May 14, 2013
Catholic/Secular Hospital Mergers Threaten Access to Reproductive Health Care
The New York Times: Hospital Mergers Reset Abortion-Access Battle, by Kirk Johnson:
Politicians seeking to restrict access to abortion, a marked trend this year from North Dakota to Arkansas, tend not to get much traction in this part of the country.
Washington is heavily Democratic, leaning left especially on social issues. A majority of voters even put into law a statutory right to abortion in 1970 — the only state ever to do that. The governor, Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is pushing the Legislature even now to pass a law at a special session on Monday requiring health insurers to pay for elective abortions, another first for the state if it makes it to Mr. Inslee’s desk.
But now a wave of proposed and completed mergers between secular and Roman Catholic hospitals, which are barred by church doctrine from performing procedures that could harm the unborn, is raising the prospect that unelected health care administrators could go where politicians could not. . . .
H/T: Grayson Barber
In addition to prohibiting abortions and certain kinds of end-of-life care, Catholic hospitals also refuse to provide contraception (often including emergency contraception for rape survivors), sterilizations, and infertility services. For more about the threats posed by these mergers, see the MergerWatch website.
April 04, 2013
North Carolina Sterilizations Reexamined
Charlotte Observer: Legacy of N.C. sterilization scrutinized, by Ann Doss Helms:
As N.C. lawmakers revive the question of victim compensation, students and professors gathered at Wake Forest University on Thursday for a two-day conference on the impact of the state’s eugenic sterilization program.
From 1929 to 1974, long after most states abandoned similar efforts, the Eugenics Board of North Carolina authorized sterilization of roughly 7,600 women, men and children who were deemed unfit for parenthood. Mental illness, epilepsy and “feeble-mindedness” – often gauged by low scores on now-discredited IQ tests – were grounds for sterilization, with or without the patient’s consent. . . .
February 19, 2013
UN Report Condemns Surgeries on Intersex Children
Feminist Majority Foundation: UN Condemns "Normalization" Surgeries of Intersex Children:
Last week the United Nations released a report condemning the practice of performing "normalization" surgeries on intersex children.
The Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) to the United Nation's Human Rights Council submitted a report to the General Assembly that addressed the practice of surgically altering children born with ambiguous genitalia.According to the report [PDF], "Children who are born with atypical sex characteristics are often subject to irreversible sex assignment, involuntary sterilization, involuntary genital normalizing surgery, performed without their informed consent, or that of their parents, 'in an attempt to fix their sex', leaving them with permanent, irreversible infertility and causing severe mental suffering.". . .
January 31, 2013
Swedish Court Overturns Law Forcing Sterilization On Transgender People Seeking a Legal Change of Sex
Time: Transgender People in Sweden No Longer Face Forced Sterilization, by Rebecca Nelson:
Until late last week one of Europe’s most progressive nations had one of the continent’s most repressive policies on transgender people. Swedish law had required all transgender people to undergo sterilization if they want to legally change their sex. In a Dec. 19 decision, the Stockholm Administrative Court of Appeal overturned the law, declaring it unconstitutional. . . .
December 05, 2012
Pamela Cox on Marginalized Mothers and Reproductive Autonomy
Pamela Cox (University of Essex) has posted Marginalized Mothers, Reproductive Autonomy, and 'Repeat Losses to Care' on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Over 70,000 children are ‘looked after’ by local authorities in England and Wales. Emerging research suggests that a significant proportion of their birth parents have either already lost a child to permanent adoption or will go on to lose others. These ‘repeat loss’ cases raise difficult questions about marginalized mothers and their reproductive autonomy. This article considers past and present tactics used by the state in its attempts to limit that autonomy, including institutionalization, sterilization, long‐acting contraception, and permanent adoption. It argues that the gradual democratization of intimate citizenship over the past century, defined as a person's ability to choose and direct their intimate relationships, has obliged the contemporary state to develop new tactics which aim to build personal capacity and to balance enhanced child protection with enhanced reproductive autonomy.
June 24, 2012
North Carolina Senate Rejects Funds for Forced Sterilization Victims
ShelbyStar.com: State: No compensation for sterilization victims, by Leo Hohmann:
A dark chapter in North Carolina’s history in which the state forcibly sterilized 7,600 of its own citizens ended in 1974, but the push to compen-sate the victims will apparently drag on into the next budget year.
Legislators did not include any money in a state budget deal for living victims of the North Carolina “eugenics” program, carried out by a state-sanctioned board from 1929 through 1974. . . .
House leaders passed a compensation plan two weeks ago to pay $50,000 to living victims. But the deal fell apart in the Senate. . . .
May 16, 2012
Bill Filed in North Carolina To Compensate Sterilization Victims
Politico: North Carolina may compensate sterilization victims, by MacKenzie Weinger:
The North Carolina legislature is moving to compensate victims of involuntary sterilization, according to a report.
Lawmakers filed a bill Wednesday recommending the state pay victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program $50,000 each, The Associated Press reported. North Carolina’s program forcibly sterilized more than 7,600 people from 1929-1974. . . .
April 29, 2012
Forced Abortions, Sterilizations Continue in China
Los Angeles Times: Activists: Abuses exposed by escaped Chinese dissident continue, by Emily Alpert:
Blind human rights activist and attorney Chen Guangcheng, who fellow activists say escaped from house arrest last weekend, had worked to expose forced sterilization and other abuses by Chinese authorities charged with family planning until he was arrested and confined in 2005.
Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch China director, said the abuses that Chen revealed have continued, even though the Chinese law requiring families to have only one child is enforced unevenly. Forced abortions, sterilizations, detentions, beatings and firings for those who violate the rules have been reported, activists say. . . .
February 26, 2012
Catholic Hospital Expansions Raise Concerns Over Access to Reproductive Health Services
The New York Times: Catholic Hospitals Expand, Religious Strings Attached, by Reed Abelson:
As Roman Catholic leaders and government officials clash over the proper role of religion and reproductive health, shifts in health care economics are magnifying the tension. Financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly joining with smaller secular hospitals, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion and sterilization.
In Seattle, Swedish Health Services has offered elective abortions for decades. But the hospital agreed to stop when it joined forces this month with Providence Health & Services, one of the nation’s largest Catholic systems. . . .
February 15, 2012
Hindering Reproductive Freedom Through Financial Barriers
The New York Times – Economix blog: Raising the Price of Reproductive Rights, by Nancy Folbre:
A political and cultural battle has now become an economic siege. Having failed to roll back legal access to abortion and contraception, opponents now seek to make them as costly as possible.
It’s a clever strategy, because it does not require majority political support. Small legal and bureaucratic changes can often be carried out under the political radar. The women most directly affected are those with the weakest political voice and the lowest discretionary income.
In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last month, 23 percent of Americans said abortion should not be permitted. In many states, a much larger percentage seems willing to go along with efforts to make it extremely difficult to obtain. . . .
January 25, 2012
Massachusetts Appeals Court Overturns Order Requiring Forced Abortion and Sterilization of Mentally Ill Woman
MSNBC.com: Forced abortion for a mentally ill woman? No way, says Mass. appeals court, by Jame Eng:
A Massachusetts appeals court has verbally skewered a judge who ordered that a mentally ill woman have an abortion against her will even if it meant she had to be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed” into a hospital.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court this week overturned the ruling by Norfolk Probate Judge Christina L. Harms, who had also ordered that the 32-year-old woman, known as “Mary Moe,” be sterilized. . . .
December 11, 2011
North Carolina Weighs Restitution for Victims Sterilized Under State's Eugenics Program
The New York Times: Thousands Sterilized, a State Weighs Restitution, by Kim Severson:
Charles Holt, 62, spreads a cache of vintage government records across his trailer floor. They are the stark facts of his state-ordered sterilization.
The reports begin when he was barely a teenager, fighting at school and masturbating openly. A social worker wrote that he and his parents were of “rather low mentality.” Mr. Holt was sent to a state home for people with mental and emotional problems. In 1968, when he was ready to get out and start life as an adult, the Eugenics Board of North Carolina ruled that he should first have a vasectomy. . . .
September 15, 2011
On Rick Perry's Vasectomy
RH Reality Check: Rick Perry’s Vasectomy: The Governor's Reliance on What He Denies to His Fellow Texans, by Carole Joffe:
Rick Perry has only two children?! As the biographical information flashed by on television during a recent debate of Republican presidential hopefuls, it was strangely incongruous to see that the rising star of the religious right was so woefully behind his competitors. Rick Santorum and Jon Hunstman led the pack with seven kids each, followed by Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachman with five (and the 23 children she had fostered). To be sure, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain also had a paltry two, but they, unlike Perry, were not considered to be the new favorite of the social conservative wing of the Republican. Recent polls show Perry supplanting Bachman in that role, notwithstanding her impressive numbers. . . .
The reason that Rick Perry has “only” two children, one can say with confidence about this normally private matter, is because of the widely disseminated fact of his vasectomy. cited in the New York Times among other places. (This procedure, to the delight of late night comedians, was apparently performed by his father-in-law).
Speaking as a reproductive health advocate, I have quite mixed feelings about Perry’s decision (presumably made with his wife) to have a vasectomy. . . .
June 23, 2011
North Carolina Hears from Forced Sterlization Victims and Considers Compensation
NPR: N.C. Considers Paying Forced Sterilization Victims, by Julie Rose:
Barely 40 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.
But North Carolina wasn't alone: More than half of states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, some of which persisted into the 1970s.
North Carolina is now considering compensating its sterilization victims. A state panel heard from some of them Wednesday. They were mostly poor and uneducated — both black and white — and often just girls when it happened. . . .
February 19, 2011
Obama Administration Revises Bush-Era Religious Refusal Rule
The New York Times: A Bush Rule on Providers of Abortions Is Revised, by Robert Pear:
The Obama administration on Friday rescinded most of a 2008 rule that granted sweeping protections to health care providers who opposed abortion, sterilization and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the rule, issued in the last days of the Bush administration, could “negatively impact patient access to contraception and certain other medical services.”
Federal laws make clear that health care providers cannot be compelled to perform or assist in an abortion, Ms. Sebelius said. The Bush rule went far beyond these laws and upset the balance between patients’ rights to obtain health care and “the conscience rights of health care providers,” she added. . . .
February 01, 2011
Nicholas Kristof on Clashes Between Catholic Church and Hospitals that Provide Lifesaving Reproductive Health Care
The New York Times: Tussling Over Jesus, by Nicholas D. Kristof:
The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: “Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted.”
Yet the person giving Jesus the heave-ho in this case was not a Bethlehem innkeeper. Nor was it an overzealous mayor angering conservatives by pulling down Christmas decorations. Rather, it was a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, stripping St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.
The hospital’s offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise. . . .
November 28, 2010
Paul Lombardo on the History of Eugenics in the United States
In 1907, Indiana passed the first involuntary sterilization law in the world based on the theory of eugenics. In time, more than thirty states and a dozen foreign countries followed Indiana’s lead in passing sterilization laws; those and other laws restricting immigration and regulating marriage on “eugenic” grounds were still in effect in the United States as late as the 1970s.
The centennial of Indiana’s pioneering enactment provided an opportune time to evaluate the historical significance of eugenics in America. On April 12, 2007, a group that included scholars, state officials, and members of the public assembled in Indianapolis for the culmination of the Indiana Eugenics Legacy Project. The project was designed to advance historical research on eugenics, to deepen our understanding of the varied ways “eugenics” was expressed intellectually, legally, and socially, and to help draw lessons from history for current policy makers.
The volume described in this Introduction was the final product of the Indiana Eugenics Legacy Project. In the past twenty-five years, scholars have documented the wide appeal of eugenics and A Century of Eugenics, edited by Paul A. Lombardo (forthcoming from the Indiana University Press) builds on that growing literature. In contrast to the many wide-ranging scholarly and popular surveys of eugenics already available, this book is an exploration of the detailed and varied history of eugenics in America at the state and local levels. It contains original scholarship that probes practices in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina and Alabama, along with other papers that explore eugenics from perspectives that include attention to bioethics, law, and race. We intend to contribute to the ongoing national discussion about the meanings of “eugenics” and how those meanings played out in specific and concrete contexts.
October 18, 2010
Robert Goldstein on Women's Procreative Choice
For a substantial part of women’s lives, regulating fertility is a primary project. This Article depicts the life course of women’s procreative choice through a series of complex visual representations of data derived from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and the National Survey of Family Growth 2002. These graphic representations illustrate that preventing procreation, through a variety of choices, including contraception, sterilization, abortion, abstinence, and partner choice, occupies most of a woman’s fertile years, as compared with childbirth.
September 22, 2010
Thaddeus Pope on Religious Refusals and Health Care
Thaddeus Mason Pope (Widener University Law School) has posted Legal Briefing: Conscience Clauses and Conscientious Refusal on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This issue’s “Legal Briefing” column covers legal developments pertaining to conscience clauses and conscientious refusal. Not only has this topic been the subject of recent articles in this journal, but it has also been the subject of numerous public and professional discussions. Over the past several months, conscientious refusal disputes have had an unusually high profile not only in courthouses, but also in legislative and regulatory halls across the United States.
Healthcare providers’ own moral beliefs have been obstructing and are expected to increasingly obstruct patients’ access to medical services. For example, some providers, on ethical or moral grounds, have denied: (1) sterilization procedures to pregnant patients, (2) pain medications in end-of-life situations, and (3) information about emergency contraception to rape victims. On the other hand, many healthcare providers have been forced to provide medical treatment that is inconsistent with their moral beliefs.
There are two fundamental types of conscientious objection laws. First, there are laws that permit healthcare workers to refuse providing – on ethical, moral, or religious grounds – healthcare services that they might otherwise have a legal or employer-mandated obligation to provide. Second, there are laws directed at forcing healthcare workers to provide services to which they might have ethical, moral, or religious objections. Both types of laws are rarely comprehensive, but instead target: (1) certain types of healthcare providers, (2) specific categories of healthcare services, (3) specific patient circumstances, and (4) certain conditions under which a right or obligation is triggered.
For the sake of clarity, I have grouped recent legal developments concerning conscientious refusal into eight categories: (1) abortion: right to refuse; (2) abortion: duty to provide; (3) contraception: right to refuse; (4) contraception: duty to provide; (5) sterilization: right to refuse; (6) fertility, HIV, vaccines, counseling; (7) end-of-life measures: right to refuse; and (8) comprehensive laws: right to refuse.
September 21, 2010
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Letter Asks HHS Not to Include Birth Control Pills or Sterilization as "Preventive Services" in New Health Care Regs
Modern Healthcare: Bishops stress birth-control stance to HHS, by Joe Carlson:
Catholic hospitals do not offer contraceptives or sterilizations to their patients as a matter of conscience, but American bishops say that regulations under debate in the healthcare reform law scheduled to go into effect Thursday could force religious healthcare providers to offer the services to their own employees.HHS officials are finalizing the regulations on the specific services that group health insurance plans will be required to offer to consumers as “preventive services” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The reform law requires private health plans to cover evidence-based preventive services and to eliminate any cost-sharing requirements for them.
The July 14 interim final rule defining the services included coverage of chronic disease screenings, prenatal care and routine doctor visits for infants and children, but left open the question of what services will be required under preventive health services for women.
In a six-page letter hand-delivered to HHS, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the federal rule-makers to reject calls to define family planning services such as contraceptive pills and sterilization as “preventive services” because family-planning efforts do not aim to cure disease. “To prevent pregnancy is not to prevent a disease,” the bishops wrote. . . .