Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year's Eve Reminder from


 Visit to get the facts about EC.

December 30, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Carole Joffe on the Historical Echoes of Today's Limitations on Teen Access to Plan B

RH Reality Check: Vulnerable Women and Contraception: Obama Turns Clock Back Nearly 100 Years, by Carole Joffe:

"For a woman to 'ask her physician' for a safe and effective contraceptive  presupposed that she had a physician, that she could afford a contraceptive, and that the physician would be willing to give it to her, regardless of her marital status."

These are the words of the historian Sheila Rothman, writing about the setbacks Margaret Sanger faced in the 1920s and 1930s in trying to realize her vision of making birth control widely available to all women, including the poorest—and about the ultimate “ownership” of contraceptive services during that era by physicians. Sanger’s original vision was a fleet of clinics, to be run by public health nurses. But as Rothman and others have documented, when she attempted to open such clinics, she experienced repeated arrests and the closures of her facilities, as contraception was then illegal. In the years leading up to the 1965 Supreme Court Griswold decision, which legalized birth control for married persons, only physicians were legally permitted to provide such services, and as the quote from Rothman implies, this situation put poor women at a tremendous disadvantage.

Rothman’s critique, written in the 1970s about events in the ‘20s and ‘30s,  is remarkably relevant to today’s leading reproductive controversy: the Obama administration’s overruling of the FDA decision to allow over-the-counter status of Plan B, an Emergency Contraceptive product, for young women under the age of seventeen. If one substitutes “teenager” for “woman” and “Plan B” for “a safe and effective contraceptive” in Rothman’s quote, one can readily appreciate how, once again in America’s longstanding reproductive wars, the needs of the most vulnerable are willfully neglected. . . .

December 30, 2011 in Contraception, Culture, Poverty, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2011 A Record Year for Abortion Restrictions

Washington Post WonkBlog: 2011: The year of the abortion restrictions, by Sarah Kliff:

Yesterday I wrote about how little health-care legislation managed to move in Washington this year. After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, barely anything related to health could make it through a polarized Congress. I overlooked, however, one area where a lot did happen: reproductive health. There, a wave of state-level abortion restrictions that passed this year have reshaped access more than any other year in three decades.

As the above chart from the Guttmacher Institute shows, 2011 marked a sea change for abortion rights. States passed 83 laws restricting access to abortion, nearly four times the 23 laws passed in 2010. A lot of that had to do with the 2010 elections, which ushered in a wave of Republican legislators and governors. This year, the number of states with fully anti-abortion governments — in which both the governor and the legislature oppose abortion rights — increased from 10 to 15. . . .

December 30, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Politics, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thanks to my research assistants!

Beth Shyken 

Phil Grommet




Many thanks to CUNY Law students Beth Shyken (2L) and Phillip Grommet (3L) for their excellent work researching for this blog in 2011!

December 30, 2011 in Law School, Miscellaneous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nevada Judge Blocks Embryonic Personhood Initiative

ACLU press release: Nevada Judge Blocks Second Dangerous Personhood Ballot Initiative:

LAS VEGAS - A Nevada state judge today declared invalid the second of two ballot initiatives designed to ban all abortions, including in cases of rape or incest, and other vital women's health services by granting legal protections to fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses. The initiative, blocked by Judge James Wilson, Jr. of the First Judicial District Court, was found to be so vague and misleading that it could not be permitted to go to the voters under any circumstances. . . .

December 29, 2011 in Anti-Choice Movement, Assisted Reproduction, Contraception, Fetal Rights, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Court Blocks Implementation of Arizona Abortion Restriction

ACLU press release (12/23): Court Blocks Implementation of Arizona Law that Withholds Critical Resources for Women’s Health:

PHOENIX – A federal court today has blocked the implementation of an Arizona law that would exclude any nonprofit organization that provides abortion referrals or counseling from receiving donations through the state’s Working Poor Tax Credit Program.

The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona and the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (AzCADV). . . .

December 29, 2011 in Abortion, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Possible Criminal Charges for Utah Teen Who Hired Man to Beat Her to Terminate Pregnancy

The Salt Lake Tribune (12/15): Utah teen may face criminal charges in abortion beating case, by Melinda Rogers: Image1

A 17-year-old pregnant girl who hired a man to punch her belly may again face criminal penalties following a Tuesday ruling by the Utah Supreme Court that the beating does not fall within the statutory definition of abortion.

A juvenile court judge dismissed the case in 2009, finding that the girl couldn’t be held criminally liable for the failed attempt to abort her unborn child — but the high court reversed that decision.

"The Utah Code’s definition of abortion contemplates only procedures that are medical in nature," the high court wrote in a unanimous decision. "We hold that the solicited assault of a woman to terminate her pregnancy is not a ‘procedure,’ as contemplated by statute, and therefore does not constitute an abortion."

During a hearing before the high court in April, Assistant Utah Attorney General Chris Ballard argued that when lawmakers exempted women from criminal prosecution for murder when seeking an abortion, they envisioned women would seek abortions in a "safe, humane" manner through typical medical procedures. . . .

December 29, 2011 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abortion Opponents Question Pursuing Costly Fights to Defend Abortion Restrictions

Reuters: Reality check: States tough on abortion face legal costs, by Mary Wisniewski & Jo Ingles:

Image1 (Reuters) - Bill Graber is not a fan of Roe v. Wade because the Ohio construction worker thinks the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion went too far.

But Graber is not happy about Ohio lawmakers pushing a law that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be heard, because he worries the state will spend millions of dollars defending it.

"This is a gamble," said Graber at Ohio state senate hearings last week on the "heartbeat" bill, which would ban abortion at as early as six weeks. "They are taking the state of Ohio's credit card and they are going to the Supreme Court casino to throw the dice to see if they can go for the final death blow on Roe v. Wade. And they're probably not going to do it." The hearings continue Tuesday. . . .

December 29, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts, Politics, State Legislatures, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Plan B Case Revived in Brooklyn Federal Court

Thomson Reuters News and Insight: Plan B legal fight revived in Brooklyn Federal Court:

NEW YORK, Dec 14 (Reuters) - A reproductive-rights group may reopen its six-year-old lawsuit over the availability of the morning-after pill, a Brooklyn federal judge has ruled, only days after last week's controversial decision by the Obama administration to prohibit the pill, known as Plan B, from being made available over-the-counter to girls younger than 17.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman on Tuesday invited the Center for Reproductive Rights to file a motion to reopen its case against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which the center had accused of failing to respond to a 2001 petition to remove age restrictions on Plan B and its generic form. The ruling gives renewed significance to the long-standing case, which has taken a backseat to FDA rulemaking until now.

The suit, which was first filed by the center in 2005 and is not connected to Sebelius's decision, consolidated numerous challenges from women's groups and other Plan B supporters from across the country after the FDA did not act on the petition, which it eventually denied in 2006. . . .

Center for Reproductive Rights – press release: Center for Reproductive Rights Prepares New Legal Challenge to Lift FDA Restrictions on Emergency Contraception:

Center will reopen its 2005 lawsuit against FDA and add HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a defendant in the case

12.13.11 - (PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights announced today it will reopen its 2005 lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for imposing unnecessary age restrictions on emergency contraceptives, and seek immediate relief to allow broader access to available drugs. The Center also plans to add U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a defendant in the reopened case for her role in overruling the FDA’s approval of Plan B One-Step last week.

“This fight is far from over. We intend to take every legal step necessary to hold the FDA and this administration accountable for its extraordinary actions to block women from safe, effective emergency contraception,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It has been ten years of battling to bring emergency contraception out from behind the pharmacy counter. The FDA cannot simply continue moving the goal posts down the field for women’s reproductive health care.”. . .

December 29, 2011 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Governor Signs Law Limiting Insurance Coverage for Abortions

Reuters (12/21): Ohio law bans funding abortions in insurance exchanges, by Mary Wisniewski:

OhioOhio Governor John Kasich on Wednesday signed a law that would prohibit abortion coverage from the state insurance exchange Ohio must create under the federal health care law.

"While we can all agree that people should have access to healthcare, we reject the notion that abortion is healthcare because the only measure of 'success' of an abortion procedure is the death of an innocent child," said Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, in a statement. . . .

December 29, 2011 in Abortion, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Self-induced Abortions Raise New Issues in National Abortion Debate

Newsweek: The Next Roe v. Wade?:  Jennie McCormack's Abortion Battle, by Nancy Hass: Image1

Jennie McCormack was arrested for terminating her pregnancy with an abortion pill. The case that could transform the reproduction wars.

The last thing on Jennie Linn McCormack’s mind when she realized she was pregnant was that she might, with a single telephone call, upend the vitriolic national debate on abortion.

All she thought about was how it would be impossible for her to take care of another baby. Surviving, barely, on the $250 of monthly child support for one of her three kids, the unemployed, unmarried 32-year-old also knew she didn’t have the more than $500 she’d need for the two-and-a-half-hour trip from her bare-bones rental in Pocatello, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, the closest city with a clinic willing to terminate a pregnancy. She had no computer, no car, no one to take care of her 2-year-old—and like Idaho, Utah had a waiting period for abortions, which meant she’d have to make two round trips. So early this past January, she made the call that may alter history and turn Jennie McCormack into Jane Roe’s unlikely successor: she asked her sister in Mississippi to buy RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, over the Internet and send it to her. The cost: about $200. . . .

December 29, 2011 in Abortion, Culture, Poverty, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GOP Candidates Increase the Anti-Choice Rhetoric Before Iowa Caucus

Huffington Post: On Abortion, GOP Candidates Go To Extremes To Win Iowa, by Laura Bassett:

IowaIn the competition for the toughest anti-abortion stance in Iowa, GOP candidates this week have adopted more extreme positions on abortion than they have previously ever held. But their shift toward extremity for the sake of Iowa's evangelical base could come back to haunt the eventual nominee in the general election.

Over the past month, conservative Christian and anti-abortion groups have put the Republican presidential candidates under great scrutiny and pressure to define exactly where they stand on reproductive rights. The Christian group Concerned Women for America warned in a statement last week that the candidates would be "wise to focus on their values" if they want to win in Iowa and released a video rallying evangelical women voters. . . .

December 29, 2011 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

North Carolina Weighs Restitution for Victims Sterilized Under State's Eugenics Program

The New York Times: Thousands Sterilized, a State Weighs Restitution, by Kim Severson:

Charles Holt, 62, spreads a cache of vintage government records across his trailer floor. They are the stark facts of his state-ordered sterilization.

The reports begin when he was barely a teenager, fighting at school and masturbating openly. A social worker wrote that he and his parents were of “rather low mentality.” Mr. Holt was sent to a state home for people with mental and emotional problems. In 1968, when he was ready to get out and start life as an adult, the Eugenics Board of North Carolina ruled that he should first have a vasectomy. . . .

December 11, 2011 in Men and Reproduction, State and Local News, Sterilization, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

British Study Finds That Abortion Does Not Increase Risk of Mental Health Problems

BBC News: Abortion 'does not raise' mental health risk, by Jane Dreaper:

Abortion does not raise the risk of a woman suffering mental health problems, a major review by experts concludes.

Data from 44 studies showed women with an unwanted pregnancy have a higher incidence of mental health problems in general.

This is not affected by whether or not they have an abortion or give birth. . . .

December 10, 2011 in Abortion, International, Medical News, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Has Sebelius Managed to Avoid Political Controversy by Reversing FDA on Plan B?

The Economist - Democracy in America blog: So much for avoiding controversy, by M.S.:

THE New York Times article on Kathleen Sebelius's decision to overrule the FDA and block over-the-counter distribution of emergency contraceptives gets it a bit wrong in the first paragraph.

For the first time ever, the Health and Human Services secretary publicly overruled the Food and Drug Administration, refusing Wednesday to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counter, including to young teenagers. The decision avoided what could have been a bruising political battle over parental control and contraception during a presidential election season.

That was probably what Mrs Sebelius intended to do, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. . . .

December 10, 2011 in Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 9, 2011

FDA Advisory Panel Endorses Birth Control Patch Despite Higher Risk of Clots

Bloomberg: J&J Birth Control Patch Backed by FDA Advisory Panel Reviewing Clot Risks, by Anna Edney:

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s birth control patch won the backing of advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the second time in two days the group endorsed a contraceptive linked to a higher risk of blood clots.

The benefits of the Ortho Evra patch outweigh the clot dangers, FDA reproductive and drug safety advisory panels said today in a 19-5 vote. The agency should change the information label to better reflect the risk, the panels said at a meeting today in Adelphi, Maryland. The agency doesn’t have to follow the recommendations. . . .

December 9, 2011 in Contraception, Medical News, President/Executive Branch, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Answers to Some Questions About Emergency Contraceptive "Plan B"

Wall Street Journal -- Health Blog: What is Plan B, Anyway? (And Can Guys Buy It?), by Katherine Hobson:

Plan B became the week’s big health story when, as the WSJ reported, the head of HHS overruled the FDA and blocked the emergency contraceptive pill from being made available to teens under 17 without a prescription.

President Obama joined the fray yesterday, when he said he didn’t influence HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s decision, but agreed with it. (We heard from plenty of you when we asked whether Sebelius was right.)

Here are answers to some basic questions about Plan B. . . .

December 9, 2011 in Contraception, Men and Reproduction, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

President Obama Backs HHS Emergency Contraception Decision

It's depressing to see President Obama using his daughters to argue for a decision that places politically motivated hurdles in the way of access to a safe and effective option for teenage girls of all ages to prevent unintended pregnancy.

The New York Times: Obama Backs Limit on Sale to Teenagers of Morning-After Pill, by Mark Landler:

President Obama, noting that he was the father of two daughters, threw his wholehearted support on Thursday behind a decision by his health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, not to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counter to young teenagers. . . .

December 9, 2011 in Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

HHS Overrules FDA Decision to Allow Younger Teens Access to Emergency Contraceptive Over the Counter

The New York Times: Plan to Widen Availability of Morning-After Pill Is Rejected, by Gardiner Harris:

For the first time ever, the Health and Human Services secretary publicly overruled the Food and Drug Administration, refusing Wednesday to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counter, including to young teenagers. The decision avoided what could have been a bruising political battle over parental control and contraception during a presidential election season.

The contraceptive pill, called Plan B One-Step, has been available without a prescription to women 17 and older, but those 16 and younger have needed a prescription — and they still will because of the decision by the health secretary, Kathleen Sibelius. If taken soon after unprotected sex, the pill halves the chances of a pregnancy. . . .

The Los Angeles Times - Booster Shots blog: Doctors groups blast decision on Plan B contraception, by Shari Roan:

Several major medical groups reacted swiftly Wednesday to denounce the federal government's decision to limit over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptives for younger teens. . . .

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine and American Society for Reproductive Medicine said Sebelius made the wrong call. . . .

Center for Reproductive Rights press release:

. . . Since 2009, the FDA has continually ignored a federal judge's order to reconsider and rule on the Citizen Petition filed by the Center in 2001 to make all brands of levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception available over-the-counter and to all ages-and the Center will be back in federal court on Tuesday, December 13 arguing the agency is in contempt of court for failing to do so.

The Center initially filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA in 2001 on behalf of over 70 medical and public health organizations, asking the agency to grant emergency contraception over-the-counter status to the original two-pill version of Plan B. When the FDA refused to rule on the petition, the Center filed a lawsuit in 2005 in federal court.

In 2009, the federal court ordered the FDA to reconsider its decision to limit over-the-counter access to Plan B for women over 16 after it was discovered the agency's decision was based on politics rather than science. The Center filed a motion for contempt against the FDA in November 2010 for continually failing to follow that order.

In February 2011, Teva filed a supplemental new drug application for Plan B One-Step asking the FDA to allow unrestricted over-the-counter distribution of the product. According to the FDA, the agency was poised to approve Plan B One-Step for over-the-counter, unrestricted use based on a "body of scientific findings, input from external scientific advisory committees, and data contained in the application that included studies designed to specifically address the regulatory standards for nonprescription drugs."

But today, Secretary Sebelius has blocked that approval, citing the data submitted by Teva "do not conclusively establish that Plan B One-Step should be made available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age." . . .

December 6, 2011 in Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gary Gutting on Abortion and Personhood

The New York Times Opinionator, On Abortion and Defining a ‘Person’, by Gary Gutting:

The Stone is featuring occasional posts by Gary Gutting, a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, that apply critical thinking to information and events that have appeared in the news.

The recent referendum in Mississippi showed that many Americans — including many strong opponents of abortion — are reluctant to treat a fertilized egg as a human person. They are, in particular, unwilling to extend the full protection of our laws against murder to a fertilized egg. This might seem to be just a common sense reaction to an extreme position, but rejecting the personhood position has important consequences for the logic of the abortion debate.  (In formulating these logical consequences, I am not taking a position on the morality of abortion.  As always, logic can only force a choice between accepting a conclusion and denying the premises from which the conclusion follows.) . . .

December 5, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Fetal Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)