Friday, June 15, 2007

Ga. High Court to Hear Teen Sex Case

Shannon McCaffrey reports for the Associated Press:

Georgia's Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear the state's arguments for keeping in prison a man who had consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. The attorney general later said his release could open the floodgates for hundreds of incarcerated child molesters looking for a way out.

Attorney General Thurbert Baker has caught heat for appealing a state judge's decision to void Genarlow Wilson's 10-year sentence but said at a news conference Thursday that he has no choice under the law. The state Superior Court had no authority to reduce or modify the trial court's sentence, he said.

See also: Judge Reduces 10-Year Sentence for Teen Sex

June 15, 2007 in In the Courts, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jan Deckers on Embryos and Personhood

Deckers Jan Deckers (Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University) has posted Why Eberl is Wrong: Reflections on the Begining of Personhood, Bioethics, Vol. 21, No. 5, pp. 270-282 (June 2007), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In a paper published in Bioethics, Jason Eberl has argued that early embryos are not persons and should not be granted the status possessed by them. Eberl bases this position upon the following claims: (1) The early embryo has a passive potentiality for development into a person. (2) The early embryo has not established both unique genetic identity and ongoing ontological identity, which are necessary conditions for ensoulment. (3) The early embryo has a low probability of developing into a more developed embryo. This paper examines these claims. I argue against (1) that a plausible view is that the early embryo has an active potentiality to grow into a more developed embryo. Against (2), I argue that neither unique genetic identity nor ongoing ontological identity are necessary conditions for ensoulment, and that ongoing ontological identity is established between early embryos and more developed embryos. Against (3), I argue that the fact that the early embryo has a low probability of developing into a more developed embryo, if true, does not warrant the conclusion that the early embryo is not a person. If Eberl is right that the human soul is that which organises the activities of a human being and that ensouled humans are persons, embryos are persons from conception.

June 15, 2007 in Bioethics, Fetal Rights, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Abortion Spat" Between McCain and Romney

In yesterday's Washington Post, Zachary A. Goldfarb reports:

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney crossed swords on the GOP campaign trail yesterday after McCain's campaign circulated a 2005 video showing Romney affirming his support of his state's abortion rights laws.

As a presidential candidate, Romney has distanced himself from positions he outlined in Massachusetts favoring abortion rights and now says he opposes them.

June 15, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Supreme Court Analysis: A Clean Sweep for Conservatives?

Tom Goldstein comments on the SCOTUS blog:

As we enter the last few decision days of the Term – with 17 cases remaining – I want to raise the prospect that the Term will ultimately reveal that the Court’s ideological shift has been far more profound than almost anyone outside the building has realized so far.

Here are the numbers to this point. Eleven cases have been decided by a five-to-four vote on classic ideological lines. Justice Kennedy has cast the deciding vote in each – six times with the right and five with the left. Those results suggest a balanced outcome.

But the numbers are very misleading. In almost all of the meaningful cases decided thus far – measured by their effect going forward – the conservatives prevailed.

Via David Cohen at the Feminist Law Professors Blog.

June 14, 2007 in In the Courts, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kansas AG Morrison Threatens Legal Action Against Psychiatrist if He Publicly Discloses Comments on Records in Tiller Case

Via the Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report:

Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison (D) on Tuesday said he will seek legal action against a psychiatrist hired by his predecessor, Phill Kline (R), if he publicly discloses his review of medical records in a criminal case brought against physician George Tiller for allegedly performing illegal late-term abortions, the Wichita Eagle reports (Lefler, Wichita Eagle, 6/13).

Kline last year filed 30 misdemeanor charges against Tiller -- who owns the Wichita, Kan.-based abortion clinic Women's Health Care Services -- for allegedly performing 15 illegal late-term abortions in 2003 on patients ages 10 to 22 without properly reporting the details to the state. Kline hired attorney Don McKinney to be special prosecutor in the case. Morrison -- who defeated Kline in the November 2006 election -- fired McKinney in March, and Morrison's office asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss McKinney's appeal. The court granted the request without offering an explanation for its decision (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 2/16). Morrison has said he is conducting his own investigation and will decide whether to reinstate charges against Tiller by the end of this month (Wichita Eagle, 6/13).

June 14, 2007 in Abortion, In the Courts, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Congress Drains Helium From Pro-Choice Hopes

Via Women's eNews, by Allison Stevens:

Reproductive rights advocates looked forward to better electoral days ahead when Republicans lost control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.

But six months later, those same people are beginning to let the helium out of their once high hopes.

"We're six months into this session and we've seen very few tangible results," said Jacqueline Payne, assistant director of government relations at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

June 14, 2007 in Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

HIV testing for pregnant women, newborns advances in NJ

Tom Hester, Jr., reports for the Associated Press:

New Jersey moved Thursday toward becoming the first state to require both pregnant women and some newborns to be tested for HIV, despite opposition from groups who say doing so violates a woman's civil rights.

The bill would require all pregnant women be tested for HIV twice, once early in the pregnancy and a second time in the third trimester, unless the mother asks not to be tested.

It would require newborns to be tested if either the mother has tested positive or her HIV status is unknown at time of birth.

June 13, 2007 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brownback questions abortions for rape survivors

Jim Davenport reports for the Associated Press:

Sen. Sam Brownback, campaigning for president on Saturday before the National Catholic Men's Conference, questioned whether rape victims should get abortions.

"Rape is terrible. Rape is awful. Is it made any better by killing an innocent child? Does it solve the problem for the woman that's been raped?" the Kansas Republican asked at the St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers gathering.

"We need to protect innocent life. Period," Brownback said, bringing the crowd of about 500 to its feet.

See also: Senator Brownback, the Pregnant Rape Victim

June 13, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More Song Lyrics About Abortion and Unintended Pregnancy

Here's Prodigal Daughter (Cotton Eyed Joe) by Michelle Shocked:

What's to be done with a prodigal son?
Welcome him home with open arms
Throw a big party, invite your friends
Our boy's come back home                  

When a girl goes home with the oats he's sown
It's draw your shades and your shutters
She's bringing such shame to the family name
The return of the prodigal daughter
Singing, oh! Cotton Eyed Joe

Went to see a doctor and I almost died
When I told my mama, Lordy, how she cried
Me and my daddy were never too close
But he was there when I needed him most

Look, here comes a prodigal son
Fetch him a tall drink of water
But there's none in the cup because he drank it all up
Left for a prodigal daughter
Singing, oh Cotton Eyed Joe

Had not have been for the Cotton Eyed Joe
I'd have been married a long time ago
Oh, I'd have been married a long time ago

Out in the cornfield I stubbed my toe
I called for the doctor, Cotton Eyed Joe
I called for the doctor, Cotton Eyed Joe               

Look, here comes a prodigal son
Fetch him a tall drink of water
But there's none in the cup 'cause he drank it all up
Left for a prodigal daughter
Singing, oh Cotton Eyed Joe


Arkansas Traveler  (Mercury 1992) / Arkansas Traveler (Mighty Sound 2004)

June 12, 2007 in Abortion, Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Louisiana Senate approves abortion procedure ban

Doug Simpson reports for the Associated Press:

Louisiana should become the first state to outlaw the surgical procedure known as "partial-birth" abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold a federal ban, the Senate voted on Monday.

Senators voted 38-0 to approve Sen. Ben Nevers' bill that would allow the surgery in just one situation: when failure to perform it would endanger the mother's life. The procedure would be a crime in all other cases, including situations where the pregnancy is expected to cause health problems for the mother.

June 12, 2007 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Times: "On Abortion, Hollywood Is No-Choice"

Mireya Navarro writes for the New York Times:

IN the hit indie movie “Waitress,” the lead character, Jenna, finds out she’s pregnant at a time when she’s plotting to run away from her abusive husband. In last week’s No. 2 film, “Knocked Up,” Alison becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with Ben, an ungainly suitor.

In some ways, both movies mirror reality. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy says unwanted pregnancies have actually increased among some adult women, even as they have decreased among teenage girls. More than half of all unwanted pregnancies occur to women in their 20s.

But in another way, both movies go out of their way to sidestep real life. Nearly two-thirds of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion, data from federal surveys shows. Yet Jenna in “Waitress” is more likely to ponder selling the baby than to consider having the procedure. And Alison, who has just been promoted to her dream job as an on-camera television personality and asked to lose 20 pounds, is torn over whether to keep the man, not the baby.

See also: Reviews of the Film, "Knocked Up"

June 12, 2007 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June Carbone & Naomi Cahn on Gender and the Rational Actor Model

June_carbone CahnJune Carbone (Santa Clara University) and Naomi Cahn (George Washington University) have posted Behavioral Biology, the Rational Actor Model, and the New Feminist Agenda on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In this paper, we will incorporate gender consciousness into critiques of the rational actor model by revisiting Carol Gilligan's account of moral development. Economics itself, led by the insights that have come from game theory, is reexamining trust, altruism, reciprocity and empathy. Behavioral economics, defined as "the combination of psychology and economics that investigates what happens in markets in which some of the agents display human limitations and complications," further explores the implications of a more robust conception of human motivation. We argue that the most likely source for a comprehensive theory will come from the integration of behavioral economics with behavioral biology, and that this project will in turn depend on the insights that come from evolutionary analysis, genetics and neuroscience. Considering the biological basis of human behavior, however, and, indeed, realistically considering the role of trust, altruism, reciprocity and empathy in market transactions, we argue, will require reexamination of the role of gender in the construction of human society.

Continue reading

June 12, 2007 in Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wash. Post: "Clinton Owes Lead in Poll To Support From Women"

Anne Kornblut and Matthew Mosk report in today's Washington Post:

The consistent lead that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has maintained over Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and others in the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination is due largely to one factor: her support from women.

In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, Clinton led Obama by a 2 to 1 margin among female voters. Her 15-point lead in the poll is entirely attributable to that margin. Clinton drew support from 51 percent of the women surveyed, compared with 24 percent who said they supported Obama and 11 percent who said they backed former senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Clinton is drawing especially strong support from lower-income, lesser-educated women -- voters her campaign strategists describe as "women with needs." Obama, by contrast, is faring better among highly educated women, who his campaign says are interested in elevating the political discourse.

June 11, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Politics, Public Opinion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NH Senate Votes to Repeal Law Requiring Parental Notification for Abortion

Norma Love reports for the Associated Press:

The state Senate voted yesterday to make New Hampshire the first state to repeal a law requiring parental notification for teenagers to get abortions.

The parental notification law has been on the books for four years but never enforced.

The Senate vote, 15 to 9, sent the bill to Governor John Lynch, who says he will sign it.

From the New York Times, by Pam Belluck:

New Hampshire will become the first state to repeal a law requiring teenage girls to notify their parents before having an abortion, under a bill that won final passage in the State Senate on Thursday.

Gov. John Lynch has said he would sign the measure. The vote in the Senate was 15 to 9. The House vote, in March, was 217 to 141.

The parental notification law was the strictest in the nation when it was passed in 2003. The vote to repeal it reflects, in part, a sea change in New Hampshire politics since the 2006 elections, which swept a Democratic majority into the legislature for the first time in over a century.

(Note: full NYT story may be available to subscribers only.)  New Hampshire's law was the subject of the Supreme Court's decision in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood.  See related posts.

June 11, 2007 in Abortion, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Natalie Angier on Sperm

Natalie Angier writes in Sleek, Fast and Focused: The Cells That Make Dad Dad (in today's New York Times):

We are fast approaching Father’s Day, the festive occasion on which we plague Dad with yet another necktie or collect phone call and just generally strive to remind the big guy of the central verity of paternity — that it’s a lot more fun to become a father than to be one. “I won’t lie to you,” said the great Homer Simpson. “Fatherhood isn’t easy like motherhood.” Yet in our insistence that men are more than elaborately engineered gamete vectors, we neglect the marvels of their elaborately engineered gametes. As the scientists who study male germ cells will readily attest, sperm are some of the most extraordinary cells of the body, a triumph of efficient packaging, sleek design and superspecialization. Human sperm are extremely compact, and they’ve been stripped of a normal cell’s protein-making machinery; but when cast into the forbidding environment of the female reproductive tract, they will learn on the job and change their search strategies and swim strokes as needed.

For Mother's Day, Angier wrote about the X Chromosome.

June 11, 2007 in Fertility, Men and Reproduction, Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Reduces 10-Year Sentence for Teen Sex

Shannon McCaffrey reports for the Associated Press:

A Georgia judge ordered the release Monday of a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, a sentence that had been widely criticized as grossly disproportionate to the crime.

Several influential people, including former President Jimmy Carter, publicly supported Genarlow Wilson's appeals, and state lawmakers voted to close the loophole that led to his 10-year term.

Monday's ruling doesn't ensure Wilson's freedom, though.

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Monday afternoon that he had filed notice of appeal, arguing that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by the trial court. He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court.

See also this related post: Time Magazine on Georgia Teenage Sex Offender

June 11, 2007 in In the Courts, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Rules That Women Who Underwent Forced Abortions Can Seek Asylum in U.S.

Via the Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report:

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday unanimously ruled that women from other countries, such as China, who are forced to undergo abortion can be awarded asylum in the U.S., the AP/Houston Chronicle reports (Elias, AP/Houston Chronicle, 6/6). A three-judge panel of the court in March 2005 ruled that women who were forcibly sterilized under China's "coercive population control policies" and their husbands are entitled to political asylum in the U.S. (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 3/10/05).

The panel on Wednesday said that women who underwent forced abortion should receive the same protection given to women who underwent forced sterilizations, according to the AP/Chronicle. The panel in its ruling wrote that both forced abortion and sterilization have "serious, ongoing effects," adding, "We see no way to distinguish between the victims of forced sterilization and the victims of forced abortion for withholding of removal eligibility purposes."

June 10, 2007 in Abortion, In the Courts, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wash. Post: "Darn Cells. Dividing Yet Again!"

Rick Weiss writes for the Washington Post:

Coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge.

Thursday, June 7. After months of intense lobbying by scientists and patient advocacy groups, the House is ready to vote on legislation that would loosen President Bush's restrictions on the use of human embryos in stem cell research. But that very morning, the lead story in every major newspaper is about research just published in a British journal that shows stem cells can be made from ordinary skin cells.

The work was in mice, but the take-home message that suffuses Capitol Hill is that there is no need to experiment on embryos after all.

If that doesn't sound suspicious, consider this:

Monday, Jan. 8. After months of intense lobbying by scientists and patient advocacy groups, Congress is ready to vote on legislation that would loosen Bush's restrictions on stem cell research. But that very morning, newspapers are touting new research just published in a British journal suggesting that stem cells can be made from easily obtained placenta cells. No need for embryos after all!

Is there a plot afoot?

Lots of lobbyists, members of Congress and even a few scientists are starting to think so.

June 10, 2007 in Congress, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Times: "Romney’s Run Has Mormons Wary of Scrutiny"

Laurie Goodstein writes in today's New York Times:

...While Mormons tend to be conservative on social issues, Mr. Romney has taken some positions that are more conservative than those of his own church.

Mormon teaching allows abortion in cases of rape, incest and severe fetal defects, and to protect the health of the mother. The church has no position on embryonic stem cell research. Mr. Romney has in the last few years shifted to embrace an anti-abortion, anti-stem cell research, anti-gay agenda.

Some politically liberal Mormons said in interviews that they were dismayed that he appeared to be both pandering to the right and compromising his integrity....

Other posts on Romney's abortion views can be found here.

June 10, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mozambique set to liberalize abortion law

Via AFP News Brief:

Mozambique is set to end its blanket ban on abortion after the government acknowledged that current legislation was endangering the lives of women in one of Africa's most impoverished nations.

The proposed shake-up follows the release of a report by the health ministry which said around 100 pregnant women were dying every year after seeing backstreet abortionists while many more suffered "serious after-effects."

Abortion was first outlawed in the former Portuguese colony in legislation dating back to 1886, a ban reaffirmed in a 1981 law six years after the southeastern African country gained independence.

However Justice Minister Esperanca Machavela has confirmed that a review is being drawn up and is likely to be presented to parliament after it reconvenes in October. With the ruling Frelimo party enjoying a majority in parliament, government legislation can be expected to pass comfortably.

See also this post.

June 10, 2007 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)