Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stem-Cell-Based Drug Approved in Canada for Treatment of Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Stem cellThe New York Times: A Stem-Cell-Based Drug Gets Approval in Canada, by Andrew Pollack:

In a boost for the field of regenerative medicine, a small biotechnology company has received regulatory approval in Canada for what it says is the first manufactured drug based on stem cells.

The company, Osiris Therapeutics of Columbia, Md., said Thursday that Canadian regulators had approved its drug Prochymal, to treat children suffering from graft-versus-host disease, a potentially deadly complication of bone marrow transplantation. . . .

May 17, 2012 in Bioethics, International, Medical News, Stem Cell Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Congress Takes Up Bill to Ban Abortions in DC After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

The Huffington Post: Abortion Ban Proposed For D.C. Sparks Fierce Debate In Congress, by Laura Bassett:

A nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy would be difficult to push through both chambers of Congress, but Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is taking his chances on a consolation prize: a 20-week abortion ban in the District of Columbia.

The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803)would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in Washington, D.C., unless the mother's life is in danger. Franks, the sponsor of the bill, held a congressional hearing on the bill on Thursday in which he called abortions after 20 weeks "the greatest human rights atrocity occurring on U.S soil." . . .

May 16, 2012 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Congress, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bill Filed in North Carolina To Compensate Sterilization Victims

Politico: North Carolina may compensate sterilization victims, by MacKenzie Weinger:

The North Carolina legislature is moving to compensate victims of involuntary sterilization, according to a report.

Lawmakers filed a bill Wednesday recommending the state pay victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program $50,000 each, The Associated Press reported. North Carolina’s program forcibly sterilized more than 7,600 people from 1929-1974. . . .

May 16, 2012 in State Legislatures, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ohio Catholic College Drops Health Care Plan Over Objections to Federal Contraception Mandate

CNN: College drops health care plan over religious objections to new law, by Dan Gilgoff:

A Catholic college in Ohio has apparently become the nation’s first to drop its health care plan because it opposes parts of the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

The Franciscan University of Steubenville posted on its website last week that it is discontinuing its health care plan. . . .

May 16, 2012 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Caroline Mala Corbin on Sex and Race Discrimination by Religious Groups

Caroline Mala Corbin (University of Miami Law School) has posted Expanding the Bob Jones Compromise on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Caroline CorbinSometimes the right to liberty and the right to equality point in the same direction. Sometimes the two rights conflict. Which constitutional value should prevail when the right to religious liberty clashes with the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race and sex? More particularly, should faith-based organizations, in the name of religious liberty, be immune from anti-discrimination law?

Bob Jones University v. United States suggests a compromise: permit faith-based organizations to discriminate on the basis of race or sex if that discrimination is religiously required, but at the same time refuse to condone or support that discrimination by denying those religious organizations any financial aid. In fact, it is already federal policy to withhold government subsidies from religious organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, and the Bob Jones Court rejected a free exercise challenge to that policy. The same policy should apply with regard to discrimination on the basis of sex. Allowing religious groups to discriminate on the basis of sex but declining to provide grants, vouchers, or tax exempt status to those that do discriminate honors both our commitment to religious liberty and our commitment to equality. 

May 16, 2012 in Religion, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Governor Brownback Signs Kansas Bill Allowing Pharmacists To Refuse To Dispense Contraceptives

The Wichita Eagle: Brownback signs ‘conscience act’ letting pharmacists refuse to provide drugs they believe might cause abortion, by Brad Cooper:

Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a bill that will allow pharmacists to refuse to provide drugs they believe might cause an abortion.

Called the Heath Care Rights of Conscience Act, the new law will bar anyone from being required to prescribe or administer a drug they "reasonably believe" might result in the termination of a pregnancy. The law was signed Monday.

Critics say the law will open the door for a pharmacist to refuse a request for something like the "morning-after" pill, which the Mayo Clinic says can prevent or delay ovulation, block fertilization or keep a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. . . .


On the difference between emergency contraception (the "morning-after pill") and the early abortion pill, click here.


May 14, 2012 in Contraception, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Melissa Murray on the "New Illegitimacy"

Melissa E. Murray (University of California Berkeley School of Law) has posted What's so New About the New Illegitimacy? on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Image1 At common law, children born out of wedlock were legally disfavored — filius nullius, the child of no one. But according to an inherited legal progress narrative, all of this changed in 1968 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Levy v. Louisiana and Glona v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co., ushering in a new era in which the common law tradition that imposed serious disadvantages on non-marital children gave way to a more liberal era where the sins of the parents would not be visited upon the children. More recently however, illegitimacy seems to be making a comeback. In June 2011, the Family Leader, a Christian conservative group, exhorted presidential hopefuls to sign “The Marriage Vow — a Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Family.” “The Marriage Vow” emphasized the importance of the traditional nuclear family and marital fidelity, disavowed the expansion of civil marriage to same-sex couples, and identified the harms of illegitimacy. But social conservatives are not the only ones to emphasize illegitimacy and its perceived harms. Illegitimacy has become pervasive in the debate over same-sex marriage. Marriage traditionalists argue that marriage was intended to deal with the problem of illegitimacy and irresponsible procreation, while those favoring marriage equality argue that illegitimacy is an injury foisted upon same-sex couples and their families simply because they are ineligible for civil marriage.

In this Essay, written for The New Illegitimacy symposium, I consider these developments, and ask two questions: First, what are we to make of them? Do these developments signal the rise of a “new illegitimacy” in which non-marital birth status has been resurrected as a salient legal concept? And second, (regardless of how we answer the first question) what are the consequences of the marriage equality movement’s interest in illegitimacy? In taking up the first question, I debunk the inherited legal progress narrative that claims that law abandoned the common law’s treatment of illegitimacy and its many legal disadvantages in favor of a more liberal legal regime. I revisit Levy, Glona, and the line of unmarried fathers cases, to argue that constitutional protection for illegitimate families has been contingent on adhering to norms forged in the marital family. Even as law professes to liberalize its treatment of non-marital births, its clear preference for channeling sex and reproduction into the marital family (and those family forms that mimic marital family norms) remains indelible and intact. Bearing in mind that the narrative that charts the “progress” from the common law tradition to Levy and Glona, is less progressive than the conventional wisdom would allow, I turn to the emergence of illegitimacy as a salient concept in the struggle for marriage equality. To do so, I trace the emergence of the illegitimacy as injury argument in marriage equality cases and I explain the underappreciated costs of using illegitimacy to bolster claims for marriage equality.

May 14, 2012 in Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Advocating for Humane Treatment for Birthing, Incarcerated Women

AlterNet: Birthing Behind Bars: Fighting for Reproductive Justice for Women in Prison, by Tina Reynolds & Victoria Law:

"I never thought of advocating outside of prison. I just wanted to have some semblance of a normal life once I was released," stated Tina Reynolds, a mother and formerly incarcerated woman. Then she gave birth to her son while in prison for a parole violation:

"When I went into labor, my water broke. The van came to pick me up, I was shackled. Once I was in the van, I was handcuffed. I was taken to the hospital. The handcuffs were taken off, but the shackles weren’t. I walked to the wheelchair that they brought over to me and I sat in the wheelchair with shackles on me. They re-handcuffed me once I was in the wheelchair and took me up to the floor where women had their children. 

"When I got there, I was handcuffed with one hand. At the last minute, before I gave birth, I was unshackled so that my feet were free. Then after I gave birth to him, the shackles went back on and the handcuffs stayed on while I held my son on my chest."
That treatment, she recalled later, was "the most egregious, dehumanizing, oppressive practice that I ever experienced while in prison." Her experience is standard procedure for the hundreds of women who enter jail or prison while pregnant each year. . . .

May 14, 2012 in Incarcerated Women, Parenthood, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Kansas Bill Seeks to Attack Abortion Through the Tax Code

The Kansas City Star: Abortion becomes a tax issue in Kansas House bill, by Brad Cooper:


The tax code is becoming the new weapon in the war against abortion with Kansas pioneering the way.


The Kansas House passed a bill Monday that would further restrict abortion by rewriting state tax law. "Nobody on the state level has gone through their tax code in this manner," said Elizabeth Nash, a state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health issues.


The measure is patterned after a similar bill pending in Congress.


The Kansas bill, approved on an 88-31 vote, would prohibit taxpayers from deducting money spent on an abortion or for supplemental health insurance to cover the procedure. . . .

May 12, 2012 in Abortion, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Many Teens Lack Knowledge About Common Contraceptive Methods, Study Suggests


New Study Suggests Improving Contraceptive Knowledge May Positively Influence Behavior, Reducing Risk of Unplanned Pregnancy

More than half of young men and a quarter of young women who participated in a 2009 survey displayed serious gaps in knowledge about common contraceptive methods, according to "Young Adults' Contraceptive Knowledge, Norms and Attitudes: Associations with Risk of Unintended Pregnancy," by Jennifer Frost et al. of the Guttmacher Institute. The authors found that the lower the level of contraceptive knowledge among young women, the greater the likelihood that they expected to have unprotected sex in the next three months, behavior that puts them at risk for an unplanned pregnancy. These findings come on the heels of a study that found that women in their 20s have the highest risk of experiencing an unintended pregnancy. . . .

May 11, 2012 in Contraception, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexuality Education, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chile's Maternal Mortality Rate Falls Below that of U.S. Despite Its Ban on Abortions

ScienceDaily: Education, Not Abortion, Reduces Maternal Mortality, Study Suggests:

A scientific analysis of 50 years of maternal mortality data from Chile has found that the most important factor in reducing maternal mortality is the educational level of women. "Educating women enhances women's ability to access existing health care resources, including skilled attendants for childbirth, and directly leads to a reduction in her risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth," according to Dr Elard Koch, epidemiologist and leading author of the study. . . .

May 11, 2012 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Contraceptive Patches and Vaginal Rings Pose Greater Risk of Blood Clots Than Pill

BBC: Vaginal rings 'riskier than contraceptive pill':

Using skin patches or vaginal rings for contraception presents a higher risk of developing serious blood clots than the pill, according to researchers.

A study, published on the BMJ website, followed all women in Denmark for a decade to compare the risks of developing clots.

The authors said women should be aware of the risks with each form of contraception. . . .

May 11, 2012 in Contraception, Medical News, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Nancy Keenan, NARAL President, Announces She Will Step Down

The Huffington Post: Nancy Keenan, NARAL Pro-Choice America President, to Step Down, by Laura Bassett:

Nancy Keenan, president of the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America, announced on Thursday that she plans to step down from her leadership position in January 2013 in order to make room for a younger leader and a new generation of reproductive rights activists.

“There’s an opportunity for a new and younger leader,” Keenan, 60, told the Washington Post, which broke the story. “Roe v. Wade is 40 in January. It’s time for a new leader to come in and, basically, be the person for for the next 40 years of protecting reproductive choice.”

Keenan took the helm of NARAL in 2004 after spending years working in Montana politics. . . .

May 10, 2012 in Abortion, Contraception, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kara Swanson on the History of Artificial Insemination

Kara W. Swanson (Northeastern University-School of Law) has posted Adultry by Doctor: Artificial Insemination, 1890-1945 on SSRN. Here is the abstract:Image1

In 1945, American judges decided the first court cases involving assisted conception. The challenges posed by assisted reproductive technologies to law and society made national news then, and have continued to do so into the twenty-first century. This article considers the first technique of assisted conception, artificial insemination, from the late nineteenth century to 1945, the period in which doctors and their patients worked to transform it from a curiosity into an accepted medical technique, a transformation that also changed a largely clandestine medical practice into one of the most pressing medicolegal problems of the mid-twentieth century. Doctors and lawyers alike worried whether insemination using donor sperm was adultery by doctor, producing illegitimate offspring. Drawing upon the legal and scientific literatures, case law, popular sources and medical archives, I argue that insemination became identified in medicine and law as a pressing problem at mid-century after decades of quiet use because of the increasing success of the technique, increasing patient demand, and increasing use -- three interrelated trends that led to increasing numbers of babies whose origins were “in the test tube.” In examining the history of a medical procedure becoming a legal problem, I also trace the development of a medical practice in the face of legal uncertainty and the shifting control of the medical profession over assisted conception. I argue that doctors modified the way they treated patients in response to perceived social and legal condemnation of artificial insemination, keeping tight control over all aspects of the procedure, but that doctors’ persistence in meeting patient demand for fertility treatments despite such condemnation helped make artificial insemination into a medicolegal problem. Once it became identified as a medicolegal problem, artificial insemination became the subject of a broad social discussion, in which medical voices did not receive automatic deference, and medical control was challenged. 

May 10, 2012 in Assisted Reproduction, Fertility, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New, Non-Invasive Test Launched for Detection of Common Fetal Trisomies

MarketWatch: Ariosa Diagnostics Announces Nationwide Launch of the Harmony(TM) Prenatal Test Through LabCorp:

Ariosa Diagnostics, a molecular diagnostics company, today announced that the Harmony(TM) Prenatal Test will be available in the United States and Canada through Laboratory Corporation of America® Holdings (LabCorp®) and Integrated Genetics, a member of LabCorp's Specialty Testing Group. Harmony represents an innovative non-invasive test for detection of common fetal trisomies utilizing a directed approach to analyze cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in maternal blood. The Harmony Prenatal Test is currently available in selected locations and will be broadly available next month. . . .

May 8, 2012 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marie Ashe on Implications for Women of U.S. Constitutional Doctrine on Religion

Marie Ashe (Suffolk University Law School) has posted Women's Wrongs, Religions' Rights: Women, Free Exercise, and Establishment in American Law on SSRN. Here is the abstract.

This article provides an historical examination of American Constitutional law concerning religion as it has evolved through three periods: the Mormon period of the late nineteenth century; the religious pluralism period of post-WW2 decades; and the multiculturalism period that began around 1990 and that remains underway. It examines Supreme Court interpretations of First Amendment provisions pertaining to religion, and it contextualizes those interpretations to explore their implications for women’s liberty and equality at each of the three periods. Its argument is that Constitutional doctrine relating to religion – through its multiple doctrinal reversals – has consistently entailed and depended upon negative constructions of women, sacrificing women’s liberty and equality interests in order to prefer and to cultivate the liberty and equality interests of churches.

May 8, 2012 in Religion, Scholarship and Research, Supreme Court, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Planned Parenthood Sues TX Over Defunding of Reproductive Health Clinics

NPR: As Texas Cuts Funds, Planned Parenthood Fights Back, by Wade Goodwyn:

Texas Republicans have been trying to figure out a way to defund Planned Parenthood since they captured both legislative bodies and the governor's office in 2002.

Now, the efforts of Gov. Rick Perry and his anti-abortion allies to strip the organization of state funding have led to a legal tussle in federal court. . . .

Listen to the story.

May 7, 2012 in Abortion, Contraception, In the Courts, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Choice Protesters Target In-Laws of Maryland Abortion Clinic Landlord

The Washington Post: Abortion protesters target a clinic landlord's in-laws, by Petula Dvorak:

In-laws? Are you kidding me?

Abortion protesters who want to shut down a Maryland clinic have tried a pretty ridiculous new tactic that targets — get this — the in-laws of the guy who leases the building to a doctor.

Todd Stave’s in-laws came home to their Baltimore neighborhood Wednesday to find fliers up and down the street urging the shutdown of a women’s health clinic in Germantown that offers late-term abortions.

How do they ask for this? With high school yearbook photos of the landlord’s wife, Randi, along with the names, address and home telephone number of her parents. (Plus the usual bloody and graphic fetus photos.) . . .

May 7, 2012 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Women Sue WA State Attorney General Over His Opposition to Federal Healthcare Law

The Seattle Times: McKenna sued over challenge to Obama health-care law, by Craig Welch: McKenna

Ninety women who say they've been helped by the federal health-care overhaul sued Rob McKenna on Thursday, arguing the state's Republican attorney general breached his ethical duties by joining legal arguments to scrap the entire law while publicly saying he only wanted to eliminate its controversial individual mandate.

The women, including several cancer survivors, are represented by attorney Knoll Lowney, a Democratic activist who also filed a lawsuit that ensnared the last Republican candidate for governor, Dino Rossi, in the middle of the 2008 campaign. . . .

May 7, 2012 in In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Abortion Group Accuses Clinic of Failure to Report Child Sexual Abuse Based on Papers Stolen from Dumpster

The Kansas City Star: Kansas investigates claims about KCK abortion clinic, by Donald Bradley & Alan Bavley:  Image1

Wichita-based group says it has evidence child sex abuse wasn’t reported. Clinic says the allegations are untrue.

Kansas regulators said Thursday that they are investigating claims by an anti-abortion group that it has documents showing that a Kansas City, Kan., clinic broke the law by not reporting child sexual abuse.

Wichita-based Operation Rescue said it has “bits and pieces” of paper that identify patients at Central Family Medicine, a clinic that provides first-trimester abortions and related family planning services. The group says the clinic “cavalierly discarded” the papers. . . .

May 7, 2012 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)