Double Dose: Neither Superwomen Nor Supermoms; Cigarette Taxes Inrease in NY; Screening for Domestic Abuse; The EPA, Percholate and Your Drinking Water ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — June 1, 2008

New York Governor Faces Suit Over Same-Sex Marriage Order: “An Arizona-based conservative Christian group said on Friday that it planned to sue Gov. David A. Paterson to block his directive to state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside New York,” reports The New York Times.

The group suing is the Alliance Defense Fund, which was founded by the Rev. James C. Dobson and others, all of whom are for limiting marriage to heterosexuals. The story also discusses how Senate Republican leaders plan on responding to the governor’s directive. Read our earlier post about plans in New York to recognize (but not yet allow) same-sex marriage.

The Rest of Us: In today’s Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Rebecca Steinitz describes how mothers without an army of nannies and who have not “opted out” make it through summer vacation.

[I]t’s neither superwomen nor supermoms that I see when I drop my younger daughter off at school. While the first-graders zoom around us, I strategize about summer vacation with the preschool teacher and the nurse, the freelance film producer and the nutritionist who’s currently managing her husband’s plumbing business, the law professor and the stay-at-home moms — not to mention the dads. And, tales of mommy wars notwithstanding, we’re all talking to one another.

Do I live in some anomalous corner of working motherhood? I don’t think so. Despite frequent sightings of weekday-morning stroller-pushing moms and the much-ballyhooed dip of about a percentage point in the rate of women in the workforce between 2000 and 2004, statistics show that more than two-thirds of mothers work.

The story is chock-full of good statistics. Give it a read.

Do All Women Have the Right to Become Mothers?: “In many ways, access to and the affordability of infertility treatments speaks to our society’s view of who is considered worthy of motherhood,” writes Pamela Merritt at RH Reality Check.

Decades after eugenics was debunked and fell out of favor as a movement to “improve society,” the residue lingers: there is a strongly held belief that pregnancy and income should be connected. President Reagan tapped into that sentiment with his infamous comment about a “welfare queen,” but the core belief is as old as the American Dream: people who are poor are considered lazy, deserving of poverty and undeserving of anything it takes money to buy. Low-income women who are faced with infertility and seek treatment are suspected of trying to work the system and defraud society.

Plus: On Tuesday, June 3, RH Reality Check and Americans for UNFPA will host an online forum at 1 p.m. on global women’s health and the Republican and Democratic Party platforms. “Are the World’s Women Part of Our Political Agenda?” kicks off with a video statement from Anika Rahman, Americans for UNFPA president, and the insights of Democratic and Republican activists about their parties’ treatment of women’s issues. Rahmam will monitor the comments section through 4 p.m. to follow the discussion and respond to ideas on how to prioritize women’s health internationally.

Two Kinds of End-Of-Life Care: “There are two starkly different paths toward death in New York City’s hospitals, one for patients at elite private institutions, another for those at public hospitals, according to new data compiled as part of a consumer rating system,” reports The New York Times. Anemona Hartocollis and Ford Fessenden write:

Most elderly patients in their last two years of life have more intensive treatment, more tests, more days of hospitalization — and more out-of-pocket costs — at private teaching hospitals like N.Y.U. and Lenox Hill than their counterparts at Bellevue and the city’s other municipal hospitals, which have historically served the neediest New Yorkers. […]

The rankings, compiled by Consumer Reports from a 15-year research project based at Dartmouth College, have huge implications for administrators, doctors and patients as they consider which model of care is best for those suffering from chronic, fatal illnesses like cancer, congestive heart failure, lung disease and dementia.

The study does not address the question of whether longer stays and more intervention prolong patients’ lives, and the Dartmouth researchers argue, in general, that less-aggressive treatment does not change.

Holy Smokes!: New York state on Tuesday will almost the double the tax on cigarettes — to $2.75 from $1.50, putting the price of a pack of cigarettes in New York City to around $8.50 (that also includes a $1.50 city tax).

From City Room: “It’s not clear whether the messages will have much effect on die-hard smokers, but social scientists have concluded that raising the cost of cigarettes has been a strong factor in bringing down the smoking rate. The city believes that cigarette-tax increases in 2002 helped bring about a 21 percent drop in adult smoking and a 52 percent drop in smoking among public high school students in the city.”

Plus: World No Tobacco Day was May 31. Here’s more from the World Health Organization.

Did You Have an Abortion in Iowa?: If so, and if you experienced financial barriers at any point in the process, the Emma Goldman Clinic would like to hear about your experience. The information (which can be kept anonymous) will help the clinic in their work to provide assistance to women in similar situations.

Insight and Action: The website of the International Center for Research on Women is a terrific resource for background, research and advocacy information on issues such as HIV/AIDS, poverty reduction and violence against women.

The organization also features a special section on child marriage, which includes this photo exhibit as well as this six-minute video with images taken by award-winning photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair that depict the lives of girls in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Nepal who marry as children.

Screening for Domestic Abuse: Erin Marcus, associate medical director of the Institute for Women’s Health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, writes in The New York Times about the need for better methods to screen patients for domestic abuse.

“Those who support routine questioning say domestic violence is as or more common in women than many diseases for which doctors regularly check, including breast and colon cancer, and its health risks are well documented,” notes Marcus. “Despite these recommendations, screening for domestic abuse in seemingly healthy women is nowhere near as widespread among doctors as testing for breast cancer or high cholesterol.”

Who is the EPA Protecting Again?: Here’s a story I meant to highlight earlier — an Environmental Protection Agency official told a Senate committee hearing in May that there’s “a distinct possibility” the EPA would not limit the amount of perchlorate, a toxic ingredient of solid rocket fuel, that is allowable in drinking water. Percholate is found in food crops, as well as human breast milk and baby formula. The L.A. Times has coverage of the EPA sitting on its hands:

State officials and water suppliers across the nation have been waiting for the EPA to set a standard for several years because perchlorate has contaminated the water supplies of at least 11 million people. Last
year, California, impatient with the EPA’s indecision, set its own standard.

Benjamin H. Grumbles, the EPA’s assistant administrator for water, said the EPA would decide by the end of the year whether to regulate perchlorate. Scientific studies have shown that the chemical blocks iodide and suppresses thyroid hormones, which are necessary for the normal brain development of a fetus or infant.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, is understandably ticked:

“Congress will not sit idle while EPA fails to adequately protect our children. We must step in to require action that will ensure that our children and families can turn on their taps and be assured that what comes out is safe to drink,” Boxer said.

Much of the water contamination comes from military bases and aerospace plants, as well as fireworks companies.

The Pentagon and its contractors for years have been lobbying against a federal standard, saying there are no proven health effects at levels to which people are exposed, and that cleaning up perchlorate could cost billions of dollars.

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