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On January 17th 2014, Catherine Eagles, a federal judge for the Middle District of North Carolina, struck down as unconstitutional a portion of North Carolina’s 2011 Women’s Right to Know Act. The portion in question would have required abortion providers in the state to perform an ultrasound and display and describe the images presented to every woman seeking an …

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Tolerance

“Tolerance” never made it into Raymond Williams’ Keywords, a rare mistake: it should have been a tempting subject for his critical sensibility.[1] By the late-eighteenth century, the word often had come to substitute in English for the older “toleration,” meaning forbearance, patience, and indulgence of the opinions of others. Later, physiologists took up its connotation of the endurance …

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Spray

Adéline chided me for going all the way to town to buy a “natural” mosquito spray that—while hardly effective—I continued to slather on my body every time we jogged the wooded paths of the Forêt Vatable in Martinique. She had gotten used to my declining to borrow her Pyramid brand “Repel 100,” a 100% deet formulation that she swore by, …

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Scale

Guatemala, 2013.

Someone had drawn two footprints on green construction paper and taped it to the back of a box of cornflakes to show patients how to stand. In one corner the person had written out the word Nutrición; in another, perhaps because the impending task was at once ridiculous and frightening, the person had placed a sticker of the …

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Heart

Recently the Minister of Health of Trinidad and Tobago explained the problem of chronic disease in the country: “The population do not listen to the message we are sending out – love yourself, eat right, exercise and decrease your sugar and salt intake.”[i]  The exhortation to “love yourself” in a disciplined approach to health suggests the curious place of …

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Anesthesia

Every sensation is a question, even if the only answer is silence. [i]

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari

 

 

When Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. delivered his introductory lecture on anatomy and physiology to students at the Massachusetts Medical College in the fall of 1847, he noted that for the patient, thanks to ether, “the fierce extremity of suffering has …

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