Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Commentary on Hobby Lobby

Balkinization: Religious Accommodations Cost More than Money, by Kara Loewentheil: 

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments in the consolidated cases ofHobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. With the publication of the full argument transcript online, it became clear that even the experienced lawyers arguing these cases – along with the Supreme Court Justices themselves – were struggling to understand how to think about the relationship between religious accommodations and third party rights. In this context, that means the impacts that accommodations granted to religious employers would have on their female employees who would otherwise have access to contraception without cost-sharing under the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement (and indirectly on their partners and children). 
 
This came as no surprise to me. In When Free Exercise Is A Burden: Protecting “Third Parties” In Religious Accommodation Law, a paper I authored that is shortly forthcoming in the Drake Law Review, I argue that neither scholars nor courts have thus far provided a satisfying account of how to balance free exercise rights against the impact of those rights on “third parties.” . . .
 
In my paper I argue that the contraceptive coverage requirement has an enormously important expressive element – it signifies a social and political commitment to women’s social and economic equality, and symbolizes an acceptance of social and shared responsibility for gender equality. . . .
 
 
Hobby Lobby is shaping up to be the most important free exercise of religion case the Supreme Court has heard in a very long time.    It’s also emerging as a key test for Justice Anthony Kennedy and his vision of individual liberty.  Will Justice Kennedy recognize that Hobby Lobby’s employees, who seek to protect their health and control their reproductive lives, are entitled to enjoy federal guarantees that safeguard women’s liberty and personal dignity by ensuring access to the full range of contraceptives? . . .

March 28, 2014 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

National Survey Shows Women Object to Religious Exemptions

Planned Parenthood: Women Voters' Reaction to Religious Exemptions, by Hart Research Associates:

Overview of Key Findings:

Our new national survey of 1,004 women voters between the ages of 18 and 55 shows that a large majority strongly object to the religious exemptions for corporations that are being sought in the Hobby Lobby case.

    • Women voters consistently and overwhelmingly disagree with the idea that corporations should be able to exempt themselves from observing laws because those laws violate their religious beliefs.
    • Women age 55 and younger specifically reject corporations’ claims that they should be exempted from covering prescription birth control in their health plans because of religious objections to contraception. 
    • Democrats and independents reject these claims overwhelmingly, while Republicans are divided evenly.
These findings—underscoring strong objections to religious exemptions for corporations—are consistent with other public polls on the topic that show that more than half of all voters oppose allowing employers to opt out of covering prescription birth control in their health plans as required under the Affordable Care Act. . . .

March 27, 2014 in Contraception, Public Opinion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 3, 2014

More Opinion on Hobby Lobby and the Vetoed Arizona Bill

The New York Times - opinion column: Arizona Did Us All a Favor, by Timothy Egan:

YOU’RE a fundamentalist Mormon — that is, the breakaway sect, not recognized by the main church, with a scary compound in Northern Arizona. Women wear long prairie dresses, men rule with an iron fist. You believe in a host of things that violate civil and even criminal law. But your beliefs are “sincerely held.” They come directly from God.

Until Gov. Jan Brewer joined the avalanche of sanity and vetoed Arizona’s so-called religious liberty bill, you may have found some protection in the law. The bill was a green light for bigotry. And indeed, the measure gave those with “sincerely held” religious beliefs the right to refuse service to perceived sinners.

But if you drill down on the logic that all but three of the state’s House Republican legislators tried to enshrine into law, you see a very un-American tenet at work — far beyond the implications for gays and lesbians. You can follow this strain of reasoning up to a pivotal case that will be heard later this month by the Supreme Court. . . .

March 3, 2014 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

U.N. Committee Report Blasts Vatican for Policies on Sexual Abuse and Attitudes on Sexuality, Contraception, and Abortion

VaticanThe Huffington Post/AP: UN Report Denounces Vatican For Sex Abuse And Stands On Contraception, Abortion And Homosexuality, by Nicole Winfield:

The Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a U.N. human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.

In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the U.N. committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed. . . .

February 6, 2014 in Abortion, Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexual Assault, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Potentially Broad Implications of a Supreme Court Ruling on the Contraception Mandate

SFGate: Supreme Court birth control ruling could ripple widely, by Bob Egelko:

If a corporate employer can refuse on religious grounds to provide workplace insurance for contraception, what about employers with religious objections to blood transfusions or vaccinations? Or those who believe in healing by prayer?

Those questions lurk below the surface of the challenge the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review to regulations in the new federal health care law requiring employers to make contraceptive coverage available to their employees. That mandate, two groups of corporate owners argue, violates their freedom of religion. . . .

December 7, 2013 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pope's Popularity Does Not Extend to Conservative U.S. Catholics

The New York Times: Conservative U.S. Catholics Feel Left Out of the Pope’s Embrace, Laurie Goodstein:

. . . In the eight months since he became pope, Francis has won affection worldwide for his humble mien and common touch. His approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding.

But not everyone is so enchanted. Some Catholics in the church’s conservative wing in the United States say Francis has left them feeling abandoned and deeply unsettled. On the Internet and in conversations among themselves, they despair that after 35 years in which the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, drew clear boundaries between right and wrong, Francis is muddying Catholic doctrine to appeal to the broadest possible audience. . . .

November 10, 2013 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Some Catholic Leaders Challenge Anti-Choice Advocates' Silence on Gun Deaths

The New York Times: In Fight Over Life, A New Call by Catholics, by Laurie Goodstein:

The March for Life in Washington on Friday renewed the annual impassioned call to end legalized abortion, 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision. But this year, some Roman Catholic leaders and theologians are asking why so many of those who call themselves “pro-life” have been silent, or even opposed, when it comes to controlling the guns that have been used to kill and injure millions of Americans. . . .

January 27, 2013 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NY Archbishop Promotes Sainthood for Social Activist Who Received Abortion, But Later Adopted Church's Position

The New York Times: In Hero of the Catholic Left, a Conservative Cardinal Sees a Saint, by Sharon Otterman:

Dorothy Day is a hero of the Catholic left, a fiery 20th-century social activist who protested war, supported labor strikes and lived voluntarily in poverty as she cared for the needy.

But Day has found a seemingly unlikely champion in New York’s conservative archbishop, CardinalTimothy M. Dolan, who has breathed new life into an effort to declare the Brooklyn native a saint. . . .

November 27, 2012 in Abortion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christian Conservatives See Need to Regroup Following Election

The New York Times: Christian Right Failed to Sway Voters on Issues, by Laurie Goodstein:

Christian conservatives, for more than two decades a pivotal force in American politics, are grappling with Election Day results that repudiated their influence and suggested that the cultural tide — especially on gay issues — has shifted against them.

They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights againstsame-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, and saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use. . . .

November 12, 2012 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Congress, Politics, Religion, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 24, 2012

D.C. Circuit Upholds Federal Funding of Stem Cell Research

NBC News: Court rules controversial stem cell research is legal, by Maggie Fox:

Stem cellThe federal government may continue to pay for controversial human embryonic stem cell research, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The three-judge panel says the government has correctly interpreted a law that bans the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos for research. The ruling is unlikely to put the issue to rest and one of the judges pleaded for Congress to make clear what the government should and should not be able to do. . . .

See also this story by the Associated Press.

August 24, 2012 in Congress, In the Courts, Religion, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Commentary on Why Many Religions Are Anti-Feminist

The Huffington Post (Blog): Why Religion Opposes Female Rights, by Nigel Barber:

Recently, the Catholic hierarchy moved to bring the Leadership Conference of Women Religious into line with orthodox Church teachings . This organization of American nuns had been in conflict with the Vatican over issues related to women's rights, including reproductive rights. The spectacle of an all-male task force being brought in to tell women what they must think may seem badly dated. Yet, male priests still tell most of the world's women what to think and their message is often anti-feminist. . . .

August 12, 2012 in Culture, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Congressman and Boxing Icon Pacquiao Opposes Philippines Reproductive Health Bill

The Wall Street Journal – blog: Manny Pacquiao Hits Out Against Contraception, by Shibani Mahtani:

 

When Philippine President Benigno Aquino pushed forward a controversial health bill yesterday that seeks to subsidize contraception in the predominantly Catholic country, he set himself up for possible criticism from more than just the country’s powerful Catholic church. Another likely foe: Boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

 

The famous athlete, who is also a congressman representing the Philippines district of Sarangani, has come out swinging against the idea of using state funds to make contraception more widely available in the country, which has one of the highest birth rates in Asia. . . .

August 7, 2012 in Contraception, International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

UN Urges Passage of Philippines Birth Control Bill, Opposed by Catholic Church

Philippines flagABC News: UN warns on Philippines birth law:

The United Nations is warning that failing to pass a controversial birth control law in the Philippines could reverse gains in development goals.

There has been considerable opposition from the Catholic church to the bill, which seeks to make it compulsory for the government to provide free contraceptives.

The UN Population Fund is hoping President Benigno Aquino's allies, who dominate the House of Representatives, can gather the numbers to pass the bill on Tuesday after years of debate. . . .

August 5, 2012 in Contraception, International, Poverty, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

German Court Bans Religious Circumcisions of Boys Too Young To Consent

The Chicago Tribune/Reuters: German court bans circumcision of young boys:

Jewish and Muslim groups protested on Wednesday after a German court banned the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons in the first ruling of its kind in the country.

The court in the western city of Cologne handed down the decision on Tuesday in the case of a doctor prosecuted for circumcising a four-year-old Muslim boy who had to be treated two days later for post-operative bleeding. . . .

June 27, 2012 in In the Courts, International, Men and Reproduction, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Presbyterian Minister Asks, "Would Jesus Have Said 'Vagina?'"

The Huffington Post: Would Jesus Have Said "Vagina?", by Bruce Reyes-Chow:

Okay, I am not preaching anywhere this Sunday, but feel free to "liberate" the idea, should you need a sermon starter. That said, I do hope that more than a few preachers out there are going to somehow use the recent Michigan state legislature vagina kerfuffle as fodder for some good conversations on power, community and discernment.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about but have noticed an increased use of the word "vagina," you are not imagining things. The increased volume of verbal vagina usage can be attributed to last Thursday's rebuke of Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown after her use of the word "vagina" during a debate on abortion the day before. . . .

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For more on the story, click here.

June 19, 2012 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Religion, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

North Dakota Voters Reject Broad Religious Refusal Amendment

Ms. Magazine: VICTORY in North Dakota:

North Dakota voters soundly rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment yesterday that would have granted "the right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief" even if such actions are otherwise illegal. Sixty-four percent of voters rejected the measure and only thirty-six percent voted in favor of it. Measure 3, or the so-called Religious Liberties Restoration State Constitution Amendment, was criticized for being too broad and for potentially permitting North Dakotans to even beat their wives or children if their religions allow it. The Measure would have also potentially given pharmacists and doctors the right to deny women birth control or other reproductive health services due to religious objections. . . .

Catholics for Choice press release: A Victory for Common Sense, the Common Good and Real Religious Freedom:

Catholic Leader Hails Defeat of Measure 3 in North Dakota

“The electorate in North Dakota saw though the smokescreen of Orwellian newspeak that the USCCB’s public relations machine manufactured in the last few weeks to roundly defeat a measure that would have imposed the bishops’ failed ideology on the electorate with no regard for their freedom of conscience or religion. A large majority, 64 percent of those voting, overturned an attempt to redefine religious liberty in a manner that would allow conservatives to impose their religious beliefs on others,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice. “The electorate judged that the move would have a detrimental impact on existing laws and allow some crimes to become protected under the redefined religious freedom arguments. . . .

June 13, 2012 in Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Religious Leaders Petition HHS for Broader Exemption to Contraception Coverage Mandate

The Washington Post: Religious leaders ask HHS to broaden birth control exemption, by David Gibson:

A coalition of nearly 150 religious leaders, led by conservative Protestants, have petitioned the Obama administration to broaden the exemption that allows churches and some religious organizations to avoid a controversial new mandate that all health care insurers provide free contraception coverage.

In a letter sent Monday (June 11) to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the 149 religious leaders note that they hold differing views on “the moral acceptability” of birth control and on the viability of various administration proposals to allow faith-based groups to bypass the mandate for contraception and sterilization coverage. . . .

June 12, 2012 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lawsuits Over Birth Control Mandate Divide U.S. Catholic Bishops

The Washington Post: Analysis: Catholic bishops divided in legal battle against Obama birth control mandate, by David Gibson:

The wave of lawsuits filed this week by more than 40 Catholic groups against the Obama administration’s birth control mandate was meant as a demonstration of church unity and influence in the face of what some bishops see as a grave threat to the church’s very existence.

But the strategy has also exposed serious fault lines within the U.S. hierarchy, as some leaders are privately and even openly questioning the legal and political ramifications of the bishops’ latest battle with the White House. . . .

May 23, 2012 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ohio Catholic College Drops Health Care Plan Over Objections to Federal Contraception Mandate

CNN: College drops health care plan over religious objections to new law, by Dan Gilgoff:

A Catholic college in Ohio has apparently become the nation’s first to drop its health care plan because it opposes parts of the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

The Franciscan University of Steubenville posted on its website last week that it is discontinuing its health care plan. . . .

May 16, 2012 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Caroline Mala Corbin on Sex and Race Discrimination by Religious Groups

Caroline Mala Corbin (University of Miami Law School) has posted Expanding the Bob Jones Compromise on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Caroline CorbinSometimes the right to liberty and the right to equality point in the same direction. Sometimes the two rights conflict. Which constitutional value should prevail when the right to religious liberty clashes with the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race and sex? More particularly, should faith-based organizations, in the name of religious liberty, be immune from anti-discrimination law?

Bob Jones University v. United States suggests a compromise: permit faith-based organizations to discriminate on the basis of race or sex if that discrimination is religiously required, but at the same time refuse to condone or support that discrimination by denying those religious organizations any financial aid. In fact, it is already federal policy to withhold government subsidies from religious organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, and the Bob Jones Court rejected a free exercise challenge to that policy. The same policy should apply with regard to discrimination on the basis of sex. Allowing religious groups to discriminate on the basis of sex but declining to provide grants, vouchers, or tax exempt status to those that do discriminate honors both our commitment to religious liberty and our commitment to equality. 

May 16, 2012 in Religion, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)