Progressive Voter Guide for Reproductive Health and Justice Issues
Early voting is open in many states now and the November 4 election is less than three weeks away, which makes it time for publications to distill their writing on the issues into easy-to-digest voter guides. Yesterday Alternet.org’s Reproductive Justice and Gender section released their voter guide succinctly covering the presidential candidates’ stances on ten issues important to reproductive justice and women’s rights.
We have gathered the best writing on the core issues important to reproductive health and justice and put them in a series called Where They Stand. Issues covered in these collected posts include birth control, sex education, equal pay, maternal health, HIV and AIDS, and access to abortion.
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Today is Blog Action Day 2008
Blog Action Day 2008 is focusing on a root cause of many global social ills: poverty. Our friends at UNDispatch.com have a couple of posts worth checking out including one testing your knowledge of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and a powerful video stressing investment in young girls as one of the most effective ways to reduce global poverty. Extreme poverty also exists in the United States. Also check out Half in Ten, a campaign to cut American poverty in half in the next ten years.
South Dakota Health Lawyers Concerned About Abortion Ban’s Vagueness
Lawyers for Sanford Health, the largest medical facility in the Dakota region, claim that South Dakota’s proposed abortion ban is unclear and could have “substantial legal implications.” The analysis, done by Sanford lawyers with input from doctors, concludes:
“For those instances where a pregnant woman faces uncertain but potentially very serious health risks, Initiated Measure 11 will require a physician to choose between possibly committing a felony or subjecting a pregnant woman to a higher degree of medical risk than what would otherwise be clinically desirable.”
The initiative would criminalize abortions unless performed to save the life or health of the pregnant woman or in instances of rape or incest.
While proponents call the measure “actually very doctor-friendly,” the memo from Sanford’s lawyers claims that:
Despite having exceptions that, “on their face, appear to cover … instances in which pregnancies are permitted to be terminated in accordance with Sanford policy, Initiated Measure 11, if approved, will have substantial legal implications for Sanford Health and its providers,” the memo stated.
The health-of-the-mother exception “imposes a standard that is not clearly defined,” the document said.
“Medical facilities and providers have learned, through the malpractice arena, that whether a physician’s clinical judgment comports with ‘accepted standards for medical practice’ can be a matter of debate.”
HIV Vaccine Researchers Say Last Year’s Halted Trial Was Not a Failure
Echoing sentiment from August’s International AIDS Conference in Mexico City researchers at the AIDS Vaccine Conference in South Africa this week said that last year’s halted STEP AIDS vaccine trial “moved the field light years forward.”
Alan Bernstein, executive director of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, said: “We have learned a lot from clinical research (trials) on issues nobody could’ve anticipated. For example, with circumcision we had no clue respondents in a vaccine trial might be affected.”
The STEP study suggests that a sub-group of men, who were uncircumcised and had already been exposed to the adenovirus, might be at increased risk of getting HIV.
Bernstein said: “We need to move away from the mindset that a trial does not work if we have no vaccine (at the end of it). The trials are there to interrogate the human immune response to immunogens.”
HIV Stigmatization Strong in Nigeria
Women living with HIV in Lagos, Nigeria expressed grief from the extreme stigmatization they face in society and even in their own homes. One woman told AllAfrica.com that her older children had “told her that she was no longer their mother, deserted her and went to live abroad” because of her HIV status. The false message distributed by the Nigerian media about persons positive with HIV, that it is the person’s own fault as they must have been promiscuous to contract HIV, has confirmed false ideas spread by rumor and worsened the stigma problem. Many people, especially women, will not even consider being tested for HIV because they are afraid of being cast out by society and even their own families. Countering stigma with a campaign based on facts is an important step in controlling the spread of HIV.