Thursday, July 31, 2008

More on Proposed Bush Admin. Reg Defining Birth Control Pill as Abortion

Wall St. Journal: Treating the Pill as Abortion,  Draft Regulation Stirs Debate, by Stephanie Simon:

Set aside the fraught question of when human life begins. The new debate: When does pregnancy begin?

The Bush Administration has ignited a furor with a proposed definition of pregnancy that has the effect of classifying some of the most widely used methods of contraception as abortion.

A draft regulation, still being revised and debated, treats most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices as abortion because they can work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. The regulation considers that destroying "the life of a human being."

July 31, 2008 in Abortion, Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pre-Pregnancy Diabetes Linked to Higher Risk of Birth Defects

US News & World Report/HealthDay News: Pre-Pregnancy Diabetes Boosts Risk for Birth Defects:

Caduceus_2 Women who develop diabetes before they become pregnant are three to four times more likely than non-diabetic women to have a baby with at least one birth defect, says a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

This is the first study to identify the wide range of birth defects -- such as heart defects, brain and spine defects, oral clefts, limb deficiencies, and defects of the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract -- associated with pre-pregnancy diagnoses of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

July 30, 2008 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Times Magazine Photo Essay Examines the Young Women of Yearning for Zion Ranch, The Texas Polygamous Religious Sect

NY Times: Children of God, by Sarah Corbett:

On a humid Wednesday in late June, as she waited to be summoned by a grand jury, 16-year-old Teresa Jeffs hitched up her navy blue prairie dress and hoisted herself into the crooked arms of a live oak tree that sits in front of the Schleicher County Courthouse in Eldorado, Tex. For a few minutes, she was not — as has been speculated about many of the young women of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or F.L.D.S. — a possible child bride, or a sexual-abuse victim, or a member of an out-of-touch, polygamous religious sect. She was just a kid in a tree, perched serenely above the heads of all the lawyers, reporters and sheriff’s deputies — a moon-faced girl with an auburn coxcomb of hair and a mischievous grin.

We understand so little about the view from that tree, about what the world known simply as “outside” looks like to someone like Teresa Jeffs, who was among more than 400 minors forcibly removed from the Yearning for Zion Ranch, which belongs to the F.L.D.S., in early April.

July 30, 2008 in Culture, In the Media, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Teenagers and Children, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Forced Prostitution

Via Equality Now:

Women's Action 29.2: Iran: Kobra Najjar Faces Imminent Execution by Stoning for Prostitution

Woman Equality Now is urgently concerned about Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery who lost her final appeal for amnesty. Iranian women’s rights activists working on her case report that Kobra has exhausted all domestic legal remedies and that her execution by stoning could happen any time.

Kobra is a victim of domestic violence who was forced into prostitution by her abusive husband in order to support his heroine addiction. He was murdered by one of Kobra’s “clients” who sympathized with her plight. Kobra has already served 8 years in prison as an accessory to her husband’s murder. The man who murdered her husband also served 8 years in prison and is now free after paying blood money and undergoing 100 lashes, while Kobra faces imminent stoning to death for adultery - the prostitution her husband forced upon her.

Click here to take action.

July 29, 2008 in Culture, International, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ruthann Robson Reviews Nancy Polikoff's New Book on Marriage

Wellesley Center for Women: Families of Affinity, by Ruthann Robson (CUNY Law School) (reviewing Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under The Law, by Nancy Polikoff):

Book The same-sex marriage debate is actually two debates. The more well-known version is the contest between those who seek to “defend” the heterosexual institution of marriage and those who argue that same-sex couples should have equal access to the legal status of marriage. Less publicized is the dispute within LGBT communities themselves, between those who believe marriage is a civil right necessary to the achievement of equality and those who insist that it’s a hopelessly heterosexual and patriarchal institution that should be abolished rather than assimilated into.

Nancy Polikoff, a professor of law at American University College of Law and long-time legal activist on behalf of lesbian mothers, enters this fray seeking to resolve and reframe both debates.

July 29, 2008 in Culture, In the Media, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fourth Circuit Accepts En Banc Review of Virginia "Partial-Birth Abortion" Ban

Via How Appealing: "Federal appeals court to review Va. abortion ban":

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a news update that begins, "The full 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rehear a challenge to Virginia's ban on a late-term abortion procedure. On two occasions a three-judge panel of the same court ruled 2-1 that the challenge was successful -- that the Virginia ban on what opponents call 'partial-birth abortion' was unconstitutional."

The Associated Press reports that "Full court will consider Virginia ban on 'partial-birth abortion.'"

And at "SCOTUSblog," Lyle Denniston has a post titled "A new test of a 'partial-birth' abortion ban."

My earlier coverage of the Fourth Circuit's most recent three-judge panel ruling in the case appears here, here, and here.

July 28, 2008 in Abortion Bans, Gonzales v. Carhart, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion and the 2008 Presidential Election

Patchwork Nation blog (Christian Science Monitor): On Abortion Issue, Obama may have an edge, by Dante Chinni:

Vote Abortion, long a divisive issue in American politics, has not played a large role in the 2008 presidential campaign up to now. Neither candidate has been eager to promote it.

But the issue isn’t going away. There are voters for whom abortion will always be a crucial issue. At some point – during the party platform discussions or the debates – the candidates will field questions on where they stand...

The 11 community types in Patchwork Nation were analyzed using questions about abortion from a 2004 Annenberg survey – the latest county-by-county data available on the topic. The analysis found that most people seem to be opposed to more restrictions on abortion – particularly voters in battleground communities.

July 28, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pregnancy Motivates Many Women to Quit Smoking

USA Today: Pregnancy can motivate smokers to kick habit, by Liz Szabo:


Ashley Adams had no trouble quitting smoking during her pregnancy.

Morning sickness and dry heaves made her too nauseated to crave cigarettes. And seeing pictures of low-birth-weight babies at a health clinic made her determined to protect her child.

"Those pictures just broke my heart," says Adams, 22, of Shawnee, Okla., whose first child was born in 2006. "I said, 'I'm not going to put my kid through that.' "

Adams quit cold turkey, becoming part of the 45% of pregnant smokers who give up cigarettes.

July 28, 2008 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scott Gerber on Chief Justice John Roberts

Wall St. Journal: Roberts Can Do Better Than Consensus, by Scott Gerber (Ohio Northern Univ. College of Law):

Cj_john_roberts Now that John Roberts has completed his third term as chief justice, it's appropriate to take stock of how he's doing. Most press coverage has been favorable. But is he shaping up to be the next "great chief justice," à la John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes and Earl Warren?

Justice Roberts committed himself early on to two major objectives: achieving more unanimity on the Supreme Court, and persuading Congress to raise judicial pay. Significantly, he publicly disclaimed any interest in moving the law in a favored direction. In a much-quoted line from his confirmation hearing, he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that judges are "umpires" whose job it is to "call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat."

July 27, 2008 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on the 40th Anniversary of the Catholic Church's Contraception Ban

Chicago Tribune: Contraception ban remains bitter pill, by Robert McClory (Northwestern University; former Catholic priest):

Vatican Forty years ago last week, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae, condemning the birth control pill and all other forms of artificial contraception.

So, four decades later: Did Paul get it right or wrong?

Right, say the encyclical's throng of proponents (just Google Humanae Vitae and scroll on forever). The pope predicted a lowering of moral standards, a rise in infidelity and promiscuity, a lessening of respect for women and government-enforced limitations on population. All these things have come to pass, and the pope's supporters see contraception at the center of them all.

Wrong, say the numbers who have left the church since 1968 (so that one in every 10 Americans is now a former Catholic, according to a Pew survey this year) and the majority of believers (more than 75 percent, according to the 2005 Catholic Identity Study) who remain in the church yet reject the encyclical. The proclamation was, they insist, a disaster.

See also:

NY Times: The Pope vs. the Pill, by John L. Allen, Jr.
BBC News: Catholics 'ignore rules on sex'

July 27, 2008 in Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ethical Concerns Raised by 70-Year-Old Woman's Birthing of Twins Via IVF

MSNBC: New IVF dilemmas make old fears seem quaint, by Arthur Caplan:

Omkari Panwar has given new meaning to the idea that 70 is the new 60. Or perhaps 70 is the new 30?

Earlier this month, the 70-year-old mother of two daughters and grandmother to five gave birth via Cesarean section to twins, a boy and girl, at a hospital in India’s Uttar Pradesh state after undergoing infertility treatment. If her age can be verified — she has no birth certificate — she would become the oldest woman ever to give birth.

Dr. Caplan discusses the separate ethical concerns raised by the birth -- the parents' age (the father is in his mid-70s) as well as their reasons for seeking IVF: to have a boy (they already had two daughters).  The couple got their boy... but they got a girl too.  I'm not sure I'd like to be her.

H/T: Kimberly Mutcherson

July 25, 2008 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Choice Student Group Sues Wayne State Univ. Over Free Speech Rights

Detroit Free Press: Anti-abortion group sues WSU:

Gavel_flag An anti-abortion student group at Wayne State University has sued WSU and its student government, claiming the group was denied free speech rights when it tried to organize an event.

According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, WSU bars the use of student activity fees for political advocacy or for events that "advance religion." Student Council helps develop that policy, according to the lawsuit.

July 25, 2008 in Abortion, In the Courts, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Former Mass. Doctor Pleads Not Guilty in Abortion Fatality Case

Boston Globe: Ex-doctor enters plea in abortion fatality:

Scales_of_justice BARNSTABLE - A former Cape Cod doctor indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter after a woman he performed an abortion on died has pleaded not guilty.


Rapin Osathanondh was arraigned yesterday in Barnstable Superior Court and released on personal recognizance after surrendering his passport.

Osathanondh, 65, was indicted last week in the death of Laura Hope Smith, 22, of Sandwich.

Prosecutors say Smith's heart stopped last September while she was under anesthesia at Osathanondh's Hyannis office. They allege willful, reckless conduct by the former doctor.

July 25, 2008 in Abortion, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Catholic Groups Urge Pope to Lift Ban on Contraception

Pope Reuters UK: Catholic groups ask pope to end contraception ban, by Philip Pullella:

ROME (Reuters) - More than 50 dissident Catholic groups published an unusually frank open letter to Pope Benedict on Friday saying the Church's ban on contraception had been "catastrophic" and urging him to lift it.


The letter was published as a paid half-page advertisement in Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest newspaper, on the 40th anniversary of the late Pope Paul VI's controversial encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which enshrined the ban.

July 25, 2008 in Contraception, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Understanding Female Sexuality: Sue Katz Reviews Gina Ogden's "Return of Desire"

AlterNet: "Return of Desire": Fighting Myths About Female Sexuality, by Sue Katz:

Female_symbol The Return of Desire is the second of three books that Dr. Gina Ogden -- sex therapist, author and (disclosure) my admired colleague -- bases on her large survey of what women (and some men) really feel about sex. Following the highly respected The Heart and Soul of Sex, this time she fearlessly confronts head-on the profit-driven medicalization of women's sexuality, employing her unique holistic, positive approach to better understand the rich complexity of desire and sex.

July 24, 2008 in Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Swedish Study Shows Improvement in Seniors' Sex Lives

NY Times: More Sex for Today’s Seniors, by Tara Parker-Pope:

Seniors_in_love The sex lives of senior citizens have improved markedly in the past three decades, according to a new study.

The data, published in The British Medical Journal, have been collected since the 1970s from 1,500 Swedish adults, all of whom were 70 years old at the time of the interview. Although the report is from Sweden, it mirrors recent research in the United States that shows many people continue to have active sex lives well into old age.

But the Swedish data are notable in that they illuminate how people’s sex lives and attitudes have changed over time. Today’s seniors report that they are having sex far more often and have more positive feelings associated with sex than their counterparts just 30 years ago.

July 24, 2008 in Culture, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bush Administration's Proposed Regs Threaten Access to Birth Control

Bc_pillsUS News & World Report: A Government Threat to Birth Control, by Deborah Kotz:

A new set of health laws that could be proposed by the government sometime in the next few weeks has women's health activists steaming. If the laws are implemented, they claim, women will have a harder time getting access to contraception.

The legislation, a draft of which was leaked last week to the New York Times, stokes the debate over when human life begins by taking the position that birth control that prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg actually results in abortion. It would prohibit federally funded medical facilities—including teaching hospitals and Planned Parenthood clinics—from refusing to hire doctors who don't want to dispense birth control pills and other types of contraception that may cause the expulsion of a fertilized egg. (It's already illegal to discriminate against doctors who refuse to perform abortions.) The new laws would also override state laws that require hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims and those that require employers to provide contraceptives along with other prescriptions.

See also: The Seattle Times: An Anti-Abortion Ploy.

July 24, 2008 in Abortion, Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recent Pop-Culture Obsession with Teen Pregnancy Fails to Show the "Before or After"

Newsweek: Teen Pregnancy, Hollywood Style, by Sarah Kliff:

Crying_baby Once taboo, pregnant teenagers are popping up more frequently on TV, in movies and on magazine covers. The problem? This latest pop-culture coverage doesn't show what comes before or after.

It could have been Immaculate Conception. In the premiere episode of the new drama "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," 15-year-old Amy comes home from band practice and is shocked--the pregnancy test is positive! That two-second tryst at band camp, as she describes it to her friends, "was definitely not like what you see in the movies." They share the same confusion: how did a good girl end up in this situation? The obvious answer (Amy had unprotected sex) never quite surfaces; it's brushed off in a whirlwind of mystification. By the end of the episode, band-camp guy has taken a backseat to Amy's new love interest. As the plot pushes forward, it never once looks back at whether Amy considered contraceptives or talked to her parents about condoms. Amy is pregnant, and that is where this story starts.

July 24, 2008 in Culture, In the Media, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New York Times Magazine Examines 30 Years of IVF

New York Times: In Vitro We Trust, by Peggy Orenstein:

Ivf Louise Brown turns 30 on Friday. These days, her name elicits little more than a mystified head shake. Who was she again? Let me refresh your memory: Little Louise was the world’s first “test-tube baby,” what we now refer to as an I.V.F. kid, or simply “the twins down the block.”

Brown’s life today is as unremarkable as the circumstances of her conception have become: she’s worked as an administrative assistant in Bristol, England, and is married with a naturally conceived toddler of her own. It’s hard to imagine that she begat one of the major revolutions of the 20th century: since her debut, more than three million babies have been born worldwide using I.V.F. or other reproductive technologies.

July 23, 2008 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Culture, Fertility, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Australians Protest Pope's Position on Birth Control

The Canberra Times: Condoms All Round as Annoying Law Dashed, by Malcom Brown:

Condoms RACHEL EVANS and Amber Pike handed out condoms on the steps of Sydney's Federal Court yesterday - flushed with a ruling that struck out a World Youth Day law that made it a crime to annoy participants in the Catholic event.

The NoToPope Coalition protesters object to several Catholic moral teachings and Ms Evans - emboldened by the court triumph - immediately went and handed more condoms to Catholic pilgrims posing for photographs outside a nearby church.

July 23, 2008 in Contraception, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)