Double Dose: Iowa to Allow Same-Sex Marriage; Mammogram Benefits Under Debate; The Search for a Kidney Donor; Women and the High(er) Cost of Health Insurance ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 6, 2009

I was away last week, so no Political Diagnosis, but it’ll be back to business on Monday …

Court Strikes Down Iowa Law Banning Same-Sex Marriage: The unanimous state Supreme Court decision means same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in Iowa by the end of the month — and the doors will be open to couples from other states. The decision seems pretty solid for now. Unlike California, voters in Iowa cannot directly initiate constitutional amendments. Instead, an amendment would have to be taken up by the state Legislature, and Democrats, who control both chambers, show no interest in making it a priority.

Here’s the Supreme Court summary and the full decision (both pdf).

Mammogram Benefits Under Debate: “The conventional wisdom about breast cancer screening is coming under sharp attack in Britain, and health officials there are taking notice,” writes Roni Caryn Rabin in The New York Times. “They have promised to rewrite informational fliers about mammography after advocates and experts complained in a letter to The Times of London that none of the handouts ‘comes close to telling the truth’ — overstating the benefits of screening and leaving out critical information about the harms.”

Do People Who Support “Traditional Values” Value Pregnant Women?: Lynn Paltrow writes at Huffington Post —  “I have to thank Andrea Lafferty, of the Traditional Values Coalition for her response to a piece I wrote opposing Personhood USA’s efforts to give full constitutional rights to the unborn from the moment of fertilization. In her commentary she hopes to discredit my organization, National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) by exposing our commitment to all pregnant women, including those who love their children but are unable to overcome a drug problem in the short term of pregnancy …”

The Search for a Donor: Frances Kissling, the former president of Catholics for a Free Choice and a visiting scholar at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, will soon need a kidney. This is her story about learning how to ask.

Birth Centers Advocacy Update: As we previously mentioned, American Association of Birth Centers was looking for 100 physicians to sign a letter in support of legislation to mandate the facility fee in Medicaid. There are 102 signatures so far and counting

Women Pay Higher Price For Health Insurance: NPR reporter Sarah Varney writes about a past experience seeking health insurance (a completely frustrating process) and the higher insurance rates women pay in some states. The piece concludes with some important news for workers laid off after Sept. 1, 2008:

If you had employer-sponsored health insurance and qualified for COBRA coverage, under the new stimulus bill, the federal government will pay 65 percent of your premium for up to nine months.

And that even includes laid-off workers who initially turned down COBRA coverage because they thought it was too expensive. They now have a second chance to sign up.

Plus: Also from NPR — the hidden costs of cancer treatment, even with insurance. And The New York Times offers tips for people with pre-existing conditions, whether you’re currently covered or shopping for insurance.

Congress Approves Budget: The House and Senate approved budget blueprints on Thursday that include funding for expansion of health care coverage; now the hard work begins in conference committee.

America Going Quiet on HIV/AIDS: A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that the percentage of people in the United States who say that they have seen, heard or read a lot about HIV/AIDS in the United States has fallen from 34 percent five years ago to just 14 percent today. The percentage of African Americans reporting this has fallen from 62 percent to 33 percent.

Global Women & Health Salon: President Obama this year has signed executive orders eliminating the “Global Gag Rule” and restoring U.S. funding for the United Nations Population Fund. “Now that [these two goals] have been met what else should the Obama administration do to promote the health and welfare of women worldwide?” asks Mark Goldberg, in the kick-off post for the After the Gag Rule Salon sponsored by RH Reality Check and UN Dispatch.

Afghan Law Criticized: UN and Western aid agencies are urging Afghan President to repeal a law he signed last month that reverses freedoms won by Afghan women, reports BBC News. Human rights activists say the law legalizes rape within marriage, and women will need permission from their husbands to leave their homes.

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