Saturday, December 4, 2010
From NBC LA:
If you're flying from Los Angeles to New Zealand, you could soon be traveling much more comfortably.
Air New Zealand will offer customers the chance to purchase seats that can turn into couches or beds.
According to Air New Zealand's website, these new seats, called "Skycouches," will be perfect for couples who want some extra room, or families with small children.
The Skycouch is a trio of three economy seats that together create a flexible space for whatever you want it to be -- an area to relax and stretch out in, or for the kids to use as a play area. It's like having your very own couch on the plane.
Read more here.
Friday, December 3, 2010
While age is key in a woman's odds of conceiving, whether naturally or via assisted reproduction, there is no consistent evidence that a man's age affects the chances of success with infertility treatment, a new research review finds.
In an analysis of 10 studies mostly conducted in the past decade, Israeli researchers found that most of the studies showed no clear relationship between men's age and couples' odds of success with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Both IVF and ICSI involve joining a woman's egg and a man's sperm in a lab dish, then—if fertilization is successful— transferring one or more embryos to the woman's uterus. ICSI is typically used for male fertility problems, including a low sperm count or poor sperm quality. It involves isolating a single sperm and injecting it directly into the egg.
It's known that women's fertility declines after age 35, and drops sharply after about age 40. And the odds of having a baby through assisted reproduction show a similar decrease.
Men are capable of fathering a child even into their golden years. However, studies have indicated that they do have a biological clock of sorts. Sperm quality, research suggests, may decline after age 40, and so too may the chances of having a baby; one study, for example, found that when the man was older than 40, a couple's risk of miscarriage was higher compared with couples in which the man was younger.
However, only a handful of studies have looked at the relationship between men's age and fertility-treatment outcomes.
For the new review, reported in the journal Fertility and Sterility, Dr. Lena Dain and colleagues at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, Israel, pulled together 10 international studies that have looked at the question. Each involved anywhere from about 200 to 2,000 couples who underwent fertility treatment.
Overall, the researchers found, most of the studies failed to find an association between men's age and sperm quality, the odds of couples' conceiving or the chances of ultimately having a baby.
Read more here.
Researchers studied the changes among a group of 1400 people from Finland—starting from when they were all aged 50 or so, then again 20 years later—and reported the results in the British Medical Journal. They found that the individuals with the greatest risk for Alzheimer’s disease were those who were widowed or divorced at midlife and remained so. Being single at midlife was also a risk factor.
Read more here.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Illinois legislation passed yesterday will make civil unions possible effective June 1, 2011:
Illinois next year will become the 11th state to sanction same-sex couples, after the Legislature's passage Wednesday of a "civil union" bill that supporters say is a landmark human rights advancement and opponents say is an attack on traditional marriage.
The law will take effect June 1, after it's signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn, a vocal supporter.
Its passage, after years of debate, spawned political and religious showdowns around Illinois Wednesday — including a rare public tiff between the governor's office and the Catholic Church.
The bill specifies that it doesn't create a new class of marriage. But it will allow unrelated adults, regardless of gender, to share "the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections, and benefits as are afforded or recognized by the law of Illinois to spouses."
Among the practical applications will be the same health insurance rights for partners as those now extended to spouses; the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner; and estate and property rights after the death of a partner or dissolution of a relationship.
The bill passed the Senate 32-24-1 after passing the House by a one-vote margin a day before.
Read more here.
Following the discovery of more than 2,000 aborted fetuses at a temple crematorium in Bangkok last week, Thai police have promised a crackdown on clinics performing illegal abortions, already arresting one abortion practitioner and investigating several clinics. The nascent crackdown immediately sparked criticism from reproductive-rights activists, who say it will force poor women into even more illicit and unsafe conditions if they choose to end a pregnancy in Thailand, where most abortions are illegal.
Police, who were called to the Phai Ngern Chotanaram Buddhist temple in Bangkok last Tuesday after neighbors complained of a foul odor, initially discovered 348 fetus remains wrapped in small plastic bags. After arresting an undertaker and a health-clinic worker, over 1,500 more fetuses were found on Thursday. According to the English-language Bangkok Post, the undertaker told police the temple's crematorium had broken down a month ago, and so the fetuses had not been burned. The gruesome discovery shocked the temple's neighbors and government officials. Police pledged to shut down clinics providing abortions illegally and on Thursday arrested a woman whom they accused of performing abortions and delivering the fetuses to the temple for cremation. She said she had transported the fetuses from several clinics, and claimed that models and actresses were among her clients.
Though abortion is still illegal in Thailand, there are exceptions in cases of rape, incest, a threat to the mother's physical or psychological health or if the mother is underage. Nonetheless, according to Professor Kamheang Chaturachinda, president of the Women's Health and Reproductive Rights Foundation of Thailand, some estimates say 300,000 to 400,000 abortions are performed each year in the nation of 67 million people, and because most are performed in illicit circumstances, they are unsafe, he says.
Read more here.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Luojia Hu (Institute for the Study of Labor) & Analia Schlosser (Tel Aviv University) have posted "Does Sex-Selective Abortion Improve Girls’ Well-Being? Evidence from India" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The paper studies the impact of prenatal sex selection on the well‐being of girls by analyzing changes in children’s nutritional status and mortality during the years since the diffusion of sex-selective abortion in India. We use the ratio of male to female births in the year and state in which a child was born as a proxy for parental access to prenatal sex‐selection. Using repeated cross-sections from a rich survey dataset, we show that high sex ratios at birth reflect the practice of sex-selective abortion. We then exploit the large regional and time variations in the incidence of sex-selective abortion to analyze whether changes in girls’ outcomes relative to boys within states and over time are associated with changes in sex‐ratios at birth. We find that an increase in the practice of sex‐selective abortion appears to be associated with a reduction in the incidence of malnutrition among girls. The negative association is stronger for girls born in rural households and at higher birth parities. We find no evidence that sex‐selective abortion leads to a selection of girls into families of higher SES, however we do find some evidence of a larger reduction in family size for girls relative to boys. We also find some suggestive evidence of better treatment of girls as reflected in breastfeeding duration. On the other hand, sex‐selective abortion does not appear to be associated with a reduction in excess female child mortality.
After about an hour of discussion, the Illinois House on Tuesday evening approved legislation legalizing civil unions.
The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act -- SB1716 -- passed 61 to 52. The Senate is expected to also pass the bill and Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would sign it.
Read more here.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Ronald Steiner (Chapman) has posted "A Commentary on the Old Saw that Same-Sex Marriage Threatens Civilization" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Discussions of same-sex marriage frequently entertain the notion that civilization is somehow at stake were a society to award legal sanction to it, and to gay rights more generally. Typically, those who express concern for negative civilizational consequences have in mind Western civilization, and more specifically Christian civilization. This civilizational concern will often be amplified by the implication that opposite-sex, or opposite-sex monogamous marriage is a timeless human universal. Any other marital regime is presumed to be an aberration, most likely the result of grave moral depravity of a sort supposedly facilitated by the modern rights-based society. This chapter subjects these civilizational concerns to empirically review and provides counterexamples to any claims regarding hegemonic and universal norms against same-sex relationships and homosexuality more generally. In light of that empirical survey, the chapter suggests that western civilization, and modern liberal-democracies in particular, are realizing their core moral and political values of equality and respect for the dignity of each individual human being when they extend legal recognition to same-sex couples, rather than reject or denounce their claims to full inclusion.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Gavin Jones (National University of Singapore) has posted "Changing Marriage Patterns in Asia" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This paper provides an overview of changing marriage patterns in East, South and Southeast Asia. It begins by relating marriage patterns to kinship systems. Differences in kinship systems go a long way towards explaining differences in marriage arrangements and stability of marriages in different parts of Asia, and also the greater resilience of the system of arranged marriage in South Asia than in East and Southeast Asia.The paper then examines the trend toward later and less marriage throughout Asia. This has been particularly marked in East and Southeast Asia, with the important exception of China, and especially in the large cities of the region and among highly educated women. It has shown no signs of slackening;in countries such as Japan, Taiwan and Myanmar, about 20 per cent of women currently in their 20s and 30s could well remain single when they reach their late 40s. Social norms and community and family structures have not yet adapted fully to this remarkable increase in singlehood. Yet at the same time, many young women in some Asian countries are still marrying as teenagers, in many cases below the legal minimum age for marriage. An important set of issues arises from such early marriage patterns.
Consanguineous marriage has been widely practiced in some Asian countries. In some countries, it is on the decline,but in others (including Pakistan and Iran) there is little evidence of such a decline.
Finally, the paper examines divorce trends. Divorce rates have been rising sharply in many Asian countries, particularly in East Asia, as a result of the strains on marriage and an erosion of the belief that marriages must be preserved at all costs. However, divorce rates remain very low in South Asian countries, where the marriage system does not allow for the “escape route” of divorce, even for dysfunctional marriages.
Leslie Harris (Oregon) has posted "Failure to Protect from Exposure to Domestic Violence in Private Custody Contests" (44 Family Law Quarterly 169) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require courts to consider domestic violence committed by one parent against the other in resolving a custody or visitation dispute between the parents. A significant number of states also have statutes or case law that requires courts to consider the occurrence of violence in a child’s household or proposed household in resolving such disputes, regardless of who commits the violence or at whom it is directed. This kind of law may be used against a parent, often a victim, who fails to protect a child from being exposed to the violence. This article examines and critiques these laws in light of how this issue is handled in juvenile court child protective proceedings. In the child welfare context, widely-accepted reforms promote leaving children with their mothers who have been battered and offering services to these mothers to help them escape from the violence. The paper argues that the lessons and techniques from the child welfare system can and should be brought to bear in private custody disputes involving claims of exposure to domestic violence.
A new theory is being set forth by some of those researching the economics of the family. From The New York Times:
In light of these changes, we suggest that economists need to develop a new — dare we say post-Beckerian? — model of the family:
So what drives modern marriage? We believe that the answer lies in a shift from the family as a forum for shared production to shared consumption. In case the language of economic lacks romance, let’s be clearer: modern marriage is about love and companionship. Most things in life are simply better shared with another. … The key today is consumption complementarities — activities that are not only enjoyable, but are more enjoyable when shared with a spouse. We call this new model of sharing our lives “hedonic marriage.”
Read more here.
Hat Tip: SH