We give women the facts. And we make sure that programs, policies, and public spending reflect those facts.
One pregnancy too soon doesn’t have to lead to another. CFW grantee Options for Youth shows how. Its Subsequent Pregnancy Program has been remarkably successful, with 97 percent of first-time teen mothers who participate delaying a second pregnancy.
In an op-ed on the rise of single-parent households, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof highlighted SPP as an example of programs that “give young people a lift and a stake in the future.”
In January 2014, sex education in Illinois public schools got a makeover when Public Act 098-0441 took effect. The law requires that medically accurate, age-appropriate information on reducing STDs, STIs, and unintended pregnancies be the new sex-education standard for both middle and high school students.
Every bill that makes it into law represents a multiyear team effort. In the case of PA 098-0441, that effort included many CFW grantees. ACLU of Illinois led a coalition in support, helping other organizations understand the bill. Midwest Access Project, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, and EverThrive Illinois all played a role.
Kathy Waligora, M.S.W., policy and communications coordinator for Everthrive, summed up the general consensus. “A major part of controlling your body is having an understanding of your body and how to make different decisions. If comprehensive sex education is part of a student’s curriculum, we hope that [students] will also develop a greater respect for themselves.”
Cora Fletcher, a 17-year-old jailed for retail theft, lay with her arms and legs shackled to opposite sides of a hospital bed for three days before giving birth. Jennifer Farrar, charged with forgery, had her legs chained together through most of her labor.
Both had to deliver their baby with one arm handcuffed to a bed.
Thanks to Chicago Foundation for Women-funded advocacy efforts led by Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers (now part of Cabrini Green Legal Aid), scenes like these are becoming a thing of the past. Public Act 097-0660 now protects mothers and fetuses from chain belts and leg irons throughout pregnancy, not just at the moment of delivery itself. The new law defines handcuffs as a restraint, and includes reporting requirements to ensure transparency. And it keeps corrections officers out of the delivery room, unless medical staff request their presence.
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