"Worldwide, one in five pregnancies ends in abortion." Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute and World Health Organization studied abortion trends from 1995 to 2003, and turned up a spate of interesting statistics, published in an article in the current issue of The Lancet. Half the abortions performed worldwide are unsafe; around 70,000 women die annually from unsafe abortions, and an estimated 5 million more suffer injury from bad procedures. And, not surprisingly, the legal status of abortion doesn't make much difference; reporting on the findings, the Associated Press notes that "women are just as likely to get an abortion in countries where it is outlawed as they are in countries where it is legal."
Correction: This section originally contained a quotation from the Associated Press, which asserted that nine out of 10 women worldwide will have an abortion before they turn 45. The quotation has been removed from this section, after readers observed that that interpretation of the study's data appears to be incorrect. The Lancet frames the statistic this way: "The total abortion rate, which can be interpreted as the number of abortions a woman will have if current rates prevail throughout her reproductive lifetime, was 1.1 in 1995 and 0.9 in 2003... improvements in data availability and estimation methods might have contributed to the higher estimates in Africa for 2003 than for 1995. However, declines in abortion rates in some regions are substantial and likely real." For more, visit The Lancet Web site (the full text of this article requires free registration).
Women's mags hawk girly cigs. In a Washington Post editorial today, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-CA, inveighs against Camel No. 9 smokes, which are aimed at young women. The brand's current ad blitz includes lip-balm and mini-purse giveaways and ads offering fashion advice in magazines like Lucky and Marie Claire. Capps writes, "In June, 40 of my congressional colleagues joined me in writing to the publishers of 11 leading women's magazines… Not one of the magazines bothered to formally respond. We wrote again on Aug. 1. Seven of the 11 magazines responded, but none has committed to dropping the ads." Of course, the magazine business is competitive, and cigarette manufacturers will pay big bucks for advertising -- they can afford it, and the toxicity of their product means they can't afford not to target new customers. But at least one major women's mag has managed not to sell out to big tobacco: Props to Self for taking the high road on this one.
Would you like that lipstick leaded, or unleaded? The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is pushing for cosmetics companies to get the lead out of their lipsticks, because small amounts of lipstick are ingested with each wear. The group does independent cosmetics testing, and in a recent evaluation of 33 brands, 61 percent had detectable levels of lead, and a third of the products had more than 0.1 parts per million, the lead limit for candy. (Among the worst offenders: Christian Dior, Cover Girl and L'Oreal. Brand with no detectable lead: Revlon.) The companies with leaden lipsticks say their products meet FDA guidelines and pass toxicology tests. But Dr. Mark Mitchell, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, tells Reuters, "The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure."
Update: The FDA has said it will investigate lipstick lead levels in response to the campaign's claim, though it has been unable to verify similar claims made in the past.
Hillary Clinton enjoys a little male attention. "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann interviewed Sen. Clinton this week, and asked her what she thought of the fact that her name kept coming up during Tuesday's Republican debate. HRC's response: "Well, I guess if you don't have anything positive to say about yourself or your record or your vision for America, that might be an alternative, but you know, I'm running my campaign. I can't worry about what they're doing. It is something, though, that a lot of my friends have noticed, and one of them I thought, rather funny, who said to me, you know, when you get to be our age, it's kind of nice to have all these men obsessed with you. I guess I could put that spin on it." In general, I sort of wish she wouldn't go there, but Hillary's current laugh-it-off strategy does have a way of making her opponents look silly.
Rape at gunpoint, or "theft of services"? A Philadelphia-area prostitute arranged to meet a guy and have sex with him for money. She showed up at the meeting place, they had sex, and the customer asked if she'd have sex with his friend, too. She agreed, saying the fee would be another $100. Instead of bringing money, the friend showed up with more guys and a gun. She had sex with three more guys at gunpoint; the fifth guy saw she was crying, declined to have sex with her, and helped her get out of there. So here's the question: Does the fact that this woman negotiated sex-for-pay with two of these guys mean she wasn't raped? Philadelphia judge Teresa Carr Deni thinks so -- she dropped all sex and assault charges against the defendant at his preliminary hearing, saying, "She consented and she didn't get paid… I thought it was a robbery."
Thanks for all the reader tips today -- have a good weekend.