Reproduction

Some male spiders destroy partners' genitals to prevent future mating.

Evolutionary (psychology) theory of sexual selection suggests that organisms have a biological imperative to produce as many genetically-related and viable offspring as possible. One strategy is to mate as much as possible. Another strategy is to limit a partners's access to other mating partners. Destroying your partner's genitals after mating take this approach to an extreme.

From National Geographic:

This Spider Destroys Female Genitalia to Prevent Future Mating
Some orb-weaving spiders secure their fatherhood by mutilating their partners’ genitalia—the first such discovery in nature, a new study says.
By Michael Greshko
Talk about tough love—some male spiders lop off parts of females' genitalia to prevent her from mating again, a new study says.
The behavior, which guarantees that the male will father all of her offspring, is the first to suggest that males evolve behaviors to maim external parts of the female genitalia.
Published November 5 in Current Biology, the discovery also adds further nuance to the theory of sexual selection, which holds that males and females within a species compete for opportunities to mate—even if it kills them.
“All the time, we’re discovering [such] new, astonishing adaptations,” says Jutta Schneider, a biologist at the University of Hamburg who wasn’t involved in the study but has collaborated with some of its authors. “This competition has enormous power.”

Read the rest here.

Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno.

I've posted about Isabella Rossellini' Green Porno series previously, but it's worth a repost.

Growing up, I became acquainted with Isabella Rossellini, an actress, through two David Lynch films, Wild at Heart and Blue Velvet (I was a huge David Lynch fan as a kid). She is widely regarded worldwide as an exceptional actress.

Having achieved world domination as an actress, she turned her sights to various philanthropic conservation causes and a related pet project called Green Porno.

The series, which aired on the Sundance Channel, featured Ms. Rossellini and other actors dressed up as creatures and having sex. It was intended to be both educational and fun. You can read more about it here: link.

Here are a sample of the shorts:

Jessica Biel and WomanCare Global team up for funny sex ed videos.

In response to the mostly piss-poor sex education in the states, Jessica Biel, Joy Bryant, and Whitney Cummings teamed up with WomanCare Global (a nonprofit women's sexual health service provider) and Funny or Die to produce a series of educational comedy clips that address some misconceptions related to sex. The clips have received a lot of attention, and for good reason.

From an article in Slate:

Today, Biel and WomanCare Global, an international nonprofit that works to improve access to products such as contraception and menstrual cups, released a series of videos on Funny or Die called “If You Don’t Tell Them, Then Who Will?” Named to encourage parents and other informed adults to speak honestly with the kids in their lives about reproductive health, the three clips feature Biel kibitzing with fellow actresses Joy Bryant and Whitney Cummings about hetero sex, birth control, dudes, and periods in someone’s kitchen.
The three women cite some messed-up ideas of how female bodies work—e.g., if a condom gets stuck in your vagina, it cannot travel up and out your mouth, contrary to the anatomical fantasies of one Idaho lawmaker—which work as straw men for on-screen text to bat down. “We thought the best way to encourage women to get educated and start the conversation around our bodies was to make it comically clear that people like me, and other non-experts, should not be the source for this information,” said Biel in a statement.

Read the rest here.

Check out WomanCare Global here.

And the videos:

Documentary on sexual health program in Uganda: When a Mother Lives.

Passed along by Miranda (thanks!) with this comment:

I came across a really interesting video a while ago and thought it was super relevant to today’s lecture. It is about a project happening in Uganda where they are getting women to self swab to screen for cervical cancer in hopes to catch it early, as cervical cancer is the number one cancer in Uganda and it is very preventable if caught early. I thought it was relevant to what we were talking about today with women's reproductive health being taboo in some cultures and those barriers that exist in getting these women adequate health care. I thought the approach that this project takes is great to break down those barriers and still be respectful of the cultural norms.

The description, from the BC Centre of Disease Control, which collaborated on the project:

What happens to a family, community and country when a mother lives instead of dies? This is the fundamental question at the heart of When a Mother Lives, a 23 minute documentary from ASPIRE, a global health initiative about cervical cancer from the BC Centre for Disease Control.  Set in Kisenyi, Uganda, the story is told through the lives of three women who live in Kisenyi as well as by interviewing various stakeholders in the project, including Ugandan researchers, clinicians, and the Ministry of Health.  The goal of the documentary is to spread a positive message to funders and policy makers on how practical and sustainable action around cervical cancer screening can be taken in places where no screening currently exists. By transporting the viewer into the lives of the women, the video also brings greater understanding to their experiences and provides motivation to move forward for change.  

When a Mother Lives was inspired by the idea of pairing a ‘tried and true’ model of community engagement and mobilization with a new and novel ‘leapfrog’ screening technology called HPV DNA testing.  The video outlines “The ASPIRE Process” as an ecosystem consisting of six distinct, yet mutually reinforcing steps: Educate, Mobilize, Collect, Test, Treat, and Grow. Taken together, these steps layout a road map for how a cervical cancer screening program might be realized in low income settings like Kisenyi and provide a potential ‘recipe for success’ in further reducing the burden of cervical cancer in sub-Saharan Africa.

And the documentary:


Three legal parents.

From the CBC:

Della Wolf is B.C.'s 1st child with 3 parents on birth certificateB.C.'s new Family Law Act is the first to allow birth certificates with more than 2 parents By Catherine Rolfsen

A Vancouver baby has just become the first child in British Columbia with three parents listed on a birth certificate.

Three-month-old Della Wolf Kangro Wiley Richards is the daughter of lesbian parents and their male friend.

"It feels really just natural and easy, like any other family," said biological father Shawn Kangro. "It doesn't feel like anything is strange about it."

B.C.'s new Family Law Act, which came into effect last year, allows for three or even more parents.

Della's family is the first to go through the process, and they finalized the birth certificate registration last week.

B.C., which is celebrating Family Day on Monday, is the first province in Canada with legislation to allow three parents on a birth certificate, although it's been achieved elsewhere through litigation.

Moms wanted a dad, not just a donor

The story starts when Danielle Wiley and her wife, Anna Richards, were faced with a problem many couples encounter: how to get pregnant.

"Both of us, from the beginning, wanted to have a father that would actually be a participant," said Wiley.

"I know a lot of other lesbian couples don't want that. They want an anonymous donor. But both of us liked the idea of somebody who could actually be involved, and who could be a father figure to our children."

Kangro, an old friend of Richards, seemed like the obvious choice.

"When Anna and Danielle approached me, I think instantly I thought I was going to say yes, even though I had to debate a lot of things in my head first," said Kangro.

Before Della was conceived, the three started creating a written contract, outlining how their family would work.

Wiley and Richards would have custody of Della, as well as financial responsibility.

Kangro would be a guardian, with rights to access.

Wiley became pregnant with Della without the help of a clinic, using what she describes as the "homestyle" method.

Read the rest, and see the news clip, here.

The happiest saddest story ever.

From the CBC:

'Baby Iver' born healthy, body of mother Robyn Benson dies

B.C. woman declared brain-dead on Dec. 28 underwent surgery to deliver 'Baby Iver' on Saturday

Robyn Benson, the Victoria woman who was declared brain-dead in December, underwent surgery on Saturday to deliver a healthy baby boy before she died the next day.

Benson was five months pregnant when she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on Dec. 28 that left her brain-dead. She was put on life-support at a B.C. hospital until doctors determined the fetus was viable enough for them to perform a caesarean section.

On Monday, Benson's husband Dylan announced his son's arrival — and Benson's passing — on Facebook.

"My beautiful and amazing son, Iver Cohen Benson, was born. Iver is healthy and is the cutest and most precious person I have ever met," wrote Dylan Benson.

"On Sunday, we had to unfortunately say goodbye to the strongest and most wonderful woman I have ever met. I miss Robyn more than words can explain. I could not be more impressed with her strength, and I am so lucky to have known her. She will live on forever within Iver, and in my heart."

Dylan Benson said Iver will remain under the care of hospital staff until he is healthy enough to go home.

'Baby Iver' fund exceeds $144K

Dylan Benson, a 32-year-old who works for an IT company, started the "Baby Iver" fund on the crowd-funding website YouCaring.com shortly after his wife's hospitalization.

He said he had to take leave from work to deal with the demands of single-parenthood and the stress of planning a funeral, and he needed money to cover some of the costs associated with missing work and having a new baby.

Dylan Benson's initial goal was to raise $36,000. Within days of his story making front-page news, however, people from around the world started donating. On Feb.10, the Baby Iver fund had raised over $144,016.

Benson said the additional money would go toward his son's care and education, as well as a new living space.

"Thank you to each and every one of you for your love, your kind words, and your support during this incredibly difficult time," said Dylan Benson.

New PSA campaign: Unexpected?

From Al Jazeera:

What if boys got pregnant? Teen pregnancy campaign shocks and sparks dialogue.

A Chicago teen pregnancy campaign took an 'unexpected' turn when it featured Photoshopped posters of boys baring pregnant bellies. Displayed near local high schools, the campaign stresses the impact of unprotected sex and the importance of shared responsibility. A similar campaign in Milwaukee has been credited for its reduction of teen pregnancy rates.

See some of the feedback here.

And another one of the ads:

Mother-daughter womb transplant.

From the BBC:

Mother-to-daughter womb transplant 'success' in Sweden

Two Swedish women could be able to give birth using the wombs in which they were carried, doctors say, hailing the world's first mother-to-daughter uterus transplants.

The weekend procedures were completed by more than 10 surgeons at Sweden's University of Gothenburg.

The names of the patients have not been revealed.

Doctors caution they will not consider the operations successful unless the women achieve pregnancy.

"We are not going to call it a complete success until this results in children," said Michael Olausson, one of the Swedish surgeons told The Associated Press.

"That's the best proof."

Both women started in-vitro fertilisation before the surgery, he said, adding that their frozen embryos will be thawed and transferred if the women are considered in good enough health after a year-long observation period.

Up and walking

Both recipients, who are aged in their 30s, were tired after the surgery but recovering well, said the university in a statement.

One had her uterus removed due to cervical cancer and the other was born without a uterus, they added

"The donating mothers are up and walking and will be discharged from the hospital within a few days," said Mats Brannstrom, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the university.

He is the leader of a research team - comprising 20 scientists, doctors and specialists - which has been working on the project since 1999.

Turkish doctors said they had performed a successful uterus transplant last year, giving a womb from a deceased donor to a young woman, but Dr Olausson said he was not sure whether the recipient had yet started undergoing fertility treatment.

The first widely reported womb transplant from a live donor was performed in 2000, in Saudi Arabia, but the organ had to be removed three months later because of a blood clot.

Last year, 56-year-old Eva Ottoson, who lives in Nottinghamshire, said she hoped to become the first woman to have her womb transplanted into her daughter, Sara, 25, who lives in Sweden and was born without reproductive organs.

It remains unknown whether they were involved in the weekend's procedures.

Twins from different dads.

From MSNBC, and as discussed in class last week:

Mother gives birth to twins with different dads ‘One-in-a-million’ occurrence involves two eggs and two different fathers

A Texas woman wasn't planning on two conceptions for the record books.

But that's what she got — along with two beautiful boys — when she gave birth to twins of different fathers nearly a year ago.

"Both of them have similar appetites. They like to play with their older brothers. They like to play with each other," Mia Washington told the TODAY show Thursday.

Talk about baby-papa drama.

How did it happen? Every month a woman's ovary releases one egg that can be fertilized by one sperm. But in this case, a pair of eggs emerged.

Sperm, meanwhile, can remain alive and well and viable for up to five days in the reproductive tract. Thus a woman can have sex with different men within those five days and the sperm “just kind of hang out there waiting for the egg to be released,” Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University, told Meredith Vieira on TODAY.

Washington, who just turned 20, admitted to her partner that she had sex with another man within that five-day window — hence, the double conception.

The mystery began to be solved when her partner, 44-year-old James Harrison, became concerned that Justin and Jordan, born only 7 minutes apart, looked so different. A paternity test followed.

When he discovered that Justin wasn’t his son, Harrison said, "I was hurt, torn apart — didn't know what the next move was gonna be," Harrison said in a taped NBC News segment.

Nonetheless, he's loved both boys the same since then. "I raised him [Justin] from a baby all the way to now. He knows me as his father, and I know him as my son," Harrison explained.

See the accompanying video, and read the rest, here.