National Partnership for Women & Families

Journal Review

Most Abortion Clients Support Over-the-Counter Access to Oral Contraceptives
While research suggests many U.S. women are interested in over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives, no studies have examined such interest among abortion patients, a group that is at high risk of unintended pregnancies. In this study, Kate Grindlay of Ibis Reproductive Health and colleagues surveyed abortion clients' interest in OTC access, finding that the vast majority supported it. Interest in OTC access and likelihood of using it was especially highest among uninsured women and those older than age 19. The researchers suggested that OTC access to birth control pills could help reduce unintended pregnancies among women seeking abortions.

Reproductive Justice Approach Also Applies to LARC, Commentary Argues
In a commentary, Jenny Higgins of the University of Wisconsin highlights the "promise and potential" of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), as well as its potential "drawbacks." She urges advocates and providers to "integrate a reproductive justice approach into our reproductive health toolkit" by not only improving the affordability and accessibility of LARC but by "respect[ing] women's decisions not to use LARC, their ability to have LARC removed when they wish and their ability to have the children they want to have."

Ob-Gyn Groups Issue Recommendations on Screening for Age-Related Fertility Decline
In a committee opinion, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine offer recommendations for education, screening and treatment related to age-related fertility decline. Specifically, women older than age 35 should be evaluated and treated if they have failed to conceive after six months, while "immediate evaluation and treatment are warranted" in women over age 40, the opinion says. It also urges practitioners to educate patients about age-related fertility decline.

Labor Interventions Associated With Lower Chance of Late Preterm Birth, Study Finds
To test speculation that obstetrical interventions, such as cesarean sections and induced labor, are driving the increase in late preterm (LP) births, researchers studied a cohort of nearly one million women who gave birth in Ontario hospitals. They found that interventions were associated with a lower likelihood of preterm birth relative to term birth when risk factors were the same, suggesting "that obstetrical care providers may be preferentially avoiding interventions to bring about LP birth in the setting of equivalent maternal and obstetrical risk." The study also identified "potentially modifiable risk factors," such as maternal smoking, that were independently associated with LP birth.

Addressing Neonatal Mortality Also Requires Focus on Adolescent Pregnancy, Editorial States
Citing a report from Save the Children that outlines eight interventions to end preventable neonatal deaths worldwide, an editorial in The Lancet argues that a ninth area "deserves more attention": adolescent pregnancy. The editorial argues that investing in girls -- including through education and prevention of child marriage -- will produce "not only an acceleration of progress towards ending maternal, neonatal, and child mortality, but also a better educated future generation of women who will contribute to the skilled workforce and so the economic development of their countries."

Study Examines STI Prevalence, Risk Among Sexually Minority Women
Researchers examined gonorrhea and chlamydia diagnoses at walk-in clinics to assess the prevalence of the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among women who reported having sex with women. They also assessed sexual risk behaviors, including substance use, finding that sexual minority women were much more likely than heterosexual women to report recent substance use. All of the women diagnosed with gonorrhea and chlamydia had recently had sex with men, including those who identified as lesbian, suggesting that all women who have sex with men should be screened for STIs regardless of sexual identity.

Pregnancy Should Not Override Women's End-of-Life Wishes, Commentary Argues
In a commentary, Harvard Medical School's Jeffery Ecker explores the "wrongful usurpation" of women's rights in the case of Marlise Muņoz, a Texas woman who was kept on a ventilator and related support to sustain her body's functions against her wishes because she was pregnant. Women's right to determine their end-of-life care should be "unaffected by whether or not they may be pregnant," he argues. He urges physicians to conscientiously object if faced with a situation in which they are asked to violate patients' end-of-life wishes.