Viewpoints: Drop In Abortion Rates May Have Something To Do With Better Contraception; GOP Health Law Alternative 'Designed To Fail'

The New York Times: What's Behind The Declining Abortion Rate?
A new study released on Monday finds that the abortion rate among American women declined to its lowest level in more than three decades in 2011. ... Notably, though, the decline in abortions from 2008 to 2011 was mirrored by a decline in pregnancy rates that the researchers say may reflect stricter adherence to birth control methods during recession, and the growing use, especially among younger women, of reliable long-term contraceptives, like the intrauterine device, or IUD. IUDs are 45 times more effective than oral contraceptives and 90 times more effective than male condoms in preventing pregnancy. But they are also more expensive, making them unaffordable for many women. This fact might help explain the significantly higher rates of abortion among the poor. The cost issue underscores the importance of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate (Dorothy J. Samuels, 2/3). 

Los Angeles Times: Defining The Rights Of The Religious In America
Two decades ago, Congress overwhelmingly approved and President Clinton enthusiastically signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But now that the 1993 law is being used to challenge the Obama administration's requirement that employer health plans include contraceptive services, some supporters of the law are having second thoughts, and several organizations want the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional. That would be a mistake (2/4).

Los Angeles Times: How The GOP's Obamacare Alternative Is Designed To Fail
Evidently fed up with accusations that their "repeal and replace" plan for Obamacare has consisted of a whole lot of "repeal" and not even a tiny bit of "replace," Senate Republicans last week unveiled an actual, detailed healthcare reform proposal. The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act ("CARE") bears the names of Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.), Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah). It preserves some of the things people like about the Affordable Care Act--insurance for those with pre-existing conditions, for example--but does so in a way that's guaranteed to fail most of those affected. Among other things, it eliminates minimum coverage standards written into the ACA, including items like maternity coverage, which will inevitably make insurance more expensive for women relative to men (Michael Hiltzik, 2/3). 

The New York Times: Firearms' Toll Among The Young
The world at large heard instantly about the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 20 youngsters were murdered in 2012 in a terrifying spree of gunfire. Far less noticed but no less horrific is the unending toll from the more routine bursts of gunfire that each day send an average of 20 American children and adolescents to hospitals, many of them for long-term treatment (2/3).

The Washington Post: Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death Shows That We're Losing This Drug War
Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is yet another victim of the war on drugs. Prohibition is not working. It is time to try something new. ... We do know that this need to get high is beyond some people’s control. Our drug policy of prohibition and interdiction makes it difficult and dangerous for people like Hoffman to get high, but not impossible — and it makes these tragic overdose deaths more common than they have to be (Eugene Robinson, 2/3).

The Wall Street Journal: How To Win The Super Bowl Against Cancer
This should concern us greatly on Tuesday's World Cancer Day and beyond. Ratings may have the best of intentions—to promote the development of effective treatments and to control the costs of cancer care—but there are much better ways to achieve both goals. In more and more countries, ratings of medicines have become part of the already lengthy process that stands between new treatments and the patients who might be helped. Some ratings take the form of medical-benefit or innovation scales that try to predict the contributions of new medicines to health outcomes, often by comparing new and existing treatments (John C. Lechleiter, 2/3). 

The New York Times: Don't Ask Your Doctor About 'Low T'
But "low T," as the condition has been labeled, isn't nearly as common as the drug ads for prescription testosterone would have you believe. Pharmaceutical companies have seized on the decline in testosterone levels as pathological and applicable to every man. They aim to convince men that common effects of aging like slowing down a bit and feeling less sexual actually constitute a new disease, and that they need a prescription to cure it. This is a seductive message for many men, who just want to feel better than they do, and want to give it a shot, literally. The problem is that prescription testosterone doesn't just give your T level a boost: it may also increase your risk of heart attack (John La Puma, 2/3).

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