Monday, June 30, 2008

Yemen: Young Girls Defy Child Marriage

Yemen_flag NY Times: Tiny Voices Defy Child Marriage in Yemen, by Robert F. Worth:

One morning last month, Arwa Abdu Muhammad Ali walked out of her husband’s house here and ran to a local hospital, where she complained that he had been beating and sexually abusing her for eight months.

That alone would be surprising in Yemen, a deeply conservative Arab society where family disputes tend to be solved privately. What made it even more unusual was that Arwa was 9 years old.

Within days, Arwa — a tiny, delicate-featured girl — had become a celebrity in Yemen, where child marriage is common but has rarely been exposed in public. She was the second child bride to come forward in less than a month; in April, a 10-year-old named Nujood Ali had gone by herself to a courthouse to demand a divorce, generating a landmark legal case.

June 30, 2008 in Culture, International, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rev. Jim Wallis Denies Urging New Democratic "Abortion Reduction" Plank

Jim_wallis_2 Newsweek: Reducing Abortions, by Sarah Kliff:

Jim Wallis devoted a significant chunk of his latest book, "The Great Awakening," to outlining his views on abortion. The evangelical leader wrote in favor of "protecting unborn life in every possible way, but without criminalizing abortion." And when he talks, people listen; the editor of Sojourners, a magazine that champions "the biblical call to social justice," Wallis is a leader of a liberal wing of the evangelical movement.         

So Wallis was a bit confused when he saw those same views on abortion making news on Wednesday, first in an ABC News article and then on Good Morning America and in the blogosphere the next day. The stories reported that Wallis wanted Obama to add a plank to the Democratic Party platform urging a reduction in the number of abortions performed. "I've been talking to Barack for 10 years and didn't start any new initiative lately," says Wallis. "I've been on record for years supporting a new approach." Wallis told NEWSWEEK that he isn't all that interested in revising Democratic Party ideals. "If either platform discussion moves in that direction, it'll be a big news story for a few days and then the candidates will run on whatever they want to run," he says.

June 30, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

NY Times Magazine Examines Declining Population in Europe

NY Times Magazine cover story: No Babies?, by Russell Shorto:

Eu_flag_3 ...In the 1990s, European demographers began noticing a downward trend in population across the Continent and behind it a sharply falling birthrate. Non-number-crunchers largely ignored the information until a 2002 study by Italian, German and Spanish social scientists focused the data and gave policy makers across the European Union something to ponder. The figure of 2.1 is widely considered to be the “replacement rate” — the average number of births per woman that will maintain a country’s current population level. At various times in modern history — during war or famine — birthrates have fallen below the replacement rate, to “low” or “very low” levels. But Hans-Peter Kohler, José Antonio Ortega and Francesco Billari — the authors of the 2002 report — saw something new in the data. For the first time on record, birthrates in southern and Eastern Europe had dropped below 1.3. For the demographers, this number had a special mathematical portent. At that rate, a country’s population would be cut in half in 45 years, creating a falling-off-a-cliff effect from which it would be nearly impossible to recover. Kohler and his colleagues invented an ominous new term for the phenomenon: “lowest-low fertility.”...

June 28, 2008 in Fertility, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Eighth Circuit to Pregnant Women: You're Not Carrying a Dolphin!

The Eighth Circuit has issued its long-awaited en banc decision in Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, lifting a preliminary injunction against a South Dakota so-called "informed consent law."  The law requires doctors to give women seeking abortions a written statement that tells them, among other things, "that the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

The court admitted that this statement "certainly may be read to make a point in the debate about the ethics of abortion."  You think?!  Well... you think wrong, actually.  The court admonished that the statement must be read in conjunction with a "limiting definition" found elsewhere in the statute.  This definition specifies that “human being”  means “an individual living member of the species of Homo sapiens . . . during [its] embryonic [or] fetal age[].” 

This, said the court, transforms what appears to be a moral lecture into nothing more than the imparting of scientific fact.  Moreover, the court opined, "this biological information about the fetus is at least as relevant to the patient’s decision to have an abortion as the gestational age of the fetus."  I fully agree!  Just think of all those scores of women who have flocked to abortion clinics under the sad misimpression that they were carrying developing dolphins.  The women of South Dakota can rest safely in the knowledge that, thanks to their wise legislators, they will at last understand the mystery of their pregnancy (but only if they decide to terminate it).

Not surprisingly, the court quoted at length a now-famous passage written by Justice Kennedy in Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the Supreme Court upheld the federal "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act."  (As I wrote after Carhart was issued, "it is almost as if this passage were meant instead to go in an opinion upholding a biased information requirement like the South Dakota law currently under consideration by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.")  In it, Justice Kennedy described abortion as entailing "a difficult and painful moral decision" that some women would "regret."  He warned that "[s]evere depression and loss of esteem can follow," although he admitted that "we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon."  That passage seemed to make sense only as a blatant signal to the Eighth Circuit, since it was so misplaced in an opinion that addressed how abortions may be performed, not what kinds of information must be given to women seeking abortions. 

Via How Appealing:

En banc Eighth Circuit vacates preliminary injunction that prevented the 2005 version of South Dakota's statute regulating informed consent to abortion from becoming effective: You can access today's en banc ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit at this link. Of the eleven judges who took part in the ruling, seven voted to overturn the preliminary injunction, while four voted to uphold it.

And here's coverage from the Associated Press.

June 27, 2008 in Abortion, Gonzales v. Carhart, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (2)

Family Research Council Ad Attacks Obama on Abortion

Obama_smile The Caucus (NY Times): New Ad Hits Obama on Abortion, by Michael Falcone:

The lobbying arm of the Family Research Council, the conservative Christian organization, is going on the air in several cities on Friday with a television ad featuring a personal note from the group’s president, Tony Perkins, to Senator Barack Obama. The message: Mr. Obama’s abortion rights stance is hypocritical.

In the 30-second ad,  Mr. Perkins appears seated and cradling his young son, Samuel. It begins with a clip of Mr. Obama’s recent Father’s Day speech in which he said: “We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception.” (In the speech, which he gave at a Chicago church, Mr. Obama spoke about the problem of absent black fathers.)

As he holds his toddler, Mr. Perkins turns Senator Obama’s words back on him, asking, “If, as you say, fatherhood begins at conception, when does life begin?”...

June 27, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Romania: 11-Year-Old Incest Victim Permitted Abortion

Romanian_flag BBC News: Romanian girl permitted abortion:

An 11-year-old Romanian girl who is 21 weeks pregnant after being raped by an uncle will be able to have an abortion, even though it is forbidden by law.                   

A government committee said the procedure should go ahead due to the exceptional circumstances of her case.                   

June 27, 2008 in Abortion Bans, International, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Montana: Proposed Const'l Amendment to Define Embryos As Persons Fails to Qualify for Ballot

Missoulian: Abortion ban fails to qualify for ballot, opponents say, by Jennifer McKee:

Egg_sperm_2 Opponents of an proposed constitutional amendment to ban abortion by defining a fertilized human egg as a “person” announced Tuesday the measure has failed to gain enough support to qualify for the November ballot.

Constitutional Initiative 100 would have changed the constitution to define a “person” as a fertilized egg and conferred to them all the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

June 26, 2008 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Bioethics, Contraception, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Amy Sullivan on Whether Pro-Choice Women Will Support McCain

Mccain Time: Will Pro-Choice Women Back McCain?, by Amy Sullivan:

The 2008 presidential race may have been branded a "change" election, but abortion rights advocates have seen this movie before. Once again they face a Republican nominee who supports abortion restrictions yet is widely viewed as moderate and unthreatening to pro-choice voters. Eight years ago, it was George W. Bush who convinced pro-choice Republican and independent women that he was a safe bet, asserting that "America is not ready to ban abortions." This time, according to a poll released last week by NARAL Pro-Choice America, voters have a fuzzy sense of John McCain's views on abortion — which is just the way the McCain campaign wants it.

June 26, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alabania: Fading Custom of "Sworn Virgins" Allowed Women to Live as Men

NY Times: Albanian Custom Fades: Woman as Family Man, by Dan Bilefsky:

Albania_flag_2 KRUJE, Albania — Pashe Keqi recalled the day nearly 60 years ago when she decided to become a man. She chopped off her long black curls, traded in her dress for her father’s baggy trousers, armed herself with a hunting rifle and vowed to forsake marriage, children and sex.

For centuries, in the closed-off and conservative society of rural northern Albania, swapping genders was considered a practical solution for a family with a shortage of men. Her father was killed in a blood feud, and there was no male heir. By custom, Ms. Keqi, now 78, took a vow of lifetime virginity. She lived as a man, the new patriarch, with all the swagger and trappings of male authority — including the obligation to avenge her father’s death.

June 25, 2008 in Culture, International, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

James Dobson Attacks Obama on Religious Views, Abortion

NY Times: Evangelical Leader Attacks Obama on Religious Views, by Larry Rohter:

James_dobson_3 Just days after Senator Barack Obama met quietly with religious leaders, including the son of the Rev. Billy Graham, another of the evangelical movement’s most prominent names, James C. Dobson, has sharply attacked Mr. Obama, accusing him of having “a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution” and twisting the meaning of both the Old and New Testaments.

...One focus of Mr. Dobson’s objections was abortion, which provoked his attacks on Mr. Obama’s view of the Constitution. Mr. Obama, who supports abortion rights, wants “to go to the lowest common denominator of morality,” Mr. Dobson said, and impose “his bloody notion of what is right in regard to the rights of tiny babies.”


Dobson didn't seem so concerned about the rights of those "tiny babies" when he applauded the Court's decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on abortion procedures that the Court claimed would not prevent a single abortion, but rather would only steer doctors to different methods.  See Supreme Court Ruling Brings Split in Antiabortion Movement (Wash. Post) and Open Letter to Doctor James Dobson (Colorado Right to Life).

See also CNN: Obama says Dobson 'making stuff up', by Alexander Mooney:

Sen. Barack Obama said evangelical leader James Dobson was "making stuff up," when he accused the Illinois senator of distorting the Bible and taking a "fruitcake interpretation" of the U.S. Constitution.

June 25, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Romanian Government to Decide on Abortion for 11-Year-Old Incest Victim

Romanian_flag China Daily: Romanian gov't to decide on 11-year-old girl abortion:

BUCHAREST, Romania  -- Romania's health minister said Wednesday a government committee will decide this week whether an 11-year-old who was raped by her uncle can go to Britain for an abortion or must continue the pregnancy.

The case, which surfaced earlier this month, has bitterly divided the medical community, child rights groups and the public.

The girl is 20 weeks pregnant, which is over the legal limit for abortions in Romania.

June 25, 2008 in Abortion Bans, International, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Rev. Jim Wallis Urges Obama to Add "Abortion Reduction Plank" to Democratic Party Platform

Substitute "unintended pregnancy" for "abortion" and I'd be right with this program.  It doesn't make sense to talk about reducing abortion, when unintended pregnancy is the root problem.  You could reduce abortions without reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy at all.  But what kind of a social policy is that?  Talking about reducing abortions will only fuel the demonization of abortion and the women who choose it.

2008_vote_2 Political Radar (ABC News blog):  Obama Friend Pushes for Abortion Reduction Plank:

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace Report: Before the Democrats convene in Denver, the Rev. Jim Wallis plans to urge Barack Obama to go along with adding an “abortion reduction” plank to the party platform.

“Abortion reduction should be a central Democratic Party plank in this election,” Wallis told ABC News. “I’ll just say that flat out.”

Wallis, who hosted a Democratic candidates’ forum on CNN last year, discussed his plans after defending Obama against Dr. James Dobson’s charge that the Illinois Democrat distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible when he spoke to Wallis’s Sojourners group in 2006.

June 25, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (2)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Supreme Court to Consider Pregnancy Leave Case

Supreme_court Wash. Post: High Court to Take Up Pregnancy Leave Case, by Christopher Twarowski:

Noreen Hulteen gave birth to a daughter, Rachael, in 1968, when she was 34. While on maternity leave, she required surgery and wound up missing 240 days of work. Hulteen, 74, contends that her employer, Pacific Bell -- now AT&T -- did not properly weigh her pregnancy leave into her retirement and other benefits. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the issue in a case that could affect thousands of women who are near or at retirement age.

June 24, 2008 in In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Supreme Court, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (3)

Gloucester Mayor Denies Teen "Pregnancy Pact"

Reuters: Mayor in Massachusetts city denies pregnancy "pact", by Jason Szep:

The mayor of a Massachusetts city that drew attention for a spike in teenage pregnancies denied on Monday a media report that a group of girls entered a pact to become pregnant.

June 24, 2008 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Materials from the Marie Stopes Global Safe Abortion Conference now available online

Marie_stopes Online videos, audios, powerpoints and notes of the proceedings of the Marie Stopes Global Safe Abortion Conference held in London last October are now available here, including:

"Expanding Access to Legal Abortion: The Policy Guideline Trend"
Keynote Presentation by Joanna Erdman
Session 6
Media coverage (Argentine newspaper article)

"Accommodating Women's Differences under the Women's
Anti-Discrimination Convention"
Presentation by Rebecca Cook
Session 8.29:

"The Legal and Ethical Context of Conscientious Objection"
Presentation by Bernard Dickens
Session 8.32:

Via Linda Hutjens (Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme, Univ. of Toronto).


June 24, 2008 in Abortion, Conferences and Symposia, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Oregon Woman Discusses Abortion, Relationship With "Pro-Life" Congressional Candidate

The Oregonian: Oregon City woman details abortion, relationship with Mike Erickson, by Janie Har & Steve Mayes:

Now a "pro-life" congressional candidate, he gave her $300 and took her to the clinic in Northeast Portland, Tawnya says

An Oregon City woman who dated congressional candidate Mike Erickson seven years ago said she asked him directly whether he wanted to have a baby. He shook his head no, she said, and paid for her abortion.

In interviews with The Oregonian, the woman said she met Erickson in September 2000, and she had the abortion in January 2001. They saw each other afterward, she said, even going on a trip to Mexico in March, before the relationship ended. She spoke on the condition that only her first name, Tawnya, be used.

Her story is backed up by medical and other records, and the accounts of two friends, one of whom was with her at the abortion. Their story conflicts directly with Erickson's version.

June 24, 2008 in Abortion, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Planned Parenthood Expands Its Reach to Higher Income Women

Wall St. Journal: EXTENDING THE BRAND Planned Parenthood Hits Suburbia, by Stephanie Simon:

Flush with cash, Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide are aggressively expanding their reach, seeking to woo more affluent patients with a network of suburban clinics and huge new health centers that project a decidedly upscale image.

The nonprofit, which traces its roots to 1916, has long focused on providing birth control, sexual-health care and abortions to teens and low-income women. While those groups still make up the majority of Planned Parenthood's patients, executives say they are "rebranding" their clinics to appeal to women of means -- a move that opens new avenues for boosting revenue and, they hope, political clout.

Two elegant new health centers have been built, and at least five more are on the way; the largest, in Houston, will be 75,000 square feet. They feature touches such as muted lighting, hardwood floors and airy waiting rooms in colors selected by marketing experts -- as well as walls designed to withstand a car's impact should an antiabortion protest turn violent.

June 23, 2008 in Abortion, Contraception, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Why an Abortion Provider, Under Siege, Presses On"

NY Times Letter to the Editor: Why an Abortion Provider, Under Siege, Presses On, by Suzanne Poppema:

To the Editor:

Re “Grass-Roots Grand Juries Become the Latest Abortion Battlefield” (front page, June 17):

Citizen-convened grand jury investigations are only the latest attacks on Dr. George Tiller and on women’s ability to have safe, legal abortions. In his three decades of providing abortion care, antichoice protesters have shot Dr. Tiller, bombed his clinic and harassed him at home.

Nevertheless, he and his staff continue to safeguard women’s health, performing abortions — safely and with great compassion — that few doctors in the country have the training to handle.

As a retired abortion provider and a friend of Dr. Tiller, I know why he presses on: women desperately need his services. Physicians like Dr. Tiller are heroes to every woman they treat. He should be honored for his dedication, not persecuted.

If Dr. Tiller can’t get the credit he deserves, I’d settle for everyone just leaving him alone.  Suzanne T. Poppema

Edmonds, Wash., June 17, 2008

The writer is board chairwoman of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

June 23, 2008 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Experts Concerned By Recent Spate of Teen Pregnancies

Baltimore Sun: Babies As Something Fun, by Susan Reimer:

The head of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is outraged that for many teens,'having a baby is ... about the same as getting a tattoo'

June 22, 2008

Teen pregnancy news has gone from the mundane to the sensational.

Recent data show that the declines in teen sex and improvements in contraceptive use have leveled off and that the teen birth rate is on the rise for the first time in 15 years.

Unfortunately, that news generated not much more than yawns.

See also this statement by the National Campaign on Jamie Lynn Spears' becoming a teenage mother. 

MTV Newsroom also has a recent article on teen pregnancies: Jamie Lynn Spears Birth, Teen Pregnancy Increase Concern Experts: ‘Babies Need And Deserve Adult Parents’

June 23, 2008 in Culture, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Abortion Clinic Director Who Posed As Doctor Faces Criminal Charges

Stethoscope LA Times: Abortion clinic operator is charged in felonies by San Diego County D.A., by Tony Perry:

'This defendant preyed on women in the Hispanic community' by passing herself off as a doctor, the prosecutor says. Bertha Bugarin, 48, at one point ran six clinics in Southern California.

SAN DIEGO -- A 48-year-old woman who ran an abortion clinic in Chula Vista was charged Friday with 10 felony counts of practicing medicine without a license and grand theft.

Bertha Pinedo Bugarin, who faces similar charges in Los Angeles, is accused of telling women that she was a doctor, performing abortions on them and prescribing drugs. One woman had to be rushed to a hospital with life-threatening complications, prosecutors said.

June 23, 2008 in Abortion, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)