March 1, 2009

Double Dose: Report on Public Funding and Family Planning; Women in Iran; Teen Girls on Chris Brown & Rihanna; Doctor Wins Sex-Discrimination Suit; Where You Live Determines Dietary Health …

Publicly Funded Family Planning Programs Make Sense: This new report (pdf) from the Guttmacher Institute on the essential role of family planning shows the pay-off: prevention of nearly 2 million unintended pregnancies and more than 800,000 abortions each year, saving billions of dollars.

“Report co-author Rachel Benson Gold called the family planning program ‘smart government at its best,’ asserting that every dollar spent on it saves taxpayers $4 in costs associated with unintended births to mothers eligible for Medicaid-funded natal care,” reports the AP.

Iran’s Women Are Taking On The Mullahs: “Iranian women, and not just the sporting queens or Nobel prize winners, are standing up to the mullahs. And some of them are experiencing a frightening political backlash,” writes Katherine Butler at The Independent. A strikingly good story, it provides an in-depth look at life in Iran. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this one.

Sex-Discrimination Suit at Boston Hospital: Dr. Sagun Tuli, a 39-year-old neurosurgeon, filed a lawsuit against her employer, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and her boss, Dr. Arthur Day, the chairman of the neurosurgery, alleging a hostile work environment and retaliation against her when she complained.
After a seven-week trial, a jury agreed and awarded Tuli $1.6 million, reports the Boston Globe.

Read more analysis from Vanessa Merton at Feminist Law Professors.

Facts Matter Most: When you need to be reminded that kids today are (generally) all right, check in with Mike Males, a senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco who also heads up YouthFacts.org, which aims to debunk media myths, such as all girls are “girls gone wild.”

Star Tribune columnist Gail Rosenblum recently wrote about a lecture Males gave, sponsored by the University of Minnesota’s Konopka Institute for Best Practices in Adolescent Health, that separated fact from fiction.

Plus: Here’s a great response to the media coverage of Chris Brown & Rihanna, penned by Alex Pates, 15, and Ansheera Ace Hilliard, 17, members of the Chicago-based Females United for Action. FUFA is a youth group that works on issues of violence against women and media justice.

Beautiful Cervix Project: It took a headlamp and a lot of mojo, but photos of a cycling cervix are now available. From the author’s introduction: “I am a 25 year old woman who has never given birth.  My intention with this project was to better understand my cycle and the changes in my cervix throughout the month. As a doula and student midwife, I used this project to help me see how a cervix might look different throughout the cycle in the absence of vaginal infections and to understand speculum exams.”

Another Sign of the Financial Crisis: We know advertising standards have loosened over the years, but it took an economic downturn for some media outlets to let alcohol and sex ads go prime time, reports the L.A. Times.

Food/Access Studies: There’s new research out linking the availability of healthy food and the quality of one’s diet with place of residence. The studies, by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, appear in the March 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the December 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Place of residence plays a larger role in dietary health than previously estimated,” said Manuel Franco, MD, PhD, and lead author of the studies, in this release. “Our findings show that participants who live in neighborhoods with low healthy food availability are at an increased risk of consuming a lower quality diet. We also found that 24 percent of the black participants lived in neighborhoods with a low availability of healthy food compared with 5 percent of white participants.”

Paging Mr. Whipple: A Toilet Paper Crisis: “The national obsession with soft paper has driven the growth of brands like Cottonelle Ultra, Quilted Northern Ultra and Charmin Ultra — which in 2008 alone increased its sales by 40 percent in some markets, according to Information Resources, Inc., a marketing research firm,” writes Leslie Kaufman at The New York Times.

“But fluffiness comes at a price: millions of trees harvested in North America and in Latin American countries, including some percentage of trees from rare old-growth forests in Canada. Although toilet tissue can be made at similar cost from recycled material, it is the fiber taken from standing trees that help give it that plush feel, and most large manufacturers rely on them.”


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