Friday, April 25, 2008
The Journal of Adolescent Health: Abstinence-Only and Comprehensive Sex Education and the Initiation of Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy, by Pamela Kohler et al.:
In April, the Journal of Adolescent Health published a study examining the effect of formal sex education programs on the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections among teens. The researchers noted that abstinence-only programs have no significant effect on "delaying the initiation of sexual activity or in reducing the risk for teen pregnancy" and STIs. They added that when compared with no sex education or abstinence-only education, comprehensive sex education programs were associated with a significantly reduced risk of pregnancy.
See also: BBC News: Has US abstinence policy failed?, by By Jane O'Brien.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Bridget Crawford (Pace Law School) has posted Third-Wave Feminism, Motherhood and the Future of Legal Theory on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This paper theorizes the noticeable absence of law from discussions of motherhood by feminists who came to political consciousness in and after the 1990's. Young women loudly proclaim their difference from feminists who have come before, but in doing so, they over-emphasize and even elevate women's reproductive achievements over others. First-person narratives like Rebecca Walker's Baby Love, Evelyn McDonnell's Mama Rama, and Peggy Orenstein's Waiting for Daisy reify motherhood into a sought-after and revered state. These authors, perhaps unwittingly, contribute to the very mythology of motherhood that prior feminists sought to vanquish. They seemingly reject the feminist adage that the personal is political. For Walker, McDonnell, Orenstein and others, the political is personal all over again.
By offering a critique from squarely within the generation of women who have proclaimed a third-wave of feminism, this article speaks directly to my peer group of legal scholars. I am a third-wave feminist by strict demographic definition, but not by preference, politics or proclivity. Women like me (and our allies) who grew up and first studied law in a post-ERA, post-Title IX and post-coeducation era need to develop our own account of the law's limitations and potential. This account should be informed by our own experiences but also needs to understand preceding feminist concerns and methodologies. Writings of young feminists, when read in the context of the work of Martha Fineman, Robin West and Adrienne Rich, among others, can articulate a feminist theory of motherhood. In fusing contemporary third-wave feminist writing with extant feminist legal scholarship, one can discern the beginnings of a potentially rich third-wave feminist legal theory with its sights on pragmatic gender justice.
How much evidence does Congress need to have about the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education before it stops debating these programs and starts defunding them?
L.A. Times: Federal funding of abstinence-only sex education programs debated, by Sarah Wire:
WASHINGTON -- Continued federal funding of abstinence-only sex education in public schools was debated before a House committee Wednesday amid questions about whether the government should sponsor a program that many experts say doesn't work.
Most of the 11 witnesses who appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform advocated instead for comprehensive programs that include information about how teenagers can protect themselves from pregnancy or disease if they choose to engage in sexual activity.
Our Bodies Our Blog: What's the Truth About Teen Pregnancy?
You may have seen recent headlines such as "US teen pregnancy rate near historic low" and been somewhat confused (I certainly was). After all, didn't the CDC just announce that teen pregnancy rates were going up? A Dec 7, 2007 CDC press release entitled "Teen Birth Rate Rises for First Time in 14 Years" stated that "The teen birth rate in the United States rose in 2006 for the first time since 1991, and unmarried childbearing also rose significantly, according to preliminary birth statistics."
The two reports focus on slightly different things - teen pregnancies vs. teen births. The new report notes that the teen pregnancy rate was 72.2 per 1,000 ages 15-19 in 2004. The 2006 report indicates that the teen birth rate has increased to 41.9 births per 1,000, but doesn't provide an overall teen pregnancy rate. These are difficult to compare easily, as not all pregnancies result in births. We know, then, that births to teenagers increased in 2006, but not how the actual pregnancy rate changed. The teen pregnancy report shows a historic trend of both birth and abortion rates declining alongside pregnancy rates.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Interesting post by David Cohen on Feminist Law Professors:
No, this is not a post about Obama/Clinton and gendered support patterns. Rather, this is a post about something else related to sex difference and voting that some, if not all, Pennsylvanians are facing today.
When I voted this morning, after choosing who I wanted for the Democratic Presidential nominee, I also had to vote for individual delegates for my district to send to the convention. I had to vote for 7 out of a group of 12. If I remember the ballot correctly, 7 of the delegate options were aligned with Obama while 5 were aligned with Clinton. If I understand Pennsylvania rules correctly, the individual delegates are bound to vote according to their district’s popular vote . . . for the first vote at the convention only. If the convention vote goes beyond a first round, then they can vote for whoever they want.
But that’s not the point of this post. What was interesting about voting for the individual delegates was that we were required to vote for 4 men and 3 women. If I had wanted to vote for a 4th woman or a 5th man, I wasn’t allowed to because of this sex-based voting requirement. (Luckily, all the names of the delegate candidates were seemingly-obviously linked to one sex or the other because even though there was a sex-based requirement, the sex of the individual candidate was nowhere noted on the ballot.) I don’t know if this is a local rule or if this is true for all individual delegate voting (in PA or across the country), but it struck me as quite odd, although interesting legally.
Click here for the full post. According to the PA Democratic Party website (click on Selection Plan Summary), it seems that the system is designed to ensure a (virtually) even split among male and female delegates (although I should note that there is an uneven total number, with 52 slots reserved for male delegates and 51 for female). So, depending on which district a voter is in, she may be required to vote for more female or more male delegates. I also note that these binary "male/female" categorizations (with no "other" category, for example) completely leave out people who identify either as both male and female, or as neither.
Here's a Philadelphia Inquirer story on the "confounding" nature of the Pennsylvania delegate selection process (although the story does not address the gender issue).
Via the New York Asian Women's Center website:
The New York Asian Womens Center
A Special Screening of the film HOLLY
An insightful and poignant film addressing HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING
Thursday, May 01, 2008
6:15 PM to 8:45PM
34 W 13th St
New York, NY 10011
The purpose of the film screening is to raise awareness and to help combat the world-wide travesty of Human Trafficking - and to benefit the anti-violence and anti-trafficking programs of NY Asian Women's Center. You can also learn about how the film was made and join the Q&A session with the Writer/Producer of Holly. >>>> Reminders: 1. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before showtime. 2. If you purchased a Student Ticket, bring valid Student I.D. to the Quad theater on May 1, 2008.
You can purchase tickets online at the link above.
Kansas City Star: Missouri House backs new abortion mandates, by Kit Wagar & Jason Noble:
JEFFERSON CITY | Legislation that would require women and their doctors to run a gantlet of new requirements before terminating pregnancies was approved Thursday by the Missouri House.
Supporters said the bill would ensure that women were informed of all the risks associated with an abortion and protect them from being coerced into undergoing the procedure.
“This bill is designed to help all of us,” said Rep. Cynthia Davis, an O’Fallon Republican. “Women are being forced to have abortions by their boyfriends, their parents and their molesters. This bill is about freedom.”
But critics accused the majority of trying to block women from exercising their rights. The bill throws up so many requirements that abortions would actually become less safe and much harder to obtain, opponents said.
Associated Press: Middle school has 1 taker months after contraceptives furor, by David Sharp:
PORTLAND, Maine -- For all the firestorm surrounding the decision to make prescription contraceptives available at King Middle School, only one girl has used the service in the six months since the program began, officials say.
Last fall, administrators said they anticipated that only a handful of older middle schoolers would use the service, even though it was open to all students enrolled in the clinic, including those as young as 11.
As of Thursday, the only student to obtain a prescription for contraceptives was a 14-year-old girl, the city reported in response to a Freedom of Access request from The Associated Press.
"If it helps one student who otherwise might be in a position of being at risk, then it's worth it," said Lisa Belanger, who oversees Portland's student health centers.
Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Pope at U.N. Speaks Against Science That He Says Violates 'Order of Creation':
Pope Benedict XVI on Friday at the United Nations General Assembly spoke against technology and science that he said violates the "order of creation," which seemed to refer to stem cell research and cloning, Long Island Newsday reports (Schuster/Dowdy, Long Island Newsday, 4/19).
Benedict said, "Notwithstanding the enormous benefits humanity can gain [from technology and science], some instances of this represents a clear violation of the order of creation, to the point where not only is the sacred character of life contradicted, but the human person and the family are robbed of their natural identity." The use of science and technology should be limited to "rational" ways to "rediscover the authentic image of creation," Benedict said, adding, "This never requires a choice to be made between science and ethics. Rather, it is a question of adapting a scientific method that is truly respectful of ethical imperatives" (Boorstein/Lynch, Washington Post, 4/19).
Associated Press: Yale: 'Abortion' art won't be displayed without disclaimer, by John Christofferson:
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Yale University said Monday it will not install an art project by a student who claims to have filmed herself inducing repeated abortions unless she includes a disclaimer saying it is a work of fiction.
Yale also said an instructor and an adviser made "serious errors of judgment" in letting the project go forward.
Aliza Shvarts' work was described last Thursday in a story in the Yale Daily News. She told the newspaper she artificially inseminated herself "as often as possible" while taking herbal drugs to induce miscarriages.
Newsweek: A Maverick, But He’s No Moderate, by Sarah Kliff & Holly Bailey:
John McCain boasts one of the most consistent pro-life voting records in the Senate, but he doesn't do much boasting about it. Even during the primaries—when touting his anti-abortion credentials could have scored with his conservative critics—he mostly avoided the subject. Why? "My record is clear," McCain said, when asked by reporters earlier this year. "I am a pro-life conservative."
But several pro-choice groups are nervous that his record isn't speaking loudly enough—that, on the contrary, it's been overshadowed by his reputation as a maverick who bucks the party line. Their fears are bolstered by a new Planned Parenthood survey, conducted in 16 likely battleground states, which shows that 23 percent of McCain's female, pro-choice supporters mistakenly believe he shares their views on abortion. An additional half of the respondents said they did not know enough to describe his position. "There's an enormous education gap," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, lamenting that most women "have no idea what John McCain's stance is."
See also NARAL Pro-Choice America's MeetTheRealMcCain.com.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Fla. Senate Rejects Proposal To Add Comprehensive Sex Education Amendment to Evolution Bill:
The Florida Senate on Thursday rejected a proposal to add a comprehensive sex education amendment to an education bill (S 2692) that would allow teachers to provide "scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding biological and chemical evolution," the Miami Herald reports. Opponents of S 2692, sponsored by Sen. Ronda Storms (R), said the measure would a "backdoor" way to allow the teaching of intelligent design, according to the Herald.
Senate Democrats said that the sex education amendment, sponsored by Sen. Ted Deutch (D), would allow public schools to teach the "full range of scientific views" about sex education. Storms said that the sex education amendment went too far, adding that the measure did not belong in the bill and that it could lead to "prematurely deflowering kindergartners and first- and second-graders." Deutch said that the amendment had to be "age appropriate" and that it would help reduce sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies. He added that the bill simply gives students "the opportunity to ask about the scientific information" (Caputo, Miami Herald, 4/18).
Wall Street Journal: Antiabortion Initiatives Divide Movement, by T.W. Farnam:
Abortion opponents are pushing ballot measures in five states this year. But the campaigns show as much division as unity in the antiabortion movement.
In California, an initiative would add that state to the long list that currently requires doctors to notify parents before giving abortions to minors. In Missouri, abortion foes are trying to require psychological examination to show the woman isn't acting under duress. State officials say the law as written would be tantamount to a ban, but advocates dispute that.
In South Dakota, activists have revived a measure defeated two years ago that directly outlaws abortion. They have modified the proposal to try to boost support, adding new exceptions for the health of the mother and cases of rape or incest. In Colorado and Montana, abortion opponents are taking a newly popular tack, promoting constitutional amendments that give legal rights to human embryos.
Behind the varying measures is a philosophical split among antiabortion groups. Some want to promote measures that ban abortion outright, directly challenging the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion. Others prefer to chip away at abortion rights by limiting the types of procedures allowed, or finding other ways to limit access.
Reva Siegel (Yale Law School) has posted The Right's Reasons: Constitutional Conflict and the Spread of Woman-Protective Antiabortion Argument on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This Lecture investigates the social movement dynamics that produced woman-protective antiabortion argument. The Lecture explores the political conditions under which leaders of the antiabortion movement began to supplement or even to supplant the constitutional argument abortion kills a baby with a new argument, abortion hurts women - a claim that achieved widespread public notice with the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart.
The Lecture's genealogy of a social movement claim begins in the 1980s, when members of the antiabortion movement asserted that abortion subjects women to regret, trauma, and psychological illness, a condition they termed post-abortion syndrome (PAS). My story then follows changes in the abortion-harms-women claim as it was transformed from PAS - a therapeutic discourse initially employed to dissuade women from having abortions and to recruit women to the antiabortion cause - into woman-protective antiabortion argument (WPAA), a political discourse forged in the heat of social movement conflict that sought to persuade audiences outside the movement's ranks in electoral campaigns and in constitutional litigation.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Miss. House Speaker To Appoint Panel To Study Bill Regulating Abortions for Minors:
Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy (D) on Wednesday announced that he will appoint a "diverse group" of House members to study a Senate-approved bill (HB 520) that would restrict abortions for minors, which is currently held up in a House committee, the AP/Biloxi Sun Herald reports. McCoy said the bill, as well as other antiabortion-related legislation, will be considered in 2009. According to the AP/Sun Herald, McCoy took the step as a way to head off a potentially divisive battle with conservatives that threatened his leadership (Wagster Pettus, AP/Biloxi Sun Herald, 4/16).
The House had recently voted 79-41 to pass HB 520, but the measure was held up by Rep. Willie Bailey (D), who as the chair of the committee of jurisdiction has the authority to table a motion to reconsider under Mississippi House rules. Nine Mississippi House members last week filed a petition to temporarily change the rule (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 4/15).
AP: Vatican cardinal who led campaign against abortion dies, by Frances D'Emilio:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, a Colombian prelate who helped lead the Vatican's campaign against abortion and insisted condoms do not prevent HIV transmission, has died, one of his assistants said Sunday. He was 72.
Lopez Trujillo died Saturday night at the Pius XI private clinic in Rome, where he had been admitted for tests on March 17, Monsignor Jorge Raigosa said....
In March 2007, Lopez Trujillo traveled to Mexico to launch the Roman Catholic Church's aggressive campaign against plans in the predominantly Catholic country to legalize abortion. Catholic teaching forbids abortion as a grave sin.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Carter Dillard (LLM candidate, NYU) has posted two articles on SSRN. Here are the abstracts:
Few principles are as universally accepted in legal scholarship today, but based on such scant support, as the fundamental nature and broad scope of the right to procreate. What is perceived as a vague but nonetheless justified legal and moral interest to procreate freely without regard to others is, upon closer examination, based on little more than misconstrued or inapposite case precedent and blurry statements in non-binding sources of international law. By relying on this authority, conflating procreation with conceptually distinguishable behaviors, presuming its intrinsic value, and ignoring competing rights and duties, lawyers have largely overlooked procreation and its legal and normative limits. Interpreting U.S. constitutional and international law sources, and finally employing Locke's model of natural rights, this Article redefines the right in law and practice as satiable and narrow, acknowledging the competing rights and duties that both qualify and justify the right. It posits that the procreative right, properly stated, includes at least the act of replacing oneself and at most procreation up to a point that optimizes the public good.
While ethicists have delved deep into the rights and wrongs inherent in procreating, lawyers have had little to say about the matter, stymied by practical concerns, the tendency of the law to ignore future persons and their interests, and the misperception of a fundamental rights boundary that absolutely forbids state intervention. But recently a small door has opened in the wall between law and ethics, as some courts faced with having to constantly remove abused and neglected children from parents adjudged unfit have issued temporary no-procreation orders. As precedent slowly begins to form and the possibility of ex ante regulation of procreation and parenthood begins to grow, a moral and legal debate is beginning over what duties prospective parents owe their future children and the society with which they will interact, the resolution of which will in part define the actual constituency of the future state. This Article is the first to cut through the debate, which is a muddle of conflicting state and constitutional law, uncovering the essential principle at its core, and arguing for codification of that principle. It posits, largely through deductive reasoning, that there is a moral and legal duty on a prospective parent to be fit when he or she has a child, one arising from or creating correlative claim-rights shared by the state and prospective children, and a prospective parent has no liberty to have a child until he or she is fit. It argues for codification of this principle to be applied in cases of recurring abuse and neglect, taking courts out of the sea of confusion where they have been left by politically sensitive legislatures, and allowing them to best protect the various interests involved and avoid irreparable harm.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Associated Press: Abortion-rights lawmakers to receive Communion, by Laurie Kellman:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Catholic members of Congress who publicly support the right to abortion will trek to Nationals Park Thursday for a Mass celebrated by a pope who has said such lawmakers should not receive Communion.
Leading these lawmakers, some of whom have repeatedly complained about remarks by Pope Benedict XVI and a few bishops on the subject, will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the government's highest-ranking Catholic and a supporter of abortion rights. Nowhere in her remarks or her actions this week has she referred to strains with the new pontiff.
Instead, she bent to kiss his ring at the White House Wednesday as Benedict arrived in a blaze of pageantry, and later she spoke glowingly on the House floor about his commitment to truth, justice and freedom. A week before he arrived, the House passed a resolution welcoming him to Washington.
And yes, her spokesman said, she intends to receive Communion from one of the 300 priests and lay ministers who will offer it to the gathered flock of 45,000.
Benedict's stance on abortion and Communion has been painful for elected officials who inhabit the troubled zone where Catholicism and their political beliefs intersect.
TIME/CNN: The Pope Faces His US Flock, by Jeff Israely and David Van Biema:
For many years and more frequently in the past month, Benedict has been lauding America's vigorous piety, which he has said is partially a result of the First Amendment's leveling the religious playing field and ensuring competitive vigor by forbidding the government to pick an "established" church. The Pope has called it a "positive secularism," in contrast to what he considers outright government hostility to religion in Europe. He expressed this admiration to President Bush this morning. But in front of his bishops, for the first time, Benedict gave vent to an idea that he has usually presented only as a brief, if dark, caveat: that it is not enough for Americans "to count on this tradition," because its "foundations are being slowly undermined."
The dropping of this other shoe makes the Pope seem more consistent, since there is much he clearly dislikes about American materialism and pop culture. Today he explained that "perhaps," after all, America's brand of secularism "poses a particular problem: it allows for professing belief in God... but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith can become a passive acceptance... without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing separation of faith from life." Combined with what he called our "individualistic and eclectic approach to faith," he said this can lead to what he noted St. Paul termed a temptation to "conform to the spirit of the age." The Pope then gave a pointed example: "We have seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion."