Double Dose: The Gay Presidential Debate; Reproductive Health and Pop Culture; Doctors Deal with Fear of Federal Abortion Ban

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 12, 2007

Lethal Injections Offer Legal Shield, But Doctors Debate Safety: “In response to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, many abortion providers in Boston and around the country have adopted a defensive tactic. To avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus, they are injecting fetuses with lethal drugs before procedures,” writes Carey Goldberg at the Boston Globe. “That clinical shift in late-term abortions goes deeply against the grain, some doctors say: It poses a slight risk to the woman and offers her no medical benefit.”

Another side-effect of the decision is the impact on medical education. Dr. Mark Nichols, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University, told the Boston Globe there is great concern among faculty and staff that anyone watching a late-term abortion could potentially misinterpret the procedure and file a criminal complaint. Medical and nursing students, therefore, are no longer invited to watch. The federal ban, writes Goldberg, “is broadly written, does not specify an age for the fetus, and carries a two-year prison sentence.”

Plus: Read Adam Liptak’s column (TimesSelect) about a South Dakota law that quite simply puts the government’s words in a doctor’s mouth. “South Dakota’s solution — to mandate a set of disclosures — stops short of Justice Kennedy’s, which was to uphold a ban on an abortion procedure on the apparent theory that women cannot sort things out for themselves even with full information,” writes Liptak. “But there is, according to the federal courts that have so far blocked the South Dakota law, a constitutional flaw in how the state seeks to go about informing women of its views. The problem with the law, the courts said, is that it would hijack the doctor-patient relationship.”

The Gay Presidential Debate: E.J. Graff has the scoop on how the answers provided by the Democratic presidential candidates who attended the LOGO/Human Rights Campaign debate went over with viewers at the predominantly gay Club Cafe in Boston.

Reproductive Health Pop Culture Sampler: RH Reality Check has put together another good collection of posts, this time looking at the treatment of reproductive health in books, television and film. Check out Andi Zeisler’s reflection on “The Book of Phoebe,” a young adult novel by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith; Joanna Lipper shares the story of how she made a documentary about teenage moms; and Andrea Lynch offers praise for “Sex and the City” and lists the “Top Ten Movies that Deal Honestly with Abortion, Unintended Pregnancy, Sex Ed, and Related Issues.”

Editorial on the Failure of Abstinence Ed: “Congress has spent $1.5 billion in the last 10 years on programs that deliver a single message: Abstain from sex until you marry. That’s a good message for young people about how to stay healthy and safe. Taken alone, though, it doesn’t appear to be a terribly effective message,” begins this Chicago Tribune editorial.

Mo’Nique’s Real Appeal: “Now, after making her way from loud-mouthed, often profane stand-up comedian who embraced the subjects of sex and her size to playing Nikki Parker on the UPN show “The Parkers” from 1999 to 2004, Mo’Nique Imes Hicks presides over a small but growing empire,” reports The New York Times. “Like Oprah Winfrey, Mo’Nique positions herself as an Everywoman, trying to inspire women through her example. She believes fat women need to exercise and stay healthy (as she does), implores black women to embrace psychotherapy as needed (as she did) and asks those moaning about their weight to figure out what is going on in their heads so they can take control of their lives (as she has).”

The Numbers Aren’t Great, But It’s Progress: “According to preliminary figures, 87 women are entering a freshman class of 206 students in September. That 37% share is Caltech’s highest since it began admitting undergraduate women in 1970, when pioneering females comprised 14% of the entering class. (Female doctoral candidates first arrived in the 1950s.),” according to the L.A. Times. Also read Samhita’s post on a Computer World article about the experiences of four successful women in the IT profession.

Growth of Prostitution in China: “No longer limited to well-known bars or a growing number of karaoke parlors, prostitutes are everywhere in China today, branching out onto college campuses, moving into private residential compounds and approaching customers on mobile phone networks,” reports the Washington Post. “There was no open prostitution 25 years ago,” said Jing Jun, a sociology and AIDS policy professor at Tsinghua University. “Among government officials, Chinese social scientists, health professionals, they are coming around to see that prostitution is not fundamentally connected to a lack of values but a lack of jobs, choices, opportunities and education.”

Abortion Legalized in Portugal: Until last month, abortion was not only illegal in Portugal, but women who had abortions could be criminally prosecuted, along with their doctors. Now abortion is available without restriction up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, but women may still have trouble finding someone to perform the procedure, reports the L.A. Times. “Even with the law, numerous doctors are refusing to perform the procedure and are declaring themselves ‘conscientious objectors.’ Several public hospitals said they would not be able to offer abortions, despite the legal obligation to do so, because they lacked the doctors or necessary equipment.”

2 responses to “Double Dose: The Gay Presidential Debate; Reproductive Health and Pop Culture; Doctors Deal with Fear of Federal Abortion Ban”

  1. The top ten movie list is great, but she left off “If These Walls Could Talk.” It is one of the best movies dealing with abortion.

  2. While Lynch’s praise of a particular episode of Sex and the City may be warranted (I’ve never seen that episode), I really have difficulty with the suggestion that the show conveys positive, feminist messages. Perhaps I’m biased by a certain appalling episode about politics that I saw, in which three of the main characters were practically glorified for not being registered to vote, and not having any interest in politics. I’ve always been glad that the show ended before my little sister was old enough to be exposed to it, because I couldn’t imagine a set of worse, more unrealistic female role models for her.

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