Roundup: Teen Birth Rate Increases in 26 States; Focus on the Family Opposes Daschle Confirmation

Emily Douglas

Dr. Sanjay Gupta Obama's pick for surgeon general; teen birth rate increases in 26 states; Focus on the Family opposes Daschle confirmation; maternity leave healthier for mothers, babies; University of Wisconsin clinic plans to offer second-trimester abortions; Rick Warren's Uganda connections.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta Obama’s Pick for Surgeon General

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, is
Obama’s pick for surgeon general
, and, good news, he opposes Bush’s provider
conscience expansion: Newsbusters
that Gupta has said "…[I]t’s a bit of a slippery slope. I mean,
when you say, I’m not going to provide care based on my own conscience…you
can imagine that opens up a whole wide range of possibilities, in terms of what
is going to be treated and what is not." 

American Prospect blogger Ezra
is pleased, too, suggesting that we "Expect Gupta to be doing more
than health education…According to Howard Kurtz, Gupta has negotiated ‘an
expanded role in providing health policy advice.’ And if he’s advising the
project, he’ll almost certainly be advocating for it, too. Which means Sanjay
Gupta, arguably the nation’s most trusted health care authority, will back on
TV screens arguing for Obama’s universal health care plan, lending it his
credibility as a doctor, a trusted media presence, and the nation’s surgeon

Teen Birth Rate
Increases in 26 States

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Both the number of teens giving birth and the rate at which
teens are giving birth are going up, says the National Center
for Health Statistics.  USA
Today concludes
that "the rise in teens having babies is geographically
broad-based and represents most regions of the USA."  Does this mark a departure from a 30 year
trend in decreasing teen birth rates?  "It
occurred among teens 15-17 and 17-19 and among whites, blacks and Hispanics,
and now we know it occurred in most of the states," said Kristin Moore, senior
scholar at the nonprofit Child Trends. "It appears to be quite a general
pattern, which makes me think it might not be a blip but a turn-around." 

Focus on the Family
Opposes Daschle Confirmation

Sen. Tom Daschle is up for Senate confirmation as
President-Elect Obama’s new Secretary of Health and Human Services on Thursday,
and Focus on the Family is encouraging its members to urge their senators to
vote no.  Right
Wing Watch reports
that Focus on the Family has issued an action alert
opposing the confirmation of the (their words) "pro-abortion lawmaker."
that if Daschle plays a role in Obama’s health care reform, it "could
possibly include abortion coverage or mandating that hospitals or insurance
companies cover abortions." 

Maternity Leave
Healthier for Mothers, Babies

A new UC Berkeley study finds that when mothers take maternity leave before delivery, the rate
of Caesarean section deliveries sharply decreases, reports the
Contra Costa Times

Women who took
a break from work after their 35th week of pregnancy were four times less
likely to require the costly surgery, compared with women who worked almost up
to their delivery date, according the study, which appears in the
January/February issue of Women’s Health Issues…."We don’t have a culture
in the United States of taking rest before the birth of a child, because there
is an assumption that the real work comes after the baby is born," said
Sylvia Guendelman, professor of maternal and child health at UC Berkeley’s School
of Public Health and lead author of the study.


University of Wisconsin Clinic Plans to Offer Second-Trimester
Abortions; Groups Protest

The Alliance Defense Fund is claiming that the University of Wisconsin’s
plans to provide second-trimester abortions at a Madison clinic will be illegal because
state-paid doctors will provide the abortions.  But "the abortions themselves would be paid
for by insurance and patient fees, not public money," the Chicago
Tribune reports
.  Plans for the
clinic were developed after the area’s sole doctor providing second-trimester abortions

Rick Warren’s
Connections in Uganda

On the Daily
, Max Blumenthal takes a close look at the oft-lauded work Rick
Warren has done on HIV/AIDS in Africa.  Writes Blumenthal, "[A]n investigation into Warren’s
involvement in Africa reveals a web of
alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches
to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren’s allies have rolled back key elements of one of
the continent’s most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda…"  Blumenthal details the way in which a
successful evidence-based prevention program in Uganda
was dismantled in favor of an abstinence-only approach, with support from Warren.

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