Monday, November 30, 2009

Moms Increasingly Rely on iPhone

Slate Magazine: Mother's Little Helper, by Michael Agger:

The iPhone is the ultimate kid-pacification device

Iphone Move over, patio man. My new favorite demographic is the iPhone mom. A recent survey from a mobile-advertising company says that iPhone moms make up 25 percent of iPhone users and rely on their phone for such things as: scheduling! Store locating! Downloading coupons! All very nice, but the key stat is that 59 percent of these moms let their children use the phone. That leaves me wondering what's up with the other 41 percent. The iPhone is the ultimate kid-pacification device.

The iPhone moms (and dads) walk a fine line when they hand over their phone. (In mobile-scholarship circles, this behavior is known as the "pass-back.") Typically, iPhone parents are the kind who limit TV and "screen time" and would cringe at buying a Nintendo DS for a 4-year-old. This is the wooden-toy crowd, who plan to sign up Sophie for Suzuki any day now. Yet, they—OK, me—really love their iPhones. So sleek, so intuitive—and isn't it incredible that even a 1-year-old can figure out how to use it? . . . .

November 30, 2009 in Current Affairs, Parenthood, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

South Korea Tested by Recent Boom of Mixed Children

NY Times: Baby Boom of Mixed Children Tests South Korea, by Martin Fackler:

South Korea YEONGGWANG, South Korea — Just a few years ago, the number of pregnant women in this city had declined so much that the sparsely equipped two-room maternity ward at Yeonggwang General Hospital was close to shutting down. But these days it is busy again.

More surprising than the fact of this miniature baby-boom is its composition: children of mixed ethnic backgrounds, the offspring of Korean fathers and mothers from China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. These families have suddenly become so numerous that the nurses say they have had to learn how to say “push” in four languages.

It is a similar story across South Korea, where hundreds of thousands of foreign women have been immigrating in recent years, often in marriages arranged by brokers. They have been making up for a shortage of eligible Korean women, particularly in underdeveloped rural areas like this one in the nation’s southwest.

Now, these unions are bearing large numbers of mixed children, confronting this proudly homogeneous nation with the difficult challenge of smoothly absorbing them. . . .

November 30, 2009 in Culture, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

World AIDS Day: U.S. Policies Still Lag

 Guttmacher Institute news release: World AIDS Day-- U.S. Policies Still Not Where They Need to Be:

AIDS ribbon World AIDS Day presents an opportunity to examine where we stand in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. One clear area of progress is the high degree of consensus at the global level that better linkages between HIV and reproductive health services are key both in meeting the needs of HIV-positive women and men and in preventing HIV transmission.

A solid body of evidence now demonstrates that these linkages are especially important in countries with high HIV prevalence and weak health infrastructures. It makes eminent sense to offer sexually active women the services they need—whether related to HIV or to reproductive health—in settings they already frequent. Women should be able to receive HIV testing, counseling and referrals at sites that they visit regularly to obtain family planning services. In turn, they should be able to obtain family planning counseling and services to help them to avert pregnancies they don’t want at places they visit to receive HIV services.

But while the global community recognizes the crucial role of linking these services, U.S. policy lags. Unaccountably, the law that guides the U.S. global AIDS program (PEPFAR), although revised and reauthorized little more than a year ago, fails to mention these linkages at all.

In fact, U.S. policy—unquestionably strong in the AIDS treatment area—lags generally in terms of HIV prevention. In no area is this more so than in its failure to adequately meet the needs of young people. PEPFAR still overemphasizes abstinence as the officially preferred strategy to prevent sexual transmission of HIV among all unmarried people, and imposes many restrictions on young people’s ability to receive comprehensive sex education and to obtain condoms. . . .

November 30, 2009 in International, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Book Review: Joan Biskupic's Biography of Justice Scalia, "American Original"

Slate Magazine: The Alienator, by Emily Bazelon:

Making sense of Justice Scalia's personality—and his theory.

Scalia In Joan Biskupic's new biography of Antonin Scalia, American Original, the justice wears a wreath of superlatives. He is the most quoted member of the Supreme Court and the one scholars write about most. He is the justice who writes the most concurrences—separate opinions that accept the holding of a majority opinion but usually part company with its reasoning. He is also the justice who prompts the most laughter at oral argument, according to two bona fide studies. Court observers pick Scalia as the most talkative. He disagrees with that one. They would probably call him the most argumentative. And he'd disagree with that, too.

Here's my superlative, to add to the pile: Scalia is the justice liberals most love to hate and conservatives most love. He is also the only justice to use the Sicilian finger flick in public or to say "quack quack" during a speech (after he was asked to recuse himself from a case in which Dick Cheney was the named plaintiff, because he'd gone duck hunting with the vice president). As Biskupic says, her subject is "a showman, a streetwise guy, and a pulverizer." The more I read about his penchant for battle, and in particular about his unrelenting pattern of pushing away other justices at critical moments, rather than compromising to win a majority, another label occurred to me: the alienator. . . .

November 30, 2009 in Books, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Times Magazine Examines Low Sexual Desire in Women

NY Times Magazine: Women Who Want to Want, by Daniel Bergner:

At her group therapy sessions for women despairing of low sexual desire, Lori Brotto likes to pass around a plastic tub of raisins. The women, usually six to a group, sit around two pushed-together beige tables in a fluorescently lighted conference room at the British Columbia Center for Sexual Medicine in Vancouver. A little potted tree is jammed randomly in one corner. Ragged holes scar one wall where a painting used to hang. The décor doesn’t speak of sensuality. That is the job of the raisin.

Brotto asks each woman to take a single raisin from the small tub. A slender, elegant 34-year-old psychologist, a mother of two with a third child on the way, she began her career studying the libidos of rats. She is now one of the world’s leading specialists in what is known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women. She is in charge of defining the condition’s criteria for the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly called the D.S.M, which the American Psychiatric Association is preparing to publish in 2012 or 2013. The book is the bible of psychiatric diseases, from autism to sleepwalking, relied on by researchers and clinicians throughout the United States and Canada. Studies suggest that around 30 percent of young and middle-aged women go through extended periods of feeling dim desire — or of feeling no wish for sex whatsoever. . . .

November 30, 2009 in Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 27, 2009

New York Times: New Jersey Should Legalize Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

NY Times Editorial: New Jersey's Marriage Moment:

Doing the right thing — promptly enacting legislation discarding inadequate civil unions in favor of full marriage equality for same-sex couples — requires no gargantuan amount of courage or risk-taking on the part of rank-and-file New Jersey legislators or their leaders...

If the Democratic majorities in New Jersey’s Legislature are unwilling to stand up for a fundamental civil right that a majority of voters would accept, when exactly would they stand up?

November 27, 2009 in Politics, Sexuality, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Catholic Church to Deny Communion to Spanish Politicians Who Voted to Liberalize Abortion Laws

Reuters: Pro - Abortion Bill Spanish Politicians Sinful - Church:

Bishop MADRID (Reuters) - The Catholic Church will deny communion to Spanish members of parliament who have voted in favour of a bill to make abortion more readily available, the spokesman of Spain's Bishops' Conference said on Friday.

"This is a warning to Catholics, that they can't vote in favour of this and that they won't be able to receive communion unless they ask forgiveness," Juan Antonion Martinez Camino told a news conference.

"They are in an objective state of sin," he said.

The government-sponsored bill, which passed the first of a series of votes in parliament on Thursday, will allow abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy and, in cases of extreme foetal deformity, at any time in the pregnancy.

November 27, 2009 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Parents Thankful for Mass. Safe Haven Law

The Boston Globe: Abandoned to happiness, by Patricia Wen:

Born to a woman unable to cope, baby Jane Doe found new parents who give thanks to mother, Safe Haven law

The clerk called the emergency room. Linda Fuller, a veteran secretary, came out first, her heart racing. She knew about the state’s relatively new Safe Haven law, but had never been part of any dropoff.

Without hesitation, the woman, who seemed in her early 20s, handed the infant over to Fuller. She said the baby girl, who had hazel eyes and blond hair and was swaddled in a blue blanket, was less than two days old. Before Fuller could ask more questions, the woman turned and left through the same sliding doors.

“She seemed very resolved,’’ Fuller recalled.

The baby would later be given a tiny ankle hospital bracelet, which read: “Doe, Jane. Homeless.’’

Massachusetts was slow to embrace the idea of anonymous drop-offs for desperate mothers. When it passed the Safe Haven law five years ago, it was the 47th state to adopt such a statute. Critics expressed concerns it would legalize child abandonment, and that these babies would never know their biological origins because no answers were required from parents. On that December day, Baby Jane Doe lost virtually any chance of knowing her past as soon as the woman - referred to legally as the “Unknown Mother’’ - left the hospital. . . . 

November 27, 2009 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Pregnancy and the Workplace: Stereotypes and Benevolent Sexism

NY Times: Expecting a Baby, but Not the Stereotypes, by Eilene Zimmerman:

Pregnant Q. You recently became pregnant and expect to continue working through the pregnancy and after maternity leave. Although the initial reaction has been positive, is it possible you will face negative repercussions in the office?

A. It is possible, said Jack Tuckner, a partner in Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, a law firm in Manhattan specializing in women’s workplace rights. That’s because pregnant women are often stigmatized and stereotyped and can elicit unwanted paternalistic protection, Mr. Tuckner said.

For example, he said, someone might think it’s best “if the pregnant woman isn’t included — she can’t stay out late, can’t knock back martinis with the team and then work until 11 p.m. and she has to use the bathroom all the time.” A pregnant woman might also be excluded from e-mail lists, meetings or business trips.

Eden B. King, an assistant professor of psychology at George Mason University, said that women interviewed for studies she has done on workplace pregnancy and discrimination reported feeling excluded from new projects that would help their career development.

“They are seen as already being out of the game,” she said. “Some women report experiencing a form of benevolent sexism, where they are treated like a child who needs to be protected or people pat their stomach.”  . . . 

November 27, 2009 in Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catholic Church on Abortion and Marriage Equality

NPR: Catholic Church Stokes Political Debate On Abortion, Gay Marriage:

Rosary An Irish Catholic congressman is entangled in a very public battle with a Catholic Archbishop. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat from Rhode Island, says he was told not to take communion because of his views on abortion rights. The controversy illustrates a larger debate about the Catholic Church's priorities and core values. For more on the subject, guest host Jennifer Ludden talks with Frances Kissling, former president of Catholics for Choice, the Rev. Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., Professor Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America.

November 25, 2009 in Abortion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICSI Fertility Treatment May Produce Fewer Males

ABC News/Reuters Health: Fertility Treatment May Produce Fewer Baby Boys:

Male_symbol NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The number of baby boys conceived by a fertility treatment known as ICSI may be lower than what is produced by Mother Nature, a new study suggests.

On average, there are 105 baby boys born for every 100 girls -- a natural advantage that helps balance out the higher number of deaths among male fetuses and infants. But in the new study, researchers found that this male-to-female birth ratio seems to be reversed when infants are conceived through intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI.

Among more than 15,000 U.S. babies born in 2005 via assisted reproduction, the investigators found that a particular ICSI approach appeared to result in a smaller-than-average number of boys.

November 25, 2009 in Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Search Continues for a Pill that Lifts Women's Libido

The Economist: Arousing interest

The search continues for a pill that will lift a woman’s libido

Pills BACK in the 1990s a drug firm called Pfizer thought it had a treatment for angina. Unfortunately, the new medicine failed its clinical trials. But a curious side-effect was seen in those trials—and Viagra was born. It has helped make Pfizer into a pharmaceutical powerhouse and, since then, people have wondered if what is sauce for the gander might ever be sauce for the goose. Many have tried, not least Pfizer, which has gallantly tested Viagra to see if it works on women, too. (It does not.) This week, though, saw the results of trials on a drug that might.

The story of flibanserin, as the new drug is known, has echoes of Viagra’s own tale. In this case its developers, Boehringer Ingelheim, had depression in mind as the target condition. But it was women, rather than men, who reported increased sexual desire as a side-effect. . . .

November 25, 2009 in Medical News, Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Abortion Coverage Has Become Hurdle to Passing Health Care Reform

Time Magazine: The Abortion Hurdle: Can a Pro-Life Dem Bridge the Health Care Divide?, by Jay Newton-Small:

Hurdle The point of the Oct. 21 press briefing was to highlight Senate Democrats' outreach to faith-based organizations. Illinois's Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, spoke approvingly about all the policy areas that religious leaders have been working on with Democrats before adding, "And not just on negative issues like abortion." Across the room, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a pro-life Catholic, listened in silence. A few minutes later, a reporter asked his opinion on abortion coverage in the Senate version of health reform. "We want to make sure that there is no federal funding of abortion," began Casey, but Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow quickly cut him off.

"We do not have funding for abortion services in these bills," she said. "Senator Casey doesn't need to worry about it. He can vote for health reform." (Read "Understanding the Health Care Debate: Your Indispensable Guide.")

Casey smiled patiently but stood his ground. "We need more work done on this," he said.

Shaking her head, Stabenow jumped in again. "This health care debate is not about changing current policy on abortion," she said. "There is no funding for abortion. So there should be no problem." Unfortunately for Stabenow and other Democrats, in the month since that meeting, abortion has become very much a problem — if not the biggest hurdle — in passing health care reform. . . . 

November 24, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Baltimore Cracks Down on Anti-Abortion "Crisis Pregnancy Centers"

Feminist Wire Daily Newsbriefs (Ms. Magazine): Baltimore Passes First City Regulation of CPCs:

On Monday, Baltimore became the first city in the country to require crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post signs disclosing that they do not offer referrals for or information about abortion and contraception. The Limited Service Pregnancy Center Disclaimers Bill passed by a 12-3 vote of the Baltimore City Council and will now move to the the desk of Mayor Sheila Dixon. WBZ reports that the Mayor is expected to sign the bill, and that it will go into effect 30 days after receiving her signature.

There are an estimated 4,000 CPCs nationwide, most of which are affiliated with one or more national umbrella organizations. CPCs pose as legitimate health centers and offer "free" pregnancy tests and counseling. Some CPCs coerce and intimidate women out of considering abortion as an option, and prevent women from receiving neutral and comprehensive medical advice. Many disseminate false information about both abortion and contraception, and they are typically run by anti-abortion volunteers who are not licensed medical professionals. Fess up, faux women's clinics!, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

A Baltimore measure requires crisis pregnancy centers to cop to their ban on abortion and birth control referrals

Medical Center Under legislation approved Monday night by Baltimore's city council, crisis pregnancy centers that do not offer referrals for abortion or birth control would be required to post signs saying as much. It seems like such a reasonable plea for transparency! After all, these types of centers are infamous for engaging in religiously- and politically-motivated deception of pregnant women -- and yet, if the city's mayor signs the measure, it will be the very first law of its kind in the U.S.

Time and again, we've written about how crisis pregnancy centers masquerade as legitimate healthcare facilities and target young, poor and minority women by offering free pregnancy tests and counseling. In reality, these centers, which are often staffed by unqualified volunteers, provide medical misinformation as a means of coercing women into going through with a pregnancy and, in some cases, to give the baby up for adoption (to a good Christian family, natch). Some clinics have been found to delay pregnancy test results so they can first subject patients to graphic anti-abortion imagery and propaganda.

November 24, 2009 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fertility Control Provisions in the House Health Care Bill

Stop Family Beyond Stupak - The Shocking Fertility Control Provisions in Health Care Reform Legislation by, Gwendolyn Mink and Dorothy Roberts (Northwestern Law):

StopFamViol The House health care bill (H.R. 3962), contains a provision affecting Medicaid recipients who are pregnant for the first time or who have a child under two years of age.  Section 1713 allows States to use Medicaid funds for non-medical home visits by nurses to advance certain goals affecting reproductive decisions and family life.  The goals include: "increasing birth intervals between pregnancies," "reducing maternal and child involvement in the criminal justice system," "increasing economic self-sufficiency," and "reducing dependence on public assistance." 

Click here to contact your legislators )

These goals of the home visitation program have nothing to do with providing health care.  Instead, they are based on the false premise that poor mothers’ childbearing is to blame for social problems.  The proposed visitation program is eugenicist, deceptive, discriminatory against low-income women, and utterly inappropriate to the medical work of nurses.  

Under the program envisioned in the House bill, government-sponsored medical professionals are charged with exhorting fertility control among poor women, based on the mistaken premise that reproduction among the poor leads to crime, neglect, low educational attainment, and dependency.   Yet according to the government's own statistics, families receiving welfare have, on average, only 1.8 children; half the families receiving welfare have only one child, and only one in ten have more than three children. 


November 24, 2009 in Congress, Fertility, Parenthood, Politics, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Race & Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rep. Kennedy Denied Communion Due to his Stance on Abortion

NY Times: Kennedy Barred From Communion by Bishop, by Ian Urbina:

Cross Widening a growing rift, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat, said on Sunday that the Roman Catholic bishop of Providence had instructed him to refrain from receiving communion because of the congressman’s stance on abortion.

Rep. Kennedy said that Bishop Thomas J. Tobin “instructed me not to take communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me communion,” according to The Providence Journal, which first reported the article....

The allegation by Rep. Kennedy, a Democrat in his eighth term, is the most recent escalation in a bitter and unusually personal dispute between the men that began after the lawmaker criticized the nation’s Catholic bishops for threatening to oppose an overhaul of the health care system unless it tightened restrictions on publicly financed abortion....

November 24, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll Shows that Most Women Will Ignore New Mammogram Guidelines

USA Today: Poll: Most will ignore breast cancer mammogram guidelines, by Liz Szabo:

Mammography The vast majority of American women say they will ignore controversial new recommendations about breast cancer screening, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,136 women this weekend.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of government-appointed experts, suggested last week that most women don't need routine mammograms until age 50, a departure from its previous advice to begin screening at age 40.

Women across the USA have reacted angrily, expressing concern that delaying the screenings could endanger their lives. In the survey, 84% of women ages 35 to 49 say they will get a mammogram before 50. That's in keeping with the guidance of the American Cancer Society, which recommends annual mammograms beginning at age 40.

November 24, 2009 in Medical News, Public Opinion, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Activists Mobilize on Abortion Coverage in Senate Health Care Bill

Wall St. Journal: Abortion to Be New Flashpoint in Senate Bill, by Naftali Bendavid:

Activists Aim to Keep Curbs Out of Final Health-Overhaul Measure After Being Caught Off Guard by Amendment in House

WASHINGTON -- Abortion-rights groups, acknowledging they were caught off guard by a last-minute amendment toughening abortion restrictions in the House health-care bill, are mobilizing to ensure that doesn't happen in the Senate.

Activists hope to flood Washington to rally and lobby on Dec. 2, during the week that Senate floor debate begins. The Center for Reproductive Rights has aired television ads criticizing the restrictions. On Tuesday, activists will announce the creation of the Coalition to Pass Health Care Reform and Stop Stupak, a network of more than 30 groups. Planned Parenthood -- which says it will oppose the final bill if it contains the restrictions -- has started a petition drive that has been promoted by Cosmopolitan magazine. . . .

November 24, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senators Nelson and Lieberman Voice Opposition to Current Version of Health Care Bill

NY Times: Centrist Senators Say They Oppose Health Care Bill, by Joseph Berger:

The morning after voting to commence debate on ground-breaking health care legislation, two centrist senators, Ben Nelson and Joseph I. Lieberman, said on Sunday that they were opposed to the bill as it is currently written, particularly its inclusion of a new government-run insurance program.

Mr. Nelson, the Nebraska senator who voted with his fellow Democrats to start debate sometime after Thanksgiving, said that he was opposed to the bill’s insistence on a so-called public option — a government insurance plan that would compete with private firms to offer coverage for uninsured Americans. While the bill gives states the right to opt out of a public option, Senator Nelson said he would only support a bill that required states to opt in, a step that would stretch out the time that such a program could be broadly enacted. Such a provision would allow for more “state-based solutions” to issues of health care coverage . . . .

He added that if the public option remained in the bill in its present form, he would refuse to stop an expected Republican filibuster. Because he is one of the 60 votes the Democrats had counted on to prevent a filibuster, his statement could dampen the enthusiasm for Democrats still exulting over their ability Saturday evening to come together to a crucial procedural vote and launch debate. . . . 

November 24, 2009 in Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Senate Advances Health Care Bill to Floor

MarketWatch (Wall St. Journal): Senate moves health care bill forward for debate, by  By Robert Schroeder & John Letzing:

Seal Senate WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The Senate voted late Saturday night to advance a sweeping health-care reform bill to the full floor for debate, vaulting a key procedural hurdle and handing an early legislative victory to Democrats and President Barack Obama on his top domestic priority.

The vote came only hours after Senate Democrats won the support of two lingering holdouts, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu and Nebraska's Blanche Lincoln, who reluctantly committed to help their party move the legislation forward.

It also sets up the Senate for a heated debate across party lines, with Republicans and many Democrats demanding significant changes to the bill.

Huffington Post: It's Too Early to Celebrate the Senate Health Care Vote, by Mitchell Bard:

I swear, I find no no joy in being Debbie Downer. I really wish I could celebrate the Senate's 60-39 vote to begin the debate on health care legislation, narrowly holding off the blocking tactic of the Republicans. I am 100 percent in favor of health care reform (I'm a fan of Rep. Anthony Weiner's proposal to extend Medicare to everyone). But a realistic view of what happened (and what has happened leading up to the vote) reveals far more things to be concerned about than to cheer for. . . .

November 22, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)