortunately, the fairly unknown federally subsidized Title X program, the only one dedicated solely to family planning and related preventive health care, is being abused by a number of states and Congress, making it even more difficult for some women around the country to access contraception.

Contraception deserts. Think: “desolate or forbidding area” or “uninhabited and uncultivated tract” and that is what a large number of women in the United States deal with in regards to accessing contraception on a day-to-day basis. Zika is an issue; that is undeniable. However, Congress did not reduce Title X funding by 9.8 percent over the course of six years because they were not worried about Zika. (That’s $317.5 million in 2010 to $286.5 million in 2016, by the way!) Congress and states like North Carolina and Texas are reducing these budgets for ideological and religious purposes, not to mention control. Worse, Obstrics & Gynecology published a study demonstrating that their reckless behavior is a contributing factor to the increase in the United States’ maternal morality rates between 2000 and 2014. For the record, maternal mortality rates around the world are decreasing.

So, whom is this affecting? Not me. I get three months of brand birth control covered by my family’s health insurance whenever I need a refill and if I happen to lose a month’s packet, I can just call my doctor and have her contact the pharmacy down the road. Then, I take my car, drive to Walgreens and the problem is solved. Perhaps, this is why I have never worried about having a baby infected by Zika; perhaps, this is why I did not even realized we had a Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Lucky for me, I am not one of the 55% of American women who every day experience at least one barrier in accessing reproductive health care. The figure of 55% is bone chilling. Over half of American women could be facing the fear of becoming pregnant with a Zika infected child; more importantly over half of American women face the fear of becoming pregnant.

An inability to pay, getting time off work or lack of transportation are the three biggest barriers that contribute to the contraception desert and these deserts are in pockets around the country mainly affecting poor, less educated, minority women (especially Hispanic women). Every woman deserves the comfort I experience everyday in knowing that I do not have to worry about getting pregnant (Zika infected country or not). With the election just weeks away, American women need to be told what these candidates’ plans to do about Title X and I hope the moderators in the upcoming debate feel the same.

And that’s your #ExpertOpinionoftheWeek

Written by: Lauren King


#AMainstreamMessage : What About Reproductive Rights?

The first presidential debate was this past Monday, September 26, 2016. During the debate, various issues were addressed and some very important national issues were overlooked such as the war on women. The issue of Reproductive rights describes the war on women. The fact that reproductive rights were not brought up during the first debate is baffling and an eye opener to what the future may hold for women’s protection of their reproductive rights. In terms of Trump, the republican candidate has never withheld his opinion on abortion or reproductive rights, his position is against women having this access. Women just want fundamental reproductive rights, but candidate Trump has said that abortion should be made illegal. Donald Trump said in an interview that Planned Parenthood should be defunded. If Trump was to become president it is pretty clear that reproductive rights will not be a central focus for him. By defunding Planned Parenthood, access to affordable health care will be greatly limited. This is important because Planned Parenthood is responsible for providing reproductive health care to majority of the female population. It does not seem like Trump realizes how much reproductive healthcare is important to the women of America.

Secretary Clinton once said that reproductive rights are human rights. Limiting access to reproductive rights would be the last thing on the Clinton agenda if she became president. The Rolling Stones reported in an article that Clinton opposes the Hyde Amendment because the outcome would largely target the poor population of women. The article used a quote that said, “This entire race is about gender,” and Clinton is runnning her campaign in this way. This is a smart technique for Clinton to follow, especially because her chance of winning weighs on the shoulders of women (women & Black women).

Diminishing reproductive rights similar to how they ignored it in this recent presidential debate is frightening for the future of women’s health care.



by: Rodesha Washington


Planned Parenthood should be defunded: http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Donald_Trump_Abortion.htm

Planned Parenthood:                                                     https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/planned-parenthood-at-a-glance

Rolling Stones:                                                 http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/how-hillary-clinton-became-a-vessel-for-americas-fury-w440914

Planned Parenthood Tweets about Presidential Debates

Since the first Presidential debate on Monday night, Planned Parenthood has been vocal on Twitter about their support of Hillary Clinton and opposition to Donald Trump. They congratulated Clinton for her professionalism during Monday’s debate, and criticized Trump for his disrespectful nature toward women, calling him a racist, sexist, bully and quoting the mention of his statement that pregnancy is an inconvenience for employers.

Obviously, Planned Parenthood has stakes in this election, considering Trump’s commitment to defund Planned Parenthood, and previous statements about punishing women who have had abortions. They have endorsed Hillary Clinton for her policies on reproductive health, and her intentions to make birth control and abortions more accessible. Clinton has also spoken out about her support of Planned Parenthood throughout her Presidential campaign.

Thursday, Planned Parenthood tweeted a political cartoon depicting a future in which Donald Trump is the President and abortion is not an option. The cartoon also makes reference to Nazi Germany, with the letter “T” and wings representing the Imperial Eagle used a symbol of the Third Reich during World War II. Obviously these tweets were met with some controversy, however Twitter users were not quite as belligerent as one might have anticipated.


Reactions to the conversation on Twitter and Facebook were more tame than many I have seen on similar topics.  The Twitter users made their points, but no one attempted to argue with each other. There was little to no name calling nor profanity. It seemed to be more productive. While their words were loaded with further implications, and not necessarily supported by facts, people were still able to make their points clearly and concisely.


However, many of the users in favor of Planned Parenthood’s views seemed to be women, while their critics appeared to be men. This makes sense considering that the stakes for women are higher when it comes to accessibility of reproductive health care. One woman even posted a political cartoon which depicted a man protesting abortion and stating that while he does not want the government making decisions about his own health care, he does expect to make decisions about the reproductive health care given to women.



I related this to Polsby’s article which looked at which demographics tended to vote Democrat and which Republican. Polsby explained that because the Democratic party usually is more concerned with women’s issues, and supports pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood, women are more likely to belong to their party. On the other hand, because the Republican party is more concerned with maintaining the power men hold in society, their policies more often attract the support of men. As a woman who understands the stakes for women regarding reproductive health, Hillary Clinton, along with many of the women of the Democratic party, is both supportive of and supported by Planned Parenthood while Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the men of the Republican party oppose Planned Parenthood because it does not work to maintain their power.

Sara Leonetti



Trump Comes Out Hard Against Abortion

On September 20th, Donald Trump, along with running mate Mike Pence, sent out a letter to supporters staking out his most radical, anti-abortion stance yet. Rather than just his past platitudes, outlining vague denouncements of abortion or defunding women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, Mr. Trump this time has outlined specific policy measures he will take in order to strip a woman’s right to an abortion across the United States.

In a letter to Pro-Life Leaders, Donald Trump outlines what he believes in in terms of reproductive health, as well as what he argues Hillary Clinton believes. Donald Trump starts his letter with an invitation to pro-life supporters to join his campaign, as he is creating a pro-life coalition for his campaign. This is perhaps because his stance on abortion has changed over the years, from being pro-choice in 1999 to being publicly pro-life in 2011 (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/aug/11/carly-fiorina/fiorina-trumps-abortion-flip-flop/). Trump implores pro-life groups to support his candidacy for president because, in his words, “Hillary Clinton not only supports abortion on-demand for any reason, but she’d take it a step further: she wants to force the taxpayers to pay for abortions by repealing the bi-partisan Hyde Amendment” (http://www.sba-list.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Trump-Letter-on-ProLife-Coalition.pdf).

By attacking Hillary Clinton’s well-known stance on abortion, Donald Trump is making a very obvious appeal to those people on the Right who are pro-life but who are still unconvinced that someone who has flipped on abortion could be their candidate. Trump furthers his attacks on Hillary by taking her quotes on abortion out of context and using faulty logic to assert his own, newfound pro-life views.

After finishing his attack on his opponent, Donald Trump then pivots to four specific policy positions he will take if he becomes President. First, Donald Trump stated that, if elected, he would nominate decidedly pro-life Justices on the Supreme Court. If this were to occur, these Justices could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade or at the very least, ensure that restrictive TRAP laws like those struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Second, Trump would create a law he calls the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”, which would stop what he deems “painful late-term abortions”. This law is also dangerous to women’s health, as it will restrict access to potentially necessary and life-saving reproductive care. Next, Trump vows to defund Planned Parenthood, a common theme among Republicans. This is potentially the most dangerous proposal Trump has, as Planned Parenthood is a vital resource for the millions of women who depend on its myriad of services, abortion included. Finally, Trump proposes to make the Hyde Amendment law, which would make the federal funding of abortions illegal. Again, this is a dangerous and anti-reproductive rights policy to propose (http://www.sba-list.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Trump-Letter-on-ProLife-Coalition.pdf).

With this letter to pro-life groups, urging them to support him, Donald Trump is staking out a hardline pro-life position that is dangerous for women’s health and reproductive rights.

Ethan Flanagan

EMILY’s List’s first endorsement for president finally a candidate

For the past 30 years, EMILY’s List, short for “Early Money Is Like Yeast”, has supported pro-choice candidates in key races around the country. The organization has had a hand in electing over 100 pro-choice Democratic women to the U.S. House of Representatives, 19 to the U.S. Senate, 11 to governors’ seats and hundreds of women to state and local office positions.

While the organization has operated since 1985, EMILY’s List never endorsed a candidate for the presidential election until January 2007 when Hillary Clinton announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. Within hours of the announcement, EMILY’s List backed Hillary Clinton and launched a campaign that raised money for Clinton’s camp and “turned out millions of women to vote for her in the primaries – helping spark a surge of enthusiasm for the the 2008 elections”.


The organization chose to endorse Hillary Clinton 9 years ago not only for her pro-choice support, but also because she is “a lifelong champion for women and families, who will fight for fairness”, would be “a president who’ll change the economic reality Americans face” and is the “most qualified candidate for president, who has what America needs in a leader”. Here’s more on why EMILY’s List supports Hillary Clinton.

Reflecting on theme of Nelson Poslby’s book, Presidential Elections, the argument that interest groups do not actually have a real effect on voters, it would be interesting to analyze whether or not EMILY’s List has the real impact that it claims to have in elected women officials on the federal, state, and local levels.

And there’s your #ExpertOpinionoftheWeek

Lauren King



Gender and the issues surrounding this topic are presented in different ways throughout mainstream media. Recently the media has been discussing gender through the topics  of reproductive rights and abortion. With the presidential campaign, mainstream media outlets have been monitoring the particular stances the candidates have on these topics. The Washington Post reports, Trump has multiple opinions on the woman’s right to choose. The Republican presidential candidate believes women should be punished for receiving an abortion. Many members of Congress share the same viewpoint as Trump. For example, a Huffington Post article comments on the fact that even forty years after the monumental Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case  women are still fighting for reproductive rights from the government. Reproductive rights is a controversial topic that the media should cover in the hopes of informing and educating the public but especially women because it involves them. However, I think the media may use this continuously current topic to entertain by focusing on videos that show Trump “performing” his tyrannical platforms and ideas on this important topic. Reproductive rights should not be used for entertainment because it concerns an entire country of women.

Here’s Trump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Jpoecf0xY

Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/04/03/donald-trumps-ever-shifting-positions-on-abortion/

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-quigley/the-fight-for-womens-equa_b_11703766.html


by: Rodesha Washington


Trump Supports Over the Counter Birth Control

Earlier this week, Planned Parenthood tweeted a Vox article regarding Trump’s endorsement of over the counter birth control pills. While this sounds like something Planned Parenthood would be in favor of, many women’s health organizations are concerned that without a prescription, it will not be covered by health insurance plans, making it more expensive and therefore inaccessible to women with lower income.





According to Vox, Trump more than likely made this endorsement in an effort to prevent Hillary from making claims that he is misogynistic. While it is possible to require insurance companies to cover birth control pills even if they are not prescribed, Trump has yet to make a statement regarding birth control in that case. Vox took a poll on Twitter asking whether their followers believed birth control should require a prescription. 86% voted “No”.





There seemed to be a slightly more in depth conversation on Facebook, with people contributing more than just 140 characters. Here people were better able to offer their opinion, as well as an alternative solution. However, there still was not much space to over any further explanation.

facebook trumo.png

This goes back to what we talked about in class regarding Dahl’s criteria for democracy, and Habermas’ Public Sphere. Dahl’s first criteria was that citizens be able to participate and articulate their viewpoints. While social media does give them the opportunity to voice their opinions, and for others to chime in with their own, it does not facilitate a more complicated conversation. People stated their initial abbreviated thought, but did not elaborate. As for Habermas’ idea of the public sphere, I think Habermas would agrue that this does not facilitate democracy, because while Twitter is a place for “conversation”, not many people would be able to reflect on their own thoughts and ideas and develop a more complex opinion after being told to “keep you pants zipped” or any number of the other judgments made.

At best, Twitter seemed most useful as a means to take polls. However, we cannot tell from the poll whether these people would disagree with their vote under the condition that over the counter birth control be paid for out of pocket by the consumer.