Friday, May 28, 2010
USA Today: U.S. women still prefer the pill, sterilization for contraception, by Rita Rubin:
A growing percentage of U.S. women are using intrauterine devices, or IUDs, but the pill and female sterilization still lead the contraceptive pack, as they have for nearly a quarter of a century, government researchers reported Wednesday.
"We seem to be stuck in a pattern here," says lead author William Mosher, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mosher and co-author Jo Jones based their estimates of contraceptive use on in-person interviews with 7,346 women ages 15 to 44 who participated in the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth. The survey was last conducted in 2002. . . .
Thursday, May 27, 2010
One year ago Monday, NAF member Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church in Wichita, Kansas.
Despite all the harassment, threats, and violence he endured, Dr. Tiller devoted his life to providing quality, compassionate care to women and their families. The walls of his clinic were filled with letters from grateful patients, and in the past year, we have heard from many others who were thankful for the excellent care they obtained at his clinic.
Nina* said: “I was introduced to Dr. Tiller in October of 2005 when I had found out that the baby that I was carrying would be born with congenital defects that no medicine or surgery could correct. He saved me, my family, and by unborn fetus a life of agony, anguish, and hardship.”
Alison said: “Dr. Tiller was the only doctor who accepted my particular case due to my own physical complications. Dr. Tiller is my hero, he not only saved my life but saved my family.”
While we won’t ever be able to replace Dr. Tiller, we can help ensure that women are still able to access the quality abortion care that he risked his life to provide. Inspired by Dr. Tiller and his practice, we’ve heard from medical students who have decided to include abortion in the care they will provide, and from NAF members who have recommitted themselves to continuing to provide women with the quality abortion care they need.
Dr. Tiller was a devoted husband, father, and colleague. It is with great sadness and respect that we join our members and his family in remembering Dr. Tiller’s life and his many contributions to women's reproductive health care.
Professional Obstacles, Not Fear of Harassment, Primary Barrier to Provision
Opposition to abortion within the health care community—rather than fear of public harassment —is a major factor preventing new physicians from becoming abortion providers, according to “Obstacles to the Integration of Abortion into Obstetrics and Gynecology Practice,” by Lori Freedman et al., of the University of California, San Francisco.
The authors conducted in-depth interviews with 30 obstetrician-gynecologists who had graduated 5–10 years earlier from residency programs that included abortion training. They found that although 18 had planned to offer elective abortions after their residency, only three were actually doing so. The majority reported that they were unable to provide abortions because of the formal and informal policies restricting abortion provision imposed by their private group practices, employers and hospitals. While some of these restrictions had been made explicit when the physicians interviewed for a job, others had become apparent only after the doctors had joined a practice or institution. A few physicians had attempted to moonlight as abortion providers while working in settings that prohibited abortion provision, but found that they were prohibited from offering abortion services outside the practice as well. Respondents indicated that the strain abortion provision might put on their relationships with superiors and coworkers was also a deterrent. . . .
NY Times: 5 Things to Know About Herpes, by Eric Sabo:
This week in The Times Health Guide, New York Times contributor Eric Sabo writes about genital herpes, “the largest epidemic no one wants to talk about.” Genital herpes spreads so easily because many people don’t realize they have an infection and typical safe sex practices, like wearing condoms, do not completely prevent spread of the virus. Here are five things experts say you should know about protecting yourself against herpes.
- Avoid sexual contact during visible outbreaks. The highest risk of transmitting herpes is during an outbreak. Symptoms vary and are not always noticeable, but reddish sores and ulcers on the genital area are the main clues. Itching or pain around the groin may also indicate when an outbreak is occurring. A blister or fever sore along the mouth could signal a less dangerous form of herpes that can still spread to the genitals through oral sex. . . .
RH Reality Check: Anti-Choice Woman-Hating Goes Mainstream, by Carole Joffe (Sociology, UC Davis):
She consented in the murder of an unborn child. There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child.
With this brief quote, the speaker, the Rev. John Ehrich, medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix, deserves credit for achieving a twofer in a recently revived (if not formally declared) misogyny competition that is now sweeping the anti-choice world. He is not only stating that a gravely ill woman (the mother of four children) should have been left to die, rather than being permitted an abortion; he is also explaining why Sister Mary Margaret McBride, the nun-administrator of a Catholic hospital who authorized the abortion (thereby saving the woman’s life) deserves to be excommunicated.
This case, which has received wide coverage in RH Reality Check and other media, has predictably stunned many people, across the abortion divide. Some have pointed out that the Phoenix diocese misinterpreted Catholic health care directives, and that abortion is permissible under these rules when a woman’s life is at stake. Others have made the common sense observation that if the woman had died, not only would her four children remain motherless, but the 11-week old fetus would not have survived either. Inevitably, some commented on the disparity between the nun’s swift excommunication and the fact that none of the identified pedophile priests have received such punishment.
But while the Phoenix case may cause the most jaw-dropping, with its undisguised preference for a woman’s death over an abortion, there are other recent instances that similarly suggest an upsurge of blatant woman-hating in the antiabortion world. . . .
Surrogacy in the United States is a multi-million dollar industry in which well paid professionals seek out highly specialized women to fulfill the difficult job of being a surrogate. Surrogates enter lengthy contracts in which they agree, in intricate detail, to provide a service for significant compensation - surrogates are paid well over $22 million dollars a year. This article argues that surrogates are also professionals in this for-profit industry and are required to report surrogacy compensation as income. As a corollary, surrogates may deduct most of their surrogacy related expenses as business deductions. Being a surrogate is a highly personal service and the expenses the surrogate incurs - such as for maternity clothes or medical care - are typically seen as nondeductible personal ones, but when your body is your business, the personal is business.
NY Times: States Enlist Ultrasound to Raise Bar for Abortions, by Kevin Sack:
. . . Over the last decade, ultrasound has quietly become a new front in the grinding state-by-state battle over abortion. With backing from anti-abortion groups, which argue that sonograms can help persuade women to preserve pregnancies, 20 states have enacted laws that encourage or require the use of ultrasound.
Alabama is one of three states, along with Louisiana and Mississippi, that require abortion providers to conduct an ultrasound and offer women a chance to peer inside the womb. . . .
In one of the few studies of the issue — there have been none in the United States — two abortion clinics in British Columbia found that 73 percent of patients wanted to see an image if offered the chance. Eighty-four percent of the 254 women who viewed sonograms said it did not make the experience more difficult, and none reversed her decision. . . .
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
A new study has found that some men may be at greater risk of contracting the HIV virus when their female partner is pregnant, according to results presented today at the International Microbicides Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. . . .
Researchers from the University of Nairobi and the University of Washington reported today that, out of a group of 3,321 couples in which one partner was HIV-infected and the other was not, it was found that there was an increased risk of female-to-male transmission of HIV during pregnancy. . . .
U.S. groups are closely scrutinizing abortion language in Kenya's draft constitution which will be submitted in a referendum in August. Our correspondent has reaction from the groups, after several U.S. lawmakers demanded a probe into whether U.S. officials are breaking a little-known U.S. law by favoring the document. . . .
AS SOON AS SCOTT ROEDER WAS NAMED THE SOLE SUSPECT IN THE point-blank shooting death of Wichita, Kan., abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in the vestibule of the Reformation Lutheran Church Tiller attended, a predictable story began to be told. Following the lead of a recent Department of Homeland Security report characterizing right-wing terrorists as lone wolves, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, ABC, NBC and FOX News all ran stories calling Roeder a “lone wolf” gunman. . . .
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Guttmacher Institute news release: California Demonstrates that Sound Policy is Crucial in Reducing Teen Pregnancy:
State Had Nation’s Steepest Decline in Teen Pregnancy from 1992 to 2005
California’s teen pregnancy rate declined by 52% between 1992 and 2005, the steepest drop registered by any state over that period—and far above the national decline of 37%. Public health experts credit this record decline to California’s aggressive and evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention efforts dating back to the 1990s, according to “Winning Campaign: California’s Concerted Effort to Reduce Its Teen Pregnancy Rate,” published in the Spring 2010 issue of the Guttmacher Policy Review.
“California has made teen pregnancy prevention a high public policy priority, with a strong emphasis on providing teens comprehensive sex education and the health care services and counseling they need to prevent pregnancy,” says Heather Boonstra, author of the new analysis. “Above all, California’s success demonstrates that policies matter—both in allotting the necessary resources and in ensuring that the right types of information and services are available.” . . .
Time Magazine: Baby Gap: Germany's Birth Rate Hits Historic Low, by Tristana Moore:
Germany is shrinking — and fast. New figures released on May 17 show the birth rate in Europe's biggest economy has plummeted to a historic low, dropping to a level not seen since 1946. As demographers warn of the consequences of not making enough babies to replace and support an ageing population, the latest figures have triggered a bout of national soul-searching and cast a harsh light on Chancellor Angela Merkel's family policies.
According to a preliminary analysis by the Federal Statistics Office, 651,000 children were born in Germany in 2009 — 30,000 fewer than in 2008, a dip of 3.6%. In 1990, German mothers were having on average 1.5 children each; today that average is down to 1.38 children per mother. With a shortfall of 190,000 between the number of people who died and the number of children who were born, Germany's birth rate is well below the level required to keep the population stable. (See why the recssion is causing women to have fewer kids.) . . . .
Star-Telegram: ACLU raises questions about Parker County's refusal to transport inmate to get an abortion, by Bill Hanna:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas questions whether Parker County is infringing on the constitutional rights of its female prisoners after it declined to take an inmate to a medical facility for an abortion.
In a May 18 letter to Parker County officials, the ACLU said that a female prisoner was recently denied transportation outside the jail for the procedure. The group says that Parker County should develop a policy to ensure that other inmates' constitutional rights are not violated in the future. . . .
Wash. Post: FDA considers endorsement of drug that some call a Viagra for women, by Rob Stein:
A panel of federal advisers will soon wrestle with a question that has bedeviled poets, philosophers and generations of frustrated men: What do women want?
That enigma will be part of a Food and Drug Administration committee's deliberations next month when it considers endorsing the first pill designed to do for women what Viagra did for men: boost their sex lives. A German pharmaceutical giant wants to sell a drug with the decidedly unsexy name "flibanserin," which has shown prowess for sparking a woman's sexual desire by fiddling with her brain chemicals . . . .
See also: Newsweek Magazine: The Selling of the Female Orgasm, by Barbara Kantrowitz & Pat Wingert:
A provocative new documentary targets Big Pharma's quest for a female Viagra
You can't help but feel the anguish of Charletta, a charming 60-something Southerner who appears prominently in Liz Canner's new documentary, Orgasm Inc. Charletta is so distraught about her inability to achieve orgasm simultaneously with her husband during intercourse that she agrees to be a test subject for a bizarre invention called an "orgasmatron." But inserting this questionable device in her spine stimulates only her left leg, which shakes uncontrollably when she flips a switch. After the orgasmatron is removed, Charletta shares with Canner her distress at being such a freak. "Not only am I not normal, I'm diseased," she says. But under questioning by Canner, Charletta discloses that she can, in fact, achieve orgasm in other ways. When Canner tells her that makes her "normal," since 70 percent of women don't reach orgasm during coitus, Charletta is stunned. By the end of the film, she seems like a new woman. With a big smile on her face, she tells Canner, "I accept myself the way I am." If more women could make such a statement, Canner wouldn't have spent much of the last decade making Orgasm Inc. But the film, which has its New York premiere May 27 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is a desperately needed antidote to all the hype generated by pharmaceutical companies pursuing their holy grail: a female Viagra. . . .
Monday, May 24, 2010
Wash. Post (On Faith): Pro-life feminism is the future, by Colleen Carroll Campbell:
Can you be a feminist and oppose abortion in all circumstances? Can you be a person of faith and support abortion in some circumstances?
The very notion of pro-life feminism is an affront to the vociferous leaders of America's abortion-rights lobby and the aging ranks of its feminist establishment - two groups that are, for all practical purposes, indistinguishable. The overlap between these two groups and their shared indignation at organizations like Feminists for Life and women like Sarah Palin is no accident. It is a consequence of their decades-long campaign to make feminism synonymous with a woman's right to abort her child and to marginalize any free-thinking feminist who dares to disagree. . . .
Saturday, May 22, 2010
KOCO.com: Governor Vetoes Abortion Bill:
Henry: HB3284 Invades Privacy, Increases Trauma To Rape Victims
Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry vetoed an abortion bill Saturday that he said unconstitutionally invades privacy and would only increase trauma to victims of rape and incest.Governor Henry said HB 3284 was previously declared unconstitutional by the courts. The bill, approved by the legislature earlier this month, would have required women to fill out a questionnaire asking about their personal lives, their pregnancy and their reasons for getting an abortion. The answers to these questions would be posted on a state web site. . . .
Elle Magazine: The Parent Trap: Paternal Rights and Abortion, by Stephanie Fairyington:
What happens when the girlfriend of a recently divorced father of two gets pregnant—and she wants the baby, he doesn’t? Should men, too, have the right to choose?
Greg Bruell and his girlfriend of a year and a half, Sandra Hedrick, had a pact. “We agreed that if we got pregnant, we’d terminate because we were not in a stable family unit,” Hedrick says. Or as Bruell more starkly puts it, “I resumed sexual relations with her on the condition that were birth control to fail, she’d abort without waffling.”
“Resumed,” because nine months earlier Hedrick had conceived a child with Bruell and the couple decided to end that pregnancy. Or rather, he decided, and she went along. Their relationship was too rocky—a series of breakups followed by passionate reunions—for them to become parents together, Bruell argued. Plus, both were still in the process of finalizing divorces, and he was a newly single father struggling to balance his needs against those of his eight-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. Bruell wanted to steady their destabilized worlds before jumping into fatherhood anew. . . .
NY Times (Op-Ed):
Earthquakes are more dramatic. Tsunamis make better television. AIDS is more visceral.
But here’s a far more widespread challenge, one that’s also more fixable: the unavailability of birth control in many poor countries. I’m on my annual win-a-trip journey across a chunk of Central Africa with a 19-year-old university student, Mitch Smith. He won the right to bounce over impossible roads in the region where it’s easy to see firsthand how breakneck population growth is linked to poverty, instability and conflict. . . .
Here in Kinshasa, we met Emilie Lunda, 25, who had nearly died during childbirth a few days earlier. Doctors saved her life, but her baby died. And she is still recuperating in a hospital and doesn’t know how she will pay the bill.
“I didn’t want to get pregnant,” Emilie told us here in the Congolese capital. “I was afraid of getting pregnant.” But she had never heard of birth control. . . .
Time Magazine: Ovarian Cancer Screening: Hope for Early Detection, by Alice Park:
Liz Stegall had no reason to suspect she was at risk for cancer when she decided in 2003 to enroll in a new trial for ovarian-cancer screening at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She volunteered for the trial primarily to honor the memory of a good friend, who had recently died of the disease. Stegall, 58, of nearby Sugar Land, Tex., said she wanted to contribute to research any way she could, so she offered herself as part of the control group for comparison to the cancer patients in the trial.
What Stegall would soon find out is that she was actually one of those patients. The trial was designed to identify women exactly like her — those who are otherwise healthy but unknowingly harboring the earliest signs of ovarian cancer. . . .
LA Times (Op-Ed Column): Sarah Palin: Feminist, by Meghan Daum:
It may not be Gloria Steinem's feminism, but shouldn't there be room for everyone in the movement?
After struggling with its definition and connotations, Sarah Palin has apparently made peace with the "F-word." She freely used it in a May 14 speech for the Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee for antiabortion female congressional candidates. And given Palin's extraordinary influence in certain circles, you can bet untold numbers of women who might once have never considered it will now be dropping the F-bomb with alacrity.
The word in question, of course, is "feminist." It may be the most polarizing label on the sociopolitical stage (it makes "environmentalist" or even "gay-rights advocate" seem downright banal), but Palin seems to have stopped dancing around it and finally claimed it as her partner. . . .