Birth Control Is Now Available Over The Counter in Oregon

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Good news for those who may not have insurance, or don’t want to visit the doctor: Birth control is (slowly) becoming available over-the-counter at your nearest pharmacy. That’s right, soon (depending on where you live) you won’t need a prescription.

Right now, the service is only available in Oregon, and it kicked into effect Jan. 1st of this year. Here’s how it works: A woman can walk into her local pharmacy, and fill out a questionnaire about her health. If all systems go, she can get birth control. If the pharmacist refuses to supply her on the grounds of religious reasons, the pharmacist is required to provide suggestions as to where the customer can find birth control.

This all applies if the woman is over 18 years old. If she’s under 18, she’ll still need a doctor’s prescription, though this standard will be relaxed at some point in the future.

It’s also pretty significant that a woman signed this into law: Oregon’s governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law last July.

But Oregon might not be the only state with this law in place for long: California is working out its own law, which is set to go into effect in March. And Colorado and Washington have introduced similar laws within their own respective states. Let’s hope the other 46 states soon see the light and follow suit.

 

Diversity Amongst Principal Dancers in Top Ballet Companies: By The Numbers

San Francisco Ballet's Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in George Balanchine's 'Scotch Symphony,' 2012 (Odette's Ordeal)

San Francisco Ballet’s Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in George Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony,’ 2012 (Odette’s Ordeal)

It’s a well-known fact that classical ballet companies aren’t known for their diversity. With the news that American Ballet Theatre (ABT) dancer Misty Copeland has been promoted to principal, I was curious to see just how (non-) diverse the major ballet companies are.

First, I identified the top classical ballet companies in the U.S.: ABT, New York City Ballet (NYCB), San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Houston Ballet. (I didn’t look at Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet because the company doesn’t use traditional levels, as far as I could tell.)

Next, I looked at each company’s roster, looking for diversity. I decided to narrow my search to solely the principal dancers to save time. I then made a spreadsheet of my findings:

Principal Dancer Diversity at Top Ballet Companies Excel Spreadsheet

Principal Dancer Diversity at Top Ballet Companies Excel Spreadsheet

The first glaring thing is none of the companies have any Black principals at this time. (Copeland will change that when she begins her new position in August.) Every company listed has at least one principal of Asian descent, and San Francisco has two.

Here’s how the various companies break down.

American Ballet Theatre (ABT):

ABT has 15 principal dancers. Four Latino/Latina dancers make up 25%+ of the company’s diversity.

Houston Ballet:

Houston Ballet has the smallest group of principals with just eight dancers. The one Asian dancer and one Latina dancer combine to make up 25% of the diversity.

New York City Ballet (NYCB):

NYCB has the highest number of principal dancers at 24. Latino/Latina dancers comprise 12%+. Though not noted above, NYCB also features one dancer of South Asian descent.

Pacific Northwest Ballet:

This company has the worst diversity score. No Black or Latino/Latina dancers, and only one Asian dancer, in a group of 12 principals.

San Francisco Ballet:

With six dancers among 20 principals, San Francisco Ballet’s Latino/Latina contingent make up 30% of that company’s diversity, the largest of the studied cohort. Though not noted above, the company also features one dancer of South Asian descent.

Rachel Dolezal: How Many White People Have Passed As Black?

Rachel Dolezal (Young Cons)

Rachel Dolezal (Young Cons)

This is pretty insane: It came out last week that Rachel Dolezal, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington, isn’t black at all. Not one drop.

She’s actually white.

Her story came out after a reporter asked her point-blank if she was black. Dolezal dodged the question. Since then, other aspects of Dolezal’s life have come to light: attending Howard University, telling people her adopted black brother (who lived with her) was really her son, and teaching classes on African-American culture at Eastern Washington University. Dolezal also claimed to have received hate mail.

Dolezal began identifying as black in 2007, after years of identifying with the culture.

I wanted to see if there were any stats on white people passing as black in the larger culture. I don’t mean in terms of appropriating dress or mannerisms, but actually altering one’s physical appearance and living an elaborate lie.

And I couldn’t find anything. Shocker (but not really). This is such a strange situation that I’m not surprised there haven’t been enough subjects to be studied.

The only white person who’s done anything remotely similar was John Howard Griffin, author of “Black Like Me.” Griffin underwent physical changes, including darkening his skin under heat lamps, to pass for a black man and report on racial injustices in the South firsthand. But obviously, his motives were very different than Dolezal’s.

It’ll be interesting to see how Dolezal’s case plays out, and if she’ll drop her black identity now that she’s been exposed.

Sofia Vergara’s Frozen Embryos: Is There A Precedent for IVF Egg Custody?

Sofia Vergara (Celebrity Post)

Last week, “Modern Family” actress Sofia Vergara’s former fiancé Nick Loeb penned an op-ed for “The New York Times” regarding Vergara’s frozen eggs. The pair had initially frozen the eggs via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in case they later wanted children, before their relationship ended last year. (Vergara is currently engaged to “True Blood” actor Joe Manganiello.) Now Loeb wants to unfreeze an eggs to implant within a surrogate, and have a child using his ex-fiance’s egg. (When the two were together, they had signed an agreement regarding using the eggs only with permission from both of them, but there wasn’t any discussion on what might happen if they split.) Vergara, as owner of said egg(s), is (naturally and understandably) refusing to release her eggs.

I wanted to find out of there was a precedent set for IVF egg custody. According to “Chicago Lawyer” magazine, there are no definitive laws or one-approach-fits-all (yet), but 10 states so far have made rules regarding IVF custody and procedure cases.

One big commonality between a lot of these approaches is an issue familiar to sexuality: consent. Courts are generally weighing the desires of each partner, called “balance of interests.” This can be applied if one partner wants to use the eggs, but the other doesn’t want that person to use them. Iowa takes a “co-consent” approach, in that both parties must agree to “sign off when the embryo is implanted in the woman.”

Contracts guide decisions in other states. In these instances, courts rely on “contracts drawn up by the couple before the embryos were created.”  New York, Washington, Texas and Oregon follow this method.

Some states take a blended approach (kind of like a blended orgasm). Tennessee, New Jersey and Pennsylvania first look for existing contracts between both parties before moving on to consent.

Other states are complete outliers in their approach. Iowa has “contemporaneous-mutual-consent,” which is a written agreement that states that both parties must sign off on use of the embryos. Massachusetts is another outlier, stating that the woman receives custody of the embryos in event of divorce.

Vergara and Loeb’s situation may bring attention to this dilemma shared by other ex-couples, and it could drive inquiries and move future legislation forward. We’ll have to see how it plays out.