Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Robin Wilson on Religious Exemptions from Contraceptive and Other Mandates

Robin Fretwell Wilson (Washington & Lee University School of Law) has published The Calculus of Accommodation: Contraception, Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage, and Other Clashes Between Religion and the State in the Boston College Law Review. Here is the abstract: Image1

This Article examines, and responds to, a number of “sticking points” voiced by legislators about a qualified exemption for religious objectors that would permit them to step aside from facilitating same-sex marriages so long as no hardship will result. These concerns bear an uncanny resemblance to reasons why some believe the Obama administration should not yield further on the coverage mandate. This Article maintains that religious accommodations qualified by hardship to others can transform what could be a zero-sum proposition into one in which access and religious freedom can both be affirmed.

October 26, 2012 in Abortion, Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Conservative Institute Launches Campaign to Block Access to Contraception, Abortion, and Same-Sex Marriage

Hunter of Justice: Conservatives launch "religious liberty" state lobbying network, by Nan Hunter:

The Center for Ethics and Public Policy has announced a new project that will establish bipartisan "religious liberty" legislative caucuses in every state by the end of 2013. Their goal will be blocking access to contraceptives, abortion and same-sex marriage. The campaign is starting with Arizona, ColoradoFlorida, Idaho, Kansas, MissouriNew Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The network is designed to produce an on-the-ground capacity for lobbying in every state legislature, as well as more efficient coordination of national strategies. . . . 

October 23, 2012 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Elizabeth Emens Presents "Asexual Identity and Sexual Law" at Columbia University

Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Columbia University presents:

Feminist Interventions: Professor Elizabeth Emens: "Asexual Identity and Sexual Law" with respondent Elizabeth Povinelli, Professor of Anthropology

Wednesday, October 17 6:00 - 8:00pm

754 Schermerhorn Extension

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October 14, 2012 in Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Study Reports on Abortion Rates by Age in Countries with Liberal Abortion Laws

Guttmacher Institute – press release: Survey of Countries with Liberal Abortion Laws Finds Abortions Concentrated Among Women in their 20s, by Jessica Malter:  Thumbnail

Decline in American Teen Abortion Rate Puts United States on Par With Some Industrialized Counterparts, but More Progress Is Needed

A new study of countries with liberal abortion laws finds that abortion is more common among women in their 20s than among women of other ages, according to "Legal Abortion Levels and Trends by Woman’s Age at Termination," by Gilda Sedgh et al. of the Guttmacher Institute. A large body of research has shown that this group often wants to postpone childbearing, which would interrupt their ability to work or complete their schooling; in addition, many young adult women have yet to establish stable partner relationships. The current study found that recent declines in the teen abortion rate in the United States (now at 20 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–19) have put the United States on par for the first time with several other industrialized countries, including England and Wales, Scotland, Sweden and New Zealand. This marks a considerable change from the mid-1990s, when the U.S. teen abortion rate was substantially higher than that of any other industrialized nation. . . .

October 10, 2012 in Abortion, Contraception, International, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexuality, Teenagers and Children, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Review of Naomi Wolf's "Vagina, A New Biography"

The New York Times:  Upstairs, Downstairs (book review of ‘Vagina: A New Biography,’ by Naomi Wolf), by Toni Bentley:

Sit back and relax, will you? Naomi Wolf has got her orgasm back. Yep. I know you were worried. We were all worried. I mean, to lose one’s orgasm at a time like this, what with Syria undergoing mass civilian murder and Romney closing in on Obama, it is really enough to put a liberated gal’s thong in a knot.

But Wolf didn’t just get back one of those little clitoral thingamajigs that Masters and Johnson so laboriously put back on the map after Freud had brushed them aside. Or rather inside, where he felt they belonged. She has reclaimed the Great Big Cosmic I-Am-a-Gorgeous-Goddess (Feminist-Goddess, that is) kind. Phew!

“Vagina: A New Biography” should have been an important book. A very important book. . . .

September 16, 2012 in Books, Culture, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reva Siegel on Dignity and Sexuality

Reva Siegel (Yale Law School) has posted Dignity and Sexuality: Claims on Dignity in Transnational Debates Over Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

Dignity’s meaning is famously contested. This essay explores competing claims on dignity in late twentieth-century debates over abortion and in the first decisions on the constitutionality of abortion legislation that these debates prompted. Advocates and judges appealed to dignity to vindicate autonomy, to vindicate equality, and to express respect for the value of life itself. Appeals to these distinct conceptions of dignity are now appearing in debates over the regulation of same-sex relations. Analyzed with attention to competing claims on dignity, we can see that in the debate over same-sex relations, as in the debate over abortion, a crucial question recurs: Do laws that restrict non-procreative sexuality violate or vindicate human dignity? Agonists who hold fundamentally different views about sexuality share an allegiance to dignity, enough to fight for the authority to establish dignity’s meaning in debates over sexual freedom. Today, as in the 1970s, dignity’s meaning is being forged in cross-borders conflict over dignity’s sex.

September 16, 2012 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Julie Greenberg on Health Care Issues Affecting People with an Intersex Condition or DSD

Julie A. Greenberg (Thomas Jefferson Law School) has posted Health Care Issues Affecting People with an Intersex Condition or DSD: Sex or Disability Discrimination? on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

People with an intersex condition or a Difference of Sex Development (DSD) depend on health care professionals for critical medical treatment. Many intersex activists assert that some current medical practices are not in the best interests of patients with an intersex condition. They contend that greater safeguards should be adopted to ensure that the rights to liberty and autonomy of people with a DSD are respected. Thus far, intersex advocacy has focused on extralegal strategies. The movement is at a point, however, where legal challenges to current medical protocols could provide an additional tool to improve life altering health care practices.

This Article examines whether the intersex movement could effectively use legal frameworks developed by feminists, the LGBT movement, and disability activists to advance its goal of modifying current medical procedures that are based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and disability stereotypes.

July 11, 2012 in Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The New York Times Posts Query About NYC's New Sex Education Classes

The New York Times - Schoolbook: Is New Sex Education Course Too Much or Just Enough?:

Last summer the Department of Education decided that for the first time in nearly two decades, students in New York City’s public middle and high schools would be required to take sex-education classes beginning this school year, using a curriculum that includes lessons on how to use a condom and the appropriate age for sexual activity. At East Side High Community School, the school newspaper, The East Sider, wrote about the new course in its January issue, before the course had started. The article, below, has been lightly edited.What do you think about the new sex education classes? Do you think they go too far? How are they being introduced in your school? Respond to our query below. . . .

May 3, 2012 in Contraception, Sexuality, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

EEOC Rules Transgender Employees Protected by Title VII

The Miami Herald - Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida: EEOC: Transgender workers protected by Title VII, the federal law that covers sex discrimination:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that Title VII, the federal law that protects employees from sex discrimination, also includes workers who are transgender. . . .

Click here to read the EEOC ruling.

April 25, 2012 in Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

VA Bills Will Further Limit Funding for Abortions for Medicaid Recipients and Allow Discrimination by Adoption Agencies

Reuters: Virginia lawmakers pass abortion, adoption bills, by Matthew A. Ward:

Image1 (Reuters) - Virginia would halt taxpayer-funded abortions for low-income women in cases where the fetus is severely physically deformed or mentally deficient under Republican-backed legislation passed Friday by state lawmakers.

The House of Delegates voted 64-35 to strip the Board of Health of its ability to fund abortions for Medicaid recipients when a physician certifies that the fetus would be born with a "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency."

The measure comes amid a raft of conservative bills in the Virginia General Assembly, which shifted to the right following the 2011 general election.

Separate legislation backed by the state Senate on Wednesday would require women to be given an ultrasound and the chance to see the fetal image before an abortion is performed. . . .

February 11, 2012 in Abortion, Parenthood, Poverty, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wanda Nowicka on Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the Human Rights Agenda

Wanda Nowicka (Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning) has posted Sexual and Reproductive Rights and the Human Rights Agenda: Controversial and Contested on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

In this paper I share some of my experience and observations, as an advocate for women's rights, of the last 20 years of struggles for sexual and reproductive health and rights, carried out in many key places where these issues have been debated and decided. I do not aspire to be comprehensive about the current status of human rights related to sexuality and reproduction. Given that my expertise is of a practical (rather than theoretical) nature, the complexity of the topic and contradictory events with regard to it, which take place almost everyday, I will highlight some selected achievements and setbacks in this area, particularly regarding abortion rights. I will provide examples of how human rights related to sexual and reproductive health have been addressed in UN policy-setting bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women and Commission on Population and Development, as well as in the UN human rights system such as Treaty Monitoring Bodies and Human Rights Council. Given my work with European institutions, I provide examples of important decisions by the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. Lastly, I discuss growing opposition to a progressive human rights agenda and the universality of human rights. Despite significant successes, sexual and reproductive rights will long remain controversial and contested. Hence, it is crucial to try to find new ways to engage and new partners to work with.

January 25, 2012 in International, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New York Times Magazine on Sex Education That Teaches the Pleasures of Sex

Even "comprehensive sexuality education" programs nowadays are expected or required to prioritize abstinence, thus conveying the implicit message that sex is bad.  Here is a refreshing look at some sex educators who dare to take a different approach.

The New York Times Magazine: Teaching Good Sex, by Laurie Abraham:

“First base, second base, third base, home run,” Al Vernacchio ticked off the classic baseball terms for sex acts. His goal was to prompt the students in Sexuality and Society — an elective for seniors at the private Friends’ Central School on Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line — to examine the assumptions buried in the venerable metaphor. “Give me some more,” urged the fast-talking 47-year-old, who teaches 9th- and 12th-grade English as well as human sexuality. Arrayed before Vernacchio was a circle of small desks occupied by 22 teenagers, six male and the rest female — a blur of sweatshirts and Ugg boots and form-fitting leggings. . . .

In its breadth, depth and frank embrace of sexuality as, what Vernacchio calls, a “force for good” — even for teenagers — this sex-ed class may well be the only one of its kind in the United States. “There is abstinence-only sex education, and there’s abstinence-based sex ed,” said Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “There’s almost nothing else left in public schools.”

Across the country, the approach ranges from abstinence until marriage is the only acceptable choice, contraceptives don’t work and premarital sex is physically and emotionally harmful, to abstinence is usually best, but if you must have sex, here are some ways to protect yourself from pregnancy and disease. . . .

November 19, 2011 in Sexuality, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

U.S. Catholic Bishops Reframe Opposition to Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage as Fight for "Religious Liberty"

The New York Times: Bishops Open ‘Religious Liberty’ Drive, by Laurie Goodstein:

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops opened a new front in their fight against abortion and same-sex marriage on Monday, recasting their opposition as a struggle for “religious liberty” against a government and a culture that are infringing on the church’s rights. . . .

November 15, 2011 in Abortion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ Celebrates 40th Anniversary

The Washington Post: 'Our Bodies, Ourselves' taught women about sexuality and reproductive health, by Stefanie Weiss: Image1 

When it comes to women’s sexuality and reproductive health, I’ve come to believe that the world divides into two camps: those who know something about hand mirrors and those who don’t.

My sister Julie, solidly in the first camp, recently went to a 30-something female gynecologist, who’s in the second. At Julie’s first mention of hand mirrors, she told me, her doctor was more than a little taken aback.

“You did what?” she asked. . . . 

October 4, 2011 in Books, Culture, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexuality, Sexuality Education, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jeffrey Parness on Civil Unions and Parenthood at Birth

Jeffrey A. Parness (Northern Illinois University - College of Law) has posted Civil Unions and Parenthood at Birth on SSRN. Here is the abstract: 

Jeffrey_parness The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (RFPCU) took effect on June 1, 2011. It recognizes civil unions, affording unionized parties “the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as are afforded to spouses.” Parties may be “of either the same or opposite sex.” The RFPCU reflects federal constitutional equalities. As declared in Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 U.S. 438 (1972), “if the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental inrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”

Notwithstanding the directive for “same” treatment, however, marriages and opposite sex unions are naturally different than same sex unions. At times there can be no absolute sameness. Consider parenthood. Same sex unions can never produce children genetically-tied to both partners. Similarly, though husbands and wives are generally accorded equal treatment regarding children born into marriage, here too there are differences. Only wives bear children. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that mothers automatically are accorded parental rights at birth, while fathers only have parental opportunity interests which must be affirmatively seized.

How should legal parenthood at birth arise when children are born into civil unions? Should the standards differ between same sex female and male couples? Between married and unionized opposite sex couples? These questions are addressed in the article, which explores the Parentage Act, the Gestational Surrogacy Act, and voluntary paternity acknowledgment practices. The article concludes that Illinois legislators should consider new parentage laws rather than leaving important family law policies to the Illinois courts which can only resolve assisted reproduction and other parentage cases “on the particular circumstances presented.” In re Parentage of M.J., 203 Ill.2d 526 (2003). “Unitary” families, subject to significant potential governmental protections under Michael H. v. Gerald D., 491 U.S. 110 (1989), deserve more clarity so that parent-child relationships can develop early on with little fear of later disruptions.

August 28, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Survey Shows Millenials' Views on Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage, and Contraception

USA Today: MTV teen pregnancy shows prompt pro-abortion rights views: Survey, by Cathy Lynn Grossman:

 

Many Americans are able to be simultaneously pro-choice and pro-life.

 

Watching reality shows on unmarried teens such as 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom makes folks more sympathetic to legal abortion. Call it "The MTV effect."

 

And, with the exception of support for same-sex marriage, Millennials often think like their parents (but not their grandparents) on values issues.

 

Those are among the widely varied findings in a new survey on Millennials' views on abortion and same-sex marriage released today by the Public Religion Research Institute. . . .

June 17, 2011 in Abortion, Contraception, Culture, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Public Opinion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality, Teenagers and Children, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ruthann Robson on Lesbians and Abortions

Ruthann Robson (CUNY School of Law) has posted Lesbians and Abortions on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Robson While there are doctrinal and theoretical connections, the arguments for women’s freedom to be a lesbian or to have an abortion are usually articulated independently from each other. At one time, the abortion right seemed more secure than lesbian rights, but recently lesbianism seems to be accorded more legal protection than abortions. This article argues that lesbians have an important stake in the legal recognition of abortion rights.

The article rehearses the doctrinal linkages, distinctions, and relative strength of the rights of lesbians and the right to abortion in American jurisprudence. The remainder of the article discusses the specific overlaps between lesbians and abortion as lived realities and as subject to legal regimes. For example, the article considers the availability of reproductive choice after the choicelessness of rape committed against lesbians, including a discussing of hate crimes against lesbians involving rape and of the erratic "rape exception" to abortion regulations. The next section examines the difficulties lesbians, especially young lesbians, face as what might be called "reproductive amateurs" who can become pregnant. As minors, they may be legally forced to interact with parents or judges hostile to their sexuality as well as to their desire to terminate pregnancy. As both minors and adults, they may be less likely to discover their pregnancy early, and thus they may be more likely to encounter strict time limits in abortion statutes.

The final section considers the construction of lesbians and of women who have abortions as "independent" or as "man-hating" women. It argues that the paternalism of the law and specific statutes that seek to remove certain choices from women express male anxiety about the power of women, including, perhaps paradoxically, sex selection.

June 3, 2011 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Celebrity Lawsuit Features a Commonplace Issue: Concealment of STD Status

Salon.com: Sex, lies and STDs, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

A buzzy lawsuit brings up a common phenomenon: People lying about, or concealing, their true status

TMZ's week was sure made by news that an A-list celebrity was being sued for spreading herpes. An anonymous woman filed a $20 million lawsuit against the unnamed star, claiming that he knowingly exposed her to the virus, which she was diagnosed with after their fling.

This isn't the first time an STD lawsuit has made headlines (see: Michael Vick, David Hasselhoff and Robin Williams), nor is it a phenomenon reserved for big-name celebs. For example, in 2009, a California woman won a $7 million lawsuit against the (very rich) man who concealed his status and gave her herpes. These hard-to-win cases are extremely rare -- but anecdotally, at least, the dishonesty around this subject is hardly unusual. I decided to talk to people about how they had lied, and been lied to, about incurable but common STDs like herpes and HPV. . . .

May 16, 2011 in In the Courts, Sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Male Condom Gets an Upgrade

Time Magazine: Could a New 'Viagra Condom' Encourage Safer Sex?, by Meredith Melnick:

Condom The problem with condoms is that they don't get used as often as they should. But an innovative new product by a British biotech firm may change men's minds: called CSD500, the condom helps men keep their erection longer.

It's been dubbed the "Viagra condom," but that's not entirely accurate. The new product is lined with a vasodilating gel, which increases blood flow to the penis and helps maintain erection. But unlike the pill, it's not designed for men who have erectile dysfunction; rather, it's meant for men who have trouble keeping erectios specifically while using a condom. . . .

May 11, 2011 in Contraception, Medical News, Men and Reproduction, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Study Finds that Teens Often Underestimate Risks of Oral Sex

Huff. Post: HPV From Oral Sex? Young People Often Underestimate The Risk, by Leigh Vinocur:

Ironically, April is both Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness month as well as Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness month. Many people don't even realize how these two diseases are linked and how they both pose a serious health risk, especially for our adolescent boys.

As far as STDs, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even though only a quarter of the sexually active population is made up of people age 15 to 24, this group comprises almost half of the newly diagnosed 19 million STD cases each year.

A recent study looked at sexual activity in the high school population. Published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, this study found that for high school students, oral sex was most commonly their first sexual experience when they were beginning experimentation with sexual activity. It was twice as likely to precede vaginal intercourse than the other way around. Teens who engaged in oral sex by 9th grade were more likely to eventually have had vaginal intercourse by the end of 11th grade. In fact, often experimentation with oral sex led to riskier sexual activity within six months. . . .

April 22, 2011 in Medical News, Sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)