Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Health Care Overhaul Provides More Protection for Pregnant Women and New Mothers

Chicago Tribune: Pregnant women, new mothers get more protections under healthcare law, by Michelle Andrews:

Among the changes: expanding Medicaid's reach, preventive screenings, support services and insurance coverage requirements

By the time women reach 44 years old, roughly 85% have given birth. Yet even though pregnancy and childbirth are so commonplace, health insurance coverage and support services to keep mothers and babies healthy are often seriously deficient.

Some private insurers, for example, treat pregnancy as a preexisting condition and charge pregnant women higher premiums or refuse to cover costs associated with childbirth. Low-income women can get Medicaid coverage while they're pregnant, but they generally lose it 60 days after giving birth unless they're very poor.

The healthcare overhaul greatly improves this situation. Some of the biggest changes don't kick in until 2014, but here's what to look for this year and next. . . . 

June 23, 2010 in Congress, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Supreme Court Rules That Workers Can Be Denied Maternity Leave if They Are Not Eligible For Sick Leave

Dayton Daily News: Supreme Court denies maternity leave; policy is ‘pregnancy-blind’, by William Hershey:
Gavel & flag COLUMBUS — Workers denied maternity leave by their employers are not victims of sex discrimination if they are not eligible for sick leave, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, June 22. 
“In this sense, the policy is ‘pregnancy-blind,’” Justice Robert Cupp wrote for the 5-1 majority. “Thus, a pregnant employee may be terminated for unauthorized absence just as any other employee who has not met the minimum-length-of-service requirement but takes leave based upon a similar inability to work." . . .

June 23, 2010 in In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers Link Household Chemical to Pregnancy Hormone Change

CBS 5: Study: PBDEs Causing Pregnancy Hormone Change:  

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - Bay area researchers have now linked a household chemical, found in almost everyone, to reduced levels of an important hormone found in pregnant women. The chemical is a flame retardant, and the change has to do with thyroid hormones. These hormones control things like heart rate, blood pressure, weight and energy level. . . .

June 23, 2010 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gloria Steinem on Palin's Feminism

CBS News: Gloria Steinem on Palin: Feminists Don't Criminalize Abortion:

In an interview, writer and activist Gloria Steinem responded to Sarah Palin calling herself a feminist, saying, "you can't be a feminist who says other women can't" have an abortion.

Couric was joined by Steinem and Women's Media Center president Jehmu Greene. The discussion ranged from sexism in reality TV to the latest field of female GOP candidates.

To watch the video, click here.

June 23, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Grant Miller on the Effects of Family Planning in Colombia

Grant Miller (Stanford University School of Medicine) has posted Contraception as Development? New Evidence from Family Planning in Colombia on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Grant Miller There has been considerable debate in the last decade about whether or not family planning programmes in developing countries reduce fertility or improve socio-economic outcomes. This article provides new evidence by studying the expansion of one of the world's oldest and largest family planning organisations – Profamilia of Colombia. It finds that family planning explains less than 10% of Colombia's fertility decline during its demographic transition. As in wealthy countries, however, lowering the costs of first birth postponement produced important socio-economic gains, enabling young women to obtain more education and to work more and live independently later in life.

June 23, 2010 in Contraception, Fertility, International, Poverty, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Op-Ed Urges Approval of Pill for Over-the-Counter Use

NY Times (Op-Ed): Let the Pill Go Free, by Kelly Blanchard:

LAST month, the 50th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the birth control pill was marked by a lot of discussion about the ways in which the pill has failed to deliver on its promises. It did not solve women’s problems juggling work and family life — nor did it end gender discrimination or eliminate unintended pregnancies. Clearly, approving the use of the pill was only the beginning of the effort to meet women’s contraception needs. . . .

June 23, 2010 in Contraception, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York Pro-Choice Groups Differ Over Strategy on Reproductive Health Bill

NY Times: Abortion Rights Supporters Squabble Over Bill, by Nicholas Confessore:

ALBANY — For years, lawmakers in New York have been trying to pass legislation that would protect existing abortion rights by codifying the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which guarantees rights broader than the laws still on New York’s books.

The legislation, never a winner when Republicans controlled the State Senate, has been the top priority of abortion rights groups since Democrats took control of the chamber last year.

But as Albany’s legislative session draws to a close, a split is emerging between the abortion-rights group Naral Pro-Choice New York and the Senate Democrats, who have not yet scheduled the bill for a vote on the floor. . . .

June 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Disturbing Racial Disparities in Maternal Mortality Rates Persist in New York

Huffington Post: Despite Global Improvements, Pregnant Women Dying Needlessly in New York, by Michelle Chen:

This year, maternal health advocates got the heartening news that the death rate of women in childbirth was declining worldwide, while the rate of child survival was improving ahead of earlier projections. But while the epidemic of maternal and child mortality in poor countries seems to have ebbed--in part thanks to Washington's international assistance--there's been no such progress in some communities closer to home. Recent data on women in New York reveals the vast racial and economic health gaps that still plague the "developed" world.

The mortality statistics don't seem so alarming on their own--about 266 pregnancy-associated deaths from 2001 to 2005 across New York City. But an in-depth study of long-term trends exposes disturbing patterns of racial disparity that underscore other community health problems. . . .

June 21, 2010 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Race & Reproduction, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Coalition Aims to Encourage Abortion Clinics to Convey Information About Adoption

NY Times: Campaigning for Adoption as Common Ground in Abortion Debate, by Susan Dominus:

What if groups that demanded reproductive choices for women actually offered them?

Mark these words: Adoption Access Network. Few people have ever heard of it, but it’s the rare phenomenon (we’re talking meteor-strike rare) that feminists on both sides of the abortion debate — the Sarah Palin-mama grizzly variety, as well as the old-school, march-on-Washington kind — can get behind. . . .

Read more about the Abortion Access Network here.

June 21, 2010 in Abortion, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Miami Herald Commends Governor Crist on Abortion Bill Veto

Miami Herald Editorial: A necessary veto on abortion bill:

OUR OPINION: Crist keeps state on moderate course on abortion

Florida Women in Florida are the rightful beneficiaries of Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of HB 1143. The bill required most women seeking abortions in the first trimester to submit to and pay for an ultrasound and either view it or have it be described by a doctor.

The measure, approved without debate or committee hearings by the Legislature, was a blatant intrusion by the state on the patient-doctor relationship. In no other instance has the Legislature ever mandated a specific medical procedure.

Like many anti-abortion bills, HB 1143 was intended to penalize women who have a legal right to decide about their pregnancy in the most difficult circumstances. It would have banned private health insurers from covering abortions if a woman's insurance is subsidized by the state or federal governments. . . . 

June 21, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Melissa Jacoby on Assisted Reproduction and Consumer Lenders

Melissa B. Jacoby (UNC School of Law) has posted Credit for Motherhood on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Jacoby Prepared for a symposium on Globalization, Families and the State, this essay builds on prior work exploring the impact of consumer lenders who sell credit products for assisted reproduction and adoption. After reviewing some basic attributes of the parenthood lending market, the essay discusses how not-for-profit lenders promote traditional conceptions of motherhood and the division of carework in ways that credit discrimination laws were not designed to address. The essay also articulates some incentives of for-profit lenders to sell motherhood and potential implications for women who are ambivalent about becoming parents.



June 21, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obstetricians' Group Opposes NY Bill Easing Restrictions on Midwives

NY Times: Obstetricians’ Group Fights a Bill With Fewer Restrictions on Midwives, by Anemona Hartocollis:

Amy Paulin, now a New York State assemblywoman pushing for more independence for midwives, was 27 when she became pregnant with her first child and started doctor-shopping in New York City.

One hospital mistakenly told her she had the Tay-Sachs gene, and one doctor counseled her against eating pizza, she recalled on Thursday. Irked, she ended up having her daughter, now 26, with a midwife in a Bronx hospital. Her next two children were born at her home in Scarsdale, also with the help of midwives. . . .

June 21, 2010 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gary Bauer Says Abortion Debate Needs to Include "the Forgotten Fathers"

It's not enough that the Supreme Court perpetuates the myth that abortion causes women psychological harm.  Advocates want the Court to recognize "fathers" as emotionally traumatized by abortion too.

Christian Science Monitor (Opinion): The abortion debate needs to include the forgotten fathers, by Gary Bauer:

If the father of an aborted child can feel the emotions as the mother, why not include the dad in the discussion - as the Supreme Court might well do?

Anti-abortion advocates have long contended that abortion produces two victims: the unborn child, and his or her mother, who, a mounting body of research affirms, risks physical and emotional injury.

But there is evidence that abortion often involves a third victim, one who is typically dismissed when he is acknowledged at all: the child’s father.

Postabortion syndrome, a variant of post-traumatic stress disorder, is a subject of considerable controversy. Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocacy groups maintain that the emotional effects of abortion are “largely positive.” But it is now beyond dispute that after having an abortion, many women experience negative emotions, running from mild regret to deep depression. . . .

June 20, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Anxiety of Giving a Sperm Sample Performance anxiety at the fertility clinic, by Albert Stein: 

Sperm attack Bringing a new life into the world is one of the most joyful human experiences. Producing a sperm sample is not

This is one reason it seems strange to be at a fertility clinic very early in the morning waiting for my turn to jerk off into a plastic cup and produce a specimen that, I devoutly hope, will soon impregnate my wife. . . . .

June 20, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Men's Attention to Child Care Duties Can Endanger Their Careers

abcNEWS: Daddy-Tracked: Men Punished at Work for Child Duties, by Michelle Goodman:

Women Aren't the Only Ones Whose Career Growth Can Get Sidelined by Parenthood

We've all heard about how becoming a mother can be the kiss of career death for some women.  Tell an unsympathetic employer that you need to duck out early to schlep a sick kid to the doctor one time too many and you can say goodbye to that high-profile project you were hoping to land. Try to return to full-time work after a several years home with the kids and you could find picking up where you left off -- and collecting a comparable salary -- about as easy as getting your kids to bed after they've downed a couple cans of Red Bull. Factor in the airtight job market the recent recession has left us with and you're doubly damned. . . .

June 20, 2010 in Men and Reproduction, Parenthood | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Mothers Seek Alternatives Sources for Breast Milk

Newsweek Magazine: Others’ Milk, by Maria Dolan:

Mothers are increasingly turning to alternative sources to find breast milk.

Baby Bottle After San Diego mother Sarah McNeill researched the health properties of breast milk, she wanted those benefits for her baby. “Just because he was adopted, my little one should not have to miss out on the antibodies and the health that breast milk provides,” she said. But McNeill wasn’t producing her own milk, so two months before her adopted baby was born she began searching for an alternate supply.

Many mothers such as McNeill with physical barriers to supplying milk for their child (for example, adoptive parents, whether male or female, or women who have undergone mastectomies) are turning to other sources of human milk rather than using infant formula. . . .

June 20, 2010 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kentucky Supreme Court Blocks Child-Endangerment Prosecutions of Pregnant Women Who Test Positive for Drug Use

ACLU press release: Kentucky Court Blocks Unconstitutional Prosecutions Of Pregnant Women:
Court Finds Law Forbids Charging Pregnant Women Who Test Positive For Drugs With Child Abuse
June 17, 2010
FRANKFORT, KY – The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Cochran v. Commonwealth that prosecutors may not pursue criminal charges against a woman just because she decided to continue her pregnancy while struggling with drug addiction. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kentucky had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

The following can be attributed to Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

"The court is right in deciding that if we allow pregnant women to be incarcerated for drug addiction, it would lead to a slippery slope – what would stop a woman from being charged for speeding, smoking or failing to get prenatal care? A woman cannot be punished or subjected to harsher penalties just because she is pregnant."

The following can be attributed to Bill Sharp, staff attorney with the ACLU of Kentucky:

"We are pleased that the court upheld the legislature's unambiguous declaration that incarcerating pregnant women who are struggling to overcome addiction makes for bad law and even worse public policy. As the Kentucky legislature has found, the way to ensure the health of mothers and babies is through access to prenatal care and treatment programs, not jail time."
The court's ruling can be found here:

The ACLU friend-of-the-court brief can be found here:

See also: Ms. Magazine: Kentucky Supreme Court Rules Fetus Cannot Be Considered Separate Person:

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a fetus cannot be legally separated from the pregnant woman carrying it, and thus cannot be treated as a separate legal person.

In the case, Ina Cochran v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (PDF), Cochran was indicted for first-degree wanton endangerment after both she and her newborn child tested positive for cocaine in December 2005. The Kentucky Supreme Court found her charge to be in contradiction to the Maternal Health Act of 1992 and dismissed her indictment. . . .

June 20, 2010 in In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Panel Recommends Approval of After-Sex Contraceptive Pill

NY Times: Panel Recommends Approval of After-Sex Pill, by Gardiner Harris:

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — A federal advisory panel voted unanimously Thursday that federal drug regulators should approve a medicine that could help prevent pregnancy if taken as late as five days after unprotected sex.

The pill, called ella, sprang from government labs and appears to be more effective than Plan B, a morning-after pill now available over the counter to women 18 and older that gradually loses efficacy after intercourse and can be taken at latest three days after sex. Ella, by contrast, works just as well on the fifth day as the first after sex. . . .

June 17, 2010 in Contraception, Medical News, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FDA Says "Female Viagra" Performed Poorly in Studies "Female viagra" leaves FDA unsatisfied, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

Studies fail to prove that the so-called "pink pill" can fix women's sex drive

The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that flibanserin has performed poorly in two studies, failing to result in a significant increase in women's self-reported sexual desire. The cutesily nicknamed "pink pill" did manage to slightly increase the number of sexually satisfying romps (by 0.8 more than with the placebo), but that's not the aim of the drug. Its makers are seeking approval for use as a treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which is defined as a flagging sex drive in generally healthy pre-menopausal women. . . . 

See also: NY Times: Push to Market Pill Stirs Debate on Sexual Desire, by Duff Wilson:

Ever since Viagra met blockbuster success in 1998, the drug industry has sought a similar pill for women.

Now, a German drug giant says it has stumbled upon such a pill and is trying to persuade the Food and Drug Administration that its drug can help restore a depressed female sex drive. The effort has set off a debate over what constitutes a normal range of sexual desire among women, with critics saying the company is trying to turn a low libido into a medical pathology. . . .

June 17, 2010 in Medical News, Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Trial in Case Challenging California's Prop. 8 Wraps Up

Wall St. Journal: Gay-Marriage Trial Wraps Up, by Geoffrey A. Fowler:

Lawyers Give Closing Arguments in Fight Over California Measure Prohibiting Same-Sex Weddings

California SAN FRANCISCO—A federal judge heard closing arguments in the trial over California's gay-marriage ban, with a ruling expected in coming weeks

The case, which could eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, involves a challenge to the legality of Proposition 8, a 2008 California ballot initiative that overturned a state-court ruling that had permitted gay marriage. The trial began in January, but took a four-month hiatus while U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker reviewed evidence. . . .

June 17, 2010 in In the Courts, Sexuality, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)