Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin issued a "Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding" on Jan. 20, in a live press conference Webcast from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The initiative outlines steps that can be taken to remove some of the obstacles faced by mothers across the nation who want to breastfeed their babies. Steps include the need for improved support and peer counseling programs; information and counseling through health care systems; clinical training on breastfeeding and expanded programs that allow mothers to have their babies close by during work hours; more paid maternity leave; and expanded lactation support programs from employers.

While 75 percent of U.S. babies start out breastfeeding, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2010 that only 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at the end of six months. The rates are particularly low among African American infants. Women’s eNews 21 Leader 2010 Tonya Lewis Lee was on hand to testify on the importance of breastfeeding, especially for women of color.

A study published last year in the journal Pediatrics estimated that the nation would save $13 billion per year in health care and other costs if 90 percent of U.S. babies were exclusively breastfed for six months.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • New federal regulations passed Jan. 18 allow patients to decide who has visitation rights and can make medical decisions, regardless of the visitor’s sexual orientation or gender identity, ABC News reported Jan. 19.
  • British lawmaker Keith Vaz called for an overhaul of a 300-year-old procedure on crown succession, which many call antiquated and sexist, The Associated Press reported Jan. 18. The law gives sons an automatic preference over older female siblings to succeed to the British throne.
  • Chef and restaurateur Alain Ducasse has decided to put 15 women through a professional cooking class and rigorous work shifts at one of his restaurants near Paris, The New York Times reported Jan. 17.




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The Washington, D.C.-based National Women’s Law Center announced the release of two reports on Jan. 20, indicating that certain religiously-affiliated hospitals in the United States put women’s health and lives at risk. These institutions restricted their doctors’ abilities to provide the best medical care to pregnant women experiencing miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

The releases went hand in hand with the center’s filing of a complaint with the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services urging immediate action to ensure that laws designed to protect patients’ health are properly applied and enforced.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • Kansas’ House of Representatives introduced legislation on Jan. 19 that would impose new restrictions on abortion, The Huffington Post reported, including parental consent–in some cases, that of two parents–for teens seeking an abortion.
  • The House of Representatives voted 245 to 189 in favor of the Patients’ Rights Repeal Act on Jan. 19 reported Ms. Magazine. Should the measure become law it may have particularly negative consequences for women. The bill is unlikely to come up for a vote in the Senate, however, which has a Democratic majority.
  • Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin of the Russian Orthodox Church suggested a dress code for women that includes more conservative and modest clothing, reported the New York Times Jan 18. Chaplin said women who dress provocatively are welcoming attention from men.
  • Police Officer Shamshad Begum in Pakistan was shot and killed Jan. 14, reported the New York Times, after she received threats from the Taliban. The attack on Begum and her family appeared to be the first in Pakistan to have singled out a female police officer.
  • The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found Rabbi Israel Weingarten not guilty Jan. 18 of one of the five counts he was convicted of in 2009 when he was tried in Brooklyn, N.Y., for molesting and raping his daughter throughout her childhood. This ruling could reduce his sentence by 10 years, reported the Journal News.


  • Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is under investigation for having a Moroccan dancer at his house for a "wild sexfest" party when she was under age, reported Fox News Jan. 21.
  • In a recent interview with The Christian News Service, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum argued that because of his race, President Obama should be able to say definitively that the life of unborn children is protected under the Constitution, NBC reported Jan. 20.
  • Abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia has been charged with eight counts of murder, including one patient and seven infants that were delivered and then killed with scissors, reported the Associated Press Jan. 18.
  • Iranian officials said Jan. 17 that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani convicted of adultery and sentenced to stoning may now face only a prison sentence for acting as an accessory to the murder of her husband, The New York Times reported Jan. 17.

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