Double Dose: World Bank Official Accused of Ordering Removal of Family Planning References, School Ban on Anti-Gay T-Shirt Upheld and Fruity Drinks May Count as Health Food

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 21, 2007

World Bank May Target Family Planning: “Under beleaguered President Paul D. Wolfowitz, the World Bank may be scaling back its long-standing support for family planning, which many countries consider essential to women’s health and the fight against AIDS,” reports the Los Angeles Times.

“In an internal e-mail, the bank’s team leader for Madagascar indicated that one of two managing directors appointed by Wolfowitz ordered the removal of all references to family planning from a document laying out strategy for the African nation,” the story by Nicole Gaouette continues. “And a draft of the bank’s long-term health program strategy overseen by the same official makes almost no mention of family planning, suggesting a wider rollback may be underway.”

Noting that it “sounds like possible plot from a Dan Brown novel,” the Women’s Bioethics Project points to The Guardian’s coverage of the World Bank story, which notes that the World Bank’s managing director who allegedly ordered the removal is said to have links to the Roman Catholic sect Opus Dei.

International Planned Parenthood Federation has started a letter-writing campaign in response to the World Bank’s actions.

Popular Health-Insurance Plans Punish Women: “High-deductible health insurance plans favored by many employers often wind up being an unfair burden to women, a new study says, largely because women need many routine medical exams that quickly add up,” reports the Associated Press. “The median expense for men under 45 in these plans was less than $500, but for women it was more than $1,200, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers.” Loved the sub-hed: “Females charged more for having reproductive organs, Harvard study finds”

High Health Costs Hit U.S. Women Harder: “American women are more likely than men to go without needed health care, because they can’t afford it, a new report finds,” reports Health Day News. “The report was released Thursday by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation advocating for improvements to the U.S. health system, and prepared by researchers at the National Women’s Law Center.” The study is available online.

School Ban on Anti-Gay T-Shirt Upheld: “A U.S. District Court Judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of Neuqua Valley High School’s attempts to ban a student from wearing a ‘Be Happy, Not Gay’ T-shirt. The senior wanted to wear the shirt as part of a national effort this week by Christian students to publicly oppose homosexual behavior,” reports the Chicago Tribune. Alliance for Justice, the group representing the student, plans to appeal. School officials banned the same shirt last year, prompting the student’s lawsuit.

Trust Us, We’ve Noticed: Salma Hayek tells Marie Claire (via MSNBC’s Jeannette Walls): “I think it’s terrible women are put in that position. Motherhood is not for everyone — it is for me, but there’s no reason women should feel rushed to have a child … I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but society thinks if you don’t have children, you’ve failed as a woman, even if you are CEO of a company. You’ve got to be beautiful, smart, skinny, tall, rich, successful at your job, married to the right guy — and have genius children.”

Happy Sweet 16, Teen Voices!: Feministing interviews Tori Costa, marketing director of the Boston-based Teen Voices magazine, an international feminist magazine that’s kicking off its 16th birthday with its April issue.

Barbie, At Age 48, Gets Another Makeover: “Over the years, [Mattel] has tried dozens of small changes and a few big ones. There was the reduction in bust size, a gritty new urban look with a reduction in skirt length, and, of course, there was the big breakup with longtime paramour Ken,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “On April 26, the world’s largest toy maker will unveil Barbie Girls, its first big new Barbie concept in four years.”

Key Health and Health Care Indicators: Kaiser Family Foundation released a data update this week looking at disparities in infant mortality, diabetes-related mortality and AIDS cases among African Americans and Hispanics in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also provides similar breakdowns showing the percentage of each group in each state that is uninsured, enrolled in Medicaid and living in poverty.

Plus: KFF has a transcript, video and podcast of a recent discussion of of Jonathan Cohn’s new book “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis — and the People Who Pay the Price.” Participants include Cohn, Susan Dentzer, senior health correspondent of “Newshour with Jim Lehrer,” and Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the Cato Institute.

FYI: “A fruity cocktail may not only be fun to drink but may count as health food, U.S. and Thai researchers said on Thursday,” reports Reuters. “Adding ethanol — the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits — boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found. Any colored fruit might be made even more healthful with the addition of a splash of alcohol, they report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.”

The story concluded with a little humor not typically found in Reuters health news: “The study did not address whether adding a little cocktail umbrella enhanced the effects.”

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