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...
Read More
US Faces Sharp Increase in STD Rates

US Faces Sharp Increase in STD Rates

Article by Emily Woodrow Syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States. All three are caused by bacteria and can be treated and cured with the proper screening, diagnosis and medication. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recently released statistics noting a record high of 2.3 million cases of these STDs in 2017, which is an increase of 200,000 cases from 2016. Gail Bolan, the director of STD Prevention at the CDC, noted that after years of success in STD control, the US has seen sharp increased over the past four years. David Harvey, Executive of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said, "The U.S. continues to have the highest STD rates in the industrialized world.” This is largely due to the fact that so many people do not know they are infected with STDs; symptoms may not arise for weeks after one is infected. Therefore people may be unaware that are...
Read More
Legislation Promoting HPV Vaccine Use Does NOT Increase Risky Sexual Behavior

Legislation Promoting HPV Vaccine Use Does NOT Increase Risky Sexual Behavior

  The relatively low HPV vaccine uptake in the US has been attributed in part to fears that vaccinating against the sexually transmitted virus would encourage early or risky sexual behavior in adolescents. To look at the potential impact of pro-vaccine legislation on behaviors, researchers compared CDC surveillance data on teen sexual activity in states in the US with policies promoting or mandating HPV vaccination among adolescents to states without any specific vaccination policies in a study published in Pediatrics this month. They found no difference in reported sexual activity or risk behavior in states with vaccine legislation. These results support a prior study in which researchers looked at diagnosis of sexually transmitted infection as a marker for sexual activity or increased risk behavior, and found that there was no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated adolescents over the five year study period. Despite this consistent, reassuring evidence that vaccinating for HPV will not increase sexual activity among adolescents, the US has...
Read More
Pennsylvania forms maternal mortality committee as the state’s maternal death rate doubles

Pennsylvania forms maternal mortality committee as the state’s maternal death rate doubles

Despite being an extremely wealthy nation and leading global power, the United States boasts the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. And while pregnant women face poor outcomes throughout the country, maternal health outcomes vary drastically by state. In Pennsylvania, home to nearly 13 million residents, the maternal death rate has more than doubled since 1994. This dramatic rise in maternal death reflects a troubling trend in the United States--the U.S. is the only developed country where the maternal mortality rate is rising. Half of these deaths are preventable, according to Dr. Amanda Flicker, a Pennsylvania obstetrician. PA Representative Ryan Mackenzie took lead in creating a maternal mortality review committee, which will identify causes of the rising maternal mortality rate and resources that could help reverse the trend, as well as make recommendations for state-wide interventions. Thirty other states have already established similar committees....
Read More
Sex Ed Goes Global: the Netherlands

Sex Ed Goes Global: the Netherlands

The sex education I received was decent, by American standards. When I was eight, my female peers and I were ushered to the music room, where we ate our boxed lunches on the floor and learned about the menstrual cycle. I shuddered at the thought of ever bleeding from “down there” and spent the next several years terrified that I would get my first period in public. When I was twelve, my middle school health teacher projected grainy slides of STD-afflicted genitals and explained that pregnancy and childbirth would ruin your life. The class did, however, cover various forms of contraception and a very brief lesson on consent. When a classmate asked if sperm could, like, crawl up your leg, we all laughed at her question while secretly waiting to hear the answer. When I was fifteen, and approaching a time in my life where comprehensive sexuality education might be especially useful, my otherwise progressive high school recommended an online...
Read More
Texas fetal tissue burial law trial begins in U.S. federal court

Texas fetal tissue burial law trial begins in U.S. federal court

The federal court hearing of a Texas abortion law began this week. The state claims that the law, which requires the burial or cremation of fetal remains following an abortion or miscarriage, ensures that dignified disposal of fetal remains. Abortion providers and reproductive rights activists, however, argue that the legislation is unnecessary and places an undue burden on patients and clinics alike. Courts have blocked similar laws on fetal tissue disposal in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Indiana. The trial is expected to conclude on Friday....
Read More
Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part 3

Self-Induced Abortion in Times of Crisis, Part 3

Passersby could hardly miss the bright pink stucco building near downtown Jackson, Mississippi in the southern United States. But the unusual color is not all that makes the building unique. The Pink House, as it’s called, is home to the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. With some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the nation, Mississippi is one of 29 states classified as “extremely hostile” to abortion by leading SRHR research organization the Guttmacher Institute. Women currently cannot obtain an abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, the most restrictive ban in the nation. State governor Phil Bryant has repeatedly pledged to make Mississippi “the safest place in American for the unborn child,” joining other lawmakers in a crusade against reproductive freedom.   Yet this ostensible commitment to safety is less a compassion toward Mississippi’s children than a powerful political tool. Despite their professed desire to protect women and children, Governor Bryant and Mississippi state legislators...
Read More
Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenges abstinence-only sex education program

Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenges abstinence-only sex education program

Planned Parenthood affiliates filed suit last week against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), challenging the administration's efforts to impose an abstinence-only until marriage (AOUM) curriculum on 1.2 million young people via the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP program). The suit comes shortly after the administration announced its plans to drastically remake the TPP program with an emphasis on AOUM programming, which has been repeatedly proven ineffective and misleading.  Established by the Obama administration in 2010, the TPP program was intended to reduce teen pregnancy by funding the evidence-based initiatives of individual communities and schools. The program, in combination with other pregnancy prevention initiatives, was effective--birth rates among teens aged 15 to 19 dropped by half from 2007 to 2017. The current administration's move to mandate AOUM curriculum, rebranded as "sexual risk avoidance," threatens to reverse this progress. If successful, Planned Parenthood's lawsuit will ensure that the TPP program continues to be guided by evidence-based principles and that recipients...
Read More