Ab-Only Debacle Continues At CDC

A minor note to add to previous posts: Jackie Jadrnak’s blog for the Albuquerque Journal included an interesting bit of news today. You’ll recall that recently politicians overrode the scientific peer-review process and censored a panel on abstinence-only education at a conference focused on sexually transmitted infections. Supposedly, Centers for Disease Control spokesperson Mark Skinner told Jackie that in light of the “conflict”, the CDC would revisit its policy of using a peer-review process to accept papers and panelists for future conferences.

If scientists and doctors are no longer qualified to formulate discussions on science and medicine, who is? The politicians who censored this most recent panel? Could the CDC be serious?

Considering that the heat has been on CDC for bowing to political pressure and failing to be faithful to its medical mission, one would think they’d be affirming the peer-review process as the best way to avoid such conflict in the future. Apparently not.

Around The States

Wisconsin’s decline in abortions should be good news. The Wisconsin State Journal points out, the reason is not because birth control is more accessible or the number of unintended pregnancies in the state is on the decline. As abortion numbers drop, the unintended pregnancy rate among under-educated minority women is climbing due to politically-restricted access to reproductive health services, sex education, and publicly-funded contraception. As the editors of the paper write, “When the most vulnerable groups young women and low-income women account for a lower number of unwanted pregnancies, then it will be cause for a true celebration.”

As demonstrated in Wisconsin, restrictive laws against abortion don’t stop unintended pregnancies, yet access to birth control and sex education can.

Weddington Letter and Far Right: Both are Wrong

Once again, the far right has gotten it all wrong. Lifesite.net writes about a letter from Ron Weddington to President Clinton in 1993, unearthed by Judicial Watch in a recent batch of papers made public at the Clinton Library. The letter has been dredged up as part of an effort to suggest that RU-486 was rushed to market by the Clinton Administration. Never mind the letter, nor Weddington, have any bearing on that issue.

The Weddington letter is reprehensible in its discussion of using abortion for "eliminating" the "barely educated, unhealthy and poor." But the Lifesite article is, at best, a stretch, even for people who are accustomed to stretching things pretty far. They take this one nutty letter, written by someone with an unfortunate link to a famous case (he was at one time married to Sarah Weddington, lawyer in Roe v. Wade), and try to make it into some manifesto for every person who believes in individual liberty, privacy and reproductive choice.

Mr. Weddington's letter and the far right activists have one thing in common: they both want to remove choice from the equation. Weddington would enforce reproductive health policies on women and families in the same way right wing activists would. Both are wrong.

Lieberman to Women: Drive, Drive, Drive

Blogger Connecticut Bob reports that Joe Lieberman supports the approach of the Catholic hospitals when it comes to contraceptives for rape victims (as reported in The New Haven Register, by Gregory B. Hladky on 03/13/2006, via KissJoeGoodbye.Com).

Lieberman said he believes hospitals that refuse to give contraceptives to rape victims for "principled reasons" shouldn't be forced to do so. "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital," he said.

Lieberman is losing NOW’s endorsement over the issue of conscience clauses that allow individual doctors, pharmacists and hospitals to refuse service if they do not believe contraception, or other services, are appropriate. It [img_assist|nid=159|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=98|height=100]may be a short drive in small Connecticut, but in the rest of the country Lieberman once wanted to be Vice President for, the drives can be many hours because of the reach of networks of Catholic hospitals providing service (or not) in some small communities.
Ideology triumphs over common sense once again. Joe – remember – the goal here is to reduce unintended pregnancies.

Morning Roundup: Teens Abroad and At Home, the President Loses Control

The Washington Post has a don’t miss special report on Teens and Sex comparing attitudes in the U.S. with those of teens abroad, where healthy attitudes mean fewer unintended pregnancies, abortions, and STDs than in the U.S. They will also feature a live online chat Q & A session with Dr. Robert Wm. Blum from Johns Hopkins Department of Population and Family Health Sciences, or if you can’t be online then, ask a question here now and read the transcript later. The Post doesn’t quite expose the whole story though …

A Diamond In The Rough?

For many in the reproductive health community, evangelical Christians have become synonymous with retroactive policies, scientific ignorance, and in too many cases, bigotry and arrogance that together have made them the bane of protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights. For many in the HIV-positive community, these sentiments have often been felt with as much—if not more—fervor, as evangelicals’ dislike for homosexuality has nearly authorized widespread ignorance about the epidemic, and the epidemic has created a platform for expressing their views.


So when Rick & Kay Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County start talking about HIV in a new way, all kinds of ears start listening...

Breaking News: Kansas Court Remains Closed

A Kansas court has refused to open the court proceedings in which Attorney General Phil Kilne (R) is attempting to access private medical records of patients at two abortion clinics. From the AP:

"The clinics' attorneys said they hadn't contacted any news organizations about the hearing, but Kline's chief deputy, Eric Rucker, acknowledged that someone in Kline's office might have. That statement caught Anderson's notice."

"At all times before this court, the attorney general has maintained that the investigation should be pursued out of the view of the media and with utmost respect for privacy of patients," Anderson wrote. "Thus, the court is perplexed by the apparent invitation to the hearing extended by the attorney general."

Is anyone surprised that it is Kline's office that is leaking to the media since the entire case is based on his lack of respect for personal privacy? Maybe if he loses re-election he can get a job at the NSA.

Freedom For Whom?

More than 200,000 women are serving in the US military—protecting our rights and defending freedom—yet they do not have the freedom to privately pay for an abortion at the military medical facilities where they are required to obtain all their health care. A service woman has to get permission from her commanding officer, wait for an available military transport and head home to the land of the free and home of the brave to have access to a safe and legal abortion.

Rep. Souder Claims He’s Not “Political”

CDC is a medical body dedicated to “protecting the health and safety of all Americans.”  It seems like an obvious corollary then that medical science should be the guiding force in all of its work.  If this doesn’t happen, CDC would appear to be derelict in its duty to pursue its mission.  So CDC has done the right thing in choosing to investigate the events in which politics firmly vetoed the presentation of medical science at a conference on sexually transmitted infections (STIs), preventing a discussion of documented failures in the abstinence-only sex education programs promoted by the Bush Administration. 

Dobson Not Satisfied with White House Despite Activity in States

[img_assist|nid=154|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=68|height=100]With the recent banning of abortion in South Dakota and 11 other states following suit, Focus on the Family seems publicly invigorated by the news, “pro-lifers have good reason to be hopeful.” Privately, Daily Kos reports Dobson is whipping the White House to do more. Quoting Dobson, "There's just very, very little to show for what has happened and I think there's going to be some trouble down the road if they don't get on the ball," referring to the paultry successes the far right has won for its loyalty to the Bush White House.