Jennifer Margulis

Jefferson Monthly Contributor

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is a regular contributor to the Jefferson Monthly and a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on the cover of Smithsonian magazine. Her fifth book, The Business of Baby, has been called a "searing and well-researched exposé" and a "must read" by midwife and author Ina May Gaskin. She lives in Ashland, Oregon with her husband and four children.

Ways to Connect

Katy Warner via Wikimedia Commons

Tylenol is one of the most widely used painkillers across the United States. Its main ingredient, acetaminophen, is present in more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription medications. But several recent studies are bringing up new concerns about this familiar drug.

Jennifer Margulis/JPR

Oregon has one of the highest rates of home birth in the United States. These births are usually attended by state-licensed midwives. But some pregnant women and the midwives who care for them say that a state agency is unfairly --and maybe illegally-- denying low-income women access to home birth. 

Jennifer Margulis/JPR

Oregon midwives are licensed to deliver babies at home or at independent birth centers. The Oregon Health Plan covers midwifery services, so that low-income women can also have choices in childbirth.

But midwives say state health insurance is unfairly denying low-income women access to home birth, leading some women to deliver their babies with no medical assistance.

Jennifer Margulis/JPR

Of the more than 45,000 babies born in Oregon each year, nearly a third are delivered by Cesarean section. Yet studies show that surgical birth is riskier for the mother, and not as healthy for the baby, as vaginal birth.

Women who give birth out of hospital are much less likely to have C-sections. But low-income Oregonians and the midwives who care for them say that a state agency is unfairly blocking women from even trying for a vaginal birth. 


Some people—like my five-year-old—adore the holidays. Since we celebrate both Hanukah and Christmas in our house, Leone gets a winter two-for-one.

Presents! Treats! Snow forts! What’s not to love?

They’re everywhere. In your intestines, mouth, nose, all over your skin. We usually think of microbes as germs that make us sick. But a new exhibit in Ashland, Oregon teaches children and adults to embrace their germs.

“Do you know if this is lacto-fermented?” a woman asks me, sniffing the sauerkraut at the salad bar of the Ashland Food Co-op. “It smells like it.”

It’s eight a.m. and Betsy Hicks and her husband, John Hicks, M.D., a pediatrician in private practice in Los Gatos, California, are stopping in Ashland on their way to Portland to visit family.

The Medford Police Department

Lieutenant Kevin Walruff, 49, is a big, clean-shaven man wearing a light blue button-down and a Santa Claus and reindeer tie. I follow him down a hallway and into a conference room in the nondescript building of florescent lighting and concrete blocks that currently houses the Medford Police Department. I notice that he has handcuffs clipped to his pants and .40-caliber Glock holstered at his waist.

Steven Addington Photography

Cocktail dresses. Embroidered cowboy boots. Tight black mini skirts. Three-piece suits. The some 500 wine enthusiasts and foodies who came out for the 34th Annual Jefferson Public Radio Wine Tasting and Silent Auction at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel were looking good last night.

Susan Langston

Well, what I really want for Valentine’s Day is a trip to the Bahamas.

Jamaica, Hawaii, Costa Rica—those places would be fine too. But since the price of air travel seems to be going up—especially around the holidays—as gas prices are going down, local romance is a lot more affordable.

Jennifer Margulis

When my brother was getting a Master’s degree at U.C. Berkeley in the early 1990s he’d take road trips to Reno, Nevada every once in a while. After all, it was cheaper than Las Vegas, and a quicker drive. Zach would find himself a motel for 20 bucks a night and hit the casinos, playing low stakes Blackjack as an antidote to the pressure cooker of his graduate studies.

That’s long been my image of Reno: a mostly seedy, rather rundown adult playground where prostitution is legal, everybody smokes, and steak is the meat on every menu.

The air smells of pine and cold when I finally arrive in Joseph, a small town in the northeast corner of Oregon, at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon in late spring. The peaks of the mountains in the Eagle Cap Wilderness west of downtown shine with snow even though it’s warm enough in the valley that I don’t need a jacket. I do a happy dance after I park at the motel. It’s taken me two airplane rides (via Washington and Idaho), one car rental, and a two-and-a-half-hour drive south from the airport in Lewiston, Idaho to get here from the western part of the state.

Mary Landberg

On a sunny day last March over a hundred mostly gray-haired people file into an auditorium at Asante’s Smullin Health Education Center in Medford. A large screen behind the stage projects the afternoon’s agenda: HAVING THE CONVERSATION. On stage are two empty armchairs, violet with pale blue dots, a white rug, and a hospital gurney. On the gurney lies a manikin, its hairless head resting incongruously against a flowered pillow. For some reason I find this detail heartbreaking.