Sunday, November 18, 2007

The abortion ship's doctor

Via The Guardian (UK):

Rebecca Gomperts, abortion doctor and activist, arrives straight from Heathrow, dressed in a smart suit, a big smile lighting up her girlish face. She is stopping off briefly en route to another engagement - a special screening of the film Vera Drake. She isn't keen. "I've seen it lots of times," she sighs, adding mischievously: "I'm going to try to get out of it."

The event has been organised to tie in with the 40th anniversary of the 1967 abortion act, which is also the reason Gomperts, 41, is in Britain. She is the founder of Women on Waves (WoW), a radical Dutch organisation that sails an "abortion ship" to countries where the procedure is illegal, before taking women out to the safety of international waters to provide terminations.

Gomperts' reluctance to see the Mike Leigh film is not because she is uninterested in the subject matter then. Her passion is evident, but after eight years of being involved in the fray over the abortion debate, she is keen to focus solely on her next voyage. Her goal, she states firmly, is to "get out of Europe".

November 18, 2007 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, International, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Millions Funneled to Rural Pregnancy Centers that Promote Religion, False Information

Sam Stein writes, for the Huffington Post:

Federally funded "pregnancy resource centers" throughout the country are receiving millions in taxpayer dollars despite promoting religious content and disseminating what critics say is misleading medical information.

Despite reservations from some in Congress, nearly $6 million in grants have been given to 21 pregnancy centers since the beginning of 2006, according to new data obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Many of these centers are receiving far more federal funding then they seemingly could need.

The Northern Hill Pregnancy Care Center in Spearfish, South Dakota, for example, has been granted more than $630,000 over three years despite seeing only 110 to 150 new clients per year. The Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center in Madisonville, Kentucky, was given more than $300,000 in federal grants over the last two years, even though the entire female population of the town (all ages) is less than 11,000. First Choice Pregnancy Center in Texarkana, Texas, meanwhile, sees between 800 and 1,000 patients annually. For that, the center has been granted more than $1.3 million over three years - an average of approximately $500 per person per year.

November 18, 2007 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iraq: Male gynecologists attacked by extremists

Via IRIN, UN Office for the Coordination of  Humanitarian Affairs:

Male gynaecologists are being targeted by Islamic extremists in Iraq as they are accused of invading the privacy of women. Women’s NGOs have raised concerns as there are few women gynaecologists in the country and their male counterparts are scared to continue working.

“Because of the extremists’ religious views, doctors are scared to continue with their work and the number of women gynaecologists is very low and cannot meet the demand,” said Mayada Zuhair, spokeswoman for the Women’ Rights Association (WRA).

“Extremists say that [male] doctors are not allowed to see the private parts of women and two male doctors were reportedly killed last week after leaving their clinics. A message was left near their bodies saying that was the end for any doctor who insists in invading the privacy of Muslim women,” Mayada added.

November 18, 2007 in International, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Reproductive Health in Emergencies Conference 2008


Reproductive Health (RH) in Emergencies Conference 2008 will bring together a wide range of actors from the fields of RH in emergencies, reproductive health, humanitarian assistance and development to contribute to the expansion of comprehensive RH services in crisis settings. We invite you to participate in this important dialogue and help to ensure that refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) receive the comprehensive RH care to which                                  they are entitled.

Abstracts are now being accepted. The due date for                                                       submissions is January 31, 2008. Home_4

For more information, see the RAISE website.




November 16, 2007 in Conferences and Symposia, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Teenagers and Children, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Chlamydia Infections Hit All-Time High

Via U.S. News & World Report:

The number of Americans newly infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) continues to rise, federal health officials say, with one infection in particular -- chlamydia - hitting an record million-plus new cases annually.

Numbers from 2006 show that cases of chlamydia, as well as gonorrhea and syphilis, continued to increase in the United States for the second year in a row, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)....

The CDC now estimates that there are some 19 million new cases of STDs diagnosed in the United States each year. Almost half of these occur among people 15 to 24 years of age, and they cost the health care system an estimated at $14.7 billion annually.

The CDC's report can be accessed here.

November 16, 2007 in Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pregnant teens need city help, groups say

Amy Zimmer reports for Metro New York:

MANHATTAN. A woman from the Bronx recently called the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of her pregnant sister. A guidance counselor told the sister she would need to transfer to a different middle school “because the school could not be held liable for what happened to her” since she was pregnant.

Lee Che Leong, director of the NYCLU’s Teen Health Initiative, recounted this and other incidents at a City Council hearing yesterday, and said the Dept. of Education isn’t doing enough to train school administrators, guidance counselors and teachers to help pregnant and parenting students complete their education.

November 16, 2007 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Democrats: The Code Word for Abortion Is "Privacy"

In tonight's Democratic debate in Las Vegas, when the candidates were asked what kind of Justices they would nominate for the Supreme Court, all seemed to avoid addressing the issue of abortion directly and instead couched their answers in terms of "privacy" and Roe v. Wade as "settled precedent."

Unlike some scholars who think equality is (re)emerging as a sounder foundation on which to base the right to abortion, the Democratic presidential candidates certainly don't appear ready to stray from Roe's doctrinal underpinnings.  (See, e.g., Cass Sunstein on Gonzales v. Carhart; Reva Siegel:  "Sex Equality Arguments for Reproductive Rights: Their Critical  Basis and Evolving Constitutional Expression".)

For a summary of the candidates' statements on abortion, see Live-blogging tonight's Democratic debate in Las Vegas (USA Today).

November 15, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

NYT: Bishops Offer Voting Guide, Allowing Some Flexibility on Issue of Abortion

Via the New York Times:

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops approved principles Wednesday intended to guide Catholics in choosing whom to vote for but leaving the door open for them to back candidates who support abortion rights.

Nearly all the bishops approved the document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” That broad consensus might help the church avoid the fissures that occurred in 2004, church experts said, when some conservative Catholic groups issued voter guidelines that identified abortion as “non-negotiable” and a group of bishops touched off a debate about whether Catholic candidates who back abortion rights should be denied Communion.

Past documents allowed Catholics to vote, in certain cases, for candidates who support abortion rights.

November 15, 2007 in Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Assignment for Robert Novak

Dear Mr. Novak,

Please read the following articles, and then explain why "jailing women [for abortion] is a spurious issue" that no Republican candidate should be expected to address:

Court Clears Way for Egg Rights Showdown (Wash. Post 11/13)

DENVER -- The Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for an anti-abortion group to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg as a person.

The court approved the language of the proposal, rejecting a challenge from abortion-rights supporters who argued it was misleading and dealt with more than one subject in violation of the state constitution.

If approved by voters, the measure would give fertilized eggs the state constitutional protections of inalienable rights, justice and due process.

Jore looking to challenge abortion law  (Helena Indep. Record 11/14)

State Rep. Rick Jore of Ronan, a staunch abortion opponent, hopes to have Montana voters decide next year whether the state constitution should define “person” in such a way as to outlaw abortion.

Jore, the Legislature’s only Constitution Party member, is proposing a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to define person as “a human being at all stages of human development or life, including the state of fertilization.”

If the measure gets on the 2008 general election ballot and is approved, essentially defining life as beginning at conception, the Montana Legislature would have little choice but to outlaw abortion, Jore said Tuesday....

It would establish constitutional rights for a fetus or human embryo, so they could not be deprived of “life, liberty and property” without due process of law, Jore said....

“My view of ‘due process’ is that you have to have had a trial and be found guilty, and I have a very hard time understanding how we could find an unborn child guilty of anything,” Jore said.


Caitlin Borgmann

November 14, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Fetal Rights, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Funds Cut Off by VA Gov. Kaine

Tim Craig reports for the Washington Post:

RICHMOND, Nov. 12 -- Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has cut off state funding for abstinence-only sex education programs, citing recent studies finding that teenagers should also be taught about birth control and condoms to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Kaine (D) submitted plans last month to close a budget shortfall in part by eliminating a $275,000 matching grant for a federal program that provided funds for 14 nonprofit groups that taught abstinence only.

Delacey Skinner, Kaine's communications director,said the governor believes that effective sex education programs must include information about contraceptives as well as abstinence.

November 14, 2007 in Contraception, Politics, Sexuality Education, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion Foes Throw Support to Thompson

The New York Times reports:

A prominent anti-abortion group has decided to endorse Fred D. Thompson’s presidential bid, giving the candidate a boost in his efforts to court conservative voters.

The group, the National Right to Life Committee, was also courted by a number of Mr. Thompson’s rivals but decided to endorse him because of his record on abortion issues as a former senator from Tennessee, according to Republicans familiar with the group’s thinking.

With its endorsement, which will be announced today, the group spurned Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, who had sought its support by promoting their anti-abortion stances.

The endorsement reflects the allowances many prominent conservative groups are making for candidates who do not fully embrace conservative orthodoxy.

November 14, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Edwards Announces Proposal To Expand Paid Family Leave

Via the Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report:

Presidential candidate and former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) on Tuesday at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., announced a proposal to expand paid family leave for employees who care for sick relatives or newborns, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.  The proposal would seek to provide all workers with eight weeks of paid family leave by 2014. 

Under the proposal, states would receive $2 billion annually to help develop programs that offer employees at least eight weeks of paid family leave. In addition, the proposal would expand the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid family leave, to cover 13 million additional employees. The proposal would require employers to provide workers with at least seven sick days annually. Edwards said that the proposal "works in combination with universal health care ... and a whole series of things that are essentially aimed at making sure we strengthen and grow the middle class in this country and provide some level of financial security that does not exist today" (Ramer, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).

November 14, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Men and Reproduction, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Uruguay Senate Votes on Decriminalization of First-Trimester Abortions

In a historical 18-13 vote, in November 6 the Senate of Uruguay gave half-sanction to the decriminalization of abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The project is to be discussed by the House of Representatives (“Cámara de Diputados”) – which would have the majority required to pass the law.

According to newspapers, the President of Uruguay, however, already
said that he would veto the law in case it is passed.

Links to Argentine newspapers on this issue:

--Martín Hevia (Escuela de Derecho, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina)

November 13, 2007 in Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Redesigning a Condom So Women Will Use It

Donald McNeil, Jr., writes, for the New York Times:

The female condom has never caught on in the United States. But in the third world, where it was introduced in the late 1990s, public health workers hoped it would overthrow the politics of the bedroom, empower women and stop the AIDS epidemic in its tracks.It did not. Female condoms never really caught on there, either.

Only about 12 million female condoms are delivered each year in poor countries, compared with about 6 billion male condoms. Couples complained that the female version was awkward, unsightly, noisy and slippery — or, as Mitchell Warren, who was one of its earliest champions, now says, “the yuck factor was a problem.” Many women tried it, but in the end, it was adopted mainly by prostitutes.

Now scientists are trying again. A new design — much the same at one end, different at the other — has been developed, and its makers hope it will succeed where its predecessor failed.

November 13, 2007 in Contraception, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 12, 2007

If Roe Falls, States Ready to Curb or Ban Abortion

What_if_roe33792 full size map

By Juliette Terzieff, WeNews correspondent:

The Center for Reproductive Rights studied what would happen if Roe v. Wade fell and protection for abortion was left up to the states. In a report issued Thursday, the group finds a majority of states would ban the procedure.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Women in a majority of U.S. states risk losing the right to obtain an abortion due to changes on the Supreme Court bench and the proliferation of abortion bans--some enacted, some in waiting--the Center for Reproductive Rights said yesterday in its "What If Roe Fell?" report.

A reversal of Roe v. Wade--the 1973 Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion--would mean that abortion law falls to the states, where anti-choice activists are pursuing a steady, two-front attack against abortion rights.

On one front, activists are pushing contentious legislation challenging Roe that is designed to be fought up to the Supreme Court. In the last three years, 27 such abortion bans have been introduced in 14 states, including Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and West Virginia.

November 12, 2007 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics, State and Local News, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Robert Novak: A Major Abortion Blunder

In an op-ed column for the Washington Post, Robert Novak writes:

Fred Thompson was well into a prolonged dialogue about abortion on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday when he said something that stunned social conservatives: "I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls and perhaps their parents as aiders and abettors." He then went further: "You can't have a [federal] law" that "would take young, young girls . . . and say, basically, we're going to put them in jail."

Those comments sent e-mails flying across the country, reflecting astonishment and rage from pro-life Republicans who had turned to Thompson as their best presidential bet for 2008. No serious antiabortion legislation ever has included criminal penalties against women who have abortions, much less their parents. Jailing women is a spurious issue raised by abortion rights activists. Interviewer Tim Russert did not bring it up in his questioning. What Thompson said could be expected from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Thompson's comments revealed an astounding lack of sensitivity about abortion. He surely anticipated that Russert would cite his record favoring states' rights on abortion. Whether the candidate just blurted out his statement or had planned it, it suggested a failure to realize how much his chances for the Republican nomination depend on social conservatives.

While Novak finds Thompson's comments astounding, I am flummoxed by Novak's.  What makes Novak madder: that Thompson declined to endorse the Republican platform plank calling for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, or that Thompson flagged the inconsistency in Republican's support for a such a ban (on the grounds that abortion is tantamount to murder) while refusing to criminalize the woman's conduct?  Novak pooh-poohs the issue of whether to punish the woman as a "chimera" that interests only pro-choice advocates and politicians.  But if a fetus is a person, then why shouldn't the woman be punished?  Novak offers no explanation.  But the apparent accepted wisdom (fervently endorsed by Novak) that Thompson should run from the issue seems to me a clear sign that Republicans are either unsure of whether they really think the fetus is a person, or else that they are sure that it's not.  And that makes all of that moving "life" rhetoric seem just a bit disingenuous.

See this related post: Should Women Do Time for Abortions?

November 12, 2007 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Debunks Theory That Teen Sex Will Lead to Delinquency

Via Washington Post:

Researchers at Ohio State University garnered little attention in February when they found that youngsters who lose their virginity earlier than their peers are more likely to become juvenile delinquents. So obvious and well established was the contribution of early sex to later delinquency that the idea was already part of the required curriculum for federal "abstinence only" programs.

There was just one problem: It is probably not true. Other things being equal, a more probing study has found, youngsters who have consensual sex in their early-teen or even preteen years are, if anything, less likely to engage in delinquent behavior later on.

That new analysis, a reworking of the same data the Ohio team used, is one of several recent instances in which a more precise parsing of data has begun to turn long-standing societal presumptions on their head. By bringing evidence to bear on complex social issues, these studies are forcing individuals and policymakers to rethink such hot-button topics as the benefits of breast-feeding, the risks of teen child-bearing and, in the latest example, the harms long presumed to result from teen sex.

November 12, 2007 in Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion foe ordered to stop Web postings reports:

A federal judge yesterday ordered an antiabortion activist to cease posting material on the Internet deemed threatening to doctors who provide abortion services.

John Dunkle, 72, of Reading, had published the address and photographs of a doctor who worked at women's health clinics, including one in Philadelphia, and literature suggesting that, "while it does not sound good to say go shoot her between the eyes, it sounds even worse to say let her alone."

Dunkle, representing himself, argued that his Web site and a newsletter he mails were part of a debate about how aggressive antiabortion activists should be in pursuing their cause. He quoted extensive passages from his own material of other activists denouncing him for entertaining such suggestions.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Golden dismissed his explanation.

H/T: Sylvia Stengle

November 12, 2007 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Federal Court Rules That Pharmacists May Refuse to Dispense Emergency Contraception

The Associated Press reports:

A federal judge has suspended Washington state's requirement that pharmacists sell "morning-after" birth control pills, a victory for druggists who claim their moral objections to the drug are being bulldozed by the government.

In an injunction signed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton said pharmacists can refuse to sell the morning-after pill if they refer the customer to another nearby source. Pharmacists' employers also are protected by the order.

The emergency contraception sold as Plan B is a high dose of a drug found in many regular birth-control pills. It can dramatically lower the risk of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

Critics consider the pill tantamount to abortion, although it is different from the abortion pill RU-486 and has no effect on women who already are pregnant.

The decision can be viewed here.

November 11, 2007 in Contraception, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Groveling for Choice: What Good Doctors Will Do

Carole Joffe (Sociology, University of California at Davis) writes for RH Reality Check:

"I actually went down on my knees begging him-but I think he felt he had been doing too many lately, and his hospital had been breathing down his neck. I walked out of there shaking...."
"I groveled and flattered him as much as I could. I sweet talked him. Finally he caved."

These are two stories of women physicians imploring male colleagues on behalf of patients who need abortions. The two events took place more than forty years apart, but the dynamics are eerily similar. The first speaker, Dr. Ethel Bloom (not her real name), now a retired general practitioner, is recounting for me her memories of what it meant to be an abortion-sympathetic doctor before Roe v Wade....

The second speaker, Dr. Margaret Riley (not her real name), is a vibrant and witty ob/gyn in her forties. In a just world, a woman like this would not have to "grovel," as she put it, before colleagues to get needed care for her patients....

November 11, 2007 in Abortion, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)