Tag Archives: treatment

Women: Second Class Citizens

First off- my apologies for the lack of updates; I’m still adjusting to my new work schedule- finding time for updates had been on the back burner. Now on to the infuriating article ahead.

For those of you paying attention to political parties these days, or to new and interesting laws seeming to creep up without the public ever knowing about their creation, this article will serve as a blood-boiling recap of the absurd and disgusting politics surrounding women and women’s health. If you have not been paying attention- hold on to your pantyhose, because you are not going to believe this sh*t.

10 Reasons the Rest of the World Thinks the U.S. Is Nuts

This week the Georgia State Legislature debated a bill in the House, that would make it necessary for some women to carry stillborn or dying fetuses until they ‘naturally’ go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigsin the same situation.

I have a question for Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and too many others: I have three daughters, two of them twins. If one of my twins had been stillborn would you have made me carry her to term, thereby endangering both the other twin and me? Or, would you have insisted that the state order a mandatory fetal extraction of the living twin fetus from my womb so that I could continue to carry the stillborn one to term and possibly die myself? My family is curious and since you believe my uterus is your public property, I am, too.

Mr. England, unlike the calves and pigs for which you expressed so much empathy, I am not a beast of burden. I am a woman and I have these human rights:

The right to life.
The right to privacy.
The right to freedom.
The right to bodily integrity.
The right to decide when and how I reproduce.

Mr. England, you and your friends do not get to trade these rights, while “dog and hog hunting,” in return for a young man’s chickens.

My human rights outweigh any you or the state corruptly and cynically seek to assign to a mass of dividing cells that will eventually turn into a ‘natural’ person. Personhood-for-zygote based bills and related legislation, like Georgia’s and hundreds and hundreds of others, bills and laws that criminalize pregnancy and abortion and penalize women for being women, violate my human rights.

Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean I cannot think clearly, ethically, morally, rationally about my body, human life or the consequences of my actions. Just because you cannot get pregnant does not mean that I do not have rights when I am pregnant. I have responsibility but am powerless. You have power but are irresponsible with my rights.

By not trusting me, you force me to trust you. And YOU are not trustworthy.

I gestate humans, you do not. I know how it feels to be pregnant. You do not. I know what happens to a fetus in a womb. You do not. I have carried three fetuses to term. You have not. What I experience when I am pregnant is not empathy. It is permeability. The fetus is me. And the state is you, apparently. But, no matter what you say or do I have fundamental human rights. What makes you think that you, who cannot have this fully human experience, can tell me anything about gestation or how I experience it? Especially when you compare my existence and experience to that of brutish animals.

The rest of the civilized world thinks this country has lost its mind. It’s no wonder. Look at this list of frenzied misogyny:

1. Making women carry still-born fetuses to full term because cows and pigs do. This week, Mr England, you supported a bill, the net effect of which, taken tandem with other restrictions, will result in doctors and women being unable to make private, medically-based, critical care decisions and some women being effectively forced to carry their dead or dying fetuses. Women are different from farm animals, Mr. England, and this bill, requiring a woman to carry a dead or dying fetus is inhumane and unethical. By forcing a woman to do this, you are violating her right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment and tortured. And, yes, involuntarily carrying a dead fetus to term, although not torture to you or to a pig, is torture for a woman. It is also a violation of her bodily integrity and a threat to her life and as such violates her right to life.

2. Consigning women to death to save a fetus. Abortions save women’s lives. “Let women die” bills are happening all over the country. There is no simple or pretty way to put this. Every day, all over the world, women die because they do not have access to safe abortions. Yet, here we are, returning to the dark ages of maternal sacrifice. Do really have to type this sentence: this is a violation of women’s fundamental right to life.

3. Criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriages and arresting, imprisoning and charging women who miscarry with murder, like Rennie Gibbs in Mississippi or at least 40 other similar cases in Alabama or like Bei Bei Shuai, a woman who is now imprisoned, is charged with murder after trying to commit suicide while pregnant. Pregnant women are becoming a special class subject to “special” laws that infringe on their fundamental rights.

4. Forcing women to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration (otherwise called rape) with a condom-covered, six to eight-inch ultrasound probe. Pennsylvania is currently considering that option along with 11 other states. Trans-vaginal ultrasounds undertaken without a woman’s consent are rape according to the legal definition of the word. This violates a woman’s bodily integrity and also constitutes torture when used, as states are suggesting, as a form of control and oppression. Women have the right not to be raped by the state.

5. Disabling women or sacrificing their lives by either withholding medical treatment or forcing women to undergo involuntary medical procedures. We impose an unequal obligation on women to sacrifice their bodily integrity for another. For example, as in Tysiac v. Poland, in which a mother of two, became blind after her doctor refused to perform an abortion that she wanted that would have halted the course of a degenerative eye disease. If my newborn baby is in need of a kidney and you have a spare matching one, can I enact legislation that says the state can take yours and give it to her? No. We do not force people to donate their organs to benefit others, even those who have already been born. One of the most fundamental of all human rights is that humans be treated equally before the law. Denying a woman this right is a violation of her equal right to this protection.

6. Giving zygotes “personhood” rights while systematically stripping women of their fundamental rights. There is too much to say about the danger of personhood ideas creeping into health policy to do it here. But, consider what happens to a woman whose womb is not considered the “best” environment for a gestating fetus in a world of personhood-for-zygote legislation: who decides the best environment — the state, her insurance company, her employer, her rapist who decides he really, really wants to be a father? Anyone but a woman.

7. Inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion, including abortions sought by rape victims to end their involuntary insemination, imposing restrictive requirements like 24 hour wait periods and empowering doctors to lie to female patients about their fetuses in order to avoid prosecution. In Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Colorado, Arkansas and other states around the country bills that make women “pay” for their choices are abounding.

8. Allowing employers to delve into women’s private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she choses to use birth control. In Arizona, which introduced such a bill this week, this means covering payment for birth control as a benefit only when a woman has proven that she will not use it to control her own reproduction (ie. as birth control). As much as I am worried about women and families in Arizona though, I am more worried about those in Alabama. You see, as recently revealed in a public policy poll in Alabama, conservative, evangelicals who support “personhood” related “pro-life” legislation and are fighting for their “religious liberty” — 21 percent think interracial marriage should be illegal. So, what if they decide that an employee involved in an interracial marriage should not, by divine mandate, reproduce? Do they switch and provide birth control for this employee? Do they make contraception a necessary term of employment for people in interracial marriages? This violates a woman’s right to privacy. My womb is one million times more private than your bedrooms, gentlemen.

9. Sacrificing women’s overall health and the well-being of their families in order to stop them from exercising their fundamental human right to control their own bodies and reproduction. Texas just did that when it turned down $35million dollars in federal funds thereby ensuring that 300,000 low-income and uninsured Texas women will have no or greatly-reduced access to basic preventive and reproductive health care.

10. Depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families. Bills, like this one in Arizona, allow employers to fire women for using contraception. Women like these are being fired for not.

You presume to consign my daughters and yours to function as reproductive animals.

This is about sex and property, not life and morality. Sex because when women have sex and want to control their reproduction that threatens powerful social structures that rely on patriarchal access to and control over women as reproductive engines. Which brings us to property: control of reproduction was vital when the agricultural revolution took place and we, as a species, stopped meandering around plains in search of food. Reproduction and control of it ensured that a man could possess and consolidate wealth-building and food-producing land and then make sure it wasn’t disaggregated by passing it on to one son he knew was his — largely by claiming a woman and her gestation capability as property, too.

This is not about freedom of religion. If it were, we would, for example, allow Christian Scientists to refuse to pay for coverage of life-saving blood transfusions for employees. Religious freedom means I get to chose whether or not to be religious and if so, how. It does not mean that I get to impose my religion on others. Paying for insurance is part of the way we compensate employees, even when they use their insurance in ways we don’t agree with and are in contravention of our own personal beliefs. I think that it is stupid, dangerous and immoral to chain smoke, especially around children whose lungs it irreparably harms. But, I still have to pay for an employee to have access to lung scans, nicotine patches and oxygen tanks. I do not get to say that my religious beliefs, which include keeping bodies as healthy as possible, make it possible for me to withhold payment of this employee’s insurance. Guaranteed coverage of contraception and reproductive health care has overwhelming benefits for society, including reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. By inserting your religious beliefs so egregiously into government legislation and my life, you are imposing your religious beliefs on me. You don’t like mandated insurance coverage for basic reproductive health humans with two X chromosomes? I don’t like being bred by state compulsion like Mr. England’s farm animals. I have a MORAL OBJECTION to being treated like an animal and not a human. You do not have to use contraception, you do not have to use birth control. But, that does not mean you have any right to tell me that I cannot if I chose. That is my right.

Property, control, sex, reproduction, morality, defining what is human. Sounds a lot like issues surrounding slavery 170 years ago. It is no surprise that of the 16 states that never repealed their anti-miscegenation laws, but rather had them overturned by the Supreme Court in 1967 more than half have introduced personhood bills. Like anti-miscegentation laws, anti-choice laws and bills that humiliate women, that treat them like beasts, that violate their bodily autonomy, are based on ignorance, entitlement and arrogance. These laws are not about “personhood” but “humanity.” That women of color are massively, disproportionately affected by these assaults on their bodies and rights should also come as no surprise – their rights and their bodies have always been the most vulnerable assault.

This is about keeping women’s wombs public and in other people’s control — the exact opposite of private and in their own control.

And, yes, I do know how complicated the ethics, bioethics and legal arguments related to these decisions are. You, apparently, do not. If you were truly concerned with sustaining life and improving its quality or in protecting innocent children, you would begin by having compassion and empathy for living, born people that require and deserve your attention. You feed them, educate them, lift them from poverty and misery. You do not compound these problems as you are with twisted interpretations of divine will. Only after that do you have the moral legitimacy to entertain the notion of talking to me about my uterus and what I do with it. By then, fully functional artificial wombs should be available and you can implant your own, since you are so fond of animal analogies, as was completed with this male mouse. What you are doing is disgraceful, hypocritical and morally corrupt.

And, no, I am not crazy. I am angry.

Mr. Santorum, Mr. England and Mr. Brownback and Mr. Perry you should consider not clinging so dangerously and perversely to the Agrarian Revolution ideas. Birth control and safe abortions are life-saving technologies. These archaic bills and laws, wasteful of time, money and lives, obscure an enduring and unchangeable truth: safe and effective family planning is the transformative social justice accomplishment of the 20th century. They will not go away. This is a revolution, too.

In an 1851 speechin which she argued for equal rights for women, Sojourner Truth said the following: “The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble.”

Do you, Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and friends even know who Sojourner Truth is?

This post has been updated since its original publication.

 Follow Soraya Chemaly on Twitter: www.twitter.com/schemaly

 

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New Laws Imposed on Women

I understand that many people are against abortion and would like to see abortion become illegal across the United States- I am not one of those people. I believe all options (and education) should be made available for women to promote healthy and responsible decision-making. Virgina, however, a state that is loath to provide abortive services to begin with, thinks that the best way to end abortion is to forcibly assault the woman seeking such abortive services. Continuing our look into women’s health we find this gem of an article and new bill that PASSED through legislature forcing women to undergo an invasive procedure before they are permitted to receive abortive services. So Virginia, does raping women (potentially women who are trying to abort a rapist’s fertilized seed) make them understand that you think abortion is bad? So criminal sexual contact makes women less pregnant? Unbelievable.

Virginia’s Proposed Ultrasound Law Is an Abomination

Under the new legislation, women who want an abortion will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. Where’s the outrage?

By Dahlia Lithwick

This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a billthat would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

What’s more, a provision of the law that has received almost no media attentionwould ensure that a certification by the doctor that the patient either did or didn’t “avail herself of the opportunity” to view the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat will go into the woman’s medical record. Whether she wants it there or not. I guess they were all out of scarlet letters in Richmond.

So the problem is not just that the woman and her physician (the core relationship protected in Roe) no longer matter at all in deciding whether an abortion is proper. It is that the physician is being commandeered by the state to perform a medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman, despite clear ethical directives to the contrary. (There is no evidence at all that the ultrasound is a medical necessity, and nobody attempted to defend it on those grounds.) As an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot put it recently, “Under any other circumstances, forcing an unwilling person to submit to a vaginal probing would be a violation beyond imagining. Requiring a doctor to commit such an act, especially when medically unnecessary, and to submit to an arbitrary waiting period, is to demand an abrogation of medical ethics, if not common decency.”

Evidently the right of conscience for doctors who oppose abortion are a matter of grave national concern. The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial. Don’t even bother asking whether this law would have passed had it involved physically penetrating a man instead of a womanwithout consent. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument about the obscene government overreach that is the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law. Yet physical intrusion by government into the vagina of a pregnant woman is so urgently needed that the woman herself should be forced to pay for the privilege.

The bill will undoubtedly be enacted into law by the governor, Bob McDonnell, who is gunning hard for a gig as vice presidentand has already indicated that he will sign the bill. “I think it gives full information,” he said this week on WTOP radio’s “Ask the Governor” program. “To be able to have that information before making what most people would say is a very important, serious, life-changing decision, I think is appropriate.”

That’s been the defense of this type of ultrasound law from the outset; it’s merely “more information” for the mother, and, really, what kind of anti-science Neanderthal opposes information? Pretending that this law is just a technological update on Virginia’s informed consent laws has another benefit: You can shame and violate women, while couching it in the language of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s gift that keeps on giving—his opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart. That opinion upheld Congress’ partial-birth abortion ban on the grounds that (although there was no real evidence to support this assumption) some women who have abortions will suffer “severe depression” and “regrets” if they aren’t made to understand the implications of what they have done.*

Never mind that the evidence indicates that women forced to see ultrasound images opt to terminate anyhow. According to the American Independent, a new study by Tracy Weitz, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that “viewing an ultrasound is not an indication that a woman will cancel her scheduled procedure, regardless of what emotional response the sonogram elicits.” Weitz summarized her findings in 2010 when she said that “women do not have abortions because they believe the fetus is not a human or because they don’t know the truth.”

Of course, the bill is unconstitutional. The whole point of the new abortion bans is to force the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade. It’s unconstitutional to place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, although it’s anyone’s guess what, precisely, that means. One would be inclined to suspect, however, that unwanted penetration with a medical device violates either the undue burden test or the right to bodily autonomy. But that’s the other catch in this bill. Proponents seem to be of the view that once a woman has allowed a man to penetrate her body once, her right to bodily autonomy has ended.

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that“in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)

That’s the same logic that animates the bill’s sponsor in the House of Delegates, Del. Kathy J. Byron, who insisted this week that, “if we want to talk about invasiveness, there’s nothing more invasive than the procedure that she is about to have.” Decoded, that means that if you are willing to submit to sex and/or an abortion, the state should be allowed to penetrate your body as well.

I asked Del. Englin what recourse there is for the ultrasound law, and he told me that the governor, while unlikely to veto the bill, still has the power to amend it to require the patient’s consent or say that physicians can opt not to do the vaginal probe. One might hope that even the benign act of giving women “more information” not be allowed to happen by forcing it between her legs. Or is that what we call it these days?

Whatever happens in the commonwealth, it’s fair to say it’s no accident that this week the Legislature also enacted a “personhood” law defining life as beginning at conception—a law that may someday criminalize contraception and some miscarriages as well as abortion. Today was not a good day in the War on Women. Abortion is still legal in America. Physically invading a woman’s body against her will still isn’t. Let’s not casually pass laws that upend both principles in the name of helping women make better choices.

Corrections, Feb. 16, 2012: This article originally misidentified the Virginian-Pilot as the Virginia-Pilot. The article also mistakenly characterized Gonzales v. Carhart as striking down the partial-birth ban. It also misidentified Del. David Englin as a representative.

http://mobile.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/02/virginia_ultrasound_law_women_who_want_an_abortion_will_be_forcibly_penetrated_for_no_medical_reason.html


Truth or Myth?

Here are three “myths” that can’t really be debunked- because no one is really sure if they are myths or not! Check out these “Up for Debate” fitness myths from outsideonline.com

Up for Debate: Massage boosts recovery

In a 2010 study, Canadian researchers had 12 healthy young men squeeze a hand grip until their arm muscles were spent, then had a certified sports-massage therapist give half of them a rubdown. The other half received no such pampering. Surprisingly, the ­massages did not increase blood flow to the men’s muscles—one of the primary reasons athletes seek bodywork after a strenuous workout. Additionally, researchers concluded that a massage “actually impairs removal of lactic acid from exercised ­muscle.”

Missing Link:
Studies are needed that examine whether post-exercise massage might have other benefits. Most athletes swear they feel better after being kneaded, but so far there’s no evidence at the cellular level to justify the indulgence.

Up for Debate: Surgery is best for an ACL tear

A landmark study on torn ACLs published in 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine led to heated disagreement about the effectiveness of going under the knife. Researchers randomly assigned either surgery or physical therapy to a group of 121 active adults who’d suffered an ACL tear. After two years, the groups’ knees were similar in terms of function and pain, showing that there was little advantage to the surgery.

Missing link: Finding a better way to repair wracked knees. While plenty of athletes have come back from an ACL tear at an extremely high level—surgery and physical therapy can usually restore basic knee stability—many never reach peak performance again. In current ACL surgery, injured tissue is often replaced. But some surgeons are experimenting with reconstructing the ligament with new forms of tissue grafts, which could produce better long-term outcomes.

Up for Debate: Cortisone Shots Speed Healing

Although they can provide immediate pain relief for soft-tissue injuries such as tennis ­elbow and Achilles tendinopathy, the shots can slow healing over the long term, according to a number of new studies. A comprehensive review of the available research published last year found that people who’d received cortisone shots had a much lower rate of full recovery than those who’d done nothing at all. Plus, they had a 63 percent higher risk of relapse.

Missing link: Trying to figure out exactly what’s going on inside overtaxed tendons and ligaments. In fact, scientists don’t fully understand the mechanics of injuries like tennis elbow and Achilles problems, so they don’t know how best to treat them—except to say that cortisone shots don’t appear to do the trick.


Debunking Fitness #8

We’re returning to fitness myths! This myth is sometimes a hot topic- just like fad diets, there are also fad pills.  You’ve probably seen dozens of ads on television, and in fitness magazines, for products that are supposed to BURN twice the FAT! REV UP your METABOLISM! and make all kinds of amazing, magical things happen…. for a price. Well, here’s the thing, it’s not just diet pills that make these claims. Even seemingly innocent vitamin supplements can’t resist the media attention. Here are a few common supplements and what they really have to offer.

Myth #8: Supplements help performance

Truth: There’s no such thing as a magic pill. (At least a legal one.)

Supplement: Antioxidants, Including Vitamins A, C, and E
Conventional Wisdom: They destroy free radicals, molecules created during exercise that are thought to contribute to cell damage.
Science Says: According to recent studies, some free radicals appear to trigger chemical reactions that actually help strengthen muscles after exercise and improve health. So taking antioxidants in excess may curb the benefits of exercise.

Supplement: Quercetin
Conventional Wisdom: A flavonoid found naturally in apples, red wine grapes, and other fruits and vegetables, it’s thought to improve endurance capacity and fight fatigue.
Science Says: Athletes get little or no benefit from it. An upcoming review of seven studies concluded that quercetin may be useful for out-of-shape people who start exercising but does next to nothing for the already fit.

Supplement: Creatine
Conventional Wisdom: It’s the most ­popular supplement in the country, and power athletes insist it helps build muscle strength and bulk.
Science Says: It does—to a point. College football ­players who used creatine bench-pressed more weight, and Australian soccer players sprinted faster. But if you’re an endurance athlete, creatine draws extra water into cells, leading to diarrhea and even cramping.

Supplement: DHEA
Conventional Wisdom: DHEA raises testosterone ­levels and helps build muscle and increase power.
Science Says: Yes and no. DHEA is a naturally ­occurring hormone that affects the body’s ability to produce testosterone. But a 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that daily doses in men with normal levels did not increase muscle strength.

Source: http://www.outsideonline.com


More Bad News for HCG Dreamers

As I have previously discussed in the article titled, HCG: Only Your Wallet Gets Thinner, HCG is not your best option when looking for a new lifestyle and eating plan- in fact, HCG can be downright dangerous. Though the USA does not currently list HCG as a controlled substance, according to the FDA, Human chorionic gonadotropin is illegal. Read on:

HCG Products Are Illegal

The level of popularity of most weight loss programs/products seems to be strongly correlated with the advertised amount of pounds that people can lose, usually in the shortest possible timeframe. The quicker the weight loss the more popular the diet program seems to be. Although the weight loss obtained with the most popular diets products can be simply explained with the energy balance equation, companies tend to make the consumer believe that there is a magic component in the product that is doing the work for them. The Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) weight-loss products are over the counter products identified as “homeopathic” and recommend users to follow a severe restrictive diet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently released their recommendation regarding “homeopathic” HCG weight-loss products in their latest Consumer Health Information issue, December 2011. The FDA recommends consumers to stay away from these products due to the unsupported claims. In addition, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued seven letters to companies warning about selling illegal homeopathic HCG weight-loss drugs that have not been approved by the FDA. This collaborative action between the FDA and FTC is the first step in preventing these products from being marketed online and in retail stores where they are commonly sold as oral drops, pellets and spray forms.

The HCG claims
The products that claim to contain HCG are typically attached to very low calorie diets; approximately 500 calories/day. Companies use statements like “reset you metabolism” and “shave 20-30 pounds in 30 days”. Although the HCG story began in the 50s, no evidence currently exists that shows HCG promotes weight loss by itself without creating a negative caloric balance. Elizabeth Miller, acting director of FDA’s division of Non-Prescription Drugs and Health Fraud said that “these products are marketed with incredible claims and people think that if they are losing weight, HCG must be working. But the data simply does not support this; any loss is from severe calorie restriction. Not from HCG.”

The HCG Legality
The HCG is a hormone that is produced in the human placenta during pregnancy but it is not approved for weight loss or for over-the-counter sale for any purpose. Moreover, a pharmacist at the FDA pointed that HCG is not listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, which lists the active ingredients that may be legally included in homeopathic drug products. For this reason, homeopathic HCG cannot legally be sold as a homeopathic medication for any purpose. In addition, David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection stated that “deceptive advertising about weight loss products is one of the most prevalent types of fraud. Any advertiser who makes health claims about a product is required by federal law to back them up with competent and reliable scientific evidence, so consumers have the accurate information they need to make good decisions.”

HCG a Potentially Dangerous Diet
Living on a very low calorie diet is considerably well documented to promote side effects such as gallstone formation, potential electrolyte imbalance, heartbeat irregularities, and various nutrient deficiencies (vitamins, minerals and protein). The HCG diet plan suggests individuals consume 500 calories/day, which is significantly less than the average 2,000 calorie recommended diet. The safe, general recommendation for healthy weight loss is a reduction of approximately 500 calories/day, only a third of the 1,500 calories/day recommended when following the diet plan. “These HCG products marketed over-the-counter are unproven to help with weight loss and are potentially dangerous even if taken as directed,” said Ilisa Bernstein, acting director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “And a very low calorie diet should only be used under proper medical supervision.” This very low calorie diet should only be prescribed under medical supervision for specific conditions such as extremely obese patients with health conditions. Health care professionals should provide credible information to their clients/patients so that they may be able to make appropriate decisions and avoid unrealistic weight loss expectations. (FDA Consumers Health information, December 2011)

Source: Source: http://www.ncsf.org/NewsArticles/0-185/HCGProductsAreIllegal.aspx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

As the article notes, even after the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission both have issued SEVEN letters to companies warning about selling illegal homeopathic HCG weight-loss drugs, sales still continue! Why? Because losing weight is hard; and taking a pill, or a drop that tells you ‘you don’t have to work hard’ is easy. This diet is not safe; and what’s more insulting, the pills and drops you’re taking (and paying good money for) are a placebo- that’s right, FAKE.

Want to read more? Check out this article from ABC news: FDA, FTC Crack Down on Illegal HCG Weight Loss Products


Sorry Ladies, You’re Too Stupid To Follow Directions

Presenting two pieces today. The first article (though the title suggests differently) touches briefly on president Obama’s support of the rejection on the Morning After pill, and his reasoning. The second piece is a much more biting response to the decision. It all seems to boil down to “someone might not follow the directions correctly and hurt herself”- which is just as preposterous as it sounds. What do you think of the decision on the sale of the Morning After pill?

Obama Backs Limit on Sale to Teenagers of Morning-After Pill

WASHINGTON — President Obama, noting that he was the father of two daughters, threw his wholehearted support on Thursday behind a decision by his health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, not allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counterto young teenagers.

“The reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect,” Mr. Obama said to reporters at the White House.

“And I think most parents would probably feel the same way,” the president added.

Mr. Obama insisted that he was not involved in the decision, on a contraceptive pill known as Plan BOne-Step. The decision by Ms. Sebelius, announced on Wednesday, was an extremely rare case of an administration official’s publicly overruling the Food and Drug Administration, which had concluded after extensive research that the medication was safe to be sold to teenagers 16 and younger without a prescription.

The bluntly personal nature of the president’s response suggested that the White House is well aware of the political sensitivities, going into an election year, of allowing broader distribution of the contraceptive, whatever the Food and Drug Administration’s scientific arguments in favor of it.

Mr. Obama’s comments came in a combative appearance that followed the Senate’s rejection of his nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray. The decision, the president said, “makes absolutely no sense,” leaving millions of Americans without adequate protection in their dealings with financial institutions, including payday lenders and debt collectors.

But Mr. Obama also used the occasion to address a range of issues, rejecting charges by Republican presidential candidates that he practices a foreign policy of appeasement, particularly in the Middle East.

“Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of top 30 Al Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement — or whoever’s left out there, ask them about that,” the president said.

Later, Mr. Obama argued that his administration had “systematically imposed the toughest sanctions ever in Iran.” He said the pressure campaign had left Iran isolated and unified world opinion against its leaders.

He also delivered some of his most urgent language yet on the European debt crisis.

As European leaders struggle to fashion a response to the deepening debt crisis, Mr. Obama suggested that time was running short, saying, “I am obviously very concerned about what’s happening in Europe.”

“I think they now recognize the urgency of doing something serious and bold,” the president said of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and other leaders. “The question is whether they can muster the political will to get it done.”

“Europe is wealthy enough that there’s no reason they can’t solve this problem,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s not as if we’re talking about some impoverished country that doesn’t have any resources and is, you know, being buffeted by the world markets and they need, you know, to come hat in hand to get help.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Obama spoke with Mrs. Merkel by phone. He said she had made some progress in pushing other European nations toward a “fiscal compact” that would prevent a repeat of the fiscal profligacy that had gotten Greece and other countries into trouble, and set off the broader crisis of confidence. But Europe’s first priority, Mr. Obama said, was to settle financial markets.

“We’re going to do everything we can to push them in a good direction on this,” he said, “because it has a huge impact on what happens here in the United States.”

Hmmmm, I do believe that saying “The reason Kathleen made this decision is that she could not be confident that a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old going to a drugstore should be able — alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could have an adverse effect”  and then reading  “The decision by Ms. Sebelius, announced on Wednesday, was an extremely rare case of an administration official’s publicly overruling the Food and Drug Administration, which had concluded after extensive research that the medication was safe to be sold to teenagers 16 and younger without a prescription” kind of shows an emotional spin over scientific data- data which, by the way, continues to show that your ‘moral’ standing on the subject does not make the pill less safe. The FDA says “it’s safe”, and then a talking head says “Oh you silly goose! You and your research… We know better!” that doesn’t sound like we get a choice here….

Katha Pollitt doesn’t seem too happy with this decision either, and put in her two cents:

HHS: Let’s Treat ALL Women Like Children

Did you assume the politicization of science was gone with the Bush administration and the reality-based community was back in charge? Think again. In a surprise move that has outraged women’s rights activists, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s proposal to make Plan B One-Step, a single-pill form of emergency contraception, available over the counter. According to the New York Times, this is the first time in our history that a health secretary has overruled the FDA.

Sebelius claims that her reason is that the FDA didn’t show that 11-year-old girls, some 10 percent of whom are fertile, understand how to follow the EC directions. Here are the instructions, courtesy of an alert commenter at http://www.nytimes.com:

“Plan B One-Step dosage consists of a single tablet taken once. A second tablet or dose is not required. The Plan B One-Step tablet should be taken as soon as possible and not more than 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure.”

If a sixth grader can’t understand those elementary, crystal-clear instructions, we should just move back to the caves, because civilization is finished. As has been pointed out, we assume middle-schoolers can handle Tylenol, which is not only easy to overdose on but has been used in suicides. If Sebelius is really worried about what kids can purchase at Duane Reade, she should start with products that actually can be used dangerously.

Barack Obama says that as the father of two daughters, he wants the government to “apply common sense” to rules about over the counter medications. Well, I too have a daughter, and so many many pro-choice women. Who died and made Barack Obama daddy in charge of teenage girls? Would he really rather that Sasha and Malia get pregnant rather than buy Plan B One-Step at CVS? And excuse me, Mr. President, thanks to your HHS, acquiring Plan B is prescription-only not just for 11-year-olds but for the 30 percent of teenage girls between 15 and 17 who are sexually active, and is a cumbersome process for all women, who have to ask a pharmacist for it and, as many news stories have reported, be subjected to fundamentalist harangues and objections. Apparently, it’s okay with you if Michelle is treated like a sixth-grader. I’m trying to think if there are any laws or regulations affecting only men in which unfounded fears about middle-school boys deny all men normal adult privileges. Needless to say, no one suggests that underage boys get a prescription if they want to use condoms, or that grown men have to ask the pharmacist for them and maybe get a lecture about the evils of birth control and promiscuity.

This is politics. Pure politics. The Obama administration values the Catholic bishops, the Family Research Council, Rush Limbaugh and the swing voters of Ohio more than the pro-choice Democratic women who make up way more than their share of his base—women who campaigned for him, donated to him, knocked on doors for him, left Hillary Clinton for him. He must be assuming that we are captive voters—we have no place to go. That may be true, but there’s trudging to the polls and there’s passion. Obama is never going to get passion from anti-choicers and swing voters. And it looks increasingly likely that he won’t get it from pro-choice women either.

Yes, you read that correctly, “Plan B One-Step dosage consists of a single tablet taken once”. Yep those sure are tricky directions! I guess I best kick off my shoes and get back in the kitchen- all my decisions are already made for me! Unbelievable.

 

Article one Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/09/us/politics/obama-expresses-support-for-plan-b-decision.html?_r=2&src=tp&smid=fb-share

Article two Source: http://www.thenation.com/blog/165071/hhs-lets-treat-all-women-children


Upsetting HIV Trends

A friend forwarded this article- and it is distressing to say the least. The struggles to combat the ravages of HIV and AIDS in Africa are beginning to seem insurmountable, and this new trend in infection rate is yet another blow to the continent. This article was written by Pam Belluck and can be found in the New York Times.

Contraceptive Used in Africa May Double Risk of H.I.V.

The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV, according to a large study published Monday. And when it is used by H.I.V.-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception.

The findings potentially present an alarming quandary for women in Africa. Hundreds of thousands of them suffer injuries, bleeding, infections and even death in childbirth from unintended pregnancies. Finding affordable and convenient contraceptives is a pressing goal for international health authorities.

But many countries where pregnancy rates are highest are also ravaged by H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. So the evidence suggesting that the injectable contraceptive has biological properties that may make women and men more vulnerable to H.I.V. infection is particularly troubling.

Injectable hormones are very popular. About 12 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 in sub-Saharan Africa, roughly 6 percent of all women in that age group, use them. In the United States, it is 1.2 million, or 3 percent of women using contraception. While the study involved only African women, scientists said biological effects would probably be the same for all women. But they emphasized that concern was greatest in Africa because the risk of H.I.V. transmission from heterosexual sex was so much higher there than elsewhere.

“The best contraception today is injectable hormonal contraception because you don’t need a doctor, it’s long-lasting, it enables women to control timing and spacing of birth without a lot of fuss and travel,” said Isobel Coleman, director of the women and foreign policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations. “If it is now proven that these contraceptions are helping spread the AIDS epidemic, we have a major health crisis on our hands.”

The study, which several experts said added significant heft to previous research while still having some limitations, has prompted the World Health Organization to convene a meeting in January to consider if evidence is now strong enough to advise women that the method may increase their risk of getting or transmitting H.I.V.

“We are going to be re-evaluating W.H.O.’s clinical recommendations on contraceptive use,” said Mary Lyn Gaffield, an epidemiologist in the World Health Organization’s department of reproductive health and research. Before the meeting, scientists will review research concerning hormonal contraceptives and women’s risk of acquiring H.I.V., transmitting it to men, and the possibility (not examined in the new study) that hormonal contraceptives accelerate H.I.V.’s severity in infected women.

“We want to make sure that we warn when there is a real need to warn, but at the same time we don’t want to come up with a hasty judgment that would have far-reaching severe consequences for the sexual and reproductive health of women,” she said. “This is a very difficult dilemma.”

The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, involved 3,800 couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In each couple, either the man or the woman was already infected with H.I.V. Researchers followed most couples for two years, had them report their contraception methods, and tracked whether the uninfected partner contracted H.I.V. from the infected partner, said Dr. Jared Baeten, an author and an epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist.

The research was presented at an international AIDS conference this summer, but has now gained traction, scientists said, with publication in a major peer-reviewed journal.

The manufacturer of the branded version of the injectable, Depo-Provera, is Pfizer, which declined to comment on the study, saying officials had not yet read it. The study’s authors said the injectables used by the African women were probably generic versions.

The study found that women using hormonal contraception became infected at a rate of 6.61 per 100 person-years, compared with 3.78 for those not using that method. Transmission of H.I.V. to men occurred at a rate of 2.61 per 100 person-years for women using hormonal contraception compared with 1.51 for those who did not.

While at least two other rigorous studies have found that injectable contraceptives increase the risk of women’s acquiring H.I.V., the new research has some strengths over previous work, said Charles Morrison, senior director of clinical sciences at FHI 360, a nonprofit organization whose work includes researching the intersection of family planning and H.I.V.

Those strengths include the fact that researchers followed couples and were therefore able to track transmission of H.I.V. to both men and women. Dr. Morrison said only one other less rigorous study had looked at whether hormonal contraception increased the risk of infected women’s transmitting the virus to men.

“This is a good study, and I think it does add some important evidence,” said Dr. Morrison, who wrote a commentary accompanying the Lancet article.

Although the study has limitations, including its use of data not originally intended to determine the link between contraceptive use and H.I.V., “I think this does raise the suspicion” that injectable contraceptives could increase transmission risk, he said.

Why that would occur is unclear. The researchers recorded condom use, essentially excluding the possibility that increased infection occurred because couples using contraceptives were less likely to use condoms.

The progestin in injectable contraceptives appears to have a physiological effect, scientists said. Renee Heffron, an epidemiologist and co-author of the study, said research examining whether the hormone changes genital tissue or vaginal mucous had been inconclusive. Studies in macaques found that progestin thins vaginal tissue, she said, “but studies among women didn’t show the same amount of thinning.”

It could be that progestin causes “immunologic changes in the vagina and cervix” or could increase the H.I.V.’s “ability to replicate,” Dr. Morrison said.

At one point, the researchers measured the concentration of H.I.V. in infected women’s genital fluid, finding “there was more H.I.V. in the genital fluid of those using hormonal contraception than those who aren’t,” Dr. Baeten said, a possible reason men might have increased risk of infection from hormonal contraceptive users. Those women “don’t have more H.I.V. in their blood,” he said.

The researchers also found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of H.I.V. infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said.

Previous research on the pill has been more mixed than with injectables, which could have a greater impact because they involve a strong dose meant to last for three months, Dr. Baeten said.

In another troubling finding, results from the same study, published separately, showed that pregnancy also doubled the risk of women’s contracting H.l.V. and of infected women’s transmitting it to men. That may partly be due to increased unprotected sex, but could also relate to hormones, researchers said.

But there are no simple solutions, the authors acknowledge. Any warning against such a popular contraceptive method may not only increase complications from pregnancy but increase H.I.V. transmission, too, since pregnancy itself may raise a woman’s risk of H.I.V. infection.

First, the researchers and others say, greater emphasis should be placed on condom use along with hormonal methods.

Some experts, like Dr. Morrison, favor a randomized controlled trial for more definitive proof, but others question how to “randomize women who may have strong preferences about their contraception,” he added.

Dr. Ludo Lavreys, an epidemiologist who led one of the first studies to link injectable contraceptives to increased H.I.V. risk, said intrauterine devices, implants and other methods should be explored and expanded. “Before you stop” recommending injectables, he said, “you have to offer them something else.”


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