As parents, the clearest way to communicate love and care to our children is to spend time with them. Find 30 minutes a day to spend undistracted time with your child(ren), especially your teenagers. It doesn't need to be fancy or planned. Simply ask what they want to do, and spend some time joining them! It could be as simple as playing a video game together, helping with homework, listening to music, dicussing a book, taking a walk, or going to the gym. These times will provide opportunity to have discussions about sex and relationships and strengthen your family bond. It also shows your child(ren) that you love and care for them and will always be there for them. Even if it's difficult to fit in, it's probably the most important 30 minutes of your day!
By JENNIFER HABERKORN
A senior Trump health official who has promoted abstinence will be the final arbiter of which groups receive federal family planning funds — a change from prior years, when a group of officials made the decision, POLITICO has learned.
Conservatives have long criticized the $286 million Title X program, which funds family planning services, mostly for low-income women, because it gives money to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions, even though there is a prohibition on using those dollars for abortions.
Now, for the first time since 1987, the final decision of who gets the funding will be in the hands of one person — Valerie Huber, the acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at HHS, a longtime advocate of abstinence.
Prior to joining the Trump administration, Huber was president and CEO of Ascend, a national organization that promoted “sexual risk avoidance” — a term she used instead of abstinence — among young people. Huber also managed the Ohio Department of Health’s sexual risk avoidance program from 2004 to 2007.
Women’s health advocates on the other side of the debate fear that the Trump administration will funnel money away from groups that provide contraception and toward crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion or groups that promote abstinence-only education.
"This is unprecedented, and has dangerous implications,” said Kashif Syed, a senior analyst at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “We’re talking about a program that 4 million people rely on for basic reproductive health care — or in many cases, their only form of health care. Now is not the time to play politics with people’s lives — but that’s exactly what the Trump-Pence administration is doing.”
Planned Parenthood treats about 41 percent of Title X patients but did not say how much total funding it gets through the program.
An HHS official this week confirmed the change in decision-making authority in response to questions from POLITICO.
HHS has been working since 2013 to “streamline administrative function” for Title X to bring it in line with other grants from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, according to an HHS spokesperson. “The selection process in the funding opportunity announcement has been updated to reflect that the office head, in this case, the [deputy assistant secretary for population affairs], will make the final selections,” the spokesperson said.
The policy change was little noticed when the Trump administration announced the new Title X application process last month, but a close review of this year’s application, compared with prior years, shows a change in decision-making.
Since 1987 and until now, final decisions were made by a regional health official along with the HHS deputy assistant secretary for population affairs and the assistant secretary for health, according to language in applications distributed in prior years.
Prior to 1987, the deputy assistant secretary had responsibility for funding decisions, according to an HHS spokesperson.
The shift comes on top of other Title X policy changes: Administration officials have stressed the importance of abstinence education and downplayed the role of all FDA-approved forms of contraception.
They mark the latest administration moves against Obama-era policies in support of contraception. The administration recently eliminated funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and reversed the Obamacare requirement that most employers provide contraception in their employee health plans.
Huber believes public health officials should normalize the idea of delaying sex, according to a statement her organization wrote in 2016.
“As public health experts and policy makers, we must normalize sexual delay more than we normalize teen sex, even with contraception,” Huber said in the statement while at Ascend. “We believe youth deserve the best opportunity for a healthy future.”
Huber has criticized American culture in general and Planned Parenthood specifically for “normalizing” sex among teens and for glossing over the risks of sex before marriage.
“We think it’s very important for teens to know that even if they use a condom or contraception, that doesn’t make sex safe. It doesn’t mean they won’t get pregnant. It doesn’t mean they won’t have an STD. It doesn’t mean they won’t have any negative consequences,” she said in a 2012 speech to the Bringing America Back to Life symposium. “We think that young people need to know information that is going to help them make the best decision — and that best decision is to wait.”
Syed criticized Huber for backing abstinence pledges and imposing her opposition to birth control on other people.
“The Trump-Pence administration is handing the future of the country’s program for affordable birth control over to a woman who wants to mandate abstinence pledges,” Syed said. “Valerie Huber has called abstinence an anti-poverty program, and has made it clear she will impose her beliefs on people no matter how many get hurt in the process.”
Title X applications are due in May, and grants will be rolled out in September. As in prior years, Title X applications will be reviewed by an independent review panel, which is typically made up of public health experts.
The applications will then go to Huber, according to the language in the funding announcement.
Huber said a conference call with reporters last month that Planned Parenthood is welcome to apply for funding. But she stressed that she wants to expand the reach of Title X.
"This is a program that’s important to the administration, and we think it’s really important to make some meaningful changes to extend the coverage of the program," Huber said.
Fathers are the forgotten people in the abortion equation.
As LifeNews blogger Lauren Enriquez has written, “With the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 came the legalization of the ultimate usurper of fatherhood: abortion.”
“America faces the unpleasant reality that, thanks to abortion and the sexual revolution, the role of fatherhood has rapidly made an about-face. Fatherhood has gone from being an unquestioned ingredient in family life to a variable that occurs in the family dynamic only when circumstances are aligned just right,” she writes.
With that in mind, consider this tragic and heartbreaking story Mike & Kathy Forck of the 40 Days for Life campaign in Columbia, Missouri.
"It was almost time to leave. It had been an unusually cold afternoon and as the clean cut young man walked over to me, I wondered what he would say.
"He stopped, he looked at Columbia Planned Parenthood and he said, 'Thank you for being here.'
"He wanted to say something else it seemed and then he blurted out, 'My baby died there.' His face changed to one of sorrow.
"He told his story quickly–he didn’t want the abortion, his girlfriend did and even though he begged her, she would not listen to him. It happened about seven years ago, just when we began our prayer vigils in Columbia. He did not come with her and I told him how they lined the women up outside on the sidewalk and off duty policemen checked them in and took away their phones. Just for a second, he seemed to have compassion for the mother of his child. Maybe she too had second thoughts.
"He told how he had come to Jesus a couple of weeks before she found out she was pregnant and she was heading the opposite direction. This clean cut, well mannered, nicely dressed young man had been a drug dealer in the neighborhood and somehow Jesus saved him, not once, but twice when the grief of the loss of his child was unbearable.
"He said he could hardly wait to be a father–he is married now and looks forward to being a dad. I gently reminded him that he is a dad; and that his child is in heaven and that with God’s grace, he would meet him some day. I told him that his baby knew he wanted him– that he tried to save him and that his baby loved him. He left with something to think about–his fatherhood and the child that he has never forgotten somehow seemed more real to him.
"The loss he suffered will be with him the rest of his life. I think how sometimes God brings them to the sidewalk looking for healing and comfort and how all of us are there for them–with love and never judgment. I thank God that I was there that day and that the sidewalk wasn’t empty. God truly works in mysterious ways."
It’s time to start thinking about energy differently. To support the statewide commitment to reliable and sustainable energy, time of use pricing plans are now available to you. The plans are different from the current tiered option, which is based on how much energy you use. New time of use plans look at the time of day you are using energy, which allows you two ways to save – by shifting your electricity use to lower cost hours of the day or to reduce your overall usage.
During the new on-peak hours of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., increased demand on the electric grid means a higher cost to produce and deliver electricity to you. So, by shifting your use to off-peak hours, when there is less demand, the cost of electricity is less too.
Why are on-peak hours from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.?
As more Southern Californians generate their own solar or wind power, and as utilities put more renewable energy on the grid to serve its customers, the on-peak – or higher demand hours – for electricity are changing to late afternoon and early evening.
By shifting your energy use to off-peak hours, you not only pay less but also help decrease the demand on the electric grid, which ultimately benefits the environment.
Choosing your time of use plan
Now you have more control of your home’s energy bill. Choose a new pricing plan and see if you can save over your current plan. Connect to My Account and go to “Compare My Pricing Plans” to see detailed descriptions and plan features. For more information, visit https://www.sdge.com/residential/tou-pricing-plans-residential
As America reels from another mass shooting in Florida, one abortion activist used the tragedy to claim that fewer mass shootings would happen if more babies were aborted.
Journalist Becky Griffin’s tweets about abortion and the mass shooting went viral Thursday.
“Woman puts baby up for adoption, he grows up to be a violent young man who will spend the rest of his life in prison for a mass murder. Tell me more about how abortions are wrong,” she wrote Thursday.
"Woman puts baby up for adoption, he grows up to be a violent young man who will spend the rest of his life in prison for a mass murder. Tell me more about how abortions are wrong."
The tweet is a reference to alleged mass murderer Nikolas Cruz’s background as an adopted child. According to the AP, he was living with friends after both of his adoptive parents died. Neighbors said his mother, Lynda Cruz, died Nov. 1, and Cruz had mental health problems.
Cruz allegedly killed 17 people and injured 13 others Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the report states.
Griffin quickly received backlash for her tweets about adoption and abortion. Responding to her critics, Griffin directed “trolls” to an old article claiming that abortions reduce crime. Experts have refuted this claim, made popular in the book “Freakonomics,” numerous times.
While Griffin later clarified that she does not oppose adoption and did not mean to insult any adoptees, she continued to assert that some children should be aborted.
"This drew so much attention by ppl jumping to conclusions like I think adoption is wrong, when all I said was that a woman who was clearly unfit to have a child — did — did NOT raise him — and maybe it could have turned out better if she could have made a CHOICE. "
People on both sides of the abortion debate quickly criticized Griffin for using the slaughter of 17 innocent lives to push abortion.
Among them was popular conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
Ben Shapiro✔@benshapiro: "Woman puts baby up for adoption, he turns out to be Steve Jobs. Tell me again how abortions are right."
Abortion activist and writer Robyn Marty also criticized the tweet.
Robin Marty✔@robinmartyWow: "Dear abortion rights supporters - if you are using the fact that the Florida shooter was adopted to promote keeping abortion legal, you are doing it very, VERY wrong."
The solution to ending such horrific, massive violence as the Parkland shooting is troublingly uncertain. Politicians and average Americans will continue debating solutions for years.
But one thing is clear. Violence against children in the womb cannot be the answer to violence against children outside the womb. We have no way of knowing if a child in the womb will be a revolutionary like Steve Jobs or a violent criminal. What we do know is every human life has value, and every child, born and unborn, deserves to live and grow free from violence.
Planned Parenthood’s Valentine’s Day prank demonstrates just how devoid the organization is of true love.
To spite United States Vice President Mike Pence and re-enact a previous prank, Planned Parenthood released a call this Valentine’s Day to donate to their abortion group in Pence’s name, the Federalist reports.
The abortion chain apparently is replicating actress Mila Kunis’ prank that accomplished the same trick. Planned Parenthood jokingly remarked that it is urging this donation to “break Mike Pence’s heart.”
The remainder of the report demonstrates that the vice president’s heart is not the only one that Planned Parenthood seeks to break.
Planned Parenthood breaks the hearts of millions of mothers. A recent study in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons showed that women often feel remorse, shame and depression after having abortions. They may fall into unhealthy lifestyles as a result of those feelings, as well. Studies indicate that women have a higher risk of depression, premature births, and even breast cancers as a result of an abortion. Tragically, some women also have lost their lives along with their unborn babies during abortions. This is not surprising, considering the reports that have surfaced of the abortion giant’s lack of basic health care considerations.
Planned Parenthood breaks the hearts of minorities and those with disabilities. True to the eugenic legacy of its founder Margaret Sanger, the abortion giant placed 79 percent of its clinics within walking distance of minority communities, according to a 2012 study by Protecting Black Life.
The Federalist reported:
“In a rare, strange transparent moment, a Planned Parenthood group actually tweeted that African-American women are safer aborting their babies than birthing them. So instead of providing better maternity care to African-Americans, let’s just kill their kids? That’s Planned Parenthood’s grisly logic.”
Unborn babies with disabilities have also been targeted by the abortion industry. For example, the United States has aborted between 60 and 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome. As Charlotte, a young woman with Down Syndrome, responded to a United Nation member’s discriminatory abortion comments, “What you are suggesting is eugenics. It’s disgusting and evil.”
Planned Parenthood breaks the hearts of young girls trapped in human trafficking situations. It not only has been caught failing to report such incidences, but it also has been caught encouraging sex traffickers on how to continue their ghastly work.
Planned Parenthood breaks the hearts of law-abiding citizens. Despite the recent exposure of their trafficking of human body parts, they continue to receive millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and private donations, enabling them to continue their unethical practices.
Planned Parenthood breaks the hearts – and the rest of the bodies – of millions of babies. It has been a staunch defender of dismemberment abortions, where the baby is literally torn apart limb by limb and crushed with a pair of forceps while their heart still is beating.
It is truly heartbreaking that such an organization continues to exist and thrive in the United States.
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Abortion was legalized nationwide 45 years ago when Roe v. Wade was decided. Since then, almost 60 million babies have been aborted. The loss of these lives is an unspeakable tragedy, but a single abortion has more than one victim. Mothers often have to grapple with the onslaught of negative emotions that come after abortion, even when they describe themselves as “pro-choice.”
At Marie Claire, Sarah Bregel wrote about her abortion story and the grief that followed. While she was in college, Bregel became pregnant by a man with whom she had an on-again, off-again relationship. She cried, and almost immediately decided to schedule an abortion at Planned Parenthood. And Bregel was sad about her decision, though she quickly decided to push those feelings away.
“Why should I grieve, after all?” she asked. “I had known immediately, without doubt, what I had to do, and had shared my plan with my quasi-boyfriend. Any feelings he had were silent and short-lived—he got to forget what he never wanted to know in the first place. When I told him I was going to have an abortion, he was clearly relieved. I didn’t mind his transparency. But he didn’t ask how I felt, not a moment or a week or a month later. He never brought it up at all.”
Bregel likely had an aspiration abortion, as she was in her first trimester. As explained by former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino, this procedure involves first dilating the woman’s cervix, and then using a powerful suction catheter to remove the preborn baby from the womb. The abortionist then uses a curette to scrape the woman’s uterus and make sure that they get all of the baby’s remains.
Bregel describes it as “more painful than I’d anticipated.” She tried to get in touch with the father of the baby, but he refused to answer the phone, and she later found out that while she was aborting his child, he was hooking up with another ex.
After a few years, Bregel began dating someone else, and again got pregnant unexpectedly. This time, though, she decided to keep the baby, and she now is the mother to two children. “It is the greatest challenge I’ve ever known,” she said. And while she still says she doesn’t regret her abortion, it has nevertheless come back to haunt her.
When I first felt my daughter kick inside me, I put my hand on my belly and sensed her strength. It struck me that if I had done nothing, I would’ve felt those kicks years before. I have friends now with children a few years older than mine. Sometimes I find myself watching their sons and daughters, understanding that the child I didn’t have would be just their age.
In these times, I’ve gone down the rabbit-hole of imagining my almost-child and I’ve grieved. The grief comes out of nowhere and hits me in the chest. Sometimes I cry in the shower and my heart aches with the bitterness of knowing there would’ve been another person in the world had I chosen differently. I barely stopped to consider it then. I hadn’t envisioned another choice because, to me, it didn’t really feel like one. My mind was made up then, but I’m a different person now. I’m a mother and so my heart aches like only a mother’s can.
Bregel insists that she still supports legalized abortion, yet she continues to struggle with grief and, to an extent, regret. And she’s not alone. A recent study found that a majority of women said there were no positives to having an abortion, and the majority of scientific data shows that women are at high risk for negative psychological consequences after having an abortion, including anxiety, depression, suicidal behavior, and drug and alcohol abuse. Many women have also spoken out about why they regret their abortions, explaining that the pain still haunts them years later. Even men can be negatively affected by abortion.
This grief is not unknown to the abortion industry, either; according to former Planned Parenthood manager Crystal Eldridge, they kept grief journals in recovery rooms. “The women would cry,” she said. “99% of people were not happy, and there were journals in the back room — in the recovery room — that the women were encouraged to write in, to kind of get their feelings out. And I could never read them in full because I cried too hard.”
Pro-abortion advocates claim that abortion has been positive for women, something that has empowered them and improved their lives. But has it really? Abortion doesn’t solve the problems that drive women to seek them out; it helps to perpetuate the damaging cycle. It allows for the status quo to remain the same. And in the meantime, millions of women have been left grieving and damaged in its wake. Is that really progress?
More than 86 percent of Americans decorate their homes as part of their winter holiday celebrations, according to a recent consumer survey from the Electrical Safety Foundation International. Customers can cut down on their energy use during the holidays by making smart lighting choices.
Benefits of using LED holiday lighting
Energy.gov cites many reasons to choose LED holiday lighting over incandescent lights. LEDs use up to 80% less energy than traditional bulbs, they're brighter, eco-friendly, and are safer, as they are much cooler than incandescent lights. In addition, they are easier to install—up to 24 strings of LEDs can be connected end-to-end without overloading a wall socket. They last ten times longer and have no filaments or glass to break. If you prefer white lights with the look of incandescent lights, look for "warm" white on the label.
Besides using LED holiday lights, here are some other ways to save energy.
1. Limit usage: Set timers for lights to turn on and off automatically. Keep light displays on during the evening and turn them off overnight. Set timers for lights to automatically turn on when it gets dark and off in the middle of the night. You can save more by keeping light displays on only 8 hours of the evening (when you can see them).
2. Get reflective: Shiny ornaments, tinsel and mirrors can multiply the effects of your lighting without using more energy. Be sure to keep tinsel away from pets, though. Reflective ornaments and tinsel are just as bright at night, so getting creative with your lighting display can multiply your resources for shine. Don't forget the ribbons, wreaths, garland, and reflective menorahs, for electricity- free age-old traditions still bring holiday cheer.
Holiday lighting safety tips
1. Plan ahead. Avoid overloading extension cords and wall sockets by following the manufacturer’s limits for the number of light strings that can be safely connected together.
2. Hang lighting correctly. Make sure that no cords will be pinched by furniture or placed under rugs, furniture or other appliances. If covered, cords can overheat or become frayed, increasing the risk of fire.
3. Avoid electric hazards outdoors. Before climbing ladders to string outdoor lights, check for overhead power lines on your roof or attached to your home. Keep at least 10 feet away from overhead lines at all times. Never place yourself or any object such as a string of lights in a position that risks contact with a power line—the result can be fatal.
4. Use GFCI outlets. Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). How do you know if it’s a GFCI? Look for the “test” and “reset” buttons. If circuits are not GFCI-protected, portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased.
5. Check your environment outdoors. Before stringing lights on outdoor trees, make sure tree limbs haven’t grown into or near power lines. Branches, entire trees and even the ground adjacent to a tree can become energized when trees contact power lines.
6. Put your tree in a safe location. Do not place your holiday tree near a heat source such as a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, making it more susceptible to fires caused by heat, flame or sparks.
7. Check condition of lights. Inspect light strands for cracked or broken plugs, frayed insulation or bare wires. Worn cords can cause fires, so discard damaged sets of lights.
8. Read the labels. Be sure to check each product label to see whether the lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use. Make sure lights have a tag indicating they have been evaluated by a recognized testing laboratory.
SDG&E’s EcoChoice program gives customers the option to purchase up to 100% clean, renewable energy. The program may be a good option for those who rent or don’t have the ability to adopt solar due to costs or the inability to put panels on their rooftop. With EcoChoice, there’s no upfront installation cost and you’re supporting clean, renewable energy in our community. Those who enroll will pay a small premium every month depending on their subscription level. Customers can visit our online calculator to estimate how much it will cost each month to purchase renewable energy through the program. Customers can also enroll online. For more information, visit sdge.com/ecochoice.
Sharon Pearce has served as the Director of Silent Voices since 1984, and has dedicated her life to speaking up for the unborn - and for the women who have been hurt by abortion.