Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Sarah Palin Considered Abortion "for a Fleeting Moment"

Somehow, Gov. Palin manages to twist the fact that she was able to consider all her options and make her own decision into an argument for denying other women the same autonomy.

Wash. Post: Palin Says She Weighed Abortion, by Garance Franke-Ruta:

Sarah palin Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told an antiabortion audience in Indiana on Thursday night that, "for a fleeting moment," she considered having an abortion after learning that her son Trig would have Down syndrome.

The experience, she added, "now lets me understand a woman's, a girl's temptation to maybe try to make it all go away."

Ultimately, Palin said, she decided she had to "walk the walk" concerning her long-standing antiabortion views. She avoided using the word "abortion" in her speech, preferring the phrase "change the circumstances."

See also: Wash. Post: Palin's Personal Choice, by Ruth Marcus.

April 20, 2009 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lawrence Gostin on Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention in Sub-Saharan Africa

Lawrence O. Gostin (Georgetown Law) has posted Male Circumcision as an HIV Prevention Strategy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Socio-Legal Barriers on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Lawrence_gostin UNAIDS and WHO recommend safe, voluntary male circumcision as an additional, important strategy for the prevention of heterosexually-acquired HIV in men in areas with high HIV prevalence and low levels of male circumcision. Comprehensive male circumcision services should include HIV testing and counseling, partner reduction, and male and female condom use. Yet, male circumcision can have deep symbolic meaning that could pose barriers to implementation. In some parts of the world, it is a traditional practice with religious or cultural significance, in others it is a common hygiene intervention, and in yet others it is unfamiliar or foreign. Consequently, the proportion of men who are circumcised varies from <5% to >80%, with an estimated 30-40% of adult men circumcised worldwide.

Confirming a number of observational studies, three randomized controlled trials in Africa have shown that circumcision reduces the likelihood of female-to-male HIV transmission by 50-60%, leading WHO/UNAIDS to conclude that the evidence is "compelling." Male circumcision is a relatively simple, inexpensive one-time surgical procedure that is cost-effective, but raises a host of ethical, legal, and human rights challenges.

January 8, 2009 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, International, Men and Reproduction, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama Expected to Reverse Pro-Abstinence/Anti-Abortion Approaches to Global Funding for Family Planning and AIDS Prevention

Bloomberg News: Condoms Trump Abstinence in Obama Global AIDS Policy, by Jason Gale & John Lauerman:

Globe President-elect Barack Obama will reverse U.S. family-planning and AIDS-prevention strategies that have long linked global funding to anti-abortion and abstinence education, a public-health adviser said.

Public-health policies of President George W. Bush's $45- billion PEPFAR program have brought AIDS drugs to almost 3 million people in poor countries such as Rwanda and Uganda, more than under any other president. Still, requirements that health workers emphasize abstinence from sex and monogamy over condom use have set back sexually transmitted disease prevention and family planning globally, said Susan F. Wood, co-chairman of Obama's advisory committee for women's health.

November 15, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Contraception, International, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why Many Evangelicals Prefer Obama's Approach to Abortion

Huffington Post: The Obamagelical Reformation, by Cristina Page:

...Clearly Obama's inclusive approach resonated with many evangelical voters--but to only credit the candidate is to miss the bigger story. According to a poll taken by Beliefnet.com, Obamagelicals believe the Democratic party platform holds the greatest potential for progress on the most intransigent issues. Take, for example, abortion. Of evangelicals who voted for Obama only 8% believed that restricting abortion would lead to reductions in the abortion rate (61% of evangelicals for McCain did). A whopping 86% of Obamagelicals believe that instead "the best way to reduce abortion is by preventing unintended pregnancy (through education and birth control), or providing financial assistance to pregnant mothers." This is in direct opposition to the "pro-life" agenda, which seeks to ban many forms of contraception along with abortion....

November 15, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bishops Assail Proposed Freedom of Choice Act

Wash. Post: Bishops Call Obama-Supported Abortion Rights Bill a Threat to Catholic Church, by Jacqueline Salmon:

The nation's Catholic bishops Tuesday approved a statement declaring that if the Democratic-controlled Congress and the incoming Obama administration enact proposed abortion rights legislation, they would see it as an attack on the church.

The statement, to be formally issued Wednesday by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, assails the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, which would remove most state and federal restrictions on abortion.

President-elect Barack Obama pledged during the campaign to sign the legislation.

November 12, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Congress, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Urges Continued Lobbying for Outlawing Abortion

NY Times: U.S. Bishops Urged to Challenge Obama, by Laurie Goodstein:

BALTIMORE — The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops told his fellow prelates Monday that while they should “rejoice” at the election of an African-American president, they should confront him over his support for abortion rights....

Cardinal George’s remarks were a repudiation of the “common good” approach to the abortion issue that President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic Party leaders, including some prominent Roman Catholics, honed in the recent election.

Advocates of the “common good” approach say that, rather than outlawing abortion — which has polarized the American electorate for decades — they will try to reduce abortions by strengthening the social and economic safety net to enable more women to bring their pregnancies to term.

See also: Chicago Tribune: Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama, by Manya Brachear.

November 11, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where to Now for the Anti-Choice Movement?

Wall St. Journal: Abortion Foes' Dilemma: Confront or Cooperate?, by Stephanie Simon:

After making significant gains during the Bush administration, the anti-abortion movement was dealt sharp setbacks in last week's election with the defeat of three state ballot measures restricting abortion.

Now, strategists are debating whether the way forward should be based on confrontation or cooperation with the incoming Democratic administration....

President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats have promised to work to make abortion rare, so long as it remains legal. "Maybe it's time to take them up on the offer" instead of "bashing our heads over and over again against the same wall," writes Paul Strand, a blogger for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

November 11, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pro-Choice Advocates Urge Obama to Repeal Global Gag Rule

NY Times: Obama Weighs Quick Undoing of Bush Policy, by Jeff Zeleny:

CHICAGO — President-elect Barack Obama is poised to move swiftly to reverse actions that President Bush took using executive authority, and his transition team is reviewing limits on stem cell research and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, among other issues, members of the team said Sunday.

As Mr. Obama prepared to make his first post-election visit to the White House on Monday, his advisers were compiling a list of policies that could be reversed by the executive powers of the new president....

In January 2001, on his first full day in office, Mr. Bush reinstated the so-called global gag rule, initiated during the Reagan administration and overturned by President Bill Clinton, which prohibited taxpayer dollars from being given to international family planning groups that perform abortions and provide abortion counseling. After Mr. Obama’s victory last week, the Center for Reproductive Rights delivered a 23-page memorandum to his transition team, calling for “bold policy change,” including a repeal of the gag rule.

November 10, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Contraception, International, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

US Catholics Did Not Heed Bishops' Message on Abortion in this Election

NY Times: Catholics and Choice (in the Voting Booth), by Peter Steinfels:

Bishops_hat_2 Anyone constructing a list of the big losers on Tuesday would probably include the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. Will that fact be candidly addressed when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meets next week in Baltimore?

After a presidential campaign in which it was widely perceived that the dominant message from the bishops was that Catholics were morally obliged not to vote for a candidate supporting abortion rights, exit polls show that Catholics voted 52 percent to 45 percent for Senator Barack Obama. That was seven percentage points more than the Catholic vote in 2004 for Senator John Kerry, a fellow Catholic....

If the bishops sweat a little over these figures next week, the reason won’t be worry about their political prowess but about their pastoral and moral effectiveness. By appearing to tie their moral stance on abortion so closely to a particular political choice, have they in fact undermined their moral persuasiveness on that issue as well as their pastoral effectiveness generally?

And here's my favorite part.  Despite the Republican party's callous attitude toward life in myriad contexts including war, health care, criminal justice, and poverty, it's the Democratic position of allowing women to choose whether to abort an embryo or fetus that amounts to embracing death:

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, recently transferred to Rome from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, declared the Democrats “the party of death.” Bishop Robert J. Hermann, the church’s interim leader in St. Louis until a successor to Archbishop Burke is named, invoked “Judgment Day” a half-dozen times in a column leaving no doubt that Catholics should decide their vote on the basis of abortion alone.

November 8, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Samantha Bee on Abortion and Women's "Health"

If you were so unfortunate as to miss this gem, as I was, enjoy (and rejoice that John McCain was not elected President).  Daily Show (10/28):

November 8, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 7, 2008

How Will the Election Affect the Anti-Choice Movement's Goal of Overturning Roe?

I spoke to another reporter yesterday about the South Dakota ban.  His question was what the defeats on the Colorado and South Dakota ballot initiatives meant for the anti-abortion-rights movement's goal of bringing a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.  Bloomberg News, Advocacy Groups Undone by Outsiders in Abortion Vote, by Jerry Hart:

That possibility [of a direct challenge to Roe] was set back by the twin defeats, said Caitlin E. Borgmann, an associate professor at the City University of New York School of Law.

``Advocates looking to mount a direct challenge to Roe were dealt a one-two punch,'' Borgmann said in an interview. ``One, the measures didn't pass. Two, Obama said he won't appoint justices that favor overturning the law, so the anti- abortionists don't have much near-term prospect.''

Retiring Justices

President-elect Barack Obama will probably have to replace at least two retiring Supreme Court justices in his first four- year term, Borgmann said. John Paul Stevens is 88 years old and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75. David Souter may also retire. He is 69.

Borgmann described the court, which has kept Roe v. Wade intact for 35 years, as having a ``fragile majority favoring the right to abortion but that would allow many restrictions.''

``Four justices think Roe is bad and four think restrictions are getting out of hand, and there's Kennedy in the middle,'' she said, referring to Justice Anthony Kennedy. ``So far, he has voted to uphold the basic right to abortion.''

In the article, Leslee Unruh, a key lobbyist for the ban, denies that its ultimate purpose was to invite the Court to overturn Roe.  Yet two attorneys and architects of the South Dakota strategy openly discussed their plans in a memo in which they describe the ban as "the best [opportunity] we may have to overturn Roe for the next ten to fifteen years."

November 7, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion Bans, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Supporters of Stem Cell Research Buoyed by Obama's Election

MSNBC Commentary: Obama election signals change in stem cell fight, by Arthur Caplan:

Stem_cell ‘Change’ was the horse that Barack Obama’s presidential campaign rode to victory. Indeed the 2008 election will be remembered not only for Obama becoming the first African-American president, but also for its impact on core bioethical topics that have long dominated American domestic politics....

The past eight years of the Bush White House have seen stem cell research and the status of embryos at the center of the moral values debate. Obama’s election has brought the fight over embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. to an end.

See also: LA Times: Obama victory delights stem-cell researchers

November 6, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Election a Victory for Reproductive Justice

Barack Obama's historic victory is also a stunning victory for reproductive justice.  Voters both for and against the right to abortion threw their support to Obama because he is the candidate who is most serious about reducing unintended pregnancies and about insuring that women have access to the full range of reproductive health services and can make healthy, informed choices in all of their reproductive decisionmaking.  The election of Obama will also almost certainly ensure that, at least in the near term, the Supreme Court does not slip from the current, fragile 5-4 majority willing to uphold the remaining shreds of Roe v. Wade.

Here's an RH Reality Check post, by Brady Swenson, on Why So Many "Pro-Life" Catholics Backed Obama.

November 5, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Abortion and the Election: "The Silent Issue"

Newsweek: The Silent Issue, by Lisa Miller:

Abortion hasn't been a central debate in the 2008 campaign. But that doesn't mean that its opponents feel any less strongly about it.

It's abortion, stupid. For conservative Christians in this election the most important religious issue isn't gay marriage, stem-cell research or Christmas trees on courthouse lawns. It is abortion (as it has been for at least the past 35 years, since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade). When they walk into the voting booth on Tuesday, can they look beyond their fundamental, conscience-driven opposition to abortion as a moral evil? Do they want to? If yes, they may vote for Sen. Barack Obama. If not, they will, despite any reservations, vote for Sen. John McCain.

November 4, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Palin's Coded Language Speaks to Anti-Choice Voters

Washington Independent: Palin’s Coded Anti-Abortion Support, by Laura McGann:

During Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s last swing through battleground states this week, boisterous supporters cheer almost on cue when she delivers her stump speech.

Few lines get a more deep-felt roar of approval than her signature issue — support for children with disabilities.

Palin’s words strike deeper than just with parents who come to her rallies because one of their children has a disability.

Social conservatives cheer when Palin talks about the value of all children because her words are a subtle but clear signal of her staunch anti-abortion views. She talks about special-needs education in words and phrases generally associated with the anti-abortion movement, effectively reminding anti-abortion voters that she shares and supports their view.

The story references this blog:

Caitlin E. Borgmann, a professor at the City University of New York’s Law School who writes the Reproductive Rights Prof blog, says “special code words” and euphemisms have served anti-abortion activists well.

After the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade in 1973, the anti-abortion movement aimed to reduce access to abortion incrementally rather than by an outright ban.

Campaigns targeted seemingly narrow goals, including laws requiring 24-hour waiting periods or parental notification before a woman, or woman under 18, could undergo an abortion.

Anti-abortion voters tend to be more conscious of the broader strategy, while pro-abortion rights voters tend to see such initiatives as discrete measures.

November 3, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Future of the Supreme Court and Its Impact on Abortion Rights

USA Today: Abortion Debate Central for Some Voters, by Joan Biskupic:

Justice John McCain's and Barack Obama's dueling statements on abortion rights have ratcheted up debate over the future of Roe v. Wade at a time when the Supreme Court could be at a crossroads on the 1973 decision that made abortion legal nationwide.

A five-justice majority appears ready to reaffirm the decision. That is a change from national election cycles in the past decade-and-a-half when at least six justices, including now-retired Sandra Day O'Connor, supported abortion rights. A single court appointee could decide whether abortion laws become more restrictive or more permissive and whether Roe v. Wade remains the law.

In the last week of the campaign, that point is not lost on advocates in the abortion debate.

"This is a historic election," says Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. "With the next president having the opportunity to appoint one, two or even more justices," she adds, the election could change the law "on the life issue."

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says: "The public gets it. They have seen it in recent cases. They see it with John McCain, who has been far more specific about the overturning of Roe than George Bush was" in the 2000 election.

The abortion controversy looms over state elections, too, in South Dakota, Colorado and California, where ballot measures propose to ban or limit abortion. South Dakota's proposal is the most restrictive, seeking to outlaw abortion except for cases of rape, incest and serious threat to the woman's health. If approved, it could become a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

NPR Examines McCain's, Obama's Views on Judicial Appointments:

In a two-part series, NPR's "All Things Considered" looked at how judicial appointments by the next President could change the balance of the Supreme Court. Summaries appear below.

Npr McCain Presidency: Unless some younger members of the court's conservative majority retire or die unexpectedly, conservatives will keep their upper hand on most issues before the court. However, if McCain is elected president, the Supreme Court will "likely become yet more conservative" and "conservatives will solidify their control for another generation," NPR reports. Two vacancies -- the spots currently occupied by liberal justices John Paul Stevens and David Souter -- are widely expected in the next few years. Because the departing justices are from the "liberal wing" of the court "replacing them with liberals wouldn't make any difference, at least in terms of generic vote counting," NPR reports. Conservative appointments to replace Stevens and Souter "would strengthen the conservative majority to six to three or seven to two," NPR reports. In addition, conservative appointments would mean that the conservative majority would not have to rely on Kennedy to support them, nor would they have to moderate conservative opinions to appease Kennedy (Totenberg, "All Things Considered," NPR, 10/29).

Obama Presidency: Brad Berenson -- a former associate White House counsel under the current Bush administration who also worked with Obama as an editor at the Harvard Law Review -- said Obama's knowledge of the courts is greater than McCain's, NPR reports. Berenson said Obama "has thought far more about courts and constitutional issues than [McCain] has, and that may mean that a President Obama takes more personal interest and more of a personal hand in his judicial appointments than a President McCain would." Obama's views on Constitutional law, as expressed in his book "The Audacity of Hope," give insight into how he would view appointments to the Supreme Court, NPR reports, adding that in the book he argues that the "Constitution speaks in generalities that cannot tell us what the founders would have thought about modern dilemmas" (Totenberg, "All Things Considered," NPR, 10/30).

November 3, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Masculinity and the Presidential Election

Women's E-News Commentary: New Brand of Masculinity Wins the Pro-Change Vote, by Rob Okun:

Male_sign In the waning days of the presidential campaign, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are the leads in a gripping national drama about masculinity.

McCain has replaced George Bush as the standard bearer for conventional manhood: stubborn, controlling, shoot-from-the-hip, inflexible. John Wayne would be proud of his performance, from his sneering, angry attacks on Obama's character (labeling him either a Marxist or a socialist who is the enemy of every Joe the Plumber in the country) to his Marlboro Man response over the perilous financial calamity (blustering that he was single-handedly "suspending" his campaign to rush back to Washington to handle the economic crisis)...

Obama offers quite a contrast. In scores of newspaper endorsements, editors have described him as sensitive, thoughtful, composed and collaborative. All this reflects a new brand of masculinity. Obama's gains in the polls as the economic situation worsens suggest voters prefer his "let's stay calm" approach to the financial crisis than the McCain-Palin fear-mongering attempts to frighten voters with charges the Illinois senator is a closet socialist who wants "to spread the wealth around."

November 3, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Culture, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Abortion Not Primary Concern for Catholic Voters

Houston Chronicle: Abortion not main issue for Catholics, by Barbara Karkabi:

Abortion is not the most important issue for the majority of Roman Catholic voters, according to a new poll released by Zogby International.

Less than a third of Catholic voters — 29 percent — vote solely on abortion issues, according to the LeMoyne College/Zogby International Contemporary Catholic Trends project. Those who do tend to vote for the anti-abortion candidate.

November 2, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Palin Refuses to Call Abortion Clinic Bombers "Terrorists"

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.

October 25, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Palin "Great Uniter" for Pro-Choice Movement

Stumper (Newsweek): How Sarah Palin Has Helped Pro-Choice Activists, by Sarah Kliff:

Palin3_2 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

October 24, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)