Tuesday, February 27, 2018
ProPublica (Feb. 22, 2018): A Larger Role for Midwives Could Improve Deficient U.S. Care for Mothers and Babies, by Nina Martin:
The results of a five-year study, conducted by researchers in both the U.S. and Canada, on the effects of midwifery on maternal and infant health are in. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE; it analyzes hundreds of laws throughout the United States that dictate what a midwife can and cannot do when it comes to prenatal care and the birthing process.
'We have been able to establish that midwifery care is strongly associated with lower interventions, cost-effectiveness and improved outcomes,' said lead researcher Saraswathi Vedam, an associate professor of midwifery who heads the Birth Place Lab at the University of British Columbia.
The midwife model emphasizes community-based maternal and infant care along with avoiding any unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, interventions. Midwives have long been widely embraced in Europe as a positive component of maternal care. In the U.S., though, midwives often represent a "culture war that encompasses gender, race, class, economic competition, professional and personal autonomy, risk versus safety, and philosophical differences."
The title "midwife" can have multiple meanings, ranging from "certified nurse-midwives," to "direct-entry midwives," to "lay midwives." Depending on the title and the state in which the midwife works, the midwife will have a different level of training and may or may not be licensed or regulated by the state.
This new study indicates, though, that midwives may be part of the answer to the U.S.'s problematic infant and maternal mortality rates. Severe maternal complications have sharply risen over the past 20 years, and maternal care is seriously sparse in certain areas of the country. "Nearly half of U.S. counties don't have a single practicing obstetrician-gynecologist."
While midwife regulations vary widely among states, the study shows that states that have more fully integrated midwifery systems within their health care have significantly better outcomes for mothers and babies. States with restrictive midwife regulations--like Alabama, Ohio, and Mississippi--regularly score much lower on tests of maternal and neonatal well-being.
Alabama, which has the worst infant mortality rate in the country, has long had strict midwife regulations, "reflecting attitudes that wiped out the state's once-rich tradition of black birth attendants." Alabama lawmakers, though, recently passed a bill legalizing certified professional midwives, taking one small step toward the process of greater midwife integration, and, hopefully, improved maternal and infant health care across racial and economic lines.
Access to midwifery is often split among racial lines, as many of the states with the worst outcomes (and higher levels of opposition to midwives), including Alabama, have large black populations. The study suggests a correlation between improved access to midwifery and reduced racial disparities in the maternal health care field.
Jennie Joseph, a British-trained midwife who runs the Florida birthing center and nonprofit Commonsense Childbirth affirms this:
“It’s a model that somewhat mitigates the impact of any systemic racial bias. You listen. You’re compassionate. There’s such a depth of racism that’s intermingled with [medical] systems. If you’re practicing in [the midwifery] model you’re mitigating this without even realizing it.”
The study, though, does not conclude that better midwife access will directly lead to better outcomes or vice versa. It acknowledges that many other factors also affect maternal and infant health among states, including access to preventative care, insurance, and rates of chronic disease.
Nonetheless, maternal health advocates have long recognized the benefits of midwifery and this is not the only study to highlight the positive effects of supporting midwives. A 2014 study found that integrating midwives into health care could prevent more than 80 percent of maternal and infant fatalities worldwide, in both low and high-resource communities. Even in the U.S., organizations such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have begun embracing nurse-midwives despite lingering skepticism by many.
Monday, February 12, 2018
CUNY Law's Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic Co-Hosting Symposium on Poverty and Women in the U.S.
On February 27, 2018, the Center for Reproductive Rights, CUNY Law's Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic, NYU Law, and others will host a symposium titled "American Poverty and Gender: Government Control and Neglect of Women Living in Poverty."
After an opening keynote from Dr. Khiara Bridges, author of The Poverty of Privacy Rights, a panel of experts will address issues ranging from reproductive justice and maternal health to criminalization and its impact on women.
The moderated discussion follows the December 2017 fact-finding mission to the United States by Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. This forum aims to address the particular ways poverty affects women in the United States from an intersectional perspective considering gender, poverty, and race.
"American Poverty and Gender" is free and open to the public. It it will take place at NYU's Vanderbilt Hall on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
Vox (Jun. 29, 2017): California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death in childbirth, by Julia Belluz:
At the same time the global maternal death rate fell by nearly 44 percent, between 2000 and 2014, the United States watched its maternal mortality rate skyrocket 27 percent. Maternal mortality refers to "the death of a mother from pregnancy-related complications while she's carrying or within 42 days after birth." Childbirth is more dangerous in the U.S. than any other wealthy nation. The reason? The U.S. does not value its women.
The United States is in the company of only 12 other countries whose maternal mortality rates have actually increased in recent years, including North Korea and Zimbabwe.
Researchers and health care advocates argue that a high maternal death rate is a reflection of how that culture views its women.
[In the U.S.,] policies and funding dollars tend to focus on babies, not the women who bring them into the world. For example, Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income Americans, will only cover women during and shortly after pregnancy.
Texas, having rejected Medicaid expansion and closed the majority of its Planned Parenthood clinics, has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. California, however, has proven to be an exception within the nation. The California maternal mortality rate has steadily decreased over the same time that the rest of the nation's has risen, thanks in large part to the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC).
60% of maternal deaths are preventable and the complications that cause them should be anticipated. The CMQCC finds that even within an imperfect health care system, death from childbirth need not be an inevitability. Maternal deaths in the U.S. often result from common complications like hemorrhaging and preeclampsia. The CMQCC has enacted simple, lifesaving procedures over the last decade to reduce the number of unnecessary maternal deaths. And, they're working.
First, they aimed to lower the number of unnecessary C-sections performed. Cesarian sections are often prematurely offered by obstetricians who are short on time. The procedure can leave mothers with internal scar tissue that ultimately makes future pregnancies more dangerous by increasing the mother's risk of hemorrhaging.
As many maternal deaths are a result of hemorrhaging--a mother can bleed to death within five minutes--doctors set out to prepare every delivery room in hospitals participating in their program with a "hemorrhage cart," equipped with everything necessary to handle a bleeding problem the moment it begins.
In a recent study, researchers found a 21 percent reduction in severe complications related to hemorrhages in the hospitals participating in CMQCC's program. Hospitals not participating in the program saw only a one percent reduction.
California has demonstrated that even in our messy and imperfect health care system, progress is possible. They’ve shown the rest of the country what happens when people care about and organize around women’s health. Policymakers owe it to the 4 million babies born in the US each year, and their mothers, to figure out how to bring that success to families across the country.
How the current health care debate and the resulting volatility of the insurance market will affect the United States' maternal mortality rate going forward remains to be seen.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Huffington Post (Oct. 21, 2016): To Protect People Fleeing Mosul, Undo Iraq’s Anti-Shelter Policy, by Lisa Davis:
The battle for Mosul will result in a humanitarian crisis, but the need for shelter will go tragically unmet in Iraq. A major cause of the problem is the inexplicable policy of the Iraqi government that forbids local women's organizations from providing shelter to displaced persons. "Those who defy this policy," writes Davis, "by running safe houses for women escaping violence or shelters for families displaced by war, operate under government harassment and police raids."
Local groups in Iraq are well positioned to provide the aid and shelter that international groups, lacking information, connections and other important resources, cannot. The problem is not so much an explicit ban in Iraqi law but a misinterpretation of it. Many local officials believe only the government can run shelters. There is a also a deep-seated bias against shelters as places where groups of "immoral women" reside without male oversight. It is feared that opening shelters will encourage women to abandon their families.
Facing reality, some local officials have been forced to enter into agreements with local organizations to provide shelter. But more needs to be done. Advocacy groups are calling for the government to permit private shelters to operate without fear of reprisals.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Since 2013, the Urban Resource Institute’s program URIPALS (People and Animals Living Safely) has helped families with pets escape domestic violence and enter shelter together. Now the Institute has published a white paper exploring the connection between domestic violence and pet abuse. Excerpts from the report follow:
The connection between domestic violence and pet abuse is very real, and in many cases, pet ownership becomes a barrier to safety because of the survivor’s unwillingness to leave their pet behind. The choice in many cases is forced because there are few programs that allow survivors of domestic violence to bring their pets with them when entering a shelter. This reality points to a great need both in New York City and nationally for more services for domestic violence survivors who are pet owners. It is vital for domestic violence service providers, animal advocates, funders and government partners to work together to support the growth of programs like URIPALS in order to ensure that people are able to leave an abusive environment with their entire family—pets included.
Leveraging findings from URIPALS, the white paper reveals:
- Insights from pet owners and survivors of domestic violence
- Recommendations for building a co-sheltering model, where people and pets are able to live together in shelter
- Current barriers to safety for pet owners seeking shelter
Friday, July 8, 2016
New York Times (June 28, 2016): The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes, by Ruth Padawer:
By all accounts Dutee Chand is a running star likely to win a gold medal for India in the Rio Olympics. But along the way, she was been subjected to a litany of questions aimed at ascertaining her "true gender."
Like other female athletes before her who know nothing about testosterone levels or "abnormal" sexual development, Chand has been subjected to repeated doubts about her gender, to the extent that authorities in India demanded a "gender verification test" so that she would not be an embarrassment to Indian athletics. The gender verification test proved highly invasive and even mortifying. It was an evaluation of testosterone levels and included "measuring and palpating the clitoris, vagina and labia, as well as evaluating breast size and pubic hair scored on an illustrated five-grade scale." The results showed levels that were too high, and Chand was barred from racing. She was accused in the press of being a boy, a hermaphrodite and a transsexual.
Refusing to be cowed, Chand sued the International Olympic Committee for discrimination based on atypical sex development. The IOC has a sordid past of questioning whether women who excelled in athletics were actually male. Decades of suspicion that countries have been passing men off as women have led the IOC to develop protocols for verifying gender. But the chromosome test it preferred and the "hyperandrogenism" test that replaced it were flawed: they could not identify the women whose elevated levels of testosterone were actually of benefit in athletic competition. Still, the IOC claims it must protect female athletes from having “to compete against athletes with hormone-related performance advantages commonly associated with men.” Nonetheless, there is absolutely no hand-wringing over elevated testosterone levels in men, and no attempt is made to argue that they would give anyone an athletic advantage. Moreover, a number of physiological differences that offer specific competitive advantages--increased aerobic capacity, resistance to fatigue, exceptionally long limbs, flexible joints, large hands and feet and increased numbers of fast-twitch muscle fibers--remain completely unregulated, to say nothing of the socio-economic advantages that so many athletes bring to competition.
Last July, the Court of Arbitration for Sport disapproved of the IOC's testing women athletes for testosterone. In the court's estimation, the degree of advantage provided by naturally occurring testosterone is no more significant than is more significant "than the advantage derived from the numerous other variables which the parties acknowledge also affect female athletic performance: for example, nutrition, access to specialist training facilities and coaching and other genetic and biological variations.”
Thursday, June 9, 2016
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation via the New York Times: Closing the Gender Data Gap:
In a posting to the New York Times website, the Foundation reports that "[d]ata powers today’s world, informing decisions about everything from business and government to health care and education. For women and girls, however, basic information about their lives—the work they do, the challenges they face, even the very fact of their existence—is lacking. “When we don’t count women or girls, they literally become invisible,” says Sarah Hendriks, director of gender equality at the Foundation.
The implications of this gender-based data gap and the attendant invisibility of women are grave. Without accurate data on women and girls, governments and organizations are stymied in their efforts to empower women and improve lives, and there is no way to measure progress toward global gender equality goals. Moreover, in the specific context of birth registration, barriers can impede mobility and access to health care and other essential services for mothers and children.
The data gap often starts early, driven by information collection methods that are controlled by men. One example is designating the “head of household,” usually a man, as the provider of information about the family. Another is defining “work” as the typical 9-5 job outside the home. These male-biased surveys fail to capture women’s perspectives, needs and economic value.
The good news is that organizations are testing new ways to gather and analyze data in order to spur politicians to design programs that will improve the political participation and security of women around the world.
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
The New York Times: Justices’ Rulings Advance Gays; Women Less So, by Adam Liptak:
When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reflects on the Supreme Court’s recent rulings, she sees an inconsistency.
In its gay rights rulings, she told a law school audience last week, the court uses the soaring language of “equal dignity” and has endorsed the fundamental values of “liberty and equality.” Indeed, a court that just three decades ago allowed criminal prosecutions for gay sex now speaks with sympathy for gay families and seems on the cusp of embracing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
But in cases involving gender, she said, the court has never fully embraced “the ability of women to decide for themselves what their destiny will be.” She said the court’s five-justice conservative majority, all men, did not understand the challenges women face in achieving authentic equality. . . .
The New Yorker: What is a Woman?, by Michelle Goldberg:
The dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism.
O May 24th, a few dozen people gathered in a conference room at the Central Library, a century-old Georgian Revival building in downtown Portland, Oregon, for an event called Radfems Respond. The conference had been convened by a group that wanted to defend two positions that have made radical feminism anathema to much of the left. First, the organizers hoped to refute charges that the desire to ban prostitution implies hostility toward prostitutes. Then they were going to try to explain why, at a time when transgender rights are ascendant, radical feminists insist on regarding transgender women as men, who should not be allowed to use women’s facilities, such as public rest rooms, or to participate in events organized exclusively for women. . . .
Monday, June 30, 2014
The Washington Post - WonkBlog: The 49-page Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling mentioned women just 13 times, by Emily Badger:
. . . Th[e] idea — that women's reproductive well-being is vital to both their personal prospects and the country's fortunes — runs throughout Ginsburg's dissent. It is notably absent from Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion. . . .
Monday, July 22, 2013
Call for Abstracts for Special Issue of Studies in Law, Politics, and Society: "Problematizing Prostitution: Critical Research and Scholarship":
Deadline August 15, 2013
We invite submissions from scholars contributing to the literature in the field of prostitution or sex work. Please submit your abstract for consideration for a special issue of Studies in Law, Politics, and Society entitled “Problematizing prostitution: Critical research and scholarship.”
For this special edition, we seek research and scholarship that problematizes the prevailing understanding about sex work and prostitution. Ideally, the scholars who contribute to this issue will utilize diverse research methods to examine the lived experiences of people engaged in prostitution and the people and institutions that process them. Such critical research might examine the production of knowledge about prostitution by institutional stakeholders or how legal responses to prostitution and trafficking are affected by class, race, ethnicity, and migration. Other possible topics include critiques of a pathology-based focus in scholarship, policy, and practice; reexamination of the feminist pro-sex/abolition divide; critical reexamination of the historical theories and practices of prostitution; ethical concerns around research with people engaged in prostitution; problematizing victim-framing and conceptions of agency; challenging prostitution typologies; new configurations of sex, gender, and prostitution; and the influence of trafficking discourses on our analysis of prostitution and responses to prostitution.
We seek manuscripts that contribute innovations and challenges to prevailing prostitution theory, research, and ethics. Manuscripts that consider different types of prostitution and sex work as well as geographical variation are encouraged.
Please submit your abstracts to special issue organizers, Corey Shdaimah (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Katie Hail-Jares (email@example.com) by August 15th, 2013. After reviewing the abstracts, selected authors will be invited to submit an article for inclusion in the special edition by September 1st. More information about manuscript submission will be included in that invitation. Final submissions will be due February 1st, 2014. The journal and its editors retain final discretion about editorial and publication decisions.
For more information on Studies in Law, Politics, and Society see the homepage: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/products/books/series.htm?id=1059- 4337&PHPSESSID=vl01h74uvho5teclfslsuujai7
Saturday, June 29, 2013
YNN.com: Fallout from failure to pass Women's Equality Agenda, by Zack Fink:
The Legislature failed to pass Governor Andrew Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda before last week's end of session. Zack Fink has more on the fallout and the blame game that's being played out between the Assembly and the State Senate.When Governor Cuomo's ten point women's equality agenda failed in the legislature, there was plenty of blame to go around. The Assembly majority blamed the State Senate for passing only nine of ten points and the Senate majority blamed the Assembly for passing all ten, including a controversial abortion provision that was dead on arrival in the Senate. . . .
Thursday, May 23, 2013
The New York Times: Unexcited? There May Be a Pill for That, by Daniel Bergner:
Linneah sat at a desk at the Center for Sexual Medicine at Sheppard Pratt in the suburbs of Baltimore and filled out a questionnaire. She read briskly, making swift checks beside her selected answers, and when she was finished, she handed the pages across the desk to Martina Miller, who gave her a round of pills.
The pills were either a placebo or a new drug called Lybrido, created to stoke sexual desire in women. . . .
. . .“Female Viagra” is the way drugs like Lybrido and Lybridos tend to be discussed. But this is a misconception. Viagra meddles with the arteries; it causes physical shifts that allow the penis to rise. A female-desire drug would be something else. It would adjust the primal and executive regions of the brain. It would reach into the psyche. . . .
See also Jezebel: How a Women's Libido Pill Could Actually Save Monogamy, by Lindy West.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Reuters (Health): Most women back over-the-counter birth control pill, by Genevra Pittman:
Close to two-thirds of women favor making contraceptive pills available over the counter, according to a new nationally-representative survey.
In addition, about 30 percent of women using either no birth control or a less effective method - such as condoms - said they would likely take the Pill if it was sold without a prescription, researchers found. . . .
Thursday, March 7, 2013
The Huffington Post: International Women's Day 2013: 7 Sadly Disturbing Truths About Women's Bodies (HOW YOU CAN HELP), by Eleanor Goldberg:
On International Women’s Day, we have a number of groundbreaking accomplishments to celebrate. This year alone, women in the U.S. won the right to serve on the front lines in combat and President Obama inched closer to pushing for equal pay for men and women.
Global health for women has also seen some major boons, too. The number of mothers who die during childbirth has been reduced by almost 50 percent and HIV drug prices have fallen by more than 99 percent since 2000.
But we’re not done fighting yet. . . .
Thursday, February 28, 2013
The New York Times: House Renews Violence Against Women Measure, by Ashley Parker:
The House on Thursday gave final approval to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, sending a bipartisan Senate measure to President Obama after a House plan endorsed by conservatives was defeated. . . .
The legislation’s approval underscored the divide in the Republican party as it struggles to regain its footing with women after its 2012 electoral drubbing among female voters. . . .
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Join the University of Baltimore School of Law, the University of Baltimore Law Review, and the Center on Applied Feminism for the sixth annual Feminist Legal Theory Conference. There is no charge to attend, but pre-registration is requested as seating is limited.
RSVP here if you are interested in attending the full-day conference on Friday, March 8, 2013. Registrants for the full-day conference will be automatically registered for the keynote presentation.
There is also a workshop session the afternoon of March 7, 2013, which you can register for here. For additional details about the conference, including accommodations and parking information, please visit our website.
Friday, February 8, 2013
National Association of Women Lawyers: 2012-13 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition:
The National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) is a national voluntary legal professional organization whose mission is the advancement of women in the legal profession and women’s rights. Since 1899, NAWL has served as an educational forum and active voice for the concerns of women lawyers in this country and abroad. NAWL continues to support and advance the interests of women in and under the law, and in so doing, supports and advances the social, political, and professional empowerment of women. Through its programs and networks, NAWL provides the tools for women in the profession to advance, prosper and enrich the profession. NAWL has established the annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition to encourage and reward original law student writing on issues concerning women and the law. The rules for the competition are as follows:
Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning women’s rights or the status of women in the law. The most recent winning paper was “All Things Being Equal, Women Lose. Investigating the Lack of Diversity Among the Recent Appointments to the Iowa Supreme Court” written by Abigail Rury, Michigan State University School of Law.
Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at any law school during the 2012-13 school year. The essays must be the law student author’s own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere. Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the Summer, Fall or Spring semesters are eligible for submission. Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.
FORMAT: Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point font, Times New Roman font type. All margins must be at least one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook – A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than 15 pages of text, excluding notes, or which are not in the required format may not be read.
JUDGING: NAWL Women Lawyers Journal® designees will judge the competition. Essays will be judged based upon content, exhaustiveness of research, originality, writing style, and timeliness.
QUESTIONS: Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to the chair of the Writing Competition, Professor Jennifer Martin firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUBMISSION AND DEADLINE: Entries must be received by May 1, 2013. Entries received after the deadline will be considered only at the discretion of NAWL. Entries must provide a cover letter providing the title of your essay, school affiliation, email address, phone number and mailing address. Entries must be submitted in the following format: email an electronic version (in Microsoft Word or PDF format) email@example.com.
AWARD: The author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in NAWL’s Women Lawyers Journal in the summer of 2013.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
At Sundance Film Festival, "After Tiller" Features Four Doctors Who Perform Third-Trimester Abortions
The Los Angeles Times: Sundance Film Festival: 'After Tiller' about abortion doctors, patients, by Mark Olsen:
The documentary about four doctors who perform third-trimester abortions was screened at the festival with heavy security. Filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson wanted to show audiences how much the doctors cared about and for their patients, and talked to the women too.
PARK CITY, Utah – The Sundance Film Festival has a relaxed, down-to-earth vibe, but the atmosphere at the premiere screening of the documentary "After Tiller" was noticeably tense. . . .
In case anyone was under the misconception that male Republicans were getting the message about abortion and rape:
The Huffington Post: New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape as 'Tampering With Evidence', by Laura Bassett:
A Republican lawmaker in New Mexico introduced a bill on Wednesday that would legally require victims of rape to carry their pregnancies to term in order to use the fetus as evidence for a sexual assault trial. . . .