Oklahoma can enforce its new anti-abortion admitting privileges requirement beginning November 1, a state district court judge ruled Friday.
SB 1848 mandates all reproductive health care clinics have a physician with admitting privileges at a local hospital on-site when abortion procedures are performed.
Earlier this month, attorneys from the Center for Reproductive Rights sued on behalf of Larry A. Burns, a physician with over 41 years of experience providing abortion care in Norman, Oklahoma. Burns, one of three abortion providers in the state, has been unable to obtain privileges at any of the 16 qualifying hospitals within 30 miles of his office, with many hospitals even refusing to process his application, according to the complaint.
The order, just over three pages long, relied on Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, the Fifth Circuit decision upholding Texas’ admitting privileges requirement in HB 2, to tersely dismiss Burns’ challenge.
The court scolded Burns for what it saw as failing to try and obtain admitting privileges, noting he waited 77 days after the law took effect to apply. “If he has not heard back from all of the places to which he has applied, it is his own fault and there is no violation of due process,” the court wrote.
“Of the 16 hospitals from which Plaintiff sought admitting privileges, 12 have already denied his request. He has gotten responses, but just not the ones he wants.”
Saying only that Burns was unlikely to succeed on the merits, the court dismissed the the plaintiff’s claim that SB 1848 violates the state constitution’s “single subject” rule, which requires laws passed in the state to deal with one discreet issue. SB 1848 deals with six distinct provisions that have no common theme or purpose, according to the complaint.
The court also found that Burns had no standing to challenge SB 1848 on behalf of his patients, which means that if the court’s ruling stands, Oklahoma patients will have to, on their own, challenge the law as unduly burdening their abortion rights.
“This copycat clinic shutdown law would put Oklahoma among the ranks of several states in the region that have endangered women’s health and safety by eliminating critical services for those who have made the decision to end a pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights in a statement following the decision.
“We will take every legal step necessary to ensure this law never takes effect, and now look to the Oklahoma Supreme Court to step in and immediately protect women’s rights and access to safe, legal abortion,” she said, indicating that the group plans to file an emergency appeal with the state supreme court.
Reproductive rights advocates are fighting a wave of admitting privileges restrictions in courts across the country, including two challenges to Texas’ admitting privileges requirement, which while in effect has forced clinic closures across the state. Federal courts have blocked similar laws in Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
The post Oklahoma Court Refuses to Block Admitting Privileges Requirement appeared first on RH Reality Check.
This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.
New Evidence Puts Closer Timestamp on Human-Neanderthal Mating
Scientists have long known that modern humans and Neanderthals had some prehistoric trysts because we share genetic material. Now, a 45,000-year-old thigh bone is giving them more information about exactly when those genes may have crossed over.
In 2008, an ivory carver found the thigh bone in question on the banks of the Irtysh River near Ust’-Ishim, Russia in 2008. Since then, an international team of scientists has determined that it was the femur of a man who lived 45,000 years ago. They then mapped the DNA of that man, and found that he had about 2.3 percent Neanderthal genes; modern people of Eurasian descent have from 1.6 to 2.1 percent. The scientists used this mutation rate to work backward in time and estimated that Neanderthals and humans started swapping genes somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. Their results are published in a recent issue of the journal Nature.
Though a 10,000-year “give or take” may seem huge, it is much more precise than previous estimates, which placed the swap somewhere between 37,000 and 86,000 years ago.
Some scientists caution, however, that pinpointing a date may just add to the confusion. John Hawks, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, told National Geographic that the paper was convincing, but that it is “almost certainly is an oversimplification.”
Hawks continued, “The contacts [between Neanderthals and humans] could have extended over a longer period.” On that point, the authors of the new study seem to agree. Their paper suggests that Neanderthal and humans met again more recently elsewhere in the world, possibly explaining why today’s East Asians have a higher percentage of Neanderthal genes than other modern humans.
Virtual “Autopsy” Says King Tut’s Parents Likely Brother and Sister
In other anthropologic news, an international team of researchers conducted a “virtual autopsy” of King Tutankhamun for an upcoming BBC documentary. They created a life-size image of the ancient Egyptian king using over 2,000 CT scans of his mummified remains. The results reinforce suspected information about King Tut’s parentage and cast doubt on the theory that he died in a chariot crash.
King Tut was born in 1341 B.C. and assumed the throne at the age of 9 or 10. He is believed to have died around the age of 18. He has been a household name since his nearly intact tomb was discovered in 1922, sparking international interest in Ancient Egypt.
This most recent examination of his remains includes suggestions that he had a club foot. This finding likely eliminates the popular possibility that King Tut died in a chariot crash, which had originally been suggested in part because his mummy had an unhealed knee fracture. Gayle Gibson, an Egyptologist who appears in the documentary, told the Huffington Post that his foot would have meant he walked with a cane and likely prevented him from participating in chariot races at all.
A genetic analysis conducted alongside the “virtual autopsy” also reinforces previous suggestions that his parents were brother and sister. Given that consanguinity increases the chance of inherited genetic disorders, this could have also contributed to a heightened likelihood of fractures, or possibly caused King Tut’s early death.
Male Birds Poison Themselves to Be More Appealing to the Ladies
Moving from anthropology to ornithology, another recent article in National Geographic notes that, for the first time, male birds have been found poisoning themselves as a way to look more attractive to potential mates. The article focuses on the Great Bustard, a large bird native to parts of Europe and Asia.
The mating ritual of the Great Bustard is complicated—and, truthfully, just a little gross. During mating season, National Geographic explains, the males “congregate on a patch of ground called a lek and take turns trying to woo females. They contort their bodies to reveal bright white feathers on their chest and rump and suck air into a special throat sac to inflate two bare patches of skin on the neck.”
The point of this, however, is not to show their feathers or their neck; it’s to reveal their cloaca, a single hole that serves reproductive, urinary, and fecal functions for birds. Given its many uses—and the fact that it can be an indicator for disease—it shouldn’t be surprising that female birds want to inspect it carefully before they commit. And they don’t just look at it, they peck at it.
If the male Great Bustard wants to get some, he’s going to have a nice, clean cloaca. Though a bird bath (or a birdie bidet) might do, he instead eats some extra poison. Great Bustards of both sexes eat blister beetles, a bug that contains a toxin called cantharidin. Too many blister beetles will kill them, but just enough will clean out male birds’ intestines and make them appealing to females. An experiment at the National Museum of Natural History in Spain confirmed that males preferred blister beetles to other prey, and that when they chose a beetle for dinner, bigger was better. This was not true of females.
Before any of us attempts to woo a suitor by eating poison (or beetles, for that matter), we should note that the findings are preliminary. Scientists can’t yet prove that this behavior gives the birds any advantage during mating season.
In October, our lives become awash in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We buy ribbons; we buy t-shirts; we buy bumper stickers. We race for the cure. We stand behind our loved ones battling the disease. We hear countless stories of women who have bravely taken the journey. But there is one population we hardly ever mention: those with breast cancer behind bars.
I was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer on Valentine’s Day, 2002, a date I’ll never forget. I had six rounds of chemotherapy before going to jail in Maricopa County, Arizona. As an everyday patient with cancer, the world is nice to you: Friends rally around you, your doctors are concerned and compassionate, and strangers have words of kindness when they see your head newly bald from chemo. But as an inmate with cancer, all that changes.
I had been in jail for two and a half months when I learned that my breast cancer would necessitate a mastectomy. I would have to undergo the stress of transport and the pain of surgery, followed by more rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. And I would have to do it alone: no pink pillows, no encouraging cards, no special foods. No comfort, period.
Imagine the feeling of shackles on your ankles, restricting your movements to baby steps. Even when you are very careful, you wind up with blisters from the weight of the hard, cold steel dragging you down. Now imagine handcuffs. They, too, are designed to restrict. They can chafe and cut, especially if the guard who cuffs you is having a bad day. He can clamp them on too tightly, and his bad day becomes yours.
It’s 2 a.m., and the dirty cream halls of the jail are bustling with the clang and clash of guards dragging chains behind them, attaching shackles and handcuffs to 50 female inmates to prepare us for the outside world. But unlike everyone else standing restlessly against the wall, I’m not going to court or trial. I’m going the hospital to have my breast cut off.
I’ve had the poison. Now it’s the slashing. Then it will be the burning. That’s what some in the community call chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation: poison, slash, burn.
One by one, the other inmates are hustled out for their ride to the courthouse. Finally, when everyone else has left, I hear my name: “Allen! Move it out!” Followed by the armed guards, I shuffle out to the jail van, jangling as I go. The backs of those vans are not designed for safety: Although there is a plastic bench to sit on, there are no seat belts, and I lurch each time we turn a corner. I cannot balance because my hands and feet are cuffed and shackled, so sometimes I crash to the floor.
After 20 minutes or so, we arrive at the hospital. Already bruised and shaken, I shuffle into another holding cell, exhausted, and wait several more hours in solitude. And I’m afraid too: Afraid of losing my breast, afraid of having surgery, and afraid of returning to the jail, with its hostile guards and indifferent medical staff.
At last, I’m escorted to the operating room. There, one of the guards removes my cuffs and throws a gown at me. Still shackled, I climb up on the table, where nurses begin the very painful search for my small veins. As I begin to go under, the shackles are finally removed from my ankles. The guards will stay in the corner to watch as my breast comes off.
Five hours later, I wake up in the jail ward of the hospital, a single corridor with gates at each end. I am bandaged and sore, but I’m alive. On this particular journey, I am not touched, except by the surgeons with their knives and the nurses with their needles. During my five days of recovery, I ask for a pastor or a priest, but no one comes.
When I finally return to the jail, though, the women there surround me with love. In addition to my breast, I’ve lost 28 lymph nodes. Back at the hospital, the surgeon told me that I need a pillow to cushion my arm and provide protection for the healing area. But there are no pillows allowed in jail.
I tell the other inmates, and they’re silent. I know they feel helpless; so do I. A few hours later, though, four young women enter my cell with an order.
“Close your eyes, Sue Ellen,” says one, “And hold out your hands.”
They’ve woven together their precious jail-provided supplies of Kotex into a pillow, even fringing the ends to give it that “designer” look—all so I would have one small source of comfort and love. It is 19 days before the medical department sees me to clean up my incision, take out the stitches, and look for infection. During that time, the other inmates share their crackers, juice, and commissary soda with me, trying to make me feel some semblance of relief as I recover.
This solace from my fellow inmates, however, was the only sympathy I ever received as I underwent treatment. I was never given any information about the medical care I needed, or what to expect from my chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. Except for a few isolated instances of kindness, institutional employees rarely showed me anything but contempt as I suffered the side effects from the disease and my treatment.
Once, soon after my surgery, one guard cuffed me very tightly. I said, “I just had a mastectomy. You could be gentle.”
His response was, “I am being gentle: You aren’t lying on the ground, bleeding.”
Still, I was lucky. I was diagnosed with the disease before going “inside”; I had my medical records on hand; and I had done some research on questions to ask my doctors and ideal strategies for rehabilitation. For example, one thing I remembered from my reading was that I must exercise my arm, or the muscles would atrophy. I used the cinder block walls as my ruler to see how far I could “crawl” each day. No one on the medical staff ever told me to do that. If I hadn’t investigated beforehand, I would likely be unable to use my arm now.
Other women experiencing breast cancer behind bars, though, often have no such source of background knowledge. Some are denied the quality medical treatment they need for far too long, or never given it at all. These women fight bravely through pain, fear, exhaustion, and isolation. Many die.
Some people might think that these women “deserve it” for committing crimes, but I don’t think anyone deserves that kind of horrific treatment. It is devastating and demeaning; it robs us of our humanity and our hope. And it is reinforced and perpetuated by institutional policies that effectively promote a culture of apathy and disgust among officials toward inmates.
Battling breast cancer is a dreadful experience inside a jail or out of it, but there are many ways to stage the fight. It’s one thing for Robin Roberts, Christina Applegate, Cynthia Nixon, or Sheryl Crow to face cancer. They have the very best doctors, loving families, and loyal friends. The press and their fans regard them as heroes.
I wonder how they would handle the isolation that inmates deal with: the lack of information, attention, and care.
Women behind bars are mothers, wives, and daughters; many have been incarcerated for addiction or nonviolent crimes. While those with cancer should be healing, they are worn out fighting for treatment—constantly reminded that nobody cares, nobody cares, nobody cares.
In 2014, the American Cancer Society estimates, about 232,570 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer; nearly 40,000 will die of it. Everyone who battles this illness is a hero, including those in jails and prisons. It is harder than you can ever imagine. I am free now, and miraculously still alive, but there are thousands I’ve left behind, alone and afraid with their disease.