Unhappy couples in New York have long gone to extremes to throw off the shackles of matrimony—in the worst cases, framing their spouses, producing graphic testimony about affairs, or even confessing to crimes they did not commit. All this will fade into the past if, as expected, Gov. David Paterson signs a bill making New York the last state in the country to adopt unilateral no-fault divorce. . . .
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Jun. 26, 2019 (Vice): Med Students Are Doing Vaginal Exams on Unconscious, Non-Consenting Patients, by Hannah Harris Green:
For decades, medical students around the country have been expected to perform pelvic exams on unconscious women--not for the patient's benefit but solely for the student's experience. Sometimes these exams are performed multiple times by different students on the same patient. The exams involve a student inserting "two gloved fingers into the patient’s vagina and [placing] one hand on her pelvis in order to feel the uterus and ovaries." This patient is never asked for consent prior to the procedure nor is she informed of the exam afterward.
One former student--now a pediatrician in Baltimore, Maryland--learned of these procedures during his OB/GYN rotation while studying at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in the 1990s. He refused to participate, joining in a movement to ban the practice. Ari Silver-Isenstadt took a year out of his medical studies to study the ethical implications of this practice at Penn's School of Education. He subsequently published a study in 2003 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that found that over 90 percent of students at the five Pennsylvania medical schools he had focused on had performed vaginal exams on non-consenting, unconscious patients. He noted that students' initial discomfort with the procedure quickly dissipated as it became a regular part of their rotations.
California became the first state to ban these invasive exams in 2003, the same year of Silver-Isenstadt's study. Since then, Illinois, Virginia, Oregon, Hawaii, Iowa, Utah, and Maryland have followed suit. Additional states that have introduced similar legislation this year include Connecticut, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Washington, and Texas. No federal legislation yet addresses the issue.
Some medical schools have also banned the practice institutionally as well--like Harvard--but others, including Duke University, consistently ask their medical students to perform pelvic exams sans consent throughout their education.
While the procedure invades the privacy of any patient, consequences can be particularly severe for patients with a history of sexual trauma who either find out a pelvic exam was performed on them while unconscious or else wake up during the produce, as did Ashely Weitz in 2007.
Weitz said testifying about her experience in support of Utah's law in February was nerve-racking, especially because she expected there to be other women at the hearing at the state house with similar experiences, but she was the only one. Given the nature of these exams, people don’t know if it's happened to them. She said it was “a very healing practice to say 'this shouldn't happen to me, it shouldn't be happening in the way that it is happening in an institution.'” But there are still parts of the incident that she hasn’t recovered from. “It changed the way that I sought and received medical care,” she said. “I was, you know, thereafter very certain that I was never going to be sedated or unconscious in a manner that would have allowed that situation to happen again. So it was in itself very traumatizing.”
Utah's ban on unconscious pelvic exams was signed into law in March of this year. It requires both medical students and doctors to get explicit consent to perform such exams on anesthetized women. A law professor at the University of Illinois, Robin Fretwell Wilson, credited Weitz's testimony as the primary driving force behind the state legislation.
Wilson herself advocates for requiring specific consent for any pelvic exams. While opponents to legislation requiring consent argue that general consent forms signed upon entering a teaching hospital already cover these exams, Wilson and other advocates for patient protections assert that it is ethically wrong to practice procedures that are of no benefit to the patient without direct consent.
Many advocates, including Weitz, connect the growing opposition to these vaginal exams to the rising tide of the #MeToo movement in recent years. "The #MeToo movement has helped people like Weitz better understand that the violations they endure are part of a wider cultural problem."
Wilson acknowledges that even 10 or 15 years ago, the attitude toward this practice was completely different. "At the time, medical school faculty 'were more than willing to stand their ground and say, "not only do we do it, but the patients in our hospitals have a duty to participate."' . . . 15 years ago, many schools 'did not see it as an issue.'"
Advocates of legal regulations requiring patient consent, though, still fear that enforcement of the new laws will be difficult. "In order for authorities to find out, students would need to both be aware of the law and willing to report wrongdoing by their supervisors, so [Silver-Isenstadt is] hoping the culture is what will ultimately change."
Friday, June 7, 2019
Jun. 4, 2019 (Quartz): Canada will invest $1 billion globally in women's and girls' health every year, by Annabelle Timsit:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada's new commitment to invest over one billion dollars annually in women's and girls' health. The funding will in large part benefit sexual and reproductive health in the face of growing threats around the world to women's rights, including the right to abortion.
This funding is an increase from Canada's prior years' commitments and comes with increased focus on supporting "female entrepreneurs, indigenous women, and LGBTQ people."
Allocating funding, among other socio-political resources, to the protection of Indigenous women in particular is especially critical in light of the recent report of the Canadian national inquiry regarding mass killings and disappearances of Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada. (See The New York Times (Jun. 3, 2019), by Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky).
The three-year inquiry's final report labeled the systemic violence suffered by the Indigenous populations in Canada "a race-based genocide." It also included over 200 recommendations to implement systemic changes, like reforming police practices and the criminal justice system overall, as well as expansion of Indigenous women's shelters and empowering Indigenous persons to serve on civilian boards overseeing civil services. In addition, the report's authors call for the elevation of Indigenous languages to official languages of Canada, alongside English and French.
The inquiry, long overdue in the face of pervasive, violent colonialism, was prompted in 2014 when Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old girl from the Sagkeeng First Nation was found dead in the Manitoba Red River, wrapped in a plastic bag and weighed down with 25 pounds of rocks. The main suspect in her murder was acquitted.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Sierra (Sept. 18, 2018): Climate Activists Say Women Are Key to Solving the Climate Crisis, by Wendy Becktold:
Last week, San Francisco hosted the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS). The three-day conference brought together heads of state, policy makers, scientists, and leaders from civil society to discuss clean energy and averting catastrophic climate change. One of the recurring topics focused on the necessity of investing in women's rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, in combating climate crises.
Decades of research indicate that investing in women's rights can dramatically contribute to addressing both development and climate challenges around the globe. In particular, access to education and robust reproductive rights strengthens opportunities for women worldwide. Supporting women is proven to translate to more sustainable development including the promotion of clean energy over fossil fuels.
"Access to reproductive health services is...key to reducing pressure on natural resources." A lack of access to contraception, for example, leads to many millions of unplanned pregnancies, which in turn can prevent women from creating the productive and sustainable systems they would otherwise be able to contribute to. Better education can also reduce birth rates and further improve the livelihood of women around the world.
In poorer parts of the world, women produce 60-80 percent of food crops. Providing women with better education and resources such as access to small business loans (like their male counterparts often have) could could reduce the number of people who go hungry around the world by 150 million.
Many summit conversations at the conference, in addition to countless side events, highlighted the shared frustrations of women around the world.
Some climate activists found the summit’s emphasis on high tech solutions exasperating. 'There’s often a focus on techno fixes,' said Burns [of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization], 'when for years, we’ve been saying that investing in women’s human rights is how we can address climate change. There is still this huge disconnect between the rhetoric and the solutions that are coming from feminists and frontline voices.'
"Women are also disproportionately affected by climate change," in part because global warming reaches the impoverished first and most people living in poverty are women.
The conversations at the GCAS highlighted how integral reproductive rights and support of women's opportunities are to innumerable issues. The ripple-effect of guaranteeing sexual and reproductive rights, the research shows, extends far past simply being able to plan a pregnancy; such support builds up communities around the globe, reduces poverty, and has the power to fight behemoth challenges like climate change as well.
September 19, 2018 in Conferences and Symposia, Contraception, International, Miscellaneous, Politics, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Scholarship and Research, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
STAFF ATTORNEY, PUBLIC POLICY LITIGATION AND LAW, PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION OF AMERICA
The Public Policy Litigation and Law Department (PPL&L) of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) seeks two Staff Attorneys to join our team. These positions can be located in either our New York City or Washington, DC office.
PPL&L provides legal advice both to the national organization and to Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country on public policy issues that affect the mission of the organization. PPL&L also conducts and participates in high visibility litigation in state and federal courts throughout the country to advance the Planned Parenthood mission.
We seek attorneys with outstanding credentials who have 2 to 7 years of litigation experience, ideally involving questions of constitutional law. The successful candidates’ responsibilities will be commensurate with his/her experience.
Competitive public interest salary that is based on experience, plus comprehensive benefits. We are an equal opportunity employer and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds.
Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter to [email protected]. Please indicate whether you prefer the NYC office, DC office, or both. Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled.
Monday, September 23, 2013
Via the Center for Reproductive Rights:
Unite Tonight with the Center for Reproductive Rights this Wednesday
If you’re interested in hosting your own event to rally friends in support of reproductive rights, sign up to be an Ambassador at DrawTheLine.org. The Center will host a live, interactive online presentation hosted by Michelle Maryk and will feature a conversation with the Center’s president and CEO, Nancy Northup and messages from celebrity supporters of the Center’s Draw the Line campaign.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The Center for Reproductive Rights: The Center for Reproductive Rights Seeks Special Counsel and Director of Judicial Strategy:
The Center for Reproductive Rights (the “Center”), a global human rights organization founded in 1992 with expertise in constitutional and international law, seeks a Special Counsel and Director of Judicial Strategy of the U.S. Legal Program to be based in its New York City headquarters. This new position will lead the Center’s aggressive campaign to restore robust constitutional and legal protection for reproductive rights throughout the U.S.
The Special Counsel and Director of Judicial Strategy will join the team of an innovative and cutting-edge organization committed to promoting the equality, reproductive health, and self-determination of women throughout the world. National-level courts, regional human rights courts, and United Nations bodies have increasingly recognized that a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy and reproductive healthcare are basic human rights that must be protected. The Center for Reproductive Rights has played a key role in these groundbreaking victories and works with attorneys and advocates in the U.S., Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. The Center’s groundbreaking litigation and advocacy has transformed how reproductive rights are understood by courts, governments, and human rights bodies, and its undivided focus on reproductive rights has given it unparalleled expertise in the use of constitutional, international and comparative human rights law to hold governments accountable for failing to ensure women’s access to critical reproductive healthcare services.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Masculinities scholarship could be seen as distinct from and complementary to feminist theory — an independent and parallel companion theory, developed by men. In this regard, from a feminist’s perspective masculinities scholarship might be thought of as ethnography, helpfully providing insights into the operations and assumptions of a distinct masculine culture. This approach would seem to validate the notion that there are significant differences between men’s and women’s experiences and perspectives, and consideration of both is necessary to form a complete legal theory picture. Feminist legal theory and masculinities theory are thus seen as both contrasting and complementary in nature.
On the other hand, masculinities scholarship can be understood as providing the basis for a critique of feminist legal theory. This approach begins with the allegation that feminist legal theory generally and incorrectly treats men as a monolithic group when there is in fact a multiplicity of male identities. Masculinities scholarship, in this framing, could be categorized as the male-focused companion to critiques that have been made over the past thirty years that feminist legal theory is excluding and essentializing. It is this understanding of the significance of masculinities to feminist legal theory that prompted this Essay.
Monday, February 25, 2013
In the 1980s, President Reagan -- under pressure from anti-choice activists -- directed C. Everett Koop to review the research on abortion and report back about the health effects of the procedure. Although personally opposed to abortion, Koop refused to issue the report, finding that there was no credible evidence that abortion caused women either physical or mental harm. Unfortunately, anti-choice activists continue to perpetuate the myth that abortion causes lasting emotional trauma and to push for laws that require doctors to pass along this misinformation to women.
See: The Guttmacher Institute: Abortion and Mental Health: Myths and Realities
The New York Times: C. Everett Koop, Forceful U.S. Surgeon General, Dies at 96, by Holcomb B. Noble:
Dr. C. Everett Koop, who was widely regarded as the most influential surgeon general in American history and played a crucial role in changing public attitudes about smoking, died on Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H. He was 96. . . .
Dr. Koop was completing a successful career as a pioneer in pediatric surgery when he was nominated for surgeon general, having caught the attention of conservatives with a series of seminars, films and books in collaboration with the theologian Francis Schaeffer that expressed anti-abortion views. . . .
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The New York Times: Ronald Dworkin, Legal Philosopher, Dies at 81, by Adam Liptak:
Ronald Dworkin, a legal philosopher and public intellectual of bracingly liberal views who insisted that morality is the touchstone of constitutional interpretation, died Thursday in London. He was 81. . . .
Professor Dworkin’s most influential book was “Law’s Empire,” on the nature and role of adjudication. It was among the most-cited books on law of the last century. He also wrote “Life’s Dominion,” on abortion, euthanasia and the questions they raise . . . .
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Center for Reproductive Rights:
Director of Government Relations, Washington, DC
11.28.12 - Job Title: Director of Government Relations
Department: Government Relations (based in Washington, DC)
Job Posted On: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
PRESS CONTACT: Mel Gagarin
(212) 274-7294/[email protected]
ASOBI SEKSU, NORTH HIGHLANDS, LITTLE,BIG, AND SARA BENINCASA PLAY FIFTH ANNUAL ROE ON THE ROCKS BENEFIT FOR PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF NEW YORK CITY
Our Access to Basic Health Care Is Under Attack. We Have a Say.
Stand with Planned Parenthood and Fight Back.
New York, NY – This April 16th, 2012, at a time when our right to basic health care is under attack, New York dream pop band, Asobi Seksu, along with special guests North Highlands and Little,Big, will play the fifth annual Roe on the Rocks benefit concert at The Highline Ballroom. Award-winning comedian and writer, Sara Benincasa, will be the evening’s emcee. All proceeds from the event will go to Planned Parenthood of New York City.
The Roe on the Rocks concert is held every year to recognize Roe v Wade, the historic Supreme Court Case which 39 years ago confirmed women’s right to privacy and thus access to abortion services. The show couldn’t come at a more important time – amidst the worst attacks on not just reproductive rights but access to basic health care. Past acts have included Regina Spektor, Thao with The Get Down Stay Down, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and (others).
What: 5th Annual Roe on the Rocks Benefit Concert for Planned Parenthood of New York City
Who: Asobi Seksu
Planned Parenthood of New York City
Where: Highline Ballroom, NYC
431 W 16th St, between 9th and 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
When: April 16th, 2012
Doors open at 7:00pm
Tickets: General Admission: $25
For event information, please contact Stephanie Demmons [email protected]
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The New York Times: Gender Gap Persists in Cost of Health Insurance, by Robert Pear:
The new health care law will prohibit such “gender rating,” starting in 2014. But gaps persist in most states, with no evidence that insurers have taken steps to reduce them.
For a popular Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Chicago, a 30-year-old woman pays $375 a month, which is 31 percent more than what a man of the same age pays for the same coverage, according to eHealthInsurance.com, a leading online source of health insurance. . . .
Friday, December 30, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Landmark Human Rights Case Finds that Failure to Enforce a Restraining Order and Indifference to Domestic Violence Led to Daughters’ Deaths:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a landmark decision, an international tribunal has found the U.S. government responsible for human rights violations against a Colorado woman and her three deceased children who were victims of domestic violence.
Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States is the first case brought by a domestic violence survivor against the U.S. before an international human rights body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The IACHR ruling also sets forth comprehensive recommendations for changes to U.S. law and policy pertaining to domestic violence.
The case concerns a tragic 1999 incident in which police in Castle Rock, Colorado failed to respond to Jessica Lenahan’s repeated calls for help after her estranged husband, Simon Gonzales, kidnapped their three young children in violation of a domestic violence restraining order. Ten hours after Lenahan’s first call to the police, her husband drove up to the Castle Rock Police Department and began firing his gun at the police station. The police returned fire, killing Gonzales. Inside the truck, the police found the bodies of the three girls – Rebecca, Katheryn, and Leslie – who had been shot dead. Local authorities failed to conduct a proper investigation into the children’s deaths, resulting in questions about the cause, time, and place of their deaths that remain to this day.
“I have waited 12 years for justice, knowing in my heart that police inaction led to the tragic and untimely deaths of my three young daughters,” said Lenahan. “Today’s decision tells the world that the government violated my human rights by failing to protect me and my children from domestic violence.”
Lenahan is represented by the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The commission’s determination that the United States violated Ms. Lenahan’s and her children’s human rights by failing to ensure their protection from domestic violence has far-reaching implications,” said Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. “As our country seeks to promote human rights of women and children around the world, we must also look at our own record here at home.”
The commission’s decision stands in stark contrast to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Castle Rock v. Jessica Gonzales (2005), where the justices ruled that Lenahan (then Gonzales) had no constitutional right to police protection, and that the failure of the police to enforce Lenahan's order of protection was not unconstitutional. Lenahan then filed a petition against the U.S. before the IACHR, alleging violations of international human rights.
“Now that the commission has appropriately found the police and the United States responsible for their appalling lack of action, it is critical that they be held accountable,” said Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “We can no longer accept police departments' failure to treat domestic violence seriously and to regard it as simply a private matter unworthy of serious police attention.”
Established in 1959, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is charged with promoting the observance of and respect for human rights throughout the Americas. The commission is expressly authorized to examine allegations of human rights violations by all 35 member-states of the Organization of American States, which includes the United States, and to investigate specific allegations of violations of Inter-American human rights treaties, declarations and other legal instruments.
"We know that the issue of violence against women is one that the Obama Administration cares deeply about,” said Peter Rosenblum, director of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic. “We encourage the Administration to work with the appropriate state and local officials to address and adapt the Commission’s recommendations in a meaningful way."
More information on the case can be found at:
http://www.aclu.org/human-rights-womens-rights/jessica-gonzales-v-usa; http://www.law.miami.edu/hrc/hrc_gonzalez_usa.php; http://www.law.columbia.edu/human-rights-institute/initiatives/interamerican/gonzales
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Planned Parenthood of New York City announces Seventh Annual “Summer, Sex and Spirits” Benefit at Hudson Terrace Features Burlesque Performances, Open Bar, Entertainment by Mistress B, Silent Auction and more:
She helped create some of New York City’s most infamous club nights over the past decade and a half, and now the legendary DJ Justine D, along with her longtime friend DJ Ayres, have joined forces with Planned Parenthood of New York City – spinning music at the organization’s seventh annual “Summer, Sex & Spirits” Fundraiser. . . .
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Now that Labor Day has come and gone, it's time to say THANKS to my fabulous research assistants, CUNY Law students AMY HAGER ('11) and JENN FEELEY ('12), for their work this summer researching issues for this blog.
Monday, August 16, 2010
In Memorian: Mary Anne Warren (1946-2010)
A feminist philosopher, Professor Warren taught for many years at San Francisco State University, and was especially well-known for widely anthologized and discussed work in bioethics, especially on abortion.
See also: What Sorts of People: David Lee Hull and Mary Anne Warren
NY Times: Paterson Signs No-Fault Divorce Bill:
Gov. David A. Paterson signed into law a package of bills on divorce on Sunday, including one making New York one of the last states to allow couples to dissolve marriages by mutual consent.
The no-fault divorce bill allows a couple to dissolve the marriage by mutual consent and without requiring one spouse to accuse the other of adultery, cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment. It also allows one spouse to divorce the other unilaterally.
Supporters said the bill would end an epidemic of institutionalized perjury in divorce courts, with some spouses said to falsely testify to wrongdoing to get a divorce. Opponents, including the Roman Catholic Church, said the no-fault measure would lead to higher divorce rates. . . .
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Wall St. Journal: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, by Ilyon Woo:
False confessions, graphic testimony, framed spouses and 'unknown blondes': a history of the difficulty in getting divorced, and how it could now change
In 1961, as cheap, fast Mexican divorces became popular, Marilyn Monroe traveled to Ciudad Juarez to file for divorce from playwright Arthur Miller (above, in happier days).