Cheers and Jeers



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The Food and Drug Administration said this week that it will allow 17-year-olds to purchase the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B over-the-counter. Until now, this pill, which prevents pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, was only available without prescription for those 18 years and older who have valid identification.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decision, released on April 22, was in response to a U.S. District Court decision last month directing the agency to make emergency contraception available to 17-year-olds. The agency did say, however, that the product won’t become available to these younger women until the manufacturer of Plan B submits and receives approval for a labeling change, which U.S. News and World Report reported could take some time. The publication also reported that there is no word yet on when the agency will review whether emergency contraception can be made available without any age restriction, as also ordered by the District Court in March.

More News to Cheer This Week:


  • Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, who has been nominated by President Obama to lead the department of health and human services, vetoed legislation this week that would have imposed new rules on abortion providers, The Guardian reported. The vetoed bill, among other things, would have required late-term abortion providers to report the specific diagnoses used to justify the procedure and would have allowed more prosecutors to pursue criminal charges over late-term procedures. Abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy are illegal in Kansas unless necessary to prevent serious health threats to the woman.


  • A government initiative has been launched in Brazil to try and engage men to seek solutions to violence against women, reported the Inter Press Service. In the pilot project, men in a district of Rio de Janeiro will be taking part in a reflection group to question the values and ideas underlying violence against women and family members. This pilot project, which is to be extended to 78 municipalities around the country, is the first example of such a public policy in Brazil. In 2007, 5,760 women a day were assaulted in Brazil, and most of the attackers were men.


  • A new study of postmenopausal women reinforces the health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers. The research, which is to be published in the May issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, suggests that women who have breastfed are at lower risk than mothers who have not for developing high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease decades later, when they are in menopause. These health benefits increase with duration of past breastfeeding, the study found.


  • Since Venezuela’s Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence was passed in 2007, the number of denunciations of violence against women has tripled in country, reported This is believed to be the result of women becoming more aware of their rights and having more access to the courts, the story added.




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A new report shows that 190 gay men and women were killed in Brazil last year, one every two days, representing a 55 percent increase from 2007, reported the Inter Press Service. Gay rights activists are calling this a "homocaust."

The study, called the Annual Report on Murders of Homosexuals, produced by the Grupo Gay da Bahia, says that 64 percent of the victims were gay men, 32 percent were transvestites and four percent were lesbians. The largest groups of victims were transvestites, sex workers, hairdressers and street vendors. These numbers are based on media reports, since there are no official statistics on hate crimes in Brazil.

The report adds that 48 gay men and women have been murdered so far this year.

More News to Jeer This Week:


  • Women in Somalia’s third-largest city, Baidoa, have been ordered to wear Islamic dress starting this week or they could face 12 hours of jail time, CNN reported. The militia in Baidoa has ordered women to cover their bodies and heads from view, and the clothing must be black, red or white.



  • Recent research from the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport indicates that the scarcity of female coaches, already documented at the college level, is just as evident in youth sports, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Researchers have found several factors fueling these findings, such as ingrained gender roles, intimidating "old boys" networks and time constraints.


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Cheers and Jeers