Friday, October 31, 2008
The Center for Reproductive Rights- Columbia Law School Fellowship is a two-year, post-graduate fellowship offered by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Columbia Law School. The Fellowship is designed to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights. Fellows will be affiliated with the Center and the Law School and will participate in the intellectual life of both programs.
Fellowship is open to outstanding recent graduates from law schools nationwide.
Fellows, who are in residence both at the Center and Columbia Law School
Applications are due February 15, 2009. To request an application, contact Cynthia Soohoo.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The New Yorker: Red Sex, Blue Sex: Why do so many evangelical teen-agers become pregnant?, by Margaret Talbot:
In early September, when Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for Vice-President, announced that her unwed seventeen-year-old daughter, Bristol, was pregnant, many liberals were shocked, not by the revelation but by the reaction to it. They expected the news to dismay the evangelical voters that John McCain was courting with his choice of Palin. Yet reports from the floor of the Republican Convention, in St. Paul, quoted dozens of delegates who seemed unfazed, or even buoyed, by the news....
During the campaign, the media has largely respected calls to treat Bristol Palin’s pregnancy as a private matter. But the reactions to it have exposed a cultural rift that mirrors America’s dominant political divide. Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion.
The article features law professors Naomi Cahn (George Washington University) and June Carbone (University of Missouri--Kansas City) and their upcoming book about "red families" and "blue families," which they argue live under "different moral imperatives."
A scared pregnant teen who can't go to her parents can feel trapped and desperate. Instead of seeking the counseling and safe medical care she needs, she may choose an unsafe back alley, illegal abortion, go across the border, or even contemplate suicide.
Click here for more information on the ill effects of this measure.
2) Alternate family member notification and judicial bypass are unreasonable
It's deceptive to call this "family notification." Right now a teen can go notify another adult, but Prop 4 would close off that option. Under Prop 4 before a teen could notify another family member, she must first accuse a parent of mistreatment and sign written statement saying she fears physical, sexual, or severe emotional abuse - no matter what her circumstances really are. This would trigger a family investigation by authorities. This so-called notification is nothing more than a form letter sent to another person who may not even live in the same state. There is no requirement for counseling and no requirement that the substitute adult help her when she is in crisis.
Alternatively, a teen could avoid parental notification by appearing before a judge. However, this is unrealistic. If a teen is pregnant, unable to go to her parents, and already desperate, she isn't going to navigate court bureaucracy to reveal the most intimate details of her life to an unfamiliar judge in an impersonal courthouse. She doesn't need a judge; she needs a caring counselor and safe, quality medical care without delay. Proposition 4 provides none of this. See how Prop. 4 would work on a practical level.
3) Prop. 4 is rejected by experts and research
The California Medical Association, the California Nurses Association, the California Teachers Association, the California School Counselors Association - all major organizations who work with teens every day OPPOSE Prop. 4 because it threatens teen safety. See full list.
In addition, research has shown that laws like Prop. 4 do not work. For instance, a Bixby Center brief highlights the dangerous actions teens are likely to take if parental notification in implemented in California. Click here for other research on laws like Prop 4.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Cheryl Hanna (Vermont Law School) has posted Beechman v. Leahy and the Doctrine of Hypocrisy: A Response to Nadine Strossen's Reproducing Women's Rights: All Over Again on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In this essay, Professor Hanna discusses Beecham v. Leahy, the Vermont case which legalized abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. She argues one way to reframe the reproductive rights debate is to examine more deeply the law's specific treatment of women in the regulation of abortion. If what we really care about is the well-being of women, as those on both sides of this debate claim, then allowing women to make their own decisions within this context is the most crucial aspect to women's full rights of citizenship. We must acknowledge, however, that some women are harmed within this context and have a right to access legal remedies. For example, restraining orders against intimate partners who sabotage birth control or coerce them into terminating a pregnancy, or the ability to sue doctors who engage in malpractice. And, most important, we must improve the material conditions of women's lives as to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to ensure that no woman has to make the trade-off between motherhood and education, a career, or basic survival. These two strategies, both promoting autonomy and preventing victimization, can and must be equally pursued as we reproduce women's rights.
Slate: Required Viewing: Oklahoma's gallingly paternalistic ultrasound law, by Emily Bazelon:
For many pregnant women, ultrasounds are like candy—there can't be too many of those grainy black-and-white images of the fetus napping or kicking in the womb. But if you're pregnant and don't want to be and are considering an abortion, an ultrasound image could be an object of dread. It might force you to think about the fetus as having a separate identity or as the baby it could become.
Dread is the emotion pro-life groups look to instill when they push states to pass laws that make an ultrasound part of the abortion procedure. It should also be said that women may, in fact, react otherwise: They could shrug off the ultrasound as a matter of indifference or even greet it with relief, because an image taken during the first trimester may look much more like a blinking light, or a newt, than a baby. I've never seen a study measuring how many women feel what, but abortion opponents believe that if women see the physical evidence of their pregnancy on the screen, at least some of them will decide not to end it.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The Beacon Broadside: Averting Their Eyes from an Assault on Women's Health, by Carole Joffe:
"Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent a pregnant woman from averting her eyes from the ultrasound images required to be provided to and reviewed with her." This is the "good news" of an egregious law recently passed in Oklahoma making ultrasounds mandatory for abortion patients. But though I read the law carefully I couldn't find anything allowing women to also cover their ears during the ultrasound. This is unfortunate, because the law requires that those performing the ultrasound "provide a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting," and also "provide a medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, if present and viewable, and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable." Even those women who are aborting a pregnancy caused by rape or incest are compelled to undergo such mandated ultrasounds.
Ultrasounds have become one of the key weapons of anti-abortion legislators. A number of states require abortion providers to make ultrasounds available; a handful of others make viewing mandatory, but Oklahoma is the first state, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, that requires a woman to hear the description of an ultrasound image.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
NY Times: Democrats Carrying Anti-Abortion Banner Put More Congressional Races in Play, by Raymond Hernandez:
The political advertisement that aired in Montgomery, Ala., spoke plainly to conservative voters’ values. As an image of three toddlers in diapers flashed across the screen, a narrator intoned that Mayor Bobby Bright, who is running for Congress, “supports their right to life.”
The anti-abortion pitch is standard fare in Alabama’s Second Congressional District, a deeply conservative area that President Bush carried twice and that has been represented in Washington by a Republican for four decades.
What makes the spot unusual is that Mr. Bright is a Democrat. And that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been pushing hard for Mr. Bright’s election, paid for it.
USA Today: Voters split evenly on S.D. abortion ban, by Terry Woster (Sioux Falls Argus Leader):
On the most divisive issue on our 2008 ballot, South Dakota is evenly divided.
An Argus Leader Media/KELO-TV poll showed a dead heat on Initiated Measure 11, the state's proposed abortion ban: 44% said they'd vote for it and 44% said they'd vote against it if the election were held immediately. The poll was conducted Oct. 13-15, with a sample of 800 South Dakotans who said they are likely voters. The poll's margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.
The 12% who said they still are undecided will determine the outcome of the issue Nov. 4.
To learn more about the South Dakota ban and its dangerously vague and narrow exceptions, see South Dakota Campaign for Health Families.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Daily Kos: Another Wink and Nod from Sarah Palin, by Meteor Blades:
Under the pre-Patriot Act definition of the law, William Ayers and many of his compatriots in the Weather Underground certainly qualify as terrorists. Unlike the abortion clinic bombers and assassins, however, subsequent to the townhouse explosion in which three Weathermen blew themselves up in March 1970, the Weathermen gave advance warnings of their attacks.
The anti-choice terrorists didn’t warn Dr. Barnett Slepian and Robert Sanderson (killed in 1998) or Dr. Jack Fainman and another unnamed physician (wounded in 1997) or Dr. Hugh Short (wounded in 1995) or Dr. John Bayard Britton, James H. Barrett, Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols (killed in 1994) or Dr. Garson Romalis and five others (wounded in 1994) or Dr. David Gunn (killed in 1993) or Dr. George Tiller (wounded in 1993).
Nor did they give warnings in most of the more than 200 clinic bombings and arsons since 1993, the most recent an unsolved case in Albuquerque, N.M., in December 2007.
During the interview, as you can see above, John McCain sits with his hands folded. So does he agree with Palin? Does he interrupt and say anti-choice assassins and bombers are definitely terrorists? No. Can he not use the word "terrorist" when it comes to these murderers? No. Which should come as no surprise, because, 15 years ago, when he was still supposedly a maverick, he twice voted against a law to prohibit blockades, bombings and arsons at abortion clinics.
CNN: Depression during pregnancy doubles risk of preterm birth, by Anne Harding:
Depressed moms-to-be are more likely than nondepressed women to have a preterm birth, and the worse their mood, the greater their risk, says a new study published in Human Reproduction. In fact, women in the study who were severely depressed during early pregnancy more than doubled their risk of giving birth to premature babies.
The reasons why aren't entirely clear, but the researchers don't think antidepressants are to blame. Only 1.5 percent of women were taking the drugs during pregnancy, and excluding them from the study didn't change the results.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Don’t have sex, win a $10,000 wedding, by Helena Oliviero:
How else to explain that in this sinking economy, no one has stepped forward to enter the Marriage for a Lifetime contest?
Did we mention the cash prize? Or the free flowers, the invitations and other bridal goodies?
The Oct. 31 deadline is fast approaching — but so far, no entries.
Stumper (Newsweek): How Sarah Palin Has Helped Pro-Choice Activists, by Sarah Kliff:
Sarah Palin is well known for rallying her base, getting social conservatives behind the Republican ticket. But there’s another constituency that she has gotten plenty excited lately: the big pro-choice groups. The Alaska governor and Planned Parenthood have dramatically opposed views on abortion--and that’s exactly what has made her a great uniter for the pro-choice movement.
Palin is unwaveringly pro-life, more so than her running mate. John McCain is by no means a centrist when it comes to abortion--you can read more about that here--but his views are not as strong as Palin's. She calls herself as "pro-life as any candidate can be" and does walk the talk.
See also: Wash. Post: New Poll Finds Stark Reversal on Perceptions of Palin
Center for Health and Gender Equity: Global Health and Policy Experts Unite in Message to USAID: Rescind Decision to Deny Contracetive Supplies in Africa:
More than 140 leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America - including Members of the European Parliament, development experts and leaders of HIV/AIDS, human rights, faith-based and reproductive health rights organizations - have submitted a joint statement calling on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to reverse its recent decision to interfere with Marie Stopes International's (MSI) access to contraceptive supplies in Africa.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Amanda Allen, CUNY Law School '08 and my former research assistant, recently began her tenure as the first fellow at Law Students for Reproductive Justice. She has written a wonderful post on the LSRJ blog, Repossess Reproductive Justice, responding to Senator McCain's references in the last debate to a "pro-abortion movement." Here's an excerpt:
On Wednesday, Senator John McCain referred to the “pro-abortion movement” twice, saying in one instance that the “extreme pro-abortion position” is to stretch the “health” (complete with air-quotes!) of the mother to “mean almost anything.”
After the debate ended I found myself wondering, what is this so-called “pro-abortion movement”?...
The movement that I am a part of “envisons the complete physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of women and girls.” LSRJ believes that reproductive justice will be achieved when all people and communities have access to the information, resources, and support they need to attain sexual and reproductive self-determination. Reproductive justice extends beyond the false pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy that has permeated the culture wars surrounding the debate about reproductive health services. As such, reproductive justice is a movement that does not consider abortion to be “the issue” of prime importance, but also does not believe it is constructive to send a message that it is “always a tragic situation,” as Senator Obama lamented in the last debate....
Read the full post.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Wall St. Journal Op-Ed: Obama Is the Way Forward for Women:Abortion rights and equal pay are at stake in the election, by Catharine MacKinnon:
Women are at a crossroads in our struggle for legal equality as a means to social equality. Having women in politics matters, but it is crucial to have the policies women need. At this moment we risk losing ground gained, but we also have the opportunity to advance. At stake in this presidential election are the federal courts.
Despite inroads, women's status remains characterized by sex-based poverty and impunity for sexual abuse from childhood on. The next president will appoint scores of lower court federal judges who will have the last word in most cases. One, perhaps three, justices may be named to a Supreme Court that in recent years has decided many cases of importance to women by just one vote. Equality can be promoted in employment, education, reproductive rights and in ending violence against women -- or not.
H/T: Suja Thomas
Wall St. Journal: Billionaire Pledges $50 Million for Pet Contraception, by Robert Frank:
Philanthropists for years have used the “prize model” to spark societal innovations–from space (the X Prize) to the environment (Goldman Prize). The idea is to create a mercenary incentive to create broader social good.
Now a billionaire doctor has come up with what could arguably be the most unusual philanthropic prize of all. It is called the Michelson Prize, named after billionaire inventor Gary Michelson. The cause: pet contraception.
Specifically, he is offering $25 million to anyone who can come up with a feasible dog and cat contraceptive.
Wash. Times: Va. pharmacy caters to pro-life customers, by Julia Duin:
But there will be no birth-control pills, condoms, cigarettes or pornographic magazines. There will, however, be booklets on natural family planning....
Virginia has no law mandating pharmacies to sell contraceptives, although nine states, including Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington, have enacted laws requiring pharmacists to either fill the prescription or direct the customer elsewhere.
Chicago Tribune: Catholics for Obama: No qualms about abortion issue, by Rex W. Huppke:
...Even in an election where religious issues have taken a back seat to the economy, terrorism and health care, the subject of abortion is bound to give pause to Catholic voters considering Sen. Barack Obama.
So a national group called Catholic Democrats launched a pro-Obama Web site today that lays out reasons Catholics can pull the lever for a candidate who believes in a woman's right to choose....
CatholicsforObama.org argues that voting on the basis of only one issue runs afoul of the faith. Obama's broader social policies would do more to reduce the number of abortions than anything proposed by Sen. John McCain, who is an open opponent of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. the group says. The crux of the argument is that criminalizing the procedure is less effective in reducing abortions than addressing the social circumstances that lead women to seek them.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Helen J. Knowles (State University of New York - SUNY at Oswego) has posted Clerkish Control of Recent Supreme Court Opinions? A Case Study of Justice Kennedy's Opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In recent years, several analyses have furthered our understanding of the roles of U.S. Supreme Court clerks. This article applies the insights provided by these works to a case study of some of the language in Justice Kennedy's opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007). The study considers whether both the theory and content of this language were largely the work of one of the crop of clerks who worked for the Justice during the October '06 Term.
Justice Kennedy's vote and his authorship of the majority opinion were unsurprising. However, some of the opinion content was unexpected; its paternalistic approach to abortion rights is inconsistent with the otherwise libertarian arguments that he has employed in previous abortion cases. I hypothesize that this might be explained by the presence, within the quartet of Kennedy's clerks, of an individual who wrote these particular views into the Justice's opinion.
At the end of the day, the name on the opinion in Carhart is Kennedy's. He bears the public burden of shouldering responsibility for the opinion's content. However, recent studies tell us never to underestimate the importance of those who clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justices. In order to understand Carhart, might we have to accept that it is an example of clerkish control?
The Center for Children, Law & Policy at the University of Houston Law Center is hosting a conference on Child Centered Jurisprudence and Feminist Jurisprudence: Exploring The Connections And The Tensions on Friday, November 14, 2008:
This conference in November 2008 will explore the connections and the tensions between “feminist jurisprudence” and what might be called (in the language of June Carbone) “child-centered jurisprudence.” The experiences of American women have been entwined with their roles as child bearers and child rearers in a society in which race and class also determine how those roles play out. Children obviously share the fates of their families and caregivers socially, economically, and in the legal system. For example, the effects of the family law or public welfare law regimes on women and children are often inseparable. At the same time, however, the experiences of children in American society are not simply the flip side and are not mere reflections of the difficulties encountered by their care givers. Once having entered the child welfare system, for instance, children remain subject to its tender mercies, perhaps until achieving the age of majority, at which point they are summarily ejected to make their way on their own without support or resources to bridge the transition. Children caught in the juvenile justice system, for another example, clearly present problems of autonomy as well as issues of dependency. Children therefore have their own unique legal problems, quite apart from how they interact with the women and families who care for them.
Click here for more information.