By Elizabeth Reis
The Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Informed Choice have filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS), Greenville Hospital System, the Medical University of South Carolina, and several medical personnel for allowing physicians to remove the atypical genitals of a 16-month-old toddler because that child, in the state’s custody at the time, was born with an intersex condition. M.C. had been identified male at birth, but his genitals were sufficiently indeterminate that surgeons removed his ambiguous phallus, a testis, and testicular tissue on one gonad, and surgically created an ostensible approximation of female genitals. The suit asserts that there was no medical need for this surgery, which was meant to permanently “fix” this child and turn him into an unequivocal girl, but it did him more harm than good. M.C., now eight years old, feels more like a boy, lives as a boy, and heartbreakingly has asked his mother, “When will I get my penis?”
Posts from the ‘Health Care’ Category
By Elizabeth Reis
By Cheryl Lemus
In the past few days, Americans (and I am sure many people around the globe) have read Angelina Jolie’s startling announcement that she recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery (and as I understand she will also have her ovaries removed). Like most people, I was awestruck by her bravery, her straightforwardness, and her honesty. As a scholar of medicine and gender and women's history, I was instantly struck by how her melodic narrative described her agency as both a patient and a woman. Her op-ed also conveyed a dream of perfect medical care, family support, and clarity in making a very profound decision that would have a major impact on her future health. But as much as I marveled at her decisions (as did so many other individuals), my academic training immediately brought a level of cynicism that I could not easily dismiss (and I am not alone). I almost instantly began to think about Angelina Jolie the celebrity, not Angelina Jolie the common woman.
By Elizabeth Reis
Thirty years ago I went to the Berkeley Women’s Health Collective to get fitted for a cervical cap. “What is that?” some of you might be wondering. The cervical cap is a barrier form of birth control, which fell out of favor when easier hormonal methods became more popular and more effective. It worked by inserting the cap before intercourse and removing it a few hours later. The cap blocked sperm from entering the cervix. And it had the advantage of not interfering with the spontaneity of sex because it could be inserted up to several hours before. I liked the method, but I didn’t like what I had to do in order to get fitted for it.
By Austin McCoy
On December 15, 2011, the Obama administration announced “administration action” to protect the nation’s 1.7 million home care workers. President Obama called for the establishment of minimum wage and overtime standards that all workers recognized in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) received. These new reforms would virtually eliminate the “elder companion exemption” in the FLSA that Congress established in 1974 which allowed home care employers to continue their exploitation of home care workers.
President Obama delivered this announcement four years after the Supreme Court decided unanimously that the case’s plaintiff Evelyn Coke, and other home care workers, were not entitled to minimum wage protections and overtime pay. Like most home care workers, Evelyn Coke worked long hours for little pay. Coke performed what scholars Jennifer Klein and Elieen Boris call “intimate labor”—she cooked, cleaned, and bathed her clients. Coke worked 24 hour shifts often and she worked decades without receiving benefits. When Coke decided to sue for back pay, the Supreme Court ruled against her, reinforcing the historical stigmatization of intimate labor. Two years later, the home care workers’ movement lost Evelyn Coke. Home care workers are still waiting for Obama’s “administration action" four years after the ruling.
By Sandra Trudgen Dawson
When Margaret Thatcher died on Monday, her policies, leadership, and legacy evoked strong reactions. Margaret Thatcher has been hailed Britain’s finest postwar leader; the person who single-mindedly transformed Britain’s society; the leader who “did the necessary” to remake Britain’s ailing economy. She fought an Imperialist war and she won. Thatcher was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Britain and, considering the current pool of candidates, she might continue to be the only woman to achieve that position for the next decade. Educated at the elite Somerville College, Oxford in the late 1940s, Thatcher believed she could reverse the postwar consensus that laid the foundation of the welfare state and the idea that all Britons should have the right to a certain standard of living. She was a committed capitalist and believed that Britain had strayed from capitalism--or at least her form of capitalism. Thatcher claimed only those who worked hard and pulled themselves up by the bootstraps should expect a good standard of living, that it was a reward, not an entitlement.
North Dakota has become a very dangerous place for women. On Tuesday Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-abortion measures into law. The first, HB 1305, bans abortions performed because of genetic abnormalities or for the purpose of gender selection; the second, HB 1456, bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; and the third, SB 2305, requires any physician performing an abortion to have admitting and staff privileges at a local hospital. Individually, each of these bills makes it much more difficult to secure a safe and legal abortion in North Dakota, effectively policing patients’ reasons for electing an abortion, shortening the legal time period for seeking that abortion (fetal heartbeats can sometimes be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy), and limiting the number of qualified abortion providers in the state. Taken together, they constitute a full-scale assault on the rights secured by Roe v. Wade. I have questions. Who gets to decide whether a woman wants an abortion for acceptable reasons? How will the presence of a fetal heartbeat be determined -- perhaps through a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound? And with a single clinic currently operating as the only safe and legal facility for abortions, doesn't this hospital-privilege requirement effectively eliminate abortion in North Dakota anyway? What are the class implications of making abortion available only to those who can travel out of the state?
By Helen McBride
Under the backdrop of International Women’s Day, parties on opposite sides of the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland have come together in order to attach an abortion amendment to Stormont’s Criminal Justice Bill. Paul Givan of the DUP and Alban Maginness of the SDLP have tabled an amendment that would prevent private clinics from performing abortions, and restrict the practice to the NHS. It seems typical of political parties here to unite on a non-existent threat. The Marie Stopes Clinic, of which this amendment is undoubtedly the target, has always maintained an agreement to carryout medical procedures only within the legal framework that exists in Northern Ireland. Terminations are provided in Northern Ireland up to nine weeks gestation and only when the life of the pregnant women is at risk. Yet the motivation for this amendment has been a response to what Givan calls "the challenge that was presented when the Marie Stopes clinic opened in Northern Ireland and that revealed a loophole that private clinics are wholly unregulated.” This amendment will effectively criminalize the Marie Stopes Clinic, and with it, the women who need access to its legal services.
I grew up on Hayling, a small Island off the coast of Hampshire, between the mainland cities of Portsmouth and Chichester. We moved there in 1968. It was a very rural island with several dairy and fruit farms as well as holiday camp physical and mental disabilities-- differently abled children.
By Sandra Trudgen Dawson
My first job as a State Registered Nurse in mid-1980s Britain was night shift on an Acute Geriatric ward in Portsmouth. The shifts were long—eleven and a half hours—and it was hard, physical work. All sorts of strange things happen at night. At times it felt as though the ward was bewitched—sometime around midnight. Hospital patients who were perfectly sane during daylight hours became confused, frenzied and belligerent after darkness fell. Nakedness, for some reason and for some patients, became an urgent necessity as did climbing over bed rails or side tables. Zimmer frames (walking frames) and walking aids so benign on dayshift, transformed into fencing weapons at night as patients who had bottled up a lifetime of frustration finally let go. Keeping sparing patients apart can occupy nurses for hours at night. Hiding potential weapons does not always help as water jugs and cups can become flying missiles at night. Patients in Britain, unlike the United States, cannot be physically restrained in any way and so “sitting” with an agitated patient is the only action to prevent falls or the accidental maiming of another patient.
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
This past May, I attended the annual meeting of the Western Association of Women Historians, which is one of my favorite history conferences (I’m pretty sure there is no other history organization that concludes its awards banquet with a sing-a-long). Usually I hate to miss any of the sessions. But this year, I snuck off with Cheryl Lemus and another historian (I’ll call her L) to do a little “mentoring” in the shops of Berkeley. This isn’t totally facetious, as we were on a mission: to find me a properly fitted sports bra. I had started running a few months earlier, and while I had great shoes and a snazzy outfit, certain other areas of my anatomy were feeling less well-equipped. Cheryl and L are seasoned runners, and they were appalled by my bounce. So, we headed to the only place where any self-respecting women’s historian would go for such things: Title IX Sports.