Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Center for Reproductive Rights Report: 2010 Trends in Abortion Restrictions

Center for Reproductive Rights: A First Look Back at the 2010 State Legislative Session:

Every year, anti-choice state legislators propose measures intended to restrict women's access to abortion, including mandatory delays, biased counseling provisions and other burdensome and unnecessary requirements. On average, more than six hundred bills are proposed annually and dozens are passed, making it increasingly difficult for women in many states to access abortion. This year has been one of the most challenging state legislative sessions for women's access to abortion in many years. States considered and enacted some of the most extreme restrictions on abortion in recent memory, as well as passing laws creating dozens of other significant new hurdles. At the same time, pro-choice legislators, advocates and governors continued to stand up for women's health and rights and in many cases defeated harmful legislation. As we begin to assess the impact of the 2010 session on women's access to reproductive healthcare, the Center offers this preliminary recap of some of the major trends and most onerous laws enacted this session.

Download the complete document here >

August 31, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Glenn Cohen and Daniel Chen on Whether Subsidizing Assisted Reproduction Decreases Adoption Rates

I. Glenn Cohen (Harvard Law School) & Daniel L. Chen (Duke Law School) have posted Trading-Off Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Does Subsidizing in Vitro Fertilization Decrease Adoption Rates and Should it Matter? on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

For those facing infertility, using assisted reproductive technology to have genetically related children is a very expensive proposition. In particular, to produce a live birth through in vitro fertilization (IVF) will cost an individual (on average) between $66,667 and $114,286 in the U.S. If forced to pay these prices out of pocket, many would be unable to afford this technology. Given this reality, a number of states have attempted to improve access to reproductive technology through state-level insurance mandates that cover IVF. Several scholars, however, have worried that increasing access in this way will cause a diminution in adoptions and have argued against enactment of state mandates for that reason.

In this paper, which was selected for presentation at the 2010 Stanford-Yale Junior Faculty Forum, we push against that conclusion on two fronts.

First, we interrogate the normative premises of the argument and expose its contestable implicit assumptions about how the state should balance the interests of existing children waiting for adoption and those seeking access to reproductive technology in order to have genetically related children.

Second, we investigate the unexamined empirical question behind the conclusion: does state subsidization of reproductive technologies through insurance mandates actually reduce adoption; that is, is there a trade-off between helping individuals conceive and helping children waiting to be adopted? We call the claim that there is such an effect the “substitution theory.” Using the differential timing of introduction of state-level insurance mandates relating to IVF in some states and differences in the forms these mandates take, we employ several different econometric techniques (differences-in-differences, ordinary least squares, two-stage least squares) to examine the effect of these mandates on IVF utilization and adoption. Contrary to the assumption of the substitution theory, we find no strong evidence that state support of IVF through these mandates crowds out either domestic or international adoption.

August 31, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Parenthood, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Glenn Beck Rally Exploits Dr. King's Legacy to Push Anti-Abortion-Rights Message

RH Reality Check: Glenn Beck, Alveda King, and Reproductive Rights, by Marjorie Signer:

Even if you just wanted Glenn Beck and his over-publicized rally to go away, please take a minute to read what African American clergy, and civil rights and women's health leaders have to say. It's important.

This past weekend, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) brought together leaders of the African American community to expose a little-noticed aspect of the Beck event - the attempt to use the legacy of the civil rights movement to undermine African American women's reproductive rights. Alveda King figures prominently in this scheme - with her ludicrous charges of abortion as "black genocide" and her comparison of anti-choice activists to Freedom Riders. . . .

August 30, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Race & Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Response to Judge's Ruling, NIH Halts Own Researchers' Embryonic Stem Cell Experiments

The Checkup (Wash. Post blog): NIH shuts down its own stem cell research, by Rob Stein:

Stem cell The National Institutes of Health Monday ordered all of its researchers conducting research on human embryonic stem cells to immediately halt their experiments.

The move came in response to a temporary injunction issued last week by a federal judge barring the federal government from funding research involving human embryonic stem cells. The judge ruled that the research violated a federal law banning the federal government from funding any research involving the destruction of human embryos. . . .

August 30, 2010 in In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Virginia's Abortion Debate Focuses on South Carolina's Regulations

The Roanoke Times: Virginia's abortion debate turns to South Carolina rules, by Julian Walker:
Abortion rights advocates and opponents are using that state's regulations for clinics to make their case.

RICHMOND -- Virginia's continuing debate over abortion has turned to the south -- as in South Carolina.

When Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion this month that the state can regulate first-trimester abortion providers, he invoked a federal court ruling that upheld a South Carolina law requiring abortion clinics to meet hospital-like standards. . . .

August 30, 2010 in Abortion, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Hear Largest Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

NY Times: Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Hear Bias Suit, by Steven Greenhouse:

Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review the largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history, involving more than a million women workers, current and former, at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores.

Nine years after the suit was filed, the central issue before the Supreme Court will not be whether any discrimination occurred, but whether more than a million people can even make this joint claim through a class-action lawsuit, as opposed to filing claims individually or in smaller groups.

In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled 6-5 that the lawsuit could proceed as a jumbo class action — the fourth judicial decision upholding a class action. . . .

August 26, 2010 in In the Courts, Supreme Court, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

90 Years Later, Remembering the Struggle for the 19th Amendment

NY Times (Op-Ed): A Forgotten Fight for Suffrage, by Christine Stansell:

LOOKING back on the adoption of the 19th Amendment 90 years ago Thursday — the largest act of enfranchisement in our history — it can be hard to see what the fuss was about. We’re inclined to assume that the passage of women’s suffrage (even the term is old-fashioned) was inevitable, a change whose time had come. After all, voting is now business as usual for women. And although women are still poorly represented in Congress, there are influential female senators and representatives, and prominent women occupy governors’ and mayors’ offices and legislative seats in every part of the United States.

Yet entrenched opposition nationwide sidelined the suffrage movement for decades in the 19th century. By 1920, antagonism remained in the South, and was strong enough to come close to blocking ratification. . . . 

August 26, 2010 in Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Michael Kinsley on the Moral Inconsistency of Stem Cell Research Opponents

AtlanticWire: The Moral Inconsistency of Stem Cell Opponents, by Michael Kinsley:

OK, let’s go through this one more time.

Half of all pregnancies end in miscarriages, usually in the first couple of weeks, before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. A miscarriage destroys an embryo. If you believe that every embryo is the moral equivalent of a fully-formed human being, miscarriages are like a perpetual natural disaster like a flood or an earthquake, and you should be urging a massive effort to reduce miscarriages as the best way to save millions of human lives a year. As far as I know, there is no such effort going on in the United States or elsewhere. . . . 

August 25, 2010 in Anti-Choice Movement, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Shows "Abortion" Is Googled More in Conservative Areas

Boston Herald: ‘Abortion’ Googled more in conservative areas, by Renee Nadeau Algarin:

A study by two Children’s Hospital doctors has found that Google searches on “abortion” rise in areas with more conservative abortion policies or where the procedure is less available.

Dr. Ben Reis and Dr. John Brownstein of Children’s Hospital Boston Infomatics Program reviewed the abortion rates and policies in 50 states and 37 countries and compared the information against the number of Internet searches for the word “abortion.”

They found more searches in states and countries with more restrictive policies or less access to abortion and lower abortion rates. . . .

August 25, 2010 in Abortion, Culture, Scholarship and Research, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Missouri Law Requires Abortion Providers to Hand Their Patients Brochures Declaring that Life Begins at Conception

STLtoday.com: New Mo. abortion law counters some philosophy, theology, by Tim Townsend:

Missouri It's a question that has perplexed philosophers, theologians and scientists for thousands of years.

Pythagorean Greeks, early Christian church fathers, Talmudic rabbis, Sunni and Shia thinkers, Hindu brahmin and modern bioethicists have grappled with the fundamental, ultimately unknowable, mystery: At what point in our biological development are we infused with a soul? At what point do we become human?

On May 14, the final day of their legislative session, Missouri lawmakers declared the answer, and last month, by withholding his veto, Gov. Jay Nixon signaled that he agreed. On Aug. 28, their answer will become the law of the land.

"The life of each human being begins at conception," according to Senate Bill 793, which will add new regulations to the state's 24-hour informed consent law for abortions. "Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being."

Those words will be displayed "prominently" on brochures that abortion providers will be required to hand out to every woman seeking the procedure — even if they don't happen to believe the Christian theology the words represent. . . . 


I've written about the vague and deceptive nature of the term "life" as used by the anti-abortion-rights movement: see The Meaning of "Life": Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate.  In the same vein, see Michael Kinsley, The Moral Inconsistency of Stem Cell Opponents (posted above).

August 25, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Politics, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Many Turn to India for Surrogacy Services

Slate Magazine (Double X): India, the Rent-a-Womb Capital of the World, by Amanda Fontanella-Khan:

The country's booming market for surrogacy.

You can outsource just about any work to India these days, including making babies. Reproductive tourism in India is now a half-a-billion-dollar-a-year industry, with surrogacy services offered in 350 clinics across the country since it was legalized in 2002. The primary appeal of India is that it is cheap, hardly regulated, and relatively safe. Surrogacy can cost up to $100,000 in the United States, while many Indian clinics charge $22,000 or less. Very few questions are asked. Same-sex couples, single parents and even busy women who just don't have time to give birth are welcomed by doctors. As a bonus, many Indians speak English and Indian surrogate mothers are less likely to use illegal drugs. Plus medical standards in private hospitals are very high (not all good Indian doctors left in the brain drain). . . . 

August 25, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, International | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Washington State Board of Pharmacy to End Rule Forbidding Pharmacies to Discriminate or Delay in Dispensing Medications

RH Reality Check: A Step Backward in Washington: State to Undo Rule Mandating Pharmacies Fill Prescriptions Without Discrimination, by Amie Newman:

On Tuesday, August 17th the Washington State Board of Pharmacy made it official. They intend to revise the rules on pharmacy refusal in the state. From Planned Parenthood Votes Washington:

On Tuesday, August 17th, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy (BOP) issued an official notice that they intend to make a new pharmacy rule and end the requirement that pharmacies dispense medications without discrimination or delay.

We've previously reported on the events leading up to the board's decision to revisit its own rule that pharmacies must fill all prescriptions, including emergency contraception, and preparing to defend that position in court.

The Pharmacy Board's pro-choice position has shifted, apparently. . . .

August 24, 2010 in Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Making the Case for Home Births

The Guardian (UK): In defence of home births, by Sali Hughes:

Sali Hughes doesn't judge women who give birth in hospitals, so why, she argues, can't people accept her decision to opt for a home birth? For most women like her, who gave birth to both sons at home, it is a safe and entirely natural process


Just under three years ago, I was 39 weeks pregnant with my second child, sitting in front of the TV watching an Al Pacino interview, with a shepherd's pie resting atop my bump, when my waters broke. Less than two hours later, two NHS midwives packed up their medical paraphernalia and left me in my own bed, in clean pyjamas, my favourite mug of tea in one hand and a contentedly breastfeeding baby boy in the other. It was probably the most blissfully happy moment of my life. . . . 

August 24, 2010 in Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Virginia AG Says State Can Impose Tougher Oversight of Abortion Clinics

Wash. Post: Virginia can impose tougher abortion clinic oversight, AG Cuccinelli says, by Anita Kumar:

VA RICHMOND -- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II has concluded that the state can impose stricter oversight over clinics that perform abortions, a move immediately decried by abortion-rights organizations and others as an attempt to circumvent the General Assembly, which has repeatedly rejected similar measures.

Cuccinelli's legal opinion empowers the Board of Health, if it chooses, to require the clinics to meet hospital-type standards. Abortion-rights advocates say that could force some clinics to close because they would be unable to afford to meet the new requirements. . . .

August 24, 2010 in Abortion, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Judge Enjoins President Obama's Stem Cell Research Expansion

New York Magazine: Judge Blocks Obama's Stem Cell Research Expansion:

Stem Cells In a setback to the Obama administration’s efforts to expand stem cell research, a judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the federal government from funding any medical research that involves embryonic stem cells. In his ruling, U.S. chief district court judge Royce Lamberth cited a law that bans the use of federal dollars for research in which an embryo is destroyed.

See Also: Wash. Post: NIH cannot fund embryonic stem cell research, judge rules, by Rob Stein & Spencer S. Hsu:

A federal judge on Monday blocked the Obama administration from funding human embryonic stem cell research, ruling that the support violates a federal law barring the use of taxpayer money for experiments that destroy human embryos.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits the National Institutes of Health from funding the research under the administration's new guidelines, citing an appeals court's ruling that the researchers who had challenged the less-restrictive policy have the legal standing to pursue their lawsuit.

The decision, a setback for one of the administration's most high-profile scientific policies, was praised by opponents of the research. . . .

August 24, 2010 in Bioethics, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Defending Planned Parenthood's Efforts to Increase Access to Safe Abortions in Rural Iowa

RH Reality Check: A Pioneering Effort to Increase Rural Women's Access to Safe Abortion in Iowa, by Kathleen Reeves: 

For the past two years, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has been using video-conferencing and a remote-controlled drawer to dispense abortion pills to women seeking early abortions in Iowa clinics. Operation Rescue is taking aim at the practice, charging that because these medication abortions are not “performed by a physician,” they violate Iowa law.

This claim doesn’t stand up. True, medication abortion straddles the line between procedure and prescription: while the physician only acts insofar as giving a woman two pills, the more significant part of the procedure is the counseling that precedes it. But this is exactly the point: the medication abortion “procedure” requires the counsel and knowledge of a health care provider—and these days, we do not have to be physically present to share knowledge and expertise. The digital age has removed countless barriers to information, particularly geographic barriers. Why shouldn’t digital technology also remove barriers to health care. . . .

August 23, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Submissions: Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society's 2011 Symposium

The Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society Announces our 2011 Symposium: Gender, Justice, & Victim Rights: A Gendered Perspective of Victims in the Criminal Justice System
February 25, 2011
University of Wisconsin Law School
Madison, Wisconsin
We are seeking original scholarship, from both scholars and practitioners, that addresses the intersections of law and gender in the role and treatment of victims in the criminal justice system. Interested parties should send an abstract to WJLGS.Symposium@gmail.com by October 31, 2010.  Those selected for the Symposium will be notified by December 2010.  The Journal’s Symposium issue will be published in Winter 2011.

Questions may be addressed to Symposium Editor Erin Welsh at ebwelsh@wisc.edu.

August 23, 2010 in Conferences and Symposia, Law School, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

India Pays Newlyweds to Delay Childbirth

NY Times: India Tries Using Cash Bonuses to Slow Birthrates, by Jim Yardley:

India_flag SATARA, India — Sunita Laxman Jadhav is a door-to-door saleswoman who sells waiting. She sweeps along muddy village lanes in her nurse’s white sari, calling on newly married couples with an unblushing proposition: Wait two years before getting pregnant, and the government will thank you.

It also will pay you.

“I want to tell you about our honeymoon package,” began Ms. Jadhav, an auxiliary nurse, during a recent house call on a new bride in this farming region in the state of Maharashtra. Ms. Jadhav explained that the district government would pay 5,000 rupees, or about $106, if the couple waited to have children. Waiting, she promised, would allow them time to finish their schooling or to save money.

Waiting also would allow India more time to curb a rapidly growing population that threatens to turn its demography from a prized asset into a crippling burden. With almost 1.2 billion people, India is disproportionately young; roughly half the population is younger than 25. . . . 

August 22, 2010 in International, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Germany's Constitutional Court Rules Same-Sex Partners Entitled to Equal Inheritance Rights

Feminist Wire (Ms. Magazine): German Same-Sex Couples to Receive Equal Inheritance Rights

German flag Germany's Federal Constitutional Court has ruled that registered same-sex partners should receive the same inheritance rights as married couples. According to theAssociated Press, the court decided yesterday in favor of two plaintiffs who had lost their partners and were forced to pay an inheritance tax similar to those paid by distant relatives.

"The Constitutional Court ruled that there was not a significant enough difference between married spouses and registered life partners to justify discrimination against the latter," court spokeswoman Judith Blohm told Deutsche Welle. The court has given the German government until 2011 to compensate those penalized under the unconstitutional inheritance law, according toReuters. . . .

August 21, 2010 in In the Courts, International, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Birth Control Beyond the Pill

NY Times: Birth Control Doesn’t Have to Mean the Pill, by Michelle Andrews:

There was a time when Becky Thurmond Fowler neglected to take her birth control pills for days on end. But she didn’t worry, because she and her husband, Dan, wanted to have a child at some point. “It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I got pregnant,” she said.

That attitude changed after Ms. Fowler had a daughter, Emerson, now 2 1/2. But with a new baby demanding all her attention, Ms. Fowler, now 33, found herself becoming even more forgetful about taking the pills. Soon she began to worry about the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy: “We were just rolling the dice.”

Many women struggle to find a birth control strategy that is effective given their particular circumstances. About half of all pregnancies — three million annually — are unintended. . . . 

August 21, 2010 in Contraception, Fertility | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)