Friday, December 31, 2010

Linda Greenhouse Sees Possible Parallel to U.S. in European Court of Human Rights' Decision on Ireland's Abortion Law

New York Times Opinionator: Abortion Takes Flight, by Linda Greenhouse:

Irish law prohibits all abortions except those necessary to save a woman’s life, and as a practical matter it imposes daunting obstacles to terminating life-threatening pregnancies as well. In a secularized Europe, Ireland is noticeably out of step. Of the 47 countries covered by the European Convention on Human Rights, only in the fairytale countries of Andorra, Malta and San Marino, where all abortions are illegal, is the law any stricter.

So a decision earlier this month from the European Court of Human Rights in the Case of A, B, and C v. Ireland, promised to be of more than routine interest. A challenge to the Irish law brought by three women asserting rights under the European Convention, it held the potential to express a Continent-wide consensus that abortion rights are human rights. . . .

But a closer reading of the 40,000-word decision tells a different story. . . .

Ordinarily I would not devote a column to the decision of a non-U.S. court, in the jurisprudence of which I claim no particular expertise. But as I finished reading this opinion, I had the eerie feeling that I was peering into a domestic future. . . .

December 31, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Supreme Court Oral Arguments Shift to the Left

LA Times: Sotomayor, Kagan shift Supreme Court debates to the left, by David G. Savage:

Supreme Court The liberal wing is no longer drowned out by Scalia and his fellow conservatives during oral arguments.

For most of the last two decades, Supreme Court conservatives led by Justice Antonin Scalia dominated the debates during oral arguments. They greeted advocates for liberal causes with sharp and sometimes caustic questions, putting them on the defensive from the opening minute.

But the tenor of the debate has changed in recent months, now that President Obama's two appointees to the court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, have joined the fray and reenergized the liberal wing. . . .

December 29, 2010 in Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Department of Justice Files Suit Against Louisville Abortion Protestor Lawsuit filed against Louisville abortion protester, by Jason Riley:

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a federal lawsuit against an abortion protester, claiming he used force against a volunteer escort and tried to intimidate women to keep them from going to a clinic in Louisville.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville, seeks to have a judge prohibit David Hamilton from coming within eight feet of anyone obtaining or providing services at EMW Women's Surgical Center, the only abortion clinic in Louisville.

The suit accuses Hamilton of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which was passed in 1994 after a series of slayings by anti-abortion protesters, and is seeking a $15,000 penalty and $5,000 in compensatory damages. . . .

December 29, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gonzales v. Carhart Emboldens State Legislatures

Wash. Post: Tests of 'Roe' more frequent since justices upheld late-term abortion ban in '07, by Robert Barnes:

LINCOLN, NEB. - Mike Flood, the 35-year-old speaker of Nebraska's legislature, had a problem: He wanted to stop the state's well-known abortion provider from offering late-term abortions.

A long line of Supreme Court precedents seemed to stand in his way. But Flood believes that a 2007 decision offers hope for him and other state legislators looking for ways to restrict abortion.

Using that decision as a road map, this spring Flood wrote and won passage of legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks. Introducing into law the concept of "fetal pain," it marked the first time that a state has outlawed the procedure so early in a pregnancy without an exception for the health of the woman.

The law shut down LeRoy Carhart, the provider who had planned to expand his practice outside Omaha and provide late-term abortions to women across the Midwest.

The importance of Flood's bill is likely to be felt far beyond Nebraska. . . .

December 29, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Gonzales v. Carhart, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Call for Submissions: Sarah Weddington Writing Prize

Law Students for Reproductive Justice and Center for Reproductive Rights:

Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) Law School Initiative are now accepting submissions for the sixth annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize. The theme this year is “Beyond the Books: Realizing Reproductive Rights in Real Lives.”
LSRJ & CRR are seeking fresh student scholarship that focuses on a particular community’s unique struggle for reproductive justice. Examples of communities disproportionately affected by reproductive oppression include ethnic, religious, or cultural minorities; people of color; women  in developing or war-torn countries; adolescents; low-income women; survivors of domestic violence; prisoners; LGBTQ individuals; and undocumented immigrants. Example topics include:  legal and non-legal barriers to health care access (e.g., impact of the Hyde and Helms Amendments on poor women in the U.S. and abroad); surviving pregnancy and childbirth (e.g., racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality); denial of reproductive healthcare services on the basis of conscience (e.g., repercussions in rural communities with only one hospital or pharmacy); cruel, unusual, or degrading treatment  in reproductive healthcare delivery (e.g., shackling of incarcerated women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery); reproductive health effects of exposure to pollution and toxins (e.g., farm/factory workers and residents of low-income neighborhoods); and the intersection of HIV/AIDS and intimate partner violence (e.g., barriers to justice for communities with problematic relationships to governmental authorities).
We encourage writing that amplifies lesser heard voices, applies an intersectional, reproductive justice lens to legal thinking, offers anti-essentialist analysis, and/or suggests innovative solutions that take into account the practical realities and the lived experiences of the people affected by various forms of subordination and reproductive oppression.
Papers may be domestic or international in scope and may draw on human rights treaties, international legal norms, comparative law, U.S. constitutional case law, and/or statutory law and regulation. Authors are asked to apply a reproductive justice lens and/or human rights framework to their analyses of the issues. To learn more about:

Reproductive Justice (RJ):
o    What is Reproductive Justice?:
o    Links to publications about RJ:

Reproductive Rights as Human Rights:
o    Human Rights Law Primer:
o    CRR publication: Repro Rights are Human Rights:

Previous winning submissions:
Papers must be at least 20 pages in length (not including footnotes), double-spaced in 12-point font with footnotes in 10-point font. Papers must conform to Bluebook citation format. Only original scholarship by law students or law graduates of 2010 will be accepted. Papers submitted for publication elsewhere will be accepted; however papers previously published will not be accepted. Winners will be selected by an outside panel of legal academic judges.  Send your submission (in Word format as an email attachment) to [email protected] by 5:00pm PST on Tuesday, March 1, 2011.
The 1st place winning submission will be published in the NYU Review of Law and Social Change. Winning authors will receive cash prizes: $750 (1st place), $500 (2nd place), or $250 (3rd place) and have the opportunity to be published in the Reproductive Justice Law & Policy SSRN e-journal.

December 25, 2010 in Law School, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Teen Birthrate Hits Record Low

Wash. Post: Birthrate among teens hits record low, by Rob Stein:

The rate at which U.S. women are having babies continued to fall between 2008 and 2009, federal officials reported Tuesday, pushing the teen birthrate to a record low and prompting a debate about whether the drop was caused by the recession, an increased focus on encouraging abstinence, more adolescents using birth control or a combination of those factors. . . .

December 23, 2010 in Contraception, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

RNC Candidates Declare Opposition to Abortion

Politico: RNC candidates make social pledges, by Andy Barr:

Repub elephant
Some of the top-tier candidates seeking the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee have made their pitches to the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List in hopes of convincing social conservatives of their beliefs.

Wisconsin Republican Chairman Reince Priebus, Michigan National Committeeman Saul Anuzis and former RNC political director Gentry Collins each sat for interviews via skype with SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser and National Organization for Marriage Chairwoman Maggie Gallagher. . . .
All three of the candidates who were interviewed vowed to support anti-abortion causes as well as socially conservative candidates, as chairman of the RNC. . . .

December 23, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Women with High Income Potential Pay Price for Choosing Motherhood

The Atlantic: High-Earning Women Lose More From Motherhood, by Daniel Indiviglio:

Money Women pay a price for motherhood, literally. Even beyond the time sacrificed, gray hairs, and many other tradeoffs necessary when having children, working mothers also tend to earn less money than their peers who refrained from having kids. Back in August, David Leonhardt wrote a column about a study showing this. He follows up over the weekend in an Economix blog post explaining another study that provides some detail on how working mothers' income varies: those with high income potential suffer more. Well, of course they do.

I can't help but have one of those "Thank you Captain Obvious!" moments when reading his explanation of a National Bureau of Economic Research paper . . . .

December 23, 2010 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hospital Loses Catholic Affiliation Over Abortion to Save Woman’s Life

Los Angeles Times: Catholic affiliation stripped from hospital, by Mitchell Landsberg:

Catholic The Roman Catholic bishop of Phoenix stripped a hospital of its Catholic affiliation Tuesday for  performing an abortion last year that doctors said was needed to save the life of the mother.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted said he no longer had confidence that the administration of St. Joseph's Hospital would run it according to Catholic teachings, "and therefore this hospital cannot be considered Catholic."

Leaders of the institution, founded in 1895 by a Catholic order, the Sisters of Mercy, said it would continue to operate "in the Catholic tradition" but without the official sanction of the church.

"I have hoped and prayed that this day would not come," the bishop was quoted as saying at a Tuesday  news conference. "However, the faithful of the diocese have a right to know whether institutions of this importance are indeed Catholic in identity and practice.". . .

December 23, 2010 in Abortion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sudden Infant Death Most Prevalent on New Year's

USA Today: Sudden infant deaths most common on New Year's, by Randy Dotinga:

A new study finds that more babies die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the United States on New Year's Day than any other day of the year.It's not clear why, but researchers suspect it has something to do with parents who drink heavily the night before and put their children in jeopardy." Alcohol-influenced adults are less able to protect children in their care. We're saying the same thing is happening with SIDS: They're also less likely to protect the baby from it," said study author David Phillips, a sociologist. "It seems as if alcohol is a risk factor. We just need to find out what makes it a risk factor." SIDS kills an estimated 2,500 babies in the United States each year. Some researchers think genetic problems contribute to most cases with the risk boosted when babies sleep on their stomachs. Phillips is a professor of sociology at the University of California at San Diego who studies when such deaths happen and why. He said he became curious how the choices made by parents may affect SIDS and launched the new study, which appears in the current issue of the journal Addiction. Researchers analyzed a database of 129,090 deaths from SIDS from 1973 to 2006 and 295,151 other infant deaths during that time period. . . .

December 22, 2010 in Medical News, Parenthood | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House Passes Sex Trafficking Bill

Ms. Magazine: Domestic Sex Trafficking Bill Passed in the House:

The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act, sponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), passed the House on Tuesday night. The bill would have established shelters in six regions of the country and provide treatment and services to victims and new resources to law enforcement to prosecute sex traffickers.

Mary Ellison, Director of Public Policy at Polaris Project, clarified, "This passage is a sign that America is starting to realize that children in prostitution are victims of a horrific crime called human trafficking and are in need of services and support."

Unfortunately, an amendment was attached to the bill that killed it because it differed from the Senate bill and time ran out for the lame duck session. Meanwhile, there is a dramatic shortage of space and beds in shelters to help the approximately 100,000 underage girls who are victims of sex trafficking each year. . . .


December 22, 2010 in Congress, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

MTV to Air Special on Abortion

Entertainment Weekly: MTV to air special report tackling abortion Dec. 28 (Exclusive), by Jennifer Armstrong:

After documenting dozens of teen mothers’ heart-wrenching stories via its hit 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom series, MTV will tackle the sensitive issue of abortion with a separate special called No Easy Decision, EW has learned exclusively. The special, airing Dec. 28 at 11:30 p.m., will follow one former 16 and Pregnant subject, Markai, as she wrestles with the decision after becoming pregnant for a second time. Dr. Drew Pinsky will also talk with young women who, like 27 percent of teens who end up with unplanned pregnancies, have chosen to end them. MTV sources say the documentary will tackle all sides of the issue, including the importance of contraception and the devastating effects of facing such a decision. . . .

December 22, 2010 in Abortion, Teenagers and Children, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Alaska Parental Notification Law Takes Effect After Judge Refuses to Block it

Ms. Magazine: Parental Notification Law Takes Effect in Alaska:

Alaska In Alaska, a new law requiring that doctors notify a parent of women age 17 and under who are seeking abortions went into effect yesterday after Superior Court Judge John Suddock refused Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest's (PPGNW) request to block it. The new law permits a judicial bypass, which has been shown difficult for young girls without the means to navigate it.

The law does not, however, require parental consent. If a parent does not consent to the abortion, there is a 48 hour waiting period before the procedure can be performed. . . .

See also: Washington Post: Judge won't block Alaska abortion notification law, by Mary Pemberton

December 19, 2010 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Strengthened by November Election, Indiana Republicans Will Seek Abortion Restrictions

Indianapolis Star: Indiana Republicans seeks to enact abortion restrictions, by Mary Beth Schneider:

Governor had wanted to focus on fiscal, not social issues

Indiana Abortion foes, strengthened by the November election that put Republicans in charge of the Indiana legislature, will seek measures to restrict both the procedure and those who perform it.

Among the bills being proposed: banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and barring Planned Parenthood of Indiana from receiving taxpayer dollars.

Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, and Rep. Wes Culver, R-Goshen, recently sent a letter to senators and representatives, as well as to Gov. Mitch Daniels, outlining their plans. . .  .

December 19, 2010 in Abortion, Politics, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Experts Warn Healthcare Cuts Will Increase Teenage Pregnancies in England

BBC News: Teenage pregnancy rate 'will rise' without action:

Eng The Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG) warns budget cuts and a major reorganisation of the NHS may threaten the current downward trend in teenage pregnancies.

The under-18 conception rate is at its lowest level for over 20 years.

But experts are warning that a target to halve the teenage pregnancy rate by 2010 will be missed. . . .


December 19, 2010 in Contraception, International, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Future Uncertain After Ruling on Ireland's Abortion Ban

TIME: After Ruling, Will Ireland Ease Its Abortion Ban?, by Genevieve Carbery:

Ireland A ruling on the case of a woman known only as C has reignited the long-running and divisive abortion debate in Ireland. On Dec. 16, the European Court of Human Rights found that C, a cancer survivor, had her human rights violated when she was forced to travel to England to get an abortion. Now, overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland finds itself having to clarify a law that is sure to become a contentious issue in the looming election.

In cases that date back to 2005, three women — known as A, B, and C — went to the European court with the allegation that a lack of abortion services in Ireland was a breach of their human rights. On Thursday, the court rejected the cases of two of the women, but ruled in favor of C, who was living in Ireland and recovering from a rare form of cancer when she became pregnant. She feared that her cancer would return if she continued with her pregnancy, but no doctor was willing to tell her that her life was at risk if she carried the baby to term — and a threat to the mother's life is the only situation in which abortion is legal in Ireland. . . .

December 19, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion Services to Return to Wichita For First Time Since Dr. Tiller's Death

The Pitch - Blogs: Abortion services return to Wichita; pro-lifers already defaming new providers, by Peter Rugg:

It's been more than a year since Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was gunned down while ushering at a church, and though there was talk of reopening his clinic, nothing ever came of it. Sitting in his Kansas prison cell, Tiller's assassin, Scott Roeder, might've thought he put so much fear into doctors that no one would ever offer abortion services in Wichita again.

That's not the case. Despite the city's most well-known abortion provider spending years getting shot at, threatened, and dragged to court by corrupt politicians looking to make political points, two new doctors have stepped up to make sure that Wichita's women have access to all the medical services they're entitled to under the law. . . .

December 19, 2010 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

European Court of Human Rights Rules Ireland's Abortion Ban Violates Irish Constitution

Irish Council for Civil Liberties press release: Abortion Rules in Ireland Disrespect the Constitution says Europe’s Top Court:

Washington DC / Dublin, Thursday 16 December 2010

Europe’s top court, the European Court of Human Rights, has today (16 December 2010) found that Ireland’s abortion regime fails to give women the Constitutional rights to which they are entitled.

 In the case of a woman who had not been able to establish whether or not she qualified for a lawful abortion in Ireland, the Court found that Ireland failed to respect her private life in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

 The long-standing failure of the Irish authorities to give proper legislative effect to Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court in the X case, was condemned by the Strasbourg Court’s judgment in the case of A, B and C v Ireland.

 In a lengthy and finely-balanced judgment, the Court found that the lack of effective and accessible procedures to establish a right to an abortion under Article 40.3.3, “has resulted in a striking discordance between the theoretical right to a lawful abortion in Ireland on grounds of a relevant risk to a woman’s life and the reality of its practical implementation”.

 Speaking from Washington DC, where he is attending a global meeting of civil rights leaders, Mr Mark Kelly, Director of the ICCL said:

 “Ireland’s failure to legislate to protect the rights of women has been clearly exposed by the European Court of Human Rights today.  It is imperative that the Government legislate swiftly to ensure that women are able to exercise their existing Constitutional rights”.

 “Yet again, it has required international intervention to remind our legislature of their domestic responsibilities.  If Ireland wishes to reassert its sovereignty and its standing in the international community, it must start by fully respecting the human rights of people at home”, Mr Kelly added.

 Mr Kelly also noted that the Strasbourg Court had used this judgment to highlight that there is an “undisputed consensus” amongst Council of Europe member States that abortion should be available on a broader basis than in Ireland.

 He concluded that “Ireland is now among a tiny rump of Council of Europe States – with Andorra, Malta and San Marino – which apply such restrictive rules on abortion.  Although the Court has found, on this occasion, that Ireland is entitled to maintain some restrictions on abortion, the writing is on the wall for the State’s restrictive abortion regime. A strong dissenting opinion by six Grand Chamber judges concluded that Irish law did not respect the private life of all three women (A, B and C) and paid particular attention to the very severe sanctions that can be imposed for abortions performed under what the judges called “archaic” laws in Ireland.”

The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights is available HERE.

December 16, 2010 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix Pressures Major Hospital System to Deny Lifesaving Abortions

ACLU press release: One Of Nation's Largest Hospital Systems Under Pressure To Deny Emergency Care:

NEW YORK – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix is pressuring one of the nation's largest hospital systems to stop providing life-saving abortions. The message came in a letter responding to a decision in November 2009 by St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix to provide a life-saving abortion to a young mother of four. The doctors at the hospital had determined that without the medical procedure, the woman would almost certainly have died.

In a November 22, 2010 letter to Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), revealed today in news reports, Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, does not deny that the medical care the Arizona patient received at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix was necessary to save her life. Yet Olmsted, in the letter, states that the hospital "has actively engaged in an abortive procedure that is immoral" and threatens to remove his endorsement of the hospital unless CHW "acknowledge[s] in writing that the medical procedure that resulted in the abortion at St. Josephs' Hospital was a violation" of the policy that governs all Catholic hospitals and "will never occur again at St. Joseph's Hospital."

The American Civil Liberties Union, citing the Arizona incident and other refusals of emergency care, wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in July alerting them to the potential violations of federal law by religiously affiliated hospitals that refuse to provide emergency abortions and requesting an investigation.

The following can be attributed to Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

"What we are talking about here is providing life-saving procedures to women who are at risk of dying. A hospital's first responsibility must be to protect the health of its patients.

"St. Joseph's Hospital did the right thing when it saved a seriously ill woman's life. We encourage the hospital, despite the pressure it is under, to continue to provide compassionate, necessary and legally required health care.

"Religiously affiliated hospitals are not exempt from federal laws that protect a patient's right to receive emergency care, and cannot invoke their religious status to jeopardize the health and lives of pregnant women. Women should never have to be afraid that they will be denied life-saving medical care when they enter a hospital."
The ACLU's letter, which explains the federal laws requiring hospitals to provide emergency care, can be found at:

The Diocese of Pheonix's letter can be found at:

See also: ACLU Blog of Rights: Don't Let Her Die: Emergency Abortions Must Be Performed At All Hospitals

December 16, 2010 in Abortion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hong Kong Billionaire Bachelor's Triplets Raise Broader Questions over Surrogacy

Wall St. Journal: Maternal Mystery: Babies Bring Joy, and Questions, in Hong Kong, by Cathy Yan:

HONG KONG—The photos of triplets born into a billionaire family that were splashed across the front pages of local papers in October made for a great story.

Their proud grandfather, Lee Shau-kee, the 82-year-old chairman of property developer Henderson Land Development Ltd. and one of the richest men in Asia, held up the three baby boys swathed in blue. Next to him stood the father, Peter Lee, the bachelor vice chairman and heir apparent to the Henderson empire.

There was only one thing missing: their mother. . . .

H/T: Suja Thomas

December 16, 2010 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, International, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)