Holiday gift shopping is tough. I mean, if commercials have taught us anything, it's that women reeeally care about getting presents (especially pricey ones) and if you get a woman a gift she doesn't like she'll probably never speak to you again. What can I say? I guess we're ridiculously materialistic and shallow. So materialistic and shallow, in fact, that we can't be bothered to make our own doctor's appointments. (I guess we just care about shopping more?) That's why, this holiday season, what the women in your life really want is for you to make them an appointment to get a pap smear or a mammogram:
On Saturday night the House of Representatives narrowly passed a health-care reform bill, changing the way Americans will access health insurance. Included in the bill was an amendment from Bart Stupak (D-MI), which "prohibits federal funds for abortion services in the public option." Women seeking insurance coverage for abortions must seek a plan outside the enrolled companies. Sixty-Four Democrats voted to include the amendment.
The healthcare debate this week has certainly been a lot of fingerpointing. In an effort to quash false rumors surrounding Obama's new healthcare plan (please let's never discuss the phrase "death panels" again), the White House went so far as to launch a "reality check" website. But one issue that's missing from the White House site is abortion. Despite the lack of an official White House debunk, the public dialogue on abortion has been just as packed with misinformation and exaggeration as the rest of the national conversation about healthcare reform.
That idea is aided by misleading statements from mainstream politicians. Representative John Boehner (R-Ohio) penned a piece in the National Review spelling out his take on Obama's healthcare plan:
"Fact: The bill as currently written will allow the federal government to classify abortion as an "essential benefit" — a health-care right that would be guaranteed to all Americans. This will make it illegal for health-care providers nationwide — even Catholic and religious-based hospitals with missions that reflect a fundamental moral objection to the killing of the unborn — to provide anything less than abortion on demand for anyone who seeks it."
But when the Denver Post ran a health care fact check, they showed that Boehner's "fact" is actually false. The Post explains that Obama's current health care plan does not override the federal law that bans Medicaid from paying for abortions except in cases involving rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. An amendment pushed by Lois Capps (D-CA) allows public and private healthcare plans to cover abortions in other cases, but they can't use federal dollars.
One day's worth of breast milk from a new mother barely reached the first line on a four ounce vial. The freezer that held the thin, yellowish milk was nearly empty, too—the first breast milk donation bank in the Northwest was not officially open for business last week when I stopped in.
The still-humble milk bank, housed in a small room on the second floor of Adventist Hospital in Southeast Portland, will be the 11th official non-profit breast milk bank in the country. In a toy-filled waiting room next to the birthing wing of the hospital, lactation specialist and organizer of the Northwest Mother's Milk Bank, Peggy Andrews, recalled what it was like back when she breast-fed her children in the late 60s, "Only three percent of women were still breastfeeding at three months. And it was pretty much just the hippies." In her time working in hospitals, Andrews says the culture has completely changed—in Portland, 90 percent of women breastfeed their babies, as do 72 percent of women nationwide.
And what has been integral to mainstreaming the image of breastfeeding? Andrews immediately points to media. "Media has played a very positive role in presenting breastfeeding in a positive light, like talking about world breastfeeding week and showing breastfeeding moms on TV. Forty years ago it would embarrass male news commentators to even say 'breast.'"
Personally, I had never heard of world breast feeding week or, to my memory, seen a breastfeeding mom on TV but, come to think of it, that's probably because I don't own a TV.
More on the milk bank below the cut!