2015 started out with a bang for me blogging wise. Gwyneth Paltrow, whose health advice makes me think she is equal parts worried well, attention seeker, and bored silly of being rich suggested women get a steam douche with mugwort and other potential allergens and I said, “Don’t do that.” Apparently newspapers, blogs, and magazines were desperate for some doctor to actually stand up and say something definitive and so my post went viral in a crazy way – over 260,000 views. People who I hadn’t heard from for years came out of the woodwork because I was mentioned in People.com and a variety of gossip sites. This tells me keep standing up to bullshit. Especially Gwyneth’s, because she’s fond of the woo. Hopefully some people came to my blog to read about perils of douching with something from Potions class at Hogwarts and stayed for the science.
Bashing the HPV vaccine was big again in 2015. Sigh. The reporters who covered this poorly seemed to stick to a script that we all know by heart now: illness that started immediately post vaccine, no actual treating physicians, biased experts, misuse of VAERS, inaccurate reporting about Japan’s vaccine program, ignoring the success (and apparent lack of adverse events) in Australia as well as ignoring the vast body of medical evidence on safety. The Toronto Star covered this with shock and awe in February and my response struck a nerve – my name was even trending on Twitter in Canada for brief time. Heather Mallick, an op-ed writer then decided to double down and learn me some facts, because apparently the San Francisco Bay Area is rural and rural doctors don’t know shit (a double geography and education fail). When people asked Mallick why she attacked me she just blocked them. Again. And Again. And again. I think Ms. Mallick has the dubious distinction of blocking more doctors than any other person on Twitter. Hey, if you are going to write something mean and inaccurate in your national platform either be big enough to stand by it or apologize – scurrying away and crying that the Internet is a big old horrible place is cowardly. Anyway, Mallick’s malice only drew more attention to the cause and eventually the Toronto Star was forced to retract the article. My experience with the Toronto Star tells me that even people who don’t have the platform of a major national newspaper can make a difference, especially when a whole bunch of cool people read their blog and follow them on Twitter. Together we are more powerful. Yeah us!
In August things got really intense when I wrote about Dr. Ben Carson having his name on a paper that used tissue from aborted fetuses. This was an issue because Dr. Carson in on record saying fetal tissue research is essentially never indicated (he must have been whispering …”except when I do it” under his breath the whole time he was speaking with Megyn Kelly). His non defense was best summed up by Wonkette as being an abortion archaeologist, a veritable Indiana Jones of fetal research. I was called by CNN, MSNBC, and several major newspapers. When I asked how they got my cell number one smartly replied, “I’m a reporter.” Ah well, but I was the one to actually read the paper and wrote about it. Thanks to Virginia Hughes and BuzzFeed for picking up my post and getting the word out. And Wonkette, you make me laugh. I aspire to be your honorary gynecologist.
Planned Parenthood became the focus of the fall. This made me very sad that politicians would consider illegally obtained video that was highly edited and contained images of women’s genitalia without their consent as evidence of anything but a crime on the part of the people who produced the films. The news media who wrote about this and perpetuated the myth that maybe something illegal was happening should be equally ashamed. Gory headlines mentioning the term “baby parts” was de regueur which only compounded the falsehoods because people rarely read beyond headlines. These headlines also likely helped to radicalize a marginal misogynist.
But what sticks out for me in 2015 as being the most memorable (and not in a good way) is investigating and prosecuting women who have miscarriages and those who resort to the tragedy of attempting a home abortion. Purvi Patel went to jail for murder despite no evidence that she took or did anything illegal. None. I have heard stories of women in the hospital for very early preterm births who had police rifle through their rooms looking for evidence. Yes, doctors and nurses and social worker are calling the police when women don’t display what is considered the right amount of grief or God forbid disclose that they had a tinge of doubt about their pregnancy at 6 weeks. And despite the fact that abortion is not illegal Anna Yocca is being charged with attempted murder for attempting to induce one herself with a coat hanger.
For 2016 I sadly predict more of the same. More nonsense from Paltrow. More anti vaccine pieces. More criminalization of pregnancy outcomes. More attempts at home abortions. And I’ll do what I can to speak up about it.