Family Law Prof Blog

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

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)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Case Law Development: 10th Circuit Court Rejects Challenge to Oklahoma Parental Notification Statute

In an action by medical providers to enjoin the state attorney general and others from enforcing an Oklahoma statute requiring parental notification before a minor could receive an abortion, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's denial of the motion for the preliminary injunctive relief.  Plaintiff had argued that the judicial bypass provision of the statute could not be decided with sufficient expedition.  However, the court rejected this argument because the statute expressly requires prompt and expedited decisions and because plaintiff did not prove that state courts were unable to meet this requirement. 

In most actions for interlocutory injunctions, the 10th circuit applies a liberal standard on the likelihood of success standard in most instances, allowing for injunctions were serious harm is threatened so long as there is a "fair ground for litigation."  However, when injunctions are sought against the goverment, the plaintiff must prove the more stringent standard of a probability of success on the merits.  Here, the court concluded the plaintiff was unable to meet that burden. 

The court did comment that if there were evidence of the delay alleged by plaintiff, the court would have "serious concerns about the constitutionality of the bypass procedures."  However, absent proof of delay, the court concluded that

in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we must presume that courts will follow the law. ...The Oklahoma Act, on its face, complies with Bellotti in that it requires Oklahoma courts to issue prompt decisions and provide for expeditious appeals, all in accordance with the best interests of the pregnant unemancipated minor. We presume they will do just that.

Nova Health Sys. v. Edmondson, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 21706 (10th Cir. Ct. App. August 25, 2006)
Opinion on web (last visited August 29, 2006 bgf)

August 30, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Chinese Lawyers Attempting to Aid Anti-Abortion Activist Roughed Up and Harassed

It is reported that Chinese lawyers attempting to help a detained anti-abortion activist were roughed up and harassed when they travelled to the coastal provice of Shandong to visit him. One lawyer was detained by the police when he tried to visit the activist. When a second group of three lawyers attempted to visit the activist, they were reportedly beaten by men who emerged from an unmarked car. The lawyers called emergency numbers hoping for help, but instead the police took them in for questioning.  They were later released, however, when two of them attempted to visit the activist’s village, they were again harrassed and forced to retreat.  Source. For the complete story, please click here (last visited June 25, 2006, reo).

June 25, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

English Doctors May Call for Early-Stage Abortion to Require only One Medical Opinion

This week English Doctors will most likely vote on two motions being made at the Medical Association’s annual representative meeting that would make it simpler for women in early stages of pregnancy to seek an abortion. Current UK law requires that two doctors must agree before termination can take place, except in emergencies.  It is being proposed that doctors support a new law that would require only one doctor’s signature in the first trimester of pregnancy. Source. Judith Duffy, Sunday Herald, For the complete story, please click here (last visited June 25, 2006, reo).

June 25, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Second Abortion Case

On Monday the Supreme Court agreed to hear a government appeal that seeks to reinstate a federal ban on what opponents call partial-birth abortion in the case of Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood. The Court is now set to hear two partial birth abortion decisions this term:  Gonzales v. Panned Parenthood, et. al. 05-1382, and Gonzales v. Carhart, 05-380, respectively decided by the 9th and 8th Circuit Courts of Appeal. The 8th Circuit partial-birth abortion ruling can be found by clicking here (last visited June 21, 2006 reo).

June 21, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Legislative Development: Louisiana Governor Signs Abortion Ban Legislation

As expected, Louisiana Governor. Kathleen Blanco signed into law a ban on most abortions. The ban applies to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, except when the mother's life is threatened. However, the law would only take effect if the United States Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade is overturned. Source.  Reuters, For the complete story, please click here (last visited June 18, 2006, reo).

June 18, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ohio Abortion Proposal Unlikely to Become Law

After a full day’s hearing and with 60 people yet to testify, the chairman of the Ohio House Health Committee ended debate on a proposed abortion ban bill and said that he does not expect to hold a second hearing this year.  According to its supporters, the proposal would have given the Supreme Court the chance to overturn Rode v. Wade.  Source. Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, For the complete story, please click here (last visited June 14, 2006, reo).

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

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Ohio Committee to Hear Proposed Legislation that Would Criminalize All Abortions

On Tuesday, a committee of the Ohio House of Representatives is to hear a proposed bill that would criminalize all abortion -- whether to save the life of the woman or to end pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. The bill would also make it a felony for anyone to take a woman across the state line to obtain an abortion elsewhere. Source. Carl Chancellor, Beacon Journal, For the complete story, please click here (last visited June 11, 2006, reo).

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

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Case Law Development: Federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals Oks Firing of Teacher at Catholic School who Publicly Advocated Abortion Rights

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled this week against a teacher who was fired from a private Catholic school after she had signed her name to a newspaper advertisement celebrating the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She had argued that signing the advertisement was conduct protected by 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a) and that she was fired for conduct less egregious under Catholic doctrine than conduct of male employees who were treated less harshly. The lower court had ruled that a 1978 law that forbids employers from discriminating against employees who support abortion rights does not apply to disputes involving a religious school  The Court of Appeals agreed.

On the day the advertisement appeared, the woman was called into the office of the President of the private school and informed that the school was deeply troubled by her public support of a position inimical to accepted Catholic doctrine and was considering terminating her employment. A few days later she was fired. In her lawsuit, the woman claimed that a provision in Title VII protected her from being fired.  That provision reads that “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any of his employees . . . because he has opposed any practice made an unlawful employment practice by this subchapter . . ..” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a).2

The Third Circuit rejected her argument saying that the provision was aimed at preventing illegal employment practices but that “basic pro-choice advocacy does not constitute opposition to an illegal employment practice.” 

It said that “we are not aware of any court that has found public protests or expressions of belief to be protected conduct absent some perceptible connection to the employer’s alleged illegal employment practice.”  An example of protected conduct, according to the court, would be an employee’s appearance on the news magazine “60 Minutes” where the entire show was about allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Hoffman v. Rubin, 193 F.3d 959, 963 (8th Cir. 1999). However, in this case, the court concluded that the advocacy was simply not connected to employment practices. It also dismissed her gender argument saying that “Congress has not clearly expressed an affirmative intention to apply Title VII to a claim, as asserted here, against a religious employer in the present context.” The Third Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, Curay-Cramer v. Ursuline Academy of Wilmington, may be found by clicking here (last visited June 10, 2006, reo).

June 10, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Oglala Sioux Ban Abortion on Reservation—Suspend Tribal President

The Oglala Sioux tribe in South Dakota has voted to ban abortion on the Pine Ridge Reservation and has suspend tribal president Cecelia Fire Thunder for 20 days after she announced her intention to build a women’s health clinic on the reservation. Source. Ms. Magazine, The complete story may be found by clicking here (last visited June 10, 2006, reo).

June 10, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

South Dakota Primary Election Finds Abortion Bill Opponents Losing

Although it is not immediately clear how much their opposition to a Sourth Dakota abortion bill may have cost their reelection effort, four Republican state senators who voted against a bill that would ban abortions in South Dakota were all defeated in Tuesday’s primary election.  Apparently, several candidates who supported the ban were successful in the primary.  Source.  Joe Kafka, AP, The Mercury News, The complete story may be found by clicking here (last visited June 10, 2006, reo).

June 10, 2006 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)