05 Feb

Anyone who has met Kaelin for more than 5 minutes knows my kid is a total weenie.  I can say that because she gets it from me.

If there’s any possibility that trying something new will result in any form of discomfort, whether physical or emotional, she will refuse to attempt it.

Which is why I was shocked beyond belief when she decided out of the blue to get her ears pierced during a recent trip to the mall.

She had asked about it several days prior and I was honest with her and told her that it might hurt for a little while, but usually wasn’t bad and didn’t last more than a few seconds.  She immediately decided that she would never ever get her ears pierced because a lifetime of getting to wear pretty earrings was simply not worth a potential 5 seconds of pain.

As we were walking through the mall to get her hair cut, I teasingly told her that we could get her ears pierced while we were there.  But instead of the reactionary dramatic decline I was expecting, she was actually quite curious about it and wanted to go see how it was done.

So we walked into Icing and there was another little girl there getting her ears pierced – and FREAKING OUT like someone was trying to cut her toes off one at a time.  Screaming, flailing back and forth, covering her ears, the works (why her mother insisted on going through with it is beyond me – she ended up with uneven earrings).

I thought surely that was going to be the end of any hope for Kaelin getting hers done, but after Drama Queen’s piercing was finished, she quit throwing a fit and started smiling.  Apparently Kaelin decided then and there that if this kid could do it, so could she.

She picked out her earrings and sat in my lap.  I convinced her to get them both done at the same time so it would be over with quicker, and before she knew it, it was over.

One second later, she felt a jolt of pain and started crying, but then the employee held up a mirror and showed Kaelin her new ears.  Through her tears, Kaelin started giggling.  “I have earrings!  I actually did it!  I got my ears pierced!”

The pain subsided quickly, but the glee lasted the rest of the day.  She still periodically says to me, “I can’t believe I actually got my ears pierced!”

I’m so proud of her.  It was completely her decision and she followed through with it, even though she knew it might hurt.  She wears her earrings like a trophy and now gives me a hard time about the fact that I wasn’t brave enough to get my ears pierced until I was 12.

I asked her what she would say if she had a friend who was thinking about getting her ears pierced.

“I would say that it hurts a little bit, but you can still do it.  Also, Mama, I’m totally going to trust you the next time you tell me something because you told me I should get them both done at the same time and I’m so glad I did.”

Score.  Mom points.

Of course, now Koren wants to get his ears pierced.


Korenisms: MLK Edition

05 Feb

“Daddo, I have a dream.  Just like Dr. King.”

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Kaelinisms: History Edition

05 Feb

“Kaelin, what’s your favorite sea creature? Something that lives in or around the ocean.”
“Christopher Columbus.”

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Korenisms: Handsome Guys

20 Jan

(Amid a conversation about his friends at school, some of whom are girls)

“Daddo, we like beautiful girls, don’t we.”
“Yes…I suppose we do.”
“But I bet Mama and Kaelin are really glad they get to live with two handsome guys like us.”

Both my children have always sported a rather Gingrichian opinion of themselves.  I’m not sure at this point if it will help or hurt their journey through middle school.  I guess we have a few years before we have to find out.

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Drumming Fingers

17 Jan

The only part of my job that I don’t like (and really, this isn’t specific to MY job, just any job in which the objective is to accomplish something) is when everything on my “TO DO” list is pending some action by another person.  I can remind, I can beg, I can annoy people until they yell at me, but ultimately I cannot force compliance.

There’s this strange dance that takes place when you’re trying to get something from another person.  First, the initial request – which is subsequently ignored.  You’re pretty sure it has been ignored when you haven’t received a response after a few hours, but yet you must to wait the requisite period of 2-3 days, the socially acceptable time period in which action can be taken on a request before it’s considered delinquent.

3 days pass and you haven’t heard anything, so you ask again.  You might get a response this time (“I’m on it”) but you will not get the actual information or commodity you need to obtain.  Since the other party has in fact responded, you must allow an additional waiting time out of common decency – usually another 2-3 days, depending on the urgency of the issue.

By this point, it’s time to poke the person in question again, inquiring whether there’s some holdup that they haven’t bothered to communicate, or if they’re just soft in the head.  If this person is a coworker with which you work closely (or your boss), it’s best to just send another gentle reminder.  If it’s a a vendor or party outside the company, it’s time for the firmer “I HAVE ASKED TWICE ALREADY AND I’M TIRED OF BEING NICE” notice, which informs them exactly how they are holding up your progress.  Copy other people who may be remotely related to the project for good measure, especially if you have a relationship with Person In Question’s supervisor.

You will usually get a response to this urgent request, but it may not be the actual piece of information or file that you need.  Guess what?  More waiting.  (If you receive no response at all within one day, you’re pretty much screwed and should go ahead and give up on getting whatever you need from this person – it ain’t gonna happen.)

By now, the initial request (which should have taken the other party 5 minutes to complete) has gone unanswered for over a week (and God forbid there’s a holiday or long weekend in the middle).  You still have nothing to show for your efforts, and no hope of resolution in the near future.  And you’re still responsible for completing the task assigned to you, which is hanging out on your To Do List with 5,000 underlines and exclamation points drawn around it, as though you somehow believe that EMPHASIZING its importance any more will miraculously CONTRIBUTE TO ITS COMPLETION.

Sometimes being dependent on other people is the biggest pain in the butt.

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35 Charitable Organizations to Consider

13 Dec

Looking to extend a little generosity this season (or any time)?  I’ve heard of several people that plan to donate their Christmas bonus or hope to contribute to something more life-changing than their kids’ toy collection this Christmas, so I thought I’d throw this out there.

Giving to church is easy and always available, but our family prefers to vary our contributions, so I’ve been compiling a list of charitable organizations with good reputations that could benefit by donations – whether monetary or otherwise.

I figured I’d publish my list in case anyone else out there is looking for a worthwhile cause and is unsure where to find it.

We’re (probably) all familiar with Unicef, American Red Cross, World Vision and The Salvation Army, so I didn’t include them in the list.  You may have heard of many others on this list before, but you might find some new ones as well.  There’s a good mix of local, national and international organizations, and many accept forms of contribution other than money if you’re looking for a place to donate goods or time.  Happy giving!

Charity Navigator

This is an incredibly useful site for anyone concerned about whether their chosen charity is reputable.  They analyze charitable organizations independently and score them according to financial health, accountability and transparency.  If you’re doing some research on your own, I highly recommend checking out your charity’s profile and evaluation on this site.  You might learn some interesting information – like how much the CEO makes and how financially stable the organization is.  You have the option to donate to charitable organizations directly from Charity Navigator.  They also have lots of useful information and tips on how to do the most good with your donations.  While you’re there, support them with a few dollars for all the time and energy they’re saving you.

All Stars Project

ASP seeks to enhance the lives of poor and minority young people through extra-curricular performing arts.  It sponsors community and experimental theatre, develops leadership training and pursues volunteer initiatives that build and strengthen communities.

Angel Tree

An Angel Tree Christmas connects incarcerated parents with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts.  Local churches deliver gifts and the Gospel to children in the name of their incarcerated parent. Right now, $12.58 will bring gifts to TWO children (instead of one), thanks to a generous matching grant.

Agros International

This Seattle-based organization enables rural poor families in Central America and Mexico to escape the cycle of poverty by purchasing their own land. Agros extends land loans to purchase farmland and partners with families in applying sustainable agricultural practices.

The Apparent Project

The Apparent Project is a faith-based 501c3 Nonprofit organization responding to the orphan crisis in Haiti through job creation, education, family support, medical care, social development, and housing the homeless. The Apparent Project artisans guild uses discarded materials such as cereal and cracker boxes, oil drums, and trash paper to create beautiful “upcycled” pieces of jewelry, journals, and stylish home decor. While redeeming the Haitian landscape, these artisans are also bringing new hope to their families, employing themselves for a brighter future and earning the means to pay for their children’s food, shelter, andeducation. That means less orphans, less crime, less garbage, less stress, and a whole lot more beauty.

Cards for Causes

When you purchase holiday and all occasion cards and invitations from this site, 20% of every card purchase is donated to the nonprofit cause of your choice.

Children’s Miracle Network

CMN raises funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals (including DFW’s Cook Children’s Hospital) to help sick and injured kids in local communities. Donations to Children’s Miracle Network create miracles by funding medical care, research and education that saves and improves the lives of 17 million children each year.

Communities in Schools

The above link is to the Dallas operation, but they also have a national office.  Communities In Schools was founded to address the growing number of high school dropouts in Dallas and surrounding areas. CIS’s professional staff brings community resources into schools to work in the interest of at-risk children in a coordinated, caring and cost-effective way. Currently, CISDR operates in 61 schools in 10 school districts in Dallas, Collin, Ellis, Hunt, Johnson and Rockwall counties in the field of dropout prevention and the leading provider of the highest quality, most effective services to at-risk schoolchildren.

Compassion International

Founded by Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean war orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training. Today, Compassion helps more than one million children in more than 25 countries.

Direct Relief International

Founded in 1948, Direct Relief International is California’s largest international humanitarian nonprofit organization. Direct Relief provides medical assistance to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty and disaster – at home and throughout the world. Since 2000, Direct Relief has responded to a wide range of urgent and ongoing health emergencies, by providing more than $1.6 billion in essential material resources – medicines, supplies and equipment, including more than $250 million in assistance in the United States

Doctors without Borders

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. Today, MSF provides independent, impartial assistance in more than 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition,exclusion from health care, or natural disasters. In 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize.


Make it personal!  DonorsChoose allows citizen philanthropists to fund specific project requests from teachers in U.S. public schools. You choose a project that moves you, and then you hear back from the classroom with photos and updates. DonorsChoose validates the project request and purchases the resources for the teacher.

Fisher House Foundation

The Fisher House Foundation program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America’s military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Good Search

A free way to give.  Every time you use this search engine, they contribute money to the charity of your choosing.  It’s that simple.

Habitat for Humanity

Since 1986, Dallas Habitat has built over 850 homes and served as a catalyst for the revitalization of 20 communities. Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity provides affordable housing opportunities to families no other nonprofit or private mortgage lender in Dallas is able to serve. Qualified families are required to provide 400 hours of ‘sweat equity’ in lieu of a down payment, which is fulfilled by building their own home and the homes of other Habitat families. This hands-on participation builds new skills, a sense of tremendous accomplishment, and strong relationships with their neighbors.

Heifer International

“Not a cup, but a cow.”  Heifer’s approach to providing global assistance to struggling countries has been characterized by long-term development, rather than short-term relief.  After immediate needs for food, shelter, fresh water, clothing and other necessities have been met, Heifer works within communities to empower disaster survivors with the economic means – such as livestock, training and other resources – to rebuild their families, their neighborhoods and their hope for sustainable futures.

Interfaith Housing Coalition

Interfaith Housing Coalition was founded in 1985 to provide transitional housing and support services to homeless families. Through the years, a broad coalition of individuals, foundations, churches, and service groups have joined the ministry. Initially designed to help families with situational homelessness stabilize and move forward within 90 days, the Interfaith Housing program has evolved to provide an in-depth approach to address the root issues of generational poverty and homelessness with families now staying up to 18 months depending on their specific needs. IHC promotes family stability, teach skills to break the poverty cycle, and building a strong sense of community.

International Justice Mission

Founded in 1997, International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local governments to ensure victim rescue, to prosecute perpetrators and to strengthen the community and civic factors that promote functioning public justice systems.


You can make a donation to help the organization run, or participate in their capital lending program with as little as $25 to help create opportunity and alleviate poverty around the world. Kiva works with microfinance institutions on five continents to provide loans to people without access to traditional banking systems. 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes directly towards funding loans; Kiva does not take a cut.

Locks of Love

Don’t have any extra money?  Donate your hair!  Locks of Love provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. They utilize donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.

MAP International

Founded in 1954, MAP International promotes the total health – physical, economic, social, emotional and spiritual health – of impoverished people in over 115 countries through: provision of essential medicines; promotion of community health development and prevention and mitigation of disease, disaster and other health threats. MAP’s international programs help eliminate the causes of sickness and disease by providing free medicines, improving water supplies and knowledge about health threats like HIV/AIDS and establishing community directed health education and training.

Matthew 25 Ministries

M25M is an international humanitarian relief organization helping the poorest of the poor locally, regionally, nationally and internationally regardless of race, creed or political persuasion. By rescuing and reusing products from major corporations, manufacturers, hospitals and individuals, Matthew 25: Ministries provides basic necessities, skill development and disaster relief across the US and worldwide.

Meals on Wheels

My mom and I used to volunteer occasionally with this group in high school.  Once we delivered a meal to a diabetic lady who was having a low blood sugar episode as we got there and was unable to sit up.  My mom was able to give her some orange juice and get her the medical attention she needed.

The organization provides hot, nourishing meals to elderly and disabled persons who are unable to prepare meals for themselves. The meals, daily contact by caring volunteers and professional case management allow frail, homebound persons to remain in their own homes, where they want to be. Volunteers also deliver blankets, fans, supplemental groceries, medical equipment, microwave ovens, and other items essential to help a client maintain their independence.

Medical Teams International

MTI sends teams of volunteer health professionals to carry out disaster relief, long-term development and community health programs in collaboration with local partners. They also ship millions in humanitarian aid to more than 70 countries each year.


Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided $1.7 billion in assistance to people in 107 nations. Mercy Corps provides immediate, sustaining humanitarian assistance, always with the goal of hastening recovery. As the most urgent needs are met, they move toward programming that pursues longer-term stability and prosperity.

The Miracle Foundation

Founded in 2000, The Miracle Foundation is making a significant impact on the lives of orphaned children in India by raising the standard of living for the children in orphanages and reducing the number of non-orphaned children living in orphanages. The Miracle Foundation renovates existing orphanages, builds new ones, raises money for construction and finds sponsors for our children. In India, our money goes a long way towards healthy food, tuition, better living conditions, clothing, and medical care. The Miracle Foundation currently operates four Children’s Homes and one home for unwed mothers.

Operation USO Care Package

A $25 donation sponsors one USO care package and allows you to include a personal message of support and appreciation to our troops. The program also takes care of families by providing a Military Family Care Package. This Care Package is the USO’s latest way of connecting families separated by deployments. They are packages that deploying troops can have sent to their families once their deployment begins, as a way of letting their family members know they are thinking of them.

Samaritan’s Purse

Operation Christmas Child is coming to a close this week, but you can donate to the parent organization at any point during the year.  Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. Emergency relief meets desperate needs of victims worldwide. Operation Christmas Child delivers more than 8 million shoebox gifts to poor children in more than 100 countries each year. World Medical Mission sends doctors, equipment, and supplies to underprivileged countries. Community development and vocational programs in impoverished villages and neighborhoods help people break the cycle of poverty and give them hope for a better tomorrow. Vulnerable children are rescued, educated, fed, clothed, and sheltered, letting them know that God loves them, Jesus died and rose again for them, and they are not forgotten.

Save the Children

Save the Children, founded in 1932, is the leading independent organization creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Save the Children’s programs focus on economic opportunities, education, emergencies, protection, health, hunger and malnutrition, and U.S. literacy and nutrition.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (via ALSAC)

ALSAC (American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities) was founded in 1957 and exists for the sole purpose of raising funds to support the operating and maintenance of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. It is supported primarily by donations raised by ALSAC.  No child is ever turned away from St. Jude’s because of the family’s inability to pay.

SunErgos International

Founded by a friend we attended college with, SunErgos International works to better the lives of abandoned, abused and orphaned children in the Russia. They host international teams who work in orphanages, street centers, organize summer camps and give emotional, spiritual and material support to the children.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (the only Scottish Rite hospital in the world) is a world leader in the treatment of pediatric orthopedic conditions and provides exceptional care to thousands of Texas children every year. TSRHC is not a United Way agency and does not receive state or federal funding. The hospital relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations to continue its mission.  They accept donations in form of money, as well as toys, books or games for the children.

The Water Project 

This organization brings relief to communities around the world who suffer from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation. Using local labor and management, and donated funds, The Water Project digs wells, builds small dams, collects rain-water in large tanks, and filters dirty water with Biosand water filtration systems.  It costs about $5,000 to complete a well, which can make the difference of survival in a community.

WFAA Santa’s Helper

Want to make a difference in a DFW child’s Christmas?  WFAA distributes toys to children who might not otherwise get a Christmas gift.  The WFAA Santa’s Helpers toy drive hopes to collect enough toys for 50,000 North Texas children in need.  But due in part to the economy this year, less toys have been donated than usual, so they are still in need of more donations.  Toys can be dropped off at Chick Fil A and Tom Thumb locations city-wide, and you can also make monetary donations online.

Wounded Warrior Project

Your donation to WWP helps thousands of Wounded Warriors – and their families – as they return home from the current conflicts. Donation options include one-time gifts, the Advance Guard Monthly Giving Program, and more.  WWP programs are free to those who have incurred service-connected wounds, injuries or illnesses.  Each program is uniquely structured to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement.


PS – Feel free to add to this list in the comments.

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Posted in Such is Life


Christmas Songs: Good, Bad and Ugly

11 Dec

I’ve been listening to Christmas music since they started playing it on the radio, and once again I have been forced to come to the sad realization that there are, in fact,  A LOT of really bad Christmas songs.  A small sampling:

Jingle Bells by the Singing Dogs.  You want to make a horrible YouTube video with this song and email it out to all your friends?  Fine.  But PLEASE for the love of Mother Butler pies, DON’T put it on the radio.  If I wanted to hear a bunch of dogs barking at me while I’m in my car, I’d drive up and down our alley behind the garbage truck.

Christmas Time is Here Again has to be the single worst thing the Beatles have ever been responsible for.  I hardly even classify it as a song.

Baby it’s Cold Outside is an ok song, but I get a little queasy when I hear Nora Roberts sing it with Willie Nelson.  I cannot get past the fact that he’s old enough to be her grandfather, no matter how good they may sound vocally.  Ewwwy goobers.

Last Christmas – this song is everywhere.  Am I the only one who has absolutely ZERO sympathy for Wham or Ashley Tisdale or Taylor Swift or George Michael or any the other 6400 people that sing this shallow song?

Merry Christmas Darling – this song only bugs me because “I wish I were with you” SHOULD be grammatically incorrect.  I mean, you don’t say “I were at the grocery store yesterday.”  The English language is weird and it hurts my ears every time I hear it.

Dominick the Donkey – I don’t even know why this song exists.

There are probably more, but those are the ones that come to mind.  On the flip side, here are some of my favorites:

Oh Holy Night

This is probably the best version of this song I’ve ever heard.

The 12 Days of Christmas

These guys have fun with the inherent ridiculousness of this song.  If you’re not familiar with Straight No Chaser… you should be.

Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel

I couldn’t find the version of this song I really wanted but this one’s not bad.

What are your favorite (or least favorite) Christmas songs?


Obama’s Plan B Controversy

09 Dec

Yesterday, I participated in an interesting online discussion on Facebook.  The Obama administration decided not to raise restrictions on Plan B (emergency contraceptive, which I have written about before) to make it available to minors without a prescription.  This is generating a lot of static from certain groups.

A friend posted a link to this article from the Washington Post and subsequently a conversation developed over the outrage of requiring a prescription for emergency contraception for girls under 17.

I decided to continue the topic here rather than further hijack my friend’s Facebook page.  For reference, here are the applicable pieces of the conversation:

ME: I don’t understand the controversy about this. Plan B is just like any other birth control pill, except it’s a more concentrated dose. So why would they make THAT available to anyone, when you have to have a prescription to get any other kind of oral contraceptive?

N: I thought about that too Amy, but I came to the conclusion that it must have to do with the effects of long-term use rather than short term use.

ME: But if Plan B were available over the counter, I have no doubt that a lot of people would use it on a consistent basis, long term (based on conversations my friend the Pharmacist has with her customers), which seems like it would be even more potentially dangerous than normal long-term birth control. So it still seems like access to it should be limited just like regular birth control.

S: Amy, I doubt that would make economic sense: a regular bc prescription is almost certainly cheaper than Plan B every time you have sex. In which case, it does make sense that it’s available without a prescription, both because of the time window in which it needs to be taken, and because the prescription for regular bc, as I understand it, is to make people aware of the potential health risks of long-term, continued usage.

N: Perhaps it could be restricted like sudafed or other drugs that can be used inappropriately but don’t need a prescription.

L: You’re ignoring the political benefits of banning this pill. Mis/Underinformed parents who don’t want their children to be able to do anything that they do not understand will find this comforting. Republicans cannot out-right this move (since there’s nowhere else to go from “no”), and they certainly won’t move left. And of course, children don’t vote. The future is never a priority in election cycles, for if it were, deficit spending, the environment, and education would be actual issues, instead of defense and present-tense economics. At no point in time was the science of this considered by the gov’t; the scientific process was already done, reviewed, discussed, and recommended. The political process then occurred.

ME: I guess I still don’t understand why it’s such a big deal. You can get it without a prescription if you’re 17. So the only people affected by this decision are children – who can still get it through any adult over the counter, or a doctor via prescription. So this falls into the same class as cold and allergy drugs, spray paint, lottery tickets, getting a tattoo, buying things from infomercials or getting married. I don’t hear anybody complaining about any of those things. And this is directly connected to health and wellbeing, even if it’s deemed “safe” by science. So in what scenario should a child who needs adult intervention to get a tattoo NOT need to involve an adult to use birth control?

P: Wow, I go off to have student conferences, and come back to a big discussion.

Amy: you *can’t* get Plan B without a prescription if you’re under 17 — that’s the ruling that’s being reversed. And I have a problem with that specifically because Plan B is an important emergency form of birth control, and there are numerous unpleasant situations where teens might need it, but might *not* have had the opportunity to get non-emergency birth control in advance.

If anything, making Plan B available without a prescription is *less* risky than the alternative, because it lessens the possibility that a young woman would try to recreate its effects by taking a large number of birth control pills at once — which *has* been shown to be dangerous.

ME: All a 16 year old kid needs is an adult to buy it for her – that’s what I meant by without a prescription. Just like I can buy cough medicine for my kid, I can buy Plan B for her too. It doesn’t appear that that’s being reversed. Plus, I suspect that any kid that has access to large amounts of birth control pills is also likely to have access to Plan B if needed.

P: Right — but if the adult in question is the abuser, or the spouse of the abuser; or if the kid was raped, and fears that the parents would blame her for being raped — where does that 16yo go for help? (I wish that weren’t necessary — I really do — but to keep Plan B prescription-regulated is to suggest that kids in these situations are “not capable of understanding its use” — but are somehow *more* capable of actually bearing children.

I can’t get behind that.

ME: This is a sticky area. Relaxing restrictions on Plan B would not have helped Jaycee Dugard. So you’re really only talking about kids that are 1) sexually abused by parents or guardians who would rather have the child publicly carry a baby to full term than any of the alternatives, and 2) still allowed enough freedom to go to a store unsupervised, and have enough cash to purchase something as expensive as Plan B. In which case, there are still problematic health issues. Because incest rape is never a one-time thing. So these kids are going to be needing the Plan B again and again and again and again – all the while not getting the help they REALLY need.

R: No, they’ll just be forced to get surgical abortions when their abusers realize they’re pregnant.

Anyway, hypothetical abuse scenarios aside, one known effect of restricting Plan B in this way is that, like cough syrup, it means that pharmacies have to control access to it, and that affects women over 17, not just young teens. Given the way that pharmacists in conservative areas have been refusing to give women prescription birth control, I don’t trust them to honestly deal with women who want to just walk in and buy Plan B without getting hasselled or being told that they are “out.”

J: I read this whole thing. Thanks for all the great info. For the record, I’m also against rape and incest and human selective breeding, and this product (and abortion) does far more to promote than prevent those things. I wouldn’t have even thought of it if P hadn’t mentioned it, but wouldn’t an abuser be the one to go out and buy this to cover up their crime, or perhaps the victim would go out and get it to hide the crime and so free herself to being abused again? I can’t support that at all.

R: J, you’re assuming that allowing teens access to this pill would create that scenario – but it already exists; given that the pill is available to adults, there’s nothing to stop them from obtaining it already… or, as I said, forcing an underage girl to have a surgical abortion. Making Plan B off-limits to teens doesn’t solve that problem – which is abusive adults hiding the results of their abuse through force – and, moreover, does deprive those abused teens of a relatively easy way to control their own bodies (something otherwise denied them).

What it will do is enable teens – including those in consensual relationships (the far more typical scenario) to avoid becoming pregnant if a condom breaks or they have unprotected sex.

I have to say, I’m rather disturbed that hypothetical scenarios about adults controlling teen-agers’ bodies are being used to deny teen-agers the tools they need to control their own bodies.

ME: ‎”What it will do is enable teens – including those in consensual relationships (the far more typical scenario) to avoid becoming pregnant if a condom breaks or they have unprotected sex.”

This is true – but I don’t understand why it’s so important for these same teens to have access to this pill without any adult involvement. They can control their own bodies by not having sex to begin with if they’re not ready to deal with the natural consequences. But oral birth control reaches into the medical realm and in every other medical scenario that exists, adults are involved in the treatment and care of children.

R: But the science shows it WON’T be a problem. That’s the point. They investigated it, studied the likely complications and usage problems, and concluded that it was safe to release it to a larger population, including minors… but were overruled for no more reason than “ew, icky.”

There are a lot of medications that minors can buy – such as pain killers, or vitamins, for example – that can potentially do a lot of damage, but they’re not restricted because the science doesn’t support a more stringent set of restrictions. The same applies here: worst case scenarios aside (and they will exist for _everything_ – even water can kill you if you drink too much) the people who make a living weighing the risks of such products have concluded it’s safe for the vast majority to have access to this medicine, even minors.

If the Obama administration wants to justify the restriction they need to provide more than just “ew, icky,” and they haven’t.

I have to say, I’m reminded of the shitstorm over Jocelyn Elders suggesting masturbation as an alternative to teen-age sex. Teens have sexual urges, like any physically mature human. Expecting them to pretend they don’t simply because it makes adults uncomfortable to contemplate it is unfair to them.

In other words, they need access to these pills _because_ their sexuality makes judgmental adults uncomfortable… but, really, it’s not the adults who have to live with the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy. Making it hard to prevent such pregnancies won’t stop teens from having sex – the evidence is amply clear on that point. All it will do is increase the numbers of teen-aged women who have to decide between an abortion or carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term.

P: What R said. And J, I know you mean well — but if a teen is worried about being pregnant, whether the circumstances are consensual or non, I would rather that she have maximum ability to control that possibility of pregnancy, rather than less. If you want to look at this in terms of abortions, then I would rather have teens have the possibility to insure that no pregnancy will occur even before the sperm and egg have contact.

A couple of side notes before I continue:

  • This is, one of very few political conversations of this nature I’ve ever had that remained amicable and peaceful for that long.  And for that, I thank the participants for their maturity.  Most of the time, discussions like this turn sour when somebody gets offended that their thoughts are being questioned, and then the conversation degrades to petty cheap shots – at which point I abandon the discussion and move on.
  • Written discussions are difficult for me because rather than a clear linear progression, they too easily start to look like a very old tree, with each branch sprouting more and more branches.  This tends to happen because each time someone contributes, they make multiple points – and while it is very tempting to try to address each of those points, it usually only serves to muddle the issue, which then digresses into other petty things.  So I have tried my best during this discussion to weed out a lot of the peripheral points and stick to the real issues that people were raising.  In keeping with that attempted focus, I’m going to narrow down all possible responses to the following two points:

Thing, the First

The science doesn’t necessarily show that it won’t be a problem.  The OTC acceptance was rejected for a very specific reason, more concrete than ew, icky:

In a statement and separate letter to Hamburg, Sebelius said she reversed the FDA’s decision because she had concluded that data submitted by the drug’s maker did not “conclusively establish” that Plan B could be used safely by the youngest girls.

Thing, the Second

Since the beginning of the discussion, I’ve been attempting to uncover the exact concrete demographic that is so negatively affected by this policy decision, and on whose behalf everyone else is so outraged.  Because clearly, it ISN’T:

  • Anyone over 16 (who can get the birth control by themselves already)
  • Anyone 16 or under who has a parent (or friend) 17 or older that would obtain the medication for them
  • Anyone 16 or under who sees a doctor and can therefore get a prescription
  • Child rape or incest victims (which is always the first hypothetical thrown out there, assumedly because it’s an extreme case with clear unarguable victims…yet it seems to fall flat or be abandoned when really examined)
  • Kids whose parents allow them to take oral contraceptives (and therefore wouldn’t need the less effective emergency contraception)
  • Kids whose parents do not allow them to take regular oral contraceptives, but who are aware they are having sex (so the kids would likely be able to obtain one-time contraceptives when the alternative is an increased risk of pregnancy)

So who’s left that would find it advantageous to avoid involving an adult in healthcare decisions affected by their sex life?  And after circling around a couple of times, I think the final statements of this Facebook conversation clear that up more directly.

The root of the backlash seems to be the ideology that a 15 year old kid should be able to have consensual sex against his/her parents’ wishes and keep it a secret from them.  Or, at least, 15 year old kids ARE GOING to have sex against their parents’ wishes and so they should be able to try to prevent the ramifications of such a decision without involving any adults.

If this is the real reason behind making Plan B available to minors without any adult involvement, then I simply cannot support that with any fiber of my being.

Kids’ sexuality is not what makes parents uncomfortable.  What makes parents uncomfortable (whether religious or not) is the NATURAL CONSEQUENCES of acting upon sexual urges.  And they are many.  Sex may be common, natural, innate – but it’s still a BIG DEAL.  It’s not like getting a headache, for which a minor can obtain Advil without a prescription.  There are physical and emotional consequences to sex, beyond pregnancy – for both genders but particularly girls.  And parents should not be blindsided by these consequences, or made unaware that they are a possibility, out of fear that they might be “judgmental.”  Kids who are clearly not ready to handle the effects of sex should not be left to their own devices to deal muddle through these consequences without adult guidance or supervision.  Say what you want about their “cognitive abilities” – they’re still KIDS.

“but, really, it’s not the adults who have to live with the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.”

This is emphatically untrue.  Remember, we’re not talking about juniors and seniors about to embark on adulthood.  We’re talking about kids.  An unwanted pregnancy has a MAJOR effect on the lives of parents too – a new family member, childcare, a teen (or possibly pre-teen) that will be unable to finish school or move out when she turns 18 because there’s a baby to take care of.  Why should parents be kept in the dark about that possibility?

If my 15 year old is having sex, then there IS a possibility that she’s going to get pregnant (among other things), whether or not she has access to Plan B.

Fact:  Outside of abstinence, there is no such thing as a 100% effective form of birth control.  Those who take Plan B still have a 1 in 40 chance of getting pregnant.

If my 15 year old is making a choice that could change the rest of her life and mine, then I sure as hell have the right to know about it.  And if the medication is indeed safe for use without any worry of young kids “doing it wrong,” then that’s all the prescription does – it requires some kind of adult involvement so that some adult SOMEWHERE is aware that the kid is having sex and could suffer any number of health-related consequences.  And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

But what about the science???

It’s probably safe, when used occasionally as directed.  But not for sure (see Thing, the First).  It probably doesn’t dislodge an already fertilized egg, causing what some would term an abortion, but again they admittedly still don’t know for sure.

But even if it’s totally medically safe under normal usage, that in and of itself is not a trump justification for making it freely available to kids.  See also: tattoos, lottery tickets, prescription shampoos, credit cards, consensual sex with an adult, gym memberships, and every other form of oral contraceptive.

But what about all those poor Catholic kids…

whose parents would never let them take any kind of birth control and who don’t have any friends old enough to get it for them?

So what do you do if you really want a tattoo (everyone else is getting one!) but your parents are big believers in Leviticus 19:28?  You wait until you’re of legal age when the choice is yours to make.

Look, no one is asking kids to pretend they don’t have sexual urges.  But it isn’t too much to ask them to control those urges – in the same way we ask them to control the urge to sleep in and miss all their high school classes every day.  Kids are notorious for making stupid decisions, it’s part of growing up.  But they are not animals.  They are certainly capable of controlling their bodies and it is not unreasonable for us to teach and expect them to do so.  (Consensual) sex is a choice.  It doesn’t just happen to you.

But what about all those poor Catholic kids whose parents would never let them take any kind of birth control and who don’t have any friends old enough to get it for them and who are just gonna do it anyway?  Shouldn’t we reverse the prescription requirement for them???

Let’s weigh the choices.  Doing so would come at the expense of allowing kids (KIDS.) of a very young age to engage in sexual activity with many obvious and unhealthy consequences including but not limited to the VERY REAL RISK of getting pregnant (pill or no pill), likely under the faulty assumption that they can just take the Morning After Pill to prevent pregnancy – AND all without any parental or adult knowledge whatsoever.

And that is my sticking point – the fact that the ONLY purpose of relaxing the prescription requirement is to exclude adults from this particular (and hugely important) piece of adolescent healthcare.  I can’t find any other benefit.

As a parent (and someone who identifies with both liberals and conservatives on various issues) when I weigh those two options, I can not support the repeal of the current prescription requirement.

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