Double Dose: Surrogacy, Adoption and Privilege; Terror's Many Forms; Can Some Breast Cancers Go Away on Their Own?; Meet the 5-Year-Old Dribbler ...

By Christine Cupaiuolo — November 28, 2008

Her Body, My Baby: Here’s an article sure to spark some discussion about class, privilege and maternal desire. Writing in the Sunday New York Times, Alex Kuczynski explains why — and how — she chose a surrogate mother and describes the relationship that developed between them.

Feminist Lens on Adoption: More on reproductive rights and who has access to those rights … Katie Leo, who was adopted from Korea, writes in Minnesota Women’s Press that her personal story and research on adoption inform her perspective on international adoption: “Could I call myself a feminist and social justice advocate and still adopt? I realized that for me, the answer was no.”

What is Terror for Women?: The fall issue of On the Issues magazine is about violence against women in all its forms. Included are stories on how anti-immigrant fervor translates to terror for women; the violence and stigma that continue to drain abortion patients and providers; and the dangers of giving birth in Somaliland, where maternal mortality rates are high and access to safe care is limited.

There are some inspirational stories as well. Ariel Doughtery looks at how women are using media to tell their own stories and as a vehicle for finding peace and reconciliation.

“To counteract these war horrors, media women armed with video cameras and other media tools have taken up the struggle to bring the women’s stories to larger audiences. They serve as a means of healing, and also as witnesses to the crimes against women,” writes Doughtery.

Plus: Jessica E. Slavin has thoughts about violence against trafficked women, specifically the weaknesses in, and under-utilization of, the T visa program, which was created to provide protection for victims of human trafficking.

Woman Sues Radio Station After “Prize Date” Assaults Her: “A Lake County woman who won a date with a man a radio station called a ‘great’ catch is suing the station for promoting the man, who had a criminal history and allegedly sexually assaulted her on the date she won,” reports the Chicago Tribune. Here’s more from the Daily Herald.

According to the civil suit, Travis Harvey, 46, drugged and raped the 23-year-old woman. Harvey didn’t confess to the rape, but last week pleaded guilty to a criminal sexual abuse charge last week in connection with the assault. He received 24 months probation. According to the woman’s attorney, she didn’t seek medical attention right away so there was no physical evidence to pursue more serious charges.

It’s amazing that the radio station didn’t do a basic background check of Harvey, who had prior felony and misdemeanor convictions for violating domestic violence orders of protection, according to the civil suit. As one friend put it, it’s also amazing that Harvey initiated the contest himself by emailing the station for help getting a date. Hope no one else gets the idea.

A Closer Look at the Healthiest Cities: CDC survey results put Burlington, Vt., at the top of the list of healthiest cities, but a number of other cities are statistically tied for the honor. This L.A. Times story looks at the rankings, as well as the regions where pressure to be thin is tied to looking good (think California) and where there’s a culture of being active (think Boulder, Colo.).

Rate of New Cancer Cases Declines: The rate of new cancer cases is on the decline among Americans for the first time. Less smoking and an increased use of preventative measures is credited.

The findings come from the annual report on cancer produced by the American Cancer Society in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. Here’s an excerpt from NPR’s coverage:

Part of the decrease in cancer incidence is due to the fact that lung cancer rates among women have leveled off in recent years. Lung cancer incidence among men has been decreasing for several years.

“Everybody’s been waiting for the lung cancer incidence and death rates in women to begin to go down,” says Dr. Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society.

Experts see signs that this is beginning to take place. It might have happened earlier, Thun says, except for something that occurred more than three decades ago: the advent of cigarette brands targeted to young women.

“The big marketing of Virginia Slims that caught the people who were passing through adolescence in the ’60s really boosted smoking rates in that age group,” Thun says.

The decline in the number of  menopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy is partly responsible for the decline in the number of new breast cancer cases. A leveling off the number of mammograms may also be contributing to the decrease, said Thun.

Dr. Tim Byers, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Colorado, tells NPR the “most striking thing about lung cancer in this report is the enormous variation between states in getting lung cancer and dying from it.”

“One of the questions that this observation raises in my mind is whether or not we should be thinking about the control of tobacco as more of a federal or national program,” said Byers. “Up to now we’ve left it to the states, which is why we’re seeing this enormous state-by-state disparity.”

In separate news, a study published Tuesday in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that breast cancer rates increased in four Norwegian countries after women began undergoing mammograms every two years instead of every six, suggesting that some cancers might have gone away on their own had they not been discovered and treated. Here’s the press release summarizing the study.

Not everyone is convinced by the results, reports The New York Times, but Robert M. Kaplan, chairman of the department of health services at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the implications are enormous:

If the results are replicated, he said, it could eventually be possible for some women to opt for so-called watchful waiting, monitoring a tumor in their breast to see whether it grows. “People have never thought that way about breast cancer,” he added.

Dr. Kaplan and his colleague, Dr. Franz Porzsolt, an oncologist at the University of Ulm, said in an editorial that accompanied the study, “If the spontaneous remission hypothesis is credible, it should cause a major re-evaluation in the approach to breast cancer research and treatment.”

Plastic Surgery Procedures Are Down: “Half of plastic surgeons report their practices were down last year,” writes Margaret Morganroth Gullette at Women’s eNews. “That was before the worst of the recession, so it’s not just a matter of cost or insurers who only cover operations that fix ‘deformities’ or improve healthy functioning.”

From 2004 to 2005, liposuction was down 5 percent; eyelid surgery down 20 percent. Even less-invasive procedures such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels were down in that same time period, by 7 percent and 50 percent respectively, according to the American Society for American Plastic Surgery.

It’s also a matter of growing cultural aversion toward the results. “Scary” is emerging as an increasingly common adjective for the surgeons, procedures and — more frequently — the results.

Meet My New Hero: Milan Simone Tuttle. She plays basketball. She’s 5 years old. And she’s awesome. Milan appeared on the Ellen Degeneres Show on Thursday. Be sure to check out the video below (via Because I Played Sports).

3 responses to “Double Dose: Surrogacy, Adoption and Privilege; Terror’s Many Forms; Can Some Breast Cancers Go Away on Their Own?; Meet the 5-Year-Old Dribbler …”

  1. Commenting on the first two articles: I’m getting a whiff of the usual feminist stance towards those of us with infertility, namely, reproductive rights don’t include the right of medical intervention when our ovaries refuse to ovulate or our uterus’ misbehave. Infertility doesn’t just touch uber-wealthy white women like the author of the NYT article. Apparently the old lemon of “You should just adopt” has also seen its day. Shall we consign ourselves to the dining room with Miss Havisham then?

  2. No judgment made here toward those who struggle with infertility, believe me. I thought the stories would be of interest to readers, as they both raise issues (in personal, limited ways) about how class and privilege intersect with infertility and reproductive rights. These are issues we cover.

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