By Charles Ornstein ProPublica This story was co-published with NPR’s Shots blog.
The scene in front of abortion clinics is often tense, with clinic workers escorting patients past activists waving signs and taking photographs.
But increasingly, another drama is unfolding out back. There, abortion opponents dig through the trash in search of patient information.
Using garbage as their ammunition, anti-abortion activists who have sometimes been accused of violating abortion seekers’ privacy are turning the tables. They claim it’s the clinics that are violating patients’ privacy by discarding medical records in unsecured ways.
“Everybody acts like the abortion clinics are this bastion of protection for women’s privacy, and they’re like the chief offenders of just dumping this stuff willy-nilly,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy advisor at Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group based in Wichita, Kansas. “It’s so hypocritical.”
Abortion rights groups counter that while a small number of clinics have improperly disposed of records, the vast majority take strict precautions to protect patient privacy. It’s far more common, they say, for abortion opponents to trespass on private property or try to break into locked dumpsters.
Pregnancy: A Touchy Subject In Employee Wellness Assessments
“Are you pregnant?”
By Julie Appleby KHN
It’s a topic employers generally avoid, since the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibited sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.
But women’s advocates fear these long-standing protections could be undermined by some workplace wellness programs.
That question and “How old were you when you first became pregnant?” are both included in a health risk assessment offered to some clients of Audax Health, a wellness firm.
“How old were you when you first became pregnant?”
Similar queries are posed in health risk assessments offered by other wellness programs, say consumer groups, including the National Women’s Law Center.
“These are questions they should not ask,” because of the potential for discrimination, said Emily Martin, vice president and senior counsel for the NWLC, in a letter to the Obama administration asking for a ban on such questions in wellness programs. Continue reading →
Republican calls to defund Planned Parenthood over its alleged handling of fetal tissue for research are louder than ever. But they are just the latest in a decades-long drive to halt federal support for the group.
This round of attacks aims squarely at the collection of fetal tissue, an issue that had been mostly settled — with broad bipartisan support — in the early 1990s. Among those who voted to allow federal funding for fetal tissue research was now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
McConnell made no mention of his previous position when he announced that the Senate would take up a bill to cut off Planned Parenthood’s access to federal funds before leaving for its summer break. The first vote on the bill is expected as soon as Monday. Continue reading →
The Utah legislature took a step last week into territory where state lawmakers rarely tread.
It passed a law giving children conceived via sperm donation access to the medical histories of their biological fathers. The law itself stirred no controversy. The oddity was that the legislature ventured into the area of “assisted reproduction” at all.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) helps infertile couples to conceive. Compared to many other industrialized nations, neither the U.S. nor state governments do much to oversee the multibillion-dollar industry.
“The United States is the Wild West of the fertility industry.”
“The United States is the Wild West of the fertility industry,” Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society said, echoing a description used by many critics of the regulatory environment surrounding ART. Continue reading →
Teenage girls who are given access to long-acting contraceptives such as IUDs or hormonal implants at no cost are less likely to become pregnant, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine released Wednesday.
The findings come just two days after the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that health providers should consider IUDs and implants first when discussing contraception choices with teen girls.
Young women with access to these methods at no cost were almost five times less likely to get pregnant, five times less likely to give birth and four times less likely to have an abortion.
Although there are not as many teenage pregnancies as there once were — rates have been cut by more than half since 1991 — they still pose serious public health issues because of the costs associated with child birth and public assistance for young mothers.
These pregnancies can also stunt education and income opportunities for teenage moms.
Puberty is the set of physical changes that occur when a person becomes sexually mature. Puberty usually occurs between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys.
In girls, the first sign of puberty is often breast development. Other signs are the growth of hair in the pubic area and in the armpits. Sometimes acne appears and, eventually, menstruation begins.Continue reading →
Endometriosis occurs when tissues that are like the lining of the uterus grow on surfaces of organs in the pelvisor abdomen. Endometriosis may affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant. The two most common symptoms of endometriosis are pain and infertility.