Saturday, June 30, 2007
SIECUS Releases Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States
Via a SIECUS press release:
Congress Allocates $176 million to States in Fiscal Year 2006
Washington, DC - The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) is pleased to announce the release of the fourth edition of SIECUS State Profiles: A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States. The publication is the most comprehensive document of its kind, detailing sexuality education and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in states and communities across the country during Fiscal Year 2006. It contains information on each state’s laws, recently proposed legislation, and noteworthy events related to sexuality education. The profiles also detail the amount of money states and state-based entities receive for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and how the funds are used.
You can access the state profiles here.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Warren King reports for the Seattle Times:
Pregnant women who are chronically exposed to secondhand smoke may have children who are at greater risk of problems related to attention and emotion, University of Washington researchers believe.
In a study released Wednesday, scientists found that children who have such psychological problems have a higher frequency of them -- or more severe troubles -- if their mothers were regularly exposed to tobacco smoke while pregnant.
Those troubles include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), aggressive behavior, defiance and a behavior pattern called conduct disorder, which can include truancy, fighting, failing in school, substance abuse, theft and property destruction.
In her June 22nd New York Times op-ed, "Why Pro-Choice Is a Bad Choice for Democrats," Melinda Henneberger sends a mixed message to pro-choice politicians. She criticizes them for failing to address the complexity of the abortion issue, but she tells them instead of giving up on voters who consider themselves pro-life, they should give up on defending abortion rights. I don't think they have to give up on either.
...Rather than becoming silent on abortion, pro-choice leaders must struggle in this sound-bite-driven world to speak more clearly about the reasons in favor of legal abortion. And it would be nice if the media tried to do the same.
You can read longer a piece by Arons and Shira Saperstein on The Politico: Leaders must speak clearly on abortion. See also their article, Following the Leader: Why Progressives Must Not Abandon Their Commitment to Reproductive Rights (Jan. 2005).
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Reva Siegel (Yale) has posted Sex Equality Arguments for Reproductive Rights: Their Critical Basis and Evolving Constitutional Expression (Emory Law Journal, Vol. 56, No. 4, 2007) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
What is at stake in a sex equality approach to reproductive rights? At first glance, equality arguments would seem to entail a shift in constitutional authority for reproductive rights - for example, from the Due Process to Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment - but as the articles of this Symposium richly illustrate, equality arguments for reproductive rights need not take this legal form. In introducing this Symposium, I identify a sex equality standpoint on reproductive rights that can be, and is, expressed in a variety of constitutional and regulatory frameworks.
The Essay identifies some of the critical understandings and normative commitments that characterize the sex equality approach to reproductive rights. It then ties this cluster of critical understandings and normative commitments to particular advocates and authorities in the reproductive rights debate in the last several decades: it shows how the sex equality claim for reproductive rights was asserted in different doctrinal forms in the early 1970s, was then muted by Roe, the ERA debates and the early sex discrimination cases, and then found increasing recognition in Casey and the law review literature of the 1980s and 1990s. Recently, the dissenting justices in the Carhart case have asserted that the abortion right protects "a woman's autonomy to determine her life's course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature."
The introduction and essays of this Symposium demonstrate that the equality argument can be vindicated in many different doctrinal frameworks: under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, Privileges or Immunities Clause, or Equal Protection Clause, by cases decided under the Eighth Amendment, the Ninth Amendment, the Thirteenth Amendment, or the Nineteenth Amendment, through a federal or state statute, through human rights law, or by a synthesis of these forms of law.
Via Andrew Oh-Willeke at Colorado Confidential:
Colorado requires either parental notice, or a court order (called a judicial bypass) for a minor to obtain an abortion. The Colorado Court of Appeals, in an expedited appeal, affirmed a trial courts' order denying a minor a judicial bypass, in a ruling issued today. The case appears to be the first of its kind in Colorado at the appellate level and relied heavily on persuasive authority from other states with similar laws.
See also Sandra Fish's post on reactions to the decision.
Read more about laws requiring parental notification or consent for teenagers seeking abortions.
Peter Slevin reports in today's Washington Post:
Ending a three-year investigation launched by his socially conservative predecessor, Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison (D) notified a Planned Parenthood clinic this week that no criminal charges will be filed. He said "an objective, unbiased and thorough examination" showed no wrongdoing.
Phill Kline, a strongly antiabortion Republican defeated by Morrison in November, started the criminal inquiry against two Kansas abortion clinics on grounds that doctors may have conducted illegal late-term abortions and failed to report cases involving underage girls who, by statute, could have been considered victims of rape.
Backed by a judicial subpoena, Kline obtained the medical records of dozens of women over the privacy objections of the clinics, whose directors said it was nothing more than a fishing expedition. Morrison, who informed Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri on Tuesday, said he will ask a judge to return the medical records.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Maybe Melinda Henneberger would have benefited from reading the following story before relying on anecdotal evidence from her "listening to women of all ages, races, tax brackets and points of view" in order to trumpet that "pro-choice is a bad choice for democrats."
Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee report in yesterday's New York Times:
Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll. The poll also found that they are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion....
They have continued a long-term drift away from the Republican Party. And although they are just as worried as the general population about the outlook for the country and think their generation is likely to be worse off than that of their parents, they retain a belief that their votes can make a difference, the poll found.
On the issue of abortion, young Americans' views parallel those of the general public (whose opinion has remained basically stable for years), with roughly equal numbers in each group (37-39%) agreeing that either "abortion should generally be available to those who want it" or "abortion should be legal, but with stricter limits than it is now." A minority of each group (21-24%) says abortion should not be permitted. Certainly, nothing in this poll suggests that voters are fleeing the Democratic party over the issue of abortion.
Via the Associated Press (6/21):
New Jersey on Thursday moved to require both pregnant women and some newborns to be tested for HIV.
The Assembly voted 74-5 and the Senate 37-0 to approve the bill. The bill now goes to Gov. Jon S. Corzine for his consideration.
It requires all pregnant women be tested twice for HIV, once early and once late in the pregnancy, unless the mother asks not to be tested.
It also requires newborns to be tested if either the mother has tested positive or her HIV status is unknown at time of birth....
The state has about 115,000 births per year and had seven infants born with HIV in 2005.
The American Civil Liberties Union and women's groups contend the bill deprives women of authority to make medical decisions.
How helpful is it to mandate HIV testing of pregnant women? From an ACLU factsheet:
At first blush, it might seem like there could hardly be a more compelling case for forced testing. Children's lives are at stake. But responding to perinatal testing proposals in a thoughtful way requires a hard look at the science. What that hard look shows is that few of the new proposals - and none that have been enacted into law - advance our ability to stem transmission to infants in a meaningful way.
Here's what the science shows. A pregnant woman, infected with HIV, has a base-line one-in-four chance of transmitting HIV to her newborn if she takes no treatment at all. The transmission occurs most often during delivery, because delivery is when the infant is exposed to the most blood of the mother without the protection of the umbilical barrier. Intrauterine (pre-delivery) transmission is rare. Transmission can also occur through breastfeeding after delivery.
When an infant is born to an HIV-positive mother, HIV-antibody tests on the newborn will always be positive because the baby has inherited the HIV antibodies of its mother. This does not necessarily mean, however, that the infant is infected. Not until the mother's antibodies disappear from the infant's system - which takes a few months at least - will HIV antibody tests on the baby show the baby's own status rather than the mother's.
Time for another song lyric. Here is "Eat for Two" by 10,000 Maniacs (from the 1989 Album "Blind Man's Zoo):
O, baby blankets and baby shoes, baby slippers, baby spoons, walls of
baby blue. Dream child in my head is a nightmare born in a borrowed bed.
Now I know lightning strikes again. It struck me once, then struck me
dead. My folly grows inside of me.
I eat for two, walk for two,
breathe for two now.
Well, the egg man fell down off his shelf. All the good king's men
with all their help struggled 'til the end for a shell they couldn't mend.
You know where this will lead, to hush and rock in the nursery for the
kicking one inside of me.
I eat for two, walk for two, breathe for two
now. Eat for two, walk for two, breathe for two now.
When the boy was a boy, the girl was a girl, they found each other in
a wicked world. Strong in some respects, but she couldn't stand for
the way he begged and gave in.
Pride is for men; young girls should run and hide instead.
You risk the game by taking dares with "yes."
I eat for two, walk for two, breathe for two now. Eat for two, walk
for two, breathe for two now.
Walk for two? I'm stumbling. Walk for two? I'm stumbling.
Breathe for two? I can't breathe. I can't breathe.
Five months, how it grows. Five months now, I begin to show.
You can watch a live performance of Eat for Two (along with Hey, Jack Kerouac) here.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Stephen A. Gardbaum (UCLA Law) has posted State and Comparative Constitutional Law Perspectives on a Possible Post-Roe World (St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 51, No. 3) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This essay comments on Richard Fallon's 2006 Childress Lecture at St. Louis University School of Law, If Roe Were Overruled: Abortion and the Constitution in a Post-Roe World. By providing what I hope are some helpful and interesting details from state and comparative constitutional law, the essay underscores and supplements what Fallon says about two of the four common fallacies concerning the constitutional consequences of overruling Roe that he identifies in his lecture. These are that it would: (1) wipe the legal slate clean for new state statutes regulating abortion and (2) end federal court involvement in the abortion wars.
I keep reading about a universe in which social conservatives are warming to Rudy Giuliani. But this would have to be a place where his estranged children and three wives and multiple appearances in fishnets were irrelevant to the Republican base. Where the nice gay couple he moved in with between marriages would be asked to appear in the film montage at the nominating convention in St. Paul.
Even in the real world, a pro-choice Republican nominee would be a gift to the Democrats, because the Republican Party wins over so many swing voters on abortion alone. Which is why Fred Thompson, who is against abortion rights, is getting so much grateful attention from his party now. And why, despite wide opposition to the war in Iraq, Democrats must still win back such voters to take the White House next year.
Over 18 months, I traveled to 20 states listening to women of all ages, races, tax brackets and points of view speak at length on the issues they care about heading into 08. They convinced me that the conventional wisdom was wrong about the last presidential contest, that Democrats did not lose support among women because security moms saw President Bush as the better protector against terrorism. What first-time defectors mentioned most often was abortion.
NYT subscribers can read the letters responding to her piece here.
Here's an excerpt from one letter:
I've found that many women who have abortions presume that while they have a good reason for making this choice, other women have only bad reasons.
The law, however, will not in practice recognize this dubious distinction. Abortion is never an easy option, but it is an option that must remain available.
To moderate voters who disagree with me, this is my charge: Talk to your colleagues, friends, sisters, mothers and daughters. Someone you know has had an abortion. And she had a good reason for it.
(Elizabeth Janiak, Cambridge, Mass.)
And Lynn Paltrow (Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women), objecting to Henneberg's slavery analogy, points out:
Sixty-one percent of women who have abortions are already mothers, and another 24 percent will go on to become mothers. Eighty-five percent of all women bring life into this world and provide the majority of care for the lives of those around them. Individual pregnant women, whether seeking to end a pregnancy or to go to term, are certainly not the same as governments that use state power to enslave particular groups of people.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Shari Roan reports for the Los Angeles Times:
Two weeks ago, Brianna Morrison gave birth to six babies in Minneapolis. Less than a day later, Jenny Masche delivered six babies in a Phoenix hospital. Both of the women had been treated for infertility and had used fertility-enhancing drugs.
The two families expressed joy, but many fertility doctors were dismayed. For years, doctors have been pushing to lower the rate of multiple births due to fertility treatment. Not only had two headline-grabbing births occurred in the same week, but several recent scientific papers also revealed mixed results in the eight-year effort to reduce the U.S. multiple-birth rate.
Via the Des Moines Register:
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Friday that if he is elected president, he would use abortion as a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, rejecting candidates who don't support the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
"I know that I am going to upset some people," Richardson said. "I would say, 'Do you believe Roe v. Wade is settled law?' and if they say, 'Yes,' they have a good chance of being picked. If they say 'No,' I will not pick them."
Laurie Goodstein reports for the New York Times:
At first glance, Rudolph W. Giuliani should be an appealing presidential candidate for observant Roman Catholics. The grandchild of Italian immigrants, Mr. Giuliani went to Catholic schools, considered joining the priesthood, and as mayor of New York battled a museum that exhibited a painting of the Virgin Mary adorned in elephant dung.
But church leaders say they are frustrated by prominent Catholic politicians like Mr. Giuliani who argue that while they are personally opposed to abortion, they do not want to impose their beliefs on others.
One American bishop, Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, R.I., recently wrote a caustic column for his Catholic newspaper calling Mr. Giuliani’s position “pathetic,” “confusing” and “hypocritical.” Other bishops said that they would not criticize a candidate by name but would not hesitate to declare Mr. Giuliani’s stance contrary to Catholic teaching.
For more on the conundrum abortion poses for Catholic politicians, see: Must We Say What We Mean?
Stephen Singer reports for the Associated Press:
Sen. Barack Obama told a church convention Saturday that some right-wing evangelical leaders have exploited and politicized religious beliefs in an effort to sow division....
"Faith got hijacked, partly because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us," the Illinois senator said.
"At every opportunity, they've told evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage, school prayer and intelligent design," according to an advance copy of his speech.
Via Robert Barnes of the Washington Post:
In Second Term, Roberts Court Defines Itself
Many 5 to 4 Decisions Reflect Narrowly Split Court That Leans Conservative
The stage is set in the final days of the Supreme Court's term for the divisions that narrowly but decisively split the justices on social issues to be on full display.
The court has already decided more cases on a 5 to 4 vote this term than in all of last term -- some of them favoring the court's liberal wing, more won by the conservatives. This week, the opportunity is there for the court reconstituted under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to make a bold statement.
The cases remaining concern some of the most divisive of social and policy questions: the use of race in public school admission programs; the constitutionality of advertising restrictions in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act; whether ordinary taxpayers have the right to sue over what they perceive to be violations of the separation of church and state.
The Guardian (UK) reported on 6/14:
A senior Vatican cardinal said yesterday that Catholics should stop donating to human rights group Amnesty International because of its new policy advocating abortion rights for women if they had been raped, were a victim of incest or faced health risks....
"AI has betrayed its mission," Cardinal Martino told the US National Catholic Register in an interview. Amnesty changed its neutral stance on abortion in April, but its Italy chairman Paolo Pobbiati insisted its new position had been misinterpreted by the cardinal.
"This has nothing to do with legitimising abortion as part of a campaign for human rights, it is to do with combating violence against women," he said....
"AI does not take a position on whether abortion should be legal or whether it is right or wrong," it added in a statement.
In his interview with the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Martino did not see any grey areas. "The Church teaches that it is never justifiable to kill an innocent life. Abortion is murder," he said. "To selectively justify abortion, even in the cases of rape, is to define the innocent child within the womb as an enemy, a 'thing' that must be destroyed. How can we say that killing a child in some cases is good and in other cases it is evil?"
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Dalida Rittossa (University of Rijeka, Croatia) has published Taking the Right to Abortion in Croatia Seriously - One of the Basic Constitutional Rights or a Rudiment of the Right to Reproduction?, 13 Cardozo J. L. & Gender 273 (2007). Here is the abstract:
Abortion is one of the subjects that have been discussed extensively in both academic and popular literature. Nevertheless, such discussions do not consider abortion as a constitutional, legal issue. Consequently, the public opinion on abortion in Croatia expresses. irreconcilable, contradictory judgments. Croatians accept the right on abortion and at the same time consider it to be killing, a deprivation of life. It is reasonable, therefore, to try to present the outcome of abortion dilemma emerged in the Republic of Croatia by comparative legal analysis. Comparing the experiences of the highest judicial bodies in the Federal Republic of Germany and USA, the author of the article tries to present the abortion issue as a battle of compelling state interests, rights of a mother and rights of the unborn. The outcome of such analysis confirms the right of abortion as one of the basic rights originated in right to privacy, right to self-determination and even freedom of religion. The special attention has been given to CEDAW Convention. To grasp a current and truthful public standing on abortion issue, the article presents research results on students' attitudes towards the abortion. The results have been compared with results obtained in two previous public opinion researches on abortion in Croatia.
The author can be reached at mailto:email@example.com.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved yesterday a $28 million cut for funding for community-based abstinence education (CBAE) programs. In 2007, $113 million was marked for sex education programs that promoted abstinence. In his budget for fiscal year 2008, President Bush asked to increase that amount to $141 million. The version of the bill moving through the Senate would keep CBAE funding at $113 million -- the same amount as the past two years.
Earlier this month, the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations approved Bush's increase, despite overwhelming evidence that abstinence-based sex education programs do not work. The full House Appropriations Committee has postponed its general mark-up of the bill until July 9.
Via the DesMoines Register:
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback vowed Thursday to appoint a U.S. Supreme Court justice who would overturn the court's Roe vs. Wade abortion-rights ruling, should he win the presidency.
"We can get it done," Brownback told about 100 supporters in Ames. "We're one justice away, and if we lose this we're going to be two or three judges away from overturning this thing that is wrong."