Sunday Morning Medicine

-Sex and polio in the movies.
-Your condoms are not made in Condom, France.
-Oldest message in a bottle found.
-Why abortion apologies hurt the pro-choice cause.
-Ancient Korean love letter unearthed.
-The dangers of deconstructing women.

Meeting Death–Notes from a Living Historical Artifact

I have recently experienced a good deal of (mostly good) healthcare services here in Northern Illinois. For the last three and a half years I have been a patient in and out of various hospitals, undergoing small and large “procedures,” experiencing rehabilitation and a large number of outpatient services. It wasn’t always this way. I am/was a nurse. I was the one giving the care, staying calm in emergencies, answering those difficult questions and doling out reassurance like sandwiches at a picnic. My recent experiences as a patient have brought back a lot of memories and the sudden realization that I am a living, historical artifact. The apprentice-style nurse training I received in Britain in the early 1980s is now defunct and has been replaced by a University degree, higher wages and a level of professionalism even Florence Nightingale could only dream of in 1860 when she established her training school for nurses in London.[1]Britain, the whole world now knows, reveres the National Health Service as a national icon (remember the opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympics in London–dancing nurses in archaic-looking uniforms and nimble-footed doctors prancing around the stadium with their bedded patients?). I think it was watching the NHS tableau that triggered the memory of the time I first met death.

The Blame Game in Autism

The interwebz have been abuzz this week, debating Moises Velasquez-Manoff’s editorial in the New York Times on autism and immune function. Although Velasquez-Manoff is a little late on the autism/immune function thesis (which has been posited in research projects since at least 2005), it’s his use of autism stereotypes and ableist language that put this article on my radar. It’s the assumption that autism is a sign of a broken or damaged child that has made me question both his interpretation of that thesis and the implications for the families of children with autism – and the autists themselves.

Democrats’ Success and Gender Equality Depends Upon Identity Politics

Women speakers made the greatest impact on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Clearly the Democrats aimed to exploit the Republican Party’s woman problem. Women like veteran Tammy Duckworth, republican defector Maria Ciano, NARAL president Nancy Keenan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Lily Ledbetter, citizen Stacy Lihn, and Michelle Obama, all ventured to speak explicitly about a range of policies that the Republicans remained vague about during the RNC last week. Many of them explicitly placed very controversial issues like income equality, contraception, and Obamacare on the table, and not just during the early evening speeches, but during prime time.

Now It’s Everybody’s Fault

By Adam Turner

Welcome to the second in a series of posts discussing genetics, prenatal testing, and genetic counseling. In this post we’ll be thinking about blame and birth atypicality. Earlier this month the New York Times and other news media reported on the findings of a recent study published in the journal Nature. In some cases, the study suggested, the increased genetic mutations found in older men’s sperm could make it more likely their offspring might develop autism or schizophrenia.

Sunday Morning Medicine

-19th century beauty secrets revealed!
-The history of New York in 50 objects.
-When they were young – 30 famous historical figures.
-The controversy over the long-awaited Thalidomide apology.
-The gay artist who defined american masculinity in the early-20th century.
-Do we need to redefine the term “disability?”
-Mysterious new virus found in middle America.

The Flip-flop over Foreskin

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Reis, professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon. Professor Reis is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). This year (2012-2103) she is a visiting scholar in the History of Science Department at Harvard University.

The American Academy of Pediatricians recently released a statement saying that the health benefits of circumcision outweighed the risks. This pronouncement contradicts the Academy’s earlier ruling, just thirteen years ago in 1999, which stated unequivocally that the health benefits of the procedure were slim. The 1999 statement reversed a previous one made in 1989 that said there were good medical reasons for it; but a few years earlier, in 1971, the Academy had officially concluded that it was not a medical necessity. Clearly, circumcision is one of those surgeries about which opinion shifts back and forth over the years.

Adventures in the Archives: Med School Mock Trial?

Welcome to the second installment of our regular feature, “Adventures in the Archives!”
In this reoccurring series, Nursing Clio bloggers will share interesting finds in the archives and ask our readers for feedback, ideas, and analysis. It’s just like you’re sitting in the dusty archives with us!

I spent most of this past June in Philadelphia, doing dissertation research at Drexel University’s Legacy Center – a wonderful little archive devoted primarily to the history of women in American medicine. Because my dissertation focuses on the ways that women influenced the development of gynecology and obstetrics in the United States, I rely heavily on the Legacy Center’s collections, especially their extensive records relating to the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Are You Really Pro-Life?

About two weeks ago, Nicholas P. Carfardi of the National Catholic Reporter, wrote a brief opinion piece and asked who was more pro-life, Obama or Romney? He argued that although Obama is clearly pro-choice, he is actually more pro-life than Romney, because Romney profits from abortions and supports cuts in federal spending that might actually increase the abortion rate. Carfardi did not go further to redefine the term pro-life or call on Catholics and other anti-abortion groups to address this term in a more nuanced and complex manner. I wish he had, because he may have addressed the hypocrisy that lies beneath the term. Look, as a self-exiled Catholic, I am very well aware of the Church’s stance on abortion. I am also familiar with the history of abortion. But that is not what I want to focus on today. The term “pro-life” needs a new definition. There is much more to being pro-life than just praying, preaching, marching, and legislating for the rights of the fetus. Being pro-life means supporting the rights of babies, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. If you are going to claim you are pro-life, then you must support the life outside the womb, not just the one attached to the umbilical cord. So, are you really pro-life?

Sunday Morning Medicine

The history of the “C Word.”
The G-Spot and junk science.
50 Shades of Grey book burnings.
Dishonoring Custer? Srsly!?
King Richard III may be buried under a parking lot.
The Japanese radical who spied on the Black Panthers.
Dr. Seuss’ colorful story about malaria.