KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Looks: Helping Other Parents Reach Out To Mentally Ill Children

Every week Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The New Republic: The Rise of DIY Abortions
(Jennie Linn) McCormack knew that an abortion would cost $400 to $2,000, depending on how far along she was. ... She couldn’t come up with that kind of money. So she called her older sister, who owned a computer, and asked her to order abortion pills for her on the Internet. ... By the time the medication arrived in an unmarked envelope on December 23, she was in her second trimester ... That night, she started having cramps. The next morning, Christmas Eve, she delivered a dead fetus alone in her bathroom, along with the placenta and a great deal of blood. ... Several months later, in May 2011, McCormack was charged by the Bannock County Prosecutors’ office under 1973’s Idaho Code 18-606, which makes it a felony for a woman to have an abortion in a manner not sanctioned by the state and carries a possible prison sentence of up to five years. McCormack isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States (Ada Calhoun, 12/21).

The New York Times: Hispanic Pregnancies Fall In U.S. As Women Choose Smaller Families
In 2010, birthrates among all Hispanics reached their lowest level in 20 years, the [Pew Research Center] found. The sudden drop-off, which coincided with the onset of the recession, suggests that attitudes have changed since the days when older generations of Latinos prized large families and more closely followed Roman Catholic teachings, which forbid artificial contraception. Interviews with young Latinas, as well as reproductive health experts, show that the reasons for deciding to have fewer children are many, involving greater access to information about contraceptives and women’s health, as well as higher education (Susan Saulny, 12/31).

Los Angeles Times: A Lifeline For Parents Concerned About A Child's Mental Health
Lynn Goodloe saw her son's grades begin to fall as he developed a knack for getting into mischief at a private Westside high school. Was it a phase, drugs or something more troubling? Harold Turner didn't know what to make of his daughter's disorganized thinking and erratic behavior at Loyola Marymount University. ... The eventual diagnosis for Goodloe's son and Turner's daughter was severe mental illness, and both are now in treatment. And for the past several years, Goodloe and Turner have devoted themselves to helping others identify mental health problems and begin the daunting task of figuring out how to get help. ... "It was (the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an education and advocacy group) that saved us. It wasn't a psychiatrist or a psychologist," said Goodloe, a medical doctor who was flummoxed by the byzantine and fragmented mental health system (Steve Lopez, 12/30).

NBC (Video): Rising Above The Violence, To Pursue A Career In Health Care
Pediatrician Tomás Magaña has treated it all -- gunshot wounds, drug overdoses and domestic abuse injuries. "I've seen too many kids die. I've lost 10 kids in my practice, five in the past year alone," he said. The doctor’s voice cracks when he talks about his patients. ... Magaña and a colleague started a program designed to inspire at-risk teens to stay in school.  And it's working. Their program, FACES for the Future, helps teens explore careers in health care. The students get academic credit for volunteering in local hospitals where they shadow medical professionals doing their jobs. The kids rotate through specialties like surgery, anesthesia, pediatrics and neo-natal care (Mary Murray, 1/2).

The American Spectator: MSM Gives Us the Mushroom Treatment on HHS Mandate
In December, there were five federal court decisions relating to Obamacare. Chances are, however, that you will have heard about only one of them. If you do a web search for recent news stories on Hobby Lobby, whose long-shot request for a Supreme Court injunction against the HHS contraception mandate was denied last week, you will get thousands of hits. ... Now, using precisely the same parameters, do a search for recent stories on Wheaton College. You will get fewer than a dozen results relating to the December 18 decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule a lower court dismissal of Wheaton’s lawsuit against the government pursuant to the HHS mandate. You will find a similar paucity of stories about December rulings against the government in suits brought by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, and American Pulverizer, Inc. (David Catron, 12/31). 

American Medical News: Adopted Children Greeted By Doctors Who Specialize In Their Needs
When Eleanor Rybicki first came to the office of Elaine Schulte, MD, MPH, in August, she was a frail and tiny baby — so small she didn’t register on U.S. growth charts for her age group. Joseph and Kimberly Rybicki, who adopted Eleanor from a Chinese orphanage, were nervous, but Dr. Schulte quickly put their fears to rest. ... As an adoption medicine specialist and medical director of the International Adoption Program at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, Dr. Schulte routinely sees children who come from challenging circumstances. She is one of about 65 physicians in 31 states who focus much of their practices on treating adopted children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Foster Care, Adoption and Kinship Care Carolyne Krupa, 12/17).

The Associated Press: Big Pharma Cashes In On HGH Abuse
A federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies, an Associated Press investigation shows. The crackdown, which began in 2006, reduced the illegal flow of unregulated supplies from China, India and Mexico. But since then, Big Pharma has been satisfying the steady desires of U.S. users and abusers, including many who take the drug in the false hope of delaying the effects of aging. From 2005 to 2011, inflation-adjusted sales of HGH were up 69 percent, according to an AP analysis of pharmaceutical company data collected by the research firm IMS Health. Sales of the average prescription drug rose just 12 percent in that same period (David B. Caruso and Jeff Donn, 12/31).

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