Friday, June 20, 2008

McCain's Charm Offensive Aimed at Female Voters Meets Fierce Resistance

John_cindy_mccain AFP: McCain's courtship of women runs into trouble:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Republican John McCain is courting the loyalty of female voters, including disaffected supporters of Hillary Clinton, but faces a fierce counter-offensive from Democrat Barack Obama.

With fulsome praise for Clinton and a high profile on his campaign for female business executives, McCain is targeting the 54 percent of the electorate whose sway will prove vital to success in November's election.

But Obama is highlighting the economy, abortion and equal pay to say the Republican is on the "wrong side" of nearly every issue of concern to women, including Clinton backers still angry at her loss in the Democratic race.

June 20, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Politics, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Survey Shows Majorities Worldwide Oppose Criminalizing Abortion

Earth_2 AlterNet: Criminal Penalties for Abortion Rejected Across the Globe, by Jill Filipovic:

When you live in a country where abortion rights remain a contentious issue in every election and anti-choice activists are emboldened enough to demonstrate against the birth control pill, there are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic about the future of reproductive freedom. But internationally, there's a glimmer of good news: Around the globe, individual citizens support abortion rights, even when their own governments criminalize abortion.

The Program on International Policy Attitudes surveyed men and women in 18 countries that collectively make up 59 percent of the world's population. In 17 out of the 18 countries, a majority of respondents rejected criminal penalties for abortion. In nine of the 18 countries, majorities said that abortion is an individual decision that governments should butt out of. Of those nine countries which thought the government should intervene in abortion rights, only a majority in one -- Indonesia -- supported criminal sanctions for women who terminate their pregnancies.

June 20, 2008 in Abortion Bans, International, Public Opinion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Student Scholarship: The Right to Abortion in Taiwan

Hsiaowei Kuan (Penn Law) has posted Abortion Law and Abortion Discourse in Taiwan: Rights, Social Movements and Democratization on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

My dissertation tells a story of the abortion right in Taiwan: how abortion was not a right either before or after its legalization, how it became a right after the mobilization of social movements and democratization, and finally, what sort of right it is today. Abortion was legalized in Taiwan in 1985, for the purposes of population control and social and economic development of the nation. The legalization debates of the 1980s (the Old Abortion Debate), did not include a rights discourse. Twenty years later, when new abortion bans were submitted to the Legislature for review, a fresh round of debate (The New Abortion Debate) began in which a rights discourse emerged. My dissertation compares the abortion discourses of the Old Abortion Debate with the New Abortion Debate. I examine in what way they are different and, in particular, whether the use of the language of rights increased. Based on an empirical analysis of legislative records, I conclude that the quantity of abortion rights discourse significantly increased in Taiwan in the period of the New Abortion Debate. I explore the factors that appear to have contributed most to the emergence of the rights discourse. I argue that structural change in the legislative forum and the ideological change in the concept of rights altered the political atmosphere, creating the possibility of adopting rights discourse in the New Abortion Debate. However, the framing of feminist proabortion movement affected the abortion rights discourse more directly. Feminists framed women's abortion right as a right to abortion autonomy rather than what North Americans refer to as a private choice or a freedom. Under the strong influence of feminists, abortion autonomy has become the dominant perspective in the abortion rights discourse in Taiwan.

June 20, 2008 in Abortion, International, Law School, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Skyrocketing Cost of Care for Preemies

Preemie BusinessWeek: Million-Dollar Babies, by Spencer Ante:

The cost of care for preemies is sky-high—some 15 times the expense of full-term infants and rising. Is there such a thing as too young?

...Preemies are a quickly expanding class of patients in the U.S., Britain, and other advanced nations. And the costs and technical challenges of caring for them are a growing source of controversy. Nearly 13% of all babies in the U.S. are preemies, a 20% increase since 1990. A 2006 report by the National Academy of Sciences found that the 550,000 preemies born each year in the U.S. run up about $26 billion in annual costs, mostly related to care in NICUs. That represents about half of all the money hospitals spend on newborns. But the number, large as it is, may understate the bill. Norman J. Waitzman, a professor of economics at the University of Utah who worked on the National Academy report, says the study considered just the first five years of the preemies' lives. Factor in the cost of treating all of the possible lifelong disabilities and the years of lost productivity for the caregivers, and the real tab may top $50 billion, Waitzman says.

...Does this relentless push to care for ever younger infants serve the interests of the babies, their parents, or society? Critics of the trend note that about one-third of preemies suffer from severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, and blindness. A 2006 report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent British group, recommended that preemies struggling for their lives after 22 weeks of gestation should not be given intensive care.

June 19, 2008 in Bioethics, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

John McCain's Talk Not So Straight on Abortion

Mccain_1 Via the SF Chronicle, quotations from John McCain that show how his "straight talk" has swerved on whether Roe v. Wade should stand.  (He now asserts that it should be overturned.)

-- *"I'd love to see a point where (Roe vs. Wade) is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to (undergo) illegal and dangerous operations." McCain said he would support legislation banning abortions in the third trimester. - Interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 20, 1999.

-- *"After a lot of study, a lot of consultation and a lot of prayer, I came up with a position that I believe there should be an exception for rape, incest or the life of a mother...(the issue) is one of the most difficult and agonizing issues that I think all of us face, because of our belief -- yours and mine -- that life begins at conception." - reported in the New York Times, Jan. 22, 2000

-- *"John McCain believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench. '' - McCain for President website.

June 19, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion Bans, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Gloucester, MA: "Pregnancy Pact" Explains Startling Increase in Pregnant Teens

Gloucester_high TIME: Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High, by Kathleen Kingsbury:

As summer vacation begins, 17 girls at Gloucester High School are expecting babies—more than four times the number of pregnancies the 1,200-student school had last year. Some adults dismissed the statistic as a blip. Others blamed hit movies like Juno and Knocked Up for glamorizing young unwed mothers. But principal Joseph Sullivan knows at least part of the reason there's been such a spike in teen pregnancies in this Massachusetts fishing town. School officials started looking into the matter as early as October after an unusual number of girls began filing into the school clinic to find out if they were pregnant. By May, several students had returned multiple times to get pregnancy tests, and on hearing the results, "some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were," Sullivan says. All it took was a few simple questions before nearly half the expecting students, none older than 16, confessed to making a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Then the story got worse. "We found out one of the fathers is a 24-year-old homeless guy," the principal says, shaking his head.

June 19, 2008 in Contraception, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ruthann Robson on Sexual Democracy

Ruthann_robson Ruthann Robson (CUNY Law School) has posted Sexual Democracy on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Conceptualizing the relationship between sexuality and democracy requires not only an interrogation of both terms, but also an exploration of the ways in which democracy seeks to accommodate and appropriate the sexual. Recent litigation and legislation regarding same-sex relationships in South Africa casts a spotlight on the interaction between sexuality and democracy, but the illumination is partial. It is necessary to explore sexuality in a broader context, including discomfiting sexual practices, as a matter of the democratic constitutional norms of equality and dignity. Otherwise, a sentimentalized version of sexuality, with certain lesbians and gay men installed as a model minority, threaten to become the democratic standard.

June 19, 2008 in Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Obama Disarms Another Abortion Rights Foe

Obama_smile_2 More praise, this time from Doug Kmiec, for Barack Obama's meeting with religious leaders.  Top of the Ticket (LA Times): Prominent abortion foe extols Barack Obama, by Don Frederick:

Douglas Kmiec, a Justice Department honcho under two previous Republican administrations and an abortion foe who once headed Catholic University's law school, raised eyebrows within some conservative circles earlier this year when, in a posting, he endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Today, Kmiec delivers another valentine Obama's way, writing glowingly in the Chicago Tribune about a "private conversation" the candidate had recently with him, the Rev. Franklin Graham (the son of the Rev. Billy Graham) "and a diverse group of 30 or so religious leaders from Protestant, Catholic, Evangelical and other traditions."

See related post: Anti-Abortion Leader Finds Obama Is "Not a Crazy Leftist"

June 18, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Religious Refusals Extend to Many Facets of Reproductive Healthcare

Doctor_crossed_arms Wash. Post: 'Pro-Life' Drugstores Market Beliefs, by Rob Stein:

When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.

That's because the drugstore, located in a typical shopping plaza featuring a Ruby Tuesday, a Papa John's and a Kmart, will be a "pro-life pharmacy" -- meaning, among other things, that it will eschew all contraceptives.

The pharmacy is one of a small but growing number of drugstores around the country that have become the latest front in a conflict pitting patients' rights against those of health-care workers who assert a "right of conscience" to refuse to provide care or products that they find objectionable....

The pharmacies are emerging at a time when a variety of health-care workers are refusing to perform medical procedures they find objectionable. Fertility doctors have refused to inseminate gay women. Ambulance drivers have refused to transport patients for abortions. Anesthesiologists have refused to assist in sterilizations.

See also Daily Kos: "Moral refusal" extends to ambulances--and a potential fix:

In Part 2 of the miniseries which we began yesterday, we discuss how "moral refusal" clauses are increasingly going far beyond just doctors and pharmacists, and are now extending to the most basic thing we associate with healthcare--the trip in the ambulance to have emergency surgery.

Yes, you're reading this right--dominionist ambulance drivers are now refusing to take people to women's clinics just because the woman needs a medically necessary abortion.

And at the end of the post--because I never like to just bring bad news without discussing ways to fix what's broken--I present some possible solutions to the problem of "moral refusal".

(H/T: Rebecca Bratspies for the Daily Kos post)

For more on religious refusals in the reproductive rights context, see Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights (ACLU).

June 18, 2008 in Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

More on McCain v. Obama, Centrist Voters, and the Abortion Issue

Mccain Political Animal (CBS News): McCain and Abortion, by Kevin Drum:

McCAIN AND ABORTION....John McCain's reputation for cross-party moderation has been so ingrained for so long that a lot of people simply assume he holds positions he doesn't. In particular, an awful lot of centrist voters assume that McCain has fairly centrist views on abortion. So what happens when they find out that, in fact, McCain's actual position is pretty much identical to James Dobson's? A new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll of battleground states provides a clue:

Once balanced information about Obama and McCain's respective positions on choice is introduced, Obama gains 6 points overall, with his lead in battleground states expanding from a net 2 points (47-45 percent) to a net 13 points (53-40 percent).

....Despite the fact that the national focus seems to be on the economy, among pro-choice Independent women, pro-choice Republican women, and liberal to moderate Republican women, the issue of abortion produces a larger advantage for Democrats than the economy, the war in Iraq, or health care. Moreover, among these three groups critiques on McCain's anti-choice position are the strongest attacks against him, trumping attacks on the economy, the war, and special interests.

June 18, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

A Possible Explanation for Deaths Linked to Early Abortion Pill

ScienceDaily: Abortion Drug's Off-label Use May Have Led To Deaths:

Preliminary U-M studies indicate that oral use of RU-486's companion drug misoprostol is safe, but vaginal use may undermine body's immune responses

The off-label use of a drug given with RU-486 to terminate a pregnancy may be responsible for a handful of rare, fatal infections seen in women taking the drugs since 2000, a study by University of Michigan scientists suggests.

The drug misoprostol is FDA-approved to be taken by mouth along with RU-486 to end a pregnancy. But many women have received the drug vaginally as part of the two-drug combination, a method of delivery not evaluated by the FDA.

In animal and cell culture studies, the U-M researchers found that misoprostol, when given directly in the reproductive tract, suppresses key immune responses and can allow a normally non-threatening bacterium, Clostridium sordellii, to gain the upper hand and cause deadly infection. When absorbed through the stomach, however, the drug did not compromise immune defenses or cause illness....

The results provide evidence why doctors should avoid giving misoprostol vaginally and underscore the wisdom of giving it by mouth instead, says Aronoff, an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the U-M Medical School. "The findings should help make a safe procedure even safer."

June 18, 2008 in Abortion, Medical News, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Grand Juries as a Political Weapon in the Abortion Debate

Scales_of_justice NY Times: Grand Juries Become Latest Abortion Battlefield, by Monica Davey:

WICHITA, Kan. — Opponents of Dr. George Tiller and his clinic here, one of the nation’s few providers of late-term abortions, have tried many ways to stop him over three decades. They have held protests, lobbied lawmakers and complained persistently to state regulators and prosecutors. There have also been several acts of violence, including one in which Dr. Tiller was shot in both arms.

Now his opponents are using a legal tactic that some find startling and others consider inspired. They have turned to an unusual state statute, adopted in 1887, that allows ordinary citizens who gather enough signatures on a petition to demand that a grand jury investigate an alleged crime, a decision usually left to a prosecutor.

Inside a courthouse along Main Street here, 15 grand jurors have been meeting for months, convened under the statute by ordinary Sedgwick County residents to investigate whether Dr. Tiller’s clinic has illegally performed second- and third-trimester abortions. Their deliberations are scheduled to end next month.

Kansas is one of a few states that have laws that allow residents to force a grand jury investigation. Over all, the practice is seldom used, but grand juries by petition in Kansas have recently taken on new life, new targets and a host of new critics who say a law once meant to check official corruption is being twisted into a political weapon.

June 17, 2008 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Doctors in Uganda Say Abortion Should Be Made Legal

Uganda_flag Uganda: Doctors Want Abortion Made Legal, by Chris Ocowun:

PARLIAMENT should pass a law allowing induced abortion among young school girls in the war-ravaged north to reduce the high death rate of expectant mothers, medical doctors in Gulu have appealed.

"Fewer girls die of abortion in countries where it is legal compared to countries like Uganda where the practice is prohibited. Maternal mortality rate would reduce by 15% or more," said Dr. Charles Engenye, a gynaecologist of Gulu regional referral hospital.

June 17, 2008 in Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Poll: Support for Obama Crosses Party Lines When Voters Know Candidates' Abortion Positions

Mccain_obama_1 US News & World Report: NARAL Poll Shows Abortion Issue Could Push Independents and Pro-Choice Republicans to Obama, by Liz Halloran:

The poll found if voters know the candidates' stances, they choose Obama over McCain

The nation's largest abortion-rights group today released a poll of likely women voters in 12 battleground states that suggests presumed GOP presidential nominee John McCain could lose the support of significant numbers of independent and pro-choice Republican women—if they are educated about the Arizona senator's antiabortion voting record.

And that, the pollsters predicted, could help expected Democratic nominee Barack Obama win that "critical bloc" of swing voters come November.

June 17, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Barack Obama Explains the Meaning of Life

Obama_smile_2 Political Punch (ABC News blogs), by Jake Tapper:

At a town hall meeting in Kaukauna, Wisc., Thursday afternoon, amidst questions about health care and the economy, a young man said he had a question for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and Obama should "please be as intellectual or spiritual as you would like."

"Well this is a lot of pressure," Obama said to laugher.

"My question is: what does life mean to you?" the young man asked....

June 17, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Miscellaneous, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Scientific Information Has Little Effect on Opinions About Stem Cell Research

Stem_cell Science Daily: Scientific Information Largely Ignored When Forming Opinions About Stem Cell Research:

When forming attitudes about embryonic stem cell research, people are influenced by a number of things. But understanding science plays a negligible role for many people.

That's the surprising finding from a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison communications researchers who have spent the past two years studying public attitudes toward embryonic stem cell research. Reporting in the most recent issue of the International Journal of Public Opinion, the researchers say that scientific knowledge - for many citizens - has an almost negligible effect on how favorably people regard the field.

"More knowledge is good - everybody is on the same page about that. But will that knowledge necessarily help build support for the science?" says Dietram Scheufele, a UW-Madison professor of life sciences communication and one of the paper's three authors. "The data show that no, it doesn't. It does for some groups, but definitely not for others."

June 12, 2008 in Religion and Reproductive Rights, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers Shy Away from Testing New Uses for Early Abortion Pill

Pills AlterNet/Women's eNews: 'Abortion Pill' Awaits New Political Treatment, by Molly Ginty:

(WOMENSENEWS) -- With more research, it could offer new treatments for breast cancer, fibroids and endometriosis.

But since it's an abortion drug, since it weathered a congressional investigation two years ago -- and since it's in short supply -- researchers have yet to test its full potential.

That, says Amy Allina, program director of the Washington-based National Women's Health Network, is the story on mifepristone. "This drug has the potential to make women healthier in many ways," says Allina. "But the politics surrounding it have made it difficult to secure funding for more research, and scientists are shying away from studying the drug because they fear getting research protocols approved will be difficult."

June 12, 2008 in Abortion, Medical News, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Abortion Leader Finds Obama Is "Not a Crazy Leftist"

Obama RH Reality Check: Obama "More Centrist" on Abortion Says "Pro-Life" Leader, by Scott Swenson:

Sen. Barack Obama met yesterday with several faith leaders, from a variety of political perspectives, in a private closed door meeting. Among the attendees, Rev. Franklin Graham, whose presence was deemed significant by CBN reporter David Brody, since Graham has yet to meet with McCain. Issues discussed included the senator's support for abortion rights and gay rights.

Steve Strang, the founder of Charisma Magazine, attended and wrote this about the private meeting on his blog, The Strang Report, describing Obama's response to his question on abortion as being "more centrist than expected."

Of course, Strang ultimately disagrees with Obama's position on abortion, but he believes that Obama "won over the loyalties of many."  Strang reports that Obama was "warm and personable" and seemed surprised to find that he was not a "crazy leftist."  I find this both heartening and sad: heartening that Obama made Strang reconsider his reliance upon stereotypes (at least as applied to Obama), but sad to see how seriously people like Strang seem to take the right-wing media's caricatures.  Strang reports that, initially, he didn't even want to attend "[s]ince I am opposed to the leftist political stands of the Democratic Party and of Obama specifically."

June 12, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

MI: Governor to Veto Abortion Procedure Ban

Granholm Associated Press: Granholm to veto ban on an abortion procedure:

LANSING -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm says she will veto a proposed ban on a late-term procedure that opponents call partial-birth abortion.

The legislation is headed to the Democratic governor after the state Senate finished passing it today. The bill is designed to mirror a federal ban that was ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

June 12, 2008 in Abortion Bans, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rare pregnancy of weedy sea dragon at Georgia aquarium

Weedy_sea_dragon Yes, this blog usually focuses on human reproduction.  But I do love the weedy sea dragon.  Plus, isn't it cool that male sea dragons (and seahorses) are the ones who give birth? 

Associated Press: Rare pregnancy of weedy sea dragon at US aquarium:

ATLANTA: The Georgia Aquarium is celebrating a rare occurrence: a weedy sea dragon at the aquarium is pregnant.

It is only the third time ever that such a creature has been pregnant at a U.S. aquarium, aquarium officials said.

Sea dragons are one of the very few species — along with sea horses and pipe fish — in which the male carries the eggs, said Kerry Gladish, a biologist at the aquarium.

June 12, 2008 in Miscellaneous, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)