By Adeyemi and Moawad
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Congressional Democrats on Feb. 5. introduced a package of bills designed to increase access to contraception and reduce unplanned pregnancies in the United States.
The Reid-Slaughter Prevention First Act proposes an increase in funding for family planning programs to $699 million from $283 million. The higher amount reflects where the budget for the national family planning program--or Title X--would be if it had kept up with inflation since 1980.
"If we want to reduce the number of abortions in this country, the methodology is clear: empower women to prevent unintended pregnancies through education and access to contraception," Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, a co-sponsor, said in a statement.
The New York-based Guttmacher Institute reports that nearly half of pregnancies of U.S. women are unintended, and 4 in 10 of those pregnancies end in abortion.
Slaughter also introduced a bill to encourage greater female participation in sports in high schools, her office announced Feb. 7. The bill would require schools to report the number and gender of student athletes and expenditures for sports programs.
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University of Chicago researchers have found that 1 in 7 physicians believes he or she may refuse to tell patients about legal but controversial medical treatments such as abortion as well as birth control for teens, the Feb. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reveals.
According to the findings, 29 percent of patients, or about 100 million Americans, are treated by physicians who feel they have no obligation to present all available medical options if they have moral objections to them. About 86 percent of physicians would present all options to patients, but only 71 percent of that group would refer the patient to a doctor who would be willing to assist.
"Our survey data point to a basic dilemma facing patients and physicians" in our pluralistic democracy, said study author Farr Curlin, assistant professor of medicine at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. "Because patients and physicians come from many different moral traditions, religious and secular, they will sometimes disagree about whether a particular medical intervention is morally permissible."
The study found that male physicians, Catholic and Protestant physicians, and physicians who personally objected to controversial medical options were most likely to refuse to disclose information.
U.S. women age 30 and older are having babies at the highest rate since 1968 while teens are having fewer than ever, the Buffalo News reported Jan. 6, citing the Centers for Disease Control's annual "vital statistics" report in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics. The study found that 96 in 1,000 women over 30 had children. Among women aged 15 to 19, the birth rate was 40 in 1,000.
Angela E.V. King, a former United Nations assistant secretary general and special advisor on gender issues and the advancement of women, died this week from breast cancer in New York. King, a native of Jamaica, was a founding member of the U.N.'s Group on Equal Rights for Women. "She will be mourned with profound affection and respect by many friends and allies around the world," said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Toyin Adeyemi is an independent journalist based in New York City. Nouhad Moawad oversees Women's eNews' Arabic site.
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