Double Dose: A Look at Healthcare for Women Behind Bars; House-Senate Conference Committee Approves Abstinence Education Funding Increase; Majority of Those Polled Support Access to Contraceptives in Schools; Joss Whedon!!

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

From the It’s About Time Files: “The Department of Veterans Affairs is opening a treatment center exclusively for traumatized female veterans amid an unprecedented wave of reported rapes, assaults and harassment against women,” reports Newhouse News Service. “The facility, to be opened in late December in Bernards Township, N.J., will be the only residential program in the VA system devoted solely to treating women who experienced military sexual trauma.”

Death Tally in Nicaragua: “Nearly 90 women have died in Nicaragua as a direct or indirect result of the repeal, one year ago, of the legislation permitting abortion in cases of risk to the mother’s health, according to women’s and human rights groups,” reports IPS. “In practice what is happening is a government death penalty imposed on women,” said Ana María Pizarro, a gynecologist and the head of the non-governmental organization Sí Mujer.

Healthcare Behind Bars: In her new book, “Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S. Prison System,” investigative journalist Silja J.A. Talvi looks at multiple aspects of the prison system, including the neglect of women’s health. AlterNet has published an excerpt from the book, a moving account of one prisoner’s death from cervical cancer.

Clinical Trials Loop Hole: “When Congress passed a bill last month requiring makers of drugs and medical devices to disclose the results of clinical trials for all approved products, advocates of greater study disclosure applauded the move,” reports the New York Times. “But a provision that would have mandated disclosures for another group of products never made it into the final version of the bill. It would have covered products tested on patients, but dropped before marketing.”

Yes, that’s right, some patients never learn the results of the clinical studies — including patients in whom medical devices have been implanted. “Trial sponsors can still choose to keep information about some trials confidential, creating serious ethical concerns,” said Dr. Deborah A. Zarin, the director of ClinicalTrials.gov, a Web site run by the National Library of Medicine.

Just When You Think Congress is Getting Smarter About Sex Education … the Kaiser Daily Women’s Health Policy report, citing CQ Today, notes that a “House-Senate conference committee on Thursday approved a fiscal year 2008 appropriations measure that would include a $27.8 million increase in funding of abstinence education programs.”

Speaking of Kaiser … If you’ve been a subscriber to the excellent Daily Women’s Health Policy Report, you’ll have to sign up again at the National Partnership for Women and Families, which is taking over publishing the report as of Nov. 5.

Most People Support Access to Contraceptions in Schools: That’s the finding of a new AP poll (via L.A. Times). The survey of 1,004 adults found that 67 percent support giving contraceptives to students, but of that number, 37 percent would limit it to those whose parents have consented, and 30 percent would allow it for all who ask. A whopping 62 percent said they believe providing birth control reduces the number of teenage pregnancies. Which makes them smarter than Congress.

Read Research on Caesarean Births: A new study from Latin America published at BMJ.com (read abstract) found that women who have a non-emergency caesarean birth have double the risk of illness compared to a vaginal birth and five times the risk of having to have antibiotics after birth. Researchers also found caesarean delivery prevented deaths in breech born babies. The intro to a related editorial is available here.

Joss is Back: Savor this news about a new Joss Whedon TV series starring Eliza Dushku (thanks, Jaclyn!)

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