Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Study on Abortion

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has published a study in Obstetrics & Gynecology.  The study, published on Thursday, October 4, enrolled 9,256 women ages 14-45 from the St. Louis region into the Contraceptive Choice Project between August 2007 and September 2011.  Many of the women were poor, uninsured, had a low education, and had a previous unintended pregnancy; they were either not using a "reversible" contraception method or were wanting to switch to a new one.  After being provided free, FDA-approved birth control for three years (2008-2010) in the form of their choice, the women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies than expected.  4.4 to 7.5 abortions per 1,000 women (adjusted for age and race) in the study saw unintended pregnancies, as compared to the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women.  The results were also lower than the rate in the St. Louis area (13.4 to 17 abortions per 1,000 women).

Read more here.


November 13, 2012 in Abortion, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cohen & Sayeed: "Fetal Pain, Abortion, Viability and the Constitution"

I. Glenn Cohen (Harvard) & Sadath Sayeed (Harvard Univ.-Harvard Medical School) have posted "Fetal Pain, Abortion, Viability and the Constitution" (39 The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Can a U.S. state prohibit pre-viability abortions based on concerns about fetal pain?

Given that recent legislation in Nebraska purports to do so, and the fact that similar efforts are now working through the legislative process in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and other states, the question is a pressing one.

In this short paper for the leading peer-reviewed law and medicine journal, we are the first to comprehensively examine from a constitutional, medical, and bioethical perspective these efforts to prohibit early abortion based on concerns about fetal pain.


April 12, 2011 in Abortion, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 17, 2011

NYC Abortions

The number of abortions in New York City in 2009 has been released:

From CBS New York:

In 2009, there were 225,667 pregnancies in the City with 126,774 resulting in live births and 87,273 resulting in abortions. In addition to those abortion numbers, there were 11,620 spontaneous terminations.

Forty-six percent of all births in the Bronx result in abortions—the highest among the five boroughs, according to the report.

Blacks had the highest number of abortions with 40,798 with Hispanics having the second highest at 28,364, according to the report.

Read the news story here and the report here.



January 17, 2011 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fetal Bodies at Thai Temple

From Time:

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.



December 2, 2010 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Birth or Not" Website

The internet has been buzzing with the following story, with many suggesting it cannot possibly be true:

From Star Tribune:

A suburban Twin Cities couple touched off an Internet frenzy Thursday with their "birth or not" website -- an online poll on asking whether the woman, who is 17 weeks pregnant, should have an abortion.

"We wanted to give people a chance to voice their opinions in a real situation where it makes a difference," said Alisha Arnold, 30, of Apple Valley.

She and her husband, Peter Arnold, began the online vote because she was still healing emotionally from the most recent of three miscarriages, she said. They weren't sure whether she was ready for a baby.

Read more here.


November 19, 2010 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Minor’s Abortion During School Hours


SEATTLE -- The mother of a Ballard High School student is fuming after the health center on campus helped facilitate her daughter's abortion during school hours.

The mother, whom KOMO News has chosen to identify only as "Jill," says the clinic kept the information "confidential." 

When she signed a consent form, Jill figured it meant her 15 year old could go to the Ballard Teen Health Center located inside the high school for an earache, a sports physical, even birth control, but not for help terminating a pregnancy.

The girl received a pass and sent off in a taxi to have the abortion during school hours.  Read more here.


April 16, 2010 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

IL Parental Notification in Abortions

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Cook County Circuit Court judge on [last] Monday lifted a temporary restraining order that has barred the Illinois parental-notification abortion law from going into effect, but then prevented state officials from enforcing the law pending an appeal.

The 1995 law, which has been delayed in court and never enforced, would require doctors to notify a parent or guardian when a girl 17 or younger seeks an abortion. In November, the Illinois medical disciplinary board decided the state could begin enforcing the law. Hours later, Judge Daniel Riley granted a temporary restraining order sought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

Read more here.


April 8, 2010 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Judge Delays Contoversial Abortion Survey

An Oklahoma judge has delayed a decision on the constitutionality of an Oklahoma law which would survey doctors performing abortions and then post facts relating to those abortions on a public website.

An Oklahoma judge Friday put off until Feb. 19 any decision about an anti-abortion law that critics have said is "like undressing a woman in public."

The law, which was to have gone into effect on Nov. 1, requires doctors performing abortions to ask the patient 37 questions -- from her age to her marital status and financial condition -- which would then be posted on a public website.

Supporters of the bill say the information is crucial to understanding why women have abortions. Opponents say the questions are invasive and the public posting of the answers could easily lead to women being identified in rural parts of the state, even though their names are not used.

Read the full story from ABC News here.


December 31, 2009 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A New Kind of Crime? Attempted Abortion

CNN reports the story of a woman authorities say may be charged with "attempted abortion":

Prosecutors in Brooklyn have charged a 38-year-old woman with tricking a pregnant woman into taking an abortion-inducing drug because the suspect thought her husband had fathered the child with the other woman.

The suspect, Kisha Jones, allegedly went to great lengths to end the pregnancy of 25-year-old Monique Hunter, according to a complaint filed by the Brooklyn district attorney's office in an ongoing investigation that began over a month ago.

Jones is in jail facing multiple charges, including attempted abortion and assault, according to authorities.

The complaint alleges that Jones in October used a doctor's prescription pad to forge a prescription for Hunter for a drug that can induce labor, telling the pharmacist that the drug was needed for a "procedure."

The complaint said it is not clear how Jones got a prescription notepad from a licensed doctor, but the doctor was not treating Hunter and said the prescription was not written by anyone in his office.

Authorities said that, after obtaining the drug, Jones called Hunter numerous times claiming to be the pregnant woman's doctor's office and telling Hunter that her doctor had sent a prescription for her to pick up and take immediately.

Hunter immediately took the drug after receiving the phone calls, thinking it was a legitimate prescription from her doctor, authorities said.

Soon after, she was rushed to a hospital with severe abdominal pain, and gave birth to a boy.

Read the full story here.


December 9, 2009 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Balding: "On Sex Selective Abortion"

Christopher Balding (University of California Irvine) has posted On Sex Selective Abortion on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Abortion is a sensitive issue around the world. Acting as a clear dividing line in American politics, countries around the world treat abortion policy with a range of approaches. From near complete prohibition to encouraging its use as a tool of population control, countries utilize a variety of approaches to abortion policy. An abortion and technological issue of ethical concern is the practice of parental sex selection of the fetus. Ignoring basic questions of incentives for agents has overlooked key factors of the factors driving sex selective abortion. The economic incentives and clear decision making principles behind sex selective abortion, access to family planning, and reproductive services has not been widely studied. In this paper, I provide a theoretical economic defense to the practice of sex selective abortion given the existing ethical framework. Rather than proceeding from a moral position, this paper will defend the practice of sex selective abortion using the accepted ethical precepts of society and the economics of family planning.

Analysis of the practice of sex selective abortions fails to account for value discrimination of human life and choice fungibility. I find that opposition to sex selective abortion establishes significant inequalities based upon inconsistent standards between individual agents, fetuses, technological standards, and income levels. This has four primary implications. First, agents in societies which engage in sex selective do so out of economic incentives not gender preference. Second, in developed economies which do not face the economic constraints of parents in lesser developed countries, parents have distinct non‐distortionary aggregative gender preferences. Third, the ethical dilemma of gender preferences of potential parents in developed countries concerns the methods by which they seek to obtain their preferred gender or other characteristics. Fourth, at its core, ethical arguments against the practice of sex selection abortion are not arguing against sex selection, abortion, or sex selective abortion. Critics of sex selective abortion are arguing against societal gender imbalance.


November 7, 2009 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 11, 2009

CFP: Children and the Law Junior Faculty Workshop Call for Papers

Children and the Law Junior Faculty Workshop

July 16 -17, 2009

The Frances Lewis Law Center at Washington & Lee University is sponsoring a workshop for junior scholars working on legal issues related to children. The workshop will be held this summer on the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington, Virginia.
More info on Feminist Law Professors blog here.


May 11, 2009 in Abortion, Child Abuse, Child Support (establishing), Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ballot Initiatives

In yesterday's voting across the nation, several states had ballot initiatives relating to family law.

Florida, Arizona & California each presented constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Florida and Arizona both passed the amendment and, in California, with more than 95% of the vote counted, Proposition 8 leads 52.1% to 47.9%. The effect of this amendment on the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who wed in California during the last 4 1/2 months is unclear.  Court challenges to the law are already in the works.  All three amendments define marraige as "a union between one man and one woman."  Florida's amendment also provides that "no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized."

Arkansas Initiative 1, which bans an individual who is “cohabiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage which is valid under the constitution and laws of this state” from adopting or serving as a foster parent to a child, passed with 57% of the voter's approval.

A number of states had ballot initiatives related to abortion.  Colorado's Amendment 48 would have defined a "person" from the point of egg fertilization. The amendment was defeated nearly 3 to 1.  South Dakota's Measure 11 again proposed a ban on abortion, with some exceptions for incest, rape or when the mother's life or health are endangered.  The effort to set up a test case to challenge Roe v. Wade was rejected by 56% of voters. California Proposition 4 would have required doctors to notify a minor's parents before performing an abortion and mandated a 48-hour waiting period before the procedure was narrowly defeated.

For a summary of these and other ballot initiatives, see the Time report.  (BGF)

November 5, 2008 in Abortion, Adoption, Marriage (impediments) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Teen Pregnancy

Family Law Prof Blog previously drew your attention to an interesting op-ed by two Family Law Prof colleagues, June Carbone of University of Missouri-Kansas City and Naomi Cahn of George Washington University, in, from St. Louis.  (September 5, 2008).

Now The New Yorker's November 3, 2008 issue features Margaret Talbot's article, Red Sex, Blue Sex: Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant, quoting from Naomi Cahn and June Carbone.  Talbot writes:

Two family-law scholars, Naomi Cahn, of George Washington University, and June Carbone, of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, are writing a book on the subject, and they argue that “red families” and “blue families” are “living different lives, with different moral imperatives.” (They emphasize that the Republican-Democrat divide is less important than the higher concentration of “moral-values voters” in red states.) In 2004, the states with the highest divorce rates were Nevada, Arkansas, Wyoming, Idaho, and West Virginia (all red states in the 2004 election); those with the lowest were Illinois, Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The highest teen-pregnancy rates were in Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas (all red); the lowest were in North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Maine (blue except for North Dakota). “The ‘blue states’ of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have lower teen birthrates, higher use of abortion, and lower percentages of teen births within marriage,” Cahn and Carbone observe. They also note that people start families earlier in red states—in part because they are more inclined to deal with an unplanned pregnancy by marrying rather than by seeking an abortion.

It's great to see Family Law Profs being part of this important conversation!


October 27, 2008 in Abortion, Adoption, Child Abuse, Paternity | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Political Platforms on Family Law Issues

The political parties are in the process of drafting their national party platforms for the 2008 election and, as expected, there is some attention to family law issues.

The draft 2008 Democratic National Platform is interesting both for what it says and what it does not say.  A section on "fatherhood" states that "too many fathers are missing."  The party supports "removing tax penalties on married families and expanding maternity and paternity benefits," as well as rewarding those "who are responsibly supporting their children by giving them a tax credit" and will "crack down on men who avoid child support payments" and "ensure that payments go directly to families instead of bureaucracies." (page 44 lines 34-44).  There is a section on "empowering families" with an extensive discussion of policies on health care, employment, "work and family," and women.  Of particular interest is a pledge to "expand the Family and Medical Leave Act" to "enable workers to take leave to care for an elderly parent, address domestic violence, or attend a parent-teacher conference," and to work with states to make leave paid rather than unpaid.  (page 10 lines 31-35).  In a subsection entitled "Choice" the platform provides: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."  There is also strong support for "access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education," and a mention of "caring adoption programs." (page 45 line 19-31).  There is also this single line: "We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us."  (page 47 lines 8-9).

The draft of the 2008 Democratic National Platform, in pdf format from CNN/TIME, is available here.

The Republican National Platform Committee is apparently still in progress - - - the committee is soliciting input for its 2008 platform here.

The draft of the 2008 Green Party Platform includes a section on youth, a call for equality regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity in civil marriage and child custody, a section on protecting abortion and contraception (specifically including the "morning after pill") and is available here.

The 2008 Constitution Party Platform calls for to the government to "secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born."  The platform opposes "government funding of 'partner' benefits for unmarried individuals," "any legal recognition of homosexual unions," and "efforts to legalize adoption of children by homosexual singles or couples," and is available here.

(RR  August 16, 2008)

August 16, 2008 in Abortion, Child Support Enforcement, Domestic Violence, Marriage (impediments), Paternity | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Woman Denied Abortion Takes Poland to European Court of Human Rights

"When Tysiac, who suffers from an acute eye disease, found she was pregnant for a third time in 2000, she was told by a doctor that the pregnancy, if carried to term, could leave her blind. She asked for an abortion but approval was delayed until she had passed the 12-week limit for the procedure. After the birth of her third child, Tysiac's eyesight degenerated until she was almost totally blind, unable to care for her children. Now 36, she is registered as disabled.

Tysiac has taken Poland to the European Court of Human Rights saying her rights were violated. But even as she fights her case, a movement within overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Poland wants to make having an abortion more difficult." By Gabriela Baczynska, Reuters Link to Article (last visited 12-13-06 NVS)

December 14, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Arguments on Federal "Partial Birth" Abortion Ban

"Two hours of oral argument on a federal "partial birth" abortion ban at the Supreme Court yesterday showed that the justices are intensely focused on the procedure's medical details and health implications -- but produced few clues as to how they might rule. As expected, the court's four most liberal members, Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, sounded skeptical about the statute. Of the court's conservatives, only Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said much at all, asking questions that implied the law should be upheld. That left plenty of time for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom both sides in the case consider the likely swing vote, to listen to the lawyers and air his concerns -- though he did not tip his hand."By Charles Lane, Washington Post Link to Article (last visited 11-8-06 NVS)

November 9, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Roberts Court to Hear Abortion Case

"The morning after the closely fought midterm elections, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear its first major abortion case in six years. The hot-button issue has been debated for years among social and religious activists, voters and judges themselves. At issue in Wednesday's arguments is the constitutionality of a federal law banning a specific late-term procedure its critics call "partial-birth" abortion." By Bill Mears, Link to Article (last visited 11-5-06 NVS)

November 7, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Nicaragua Criminalizes All Abortions

Editorial from N.Y. Times: "The rights and safety of Nicaragua’s women took a giant step backward last week when the country’s legislature passed a law criminalizing all abortions, with no exceptions. The previous law permitted an abortion if the mother’s life was in danger. Latin America has the world’s strictest laws on abortion. But that does not discourage it. Latin America also has the world’s highest abortion rates, averaging nearly one per woman over the course of her reproductive lifetime." By N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 10-30-06 NVS)

October 31, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Supreme Court rejects review of Doe v. Bolton

The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned aside the case of Sandra Cano, one of the women behind the 1973 high court decision legalizing abortion, who had sought to reverse the ruling.  Cano said she never wanted an abortion and that her difficult early life resulted in her becoming the anonymous plaintiff in Doe v. Bolton, the lesser-known case that the justices ruled on the same day as the landmark Roe v. Wade.

Read news reports on the court's decision from Fox News (last visited October 11, 2006 bgf)

October 11, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

House Passes Legislation on Interstate Abortion Notification

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed the Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403) by a margin of 264-153. Last year the House passed a version of this bill called the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (H.R. 748). The Senate passed the Child Custody Protection Act (S. 403) in July, but Senate Democrat leadership blocked it from moving to conference.

For dueling press releases on the legislation from the US Newswire see the statement of Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and that of the National Abortion Federation (last visited September 27, 2006 bgf)

September 27, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)