October 23, 2010
Chimps & Human Fertility
The Atlantic recently ran a story about the hardships of collecting chimp sperm, but its high promise of providing answers to questions like: “Do the different sugars on the surfaces of chimp and human sperm impact fertility?” Furthermore, “Perhaps the differences between chimp and human sperm can help explain why humans miscarry nearly 50 percent of all conceptions, while chimps seem rarely to lose an embryo or fetus.”
Read the article here.
October 22, 2010
Katz: "'Wife Beating' and 'Uninvited Kisses' in the Supreme Court and Society in the Early Twentieth Century"
Elizabeth Katz (USDC Maryland) has posted "'Wife Beating' and 'Uninvited Kisses' in the Supreme Court and Society in the Early Twentieth Century" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This paper challenges the conventional narrative that domestic violence victims were ignored by both law and society in the early 1900s. It begins by questioning the dominant position a single Supreme Court tort case, Thompson v. Thompson, holds in the domestic violence discourse. Far from being a strong or unified statement in favor of family privacy or against battered women’s legal rights, the case was decided by a four-Justice majority that pointed victims toward two very public alternative remedies: divorces with alimony and criminal prosecutions. The paper then proceeds to evaluate whether these proffered remedies were available and sufficient. It first concludes that divorce with alimony was a real option but suggests that social and legal impediments made divorce an inferior remedy as compared to tort. It then documents that wife beaters were charged and convicted in criminal courts but details perceived inadequacies of the criminal sanctions. It therefore concludes that the Justices must have been aware that their suggested remedies had shortcomings that could have been addressed by providing a third alternative: interspousal tort suits. The final part of this paper therefore addresses the question of why judges, knowing that divorce and criminal suits had shortcomings, nevertheless refused to allow tort suits. It argues that judges refused to allow interspousal torts for personal harms in part because they worried it would lead to tort suits for marital rape. Such an outcome was unacceptable because sex was seen a marital duty at the time and because awarding damages to wives for unwanted sexual intercourse would make marriage look uncomfortably similar to prostitution.
Cheating Death & Marriage
From Fox News:
Yonni Barrios hit headlines last week not only because he was one of 33 men rescued after 69 death-defying days trapped in a collapsed mine in Chile, but because he requested both his wife of 28 years and his (gasp!) mistress be there greet him on the completion of his ascent.
But while his marriage might be on the wane these days (his wife refused to greet him), Barrios’s bank account may get quite a big boost as a result of his wandering ways.
Pop Tarts has learned exclusively that on Monday, controversial website AshleyMadison.com, which provides an online dating service to those looking to have extramarital affairs, is offering the Chilean miner a $100,000 endorsement deal to be the Spanish speaking spokesperson for the site.
Read more here.
October 21, 2010
Marriage License Application Uncovers Family Secret
From the Associated Press:
Melissa Reed was a proud fiancee applying for what she thought was a routine marriage license two weeks ago when she learned a stunning secret: She had been abducted as a child and living under an assumed name.
The woman was actually a former New Jersey girl named Eva Marie Fiedler who was 6 years old when she disappeared with her mother during a bitter child custody battle. The mother, Nancy Dunsavage, says she fled with her daughter and changed their names to save them from an abusive father.
The mother lived with the secret for all these years, but confessed to the double life when her 32-year-old daughter couldn't get a marriage license because she lacked proper identification. She couldn't bear to keep the secret any longer, knowing that she had deprived her daughter of a chance to get married.
"The wedding is set, the guests are committed and she cannot get a marriage license because she has no photo ID," said Dunsavage, also known as Debbie Reed. "This has brought me to the realization that we cannot continue living like this."
The discovery touched off a bizarre chain of events that has landed her 57-year-old mother in jail in Reno on a 1985 fugitive warrant out of New Jersey. Prosecutors in New Jersey want to bring her there to face charges in what they consider a parental abduction.
Details of the secret life the daughter apparently never knew she had began to emerge this week in newly unsealed court documents.
Read more here.
Davis: "The Game of Love: Polygamy, Default Rules, and Bargaining for Equality"
Adrienne D. Davis (Washington U. School of Law) has recently posted The Game of Love: Polygamy, Default Rules, and Bargaining for Equality on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Most legal scholarship about polygamy has approached it in one of two ways. Some have framed it as a question of how far constitutional protection for religious freedom and privacy rights extends, including what we might think of as “intimacy liberty,” particularly in light of Lawrence v. Texas. Others have debated decriminalization, based on the contested effects of polygamy on matters ranging from women’s subordination to fraudulent behavior to democracy. This Essay shifts attention from the constitutionality and decriminalization debates to a new set of questions: whether and how polygamy might be effectively recognized and regulated, consistent with contemporary social norms. It argues that the gay marriage analogy, invoked on both the “left” and the “right,” is a red herring, a distraction from the real challenge polygamy raises for law - how plural marriage transforms the conventional marital dyad and whether law is up to regulating marital multiplicity. Both of the gay analogies, the slippery slope invocation and the alternative lifestyles defense, distract us from the fact that polygamy’s distinctive feature lies not in the spouses’ gender (as is the case for same-sex couples marriage) but rather in its departures from the two-person marital model. Polygamy’s defining feature, marital multiplicity, generates specific costs and vulnerabilities, as well as opportunities for exploitative and opportunistic behavior, some of which we have seen played out in distressing fashion in recent high-profile conflicts. Hence, this paper approaches polygamy as a problem of bargaining, cooperation, strategic behavior, and, forgive the pun, the problems it engenders. No one, including others who have considered polygamy from a bargaining perspective such as Gary Becker and Richard Posner, has confronted polygamy as a regulatory matter, instead assuming it is merely dyadic marriage multiplied. Is the law up to regulating marital multiplicity? This Essay contends that, in contemplating the design of a plural marriage regime, we are not starting from scratch. While conventional family law, with its assumptions of the marital dyad, may not be up to the task, other legal regimes have addressed polygamy’s central conundrum: ensuring fairness and establishing baseline behavior in contexts characterized by multiple partners, on-going entrances and exits, and life-defining economic and personal stakes. In particular, commercial partnership law has addressed precisely these concerns through a robust set of off-the-rack rules. The Essay contrasts polygamy with aspects of partnership law to derive a set of default rules that might accommodate polygamy’s marital multiplicity, while addressing some of the costs and power disparities that polygamy has engendered. The point is not to use partnership law as a “map,” but rather to make the point that there are already conceptual models for what might be thought of as plural marital associations.
October 20, 2010
Caceres-Delpiano & Giolito: "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime"
Julio Caceres-Delpiano (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) & Eugenio Giolito (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Institute for the Study of Labor) have posted "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Using data from the FBI´s Uniform Crime Report program and differences in the timing of the reform’s introduction, we find that unilateral divorce increases violent crime rates by approximately 9 percent during the period under analysis. Arrest data shows an average increase of 18% for murder and 20% for aggravated assault arrest rates over the period 1965-1997. Then, using age at the time of the reform as an additional source of variation, our findings suggest that the impact of unilateral divorce is driven by cohorts of young adults who were children at the time of the reform. These results are robust to a specification that controls for confounding factors that .may operate at the state-year level. We find consistent results on the impact of the reform on the likelihood of an individual being institutionalized, using Census data for the period 1960-2000. We argue that the main channel behind our findings is the increase in poverty and inequality among families which were “surprised” by the reform. Specifically, we show that mothers in adopting states are more likely to be the household head and to fall below the poverty line, especially those with lower levels of education.
In an editorial, one divorcing father in London laments the favoritism in family law towards the mother. Read it here.
October 19, 2010
Bacarra, et. al: "Child-Adoption Matching: Preferences for Gender and Race"
Mariagiovanna Bacarra (Washington University Saint Louis), Allan Collard-Wexler (NYU School of Business), Leonardo Fellis (London School of Economics) & Leeat Yariv (California Institute of Technology) have posted "Child-Adoption Matching: Preferences for Gender and Race" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This paper uses a new data set on child-adoption matching to document the preferences of potential adoptive parents over U.S.-born and unborn children relinquished for adoption by their birth mothers. We show that adoptive parents exhibit significant preferences in favor of girls and against African- American children. A non-African-American child relinquished for adoption attracts the interest of potential adoptive parents with probability 11.5% if it is a girl and 7.9% if it is a boy. As for race, a non-African-American child has a probability of attracting the interest of an adopting parent at least seven times as high as the corresponding probability for an African-American child. In addition, we show that a child’s desirability in the adoption process depends significantly on time to birth (increasing over the pregnancy, but decreasing after birth) and on adoption costs. We also document the attitudes toward children’ characteristics across different categories of adoptive parents – heterosexual and same-sex couples, as well as single women and foreign couples. Finally, we consider several recently discussed policies excluding same-sex and foreign couples from the adoption process. In our data, such policies would reduce the number of adopted children by 6% and 33%, respectively, and have a disproportionate effect on African-American children.
How Many Lawyers Does It Take to Handle a Child Support Case?
Maybe 40? From Peace FM Online:
Oksana Grigorieva showed up to court this morning for a hearing in her child support case with Mel Gibson -- and wouldn't you know it ... she has a new lawyer!
The new man in Oksana's life is Mitchell Jacobs -- a family law attorney who has been a Board Certified Family Law Specialist since 1986.
We're told Jacobs was brought in because today's hearing involves a certain technicality and they reached out to Jacobs because he's a family law specialist.
Sources say it is unclear whether Jacobs will remain on full-time.
As we first reported, Oksana has used 39 different lawyers so far in her child support case with Mel Gibson. The latest point of contention -- whether the judge's ruling that Mel has to amp up his child support payments to $20,000/month includes the housing payments Mel has been making.
As the old saying goes, 40th time is a charm.
Read more here.
October 18, 2010
Call for Papers: Feminism, The University and Society
CALL FOR PAPERS AND SAVE THE DATE
FEMINISM, THE UNIVERSITY AND SOCIETY
DATE: MARCH 11 &12, 2011
LOCATION: UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN, DUBLIN 4, IRELAND
COME JOIN US IN DUBLIN, IRELAND AS FEMINISTS MEET TO DISCUSS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY AND SOCIAL CHANGE. WE WILL EXPLORE THE METHODS USED BY FEMINIST ADVOCATES AND ACADEMICS TO REACH ACROSS BOUNDARIES CONSTRUCTED BY REGION, PROFESSION AND AT TIMES IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE. THE CONFERENCE WILL INTERROGATE HOW SCHOLARSHIP, CLINICAL INTERVENTIONS, AND ACADEMIC-NGO COLLABORATION HAS THE CAPACITY TO GENERATE SOCIAL CHANGE IN SUCH AREAS AS HUMAN RIGHTS, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE, THE FAMILY AND THE WORKPLACE.
Online registration will be available from December 2010 @ http://www.ucd.ie/socialjustice/
100 euro/full-time academics
50 euro/staff of civil society organisations
15 euro/students and unwaged persons
WE ARE INVITING PEOPLE TO SUBMIT PROPOSALS FOR INDIVIDUAL PAPERS OR PANELS WITH THREE PRESENTERS CONSTRUCTED AROUND A CHOSEN THEME. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN PRESENTING PLEASE FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS:
PRESENTERS FROM THE US & CANADA:
SEND A SHORT PROPOSAL TO PROFESSOR KRIS MICCIO AT firstname.lastname@example.org no later than December 15, 2010
PRESENTERS FROM OTHER REGIONS:
SEND A SHORT PROPOSAL TO JUDY WALSH AT email@example.com no later than December 15, 2010.
PROPOSALS SHOULD CONTAIN THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION
SPECIALITY AREA E.g. REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE
MEDIUM: E.g. SCHOLARSHIP, INTERVENTIONS IN CAUSES AND CAMPAIGNS (FOR EXAMPLE FILING OF BRIEFS)
PANELISTS (IF APPLICABLE): NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION OF ALL THREE PANELLISTS
TITLE OF PANEL:
Please take into account that all panels will use a discussion format. Therefore we are looking for short papers that are designed to initiate a dialogue with all participants.
Conference sponsored by: School of Social Justice, University College Dublin - The Sturm College of Law, University of Denver-Whittier Law School, California-The Irish Fulbright Commission.
The “Cheats’ Charter”
This summer, the Court of Appeal in London ruled that, in divorce proceedings, it was an invasion of privacy for documents or emails obtained by stealth to be admitted as evidence because it was an invasion of privacy. The judgment has been called a “cheats’ charter” by divorce lawyers. Read the court’s opinion here and news coverage here and here.
October 17, 2010
The Definition of Pregnancy
Interesting opinion piece on defining pregnancy from The Public Discourse:
Liberals and conservatives sometimes spar over the definition of pregnancy. Some liberals define the term as meaning the period from implantation of an embryo in a mother’s womb forward. Conservatives often define it as beginning at the point of conception. Quite a lot can seem to depend on the definition, since it can seem natural to think that a contraceptive, for example, works by preventing pregnancy, and an abortion by disrupting it. Thus, if pregnancy is not initiated until implantation, and an abortion disrupts pregnancy, then drugs that prevent implantation would be considered contraceptive, and not abortifacient. Conservatives rightly resist this claim, and do so by contesting the meaning of pregnancy.
But a better strategy might be to accept the liberal definition of pregnancy, but reject the conclusions that purportedly follow from it. On three issues—contraception, abortion, and embryo-adoption—I’ll argue that the liberal definition of pregnancy can actually help clarify what sound morality demands.
There are, after all, plausible reasons to think the liberal definition sound....
But why do liberal proponents of this definition think that it has consequences for understanding the difference between contraception and abortion? The answer, it seems, lies primarily in their misunderstanding of the nature of contraception. For contraception is not a practice whose purpose is the prevention of pregnancy, but a practice whose purpose is the prevention of the conception of a new human being. Consider: someone who prevents an embryonic human being from being implanted in a woman after IVF is not reasonably thought to be contracepting. Someone contracepts only if they intend to prevent a human being from coming into existence—they act contra-conception.
So the questions surrounding whether the so-called “week-after pill” Ella—or the contraceptive pill, or an IUD—operates only as a contraceptive really has very little to do with pregnancy. The real question is whether they work exclusively by preventing possible human beings from coming into existence, or whether they ever work by making it impossible for already existing human beings to continue to exist. If they do the latter, they are not exclusively contraceptive.
What about abortion: is it not a disruption of pregnancy? Interfering with the life of a not yet implanted embryo usually takes the life of that embryo, yet it does not, if we accept the liberal definition of pregnancy, terminate a pregnancy. Does this make it difficult to say that drugs or devices that take the life of a pre-implantation embryo are abortifacient? One approach to the question of what abortion is might say yes.
This approach identifies abortion, or direct abortion, precisely as the intentional ending of pregnancy. But even apart from the question of how pregnancy is to be defined, this is a bad definition of abortion. Ending a pregnancy seems neither necessary nor sufficient for a procedure to be an abortion. Not necessary, because an embryo or fetus could be removed from the mother, thus ending the pregnancy, precisely to save the child’s life, if, for example, the mother was incapable of sustaining the child in the womb. Not sufficient because an embryo or fetus could be aborted without the mother’s pregnancy ending. This, sadly, is what happens when mothers undergo “selective reduction” of embryos when they are carrying multiple children. These mothers abort, but remain pregnant.
It seems more plausible to think that abortion causes the death of an unborn child, and that a “direct” abortion is an intentional killing of the unborn child. Not only does such a definition avoid the problem cases just mentioned, it draws attention to what is wrong with abortion in a way that the “ending of a pregnancy” definition does not. For while ending a pregnancy is, just as such, a serious matter—under most circumstances, mothers surely owe it to their unborn children to provide them with a uterine home until birth—the wrong of direct abortion is, more specifically, the wrong of intentionally killing one’s unborn child, not the wrong of expelling it from the womb.
Moreover, the distinction allows one to acknowledge that there might be cases in which only the ending of pregnancy was intended, and not the death of the child. Would this justify ending a pregnancy if the intention was not to kill? In almost every imaginable case, no: For to accept the death of one’s own child as a side effect of ending one’s pregnancy is unjust in every circumstance except when otherwise both the mother and child will certainly die. So while direct abortions are always wrong on this account, indirect abortions—the kind that are a result of ending pregnancy—are also wrong in the overwhelming majority of cases. Moreover, it would seem reasonable to adopt, as a convention, the practice of referring to all procedures that take the life of an unborn human being, whether intentionally, or indirectly but unjustly, simply as “abortions”: it would then be fair to say that all abortions are morally impermissible.
Read more here.