Friday, May 13, 2022 | Kaiser Health News

Longer Looks: Interesting Reads You Might Have Missed

Each week, KHN finds longer stories for you to enjoy. This week’s selections include stories on abortion, sex education, phalloplasty, body issues, opioids, Florence Nightingale, and much more.

The Religious Right And The Abortion Myth

On the face of it, Samuel Alito’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, published by POLITICO last week, represents a vindication for the Religious Right, the culmination of nearly five decades of working to outlaw abortion. “I don’t know if this report is true,” said evangelist Franklin Graham of the draft opinion overturning abortion rights, “but if it is, it is an answer to many years of prayer.” The history of that movement, however, is more complicated. White evangelicals in the 1970s did not mobilize against Roe v. Wade, which they considered a Catholic issue. They organized instead to defend racial segregation in evangelical institutions, including Bob Jones University. (Balmer, 5/10)

The Sex Ed Wars Will Never End

In 1980, New Jersey became the first state to require sex education in all its public schools. That caught the attention of the Moral Majority, a political organization founded the previous year by fundamentalist minister Jerry Falwell to infuse Christian values into public policy. Converging on a hearing of the state board of education, members of the group denounced sex education for placing “godless ethics” over Biblical absolutes. They especially bridled at the curriculum’s “normalization” of homosexuality, which they called a sin before God, and even claimed sex education would encourage “public acceptance of pedophilia.” (Zimmerman, 5/11)

The Tiniest Babies: Shifting The Boundary Of Life Earlier 

Michelle Butler was just over halfway through her pregnancy when her water broke and contractions wracked her body. She couldn’t escape a terrifying truth: Her twins were coming much too soon. … Until recently, trying to save babies born this early would have been futile. Butler was in the fifth month of her pregnancy, one day past 21 weeks gestation. (5/11)

The New York Times:
How Ben Got His Penis: Phalloplasty Remains A Controversial Procedure

Phalloplasty, or surgery to construct a penis, is one of medicine’s most complex procedures. Though it technically refers to one step in a long process — the construction of a phallus from a flap of one’s own skin — the term is used more generally to describe a suite of modular surgeries, each attending to a different penile function. … The penis procreates, urinates and transmits pleasure. It reacts to temperature, emotion and touch — a complex assemblage of tubes, tissue and nerve, configured in the awkward crook of space between the legs. (Keiles, 5/10)

The Washington Post:
How Parents Pass On Body Issues To Their Kids 

Gisela Sandoval was on a shopping trip with her mother and 10-year-old daughter, watching as her daughter tried on a dress and struck a pose. Then her mother spoke up: “Please suck your belly in.” Sandoval panicked. In a flash, “I saw 40 years of my life go through my head,” she says. Her mother’s constant admonishments to hide her belly as a child left a deep groove on her psyche. “I have huge issues with my belly,” says Sandoval, a mother of three who lives in Palo Alto, Calif. “I always think I have one, no matter what weight I am.” (Chang, 5/9)

Breast Cancer Survivor And Lingerie Designer Shatters Taboos 

When Dana Donofree had a bilateral mastectomy and implant reconstruction after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2010, the then 28-year-old fashion designer discovered only medical and uncomfortable bras catering to women with the disease. Such frustrations led Donofree to launch her lingerie company called AnaOno in 2014, aimed primarily for women who had breast cancer and had undergone some type of surgery. The Philadelphia company now offers a variety of wireless bras for women who had breast reconstruction, a mastectomy or lumpectomy because Donofree says every surgery yields different results. The collection also includes post-surgery loungewear. (D’innocenzio, 5/9)

The Washington Post:
Waist Trainers: A Waste Of Money And Potentially Harmful

After Kim Kardashian shared the details of the extreme three-week 16-pound weight-loss regimen she undertook to squeeze into an iconic Marilyn Monroe gown for this month’s Met Gala, the result was hardly the admiration she likely expected. The reality TV star was excoriated on social media not only for publicizing her potentially harmful crash diet, but also for advocating unhealthy slimming strategies in the past — including endorsing and selling a popular shapewear product that persists against the best medical advice: the waist trainer. (Haupt, 5/10)

Also —

The Washington Post:
Inside The Opioid Sales Machine Of Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals 

The largest manufacturer of opioids in the United States once cultivated a reliable stable of hundreds of doctors it could count on to write a steady stream of prescriptions for pain pills. But one left the United States for Pakistan months before he was indicted on federal drug conspiracy and money laundering charges. Another was barred from practicing medicine after several of his patients died of drug overdoses. Another tried to leave the country in the face of charges that he was operating illegal pill dispensing operations, or pill mills, in two states. He was arrested and sent to prison for eight years. (Kornfield, Higham and Rich, 5/10)

The New York Times:
Teens In Distress Are Swamping Pediatricians 

One crisp Monday morning in January, Dr. Melissa Dennison sat in a small, windowless exam room with a 14-year-old girl and her mother. Omicron was ripping through Kentucky, and the girl was among three dozen young patients — two of them positive for the coronavirus — that the pediatrician would see that day. But this girl was part of a different epidemic, one that has gripped the community and nation since long before Covid: She and her mother had come to discuss the girl’s declining mental health. (Richtel, 5/10)

The New York Times:
Sizing Up The Decisions Of Older Adults 

During a recent Zoom conference call, four Adult Protective Services workers from California, using a tool called the Interview for Decisional Abilities, or IDA, were trying to figure out whether something fishy was going on with an 82-year-old woman they knew as Ms. K. Adult Protective Services agencies in every state receive reports of possible neglect, self-neglect, abuse or exploitation of older people and other vulnerable adults. But agency workers consistently face a bedeviling question: Does the adult in question have the capacity to make a decision about their medical care, living conditions or finances — even if it’s not the decision that the family, doctor or financial adviser thinks should be made? (Span, 5/9)

The Washington Post:
A War With Russia Led Florence Nightingale To Revolutionize Nursing

When Florence Nightingale arrived at the Scutari military hospital in Turkey in 1854, conditions there were almost as bad as on the battlefield. … The young English nurse saw soldiers festering in filth, many of them lying on the bare floor among the rats. Dirty bandages covered rotting wounds, and the neglected soldiers had to contend with lice, fleas and the stench of disease in the unventilated ward. There was about one bathtub per 150 soldiers, though that hardly helped: A dead horse had been left to rot in the water supply. (McHugh, 5/8)

Bracing For Her Future: Human Medicine Rescues Giraffe 

Over the past three decades Ara Mirzaian has fitted braces for everyone from Paralympians to children with scoliosis. But Msituni was a patient like none other — a newborn giraffe. The calf was born Feb. 1 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, north of San Diego, with her front limb bending the wrong way. Safari park staff feared she could die if they didn’t immediately correct the condition, which could prevent her from nursing and walking around the habitat. (Watson, 5/12)

Friday, May 13, 2022