Advocates' Blog
Advocates' Blog
Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics to Stay Open
Wednesday, 15 October 2014 06:35

The Supreme Court has declared that the abortion clinics in Texas impacted by the state's highly restrictive abortion law will be able to stay open while the case is decided in the court system.

The law meant that 80 percent of the state's abortion clinics would have to close. The clinics still have to face a lengthy court battle. But had the law been allowed to stay in effect for the many months it could take to decide the case, they might lose their building leases and licenses, and have had to stay closed permanently. Today's decision is a victory for the women of Texas.

Read a great analysis of the case so far.

It’s Up to the Courts to Block Alabama’s Extreme Parental Involvement Law Print
Thursday, 09 October 2014 06:18

by Abbey Marr, Reproductive Justice Fellow

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Alabama on behalf of one of its only abortion clinics to block a new parental involvement law that could put some young people on trial simply for seeking abortion care. Alabama’s restriction is one of the worst laws in a huge, nasty pile of laws passed by state legislatures to put obstacles in the way of people – particularly poor people, people of color, and young people – who are seeking abortions.

Parental involvement laws require that when people under eighteen seek abortion care, they notify or get consent from one or both parents first. Most young people seeking abortions do involve their parents, but there are a variety of reasons that is not always possible. In fact, one study found that thirty percent of pregnant teens who do not tell their parents about their abortions make that decision because they fear violence or being kicked out of their homes. Young people who are not threatened with abuse in their homes may be afraid to let their families down or uncomfortable involving their parents. Yet, under these laws in order to get around the parental involvement requirement a person has to file an petition to the court for a “judicial bypass” saying that the person is mature enough to make the decision to get an abortion – petitions judges can and do reject. Parental involvement laws delay access to abortion, endanger health and safety, and fundamentally disrespect young people’s ability to make their own decisions. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld just such a law in the early 1990s, and 38 states have adopted them. Alabama has required people under 18 to get the signature of one parent or legal guardian since 1987.

This past year, however, Alabama passed a new law that is unimaginably worse. As the ACLU wrote in its brief to the court, the law “radically alters the judicial bypass process in a wholly unprecedented manner that goes well beyond any judicial bypass statute that has ever been upheld by a federal court.” Now, when a person under 18 petitions for a judicial bypass, the District Attorney is automatically notified, and the court may appoint an advocate for the fetus (Yes, you read that right!). Further, if the person’s parents know of the bypass proceeding already, the court must allow them to participate. The District Attorney, fetus, and parents may call any witnesses they want to testify against the person’s petition – including witnesses who may be the very reason the person has chosen to ask for a judicial bypass in the first place, such as an abusive partner or family member. With this law, Alabama is literally putting young people who need abortion care on trial.

It is best for young people who find themselves pregnant to be able to seek the advice of a trained medical professional rather than face the situation alone and afraid. Further, young people should have the same right to access the full range of reproductive and sexual health services that other people have. That right includes the ability to access reproductive and sexual health services confidentially and with dignity. It does not include being put on trial to get the services they need. The Alabama legislature seems to have forgotten this, but hopefully the courts have not.

This blog is cross-posted at Law Students for Reproductive Justice’s

What a year!
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 08:08

Thank you. Because of your support, we are creating a world where all young people have the right to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Take just 60 seconds to glance through our annual report, find an image that speaks to you, and celebrate what we have accomplished together.

Supporters like you help us respond on a moment’s notice when young people’s rights, dignity, and access to lifesaving sexual health information and services are under attack.

Thank you for helping to make our efforts possible.


Be Bold! Take a Stand Against Hyde
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 11:16

No person should have their pregnancy options limited because they cannot afford to have an abortion. We have not fully secured abortion rights until everyone has access to safe, affordable abortion care.

That’s why we are part of All* Above All, a coalition of organizations committed to restoring public funding for abortion care.

Sign the All* Above All Declaration in support of repealing the Hyde Amendment.

Thirty-eight years ago this week, the Hyde Amendment was passed for the first time, barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion care. Every year, politicians in Congress renew the amendment and deny abortion coverage for individuals who get their insurance or health care through the federal government. Enough is enough!

American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Contraception Recommendations
Monday, 29 September 2014 06:38


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently announced that it has updated its recommendations regarding contraception and adolescents.  The AAP now joins the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) in including long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARCs), such as the IUD and contraceptive implant, among birth control methods recommended for young people who are sexually active and wish to prevent pregnancy, and in urging pediatricians to discuss these methods with their patients.  "Pediatricians should not rely on abstinence counseling alone, but should additionally provide comprehensive sexual health information to all adolescents," according to the AAP's new policy.

IUDs and contraceptive implants provide very effective protection from pregnancy - less than 1% of women using these methods experience pregnancy.  In fact, any method of contraception is vastly more effective than no method of contraception; 85% of those who use no method become pregnant within a year.  It's important to note that IUDs, implants, and also hormonal methods like injectables and the pill do not offer protection from sexually transmitted infections and HIV; they must be used in combination with condoms to prevent HIV and STI transmission.

Check out Advocates' fact sheet on LARCS: Young Women and Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

And our guide for youth-serving professionals, educators, and health care providers:  Providing LARCs to Young Women



Urban Retreat 2014 Print
Thursday, 18 September 2014 00:00

Deb Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth

Can’t believe #Urban Retreat14 is coming to an end!!! Going back to UMaine with so much motivation, inspiration and love in my heart!

-          Tweet from Lucy, Urban Retreat participant, Sept 15, 2014

What more is there to say?  Each and every Urban Retreat leaves us even more inspired and more motivated than the year before!  This year 140 amazing youth activists from more than 30 states and four countries joined us in Washington DC for this five-day, intensive youth leadership institute.

From Mario, who helped flip sex education policy in Broward County, Florida (the 6th largest school district in the country), to Kirin who spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court about what young people could lose in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, to B.K. who eloquently shared how she navigates the intersection of her identities as queer, black and undocumented -- with your support, young people like these on the frontlines shared their stories and received specialized training and assistance to continue advocating for positive sexual health policies and programs in their communities in the year ahead. In their own words on Twitter (#UrbanRetreat14):


Highlights from this year include:

  • A pre-conference to hone the media skills of some of our most fantastic activists;
  • The first live reading of Advocates’ new play Out of Silence, Stories Inspired by the 1 in 3 Campaign;
  • Thought provoking youth-led workshops such as: Addressing Sexual Assault on Your Campus:  Advocacy, Title IX and Transformative Justice; Fighting the Good Fight: Assimilation, Intersectionality and Radical Politics;  Queering Reproductive Justice: Overlapping in the Margins; and Burnout in Social Justice Work:  Why it Happens and How to Deal with It;
  • Skill building training including Social Media Analytics Demystified; the Story of Self; Thinking Like a Fundraiser; Speaking for/Speaking with: Power, Oppression and Privilege and How to Apply Their Awareness to Advocacy and Organizing;
  • A well-appreciated visit from the All Above All Campaign Road Trip;
  • The launch of Advocates’ Alumni Network, attended by more than 50 former and current staff, activists and board members; and
  • A rocking session with SisterSong’s inspirational Monica Simpson who brought the house down with her passionate speech, her amazingly melodic songs and her appeal to be great.


On the last day of the Urban Retreat, activists headed to Capitol Hill to educate policymakers about the importance of real, comprehensive sex education and the need to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule and to hold them accountable.  Advocates coordinated 95 Congressional visits asking Members of Congress to cosponsor the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act and the Global Democracy Promotion Act. Youth activists met with Health and Education Legislative Assistants and youth from Alabama had the opportunity to meet with Senator Sessions.


  • Congressman Palazzo’s (R-AL) office shared: “I met this morning with our constituents, and I just wanted to drop you a quick note letting you know how refined and articulate each was.  Please pass along to them that they impressed me with their openness about their personal experiences and feelings, while still remaining professional.”
  • Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) signed on as a new co-sponsor to the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act the day after youth activists visited with his office. Other new co-sponsors as a result of meetings with youth activists include Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM) bringing the bill to 65 sponsors in the House.


With many tearful hugs and promises to stay in touch, these fantastic youth activists returned to their communities reenergized to advocate for change. 

So I was the youngest kid at the Urban Retreat this year and I just want it to be known this was the best time of my life. Being an open lesbian in the state of Ohio is not the easiest but going to DC and talking about myself was easy. Falling in love with my surroundings and making forever family in my council and with others was a mind-bending experience I will never forget. I don’t cry cause I am not a wimp but I cried at the thought I may never be in such a amazing situation with the same group of people again. I pray and hope with everything I have to return next year as a second year Urban Retreater and make new memories. Much love goes out to everyone from Advocates and I can’t wait for the following months and years to come. – Adalia, 15 years old, Ohio


We are certain that they will be successful as they hone their skills, stand up for their rights and mobilize for change.

Thank you again for your commitment and support of Advocates’ work. We hope you are as proud as we are of this year’s Urban Retreat attendees and the diverse, vibrant network of activists it has created!




PS:  Activists are already taking the messages and skills they learned at the Urban Retreat to heart.  Check out this blog from Kirin and Brianna.

We call on the Obama Administration to Allow U.S. Foreign Assistance for Safe Abortion Services
Monday, 08 September 2014 12:10

Advocates for Youth joins a coalition of leading domestic and global organizations spanning women’s rights, health, human rights, reproductive justice, young people, the LGBT community, faith, and development are calling for an end to the incorrect implementation of the Helms Amendment in order to save women’s lives and protect their wellbeing.

The Helms Amendment prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds “to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning.” For more than 40 years, the law has been incorrectly implemented as a complete ban on all abortion-related services. We urge swift action to allow support for abortion care for women who have been raped, who are victims of incest, or who face a life-endangering pregnancy in countries where those services are legally available.

We must eliminate the Helms amendment altogether. But until that happens, the very least we should do is eliminate confusion and properly implement the amendment.

Read the letter here


Youth ShowOUT!
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 06:50


Advocates for Youth (Advocates), Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), and Planned Parenthood Generation (PPGen), a project of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, are joining forces for an exciting new national civic engagement campaign — the 2014 Youth ShowOUT! The campaign will engage and mobilize young voters across the country through on the ground organizing, social media activism, and online actions at

In 2014, young voters will do more than just turn out–they will ShowOUT! Youth leaders are educating their peers, registering voters, participating in voter pledge drives, volunteering, and more. Young people are at the helm of lasting change in our country. They are taking charge and becoming a part of the political process.

Young people are an essential component of the rising electorate. Every day, nearly 12,000 young people turn 18 years old and become eligible to vote. At Advocates for Youth we know firsthand the power of young people is undeniable. There are tens of thousands of youth activists and leaders who are actively reshaping their communities and changing what politics looks like in this country. We have a responsibility to work alongside these young people as they lead us to new solutions and lasting change.

Visit Youth ShowOUT, sign the pledge, and share with friends!


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