Birth Control

The Takeaway

Insurance Companies Ignore ACA Mandates on Women's Healthcare

Monday, May 04, 2015

President Obama's Affordable Care Act guaranteed coverage for a number of women's health services. A new study finds that many insurance plans aren't complying with the law.


Death, Sex & Money

Alpha Dad Gets Snipped

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Vasectomies couldn’t have asked for a better spokesman than Clint Greagen: weightlifter, football fan, and stay-at-home father of four who happened to get cut by a man named Dr. Snip.

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The Takeaway

The Ruling on Peyote that Helped Hobby Lobby Win

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The basis of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling comes from the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law was adopted after a 1990 Supreme Court decision denied unemployment benefits to two Native American men who used peyote in a religious ritual.

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Preview: Alpha Dad Gets Snipped

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


In a lot of ways, vasectomies couldn’t have asked for a better spokesman than Australian Clint Greagan: weightlifter, rugby fanatic, and stay-at-home father of four who happened to get his vas deferens cut by a man named Dr. Snip. Here's a preview of next week's episode.


The Takeaway

'Obvious Child,' An Abortion Comedy

Friday, June 20, 2014

The abortion plotline exists only on the edge of Hollywood. But "Obvious Child," a new film starring actress Jenny Slate and directed by Gillian Robespierre, tackles the taboo subject of abortion in a way they say is both individual and inclusive.

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The Takeaway

Inside Hobby Lobby's 'Hypocrisy'

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

An analysis of documents finds that Hobby Lobby's employee 401k retirement plan holds more than $73 million in mutual funds with companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs used in abortions. 

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The Takeaway

Supreme Court Halts Contraception Mandate for Religious Groups

Thursday, January 02, 2014

On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked the Obama administration from forcing some religious-affiliated groups to provide health insurance coverage of birth control or face penalties as part of the Affordable Care Act. Joining The Takeaway to explain what this means for the law is Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center.

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On Morning After Pill, New Yorkers Are Mixed About Access

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New Yorkers have mixed reactions to the Obama administration's decision to will reverse course and comply with a New York judge's order to allow girls of any age to buy emergency contraception without prescriptions.


Transportation Nation

After Poisoning And Whacking Doesn't Work, NYC Transit Tries Birth Control On Rats

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A "smoothie" like this will contain rat birth control. (photo by Mary Harris)

(Mary Harris, WNYC) If you're scared of New York City subway rats, hanging out with Paul Jones is a bad idea. He's the man who manages the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority's trash rooms, and he knows where the rats are hiding. He even knows their favorite foods.

"They want the good stuff: the Red Bull, the lattes. They love lattes!" Jones said.

Jones has watched the NY MTA try various tactics to rid itself of rodents. They've hired exterminators. They're putting trash in mint-flavored bags, which are supposed to repel pests. They've even reinforced trash room doors to make it harder for rats to make it to the buffet table.

Now they're trying a new approach. The National Institutes of Health has just given Loretta Mayer, and her company, Senestech, a $1.1 million grant to tempt rats into consuming birth control.

Mayer's product, which is still in development, works in the lab by speeding up menopause in the female rat. She's quick to add that it doesn't affect human fertility because the compound is rapidly metabolized.  "It’s just like if you take an aspirin for a headache it'll numb your headache, but if you give an aspirin to your cat it would kill it," she said.

Senestech researchers (photo by Mary Harris/WNYC)

At the moment, she's trying to find the ideal flavor to appeal to the New York subway rat's palate. In Asia, she's flavored her bait with roasted coconut, dried fish, and beer. Here, she's  considering lacing the bait with pepperoni oil. It will be mixed into a bright pink smoothie--not solid food--because underground rats can find food easily but are constantly searching for liquid.

Mayer isn't the only scientist chronicling the lives of New York's rats. At Columbia University, Professor Ian Lipkin has been sending teams of researchers into the subways to collect rodent samples. He's trying to discover what kind of germs they're carrying.

"They’re little Typhoid Marys running around excreting all kinds  of things that are problematic for humans," Lipkin explained.

Lipkin then puts the risk into perspective: he said he worries more about shaking hands with someone with a bad cough than he does about crossing paths with a subway rat. But he wants to know what the rats are carrying.

"We have every year a whole host of diseases that occur in people--encephalitis, meningitis, respiratory diseases, diarrheal diseases--that are largely unexplained. And one potential mechanism by which people become infected is through exposure, directly or indirectly, to infectious agents that would be carried by rodents," Lipkin said. "We need to know what kind of bugs these animals carry so we can respond more effectively to them."

Back underground, Mayer's research team is gathering results from the initial taste tests. They're encouraged: the rats seem to be enjoying their smoothies.

But Paul Jones has seen exterminators come and go. And even the bluntest of weapons has failed to drive the rats off. He keeps blunt objects in the trash rooms so he can lay a good whack on the aggressive rats.

Paul Jones holds the keys to all of New York City's trash rooms. And he knows where all the rat nests are. (Photo by Mary Harris/WNC)

"We've hit them with shovels and pitchforks - they just flip over and run off. And they don't go away," he says with a sigh. "They're very hard to die."

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Where Did All the Teen Pregnancies Go?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Teen pregnancies in New York City have plummeted 27 percent in the past 10 years. Thomas Farley, commissioner of the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, explains why on the Brian Lehrer Show.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Monday Morning Politics: Jake Tapper

Monday, February 04, 2013

It's another busy week in DC, with continuing efforts to reach immigration reform, the confirmation of Chuck Hagel in the balance, and another set of negotiations over taxes and "sequester" cuts on the horizon. Jake Tapper, CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent and author of The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor, discusses the latest.

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What If There Was No Destiny?

Monday, November 19, 2012

When Barbara Harris was 37, she started wishing she could have a daughter. It was 1989, and by that time only two of her six sons were still at home. So she filled out all the paperwork, and later that summer got a call about an 8-month-old ...

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Treat Women Equally? This Means War!

Monday, May 07, 2012

It used to be that liberalism pushed for an equality between the sexes. Now, any motion to treat women as equal to men is used as political ammo.

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The Takeaway

Senate to Vote on Contraception Mandate

Monday, February 27, 2012

Later in the week, the Senate is expected to vote on a bill which would repeal the Obama Administration's health care regulation requiring birth control coverage. This follows a case in Tacoma, Washington where a federal judge ruled a law which requires pharmacies to offer emergency contraceptives to be unconstitutional. The plaintiff in the case, Kevin Storman, a store owner, felt his religious freedom was violated by the legislation. 

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The Takeaway

GOP Rep. Steve Chabot on the Birth Control Mandate

Friday, February 17, 2012

The religious freedom restoration act of 2012 is the latest wrinkle in a debate over contraceptive use in America. Last month, President Obama announced a mandate that would require faith-based employers to cover contraceptive care. Women's rights advocates have supported this measure, but members of the clergy and republicans in Congress have rallied against it in the name of religious freedom. The Takeaway asked listeners where they fell in the argument.

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The Takeaway

The Debate Over Obama's Birth Control Mandate

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Since Obama announced his birth control mandate that requires faith-based employers to pay for contraceptive coverage, church officials have waged against the controversial bill. Last Friday, President Obama put forth a compromise that would allow churches and their religious employees to shift the cost of birth control to their insurance companies. Pastor Bob Stec and James Salt discuss the debate within the religious community over the federal ruling.

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The Takeaway

Contraception Coverage Draws Criticism from Catholic Bishops

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken issue with the Obama administration's healthcare bill, which requires all university and hospital insurance plans to cover contraception. Archbishop Timothy Dolan wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial that this provision infringes on personal freedoms, "coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching." However, two new recently released polls reveal that American Catholics are more supportive of contraception coverage in employer-provided insurance than non-Catholics.

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The Takeaway

Two Contraceptives Put Users at Greater Risk for HIV Infection

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A study released on Monday shows that women using two popular hormonal contraceptives put themselves — and their partners — at greater risk for HIV. While this is a problem for all users of these drugs, it is particularly worrying to people in southern and eastern Africa, where these affordable and easily available contraceptives are used in a very high risk environment.

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New Federal Rules Aim to Expand Health Coverage for Women

Monday, August 01, 2011

Federal health officials have announced new regulations that would require insurers to cover a range of preventive care services for women without co-payments or deductibles, including contraception. The new rules would go into effect in January 2013.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Male Contraceptives

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New York Times reporter Pam Belluck discusses medical advances toward a male contraceptive and the social impact it could have.

Listeners: Is this an attractive option? Men: Would you take it? Women: Would you want him to? Call us or comment here!

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