Archive | women’s health RSS feed for this section

Religious Zealots Try to Impose Their Views on Women

21 Feb

Since when is bald-faced lying an acceptable religious practice?

In an amazing coincidence two groups of religious zealots have waded into the public fray. Both have done so ostensibly to promote American values. Both are attempting to control women’s bodies. And both groups are lying.

Catholic bishops claim that they are fighting for that quintessential American value, freedom of religion, in opposing a government mandate to include contraception in health insurance plans. Protestant zealots (joined in some cases by Catholic zealots) are blustering that proposed laws to mandate ultrasounds before abortion are nothing more than efforts to provide women with information needed to make the medical decision to terminate a pregnancy.

Both groups are lying. Both groups are attempting to violate that quintessential American value, freedom of religion. Indeed they are attempting to impose THEIR religion on people of other religions or no religion at all. And they are doing it in exactly the same way. They are committed to “rationing by inconvenience.”

Make no mistake; this is about Catholic zealots imposing their belief that birth control is immoral and this is about Protestant zealots imposing their belief that abortion is immoral. There has been no attempt to restrict their religious freedom. No one is attempting to force the Catholic bishops to use birth control and no one is attempting to force the Protestant zealots to have abortions. No one in either group is being forced to violate his or her religious convictions by engaging in a practice that he or she deems immoral.

So why are the Catholic bishops and Protestant zealots upset? Because they don’t want OTHER PEOPLE to use birth control and they don’t want OTHER PEOPLE to have abortions. Oops, let me amend that. They don’t want WOMEN to use birth control and they don’t want WOMEN to have access to abortion. What a coincidence. Both are trying to impose their religious convictions on WOMEN’S bodies.

Both the Catholic bishops and the Protestant zealots are trying to use the same method to accomplish their religious objectives: rationing by inconvenience.

Rationing by inconvenience is used by health insurance companies to deprive members of covered services. By making it difficult to access those services (mandating pre-approvals, denying payments, forcing members into complaint resolution and arbitration) insurance companies attempt to reduce use of expensive services or force members to pay out-of-pocket for those services in order to access them in a timely fashion. Rationing by inconvenience is used by religious zealots in precisely the same way. By refusing to pay for the health service of contraception, the Catholic bishops hope to discourage women, particularly poor women, from using birth control. Protestant and Catholic zealots hope to prevent women from accessing legal abortion by interposing inconvenience, whether it is waiting periods or mandate ultrasound exams that are both medically unnecessary and physically invasive. For example, religious zealots in the Virginia legislature are hoping that by mandating an invasive vaginal ultrasound, they can discourage women from having abortions.

That’s bad enough. What’s worse is that they are lying about it. Catholic bishops are trying to discourage the USE of birth control. Refusing to pay for it is just a tactic in preventing the use of contraception. It has nothing to do with the bishops’ religious freedom. Mandating medically unnecessary, inconvenient and uncomfortable procedures as requirement before accessing abortion has nothing to do with providing women with information.

These religious zealots should not be allowed to control women’s bodies by limiting their access to safe, legal medical TREATMENTS. They are attempting to impose THEIR religious values on women who don’t share them. These tactics should be rejected as fundamentally un-American attempts at religious coercion.

Cross posted on The Skeptical OB

Advertisements

Michele Baldwin, HPV Awareness Activist, Succumbs to Cervical Cancer but Leaves Legacy

15 Feb

Michele Baldwin (1966–2012)

Michele Baldwin, a passionate HPV and cervical cancer awareness activist, succumbed to the disease she fought so long and hard against on February 5, 2012, at the age of forty-five. Her father, Skeptical Inquirer editor Ken Frazier, wrote a beautiful obituary for Michele in the Albuquerque Journal.

Michele had already gone through two extensive rounds of treatment, one in the fall of 2009 and another one year later in the fall of 2010. Both rounds included a surgery—one of which was experimental. In the summer of 2011, the cancer once again returned, and this time the news was worse than ever: it was inoperable, and Michele had run out of treatment options. She was given less than a year to live.

Michele on the Ganges River in India (credit: http://www.starryganga.com)

Michele, a lover of water sports, threw herself into being a kayak guide. She realized that during her long hours on the water she was able to go for long stretches without thinking about cancer. It was then that she had the idea that would become her life’s work and legacy: she would stand-up paddleboard, a sport she had only just taken up in August 2011, seven hundred miles down the Ganges River in India for HPV and cervical cancer awareness. The journey began on October 18 in the Himalayan rapids of Rishikesh and ended on November 24 in the city of Varanasi. Michele set a world record for greatest distance ever paddleboarded by a woman and earned international press for HPV/cervical cancer awareness with her project, the Starry Ganga Expedition. She did it to save the lives of others; to make sure that other women wouldn’t have to suffer her same fate.

In a world in which we have politicians like Michelle Bachmann spreading misinformation about a vaccine that can literally save lives by preventing certain forms of cervical cancer, we need more people like Michele Baldwin who are willing to advocate for the HPV vaccine’s use. Michele made it her final mission in life to help the fight to stop this horrible disease. Her battle underscores the importance of getting this vaccine to women worldwide regardless of religiously based moral convictions.

Michele’s legacy will continue to bring awareness to the importance of HPV vaccination. Her entire journey down the Ganges was filmed by biographer Nat Stone and will be turned into a documentary by director/producer Mahmoud Salimi. Her’s is also the central story in Frederic Lumiere’s forthcoming television documentary, Anyone’s Daughter: The HPV Epidemic. Michele set up a living memorial to raise funds for cervical cancer/HPV awareness. Donations can be made through the Global Initiative Against HPV and Cervical Cancer.

Lessons From Cupid: Where BMI Goes Wrong

14 Feb
Today is Valentine’s Day and no, I’m not going to flash any food porn involving chocolates. But with Cupid hovering around lately, I couldn’t help but address the subject of BMI, Body Mass Index.
.
What if Cupid and his parents showed up in my office concerned about obesity? What would I say? Let’s assume for a moment, from the various images of him, that his BMI would be in fact high. For the record, BMI is simply a calculation of weight divided by height squared, used as a marker for obesity. It is not, as you have been lead to believe, a measure of body fatness or percent body fat.
.

Homebirth Advocate Dies at Homebirth

2 Feb

Re: Inquiry into Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 and two related Bills

I write to express my concern about the above bills. I understand that these bills will enable Medicare funding, access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and professional indemnity premium support for midwives providing care for women to give birth in hospital. Medicare funding for midwifery care is long overdue. It is not acceptable, however, to exclude homebirth from this funding and indemnity arrangement…

On a personal note, I am quite shocked and ashamed that homebirth will no longer be a woman’s free choice in low-risk pregnancies… I feel the decision to outlaw homebirth’s is contrary to women’s rights … Please find a solution for women and babies who homebirth after this date as their lives will be in threat without proper midwifery assisstance. And as a homebirthing mother I will have no choice but to have an unassisted birth at home as this is the place I want to birth my children.

Yours sincerely,
Caroline Flammea, Nick Lovell and daughter Lulu Lovell.

*****
Caroline Emily (Flammea) Lovell

LOVELL (nee Flammea). – Caroline Emily 15.07.1975 – 24.01.2012 Passed away suddenly after giving birth to a beautiful baby girl. Beloved daughter of Jadzia (Jade), loving wife of Nick and exceptional mother of Lulu and Zahra. You taught us how to love Always in our hearts

Continue reading

I Stand with Planned Parenthood

1 Feb

Pink ribbon

News broke yesterday that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a well-known breast cancer charity, is no longer going to give grants to its Planned Parenthood affiliates because of “pressure from anti-abortion activists” and because “Planned Parenthood is under investigation in Congress,” according to this NPR article.

This is disappointing news. Planned Parenthood does a lot of good for women, especially in lower-income areas where they may not have access to a family physician. I thought that helping women was part of Komen’s mission. So why would Komen stop funding an organization that offered “more than 4 million breast exams over the past five years, including nearly 170,000 as a result of Komen grants?”

Continue reading

The Curious Silence about Babies Who Die at Homebirth

27 Jan

The CDC published an update on homebirth yesterday. Entitled Home Births in the United States, 1990–2009 and written by MacDorman, Mathews, M.S. Declercq, the data brief noted:

• After a decline from 1990 to 2004, the percentage of U.S. births that occurred at home increased by 29%, from 0.56% of births in 2004 to 0.72% in 2009.

• For non-Hispanic white women, home births increased by 36%, from 0.80% in 2004 to 1.09% in 2009. About 1 in every 90 births for non- Hispanic white women is now a home birth. Home births are less common among women of other racial or ethnic groups.

• Home births are more common among women aged 35 and over, and among women with several previous children.

• Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births, with fewer births to teenagers or unmarried women, and with fewer preterm, low birthweight, and multiple births.

• The percentage of home births in 2009 varied from a low of 0.2% of births in Louisiana and the District of Columbia, to a high of 2.0% in Oregon and 2.6% in Montana.

But there’s one thing that the data brief didn’t mention at all: exactly how many of those babies died.

Continue reading

The Misogyny at the Heart of Natural Childbirth

12 Jan

“The mother is the factory, and by education and care she can be made more efficient in the art of motherhood.”

That was written in 1942 by Grantly Dick-Read, widely considered to be the father of modern natural childbirth. Most people don’t realize that natural childbirth was invented by a man to convince middle and upper class white women to have more children and abandon their demands for political, economic, and educational equality.

Continue reading