Our Bodies, Our Blog

Paging Dr. Paul: Medicaid Coverage for Births and Family Planning Services is Essential

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

by Cory L. Richards | Guttmacher Institute

Rand Paul, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, caused a stir last week when he argued that too many births in Kentucky are paid for by Medicaid, the joint federal-state insurance program for low-income Americans.

According to Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Medicaid pays for about half of the state’s 57,000 annual births. Paul is quoted by the Associated Press as saying that “Half of the people in Kentucky are not poor. We’ve made it … Read

National Midwifery Week, October 3-9

By Rachel Walden |

This week is National Midwifery Week, in which organizations and individuals promote midwifery and try to raise awareness about midwifery services.

The American College of Nurse-Midwives provides a list of things you can do to celebrate National Midwifery Week. My favorite suggestion, given my librarian bias: “Request your local librarian to create a special display of available books about the women’s health, childbirth, midwifery, and literature inspired by or mentioning midwives.” Nebraska Friends of Midwives has some great tips for working with libraries on … Read

A Letter to “Time” on Home Birth

By Rachel Walden |

Last month, Time magazine published an article, American Women: Birthing Babies at Home, which covered the small but increasing number of women choosing home birth, the legal status for providers, safety issues, and the debate over home birth in general. It included commentary on the Wax meta-analysis, summarizing the controversy thusly:

The authors of the paper, which consists of a review of 12 previous studies, acknowledged significant benefits associated with home birth: fewer maternal interventions, including epidurals, episiotomies and C-sections; and fewer cases of premature … Read

Gov. Schwarzenegger Vetoes Anti-Shackling Bill

By Rachel Walden |

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed AB 1900, a bill requiring the Corrections Standards Authority to develop standards on the shackling of pregnant women, and to prohibit pregnant inmates from being shackled by the wrists or ankles during transport, labor and delivery, and recovery, unless deemed necessary for safety.

The veto is somewhat surprising, because the bill was approved unanimously every time it came up for a vote in the state Senate and Assembly.

The Governor argued in his veto … Read

New Report on Progress and Gaps in Women’s Health Research

By Rachel Walden |

The Institute of Medicine has published a new report, Women’s Health Research: Progress, Pitfalls, and Promise, which discusses conditions on which women’s health research has contributed to major progress (e.g. breast and cervical cancer), and areas of research in which less progress has been made to date (e.g., unintended pregnancy, maternal morbidity and mortality, lung cancer). The authors also examine issues such as whether the most appropriate research methods are being used to study women’s health, whether the findings from research are making … Read

NLIRH Explores Barriers to Abortion for Latinas

By Rachel Walden |

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health released a new report, Latina Immigrant Women’s Access To Abortion: Insights from Interviews with Latina Grasstops Leaders, a qualitative report describing comments from community activists in Texas, Minnesota and New York. The report includes comments on topics including immigrant youth, access to information and referrals, and program funding.

NLIRH describes the following findings in their press release:

  • Far from the stereotype of Latinas being anti-choice, these Latina community health leaders said that Latina immigrants wanted information and in some cases … Read

Quick Hit: Amnesty International Unveils Maternal Death Clock

By Rachel Walden |

From Amnesty International:

Beginning September 20 at 9 a.m. EST, the start of the Millennium Development Goals Summit, the Maternal Death Clock began to tick – keeping track of the total number of maternal deaths in the world.

September 20-22 world leaders are gathering in New York to chart a course forward on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the framework that will guide the fight against global poverty through 2015.

The one goal aimed at decreasing maternal deaths has fallen far short of where it needs … Read

Quick Hit: WHO Releases New Report on Worldwide Maternal Deaths

By Rachel Walden |

The World Health Organization, with UNICEF, UNFPA and The World Bank, has released a new report on trends in global maternal mortality from 1990-2008. I haven’t read the full report yet, but according to the press release, “the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased by 34% from an estimated 546,000 in 1990 to 358,000 in 2008.”

Although this is great progress, the release points out that read work needs to be done:

The progress is notable, … Read

CDC Releases Breastfeeding Report Card: Initiation is Up, but Continuation is Stagnant

By Rachel Walden |

The CDC released a new breastfeeding report card [PDF] yesterday, reporting that 3 out of 4 new mothers in the now U.S. start out breastfeeding, meeting the Healthy People 2010 national objective for breastfeeding initiation for the first time.

However, rates of breastfeeding at other time points remain lower than the HP2010 objectives and have been stagnant for the past three years.  The target rates are 50% at 6 months (currently 43%), 25% at 12 months (now 22.4%), 40% exclusively breastfed through 3 months … Read

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rachel Walden |

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of attending a talk by Rebecca Skloot, author of recently published book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Henrietta Lacks was a poor, Black woman whose cervical cancer cells were taken in the course of her treatment for cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins in the 1950s. Her cells were the first “immortal” cells — cells kept alive in culture – and went on to be widely used in medical research.

Henrietta’s cells were used in the development … Read