Calendar October 17, 2018 00:21

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are on the Rise


Real Alternatives serves women in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan through a network of crisis pregnancy centers that provide free counseling, adoption information and referrals, and ongoing material support for the first year of a baby’s life. In addition, the nonprofit offers resources on sexual health, including how to identify and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. 

The number of people affected by sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, has risen in recent years. The National Institutes of Health has differentiated some two dozen STDs to date and estimates that they infect close to 20 million people annually.

Individuals of any age or social background can contract STDs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young adults between 15 and 24 years of age, as well as pregnant women, are among the groups most at risk for common STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Many women do not know they have contracted an STD, because they may remain symptom-free, yet the complications women experience are typically more severe than those experienced by men.

A major reason for the increase in the number of STD cases is that sexually active individuals today often have a greater number of partners over their lifetime. The CDC points out that the most effective means of avoiding STDs are abstention from sharing needles and abstention from sex outside of a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship.

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Calendar October 17, 2018 00:01

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Help in Saying No to Unwanted Sexual Experiences

Since 1996, Real Alternatives has sought to provide free, compassionate counseling and support to women going through crisis pregnancies. The organization offers a practical path to make it easier for women to choose life over abortion. In addition to its crisis pregnancy services, the organization supplies extensive information on making healthy lifestyle choices. Real Alternatives has dedicated a portion of its website to educating young people on how to deal with the pressure to become sexually active when they are not yet ready to do so.

Contrary to the messages found in much of today’s popular culture, not all teens are having sex. In 2007, slightly less than 50 percent of students in high school had had sexual intercourse. In 2017, that figure dropped to about 40 percent. These numbers are significantly lower than the 54 percent who reported having had sex in 1991. However, studies show that more than half of teenage boys and close to three-fourths of girls reported wishing they had waited longer before taking the serious step of having sex.

The counselors at Real Alternatives have provided a number of practice conversations that young people can have if they feel pressured to have sex. Find more tips on the organization’s website, RealAlternatives.org.

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Calendar October 14, 2018 18:36

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Real Alternatives Supports Pregnant Women and Lowers Medical Costs


Pregnancy centers can be a lifeline for women who feel pressured to have abortions. When a woman calls or visits a pregnancy center, she will find trained, compassionate counselors on hand who will talk with her about her emotions and circumstances and assist her throughout her pregnancy.

Real Alternatives administers pregnancy support and parenting programs at more than 135+ pregnancy support centers, social service agencies and maternity homes in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan. At these centers, caring counselors provide individual support for clients, who also receive everything from maternity clothes to day-care referrals depending on their needs.

The state’s investment in Real Alternatives has paid off. The program saves the state money in medical and societal costs, as women under the care of these centers are more likely to get regular prenatal care and have a decreased risk of low-birth-weight babies. Clients also are more likely to vaccinate their children on schedule. 

As a result, many states are modeling outreach programs after those of pregnancy support centers that partner with Real Alternatives. That means more women are receiving support and counseling during their pregnancies and for up to a year after the child is born.

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Calendar October 14, 2018 18:28

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Calendar October 14, 2018 18:27

Polls Show Many Americans Support Life-Affirming Services

 

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A January 2018 Marist Poll found that 56% of Americans consider abortion to be morally wrong. According to the Marist Poll, more Americans than not (more than 20%) think that abortion does a woman more harm than good, in the long run. A 2018 Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong; a 2017 Pew poll found that 44 percent of Americans believe having an abortion is morally wrong.

The thoughts and beliefs reflected in these polls, as well as modern medical advances that make it difficult to deny the humanity of an unborn child, have been consistently moving in support of life. Women are seeking life-affirming options and more and more women are choosing not to abort. Fourteen states in America now fund programs to provide alternatives to abortion to women in unexpected pregnancies. Women in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan in need of pregnancy support can call Real Alternatives at 1-888-LIFE-AID.

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Calendar October 14, 2018 18:21

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Babies Perceive Music and Language while in the Womb

Real Alternatives contracts with Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana as a nonprofit provider of crisis pregnancy counseling, adoption referrals, and supportive social services. As part of its commitment to extending life-affirming support to pregnant women, the organization provides access to parenting classes and information on the development of babies before birth.

Babies in utero have highly sophisticated nervous systems, and their rapidly growing brains respond to the sounds of music and language. In fact, researchers have demonstrated the importance of hearing sound for the development of an unborn baby’s ability to think and reason.

Many experts believe that by about 23 weeks, an unborn baby can perceive sound. Moreover, research shows that the portions of the brain responsible for processing sounds are fully functioning by the last trimester.

Unborn babies can detect the rhythms of both music and human speech. Scientists have found that after birth, babies retain memories of the sounds they heard in the womb. One study, conducted in the 1980s, showed that newborns seem to be already familiar with the sounds of their parents’ native language.

Beyond promoting the development of the baby’s brain, reading aloud and listening to music help a mother to feel more relaxed, as does talking to her unborn baby. In this relaxed state, the mother’s body releases happiness-inducing chemicals into her baby’s bloodstream.

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Calendar October 9, 2018 12:22

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Advice for Women Pressured to Have an Abortion


Real Alternatives has assisted upward of 300,000 women with crisis pregnancy services. The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit partners with government social service agencies in three states to deliver the help that can make all the difference in a woman’s choice to keep her baby.

Real Alternatives wants to be sure this message goes out to women in crisis: It is against the law to force any woman to undergo an abortion. No one, not the baby’s father, and not even her own parents if she is a minor, can make that decision for her. No doctor is permitted to perform an abortion without the individual woman’s informed consent; to do so means risking loss of his or her medical license.

Women unwilling to go through with an abortion should tell every staff member that they have not agreed to the procedure. If a physician attempts to perform the procedure, the woman - even if she is not yet 18 - has the right to say no. She can additionally tell the physician that she intends to file a lawsuit should she be forced into an abortion.

Trained, empathetic counselors are available at 1-888-LIFE-AID at any time of the day or night, to help women understand their rights and options, and to connect them with financial and social service support.

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Calendar October 9, 2018 12:04

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The Problem of Forced Abortion around the World

Real Alternatives provides free counseling and crisis-related pregnancy services in Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Real Alternatives focuses on empowering women by providing comprehensive information on adoption, as well as family support services should they choose to raise their babies themselves.

While American law is clear that no one can force any woman - even if she is a minor - to have an abortion, in some countries, this right to personal autonomy is not respected.

In some provinces in China, for example, even after the 2015 government reforms toward a “two-child” rather than a “one-child” policy, some women can still be forced to undergo abortions. If a woman is found to be pregnant with a child in excess of the quota assigned to her, she may be required to terminate her pregnancy.

Since the 2015 shift in policy, a married couple may have up to two children. The Chinese government penalizes unmarried pregnant women through a “zero-child” policy.

Even in the United States, some family members continue to pressure pregnant women into abortions. Such pressure can take the form of manipulation of a woman’s feelings, threats to withhold financial or emotional support, and even physical violence. Real Alternatives encourages women in this situation to call its hotline, 1-888-LIFE-AID, which offers judgment-free, practical, and compassionate advice, counseling, and referral services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Calendar October 9, 2018 11:58

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Monogamy, Abstinence Can Keep You Safe from STDs

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Almost 20 million Americans are affected by an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) annually, according to the National Institutes of Health, and the number is rising, as more people engage in a risky sexual lifestyle by having more sexual partners over the course of their lives.

STDs often do not present symptoms, making it especially important for people who are sexually active and who have multiple partners to get tested regularly. Women, in particular, are less likely to experience symptoms. If left untreated, STDs can be passed to sexual partners and develop into serious health conditions such as AIDS. Medical professionals can treat many STDs effectively if they are detected early.

Behaviors such as sharing needles and living a risky sexual lifestyle can lead to the transmission of STDs. The only 100% way to ensure that you do not contract an STD is by abstaining from sex and/or by committing to a relationship where both partners are monogamous (choose one mate for life) and do not have an STD.

If you are sexually active and not in a monogamous relationship, you can still reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted infections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends reducing the number of sex partners and to get tested immediately for STIs.

If you are concerned about whether you have an STD, call 1-888-LIFE-AID to speak with a counselor who can provide more information and a referral for confidential testing. To find a STD testing center near you, go to https://gettested.cdc.gov/.

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Calendar October 2, 2018 17:07

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Pennsylvania Programs Offer Alternatives to Abortion

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through Real Alternatives provides women who are pregnant with a variety of free, caring, and confidential alternatives to abortion. The services offered by Real Alternatives and the state of Pennsylvania are available to any woman who is experiencing an unexpected pregnancy or who has an infant less than a year old.

The World Health Organization has stated that reproductive health is important for women. Pennsylvania Alternatives to Abortion Services provides many resources to improve reproductive health. The program is designed to support the well-being of the mother and baby.

Clients can receive free pregnancy tests, counseling, and referrals to other agencies for medical care and assistance with food, money, and baby supplies. With more than 90 centers throughout the state, trained counselors support mothers during pregnancy and afterward as they care for their children. They can help mothers find a place to live, figure out how to continue their education, and provide maternity and baby clothes, baby furniture, and baby food.

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Calendar October 2, 2018 16:50

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Pregnancy Support Centers Dedicated to Helping Women


Committed to helping women to find life-affirming alternatives to abortion, Real Alternatives possesses a network of pregnancy support centers designed to help women during and after their pregnancies. Real Alternatives' experienced counselors provide new and expectant mothers with kind and compassionate care.

At the centers, women have access to parenting, pregnancy, and childbirth classes. Providing confidential counseling and mentoring services, Real Alternatives furnishes mothers with vital items such as food, furniture, and baby and maternity clothing. Moreover, the counselors supply adoption information and encourage women to obtain well baby and prenatal check-ups during and after their pregnancies. The counselors also help mothers to make career and educational decisions. 

Offering women access to free pregnancy self-test kits and assistance in locating temporary shelter, the pregnancy support centers also give referrals to community agencies.

A nonprofit organization, Real Alternatives operates a network of 144 centers in Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. For more information, call 1-888-LIFE-AID.

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Calendar October 2, 2018 16:25

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Adoption – A Courageous Alternative to Abortion

 

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For women who are pregnant and not ready to raise a child, adoption is a brave choice that can benefit the child and birth mother, as well as the baby’s new family. Real Alternatives can help women considering this option through its network of pregnancy support centers, where trained counselors can work with mothers to discuss their situation and connect them with licensed adoption agencies.

Birth mothers can benefit from adoption in a number of ways. Knowing that her child has been placed with a loving family can bring significant comfort to the birth mother while she pursues an education, career, or other life goals that would have been difficult while raising a child. Moreover, pregnancy support centers can provide ongoing assistance and counseling for the birth mother and family members if necessary.

When a baby is placed with the new family, the birth mother can find joy in knowing that her difficult decision has brought tremendous happiness to another family and that it was made with great love and with the baby’s best interests in mind.

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Calendar June 5, 2018 18:28

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Calendar April 9, 2018 16:46

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Calendar November 29, 2017 19:23

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An Overview of HPV Statistics in America


Real Alternatives is a not-for-profit health organization that provides women with a variety of services and support during unexpected and crises pregnancies. Real Alternatives also offers a wealth of information regarding related health topics, including sexually transmitted diseases

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 110 million Americans are living with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), at a cost of more than $16 billion annually. Studies have found that of the 20 million newly-reported cases of STDs every year, over 14 million are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. 

Nearly 80 million individuals of all ages in the United States live with HPV. The infection is incurable, though some symptoms can be managed with medical treatments. In many instances, HPV is passed between partners, and it can remain dormant for years without active symptoms. Some strains of HPV can cause genital warts or even cancer. 

There are a number of ways to mitigate one's chances of contracting HPV. Individuals are advised to get the HPV vaccine, which helps protect against the most common strain but not all of the strains. Practicing safe sex can lower the chance of contracting HPV or other STDs. However, living a chaste lifestyle (abstinence) until committing to a long-term monogamous relationship is the best and the most effective means of risk reduction.

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Calendar November 29, 2017 19:20

Basic Facts about STDs in America

 

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Real Alternatives puts women dealing with unexpected pregnancies in touch with helpful programs and services. In addition to unplanned pregnancy, Real Alternatives operates in areas related to sexual health and STD prevention.

Unexpected pregnancy is not the only reason to refrain from sexual intercourse at a young age, or at any time outside of a committed, trusting relationship. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are another serious consequence to consider. In recent years, STDs have reached epidemic levels in the United States, with more than 20 unique infectious diseases impacting over 20 million American men and women. Every year, the US government addresses the effects of STDs with response efforts in excess of $16 billion.

Knowledge and prevention represent an individual’s two strongest weapons against STDs, which can be contracted by any sexually active individual. Age, gender, race, economic background, and other identifying characteristics have nothing to do with contracting an STD. That said, certain populations are more at risk than others. More than 66 percent of STD cases in America are found in individuals under the age of 25, for example.

Sexually active individuals must be highly vigilant in regard to the symptoms of a possible STD. In many cases, particularly in women, the symptoms do not show immediately. In some cases, a disease may lie dormant for years at a time. Even when there are no symptoms, the disease can be transmitted.

There are a number of ways to mitigate the chances of contracting an STD, but abstaining from sexual intercourse is the only way to completely prevent the chances of infection.

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Calendar November 17, 2017 01:18

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Real Testimonies from Real Alternatives Clients


Real Alternatives provides support and information to women from all walks of life who have been impacted by an unplanned pregnancy. The Real Alternatives website, www.realalternatives.org, features a number of stories from clients who have benefited from the support of the organization. 

The stories come from a host of women of different ages and backgrounds, a testament to the organization’s desire to provide help to any individual who seeks it. Certain accounts highlight the organization’s all-inclusive attitude in regard to age, as opposed to similar agencies that focus solely on helping younger women dealing with unexpected pregnancies. 

Other women have pointed to a lack of support upon learning about their pregnancy, including disapproval from family and friends and pressure to abort, or complete indifference from their partner. The informed support and welcoming approach of the Real Alternatives team, along with a number of approved service providers, helped these women to identify different ways to address their situation.

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Calendar November 7, 2017 15:08

What Happens during an Abortion

 

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Founded to provide pregnancy and parenting support to new and expectant mothers, Real Alternatives is committed to educating women about their options. Real Alternatives helps women to understand what is involved in an abortion, so that they can make informed choices. Medical abortions, also known as chemical abortions, involve the use of a hormone-blocking chemical known as mifepristone. Mifepristone is colloquially known as the abortion pill, as well as RU-486 this chemical is used to end an early pregnancy by inducing an abortion. In some cases, the woman will need to take a second drug, misoprostol to complete the abortion. Misoprostol causes the womb to contract; the contractions expel the baby from the womb. Medical abortions are typically only available to women who are nine or fewer weeks into pregnancy.

After the ninth week of pregnancy, women seeking abortions who are still in their first trimester are more likely to undergo vacuum aspiration, a surgical procedure in which a physician will numb the cervix and insert a catheter into the woman’s cervix. The catheter is connected to a machine that acts like a vacuum cleaner. The fetus is sucked out of the womb through the catheter.

Usually during a second trimester (the fourth, fifth, and sixth months of pregnancy), to perform an abortion, the doctor opens (dilates) the cervix and empties (evacuates) the uterus. This method is known as dilation and evacuation (D & E).
When this abortion method is used in the second trimester, the doctor may insert a sponge-like material into the cervix. As the sponge gets wet it becomes larger, opening the mouth of the cervix. The doctor will remove the sponge two to sixteen hours later. The doctor uses forceps to remove the fetus or fetal parts; the doctor may also suction the fetus or fetal parts by vacuum aspiration using a larger catheter than described for the first trimester. The afterbirth is most commonly removed by vacuum aspiration.
Finally, late-term abortions are abortions performed between 24 and 38 weeks gestation.
An abortion at this stage of your pregnancy may only be done if your physician reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent either your death or a substantial and irreversible impairment of one of your major bodily functions.

When a pregnancy is ended at this stage, one of two procedures is performed: labor induction or cesarean section.
Labor and delivery of the fetus during the third trimester are similar to childbirth. The duration of labor depends on the size of the baby and the “readiness” of the womb.
If labor cannot be started by injecting medicine into the pregnant woman, or if the pregnant woman is too sick to undergo labor, a cesarean section may be done.
Another type of late term abortion that is also performed is known as partial birth abortion. Partial birth abortion is legal in only 18 states.

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