Reproductive Health During COVID-19

Reproductive Health During COVID-19

Maternal health and reproductive care were already facing known disparities before COVID-19 made its impact on the world.  In 2017, more than 800 women in the world died daily from preventable pregnancy and childbirth related causes across the world (Witter, 2020). Also, at that point in time, 10 million girls ages 15-19 were experiencing unplanned pregnancies every year (Witter, 2020). So, it is to be expected that when the world faces a pandemic that causes an incline in challenges to accessing resources, that poorer health outcomes are going to be experienced amongst this same threatened group (Witter, 2020).  During a health crisis, funds are reallocated and shifted to different resources (Witter, 2020), thus having a monumental impact on an already vulnerable population. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sana Frontiérs partnered with governments around the world in an attempt to prioritize reproductive services as essential during the COVID-19 pandemic (Kuehn, 2020). The cutbacks in maternal health funds alone has the potential to lead to 113,000...
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Reproductive Health Restrictions in the U.S. Can Affect Baby Health

Reproductive Health Restrictions in the U.S. Can Affect Baby Health

Recent research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, has found that state reproductive rights policies have the ability to affect the health of babies born within the United States. The research concluded that women in states with less restrictive reproductive policies delivered “healthier babies” in terms of baby weight. It found that these women demonstrated a smaller risk of baby low birth weight than those of their counterparts in states with more reproductive health policy restrictions.  The restrictiveness of states’ reproductive policies was evaluated depending on factors including: mandatory abortion waiting periods, eligibility for Medicaid family planning and more. States were divided and categorized into groups of having the most, least, or moderately restrictive policies. Amongst these categories, 20 states had the most restrictive policies, 16 states the least restrictive policies (including Washington D.C.) and 15 states had moderately restrictive reproductive policies. Following this comparison, a 7% lower low birth weight risk was observed on average for women in...
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Judge Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court Nomination

Judge Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court Nomination

Following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there has been a lot of conversation surrounding who will take her place on the Supreme Court. President Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, has been under a lot of scrutiny surrounding her confirmation hearing.  Judge Amy Coney Barrett currently serves on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Prior to this position, she clerked for judges such as Judge Laurence H. Silberman and Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Barrett has typically held conservative stances on topics such as immigration, gun control, LGBTQ+ rights, and reproductive rights.  Her rulings on the Court of Appeals have even further shown these stances. Judge Barrett has argued that states have the right to ban abortion if they do not like the reasoning. This argument was built despite the fact that her state, Indiana, had not been reviewing the issue. Additionally, the precedent set in Roe v. Wade made it clear that the government does not have...
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Trump and “Birth Tourism”

Trump and “Birth Tourism”

A development to the U.S. visa policy instituted by President Trump occurred this past week on January 24th—officials now have the authority to deny a woman a tourist visa if they think that the woman is pregnant and coming to the U.S. in order to give birth (CNN). In analyzing this rule, it is pertinent to note the 14th amendment which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States," and it is relevant because even if a child’s parents are not citizens of the U.S., if they are born on U.S. soil, they can claim citizenship (NPR). The State Department defended the rule by stating “birth tourism poses risks to national security” and women wanting to secure citizenship for their children should not be allowed into the country (NPR). This rule however does not apply to 39 countries, the majority of which are in Europe, that...
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Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Last week, an abortion-rights bill targeted at public universities in California was passed inspired by a student-led movement at the University of California, Berkeley. If signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the next month, this legislation would mandate all on-campus health centers of California public universities to offer medication abortion by 2023. In the state of California, this legislation would therefore directly apply to 34 college campuses. Medication abortion requires taking two different pills which are approved by law to end pregnancy during the first 10 weeks. There have already been around $10.3 million dollars of donations raised privately that would go toward training staff at campus health centers and equipping the centers with proper medical devices for medication abortion. A study published in August 2018 directly analyzed California college students desire and access to medication abortion and concluded, “College students face cost, scheduling, and travel barriers to abortion care. Offering medication abortion on campus could reduce these...
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Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Abortion-Rights Bill Introduced in California Aimed at Public Universities

Last week, an abortion-rights bill targeted at public universities in California was passed inspired by a student-led movement at the University of California, Berkeley. If signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom during the next month, this legislation would mandate all on-campus health centers of California public universities to offer medication abortion by 2023. In the state of California, this legislation would therefore directly apply to 34 college campuses. Medication abortion requires taking two different pills which are approved by law to end pregnancy during the first 10 weeks. There have already been around $10.3 million dollars of donations raised privately that would go toward training staff at campus health centers and equipping the centers with proper medical devices for medication abortion. A study published in August 2018 directly analyzed California college students desire and access to medication abortion and concluded, “College students face cost, scheduling, and travel barriers to abortion care. Offering medication abortion on campus could reduce these...
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Links Between Hormone Replacement Therapies and Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

Links Between Hormone Replacement Therapies and Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

Hormone replacement therapies (HRT) are often prescribed to women facing menopause to help relieve harsh symptoms like hot flashes and dryness. The transition of menopause often begins for women around the ages 45 and 55 and is caused by a shift in the body’s sex hormone production. Estrogen and progesterone are two of the most commonly used hormones and there are currently around 12 million users of HRT. A study recently published in the journal The Lancet based on an analysis of data from 58 other studies on HRT, revealed that the longer a woman uses HRT, the greater the risk she has of developing breast cancer. It also concluded that in comparison to women who use estrogen-only hormone therapies, women who use estrogen-progestogen hormone therapies have greater risks for breast cancer. This research is important for both doctors and women to take into consideration before deciding to begin hormone replacement therapy and Dr. Janice Rymer, gynecologist and vice president...
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The Trump Administration’s Domestic Gag Rule

Since running for President and into his presidency, Donald Trump and his Administration have sought to undermine women’s access to reproductive health care. Last year, the Trump Administration proposed changes to Title X—which is federal grant program that provides funding for comprehensive family planning services. Known as the “domestic gag rule,” the proposed changes “gag” or bar healthcare providers from referring their patients to abortion providers. Moreover, the rule would drastically alter access to reproductive health care, including birth control and other family planning services, for millions of women who depend on Title X funded clinics. When the Administration released the final version of the rule changes, reproductive health organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association immediately challenged the rule. Despite a preliminary injunction that prevented the rule’s implementation, on July 3, a panel of three judges lifted the injunction. Devastatingly, last week by 7-4...
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Let’s End HPV-Related Cancers Briefing Coverage

Let’s End HPV-Related Cancers Briefing Coverage

    In the U.S. alone, over 33,000 HPV-related cancers are diagnosed annually among men and women and globally, there are over 630,000 cases. The theme of the briefing, “Let’s End HPV-Related Cancers” held in Washington, D.C. on June 27, 2019 centered around how to prevent the 6 cancers caused by HPV: cervical cancer, oropharyngeal cancers, anal cancer, penile cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) is a leader in the House of Representatives bringing legislation to the United States to meet the WHO goal to eliminate HPV-related cancers. The tools to eliminate these cancers do exist and Representative Castor expressed optimism for saving lives and never seeing these cancers again. Starting with cervical cancer, the approach of adding vaccination, screening, and treatment is necessary for elimination. Australia, Canada, and Rwanda are three countries which have declared they will be the first to eliminate cervical cancer and the U.S. must also show initiative with this mindset.     ...
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The Irony of the Mexico City Policy

In his first days as President of the United States, Donald Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy. Also known as the Global Gag Rule, the policy “gags” international NGOs receiving U.S. aid by not allowing them to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning.” First enacted by President Ronald Reagan, U.S. funding for critical reproductive healthcare abroad has been a partisan issue ever since with every Republican President instating the policy and every Democratic repealing it. President Trump’s reinstatement of the policy greatly expanded its parameters and includes a wide range of global health programs such as HIV funding through PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). The expansion of the policy diminished the provision of services by international NGOS who weren’t previously affected by the policy and who feared losing critical funding from the U.S. Last week, a study published in the Lancet found that when the Mexico City Policy is instated, rates of abortion...
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