Saturday, September 29, 2007
Stephanie Saul reports for the New York Times :
On its face, the expansion of Wal-Mart’s generic drug program yesterday seemed only incremental. The company added seven new compounds to the list of drugs it sells for $4....
But yesterday, the company added to its $4 list methylphenidate, a drug for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder that is commonly used for school-age children.
Perhaps more significant, Wal-Mart said it would start selling generic versions of two popular birth control pills for $9 a month, appealing to an estimated 11 million women in America, most of them under age 40, who use oral contraceptives.
A fertility drug, clomiphene, will also be available for $9, Wal-Mart said.
Versions of the two birth control pills — known by the brand names Ortho Cyclen and Ortho Tri-Cyclen — account for 20 percent of oral contraception prescriptions in this country.
Although the average woman would save only $1 at Wal-Mart if she had insurance coverage for the pill, she would save $21 if she did not have coverage. The pills frequently sell for $30.
VANCOUVER - A U.S.-based clinical trial has found a new male contraceptive procedure works as well as a vasectomy, says the Vancouver physician who designed the device.
Data collected over six months demonstrated the new procedure was as effective as a vasectomy at eliminating sperm, said Dr. Neil Pollock, who has spent eight years developing the product for eventual commercial sale.
The new procedure implants two silicone plugs, called the Intra Vas Device (IVD), into the scrotum. The plugs block sperm from travelling through the vas deferens tubes, but still allow men to ejaculate.
See also this article from ScienceDaily: Contraception: Progress Brings Hope For New Methods For Men.
University of Granada researchers in Spain have analyzed 44 papers and conclude it is probable that Human Papillomavirus is related to bladder cancer.
Study leader Jose Gutierrez Fernandez said that determining the relationship between bladder cancer and HPV depends on the method used. Scientists found different results depending on whether the research was based on the person’s DNA or via an antigen.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Via the Washington Post (9/27):
Roman Catholic bishops in Connecticut have agreed to let hospital personnel give emergency contraception to all rape victims, reversing their decision days before a new state law requires it.
The church, which runs four of the state's 30 hospitals, had fought the state law requiring medical personnel to give rape victims emergency contraception, sold as Plan B, even if the women are ovulating.
Church officials had said the treatment was tantamount to abortion and had been considering legal action, but they took a step away from that position Thursday, in a joint statement by the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut and leaders of the Catholic hospitals.
The hospitals will be allowed to provide Plan B without ovulation tests "since the teaching authority of the church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work," the statement reads. "To administer Plan B without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act."
Melanie L. Jacobs: "Why Just Two? Disaggregating Traditional Parental Rights and Responsibilities to Recognize Multiple Parents"
Melanie L. Jacobs (Michigan State) has posted "Why Just Two? Disaggregating Traditional Parental Rights and Responsibilities to Recognize Multiple Parents" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The traditional nuclear family of one mother / one father is in decline and other family forms are emerging in increasing numbers, such as blended families with stepparents, and same-sex parents. Many children are being raised by and/or have as a significant presence in their lives more than two parents. From a legal standpoint, recognition as “parent” entitles the individual to pursue all the benefits of parentage and may require the individual to assume all of the duties. Even though there may be a person who functions as a parent in a de facto capacity, s/he may not have legal protection because of the reluctance to grant legal parental status to more then two individuals. One major difficulty of recognizing multiple parents is the long entrenched legal vision of a nuclear family with two parents (based, in part, on parental autonomy). Legal parents enjoy considerable protection from state and third party interference.
Via the West Australian (9/27):
South Korea said today it would allow research on creating stem cells through human embryonic cloning despite a scandal involving a prominent scientist in the field.
Such research has been suspended in South Korea since last year’s downfall of Hwang Woo-suk, a scientist once regarded as a national hero for internationally hailed work in cloning and stem cell research that was later shown to be falsified.
Hwang had been the only South Korean scientist allowed to conduct research on cloning human embryos...
The proposed revision would allow scientists to use only eggs set to be destroyed after fertility treatments or from other lawful uses, the Health Ministry said.
Scientists seeking to do such work would need to get a licence from the government, the ministry said.
The move “is expected to secure ethics and safety of bioscience research,” it said in a statement.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program (WLPPFP) welcomes applications to its U.S. Program as well as to the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellowship Program. From the WLPPFP website:
Since 1983, the Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program (WLPPFP) has enabled recent law graduates with a special interest in women's rights to work in Washington, DC, with organizations involved in legal and public policy issues affecting women. Those selected for participation are assigned to a placement organization that employs the Fellows for one year, including women's rights groups, civil rights groups, governmental agencies, and Georgetown University Law Center clinics working on women's issues.
The application deadline for WLPPFP is Friday, November 2, and for the LAWA Program is Friday, November 30.
Via the Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Listserv of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto:
The International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme and the National Abortion Federation present:
A Symposium to Mark the 20th Anniversary of R v. Morgentaler
Of What Difference: Reflections on the Judgment and Abortion in
Friday, January 25, 2008, 9:00am 5:00pm
Faculty of Law, University of Toronto
This symposium celebrates the twenty year anniversary of R v. Morgentaler, wherein the Supreme Court of Canada held the criminal law on abortion unconstitutional. The symposium examines the significance of the judgment today: What difference has it made to women, providers and the politics of abortion in Canada?
Students are invited to submit abstracts on subjects related to the symposium, including:
- Rights in Practice: Barriers to Available and Accessible Services
- How does the law facilitate or impede Canadian women’s access to abortion?
- Our Abortion Providers: The Challenge of Their Work What obstacles does a provider face in delivering care? How do we improve provider training and awareness?
- Abortion in Law and Politics What role should the media play in the abortion debate? What is the relationship between law and politics in abortion reform?
- Canada in an International Context How does the regulation of abortion in Canada compare to other countries?
Three students will be selected to attend and display their posters at the symposium. Poster expenses, travel (within Canada) and accommodation for selected students will be covered.
Please submit abstracts of 250 words or less by November 1, 2007 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Successful applicants will be notified by email by December 10, 2007. For further information, contact Simone Cusack.
Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times:
Reversing course, Verizon Wireless announced today that it would allow an abortion rights group to send text messages to its supporters on Verizon’s mobile network....
Last week, Verizon rejected a request from the abortion rights group Naral Pro-Choice America for a five-digit “short code.” Such codes allow people interested in hearing from businesses, politicians and advocacy groups to sign up to receive text messages.
Verizon is one of the two largest mobile carriers. The other leading carriers had all accepted Naral’s request for the code.
In turning down the request last week, Verizon told Naral that it “does not accept issue-oriented (abortion, war, etc.) programs — only basic, general politician-related programs (Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, etc.).”
Today, Mr. Nelson called that “an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy” that “was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children.” The policy, Mr. Nelson said, had been developed “before text messaging protections such as spam filters adequately protected customers from unwanted messages.”
But the program requested by Naral would have sent messages only to people who had asked to receive them.
Nancy Keenan, Naral’s president, expressed satisfaction today. “The fight to defeat corporate censorship was won,” she said. But Ms. Keenan added that her group “would like to see Verizon make its new policy public.”
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Via Our Bodies Ourselves:
That amounts to the deaths of 540 women in 2004, 45 more than were reported in 2003 when the rate was 12 deaths per 100,000 live births. That also happened to be the first year since 1977 that the maternal death rate rose above 10 per 100,000 live births.
The statistics were released by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (PDF)....
Caesarean sections, which now account for a staggering almost 30 percent of all births, and increasing maternal obesity, which can lead to more complications, are cited as probable reasons for the increase. Some researchers also point to changes in the way childbirth deaths are reported.
3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Rules That Philadelphia Clinic Did Not Violate Rights of Minor, Parents by Dispensing EC on Request
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia on Friday ruled unanimously that a city health clinic did not violate a 16-year-old girl's rights or those of her parents when it gave her emergency contraception without notifying her parents, the AP/Pennlive.com reports.
Melissa Anspach visited the clinic in January 2004 for a pregnancy test that was not available that day, so at a friend's recommendation she returned to the clinic later and requested EC, which can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse. Anspach spoke briefly with a social worker before a nurse gave her one dose at the clinic and a second dose to take 12 hours later. She experienced severe abdominal pains and vomiting after taking the medication, so she told her parents about the drug and they took her to a hospital, where she was treated and released, the AP/Pennlive.com reports.
Via ACLU press release:
PHOENIX - The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the Arizona Supreme Court's refusal to review a lower court decision allowing prisoners to access timely, safe, and legal abortions. The court's action, announced late yesterday, ensures that women prisoners in Arizona will be able to obtain the medical care they need.
"A woman does not give up her right to have an abortion any more than she gives up her right to have a child just because she is incarcerated," said Brigitte Amiri, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "This was a case of policy gone awry. We are pleased that at every step of the way the courts have recognized the need to protect women's reproductive health."
Via the Irish Times:
The European Court of Human Rights today confirmed Poland will have to pay compensation to a woman who nearly went blind after being denied an abortion under strict Polish laws.
Poland had appealed an order by the Strasbourg-based court in March to pay the woman €39,000. Judges rejected that appeal yesterday, a court spokesman said this afternoon.
The verdict in March enraged the conservative government of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The ruling coalition has been pushing for a total ban on abortion in the predominantly Roman Catholic country, which already has one of the strictest abortion laws in the European Union.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Vicky Eckenrode writes for the Athens Banner-Herald:
ATLANTA - Abortion clinics can sue the state for not paying for some patients who needed the procedures for medical reasons, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday.
A group of clinics and a physician filed suit against the state Department of Community Health for not reimbursing them under the Medicaid program when poor women with health problems underwent the procedure.
The state currently will reimburse clinics for the procedure if the Medicaid-eligible patient is in danger of dying from the pregnancy or if she is the victim of rape or incest.
The clinics argued that the state also is required to cover abortions when a woman's health could be compromised by a pregnancy even if she is not in danger of dying.
The agency tried to avoid a trial by arguing that the clinics and doctors could not sue as a third party on behalf of their Medicaid-eligible patients.
The state's high court justices disagreed. Although they said that, in general, constitutional challenges are considered when individuals can show how their rights are impacted, the justices pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has carved out exceptions for associations suing on behalf of their members.
Jeremy W. Peters reports for the New York Times:
TRENTON, Sept. 24 — A state judge ruled on Monday that a $450 million bond proposal to finance stem cell research must stay on the November ballot, dealing a blow to abortion opponents.
Judge Neil H. Shuster of Superior Court in Mercer County ruled that abortion opponents who challenged the initiative on the grounds that it would permit human cloning waited too long to file their case and did not made a convincing enough claim of imminent harm.
Saying that an injunction was the “strongest weapon” available to the court and should be used sparingly, Judge Shuster declined to stop the printing of ballots. Counties across the state are printing ballots now so they can mail them this week, the earliest that state law allows ballots to be distributed.
Via ACLU press release:
The American Civil Liberties Union today asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to uphold a ruling allowing women prisoners in Missouri to obtain timely, safe, and legal abortion care.
"Courts throughout the country have consistently held that being in prison does not mean a woman gives up her reproductive rights," said Diana Kasdan, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, who argued the ACLU's position before the court today. "Like other serious medical needs, prison officials must ensure that a woman can access abortion care."
In 2005, prison officials in Missouri went to extreme lengths to deny a woman prisoner abortion care. The ACLU intervened, asking a court to require the prison to transport the woman for an abortion. When the court ruled that the prison must transport the woman to a nearby health care facility, the state unsuccessfully appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and the woman received the care she needed....
[The] case is Roe v. Crawford, et al., No. 06-3108. Lawyers on the case include Kasdan and Talcott Camp of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Anthony Rothert of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, and Thomas M. Blumenthal and James G. Felakos, cooperating counsel for the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.
Missouri Court of Appeals Rules that Pregnant Women Cannot Be Prosecuted for Child Endangerment Based on Drug Use During Pregnancy
Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City recently upheld a circuit judge's dismissal of a child endangerment case against a Buchanan County mother — Janet S. Wade — who, along with her baby, tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine the day after he was born. The court said the same section of Missouri law that allows criminal and civil action against a person who harms a pregnant woman doesn't allow prosecution of a mother for causing indirect harm to a fetus.
St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said the appellate court's ruling was devastating.
"The way this is decided, essentially, it opens the door for a person who is pregnant to kill the child up until the moment of birth by just literally consuming too much alcohol or too many different types of drugs," Banas said....
A law enacted in 1986 lies at the center of the controversy. It says that the life of a human being begins at conception and that unborn children have "protectable interests in life, health and well-being."...
But Judge Lisa White Hardwick, in her written opinion on the recent appeal, said the same section of law made an exception for a mother who harmed her unborn child. It reads:
"Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care."...
Susan Appleton, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and a former board member of Planned Parenthood, said that if the state wanted to make activity criminal, it had to make it clear before someone committed the crime what the consequences were. It could be difficult to draw a line on what activity is illegal, she said.
For example, Appleton said, if a pregnant woman is working in a dangerous environment, could she be prosecuted? What about not taking prenatal vitamins? Would there be a difference between consuming illegal drugs and consuming alcohol?
Monday, September 24, 2007
In a report issued on September 20 entitled Financing Ignorance: A Report on Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding in New York, the Reproductive Rights Project at the New York Civil Liberties Union calls on the state of New York to reject abstinence-only education programs in favor of comprehensive and scientifically accurate programs.
The NYCLU's press release highlights some of the most serious problems with abstinence-only education exposed by the report, including serious medical inaccuracies and the use of scare tactics in the curricula. The report also exposes prevalent gender bias in abstinence-only curricula:
Gender stereotypes regarding the different “natures” of girls and boys with respect to sexuality and relationships are presented as immutable, scientific facts. For example, one program teaches that “financial support” is one of the five “major needs of women,” and “domestic support” is one of the five “major needs of men.”
The report also calls for the state legislature to enact the "Healthy Teens Act" and amend the State Education Law to include a requirement that all students receive comprehensive, scientifically accurate, age-appropriate sexuality education in New York State public schools.
Unnati Gandhi reports for the Globe and Mail:
TORONTO -- In a move keeping with their counterparts across the province, trustees at the Toronto Catholic District School Board overwhelmingly voted in favour of allowing public health nurses to administer the controversial HPV vaccine in its schools.
After a discussion that lasted more than 90 minutes, trustees voted 9-3 in favour of the motion, rightly putting the health of their daughters over morality, one trustee said.
"I sure don't want to know that the headlines in two decades will read 'Catholic women lead in deaths for cervical cancer,' " trustee Maria Rizzo said during a passionately delivered statement to the board.
Andrea Lynch writes for the RH Reality Check blog (9/21):
I left Nicaragua in April of this year, a few weeks after International Women's Day. On that day, thousands of women gathered in front of the Supreme Court and elsewhere in the capital city of Managua to protest the ban on therapeutic abortion (abortion to save a woman's life) that had been passed unanimously by the Nicaraguan National Assembly in a misinformation-drenched political frenzy less than two weeks prior to the November 2006 presidential election, and signed into law by ex-president Enrique Bolaños shortly thereafter on November 17. The mood on International Women's Day was at once somber and hopeful-somber because several pregnant women had already died as a result of the ban, and hopeful because the Supreme Court was set to hear 25 separate challenges to its constitutionality in 2007. Although the highly polarized political climate in Nicaragua made feminists wary of expecting justice to be done, there was reason to be hopeful: the ban, after all, was actively opposed by the Nicaraguan medical community, dozens of community-based organizations and advocacy networks, and thousands of ordinary citizens, and even influential Church leaders and prominent members of the ruling Sandinista party had expressed doubt at the necessity of criminalizing abortion even in cases where a woman's life was at risk.
Sadly, events last week proved their hopes to be in vain. On Thursday, the National Assembly voted 66-3 to recriminalize therapeutic abortion during an overhaul of the Nicaraguan penal code, once again choosing unvarnished political opportunism over accepted medical consensus, not to mention concern for women's health (or, according to the ever-compassionate LifeSiteNews, women's "health") and lives.