Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Times change, believe it or not

A new edition of Our Bodies, Our Selves is out. Excerpts and info are here , but if you want to read the book, you have to do things the old fashioned way -- you have to pay money and in return, you get sheets of paper with printing on them, bound together at one edge. OBOS was a real breakthrough when it first came out 35 years ago when physicians, including gynecologists, were overwhelmingly male; patients were not expected to participate in decisions about their own health; and reproductive health and sexuality weren't even spoken about openly. Actually giving women factual, non-judgmental information about their own bodies and health related decisions was, yup, radical.

Nowadays, we more or less take it for granted that people ought to be informed about medical issues, take part in decisions about their own medical treatment, have open, two-way communication with their physicians, and that doctors shouldn't contaminate the relationship with their own moral judgments. We also presume that women are autonomous and have the right to make their own choices about sex and reproduction. Or rather, some of us do. But OBOS has not become quaint -- it's still a great resource and it's just evolved and grown over the decades. Now if somebody would just do the same thing for us guys . . . .

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