Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Tactics Behind Announcing the Supreme Court Nominee

Newsweek Magazine: Expect Supreme Court Nominee to Be Announced Between May 1 and 15, by Daniel Klaidman:

Here's something people keep asking about the Supreme Court vacancy: since the Obama White House knew for many months that there was a very good chance Justice John Paul Stevens would retire this term, why weren't they ready to go with a nominee right away? Fair question: President Obama runs an efficient, disciplined shop and, having already gone through one nomination and confirmation, one might reasonably assume they'd be able to roll out No. 2 lickety-split. We know that when Sonia Sotomayor was picked, Obama interviewed at least three other candidates, all of whom (Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, and Janet Napolitano) are on the current short list. Merrick Garland, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, wasn't interviewed but is well known to a number of the president's closest advisers.

The answer, based on conversations with administration officials familiar with the selection process, comes down to tactics and prophylactics. First, any White House would want to make sure its nominees were subjected to the "public vet." They've already been scrutinized by the FBI and a team of White House lawyers and political operatives for every imaginable transgression or embarrassment. But until you see how the public, the media (mainstream and blogosphere), the interest groups, and the Hill react, you don't know don't know how safe your nomination will be. . . . 

April 20, 2010 in President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Newer Supreme Court Appointees Less Likely to Surprise

NY Times: Why Newer Appointees Offer Fewer Surprises, by Adam Liptak:

Supreme Court WASHINGTON — The last two justices to leave the Supreme Court, David H. Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor, were nominated by Republican presidents and then drifted left. So did Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced his retirement last week.

Those sorts of surprises are much less likely these days.

Call it the legacy of Justice Souter, who retired last year. When President George Bush picked him in 1990, he was called a stealth candidate and liberal groups lined up to oppose him.

But on his retirement, Justice Souter was lauded by the left. He had voted, for instance, to allow public universities to consider race in admissions decisions and to preserve the core of the constitutional right to abortion identified in Roe v. Wade. . . . 

April 20, 2010 in Congress, President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CLE Program on Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting: April 29th at NYU School of Law

Presented by: National Advocates for Pregnant Women with New York University's School of Law & The NYU Silver School of Social Work

When: Thursday, April 29, 2010 (half day program 12p-5p)
Where: NYU School of Law, 40 Washington Square South, Manhattan
Contact: Aileen Dibra, NAPW Conference Coordinator confcoordinator@advocatesforpregnantwomen.org
More information and registration

Continuing Education Credits in the areas of Law, Social Work & CASAC will be offered.
4.5 CLE credits in "Ethics and Professionalism"
4.0 Hours CASAC Section II
4.0 Hours CPP Section I
4.0 Hours CPS Section I
4.0 CEU Social Work

All advocates, activists, care-providers and students welcome. Light refreshments will be provided.

People 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.

Drugs, Pregnancy and Parenting Part II will bring evidence-based research and renowned experts to professionals and to people directly affected by policies addressing these issues. The presenters will help distinguish myth from fact, evidence-based information from media hype and provide meaningful tools for improved advocacy, representation, care and treatment for pregnant women, parents, children, and families.

This program will specifically focus on the question of what happens when children remain with parents who use or abuse drugs?

The distinguished presenters and hosts of this event include:
Marylou Behnke, MD, Fonda Davis Eyler, PhD, Martin F. Guggenheim, JD, Carl L. Hart, PhD, Sabra Jackson, Gretchen Lord, LCSW, Lynn M. Paltrow, JD, & Jane M. Spinak, JD

Read presenter bios here.

April 20, 2010 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sex Work, HIV/AIDS, and Sexual Rights in Nigeria

Ebenezer Tope Durojaye (University of the Free State, South Africa) et al. have posted Sex Work, HIV/Aids and Sexual Rights in Africa: The Nigerian Experience on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This article examines the meaning of sex work and its types as practiced in Nigeria. It then considers the diverging views often expressed by feminist scholars with regard to sex work. It similarly examines the various approaches such as criminalisation, legalisation and decriminalisation, which have been adopted to sex work worldwide and in particular the approach in Nigeria. The article then suggests that based on the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and the fact that restrictive laws on sex work have often exposed sex workers to danger and human rights violations, Nigerian government should consider a liberal approach towards sex work. Such an approach should take into cognizance the well being and respect for the dignity of sex workers. Therefore, the article discusses the human rights issues - using the sexual rights lens - raised by sex work. In particular, the article highlights that certain human rights such as rights to privacy, dignity, equality and health recognized in international and national documents are very relevant in the context of sex work. . . .

April 20, 2010 in International, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If Nominated, Diane Wood Will Face Scrutiny on Abortion Rulings

Wash. Post: Abortion rulings could bring scrutiny of possible Supreme Court pick Wood, by Peter Slevin:

CHICAGO -- If President Obama nominates U.S. Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, social conservatives say they intend to make her rulings on abortion rights the primary point of contention.

"That's her Achilles' heel," said Curt Levey, executive director of the Committee for Justice, which opposes Wood's rulings on abortion. "It tells you that she's probably not going to be selected, because Obama doesn't have the stomach for this to be about an abortion debate."

Obama's intentions remain unclear, but Levey's comments encapsulate a message that Wood's foes are sending as the White House ponders a list of possible candidates. For Wood, who turns 60 in July and was on the shortlist of possible nominees when Justice David Souter retired last year, this vacancy is likely to be her last shot at the court. . . . 

April 20, 2010 in Abortion, President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Justice Stevens, the Last Pre-Roe Justice

LA Times op-ed: Justice Stevens will not be easily replaced, by Chris Eisgruber:

Justice Stevens President Obama has said that he will seek to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens with someone who has "similar qualities."

If the president is looking for another brilliant lawyer to join the court's liberal wing, he might succeed. If, however, he wants to find someone with the kind of quirky independence that Stevens demonstrated for much of his judicial career, the president has little or no chance. The constitutional landscape has changed too much since Stevens was appointed in 1975.

Stevens is America's last pre-Roe justice — in other words, the last justice chosen before the abortion issue reshaped the Supreme Court appointment process. In strictly chronological terms, of course, Stevens was appointed two years after the court decided Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 case that first protected the abortion right. But when Stevens faced the Senate, Roe had not yet become ground zero in America's culture wars. . . .

April 20, 2010 in Abortion, Congress, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Op-Ed Argues Nebraska Law Brings "Humanity Back to the Abortion Debate"

Wash. Post op-ed: Bringing humanity back to the abortion debate, by Marc A. Thiessen:

Can an unborn child feel pain?

That question will dominate the abortion debate in America for the next several years thanks to Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska. Last week, Heineman signed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act into law, banning abortions in Nebraska at and after 20 weeks based on growing scientific evidence that an unborn child at that age can feel pain.

The legislation was enacted as a defensive measure. After the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, a physician named LeRoy Carhart declared his intention to carry on Tiller's work at his Bellevue, Neb., clinic. State legislators did not want Nebraska to become the country's late-term abortion capital -- so they voted 44-5 to stop him.

The new law will probably spark a Supreme Court showdown, because it directly challenges one of the key tenets of Roe v. Wade -- that "viability" (the point at which an unborn child can survive outside the womb, generally held to be at 22 to 24 weeks) is the threshold at which states can ban abortion. In defending the law, Nebraska will ask the high court to take into account scientific research since Roe and push the legal threshold back further. . . . 

April 19, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nebraska Law Not Likely to Withstand Legal Scrutiny

Salon.com: Nebraska's abortion bill hasn't got a prayer, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

But that doesn't worry anti-choicers, who know that sometimes it's the battle, not the outcome, that matters

Law Book We've seen a bold new measure restricting abortion pass Nebraska's legislature and get signed into law by the state's governor -- but we aren't likely to see it take effect. At least, that's how the Associated Press breaks it down in a lengthy explainer of the bill, which bans abortions at 20 weeks based on the claim that fetuses start to feel pain at that stage. The funny thing is anti-abortion activists are well aware of just how outrageous the bill is and how unlikely it is to withstand legal scrutiny. It seems that as long as they keep abortion on the national agenda and pro-choicers on the defensive, they will consider it a success.  . . .

For more on the Nebraska ban, see also these posts:

Nebraska Holds Hearing on "Fetal Pain" Measure Banning Later Pre-Viability Abortions

More on Nebraska "Fetal Pain" Abortion Ban Hearing

April 19, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lawsuits Claim Birth Control Pills Yaz and Yasmin Carry Health Risks

LA Times: Birth control pill concerns bring lawsuits but few solid answers, by Tammy Worth:

Birth control pills When the oral contraceptives Yasmin and Yaz came on the market in 2001 and 2006, respectively, they were thought to be safer than other birth control pills because they contained a different kind of synthetic progestin.

But in a flurry of lawsuits against the pills' maker, Bayer HealthCare, attorneys claim that the progestin contained in the pills, drospirenone, is the cause of health problems, including deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the deep veins), strokes, heart attacks and gallbladder disease.

As of mid-February, about 1,100 lawsuits had been filed in the United States against Bayer, which stands behind the safety of the pills.

Research on the issue is divided. . . .

April 18, 2010 in Contraception, In the Courts, Medical News, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Delaying Childbearing Helps Ward off Financial "Motherhood Penalty"

USA Today: Delaying kids may prevent financial motherhood penalty, by Sharon Jayson:

DALLAS — Just when to have the first child is more than just a family decision for the couple; it may have longer-term repercussions that affect a woman's lifelong earnings, according to a preliminary study presented Thursday at a session of the Population Association of America meeting here.

Researchers at the University of Maryland in College Park and the University of California at Los Angeles reviewed 35 years of data from some 2,200 women born between 1944 and 1954, and found that women who had kids in the early- to mid-20s or even younger didn't fare as well economically as those who delayed.

Salon.com: Early motherhood costs you, by Tracy Clark-Flory:

A study finds that waiting to have kids has its career and financial benefits

It looks as though waiting to have kids literally pays off. The results of a preliminary study out of the University of Maryland and the University of California at Los Angeles show that women who delay motherhood end up being better off financially than those who get straight to making babies.

Researchers looked at more than three decades of data on 2,200 women born in the late '40s and early '50s. Women who gave birth after age 26 enjoyed financial benefits well into their 50s. (Oof. Way to wind up the biological clock of this 26-year-old.) It makes perfect sense: Women who delay childbirth and join the workforce right away are more likely to get the education and on-the-job experience that can lead to better-paid positions. More surprising, though, is the fact that women who delay motherhood generally make as much as childless women, thereby escaping what is known as the financial "motherhood penalty." . . .

April 18, 2010 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Health Care Law's Impact on Abortion Access

NPR: Health Law Rolls Back Abortion Rights, Groups Say, by Julie Rovner:

Recent fights between anti-abortion groups could leave people with the impression that the new health overhaul law expands women's access to abortion. But abortion-rights groups vehemently disagree.

"There are extraordinary things in health care reform for women," says Judy Lichtman, a senior adviser to the National Partnership for Women and Families, which supports abortion rights. "But all, I have to admit, come at the expense of women's abortion rights, and that's very sad."

Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, agrees. "I think across the board this is a bill that is a pro-life bill and is going to lead to fewer rather than more abortions. And I think it's very unfortunate that people who oppose this bill for other reasons are attacking it as an abortion-funding bill, which it definitely is not." . . . 

April 18, 2010 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dawn Johnsen Withdraws from OLC Consideration in Wake of Attacks on her Pro-Choice Record

Wash. Post editorial: The Office of Legal Counsel, still in limbo:

Dawn Johnsen NOMINEES EXPECT to be roughed up by members of the opposing party. But Dawn E. Johnsen's failed nomination to head the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) may be remembered for the mistreatment Ms. Johnsen suffered at the hands of friend and foe alike.

Ms. Johnsen withdrew from consideration for the Justice Department post last week after spending more than a year in limbo. A nationally renowned legal scholar, she served admirably in the OLC for five years during the Clinton administration and earned the support of a bipartisan coalition of former OLC chiefs for her "independence of mind."

Yet some Republicans and conservative groups smeared her as a wild-eyed liberal untethered to legal precedents and inconsiderate of presidential prerogatives. They claimed she intended to use the office to undermine national security and advance a radical abortion rights agenda. In truth, her only "sins" appear to have been her principled -- and correct -- criticism of the widely discredited Bush administration "torture memos" and her work early in her career on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America. . . .

April 17, 2010 in Abortion, Congress, Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scientists Explore New Technologies to Improve Detection of Breast Cancer

Chicago Tribune: Technology expands breast cancer screening options, by Karen Ravn:

To detect breast cancers with better precision, scientists are exploring a range of technologies.

Breast Cancer Breast-cancer-screening isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack. It's harder. It's like looking for needles in a big field of haystacks, where some of the haystacks have needles, while most don't, but you don't know which are which, so you have to look in all of them.

Mammography is the best technique available right now to look for breast cancers in women who don't have any symptoms. On average, screening mammograms correctly identify 80% to 85% of women who have cancer and about 90% of women who don't.

Even as debate continues about who should get mammograms — and when, and how often — researchers are working on a blizzard of new approaches to breast imaging in hopes of reducing the number of cancers that are missed and the number of false alarms that lead to unnecessary biopsies. Here's a look at some of the approaches under study. . . . 

April 17, 2010 in Medical News, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pro-Choice Leadership Doesn't See Passion for Abortion Rights Among Post-Roe Generation

Newsweek: Remember Roe! How can the next generation defend abortion rights when they don't think abortion rights need defending?, by Sarah Kliff:

When the history of the 21st century is written, March 21, 2010, will go down as the day Congress cleared the way for health-care reform. Yet for those in the abortion-rights community, March 21 will mark a completely different turning point: the day when they became acutely aware of their waning influence in Washington. The Democratic Party has, since 1980, supported a woman's right to an abortion. But in 2008 it decided to broaden its appeal by running an unprecedented number of anti-abortion-rights candidates in socially conservative swing districts. That move helped secure a robust House majority for the Democrats.

But abortion-rights supporters could no longer count on that majority to vote their way. The shift first became clear during the health-care debate, when abortion-rights supporters found their cause rather easily brushed aside in pursuit of another, larger goal. Anti-abortion Democrats, most notably the now retiring Rep. Bart Stupak, pressed for stringent abortion restrictions. While Stupak's desired language did not ultimately survive, the final health-care law was more than a psychological setback: it requires separate payments for abortion coverage on the public exchange. The strict accounting rules could well prove so onerous that insurers drop abortion coverage altogether. . . .

April 17, 2010 in Abortion, Culture, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maternal Deaths Decline Worldwide

NY Times: Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe, by Denise Grady:

Globe For the first time in decades, researchers are reporting a significant drop worldwide in the number of women dying each year from pregnancy and childbirth, to about 342,900 in 2008 from 526,300 in 1980.

The findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, challenge the prevailing view of maternal mortality as an intractable problem that has defied every effort to solve it. . . . 

April 15, 2010 in International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teen Births Remain High in Central America Despite Increased Use of Contraceptives

Guttmacher Institute news release: Despite Increases in Contraceptive Use, Adolescent Births Remain High in Central America:

Guttmacher According to a new study of trends in the sexual behavior of young women in Central America, the proportion of 15–19-year-olds who have ever used a modern method of contraception has risen significantly in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua over the past 15 years, but Nicaragua was the only country in which a significant decline in first births occurred in this age-group. At the same time, the proportion of adolescents having sex for the first time rose in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, and stayed the same in Guatemala. The authors, Ghazaleh Samandari and Ilene S. Speizer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, believe that these patterns reflect the persistence of unmet need for contraception, inconsistent contraceptive use and high contraceptive failure rates in these countries .. . .

April 15, 2010 in Contraception, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The IUD Makes a Comeback

Newsweek Magazine: The IUD Reborn, by Meredith Melnick:

After years of the IUD being off-limits to younger women, a new generation is embracing the once-beleaguered birth control.

 . . . For years, the IUD was FDA-approved only for women who had gone through childbirth: in 2005 the FDA broadened the approval to include all women.

Since the shift in FDA approval, women who are young, single, and childless like Jenny are turning to the device, which boasts the lowest failure rate of any reversible contraceptive on the market: 1 percent. (By comparison, the pill fails 3 percent of the time and condoms fail 12 percent when used imperfectly.) As a result, since 2005, IUD use has gone up by 161 percent with numbers continuing to increase, according to consumer health-care data from SDI Health. . . . 

April 15, 2010 in Contraception | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pregnant and On the Frontline in Afghanistan

The Guardian (The Observer): Mother courage: being pregnant on the frontline, by Elizabeth Rubin:

Four months pregnant, a journalist joined US forces in Afghanistan as an embedded correspondent. This is her story

I never thought I'd write a personal story about being a war correspondent. It seemed so beside the point, so much less important than the story I was reporting. Some of my closest friends are photographers and writers who've worked in war zones, and whenever we'd get questions like "What's it like to be a woman and work in Afghanistan or Iraq?" we'd roll our eyes. It was an attitude, for sure, but one we were proud of.

When I was asked to write about being pregnant and embedded with soldiers in Afghanistan, I said OK. But I was still reluctant. And so the months passed. Then, not long ago, I got an email from a colonel in the army's media affairs office, saying they were declining my next embed request in part because "you failed to disclose your pregnancy". . . .

April 15, 2010 in International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Names are Added to List of Potential Supreme Court Nominees

CNN.com: Names added to Supreme Court short list, by Bill Mears:

Supreme Court Washington (CNN) -- A federal judge from Montana and the dean of Harvard's law school are among several names being added to the short list of potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, a government source said.

Sidney Thomas, a 14-year veteran on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, is being vetted by the White House, said the source, who has been regularly consulted in the selection process.

Two women who were not on other published lists of potential candidates are now being seriously considered.

Harvard Law school dean Martha Minow has been on the school's faculty since 1981. And Elizabeth Warren heads the Congressional Oversight Panel, which reviews government efforts to boost the shaky financial and private investment sector. . . .

April 15, 2010 in President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Broader Implications of Nebraska's New Abortion Ban

Slate Magazine (Double X): Nebraska Feels Your Fetus' Pain, by Amanda Marcotte:

The real problem with the new Nebraska abortion ban.

In a sea of small stories about this or that state legislature passing yet another restriction on abortion, it might be hard to see why pro-choice activists became especially agitated over a law, called the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Act." Passed on Tuesday, the law bans most abortions in Nebraska after 20 weeks. Much of the news coverage lumped it into the usual restrictions on late-term abortions.

But this law breaks new ground in the war on abortion rights in a couple of important ways. . . .

April 15, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)