Archive for the ‘American Culture’ Category

June 28, 2008

Double Dose: Planned Parenthood Expands Reach; Pack Journalism in Search of a Pregnancy “Pact” in Gloucester; Teen Pregnancies at 30-Year Low; Mandating Insurance Coverage for Anorexia; Will Women Give Hormone Maker a Second Chance? …

Planned Parenthood Expands its Reach: “Flush with cash, Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide are aggressively expanding their reach, seeking to woo more affluent patients with a network of suburban clinics and huge new health centers that project a decidedly upscale image,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Unfortunately the full story is available to subscribers only, but the WSJ health blog has a summary that includes these remarks:

Despite some critiques to the contrary, Planned Parenthood insists it’s not compromising is long-held focus on serving the poor with birth control, sexual-health care and abortions. Officials there say they take a loss of nearly $1 on each packet of birth-control pills distributed to poor women under a federal program that funds reproductive care. But they make a profit of nearly $22 on each month of pills sold to an adult who can afford to pay full price. That money helps subsidize other operations, including care for the poor as well as pursuing Planned Parenthood’s political agenda.

“It is high time we follow the population,” said Sarah Stoesz, who heads Planned Parenthood operations in three Midwest states. She recently opened three express centers in wealthy Minnesota suburbs, “in shopping centers and malls, places where women are already doing their grocery shopping, picking up their Starbucks, living their daily lives,” she said.

Pregnant in Gloucester: Concerning the 18 high school students pregnant in Gloucester, Mass, that have received national news coverage for supposedly choosing to get pregnant and raise their children together, Kelly McBride, who covers media ethics for Poynter Institute, has an excellent piece on pack journalism in search of a “pact..” Meanwhile, the high school principal who first said their was evidence of a pact defends his comments and his memory.

Plus: Courtney Macavinta of Respect RX discusses her own sex “pact” at age 15 and the cycle of disrespect that leads girls who don’t value themselves to make choices “in which the fine print (that life is about to get even harder) is written in invisible ink.”

Teen Pregnancies at 30-Year Low: Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Lisa Anderson reports on the latest pregnancy statistics released by the Guttmacher Institute.

Pregnancies — whether they end in birth, miscarriage or abortion — among women age 15 to 19 dropped to 72.2 per 1,000 women in 2004, down from a peak of 117 per 1,000 women in 1990 [...]

While some 700,000 women age 15 to 19 become pregnant every year, the rate has declined 36 percent since it peaked in 1990. The rate of abortions among teens also plummeted, to 19.8 per 1,000 women in 2004 from a high of 43.5 per 1,000 in 1988.

But researchers are keeping a close eye on the numbers, as there are some signs that the drop may be reversing:

Despite decades of improvement and for reasons yet unknown, there is statistical evidence that the drop in pregnancy rates, the age of first sexual activity and contraceptive use among teens stalled after 2001.

The exception may be in the teen birthrate. After a 14-year decline, the birthrate, meaning the number of live births, among women age 15 to 19 rose 3 percent in 2006 to 41.9 per 1,000 women from 40.5 per 1,000 women in 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until more data are compiled, it is unclear whether the 2006 uptick in births was an isolated blip or the harbinger of a more significant and negative change on the teen reproductive landscape, according to David Landry, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute.

Mandating Insurance Coverage for Psychiatric Ailments: Illinois will become the 17th state to mandate insurance coverage for treatment of anorexia and bulimia, assuming the governor signs a bill recently approved by the state Legislature.

Bonnie Miller Rubin and Ashley Wiehle of the Chicago Tribune write:

The measure is part of a larger national debate about addressing inequities in insurance coverage between psychiatric and physical ailments.

More than 12 million Americans, mostly young women, have eating disorders in their lifetime, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. The organization ranked risk of death as higher with anorexia than with any other mental illness. Among patients with anorexia, almost half of all deaths are suicides, according to ANAD. Yet many insurers balk at covering the tab, which can run as high as $2,500 a day.

“I’ve met so many parents who have had to refinance their homes,” said Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates), one of the bill’s sponsors.

But others cite the financial cost of such a law. Richard Cauchi, health program director for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Illinois has taken “an unusual action” for 2008, when the trend is to move away from mandates on business and governments.

“There’s more pressure now to repeal and restrict mandates than to enact new ones,” he said..

“Neglected Infections of Poverty”: “Despite plummeting mortality rates for most infectious diseases over the last century, a group of largely overlooked bacterial, viral and parasitic infections is still plaguing the nation’s poor, according to a report released this week,” writes Wendy Hansen in the L.A. Times.

“Many of the diseases are typically associated with tropical developing countries but are surprisingly common in poor regions of the United States, according to the analysis, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.”

The study’s author, Dr. Peter Hotez, chairman of George Washington University’s department of microbiology, immunology and tropical disease, says there are 24 diseases affecting at least 300,000 Americans, and possibly millions. Poverty-stricken regions, including Appalachia, inner cities, the Mississippi Delta and the border with Mexico, are the areas most severely affected.

Will Women Give Hormone Maker a Second Chance?: “Can Wyeth win back the 40 million Premarin and Prempro users it’s lost since 2002 — along with $1 billion a year in profits — with a new menopause drug? Or will the once-bitten women who have filed more than 5,000 lawsuits claiming the hormones gave them cancer feel fooled twice?” asks Martha Rosenberg at, in this look at Wyeth’s hope of marketing Pristiq as the first nonhormonal treatment for menopause symptoms.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Affects Women More: “The Army and Air Force discharged a disproportionate number of women in 2007 under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the military, according to Pentagon statistics gathered by an advocacy group,” reports The New York Times.

While women make up 14 percent of Army personnel, 46 percent of those discharged under the policy last year were women. And while 20 percent of Air Force personnel are women, 49 percent of its discharges under the policy last year were women. By comparison for 2006, about 35 percent of the Army’s discharges and 36 percent of the Air Force’s were women, according to the statistics.

The information was gathered under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a policy advocacy organization.

Gardasil Not Approved for Older Women: “U.S. regulators have told Merck & Co they cannot yet approve Merck’s application to expand marketing of its cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil to an older group of women, the drugmaker said on Wednesday,” reports Reuters.

“Merck had applied for the use of Gardasil in women ages 27 through 45. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a letter regarding the application that it has completed its review and there are ‘issues’ that preclude approval within the expected review time frame, Merck said.”

Exercise as a Tonic for Aging: The New York Times reports on an updated series of physical activity recommendations for older adults from the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine, which are expected to match new federal activity guidelines due in October from the United States Health and Human Services Department.

“Contrary to what many active adults seem to believe, physical fitness does not end with aerobics,” writes Jane Brody. “Strength training has long been advocated by the National Institute on Aging, and the heart association has finally recognized the added value of muscle strength to reduce stress on joints, bones and soft tissues; enhance stability and reduce the risk of falls; and increase the ability to meet the demands of daily life, like rising from a chair, climbing stairs and opening jars.”

June 10, 2008

Constructing the First Lady: Ida McKinley and “Fragile Beauty”

Press speculation is now underway about the type of first lady Michelle Obama might be (comparisons to Barbara Bush? Please).

Writing at Disability Studies, Penny L. Richards, a research scholar at the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, acknowledges that she’s usually not interested in discussing the role of the first lady, but she offers an informative analysis of how the physical disabilities of First Lady Ida McKinley helped shaped the press coverage of her husband’s presidency.

Throughout her adulthood, McKinley had epilepsy, intense headaches and phlebitis, which made walking difficult. She was also under great emotional stress: Both her daughters died young in the 1870s; her only brother was murdered. Richards notes that she was probably overmedicated with sedatives.

A discreet press was mostly silent about her “fainting spells,” and “a special campaign biography” of her was released to frame her health in the most gentle terms. Reporters, forbidden to write about her health, instead focused on her gowns. Her husband, President William McKinley, was devoted to Ida’s care: like many partners, he could see the subtle signs of an impending seizure, and knew how to cover for her during required periods of rest. And that devotion became part of his public reputation. Even her absence on the campaign trail was seen as helpful — a gap that reminded voters of the candidate’s tender personal life. Her “frailty” was held up as ladylike and unthreatening, in contrast to Mary Baird, Mrs. William Jennings Bryan, the trained lawyer and reform-minded woman who was rumored to write her husband’s fiery speeches. [...]

Privately, some in Washington read Ida McKinley as a manipulative “invalid,” using her perceived delicacy to demand indulgences (think of Zeena in Ethan Frome for a well-known literary version of this archetype). She would appear at state events propped in a velvet chair, with the understanding that she would neither rise from her seat nor shake hands. She wore luxurious lacy gowns and jewels, to enhance her persona as a fragile beauty. (She was the first First Lady to appear in newsreels, so she had a much wider audience for her fashion choices than previous First Ladies). Ida McKinley crocheted a lot — a fine sickbed tradition; while in the White House she reportedly made 3500 pairs of slippers to raise money for charities. There’s some evidence that she was sedated not only for medical necessity but to control her “irrational” personality.

Despite her husband’s devotion, the story of Ida McKinley seems to be a lesson in the early power of image and how the first lady becomes the most acute projection of our gendered desires.

For additional reading, Richards lists sources on McKinley and on the representation of feminine illness.

* * * * * *
In other news …

- “Three islanders from Lesbos told a court Tuesday that gay women insult their home’s identity by calling themselves lesbians,” reports the AP. “The plaintiffs — two women and a man — are seeking to ban a Greek gay rights group from using the word ‘lesbian’ in its name.”

- Some great feminist events in New York this week, via Feministing.

- Following up on the study we mentioned last week on how well journalists cover health news, I wanted to mention that the study’s lead author, journalism professor Gary Schwitzer, has his own blog, in addition to publishing Health News Review.

April 22, 2008

Mortality Inequality: Life Expectancy Declines for Some U.S. Women

The Washington Post has a front-page story today that’s a shocker: Lfe expectancy for some U.S. women is on the decline, and the data points to a growing inequality between the best-off and worst-off counties. Here’s the rundown:

In nearly 1,000 counties that together are home to about 12 percent of the nation’s women, life expectancy is now shorter than it was in the early 1980s, according to a study published today.

The downward trend is evident in places in the Deep South, Appalachia, the lower Midwest and in one county in Maine. It is not limited to one race or ethnicity but it is more common in rural and low-income areas. The most dramatic change occurred in two areas in southwestern Virginia (Radford City and Pulaski County), where women’s life expectancy has decreased by more than five years since 1983.

The trend appears to be driven by increases in death from diabetes, lung cancer, emphysema and kidney failure. It reflects the long-term consequences of smoking, a habit that women took up in large numbers decades after men did, and the slowing of the historic decline in heart disease deaths.

It may also represent the leading edge of the obesity epidemic. If so, women’s life expectancy could decline broadly across the United States in coming years, ending a nearly unbroken rise that dates to the mid-1800s.

There was some decline noted for men, too, but the decline was smaller (affecting 4 percent of males) and limited to fewer areas of the country. According to researchers, higher HIV/AIDS and homicide deaths contributed substantially to the life expectancy decline for men, but this was not the case for women.

The news comes from this study (PDF) published in PLoS Medicine, an open-access journal of the Public Library of Science. The study is based on mortality statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and population data from the U.S. Census, gathered for the years 1961-1999, the last year data was available from the NCHS.

Overall, the average life expectancy nationwide increased during that period from 66.9 years to 74.1 years for men, and from 73.5 years to 79.6 years for women. (It’s worthwhile noting, as this story does, that life expectancy is “not a direct measure of how long people live,” but is “a prediction of how long the average person would live if the death rates at the time of his or her birth lasted a lifetime.”)

Between 1961 to 1983, life expectancy kept going up everywhere, mostly because the death rate from heart attacks kept going down due to better prevention and improvements in medicine. But then researchers noticed a change:

By the early 1980s, however, the rapid gains were coming to an end. The low-hanging fruit on the tree of heart-attack prevention and treatment had been picked. Further strides tended to happen mostly in places where people were already healthy and long-lived.

As a consequence, the rise in longevity began to stagnate in places with the least-healthy people. In those counties, life expectancy increased by only one year (from 74.5 to 75.5) between 1983 and 1999, while in the healthiest places the life expectancy of women had reached 83.

It was during this interval that women’s life expectancy fell in nearly 1,000 counties. If one adds counties where it rose only insignificantly, then 19 percent of American women — nearly 1 in 5 — are now experiencing stagnating or falling life expectancy.

Precisely why these 1,000 counties are the most affected is something for further study. Christopher J.L. Murray, a physician and epidemiologist at the University of Washington who led the study, tells the Post that it “would be a reasonably obvious strategy” to target them for aggressive public health campaigns.

Campaigns are a positive step, but I wonder whether this news will spark more than well-intentioned programs. Addressing health inequalities in poor communities means addressing everything from access to medical care to access to grocery stores stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. It means providing real economic opportunity.

Maybe the fact that the life expectancy decline is pretty much to the United States — save for some African countries stricken by the AIDS epidemic, or Russia following collapse of the Soviet Union — will make this country’s shocking health disparities an issue in the presidential campaign, right up there with, say, flag pins.

February 24, 2008

Double Dose: BCA Blasts Approval of Avastin; Short Maternity Leave for Women in the Military; Do Cellphones Affect Male Fertility?; More on Migraines; Debating “Juno”

Score One for the Patient: A breast cancer patient whose medical coverage was canceled by her insurer was awarded more than $9 million from her for-profit insurer, Health Net Inc., reports the L.A. Times. “The award issued by an arbitration judge was the first of its kind and prompted Health Net to announce it was scrapping its cancellation practices that are under fire from state regulators, patients and the Los Angeles city attorney.”

BCA Blasts Approval of Avastin: In a surprise move, the FDA approved the use of Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer. “The big question was whether it was enough for a drug temporarily to stop cancer from worsening — as Avastin had done in a clinical trial — or was it necessary for a drug to enable patients to live longer, which Avastin had failed to do. Oncologists and patient advocates were divided, in part because of the drug’s sometimes severe side effects,” writes Andrew Pollack.

“In the end, the agency found a compromise of sorts. It gave Avastin ‘accelerated’ approval, which allows drugs for life-threatening diseases to reach the market on the basis of less than ideal data, subject to further study.”

Breast Cancer Action blasted the decision. “The FDA has lowered the bar on the approval of breast cancer therapies. At a time when many questions are being raised about how the FDA approves drugs for market, today’s decision is a victory for drug companies, but not for patients,” BCA Executive Director Barbara A. Brenner said a statement posted at Prescription Access Legislation.

Short Maternity Leaves, Long Deployments: The Washington Post reports on the difficulty women in the military face if they want to have children and keep their jobs. Ann Scott Tyson writes:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed severe strains on the Army, including longer deployments in which soldiers serve 15 months in the war zone, followed by 12 months at home. Under that system, a woman who wishes to have a child and remain with her unit must conceive soon after returning home so she can give birth, recover and prepare for her next overseas tour.

Female soldiers interviewed over the past year say the tight schedule cuts short precious time for mother and infant to bond and breast-feed, forcing women to choose between their loyalty to their comrades — as well as their careers — and nurturing their families.

Vaccinating Boys for Girls’ Sake?: The New York Times looks at efforts to convince parents to vaccinate boys to prevent the spread of human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer. HPV also causes anal and penile cancers, but these are much more rare. (Read our previous coverage of the HPV vaccine Gardasil here.)

One woman tells the NYT, “You don’t want to say it’s just the girls’ problem … But my sons won’t contract cervical cancer. And genital warts are treatable. I’m very skeptical. What risks will I expose them to?”

Another woman comments, “If there was a vaccine I could take that would get rid of prostate cancer, why wouldn’t I? … If there was a vaccine that sons could get that would get rid of breast cancer, most parents wouldn’t hesitate. But cervical cancer is the ‘sex cancer.’”

Do Cellphones Affect Male Fertility?: Some studies suggest as much, but the data is limited, writes Tara Parker-Pope, adding, “There are some global concerns about declining male fertility in industrialized countries, but issues like pollutants, exposure to chemicals and smoking are likely far more worrisome culprits than cellphones.”

The Studies Surrounding DHEA: The L.A. Times “Healthy Skeptic” column looks at the anti-aging claims of DHEA and finds it’s no fountain of youth.

More on Migraines (and Music): I’ve mentioned the group blog on migraines at The New York Times — be sure to check out Paula Kamen’s latest post on leaving the rabbit hole. Kamen, who suffers from chronic daily headaches, also appeared last week on WBUR’s “The Point”.

Jeff Tweedy hasn’t weighed in yet, but I did see Wilco Tuesday and Wednesday (braving cold and limited views) during the band’s five-night run in Chicago. Yeah, OK, that had nothing to do with women’s health, but I had to boast somewhere.

Debating “Juno”: Will “Juno” win best picture? Stay tuned. In the meantime, young birth mothers discuss what they liked and didn’t like about the film’s portrayal of adoption.

February 15, 2008

In Their Heads: The New York Times Hosts a Blog on Migraines

As someone with a standing prescription for Maxalt, I have a particular interest in migraines. But even if you’ve never reached for an Excedrin, you’ll find the writing irresistible at The New York Times’ blog, Migraine: Perspectives on a Headache.

Whether it’s Oliver Sacks’ description of geometric hallucinations, Siri Hustvedt’s discussion of acceptance, or Paula Kamen’s summary of the rabbit hole she went down in search of a cure for her chronic daily headache (which is different than a migraine), the stories offer an engaging mix of memoir and analysis.

Future bloggers will include neurologist Klaus Podoll and, one of my favorite musicians, Jeff Tweedy, who went through rehab for a prescription to painkillers prescribed to help manage his migraines.

Plus: NPR’s Talk of the Nation on Tuesday hosted a discussion about migraines with Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute.

Guests include NYT bloggers Siri Hustvedt and Paula Kamen, who notes that she is about to celebrate her 18th anniversary with her headache — the story of which is wonderfully chronicled in “All In My Head.” Journalist Neal Conan wishes Kamen a speedy divorce.

February 12, 2008

Skinny Trumps Healthy

Tara Parker-Pope has the skinny on “Skinny Bitch,” the hit diet book that has surprised some readers with its strict vegan coda (the Times reported on that aspect last year) and its harsh words for readers.

Parker-Pope points to this Salon story, in which Julie Klausner raises questions about the book’s castigatory language: “This book is a PETA pamphlet in chick-lit clothing and an innovative fusion of animal rights activism with punitive dieting tactics that prey on women’s insecurities about their bodies.” Klausner continues:

The relentless bullying peppered throughout the authors’ advice accounts for much of the book’s humor, including quips like “you need to exercise, you lazy shit,” “coffee is for pussies” and “don’t be a fat pig anymore.” It was a formerly anorexic friend of mine who nailed it when she read excerpts from the book. “When you have an eating disorder,” she told me, “that’s the voice you hear in your head all the time.”

Thanks to “Skinny Bitch,” women who hate their bodies no longer need rely on their own self-loathing to stoke the flames of what seems like motivation but is actually self-flagellation — penance for the sin of being too fat. Now dieters can have the convenience of a former model (Barnouin) and a former modeling agent (Freedman) putting their transgressions in the black-and-white terms of right and wrong. “If you eat crap,” they chirp, “you are crap.”

Get ready for more in-your-face advice: The authors have signed an additional two-book deal, on top of their follow-up cookbook, “Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.”

In a NYT story earlier this year on the cookbook, Kimberly Latham, a fashion publicist in New York, acknowledges that she “would never have read ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma.’ I’m not even sure I know what an omnivore is. But I know what a skinny bitch is, and I know I want to be one.”

Debbie Rasmussen, the publisher of Bitch magazine and a vegan herself, provides a more rational analysis: “Obviously I’m in favor of assaults on the food industry … On the other hand, the constant equating of skinny and healthy is something I have a real problem with. And replacing junk food with vegan junk food is not my idea of how to change our unhealthy food culture.”

Plus: The Christian Science Monitor looks at the rise of self-help books, including “Skinny Bitch,” that criticize the reader.

January 27, 2008

Double Dose: New Study on Caffeine and Pregnancy; “Drive-By” Mastectomies; The Pill Protects Against Cancer; Treating Aging Like a Disease

Caffeine and Pregnancy: A new study (PDF) published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology says too much caffeine during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage. Researchers found that “pregnant women who consume 200 milligrams or more of caffeine a day — the amount in 10 ounces of coffee or 25 ounces of tea — may double their risk of miscarriage,” reports The New York Times.

Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., and lead author of the study, said pregnant women should try to give up caffeine for at least the first three or four months. But some physicians had reservations about the study.

“Just interviewing women, over half of whom had already had their miscarriage, does not strike me as the best way to get at the real scientific question here,” said Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and of epidemiology, at Columbia University Medical Center. “But it is an excellent way to scare women.”

Kindness RX: Women’s eNews looks at a social-support campaign by and for pregnant African American women, who are nearly four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women.The community-based campaign is called “100 Intentional Acts of Kindness Toward a Pregnant Woman.”

No More Drive-By Mastectomies: Celebrities, activists and lawmakers called on Congress this week to pass the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007, which would require that insurers cover up to a 48-hour stay in a hospital after a woman has had a mastectomy if the doctor and patient deem it necessary. Lifetime’s website collected 20 million signatures in support of the legislation.

According to the Baltimore Sun, only 10 states require up to 48 hours of coverage after mastectomies, and 10 states have no specific time limit. The remaining 30 have no protections.

Interview with Lisa Jackson: Melissa Silverstein interviews fillmmaker Lisa Jackson, who went to the Congo to take the testimony of women and girls being raped and sexually assaulted for the last decade in her new film, “The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo.” The film made its premiere at Sundance and will appear on HBO in April.

Plus: Chances are you saw the Oscar nominations this week, but did you catch the nominees for the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards? Here’s the full list of nominees.

The Pill Protects Against Cancer: “British researchers found that women taking the pill for 15 years halved their chances of developing ovarian cancer, and that the risk remained low more than 30 years later, though protection weakened over time,” reports the Washington post. The findings were published Friday in The Lancet.

In response to the study, The Lancet’s editors called for oral contraceptives to be made more widely available to women over the counter.

Calcium Effects Boosted by Vitamin D: The combination of calcium and vitamin D is more effective than calcium alone in preventing bone loss in elderly women, according to a new study that will appear in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Buying into Botox: In a story about “How Not to Look Old,” a new advice book by Charla Krupp, a former beauty director at Glamour and columnist for More magazine, New York Times writer Natasha Singer notes that the book “is the latest makeover title to treat the aging of one’s exterior as a disease whose symptoms are to be fought to the death or, at least, mightily camouflaged.” She continues:

But the book offers a serious rationale for such vigilant attempts at age control, arguing that trying to pass for younger is not so much a matter of sexual allure as of job security. [...] Many people would shun a book if it were titled “How Not to Look Jewish” or “How Not to Look Gay” because to cater to discrimination is to capitulate to it. But the success of “How Not to Look Old” indicates that popular culture is willing to buy into ageism as an acceptable form of prejudice, even against oneself.

“Teeth” Provides Feminist Bite: In a review of the new film “Teeth,” a satire based on the myth of vagina dentata, Wesley Morris writes: “[T]here’s something almost subversive about Lichtenstein’s affection for his heroine and the pleasure she ultimately takes in re-appropriating a misogynistic myth. By the end of the film she’s not some virginal damsel. She’s on the verge of becoming a vaginal vigilante.”

Pop Goes Abortion: Yep. Another story about recent films that have avoided abortion … but this Newsday story goes further, addressing television’s representation (and lack thereof) as well: “More frequently, shows duck the issue by having characters back out at the last second (“Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place,” “The O.C.,” “Felicity,” “Sex and the City”) or miscarry (“Party of Five,” “Beverly Hills, 90210″ and “Melrose Place” – twice.) And Erica Kane? In 2005 she learned her baby wasn’t aborted after all, but transferred to another woman’s uterus.”

OK, it’s been ages since I watched “All My Children,” but he’s joking, right??

Plus: Susan J. Douglas puts in context “The Jamie Lynn Effect.”

January 19, 2008

Double Dose: Sex Ed Battles; Politics and Misogyny; Doctors Respond to Ovarian Cancer Email; Exercise and Cold Weather – Brrr

Sex Ed Battles: Via the Washington Post, in Montgomery County, Md., opponents of a new sex-education curriculum approved by the school board last year — the first in the district to address sexual orientation as a classroom topic — are challenging the part that describes homosexuality as innate, insisting it doesn’t meet the “factually accurate” standard set by Maryland state law.

Opponents also object to references made during the condom instruction to anal and oral sex. Their attorney said those passages violate a state prohibition against material that “portrays erotic techniques of sexual intercourse.” The case is being heard by Circuit Court Judge William Rowan III, who is expected to issue a written ruling. Here’s more background.

And in Park Ridge, Ill., there’s controversy over a freshman high school biology curriculum at Maine South High School (which happens to be where Hillary Clinton spent her senior year) that teaches about birth control. The lessons follow state code, said School Superintendent Joel Morris, but some parents are less than enthusiastic, especially about the part describing how to put on a condom.

Choice Stories: Courtney Martin reviews a new anthology, “Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion,” edited by Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont.

“In consistently original voices and beautifully crafted writing (not always such a hallmark of anthologies),” writes Martin, “these stories enfold you in a dark but deeply compelling fog and remind you of how totally powerful and pained we sometimes are.”

Birth Trends: The Washington Post looks at college-educated couples who have decided to have children while they’re still in their 20s, which strikes some as very young; according to demographic research, college-educated mothers are usually about 30 when they give birth to their first child.

“This is very significant data. It’s giving numbers to a trend people have been only inferring,” said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families. The data, she said, show that “there is this increasing divergence of highly educated women and less-educated women.”

Politics and Misogyny: You probably already read Bob Herbert’s amazing column this week, but if somehow you missed it, go now for honest truths like this: “If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.”

The Chris Matthews Fairy Tale: Echidne of the Snakes offers an all-inclusive take-down of Chris Matthews’ sexist comments about Hillary Clinton and other female politicians and authors. You might call Matthews’ apology a wee bit “incomplete.”

The Correct Clinton Stereotype: In an op-ed at the L.A. Times about gender stereotypes, author Susan Faludi describes a recent experience she had watching women skillfully and persistently handle their mothers’ medical needs and relates it to attitudes toward Hillary Clinton.

Global Population Under a Democratic President: “If a Democratic president enters the White House about a year from now, some experts in family planning anticipate a boon for mankind: a greater effort by the United States government to restrain world population growth,” writes Christian Science Monitor columnist David R. Francis in this piece on reversing the global gag rule.

Doctors Respond to Email: Ever see a health email take on a life of its own? Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times reports on a controversial message that has circulated online for years urging women to request a special blood test (CA-125) to screen themselves for ovarian cancer. A group of doctors has responded with their own email that they hope will soon be communicated as far and wide.

Deep Freeze: As I write, it’s 2 degrees in Chicago — and it’s expected to plunge to -20 below with wind chill. According to The New York Times, I have no excuse not to stick to my running. (Damn.) Of course, anyone with a fireplace and a good winter brew can easily convince me otherwise … Hope you all are warm!

January 13, 2008

Double Dose: A Modest Proposal for Pregnant Teens; C-Section Stats Under Review; Googling Your Health; New Info on Medicare and Health Insurance Coverage

A Modest Proposal: “Pregnant students in a Denver high school are asking for at least four weeks of maternity leave so they can heal, bond with their newborns and not be penalized with unexcused absences,” reports the Denver Post, which notes that Denver Public Schools has no districtwide policy, meaning it’s left up to schools to “to work out plans for students to continue their education.”

What that means is some schools have set a policy whereby girls who don’t show up for school the day after they give birth are charged with unexcused absences. Many of the comments on this story argue against “special treatment.”

Florida Considers Proposal to Teach “Abstinence Plus”: “The bill would still require that schools teach abstinence as ‘the only certain way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases,’” reports the AP. “But, the measure would require that starting in the 6th grade, sex education classes provide information about the health benefits and side effects of contraceptives.”

Iowa Gets Funding to Reduce Unintended Pregnancies: Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack launched a statewide project called “Iowa Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancies” that will focus on women ages 18 to 30. “As a woman, as a teacher, as a mother, I believe we have a responsibility to give all women in our state the knowledge and the means to prevent unintended pregnancies,” she said. From the Des Moines Register:

Half of all pregnancies in Iowa in 2006 were unintended, Vilsack said, citing state Department of Public Health statistics. Of those, 14 percent ended in terminations, she said, citing Iowa Barriers to Prenatal Care Project statistics.

Iowa ranks 48th in the nation in making family planning services available and 39th in its public funding for those efforts. More than half of Iowa’s counties do not have family planning centers, Vilsack said.

C-Section Statistics Under Review: “In 2006, 31.1% of U.S. births were by C-section, a 50% increase over the previous decade,” notes USA Today in a story that examines the debate over safety of elective c-sections.

For more information, check out this earlier post on c-sections and the rise of maternal mortality, as well as Rachel’s post on c-section rates by hospital.

FDA Takes Action on Biodentical Hormones: “The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on pharmacies that sell customized hormone mixtures as antidotes for menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, saying they are being promoted with false claims about their benefits and contain an ingredient the agency hadn’t approved,” reports the Wall St. Journal.

Here’s more from Well, where an interesting discussion follows, and the FDA press release.

Do You Google Your Health?: Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. doesn’t mind if you do and suggests websites that provide accurate, up-to-date medical information. Don’t forget Rachel’s great post on online health research — it includes questions to ask when evaluating the reliability of websites.

Medicare and Health Insurance Coverage: The Kaiser Family Foundation this week released a new issue brief providing an overview of Medicare’s financing and the fiscal challenges the program faces in the coming decades.

KFF also released two updated fact sheets that provide the most current information and data on health insurance coverage for women ages 18-64. The first, Women’s Health Insurance Coverage, provides new statistics on health coverage, describes the major sources of health insurance, summarizes the major policy challenges facing women in obtaining health coverage, and provides data on the more than 17 million women who are uninsured.

The second fact sheet, Health Insurance Coverage of Women by State, provides state-by-state data on the uninsured rate, as well as rates of private insurance and Medicaid coverage.

December 29, 2007

Double Dose: Top Health Stories, Survey on Global Health Priorities and the Continuation of Putting Politics Before Science

The year that was …

Top Ten: From Women’s eNews — “Significant efforts were made during 2007 to advance women’s rights and to reduce health disparities and violence. Some of those efforts, however, fell far short: the U.S. abortion rights movement suffered a major defeat by the Bush appointees to the Supreme Court.” Here are the top 10 news stories of 2007 as identified by WeN.

Take Five: Society for Women’s Health Research has picked the top five women’s health stories of 2007.

Key Health Disparities Legislation: Kaiser Family Foundation summarizes about a dozen federal legislative initiatives introduced in the 110th Congress to address racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care.

Global Public Health Priorities: According to a new report based on the Kaiser/Pew Global Health Survey, preventing and treating HIV/AIDS is the top-rated health priority in countries surveyed in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia; fighting hunger and malnutrition is the top priority among countries surveyed in Latin America and the Middle East; and access to health care is the top priority in Central/Eastern Europe.

And for the Seventh Year in a Row … Ideology trumped public health in the United States. In a Boston Globe op-ed, Susan Wood, the former assistant commissioner for women’s health at the Food and Drug Administration, sounds off on two of the “more visible defeats that healthcare has suffered during this administration”: The limbo status of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the skyrocketing cost of birth control on college campuses.

“At a deeper level,” adds Wood, “the low priority healthcare gets from President Bush is reflected in his failure to staff important health-related positions with qualified individuals willing to provide science-based advice.”

Plus: Rebecca Traister covers the year in sex.

Update 12/30: Emily Douglas of RH Reality Check interviews Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for medical affairs, about PP’s guide to the year in women’s health (if anyone has the link to the guide itself, please leave it in the comments; it doesn’t seem to be on either organization’s website.).

December 22, 2007

Double Dose: An Easy-to-Digest Holiday Edition

Giving is Good: Yes, but how good? The L.A. Times looks at the research, some of which seems to indicate that gift-giving improves health and longevity.

Where to Give: A donation to Our Bodies Ourselves will not only make you feel better, but it’s guaranteed to improve the health of women around the globe.

Plus: See Katha Pollitt’s annual holiday donation list.

Dear Santa …: Flea’s story about answering a letter to Santa from an 8-year-old girl is my favorite holiday blog post. Mrs. Claus rocks.

Color Lines: Rosalyn Ball at The F-Word covers gender stereotypes via the toy aisles. And Feminist Law Professors identifies the most unnecessary use of pink. Ever.

A Holiday Bonfire Made Out of Tulle: “Disney likes to think of the Princesses as role models, but what a sorry bunch of wusses they are,” writes Barbara Ehrenreich at The Nation.

“Typically, they spend much of their time in captivity or a coma, waking up only when a Prince comes along and kisses them. The most striking exception is Mulan, who dresses as a boy to fight in the army, but — like the other Princess of color, Pocahontas — she lacks full Princess status and does not warrant a line of tiaras and gowns. Otherwise the Princesses have no ambitions and no marketable skills, although both Snow White and Cinderella are good at housecleaning.”

File Under News You Can Use: If you’re feeling under the weather and it seems like no cold medicine will do, you may start to wonder if there are any medical benefits to having, say, a hot brandy. Fortunately, there’s an answer to that question.

And, for those who want to ring in the new year organically, there’s news on that, too. Now, about that chocolate

December 16, 2007

Double Dose: Sexism in Film and Culture; Postpartum Depression Law Evaluated in N.J.; Breast Cancer Detection Depends on Doctor

A Culture Saturated in Sexism: “If you believe many of this year’s movies, tabloids and blogs, one of the most terrifying sights is an adult female body that is (gasp) slightly imperfect,” writes Johanna Schneller in a great column on sexism in popular culture.

The piece quotes many of our favorite bloggers and cultural critics — including OBOS Executive Director Judy Norsigian, who weighs in on the impact that unrealistic beauty expectations and public criticism of women’s bodies have on women’s health:

“Humans have a natural desire to feel attractive,” she said, “but our culture is pushing an extremely narrow norm of what constitutes beauty, and that results in critical risks: complications from elective surgery, from silicone ruptures to MRSA [the virulent methicillin-resistant staph infection that plagues hospitals]. Health risks from fad diets. New mothers being encouraged to lose their baby weight so soon that they can’t produce breast milk. These dangers are downplayed left and right by the beauty industry. Their marketing misleads the public in massive ways.”

N.J. Postpartum Depression Law Not Meeting Expectations: “Since Gov. Jon Corzine signed the landmark postpartum depression law 20 months ago, the state has spent $9 million on the program: half on TV and radio ads and brochures encouraging women to ask for help, and half on training more than 6,000 medical professionals in how to identify the illness,” writes Susan K. Livio in the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “But health experts and women using the hotline say the law has fallen short: Women are seeking help, but when they do, state and medical professionals often are not prepared to assist them.”

The story covers the shocking range of responses women have received after calling the hotline — one women was referred to a therapist who turned out to be a drug counselor; another had the police and rescue squad arrive unannounced at her home an hour after she told a hotline staffer she was six months pregnant and “depressed out of my mind.”

The Sunny Side of Legal Rights for Eggs: Writing at Women’s eNews, Gloria Feldt summarizes the state ballot initiatives to give legal rights to fertilized eggs, from Colorado, where a proposed initiative extends the state’s constitutional protections to “any human being from the moment of fertilization,” to similar initiatives underway in Georgia, Oregon, Michigan, Mississippi and Montana.

But far setting off alarm bells, Feldt writes that she is “sounding the gong of opportunity.”

Fetal personhood initiatives could be the best thing since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. Maybe even since Griswold v. Connecticut made birth control legal in 1965. That’s if, and only if, the pro-choice movement confronts the challenge head on and goes boldly toward a new moral rhetoric and legal agenda rooted in human rights.

Breast Cancer Detection Depends on Doctor: A study published in last week’s Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that doctors reading mammograms miss an average of two in every 10 cases of breast cancer. From the Chicago Tribune:

The researchers found that sensitivity — the ability to detect cancer when it is present — ranged from 27 percent to 100 percent, with a median of 79 percent. The false-positive rate — women who got a tentative diagnosis of cancer when they did not have it — ranged from zero to 16 percent, with a median of 4.3 percent. (A definitive diagnosis of cancer depends on a biopsy.)

The radiologists who were most accurate — that is, had the highest sensitivity without too many false alarms — tended to be those based at academic medical centers, followed by those who spent at least 20 percent of their time on breast imaging.

Plus: Gene Study Helps Explain Link to Breast Cancer

Respiratory Risk with Elective C-Sections: “Compared with newborns delivered vaginally or by emergency caesarean sections, those delivered by elective caesarean section around term have an increased risk of overall and serious respiratory morbidity. The relative risk increased with decreasing gestational age,” concludes a study (PDF) from Denmark. The study by researchers at Aarhus University Hospital was published last week at and is summarized in this press release.

Physical Activity, Not Body Fat, Matters Most: A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that seniors who are physically active on a regular basis live longer than unfit adults, regardless of their body fat, according to researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. The study was published in the Dec. 5 issue of JAMA.

Personal Health Records: The Chicago Tribune looks at reasons for putting together your own personal record system. And what better time than the holidays, when everyone’s gathered together, to discuss your family medical history?

December 9, 2007

Double Dose: “Push Presents”; Report on Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer; More Doctors Offer Online Services; “Juno” Delivers

FDA Panel Rejects Breast Cancer Drug: “A Food and Drug Administration panel dealt a sharp blow to biotech giant Genentech Inc. on Wednesday by refusing to recommend approval for the company’s high-profile drug Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer,” reports the L.A. Times. “The cancer drugs are controversial: They extend patients’ lives in some cases only by several months, and they can cost as much as $100,000 per patient per year. In recent years, federal regulators have been willing to approve drugs even if the benefits were only marginal. But that may be changing.”

Health Care Debate Needs to Include Women: “As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic leadership in the Legislature negotiate a health care proposal that they hope everyone can agree upon, it’s important to consider a California constituency that hasn’t received enough attention during this debate: women,” writes Carlina Hansen, executive director of the Women’s Community Clinic in San Francisco, in an op-ed published in the Sacramento Bee.

The op-ed was co-signed by other representatives of the Women’s Working Group on Universal Health Care, a California-based organization that focuses on educating and involving women and women’s organizations in state and local health reform efforts. Check them out.

The Doctor Will Email You Now: “Unlike the banking, restaurant and travel industries, the medical profession has been slow to embrace the Internet’s potential customer service benefits,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “But despite concerns about patient privacy, costs and time constraints, a growing number of physicians are encouraging patients to go online to do things such as check lab results and immunization records, request refills and appointments, and e-mail their physicians with non-urgent medical questions.”

What Says Love Like Diamonds in the Delivery Room? In another example of All The News That’s Fit for Wealthy Heterosexual White Women, the New York Times turns attention to “push presents,” given to the mother following childbirth. Art commemorating the baby’s birth — I get that. I also understand, as one commenter points out, the desire to celebrate the birth with something that can be passed down for generations. But the materialism depicted in this story is disturbing. What’s nine months of pregnancy and labor worth? How about at least six months of paid maternity leave — now that’s priceless.

Plus: New word association game — read the word “push,” visit Pushed Birth.

Environmental Toxin Can Collect in Breast Milk: “Scientists have discovered the mechanism by which a chemical known as perchlorate can collect in breast milk and cause cognitive and motor deficits in newborns,” reports HealthDay News. “Used since the 1940s to manufacture explosives and rocket fuel, the contaminant is still widely present in the water and food supply, experts say.”

The study by scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University appeared in the Dec. 3-7 advance online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here’s more from the EPA on perchlorate.

A Special Delivery: “‘Juno’ is the only film in recent history in which the protagonist seriously considers termination,” writes Jennie Yarbroff in Newsweek. Of course if you’ve read any of the reviews (which are almost uniformly stellar) you know that consideration is as far as it goes.

EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum writes in her review: “The old-school feminist in me wishes Juno spent more time, even a tart sentence or two, acknowledging that the options taken for granted by this one attractive, articulate teen are in fact hard-won, precious rights, and need to be guarded by a new-generation army of Junos and Bleekers, spreading the word by text message as well as by hamburger phone. Separate but equal truth: This movie is so delightful and good-hearted a portrait of the kind of new-generation army I’d like to hang with that I accept the admonition ‘Silencio, old woman.’”

Plus: NPR’s “All Things Considered” interviews crush-worthy Ellen Page, and critic Bob Mondello finds this season’s films are where the girls are.

Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer: Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Lowell & Boston University last month published an updated scientific review, Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer: New Evidence, 2005-2007. According to the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, the report concludes that “mounting evidence linking unintentional exposures to toxins in our workplaces and general environment contribute to the nearly one and a half million new cases of cancer in the U.S. in just 2007 alone.”

The report synthesizes the recent peer-reviewed scientific literature and finds compelling new evidence linking cancer with specific exposures, namely:

* Breast cancer from exposure to the pesticide DDT before puberty;
* Leukemia from exposure to 1,3-butadiene;
* Lung cancer from exposure to air pollution;
* Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from exposure to pesticides and solvents;
* Prostate cancer from exposure to pesticides and metal working fluids;
* Brain cancer from exposure to non-ionizing radiation; and
* A range of cancers from exposure to pesticides based on early findings from the Agricultural Health Study

Here’s the executive summary and the full 45-page report (PDF).

November 23, 2007

Double Dose: Billboard Sinks to New Low; Bring Back Affordable Contraceptives; Feminists Make Better Partners

Happy post-Thanksgiving!

Because Nothing Says Happy Holidays Like Concrete Shoes: Here’s a story from Lockport, N.Y. (via Feministing) that won’t bring much holiday cheer … From the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal:

Richfield Street-based American Concrete had a new billboard erected Monday on West Avenue. Over the image of a wrapped gift, the solicitous catchline, “Wife need new shoes?” is accompanied by the American Concrete logo and a greeting, “Happy Holidays.”

YWCA Executive Director Kathleen Granchelli and a representative of Big Brothers Big Sisters have spoken to the mayor about the billboard, but company owner Kevin McCabe defended the billboard, claiming that because his wife is OK with it, and his sister-in-law conceived of the ad, well, it must be funny.

Granchelli would like McCabe to think about the message it imparts to others, but he’s not budging.

“I think the mainstream understands it,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that some people are reading much more into it than they should.”

News Without Context: News reports have probed every angle in the Stacy Peterson disappearance and how her husband became the prime suspect. But when Anne Glauber tried to persuade media producers to interview a domestic violence advocate, there were no takers. Read Glauber’s story at Women’s eNews.

Affordable Family Planning: Noting the drastic increase in the cost of prescription contraceptives at college health centers, The New York Times advocates for legislation that would make university health centers and safety-net clinics eligible for the discount again. Rachel wrote about the legislation earlier this month.

Unilever Ditches Self Esteem as a Marketing Concept: Because there’s always good ol’ misogyny to promote instead. Lucinda Marshall plays the Unilever games so you don’t have to.

“Study: Feminists Are Better Mates”: You knew this already, but it’s still nice to see that headline in the Chicago Tribune. Judy Peres summarizes the study by Laurie Rudman of Rutgers University and graduate student Julie Phelan:

The results, appearing in the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Sex Roles, show that for both women and men there was a benefit to having a feminist partner. Feminist women were also more likely than others to be in a romantic relationship.

“If you’re a woman paired with a male feminist,” said Rudman, “you have a healthier relationship across the board” — better in terms of relationship quality, equality, stability and sexual satisfaction.

“And men paired with female feminists have greater sexual satisfaction and greater relationship stability,” she said. “So, [there were] higher scores on two of the four dimensions, with no difference on the other two.”

Princess Power: Disney’s $4 billion Princess empire is expanding its line of products to appeal to middle-class women. “There’s actually an entire line of Princess wedding dresses (in case you’re more of a Cinderella) with matching jewelry and tiaras. Sleepwear and housewares are next,” reports Newsweek. “Disney is also updating some classic narratives to make the protagonists more empowered, which may appeal to women who have kissed a few frogs.”

From the Files of Offbeat News: For your sophisticated environmentally conscious amusement, there’s now a site that promotes CheatNeutral (thanks, Kiki!).

November 16, 2007

Double Dose: Sexism in the ICU; Time Spent On Housework Linked to Women’s Pay; Paging Dr. Cliche; Ricki Lake’s Documentary on Birth – The New “Inconvenient Truth”?

Is There Sexism in Lifesaving?: “Want a surefire prescription for dreading old age? Delve into every study that explores the gender gap in medical care,” begins Carol Lloyd, who cites several studies, including one published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that found “women over the age of 50 are one-third less likely to be admitted to ICUs, and then once in ICUs are far less likely to received lifesaving medical interventions like mechanical ventilation and pulmonary artery catheterization than their male counterparts.”

Future Nobel Prize Winner?: Jennifer Block, author of “Pushed Birth,” notes that Ricki Lake’s documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” is such a hit in Australia, it’s being likened to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Legalization Opens Doors for Women in Mexico City: “Abortion remains illegal in the rest of Mexico, as it is in nearly all of Latin America,” writes Hector Tobar in the L.A. Times. “But in Mexico City, legalization is bringing a profound, if quiet, change to the way thousands of women lead their lives. In a country where unwanted pregnancies often strip women of their independence and ambitions, the extraordinary number of legal abortions taking place every day is beginning to diminish the procedure’s considerable cultural stigma.”

Plus: The New York Times profiles abortion doctor Susan Wicklund. “In her forthcoming book ‘This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor” (Public Affairs), Dr. Wicklund describes her work, the circumstances that lead her patients to choose abortion, and the barriers — lack of money, lack of providers, violence in the home or protesters at clinics — that stand in their way,” writes Cornelia Dean. “But she said her main goal with the book was to encourage more open discussion of abortion and its prevalence.”

Plus 2: Roman Catholic bishops this week approved voting guidelines for Catholics that are somewhat less rigid on abortion. Neela Banerjee writes in the Times:

“Abortion is among a few evils greater than others, the document asserts. But it also concedes that Catholics face difficult decisions when voting and in some cases might be able to vote for those who support abortion rights or stem cell research. ‘There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons,’ the document says.”

More Money = Less Housework: “In married working couples, the more money a woman earns, the less housework she will do, regardless of how much money her spouse makes, says Sanjiv Gupta, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst,” according to this release based on a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family. “Gupta goes further and says, based on his newest research, that for every $7,500 in annual earnings a married woman working full time makes, she can expect to do one hour less of routine housework each week.”

Paging Dr. Cliche: Disability Studies blog critiques a couple of recent episodes of “ER,” but as Penny L. Richards writes, the NBC series used to do much better by the disability community. “Characters with physical, mental and sensory disabilities have been presented as rounded human beings with full civil rights, at least as well as any other 44-minute network TV drama has done (admittedly, that’s a low standard to achieve).”

Geneticist Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch Dies at 100: I only learned about Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch this week when I came across her obit. After fleeing Nazi Germany, she first worked as a researcher at Columbia University and later became chair of the department of genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. And that’s not the half of it. Meet an underappreciated “truly great woman of science.”

Plus: There are approximately 40,000 Americans who are 100 years old or older, according to the New England Centenarian Study — and 85 percent of these centenarians are women. More from the L.A. Times.