Book Review: The Pill Problem


Before I started reading The Pill Problem by Ross Pelton I had just finished Drugs for Life by Joseph Dumit. I was slightly apprehensive about the message of the book, thinking that Pelton would promote solving one problem by perhaps encouraging the use of various drugs, but I was wrong. Pelton acknowledges the fact that the pill plays an important role in the lives of women, but states that the side effects are many and varied. Pelton’s mission with this book is to educate women on the side effects of the pill and hope that they will switch over to safer, healthier forms of contraception.

We often hear about side effects associated with the pill, but we are rarely told why women taking the pill are more likely to have blood clots for example. Pelton states that research has shown that nutrient depletion is common for the majority of women taking the pill, and that nutrient depletion can cause a range of undesirable symptoms and illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, depression, birth defects, cancer, osteoporosis and more.  [Read more...]

Guttmacher: Abortion Worldwide

This week, thousands of women’s health and empowerment advocates are in Kuala Lumpur for the Women Deliver 2013 conference. The conference, hailed as the largest global event of its kind this decade, is bringing together policy makers, advocates and researchers alike who are committed to reducing maternal mortality and increasing access to reproductive health.  The Guttmacher Institute’s staff and research are among those featured throughout the conference, including a short video presenting key evidence on abortion worldwide:

This video packs a punch with some very compelling statistics: [Read more...]

Welcome to New York, Sandy!

As New York hunkers down for Hurricane Sandy, I want to let her know how we treat women up here–even powerful, independent women who don’t cross their legs, redirect their gale force winds off-shore, or otherwise behave like the little ladies so popular with our male Republican candidates these days.

1) We respect a woman’s right to control her reproductive destiny: New York legalized abortion before Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land.

2) While many of the country’s legislators are dreaming up new ways to demean women, we have New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins introducing the Reproductive Health Act, with eighteen co-sponsors. Its purpose: to provide a fundamental right to choose contraception and the right of a female to determine the course of a pregnancy; to authorize abortion prior to viability; and to decriminalize abortion.  [Read more...]

Free To Bully You and Me

I almost feel sorry for Darrell Issa, the California Congressman no one heard of before last Thursday’s meeting of the House Oversight Committee.

Not sorry enough to resist piling on the flaming ashes of his dignity. Not sorry enough to stop fighting his party’s ludicrous waste of my tax dollars agenda. (If the GOP has taught me anything, it’s that my money is mine in perpetuity—before, after and especially during the time any of it goes to visit Uncle Sammy.) And certainly not sorry enough to forgive the far right for inventing my least favorite Republican party game: Stick the Nose (and the ultrasound wand) in the Vagina.

But still … I feel for the man.

After more than a decade in office, Issa finally gets the juice to order himself up his very own Norma Desmond moment—a starring role in televised hearings that people without press passes will actually watch. Who knew he was nowhere near ready for his close-up?

These days even the lowliest intern in Washington knows that politics is all about optics. And however much the backlash over the all-male first panel seems like evidence to the contrary, so do Issa’s staffers. Someone saw to it that Issa had a female staff member sitting next to him, sure to appear on camera every time he leaned in to the mike. (If heads roll over this, why do I feel like hers will be the first to go?) Someone also made sure that the all-male line-up was neither all-white nor all-Christian. So care was taken. No one is pleading ignorance aforethought–no matter how much it seems like the wise thing to do.

The unfortunate truth is that the optics were exactly what the Issa camp ordered–a multicultural, multidenominational parade of patriarchal power, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the frat pack chatted up Coke bottles and pubic hair with Anita Hill.

What surprises me is that the Issa camp doesn’t seem to have seen the power–or expected that others would. I suppose to their minds–and eyes, apparently–the clergy were simply victims of an intrusive, religious freedom-denying state. (The panel’s title, remember, was the unsubtle “Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”)

The problem for us and them is that they did it with a straight face.

[Read more...]

The Santorum Double Standard

With the way the Republican presidential campaign is going, it’s entirely possible that Rick Santorum will have dropped out of the race by the time this article runs. Yet before his third-place finish in the South Carolina primary, Santorum had been making a lot of news for his personal experience with terminating a pregnancy.

In 1996, the then-nineteen weeks pregnant Karen Santorum had undergone surgery to address a fetal kidney malfunction. Following the operation, she developed an infection, and the Santorums had to make the difficult choice of terminating the pregnancy, or risking Karen’s life. By all accounts they made the decision together, and Karen was given medication to induce labor.

Rick Santorum is stridently anti-choice. He has signed the Personhood Pledge; he opposes Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision that legalized birth control. Santorum considers late-term abortion procedures “medically unnecessary,” and opposes abortion in all circumstances, including rape; incest; if the fetus has no chance of surviving to full-term; and if a woman’s life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy.   [Read more...]

Mississippi Politicians Seek to Amend Women’s Rights

Sometimes when I’m having a stressful day at work, I’ll spend five (or fifteen) minutes looking at pictures of adorable dogs on The Daily Puppy or Cute Overload. If I happen to be working at home on a particularly stressful day, I go one better and spend an inordinate amount of time staring at, playing with, and generally annoying my perpetually sleepy and rumpled Shih Tzu. But look at that picture – can you really blame me?

After reading about Mississippi’s proposed Amendment 26, which would define a fertilized egg as a legal person, I had to wonder if that state’s legislators were taking a similar routine a bit too far. After all, babies are cute, and staring at pictures of babies is a fun distraction from a crappy economy, so why not just talk about babies and hypothetical babies all the time instead of actually working to improve our country’s myriad problems, pretty much none of which have anything to do with private decisions about pregnancy? [Read more...]

More Teen Boys are Wrapping It Up

The Associated Press reported some encouraging news this week: according to a recent study, a whopping 80 percent of teenage boys are using condoms the first time they have sex.  This is up from 71 percent in 2002, and 55 percent in 1988.

So what gives? Are teen boys proactively wrapping it up or are girls drawing a line in the sand and insisting on condoms?

It’s hard to say. My guess is a little bit of Column A, a little bit of Column B. But others are more skeptical. One young man interviewed said he would “be hesitant to give guys credit for coming up with this on their own.” Ha! [Read more...]

19 Democrats Pushing For Reproductive Services to be Excluded from Health Care Reform

uscapitol1Yesterday the big hubbub on Twitter and in the e-mail alerts I received is that nineteen Democrats have come out against the inclusion of reproductive services in the health care reform bill that is currently being debated in Congress. According to US News & World Report, the Democrats have been lauded by anti-choice groups. The list of representatives includes:

Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK); Bart Stupak (D-MI); Colin Peterson (D-MN); Tim Holden (D-PA); Travis Childers (D-MS); Lincoln Davis (D-TN); Heath Shuler (D-NC) Solomon Ortiz (D-TX); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Jerry Costello (D-IL); Gene Taylor (D-MS); James Oberstar (D-MN); Bobby Bright (D-AL); Steve Driehaus (D-OH); Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Charlie Melancon (D-LA); John Murtha (D-PA); Paul Kanjorski (D-PA); and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA)

AJ posted last week about the numerous ways that women are already denied health care in the status quo. How is it health care “reform” if we’re maintaining the status quo? There is already a prohibition against federal funds being used for abortion – it’s called the Hyde Amendment. Subsidies for birth control fell drastically during the Bush administration. So I guess the only reform these Democrats would be supporting is a complete elimination of federal funds for contraception.

Take action by contacting Congress and urging them to support the inclusion of reproductive health services in the health care reform package.

Family Planning: A Great Return on the Investment

A new report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shows that development assistance for family planning services in developing nations is a pretty remarkable investment. According to the study, donor nations can see a 4-fold return on their investment if they support family planning services.

  • For 2007, donor countries should have contributed $3 billion of the $17.1 billion total estimated cost for contraceptive services. Yet the actual support provided by donors was only about $500 million – leaving a shortfall of $2.5 billion.
  • In a time of global financial difficulties, donor countries may want to avoid fulfilling such financial commitments. This would be a mistake. The cost of meeting the need for contraception is relatively modest, and an investment now will result in large future savings: Studies show that each dollar invested in contraceptive services will avoid between $1.70 and $4.00 in expenditures . . . but can total as much as $31.00 for each dollar spent on family planning.

Part of the problem is that the United States spent the last eight years neglecting to fund family planning services because of the Global Gag Order (aka “Mexico City Policy”), which prohibited US funds from being distributed to organizations that performed abortions, whether or not US funds were being used to perform them. This means that agencies which provided contraception options for women were woefully underfunded as a result. Thankfully the Obama administration has lifted this ban. But there is still a large financial shortfall that needs to be addressed. [Read more...]