A clinic dedicated to providing reproductive health services to Afghan women opened its doors in Kabul this past weekend – one of the first to provide comprehensive services since the repressive Taliban regime took over in 1996. Marie Stopes International (MSI), a British-based global reproductive and women’s health partnership, opened the clinic that will provide preventive maternal health care, family planning, child health care and abortions in limited cases to an immediate population of close to 1 million. In addition, MSI will be opening several mini clinics in United Nations Habitat women’s community centers throughout 15 districts of Kabul, which will provide counseling, education and maternal and child health services with referrals to MSI’s main clinic for specialized treatment.
“We looked at the feasibility of opening [an MSI clinic] in Afghanistan some years ago and it was one of the hardest decisions we had to make not to go ahead,” wrote Julie Mundy, regional representative for MSI, in The London Times. “We realized that, because of the attitude of the Taliban, women would be a taking a considerable risk by coming to the clinic. We learned that to prevent a pregnancy, women would stand against walls while sisters of friends smashed them with rocks. To induce an abortion, they used sticks and stones or pummeled their stomachs. Clinics are desperately needed.”
Afghanistan currently has the second highest number of maternal deaths in the world –16,000 women die annually from pregnancy-related causes. Abortion, which was outlawed under the Taliban, is now allowed by the new Afghan government for up to 12 weeks if a woman’s life is at risk. An Afghan management and clinic team will lead MSI’s clinic, with outside support from MSI’s global partnership. The clinic also will be working closely with the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, according to MSI.
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .