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In India, All Women Have The Right To Safe And Legal Abortions | The Optimist Daily




Shot of two young women drinking coffee while sitting together at home.

Women’s rights advocates applauded the Supreme Court of India’s judgment, which stated that a woman’s lack of marital status could not restrict her ability to choose to terminate a pregnancy at any time up to 24 weeks.

The historic Roe v. Wade ruling, which had legalized the operation in the US, was overruled by the US Supreme Court in June, igniting a global debate on the right to abortion.

According to India’s Supreme Court Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, “Even an unmarried woman can undergo abortion up to 24 weeks on par with married women,” stating that a woman’s marital status could not deny her of the right.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which dates back to 1971, had only allowed married women, divorcees, widows, minors, “disabled and mentally ill women,” and survivors of sexual assault or rape to have the procedure.

The top court also said that under the MTP statute, sexual assault committed by husbands might be referred to as “marital rape.” Although there are efforts to change this, marital rape is not considered a crime under Indian law.

According to the court, forced pregnancy in married women qualifies as marital rape for abortion purposes.

The ruling last Thursday was in response to a petition from a 25-year-old woman who said her pregnancy was the consequence of a consenting relationship but that she had tried to get an abortion when the relationship failed.

A tremendous stride ahead for women’s rights

According to advocates, the decision represents a turning point for Indian women’s rights. Parliamentarian Mahua Moitra tweeted that it was “A tremendous stride ahead.”

Karuna Nundy, a gender law expert and Supreme Court attorney, referred to the ruling as a milestone decision, telling Al Jazeera: “I think in a world where the US is moving backwards and failing to recognize women’s right to their own bodies, this judgment is based on the privacy of the body and non-discrimination between married, and unmarried, separated or divorced women. It recognizes all these rights in constitutional and affirmative terms.”

Karuna Nundy also tweeted: “In an era that includes Dobbs vs. Jackson and makes distinctions between the marital status of women who are raped – this excellent judgment on abortion under the MTP Act hits it out of the park.”

The decision would have a significant impact on how women’s rights are viewed under the Indian constitution, according to Aparna Chandra, a professor at the National Law School in Bengaluru who is interested in reproductive justice.

As Chandra put it: “This is a very important judgment not for the specific issue before the court but also broadly for women’s rights. The women around the world are fighting for their rights. Any decision of this sort has ramifications not only within India but also across the world.”

The post In India, all women have the right to safe and legal abortions first appeared on The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News.


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New Radioactive Implant Attacks Cancer Tumors With Remarkable Success | The Optimist Daily





3d rendered medically accurate illustration of pancreas cancer

Engineers at Duke University created a promising novel cancer treatment delivery system and demonstrated its efficacy against one of the disease’s most complex forms. The scientists demonstrated how a radioactive implant could completely eliminate tumors in the majority of rodents in newly published research. The study looks at mice with pancreatic cancer, and shows what the researchers claim is the most effective treatment ever studied in these pre-clinical models.

The trouble with pancreatic cancer

Due to the pancreatic cancer tumor cells’ high evasiveness and abundance of mutations (rendering them resistant to many medications), it is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Although it accounts for only 3.2 percent of all cancers, it is the third leading cause of cancer death. One approach is to use chemotherapy to keep the tumor cells in a vulnerable state to radiation and then hit the tumor with a targeted radiation beam.

However, doing so in a way that attacks the tumor while avoiding exposing the patient to high doses of radiation is a fine line to walk. Plus, this method increases the risk of severe side effects. Another approach being researched is the use of implants that can be placed directly inside the tumor to attack it from within with radioactive materials. They have made some progress by encasing radioactive samples in titanium shells, but these can cause damage to the surrounding tissue.

“There’s just no good way to treat pancreatic cancer right now,” study author Jeff Schaal said.

Attacking tumors from the inside out

Schaal and his colleagues investigated a different type of implant, one made of more biocompatible materials that would not pose the same risks to the human body. The researchers used elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs), which are synthetic chains of amino acids that remain liquid at room temperature but form a stable gel-like material in the warmer environment of the body.

This substance was injected into tumors in various pancreatic cancer mouse models, along with a radioactive element called iodine-131, a well-studied and widely used isotope in medical treatment. In this environment, the ELP encapsulates the iodine-131, preventing it from leaking into the body while allowing it to emit beta radiation that penetrates the tumor. When the radiation is exhausted, the ELP bio gel safely degrades into innocuous amino acids.

The treatment was tested in conjunction with paclitaxel, a common chemotherapy drug. The radioactive implants were injected into cancer tumors just beneath the skin, but with mutations known to occur in pancreatic cancer, as well as tumors within the pancreas itself, which historically are more difficult to treat.

The scientists report a 100 percent response rate to the treatment across all models tested. The dual treatment completely eliminated the tumors 80 percent of the time in three-quarters of the models. The researchers used the novel treatment against pancreatic cancer to investigate its potential against one of the disease’s most difficult forms, but they believe the results bode well for its wider application.

“We think the constant radiation allows the drugs to interact with its effects more strongly than external beam therapy allows,” Schaal explained. “That makes us think that this approach might actually work better than external beam therapy for many other cancers, too.”

Next steps

There is a lot to work out before this treatment can be administered to humans, with trials on larger animals being the researchers’ immediate next step. They do claim that these findings are unprecedented in terms of how effectively the treatment disintegrated the tumors, with team member Ashutosh Chilkoti calling them “perhaps the most exciting” results against late-stage pancreatic cancer his lab has produced in nearly 20 years.

Source study: Nature Biomedical Engineering— Brachytherapy via depot of biopsymer-bound 131I synergies with nanoparticle paclitaxel in therapy-resistant pancreatic tumors

The post New radioactive implant attacks cancer tumors with remarkable success first appeared on The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News.

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