Lately, there have been several news stories chastising mortgage companies for taking new measures to discriminate among borrowers. Fannie Mae was the target of a few of these criticisms, for doing things like forbidding to back new loans from a strategic defaulters for seven years and from homeowners that have second liens from solar panel loans. In the New York Times Tuesday, there was another article meant to spark outrage among readers: some mortgage companies are making it more difficult for pregnant women to get mortgages. Instead of dismay, however, my reaction was relief.
All measures underwriters use to discriminate among applicants aim at the same end -- to limit the risk for providing a loan. So let's take Times example to consider whether or not it's a fair practice, since it might appear particularly egregious. The news probably evoked rage among many readers because society reveres pregnant women -- as it should. But although their decision to have a child is a wonderful thing, their state must be considered in a risk context by a loan underwriter. . . .
Friday, July 23, 2010
Daily Mail (UK): One in five girls 'pregnant by the age of 18', by Laura Clark:
The first survey of its kind found that 83 per cent of girls have lost their virginity by this age and 18 per cent of these youngsters have been pregnant at least once.
About half chose to keep their babies and more than a third had an abortion, according to the Government survey. . . .
New Guidelines Say Moderate Amounts of Caffeine Won't Increase Miscarriage Risk
But a new position statement issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) should put some of their fears to rest. The group states that moderate caffeine intake -- less than 200 milligrams a day -- won't increase their risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.
The same cannot be said for higher amounts of caffeine, the group states in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. . . .
Police investigating a suspicious package outside of an Old Town Planned Parenthood clinic Thursday morning discovered a dead opossum in a box--likely left by anti-choice activists.
About 8:15 a.m. Thursday, a package containing the dead animal was found at the 1200 N. LaSalle St. Planned Parenthood clinic, the Chicago Tribune reports. A message scrawled on the package read: "For all the doctors for all you do for women." . . .
Thursday's incident was the second time someone left a dead animal at a women's clinic in the area this month . . . .
Mark Egerman (fellow, Georgetown University Law Center, and staff counsel, National Abortion Federation) has posted Roe v. Crawford: Do Inmates Have an Eighth Amendment Right to Elective Abortions?, on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This note examines the legal questions surrounding incarcerated women who wish to receive an abortion. The note examines the 8th Circuit's ruling in Roe v. Crawford and explores the two legal arguments presented in that case. While the court ultimately found the Fourteenth Amendment argument valid and rejected the Eighth Amendment, the author argues that grounding inmate abortion rights in the Eighth Amendment is ultimately a more sustainable solution for reproductive justice advocates. The core of an Eighth Amendment case is presented with corresponding medical evidence that argues that not only should inmates have access to abortions, but that they should be funded the same as any other serious medical need under the Eighth Amendment.
Time Magazine: How Saving Umbilical Cords Saves Lives, by Bonnie Rochman:
As their due date creeps closer, many pregnant women pack a go bag for the hospital: toothbrush, iPod, cute bringing-baby-home outfit. But in recent months, savvy mothers-to-be have started tucking in one more important item: a kit to collect and donate the blood in their babies' umbilical cord.
Cord blood is a noncontroversial source of stem cells, yet experts estimate that 99% of this potentially lifesaving resource gets thrown away postpartum. Unlike the stem cells in human embryos, which can morph into any kind of cell in the body, the stem cells in cord blood have their futures largely mapped out, as blood, brain, liver or heart-muscle cells, for example. But researchers have shown that cord-blood cells can be reprogrammed, and over the next decade, doctors hope to adapt these cells to treat heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and maybe neurodegenerative diseases too. . . .
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Columnist Argues Mortgage Companies Should Discriminate, Even Against Those on Parental Leave, to Limit Risk
The Atlantic: Mortgage Companies Should Discriminate, by Daniel Indiviglio:
Seven in 10 Californians continue to support the right of women to get a legal abortion and endorse the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which said women have a constitutional right to an abortion, according to a new Field Poll released Wednesday.
These findings cut across all population segments and political ideology and have remained constant for more than 20 years of Field’s polling on the issue.
Among Democrats, 80 percent favor either making no change to abortion rights in the state or making it easier for women to obtain a legal abortion. Support drops among Republican respondents but is still a majority at 54 percent. Seventy-five percent of those not affiliated with either party support such rights. . . .
The CRR-CLS Fellowship is a two-year, post-graduate fellowship offered by the Center for Reproductive Rights (“the Center”) and Columbia Law School (“the Law School”). The Fellowship is designed to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights. Fellows will be affiliated with the Center and the Law School and will participate in the intellectual life of both programs. Applicants do not need to be graduates of Columbia Law School to be eligible for this program and do not need prior experience in reproductive rights.We are excited to begin the process of selecting a Fellow to join us in 2011-2013. Our prior Fellow, Khiara Bridges, is joining the Boston University Law School faculty in a tenure-track position.The deadline for applications for this cycle is November 1, 2010.
The Oklahoman: Oklahoma's abortion law stays blocked for now, by Nolan Clay:
An Oklahoma County judge today issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the state's tough new abortion law.
The 2010 law requires a doctor or technician to perform an ultrasound at least an hour before a scheduled abortion so the pregnant woman can see the images of the fetus. The doctor or technician must describe the ultrasound images to the woman, even if she objects. A patient can avert her eyes. . . .
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Gaia Bernstein (Seton Hall University School of Law) has posted Regulating Reproductive Technologies: Timing, Uncertainty and Donor Anonymity on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Two global trends have emerged in the regulation of Artificial Reproductive Technology (“ART”): the adoption of a comprehensive regime to regulate the practice of ART and the prohibition on gamete donor anonymity. This Essay uses the publication of Naomi Cahn’s book, Test Tube Families, which advocates both the adoption of a comprehensive regime and the anonymity prohibition, as a lens through which to assess the suitability of these regulatory trends to the United States.
First, this Essay develops two dimensions of law and technology theory – timing and uncertainty – to evaluate the effectiveness of adopting a comprehensive regulatory regime. This Essay argues that although belated regulation of a new technology may incur enforcement hurdles due to the entrenchment of social norms, these hurdles are alleviated when, as in the case of ART, the technology is administered by intermediaries.
This Essay then distinguishes between two ultimate goals of reducing uncertainty surrounding the use of new technologies: alleviating fears that inhibit the adoption of a new technology and protecting individuals already using a widely adopted technology from unexpected legal circumstances. It argues that the adoption of a comprehensive regulatory regime for ART will relieve the latter type of uncertainty.
Secondly, the Essay examines the effects of the prohibition on gamete donor anonymity on the availability of donor gametes and the consequent social adoption of ART technology that is dependent on donor gametes. The Essay analyzes the data from three representative jurisdictions that prohibit anonymity: Sweden, Victoria (Australia), and the United Kingdom. It reveals that these jurisdictions suffer from significant shortages in donor gametes and underscores that efforts to combat these shortages resulted in eroding commitments to equality and the prevention of commodification. The Essay, therefore, cautions against the adoption of a prohibition on donor gamete anonymity in the United States.
Broadsheet (Salon.com): American TV: Still not ready for an abortion, by Mary Elizabeth Williams:
Emotionally loaded, bitterly divisive issue, meet taboo-busting, equal-opportunity-offending comedy show. What took you so long?
When "Family Guy" creators announced a year ago they were ready to take on abortion, its network, Fox, gave creator Seth MacFarlane and his writers its blessing. When they got a load of the "Partial Terms of Endearment" episode, however, they backed off on airing it. But behind every creative controversy, there's a golden branding opportunity, and Fox's somewhat less conflicted home video arm is releasing the reproductive-choice-themed episode as a stand-alone DVD in September, under the gotta-have-it "BANNED FROM TV!" banner. Monetizing the controversy with a clever "too-hot for television" promotion? Seems just a little like having an abortion and getting your baby too. . . .
NY Times: New Guidelines Seek to Cut Rate of Repeat C-Sections, by Denise Grady:
Most women who have had Caesarean sections can safely give birth the normal way later, studies have shown, but in recent years more and more hospitals, doctors and insurers have been refusing to let them even try, insisting on repeat Caesareans instead.
The decisions have been based largely on fears of medical risks and lawsuits, medical and legal experts say.
. . . Now, an obstetricians’ group is issuing a new set of medical guidelines meant to make it easier for women who have had Caesareans to find doctors and hospitals that will allow vaginal birth after Caesarean, or VBAC (pronounced vee-back).
Solicitor General Elena Kagan moved one step closer to becoming a Supreme Court justice on Tuesday when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13 to 6, almost entirely along party lines, to forward her nomination to the full Senate for consideration.
Just one Republican, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, broke ranks with his party to back Ms. Kagan. His lengthy speech supporting her led to debate about the Senate’s increasingly partisan approach to judicial confirmations, as he took colleagues — including President Obama when he was a senator — to task for basing their votes on philosophy, rather than qualifications and character. . . .
Monday, July 19, 2010
NY Times: Seeking a Mortgage? Don’t Get Pregnant, by Tara Siegel Bernard:
Expectant parents shopping for a home are not the only ones concerned about the date of the baby’s arrival.
Mortgage lenders are taking a harder look at prospective borrowers whose income has temporarily fallen while they are on leave, including new parents at home taking care of a baby. Even if a parent plans on returning to work within weeks, some lenders are balking at approving the loans. . . .
Wash. Post: Vaginal gel cuts risk of HIV infection, study shows, by David Brown:
In a study of 900 South African women, a gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir reduced the overall chance of infection by 39 percent. In women who used the substance consistently and as directed, the protection was even better: 54 percent.
The findings of the study, which will be described Tuesday at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna, marks the first success in a 15-year-long search for a method of HIV prevention that can be controlled by women at risk of contracting the disease through sexual intercourse. Short of a vaccine, an effective "vaginal microbicide" has been the most elusive goal in the epidemic. . . .
Guttmacher News Release: Unsafe Abortion a Major Cause of Maternal Death in Ghana:
More than one in 10 pregnancy-related deaths in Ghana are the result of unsafe abortions. In addition, 13% of Ghanaian women who have had an abortion experience complications resulting from unsafe procedures, and fewer than half of them received the needed follow-up care. These statistics are all the more remarkable because Ghana is one of the few African countries where abortion is legal under fairly broad grounds, and abortion performed by a qualified professional under proper conditions is an extremely safe procedure. . . .
Newsweek Magazine: 'Pornland': How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, by Gail Dines:
Profits, not pleasure, drive the porn industry. Indeed. Playboy logos adorn backpacks and Miley Cyrus looks like a stripper dancing on a pole. Yes. Female porn stars are simultaneously dehumanized and exalted. All of it is quite familiar, but recited together, as Dines has done in her book, it’s a sobering reality check. And if, as Dines argues, porn really is becoming a celebrated, completely commonplace facet of American life, this voice railing against the sex-saturated machine testifies to some pretty miserable sexual values infiltrating the culture.
What’s the Big Deal?
Pornographers are no longer in the business of making love, Dines says. Now, they’re making hate. With more than 370 million Internet sites, that means it takes something pretty shocking to stand out. The result? Dines argues that aspiring producers are turning out more and more “gonzo porn,” which is extreme, is graphic, and was once relegated to the fringes. Now it is mainstream, and undermining the ways men and women approach sex. . . .
ACLU Press Release:
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration announced today that it intends to exclude abortion coverage from the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans, or high-risk insurance pools, created by the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Even using their own private funds, individuals would not be able to buy policies that cover abortion in these pools. The only exemptions would reportedly be for women who have been raped, who are the victims of incest or who will likely die if they carry the pregnancy to term.The high-risk pools were created as a temporary program until the government can fully implement the Affordable Care Act and are made up of those who cannot purchase private insurance due to pre-existing health conditions, including cancer and heart disease. Women participating in high-risk insurance pools are especially vulnerable and may have a special need for abortion coverage. For example, under the ban a woman with heart disease or diabetes might be compelled to carry a pregnancy to term despite its potentially damaging effect on her future health.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
“Everyone’s circumstances and health care needs are different. And every woman should be able to decide what is best for her health and her family. By unnecessarily singling out abortion in the high-risk pools, the Obama administration is creating a needless barrier to comprehensive health care for the women who need it most. Health care reform should improve women's health and lives, not interfere with women’s decisions about the health care they need.”