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Discovering the Obvious on Plan B

The progression of getting to today's decision to make Plan B available from pharmacists without a prescription is somewhat circular – in many ways ending up where it began. It goes something like this:

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Hiss on Him

In James Pinkerton's mini rant about AIDS activists addressing the pandemic as a social issue as well as scientific-medical issue, he misses the obvious – the underlying factors driving the pandemic are social issues: poverty, gender and other gross inequalities, and the inability to address sexual matters forthrightly and honestly to name a few. Though he goes on about the stigma toward sexual workers, he also misses the obvious point – and one that might actually have some positive impact: this is a demand driven profession.

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HIV Prevention Integral to Reproductive Health

RHReality Check has a series of bloggers from Toronto, looking at HIV prevention through improved access to sexual and reproductive health care. The prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS is integral to sexual and reproductive health – and yet often ignored in that context.

HIV/AIDS, first and foremost, is a sexually transmitted disease. All too often, however, the response ignores the range of life's issues that relate to human sexuality – and neglects to address this disease for what it primarily is – a sexually transmitted disease.

The pandemic is growing fastest among women and young people, fueled by those who believe that knowing less, rather than more, is a road to informed decision making.

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Anti-choice Ballot Backers Can’t Find Support

In the state that is home to some of the most ardent anti-choice activists – Focus on the Family and an incredibly outspoken Catholic bishop – Coloradans rejected a renewed attempt to limit access to abortion services. Despite efforts in every parish and beyond to collect enough signatures to get their measure on the November ballot, they just couldn't cross the threshold.

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Editorial Bends Reality on Parental Notification Law

In Pennsylvania, where there is a hotly contested Senate race between two anti-choice candidates, we'd expect to find editorials supporting the Senate's action this week on the Teen Endangerment Act. The Lancaster New Era couches this, as do supporters of the bill, as an issue of parental notification and NOT as placing limits on abortion rights.

They couldn't have created a more ridiculous "stickman" argument:

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Senate Says “No” to Medically-Accurate Sex Ed

Once again – trying to stop abortion by limiting access, rather than preventing unwanted pregnancy…

A bill to limit access to abortion for young Americans is being debated in the Senate.  In an effort to strengthen the bill, both Senators from New Jersey offered an amendment to provide funding for medically-accurate sex education that helps to delay sexual activity and give young people the information they need to make healthy decisions. They also tried to get support for programs to help parents learn how to talk with their kids about sex.  But unbelievably, I mean really unbelievably, this common sense provision could not get a majority of support in the Senate.  I honestly just do not get it – what is so terrifying about this information?  Boggles the mind.  Kudos to Senators Lautenberg and Menendez for trying.

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And the Philosophical Swing of the Courts Continues…

Today the Senate confirmed ardently anti-choice and anti-woman judge Jerome Holmes to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. This means one more anti-choice individual who thinks that “no issue of our time is more important, not the economy, not the deficit, not health care, not foreign policy, as important as those matters are” will be a sitting judge. A believer that a wife is to subordinate herself to her husband and former president of a state-wide “right to life” coalition, Holmes believes that Roe v. Wade is contrary to the principles of natural law he finds in the Constitution. Holmes was “promoted” from the US District Court to a court that sets binding precedent. No doubt he’s hoping to have some opportunities to set new precedents sometime soon.

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Microbicide Research: Can it Save Women’s Lives?

Microbicides are one of the most promising technologies ever for preventing HIV/AIDS. They could do more to stop the virus — especially for women — than any other prevention tool besides a vaccine.

A briefing on the status of microbicide research was held in Washington, D.C. this week, entitled "Microbicide Reseach, A Promising Prevention Strategy for HIV/AIDS: Can It Save Women's Lives?" A videocast of the entire presentation is available from the Kaiser Network.

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Vice & Virtue, Take Two

Apparently the American-supported government of Afghanistan has begun the process of reinstituting its “Vice and Virtue Ministry.”  Under the Taliban, this official government Ministry employed 32,000 people to enforce stringent religious rules that tilted heavily toward repressing women.  Horror stories have been told about harassment and imprisonment faced by women for offenses including wearing socks that were too translucent, allowing their wrists to show in public, and homeschooling their daughters. 

In this new manifestation, the identically-named ministry – a “symbol of the brutal regime” of the Taliban in the eyes of the Afghan people – will be focused on eliminating the vices of drugs, alcohol, and crime.  President Hamid Karzai has tried to assure the public that it will not be a rebirth of the old program that so affected the lives of women, but we have to ask, why give it a rebirth at all?

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Taking on Child Marriage to Fight Inequity and HIV

Yesterday in the Senate, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced the International Child Marriage Prevention and Assistance Act (S. 3651 — see our Policy Watch section) that will seek to protect young girls in the developing world from forced and early marriages, taking on a major issue facing many girls today. Though it could be perceived as a simple cultural difference on its surface, it presents a major health issue and human rights issue, and it need to be combated.

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