Roundup: Latina Women Use Drugs and Home Remedies to Induce Abortion; Indian Call Center Fields Questions on Contraception

Emily Douglas

Drugs and "home remedies" are commonly used by Latina women seeking to induce abortion; Obama staff meet with faith groups; jobs in Nigeria require HIV-negative test result; Indian call center fields questions on contraception.

"Home Remedies" to Induce Abortion Commonly Used

New studies reveal common use of Cytotec and other "home
remedies" to induce abortion, particularly amongst Latina women, the New
York Times reports
.  Surveys by Ibis
Reproductive Health Services and Planned Parenthood suggest that "that improper
use of such drugs is one of myriad methods, including questionable homemade
potions, frequently employed in attempts to end pregnancies by women from
fervently anti-abortion cultures despite the widespread availability of safe,
legal and inexpensive abortions in clinics and hospitals."  The Times spoke with experts about use of
Cytotec in the Dominican community in the neighborhood of Washington
Heights, in New York: "Researchers studying the phenomenon cite several factors that lead
Dominican and other immigrant women to experiment with abortifacients: mistrust
of the health-care system, fear of surgery, worry about deportation, concern
about clinic protesters, cost and shame." 
The Times observes, "The pills allow pregnant women a degree of denial
over what is taking place…[M]any women in the neighborhood
talk about the need to bring on – or ‘down’ – their periods, not abortion.
Afterward, they might tell doctors or relatives they had lost the baby."

Obama Staff Meet with Faith Groups

Obama transition team staff have conducted meetings with upwards of 15 religious or
faith-based groups during the transition process, reports
Dan Gilgoff in US News & World Report

And the effort to reach out seems to be genuine: "This is not
something meant to bring in the faith community to keep them happy but to
solicit our views and ideas," says James Winkler, general secretary of the public policy arm of the United Methodist
.  Reports Gilgoff,

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with 10 participants in the Obama transition team’s faith-based meetings paint
a portrait of Obama aides recording priorities and concerns of representatives
from religious denominations and advocacy groups, mostly of the left-leaning
variety. Their policy priorities include economic relief for the poor, new
protections for organized labor, a stepped-up campaign to combat global
warming, improved access to healthcare, and guarantees that the United States
will forgo torture in its war on terror.

Some of the faith-based groups have also pressured the transition team to
make a serious attempt to reduce demand for abortion by improving sex education
and expanding government services for pregnant women.

Dallas Morning News
Editorializes in Support of Ryan-DeLauro Bill

Rep. Tim Ryan and Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s bill to offer incentives and supports
to women carrying pregnancies to term while bolstering access to contraception
was endorsed by the Dallas
Morning News
. The Morning News

One part of this odd couple’s proposal would give women incentives to carry
their fetuses to term. It would remove pregnancy from the list of pre-existing
conditions insurers won’t cover, provide nursing visits to qualifying new
mothers and expand the tax credit families can claim when adopting children.

The second emphasis is equally significant. It would try to curtail the
number of unwanted pregnancies through grants to local agencies that
successfully prevent teen pregnancies. It also would expand contraceptive
education and allow Medicaid to finance more family-planning services.

For more on what Ryan-DeLauro would mean, read Kay Steiger’s True Common
Ground for the 111th Congress

Cellphone Video to Offer Safer Sex Messages

Nurse educator Rachel Jones has secured a $2 million National Institutes of Health grant to study
the effectiveness of 20-minute soap opera episodes containing safer sex
messages that women can view on their cellphones, the Associated
Press reports
. "What we believe will happen is that knowledge alone is not
effective at changing behaviors," Jones said. "We believe that women in the
community will so identify with heroines in the story their own behaviors will
change as well."

Jobs in Nigeria
Require HIV-Negative Test Result

An increasing number of Nigerian employers require an HIV-negative test
result before offering applicants employment, reports  An applicant who was denied a position
because of her HIV status interviewed by AllAfrica didn’t try to argue her case in court: "Her silence, like in other cases, were informed by
three principal factors – lack of faith in the ability of Nigeria’s law courts
to dispense justice speedily, desire to avoid the stigma that the process of
litigation can bring and, to some extent, insufficient evidence to challenge
such discrimination in court."

Indian Call Center Answers Questions on Contraception, Reproductive Health

A new Indian call center will field questions on contraception, reproductive
health, and family planning, in an effort to curb population growth in the
country.  Reports
the Washington Post
, "The National Population Stabilization Fund seeks to
pare down the growth to sustainable levels by means of contraception and
reproductive and child health care."  On the call center’s clients, the Post writes,

Many calls are from hinterlands underserved by health-care and
social workers. From May to October, the center received more than 25,000
calls, and most of the questions were about contraceptive methods. Callers
often faltered for a few minutes before they summoned the courage to ask
questions. The 17 agents — men and women — said they calmed nervous callers
by speaking to them in local dialects or addressing them as "brother"
or "sister" to build an informal rapport. Most calls were made from the
privacy of cellphones, which are common in Indian villages. Some men called on
behalf of their wives.

New Initiatives Study, Address Teen Dating Violence

Texas, Rhode Island
and New York
have made strides recently in addressing teen dating violence, reports
the New York Times
.  Texas now requires school districts to include
definitions of teen dating violence in school safety codes; Rhode
Island will educate students about teen dating violence; and New York now allows
teens in dating relationship to obtain restraining orders.  Reports the Times, "Although there are no
definitive national studies on the prevalence of abuse in adolescent
relationships, public health research indicates that the rate of such abusive
relationships has hovered around 10 percent. Experts say the abuse appears to
be increasing as more harassment, name-calling and ridicule takes place among
teenagers on the Internet and by cellphone."

Dr. Peter Piot, Head of UN AIDS Program, Retires

Dr. Peter Piot, head of the United Nations AIDS program for all of its 13
years, retires this Wednesday, reports
the New York Times
. In an interview with the Times, Piot outlined his
legacy: "[Piot] said his program had raised global public concern about AIDS;
vastly increased the money spent to try to blunt the pandemic; lowered the
price of life-extending antiretroviral drugs for millions of infected people in
poor countries; and gave a voice to socially marginalized groups like gay men
and injecting drug users, who are at great risk for AIDS yet had virtually no
say in poor countries."

Dr. Piot’s deputy, Michel Sidibé of Mali, will be his successor.

Former Crisis Pregnancy
Center Counselors on Why
She Quit

On the blog Keep
Calm and Carry On
, a former crisis pregnancy center counselor discusses why
she stopped volunteering.  Among her
reasons are: "They pushed controversial, inconclusive medical and
psychological "science" on emotionally vulnerable and often
uneducated women," "They played on the emotions of extremely vulnerable women," and
"They were vehemently against birth control."

Women’s Health Heroes of 2009

Bodies, Ourselves offers a roundup of women’s health heroes
who passed away in
2009, including Pamela Morgan, Barbara Seaman and La Leche League founder
Edwina Froelich.

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