Wednesday, June 22, 2016
The Atlantic, June 14, 2016 Can the U.S. End Teen Pregnancy?, by Caitlin Cadieux, Olga Khazan, Nicolas Pollock:
An animated video by the Atlantic discusses teen pregnancy in the U.S.:
Teen birth rates in the U.S. are down 9 percent from 2013, and they are the lowest they’ve been since 1940. However, America still has the highest teen pregnancy rate among 21 similar countries. Why is this? In this video, staff writer Olga Khazan explores how poverty, culture, and religion can all play a role.
New York Times (June 16, 2016): C.D.C. Reports 234 Pregnant Women in U.S. With Zika, by Sabrina Tavernise:
The number of pregnant women infected with the Zika virus in the U.S. has risen to 234. The CDC reported 6 cases of abnormalities: three deaths before birth and three babies born with birth defects. However, the CDC did not disclose how many of the infected women gave birth, making it difficult to determine how great a risk Zika poses as a cause of birth defects. The CDC also reported that 189 pregnant women were infected with Zika in U.S. territories including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands but did not provide any birth outcomes for the group.
Dr. Denise Jamison, a leader of the CDC's pregnancy and birth defects team, stated that the CDC hopes to provide more information on birth outcomes in Zika pregnancies as the number of births rise.
“We’re sort of in a hard place,” Dr. Jamieson said. “We can’t provide a lot of information about where these women are in their pregnancy. We don’t want to inadvertently disclose information about difficult decisions these women are making about their pregnancies.
She said the numbers included the nine pregnant women the C.D.C. had reported on in February. Of the babies in those cases, at least one was born with microcephaly.
Dr. Jamieson stated that the estimated risk of birth defects based on available data is between 1 and 15%.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Refinery 29 (June 16, 2016): Denied Birth Control, Teens Still Have Sex — Unsafe Sex, by Hayley MacMillen:
From the 2016 International Conference on Family Planning in Indonesia, Refinery 29 provides first hand accounts of young people denied safe sex options and education. A recent Lancet study has identified unsafe sex as the fastest growing risk factor for ill health for young people around the world. At the conference, attendees stressed the importance of accurate, as well as widespread, sex ed to all adolescents. Haley MacMillen writes:
Birth control fallacies are, of course, not limited to East Africa but crop up wherever medically accurate, comprehensive sex ed is withheld. When I ask Philippines-based journalist and sex columnist Ana Santos, another attendee of the International Conference on Family Planning, about contraception myths in her country, she’s armed with some horrifying ones. People believe that "jumping after sex will prevent pregnancy" — although she notes, drily, that "a jump from what height is never mentioned" — and that "drinking coconut juice laced with bleach or Tide detergent will wash away the spermies." And since condoms can be hard to come by, people, especially young people, wrap Calypso plastic, a brand used to package iced candy, around their penises instead. "Totally ouchy, right?" Santos asks. Yes. And ineffective.
The article emphasizes the need for comprehensive sex ed - both internationally and locally - in order to help young people around the world and around the corner.
Friday, June 17, 2016
Refinery 29 (May 28, 2016): Unsafe Sex Is Now The Biggest Health Risk Among Women Worldwide, by Sara Coughlin
Researchers tracked health trends of participants for over 23 years in order to determine the causes of death among them. While the prevalence of STI's weren't even ranking as a major risk factor at the time the study commenced, they shot up the scale to the number one cause of death by the end, strikingly. This pattern seems to be a worldwide trend, bolstering the importance of getting tested, as well as communicating frankly and effectively to young people about the risks associated with unprotected sex, and how to stay safe when sexually active.
The report, which was published in theLancet and is the result of a commission to look at health challenges facing young people worldwide, found that today's teens are growing up in a world where preventable and treatable health issues, such as HIV/AIDS and unplanned pregnancy, abound. Among the most shocking findings of the report: For women between the ages of 10 and 24, unsafe sex is the fastest-growing risk factor for illness and death worldwide.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Ms. Magazine Blog (Feb. 19, 2016): Menstrual Products are Taxed in 40 States. Here's What You Can Buy Tax-Free, by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf:
Public attention has recently focused on sales taxes on menstrual-health products across the country. Such taxes impact women disproportionately, and particularly poor women. Even President Obama commented on the issue last month when prompted by YouTube star, Ingrid Nilsen. Response to the issue has varied from state to state.
Since January, there has been a flurry of activity in state houses across the country, with “Tampon Tax” bills introduced or resurrected in California, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Utah,Virginia and Wisconsin, most with bipartisan sponsorship. The City of Chicago introduced a comparable ordinance, along with a statement of approval from Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
While some argue that taxes cannot be lifted due to state budgetary concerns, all state tax codes already exempt some products from sales tax, including pop-tarts, garter belts, and snowmaking equipment. As such, state legislatures may opt to subsidize the basic health products for women in the United States.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
RH Reality Check (Feb. 18, 2016): Pope Francis Suggests that Contraception May Be Acceptable for Catholics Fearing Zika Virus, by Jodi Jacobson:
The Zika virus, now found in 34 countries, may cause microcephaly in infants born to recently infected women. Some countries, including El Salvador, have responded to the recent increase in microcephaly by advising that women avoid pregnancy for up to two years. Last week, Pope Francis responded to questions about Zika virus, saying that it may be acceptable for Catholics to use contraception to avoid pregnancy when fearing possible infection.
Asked during a press conference whether abortion or birth control could be considered a “lesser evil” in response to the Zika virus, which appears to be linked to birth defects, the Pope replied that he believes abortion is a crime and is never acceptable, but that the use of modern birth control (“artificial contraception” in church parlance) may be permitted in exceptional circumstances.
Abortion “is an evil in and of itself” the Pope claimed. “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” he said, referring to prior circumstances in which the church has sanctioned the use of birth control, such as in the 1960s, when nuns were subject to rape as a weapon of war in the Belgian Congo.
The Pope's statements may encourage Catholic countries to make contraceptives more readily available, thus avoiding increased birth defects due to Zka virus.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Last week, the Nuestro Texas campaign—a joint project of the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health—issued a report documenting a women’s human rights hearing held last March in the Rio Grande Valley. Lately, Texas has made front-page headlines because a challenge to HB 2 a Texas abortion statute is making its way to the Supreme Court. Abortion access was very much an issue at the hearing, but the testimony made it clear that the human rights problems in the Valley are much broader and deeper.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Jezebel: Legalizing Prostitution Could Lower the Spread of HIV by One-Third, by Hillary Crosley:
Here's a crazy thought; legalizing prostitution could reduce the number of international HIV infections for female sex workers by at least a third in several countries. Health experts presented this new research drawn from Canada, India and Kenya during the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday. . . .
Saturday, July 26, 2014
The Hill - Contributors blog: Debunking the bad science on abortion and women's health, by Andrea Flynn:
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), a bill that would prevent unnecessary restrictions on abortions and abortion providers. The opposition used overblown and often incorrect claims to drive home the familiar message that abortion is dangerous, bad for women and shouldn't be considered part of women's healthcare.
In the face of tireless attacks on reproductive rights, it is important to revisit those claims, set the record straight and remind the opposition of the real health threats facing too many U.S. families. . . .
Monday, January 20, 2014
Jezebel: American Gets and Embarassing C- in Women's Reproductive Health, by Erin Gloria Ryan:
The Population Institute has released its annual State of Reproductive Health And Rights report card, and it seems that in the opinion of the massive educational nonprofit, America isn't doing so hot. If America were a high schooler, America would be grounded until America gets its grades up, otherwise America won't be getting into any colleges.
The report consolidates information most people who have been paying attention to the news probably suspected: as the federal government attempts to expand access to reproductive health care, right wing ideologues at the state level are working busily to ensure that women can't physically access the care the federal government is trying to expand. . . .
The fifty-state report is available here.
Monday, December 30, 2013
NPR: Abortion Rights Groups Say It's Time To Stop Playing Defense, by Kathy Lohr:
Abortion rights activists are working on a counterattack to the 200 bills that have passed in states across the U.S. since 2010.
In the past three years, Republican-led legislatures have backed bills to regulate abortions and the doctors and clinics that perform them.
. . .So abortion rights activists say they're pushing a new legislative strategy. . . .
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The New York Times: Bishops Sued Over Policies on Abortion at Hospitals, by Erik Eckholm:
The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.
The suit was filed in federal court in Michigan on Friday on behalf of a woman who says she did not receive accurate information or care at a Catholic hospital there, exposing her to dangerous infections after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. . . .
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Miami Herald: Unsafe abortions: Haiti’s abortion crisis, by Jacqueline Charles:
. . .Abortion is illegal in Haiti but women and girls are losing their uteruses and their lives as they turn to clandestine, increasingly deadly ways to terminate their pregnancies. These unsafe abortions are leading to a public health crisis in a region with one of the world’s highest rates of unintended pregnancies, experts say. . . .
Friday, November 22, 2013
Arizona Willing to Sacrifice Pregnancy Prevention and Other Women's Health Services in Zeal to Attack Abortion
The American Prospect: Razing Arizona Women's Health Care, by Amelia Thomson-Deveaux:
Like Napoleon forging into the Russian winter, anti-choice politicians are loath to give up on abortion restrictions, however minor, until the Supreme Court forces them to. On Wednesday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a law that would strip Medicaid funding from doctors and clinics who perform abortions. Poor women already can’t use federal dollars to cover abortion procedures—that’s been illegal since the late 1970s. The law, which was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in August, instead would prevent the state’s abortion providers from being reimbursed by Medicaid for providing any kind of care to low-income women, whether it’s breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, or contraceptive services. . . .
Indiana made a similar bid for the Supreme Court’s attention after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down its law, which prohibited Planned Parenthood from receiving state or federal funds. But the justices refused to hear the case. Caitlin Borgmann, a professor of law at the City University of New York, says it’s unlikely, given the justices’ unwillingness to hear Indiana’s appeal, that Arizona’s petition will be successful. “To read the statute as broadly as Arizona wants would allow the state to exclude providers for any reason,” says Borgmann. “Such a precedent ought to give the Supreme Court pause too, because its implications extend far beyond abortion.” . . .
It’s undeniable that without programs like Medicaid, which help low-income women afford contraception, the abortion rate in the country would be much higher. . . . “Laws like these reveal the anti-abortion rights movement for what it is,” Borgmann says. “Their goal is to be punitive and prevent access to abortion, not come up with solutions to help women make autonomous decisions about their health.” . . .
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Californians seeking an abortion have more access to care under a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) Wednesday.
The law authorizes nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and certified nurse midwives to perform aspirations, a type of first-trimester abortion that involves inserting a small tube through the cervix to remove the fetus. Before the bill was passed, only doctors could perform such procedures. . . .
See also: The Los Angeles Times: New California abortion law: More dangerous than skydiving?, by Robin Abcarian:
. . . The low complication rate, of course, did not stop antiabortion groups from rallying against the bill, including some who used breathtakingly disingenuous arguments.
Last May, for instance, Steve Macias, a California Republican Party officer and executive director of the antiabortion group Cherish California’s Children, said the new law would legalize back-alley abortions. He also claimed that first-trimester abortions are more dangerous than skydiving. . . .
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Ramya Kumar (Dalla Lana School of Public Health) has posted Misoprostol and the Politics of Abortion in Sri Lanka on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Misoprostol, a WHO essential medicine indicated for labour induction, management of miscarriage and post-partum hemorrhage, as well as for induced abortion and treatment of post-abortion complications, came up for registration in Sri Lanka in December 2010. The decision on registration was postponed, indefinitely. This has wide-ranging implications, as misoprostol is widely available and used, including by health professionals in Sri Lanka, without guidance or training in its use. This paper attempts to situate the failure to register misoprostol within the broader context of unsafe abortion, drawing on data from interviews with physicians and health policymakers in Sri Lanka. It demonstrates how personal opposition to abortion infiltrates policy decisions and prevents the issue of unsafe abortion being resolved. Any move to reform abortion law and policy in Sri Lanka will require a concerted effort, spearheaded by civil society. Women and communities affected by the consequences of unsafe abortion need to be involved in these efforts. Regardless of the law, women will access abortion services if they need them, and providers will provide them. Decriminalizing abortion and registering abortion medications will make provision of abortion services safer, less expensive and more equitable.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Salon: Long Term Study Debunks Myth of the "Crack Baby", by Katie McDonough:
After nearly 25 years of research, one of the nation’s largest long-term studies on the so-called “crack baby” epidemic of the 1980s has concluded that there are no statistically significant differences in the long-term health and life outcomes between full-term babies exposed to cocaine in-utero and those who were not.
Instead, researchers found poverty to be a key determining factor in how well children performed later in life. As Hallam Hurt, the former chair of neonatology at Albert Einstein Medical Center and the study’s lead researcher, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine.” . . .
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The New York Times: HPV Vaccine Not Reaching Enough Girls, C.D.C. Says, by Sabrina Tavernise:
The very low vaccination rate for teenage girls against the human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection and a principal cause of cervical cancer — did not improve at all from 2011 to 2012, and health officials on Thursday said a survey found that doctors were often failing to bring it up or recommend it when girls came in for other reasons. . . .
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The New York Times: Report Finds Gradual Fall in Female Genital Cutting in Africa, by Celia W. Dugger:
A comprehensive new assessment of the ancient practice of female genital cutting has found a gradual but significant decline in many countries, even in some where it remains deeply entrenched.
Teenage girls are now less likely to have been cut than older women in more than half of the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated, according to the assessment by the United Nations Children’s Fund. . . .
Monday, July 15, 2013
The New York Times: A Pill Available in Mexico Is a Texas Option for Abortion, by Eric Eckholm:
At the Whole Woman’s Health center here, a young woman predicted what others would do if the state’s stringent new abortion bill approved late Friday forces clinics like this one to close: cross the border to Mexico to seek an “abortion pill.” . . .