In a Politico opinion piece, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), lead sponsors of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), together with Larry Cox and Kerry Kennedy of Amnesty International USA, reflect on the significance of the legislation introduced in the House and Senate on Thursday. "Introduction of this bill supports the efforts of President Obama and Secretary Clinton to rightly put women at the very center of a broad global security agenda that factors in the great challenges of our decade and invests in the world's peacemakers, " the authors write before describing how the legislation would work to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. "This isn't just the right thing to do - it's in our own interests. Investing in women makes sense because when they are safe and free to earn a living they invest in education and grow economies - making U.S. assistance dollars go farther, " the authors continue. "Going forward, this goal should be recognized as crucial to global development and stability, and by extension, to America's security.
The White House on Thursday announced a new health education program that will deliver pregnancy advice to women via text messages, the Los Angeles Times ' " Technology " reports (Guynn, "Technology, " Los Angeles Times, 2/4). The program -- called " text4baby " -- is sponsored by the federal government, the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, wireless providers and several health industry companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, WellPoint and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. The campaign is reportedly the first national no-cost health education program using cell phones, which are owned by 90% of U.S. residents, sponsors say. Paul Meyer, president of Voxiva -- which operates health texting programs in Africa, India and Latin America -- said that cell phones are particularly effective for reaching low-income people (Perrone, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/3). According to The Hill 's " Hillicon Valley, " text messaging was chosen as the medium for the program because of its popularity among women of childbearing age and minority women (Hart, "Hillicon Valley, " The Hill, 2/4).
Featuring the new release of its premium ACUSON S2000™ ultrasound system - Women's Imaging and ACUSON X300™ ultrasound system, premium edition (PE) - Women's Imaging, Siemens Healthcare (booth #813) will highlight the latest innovations in OB/GYN imaging at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) 30th Annual Meeting in Chicago. Siemens will be showcasing advanced clinical applications that bring a new dimension of diagnosis and workflow enhancements to fetal ultrasound. The ACUSON S2000 ultrasound system - Women's Imaging represents the pinnacle of innovative technologies and workflow-enhancing clinical applications, which dramatically improve the efficiency and quality of ultrasound exams. Latest acoustic technologies deliver a powerful system optimized for superb 2D, Doppler and 3D/4D imaging for the most demanding requirements in maternal-fetal medicine. The system features Siemens-exclusive knowledge-based workflow applications, such as eSieScan™ workflow protocols, enhancing examination processes and increasing the consistency of exams, while at the same time reducing keystrokes to enable shorter exam times and improve patient throughput.
Focus on the Family plans to air a second television advertisement four times during the Super Bowl pregame show that will also feature former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam Tebow, USA Today reports (Horovitz, USA Today, 2/5). The organization is sponsoring a yet-to-be-seen in-game commercial featuring the Tebows discussing Pam's personal story of contracting amoebic dysentery while pregnant with Tim and ignoring doctors' recommendations to have an abortion ( Women's Health Policy Repo rt, 2/1). According to Focus on the Family CEO Jim Daly, the original advertisement was rejected after CBS executives said that Pam Tebow's line, "Both of our lives were at risk, " was "too much" ( USA Today, 2/5). Opposition Continues The Tebow spot has "been the subject of one of the most intense tugs-of-war over an ad in many years, " with abortion-rights supporters and opponents both up in arms, the New York Times reports. In response to the Tebow ad, Planned Parenthood Federation of America released its own online ad featuring Olympic gold medalist Al Joyner and former NFL player Sean James supporting a woman's right to make her own "decision about her health and her family" (Elliott, New York Times, 2/5).
Defense Department officials on Thursday announced that emergency contraception will be available at all military hospitals and health clinics around the world, the Washington Post reports. The decision was made on Feb. 3 after the Pentagon accepted a recommendation from its Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which voted in November 2009 to include the brand-name EC pill Plan B and the generic Next Choice on the list of drugs that all military facilities should stock, according to a DOD spokesperson. The same panel made a similar recommendation in 2002, but the policy was never put in place, the Post reports. According to the Post, the decision marks the Obama administration's latest reversal of a Bush administration women's health policy. The Obama administration previously lifted restrictions on federal funding for international family planning groups; proposed the recission of a federal regulation that would have expanded the ability of health care workers to refuse care based on moral or religious objections;
High-coverage human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations among adolescents and young women may result in a rapid reduction of genital warts, cervical cell abnormalities, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, researchers report in a new study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Some of these genital abnormalities are precursors of cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. This study was undertaken to determine if the administration of the HPV vaccine reduced the risk of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precursor of cervical cancer; external anogenital and vaginal lesions (or external genital lesions) of any grade severity; Pap test abnormalities; and procedures such as colposcopy and definitive therapy or excision of lesions. Nubia MuГ oz, M.D., of the National Institute of Cancer, BogotГ, Colombia, and colleagues studied 17, 622 women aged 15 years who were enrolled in one of two randomized, placebo-controlled, efficacy trials for the HPV6/11/16/18 vaccine.
UNICEF on Thursday launched a $1.2 billion appeal aimed at providing "life saving emergency assistance to millions of children and women in dire need, " VOA News reports (Schlein, 2/4). "The appeal is part of UNICEF's Humanitarian Action Report 2010, released in Geneva ... which spotlights the desperate situation of children and women in 28 countries and territories facing deep humanitarian crises, " the U.N. News Centre writes (2/4). "Every year, UNICEF responds to some 200 emergencies around the world, " writes VOA News. The 28 countries highlighted are the places with the most acute crises. "The greatest needs are in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 24 million people in the Horn of Africa are being affected by drought, chronic food insecurity and armed conflict, " according to the news service. "UNICEF's three biggest operations are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia. [UNICEF's deputy executive director Hilde] Johnson says more than six million people in Ethiopia are going hungry because of drought and famine.
Members of the U.S. House and Senate on Thursday introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), a bill that "would make violence against women worldwide a priority of the United States government and an enhanced component of its foreign policy and foreign assistance programmes, " Inter Press Service reports (Fromm, 2/4). "The measure, which enjoys the backing of lawmakers from both major U.S. parties, " would allocate $175 million a year over five years "to go towards developing programs to combat violence against women in as many as 20 low-income countries where it is a serious problem, " Agence France-Presse reports. The bill would "create a specialized office in the U.S. Agency for International Development and provide $40 million [each year for five years] to expand and modify emergency and humanitarian relief programs to address violence against women, " the news service writes. Additionally, the legislation "would require that U.S. training of military and police forces overseas - an ongoing mission in places like Afghanistan and Iraq - include instruction on preventing violence against women and girls, " according to AFP (2/4).
The following summarizes selected women's health-related blog entries. ~ " We Can't Overlook Reproductive Health Needs in Haiti, " Sharon Camp, RH Reality Check: Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, writes that the Haitian earthquake has created "displacement" within the culture, where "the health and lives of Haiti's women and girls -- many of whom were already in a precarious situation because of poverty or low social status -- are threatened by severe living conditions, including the virtual absence of reproductive health services." According to Camp, "Most immediately, there is an urgent need for clean delivery kits to ensure that childbirth is safe for mothers and their newborns." She continues, "Likewise, displaced women and girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation, and proper care -- including emergency contraception and HIV prophylaxis -- must be made widely available to any victims of sexual violence." She also writes that "many Haitian women who find themselves cut off from their usual sources for family planning services and supplies, including condoms, must be provided with free contraceptives.
Faced with the loss of a 60-seat supermajority in the Senate, congressional Democrats on Thursday began to discuss using recess appointments to advance some of President Obama's stalled nominees, such as Dawn Johnsen, who has twice been nominated to head the Office of Legal Councel at the Department of Justice, CQ Today reports. The Senate is scheduled to begin its Presidents Day recess at the end of next week. According to CQ Today, the election of Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) will make it difficult for Democrats in the Senate to gather the 60 votes needed to limit floor debate. In addition, the GOP "displayed newfound resolve" on nominees Thursday when Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted against National Labor Relations Board nominee Craig Becker, despite having previously supported his nomination. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he may have no choice but to recommend the president use recess appointments unless some members of the GOP allow the chamber to proceed without requiring 60 votes.