Friday, February 19, 2010

Oklahoma Court Strikes Down Intrusive Abortion Law

Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release: Court Strikes Down Intrusive OK Abortion Law, Declares Unconstitutional:

Gavel and scales New York, NY – Today, an Oklahoma County District Court declared unconstitutional a state law that would have imposed a host of restrictions related to abortion and cost the state over a quarter million dollars a year to implement, blocking the state from enforcing the law. The court ruled that the bill passed by the legislature addressed too many disparate topics and therefore violated the Oklahoma Constitution’s “single-subject” rule which requires laws only address one topic at a time. One of the provisions would have required doctors to request detailed personal information from patients who have had abortions and report that data to the state health department who will then post it on a public website.
“We are very pleased with today’s ruling,” said Jennifer Mondino, staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The government has no business running a grand inquisition into the private lives of Oklahoma women and wasting a quarter of a million dollars of tax payers’ money in the process.”
The law also would have banned abortions based on a woman’s gender preference for her child; created new responsibilities for state health agencies to gather and analyze abortion data and enforce abortion restrictions; and redefined a number of abortion-related terms used in Oklahoma law. The Center filed a challenge against the law in September on behalf of former state representative Wanda Stapleton and Shawnee, Oklahoma resident Lora Joyce Davis.
This is the second time in two years that the Oklahoma legislature has tried to restrict abortion in the state by bundling numerous provisions into one bill. In September, the Oklahoma District Court struck down another state law imposing various abortion restrictions, including the most extreme ultrasound requirement in the country, ruling that it violated the state’s single subject rule.

February 19, 2010 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Sues USAID to Obtain Information About Religion in Overseas Abstinence-Only Programs

ACLU Press Release:  ACLU Sues To Obtain Information About Taxpayer-Funded Religion In Abstinence-Only Programs

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit against the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to obtain public documents detailing its overseas abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which a recent Inspector General's report says unconstitutionally promote religiously infused materials and messages.

"The United States government cannot be in the business of exporting religiously infused abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that we know fail to give young people the information they need to stay healthy," said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "It is essential that the government provide all of the information it has about these programs so that the public has a full accounting of how taxpayer dollars are being spent."

The federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after USAID failed to timely respond to ACLU Freedom of Information Act requests submitted in July and September 2009 for the documents, as mandated by law. The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the agency to make the requested documents publicly available.   

The ACLU is demanding from USAID materials related to its abstinence-only-until-marriage programs funded through HIV/AIDS grants, including requests for proposals, contracts with USAID, curricula used by grantees, communications between USAID and the White House and communications between USAID and its grantees about religious instruction in abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula.

"In the face of a growing global HIV/AIDS crisis, USAID is not only violating basic constitutional principles by promoting government-funded religious activities, it is unconscionably putting young people's health and lives at risk," said Rose Saxe, staff attorney with the ACLU AIDS Project.

Lawyers on the case, ACLUF v. USAID, include Amiri, Mach, Saxe, Heather L. Weaver of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief and Galen Sherwin of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

A copy of today's lawsuit is available online at: 

The USAID Inspector General's report is available online at:

February 19, 2010 in In the Courts, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Government Undertakes Long-Term Study of Pregnant Women and Children

NY Times: Wanted: Volunteers: All Pregnant, by Pam Belluck:

Preg . . .Authorized by Congress in 2000, the National Children's Study began last January, its projected cost swelling to about $6.7 billion. With several hundred participants so far, it aims to enroll 100,000 pregnant women in 105 counties, then monitor their babies until they turn 21.

It will examine how environment, genes and other factors affect children’s health, tackling questions subject to heated debate and misinformation. Does pesticide exposure, for example, cause asthma? Do particular diets or genetic mutations lead to autims?. . .

But while the idea is praised by many experts, the study has also stirred controversy over its cost and content. . . .And an independent panel of experts and some members of the study’s own advisory committee say it misses important opportunities to help people and communities — emphasizing narrower medical questions over concerns like racial and ethnic health differences, leaving unresolved crucial ethical questions concerning what to tell participants and communities about test results. . . .

February 16, 2010 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NAPW Conference on Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting

Via National Advocates for Pregnant Women:

National Advocates for Pregnant Women and New York University present:

Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: What the Experts Have to Say

Part II

NAPWPeople working in the fields of criminal law, family law and child welfare frequently have cases that involve issues of drug use. These lawyers, social workers, counselors, advocates and investigators, however, are often trying to do their jobs without the benefit of evidence-based research or access to experts knowledgeable about drugs, drug treatment and the relationship between drug use, pregnancy and parenting. On April 29, 2010 we will continue the education and conversations started at last year's continuing education program, Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: What the Experts in Medicine Social Work and the Law Have to Say. PART II will provide the opportunity to meet and learn from new experts ready to address some of the questions left unanswered at last year's event.

When: Thursday, April 29, 2010 (half day program)
Where: NYU School of Law, 40 Washington Square South, Manhattan

We are in the process of obtaining Continuing Education Credits in the areas of Law, Social Work, CASAC and Nursing.

For more information, contact Aileen Dibra, NAPW Conference Coordinator, at [email protected]

February 16, 2010 in Conferences and Symposia, Law School, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pope Urges Irish Bishops to Address "Grave Crisis" Ignited by Sex Abuse by Priests

NY Times: Pope Urges Irish Bishops to Confront Sex Abuse, by Elisabetta Povoledo & Alan Cowell:

Pope Pope Benedict XVI urged Irish bishops on Tuesday to show “determination and resolve” in confronting the sexual abuse scandal convulsing the Roman Catholic church in Ireland, but made no explicit call for the punishment of those who perpetrated what he called a “heinous crime.”

After two days of closed-door conversations between the pope and Irish bishops, a Vatican statement said the scandal had ignited a “grave crisis” which had “led to a breakdown in trust in the Church’s leadership.”

But the statement seemed unlikely to satisfy victims of abuse who had called for more resignations of senior clerics involved in covering up decades of sexual abuse of children and young people by priests.

February 16, 2010 in International, Religion, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Modern American: Call for Submissions (March 1 Deadline)

The Modern American Spring 2010 Call for Submissions:

ModernAmerican The Modern American, the award-winning legal publication dedicated to diversity and the law from American University Washington College of Law, is seeking submissions for its Spring 2010 issue.

The Modern American is a unique forum that addresses legal topics that affect marginalized communities, articulates under-represented experiences within the law, and offers a platform for critical studies work, particularly as these areas relate to race, nationality, gender, class, ability, and sexuality. Our publication explores the interesting intersections between the law and policy, as well as tensions between the legal and non-legal world. Our most recent fall issue published work on critical gender theory and US asylum law’s application to domestic violence survivors; racial politics submerging equal protection jurisprudence in a post-identity Court; and a historical myth-busting on orphan trains and the law. 

We are looking for cutting-edge legal scholarship for our newest issue. Our publication prefers short essays (20 pages or fewer), legal commentary, and other non-traditional formats on timely topics. We are especially eager to publish legal commentary from published law faculty or essays from practitioners and emerging scholars whether new faculty or law students.

Please submit your piece for consideration to [email protected] with a cover letter and resume by Monday, March 1st. We accept papers on a rolling basis with a preference for earlier submissions. 

February 16, 2010 in Law School, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion Among Women in their Forties

Slate Magazine (Double X): Whoops-Pregnancies in Your 40s, by Amanda Marcotte:

It's hard to catalogue the amount of media—books, articles, movies, commercials—dedicated to scaring women about their biological clocks. We're told over and over again that if we wait "too long," then we won't have a man, much less a chance to have a baby. The age at which you're a dried-up hag incapable of performing basic reproductive functions like getting pregnant or attracting a mate varies on the whims of the alarmist—Lori Gottlieb seems to put it at 35, Kay Hymowitz and Charlotte Allen put it at 28, and in the era of Jamie Lynn Spears, I'm sure we'll be hearing that if you haven't locked down your marriage-and-or-baby path by 18, you're in grave danger of never getting to the finish line, which all women are presumed to want. Unfortunately, the endless drumbeat about how your ovaries dry up 20 or more years before menopause begins is beginning to affect women's decision-making, according to the Family Planning Association. Women hear, over and over again, that you can't get pregnant after 28 or 35, and they believe it enough to ditch the contraception, with predictable results.

In England and Wales, the abortion rate for women in their early 40s is as high as it is for teenagers. Part of the reason is women in their 40s are more likely to have medically indicated abortions, but a big portion of the abortions are old-fashioned "whoops" abortions. The FPA doesn't have the exact numbers on this, but they have a constant stream of calls from women in their 40s who are facing unintended pregnancy simply because they bought into the story that fortysomething is too old to get pregnant. . . . 

February 12, 2010 in Abortion, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Virginity Sold to Strangers Online

Slate Magazine (Double X): How Much is Virginity Worth?, by Claire Gordon:

Dollars Last week, a 19-year-old New Zealand student, known only as Unigirl, sold her virginity to a stranger for $32,000. Her online ad was viewed by 30,000 people and received over 1,200 offers. Thanks to the Internet, women like Unigirl are putting their sexual initiation up for sale in the very public marketplace. Though these auctions have a new global reach, the pricing of virginity is an ancient human practice—according to the book of Deuteronomy, a girl’s virginity is worth 50 shekels, paid to her father. In today’s economy, how much is a woman’s virginity worth?

At least $10,000 if the woman is reasonably attractive and under 25. The exact price ultimately depends on the “quality” of the virginity: how young and hot the virgin is. Models can fetch over $1 million. . . . .

February 12, 2010 in Culture, Sexuality, Web/Tech, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Illinois' Parental Notification Law Endangers Teenagers

RH Reality Check: Parental Notification in Illinois: Forcing Young Women Into Harm's Way, by Sally Burgess:

While Illinois has a mandatory parental involvement law on the books, it has long been enjoined.... However, the state is aggressively seeking to end that court protection for young women and to enforce the Illinois Parental Notification of Abortion Act.

It is imperative to put an end to the threat of parental notification in Illinois, and to work to eliminate similar laws across the country....

Granted, there are young women who voluntarily tell their parents; in fact, many young women come to our clinic with their mothers. Unfortunately, however, not all teens live in this reality. For those who would not otherwise tell a parent, these laws can impose irreversible physical and psychological harms. The health and well being of these young women depends on putting an end to these dangerous laws.

In the following video, Lorie Chaiten of the ACLU discusses parental notification laws in Illinois. 

See also: Lawsuit Charges Illinois' Parental Notification Law Is Unconstitutional

February 12, 2010 in Abortion, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Atlanta Anti-Choice Ad Campaign Claims "Black Children Are an Endangered Species"

NY Times: Anti-Abortion Ads Split Atlanta, by Shaila Dewan:

Billboard ATLANTA — Anti-abortion groups have erected scores of billboards here with an alarming message: “Black children are an endangered species.”

The groups responsible insist that they are not exaggerating, despite contrary federal data. The billboards, which show a close-up of a worried-looking African-American boy, are an effort to highlight data showing that black women get a disproportionate number of abortions, especially in Georgia, and that the number in Georgia is increasing.

“The impact of abortion has become so great that it has begun to impact our fertility rate,” said Catherine Davis, the minority outreach coordinator for Georgia Right to Life, the state’s main anti-abortion group, which has sponsored the billboards in partnership with the Radiance Foundation, a group based in Atlanta that encourages adoption. . . . 

The advertising campaign has drawn fire from supporters of abortion rights. Loretta Ross, the executive director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective in Atlanta, said the billboards painted black women as either monsters intent on destroying their own race or victims of whites who control abortion clinics. . . .

February 10, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Race & Reproduction, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion Provider and Women's Rights Advocate, Susan Hill, Dies at Age 61

LA Times: Susan Hill dies at 61; women's rights advocate, by Leah Friedman:

She established abortion clinics in rural areas where women had no access to such services. The clinics were often the target of protesters, and she lived under constant personal threats.

Susan Hill, a national women's rights advocate and the owner of several abortion clinics around the country, died Jan. 30 at a hospital in Raleigh, N.C. She was 61 and had breast cancer.

Hill focused on establishing clinics in rural areas where women had no access to abortion services. She opened more clinics than anyone else in the United States, sometimes drawing 1,000 protesters at a time. She sued protesters 34 times for blocking entrances and physically preventing women from entering the facilities.

"She's probably the toughest person I ever knew," said her brother Dan Hill. "She's the only person I knew who wore a bulletproof vest to work or was supposed to wear one to work. People really wanted to kill her, and she never flinched." . . .

February 10, 2010 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

President Obama's Budget Prioritizes Pregnancy Prevention but Takes a "Pass" on Abortion

Guttmacher Institute news release: The President's Budget: Prevention Advances, but Abortion Rights Stall Out:

Guttmacher On February 1, President Obama sent his proposed budget for the fiscal year starting October 1, 2010 to Congress. On the domestic front, the administration’s top priority for reproductive health and rights is teen pregnancy prevention, for which the administration is recommending a significant boost in funding. With the abstinence-only-until-marriage approach of the bygone era defeated, the new initiative will emphasize an evidence-based approach to reducing teenage pregnancy and the underlying factors that put teens at risk.

On the international front, the administration has unveiled the outlines of the Global Health Initiative that the president first announced last year. Family planning and reproductive health programs and maternal and child health programs figure prominently, and the administration is recommending significant increases in both areas.

On abortion rights, however, the president is taking a pass. There can be little doubt that the fact that health care reform legislation remains in limbo has something to do with that—with the options on an ultimate compromise on abortion coverage ranging from terrible to horrible. Also tied up in health care reform is the fate of two other key provisions: one to make it easier for states to expand eligibility for family planning under Medicaid and a second to establish new funding for home visiting programs for low-income first-time mothers.

February 10, 2010 in Abortion, Contraception, Pregnancy & Childbirth, President/Executive Branch, Sexuality Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sixth Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law

Capital University Law Review and the National Conference for Adoption Law and Policy announce the Sixth Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law:

Please join the Capital University Law Review and the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy for –  The Sixth Annual Wells Conference on Adoption Law 

When: Thursday, March 11, 2010


Where: The Conference will be held at the Capital University Law School in downtown Columbus, Ohio.  


6.25 CLE and Social Work CEU Credits Available


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

The Wells Conference strives to provide attorneys with practical advice relating to the adoption field.  The Conference is host to adoption experts from around the country, practicing adoption attorneys, and social workers who specialize in adoption.  As the make-up of families continues to evolve, the Conference will highlight issues and problems facing modern families.  This year’s Conference focuses on very timely topics, including:

(1) The Impact of Assisted Reproduction on Families

(2) Overcoming Barriers to the Creation of Families for Members of the GLBT Community

(3) The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Families

Attorneys applying for CLE credit:  $50

Social Workers, Students, Others: Free (pre-registration required)

Please visit the Wells Conference website.

Register online.  Continental breakfast and lunch are included in the registration fee.

February 9, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Conferences and Symposia, Law School, Parenthood, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York Times Editorial on Abstinence Education

NY Times Editorial: Abstinence Education Done Right:

The ongoing debate over sex education has been rekindled by a provocative new study suggesting that teaching abstinence can delay the start of sexual activity among inner-city youngsters — if it is freed from the moralistic overtones and ideological restrictions that were the hallmark of abstinence-only programs under the Bush administration.

It would be a mistake to place too much importance on a single study of black middle-school students in Philadelphia, but the study appears to be sound and its findings are worth further exploration. . . .

February 9, 2010 in Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Joanna Erdman on a Procedure-Substance Divide in Abortion Liberalization

This abstract is posted in collaboration with the NYU Review of Law & Social Change symposium, "From Page to Practice: Broadening the Lens for Sexual & Reproductive Rights."

Joanna Erdman Abortion Liberalization: Transnational Legal Advocacy across a Procedure-Substance Divide

Joanna N. Erdman

Procedure and substance are well-acknowledged to be elusive categories in law. Procedure shades off into substance, such that their divide is not discoverable by mere logic or reason. It is a divide drawn to carry out a purpose.51 This acknowledgement does not deprive the divide of meaning. It redirects the inquiry. Rather than ask on what side a set of facts falls, we ask: why categorize as procedure or substance? What is both the purpose and effect of drawing the divide?

A procedure-substance divide in abortion liberalization can be traced to the 1994 U.N. International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and its Programme of Action.52 The ICPD was an intergovernmental meeting under the auspices of the United Nations, where abortion was first recognized as a matter of concern for the transnational collective. To be particular, unsafe abortion was the subject of concern. Following much controversy and prolonged debate, governments and other participants agreed to address “the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern.”53 Unsafe abortion is pregnancy termination undertaken by persons without necessary skills or in an environment that fails minimum medical standards, or both.54 Unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal mortality and morbidity in developing countries. Every year an estimated seventy thousand women die and millions more suffer with complications from unsafe abortion.55 Controversy stemmed from the legality of abortion. Regardless of modifier, safe or unsafe, abortion is a criminal offence under penal code or other statute in the vast majority of the world.

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February 7, 2010 in Abortion, Conferences and Symposia, International, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paola Bergallo on International Human Rights Law and Reproductive Rights in Latin America

This abstract is posted in collaboration with the NYU Review of Law & Social Change symposium, "From Page to Practice: Broadening the Lens for Sexual & Reproductive Rights."

Paola_Bergallo Promising but elusive domestic uses of international human rights law in the struggle for reproductive justice in Latin America.

Paola Bergallo, Universidad de San Andres

    Reproductive justice remains an unfulfilled promise for Latin American (LA) women. This is particularly the case with regard to abortion. With the exception of Mexico City and Puerto Rico, the region’s laws still embrace either a model of total criminalization (i.e., Chile, Nicaragua or El Salvador) or variations of a hardly accessible model of indications (i.e., Argentina, Brazil, Colombia or Peru). Moreover, irrespectively of the regulatory approach adopted, LA abortion laws share at least two traits: (a) they are largely non-complied with by women forced to resort to backstreet abortions in significant numbers;23 and (b) they are extensively unenforced both from the point of view of criminal prosecution and from the perspective of the duty to provide legal abortion services when indications are the rule. Another common characteristic of the region’s abortion rules is the stability of the practices of noncompliance and under-enforcement. A stability that has endured the transitions to democracy underwent by a majority of LA countries since the 1980s. As it has proved to be the case with other women rights issues during such transitions, in Latin America, democratization did not equal liberalization.
      Faced with the reluctance to embark or even address abortion law reform by politicians and players from all sides in the ideological spectrum, LA feminists turned to international human rights law in search of another tool to promote a liberalizing reinterpretation of domestic laws. Indeed, in the years following the UN Conferences in Vienna, El Cairo and Beijing, feminists increasingly began to explore alternative uses of what was then slowly becoming a more woman friendly international human rights law with respect to many issues, reproductive rights among them.24 As part of this shift, feminist organizations timidly began to bring cases to international forums.25 Such feminist move towards international law in the quest for reproductive justice reforms took place in a context in which the internalization of international human rights had achieved some potential26 and where transnational networks of activists were successfully building a common legal language.27

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February 7, 2010 in Conferences and Symposia, International, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judith Resnik & Reva Siegel on the Relationship of Health and Abortion in Law

This abstract is posted in collaboration with the NYU Review of Law & Social Change symposium, "From Page to Practice: Broadening the Lens for Sexual & Reproductive Rights."

Reva Heath Excepted, Health Accepted       

All rights reserved January 22, 2010

Judith Resnik & Reva Siegel, Yale Law School

 Judith Resnik      What is the relationship of health and abortion in law? How do the responses to this question change as one moves through various historical periods, from states to the national level in federations, or from the domestic to the international arena? Does conceiving (pun intended) of abortion as tethered to women’s health result in more authority, autonomy, equality, or safety for women -- or less?

      When contraception and abortion were legal in England and the United States, the banner of health provided arguments for their criminalization. Once contraception and abortion were criminalized, health became one of the justifications for regimes of partial decriminalization that allowed conditional access to methods of controlling fertility. For example, doctors and midwives who could demonstrate a patient’s health-based need for a “therapeutic” abortion sometimes had defenses to criminal prosecution. “Health” similarly justified immunities for those who sold condoms to men.

       Roe v. Wade reflects both these traditions: in Roe, “health” offers reasons for regulation as well as for exemption from regulation. Roe recognizes, in the second trimester of a pregnancy, the state’s interest in regulating abortion to protect maternal health, and in the third trimester, the state’s interest in regulating abortion to protect potential life -- so long as government allows women access to abortions necessary to protect their lives or health.

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February 7, 2010 in Abortion, Conferences and Symposia, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Carlton Veazey on Reclaiming Morality in Defending Reproductive Rights

This abstract is posted in collaboration with the NYU Review of Law & Social Change symposium, "From Page to Practice: Broadening the Lens for Sexual & Reproductive Rights."

Carlton Veazey Reclaiming Values and Morality

Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey, President and CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

"Reproductive rights" is a legal term. When a woman is making a decision about abortion, she's not making a legal decision - she's making a personal, moral decision that involves matters close to her heart - her religious beliefs, moral values, and life circumstances. Yet this is rarely recognized in legal and policy work, and that is having an adverse effect on efforts to preserve support for legal abortion. To claim or reclaim the language of values and morality in a positive way, we have to recognize that reproductive and sexual issues are primarily personal and begin to use moral - as opposed to rights - language when appropriate and sincere.
A decision about abortion is a moral decision in another sense: it can be more ethical - or more moral - to terminate an unwanted pregnancy than to continue it, for a host of reasons, including severe family conflict, the needs of other children, and a woman's or family's ability to care for another child.
Viewed from the perspective of values-based decision-making, public policy should preserve for the individual woman the ability to make reproductive decisions based upon her understanding of her needs, responsibilities, health, and faith. Government should provide a safe environment for these decisions, offering the space, opportunity and freedom for a woman to exercise her conscience and carry out her decision, free from the coercion of restrictions and obstacles or barriers.

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February 7, 2010 in Abortion, Conferences and Symposia, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Erez Aloni on Lawrence v. Texas and Reproductive Freedom for LGBT Individuals

This abstract is posted in collaboration with the NYU Review of Law & Social Change symposium, "From Page to Practice: Broadening the Lens for Sexual & Reproductive Rights."

Erez Aloni How thinking like pro-choice lawyers can win the battle and lose the war.


EREZ ALONI, Penn Law School

      In Lawrence v. Texas,19 the United States Supreme Court not only struck down Texas’ sodomy law, but also provided a more expansive ruling, holding that immorality alone cannot serve as a justification to prohibit a certain practice. This case was considered one of the greatest victories in history for the LGBT community. However, some have argued that Lawrence, important as it is, offered only “domesticated liberty” for LGBTs in that its ruling did not extend beyond the private domain and gave no acceptance to the notion of a more substantial kind of sexual liberty that the queer community embraces. 20 Although I find merit in this critique, I believe that even the perceived domestic liberty provided by Lawrence did not truly offer enough of an opportunity for gays to freely practice a gay lifestyle in the home. In fact, it seems that Lawrence only offered gays freedom in the bedroom, but not in the rest of the home. The image of a gay family of any kind, with or without children, living freely and publicly was not part of the vision that Lawrence suggested. The majority opinion emphasized that its decision “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual person seeks to enter.” Therefore, while Lawrence did provide for domestic liberty, the domestic liberty was intended to be confined to the bedroom exclusively. In this respect, Lawrence provided sexual rights but not reproductive rights. 


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February 7, 2010 in Conferences and Symposia, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Carlos Ball on Morality and the LGBT Rights Movement

This abstract is posted in collaboration with the NYU Review of Law & Social Change symposium, "From Page to Practice: Broadening the Lens for Sexual & Reproductive Rights."


Carlos A. Ball
Professor of Law, Rutgers University School of Law (Newark)

There are at least three different questions we can ask about the role that morality can or should play in issues related to the contemporary LGBT rights movement: First, can the government legitimately account for questions of morality when it legislates in LGBT-related matters? Second, should the LGBT rights movement rely on moral arguments when it seeks reform through the political and legislative processes? And third, should the LGBT rights movement rely on moral arguments when it litigates? The quick answer to the first question is “it depends.”

The quick answers to the second and third questions are “yes” and “no” respectively. I elaborate briefly below on each of these.

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February 7, 2010 in Conferences and Symposia, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)