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Articles by Category for ‘Public Health’

Drive to end child marriage stalls, but fightback begins

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Drive to end child marriage stalls, but fightback begins
See: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/10/drive-to-end-child-marriage-stalls-but-fight-back-begins/?hpt=hp_t5

It is a descent into barbarism. This month’s plan by Iraqi parliamentarians to legalize girl marriage at nine follows the Pakistan Islamic Council’s demand last month that Pakistan abolish all legal restrictions on child marriage, the revelation that Syrian refugee girls are being sold into marriage against their will and the increased pressure in many African countries to ease the restrictions on selling child brides.

As one who has believed that worldwide disgust at child marriage would end it within our generation, I now find that progress has stalled. In the last few months Mauritania, at the center of allegations of girls’ genital mutilation to make possible the early marriage of eight and nine year olds, has resisted pressure to enforce a legal minimum age for marriage. Attempts in Yemen to do so have also failed. Even Nigeria has been considering reducing the age of marriage.

In India, the rape of girls has brought millions on to the streets in protest and it has now been exposed as the country with 40% of the world’s child brides.

The U.N. says one in nine girls is a bride by the age of 15 and that by 2020 142 million – or one in three girls in developing countries – will be married before they are 18. For example, in Afghanistan 60% are married before they turn 16 and in Niger 74% of girls are married by the age of 18.

See: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2014/04/10/drive-to-end-child-marriage-stalls-but-fight-back-begins/?hpt=hp_t5

Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive-Health Law

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive-Health Law
Law Allows Greater Access to Birth Control; Some Provisions Struck Down
See: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579488974266047850?4579488974266047850.html

The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld most of a controversial reproductive-health law, handing the government a victory in its effort to provide greater public access to birth control and family-planning education in the heavily Catholic country.

The implementation of the law has been held up for more than a year by a legal challenge from the Roman Catholic Church and faith-based groups. Advocates of the law say it will help slow the country’s population growth of more than 2% annually by providing people more access to contraceptives. However, opponents say the law violates the Philippine Constitution by promoting contraceptives, imposing population control and violating religious beliefs.

“This monumental decision upholds the separation of church and state and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” said Congressman Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the law.

See: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579488974266047850?4579488974266047850.html

47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Assessing progress for populations worldwide
See: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/newsletter/desanews/feature/2014/04/index.html#10580

When the Commission on Population and Development gathers on 7-11 April, it will be only a few months away from the 20-year anniversary of the largest intergovernmental conference on population and development ever held – the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994. Ahead of this event, John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division, spoke with DESA News about some of the demographic trends during the past 20 years and some of the issues currently at stake.

“One of the most important areas of progress goes to the heart of what the Cairo conference was all about,” said Mr. Wilmoth, highlighting how this conference represented a shift in thinking. “Across the board, the emphasis went toward thinking about individuals and their rights and needs, and addressing those issues first and foremost,” he explained. He also pointed to positive changes that can be seen over the past 20 years including a substantial reduction of fertility around the world, increases in life expectancy as well as greater recognition of the contribution of international migration to development.

The conference in Cairo helped galvanize action that brought major improvements in the well-being of people around the world. When representatives and experts from a large number of UN Member States and NGOs gather in New York for the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development, they will assess the status of implementation of the Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments in 1994.

“There is still an unfinished agenda of the Cairo conference,” Mr. Wilmoth said, pointing to the need to continue to improve life expectancy, reduce fertility, enhance access to education, and achieve gender equality. “It means continuing to work on fulfilling the rights and needs of individuals across the life course,” Mr. Wilmoth added.

See: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/newsletter/desanews/feature/2014/04/index.html#10580

Report Underscores Critical Importance Of Family Planning Programs And Providers

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Report Underscores Critical Importance Of Family Planning Programs And Providers

See: http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/mariposa-daily-news-2014/173-march/12511-new-report-underscores-critical-importance-of-family-planning-programs-and-providers

March 20, 2014 – The highly successful U.S. family planning effort helps almost nine million disadvantaged women each year to plan their families and protect their health, while also substantially reducing rates of unintended pregnancy and saving taxpayers more than $10 billion, according to a new Guttmacher report. The report, Moving Forward: Family Planning in the Era of Health Reform, synthesizes the most up-to-date data and analyses to illustrate the current and future importance of family planning programs and the safety-net providers at the heart of this effort.

“Our report is grounded in the fact that effective contraception is a critical part of basic health care for women,” says Rachel Benson Gold, one of the report’s authors. “Publicly funded family planning services improve low-income and young women’s ability to use the method of contraception that is best for them, thereby yielding significant health, social and economic benefits for women, their families and society as a whole.”

Government programs-notably, the Title X national family planning program and the joint federal-state Medicaid insurance program-have worked together for decades to improve access to contraceptives and related care.

See: http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/mariposa-daily-news-2014/173-march/12511-new-report-underscores-critical-importance-of-family-planning-programs-and-providers

The Strange Bedfellows of the Anti-Contraception Alliance

Friday, March 28th, 2014

The Strange Bedfellows of the Anti-Contraception Alliance

See: http://prospect.org/article/strange-bedfellows-anti-contraception-alliance

On March 25, lawyers representing the owners of a large purveyor of craft supplies and a much smaller cabinetry business will appear before the Supreme Court in what has become the cornerstone case for opponents of the Affordable Care Act’s “contraception mandate.” Under the mandate, all employers-with the exception of religious organizations like churches-must include free birth control under their insurance plans. Catholic schools, hospitals, and social service agencies immediately raised a ruckus. Dozens of Catholic nonprofits filed lawsuits against the government, arguing that because their tradition forbids them from using birth control, paying for it-even indirectly through insurance-would violate their religious liberty.

The cases that will appear before the highest court deal with a different question: whether the owners of corporations can claim religious liberty exemptions. But there’s a stranger and less remarked-upon twist. The owners of both companies aren’t Catholic at all; one is Mennonite, and the other is evangelical. While Catholic doctrine teaches that birth control undermines God by allowing couples to separate reproduction from sex, Protestants-whether they’re Presbyterian, Episcopalian, or Southern Baptist-have no such theological objection.

Strictly speaking, the Protestant entrepreneurs involved in the upcoming case aren’t trying to get an exemption for all 16 forms of contraception covered under the ACA. They claim-backed up by a growing multitude of pro-life activists-that Plan B and the IUD cause abortion by preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Every year, more scientific evidence piles up to support the opposite conclusion: that contraceptives only work before the egg has been fertilized, not after.

See: http://prospect.org/article/strange-bedfellows-anti-contraception-alliance

TV Lowers Birthrate (Seriously)

Friday, March 28th, 2014

TV Lowers Birthrate (Seriously)
See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/opinion/kristof-tv-lowers-birthrate-seriously.html

In the struggle to break cycles of poverty, experts have been searching for decades for ways to lower America’s astronomical birthrate among teenagers.

We’ve tried virginity pledges, condoms and sex education. And, finally, we have a winner, a tool that has been remarkably effective in cutting teenage births.

It’s “16 and Pregnant,” a reality show on MTV that has been a huge hit, spawning spinoffs like the “Teen Mom” franchise. These shows remind youthful viewers that babies cry and vomit, scream in the middle of the night and poop with abandon.

Tweets containing the words “birth control” increased by 23 percent on the day after each new episode of “16 and Pregnant,” according to an analysis by Melissa Kearney of the University of Maryland and Phillip B. Levine of Wellesley College. Those tweets, in turn, correlate to increased Google searches along the lines of “how get birth control pills.”

Kearney and Levine find that regions with a higher audience for “16 and Pregnant” and the “Teen Mom” franchise had more of a drop in teenage births. Over all, their statistical analysis concludes that the shows reduced teenage births by 5.7 percent, or 20,000 fewer teenage births each year. That’s one birth averted every half-hour.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/20/opinion/kristof-tv-lowers-birthrate-seriously.html

Sex-Selective Abortion Bans Highlight Faultlines in the Reproductive Rights Movement

Friday, March 21st, 2014
Sex-Selective Abortion Bans Highlight Faultlines in the Reproductive Rights Movement
by Eesha Pandit, Independent Writer & Activist 

On March 5, the South Dakota house passed a bill that would ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus, otherwise known as “sex-selective” abortions. State Reps. Stace Nelson (R-Fulton) and Don Haggar (R-Sioux Falls) both invoked the changing demographic in South Dakota as their primary motivation for supporting the bill. Haggar noted on the house floor, “Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was. There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally OK. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state.”

Sex-selection bans, which have proliferated around the country as of late, are often proposed in the context of race, invoking Asian-American immigrants to a state. If the South Dakota bill passes, the state, which has a history of passing extreme anti-choice legislation, will become the eighth in the country to pass a sex-selective abortion ban. Yet these bills have yet to merit a larger conversation, either within the national reproductive rights and feminist movements or in the news more generally.

The NSA, Planned Parenthood and Your Right to Privacy

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

The NSA, Planned Parenthood and Your Right to Privacy
See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-conn/the-nsa-planned-parenthoo_b_4886630.html

Not a week seems to go by without more revelations about how the NSA (or recently the UK’s GCHQ) monitors our electronic communications. Who knew that all the time I waste watching old movie clips on YouTube was so interesting to the guardians of our national security.

And not a week goes by it seems without some state legislature in some Republican-controlled state considering yet another bill to intrude on and harass women who need to get abortions. Indeed, to judge by the sheer number of such bills since 2011 you might conclude that women’s pregnancies constitute the biggest problem that the nation faces. There is apparently no need to regulate the financial industry, or toxic chemicals that spill into rivers or the shale drilling business, whose rail cars keep blowing up — those things will sort themselves out. But pregnant women gone wild… they’re the ones the state needs to restrict.

On the face of it these two phenomena don’t have much in common with each other. But they are, in fact, connected by a crucial Constitutional conundrum: Is there a “right to privacy?”

The privacy question has come up mostly in our discussions of the NSA and the new digital world we all inhabit. Beyond the problem of whether our surveillance laws, written during the age of rotary phones, are hopelessly outdated, we have discussed what kind of privacy any of us can now expect when virtually everything we do (or is that everything we virtually do?) leaves an electronic footprint.

But privacy, at least as a legal matter, is also at the center of the debate over abortion and family planning more broadly.

In the 1965 case “Griswold v. Connecticut” which overturned that state’s ban on the sale of contraceptives, the Supreme Court found that there was a basic right to privacy in the “penumbras” of the Constitution. Those “penumbras” included the 9th amendment’s language that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” and in the definition of personal liberty found in the 14th amendment.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-conn/the-nsa-planned-parenthoo_b_4886630.html

Health care law’s results breed hope among doctors for birth control access

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Health care law’s results breed hope among doctors for birth control access
See: http://triblive.com/news/healthnews/5660379-74/women-birth-control#axzz2utw50oOi

Sex education hasn’t ended them. Neither have public service campaigns or family planning services.

But unplanned pregnancies should begin to decline more rapidly during the next several years because the federal health care law allows cheaper, easier access to birth control, women’s health scholars say. About half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, an overall figure that’s nearly unchanged in two decades.

“I think it will make a dent. How much is to be determined,” said Dr. Sonya Borrero, an assistant professor of medicine in women’s health at the University of Pittsburgh. “I think all of us are really hopeful this will alleviate some of the barriers to contraceptive use.”

Borrero and other health advocates note promising early indicators. The number of privately insured women who pay no out-of-pocket fees for contraception ballooned last year under the Affordable Care Act, according to the nonprofit Guttmacher Institute in Washington.

By spring, 40 percent of privately insured women on birth control pills paid nothing, up from 15 percent in fall 2012. Among women who use a contraceptive ring, the number climbed from 23 percent to 52 percent, Guttmacher reported.

The pattern should make it easier for women to choose and stick with birth control methods that are most effective for them, crushing “cost barriers” that can keep more useful and lasting contraceptives out of reach, said Adam Sonfield, a Guttmacher analyst.

See: http://triblive.com/news/healthnews/5660379-74/women-birth-control#axzz2utw50oOi

Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of Catholics finds

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of Catholics finds
See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/pope-francis-faces-church-divided-over-doctrine-global-poll-of-catholics-finds/2014/02/08/e90ecef4-8f89-11e3-b227-12a45d109e03_story.html

Most Catholics worldwide disagree with church teachings on divorce, abortion and contraception and are split on whether women and married men should become priests, according to a large new poll released Sunday and commissioned by the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision. On the topic of gay marriage, two-thirds of Catholics polled agree with church leaders.

Overall, however, the poll of more than 12,000 Catholics in 12 countries reveals a church dramatically divided: Between the developing world in Africa and Asia, which hews closely to doctrine on these issues, and Western countries in Europe, North America and parts of Latin America, which strongly support practices that the church teaches are immoral.

The widespread disagreement with Catholic doctrine on abortion and contraception and the hemispheric chasm lay bare the challenge for Pope Francis’s year-old papacy and the unity it has engendered.

See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/pope-francis-faces-church-divided-over-doctrine-global-poll-of-catholics-finds/2014/02/08/e90ecef4-8f89-11e3-b227-12a45d109e03_story.html