The story was that abortion could be tolerated in only the most limited of circumstances. Then 99 members of the public were asked what they thought
In 1916, when revolutionaries were putting the final touches to the proclamation of independence, the manifesto of the Irish state, there was one phrase that maintained holding everything up: should it be addressed to the men of Ireland as Pdraig Pearse insisted, or the men and women, as James Connelly argued? Connelly won, but whose revolution it actually was is still up for debate 101 years later.
Last weekend, a national assembly set up by the taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to debate access to abortion in Ireland announced its results. Abortion is still illegal in Ireland( as was the case in Northern Ireland) and Kenny, in the dying days of his leadership, is reticent to lead on the issue. So instead 99 members of the public the Citizens Assembly picked to represent the hearts, intellects and conscience of middle Ireland, were sent away to consider the facts and present their results. Contrary to everyones expectations they voted overwhelmingly not only to recommend legalising abortion but under circumstances more liberal than anyone guessed possible.
The narrative up until now has been that abortion in Ireland could be tolerated in only the most limited of circumstances. There are good abortions: fatal foetal abnormalities, rape, incest. And then there are bad abortions: women who for whatever personal reason no longer want to be pregnant. The spectre of British-style abortion loomed in the public conscious, the worry that unrestricted access would result in feckless women discontinuing pregnancies on caprices, giddy on cosmopolitans during Sex and the City binge-watches.
It seemed to become socially acceptable to casually dismiss the two sides of the abortion debate as being as bad and as extreme as each other. That the anti-choice side groups that regularly display gruesome images of late-term abortions outside public builds, set up fake counselling services to frighten pregnant teens into continuing their pregnancies, and claim abortion leads to infertility are in their style, just as extreme as the pro-choice side. Theyre the ones that argue its a matter best left between a woman and her doctor.
Ireland is still a very conservative country. News organisations sent their religion affairs reporter to cover the assemblys seeing , not their health correspondent. The Irish prime minister casually uses the phrase abortion on demand in interviews. Images of heavily pregnant women and newborns illustrate abortion news tales. There was even the jaw-dropping audacity of Sinn Fin until very recently bragging it was a pro-life party.
I grew up in a typical midlands household in Ireland, and like most Irish people I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. Up until my early 20 s, when abortion became more real and less philosophical, I was unthinkingly anti-abortion. I remember the day we encompassed it in religion class. There was one chapter on it in our book, and at the end 10 reasons set out above it was wrong and two why some people thought it was OK. There was little deliberation. A room full of curious, intelligent, ambitious young lady, and our minds were as certain, closed and stupid as an unread book.
There was a really lovely young geography educator at our school. A few years after I left school, she got pregnant and then found out she had cancer. She decided to stop the treatment because it would set her pregnancy at risk. She miscarried, then slipped into a coma and died. Its not my place to even imagine the hopeless loneliness of her selection, but in a culture that told her motherhood mattered above all else, I wonder how much choice she truly had. Or was what she felt she had to do so obvious, she merely couldnt find her way out of it? I wish she had been more selfish. I wish she had insisted her own life was worth fighting for.
Centuries of colonisation do strange things to a nations male psyche. For a long time, females were daughters or mothers but never comrades, never equals: loved but never really liked. Those who didnt play by the rules could be sent away to laundries and never seen again. The classmate that never came back to school, the sister that couldnt be mentioned again, all those empty chairs a warning to the women left behind. Play by the rules or the bogeyman will come and get you.
The assemblys recommendations are just that, recommendations. They are not legally binding. We now have to wait for government to discuss and decide on the wording of any referendum that might take place. It is unlikely to be as liberal as I would like, or as the recommendations themselves. Despite all this, I still have hope because, just as with the recent referendum to legalise same-sex matrimony, I eventually heard the voice of the kind, sensible, compassionate Irish people I know and love. I have hope that we might eventually have a country worthy of the women and men that live there. Until that happens, its not my revolution.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Painkiller manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser settled an Australian class action over its specific pain range last month
A $ 3.5 m class action over Nurofen tablets that falsely claimed they could target specific types of ache could yield very small payments for individual claimants, if everyone who bought the products steps forward.
The painkillers manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser, resolved the class action over its specific ache range at the federal court in Sydney last month.
According to the terms of that settlement, which was reached on behalf of claimants by law firm Bannister Law, each person who claimed to have bought the relevant painkillers between 2011 and 2015 would receive a situate sum in compensation per packet.
If the settlement is under-subscribed; that is, if the total amount claimed at the end of the settlement period is less than whatever funds remain once the third-party settlement administrator has been paid, then the leftover funds are returned to Reckitt Benckiser.
But if there are too many claimants for everyone to be paid the decide fee, the funds get paid to individual claimants will be adjusted at a pro rata rate.
Say only$ 2m is claimed out of the $3.5 m, and its $500,000 for the administrator and there is still$ 1m there, that money will go back to the respondent, Bannister Law lawyer Diane Chapman, who conducted the class action, told Guardian Australia.
But if there are 10 million Australians who applied for the funds it may only be a one-off pay of not a very large amount.
Chapman said that scenario was not out of the question.
Any person who bought one of the designated products between 2011 and 2015 is eligible to join the class action by applying online and then filling out a statutory declaration, which will be emailed out.
No proof of buy is necessitated, but those who claim to have spent more than $200 on the painkillers may be audited to determine both the veracity of their assert and the size of their settlement.
As of 31 July, the date the settlement was agreed, the class action had 1,700 members. A spokesman for Bannister Law said that number was growing daily.
The final number of members will not be determined until four months from the settlement hearing, which will be before the federal court in Sydney on 20 September.
Reckitt Benckiser was penalty $1.7 m by the federal tribunal in 2016 for misinforming customers about its range of specific pain products, which were variously packaged as targeting migraines, tension headaches, period ache and back pain. The fine was afterward increased on appeal to$ 6m, the highest-ever penalty for misinforming conduct under Australian consumer law.
Nurofen confessed to the court that all products contained exactly the same active ingredient, 342 mg of ibuprofen lysine, and none were more or less effective than any of the others at alleviating a specific source of pain.
The products were more expensive than standard Nurofen products, which use a different ibuprofen formula.
Chapman said some customers, particularly those with chronic pain issues, had expended several thousand dollars on the products.
There is a real social justice issue in this case, Chapman said. Theres a lot of people out there that would like to know that Reckitt Benckiser has done the incorrect thing and consumers have got some recompense.
Reckitt Benckiser did not respond to a request for comment.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
( CNN) Life expectancy in the United States has dropped again following last year’s decline, which marked the first downturn in more than two decades.
When a patient goes to the best hospital, he or she usually hopes for a doctor who is knowledgeable and experienced. Something else to wish for? A girl physician.
In a country where more than 65% of women dont use contraceptives and terminating pregnancy is illegal, torturous practices are often the only option
Outside the gates of Manilas Quiapo church, deals are being done. Bitter herbs and abortion drug are traded illegally.
Next to an imposing statue illustrating a foetus clasped in the hands of Christ, stalls offer an array of rosary beads, amulets, mangoes and songbirds. Here, the abortion pill misoprostol is on sale for just$ 5( 3.90 ), as well as the herb pamparegla, which can induce menstruation and aim pregnancy. All this goes on in the shadows of the largest Catholic church in Manila.
The irony is not lost on womens rights activists who want legal access to abortion.
Marevic Parcon has been called an abortion cheerleader. Its no understatement. In a country with an outright ban on processes and conservative opinions on contraception, she is defiant in the face of criticism.
I mean, why not? Is it shameful? At the end of the working day abortion is about human rights, she says. No matter how much they deny the existence of abortion in the country, its happening under their noses.
Parcon is programme coordinator at the Womens Global Network for Reproductive Rights( WGNRR ). If you are for womens rights, it is inevitable to talk about sexual and reproductive health and rights. And you cannot talking here sexual and reproductive health without talking about abortion rights.
Her views dont go down well in a country where more than 80% of the population are Catholic and the church holds tremendous sway.
Such conservative postures kept an act awarding universal access to family planning at bay for 14 years.
More than 65% of women dont use modern contraceptives, and maternal mortality rates are still high in the Philippines, standing at 114 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015.
It was the efforts of women like Parcon that eventually helped drive the law over the line. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act also referred to as RH law was ultimately passed in 2012.
This whole culture of patriarchy controls womens bodies. Women should be able to exercising their own sexuality and they should be able to enjoy sex, says Parcon, who has been on the frontline of womens rights activism for more than 20 years.
Although its against the law to objective a pregnancy in the Philippines, an estimated 610,000 abortions take place every year.
Its an open secret that techniques are available, albeit unsafe ones.
As well as the herbs and medications on offer at Quiapo, women who want to end unplanned pregnancies have their stomachs massaged hard every day for a week, in the hope of inducing abortion.
It is horrific. It is tantamount to torture, says Parcon. Unsafe abortion is torturous to women, especially the massage kind, because it is so painful.
Others resort to barbaric methods such as inserting barbecue sticks or coathangers into their womb, or throwing themselves down the stairs. Three girls succumb every day from post-abortion complications in the Philippines.
The job of campaigning for womens reproductive health and rights there is tough. But its about to get tougher. Although the work of Parcons organisation, WGNRR, is not funded by the US, Donald Trumps decision to reinstate the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, will bolster her opponents.
The gag rule bans foreign aid to international healthcare providers who discuss abortion or advocate abortion rights.
It will definitely make it more difficult for any reproductive health NGO, says Parcon.
When you talk about reproductive health you will always touch on abortion. The global gag rule says that even the mere mention of abortion is not allowed. It is a challenge a big, big challenge. But its not something we should be afraid of.
On paper the Philippines looks like its making progress on uphold womens rights. In 2009 the Magna Carta of Women was introduced, promising to eliminate discrimination against females by recognising, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Filipino girls. The country has also ratified the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against females( Cedaw ).
But the fight over the introduction of the reproductive health law clearly showed that the country still has a long way to go.
Everything was reduced to the debate of whether or not contraception was[ causing abortion][ but] how are you able enjoy life if you have 12 kids? asks Parcon.
There are other hurdles ahead: the furnish of contraceptives is poor, and legal challenges from religion groups are blocking distribution of the contraceptive implant.
But Parcon remains positive.
My hope is that one day Filippino girls can say abortion and that theres no dishonor in the word. Before, we couldnt even have this conversation. But right now we are having it, so there is hope.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Those opposing epidemic say 2030 target is unrealistic as make further efforts to defeat it falter amid rising infection levels and drug resistance
Efforts to combat Aids in Africa are seriously faltering, with drugs beginning to lose their power, the number of infections rising and funding declining, raising the prospect of the epidemic once more spiralling out of control, experts have warned.
The UN has set a target of 2030 for the end of Aids, which has been endorsed by donor governments including the US, where the president, Barack Obama, said the end was in sight last month.
But the reality on the ground, particularly in the developing world, looks very different. Many experts believe that the epidemic will continue to spread and the Aids death toll, still at 1.5 million people a year, could begin to soar again.
Prof Peter Piot, the first executive director of UNAIDS and director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Protector: I dont believe the slogan the end of Aids by 2030 is realistic and it could be counterproductive. It could suggest that its fine, its all over and we can move to something else. No. Aids is still one of the biggest killers in the world.
If we only do as well as we have been doing, the number of people with HIV will go up even beyond its previous peak, Gates said. We have to do an incredible amount to reduce the incidence of the number of people get the infection. To start writing the story of the end of Aids, further ways of thinking about therapy and prevention are essential.
Those fighting the epidemic face a devastating combining of problems 😛 TAGEND Every year, around the world, nearly 2 million people, 60% of them girls and young women, become newly infected with the virus, despite prevention endeavors. In developing countries, HIV is becoming resistant to the drugs used to treat people and keep them well, which means they will increasingly require other drugs that are currently unaffordable. Donor countries are cutting back on funding. A girl walks past Aids information on the wall of the Redemption hospital in New Kru Town near Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo/ EPA
( CNN) A new cluster of Elizabethkingia infection, previously rarely seen in humans, has been found in Illinois, health officials said Wednesday.
For years, the poet and author tried to keep her cerebral palsy secret. Then motherhood and a new love taught her to make peace with her body
There are ways to cover for the fact that you cant run like the other children, or skate, or climb fencings, or ride your flowered banana seat bike without educate wheels. My own strategy was to suggest alternatives, offering to bring out a board game, colouring volumes and crayons, or my brand new, unopened jigsaw puzzle with the picture of a farm scene on its box. If my friends countered by asking to play hopscotch, a game that would require each of us to stand first on one foot, which I could do fine, then on the other, which I couldnt do at all, Id act like the idea was too dull to hold. If they suggested we play cards, Id say yes, but reluctantly, willing someone else to insist on shuffling since it takes two good hands to bend and riffle each half of the deck. More often I told them, truthfully, that Id instead grab our dolls and play house or store or any other game of pretend.
Pretending, after all, was the thing I was best at. It was the sorcery that allowed me to occupy any capable, agile, graceful body I chose.
In our mobbed box of curled family photos there is only one picture that includes the leg bracing I was made to wear because of my cerebral palsy, though even here it is barely visible. A slight protrusion beneath the fabric of my pants, a hint of metal peeking from the hem, the single angled strap that attached it to my shoe. Im three years old in the photo, the same age I was the first time I held it in my hand. Oh, I said. Id watched posters for the March of Dimes with images of children leaning on crutches or sitting in wheelchairs, and now I assured that I was like them in some way. This struck me as nothing more than an ordinary fact. Oh.
Shortly after that picture was taken, my doctor decided I only needed to wear the bracing in bed at night. Daytimes, it lived in the back of my closet, tucked in a brown paper grocery bag. My mother let me to leave it home whenever I slept at a friends house, or in its hiding place when a friend sleep at mine. Maybe this was how I got the idea that my cerebral palsy could and should be kept secret. This, coupled with the fact that my father never mentioned it, and that my mother, when she did discuss it, said, Its nothing, hardly noticeable, dismissively waving her hand. To me, my body was simply my body, the only one Id known, and so I thought the brace was my disability. As long as I kept it out of sight, I fitted in with my friends.
Lets feign we walk like people who limp, Lisa Lowenstein suggested one muggy afternoon in our sixth summer. She slid off the stoop and began hobbling in a circle, and though the game constructed me uneasy, I get up and did my best to imitate her awkward moves.
Lisa paused to observe me. Just walk like you always do, she advised. You walk like people who limp.
Oh, I said, just as I had when I first saw the photo where Im wearing my bracing. Merely this time my throat tightened around the word.
In middle school, I detected it helped to carry fictions in my backpack. That way, if my friends decided to pay handball at the park or zip around the neighborhood on their 10 speeds, I could pull out my volume and say, Im too caught up in this right now, which, soon enough, would be true.
I also get good at finding the girls who were happy to sit inside, listening to records, and the few left who, like me, were slow to give up Barbies and other daydreaming various kinds of games.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
( CNN) A relatively new mosquito-borne virus known as Zika move quickly spread to more than two dozen countries.
Transmitted by the aggressive Aedes aegypti mosquito, the virus has been linked to a heart wrenching neurological disorder that results in newborns being born with abnormally small heads.