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Courts Strike Abortion Restrictions

Judges in two Plains states have blocked abortion restrictions from taking effect in their jurisdictions. Oklahoma District Court Judge Vicki Robertson ruled that a state law requiring an ultrasound before an abortion could be performed was too broad. The state is expected to appeal the case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. In South Dakota, a U.S. District Court struck down parts of a state law outlining informed consent requirements for abortion. The court ruled as unconstitutional provisions requiring physicians to tell women that suicide and suicide ideation are known medical risks associated with abortion. The court also struck down the provision that required physicians to say that having an abortion would terminate an “existing relationship” between the woman and the fetus. However, the court let stand a requirement that physicians tell women that by choosing an abortion they will “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

Home Visits Could Get Boost

Initiatives to teach parenting skills to at-risk mothers in their homes could be gaining political traction, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The programs bring in nurses or social workers to guide mothers and prevent child abuse. While such programs have received federal and state funds, there has been no ongoing, dedicated source of support. This could change, according to the institute's analysis, because the programs have the potential to be favored by both abortion rights advocates and abortion foes. “Interventions with a strong family planning component help vulnerable women delay subsequent pregnancies and increase birth spacing, and also help improve women's parenting skills,” said Heather D. Boonstra, a senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, in a statement. “That's why expanding home visiting programs is an effort that partisans on both sides of the abortion debate should be able to get behind.” President Obama has proposed more than $8 billion in support over the next decade, but the programs are costly and may suffer under tight government budgets, according to the analysis.

Survey Shows Career Satisfaction

More than 80% of ob.gyns. report being somewhat or very satisfied with their medical careers, according to a survey from the Center for Studying Health System Change. That figure held among other medical specialties, with about 82% of physicians overall reporting job satisfaction. The nationally representative survey included responses from more than 4,700 U.S. physicians providing direct patient care in 2008. About 15% of ob.gyns. said they were somewhat or very dissatisfied, with the remainder saying they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

Flying Deemed Safe in Pregnancy

Air travel is just as safe for healthy pregnant women as for the general public, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “Questions from our patients about air travel during pregnancy are some of the most common during obstetric visits,” Dr. William H. Barth Jr., chair of ACOG's Committee on Obstetric Practice, said in a statement. “When a patient with an uncomplicated pregnancy asks about occasional flying, we should feel comfortable saying, 'It's safe.' ” Dr. Barth's committee noted that pregnant women can minimize their risk for lower-extremity edema and venous thrombotic events by using support stockings, periodically moving around, avoiding restrictive clothing, and staying hydrated. But while seated, pregnant women should use a seatbelt “low on the hipbones, between the protuberant abdomen and pelvis.” And “gas-producing foods or drinks should be avoided before scheduled flights because entrapped gases expand at altitude.” ACOG said it also aims to dispel concerns about radiation during flights. Occasional travelers are unlikely to exceed more than 15% of the radiation limit for a 40-week pregnancy even during the longest intercontinental flight, ACOG said. However, airline crewmembers and frequent flyers could exceed the limit during pregnancy. But flying isn't recommended for women who may need emergency care or who have medical or obstetric conditions that would be aggravated by flying, said ACOG. Its opinion was to be published in this month's issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

HHS Awards Adoption Incentives

The Department of Health and Human Services announced the distribution of $35 million to 38 states and Puerto Rico to increase adoptions among children in foster care. Congress created the Adoptions Incentive program in 1997 as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, particularly to move older children and those with special needs into permanent homes. As part of the program, states can earn $4,000 for each additional adopted foster child above a baseline rate established in 2007. They receive additional payments for the adoption of foster children older than age 8 and those with special needs. States use the incentive payments to improve their programs for abused and neglected children

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