Friday, September 12, 2008

McCain Faces Tough Questions on Abortion on "The View"

Reuters: McCain faces tough questions on abortion on U.S. TV, by Jason Szep:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain courted female voters on Friday with appearances on TV shows popular with women, but prompted boos from a studio audience while stressing opposition to abortion.

In reply to a question on ABC television talk show "The View," McCain told the five women hosts and its live studio audience he believed the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of abortion 35 years ago was a mistake.

September 12, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, In the Media, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

McCain Ad Supports Stem Cell Research But Palin Opposes It

The Trail (Wash. Post): McCain Radio Spot Trumpets Stem Cell Policy Palin Opposed, by Robert Barnes:

Mccain_1 Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign today released a radio ad that four times trumpeted his support for stem cell research but never mentioned that his vice presidential pick opposes it.

The ad, which the campaign said is running in "key states,'' says that the "original mavericks'' will work with congressional allies to improve America's health and mentions the use of stem cell research to, among other things, "help free families from the fear and devastation of illness (the full text is below).

But, unless she has changed her opinion, McCain's running mate opposes stem cell research because of her opposition to abortion, which she condemns even in the cases of rape or incest.

See also: USA Today: Advocates worry McCain support for embryonic research may waver.


September 12, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Politics, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACS Releases Issue Brief on Sex Stereotypes in Abstinence-Only Education Programs

Acs The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy has released Lesson One:  Your Gender is Your Destiny — The Constitutionality of Teaching Sex Stereotypes  in Abstinence-Only Programs, by Bonnie Scott Jones and Michelle Movahed.  Here is the summary:

In this Issue Brief, Jones and Movahed describe and analyze an aspect of abstinence-only sex education programs taught in U.S. schools that has been little noticed: their reliance on and perpetuation of gender stereotypes. The authors assert that numerous other flaws in these programs have been documented—showing, for example, that they are ineffective, give students misinformation, and propagate religious values—but that the teaching of stereotypes about boys and girls in these programs also deserves attention because of its harmful effects. For example, according to Jones and Movahed, some abstinence-only curricula teach that there are inherent differences between boys’ and girls’ emotional makeup, relationships and sexual behavior, and these curricula thereby place pressure on adolescents to conform themselves to these stereotypes and do harm to their psychological well-being and sexual behavior. Against this backdrop, the authors lay out a detailed argument that although the Supreme Court has not yet explicitly addressed the constitutionality of government-sponsored teaching of gender stereotypes, the Court’s sex discrimination precedents readily support the conclusion that such teachings run afoul of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The authors conclude by offering suggested reforms for policymakers and educators. First, they urge that legislators cease funding abstinence-only programs in favor of non-discriminatory, comprehensive sex education programs. Failing that, they argue, the teaching of sex stereotypes in school programs that receive public funding should be expressly prohibited, and educators should take responsibility for ensuring that their curricula do not adopt or perpetuate sex stereotypes. These steps are needed, they contend, to “prevent further violation of our children’s right to a public education free of the lesson that their gender is their destiny.”

September 12, 2008 in Sexuality Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Presidential Race Addresses Stem Cell Research

NY Times: Back and Forth on Stem-Cell Research Energizes Race, by Larry Rohter:

Stem_cell_2 First abortion, now embryonic stem-cell research. An issue that energizes social conservatives has once again been thrust into the presidential campaign, after Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, attacked Republicans on Tuesday for rejecting President Bush’s limited support for using human embryonic cell lines to develop medical therapies.

“I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents” who face “the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect,” Mr. Biden said at a campaign stop in Columbia, Mo. “Well, guess what folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem-cell research?”

The Republican Party platform, just adopted in St. Paul, opposes any form of human embryonic stem-cell research.

McCain's own past positions on stem cell research have been more equivocal.


September 10, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Politics, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sarah Palin's 9 Most Disturbing Beliefs

Via Alternet:

Sarah_palin Let's forget for a moment that Sarah Palin likes to kill moose, has lots of children and was once voted the second-prettiest lady in Alaska; that's all part of the gusher of sensationalist, but not particularly substantive, news that has dominated coverage of the Alaska governor's addition to the Republican ticket.

Before the next news cycle brings the shocking information that Palin was actually impregnated by Bigfoot, we need to shift the discussion to what really matters about her in the context of the White House: her dangerous views.

AlterNet has compiled a list of Palin's most shocking beliefs, ranging from her positions on the economy to her views on reproductive rights. This list has nothing to do with her personal life, her looks or her gender. It's the stuff that voters need to know: what Sarah Palin really believes.

Among the list: "Despite problems at home, Sarah Palin does not believe in giving teenagers information about sex;" and "Sarah Palin believes in punishing rape victims."

September 9, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Other Teen Mothers Lack Support Bristol Palin Has

Minneapolis Star-Tribune:  The Other Young Mothers, by Gail Rosenblum:

Dominique Hines has been following media coverage of 17-year-old Bristol Palin's pregnancy with great interest. Dominique, 16, is the single mother of a 3-month-old son, Da'Marion. She's also a high school student with big dreams.

But similarities between the two teenagers pretty much end there. Many professionals who work with pregnant girls and teen mothers are happy to see this issue placed center stage. But they worry that the Palin story glosses over an essential truth: Most teenagers, like Dominique, don't have nearly the resources and support that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's daughter has.

September 9, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Women's Health Advocates Reflect on Gardasil

RH Reality Check: There's More To HPV Prevention than Gardasil, by Emily Alexander:

Injection In the two years since Gardasil became the first HPV vaccine to obtain FDA approval, reproductive and sexual health advocates have faced steady challenges in determining how to react to, and how to shape, the oftentimes divisive discourse surrounding the vaccine. Both before and after the FDA sped up the approval of the vaccine, consumers, providers, and advocates expressed anxieties, but the women's health community's own debate about the vaccine was overshadowed, by Merck's aggressive marketing to consumers and by its lobbying efforts to introduce immediate school mandates for Gardasil. In the midst of new critiques of the vaccine and increased coverage of the alleged adverse events, now is a good time for women's health advocates to reflect on what has happened over the past two years, what remains unknown about the vaccine, and to reaffirm our commitment to providing the highest quality education and advocacy around HPV and cervical cancer prevention.

September 8, 2008 in In the Media, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sarah Weddington Writing Prize -- Call for Submissions

Via Law Students for Reproductive Justice:

Lsrj_logo_2 LSRJ is accepting submissions for its 4th annual Writing Prize.

The theme this year is “Seeking Reproductive Justice in All Places for All People.”

Law Students for Reproductive Justice is looking for fresh student scholarship that a) focuses on marginalized individuals or communities, such as people of color, immigrants, minors, poor people, prisoners, and those who identify as LGBTQQI, and b) applies a reproductive justice lens in its analysis .  For a clear understanding of reproductive justice, please refer to the resources listed on this site under About Us - Action - Reproductive Justice.   

Papers may have a domestic or international scope.  Authors are encouraged to focus their research on issues or occasions of reproductive coercion or oppression:  the political, social, legal, and economic forces that limit or control the reproductive options of individuals and communities.  A wide range of topics will be accepted, including but not limited to a particular community’s unique struggle against reproductive oppression; environmental conditions causing reproductive harms; coercive or forced contraception, sterilization, or birthing conditions; the shackling of pregnant prisoners during labor and delivery; discrimination against non-traditional family formation; the impact of pharmacist refusals or abortion provider shortages in geographically isolated communities; or access to the HPV vaccine.

Papers must be at least 20 pages in length, not including footnotes, double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman font.  Papers submitted for publication elsewhere will be accepted; however papers previously published will not be allowed.  An outside panel of attorney judges will select the winners. 

Send your submission as a pdf or Word attachment to  by March 2nd!

Winning authors will receive $750 (1st place) or $250 (2nd place), get published on LSRJ’s website, and perhaps be invited to present their papers at conferences.

September 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jon Stewart Skewers Newt Gingrich Over Palin's Hypocrisy on Abortion

On September 3, Jon Stewart interviewed Newt Gingrich on the The Daily Show.  He asked Gingrich whether it wasn't hypocritical for Sarah Palin to emphasize that her daughter, Bristol, had made her own decision to carry the pregnancy to term.  Stewart pointed out that the parents' reference to "Bristol's decision" implied that Bristol had made a free choice, something that Palin would deny to other women facing unplanned pregnancies, even in cases of rape.  The whole episode is worth watching; the Gingrich interview is the last segment.  The video is available here.

September 5, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, In the Media, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Teen Mothers Find Life Opportunities Limited

In the wake of Sarah Palin's revelation that her teenage daughter is pregnant and plans to marry and have the baby, June Carbone (UMKC Law School) and Naomi Cahn (GWU Law School) deliver this important message about the consequences of teen pregnancy and parenthood:

The news that Sarah Palin's unwed teenage daughter is pregnant highlights a surprising reality in today's America: The ultra-conservative morality many associate with the red states is out of step with the reality of 21st century America. Today's America rewards women who avoid teen pregnancy, study longer and marry later.

The ultra-conservative morality espoused in the Republican platform, on display this week at the GOP convention, emphasizes a "traditional understanding of marriage." The platform seeks additional funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior," pointing out that abstinence "is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies."

That's the platform. The reality is that red states have higher teen pregnancy rates, more shotgun marriages and lower average ages of marriage and first births than blue states. Teenage girls in the red states are more likely than their blue-state sisters to have sex and get pregnant, marry early and get divorced, stop going to school and go to work and end up raising their children in poverty.

Read Pregnancy often puts success out of reach for teens, by June Carbone & Naomi Cahn (STL Today).

September 4, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Palin Gets Mixed Reception Among Women

Women's E-News: Palin Mixes It Up for Women at GOP Convention, by Allison Stevens & Alison Bowen:

Woman ST. PAUL, Minn. (WOMENSENEWS)--Women in various places in and around the Republican National Convention here expressed wildly divergent reactions to vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, a religious conservative selected last weekend by Arizona Sen. John McCain to share his national ticket.

Political action committee EMILY's List issued polling research saying Palin wouldn't help McCain attract disaffected Democratic women and Code Pink activists staged a street demonstration against her. But inside the convention many Republican lawmakers and advocates hailed Palin, a staunch opponent of abortion and the governor of Alaska, as a figure of ascendant female power within the party.

While that dissonance may have been predictable, it even extended to pro-choice Republican women gathered at the convention.

"I think it's a risky choice," said Jennifer Blei Stockman, national co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice, a group in New York that advocates for reproductive rights. She said Palin not only jeopardizes reproductive rights, she also knocks the party off-message as the news media digs into her past.

September 4, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Republicans Face Abortion Issue at RNC

MarketWatch (WSJ): Palin's Daughter's Pregnancy Puts Abortion in Spotlight:

Repub_elephant Family-values voters have a lot to digest as the Republican national convention gets under way. Sen. John McCain’s newly chosen running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said Monday that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant and plans to both keep the baby and marry the father...

The timing of the announcement also comes as Republicans gather to ratify their positions on controversial issues such as abortion, which isn’t unanimous within the party....

One of the items on Monday’s agenda is solidifying the party platform, which includes a harder line on abortion than even McCain has taken. The platform calls for opposing it in all cases and supporting a constitutional ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or threats to the life of the mother, a position Palin supports.

Palin may appeal to social conservatives and the religious right, but her pro-life stance likely will prove too extreme to lure many of the disaffected Hillary Clinton primary voters McCain is angling for. Female voters who want to uphold Roe vs. Wade may not be as moved by the Palin family’s personal choices and may see them as the exception and not the rule when it comes to their ability to avoid a cycle of poverty that unwanted pregnancy often begins or continues.

See also New York Times: Palin Daughter's Pregnancy Interrupts Script, by Monica Davey:

In 2002, when Ms. Palin was completing her second and final term as mayor, her husband’s stepmother, Faye Palin, began campaigning to succeed her. Faye Palin, though, favored abortion rights, people who recalled the race said, and Ms. Palin sided instead with Dianne M. Keller, a City Council member who won the race and remains mayor there today.

September 2, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brian Lehrer on Gov. Palin's Opposition to Comprehensive Sex Ed

Sarah Palin has publicly stated her opposition to comprehensive sex ed, supporting instead the abstinence-only approach, which studies have proven ineffective.  On the Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC) today, Lehrer (broadcasting from the Republican Convention) raised the issue of Palin's approach to sexuality education in light of her teenage daughter's pregnancy and wondered what Palin taught her daughters at home about sex.  He asked abstinence-only supporters to call in and describe what they taught their own children at home.  You can download the podcast here.

September 2, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Politics, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

N.Y. Times Magazine Examines Cancer Treatment During Pregnancy

N.Y. Times: With Child, With Cancer, by Pamela Paul:

...The question of how to handle cancer during pregnancy has long troubled the medical profession. In 1880, Samuel Gross, a pioneering American surgeon and the subject of the celebrated Thomas Eakins painting “Gross Clinic,” noted that when breast cancer was associated with pregnancy, “its growth was wonderfully rapid and its course excessively malignant.” In 1943, after treating 20 pregnant patients for breast cancer, doctors at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital concluded that pregnancy made the disease inoperable. Ten years later, the consensus was that termination of the pregnancy was essential and even improved patient survival.

Breast-cancer treatment has made huge strides since then, and a considerable amount of research shows that termination does not improve a pregnant woman’s prognosis. Yet many pregnant women are still refused treatment unless they abort. “Some doctors may be concerned about hurting the baby or the mother,” says Dr. Richard Theriault, an oncologist at M. D. Anderson, where he oversees a team specializing in the treatment of pregnant women with breast cancer. “Or they’re concerned there will be some medical catastrophe and they’ll be liable. Some just don’t want to tackle the issue because it’s complicated.”

September 2, 2008 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mexican Supreme Court Upholds Legal Abortion in Mexico City

L.A. Times: Mexican Supreme Court upholds legalized abortion law, by Ken Ellingwood:

Mexico In a lopsided ruling, Mexico's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a year-old law in Mexico City legalizing abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The court rejected arguments by abortion opponents that the law violated the Mexican Constitution, whose protections they said covered embryos. A majority of justices said overturning the law would block the right of women to end pregnancies in the early weeks.

The vote was 8 to 3 to uphold the measure, approved in April 2007 by Mexico City's leftist-dominated government. Opponents needed support from at least eight of the 11 justices to overturn the law.

September 2, 2008 in Abortion, In the Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sarah Palin Announces Her 17-Year-Old Daughter Is Pregnant

L.A. Times: Sarah Palin announces 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, by Maeve Reston & Noam Levey:

As the Republican National Convention prepared to open, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's choice as his vice presidential running mate, announced that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and plans to marry the baby's father.

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned," Sarah and Todd Palin said in a statement issued by the McCain campaign.

"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support."

Let's hope that this is something Bristol Palin really wants, and not something she feels pushed into doing given her mother's very public and extreme opposition to abortion.

See also AFP: Republicans rocked as Palin says teen daughter pregnant

September 1, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)