Friday, July 16, 2010

Pro-Choice Advocates Criticize Obama Administration Over Health Law

NPR: Abortion Supporters Now Blast Administration Over Health Law, by Julie Rovner:

Regardless of your beliefs about abortion, at some point you almost have to feel sorry for the Obama administration.

First, it got hammered for something it didn't do — allow states getting federal funds to run insurance programs for people with pre-existing conditions to cover elective abortions.

And now the administration is getting an earful from abortion rights groups for making sure that states don't allow that sort of funding. . . .

July 16, 2010 in Abortion, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Justice Ginsburg Discusses Roe and Access to Abortion

Politico: Ginsburg: Roe will hold, by Manu Raju:

Justice Ginsburg ASPEN, Colo. — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg declared Thursday that abortions would continue to be available to women regardless of the legal challenges now being waged by opponents of Roe v. Wade. 

"Over a generation of young women have grown up, understanding they can control their own reproductive capacity, and in fact their life's destiny," Ginsburg said in rare public remarks. "We will never go back to the way it once was." 

Ginsburg said that any changes in access to abortion simply hurts poor women. 

"If people realize that, maybe they will have a different attitude," she said. . . .

July 15, 2010 in Abortion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arlen Specter on Kagan's Nomination Hearing

USA Today: Specter: 'Kagan did just enough to win my vote', by Arlen Specter:

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan did little to undo the impression that nominating hearings are little more than a charade in which cautious non-answers take the place of substantive exchanges.

In this, she was following the practice of high court nominees since Judge Robert Bork. But her non-answers were all the more frustrating, given her past writings that the hearings were vacuous and lacked substance. She accused Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer of stonewalling, but then she did the same, leaving senators to search for clues on her judicial philosophy. . . .

July 15, 2010 in Congress, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Nebraska's Abortion Screening Law

Omaha World-Herald: Judge blocks abortion screening law, by Martha Stoddard:

Nebraska Sign LINCOLN — State attorneys were reviewing their legal options Wednesday after a federal judge stopped a new Nebraska abortion law from taking effect.

U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp said in her ruling that the law would place “substantial, likely insurmountable” obstacles in the way of women seeking abortions in the state. The order temporarily blocks new requirements for doctors to do extensive screening of women seeking abortions.


The screenings were required under a law, passed as Legislative Bill 594, set to take effect Thursday.

Camp could make the ruling permanent after hearing further arguments and evidence from both sides. She set a July 26 deadline for the state to file a legal response if Attorney General Jon Bruning decides to continue the fight. . . . 

July 14, 2010 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The "New Abortion Providers"

NY Times (Magazine): The New Abortion Providers, by Emily Bazelon:

On a clear and mild March day in 1993, the Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry spoke at a rally in southern Florida against abortion. “We’ve found the weak link is the doctor,” he told the crowd. “We’re going to expose them. We’re going to humiliate them.” A few days later, Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider, was shot and killed outside his clinic in Pensacola, Fla., about 500 miles away. It was the first of eight such murders, the extreme edge of what has become an anti-abortion strategy of confrontation.

Terry understood that focusing on abortion providers was possible because they had become increasingly isolated from mainstream medicine. That was not what physicians themselves anticipated after the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. An open letter signed by 100 professors of obstetrics and gynecology predicted that free-standing clinics would be unnecessary if half of the 20,000 obstetricians in the country would do abortions for their patients, and if hospitals would handle “their proportionate share.” OB-GYNs at the time emphasized that abortion was a surgical procedure and fell under their purview.

But then most of the OB-GYNs left the stage. After Roe, the shadow of the greedy, butchering “abortionist” continued to hover, and many doctors didn’t want to stand in it. As mainstream medicine backed away, feminist activists stepped in. They set up stand-alone clinics to care for women in their moments of crisis. In many ways, the clinics were a rebel-sister success story. . . .

July 14, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

At-Home Test that Purports to Determine Fetus's Gender Goes on Sale in UAE

EmiratesBusiness: Home test could lead to more abortions, by Rachel McArthur:
Controversial product allows expectant mothers to find out the gender of their unborn baby at just 10 weeks. 
A controversial new over-the-counter product – allowing expectant mothers to find out the gender of their unborn baby at just 10 weeks – has gone on sale in the UAE. Interestingly, despite being allowed to be distributed in the country, it is yet to be approved by the Ministry of Health.

IntelliGender is a urine-based test – similar to that of a home pregnancy kit – that apparently provides results in just eight minutes. It functions by measuring a combination of hormones in the urine that differ depending on the gender of the baby, and reacting to form either green (which indicates a boy) or orange (indicates a girl) coloured liquid. . . .


Intelligender has been available in the United States for several years.  Read more here.

July 14, 2010 in Abortion, Bioethics, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

White House Releases First National Plan to Reduce HIV/AIDS

Wash. Post: White House unveils national HIV/AIDS strategy, by Anne E. Kornblut:

AIDS Ribbon The White House on Tuesday unveiled the first formal national HIV/AIDS strategy, a plan that aims to reduce the number of new cases by 25 percent in the next five years, officials said.

Noting that the number of new infections in the United States has been static -- and that the number of people living with HIV is growing -- the new policy directs more resources toward four high-risk groups: African Americans, gay and bisexual men, Latinos, and substance abusers. . . .

July 14, 2010 in President/Executive Branch, Race & Reproduction, Sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Randy Beck on the Origins of Roe v. Wade's Trimester Framework

Randy Beck (University of Georgia Law School) has posted Self-Conscious Dicta: The Origins of Roe v. Wade’s Trimester Framework on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

One of the controversies arising from Roe v. Wade has concerned whether the opinion's trimester framework should be considered part of the holding of the case, or can instead be classified as dicta. Three different Supreme Court opinions have spoken to this question in different ways.

This article reviews materials from the files of Justices who participated in the Roe decision. It concludes that Justices in the majority understood the opinion's trimester framework to consist largely of dicta, unnecessary to a ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas abortion statute. The extensive use of dicta in Roe can be attributed to a desire to provide guidance to state legislators and perhaps also to a hope of reducing the number of abortion cases the Court might need to address in the future. . . .

July 13, 2010 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Will Not Endorse Kagan

Boston Globe/Bloomberg News: Lawyers’ group says it will not back Kagan:

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a Washington group that focuses on the legal needs of blacks and other minorities, is declining to endorse Elena Kagan’s nomination to the US Supreme Court.

Barbara Arnwine, the group’s executive director, said the committee decided it will not take a position on President Obama’s second appointee to the high court. The committee last year endorsed his first nominee, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. . . .

July 12, 2010 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Elena Kagan's Career Not Defined by her Gender

New Republic: Post-Gender Justice, by Naomi Schoenbaum:  

What does being a woman mean to Elena Kagan?

The past few months have seen plenty of commentary about Elena Kagan’s status as one of only a few women ever nominated to the Supreme Court. But much of this commentary has rung hollow, consisting of platitudes about how she is a “trailblazer.” Practically no one has focused on what is perhaps a far more important aspect of her gender: Elena Kagan might very well be the first female nominee to the Supreme Court who does not define her gender as salient to her public life.

Kagan has been deemed a female pioneer: the first woman to lead Harvard Law School and to serve as solicitor general. Yet, despite this impressive list of firsts, Kagan (who was dean of Harvard Law School when I was a second- and third-year student there) has not taken up the helm as a leader on women’s issues, or explicitly identified herself as a woman leader in the law. This has something to do with her age. The first generation of women lawyers to make it to the highest echelons of the American legal profession—who faced enormous barriers in the profession simply because they were women—had no choice but to take on gender as a defining feature of their legal education and career. . . . 

July 12, 2010 in Supreme Court, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are Parents Less Happy Than Non-Parents?

New York Magazine: All Joy and No Fun, by Jennifer Senior:

Why parents hate parenting.

Baby (3) There was a day a few weeks ago when I found my 2 1/2-year-old son sitting on our building doorstep, waiting for me to come home. He spotted me as I was rounding the corner, and the scene that followed was one of inexpressible loveliness, right out of the movie I’d played to myself before actually having a child, with him popping out of his babysitter’s arms and barreling down the street to greet me. This happy moment, though, was about to be cut short, and in retrospect felt more like a tranquil lull in a slasher film. When I opened our apartment door, I discovered that my son had broken part of the wooden parking garage I’d spent about an hour assembling that morning. This wouldn’t have been a problem per se, except that as I attempted to fix it, he grew impatient and began throwing its various parts at the walls, with one plank very narrowly missing my eye. I recited the rules of the house (no throwing, no hitting). He picked up another large wooden plank. I ducked. He reached for the screwdriver. The scene ended with a time-out in his crib. . . .

See also: Vanity Fair: Why Have Kids?, by Brett Berk:

Jennifer Senior’s New York magazine piece on contemporary parenting is both honest and measured in its examination of how having kids these days generally tends to make people (or, at least the kind of people who read New York magazine) unhappy. But as someone who’s worked professionally in the field of early childhood education for 20 years—as a classroom teacher, preschool director, youth researcher, parenting columnist, and author of an instructive non-fiction book—I noticed that it was sorely lacking in two things.

First, it failed to offer any sort of line out of this tragic rut for these sad moms and dads. . . . .

July 12, 2010 in Culture, Parenthood | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reflections on Justice Sotomayor's First Term

Wash. Post: The un-routine sets apart Sotomayor's first term, by Robert Barnes:

Several partygoers were on their way into the Supreme Court one Saturday evening in May to toast retiring Justice John Paul Stevens when they ran into Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She was not heading to the festivities, but coming from her chambers, where she'd been putting in a weekend shift.

She looked neither tired from the long hours nor overwhelmed by her new responsibilities, one of the partygoers noticed. "She was beaming."

In some ways, Sotomayor's just-finished first term on the court was like those of many who have come before her: She worked constantly, turned down interview requests and most speaking engagements, wrote unglamorous and largely noncontroversial opinions and was ideologically true to the president who appointed her. She voted with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg more than any other colleague on the court.

But the court's first Hispanic member, and only its third woman, has hardly had the typical first-termer's experience. . . . 

July 12, 2010 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Women Found to be More Sexually Active in their Middle Years

Time Magazine: The Science of Cougar Sex: Why Older Women Lust, by John Cloud:

Men who cheat on their spouses have always enjoyed an expedient explanation: Evolution made me do it. Many articles (here is one, and here is another), especially in recent years, have explored the theory that men sleep around because evolution has programmed them to seek fertile (and, conveniently, younger) wombs.

But what about women? If it's really true that evolution can cause a man to risk his marriage, what effect does it have on women's sexuality?

A new journal article suggests that evolutionary forces also push women to be more sexual, although in some unexpected ways. University of Texas psychologist David Buss wrote the article, which appears in the July issue of Personality and Individual Differences, with the help of three grad students, Judith Easton (who is listed as lead author), Jaime Confer and Cari Goetz. Buss, Easton and their colleagues found that women in their 30s and early 40s are significantly more sexual than younger women. . . .

July 12, 2010 in Scholarship and Research, Sexuality, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Unlike Most Current TV Dramas, "Friday Night Lights" Doesn't Shrink from Abortion

NY Times: Abortion in the Eyes of a Girl From Dillon, by Ginia Bellafante:  

Seated at Tami Taylor’s kitchen table, Becky Sproles wrenchingly lays out her dilemma: The only child of an embittered single bartender who gave birth to her when she was a teenager, Becky is faced with the prospect of recycling her mother’s past and she doesn’t know what to do. 

Initially resolved to end her pregnancy, Becky — played with a bracingly naïve righteousness by Madison Burge on “Friday Night Lights” on NBC — begins to doubt her choice. Is she seeking an abortion simply to counter her mother’s example? What if she were capable, caring and present as a parent? What if, as an emotionally wounded 10th grader without resources living in Dillon, Tex., with its pageant of grim futures, she could defy sociological prediction. . . .

Atlantic Magazine: 'Friday Night Lights' Tackles Abortion, by Tony Lee:

In 2004, Kate Aurthur of the New York Times referred to abortion as "television's most persistent taboo." Such is still the case today. It is nearly unheard of for a television character—let alone on a network show—to have an abortion. When the issue of abortion is broached by TV writers, it is often resolved with characters either deciding to have the baby or suffering through a miscarriage.

That said, Becky's ultimate decision to have an abortion on Friday Night Lights this week—and carrying it out—wasn't the most surprising thing for me in this week's episode. It was the nuanced, apolitical manner in which the writers depicted the reality of a teenage girl facing and dealing with the choices and consequences that surround an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy that impressed me. . . .

July 12, 2010 in Abortion, Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iran Claims Woman Convicted of Adultery Will Not Be Stoned, But Advocates Remain Concerned

Feminist Wire (Ms.Magazine): Iran Claims Woman Will Not be Stoned

Yesterday, the Iranian government released its first public statement on the Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani case, claiming that she will not be executed by stoning. Ashtiani was sentenced to death by stoning after an adultery conviction. The Iranian Embassy in London stated that, "according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment," reports CNN. Those campaigning for Ashtiani�s release have not been pacified, however, for the vague statement implies that she might be executed another way, despite her very likely innocence. It is likely that the sentence was merely commuted to a hanging, not repealed. . . .

July 12, 2010 in International, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Governor Jindal Signs Three Louisiana Abortion Restrictions Into Law

Feminist Wire (Ms.Magazine): Louisiana Abortion Bills Become Law:

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed three bills on Tuesday instituting new restrictions on abortion rights in the state. The first law requires women seeking abortions in Louisiana to undergo an ultrasound prior to the procedure. There will be no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Opponents remain concerned that the ultrasound requirement, an expensive procedure that may not be available at free clinics, will increase costs and make obtaining abortion services more difficult for women. . . .

July 12, 2010 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scientists Discover Antibody That Neutralizes 91% of HIV Strains

Wall St. Journal: Antibody Kills 91% of HIV Strains, by Mark Schoofs:

Antibody In a significant step toward an AIDS vaccine, U.S. government scientists have discovered three powerful antibodies, the strongest of which neutralizes 91% of HIV strains, more than any AIDS antibody yet discovered.

Looking closely at the strongest antibody, they have detailed exactly what part of the virus it targets and how it attacks that site. . . .

July 12, 2010 in Medical News, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senate Republicans Announce They Will Vote Against Kagan

Politico: McCain to vote no on Kagan, by Josh Gerstein:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will vote against confirming Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, he announced Wednesday in an op-ed piece to be published in Thursday's USA Today.

The main beef McCain cites, in fact his only beef, is with Kagan's move in 2004 to ban military recruiters from official recruiting channels at Harvard Law School. She said she took the action to uphold the school's policies against dealing with employers who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. . . .

See also: Boston Globe: Senators from GOP to oppose Kagan, by Laura Litvan:

McConnell, Hatch doubt impartiality

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans began lining up against US Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, as minority leader Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch revealed they will vote against President Obama’s second appointee to the court.

McConnell said yesterday Kagan failed to convince him during confirmation hearings that she can become an impartial judge and abandon a political past that includes working for Bill Clinton when he was president. . . .

July 12, 2010 in Congress, Politics, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Op-Ed Urges Well-Meaning Strangers to Think Twice Before Offering Advice to Pregnant Women

LA Times (Op-Ed): Listen to a mom-to-be: Hush, strangers, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner:

Pregnancy can be difficult, and your comments, warnings or questions might hit a nerve.

Pregnant Woman (2) Despite how defensive I've become, despite how hormonal I surely am, I am clearheaded enough to know that the acquaintance who is standing here, reeling off the high mortality rates of pregnant women around the world, is well-meaning. Surely he does not intend to scare me when he confides that despite his wife's easy pregnancies and natural deliveries, he was acutely aware that he could lose them anytime. He wishes to reassure me when he speaks of the miracles of technology that allow women like me to give birth.

I still wish he'd shut up. . . .

July 12, 2010 in Culture, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scientists Closer to Developing Male Birth Control Pill Scientists May Have Invented First Male Birth Control Pill, by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux:

Microscope Because this year was the 50th anniversary of the female birth control pill's approval by the FDA, there was much discussion in the past few months about just why there hasn't been a male contraceptive pill.  Some Israeli scientists, though, may have fixed that conundrum: they discovered a pill that works on mice by stripping sperm of the protein needed to fertilize an egg, essentially rendering the mice sterile for between one and three months.

The researchers plan to start human trials of the pill next year, and if the trials go smoothly, the pill could be available to the public in as little as three years.  Needless to say, this is an amazing breakthrough, especially since the pill would only need to be taken every month or so.  One of the major concerns, especially for women, is that men would forget to take the pill . . . .

July 12, 2010 in Contraception, Medical News, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)