Friday, June 26, 2009

Generic vs. Brandname

In college, I was introduced to the NuvaRing. I had tried birth control pills but, felt like they were making me moody plus, I wasn't always 100% consistent with taking them. The NuvaRing seemed to be exactly what I was looking for: low dosage hormones and no need to worry about taking something at the same time every single day. Another bonus was that my health clinic only charged $5 for birth control methods and often threw in free samples.

Once, out into the real world, I realized that I would have to pay a lot more. Even at Planned Parenthood, with their marvelous sliding income scales, it cost almost $40/month and my health care wouldn't cover it. Why? Because it was too new of a product and a generic version had not yet been created and supposedly can't be until 2018(!) Eventually, I decided to stop this method but, that had more to do with side effects (intense breast tenderness) though, than cost. All this being said, drug costs have much more to do with brand name than anything else (such as chemical composition).

Last Wednesday, the FDA approved a generic version of the emergency contraception pill, Plan B. I think this is wonderful news- now this already accessible option will be even more accessible:

"A one-time use pack of the brand-name product, Plan B, currently costs $49.99 through the online retailer According to Bloomberg, generic drugs usually cost 30% to 80% less than brand-name versions (Larkin, Bloomberg, 6/24)." From National Partnership for Women and Families.

Have you had ever had any experience with expensive brand name drugs?

How do we know?

In doing a few catch-up/clean-up Friday tasks, I came across this beautiful deck of cards. I can't believe that I had forgotten about them- they seem almost perfectly tailor made for me. Combo of crafty images and facts about reproductive health. This deck is comprised of twenty card with a question on one side and, the answer, on the other.

Just in case the bottom image is hard to read, the scrap of paper says:

"In the United States, about half of all pregnancies are unintended, and 42% of unintended pregnancies are terminate by abortion. Worldwide, almost two in five women who become pregnant have either an abortion or an unplanned birth."

From the Guttmacher Institute.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not Yet Rain

"Thunder is not yet rain".
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of "Not Yet Rain" by Lisa Russell. This documentary talks abortion access in Ethiopia. What I thought was particularly well done was the fact that the messaging and plot were very simple. The later half the film primarily follows two young women through their experience in the abortion system in Ethiopia. It reminded me a little bit of "A Walk to Beautiful".
The screening was followed by a short panel discussion by experts in international reproductive health representing IPAS, The International Women's Health Coalition and International Planned Parenthood.
A couple of facts that I was struck by: aborting was legalized in Ethiopia in 2006 (read more here) and abortion doesn't seem to face the radical opposition we experience in the US in large part due to the hospitalization of abortions (treated more medically than morally) and also the fact that many people actually don't know that it is legal.
You can watch the entire film on its website: or you can order a free DVD. This generous access makes it a very good tool for advocacy. Please pass the word along.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Inadvertent absence

Hello, blog! How I have missed you!
I've been to see Ina May speak twice. Both times she mentioned Abby's birth at the end of "The Business of Being Born". She said something to the effect of Abby's pregnancy and the creation of the film being badly timed- that one's body has a limited amount of energy to put towards "making".
I've been feeling a little bit like that lately-- too much energy and emotion going into one specific area of my life leaving leaving the rest "undernourished".
Apologies, I am trying to get my balance back. I have lots to tell you about!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I wrote this post on June 2nd and am just now getting around to editing it. My thoughts and feelings are still as strong as they were two weeks ago and the topic of the assassination of George Tiller will remain as important and pertinent for as long as pro-choice providers are being threatened and intimidated.

Early Saturday morning, I got my call: "We have a woman in labor, we need you to come". As usual, I hustled, got there, witnessed the beginning of a beautiful little family- it was a little boy. Such overwhelming joy. Such a pleasure and an honor to be present for the birth.

Late Sunday afternoon, I got the email that Dr. Tiller had been shot. Monday evening, I attended the vigil in Union Square. I was moved by the support and strength that the New York community brought to this tragic situation. It was a honor to stand among my peers to pay our respects to this hero.

Last year, when my mother told me that my grandmother had died, I attended back to back births of two baby girls. I have, now, a couple of times witnessed this line between birth and death, their close proximity and synchronicity- it is deep and profound.

Personally, I think I'm still processing what this murder means to me....Yesterday, one of the speakers recounted that after George Tiller had been shot in both arms in he returned to his clinic the next day. I hope that some day I can live up to his model of medical practice- that I will always be there when my patients need me. I am blessed to stand by women and to honor their choices about their bodies, lives and reproduction: to be woken in the middle of the night with birth calls and to, simultaneously, fully participate in the pro-choice and reproductive rights movement.

There has been an outpouring of sadness, support, and admiration in the blogs, in real life and in the media. Some of these words are so eloquent and insightful- I hope you had the opportunity to read some of them.
Here is what I have been thinking about today:
This prayer from last nights vigil.
The Dr. Georoge Tiller Fund
This letter from Planned Parenthood.

Monday, June 1, 2009

George Tiller, R.I.P.

Take a few moments out of your day to honor and pay homage to a great man who died yesterday. He made the world better and braver.

NYC vigil will be at 6pm, location: Union Square (bring your own candle).