Roundup: Anti-contraception Proposal Strikes a Nerve

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Roundup: Anti-contraception Proposal Strikes a Nerve

Brady Swenson

Bush's proposed anti-contraception regulations have struck a nerve with Americans; Study underscores importance of checking HIV drug treatment combinations; Study links high soy consumption to low sperm count.

This Story Has Legs … It’s been 16 days since President Bush’s Department of Health and Human Services proposed regulations that would redefine birth control pills and IUDs as abortion.  The new definition would remove federal funds from clinics providing subsidized birth control to low-income women and empower medical practitioners to deny dispensing birth control to women.  The story has made the rounds at the nation’s leading news institutions and is obviously striking a nerve with the American public, 98% of whom use contraception at some point in their lives.  Even South Korean news agencines are reporting on the story.  Today the Wall Street Journal enters the fray with a feature on the proposed regs that quotes a far right activist who supports the proposal and who, like many on the right, would like to see contraception become inaccessible and too expensive for women:

Still, some on the religious right are hoping the regulation would create some obstacles.

If the draft regulation were to prompt some insurance
companies to drop coverage for prescription birth control, "that would
be fantastic," said Tom McClusky, a strategist with the conservative
Family Research Council.

Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.

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With its expansive definitions, the draft bolsters a
key goal of the religious right: to give single-cell fertilized eggs
full rights by defining them as legal people — or, as some activists
put it, "the tiniest boys and girls."

As long as Roe v. Wade remains in effect and abortion
remains legal, that goal can’t be fully realized. But in recent years,
abortion opponents have scored notable successes. For instance: Several
states now define a fertilized egg as a legal person — an "unborn
child" — for purposes of fetal homicide laws, which allow criminal
prosecution when a woman miscarries as a result of an assault.

AlterNet adds to the discussion today in a post that notes that the regulations would allow medical care providers to deny rape victims access to emergency contraception:

And so, having failed to keep American women from having access to
basic birth control, the right is trying to use the guise of an
existing "conscience" requirement to achieve what it cannot accomplish
through an open political process. You could, if you were taken to an
emergency room after being raped, be told by a worker invoking the
conscience clause that you cannot have a drug to prevent a possible

The draft rule, in fact, singles out New York, California, Colorado,
Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts for actions they
took to ensure that women, especially rape victims, would have access
to birth control.

It estimates that about 504,000 recipients of
federal funds — including any hospital or doctor who participates in
Medicare and Medicaid — would have to allow its staff to exercise its
individual birth-control conscience. It defines a health care "entity"
to include health maintenance organizations and other insurance plans
— language indicating that federal employees who receive insurance
through the government also could be affected.

Bad Combos and the Women Who Take Them … POZ Magazine reports that "17 percent of HIV-positive women observed in a U.S. survey—the Women’s
Interagency HIV Study (WIHS)—were taking HIV med regimens deemed
ineffective or dangerous by federal treatment guidelines."  The article goes on to note that fewer women took contraindicated drugs after 2001.  Jennifer Cocohoba, PharmD, of the University of California San Francisco says the study is "a reminder that women seek HIV specialists less often than men.”
POZ reminds HIV positive people—and their doctors—to triple-check that

Study Links High Soy Consumption to Low Sperm Count … A recent study in the journal Human Reproduction found that men who consume an average of half a portion of soy products per day are more likely to have a lower concentration of sperm, particularly if they are overweight or obese.  Soy contains a number of isoflavones that exert an oestrogen-like affect, like daidzein, genistein and glycitein. They are marketed to menopausal women as a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but some animal studies have indicated that high consumption of soy isoflavones could affect fertility.