Friday, September 16, 2011

More Texas Schools See Importance of Teaching Safer Sex

Texas Texas Tribune: More Texas Schools Teach Safe Sex With Abstinence, by Morgan Smith:

In the spring, public school students in Midland will cross what until very recently was the political third rail of sex education. For the first time, they will be taught about contraception — and how to practice safe sex.

The West Texas town is known for oil and Republican presidents, not progressive social policy. But after watching the teen pregnancy rates creep up year after year — 172 pregnant girls were enrolled in the town’s public schools last year — many in the community realized something needed to change. . . .

September 16, 2011 in Contraception, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexuality Education, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Virginia TRAP Regulations Near End of Approval Process

The Virginian-Pilot: Virginia panel approves new abortion clinic standards, by Julian Walker:

Slightly modified rules to regulate abortion clinics cleared a state health panel today, the last public step in the approval process before they are to take effect by the start of next year.

On a 12-1 vote, Virginia’s Board of Health approved temporary regulations requiring licensure of clinics where at least five first-trimester abortions are performed per month. The decision came after a lengthy public hearing and discussion by the 15-member board composed of nine Republican appointees and six Democratic ones. . . .

September 15, 2011 in Abortion, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

On Rick Perry's Vasectomy

Rick_Perry RH Reality Check: Rick Perry’s Vasectomy: The Governor's Reliance on What He Denies to His Fellow Texans, by Carole Joffe:

Rick Perry has only two children?! As the biographical information flashed by on television during a recent debate of Republican presidential hopefuls, it was strangely incongruous to see that the rising star of the religious right was so woefully behind his competitors.   Rick Santorum and Jon Hunstman led the pack with seven kids each, followed by Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachman with five (and the 23 children she had fostered). To be sure, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain also had a paltry two, but they, unlike Perry, were not considered to be the new favorite of the social conservative wing of the Republican. Recent polls show Perry supplanting Bachman in that role, notwithstanding her impressive numbers. . . .

The reason that Rick Perry has “only” two children, one can say with confidence about this normally private matter, is because of the widely disseminated fact of his vasectomy. cited in the New York Times among other places.  (This procedure, to the delight of late night comedians, was apparently performed by his father-in-law).

Speaking as a reproductive health advocate, I have quite mixed feelings about Perry’s decision (presumably made with his wife) to have a vasectomy. . . .

September 15, 2011 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Fertility, Men and Reproduction, Politics, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Story of Woman Charged With Murder for Killing Newborns Should Make Us Reexamine the Consistency of Anti-Abortion-Rights Advocates' Views

Opponents of abortion rights typically argue that abortion should be banned because it is murder; they argue that embryos and fetuses have the same moral status as a baby.  Yet at the same time, they generally disavow any desire to punish women for abortions.  (Watch anti-abortion-rights demonstrators and some of the 2008 Republican presidential candidates struggle to explain this.  See also.) 

Here's a story about a young woman who smothered both her babies immediately after they were born.  She is being charged with murder.  Do anti-abortion-rights advocates think this woman should be punished?  If so, but if women shouldn't be punished for abortions, how can abortion be the moral equivalent of this woman's actions?

I address this topic in my article, The Meaning of 'Life': Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate.


September 15, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Fetal Rights, Politics, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advocates Lobby Senate to Reject Ban on DC's Use of Own Funds to Pay for Abortions

The Washington Post – D.C. Wire blog: Activists lobby Senate to keep D.C. abortion ban off spending bill, by Ben Pershing:

Advocates are stepping up their Capitol Hill lobbying efforts to prevent a ban on city-funded abortions, as a Senate panel prepares to consider the spending bill that funds the D.C. budget for 2012.

The House-passed version of the measure, which also funds the Treasury Department and a host of other government agencies, includes a ban on having the District use its own taxpayer funds to pay for abortions for low-income women. That prohibition, supported by Republicans and anti-abortion groups, drew sharp complaints from House Democrats and the White House, which said it “undermines the principle of states’ rights and of D.C. home rule.”. . .

September 15, 2011 in Abortion, Congress, Politics, Poverty, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anti-Choice Protesters Picket Maryland Clinic’s Landlord Outside His Daughter’s School

The Washington Post: Anti-abortion protesters target clinic's landlord outside child's Md. school, by Lena H. Sun:

Antiabortion activists who have sought for months to shut down a Germantown clinic picketed its landlord outside a Montgomery County middle school where his daughter is a student, school and police officials said Monday.

A small group of protesters stood outside Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville on Thursday, holding signs and a banner, during back-to-school night, officials said. . . .

September 13, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lawsuit Challenges Alaska Parental Notification Law for Teens Seeking Abortions

ACLU - Blog of Rights: Young Women Seeking Abortion Care Get the Cold Shoulder in Alaska, by Andrew Beck:


Image1 For decades, teens in Alaska had been able to obtain abortions without the state ordering the involvement of their parents. In 1997, however, the Alaska legislature passed a law preventing young women from obtaining abortions without parental consent. The ACLU, together with Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, sued the state, and in 2007, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the law violated the Alaska Constitution.


Fast-forward four years later and we’re back challenging a new law — the Parental Notification Law (PNL) — that forbids doctors from providing abortions to young women without notifying their parents. The fact is that most teens, in Alaska and elsewhere, inform their families when they face an unintended pregnancy. For some teens, however, this just isn’t an option: Some young women come from abusive families and would face physical abuse, emotional abuse, or the threat of being thrown out of the house if a parent found out that they were pregnant and seeking an abortion. . . .


See also: RH Reality Check: Hearing on Alaska Parental Notification Lawsuit Starts Today


September 13, 2011 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYT’s Editorial on Servicewomen's Struggle to Obtain Treatment Following Sexual Assault

New York Times editorial: Justice for Women Veterans:

Women in the military who are sexually assaulted or harassed face obstacles not seen in the civilian workplace. They can’t decide to take time off or quit, often have no way to avoid a predatory colleague or supervisor, and certainly in combat zones, no way to visit the human resources department. They often work in a culture that has long tolerated misogynistic behavior. And they can be further traumatized by the indifference or hostility of the bureaucracy that is supposed to help them. . . .

September 13, 2011 in Sexual Assault, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mississippi Supreme Court Refuses to Block Embryonic 'Personhood' Ballot Initiative

CNN: Mississippi voters can decide 'personhood' of unborn, court rules, by Bill Mears:

(CNN) -- Voters in Mississippi will be given a chance to decide whether life begins at conception, a controversial abortion-related ballot initiative that the state's highest court has refused to block.

The Mississippi Supreme Court late Thursday allowed Measure 26, also known as the Personhood Amendment, to appear on the state ballot November 8. The decision was a rejection of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and abortion-rights groups.

The 7-2 ruling said those groups had not met the legal burden required to restrict the right of citizens to amend the state constitution. . . .

September 13, 2011 in Fetal Rights, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ACLU of North Carolina Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging State's Discriminatory Rejection of “Respect Choice” License Plate

ACLU press release: ACLU of North Carolina Files Lawsuit Challenging Discriminatory License Plate Scheme: Image1 

State Authorizes Anti-Choice License Plate While Expressly Refusing Pro-Choice Alternative, In Clear Violation of the Public’s First Amendment Rights

RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) filed a lawsuit today in the federal district court for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf of North Carolinians seeking a specialty license plate that supports a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. During this year’s legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 289, which authorized the issuance of a “Choose Life” license plate. However, the legislature repeatedly refused to authorize a plate that supported the countervailing position in favor of reproductive freedom. Six amendments were proposed in the legislature to authorize an additional new plate that stated either, “Trust Women. Respect Choice,” or simply “Respect Choice.” The legislature rejected all six amendments. As such, the lawsuit alleges that the State is engaging in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment. . . .

September 13, 2011 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Proposed UK Measure to Prevent Abortion Providers From Counseling Women is Defeated in House of Commons

The Guardian: Nadine Dorries's abortion proposals heavily defeated in Commons, by Nicholas Watt:

London An attempt to strip abortion providers of their role in counselling women was heavily defeated in the House of Commons this afternoon after a split between the original supporters of the amendment.

MPs voted by 368 votes to 118 – a majority of 250 – to reject the amendment by the Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries after she lost the support of her co-sponsor, the former Labour minister Frank Field.

Dorries managed to win the support of three cabinet ministers – Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, Liam Fox, the defence secretary, and Owen Paterson, the Northern Ireland secretary.

Field withdrew his support for the Dorries amendment after Anne Milton, the health minister, said the government would try to implement the spirit of her proposal. . . .

Dorries hailed Milton's undertaking as a victory. She told the BBC's Norman Smith: "We lost the battle but we have won the war." . . .

September 13, 2011 in Abortion, International, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fed. Gov't Will Pay for Family Planning in NH After State Council Cuts Funding

Reuters: Feds to fund N.H. family planning after state council refuses, by Jason McLure:

The federal government has committed to taking over family planning services for poor women in much of New Hampshire, in a move that may allow Planned Parenthood to resume providing a full range of care including birth control, a state official said.

Planned Parenthood clinics had previously provided family planning services to more than half the state before a Republican state council voted to end a $1.8 million contract because the women's health group also offers abortions. . . .

September 9, 2011 in Abortion, Contraception, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In NYC, Chelsea Has Highest Abortion Rate

Huffington Post: Chelsea Has The Highest Rate Of Abortions In New York City:

A study released by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reveals Chelsea to have the highest abortion rate in New York City, with 67.23 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion.

Jamaica, Central Harlem, Greenwich Village, and Bedford-Stuyvesant also ranked high on the list. The neighborhood with the lowest abortion rate is the Upper East Side, which also happens to be Manhattan's safest neighborhood as well.

The neighborhood breakdown came after the Chiaroscuro Foundation, which "believes that every individual deserves an opportunity to experience life’s bounty—and that every human being first of all deserves to live" requested the city's 2009 abortion statistics be further outlined by zipcode, according to Gothamist. . . .

See also: RH Reality Check: New York Anti-Choice Group Decries Abortion Rate While Opposing Sex Ed and Family Planning, by Jodi Jacobson:

At this point, it's no secret that anti-choice groups in the United States oppose the fundamental rights of women to determine whether and when to bear--and undertake the lifelong responsibility of parenting--a child when facing an unintended and untenable pregnancy.

Only more recently, however, has their real agenda become unequivocally clear: They are also adamantly against contraception and sexual health education, the very things that reduce rates of unintended pregnancies--and hence the need for abortion--in the first place.

But rarely do events underscore the forced birth agenda of such groups so blatantly as did the actions this month of the Chiaroscuro Foundation of New York. . . .

September 9, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Deborah Dinner on the Costs of Reproduction

Deborah Dinner (Washington University in St. Louis School of Law) has posted The Costs of Reproduction: History and the Legal Construction of Sex Equality on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Dinnerd Today, legal and political actors argue that sex equality does not require society to share the costs of pregnancy, childbirth, and childrearing with individual women and private families. Courts interpret the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (“PDA”), amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to prohibit only market-irrational discriminatory animus. Political pundits oppose paid parental-leave legislation as a mandate that unfairly subsidizes private reproductive choice by shifting its costs onto the larger public.

This Article uses novel historical research to deconstruct the boundaries between cost sharing and sex equality. I recover the redistributive dimensions of the vision for sex equality that legal feminists articulated from the 1960s through the 1980s. Legal feminists’ challenge to the family-wage system entailed efforts to redistribute the costs of reproduction between women and men within the home and between the family and society. The history of feminist mobilization, anti-feminist counter-mobilization, and norm evolution in law and policy, illustrates the overlap in the normative purpose and cost effects of antidiscrimination and cost-sharing mandates. To realize women’s right to social and economic independence, feminists pursued classic antidiscrimination mandates, the accommodation of pregnancy in the workplace, and affirmative social-welfare entitlements related to caregiving. All of these reforms, moreover, shifted the costs of reproduction from individual women to the larger society.

The history related in this Article holds significant implications for contemporary legal and political debates. The history suggests that courts adopt an artificially narrow perspective when they interpret the PDA to fall short of requiring structural change in the workplace. It also suggests that Congress might build upon an evolving commitment to cost sharing as a critical component of sex equality by augmenting the entitlements created by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”).

September 9, 2011 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York Times Editorial on Effort to Free Up Foreign Aid for Rape Victims' Abortions

New York Times editorial: Humanitarian Aid for Rape Victims:

On his third day in office, President Obama issued an executive order lifting the odious “global gag rule” that denied federal money for family planning work abroad to any group that performed abortions or counseled about the procedure, even with its own money. But he left standing another policy that imposes similar speech restrictions and bans using foreign aid money for abortions — even to save a woman’s life or in cases of rape in war zones like Congo, Sudan and Burma.

The policy is not mandated by any law. Rather, it is an overly restrictive interpretation of the Helms amendment, which was originally enacted in 1973 and bars using foreign aid money to “pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” . . .

September 9, 2011 in Abortion, Congress, International, Poverty, President/Executive Branch, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ethical Questions Raised Over Single Sperm Donor's Copious Offspring

The New York Times: One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring, by Jacqueline Mroz:

Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings — an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son’s group grow. . . .

September 6, 2011 in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility, Medical News, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bachmann Embraces "Confrontation" With Supreme Court Over Abortion Rights

Huffington Post: Bachmann Says She'd Confront Supreme Court Over Abortion Rights, by Jon Ward:

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann diverged on Monday over whether they would push the nation to the verge of a constitutional crisis over the issue of abortion rights.

During a Republican presidential primary forum designed to test the candidates' conservative bona fides, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said that if he were elected president, he wouldn't enter a showdown with the Supreme Court -- which ruled in 1973 that abortion is allowed under the constitution -- by passing a bill through Congress to make abortion illegal. Bachmann, a Republican congresswoman from Minnesota, said she would.

"If the Supreme Court, by a plurality of the justices, may impose their own personal morality on the rest of the nation, then we are quite literally being ruled by those individuals as opposed to giving our consent to the people's representatives," Bachmann said.

Pressed whether she would be prepared for "a confrontation" with the court, Bachmann said: "Most assuredly.". . .

September 6, 2011 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 5, 2011

More on the Legal Challenge to Idaho's Post-20-Week "Fetal Pain" Ban

The Washington Post - Ezra Klein blog: Idaho abortion lawsuit may be headed to Supreme Court, by Sarah Kliff:

A lawsuit challenging Idaho’s ban on late-term abortion has abortion rights supporters and opponents both asking: Are we looking at the next Supreme Court case on the issue?

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in an Idaho-based federal court, challenges the constitutionality of an abortion ban that the state instituted earlier this year. The restriction bars abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy on the basis that at that stage the fetus can feel pain. The Idaho law is one of six late-term abortion bans, also based on the idea of fetal pain, that states have signed into law over the past two years. They have all stood unchallenged until now. . . .

September 5, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eighth Circuit Issues Ruling on South Dakota Abortion Law

Reuters: Court upholds most of South Dakota abortion, by Andrew Stern and Mary Wisniewski: Image1 

(Reuters) - An appeals court on Friday upheld much of a South Dakota law setting out what a pregnant woman should be told 24 hours before an abortion, including that the procedure would "terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a provision in the 2005 law that would require the doctor to tell the woman about an increased risk of suicide after an abortion -- with the court saying the link was unproven and may not exist.

The appeals court overruled a lower court's rulings on South Dakota's law in one respect -- it backed the state's position that pregnant women should be told that they have an existing relationship with the fetus. . . .

September 5, 2011 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Washington Post Editorial on Virginia’s Proposed Regulations for “Safer” Abortion Clinics

The Washington Post editorial: Targeting abortions:

IF SOMETHING about anti-abortion advocates pressing for “safer” abortion clinics rings false to you, trust your instincts.

Virginia recently unveiled regulations to beef up oversight of the 22 clinics in the commonwealth.

“It is imperative that you contact the Board of Health and urge them to pass the regulations!” exhorts the conservative Family Foundation on its Web site.

“[I]t is hard to imagine why groups that say they are concerned about women’s health would oppose these standards,” the Virginia Catholic Conference said in a statement.

Actually, it’s not hard to imagine at all, because the standards are not really about safety. They are unjustifiably stringent and could force abortion facilities to shut their doors. . . .

September 5, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)