Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Phoenix School Board Votes to Remove Pages from Biology Textbook Discussing STDs, Contraception, and Abortion

The New York Times: In Arizona, a Textbook Fuels a Broader Dispute Over Sex Education, by Rick Rojas:

The textbook, the one with the wide-eyed lemur peering off the cover, has been handed out for years to students in honors biology classes at the high schools here, offering lessons on bread-and-butter subjects like mitosis and meiosis, photosynthesis and anatomy.

But now, the school board in this suburb of Phoenix has voted to excise or redact two pages deep inside the book — 544 and 545 — because they discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, including mifepristone, a drug that can be used to prevent or halt a pregnancy. . . .

November 29, 2014 in Abortion, Contraception, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Researchers Predict Legalizing Prostitution Would Lower the Spread of HIV Infections

Jezebel: Legalizing Prostitution Could Lower the Spread of HIV by One-Third, by Hillary Crosley:

Here's a crazy thought; legalizing prostitution could reduce the number of international HIV infections for female sex workers by at least a third in several countries. Health experts presented this new research drawn from Canada, India and Kenya during the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday. . . .

July 30, 2014 in International, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ninth Circuit Case Addresses Constitutionality of Requiring Porn Actors to Wear Condoms

The National Law Journal: A Condom Conundrum: Can Los Angeles demand that porn actors wear them?, by Amanda Bronstad:

At first blush, a case now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit appears downright raunchy, brought by a Los Angeles studio whose films have titles like "Bedside Brat," and "Sex in Dangerous Places."

But the appeal, by Vivid Entertain­ment LLC, raises an intriguing constitutional issue: How far does the First Amendment go in protecting the free-speech rights of actors who have sex with each other in movies? . . .

March 30, 2014 in Film, In the Courts, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Arizona Willing to Sacrifice Pregnancy Prevention and Other Women's Health Services in Zeal to Attack Abortion

The American Prospect: Razing Arizona Women's Health Care, by Amelia Thomson-Deveaux:

Like Napoleon forging into the Russian winter, anti-choice politicians are loath to give up on abortion restrictions, however minor, until the Supreme Court forces them to. On Wednesday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a law that would strip Medicaid funding from doctors and clinics who perform abortions. Poor women already can’t use federal dollars to cover abortion procedures—that’s been illegal since the late 1970s. The law, which was struck down by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in August, instead would prevent the state’s abortion providers from being reimbursed by Medicaid for providing any kind of care to low-income women, whether it’s breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, or contraceptive services. . . .

Indiana made a similar bid for the Supreme Court’s attention after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down its law, which prohibited Planned Parenthood from receiving state or federal funds. But the justices refused to hear the case. Caitlin Borgmann, a professor of law at the City University of New York, says it’s unlikely, given the justices’ unwillingness to hear Indiana’s appeal, that Arizona’s petition will be successful. “To read the statute as broadly as Arizona wants would allow the state to exclude providers for any reason,” says Borgmann. “Such a precedent ought to give the Supreme Court pause too, because its implications extend far beyond abortion.” . . .

It’s undeniable that without programs like Medicaid, which help low-income women afford contraception, the abortion rate in the country would be much higher. . . . “Laws like these reveal the anti-abortion rights movement for what it is,” Borgmann says. “Their goal is to be punitive and prevent access to abortion, not come up with solutions to help women make autonomous decisions about their health.” . . .

November 22, 2013 in Abortion, Contraception, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

HPV Vaccination Rate Among Teenage Girls Remains Low

The New York Times: HPV Vaccine Not Reaching Enough Girls, C.D.C. Says, by Sabrina Tavernise:

The very low vaccination rate for teenage girls against the human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection and a principal cause of cervical cancer — did not improve at all from 2011 to 2012, and health officials on Thursday said a survey found that doctors were often failing to bring it up or recommend it when girls came in for other reasons. . . .

July 31, 2013 in Medical News, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Roger Magnusson on Australia's Legal Responses to HIV and other STIs

Roger Magnusson (University of Sydney) has posted Law's Role in Promoting Sexual Health in Australia on SSRN. Here is the abstract: 

This paper explains some of the principle ways in which public health laws seek to influence sexual R_Magnusson behaviour and rates of transmission of STIs (sexually transmissible infections), with particular reference to HIV. It then presents two competing models for identifying, evaluating and debating the values inherent in legal and policy responses to STIs in Australia. These are, firstly, the “contain and control” model inherited from historical responses to contagious diseases, and secondly, a “human rights” model, which seeks to implement a harm minimization approach to STIs and assumes a happy alignment, in most circumstances, between the public health interest and individual rights and interests. Elements of both approaches are evident in Australian laws responding to HIV and other STIs. Despite the acknowledged success of Australia’s response to HIV, the rate of new infections is rising, contributing to debate about the appropriate limits of a human rights-focused approach. The paper evaluates, in particular, debates about the persistent criminalization of HIV and STI transmission as a public health tool; the policy challenges posed by risk-seeking behavior; and the challenge to “HIV exceptionalism” posed by the “test and treat” strategy in the United States, which emphasizes opt-out HIV testing and wider use of HIV test data.

July 23, 2013 in International, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Boston College Cracks Down on Safe Sex Group's Distribution of Condoms

The New York Times: Ban on Free Condoms Jeopardizes Group’s Work With Catholic College, by Jess Bidgood:

Chelsea Lennox, a junior at Boston College, the Gothic university overlooking this natty Boston suburb, picked up a bouquet of brightly colored condom packages and put them into the envelope that she views as a tiny beacon of sexual health resources at the deeply Catholic institution.

“We have S.T.I. facts, birth control choices, how to choose one, and then Planned Parenthood locations and resources,” Ms. Lennox said of the contents, ready for distribution. . . .

April 9, 2013 in Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 4, 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. . . .

April 4, 2013 in Congress, International, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 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 27, 2013 in International, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Medical Groups Encourage Screening for Reproductive Coercion

Medical News Today:  Reproductive Coercion Common in Abusive Relationships, by Kelly Fitzgerald:

Adolescent girls and women should now be screened for reproductive coercion, a form of abuse that occurs when male partners sabotage their contraception intentionally.

This form of abuse, known as reproductive coercion, can manifest in several ways, such as deliberately giving a partner a sexually transmitted disease (STIs), forcing a partner to have an undesired abortion or pregnancy, or seizing control of a woman's contraceptive pills. . . .

January 27, 2013 in Abortion, Contraception, Medical News, Men and Reproduction, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Guttmacher Institute Releases 2012 State Policy Review on Reproductive Health and Rights

Guttmacher Institute:  Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights:  2012 State Policy Review:

                      State-restrictions-650px_000

Reproductive health and rights was once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2012. Over the course of the year, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. Although this is a sharp decrease from the record-breaking 92 abortion restrictions enacted in 2011, it is the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions. . . .

January 6, 2013 in Abortion, Contraception, Fetal Rights, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP), Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Federal Court Ruling Expected on Alabama Policy Isolating Inmates with H.I.V.

The New York Times: Ruling Soon on Isolation of Inmates With H.I.V., by Robbie Brown: Image1

ATLANTA — In his first week in prison in Alabama, Albert Knox, a former pimp convicted of cocaine possession, tested positive for H.I.V.

Afterward, he says, guards called out “dead man walking” as he passed through the halls. He was banned from eating in the cafeteria, working around food or visiting with classmates in his substance-abuse program. . . .

November 20, 2012 in In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Benjamin Meier, Kristen Brugh, and Yasmin Halima on Human Rights Based Approach to Global HIV/AIDS Policy

Benjamin Mason Meier (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Kristen Nicole Brugh (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), & Yasmin Halima have posted Conceptualizing a Human Right to Prevention in Global HIV/AIDS Policy on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

AIDS_ribbonGiven current constraints on universal treatment campaigns, recent advances in public health prevention initiatives have revitalized efforts to stem the tide of HIV transmission. Yet despite a growing imperative for prevention — supported by the promise of behavioral, structural, and biomedical approaches to lower the incidence of HIV — human rights frameworks remain limited in addressing collective prevention policy through global health governance. Assessing the evolution of rights-based approaches to global HIV/AIDS policy, this review finds human rights to have shifted from collective public health to individual treatment access. While the advent of the HIV/AIDS pandemic gave meaning to rights in framing global health policy, the application of rights in treatment access litigation came at the expense of public health prevention efforts. Where the human rights framework remains limited to individual rights enforced against a state duty bearer, such rights have faced constrained application in framing population-level policy to realize the public good of HIV prevention. Concluding that human rights frameworks must be developed to reflect the complementarity of individual treatment and collective prevention, this article conceptualizes collective rights to public health, structuring collective combination prevention to alleviate limitations on individual rights frameworks and frame rights-based global HIV/AIDS policy to assure research expansion, prevention access, and health system integration.

October 17, 2012 in International, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Anna Carpenter on Women and HIV/AIDS Prevention

Anna E. Carpenter (Georgetown University Law Center) has posted Women and HIV/AIDS: Towards a Jurisprudence of Social and Economic Rights on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

This article argues that traditional HIV/AIDS prevention efforts focused on addressing individual risk factors are not sufficient to end the spread of the disease among women. Rather, systemic factors rooted in economic and gender inequality are the primary drivers of the HIV epidemic among women. As a result, the U.S. response to HIV/AIDS must address these factors, namely poverty and violence. The article then argues for a commitment to a social and economic rights framework as a key part of efforts to end the HIV epidemic. The social and economic rights critical to ending the HIV epidemic are those that would lift women and their families out of poverty, help them secure stable housing, give them the economic means to leave violent relationships, and give them access to health care. These rights include a right to a minimum level of economic support, a right to housing, and a right to health. The article finally articulates how a positive rights framework would offer descriptive, practical, and aspirational benefits necessary to eradicate the HIV epidemic among U.S. women.

September 22, 2012 in Poverty, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scott Burris and Matthew Weait on Criminalization and Moral Responsibility for Knowing Sexual Transmission of HIV

Scott Burris (Temple University – James E. Beasley School of Law) and Matthew Weait (University of London – Birkbeck College, School of Law) have posted Criminalisation and Moral Responsibility for the Sexual Transmission of HIV on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The essay that follows is an effort to take on a narrow but important question in a serious, though limited, way. The question is whether there is a MORAL case for lifting primary responsibility for Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention from the shoulders of those who know they are infected. The question is important because, for many people, it feels so obviously right to require those with HIV to accept this responsibility that punishing them as criminals if they fail to do so seems a natural, logical and entirely fair next step. As far as we can tell, objections to HIV exposure or transmission laws to date have rested on practical, rather than moral concerns. We will ask whether there is a good moral case to be made against criminalisation.

There are two important things we will not do. We will not address the use of criminal law to deter or punish people who deliberately expose others to HIV with the aim of causing harm or with callous disregard of a significant risk of transmission. Like other commentators, we regard trying to harm others as wrongful and subject to prosecution regardless of the weapon used; our only concern in such a case, from the HIV perspective, is that a defendant not be punished more harshly only because the chosen weapon was the virus3 The second thing we will not do is attempt a moral analysis that is culturally comprehensive. The people of the world have developed many powerful systems of moral thought. We investigate our moral question within just one, the Western tradition of deontological ethics and liberal political philosophy. Our purpose is not, ultimately, to define for all people and all places a morality of HIV exposure, but to test whether the case for assigning primary moral responsibility for HIV to the person infected is as strong as it is assumed to be.

September 22, 2012 in Bioethics, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 11, 2012

WHO and CDC Warn Gonorrhea Could Become Uncurable

U.S. News and World Report: World Health Organization warns Gonorrhea Could Join HIV as 'Uncurable', by Jason Koebler:

Both the WHO and the CDC say it's time to "sound the alarm" on the increase in drug-resistant gonorrhea

First, it was the Centers for Disease Control—now, the World Health Organization is warning that Gonorrhea could join herpes and HIV/AIDS as "uncurable" sexually-transmitted diseases.

"We're sitting on the edge of a worldwide crisis," says Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, of WHO's department of reproductive health and research. "There's a general complacency around sexually transmitted infections in general, and this doesn't have the same political or social pressure as HIV. That's because gonorrhea has been so easily curable so far, but in the future, that won't be the case.". . .

June 11, 2012 in International, Medical News, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease | 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)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Study Shows What Happens When College Students Can't Obtain Subsidized Birth Control

Slate: The Aspirin Strategy: What happens to college sex when you stop subsidizing birth control?, by William Saletan:

Rush Limbaugh has a solution for women who have trouble affording contraception: Have less sex. Instead of asking your employer or college to provide insurance that covers birth control, pay for your birth control yourself. Or get your boyfriend to pay for it. Or just keep your knees together so you won’t have to worry about getting pregnant. . . .

[T]here’s evidence that many college women . . . have done what Limbaugh suggested. Faced with a contraceptive price hike in 2007, they cut back on sex. And yet, the rate of accidental pregnancy among college women didn’t decline. In fact, among those who were financially stressed, the rate increased, apparently because many of them responded to the higher cost of birth-control pills by shifting to cheaper, riskier methods, or to unprotected sex. . . .

March 12, 2012 in Contraception, In the Media, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mary Fan on Decentralizing STD Surveillance

Mary D. Fan (University of Washington School of Law) has posted Decentralizing STD Surveillance: Toward Better Informed Sexual Consent on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

Historically, sexually transmitted diseases have been treated as an affliction of the morally degenerate Other and the consequence of deviation from the dominant sexual culture. Sexual culture and our national sexual health have, however, evolved. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also referred to as STIs) are widespread and spreading. Transmission is facilitated by social, cultural and technological shifts. These social shifts strain our STD surveillance polices and laws, which remain strongly shaped by the inherited paradigm of the past. Information and power is centralized in the state, which receives, stores, and sometimes acts -- albeit with increasing infrequency in a time of severe budgetary strain -- on information reluctantly reported by health care providers. Because of targeted intervention and concentrated surveillance in low-income health settings, socially and economically marginalized groups continue to bear the heaviest burden of surveillance. Sexual culture shifts and the resulting health ramifications, however, cut across traditional social categories such as class, age, sexual orientation, and race.

This article explores how public health policies can respond to changing sexual culture and the need for more reliable information sharing by facilitating voluntary test results sharing and priority flagging of actors most in need of intervention. The Article advocates for utilizing the better vantage of doctors to identify potentially problematic actors based on reports by patients, in the privacy of the doctor’s office, about individuals who endangered their health. In a time when budget-strapped public health authorities are in triage mode and unable to engage in contact-tracing for all cases, a priority flag approach would be more efficient in identifying potentially problematic actors in need of stronger surveillance and educational intervention. This method of identification is also salutary because it relies on accounts of behavior warranting concern, rather than on heuristics about who is high-risk that may reinforce old stigmas and stereotypes.

February 26, 2012 in Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Carissima Mathen and Michael Plaxton on HIV, Consent, and Criminal Culpability

Carissima Mathen (University of Ottawa) & Michael Plaxton (University of Saskatchewan) have posted HIV, Consent and Criminal Wrongs on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Over a decade has elapsed since, in R. v. Cuerrier, the Supreme Court of Canada concluded that those who knowingly fail to disclose HIV positive status to their sexual partners are criminally culpable. Since then, the use of the criminal law in these circumstances has been criticized. It is suggested, in particular, that advances in the treatment of HIV-AIDS render several of Cuerrier’s key premises tenuous and in need of reconsideration. The Supreme Court has created an opportunity for such reconsideration in two appeals: R. v Mabior and R. v. DC. In this article we suggest that the Court should reconsider Cuerrier in a fundamentally different way, engaging more squarely with the boundaries of sexual assault. We believe that much of the criticism of Cuerrier, while thoughtful and important, proceeds from questionable premises of criminal responsibility that carry serious implications for the concept of consent to sexual activity.

February 6, 2012 in Scholarship and Research, Sexual Assault, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)