Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Democrats See Political Opportunity in Republican Opposition to Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Democrat donkey Repub elephantThe New York Times: Democrats See Benefits in Battle on Contraception Access, by Jennifer Steinhauer & Helene Cooper:

With the cameras running and the microphones on, Congressional Democrats express outrage over Republican efforts to limit the types of health care that employers have to offer to their workers, particularly contraception. This is a fight Democrats are perfectly pleased to have.

As the issue of contraception access comes to the Senate this week, White House officials and Senate Democrats are increasingly hopeful that it will cut in their favor, believing that voters will conclude that Republicans are overreaching under the rubric of religious freedom. . . .

February 29, 2012 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Congress, Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Public Opinion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Idaho Legislator Introduces Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

The Spokesman Review: Pre-abortion ultrasound bill introduced in Idaho, by Betsy Z. Russell: Image1

BOISE - Controversial anti-abortion legislation that caused a brouhaha before being withdrawn in Virginia was introduced in Idaho today, to require an ultrasound before any Idaho woman could have an abortion.

The issue is that at very early stages of pregnancy, before six to eight weeks gestation, a regular abdominal ultrasound doesn’t provide a clear picture of the fetus, requiring instead an invasive transvaginal ultrasound, a procedure that includes penetration of the patient with an ultrasound wand. Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, said the original version of his bill specifically mentioned that procedure, but he removed it.

“It didn’t require it, but in my opinion it was confusing … so we took it out,” Winder said. . . .

February 29, 2012 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Time for Men to Speak Up for Women’s Reproductive Rights

Huffington Post: Where Are the Men?, by Robert Walker:

All across America, women are responding to the latest attacks on their reproductive health and rights. Female legislators, leading feminists and concerned women everywhere are fighting back. Good for them, but where are the men?

On the other side of the reproductive divide, there is no shortage of men. There was no shortage of men when a U.S. House oversight committee last week pulled together a panel of "expert" witnesses to testify against requiring health insurers to cover contraceptives for women who work for religiously-affiliated organizations. The majority on the committee called 11 witnesses. They were all men. That's why women on the committee walked out in protest. . . .

February 29, 2012 in Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Men and Reproduction, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

March 5: Deadline for Submissions for Sarah Weddington Prize for Student Scholarship on Reproductive Rights

Law Students for Reproductive Justice: 2012 Sarah Weddington Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights:

Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) Law School Initiative invite submissions for the seventh annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize.

The theme this year is “Legislating Stereotypes: Reproductive Rights Rollback in the States.”

Papers must be at least 20 pages in length (not including footnotes), double-spaced in 12-point font with footnotes in 10-point font, conforming to Bluebook citation format. Only original scholarship by current law students or 2011 graduates will be accepted. Papers submitted for publication elsewhere will be considered, but will be ineligible for first place if published elsewhere. Papers already contracted for publication as of March 2012 will not be accepted. Winners will be selected by an outside panel of legal and academic judges. Send your submission (in Word format as an email attachment) to [email protected] by 5:00pm PST on Monday, March 5, 2012. The 1st place winning submission will be published in New York University School of Law’s 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.

For more information, see the call for submissions description.

February 26, 2012 in Law School, Scholarship and Research, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Catholic Hospital Expansions Raise Concerns Over Access to Reproductive Health Services

The New York Times: Catholic Hospitals Expand, Religious Strings Attached, by Reed Abelson:

As Roman Catholic leaders and government officials clash over the proper role of religion and reproductive health, shifts in health care economics are magnifying the tension. Financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly joining with smaller secular hospitals, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion and sterilization.

In Seattle, Swedish Health Services has offered elective abortions for decades. But the hospital agreed to stop when it joined forces this month with Providence Health & Services, one of the nation’s largest Catholic systems. . . .

February 26, 2012 in Abortion, Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexual Assault, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mary Fan on Decentralizing STD Surveillance

Mary D. Fan (University of Washington School of Law) has posted Decentralizing STD Surveillance: Toward Better Informed Sexual Consent on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

Historically, sexually transmitted diseases have been treated as an affliction of the morally degenerate Other and the consequence of deviation from the dominant sexual culture. Sexual culture and our national sexual health have, however, evolved. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also referred to as STIs) are widespread and spreading. Transmission is facilitated by social, cultural and technological shifts. These social shifts strain our STD surveillance polices and laws, which remain strongly shaped by the inherited paradigm of the past. Information and power is centralized in the state, which receives, stores, and sometimes acts -- albeit with increasing infrequency in a time of severe budgetary strain -- on information reluctantly reported by health care providers. Because of targeted intervention and concentrated surveillance in low-income health settings, socially and economically marginalized groups continue to bear the heaviest burden of surveillance. Sexual culture shifts and the resulting health ramifications, however, cut across traditional social categories such as class, age, sexual orientation, and race.

This article explores how public health policies can respond to changing sexual culture and the need for more reliable information sharing by facilitating voluntary test results sharing and priority flagging of actors most in need of intervention. The Article advocates for utilizing the better vantage of doctors to identify potentially problematic actors based on reports by patients, in the privacy of the doctor’s office, about individuals who endangered their health. In a time when budget-strapped public health authorities are in triage mode and unable to engage in contact-tracing for all cases, a priority flag approach would be more efficient in identifying potentially problematic actors in need of stronger surveillance and educational intervention. This method of identification is also salutary because it relies on accounts of behavior warranting concern, rather than on heuristics about who is high-risk that may reinforce old stigmas and stereotypes.

February 26, 2012 in Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recent Dominance of Social Issues in Presidential Campaign May Affect Women's Vote

The New York Times: Focus on Social Issues Could Shape Battle for Women, by Richard W. Stevenson:

Rick Santorum creates a stir by speaking out against prenatal testing. Virginia’s governor and legislature get caught up in an emotional debate over requiring women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound. President Obama, under pressure, recalibrates his position on health-insurance coverage of contraception for employers with religious affiliations.

Social issues are back with a vengeance, dominating the dialogue on the presidential campaign trail, in Congress and in state capitals. . . .

February 26, 2012 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Contraception, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

NYT Analysis of Political Framing of Ultrasound Mandates

The New York Times: Ultrasound: A Pawn in the Abortion Wars, by Erik Eckholm:

“INFORMED consent.” It sounds so reasonable.

That’s the stated goal of legislation being considered in Virginia that would require a woman seeking an abortion to first have an ultrasound, giving her an opportunity to examine the developing fetus and hear its heartbeat.

The anti-abortion groups promoting this idea say it serves patients’ rights — a way to empower women with information. That argument held in nine other states that have adopted ultrasound requirements in recent years.

But in Virginia, abortion rights advocates succeeded in reframing the proposal in the public mind as, instead, an outrageous threat to women’s dignity. . . .

February 25, 2012 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why Are We Arguing Over Birth Control in 2012?

The Washington Post: How the Catholic Church almost came to accept birth control, by Elaine Tyler May:

There is something truly baffling about the 2012 presidential candidates hotly debating Planned Parenthood and birth control. These battles were fought — and won — half a century ago. At that time, the vast majority of Americans, nearly all mainstream religious organizations and leaders in both political parties accepted contraception as beneficial to families, society and the world. . . .

February 25, 2012 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Utah House Passes Bill Forbidding All Sex Ed But Abstinence-Only

Newser: Utah Bill Bars Sex-Ed Unless It's Abstinence-Only, by Rob Quinn:

A bill passed by Utah's House of Representatives gives schools a choice: Teach sex education that's all about not having sex, or drop sex ed. The bill, which allows schools to skip sex education, and bars those that keep it from discussing contraception, was passed 45-28 after a heated discussion about morality, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. All 17 of the chamber's Democrats voted against it, along with 11 Republicans. . . .

February 25, 2012 in Sexuality Education, State Legislatures, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Federal Court Upholds Constitutionality of Massachusetts Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Law

The Boston Globe: Federal judge rejects challenge to state’s abortion clinic buffer zone law, by Martin Finucane:

A federal judge has rejected a challenge to the state abortion clinic buffer zone law as it has been applied at clinics in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield.

US District Judge Joseph L. Tauro rejected claims that the law violated abortion protesters’ free speech rights, saying in a ruling issued today that the law “as applied is a valid regulation of the time, place, and manner of Plaintiffs’ speech.” . . .


February 24, 2012 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WA Gov. Gregoire Criticizes Court Decision Invalidating Requirement that Pharmacies Dispense Emergency Contraception

Governor Gregoire's statement on Stormans v. Selecky:

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued the following statement in response to the Stormans v. Selecky ruling in U.S. District Court:

“The purpose of the Board of Pharmacy rule is to ensure safe and timely access to lawful and lawfully prescribed medications, with particular concern about time sensitive medications. I remain concerned about the impacts on patients if pharmacies are allowed to refuse to dispense lawfully prescribed or lawful medications to patients. I am especially concerned about those living in rural areas, many of whom may have few alternatives and could suffer lengthy delays in receiving medication or go without entirely.

“My position in the matter has been clear from the start, and that is that patients should be provided with lawful and lawfully prescribed medications.

“Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, the Attorney General’s Office and I will confer regarding the best path forward to ensure patients have access to medications, especially those that are time sensitive. There are strong arguments to make on appeal from this lower court decision.”

February 24, 2012 in Contraception, In the Courts, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Virginia Governor McDonnell Discusses His Shift on Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

Watch Governor McDonnell struggle mightily to explain his shift without saying the word "vaginal."  Also, the governor patronizingly explains, "what you believe about marriage, and life, and families" was "critically important" to the founders of our country, "just go back and read the founding documents."  Please, do check, and let me know what you find.


February 24, 2012 in Abortion, In the Media, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

States Sue Federal Government Over Contraception Mandate

The Hill: Seven States Sue Over Contraception Mandate, by Sam Baker:

Seven state attorneys general sued the Obama administration Thursday over its order requiring some religious employers to cover birth control in their employees’ healthcare plans.

In the suit, the states argue that the White House infringed on the religious freedoms protected by the First Amendment.

“This violation of the [First] Amendment is a threat to every American, regardless of religious faith,” Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a news release. “We will not stand idly by while our constitutionally guaranteed liberties are discarded by an administration that has sworn to uphold them. . . .”

February 24, 2012 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Majority of Public Supports Obama's Contraceptive Coverage Compromise

Politico: Poll: Most back White House birth control rule, by M.J. Lee:

A slim majority of Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s recent change to the administration’s rule that mandated religiously affiliated institutions offer free contraception coverage to their employees, according to a new poll Thursday.

More than half of American voters, 54 percent, said they approve of Obama’s plan to allow faith-affiliated employers to refrain from offering free birth control to employees while mandating that it be covered by insurers. Thirty-eight percent said they disapprove of the plan, a Quinnipiac survey found. . . .

February 24, 2012 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Public Opinion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Virginia Personhood Bill Delayed Until After 2012 Election

I guess politics takes priority over the lives of all those pre-embryonic "persons."

Huffington Post: Virginia Personhood Bill: State Senate Defeats Bill, by John Celock:

In an unexpected move, the Virginia Senate killed the state's personhood bill, a key victory for women's groups seeking to battle the current proposals on reproductive rights.

By a 24-14 vote, the Senate agreed to a motion by Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) to push consideration of the bill to next year's legislative session. A coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the tied Senate voted for the motion; six Republican and 18 Democratic senators voted to push consideration of the bill back. Two Democratic senators abstained. . . .

February 24, 2012 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Assisted Reproduction, Contraception, Fetal Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can Drug Companies Be Held Liable for Faulty Birth Control?

The Atlantic: Is Pfizer Liable for Pregnancies Caused by Faulty Birth Control?, by Brad Jacobson:

A budding class action suit seeking $5 million in damages for a similar recall could have a significant impact on what the big pharmaceutical firm pays out.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer recently announced it's recalling one million packets of birth control medication because it mixed up the order of the hormone-containing pills with placebos during packaging, putting an unknown number of women at risk for unintended pregnancies. While news of this error spread quickly, the question of Pfizer's liability in this incident and how it delayed to notify the public has received scant attention. . . .

February 23, 2012 in Contraception, In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Virginia House Approves Modified Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

The Huffington Post: Virginia Ultrasound Bill Passes In House, by Laura Bassett:

The Virginia House of Delegates passed on Wednesday a revised version of a GOP-sponsored informed consent bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours before having an abortion. The new bill, which requires women to receive an external, transabdominal ultrasound rather than a more invasive transvaginal ultrasound, passed by a vote of 65-32.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) revoked his support for the original bill just minutes before the House began debate on it, saying that the government did not have the power to require the transvaginal procedure. . . .

February 23, 2012 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Sexual Assault, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Judge Rules Washington State Cannot Require Pharmacies to Sell Plan B

The Huffington Post: Judge says Wash. can't make pharmacies sell Plan B, by Gene Johnson:

Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying the state's true goal was to suppress religious objections by druggists – not to promote timely access to the medicines for people who need them.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton sided with a pharmacy and two pharmacists who said state rules requiring them to dispense Plan B violate their constitutional rights to freedom of religion because such drugs can destroy a fertilized egg, which they consider equal to abortion. . . .

The opinion is available here.

February 23, 2012 in Contraception, In the Courts, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Virginia Governor Modifies His Position on Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Bill

The New York Times: Governor of Virginia Calls for Changes in Abortion Bill, by Sabrina Tavernise:

Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia reversed his position on Wednesday on a bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion, saying he wanted changes in the measure before he would sign it.

The bill had drawn intense national attention, with women’s health groups holding a large protest over the weekend and spoofs aired on left-leaning comedy news shows. . . .

February 22, 2012 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)