Double Dose: Have We Reached the Tipping Point on Health Care?; Open Conversation on Reproductive Health Agenda; Vatican Issues Instructions on Bioethics; On-Screen Same-Sex Kisses; Wombs for Rent ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — December 14, 2008

Necessary Medicine?: “President-elect Barack Obama placed a heavy bet last week that the recession-wracked country he is about to inherit has finally reached its tipping point on health care,” writes Kevin Sack at The New York Times.

It might seem counterintuitive to gamble that political and economic forces would converge at such a low point after more than half a century of failure. The Treasury has never been so overcommitted, and providing “affordable, accessible health care for every single American,” as Mr. Obama describes his goal, would require substantial resources up front.

But Mr. Obama, like others, sees political opportunity in the country’s economic distress, and he threw in last week with those who argue that the financial crisis has only made it more imperative to remake the health delivery system — that, in fact, economic recovery depends on it.

Plus: Go read “Ready or Not: Obama Transition Team Publishes Reproductive Health Community’s Agenda,” by Emily Douglas at RH Reality Check. It’s pretty amazing that such an open conversation is taking place.

And, while you’re there, you can sign up to lead a health care discussion in your neighborhood.

U.S. Health Stagnates for Fourth Year in a Row: During the 1990s, health improved at an average rate of 1.5 percent per year, but improvements against national health measurements have remained flat for the last four years, according to the recently released “America’s Health Rankings.” The report cites smoking, obesity and the uninsured are the nation’s three most critical challenges. Vermont ranks as the healthiest state; Louisiana is the least healthiest.

Vatican Issues Instruction on Bioethics: “The Vatican issued its most authoritative and sweeping document on bioethical issues in more than 20 years on Friday, taking into account recent developments in biomedical technology and reinforcing the church’s opposition to in vitro fertilization, human cloning, genetic testing on embryos before implantation and embryonic stem cell research,” reports The New York Times. The picture is worth 1,000 Hail Mary’s (click on the pic to see the full-size image at the NYT).

Kelly Hills has read the full document and shares her thoughts at Women’s Bioethics Blog:

Reading the Dignitatis Personae is an exercise in patience and self-control; it’s hard to resist the urge to go wake someone up to have someone to discuss such wince-inducing logic as this: This ethical principle, [ed- that life begins at conceptions] which reason is capable of recognizing as true and in conformity with the natural moral law, should be the basis for all legislation in this area.

I can tell you with full certainty that such ‘reasoning’ (a term I use loosely) would fail a philosophy 101 test. But if you can get through the document, you’ll learn that the fresh-off-the-newstands update to Catholicism forbids any reproductive act that does not result in fertilization and implantation happening as a result of the sexual act between a married couple. Or put more simply: if the technology assists in intra-uterine conception, YAY! If conception occurs outside the uterus, BOO!

Read the full analysis here.

Why Can’t a Kiss Just be a Kiss: “We live comfortably, if strangely, in a pseudo-Sapphic era in which seemingly every college woman with a MySpace page has kissed another girl for the camera; but for men who kiss men, it’s still the final frontier,” writes Hank Steuver in the Washington Post. A good look at some recent films, including “Milk.”

OBOS Reference of the Week: A Harvard grad (’82) remarks at a sex talk put on by Harvard’s Peer Contraceptive Counselors: “This wouldn’t have happened 10 to 15 years ago. Except for ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves” — we would steal our girlfriends’ copies.”

Beyond 16 Days: Feminist Peace Network wraps up 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence with a look at some excellent campaigns, including Madre’s 16 Days/16 Entries (read them in the violence against women section).

Hidden Victims of Abuse: “Women in the United States with disabilities are significantly more likely to suffer from domestic violence than are other women,” writes Annemarie Taddeucci at Women’s eNews, adding that “many battered women’s resources are not accessible to people with disabilities. Safe havens and the legal system may not be equipped to deal with a victim who is deaf or cognitively impaired, for example.”

The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women will meet in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 16-17 to discuss improving coordination between disability-service providers and institutions involved with domestic violence, including battered women’s shelters, the police and the courts.

Wombs for Rent: Jill at Feministe probes the complexities of Alex Kuczynski’s magazine story about surrogacy, “Her Body, My Baby. Many of the commenters offer similarly thoughtful responses. Also see this response by NYT public editor Clark Hoyt.

Because It’s That Time of Year …: Time Magazine is featuring the Top 10 of Everything 2008, including the Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs. Or you could just skip right to the Top 10 Awkward Moments or Top 10 Fleeting Celebrities.

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