March 23, 2009

Double Dose: Economy Affects Family Planning; Health Care System Failing Immigrants; SEIU and CNA Agree to Work Together on Unionizing; Common Ground on Abortion Is Closer Than You Think …

Economy Puts Focus on Family Planning: Women’s health centers are seeing an uptick in the number of patients seeking family planning services and health care, and the increase is tied to the economy, reports NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Providers say the increased cost of contraceptives is part of the problem leading to unplanned pregnancies. Women pay up to $60 for a single month’s supply of birth control pills. As a result, many can’t afford them. Transportation is also an issue, especially in rural areas, according to Susan Wicklund, a doctor and owner of the Mountain Country Women’s Clinic in Livingston, Mont.

“One of the biggest hurdles that women are having … is trying to find money for gas, trying to find transportation, in some way, shape or form to get here,” Wicklund says.

Standing on Common Ground: Looking for common ground on abortion? It’s right in front of us, argues Jodi Jacobson in a well-researched and well-written article detailing efforts on all sides to reduce the number of abortions.

Cutting Care: Several recent articles and reports address how the U.S. health system fails immigrants: Detained immigrants across the country are not receiving basic medical care, and 90 detainees have died in custody in the past four years, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center issued a report, “Dying for Decent Care” (pdf), that notes health care for detainees held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement “is deteriorating, and many officials responsible for that care are alarmed.”

A Human Rights Watch report, “Detained and Dismissed,” focuses on women’s struggles to obtain health care in immigration facilities. The report documents dozens of cases in which the immigration agency’s medical staff either failed to respond to health problems or responded only after considerable delays.

Plus: Faced with budget cutbacks, local governments are cutting non-emergency health services to undocumented immigrants, reports the Associated Press. And USA Today covers a health fair aimed at recent immigrants, age 19-25.

SEIU and CNA Agree to Work Together: “Two of the nation’s fastest-growing labor unions — the Service Employees International Union and the California Nurses Association — ended a bitter yearlong dispute on Wednesday by agreeing to work together to unionize hospital workers and push for universal health coverage,” writes Steven Greenhouse in The New York Times.

“We have buried the hatchet,” said Rose Ann DeMoro, president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. [...]

For years there have been tensions between the two unions, which have competed to unionize registered nurses. The 1.8-million-member service employees’ union represents 80,000 nurses, while the California association represents 85,000 nurses. But the California association will soon become the largest nurses’ union in American history, with 150,000 members, when it merges with United American Nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Union.

As part of their agreement, the service employees and the California nurses say they will seek to unionize many hospitals around the country, concentrating on the nation’s largest hospital systems. Nurses from those hospitals would generally join the nurses’ union while the other employees would join the S.E.I.U. In Florida the two will create a joint union of registered nurses.

Sorry, Pope: Marriage Isn’t A Condom: In this excellent NPR commentary, Nancy Goldstein takes on Pope Benedict XVI’s assertion that condoms increase the problem of HIV infection. “People aren’t going to stop having sex. Access to condoms won’t make them have more sex. And denying people access to condoms, or to accurate sexual information, won’t make them have less sex,” said Goldstein. NPR also has international reaction (via AP).

Plus: The Washington Post weighs in with an editorial on “condom sense.”

The Cost of Being Born at Home: Miriam Perez, who writes at Feministing and Radical Doula, has a piece at RH Reality Check that tackles the class and race complexities surrounding advocacy of home births, along with the economic, cultural and political barriers to low-income women giving birth outside a hospital.

Don’t miss the comments, including this one pointing to several community-based organizations that welcome low-income women, such as the D.C. Developing Families Centers.

Public Deliberations: Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, published a memo to staff that offers some insight into how one hospital is trying to avoid massive layoffs to meet large budget shortfalls. The budget imbalance is due to “reductions in state funding, a slowdown in research spending, and because the number of people we have on staff is not proportionate to our expected level of patient volume.”

IWD Around the World: Feminist Peace Network provided a great run-up of events tied to International Women’s Health Day. Now the blog features reports from some of those events. All IWD posts are filed here.


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