Pre-Roe Doctors Speak Up; Health Care Erodes

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(WOMENSENEWS)

Cheer:

A group of doctors is sharing first-hand memories of either performing or playing some role in providing illegal abortions back in the days before the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that made abortions legal, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health said Friday in a press release. With the future of legal abortion uncertain, the group wants to stress the dangers of returning to a time when women are forced to undergo unsafe procedures.

“This Supreme Court nomination may be the most important one in our lifetimes. We’re speaking out because we know what’s at stake,” said one of the physicians in the statement. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s surprise retirement announcement last week has led many pro-choice groups to quickly mobilize to protect legal abortion. In describing the lengths women went to determine their reproductive fate, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health hopes to prevent that phase of history from repeating itself.

Other news to cheer about this week:

  • In another rejection of the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has maintained that the ban is unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union and National Abortion Federation said in a press release on Friday. With three prior trial court decisions against the ban, this decision marks the first time a circuit court has sustained one of these verdicts.
  • Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich made an attempt on Thursday to curb the increasing neglect of women’s health caused by skyrocketing insurance prices, the Peoria Journal Star reported. Provisions of a law he signed require health insurance companies to provide coverage for all ovarian and breast cancer screenings for at-risk women.
  • Spain has signed a commitment to work toward gender equality and anti-discrimination in its attempts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations Development Fund for Women said Friday in a press release. The agreement will lead to stronger cooperation between the U.N. organization and the Spanish government.
  • The United Church of Christ will support and celebrate same-sex marriage, The New York Times reported Monday. The approval of the church’s members was backed by its president, Reverend John H. Thomas. The move signals the church’s opposition to recent calls for a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.
  • Three women have opened the first communications law firm to be owned solely by black women, eMediaWire reported Thursday. The Ghatt Law Group, based in Chevy Chase, Md., plans to use their minority status in the profession to help clients meet the full demographic composition of their customers. The group will also work for small businesses in need of inexpensive legal services.
  • Afghanistan has extended an invitation to Yakin Erturk, a women’s rights specialist on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, the U.N. News Center reported Thursday. During her visit, Erturk will gather information about the current status of women and then provide strategies for action. Violence against women is expected to be the primary subject of Erturk’s tour.
  • Taiwan’s Venice Biennale is highlighting the work of female artists, reported the Taipei Times on Thursday. The show will feature work by prominent female artists including Chiu Tze-yan and some work will focus on the themes of gender inequity.
  • Exxon Mobil Corporation announced a $3 million initiative to assist girls’ education in the developing world in a press release Thursday. The U.S. energy giant’s plan involves grants and support to the most impoverished communities of six African nations. The World Bank endorses educating women and girls as the most beneficial contribution to low-income communities. Continued schooling and education for women, the bank has found, leads to healthier childbirth, lower infant mortality and HIV/AIDS and higher immunization rates.

Jeer:

More women are unable to afford proper health care, according to The Kaiser Family Foundation. Over 25 percent of non-elderly women–with or without insurance–either abstain from or wait for needed healthcare due to an inability to meet rising health care prices, the foundation said Thursday in a press release.

The national study also concluded that 66 percent of the uninsured women delayed or went without care. Researchers found that many women had not, for many years, discussed major causes of poor health in women, such as smoking, low calcium, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, rates in mammogram, Pap tests for cervical cancer and colon cancer screenings have also fallen. The pap test rate, one of the most significant declines, has fallen from 81 to 76 percent since 2001.

Other news to jeer at this week:

  • In what appears to have been an act of violence, a fire erupted Monday at the only women’s health clinic to perform abortions in West Palm Beach, Fla., reported the Miami Herald. No physical injuries were suffered. There were extensive damages to the building, equipment and medical records. The presence of lighter fluid made it a suspected arson. The closure of the women’s reproductive health clinic follows last month’s attack on another nearby clinic, also offering abortion services.
  • Many of the nation’s top magazines covering academic and political issues feature bylines that are overwhelmingly male, this month’s Columbia Journalism Review reports. The Nation male writers outnumber females 3:1, at Harper’s Magazine the ratio is 7:1, at The New Republic it’s 8:1, at Foreign Affairs it’s 9:1. Bylines at The National Review were the most male-dominated, with a ratio of 13:1.
  • Gender inequality is identified as a risk factor for chronic fatigue syndrome by researchers at the University of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The study finds that the psychosocial effects of inequality–such as marital sexual abuse, poor nutrition and hunger–are catalysts for the chronic fatigue, Women’s Health Weekly reported Thursday.
  • Unsafe medical conditions in Mexican abortion clinics are causing Mexican women to travel north to obtain safer procedures in California, according to a study presented to a University of California Berkeley forum on Wednesday, the Contra Costa Times reported. Twenty percent of the abortions performed at San Diego’s main clinic are for women residing in Mexico. The number of Americans traveling to Mexico for cheaper health care and prescriptions may, in part, lead to the strain on the quality of care Mexico’s clinics are able to provide.
  • A group of female firefighters in Fairfax County, Va., is bringing a gender discrimination lawsuit against the county, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Firefighters are alleging harassment, insufficient working conditions and unfair hiring and promotion standards.
  • Women feel more pain in their lifetimes and are more sensitive to it than men, according to Bath University psychologist Ed Keogh, a BBC News report said Monday. The pain experienced by women appears to be more severe in terms of frequency, duration, and intensity. Explanations for the disparity include hormonal differences as well as women’s likelihood to attend to the emotional aspects of the pain.

– Kamelia Angelova contributed to this report

Rachel Corbett is a Women’s eNews intern and freelance writer based in New York City. Kamelia Angelova is also a Women’s eNews intern and a freelance reporter based in New York City.

For more information:

Columbia Journalism Review —
Gentlemen’s Club:
http://www.cjr.org/issues/2005/4/weiss-numbers.asp

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:
http://www.kff.org

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health:
http://www.voicesofchoice.org

Note: Women’s eNews is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites and the contents of site the link points to may change.


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