Medicine

Plan B’s label is wrong, not even remotely close to abortion

Before we even get started: The universally accepted definition of “pregnancy” within medical science begins at implantation — at the moment a fertilized egg adheres to the wall of the uterus. That’s when pregnancy begins. Not at ovulation, not at ejaculation, not when the winning sperm meets the egg and wriggles its way in. Implantation. But what if you’re comfortable rejecting medical science out of hand and insisting that emergency birth control — the morning-after pill — is an abortifacient for preventing implantation? Well, you’re still wrong. But that particular mistake is a little easier to make.

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HHS lifts the Medicare ban on gender-confirming surgery

Just in time for LGBT Pride Month: The Department of Health and Human Services has lifted the national policy barring Medicare from paying for gender-confirming surgery. Decisions will still be left up to regional administrators, but claims will be subject to individualized review and will no longer be automatically rejected for gender-related procedures, just like any other medical procedure. The blanket exclusion will be fully lifted by June 30.

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Catholic dominance over hospitals endangers women

My latest at Al Jazeera America is about how Catholic health care services put women’s health at risk:

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AL HB31: Where saving a woman’s life becomes a question of conscience

Conscience laws. Fucking conscience laws. In this case, the fucking “Health Care Rights of Conscience Act,” Alabama HB31, which would allow the entire hospital staff, including but not limited to physicians, nurses, pharmacists, counselors, and social workers, to refuse to provide medical care in situations that would “violate their conscience.”

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Obamacare does not violate employers’ religious freedom

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear two cases about the Affordable Care Act, brought by businesses who claim their religious freedom is violated by the mandate to cover contraception. I’m writing about it in the Guardian this week:

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North Carolina will offer some amount of compensation to victims of its eugenics program

The state of North Carolina has passed a $10 million compensation plan for victims of its eugenics program, which ran from 1929 to 1974. It’s estimated that 7,600 people were forcibly sterilized under the program; 177 have since been identified.

[Strong content note for ableism and racism]

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A Maternal Health Revolution in Republic of Congo

A truly remarkable piece of reporting (including actual good news on maternal health) by Jina Moore in Al Jazeera America:

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo – At first glance, Central University Hospital in Brazzaville looks like so many other hospitals in so many other African capitals – home to dimly lit waiting rooms and dirty floors. But inside the freshly painted mint-green walls of the hospital’s maternity ward, a revolution is happening.

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The Feminist Anti-Contraception Crusaders

The right-wing anti-sex “real woman” backlash seems to have hit the feminist movement this month, with the publication of books telling women to swear off the Pill and to swear off sex. I’m writing about it in the Guardian: That we’ve come a long way, baby, but gender relations remain fraught, and living with a wide variety of choices that look wide-open but end up constrained is much more challenging than having one or two paths to choose from. It’s easier, in many ways, to offer simple proscriptive advice about “real” femininity than to have to figure out how to be a woman when the definition of “womanhood” is increasingly broad:

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