The Weekly Pulse: House Doubles Endometriosis Funding; Schools Struggle to Contain Virus

For The Weekly Pulse (a revisit of an old Ms. column!), we’ve scoured the most trusted journalistic sources—and, of course, our Twitter feeds—to bring you this week’s most important news stories related to health and wellness.

Whew! Yet another surreal week has flown by us all—which means we have a healthy dose of updates on the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an extensive run down of new revelations in reproductive health and policy; including a long-overdue increase in funding for endometriosis research. 

Ending Endometriosis Underfunding

+ In March, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer—Iowa Representative and second youngest woman to ever serve in the House—opened up about her personal struggles with endometriosis.

In that vein, Finkenauer introduced the bipartisan House Endometriosis Caucus, aimed at increasing awareness of the condition—caused by uterine lining that grows in other parts of the body—as well as boost funding for research.

And this week, Rep. Finkenauer ought to be celebrating (and celebrated!), following House approval to double the funding into endometriosis research. 

Finkenauer notes:

“Endometriosis is under-researched and suffers from a lack of proven and effective treatments. Doubling research funding will provide critical additional capacity for studying endometriosis, developing effective treatments and improving the quality of life for millions and millions of women. This is a game-changer.”

For reference, in 2018, the National Institutes of Health invested $755 million to breast cancer research and $1.6 billion in dementia research—compared to a mere $7 million for endometriosis research. 

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Repro Rundown

+ Anti-abortion lawmakers in Nebraska are proposing a bill to ban an extremely common second-trimester procedure: dilation and evacuation. The bill would outlaw the use of clamps, forceps, tongs or scissors to perform for procedure. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly 90 percent of U.S. abortions are performed in the first trimester. Of the abortions performed during or after the second trimester, 95 percent use dilation and extraction practices. 

Similar anti-abortion measures have passed in at least a dozen other states—but luckily most have been struck down in courts as “unconstitutional” and predatory.

According to state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, of Lincoln:  

“The decision to end a pregnancy belongs with a woman and her doctor, not us sitting here playing doctor in the Legislature.”

++ Update: The bill has been passed by the Nebraska State Legislature and soon to hit the desk of Governor Pete Ricketts, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

+ This Monday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) launched “Hear Her,” a campaign to “raise awareness and provide educational material to empower pregnant and postpartum womenand acknowledge that around 700 women die each year from pregnancy-related complications. 

The Weekly Pulse: House Doubles Endometriosis Funding; Schools Struggle to Contain Virus
(Council on Patient Safety in Women’s Healthcare)

CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD, said in a statement:

“Pregnancy and childbirth should not place a mother’s life in jeopardy, yet in far too many instances, women are dying from complications. This seminal campaign is intended to disrupt the too-familiar pattern of preventable maternal mortality and encourage everyone in a woman’s life to be attentive and supportive of her health during this important time.”

+ When Chelsea Becker’s pregnancy ended in a stillbirth last year; and in a moment where one should be given a moment to mourn, she was met with murder charges for using methamphetamines while pregnant. 

The Weekly Pulse: House Doubles Endometriosis Funding; Schools Struggle to Contain Virus
Becker is one of hundreds of women who have been arrested and prosecuted nationwide after experiencing miscarriages or stillbirths. (National Advocates for Pregnant Women)

California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, wrote an amicus brief, in support of Becker’s petition, “arguing that the Superior Court’s interpretation of state law would subject all women who suffer a pregnancy loss to the threat of criminal investigation and possible prosecution for murder” as well as an end to the present criminal proceedings against Becker.

Becerra added in a statement.

“Our laws in California do not convict women who suffer the loss of their pregnancy, and in our filing today we are making clear that this law has been misused to the detriment of women, children and families.”

California is among 38 states that have active fetal homicide laws that recognize “the fetus as a victim in cases of violence against a pregnant woman, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.” 

Don’t Worry, Trump Says—Children Represent Only “Tiny Fraction” of Coronavirus Deaths

+ The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association reports over 179,000 new cases of COVID-19 among children during the four week period from July 9 to August 6, representing a 90 percent increase. Additionally, children account for 9.1 percent of all coronavirus cases in the U.S. 

Despite these alarming figures, Trump continues to downplay the severity of the situation in order to justify his call for school re-openings. In a press briefing this week, Trump continued to support his false claim that children are “virtually immune” from the disease: 

“It may be a case, but it’s also a case where there’s a tiny — it’s a tiny fraction of death — a tiny fraction — and [children] get better very quickly… I think that, for the most part, they do very well. I mean, they — they don’t get very sick. They don’t catch it easily. They don’t get very sick. And, according to the people that I’ve spoken to, they don’t transport it or transfer it to other people — or certainly not very easily.”

+ Trump’s callousness when talking about children literally dying is yet another example of his failed leadership. While it is true that COVID-19 has so far resulted in death for 0-0.5 percent of infected children, they’re still not immune from the disease, and we don’t have a good understanding of the virus’s long-term consequences. Furthermore, children can spread the virus to others, such as family members who may be more vulnerable to serious medical complications—including death.

Disappointed, Not Surprised: School Re-openings Lead to Uptick in Coronavirus Cases

+ In last week’s Weekly Pulse, we reported on two Georgia students who were suspended after posting photos on Twitter of their high school’s crowded hallway during a passing period. Thankfully, the suspensions were rescinded after public disapproval. 

But that’s not the end of the story for the school in question. On August 8, North Paulding High School Principal Gabe Carmona announced at least six students and three staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. Brian Ottot, the school district’s superintendent, then announced the school would be closed the following Monday and Tuesday for cleaning—but the closure ended up lasting through the week. 

It is worth pointing out, however, that the coronavirus is “thought to spread mainly from person-to-person” and “touching a surface or object that has the virus on it… is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” according to the CDC. Notably, North Paulding High School does not require students or staff to wear masks.

+ Parents in the school district seem to have mixed feelings about whether or not to continue in-person learning—reflecting the nationwide public opinion divide over school re-openings. According to a Gallup Poll, 36 percent of parents support full time in-person learning, 36 percent support a hybrid model, and 28 percent support full time online learning. 

+ In California, parents are suing the governor after he announced most schools will not be able to open in-person until meeting certain criteria. According to reporting by CNN, school re-openings across five states have led to at least 230 confirmed cases and 2,000 students and staff being quarantined.

In Other News…

About and

Corinne Ahrens is a recent graduate of The American University where she studied Political Science with a specialization in Gender, Race, & Politics as well as Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. Corinne has been writing for Ms. since October 2019 and is a former Ms. editorial intern. She currently works at Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy in their Philadelphia office.
Giselle Hengst recently graduated from Vanderbilt University with degrees in Women's & Gender Studies and Medicine, Health, & Society. She is currently an editorial and social media intern at Ms. magazine.