A new public health education initiative, Community Conversations, invites members of the community to CHOICES for informal presentations on a variety of reproductive health topics. These casual sessions give our guests the chance to learn from clinicians and from one another, and provide an opportunity to explore topics that are rarely discussed at length in a clinical environment. The May 16th session will focus on HPV.
Dozens of local agencies, organizations and programs have been working collaboratively for more than three years to help reduce Memphis’ teen pregnancy rate, and advocate for support for parenting teens. Known as Memphis Teen Vision (MemTV) the group meets monthly to share information on programs and resources, and to develop a coordinated community response to the high rate of teen pregnancies in Memphis and Shelby County. A working group of the Shelby County Early Success Coalition, MemTV was awarded funds last year by the National Institute for Reproductive Health that resulted in a local listing of medical clinics and practices that offer reproductive health and prenatal care to teens. Their unique website also includes resources for teen parents, advice for parents of teens, and links to sites where teens can get honest, thorough information on sexual topics, preventing pregnancy, and staying healthy. For more information, check out their website.
CHOICES joins the MidSouth AIDS Fund (MAF), Healthy & Free Tennessee, the Red Door Foundation, SisterReach, and Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region in urging the University of Tennessee, Knoxville administration to reinstate funds for sexual health and justice initiatives. On March 20th, UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and President Joe DiPietro announced that $11,145 of previously committed state funds will be withdrawn from the student-run organization, Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (SEAT).
This announcement came after UTK officials succumbed to pressure from Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville and Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville to defund SEAT programming or face an inquiry by the Senate Education Committee. SEAT is hosting the first annual Sex Week at UTK from April 7-12, with events designed to address comprehensive issues surrounding gender, sex, and sexuality. This week-long event will foster ongoing, open, and productive dialogue and will add to the value of student life and the co-curricular education at UTK. The week-long event will be composed of a variety of activities focusing on education, including basic tabling, free HIV testing, a sexual assault prevention workshop, seminars, keynote speakers, and a film series.
Our organizations believe is imprudent to discourage education-based programs that are designed to encourage responsible decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health, and promote constructive dialogue about issues of gender, sex, and sexuality. This imprudence by university officials is especially troubling when it affects a state that has some of the most appalling STD and teen pregnancy rates in the country; a state where LGBT students report levels of verbal abuse higher than the national average.
To support UT Sex Week directly go to: http://sexweekut.org/
Choices has been working with partners across Tennessee to build a new statewide coalition of progressive agencies, organizations, networks and individuals committed to promoting sexual health and protecting reproductive freedom.
The goal of “Healthy & Free Tennessee” is to harness grassroots support for statewide policies that promote sexual health and protect reproductive rights and justice for all Tennesseans.
This kind of policy advocacy and coalition-building will be crucial to successfully opposing the proposed constitutional amendment scheduled to be on the ballot in 2014 that seeks to weaken our right to privacy and threaten our access to comprehensive reproductive health care.
For more information, or to get involved in this new initiative, sign up here.
Sen. Jim Tracy/ Rep. Rick Womick have introduced a bill (SB632 / HB984) which would mandate a trans-abdominal ultrasound prior to every abortion in TN, mandate that the woman look at the image or if she chooses not to that she be forced to listen to a description of the image and the heartbeat if there is one, and mandates a 24-72 hour waiting period between the ultrasound and the procedure.
CHOICES believes that:
- Mandatory ultrasounds place undue burdens on women seeking legal and safe abortion care. In addition, this bill’s 24-hour waiting period is particularly burdensome and costly for women who have to travel far distances to the clinic or who may have child care, job or school responsibilities. Women deliberate in their own time and pace without needing the government imposing a waiting period on them.
- Health care decisions are best made by individuals and their medical providers. We don’t need politicians playing doctor and legislating medical decisions
- Making a woman either view an ultrasound or listen to a description of one and listen to a fetal heartbeat is a clear effort to bully, punish and shame women. Women understand what it means to be pregnant and don’t need their government forcing them to view or listen to these images and sounds to understand what pregnancy means.
- The Tennessee state government does not need to interfere in our state constitutionally protected right to make private reproductive decisions regarding whether to bear or not to bear children. Women and their families make these decisions based on their own financial, emotional and physical abilities to raise and take care of their children.
- Rather than violating women’s privacy, the Tennessee General Assembly should focus its energy on laws that help women reduce the unintended pregnancy rate and empower women and their families to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves with the unbiased and nonpolitical support of their doctors.
- Politicians need to keep their own personal agendas and religious beliefs out of legislation and honor and uphold Tennessee citizens’ religious and conscious beliefs
We encourage you to contact your own legislators immediately and let them know how you feel about this bill.
December 6, 2012
I am writing to report on our progress, and to invite your support as CHOICES completely transforms the way that reproductive health care is understood and delivered in Memphis, TN.
CHOICES is on track to create a unique, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health practice that better reflects the life-long needs and experiences of women, men, and families in our community. We believe that this new model of comprehensive care is the best way to support a community in achieving and maintainin good sexual and reproductive health.
In the last three years we have experienced tremendous growth in services, visibility, and impact. In terms of clinical services, we have moved from providing one service (1st trimester abortions) for more than 35 years, to now offering these services:
- FertilityProgram. Offering pre-conception counseling, fertility consultations & intra-cervical and intra-uterine inseminations for single women and same and opposite sex couples. We are one of very few centers in the country to offer insemination services for sero-discordant couples (one partner is HIV+).
- STI testing and treatment. Providing non-judgmental, inexpensive, walk-in testing and treatment services for men, women and teens.
- Gay & Lesbian Health Care. Providing health care services in a safe and welcoming environment for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
- Transgender Health Care. Offering general reproductive health care along with hormone management, counseling, and appropriate referrals for transgender men and women.
- PAP Smears & Cervical Health Services. Offering PAP smears and colposcopies in office, and referrals for LEEP procedures if more extensive testing is indicated.
- Vaginal Health Services. Treating general vaginitis and vaginosis with a care model that always starts with the most natural remedies.
- Sedation Services. CHOICES is the only clinic in Tennessee that offers CRNA administered IV sedation for pregnancy termination procedures.
- LARCs. CHOICES has long been a proponent of long-acting, reversible methods of contraception (LARCs) and our clinician is one of the MidSouth’s most experienced in IUD insertions. We also offer implants (Implanon/Explanon), another long-acting, reversible method of contraception.
- Menopause Management. Our clinicians help manage the symptoms of menopause starting with a diet and lifestyle assessment and review, and moving toward more direct interventions if indicated.
- Miscarriage Management. After diagnosing a pregnancy loss, we offer women a range of miscarriage treatment options including watchful waiting, D&C’s, or medical interventions.
- Pregnancy Terminations. CHOICES continues to offer safe 1st trimester surgical and medication abortions, and is the only local clinic to offer the option of private appointments.
- Ryan White Services for HIV+ Clients. As a designated Ryan White provider CHOICES offers a range of reproductive health services at no charge for qualified HIV+ men and women
- Pregnancy Option Counseling. CHOICES offers comprehensive options counseling for women facing an unintended pregnancy including referrals for adoptions and pre-natal care.
- Free Pregnancy and HIV Testing. CHOICES provides these important services to anyone in the community and to all of our patients free of charge.
Contributions from the community have enabled CHOICES to provide clinical training in reproductive health to a range of practicing providers and health care professionals:
- CHOICES now partners with the national Association of Reproductive Health Professionals to provide accredited Continuing Medical Education in reproductive health to physicians, nurses, and other clinicians working in gynecology, primary care, infectious disease and pediatrics.
- CHOICES provides clinical training to students in the Certified Nurse Midwife Program at Vanderbilt University, School of Nursing, medical residents and graduate nursing students at University of Tennessee Medical School, and nurse practitioner students at the University of Memphis.
- CHOICES’ clinician has been invited to provide training in IUD insertions to family planning practitioners with the Shelby County Health Department.
- CHOICES’ efforts to fully integrate HIV services and reproductive health care have received national and international attention. Ours was one of only two US programs to be included last year in a UN AIDS international report on HIV/SRH integration, and our staff continually receives invitations to speak about this work at meetings and conferences around the country.
With support from community members like you, CHOICES’ staff has been able to impact sexual and reproductive health care at state, national and international levels:
- Presented on our successful Parallel Paths project in Nashville to the Tennessee Department of Health’s statewide meeting of HIV prevention and care providers in September.
- Facilitated a 3 hour seminar titled “Listen to Women: Gaps, Barriers and Solutions to Recognizing the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women Living with HIV” at the United States Conference on AIDS in Las Vegas in October.
- Coordinated the panel “Achieving sexual and reproductive health & rights for women & girls living with HIV through innovative gender-based community approaches” in the Women’s Networking Zone, International AIDS Conference in July in Washington, D.C.
- Presented on the panel “The State of Integration” at the first ever joint meeting of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health, and Rights & Funders Concerned about AIDS in July in Washington, D.C.
- Presented about our innovative Ryan White services on the “Living and Thriving Positive” panel in April at the From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom conference at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA.
People are paying attention, and we are beginning to receive honors and recognition for our work:
- CHOICES was voted Best Women’s Health Center by readers of Natural Awakenings Magazine.
- Our Assistant Director, Jennifer Marshall Pepper, was selected to participate in Johnson & Johnson’s highly competitive Health Care Executive Training Program at UCLA in July, where she designed a Community Health Improvement Project that CHOICES will implement over the next two years. Of 50 participants, Jen was one of 6 chosen to make a formal presentation on her project to the class and distinguished guests.
- CHOICES’ work was profiled in a special report entitled “Abortion On the Line” by the Nashville paper The Tennessean in May.
Your tax-deductible contribution to CHOICES in any amount will help make these all these programs and services possible for our community. You can make your gift online at http://MemphisChoices.org/donate, or you can send a contribution by check to: CHOICES, 1726 Poplar Ave., Memphis, TN 38104.
Thank you so much for your support of reproductive health and justice for all people, and for your ongoing support of CHOICES. Here’s to an even greater 2013.
Rebecca L. Terrell, Executive Director
CHOICES urges you to sign & support The Bill of Reproductive Rights.
We the people of the United States hereby assert the following as fundamental human rights that no government may deny, and that our governments at every level must guarantee and safeguard for all.
1. The right to make our own decisions about our reproductive health and future, free from intrusion or coercion by any government, group, or individual.
2. The right to a full range of safe, affordable, and readily accessible reproductive health care—including pregnancy care, preventive services, contraception, abortion, and fertility treatment—and accurate information about all of the above.
3. The right to be free from discrimination in access to reproductive health care or on the basis of our reproductive decisions.
More than Forty Mid-South Organizations, Churches and Individuals Host Roe v. Wade Event on January 22, 2013
The 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision will be celebrated in Memphis by a coalition of more than forty Mid-South organizations, churches and individuals, led by Planned Parenthood, the Center for Research on Women (CROW) at the University of Memphis and CHOICES.
“Religion, Law and Reproductive Rights: The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” will take place at the University Center Theater at the University of Memphis beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 22nd. The event is free and open to the public. After a short reception, the documentary “From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion” will be shown, followed by a panel discussion. Betsy Mandel-Carley, a social worker who participated in the original case that became known as Roe v. Wade, will introduce the film.
“From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion” tells the story of the movement to legalize abortion that began long before the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The documentary, released in 1995 by film maker Dorothy Fadiman, features interviews with many activists who worked to legalize abortion in the early 1960’s. The movement was led by women, clergymen, physicians, and a few brave state representatives in a handful of states, who put their political careers on the line to propose liberalized abortion laws. Their personal stories of the struggle to ensure that women could access safe and legal abortion are especially poignant and timely in light of the current political climate, in which more than 600 abortion restrictions were introduced into state legislatures last year.
WKNO-TV host Mamie Shannon will serve as moderator of the discussion following the documentary screening. Serving on the panel are Brian Faughnan, an attorney on the Board of Directors of the ACLU-Tennessee; Dr. Rosalyn Nichols, the pastor of Freedom’s Chapel Christian Church; Tennessee Representative Karen Camper; and Dr. Owen Phillips, an obstetrician-gynecologist and the Associate Dean of Students at University of Tennessee Medical School.
Dr. Lynda Sagrestano, the Director of CROW and an associate professor of psychology at the University of Memphis said, “The Center for Research on Women is pleased to be sponsoring this event on behalf of an anonymous donation made to highlight the separation of church and state. The event is dedicated to the trailblazing women who struggled to get federal support for public education in Tennessee and to achieve equal treatment and rights for women.”
Aimee Lewis, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region’s Director of Development said, “We were overwhelmed by how enthusiastically organizations, individuals, and churches jumped on board as hosts and supporters. Almost every group we contacted wanted to support the event in some way. It’s very gratifying to see such widespread interest in and support for the Roe v. Wade decision in our community.”
Rebecca Terrell, the Executive Director of Choices agreed, “The number and array of local organizations that have stepped up to proudly and publicly support a woman’s right to control what happens to her own body sends the powerful message that reproductive freedom and justice are valued in Memphis. I am so proud of our community for standing up for women.”
Each organization that agreed to host the event gave at least $100, used to offset the costs of marketing & promotion, the event and the reception.