Women in the News: Weekly Highlights: December 8, 2009

by Julie Norwell

Senate approves preventative health care for women; Atlanta will host Women’s Soccer’s first stadium; “Mature” women posing nude for the environment…Here are highlights of recent women-related news our readers should note:

After three long days the Senate approved an amendment to its health care legislation that would require insurance companies to offer mammograms and other preventive services to women. The amendment passed with a filibuster-proof vote of 61 to 39 with the support of three Republicans, of which one was co-sponsor Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The amendment was introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and beat out a rival amendment introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). It makes women’s preventive health services part of every health plans basic benefits package at little or no cost to the patient. Discussion on routine mammograms bogged down debate on the issue and was fueled by recently released and controversial recommendations by the United States Preventive Services Task Force that women should not routinely begin mammogram testing until age 50 – ten years later than current practices dictate. Mikulski’s amendment would require insurers to cover the cost of mammograms if a doctor decided it was medically necessary. For more information go to http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/03/senate-passes-womens-health-amendment/.


Atlanta will soon be the home of the first-ever stadium built expressly for women’s soccer. Fitz Johnson, owner of Women's Professional Soccer's expansion Atlanta Beat, and Kennesaw State University president Dr. Daniel S. Papp announced a partnership to construct the $16.5 million, 8,300-seat stadium, which will be on the university’s campus in Kennesaw, GA. Slated for completion in 2010, the soccer stadium will be home to both the Atlanta Beat, which will join Women’s Professional Soccer next year, and the KSU Owls women’s soccer programs. For more information go to http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/soccer/12/02/wps.atlanta/.


Canadians marked the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, in which 14 women were murdered by a man claiming to be fighting feminism. On December 6, 1989 25-year old Marc Lépine marched into a class room of the École Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montreal, separated the men and the women and proceeded to gun down the women. He then made his way through other parts of the university, targeting women along the way before turning the gun on himself. In addition to the dead, Lépine injured 10 more women and four men that terrible day. Vigils and commemorative ceremonies were held all over Canada to mark the day. Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien proclaimed Sunday as Ecole Polytechnique Day of Remembrance in honor of the women who were murdered. For more information go to http://www.wellandtribune.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2210339.


Heart attacks among middle-aged women have become more common over the past two decades, but their chances of surviving have increased more than men’s, especially if they are younger than 55, according to two studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Both studies found men aged 35 to 54 experienced more heart attacks than did women in the same age group. But authors of one study found the gap between women and men narrowed over the past two decades, as heart attacks decreased in prevalence among men and increased in women. In the second study, researchers analyzed gender-specific data to determine in-hospital mortality rates after acute myocardial infarction. They found rates decreased among all patients from 1994 to 2006, falling more markedly in women than men. The steepest drop, 52.9%, occurred among women younger than 55. The mortality rate for men in the same age group decreased by 33.3%. For more information go to http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/11/16/prsb1116.htm.


Move over college girls; “mature' women going nude captured headlines in Florida last week. Fifteen environmental activists between 44 and 78 shed their clothes to raise funds for a 2010 calendar called Women Sustaining the Earth. One of the models includes a 74-year-old former mayor and county commissioner who decided to throw caution to the wind “for a good cause.' The project was organized by Erika Biddle, who says she was inspired both by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s challenge to the green movement to get sexier, as well as British film “Calendar Girls' about the true story of British women who sold a calendar with their nude photos to raise money for leukemia research. Biddle’s wanted to use 40+ year-old women to honor the 40th anniversary of Earth Day next April. All of the 500 calendars printed have been sold, raising $8,000 for the “community garden' fund of nonprofit organization Green Living & Energy Education. But organizers say they will print more if people will buy them. For more information go to http://www.miamiherald.com/505/story/1366715.html.