• Kenneth Johansson/Corbis

    Shut Up

    Anti-Vaxxers’ Newest Scheme

    After years of alignment with anti-vaxxers, Jenny McCarthy says she’s not anti-vaccine—she’s pro ‘one poke per visit.’

    So close, Jenny McCarthy. So close. Well… not really. But I’m trying to adopt the same conciliatory tone that McCarthy affects in a recent Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, in which she claims that she was never really “anti-vaccine” and that believing otherwise is just a big misunderstanding.

    “For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, ‘pro-vaccine’ and for years I have been wrongly branded as ‘anti-vaccine,’” she writes.

    Permalink
  • Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

    Pre-natal care

    Brazil to Promote Natural Route

    Eighty-two percent of Brazilian women are opting for C-Sections, many after hearing of the poor treatment received by women who had natural births.

    In Brazil’s private hospitals, 82 percent of babies are delivered by Caesarean section. In public hospitals, the rate is roughly half—why? C-sections are easily scheduled so doctors can perform (and bill) many in a day rather than waiting for nature to take its course. Some women request it too, finding the convenience and sterility empowering. But a study of Brazilian women found the country’s rise in C-sections was driven primarily by unwanted procedures, with women opting for it only after hearing about the poor treatment of mothers who chose natural birth. "When a woman is going to give birth, the first thing many hospitals do is tie her to the bed by putting an IV in her arm, so she can't walk, can't take a bath, can't hug her husband…," said Maria do Carmo Leal, a researcher at the National Public Health School. "What you get is a lot of pain, and a horror of childbirth.” C-sections can be life-saving when medically necessary, but they pose a greater risk of death, blood transfusions, and hysterectomies. To promote natural birth, Brazil is spending $4 billion on a program—cleverly titled The Stork Network—to educate mothers and doctors about the benefits of natural birth. 

    Read it at The Atlantic
  • Peter Bauer/Daytona Beach News-Journal, via AP

    TOO FAR?

    Tennessee to Criminalize Pregnancy

    The state legislature has passed a bill that would allow police to investigate drug-taking mothers if their unborn children are harmed by their addiction.

    Tennessee may become the first state with a law that could criminally prosecute pregnant women if they harm their unborn children by taking illegal drugs. Miscarriages, stillbirths, and infants born with birth defects would be grounds for police investigation and charges that could put the mother behind bars for up to 15 years.

    Last week, the proposed legislation to allow for criminal assault charges to be brought against drug-addicted pregnant women overwhelmingly passed the Tennessee Senate with bipartisan support after already sailing through the House. The bill states that “nothing shall preclude prosecution of a woman for an assaultive offense for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.”

    Permalink
  • A woman votes on November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Cengiz Yar Jr./AFP/Getty)

    SWING

    Win Women, Win the Midterms

    The female vote gave the House to Republicans in 2010 and to Democrats in 2006. No wonder we’re talking about pay equality six months before Election Day.

    You could be forgiven for looking at the 2014 election cycle and thinking you’re watching a rerun of 2012. “The 1 percent! The war on women!” In the latest episode, the White House signed an executive order on federal salaries billed as promoting equal pay, as a part of its effort to keep the political gender gap working in their favor.

    It makes sense that Democrats would want the coming election to be a replay of the last one. They won.

    Permalink
  • The nursery at Sandro Pertini hospital in Rome June 16, 2013. (Tony Gentile/Reuters)

    In Vitro Tourism

    Italy’s Baby-Making Troubles

    Ever-changing laws leave Italian couples mystified as the Catholic Church does battle with the fertility doctors.

    On December 4 last year, four couples checked into the Sandro Pertini hospital in Rome for in vitro fertilization. Under Italy’s strict reproductive laws, which ban donations, they were implanted with embryos grown in a laboratory from eggs and sperm harvested from each couple the week before.

    Two of the prospective parents, both psychologists in their 40s, were in for the shock of their lives. Tests after the procedure showed they were expecting twins—but the babies were not their children.

    Permalink
  • Philadelphia Police

    Not Jane Doe

    What Happened to Christina Sankey?

    Thirty-seven year old Christina Sankey was found dead between two cars. Nobody seems to be asking why.

    Thirty-seven years old, severely autistic and with the mentality of a two-year old, Philadelphian Christina Sankey was last seen alive on March 6 in a department store with her state-paid caretaker. The next morning she was discovered five miles away: dead, half-naked, between two parked cars. Poor, vulnerable and without family resources, the curious death of this woman has not even registered on the public's radar. Neither the caretaker, her employment agency nor the agency that coordinated care has commented. The Philly Police said her death "does not appear suspicious," and the Medical Examiner's Office has not yet issued an official cause of death. There are unanswered questions: How did she get from the department store to the cars? (Her mother says she was nonverbal, incapable of walking that far or negotiating public transportation). How did her shirt get removed? (Her mother says she lacked the ability to remove it). Why was she taken to a crowded, unsecured location in the first place? And, disturbingly, is her mother right? "No one cares about my daughter,” said Patricia Sankey. “She was poor, she was disabled. She was not going to set the world on fire. But she was my world." 

    Read it at Philly.com
  • Disarming

    Women Battling Terrorism

    Women in Pakistan have successfully organized to help single out potential terrorists and militants in their communities.

    As Mossarat Qadeem tells the story, the big clue came from a simple source: a young woman who noticed her brother spending time with strangers.

    It was about one year ago in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, formerly called the North-West Frontier province, when the 25-year-old woman noticed a group of men she did not recognize meeting in the evenings in a house on her street. Several young men from her area were attending these meetings, including her 18-year-old brother. Yet her brother wouldn’t tell her what it was all about. His secrecy sparked her suspicion, said Qadeem, founder and executive director of PAIMAN Alumni Trust, an Islamabad-based non-profit that, among other initiatives, works with mothers in some of the country’s most conflict-ridden areas to de-radicalize their sons. Thus far, she said, her organization has turned 455 individuals away from militancy.

    Permalink
  • Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

    Poster Child

    Is Malala A Puppet of the West?

    Humaira Awais Shadid, a leading campaigner for women’s rights in Pakistan, argues that Malala Yousafzai is being used by the West to criticize Islam.

    One of Pakistan’s leading women’s rights campaigners says Malala Yousafzai is a victim of the West.

    Humaira Awais Shahid, a former politician, Harvard fellow, and newspaper editor, said the schoolgirl has been badly damaged by Britain and America, who are taking advantage of her survival story. Malala is now a hate-figure in certain quarters in Pakistan while some secular Westerners have used her traumatic experience in the Swat Valley as an avenue to criticize Islam.

    Permalink
  • Andrew H. Walker/Getty

    LOL

    Laughs Through Life's Challenges

    The comedian's TED Talk on her disability gets noticed by millions.

    Maysoon Zayid doesn't want you to feel bad for her--she wants you to laugh with her. The comedian's TED talk on growing up with cerebral palsy has garnered over 3 million YouTube hits. Zayid is no stranger to difficulty—as a Muslim-Palestinian women growing up in New Jersey, she learned the hard way that her ambitions (she longed to be a soap opera actress) were often stilted by her identity. But Zayid now prefers to identify as comedian, writer, and even budding politician. After attending acting school and realizing Hollywood was never going to cast her, she noticed those women who didn't fit in yet succeeded in the entertainment business—Whoopi or Ellen—were all comedians. She started doing stand up in New York City and after growing weary of how Arab's were represented in the media, co-founded the New York Arab American Comdey Festival. She hasn't limited her comedic tour de force only to the U.S.; she is also considered the fist stand up comedian to performer in Jordan and the Palestinian territories. And, when she's not cracking crowds up, she has devoted her time as a representative in the New Jersey state council and runs an arts program in Palestine to help disables kids cope with trauma. More than anything, Zayid is earnest and sidesplittingly funny. She nerved let her disabilities and difficulties roadblock her success, and now they may be the reason even more people become familiar with her humor and work.

  • Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty

    Must Read

    Sandberg to Grads: 'Lean Further'

    Lean In's expanded version adds more advice and asks more of women than of companies to improve workplace equality.

    Sheryl Sandberg once again is reminding women they must 'lean in.' This week the Facebook CFO published a new edition of her guide for women to climb up the corporate ladder, but this time marketed it specifically to graduates. Lean In For Graduates includes an additional six chapters, including more expert professional advice and personal tales of women who "leaned in." In a final "Letter to Graduates," she writes that we must have an awareness that women unequally face institutional bias. As an op-ed in The New Yorker states, much of Sandberg's Lean In puts the pressure of change on women, instead of perhaps pressuring institutions to shift their bias. Leaning in could be good for women, but it is also ultimately good for business.

    Read it at The New Yorker