New findings show that pregnant women are increasingly likely to be addicted to opioids and methamphetamines

New findings show that pregnant women are increasingly likely to be addicted to opioids and methamphetamines

Story by Amelia Steinbach, T'21 A study recently released in the American Journal of Public Health shows a significant increase in the use of methamphetamines and opioids by pregnant women in recent years.  Usage more than doubled from the 2008-2009 period to the 2014-2015 period, with the greatest increases seen in rural areas. Worse health outcomes, longer lengths of stay, and higher delivery costs are all more common in deliveries relating to amphetamine and opioid use. Additionally, deliveries affected by amphetamine usage were also disproportionately affected by preeclampsia, placental abruption, preterm delivery, and extremely high maternal morbidity. While there is a correlation between opioid usage and these negative outcomes during pregnancy and delivery, the drugs may not be the only factor. Women who are substance-abusers also generally attend fewer prenatal appointments and only receive prenatal care later in the country. This trend of increased amphetamine and opioid usage in the United States is far more common in rural areas of the...
Read More
Canada Reaffirms Commitment to Gender Equity through Action

Canada Reaffirms Commitment to Gender Equity through Action

Story by Alex Lichtl, T'19 Canada is emerging as a world leader of gender equality and sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), according to Sandeep Prasad, executive director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. The country hosted the 7th International Parliamentarians’ Conference (ICPI) in October and also launched a Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) in June 2017. Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Canadian Minister of International Development, has been a strong advocate for women’s rights and said that since FIAP launched, 93% of Canada’s humanitarian assistance has involved SRHR or women’s empowerment. Minister Bibeau also announced in October that Canada will provide up to $50 million to Palestinian refugees, along with providing International Assistance to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Although Canada’s official development assistance (ODA) of 0.26 to gross national income is below the 0.7 commitment, Minister Bibeau replied that Canada continues to lead in policies advocating for the most vulnerable populations and in investments for educating women in conflict...
Read More
New UN Report shows global scope of intimate partner violence

New UN Report shows global scope of intimate partner violence

Story by Alex Lichtl, T'19 A report released on Nov. 25, 2018 by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that nearly 50,000 women were killed last year by an intimate partner or family member and that the Americas were the third-worst globally. A 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that in the United States, about 50% of all female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner, family member, or friend. This indicates that many women are being intentionally killed by people they know and trust. Women who leave their partner are also at higher risk for domestic violence, according to a CDC study. The UNODC report called for increased access to services provided by the police and justice department and stressed the importance of education. Rachel Goldsmith, Vice President of domestic violence centers at Safe Horizon, also advocated for restricted access to firearms. Shortly following the release of the report, thousands...
Read More
Over 100 women elected to House of Representatives for the first time and the impact that is expected to have on laws regarding women’s healthcare

Over 100 women elected to House of Representatives for the first time and the impact that is expected to have on laws regarding women’s healthcare

Story by Amelia Steinbach, T'21 The 2018 Midterm results from Election Day on November 6th resulted in historic numbers of women elected to the House of Representatives. For the first time in American history, more than 100 women will be serving as congressional representatives in January of 2019. The elections included several “firsts” – the youngest woman, the first Muslim women, the first Native American congresswomen, and the first black women elected from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Additionally, while the proportion of the Republican caucus that is white men increased, that same proportion in the Democratic caucus decreased to 38%, which is relatively close to the representation of that demographic group in the overall population. Tennessee and Arizona also elected female Senators for the first time in history. Several studies have shown that female legislators are more likely than their male counterparts to sponsor and vote for legislation relating to the needs of families, women, and children. They are generally more liberal about...
Read More
Protections against FGM overruled by federal judge in US

Protections against FGM overruled by federal judge in US

Story by Amelia Steinbach and Suzanna Larkin, T'21 A recent federal case in Detroit resulted in America’s law regarding female genital mutilation being found unconstitutional. Two doctors were charged with violating a federal law after performing procedures on young girls from Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. The procedures all occurred in the Detroit area. The law prohibits “knowingly circumcising, excising, or infibulating any part of the labia majora, labia minora, or clitoris of another person who has not attained age 18.” The judge, Bernard Friedman, noted that while he was not in opposition to the protection against the abuse of girls, his interpretation of the Constitution led him to believe that “federalism concerns deprive Congress of the power to enact this statute,” essentially implying that the power to ban female genital mutilation and cutting must be left to state legislatures. Friedman’s decision dismisses almost all of the charges against the doctor. Michigan is one of 27 states which currently criminalizes FGM, but...
Read More
30th Anniversary of World AIDS Day

30th Anniversary of World AIDS Day

Story by Amelia Steinbach, T'21 December 1st, 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, marked by celebrations and commemorations around the globe. World AIDS Day began in 1988. Now celebrated each year, the day marks a partnership between agencies of the United Nations, governmental leaders, and various societies. Each year includes a theme related to AIDS advocacy.  Since the event began in 1988, the stigma and lack of dialogue surrounding HIV/AIDS has decreased significantly. However, barriers still remain in the efforts to completely eliminate the stigma and discrimination. One of the most prominent barriers is the difficulty people face in getting tested for HIV/AIDS. For this reason, UNAIDS decided that the focus of 2018 World AIDS Day would be “know your status.” The organizers of this campaign believe that increased accessibility to HIV testing should be a top priority. In making these services accessible, the world will ensure that people know about a positive status prior to symptoms, in...
Read More
Increase in Sexual Assault Services Announced in Nigeria

Increase in Sexual Assault Services Announced in Nigeria

Story by Alex Lichtl T'19 The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, announced at a National Conference on Sexual and Gender Based Violence Response that Nigeria now has eleven sexual assault referral clinics in ten states. This is an increase from only three clinics in three states two years before, and reflects the government’s efforts to increase access to protective services for victims of sexual and gender based assault. These clinics provide forensic, medical, legal and psychological services to victims. The Vice President explained that over the past three and a half years the Rule of Law Advisory Team has partnered with different organizations to establish Gender Based Violence Response Teams across the States. Due to these efforts, more States are adopting laws to hold perpetrators accountable. Currently, stakeholders are working to establish Standard Operational Guidelines which can provide standardized steps to be used across the country. According to Vice President Osinbajo, these efforts are crucial because women bring value...
Read More
Burden of Uterine Cancer Disproportionately Impacts Black Women in the US

Burden of Uterine Cancer Disproportionately Impacts Black Women in the US

Story by Alex Lichtl, T'19 Uterine cancer rates in the United States continue to rise, with the burden of this disease disproportionately impacting black women. Deaths from uterine cancer were twice as likely for black women compared to white women, even though the incidence was high among both racial groups. The higher mortality from uterine cancer seen in African American women may be due to factors such as genetics and unequal access to care, according to Dr. Michael Birrer at the University of Alabama. Birrer stated that more research is needed to address these factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the rise in uterine cancer rates is partially due to the increase in obesity rates in the United States. Dr. Joseph Davis, an OB/GYN at Cayman Fertility Center, explained that apart from hormonal risk factors, such as higher-than-normal estrogen levels, social factors like diabetes and obesity have become more common due to the amount of processed foods...
Read More
New Drug Shown to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

New Drug Shown to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Story by Alex Lichtl, T'19 A recent trial has shown that a new drug called Kadcyla may cut the risk of breast cancer recurrence when combined with chemotherapy. The trial involved almost 1,500 women with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer, which carries a protein that promotes cancer growth. All of these women had undergone a standard treatment that involved chemotherapy and the drug Herceptin, an antibody that targets HER2-positve cancer cells. This approach sometimes leaves residual cancer and puts women at a higher risk of recurrence. In the trial, Dr. Charles Geyer and his team researched the drug Kadcyla, which combines Herceptin with a chemotherapy drug called emstansine, to see if Kadcyla was more effective at preventing recurrence. It was found that 88% of women who received Kadcyla were cancer-free three years later as compared to 77% who received Herceptin. However, according to Geyer, there were more side effects with Kadcyla, such as a drop in blood platelets. Kadcyla is not yet...
Read More
More restrictions regarding reproductive health care and limited information in Catholic-based hospitals

More restrictions regarding reproductive health care and limited information in Catholic-based hospitals

Story by Suzanna Larkin, T'21; Alex Lichtl, T'19 A recent report published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology examined the impact of Catholic religious guidelines on the reproductive health outcomes of patients. The report found that compared to other settings, Catholic health care facilities provide less information regarding reproductive health issues. Out of 27 different studies describing reproductive health services at Catholic health facilities, only one also reported patient outcomes. Most studies found that compared to non-Catholic hospitals, Catholic facilities were less likely to provide family planning services or did not provide them at all. Under the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, the sanctity of marriage is stressed and intercourse is seen as a form of ‘life giving’ with life beginning at conception. As a result, reproductive health care is often only used to treat other medical conditions and in some cases, contraception is inhibited even in cases of rape. For instance, instead of IUDs and tubal ligation, patients may...
Read More