THE DAILY REPORT
ON THE BLOGS | Blogs Comment on Plan B Court Decision, Pope's Visit to Africa, Other Topics
[March 24, 2009]
The following summarizes selected women's health-related blog entries.
~ "Controlling the Means of Reproduction: An Interview with Michelle Goldberg
," Mandy Van Deven, RH Reality Check
: The blog entry includes excerpts from an interview with Michelle Goldberg, "long-time critic" of reproductive health policies under the administration of former President George W. Bush and author of a new book titled "The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World." In the book, Goldberg "illustrates how U.S. policies act as a catalyst for or an impediment to women's rights worldwide and puts forth a convincing argument that women's liberation worldwide is key to solving some of our most daunting problems," Van Deven writes. According to Goldberg, women's "intimate lives have become inextricably tied to global forces," and when writing the book, she found how U.S. movements were "branching out into global issues." She said, "In a way, the American antiabortion movement has had more of an impact abroad than at home. The Supreme Court has limited the movement's scope for action here, so Republican presidents have rewarded their base by giving them tremendous influence over international policy on women's health -- an area few Americans pay attention to." She continues that her "book is about the realm of reproductive and women's rights. ... Giving women more control over their bodies and their lives is one of the most important things you can do to fight poverty. One of the things I hope this book does is show how that works." Van Deven concludes the interview by asking Goldberg to explain how issues like female circumcision, abortion and sex education and their "societal context" affect "a woman's ability to freely make her own choice." Goldberg responds, "The problem is not that women are having too many children; it's that, in many places, they lack access to contraception and are having more children than they say they want ... One of the dilemmas I tried to bring forward in the book is that sometimes the ideal of choice, venerated by Western feminists like me, conflicts with the goals of women's rights advocates on the ground" (Van Deven, RH Reality Check, 3/23).
~ "The Morning After Pill Controversy
," Cristina Page, Huffington Post
blogs: A court ruling on Monday that FDA's justification for age restrictions on Plan B emergency contraception lacked credibility because it was politically based "could not have been more dismissive of the Bush administration's maneuverings," Page writes. The judge ruled that the Bush administration "had politicized a once-respected regulatory agency, the FDA, for bending the law to its right wing purposes" by imposing the age restriction on nonprescription access to EC, Page continues. She writes, "The court's condemnation was comprehensive and brutal, all but labeling the Bushies political criminals." The U.S. district court on Monday "finally got the anti-contraception genie, and some of the bullying lawless politics of the Bush era, back in the bottle, at least for now," Page adds, concluding, "As for the public's trust, that'll take a little longer to fix" (Page, Huffington Post
~ "Dish Respect: The Political Crackdown on IVF Embryo Screening
," William Saletan, Slate
's Human Nature: Saletan writes that the state senator who authored a proposed Georgia bill (S.B. 169
) that would restrict
in vitro fertilization is wrong in claiming that the revised bill simply restricts the creation of human embryos for scientific research. Saletan urges readers to "read the bill, not the spin." According to Saletan, the language of the bill "does not, as advertised, require that IVF be" used for "creating children." He says that the bill actually requires that IVF be used "for the treatment of infertility," adding that the "two phrases are not equivalent." According to Saletan, "[s]ometimes IVF is done to create children for couples who are technically or even clearly fertile" but where health conditions like kidney disease might prevent them from carrying a pregnancy. The bill, as written, "would prohibit this," and it is likely that it will be revised to allow this. However, the "more interesting question" posed by the revision is "what will happen to the use of IVF for creating children when there's no question of infertility at all." Saletan continues, "That use is the screening of embryos for unwanted genes: preimplantation genetic diagnosis." The Georgia bill is "just the beginning" of a nationwide project "to regulate the emerging industry of embryo production," Saletan writes. The bills to restrict IVF will "make exceptions for infertility but not PGD," he continues, concluding, "The battles, then, will be fought over which uses of PGD are acceptable. And these fights will be every bit as ugly as the preceding fights over abortion" (Saletan, Slate
's "Human Nature," 3/20).
~ "Talkin' About the Pope and Hope
," Tamar Abrams, Huffington Post
blogs: Pope Benedict XVI's "recent pronouncements
during his travels in Africa that condoms and abortions are morally wrong have filled me with religious indignation," Abrams writes. She continues she has witnessed the "increasing number of married women with AIDS in Kenya" and spoken with Kenyan women "who longed for access to contraceptives so they could better care for the children they already had." She writes, "Even so, I probably wouldn't take on the Pope ... except for "recent media reports that the Vatican's top bioethics official spoke out against the excommunication of the two Brazilian doctors who performed an abortion on a nine-year-old girl. Abrams continues that the official's stance is "a pro-choice stand," adding, "Abortion is not a black-and-white issue for me." She writes, "That's why the pro-choice position has always seemed to me to be the reasoned" stance, adding, "It allows individuals to make decisions and encourages each of us to define for ourselves what is reasonable and acceptable." She concludes that if Benedict "truly listens to the people of Africa and other continents and opens his eyes to their hopes for their own lives -- I have faith he may begin to understand the healing power of condoms and the life-affirming necessity for legal, safe abortions" (Abrams, Huffington Post
~ "Time To Give a Neglected Contraceptive a Little More Love
," Kathleen Reeves, RH Reality Check
: A recent article
published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology
"takes a fresh look at the emergency contraception we often forget about -- IUDs," Reeves writes. The authors of the article report that few women surveyed knew much about IUDs, she writes, adding that she is "not surprised by their ignorance" as she was unaware IUDs could be used as EC. According to Reeves, the copper IUD, which is effective for up to 12 years, can be effective in preventing pregnancy if inserted up to five days after unprotected sex. "At that point I wondered, 'Why would you go for such a long-lasting contraceptive when you're just looking for emergency contraception?'" Reeves writes, adding, "But this makes a lot of sense. Though some women who seek emergency contraception may have had a one-time malfunction, many others may be looking for a form of contraception that works for them." The IUD "has always been an important option for women who can't tolerate birth control pills or who'd rather not use hormonal birth control because of family health history," Reeves writes, concluding, "Bravo to this report for pointing to a neglected contraceptive choice that may be, for many women, just what the doctor ordered" (Reeves, RH Reality Check, 3/23).Antiabortion-rights Blog
~ "Americans United for Life Condemns Ruling Increasing Minors' Access to Dangerous Plan B
," Matthew Eppinette, Americans United for Life blog
: The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York's recent ruling to allow over-the-counter access to Plan B for 17-year-old girls is "incomprehensible" and allows "a minor to walk into any pharmacy and obtain this drug without medical oversight or parental involvement," Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life said. According to Eppinette, the court ordered the drug to be available to girls age 17 "under the same conditions it is currently available to adult women and to do so by April 21, 2009." In addition, the court's ruling "will not permit the FDA to undertake another internal review of the drug's safety record or to receive evidence on the increased need to protect minors from dangerous medications and even sexual abuse." Denise Burke, AUL vice president of legal affairs, said, "Increasingly easy access to Plan B may have severe and unintended consequences such as the continued exploitation and sexual abuse of young girls," adding, "It is all too easy for this unsafe drug to be used by sexual predators and even the victims themselves to hide the abuse from parents and the authorities" (Eppinette, Americans United for Life blog, 3/23).
The information contained in this publication reflects media coverage of women’s health issues and does not necessarily reflect the views of the National Partnership for Women & Families.