Tag Archives: birth control

On the Table: Reproductive Health

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the US Health and Human Services Department just announced new guidelines requiring insurance companies to offer free birth control:

Developed by the independent Institute of Medicine, the new guidelines require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services such as well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, domestic violence screening, and contraception without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible.

According to the HHS Department website, the following will be included in all health insurance plans at no additional cost by August 1, 2012:

  • Well-woman visits: This would include an annual well-woman preventive care visit for adult women to obtain the recommended preventive services, and additional visits if women and their providers determine they are necessary. These visits will help women and their doctors determine what preventive services are appropriate, and set up a plan to help women get the care they need to be healthy.
  • Gestational diabetes screening: This screening is for women 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. It will help improve the health of mothers and babies because women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. In addition, the children of women with gestational diabetes are at significantly increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant throughout childhood.
  • HPV DNA testing: Women who are 30 or older will have access to high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing every three years, regardless of pap smear results.  Early screening, detection, and treatment have been shown to help reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.
  • STI counseling, and HIV screening and counseling: Sexually-active women will have access to annual counseling on HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These sessions have been shown to reduce risky behavior in patients, yet only 28% of women aged 18 to 44 years reported that they had discussed STIs with a doctor or nurse. In addition, women are at increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. From 1999 to 2003, the CDC reported a 15% increase in AIDS cases among women, and a 1% increase among men. 
  • Contraception and contraceptive counseling: Women will have access to all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. These recommendations do not include abortifacient drugs. Most workers in employer-sponsored plans are currently covered for contraceptives. Family planning services are an essential preventive service for women and critical to appropriately spacing and ensuring intended pregnancies, which results in improved maternal health and better birth outcomes.
  • Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their children’s and their own health. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.
  • Domestic violence screening: Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence should be provided for all women. An estimated 25% of women in the U.S. report being targets of intimate partner violence during their lifetimes. Screening is effective in the early detection and effectiveness of interventions to increase the safety of abused women. 

This historic victory for women’s rights (almost 4 decades after the invention of the birth control pill), came with its critics.  

Colbert comically sums up the retort to the new initiatives:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

CNN reports about the guidelines and their conservative critics:

The decision to offer contraception at no additional cost was not supported by everyone. For example, the Family Research Council claims the decision “undermines the conscience rights of many Americans.”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of Committee on Pro-Life Activities with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says “pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.” They feel the decision forces people to participate who may have moral or religious convictions that oppose contraception use.

The Obama administration released an amendment to the prevention regulation that allows religious institutions offering health insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.

Here’s a link to the guidelines, with pdfs at the bottom.  Happy Friday!

Leave a comment

Filed under On the Table

On the table, 7/6

Happy 4th!  I’m still recovering from my weekend of little sleep, grilling out, and eating lots of peaches.  I miss it all already.

Here’s what’s been brewing over the weekend:

In his book, Michael Billig coined the term “banal nationalism” to draw attention to the ways in which nationalism was not only a quality of gun-toting, flag-waving “extremists” (p. 5), but was quietly and rather invisibly reproduced by all of us in our daily lives.

So, what’s the problem with banal nationalism?  Sociologists have critiqued nationalism for being the source of an irrational commitment and loyalty to one’s nation, a commitment that makes one willing to both die and kill….  [Read on]

 

Read more: Check out Michael Billig’s book Banal Nationalism

 

 

___________________________________

A few months ago I read about encouraging advances in the science of male contraception. That led me on a long search to speak to the leading minds in the field.

As readers know, I had a vasectomy several years ago. But I have several buddies who are either on the fence about wanting kids or don’t want them right this second. So, for those guys, I wanted to ask these scientists: What’s taking so long? [Read on]

 Read more:

___________________________________________

Georgia is having mixed results with a new program replacing migrant farm workers with probationers.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal started the program after farmers complained a crackdown on illegal immigrants was scaring away the mostly Latino workers needed to harvest labor-intensive crops like blueberries and cucumbers.  (This article sparks a plethora of conversation points – worker’s rights, prisoner’s rights, the value of migrant work and the claim that migrant workers take jobs from US citizens, and the intersections of class, race, and ethnicity to name a few.) [Read on]

Read more:

_______________________________________

“The moment when something is transformed into something else is the most beautiful moment; it’s a magical moment,” said Brazilian artist Vik Muniz in the 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land (in Portuguese, “Lixo Extraordinário”), directed by Lucy Walker, João Jardim and Karen Harley.

The movie tells the remarkable story of how the “catadores,” scavengers of recyclable materials found in an enormous landfill on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, are coached by Muniz to transform mountains of discarded items into breathtaking works of art….[Read on]

 

Read more:

Watch the documentary Wasteland on Muniz’s work.  Check out the trailer here or watch the film on Netflix.

NPR also has a few more articles on the project.  Check them out:

 NPR – “Recyclers Turn Rio ‘Waste Land’ into High Art”

NPR – “Film Chronicles Artist’s Work from Rio Dump” by Pat Dowell

Leave a comment

Filed under On the Table

Catch up on your news

Republicans have gone awry the country over.  Do you know what’s going on?  Here are some websites to give you the gist on two important legislative happenings: Planned Parenthood and Wisconsin labor unions.

 

Wisconsin state employee unions

(yes, this really does matter to you)

New York Times

**(I’ve linked some definitions for “collective bargaining,” “union,” and “public employee”)**

  • The legislative push by Wisconsin’s new governor, Scott Walker, a Republican, to slash the collective bargaining rights of his state’s public employees could prove a watershed for public-sector unions, perhaps signaling the beginning of a decline in their power — both at the bargaining table and in politics.
  • But Mr. Walker is going far beyond that, seeking to definitively curb the power of government unions in his state. He sees public-employee unions as a bane to the taxpayer because they demand — and often win — generous health and pension plans that help push up taxes and drive budget deficits higher.
  • To end that cycle, he wants to restrict the unions to bargaining over just one topic, base wages, while eliminating their ability to deal over health care, working hours and vacations.
  • By flooding the State Capitol in Madison with more than 10,000 protesters, labor unions are doing their utmost to block Mr. Walker’s plans. They helped persuade Democratic state senators to slip out of the building this week to deny Republicans the quorum they needed to pass the legislation.
  • Democrats say the governor’s “budget repair bill” — strongly supported by the Republicans who control both legislative houses — is political payback, intended to cripple public-sector unions, which spent more than $200 million to back Democrats across the country in November’s elections.

Andy Manis/Associated Press - A Capitol protest in Madison, Wis., over Gov. Scott Walker's bill to slash collective bargaining rights for many state workers.

New York Times

  • Behind closed doors, Scott Walker, the Republican who has been governor for about six weeks, calmly described his intent to forge ahead with the plans that had set off the uprising: He wants to require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions, effectively cutting the take-home pay of many by around 7 percent.
  • Mr. Walker said he had no other options, since he is facing a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget and the prospect of a $3.6 billion hole in the coming two-year budget.
  • “For us, it’s simple,” said Mr. Walker, whose family home was surrounded by angry workers this week, prompting the police to close the street. “We’re broke.”

New York Times

  • Then the surprising drama in Madison this week added a new twist: the Democrats disappeared.
  • That left Republicans, who control the Capitol and had expected to push through the bill, in limbo. Although Republicans control the State Senate by 19 to 14, 20 senators — and thus, at least a single Democrat — must be in the room to call a vote on such fiscal matters.
  • “The plan is to try and slow this down because it’s an extreme piece of legislation that’s tearing this state apart,” Senator Jon Erpenbach, one of the missing Democrats, told The Associated Press by telephone. (He refused, of course, to say where he was.)

Planned Parenthood

(not just birth control or abortions)

Washington Post:

  • The Republican-led House approved an amendment Friday that would prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • The measure, which passed the House 240 to 185, blocks Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for any of its activities. The organization already is banned from using federal funds to perform most abortions.

Huffington Post

  • House Republicans voted on Friday to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, cutting money for contraceptives, HIV tests, cancer screenings and reproductive health services as part of an attempt to weaken the abortion provider. Planned Parenthood does not currently spend federal money on abortion services.
  • The vote, which passed, 240 to 185, came after an emotional, late-night speech by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who revealed on the House floor that she had had an abortion. Speier criticized Republicans for vilifying Planned Parenthood and abortion-rights supporters.
  • “There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was played out in this room tonight,” she said on the House floor. “Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide family planning services. Planned parenthood has a right to perform abortions. Last time you checked, abortions were legal in this country.”

And there are massive protests in Bahrain which you should read up on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Feminist Halloween

About a month ago I ventured into the local Halloween store for some costume ideas, but just ended up pissed off.  There are literally no packaged costume ideas for women that aren’t sexualized.  And what’s strange is that they’ve made things like soldiers, prison escapees, or soccer referees sexy.

Costumes for women can do any of the following:

a) transform women into a sexualized non-human, like the bumblebee below (it’s a bug – how is this sexy?).  A classic example would be the Playboy bunny costume.

Just because you show cleavage or wear high-heels doesn’t make it a cool costume.  Human peacock, case in point.

b) sexualize women in stereotypically female careers like maids, nurses, and librarians.

These costumes are generally part of the service industry where women have to be submissive to their bosses or customers.  Face it – French maids and naughty nurses are outdated.  But an emerging costume is the female flight attendant.

What’s sad is that female flight attendants in the fifties and sixties really were objectified like this.

Both men and women like these costumes because they both reinforce traditional gender roles of women as passive and submissive, while challenging them with a strong sex-positive angle.

c) show women “playing with gender” by dressing up in a stereotypically hypermasculine occupation.

Ok, naughty cop, naughty pilot – we’ve seen it.  But these costumes portraying stereotypically male career paths are definitely getting creative.

Sexy Vader

Sexy matador (and no, in Spain women can't run with the bulls nor spear them)

Sexy football player (let's all belittle and sexualize women's athletic ability)

Sexy secret service man (would you have even known? probably not)

And sexy Ghostbuster. So strange.

This is undoubtedly the most popular choice because both men and women like women “playing” strong and domineering.  Note the use of “play” as a woman that actually dressed as a normal police officer or prison escapee probably wouldn’t be considered all that cool and definitely not sexy.

d) have women dressing up as little girls, dressing up as women. This is by far the scariest group of Halloween costumes.

Let's all remember that Cindy Brady was 9 years old during the show.

And Pebbles was an infant.

Like the recent GQ cover with Glee, these costumes make dumb, weak, desperate, and infantile sexy.

and e) sexualizing non-white women – women who are made sexually submissive and hypersexual every other day of the year in American culture.

One positive?  I couldn’t find a sexy African tribeswoman.  Thank god.

And oh, the sexualization of non-whites and gender essentialism in children’s costumes – oy!

____________________________________________________________

Here are a few fun feminist Halloween costumes in no particular order – stay safe and have fun!

1) “Sexy Nurse”

I read a comment on another blog by a woman who’s an actual nurse planning to go out in scrubs and sneakers with a large name tag reading “Sexy Nurse”

2) Member of the Rockford Peaches

A great suggestion by Gender Focus: honor the history of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League by dressing up as one of the members of the 1943 Rockford Peaches, as profiled in the movie A League of Their Own.

3) Any feminist film/television character or American icon

Courtesy of Bitch: Veronica Mars, Carmen Sandiego, Thelma and Louisa, Ellen Ripley from Alien, Rosie the Riveter, Wonder Woman, and Peggy Hill

4) A Real Feminist!

Angela Davis, Dolores Huerta, a Guerilla Girl, Hillary Clinton, or my favorite

Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy bunny

5) An Anti-Palin Mama Grizzly

6) Pro-Choice Paraphernalia

Suggested by NARAL Pro Choice

 

Sperm - making gender-neutral costumes fun!

7) A breast cancer marathon walker for the gold!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Mother’s Day – Teaching Birth Control in Nigeria

Taken from an NPR story by The Kitchen Sisters.

With her 8-year-old son, Chris, who spoke Igbo, serving as interpreter, Daphne Mae Hunt taught Nigerian women a method of birth control that was in keeping with her Catholic faith.

In the 1950s there was a big push for birth control within the local government. The average woman in rural Nigeria was having eight or nine children. The Catholic Church wanted to be seen as a leader in the community, but wouldn’t support condoms. So the church endorsed the Billings Ovulation Method, a form of birth control that involves a woman monitoring her monthly menstrual cycles to determine when she’s fertile and when she’s not.

When Chris Abani was a boy, he toured the Nigerian countryside as an interpreter for his mother, Daphne Mae Hunt, who wanted to teach women about their menstrual cycles as a form of birth control. Courtesy Chris Abani

With a backpack full of pictures and charts, Abani and his mother would set off and go from door to door. It was Abani’s job to begin the conversation in Igbo.

“Everything starts with a greeting,” Abani explains. “I would say, ‘Good afternoon, mothers.’ You greeted a woman who had children in the plural. It would be followed by an apology from me because I was about to discuss something sacred, taboo.

“I am greeting you and saying that what I am about to tell you could be offensive because I’m about to break taboo. But this is what my mother wants me to tell you. What my mother’s bringing to you, she says, is a thing of glory, a thing of goodness, a thing of independence. And I hope you can listen.’ ”

“And here I am, this 8-year-old boy who they’re having to ask questions in Igbo for me to ask in English. But my mother didn’t think twice about it, because this is what women needed,” Abani says. “If the Catholic Church was going to ban condoms, she was determined that they would find this birth control information somehow.”

“It never struck my mother as odd that a young boy would discuss a woman’s menstrual cycle. She would always say, ‘Every good man needs a little bit of woman in them.’ “

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized