Seals occupy California beach as a result of Trump’s Shutdown


Click to enlargeJohn Dell’Osso/AP

❝ Across the nation this week, returning federal workers slogged through backlogs of voicemails, sifted through bursting email inboxes and tried to remember the name of the childhood pet at the beginning of their log-in passwords.

At Drakes Beach, part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, employees had a much bigger problem. Literally. Some of the elephant seal squatters weigh as much as a car.

Before the shutdown — Park officials…used a decidedly low-tech method to enforce an armistice between the mammal species: They waved blue tarps to annoy the seals away from the areas most popular with Homo sapiens.

But the federal government apparently does not regard the tarp-wavers as essential federal employees, so the workers who did it were among the 800,000 furloughed.

❝ During that time, according to the Chronicle, high tides and storms battered the seals’ normal habitat.

So the seals showed up at the suddenly deserted Drakes Beach, and they brought friends and apparently family, too. Seals give birth during winter, and the unoccupied Drakes Beach appears to be an excellent place to raise pups.

Hilarious. Unintended consequences abound throughout the administration of our first fake president.

Some Antibiotics in First Trimester Raise Risk of Major Birth Defects

❝ Several common types of antibiotics were linked both to major congenital and to organ specific malformations in infants when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, a retrospective Canadian cohort study found.

❝ Exposure to antibiotics, such as clindamycin, doxycycline, quinolones, macrolides and phenoxymethylpenicillin, increased the risk of these birth defects, reported Flory T. Muanda, MD, of the University of Montreal, and colleagues.

However, there was no increased risk of major congenital malformations linked to exposure to amoxicillin, cephalosporins, or nitrofurantoin, the authors wrote in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology…

❝ Researchers examined data from the Quebec pregnancy cohort, an ongoing population-based cohort with data on all pregnancies covered by Quebec Public Prescription Drug Insurance from 1998 to 2008, comprising about 140,000 infants.

Be aware.

❝ They concluded that, despite the small absolute risks associated with these birth defects, “physicians should consider prescribing safer antibiotics for the treatment of maternal infections when possible.”

In most wealthier nations the maternal death rate is dropping — just not in the United States

More women are dying in childbirth in the US than in any other developed country. And experts say the problem is likely to keep getting worse.

You can see how alarming the issue is in this chart. In other countries, maternal death rates have fallen sharply since 1990. In South Korea, the rate of women dying in childbirth fell from 20.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 12 today. In Germany, it dropped from 18 to 6.5.

But in the United States, the opposite is happening. The rate of women dying in childbirth is going up.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. During the 20th century, the maternal death rate in the United States dropped from 607.9 deaths per 100,000 births in 1915 to 7.2 in 1987. But over the past 30 years, the maternal mortality rate trend reversed and steadily marched upward.

Pregnancy-related deaths are still rare events in the US; only about 700 women die out of 4 million live births annually. But the US is one of the few rich countries in the world where maternal mortality is steadily rising. The maternal mortality rate has more than doubled since 1987, the first year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began collecting data through its pregnancy mortality surveillance system.

And experts are just now understanding why this is happening — why the United States looks so different from other countries, and why so many more new mothers are dying. They think maternal deaths are rising because of the rising toll of chronic diseases.

Thirty years ago, women died in the delivery room because of hemorrhages and pregnancy-induced blood pressure spikes. Now they are much more likely to die because of preexisting chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes…

❝ “It’s a larger problem than just dealing with women during pregnancy, it’s the health of our society,” said Dr. William Callaghan.

Too bad for women. Too bad for everyone. Especially if you’re Black, btw.

RTFA, understand the sum of variables collectively affecting the life of a Black woman. They are two or three times more likely to die of complications during pregnancy and delivery.

Please, don’t forget we only had a window of a couple of years in the decades since a small number of politicians first proposed National Health Insurance in the United States – and actually got it passed. Don’t forget one of the two laggard political parties we have – will be campaigning right up to Election day this year to overturn that one significant victory for public health achieved in Obama’s first term.

Catholic hospitals put women having miscarriages in danger

The woman inside the ambulance was miscarrying. That was clear from the foul-smelling fluid leaving her body. As the vehicle wailed toward the hospital, a doctor waiting for her arrival phoned a specialist, who was unequivocal: the baby would die. The woman might follow. Induce labor immediately.

But staff at the Mercy Health Partners hospital in Muskegon, Michigan would not induce labor for another 10 hours. Instead, they followed a set of directives written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that forbid terminating a pregnancy unless the mother is in grave condition. Doctors decided they would delay until the woman showed signs of sepsis – a life-threatening response to an advanced infection – or the fetal heart stopped on its own.

In the end, it was sepsis. When the woman delivered, at 1.41am, doctors had been watching her temperature climb for more than eight hours. Her infant lived for 65 minutes.

This story is just one example of how a single Catholic hospital risked the health of five different women in a span of 17 months, according to a new report leaked to the Guardian.

The report, by a former Muskegon County health official, Faith Groesbeck, accuses Mercy Health Partners of forcing five women between August 2009 and December 2010 to undergo dangerous miscarriages by giving them no other option.

All five women, the report says, had symptoms indicating that it would be safest for them to deliver immediately. But instead of informing the women of their options, the report says, or offering to transfer them to a different hospital, doctors – apparently out of deference to the Mercy Health Partners’ strict ban on abortion – unilaterally decided to subject the women to prolonged miscarriages.

As a result, the report claims, several of the women suffered infection or emotional trauma, or had to undergo unnecessary surgery. None of the women were pregnant beyond 24 weeks, when an infant can survive outside the womb.

The report has not previously been made public. And it offers a disturbing look at how religious restrictions may interfere with emergency care. Catholic control of US hospitals has ballooned in the last 15 years, and with it, patient advocates warn, the risk that the US Bishops’ bans on abortion, contraception and sterilization will prevent thousands of women from receiving critical healthcare…

Healthcare watchdogs have documented isolated instances in which Catholic hospitals denied women birth control or sterilization procedures. But this report details some of the the most systematic collisions of religion and medicine ever to surface in public.

RTFA. It’s long and scary.

It behooves you to check out the policies of Catholic hospitals in your neck of the prairie. If you live somewhere like the city of Santa Fe – here in New Mexico – the only Emergency Room within 50 miles is Christus Saint Vincent.

Suffice it to say, the hospital’s name on the streets of Santa Fe is Saint Victims.

Egg freezing as the latest choice in family planning

For decades, “family planning” was synonymous with contraception. The Guttmacher Institute — a prominent reproductive health think tank — stated that “controlling family timing and size can be a key to unlocking opportunities for economic success, education, and equality” for women. In fact, their most recent analysis concluded that effective contraception has contributed to increasing women’s earning power and narrowing the gender pay gap.

Whether for these reasons or not, studies have consistently demonstrated that many women are choosing to delay childbearing. The age of first birth for women in developed countries is now approaching 28 and the birth rate in the USA is at an all time low…it is important that more women become aware of the potential benefit of oocyte freezing. In a recent study called “Baby Budgeting,” one research group described this technique of freezing/storing eggs as a “technologic bridge” from a woman’s reproductive prime to her preferred conception age.

Today egg freezing has made it possible for women to truly “plan their family” by storing eggs for later use. The first successful pregnancy from frozen eggs was reported in 1986. But for decades the process remained very inefficient, requiring about 100 eggs for each successful pregnancy. Therefore, the procedure was considered experimental and primarily offered to women that were faced with chemotherapy, radiation, or other fertility-robbing treatments used to treat serious illnesses. But with the development of more effective techniques for freezing eggs; success rates in many centers using frozen eggs is nearly as good as it is with using fresh eggs.

As a result of this improvement in pregnancy rates, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine lifted the “experimental” label from egg freezing and began supporting its use for social (rather than medical) reasons

For practical reasons, the process of creating a fertility plan should involve consideration of a woman’s current age, how many children she would like to have, and her ovarian reserve. Existing guidelines suggest that if a woman is in good health, younger than 31 with a normal ovarian reserve, she should wait and reevaluate her situation every one to three years. At the other end of the spectrum, if a woman is more than 38, she should consult with a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist to discuss her options.

The wider the range of choices available to a woman, the better. This doesn’t mean choices get easier – but, the ability to choose, to decide when or whether she has a pregnancy, offers a broader look at the life she wants to build.

Sometimes, you’re in real trouble if you take advice on sex from your mom!

Shocked medical staff in a clinic in central Colombia discovered a potato growing inside a patient’s vagina. The bizarre phenomenon was discovered when doctors attended a 22-year-old woman complaining of abdominal pains this week.

The embarrassed young woman explained that she had been advised by her mother to insert a potato into her vagina as a means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy. “My mom told me that if I didn’t want to get pregnant, I should put a potato up there, and I believed her…”

After leaving the tuber in place for around two weeks the good news is that the young woman was not pregnant. The bad news was that she began to experience intense pain in her lower abdomen. The potato had germinated, and grown roots inside the lady’s most private parts.

When the nurse went to examine the patient, she originally thought she had been the target of a practical joke, as she found roots emerging from the young woman´s vagina.

The offending root vegetable was removed without need for surgery, and there should be no lasting physical effects on the young woman…

Sex education is often incomplete in rural Colombia.

Eeoough!

Thanks [I think] Ursarodinia

Limbaugh still confused as ever by contraception

Back in August 2012, Rachel Maddow explained, “Apparently nobody ever explained to [Rush Limbaugh] how birth control works.” Over a year later, the radio host’s contraception confusion seems to be getting worse.

The most obvious example of this came when Limbaugh went after Sandra Fluke, arguing, “The women in her law school program are having so much sex, they are going broke buying birth control pills.” In the radio host’s mind, women apparently are supposed to take birth control pills with every sexual experience. (Note: that’s not how birth control works.)

Yesterday, Limbaugh made matters worse. You may have seen reports that some researchers believe a version of Plan B emergency contraception may be less effective for women over 165 pounds. As Samantha Wyatt noted, this led the radio host to an odd conclusion:

“Now we have learned that American women, 166 pounds and up, the Plan B pill doesn’t work. What will their option be? 166, 170 pound woman, pregnant, she wants to go ahead and get her morning-after pill, and then she’s told, ‘Sorry, you’re too big. You’re too heavy. It won’t work.’ What are her options? Well, she can either go on a diet, or she can get an abortion.”

This just doesn’t make any sense. To hear Limbaugh tell it, pregnant women seek emergency contraception, but that’s plainly wrong – the point of emergency contraception is to prevent pregnancy. It’s why it’s called “emergency contraception.”

Contraception really isn’t that complicated, and yet, Limbaugh continues to say things that suggest he doesn’t understand birth control at all. I’m sure if he asked nicely, Planned Parenthood could send him some brochures that would help him with the basics?

Americans who consciously dedicate their adult lives to superstition and ideology that refuses to confront advances in learning – much less embrace scientific change – are doomed to find themselves painted into corners like this.

If you don’t open your eyes, open your mind, it’s pretty much guaranteed you will harm yourself by running into reality-based immovable objects. The sad bit is that True Believers running along behind the stupidity-bus will likely experience even more injury – unprotected by a money cushion like the one surrounding Limbaugh.

Republican belief in divine rape blows up Senate debate

Republican Richard Mourdock opposes abortion even in cases of rape because such pregnancies are God’s will, he claimed during Tuesday’s final U.S. Senate debate.

“I struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said, choking back tears.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly did not directly respond during the debate to Mourdock’s belief in the divinity of pregnancy by rape. Donnelly said he opposes abortion but supports exceptions for rape, incest and the health of a pregnant woman.

Following the debate, Donnelly said, “The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen — ever.”

“What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape,” Donnelly said.

Aside from abortion, Donnelly and Mourdock reiterated familiar campaign themes during the one-hour debate at Indiana University Southeast…

Despite their differences, the Republican and Democratic candidates both said they support gun rights, oppose gay marriage and are in favor of term limits.

A poll released Tuesday found Donnelly and Mourdock statistically tied in their race to replace Republican Dick Lugar in the U.S. Senate.

Sounds to me like they’re battling to prove who can be the most opportunist in a chamber looking forward to meeting next year’s line-up of lobbyists. With one exception. Time and again, Republican candidates make certain voters know they prefer a theocracy to secular independent government.

That is scary. That is counter to the origins and history of this nation. It certainly contradicts the chosen direction of Western democracy.

Another one of those states where I would be voting against the evil of two lessers. At best.

New hope for older women having a baby using IVF

Older women hoping to conceive through IVF have been given new hope by research which shows age is not the key factor in the technique’s success. A study has found that some women aged 40 could have the same or better chances of having a baby via fertility treatment as a woman in her early thirties.

The findings will be used for a new test, which will assess up to 20 factors affecting fertility before giving couples a percentage rating of their chance of having a baby via IVF.

Although many of the factors which affect fertility are closely associated with ageing, biological age itself is not the best predictor of success or failure, according to the results of the study – which analysed the outcomes of more than 5,000 IVF treatments.

Measurements of hormone levels and the quality of embryos produced in the early stages of fertility treatment were found to give a better indication as to whether it would work, researchers said. Other factors, such as the thickness of the woman’s womb lining, her weight, lifestyle, the number of eggs produced by a woman under stimulation and the quality of the man’s sperm will all be used in new tests to assess the likely success of IVF…

Dr Mylene Yao…said: “After applying a sophisticated analysis programme to factors governing IVF success, we found that a woman of 40 could have the same or better chances of having a live baby as a woman in her early thirties.”

The former professor at Stanford University added: “This is a very important development as we want to get people away from thinking that probability is totally centred on age.

An important study for lots of folks. As much time as I spend battling for individual rights to choose what happens with your body and your life – because most of today’s conservatives and so-called libertarians would take away that right – there is a significant portion of our population equally patronized by nutballs who say you shouldn’t involve science in conception either.

What is it about this consistency in oppression?

Coeds can get “morning-after” pill from a vending machine – and the building hasn’t been struck by lightning, yet!


Look – it’s the Antichrist in chrome and glass!

Students at Shippensburg University in central Pennsylvania can get the “morning-after” pill by sliding $25 into a vending machine installed at the request of the student government.

The Etter Health Center at Shippensburg, a public school of 8,300 students in Appalachia’s scenic Cumberland Valley, provides the Plan B One Step emergency contraceptive along with condoms, decongestants and pregnancy tests. The pill is available without a prescription to anyone 17 or older, and the school checked records and found that all current students are that age or older, spokesman Peter Gigliotti said.

The machine was installed after a request from the student association. The pill’s availability in a vending machine appears to be rare, if not unprecedented…

“The machine is in a private room in our health center, and the health center is only accessible by students,” Gigliotti said in a statement. “In addition, no one can walk in off the street and go into the health center. Students proceed to a check-in desk located in the lobby and after checking in are granted access to the treatment area.”

Taking Plan B within 72 hours of rape, condom failure or just forgetting regular contraception can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent. It works best if taken within 24 hours.

Some religious conservatives consider the emergency contraceptive tantamount to an abortion drug…and like everything else which offends religious nutballs, they believe women don’t have the right to make a choice.

The drug isn’t covered or subsidized by the school. Its price at the vending machine is set by the school’s cost to the pharmaceutical company and is less than at off-campus pharmacies.

Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans made a stink about cut-price pharmaceuticals. After all, they’re locked into their belief that nothing is more important than maximizing profits.

But, you would think that knee-jerk prostration before every Christian pronouncement might give pause, occasionally, to conservatives who used to be independent of just anyone flailing the air with his bible. I have no doubt we’ll hear from Sanctimonius Santorum and the Holy Boehner before the day is out.

This will be a delightful object lesson for the students about asking permission from some church-or-other before they make a decision.