WBEZ | women's health http://www.wbez.org/tags/womens-health Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Akin connections to Ryan remain despite distancing by GOP http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-08/akin-connections-ryan-remain-despite-distancing-gop-101838 <p><p>For all the outrage GOP presidential aspirant Mitt Romney has expressed over Missouri Republican candidate Todd Akin&rsquo;s comments about &ldquo;legitimate rape,&rdquo; he&rsquo;s probably a little glad Akin stuck his foot in it.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP908050424389.jpg" style="height: 367px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan and Missouri Rep. Todd Akin co-sponsored at least two extremist bills on women's health issues. (AP/file)" />Why? Because how else were Romney and the other GOP bigwigs going to command the spotlight in such a way as to create the impression that the Republican Party isn&rsquo;t really all that bad for women?<br /><br />First of all, Akin: &ldquo;From what I understand from doctors, pregnancy (from rape) is really rare. If it&rsquo;s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.&rdquo;<br /><br />Even Romney couldn&rsquo;t let that pass. &ldquo;Congressman&rsquo;s Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong,&rdquo; <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/314452/romney-akins-inexcusable-comment-robert-costa">Romney said</a>. &ldquo;Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.&rdquo;<br /><br />(You&rsquo;ll notice the &ldquo;we&rdquo; there, implying his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is with him on this too, and I&rsquo;ll get to that in a minute.)<br /><br />Romney, for all his waffling, has a history of supporting abortion exemptions in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, though he did <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2011/07/which-gop-candidate-worst-reproductive-rights">veto emergency contraception </a>to rape victims as Massachusetts governor. (Never mind the basic contradiction of insisting life begins at conception and then having exemptions. . . .)</p><p>Predictably, the Dems came down hard on Akin; but on the GOP side it wasn&rsquo;t just Romney hammering the Missouri Republican.&nbsp;&quot;What [Akin] said is just flat wrong in addition to being wildly offensive to any victim of sexual abuse,&rdquo; said <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-mcconnell-suggests-todd-akin-consider-his-options-20120820,0,5243455.story">Sen. Mitch McConnell</a>, the GOP minority leader.&nbsp;&ldquo;Although Rep. Akin has apologized, I believe he should take time with his family to consider whether this statement will prevent him from effectively representing our party in this critical election.&rdquo;</p><p>Asking Akin to step aside is about as harsh as it comes, right?<br /><br />But there was more: According to the <em>Houston Chronicle</em>, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, <a href="http://www.chron.com/news/politics/article/Cornyn-urges-Akin-to-withdraw-from-Mo-race-3802337.php">threatened to withdraw financial support</a> unless Akin withdraws. Ditto Karl Rove.<br /><br />But don&rsquo;t be fooled. Next month the House is set to discuss <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/republicans-vs-women.html?_r=2&amp;src=me&amp;ref=general">a Republican spending plan </a>that, according to the <em>New York Times,</em>&nbsp;&quot;would bar Planned Parenthood&rsquo;s network of clinics, which serve millions of women across the country, from receiving any federal money unless the health group agreed to no longer offer abortion services for which it uses no federal dollars &mdash; a patently unconstitutional provision. It would also eliminate financing for Title X, the effective federal family-planning program for low-income women that provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for sexually-transmitted diseases. Without this program, some women would die, and unintended pregnancies would rise, resulting in some 400,000 more abortions a year and increases in Medicaid-related costs, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health.&rdquo;<br /><br />Take note that Romney, in his condemnation of Akin&rsquo;s words, didn&rsquo;t touch the whole &ldquo;legitimate rape&rdquo; aspect. How could he? His running mate and Akin were co-sponsors of a bill that tried to redefine rape so that it required a violent component for an exemption to their wide-ranging <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr3/text">No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act</a> (introduced by none other than Chicago&rsquo;s own Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski).<br /><br />The bill, which was passed by the House and stalled in the Senate, would ban federally funded abortions (again) and allow for &quot;conscience exemptions&quot; on the part of health providers. It would also prohibit tax benefits to pay for abortions, including tax exempt health savings accounts (HSAs), nor would the cost of an abortion count as a medical deduction either.<br /><br />The bill would allow exemptions <em>if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, or is the result of rape or incest</em>. But its original language suggested limitations: &quot;if the pregnancy occurred because the pregnant female was the subject of an act of <em>forcible</em> rape or, if a minor, an act of incest.&quot; (Meaning that statutory rape, for example, would not qualify unless it involved some sort of violence or threat.)<br /><br />Akin and would-be VP Ryan also co-sponsored yet another extremist bill, <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr212">The Human Life Act</a>, which declares that &quot;human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.&rdquo;<br /><br />What all those rights might be is a real mystery but <a href="http://paulryan.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=207539">Ryan&rsquo;s own web page</a> waxes philosophically about his support of fetal personhood, so that, all of a sudden, his willingness to allow the killing of persons in utero as an exemption for victims of rape or incest is a <em>huge</em> flip.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Whether Ryan had an abrupt and profound change of heart is considerably less likely than that he understands signing on to rape and incest exemptions makes him &mdash; and his fellow Republicans &mdash; seem a lot less hostile, even somewhat reasonable, on choice and women&rsquo;s health issues than before Akin opened his big mouth.</div></p> Tue, 21 Aug 2012 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-08/akin-connections-ryan-remain-despite-distancing-gop-101838 Women in northern Uganda try to create positive change after abuse and child kidnappings http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-18/segment/women-northern-uganda-try-create-positive-change-after-abuse-and-child <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/img_0421.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Northern Uganda is still reeling from a 23-year civil war that internally displaced over 1.6 million people. The <a href="http://gwedg.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=no,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=no,dependent=no'); return false;">Gulu Women&rsquo;s Economic Development and Globalization</a> (GWEDG) is the region&rsquo;s first grassroots human rights organization focused on women. It was founded by women whose human rights were violated and mothers whose children were forcibly abducted by the Lord&rsquo;s Resistance Army. GWEDG provides a means to justice, peace-building, psychosocial support and economic empowerment. <em>Worldview </em>talks with Pamela Angwech Judith, co-founder and executive director for GWEDG, about her own journey that led her to found the organization.</p></p> Wed, 18 Apr 2012 10:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/worldview/2012-04-18/segment/women-northern-uganda-try-create-positive-change-after-abuse-and-child Gov. Perry cut funds for women's health in Texas http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-19/gov-perry-cut-funds-womens-health-texas-92198 <p><p>Texas Gov. Rick Perry likes to hold out the Lone Star State as a model — his vision for the country. But while Texas' growing economy has been a reliable jobs producer, the state's health care system is straining.</p><p>Only 48 percent of Texans have private health insurance and more than a quarter of the state's population has no insurance at all, more than any other state. To fill this gap, the state's hospital emergency rooms and dozens of women's health clinics have stepped in to serve the uninsured across Texas.</p><p>To understand the health care landscape in Texas it helps to start with context, and perhaps nobody is better suited to explain it than Tom Banning. He is the CEO of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, a group of about 6,000 doctors and whose members reach into every part of the state.</p><p>"We've got universal health care in Texas, [but] the way we're financing it is beyond stupid," Banning says.</p><p>When Banning says Texas has universal health care, he means if you live in urban Texas and get sick, you can go to the county hospital emergency room.</p><p>"In terms of accessing basic primary and preventive care I think we fall far short," he says.</p><p>Over the last eight years, citing budget constraints, Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican-controlled legislature have dropped hundreds of thousands of mostly poor and working-class Texans from the rolls of government-sponsored insurance like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Nearly 6.5 million Texans are now uninsured even though the majority of them have full time jobs.</p><p>Premiums in Texas' unregulated health insurance industry have soared by 105 percent over the last ten years according to the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. Texas employers have responded by raising employee deductibles, often dramatically or by dropping their coverage entirely.</p><p><strong>The effect on women's health care</strong></p><p>For hundreds of thousands of Texas women and teens between the ages of 13 and 50, the 71 family planning clinics in the state serve as their gateway to health care, and for many of those women, visiting the clinics is the only time they see a nurse practitioner or a doctor.</p><p>Rosalinda Roman, 19, discovered the People's Clinic in East Austin after she got pregnant at age 16 and gave birth to a boy. Now, she comes to the clinic every three months to get her comprehensive well-woman exam and her contraceptive shot.</p><p>"I come here and I do my annual physical here. I also get birth control here [and] Depo shot," Roman says. "I don't know what I would do with a second child right now."</p><p>With the encouragement of staff at the clinic, Roman has gone back to school and is two months away from becoming a medical technician.</p><p>This year, the Republican-controlled Texas legislature and Gov. Rick Perry cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds. Dr. Celia Neavel runs the People's Clinic in East Austin and says it is a devastating blow.</p><p>"So that particular funding was used obviously for birth control, but also pap smears, breast cancer screening, for diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia [and] high cholesterol," Neavel says.</p><p><strong>A 'war on birth control'</strong></p><p>These cuts are less about saving money and more about abortion and contraception. Evangelicals and Tea Party supporters are ascendant in Texas and Gov. Perry is their champion. These cuts are evidence of their political power as well.</p><p>The goal is to get government money out of the abortion process and if contraceptive services have to suffer a bit of collateral damage in the process, so be it. When <em>The Texas Tribune</em> asked state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches), a supporter of the family planning cuts, if this was a war on birth control, he said "yes."</p><p>"Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything, that's what family planning is supposed to be about," Christian said.</p><p>Family planning clinics are routinely referred to by many Texas Republican legislators as "abortion clinics" even though none of the 71 family planning clinics in the state that receive government funding provide abortions. Texas and federal law prohibits that, but most women's health clinics will refer women or teens who want an abortion to a provider.</p><p>"They're sitting here, referring women out to receive abortions," Christian said in an interview with NPR. "Those are the clinics, including Planned Parenthood, we were targeting."</p><p>Gov. Perry's spokesman did not reply to requests for comment for this story, but Christian said there's no question the Texas governor is an advocate, enthusiastically signing this approach into law.</p><p>"Gov. Perry has supported the pro-life agenda consistently throughout his time in office," he said.</p><p><strong>The state's family planning solution</strong></p><p>The budget cuts to family planning clinics won't in the end save Texas money. The state estimates nearly 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services, resulting in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. Texas already spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies — more than any other state.</p><p>In San Antonio alone, unplanned children born to teens would fill 175 kindergarten classrooms each year. What's particularly galling to family planning advocates is that part of the money, $8.4 million, that was cut from family planning will now go to Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the state. Crisis Pregnancy Centers are part of the pro-life movement's answer to family planning clinics.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.downtownpc.org/">Downtown Pregnancy Center's office</a> in Dallas is located inside First Baptist Church's building, historically one of the most conservative and powerful Baptist churches in North Texas. Although it looks similar to a doctor's office, it is not a medical clinic; there are no well-woman examinations, no contraception services free or paid and no pap smears.</p><p>There are 165 Crisis Pregnancy Centers across Texas and plenty won't take any state money. The Downtown Pregnancy Center doesn't. The Centers are for women who are willing to keep their babies or give them up for adoption. But clinic president Caroline Cline says, heartbreakingly, only one to two percent are willing to let their babies be adopted. Cline says teens will say to her "I'd rather abort than give my baby up for adoption."</p><p>"It's disappointing, it's very disappointing," she says.</p><p>The Crisis Pregnancy Centers put up billboards letting frightened pregnant teens know that these are places they can turn for help, but that can lead to a bit of a misunderstanding. The clinic gets calls from people asking what kind of abortions they offer and how much do abortions cost, Cline says.</p><p>Nevertheless, these young women are not turned away.</p><p>"We let them know that we don't refer for abortion or perform abortions here, but we're a great place to start," Cline says.</p><p>The fact that millions of dollars that once went to family planning clinics will, in the future, go to Crisis Pregnancy Centers across Texas causes no small amount of bitterness among those who staff the women's health clinics. It's a feeling they're probably going to have to get used to.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-19/gov-perry-cut-funds-womens-health-texas-92198 FDA finds silicone breast implants safe, but prone to fail with age http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-23/fda-finds-silicone-breast-implants-safe-prone-fail-age-88244 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-23/breastimplant.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wednesday the Food and Drug Administration said that <a href="http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm259866.htm">silicone breast implants are generally safe</a>, when used as intended. And the devices don't seem to cause autoimmune disease, breast cancer, or reproductive problems, as some previous reports had suggested.</p><p>But the agency also said that women frequently have problems with the implants, so much so that they often have to have surgery to remove or replace them.</p><p>"Breast implants are not lifetime devices," <a href="http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/ucm193990.htm">Dr. Jeffrey Shuren</a>, head of FDA's device division, said at a press conference. "The longer a woman has silicone-filled breast implants, the more likely she is to experience complications."</p><p></p><p>Those complications include hardening of the breast, scarring, and rupture of the implant, which requires surgery to remove or replace it.</p><p>In research on women with implants prior to 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the women who got implants for cosmetic reasons, and 40 to 70 percent of the women who got implants for reconstruction after breast cancer, had surgery to deal with problems.</p><p>Silicone <a href="http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/default.htm">breast implants</a> have been used since the 1960s, but were taken off the market in the United States in 1992 because of concern that gel leaking from the implants could cause cancer or autoimmune disease.</p><p>In 2006, the FDA let two companies <a href="http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108790.htm">sell</a> the devices again, Allergan and Mentor, a unit of Johnson & Johnson. One condition: The companies were required to do studies following 40,000 women for 10 years. A five-year review of those data showed no big new safety issues, FDA officials said today.</p><p>But critics said that study data aren't very useful, because the researchers have lost touch with more than half of the women originally enrolled. That's true for earlier studies, too. "In some of the studies they have a 5 percent response rate," <a href="http://www.center4research.org/about-us/key-staff/">Diana Zuckerman</a>, president of the National Research Center for Women and Families, a private nonprofit that monitors breast implant safety, told Shots. "It could be that they're perfectly happy with their implants, but you can't assume that."</p><p>Women who get implants for cosmetic reasons are least likely to participate in safety studies, yet they account for the majority of breast implants. In 2010, 297,000 women in the United States got implants in order to increase their breast size, while 90,000 women got implants for reconstruction, mainly after mastectomy for breast cancer.</p><p>In January, the FDA reported a possible association between breast implants of all types and a rare type of cancer called <a href="http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/BreastImplants/ucm239995.htm">anaplastic large cell lymphoma</a>. This autoimmune cancer grows next to the implant. There have been 34 such cases reported worldwide, a very small fraction of the 5 to 10 million women around the world with implants.</p><p>Silicone implants can leak, and it's usually impossible for women to feel that rupture. So the FDA says all women getting silicone implants should have an <a href="http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2006/ucm108790.htm">MRI</a> after three years to check for silent rupture, and every two years after that. Those scans can be expensive and may not be covered by health insurance, though. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. <img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1308844197?&gn=FDA+Finds+Silicone+Breast+Implants+Safe%2C+But+Prone+To+Fail+With+Age&ev=event2&ch=103537970&h1=FDA,Plastic+surgery,Women%27s+Health,Your+Health,breast+cancer,Shots+-+Health+Blog,Medical+Treatments,Health,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=137347474&c7=1128&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1128&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110622&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=129287924,126949541,126567813,126567525,125944406,103537970&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Thu, 23 Jun 2011 15:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-23/fda-finds-silicone-breast-implants-safe-prone-fail-age-88244