World AIDS Day: The Affordable Care Act Can Help in Creating the Healthiest Generation Ever

HIV_stopEditor’s Note: The following piece is a guest blog post from Planned Parenthood Arizona President and CEO Bryan Howard.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day and this year, as we work to raise awareness around HIV and gather support for those who are living with HIV/AIDS, we should also take a moment to recognize the profound impact that the Affordable Care Act will have on prevention, detection, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.


One in 5 people with HIV is unaware of his or her infection.


With the Affordable Care Act, 1.1 million Americans living with HIV will no longer be denied health insurance coverage because HIV is a “pre-existing condition.” More people living with HIV/AIDS will have access to affordable health insurance coverage to get the care they need, and millions of Americans will have access to preventive health care services that include HIV testing without a co-pay.

There is no doubt that we have come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS, especially given the advances of the ACA, yet the epidemic continues to affect millions of people throughout the world with some communities impacted more than others. In the United States, more than 56,000 people become infected with HIV each year. About one-third of new HIV cases are in young people, ages 13 to 29.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, there are more than 15,000 Arizonans living with HIV/AIDS with some of the highest rates in Maricopa and Pima counties.

As the largest nonprofit sexual health care provider in Arizona, Planned Parenthood is committed to reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by providing nonjudgmental, comprehensive, high-quality reproductive health care to all women, men, and young people.

Planned Parenthood Arizona has health centers throughout Arizona that provide a range of health care services, including HIV testing, STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings, birth control, vaccinations, and primary care. We also serve as an expert resource in medically accurate sexuality education.

As a trusted health care provider and sexual health educator, we strive to educate women, men, and young people about how to prevent HIV and other STDs. In addition to diligent condom use and regular STD screening, practicing abstinence and having one partner who has no other intimate partners can also help to reduce the risk of getting an STD (including HIV).

So, today I ask you to join Planned Parenthood in fighting for the healthiest generation ever.

About Bryan Howard: Bryan Howard is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona and a board member at Reproductive Health Technology Project, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.

Giving Thanks to Obamacare

thanksgivingThe following guest post comes to us via Morganne Rosenhaus, community engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

This year, as a 20-something woman, I have a whole lot to be thankful for and I want to take a moment to share, because I know it’s not just me the universe is smiling down on.


Those of us celebrating Thanksgiving have so much to be thankful for this year.


I am thankful for the Affordable Care Act — a bill that has and will continue to change the lives of so many people in the United States. I should also say I am equally thankful that the 40-plus attempts to stop the Affordable Care Act from being enacted didn’t pass either (whew!).

I want to take a moment to share what it is about the ACA that makes it so amazing — especially for young women.

Inclusion on your parents’ health insurance until you turn 26. Let’s face it, these days it is not a given that you graduate and immediately start working a full-time job with benefits. Finding a job takes time and sometimes you have to take the part-time waitressing gig, the retail job, or an unpaid internship on the way to landing that dream job. And, newsflash, internships and part-time jobs usually don’t include benefits like health insurance (unless things have changed in the last few years…).

Free birth control. The rumors are true. Birth control is FREE. Just wait until you have that moment where you pick up your pills and don’t pay anything — it is pretty darn exciting.

Tons of other preventive health care benefits that will make your head spin. Free birth control is awesome, but not every woman needs or wants birth control. Other women might be pretty excited for the free breastfeeding supplies and counseling, or interpersonal and domestic violence screening, which are also available at no cost through the ACA.

Affordable health insurance. With cost-sharing and tax premiums available to people who need them most, health insurance is affordable for more people. Plus, if you are a woman, you don’t have to worry about how being a woman might impact your coverage. Can you believe that insurance companies could, at one point in time, charge women more just because being a woman was considered a pre-existing condition?!

Although the Affordable Care Act has been slowly coming together over the past few years, this year had some of the more important, hallmark ACA pieces come to fruition. With the exchanges opening (well, sort of…) in October and coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014 for millions (yes, I said millions) of people, 2013 was sort of a big deal. Plus, starting January 1, 2014, your health insurance really does have to let you get your birth control for free. No more games.

So tomorrow, I am giving thanks to something that has not only changed my life, but also the lives of so many other young women just like me — and it will continue to do so in the coming years!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • 1_image-largeTexas is trying its best to reduce access to abortion and we’re not gonna take it. What does that mean, exactly? Can you say LAWSUIT?! #Boom (HuffPo)
  • Speaking of Texas, Pro-Choice Princess Wendy Davis is expected to announce her run for governor! (Politico)
  • Once-a-month birth control? Count me the hell in. (The Week)
  • *Sigh* The knuckleheads in Colorado will not give up on “personhood.” The voters have rejected this malarkey twice before, and last year it was rejected from even making it to the ballot. Some would call this “persistent.” We call it moronic. (RH Reality Check)
  • Why do women have abortions after 20 weeks? This article will tell you. (ABC News)
  • The new documentary “After Tiller” confronts one of the most volatile topics in American life: late-term abortion. (WSJ)
  • Medical miracle on the horizon!!! Eight Promising Methods of Male Birth Control (Popular Science)
  • The lack of access to affordable family planning services is exacerbated when 13 million women of reproductive age have no health insurance. (Think Progress)

Celebrating Affordable and Accessible Contraception

plannedparenthoodactionorgThe following guest post comes to us via Morganne Rosenhaus, community engagement coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona.

How appropriate that, today, World Contraception Day is only five days before the health insurance exchange opens. Not only can we celebrate the advances we have made in contraceptive development over the years, but we can also rejoice around the fact that birth control is now affordable and accessible to even more women.


Obamacare allows you to visit Planned Parenthood for the same preventive health care  — with no co-pays!


Let’s start by celebrating the fact that women have options. Between rings, patches, pills, injections, IUDs (intrauterine devices), and implants — a woman can find a method that works best for her lifestyle. Of course, the search for the “perfect” method will continue — the contraceptive that not only prevents pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but also tastes like chocolate. Fingers crossed!

Next, let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that women have access to these methods. Through the Affordable Care Act (also known as health care reform or Obamacare), all health insurance plans must provide specific, no-cost, preventive health care coverage to women, which includes … drum roll … birth control!

Free birth control?!

On August 1, 2012, Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives became available to women for free (or without co-pay), and starting in January 2014, this benefit will apply to most private health insurance plans and health insurance plans through the exchanges.

As with all good news, there are always a few limitations. In the case of no-cost birth control, there are two things to watch out for:

  • Women who are participants or beneficiaries in group health plans sponsored by religious employers might not be able to access this benefit. Why? As of August 1, 2013, group health plans established or maintained by certain religious employers, and insurance coverage provided in connection with such plans, are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive services.
  • Yes, insurance companies are required to have all FDA-approved methods of contraceptives available. However, the specific brand of birth control pills that you like might be covered by one health care insurance plan and not another. It depends …

Some people might be thinking, “This is a great benefit, but I don’t have insurance, so it doesn’t really do me any good.”

Not true! The exciting news is, if you don’t have any kind of health insurance, the health insurance exchange opens on October 1, only five days from now. Through the health insurance exchange, you can find a plan that fits your needs and your budget. Plus, no matter what level of health insurance you choose, birth control without co-pay is included. Whew!

Now you might be thinking, “If I have health insurance, I guess I don’t need to come to Planned Parenthood anymore.”

Not true! Planned Parenthood accepts most insurance plans, both through the health insurance exchanges and private insurance. Whether you have insurance or not, Planned Parenthood is here for you.

Happy World Contraception Day, and cheers to more accessible and affordable contraception here in the United States!

Read more about Obamacare here: www.plannedparenthood.org/healthinsurance

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • plan bHere’s a nifty little map showing the number of unintended pregnancies by state. (HuffPo)
  • Why has the birth rate for teenagers hit an all-time low? Hint: It’s not because of abstinence. (Double X Factor)
  • Poor, Black, and Hispanic Women Are More Often Counseled on Emergency Contraception (NYT)
  • (Honorary Feminist) President Obama is not going to let employees working for religious organizations go without the birth control they need, gosh darnit! (The Fiscal Times)
  • More and more women are relying on the “pull-out” method rather than hormonal contraception. (HuffPo)
  • Conservative goons the Koch brothers are spending big bucks to strip you of your reproductive rights. (RH Reality Check)
  • Everything You Need to Know About the Abortion Case That’s Headed to the Supreme Court (Think Progress)
  • Dear Parents, Your daughter’s uterus does not belong to you. And parental notification laws serve no purpose other than to obstruct teenagers’ access to abortion. (Truth-Out)
  • Wanna know how to get an abortion in Texas? It ain’t easy! (Al Jazeera America)

The Feminine Mystique in Retrospect: An Interview with Stephanie Coontz, Part 2

Last month we featured Part 1 of our interview with historian Stephanie Coontz about her book A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s (Basic Books, 2012). A Strange Stirring looks at the history of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, which has been widely regarded as one of the most influential books of the last century.


“Work is still organized on the assumption that every employee will have a wife at home to take care of life.”


Published 50 years ago in February of 1963, The Feminine Mystique was Friedan’s response to the unease and dissatisfaction that she learned was common among American housewives at the time. Friedan hypothesized that the root of their unhappiness was their confinement to domestic roles, which prevented them from finding meaning and identity outside of their roles as homemakers, partners, and caregivers. Entering the workforce and professions, Friedan believed, would provide them the fulfillment they were missing.

Although social conservatives blamed The Feminine Mystique for sowing marital discontent, that was never Friedan’s intention. As Stephanie Coontz explained in A Strange Stirring, Friedan’s book “made a point of not criticizing husbands for their wives’ unhappiness.” Instead, it suggested that “marriages would be happier when women no longer tried to meet all their needs through their assigned roles as wives and mothers.” In Part 1 of our interview, Coontz discussed the accuracy of Friedan’s insight, noting that “today divorce rates tend to be lowest in states where the highest percentage of wives are in the labor force. Marriages where men and women voluntarily share breadwinning and caregiving tend to be very high quality.” Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Greg Gadek for State Senate, LD 25

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, and early voting is underway. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2012!

Mesa’s legislative district hasn’t had a candidate like Greg Gadek in several years. In the last two election cycles, the Republican candidate in Legislative District 25 has run unopposed, even though in Mesa, Democrats and independents together outnumber Republicans — a majority that Gadek believes isn’t being represented by the far-right conservatism that’s become so entrenched in the legislature.


“The deeply personal issues of reproductive choice and whom to choose as a domestic partner or spouse should be considered fundamental freedoms and protected by Arizona law.”


Running as an alternative to what he has called “a good old boy network” and “business as usual,” Gadek has received Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement for his commitment to reproductive freedom and access to reproductive health care. He also noted in his interview with PPAA that he is the first person to run for office in Mesa who supports marriage equality.

Located in Maricopa County, the newly redistricted LD 25 comprises approximately half of Mesa, including Dana Park, The Groves, Hohokam Park, Red Mountain Ranch, Riverview, Las Sendas, and Superstition Springs. Gadek generously took time for an interview with PPAA on October 16, 2012, to talk about his candidacy.

Please tell us a little about your background.

My name is Greg Gadek and I am the Democratic candidate for state Senate in Mesa’s newly redistricted LD 25. I have been a resident of our Mesa district for over 25 years and, with my wife Jennifer, have raised our family here. I have been a registered independent for most of my life but my views have always been closely aligned with the Democratic Party.

Arizona Republicans have merged to the extreme far right and I believe that it is time to stand up and take our state back to the middle. Regardless of your party affiliation, if you are frustrated and angry with Mesa’s “politics as usual,” our campaign gives you a real choice. I hope to have the opportunity to meet you in person over the coming weeks and months. And I hope that you will join me. Continue reading