May 13, 2013
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Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation. . . .
May 06, 2013
El Salvadoran Woman Petitions for Right to Life-Saving Abortion
Feministing: We already lost Savita in Ireland. Don't let Beatriz die in El Salvador., by Juliana Britto Schwartz:
You all remember Savita Halappanavar, right? Well, the world is looking at another Savita right now, and the only thing standing between her and life is a group of Salvadoran politicians.
Savita Halappanavar was a pregnant woman living in Ireland who was denied a life-saving abortion because her doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat and were therefore required by law not to terminate the pregnancy. She died of blood poisoning while her husband watched.
“Beatriz” is 22 years old, 18 weeks pregnant with an anencephalic fetus (meaning that the fetus will not survive outside of the womb), and suffering life-threatening pregnancy complications. However, Beatriz lives in El Salvador, one of the rare countries in which abortion is illegal under all circumstances, including threat to the mother’s life. . . .
May 01, 2013
Irish Government Proposes Measure to Allow Life-Saving Abortions
The New York Times: Irish Proposal Would Allow Abortions in Emergencies, by Douglas Dalby:
The Irish government proposed legislation late Tuesday night that, if approved as expected, would allow abortions in cases where a threat existed to a woman’s life, including from suicide. . . .
CNN: Ireland's government puts forward draft abortion bill, by Laura Smith-Spark & Peter Taggart:
Proposed new legislation won't change Ireland's general ban on abortion, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Wednesday, but is about "saving lives" when pregnant women are in danger.
Ireland's government published the controversial draft measure late Tuesday to clarify what happens when there's a threat to the mother's life, including a risk of suicide. . . .
April 15, 2013
Shakira Maxwell on Reproductive Rights in Jamaica
Shakira Maxwell (The University of the West Indies) has posted Fighting a Losing Battle? Defending Women's Reproductive Rights in Twenty-First Century Jamaica on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Since 1975, the
Government of Jamaica has acknowledged that the practice of unsafe abortions
and high rates of maternal mortality in the island are a significant public
health problem affecting women. Unfortunately, any attempt to focus on this
issue through legal reform has often been sidelined by both religious and moral
groups. In 2008 the issue came back on the Government’s agenda, however once
more, the public discourse has been sidelined away from the main issues
concerns women’s health. As a result, many women in the island continue to face
health complications as a result of unsafe abortions which are practiced under
unhealthy and unsanitary conditions.
This paper will examine the most recent aspects of the debate on the legalization of abortion in Jamaica. It will also highlight the recommendations of the Abortion Policy Review (APR) Group which reviewed health implications in Jamaica and assessed existing laws in the wider Caribbean on abortion and conditions thereof. Using feminist analysis it will also explore the challenges faced by those arguing for legislative reform on abortion services in Jamaica within the larger framework of reproductive health and rights.
April 12, 2013
Husband of Indian Woman Who Died After Being Denied an Abortion in Ireland Comments on InquestThe Guardian: Praveen Halappanavar: abortion inquest is tough but I feel vindicated, by Henry McDonald:
Husband of Indian dentist who died after being refused an abortion says he looks forward to 'bright days ahead'
After a week listening to often harrowing testimony about how his wife pleaded with doctors for an emergency abortion, Praveen Halappanavar has said the inquest into her death has vindicated his version of events surrounding her final moments last autumn. . . .
April 04, 2013
NGOs Challenge Speech-Related Conditions Placed on Federal Funds for Global HIV/AIDS Prevention
SCOTUSblog - SCOTUS for law students: SCOTUS for law students: Prostitution and Free Speech, by Stephen Wermiel:
Prostitution seems like an unlikely topic for a battle over freedom of speech, but that is precisely the focus of an important case to be argued in late April that tests the limits of the federal government’s ability to attach conditions to federal spending.
The case is Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, Inc., to be argued on April 22.
The dispute involves a challenge by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to regulations implementing a federal law that provides funds to help combat the spread of HIV and AIDS throughout the world. . . .
March 16, 2013
The Costs of the Catholic Church's Opposition to Contraception
MSNBC: The Catholic Church’s costly stance on contraception, by Meredith Clark:
The election of Pope Francis on Wednesday has reignited the discussion about the future of the Catholic Church and whether it will address the ever-growing gap between doctrine and modern society. The cost of its intransigence is not simply a moral one; the church’s anti-contraception stance has a major economic impact for its 1.2 billion members, both in the developing world and the U.S. . . .
March 07, 2013
Does Arkansas's 12-Week Abortion Ban Resemble European Regulation of Abortion?
The Atlantic: Arkansas Just Adopted a French-Style Abortion Policy, by Garance Franke-Ruta:
The state's new law restricting abortions to the first 12 weeks is blatantly unconstitutional -- and not that different from what a lot of European nations have in place.
One of the great ironies of American abortion-rights law is that it is one of the few areas of social regulation where America is to the left of Europe. The latest explosion in one of the laboratories of democracy is a piece of legislation in Arkansas outlawing abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy, which passed this week when the Republican legislature overruled the gubernatorial veto of Democrat Mike Beebe. . . .
International Women's Day: Women's Global Health Still at Risk
The Huffington Post: International Women's Day 2013: 7 Sadly Disturbing Truths About Women's Bodies (HOW YOU CAN HELP), by Eleanor Goldberg:
On International Women’s Day, we have a number of groundbreaking accomplishments to celebrate. This year alone, women in the U.S. won the right to serve on the front lines in combat and President Obama inched closer to pushing for equal pay for men and women.
Global health for women has also seen some major boons, too. The number of mothers who die during childbirth has been reduced by almost 50 percent and HIV drug prices have fallen by more than 99 percent since 2000.
But we’re not done fighting yet. . . .
March 06, 2013
Israeli Health Official Calls for Investigation into Reported Forced Contraception on Ethiopian Immigrant Women
TIME: Did Israeli Doctors Force Contraception on Ethiopian Immigrants?, by Sorcha Pollak:
Israeli Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has called for an investigation into the reported administering of Depo-Provera contraceptive shots to Ethiopian immigrant women without consent. . .
February 27, 2013
Atli Stannard on Criminalization of Failure to Disclose HIV-Positive Status in Canada
Atli Stannard has posted When Failure to Disclose HIV-Positive Status Vitiates Consent to Sex in Canada on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
A number of
jurisdictions have grappled with a particularly difficult question in respect
of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): when does failure to disclose that
one is HIV-positive, combined with engaging in otherwise consensual sexual
relations, make that act of engagement in sex a criminal offence?
In two recent cases, the Supreme Court of Canada examined this question. The cases ultimately turned on rather different matters, but were heard in tandem. This case note focuses first on Mabior, then outlines its “sister case” of D.C. Together, they provide a good understanding of the current Canadian approach to the criminalisation of exposure to HIV without disclosure – treating it as a sexual offence, rather than an offence against the person. The case note draws out the "Williams Paradox" and the use of statistics in the cases. It compares the Canadian approach to that in England and Wales, Australia, and New Zealand. . . .
February 25, 2013
Martin Hevia and Carlos Vacaflor on In Vitro Fertilization in Latin America and the American Convention on Human Rights
Martin Hevia (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella – School of Law) and Carlos Herrara Vacaflor have posted The Legal Status of In Vitro Fertilization in Latin America and the American Convention on Human Rights on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In Latin America, Costa Rica is the only country in the region that absolutely bans access to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In 2000, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica, invoking article 4.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, the fundamental legal document of the Inter-American system of human rights recognized the embryos’ right to life. The Constitutional Chamber held that given the great possibility that the embryos would be discarded, IVF should be completely prohibited insofar as it violates the right to life.
Recently, in the 2010 report “Gretel Artavia Murillo and others v. Costa Rica,”
the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) concluded that completely
prohibiting access to IVF in Costa Rica is incompatible with the ACHR. The
commission ruled that the Costa Rica Constitutional Chamber’s decision to
establish a total ban on access to IVF constitutes an arbitrary interference
and is a restriction incompatible with the exercise of the rights of private
and family life and the right to form a family — enshrined in articles 11 and
17 of the ACHR. It also held that impeding access to IVF is discriminatory
since it constitutes a burden for a specific societal group: infertile women.
Because Costa Rica had not complied with the IACHR recommendation to lift the
ban on access to IVF, the Commission brought the case before the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights, which is now ready to listen to the parties and resolve
A propos the Commission’s report and as a prelude to the debate that will take place before the IACtHR, this paper analyzes the legal regimen on the process of IVF. In order to do so, it will critically evaluate the core of the IACHR report, and from this, determine the extent of the right to privacy and the right to life in these Latin American countries. This task is indispensable to observing whether the current legal status of IVF, in Costa Rica and other countries in the region, is consistent with the ACHR.
February 19, 2013
UN Report Condemns Surgeries on Intersex Children
Feminist Majority Foundation: UN Condemns "Normalization" Surgeries of Intersex Children:
Last week the United Nations released a report condemning the practice of performing "normalization" surgeries on intersex children.
The Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) to the United Nation's Human Rights Council submitted a report to the General Assembly that addressed the practice of surgically altering children born with ambiguous genitalia.According to the report [PDF], "Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, 'in an attempt to fix their sex', leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering.". . .
February 16, 2013
Maneesha Deckha on Legislating Respect for the Embryo in Canada
Maneesha Deckha (University of Victoria – Faculty of Law) has posted Legislating Respect: A Pro-Choice Feminist Analysis of Embryo Research Restrictions in Canada on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This article investigates the impact of legislating respect and dignity for the embryo in vitro on the legal and cultural status of the embryo in utero. It evaluates the restrictions on embryo re-search in Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) to consider whether they should receive pro-choice feminist support. Specifically, the article explores whether it is possible for feminists to accord respect to the in vitro embryo, as the AHRA attempts to do, without jeopardizing sup-port for abortion. The article canvasses the theoretical possibilities of this position by comparing the compatibility of feminist articulations of a right to abortion (bodily integrity and equality) with feminist arguments against the expansive use of embryos in research (commodification and exploitation). The article argues that it is logically compatible for feminists to promote “respect” and “dignity” for in vitro embryos while maintaining a pro-choice position on abortion. The article nevertheless cautions against feminist support for AHRA as it currently stands given that, on a practical basis, a feminist understanding of the AHRA’s restricted embryo research regime is difficult to achieve in the public sphere. The article explains why the more likely result for the public sphere will be an unqualified discourse of respect and dignity for embryos in general, which could then problematically revive the abortion debate and destabilize the non-personhood status of the in utero embryo. As a remedy, the article provides recommendations for how AHRA should be amended so as to better ensure that legislative restrictions on embryo research signal a legislative intent that respects women’s reproductive autonomy.
Eoin Carolan on Ireland and Abortion
The recent death of a
woman from septicaemia following a miscarriage has focused attention on the
legal regime regulating the carrying out of abortions within Ireland. The point
of this piece is not to discuss the merits of the current controversy but
instead to provide some brief background to Ireland’s constitutional position
and to identify some of the aspects of the current regime that have given rise
to particular difficulties: an exercise which may have wider significance,
given the recent trend in various American states to follow the Irish approach
of conferring constitutional protection on the unborn.
The piece considers whether the Irish experience suggests that the ‘resolution’ of a controversial issue at the constitutional level may discourage political action by providing sufficient legal authority, however imprecise, to make legislative inaction a viable, if inefficient, option.
The piece was originally posted on the I-Connect blog.
February 13, 2013
Abortion Still Criminalized and Unsafe in Most of Latin America
The Guardian: Latin America still a bastion of draconian anti-abortion laws, by Annie Kelly:
The region has the world's highest rate of unsafe abortions, and pro-choice activists are not only up against the law, but also have to convince health professionals
In 2007, a battle was won in the bitter fight to decriminalise abortion in Latin America when Mexico City passed groundbreaking legislation that allowed any woman to access abortion on request up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.
Latin America remains a bastion of draconian anti-abortion legislation, where the termination of a pregnancy is almost universally considered a criminal act. . . .
February 11, 2013
Abortion Rights Opponents Praise Departing Pope for Anti-Abortion Stance
The Hill: Tributes to pope highlight abortion stance, by Elise Viebeck:
The outgoing pope won praise Monday for his outspoken teachings against abortion, an issue that has divided U.S. Catholics for decades.
The deeply conservative Pope Benedict XVI "unified Catholics," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York in a statement Monday. . . .
Anti-Abortion Sentiment Declines in BritainThe Guardian: Anti-abortion feelings declining – poll, by Ben Quinn:
Survey finds that percentage of population wanting ban on abortion has fallen from 12% in 2005 to 7% today
Anti-abortion sentiment in Britain is declining, according to a YouGov poll which also found that support for keeping or even relaxing the current 24-week limit on terminations is on the rise. . . .
February 10, 2013
Malawi's New President Committed to Reducing Maternal Mortality
The New York Times - Opinionator: Malawi's Leader Makes Safe Childbirth Her Mission, by Courtney E. Martin:
Malawi is a country of rolling hills and marshy flatlands, where 85 percent of the population live in the countryside, most subsisting on less than $2 per person per day, typically from corn and tobacco farming. It is also a country with extremely high maternal mortality. In the U.S., 1 in 2,400 women are at risk of dying while giving birth over the course of their lives; in Malawi, it is 1 out of 36. If the country’s new president, Joyce Banda, has her way, that will soon change. . . .
February 01, 2013
Landmark Decision Establishing Right to Abortion in Canada Marks 25th Anniversary
The Torontoist: R v. Morgentaler, 25 Years Later, by Todd Aalgaard:
Key figures in the trial of Henry Morgentaler reflect on the evolution of social justice in Canada.
When police raided Henry Morgentaler’s Harbord Street clinic in July, 1983, no doors were kicked in. “There was a policewoman and a policeman undercover who had booked an appointment,” Dr. Robert Scott recalls, addressing a packed hall at the University of Toronto Tuesday night, at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision decriminalizing abortion. . . .