Why young women are going off the pill and on to contraception voodoo

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/29/young-women-going-off-pill-contraception-birth-control

Many twentysomethings are resentful of their birth control options, and so are choosing to use nothing at all

The Guardian, Tuesday 29 October 2013

I have a twentysomething friend in the US who, for purposes of preserving our friendship, I’ll call Mary. As Mary is a human being, she likes to have sex. One thing Mary does not like, however, is contraception. Being on the pill made her “crazy”; getting an IUD felt, she says evocatively, “like having a hair caught in my throat”; and condoms “just don’t feel good. We all know that.” So for the past dozen years (“at least”) Mary has been using an alternative method: she hasn’t been using any contraception at all.

Instead, she has worked out a formula that she calls “amazing” and I call “voodoo”. It involves a combination of relying on various smartphone apps with names like Period Tracker and relying on the guy she is sleeping with (she is not in a long-term relationship) to “behave” – in other words, pull out in the nick of time. That she has not become pregnant since switching to her voodoo system proves, she says, that it works, “although there have been a few plan B [morning-after pill] moments”. Mary is not crazy. She is not even stupid. In fact, she is increasingly typical of her generation.

According to a report from the Guttmacher Institute, more than half of the unintended pregnancies in the US occur among the 10.7% of women who use no contraceptive method at all (and no, downloading Period Tracker does not count as a contraceptive method). This finding comes only a few months after a study carried out by the amazingly named Dr Annie Dude at Duke University. Dr Dude’s findings revealed that 31% of young women in America aged between 15 and 24 had relied on the pull-out method at least once. Unsurprisingly, these women were 7.5% more likely to rely on emergency contraception than others and, even less surprisingly, of those who relied on the pull-out method, 21% had become pregnant. Apparently, these women had never heard the old joke: you know what you call a couple who use the rhythm and pull-out methods? Parents.

When researchers from the Guttmacher Institute asked the women who accidentally became pregnant why they eschewed contraception, answers ranged from the self-deluding (“a perceived invulnerability to pregnancy”) to the predictable (“lack of thought or preparation”, dislike of contraceptive methods) to the absolutely infuriating (“male partner’s objections and fear that pregnancy prevention is an indication of infidelity”).

Another factor I have noticed is that some young women resent having to shoulder the responsibility for contraception. Why, these women ask, and not unreasonably, are they the ones who have to take a hormonal pill every day, or have something stuck up inside them? Let the guy deal with it from now on! It’s a remarkable turnaround since the 1960s and 70s when second-wave feminists argued that a woman’s control over her fertility was a necessary power. Margaret Sanger, before she founded Planned Parenthood in America, wrote in 1920 that a woman who relies on a man for birth control is “exploited, driven and enslaved to his desires”. Some young women today disagree and see having the control as a burdensome, irritatingly one-sided responsibility. One aspect that has undoubtedly played a considerable part in this shift is that many women have experienced negative side-effects from the pill, from making them feel – as Mary says – “crazy” to a loss of libido to a fear of blood clotting.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/29/young-women-going-off-pill-contraception-birth-control

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Behind the right’s crazy crusade to make women pay more for health insurance

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/11/05/behind_the_right%E2%80%99s_crazy_crusade_to_make_women_pay_more_for_health_insurance/

Equalizing premiums for men and women is common sense — unless you’re opposed to women’s freedom

Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013

In a sane world, when Rep. Renee Ellmers asked rhetorically last week “Has a man ever delivered a baby?” she would have been arguing not against, but for the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that men and women pay the same insurance premiums. After all, the special physical burdens borne solely by women to ensure the life and health of the next generation obviously benefit both genders, right? Healthy men today can thank their mothers for eating well and getting good prenatal care; likewise fathers are grateful to the mothers of their children for the same. (Michael Hiltzik runs down the case for sharing those costs publicly here.)

But no, Ellmers asked that question of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in order to rail against the ACA’s equal premium requirement. She thought it was a clever “gotcha” moment, designed to show the craziness of requiring all insurance policies to cover maternity care and contraception without a co-pay. (The doofuses at Breitbart agreed, declaring “Ellmers brings her A game.”) Amazingly, Ellmers chairs the House GOP’s “women’s policy committee” – so how could she be so tone-deaf in attacking the way the ACA helps that increasingly elusive GOP constituency, female voters?

Because the right-wing base of the modern Republican Party is dedicated to restoring men as the head of the household, and the nuclear, husband-headed family as the principle social unit. From Rick Santorum railing against contraception and preaching the nuclear family as the answer to poverty in last year’s GOP presidential primary, to Rafael Cruz Sr. telling an audience that “God commands us men to teach your wife, to teach your children—to be the spiritual leader of your family,” today’s right-wing Republicans are increasingly comfortable with open displays of old-time crackpot patriarchy. This week Sen. Ted Cruz Jr. courts the right-wing preachers of the South Carolina Renewal Project, which is thought to be a key stop on his way to the GOP nomination in that early-primary state.

Let’s face it: The only way charging women more for health insurance and healthcare makes sense is if they have a partner who either shares that burden or shoulders it entirely. As in … a husband. Then it’s clear that the male of the species is doing his part to keep the species healthy and reproducing itself. A woman who doesn’t have a husband to play that role? Well, there shouldn’t be women like that – and certainly if there are, they shouldn’t be having children anyway, or even having sex, so they don’t need maternity care or contraception.

That’s the only way I can explain the GOP’s willingness to openly endorse an enormous transfer of wealth from women back to men by not only advocating the repeal of the ACA but specifically railing against its equal-premium provisions. But don’t worry, gals: You’ll get that wealth back once you get yourself a man!

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/11/05/behind_the_right%E2%80%99s_crazy_crusade_to_make_women_pay_more_for_health_insurance/

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David Suzuki’s Fukushima Warning Is Dire And Scary

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Toxic World Exposing Hundreds of Millions to Deadly Chemicals: Report

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/05-4

Problem goes well beyond a ‘Top Ten’ list, but the human impact in these areas should be a wake-up call to the world

Jon Queally

The rise of computers, advanced electronics and large-scale manufacturing systems have serious down sides that much of the developed world and the beneficiaries of those technologies have proven eager to ignore.

And on Monday, highlighting the ten worst places in the world for industrial pollution, a new report claims that more than 200 million people living in low- and middle-income countries are having their health dramatically impacted by their exposure to dangerous levels of toxic materials.

According to the report, produced by the U.S.-based Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland in Europe, the new list of the top ten polluted places shows that a range of pollution sources and industrial contaminants—including hexavalent chromium from tanneries and heavy metals released from smelting operations—continue to plague populations already suffering from poverty and poor health systems.

“In this year’s report, we cite some of the most polluted places we’ve encountered. But it is important to point out that the problem is really much larger than these ten sites,” says Richard Fuller, president of Blacksmith Institute. “We estimate that the health of more than 200 million people is at risk from pollution in the developing world.”

As the report shows, the world’s ten most polluted places include:

Agbogbloshie, Ghana
Chernobyl, Ukraine
Citarum River, Indonesia
Dzershinsk, Russia
Hazaribagh, Bangladesh
Kabwe, Zambia
Kalimantan, Indonesia
Matanza Riachuelo, Argentina
Niger River Delta, Nigeria
Norilsk, Russia

The groups released a similar report in 2007 and though many of the same areas remained on their top ten list, they were joined by an unfortunate number of newly polluted areas that have succumbed to the perils of electronic manufacturing and the growing quantities of e-waste produced by the digital revolution.

As Agence France-Presse reports:

West Africa’s second largest processing area for the world’s swelling piles of electronic waste, at Agbogbloshie in Ghana’s capital Accra was among new additions.

Each year, Ghana imports around 215,000 tonnes of secondhand consumer electronics, mainly from Western Europe — a number that is expected to double by 2020, according to the report.

The main health concern linked to e-waste processing in Ghana is the burning of sheathed cables to recover the copper inside, the report said, pointing out that the cables can contain a range of heavy metals, including lead.

Soil samples from around Agbogbloshie have shown concentrations of that toxic metal that are 45 times more than accepted levels, the report said.

“E-waste is really going to be a challenge. It’s growing exponentially. Everybody wants a computer, a laptop, the modern devices, so I think we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg,” Blacksmith research director Jack Caravanos told reporters in a conference call.

Read the full report, The Top Ten Toxic Threats: Cleanup, Progress, and Ongoing Challengeshere.


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Anti-vaccination movement: It’s time for doctors to take a stand

From The LA Times:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-vaccines-doctors-20131105,0,6638791.story#axzz2jojkReJ6

November 5, 2013

Are doctors inadvertently fueling the anti-vaccine movement?

A study published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics analyzed more than 100 vaccine discussions involving 16 healthcare providers and found that how the doctor phrased the vaccine question had an impact on swaying parents who were hesitant about whether to vaccinate their children.

The study found that when doctors told parents it was time to vaccinate (“It’s time for Bobby to have his shots”) rather than presenting it as a question (“What do you want to do about Bobby’s shots?”), parents were much more likely to accept vaccination. As the study by Dr. Douglas Opel, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, suggests, doctors need to stop presenting vaccination as a question and more assertively advocate for the potentially lifesaving vaccination of young children.

Of course, parents should not be pressured into vaccinating. They should have questions answered and should make decisions based on informed consent. But from a public health perspective, vaccination should not be presented as a choice, implying equally valid options, especially in the context of rampant vaccine misinformation.

From the moment of conception, today’s parents are swamped with information overload and an endless barrage of choices. The Internet is teeming with information on every conceivable choice a parent may encounter. Parents don’t need to go very far to find opposition to vaccination, whether in play groups or online. Though suspicion about vaccines is not new, a now widely discredited study published in 1998 linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism kicked the panic over vaccines into overdrive. And anti-vaccination zealots like Jenny McCarthy continue to fire up the “debate.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-vaccines-doctors-20131105,0,6638791.story#axzz2jojkReJ6

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