Friday, August 29, 2008
Bloomberg.com: Palin Pick Could Be `Home Run' or `Bust' for McCain in Campaign, by Heidi Przybyla:
John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate is designed to attract disaffected supporters of Hillary Clinton and soothe social conservatives. It may also undercut McCain's chief criticism of Democratic rival Barack Obama....
Palin opposes abortion rights and supports gun ownership, two core Republican issues....
Abortion foes have been skittish about McCain, who supports stem-cell research and has said he wants to broaden the party's plank on abortion to include exceptions in cases of rape and when the life of the mother is at risk.
Palin is a member of Feminists for Life, a group that works to make health-care and child-care resources available to ``pregnant or parenting students,'' according to the group's Web site.
MSNBC: Roe v. Wade makes campaign comeback, by Tom Curry:
DENVER - The refrain in many of the Democratic leaders’ responses to Sen. John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate: Roe v. Wade, Roe v. Wade.
The 1973 Supreme Court decision nationalizing a woman’s right to get an abortion was a top-of-mind issue for top Democrats.
Voters, beware, the Democrats' message seemed to be: Palin is not in favor of abortion rights.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
JURIST: District court upholds Massachusetts law mandating abortion protester 'buffer zone', by Joe Shaulis:
District Judge Joseph Tauro [official profile] held [PDF text] Friday that a Massachusetts statute [text] establishing a 35-foot buffer zone outside facilities which perform abortions [JURIST news archive] does not violate protesters' constitutional rights. Tauro found that the law does not unconstitutionally burden First Amendment rights or the guarantees of equal protection or due process....
NY Times: Mexico Court Is Set to Uphold Legalized Abortion in Capital, by Elisabeth Malkin:
MEXICO CITY — A majority of Supreme Court justices have said Mexico City’s law legalizing abortion does not violate the Constitution, making it likely that the court will uphold the controversial measure.
Since deliberations began this week, 8 of the 11 justices spoke in support of the law.
Its passage last year was considered historic in this Catholic country and in a region where almost all countries severely restrict abortion or ban it.
The law allows unrestricted abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
New York Times: Casey, an Abortion Opponent, Praises Obama, by John M. Broder:
Sixteen years after his father was denied a speaking part at a Democratic convention because his anti-abortion views led him to oppose Bill Clinton’s candidacy, Senator Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania told the convention Tuesday night that Senator Barack Obama could bring together supporters and opponents of abortion rights.
Mr. Casey is, like his father, former Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania, a Roman Catholic who opposes abortion. He was invited to speak as part of a broad effort by the Obama campaign to reach out to religious voters and anti-abortion Democrats and independents...
But he also addressed the abortion question head on. “Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion,” Mr. Casey said. “But the fact that I’m speaking here tonight is testament to Barack’s ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him.”
“I know Barack Obama,” Mr. Casey continued. “And I believe that as president, he’ll pursue the common good by seeking common ground, rather than trying to divide us.”
Austin American-Statesman: Twenty years after her mother's star turn, Cecile Richards speaks to Democrats, by W. Gardner Selby:
Richards, who is the president of Planned Parenthood, lacked the late Gov. Ann Richards' memorable drawl, and she didn't try to match her mother's taut wit — though the convention's speechwriting team gave her a joke referring to President Bush....
She cast Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as an enemy of women's health care. She said he's voted 125 times on the wrong side of health issues, including votes against family planning funding and comprehensive sex education.
Monday, August 25, 2008
NY Times: Mexico City Struggles With Law on Abortion, by Elisabeth Malkin & Nacha Cattan:
When Mexico City’s government made abortion legal last year, it also set out to make it available to any woman who asked for one. That includes the city’s poorest, who for years resorted to illegal clinics and midwives as wealthy women visited private doctors willing to quietly end unwanted pregnancies.
But helping poor women gain equal access to the procedure has turned out to be almost as complicated as passing the law, a watershed event in this Catholic country and in a region where almost all countries severely restrict abortions.
Since the city’s legislature voted for the law in April 2007, some 85 percent of the gynecologists in the city’s public hospitals have declared themselves conscientious objectors. And women complain that even at those hospitals that perform abortions, staff members are often hostile, demeaning them and throwing up bureaucratic hurdles.
Pace Law Review: Proposals Due September 25, 2008
The editors of Pace Law Review invite proposals from scholars, researchers, practitioners and professionals for contributions to a special book review issue to be published in Winter 2008. We seek proposals for reviews of any book published in 2008, 2007 or 2006 that contributes to the understanding of women¹s experiences with the law.
Pace Law School has a longstanding commitment to both the study of women and the law and the development of women as lawyers and leaders. The Pace Women¹s Justice Center was founded in 1991 as the first academic legal center in the country devoted to training attorneys and others in the community about domestic violence issues. Pace is a vibrant and intellectual community that contains several nationally-recognized scholars of women¹s, children¹s and LGBT rights.
A law review volume devoted to books concerning women and the law promotes an ongoing discourse on women and the law, justice and feminist jurisprudence.
Please submit book review proposals of no more than 500 words by attachment to email@example.com by September 25, 2008. Proposals should include:
(a) the intended reviewer¹s name, title, institutional affiliation and contact information;
(b) the title and publication date of the book proposed for review;
(c) a description of the importance of the book to the general topic; and
(d) any other information relevant to the book or proposed review (e.g., the proposed reviewer¹s expertise or any relationship with the author).
Authors are welcome, but not required, to submit a CV as well. We expect to make publication offers by October 1, 2008.
Complete manuscripts from authors of accepted proposals will be due November 1, 2008. Completed book reviews should not exceed 8,500 words.
Friday, August 22, 2008
[A]n unsigned — and previously unattributed — 1990 article unearthed by Politico offers a glimpse at Obama's views on abortion policy and the law during his student days....
The six-page summary, tucked into the third volume of the year's Harvard Law Review, considers the charged, if peripheral, question of whether fetuses should be able to file lawsuits against their mothers. Obama's answer, like most courts': No.
Obama agreed with the Illinois Supreme Court that such lawsuits are bad public policy because they both threaten women's autonomy and fail to promote fetal health. He wrote:
The case highlights the unsuitability of fetal-maternal tort suits as vehicles for promoting fetal health; it also indicates the dangers such causes of action present to women's autonomy, and the need for a constitutional framework to constrain future attempts to expand "fetal rights."
...Expanded access to prenatal education and heath care facilities will far more likely serve the very real state interest in preventing increasing numbers of children from being born in to lives of pain and despair.
You can read the whole case comment via a link on the Tax Prof Blog.
Bush Admin. Proposes Onerous Funding Restrictions That Would Protect Religious Refusals by Health Care Providers
Wash. Post: Protections Set for Antiabortion Health Workers, by Rob Stein:
The Bush administration yesterday announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.
The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors' offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds....
The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways. Women's health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
A number of news stories this week have raised questions about Gardasil, Merck's HPV vaccine, including its cost, effectiveness, and the marketing campaign promoting the vaccine. Brian Lehrer examined the issue on the Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC) this morning; you can download the podcast here.
New York Times: Drug Makers' Push Leads to Cancer Vaccines' Fast Rise, by Elisabeth Rosenthal:
In two years, cervical cancer has gone from obscure killer confined mostly to poor nations to the West’s disease of the moment...
One of the vaccines, Gardasil, from Merck, is made available to the poorest girls in the country, up to age 18, at a potential cost to the United States government of more than $1 billion; proposals to mandate the vaccine for girls in middle schools have been offered in 24 states, and one will take effect in Virginia this fall. Even the normally stingy British National Health Service will start giving the other vaccine — Cervarix, from GlaxoSmithKline — to all 12-year-old girls at school this September.
The lightning-fast transition from newly minted vaccine to must-have injection in the United States and Europe represents a triumph of what the manufacturers call education and their critics call marketing. The vaccines, which offer some protection against infection from sexually transmitted viruses, are far more expensive than earlier vaccines against other diseases — Gardasil’s list price is $360 for the three-dose series, and the total cost is typically $400 to nearly $1,000 with markup and office visits (and often only partially covered by health insurance).
NY Times: Researchers Question Wide Use of HPV Vaccines, by Elizabeth Rosenthal
Newsweek: The Fast Track, by Karen Springen
Wash. Post/HealthDay: Cervical Cancer Vaccine Worth the Cost: Study, by Amanda Gardner
Wall St. Journal Health Blog: Is Merck’s Gardasil Vaccine Worth the Money?, by Jacob Goldstein
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Wash. Post: Candidates' Abortion Views Not So Simple, by Jonathan Weisman:
The narrative of the presidential campaign appeared to be set on the issue of abortion: Sen. Barack Obama was the abortion-rights candidate who was reaching out to foes, seeking common ground and making inroads. Sen. John McCain was the abortion opponent whose reticence about faith and whose battles on campaign finance laws drew suspect glances from would-be supporters.
Via PaperTrail (The Center for Public Integrity):
A new anti-abortion group has its sights set beyond just running ads and launching viral Internet attacks on Barack Obama. The group wants to overturn the federal election law that could rein in not only its own activities but those of any so-called issue advocacy groups.
Behind the effort is one James Bopp, a Terre Haute, Indiana, lawyer who’s spearheaded a string of challenges to state and federal campaign finance laws as well as efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade. On July 30, Bopp filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission on behalf of a new group, The Real Truth About Obama, which had filed papers with the IRS just a day earlier, registering as a nonprofit political advocacy group....
Bopp supported Mitt Romney in the Republican primary and, ironically, has vigorously litigated for years to overturn the campaign finance law authored by the candidate who bested Romney in the primaries, John McCain. Bopp now says he is a McCain supporter.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Calif. Supreme Court Rules Doctors Cannot Deny Fertility Treatments Due to Patient's Sexual Orientation
Three months after approving same-sex marriage, the California Supreme Court gave gay rights another boost Monday by unanimously ruling that doctors can't invoke religion to refuse treating homosexual patients (pdf)....
Monday's case began in 2001 when Oceanside, Calif., lesbian Guadalupe Benitez sued Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton, who claimed their Christian faith prevented them from providing intrauterine insemination in some circumstances. The doctors, who worked at the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, Calif., argued that they couldn't provide fertility treatments to Benitez because she wasn't married, but Benitez said they refused because of her sexual orientation.
H/T: Amy Leipziger
Monday, August 18, 2008
The discredited claim that abortion causes mental trauma (see previous post) is one of the arguments being used to bolster a ballot initiative that will go before South Dakota voters this fall. The proposed measure would ban all abortions except in cases of rape or incest or where the abortion would cause the woman's death or grave physical harm. Here's a paragraph from an anti-choice strategy memo supporting the measure (emphasis added):
The 2005 HB 1233 [South Dakota] Task Force Bill has resulted in powerful and factually accurate findings concerning how abortion has harmed the rights, interests and health of women. It is a second tool, and taken together, the Informed Consent Law, the litigation and its defense, and the TASK FORCE REPORT form a solid foundation for the proposed Abortion Bill.
The initiative itself states that "abortion subjects the pregnant woman to significant psychological and physical health risks." (The full text is available here.)
See also Medical News Today: Opponents Of South Dakota Abortion Ban Launch Campaign:
Opponents of a South Dakota abortion ban ballot proposal launched a national campaign Tuesday that aims to defeat the measure, the AP/Yankton Press and Dakotan reports (Jalonick, AP/Yankton Press and Dakotan, 8/13). The proposal, which will be on the state's ballot in November, would ban abortions except in cases of rape or incest, to save a woman's life or a "substantial and irreversible" health risk of impairment to "a major bodily organ or system" (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/12).
Yet again, the allegation that abortions cause women mental trauma has been discredited. But that's not going to stop anti-choice advocates from pressing the claim, nor from trying to make women feel so guilty about abortion that the mental trauma assertion becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Telegraph.co.uk: Abortion does not increase risk of mental health problems, says study, by Rebecca Smith:
The finding is a blow to anti-abortionists who want to restrict access to terminations or lower the age limit at which it can normally be performed.
One of the key arguments against abortion is that the mental health of the women suffers later in life.
But the American Psychological Association found 'no credible evidence' that an abortion of an unwanted pregnancy causes mental health problems.
The organisation said research on the subject had failed to differentiate between abortions of wanted and unwanted pregnancies or did not account for other factors such as violence and poverty which make both unwanted pregnancies and mental health problems more likely.
See also MedPageToday: Abortion Not a Risk Factor for Mental Health Problems, by Peggy Peck.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
USA Today: Religion, ethics experts comment on forum, by Cathy Lynn Grossman:
Sen. Barack Obama, frequently leaning on Bible passages, and Sen. John McCain, sharply delineating his opposition to abortion, sought to burnish their Christian credentials with voters Saturday night in a civil forum at a California mega church.
The presidential candidates took very different approaches to the same set of questions by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the mega-selling Bible study book, The Purpose-Driven Life.
Both candidates were asked when a "baby" first acquires "human rights." Obama answered that he supports Roe v. Wade, but added that "On this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception ... and you are consistent, then I can't argue with you on that. What I can do is say, are there ways we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies?" McCain said he believes that human rights attach "upon conception," something that cannot be squared with his support for rape and incest exceptions or for stem cell research (although Warren gave him a pass on those inconsistencies). For coverage on the candidates' comments on abortion, see: McCain and Obama try to navigate the politics of abortion (LA Times); Sharing stage, Obama and McCain split on abortion (AP). CNN Politics has a link to a video of the forum.
Warren also asked the candidates which Supreme Court Justices they would not have nominated. Obama named Clarence Thomas, while McCain listed all four of the Court's most liberal Justices. CNN Politics.com: Obama, McCain talk issues at pastor's forum:
"I don't think [Thomas] was a strong enough jurist or a legal thinker at the time for that. I profoundly disagree with his interpretation" of the Constitution, [Obama] said.
McCain said he would have never nominated Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens.
"This nomination should be based on the criteria on a proven record of strictly adhering to the Constitution and not legislating from the bench," McCain added.
The Arizona senator said he was "proud" of President Bush for nominating conservative Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the court.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
NY Times, Domestic Disturbances: Walking the Abortion Plank, by Judith Warner:
“Are Democrats Now Pro-Life?” asked ABC News this week, in an online story that pretty much summed up the buzz surrounding the party’s new official platform.
This year’s language on abortion, adopted last weekend, speaks of how “health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.” It declares, “The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child,” and was spun all week as an olive branch to evangelicals, a significant departure from past policy, and a victory for the opponents of abortion rights....
A lot of anti-abortion activists — including the leadership of the group Democrats for Life, which has long tried to get their party to soften its stand on reproductive rights – weren’t buying it. “It would be really tragic if some young evangelicals unaware of history of civics would vote for a candidate that will guarantee that we will have abortion on demand for another 30 years,” Gary Bauer, president of American Values, told Bloomberg News.
And they were right. There is nothing new in the Democratic position....
Via Martín Hevia (Escuela de Derecho, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella) and Mercedes Cavallo (LLM Candidate and Sexual and Reproductive Health Law Scholar, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, 2008-2009):
On June 4, 2008, the Argentine Criminal Division VI of the Criminal Federal Chamber passed a sentence named “Luque” on professional secrecy of doctors in abortion cases. In a nutshell, the decision held that if a medical professional in the practice of his or her profession reports an abortion, no criminal process can be initiated against a woman who caused her own abortion or allowed someone else to cause it.
The decision sheds light on a debated issue in Argentine law. Every time an Argentine doctor has to assist a woman with an abortion, a legal dilemma arises. The dilemma comes from the conflict between two articles in the criminal code. Art. 156 protects professional secrecy - unless there is a “fair cause” that would justify violation of secrecy. In turn, Art. 277 punishes government employees who find out about a crime and do not report it.
The legal debate can be traced back to 1966, when the Criminal Federal Chamber ruled in “Natividad Frías” that if a medical professional assists a woman who has had an abortion, the report of the crime does not implicate the woman, but it does implicate the perpetrators, co-perpetrators, instigators and accessories. “Natividad Frías” was a “plenary” decision – that is, a joint decision by the different divisions that aims at unifying the Chamber’s understanding of an issue of law, so that the plenary decision works as a legal precedent for future cases heard by lower courts and the Chamber at stake.
William Mitchell Law Review, Vol. 35, Issue II (Winter 2008-2009):
The William Mitchell Law Review is proud to dedicate a portion of its second issue to Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Law in its upcoming Volume 35 (Winter 2008-2009). We are currently seeking papers that examine current issues and recent developments in this important area of law and medicine. Submissions may either take the form of shorter commentaries or longer law review articles. We are also accepting proposals for submissions at this time. All articles should be received by October 15th, 2008 in order to be eligible for publication.
The William Mitchell Law Review is highly regarded both regionally and nationally. Our Law Review recently ranked twenty-second in citations by judges and ranked fifty-seventh in citations by other law journals, culminating in an overall ranking of seventieth. Over the years, the William Mitchell Law Review has featured the works of various scholars and practitioners such as Congressman Tim Penny, and former Vice President Walter Mondale. The William Mitchell Law Review has also published nationally known legal experts ranging from Philip Bruner, to Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Byron White, and Harry Blackmun. Now, we would like to invite you to join us to publish in our upcoming volume.
Please direct inquiries to Executive Editor Leah Boomsma at
Please send submissions to
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
NY Times: Principal Who Discussed Pregnancy Pact Resigns, by Katie Zezima:
The principal of the public high school in Gloucester, Mass., resigned Tuesday, two months after telling a reporter that a group of girls at the school made a pact to become pregnant and raise their babies together.
In June, Time Magazine reported that the principal, Joseph Sullivan, said at least half of the 18 girls who became pregnant during the school year did so as part of an agreement.