Oklahoma can’t catch a break lately. Between several tornadoes and flash floods, it seems like every community has been affected by the awesome power of severe weather this past month. I’m heartbroken to hear my own family and their friends and neighbors have to rebuild their lives completely after losing their homes and clothes and personal belongings. My aunt had to wear pajama pants for three days after losing her home in the May 20th tornado, but the cowboy hat signed by my cousin’s favorite country music artists survived, completely unscathed.
We’re sure to hear a lot of amazing stories about the cleanup and recovery, how the local governments and the state might address public shelter needs in the future, weather tracking and trends, etc. But what I haven’t heard nearly enough of is how natural disasters like these put the most vulnerable members of our communities in even greater danger, and how the dynamics of natural disasters are most harmful to groups like women and undocumented people.
Circle of Health International is working in Oklahoma to extend resources and assistance to women who experience violence and abuse at the hands of male partners, of whom many were likely abused before, during, and in the aftermath of the tornadoes that hit the metro last month. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, reports of intimate partner sharply increase in the wake of natural disasters. Women who suffer abuse in addition to surviving disasters also report higher incidence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and post-disaster major depression. The link here between natural disasters and violence and mental health means that reuniting with family might be the opposite goal for people trying to flee an abusive home or relationship.
Undocumented families also suffer unique impacts after natural disasters. For folks who might not be homeowners but renters (which include many folks without economic resources), tornado shelter and insurance might be unavailable, inaccessible, or prohibitively expensive, leaving many without preventive measures before a natural disaster strikes. Undocumented families are also unable to access federal aid through FEMA and thus are left with very few institutional options to rebuild their lives after losing everything. Undocumented folks might also fear deportation and legal action when interacting with government officials, and as a result be wary of pursuing state assistance. In Oklahoma, the First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City is specifically taking donations to distribute to undocumented folks who can’t access federal and state assistance – if you’re in a position to donate money or time, perhaps doing so for either of these groups would impact folks who suffer most in both disaster and non-disaster contexts.
Attention to these dynamics is how reproductive justice as a framework can appropriately alter public crisis response. I certainly hope folks who read OK4RJ will raise these issues as they talk about recovery and future planning for natural disasters. We can’t leave Tornado Alley, but we can certainly take steps to deal with reproductive oppression before and after tornadoes strike.
Jen is not living in Oklahoma right now, but everyone knows where their heart is – on their sleeve, on some acreage on SW 83rd.
Residents of North Dakota are getting a lesson in just how expensive it is to defend an unconstitutional abortion ban. According to reports, the state has spent more than $52,000 defending the state’s 2011 medication abortion ban, and the state attorney general’s office is expect to ask the state’s Emergency Commission for an initial $30,000 this week to begin covering the costs.
According to reports, North Dakota lawmakers have set aside approximately $400,000 in all to defend against any legal challenges that spring up from a host of new restrictions passed this year, including the state’s fetal heartbeat ban, which could ban abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Other restrictions passed this year include a law banning abortions sought because of a genetic defect and a targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) provision that requires doctors who perform abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges. North Dakota also passed a so-called fetal pain ban that criminalizes abortions after 20 weeks. Each restriction is set to take effect August 1.
A judge has already temporarily blocked the state’s medication abortion ban, calling the law “simply wrongheaded” and preventing it from taking effect August 1. A written opinion detailing the injunction is expected later this month, but lawyers for the state have promised an appeal.
The legal expenses defending these laws represent a fraction of the state’s budget surplus, which has accumulated thanks to a boom in oil exploration and development in the state. Among the expenses associated with defending the law is a bill for more than $49,000 for Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who testified in April as an expert witness for the state in the trial challenging the law.
The expenses are likely just a taste of the legal bills to come now that anti-choice activists have decided North Dakota is the newest staging ground for the battle to overturn Roe v. Wade. Given that lawmakers have already spent $52,000 without even making it to the appeals stage, it seems likely that they may go over $400,000 when all is said and done.
The post North Dakota Accrues Steep Legal Fees Defending Medication Abortion Ban appeared first on RH Reality Check.
The following article based on a presentation by Alice Welbourn at the Women Deliver Conference, which took place earlier this month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I was recently invited to take part in a panel discussion at the Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the theme of which was “More than mothers: upholding the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women in the Global Plan.”
The plan in question is the “Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections in Children and Keeping their Mothers Alive,” about which I have co-written before. Since maternal mortality among women living with HIV is still so very high, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, it is critical that we have a Global Plan which works for women as well as for their children.
According to UNAIDS, over 40 percent of maternal deaths in some hyper-endemic countries are attributable to AIDS-related illnesses. Despite these extraordinary figures, sessions on HIV and AIDS still play a rather minor role in this conferences, and this was reflected by a rather sparsely populated hall for this session, despite the presence of such great advocates for women’s rights as politician and lawyer, Dame Carol Kidu of Papua New Guinea, UNAIDS Ambassador Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Sia Nyama Koroma, the First Lady of Sierra Leone (who is also an organic chemist and psychiatric nurse), and Helena Nangombe a dynamic young AIDS activist from Namibia, one of the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders.
During the panel, Jan Beagle put this question to me: “Alice, we have seen significant progress through the Global Plan but we know we need to do more. Can you tell us what you consider has worked and what needs to be improved, to ensure that the HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls are adequately addressed?
This is what I replied:
What has worked is a scientific revolution. It is fantastic that the science is there now for anti-retroviral medication (ARVs) to support women with HIV to fulfill our sexual and reproductive rights, including the right to motherhood, if we wish. When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1992, when I was expecting a baby, it was feared that I might die, because ARVs didn’t exist in those days and it was also feared that the baby would die. So I was advised to have an abortion. Many women of my generation with HIV had no children at all. So it is wonderful now to see younger women with HIV able to fulfill their dreams of motherhood, since with ARVs it is now possible to have 99 percent HIV-free births, even with a normal vaginal delivery. So this is a brilliant breakthrough and huge cause for celebration for us all.
In terms of what could be improved, I would like to focus on three areas today, namely language, care and support and safety.
Firstly, language matters. Just reflect – please read out the following words to yourself aloud: “blame, stigma, fear, prevention, violence, discrimination, sickness, death.” How did that feel? We are learning from neuroscientists now that very negative language increases cortisol levels in our bodies, which in turn make us feel stressed. We are also learning from neuroscientists that if we use positive language this increases levels of oxytocin and serotonin in our bodies, which both make us feel happier and more positive in outlook. From this springs feelings and thoughts of hope, opportunities and possibilities, which we can harness to “think outside the box” and create new ways of addressing old challenges.
So what has this got to do with the Global Plan? Well the Global Plan is made up of four “prongs”, about more of which below. I am afraid the very word “prongs” rather makes me squirm. It feels invasive, sharp, attacking, threatening, and reminds me of pitchforks and damnation, abortions gone wrong or impalement.
Presumably because they also preferred more positive language, Anandi Yuvaraj and Aditi Sharma, the authors of an inspiring report from India last year, presented the Global Plan using the idea of four pillars instead of four prongs. To me the word pillars immediately invites an image of something strong, uplifting, bigger than us all, building up the best in us all, in all our societies worldwide.
So how does this shift of language play out in practice? Well the Indian report authors shifted the whole language of the Global Plan as follows. Instead of Prong 1 (which covers “preventing HIV among women of reproductive age”) the proposed “Pillar One: My Health.” Rather than Prong 2 (“Meeting unmet Family Planning needs of women with HIV”) they proposed “Pillar Two: My Choice.” They replaced Prong 3 (“Preventing HIV transmission to Infants”) with “Pillar Three: My Child.” And instead of Prong 4 (“Treatment, care and support for women and families”) they proposed Pillar Four: “My Life.”
Can you hear the difference? If not, just read that last paragraph out loud to yourself. If you were a woman living with HIV, which would you rather hear?
There is a complete about-turn shift from negative prongs, prevention and needs to positive, women-focused pillars and possibilities. Wow. And these possibilities are now open to us all.
So how do we weave care and support and safety into all this?
Well as I have explained previously with other co-authors, there is no mention of the words “voluntary,” confidential,” or “informed consent” in the Global Plan, which has now been adopted by quite a few states around the world. Sadly, care, support and safety are hugely wanting, both from the Global Plan and from peri-natal services for women in general, as well as for women with HIV around the world. Yet these ingredients are also paramount in an effective response to infant and maternal mortality, with or without HIV.
So to expand on Pillar One, instead of the existing language above, we could seek to ensure informed choice and access to condoms, needle exchange program and negotiation skills training for all women and girls, including girls born with HIV, who often feel very excluded by this “prevention” language.
We could describe Pillar Two as “access for all women and girls to dual protection (i.e. from unplanned pregnancy and from transmission of sexually transmitted infections, through, for instance, use of a condom and the contraceptive pill) that is judgment-free, youth- and women-centered.” In Asia now our colleagues tell us that many women with HIV are just being told by health staff to use condoms, since they shouldn’t be having sex anyway, in their view, and certainly shouldn’t be thinking of having children. Just imagine the power of a replacement “pillar” like this to counteract that message.
Pillar Three could be to “support all women with HIV in our deep commitments to keep our children HIV-free.” What a transformation that would be.
And Pillar Four could be “ensure care, support, love, respect, food, shelter and treatment (when we need it and not before) for all women with HIV and for our families. Louise Binder has written eloquently previously about our concerns regarding the “treatment as prevention” movement.
As an aside, there is also on-going and increasing concern out there about the “Option B+” roll-out, which puts all women in a country when pregnant on ARVs for life, whether they actually need them yet for themselves or not and whether they want them or are ready to start them or not. The “option” bit is only for each government to decide, there is no real option for women at all. It’s a bit of a post-code lottery writ large. We hear of some women throwing their package of ARVs away as soon as they have passed through the health centre gates en route home – for them the idea of being found with ARVs is too terrifying for them to contemplate and outweighs any possible good the medication might do.
I’m all in favor of options for women when they are real options, but not when they are just wrapping up lack of choice in something pretty. Policy makers and practitioners: please mind your language.
WHO tells us that gender-based violence (GBV) occurs during pregnancy worldwide – especially in circumstances where the pregnancy is unplanned. Add HIV into this mix and it is like throwing a match into dry grass. We have a potential conflagration of physical, sexual, and psychological violence. We know already that GBV increases women’s vulnerability to HIV. It is also clear that an HIV diagnosis can provoke or exacerbate GBV globally.
Therefore “safety, safety, safety” must be our mantra, at home, in the workplace, and in health care settings. It is vital to turn the tide on the “cascade effect” of women dropping away from health services during pregnancy or after child-birth, once they have been diagnosed, because of their fear of this diagnosis and their terror of what it will bring to themselves and their children. Safety, safety, safety is the mantra. Maybe then we could start to avoid the awful tragedy of so many women dying through AIDS-related issues connected to maternity. Then we could truly have a really powerful and effective Global Plan.
The post The Pillars and Possibilities of a Global Plan to Address HIV in Women and Their Children appeared first on RH Reality Check.
A misreading of the verdict in a strange and upsetting Texas case has gone viral, since Gawker claimed: “Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You.” Texas law does not say that, and the jury didn’t say that either. Pushing the idea that an “Insane Texas Law Made it Legal for a Man to Kill a Prostitute” is irresponsible; it misinforms the public and sends a terrible message to violent misogynists.
It is not in dispute that the defendant, Ezekiel Gilbert, paid the victim, Lenora Frago, $150 for 30 minutes of escort services advertised on Craigslist. After Frago refused to have sex with him, the defendant shot her. Frago was paralyzed and the defendant was charged with aggravated assault. When she died seven months later Gilbert was indicted for murder instead.
At trial, defense attorneys made the shocking argument that Gilbert was justified in shooting Frago because she had stolen from him and Texas law permits the use of deadly force to defend one’s property at night. That a defense was raised in this case based on Texas’ awful defense of property law is certainly newsworthy and even more reason to reform that law. But there is no evidence that the jury acquitted based on the defense of property law in the first place.
The much more plausible reason for the verdict is that the jury believed the defendant’s claim that he didn’t intend to shoot the victim. Per Texas’ homicide statute, the prosecution needed to prove that Gilbert “intentionally or knowingly” killed Frago or intended to cause her “serious bodily injury.” The defense argued that Gilbert lacked the requisite intent for murder because when he shot at the car as Frago and the owner of the escort service drove away, he was aiming for the tire. The bullet hit the tire and a fragment, “literally the size of your fingernail,” according to Defense Attorney Bobby Barrera, hit Frago. Barrera does not believe the jury acquitted because of the defense of property law. He believes they acquitted because they believed Gilbert didn’t mean to shoot her.
Unless someone has interviewed a juror or can read minds, they cannot claim the jury agreed the killing was justified. And the juries do not “cite” laws. They find facts and decide “guilty” or “not guilty.” And it isn’t accurate to call Frago a “prostitute.” Witnesses for the prosecution testified she was an escort who never agreed to have sex. Rather than siding with the killer’s characterization, writers should at least say “alleged.”
One would expect the jury to find that shooting at a car with an AK-47 is at least “reckless,” in which case he could have been convicted of manslaughter. But the prosecution didn’t charge him with manslaughter, only murder. Manslaughter is a “lesser included offense” of murder and the judge is entitled to instruct the jury if the evidence supports that charge, but it appears she did not. The jury can’t convict on a charge that isn’t before them.
I think Texas’s defense of property law is abhorrent and my gut reaction was that it was a reprehensible defense. This reaction suggests, that you should think twice before hiring me as your defense attorney, sadly. As Professor Michael W. Martin of Fordham Law’s Federal Litigation Clinic reminded me: “If the law allows the defense, the lawyer must use it, if it is viable, unless there is a good strategic reason not to. Otherwise, it is ineffective assistance of counsel. If the lawyer feels like he is ethically barred from using a legal, viable defense, he should ask to be relieved.”
This story looks very different depending on whether you are looking at the law or at the reporting. Remember reporting? People used to get paid to go find facts and tell the public about them. That happens a lot less now. With many commentators and too few reporters, an alarmist story can have a long life in the echo chamber. But there are still some reporters, and a number of them, though probably stretched pretty thin, have engaged in that old-fashioned practice of going to court, making phone calls, interviewing people and checking facts for this very case. The San Antonio Express did not just start covering this case last week, that’s where to start if you want to follow this story as it develops.
This is a terrible story, a woman was killed and no one is going to prison. It is reasonable to be suspicious that prejudice based on her gender, race, or occupation led to that injustice. But all we know thus far is that the defendant received due process and a zealous defense. We don’t know that Texas’s terrible defense of property law had anything to do with him getting off. The vilification of this jury isn’t justified—we should give them the benefit of the doubt that they spent those 11 hours deliberating in good faith and did what they thought the law required. And in our concern for women and victims of violence, we must remember that even admitted killers still have rights.
The post No, Texas Law Does Not Say You Can Shoot an Escort Who Refuses to Have Sex appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Sexual Health Roundup is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.
Michael Douglas Backtracks on Claim That Cunnilingus Caused His Cancer
Michael Douglas made headlines last Monday after seeming to suggest to a reporter at The Guardian that he blamed the human papillomavirus (HPV)—not drinking or smoking—for his throat cancer diagnosis. As Douglas mentioned in that interview, HPV can be transmitted through oral sex. At the time, I suggested that Douglas’ announcement was probably good for public health as he was, purposely or not, raising awareness of HPV, the resulting health problems (which include cervical cancer and cancers of the head and neck), and the availability of a vaccine.
Since then, Douglas has issued two statements backtracking from his initial comments. First, his publicist clarified that “Michael did not say cunnilingus was the cause of his cancer. He certainly discussed oral sex in the article, and oral sex is a suspected cause of certain oral cancers, as the doctors in the article did point out. But he did not say this was the specific cause of his personal cancer.”
It is probably more accurate to say that the precise cause of his cancer is not known or that it was, in fact, caused by a number of factors, HPV being one of them. As Kent Sepkowicz noted in a piece for the Daily Beast, the epidemiology of cancer is complicated, and a straight cause-and-effect relationship is hard to pin down.
Then, on ABC’s The View, Douglas’ friend Barbara Walters said, “The feeling was that perhaps he was blaming his wife for giving him the HPV virus. Michael would like everyone to know that his wife, Catherine [Zeta-Jones], is healthy. She does not have the HPV virus. He doesn’t know how he got cancer. … He does not want anyone to think it was from Catherine. … He is happy it is raising awareness about HPV.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 79 million people in the United States have HPV, and 14 million contract it each year. In fact, the CDC estimates that 50 percent of sexually active individuals will contract HPV at some point in their lives. That Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones felt the need to clarify that she’s part of the other 50 percent illustrates the stigma HPV and other sexually transmitted infections continue to carry.
Parents in China Want More Sex Education
A recent survey of 1,200 Chinese parents of children ages 6 to 14, conducted by the Beijing News and the Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center, found that parents in China overwhelmingly support sex education in schools, but few schools are providing it.
The survey comes after research suggest that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise in China and that 13 million unintended pregnancies end in abortion in that country each year. While the government still keeps close tabs on fertility and enforces a one-child policy (though there are now some exceptions), it apparently does not teach young people how to prevent pregnancy. Moreover, a recent spate of child molestations near Beijing has made the lack of sex education more worrisome.
The majority of parents in the survey (68 percent) said they have discussed some aspects of sex with their child, but only 38 percent had discussed inappropriate sexual advances and what to do about them. Parents say the schools are not currently educating children about sex at all; only 8.3 percent of parents surveyed were sure that their child had received sex education in school. A much larger percentage (43.5 percent) knew there were no such classes at their child’s school.
Parents in China would like this to change; 90 percent of those surveyed said they support school-based education about birth control and sexual abuse.
Children of Same-Sex Couple Are Doing Just Fine (in Australia)
Initial findings from an Australian study of families shows that there are no statistical differences between children of same-sex couples and children in other types of families when it comes to measures of self-esteem, emotional behavior, or the amount of time spent with parents. Children of same-sex couples, however, scored better on measures of overall health and family cohesion (how well the family gets along). The study’s lead researcher believes that same-sex couples are aware of the teasing or bullying their children might face and develop open communication to deal with it, which in turn creates better family cohesion.
Australia’s parliament was set to vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage this week but the vote has been postponed to allow more time for debate.
Durex Social Media Campaign Goes Awry
The condom maker took to Facebook to launch a new public relations campaign called SOS Condoms, which was designed to send condoms via rush delivery to couples who are on the verge of having sex but are unprepared. The company asked its Facebook fans to vote on which city should receive this service. Unfortunately, it did not make this a multiple choice question. Internet pranksters hijacked the vote and decided to send the condom service to Batman, a conservative Muslim province in Turkey that shares the name with the caped crusader.
Had Paris, London, or New York City won, we might be seeing online ads for the SOS Condom service right now, but instead the company has decided to abandon the campaign. A Durex spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the service won’t be offered in Batman or anywhere else and that the company’s social media efforts are moving “on to a new sphere.”
Think that anti-choice politicians and activists aren’t trying to outlaw contraception? Think again. Follow along in an ongoing series that proves beyond a doubt that they really are coming for your birth control.
The murder trial of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell has been cited as the rationale behind a number of anti-choice bills, ranging from bills meant to close abortion clinics to those that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. Now one Catholic bishop in Nebraska has suggested that the Gosnell case shows that society needs to ban contraception.
Arguing that the Gosnell case is a result of what the church refers to as society’s “contraceptive mentality,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln writes:
[T]he link between infanticide and abortion is not the only issue raised by this case. There is also the larger question of how human life is regarded, in a culture where contraception is widespread and abortion becomes “backup birth control.” …
The Gosnell case suggests that our society’s view of human life is deeply wrong. It suggests that a culture of contraception cannot avoid becoming a “culture of death”—in which some lives are seen not as gifts, but as burdens.
The piece does not represent Bishop Conley’s first attack on contraception. He has been one of the more outspoken opponents of the Affordable Care Act mandate to include no co-pay birth control coverage in employee insurance plans. “The Catholic Church is not going to back down,” Conley said in November. “We are never going to compromise our principles. We will defy it and face the consequences.”
Conley’s opposition to contraception appears to stem from the belief that by trying to control one’s own life, a person rejects God’s all-powerfulness. As he said in 2008, “The reality is that we belong to God. … If we are under the illusion that we are in total and absolute control of human life, when it begins and when it ends, and we think that ‘this is my life, my body, my choice,’ then there is an organic progression to abortion, euthanasia, acceptance of homosexual acts, pornography, embryonic destructive research, divorce, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse of women and a host of other social ills and moral evils.”
Now, Bishop Conley argues that a doctor who endangered women with limited options for safely ending unwanted pregnancies should be used as the impetus to block access to birth control that would help women avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
As he writes in the last line of his recent piece, “That is why we must raise awareness of this case, to help the world see the consequences of contraception and abortion.”
The post They Are Coming For Your Birth Control: Contraception Gave Us Gosnell appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced Friday that it will restore access to medication abortion services at three clinics in Milwaukee, Madison, and Appleton.
The announcement followed an injunction ordered by the Dane County Circuit Court in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood; it claimed 2011′s Wisconsin Act 217, which imposed new statutory requirements on providers of nonsurgical abortions, was unconstitutionally vague because it was unclear how providers were to comply. Planned Parenthood had originally challenged the law in federal court, but after a judge refused to approve a settlement agreement between Planned Parenthood and the state over how to interpret Act 217 that lawsuit was dismissed and a new one brought in state court.
Under the terms of the injunction, the judge clarified the compliance provisions of the law enough to satisfy Planned Parenthood’s concerns and resume providing medication abortion services to women without fear of prosecution. “Planned Parenthood is pleased to announce the restoration of woman’s access to safe and legal nonsurgical abortion services at Planned Parenthood,” Teri Huyck, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said in a statement. “This is a significant step in the right direction recognizing that medical professionals should be trusted to determine the safest and best medical care for their patients. We are heartened that the ability of women and their doctors to decide which medical procedure is best for them has been restored for now as the court works to resolve the case.”
While returning nonsurgical abortion to Planned Parenthood clinics is a win for reproductive access in Wisconsin, the process of actually getting a nonsurgical abortion in the state remains burdensome and complicated. Those seeking nonsurgical abortion in Wisconsin can only access services after meeting a state-mandated examination and counseling session with a physician and satisfying the state-mandated 24-hour waiting period. Nonsurgical abortion using medication is a safe and noninvasive abortion method only available to women within the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
The injunction will remain in place while a trial on the merits of the law moves forward.
Image: plannedparenthood / YouTube
The post Nonsurgical Abortion Access to Return to Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Today is the 48th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court case that first identified the constitutional right to privacy and defeated a law that barred the use of birth control.
This ruling was monumental because it struck down a barrier that blocked women from controlling their futures. It gave them the power to choose whether and when to start and family.
Access to birth control is essential for millions of women and their families. Not only does birth control prevent unplanned pregnancy, it allows women to take better care of themselves and their families, support themselves financially, and advance their educational and career goals.
Studies show that using birth control is highly effective in reducing unintended pregnancies, and therefore the need for abortion care. Improving access to birth control is truly a win for everyone.
That's why we're so excited about the no-cost birth control policy under Obamacare, and the recent ruling that made some emergency contraception available over the counter without age restrictions for all women!
Ohio senators successfully passed a two-year budget Thursday filled with anti-choice amendments that could severely restrict access to birth control, accurate medical information, and safe abortion care. Attempts by pro-choice senators to strip some of the most extreme measures from the budget were unsuccessful, and the final version of the budget passed 23-10.
During last year’s state budget negotiations, the Ohio legislature attempted to remove financial support from the state’s Planned Parenthood affiliates, but they dropped that effort amid public outcry. This year, however, emboldened by redistricting and secure in new, gerrymandered seats, many state politicians have chosen to go a step further, not only attempting to defund Planned Parenthood but also providing public funds to deceptive crisis pregnancy centers and creating more restrictions on agreements between hospitals and clinics that offer abortions to ultimately force multiple clinics to close.
By adding amendments into the state budget, the anti-choice majority in the house and senate has turned the bill into an anti-choice omnibus bill. The state measure to defund Planned Parenthood could leave as many as 11 counties in Ohio without access to subsidized family planning services, according to Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. The budget would use funds set aside for supporting low-income families via the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and give it to non-medical crisis pregnancy centers, known for their deceptive anti-choice tactics.
The state would also put in place unprecedented new restrictions on clinics that provides abortions. An amendment added to the budget would forbid any transfer agreements between public hospitals and abortion clinics, severely limiting the options for clinics seeking to operate legally in the state. The proposal, which was written in direct reaction to an ongoing issue with two Toledo abortion clinics trying to obtain new transfer agreements to comply with current state requirements, would make it nearly impossible for many clinics to operate by eliminating many hospitals from the pool of potential facilities. Without public hospitals as an option, clinics would only be able to request agreements from private hospitals, which are likely to refuse them, either because of religious affiliation or disinterest in opening themselves up to controversy for an agreement that is unlikely to have any financial gains for for-profit hospitals.
The transfer agreement amendment would also allow transfer agreements to be more easily canceled by the state health department, and would make it more difficult for a clinic to get a variance if it cannot meet the requirements. The law already requires that clinics be supported by two doctors to be considered for a variance; with the new provision in place neither of those doctors would be allowed to have any affiliation with a public hospital.
Democrats in the state senate made a concerted effort to remove the amendments meant to restrict access to birth control, abortion, and other reproductive health-care needs, especially for low-income women, but their efforts failed in the face of the anti-choice majority. “Some folks in the General Assembly are out on a witch hunt vendetta against Planned Parenthood,” state Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “A memo to all the women of the state of Ohio, especially if you are poor: Father knows best. Women know nothing, but father knows best.”
The senate and house will now send their bills to committee to negotiate any discrepancies between the two versions; all anti-choice language is expected to remain intact. The final version will be re-approved by both chambers, and sent to the desk of Republican Gov. John Kasich, who can either sign the full bill, or veto out individual line items that he does not believe should be made law.
The post Ohio Senate Passes Budget Loaded With Anti-Choice Amendments appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Monday evening, Physicians for Reproductive Health honored two abortion providers, Dr. Eve Espey and Dr. Willie Parker, for their unwavering support of abortion rights at the Rashbaum-Tiller Awards Ceremony.
Eve Espey, MD, MPH is professor of obstetrics and gynecology, associate dean of students, and chief of the Family Planning Division at the University of New Mexico. She has won numerous teaching awards from medical students, including—twice—the Khatali Award for best clinical teacher in the School of Medicine, the highest medical student award at the University of New Mexico.
Dr. Espey received the William K. Rashbaum award Monday for providing outstanding abortion services and for serving as an inspirational leader for colleagues, medical students, and residents. The award was named after William K. Rashbaum a passionate physician who saved many women from botched abortion procedures before legalization and went on to train many providers in safe procedures once abortion was legalized in New York. Dr. Rashbaum died in 2005 at age 79.
In receiving this award Dr. Espey said: “In places like New Mexico, barriers are magnified, hurdles are higher and challenges are more daunting. When I am sitting bruised in my chair in the ring, from threats from Operation Rescue, from opposition in the hospital. … [I’m reminded] there is no more important work than helping women realize their potential through access to reproductive health care.”
The other award of the night went to Willie Parker MD, MPH, MSc, who until recently was medical director of Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington. Parker’s recent work has focused on violence against women, sexual assault, male responsibility in family planning, and women’s reproductive health rights through advocacy and the provision of contraception and abortion services.
Dr. Parker received the George Tiller, MD award, which recognizes a physician early in his or her career who provides abortions while demonstrating leadership and courage, even in the face of adversity. The award was named after Dr. George Tiller an abortion provider, who was killed by an anti-choice terrorist in 2009.
In receiving his award, Dr. Parker said simply, “We who provide abortions do so because our patients need us, and that’s what we are supposed to do: respond to the needs of our patients.”
The event was hosted by actress and women’s rights activist Martha Plimptom. Physicians for Reproductive Health is a doctor-led national advocacy organization that promotes sound reproductive health policies. The organization’s president, Jodi Magee, also spoke.
Image: Star award via Shutterstock
Over the past three years, more than 60 lawsuits have been filed in federal court challenging the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage benefit. These legal challenges are based on a central theme of today’s conservative movement, which argues contraception is immoral, and that the Supreme Court decision preventing states from criminalizing birth control was wrongly decided. That’s where things stand on the 48th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut.
Why now? Why is the right gunning so hard to take down Griswold and gut individuals’ rights to privacy that include keeping the government out of their most intimate decisions? And what has changed legally, to bring this issue to a boil now? As it turns out, the answer has very little to do with contraception and more to do with same-sex marriage. At its core, the legal foundation of personal privacy rights rests in the institution of marriage and family. As older definitions of “traditional families” give way to more expansive realities, including same-sex partnerships, single-parenting, co-parenting, and myriad family arrangements today, conservatives must face a stark legal reality: Without drastically changing the way the courts define issues that once were simply matters of privacy, they will have lost the culture wars. It’s now or never.
The Supreme Court first laid the foundation for an individual right to privacy early in the 20th century in Lochner v. New York, a case that has become synonymous with activist judges looking for any means to support and expand corporate, monied interests. In Lochner the majority relied on the reference to “liberty” in the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause to support striking down a New York state law that restricted the number of hours bakers could work each week. The 14th Amendment states that no person “shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” According to the court majority, the law was an unconstitutional violation of an individual’s privacy rights because the Due Process Clause implicitly guarantees citizens the “fundamental” right to enter into employment arrangements free from state intrusion in this “liberty” interest.
From Lochner, privacy rights more clearly became associated with the home and traditional, patriarchal constructions of family. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925), the court ruled that an Oregon law banning all private education violated the Due Process Clause because it directed how parents may educate their children, infringing upon parents’ fundamental right to rear their children as they see fit. The majority opinion in Pierce lists a series of other privacy rights guaranteed by the Due Process Clause, including “the right of the individual … to marry, establish a home and bring up children … and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”
But it wasn’t until 40 years later, in Griswold, that the Supreme Court turned its attention to whether the Constitution implicitly contains fundamental privacy guarantees that are not dependent on the Due Process Clause. Writing for the majority, Justice William O. Douglas departed from the Lochner line of privacy reasoning and held that a right to privacy exists not because of a specific constitutional provision but rather because it flows from several provisions relating to privacy, to create “penumbras”, or shadows, in which “zones of privacy” exist. Within these zones, the court explained, are other rights, including the right of married couples to determine whether or not to have children.
Two years later the court would again reach the issue of privacy rights in Loving v. Virginia, the famous case that challenged a Virginia law banning interracial marriage. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled the Virginia law violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which guarantees all citizens equal protection under the law and thus prohibits the government from discriminating on the basis of race. The court could have stopped there with its analysis, but it didn’t. Instead, it pushed further, moving beyond the obvious issues of racial discrimination to hold that the right to marry is itself protected by the Constitution. By the end of the 1960s, and with the civil rights and anti-war movements smoldering in the background, the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence showed both a slow acceptance of racial equality and a preference for the traditional construction of marriage and family.
Griswold v. Connecticut may have recognized a right of married couples to use contraception, but it wasn’t until March of 1972 in Eisenstadt v. Baird that the Court recognized a corresponding privacy right to use contraception for individuals. “If the right of privacy means anything,” Justice William Brennan wrote, “it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” The following year, the court famously extended these individual privacy rights even further when, in Roe v. Wade, it established a constitutional right to choose abortion grounded in an individual right to privacy and this legally recognized zone of intimacy that inherently surrounds issues of reproduction but that was no longer immediately anchored in the constructs of traditional marriage.
Court challenges emanating from a growing gay rights movement led to an increasing disconnection between the advancement of individual privacy rights and equality and earlier legal ties to traditional marriage and family. In Bowers v. Hardwick, the court examined a Georgia anti-sodomy statute and considered whether the state’s sodomy ban violated constitutional privacy rights. In a 5-4 ruling, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled it did not. Writing for the majority, Justice Byron White declared that the earlier privacy cases of Griswold and Loving, concerned “family, marriage or procreation.” But, the court reasoned, it would simply go too far to extend privacy rights to “any kind of private sexual conduct between consenting adults.” Furthermore, the court reasoned, while existing privacy protections concerning marriage or child-rearing were “deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition,” the opposite was true of sodomy, which was at one time banned by all states and, at the time of the decision, was still banned by slightly more than half the states.
In a fierce dissent, Justice Blackmun dismissed the majority’s premise that the case ultimately involved a “fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy.” Instead, as Justice Blackmun saw it, what the case actually concerned was the “most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men, namely, the right to be let alone.” More specifically, he argued, the Constitution guarantees each person, regardless of sexual orientation, the liberty to have consensual intimate relations in his or her own home free from government meddling.
Ten years later, an unlikely ally would pick up on Justice Blackmun’s dissent and move the Supreme Court away from a decision that described homosexual sex as “an infamous crime against nature” and into more tolerant territory. In 1996, in Romer v. Evans, the court heard a challenge to an amendment to the Colorado constitution that nullified local anti-discrimination protections for gay and lesbian individuals and prohibited passage of any such anti-discrimination laws in the future. By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court held that the Colorado amendment violated the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection, returning the analytical framework of individual privacy rights back to the 14th Amendment and its origins in Lochner. “A state cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion. In particular, he found, “the [Colorado] amendment imposes a special disability upon [homosexuals],” who are “forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without restraint.”
Today we’re waiting to see what direction the court next takes on privacy rights. Sometime this month the Supreme Court will hand down a decision on the constitutionality of both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8. And with the challenges to contraception coverage and abortion rights, we can expect the court to weigh in on those issues as soon as next term.
On the issue of same-sex marriage the Supreme Court is largely behind the times as a majority of Americans support marriage equality. Meanwhile there are unrelenting attacks on contraception and abortion rights. While it appears that on this issue the court also lags behind a majority of Americans who broadly support access to contraception and abortion care, for some reason the “equality” framing that has helped propel acceptance of same-sex marriage has failed to stick when it comes to reproductive rights legacy of Griswold. That is in part because the Supreme Court has moved the contraception and abortion rights legacy of Griswold away from an idea of equal protection under the law and toward one of personal autonomy, which allows culturally conservative hang-ups around female sexuality to permeate the debate.
It is also in part because conservatives have re-appropriated the liberty argument to make a case for an individual religious liberty right to deny women access to contraception, either in insurance coverage, as pharmacists, or through for-profit employment benefits. They have re-appropriated this liberty argument to also claim a right to deny women access to abortion and comprehensive reproductive health care. The question that we have not yet answered is whether the Roberts court is willing to play along. We’ll likely have that answer next year. And in the meantime, the legacy of Griswold v. Connecticut may end up having very little to do with contraception access and almost everything to do with marriage equality.
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The post Griswold v. Connecticut and the Evolution of Personal Privacy Rights. What’s Next? appeared first on RH Reality Check.
We stand at a unique moment in the evolution of women’s reproductive health programs and in the development of new health technologies for women. The global health community has recognized the need for an integrated approach to women’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) to meet women’s multiple and diverse needs. And 21st-century health programs have embraced the integration of family planning, reproductive health, and HIV services. Now is the time to embrace the development of new health technologies that could provide simultaneous protection for the multiple health risks many women face.
Every year an estimated 87 million women become pregnant when they did not plan or want to.
Every day nearly 500,000 young people, mostly women, contract a curable sexually transmitted infection (STI), placing them at an increased risk for HIV, cervical cancer, and infertility.
Every minute a woman is newly infected with HIV, making it the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age worldwide.
New technologies that could provide simultaneous protection against pregnancy and STIs, including HIV, could contribute substantially to the health of women and girls around the globe.
Thankfully, these products may not be too far off. Referred to as multipurpose prevention technologies, or MPTs, they are the result of collaboration among reproductive health, contraceptive, and HIV researchers. Donors and product developers are working together to create new technologies that offer simultaneous protection from these key SRH risks.
While the existing MPTs (male and female condoms) are effective when used correctly and consistently, many women simply are not able to negotiate condom use with their partners. New MPTs in development include vaginal gels, long-acting intravaginal rings, new and improved barrier devices, vaginal tablets, and films. Once developed and approved, MPTs will be a major advance for global public health and will provide millions of women with new means to protect them. But to get the products from the lab into the hands of the women who need them, key challenges must be addressed:
Understanding women’s preferences, choices, and needs. We know that many women want and need technologies that prevent pregnancy and STIs, including HIV. But finding the right delivery system is crucial. Data from several studies indicate that women don’t use products consistently for a variety of reasons. A recent example of this is the VOICE (Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic) study. VOICE was a large-scale trial conducted in South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2012 to test whether the daily use of a product containing the antiviral tenofovir (oral tablet or vaginal gel) could prevent the sexual transmission of HIV in women. The results showed that many women did not use the study products as directed. While low adherence prevented the study from being able to get an answer about the effectiveness of tenofovir to prevent sexual transmission of HIV among women, it did confirm that women have different needs, preferences, motivations, and barriers to use.
To design effective products that women can use, product developers must understand the challenges women face in accessing and using new technologies. The role that gender norms and power asymmetry play in women’s ability to access and use technologies cannot be underestimated. In, addition, preferences for specific MPT product characteristics (such as formulation, duration of action, and presence and magnitude of side effects) must be taken into account early on in the product-development process. For example, a long-acting product may be easier for some women to use than one that must be taken or used on a daily basis (like those in VOICE) or around the time of sex.
Overcoming technical challenges. Developing MPTs is complicated. Researchers work with active ingredients that have vastly different properties and are designing technologies that will be effective for anywhere from one hour to 90 days. For example, the active ingredients in the MPTs being developed by the Population Council include MIV-150 to prevent HIV; zinc acetate to protect against HIV and herpes; carrageenan to block human papillomavirus (HPV) and strengthen the effectiveness of zinc acetate (which may have protective effects against HIV and herpes); and levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy. Council researchers are developing delivery mechanisms that release these drugs in a controlled manner for the lifetime of the product—for instance in a slow-release vaginal ring. Too much or too little of one compound can prevent the product from providing maximum protective benefit. Researchers have successfully tested a gel and a vaginal ring that contain three of these drugs and are beginning to design technologies that incorporate all four. More information about the Population Council’s microbicides pipeline is available here.
Bolstering and sustaining funding for R&D. Candidate products must go through a series of preliminary tests before ever reaching the large-scale effectiveness studies needed for product approval. It is the nature of research that many of these candidate products will never make it out of the lab and into effectiveness studies. And by their nature, first-generation products can usually be improved upon with additional study and refinement. That is why investment in MPT R&D is vital. Maintaining an active and robust product pipeline increases the chances that a handful of products will prove promising enough to move on to large-scale studies. Donors and others must recognize the importance of this research and consider MPT R&D a priority. And, when the first generation of new MPTs becomes available we must ensure that health systems are ready to deliver them and that financing mechanisms are in place to support their procurement and introduction.
Navigating complex regulatory issues. Because MPTs combine different components, they do not fit neatly into the discrete categories of “drug, device, or biologic” typically used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—the body charged with approving medical drugs and devices for use in the United States. The unique nature of MPTs poses challenges for regulatory bodies in other parts of the world, making their entry to the market complex. The good news is that efforts are underway to identify regulatory pathways for MPTs, and to clarify the regulatory requirements at different stages of product development. We are working now to engage regulators in the emerging MPT field so that the regulatory process is efficient, timely, cost-effective, and ultimately successful.
With continued effort, MPTs could address the major reproductive and sexual health challenges that women worldwide face. While momentum is growing, the public health, medical, and scientific communities must continue to move forward with a sense of urgency and clarity to accelerate the development of these potentially lifesaving technologies for girls and women around the globe.
The post New Multipurpose Prevention Technologies Could Provide Many Benefits for Women appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Cross-posted with permission from AwayPoint.
Picture this: You wake up far too early one morning because your hand is intensely painful and you don’t know why. When the pain gets worse, you go to the ER. The attending doctor, a gray-haired man, examines you, draws blood, and then tells you an unusual flesh-eating infection in your finger is putting your health at risk. He recommends amputating the hand immediately before the infection causes more harm. What he doesn’t tell you is that at this early stage the simple injection of a state-of-the art antibiotic would solve the problem. Why the omission? His hospital is managed by a self-described religious healthcare ministry that forbids the use of antibiotics.
Across the United States, religious healthcare corporations are absorbing once secular and independent hospitals and in the process imposing religious restrictions that sometimes pit standard medical practice against theology. To the best of my knowledge, no religious system that is licensed to serve the general public forbids the use of antibiotics. But facilities under the direct or indirect control of Catholic bishops are providing maternity care that is tantamount to unwarranted amputation.Catholic Directives Delay Care, Compel Unnecessary Surgery
Recently a woman was traveling across the Midwest when she developed abdominal pain. She and her husband went to the nearest hospital, where she was diagnosed with a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. The doctors recommended immediate surgery to remove the fallopian tube containing the misplaced embryo, a procedure that would reduce by half her future chances of conceiving a child. They failed to mention that a simple injection of Methotrexate would solve the problem, leaving her fertility intact. Why the omission? The Catholic hospital where she got diagnosed was subject to the “Ethical and Religious Directives” of the Catholic bishops, which state, “In case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion.”
According to Catholic moralists, an injection that destroys an ectopic embryo is a direct abortion, while removing the part of a woman’s reproductive system containing the embryo is not. While this may sound strange (or abhorrent) to outsiders, it has its own internal logic. Catholic ethics ultimately are determined by theologically-based perceptions of what actions God approves and doesn’t approve. While compassion does matter, the end goal is to improve the spiritual standing or righteousness of the person performing the action. These theological dictates may or may not align with the questions that govern secular medical ethics and practice: how to minimize harm and suffering or maximize well-being while respecting patient autonomy.
In 2010, a pregnant Nicaraguan woman with metastatic cancer was denied treatment because chemotherapy could harm her fetus, which doctors refused to remove. Though many Protestants disagree, Catholic theology treats any product of conception as a fully formed human being, with rights equal to a woman from the moment of conception whether or not there is any possibility of it actually becoming a person. This means that abortion is an inherently bad action, regardless of outcomes. Nicaraguan law, rooted in this theology, prohibits all abortion even when a woman’s life is at stake. In 2012, a 16-year-old Dominican girl also was denied treatment for weeks while doctors debated whether chemotherapy would constitute an abortion. She eventually miscarried and later died.
Christianity traditionally has regarded women as vessels—vessels for evil and for babies. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety (1 Timothy 2: 13-15). As a consequence, Catholic rules addressing reproduction are particularly convoluted, and sometimes patients pay the price:
A Catholic doctor at a Catholic hospital went against my daughter’s wishes and signed consent to have a hysterectomy because of severe endometriosis. One ovary had already exploded. My daughter had never intended or desired children nor was she in a suitable situation to have a child. She was single, in her late 20s. When she awoke from surgery she learned that the doctor had over-ridden her wishes and consent in an attempt to save her fertility. The operation was botched, leaving my daughter on permanent disability, in pain, with even more health problems than she’d had before. – Comment at TruthoutReligious Directives and Malpractice Law Secular medical ethics evolved to promote patient welfare and autonomy. As better treatment options become available, providers are expected to keep their skills and knowledge up to date so that they can provide accurate information about the range of options and offer the services most likely to create the best health outcomes for patients. Violation of these norms is considered malpractice. Medical malpractice can be defined as: “Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional.” Whether or not a healthcare provider has provided excellent or unacceptable care depends on the general state of healthcare at the time service is provided. The critical element is standard of care, which is concerned with the type of medical care that a physician is expected to provide. Until the 1960s the standard of care was traditionally regarded as the customary or usual practice of members of the profession. This standard was referred to as the “locality rule,” because it recognized the custom within a particular geographic area. This rule was criticized for its potential to protect a low standard of care as long as the local medical community embraced it. The locality rule also was seen as a disincentive for the medical community to adopt better practices.
Most states have modified the locality rule to include both an evaluation of the customary practices of local physicians and an examination of national medical standards. Physicians are called to testify as expert witnesses by both sides in medical malpractice trials because the jury is not familiar with the intricacies of medicine. Standards established by medical specialty organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are often used by these expert witnesses to address the alleged negligent actions of a physician who practices in that specialty. Nonconformance to these standards is evidence of negligence, whereas conformance supports a finding of due care. –Legal Dictionary
The recent case of a young Salvadorian mother named Beatriz offered a graphic example of how religious interference in medical care can force a doctor to commit malpractice. Beatriz, who suffers from lupus, was pregnant with a nonviable anencephalic fetus yet was refused an abortion clear through the second trimester, as her condition became increasingly risky. Salvadorian minister of health, Maria Isabel Rodriguez, called her situation a “grave maternal illness with a high probability of deterioration or maternal death.”
“I just want to live,” Beatriz told the press—echoing the sentiments of Savita Halappanavar who died last year after being denied an abortion in Catholic Ireland. Salvadoran doctors were willing to perform the needed abortion, but their hands were tied by laws based in Catholic theology. Finally, at 26 weeks gestation and under international pressure, a Salvadorian court ruled that Beatriz could end the pregnancy—via caesarean section. As in the case of the ectopic pregnancy, Beatriz was offered an invasive surgical procedure rather than the standard treatment which would minimize recovery time and leave her body intact. As best can be determined from news reports, the only reason the doctors had to cut her was to satisfy the Catholic pretense that this was an attempt to deliver a viable baby.
In the wake of Halappanavar’s death and Beatriz’s dangerously substandard care, Marge Berer, founder of the international journal, Reproductive Health Matters, questioned the ability of Catholic-controlled facilities to provide emergency obstetric services and asked whether they should be formally stripped of their right to provide maternity care more broadly. Unfortunately, with Catholic theology encoded as law in many countries and with Catholic healthcare ministries buying up independent care facilities here in the U.S., a woman may have few other options. If all currently proposed mergers are completed in Washington State, for example, nine counties will have all hospital beds tied to religious institutions by the end of 2013, including the University of Washington system.
When bishop directives trump science and patient preference, pregnant women are not the only ones at risk. According to a litany of articles at two watchdog sites, CatholicWatch.org and Mergerwatch.org, the problem of religious interference in health decisions extends far beyond obstetrics and family planning, spanning end of life care, treatment of queer families, and any drugs remotely derived from embryonic stem cell research. As medical science offers us more and more ability to manage sexuality, reproduction, body modification, and our dying process, religious dictates will be increasingly at odds with secular standards of care. Doctors working under these mandates will be forced to offer treatments that, by contrast with the best available, can be classed only as malpractice—a pattern that both patients and personal injury attorneys are bound eventually to notice.
The post Do Religious Restrictions Force Doctors to Commit Malpractice? appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Last night, pro-choice U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) debated anti-choice opponent Gabriel Gomez in the lead up to the general election on June 25.
Voters learned three critical new facts about Gabriel Gomez's anti-choice position:
Gomez said repeatedly that he wouldn't change laws around abortion. Doesn't he realize that U.S. senators vote on abortion-related issues all the time?
Last night's debate showed that Gabriel Gomez is completely out of touch with the very people he hopes to represent and cannot be trusted to protect their best interests. It's clear that Gomez would not work to protect and expand women's reproductive freedom. Instead, he could likely add unnecessary restrictions to burden women seeking reproductive-health services and abortion care.
NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC-endorsed Rep. Markey, on the other hand, trusts Massachusetts women and has a pro-choice record that spans more than three decades. That's why Rep. Markey is the only candidate women and their families in Massachusetts can trust to protect their freedom and privacy in the most personal of circumstances - not anti-choice politicians like Gabriel Gomez.
If you have friends in Massachusetts, make sure they know how dangerous Gabriel Gomez would be for women's reproductive freedom. When they head to the polls, they'll know who to vote into the Senate on June 25 - pro-choice Rep. Ed Markey.
Paid for by NARAL Pro-Choice America, www.ProChoiceAmerica.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.