Convenience Drug Kills Pregnant Women

Cytotec, a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat peptic ulcers, is increasingly being used by doctors to induce labor in pregnant women, though it has not been approved for this use.

G.D. Searle Corporation, which makes the drug, warns on the package label that Cytotec "may cause the uterus to rupture (tear) during pregnancy if it is used to bring on (induce) labor" which can result in "severe bleeding, hospitalization, surgery, infertility, or death."

Pregnant women given the drug do experience ruptured uteruses which kills them, their newborns, and sometimes both. But many doctors intent on sticking to "daylight obstetrics"--that is, making sure deliveries fall into their daytime schedule--induce labor through prescribing the drug to healthy pregnant women. The women receive the drug directly from medical staff and are not shown the warning labels. Most women given the drug have no idea that it is not approved for use during pregnancy.

Doctors' "off-label" use of the drug is legal because the FDA permits a drug that has FDA approval for one purpose to be used to treat anything. Doctors are allowed to use their own judgement. Patients are not asked for theirs. To hell with informed consent. To hell with a woman's own best interest.

Over the past decade, the rate of forced induction has doubled to one in five pregnant women. There has also been a 28-fold increase in the risk of uterine rupture among women with prior cesarean sections. In the last three years, the FDA received 30 reports of Cytotec-related uterine rupture, and eight cases in which the fetus died in utero.

The lawsuits are mounting against doctors, proving to be an irritation if not a deterrent. A first lawsuit was recently filed against Searle by a man whose wife died during delivery after being induced with Cytotec. Searle finally sent a letter last August to 200,000 health care providers warning them that Cytotec is "contraindicated in women who are pregnant because it can cause abortion." However, only about one-third of hospitals have restricted its use in response to the letter.

(source: Mother Jones, January/February 2001)

--Adriene Sere

Costa Rica: Thailand Of Central America

Costa Rica, which has long held the reputation as the "Switzerland of Central America" because of its relative political stability and lack of a military, is increasingly becoming the Thailand of Central America for pimps.

Despite its distinction as a peaceful democracy that prioritizes the welfare of its citizens, Costa Rica has never been a safe, supportive country for women and girls. In this country, where abortion is illegal and prostitution legal, the plight of females is now made worse through what is the worst of globalization.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands that interest on debts be paid at the expense of existing social programs and safety nets. Corporations are pushing for privatization of public services.

These and other economic pressures have made Costa Rica increasingly reliant on its tourist industry, and more vulnerable to the pimping industry that is accompanying it. Much of the pimping has been transplanted from the Philippines and Thailand, following the crackdown on the slave trade in those countries.

Pimps find Costa Rica profitable because of the economic vulnerability of the women and girls of the country, the constant flow of tourists, and the country's political hospitality toward them.

The country's accommodation of pimps is increasingly taboo, but nevertheless continues to be conspicuous. Recently, Costa Rican Congressman Walter Cespedes Salazar requested special favors for a convicted pimp, Ervin Castillo Davila, who for years ran a brothel selling children. Castillo continues to own luxury cars and many expensive properties.

On September 12th of last year, Congressman Cespedes wrote a personal letter to the Minister of Justice and to the director of the high security prison where Castillo was held, asking that the pimp be transferred to a low security prison, where he would be allowed freedom on weekends. The congressman's letter stated that the pimp "was a person of great personal qualities."

On December 8th, ABC's 20/20 aired a program on child prostitution in Costa Rica. The program showed that Castillo continued to manage his child-pimping business by cell phone from his prison cell, arranging to send two girls in school uniform to meet with ABC reporters posing as clients.

In a pathetic and callous attempt to protect the country's reputation, Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez dismissed the problem, stating that there were "only 20 or 30" children being prostituted in the country.

(sources include http://www.casa-alianza.org and Tico Times, December 15 and 22)

--AS

No Criminal Charges Filed For Real Welfare Fraud

Maximus and Goodwill, the two largest W2 (Wisconsin's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) welfare agencies in Milwaukee, have admitted to "improperly spending" hundreds of thousands of welfare dollars on projects in other states, parties, promotional schemes, meals and concerts. Maximus admits to "inappropriately" billing the state $411,000, while the Legislative Joint Audit found an additional $1.6 million that wasn't "well documented." Goodwill' s Employment Solutions "mistakenly billed" the state for $143,000.

Maximus spent Wisconsin welfare money in New York to secure a welfare contract ($51,000), on "disallowed meals" ($17,358 ), on social activities and a holiday party for staff ($35,000), on a fatherhood summit by Hudson Institute conservative think tank ($10,000), on a stage at a French festival ($5000), on promotional items and publicity to advertise their company logo ($184,000) and on a performer for a party for staff and 12 program "graduates." ($23,000). Goodwill, which is still under investigation, admits to spending $143,000 on travel, meals, housing and salaries in Arizona to secure a welfare contract there. (All figures from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

To date there is no move to terminate either corporation's current or future W2 contracts (Goodwill: $102 million; Maximus: $58 million). Nor has the District Attorney filed criminal charges against either agency.

When millionaire agencies bilk the state of hundreds of thousands of dollars, both the state and the media label their massive welfare fraud as merely "inappropriate" and "improper spending." Yet a single mom on welfare who "improperly" or "inappropriately" reports her income is charged with felony welfare fraud and criminally prosecuted. Neither the state, the DA, nor the media take pity on the desperate mom, and use euphemistic language like "improper" or "erroneous" reporting. She is labeled, charged, prosecuted , convicted, and sentenced as a criminal. And yes, she also has to repay the state.

The wealthy W2 agencies insist that they were "unaware" of their billing/reporting "errors." Somehow they did not know they were committing welfare fraud when they spent Wisconsin W2 funds in New York and Arizona. Perhaps that is why the DA has not brought criminal charges against them. Yet if a mother on welfare is "unaware" of reporting "errors" (for instance, if she doesn't report income because only her children are on welfare, not herself), ignorance of the law is no defense. How then can millionaire

agencies with high-paid lawyers and accountants plead ignorance and avoid prosecution?

While the daily media minimizes Maximus' and Goodwill's theft of welfare funds, they also overlook the victims of this crime. These state-funded welfare administrators stole cash not from a vague "state," but from impoverished mothers, children and people with disabilities who sought assistance and were illegally turned away, sanctioned and terminated.

The examples are chilling. Goodwill denied Yvette Reeves the cash support she needed to stay home during the summer to care for her 13 year old son, D'Andre, who had Cerebral Palsy and mental retardation. When she asked for child care D'Andre, Goodwill again denied her funds. When D'Andre was scalded to death in his bathtub while being cared for by a 14-year-old sibling, Goodwill offered no apologies and still no money. Goodwill continues to deny funds to single mothers to care for sick children, moms who are hospitalized or too sick to do Goodwill's unwaged labor, and mothers who are facing eviction and job loss.

While Maximus was embezzling $411,000, they denied single moms like Tracy Jones, Alfreda Parks and Ethel Scott funds to tide them over between jobs. Instead Maximus referred these women in crisis to Maximus' temporary agency, Max Staff, which sent them to do part-time temporary factory work in a nearby town, charging them $20 a week for van service from Maximus to the factory. Max Staff paid the women $7.01 an hour while paying men on the same job $8.14. By refusing to provide cash to these struggling families, Maximus profited in four ways: temp job profit, van profit, discrimination profit and unspent funds!

Ironically, sadly, both Maximus and Goodwill also stand to reap as much as $4.4 million in performance bonuses for so effectively denying and terminating W2 support for families ("case reduction"). And the Private Industry Council, the agency who "earned" $1 million a year to monitor the W2 contracts, will again receive a million dollars to "review W2 contracts," while providing no financial oversight and no protection to W2's victims.

W2 "case reduction" and "improper spending" has resulted in a 37% increase in infant mortality in Milwaukee each year since W2 began ( Start Smart Milwaukee, 2000). While Goodwill and Maximus enjoy lavish meals, trips, parties, and concerts, 30 more African American Milwaukee babies under the age of 1 die unnecessary deaths each year. Older children and disabled mothers who have died as a result of W2's failed experiment are not included in the study. Corporate welfare has never been so lucrative--or so deadly.

--Pat Gowens

For more info, go to Welfare Warriors website, at http://www.execpc.com/~wmvoice). You can also call Welfare Warriors at (414) 342-6662.

Send letters to the U.S. Attorney General and Wisconsin state District Attorney, urging them to prosecute Maximus and Goodwill.

U.S. Attorney General, Main Justice Building; 950 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20530; Fax 202-307-6777.

Wisconsin State District Attorney E. Michael McCann, 821 W. State St., Milwaukee, WI 53233

You can send copies of your letters to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Goodwill, and Maximus.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 333 W. State; Milwaukee, WI 53203; fax: 414-224-2047; http://www.jsonline.com

John Miller, Goodwill President, 6055 N. 91 Milwaukee, WI 53225; fax: 414-449-5749

Jerry Stepaniak, Maximus VP, 1304 S. 70, West Allis WI 53214; fax: 414-607-0466

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