The new law is in response to a case last year where a 17-year-old pregnant girl paid a man $150 to beat her in hopes of inducing a miscarriage. A judge ruled there was no law on Utah's books allowing the mother to be charged with a crime.
The bill's original version drew national headlines because it allowed criminal charges if the mother's behavior was "reckless." That raised concerns that a mother who fell on the ice or was an avid jogger and suffered a miscarriage could be charged with a crime.
Herbert balked at signing that language and the bill's sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, quickly revised the legislation to remove the word "reckless."
Herbert vetoed the original legislation, HB12, Monday -- his first veto as a governor -- and signed the revised version, HB462. . . .
March 12, 2010
Universal Health Care Would Lead to Lower Abortion Rates
Wash. Post: Universal health care tends to cut the abortion rate, by T.R. Reid:
Countless arguments have been advanced for and against the pending bills to increase health-care coverage. Both sides have valid concerns, which makes the battle tight. But one prominent argument is illogical. The contention that opponents of abortion should oppose the current proposals to expand coverage simply doesn't make sense.
This is not a coincidence. There's a direct connection between greater health coverage and lower abortion rates. To oppose expanded coverage in the name of restricting abortion gets things exactly backward. . . .
Amnesty International Decries Doubling of Maternal Deaths in U.S.
CNN: Doubling of maternal deaths in U.S. 'scandalous,' rights group says, by Stephanie Smith:
Deaths from pregnancy and childbirth in the United States have doubled in the past 20 years, a development that a human rights group called "scandalous and disgraceful" Friday.
In addition, the rights group said, about 1.7 million women a year, one-third of pregnant women in the United States, suffer from pregnancy-related complications.
Most of the deaths and complications occur among minorities and women living in poverty, it noted.
Amnesty International issued a report Friday that calls on President Obama to take action. . . .
Study Suggests Birth Control Pill Lowers Risk of Death
Time: Can the birth control pill help you live longer?, by Tiffany O'Callaghan:
Women who have taken the pill may live longer because they face less risk of heart disease and cancer, according to new study led by Dr. Philip Hannaford from Scotland's University of Aberdeen. The study, published this week in the British Medical Journal, followed more than 46,000 female patients from 1,400 medical practices throughout the U.K. for up to 39 years. They found that, women who had taken oral contraception at some point in their lives had a lower risk of death from any cause compared with those who had never taken the pill.
Women who had used oral contraception had lower rates of death due to all forms of cancer, including uterine, ovarian and bowel cancers. Additionally, those who had taken the pill had significantly lower rates of death due to heart disease or stroke. Oddly, and inexplicably, researchers did find that women who used the pill tended to have higher rates of violent death. . . .
Anti-Abortion Religious Leaders Express Satisfaction with Abortion Language in Senate Health Care Bill
With the House moving toward a final health-care vote, the White House circulated Friday night a letter from Catholic and evangelical leaders that refutes claims that the Senate health-care bill could lead to the federal funding of abortion coverage.
Certain antiabortion advocates are demanding that Congress enact tougher restrictions, contained within a health-care bill passed by the House. Their efforts have proven influential with Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich), who also oppose abortion; they have threatened to vote against the Senate bill when it reaches the House floor, likely late next week.
But Democratic leaders are constrained from changing the Senate language and are seeking to reassure Stupak and his allies that their concerns are unwarranted. . . .
"Abortion Tweeter" Recounts Bizarre Religious Upbringing
Double X (Slate Magazine): The Bizarre Religious Roots of the Abortion Tweeter, by Kathryn Joyce:
From home birth to home abortion.
Angie Jackson, the Florida mother now known as the abortion tweeter, isn't the first woman to try to demystify abortion by talking about her story publicly. Since Romper Room personality Sherri Chessen got a very public abortion in 1962 after taking thalidomide, women have tried to erase the lingering shame of abortion by publicizing their own. Author Jennifer Baumgardner recently started the "I had an abortion" T-shirt project. A forthcoming Web site, ShareWithThree.org, urges women to "come out" to three friends about their abortions.
Jackson's innovation was to use Twitter and YouTube to detail her experience with the drug RU-486 and thus expose her personal life to assault and dissection. . . .
Jackson, whose special-needs son was born after a grueling 98-hour delivery, says her motivation is to counter the stories of regret the anti-abortion movement has cultivated in recent years. As the controversy continues, one of the most interesting—and motivating—parts of her narrative has been largely overlooked: her intimate connection with a religious movement—one she now calls a cult—that glorified fertility and childbirth and demonized medical intervention even when mothers' labors were going very wrong. . . .
Mobile "Clinics" Try to Dissuade Women from Choosing Abortion
LA Times: A drive to fight abortion
Pastor Dave Wilkinson of Simi Valley runs weekly mobile clinics in Watts and elsewhere, offering free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, prayers and counseling.
Wilkinson, a 55-year-old Simi Valley resident with a gray beard and a calm manner, said God answered his prayers with a directive to "go where the battle is." So last September, he brought his work to Watts.
Every Tuesday since then, Wilkinson and a handful of like-minded Christians have driven into the city in a donated motor home equipped with an ultrasound machine and parked it near the Imperial Courts housing project. . . .
Blogosphere in Uproar Over Breast-Milk Cheese
The Check-Up (Wash. Post): What's the big deal about breast-milk cheese?, by Jennifer LaRue Huget:
Much as I love a pun, I plan to distinguish myself from the other bloggers who have written in the past few days about the New York City chef who made cheese from his wife's breast milk by refraining from using terms such as keeping "abreast" of the news.
According to Angerer, he got the idea to make breast-milk cheese when his wife's milk supply proved more than ample for feeding their month-old daughter. As the freezer grew fuller, the couple looked into donating to a milk bank. That process, they learned, takes some time, as the donor needs to be screened to make sure her milk is safe for others to consume.
In the meantime, Angerer, who says he is preparing to open a cheese restaurant, figured he'd see what kind of cheese mother's milk would make. It took some effort to turn two gallons of his wife's milk into serviceable cheese, as human milk doesn't curdle and needs added ingredients to help it along the path to cheesehood. He documented the whole process in great detail on his blog. . . .
Still, the blogosphere has been in a predictable uproar. Angerer, no stranger to publicity, notes that, "As soon as a boob is involved here in America, it seems to become sexual." . . .
March 10, 2010
New York Times Editorial on New Attacks on Reproductive Freedom
NY Times Editorial: Laws, Lies, and the Abortion Debate:
It has been three years since the Supreme Court’s conservative majority abruptly departed from precedent to uphold a federal ban on a particular method of abortion. Emboldened, foes of reproductive freedom are pressing new attacks on women’s rights and health. . . .
The obvious goal here is to present the Supreme Court with a new vehicle for further watering down Roe v. Wade. That is troubling enough, but lately another tactic is being deployed to demonize abortion and abortion providers and further polarize the nation.
Citing the disproportionately high number of African-American women who undergo abortions, for example, abortion foes are hurling baseless charges of genocide and racial discrimination..
Even in this charged debate, phony accusations of genocide should be out of bounds, but political forces that oppose abortion are pursuing a focused, often successful campaign. Americans who support women’s reproductive rights need to make their voices heard. . . .
Sexual Assaults on Female Soldiers Are on the Rise
Time Magazine: Sexual Assaults on Female Soldiers: Don't Ask, Don't Tell
What does it tell us that female soldiers deployed overseas stop drinking water after 7 p.m. to reduce the odds of being raped if they have to use the bathroom at night? Or that a soldier who was assaulted when she went out for a cigarette was afraid to report it for fear she would be demoted — for having gone out without her weapon? Or that, as Representative Jane Harman puts it, "a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire."
The fight over "Don't ask, don't tell" made headlines this winter as an issue of justice and history and the social evolution of our military institutions. We've heard much less about another set of hearings in the House Armed Services Committee. Maybe that's because too many commanders still don't ask, and too many victims still won't tell, about the levels of violence endured by women in uniform. (See TIME's special report on the state of the American woman.)
The Pentagon's latest figures show that nearly 3,000 women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9% from the year before; among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number rose 25%. When you look at the entire universe of female veterans, close to a third say they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving — twice the rate in the civilian population. (See the top 10 crime stories of 2009.)
The problem is even worse than that. The Pentagon estimates that 80% to 90% of sexual assaults go unreported, and it's no wonder. Anonymity is all but impossible; a Government Accountability Office report concluded that most victims stay silent because of "the belief that nothing would be done; fear of ostracism, harassment, or ridicule; and concern that peers would gossip." More than half feared they would be labeled troublemakers. . . .
While this article addresses a crucial issue in pointing out the prevalence of sexual assaults on female soldiers, once again a major news outlet publishes a story about difficulties faced by female soldiers without mentioning the directly relevant issue of abortion. (Here's another example from the New York Times.) The article should have mentioned that a female soldier who becomes pregnant as a result of rape must pay for her own abortion, even if it is performed on a military base. See more on abortion access in the U.S. military at this post.
Utah Bill Becomes Law: A Woman Who Arranges an Illegal Abortion May Be Charged With HomicideSalt Lake City Tribune: Guv signs revised abortion bill
March 10 Is National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers
Via the National Abortion Federation:
March 10 was set aside in 1996 as the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers to commemorate the 1993 assassination of Dr. David Gunn, the first provider murdered by an anti-abortion extremist. This month, and especially today, we pause to honor the men and women who put their lives at risk to make reproductive choice a reality.
Despite great personal sacrifice, abortion providers remain dedicated to protecting the lives and health of women by providing them with quality abortion care. There aren’t many professions that would require a person to deal with such threats and harassment, and the men and women who brave this path are truly heroes.Show your support for these courageous health care professionals by making a donation to NAF in their honor.
NAF members include providers at private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, hospitals, and physicians’ offices who together care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.Make a donation today to honor your local abortion provider or someone who has touched your life, and we will send an acknowledgment card to the honoree to let them know about your tribute.
D.C. Gives Away Free Female Condoms to Help Fight HIV/AIDS
Wash. Post: D.C. to be first U.S. city to give away free female condoms to fight HIV/AIDS
The District will become the first city in the United States to distribute female condoms free, part of a project that will make 500,000 of them available in beauty salons, convenience stores and high schools in parts of the city with high HIV rates.
City officials said the distribution could begin within the next three weeks in parts of wards 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7, where a study showed that large numbers of African American heterosexuals engage in risky sexual behavior that could easily lead to infection.
The move is an official acknowledgment of the futility of relying solely on the use of male condoms, which have been distributed citywide for nearly a decade, to stem the District's epidemic of HIV and AIDS. Officials said they are turning to female condoms to give women more power to protect themselves from HIV and sexually transmitted diseases when their partners refuse to use protection. . . .
State Legislatures Churning Out Proposals to Punish or Burden Pregnant Women
Huffington Post: Caution: Pregnancy May Be Hazardous to Your Liberty
While our country stands at a deadlock over legislation to ensure that millions of uninsured people have health care coverage, we can at least feel confident that some state legislators are hard at work, making it more difficult for women to access health care and much easier for states to put them, and the people who help them, in jail.
In Mississippi, legislators proposed a law, HB 695, which would make many forms of midwifery a crime. That is clearly bad for pregnant women and for babies for at least one very simple reason. As the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood pointed out after Hurricane Katrina, when hospitals shut down as a result of a disaster, midwives are among the few who know how to deliver babies without electronic fetal monitors, surgical theatres or epidurals. For this reason, the Alliance highlighted the need to protect (not criminalize) midwives who have the skills needed under such circumstances. . . .
New York City Subway System Flooded with New Anti-Abortion Ads
Metro (NY): Don't look now: You may not like the ads you see:
The 2,000 ads, which straphangers will see in nearly every subway station beginning tomorrow, depict either a woman saying, “I thought life would be the way it was before,” or a man saying, “I often wonder if there was something I could have done to help her.”
The ads haven’t been unveiled yet, but they’re already stirring up controversy, particularly from pro-choice organizations.
“The campaign suggests that feelings of sadness and self-harm are the universal experiences for someone who had an abortion,” said Samantha Levine of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. “And there’s no evidence to suggest that that’s true.”
“The organization behind these ads has an agenda,” continued Levine. “They aren’t seeking to help women — they’re seeking to get abortion banned.” . . .
March 8, 2010
Appignani Bioethics Center/UN Commission on the Status of Women: Panel on Reproductive and Sexual Rights
Under the auspices of
The UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
Women's reproductive and sexual rights crises: An update
Tuesday, March 9, 2010, 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
777 United Nations Plaza
10th floor - Conference Room (44th St. and 1st Ave.)
New York, NY 10017
Caitlin Borgmann, J.D., Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law
Charles Debrovner, M.D., Associate Director, Appignani Bioethics Center
Frances Kissling, Visiting Scholar, University of Pennsylvania
Frederick Licciardi, M.D., Associate Professor, NYU Langone Medical Center
Moderator: Ana Lita, Ph.D., Director, Appignani Bioethics Center
7:30-8:30pm: Cocktail reception following panel discussion, wine and cheese will be served. This event is open to the public at no charge.
To R.S.V.P. please contact: 212-687-3324 (Tel.) | 212-661-4188 (Fax) | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.humanistbioethics.org
DC Enacts Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples
NY Times: Gay Marriage Is Legal in U.S. Capital (Mar. 3), by Ian Urbina:
WASHINGTON — It was cold and drizzling outside the City Courthouse just after 6 a.m. on Wednesday, but no one seemed to mind among the same-sex couples waiting excitedly for the chance to apply for a marriage license. . . .Washington is now the sixth place in the nation where same-sex marriages can take place. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont also issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Despite failing in court, opponents of the law vowed to fight another day.
The law survived Congressional attempts to block it, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday rejected a request from opponents of gay marriage to have the United States Supreme Court put the new law on hold.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the measure into law in December, but because Washington is not a state, the law had to undergo Congressional review, which ended Tuesday. . . . .
Recent Scholarship on International Issues in Abortion and Other Reproductive Health Services
Suzanne Belton, et al.. have posted Attitudes Towards the Legal Context of Unsafe Abortion in Timor-Leste on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The new Penal Code in 2009 was an opportunity for Timor-Leste to allow some legal grounds for abortion, which was highly restricted under Indonesian rule. Public debate was contentious before ratification of the new code, which allowed abortion to save a woman’s life and health. A month later, 13 amendments to the code were passed, highly restricting abortion again. This paper describes the socio-legal context of unsafe abortion in Timor-Leste, based on research in 2006–08 on national laws and policies and interviews with legal professionals, police, doctors and midwives, and community-based focus group discussions. Data on unsafe abortions in Timor-Leste are rarely recorded. A small number of cases of abortion and infanticide are reported but are rarely prosecuted, due to deficiencies in evidence and procedure. While there are voices supporting law reform, the Roman Catholic church heavily influences public policy and opinion. Professional views on when abortion should be legal varied, but in the community people believed that saving women’s lives was paramount and came before the law. The revised Penal Code is insufficient to reduce unsafe abortion and maternal mortality. Change will be slow, but access to safe abortion and modern contraception are crucial to women’s ability to participate fully as citizens in Timor-Leste.
Joyce Kinaro, et al., have posted Unsafe Abortion and Abortion Care in Khartoum, Sudan on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Unsafe abortion in Sudan results in significant morbidity and mortality. This study of treatment for complications of unsafe abortion in five hospitals in Khartoum, Sudan, included a review of hospital records and a survey of 726 patients seeking abortion-related care from 27 October 2007 to 31 January 2008, an interview of a provider of post-abortion care and focus group discussions with community leaders. Findings demonstrate enormous unmet need for safe abortion services. Abortion is legally restricted in Sudan to circumstances where the woman's life is at risk or in cases of rape. Post-abortion care is not easily accessible. In a country struggling with poverty, internal displacement, rural dwelling, and a dearth of trained doctors, mid-level providers are not allowed to provide post-abortion care or prescribe contraception. The vast majority of the 726 abortion patients in the five hospitals were treated with dilatation and curettage (D&C), and only 12.3% were discharged with a contraceptive method. Some women waited long hours before treatment was provided; 14.5% of them had to wait for 5-8 hours and 7.3% for 9-12 hours. Mid-level providers should be trained in safe abortion care and post-abortion care to make these services accessible to a wider community in Sudan. Guidelines should be developed on quality of care and should mandate the use of manual vacuum aspiration or misoprostol for medical abortion instead of D&C.
Lidia C. Casas, et al., have posted Invoking Conscientious Objection in Reproductive Health Care: Evolving Issues in Peru, Mexico and Chile on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
As Latin American countries seek to guarantee sexual and reproductive health and rights, opponents of women's rights and reproductive choice have become more strident in their opposition, and are increasingly claiming conscientious objection to providing these services. Conscientious objection must be seen in the context of the rights and interests at stake, including women's health needs and right to self-determination. An analysis of law and policy on conscientious objection in Peru, Mexico and Chile shows that it is being used to erode women's rights, especially where it is construed to have no limits, as in Peru. Conscientious objection must be distinguished from politically-motivated attempts to undermine the law; otherwise, the still fragile re-democratisation processes underway in Latin America may be placed at risk. True conscientious objection requires that a balance be struck between the rights of the objector and the health rights of patients, in this case women. Health care providers are entitled to their beliefs and to have those beliefs accommodated, but it is neither viable nor ethically acceptable for conscientious objectors to exercise this right without regard for the right to health care of others, or for policy and services to be rendered ineffectual because of individual objectors.
Romeo B. Lee, et al., have posted The Influence of Local Policy on Contraceptive Provision and Use in Three Locales in the Philippines on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Philippines has a family planning programme, but modern contraceptive prevalence has been moderate. Among low-income women, fewer are using modern methods, resulting in a fertility rate among them of 5.9. This limited use is due to lack of consistent national and local government support for modern methods because of religious opposition. Following devolution of responsibility for health services to local government in 1991, three local leaders – in Laguna Province and the cities of Manila and Puerto Princesa – passed anti-modern contraceptive policies. This paper analyses the status and impact of these policies, using information from interviews with local government officials and family planning officers, published data and studies, and accounts in national newspapers. In Laguna Province and Puerto Princesa, the policies were ineffectually implemented or short-lived. The strictly-enforced Manila law, however, has severely disrupted the city's provision of free contraception to and method use by low-income women. The great majority of Filipinos (89%) approve of modern contraceptives. There is an urgent need to improve low-income women's access to modern contraceptives through itinerant and community-based distribution, especially in poor neighbourhoods in Manila, but also throughout the country. Strategies for increasing local government support for and provision of modern methods are also needed.
Darren Rosenblum on CEDAW's Misguided Focus on "Women"
This Article argues that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW” or the “Convention”) has failed to create equality for women or gender equality because its scope remains limited to women. CEDAW’s focus on women enshrines an understanding of sex as a binary of men/women and a consequent presumption of their relationship as perpetrator/victim. The Convention is also the preeminent treaty on gender inequality, and cannot succeed in creating gender equality if it continues to focus so narrowly and exclusively on women.Instead of focusing on “women” as part of a binary, CEDAW should seek the elimination of the categories themselves. CEDAW’s very title is its mistaken diagnosis. CEDAW’s focus on the category “women” reifies rather than undermines gender disparities. This Article argues that CEDAW should reframe its target to focus on sex or gender discrimination rather than women as its sole particular victims. CEDAW represents men as the comparator for women’s equality and the implicit perpetrator of their inequality. Rather than be in CEDAW’s periphery, men should be central, along with women, to any rectification of gender inequality. Beyond men, CEDAW should protect people of all genders. Gender or sex must replace the identitarian category of “women” in international law. This reinterpretation must occur for the future of this crucial international Convention.
Vaginal Births More Common at Navajo Nation Hospital in Arizona
NY Times: Lessons at Indian Hospital About Births, by Denise Grady:
TUBA CITY, Ariz. — After less than two hours in the maternity ward, with her boyfriend, his mother and a nurse-midwife by her side, Jacquelynn Torivio gave birth to a five-pound, five-ounce son with his grandmother’s dimples and a full head of shiny black hair.
As she held him, Ms. Torivio’s spirits clearly matched her Hopi name, Nuquahynum — “a feather flying high.”
It was the kind of birth that many women in the United States could only wish for. Ms. Torivio had a vaginal birth, even though her previous child had been delivered by Caesarean section. Because of that prior surgery, many hospitals would not have let her even try to give birth vaginally, but would have required another Caesarean.
The Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation is different. Its hospital, run by the Navajo Nation and financed partly by the Indian Health Service, prides itself on having a higher than average rate of vaginal births among women with a prior Caesarean, and a lower Caesarean rate over all. . . .
Thousands Protest Spain's New Law Easing Restrictions on Abortion
NY Times (Reuters): Madrid Anti-Abortion Protest Draws Thousands:
Well-heeled protesters, many accompanied by small children and bearing heart-shaped red balloons with the slogan "The Right to Live," marched for the second time in six months against the changes, due to become law in July.
Media estimated the crowds in the thousands. The previous march in October drew tens of thousands in one of the largest demonstrations since anti-war protests in 2003 and 2004. . . .