For the first time in its history, Planned Parenthood will offer voter registration.

Regardless of where you land politically, the 2016 U.S. presidential election is as high-stakes as it gets.

There's a massive amount of work to be done on the economy, the war on terror, immigration, gun control, and international relations, a vacant Supreme Court seat to fill, and the two major party candidates represent — to put it lightly — wildly different approaches to those issues.

With record low voter turnout in the past few elections, this year it is incredibly important that as many people as possible get registered and show up to vote in November.


Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images.

Outreach is key in getting voters to the polls, and a ton of organizations have been stepping up and spreading the word about how to register to vote and why people should.

To make sure as many people as possible can register quickly and easily, organizations often find creative ways (think MTV's Rock the Vote campaign) to meet people where they're at.

Most recently, Planned Parenthood joined the effort to get out the vote for the very first time in its 100-year history.

Planned Parenthood launched a campaign called "My Vote, My Voice" to help people visiting its clinics register to vote.

The program is part of a nonpartisan effort to mobilize volunteers across 45 states to set up "action tables" and help register voters, educate people about area-specific voter ID laws, and even remind people to vote two weeks before the election.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

“We’re launching [the campaign] to help ensure that every voice is heard and every vote is counted in communities across the country. No matter what your political beliefs are, if you don’t or can’t vote, then you can’t elect officials who will keep your best interests in mind,” said Anna Keene, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman.

This particular outreach becomes more significant when you realize who relies on Planned Parenthood's services.

Planned Parenthood operates in all 50 states and provides health services to millions of people every year. According to the organization, 78% of Planned Parenthood's patients are at, or below, the federal poverty line.

Many of them are people of color and live in areas with strict voter ID laws, which can deter them from voting. Educating people on how these laws work and what is required to vote will give a voice to the millions who are being disenfranchised and not having their voices heard.

While "My Voice, My Vote" is a nonpartisan effort to register as many voters as possible (regardless of party affiliation), Planned Parenthood is not strictly a nonpartisan organization.

Audience watches as the president of Planned Parenthood's Action Fund speaks at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Photo by Brendan Smialowsky/AFP/Getty Images.

Planned Parenthood endorsed Hillary Clinton, the first presidential candidate they've ever officially endorsed, and has spent millions boosting her campaign with ads and phone banks. “Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in this race who has made women’s health and rights a priority,” said Deirdre Schifeling, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the endorsement.

Planned Parenthood has become something of a mascot for the ongoing abortion debate, with clinics being attacked or shut down by those who are against it, as well as having its funding threatened by anti-abortion lawmakers who don't seem to realize that taxpayer money can't pay for abortions anyway.

The mission of "My Vote, My Voice" is simply to improve the strength of our democracy and ensure that everyone has the chance to support the candidate they wish.

“If we can’t all participate in our government, we all get cheated,” said Spokeswoman Anna Keene.

So, seriously — if you haven't already — register to vote.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via David Lavaux / Facebook and Google

A farmer in Belgium has caused an international incident by inadvertently redrawing the border between Belgium and France. The farmer moved a border stone that stood on the grounds for over 200 years because it was blocking his tractor.

The two countries share a 390-mile border that was established under a treaty signed in 1820.

The stone, marked 1819, was put in place four years after the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Nearly 50,000 soldiers died in the battle that would determine the border.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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