Scientists studying AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases report that their research grants face political scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or by members of Congress. The New York Times reports that scientists were advised to avoid certain phrases in their grant applications, such as “sex workers,” “men who sleep with men,” “anal sex,” and “needle exchange.”
Dr. Alfred Sommer, dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times that the fear of political scrutiny was creating a “pernicious sense of insecurity” among researchers. “If people feel intimidated and start clouding the language they use, then your mind starts to get cloudy and the science gets cloudy,” Dr. Sommer explained to the Times. One anonymous official called the level of scrutiny under the Bush administration “much worse and more intense” than under any other president, the Times reports.
“The actions of the Bush administration are causing unnecessary fear, disease, and death globally. From pressuring US scientists to ‘sanitize’ their language to pressuring the CDC to weaken their fact sheet on the effectiveness of condoms to pressuring the National Cancer Institute to deny science and falsely imply that abortion is linked to breast cancer, their theocratic impetus denies and obscures the deadly reality of their actions,” said Beth Jordan, MD, medical director of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Next year, federal spending on safe-sex programs to prevent the spread of HIV will take a back seat to programs focusing on the infected population, according to the Los Angeles Times. This new shift will place a greater emphasis on HIV testing and individualized counseling for HIV-positive people and their partners. The shift in policy has drawn criticism from AIDS advocacy groups. “I think it is shortsighted in some ways,” said Daniel Montoya, director of government affairs for AIDS project Los Angeles, according to the LA Times. “Unless you are doing comprehensive prevention, in terms of looking at people who are at risk and not just look at those who are already infected, we may have another epidemic on our hands 10 years down the road.”
Media Resources: New York Times 4/18/03; LA Times 4/18/03; Feminist Majority Foundation
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. . . .