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.
Changing the Face of Medicine is an online exhibition from the National Library of Medicine, first published in 2003 but continuously updated, that honors the lives and achievements of American women in medicine. It is divided into sections (see the "more inside"), but you can also browse the biographies of the physicians alphabetically or by other criteria. [more inside]
Sorry You Were Tricked Into a C-Section What disapproving friends don’t understand about cesarean births
Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain. "The pain of women turns them into kittens and rabbits and sunsets and sordid red satin goddesses, pales them and bloodies them and starves them, delivers them to death camps and sends locks of their hair to the stars. Men put them on trains and under them. Violence turns them celestial. Age turns them old. We can’t look away. We can’t stop imagining new ways for them to hurt." [more inside]
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]
“So when I was pregnant and about to give birth, I was expecting kindness, understanding, love. But, by god, was I wrong. They were torturers. They didn’t care. I was a thing. An experiment.” [more inside]
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]
Since 1988, the Center for Reproductive Rights has compiled a visual map of the laws regulating abortion throughout the world. Earlier this month, they released their 2011 Map in pdf and updated their online World Abortion Laws Map in a new interactive format which allows country comparisons and provides text of abortion laws for certain countries. (Via Good: Can I get an Abortion Here? The Abortion Rights Map of the World)
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]
Obstetricians and gynecologists are meeting the increased demand for cosmetic vaginal surgery (NSFW)
One in every 8 babies born in the US is premature. A new study (pdf/via) published online Wednesday in Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology indicates that vaginal progesterone gel can help women who are pregnant for the first time and at risk of premature birth extend their pregnancies, reduce potential complications and boost the health of their newborns. [more inside]
The Royal Society's lost women scientists. Women published in the Royal Society, 1890-1930. Most influential British women in the history of science. Women at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Heroines of Science. Women Biochemists, 1906-1939. Women in Science. Previously: The Women of ENIAC.
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]
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]
"The Kindest Cut" A Colorado surgeon is helping to restore sensation, biological structure and self-esteem to victims of female genital mutilation. She's "Trinidad's Transgender Rock Star"
Bowers performs the surgery free of charge, and the hospital caps its fees at $1,700. "...you cannot charge money to reverse a crime against humanity," she says. "Sexuality is a right."[more inside]
"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]
what you need right now isn't the righteous anger the rest of the blogosphere will give you. You need more.
For the women of South Dakota: an abortion manual --building on the history and expertise of Jane, , an underground referral and abortion-providing group in Chicago in the 60s, Molly provides the vital info women in South Dakota (and maybe elsewhere soon) need.
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]
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.
Gynecological exams are changing as new students begin to question old practices. Medical students often perform pelvic exams when the patient is under anesthesia, not only without consent, but without informing them.
New treatment for depression in women possibly best news ever for men.