Monday, August 3, 2015

Something to Know - August 3, 2015

The Donald

1. Oh hell

Above: Pinata replicas of Donald Trump are a hot commodity in LA's pinata district. 
Donald Trump is still leading in various kinds of polls in his attempt to earn the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Trump's early surge led many to fret that he would be present at the first presidential debate (where the obligation is to cut anyone who isn't polling in the top 10 or so). Well, Mr. Trump has taken a pass at participating in the first televised event of all eligible candidates (tonight, a forum in New Hampshire). But don't worry, he'll be in attendance at the first debate on Thursday.

Onto other things.

2) Protecting Access to Affordable Health Care for Women

From the Planned Parenthood Tumblr
Today, Democrats narrowly managed to block a motion to defund Planned Parenthood. The motion needed 60 votes; it got only 53. Today, I breathed a sigh of relief. But it's not over. It's far from over.

Planned Parenthood is an important provider of health care for women in America, period. Planned Parenthood serves 2.7 million Americans each year, many of whom are low-income or do not have health insurance.

One in five women in the US will visit Planned Parenthood at least once in her life; of those, 80% receive services to prevent unwanted pregnancy. I was one of those women, in 2003. While I had health insurance through my college,  I needed access to contraception and tests during my summer break, and the college health center was on the other side of the US. Someone who would go on to become one of my best friends, a community health major, suggested I go to Planned Parenthood. I was treated well, the staff was great, and I got everything that I needed.

I have no f--- clue where I would have gone for contraception and testing had Planned Parenthood not been around. At age 21, I was only familiar with going to Kaiser as a kid, which was not an option at that point since I was no longer covered, and I sure as hell wasn't going to go discuss this with my parents. Planned Parenthood was there for me, and now I'm here for them.

The overwhelming majority of Planned Parenthood's work (97%) is related to preventative care, but if you listen to the anti-abortion rhetoric, you'd think that all Planned Parenthood did was abortions.

I think I might get where some people are coming from. And yet, it's very hard for me to empathize. I am fully supportive of women's reproductive rights, a women's right to choose, and of public policy which includes funding organizations like Planned Parenthood which do a great deal to empower women to exercise their reproductive rights.

3) I was going to talk about this charming story in The Atlantic that talked about this project to understand what little kids (like preschoolers) think of participating in their government, but after sharing my experience with Planned Parenthood, I am a little spent. Story:

It was cool that these little kids were challenged to develop ideas to improve their community and solutions to their community's problems. One classroom of young children suggested allowing more development in order to create jobs,.

It's good to work on these kinds of ideas. I am ashamed to admit that my early foray into self-governance, back in the 6th grade on the Wonderland student council, involved rebuking a neighbor (not a parent) who paid to have the school playground repainted over the span of a weekend without any notice to us kids. (If there was a kid who knew was going on - perhaps because they had a parent who was in the loop - that kid kept his or her mouth shut.)

When I say there was no notice, there was no official notice: nothing in Words from Wonderland, the weekly parental newsletter; nothing during morning announcements; no signage on the playground that said, Your bland peach-colored playground is getting overhauled this weekend! If there was mention in the meeting minutes for the PTSA or Friends of Wonderland newsletter, I didn't catch it. I don't even remember the full name of the woman who coordinated the whole thing -- her first name was Melanie, she was a thirty-something or forty-something woman who just moved into the neighborhood, and she was forced to come to a 10:30AM Student Council meeting to explain herself to 'elected' officials. When asked why she donated so much money for paint and labor, she said she just wanted the playground to look nice.

I must've told her that all we wanted was for her to ask us what we thought first. We would have been really happy to help, and to support her project, but maybe she should have told us what she had in mind. We were kids, but we weren't idiots, and we would have told her what we needed too.

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