Roundup: A Visit to a “Pro-Life” Pharmacy, Obama’s Win a Victory for Science

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Roundup: A Visit to a “Pro-Life” Pharmacy, Obama’s Win a Victory for Science

Brady Swenson

Amanda Hess of the Washington City Paper visits the nation's newest "pro-life" pharmacy; Stem cell scientists celebrate President-elect Obama's victory; The youth of Choice USA write an open letter to Obama; Sexual violence in the DRC reaches epidemic proportions.

A Visit to a "Pro-Life" Pharmacy

Amanda Hess of the Washington City Paper writes very engagingly about her visit to the nation’s newest "pro-life" pharmacy in Chantilly, Virginia just outside of Washington, DC.  Click over to read the entire account but here’s a little preview in case you want to save it for later:

Atop a stack of leaflets about herbal supplements sits a fact-sheet for
the Doctor’s Natural Therapy brand of Natural Hormone Balancing Creams.
The creams, made of “Natural USP Progesterone from wild yam,” offer up
a natural alternative to the therapeutic effects of oral contraception
and hormone replacement therapy. “Have you experienced any of these
symptoms?” the fact sheet asks before listing 21 problems the ointment
resolves: PMS, Hot Flashes, Irregular Menstruation, Cramping, Mood
Swings, Hormone-Related Headaches, Fatigue, Irritability, Anxiety,
Weight Gain, Water Retention, Confusion, Breast Tenderness,
Miscarriages, Infertility, Decreased Libido, Dryness, Bone Loss, Hair
Loss, Insomnia, Premature Aging.

I pause briefly at “Confusion” and wonder how the wild yam came to hold the key to curing all symptoms that ail my gender.

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But Divine Mercy Care stocks a stronger alternative to birth
control: information. Near the exit sits a stack of “Art of Natural
Family Planning” student guides distributed by pro-life group Couple to
Couple League International. I leaf through a copy as I sit on a wicker
chair, waiting for another customer to arrive to provide sound bites
explaining the pro-life pharmacy phenomenon. “How does contraception
availability compromise your trust in a pharmacist?” I want to ask.
“What role does holy water play in your choice of pharmacy?”



Obama’s Win a Victory for Science

Stem cell researchers celebrated President-elect Barack Obama’s victory.  After President Bush banned expansion of research on embryonic stem cells Obama’s victory was "like watching the Berlin Wall fall," said Dr. Clayton Smith, a hematologist who moved to Vancouver five years ago from the U.S. because of the opportunities for research:

University of B.C. professor and researcher Dr. Jane Roskams said
many scientists have viewed Bush as a foe because of his
religious-based opposition to their work on human embryonic cell lines
and the vetoes he’s used to halt funding for such research.

However, Obama has pledged full support of such research, stating recently:

strongly support expanding research on stem cells. I believe the
restrictions that President Bush has placed on funding of human
embryonic stem cell research have handcuffed our scientists and
hindered our ability to compete with other nations.

"As president, I will lift the current administration’s ban on federal
funding of research on embryonic stem cell lines . . . and I will
ensure that all research on stem cells is conducted ethically and with
rigorous oversight."

The article continues with examples of research scientists are anxious to start once the pro-science Obama takes office after the January 20, 2009 inauguration.


Dear Mr. President-Elect Obama

Choice USA‘s blog has a letter addressed to the next president of the United States that does a great job of pointing out the many flawed policies of the current administration and what Obama will need to do to correct those flaws.  And it seems telling that this long list put together by young pro-choice advocates starts with abstinence-only education:

Federally funded abstinence only programs have left a generation
unprepared to make informed decisions about their sexual and
reproductive health. In this election young people have shown
themselves to be highly motivated critical thinkers. Mr. Obama, we need
you to fulfill your promise of providing federally funded comprehensive
sexuality education that respects our intelligence and ability to make
decisions for ourselves.

The letter goes on to address concerns about federally funding Crisis Pregnancy Center, establishing access to health care as a human right, repealing the Hyde amendment and ending the Global Gag Rule:

The past eight years have hurt us, but this movement has been fighting
an uphill battle for a lot longer than that. For over thirty years we
have watched as the right to have an abortion has been limited more and
more. If young women can’t afford the procedure what good does that
right do them? It’s time, finally time, to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
It’s time to trust women to make decisions about their own bodies, not
to limit when medical care should and should not be available based on
moralistic ideas that ignore lived experience. Choice needs to be

And end the Global Gag Rule. Please, let healthcare providers do their jobs.

The pro-choice youth of the US have a clear picture of what we want our
future to be and are not afraid to demand of government what we need to
realize that vision. I look forward to working with you, to an
impassioned debate of ideas, to forming a government and culture in the
business of ensuring human rights for all. Watch and listen, Mr.
President-elect, and work with us, as a movement of young people turns
our dream of Reproductive Freedom into reality. 


Sexual Violence in DRC Reaches "Epidemic Proportions"

Sexual violence in the DR Congo has reached "epidemic proportions", and
the new wave of heavy fighting is putting tens of thousands more women
and young girls at risk, says CARE. CARE, in partnership with other
agencies, is starting a new program to support the increased number of
battered and traumatized women. 

"We know rape is typically under-reported, and feel that this number
doesn’t even come close to reflecting the actual number of cases – the
actual number is unimaginable," said Elisabeth Roesch, Gender and
Advocacy Advisor for CARE in DR Congo, based in Goma. "With this recent
fighting, we won’t know the full extent right away, because there is
such stigma around sexual violence. Women don’t come forward for fear
of rejection, reprisal, and because of continued insecurity. They need
safety, medical care, support and encouragement, and this is a crucial
gap in DR Congo today."

The ongoing conflict in DR Congo has created one of the most
appalling wars on women in the world. Rape has become a tool of war,
spreading HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, destroying
families and traumatizing the women who are attacked, and their
children who are often witness to this violence or are attacked