05-22-2018  12:32 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family seeks answers after Oregon student injured on trip

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of an Oregon college student is searching for answers after the 22-year-old was found injured and unconscious near railroad tracks in Truckee, California.The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Aaron Salazar remains in the critical care unit at a hospital in Reno,...

Oregon mom raises awareness after baby dies from meningitis

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Summer Poff knew something was wrong with her 7-month-old son, Blaize, early in the morning on May 11.He was fussy, feverish and wouldn't go to sleep. The Salem mom tried to soothe her baby and gave him Tylenol, but at 3 a.m, she knew she needed to take him to the...

Facelift of Seattle's Space Needle nears completion

SEATTLE (AP) — Tourism is booming in Seattle. Just take a look at the Space Needle.The family-owned landmark is set to unveil the biggest renovation in its 56-year history next month, a 0 million investment in a single year of construction that transformed the structure's top viewing...

Lawsuit seeks to change how Army Corps regulates shorelines

SEATTLE (AP) — Three conservation groups are suing the Army Corps of Engineers over how it regulates seawalls, bulkheads or other barriers built along shorelines across Puget Sound.Sound Action, Friends of The San Juans and the Washington Environmental Council want the Corps to better...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Man charged with shooting at black teen waives hearing

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — A white suburban Detroit homeowner accused of shooting at a black teenager who came to his door to ask for directions will stand trial.Jeffrey Zeigler was bound over Tuesday to circuit court after waiving his preliminary examination on assault with intent to...

GLAAD study finds LGBTQ representation in film fell in 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Despite high-profile Oscar wins for art house films like "Call Me By Your Name" and "A Fantastic Women," LGBTQ representation in films from the seven biggest Hollywood studios fell significantly in 2017 according to a study released Tuesday by the advocacy organization...

Black man ordered to pay [scripts/homepage/home.php],000 for racist campus graffiti

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A former Eastern Michigan University student who admitted to painting racist graffiti on campus has been ordered to pay more than [scripts/homepage/home.php],000 in restitution.The Ann Arbor News reports 29-year-old Eddie Curlin learned his punishment Monday after earlier pleading guilty to...

ENTERTAINMENT

Soccer star Brandi Chastain or Gary Busey? Fans pan plaque

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Social media is finding little to like about the likeness on a plaque honoring retired soccer champion Brandi Chastain.The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in San Francisco unveiled the plaque on Monday night. Chastain said, "It's not the most flattering. But it's nice."On...

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer R. Kelly sexually abused a woman, locked her in rooms and vehicles for punishment, and infected her with herpes, the woman said in a lawsuit filed in New York.Faith Rodgers said in the suit filed Monday that she met Kelly about a year ago after a concert in San...

A farewell to the road for Paul Simon

NEW YORK (AP) — Farewell tours don't always mean farewell, but are a ripe time for appreciation and appraisal. Paul Simon's concerts and a new biography offer the opportunity for both.Simon's "Homeward Bound" tour began last week in Vancouver and takes him across North America, to Europe and...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Soccer star Brandi Chastain or Gary Busey? Fans pan plaque

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Social media is finding little to like about the likeness on a plaque honoring retired...

Woman accuses R. Kelly of sexual battery, giving her herpes

NEW YORK (AP) — Singer R. Kelly sexually abused a woman, locked her in rooms and vehicles for punishment,...

APNewsbreak: Pentagon adopts new cellphone restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of debate, the Defense Department approved Monday new restrictions for the...

Brazil leader won't seek re-election

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's President Michel Temer is ending speculation that he might seek re-election...

Rights group: Rohingya insurgents massacred Myanmar Hindus

BANGKOK (AP) — Amnesty International said Wednesday that Myanmar's army was not the only group that has...

Romania court acquits Senate speaker of lying under oath

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — A Romanian court has acquitted the Senate speaker of making false statements...

Thanh Tan New America Media/The Texas Tribune

McALLEN, Texas — In this Roman Catholic stronghold, where abortion is deeply stigmatized, reproductive health providers tell stories of women going to pharmacies across the border in Mexico, in search of a drug they hope will terminate unwanted pregnancies.

But the providers say that the pharmacies, which are largely unregulated, often fail to give proper instructions for the drug, misoprostol, and that it does not always give the women the result they seek.

"I'm sure it's always occurred, but we're noticing it more," said Kristeena Banda, the director of Whole Woman's Health in McAllen, one of two Rio Grande Valley abortion providers. "A few times a week, women come in to ask for a pregnancy test. They've taken the pills, but they're still seeing symptoms of pregnancy."

Misoprostol, which requires a prescription in the United States, is used primarily for ulcer prevention here and is not prescribed, on its own, for abortions. American doctors and clinics do sometimes pair it with the drug mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486) to produce a "medical abortion," a method considered more effective than using misoprostol by itself. But the World Health Organization has said that using misoprostol alone can be highly effective as an abortion method, provided patients take the correct dosage within the first nine weeks of gestation.

And knowledge of what the correct dosage is seems to be in short supply among the pharmacy workers dispensing the drugs in northern Mexico. Researchers say that the brand-name form of the medication, Cytotec, made by Pfizer, has been available over the counter in Mexico since 1985 and that generic versions have followed. The drug is available in many small, independent pharmacies in the country, but the people selling it often lack training. Because abortion is illegal outside the country's capital city, they are also wary of providing information on how misoprostol should be used for that purpose.

Without proper instructions, Banda said, her clinic's patients have often ingested misoprostol in varying amounts — some would take an entire bottle within days — based on what friends or family had told them.

Dan Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist who is vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health and an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, stressed that misoprostol was a safe drug when used properly, for example to prevent bleeding during labor and to control uterine contractions.

"The biggest risk for these women is that it's not going to be effective" at ending their pregnancies, he said. A woman for whom the drug doesn't work might well not know it, he added. "She could potentially have a continuing pregnancy and not get a follow-up."

Indeed, many health providers also say that women crossing into Mexico to buy misoprostol are ignoring important follow-up care.

Abortion-rights advocates are concerned that a lack of awareness about clinical options in the United States — as well as a lack of funds — could lead more women to go underground and risk their health in this way. In 2011, Texas lawmakers made deep cuts in financing for family planning for low-income women. And a new law that requires a woman seeking an abortion to receive a sonogram 24 hours ahead of the procedure — that is, to make at least two visits to the abortion clinic — may be prompting some to seek alternate abortion methods.

Women Banda talked to who sought out misoprostol in Mexico, she said, were looking for "the least invasive option, both medically and personally."

She added that it was likely that her clinic was seeing only a fraction of the women who were using the drug. South Texas has a concentration of immigrants who were born in Latin American countries, where self-medication is a common practice and abortion is outlawed or culturally stigmatized.

Mexico City legalized abortion in 2007, but the historical lack of access throughout the country has contributed to the popularity of misoprostol for its unlabeled use, especially in poor areas where pharmacy regulations are largely unenforced, according to a 2010 study in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

In July, at one of the many pharmacies lining the main street in Nuevo Progreso, a town across the border from Weslaco, Jose Alfredo Acosta was selling Cytotec for $153 per box. The package contained 28 pills, each about 200 micrograms. The informational insert did not include directions for self-induced abortion, but Acosta said he knew that was why many women bought the medication.

"If I see that a girl is too young, I won't sell it," he said, citing stories he had heard of girls hemorrhaging after using the pills. "I try my best to explain the consequences, but there's only so much I can do."

Like many Progreso pharmacy workers, Acosta does not hold a pharmacy degree or a license but is allowed under Mexican law to dispense Cytotec. Asked about the proper dosage, he reluctantly suggested that patients take one pill every two hours — 18 tablets in all.

According to the World Health Organization, the recommended dosage of misoprostol, if used alone for an abortion, should be four tablets (800 micrograms) every three hours for a total of three doses, or 12 tablets.

Gabriel Noguez, who works in a pharmacy down the street from Acosta and is also untrained, said his shop sold Cytotec for $241.80 per box.

"It sells. That's the problem," he said. "But I won't tell them how to take it. I just say, 'You might have problems later.' "

Grossman said he was concerned that the misoprostol issue was a symptom of the barriers women faced in getting a legal abortion in the United States, especially for those who were determined to end their pregnancies.

In a 2010 study he published in the journal Reproductive Health Matters, a 30-year-old Texas woman reported that she started taking misoprostol in her 13th week of pregnancy. She bled so badly that she had to be admitted to a hospital.

The woman said cost was the factor behind her decision to try misoprostol instead of visiting a clinic. But she had no regrets.

"If I was put in the exact situation all over again," she was quoted as saying, "I'd probably do it again."

This story was made possible by a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, and was produced as part of New America Media's Women Immigrants Fellowship Program. It was also published in The New York Times.

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