Our Bodies, Our Blog

My Mother: Nanette Therese Rawlins

By Wendy |

From 2009 – 2011, Our Bodies Ourselves honored the work of women’s health advocates worldwide by asking readers to nominate their favorite women’s health hero. View all nominees by year: 2009, 2010, 2011 Entrant: Augusta Rawlins-Rader Nominee: Nanette Therese Rawlins, My Mother Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowIt might seem odd to many of you that I choose to nominate my mother, Nanette Therese Rawlins, for a Women’s Health Heroes Award, but that is exactly what she is to me. While most parents dodge the issue of sex in relation to their children, especially in regards to young girls, and rely on school health teachers to teach their girls about their bodies, my mom never took that approach. Always honest, frank, and trusting, my mother has been a guide for my personal health for all of my life, making her a true Women’s Health Hero. When I was just a little girl, I asked the question all little girls and boys ask their parents: “ Where do babies come from?” Some parents may, in response to this, launch into stories about storks and cabbage patches, and some may whip out … More

Double Dose: The VBAC-lash; Agreement on Health Care Reform?; Teen Sexual Harassment in the Workplace; Bye Bye Go-Daddy …

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Searching for Common Ground: Robert Pear of The New York Times reports on an apparent consensus emerging among key players in the health care debate: Many of the parties, from big insurance companies to lobbyists for consumers, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, are embracing the idea that comprehensive health care legislation should include a requirement that every American carry insurance. While not all industry groups are in complete agreement, there is enough of a consensus, according to people who have attended the meetings, that they have begun to tackle the next steps: how to enforce the requirement for everyone to have health insurance; how to make insurance affordable to the uninsured; and whether to require employers to help buy coverage for their employees. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowHealth Care “Reform” is Not Enough: “Most current health care reform initiatives, including those of Barack Obama, focus on providing wider access to health insurance. They do little to address the underlying problems with our health care system,” writes Susan Yanow in On The Issues magazine. Yanow identifies the top five problem areas for women with our insurance-driven health system. Plus: … More

The Surgeon General and the Sex Talk

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

In last week’s Double Dose we referenced discussions concerning President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta as U.S. surgeon general. I missed including Kay Steiger’s piece at RH Reality Check, “But Can He Talk About Sex?“, which plumbs where Gupta stands on reproductive health issues. Steiger looked at episode transcripts and found that the country’s most famous surgeon has largely avoided the issue on his popular CNN program “House Call With Dr. Sanjay Gupta“: Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowIn a 2004 special on the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic, Gupta discussed “prevention” abstractly without ever mentioning condoms or even sex. In another episode on the spread of HIV a few months later, he quotes an HIV-positive man, Peter Staley, saying, “You can’t stop the spread of HIV unless you talk about sex.” But Gupta’s show doesn’t talk about sex. Instead, it cuts to an interview with former basketball star Magic Johnson. But the show’s ability to deal with HIV/AIDS improves over the years, and in 2007 “House Call” addressed the problems of transactional sex in African countries that presents challenges to stopping the spread of HIV. … More

Women’s Health, Immigrant Rights, and Reproductive Justice Organizations Write the CDC to Oppose HPV Vaccination Requirement

By Rachel Walden |

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is coordinating the creation of a letter to the CDC opposing the newly-imposed requirement that female immigrants ages 11 to 26, seeking permanent residence or entry to the U.S. be immunized against the human papillomavirus (HPV). We’ve written about this issue in the past, noting that the CDC has indicated that they did not intend for this vaccine to be required for legal status, and the National Women’s Health Network’s action alert requesting calls to your Senators and Representatives asking for the removal of the vaccine from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements. The NAPAWF letter asks that the CDC reexamine and “modify its current system of adding new vaccination requirements for immigrants to prevent future unintended additions to the list of mandatory vaccinations and undue burdens on immigrants.” Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowIt also outlines several of concerns about the vaccine requirement, including the lack of a sufficient threat to public health, the lack of requirement that U.S. citizens receive the vaccine series, and the high cost which creates a financial barrier for immigrant women. Finally, the … More

Call for Action on HPV Vaccines for Immigrant Women

By Rachel Walden |

Last month, I wrote about the new requirement that immigrants seeking permanent legal status in the United States receive the HPV vaccine (along with other required vaccines). Briefly, my concerns about this change included “the lack of an opt-out provision (in contrast to requirements for U.S. citizens), the expense of the series, the lack of significant public health risk posed by omitting this vaccine, and the vulnerability of the affected population.” See the original post for more details and links to further commentary. On Tuesday, the National Women’s Health Network issued a call for people concerned about this issue to contact their Senators and Representatives to request that they support “removing the HPV vaccine from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements for the adjustment of status” and suggesting a core message that “I, along with the National Women’s Health Network, support providing women with all possible tools to prevent cervical cancer but strongly oppose the USCIS HPV vaccine mandate.” Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowThe organization explains: “Based on the research made public to date the HPV vaccines appear to be highly effective and very safe. While … More

CDC Denies Intent to Force HPV Vaccination of Immigrants

By Rachel Walden |

A number of bloggers have written over the past month about a new requirement that immigrants seeking permanent legal status in the United States must receive the HPV vaccine. The requirement is troublesome for a number of reasons, including the lack of an opt-out provision (in contrast to requirements for U.S. citizens), the expense of the series, the lack of significant public health risk posed by omitting this vaccine, and the vulnerability of the affected population. This requirement originates in the CDC’s vaccination recommendations, which become mandatory for those seeking legal residency. These vaccines are typically for readily infectious diseases such as meningitis, polio, hepatitis, and measles. When the CDC adopted the HPV vaccine (currently only the Gardasil brand shot is available) into its recommendations, that triggered their requirement for immigrants. Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece on the controversy generated by this requirement, and noted that the CDC claims it never really intended the effect on immigrant populations. According to the piece: Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act Now“A CDC spokesman said the experts on the immunization committee didn’t realize their decision would affect tens of thousands … More

The Best and Worst Moments in Women’s Health: What’s Your Take?

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

The publication of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” made Health magazine’s list of best and worst moments in women’s health — as one of the best moments, of course. Here’s what Stephanie Dolgoff wrote: Women finally get straight talk about their bodies Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowIf you need to know something about your body, what do you do? Look it up, of course. But before 1970 there weren’t any good resources. That year a group of Boston women published a stapled-together booklet — the precursor to Our Bodies, Ourselves — and fueled the burgeoning idea that women should be full participants in their medical care. Three years later, the radical publication (which discussed such issues as sexuality and birth control) was beefed up and released by Simon & Schuster. It’s now in its eighth edition. Very cool. Other standouts: After realizing that what works for white men doesn’t necessarily work for the rest of us, the National Institutes of Health in 1993 started including more women and minorities in clinical trials. And tubal litigation is now a real option. Dolgoff describes when it wasn’t: Until 1969, a woman couldn’t … More

Double Dose: Concerns Over HPV Vaccines; HHS’ Latest Contraception/Conscience Proposal; The Future of Personalized Medicine; Spinach With a Side of Radiation; WALL*E, a Lesbian Love Story …

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Flesh-Eating Fish Perform “Pedicures”: See what shows up in my in-box from NPR? Drug Makers’ Push Leads to Cancer Vaccines’ Rise: “In two years, cervical cancer has gone from obscure killer confined mostly to poor nations to the West’s disease of the moment,” begins this lengthy New York Times story by Elisabeth Rosenthal about concerns over the rapid rollout of vaccines against HPV, which have now been used by tens of millions of girls and young women in the United States and Europe. Some of the issues raised: Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act NowMerck’s vaccine was studied in clinical trials for five years, and Glaxo’s for nearly six and a half, so it is not clear how long the protection will last. Some data from the clinical trials indicate immune molecules may wane after three to five years. If a 12-year-old is vaccinated, will she still be protected in college, when her risk of infection is higher? Or will a booster vaccine be necessary? Some experts are concerned about possible side effects that become apparent only after a vaccine has been more widely tested over longer periods. And why … More

Double Dose: Planned Parenthood Expands Reach; Pack Journalism in Search of a Pregnancy “Pact” in Gloucester; Teen Pregnancies at 30-Year Low; Mandating Insurance Coverage for Anorexia; Will Women Give Hormone Maker a Second Chance? …

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Planned Parenthood Expands its Reach: “Flush with cash, Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide are aggressively expanding their reach, seeking to woo more affluent patients with a network of suburban clinics and huge new health centers that project a decidedly upscale image,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately the full story is available to subscribers only, but the WSJ health blog has a summary that includes these remarks: Despite some critiques to the contrary, Planned Parenthood insists it’s not compromising is long-held focus on serving the poor with birth control, sexual-health care and abortions. Officials there say they take a loss of nearly $1 on each packet of birth-control pills distributed to poor women under a federal program that funds reproductive care. But they make a profit of nearly $22 on each month of pills sold to an adult who can afford to pay full price. That money helps subsidize other operations, including care for the poor as well as pursuing Planned Parenthood’s political agenda. Like what you’re reading? Our Bodies Ourselves needs your support to continue providing trusted health info!Act Now“It is high time we follow the population,” said Sarah Stoesz, who heads Planned Parenthood operations in three Midwest states. She … More

Double Dose: BCA Blasts Approval of Avastin; Short Maternity Leave for Women in the Military; Do Cellphones Affect Male Fertility?; More on Migraines; Debating “Juno”

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

Score One for the Patient: A breast cancer patient whose medical coverage was canceled by her insurer was awarded more than $9 million from her for-profit insurer, Health Net Inc., reports the L.A. Times. “The award issued by an arbitration judge was the first of its kind and prompted Health Net to announce it was scrapping its cancellation practices that are under fire from state regulators, patients and the Los Angeles city attorney.” BCA Blasts Approval of Avastin: In a surprise move, the FDA approved the use of Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer. “The big question was whether it was enough for a drug temporarily to stop cancer from worsening — as Avastin had done in a clinical trial — or was it necessary for a drug to enable patients to live longer, which Avastin had failed to do. Oncologists and patient advocates were divided, in part because of the drug’s sometimes severe side effects,” writes Andrew Pollack. “In the end, the agency found a compromise of sorts. It gave Avastin ‘accelerated’ approval, which allows drugs for life-threatening diseases to reach the market on the basis of less than ideal data, subject to further study.” Like what you’re … More