UPDATE: Zika Virus is Still Spreading

By Shanda Glover

This past February, I wrote a post on the rising Zika virus epidemic and how quickly it was spreading to different countries. At the time of the first article, the Zika virus had only spread to U.S states closest to the Mexican border specifically Texas and Arizona. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been at least one case reported of Zika in all but seven states. However, all these cases have been traveled associated cases, meaning they were infected by the virus outside the United States.

The Zika virus is dangerous because studies show that it raises the probability that a pregnant woman may give birth to a child with severe microcephaly. Many women both in the United States and South America have chosen to have an abortion knowing that their child may be affected by the Zika virus. According to the Washington Post, the CDC received, between August 2015 to February, more than 257 requests from pregnant women wanting to be tested for Zika. Thankfully, of those, 97 percent tested negative for the virus.

However, since February, there has been two abortions, two miscarriages, and one child born with microcephaly reported in the United States, all caused by Zika.

The abortion debate still continues in South America. Most South American countries have strict laws prohibiting abortion, and access to birth control is often restricted.  Countries including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, and the Dominican Republic outlaw abortions even when a woman’s life is at risk. And that has yet to change even with the presence of the Zika epidemic.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the rising occurrence of the virus has encouraged many women to demand that these countries’ extreme abortions laws make exceptions in cases of microcephaly. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has called out for “laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services” to be abolished in light of Zika.

Still nothing has changed.

For those who live in Idaho, you can sleep well knowing that Idaho has not reported any cases of Zika, but you should still be careful.

Zika is still present in South America and is rising in the United States.  With 450 people affected in the United States, Zika is not something that we should ignore, especially since there is no vaccine to prevent it.

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Zika Virus Epidemic: From Mosquito Bite to an STD

By Shanda Glover

A mosquito on a finger.
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. They live indoors and outdoors near people.

Last week, health officials from Dallas County, Texas, announced a confirmed case of the Zika virus, a disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. This case involves a patient who had traveled from Venezuela to the United States and later passed on the virus to his wife.  The Center of Disease Control (CDC) confirmed this is the first known case of the virus being acquired in the continental United States. It is also the first confirmed case through sexual transmission.

Currently, there is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika infections. The CDC states that getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water, and taking acetaminophen to relieve pain can help those who are infected. Common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, conjunctivitis, and intense headaches. These symptoms are usually mild lasting up to a week. About 80 percent of people infected with the Zika virus don’t show symptoms at all.  Usually people don’t get sick and rarely die. However, an increasing number of children born to mothers experiencing Zika symptoms have had birth defects. Research on the virus has been extremely limited. With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring Zika a public health emergency, attention on Zika science and research funding have increased, and better diagnostics tests have been created to detect the virus. Continue reading “Zika Virus Epidemic: From Mosquito Bite to an STD”

An Open Letter to a Florida Anti-abortion Activist

By Stephanie Sampson

at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA.
At the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA.

A Florida State Subcommittee heard a testimony from an anti-abortion activist last week that made many Americans cringe. The activist insisted that “white culture” is being destroyed because white women are “outside the home, not having babies.”  The activist was expressing his support for HB 865 which would make abortion completely illegal in Florida except when pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or if two physicians certify in writing that the pregnancy interferes with the treatment of an already life threatening disease

I am here today to address this activist’s testimony. Here is how I feel about your so-called testimony:

Continue reading “An Open Letter to a Florida Anti-abortion Activist”

Debunking Antifeminism

All this talk about feminism gaining popularity, empowering women all across the globe, the advocacy of equality…it sounds great, right? Well, unsurprisingly enough, there are always the select few who don’t jump on board. The notion of antifeminism is becoming more prevalent than I would have ever thought possible. It is paradoxical for a woman to be antifeminist. It is voting Republican when you are for women’s rights, it is a person of color in the Ku Klux Klan, and it is a woman saying she does not value herself enough to fight for equality. As a feminist, I feel obligated to debunk some of the more popular ideas circulating about antifeminism. Continue reading “Debunking Antifeminism”

Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

With the recent talks of states wanting to cut funds for Planned Parenthood, it is necessary that we talk about what the organization provides. Planned Parenthood provides healthcare and sex education services for men and women, and at

Planned Parenthood Logo
Planned Parenthood Logo

some clinics, abortion services. The dialogues of potentially cutting funds for Planned Parenthood created several pro-life and pro-choice campaigns on social media pages like Facebook.

Where do I stand in this debate? I am both pro-life and pro-choice, and believe Planned Parenthood is a great organization. In some cases, a woman may feel that she needs to have an abortion. A woman is also a life and should be able to make that choice. As a society, we must recognize that family planning services are necessary for women and men.

One item society must change is the access to quality birth control. Several people, including teenagers, do not know the kinds of birth control on the market. Schools do not always teach methods to practice safe sex, and some teenagers have unwanted pregnancies. Schools and doctors’ offices need to educate women on birth control methods. If a woman or couple knows they do not want a child, they should use birth control. Birth control is a great way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and some abortions.

In certain areas of the United States, young women do not have access to birth control options and/or abortions. Some end up with unwanted pregnancies because they do not have access to a doctor who would prescribe them birth control or to a store with condoms. Occasionally, birth control methods do not work, and the woman becomes pregnant. Many young women are not able to care for babies and need to be able to seek a safe, legal and sanitary abortion. A co-worker once told me this, “To have a child, you must be ready to give up everything for the child. I had my first one at 16 and was ready, but some aren’t. You have to be ready.” If young girls are ready to become mothers and want to take care of their babies, I

A 220 foot long condom on the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the 2005 World Aids Day. Source: Pablo Flores from Wikipedia
A 220 foot long condom on the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the 2005 World Aids Day.
Source: Pablo Flores from Wikipedia

respect their decision. But options must be available for those who are not ready.

Several women medically must have abortions. In 2012, Savita Halappanavar died from blood poisoning. Her husband said she would have survived if she had had an abortion, but since her baby had a fetal heartbeat, she was not able to do anything because abortion is illegal in Ireland.

One of my friends personally knows a woman in Wisconsin who received an abortion. She became pregnant and doctors diagnosed the fetus with omphalocele at the ultrasound. Doctors concluded the mother would suffer risky childbirth, and the child would die. The mother possibly may have died too. This woman decided to have an abortion. She did not want to suffer through another child’s death. I cannot imagine what it was like to be in her shoes.

In these situations, women need to have access to a safe, legal and sanitary abortion. The mother also is a life that is threatened in the process of pregnancy. The option needs to be available for her.

Many women who have had multiple children need access to a safe, legal and sanitary abortion because their bodies cannot handle childbirth anymore. The play Quilters shows a scene where women send letters to each other and a doctor to learn how to perform an abortion using different teas and herbs. The woman going to receive it does not have resources to care for multiple children, and physically cannot deliver another baby. Safe, legal and sanitary abortions must be accessible for women because the fetus could kill them. The mother is also a life.

Before Roe v. Wade, it was difficult and scary for women to receive abortions. One 74-year-old grandmother tells her story of receiving an abortion in New York. It cost her $250, which is 1959 was a lot of money. She describes in vivid details how the procedure went. She says she was a “good girl, conditioned to protect my reputation in the repressive sexual climate of the 1950s.” She later says she never had a mother-daughter conversation about sex and tells how other women were shamed and died at the abortionist clinic. Reading her story sent chills up my back because women suffered so much. Having access to a safe, legal and sanitary abortion is a must for women.

On xojane.com, one gynecologist chose her specialty so she could provide safe abortion services. Carolyn Payne, MD says she provides abortions because she thinks it is fair to women who did not have the education, tools or resources to prevent pregnancy. She says men hold a supermajority of economic and political power, and policies in this nation do not reflect the needs and interests of women. Having doctors that are passionate about women’s health is important for our society because they can help advocate for women’s health care and access to birth control and safe, legal and sanitary abortions. Planned Parenthood is such an important organization because they provide health care and sex education to women and men. One in five women has used Planned Parenthood for health care. I highly disagree with Sen. Rand Paul R-KY because Planned Parenthood provides way more than abortion services.

Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide family planning and abortion services serve a great purpose in society. They offer sex education to women and men, and make a safe, legal and sanitary abortion available for women.  Women must have the option to access an abortion service. Remember this when voting for any public official.

Why I Chose a Feminist Blog

I’ve never been one to speak up or defend myself when it comes to issues of women’s equality, mainly because my personality is a bit more reserved in public settings. My mind spins through educated rebuttals and facts while my outward appearance is flat or pretending to ignore sexist comments. At the ripe young age of twenty-four, however, I finally feel ready to open myself to the world of feminism and let the world hear my thoughts.

I come from a complex background which has afforded me a rich opportunity for education and growth in various areas. I was raised in a very traditional Mexican household where we went to church every Sunday and prayed at meals and before bedtime. I quickly discovered what it meant to be “ethnic” and liberal in the state of Idaho, where a high majority of our population is white and conservative (I might throw Mormon in there as well, though I haven’t checked local statistics recently enough to feel comfortable in doing so). In retrospect, I’ve toyed with the idea that my differences and inadequacies growing up have a lot to do with my personality as an introvert today, but I suppose that might depend on your stance of nature versus nurture. In any event, I was an outlier which helped me prepare myself as an intellect and focus more of my time on my studies and in music (violin, trumpet, rudimentary snare and other various percussion instruments), where I experienced high levels of success.   Continue reading “Why I Chose a Feminist Blog”