Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
A group of women's doctors called on its members this week to ask patients about "sabotage" of birth control by their partners. They said abusive men have put holes in condoms, forced women to have unprotected sex or done other things to cause pregnancy. Some states that cut back on mental health services during the recession are restoring funds, the Associated Press said. The change of direction was prompted by two mass shootings last year. Bird flu studies will resume after adoption of new safety rules in several countries, researchers said this week. A court hearing has begun over New York City's planned restrictions on the size of sodas sold in restaurants and movie theaters. The soft drink industry and several other groups oppose the rules.
This Issue: Doctors Denounce 'Birth Control Sabotage' States Weigh Mental Health Services after Shootings Bird Flu Research to Resume under New Safety Rules Soda Makers Fight NYC Size Limits in Court
In the News:
Doctors Denounce 'Birth Control Sabotage'
A man pulls off a condom during sex, or threatens a woman so she'll get an abortion. These are examples of "reproductive coercion," a major group of doctors for women said this week. The new statement came from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Preventing a woman from making choices about birth control and pregnancy is a form of abuse, ACOG said. It said doctors should look out for such abuse and help patients avoid it. The statement cited a study of teens in abusive relationships. About 25% reported "birth control sabotage." So did 15% of physically abused women. Examples include destroying birth control pills or forcing a woman to have unprotected sex. Some men have even pulled out intrauterine devices (IUDs) and vaginal rings, ACOG said. The group urges doctors to screen patients and refer those who are abused to counseling. ACOG said doctors also can help by providing means of birth control that are harder to detect. They can even cut off the strings that are used to remove an IUD. The journal Obstetrics & Gynecology published the statement. USA Today wrote about it.
States Weigh Mental Health Services after Shootings
Some states that chopped mental health services spending during the recession are backtracking. The Associated Press (AP) wrote about the trend this week. Little is known about the mental health of the men who killed dozens in a Colorado theater and a Connecticut school. But the events have prompted some states that slashed social spending to take a second look. Opponents of tougher gun laws also have suggested better mental health services as an alternative. About 30 states have reduced mental health spending since 2008, the National Alliance on Mental Illness said. The cuts included closing of 9 state hospitals. In South Carolina, which had major cuts, the governor has proposed a boost in spending, AP said. Oklahoma and Kansas have already increased funds. The Republican Governors Association told AP that some governors are considering a boost in mental health spending "to further invest in the safety of their citizens."
Bird Flu Research to Resume under New Safety Rules
Scientists who agreed to halt research on bird flu last year said this week that they will resume their work. It will take place under new rules to ensure safety. Bird flu is often deadly in birds and in people. But so far people have caught it only from birds. Researchers in the Netherlands and the United States said a year ago that they had created a version of the virus in their labs that spread easily between ferrets. Humans have a flu response similar to these animals. The purpose of the research was to gauge the risk that the virus will change by itself to spread easily between people. But governments became alarmed about security. They worried that terrorists could get access to the altered virus. Scientists who did the studies agreed to halt their work last January. So did dozens of other leading flu researchers. Since then, several countries have issued new rules. The United States expects to finalize its own in the next few weeks. The scientists announced their plan to resume their work in letters to the journals Science and Nature. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Soda Makers Fight NYC Size Limits in Court
The beverage industry and New York City health officials faced off in court this week over the city's size limit for sugary drinks. The board of health adopted a limit of 16 ounces last year. It applies to cup and container sizes for drinks sold by restaurants, movie theaters and some other eateries. It does not apply to grocery and convenience stores. The American Beverage Association sued in Manhattan state Supreme Court. The industry group said this week that the rule is an "extraordinary infringement" on consumer choice. A lawyer for the health department that said it is reasonable and within the department's powers. Korean grocers and movie theater owners also are involved in the suit. The law is scheduled to take effect March 12. Others trying to stop it include the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation. They said the law will unduly harm small stores owned by minorities. The Associated Press wrote about the case.
Used with the permission of the copyright owner. All rights reserved. The above summaries are not intended to provide advice on personal medical matters, nor are they intended to be a substitute for consultation with a physician.