Health and Fitness

NARAL Pro-Choice New York Unimpressed With Senate Contender Ford After Meeting, Plans To Endorse Gillibrand

A meeting Monday between former Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) -- who is considering a primary challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) -- and NARAL Pro-Choice New York officials solidified the group's decision to endorse Gillibrand in a potential fall primary, the AP/WKRG reports. While Ford emerged from the meeting calling the session "positive, " NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Kelli Conlin said, "I really believed that if he wanted to meet with us that it would be to say to me, 'I want to be your partner, ' and that's not what came out of the meeting." During his time in Congress, Ford voted in favor of parental consent for minors seeking abortion procedures and for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. He has also repeatedly referred to his views as "pro-life" in the past and has said that he was "not pro-choice." Ford -- who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee in 2006 and later moved to New York City -- has attempted to explain those positions by stating that he had been trying to expand the meaning of "pro-life" to include stances in support of "health care and veterans' benefits.

Older Female Cancer Survivors Have Added Health Issues Compared To Their Counterparts

As cancer survivors live longer, questions arise about what kind of care long-term survivors require. A recently published study from Case Western Reserve University's Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences found 245 older married women who survived cancer had more health problems as compared to a sample of 245 married women without cancer. The article, "Health and Well-Being in Older Married Female Cancer Survivors, " was published as part of a special supplement of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, along with other articles that resulted from a conference at CWRU on geriatric oncology, said Aloen Townsend, the lead researcher and associate professor of social work. "There is a pressing need to study older cancer survivors, " Townsend said. "It is critical to disentangle the experiences that are unique to older cancer survivors from experiences that are common to aging individuals." Health care for cancer survivors is a growing concern, according to the researchers.

UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid And UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman On Female Genital Mutilation cutting

Progress has been made in recent years in reducing the incidence of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C), largely because communities and families are taking action and calling for change. However an estimated 120 to 140 million women have been subject to this harmful and dangerous practice and 3 million girls continue to be at risk each year. The practice persists because it is sustained by social perceptions, including that girls and their families will face shame, social exclusion and diminished marriage prospects if they forego cutting. These perceptions can, and must, change. FGM/C poses immediate and long-term consequences for the health of women and girls, and violates their human rights. Success in reducing the incidence in several countries where it was once highly prevalent has occurred as a result of culturally sensitive engagement with local communities, encouraging change from within. Where communities have chosen to make public declarations against the practice, for example in Senegal, declines of up to 65 per cent have been recorded.

Sen. Hutchison Criticizes Texas Gov. Perry For Supporting HPV Vaccine Requirement For Schools

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on Tuesday criticized Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) -- her opponent in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary -- over his executive order three years ago that would have required sixth-grade girls to receive vaccinations against the human papillomavirus, the AP/Dallas Morning News reports. The state Legislature overruled the executive order, though the moratorium by the State Legislature will expire in January 2011. Perry's executive order angered social conservatives who considered it misaligned with the state's abstinence-only approach to sexual education. Critics also contended that the requirement violated parental rights. Speaking Tuesday at a meeting of Dallas County Council of Republican Women, Hutchison noted that Perry's chief of staff at the time was a former lobbyist for Merck, the vaccine's manufacturer. Perry defended his order as "erring on the side [of] life, " but a Hutchison campaign press release said "it looks like Perry was really erring on the side of Merck and their lobbyists.

Maternal Mortality In Calif. Up Nearly Threefold Over Last Decade, State Data Show

California's maternal mortality rate has nearly tripled during the past decade, according to an unreleased report from the state Department of Public Health, the Sacramento Bee reports. California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, conducted the investigation into the state's pregnancy-related deaths. The report "shows the most significant spike in pregnancy-related deaths since the 1930s, " according to the Bee. The Bee notes that pregnancy remains safe for the vast majority of women in California, with 95 deaths in the state out of more than 500, 000 live births in 2006. However, if California had met goals set by HHS, the number of deaths would have been around 28. In 1996, California's pregnancy-related mortality rate was 5.6 maternal deaths per 100, 000 live births, slightly more than the national goal of 4.3 per 100, 000 live births After the World Health Organization revised its coding system, California's rate increased to 6.7 in 1998 and 7.

Politico Links Specter's Failure To Pursue Abstinence-Only Earmarks With Politics

Although he regularly obtained earmarks for abstinence-only sex education programs as a Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) has not sought such earmarks since switching political parties in spring 2009, Politic o reports. Between 2003 and 2009, Specter secured almost $10 million in earmarks for abstinence-only programs. According to Politico, Specter, who generally supports abortion rights, could use the abstinence-only earmarks "to show social conservatives in his party that he was sensitive to their concerns" when he was a Republican. However, now that he is a Democrat, he "doesn't have to worry about a challenge from the right, " Politico reports. Specter first sought abstinence-only earmarks in 2003 after Pennsylvania declined Title V funding and as he faced a tough primary campaign against ideological conservative Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Between 2003 and 2004, Specter obtained more than $5 million in abstinence-only earmarks. He secured more than $500, 000 in the 2009 spending bill for 22 abstinence-only programs at hospitals, school districts and social service organizations.

Opinions: G8 And Maternal, Child Mortality; Rebuilding Haiti

G8 Summit Needs International Action Plan To Reduce Childhood, Maternal Mortality In a National Post opinion piece, Canadian Member of Parliament Keith Martin, "who chaired the drafting committee at the 2009 G8 International Parliamentarians' Conference in Rome, which put together a plan of action to reduce maternal and infant mortality, " welcomes the recent announcement by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper that maternal and child mortality will be a focus of the G8 summit this summer. Martin asserts that "the summit cannot be just another milquetoast, feel-good document. The leaders must announce a comprehensive International Action Plan to reduce childhood and maternal mortality." Martin outlines the plan to reduce maternal mortality that he and other parliamentarians crafted last summer, that included, as he writes, calls "for strategic investments in access to primary care: basic surgical facilities, medications, a full array of family planning options, diagnostics, adequate nutrition, clean water, power, and most importantly, trained health-care workers.

VA Hospitals Urged To Accommodate Growing Number Of Female Veterans

NPR : "The traditionally male-dominated environment often doesn't recognize that women veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced the same psychological, physical and emotional trauma as male veterans." Jill Feldman, manager of the Women Veterans Health Care Program at the Milwaukee VA, says the hospital is working to change a culture that has traditionally been more masculine. A bill pending in Congress "would authorize a study of women who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan to find out how the wars have affected their physical, mental and reproductive health. The bill also would require a review of the barriers women face in accessing VA health care" (Toner, 1/3). This information was reprinted from with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

Idaho Senate Bill Would Allow Providers To Refuse Health Services Based On Beliefs

Two Idaho state senators -- Russell Fulcher (R) and Chuck Winder (R) -- have introduced a bill ( SB 1270 ) that would legally exempt physicians, nurses and other health professionals from providing medical care or services that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs, the Idaho Statesman reports. Although the bill was prepared for a public hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee, its sponsors are revising it to address concerns from groups representing trial lawyers, physicians and hospitals. The bill cites a list of specific practices and procedures -- including abortion, embryonic stem cell research, embryo cloning and dispensing of abortion-inducing drugs -- that could potentially clash with a provider's values. The bill does not specify which drugs would be classified as abortifacients, though Fulcher said it is not intended to cover contraceptives. He said, "There are legal definitions and medical definitions for the same word, and they don't necessarily line up.

Judge Hears Arguments In Challenge To Patents On Genes Tied To Breast, Ovarian Cancer

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet on Tuesday considered whether to invalidate Myriad Genetics' patents on two genes associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers in a lawsuit that could have far-reaching implications for the biotechnology industry and genetics-based research, the AP/ABC News reports. In March 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan against Myriad, the University of Utah Research Foundation and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. After hearing arguments from both sides Tuesday, Sweet declined to immediately rule (Neumeister, AP/ABC News, 2/3). The government more than a decade ago granted Myriad the patent on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as the company's genetic test that measures a patient's risk for the cancers ( Women's Health Policy Report, 5/14/09). ACLU and the patent foundation on Tuesday argued that patents on genes are unconstitutional. The Patent Office allows patents on genes as soon as the DNA is isolated from the cell, according to ACLU attorney Sandra Park.

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