Roundup: Medical Abortion, Now an Option in Australia

Amy Dempsey

Medical Abortion, Now an Option in Australia; Family Planning in Sri Lanka; Ultrasound Law in Oklahoma

Medical Abortion, Now an Option in Australia
Medical abortion
is a hotly debate issue in Australia, whose Medical Health Minister has
not allowed any use of the drug mifepristone in the country, according
to politics.co.uk.com.

The Theurapeutic Goods Administration, which monitors the drug in
Australia, now permits it to be prescribed by medical professionals for
medical abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy at Marie
Stopes International, a sexual and reproductive health care provider,
the article said.

The group has centers in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, the ACT and Western Australia.

Medical
abortion has been recommended by experts because it is the safest and
most effective method of terminating a pregnancy, according to the article

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"Access and choice are constant issues women face with all sexual and
reproductive healthcare services," said Jill Michelson, National
Clinical Adviser for Marie Stopes International in Australia. "Our
service will now increase the choices available to Australian women
faced with an unplanned pregnancy."
"While surgical abortion is a very safe procedure and is the preferred
choice for many women, medical methods of abortion also have a number
of advantages," said Michelson. "Our clients say that the most
important features of a medical abortion are that it is non-invasive
and private. In addition, no surgery or anaesthetic is required during
a medical abortion."


Family Planning in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the Health
Ministry is implementing a family planning and nutrition program to
displaced persons (most displaced persons are women) in welfare camps,
the LankaTimes reported. The main target of the program are women who are breastfeeding, or those who were married at a young age.

Under
the plan, which will start August 19, doctors have been ordered to
create awareness about family planning options to women by giving them
tubectomy operations if the request it, offering them birth control
pills and administering Depo-Provera shots, the article said.

According to the LankaTimes, the program’s spokesman said, "One of the main reasons for their poor nutritional
condition is early marriage. If they are to produce healthy babies,
they should be strong."

Ultrasound Law in Oklahoma
In
Oklahoma, the law requires that a woman who wants an abortion must get
an ultrasound prior to terminating her pregnancy. A doctor must also
describe the images of the fetus on the screen to the woman, according
to The Associated Press.

Enforcement of the law was blocked in October 2008, but is set to be enforced starting November 1.

On Tuesday, a judge is set to listen to arguments from Nova Health Systems, which is challenging the law. 


OTHER NEWS TO NOTE:

August 10: Politics.co.uk: Marie Stopes International: Medical abortion: Finally an option for Australian women 

August 9: SFGate: Vote could signal start of new-look GOP

August 9: Mercury News/NYTimes: Separating the basics of health policy from the bombast of partisanship 

August 10: ABC News Australia:Abortion pill ‘would benefit rural women’

August 9: Reproductive Rights Prof Blog:A Call on Nicaragua to Reverse its Abortion Ban

August 9: Kansas City Star:FBI’s investigation of Tiller killing looks at Roeder’s jail visitors

August 10: LA Times:Sorting out claims about healthcare legislation

August 9: Media Matters: Gallup, abortion & the media (and why Ramesh Ponnuru owes me an apology)  

August 9: Gazette.com:Republicans at a crossroads: Retrench or reach out        

August 9: Freep: New methods of contraception mean women must weigh choices 

August 9: Energy Publisher:UN treaty will not create abortion rights 

August 9: Chicago Tribune:In bills, still room for debate over abortion and illegal immigrants

August 9: Herald News:LETTER: Health care bill should not include abortion, 08-09-09  

August 9: Boston Globe:Adoption group tries to foster open relationships 

August 9: Lanka Times: Family planning and nutrition program for IDPs in Vanni welfare camps

August 9: WaPo: Deeds to Wage Risky Attack On Opponent’s Abortion Views

August 8: Optimum Population Blog:A third of GPs to shun practices giving abortions

August 8: AP: Arguments set on law requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasound 

August 8: Examiner: Tips on handling the adoption waiting game 

August 8: Catholic Online:U.S. Bishops’ Official: Mandated Abortion Coverage Threatens Health Care Reform

August 8: Optimum Population Blog: PCTs block LARCs in bid to cut costs  

August 7: Examiner: Why religion hurts the abortion debate 

August 9: The Hindu: It’s time to act   

August 8: Daily Clarity:They know not what they do…Catholicism redux  

August 8: Examiner: Obamacare could lead to published abortion records

August 8: China View: "Condom painting" helps promote sex education in China  

August 8: Feminists for Choice: Choice After the Bush Administration

August 8: One News Now: Pro-life pastor plans appeal to 9th Circuit  

August 7: Examiner: Plan B and the case of faux morality in medicine 

August 8: Catholic Exchange: Let the Taxpayers Beware  

August 7: River Falls Journal: Letter: Nothing listed about abortion  

August 7: Catholic News Agency: Basque bishop prays abortion reform will fail in Spain 

August 7: Feministe:The Last Abortion Doctor

August 7: Daily Dish: That Pro-Life Majority?  

August 7: Examiner: Poll: Americans closely divided on abortion, regionally divided by religion 

August 7: LifeSiteNews:Knights of Columbus Reaffirm Ban on Invites and Honors for Abortion Supporters

August 7: LifeNews: So-Called Common Ground Abortion Bill Requires Tax-Funded Abortions Nationwide  

August 7: NYTimes: Having Children Brings High Carbon Impact 

August 7: U.S. News & World Report: Gallup Poll: Americans Evenly Split on Abortion Between ‘Pro-Life’ and ‘Pro-Choice’  

August 7: HuffPo: Truth-telling and Responsibility in Health Care 

August 7: Town Hall: Abortion Can’t be Swept Aside 

August 7: Feminists for Choice: Trans Men and Pregnancy Prevention 

August 7: Reuters:Poor nations’ teens birth control use inconsistent

August 7: LifeNews: Kansas Pro-Life Advocates Press State Officials to Probe Abortionist Leroy Carhart   

August 7: Get Religion: Taxpayer funding of abortion 

August 7: HuffPo: Abortion Ship Forced To Cease Operations After Passage Of Dutch Pregnancy Law

August 7: LifeNews: Pro-Life Groups Disappointed Senate Confirms Pro-Abortion Sonia Sotomayor 

August 7: Children and Young People Now: Contraceptive pill on offer without prescription  

August 7: Daily News: "Family Guy" has gone too far: upcoming episode censored

August 7: LifeNews:New Jersey Polls Show Governor Candidate Christie Leading Pro-Abortion Corzine 

August 7: WNYC: Moms in NYC Less Likely to Use Birth Control

August 7: Examiner: Pro-Life Amendment to Healthcare reform rejected 

August 7: Wichita Eagle: Abortion opponents start to fight Nebraska doctor planning clinic in Kansas 

August 7: Docuticker: Contraceptive Use Among Postpartum Women – 12 States and New York City, 2004-2006   

August 7: Vindy.com: U.S. Rep. Ryan clears air on his abortion stand, counters woman’s claims

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

Roundups Sexual Health

This Week in Sex: The Sexually Transmitted Infections Edition

Martha Kempner

A new Zika case suggests the virus can be transmitted from an infected woman to a male partner. And, in other news, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, and an experimental chlamydia vaccine shows signs of promise.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Zika May Have Been Sexually Transmitted From a Woman to Her Male Partner

A new case suggests that males may be infected with the Zika virus through unprotected sex with female partners. Researchers have known for a while that men can infect their partners through penetrative sexual intercourse, but this is the first suspected case of sexual transmission from a woman.

The case involves a New York City woman who is in her early 20s and traveled to a country with high rates of the mosquito-borne virus (her name and the specific country where she traveled have not been released). The woman, who experienced stomach cramps and a headache while waiting for her flight back to New York, reported one act of sexual intercourse without a condom the day she returned from her trip. The following day, her symptoms became worse and included fever, fatigue, a rash, and tingling in her hands and feet. Two days later, she visited her primary-care provider and tests confirmed she had the Zika virus.

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A few days after that (seven days after intercourse), her male partner, also in his 20s, began feeling similar symptoms. He had a rash, a fever, and also conjunctivitis (pink eye). He, too, was diagnosed with Zika. After meeting with him, public health officials in the New York City confirmed that he had not traveled out of the country nor had he been recently bit by a mosquito. This leaves sexual transmission from his partner as the most likely cause of his infection, though further tests are being done.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for preventing Zika have been based on the assumption that virus was spread from a male to a receptive partner. Therefore the recommendations had been that pregnant women whose male partners had traveled or lived in a place where Zika virus is spreading use condoms or abstain from sex during the pregnancy. For those couples for whom pregnancy is not an issue, the CDC recommended that men who had traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks and had symptoms of the virus, use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after their trip. It also suggested that men who traveled but don’t have symptoms use condoms for at least eight weeks.

Based on this case—the first to suggest female-to-male transmission—the CDC may extend these recommendations to couples in which a female traveled to a country with an outbreak.

More Signs of Gonorrhea’s Growing Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the CDC released new data on gonorrhea and warned once again that the bacteria that causes this common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it.

There are about 350,000 cases of gonorrhea reported each year, but it is estimated that 800,000 cases really occur with many going undiagnosed and untreated. Once easily treatable with antibiotics, the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae has steadily gained resistance to whole classes of antibiotics over the decades. By the 1980s, penicillin no longer worked to treat it, and in 2007 the CDC stopped recommending the use of fluoroquinolones. Now, cephalosporins are the only class of drugs that work. The recommended treatment involves a combination of ceftriaxone (an injectable cephalosporin) and azithromycin (an oral antibiotic).

Unfortunately, the data released last week—which comes from analysis of more than 5,000 samples of gonorrhea (called isolates) collected from STI clinics across the country—shows that the bacteria is developing resistance to these drugs as well. In fact, the percentage of gonorrhea isolates with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin increased more than 300 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent).

Though no cases of treatment failure has been reported in the United States, this is a troubling sign of what may be coming. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in a press release: “It is unclear how long the combination therapy of azithromycin and ceftriaxone will be effective if the increases in resistance persists. We need to push forward on multiple fronts to ensure we can continue offering successful treatment to those who need it.”

HPV-Related Cancers Up Despite Vaccine 

The CDC also released new data this month showing an increase in HPV-associated cancers between 2008 and 2012 compared with the previous five-year period. HPV or human papillomavirus is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, HPV is so common that the CDC believes most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives. Many cases of HPV clear spontaneously with no medical intervention, but certain types of the virus cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus, mouth, and neck.

The CDC’s new data suggests that an average of 38,793 HPV-associated cancers were diagnosed each year between 2008 and 2012. This is a 17 percent increase from about 33,000 each year between 2004 and 2008. This is a particularly unfortunate trend given that the newest available vaccine—Gardasil 9—can prevent the types of HPV most often linked to cancer. In fact, researchers estimated that the majority of cancers found in the recent data (about 28,000 each year) were caused by types of the virus that could be prevented by the vaccine.

Unfortunately, as Rewire has reported, the vaccine is often mired in controversy and far fewer young people have received it than get most other recommended vaccines. In 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. In comparison, nearly 80 percent of young people in this age group had received the vaccine that protects against meningitis.

In response to the newest data, Dr. Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, told HealthDay:

In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer. Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes—and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe.

Making Inroads Toward a Chlamydia Vaccine

An article published in the journal Vaccine shows that researchers have made progress with a new vaccine to prevent chlamydia. According to lead researcher David Bulir of the M. G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at Canada’s McMaster University, efforts to create a vaccine have been underway for decades, but this is the first formulation to show success.

In 2014, there were 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia in the United States. While this bacterial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics, it often goes undiagnosed because many people show no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave scar tissue in the fallopian tubes or uterus and ultimately result in infertility.

The experimental vaccine was created by Canadian researchers who used pieces of the bacteria that causes chlamydia to form an antigen they called BD584. The hope was that the antigen could prompt the body’s immune system to fight the chlamydia bacteria if exposed to it.

Researchers gave BD584 to mice using a nasal spray, and then exposed them to chlamydia. The results were very promising. The mice who received the spray cleared the infection faster than the mice who did not. Moreover, the mice given the nasal spray were less likely to show symptoms of infection, such as bacterial shedding from the vagina or fluid blockages of the fallopian tubes.

There are many steps to go before this vaccine could become available. The researchers need to test it on other strains of the bacteria and in other animals before testing it in humans. And, of course, experience with the HPV vaccine shows that there’s work to be done to make sure people get vaccines that prevent STIs even after they’re invented. Nonetheless, a vaccine to prevent chlamydia would be a great victory in our ongoing fight against STIs and their health consequences, and we here at This Week in Sex are happy to end on a bit of a positive note.