Double Dose: Global Gag Rule Repealed; World's Largest Sex Survey; New Books on Women's History, Too Much Medicine

By Christine Cupaiuolo — September 9, 2007

Senate Votes to Repeal Global Gag Rule: “Defying a White House veto threat, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted Thursday to overturn a long-standing ban on U.S. funding for overseas family planning groups that support abortion,” reports the L.A. Times. “The vote was 53-41, short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto on an issue that has been contentious on Capitol Hill since President Reagan instituted the ban. Even so, the vote was a sign of determination by Democrats to press for substantial changes in federal policies, even though they have only a narrow majority in the Senate.”

Read more about the global gag rule; and here’s more analysis from RH Reality Check.

Ad Nauseum: Shannon Brownlee, author of “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer,” talks with Brooke Gladstone of NPR’s “On the Media” about the influence of direct-to-consumer drug marketing. One example given: When the sleep drug Lunesta hit the market, so did an epidemic of sleeplessness.

Stress and Pregnancy: The New York Times has a Q&A interview with Dr. Sarah L. Berga, “one of a handful of physician-scientists exploring how chronic stress may keep some women from ovulating and how relaxation techniques may help.”

Why More Cosmetic Companies Are Going “Paraben-Free”: “For years, parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl and benzyl) have been considered a cheap and indispensable way to inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds in personal-care products such as shampoos, conditioners, deodorants and sunscreens,” writes Chicago Tribune health reporter Julie Deardoff. “But studies have shown that some parabens can mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in the body’s cells. Estrogenic activity in the body is associated with certain forms of breast cancer. And parabens are turning up in breast tumors.”

Condom Nations: Foreign Policy magazine presents data from the Durex Global Sex Survey, the world’s largest sex survey (317,000 participants in 41 countries). Why is it surprising that people in richer countries have more sexual partners than people in poorer countries?

Treating Men and Women Differently: “Research presented at the annual European Society of Cardiology meeting in Vienna suggested that surgeries which typically save men’s lives can be deadly for women,” reports the AP. “A small study of 184 women conducted by Dr. Eva Swahn of the department of cardiology at University Hospital in Linkoping, Sweden, found that women who had major heart operations like a coronary bypass were more likely than men to die.”

NFL Mirrors Society: From a USA Today editorial: “Even people who aren’t football fans have heard about Michael Vick, the star quarterback whose abuse of pit bulls led to a guilty plea on federal dogfighting charges, drew public vilification and spurred an indefinite suspension from the NFL. Far fewer people have heard of Michael Pittman, another NFL player accused of violence. In May 2003, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back was arrested on charges of ramming his Hummer into a car driven by his wife and carrying their 2-year-old child and a babysitter.”

“Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History”: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who wrote that sentence in an article entitled “Virtuous Women Found: New England Ministerial Literature, 1668-1735” two decades ago, has now written a book exploring the hidden history of women.

“‘Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History’ is by no means jargon-ridden or academic in tone,” writes Michael Dirda in the Washington Post. “Ulrich’s style is plain and direct, agreeable but without frills, and she moves efficiently right along. The book is a pleasure to read.”

Madeline L’Engle Dies at at 88: L’Engle, a graduate of Smith, wrote the children’s classic “A Wrinkle in Time,” and other wonderful stories — many of which featured a girl as the protagonist. From The New York Times obit:

In the “Dictionary of Literary Biography,” Marygail G. Parker notes “a peculiar splendor” in Ms. L’Engle’s oeuvre, and some of that splendor is sheer literary range. “Wrinkle” is part of her series of children’s books, which includes “A Wind in the Door,” “A Swiftly Tilting Planet,” “Many Waters” and “An Acceptable Time.” The series combines elements of science fiction with insights into love and moral purpose that pervade Ms. L’Engle’s writing.

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