Friday, November 14, 2008

Fetus Cookie Cutter


Via Boing Boing.

November 14, 2008 in Culture | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NARAL Unveils New Initiative: "free.will.power"

NARAL Pro-Choice America launches free.will.power as part of a new online initiative focused on building the next generation of pro-choice leaders:

NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation announced today that it is launching free.will.power, an innovative video-based online initiative designed to reach younger activists and recruit a new generation of young women and men into the pro-choice movement.

A web site,, will feature these videos as well as other technology based interactive ways for new activists to get involved with NARAL Pro-Choice America’s work, whether it’s taking action on a choice-related issue, forwarding videos to friends, joining our social-networking groups, or participating in contests to promote the pro-choice message. “In the 2008 presidential election, we witnessed how the power of technology and the enthusiasm of young voters revolutionized the political process,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. “This generation of youth is the most diverse and engaged generation in our country’s history. free.will.power represents one way to engage this new generation of activists and connect them with the pro-choice cause.” NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation enlisted the creative minds of three young spokenword artists – Shira Erlichman, Alvin Lau, and Deja Taylor – as well as renowned musician, DJ Spooky, to produce three online viral videos that feature compelling words, visuals, and sound. The free.will.power initiative represents NARAL Pro-Choice America’s ongoing efforts to incorporate technology into its work. Other programs include BlogforChoice, Twitter, MySpace, Txt4Choice, and Facebook – all online tools and communities activated to engage and support pro-choice activists and causes.

November 13, 2008 in Culture, In the Media, Politics, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Forum on "Power & Sex: America's War on Sexual Rights"

UPCOMING CONVERSATION: Power & Sex: America's War on Sexual Rights:

Monday, November 17, 2008
7:00 pm,
Elebash Recital Hall
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
New York, NY 10016

How has the conservative agenda come to dominate the national and international conversation on sexual rights? Obama’s victory and the vote against abortion bans in Colorado and South Dakota brought some sexual rights back from the edge of a political precipice, but others remain in the balance. Join scholars, journalists, and policy makers to talk about how we can help the new administration change policies and reframe national and international thinking on sexual rights. Participants include Dagmar Herzog, author of Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics and Professor of History, Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, and Faye Wattleton, Director of the Center for the Advancement of Women. Discussant: Rosalind Petchesky, author of Sexuality, Health and Human Rights and Distinguished Professor of Political Science. Moderated by Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Graduate Center, CUNY.

November 12, 2008 in Abortion, Conferences and Symposia, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bishops Assail Proposed Freedom of Choice Act

Wash. Post: Bishops Call Obama-Supported Abortion Rights Bill a Threat to Catholic Church, by Jacqueline Salmon:

The nation's Catholic bishops Tuesday approved a statement declaring that if the Democratic-controlled Congress and the incoming Obama administration enact proposed abortion rights legislation, they would see it as an attack on the church.

The statement, to be formally issued Wednesday by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, assails the proposed Freedom of Choice Act, which would remove most state and federal restrictions on abortion.

President-elect Barack Obama pledged during the campaign to sign the legislation.

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Urges Continued Lobbying for Outlawing Abortion

NY Times: U.S. Bishops Urged to Challenge Obama, by Laurie Goodstein:

BALTIMORE — The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops told his fellow prelates Monday that while they should “rejoice” at the election of an African-American president, they should confront him over his support for abortion rights....

Cardinal George’s remarks were a repudiation of the “common good” approach to the abortion issue that President-elect Barack Obama and Democratic Party leaders, including some prominent Roman Catholics, honed in the recent election.

Advocates of the “common good” approach say that, rather than outlawing abortion — which has polarized the American electorate for decades — they will try to reduce abortions by strengthening the social and economic safety net to enable more women to bring their pregnancies to term.

See also: Chicago Tribune: Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama, by Manya Brachear.

November 11, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Where to Now for the Anti-Choice Movement?

Wall St. Journal: Abortion Foes' Dilemma: Confront or Cooperate?, by Stephanie Simon:

After making significant gains during the Bush administration, the anti-abortion movement was dealt sharp setbacks in last week's election with the defeat of three state ballot measures restricting abortion.

Now, strategists are debating whether the way forward should be based on confrontation or cooperation with the incoming Democratic administration....

President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats have promised to work to make abortion rare, so long as it remains legal. "Maybe it's time to take them up on the offer" instead of "bashing our heads over and over again against the same wall," writes Paul Strand, a blogger for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

November 11, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pro-Choice Advocates Urge Obama to Repeal Global Gag Rule

NY Times: Obama Weighs Quick Undoing of Bush Policy, by Jeff Zeleny:

CHICAGO — President-elect Barack Obama is poised to move swiftly to reverse actions that President Bush took using executive authority, and his transition team is reviewing limits on stem cell research and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, among other issues, members of the team said Sunday.

As Mr. Obama prepared to make his first post-election visit to the White House on Monday, his advisers were compiling a list of policies that could be reversed by the executive powers of the new president....

In January 2001, on his first full day in office, Mr. Bush reinstated the so-called global gag rule, initiated during the Reagan administration and overturned by President Bill Clinton, which prohibited taxpayer dollars from being given to international family planning groups that perform abortions and provide abortion counseling. After Mr. Obama’s victory last week, the Center for Reproductive Rights delivered a 23-page memorandum to his transition team, calling for “bold policy change,” including a repeal of the gag rule.

November 10, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Contraception, International, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

US Catholics Did Not Heed Bishops' Message on Abortion in this Election

NY Times: Catholics and Choice (in the Voting Booth), by Peter Steinfels:

Bishops_hat_2 Anyone constructing a list of the big losers on Tuesday would probably include the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. Will that fact be candidly addressed when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meets next week in Baltimore?

After a presidential campaign in which it was widely perceived that the dominant message from the bishops was that Catholics were morally obliged not to vote for a candidate supporting abortion rights, exit polls show that Catholics voted 52 percent to 45 percent for Senator Barack Obama. That was seven percentage points more than the Catholic vote in 2004 for Senator John Kerry, a fellow Catholic....

If the bishops sweat a little over these figures next week, the reason won’t be worry about their political prowess but about their pastoral and moral effectiveness. By appearing to tie their moral stance on abortion so closely to a particular political choice, have they in fact undermined their moral persuasiveness on that issue as well as their pastoral effectiveness generally?

And here's my favorite part.  Despite the Republican party's callous attitude toward life in myriad contexts including war, health care, criminal justice, and poverty, it's the Democratic position of allowing women to choose whether to abort an embryo or fetus that amounts to embracing death:

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, recently transferred to Rome from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, declared the Democrats “the party of death.” Bishop Robert J. Hermann, the church’s interim leader in St. Louis until a successor to Archbishop Burke is named, invoked “Judgment Day” a half-dozen times in a column leaving no doubt that Catholics should decide their vote on the basis of abortion alone.

November 8, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Samantha Bee on Abortion and Women's "Health"

If you were so unfortunate as to miss this gem, as I was, enjoy (and rejoice that John McCain was not elected President).  Daily Show (10/28):

November 8, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 7, 2008

How Will the Election Affect the Anti-Choice Movement's Goal of Overturning Roe?

I spoke to another reporter yesterday about the South Dakota ban.  His question was what the defeats on the Colorado and South Dakota ballot initiatives meant for the anti-abortion-rights movement's goal of bringing a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.  Bloomberg News, Advocacy Groups Undone by Outsiders in Abortion Vote, by Jerry Hart:

That possibility [of a direct challenge to Roe] was set back by the twin defeats, said Caitlin E. Borgmann, an associate professor at the City University of New York School of Law.

``Advocates looking to mount a direct challenge to Roe were dealt a one-two punch,'' Borgmann said in an interview. ``One, the measures didn't pass. Two, Obama said he won't appoint justices that favor overturning the law, so the anti- abortionists don't have much near-term prospect.''

Retiring Justices

President-elect Barack Obama will probably have to replace at least two retiring Supreme Court justices in his first four- year term, Borgmann said. John Paul Stevens is 88 years old and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 75. David Souter may also retire. He is 69.

Borgmann described the court, which has kept Roe v. Wade intact for 35 years, as having a ``fragile majority favoring the right to abortion but that would allow many restrictions.''

``Four justices think Roe is bad and four think restrictions are getting out of hand, and there's Kennedy in the middle,'' she said, referring to Justice Anthony Kennedy. ``So far, he has voted to uphold the basic right to abortion.''

In the article, Leslee Unruh, a key lobbyist for the ban, denies that its ultimate purpose was to invite the Court to overturn Roe.  Yet two attorneys and architects of the South Dakota strategy openly discussed their plans in a memo in which they describe the ban as "the best [opportunity] we may have to overturn Roe for the next ten to fifteen years."

November 7, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion Bans, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Supporters of Stem Cell Research Buoyed by Obama's Election

MSNBC Commentary: Obama election signals change in stem cell fight, by Arthur Caplan:

Stem_cell ‘Change’ was the horse that Barack Obama’s presidential campaign rode to victory. Indeed the 2008 election will be remembered not only for Obama becoming the first African-American president, but also for its impact on core bioethical topics that have long dominated American domestic politics....

The past eight years of the Bush White House have seen stem cell research and the status of embryos at the center of the moral values debate. Obama’s election has brought the fight over embryonic stem cell research in the U.S. to an end.

See also: LA Times: Obama victory delights stem-cell researchers

November 6, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CA Prop 4 (Parental Notice and Waiting Period for Teens Seeking Abortion) Is Defeated

Via the Campaign for Teen Safety -- No on Prop 4:

Proposition 4 was defeated with 52.6% No, and 47.4% Yes. The Campaign for Teen Safety — No on Prop 4 is delighted that California voters rejected Prop 4 and protected the health and safety of our teenagers ONE MORE TIME!

California has always been a pro-choice state and the voters saw through this deceptive initiative and said NO to placing our teens in danger. This vote guarantees that all teens, no matter what their circumstances, will be able to access qualified doctors, nurses and counselors when they need them.

Thanks to our broad coalition of doctors, nurses, teachers, school counselors, labor, clergy and civil rights organizations and thousands of parents we were able to educate voters about this deceptive and dangerous initiative.

Read more.

November 5, 2008 in Abortion, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obama's Election a Victory for Reproductive Justice

Barack Obama's historic victory is also a stunning victory for reproductive justice.  Voters both for and against the right to abortion threw their support to Obama because he is the candidate who is most serious about reducing unintended pregnancies and about insuring that women have access to the full range of reproductive health services and can make healthy, informed choices in all of their reproductive decisionmaking.  The election of Obama will also almost certainly ensure that, at least in the near term, the Supreme Court does not slip from the current, fragile 5-4 majority willing to uphold the remaining shreds of Roe v. Wade.

Here's an RH Reality Check post, by Brady Swenson, on Why So Many "Pro-Life" Catholics Backed Obama.

November 5, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

California Proposition 4 (Parental Notice for Abortion) Appears Narrowly Defeated

San Jose Mercury News: Prop. 4 losing ground in close race, by Edwin Garcia:

The proposed law that would require doctors to notify parents of minors seeking abortions was narrowly failing in statewide returns early today.

Proposition 4, a ballot initiative supported by anti-abortion advocates and opposed by Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights organizations, was one of the tightest races among the statewide propositions.

Early returns showed the race seesawing, but with 91 percent of the precincts reporting as of 4:55 a.m., the No on 4 campaign has received 52.6 percent of the votes.

Last night, you could get California Proposition Results here.  I haven't had luck with the link this morning, however.

November 5, 2008 in Abortion, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

South Dakota and Colorado Anti-Choice Ballot Initiatives Defeated

L.A. Times: Ballot initiatives to curtail abortions defeated, by Nicholas Riccardi:

The most prominent initiative was a measure put on the ballot in South Dakota to outlaw most abortions in hope of triggering a Supreme Court showdown over the landmark 1973 case Roe vs. Wade. Measure 11 lost by a lopsided margin.

It was a revised version of a high-profile proposed abortion ban -- even in cases of rape and incest -- that South Dakota voters had rejected by a 10-point margin in 2006. Proponents hoped that they could secure passage this year by providing exceptions for rape and incest.

But opponents argued the exceptions were still too narrow -- abortions were only permissible if the woman identified her assailant and proved paternity through DNA testing, or if a doctor found the mother faced possible organ failure if the pregnancy came to term....

Another hot-button abortion initiative, Measure 48 in Colorado, was roundly defeated Tuesday night. The initiative would have defined a fertilized egg as a legal human being, which opponents and some proponents said could ban abortion and other activities such as in vitro fertilization and certain forms of birth control.

November 5, 2008 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pro-Choice Election Victories

NARAL Pro-Choice America is listing pro-choice candidates who won their races here.  The list will continue to be updated until all the races have been called.Naral_2

And here is NARAL's press release on Colorado's rejection of an extreme, anti-choice ballot measure:

Washington, DC – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised the leaders of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and their state-based allies for leading the successful campaign to defeat Amendment 48—an extreme anti-choice ballot measure that would have outlawed abortion and threatened birth control and stem-cell research by establishing legal protections for fertilized eggs.

"Tonight's victory belongs to the vast majority of Coloradans who acted on their pro-choice values and rejected this extreme abortion ban," Keenan said. "Coloradans' common sense prevailed. Voters understood that this proposal would open the door to more government interference in personal, private decisions. In the spirit of this tremendous grassroots victory in the Rocky Mountain West, we will take the valuable lessons learned in Colorado to combat similar attacks on privacy that we are likely to see in other states. Anti-choice extremists refuse to take no for an answer, even when they lose by wide margins. We will work at every turn to stand up against copycat attacks on privacy and freedom in other parts of the country and achieve more resounding pro-choice victories like the one Colorado voters delivered tonight."

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado was an early leader in the state-based coalition that successfully defeated Amendment 48.  Emilie C. Ailts, executive director of the Denver-based organization, said, "We knew Colorado was a pro-choice state before Amendment 48; the defeat of this dangerous amendment simply reinforces the mainstream Colorado belief that personal, private health-care decisions should be made by women in consultation with their doctors and families and in keeping with their own religious beliefs. Coloradans have sent a clear message to anti-choice extremists: Divisive attacks on a woman's right to choose are unacceptable in our state; instead, Coloradans want policymakers to focus on commonsense, common-ground strategies to reduce the need for abortion by preventing unintended pregnancy. That's why NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado will continue its work to promote policies to ensure all Colorado women maintain access to the full range of reproductive health-care services."


          Ted Miller, 202.973.3032

November 5, 2008 in Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

South Dakota Abortion Ban and Colorado Personhood Amendment Projected to Fail

CBS News: S.D. Voters Reject Abortion Ballot Measure:

CBS News projects that voters in South Dakota voted down Measure 11, which would have prohibited abortions except in cases where the mother's life or health is at a substantial and irreversible risk, and in cases of reported rape and incest. If it had passed, it would likely have triggered a legal challenge which could have lead to the U.S. Supreme Court and a reconsideration of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that established the right to abortion.

In Colorado, CBS News projects that voters rejected Amendment 48, which would have defined the term "person" to include any human being from the moment of fertilization.

Here's an Am Law Daily story about the South Dakota ban: ELECTION 2008: South Dakota Voters Consider Abortion Ban, by Rachel Breitman:

Several of this year's election day ballot measures ask voters to weigh in on the always-controversial matter of reproductive rights law....

Most thorny of all may be South Dakota's Measure 11, a proposed ban on all abortions except in the case of incest, rape, and serious threat to the health of the mother.

...[S]ome lawyers say the ballot initiative is purposely unconstitutional, designed not only to limit abortion in South Dakota, but to overturn nationwide abortion protections....

Whether the South Dakota matter has national legal precedent could also depend on the result of the day's election.

"Justice Kennedy has proven receptive to restrictions on abortion, but he might not go so far as to uphold an outright ban like this," Caitlin Borgmann, an associate professor who teaches reproductive law at CUNY School of Law, tells The Am Law Daily. "This will depend on the presidential election and Supreme Court appointments."

November 4, 2008 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion Cases in the News

Check out this post from the new Constitutional Law Prof Blog:

Richmond Medical Center v. Herring - In 2003, the State of Virginia passed a law called the "Partial Birth Infanticide Act."  Professor Sherry Colb of Findlaw explains that at the time the law was passed, Steinberg v. Carhart had been decided, so "the prospects for such laws . . . were not good."  The law was enjoined, and the Fourth Circuit upheld the injunction.  Virginia filed a petition for certiorari.  However, after the Court's decision in Gonzalez v. Carhart, the Court directed the Fourth Circuit to reconsider the case. 

A panel heard the case in May 2008.  (Its decision can be found here.) Two of the judges again held that the law was unconstitutional.  The primary reason was that the law placed "an undue burden on a woman's constitutional right to choose an abortion in the second trimester, because the Act effectively prohibits the standard D&E procedure. The panel majority distinguished the federal statute at issue in Gonzales v. Carhart. While both acts required anatomical landmarks, the Virginia statute had no scienter requirement.  Moreover, while the federal statute distinguished the act of delivery from the act causing fetal demise, the Virginia act did not.

Professor Colb reports that last week, the Fourth Circuit sat en banc to hear arguments in the case.  Professor Colb's analysis of the case is worth reading for many reasons.  First, she provides an excellent overview of the legal framework governing the abortion issue.  Second, she explains in great detail why later term abortions are necessary in some cases, and explains and rebuts some of the compelling arguments against the practice.  You may want to use the piece to supplement your discussion of either of the Carhart cases.

November 4, 2008 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Links Weight Gain in Pregnancy to Heavy Babies

NY Times: Risks: Extra Pregnancy Weight Tied to Big Baby, by Nicholas Bakalar:

Baby_armslegs Women who gain more than 40 pounds during pregnancy are about twice as likely to give birth to a heavy baby as those who gain less, according to a large new study.

Mothers of babies who weigh more than about nine pounds at birth are at greater risk for birth complications, and heavy babies are more likely to be overweight or obese later in life.

It is well known that mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to have large babies, but this study showed a strong effect of weight gain even in mothers who were not diabetic.

November 4, 2008 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion and the Election: "The Silent Issue"

Newsweek: The Silent Issue, by Lisa Miller:

Abortion hasn't been a central debate in the 2008 campaign. But that doesn't mean that its opponents feel any less strongly about it.

It's abortion, stupid. For conservative Christians in this election the most important religious issue isn't gay marriage, stem-cell research or Christmas trees on courthouse lawns. It is abortion (as it has been for at least the past 35 years, since the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade). When they walk into the voting booth on Tuesday, can they look beyond their fundamental, conscience-driven opposition to abortion as a moral evil? Do they want to? If yes, they may vote for Sen. Barack Obama. If not, they will, despite any reservations, vote for Sen. John McCain.

November 4, 2008 in 2008 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)