Monday, October 11, 2010

First Embryonic Stem-Cell Treatment on Patient Begins

ABC News: Medical Milestone: Genetics Company Begins First Embryonic Stem-Cell Treatment on Patient, by David Wright & Dan Childs:

Caduceus First Study to Focus on How Patient With Spinal Cord Injuries Will React to Treatment

For years, scientists have held out the promise that embryonic stem cells could repair damaged spinal cords and cure other serious ailments.

Scientists today got one step closer to making that promise a reality as they began an embryonic stem-cell treatment on a patient with spinal cord injuries. It is the first time a medical therapy has been used on a human in a government approved study. . . .

October 11, 2010 in Medical News, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Op-Ed, Laura Bush Advocates for Women's Rights in Afghanistan

The Washington Post (op-ed): Afghanistan must embrace women's rights, by Laura W. Bush:

The haunting portrait of a young, disfigured Afghan woman on Time magazine's cover this summer issued a stark reminder that the stakes in Afghanistan are high -- and that the consequences of failure are brutal, especially for women.

On Friday I met with Bibi Aisha in California, where, thanks to the compassion of many individuals and organizations, she is receiving reconstructive surgery and beginning the long road of healing. The visible scars of her disfigurement will heal with time, but moving beyond the emotional and psychological trauma of her torturous mutilation may be more difficult.

Bibi Aisha's story and the prevalence of intimidation and violence against Afghan women raise important questions for those working to establish this young democracy. Will Afghanistan embrace and protect the rights of all people? Or will it be a nation that allows the oppression of women to continue unabated? . . .

October 11, 2010 in Culture, International, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professor Discusses Complexities of Gender Identity in Athletics

ESPN Outside the Lines: Professor: Sports need gender policies, by Lindsay Rovegno & Julie Foudy:

Caster Semenya's life changed because of eight seconds. It took 11 months before she could start to piece it back together.

In August 2009, the South African runner won the 800-meter world championship in 1:55:45. Immediately following the race, Semenya was forced to skip the postrace news conference and ushered out of the stadium.

A representative from the International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field's world governing body, took her place at the podium and explained that an eight-second improvement from her time at a race several weeks prior had triggered an investigation. The investigation included sex determination testing to confirm Semenya's eligibility to race as a woman. . . .

October 11, 2010 in Medical News, Sexuality, Sports, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Northern Ireland Bishops Oppose Medical Conference Addressing Abortion Provision

BBC News: Bishops criticise holding of abortion seminar:

The Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland have criticised the holding of a conference dealing with abortion

The bishops said they "deplored and opposed" the two-day conference which was organised by the Family Planning Association.

They said the conference was designed to undermine the rights and welfare of children in the womb and "normalise what is unacceptable".

The FPA said it was "an accredited medical conference to update health professionals". . . .

October 11, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Australian Couple Faces Trial Over At-Home Abortion

The Sydney Morning Herald: Abortion rallies support Cairns couple, by Lisa Martin:

Australia Women have rallied across Australia in support of a young Queensland couple facing trial this week over a home abortion.

Tegan Simone Leach, 20, and her partner, Sergie Brennan, 22, were in 2009 committed to stand trial for allegedly importing abortion drugs from the Ukraine to terminate a pregnancy.

Ms Leach is charged with procuring an abortion and could face seven years in jail if convicted.

Mr Brennan is charged with supplying drugs to procure an abortion and could be sentenced to three years' jail if convicted.

The trial, scheduled to begin on October 12 in the Cairns District Court, is Queensland's first abortion trial in 24 years.

The case has revealed a flaw in Queensland's criminal code which offers legal protection for surgical abortions only. . . .

October 11, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Rejects Resolution to Regulate Religous Refusals to Provide Abortion, Even After Polish Woman's Death

Center for Reproductive Rights press release: Abortion Opponents Undercut Council of Europe Resolution on Conscientious Objection:

Today, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) undercut a resolution intended to regulate the use of conscientious objection by reproductive healthcare providers. The resolution did not pass as proposed and its provisions were severely diluted by a number of harmful anti-abortion amendments.

"It is truly a dismal day in Europe when the lives and health of women take a back seat to political agendas and ideological imperatives," said Christina Zampas, regional manager and senior legal adviser for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Today's disappointing vote shows the growing political power of the anti-choice movement among both governments and civil society, as well as a lack of political commitment to women's reproductive health by ostensibly pro-choice politicians."

The resolution would have offered the first set of comprehensive guidelines from a regional or international body on how governments must balance a woman's right to reproductive health and autonomy with an individual's right to conscientious objection. In many member states of the Council of Europe, the practice of conscientious objection in the medical field is largely unregulated. As a result, healthcare providers deny women access to lawful reproductive health services based on moral or religious objections—severely impacting their health and lives. The PACE resolution as originally proposed recommended that governments develop comprehensive regulations and guarantee the right to conscientious objection only to individuals, not to public health facilities. They also recommended that public facilities provide patients with information on all of their medical options and treatment in cases of emergency regardless of an individual practitioner's objections.

"When a healthcare worker objects to providing legal reproductive services because of his or her conscience, it is imperative to a woman's health and life that the government make sure that she can still get the services she needs and is legally entitled," said Zampas, whose expertise helped draft a report presented to PACE on the unregulated use of conscientious objection.

In a number of European countries, including Italy, Poland, Hungary, and Croatia, there are laws requiring doctors to inform patients of any conscientious objection to a procedure and refer the patients to another provider, but there is no oversight mechanism. For example, the Center is currently working closely with the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning and the Warsaw University Law Clinic on a lawsuit against Poland in the European Court of Human Rights for the death of a woman who was refused treatment for colon disease because doctors feared it would harm the fetus. Edyta* was two months pregnant when she was diagnosed with the painful colon disease which was aggravated by her pregnancy. When she sought medical care in her Polish hometown and other cities, however, doctor after doctor refused to treat her illness because she was pregnant. They repeatedly expressed concern about the fetus, but none of them formally raised a moral or religious objection so they did not have to refer Edyta to a doctor that would treat her. Edyta's symptoms grew worse until she miscarried and eventually, died. The lawsuit aims to ensure that Poland maintains enough healthcare workers who are willing to provide all legal health services and that patients get timely referrals. The suit also asks the court to prohibit hospitals and other institutions from invoking conscientious objection or using it to deny patients information or emergency care.

October 11, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Former Iowa Governor Branstad Urges Ban on Telemedicine for Dispensing Abortion Pills Branstad: Using telemedicine to give abortion pills wrong, by Rod Boshart:

IOWA CITY — Former Gov. Terry Branstad says he believes using telemedicine to prescribe and dispense abortion-inducing pills is inappropriate and the practice should be discontinued in Iowa. . . .

At issue is a practice by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland whereby licensed physicians use a remote-controlled system to conduct medical assessments with patients in rural Iowa clinics via a two-way, closed circuit audio-video hookup in real time and dispense Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, in the early stages of a pregnancy. . . .

October 11, 2010 in Abortion, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In England, Conflicting Views Over Appropriate Response to Public Sex

NY Times: Here’s the Pub, Church and Field for Public Sex, by Sarah Lyall:

British flag PUTTENHAM, England —

. . . Puttenham, about an hour’s drive from London, has fewer than 2,500 residents and is famous for its ancient church; its friendly pub, the Good Intent; and its proud inclusion in both the Domesday Book — an 11th-century survey of English lands — and “Brave New World.”

Unhappily for many people here, it is also famous for being featured on lists of good places to go “dogging” — that is, to have sex in public, sometimes with partners you have just met online, so that others can watch. So popular is the woodsy field below the ridge as a spot for gay sex (mostly during the day) and heterosexual sex (mostly at night) that the police have designated it a “public sex environment.”

Public sex is a popular — and quasi-legal — activity in Britain, according to the authorities and to the large number of Web sites that promote it. (It is treated as a crime only if someone witnesses it, is offended and is willing to make a formal complaint.) And the police tend to tread lightly in public sex environments, in part because of the bitter legacy of the time when gay sex was illegal and closeted men having anonymous sex in places like public bathrooms were routinely arrested and humiliated. . . .

October 11, 2010 in Culture, International, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Canadian Case, Parents and Surrogate Disagreed Over Abortion

Jezebel: Parents Push Unwilling Surrogate To Have An Abortion, by Anna North:

A Canadian couple discovered their fetus had Down syndrome, and they wanted an abortion. But because they were using a surrogate, their case got a lot more complicated.

According to the National Post, the surrogate who was carrying the fetus didn't want to abort, and so the decision about the fate of a pregnancy became an issue of contract law. The surrogacy agreement stipulated that if the surrogate went ahead with the pregnancy, the biological parents would have no responsibility toward the resulting child. Some, however, feel that traditional legal strictures shouldn't apply in this case. . . .

h/t: Allison Lauterbach

October 7, 2010 in Abortion, Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Amanda Felkey & Kristina Lybecker on Abortion Availability and Use of Oral Contraceptives

Amanda J. Felkey (Lake Forest College) and Kristina M. Lybecker (Colorado College) have posted Variation in Pill Use: Do Abortion Laws Matter? on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Economists have studied the impact of legalized abortion on a variety of factors including women’s decision surrounding when to enter the work force and how many hours to work, schooling and most controversially crime. They have also examined the determinants of state abortion restrictions across the United States, considering the strength of interest advocacy groups and demographic characteristics. Notably absent from the existing literature is a study of the impact of legalized abortion on the use of contraceptives. Earlier work has established that states with more lenient laws regarding access to contraceptive services by minors have greater pill use, but the impact of the legal framework surrounding abortion restrictions has not been examined. This paper explores the possibility that variation in state abortion availability, as proxied by legislation pertaining to women’s reproductive rights (particularly either supporting or restricting access to abortions) across the United States may generate variation in the use of birth control pills. Without the option of terminating a pregnancy, one would expect that oral contraceptives would be more widely utilized. We find restrictions on abortion availability (through abortion legislation mandating parental consent or notification) induce women to seek a reliable form of birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancies, while pro-choice sentiments in the legislature may have the opposite effect. We also consider the effect of sex education on the rate of oral contraceptive use within states.

October 7, 2010 in Abortion, Contraception, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Conference to Address Search for Common Ground in Abortion Debate

Princton University: A Conference on Life & Choice in the Abortion Debate:

Princeton October 15 & 16, 2010

Inspired by President Obama’s call during his Notre Dame address for those on different sides of the abortion issue not only to work together where we agree, but also to engage in "vigorous debate" with "open hearts, open minds, and fair minded words."

Issues to be Explored:

  • Emerging opportunities to bridge the abortion divide
  • Moral status of the fetus
  • Whether some reasons for abortion exacerbate discrimination against persons
  • When might a fetus feel pain and what should we do about it
  • How far the right of conscientious refusal extends
  • Should abortion be a matter for the courts or the legislatures

If you are not able to attend the conference, you will be able to watch it live online.

October 7, 2010 in Abortion, Conferences and Symposia, Public Opinion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pro-Choice Protest Demands Repeal of New Zealand's Restrictive Abortion Laws

Voxy News Engine: Pro-Choice Protest To Hit Wellington Streets, by Emily Mountier:

A protest will be held on Tuesday at 1pm outside the Court of Appeal in Wellington demanding the repeal of New Zealand's current restrictive abortion laws. The demonstration will be targeted at the appeal hearing in Right to Life's ongoing case against the Abortion Supervisory Committee [1]. If successful, Right to Life's court action will severely curtail New Zealanders' reproductive rights. Action for Abortion Rights, a part of the coalition of groups organising the protest [2], is demanding that women have total ability to control what happens to their own bodies.

The current laws relating to abortion are patronising and disempowering to women. Even though no contraception is 100% effective, contraceptive failure is not grounds for an abortion. Rape is only a "factor that may be taken into account" [3] rather than sufficient grounds for an abortion in itself. Most abortions that take place now are done for "mental health reasons" which denies the capacity of healthy, competent women to make their own best reproductive choices. . . .

October 7, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NIH First Entity to License a Patent on a New AIDS Drug

The New York Times: H.I.V.: National Institutes of Health Licenses Its Patent on a New Drug for AIDS, by Donald G. McNeil:

HIV virus In a move that gave official American backing to the controversial idea of a “patent pool,” the National Institutes of Health last week became the first entity to license its patent on a new AIDS drug to an entity loosely affiliated with the World Health Organization.

The rights to the N.I.H. patent on the drug, darunavir, do not mean that generic-drug makers will instantly be able to make it cheaply for poor countries, since other darunavir patents are held by private companies, including Tibotec, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.

But it increases pressure on drug makers to follow suit. They have been reluctant because they fear losing the profits they could make as once-poor countries become richer, as India and Brazil have. Also, they fear losing control over quality, since a bad batch of a generic could hurt the reputations of their patented drugs. Instead, they have tended to cut private deals with generic makers. . . .

October 7, 2010 in International, Medical News, President/Executive Branch, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Justice Kagan Makes Her Mark on First Day of Court Term

USA Today: Kagan fills seats, makes her mark on first day of court term, by Joan Biskupic:

WASHINGTON — Their membership has changed, and they haven't sat together in months. Yet on Monday when Supreme Court justices took up the first case of the term, they quickly fell into familiar patterns. And newest Justice Elena Kagan was right in there with them.Justice Antonin Scalia rebuked the first lawyer up for failing to invoke the language of a disputed law. "What's the language we are dealing with?" Scalia demanded. "Read the text of the statute, would you, please, for me?"Justice Stephen Breyer raised one of his peculiar hypotheticals, this one centered on a car owner who spends $48 a month on apples to decorate his vehicle, then tries to claim the apple expenses as part of his car costs.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg relentlessly tried to draw out precise answers and steer the argument. She encouraged one lawyer to sit down, saying, "You may want to save the rest of your time for rebuttal." Appearing at ease, Kagan jumped in about 15 minutes into the session, sounding confident and asking a total of 10 questions during the hour. . . .

October 7, 2010 in In the Courts, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rebels in Congo Gang-Rape Over 200 Women

The New York Times: Frenzy of Rape in Congo Reveals U.N. Weakness, by Jeffrey Gettleman:

LUVUNGI, Democratic Republic of Congo — Four armed men barged into Anna Mburano’s hut, slapped the children and threw them down. They flipped Mrs. Mburano on her back, she said, and raped her, repeatedly.

It did not matter that dozens of United Nations peacekeepers were based just up the road. Or that Mrs. Mburano is around 80 years old.

“Grandsons!” she yelled. “Get off me!”

As soon as they finished, they moved house to house, along with hundreds of other marauding rebels, gang-raping at least 200 women. . . .

October 7, 2010 in International, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court's Stealth Attack on Women's Rights

Slate Magazine: Watch as We Make This Law Disappear, by Barry Friedman & Dahlia Lithwick:

Supreme Court How the Roberts Court disguises its conservatism.

It's dark and silent. Reporters trickle into the grand ceremonial room from a door on the left; like everyone, they've been instructed that no recording devices of any sort are allowed. A clutch of spectators, some of whom have been waiting for hours, enters at the rear. At 10 a.m. on the dot, never earlier and never later, the marshal utters her incantation: "The honorable, the chief justice and the associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States." Then they file, from behind the velvet curtain, wearing long black robes; they sit behind a tall dais, sipping water from silver cups. Silent footmen glide back and forth bearing thick books. For the justices, it's a typical oral argument day, but if you didn't know better, you'd think you were watching the initiation into Harry Potter's school for wizards, Hogwarts; or, better yet, the Penn and Teller show at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Magic, mystery, and hush everywhere you look. . . .

How does the Roberts Court work its magic in that marble mega-mall of the law? Here, revealed, are the top tricks of the illusionist Roberts Court.

Trick 1: Stacking the Deck . . . .

Here's another example: Roe v. Wade. The conservative justices don't like it, but they can't simply overrule it because … well, there's that public opinion to consider, and this pesky legal issue known as "precedent." This time they whittled by taking a 2005 case, Gonzales v. Carhart, involving what in media parlance is called "partial birth abortion." The law bans late-term abortions in which the fetus is partially delivered before its brains are sucked out and skull collapsed. If you find it hard even to read that, you've caught the point: That's deck-stacking. . . .

October 7, 2010 in Abortion, Gonzales v. Carhart, In the Courts, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Condemns Alleged Stoning of Woman in Pakistan

Feminist Wire (Ms. Magazine): Alleged Stoning of Woman in Pakistan Condemned by US:

Last week, the US Department of State released a statement condemning the alleged stoning of a woman by members of the Taliban in northwest Pakistan. "The vicious attack...violates all terms of human decency and is a chilling example of the cowardly disregard violent extremists have for human life," US Department of State spokesman Philip J. Crowley said in a State Department press release. He continued, "there is no justification for such barbaric and cruel treatment of a human being."

A video of the stoning, which appears to have taken place in Orakzai, Pakistan, has been widely circulated on the internet. According to Reuters, the graphic footage shows a hooded woman stretched across the ground as a group of men throw large rocks at her until she dies. The video was released by Al Aan, a television channel based in Dubai, which focuses on Arab women's issues. Al Aan reports that the woman was stoned because she had been seen with a man. . . .

October 7, 2010 in International, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scott Titshaw on INA Recognition of Parent-Child Relationships Stemming from Assisted Reproductive Technology

Scott Titshaw (Mercer University School of Law) has posted Sorry, Ma'am, Your Baby is an Alien: Outdated Immigration Rules and Assisted Reproductive Technology on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Scott Titshaw The growing use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and legal recognition of same-sex relationships are raising questions regarding the recognition of parent-child relationships. State and foreign family law have been wrestling with these issues for decades, but U.S. immigration law is lagging far behind.

So far, guidance exists on only one ART related issue under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA): whether a U.S. citizen transmits her citizenship to a child born abroad. Unfortunately, that guidance is contradictory. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) requires genetic kinship for citizenship transmission. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals focuses on the parents’ marriage, requiring no genetic link between a child born in wedlock and a U.S. citizen parent.

Married, different-sex couples are the most likely cohort to use ART to build a family. However, this issue may be even more important to same-sex couples. Since birth certificates are the primary evidence used to demonstrate a parent-child relationship, they are more likely to suffer from a genetic-relationship requirement.

This article aims to resolve this and other issues regarding INA recognition of parent-child relationships stemming from ART. It briefly reviews the various ways that state laws have dealt with ART related parentage issues. It then explores the legislative, administrative and judicial history of the relevant INA provisions, paying particular attention to developments dealing with “legitimacy,” an issue that raised similar questions during the twentieth century. It argues for deference to state and foreign law in determining the parentage of children conceived through ART and whether the child was “born in wedlock.”

October 6, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Parenthood, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Apologizes for "Abhorrent" STD Experiments in Guatemala

MSNBC: U.S. apologizes for Guatemala STD experiments, by Robert Bazell:

Government researchers infected patients with syphilis, gonorrhea without their consent in the 1940s

U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service. . . .

October 6, 2010 in International, Medical News, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Conference on Surrogacy: November 5th at Rutgers School of Law-Camden

Conference Announcement:
Making Sense of Surrogacy
Rutgers School of Law-Camden
Please join us on Friday, November 5 from 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for an inter-disciplinary conference on surrogacy
8:30 a.m.  Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m.  Welcome
9:15-10:45 a.m. - Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Surrogacy Arrangements
Dr. Margaret Marsh, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences & the Graduate School at Rutgers Camden
Dr. Elly Teman, Research Fellow, Penn Center for the Integration of Genetic Healthcare Technologies, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Susan Markens, Assistant Professor, City University of New York, Lehman College
Professor Kimberly Mutcherson, Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers School of Law-Camden
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Surrogacy Law and Ethics
William Singer, Esq. of Singer & Fedun, LLC
Robin A. Fleischner, Esq.
Tiffany Palmer, Esq. of Jerner & Palmer, P.C.
Donald C. Cofsky, Esq. of Cofsky & Zeidman, LLC
The conference will take place at Rutgers School of Law-Camden in rm. E-108.  The law school is located at 217 n.5th Street, Camden, New Jersey and is easily accessible by public transportation.
Lunch will be available for all attendees immediately following the conference. 
There is no charge for attending, but please rsvp to [email protected] if you plan to attend the lunch.
Application pending for New Jersey CLE credit.
Co-sponsored by:
Family Law Society
Rutgers Journal of Law and Public Policy
Women’s Law Caucus
Law Students for Reproductive Justice (Rutgers School of Law – Camden chapter)

October 5, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Conferences and Symposia, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)