Friday, July 31, 2009

High Rates of Maternal Mortality Persist in India

Guttmacher Institute news release: Maternal Mortality Remains High in India, Despite Slow Decline:

India Flag Although maternal mortality in India is declining, it remains unacceptably high, according to the report Barriers to Safe Motherhood in India, released today by the New York–based Guttmacher Institute and the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) in Mumbai. Maternal deaths in India, the world’s second most populous country, constitute one-quarter of all maternal deaths globally. Therefore, India’s slow pace in improving maternal health not only has serious negative consequences for Indian women and their families, it also impedes global achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality by 75% between 2000 and 2015.

High levels of maternal mortality are especially tragic because deaths associated with pregnancy or childbirth are largely preventable. In India, hemorrhage, a condition that is exacerbated by widespread anemia among pregnant women, is the most important cause of such deaths. In a country where abortion is broadly legal, unsafe abortion remains common and contributes significantly to maternal mortality; preventing unintended pregnancy and increasing access to trained abortion providers would go a long way toward reducing maternal deaths.

Because maternal mortality is intrinsically hard to measure, estimates vary widely: The Indian government estimates that 301 maternal deaths occur per 100,000 live births, whereas the World Health Organization puts the estimate at 450. . . .

July 31, 2009 in Abortion, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pregnant Women Will Be Among First To Receive Flu Vaccine

Wash. Post: Flu Vaccine Panel Creates Priority List, by David Brown:

A complicated list of who should get pandemic flu vaccine in the fall is now set. When the vaccine starts arriving in September, first in line will be pregnant women; the caretakers of infants; children and young adults; older people with chronic illness; and health-care workers.

That's the advice of a 15-member committee of experts, which met all day Wednesday at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to advise the federal government on vaccine policy.

The priority list names targeted groups and suggests the order in which they should be vaccinated. While acknowledging the potential for confusion, the committee chose the strategy because of the possibility that the epidemic will be peaking within four to six weeks of when the vaccine becomes available. . . .

July 31, 2009 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man Charged With Doctor Tiller's Murder Pleads Not Guilty

Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Man Charged With Murder of Abortion Provider Tiller Pleads Not Guilty:

Scott Roeder, the man charged with the May 31 shooting death of abortion provider George Tiller, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated assault at a Wichita, Kan., hearing on Tuesday, the AP/Boston Globe reports (AP/Boston Globe, 7/29). After witnesses described events surrounding the shooting, the judge presiding over the hearing concluded that there was sufficient evidence to try Roeder. Tiller was murdered in the foyer of his church, where he was serving as an usher. According to several church members who testified Tuesday, Roeder occasionally had come to the church in the months before the shooting.

The trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 21 (Davey, New York Times, 7/28). At the hearing, Roeder made no public comments, and the not-guilty plea was entered by the public defender representing him in the case (AP/Boston Globe, 7/29).

If convicted, Roeder likely will face life in prison, as the case does not meet state criteria for the death penalty. His lawyers declined to comment on their defense plans (New York Times, 7/28).


July 31, 2009 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sotomayor is Endorsed by Senate Judiciary Committee

NY Times: Senate Panel Endorses Sotomayor in 13-6 Vote, by David Stout:

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 13 to 6, on Tuesday to endorse the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, easing her path to likely confirmation as the first Hispanic member of the tribunal.

As expected, all 12 Democrats on the judiciary panel voted for Judge Sotomayor. But among the seven Republicans on the committee, only Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina voted in favor.

“She is a restrained, fair and impartial judge,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who heads the committee.

The action sends the nomination to the full Senate, where her confirmation by a comfortable margin seems to be assured. . . .

July 28, 2009 in Congress, Current Affairs, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Clifford J. Rosky on Parenthood and Homophobic and Heterosexist Stereotypes

Clifford J. Rosky (University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law) has posted Like Father, Like Son: Homosexuality, Parenthood and the Gender of Homophobia on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Pic This Article argues that gender influences the expression of homophobic and heterosexist stereotypes about gay and lesbian parents. By conducting a comparative analysis of reported family law opinions, it shows that gay and lesbian parents are subjected to gender-influenced stereotypes in custody and visitation cases - stereotypes that are influenced by the parent’s gender, the child’s gender, and the judge’s gender. First, gay fathers are subjected to two stereotypes that are influenced by the parent’s gender. They are stereotyped as HIV agents and child molesters - men who infect children with HIV and sexually abuse children, especially boys. Lesbian mothers are not stereotyped as HIV agents, and they are rarely stereotyped as child molesters.

Next, both gay fathers and lesbian mothers are subjected to two stereotypes that are influenced by the child’s gender. They are stereotyped as recruiters and role models - people who encourage children to become homosexual. Although recruiting and role modeling stereotypes are applied to both gay and lesbian parents, they are applied more often to the parents of sons than the parents of daughters, and they are rarely applied to the fathers of daughters. This pattern betrays patriarchal concerns about the importance of fathers in the production of masculine, heterosexual boys. Finally, all of these stereotypes are influenced by the judge’s gender. Male judges are more likely than female judges to accept gender-influenced stereotypes about gay and lesbian parents. This pattern reflects the observed tendencies of heterosexual men to accept homophobic and heterosexist stereotypes more often than heterosexual women and apply such stereotypes to gay men more often than to lesbians.

In the legal academy’s responses to stereotypes about gay and lesbian parents, scholars have been blind to the influence of gender. By ignoring the influence of the parent’s gender, we have introduced unnecessary omissions and weaknesses into our responses to HIV and child molestation stereotypes. By ignoring the influence of the child’s gender, we have failed to notice the reciprocal relationship between homophobia and gender, and we have imposed arbitrary limits on our responses to recruiting and role modeling stereotypes. By taking account of the relationship between homophobia and gender, we can develop a more rigorous and inclusive case on behalf of gay and lesbian families - a case that vindicates not only the parental interests of gay men and lesbians but the developmental interests of children who may grow up to be gay men and lesbians, too.

July 27, 2009 in Culture, Men and Reproduction, Parenthood, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Today is the anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment

JURIST: Today in Legal History:

On July 28, 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, granting citizenship to former slaves and protecting due process of law and equal protection of laws in the States, was ratified. 

Learn more about the history of the Fourteenth Amendment.

July 27, 2009 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Parental Involvement Laws for Abortion: Irrational and Dangerous

JURIST: Abortion Parental Notice Laws: Irrational, Unnecessary and Downright Dangerous, by Caitlin Borgmann:

On July 14, in Zbaraz v. Madigan, the Seventh Circuit lifted a permanent injunction that had prevented enforcement of Illinois’ parental notice for abortion law since its enactment in 1995. The decision hinged on an arcane question of state procedural law, and the opinion did not break new legal ground on the abortion issue. What is noteworthy about the decision, then, is precisely what for many might seem mundane: Illinois will now join the ranks of 34 other states in enforcing some kind of parental involvement requirement before a teenager can obtain an abortion. The court emphasized the unexceptional nature of its decision, noting that “[m]any, if not all of the concerns first raised against parental involvement laws in the 1970s and early 1980s have been addressed” in laws like Illinois’.

This soothing language, however, obscures the fact that a substantial majority of states blithely impose what are in reality irrational laws that impose appalling burdens on the teenagers who are least able to consult with their parents about their pregnancies. States continue to enforce these restrictions despite evidence that they do not serve their intended purpose, and are unnecessary for most teens and downright dangerous for others. It is worth a pause to reflect on these laws that now seem scarcely to merit a yawn from the courts....

July 26, 2009 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Preliminary Hearing Tomorrow for Man Charged with Doctor Tiller's Murder

Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Preliminary Hearing Set for Suspect in Murder of Abortion Provider Tiller:

A preliminary hearing for Scott Roeder, the man charged with the May 31 murder of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, is set for Tuesday, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. During the hearing, prosecutors will attempt to convince a judge they have enough evidence for a trial, according to the AP/Chronicle.

Roeder is charged with one count of first-degree murder in Tiller's death, as well as two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him from shooting Tiller in the foyer of his Wichita church. According to the AP/Chronicle, Roeder will enter a plea if the judge determines that the case can go to trial. He has not indicated what plea he intends to enter should that occur (Hegeman, AP/Houston Chronicle, 7/26).

In related news, the New York Times on Sunday examined the life and career of Tiller, who was one of the few abortion providers who performed the procedure later in pregnancy. Throughout Tiller's career -- which began in the 1970s -- he "made himself the nation's pre-eminent abortion practitioner," according to the Times. . . . 

July 26, 2009 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Shrinking Work Force Leads China to Modify One-Child Policy

NY Times: 1 Plus 1: Shanghai Tweaks Child Rules, by David Barboza:

China's Flag SHANGHAI — Thirty years after China began enforcing a one-child policy, this city is actively encouraging young couples to have a second child.

City officials are planning to visit homes, slip leaflets under doors and offer emotional counseling and financial incentives.

The world’s most populous country, it seems, wants to be a little bigger.

The new push, which aims to tackle growing worries about the country’s shrinking work force and aging population, is the most public effort yet to counter a policy that is considered both a tremendous success and a terrible failure. While it has kept population growth under control, it has also led to forced abortions.

China is not doing away with the one-child policy, which still largely applies to urban residents, but is allowing more exceptions to the rule. Shanghai, with 20 million residents one of China’s biggest cities, is leading the effort. . . . 

July 25, 2009 in Abortion, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Slow Embryo Heart Rate May Indicate Greater Miscarriage Risk for IVF Recipients

Reuters: Slow heart rate predicts failed fertility therapy, by Michelle Rizzo:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A slow embryo heart rate could mean that mothers who have undergone in vitro fertilization are at increased risk for miscarriage, according to a report in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

Somewhere between 10 and 25 percent of women who undergo in vitro fertilization suffer miscarriages, and slow embryonic heart rates have been known to be a sign of trouble. However, "The boundary between slow and normal embryonic heart rates has not been well established in the infertile population," study co-author Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, and colleagues write....

July 24, 2009 in Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Substitute for Embryonic Stem Cells Shows Promise

ScienceNow: Embryonic Stem Cell Substitute Passes Acid Test, by Gretchen Vogel:

Stem cell Scientists have for the first time demonstrated that a possible alternative to controversial embryonic stem (ES) cells shares one of their key abilities. So-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells can generate a live mouse in an experiment scientists say is the gold standard for pluripotency, the ability to become any cell type in the body. The feat, performed by two independent groups, suggests that iPS cells may be as powerful as ES cells, which many scientists hope will someday help cure a variety of diseases.

ES cells are prized by scientists for their flexibility. Taken from early embryos, they can in theory develop into all the tissues of the body. This talent makes them useful for studying--and perhaps someday treating--diseases. But because isolating ES cells involves destroying an embryo, they have proved ethically and politically controversial.

Many researchers believe iPS cells offer the best hope as an alternative....

July 24, 2009 in Bioethics, Science, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Praises Pregnancy Prevention Bill

ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project press release: House Bill To Support Unintended Pregnancy Prevention And Parenting Programs A Welcome Step, Says ACLU

Bill Would Improves Lives Of Women And Families

WASHINGTON – An important bill aiming to improve access to reproductive health care and meet the needs of women and families was introduced in the House of Representatives today. The “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act,” sponsored by Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), would fund a wide range of programs that improve women’s reproductive health, prevent unintended pregnancies and increase support for parenting.

“The ACLU welcomes this bill, which will increase access to contraception, help meet the needs of many pregnant and parenting women and improve the lives of women and families throughout the country,” said Vania Leveille, ACLU Legislative Counsel. 

The bill also includes provisions to expand Medicaid coverage for family planning, support pregnant and parenting college students, expand adoption assistance, encourage conversations about sexuality between parents and teens and improve sexuality education and other programs to ensure that teenagers make healthy and responsible decisions.

“A woman facing an unintended pregnancy needs the opportunity to make the best decision for her circumstances, whether her decision is raising the child, adoption, or abortion,” said Leveille.  “We urge Congress to not only pass this legislation, but also to ensure that a woman who needs to end a pregnancy has access to the care she needs.  This bill is a strong beginning, not the last word, on meeting the health care needs of all women.”

July 24, 2009 in Congress, Contraception, Parenthood, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Shows Adolescents' Contraceptive Use Has Higher Failure Rate

Guttmacher Institute news release: Adolescent Women's Contraceptive Use is Less Consistent than that of Adult Women, With a Much Higher Failure Rate:

Guttmacher_inst New Analysis Compares Evidence from More Than 40 Countries

A new study of women’s contraceptive use around the world finds that sexually active 15–19-year-olds are more likely than their 20–49-year-old counterparts to use contraceptives inconsistently and, on average, experience a 25% higher rate of contraceptive failure.

The study’s authors, Ann K. Blanc of EngenderHealth et al., believe that compared with adult women, adolescent women face more obstacles to consistent contraceptive use—including feeling embarrassed about seeking out contraceptives, not being able to afford them and not knowing how to use them correctly—and may be more likely to abandon a method and try another if they experience side effects, which often leads to gaps in contraceptive use. The authors also note that, in comparison with adult women, adolescents tend to use methods with higher failure rates, to use methods less effectively and to be more fertile—all factors that increase the risk of unintended pregnancy. . . .

July 24, 2009 in Contraception, Scholarship and Research, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pregnancy and the Swine Flu Threat

US News & World Report: Dealing with the Swine Flu Threat During Pregnancy, by Deborah Kotz:

The worldwide death toll from swine flu is now at 700, according to the World Health Organization. And the U.S. government is gearing up for a mass vaccination campaign this fall, one not seen since the polio vaccine first became available in the 1950s. Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the 2009-10 seasonal flu vaccine, but it doesn't include protection against the H1N1 strain that is responsible for swine flu. An H1N1 vaccine is still being tested for safety and efficacy. When it becomes available later this fall, should pregnant women be among the first to get it, or the last?

July 23, 2009 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Guidelines for Mothers Taking Antiretrovirals May Change

Reuters: WHO may change ARV guidelines for pregnant mothers, by Wendell Roelf:

AIDS_ribbon CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - International guidelines for mothers taking antiretrovirals (ARVs) may change, a senior WHO official said, with new evidence showing HIV infection rates among babies are significantly cut when mothers are given prolonged ARV treatment during breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization is reviewing its 2006 recommendations on the use of ARVs in pregnant women, including during the breastfeeding period. New guidelines are expected to be published by the end of 2009 and will take into account emerging data.

July 23, 2009 in International, Medical News, Parenthood, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Debate Over Abortion Endures

USA Today: Abortion fight is 'enduring divide', by Joan Biskupic:

WASHINGTON — During confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., asked whether she believed court rulings on abortion had ended the national controversy.

In a departure from the oblique answers that marked the hearings, Sotomayor paused, then answered bluntly: "No."

The incendiary debate over abortion rights endures and can be jarring, as when abortion opponents interrupted at several points the Senate Judiciary Committee session with Sotomayor. The controversy has boiled up in other ways in the days since then....

July 23, 2009 in Abortion, Culture, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Federal Bill Takes a Common Ground Approach on Abortion

Broadsheet ( How's that "common ground" going?, by Frances Kissling:

A new bill on abortion reduction shows serious strain -- but also progress

After four years of behind-the-scenes negotiating, pro-choice groups turned out in full force for the introduction of the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act, the odd-couple legislation whose lead sponsors are pro-choice Rosa DeLauro and pro-life Tim Ryan. At a Hill press conference this morning, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the Religious Coalition stood in close proximity to mega church pastor Joel Hunter. The bill is bound to get good media coverage, as it fits nicely with the President’s “can’t we all get along” plea for common ground on abortion.

Apparently everyone could not get along, and the task of lining up supporters for the bill, which was lead by the pro-choice Third Way Democratic think tank’s culture program director Rachel Laser, was a bruising experience. Pro-lifers were disappointed that contraception was included. Pro-choicers were concerned the language of the bill sent an “abortion is bad" message. It was a bitter pill for both sides to swallow, though, so far, no one has choked.

Frankly, it's the kind of bill that should have been passed 20 years ago -- what a shame that for women to get what they need, it must be framed in terms of reducing the need for abortion. But the bill expands Medicaid coverage for family planning for low-income women and increases support for the Title X family planning program; it breaks new ground in preventing teen pregnancy and launches a new initiative to involve parents in teen pregnancy prevention. . . .

July 23, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Contraception, Parenthood, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Changing View on Abortion Among Young Latinos

Nuestra Vida, Nuestra Voz (National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health): Young Latinos Shift Views on Abortion:

NLIRH A recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life along with the Pew Hispanic Center, shows that among first-generation U.S. Hispanics, 65% believe abortion should be illegal, while only 43% of second-generation U.S. Hispanics share the same belief. In addition to statistics and opinions about the shift, this article discusses the personal accounts of two pregnant Latina women and their decisions.

In this current political atmosphere, it is intriguing to see how specific racial groups’ beliefs on abortion are portrayed. NLIRH Executive Director Silvia Henriquez summarizes the Latino perspective on abortion best in the article, stating “It’s very much ‘Maybe I wouldn’t make that decision myself, but it’s not my place to interfere in someone else’s decision.’” The Latina Institute will continue to fairly represent the voices of Latinas, while fighting for reproductive justice. As demonstrated in this article, the perspective on abortion for Latinos is progressing towards a more open minded space, and this is a part of the fundamental human right to reproductive health and justice that the Latina Institute will continue to support and ensure for Latinas and their families.

July 23, 2009 in Abortion, Culture, Race & Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Refusal to Consent to C-Section Evidence of Child Abuse?

Volokh Conspiracy (7/16): Refusal to Consent to Caesarean Section as Neglect of the Child?

From today's very interesting decision in New Jersey Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. V.M. (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div.):

Defendants V.M. [the mother] and B.G. [the father] appeal from the judgment ... which found that they abused and neglected their child, J.M.G. As a result of these findings, J.M.G. was placed in the custody and care of plaintiff Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). At a permanency hearing the judge approved DYFS's plan for termination of parental rights....

We agree that the judge's findings as to V.M. were supported by the evidence adduced at the hearing, but ... we disagree as to his findings as they relate to B.G.... [On the record before us, we do not think that] whether V.M.'s refusal to consent to a cesarean section (c-section) can, as a matter of law, be considered an element of abuse and neglect ... need be decided.

[T]he independent evidence presented, irrespective of the evidence concerning V.M.'s resistance to the c-section, amply supported the judge's ultimate finding as to V.M., and we affirm as to her. As to B.G., we reverse for the reasons set forth in the concurring opinion.

July 22, 2009 in In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jimmy Carter Protests Treatment of Women by Organized Religion

Blogher: Jimmy Carter protests religion's treatment of women, by Mata H:

Jimmy Carter Editor's note: Jimmy Carter officially departed the Southern Baptist church in 2000, but still stayed on at Maranatha Baptist in Plains, Georgia, teaching Sunday School. He held on to a Baptist affiliation through many conflicts, including the denomination's anti-gay positions. This week, he issued a position paper indicting all organized religions for their treatment of women.

"Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God." -- Jimmy Carter, Former US president, Nobel Prize Winner

This week, Jimmy Carter left the Southern Baptist Church, where he has been a member for over 60 years. He and Roselyn distanced themselves from full participation a few years ago, but he remained a deacon and still taught Sunday School. He held on to his denominational affiliation through many conflicts - including the denomination's anti-gay positions. This document says nothing about LGBT issues, and that is a tragic shortcoming. But it does say something about women, and in that it only came part way, that part is very strong indeed. It isn't enough, but it is something.

The post includes excerpts from, and a link to, Carter's position paper.

(Via Feministing)

July 22, 2009 in Culture, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)