In the News
December 2014

Supreme Court Saves Texas Abortion Clinics

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that all but eight of the clinics in Texas that perform abortions could be closed temporarily while the state considered an appeal of two provisions of a new state law that required hospital admitting privileges and surgical center standards in clinics.

It would have forced many women in the state to travel more than 150 miles to get to one of the nearest remaining clinics, which would have been clustered in metropolitan areas in the eastern part of the state.

Luckily, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in October to block the state law, sparing all 13 threatened clinics.

Pediatricians Endorse LARC Methods for Teens

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published new guidelines in the journal Pediatrics, recommending that pediatricians discuss IUDs and implants with their adolescent patients before discussing other, shorter-term methods of birth control. The journal article also recommended urging teens to use condoms during each sexual act to prevent disease transmission.

Currently, only 4.5 percent of teens use long-acting reversible methods of contraception (LARC). The AAP is urging that to change because of LARCs’ “efficacy, safety, and ease of use.”

China’s Two-Child Policy

Two years from now all Chinese couples will be permitted to have two children, says a spokesperson for the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The policy was already relaxed last year for couples in which at least one parent was an only child. But only 3 percent of qualified couples applied for permission in the first six months after the policy took effect to have a second child. The Chinese fertility rate is 1.66 children per woman—about half a child lower than replacement rate.

Indian Women Die from Tainted Antibiotics

In the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, 15 women died after undergoing tubal ligations in November. The women who underwent the procedures had been sent home with ciprofloxacin, a common antibiotic. Testing of the tablets after the women’s deaths found that they were contaminated with zinc phosphide—a chemical compound commonly used in rat poison. This is not the first time the pharmaceutical company Mahawar Pharmaceuticals has been faulted; in 2012, it was banned from producing drugs for 90 days for manufacturing sub-standard drugs.

Female sterilization is the most common form of birth control in India. More than 35 percent of Indian women who are married or in a relationship have been sterilized—the percentage rises predictably for women who have achieved their desired family size and wish to have no more children.

Favorable Contraceptive Ruling

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dealt an encouraging victory to birth control users and supporters in November. It rejected a claim by religiously affiliated nonprofits that the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act violates the groups’ religious freedom. These groups will therefore still be required to offer contraceptive coverage to their employees at no charge.

Half of Earth’s Vertebrate Wildlife Lost in Past 40 Years

The 2014 Living Planet Report, published by the World Wildlife Fund, revealed that the number of vertebrate animals worldwide declined by 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. Such a drop in 40 years is alarming and much faster than previous declines. The declines are primarily due to habitat loss and degradation, hunting and fishing, and climate change. The report studied the populations of 3,038 mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish species.

The species worst affected were freshwater animals like frogs. The tropics—those in Latin America in particular—saw the greatest declines of any region at up to 83 percent.

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