ACOG in the News: Abortion Bans, Episiotomies, Midwives, the HPV Test, Fertility Awareness, and the Annual Pelvic Exam

ACOG serves as an expert information source about women’s health for women and the media. The organization’s Office of Communications fields more than 1,200 media inquiries each year from newspapers, magazines, websites, radio, and TV broadcast outlets. In many cases, ACOG officers and members talk with the media, working with the Office of Communications. Here are several recent pieces in the media that prominently featured ACOG guidance and experts. We’ve included excerpts and links to the original articles.

Yahoo! Health: House Passes “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion” Act on 42nd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
In a statement earlier today from Hal Lawrence, MD, vice president and CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), said that while ACOG was glad to see that the vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act had been dropped, the organization remains “disappointed that House leadership continues to target abortion by pivoting to payment policies. All women should have access to the medical services they need—including reproductive care—regardless of the ability to pay. Medical care must be guided by sound science and by the patient’s individual needs, not by legislative mandates or financial concerns.”

Huffington Post: Episiotomies Are Becoming Less and Less Common, New Numbers Show
Though researchers are not sure what led to the decrease, they hypothesized that their findings “possibly” reflect recommendations of groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which in 2006 urged restricted use of the procedure. “The best available data do not support the liberal or routine use of episiotomy,” the group wrote at the time, noting that in 2002, episiotomies were performed in roughly one-quarter of all vaginal births. There is a place for episiotomy, ACOG added, but it should be limited to difficult deliveries or to avoid severe lacerations in the laboring woman, for example.

NPR/The Diane Rehm Show: New Research on the Safety of Using Midwives for Low-Risk Deliveries
According to a new study by Britain’s National Health Service, it’s safer for women with low-risk pregnancies to deliver under the supervision of a midwife than in a hospital maternity ward. According to the study, both mothers who were expected to have uncomplicated deliveries and their babies did better with midwives compared to doctors except in one circumstance: first-time mothers delivering at home. Of the 3.9 million babies born in the United States last year, only about 9% were delivered by midwives, and most of these in a hospital. But this may be changing. Join us to talk about best practices in maternity care.

Guest on the show: Mark DeFrancesco, MD, president-elect, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in private practice in Waterbury, Connecticut, and a founding member of Women’s Health Connecticut.

Shape: Should You Trade Your Pap Smear for the HPV Test?
The reason ACOG steers clear of using the HPV test on younger women? About 80% of them get HPV at some point in lives (usually in their 20s), but their body clears the virus on its own with no treatment the majority of the time, explains Barbara S. Levy, MD, ACOG’s vice president for health policy. There’s concern that routinely testing women under age 30 for HPV will lead to unnecessary and potentially harmful follow-up screenings.

CNN: For Birth Control, What’s Old Is New Again
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are quick to point out that the fertility awareness method (FAM) is one of the least-effective methods of birth control. “You hear about 25%, one in four, who use it correctly can expect to get to get pregnant.” says Dr. Nathaniel DeNicola, an ob-gyn with the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Wall Street Journal: New Genetic Tests for Women Who Are Expecting
Nancy Rose, MD, director of reproductive genetics at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, questions whether screening everyone might yield more worry than benefits. The tests frequently find genetic variations in parents, but these aren’t likely to affect their offspring, says Dr. Rose, who chairs the Committee on Genetics for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional association.

Yahoo! News: Four Things You Should Know About the Link Between Birth Control and Financial Security
A new recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports even greater access to contraception, saying that its benefits “include improved health and well-being, reduced global maternal mortality, health benefits of pregnancy spacing for maternal and child health, female engagement in the workforce, and economic self-sufficiency for women.” Right now, about half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned—a rate higher than almost any other developed country, the ACOG notes. And the rate is even higher for low-income women.

Self: How Necessary Is That Annual Gyno Appointment Really?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ardently opposes the proposed change. “Discovering a problem early in a seemingly healthy woman always leads to better outcomes,” says Barbara Levy, MD, vice president for health policy at ACOG. During a routine pelvic exam, your doctor is on the lookout for several things: She feels the uterus and ovaries for abnormalities, visually screens for infections, and can perform a Pap smear to test for cervical cancer. “Certain STDs do not have symptoms and can only be identified through this exam,” Dr. Levy says. Gynecologists can also initiate conversations about problems that a patient may be too embarrassed to raise, like pain during sex or incontinence, which is common after childbirth. The doctor can then discuss medical options.


American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
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