Update: A second public event has been added, also co-sponsored by Our Bodies Ourselves: “Systemic Violence or Informed Consent? The Politics of New Reproductive Technologies and Medical Experimentation in India” is the theme of the program at MIT on Tuesday, April 23, which will include the film screening and remarks by Sama’s co-founder, Sarojini N. The event will take place in MIT Bldg. 5, Room 217, at 7 p.m.
The rise of commercial surrogacy has led to numerous concerns and conversations involving women’s health and medical ethics. On Monday, April 22, Our Bodies Ourselves will sponsor a screening of “Can We See the Baby Bump, Please?” — a documentary film about commercial surrogacy in India that explores the ethical challenges.
The global reach of medical tourism and commercial surrogacy spawns a range of clinics and practices across big cities and small towns in India. Anonymous, often with limited choice, woman’s labour is yet again pushed into the background. A whiff of immorality, the absence of regulation and the erasure of the surrogate’s experience collude to produce a climate of callousness. May we see the baby bump please? meets with surrogates, doctors, law firms,agents, and family in an attempt to understand the context of surrogacy in India.
Sarojini N., the director and co-founder of Sama, will attend the screening and discuss her organization’s recent research on surrogacy practices, and strategies to address medical malpractice and the exploitation of women hired to be gestational mothers.
“Already a booming business in India, where estimates suggest that 25,000 couples a year travel to arrange surrogacy contracts and there are about 1,000 surrogacy centers, this practice is soon expected to extend to Nepal, where poor women with limited economic opportunities will likely be attracted by the prospect of earning money by bearing children for others,” wrote Norsigian.
Hey Austin and Chicago! Judy Norsigian, founder and executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, and film director Carol Ciancutti-Leyva are heading to your cities to host a screening and discussion of the acclaimed documentary “Absolutely Safe,” examining the controversy over breast implant safety. The screenings are free and open to the public.
The Austin event kicks off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19, at the University of Texas at Austin AVAYA Auditorium (ACE 2.302).
The Chicago screening takes place on Thursday, March 21, at 5:30 p.m. at the UIC School of Public Health auditorium. Registration is requested by UIC.
Interested in learning more about OBOS’s work and women’s health issues? Attend a private house party with Judy Norsigian in Austin (Monday, March 18) or in Chicago (Wednesday, March 20), where she’ll be joined by Christine Cupaiuolo, managing editor of the 2011 edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.” To learn more about these special events, email office AT bwhbc.org or call (617) 245-0200 x10.
At a time when more women than ever are getting breast implants, fewer voices than ever seem to be asking “Why?” And fewer still are asking “Are they safe?” ABSOLUTELY SAFE takes an open-minded, personal approach to the controversy over breast implant safety. Ultimately, ABSOLUTELY SAFE is the story of everyday women who find themselves and their breasts in the tangled and confusing intersection of health, money, science and beauty.
At its heart, ABSOLUTELY SAFE is driven by the experience of the filmmaker’s own mother. Diagnosed in 1974 with breast tumors, Audrey Ciancutti underwent a double mastectomy with silicone-implant reconstruction surgery. A year later, her implants ruptured, and soon after, her health steadily declined. Like thousands of other women, Audrey believes her debilitating illnesses—joint pain, chronic fatigue, scleroderma — are linked to her breast implants; however, most doctors and researchers deny this link. Among the debate by plastic surgeons, toxicologists, attorneys, implant manufacturers, whistle blowers, government officials and activists, ABSOLUTELY SAFE introduces more everyday women like Audrey who make choices about their breasts in our appearance driven culture.
The Selling Sickness 2013 conference is taking place in Washington, D.C. this week, focusing on the idea of “disease mongering,” or defining health and disease in a way that promotes the sales of drugs and other treatments that may be unnecessary.
Discussion topics include a number of subjects related to women’s health, including increased or inappropriate use of drugs for conditions such as osteopenia (NPR did an excellent story a few years back on the creation of osteopenia as a disease and the drugs marketed to treat it); the problems with routine screening, such as using mammograms to detect breast cancer; and a workshop on unanswered questions on HPV vaccinations.
The conference is attracting academics, health journalists, consumer advocates, and others. Today’s line-up includes a roundtable on the women’s health movement chaired by Harriet Rosenberg of York University. From the description:
The women’s health movement that began in the 1960s challenged the status quo of medicine and heathcare across the board: clinical research, clinical practice, treatment approvals, trial conduct, pt-dr relations, patient education, disease funding, patient rights … it was a revolution. this roundtable will bring the Whm up to date and discuss what it has to offer current issues.
Participants include Colleen Fuller, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; Anne Rochon Ford, Canadian Women’s Health Network; Cynthia Pearson, National Women’s Health Network; Gail Hornstein PhD, Mount Holyoke College; and Kay Dickersin, Consumers United for Evidence-Based Healthcare.
On Friday, Pearson will be joined by NWHN staff members Amy Allina and Kate Ryan to lead a symposium on “Fighting Disease-Mongering with Evidence to Protect Women’s Health.”
Lizz Winstead, Daily Show co-creator and producer, has a message for what’s at stake on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
On the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, we celebrate four decades of legal abortion — which has undoubtedly changed and saved many women’s live. Yet we recognize there is still much work to be done.
Let your friends and colleagues know there’s still time to join the campaign — we’ll be delivering the books to D.C. starting in late February.
OBOS is also taking part in Trust Women Week to urge policy makers to support reproductive justice and access to contraception and abortion. You can add your name to a petition that will be sent to legislators. If you’re in San Francisco, there’s an event this Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Justin Herman Plaza.
Many organizations and individuals are covering the anniversary today from a variety of personal and political perspectives. Below are some interesting commentaries and reminders of what has been accomplished and how we can work to ensure access for all women. Please leave your favorite links in the comments.
At reddit, two abortion clinic workers have answered a wide variety of questions from readers.
The narrative that abortion gives women and transpeople an opportunity to live the rest of our lives, to become a doctor or a lawyer or whatever isn’t true for everyone. For some of us, abortion just provides one more day. One more day to live our lives exactly the way we want to. For some of us the decision isn’t political, it’s essential. It is essential to taking care of the children we already have, to circumventing difficult medical experiences or to just not be pregnant. There is nothing heroic about having an abortion. It is an essential part of reproductive health care.
Bridgette Dunlap at RH Reality Check describes an unusual argument for the legality of abortion, resting not in the right to privacy but in the 13th Amendment forbidding slavery and involuntary servitude. This argument suggests the government may not outlaw abortion, because “to do so would be to require physical service from a woman for the benefit of a fetus.”
Monica Raye Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong issued a statement celebrating Roe but highlighting the bigger picture: “We need to discuss how issues such as economics, immigration reform, interpersonal violence, rape and lack of comprehensive sexual education are all a part of the equation needed for reproductive justice to be achieved.”
The primary victims of the pro-life strategy are poor women. The pro-life movement has stepped up its legislative game in the past two years, introducing and passing record-breaking numbers of anti-choice laws in 2011 and keeping the victories coming in 2012. They’ve made it not only hard to get an abortion, but to get birth control, sex ed and health care generally.
The result is that Roe’s promise of abortion rights isn’t available to large swaths of the American population.
The National Women’s Law Center explains that the health care reform allows states to pass laws banning private insurance coverage of abortion in state exchange plans, meaning that “in twenty states, a woman will not be allowed to purchase an exchange-based health plan that covers abortion services, and also may not be able to purchase a plan that provides insurance coverage for abortion at all.”
Here in Boston, the Men’s Initiative Project of Jane Doe Inc., a coalition of community-based sexual assault and domestic violence groups, is gearing up for the sixth annual Massachusetts White Ribbon Day. The event will take place at the State House in Boston on March 7.
The event, which is open to all, aims to change societal attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate and make excuses for violence against women, promote safety and respect in all relationships and situations, and promote the safety, liberty and dignity of survivors.
OBOS Board member and MA White Ribbon Day co-chair Jarrett Barrios spoke about the campaign recently in an interview with New England Cable News’s BroadSide program. Jarrett talks about the negative media imagery about women that young boys receive, and the need for parents and others to take responsibility for actively countering those messages and work to address rather than excuse them.
Jarrett calls for people to wear the white ribbon, to talk to their sons about treating women with respect, and to not “let go” of or overlook the language that is used against women that is part of a culture of violence.
This January 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.
Many local and national pro-choice and reproductive justice organizations will be holding events to mark this anniversary. Here are a couple we know about, including one we’re excited to co-sponsor with many great organizations in our home state. Know of others or want to share your own? Please tell us in the comments!
In Massachussetts, we’re co-sponsoring the Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary Legislative Breakfast and Lobby Day at the State House on January 14. You can sign up to attend the breakfast, with keynote speaker Paula Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and/or the lobby events, a chance for you to meet with elected officials after a brief advocacy training. Please sign up online to participate.
NARAL Pro-Choice America is holding its annual Blog for Choice Day on Jan 22. This year, they’re asking participants to share their own stories of why they’re pro-choice. As usual, you can sign up online to join in.
While there’s plenty of reason to celebrate 40 years of Roe, legislative attacks on reproductive and sexual health and choice continue around the country. In 2011 alone, U.S. lawmakers enacted 92 abortion-restricting provisions in bills designed to curtail women’s rights to health services. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that number shattered the previous single-year record of 34 such provisions enacted in 2005. Such laws make it more difficult, and painful, for women to exercise their legal right to terminate a pregnancy.
What will you do this year to ensure reproductive justice for all? For starters, check out Our Bodies, Our Votes, our resource for fighting back against attacks on women’s health and rights. While you’re there, order a sticker and submit your picture to our awesome Click It, Stick It, Share It tumblr.
Marion McCartney, Cindy Pearson, Diana Zuckerman, Judy Norsigian, Erin Thornton, Vivian Pinn with National Press Club organizer Debra Silimeo / Photo: Angela Edwards
It’s official: Washington knows we’re coming.
Our Bodies Ourselves kicked off the Educate Congress campaign Monday at the National Press Club, joined by some of the smartest and most influential experts on women’s health. The campaign aims to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to every member of the U.S. House and Senate.
Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, said, “What seems to be going on somewhat right now is public figures’ willingness to make statements of fact that are so badly wrong.”
We’re indebted to Malcolm M. Woods, who did a terrific job live-tweeting the event using the hashtag #OBOSCongress (tweets are still available if you want to check ‘em out), and without whom this whole event would not have been possible.
Keep watching this blog and Twitter and Facebook for more campaign updates. We’ve already passed the 15 percent mark of our $25,000 goal to send books to all members of Congress. Huge thanks to all of our supporters!
Please consider pitching in today to help us meet our goal. We’re offering perks for donations of all sizes — but perhaps the greatest perk is knowing you, too, helped to educate Congress.
You’ll need to register in advance for each session, though both are free. You do not have to be a law student, lawyer, or member of either organization to participate, although if you are affiliated with a law school your participation may benefit an LSRJ chapter. More info is available here. Details below:
If You Care About Environmental Justice, You Should Care About Reproductive Justice
Date: Wednesday, October 10, 6-7 p.m. Eastern
Speakers: Kelli Garcia (Senior Counsel, NWLC) and Kimberly Inez McGuire (Senior Policy Analyst, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health)
Registration link: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/955538943
If You Care About the First Amendment, You Should Care About Reproductive Justice
Date: Wednesday, November 7, 6-7 p.m. Eastern
Speakers: Kelli Garcia (Senior Counsel, NWLC) and TBD
Registration link: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/946617903
A previous webinar covered the intersection of criminal justice and reproductive justice, and is available for viewing. It will look like you’re registering for an upcoming webinar, but once you input your email, etc., you’ll be taken to a link to view the recorded webinar.
[P]regnancy-related deaths and unsafe abortion remain a major public health problem in large parts of the world. Most countries that allow women to die in childbirth also allow them to die and suffer from unsafe abortions. Why? Because they do not value women’s health and lives, including when they are pregnant. This is what makes women’s right to safe abortion a public health and human rights issue.
The number of maternal deaths has declined substantially globally between 1990 and 2008, while the number of deaths from unsafe abortion has fallen to 47,000 per year in 2008. However, the proportion of all maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion has not been reduced but remained at 13% of all maternal deaths in that period. In 2008, of the 43.8 million induced abortions globally, 21.6 million were unsafe, 98% of them in developing countries. (Sedgh et al, Lancet 2012) And an estimated 5 million of those 21.6 million women each year had to be hospitalised for treatment of complications of unsafe abortion, (Singh et al, Lancet 2007) putting a heavy burden on scarce hospital resources (up to 50% of hospital maternity beds in some countries). [...]
Adolescent girls suffer the most from complications of unsafe abortion and have the highest unmet need for contraception. More than 40% (8.7 million) of the 21.2 million unsafe abortions in developing countries in 2008 were in young women aged 15–24 years. Of these, 3.2 million were adolescents aged 15–19 years, and 5.5 million were aged 20–24 years. (Shah, RHM May 2012)
The website also explains the clinical, legal and social health determinants that characterize what is meant by “unsafe abortion”:
Illegal or legally restricted
Self-induced without help or information
Incorrect usage (of pills)
Little or no access to treatment for complications
Stigma and fear and isolation
Violence, rejection (by family, school, work) and murder, including of doctors providing abortion care
Today is the first ever Global Female Condom Day, intended to help raise awareness of the female condom as an option for pregnancy and HIV prevention. The female condom is the only available woman-initiated method available that offers dual protection.
Medical Students for Choice, an organization that works to destigmatize abortion and increase training opportunities for medical students and residents, has opened registration for its annual conference.
Topics to be covered include surgical techniques, psycho-social issues in abortion care, patient counseling, legal issues, abortion pain management, and unsafe abortion in global conflict settings. In addition, the conference includes sessions on family planning issues such as contraceptive choice and barriers to obtaining birth control.
Statistic via Medical Students for Choice
There’s also a session titled “The Pro-Choice Medical Student’s Guide to Applying to Residency” — an important issue when so many hospitals are denying women access to the full range of reproductive health services.
It’s been too long since I visited The Scholar & Feminist online, a webjournal published by the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW), but I’m glad I chose now to get reacquainted. The current issue is “Religion and the Body,” and it’s well worth a visit.
Guest editor Dominic Wetzel asks in the introduction: “What role does gender, sexuality and the body play in producing the idea that religion, and particularly politicized religion, is equal to conservatism, while secularism is progressive?”
Originally posed during a 2007 conference, “The Politics of Religion and Sexuality,” the question frames this journal issue in both expected and unexpected ways. Divided into three parts, the issue tackles Science, Bodies and the Christian Secular; Islam, Bodies, Politics; and The Art of Queer(ing) Religion.
All articles can be read free online. The issue also includes a related reading list and online resources. And don’t miss the art gallery, featuring a provocative mix of video, mixed media, cartoons and photos. I was particularly struck by “Phallometer,” a deceptively simple piece by Ins Kromminga that captures the restrictive boundaries that define one’s sex.
Plus: BCRW is hosting a public event March 21 that readers in the New York area may be interested in attending. The focus is Karla FC Holloway‘s new book, “Private Bodies, Public Texts: Race, Gender, and a Cultural Bioethics.” From the event description:
This important and groundbreaking work examines instances where medical issues and information that would usually be seen as intimate, private matters are forced into the public sphere, calling for a new cultural bioethics that attends to the complex histories of race, gender, and class in the US.
Holloway, the James B. Duke Professor of English and Professor of Law at Duke University, will take part in a conversation that also includes:
* Tina Campt, Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Director of the Africana Studies Program at Barnard College.
* Farah Griffin, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies and Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University.
* Saidiya Hartman, Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia University.
* Rebecca Jordan-Young, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies at Barnard College.
* Alondra Nelson, Associate Professor of Sociology and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia University.
The salon starts at 6:30 p.m. in Sulzberger Parlor, 3rd Floor Barnard Hall. I’m seriously hoping Holloway’s book travels take her to Chicago sometime soon …
Saturday, March 10, 8:45 a.m.-2 p.m.
University Club, 123 University Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
“Women, HIV, and the 40th Anniversary of Our Bodies, Ourselves,” an inter-generational symposium featuring Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies, Ourselves; in observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the book that inspired the women’s health movement. $35 registration includes luncheon.