If you have ever seen the popular BBC/PBS television program Call the Midwife1 then you know that the central setting, Nonnatus House, is an Anglican religious order in the East End of London in the 1950s, offering midwifery and medical services to the community. Nonnatus House and Call the Midwife are semi-fictitious creations of author… Read more →
In recent years, there has been great debate about access to contraception, particularly the hormonal birth control pill. In 1957, the first hormonal birth control pill was approved by the FDA for severe menstrual disorders, in 1960 it was approved for contraceptive use, and by 1965 it had been legalized for married couples by the… Read more →
By Adam Turner
Welcome to the inaugural Nursing Clio Pub Quiz, the “Ye Olde America” edition. I just finished teaching a four-week summer course on US women’s history to 1870, which left my head buzzing with little facts and historical anecdotes about women in colonial America and the early republic. Being a fan of trivia (and a bit of a nerd) I decided the perfect outlet for these snippets of the past would be a blog version of the venerable pub quiz. Let’s see how you do! (No Wikipedia peeking, folks.) Good luck!
by Lara Freidenfelds
Recently, a Canadian fertility clinic made the news because it refused to allow a white client to be impregnated with sperm from a donor of color. The clinic director told the media, “I’m not sure that we should be creating rainbow families just because some single woman decides that that’s what she wants.”
When I first read this, I felt offended. Personally. My husband and I are different races, and our kids are bi-racial. I guess I had never proclaimed us a “rainbow family,” but ok. The clinic’s decision to avoid creating bi-racial children seemed like a judgment on my family. Like, my family’s not terrible or anything, but as a society we wouldn’t want to go making extra families like mine if we can stick to normal, uni-racial families. Am I a bad mother because I ignored race when I chose my spouse? Would it have been more responsible of me to have my kids with a white father?
By Heather Munro Prescott
Last year on my personal blog, I wrote of my disappointment that Health and Human Health Secretary Kathleen Sibelius overruled a recommendation by scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg that Plan B One Step be made available over-the-counter without any age restrictions. In her letter to the FDA Commissioner, Secretary Sibelius said that there were “significant cognitive differences” between older adolescents and younger ones So, if age restrictions were removed, then the drug would be available without prescription or other point of sale restrictions for even the youngest girls of reproductive age (the average age of menarche in the U.S. is 11.1 years). Never mind that only 1% of all 11 year old’s have been sexually active (and for those, “sexually active” usually means rape or incest).
This is an unprecedented move by an HHS secretary — i.e. none of her predecessors has ever overruled the FDA on a drug application. It was not the first time that “politics trumped science” when it came to emergency contraception (give background).(during the George W. Bush administration, the problem was the FDA Commissioner).
By Adam Turner
Genetic counseling, as the previous two posts in this series suggest, has a lot to offer for navigating the tricky decisions things like prenatal testing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis raise. Well, in this post I’d like to make things a little more complicated. Enter the sheer messiness of history. I still believe genetic counseling is the best approach we have right now for helping prospective parents with hard choices, but it has a complicated — and not so distant — past that continues to shape counselors’ ways of interacting with clients.
Surprisingly, I have been asked that question on more than one occasion. I have had students ask me during class and once after a conference presentation. The last time I was confronted with this question was in my summer class, when an earnest young student asked, “If you take the racial prejudice out, what’s wrong with eugenics?” The student continued to press his point: “What’s wrong with a program that has the goal of improving the human race and now that genetics is so advanced, surely we could make sure that people have the best genes and traits. Wouldn’t that make for a healthier, happier population?” Hmm. So much to think about here. A program that uses cutting edge science to improve the human race by ensuring that individuals have only the best genes or traits so that people will be healthy and happy? Indeed, what is so bad about that? Who can say, “NO” to having the best genes, being healthy, and being happy? This is precisely the reason why eugenics was fairly easy “to sell” in the early twentieth century. For the sake of brevity, let’s set aside the vast complexity of the science of genetics and pretend that we could just pluck out the “bad” genes and insert the “good” ones on DNA strands so that in a few generations we might have a utopian world filled with people swimming in the luxurious, healthy, and happy waters of the “best” gene pool. At this point, I have two questions. What determines which genes or traits are the “best,” and in this program of improving the human race, who makes the determination of which ones are the best? Me? You? Or what about a panel of experts? Afterall, we are talking about using science and a panel of objective scientific experts seems like an appropriate choice to make these important decisions. Or is it? While we ponder that for a moment, let’s take a look back.
This may come as a shock to some of you, but I have a difficult time talking about sex.
[I will pause a moment while my friends, colleagues, and former students pick themselves up off the floor and recover from the raucous laughter that I’m sure they just engaged in.]
Okay. Let me clarify: I have a difficult time talking with my son about sex.