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Many women who have had one or more Cesarean sections can safely deliver their next baby through labor, say new guidelines released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reported The Associated Press July 22. Under the new guidelines, related to vaginal birth after Cesarean, or VBAC, women with two previous Cesareans and no previous vaginal delivery, women expecting twins and women with an unknown type of scar from the previous C-sections are now considered reasonable candidates for vaginal delivery, reported WebMD July 22.

Previous VBAC guidelines have been criticized for denying many pregnant women the chance for a vaginal birth and for possibly contributing to the rise in C-sections. Overall, nearly a third of U.S. births are by Cesarean, an all-time high. Women who have repeated C-sections are at greater risk of other pregnancy complications such as placenta abnormalities or hemorrhage, the Associated Press article reported.

Seventy-nine percent of the women who died during pregnancy and delivery in New York City between the years 2001 and 2005 had C-sections, according to a New York City Maternal Mortality Review Project Team report issued in June.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • Itawamba County school district in Mississippi agreed on July 20 to pay high school student Constance McMillen over $35,000 in damages as a result of her lawsuit against the school district’s anti-gay policies, reported Ms. Magazine July 21. The agreement also requires the school district to adopt a non-discrimination policy, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. McMillen was banned from attending her prom with her girlfriend earlier this year, which ultimately led to cancellation of the event by the school.
  • Four women made history on July 22 when they won the Navy’s prestigious Sailor of the Year award, reported the Washington Post July 23. One of the winners was promoted in rank. The sailors were chosen for their overall performance and leadership out of an enlisted fleet of 273,226, said Navy officials, according to the article. This year marks the first time in history all Sailors of the Year are women.
  • An all-female crew of four, the Seagals, set a new record by becoming the first women to row non-stop around Britain, reported BBC July 23. The Seagals, who have spent over seven weeks in their 24-feet (7.3 meters) boat, Go Commando, completed their 2,010-mile journey at Tower Bridge, London, in a race against an all-male team who dropped out of the competition after an anchor problem.
  • Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., introduced the Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services for the 21st Century Act on July22. The act places a national focus on evidence-based maternity care practices to help achieve the best possible maternity outcomes for mothers and babies. The legislation authorizes an awareness media campaign to educate the public about the best proven maternity care practices, expands federal research on best maternity practices and authorizes data collection to pinpoint specific geographic areas of the country that lack maternity care providers.
  • In a potential breakthrough in the fight against AIDS, researchers have found that a gel applied by women before and after sex cut the chance of acquiring HIV by 39 percent and the genital herpes virus by 51 percent, reported The Wall Street Journal July 20. It is the first time an HIV-prevention method controlled by women, who bear the brunt of the epidemic in Africa, has been shown to work. Further testing will be needed to determine whether the drug causes birth defects. A larger trial of about 5,000 women, using the same gel but with a different dosing regimen, is underway in Africa. Results are not expected until 2013.
  • President Barack Obama urged the Senate to pass legislation that would make it easier for women to sue companies if they are paid less than men, reported Reuters July 20. The House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act in January 2009, but the measure faces opposition from some Republican senators and business groups who consider it government intrusion into the private sector. An update of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the legislation would increase penalties for equal pay violations and bar retaliation against workers who ask about wage practices or disclose their own wages.
  • Human Rights Watch urged the Indian government to crack down on village councils and local politicians linked to a spate of recent honor killings, reported the Agence France-Presse July 19. The New York-based watchdog said the authorities should not only prosecute those responsible but also strengthen existing laws to prevent religion and caste-based violence. Although there are no official figures on honor killings, as they often go unreported or are passed off as suicide or natural deaths by the family members involved, a recent independent study found that at least 900 such murders occur every year in three Indian states alone, reported The Times of India July 19.




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Two additional female masseuses have come forth to accuse former Vice President Al Gore of sexual abuse, reported Associated Content July 21. The first incident allegedly took place at a Beverly Hills luxury hotel when Gore was in Hollywood to attend the Oscars; the second took place a year later at a hotel in Tokyo. These new accusations come three weeks after the Portland, Ore., Police Department reopened its investigations into Molly Haggerty’s allegations that the Nobel Peace Prize-winner tried to rape her.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Hundreds of Uzbek women are being surgically sterilized without their knowledge or consent in a program designed to prevent overpopulation, according to rights groups, victims and health officials, reported The Associated Press July 20. In a decree issued in February, the Health Ministry ordered all medical facilities to "strengthen control over the medical examination of women of childbearing age." The decree did not specifically mandate sterilizations, but critics allege that doctors have come under direct pressure from the government to perform the procedures, the article reported.
  • Fox banned a "Family Guy" episode regarding abortion, saying it is too controversial for TV, reported The Nation July 20. However, the studio will release the episode, entitled "Partial Terms of Endearment," on DVD in September. Seth MacFarlane, creator of "Family Guy," called Fox’s decision unfortunate and said they gave him the green light to produce the episode.
  • Diagnosing the earliest stage of breast cancer can be surprisingly difficult, prone to both outright error and case-by-case disagreement over whether a cluster of cells is benign or cancerous, reported The New York Times on July 20. The article looked at the story of a patient who received extensive surgery after being misdiagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (D.C.I.S), a common type of noninvasive breast cancer. In response to the situation, the federal government is now financing a nationwide study of variations in breast pathology, based on concerns that 17 percent of D.C.I.S cases may be misdiagnosed. Concerned about the accuracy of breast pathology, the College of American Pathologists also said it would start a voluntary certification program for pathologists who read breast tissue.
  • Gaza’s Hamas rulers are banning women from smoking water pipes in cafes and restaurants, claiming it violates tradition and leads to divorce, reported The Associated Press July 18. Police spokesperson Ayman Batneiji said husbands often divorce women seen smoking in public but offered no evidence to support that claim. The pipes are popular with both men and women in Gaza, the article reported.
  • Five years after being accused of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls, Jeffrey Epstein was released, reported the Daily Beast July 21. Epstein, whose sentence consisted of a one-year house arrest in his house in Palm Beach, Fla., had settled with the victims, many of whom were 12-year-old girls, out of court, the article reported.
  • An advisory committee recommended that the Food and Drug Administration revoke approval of the drug Avastin, the world’s best-selling cancer drug, on the grounds that it does not help breast cancer patients, reported The New York Times July 20. Although once hailed a "miracle drug," with the ability to block the flow of blood to tumors, subsequent studies showed that Avastin was not nearly as effective as the initial data that led to the drug’s approval. Since Avastin is also available as a treatment for colon, lung, kidney and brain cancers, it will remain on the market even if the Food and Drug Administration follows the committee’s advice.


  • Cindy Hickey and Nora Shourd are campaigning for their children Sarah Shroud, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal to be freed from an Iranian jail, where they have been held without charge for nearly a year, reported The Guardian July 21. After attempting to send letters to their children and relying on the United States government to help, the families’ hope now is to embarrass the Iranians into responding, to goad them into finally charging or freeing the hikers. Events are planned in 30 cities around the world on July 31, but the focus will be outside the Iranian mission at the United Nations in New York. Women’s eNews has been closely following the story of Sarah Shroud, who submitted a story to our editors a few days before her arrest.
  • Controversy surrounds the potential nomination of Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren to run the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Boston Globe reported July 21. The bureau will be established under financial legislation that President Obama signed July 21. Some Democrats worry that Warren would face a tough confirmation fight in the Senate, prompting an uprising among Warren’s legion of supporters, reported the article. White House spokesperson Amy Brundage said that no decision on the nomination has been made but said the administration believes Warren "is confirmable," according to the article.
  • Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan won the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee July 20 in a 13-6 vote, reported The Los Angeles Times. Only Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham crossed party lines, voting in favor of the nominee. If Kagan is confirmed by the Senate, as is expected early in August, it will be the first time three female justices will sit on the High Court.
  • Spain’s Parliament rejected a proposal on July 20 to ban women from wearing in public places Islamic veils that reveal only the eyes, reported The Associated Press July 20. The vote was 183 against the ban, 162 lawmakers voted for it and two abstained. However, Justice Minister Francisco Caamano said in June the government would begin debating a ban on women wearing burkas in government buildings, including courts, ministries and employment offices, as part of the religious issues bill.
  • Syria has banned the face-covering Islamic veil, also called niqabs, from the country’s universities, reported The Associated Press July 19. An official at the Education Ministry says the ban affects public and private universities and aims to protect Syria’s secular identity. The ministry’s ban on the niqab comes as similar moves in Europe have sparked cries of discrimination against Muslims.