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Sunday News Round-Up, Sunny Day Edition

March 7, 2010

It’s 57 degrees in Nashville, and somehow I managed to sleep until noon. Hmph.

I’m playing around with Formspring, so, uh, ask me anything?

This freely available perspective piece from the New England Journal of Medicine ties in nicely to what Dr. Abraham Verghese said last week about engaging at the patient bedside – Ministry of Touch — Reflections on Disaster Work after the Haitian Earthquake. It includes this line about the approach to women in labor: “We develop a system whereby one of us sits behind the woman and holds her, another rubs her back, and I sit or kneel near her, touching her belly and legs, whispering words of encouragement. I pray, and I watch the woman’s face for clues as the labor progresses.”

There is some discussion here in TN about whether Memphis’s dismal infant mortality rate is being measured correctly or is “inflated.” One researcher says it’s inflated and probably no different from any other metro area because it includes too many extremely premature, nonviable births – maybe it’s a problem of extreme prematurity and low birth weight rather than 11-month old infants who don’t make it, but everybody I’ve heard speak on this topic has focused largely on prematurity and low birth weight as key, so it’s not like that’s new information. Dr. Theresa Chapple, fetal and infant mortality review director for the Health Department, says, “We’re counting our live births the same way as everyone in the country.” As I commented at B’s, I found the details and the math in the story lacking, so am not sure what to make of it. I think it’s important to correctly understand the situation, but I also wonder what the motivation is to seemingly try to dismiss Memphis as having a problem, especially when it’s Black women whose babies disproportionately make up the high infant mortality rate in that city.

I learned about this story, Myths That Make It Hard To Stop Campus Rape, from my colleague Kristi, and honestly had to stop reading halfway through the first time. Essentially, it challenges the notion that date/acquaintance rape primarily consists of lots of one-time “mistakes” that can be readily waved away with a boys-will-be-boys or single instance, bad choice explanation, and suggests that the real picture is far more predatory and less easily excused by those inclined to do so. B talks more about it here, and points to a great post by TigTog at Hoyden with practical tips on what to do it someone in your social circle is this type of predator.

Via a listserv I’m on, I learned of the upcoming Disability and Ethics through the Life Cycle: Cases, Controversies and Finding Common Ground conference to be held Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22 at Union College in Schenectady, NY. Conference planners are still accepting submissions for presentations:

We are still soliciting contributed papers or panels for highly interactive sessions. Those interested should submit a 250-word abstract describing original work. Topics of interest include but are not limited to specific cases where disability generates ethical issues during infancy, childhood, the reproductive years, middle age, and old age, or research on people with disabilities. Because of the conference’s life-cycle focus, no papers on prenatal issues or assisted suicide will be considered.

[I’ve omitted submission instructions here for length – see the contact info]

For additional information, please contact or

Bitch Magazine has The Biotic Woman: The Dirty Politics of Coal which includes criticism of the idea of “clean coal” and mention of the TN ash spill. Relatedly, here are some satellite images from NASA showing the scar of mountain top removal on one portion of the West Virginia landscape. [hat tip to the Scene]

The Unnecesarean and Dou-la-la are talking about the recent televised birth of Kourtney Kardashian’s child, a vaginal birth which included Kardashian reaching down to help her own baby out into the world. I also recently saw The Office birth episode – any thoughts on that?

Kevin, MD has a contributed piece up on the challenges faced by transgender individuals who are incarcerated; it’s a short piece intended to introduce medical providers in prisons to the concept.

American Medical News includes a piece on patient language, noting that “More than 20 million patients speak limited English,” but that “Forty percent of practices provide patient-education materials in languages other than English, and four in 10 doctors have received cultural competency training aimed at helping them better serve minority populations. Less than a quarter of physicians receive reports about the demographic characteristics of their patients, and 7% routinely access electronic information about their patients’ preferred language.”

The New York Times has a piece, Lessons at Indian Hospital About Births, on birth and VBAC, with an example of the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, a Navajo Nation hospital:

“In Tuba City last year, 32 percent of women with prior Caesareans had vaginal births. Its overall Caesarean rate has been low — 13.5 percent, less than half the national rate of 31.8 percent in 2007 (the latest year with figures available). This is despite the fact that more women here have diabetes and high blood pressure, which usually result in higher Caesarean rates.”

The CDC released a new report, Trends and Characteristics of Home and Other Out-of-Hospital Births in the United States, 1990-2006 [PDF].

Lauredhel has a piece at FWD/Forward, Defiant Birth: Impolite Women Who Didn’t Make History, about a book telling the stories of women who chose to continue pregnancies against medical advice, especially when that advice had eugenic characteristics or motivations.

Jill at Feministe writes about Race, those billboards and abortion as genocide and Renee at Womanist Musings writes that Shaming Black Women Will Not Reduce Abortion.

Health and Human Services has a site for healthcare providers to learn about culturally competent health care. [hat tip to Siobhan]

One paper writes about some men’s lack of knowledge about how contraception works, like one who was totally weirded out by encountering a contraceptive ring. “I feel like girls should tell people.” LOL.

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