Sunday, September 23, 2007
Christopher Beam and Nick Summers write in Sunday's Washington Post that stories of rampant sex on college campuses are exaggerated:
...By e-mail and instant message, we canvassed some friends for our blog: Forget the kinky part; how often are you having sex at all? Here are some of the responses:
"Once every six months. Columbia is a rough world for single people."
"The average in the engineering school is probably like once a semester."
"Either I missed out or everyone else in college isn't having sex at all."
"Random hookups do happen, but it is probably rare for most students. At night people just go back to their rooms and finish their homework, or maybe heat up a Hot Pocket."
Tantalizing! Having eaten a Hot Pocket or two ourselves, we will vouch that there's a lot more truth to these kids' answers than what you see on CollegeHumor.com. Statistics bear this out. In a 2000 Zogby poll, 40 percent of students nationwide reported that they were not "sexually active" -- a term left vague enough to include everything from kissing to soliciting strangers in a Minneapolis airport men's room. At the country's top schools, the dry spells approach levels not seen since 1930s Dust Bowl Oklahoma. Harvard's health department reported last year that 47 percent of students there said they had not yet had vaginal intercourse. (Numbers not adjusted for homosexuality, apparently.) At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a 2001 survey found that only 51 percent of undergrads had lost their virginity; at Princeton the same year, the student body was 44 percent pure.
Via the New York Times (9/22):
A much-heralded H.I.V. vaccine has failed to work in a large clinical trial, dealing another serious setback to efforts to stop the AIDS epidemic.
The vaccine’s developer, Merck, said yesterday that it had halted test vaccinations after the vaccine failed to prevent infection or reduce the severity of infection among volunteers who became infected during the trial.
The trial was closely watched because experts considered the vaccine one of most promising to be tested on people so far.
In Sunday's New York Times, Jeffrey Rosen writes, in The Unlikely Liberal:
The last Supreme Court term, which ended in June, was the stormiest in recent memory, with more 5-to-4 decisions split along ideological lines than at any time in the court’s history. In a series of controversial cases about abortion, racial integration in schools, faith-based programs and the death penalty, the court’s four more conservative justices prevailed, with Justice
Anthony M. Kennedy providing the crucial fifth vote. The four more liberal justices were often moved to dissent in unusually personal and vehement terms. “It is my firm conviction,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the case striking down race-based enrollment policies in public schools, “that no Member of the Court that I joined in 1975 would have agreed with today’s decision.” According to the gossip among Supreme Court law clerks, the level of tension among the justices is higher than at any point since Bush v. Gore in 2000.
Not long after beginning his tenure as chief justice in 2005, John G. Roberts Jr. announced publicly that he would try to promote unanimity and collegiality on the court. During his first months on the job, the court managed to achieve his goal, issuing a series of 9-to-0 opinions. But this past term, the court’s first full one with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the brief period of harmony abruptly ended: the percentage of 5-to-4 decisions in which the four liberals were together in dissent rose to 80 percent, up from 55 percent in the 2004 term. For the foreseeable future, the court seems likely to be polarized, with the conservative bloc ascendant and the liberal bloc embattled.
Justice Stevens, the oldest and arguably most liberal justice, now finds himself the leader of the opposition.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
According to the Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, Merck reports that its HPV vaccine Gardasil gives significant protection against 10 strains of the virus, in addition to the 4 strains targeted by the vaccine.
The new data found that Gardasil reduced by nearly two-thirds the incidence of precancerous lesions caused by HPV for three of the most common HPV strains found in North America after strains 16 and 18. The three strains cause about 11% of cervical cancers worldwide. According to the AP/Daily News, the finding means that Gardasil provides at least partial protection to 90% of HPV strains that cause cervical cancer.
It is estimated that the finding could prevent between 30,000 and 40,000 cervical cancer cases annually by encouraging greater use of the drug in developing countries, where some of the additional strains are widespread.
Via The Independent (UK):
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, is under growing pressure to impose rules on a hospital in north London, banning doctors from offering contraception or referring patients for abortions.
The cardinal is facing calls from a lobby group to use his position as "arbiter of ethics" at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, a private Catholic hospital in St John's Wood, to insist on the implementation of a code of ethics which forbids any medical practices banned by the Vatican. These include IVF for infertile couples and amniocentesis tests to detect Down's syndrome in unborn children.
Campaigners said yesterday that they intend to ask the Pope to intervene directly in the dispute if Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor does not take the action they want, which includes preventing an NHS-funded general practice due to open at the hospital in November from offering family planning services, including referrals for abortions and prescribing contraceptives.
Friday, September 21, 2007
10th Cir. Court of Appeals Affirms Decision that Healthcare Providers Are Not Required to Report Consensual Sex Between Minors
Via The Hays Daily News (9/18/07):
An appeals court has dismissed an appeal of a federal judge's decision that health care providers and others are not required under Kansas law to report underage sex between consenting adolescents.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Tuesday that the case became moot because Kansas lawmakers repealed the state's sexual abuse reporting law and replaced it with a new one that became effective Jan. 1.
The appeal was filed by former Attorney General Phill Kline, after his office lost a challenge to his interpretation of the statute. Attorney General Paul Morrison joined in a motion filed by an abortion-rights advocacy group seeking the dismissal of Kline's appeal.
"This case is important because this effort by (then) Attorney General Kline posed a great threat to the health and well-being of teenagers in the state of Kansas. This ruling is a great victory for teenagers in Kansas," said Bonnie Scott Jones, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.
Via the Associated Press:
LEWISTON, Maine - A Lewiston woman who was upset by the content of an acclaimed sex education book published 14 years ago has checked out copies from two libraries and refuses to give them back.
"Since I have been sufficiently horrified of the illustrations and the sexually graphic, amoral abnormal contents, I will not be returning the books," JoAn Karkos wrote the Lewiston and Auburn public libraries last month.
Each letter was accompanied by a check for $20.95 to cover the cost of the book, "It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex & Sexual Health."
"This has never happened before," said Rick Speer, director of the Lewiston Public Library. "It is clearly theft."
Via the New York Times:
The men in this poor farming community were seething. A 13-year-old girl was brought to a doctor’s office to have her clitoris removed, a surgery considered necessary here to preserve chastity and honor.
The girl died, but that was not the source of the outrage. After her death, the government shut down the clinic, and that got everyone stirred up.
“They will not stop us,” shouted Saad Yehia, a tea shop owner along the main street. “We support circumcision!” he shouted over and over.
Circumcision, as supporters call it, or female genital mutilation, as opponents refer to it, was suddenly a ferocious focus of debate in Egypt this summer. A nationwide campaign to stop the practice has become one of the most powerful social movements in Egypt in decades, uniting an unlikely alliance of government forces, official religious leaders and street-level activists.
Though Egypt’s Health Ministry ordered an end to the practice in 1996, it allowed exceptions in cases of emergency, a loophole critics describe as so wide that it effectively rendered the ban meaningless. But now the government is trying to force a comprehensive ban.
Not only was it unusual for the government to shut down the clinic, but the health minister has also issued a decree banning health care workers— or anyone — from conducting the procedure for any reason. Beyond that, the Ministry of Religious Affairs also issued a booklet explaining why the practice was not called for in Islam; Egypt’s grand mufti, Ali Gomaa, declared it haram, or prohibited by Islam; Egypt’s highest religious official, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, called it harmful; television advertisements have been shown on state channels to discourage it; and a national hot line was set up to answer the public’s questions about genital cutting.
Via TPM Election Central:
Presidential hopeful Sam Brownback introduced the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, which would require doctors to perform an ultrasound on women seeking abortions.
According to Brownback in his office's press release ,
"It is necessary and right to provide a woman seeking an abortion with all the available information so that she may make the most informed decision possible. The Ultrasound Informed Consent Act would ensure that women have access to important information. I am hopeful that this bill will inform women and will cause a deeper reflection on the humanity of unborn children. It is important to promote a culture that values life in all stages."
Brownback claims that the legislation burdens the doctor, not the woman, because the woman may refuse to view the ultrasound images after they are made available to her.
Via New York Times:
New York is rejecting millions of dollars in federal grants for abstinence-only sex education, the state health commissioner, Dr. Richard F. Daines, announced yesterday. The decision puts New York in line with at least 10 other states that have decided to forgo the federal money in recent years.
New York has received roughly $3.5 million a year from the federal government for abstinence-only education since 1998. The abstinence program was approved as part of welfare overhauls under the Clinton administration and was expanded and restructured under President Bush.
In a statement posted on the Health Department’s Web site, Dr. Daines said, “The Bush administration’s abstinence-only program is an example of a failed national health care policy directive.” He added that the policy was “based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence that must be the cornerstone of good public health care policy.”
The state had also spent $2.6 million annually to fund the same programs over the last decade. That money will now be spent on other existing programs for sex education, Dr. Daines said in an interview.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Via Scientific American:
Researchers say they have found a way to pluck out a potent type of stem cell from the testes of adult mice and transform it into other kinds of tissue, including heart muscle and blood vessels. The result—the second such finding in the past year—suggests that similar cells from human testicles might have similar powers, paving the way to creating replacement tissue for men who have suffered damage from heart attacks or other injuries and avoiding some of the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells (ESC).
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Via The Austrialian (9/18/07):
Heather D'Agnes, head of the population-health-environment program in the US Agency for International Development, said a rapid reduction in population growth in developing countries would play a critical role in reducing demand for energy and pressure on other environmental systems such as fisheries and land clearing.
Visiting Australia for a series of meetings and forums this week, Ms D'Agnes said aggressive programs to keep the global population to the low end of growth ranges - between 7 billion and 11 billion by 2050 - was often overlooked as a relatively inexpensive and effective response to managing climate change.
The world's population is growing by about 80 million people each year, with almost all of this occurring in less developed countries, led by India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
In 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo estimated it would cost $17 billion a year to roll out comprehensive family planning strategies in developing countries, excluding China and the Eastern Bloc countries.
Ms D'Agnes said slowing population growth would also alleviate poverty and improve health standards.
Via Florida Today:
For the first time, Brevard Public Schools teachers are required to deliver 12 standardized sex education lessons to high school students that include information on the effectiveness of contraceptives.
The sex education training for 40 health and physical education teachers was part of a district-wide professional development day, which included sessions for all 5,000 teachers in their subject areas, from math and science to reading. The district's nearly 75,000 students had the day off.
Before this year, the district's abstinence-based curriculum only gave students contraceptive information in the context of a "failed approach" and did not include discussion about condoms and birth control "except through student-initiated questions."
But last month, the school board approved a new guideto the curriculum that covers contraceptives, including a chart that details the effectiveness and failure rates of condoms and other preventative methods. The board also banned outside groups, including the county health department, from teaching sex ed.
Josh Drobnyk writes for The Swamp:
Sen. Arlen Specter added more than two dozen spending requests for abstinence education programs in Pennsylvania to a bill that passed a Senate committee this summer, the latest effort by the Pennsylvania Republican to boost federal spending on such programs....
The more than $1 million -- to be doled out in 25 grants each worth between $30,000 and $80,000 -- would go to hospitals, school districts and social service organizations throughout the state and supplement a growing federal effort to persuade unmarried people to abstain from sex. But critics say the requests bypass the government's competitive bidding process.
Specter, who added the ''earmarks'' to the Labor and Health and Human Services appropriations measure that passed the panel in June, is the only lawmaker in Congress to sponsor a spending request for abstinence education, according to a database of appropriations bills compiled by Washington-based watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense. The bill still needs Senate, House and White House approval.
Specter's support for abstinence education is a long-held but lesser-known position of the five-term lawmaker, a move that could soften his image among moral conservatives as an abortion-rights supporter.
The New Face of Women's Legal History Symposium brings together legal scholars and historians to focus on modern scholarship reviving and recreating the field of women's history. The broad theme reaches the diverse array of topics that form the base of recent work in gender and legal scholarship. The annual symposium is part of the tradition growing out of The University of Akron's Constitutional Law Center.
Reva Siegel (Yale) will be the keynote speaker.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Eric Johnson, New York Times Op-Ed Contributor, writes:
To the disbelief of the political class, Rudy Giuliani still leads the polls in the race for the Republican nomination for president. Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson seem unable to compete with conservative affection for a thrice-married, twice-divorced, socially liberal New Yorker.
Perhaps I can help alleviate the pundits’ bafflement. I am a fervent pro-lifer, and I like Rudy Giuliani. And it’s not because, as some suggest, I think national security is more important than abortion. I think Mr. Giuliani will be the most effective advocate for the pro-life cause precisely because he is unreligious and a supporter of abortion rights.
Unlike Mr. Huckabee or Sam Brownback, who are deeply religious and reliably pro-life, Mr. Giuliani has said he attends Catholic Mass only “occasionally” and he ducks questions about his personal faith. Mr. Giuliani’s lack of religious devotion gives him the potential to upend the nation’s moribund abortion debate....
Johnson mentions that Giuliani supports the Hyde Amendment (which bans public funding for most abortions for low income women), but in 1989 Giuliani spoke in favor of publicly funded abortions for women who cannot afford them. See Giuliani Caught On YouTube. See also: Giuliani to Stop Waffling on Abortion (No, really! Cross his heart and hope to die!).
Rebecca J. Cook, Bernard Dickens, and Joanna Erdman on "Emergency Contraception, Abortion, and Evidence-Based Law"
Rebecca J. Cook, Bernard Dickens, and Joanna Erdman (all of University of Toronto, Faculty of Law) have posted Emergency Contraception, Abortion, and Evidence-Based Law on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Courts and legal tribunals increasingly decline to serve as religious or moral guardians, and require social evidence to support litigants' claims. Recent cases on emergency contraception and abortion are examined to show how judicial interpretations can take account of evidence of the impact that different understandings of the law will have for how ordinary people can plan their lives and reproductive choices. In an emergency contraception case, an interpretation was rejected that would have criminalized choices that millions of decent, law-abiding physicians, pharmacists and women routinely make. In an abortion case, three judges unanimously rejected a government ministry's defence of compliance with the law because the ministry had failed to investigate the needs within its jurisdiction for legal clarity, lawful services, and its responsibility to women returning from having lawful procedures elsewhere. In both cases, litigants prevailed who showed factual evidence that their claims better promoted reproductive health and choice.
Ghana: Positive developments in abortion care: Can high death rates from unsafe abortion be reduced?
Lauren Taylor for The Statesman (Ghana):
New faculties for Comprehensive Abortion Care and family planning will be built at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the University of Legon starting in October this year, the Head of department for Gynecology and Obstetrics at Korle-Bu revealed yesterday.
In an interview with The Statesman Professor E Y Kwawukume said that two buildings will be constructed at the Teaching Hospital specifically for training centres in comprehensive abortion care and family planning.
At present Comprehensive Abortion Care is not including in medical school curriculums but a US based organisation, Buffatt, is working with the Teaching Hospital to make the plans possible.
Prof Kwawukume explained that the facilities will allow teaching of medical students, nurses and doctors on CAC, including practical training in abortion procedures and counseling, building on the elements already included in the syllabus such as post abortion care and family planning.
"This development is good for Ghana and good for the world", he said, "Other countries have adequate abortion care, why can't we give the best to our own people here?" He added that family planning facilities are not currently good enough and because the Korle-Bu authorities are not willing to help, Buffatt has stepped in to facilitate in bringing Comprehensive Abortion Care to Ghana.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Via The New York Times:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 — Senate and House negotiators said Sunday that they had agreed on a framework for a compromise bill that would provide health insurance to four million uninsured children while relaxing some of the limits on eligibility imposed by the Bush administration.
The compromise, which resembles a bill passed by the Senate with bipartisan support, sets the stage for a battle with President Bush, who has denounced similar legislation as a step “down the path to government-run health care for every American.”
Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Sunday, “The House and the Senate still appear to be far away from legislation that we would find acceptable.”
Republicans will come under political pressure to support the compromise. But if the president vetoes it, he will probably have enough votes in the House to sustain his veto, Republicans say.
The compromise would increase tobacco taxes to finance health insurance for more children.