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Last July, I spoke with Sky H., a 20-year–old who identifies as non-binary and grew up in a very conservative rural town in the Black Belt region of Alabama. In school, Sky received abstinence-only…
Desks in an empty classroom
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When Abba M. learned that a sexual partner had exposed her to the human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV, she did “a bunch of Googling.” The 21-year-old Alabama resident knew very little about it. Turning to her friends proved…
A billboard by the Alabama Department of Public Health in Eutaw, Greene County, raises awareness of recommended adolescent vaccines, including the HPV vaccine.
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What does it mean to be a human rights voter? Support candidates who want the government to adopt and enforce laws that promote and protect human rights. This means candidates who defend people from abusive systems, officials, individuals, and…
201911us_2020_election_voting
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As we approach LGBT Pride weekend, it is worth noting that San Francisco's leadership in fighting the HIV epidemic is alive and well. Under a new policy, San Francisco law enforcement no longer will use condoms as evidence of misdemeanor prostitution…
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Voices from across the political spectrum condemned the Missouri Senate candidate for Senate, Todd Akin, for his recent offensive and scientifically inaccurate reasoning to deny rape survivors’ access to abortion. Akin said women’s bodies “shut down” and…
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I met her at 2 a.m. on a cold and windy morning in Washington, when she ran over to the outreach van to get a warm cup of coffee. Volunteers were offering condoms and health information to sex workers. She took only two condoms, and I urged her to take…
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When I went to college, I chose a highly regarded university with a strong tradition as a Jesuit institution. I was pleased with my undergraduate education at Boston College, but I still lament that my alma mater denies students access to contraceptive…
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Doe-eyed and frail, with a mellow voice and a cheery smile, nothing about Sara (not her real name) suggested she had been through ordeal after ordeal in her 22 years. Forcibly married at 15 to a much older man, she discovered after the marriage that her…
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Abortion should not be a hard, divisive issue - at least not politically. This week, Gallup released its annual survey on how the U.S. public feels about it.  For the past 10 years, the figures have hovered around the same lines, with about 50 percent…
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This past weekend, New Zealand found itself in the midst of a loud public debate over the case of a teenager who procured an abortion with the support of her school counselor, without informing her parents. The parents were angry, and much was said about…
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Los Angeles was poised to become a national model for delivering justice to rape victims last year. The City approved a plan and funding to test the backlog of more than 7,000 sets of untested physical evidence from rape cases for DNA matches. Then came…
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A tremendous human rights project is under way in the US Congress. The health care reform effort has the potential to expand access to critical services to uninsured Americans across the country. But the Stupak amendment undermines this entire effort and…
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Europe's Reproductive Health Fatigue

After almost a decade of dismay at U.S. policy, it was wonderful for those of us in Europe who work on women's rights to witness the U.S. Secretary of State stand up in Congress and say, "We happen to think that family planning is an important part of…
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A year ago I interviewed the mother of a young woman from Wisconsin who had been raped by a man she met at while visiting her cousin in Los Angeles. It had been eight months since the rape, and the rape kit - the physical evidence -- in her daughter's…
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Sex-selective abortion raises a multitude of overlapping ethical concerns regarding eugenics, population control, and provider privilege or knowledge. It was also, until recently, an issue we linked mostly to China, Korea, and India. Not anymore. Recent…
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Last week, New York legislators passed landmark legislation on an issue that has received far less public attention and debate than waterboarding and sleep deprivation, but that involves the same core issues of human dignity and protection from cruel…
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A current uproar at Notre Dame University shows that President Obama, usually greeted by adoring crowds, seems to be losing some of his rock star status-and for all the wrong reasons. This Sunday, President Obama is slated to give the commencement speech…
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As a researcher on the rape kit backlog in the US, I have interviewed many survivors of rape. Still, this experience did not prepare me for the story I heard in January from a disabled woman in North Dakota who was brutally raped by an acquaintance.…
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is known by many who deal with it by its acronym: ICE. The name is well-deserved for its treatment of the immigrant women locked up in its detention system. The ICE detention system - supposedly administrative…
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When I decided to attend Boston College, a private Jesuit university, I didn't think to ask whether they provided comprehensive health care for women. But as I soon learned, Boston College's reproductive health services fell far short of those typically…