Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gifts from the Goddess of Jurisprudence

WCWonline: Gifts from the Goddess of Jurisprudence, by Ruthann Robson:

Ruthann Robson reviews two recent books on the first two women to serve on the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman’s compares and contrasts the two justices.  Notorious RBG focuses on Justice Ginsburg.  Robson praises the books for their ability to "navigate the difficult task of writing accessibly for readers unfamiliar with legal feminism while also captivating readers well versed in it."

Any feminist working on legal issues today is indebted to the work of Ginsburg as well as to O’Connor, even if we disagree with them. While Hirshman calls both O’Connor and Ginsburg “icons” and “beacons,” she admits that it is only in retrospect that the rather conservative and uninspiring O’Connor is revealed as a “gift from the gods of jurisprudence.” As the Supreme Court is poised to deliver important decisions this term—which have the potential to allow states to seriously curtail abortion; to forbid public universities to pursue affirmative action; to weaken public employee unions; and to strengthen religious organizations’ resistance to sex equality—we will be looking to the current gifts from the goddess of feminist jurisprudence on the court: Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. And with controversial conservative Justice Scalia now gone—he died unexpectedly February 13, 2016—perhaps the next justice will be another gift.

May 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 27, 2016

What's Wrong With Reporting on Abortion

Rewire (May 23, 2016): Associated Press Article on 20 Week Bans Underscores What's Wrong With Reporting on Abortion, by Jodi Jacobson:

Rewire Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson criticizes the way that the media reduces discussions on medical and health issues to the level of opinion. Jacobson discusses a recent article on South Carolina's 20 week abortion ban which recites the opinion of supporters of the bill that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks.  However,  Jacobson states:

“Supporters” of 20-week abortion bans (and many other such laws) include groups like Americans United for Life and the National Right to Life Committee (both of which have drafted model legislation for these bans), as well as others such as the Susan B. Anthony List. Each of these groups uses false science and unfounded claims of “fetal pain” to pass legislation that threatens access to critical reproductive health care; the anti-choice movement’s self-important “pro-life” designation elides the fact that women’s health and lives are in grave danger wherever such care is unavailable.

The vast body of medical evidence refutes that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Yet the opinions of the bill's supporters are given the same weight as the international medical and public health communities.  Jacobson goes on to say

No matter how strong the backlash from the small but loud contingent of people within the anti-choice movement, it is the media’s job to report fairly and responsibly. Making the claims of anti-choice “supporters” of abortion bans equivalent to the consensus of the medical and public health community not only abrogates the public trust, it puts all of us in danger.

May 27, 2016 in Abortion, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Local health care providers and wider contraceptive options increase contraceptive use in many countries

Vox (May 20,2016): What the US can learn from Ethiopia about birth control, by Sarah Frostenson: 

The use of modern contraceptives has tripled in Ethiopia since 2005, following a government program to train women health workers to go door to door to deliver birth control.

What's more, women in Ethiopia are having fewer children (the fertility rate fell from an average of 6.5 children per woman in 2000 to 4.6 currently), maternal deaths are in decline, and more women are staying in school longer. Plus, more women are opting for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) instead of more traditional short-term methods like birth control pills or condoms.

Local health care providers can make a big difference in women's access to contraceptives as can providing a range of contraceptive options. Long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) play a big part in increasing effective use of contraceptives in many countries.  LARC implants last for 3 years and do not require going to a clinic to take medication or remembering to take a pill.  They also allow women to keep their contraceptive use secret.  However, LARC use can be prohibitively expensive for low-income women who would otherwise choose them.  Some poorer countries are able to provide contraceptives that are donated by NGOs and the international community, removing the cost-barrier for many women.  

Use of LARCs is increasing at a faster rate in some poorer countries than in the U.S.  About 12% of women in the U.S. use LARC methods.  Recent cuts to family planning in the U.S.  resulting in closure of local family planning clinics decrease women's options of contraceptive methods and make it more difficult and expensive for them to access birth control.  For instance in Texas,  82 of family planning clinics closed following a recent drastic cut in family planning funding.  A study found the cuts lead to an increased birth rate for low income women and a "sharp decrease " in use of LARCs.

 

May 26, 2016 in Contraception, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

FOIA Lawsuit seeks information about denial of reproductive health care in Catholic hospitals

Rewire (May 24, 2016): ACLU Sues for Complaints Filed Against Catholic Hospitals for Denying Reproductive Health Care, by Nicole Knight Shine:

The ACLU has brought an action under the Freedom of Information Act against the federal Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) seeking complaints against Catholic hospitals for denial of emergency medical treatment.  CMS receives and investigates complaints of violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which requires that hospitals receiving federal funds provide emergency care to stabilize a medical condition, including a miscarriage.  The ACLU complaint describes instances where women seeking treatment for miscarriages were turned away from emergency rooms at Catholic hospitals.  Religious Directives written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops forbid doctors in Catholic hospitals from performing abortions unless a woman is in grave danger.

Roughly one in six hospital beds are in a Catholic facility, with the top four U.S. Catholic health systems expected to take in more $90 billion from Medicare and Medicaid in 2016, according to the ACLU’s 10-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

May 25, 2016 in Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 23, 2016

El Salvador Releases Maria Teresa Rivera; Indiana Court to Decide Fate of Purvi Patel

On Friday, El Salvador released Maria Teresa Rivera, a 33-year old woman who was serving a 40 year prison sentence for aggravated homicide following a miscarriage. Hospital staff accused Rivera of having an abortion when she was brought to the hospital for treatment of complications and heavy bleeding that left her unconscious. Rivera is one of Las 17, a group of women who received sentences of 40 years or more in El Salvador, following miscarriages that were often prosecuted as homicides. A global human rights campaign seeks to have their cases reconsidered or pardoned and El Salvador’s laws banning abortion in all circumstances repealed. Maria Teresa’s release followed a judge’s ruling that there had been insufficient evidence to prove the charges against her.

The situation in El Salvador illustrates the danger of allowing women to be prosecuted for abortions and poor birth outcomes. Although abortion is legal in the U.S., some women have been prosecuted for losing a pregnancy or abortion.  Today (Monday, May 23, 2016) at 2 pm EST, the Indiana Court of Appeals will hear argument in Purvi Patel’s appeal of her conviction for feticide and child neglect. Patel was convicted based on the prosecution’s claim that she self-induced an abortion with drugs obtained over the internet. The argument will be available on livestream.

May 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Congressional Efforts to Prevent Use of RFRA to Discriminate

ACLU Blog (May 18, 2016): The Religious Refusals Fight Comes to Washington, by Ian S. Thompson:

When the Supreme Court remanded Zubik v. Burwell last week, it avoided answering questions about the limits of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The petitioners in Burwell argued that a generally applicable law (the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employee health plans include contraceptive coverage) should not apply to them and that the accommodation given to them (that they fill out a sheet indicating their religious objection, allowing them to avoid paying for contraceptive coverage, but triggering coverage by their insurer) substantially burdened their free exercise of religion. The Supreme Court's failure to issue a decision may embolden arguments that religion can justify opting out of non-discrimation laws and other laws of general application.

And now Congress is getting into the act.  Last month, an Oklahoma Congressman added an amendment to the the defense authorization bill that would allow religiously affiliated government contractors and grantees to discriminate in hiring.  According to the ACLU, the bill would allow these grantees to claim a right to: 

  • Fire a woman who uses birth control or who is pregnant and unmarried.
  • Fire a man who marries his same-sex partner.
  • Refuse to interview anyone, however qualified, based on their religious beliefs, effectively adding language to job applications that says: “Jews, Sikhs, Catholics, Mormons need not apply.

So far efforts to strip the amendment from the defense bill have been unsuccessful.  But efforts also are underway to curb the use of religion as an excuse to discriminate.  Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass) have introduced the Do No Harm Act to amend RFRA to ensure that it can't be used as a justification for discrimination or to otherwise harm others.

May 22, 2016 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Parties Ability to Settle in Zubik Will Turn on Their Type of Insurance Plan

Balkanization (May 17, 2016): What to expect from the Zubik remand: a possible solution for "church plans," but otherwise no common ground, by Marty Lederman:

In his post on Balkanization, Marty Lederman considers the possibility of the government and petitioners reaching settlements following the Zubik v. Burwell remand.  The Zubik petitioners had different types of insurance plans, falling in three categories, and their ability to settle will depend on the way that the plans are structured. Lederman writes:

The gist of my preliminary assessment is this: For reasons I have explained before, I think that the cases involving ERISA "church plans" (including the suit brought by Little Sisters of the Poor) can probably be settled below, because there was never much at stake in them to begin with: The government has long conceded that, under its own regulatory accommodation, it cannot require the third-party administrators of such plans to provide contraceptive payments. The plaintiff organizations in such cases thus have the power to preclude such payments, and therefore they have nothing to complain about. When that much becomes clear on remand, it ought to facilitate a quick resolution of those cases. I am not as sanguine as the Court appears to be, however, about the prospects of settlement of the remainder of the cases, involving "insured" plans and "self-insured" plans that are not church plans, because many or all of the plaintiffs in those cases continue to insist that their religious exercise would be substantially burdened unless obstacles are put in the way of the insurance companies' payments to women; and, understandably, the government is unlikely to accept any solution that includes such obstacles.

The ERISA "church plans" are self-insured insurance plans established by churches and maintained by churches or religious organizations.  Insured plan are health care plans purchased by the employer from a third-party insurance company.  In the third-type of plan, self-insured plans the employer pays claims, although a third party may administer the plan.  Lederman's blog post provides in-depth explanation of all three plans and how settlement discussions may play out. 

May 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Oklahoma Finally Finds an Abortion Bill That It Doesn't Like

 Oklahoma has been notorious for passing anti-choice legislation, but the legislature finally passed a bill that even anti-choice governor Mary Fallin found went too far.  On Friday afternoon she vetoed a bill that would have made it a felony to perform an abortion unless the abortion was necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. The bill also would have revoked medical licenses of physicians that assisted in the such procedures.  The bill's sponsor admitted that the bill was passed to tee up a direct challenge to the right to abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade. 

Fallin stated her veto was based on the law's ambiguity, citing the difficulty in determining when an abortion is necessary to save a pregnant woman's life, and the heavy litigation costs of the inevitable legal challenges to the bill.  

May 20, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Macaulay Honors College, CUNY, hosts Policing Reproduction Symposium

74F9EB19-4E6D-4676-9E5D-D224B214545EToday we feature a blog by Prof. Elizabeth Reis

Macaulay Honors College, CUNY, hosts Policing Reproduction Symposium, by Elizabeth Reis, Professor Macaulay Honors College:

As readers of this blog are well aware, since 1973, the year of the historic Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion rights, hundreds of pregnant women, particularly women of color, have been arrested, detained, and jailed for matters relating to their pregnancies. Some have had miscarriages and yet have been suspected of feticide; others have admitted drug or alcohol use to their physicians and have been arrested for harming the fetus; yet others have faced legal scrutiny for refusing bed rest orders or requesting VBAC (vaginal deliveries) instead of cesarean sections. Authorities have prosecuted pregnant women based on the idea of “fetal personhood,” the notion that an unborn fetus has the same rights as a pregnant woman.

On May 15 and May 16 Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York hosted a symposium called Policing Reproduction that brought together a diverse range of scholars, students, and the public to discuss these alarming trends in women’s reproductive health. On May 15, Johanna Schoen, Professor of History at Rutgers University read from her new book, Abortion After Roe. On May 16, symposium panelists included Lynn Paltrow, J.D., Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women; Jeanne Flavin, Professor of Sociology at Fordham University; Kimberly Mutcherson, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, Miriam Zoila Perez, a journalist and activist based in Washington, D.C. and author of The Radical Doula Guide: A Political Primer for Full-Spectrum Pregnancy and Childbirth Support; Michele Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law at UC Irvine School of Law as well as Founder and Director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at Irvine and author of the forthcoming Policing the Womb; and Civia Tamarkin, award-winning journalist and filmmaker who is working on a film about these issues, Misconception: A War Story.

The range and depth of the symposium’s presentations and the lively discussions surrounding them can’t be easily summarized. But among the most important themes that emerged was that the systematic erosion of women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health services is part of a larger, under-acknowledged assault on women’s basic rights as citizens and persons.

May 20, 2016 in Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Most of the world recognizes it’s wrong to criminalize women for having an abortion, what about Indiana?

DSC_9710Cross-posted on Human Rights at Home Blog: 

Most of the world recognizes it's wrong to criminalize women for having an abortion, what about Indiana?, by Cynthia Soohoo

On Monday, the Indiana Court of Appeals will hear oral argument to determine if Purvi Patel was wrongly convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for seeking to terminate her own pregnancy. Through a questionable reading of Indiana law, the prosecution was able to convict Patel of two inconsistent crimes: feticide and child neglect. If affirmed, Indiana’s expansion of these crimes will pose a serious threat to women’s constitutional right to choose to terminate a pregnancy and will place all women who fail to deliver a healthy baby in danger of criminal prosecution.

Patel was convicted of feticide for purchasing drugs over the internet to induce an abortion. Yet, Indiana’s feticide law was never intended to apply to abortions. The law was passed following the shooting of a pregnant woman that caused a stillbirth. Recognizing feticide as a crime was intended to protect women by punishing criminals who commit violent acts against them that result in the loss of a pregnancy. However, prosecutors in Patel’s case were able to convince the trial judge that the feticide provision also applied to abortions that failed to comply with Indiana’s abortion law. Among other requirements, Indiana abortion law required that abortions be performed by a physician and prohibited the administration of abortion inducing drugs later than 9 weeks.

Not only is Patel’s conviction inconsistent with a fair reading of the feticide statute, it opens the door to the prosecution of other women who chose to have abortions if they fail to follow the exact requirements of Indiana’s abortion laws. This creates a real danger of unfair prosecutions because Indiana, like many other states, has imposed detailed requirements for legal abortion. Some are legitimate health regulations necessary to protect women’s health, but others are onerous and arcane requirements designed to discourage women from having abortions or make it more difficult to obtain them. Ironically, unnecessary and burdensome requirements probably increase the likelihood that women will decide to terminate a pregnancy on their own as Patel is accused of doing. Indeed many women in the U.S. feel that clinical abortion care is out of their reach because of cost, increased restrictions, limited access and increased travel distance to clinics. Others may opt for self-induction because of mistrust of, or difficulties navigating, the formal healthcare system.

Criminal prosecution of women for terminating their own pregnancies is relatively rare outside of the U.S. As discussed in an amicus brief filed by CUNY Law School’s Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, international human rights experts on health and women’s rights have recognized that imposing criminal penalties on women who have abortions violates their human rights. It also places women’s health at risk because women who experience serious medical complications after an abortion or miscarriage may be too afraid to seek medical help. Although this may sound far-fetched, Patel was arrested at the hospital after she sought treatment for hemorrhaging that resulted in the loss of 20% of her blood.

Even in countries with laws that criminalize abortions, it is very rare for women to be prosecuted for ending pregnancies or obstetric emergencies. The reluctance to prosecute women results from recognition that when pregnant women are criminally prosecuted under homicide, feticide, manslaughter or criminal abortion laws, there is a high risk that the laws will be unfairly and selectively enforced. Many pregnancies naturally end in fetal demise and in many places in the world and in minority communities in the U.S. infant mortality rates are unacceptably high. When women are prosecuted for abortion, feticide and homicide, all women who do not deliver healthy babies are turned into potential criminal suspects.

El Salvador criminalizes abortion in all circumstances, even if a woman’s health or life is endangered by the pregnancy, if she is the victim of rape or incest or if she cannot afford or is unable to care for a child. And, it is one of a small number of countries that actually prosecutes women. As a result, many women are forced to get clandestine and possibly unsafe abortions. The law also creates a real danger of prosecution for women who don’t deliver healthy babies. Many of the women who end up being prosecuted are poor women who have sought medical help in public clinics following miscarriages. Several highly publicized cases involving the imprisonment of poor women for homicide following miscarriages, stillbirths and obstetric emergencies have led to widespread international criticism from human rights organizations and U.N. human rights experts.

As states across the country continue to pass laws that make it more difficult for women to access safe and legal abortion, let’s hope that the Indiana Court of Appeals recognizes that hospital waiting rooms should not be turned into crime scenes and that women should not be criminalized for terminating their own pregnancies or for failing to deliver a healthy baby.

May 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Arizona Reverses Medication Abortion Restrictions to Comply with FDA Labeling

In past blogs we described changes in the FDA labeling requirements for mifepristone the drug that is used in medication abortion.  The new guidelines that went into effect in March reduced recommended dosage to 200 milligrams from 600 milligrams, decreased the number of visits a woman must make to a doctor to two from three, and extended the period when she can take the pill to 10 weeks from seven weeks.

Despite the changes in the guidelines, we noted that many states have laws on the books that adopted the old FDA standards verbatim and that legislatures would need to amend their laws to reflect the new FDA standards or women would be forced to comply with unnecessary requirements out-dated protocols. Indeed, Arizona went so far as to pass a law legally requiring the old FDA protocol shortly after the new guidelines were released. 

Now it legislators seem to have realized their mistake.  On Wednesday, members of the Arizona House-Senate Conference Committee voted to repeal the law which prohibited the use of mifepristone after 7 weeks.  They also agreed to rescind a provision of a different law that required providers to tell women that a medication abortion may be reversible that was enjoined by a federal court.  The Arizona governor signed the measure late Wednesday afternoon.

 

May 18, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Big Law Women Talk About Abortion

American Lawyer (May 11, 2016): Big law Women Talk About Abortion (Their Own), by Vivia Chen:

Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt is one of the most watched Supreme Court cases this term and received a whopping 79 amicus briefs.  One of the most talked about briefs was an amicus brief submitted by 113 female lawyers who had an abortion.  The brief was envisioned to address abortion stigma and to counter stories from women have expressed "abortion regret" that have been filed with the Court in the past.  By telling the women's personal stories the brief illustrates the importance of abortion access to women's lives, highlighting the role that abortion played in helping women access educational opportunities and escape abuse.  As one woman wrote, "To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and, to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion.”  

Discussing their own personal stories was a shift in role for the attorneys who are used to telling their client's stories and not their own.  Like other public pro-choice activists, the lawyers had to consider whether anti-abortion stigma would negatively effect their work.   The lawyers interviewed by the American Lawyer report that that the response within their large law firms and from clients was mostly positive or neutral. Although Janice MacAvoy head of the real estate practice at Fried, Frank and lead name on the brief did receive many comments from the public.

 "People are supportive," says MacAvoy, though she admits that she's heard that "certain people at the firm were offended." But the angry messages that the women have received come from strangers. "One said, 'your mother should have aborted you, and the world doesn't need another $800 an hour lawyer,' " says MacAvoy. "I replied, 'dude, I'm actually $1,200 an hour!' "

 

May 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Zubik v. Burwell Sent Back to Lower Courts

Today the Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion in Zubik v. Burwell that is perhaps more significant for what it does not say rather than what it does.

The Justices were asked to consider consolidated cases from the Third, Fifth, Tenth and D.C. Circuits challenging federal regulations that provide an accommodation to religious non-profits allowing them to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage in their employee health plans which is recognized as required preventative-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  Under the regulations, petitioners can opt out of providing coverage by submitting a form stating that they object to providing contraceptive coverage on religious grounds.  Upon receipt of the notice, the petitioner's insurer would be required to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost to the employer. However, petitioners argue that submitting the notice substantially burdens their exercise of religion in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Instead of deciding the RFRA claim, the Court vacated the judgments and remanded the cases back to the Circuit courts to allow the parties to develop a solution that "accommodates petitioners' religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners' health plans 'receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage.'"  After hearing oral argument, the Court asked the parties to submit supplemental briefs to address whether contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners' employees through their insurance companies without any notice from petitioners. According to the Court's opinion, the petitioners and Government have indicated that "such an option is feasible."

The opinion allows the Court to avoid deciding the case, and Justice Sotomayor emphasized that lower courts should not construe the per curiam opinion as an indication of where the Court stands on the merits of the claims. In a separate concurrence, she writes "[t]he opinion does not . . . endorse the petitioners' position that the existing regulations substantially burden their religious exercise or that contraceptive coverage must be provided through a 'separate policy, with a separate enrollment policy'" and that the "Court of Appeals remains free to reach the same conclusion or a different one on each of the questions presented by these cases."  

As the parties try to seek agreement, she noted that it would be unacceptable for the Petitioners to insist that contraception be provided in a completely separate plan, noting that such contraceptive-only policies do not currently exist and that the Government laid out legal and practical obstacles to their creation.  Further, forcing women to obtain a separate policy "would leave in limbo all of the women now guaranteed seamless preventative-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act." 

 

May 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Maryland Legislation Closes the Gap in Insurance Coverage for Contraception

Mic (May 12, 2016) Maryland Just Took a Huge Step for Women by Offering Free Birth Control, by Leigh Cuen:

Last week, Maryland's governor signed legislation that will give the women of Maryland the most progressive reproductive health coverage  in the country.  While other states have passed piecemeal legislation, according to Karen Nelson, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Maryland, the Maryland law is unique in its comprehensiveness.

According to Mic, the act:

eliminates most co-pays for birth control, ends pre-approval requirements for reversible, long-term birth control like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and eliminates copays for vasectomies. The law also mandates that insurance covers over-the-counter contraception like Plan B, or the morning after pill. Almost everyone in Maryland with health insurance will have access to free birth control starting in January 2018

 

May 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Planned Parenthood Attacker Unfit for Trial

New York Times (May 11, 2016): Judge Finds Planned Parenthood Shooting Suspect Unfit for Trial, by Jack Healey:

Robert Dear, the profoundly disturbed gunman who murdered 3 persons and maimed 9 at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last November, is unfit to stand trial.  Dear suffers from delusions that the government has been following and spying on him for years.  The trial is now at a standstill, as Dear is consigned to a mental institution in an attempt to restore him to competency.  The presiding judge will review the case on August 11th.  Dear has been uncooperative with his counsel and appears to want to the trial to proceed.  

May 13, 2016 in Abortion, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fetal Anesthesia Required in Utah

New York Times (May 5, 2016): Utah Law on Fetal Pain Stokes Fight on Abortion, by Jack Healey:

At 20 weeks or more into a pregnancy, women undergoing an abortion in Utah will first have to be given anesthesia for the fetus.  The new requirement, which took effect yesterday, is the latest development in the abortion controversy over the idea of fetal pain.  Most scientists agree that a fetus's brain and nervous system are not capable of registering pain until 27 weeks of gestation.  Proponents of the law purport to be acting out of concern for the fetus and "common decency"; opponents cite concerns ranging from the law's intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship to its baffling vagueness and scientific unsoundness.  Some doctors have asked what types of anesthesia the law requires and whether it must be injected through the woman's abdominal wall.  The law contains exceptions for rape and incest, fetuses that have "uniformly lethal" conditions, and the life and health of the woman. 

May 12, 2016 in Abortion, Fetal Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Abortion Gag Order Challenged

New York Times (May 3, 2016): Silence Order on Abortions Violates Law, Doctor Says, by Erik Eckholm:

Diane J. Horvath-Cosper, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Med-Star Washington Hospital Center has filed a federal civil rights complaint against Med-Star in the wake of the hospital's order that she cease speaking out in favor of abortion liberty.  The hospital has required Dr. Horvath-Cosper to turn down "several requests for interviews or articles or risk losing her job."  The hospital says that the order is a "sensible precaution" because it fears violence in the current fraught climate.  Dr. Horvath-Cosper and some of her colleagues believe that staying silent about abortion "feeds the drive to stigmatize and restrict abortion."  "'I don't think the way to deal with bullies is to cower and pull back," she said.'"  The chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a national advocacy group, commented that physicians who speak out about abortion are making a personal decision based on privacy and risk.  If the complaint moves forward, the hospital risks losing its federal funding. 

May 11, 2016 in Abortion, Medical News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Thinking on Abortion Liberty from Ann Furedi and Maya Manian

The Moral Case for Abortion by Ann Furedi.

Ann Furedi is a provider of abortion services in the UK.  In her new book, she asserts that true respect for human life and true regard for individual conscience demand that we respect a woman’s right to decide, and that support for a woman’s right to a termination has moral foundations and ethical integrity.  Drawing on the traditions of sociological thinking and moral philosophy,

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Furedi maintains that there is a strong moral case for recognizing autonomy in personal decision-making about reproductive intentions. She argues moreover that to prevent a woman from making her own choice to continue or end her pregnancy is to undermine the essence of her humanity. This fresh perspective on abortion will interest both pro- and anti-choice individuals and organizations, along with academics in the fields of gender studies, philosophy, ethics and religion. 

Minors, Parents, and Minor Parents, by Maya Manian

In her new article in the Missouri Law Review, Maya Manian, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, exposes the law's incoherent approach to adolescent reproduction. Her research indicates that states overwhelmingly allow a teenage girl to independently consent to pregnancy care and medical treatment for her child and even to give up her child for adoption, all without notice to her parents, but require parental notice or consent for abortion. Manian theorizes that the unrecognized policy underlying these seemingly contradictory positions is to punish teenage sexuality and undermine adolescents’ reproductive rights. 

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May 10, 2016 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Women Gain Access to Safe Abortion on Prince Edward Island

Care 2 (Apr. 11, 2016):  Success! Women Will Finally Get Access to Safe Abortions on Prince Edward Island, by Judy Molland:

In contrast to many jurisdictions in the United States, Canada does not criminalize abortion, the Supreme Court having struck down restrictions on abortion in 1988.  Nonetheless, there has been no access to abortion in the province of Prince Edward Island.  Women on the island have had to go elsewhere to obtain pregnancy termination services.  The government has been sued twice in ten years for not providing access on the island. 

After receiving a petition with 18,000 signatures, Premier Wade MacLauchlan capitulated, stating, "We have been advised the probabilities are very low that the province could successfully defend policies that provide a legal, provincially funded medical procedure only if obtained outside of the province."  The policy would probably violate the Canadian Charter's Rights and Freedoms provisions and its security-of-the-person guarantee. 

May 9, 2016 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Nepal Bans Surrogacy

New York Times (May 3, 2016): Fewer Surrogacy Options as Nepal Joins a Trend, by Rachel Abrams:

Nepal has banned surrogacy after serving as a robust surrogacy destination for hopeful parents from around the world.  Nepal became a popular destination especially for gay couples after India decided to bar gays from have children via surrogacy there.  Developing countries like Nepal, India and Thailand have one by one restricted or prohibited surrogacy to respond to concerns that surrogacy is akin to human trafficking and that surrogates in those countries are exploited by couples who cannot afford surrogacy in the United States.  They may also be exploited by agencies and few protections if an agency refuses to pay or the surrogate becomes ill or is injured.  Complicating the debate is the fact that surrogates in these countries can earn much, much more than other employment options afford them.   

May 5, 2016 in Assisted Reproduction, International | Permalink | Comments (0)