Why South Wind Women’s Center Matters

An abortion clinic opening in any U.S. city would make news these days, but the imminent opening of South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas has garnered a special kind of attention. The clinic, which will provide abortions until the 14th week of pregnancy as well as a wide range of other women’s health care services, will be located in Dr. George Tiller’s former clinic.

South Wind is owned by the Trust Women Organization, a nonprofit that was founded in 2010 by Julie Burkhart, who worked with Dr. Tiller for seven years. “We’re going to provide Pap smears, pelvic exams, well-woman care, contraceptive care, pregnancy confirmation and consultation, and STI (sexually transmitted infection) treatment” Burkhart has said. “We want to work with women who are having trouble getting pregnant and women who have been pregnant — the full range of services.” There are three physicians on staff—one local, two that will travel in from out of state—and a social worker that will offer both miscarriage and post-abortion counseling as well as lactation consultation.

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Hurrah for Israel’s Photoshop Law!

Guest blogger Talia bat Pessi is a Harvard-bound teenage Femidox (feminist Orthodox) pro-Israel Jew. Her work has appeared in over 40 publications, including the Jewish WeekMs. Magazine blog, Jerusalem PostGirl w/ Pen!, Jewish Press, and FBomb. She’s not quite sure how she manages to find spare time, but when she does, she enjoys going to rock concerts, fuzzying with her rescue dog, eating (a lot), messing around in Photoshop, and procrastinating on the Internet.

As of January 1, what the media has dubbed the “Photoshop Law” has gone into effect in Israel. This law mandates that models working in Israel have to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18.5, the lowest healthy BMI possible, and companies have to clearly label advertisements containing pictures that were even slightly Photoshopped. Foreign ads must also comply. Considering 10% of teenagers in Israel suffer from eating disorders and anorexia is the number-one killer in the 15-24 age group, this law was sorely needed.

Rachel Adato, the sponsor of the bill, has been very involved in women’s health throughout her career. She served as the Chairperson of the National Council for Women’s Health and Advisor to the Minister of Health on Women’s Health, and was a member of the Steering Committees for Prevention of Violence Towards Women and Establishing Medical Centers for Victims of Sexual Assault, as well as a member in four delegations to the UN on women’s health.
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The Best and Worst News for Women in 2012

As a political junkie coming off a surreal election season, I can offer only the faintest apologies for skewing American. I’m sure for every pick I made, there are three I had to leave out. I invite you to show me the error of my ways–and your bests and worsts–in the comments section below. Happy New Year!!!!

The Best

1)   President Obama Wins Reelection
Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC promo pretty much says it all: ”We are not going to have a Supreme Court that overturns Roe vs. Wade. We are not going to repeal health reform. We are not going to give a 20% tax cut to millionaires and billionaires. We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay people from getting married. We are not eliminating the Department of Energy. We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt. We are not vetoing the DREAM Act. We had the choice to do that and we said ‘no.’” No president can do everything, but without Barack Obama in the White House, we’d have to do so much more.

2)   The Affordable Care Act Was Upheld
The entire country held its breath, and we progressive folk were the ones who got to exhale! Surprising everyone, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the court in a 5-4 decision, ruling that the vast majority of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act—and most notably, the individual mandate—was constitutional and would move forward.
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No Better Time for Plan B

I have a package of Potassium Iodide tablets in my Go Bag, and I’m happy most days not to think about either, but I feel better knowing that they’re there. For those of you unfamiliar with either, or both–Potassium Iodide protects the thyroid from radiation poisoning, and a Go Bag is an emergency preparedness kit with enough supplies for a person to survive without outside help for at least three days.

If you didn’t know, consider yourself lucky. Or blissfully ignorant. I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. That–and what the future happens to bring to yours.

Me, I decided back in the days of the dirty bomb scares that I’d rather have a package of ominously-packaged pills in the house than to one day wish I had bought some as an invisible deadly force fried my body. Same goes for the Go Bag. I put the pills in the bag, put the bag behind the couch, and honestly, including today, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve thought about either in the past ten years.

Isn’t that how worst case scenario preparation should work? Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and try not to scare the bejesus out of yourself in the meantime. Anything less would be irresponsible when it’s a matter of life and death, right?

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The Debate Surrounding Health Care Administration and Reform Continues

Guest blogger Cheryl Jacque is a contributing researcher and writer to the online health administration resource The Health Administration Project. Today, Cheryl examines what health care reforms mean to health care administration and its clients, including women that are now eligible to receive certain services without being charged co-pay fees.

As many estimate that health care in the US could soon rise to 20% of GDP spending, lawmakers have been debating a massive overhaul of the entire system. Passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) estimates that its reforms will allow 32 million more Americans to receive insurance. Although many of these changes are already underway, debate continues on how to best care for the country’s large and uniquely diverse population.

For many struggling American families, the ACA undoubtedly offers many appreciated benefits. Under the new regulations, those with family plans can keep their children covered until age 26 regardless of marital status, student status, living situation, or if they have a pre-existing condition. As increasing numbers of young people are graduating from college without immediate job prospects, parents and their children are collectively breathing a sigh of relief knowing they can remain covered while looking for work in a struggling market.

This measure has increased the number of insured Americans aged 19 to 25 from 64% to 73% between 2010 and 2011, suggesting that while the US health care crisis has not yet been solved, some actions are having a positive affect.

One of the most controversial aspects of the health plan has been the changes to Medicare, which don’t begin til 2014. Under some Medicare drug plans, after an individual’s drug plan has spent a certain amount of money for covered drugs, the individual is responsible for paying the full costs of prescription drugs until they reach the amount required for catastrophic care coverage, a period widely referred to as the coverage gap, or “donut hole.” While the Affordable Care Act is making an effort to shrink the coverage gap, it won’t be fully closed until 2020, a fact that the plan’s opponents continue to criticize.

Perhaps the most surprising group to see major changes in coverage is also the largest. Beginning this past summer, all women were given assured access to preventative health services and are no longer subject to additional insurance fees and charges. These services will include annual visits to doctors, AIDS virus screening and counseling about sexually transmitted infections, breastfeeding supplies, and even screening and counseling services for domestic violence. Women aged 30 and over will be offered even more services, including DNA testing for the human papilloma virus, which can lead to cervical cancer. In addition, beginning in 2014, insurers will no longer be allowed to charge women higher premiums than men. It is estimated that these additional preventative services will save millions annually.

The final aspect of the health care bill that is causing opponents, like the CEO of Papa John’s pizza, to declare reform akin to socialism is that all companies with more than 50 employees will be subject to fines if they do not provide their employees with health insurance. Many industry analysts say this will cost companies millions annually and will continue to give the United States a reputation that is unfriendly towards business interests.

Health care reform is still a work in progress. While the Affordable Care Act provides coverage at lowered rates to millions who would otherwise go uninsured, the coverage gap in Medicare illustrates that there will still be those that do not receive the care they need. Many also argue that until Americans begin to make health decisions, health care will always be expensive, and this reform still fails to address that.

When it Comes to Politics, Don’t Listen to Sex and the City

For many women, Sex and the City signifies the sexually adventurous and independent woman, one who does not take any crap and knows what she wants. For others, the show is the complete opposite of independence and instead showcases very materialistic women endlessly looking for the right man to marry while discussing shoes, drinks, and parties. Sex and the City falls in the same category as Madonna, you either love her or cannot stand her.

There is something so off putting about Sex and the City to me. The constant discussion of fashion and appearance, the neverending hunt for relationships, and the often shallow discussions of anything that is not fashion or relationships, along with Carrie’s constant shrieking (when she sees a mouse, when she looses a shoe, gets picked up by a man, encounters dogs, when it rains, basically all the time). Besides, how can all these women have so much money to spend when they actually never work? While browsing for anything good on TV I found an episode that depicted the women sitting around a table outside at a restaurant discussing politics and Carrie’s new politician boyfriend. Just before the lunch conversation, Carrie’s voiceover stated that she and her partner were compatible since he knows about politics and she knows about fashion, and both are very similar. During lunch, one of the women noted the irony of Carrie dating a politician, since she was not even registered to vote. Samantha then said that she would vote for whomever was the best-looking man running for office, or for president. Carrie’s voiceover said something like “Here we were, four girls talking politics.”

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Why Sherri Chessen’s Abortion Still Matters

Reading the recent coverage around the first apology in 50 years from the manufacturer of thalidomide to those affected by the drug, I was reminded of another half-century anniversary. Fifty years ago, Sherri Chessen – an Arizona wife, mother, and local host of the TV show Romper Room – sparked a national debate when she sought a therapeutic abortion.

In the summer of 1962, Chessen (then known as Sherri Finkbine) was pregnant with her fifth child. During this pregnancy, she learned that medication she had taken, which her husband brought back from a trip to England, contained thalidomide. The drug, which was introduced in the 1950s and primarily used in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia, had initially been hailed as a wonder drug of sorts, and was considered safe for use in pregnant women to treat morning sickness and insomnia. But by the early 1960s, doctors and researchers had become aware that thalidomide could cause both miscarriage and horrible fetal deformities, including babies born without limbs. [Read more...]

Taking on FSD and the Pharmaceutical Companies – Orgasm Inc.

Orgasm Inc. is a documentary by Liz Canner focusing on the recent “discovery” of FSD or Female Sexual Dysfunction. We know that pills such as Viagra can help men with erectile dysfunction. And we also know that the prescription drug industry is big, profitable business. Just how big you might wonder? According to the documentary “The pharmaceutical industry is the third most profitable in the world”. But it is also extremely profitable in America as “The USA makes up just 5% of the world’s population but it accounts for 42% of the world’s spending on prescription drugs”.

Canner explores how pharmaceutical companies scrambling to make a huge profit by telling women that they indeed are abnormal frame FSD as a disorder, even though there are no actual medical discoveries that point to FSD as a disorder. In fact, we find out that all initial meetings discussing FSD were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and that pharmaceutical companies have made it their plight to help define and discover FSD.

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Bad News for Virginia Abortion Clinics – and Women

Well, the reprieve for Virginia abortion clinics didn’t last long.

Earlier this summer, the state’s Board of Health voted to exempt existing clinics from satisfying new and expensive building requirements. Their decision was in response to a 2011 bill that required abortion clinics to be regulated as hospitals. According to pro-choice advocates, those requirements – which included such non-medical specifications as hallway width and drinking fountain installation – were so restrictive that up to 17 of the state’s 21 clinics could be forced out of business.

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The Naked Truth: Armpits4August on Female Body Hair

Guest blogger Chloe Marshall is a London based freelance journalist who regularly writes articles for queer publications, including g3 magazine, Out in the City, and Transliving International. Chloe also contributes her writing to feminist, activist causes, Armpits4August being the most exciting yet. Armpits4August are busy exposing their pits and challenging beauty ideals, and Chloe is part of a dedicated team who are spreading the word.

It’s summer in the UK, and vest tops and shorts are getting a well deserved outing from our wardrobes. But wait, doesn’t that mean we have to get our beach bodies ready? Honed, toned, de-haired, and otherwise made more pleasing to the male gaze? Or maybe not. Many women across the UK are taking the challenge of growing out their armpit hair throughout the month of August, to question these prescribed beauty ideals and raise money for a crucial women’s health cause.

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