Friday, June 19, 2009

Teens are Less Likely to Use Contraception

Guttmacher Institute news release: No Crystal Ball Needed: Teens are Heading in the Wrong Direction

Just as Likely to Have Sex, But Less Likely to Use Contraception Than They Were A Few Years Ago

Between 2003 and 2007, the progress made in the 1990s and early 2000s in improving teen contraceptive use and reducing teen pregnancy and childbearing stalled, and may even have reversed among certain groups of teens, according to “Changing Behavior Risk for Pregnancy Among High School Students in the United States, 1991–2007,” by John S. Santelli et al. Between 1991 and 2003, teens’ condom use increased while their use of no contraceptive method declined, leading to a decreased risk of pregnancy and to declines in teen pregnancy and childbearing. These new findings paint a very different picture since 2003.

Using data from young women in grades 9–12 who participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the authors estimated teens’ risk of becoming pregnant based on their sexual activity, the contraceptive method they used and the effectiveness of that method in preventing pregnancy. The authors found no change in teen sexual activity between 2003 and 2007, but did find a small decline in contraceptive use.

“After major improvements in teen contraceptive use in the 1990s and early 2000s, which led to significant declines in teen pregnancy, it is disheartening to see a reversal of such a positive trend,” says lead author John Santelli, M.D., chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Guttmacher Institute senior fellow. “Teens are still having sex, but it appears many are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections."

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 19, 2009 in Medical News, Reproductive Health & Safety, Scholarship and Research, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Health Policy Report Shows a Decline in Childbirth-Related Injuries

Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Childbirth-Related Injuries Decline, Linked with Use of Instruments, AHRQ Report Finds:

There were nearly 158,000 potentially avoidable childbirth-related injuries to women and their infants in 2006, a significant decline from 2000, according to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HealthLeaders Media reports. The report used data submitted for 15 million discharges by 1,900 hospitals in 25 states, including the largest states -- California, New York, Florida and Texas. Between 2000 and 2006, the rate of potentially avoidable injuries during vaginal childbirth without the use of instruments, such as forceps, declined by 30%, according to the report. The injury rate declined by 21.3% for vaginal childbirth using instruments and by 16.7% for women undergoing caesarean sections. Report author Roxanne Andrews of AHRQ said that the report did not examine factors that might have contributed to the declining injury rates but added that it is an area for further study.

The report found that rates of injury were higher when instruments were used during childbirth. For instance, trauma to the woman during vaginal delivery with the use of instruments occurred 160.5 times per 1,000 discharges, compared with 36.2 times when instruments were not used. The report said that the most common injuries to women were perineum tears[.] 

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 19, 2009 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Poll Examines Public Opinion on Obama, Sotomayor and Abortion

The New York Times: Obama Poll Sees Doubt on Budget and Health Care, by Jeff Zeleny and Dalia Sussman:

Obama Judge Sonia Sotomayor, whom Mr. Obama nominated to the Supreme CourtSotomayor three weeks ago, is still widely unknown to the public, the poll found. A majority of people surveyed, 53 percent, said they did not know enough about Judge Sotomayor, who would be the first Hispanic justice, to say whether she should be confirmed. But 74 percent said that it was either very or somewhat important for the Supreme Court to reflect the country’s diversity.

Before the Senate votes on her confirmation, 48 percent of people said her positions on issues like abortion and affirmative action were very important to know about.

The nomination of a Supreme Court justice, as well as the fatal shooting of an abortion doctor in Kansas late last month, injected a fresh dynamic into the national abortion debate. But the poll found essentially no change in the public’s views of abortion in the last two decades, with 36 percent saying it should be generally available, 41 percent saying it should be available but under stricter limits than are now in place and 21 percent saying it should not be permitted....

The issues of abortion and affirmative action sharply divide voters in each major political party. Among Democrats, 71 percent oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, while Republicans are closely divided. And 67 percent of Democrats support affirmative action programs for minorities, while 60 percent of Republicans oppose them.

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 18, 2009 in Abortion, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Public Opinion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Baby Gender Test: Parents File Suit

New York Post: 'Boy Blunder ' Gender Test, by Dareh Gregorian:

Congratulations -- it's a boy! Or a girl!

A group of New York moms has filed suit against the makers of a "99.9-percent accurate" baby-gender test, claiming the results they got were 100 percent wrong.

The product was advertised as "infallibly accurate in foretelling the gender of a healthy baby," and its Web site said the "prediction of your baby's gender is unmistakably correct or we will double your money back."

The Baby Gender Mentor is touted as allowing women as little as five weeks pregnant to tell if they're expecting a boy or a girl, the suit says.

That's nine to 13 weeks sooner than parents normally find out from a sonogram or amniocentesis and typically the cutoff point for abortions -- although no one suggested in the court papers that was the reason they took the test.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, six New York women claim they were given incorrect results from the $275 test, and claim the company, Acu-Gen Biolab, Inc., made them jump through hoops to get their refunds . . . .

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 18, 2009 in Contraception, Current Affairs, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Seeks to Develop Common Ground on Abortion Policy with Faith-Based Office

U.S. News and World Report: Obama Seeks Common Ground on Abortion by, Dan Gilgoff

Whit House

Over the last month or so, the Obama administration has met with ... dozens of ... activists on both sides of the abortion issue as it seeks what it calls "common ground" on thorny reproductive issues, including its goal of reducing demand for abortion. Now, as the White House begins drawing up a policy plan, advocates on both sides are jittery. . . .

The administration is expected to announce its plan as early as this summer, according to those involved in the process. Whether those proposed policies can satisfy the president's pro-abortion rights base while also winning over more conservative religious groups is the biggest test yet for Obama's vow to be a peacemaker in the nation's culture wars.

When Obama rolled out the revamped White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in February, he tasked it with exploring how to "support women and children, address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion." Crafting policy around those goals has been a joint project of the faith-based office and the new White House Council on Women and Girls. Both report to Obama's domestic policy adviser, Melody Barnes, who has led some meetings with outside groups.

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 17, 2009 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Culture, Pregnancy & Childbirth, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is There a Next Generation of Abortion Providers? Is there a next generation of abortion providers?, by Kate Harding:

Is if the threat of violence and divisive politics weren't enough, getting trained is almost impossible"

I vividly remember our abortion training in medical school -- kind of like some people remember experiencing a bad car accident, or a train derailing," says Carolyn, a 28-year-old New England OB-GYN who provides abortions (and asked me not to include her last name or specifics of where she lives and practices). It was 2005, and Carolyn was working nights at an abortion clinic in Oakland, Calif. After ending a shift at 2 a.m., she dragged herself out of bed for a 9 a.m. lecture "because this was going to be the one hour of education we received on elective abortions in two years of didactics."

The professor for that one hour, a family practice doctor, "was very strongly anti-choice. Which would not necessarily have to be an issue if she had been able to present the information honestly and without editorializing." Instead, the doctor gave false information about California state laws regarding abortion -- "she pulled [laws] from other states and acted as though they were nationally valid" -- and promoted long-debunked anti-choice myths like "abortions cause breast cancer" to a roomful of medical students. She then told the class stories about how she'd counseled some of her own patients against abortion . . . . .

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 16, 2009 in Abortion, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Census Data Shows Possibile Trend of Sex Selection

The New York Times: U.S. Births Hint at Bias for Boys in Some Asians, by Sam Roberts:

The trend is buried deep in United States census data: seemingly minute deviations in the proportion of boys and girls born to Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent.

Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection techniques, like in vitro fertilization and sperm sorting, or abortion.

The findings published by Professors Almond and Edlund were bolstered this year by the work of a University of Texas economist, Prof. Jason Abrevaya. He found that on the basis of census and birth records through 2004, the incidence of boys among immigrant Chinese parents in New York was higher than the national average for Chinese families. Boys typically account for about 515 of every 1,000 births. But he found that among Chinese New Yorkers having a third child, the number of boys was about 558.

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 15, 2009 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Talking about Abortion How to talk about abortion, by Frances Kissling:

[I] actually believe in the search for common ground. But I believe in the search and in the process, which is an end in and of itself.

When people who disagree passionately on something important to them take the time to sit down and engage each other, good things happen. At a minimum, they find out the "other" is a human being, not the devil incarnate. Rarely do such efforts culminate in common ground on public policy and then only after years of very hard work. Multiple efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together haven't brought peace to the Middle East and the process of bringing an end to the "troubles" in Northern Ireland took forever. And when near moral absolutes clash, as they do on abortion, claiming you can end the cultural divide with a public policy prescription may actually be an obstacle to achieving more modest, but valuable, objectives. Even the convening power of the White House, which is holding a series of meetings with advocates and opponents of abortion, may come up short on results.

Julie Graves Krishnaswami

June 14, 2009 in Abortion, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Guest Editor, Julie Graves Krishnaswami, Starting Tomorrow

Starting tomorrow, through June 25, my colleague, Julie Graves Krishnaswami, will guest-edit this blog, as I will be out of the country.  Here's her bio:

Julie GK Julie Graves Krishnaswami, Associate Law Library Professor, earned her J.D. from CUNY School of Law, where she was the Symposium and Articles Editor for The New York City Law Review. She received her Masters in Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) from Pratt Institute and her B.A. in history from Reed College.

As an attorney, she worked as a litigator handling class action and appellate litigation, including several nationwide securities and anti-trust class actions. Additionally, she represented non-profit organizations in commercial and municipal litigation. Before joining the firm, she clerked for Judge Susan L. Reisner of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Additionally, she represented public benefit recipients in administrative hearings before the New York City Department of Human Resources Administration. She has also worked for Planned Parenthood Federation of American in Washington, D.C. tracking and researching state legislation on abortion and women's health issues in the public policy/litigation and law department.

June 13, 2009 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Inmate Sues for Being Shackled While in Labor

Chicago Tribune: Ex-Cook County inmate sues for allegedly being shackled while in labor, by :

A former Cook County Jail inmate who was allegedly shackled while giving birth at Stroger Hospital last year filed a federal lawsuit Thursday that alleged the practice violates state law.

Marilu Morales was eight months' pregnant when she was incarcerated in April 2008, according to the lawsuit. It could not be immediately determined on what charges Morales was being held.

When she went into labor three days later, she was taken to Stroger. A sheriff's deputy shackled a hand and foot to the hospital bed, the lawsuit alleged.

June 13, 2009 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DOJ Under Pres. Bush Did Little to Protect Abortion Clinics

Wash. Independent: DOJ Abortion Violence Suits Cratered Under Bush, by Daphne Eviatar:

...Just as federal law specifically penalizes hate crimes, the law also makes it a federal crime to threaten or commit violence against abortion providers, or to vandalize their clinics. Yet as TWI revealed last week, the criminal law was not being enforced. The day after Dr. George Tiller was murdered, TWI obtained data revealing that under the Bush administration, criminal enforcement of the federal law designed to protect abortion providers and clinics had declined by more than 75 percent over the last eight years.

But there’s also a civil component to that federal law, known as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act. That part of the law allows the attorney general to seek an injunction and compensatory damages for anyone who’s been harmed by any activity that violates the law. And it turns out that the Department of Justice over the last eight years didn’t use that part of the law to protect abortion providers, either.

Under the FACE Act, in addition to criminal charges, the Justice Department can obtain damages and an injunction against anyone who “by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with” anyone who provides or receives reproductive health services. It also allows the government to prosecute and sue anyone who “intentionally damages or destroys the property” of an abortion clinic, because they are frequently vandalized as part of protesters’ intimidation tactics. The clinic where Dr. Tiller worked, for example, was repeatedly vandalized, including just days before his murder.

Yet despite these broad powers that Congress granted the attorney general in 1994 to prevent and combat violence against abortion clinics and providers, the Bush administration almost never used them. From 2000 until 2008, during the eight years of the Bush administration, the Justice Department filed only one civil case under the FACE Act. From 1994 until 1999, in contrast, in just five years of the Clinton administration, the Department filed 17 civil cases under the FACE Act — in addition to its much heavier load of criminal cases that we’ve reported before.

June 13, 2009 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Arizona, North Carolina Legislatures Take Action on Abortion, Sex Education

Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Arizona, North Carolina Legislatures Take Action on Abortion, Sex Education Measures:

The following summarizes news coverage on women's health-related legislation in Arizona and North Carolina.

~ Arizona: The Arizona Senate Public Safety and Human Services Committee on Wednesday voted 4-3 to approve a bill (S.B. 1206) that would place several restrictions on abortion rights and allow pharmacists or other health care providers to refuse to distribute emergency contraception based on religious or moral objections. . . .

~ North Carolina: The North Carolina Senate Mental Health and Youth Services Committee this week approved a bill (S. 221) that would require all public school systems to offer information on the use of contraceptives to students in grades seven through nine, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports. The information would be presented as part of a larger reproductive health education program that would maintain the abstinence-only education curricula currently taught at nearly all of the state's 115 school districts. . . .

June 12, 2009 in Abortion, Sexuality Education, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Preparing for Childbirth with the Help of YouTube

By her eighth month of pregnancy, Rebecca Sloan, a 35-year-old biologist living in Mountain View, Calif., had read the what-to-expect books, taken the childbirth classes, joined the mommy chat rooms and still had no idea what she was in for. So, like countless expectant mothers before her, Ms. Sloan typed “childbirth” into YouTube’s search engine. Up popped thousands of videos, showing everything from women giving birth under hypnosis, to Caesarean sections, to births in bathtubs.

“I just wanted to see the whole thing,” Ms. Sloan said. And see it she did, compliments of women like Sarah Griffith, a 32-year-old from the Atlanta area who, when she gave birth to her son Bastian, invited her closest friends to join her. One operated the camera, capturing Ms. Griffith’s writhing contractions, the baby’s crowning head and his first cries. Afterward, Ms. Griffith posted an hour of footage on YouTube in nine installments, which have since been watched more than three million times. “Childbirth is beautiful, and I’m not a private person,” Ms. Griffith said.

June 12, 2009 in Culture, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Report: More Context for Higher Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion Rates Among Women of Color

Guttmacher Institute news release: New Health Disparities Report: More Context for Higher Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion Rates Among Women of Color:

An important new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation documents persistent disparities between white women and women of color on a broad range of health indicators, including rates of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, AIDS and cancer. The report also documents widespread disparities in access to health insurance and health screenings, and finds that there are “racial and ethnic disparities in health status and health care in every state in the nation, often disparities that are quite stark.” It finds, moreover, that “there is growing evidence that social factors (e.g., income, education, occupation, neighborhoods, and housing) are associated with health behaviors, access to health care, and health outcomes.”

The new report provides further strong evidence debunking claims by anti–abortion rights activists, who, ignoring all other contextual factors, have long argued that high abortion rates among minorities are the result of supposed aggressive marketing by abortion providers to minority communities. . . . . . . abortion rates among racial and ethnic minorities—especially blacks and Hispanics—are directly linked to their higher rates of unintended pregnancy, which in turn reflect pervasive health disparities more generally.

June 12, 2009 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Race & Reproduction, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

MTV Documentary Series Addresses Teen Pregnancy and Parenting

Wash. Post: '16 & Pregnant' Deftly Plumbs The Parent Trap, by Tom Shales:

Although they tend to be scheduled erratically and under-publicized, the documentaries that pop up on MTV are often respectable, eye-opening and imaginatively produced. In the case of the latest, "16 and Pregnant," the relevancy of the topic is inarguable, and yet it's also something of a hardy perennial, since teenage pregnancies have long inflicted onerous practical and emotional burdens on the young women, and men, involved.

In fact, says MTV, teenage births are "on the rise for the first time in 15 years," making the six hour-long case studies that make up "16 and Pregnant" especially urgent. The first, at 10 tonight, tells the story of Maci and Ryan, two kids from Chattanooga, Tenn., who try to cope with parenthood years before they're ready.

June 11, 2009 in In the Media, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Concludes Drug for Morning Sickness Is Safe

NY Times: Drug Appears Safe for Morning Sickness, by Roni Caryn Rabin:

Caduceus Morning sickness is an unavoidable part of pregnancy for most women, but many are reluctant to take medications to quell nausea and vomiting. Now one of the largest studies ever done on a commonly used anti-nausea drug, metoclopramide, has concluded it is safe and does not affect fetal development, even when taken during the first trimester, a critical period of development.

The study, released Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed the outcomes of more than 80,000 births in southern Israel over the course of a decade. It found that the 3,458 babies whose mothers were prescribed the drug during the first trimester of pregnancy fared just as well as other babies.

They were no more likely to be born with congenital abnormalities or to have other problems, such as being born prematurely, having a low birth weight or dying, the study found.

June 11, 2009 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pregnancy Discrimination Increasing in the UK

Broadsheet ( Pregnancy discrimination increasing in the UK, by Kate Harding:

Pregnant Woman According to the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission, an estimated 30,000 British women lose their jobs because of pregnancy each year, and with a recession hitting, it's only getting worse. The Guardian reports today that a newly launched coalition of support service organizations, the Alliance Against Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace, says: "The number of pregnant women and new mothers losing their jobs has shown an 'alarming' rise as employers target them for redundancy ahead of childless colleagues."

Camilla Palmer, a lawyer with Alliance member Leigh Day & Co., said the firm was receiving so many calls from women who have been fired during pregnancy or new motherhood, it had to set up a hotline last month to handle them. Rosalind Bragg of Maternity Action also reports "a huge increase" in inquiries about women's legal rights regarding pregnancy discrimination.

June 11, 2009 in International, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paid Sick Days Would Improve Nation’s Health, Study Shows

National Partnership for Women and Families: House Lawmakers Hold Hearing on Family-Friendly Legislation:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — June 11, 2009 — Guaranteeing workers the chance to earn paid sick days would significantly improve the nation’s health, according to powerful new research into the impact of legislation that would give workers a minimum standard of paid sick days that they could use to care for themselves or their family members.

Passing the Healthy Families Act, which would let employees at firms with at least 15 employees earn up to seven paid sick days a year, would have a profoundly positive effect on public and individual health, according to an assessment conducted by Human Impact Partners and released by the National Partnership for Women & Families today at a House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections hearing on family-friendly legislation. . . .

June 11, 2009 in Congress, Parenthood, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

AFJ Releases Report on Judge Sotomayor's Record on Access to the Courts

Alliance for Justice: The Sotomayor Record: Access to Justice:

Alliance for Justice has released the first in a series of in-depth reports examining the record of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. 

Alliance for Justice will release a new report a week, providing thorough analysis of key areas of Judge Sotomayor’s record: access to justice, criminal law, civil rights, constitutional law and business and consumer law.

"Access to justice and the courts encompasses a variety of legal issues including justiciability, preemption, stripping courts of their jurisdiction to hear certain claims, sovereign immunity, recovering attorneys’ fees, interpretations of statutes of limitations, and certifying classes for class-action litigation. ... This report analyzes each of these areas as applied to the record of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court..."

June 10, 2009 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House Passes Bill to Provide Paid Leave for Some New Parents

The House approved a bill that would offer federal employees four weeks of paid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The vote went down mostly along party lines, and if it clears the Senate, President Obama is expected to sign it into law. 

"Today we show that this Congress doesn't just talk about family values -- it values families," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the bill's lead sponsor, according to the Washington Post. "As more families are relying on just one paycheck in these times, we can't afford not to help them in this way."

Some Republicans didn't see it that way. "Maybe we just ought to let federal employees take 16 years off," said Republican Pete Sessions of Texas, according to National Public Radio. "Hello! Hello! Wake up, Washington! We're in a recession, and somebody is going to have to pay for this," citing the bill's cost of about $100 million over five years. Critics further charged that the bill sends a bad message since it increases federal employees' benefits at a time when many American employees are having their benefits cut.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, most U.S. workers can take up to 12 weeks off for the birth or adoption of a child, but employers don't have to pay them during any of that period. . . .


June 10, 2009 in Congress, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)