Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fighting HIV Stigma in the Rural South

CNN: Pastor fights HIV stigma in Southern town, by Jacque Wilson:

. . . It's a problem all across the Bible Belt. In 2007 -- the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- the rate of diagnosed AIDS cases in the Southeastern United States was much higher than in other regions of the country: 9.2 per 100,000 people, versus 2.5 in the Midwest, 3.9 in the West and 5.6 in the Northeast.

Rural areas like this have it particularly bad. The CDC reports that while HIV diagnoses have slowly decreased in metropolitan areas since 1985, rural areas are still showing an increase because of stigma, poor education and a lack of funding. . . .

November 29, 2011 in Poverty, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NPR Reviews Mitt Romney's Record on Abortion

MittRomneyNPR: Mitt Romney's Evolution On Abortion, by Julie Rovner:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been labeled a flip-flopper. And when it comes to abortion, the former governor of Massachusetts appears to have changed his position from being in favor of abortion rights to being opposed.

But now some people are asking if Romney ever supported abortion rights at all? Backers of abortion rights don't think so. . . .

November 29, 2011 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Personhood Initiatives on the Horizon

EmbryosHuffington Post: Personhood 2.0: Georgia Revives Failed Mississippi Measure, by Laura Bassett: 


The national movement to define a zygote as a legal person failed a few weeks ago in Mississippi, but anti-abortion advocates behind two new "personhood" amendments pre-filed in Georgia are insisting that they have learned from Mississippi's mistakes. . . .

WDBJ7.com: Abortion debate to resume in Richmond, as Delegate introduces personhood legislation, by Joe Daishiell:

Manassas Republican Bob Marshall pre-filed bill that defines an unborn child as a person


The fight over abortion rights will take center stage again in January when state lawmakers return to Richmond. The first bill filed for the upcoming General Assembly session is a measure that defines a human fetus as a person.

This isn't the first time Virginia lawmakers have seen "personhood" legislation. Manassas Delegate Bob Marshall has introduced the bill before, and last year it passed the House by a wide margin.  The legislation has never made it out of committee in the State Senate, but this year the prospect of a Republican majority there could change the equation.

"Thomas Jefferson said all men are created equal, endowed by the creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Marshall said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "Jefferson could have used the term born equal. He didn't.". . .

November 28, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Fetal Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Man, Free of HIV After Bone Marrow Transplants, Offers Hope of Cure for AIDS

The New York Times: New Hope of a Cure for H.I.V., by Andrew Pollack:

Medical researchers are again in pursuit of a goal they had all but abandoned: curing AIDS.

Until recently, the possibility seemed little more than wishful thinking. But the experiences of two patients now suggest to many scientists that it may be achievable.

One man, the so-called Berlin patient, apparently has cleared his H.I.V. infection, albeit by arduous bone marrow transplants. . . .

November 28, 2011 in Medical News, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Clinical Trial Shows Ineffectiveness of Gel Intended to Reduce HIV Infection

Boston.com: HIV trial scrapped after gel found to be ineffective:

In a major setback for AIDS prevention research, a clinical trial of a new vaginal gel supposed to reduce HIV infections has been suspended after studies showed it to be ineffective.

Researchers from the Microbicide Trials Network, set up by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), expressed surprise at the outcome as a previous study on a gel containing the drug tenofovir had shown encouraging results. . . .

November 28, 2011 in Medical News, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Prosecution of Planned Parenthood Affiliate Remains Heated Issue in Kansas, Even As Case Loses Ground

The New York Times: Abortion Case Loses Ground, but Issue Stays Hot in Kansas, by A.G. Sulzberger:

Image1 OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The prosecution of a Planned Parenthood affiliate here, the first such criminal case in the nation, has been treated locally as something of a proxy in the battle over abortion rights. Derided by supporters of the organization as politically motivated, the prosecution was celebrated by opponents as the capstone of increasingly aggressive actions here and elsewhere against Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and other services at clinics around the country.

Despite the heated discussion, though, much of the legal case was technical, centering on the most politically bland of allegations: faulty record keeping.

So it came as a surprise to many this month when county prosecutors here announced that after years of legal battling, they had been forced to drop nearly half the charges, including all of the felony counts, citing — of all things — faulty record keeping. The misdemeanor charges, which involve accusations of failing to fully determine viability before performing some abortions, are still pending. . . .

November 28, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Democrats Encourage Obama to Not Widen Exemption from Contraceptive Coverage Mandate for Health Insurance Plans

The New York Times: Democrats Urge Obama to Protect Contraceptive Coverage in Health Plans, by Robert Pear:

Obama3WASHINGTON — A dispute has erupted between President Obama and Democrats in Congress over a proposal to broaden the exemption from new rules that require health insurance plans to cover contraceptives for women free of charge.

The National Academy of Sciences recommended that the government adopt such a requirement. And Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, announced in August that she had done so.

But after protests by Roman Catholic bishops, charities, schools and universities, the White House is considering a change that would grant a broad exemption to health plans sponsored by employers who object to such coverage for moral and religious reasons. . . .

November 22, 2011 in Congress, Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Maya Manian on Reforming Abortion Parental Involvement Legislation

Maya Manian (University of San Francisco School of Law) has posted Functional Parenting and Dysfunctional Abortion Policy: Reforming Parental Involvement Legislation on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

Abortion-related parental involvement mandates raise important family law issues about the scope of parents’ power over their children’s intimate decisions. While there has been extensive scholarly attention paid to the problems with parental involvement laws, relatively little has been said about strategies for reforming these laws. This article suggests using insights from family law relating to functional parenthood and third party caregiving as a basis for crafting more capacious methods of ensuring adult guidance for teenage girls facing an unplanned pregnancy. Recent developments in family law bolster the case for reforming parental involvement legislation to allow teenagers to consult with designated adults other than their parents. Enlisting other trusted members of the community to assist pregnant teenagers should assuage those who want to guarantee that adolescents consult with an adult in a time of crisis, while also giving leeway to the well-documented concern that some teenagers reasonably fear discussing pregnancy with their parents.

November 22, 2011 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study Shows Many Women Take Birth Control Pills for Noncontraceptive Reasons

Guttmacher Institute: Many American Women Use Birth Control Pills for Noncontraceptive Reasons,by Rebecca Wind: Image1

The most common reason U.S. women use oral contraceptive pills is to prevent pregnancy, but 14% of pill users—1.5 million women—rely on them exclusively for noncontraceptive purposes. The study documenting this finding, “Beyond Birth Control: The Overlooked Benefits of Oral Contraceptive Pills,” by Rachel K. Jones of the Guttmacher Institute, also found that more than half (58%) of all pill users rely on the method, at least in part, for purposes other than pregnancy prevention—meaning that only 42% use the pill exclusively for contraceptive reasons. . . .

November 22, 2011 in Contraception, Medical News, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

High Court in India Rules Abortion Grounds for Divorce

Indian Express: Abortion ground for divorce, rules HC:

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled that a wife not informing about the factum of abortion undergone by her to her husband and in-law amounted to act of cruelty.

Dismissing an appeal filed against an order of a trial court granting a decree for dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty, a division bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharmarao and Justice M Venugopal said "the woman (wife) had not informed about the factum of abortion that she had undergone. She did not inform about the treatment she took from the respective doctors.". . .

November 22, 2011 in Abortion, In the Courts, International, Men and Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New York Times Magazine on Sex Education That Teaches the Pleasures of Sex

Even "comprehensive sexuality education" programs nowadays are expected or required to prioritize abstinence, thus conveying the implicit message that sex is bad.  Here is a refreshing look at some sex educators who dare to take a different approach.

The New York Times Magazine: Teaching Good Sex, by Laurie Abraham:

“First base, second base, third base, home run,” Al Vernacchio ticked off the classic baseball terms for sex acts. His goal was to prompt the students in Sexuality and Society — an elective for seniors at the private Friends’ Central School on Philadelphia’s affluent Main Line — to examine the assumptions buried in the venerable metaphor. “Give me some more,” urged the fast-talking 47-year-old, who teaches 9th- and 12th-grade English as well as human sexuality. Arrayed before Vernacchio was a circle of small desks occupied by 22 teenagers, six male and the rest female — a blur of sweatshirts and Ugg boots and form-fitting leggings. . . .

In its breadth, depth and frank embrace of sexuality as, what Vernacchio calls, a “force for good” — even for teenagers — this sex-ed class may well be the only one of its kind in the United States. “There is abstinence-only sex education, and there’s abstinence-based sex ed,” said Leslie Kantor, vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “There’s almost nothing else left in public schools.”

Across the country, the approach ranges from abstinence until marriage is the only acceptable choice, contraceptives don’t work and premarital sex is physically and emotionally harmful, to abstinence is usually best, but if you must have sex, here are some ways to protect yourself from pregnancy and disease. . . .

November 19, 2011 in Sexuality, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pro-Choice Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's Catholic Identity Attacked

FOX News: FOX Chicago Sunday: Terry Cosgrove and Mary Anne Hackett on Reproductive Rights:



Huffington Post: Pat Quinn To Meet With Catholic Bishops, Will Discuss Abortion Stance:

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has never apologized for his pro-choice stance. During the campaign for governor, Quinn supporters released a series of television ads attacking his opponent -- Sen. Bill Brady -- for Brady's position that abortion should be banned even in cases of rape and incest. A speech Quinn gave at a recent pro-choice luncheon, however, has ruffled the feathers of Catholic bishops in the state, who requested a meeting with the governor on the issue this week.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Quinn received a letter from six Catholic bishops Wednesday requesting a meeting with Quinn to discuss, among other things, "your personal approval of laws permitting the killing of unborn children.". . .

November 19, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 18, 2011

"The Doula Project" Supports Women Seeking Abortions

New York Observer: The Rise of the Abortion Doula, by Rachel R. White:

As Abortions Become Harder to Obtain, Pro-Choice Activists Eschew Policy Debates for Flesh and Blood Activism 

At 9 a.m. on a recent Sunday in a small conference room on the 13th floor of a Manhattan hospital (The Observer agreed not to name the facility), Lauren Mitchell, a 27-year-old gynecological teaching associate, invited a group of 15 medical students and one reporter to introduce themselves. “So go around, state your name, why you are here…and your star sign,” she prompted, sitting at the head of a conference table.

Awkward pause.

Astrology probably isn’t what any of them expected when they signed up for the class, which will account for the first 6 of the 30 hours of training required for certification as an abortion doula. . . .

November 18, 2011 in Abortion, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Policy Guidances From Obama Administration Encourage Linkages Between HIV and Family Planning Programs

Guttmacher Institute: More Work Needed to Bridge the Gap Between HIV and Family Planning Services Worldwide, by Rebecca Wind: Image1

A series of policy guidances recently issued by the Obama administration strongly endorse linkages between HIV and family planning programs in developing countries, but a failure to ensure that women in HIV treatment programs have access to contraceptives is undermining efforts to integrate these two critical health services, according to “Linkages Between HIV and Family Planning Services Under PEPFAR: Room for Improvement,” by Heather Boonstra.

The new guidances fully endorse the provision by family planning programs of HIV counseling and testing, as well as referrals for HIV care and treatment, and they recommend the use of President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds for these purposes. The guidances also specifically acknowledge that preventing unintended pregnancy is vital to lowering the rate of new HIV infections. Therefore, they state, women in HIV programs should have access to family planning counseling and referrals for contraceptives.

However, PEPFAR funding for contraceptives themselves is prohibited, even in places where there is no corresponding family planning program available to which women can be referred. A substantial number of PEPFAR-funded countries that do not receive U.S. funding for family planning—including Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland—have HIV-prevalence rates that are among the highest in the world. . . .

November 18, 2011 in Contraception, International, President/Executive Branch, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rachel Maddow on Conservatives and Catholic Bishops Targeting Birth Control

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lessons from Mississippi’s Defeated Personhood Amendment

Chicago Tribune: Mississippi makes a big statement, by Leonard Pitts:

Moral clarity is one of the most seductive traits of social conservatism.

Those of us outside that ideology may struggle to untie the Gordian knot of complex moral issues, may wrestle conscience in hopes of compromise, may construct arguments in tenuous terms of, "If this, then that, but if the other thing, then …" Social conservatives countenance no such irresolution. On issue after issue — same-sex marriage, gun control, Muslim rights — they fly straight as a bullet to their final conclusion, usually distillable to the width of a bumper sticker.

So last week's election result in Mississippi comes as a seismic shock. By a significant margin — 58 percent to 42 percent — voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution defining the fertilized human egg as a person, with all the rights and protections attendant thereto.
. . .

Huffington Post: Lessons From Mississippi, by Jill Hanauer:

Advocates for a common-sense approach to reproductive health policy are rightfully taking pride in the defeat of the Personhood amendment in Mississippi this week. As we celebrate the defeat of this extremist legislation, it's important to remember the lessons of Mississippi going forward: that Personhood lost -- in large part -- due to highly effective messaging that framed the measure as what it actually was -- government overreach trampling on what should be personal decisions. . . .

The New York Times: Medical Nuances Drove 'No' Vote in Mississippi, by Denise Grady:

JACKSON, Miss. — When her children woke up on Wednesday morning, Atlee Breland told them, “Mama won her election.”

From her Lego-strewn living room, she had campaigned furiously to defeat an anti-abortion amendment to the state Constitution that would have declared fertilized eggs to be “persons.” She created a Web site and Facebook page that reached tens of thousands of voters.

Mrs. Breland, who proudly identifies herself as a Christian, native Mississippian and mother of three, might seem just the kind of voter who would back such an amendment. But she had needed fertility treatments to conceive her twin daughters, who are now 5, and she saw the amendment as likely to restrict in vitro fertilization and threaten the ability of women like her to have children.

The amendment was rejected by 58 percent of voters in staunchly anti-abortion Mississippi, largely on fears like Mrs. Breland’s that hinged on subtleties of medical science. . . .

November 15, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Assisted Reproduction, Contraception, Fertility, Fetal Rights, Politics, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York “Choose Life” License Plate Saga Continues

Democrat and Chronicle: State to review decision on 'Choose Life' plates, by Joseph Spector:

LicensePlateNew York officials plan to review a federal court decision last week that orders the state to permit a "Choose Life" custom license plate after a decade-long battle with pro-life groups.

The Children First Foundation has been seeking the "Choose Life" license plate from the state since 2001, saying that other organizations had been able to obtain custom plates for their causes.

But the state fought the application and in 2004 put a moratorium on the issuance of any new custom license plates.

On Tuesday, Judge Neal McCurn in Syracuse ruled that New York's argument to block the plates is an infringement of First Amendment rights. He put a stay on the order, giving the state 30 days to appeal. . . .

November 15, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Catholic Bishops Reframe Opposition to Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage as Fight for "Religious Liberty"

The New York Times: Bishops Open ‘Religious Liberty’ Drive, by Laurie Goodstein:

The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops opened a new front in their fight against abortion and same-sex marriage on Monday, recasting their opposition as a struggle for “religious liberty” against a government and a culture that are infringing on the church’s rights. . . .

November 15, 2011 in Abortion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Women’s Rights Groups Protest Russia’s Church-Backed Abortion Bill

Reuters: Church-backed abortion bill sparks protest in Russia, by Alissa de Carbonnel:

MOSCOW, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Women of all ages used to fill gynecologist Lyubov Yerofeyeva's Soviet state clinic, lined up by the dozen for back-to-back abortions. "It was more common to take sick days for an abortion than for a cold in those days," she said.

Two decades after the Soviet Union's collapse, wider availability of contraception and a resurgence of religion have reduced the numbers of abortions overall, but termination remains the top method of birth control in Russia.

Its abortion rate -- 1.3 million, or 73 per 100 births in 2009 -- is the world's highest.

Backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, an influential anti-abortion lobby is driving a moral crusade to tighten legislation and shift public attitudes that are largely a legacy of the Soviet era. . . .

November 14, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Contraception, International, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality Education | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GAO Report Calls for Clearer Guidance on Legislation Prohibiting Certain Abortion-Related Lobbying Overseas

GAO Report: Foreign Assistance: Clearer Guidance Needed on Compliance Overseas with Legislation Prohibiting Abortion-Related Lobbying:

Following a 2007 disputed election and widespread violence, Kenya reformed its constitution, which its voters approved in August 2010. The United States has provided over $18 million to support this process to date. GAO was asked to (1) describe any involvement that U.S. officials have had in Kenya's constitutional reform process relating to abortion; (2) describe any support that U.S.-funded award recipients and subrecipients have provided in Kenya's constitutional reform process relating to abortion; and (3) assess the extent to which agencies have developed and implemented guidance on compliance with the Siljander Amendment, which prohibits using certain assistance funds to lobby either for or against abortion. GAO analyzed documents and interviewed officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of State (State), award recipients and subrecipients, and the Kenyan government, and conducted an extensive media search. . . .

H/t: Kasia Solon

November 14, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)