Thursday, May 23, 2013
Rebecca Cook on Brazilian Maternal Mortality CaseRebecca J. Cook (University of Toronto Faculty of Law) has published Human Rights and Maternal Health: Exploring the Effectiveness of the Alyne Decision. The article is available on readcube. Here is the abstract:
This article explores the effectiveness of the decision of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in the case of Alyne da Silva Pimentel Teixeira (deceased) v. Brazil, concerning a poor, Afro-Brazilian woman. This is the first decision of an international human rights treaty body to hold a state accountable for its failure to prevent an avoidable death in childbirth. Assessing the future effectiveness of this decision might be undertaken concretely by determining the degree of Brazil’s actual compliance with the Committee’s recommendations, and how this decision influences pending domestic litigation arising from the maternal death. Alternative approaches include: determining whether, over time, the decision leads to the elimination of discrimination against women of poor, minority racial status in the health sector, and if it narrows the wide gap between rates of maternal mortality of poor, Afro-Brazilian women and the country’s general female population. Determining the effectiveness of this decision will guide whether to pursue a more general strategy of judicializing maternal mortality.
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance Announces 2013 Honorees
Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance announces:
The 2013 Honorees
Mandy Carter is one of the leading African-American lesbian activists in the country. She has a 45-year movement history of social, racial and lesbigaytrans justice organizing since 1968 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She helped co-found two ground breaking organizations. Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). Read more here.
Heather Corinna is the founder ofScarleteen.com, the inclusive and progressive online resource for teen and young adult sexuality education and information founded in 1998. An author, educator and activist, Heather is considered one of the pioneers of positive human sexuality on the internet. Read more here.
Matt Foreman has been a leader in the LGBT rights movement for over 25 years. Matt has served as Executive Director of the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the nation’s then-largest statewide LGBT political advocacy organization, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (The Task Force), the nation’s oldest and second-largest national LGBT rights organization.Read more here.
The Vicki Sexual Freedom Award, established in 2010, is named after Victoria Woodhull, the namesake of the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. Ms. Woodhull was an American suffragist born on September 23, 1838, who was described by Gilded Age newspapers as a leader of the American women's suffrage movement in the 19th century. She became a colorful and notorious symbol for women's rights, free love, and spiritualism as she fought against corruption and for labor reforms. A strong advocate for collaboration and for full equality rather than "just" individual rights, Woodhull was generations ahead of her time.
Search for a Women's Libido Pill Raises Questions About Causes of Waning Female Sex Drive
The New York Times: Unexcited? There May Be a Pill for That, by Daniel Bergner:
Linneah sat at a desk at the Center for Sexual Medicine at Sheppard Pratt in the suburbs of Baltimore and filled out a questionnaire. She read briskly, making swift checks beside her selected answers, and when she was finished, she handed the pages across the desk to Martina Miller, who gave her a round of pills.
The pills were either a placebo or a new drug called Lybrido, created to stoke sexual desire in women. . . .
. . .“Female Viagra” is the way drugs like Lybrido and Lybridos tend to be discussed. But this is a misconception. Viagra meddles with the arteries; it causes physical shifts that allow the penis to rise. A female-desire drug would be something else. It would adjust the primal and executive regions of the brain. It would reach into the psyche. . . .
See also Jezebel: How a Women's Libido Pill Could Actually Save Monogamy, by Lindy West.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Four Different Appeals Courts Will Consider Federal Contraceptive Coverage Mandate
Politico: Courts to hear birth control mandate lawsuits, by Kathryn Smith & Jennifer Haberkorn:
Obamacare’s birth control mandate will go before four different appeals courts over the next three weeks as private businesses that object to the policy on religious liberty grounds bring a barrage of lawsuits that opponents hope to get before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this fall.
On Wednesday, two for-profit companies will ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike the requirement that they provide employees with insurance coverage that includes birth control and other drugs that they say can cause abortion. Three other companies will present oral arguments in different appeals courts by early June. . . .
Ninth Circuit Panel Strikes Down Arizona's 20-Week Abortion Ban, But Trent Franks is Undeterred
The Ninth Circuit rules Arizona's 20-week "fetal pain" abortion ban clearly unconstitutional...
The New York Times: Arizona Law on Abortions Struck Down as Restrictive, by Fernanda Santos:
A federal appellate panel struck down Arizona’s abortion law on Tuesday, saying it was unconstitutional “under a long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents” that guarantee a woman’s right to end a pregnancy any time before a fetus is deemed viable outside her womb — generally at 24 weeks.
The law, enacted in April 2012 despite vociferous protest by women’s and civil rights groups, made abortions illegal if performed 20 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period, or roughly 18 weeks after fertilization, even if the woman learned that the fetus had no chance of surviving after birth. . . .
...but Arizona's Rep. Trent Franks vows to push for a similar ban in Congress:
The Huffington Post: Trent Franks Uses Kermit Gosnell Case To Push 20-Week Abortion Bill, by Laura Bassett:
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told reporters on Wednesday that there is a "good chance" House leadership will bring his nationwide 20-week abortion ban to the floor this year for a full vote in light of the Kermit Gosnell trial.
While Franks' bill, which only applied to the District of Columbia the previous times he introduced it, has never been brought to the floor for a vote, he said the Gosnell trial has caused leadership to take it more seriously this year. . . .
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a similar bill in Arizona on Tuesday, declaring it unconstitutional. But Franks said he doesn't trust or respect the Ninth Circuit. . . .
The opinion is available here.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Federal Judge Temporarily Enjoins Arkansas' 12-Week Abortion Ban
The New York Times: Abortion Law in Arkansas Is Blocked by U.S. Judge, by Erik Eckholm:
A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked enforcement of one of the country’s most stringent abortion laws, an Arkansas ban on the procedure at the 12th week of pregnancy, saying the law was likely to be declared unconstitutional. . . .
In Midst of Plan B Uproar, Availability of Condoms Isn't Questioned
The Los Angeles Times - op-ed: A birth control double standard, by Meg Waite Clayton:
Condoms are readily available without identification. Why not Plan B?
In the uproar about making the morning-after contraceptive known as Plan B available to our daughters, there has been no similar outcry about condoms and our sons. Anyone of any age can walk into a drugstore — as well as most grocery and big-box stores — and buy condoms. . . .
Democrats in Congress Seek to Stop Deceptive Advertising by "Crisis Pregnancy Centers"
The Hill - Floor Action Blog: Dems look to crack down on anti-abortion 'crisis pregnancy centers', by Peter Kasperowicz:
Democrats in the House and Senate are looking to stop what they say are deceptive advertising practices by anti-abortion health clinics that imply they offer abortion services, but instead encourage birth and promote adoption.
The legislation is aimed at crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which are clinics often set up by a church or other anti-abortion groups. Democrats in Congress and other pro-abortion groups say these clinics are known to indicate they can perform abortions in order to attract pregnant women patients, and then try to convince them to carry their babies to term. . . .
The text of the bill is available here.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Martha Fineman on Masculinities Scholarship and Feminist Legal Theory
Masculinities scholarship could be seen as distinct from and complementary to feminist theory — an independent and parallel companion theory, developed by men. In this regard, from a feminist’s perspective masculinities scholarship might be thought of as ethnography, helpfully providing insights into the operations and assumptions of a distinct masculine culture. This approach would seem to validate the notion that there are significant differences between men’s and women’s experiences and perspectives, and consideration of both is necessary to form a complete legal theory picture. Feminist legal theory and masculinities theory are thus seen as both contrasting and complementary in nature.
On the other hand, masculinities scholarship can be understood as providing the basis for a critique of feminist legal theory. This approach begins with the allegation that feminist legal theory generally and incorrectly treats men as a monolithic group when there is in fact a multiplicity of male identities. Masculinities scholarship, in this framing, could be categorized as the male-focused companion to critiques that have been made over the past thirty years that feminist legal theory is excluding and essentializing. It is this understanding of the significance of masculinities to feminist legal theory that prompted this Essay.
Catholic/Secular Hospital Mergers Threaten Access to Reproductive Health Care
The New York Times: Hospital Mergers Reset Abortion-Access Battle, by Kirk Johnson:
Politicians seeking to restrict access to abortion, a marked trend this year from North Dakota to Arkansas, tend not to get much traction in this part of the country.
Washington is heavily Democratic, leaning left especially on social issues. A majority of voters even put into law a statutory right to abortion in 1970 — the only state ever to do that. The governor, Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is pushing the Legislature even now to pass a law at a special session on Monday requiring health insurers to pay for elective abortions, another first for the state if it makes it to Mr. Inslee’s desk.
But now a wave of proposed and completed mergers between secular and Roman Catholic hospitals, which are barred by church doctrine from performing procedures that could harm the unborn, is raising the prospect that unelected health care administrators could go where politicians could not. . . .
H/T: Grayson Barber
In addition to prohibiting abortions and certain kinds of end-of-life care, Catholic hospitals also refuse to provide contraception (often including emergency contraception for rape survivors), sterilizations, and infertility services. For more about the threats posed by these mergers, see the MergerWatch website.
Abortion Protest Case Pits Free Speech Rights Against Protection of Children
The New York Times: In Abortion Protests, Which to Protect, Children or Speech?, by Adam Liptak:
Kenneth T. Scott opposes abortion, and he says so in public. Sometimes he holds up large pictures of aborted fetuses. Sometimes he makes his points near churches that he believes are not doing enough to combat abortion.
A couple of years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that hateful antigay protests at military funerals deserved First Amendment protection. It will soon decide whether to hear a sequel, this one involving Mr. Scott. . . .
Eugene Volokh, who is representing Kenneth Scott, has posted links to the court papers here.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Kara Swanson on the "End of Men"
The current attention to the “end of men” is occurring as men’s role as biological fathers is becoming radically deemphasized through assisted reproductive technologies and alternative family formation. As other historians have noted, since the nineteenth century, there have been serial crises of masculinity in the United States, in which the perceived loss of power by white middle-class heterosexual men has been decried. This essay, written for an on-line forum considering Hanna Rosin's The End of Men, analyzes the current crisis in the context of earlier explorations of the biological end of men, from early twentieth century feminist utopian fiction to lesbian dreams of virgin birth in the 1970s.
Boston Cardinal Refuses to Attend Boston College Graduation in Protest Over Honorary Degree for Ireland Prime Minister
Prime Minister Kenny is supporting a life exception to Ireland's complete ban on abortions after a woman died when she was denied a life-saving abortion. But that's apparently going too far for Cardinal O'Malley.
The Washington Post - On Faith blog: Boston cardinal withdraws from Boston College graduation after abortion controversy:
QUOTE OF THE DAY | Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley:
. . . Recently I learned that the Prime Minister of Ireland, the Hon. Mr. Enda Kenny was slated to receive an honorary degree at Boston College’s graduation this year. I am sure that the invitation was made in good faith, long before it came to the attention of the leadership of Boston College that Mr. Kenny is aggressively promoting abortion legislation. The Irish Bishops have responded to that development by affirming the Church’s teaching that “the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong” and expressed serious concern that the proposed legislation “represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law.”
Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation. . . .
Vicki Saporta on Abortion Stigma and Gosnell
USA Today op-ed: Abortion stigma created Gosnell, by Vicki Saporta (National Abortion Federation):
Regardless of a woman's income or where she lives, she deserves access to quality care.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF), along with the rest of the pro-choice community has unequivocally and repeatedly denounced the practices at Gosnell's facility. Gosnell was a substandard provider who preyed on vulnerable women, and fortunately he will not be able to do so again. Although this case has made national headlines, the important thing to remember is that Gosnell's practices are not representative of the quality abortion care available from the vast majority of abortion providers in the United States.
Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures provided in this country, due in large part to the skill and expertise of abortion providers who offer high-quality care. However, abortion and abortion providers are marginalized and politically demonized in our society. This stigma around abortion — combined with unnecessary restrictions on women's access to care—helps create opportunities for substandard providers like Gosnell to prey on vulnerable women. . . .
Gosnell Found Guilty of Three Counts of Murder
The New York Times: Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Guilty of Murder in Late-Term Procedures, by Jon Hurdle & Trip Gabriel:
A doctor who was responsible for cutting the spines of babies after botched abortions was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder in a case that became a sharp rallying cry for anti-abortion activists.
The doctor, Kermit Gosnell, 72, operated a clinic in West Philadelphia catering to poor women that prosecutors called a “house of horrors.”
The case turned on whether the late-term pregnancies Dr. Gosnell terminated resulted in live births. . . .
Friday, May 10, 2013
Federal Judge Rejects as "Frivolous" Government's Request to Delay Order on "Morning After Pill"
Bloomberg: 'Morning-After' Pill Judge Won't Delay Ruling for Appeal, by Christie Smythe:
A federal judge rejected as “frivolous” a government request to delay the effect of his order giving girls of all ages access to the so-called morning after-pill.
U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman in Brooklyn, New York, refused today to put the ruling on hold while the government appeals his decision that the contraceptive doesn’t require a prescription. He gave officials until May 13 to seek a delay from the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. . . .
Caroline Corbin on Compelled Disclosures
Courts have faced a wave of compelled disclosure cases recently. By government mandate, tobacco manufacturers must include graphic warnings on their cigarette packages, doctors must show and describe ultrasound images of fetuses to women seeking to abort them, and crisis pregnancy centers must disclose that they do not provide contraception or abortion services. Although applying the same compelled speech doctrine to similar issues, appeals courts have reached very different results in challenges to these laws. Drawing from First Amendment theory, this Article first identifies why compelled disclosures undermine free speech values. It then applies those insights to the specific examples above. In doing so, it examines not only compelled text but the new phenomenon of compelled images, particularly compelled images designed to provoke an emotional response. The Article concludes that recent appeals court decisions have it backwards: It is mandatory abortion counseling laws that offend free speech principles, not laws requiring cigarette warnings or crisis pregnancy center disclosures.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Federal Judge Admonishes Obama Administration for Its Insistence on Limiting Access to Emergency Contraceptive Pill
The New York Times - The Caucus blog: Judge Criticizes Obama Administration as It Appeals Contraception Decision, by Michael D. Shear:
A federal judge on Tuesday angrily accused the Obama administration of hurting poor and minority women by seeking to restrict their access to morning-after contraceptive pills. . . .
Judge Korman, of United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, said he would decide this week whether to freeze implementation of his order while the appeal proceeds. But for the second time in a month, he used his perch on the bench to lecture the Food and Drug Administration and President Obama for their efforts to restrict access to the drug by very young women. . . .
Proving Fetal Homicide in Cleveland Kidnapping Case Could Be Difficult
TIME: The Challenge of Proving Fetal Homicide in the Cleveland Kidnapping Case, by Kate Pickert:
If the man accused of imprisoning three women for a decade inside his Cleveland home is convicted of the charges filed against him, it seems unlikely he will ever be released from prison. This week, prosecutors charged Ariel Castro with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape. . . .
Some may be wondering why Castro wasn’t also charged with homicide. One of his victims, Michelle Knight, reportedly told investigators she became pregnant five times while in captivity and that Castro beat and starved her each time until she miscarried. . . .
Akiba Solomon on Evangelical "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" Targeting Black Women
Colorlines: The Missionary Movement to 'Save' Black Babies, by Akiba Solomon:
Last December, Care Net—the nation’s largest network of evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy centers—featured a birth announcement of sorts on the website of its 10-year-old Urban Initiative. Under the headline, “Plans Underway for Care Net’s Newest Center in Kansas City, Mo.!” a block of upbeat text described how a predominantly white, suburban nonprofit called Rachel House had “made contact” with “various African American pastors and community leaders,” who helped them “plant” a “pregnancy resource center” in a predominantly black, poor section of downtown Kansas City. . . .