Raising Women’s Voices

Nationwide Call to Action on Breastfeeding

Posted in Personal Stories, Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

The Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Office on Women’s Health, Office of the Surgeon General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  has announced a Call To Action on Breastfeeding, in which it is asking for comments from individuals and organizations about breastfeeding promoting  policies and activities. According to the group,

“Breastfeeding is unquestionably healthier for mothers and babies compared to feeding with infant formula.

We are especially interested in new ideas that will increase equity in breastfeeding rates among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Ideas should build on programs and policies that are recognized to be effective or evidence-based. In addition, we welcome suggestions to adopt, expand, implement, research, or improve existing strategies.”

12 topic areas have been created for individuals to submit comments.

They include: 

  1. Maternal and Infant Care Practices: Prenatal, Hospital, and Post-Delivery Care
  2. Access to Lactation Care and Support
  3. Health Professional Education, Publications, and Conferences
  4. Use of Banked Human Milk
  5. Work-site Lactation Support, On-site Child Care, and Milk Expression
  6. Paid Maternity Leave
  7. Portrayal of Breastfeeding in Traditional Popular Media and New Electronic Media
  8. Support for Breastfeeding in Public Settings
  9. Peer Support and Education of Family Members and Friends
  10. Community Support for Breastfeeding in Complementary Programs (e.g., Early Head Start, Home Visitation, Parental Training)
  11. Research and Surveillance
  12. Other Areas

Submit your comments and recommendations before the May 31st, 2009 deadline.

Abstinence-Only Education Failing Texas

Posted in Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

According to The National Partnership for Women and Families , Texas has the third highest teen birth rate in the nation — 50% higher than the national average, yet 94% of Texan students receive abstinence-only sex education. Texas is also the nation’s largest recipient of abstinence-only funds, totaling more than $18 million.

Texas state Rep. Joaquin Castro (D), vice chair of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education, expressed his feelings on the subject in an opinion piece written for San Antonio Express News.  Castro mentioned that teen pregnancy can lead to high drop-out rates; 60 % of mothers who have a child before they turn 18 do not graduate from high school.  According to Castro, “Texas students need a complete, medically-accurate and age-appropriate sex education curriculum. And, if parents desire, they can opt-out their children from receiving any type sexual education curriculum.”

House Bill 741 has been introduced in the Texan Legislature, a measure that would continue to provide abstinence education, but also information related to birth control and protection from sexually transmitted infections.

Nebraska’s Abortion Debate

Posted in Maternity Care, Reproductive Health Care, Sexual health, Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

Nebraska’s Legislature Judiciary Committee voted 6-0 to pass legislation that    would require doctors to show women seeking abortions to an ultrasound of the fetus one hour prior to the performing the procedure.  The bill is now set to move to Nebraska’s full legislature for a vote.  The bill passed by the Judiciary Committee states that the woman must look at the monitor to view the image, while the full legislature will consider alternate language that may allow women the choice to avert their eyes.  According to The National Partnership for Women and Families, another amendment called for by Senator Kent Rogert (D),  removed legislative language that would require doctors to inform women that the procedure places them at risk for psychological trauma.

HHS Secretary Nominnee Sebelius and Abortion

Posted in Maternity Care, Reproductive Health Care, Sexual health, State Reform by raisingwomensvoices on April 15, 2009

On April 2nd, 2009,  HHS Secretary Nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) answered a number of questions at the Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearings.  Answering Senator Kyl’s queries about abortion, the Kansas Governor responded, “I am personally opposed to abortion, and my faith teaches me that all life is sacred. Throughout my career as a public official I have tried to reduce unwanted pregnancies, and thus curtail the need for abortion. In Kansas, the abortion rate dropped over 10 percent during my administration. I also signed into law bills to support adoption.”

HHS Secretary Nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and enate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) (L)

HHS Secretary Nominee Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) (L)

While Sebelius does not hide the fact that she is personally opposed to abortion, she believes in protecting the Constitutional rights of America’s citizens.  Sebelius went on to answer Senator Kyl’s question about her position on abortion and legislation that she vetoed while serving as Governor of Kansas.  “Most of the abortion-related bills I vetoed as Governor threatened the constitutional rights or medical privacy of women. Some sought to provide people other than a woman’s doctor access to her medical records. Like most Americans, I strongly believe the privacy of medical records must be protected. In addition, I vetoed two bills that attempted to put specific regulations on abortion facilities without applying those same standards to all outpatient surgical centers. I favored treating all outpatient surgical centers equally.”

Women, Health Care and the Economy

Posted in Affordability, Health Disparities, Insurance companies, Reproductive Health Care, Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on February 13, 2009

“…[W]e are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.”

Obama’s statement from the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade highlights important issues to women’s health.   One writer points out that by increasing women’s access to contraception, jobs that offer living wages with benefits, and access to quality and affordable child care are essential to the nation’s economic health. 

Women’s health is inextricably tied to our nation’s economic well-being, and economic policy should not be void of considering women’s reproductive health issues.  Republic House leader, John Boehner, asks

“”How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives? How does that stimulate the economy?

Women and children make up a majority of the nation’s poor.  Comprising 70 percent of minimum-wage and below-minimum-wage workers, women struggle to attain financial equity in within the workforce.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argues that the inclusion of family planning in Medicaid would prove to be money-saving.  In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the Family Planning Medicaid Expansion would actually save the federal government more than $200 million over 5 years.  The recent rescinding of family planning expansion from the economic recovery package in an effort to garner Republican support ignores the importance of women’s health and its link to the economy.

Paying Too High a Price? A Diagnosis for Over-the-Counter Contraception

Posted in Affordability, Maternity Care, Reproductive Health Care, Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on February 3, 2009

Myra Batchelder of RH Reality Check blogs about accessing over-the-counter contraception.  Emergency Contraception (EC) is now available over-the-counter, but the high cost still leaves the resource out of reach to many low-income women.  Furthermore, over 10% of women rely on Medicaid for care during their reproductive years.  Many states have Medicaid programs that require women to obtain a prescription in order to receive EC.  Given that EC is a time-sensitive option, the stipulation only adds to the barriers that women who desire EC face.  Also, the Hyde Amendment, which declares that no federal Medicaid funds shall be used for abortion services, denying many women the reproductive care that they desire.

Click  here to read Myra’s blog!

Home-Birth Advocates Push for Expanded Legal Recognition for Midwives

Posted in Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on February 1, 2009

Advocates believe that home births are safe alternatives to hospital births and that Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) should be granted licenses to practice midwifery.

“We’re one of the few movements that’s succeeded in bringing together pro-life and pro-choice activists, liberal feminists and Christian conservatives,” says Katherine Prown, campaign manager of the group Big Push For Midwives.


Some key issues include the financial benefits that home birth and CPM’s offer, but another concern is the fact that nurse-midwives do not receive equal insurance reimbursements that physicians who perform the same exact duties receive.  Several states have addressed these issues and the results are nearly evenly split; 25 states license CPM’s, while the other 25 do not legally recognize and license CPM’s.

Read more and access related links.

Two New Studies Suggest That Maternity Leave Benefits Health of Moms and Babies

Posted in Uncategorized by raisingwomensvoices on February 1, 2009

The Juggling Work and Life During Pregnancy study of maternity leave and pregnancy outcomes showed that women who take leaves before and after birth were less likely to deliver via cesarean section and more likely to breastfeed. The first paper examined the outcomes of women who were able to take a leave after 35 weeks of pregnancy.  Those women who had more time off from work  “had almost 4 times lower odds of a primary cesarean delivery as women who continued working.”  The second paper considered whether or not leaves before and after birth played in a role in the establishment of breastfeeding.  The report found that those women who returned to work earlier than others were less likely to establish breastfeeding.

For links to the two studies, visit Our Bodies Our Blog.