This is a high-tech revolution that will affect more people in a more intimate way than almost any other technological stride. The next generation of family planning products will be cheaper, more effective and easier to use — they could be to today’s condoms and diaphragms what a smartphone is to the bricklike cellphones of 20 years ago.
Contraception dates back to ancient Egypt, where amorous couples relied on condoms made of linen. Yet after three millennia, although we can now intercept a missile in outer space, we’re often still outwitted by wandering sperm.
Largely, that’s because research on contraception is pitifully underfunded; if only family planning were treated as seriously as baldness! Contraception research just hasn’t received the resources it deserves, so we have state-of-the-art digital cameras and decades-old family planning methods. . . .
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
BBC News: Contraceptive coil raises hope of delaying womb cancer, by Michelle Roberts:
This can buy young women with the disease time to have children before undergoing a curative hysterectomy.
It has already enabled nine such women to conceive, Annals of Oncology journal reports.
The usual treatment for endometrial cancer is a total hysterectomy with the removal of the womb and ovaries, but this results in the end of the woman's fertility. . . .
Operation Rescue press release (Christian News Wire): Arkansas Abortionist Harrison Dead from Leukemia:
Arkansas abortionist William Harrison, 75, died on Friday, September 24, 2010, after a four-month bout with leukemia. He closed his Fayetteville abortion clinic on July 30....
"We are thankful that this man will never again have the opportunity to kill any more babies, hurt any more women, or cause any more human misery on this Earth," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. "In the end, God always gets the last word. Our Christian faith informs us that one day we will all have to stand before God and give an account for our lives. Without faith in Christ, the outlook for Mr. Harrison's meeting with his Maker is grim. We pray other aging abortionists around the nation will not follow Harrison's example, but will instead find repentance and forgiveness for their bloodguilt through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ."
Los Angeles Times: Boxer-Fiorina Debate: Abortion Politics and Roe vs. Wade, by Shane Goldmacher:
Carly Fiorina, who is anti-abortion, is asked to delve into the abortion debate.
"I understand that not all women agree with me," Fiorina said, but she also tried to change the direction of the conversation: "The subject of this election is not abortion," but rather jobs and the economy.
Fiorina said she wouldn't have a litmus test for Supreme Court candidates to be anti-abortion, if she were in the Senate. She also said she would not introduce legislation to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
She accused Boxer of "a very extreme view –- that taxpayers would pay for virtually every abortion."
Boxer said she supports taxpayer funding in cases where the life of the mother is in danger, incest and rape. . . .
RH Reality Check: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill to Ban Shackling of Pregnant Women, by Jodi Jacobson:
Over the past year, we have invited a number of reproductive justice advocates to write about the barbaric practice still used in many United States prisons of shackling pregnant women, sometimes for transport, sometimes throughout their incarceration, and often while they are giving birth. Articles have been written on this issue by Tonya Williams, Malika Saada Saar, Anna Clark, and Amie Newman, among others, and we chronicled the passage of anti-shackling bills in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. The American Medical Association, the Association of Certified Nurse Midwives, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Human Rights Watch among other leading medical and human rights organizations oppose shackling of pregnant women.
Given the building consensus that shackling pregnant women is not only unnecessary--the vast majority are in prison for non-violent crimes in the first place--but degrading to say the least, it was a shock to find out this morning that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill passed by the California Legislature to end shackling of pregnant women in his state. . . .
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
USA Today: Decade after abortion pill's OK, it's not used as often as expected, by Rita Rubin:
Before mifepristone was approved, proponents expected that doctors and other health care providers, such as nurse practitioners, who didn't perform surgical abortions would incorporate the so-called abortion pill into their practices. In 1999, The New York Times described mifepristone as "the little white bombshell," because of its potential to change how abortion was provided in the USA.
But for the most part, that hasn't happened, though proponents say they still hope Mifeprex, mifepristone's brand name, will gain wider acceptance among health care providers. . . .
Monday, September 27, 2010
ACLU press release: ACLU Sues for Information on American Indian Women Pressured to Induce Labor:
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Dakota filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit today against Indian Health Services (IHS) seeking information about reports that pregnant women on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation are being pressured into taking medication to induce labor against their wishes. The FOIA lawsuit also seeks information on plans to build a birthing unit on the reservation, funded in large part with federal stimulus dollars.
"A woman living on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation has the same rights as any other woman to make medical decisions during pregnancy," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "No woman should be compelled to undergo induced labor against her will."
There is no obstetric care available on the reservation, the fourth largest in the United States. Although plans to build an obstetric care facility on the reservation have been pending since 2002, construction has not moved beyond its earliest stages despite an appropriation from Congress last year to finish the facility. Since most women on the reservation depend on IHS for healthcare, they are forced to travel 90 miles to St. Mary's Healthcare Center in Pierre for labor and delivery, the nearest facility with an IHS contract. . . .
NY Times (Op-Ed Column): Birth Control Over Baldness, by Nicholas D. Kristof:
Slate Magazine (Double X): Lessons From the Womb, from Amanda Schaffer to Annie Murphy Paul:
How Does Anxiety Affect Fetal Development?
We must begin with the water-balloon condoms. In the 1950s, researchers balanced these on the bellies of pregnant women and sent sound waves through them, as part of the invention of medical ultrasound. This allowed them to peer into the womb for the first time, as you describe in your elegantly written book Origins. Early glimpses, like "grainy footage beamed back from the first moon landing," begot more sophisticated images, like the clay-colored, sculptural ones you got to see of your own son when he was in utero. I love these details, both for their own sake and as emblems of the scientific desire to eavesdrop on fetal life.
As you write, researchers have increasingly probed how a little "lima bean with a beating heart" interacts with its mama, her womb, and the chemical and sensory "postcards" it receives, care of her, from the outside world. You argue that old-school Western medicine often viewed the fetus as a "perfect parasite," relatively impervious to external influence—yet today, a burgeoning literature lays out the lasting influences of the mother's environment and behavior, including her diet, stress level, mood, and chemical exposures. . . .
Wash. Post: Will pharmacists fill 'ella' prescriptions?, by Rob Stein:
Even before a controversial new form of emergency contraception arrives on pharmacy shelves in the United States, opponents have launched a campaign to persuade pharmacists not to fill prescriptions for the drug. The Family Research Council is asking supporters to start lobbying their local pharmacists to refuse to dispense the drug, known as "ella."
The Food and Drug Administration approved ella Aug. 13 as a new type of "morning-after" pill that can prevent a pregnancy for up to five days after sex. Supporters say the pill offers women a much-needed new way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The only other morning-after pill on the market, known as Plan B, starts to lose effectiveness quickly and becomes far less effective after 72 hours.
Opponents, however, argue that ella is really an abortion drug masquerading as a morning-after pill. Ella is chemically similar to RU-486, the so-called "French abortion pill." As a result, they argue that women might inadvertently give themselves abortions, and worry that some men might slip the drug to unsuspecting women. They also question whether ella is safe. . . .
Click here for information about the difference between emergency contraception and abortion.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Feminist Majority Foundation: Court Rules LA Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open:
A state court ruled on Tuesday that an abortion clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, will remain open until legal proceedings regarding its license suspension have concluded. The Shreveport Times reports that the Hope Medical Group for Women's license was suspended on September 3 after a Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) inspection found violations at the clinic. The clinic later reopened temporarily under the order of a judge, but the most recent ruling ensures that it will remain open until legal issues are resolved.
Last week, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the DHH on behalf of the clinic. The lawsuit claims that the license suspension is both unconstitutional and unnecessary, according to a press release from the Center. Hope Medical Group states that the most of its alleged violations were corrected quickly and that the only remaining issues were record-keeping violations that did not pose an immediate health or safety threat to patients. . . .
Guttmacher News Release: New Study Finds Abortion Does Not Cause Mental Health Problems Among Adolescents:
Teens who have abortions are no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem than their peers whose pregnancies do not end in abortion, according to “Do Depression and Low Self-Esteem Follow Abortion Among Adolescents? Evidence from a National Study,” by Jocelyn T. Warren of Oregon State University et al., which is available online and will appear in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The study found that the factors most closely linked with depression and low self-esteem after abortion are having experienced those problems in the past.
A 2008 study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found no evidence that induced abortion causes mental health problems in adult women, but because of a scarcity of evidence on teens, no conclusions were drawn at that time about the impact on adolescents. . . .
New Requirement of Insurance Coverage Without Co-Pay for Preventive Care Not Likely to Include Contraception Until 2013
Slate Magazine (Double X): Yes, You Will Keep Paying for Birth Control, by Sharon Lerner:
Finally, the day has come when all new insurance plans are required to cover preventive health care without any co-payments or deductibles. But despite reassurances from Congress and the White House that birth control would be covered under health reform, it didn’t make the list of essential preventive services. Instead, all anyone could promise was a future “study.”
Comissioned by Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the study is supposed to determine whether contraception is, in fact, a preventive health service. Allowing a year for the research, which is due next August, then additional time to issue new regulations, and, after that, a year in which insurers will have to comply with new regulations, it’ll be at least 2012 before women can get birth control without a hefty co-pay. 2013 is more likely. . . .
AOL Health: Did Johnson & Johnson Hide the Dangers of its Birth Control Patch?, by Ronnie Koenig:
Did Johnson & Johnson hide the dangers of one its most popular prescription drugs from the public?
Doctors have written more than 40 million prescriptions for Ortho Evra, the birth control patch, since it hit the market in 2002. But now it appears that the drug once believed to be a savior for forgetful women who couldn't remember to take a pill at the same time every day has both hidden and deadly side effects that J&J may have concealed, according to a "TODAY" show report. . . .
Politics on the Hudson: NARAL “extremely concerned” about DioGuardi’s abortion views (updated), by Cara Matthews:
NARAL Pro-Choice New York said in a statement today that it is “extremely concerned” about U.S. Senate candidate Joseph DioGuardi’s stance on abortion.
“DioGuardi opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest,” said NARAL, which has been active in state and federal campaigns this year. “Not only is this view well outside the values of New Yorkers—75 percent of whom are pro-choice—it is far beyond the national mainstream.”
DioGuardi won a Republican primary last week against David Malpass, former Bear Stearns chief economist, and Bruce Blakeman, former Nassau County legislator. He will also be on the Conservative Party line Nov. 2. He faces U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to the position last year. . . .
MedPage Today: GOP Pledge Includes Vow to Repeal Reform Law, by Joyce Frieden:
The American people "don't want the $500 billion in their taxes and the over 150 boards, bureaucracies, and commissions required to implement this," Rep. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.) said at a press conference held by GOP congressional leaders. "What the American people told us they want is that we defund, repeal, and replace" the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed by President Obama on March 23.
Republicans included the following healthcare-related items in the 21-page "pledge" document:
. . .Permanently Prohibit Taxpayer Funding of Abortion. The pledge includes permanent enactment into law of the "Hyde amendment," a rule that bans the spending of government funds for abortion and that has to be reauthorized every year. Republicans also want to enact "conscience protections" for healthcare providers, allowing them to opt out of providing abortions or other services that they have a moral objection to. . . .
In Wake of Mexico City's Legalization of Early Abortion, Many Mexican States Aggressively Enforce Abortion Bans
NY Times: Many States in Mexico Crack Down on Abortion, by Elisabeth Malkin:
Doctors believed that she had had an illegal abortion, so first, a man from the prosecutor’s office had to arrive and ask her about her sexual history. Then, after she was treated but still groggy from the anesthesia, another investigator showed up and took her statement.
The investigation is still open two months later. Prosecutors are seeking medical records to determine whether they will charge the young woman, who asked that her name not be used, as well as the person they suspect helped her. . . .
Medical News Today: Supporters Of Colo. 'Personhood' Amendment File Lawsuit Against State:
On Tuesday, supporters of a Colorado ballot initiative that would grant rights to fertilized eggs filed a lawsuit against the state for what they allege is a "biased" analysis of their initiative, the Denver Daily News reports. The analysis in question is published in the state Legislative Council's Blue Book, which provides voters with analyses of ballot initiatives before elections (Marcus, Denver Daily News, 9/22).The ballot initiative, called Amendment 62, would change the state constitution to say that rights of citizens are granted from the "beginning of biological development." Groups opposed to the measure say the change would ban abortion services, as well as some forms of birth control and fertility treatments (AP/CBS4, 9/21). . . .
NY Times: Dr. William Harrison, Defender of Abortion Rights, Dies at 75, by Douglas Martin:
“Oh, God, doctor, I was hoping it was cancer.”
Those words so affected Dr. William Harrison that for years, he said, he could not repeat them. They made him break down in tears.
The woman who spoke them — black, poor and middle-aged — had come in 1967 to the Arkansas hospital where Dr. Harrison was a medical student in obstetrics. A doctor, after examining her swollen belly, had told her she was pregnant.
Dr. Harrison went on to perform 20,000 or so abortions over three decades, became a frequent target of abortion protesters and spoke out forcefully in national forums. In the 1980s, when the abortion wars raged fiercest in Arkansas, his clinic, the Fayetteville Women’s Clinic, was firebombed, picketed, blockaded and vandalized. Death threats became routine. . . .
The Examiner (Houston): Two rulings issued on Texas abortion laws, one for each side of debate, by Stephen Dean:
The Texas Attorney General has issued opinions that change two laws that relate to abortion, with one imposing new restrictions on ending pregnancy and the other ruling favoring the other side of the debate.
Both opinions carry the weight of Texas law. They were handed down yesterday at the request of a state lawmaker known for his views against abortion. . . .