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Opinion: IVAWA Marks 'First Step' Towards Making Women Central Focus Of U.S. Foreign Policy

In a Politico opinion piece, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), lead sponsors of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), together with Larry Cox and Kerry Kennedy of Amnesty International USA, reflect on the significance of the legislation introduced in the House and Senate on Thursday. "Introduction of this bill supports the efforts of President Obama and Secretary Clinton to rightly put women at the very center of a broad global security agenda that factors in the great challenges of our decade and invests in the world's peacemakers, " the authors write before describing how the legislation would work to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.

New Program Sends Text Messages To Promote Maternal, Infant Health

The White House on Thursday announced a new health education program that will deliver pregnancy advice to women via text messages, the Los Angeles Times ' " Technology " reports (Guynn, "Technology, " Los Angeles Times, 2/4). The program -- called " text4baby " -- is sponsored by the federal government, the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, wireless providers and several health industry companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, WellPoint and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. The campaign is reportedly the first national no-cost health education program using cell phones, which are owned by 90% of U.S. residents, sponsors say. Paul Meyer, president of Voxiva -- which operates health texting programs in Africa, India and Latin America -- said that cell phones are particularly effective for reaching low-income people (Perrone, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/3).

Siemens Showcases New Dedicated Women's Imaging Ultrasound Platforms At SMFM

Featuring the new release of its premium ACUSON S2000™ ultrasound system - Women's Imaging and ACUSON X300™ ultrasound system, premium edition (PE) - Women's Imaging, Siemens Healthcare (booth #813) will highlight the latest innovations in OB/GYN imaging at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) 30th Annual Meeting in Chicago. Siemens will be showcasing advanced clinical applications that bring a new dimension of diagnosis and workflow enhancements to fetal ultrasound. The ACUSON S2000 ultrasound system - Women's Imaging represents the pinnacle of innovative technologies and workflow-enhancing clinical applications, which dramatically improve the efficiency and quality of ultrasound exams.

Focus On The Family Buys Super Bowl Pregame Ads

Focus on the Family plans to air a second television advertisement four times during the Super Bowl pregame show that will also feature former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam Tebow, USA Today reports (Horovitz, USA Today, 2/5). The organization is sponsoring a yet-to-be-seen in-game commercial featuring the Tebows discussing Pam's personal story of contracting amoebic dysentery while pregnant with Tim and ignoring doctors' recommendations to have an abortion ( Women's Health Policy Repo rt, 2/1). According to Focus on the Family CEO Jim Daly, the original advertisement was rejected after CBS executives said that Pam Tebow's line, "Both of our lives were at risk, " was "too much" ( USA Today, 2/5).

Overseas U.S. Military Facilities To Begin Stocking Emergency Contraception

Defense Department officials on Thursday announced that emergency contraception will be available at all military hospitals and health clinics around the world, the Washington Post reports. The decision was made on Feb. 3 after the Pentagon accepted a recommendation from its Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, which voted in November 2009 to include the brand-name EC pill Plan B and the generic Next Choice on the list of drugs that all military facilities should stock, according to a DOD spokesperson. The same panel made a similar recommendation in 2002, but the policy was never put in place, the Post reports. According to the Post, the decision marks the Obama administration's latest reversal of a Bush administration women's health policy.

HPV Vaccines May Reduce A Wide Range Of Genital Diseases

High-coverage human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations among adolescents and young women may result in a rapid reduction of genital warts, cervical cell abnormalities, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, researchers report in a new study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Some of these genital abnormalities are precursors of cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. This study was undertaken to determine if the administration of the HPV vaccine reduced the risk of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precursor of cervical cancer; external anogenital and vaginal lesions (or external genital lesions) of any grade severity;

1.2B Needed To Aid Women, Children In 28 Countries 'In Crisis,' UNICEF Says

UNICEF on Thursday launched a $1.2 billion appeal aimed at providing "life saving emergency assistance to millions of children and women in dire need, " VOA News reports (Schlein, 2/4). "The appeal is part of UNICEF's Humanitarian Action Report 2010, released in Geneva ... which spotlights the desperate situation of children and women in 28 countries and territories facing deep humanitarian crises, " the U.N. News Centre writes (2/4). "Every year, UNICEF responds to some 200 emergencies around the world, " writes VOA News. The 28 countries highlighted are the places with the most acute crises. "The greatest needs are in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 24 million people in the Horn of Africa are being affected by drought, chronic food insecurity and armed conflict, " according to the news service.

Bipartisan Legislation In House, Senate Targets Violence Against Women Worldwide

Members of the U.S. House and Senate on Thursday introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), a bill that "would make violence against women worldwide a priority of the United States government and an enhanced component of its foreign policy and foreign assistance programmes, " Inter Press Service reports (Fromm, 2/4). "The measure, which enjoys the backing of lawmakers from both major U.S. parties, " would allocate $175 million a year over five years "to go towards developing programs to combat violence against women in as many as 20 low-income countries where it is a serious problem, " Agence France-Presse reports. The bill would "create a specialized office in the U.

Blogs Comments On Haitian Earthquake, Super Bowl Ad, Other Topics

The following summarizes selected women's health-related blog entries. ~ " We Can't Overlook Reproductive Health Needs in Haiti, " Sharon Camp, RH Reality Check: Camp, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute, writes that the Haitian earthquake has created "displacement" within the culture, where "the health and lives of Haiti's women and girls -- many of whom were already in a precarious situation because of poverty or low social status -- are threatened by severe living conditions, including the virtual absence of reproductive health services." According to Camp, "Most immediately, there is an urgent need for clean delivery kits to ensure that childbirth is safe for mothers and their newborns.

Senate Democrats Considering Recess Appointments For Obama Nominees

Faced with the loss of a 60-seat supermajority in the Senate, congressional Democrats on Thursday began to discuss using recess appointments to advance some of President Obama's stalled nominees, such as Dawn Johnsen, who has twice been nominated to head the Office of Legal Councel at the Department of Justice, CQ Today reports. The Senate is scheduled to begin its Presidents Day recess at the end of next week. According to CQ Today, the election of Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) will make it difficult for Democrats in the Senate to gather the 60 votes needed to limit floor debate. In addition, the GOP "displayed newfound resolve" on nominees Thursday when Sens.

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