Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pope Leads Vigil of Prayer for "Nascent Human Life"

YouTube: Pope: nascent life threatened by adults' selfishness:


The Pope describes a human embryo as a "unique individual."  But does an embryo have the same moral status as a person?  Does the Pope's reference to "nascent" life suggest it does not?  For an article in which I discuss the need for clarity and consistency on these questions, see The Meaning of 'Life': Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate.

November 28, 2010 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, International, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Documentary Seeks to Boost Understanding of Abortions Performed in Later Stages of Pregnancy

Huffington Post: Late-Term Abortion: Filmmakers Seek to Boost Understanding, by Catherine Epstein:

On afternoon in late October, filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson sat at Shane's kitchen table, creating dozens of homemade buttons that read "Trust Women," the working title of their documentary. The film tells the story of two doctors who perform late-term abortions, and the buttons are gifts for contributors. Only a third of the way through shooting, Shane and Wilson say they need all the financial help they can get. . . .

November 28, 2010 in Abortion, Culture, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Paul Lombardo on the History of Eugenics in the United States

Paul A. Lombardo (Georgia State University College of Law) has posted Introduction: Looking Back at Eugenics on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Lombardo In 1907, Indiana passed the first involuntary sterilization law in the world based on the theory of eugenics. In time, more than thirty states and a dozen foreign countries followed Indiana’s lead in passing sterilization laws; those and other laws restricting immigration and regulating marriage on “eugenic” grounds were still in effect in the United States as late as the 1970s. 

The centennial of Indiana’s pioneering enactment provided an opportune time to evaluate the historical significance of eugenics in America. On April 12, 2007, a group that included scholars, state officials, and members of the public assembled in Indianapolis for the culmination of the Indiana Eugenics Legacy Project. The project was designed to advance historical research on eugenics, to deepen our understanding of the varied ways “eugenics” was expressed intellectually, legally, and socially, and to help draw lessons from history for current policy makers.

The volume described in this Introduction was the final product of the Indiana Eugenics Legacy Project. In the past twenty-five years, scholars have documented the wide appeal of eugenics and A Century of Eugenics, edited by Paul A. Lombardo (forthcoming from the Indiana University Press) builds on that growing literature. In contrast to the many wide-ranging scholarly and popular surveys of eugenics already available, this book is an exploration of the detailed and varied history of eugenics in America at the state and local levels. It contains original scholarship that probes practices in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina and Alabama, along with other papers that explore eugenics from perspectives that include attention to bioethics, law, and race. We intend to contribute to the ongoing national discussion about the meanings of “eugenics” and how those meanings played out in specific and concrete contexts.

November 28, 2010 in Bioethics, Scholarship and Research, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Filipino Family Planning Bill Faces Opposition from Catholic Leadership

Time: Philippines: Hope, Finally, for a Family-Planning Law, by Emily Rauhala:

It was an awkward situation: There I was, stuck in a windowless conference room, talking sex with a Catholic priest. Not just any priest — an Archbishop, sitting under a portrait of the Pope.

Philippines It was April 2008, and His Excellency Paciano Aniceto and I had met in Manila to discuss his position on contraception. As a member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, Aniceto has been a prominent anticondom campaigner, denouncing all forms of "artificial" contraception despite demand from the people and a population boom that the national economy can't handle. Like most Catholic leaders in the Philippines, he says birth control pills and condoms are "antilife" and argues that contraception is a gateway to abortion. Both are claims his allies are likely to trot out this week as the Philippines — and much of the world — considers the Pope's comment that condoms may be used, in rare circumstances, to stop the spread of HIV but should not be used as birth control. . . .

November 27, 2010 in Abortion Bans, Contraception, International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

James Dwyer on Parentage Laws and the Rights of Children

James G. Dwyer (William & Mary Law School) has posted A Constitutional Birthright: The State, Parentage, and the Rights of Newborn Persons on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Dwyer State parentage laws, dictating who a newborn child’s first legal parents will be, have been the subject of constitutional challenges in several U.S. Supreme Court and many lower court decisions. All of those decisions, however, have focused on constitutional rights of adults (especially unwed biological fathers) who wish to become, or to avoid becoming, legal parents. Neither courts nor legal scholars have considered whether the children have any constitutional rights that constrain legislatures and courts in deciding which adults will be their legal parents. If a state enacted a parentage law that said, for example, that any child born to a birth mother who already had two children would be placed in a parentchild relationship at birth with applicants for adoption rather than with the birth mother, would that infringe on any constitutional right of the child? Or would the birth mother be the only person with standing to challenge the law? Such a law would be purely hypothetical in the U.S. (though not far from reality in some other parts of the world). But the actual current parentage laws in the United States, which confer legal parent status in almost all instances on biological parents, with no regard for fitness, also have a seriously adverse affect on a subset of children - specifically, children whose birth parents are manifestly unfit to raise children, as evidenced by serious child maltreatment histories, criminal records, substance abuse, mental illness, and/or imprisonment. This Article is the first to consider whether states violate a constitutional right of some children when their parentage laws consign the children to legal relationships with, and into the custody of, adults whom the state knows to be unfit. It identifies opportunities for children’s advocates to advance constitutional challenges to state parentage laws as applied to newborn offspring of adults unfit to parent, and it presents a robust legal theory to underwrite such challenges.

November 27, 2010 in Parenthood, Scholarship and Research, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NJ State Assembly Approves a Bill to Restore $5 Million in Family-Planning Funding

The Daily Princetonian: State Assembly votes to restore family planning funding, by Daniel Santoro:

The New Jersey State Assembly approved a bill to restore $5 million in funding for family-planning clinics on Monday. The bill passed by a vote of 44-25 with 10 abstentions.

The measure came after Republican Gov. Chris Christie eliminated the $7.5 million budget to support the clinics, which provided care to more than 100,000 patients across the state in 2009. Roughly 25 percent of the clinics’ budgets come from state funds, and many have been forced to reduce hours or shut down.

Since the vote fell 10 votes short of the 54-vote threshold needed to override a veto by the governor, Christie is expected to fight the plan. . . .

November 27, 2010 in Contraception, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LSRJ Survey Shows Few Law Schools Offer Reproductive Rights Courses

LSRJ Announces Results of First National Reproductive Rights Law & Justice Course Survey:

Only 18% of U.S. Law Schools Have Offered Reproductive Rights Law Courses

In a recently released study, Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) has found that fewer than one-fifth of ABA-approved law schools offered a reproductive rights law & justice course over the last seven years.  Among the 32 schools—located in 17 different states—that have offered their students a formal opportunity to study reproductive rights law as part of their legal training, there were 37 separate courses and instructor-led reading groups that have been taught at least once.  More than one-third of known classes have resulted from advocacy by LSRJ chapters.

For the Course Survey, click here.

See also: RH Reality Check: Defending Your Rights? Study Finds Few Law Schools Offer Training in Reproductive Justice, by Liz Kukura:

Advocates working in the reproductive rights, health, and justice movements know that training is important.  Whatever medium, forum, or discipline we work in, we know there are important skills and lessons to be learned, enabling us to do our work more thoughtfully and effectively.  Sometimes we face challenges obtaining the training and mentorship we need and, as in the case of abortion training in residency programs, advocates must work to create or improve access to skill-building opportunities.  In other contexts we may not even realize where the gaps in training are until we are challenged to step back and assess the landscape from a broader perspective.  Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) is committed to making sure that law students understand those gaps while in law school and that they ultimately secure the tools necessary to fill them. . . .

November 27, 2010 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Catholics for Choice on Pope's Condom Clarification

Catholics for Choice news release: Pope’s Clarification Reveals Significance of Condom Statement:

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement on the most recent news from the Vatican on condom use.

"The Vatican’s acknowledgement that Pope Benedict’s acceptance of condom use to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections relates to everybody shows how significant the pope’s comments are.

"This morning, the Vatican’s spokesperson, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said:

I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine. He told me no. The problem is this ... It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship. This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point.

"Conservatives, who immediately raced into action to deny the significance of the pope’s statement – after the text of the interview was published on Saturday – are left clutching at straws. Their attempts to contain condom use to male prostitutes are shown up for what they were – a sham. They have long sought to make the case that church teachings on these issues are unchanging and unchangeable. One can only hope that they will embrace this new position and advocate for condom use whenever necessary. . . .

November 23, 2010 in Contraception, International, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Vatican Confirms Shift in Condom Policy

The New York Times: After Condom Remarks, Vatican Confirms Shift, by Rachel Donadio:

Vatican Pope Benedict XVI’s recent comments about the use of condoms in select cases apply to women as well as men, the Vatican said Tuesday, a surprising first acknowledgment from the church that condom use can be part of a broader effort at AIDS prevention.

The clarification did not represent a change in church teaching on birth control, which remains forbidden, but it appeared to be a significant first response to critics who have long seen the church’s ban on condoms as a moral failing in light of the AIDS crisis. . . .

November 23, 2010 in Contraception, International, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Five Clinics Challenge Louisiana's New Abortion Clinic Regulations

RHReality Check: Roundup: Louisiana Clinics Fight New Abortion Restrictions, by Robin Marty:

The state of Louisiana's new abortion clinic regulation rules, passed during the previous legislative session, were already used to shut down one clinic in the state back in early September.  Now five outpatient clinics are suing the state, claiming the law violates their right to due process. . . .

November 20, 2010 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Defends Girls Who Wore "I ♥ Boobies" Bracelets to School

Time Magazine: I ♥ Boobies: ACLU Defends Girls' Right to Wear Sassy Bracelets, by Bonnie Rochman:

I ♥ boobies. They nourish children. They define a woman's silhouette. And sometimes, they turn toxic.

It's the latter that's the subject of Monday's free-speech lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Pennsylvania on behalf of two local schoolgirls who were suspended for wearing “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets. . . .

It was the ultimate irony: getting suspended on breast cancer awareness day for wearing breast cancer awareness bracelets. So the girls' moms phoned the ACLU. “We don't think our girls should be punished for this,” they said. “We don't think the bracelets are offensive.”  . . .
The school system disagrees. Boys were making inappropriate comments about the bracelets, approaching girls wearing them to proclaim, “I love your boobies,” and some teachers complained the message trivializes the seriousness of breast cancer. . . .

November 20, 2010 in In the Courts, Teenagers and Children, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2,000 Aborted Fetuses Found In Temple in Bangkok, Where Abortion is Illegal

USA Today: 2,000 aborted fetuses found in Bangkok temple, by Michael Winter:

Thai police have arrested three people after the remains of more than 2,000 aborted fetuses were found in a Buddhist temple in Bangkok. One of those charged was paid about $16 for each fetus collected from illegal abortion clinics.

Abortion is illegal in Thailand except in cases when delivery would harm the mother or the pregnancy resulted from rape.

Police found 1,654 fetuses today in two new mortuary rooms and 348 earlier in the week in another room, the Bangkok Post reports. The remains were wrapped in white plastic bags, and some had been at the temple for a year. . . .

November 20, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0) - Real or Hoax?

New York Daily News: Couple insists abortion-by-vote website is not a pro-life hoax, bloggers try to prove it is fake, by Meena Hartenstein:

Alisha Arnold is 16 weeks pregnant – but whether she will give birth to her baby or not is up to you.

Arnold and her husband Pete, both 30, are crowd sourcing the decision to keep their baby or have an abortion, via a poll open to the public on their website

The site has outraged many, and left the Internet buzzing with speculation it is a pro-life hoax.

But the Arnolds, who both work in IT and have been married for over nine years, insist the poll is for real. . . .

November 20, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, In the Media, Public Opinion, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Democrats Should Be Wary of Confrontation with Catholic Church on Abortion

LA Times Op-Ed: Will abortion be an issue again?, by Tim Rutten:

Catholic As Democrats continue to sift through the electoral ashes of the midterm meltdown, a number of longtime activists have begun to insist that the party needs to reassert more clearly and forcefully its commitment to reproductive rights.

Their argument is that in key states where Democratic senators survived the prevailing anti-incumbent sentiment — notably California and, much more narrowly, Colorado, Nevada and Washington — voters who indicated the greatest concern with a candidate's stand on abortion provided the margin of victory.

It's hard to make a credible case that anything but the miserable economy and joblessness mattered in this midterm, but that hasn't stopped determined culture warriors on both sides of the aisle from arguing that their party's future prospects turn on reviving conflict over the most divisive social issues, including abortion, marriage equality and immigration. . . .

November 20, 2010 in Abortion, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Individual Health Insurance Policies Often Do Not Cover Pregnancy

Chicago Tribune: Many individual health policies do not cover pregnancy, by Michelle Andrews:

Individual health insurance policies generally don't cover maternity care, as a recent investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce reported.

When Amy Tiller became pregnant six years ago, she was a high school biology teacher in Waynesville, N.C., and the health insurance plan she had through her school system covered the tab for the birth of her twins.

A few years later, when she discovered she was pregnant again, she didn't give insurance a thought, assuming she'd be covered once again. But by then she had left her teaching job to open a personal training studio with her husband, and they were covered under individual health insurance policies.

Tiller was shocked to discover that her new plan didn't cover maternity care at all unless she purchased a special rider for the coverage, something she could not do after she became pregnant. "I was paying so much -- $400 a month" for the insurance premium, she says. "I thought it must be a mistake." . . .

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NYC Council Preparing a Ruling on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

RHReality Check: "Honest Reproductive Care" At Center of New York City Crisis Pregnancy Center Debate, by Robin Marty:

Lady Liberty The New York City Council is preparing to make a ruling on whether so called crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) should be required to publicly state that they do not provide abortions, contraception, or referrals for either and whether or not they have qualified medical staff on site or are licensed medical facilities.  The new proposed regulations come on the heels of an extensive investigation of these centers by NARAL Pro-Choice New York, during which visits were made to multiple centers to observe the use of misleading and in some cases dangerous tactics to coerce women who are seeking to end their pregnancies into carrying to term.

Like CPCs in other areas that have been regulated by new local truth in advertising laws, New York CPCs are claiming that any sort of regulation is an intrusion on their freedom of speech.  However, the New York City Civil Liberties Union has now weighed in on the matter and says that there is no reason regulations should limit their free speech, and that women deserve to be protected from dishonesty when it comes to choosing reproductive care.

November 18, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Center for Reproductive Rights Files Contempt Motion Against FDA Over Emergency Contraception Age Restriction

Center for Reproductive Rights press release: The Center Takes the FDA Back to Court:

FDA For more than a year and a half, the FDA and the Obama Administration has ignored a court order to reconsider its refusal to make emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter to women of all ages. The Center has given the FDA ample time to end its baseless restrictions, but as of today it has not taken any steps to comply with the court order—most recently saying it will wait to review a new application from the manufacturer that may or may not be filed at some unspecified time in the future.

The Center is now taking the FDA back to court and are calling on supporters to write the FDA Commissioner to take immediate action to end restrictions on emergency contraception.

November 18, 2010 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Frances Kissling on the Search for Common Ground in the Abortion Debate

Salon: How to Think About Abortion, by Frances Kissling:

The midterm elections resulted in significant gains in the antiabortion political delegation: In the House, there are 44 more antiabortion votes and six in the Senate. Blue Dog anti-choice Democrats were also replaced by right-wing Republicans who are not only antiabortion but anti-family planning and far more likely to seek hard-line restrictions on access to abortion, rather than join any effort to make abortion less necessary by supporting better access to family planning.

For choice advocates it raises the question of whether President Obama’s efforts to bridge the divide on the issue remain worth pursuing. His call two years ago at Notre Dame for "open hearts, open minds and fair-minded words" on abortion wasn’t much help in negotiating healthcare reform. The major legislative vehicle for expressing common ground on abortion, the pro-life Tim Ryan and pro-choice Rosa DeLauro bill Preventing Unintended Pregnancy, Reducing the Need for Abortions and Supporting Parents Act has never garnered a single Republican co-sponsor -- and with Republicans in control of the House, it's effectively dead. Obama's "common ground" allies were defeated by pro-life Democratic members of Congress and the Catholic bishops. Restrictive state bills continued to be introduced, especially in the wake of healthcare reform. At the White House policy office, interest in finding common ground has come to a halt. A promised common ground strategy paper was never issued. . . .

November 18, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State Legislatures, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU Demands Walgreens to Stop Discriminating Against Men Buying Emergency Contraception

Austin News ACLU fights for male contraception buys:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project Tuesday called upon Walgreens to follow company policy and cease gender discrimination by refusing to sell emergency contraception to men.

“We know from complaints we have received that pharmacists at stores in Texas and Mississippi have failed to follow FDA guidelines and company policy,” said Lisa Graybill, ACLU of Texas legal director. Most recently, a Houston man, Adam Drake, contacted the ACLU when he was refused the sale of emergency contraception at a neighborhood Walgreens because no female accompanied him. . . .

November 18, 2010 in Contraception, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Parenthood Addiction?

Slate Magazine: Parents Are Junkies, by Shankar Vedantam:

If parenthood sucks, why do we love it? Because we're addicted.

At the end of a long day, after a rotten commute filled with road rage and little accomplished at work, with chores piled up at home and the weekend nowhere in sight, my 4-year-old daughter clambered onto the sofa next to me, cuddled into my arms, and planted a moist, unasked-for kiss on my cheek.

Poof. The exhaustion disappeared, the frustrations of the day melted away. I soaked in a bath of oxytocin. Everything was right with the world.

But wait. We're getting ahead of ourselves.

In the last few months, parents and researchers have been at war. Evidence has piled up to show that becoming a parent does not make people happier; it makes them unhappier. The data show that marriage increases happiness, but children reduce it. Marriages are vulnerable to divorce shortly after the arrival of children. . . .

November 15, 2010 in Culture, Parenthood | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)