Texan women seek dangerous abortion drugs in Mexico

Plus India buys $7 billion of Appalachian coal, Korean-Americans won't get tested for HIV/AIDS and Canadians invade American Costcos

By Nicholas Nehamas

A four dimensional ultrasound at a pregnancy clinic in Texas. State law mandates that women must have an ultrasound at least twenty-four hours before an abortion. They must also listen to a doctor describe the fetus. (Reuters)

Out with the old, in with the new. In today’s globalized world, the distinction between “domestic” and “international” reporting isn’t as relevant as it used to be. News doesn’t stop at the border any more – and neither do people or ideas. Events in distant countries can change lives in America, and help us understand how to deal with local problems. Every Monday morning, Latitude News brings you a round-up of headlines from across the U.S. that drive that point home.

  • In Texas, state budget cuts and legal restrictions have made abortions harder to come by. Now, more and more women are heading across the border to Mexico, where pharmacies stock the pregnancy-terminating drug Misoprostol in large quantities. But Misoprostol is actually designed as an ulcer treatment, and the Mexican pharmacists behind the counter often have little training in medicine and don’t know how to prescribe the proper dosage. “It sells. That’s the problem,” says one pharmacist in Nuevo Progresso, Mexico. “But I won’t tell them how to take it. I just say, ‘You might have problems later.'” (Texas Tribune)
  • America’s appetite for coal might be declining, but in developing nations like India and China they just can’t get enough of the stuff, greenhouses gases be damned. Last week Appalachian coal producers signed a whopping $7 billion dollar deal with India. Every year for the next quarter century, 9 million tons of Appalachian coal will be shipped across the Pacific to India. It’s a boon for the struggling economies of coal-rich states like Kentucky and West Virginia. Cheap natural gas, a warm winter and President Obama’s preference for clean energy sources like wind have all hurt the coal industry. No matter what happens at home, can the United States really hope to have a positive impact on climate change if we’re sending our coal to be burned in other countries? (Charleston Daily Mail) And for an alternative view of how we should calculate how much carbon we produce see our Latitude News exclusive “America’s and the West’s dirty little secret.”
  • HIV/AIDS rates are rising in Asian-American communities across the country. But only 30 percent of Asian-Americans have been tested, compared to 36 percent of Latinos and 50 percent of African-Americans. The problem is particularly severe among Korean-Americans, the result, in part, of a cultural stigma against the disease. Many Koreans, both in their native country and in America, consider AIDS to be a foreign problem that mainly affects homosexuals. “Asians don’t have HIV,” is a common refrain, says a worker at an Asian community center in Atlanta that offers testing. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates an Asian woman is twenty times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS than a white one. (KoreAm Magazine)
  • The Canadians are invading! Not really but it sure feels that way to some people in Bellingham, Washington. This town of 80,000 is closer to Vancouver than Seattle, and residents say that Canadian shoppers have been streaming across the border to the Bellingham Costco, where essentials like gas and milk are significantly cheaper than they are in British Columbia. That means longer lines, fewer parking spaces and larger crowds for angry American shoppers, one of whom started a Facebook page demanding “American-only” hours at the store. The page attracted 4,600 likes and a variety of rants before being shut down by its administrator for being too negative and divisive. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
  • Critics of a Pennsylvania voter ID law meant to prevent fraud say the legislation will have an unfair impact on Puerto Ricans. In 2010, the government of Puerto Rico passed a law invalidating all birth certificates issued before that year, leaving many Puerto Ricans in the United States in a tough spot as they try to register for the November elections. “If you’re a Puerto Rican voter and you already have a photo ID, then you’re okay,” says an activist with a group that unsuccessfully challenged the law in court. “But if you are trying to get a birth certificate just to get a photo ID but you don’t have a photo ID to get it, then you’re in a typical Catch-22 situation.” (U.S. News and World Report)