Double Dose: Debate Over Domestic Gag Rule; Same-Sex Marriage Update in California; FDA Warning to Nursing Mothers; Legal Rights of the Uninsured ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — May 24, 2008

Bush Ally Orr Leaves Just as Domestic Gag Rule Is Reconsidered: RH Reality Check has good coverage of the surprise resignation of Dr. Susan Orr, the assistant deputy secretary for population affairs. Orr previously worked for the Family Research Council — one of several conservative groups now pressuring President Bush to cut Title X family planning funding for clinics who also provide abortion services.

“Her most notable accomplishment in the year she has served is to defend the abstinence-until-marriage approach in the face of incontrovertible evidence it has failed,” writes Cristina Page. “Now that the Unplanned Family Research Council is within days of hitting another nail into Title X’s coffin, Dr. Orr suddenly and quietly resigns from her post so, one suspects, to not appear to have orchestrated the undermining of her own program from within.”

Read related posts by Amie Newman and Emily Douglas, and here’s more on the domestic gag rule by Marilyn Keefe of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Plus: The Hill reports on how a group of centrist House Republicans are squaring off with GOP conservatives over modifying Title X regulations.

Domestic Partners Can Wed Without Dissolution: “Same-sex couples who are registered as domestic partners do not have to dissolve that union before getting married, attorneys that advise the state Legislature said Thursday, just as county clerks and other local officials met to determine how they will enact last week’s historic state Supreme Court ruling,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Of course, there’s still the possibility of voters this November approving a constitutional amendment to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples. State Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco warned that in light of future uncertainty, couples should not dissolve their domestic partnerships until that question is settled.

“It would be foolhardy to dissolve because it would create a period of vulnerability” for couples, Migden said.

For answers to more questions on the legality and logistics of same-sex marriage in California, check out this special news section.

FDA Warns Mothers About Nipple Cream: The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to nursing mothers on Friday not to use or purchase Mommy’s Bliss Nipple Cream, marketed by MOM Enterprises Inc. of San Rafael, Calif., The product label says there’s no need to remove the cream before nursing, but it contains ingredients that may cause respiratory distress, vomiting and diarrhea in infants. Whoa.

The potentially harmful ingredients in the cream are chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol. From the FDA release:

“Chlorphenesin relaxes skeletal muscle and can depress the central nervous system and cause respiratory depression (slow or shallow breathing) in infants. Phenoxyethanol is a preservative that is primarily used in cosmetics and medications. It also can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration in infants.”

“FDA is particularly concerned that nursing infants are being unwittingly exposed by their mothers to this product with dangerous side effects,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Additionally, these two ingredients may interact with one another to further compound and increase the risk of respiratory depression in nursing infants.”

The FDA said it has not received any reports of injury to infants. The company has stopped selling the cream.

Chemicals in Nail Salons Affect Workers: A new survey from the Northern California Cancer Center and Asian Health Services of Oakland has found that Vietnamese nail salon workers suffer from acute health effects associated with the chemicals they use in that work, according to this release. Toxic and potentially hazardous ingredients, including solvents, plasticizers, resins and acids, are commonly found in nail care products.

“A majority of the workers reported health concerns from exposures to workplace chemicals,” reports Dung Nguyen of Asian Health Services who directed the face-to-face interviews with 201 Vietnamese nail salon workers at 74 salons. “Many of them reported having some health problem after they began working in the industry, particularly skin and eye irritation, breathing difficulties and headaches.” said Nguyen.

“Our findings highlight a critical need for further investigation into the breast cancer risk of nail salon workers, underscored by the workers’ routine use of carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, their prevalent health concerns about such chemicals, and their high level of acute health problems,” adds Thu Quach, MPH, of the Northern California Cancer Center.

The study was published online and is scheduled to appear in the October issue of Journal of Community Health.

New Safety Program to Monitor Medicare Drug Use: “Federal health officials will begin monitoring prescription drug usage by millions of Medicare participants in an effort to identify potential safety problems,” reports the Associated Press. Kevin Freking writes:

The Food and Drug Administration has been under increasing pressure to develop a comprehensive drug surveillance system since the painkiller Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004 after it was linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

New regulations announced Thursday by the Health and Human Services Department will enable the FDA, states and academic researchers to screen the Medicare claims data. Under the regulation, the Medicare data can be made available in 30 days.

My favorite quote from the story: “The era of wait and see is going to become the era of tell me right now,” the FDA commissioner, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, said.

At first glance it sounds great. But then you read that only general details about the cost of enacting this new “Sentinel Initiative” were provided and, as Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said, it’s still in the planing states. Our verdict: We’ll wait and see.

Legal Rights of the Uninsured: The Chicago Tribune blog Triage, written by Judith Graham, covers issues related to the health-care industry. Here’s an interesting post on the legal rights of the uninsured — which in Illinois refers to 1.75 million people, almost 60 percent of whom are employed. For starters:

There is no such thing as a “right to care” for people who don’t have health insurance, with one major exception.

If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, you can go to any hospitals and get treatment. Hospitals are enjoined from turning you away under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), a federal act passed by Congress in 1986.

Plus: For up-to-date statistics and analysis of health care coverage and the uninsured, visit this section of the Kaiser Family Foundation. And check out the new Kaiser Fast Facts.

My Veggie Hero: Meet Johanna McCloy, who is taking on one ballpark at a time, trying to get vegetarian hot dogs added to the menu so all baseball fans can experience the joy of filling a bun with sauerkraut and mustard (ketchup? yeah, right). Check out her site, And go Cubs!

3 responses to “Double Dose: Debate Over Domestic Gag Rule; Same-Sex Marriage Update in California; FDA Warning to Nursing Mothers; Legal Rights of the Uninsured …”

  1. As a vegetarian, I never felt the need or desire to eat meat substitutes. Besides, soy is not healthy in that form. Only Tempeh and Miso are healthy forms of soy.

  2. 100% lanolin is the way to go when it comes to treating cracked, sore nipples. Two brands that are 100%: Purelan made by Medela and Lanisoh (I’ve used lanisoh and it’s very effective). Lanolin is natural and non-toxic.

  3. Margie, I usually don’t have the urge either, but there’s something about being at a game and wanting a hot dog (my grandfather was a hot dog vendor at Yankee Stadium, so it might be genetic).

    I’ve been at ballparks and have had trouble finding anything but a pretzel to eat, so I appreciate the vegetarian option, though I agree it’s not the healthiest soy. A veggie-based dog would be better and tastier, IMHO.

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