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Kmart Offers Free Folic Acid

Kmart stores around the country are offering to fill folic acid prescriptions free through April. The move is part of partnership with the March of Dimes to educate women about healthy pregnancies. The offer is limited to the 0.4-mg, 0.8-mg, and 1-mg strengths.

Group Cites Maternal Care 'Crisis'

The human rights group Amnesty International has called on the United States to create an Office of Maternal Care to deal with troubling trends in maternal death in this country. In a report, “Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA,” the group says that the high rate of cesarean sections across the United States and variable quality of care contribute to increased pregnancy complications. For example, the report says that although the use of compression stockings has reduced blood clots after cesarean sections in countries such as the United Kingdom, they aren't used consistently here. “Too many unnecessary C-sections are being performed; that is clear,” Rachel Ward, Amnesty International USA research and policy director, said in a statement. “And the government's failure to meet its own goals after 12 years suggests a new approach is necessary.” The Amnesty International report is available online at

Bill Would Ban Future Gag Rule

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and a small group of Democratic lawmakers are seeking to enact federal legislation that would prevent a future president from reinstating the Mexico City Policy, also known as the global gag rule. President Obama repealed the policy through executive order last year. Under the previous administration, the rule prevented federally funded, nongovernmental organizations operating outside the United States from providing abortions or abortion counseling—even if those activities were supported separately from the government grants. The new bill (H.R. 4879), introduced last month, says that no organization would be ineligible for U.S. funding simply because it used outside funding to provide certain health and counseling services. Similar legislation (S. 311) was introduced in the Senate last year but has not been passed.

Pro-Choice Groups Target Stupak

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who was much in the news for brokering a compromise that allowed him and some other antiabortion Democrats to support the health care reform bill, is now being targeted by some supporters of abortion rights. Pro-Choice America PAC and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund recently announced plans to mount a primary challenge against Rep. Stupak in this year's election. “The voters in Michigan's 1st District are looking for an alternative to Bart Stupak,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “For years, he has attacked women's freedom and privacy and, for the last several months, seized the national spotlight as he held health care reform hostage to his antichoice political views. The clock is ticking on Mr. Stupak's '15 minutes of fame.'” The groups have endorsed abortion-rights supporter Connie Saltonstall, a mediator who serves as board president of Hospice of Northwest Michigan. Michigan's primary election will be held Aug. 3.

Parents Don't Want to Talk About Sex

Even though parents realize it's important to talk to their children about sex, they just don't do it, according to a new study. The analysis of focus groups discussions among 131 parents of children ages 10-12 found that the parents typically perceived significant threats to their children from sex but hadn't spoken to their children on the topic. They also said that their children were regularly exposed to sexual content in the media, but many of the parents in the focus groups said they felt that their children were just too young have a talk with about intercourse. Some participants also said they didn't want to plant ideas in their children's heads if they weren't already thinking about sex. Other parents said they simply felt uncomfortable having the conversation with their children. The qualitative findings were published in the March issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health (Perspect. Sex. Reprod. Health 2010;42:56-63). The study was funded by the Office of Population Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Many Use Internet for Health Info

More than half (51%) of adults aged 18-64 years use the Internet to look up health information over the course of a year, but only a handful communicate with their providers by e-mail or another Internet route, according to a survey by the National Center for Health Statistics. About 3% of adults reported using online chat groups to learn about health topics. The survey showed women more likely than men to use the Internet to research health issues and to join chat groups. Almost 5% of adults said that they had communicated with a health provider online in the past year, while 6% requested a prescription refill online and 3% made an office appointment online. The analysis included data from 7,192 adults surveyed from January to June 2009.

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