Mornings With Ted – Birth Control

Recap
1. Insidious power & control – cell phones, social media, advertising, news media, tech monopolies.
2. Examples of blatant power and control through poverty – Lakota & Redlining
Food for thought
3. Is poverty throughout the U.S. today also a more insidious form of power and control?
4. ASK: Who benefits from poverty?

Opening
1. Do you have children? (Is it weird that I asked that?)
2. Why? (Is it weird that I asked that?)
3. Do you and/or society view parenthood as a given?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. As co-chair, Melinda French Gates helps shape and approve strategies, review results, advocate for foundation issues and set the overall direction. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health with vaccines and other life-saving tools and giving them a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to dramatically improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

In recent years, Melinda French Gates has become a vocal advocate for access to contraception, advancing the idea that empowering women to decide whether and when to have children can have transformational effects on societies.

Melinda Gates – TED Talk

So if we’re going to make progress on this issue, we have to be really clear about what our agenda is. We’re not talking about abortion. We’re not talking about population control. What I’m talking about is giving women the power to save their lives, to save their children’s lives and to give their families the best possible future. -Melinda Gates

U.S. Statistics: (Guttmacher Institute)
• There are 61 million U.S. women of reproductive age.
• About 43 million of them (70%) are at risk of unintended pregnancy—that is, they are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they and their partners fail to use a contraceptive method correctly and consistently.
• In 2014, an estimated 20 million women were in need of publicly funded contraceptive services and supplies because they either had an income below 250% of the federal poverty level or were younger than 20.
• In 2014, publicly funded family planning services helped women avoid nearly two million unintended pregnancies, which would likely have resulted in 900,000 unplanned births and nearly 700,000 abortions.
• In 2010, every $1.00 invested in helping women avoid pregnancies they did not want to have saved $7.09 in Medicaid expenditures that would otherwise have been needed to pay the medical costs of pregnancy, delivery and early childhood care.

And Yet – in the United States
• In 2016, nearly 1 in 5 children lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty line.
37% of children are reported to Child Protective Services by their 18th birthday.
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
• In the 2015 to 16 school year, 1.4 million students, or about 3 percent of students in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools, were reported as homeless children or youth.
In 34 states (as well as the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico), there are exemptions in the civil child abuse statutes when medical treatment for a child conflicts with the religious beliefs of parents.
• Teen birth rates are higher in the US than other developed countries. – Journal of Adolescent Health
• Teen birth rate by state – CDC

Questions
• What would a country without birth control be like?
• Do the above statistics make you feel like people need a license to have kids?

Author Kristen Tsetsi – The Age of the Child

Kristen Tsetsi was born in Sacramento, CA. She grew up, for the most part, near Heidelberg, Germany after her father moved there for not-secret government work. She has been an adjunct English professor,a town news reporter/feature writer/columnist for a daily newspaper, a Women’s eNews correspondent, and editor of the literary journal American Fiction (New Rivers Press). She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Kristen was a recipient of the Robert L. Carothers Distinguished Writers Award, and her short fiction has won the Storyglossia Fiction Prize and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her stories have been published in print and online journals that include Red Weather Magazine, Regarding Arts and Letters, Storyglossia, Denver Syntax, Edifice Wrecked, Tryst, and Pindeldyboz.

The Age of the Child is her third (and most recent) novel and was the focus of an episode of WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show this past April. More information (features, interviews, appearances) here.

Suggestions for Q&A:
• Can you tell us a little bit about your book and how it relates to our TED topic today?
• Was there something in particular that struck you about Gates’ TED talk?
• In the novel, what motivates the ban on birth control? Who stands to gain from it?
• Are only women affected by reproductive laws in the novel?
• Do economics or socio-economic status play a role in the story?
• A great deal of bad happens as a result of laws governing procreation. Any positives?
• TAOTC has been called “unnervingly plausible.” HERE in America???
• Is parent licensing really such a bad idea in the real world? Wouldn’t it benefit children?
• Was there a question in your mind that writing this book became the answer to?
• Did you intend the novel to be a warning?
• You did a great deal of research in order to write this novel. Are there any additional statistics, thoughts, or questions you’d like to leave us with?

The Age of the Child available on Amazon & Kindle

More Resources & Ideas:
• President Nixon signed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) into law on January 31, 1974. CAPTA marked the first significant effort of the federal government to improve the response to physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse.
• How Many U.S. Babies are Wanted? – The Conversation
• 2018 America’s Chindren In Brief Report – ChildStats.gov
• U.S. motherhood stats vs other developed nations – Pew Research
• Do Fewer Men Want Children? (No One Cares) – Kristen Tsetsi
• Facts about Low-Income Children – NCCP
• U.S. Fertility is Dropping – The Conversation

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