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  • The Health of All Women

    By Aliye Runyan
    AMSA Education and Research Fellow

    Do you know Roe v. Wade is currently under attack and the health of all women is at stake?

    Cleverly disguised as "state-based regulation", seven states have passed or will soon pass devastating legislation affecting access to family planning, especially in rural and underserved areas. This impacts not only the women and families in those states, but taken collectively, is a serious and deliberate blow to national family planning services.

    AMSA believes matters of reproductive health to be private and sensitive, and support the right of patients to make these decisions in confidence with their physician without the interference of any third party. In that spirit, we disagree with and discourage wholeheartedly the recent legislation affecting Ohio, Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi. These laws, sometimes "stuck in" along with other, completely unrelated legislation, do nothing more than prevent access to safe options for abortion. In cases of such legislation where clinics like Planned Parenthood are defunded, this not only prevents safe abortion options ( in those clinics which provide it) but also restrict and discourage access to family planning resources such as contraception and scientifically based sexual education, which in turn, reduce the need for abortion.

    The way most of these bills decrease access is through TRAP laws. TRAP stands for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. Six states have made it illegal for abortion clinics to operate unless the physician has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In rural areas of Virginia and Wisconsin, two states that have recently passed TRAP laws, there is not a hospital close by.

    Dozens of rural clinics face closure because of TRAP laws. Those who support TRAP laws say they help ensure the safety of women by requiring their doctors to have admitting privileges. The vast majority of abortions are outpatient procedures that are less invasive than some dental work, colonoscopies, vasectomies, and plastic surgeries, yet only abortion providers are targeted for these unnecessarily restrictive measures.

    In an article in today's Chicago Tribune, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology Dr. John Sciarra writes, "in those days [before Roe v Wade], 20 American women died for every 100,000 live births, many from unsafe abortions. We knew that legalizing abortion could save many of those lives, and we were right: today's maternal mortality rate is half of what is was then, because legal abortion is safe and back alley attempts are much rarer. We were optimistic that society would hail legalized abortion as a win for everyone. [...] Rather than increasing contraceptive availability as we recommended in 1972, ideologues attack family planning and are making all reproductive health care less available to the poor."

    Sciarra concludes with "no law that has ever been passed and no law that ever will be passed can prevent a determined woman from trying to end an unwanted pregnancy. Society and hospitals must accept their role in keeping women safe in that process."

    As a physician in training who believes in her patient's abilities to make their own choices and in the privacy and privileges of the doctor patient relationship, I absolutely agree with Sciarra's words.

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  • Calling Dr. iPhone

    Technology is in boom, especially in today’s medical world which is constantly growing and evolving to match the most up to date research and discoveries. Check out this Associated Press article, which appeared in USA Today, introducing the hottest new product on the market; your annual physical through your smart phone.

    Discussed at the 2013 TEDMED conference in Washington, D.C, this up and coming technology is designed to help patients independently monitor their health outside the doctor’s office. Whether it be checking your blood pressure, listening to your heart beat, or checking out the ears, nose and throat for possible infection - all can be done from your hand held device, and on the GO! In addition, sonograms can also be performed by your ultrasound technician with your smart phone, allowing them to be performed from virtually anywhere, and at a much more affordable price.

    It seems as though doctors believe these tools will be helpful to collect the patient’s data, and monitor their ongoing health conditions and concerns. With these types of applications and devices available office visits can essentially be reduced, allowing urgent and serious treatments to be readily available for patients in emergency situations. Although some products are still waiting for FDA approval, tools are available for purchase now.

    Read more from http://www.smartphonephysical.org, or watch a brief educational video from the Associated Press.

    Would love to hear what our nation’s next generation of physicians thinks of this trend. Do you think “iPhone physicals” are the next big thing?

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  • Today's Supreme Court Ruling

    Elizabeth Wiley, MD, JD, MPH
    AMSA National President


    What an historic day this is. For years to come we will remember this day as the first step toward achieving quality, affordable health care for all. As you know, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (also known as the “Affordable Care Act” or “ACA”). Today’s landmark decision will shape the environment in which we will practice medicine and determine how our patients receive care.

     

    The Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and this ruling will bring health care access to millions of Americans. At the same time, the Court ruled that states may opt out of the expansion of Medicaid. This decision is deeply concerning. If fully implemented, Medicaid expansion would provide coverage to 16 million more Americans by expanding eligibility to individuals up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whether they are unemployed or among the so-called working poor. Clearly, as future physicians, we must continue to champion this issue and encourage states to opt in to Medicaid expansion.

    In the wake of this historic decision, I would like to encourage you to MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD on health care reform by submitting a letter to the editor of your local or campus paper. To make this easy, we have drafted some sample language that you may use, but please tailor this letter to express your perspective on health care reform.

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  • Keep the library open after graduation

    At graduations across the country, students are walking across the stage, receiving their diplomas and beginning the next chapter of their lives. These graduates are equipped with a wealth of new tools. However, nearly all are forced to leave behind one of the most important: their library card.

    Students’ library cards are a passport to the specialized knowledge found in academic journal articles — covering medicine and math, computer science and chemistry, and many other fields. These articles contain the cutting edge of our understanding and capture the genius of what has come before. In no uncertain terms, access to journals provides critical knowledge and an up-to-date education for tomorrow’s doctors, researchers and entrepreneurs.

    But should that access cease at graduation? .....

    Read the rest of the opinion-editorial that appeared in the Washington Post (6/7/12) authored by AMSA National President Elizabeth Wiley, MD, JD, MPH and Matt Cooper, president and CEO of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students.

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  • SCOTUS: Day 2

    Check out C-SPAN's coverage of the Supreme Court Hearings.

    http://www.c-span.org/flvPop.aspx?src=cspan1&msg=You+are+watching+the+C-SPAN+Networks&start=1.835&end=-1 

    Today, the Court will hear testimony regarding the individual mandate portion of the law, which requires virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a fine. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2014. The Court will consider whether the individual mandate is in fact constitutional.

    What do you think? Does Congress have the power to enact a law requiring everyone in the United States to buy health insurance?

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