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(REUTERS/Amit Dave)


The Week in Women: A vote against Planned Parenthood, maternity leave in India, and a new contraceptive for men

March 31, 2017

It was a rather eventful week in health news (Babies! Extended maternity leave! Scrotum injections?). Let’s take a look back.

Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking Senate vote on legislation that will allow states to defund Planned Parenthood and other health care providers. The legislation seeks to roll back on an Obama administration rule that requires state governments to grant federal Title X funding for services related to women’s reproductive health—like contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy care, and cancer screenings—regardless of whether or not a facility also performs abortions. Supporters of the new bill say it protects states from intrusive Obama-era policies. Detractors worry that the legislation will threaten women’s ability to access an array of vital healthcare services.

Major pharmaceutical companies are having none of a pioneering birth control for men. The injectable contraceptive method known as “reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance” is reportedly being submitted this year for regulatory approval. The injection has been shown to be effective, but drugmakers have backed away from the product, citing development costs and low profit margins. Some experts, however, believe that their motives are more … personal. “The fact that the big companies are run by white, middle-aged males who have the same feeling — that they would never do it — plays a major role,” said gynecology professor Herjan Coelingh Bennink. The method does involve a shot to the scrotum, so we can’t say we blame them. But hey, getting an IUD is no picnic either.

A new law took effect in India on Wednesday, extending paid maternity leave to six months, which is more than double the time previously afforded to working mothers. The move is part of a broader government initiative to encourage women to enter the workforce in a country where fewer than 30 percent of all women are employed. But not everyone is happy about it. The new law does not provide any support to companies, leaving them to shoulder the burden of paying new mothers and training temps. Large companies in India can probably handle the new standards, but smaller ones will likely struggle, which may in turn make them less likely to hire female candidates. Let’s just say this sums up our current mood.

Breastfeeding does not improve babies’ long-term cognitive behavior, according to a new study. Researchers followed 7,478 Irish children beginning at the age of nine months, and then evaluated them at three years and five years of age. At age three, children who were breastfed for at least six months exhibited fewer cases of hyperactivity and better problem-solving than their bottle-fed peers. But by age five, those differences had all but disappeared, suggesting that other factors were likely at play. So in short, breastfeeding does not make little ones smarter, contrary to popular belief. QUICK, ORDER ALL THE BABY EINSTEINS.