"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]
the Contraceptive Choice Project finds that free birth control access significantly cuts abortion rates
Free birth control cuts abortion rate dramatically, study finds: "When more than 9,000 women ages 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area were given no-cost contraception for three years, abortion rates dropped from two-thirds to three-quarters lower than the national rate." [more inside]
Between 40 and 50 percent of female homicide victims are killed by their husbands, boyfriends, and exes. And, for about half of these victims, police had been alerted to previous incidents of abuse. There is, however, one exception to this grim trend: Maryland. Since 2007, domestic violence homicides in the state have fallen by a stunning 40 percent. What is Maryland doing that other states are not? The answer appears to lie with a former high school nurse, an ex-Washington, D.C., police lieutenant, and their ground-breaking efforts to protect the most vulnerable victims of abuse.—Fighting Back is an article by Tim Stelloh about new method to identify and protect abused women, developed by a group of law enforcement officers and academics (Note: The article features graphic descriptions of domestic violence and murder). The article focuses especially on the work of Prof. Jacquelyn Campbell. You can watch an interview with her here.
Effective January 1, 2013, United States insurers will now be required to make a variety of medical procedures and medications available without copay as part of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Although the availability of prescribed birth control without copay is likely to have the widest effect, the plan also includes breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual well-woman examination, and testing for gestational diabetes and the virus that causes cervical cancer, as well as other services related to women's health. [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]
The documentary A Walk to Beautiful, follows five women in Ethiopia suffering from fistula, isolated from their villages and some from their families, seeking treatment at one of the few charity clinics. It can be viewed online at the PBS NOVA site. Dr. Catherine Hamlin, who runs the hospital in Addis Ababa, is interviewed here. There's also been a couple of recent articles on fistula: one from Nicholas Kristof who's been one of the most prominent voices on this issue, a piece by Kate Harding, and an older piece where Abby Frucht describes living with fistula in a developed country with a supportive family. For those inclined to donate, links to charities can be found in the Kristof op-ed. Other Metafilter posts on fistula: 1, 2
"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.
Sixteen states already have laws [PDF] related to abortion ultrasounds . Eleven more states have recently introduced bills that demand that a woman who wants an abortion be forced to look at the ultrasound, while a doctor describes what she is seeing. All of these bills are because the legislators believe that adoption is the only choice a woman should make. This essay, On Living Pro-Lifer's Choice for Women, explores the difficulties faced by birth mothers who choose that path.
"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]
Islam Outlaws Female Genital Mutilation "After listening to several international physicians, they pronounced the sensational decision to classify the custom of female genital mutilation (FGM) as punishable aggression and crime against humanity. As a result, the custom can no longer be practiced by Muslims. Now awareness of this decision has to be spread in the 33 affected countries." [+ WHO] and [+ wp]
FDA approves HPV vaccine. It prevents infection from 70% of the cancer-causing strains of human papillomavirus, an STD that will affect nearly 80% of the population at some point in their lives. The vaccine has been approved for use in women ages 9 to 26. Controversy surrounding the vaccine (discussed earlier) has thankfully not stopped its progress. That just leaves a few questions: How long will it last? Who's paying for it? What are the side-effects? Oh, screw all that, where do I get in line?