Significant decrease in rate of abortion in the United States

Significant decrease in rate of abortion in the United States

Story by Amelia Steinbach, T'21 Data that were recently released from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that the number of abortions in the United States has decreased by 24% over the last decade. In reporting the data through 2015, the CDC noted that this drop was almost certainly related to a lower number of unintended pregnancies, the largest contributor to induced abortion, as well as increased use of effective contraception methods. The overall trend is not consistent for women of different demographic groups, such as race, class, and marital and motherhood status. While white and black women together make up the vast majority of abortions, black women account for nearly 20 more abortions per 1000 women than their white counterparts. Women who were not married accounted for the majority of those seeking an abortion, as do women who already have children. Over 90% of abortion occur before the 13-week mark and abortions that do not occur during the first trimester...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Law meant to limit access to abortion in the Ohio state legislature

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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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...
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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...
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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....
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