Just Saying No (Again) to Emergency Contraception

After years of bureaucratic ping-pong, the answer is still no. Hell no.

No, you can’t protect yourself from an unintended pregnancy. Nothing to do if the condom breaks, the diaphragm slips, or you have been raped. It’s a no-go, even if you are trying to prevent having an abortion. No, no, no.

The FDA rejected yet another request from more than 60 reproductive health organizations seeking over-the-counter status of Plan B. Meaning you still need permission (oops – I mean a prescription), from a doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional in order to access emergency contraception.

First, Save Yourselves

Just in time for hurricane season, another kind of storm will be descending on the state of Mississippi this July. Emboldened by recent draconian trends in limiting women's access to safe and legal abortion in a country where 87 percent of counties already lack an abortion provider, the folks at Operation Save America (formerly known as Operation Rescue) are currently organizing a one-week assault on the Jackson Women's Health Organization -- otherwise known as the last abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi -- from July 15-22. Yup, that's right, the last one.

Video: Global Health Council Panel Discussion

[img_assist|nid=292|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=61|height=69]This post includes links to video footage of the entire presentation, as well as to Rewire interviews with panel members.

On May 30th, the Global Health Council's annual conference featured a panel discussion on a new report from the UN Millennium Project entitled, "Public Choices, Private Decisions: Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals."

The report's author, Stan Bernstein of the UN Millennium Project and UNFPA, was joined on the panel by renowned author and development expert Jeffrey D. Sachs of the UN Millennium Project, and by Ana Langer, president and CEO of EngenderHealth and a leading expert in women's and family health services. The panel was moderated by Nils Daulaire, president of the Global Health Council.

It was a fantastic conversation, featuring some of the most expert voices in this field. These leaders and others like them do the work that makes Rewire possible -- they provide the solid research and thinking on reproductive health to counter the fuzzy logic of opponents.

Make HPV Vaccine Mandatory

Last week's news that the FDA approved the HPV Vaccine to prevent cervical cancer in women was great news. As anyone following the FDA lately knows, this one was a toss-up. The disproprtionate influence of ideology over science at the FDA threatened to undo this truly impressive medical break-through for fear it would encourage young women to have sex. But the real fight still looms. At the end of this month the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices will meet in Atlanta to make reccomendations about the optimal age to administer the vaccine and if children should be included. States will deterimine if the vaccine is mandatory.

Not So Fast!

It seems like just moments ago that Pope Benedict XVI announced his consideration of the radical notion that HIV-discordant Catholic couples might-just might-be allowed to use condoms within the confines of marriage. But don't buy your Ratzinger-as-Che t-shirt yet. On Tuesday, June 6, the Pontifical Council for the Family, headed by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, issued a 57-page document condemning contraception, abortion, in vitro fertilization, same sex marriage, pasta, kittens...wait, sorry, scratch those last two. Just avoid anything that might allow you to decide how many children you have or whether or not you're allowed to marry the person you love. Pasta and kittens are fine.

As for using condoms under the circumstances described above, we're still waiting to hear-the document doesn't contain the C word. However, Cardinal Trujillo certainly made his personal views on condoms known three years ago when he helpfully suggested that they in fact spread AIDS.

Obsessed with Prostitution, Right-Wing Groups Miss a Chance to Fight Trafficking

When the World Cup starts this week in Germany, over 3 million people are expected to be attending from around the world, and over 40,000 sex workers have been brought in for the event. Several NGOs are raising legitimate concerns that despite Germany’s best efforts, many of the women coming to Germany will be coming against their will or under deceitful circumstances, as victims of human trafficking.

Among the right-wing NGOs, C-FAM is leading the way in making noise about the event, with their Stop World Cup Prostitution campaign. While they and others (see Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America’s statement, and Rep. Chris Smith’s statement) might be bringing the horrible crime of human trafficking into a broader light, their main obsession appears to be prostitution, not trafficking. This focus may actually be hampering efforts to effect real and lasting change that would serve to end human trafficking.

Brad & Angelina’s Namibian Adventure

In search of a quiet, secluded spot to give birth (who isn’t?), last month actress Angelina Jolie finally settled on the southern African nation of Namibia. Luckily, the Namibian government was more than willing to temporarily overhaul its entire immigration policy in order to meet her needs, prompting one infuriated African blogger to throw up her hands in frustration at the phenomenon now commonly known as Nambrangelina.

Angelina is a tough lady, but admittedly, she wasn’t in search of the true Namibian birth experience: in Namibia, women stand a 1 in 54 lifetime chance of dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth—compared to a 1 in 2,500 chance in the States (though it’s important to note some women’s health disparities in the U.S., like the fact that African-American women face a maternal mortality rate four times higher than white women). Actually, the reproductive health risks in Namibia are pretty tame by African standards—compare it to Nigeria, where women stand a whopping 1 in 18 lifetime chance of death by pregnancy or childbirth.

American Life League: More Evidence Ideologues Long on Rhetoric, Short on Solutions

Judie, Judie, Judie. What can anyone say about Judie Brown, President of the American Life League (ALL) that she hasn't already said about herself? Not much, so here she is in her own words:

“We are laying the groundwork for a Christian movement that will dictate to politicians what it means to be prolife.”

On the issues, Judie Brown and ALL are equally clear:

Over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception are “the most dangerous announcement a US government agency has made in recent memory.”

“Teens are not biologically programmed to have sex as much as they’re indoctrinated to do so.” Just in case you're wondering, that indoctrination comes from Planned Parenthood. Yeah, I remember it now, right between recess and gym class.

How Opposition to Plan B Leads to Abortion

An opinion piece in this weekend's Washington Post, deatils one woman's attempt to obtain emergency contracpetion, also known as "Plan B" and her inability to get it as a reuslt of ideological policies pursued by opponents of abortion. In her case, it actually caused one. The author also participated in an online chat session today, the transcript of which reveals the very real tension around these issues.