What We're Reading - July 24
Good morning, everyone! From the fate of Texas women to updates from the International AIDS conference, here’s what we’re reading this morning….
The fate of Texas women, what will happen? “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives” — “THERE ARE things about women that most men would just as soon never discuss. The stirrups in a gynecologist’s office, for one; the tampon aisle at the grocery store, for another; and pretty much any matter involving words like ‘cervix,’ ‘uterus,’ and ‘vagina.’ At least, that’s how it was until March 2, 2011. Back in January of the same year, at the start of that legislative session, Governor Rick Perry had pushed as an emergency item a bill requiring all women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound 24 hours beforehand. As Sid Miller, the legislator who sponsored the bill in the House, put it, ‘We want to make sure she knows what she is doing.’… Miller’s bill was only the beginning of what turned out to be the most aggressively anti-abortion and anti-contraception session in history. In the words of one female reporter who covered the Legislature, ‘It was brutal.’ Not only did the sonogram law pass, but drastic cuts were made to statewide family planning funds, and a Medicaid fund known as the Women’s Health Program was sent back to Washington, stamped with a big ‘No thanks.’ When the dust settled, Texas had turned down a $9-to-$1 match of federal dollars, and the health care of 280,000 women had been placed in jeopardy. And that wasn’t all. Earlier this year, around the time that the new laws began to take effect, an epic, if short-lived, fight broke out between Planned Parenthood and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, pitting two of Texas’s most powerful women against each other and highlighting the agonizing, divisive nature of the debate over women’s health. No sooner had this conflict subsided than the Legislature’s decision to kill the Women’s Health Program was dragged into the courts for a series of reversals and counter-reversals that is still not resolved.’’
Health care coverage expanded for children of same-sex partners. “Kids of same-sex partners to get health coverage” — “The Office of Personnel Management wants to extend health care coverage to the children of same-sex spouses and domestic partners of federal employees. Those children would be defined as stepchildren under a newly proposed regulation, making them eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program. OPM published the regulation on July 20 in the Federal Register and is accepting comments until Sept. 18. The federal government employs an estimated 34,000 gay and lesbian workers who are in domestic partnerships, but it is unknown how many of those domestic partners have children who would benefit from this change. The change is the latest in a string of benefits extended to the families of gay and lesbian feds by the Obama administration. In 2010, OPM allowed employees to add their same-sex partners to their long-term care policies, and made their partners and partners’ children eligible for child care subsidies and services, credit union membership and other forms of employee assistance.”
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks about the goal of an AIDS-free generation. “International AIDS Conference Opens At Key Turning Point” — “Some 34.2 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and 2.5 million were infected last year. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the goal is an AIDS-free generation. That would mean no babies would be born infected, young people would have a much lower risk than today of becoming infected and people who already have HIV would receive life-saving drugs so they wouldn't develop AIDS or spread the virus. ‘I am here today to make it absolutely clear the U.S. is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation,’ Clinton told the more than 20,000 scientists, people living with HIV and policymakers assembled for the conference. But it will require smart targeting of prevention tools where they can have the greatest effect. ‘If we want to save more lives, we need to go where the virus is,’ she said. First, Clinton said it's possible to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV from infected pregnant women to their babies by 2015, by getting the mothers onto anti-AIDS drugs. HIV-infected births are rare in the United States and are dropping steadily worldwide, although some 330,000 children became infected last year. Clinton said the U.S. has invested more than $1 billion toward that goal in recent years and is providing an extra $80 million to help poor countries finish the job.”