Monday, August 31, 2009

Thanks To My Summer Research Assistants!

Amy Hager A heartfelt thanks to my CUNY Law School research assistants, Amy Hager (2L) and Christina Tenuta (3L), for their helpful research for this blog over the summer.Christina Tenuta pic

August 31, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

DHS Ruled Mother Unfit Because of Her Inability to Speak English

Time Magazine: Can a Mother Lose Her Child Because She Doesn't Speak English?, by Tim Padgett with Dolly Mascareñas / Oaxac

Can the U.S. government take a woman's baby from her because she doesn't speak English? That's the latest question to arise in the hothouse debate over illegal immigration, as an undocumented woman from impoverished rural Mexico — who speaks only an obscure indigenous language — fights in a Mississippi court to regain custody of her infant daughter.

Cirila Baltazar Cruz comes from the mountainous southern state of Oaxaca, a region of Mexico that makes Appalachia look affluent. To escape the destitution in her village of 1,500 mostly Chatino Indians, Baltazar Cruz, 34, migrated earlier this decade to the U.S., hoping to send money back to two children she'd left in her mother's care. She found work at a Chinese restaurant on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

But Baltazar Cruz speaks only Chatino, barely any Spanish and no English. Last November, she went to Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Miss., where she lives, to give birth to a baby girl, Rubí. According to documents obtained by the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger, the hospital called the state Department of Human Services (DHS), which ruled that Baltazar Cruz was an unfit mother in part because her lack of English "placed her unborn child in danger and will place the baby in danger in the future." . . .

August 29, 2009 in In the Courts, Parenthood, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Study Examines Effects of Premature Birth on Parents

NY Times: For Parents on NICU, Trauma May Last, by Laurie Tarkan:

Kim Roscoe’s son, Jaxon, was born three months early, weighing two and a half pounds....About three months after her son’s birth, Ms. Roscoe asked to see a psychiatrist. She was given a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D. — a mental illness more often associated with surviving war, car accidents and assaults, but now being recognized in parents of premature infants in prolonged intensive care.

A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine, published in the journal Psychosomatics, followed 18 such parents, both men and women. After four months, three had diagnoses of P.T.S.D. and seven were considered at high risk for the disorder....

“The NICU was very much like a war zone, with the alarms, the noises, and death and sickness,” Ms. Roscoe said. “You don’t know who’s going to die and who will go home healthy.”

Experts say parents of NICU infants experience multiple traumas, beginning with the early delivery, which is often unexpected....

In one study of rural African-Americans, those who were at greater risk of post-traumatic stress reported more problems in their daily lives, like financial trouble or lack of a partner, said the study’s author, Diane Holditch-Davis, a professor at Duke University School of Nursing. One of the biggest problems for these parents is coping after they finally leave the NICU.

August 28, 2009 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Race & Reproduction, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Effort to Mandate Protected Sex in Porn Industry Faces Resistance

Broadsheet ( Porn's last taboo: Protected sex, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

Condoms The industry is resisting a push for condom-only smut and not just because it makes far less money

You won't find "Debbie Does Condoms" or "Jenna Loves Prophylactics" on offer from any of the major porn studios, but that could all change thanks to an ongoing campaign to require rubbers in hardcore flicks. From the outside, it seems a rather admirable way to protect porn actors from the consumer push for risky bareback porn, as I wrote a couple months back. The approach seems basically humanist – or even feminist, considering that female porn actors are most at risk for contracting HIV in straight porn. But, I'm finding that there are actually some Magnum-sized issues with such legislation. Late last week, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation filed an official complaint against 16 pornographers for producing films featuring unprotected sex and promised to raise hell until condoms are mandated throughout the industry. . . .

August 28, 2009 in Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Town Hall Meetings Replete with Protests about Subsidized Abortions

Wash. Post: Abortion is New Front in Health Battle, by Fawn Johnson & Laura Meckler:

WASHINGTON -- Anti-abortion groups are gearing up for a battle in the fall over health-care legislation, another headache for Democrats who already face concerns about the measure's cost and reach.

Most versions of the Democratic health plan would create subsidies for lower-income people to buy private health insurance. If that insurance includes coverage for abortion, as many existing private plans do, it effectively means federal taxpayers are subsidizing abortion, critics of the legislation argue.

While it gets less attention than some other parts of the plan, abortion has often been raised by critics at town-hall meetings during the August congressional recess. . . .

Anti-abortion activists have attended town-hall meetings and plan to hold prayer vigils in front of lawmakers' district offices before the legislators return to Washington in September. At a town-hall meeting Tuesday night by Rep. Jim Moran (D., Va.), police ejected anti-abortion activist Randall Terry for disrupting the proceedings, to competing shouts of "We won't pay for murder!" and "Kick him out!" . . .

August 28, 2009 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Supreme Court Affirms Employee's Termination for Taking Unauthorized Breaks to Pump Breast Milk

Broadsheet ( Lactate on your own time, lady, by Kate Harding:

The Ohio Supreme Court affirms the right of Totes/Isotoner to fire a woman for pumping breast milk as necessary

Baby Bottle On Thursday, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed that Totes/Isotoner had the right to fire breastfeeding mother LaNisa Allen for taking breaks to pump milk. Yeah, you read that right. Timothy P. Reilly, attorney for Totes/Isotoner, told the Columbus Dispatch, "Totes has taken the position since the beginning of this case that it terminated the plaintiff (Allen) for a proper reason, and that's that she took unauthorized work breaks, regardless of her sex or condition." Because unauthorized pumping, clearly, can be divorced from one's "sex or condition." This would be the rare instance in which I find myself tempted to type "LOL," except the Supreme Court used essentially the same reasoning: It was on Allen to prove that the stated cause for her dismissal (failure to follow directions) was a pretext for discrimination, and technically, she didn't. Ergo, the court decided not to bother addressing the thornier question of whether lactation counts as a pregnancy-related condition, which would be protected under the state's anti-discrimination laws. . . .

August 28, 2009 in In the Courts, Parenthood, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

NY Will Become Sixth State to Ban Use of Shackles on Pregnant Prisoners

The 37-year-old was in a maximum-security prison for violating parole. An officer told her the use of restraints on pregnant inmates was “procedure.’’

“I’m saying to myself, ‘I feel like a pregnant animal,’ ’’ said Pinckney, who was taken from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility to a hospital for the birth of her son last year.

At state prisons around the country, jailed women are routinely shackled during childbirth, often by correctional staff without medical training, according to civil rights organizations and prisoner advocates. The practice has been condemned by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for unnecessarily risking women’s health, and court challenges are pending in several states.

Federal prisons and five states largely ban shackling pregnant women in prison. Governor David Paterson is expected to sign a law this week that would make New York the sixth state to do so. . . .

Several lawsuits challenging the practice are pending throughout the country.

August 27, 2009 in Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senator Edward M. Kennedy Dies at 77

NY Times: Obituary: Edward M. Kennedy, by John M. Broder:

Ted Kennedy Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew acclaim and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77.

The death of Mr. Kennedy, who had been battling brain cancer, was announced Wednesday morning in a statement by the Kennedy family, which was already mourning the death of the senator’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver two weeks earlier.

“Edward M. Kennedy — the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply — died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port,” the statement said. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever.”

President Obama said Mr. Kennedy was one of the nation’s greatest senators....

National Abortion Federation Press Release:

National Abortion Federation Mourns the Loss of Senator Kennedy

Statement of Cathleen M. Mahoney, Executive Vice President of the National Abortion Federation (NAF):

Today, we join the nation in mourning the loss of a great American statesman, Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Our condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.

Throughout his distinguished career, Senator Kennedy fought for those Americans most in need. His tireless advocacy and leadership led to the passage of historic legislation that has challenged discrimination, protected workers, and preserved civil liberties. His long tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee helped ensure that our nation’s judges continue to protect the Constitution and the civil rights of all Americans.  He was also a leading voice for health care reform and devoted his final years to this work despite being diagnosed with a debilitating illness.

Senator Kennedy was a true champion for women’s equality and reproductive rights. He was instrumental in the passage of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which has helped keep abortion providers and their patients safe.  His tireless advocacy during more than 40 years in the Senate for the rights of women and health care providers will certainly be missed.

As we mourn the loss of this great American, we call on Senator Kennedy’s colleagues in Congress to remember his words that “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives” and to continue his life’s work in honor of his dedication to this country and the American people.

August 27, 2009 in Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Public Caning of Malaysian Woman is Delayed

NY Times: Malaysian Authorities Postpone Whipping of Malaysian Woman, by Thomas Fuller:

Flag Malaysian authorities gave a last-minute, temporary reprieve on Monday to a Muslim woman sentenced to whipping for drinking alcohol in a case that has stirred passions over the increasingly strict enforcement of Islamic law in recent years in the multicultural country. Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old nurse who confessed to violating Islamic laws by drinking beer in a hotel lobby last year, was picked up by prison authorities on Monday but was then quickly released. The authorities said Ms. Kartika’s punishment — which would be the first whipping for a woman under the country’s Islamic laws — would be carried out in September, after the Muslim holy month of Ramdan was over...

On paper, Islamic laws are strict in Malaysia: Muslims can be arrested and punished for snacking during the daylight hours of fasting during Ramadan, being in “close proximity” to someone from the opposite sex who is not their spouse, and drinking alcohol. But enforcement of Islamic law has been haphazard and many Muslims flout the laws with impunity...

Malaysia’s Islamic laws, which cover marriage, divorce and a specific range of issues related to religious customs, only apply to Muslims. Non-Muslims are subject to the country’s civil laws, which Malaysia inherited from Britain. Foreign Muslim tourists visiting the country, however, are subject to Islamic laws, according to Pawancheek Marican, partner at the law firm Wan Marican, Hamzah & Shaik and a part-time professor of Islamic studies.

August 26, 2009 in Current Affairs, International, Religion, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marie Claire Publishes Two Women's Stories in "Abortion Debate" Feature

Marie Claire: The Abortion Debate: What Would You Do?:

Holly Rossiter was pregnant with her second child when doctors discovered that, once born, it would quickly die. How could she bear to keep carrying it?
My first pregnancy was a breeze. I hung out at the beach near our Orange County home and exercised right up to the birth. My biggest complaint? I was too huge to lie on my stomach. Once the baby was 18 months old, my husband, Mike, and I began to plan for another. He was a law student, rising at dawn and not getting home until dinnertime, and I'd given up my full-time job as a preschool teacher to raise our daughter, Elise, and to work part-time as a nanny. Even though we were living paycheck to paycheck, we wanted to expand our family.

I became pregnant in July 2006, and at 18 weeks, I went for my first ultrasound. . . .

August 26, 2009 in Abortion, In the Media, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Obama Discusses Health Reform and Abortion Coverage on Conservative Radio Show

LA Times: Obama tries to 'cut through the noise' on heathcare, by Christi Parsons and Mark Silva:

The president appears on Michael Smerconish's radio show and speaks to Democratic supporters, highlighting a communications challenge on his reform effort.

I'm scared out of my mind talking to you here," Joe from Philadelphia blurted out as he was connected to President Obama during a conservative radio talk show devoted to healthcare Thursday. But when it came to his comment, Joe did not hold back.

"I'm getting a little ticked off that it feels like the knees are buckling a little bit," the caller said, suggesting the president had begun to wobble in the face of pressure from conservative critics.

"You have an overwhelming majority in both the House and the Senate, and you own the whole shooting match," Joe said. "It's very frustrating to watch you try and compromise with a lot of these people who aren't willing to compromise with you."

Appearing on host Michael Smerconish's call-in show, broadcast from the White House, Obama told Joe not to worry. "I guarantee," he said, "we are going to get healthcare reform done." . . . .

Obama also said during the webcast that "there are no plans under health reform to revoke the existing prohibition on using federal taxpayer dollars for abortions." That's an accurate statement, because neither the House nor Senate versions contains a requirement that federal funding be made available for abortions. Still, the legislation is short on many details and, depending on how regulations are written, some women with federally subsidized insurance might be able to buy plans that cover abortions. . . .

August 25, 2009 in Abortion, In the Media, Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion Pill Has Not Improved Geographic Access to Abortion

Guttmacher Institute news release: Expectations that Abortion Pill Would Dramatically Improve Abortion Access Have Not Been Realized

While Becoming an Integral Part of Abortion Provision, Mifepristone Has Not Expanded Geographic Access 

Abortion Pill Prior to FDA approval in 2000, mifepristone for medication abortion was described as having the potential to change the nature of abortion provision in the United States. There was an expectation that abortion would become more easily accessible, particularly in rural areas without a surgical abortion provider. But new research published in the September 2009 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology suggests that, although use of mifepristone has become widespread and has contributed to the shift toward earlier abortions, its use has not improved women’s geographic access to abortion services.

“Effect of Mifepristone on Abortion Access in the United States,” by Lawrence B. Finer and Junhow Wei of the Guttmacher Institute, found that both the number of medication abortions and the number of providers offering mifepristone increased dramatically between 2000 and 2007, even as the total number of abortions performed in the United States declined steadily over this period. In 2007, 902 providers performed 158,000 mifepristone abortions, which represented an estimated 21% of eligible abortions performed that year. However, the authors also found that most medication abortions were performed at or near facilities that also provided surgical abortions.

“While many in the reproductive health field believed approval of mifepristone would expand access to abortion services, particularly in rural areas, that has not happened to any significant extent,” said Dr. Finer. “Instead, almost a decade later, we find that women in areas that already had access to abortion now have the choice between a medication or a surgical abortion. But for most women who were not easily able to access an abortion provider before mifepristone became available, services remain difficult to obtain.” . . .

August 25, 2009 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYC Miles for Midwives to be Held October 3, 2009

Choices in Childbirth and the American College of Nurse-Midwives sponsor Miles for Midwives on October 3, 2009:

Running 2 Every year, New York City celebrates the dedication and skill of our midwives with Miles for Midwives, an annual charity run/walk. Sponsored this year by Choices in Childbirth and the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the event will raise money to ensure quality midwifery care in New York City. Quality care create healthy families, and healthy families create healthy communities. The run/walk is five kilometers long - one loop of Brooklyn's Prospect Park - and it's a fun, relaxed event for community members of all ages. There will be medals for place winners, t-shirts for early registrants, and be sure to stay for the picnic after the race!  Register online at Miles for Midwives or at Prospect Park on the day.

Date: Saturday, October 03, 2009 @ 10:00 AM local time

Address: Prospect Park Bartel-Pritchard Square, 15th Street and Prospect Park West

August 25, 2009 in Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Joseph Dellapenna on Abortion and Choice of Law

Joseph W. Dellapenna (Villanova University School of Law) has posted Abortion Against State Lines on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Villanova In this Article, I propose to analyze conflicts of law precedents and theory to explore the extent to which a state can apply its law on abortion to abortions performed outside the state but bearing a significant connection to the state. In attempting to resolve such questions, we enter into the domain of choice of law, part of the field of conflicts of law. This domain is notoriously unstable and contested. This instability allows legal commentators to project their attitudes towards abortion (and many other matters) in analyzing and construing the relevant authorities to resolve choice of law issues. I shall strive to avoid doing that, but it is for others to decide whether I succeed. I begin in Part I by examining why differences among states regarding abortion policy arise and why those difference are likely to persist. I then proceed in Part II by describing choice of law theory generally. In Part III, I examine the application of choice of law theory to litigation involving differing abortion laws in different states. I conclude in Part IV that states can apply their laws to their citizens when they travel out of the state in an effort to avoid abortion restrictions.

August 25, 2009 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Report Recommends Pregnant Women Consider Therapy Before Drugs for Depression

Wall St. Journal: For Moms, Therapy Beats Drugs, by Shirley Wang:

Pregnant women suffering from depression should consider psychotherapy before taking antidepressant medications, according to the first comprehensive treatment recommendations issued on the subject.

But the risk of the mother's untreated depression to the unborn child also should be taken into account in making the decision, said the report from the American Psychiatric Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Depressed expectant mothers may experience more stress and take care of themselves more poorly than women without depression, which can affect the development of their unborn children. . . . 

August 25, 2009 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 24, 2009

CDC Considers Promoting Circumcision to Fight Risk of H.I.V.

NY Times: Officials Weigh Circumcision to Fight H.I.V. Risk, by Roni Caryn Rabin:

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.

Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. . . . 

For now, the focus of public health officials in this country appears to be on making recommendations for newborns, a prevention strategy that would only pay off many years from now. Critics say it subjects baby boys to medically unnecessary surgery without their consent. . . .

August 24, 2009 in Medical News, Men and Reproduction, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Following Pregnancy Weight-Gain Guidelines Can Increase Risk of Heavy Infants

Daily Women's Health Policy Report: Pregnancy Weight Gain Guidelines Might Raise Risk of Large, Heavier Infants, Study Finds:

The recommended weight gain of 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy can increase women's risk for giving birth to infants that are large for gestational age -- LGA -- or have excessively high birthweights -- known as macrosomia -- according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reuters reports. The study also found that prepregnancy body mass index appears to affect the association between LGA and weight gain, but BMI does not affect the link between macrosomia and weight gain. . . .

For women who gained 26 to 35 pounds, the risk for macrosomia increased 1.5 times relative to the risk for women who gained 15 to 25 pounds. A 36- to 45-pound weight gain increased the risk 2.1 times, while the risk increased 3.9 times for women who gained 46 pounds or more. . . .

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

New York Times Magazine Publishes Special Issue on Global Women's Rights

This Sunday's New York Times Magazine is a special issue on international women's rights, Why Women's Rights Are the Cause of Our Time. The cover story, The Women's Crusade, is adapted from a book by Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof and former Times correspondent Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which will be published in September. In the book, Kristof and WuDunn write that the "paramount moral challenge" of the twenty-first century is "the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape." They write, "Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater."

The issue also includes an interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by Mark Landler, and other articles about women's rights and related issues.  In addition, the Times website features an audio slide show.

August 23, 2009 in Culture, International, Poverty, Sexual Assault, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review of "Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage"

Tuned In (Time Magazine): The Morning After: Eight Is Too Much, by James Poniewozik:

This is not something a good TV critic likes to admit, but I made liberal use of the fast-forward button watching last night's special Octomom: The Incredible Unseen Footage. I have an excuse, in that I had a Top Chef writeup to do, but also enough of the show was devoted to Suleman's unhinged 911 calls that I could blessedly speed through and read the captions.

This creepy, dispiriting special was the perfect show to watch on DVR, actually. If you recorded it, you may want to zip through and simply watch the commercials.

If there was any hope that the show, mainly using access Nadya Suleman granted to Radar Online, would show her as a misunderstood, sympathetic figure, it quickly vanished. Pitiable, yes. In need of help, probably. But sympathetic, no. I don't want to join in the pile-on of judgment on her decision to bear eight in vitro children on top of the six she already implanted had as a single mom—at this point the judgment pretty much takes care of itself, and Fox's special only added to the evidence. . . . 

August 20, 2009 in Fertility, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Backers of Oklahoma Ultrasound Law Vow to Appeal

NY Times: Abortion Law Backers Vow Oklahoma Appeal, by James C. McKinley, Jr.:

HOUSTON — A day after a judge struck down an Oklahoma law requiring women seeking an abortion to see an ultrasound of the fetus and listen to a description of its attributes, the state said it would appeal the ruling, and Republican lawmakers vowed to pass the law again in a different form.

While advocates of abortion rights celebrated the victory in court, they acknowledged the fight against one of the most sweeping anti-abortion laws in the country was likely to continue for months in the Legislature and before the State Supreme Court. . . .

Republican legislative leaders said that if the state did not win on appeal, they would break the law into five bills and pass them in the session that begins in February.

August 20, 2009 in Abortion, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)