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By Bora Chang
By Kate Ryan
Despite evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage health “education” is ineffective in preventing teens from having sex, Texas continues to implement these programs state-wide, with dismal results. A new study finds the state’s high school students are more likely than average to have had sexual intercourse and not used highly-effective methods of birth control. 52% of Texas high school students surveyed reported having had sexual intercourse, versus a national average of 46%; 86% of Texas students surveyed reported not
A report from the Global Symposium Celebrating 40 Years of Our Bodies, Ourselves
When 14 women got together around a kitchen table in Boston in 1970 to write Women and Their Bodies (which would later become Our Bodies, Ourselves), they had grand ambitions. They knew their newsprint creation was much more than a book, and asked readers to view it instead “as a tool which stimulates discussion and action, which allows for new ideas and for change.” Through writing the book, the authors explained that they learned “how we could act together on our collective knowledge [about our bodies] to change the health care system for women and for all people.”
By Jacqueline Plunkett
It was October of my freshman year at Penn State University, and I awoke in a panic. The pain seared across my lower back and wrapped around my hips. I tried to get out of my bed and found that the pain was so intense that any time I moved my legs, I felt as though I was being stabbed in the back. I yelled across the room to wake my roommate. She called my brother, a senior at Penn State at the time, and he immediately picked me up at my dorm and took me to the hospital.
By Kate Ryan
Science is under fire in the U.S. Congress, and a central line of attack is to cut funds for Federally supported research. Whether such attacks are motivated by ideological opposition to specific research areas, or a desire to decrease government spending by cutting programs that Members of Congress deem to be “wasteful”, reducing research funding is harmful to women’s health. Advocates must push back and defend the value of agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Federally
By Charlea T. Massion, MD & Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD
Hip replacement, a surgical procedure where the hip joint is replaced by a prosthetic device, is usually done to relieve severe pain and mobility problems in a natural joint damaged by arthritis or trauma. Usually, both the “ball” (i.e., femoral head) and “socket” (i.e., acetabulum) are replaced, with excellent results. Unsuccessful hip replacement, however, can result in more pain and an inability to walk at all. And, devices with a metal ball and socket (metal-on-metal, or MoM) can cause other problems, some of which are extremely dangerous. Astonishingly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows some types of joint replacement devices to be used without any clinical studies on safety or efficacy.
by Debra Hauser
The Congressional debate over abortion in the Affordable Care Act and the set-back to abortion coverage that the resulting law imposed was a wake-up call for the reproductive rights movement. Not only did the movement fail to block the addition of anti-choice restrictions to health care reform, but it also failed at key points during the legislative battle to fight those restrictions in a way that challenged the injustice and devastating health impact women have suffered already as a result of existing restrictions on federal funding for abortion care. As pro-choice Congressional leaders attempted to fight off new restrictions on abortion access, they described the prohibition on federal funding for abortion as the status quo, accepted that the Affordable Care Act would not change that, and in the end, voted for a bill that denied access to abortion for many women – particularly poor women and younger women. Why were movement leaders so unable to shape the debate in a way that allowed them to speak about the importance of access to abortion and the unfairness of denying it to the most vulnerable and underserved women?
Feminist Health Community Turns Out in Full-Force to Honor Susan Hester & Fushena Cruickshank at NWHN Fundraiser
On Tuesday, November 1, more than 130 people packed Busboys & Poets in Washington, D.C. for the National Women’s Health Network’s annual fall fundraiser. This year’s theme was 35 Years: Standing Strong, in celebration of the culmination of our 35th year as an organization. For the fourth consecutive year, we also presented two deserving activists with the Barbara Seaman Award for Activism in Women’s Health.
By Cynthia Pearson
I’ve been thinking a lot about weather lately — bad weather. A big storm can make getting around difficult, disrupt our plans, and delay our arrival at our intended destination. Doesn’t that sound like what we’ve experienced recently with the politics of women’s health? Last fall, we thought we were on our way to a long-anticipated destination: the end of unjustified age restrictions on over-the-counter access to Emergency Contraception (EC). Then, a big storm blew through DC and, when it was over, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to remove the age limit had been overruled and our arrival at our desired destination delayed, once again.
This Halloween, an offensive costume called “Anna Rexia” was marketed on the Internet and in costume stores. It included a skeleton-print, skin-tight dress with a measuring-tape belt. One website raved, “Make no bones about it — this dress will spark some conversations!” Yes, it did! In response, Spark, a movement committed to ending the sexualization of girls, launched a petition on www.change.org asking Halloween Store to remove the costume from both its online store AND its shelves in Memphis, TN. Within five hours of the petition’s launch, the vendor promised to remove the costume from the Internet and storeroom shelves.
By Cheri Pies
The March 2011 release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Consensus Report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender [LGBT] People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding confirmed what so many of us have known for decades: despite some valuable and important research about the health of LGBT populations, there is still a great deal we don’t know — and even more we need to learn — in order to improve the overall health of LGBT individuals and eliminate health disparities.ii Differences in sexual behavior account for some of these disparities, but others are associated with social and structural inequities, such as the stigma and discrimination that LGBT populations experience.”iv These data provide a sobering picture of the stress and social isolation experienced by LGBT individuals.
The IOM Report
By Keely Monroe
By Cindy Pearson
Sometimes I have trouble writing a column that I know won’t be read for a few weeks. I struggle to write something that will seem relevant, even though I can’t predict what will be happening in the future. This time, it’s easy to predict one thing that will be happening when you read this column: presidential candidates will be saying crazy things about health care.
By Vida Rostami
A study conducted for six Iowa-based Planned Parenthood of the Heartland clinics measured the effectiveness and acceptability of several different kinds of medical abortion procedures using RU486. Researchers followed 450 women who had an abortion between 2008 and 2009. Half of the women had a medical abortion and an in-person physician office visit; the other half had a medical abortion and a telemedicine visit, in which the woman spoke to her doctor via video tele-conferencingequipment. The study found that women who had the telemedicine visit for their medical abortion were just as likely to have a successful abortion as did women who had an in-person physician’s visit. Among the women, 91% of all clients were “very satisfied” with their abortion experience, although telemedicine clients were more likely than in-person clients to say they would recommend the services to a friend. For women who live in areas with limited access to abortion services, or who have difficulty traveling or taking time off work, a telemedically-supervised medical abortion can help overcome barriers to reproductive healthcare.
The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, August 2011
Although male breast cancer is rare, 2,100 men are diagnosed with the cancer every year in the U.S. When uninsured South Carolinian Raymond Johnson learned the pain in his chest was a breast tumor, he was equally worried about the cancer diagnosis and paying for treatment. When he applied for Medicaid coverage under the Medicaid’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act, he was told the program only covers women. Thankfully, Johnson appealed and was approved for coverage. His case has sparked media about male breast cancer and equitable Medicaid eligibility.
By Cindy Pearson
By Rachel Walden
For decades, women have heard: “Make sure to get enough calcium; maybe even take a daily calcium supplement!” Calcium is key to building and maintaining strong bones and, for women, there is particular focus on preventing osteoporosis and broken bones (especially broken hips), making us a key audience for companies selling calcium supplements. The real story on calcium is not quite so simple, however, and scientists are still trying to sort out the good and bad of both dietary calcium and calcium supplementation.
NWHN Fall Event
Mark your calendar! The National Women’s Health Network will conclude our 35th year by presenting the fourth Barbara Seaman Awards for Activism in Women’s Health on November 1, 2011 at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C.
Join us in celebration as we are inspired and energized by special guest speaker Byllye Avery, health care activist and founder of the Black Women's Health Imperative.