This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Positive Notes on Women's Reproductive Health

For reasons that are always hard for me to fathom, women's reproductive rights seem to be constantly under attack, mainly from men. But there has been some good news lately. Yesterday, a federal judicial panel blocked Mississippi's legislative attempt to shut down its last abortion clinic by requiring that its doctor have a local hospital affiliation. 
A federal appeals panel on Tuesday blocked a Mississippi law that would have shut the sole abortion clinic in the state by requiring its doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, something they had been unable to do.
By a 2-to-1 vote, the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that by imposing a law that would effectively end abortion in the state, Mississippi would illegally shift its constitutional obligations to neighboring states. The ruling is the latest at a time when states, particularly in the South, are increasingly setting new restrictions that supporters say address safety issues and that critics say are intended to shut clinics.
Notice that the ruling was narrowly focused on the fact that this was the last abortion clinic remaining  in Mississippi.
In March, a panel from the same appeals court, composed of different judges, upheld a Texas law requiring admitting privileges, ruling that the closing of some but not all clinics within a state did not present an undue burden to women seeking abortion. About one-third of the abortion clinics in Texas have shut in the last year because of the requirement, leaving 22 open and forcing women in some parts of the state to drive more than 100 miles to obtain an abortion.
If everyone had access to and used effective contraception, including emergency contraception after unprotected intercourse, then the demand for abortion could be lessened and the angst over it alleviated. Thus, it was encouraging to hear that delegates to this year's meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction focused attention on contraception, including discussion of the development of a male contraceptive.
Scientists at the meeting, held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, were less cheerful about the prospects of developing a hormonal contraceptive for men. Christina Wang, a reproductive-health researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, is working to develop such a pill by combining a progestin steroid with testosterone. But she says that pharmaceutical companies' interest in such treatments has cooled over the past decade.
Over the years it seems to me that the prevailing opinion of women is that they would never trust a man who told them he was using a male contraceptive. Men may also not believe a woman who says that she is using a contraceptive, but the consequences of non-use or failure of a contraceptive is clearly vastly greater for women than for men. Getting contraceptives to women seems to be the single biggest problem that needs to be solved here.

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