Friday, January 29, 2010

Relief Efforts in Haiti and Women's Reproductive Health

Guttmacher Institute news release: Haiti Relief Efforts Cannot Afford to Overlook Reproductive Health Needs:

Haiti Following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, relief agencies, multilateral institutions and governments are increasingly shifting their focus from emergency response to longer term relief, rebuilding and development efforts. Given the scale of the disaster, many thousands of Haitians will likely be forced to live in camps or other makeshift arrangements for years, if not decades, to come. During this time of displacement, the health and lives of Haiti’s women and girls—many of whom were already in a precarious situation because of poverty or low social status—are threatened by severe living conditions, including the virtual absence of reproductive health services.

Most immediately, there is an urgent need for clean delivery kits to ensure that childbirth is safe for mothers and their newborns. Likewise, displaced women and girls are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation, and proper care—including emergency contraception and HIV prophylaxis—must be made widely available to any victims of sexual violence. Also, the many Haitian women who find themselves cut off from their usual sources for family planning services and supplies, including condoms, must be provided with free contraceptives. A failure to address these needs heightens the risk for unwanted pregnancy and botched abortion, HIV and other STIs, and high-risk, life-threatening pregnancies and childbirth. . . .

January 29, 2010 in Contraception, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scott Roeder Found Guilty in Murder of Dr. Tiller

Read the story here.

January 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jury Reaches Verdict in Trial for Murder of Dr. Tiller

The Associated Press is reporting that the jury has reached a verdict in the trial of Scott Roeder.  See the story here.

Other articles on the trial (not yet reporting on the verdict):

NY Times: Doctor’s Killer Puts Abortion on the Stand, by Monica Davey

CNN: Reluctantly, Wichita returns to front lines of abortion battle, by Emanuella Grinberg

January 29, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Center for Reproductive Rights Urges CBS to Its Reconsider Super Bowl Ad

The Huffington Post: Center for Reproductive Rights' Letter to CBS: Tebow Story Raises Serious Accuracy Questions, by Nancy Northup:

 CRR We are writing to request that CBS reconsider its decision to air an advertisement by the anti-choice group Focus on the Family, featuring Pam and Timothy Tebow during Super Bowl XLIV.

. . .  We believe it is essential that you determine whether the proposed Tebow advertisement meets CBS's own standards with regard to accuracy and advocacy . . .

Past media coverage of the Tebows suggests that the ad may present a misleading picture of the reality of abortion in the Philippines. In 2007, the Gainsville Sun reported that Pam Tebow was living and working as a missionary in the Philippines in 1987 when she was pregnant with her son Tim. According to the Sun story, doctors encouraged Mrs. Tebow to terminate her pregnancy because she had suffered a medical condition that endangered her health and the pregnancy.

Abortion was criminalized in the Philippines in 1870. It has been illegal ever since. Filipino law does not contain a single exception to its abortion ban - not even to save the life of the pregnant woman or to protect her health. Indeed, in 1987 - the year in question in the advertisement - the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines succeeded in making the Philippines constitution the first ever to recognize a government obligation to protect "the life of the unborn from conception."

. . . Given this context, it raises questions about whether physicians in the Philippines would have urged a married pregnant woman to illegally terminate her pregnancy in 1987. Attached is a brief factsheet further detailing the situation in the Philippines and the abuses women suffer as a result of its draconian anti-abortion laws and stigmatizing legal and political climate. . . .

January 28, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media, Television | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Bridget Crawford on Surrogacy and Taxation

Bridget J. Crawford (Pace University School of Law) has posted Taxation, Pregnancy and Privacy on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Crawford This Article frames a discussion of surrogacy within the context of existing income tax laws. A surrogate receives money for carrying and bearing a child. This payment is income by any definition, even if the surrogacy contract recites that it is a “reimbursement.” Cases and rulings on the income tax consequences of the sale of blood and human breast-milk, as well as analogies to situations in which people are paid to wear advertising on their bodies, support the conclusion that a surrogate recognizes taxable income, although the IRS has never stated so. The Article considers, and then rebuts, privacy-based objections to a surrogacy tax. Disclosure of income from surrogacy is a reasonable consequence of the freedom to engage in that activity. For tax purposes, the reproductive labor of surrogacy is work. The federal government should take steps to increase tax compliance.

January 28, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Rules out Manslaughter for Dr. Tiller's Murderer Shooting Tiller was murder, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

...and not voluntary manslaughter, a judge rules

 You can breathe a sigh of relief, because after all that worry, it turns out Scott Roeder will not be given a chance at a lesser charge in the murder of Dr. George Tiller. After the defense rested its case Thursday, the judge ruled that the jury cannot consider a voluntary manslaughter charge, which Kansas law defines as "an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force" and carries a slim four to six year sentence. . . .

January 28, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bristol Palin as Spokeswoman for Abstinence

Double X (Slate Magazine): Is Bristol Palin a Good Spokeswoman for Abstinence?, by Jessica Grose:

She could be worse.

It's worth checking out the website of The Candie's Foundation, for which Bristol is a teen ambassador. The website features a revealing tank top with a strategically placed "new sexy slogan": "I'm SEXY enough . . . to keep you waiting."  This is just one of a collection of "Be Sexy Tees." At the same time, its "Tips for Teens" section provides not one bit of information about contraception or safer sex practices.  This is how to address teen pregnancy?

January 27, 2010 in Contraception, Culture, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

National Abortion Federation and ACLU Ask Court To Preclude Voluntary Manslaughter Charge In Trial Of Dr. Tiller’s Murderer

NAF/ACLU Press Release:

Gavel & scales WICHITA, KS – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) today filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the National Abortion Federation, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Kansas in the trial of Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of Dr. George Tiller, asking the court to preclude Roeder from arguing his anti-abortion beliefs in support of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder. 

“In a civilized society we cannot allow extremists to commit murder to advance their own religious or political beliefs,” said Vicki Saporta, President of the National Abortion Federation. “Scott Roeder should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Allowing the defense to argue that Scott Roeder’s anti-abortion beliefs in any way lessen his accountability in Dr. Tiller’s murder sends an ominous signal to all vigilantes,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.  “We should all be concerned; having sincere political beliefs does not mean someone should be able to get away with murder.”

Scott Roeder has been charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Dr. George Tiller on May 31, 2009, while Dr. Tiller was attending services at his local church.  Earlier this month, in pre-trial hearings, Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled that he would not allow Roeder to use a justifiable homicide defense, but left open the possibility that the defense could put on evidence that would support the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. This ruling might permit Roeder to argue that he was motivated by anti-abortion beliefs and therefore should be held less accountable.

“This is a dangerous misinterpretation of the law,” said Doug Bonney, Chief Counsel  Legal Director, ACLU of Kansas  Western Missouri.  “No matter what our political or moral beliefs, we are not entitled to kill those who disagree with us.  We would not allow someone who murders a general to get a lesser sentence because the murder was motivated by a belief that war is unjustifiable.” 

Doctors who provide abortion care deserve the full protection of the law.  They devote their lives to ensuring that women can obtain the health care they need.  It is important that we support a woman’s ability to make this most private, personal decision, and it is critical that we protect the medical professionals who care for them.

If convicted of first degree murder, Roeder could be facing a life sentence; if convicted of voluntary manslaughter, he could receive less than 10 years for Dr. Tiller’s murder.

Lawyers on today’s brief include Kolbi-Molinas and Talcott Camp of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project and Bonney of the ACLU of Kansas  Western Missouri.

The ACLU brief is available here.

January 27, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Researcher Publishes Study on Coerced Reproduction

Newsweek: Coerced Reproduction, by Sarah Kliff:

Experts are studying a phenomenon that brings a whole new meaning to the term 'unwanted pregnancy.'

About a decade ago, Elizabeth Miller remembers seeing a certain teenage girl at a hospital clinic for adolescents in Boston. The patient thought she might be pregnant and asked for a test. When it came out negative, Miller started asking the standard questions, inquiring as to whether her patient wanted to be pregnant (she didn't) and whether she was using contraceptives (she wasn't). So Miller explained all of the birth-control options and, as she describes it, "sent her on her merry way with a brown bag of condoms." It was, by most measures, a pretty routine appointment.

Except that, two weeks later, the same patient was back at the hospital, in the emergency room after her partner pushed her down the stairs. "That was the wake-up call where I started thinking there might be a relationship between the two situations," says Miller, now an assistant professor of pediatrics at University of California, Davis. . . .

This month, Miller published a study in the journal Contraception detailing "reproductive coercion," when the male partner pressures the other, through verbal threats, physical aggression, or birth-control sabotage, to become pregnant. According to Miller's research, about a third of women reporting partner violence experienced reproductive coercion, as did 15 percent of women who had never reported violence. . . .

January 26, 2010 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Some Pro-Choice Advocates See Threat to Roe in Citizens United Decision

Politico: Activists see threat to Roe precedent, by Josh Gerstein:

Supreme Court The Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday undercutting a ban on corporate political spending that had been in place for more than a century has left abortion-rights supporters jittery that the justices could be similarly prepared to upend the landmark Roe v. Wade decision the court handed down 37 years ago this week.

“Yesterday’s Roberts court decision, which exhibited a stunning disregard for settled law of decades’ standing, is terrifying to those of us who care deeply about the constitutional protections the court put in place for women’s access to abortion,” said Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We are deeply concerned. ... Yesterday’s decision shows the court will reach out to take an opportunity to wholesale reverse a precedent the hard right has never liked.”. . .

January 26, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Common Household Chemicals May Reduce Women's Fertility

Wash. Post: Household chemicals linked to reduced fertility, by Shari Roan:

Flame-retardant chemicals found in many household consumer products may reduce fertility in women, researchers reported today. Their study joins several other papers published in the last two years suggesting that the chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, affect human health.

PBDEs have been used as flame retardants for four decades and are found in foam furniture, electronics, fabrics, carpets and plastics. The chemicals are being phased out nationwide, and certain PBDEs have been banned for use in California. But they are still found in products made before 2004. Californians may have higher exposures compared with residents of other states because of the state's strict flammability laws, according to the study authors, from UC Berkeley.

January 26, 2010 in Fertility, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Abortion Super Bowl Ad Stirs Controversy

Media Decoder (NY Times): Both Sides Making an Issue of Issue Ad on Super Bowl, by Stuart Elliott:

Football field CBS is feeling more heat — from both sides — on its decision to accept a commercial from the evangelical organization Focus on the Family that will run during Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7.

Although records are incomplete, it appears that the spot would be the first ad on a contentious issue to ever appear in a Super Bowl game.

In a news release earlier this month, Focus on the Family said the commercial would feature Tim Tebow, the college football star, and his mother, Pam Tebow, sharing a personal story in the vein of “Celebrate family, celebrate life.”

January 26, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Teen Pregnancy Rate Rises for First Time in Over a Decade

Wash. Post: Rise in teenage pregnancy rate spurs new debate on arresting it, by Rob Stein:

The pregnancy rate among teenage girls in the United States has jumped for the first time in more than a decade, raising alarm that the long campaign to reduce motherhood among adolescents is faltering, according to a report released Tuesday.

The pregnancy rate among 15-to-19-year-olds increased 3 percent between 2005 and 2006 -- the first jump since 1990, according to an analysis of the most recent data collected by the federal government and the nation's leading reproductive-health think tank.

Teen pregnancy has long been one of the most pressing social issues and has triggered intense political debate over sex education, particularly whether the federal government should fund programs that encourage abstinence until marriage or focus on birth control. . . .

The report comes as Congress might consider restoring federal funding to sex-education programs that focus on abstinence. The Obama administration eliminated more than $150 million in funds for such groups, but the Senate's health-care reform legislation would reinstate $50 million. . . .

January 26, 2010 in Congress, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

KY Senate Passes Bill Requiring Ultrasound Before Abortion Senate passes ultrasound abortion bill, by Joseph Gerth:

Ultrasound FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Senate passed legislation Monday that would require doctors to show a woman an ultrasound image of her fetus and explain how it is developing before performing an abortion.

Senate Bill 38 passed 32-4 and now goes to the House, where similar measures have died in committee in the past.

As with current law, SB 38 would require doctors or someone designated by them to meet with a woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours beforehand to explain the procedure. But the meeting would have to be face-to-face; under current law doctors are allowed to conduct that meeting over the telephone.

Also, the bill would require the ultrasound. Doctors would have to tell the woman about development "which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable." . . . 

January 26, 2010 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Name Change an Important Component of Transgender Rights

The New York Times: For Transgender People, Name is a Message by, William Glaberson

In many courts around the country, what were once risky or shocking name-change requests are becoming more routine as the sting of gender taboo has lost a little of its edge. But in few places has this shift been more dramatic than in New York, where two recent and little-noticed rulings helped clarify the murky area not only of the law but also of modern gender identification. They have contributed to Manhattan’s becoming a capital of Joe-to-Jane proceedings. A rare network of some 200 lawyers now works on such cases filed in the Centre Street courthouse, and nearly 400 of their transgender clients so far have, more or less, become someone else. . . .

Efforts to extend legal rights to transgender people have increasingly been in the news, including the December announcement by Gov. David A. Paterson of New York to extend antidiscrimination protections to transgender state employees. . . .

The lawyers have represented clients from every borough in the Manhattan court, with applicants ranging from occasional cross-dressers to people who have completed gender reassignment surgery. No one knows how many others have gone to the court on their own or with other lawyers. Indeed, the very number of transgender people in the country and the state is hard to pin down. One survey suggests there are 300,000 in New York State, but others dispute that. . . .

January 26, 2010 in In the Courts, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Researchers Puzzled by Trend of Lower Birth Weights in U.S.

Wall St. Journal: Birth Weights Fell From 1990 to 2005, by Shirley S. Wang:

Researchers Can't Explain the Two-Ounce Decline in U.S., Worry the Trend Could Lead to Increase in Health Problems

Scale Mothers are giving birth to lighter babies in the U.S., and no one is quite sure why.

The finding, published Thursday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has potentially troubling public-health implications, if the trend continues. Low-birth-weight babies are at higher risk for a host of health problems.

Between 1990 and 2005, the birth weight of full-term babies in the U.S. declined nearly two ounces to an average of 7 pounds, 7.54 ounces, a reversal of a trend that had seen birth weights climb steadily since the 1950s, according to the study. Babies were also born 2.5 days earlier on average in 2005 than in 1990, the study said.

The small decrease in weight—based on an analysis of nearly 37 million nonmultiple births from a national database—isn't likely to affect the health of the average baby in the study, according to researchers. But the data showed a 1% increase in the number of the lowest-weight babies and suggested the birth-weight decline didn't stop in 2005. . . .

January 26, 2010 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Quake in Haiti is Speeding Up Adoption Process

Time Magazine: Haiti's Orphaned Kids: How the Quake Is Speeding Adoptions, by Siobhan Morrissey:

Haiti Flag Dressed in an orange floral pinafore with her hair neatly pulled back into cornrows, 7-year-old Marie Guerline Clerge Bryditzki could serve as the poster child for increased efforts to place Haiti's orphans in adoptive homes following the devastating earthquake.

Although Marie has living biological parents in Haiti, she is going to live with a family in the U.S. that has been trying to adopt her for the past two years, says Dixie Bickel, director of God's Littlest Angels, the agency outside of Pétionville that arranged the adoption. Exactly a week after the Jan. 12 7.0-magnitude quake, the paperwork was in order and Marie was set to fly out of Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince. (See TIME's exclusive photos from Haiti.)

"The only good thing to come out of this [earthquake] is to see babies go home as babies," says Bickel, explaining that before the earthquake, it usually took at least two years for the adoption of Haitian children to go through. "Nine years ago, it only took three months," she says, adding that both Haitian and American bureaucracies are to blame. Where the Canadian embassy can process the necessary visas in three days, it's not unusual for the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince to take upwards of six weeks, she says. . . .

See also: NY Times: Girls’ Rescue From Haiti Expands Family by Two, by Susan Saulny.

January 26, 2010 in International, Parenthood | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Courtney Joslin on the American Family

Courtney G. Joslin (UC Davis School of Law) has published The Evolution of the American Family on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Courtney Joslin This short piece examines the changing meaning of marriage and the family in the U.S. Among other developments, the piece chronicles: the changing role and legal status of women in marriage; race restrictions in marriage; the legal recognition of same-sex relationships; and the increasing numbers of nonmarital families. The article is the lead piece in the Summer 2009 issue of the ABA Human Rights magazine devoted to the New American Family.

January 25, 2010 in Race & Reproduction, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Melissa Jacoby on Consumer Lenders and Assisted Reproduction

Melissa B. Jacoby (UNC School of Law) has posted The Debt Financing of Parenthood on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Jacoby In this contribution to the symposium Show Me the Money: Making Markets in Forbidden Exchange, I explore an under-appreciated participant in the assisted reproduction and adoption industries: consumer lenders. Through fertility clinics and other service providers, financial institutions market and distribute loans specifically to finance acquisition of treatments, drugs, and human eggs. Adoption foundations and agencies advertise for-profit loans to intended parents, while small foundations offer adoption loans that appear to be low-cost financially but may condition loan approval on intended parent characteristics such as religious observance, marital status, sexual orientation, and adherence to traditional gender roles. After discussing how these specialty loans bolster descriptive claims of a thriving market for parenthood, this article explores three flash points at which repeat-playing lenders might alter the political economy of the parenthood market in unexpected ways: adoption versus assisted reproduction; integration of unpartnered and same-sex couples; and quality control over reproductive services.

January 25, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Word "Abortion" is Avoided During Prosecutor's Opening Statement in Trial for Murder of Dr. Tiller

NY Times: In Abortion Murder Trial, No Motive Mentioned, by Monica Davey:

Courtroon WICHITA — Jurors in the trial of an abortion opponent accused of murdering Dr. George R. Tiller, one of the nation’s only late-term abortion providers, never heard the word “abortion” on Friday as a prosecutor here laid out her case in an opening statement.

Instead, Nola Foulston, the district attorney, began building a methodical case of times and names and forensic tests that might have been presented at any murder trial — a frantic 911 call, a witness’s swift noting of a getaway car license plate, blood splatters on the defendant’s black sneakers.

Still, though Judge Warren Wilbert of Sedgwick County District Court has said he will not allow the trial to be turned into a debate over abortion, the issue seemed unavoidable — unspoken, but always looming. Those on both sides of the question are watching tensely to see how much it will ultimately play into the jurors’ thoughts. . . . 

January 24, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)