September 20, 2008

Double Dose: Know Any Great Leaders?; Comment on HHS “Conscience Clause”; It’s Not Just About the Rape Kits; Journal Issue Looks at Abstinence-Only Education Programs; World Wide Web of Pesticides; The Price of Beauty …

Nominate a Great Leader: Know an advocate for women who deserves worldwide attention? Women’s eNews has issued a call for 21 Leaders for the 21st Century. Send your nominations to 21leaders@womensenews.org. The deadline is midnight on Oct. 6, 2008. Learn about past award recipients here.

Countdown to Conscience Clause Regulation: You’ve heard about the proposed Health & Human Services regulations that would allow federal health officials to withdraw funding from medical providers and services receiving HHS support that do not let employees opt out of providing basic health care — and information — they find objectionable. Now’s your time to act.

Rachel has written extensively about HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt confusing the public (and health experts) with his justification for the regulations — which would affect not only abortion and contraception, but a whole range of health care services — and she wrote a terrific analysis this week at RH Reality Check on the roadblocks Leavitt and HHS have imposed, making it difficult to get information about the rule and delaying the posting of comments for public viewing.

Sen. Hillary Clinton and Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, joined forces this week to write a great op-ed in The New York Times that asked: “The Bush administration argues that the rule is designed to protect a provider’s conscience. But where are the protections for patients?”

The public comment period ends Sept. 25. You can submit your comments directly (although as of this morning the site was done for “planned system maintenance,” scheduled to return at 1 p.m.). Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have both set up customizable comment forms.

And, while you’re at it, you might nominate HHS Secretary Leavitt for Ellen Goodman’s annual Equal Rites Awards.

It’s Not Just the Rape Kits: On the subject of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin approving billing sexual assault victims for the cost of forensic rape examinations when she was mayor of Wasilla, Amie Newman writes: “There is good reason to hunt down the facts about the rape kits.  But the larger issue — of rape, sexual assault and how we deal with violence against women in this country — has been overlooked.”

Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before: The September 2008 issue of Sexuality Research & Social Policy reviews federally funded abstinence-only programs and finds — surprise — that such programs don’t delay teens from having sex and their continued use is not warranted.

The articles in this special issue were selected from research presented at a January 2007 conference, “Human Rights, Cultural, and Scientific Aspects of Abstinence-Only Policies and Programs,” sponsored by the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University, with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

From the introduction:

Taken as a whole, these articles build a strong scientific and human rights case against AOE. Together, they find that the very idea of an abstinence-only approach to sexuality education is scientifically and ethically flawed. Such programs reflect a religious and cultural belief system of socially conservative groups who have attained considerable political leverage at both state and federal levels. AOE programs not only fail the usual public-health standard of program efficacy but also actively restrict lifesaving information and promote misinformation about scientifically accepted public-health strategies such as condom use.

As the articles in this special issue show, science should drive public-health decision making — which, in turn, should inform public policy on health promotion and disease prevention (Koplan & McPheeters, 2004). In the case of AOE, politics and ideology have influenced public health policy and undermined scientific evidence about the best approaches to preventing unwanted outcomes regarding adolescents’ sexual behavior. Science, not ideology, should shape the future of public-health prevention policies for youth.

Plus: Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new fact sheet (the first update since 2006) on sexual health topics facing teens, including general sexual activity; sexual partners and relationships; sex, substance abuse and violence; pregnancy; contraception and protection; STDs; and access to health care services.

World Wide Web of Pesticides: The Center for Public Integrity’s latest investigation, “Wide Web of Pesticides Can Endanger Consumers,” looks at the practice of selling pesticides over the internet, which allows consumers to circumvent regulations meant to protect the public from harmful chemicals.

The dangers of online pesticide sales are many: little accountability on the extent of the practice; lack of training for those who purchase professional grade chemicals online; overexposure to dangerous chemicals and whether they are being properly used. For most states, the lack of resources prevents them from effectively monitoring online pesticide sales. While Colorado, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, California, and Nebraska are recognized as states working consistently to stem illegal Internet sales, many argue that the EPA should be doing more, highlighting the challenge regulators face of trying to control an online global marketplace where buyer and seller often never meet face to face.

This is the second article in the Center’s new series The Perils of the New Pesticides. The first, “A Checkered Past,” looks at the EPA’s flawed efforts to monitor poisonings by pesticides deemed safe. In addition to the excellent coverage, visitors can search pesticide incidents on file with the EPA by state and by year.

“The EPA’s pesticide incident-reporting system has not been public until now. Called one of the ‘Ten Most Wanted Government Documents‘ by the Center for Democracy and Technology, the database was released under the Freedom of Information Act to the Center for Public Integrity in early 2008,” according to the introduction.

Going Greener: “Innovations in designing green chemicals are emerging in nearly every U.S. industry, from plastics and pesticides to toys and nail polish. Some manufacturers of cosmetics, household cleaners and other consumer products are leading the charge, while others are lagging behind,” writes Marla Cone in the L.A. Times.

Part 2 of the series on a greener future looks at industries that remain dependent on hazardous substances.

The Price of Beauty: Having trouble getting a medical appointment with your dermatologist? Have you mentioned that you’re interested in Botox?

“Like airlines that offer first-class and coach sections, dermatology is fast becoming a two-tier business in which higher-paying customers often receive greater pampering. In some dermatologists’ offices, freer-spending cosmetic patients are given appointments more quickly than medical patients for whom health insurance pays fixed reimbursement fees,” writes Natasha Singer in The New York Times.

“In other offices, cosmetic patients spend more time with a doctor. And in still others, doctors employ a special receptionist, called a cosmetic concierge, for their beauty patients.”

Doctors Have Babies, Too: “For the growing number of women entering medicine, becoming a doctor increasingly includes a complication: pregnancy,” writes Liz Kowalczyk in the Boston Globe.

In the last 10 years, most teaching hospitals have adopted maternity leave policies for residents. Even so, new moms face a range of difficulties beyond exhaustion, from time limits placed on maternity leaves by boards that certify physicians in their specialties to resentment from fellow residents who must shoulder extra work while they’re gone. Academic medical centers also feel the pressure when a resident gets pregnant, because they depend on these physicians-in-training to provide most of the round-the-clock care to patients, especially in Massachusetts with its large number of teaching hospitals.

“As far as we’ve come, there still are significant barriers to parenting during residency,” said Dr. Debra Weinstein, vice president for graduate medical education for Partners HealthCare System, the parent organization of Mass. General and the Brigham.

Ain’t I a Mommy?: Great piece at Bitch by Deesha Philyaw, who wonders why with so many motherhood memoirs, so few of them are penned by women of color.

“The absence of black mommy memoirs mirrors the relative absence of black women’s voices in mainstream U.S. media discourse about motherhood in general,” writes Philyaw. “The abundance of ink and airtime devoted to a vocal minority of women promotes the idea that this minority’s experience is somehow universal. Low-income and working-class women, black women, and other women of color don’t see their mothering experiences and concerns reflected in the mommy media machine, and we get the cultural message loud and clear: Affluent white women are the only mothers who really matter.”

Motherhood, Activism and Politics: Writing at The American Prospect Online, Kara Jesella looks at maternalist politics, which have a long history in American culture.


One Response to “Double Dose: Know Any Great Leaders?; Comment on HHS “Conscience Clause”; It’s Not Just About the Rape Kits; Journal Issue Looks at Abstinence-Only Education Programs; World Wide Web of Pesticides; The Price of Beauty …”

  1. Jacqueline Says:

    re: mommy memoirs…

    I agree with her point, but one of the most heavily promoted mommy memoirs has been Rebecca Walker’s Baby Love. I wish she had analyzed this book a bit more.

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