Law meant to limit access to abortion in the Ohio state legislature

Story by Amelia Steinbach, T '21 State legislators in Ohio are currently debating House Bill 565, a piece of proposed legislation that imposes strict limitations on access to abortion. The law changes the definition of person to include “any unborn human,” which results in the criminalization of abortion. If the law is signed into law, it would effectively criminalize abortion. Any woman who undergoes the procedure, as well as any doctor who performs it, would face charges for murder. Because the death penalty is permitted in the state of Ohio, women and doctors could also be sentenced to death because of their role in the procedure. Despite the fact that many modern abortion regulations include exemptions of pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, as well as those that pose a threat to the pregnant woman’s life, House Bill 565 includes no such provisions. Notably, the group of legislators sponsoring and co-sponsoring the bill is overwhelmingly male, with only two out of sixteen...
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Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

     The country of Pakistan has one of the highest rates of abortions in the world; it is noted there are 50 abortions for every one thousand women. However, this procedure is “legal only in very limited circumstances” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Pakistan states an abortion can occur if there is a “need” for it such as if a woman’s health is in danger. But, otherwise, the term “need” is very vaguely defined—culturally, abortions are not accepted or promoted in Pakistan. As a deeply conservative and Muslim country, most hospitals and doctors refuse to perform abortions for religious and moral reasons and beliefs. As a result, a huge underground abortion industry thrives. This contributes to the statistic that ⅓ of all women who undergo abortions in Pakistan suffer complications largely because those who are performing the operations are likely not properly qualified. The high amount of abortions comes from the fact that there is a large unmet need...
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Eradicating Human Diseases: Opportunities and Risks

Eradicating Human Diseases: Opportunities and Risks

The Director of the Center for Global Reproductive Health, Dr. Megan Huchko, participated in a panel on November 28th entitled "Eradicating Human Diseases: Opportunities and Risks." Dr. Gavin Yamey (Director for the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health) moderated the event, which featured Dr. Christopher Plowe (Director of the Duke Global Health Institute), Dr. Lavanya Vasudevan (Assistant Professor in Community and Family Medicine) and Dr. Osondu Ogbuoji (Deputy Director of the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health) as additional panelists. While the panelists disagreed on the definition of eradication, they all commented upon 'donor fatigue' and the economic and political difficulty of completing eradication as cases dwindle. The panel discussed the difficulty global health programs face in second-world countries, which don't benefit from the same economic resources as first-world countries or as many donations as third-world countries. The panelists stressed the importance of continued screenings, especially in the case of cervical cancer, and emphasized the necessity of childhood vaccinations....
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Kenyan Women Victorious in “I AM 2.0” Competition

Kenyan Women Victorious in “I AM 2.0” Competition

Global Fund for Women is an organization which supports the efforts of women’s groups who work to improve the quality of safety and happiness for women and girls around the world. Recently, the Global Fund for Women, partnered with the United Nations Population Fund, Graca Machel Trust, and Nairobi Incubation Lab, facilitated a competition titled “I AM 2.0” to reward women’s groups who develop the most scalable, unique, sustainable, and impactful solutions for reproductive health challenges. Three organizations- Inteco Kenya ARI, Silmak Agencies and Mums Village- all run by Kenyan women, have been declared the winners, with each receiving $10,000. Inteco Kenya ARI provides menstrual hygiene product distribution services through a network of accessible ARI vending machines. Silmak Agencies produces adult diapers, menstrual hygiene products, product dispensers, and product disposals, which it then provides for Kenyan schools at a subsidized cost. Mum’s village has cultivated a peer-interactive network which supports women experiencing gender-based violence. These three organizations will appear before...
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World Health Organization Releases New App

World Health Organization Releases New App

The World Health Organization has recently launched its new app entitled “Medical Eligibility Criteria For Contraceptive Use.” The purpose of the app is to allow anyone with a smartphone to be able to access recommendations for the best and proper contraceptive methods according to one's medical conditions. The WHO released the fifth edition of the medical eligibility criteria (MEC) in 2015 as a 276 page document as “part of the process for improving the quality of care in family planning” for “guidance on the safety of various contraceptive methods for use in the context of specific health conditions and characteristics.” The app condenses this information into an easily accessible and user-friendly interface. MED takes into account a woman’s medical condition and history in order to note which contraceptive methods would adversely affect the woman and to note if the condition could interfere by making the contraceptive method less effective. It truly emphasizes safety as a priority to promote female reproductive...
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Malaysia Eliminates Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

Malaysia Eliminates Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission

Malaysia is currently celebrating a milestone victory in progress towards preventing preventable diseases in babies. It has become the first country in the Western Pacific region to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of both HIV and syphilis. Malaysia was one of the early global adopters of the program Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) for HIV and syphilis, starting antenatal screening in 1997. Today, services are fully integrated within Malaysia’s Family Health Programs, and testing is provided free of charge. Virtually all women have access to quality health services including contraception and birth assisted by skilled healthcare workers. This programming strategy has dramatically reduced the number of babies born with either syphilis or HIV and is compatible with global elimination criteria. Transmission of HIV can occur from an HIV-positive woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. This type of transmission accounts for the vast majority of new HIV infections in children, and remains a significant challenge for low- and middle-income countries in breaking...
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State Department looks to Ban Term ‘Sexual Health’

State Department looks to Ban Term ‘Sexual Health’

As leaked by Foreign Policy last week, recent State Department memos suggest that American diplomats may soon be unable to use words essential to discussions of reproductive rights. If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approves the memos' proposal, officials will be banned from saying "sexual and reproductive health" and "comprehensive sexuality education," and would instead use the term "reproduction and the related health services." This follows the State Department's pattern of treatment of gender-related language. Its annual human rights report this year trimmed language focused on family planning, and officials have worked to remove the term "gender" from multiple UN human rights documents. While the policy implications of this change remain unclear, the alteration in language could complicate United Nations discussions regarding reproductive health issues and funding for NGOs that maintain their vocabulary use. The removal of "gender" from State Department usage further excludes transgender individuals from political discussions; the Department of Health and Human Services also recently moved to establish...
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Ovarian Cancer Needs more Attention and Awareness

Ovarian Cancer Needs more Attention and Awareness

Ovarian cancer is the 7th most common cancer in the world. Nearly 300,000 women are predicted to develop ovarian cancer this year and less than half of these women diagnosed are expected to survive after 5 years. However, there is very little awareness of ovarian cancer and its effects. A survey conducted by the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition gathered information from 1,531 women across 44 countries. The women who participated were from high, middle, and low income countries and were asked to answer online questions about their experiences with ovarian cancer. The study points to the fact that over two thirds of women who participated had never even heard of ovarian cancer or knew nothing about it before they were diagnosed. Additionally, less than half of these women attempted to find care or answers for their symptoms within the first month they appeared, and one in every ten women did not seek medical help for 6 months. This data is important...
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One Man, His Wife’s Legacy, and the “Monarch of Dreams”: Cervical Cancer Prevention in Zambia

One Man, His Wife’s Legacy, and the “Monarch of Dreams”: Cervical Cancer Prevention in Zambia

The women of Zambia have the world’s fourth highest rate of cervical cancer; yet, Zambia’s government provides free cervical cancer screening services. This begs the question: why does such a high incidence of cervical cancer persist? The answer is due, in part, to a lack of awareness amongst the female population regarding this disease, particularly in rural areas. Robert Zulu, in upholding the legacy of his late wife whom he lost to cervical cancer, aims to inform and empower Zambia’s women by encouraging regular cervical cancer screenings. These preventative measures are especially important for HIV, which disproportionately affects Zambia’s women, as this disease increases the likelihood of cervical cancer diagnosis by three times. Zulu’s non-profit, Rakellz Dream Initiative, takes an incredibly unique approach to this end of raising awareness, producing plays and movies about cervical cancer. Zulu’s latest film, “Monarch of Dreams,” which is based on his wife’s battle with cancer, premiered on October 31st in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. The...
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C-Sections: A Global Dichotomy of Overuse and Inaccessibility

C-Sections: A Global Dichotomy of Overuse and Inaccessibility

A new health care study by Lancet has illuminated a frightening trend in the global prevalence of caesarean sections. In wealthy countries, C-sections are often performed in the absence of underlying medical causes, while in developing countries, C-sections are inaccessible even when medically necessary. As of 2015, the C-sections were used for approximately 30% of births in North America, 44% in Latin America and the Caribbean, and only 5% in East Africa, standing in stark opposition to the World Health Organization’s recommendation rate of 10-15%. C-sections invite major risk, including maternal and postpartum infections, in addition to newborn death or extended hospitalization.  However, many women report that they are not informed by doctors of the implications and possible risk involved with this procedure and report being immensely pressured to receive C-sections. In short, the decision is driven not by mothers, but by doctors who allow financial motivations, fear of litigation, and even racial bias to inform their decisions. One potential...
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