Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Senate Committee Reinstates $50 Million in Funding for Discredited Abstinence-Only Education

The Gaggle (Newsweek): Abstinence-Only Education is Back, by Katie Connolly:

After weeks of railing against the price tag of health care reform, Senate Republicans managed to bond over pumping up the budget for one aspect of health care reform yesterday: abstinence-only education. Proposed by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch the amendment reinstates $50 million in funding for abstinence only education that President Obama had previously removed in his budget proposal earlier this year. Committee Republicans were joined by Blanche Lincoln (D. Ark) and Kent Conrad (D. ND) in voting up the measure, which passed 12-11.

I've been trying to think of a measured way to riff on this, but instead I'll be frank. It's an absolute waste of money. This is the sort of thing Republicans usually wail about - the federal government propping up a program where there is no evidence that said program works. Indeed, there's a mounting body of evidence that abstinence-only education is a categorical failure.

September 30, 2009 in Congress, Politics, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senate Committee Rejects Republican Amendments to Restrict Abortion Coverage

CNN: Senate panel rejects GOP bid to strengthen abortion provision:


Republican amendments that Democrats said would broaden current restrictions on federal funding for abortion were defeated Wednesday by a Senate committee considering the only compromise health care bill so far.

By identical 13-10 votes, the Senate Finance Committee defeated the amendments by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

In both votes, all but one Democrat on the panel, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota, voted against the amendments. All Republicans except for Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, the only women among the GOP committee members, supported them.

September 30, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nicolette Priaulx on Tysiac v. Poland and Abortion Jurisprudence

Nicolette M. Priaulx (University of Wales System, Cardiff Law School) has posted Testing the Margin of Appreciation: Therapeutic Abortion, Reproductive Rights and the Intriguing Case of Tysiąc v. Poland on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Nicolette Priaulx

In Tysiac v. Poland (2007) the Strasbourg Court ruled in favour of the applicant (who had been denied access to a lawful therapeutic abortion), finding that Poland had failed to comply with its positive obligations to safeguard the applicant's right to effective respect for her private life under Article 8. Exploring this controversial judgment, the author assesses the claim that Tysiac marks a 'radical shift' on the part of the Court in creating a 'right to abortion'. The author argues that while Tysiac makes an important addition to abortion jurisprudence, the notion it founds such a 'right' greatly overstates the legal significance of this case.

See also this post from last week on another court case involving Tysiac: Polish Court Awards Damages Against Catholic Magazine for Vilifying Polish Woman Who Sought Abortion

September 30, 2009 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts, International, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Health Care Debate Mired in Abortion Issue

NY Times: Abortion Fight Complicates Debate on Health Care, by David D. Kirkpatrick:

WASHINGTON — As if it were not complicated enough, the debate over health care in Congress is becoming a battlefield in the fight over abortion.

Abortion opponents in both the House and the Senate are seeking to block the millions of middle- and lower-income people who might receive federal insurance subsidies to help them buy health coverage from using the money on plans that cover abortion. And the abortion opponents are getting enough support from moderate Democrats that both sides say the outcome is too close to call. Opponents of abortion cite as precedent a 30-year-old ban on the use of taxpayer money to pay for elective abortions.

Abortion-rights supporters say such a restriction would all but eliminate from the marketplace private plans that cover the procedure, pushing women who have such coverage to give it up. Nearly half of those with employer-sponsored health plans now have policies that cover abortion, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. . . .

Also, via Planned Parenthood:

The health care debate has come down to one thing: abortion. Anti-choice lawmakers want to do more than keep currently uninsured women from gaining access to comprehensive health care — as unconscionable as that is on its own. Their goal is to force all plans within the insurance exchange — including private plans that individuals pay for on their own — to deny coverage for abortion.

If our opponents are successful, access to abortion will be practically eliminated in health care reform. And without access, there is no choice. The consequences for women, for our rights, and for our health care, are dire. They're dangerously close to getting their way.

To take action, visit the Planned Parenthood Action Center.

September 30, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Researchers and Advocates Voice Health Concerns Over Yaz and Yasmin Birth Control Pills

NY Times: Health Concerns Over Popular Contraceptives, by Natasha Singer:

The oral contraceptives Yaz and Yasmin are the top-selling pharmaceutical line for Bayer HealthCare, largely as a result of marketing that presents them as much more than mere pregnancy prevention.

Yaz, in particular, the top-selling birth control pill in the United States, owes much of its popularity to multimillion-dollar ad campaigns that have promoted the drug as a quality-of-life treatment to combat acne and severe premenstrual depression.

Yaz, a newer sister drug to Yasmin, contains less estrogen. The franchise had worldwide sales of about $1.8 billion last year, based on Bayer’s successful positioning of Yasmin and Yaz as the go-to drug brands for women under 35.

But recently, the Yaz line’s image has been clouded by concerns from some researchers, health advocates and plaintiffs’ lawyers. They say that the drugs put women at higher risk for blood clots, strokes and other health problems than some other birth control pills do. . . . 

September 28, 2009 in Contraception, Medical News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Charles Camosy on Surgical Abortion and the Moral Status of Potential Persons

Charles Camosy (Theology, Fordham University) has posted Common Ground on Surgical Abortion?-Engaging Peter Singer on the Moral Status of Potential Persons on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:


The debate over surgical abortion is certainly one of the most divisive in ethical discourse and for many it seems interminable. However, this paper argues that a primary reason for this is confusion with regard to what issues are actually under dispute. When looking at an entrenched and articulate figure on one side of the debate, Peter Singer, and comparing his views with those of his opponents, one finds that the disputed issue is actually quite a narrow one: the moral status of potential persons. Finding this common ground clears the conceptual space for a fruitful argument: the thesis of which is that most, including Singer, who argue that potential persons do not have full personal moral status fail to make the necessary distinction between natural potential (which confers moral status) and practical potential (which admittedly does not).

September 28, 2009 in Abortion, Bioethics, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 25, 2009

South Dakota Appeals U.S. District Court Decision on its Informed Consent Law

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota appealing judge's ruling in abortion case:

Attorney General Marty Jackley is appealing a judge’s ruling which struck down portions of South Dakota’s law on informed consent for abortion.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier last month said doctors should not have to tell pregnant women that abortion increases the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts or that they enjoy a legally protected relationship with their unborn children. She found suicide is not a known risk.

Jackley wants those issues heard on appeal and by the full court of appeals rather than a three-judge panel, according to a news release.

Schreier’s ruling upheld a provision of the law which said abortions “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living, human being.”

September 25, 2009 in Abortion, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Polish Court Awards Damages Against Catholic Magazine for Vilifying Polish Woman Who Sought Abortion

BBC News: Award for Poland abortion woman:

Gavel & scales

A Polish court has awarded $11,000 (7,400 euros) in damages to a woman likened to a child killer by a Catholic magazine for wanting an abortion.

The article also compared abortion to the experiments of Nazi war criminals at Auschwitz.

Alicja Tysiac had been warned by doctors when she became pregnant that she could go blind if she had her baby.

But she was denied an abortion - illegal in most cases in Poland - and her eyesight subsequently deteriorated.

(By the way, how about this article's headline?  "Abortion woman?")

See also: Catholic News Agency: Catholic weekly in Poland fined for questioning 'award' granted to woman who sought illegal abortion.

September 25, 2009 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sen. Kennedy's Replacement Is a Pro-Choice Catholic

Faith & Reason (USA Today): Kennedy's Senate seat goes to a Catholic who's favored abortion rights, by Cathy Lynn Grossman:

Paul Kirk has never held elective office before and, in five months, the man named Thursday to stand in for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy will be replaced by the winner of a special election.

So why might anti-abortion rights group be displeased with his appointment?

After all, Kirk is practically Boston Catholic royalty....

September 25, 2009 in Abortion, Congress, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Sets New Guidelines for Pregnant Women Traveling by Air

Wash. Post: Should Pregnant Women Fly?, by Rob Stein:


Is it safe for a pregnant woman to travel by air? According to some new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) the answer is yes--with a few caveats.

This week, the group released the first update of its guidelines on air travel for pregnant women since 2001, and for the first time addresses concerns about exposure to cosmic radiation during flights.

According to the guidelines, the longest intercontinental flights will expose passengers to no more than 15 percent of the recommended limit of cosmic radiation exposure set by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and the International Commission on Radiological Protection. While women who work as part of flight crews or are frequent fliers may exceed the recommended exposure limit, that would not be the case for most women, the group concludes. . . . 

September 25, 2009 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Huffington Post Compiles List of "Craziest Birth Stories of All Time"

Huffington Post: The 19 Pound Baby and 9 More of The Craziest Birth Stories Of All Time:

This has been an interesting week for mothers of the world. News broke that an Indonesian woman gave birth to a 19 pound baby boy--the biggest in the country's history. At the same time reports of a pregnant women who became pregnant AGAIN surfaced, prompting us to compile a list of the craziest birth stories of all time.

September 25, 2009 in In the Media, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Suggests Why Babies Born in Winter Months Face Greater Challenges

Wall St. Journal: New Light on the Plight of Winter Babies, by Justin Lahart:

Researchers Stumble Upon Alternative Explanation for the Lifelong Challenges Faced by Children Born in Colder Months


Children born in the winter months already have a few strikes against them. Study after study has shown that they test poorly, don't get as far in school, earn less, are less healthy, and don't live as long as children born at other times of year. Researchers have spent years documenting the effect and trying to understand it.

But economists Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman at the University of Notre Dame may have uncovered an overlooked explanation for why season of birth matters.

Their discovery challenges the validity of past research and highlights how seemingly safe assumptions economists make may overlook key causes of curious effects. And they came across it by accident. . . . 

September 25, 2009 in Medical News, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guttmacher Institute Releases Data on How the Recession has Affected Reproductive Decisions

Guttmacher Institute news release: Recession has Dramatically Reshaped Women's Childbearing Desires:

Amid Growing Concerns About Unemployment and Health Care, Many Women Have Trouble Meeting Contraceptive Needs


After months of anecdotal reports, a survey released today provides the first hard evidence of the recession’s impact on women’s contraceptive use and childbearing decisions. Researchers at the Guttmacher Institute found that because of current economic concerns, nearly half of women surveyed want to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they have—and for about half of these women, the recession has heightened the focus on effective contraceptive use. But for many, economic hardship means having to skimp on their contraceptive use, for example, by stretching their monthly supply of pills or shifting to a less expensive method—or not using birth control at all—in order to save money. Nearly one in four women have put off a gynecologic or birth control visit in the past year to save money, and the same proportion report having a harder time paying for birth control than they did in the past.

The report “A Real-Time Look at the Impact of the Recession on Women’s Family Planning and Pregnancy Decisions” found that more than one in four women surveyed or their partners have lost jobs or health insurance in the past year, and that 52% say they are financially worse off than they were a year ago. . . .

September 25, 2009 in Contraception, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Naomi Cahn & June Carbone on Access to Contraception

Naomi Cahn (George Washington University Law School) and June Carbone (University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law) have posted Contraception: Securing Feminism's Promise on SSRN. Here is the abstract:



This paper traces the history of attempts to restrict contraception, the legal events securing widespread access to contraception and their importance to a generation of college-aged women, the short-lived nature of the consensus that produced them, and the potential of the issue to serve as a rallying point for a revitalized feminism. It explores the hypocrisy of a system that, whatever its values, makes reproductive autonomy readily available for the affluent and the sophisticated and increasingly beyond the reach of the most vulnerable. Finally, it considers the potential of contraception as a reframing device, capable of exposing the hypocrisy of family values advocates whose policies disproportionately hurt the most vulnerable.

September 25, 2009 in Contraception, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Investing in Girls' Education Would Help to Increase Global Prosperity (Broadsheet): It takes girls to raise a village, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

Developing countries lose billions each year by ignoring girls' potential, a report says

It might seem a bad omen for the release of a report on the global importance of educating girls to coincide with reports of a bomb destroying a coed elementary school Tuesday in Afghanistan. But, while the news comes as a reminder of the extreme challenges facing girls' education worldwide, Plan International's report "Because I Am a Girl: The State of the World's Girls 2009" makes a strong case for why it's a fight worth fighting.

The report found that "there are over 500 million adolescent girls and young women in developing countries who could and should play a crucial part in the next generation's economic and social development -- but many do not have the opportunities for education or worthwhile economic activity. . . .

September 23, 2009 in International, Poverty, Teenagers and Children, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Call for Presenters and Papers: Sixth Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law

The Future of the Family: Modern Challenges in Adoption Law:

Conference is March 11, 2010 at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio

The conference is seeking proposals for presentations and papers emphasizing the following themes: 

(1) The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Families
(2) The Impact of Artificial Reproduction on Families
(3) Overcoming Barriers to the Creation of Families for Members of the LGBT Community

Participants are asked to a lead a panel discussion on one of the topics above.  Each topic will have 3-4 panel members who will present 30-45 minutes each, with discussion to follow.  In addition, participants are requested to prepare an article associated with their presentation for publication in the Capital University Law Review next year.  The article would be due on September 1, 2010.

Please send your proposals to the Wells Conference Committee Chair, Alisa Hardy ([email protected]) by October 16, 2009.

September 22, 2009 in Conferences and Symposia, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WLPPFP and LAWA Fellowship Program Now Accepting Applications

Invitation for Applications for WLPPFP and LAWA Fellowships at Georgetown Law:

Each year the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program (WLPPFP) at the Georgetown University Law Center offers fellowship positions providing educational and professional development opportunities for attorneys who are dedicated to using their legal talents to advance women's rights.  We offer two types of fellowships.  One type focuses on a 12 month work experience, where fellows from the United States work on women's legal issues with a public interest organization, a governmental agency, or as a clinical teaching fellow at Georgetown Law.  The other type is our Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellowship, where women's rights lawyers from Africa earn a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from Georgetown Law focusing on international women’s human rights, and then participate in a post-graduation summer legal internship experience before returning home after the fellowship to continue advancing women’s rights in their own countries.  Although each fellowship experience is unique, all of our fellows learn together about substantive women’s rights issues, explore a multitude of career paths through which they can advocate for women’s equality, and develop their legal skills through seminars, trainings, networking events and other activities provided by WLPPFP.


Women's Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program
600 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
Hotung 5024A
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 662-9650
Email: [email protected]

Please note:  due to limited staffing and the high volume of applications we receive, we regret that we are unable to notify applicants who are not awarded a Fellowship position, or to respond to inquiries from applicants (although questions specifically about the Domestic Violence Clinical Fellowships may be directed to the Domestic Violence Clinic at 202-662-9640).

More information available here.

September 22, 2009 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Babies in China Stolen From Parents for Foreign Adoption

LA Times: Chinese babies stolen by officials for foreign adoption, by Barbara Demick:

In some rural areas, instead of levying fines for violations of China's child policies, greedy officials took babies, which would each fetch $3,000 in adoption fees.

China's Flag

The man from family planning liked to prowl around the mountaintop village, looking for diapers on clotheslines and listening for the cry of a hungry newborn. One day in the spring of 2004, he presented himself at Yang Shuiying's doorstep and commanded: "Bring out the baby."

Yang wept and argued, but, alone with her 4-month-old daughter, she was in no position to resist the man every parent in Tianxi feared.

"I'm going to sell the baby for foreign adoption. I can get a lot of money for her," he told the sobbing mother as he drove her with the baby to an orphanage in Zhenyuan, a nearby city in the southern province of Guizhou. In return, he promised that the family wouldn't have to pay fines for violating China's one-child policy.

Then he warned her: "Don't tell anyone about it."...

September 22, 2009 in International, Parenthood | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jamal Greene on the Court's Shift from Privacy to Liberty

Jamal Greene (Columbia University School of Law) has posted The So-Called Right to Privacy on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Jamal Greene

The constitutional right to privacy has been a conservative bugaboo ever since Justice Douglas introduced it into the United States Reports in Griswold v. Connecticut. Reference to the 'so-called' right to privacy has become code for the view that the right is doctrinally recognized but not in fact constitutionally enshrined. This Article argues that the constitutional right to privacy is no more. The two rights most associated historically with the right to privacy are abortion and intimate sexual conduct, yet Gonzales v. Carhart and Lawrence v. Texas made clear that neither of these rights is presently justified by its proponents on the Court as aspects of constitutional privacy. Other rights that might be protected by a constitutional right to privacy, such as the right to refuse medical treatment or the right to assisted suicide, are either justified on liberty grounds or are not constitutionally protected at all. The Court’s move from privacy to liberty as a constitutional basis for the freedom to make fundamental life decisions strengthens the rights themselves by anchoring them to constitutional text in a text-happy era, and represents a victory for Justice Stevens, who has long advocated such a shift.

September 22, 2009 in Abortion, Law School, Scholarship and Research, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Domestic Violence and the Health Care Debate

The Huffington Post: When Getting Beaten By Your Husband is a Pre-Existing Position, by Ryan Grim:

Patty Murray

With the White House zeroing in on the insurance-industry practice of discriminating against clients based on pre-existing conditions, administration allies are calling attention to how broadly insurers interpret the term to maximize profits.

It turns out that in eight states, plus the District of Columbia, getting beaten up by your spouse is a pre-existing condition.

Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you're more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.

In human terms, it's a second punishment for a victim of domestic violence...

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) pushed to include the domestic violence concern in this year's comprehensive health care bill. "Senator Murray continues to believe that victims of domestic violence should not be punished for the crimes of their abusers. That is why she worked to include language in the Senate HELP Committee's health insurance reform bill that would ban this discriminatory and harmful insurance company practice," said spokesman Eli Zupnick.

September 22, 2009 in Congress, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)