Wednesday, August 13, 2008

National Zoo's Panda Won't Give Birth

NBC News: Zoo's Giant Panda Will Not Give Birth:

Panda The Smithsonian National Zoo's female giant panda Mei Xiang will not give birth to a cub this year, zoo officials announced Wednesday.Zoo officials said they believe Mei Xiang lost a developing fetus or experienced a false pregnancy, both of which are common among giant pandas.

August 13, 2008 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Abortion Democrats Respond to Democratic Reproductive Rights Plank

...but the political blogs differ on whether they love it or hate it.Dem_convention_4

The Opinionator (NYT): Abortion Rewrites, by Chris Suellentrop:

Pro-life liberals and the Democratic platform: Steven Waldman, the editor-in-chief of Beliefnet, is disappointed by the abortion plank in the draft Democratic platform.

“The key linguistic debate has been whether to ‘reduce the number of abortions’ or ‘reduce the need for abortions,’” Waldman writes on his Beliefnet blog. “Pro-life folks favored the former. Pro-choice folks favored the latter. The pro-choice folks won. In fact, the 2004 platform said abortion ‘should be safe, legal and rare’ — language [that] casts abortion reduction as morally preferable, something this platform does not.”

While the draft platform “includes — for the first time — language specifically designed to reduce the need for abortions,” Waldman says that religious Democrats wanted it to go further, with “moral language casting abortion as a morally inferior choice.”

The Trail (Wash. Post): Conservative Dems Hail Party Platform's New Abortion Plank, by Alec MacGillis:

Barack Obama, meet Ellen Page. Left-leaning opponents of abortion rights are hailing the new Democratic Party platform agreed to last weekend by the Obama campaign and other Democrats as a sign of a new common ground in the abortion debate, right up there with last year's sleeper hit indie film, "Juno," in which Page's offbeat pregnant teen character eschews abortion and gives her baby up for adoption.

On a conference call Tuesday, a half-dozen anti-abortion pro-Democratic thinkers and religious leaders claimed victory for the party's new abortion plank, which they said took a big step in their direction by more explicitly stating the party's support for women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. By doing so, they said, the Democrats were moving closer to the middle ground where most Americans reside -- not wanting to criminalize abortions, but wanting to reduce the number performed.

See also: Political Intelligence (Boston Globe): Abortion foe to address Democratic convention, by Foon Rhee

August 13, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Democratic Platform's Language on Reproductive Rights

Political Radar (ABC News): Dems Adopt Platform in Pittsburgh:

Democrat_donkey ABC News' Teddy Davis reports: A Democratic panel adopted the party's platform "Renewing America's Promise" during a Saturday meeting in Pittsburgh. The statement of party principles will now be presented to the full convention in Denver later this month for a perfunctory vote....

On abortion, Democrats reaffirmed their support for Roe v. Wade and vowed to oppose "any and all efforts" to weaken a woman's right to "choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay."

The “Choice” section goes on to affirm the party’s commitment to a handful of measures that hold the potential for reducing the incidence of abortion.

These include family planning services, sex education, adoption programs, as well as income support and pre- and post-natal health care.

Its reference to reducing "the need for abortions" now reads as follows: “We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions."


A link to the draft platform is available here.  The key language on reproductive rights is found on pages 8 (lines 29-33) and 45 (lines 18-31).  In addition, page 36 includes a section on Global Health that discusses the importance of combatting HIV/AIDS and pledges to repeal the global gag rule, reinstate funding to the United Nations Population Fund, and "expand access to health care and nutrition for women and reduce the burden of maternal mortality."

August 11, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Contraception, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexuality Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers Block Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Damage

ScienceDaily: Damage To Fetal Brain Blocked Following Maternal Alcohol Consumption:

In a study on fetal alcohol syndrome, researchers were able to prevent the damage that alcohol causes to cells in a key area of the fetal brain by blocking acid sensitive potassium channels and preventing the acidic environment that alcohol produces.

The cerebellum, the portion of the brain that is responsible for balance and muscle coordination, is particularly vulnerable to injury from alcohol during development.

The researchers also found that although alcohol lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood of the mother, it is not the lack of oxygen that damages the fetal cerebellum, but the drop in pH.

August 11, 2008 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 8, 2008

AZ Sheriff Violated Inmate's Right to Abortion

Sheriff_badge Arizona Republic: Abortion  pits ACLU  vs. Arpaio, by Michael Kiefer:

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday asked that Sheriff Joe Arpaio be held in contempt of court for violating a 2005 ruling regarding county jail inmates' rights to be transported to clinics to have abortions.

According to a motion filed with Maricopa County Superior Court, in May, an inmate identified as "Mary Roe" asked to be taken from jail to have an abortion and was told she needed to get a court order to do so - when a standing Superior Court injunction prohibits the Sheriff's Office from demanding such court orders.

...Inmate Roe was able to get her abortion four weeks later, which the motion claims put her at added and unnecessary medical risk.

August 8, 2008 in Abortion, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush Administration Appears to Back off of Controversial HHS Regs

Reuters: HHS chief denies new rule to attack contraception, by Maggie Fox:

A widely circulated draft U.S. regulation that would define many forms of contraception as abortion will not be proposed in that form, if at all, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said on Thursday.    

He said the draft, which was denounced by family planning groups, was circulated before he had seen it and would be rewritten....

The proposed regulation as written would have cut off federal funds to hospitals and states that attempt to compel medical providers to offer legal abortion and contraception services to women.

But see: Birth control: is administration backing down -- or not? (Countdown to Crawford blog (LA Times))

August 8, 2008 in Abortion, Contraception, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Right-Wing Attack on Contraception

Science Progress: Contraception Is the New Abortion: The Latest Right Wing Trend? Attack Birth Control, by Jessica Arons (7/28):

Bc_pills The Bush administration has taken its latest swipe at contraception, but again under the pretense of opposing abortion. By manipulating scientific facts, the Department of Health and Human Services hopes to enshrine in federal law a conservative, ideological interpretation of pregnancy that has the potential to significantly limit women’s access to contraception.

...This is just the most recent attempt in a longstanding campaign by social conservatives to turn discomfort with abortion into opposition to contraception. Instead of being upfront about their genuine, but unpopular, position that contraception is morally wrong, right wing groups have tried to confuse people into thinking that the most common forms of birth control used by women actually cause abortion.

August 5, 2008 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 4, 2008

US H.I.V Rate Widely Underreported

The New York Times: H.I.V. Study Finds Rate 40% Higher than Estimated, by Lawrence K. Altman:

Aids MEXICO CITY — The United States has significantly underreported the number of new H.I.V infections occurring nationally each year, with a study released here on Saturday showing that the annual infection rate is 40 percent higher than previously estimated.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that 56,300 people became newly infected with H.I.V in 2006, compared with the 40,000 figure the agency has cited as the recent annual incidence of the disease.

Click here for more information on the CDC study.

August 4, 2008 in Medical News, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Study Shows Most Maternal Deaths in US are Not Preventable

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Maternal Death in the 21st Century: Causes, Prevention and Relationship to Caesarean Delivery by, Clark et al

Volume 199, Issue 1, Pages 36.e1-36.e5 (July 2008)

Pregnant_2_2 Conclusion: Most maternal deaths are not preventable. Preventable deaths are equally likely to result from actions by nonmedical persons as from provider error. Given the diversity of causes of maternal death, no systematic reduction in maternal death rate in the United States can be expected unless all women undergoing cesarean delivery receive thromboembolism prophylaxis. Such a policy would be expected to eliminate any statistical difference in death rates caused by cesarean and vaginal delivery.

August 2, 2008 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)