Beth Schwartzapfel

Beth Schwartzapfel is a freelance journalist living in Boston. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Mother JonesThe Nation, and other publications.

Recent Articles

Born This Way?

AP Photo/High Point Enterprise, Don Davis Jr.
From the time she could talk, Maggie* has told her parents that she is a boy. She doesn’t say, “I want to be a boy.” She doesn’t say, “I feel like a boy.” She says, “I am a boy.” She tells her classmates, too. Lately—she’s in elementary school now—they’ve been having debates about it. “Maggie’s a boy,” one kid said recently, in a not-unfriendly, matter-of-fact sort of way.

Inconvenient Contraception

For millions of women, getting birth control is a laborious process. Would making the pill an over-the-counter drug be the best policy fix?

Last week, birth control for college students got cheaper. An "affordable birth control" provision in the 2009 appropriations bill, which President Barack Obama signed last Wednesday, restored an incentive for drug makers to offer college health clinics discounts on the pill (the longstanding incentive had been inadvertently eliminated in a 2005 deficit-reduction bill). Still, even when it's cheaper, birth control will continue to be two things: inconvenient and thoroughly tied up with the medical system.

Former Prisoners Reforming Prisons

Politicians and correctional officials are recognizing that, in conversations about prison reform, they must include the voices of those who have lived it.

Elizabeth Gaynes has worked with people involved in the criminal justice system for more than 30 years: as a young law student in the early 1970s, she was galvanized by the uprising at Attica, and helped to defend some of the incarcerated people who were involved. Later, she took the reins as executive director of the nonprofit Osborne Association, which provides services to incarcerated people and their communities.

Barrier Methods

When Margaret Sanger was arrested in 1916 for "obscenity" (which is to say, advocating birth control), diaphragms were a revolutionary way for women to take control of their bodies. What do most women think of diaphragms today? Yawn. So quaint, so old-fashioned, so ... Margaret Sanger. The number of women using the diaphragm has fallen steeply since highly effective hormonal methods were introduced in the United States in the 1960s. What was once the country's most common contraceptive device is now used by less than 2 percent of couples nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.