Advocates' Blog
Advocates' Blog
Important Victory for HIV Prevention and Treatment ADvocates
Thursday, 20 June 2013 10:24

by Janine Kossen, Director, Public Policy

BREAKING NEWS: Today, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that the Anti-Prostitution Pledge (or the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath—APLO) is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

As way of background, the APLO is a provision in PEPFAR’s authorizing legislation (our global HIV/AIDS program) which requires NGOs receiving PEPFAR funds to explicitly oppose prostitution and sex trafficking as a condition of receiving those funds. The Court ruled that the government cannot do this because it requires NGOs to adopt the government’s viewpoint in violation of its free speech rights. “The Policy Requirement goes beyond preventing recipients from using private funds in a way that would undermine the federal program. It requires them to pledge allegiance to the Government’s policy of eradicating prostitution.” Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion ruling the policy unconstitutional and was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor.

Standing together for Beatriz and for each other
Monday, 17 June 2013 07:27

 On Tuesday, over 100 activists gathered together in DC\'s Dupont Circle to honor Beatriz and all women who have experienced abortion at a vigil hosted by Advocates for Youth, IpasReligious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), and The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

The vigil began with a prayer from the Rev. Harry Knox, President and CEO of RCRC.  "We are comforted in knowing that justice was finally accomplished and that the life of this blessed woman was spared. We give thanks that you see Beatriz, and other women in similar circumstances, not just in El Salvador but around the world."

Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth, then shared remarks. "For months Beatriz was denied the care that could save her life.  Her story is her own but it is also ours.  We are Beatriz.  We are also the teen in Jackson, Miss., forced to obtain permission from an abusive parent who denies it; the middle-aged mother in El Paso, Tex., with so few resources she can't scrape together enough money to end her pregnancy but can't fathom how she can possibly support another child; the couple in Salt Lake City, Utah, forced to endure a barrage of falsehoods about the "side-effects" of abortion and made to wait three days in a roadside motel before being permitted to return to the clinic for the procedure; the young girl in Lancaster, PA afraid to tell her parents she is pregnant and who instead gives birth in a high school bathroom. We are 1 in 3."

Readers stepped forward to share women's real stories of abortion from the 1 in 3 Campaign.  Each story was different, and each was important to understanding wome's real experiences with abortion.

The vigil closed with remarks from Jessica Gonzales-Rojas, ED, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  Jessica reminded people of the deadly cost of policies like the Hyde amendment and the El Salvador restrictions. Although anti-abortion protestors attempted to disrupt the vigil, activists stood together in solidarity for Beatriz and women like her.  We are 1 in 3!

Watch video of the vigil (program begins at minute 6:30)

Read the Huffington Post editorial by leaders of the vigil

Check out pics of the event

BREAKING: Justice Department will drop attempts to block OTC status for emergency contraception
Tuesday, 11 June 2013 06:48

UPDATE:  On June 20, the FDA announced that it has approved Plan B for sale on shelves without agre or ID requirements.  It is still not clear when the product will actually be available on shelves.


On Monday, June 10, the Justice Department announced it would no longer pursue attempts to block over-the-counter availability for Plan B One-Step and generic one-pill emergency contraceptives.  

The Justice Department invited Teva, the maker of Plan B, to submit an application for over-the-counter status, and said it would approve the application "promptly" (though we do not know when the product will actually move to pharmacy shelves).

This is a great step forward for helping young women prevent teen pregnancy.  Once emergency contraception has been cleared for over-the-counter status, young women of all ages who have experienced contraceptive failure, or been sexually assaulted, can simply buy it from drugstore shelves - without the age and ID restrictions that disproportionately affect young people of color, those who are undocumented, and those of lower socioeconomic status.  

Research has shown that young women can use Plan B safely. Advocates for Youth welcomes the Justice Department's decision to drop the case and take politics out of decisions about health and safety.

We are 1 in 3. We are Beatriz.
Thursday, 06 June 2013 13:13

We have been following closely the story of Beatriz, the El Salvadoran woman who spent two long months on the verge of death while unable to terminate a dangerous pregnancy. Her story has inspired an action in solidarity with Beatriz and all women who need abortion care.

Advocates for Youth, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health will sponsor a vigil in honor of Beatriz. We will gather in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC on Tuesday, June 11 at 11:30 am for prayers and to speak out about the impact of burdensome restrictions on abortion care on women and their families.

Speakers will include ADvocates for Youth's President Deb Hauser; Rev. Harry F. Knox, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; and Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Activists.

Please join us at this action in support of safe, affordable abortion care for women everywhere!

Plan B Update
Thursday, 06 June 2013 06:25

UPDATE:  On Wednesday, June 5, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that generic versions of emergency contraception can be sold on the shelves without I.D. while it considers the government's appeal of Judge Korman's order to sell the brand-name drug Plan B as such. .  


In early May, the Justice Department announced that it would appeal District Court Judge Edward Korman's April decision on emergency contraception being available over the counter with no age restrictions.  Judge Korman was not happy, calling the appeal, among other things, "nonsense," "baloney," and "a charade" - especially since his order had granted the FDA what they asked for in 2011.  Korman followed up his comments on the case by denying the Obama Administration's request that he delay his order making Plan B widely available. He again blasted the Administration, observing, “If a stay is granted, it will allow the bad-faith, politically motivated decision of Secretary Sebelius, who lacks any medical or scientific expertise, to prevail — thus justifiably undermining the public’s confidence in the drug approval process."  

On Monday, May 14, the the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan granted a delay in carrying out the decision at least through May 28, when they will take up the issue.

Remembering Senator Frank Lautenberg
Monday, 03 June 2013 09:53

Today, with the passing of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) we lost a staunch ally and champion for the rights of young people.

Senator Lautenberg dedicated his life to public service and fought tirelessly for health equity. He believed that young people have the right to live healthy lives, which meant providing them with the comprehensive sexual health education they need to make informed, responsible, and healthy decisions. His constant support and co-sponsorship of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act was a testament to that ideal. 

The young people of this country could not have asked for a better champion. Our thoughts are with his family. He will be greatly missed and always remembered as a true advocate for youth. 

A Decade of PEPFAR and Young People: What’s working and what isn’t
Friday, 24 May 2013 12:03

by Janine Kossen, Director of Public Policy

PEPFAR—the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—officially turns ten on May 27th, the date when President George W. Bush signed it into law. It’s a remarkable milestone given that many global health and development programs never make it out of their infancy. With the program now entering its pre-teen years, it’s the perfect time to take stock of its efforts to reach young people in their second decade of life.

Over the past ten years, we have witnessed dramatic scientific advances in the fight against HIV and AIDS, spurring renewed hope that the end of AIDS is in sight. These advances, coupled with the U.S. Government’s Blueprint for Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation and the recently-released Institute of Medicine evaluation of PEPFAR, offer real promise for the way forward.

This promise, however, is in real jeopardy. Several years of level and/or decreased funding threaten the successes PEPFAR has achieved to date. While politicians wrangle over funding and policy decisions in Washington, HIV continues to take its toll on our families, our communities, and our nations, particularly among young people. Despite declines in HIV prevalence among young people in recent years, 15-24 year-olds continue to account for four in ten new infections around the globe. This is simply unacceptable.

50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, Continued!
Tuesday, 21 May 2013 07:21

It’s Week 6 of 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls, a campaign to  demonstrate mass support for policies and programs that will allow women and girls to be healthy, empowered, educated, and safe.

How can you get involved?

  • Follow the conversation at #usa4women and use these sample tweets: 
    • #SecKerry @statedept @usaid Approx. 14 mill. girls are married every year before they turn 18. #endchildmarriage #usa4girls #usa4women
    • #SecKerry @statedept @usaid: Child brides are more vulnerable to #HIV #STI. US foreign policy must address early/forced marriage #usa4girls #endchildmarriage
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