Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A woman with a transplanted uterus just give birth - a first for the U.S.

Washington Post (Dec. 3, 2017): A woman with a transplanted uterus just give birth - a first for the U.S., by Cleve R. Wootson:

Doctors at Baylor University have announced that for the first time in the United States, a woman has successfully given birth to a baby after a uterine transplant.  First successfully performed in Sweden, uterine transplants provide the opportunity for women with uterine factor infertility to become pregnant. 

Unlike other transplants, uterus transplants are not designed to be permanent.  The process requires three surgeries, the transplantation, a caesarian section to deliver the baby and a surgery to remove the uterus.  Removal of the uterus prevents women from having to take drugs long term that suppress the immune system in order to avoid rejection of the transplant.  The process also requires in vitro fertilization.

Baylor has been conducting a clinical trial designed for 10 women. Eight women, including the new mother, have received transplants.  Four transplants have failed, one other recipient is currently pregnant and two are trying to conceive.

Uterine transplants pose interesting ethical issues as women have other opportunities to have biologically related children such as use of a surrogate.  However, surrogacy poses its own ethical concerns.  For those who are not included in clinical trials, the cost of the procedure is likely to be expensive, which would limit those able to have the surgery to the wealthy. Prospective organ donors may also not feel comfortable with use of the use of their uterus to carry another woman's child.

December 5, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Thousands Circle North Carolina's Busiest Abortion Clinic As Anti-Choice Group Marches On

Rewire (Dec. 2, 2017): Thousands Circle North Carolina's Busiest Abortion Clinic As Anti-Choice Group Marches On, by Robin Marty:

Last Saturday, Love Life Charlotte (LLC), a local anti-choice group, conducted its final event of the year. For the last 39 weeks, LLC has conducted "prayer walks" at the busiest abortion clinic in North Carolina.  For last Saturday's event, they arranged for shuttles to bring in protesters in from out of state.  After gathering for music and prayer, an estimated 1,500 attendees proceeded to march in front of the clinic.

In preparation for the event, Pro-Choice Charlotte sought out more assistance from reproductive rights supporters to hold signs directing patients away from the protesters in order to reach the clinic.   The clinic also tried to schedule patients to minimize their contact with protesters, starting appointments earlier in the day and scheduled twice as many clinic escorts. Patients were also warned in case they preferred to come in another day.

Clinic staff considered it a victory that it remained open despite the thousands of anti-choice activists, the large police presence, the large sound systems not just at the clinic but also a quarter of a mile up the drive, and the buses shuttling LLC attendees from parking lots to the rally site and back again. But there is little doubt that as many as 20 patients were unable to access an abortion that day simply because they were too confused, too overwhelmed, or too scared to navigate the sea of barricades, officers, and teal-shirted anti-abortion activists—even if those activists were primarily doing nothing but silently walking and praying.

Jen Ferris of Progress North Carolina emphasized that “People should be able to access clinics without fear of harassment.”  She suggested that the city could do more to prevent such events from preventing access to clinics.  “Today they gave a permit for 5,000 people to come down this small street,” she said. “You can see traffic is backing up. They could stop issuing sound permits. You can hear this inside the clinic and there is no reason a patient needs to hear religion shouted at them while they sit inside a clinic.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 4, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Internal Emails Reveal How the Trump Administration Blocks Abortions for Migrant Teens

Mother Jones (Nov. 29, 2017): Internal Emails Reveal How the Trump Administration Blocks Abortions for Migrant Teens, by Hannah Levintova and Pema Levy: 

Jane Doe isn't the only teenage immigrant the Trump administration has tried to prevent from obtaining an abortion. 

While the ACLU represented Doe in her ultimately successfully case to get an abortion, they continue to fight a class-action for other similarly-situation teens. These teens are pregnant and in government custody with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services. The ORR contracts with local shelters to house the minors.

The director of the ORR, Scott Lloyd, is an anti-abortion activist who has "changed ORR policy to prevent pregnant teens at these shelters from obtaining abortions." 

As part of the ongoing lawsuit, the ACLU has obtained government emails showing the lengths to which the current administration will go to prevent an unaccompanied minor from seeking an abortion. 

For example, ORR temporarily halted a medication abortion for one pregnant minor halfway through the procedure. In another case, ORR suggested that a pregnant minor scheduled for discharge from the shelter not be released until she had been counseled against receiving an abortion.

The ACLU says the government's efforts amount to a violation of the minors' Constitutional rights and defy Supreme Court precedent such as Roe v. Wade, which states the government cannot ban abortion. "They are effectively banning abortion for Jane Doe. I am still in shock that this is happening,” says Brigitte Amiri, a lead attorney for the ACLU. 

One of the emails, published here, includes a redacted sender questioning whether the ORR's methods of approving (or not approving) a minor's pursuit of a judicial bypass are legal. A judicial bypass allows a minor who would otherwise need a guardian's permission for an abortion to get a court's approval to seek and receive an abortion without such parental or guardian permission.

The redacted email sender says:

My understanding is that the judicial bypass was created specifically so that the young lady does not need approval from her guardian (in our case the Director of ORR) to move forward with a term of pregnancy. Has this policy been vetted by your legal department? I anticipate there would be legal challenges to this policy.

Minors represented in this case have received judicial bypasses for their abortions from the courts, however the emails show that ORR nevertheless instructed the shelters not to allow it. It's unclear how those situations were resolved.

The release of these emails makes the government's targeted policies very clear, as the ACLU continues to fight for the Constitutional rights of unaccompanied and undocumented minors. 

November 30, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Federal judge strikes down Texas abortion ban

CNN (Nov. 24, 2017): Federal judge strikes down Texas abortion ban, by Meg Wagner

Last Wednesday a federal district court judge overturned a controversial law in Texas which "banned doctors from performing dilation and evacuation abortions," a common abortion procedure typically done during a second-trimester abortion and the most common type of abortion procedure after 15 weeks. 

Judge Lee Yeakel wrote, "that a woman may make the decision to have an abortion before a fetus may survive outside her womb is solely and exclusively the woman's decision. The power to make this decision is her right."

The bill prohibited doctors from performing dilation and evacuation abortions unless they first stopping the fetus's heartbeat using another method. Many abortion providers challenged the law after it was signed by the governor in June of 2017. They argued that by banning this type of abortion procedure, women would have to seek more risky procedures. 

The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, says he plans to appeal Judge Yeakel's decision all the way to the Supreme Court if needed. Paxton stated, "during a five-day trial this month in district court, we created a record unlike any other in exposing the horrors of dismemberment abortions. No just society should tolerate the tearing of living human beings to pieces." 

 

 

November 27, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tech Companies Get High Marks for Covering Infertility Treatments

New York Times (Nov. 15, 2017): Tech Companies Get High Marks for Covering Infertility Treatments, by Ann Carrns:

With demand for techniques like in vitro fertilization on the rise, information about the insurance coverage available in the workplace becomes more critical.  Given that a cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF) can cost in excess of $20,000 in some instances and that multiple cycles are often required before success is achieved, most companies provide their workers with minimal or no coverage for infertility treatments.  A new survey of 250 large employers reveals that companies in the technology, consulting and banking sectors offer generous coverage for costly assisted reproduction procedures.  Facebook, for example, covers four cycles of IVF and genetic counseling, a $100,000 value. 

The survey, compiled and published by FertilityIQ, ranks employers in areas including the value of the benefits offered and whether preauthorization rules block access to single women or same-sex couples.  Microsoft, for example, requires no such preauthorization. 

Companies that offer generous benefits for infertility treatment describe themselves as family friendly.  The bottom line, however, is a desire to recruit and retain talented employees. 

November 19, 2017 in Assisted Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Facebook is Ignoring Anti-Abortion Fake News

The New York Times (Nov. 10, 2017): Facebook is Ignoring Anti-Abortion Fake News, by Rossalyn Warren

As Facebook addresses the role of "fake news" on its platform, largely in relation to the 2016 election and Russian political propaganda, another potentially more difficult concern arises. The spread of false reproductive rights and health news is widespread and often harder for Facebook to spot (and manage).

Facebook’s current initiatives to crack down on fake news can, theoretically, be applicable to misinformation on other issues. However, there are several human and technical barriers that prevent misinformation about reproductive rights from being identified, checked and removed at the same — already slow — rate as other misleading stories.

Identifying a fake news sources is not always straightforward. The social media giant says it often targets "spoof" sites that mimic legitimate news sources. But misleading anti-abortion sites can be hazier to identify. They generally publish original pieces, but often alongside inaccurate facts or with poor sourcing, which "helps blur the line between what’s considered a news blog and 'fake news.'"

Facebook aims to limit fake news by making it more difficult for these sources to buy ads or generate spam. "Most false news is financially motivated," Facebook says. This is not often the case with anti-abortion advocates, though, who are overwhelmingly driven by strong religious or political beliefs. The goal isn't profit but persuasion. 

Many are concerned that misinformation regarding reproductive rights and abortion in particular may detrimentally affect current political movements. Ireland plans to hold a referendum next year regarding whether to lessen the country's strict abortion regulations. Pro-choice advocates are worried that the rapid spread of abortion-related misinformation on Facebook (like a purported causal link between abortion and breast cancer) may affect the vote. 

Facebook has yet, though, to directly address concerns over this type of scientific misinformation in the same way they have begun to address fake news about last year's election. 

November 17, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, In the Media, Politics, Pro-Choice Movement, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers

Los Angeles Times (Nov. 13, 2017): Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers, by David G. Savage:

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear NIFLA vs. Becerra, in which an anti-abortion group challenges a California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to notify patients that the state offers contraception and abortion services. 

The case centers on the Reproductive FACT Act, which requires pregnancy centers to disclose whether they have a medical license and whether medical professionals are available. The law also requires centers to post a notice in the waiting room that reads: "California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, pre-natal care and abortion."

California lawmakers passed the disclosure law two years ago after concluding as many as 200 pregnancy centers in the state sometimes used “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform and even intimidate women” about their options for medical care.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) represents 110 pregnancy centers in California that all claim the disclosure provision violates their free speech as "compelled speech." Such a disclosure, they claim, conflicts with their faith-based goal of encouraging childbirth and preventing abortion. 

The Californian pregnancy centers initially lost their case under three federal district judges. On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court upheld the lower court's decision. Last month, however, a judge in Riverside County ruled that the law violated the free-speech provisions of California's own state Constitution. 

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra stands by the disclosure provision and its intent to provide women accurate information about their health care options.

It takes five justices for a majority opinion, and many expect the Court's decision to turn on the vote of Justice Kennedy. 

November 14, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, In the Media, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sexual Violence In Latin America And The Caribbean Takes Center Stage At The Inter-American Commission On Human Rights

Center for Reproductive Rights (Oct. 26, 2017): Sexual Violence In Latin America And The Caribbean Takes Center Stage At The Inter-American Commission On Human Rights

In late October advocates for human rights, reproductive rights, and child and adolescent rights gathered together in Uruguay to testify "on the failure of governments to condemn sexual violence and provide access to justice for adolescents and girls."

The Commission was presented with a declaration signed by over 100 organizations calling for the Commission to hold countries accountable for having policies which provide justice for sexual violence survivors, and policies that would ensure the sexual and reproductive rights of women.

"The declaration specifically calls for the elimination of legal and administrative barriers to sexual and reproductive health services and the development of specific protocols to provide redress for victims of sexual violence, including reparation."

Catalina Martínez Coral, the regional director for Latin America & the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated

“Too many young girls and women who experience sexual violence are oppressed, stigmatized and denied access to justice.

“Survivors of sexual violence should never feel alone or silenced and it’s time for states to provide channels for women and girls to get the medical services and support services they need without fear.

“The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights must call on states to take meaningful action to prevent sexual violence and prioritize reproductive health and rights.”

During the hearing video testimony was shown. The videos displayed the "harsh reality" of being a survivor of sexual violence and how being a survivor often leads to further discrimination and violence. This in combination with the lack of reproductive health care leads to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and higher risk of STIs. 

Currently, litigation is pending with the Commission for a case filed in 2015 on behalf of an Ecuadorian teenager who was sexually assaulted by her school's vice-principal and later committed suicide after learning she was pregnant. 

 

 

November 12, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

These 2017 Election Winners Backed Reproductive Rights — And You Can Thank Women For That

Bustle (Nov. 8, 2017): These 2017 Election Winners Backed Reproductive Rights — And You Can Thank Women For That, by Lauren Holter:

Earlier this week, advocates for reproductive rights won many state and local elections. Planned Parenthood's director of political communications, said "voters spoke really loud and clear that they want to see women’s rights protected." 

In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam, who was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, won the governor's race against Republican Ed Gillespie who has previously stated that he would like to see abortion banned. The winner of the lieutenant governor's seat beat out a candidate who had sponsored a bill which would have required women to have a vaginal ultrasound before an abortion. In the Virginia House of Delegates, Democrats took back the majority by flipping 14 seats, the majority of which were won by women. 

In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy “trounced Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno” for the governor’s seat. Chris Christie, the current New Jersey Governor, has recently rid family planning services from the state’s budget. Murphy during his campaign promised to support family planning service providers like Planned Parenthood, while Guadagno stated that “she wouldn’t restore family planning funds if elected.”

In the state of Washington, Manka Dhingra's campaign focussed on reproductive health care.  She won her state senate race giving Democrats the majority. Dhingra has previously said, “women need to be able to make their own health care choices and part of that means ensuring access to affordable, reliable contraception, and equal access to all reproductive options.”

These wins come just a few months after leaders of the Democratic Party “wouldn’t have a litmus test on abortion in 2018.” The victories from Tuesday night prove that candidates who “champion abortion access” can win elections.

Women Democrats also won is several mayoral elections across the country. “While none of these women explicitly ran on reproductive rights platforms (and most abortion legislation happens on the state level), more Democratic women in office typically means more people publicly advocating for women’s rights.”

Maya Rupert, senior director of policy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, emphasizes the importance of representation, stating “And the fact that multiple cities have elected female leaders represents a huge opportunity to center the issue of reproductive rights at the local level.”

 

 

November 11, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The global abortion policies database - legal knowledge as a health intervention

thebmjopinion (Nov. 1, 2017): The global abortion policies database - legal knowledge as a health intervention, by Joanna Erdman:

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs have launched the Global Abortion Policies Database.  The database is an open-access repository of abortion laws, policies, standards and guidelines from 197 countries.  According to Joanna Erdman:

The breadth of abortion law captured in the database is one of its key innovations. Global abortion maps and other collections tend to focus on the legal grounds for abortion, classifying countries on this basis. The database provides a more comprehensive picture, capturing a range of “policy domains” (legal grounds, gestational limits, authorization and service delivery requirements), as well as, the complexities and subtleties of regulation in multiple and sometimes conflicting standards or sub-national variation. Moreover, while abortion was historically addressed in penal codes, these have been increasingly replaced or supplemented by health legislation, constitutional court decisions, and other forms of soft regulation such as clinical guidelines and medical ethics codes. The database captures these many sources of regulation, and thereby dispels the myth of a single “abortion law.”

Erdman also notes that the European Court and other human rights bodies and courts have recognized state obligations to create regulatory frameworks for lawful abortion. The database can help governments meet these obligations by linking country profiles with with human rights standards, allowing easier comparisons across countries and geographic regions and supporting "community actors to hold governments accountable for gaps between these entitlements and abortion practice on the ground."

November 7, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court

San Antonio Current (Nov. 2, 2017): Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court, by Alex Zielinski

The trial fighting Texas' latest anti-abortion law, Senate Bill 8, began last week. Whole Woman's Health sued Texas in July after the governor signed SB 8 into law.

SB 8 would completely prohibit dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures, require clinics to bury the remains of any abortion, and prohibit hospitals from donating aborted fetal tissue to medical research.

The current lawsuit, though, only challenges the ban on D&E abortions. Dilation and evacuation abortions are considered one of the safest procedures for abortions after 13 weeks. The ban does not allow for exceptions in the cases of rape or incest. The only alternatives to a D&E procedure for a woman seeking an abortion are either inducing labor and forcing delivery of the fetus or a surgery similar to a hysterectomy. Both options are risky and expensive. 

In August, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel temporarily blocked the law from going into effect on September 1. On November 2, the plaintiffs returned to Judge Yeakel's courtroom to request the bill's D&E ban be permanently blocked. 

Yeakel has thus far supported a woman's constitutionally-protected right to abortion, saying: "The state cannot pursue its interest in a way that denies a woman her constitutionally protected rights to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable." 

 

November 6, 2017 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Trump DOJ seeks possible disciplinary action against lawyers in abortion case of unaccompanied minor

ABC News (Nov. 3, 2017): Trump DOJ seeks possible disciplinary action against lawyers in abortion case of unaccompanied minor by, Geneva Sands

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court today asking for possible disciplinary action against the attorneys that represented an undocumented minor who had an abortion over objections from the Trump administration.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of 17-year-old Jane Doe. Doe learned she was pregnant after being placed in a detention facility for children under the purview of the Department of Health and Human Services. She says she knew immediately that an abortion was the right option for her.

Doe, represented by the ACLU, had been fighting the federal government to be granted a medical visit to a clinic to receive her abortion. The government had instead taken her against her wishes to a pro-life clinic that tried to persuade her not to abort and showed her sonograms against her will. 

Doe was finally able to get her abortion on October 25. 

The Trump administration has now accused the ACLU of misleading the government on the timing of Doe's abortion. They claim that after informing Justice Department attorneys that the teen's procedure would occur on October 26th, Doe's attorneys actually scheduled it for early on October 25, thereby avoiding Supreme Court review. 

Government attorneys allege that the ACLU, while advocating for their client, violated their duties to the court and to the Bar. The administration believes the judgment under review that enabled Doe to receive the abortion should be vacated and additionally seeks potential disciplinary action against Doe's attorneys.

In response, the ACLU says the government failed to file a timely review with the Supreme Court and that Doe's attorneys acted both in the best interest of their client and "in full compliance with the court orders and federal and Texas law."

 According to Jane herself:

"I’m a 17-year-old girl that came to this country to make a better life for myself. My journey wasn’t easy, but I came here with hope in my heart to build a life I can be proud of. I dream about studying, becoming a nurse, and one day working with the elderly," she wrote. "This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice," she concluded.

November 4, 2017 in Abortion, Current Affairs, In the Courts, In the Media, President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 30, 2017

It's Still Technically Not Illegal For NYPD to Have Sex With Someone in Custody

Jezebel (October 25, 2017): It's Still Technically Not Illegal For NYPD to Have Sex With Someone in Custody, by Prachi Gupta: 

Under New York State law it is legal for police or other law enforcement to have sex with someone in their custody. This "loop-hole" is coming to light after two NYPD officers admitted to having sex with a teenage girl in their custody.

New York City Councilman Mark Treyger whose district the incident occurred in says he was outraged and disturbed when the attorney for the two officers alleged that the sex was consensual. Treyger states, "there’s no consent to that...that is rape". 

The New York State Penal Code does have laws to protect individuals from sexual abuse in certain aspects of the criminal justice system including: "those incarcerated or under the community supervision of corrections workers, health care providers, parole officers". However, this does not protect individuals in custody from an arresting officer. A NYPD spokesperson explained that it is against the department's policy to have sex while on duty. 

Councilman Treyger is currently working on a bill that would make this type of crime a misdemeanor offense in the city, and plans to ask the NYS legislature to amend the penal code to make it a felony for a police officer to have sex with someone in their custody. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about the incident at a press conference, while he did not comment on the allegations he did state regarding the claim that the girl gave consent in handcuffs, "I don’t see how that’s possible, honestly". 

"After Treyger’s office submits a draft of the bill, it will be assigned to a committee. There will be a public hearing, and then it will enter into negotiations with the administration. The committee will then vote on the bill and send it to the council". If passed it will end up on Mayor De Blasio's desk to be signed into law. 

October 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ontario makes it illegal to protest right outside of abortion clinics

VICE News (October 26, 2017): Ontario makes it illegal to protest right outside of abortion clinics, by Tamara Khandaker: 

A new billed passed by the Ontario legislature will soon make it illegal to protest outside of abortion clinics. The bill will create a "safe zone" around abortion clinics that will be 50-150 meters. Within the safe zone protesters will not be allowed to protest, hand out literature, advise against abortion, or "physically interfere with anyone trying to gain access to or provide an abortion". 

The "safe zones" will very in size. Outside abortion providers it will be 150 meters. Outside other places which provided abortions including Planned Parenthood and hospitals, these places will have to apply to have their buffer zones up to 150 meters.

Punishment for violating the "safe zones" will include fines and possible jail time. Attorney General Yasir Naqvi in her statement announcing the new law said, "our government believes that every woman in Ontario has the right to make decisions about her own health care – and she deserves to do so freely, without fear...this legislation sends a clear message that we will always stand up for a woman’s right to choose.”

This bill comes after an increase in harassment outside of abortion clinics. One example of this harassment which led to the bill being passed was a woman being spat on while trying to enter the clinic by an anti-abortion protester. 

 

October 29, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Judge OK denying parole to pregnant addict for baby's sake

The Washington Post (Oct. 12, 2017): Judge OK denying parole to pregnant addict for baby's sake, by Associated Press: 

A Pennsylvania judge last year denied a 28-year-old pregnant woman parole even after she had served her minimum jail sentence.

Britnee Becker was arrested on a theft case probation violation and appealed the judge's decision. The higher court, though, said the judge was justified in denying Becker parole in order to protect her unborn child from Becker's drug use.

The appeals court says the judge was right to consider Becker’s unborn child, especially since Becker acknowledged using heroin when she was five months pregnant. She was arrested for the violation in May 2016.

The court says that denying Becker parole “ensured Becker could not use heroin and harm her unborn child.”

October 26, 2017 in In the Courts, Incarcerated Women | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Court blocks undocumented teen's abortion — for now

USA Today (Oct. 20, 2017): Court blocks undocumented teen's abortion — for now, by Richard Wolf:  

October 25, 2017 in Abortion, In the Courts, In the Media, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Movement of #MeToo

The Atlantic (Oct. 16, 2017): The Movement of #MeToo, by Sophie Gilbert: 

In response to the widespread allegations of Harvey Weinstein's sexual assaults, women and men beyond Hollywood have been coming forward via social media with hundreds of thousands of stories ranging from verbal assaults to physical violence. 

The "me too" movement began ten years ago when activist Tarana Burke encouraged survivors of sexual assault to foster solidarity and support for each other. This week, it's gone viral after actress Alyssa Milano took to twitter to mobilize women to stand and say "me too" if they had experienced sexual harassment or assault. The goal was "to give people a sense of 'the magnitude of the problem.'" Within the last 24 hours, Twitter has confirmed that the #MeToo hashtag has been circulated nearly half a million times--and this does not account for the stories shared on alternative social media sites, and, of course, those shared in private among family and friends.

Importantly, many are also recognizing that along with those speaking up and sharing, there are just as many who have very likely survived an assault and are not sharing their stories publicly. With a world of voices being raised and heard this week, the hope is that awareness will breed action and the culture of sexual violence against others will end. 

Unlike many kinds of social-media activism, it isn’t a call to action or the beginning of a campaign, culminating in a series of protests and speeches and events. It’s simply an attempt to get people to understand the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in society. To get women, and men, to raise their hands.

Recent revelations about the alleged abuses of Weinstein and Bill Cosby and Jimmy Savile and R. Kelly have proven that truth has power. There’s a monumental amount of work to be done in confronting a climate of serial sexual predation—one in which women are belittled and undermined and abused and sometimes pushed out of their industries altogether. But uncovering the colossal scale of the problem is revolutionary in its own right.

October 24, 2017 in Culture, Current Affairs, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 23, 2017

New bill would protect employees from discrimination regarding reproductive health choices

New York Daily News (Oct. 16, 2107): Councilman to introduce bill to protect employees from discrimination when it comes to reproductive health, by Jillian Jorgensen:

New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams plans to introduce a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination based on reproductive decisions in the wake of Trump's recent health care initiatives. 

This proposal follows the "Boss Bill," currently before the state legislature, which aims to guarantee women access to medical procedures and medicine such as fertility treatments, contraceptives, and abortion.

The bill is co-sponsored by several women council members, including the chair of the Committee on Women's Issues, Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) and co-chair of the Women's Caucus Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).

The bill would modify the city’s Human Rights Law to protect against employment discrimination based on “sexual and reproductive health decisions.”

That would include fertility treatments, family planning services and counseling, birth control drugs and supplies, emergency contraception, sterilization, pregnancy tests, abortions and HIV testing and counseling.

 

October 23, 2017 in Abortion, Contraception, Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

U.S. judge orders Trump administration to allow abortion for undocumented teen

The Washington Post (Oct. 18, 2017): U.S. judge orders Trump administration to allow abortion for undocumented teen, by Maria Sacchetti:
 
Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered the U.S. government to allow an undocumented, pregnant minor in its custody to have an abortion if she chooses.
 
The Justice Department has already appealed the ruling, asking for a stay to prevent the teen from having an “irreversible elective abortion” while the appeal is pending. "Court filings make clear that the government is trying to prevent minors in its custody from having abortions, a departure from U.S. practice under Obama."
 
Jane Doe, as she is referred to in court documents, has been held in custody in South Texas since crossing the border illegally in September. She says that federal officials have refused to transport her to a clinic for the procedure and have instead taken her, against her wishes, to a Christian pregnancy facility that aims to persuade patients against abortion and allegedly conducted, also against her will, an ultrasound. The government has informed the girl's mother of her pregnancy. Both of these actions are potential violations of the minor's constitutional rights. 
 
All that is required of the government in this instance, per Judge Chutkan's order, is completion of routine paperwork that would allow the minor to visit a clinic.

October 22, 2017 in Abortion, In the Courts, In the Media, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 16, 2017

In West Africa, youth ambassadors serve as family planning advocates

Devex (Oct. 3, 2017): In West Africa, youth ambassadors serve as family planning advocates, by Christin Roby:

In West Africa, young people are receiving training from health professionals and becoming community-based family planning advocates. They use their skills to initiate conversations with their local ministries of health to demand access to contraceptives, reproductive health services, and to ensure they each have a voice in future reproductive policies. 

West Africa has the world’s lowest contraceptive prevalence rate accompanied by the world’s highest fertility rate. While the world averages 2.4 children per woman, African women average 4.7 children. West Africa surpasses even the African average with five children per woman, and a 17 percent modern contraception prevalence rate as compared to the global rate of 64 percent.

These initiatives are part of a larger project by the nations that make up the Ouagadougou Partnership (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo). This Partnership has a goal to provide 2.2 million more people in the region better access to family planning methods by 2020. The youth ambassadors especially aim to reach rural communities that don't often have much knowledge about contraception or family planning. 

Experts hope that introducing effective family planning methods into more communities will enable young mothers-to-be to space their births, so as to reduce potentially negative health consequences. Young men are important to the conversation as well, and educating them on the risks of un-spaced births and the health complications that young pregnant women face--especially those under 18 years old--is imperative. 

By empowering the youth to advocate for themselves and their communities, these groups--such as Strengthening Civil Society Engagement for Family Planning in West Africa--hope to facilitate cooperation between religious and community leaders. Bridging these spheres is important in order to account for various cultural contexts when considering reproductive rights advocacy and establishing new health services programs. Youth ambassadors have effectively organized trainings within mosques and churches and are beginning to open a line of communication about safe sex practices, discussion of which is often considered taboo. 

International health experts are optimistic that the West African model will expand contraceptive use and effective family planning and improve reproductive health in the region.

October 16, 2017 in Contraception, Culture, International | Permalink | Comments (0)