A new study published in the Journal of Social Policy examines the links between sociopolitical context and mental and emotional health and wellbeing among Latino immigrants in the US. "People focus so much on policies, like the border wall or the DREAM Act. But it's not just whether these policies pass. It is the overall discourse. This is a vulnerable and marginalised population, and that climate creates fear and uncertainty, which have impacts on people's health," said Jane Lee, lead researcher of the study. Factors like discrimination and hostile rhetoric, unpredictable circumstances, and confusing shifts in policy were linked to fear, hopelessness, substance misuse, and avoidance of medical care.
Extreme anti-abortion legislation is moving forward in several states, provoking legal challenges that anti-abortion advocates hope could lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. This week, North Dakota’s governor signed legislation criminalizing second-trimester abortions (Alabama recently passed similar legislation), a ‘heartbeat’ bill in Ohio was signed into law that would effectively ban almost all abortions in the state, since a fetal heartbeat can generally be detected before many women even know they’re pregnant. Texas legislators debated a bill that would criminalize abortion and make it possible to sentence women who have abortions to death.
The Associated Press reports on worsening health and safety conditions in subsidized apartments: “The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development subsidizes rents for tenants assigned to both privately owned apartments and public housing run by state or local authorities. Many in these 2.1 million households are disabled, elderly or single parents. As the nation’s biggest affordable housing provider, the federal government will spend about $18 billion this year for these two programs. Yet tenants curse heaters that don’t heat, emergency exits that don’t open, windows that don’t close. They complain of rats, rust, holes and mold. In 2015 alone, families living in subsidized housing reported at least 155,000 more cases of childhood asthma than expected if the rate were the same as for renters in other households, according to AP’s analysis of a national tenant survey. Medical studies tie asthma to mold… Conditions have deteriorated so badly in many subsidized buildings that by the government’s own estimate it would take tens of billions of dollars to rehabilitate them.”’
National Public Radio reports on how climate change is forcing many people from rural Guatemala to migrate to the US, and exacerbating other issues like poverty and exposure to violence. “In recent years, and what everyone said, almost to a person, was that over the last six or seven years, things really began to change. The weather patterns started to become erratic. The rains didn't come when they were supposed to come. And increasingly, it became impossible for people to grow their staple crops - to grow potatoes, to grow maize. And as a result, they had not only nothing to eat but also nothing to survive on to sell. And so as a result, increasingly, people were abandoning their land and heading north… “There are always a lot of reasons why people migrate,” Yarsinio Palacios, an expert on forestry in Guatemala, told me. “Maybe a family member is sick. Maybe they are trying to make up for losses from the previous year. But in every situation, it has something to do with climate change.””
US representatives Lauren Underwood and Alma Adams announced the launch this week of a Black Maternal Health Caucus. “Representative Underwood said the high maternal death rate among black women in the U.S. prompted her to co-found the caucus. ‘Our caucus will elevate black maternal health as a national priority and explore and advocate for effective, evidence-based, culturally competent policies and best practices for improving black maternal health,’ Underwood said at a press conference.”
New York City declared a measles outbreak a public health emergency this week, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying that the city would require unvaccinated people living in the most affected neighborhoods to receive the measles vaccine.
The Los Angeles Times reported on how beverage company lobbyists spent $11.8 million to influence state and local legislators. “Dinners at an expensive restaurant in Maui — with ocean views. Tickets to professional sports games. A free screening of “Black Panther” at a Sacramento IMAX theater. And a $250,000 donation to a group that funds the governor’s travel… “They exercise extraordinary influence in this building,” state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) said of the industry. “We don’t underestimate the power of the opposition.”… In addition to a statewide soda tax, bills under consideration this year would require warning labels about sugar and prevent soda companies from offering retailers incentives to sell their drinks. They also would ban retailers from selling supersize sodas and prohibit sales in checkout lanes. As lawmakers consider these bills, Monning said, his question to his colleagues will be simple: “Do you represent the soda industry?” he said. “Or do you represent those children in your district showing a steady increase in poor health?””
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and 14 Democratic co-sponsors introduced the fifth iteration of a Medicare for All proposal to implement single-payer healthcare in the US. Under the proposal, hospital visits, primary care, medical devices, lab services, maternity care, vision care, dental care, and prescription drugs would be covered for all US residents without a co-pay. This version also includes long-term care support for people with disabilities.
Promundo released their first Cost of the Man Box study, estimating economic costs related to harmful norms around masculinity, like using violence to resolve conflicts and men not reaching out when they need help. “$15.7 billion is the minimum amount that could be saved by the US economy annually if there were no Man Box. For comparison, $15.7 billion represents the amount needed to cover the final budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for two years. It also represents college tuition, fees, and room and board for over 415,000 US students at public colleges…”