Friday, March 21, 2008

Study Shows Effectiveness of Comprehensive Sex Ed

Seattle Times: UW researchers say comprehensive sex ed cuts teen pregnancies, by Kyung M. Song:

Students who receive comprehensive sex education are half as likely to become teen parents as those who get none or abstinence-only sex education, according to researchers at the University of Washington.

What's more, teens who had comprehensive education, which typically discusses condoms and birth-control methods as well as abstinence, were no more likely to engage in intercourse than peers who were taught just to say no to sex before marriage, researchers said.

The study is the first time researchers have taken a national sampling of teenagers to compare the effectiveness of the two approaches to sex education. And it echoes other studies that have previously suggested that the federal government's decadelong promotion of an abstinence-only curriculum isn't deterring young people from having sex.

Here's more on the study from Science Daily.  The study is published at: Journal of Adolescent Health 42 (2008) 344–351.


March 21, 2008 in Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dr. Susan Wicklund to Reopen Abortion Clinic in Bozeman, MT

Associated Press: Doctor plans to reopen abortion clinic in Bozeman:

Medical abortions unavailable here for 10 years will be offered again by June, says the physician who operated Bozeman's only abortion clinic in the 1990s.

"Women should not have to travel over mountain passes and two-lane roads to obtain needed medical care," Dr. Susan Wicklund said.

"It breaks my heart" that women from the Bozeman area must travel to Billings, Missoula, Helena or Kalispell to end unwanted pregnancies, Wicklund told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in a story Thursday.

Wicklund, 54, said she has been working at other clinics around the state for two years.

Dr. Wicklund is the author of the recently published book, "This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor".  See NYT: Telling the Stories Behind the Abortions and David Garrow Reviews Dr. Susan Wicklund's "This Common Secret".

March 21, 2008 in Abortion, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

California Board of Ed Adopts Sex Ed Standards

Contra Costa Times: State panel adopts health curriculum, by Dana Hull:

After nearly two years of debate and numerous drafts, California's State Board of Education quietly adopted its first-ever set of "health education content standards" this week.

The guidelines spell out exactly what California's more than 6 million students from kindergarten through 12th grade are expected to know about health and are required as part of a controversial 2004 law that replaced a patchwork of often contradictory statutes on sex education. The law requires that all high schools give "medically accurate" information about condoms and other forms of birth control.

The health curriculum, which also covers drug and alcohol use, nutrition, exercise and environmental health, is far broader than sex education. But teaching about sex -- and at what age -- is an explosive issue for many parents, and that topic continued to divide groups Thursday.

March 20, 2008 in Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Alabama Prosecutes Women For Drug Use During Pregnancy

NY Times: In Alabama, a Crackdown on Pregnant Drug Users, by Adam Nossiter:

A day after she gave birth in 2006, Tiffany Hitson, 20, sat on her front porch crying, barefoot and handcuffed. A police officer hovered in the distance.

Ms. Hitson’s newborn daughter had traces of cocaine and marijuana in its system, and the young woman, baby-faced herself, had fallen afoul of a tough new state law intended to protect children from drugs, and a local prosecutor bent on pursuing it. She made arrangements for the baby’s care, and headed off to a year behind bars.

“I couldn’t believe it,” recalled Ms. Hitson, who was released in November after spending much of the first year of her daughter’s life at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Alabama.

Two worlds are colliding in this piney woods backcountry in southern Alabama: casual drug use and a local district attorney unsettled that children or fetuses might be affected by it. The result is an unusual burst of prosecutions in which young women using drugs are shocked to find themselves in the cross hairs for harming their children, even before giving birth.

Over an 18-month period, at least eight women have been prosecuted for using drugs while pregnant in this rural jurisdiction of barely 37,000, a tally without any recent parallel that women’s advocates have been able to find. The district attorney, Greg L. Gambril, acknowledges the number puts him at the “forefront,” at least among Alabama prosecutors. Similar cases have come up elsewhere, usually with limited success. But Alabama, and in particular this hilly, remote terrain just above the Florida Panhandle, is pursuing these cases with special vigor.

March 19, 2008 in Fetal Rights, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Luke Milligan on Fetal Homicide Laws and Rawls

Luke M. Milligan (University of Louisville Law School) has posted A Theory of Stability: John Rawls, Fetal Homicide, and Substantive Due Process, Boston University Law Review, Vol. 87, No. 5, 2007, on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This Article evaluates the bifurcated approach to fetal rights in the light of John Rawls's political philosophy. In particular, it seeks to discern whether fetal-homicide laws, as they presently exist, suggest a societal recognition of fetal personhood, and, if so, whether this renders the right to abortion inconsistent with Rawlsian principles of justice.

March 19, 2008 in Fetal Rights, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

China Will Retain One-Child-Per-Couple Policy

NY Times: China Sticking With One-Child Policy, by Jim Yardley:

China’s top population official said the country’s one-child-per-couple family planning policy would not change for at least another decade. The announcement refutes speculation that officials were contemplating adjustments to compensate for mounting demographic pressures.

The official, Zhang Weiqing, minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said China would not make any major changes to the overall family planning policy until roughly a decade from now, when an anticipated surge in births is expected to end.

March 19, 2008 in International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sweeping Quebec education reforms leaving curious teens without sex ed

Via the Canadian Press:

MONTREAL — Quebec teenagers may be left groping in the dark about the dangers and joys of sexual intimacy as the province cuts high school sex-education classes.

Sweeping Quebec education reform is eliminating class time for sex ed and asking teachers to talk about the birds and bees in all classes, from math to gym.

"This makes Quebec the only province in Canada that does not specifically mandate some form of sexual health education," said Alex McKay, a research co-ordinator with the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada.

"Quebec is bucking a trend because other provinces have ever so slowly been increasing what they mandate be taught about sexual health."

While some sex-ed teachers laud a so-called holistic approach, they also fear students will miss important information.

March 19, 2008 in International, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Ob/Gyn Guidelines Stir Ethics, Legal Debate

Via NPR:

The Bush administration says new ethics guidelines written by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists may violate federal "conscience" laws.

The guidelines require physicians to make referrals for abortions or other procedures they don't wish to perform themselves. But there is still confusion over whether a doctor would actually lose his or her certification as a specialist for refusing to make a referral.

At issue is an opinion released in November by the ACOG ethics committee. Among other things, it says physicians "have the duty to refer patients in a timely manner to other providers if they do not feel they can in conscience provide the standard reproductive services that patients request."

Read the full story or listen to the segment here.

March 19, 2008 in Medical News, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NY Times: NY Lt. Gov. David Paterson Holds Similar Views on Abortion as Gov. Eliot Spitzer

N.Y. Times: Hope for Harmony in a Shaken Albany, by Nicholas Confessore and Jeremy Peters:

On Day 442, everything changes. Again.

When Gov. Eliot Spitzer took office 14 months ago, he seemed poised to upend the capital’s powers that be, pledging that on “Day 1, everything changes.” But Mr. Spitzer’s confrontational, sometimes bellicose manner antagonized his opponents and alienated his allies, and his sweeping electoral mandate dissipated month by month, a victim of the governor’s mistakes and oversteps.

Now, as Lt. Gov. David A. Paterson prepares to succeed Mr. Spitzer, Republicans and Democrats alike are predicting an equally extensive change of atmosphere and, for better or worse, a return to comity between the governor and the Legislature. Mr. Paterson’s temperament and style, his friends and fellow officials say, are as mild and subtle as Mr. Spitzer’s are not....

Mr. Paterson is considered more liberal than Mr. Spitzer on some key issues, and that could create friction with the Republicans. He opposes the death penalty and strongly supports overhauling New York’s Rockefeller-era drug laws, for example. Years ago he introduced a proposal to allow noncitizens to vote. On issues like abortion and embryonic stem cell research, Mr. Paterson is staunchly liberal, as is Mr. Spitzer.

See also: dotCommonweal: Eliot Spitzer and Abortion, by Paul Moses (3/11):

New York state’s Catholic bishops had a long-awaited appointment with Gov. Eliot Spitzer at the state Capitol in Albany on Monday at 3 p.m. to protest his pending abortion rights legislation. For some reason, it kept getting put off, and Cardinal Edward Egan and fellow bishops were left to wonder why. They were told at one point that the lieutenant-governor, David Paterson, would meet with them. But that failed to come through. They were finally able to deduce the problem after a New York Times report on the Web indicated that Spitzer was occupied with other worries.

For more on Spitzer's proposed Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act, see this post.

March 16, 2008 in Abortion, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Canada abortion debate rekindled as bill passes

Via Reuters:

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The long-dormant issue in Canada of when life begins has reemerged with the backing by the House of Commons of a bill that would make it a crime to cause the death of an unborn child when a pregnant woman is attacked.

The House gave approval in principle on Wednesday evening to the "Unborn Victims of Crime Act," a bill opponents say is the thin edge of the wedge in reimposing abortion restrictions, but which proponents say merely protects unborn children who are wanted by their parents .

The bill is the private initiative of Conservative Member of Parliament Ken Epp and won the vote of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and some, but not all, members of three of the four parties in the House.

For more on the bill, see this post.


March 16, 2008 in Fetal Rights, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

STIs Among Gay Men Often Not Detected

N.Y.Times: Sex Diseases in Many Gay Men Go Unfound, Experts Say, by Lawrence Altman:

Many cases of sexually transmitted diseases are escaping detection because gay men are not being tested each year as advised, federal health officials said Wednesday. And if the men do show up, the officials added, many doctors and clinics are not following screening recommendations.

But more cases could be detected if the government approved new ways to use a type of DNA test that is already on the market, the officials and researchers said in a news conference at a scientific meeting in Chicago.

March 12, 2008 in Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

National Study Finds High STI Rates Among Teenage Girls

N.Y. Times: Sex Infections Found in Quarter of Teenage Girls, by Lawrence Altman:

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Nearly half the African-Americans in the study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study — human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite.

The 50 percent figure compared with 20 percent of white teenagers, health officials and researchers said at a news conference at a scientific meeting in Chicago.

March 12, 2008 in Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference on Gender and Intellectual Property


American University Washington College of Law's Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, and Women and the Law Program present:

The Fifth Annual
IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections

Exploring the rich intersection of intellectual property law and feminist theory.

April 4, 2008
American University Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW • Washington, DC 20016

Click here for more information and registration.

March 12, 2008 in Conferences and Symposia, Law School, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sweden: Liberal Party Proposes Eliminating Parental Opt-Out for Sex-Ed

The Local: Sweden's News in English: Immigrant girls and sex education - who knows best? by David Landes:

Parents, students, or the state: who knows best? David Landes looks at the thorny issue of sex education and editorial reactions to a Liberal Party proposal aiming to bar parents from exempting their children, particularly girls, from classes.

On Thursday, representatives of the Liberal Party made headlines with a controversial proposal to do away way a rule exempting school children from attending compulsory lessons in subjects considered objectionable by their parents.

The rule came about in 1969 to allow students of different faiths to skip Christian religious instruction, which was compulsory in Swedish schools at the time. In 1996, the exemption was expanded to allow students to skip otherwise obligatory lessons, such as sex education, under “special circumstances”.

March 10, 2008 in International, Politics, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House Hearing on Paid Parental Leave Leave Bill

Washington Post: A Plea for Parental Leave, by Stephen Barr:

Last summer, Amy S. Costantino suddenly went into labor and gave birth to twin sons -- 3 1/2 months premature. Each weighed less than two pounds, and they spent 90 days in a neonatal intensive-care unit.

She soon was confronted with a stark choice: use the sick leave and vacation time she had accrued over her 16-year career as a federal employee to be with her sons in intensive care, or go back to work and save the paid leave so she could be at home when her sons were released by the hospital.

Costantino, 39, decided to save the leave for when her boys came home. But, she said at a House hearing yesterday, "I often wonder if I made the right decision," especially when she thinks about not being at the hospital to feed and comfort her babies at their most vulnerable time.

Read more on HR 3799, the paid parenting leave bill, from the NPWF Daily Women's Health Policy Report.

March 10, 2008 in Congress, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Noa Ben-Asher on "Baby-Making Markets"

Benasher_noa Noa Ben-Asher (Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School) has posted The Curing Law: On the Legal Evolution of Baby-Making Markets on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

How has morality shaped current baby-making markets? What bargaining conditions have been set for individuals seeking to participate in those markets? The article offers a new paradigm to examine the legal regulation of reproductive technologies. The main argument is that a paradigm of cure has shaped historical and current legal baby-making markets. Namely, reproductive technologies that have historically been understood as forms of cure (such as sperm donations and egg donations) have developed into market commodities, while others (such as full surrogacy) which have not been understood as cure, have not. The article examines and critiques the cure paradigm. Specifically, the article challenges one current manifestation of the cure paradigm: the legal distinction between "full surrogacy" (where a surrogate impregnated using her own ova) and "gestational surrogacy" (where an embryo is created in vitro and then transferred into the surrogate‘s uterus). Gestational surrogacy has been established by many state courts and legislatures as a legitimate form of curing female infertility, while full surrogacy has generally been either prohibited or deemed unenforceable. This distinction is problematized in this article not only because it is based on contestable values, but also because it is has produced serious market failures that have effectively excluded many potential participants from entering the baby-making markets. Thus, the article argues that it is time to reevaluate the cure paradigm, and that the first step in this reevaluation involves the legalization of full surrogacy by state courts and legislators.

March 10, 2008 in Assisted Reproduction, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Brooklyn Law School Symposium Today on "Partial-Birth Abortion" Bans

I am looking forward to participating in a symposium today at Brooklyn Law School, "The 'Partial-Birth Abortion' Ban: Health Care in the Shadow of Criminal Liability."  My co-panelists are Talcott Camp (Deputy Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project), David Meyer (University of Illinois & Visiting Professor at Brooklyn Law School), and Priscilla Smith (Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School).  Nan Hunter (Brooklyn Law School) will moderate the panel.  For a description of the symposium and a full list of speakers, click here.  Papers will be published in the Brooklyn Journal of Law & Policy.

March 7, 2008 in Abortion Bans, Conferences and Symposia, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Carlos Ball on Privacy and Public Sex

Ball Carlos A. Ball (Penn State) has posted Privacy, Property and Public Sex on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This Article argues that the constitutional right to sexual liberty should include the right to engage in public sex under certain circumstances. In doing so, the Article contends that the right to sexual liberty should not, as the Supreme Court has held, be site-dependent, that is, its scope should not be limited to sexual conduct that takes place in the home and other private places. The Article reviews the sociological literature on public sex to explain how sexual actors frequently and effectively privatize public sex sites. By analogizing to the privacy protection afforded by the Fourth Amendment, the Article argues that what should ultimately matter in determining the scope of the right to sexual liberty under the Due Process Clause is not where the sex takes place but whether the sexual actors' expectations of privacy are reasonable. In the end, the Article seeks to problematize the seemingly intuitive notion that, in matters of sex and sexuality, the concept of privacy is inextricably linked to geographic sites that are private.

March 6, 2008 in Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

AZ House Passes Bill Regarding Maturity of Minors Seeking Abortion

The Arizona Republic: House passes abortion bill tied to maturity of minors, by Amanda J. Crawford  and Mary Jo Pitzl:

A minor would have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that she is mature enough to get an abortion without her parents' consent, under a bill passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives.

Supporters say that HB 2263 just codifies a 2003 ruling on the existing parental-consent law by the Arizona Court of Appeals, in which the court specified criteria that can be used to determine if a minor is mature enough to make the decision to have an abortion.

Under the bill, the court could consider factors, including whether the minor has traveled on her own, handled her own finances, lived outside her parents' home and made other significant decisions.

March 5, 2008 in Abortion, State Legislatures, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Caitlin Borgmann on Judicial Deference to Legislative Factfinding

Caitlin Borgmann (CUNY Law School) has posted Rethinking Judicial Deference to Legislative Factfinding on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

It is traditionally assumed that the role of ascertaining and evaluating the social facts underlying a statute belongs to the legislatures. The courts, in turn, are tasked with deciding the law and must defer to legislative factfinding on relevant issues of social fact. This simplistic formula, however, does not accurately describe the courts' confused approach to legislative factfinding. Although the courts often speak in terms of deference, they follow no consistent or predictable pattern in deciding whether to defer in a given case. Moreover, blanket judicial deference to legislative factfinding would not be a wise general rule. Because social factfinding plays a decisive role in constitutional analysis, blind judicial deference would undermine the courts' responsibility to protect individual rights. Judicial treatment of legislative factfinding is thus sorely in need of a coherent theory.

This Article proposes a new approach, a paradigm of selective independent judicial review of social facts. Under this model, the courts should independently review the factual foundation of all legislation that curtails individual rights, even when those rights do not receive strict or heightened scrutiny. This approach is unique in ensuring a baseline protection for all individual rights, including emerging rights, while respecting the division of power between the branches of government. The paradigm is needed because, this Article asserts, legislatures are poorly positioned to gather and assess facts dispassionately, especially when addressing laws that restrict controversial or minority rights. The process of factfinding in federal trial courts ensures a superior factual record when such rights are at stake. This Article illustrates the courts' and legislatures' contrasting capacities for factfinding through case studies, including "partial-birth abortion," gay parenting, and indecency on the Internet. Moreover, the Article argues, because of the courts' vital role in protecting individual rights, the proposed paradigm honors constitutional structural principles.

Comments are welcome.  The article includes a case study constrasting legislative and judicial factfinding on the federal and state "partial-birth abortion" bans.

March 5, 2008 in Gonzales v. Carhart, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)