G-Spot and Sore Spots

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September/October 2011

G Spots

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected the Anti-Prostitution Pledge component of the Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria Act. The Pledge required non-profits to “denounce” prostitution and sex trafficking in order to apply for government funding or be disqualified from receiving government funding to prevent HIV/AIDS among commercial sex workers, who are at high risk for infection. The Court found the Pledge unconstitutional because it compelled non-profits to adopt a government viewpoint and violated the First Amendment. The ruling takes effect immediately for U.S.-based groups; foreign-based groups are still subject to it if they seek U.S. funding.

New York joins an exclusive club of states that have legalized gay marriage. The law squeaked through the state Senate with just 1 more vote than necessary. The law passed 33:29 with the aid of four Republicans who cited their support for social justice in voting for the bill. New York’s lesbian and gay couples can now get the 1,324 marriage benefits that heterosexual spouses have long enjoyed. Six down, forty-four more states to go.

Roughly 42% of the private sector work-force and 75% of low-wage workers don’t have paid sick leave. Connecticut is the first state to change that and require employers to provide paid sick days. Washington, DC and San Francisco also have laws requiring paid sick leave, and campaigns are on-going in other jurisdictions (including Massachusetts, Georgia, Denver, Seattle, and New York City) to regulate sick leave. Research shows that paid sick leave has little negative impact on business and significant benefit to workers; fingers crossed that more states follow suit!

Sore Spots

In July, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) signed HB-636, requiring abortion clinics to post signs designed to discourage women from getting abortions. Signs must state that it’s illegal to force a woman to have an abortion, private and public agencies can provide support during and after pregnancy, fathers are liable for child support, and adoptive parents can pay medical expenses. No information is required on the negative outcomes of completing an unwanted pregnancy. We wish Louisiana trusted women to assess the information they need to make their own best decision, without intrusive and negative direction from the state.

A recent Supreme Court decision protects generic drug companies from being sued for failing to warn patients about possible complications the company knew or should have known about. In 2009, the Court affirmed patients have the right to sue brand name drugs manufacturers for failure to warn patients about newly discovered risks, even if those risks aren’t included in the FDA-approved label. But, according to the new decision, generic manufacturers only have to provide the FDA-approved label, even if that information is dangerously out-dated. Only patients who take brand-name drugs and have side effects not included in the warning label have standing to sue.

In 2006, the FDA required the breast implants manufacturers Allergan and Mentor to conduct long-term studies on the safety of silicone gel breast implants. The FDA recently released preliminary data from the studies indicating that Mentor only managed to keep track of 21% of the women in its study over 3 years – making Allergan’s pitiful 60% follow-up rate over 2 years look good. Worse, the data indicate the need for reoperations is high: 40-70% of women who got breast implants due to reconstruction after cancer treatment experience complications and needed an additional surgery; 20-40% of women who got implants due to augmentation needed another surgery.