August 4, 2007

Double Dose: Tobacco as a Cancer Vaccine, Family Leave Values, and What Should the Criminal Penalty Be For a Woman Who Has an Abortion?

Using Tobacco to Prevent Cancer: Kentucky researchers are looking to the tobacco plant to develop a low-cost vaccine against the virus that causes cervical cancer. “The tobacco-based vaccine still in the works would cost an estimated $3 for three doses, compared with $360 for three doses of Gardasil. This would make it affordable for developing countries like India, where the disease is the most common malignancy among women,” writes Laura Ungar at the Courier-Journal.

Family Leave Values: There’s a fantastic article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine from last weekend about the increase of workplace discrimination lawsuits because of family care-giving obligations.

“Since the mid-1990s, the number of workers who have sued their employers for supposed mistreatment on account of family responsibilities — becoming pregnant, needing to care for a sick child or relative — has increased by more than 300 percent,” writes Eyal Press. “More than 1,150 such lawsuits have been filed in federal and state courts, a trend that has not gone unnoticed in the business world, not only because companies are well aware of the negative publicity lawsuits can generate but also because numerous plaintiffs have walked away with hefty damage awards.”

How Much Jail Time?: Anna Quindlen writes in Newsweek: “Buried among prairie dogs and amateur animation shorts on YouTube is a curious little mini-documentary shot in front of an abortion clinic in Libertyville, Ill. The man behind the camera is asking demonstrators who want abortion criminalized what the penalty should be for a woman who has one nonetheless. You have rarely seen people look more gobsmacked. It’s as though the guy has asked them to solve quadratic equations.” Heh.

Organization Spotlight: “As the political debate about women’s private health decisions focuses on finding common ground among women in the mainstream, some organizations work against incredible odds to make sure marginalized women do not fall through the cracks in the system,” reports RH Reality Check, which spotlights the work of a number of organizations here.

Proposal for Federal Registry of Drug Firms Paying Doctors: “An influential Republican senator says he will propose legislation requiring drug makers to disclose the payments they make to doctors for services like consulting, lectures and attendance at seminars,” writes Gardiner Harris in The New York Times. “The lawmaker, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, cited as an example the case of a prominent child psychiatrist, who he said made $180,000 over just two years from the maker of an antipsychotic drug now widely prescribed for children.”

Using information gleaned from the few states that already require registries of this sort, Harris and other reporters at the NYT have done some excellent reporting this year on the relationship between doctors and drug companies. See here, here and here.

Global Peace Index Fails to Account for Violence Against Women and Children: Describing the Global Peace Index, a ranking of countries according to their level of peacefulness published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Riane Eisler, author of “The Real Wealth of Nations,” writes in the Christian Science Monitor: “Sensibly, its basic premise is that ‘peace isn’t just the absence of war; it’s the absence of violence.’ The index uses 24 indicators such as how many soldiers are killed, the level of violent crimes, and relations with neighboring countries. Yet it fails to include the most prevalent form of global violence: violence against women and children, often in their own families. To put it mildly, this blind spot makes the index very inaccurate.”

The omission prompted a moving response from Feminist Peace Network.

Sisterhood Interrupted: In a review of Debora Siegel’s “Sisterhood Interrupted: From Radical Women to Girls Gone Wild,” Eryn Loeb at Bookslut.com writes, “The history of feminism has been written many times, and from various points of view, but none until now has paid specific attention to the conflicts — both within and across generations — that divided the movement, and have the most to teach us. Siegel deftly illustrates how these internal struggles have led to the difficulties still plaguing feminism.”

Drop the Cute, Urges Writer: Danica McKellar, 32, who played Winnie Cooper on the 1990s TV show “The Wonder Years” and later drew attention as a UCLA undergrad for co-authoring a paper proving a theorem in mathematical physics, has written a book to promote the pursuit of math and science to young girls –”Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail.”

Palladium-Item (Ind.) news reporter Michelle Manchir writes that while McKellar’s intent is admirable, by telling girls that “cute and smart” is better than “cute and dumb,” she ultimately sends a mixed message: “McKellar’s emphasis on girls’ appearance trivializes her promotion of academic ambitions and contributing to society in a meaningful way.”


3 Responses to “Double Dose: Tobacco as a Cancer Vaccine, Family Leave Values, and What Should the Criminal Penalty Be For a Woman Who Has an Abortion?”

  1. Margie Says:

    I think what Danica McKellar is doing is great; although, I question her influence among young girls today. Secondly, it ok to want to be attractive and smart. Seriously, we put to much emphasis on looks, but who wants to be known as ugly? Please honesty is refreshing. Ideally, we should not be concerned with our looks. Honestly, how much of the population is not?

  2. Maggie Says:

    Given the recent, highly publicized behavior of several former child stars, I find myself lacking the energy to criticize McKellar at all. She may not be imparting the ideal feminist message to young girls, but it’s close enough for me.

  3. Christine C. Says:

    Carol Lloyd has more on McKellar’s book at Salon.

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