In November, the U.S. Supreme Court helped strike down the harmful anti-choice “Oklahoma Ultrasound Act,” which forced a woman to have an ultrasound and be shown the images before she could have a medical abortion. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case means that a lower court ruling overturning the law will stand, and THAT means that Oklahoma women can still access medical abortion care without being subjected to unnecessary procedures mandated by politicians. This is a small victory at a time when a record number of anti-choice measures are being introduced and passed by state legislatures.
Providing free condoms in schools helps encourage sexually active young people to protect themselves and their partners. In October, the respected American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released an update to its condom policy, and encouraged high schools to make free or low-cost condoms available to their sexually active students. The AAP wants doctors to support correct, consistent condom use (such as by providing condoms in their offices), and encourage parents to talk with their kids about condoms.
In November, Adrian Garcia, Sheriff of Harris County, Texas, implemented a new policy articulating that “discrimination or harassment of any kind based on sexual orientation or gender identity is strictly prohibited,” when it comes to searching, booking, and housing inmates. This policy, the first in Texas, is intended to protect inmates from sexual assault and abuse. Houston, which is located in Harris County, has the country’s third-largest county jail, and about 3% of its inmates identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Millions of people turn to herbal supplements like Echinacea and St. John’s Wort every day to enhance for their health, but most don’t know the process for monitoring the safety of supplements operates on the “honor code.” In November, the New York Times reported on DNA testing that revealed many supplements contain diluted herbs… or just cheap fillers and no herbs at all. Consumers should proceed with caution – those pills may only contain powdered rice and weeds, and might include fillers that are dangerous!
Texas legislators may have only cared about closing Planned Parenthood clinics when, in 2011, they cut state family planning funding, but now it seems they were more successful than they could have hoped. A wide variety of clinics have been forced to close, and state contractors are now seeing 77 percent fewer clients. Family planning centers saw nearly 212,000 patients in 2010, but only a little more than 47,000 in 2013. This is terrible news in a state with among the highest number of uninsured people and huge barriers to getting care.
No, sadly, it’s not a headline from the Onion, a pregnant woman’s fetus was forcibly removed via Cesarean section without her consent. The Italian woman was in England for work training when she had a panic attack (possibly after missing her bi-polar medication) and was hospitalized. Five weeks later, Essex Social Services got a court order that allowed the agency to sedate the woman and perform the C-section. The child, now 15 months old, remains with social services although family members have offered to raise her. No efforts were made to contact either the woman’s next of kin or Italian social services prior to the operation. The story was first published in December 2012, and now the U.K. Parliament is investigating the matter.