The Bemidji Pioneer published a fantastic profile of Planned Parenthood educator Anna Goldtooth on how a chance encounter set her on a path to rediscover herself and re-examine her roots.
From the interview:
Goldtooth made the decision to major in Indian Studies at BSU, which helped her connect more deeply to her culture. During her coursework, she began realizing that the people she was reading about in books were not strangers, but her ancestors and relatives. She learned about traditional cultural beliefs and practices that contained valuable wisdom for today. She also became aware of the atrocities her people faced in the past, such as having their children taken and placed in abusive boarding schools, forced sterilization of women, the outlawing of their spiritual ceremonies and traditions, and the suppression of their language.
Doing some personal research, she found her friends could identify relatives who were given experimental birth control against their will by health professionals, and her own great-grandmother (and namesake) died during childbirth from medical mistreatment. She started to see how this historical trauma was affecting her community today, and the information empowered her. "I felt like I could see the bigger picture of what's going on," she says. "Indian Studies really gave me the tools and the language to talk about the experiences that we've had. That's given me more confidence."
That confidence led her to apply at Planned Parenthood, where she now uses the knowledge and tools she's gained to empower other young people. "This work is very personal for me." she states. "It's not just a way to get a paycheck. I'm talking about the things that me or my friends experienced growing up."
We're so lucky to count smart, genuine women like Anna as colleagues at Planned Parenthood. Read the full profile here.
ARIZONA: Abortion Limits Blocked
The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled unanimously that Arizona's attempted law to limit access to medication abortions after seven weeks places unnecessary and undue restrictions on women.
HAWAII: Lawmaker Guts Sex-Ed Programs by Claiming they 'Normalize' Homosexuality
A middle school sex-ed program will only be taught to Hawaii students if parents explicitly opt-in. This announcement was the culmination of a long campaign by a state legislator who considers homosexuality "aberrant behavior."
LOUISIANA: Gov. Bobby Jindal to Sign Law to Keep Incapacitated Pregnant Women on Life Support
A law directing doctors to keep pregnant women on life support after they've suffered accident or injury rendering them brain dead is expected to be signed by Governor Bobby Jindal.
LOUISIANA: Gov. Bobby Jindal Vetoes Law Allowing Legal Surrogacy Births (Again)
Legislation that would set up regulations for surrogacy births has once again been vetoed by Governor Bobby Jindal, who cited concerns from anti-abortion activists as the reason.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Governor to Sign Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone
Governor Maggie Hassan's signature will allow health centers that provide abortions to set buffer zones of up to 25 feet around their entrances.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Lawmakers Buck the Trend and Give Up On Attacking Abortion Rights
This year, the South Carolina legislature considered two pieces of legislation to limit access to abortion: a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and a bill requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges. Neither of those bills made it to the governor's desk.
TENNESSEE: Proposed Abortion Restriction Getting Criticism from Both Sides of the Debate
Tennessee is considering a new constitutional amendment that would give the state legislation more power to restrict abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. It's so sweeping and restrictive that even anti-women's health voters and lawmakers are opposed to it.
VIRGINIA: Board Must Decide What to Do About Abortion Clinic Rules
Activists are fighting for the Virginia Board of Health to a new batch of unnecessary building codes aimed at abortion providers, which would shut down the majority of women's clinics in the state.
WISCONSIN: Law May Make It So Women Must Wait 10 Weeks for an Abortion
If held up in court in Wisconsin, new restrictions will force one clinic to shut its doors and make it so women will have to wait up to 10 weeks for a safe abortion, causing others to have to travel hundreds of miles in the case of an emergency.
LAUREN MACK, SOCIAL MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANT
In this video, which premiered at Celebrate! Planned Parenthood in 2013, PPMNS educators Anna from Bemidji and Rebekah from Duluth discuss the work they do promoting healthy relationships and honest communication through Planned Parenthood, specifically at Mother-Daughter Retreats. You'll also hear from Ashley and Nakaya about their eye-opening mother-daughter retreat experience and how it strengthened their relationship.
Happy Mother's Day from Planned Parenthood to mothers in Minnesota and everywhere.
When Jessica thinks about how sexual health was addressed in her childhood home, she doesn't think of conversations; she thinks of silences.
"My parents thought they were being very progressive by telling me that there were three condoms in the linen closet," she explains. "But that was it—there was no conversation about how to use them, or the choices that I might be making in regards to sexuality." The message came through clearly that sexuality was something to be kept private, and that questions were to be kept to oneself.
It was an atmosphere that had consequences; Jessica became a mother two months after she turned 18. It was "an isolating experience," she says. But it also kickstarted her determination not to repeat the same patterns with her own daughter.
From the beginning, Jessica's daughter Laresa was taught that reproductive health, sexuality, and anatomy were not taboo. "I just remember always knowing what things were, what they were called," Laresa recalls. She could ask her mother questions, and they could find the answers together. As Laresa got older, these conversations sometimes became more difficult. But she and her mother stuck to their principles of openness, honesty, and availability.
In 2007, Jessica began working for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. When she heard about Teen Council, she knew immediately Laresa would be a perfect fit. At the time, Laresa, says, "I never knew Teen Council was going to be so much of who I am today." But now in her third year of the program, she has become a resource for friends, classmates, and even family members, who all know they can come to her with their sexual health questions.
Jessica has watched with pride. "The adults that I know don't talk about these issues in their own lives," she says. "And here are ten teenagers who are totally comfortable talking about this stuff!"
Both Jessica and Laresa know that they have something special. As Jessica explains, their approach to talking about sexual health has strengthened their relationship in countless other ways. "It opened up for me, as her mother, access to all kinds of things in her life that I would have absolutely no knowledge of or input into if we weren't comfortable having these conversations," she says. "And I don't know that we would have access to those pieces of each other's lives without the tools that we had individually gained from our involvement with Planned Parenthood."
Though it can be scary, Laresa says her peers can learn to reach out to their parents. "In most situations your parent needs to know and wants to know these things," she says. "And wants to make sure that you’re as safe as you can be, and as informed as you can be." Jessica agrees. As a parent, she says, "it's important to see your child as the adult that they’re becoming, not as a child that you control. And sometimes that's really hard." But by choosing conversation over silence, and committing to honesty even when it's difficult, Jessica and Laresa are finding the answers, together.
EMILY SHAFTEL, COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST