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In Brief 

by Cara Gardner and Pia K. Hansen

Fewer Kids Having Kids -- SPOKANE -- Teen pregnancy and teen abortion rates are down in Washington state as well as in the nation. That's the good news in the "Washington State Pregnancy and Induced Abortion Statistics" report recently published by the Department of Health (DOH). Both teen abortion and pregnancy rates in Washington state are lower than the national average. The report shows that the state's birth rate dropped from 35.6 per 1,000 teens in 2001 to 33 per 1,000 in 2002. The abortion rate in 2002 for teens was 14 per 1,000 pregnancies in girls between 15 and 19 years.

"The work that's happening in public health around teen pregnancy includes comprehensive sexuality education, and we like to say that's part of the reason," notes Susan Sjoberg, program manager for HIV and Reproductive Health for the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD).

"Your Choice not Chance [is a public program] that has been in Spokane County for a decade, and it works with girls identified at a higher risk for teen pregnancy. A very similar program is the Adolescent Health Project through Planned Parenthood Northwest," Sjoberg says, adding that both programs are struggling with funding cuts and cannot reach all teens -- not even all of the teens identified with high-risk behavior. Still, Sjoberg says the decreases are indicators of much larger trends.

"Some is economic or reflective of what's happening nationally," she explains. "But over the long haul, if these programs are continually decreased, do I think it will it have an impact? I do."

For more information on the DOH report, visit:

Farm Fresh -- OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State Senator Lisa Brown is sponsoring a bill that would give an extra $100,000 to the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which provides vouchers to low-income women and children. The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday, Jan. 29. If it passes, the state money would be matched by a $233,000 federal grant.

"This program not only promotes healthy eating by providing fresh produce and educating families about good nutrition, it also promotes state-grown food and supports small farmers," said Brown in a written statement.

The program is a supplemental part of WIC, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. The Spokane County program started last year, and it supplied 1,300 WIC clients with vouchers, of which $14,200 worth were redeemed by 28 small farmers.

Brown said she hopes this funding will allow the program -- which gets great reviews from more than 80 percent of participating farmers and clients -- to prosper.

More Monologues -- SPOKANE -- Stop the Clock, a nonprofit organization that works to put an end to violence against women, is putting on The Vagina Monologues at the Met on March 8.

The production marks a return to the original format of simply reading the monologues written by Eve Ensler.

"There will be about 10 performers this year, and there will be no community [written] monologues like we had last year," says Anne Spingola, who's in charge of the production. "We are still looking for more minority women who are interested in performing."

Women interested in performing should contact Spignola right away.

What's new this year is an award given to Vagina Warriors, men or women who work on women's violence issues locally.

"We are asking people to nominate a man or a woman from the Spokane community. The deadline is March 1," says Spignola. The award will be presented at the Met show.

Ensler's monologues have become world-famous for the way they describe women dealing with difficult topics such as sex, coming of age, rape and violence.

The only other performance planned so far is sponsored by the Soroptomists International of Coeur d'Alene and the Unity Church of North Idaho. That show will be on Feb. 7 at NIC's Schuler Auditorium.

To nominate someone as a Vagina Warrior, e-mail [email protected] Tickets for the Met show on March 8 at 7:30 pm are $8-$18. Call 325-SEAT. Tickets for The Vagina Monologues at NIC on Feb. 7 at 7 pm are $15-$26. Call (208) 769-7780.

Publication date: 1/29/04
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