Dallas County district attorney Susan Hawk's life fell apart after she took office: divorce, depression and thoughts of suicide. After she fired some of her most experienced staff and amid allegations of erratic or unstable behavior, she vanished from public view in late July. Nine weeks later, she re-emerged to announce that she had undergone two months of treatment at a mental health facility for Major Depressive Disorder. She says she’s ready once again to serve. Is she up to the job? (Some links in this post discuss suicide / suicidal ideation. Some readers may find linked content disturbing.) [more inside]
I had trouble saying more than a few words at a time, my voice croaking and words slurred or over-pronounced. I stuttered and gasped. I started leaving out words that weren’t essential, breaking my sentences down into telegrams, paid by the word or even the letter. Big words were a thing of the past. Or, as I would have said it then: Big. Words. Gone.
"Why, if my neighbor sees me looking sad and asks me if I am okay, is it perfectly acceptable to tell her my aunt passed away, or I lost my job, or I had to put my dog down -- but if I tell her I experienced a miscarriage, I am somehow inappropriately oversharing?" (by Laura Benanti)
Warren Buffett’s Family Secretly Funded a Birth Control Revolution
Quietly, steadily, the Buffett family is funding the biggest shift in birth control in a generation. “For Warren, it’s economic. He thinks that unless women can control their fertility—and that it’s basically their right to control their fertility—that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States,” DeSarno said about Buffett’s funding of reproductive health in the 2008 interview. “Well, not just the United States. Worldwide.”
New research into the pain processing of mice has found male and female mice process pain differently, and the discovery may also apply to other species, including humans. Scientists are now questioning what this means for the future of medical research, which until now, has had a strong bias towards experimenting on male mice. [more inside]
New U.S. government research indicates that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women and at rates nearly equal to that of male veterans -- a finding that surprised researchers because women are generally are far less likely than men to commit suicide. The findings raise questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the United States' armed forces. [more inside]
In some parts of America, the accessibility of abortion has remained unchanged, but not in great swaths of the country — not in places such as Texas, where more than half of the clinics have closed since 2013, or in South Dakota, where the single clinic has a mandatory 72-hour waiting period between appointment and procedure, or in Wyoming, where there is one private provider and no clinics in all the state's 98,000 square miles, and where the nearest facility Emily could find an appointment was six hours away.One woman's long drive to end a pregnancy. [more inside]
"Trust Women" is a popular motto in the pro-choice movement. It sounds a little sentimental, doesn't it? Part of that old sisterhood-is-powerful feminism it is fashionable to mock today. But "Trust Women" doesn't mean that every woman is wise or good or has magical intuitive powers. It means that no one else can make a better decision, because no one else is living her life, and since she will have to live with that decision—not you, and not the state legislature or the Supreme Court—chances are she is doing her best in a tight spot.How Pro-Choicers Can Take Back the Moral High Ground: an excerpt from essayist and poet Katha Pollitt's latest book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. [more inside]
Eating healthy food and eating together is important. But if you hate to cook, what's the best way to do that? (SLNYT)
Since 2006, Alice Proujansky has photographed childbirths around the world for a project entitled 'Birth Culture.' Her intent is to highlight 'the universal aspects of childbirth, elements that are culturally-specific and the struggle to provide women with safe, respectful maternity care.' Images: Photographer's site. NYTimes Gallery. Agnostica. Slate. Some photos may be NSFW.
Sorry You Were Tricked Into a C-Section What disapproving friends don’t understand about cesarean births
In many parts of the world, women are having more Cesarean sections than medically necessary. Recent abuses of pregnant women in Brazil have sparked a small, vocal movement of activists who want mothers to have more say in the delivery room. (SLATLANTIC)
"Danger in the Ring." According to Karen, a doctor in the emergency room asked her over the phone: “Was your daughter using birth control?” Karen said, “Yes, NuvaRing.” He removed the device and said, “I thought so, because she’s having a pulmonary embolism.” [more inside]
The Bicycle Craze of the 1890s had a significant impact upon women's lives. Leaders of the women's movement saw bike riding as a path to freedom. Many women cyclists enjoyed the freedoms and experiences bikes gave them. Although many health experts recommended biking to women for its health effects, other health experts and some moralists saw dangers in letting women venture off into the wild blue yonder with and without men, danger in potential physical damage to women's bodies, disaster in letting them adopt "unfeminine garb" - and of course, they might enjoy it TOO much. [more inside]
The Geography of Abortion Access - Forty years ago Tuesday, the Supreme Court ushered in legal abortion for American women when it decided in Roe v. Wade. Today, states—particularly in the South and Midwest—are eroding that right by legislating hundreds of provisions intended to impede access with burdensome obstacles. To understand more fully the complex state of access to abortion services in America, The Daily Beast identified and confirmed the location of the country’s remaining 724 clinics and calculated the distance from every part of the country to its closest clinic. (more)
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
The findings for England and Wales from the 2011 British Census have now been released. The BBC provides a handy guide to changes by area while The Guardian has a neat infographic and a set of Top 10 Charts. [more inside]
Nichelle Gainer (whose Vintage Black Glamour blog was seen previously on MeFi) responds insightfully to a NY Times editorial by author Alice Randall called "Why Black Women Are Fat."
In the wake of so many recent controversies over women and their right to safe, affordable health care and the supposed desire of working women to be "put in their place" by aggressive men in the bedroom, Penny Red suggests that "Right now, we are in the middle of a sexual counter-revolution." [more inside]
The GOP’s woman problem is that it has a serious problem with women. Frank Rich on George Stephanopoulos's unanswered question, how the Republicans have shifted to being the party of misogyny since the 70s, and why Mitt Romney would be just as bad as Rick Santorum.
Jane Pratt (formerly of Sassy Magazine and her eponymous Jane,) launched a website for women: xojane, earlier this year. Last week the site's Health and Beauty Director wrote a blog post explaining that she never uses condoms, birth control pills, or other contraception (for fear of becoming fat) and instead relies on the emergency contraceptive Plan B to prevent pregnancy. And a segment of the internet exploded. (Her responses to some of the comments seem a bit clueless for someone with her title.) Critics have noted that the post was filled with "ignorant" "inaccuracies and misconceptions" about womens' health, sex, Plan B and other forms of birth control. [more inside]
Hesperian is a non-profit publisher of books and newsletters for community-based health care, mostly aimed at the third world. Their first book, Where There Is No Doctor, A Village Health Handbook, has been translated into 88 languages and is one of the most widely used training and work manuals for community health care in the world. They have now made 20 of their publications available for free download, many of which can now also be browsed online through their website using an "Ebrary" in-browser interface. [more inside]
Last year, Marie Claire magazine made headlines by employing a plus-sized fashion columnist, Ashley Falcon, whose blog “Big Girl In A Skinny World” was proudly advertised as “proof that fashionistas come in all shapes and sizes.” Yesterday, a different Marie Claire blogger attacked the new CBS show “Mike & Molly” for featuring overweight characters. Her post received more than a thousand angry comments and the magazine reportedly received over 28,000 emails, prompting an apology from the blogger and a defensive response from the Editor in Chief. [more inside]
Using a 3-D petri dish, Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island have built a completely functional artificial human ovary that will allow doctors to harvest immature human egg cells (oocytes) and grow them into mature, ready-to-be-fertilized human eggs outside the body. (In vitro) The advance could eventually help preserve fertility for women facing chemotherapy or other medical treatments that may be destructive to ovarian folliculogenesis. Press Release. Article link. (paywall) [more inside]
Armed with a netbook, medical supplies and a bicycle, Bangladesh's InfoLadies are giving millions of poor people access to crucial information on their doorsteps that will improve their chances in life
Provoking pro-choice advocates, Oklahoma passed two highly restrictive abortion laws on Tuesday. One (rtf file) requires doctors to show women an ultrasound of their fetus and point out its physical characteristics — even if the patient was impregnated through rape or incest. The second (rtf file) stipulates that doctors cannot be sued if they decide to lie to an expectant mother regarding her baby's birth defects. A third requires clinics to post signs telling patients they cannot be forced to have an abortion. The first law prompted an immediate lawsuit from Tulsa's only abortion clinic. [more inside]
After decades of selling tampons and "sanitary products" with ads containing nebulous, euphemistic images and language, Kotex launched a new product line, 'U by Kotex' and a 'Declaration of Real Talk Campaign' to encourage girls and women to speak about menstruation without embarrassment. Ironically, their ad was rejected by the major US television networks for mentioning the word 'vagina'. Here's the 'safe for the viewing public' version. / YT channel. [more inside]
"May God close your horable museum." Because I can't believe this has never been the subject of a full post here before, although it keeps popping up in comments: The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health. The inimitable Harry Finley has assembled a dizzying and oddly comprehensive site. It may be a bit much to take in one go (dilute, dilute, OK?), but you might dip in at: menstrual slapping; patent medicines; facts of life booklets; the Little Doozee; pre-twentieth century menstrual products and practices; Lysol douching, yay and nay; or the tour of the museum inside Harry's house (now closed). Also: cats, because Harry likes cats.
"Where there is no doctor", a "village health-care handbook", was originally published by Mexican health activists in 1973 as a response to a critical lack of medical care among Mexico's poor. Now available for free download, the book covers such topics as "Family Planning" [pdf], Healing without Medicines [pdf], Common Medicines, their uses and doses [pdf], the right and wrong uses of modern medicines [pdf], and (in the midwives edition) DIY abortion [pdf]. [more inside]
Illustrated BMI Categories, a Flickr project where you can see what "underweight," "normal," "overweight," "obese," and "morbidly obese," BMI categories look like on real people (safe for work) (mostly women). I think that many people would be surprised by what 180lbs looks like. In addition to not looking what you might have expected fat to look like, it may also not mean what you thought it meant: [more inside]
New Justices, New Rules: How the Supreme Court's Validation of the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act Affects Women's Constitutional Liberty and Equality. A two-part FindLaw analysis of Gonzales v. Carhart.
The new lies about women's health (image slightly NSFW) according to Glamour. More on why every egg is sacred to the Bush administration. [via Wired's Sex Drive Daily]
Forever Pregnant. The CDC has released guidelines for improving the "preconception health" of all women of childbearing age whether they plan to have children or not. From the the WaPo article: "among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control." So ladies, don't even think of touching the litter box. You know, just in case.
Outcasts in Their Own Villages "More than one million young women with the condition are scattered throughout the so-called fistula belt that stretches across the southern hem of the Sahara from Eritrea to Mali. Because of their severe incontinence and smell, many have been ostracized by their families and villages and live by themselves or with fellow fistula sufferers. They are the lepers of the desert." [also see]
Showing Off a Little (Inner) Cleavage. Author Geralyn Lucas wore bright, red lipstick to her mastectomy. "It was my way of saying I knew I would still be a woman when I woke up with a blood-soaked bandage where my breast used to be... women have sacrificed breasts and hair to try to save their lives. We have traded in our beauty for some kind of cure. But something strange often happens when we lose the bling — the big boobs and big hair — of womanhood. We're left with what I call 'inner cleavage,' and no plastic surgeon can sculpt it. It is the beauty that exists when everything else has been stripped away". Lauren Greenfield photographs here. More inside.
Conscience Clauses and Health Care --"Yes, we need to respect individual freedom of religion. But at what point does it cross the line of not providing essential medical care? At what point is it malpractice?" she asked. "If someone's beliefs interfere with practicing their profession, perhaps they should do something else." The Protection of Conscience Project feels differently: Protection of Conscience Laws are needed because powerful interests are inclined to force health care workers and others to participate, directly or indirectly, in morally controversial procedures, while NARAL says: ... Many of these clauses go far beyond respecting individuals' beliefs to the point of harming women by not providing them with full information or access to medical treatment. Medicine, not ideology, should determine medical decisions.
White House "disappears" women's info. The Bush administration has quietly removed 25 reports from its Women's Bureau Web site, deleting or distorting crucial information on issues from pay equity to reproductive healthcare. There's a long article about it over at Salon, behind the premium wall.
Girls night out can save your life. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research---most of it on men---upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible... (Old news, but I don't think it's been posted before.)
The male species has it easy. Feminist magazine Amp meditates on whether women should hover or plonk when they go to the bathroom. "It's like learning how to whistle. You have to learn how to position your lips for the best results." This article isn't work safe. In fact I'm not sure if it's safe at all.
New treatment for depression in women possibly best news ever for men.
"Men Too" abortion leaflet.
"Men have no legal rights when it comes to abortion. Legally an abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor - and this is as it should be. "
"Men have no legal rights when it comes to abortion. Legally an abortion is a matter between a woman and her doctor - and this is as it should be. "
Seven of every ten women appearing as centrefold models in Playboy magazine during the past 20 years are clinically underweight
Seven of every ten women appearing as centrefold models in Playboy magazine during the past 20 years are clinically underweight "Given the perception of Playboy centrefolds as culturally ideal women, the notion that 70% of them are underweight highlights the social pressure on women to be thin and helps to explain the high levels of body dissatisfaction and disordered eating," "It's not just a case of models getting skinnier, but also that the numbers of overweight and obese people have gone through the roof in recent years."