Wednesday, July 18, 2018
The Washington Post (Jul. 17, 2018): Who gets the embryos? Whoever wants to make them into babies, new law says, by Ariana Eunjung Cha:
New court cases cases are grappling with the decision of what to do with frozen embryos created during a marriage that later dissolves. In many cases that Cha reports on, the couples chose to create and freeze several embryos in the wake of a cancer diagnosis and treatment schedule that threatened later fertility.
When these same couples faced divorce, there were bitter divides over what should be done with the embryos: one party wanted to maintain "ownership" of the embryos for a future chance at children while the other wanted the embryos destroyed, fearing unwanted future financial or relationship obligations.
With the number of frozen embryos in the United States soaring into the millions, disputes over who owns them are also on the rise. Judges have often — but not always — ruled in favor of the person who does not want the embryos used, sometimes ordering them destroyed, following the theory that no one should be forced to become a parent.
In Arizona, though, a "first-in-the-nation law" went into effect on July 1 that states "custody of disputed embryos must be given to the party who intends to help them 'develop to birth.'"
The legislation represents for some lawmakers the idea that frozen embryos have their own right to life, and many imagine that the implications could eventually include a delineation of when life begins and a claim to a separate set of embryonic rights of their own as human beings (rather than the discussion being centered on who "owns" the embryos).
Some groups, like the anti-abortion Thomas More Society, advocate for that embryos to be considered "children" in the legal sense, asking judges to make decisions on disputes based on the best interest of the "child."
Debates to extend personhood to unborn embryos and fetuses abound in anti-abortion work. Abortion rights advocates are concerned that these discussions could further disintegrate the right to abortion in the United States. "If a days-old embryo in a freezer has a right to life, why not a days-old embryo in utero?"
While judges have historically ordered disputed embryos destroyed based on the wishes of the party who does not want a child, an Arizona judge chose to balance one party's "probable inability to have a child without the embryos" against the other party's "desire to not be a father" a different way.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Ronee Korbin Steiner held that Ruby Torres, who wanted the embryos in order to have biological children one day, had no right to them. The judge did not order them destroyed, though, and instead ordered that they go up for donation.
Torres appealed the decision and expects a new ruling any day.
The new Arizona law that states embryos shall be given to the party who intends to develop them to birth was written in response to this case to "help" people in Torres' situation. It also attempts to recognize the rights of those who do not want the embryos used by providing that those parties would not be liable for child support in the future.
Both the judicial decisions and the legislation continue to prove extremely controversial:
The Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative lobbying group that has successfully pushed antiabortion legislation in the state, supported the measure, saying the bill would “lead to more consistent rulings.”
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which represents doctors, nurses and other professionals who work on fertility issues, opposed the measure, arguing that it would have a profound impact on reproductive medicine.
Medical professionals foresee profound complications to stem-cell research in particular, which relies on embryos donated to science. Such research is believed essential in developing treatments for many diseases and conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The treatment and storage of embryos as a result of the new legislation will likely make embryonic stem cells much more scarce.
In a friend-of-the-court brief in Torres' pending appellate case, the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys urged judges in the Arizona Court of Appeals to balance the interest of each former spouse. They argue that the parties claims are not equal and that "the constitutional protection against compulsory parenthood is [generally] greater than any procreative interest in pre-embryos."
Time will tell both if the appellate judges affirm Judge Steiner's controversial ruling (likely leading to further appeals) while we also wait for the inevitable challenges to Arizona's new embryo law.
July 18, 2018 in Abortion, Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Culture, Current Affairs, Fertility, Fetal Rights, In the Courts, Medical News, Parenthood, Politics, Public Opinion, Scholarship and Research, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, February 10, 2017
New York Times (Nov. 10, 2016): A Study Tests the Safety of Women Using Abortion Pills Sent by Mail, by Phil Galewitz:
The idea of giving more women access to abortion care by delivering medication through the mail without an in-person visit to a physician is an idea grounded helping women obtain birth control more easily. "Australia and the Canadian province of British Columbia allow women to get abortion pills by mail after consulting with a physician or other health care provider via phone or the internet. Several international organizations offer mail service in countries where abortion is otherwise unavailable or severely restricted." There is no such service in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration prohibits pharmacies from filling prescriptions for the most common medical abortifacient mifepristone. It must be procured directly from a clinic that stocks the drug.
A research effort permitted by the Food and Drug Administration is being conducted in Hawaii, New York, Oregon and Washington to evaluate the safety of medical abortion by mail. 91% of women surveyed reported that they did not have any complications and would recommend the service to a friend. Women who use telemedicine and receive abortion medication by mail report a great sense of well being having control over the abortion decision and being able to conduct a medical abortion on their own time and in the privacy of their own home.
Abortion foes, who have been up in arms about the mail-order medical abortion experiment, have raised a hue and cry over its safety. Of course, the mail-order alternative does not entirely remove doctors and nurses from the equation. A woman who wishes to receive abortion medication by mail must first consult with a physician and submit to an ultrasound and blood work. Follow-up care includes an ultrasound to confirm that the abortion is complete a phone consultation to go over the results.
Even if the study supports wider access to abortion via telemedicine, nineteen states nonetheless ban the method, requiring a physician to be physically present when consulting with a women on abortion.
Monday, June 20, 2016
ACLU of Texas (June 15, 2016), t ACLU of Texas Demands DSHS Stop Concealing Abortion Statistics, by Anna Núñez
The Texas department of State Health Services has gathered abortion statistics for 2014, after the passage of the restrictive HB2, which is currently being challenged as unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The ACLU of Texas is alleging the concealment of the findings. The ACLU said in the linked statement above that they requested the stats "dozens" times, only to be rebuffed by the agency and falsely told that the statistics were not yet ready, though the findings were apparently final in March. The ACLU believes that the reasoning is clear - that DSHS isn't releasing the information because it is damaging to HB2:
“The State of Texas claims that HB2 protects women’s health. If that’s true, why wouldn’t our public health agency want to trumpet its success?” said Terri Burke, executive director for the ACLU of Texas.
The letter also states that supervisors instructed employees to lie about the statistics and avoid mentioning them, in an apparent attempt to circumvent the legal requirements of the Texas Public Information Act."
The ACLU has also written and released a letter aimed at the defendant in the pending SCOTUS case, Commissioner Hellerstedt, also linked in the above article.
Friday, June 3, 2016
Linda Edwards, Catherine Walsh, and Michelle Goodwin have recently published articles on reproductive justice. The abridged abstracts follow:
Hearing Voices: Non-Party Stories in Abortion and Gay Rights Advocacy, by Linda Edwards:
Among the amicus briefs filed in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (1986) was one submitted by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Like the famous "Brandeis Brief" in Muller v. Oregon (1908), the NARAL brief relies on sources outside the trial court record. Unlike the Brandeis Brief, however, the NARAL brief does not treat women as the objects of social science research. Instead, living, breathing women, speaking with the first-person pronoun “I,” tell their own abortion stories. This article tells the story of that first “voices” brief, its young author, and its amazing civil rights legacy.
Women in New York State prisons face poor-quality care and assaults on their basic human dignity and reproductive rights. Three issues of particular concern are incarcerated women’s access to gynecological examinations, sanitary supplies, and contraception. This article examines New York State policies addressing reproductive health care for incarcerated women, identifies problems with them, and makes recommendations for reform. perspectives. It recommends bringing New York’s policies in line with legal, medical, and international standards and using existing federal and state programs to provide funding for reproductive care both prior to and after release.
The Pregnancy Penalty, by Michelle Goodwin:
A multitude of state actions serve to sanction and punish pregnant women. It is a fallacy that such punitive state actions “advance” women’s best interest while promoting informed consent. Poor women are symbolically and medically trapped civilly and criminally where extended wait periods, targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP laws), and other indignities burden their constitutional rights. These issues take on a new urgency as lawmakers continue to undermine women’s health care rights.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
The Moral Case for Abortion by Ann Furedi.
Ann Furedi is a provider of abortion services in the UK. In her new book, she asserts that true respect for human life and true regard for individual conscience demand that we respect a woman’s right to decide, and that support for a woman’s right to a termination has moral foundations and ethical integrity. Drawing on the traditions of sociological thinking and moral philosophy,
Furedi maintains that there is a strong moral case for recognizing autonomy in personal decision-making about reproductive intentions. She argues moreover that to prevent a woman from making her own choice to continue or end her pregnancy is to undermine the essence of her humanity. This fresh perspective on abortion will interest both pro- and anti-choice individuals and organizations, along with academics in the fields of gender studies, philosophy, ethics and religion.
Minors, Parents, and Minor Parents, by Maya Manian
In her new article in the Missouri Law Review, Maya Manian, a professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, exposes the law's incoherent approach to adolescent reproduction. Her research indicates that states overwhelmingly allow a teenage girl to independently consent to pregnancy care and medical treatment for her child and even to give up her child for adoption, all without notice to her parents, but require parental notice or consent for abortion. Manian theorizes that the unrecognized policy underlying these seemingly contradictory positions is to punish teenage sexuality and undermine adolescents’ reproductive rights.
Friday, February 12, 2016
New York Times (Feb. 2, 2016): Britain Allows New Method to Edit Genes, by Nicholas Wade:
Gene editing refers to cutting and pasting DNA in and out of human embryos, eggs and sperm. Used for reproductive purposes, these alterations would be passed down to subsequent generations. A voluntary worldwide moratorium on making changes to DNA that could be passed down in this way, issued by the United States, Britain and China in December, will remain in place even after the British government's recent decision to allow gene editing of embryos that will not be implanted in a womb. Researchers want to study "the cascade of genetic switches" thrown during a pre-embryo's progression through its first few divisions. The research may lead to new and better ways to treat infertility, but the news also figures prominently in the anxious message of researchers that countries should tailor their regulations in order to become stronger competitors in the global race to be first in making advances in reproductive biology.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Friday, May 8, 2015
Dov Fox (University of San Diego Law) has posted new scholarship on SSRN. Below are the abstracts:
This Symposium Essay provides a conceptual framework to govern the use of race in decisions about family formation. This spectrum of salience-varying ways to manage racial information ranges from those that lay the greatest emphasis on race to those that soften or altogether exclude its expression.
The Essay locates the operation of these different approaches in the law and practice of adoption and assisted reproduction. That race tends to reproduce itself within the family makes these unique contexts from which to ask what sort of racial self-understandings our multiracial democracy should seek to embody.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Jessica Ettinger (Notre Dame) has posted Seeking Common Ground in the Abortion Regulation Debate on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This Note argues that requiring abortion clinics to adhere to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers is unconstitutional, at least in the context of those clinics that provide only medication abortion, because it unduly burdens a woman’s right to choose whether to obtain an abortion. Although there may be a rational basis to require abortion clinics offering surgical abortion procedures to meet surgical facility standards, no such basis attends the imposition of those requirements on clinics that provide nonsurgical services. Given the number of clinics that continue to close in the face of this new regulatory legislation — which significantly reduces access to abortion services, increases their cost, and makes them logistically more difficult to procure due to increased geographic travel — it is arguable that even requiring surgical abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards will result in an undue burden.
At the same time, however, state legislators have a valid interest in ensuring that abortion procedures are conducted in a safe manner. Although abortion clinics currently are subject to regulatory oversight outside the realm of state-specific statutes, the requirements currently in place govern the privacy of patients’ health records, laboratory testing practices, and workplace health and safety, but do not address directly the regulation of surgical procedures.
In light of the constitutional problems embedded in current state efforts to regulate abortion clinic facilities and the shortcomings of federal regulatory efforts, it may be time to entertain a different approach to abortion clinic regulation. Part I presents the legal framework and standards currently governing abortion legislation. Part II utilizes this foundation to evaluate current problems in state regulatory practices, spotlighting two pieces of recent state legislation that seek to impose ambulatory surgical center standards on all abortion clinic facilities within their borders. Lastly, Part III introduces and outlines an alternate means of regulation — accreditation — that offers common ground in the abortion debate by serving everyone’s interest in providing safe, accessible medical services to women.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Alyson Zureick (J.D. 2014, NYU Law) has posted (En)Gendering Suffering: Denial of Abortion as a Form of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Healthcare providers require prior consent to treat patients. Consent can be different for legal purposes, and be expressed in different ways. Simple consent affords providers protection from liability for assault, but negligence can arise if the consent is inadequately informed.
Providers cannot coerce or improperly induce consent; patients’ agreement that a provider wrongly influences is compliance, not true consent. Attempts to rescue patients in peril may be lawful on the presumption of their implied consent, unless patients negate the presumption. In special cases, laws may require that consent be written, but generally consent can be given by speech or conduct. Informed consent depends on patients’ comprehension, but consent for treatment of uncomprehending patients may come from third parties, including legally recognized substitutes or judges. There may be legal limits to reproductive procedures to which patients may consent, under laws that can be respectfully tested, but have to be obeyed.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Ciara O'Connell (University of Sussex) has posted Women's Reproductive Rights in the Inter-American System of Human Rights: Conclusions from the Field, June - September 2014 on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Inter-American System of Human Rights has proven to be a forum for the advancement of women’s reproductive rights in the Inter-American region. However, the Inter-American System faces significant challenges in promoting structural transformative change that enables women’s enjoyment of their reproductive health rights. This report examines three reproductive rights cases from the Inter- American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights: María Mamerita Mestanza Chávez v. Peru; Paulina Ramirez Jacinto v. Mexico; and Artavia Murillo et al. v. Costa Rica. In the summer of 2014, interviews were conducted with representatives in each of the case study countries, with the objective of the research being two-fold: (1) to understand how each of the cases developed, and the subsequent challenges and advancements; and (2) to learn from these cases in order to suggest recommendations for how actors can make better use of the Inter-American System as one of several avenues for protecting, promoting and fulfilling women’s reproductive rights. The report first discusses challenges in implementing women’s reproductive health rights, and then explores how the Inter-American System can strengthen its work on women’s reproductive health rights.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
The Richmond Journal of Law & the Public Interest is seeking submissions for our 2015 Spring volume. We welcome high quality and well cited submissions from academics, judges, and established practitioners who would like to take part in the conversation of the evolution of law and its impact on citizens.
We currently have five total openings for articles for the two general issues of our volume. As a Journal that centers in large part on the Public Interest, we would be happy to accept and review articles on a broad range of topics that affect citizens on a national level or in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For a sense of what we are seeking for our general issues, please feel free to visit http://rjolpi.richmond.edu/archive.php.
If you would like to submit an article for review and possibly publication, or if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact our Lead Articles Editors - Rich Forzani and Hillary Wallace. They can be reached, respectively, at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, June 6, 2014
The University of Chicago Law School International Human Rights Clinic, National Asian Pacific Women's Forum, and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health: Replacing Myths With Facts: Sex-Selective Abortions In the United States:
Sex selection is the practice of attempting to control the sex of one’s offspring in order to achieve a desired sex. One method of sex selection is sex-selective abortion. Laws banning sex-selective abortion are proliferating in the United States. Eight states have enacted laws prohibiting sex- selective abortion. Twenty-one states and the federal government have considered such laws since 2009. Those laws prohibit the performance of an abortion if sought based on the sex of the fetus and provide for both criminal and civil penalties in most cases...
A great deal of misinformation exists regarding sex selection in the United States. We have identified six inaccuracies commonly associated with sex-selective abortion and laws prohibiting it. They appear, among other places, in statements made by legislators, testimony submitted to legislatures, and reports issued by legislative committees that have considered or adopted laws banning sex- selective abortion. We present each piece of inaccurate information as a “myth.” This Report draws on legal research, empirical analysis of U.S. birth data, field-work, and an extensive review of scholarly publications in social sciences, law and other disciplines to replace these myths with facts. . . .
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
NPR: Research: Children Of Judges May Influence Court Decisions, by Shankar Vedantam:
It's been suspected that judges are swayed by their personal beliefs and affiliations. An analysis found that judges become more likely to rule in "pro-feminist" ways if the judges have daughters. . . .
In this paper, we ask whether personal relationships can affect the way that judges decide cases. To do so, we leverage the natural experiment of a child's gender to identify the effect of having daughters on the votes of judges. Using new data on the family lives of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, we find that, conditional on the number of children a judge has, judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges. More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions, and it is the first paper to show that empathy may indeed be a component in how judges decide cases. . . .
Sunday, May 11, 2014
The Guttmacher Institute news release: U.S. TEEN PREGNANCY, BIRTH AND ABORTION RATES REACH HISTORIC LOWS:
Teen Pregnancy Rates Declined in Every State and Among All Racial and Ethnic Groups
Rates of teen pregnancy, birth and abortion have declined dramatically in the United States since their peak in the early 1990s. In 2010, some 614,000 pregnancies occurred among teenage women aged 15–19, for a rate of 57.4 pregnancies per 1,000 women that age. This marks a 51% decline from the 1990 peak, and a 15% decline in just two years, from 67.8 in 2008, according to “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2010: National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity,” a new study by the Guttmacher Institute. Similarly, the teen birthrate declined 44% from the peak in 1991 (from 61.8 births per 1,000 to 34.4 per 1,000); and the teen abortion rate declined 66% between its 1988 peak and 2010 (from 43.5 abortions per 1,000 to 14.7 per 1,000). . . .
Friday, March 7, 2014
live.science: Free Birth Control Has Little Effect on Women's Sexual Behavior, Study Suggests, by Cari Nierenberg:
Offering free contraception to women and teenage girls does not cause them to increase their risky sexual behavior over time, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that after receiving free birth control, most women reported no change in their number of sexual partners, and only a modest increase in sex frequency, from an average of four times a month before getting free birth control to six times a month after receiving it. . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Anibel Faundes, et al., have posted Brazilians Have Different Views on When Abortion Should Be Legal, But Most Do Not Agree with Imprisoning Women for Abortion on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Unsafe abortions remain a major public health problem in countries with very restrictive abortion laws. In Brazil, parliamentarians − who have the power to change the law − are influenced by “public opinion”, often obtained through surveys and opinion polls. This paper presents the findings from two studies. One was carried out in February–December 2010 among 1,660 public servants and the other in February–July 2011 with 874 medical students from three medical schools, both in São Paulo State, Brazil. Both groups of respondents were asked two sets of questions to obtain their opinion about abortion: 1) under which circumstances abortion should be permitted by law, and 2) whether or not women in general and women they knew who had had an abortion should be punished with prison, as Brazilian law mandates. The differences in their answers were enormous: the majority of respondents were against putting women who have had abortions in prison. Almost 60% of civil servants and 25% of medical students knew at least one woman who had had an illegal abortion; 85% of medical students and 83% of civil servants thought this person(s) should not be jailed. Brazilian parliamentarians who are currently reviewing a reform in the Penal Code need to have this information urgently. . . .
Thursday, February 6, 2014
My commentary, In Abortion Litigation, It's the Facts that Matter, has been published by the Harvard Law Review Forum. Here is a summary:
This brief commentary argues that courts need to do a better job of closely examining the facts underlying abortion legislation. Courts applying the undue burden standard generally demand from the plaintiffs fact-intensive proof that an abortion law will cause harm. At the same time, courts are highly deferential to the states’ own fact-based assertions about why these laws are needed. Although the “purpose prong” of the undue burden standard has largely been written off as toothless, courts can smoke out illegitimate purposes indirectly by looking more skeptically at the factual foundations supposedly necessitating abortion laws. Recent challenges to virtually identical abortion restrictions have turned on judges’ willingness or refusal to examine more closely the governments’ factual assumptions. This explains the opposite (preliminary) conclusions reached by the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, respectively, on the constitutionality of laws requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, an issue the Supreme Court appears likely to consider.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
abcNEWS.com: Viewing Ultrasound Unlikely to Deter Women from Abortion, Study Finds, by Gillian Mohney:
A new study has found that pregnant women who plan on having an abortion are not often dissuaded by viewing an ultrasound.
The study, designed to find out if pregnant women who view their ultrasounds are significantly less likely to go through with a planned abortion, was published this month in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal. It looked at the cases of more than 15,000 women, the total number of pregnant women who went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Los Angeles in 2011 and were planning to have an abortion. . . .