Double Dose: An Open Letter to Gov. Sarah Palin; Transgender Employees Find More Workplace Support; High Rate of C-Sections in Washington; Latest Breast Cancer Rates; Videos You May Have Missed from the RNC ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — September 6, 2008

Dear Gov. Sarah Palin: Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, wrote an open letter to the newly picked vice presidential candidate that begins with this:

Many Americans agree with your position regarding abortion — they do this as a matter of faith, ethics, personal experience and sometimes politics. I am just wondering though, if you have thought about what would happen if you succeeded in getting your position — that fetuses have a right to life — established as the law of the land? Did you know that it not only threatens the lives, health and freedom of women who might want or need someday to end their pregnancies, it would also give the government the power to control the lives of women — like you who — go to term?

Go read the rest. Seriously. It’s amazing.

The Privilege of White Woman’hood/ Mommy’Hood: “Sarah Palin wants to put herself out there as ‘every woman.’ She wants to be seen as ‘just your average hockey mom,’ and other mommies see themselves and their reality reflected through Palin, except, mamis of color, that is,” writes Maegan “La Mala” Ortiz at Racialicious (and at her site, Mamita Mala).

What Women Want: There’s video up from the This Is What Women Want speakout in Boston (Aug. 21), including Rita Arditti advocating for health care as a universal right; Cynthia Enloe on lifting the global gag rule; and Kety Esquivel on treating immigrants as human beings.

The next speakout is Sept. 25 in Oxford, Miss. But you can always speak out right now, right here.

Smoother Transitions: “Across the country, particularly at larger companies, transgender workers are being protected and assisted in ways that were hardly imaginable a few years ago,” writes Lisa Belkin, author of the Life’s Work column in The New York Times.

Currently, 125 of the Fortune 500 companies include “gender identity” in their nondiscrimination policies, compared with “close to zero” in 2002, according to Jillian T. Weiss, an associate professor of law and society at Ramapo College of New Jersey, and an expert on transgender workplace diversity. […]

“It is a different world,” said Dr. Weiss, who attributes the change, in part, to the slow adoption of laws banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity (20 states and roughly 100 cities have such laws), but mostly to the work of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization in the nation.

Yes, HRC, which releases the Corporate Equality Index — a measure of how receptive a company is to diversity. Questions concerning gender-identity protection and transgender benefits have been included since 2002.

High Rate of C-Section Births is Health Concern for Women: “One in four Washington mothers now give birth through C-section, according to the Department of Health, and the rate of the surgical procedure has been increasing by 6 percent every year for nearly a decade,” reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says we should have no more than 15 percent of low-risk births delivered by C-section,” said Joe Campo, director of research at the [state agency’s Center for Health Statistics]. “It’s important for us to know what’s driving this increase.”

About 13,300 of the 21,800 total C-sections are first-time procedures and about 8,500 are repeat procedures, Campo and his colleagues found. Of the total, state officials believe at least 2,200 are clearly unnecessary. A fairly sophisticated analysis of the C-section rates allowed for a geographic comparison that found an especially pronounced increase in the use of the surgical procedure in the Puget Sound region.

Plus: In a guest column penned in response to the SI story, Sara L. Ainsworth, senior legal and legislative counsel at Northwest Women’s Law Center, wrote that the high rate of caesarean sections “raises alarms for those who care about women’s reproductive health and patients’ rights.”

In addition to the potential health risks of the surgery, women who have C-sections face consequences that even conscientious health care providers may not recognize or discuss with their patients.

In many parts of this state, having one C-section delivery will require another at a subsequent birth, even over the objection of the pregnant woman and her doctor. Several Washington hospitals refuse to allow doctors to provide labor and delivery services to pregnant women who have had a previous C-section unless those women submit to a second C-section delivery.

Breast Cancer Rates: The Kaiser Family Foundation has published a state-by-state breakdown of breast cancer incidence rate per 100,000 women in 2004. Massachusetts has the highest rate (134 per 100,000 women), followed by Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Arizona has the lowest rate (102.9), followed by Idaho, Arkansas, Nevada and Indiana.

Plus: Feminist Peace Network reports on Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI), a new procedure that may be useful for women with dense breasts who have a higher risk of breast cancer. The downside? Patients receive 8 to 10 times more radiation from MBI’s than from mammograms.

With Child, With Cancer: The New York Times Magazine profiles women who are undergoing cancer treatments during pregnancy and covers the medical history of treating pregnancy-associated breast cancer.

Health Reporters Not Helping Readers: A study by University of Missouri journalism professors found that “the majority of health journalists have not had specialized training in health reporting and face challenges in communicating new medical science developments.”

Of the journalists surveyed, only 18 percent had specialized training in health reporting and only 6.4 percent reported that a majority of their readers change health behaviors based on the information they provide. The journalists had an average of 18 years of journalism experience and seven years experience as health journalists.

“Health journalists play an important role in helping people effectively manage their health,” [assistant professor Maria] Len-Ríos said. “However, we found that many journalists find it difficult to explain health information to their readers, while maintaining the information’s scientific credibility. They have to resist ‘bogging down’ the story with too much technical science data and ‘dumbing down’ the story with overly simplistic recommendations.”

Journalists reported quoting medical experts, avoiding technical terms, and providing data and statistics as the three most important elements to making health information understandable. However, understanding numbers is a challenge for many people, [assistant professor Amanda] Hinnant said.

Celebrate the Anti-Wedding: Read what happens when death and taxes decide to get married and stage a protest against weddings. And there’s video.

Returning for the Final Time to the Republican National Convention: Jon Stewart drives home the hypocrisy of Republican attitudes toward reproductive rights with guest Newt Gingrich, while Samantha Bee tries to remember what that word is …

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