Monday, March 31, 2008
Baltimore Sun: More AIDS action urged, by Jonathan Bor:
Six years after city officials declared a "state of emergency" over Baltimore's AIDS problem, a commission is calling for stronger prevention efforts to reverse an epidemic that remains one of the nation's worst.
In a report released yesterday, the advisory panel said Baltimore is beset by rising infection rates among adults in their 20s. Meanwhile, African-Americans continue to bear the brunt of the disease, accounting for 90 percent of new HIV and AIDS cases.
"Baltimore as a whole is not doing well," said Dr. William Blattner, an epidemiologist who heads the Baltimore City Commission on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment. "We need to have a strategic plan so we can move ourselves out of the top 10 in a coordinated way."
Wall Street Journal: More Women Pursue Claims of Pregnancy Discrimination, by Sue Shellenbarger:
Pregnancy-bias complaints recorded by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission surged 14% last year to 5,587, up 40% from a decade ago and the biggest annual increase in 13 years.
And that "may be only the tip of the iceberg," an EEOC spokesman says.
United Press International: Hair follicles possible stem cell source:
University of Buffalo engineers said stem cells from hair follicles have the potential to be engineered into new blood vessels for bypass surgery.
The researchers said stem cells from sheep hair follicles contain the smooth muscle cells that grow new vasculature. Stem cells from human hair follicles also differentiate into contractile smooth muscle cells, the university said Friday in a release.
The findings are published in the journal Cardiovascular Research.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Critics of a bill banning partial-birth abortion say the real intent is to ban abortion altogether. It’s a claim sponsors of the measure deny.
In a House debate on Tuesday, Rep. Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, said his bill is specific to the rare medical procedure that is used to terminate late term pregnancies.
The bill is modeled after the federal abortion ban, which the Supreme Court upheld in Gonzales v. Carhart last year. But Alaska's constitution provides stronger privacy protection than does the federal Constitution:
Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said the new language is vague enough to encompass all first- and second-trimester abortions. And she doubts it would survive [a] legal challenge, given the state’s strict constitutional right to privacy.
A legal opinion from the Legislature’s own counsel agrees.
The Arizona Republic: Senate votes send abortion bills to Napolitano, by Amanda Crawford:
The Legislature passed two bills Tuesday regulating abortions in Arizona – one clarifying how a judge can approve an abortion for a minor and the other establishing state penalties for a controversial late-term procedure.
The bills, passed by the Senate, now go to the governor's desk. Gov. Janet Napolitano has vetoed similar bills in the past.
HB 2263 expands existing state law by outlining the criteria a judge should consider when deciding if there is “clear and convincing” evidence that a minor is mature enough to have an abortion without a parent's consent. Some of the things a judge can consider under the bill: whether the minor has worked and lived outside the home, handled her personal finances or made other significant decisions on her own....
The other bill, HB 2769, builds off a federal law banning so-called partial-birth abortions. The measure would make the late-term procedure also illegal under state law, which supporters say is needed to allow local prosecutors to make sure the ban is being enforced.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Brooklyn Law School is hosting a symposium, Decentralizing Rights: State-level Strategies to Promote Justice and Equality, today:
In the mid-20th century, the Warren Court revolutionized constitutional law by nationalizing norms of rights and equality. From Brown v. Board of Education to Miranda v. Arizona to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court invited those seeking to promote rights and equality to litigate in the federal courts. But, following changes in the composition of the Court in later decades, the tide has turned.
The Roberts Court has shown a willingness to water down or eliminate rights in some areas and seems likely to continue the trend of lowering the federal constitutional floor. Litigators who explore the alternative of going to the states confront the expense of litigating issues fifty times instead of one, among other challenges.
This symposium will assess how organizations whose mission is to promote rights and equality have responded to these challenges. It will compare the strategies that have led to successor failure in different areas, such as the death penalty, reproductive freedom, LGBT rights, eminent domain, and school equity, and will consider how well national and local organizations have adapted to decentralization.
More information is available here.
Reuters: FDA grants fast review of Gardasil for adult women (3/19):
Merck & Co on Wednesday said U.S. regulators have granted a priority review for the company's application to expand marketing of its Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine to women aged 27 through 45.
The designation means that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to make its decision on the marketing application within 6 months, rather than within the agency's typical 10-month review period.
Gardasil, one of Merck's fastest-growing products, is currently approved for girls and women nine through 26 years of age. It works by preventing infection with four sexually transmitted strains of the Human Papillomavirus that cause most cases of cervical cancer.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Michael Stokes Paulsen (University of St. Thomas Law School) has posted Prospective Abolition of Abortion: Abortion and the Constitution in 2047, University of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 1, No. 57, 2007, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
What if those who fashioned the Missouri Compromise of 1820, instead of drawing a geographical line in the sand, had drawn a 'time'-line instead, prohibiting slavery at a then-seemingly-distant date of 1860, forty long years into the future? Might the events of 1860 (and thereafter) played out much differently? Is it possible slavery would have been abolished sooner, and without the loss of 600,000 lives in the Civil War?
This short essay asks the question of whether abortion might be prohibited by constitutional amendment, effective some forty years in the future. Might it be possible to reach consensus that an absolute, unrestricted right to abortion should not exist forever?
The Capital Times: Pharmacist Loses Appeal on Refusing Contraceptive, by Anita Weier:
An appeals court today upheld a decision by the state Pharmacy Examining Board reprimanding and placing conditions on the license of a pharmacist who refused to fill or transfer a patient's prescription for an oral contraceptive.
The state's 3rd District Court of Appeals found the board was correct in 2005 when it ruled Neil Noesen had violated a professional standard of care by preventing a woman from obtaining her prescription elsewhere.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Associated Press: Aspiring Pol Changes Name To Pro-Life:
Idaho Strawberry Farmer Vying For Larry Craig's Senate Seat Trumpets Abortion Stance
A Senate candidate has legally changed his name to Pro-Life and will appear on the ballot that way this year, state election officials say.
As Marvin Pro-Life Richardson, the organic strawberry farmer from Letha, 30 miles northwest of Boise, was denied the use of his middle name when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 because the state's policy bars the use of slogans on the ballot.
Now, though, officials in the Idaho secretary of state's office say they have no choice because Pro-Life is his full and only name. He says he will run for the highest state office on the ballot every two years for the rest of his life, advocating murder charges for doctors who perform abortions and for women who obtain the procedure.
Unlike many anti-choice politicians, Mr. Richardson apparently does not shy away from addressing whether women should be punished for abortions. See also this post: Republican Debate: No! Not the "Should the Woman Be Punished for Abortion" Question! Run away!
The Clarion-Ledger: Abortion Foe Admits Breaking Rule to Remain 25 Feet from Local Clinic, by Rebecca Helmes:
Longtime anti-abortion protester Roy McMillan admitted in court Friday that he had twice broken a federal agreement to stay 25 feet from Mississippi's only abortion clinic.
But the instances, he said, were times when he was moved by compassion to comfort a woman he assumed to be upset about getting an abortion and to help a friend who had passed out in the street.
When U.S. Justice Department attorney Julie Abbate asked McMillan if it would be morally justifiable to kill an abortion provider, including Jackson Women's Health Organization physician Joseph Booker, McMillan said he couldn't answer.
"I think there are times you can break a law for a higher good," McMillan said. But he said he doesn't admire people who commit violence against abortion providers.
A decision on whether he will be held in contempt for breaking the 1996 federal consent decree prohibiting him from approaching the State Street clinic and threatening or intimidating clinic workers could come as early as Friday.
A new study published in the journal, Contraception, shows pharmacies provide more rapid access to emergency contraception (EC) than clinical settings. ("Provision of Emergency Contraception: A Pilot Study Comparing Access Through Pharmacies and Clinical Settings," Black et al., Contraception, March 2008).
This study sought to compare the provision of emergency contraception through different health care settings, including community pharmacies, family planning clinics and general practices. Researchers also aimed to determine whether client satisfaction, and subsequent contraceptive use and sexual health outcomes vary significantly depending on where the services are provided....
Women who obtained the drug from pharmacies had more rapid access than those who went to family planning clinics and general medical practices. The rapid access available at community pharmacies is "potentially of great importance" because of findings from the World Health Organization that the sooner EC is taken after unprotected sex the more effective it is. However, other "aspects of provision and client satisfaction seem to favor attendance at a clinical setting over a pharmacy" for obtaining EC, they write, adding that women who "went to a clinical service described less discomfort and greater privacy."
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle: Judge: State's anti-abortion suit premature, by Bob Egelko:
San Francisco Chronicle: Judge: State's anti-abortion suit premature, by Bob Egelko:
A federal judge dismissed on Tuesday California's challenge to a federal anti-abortion law that threatens the state with huge financial penalties, saying the lawsuit - filed in January 2005 - was premature because the alleged state-federal conflict might never arise.
The suit, filed by then-state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, sought to overturn an amendment to a federal spending bill that was first signed by President Bush in December 2004 and has been repeatedly extended. Sponsored by Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., it denies a wide range of federal funding to states that discriminate against any doctor, hospital or insurer that does not offer abortions or abortion referrals.
State officials said the Weldon Amendment could cost California $37 billion if the state enforced its own law requiring any hospital or clinic to perform an abortion in an emergency, when childbirth would threaten the woman's life or health. That law applies to doctors and hospitals who, under another California statute, are ordinarily entitled to refuse to perform abortions for religious reasons.
Join advocates across the country in raising awareness of EC and ensuring that every woman can back up her birth control with EC when and if she needs it.
The 2008 Day of Action is dedicated to making EC available to all women regardless of their income, insurance coverage or immigration status. While we celebrate the FDA decision that made EC available over-the-counter to women 18 and older, we know that the high cost of EC over-the counter, usually between $40-70 in pharmacies nationwide, is a continuing barrier to some women accessing EC. Making the situation even worse is the fact that many college health centers and safety-net family planning clinics have had to drastically increase the cost of regular birth control methods because of a provision in the Deficit Reduction Act passed in 2005 that eliminated discounts on birth control for these clinics. This means that the four million college-age women across America – along with low-income women who rely on the 400 safety-net family planning clinics – may need to back up their birth control now more than ever before.
This year’s campaign will focus on:
- Raising awareness of the barrier to EC access posed by the high cost of EC over-the-counter
- Educating women, and teens who can’t access EC OTC, about sources of free and low-cost EC in their communities
- Encouraging and providing resources for advocates who are working for a resolution of the DRA price increase
- Highlighting innovative models that advocates and health departments across the country are implementing to help increase access to affordable EC (including free EC days, websites that help women compare EC prices at their area pharmacies, states covering EC OTC under their Medicaid programs, etc.)
Click below for more information, materials and resources!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Telegraph.co.UK: Embryo Bill sparks Labour row with church, by Andrew Porter and Caroline Gammell:
The row over the Government's flagship Embryology Bill threatened to escalate into one of the most serious crises of Gordon Brown's premiership, as a war of words erupted between senior Labour figures and the Roman Catholic Church.
Embryo Bill is plank of Gordon Brown's agenda Catholic Church proves serious irritant to PM Controversial Embryo Bill: For and against
A succession of senior Catholic churchmen used their Easter addresses to criticise the legislation and intensify the pressure on Mr Brown to allow his Catholic MPs a free vote when the Commons debates the Bill later this year.
Clone treatment may help find Parkinson's cure Leader: Embryo Bill deserves a free vote Your View: Should we allow the creation of hybrid embryos?
But Mr Brown is refusing to let the MPs and ministers vote against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which he believes will lead to major advances in medicine and the treatment of fatal diseases.
ACLU press release: Lower Court’s Ruling Upholding Women’s Right to Reproductive Freedom Will Stand:
Washington, DC - The United States Supreme Court announced today that it would not review a lower court decision preventing prison officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, from interfering with women prisoners’ access to timely, safe, and legal abortion care.
"As we have shown throughout this case, a pregnant woman in prison does not lose her right to decide to have an abortion any more than she gives up her right to have a child," said Brigitte Amiri, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "It is not up to prison officials to decide whether a woman prisoner should carry a pregnancy to term or not."
At issue in the case was an unwritten Maricopa County Jail policy preventing women in prison from obtaining abortion care. The policy prohibited jail officials from transporting a prisoner for an abortion unless she first obtained a court order. The jail transports prisoners without a court order for all other necessary medical care, including prenatal care and childbirth. The jail also regularly transports prisoners for various non-medical reasons, including visits with terminally ill family members or attendance at relatives’ funerals.
La Crosse Tribune, UW-L student newspaper accused of censoring, by K.J. Lang (3/14):
Pro-life Wisconsin has accused three college newspapers — including the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Racquet — of censorship because they have not run an ad warning against emergency contraceptives.
The ad, showing a college-age male and female, reads “Be good to yourself over spring break. Make smart choices the night before ... that way you won’t have any emergencies to deal with the morning after!”
It also states that “emergency contraception is a powerful, high dose of steroids that tricks a woman’s body into thinking it is pregnant” and can cause “chemical abortions and deadly blood clots.”
Associated Press: Abortion bill passes House, moves to Senate (3/18):
The House passes a bill supporters say will lead to tighter restrictions on late-term abortions.
The 84-40 vote Tuesday sent the bill to the Senate. The sponsor, Olathe Republican Lance Kinzer, said the lopsided vote indicated that members thought the legislation was reasonable.
The legislation doesn't outlaw any legal procedure, including late-term abortions that involve a fetus determined to be 22 weeks or older.
Among other things, it requires abortion providers to give a woman having a late-term abortion copies of documents stating the reason for the procedure.
For any abortion, doctors would have to provide ultrasound images and heartbeat sounds to the woman at least 30 minutes before the procedure.
Associated Press: Ill. High Court Considers Pharmacy Rules, by John O'Connor (3/18):
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- A group of pharmacists asked the Illinois Supreme Court on Tuesday to throw out a rule that forces them to dispense emergency contraception despite moral objections, claiming it amounts to illegal coercion.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich issued the rule in 2005, prohibiting pharmacies from turning away women seeking emergency contraception. The medicine is a higher dosage of typical hormonal contraception, and if taken within three days of having sex it greatly reduces the chance of pregnancy.
Pharmacists who do not want to dispense the drug say it is tantamount to abortion. The closely watched case mirrors concerns raised in other states.
Friday, March 21, 2008
A follow-up to an earlier NPR segment (see this post):
Obstetrican-gynecologists who don't want to perform or refer for abortions are not at risk of losing their board certification after all.
Last Friday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt sent a letter to the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, with a copy to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Leavitt said he was concerned about an ethics committee statement from ACOG in November stating that doctors should either be prepared to perform "standard reproductive services" or else refer those patients to someone who will.
Leavitt's letter said he was even more concerned that the Ob/Gyn board had made adherence to that policy a requirement for certification....
But Norman Gant, executive director of the certifying board, says HHS got it all wrong.
Listen to/read the full story here.