By Tina M. Kibbe
As an historian of science and medicine, I am always interested in both the histories of and the latest innovations in genetic and reproductive technologies. It is unbelievable how far we’ve come in such a relatively short period of time. These technologies are usually met with a mixture of awe and fascination or resistance and fear—it seems as if sometimes we are witnessing a glimpse into the future, yet it is actually happening in the here and now. I recently came across an article that actually made me stop and say, “Wow, really?” It’s about research into a new reproductive technology, but before I get to it, I want to do a brief background of revolutionary reproductive and genetic technologies that have sparked some intense ethical and moral debates. Specifically, three groundbreaking developments which have women/gender at their very core. Three developments that, as they were occurring, perhaps seemed like they were only futuristic, fantastic things that could never really happen . . . until they did.
By Heather Munro Prescott
In an effort to show links between reproductive justice and environmental justice, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) is “calling all young people” to check a presentation on “Sex, Synthetics, and Sustainability,” on April 10 at 4:30 EST. The presentation will feature representatives from the the Sierra Club Global Population & Environment Program, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Women’s Voices for the Earth, and special guest Stefanie Weiss, author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable. Now, as I’ve written elsewhere, this isn’t the first time that birth control activists have reached out to young people by appealing to their interest in protecting the environment.
North Dakota has become a very dangerous place for women. On Tuesday Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-abortion measures into law. The first, HB 1305, bans abortions performed because of genetic abnormalities or for the purpose of gender selection; the second, HB 1456, bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat; and the third, SB 2305, requires any physician performing an abortion to have admitting and staff privileges at a local hospital. Individually, each of these bills makes it much more difficult to secure a safe and legal abortion in North Dakota, effectively policing patients’ reasons for electing an abortion, shortening the legal time period for seeking that abortion (fetal heartbeats can sometimes be detected as early as six weeks into pregnancy), and limiting the number of qualified abortion providers in the state. Taken together, they constitute a full-scale assault on the rights secured by Roe v. Wade. I have questions. Who gets to decide whether a woman wants an abortion for acceptable reasons? How will the presence of a fetal heartbeat be determined — perhaps through a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound? And with a single clinic currently operating as the only safe and legal facility for abortions, doesn’t this hospital-privilege requirement effectively eliminate abortion in North Dakota anyway? What are the class implications of making abortion available only to those who can travel out of the state?
By Jacqueline Antonovich
-Remember when America was female?
-Will Jack Johnson finally be pardoned from his Mann Act conviction?
-A disabled feminist talks back.
-A look inside the Hull House exhibit.
-Hysteria and modern medicine.
-The 16-Inch Waist Of Émilie Marie Bouchaud.
By Heather Munro Prescott
Today is NARAL’s annual Blog for Choice day, which falls this year on the 40th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. One this day, NARAL invites bloggers and activists to get people to talk about reproductive rights online. By participating in Blog for Choice day, we join NARAL’s mission to “let readers and the mainstream media know that a woman’s right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected.” NARAL’s deliberate decision to retain the word “choice” is quite a contrast to Planned Parenthood’s commemoration of Roe’s 40th anniversary. In advance of this event, Planned Parenthood launched a new campaign, Not in Her Shoes which seeks to move beyond labels in the abortion debate:
By Carolyn Herbst Lewis
My sophomore year of high school, the French teacher taught my English literature class. At some point in the semester we had to give a five minute persuasive speech on any topic of our choosing. Mine was “Why There Should Be Condom Dispensers in the School Bathrooms.” I do not remember the response of my classmates, but I will never forget what my teacher said, even before I had reached my seat: “Caroleeen, I had no idea you were that kind of girl.”In my mind, I flipped him off. In actuality, I just sat down.
By Helen McBride
It’s no surprise that laws concerning family planning have remained within a grey area in Ireland. Following the tragedy of Savita Halappanavar’s death, Amnesty International has called upon Ireland to clean up its act. Halappanavar entered University Hospital, Galway on 21st October due to severe back pain. This back pain was diagnosed as a symptom of a miscarriage, being 17 weeks pregnant at the time. Halappanavar later died on 28th October, the cause being classified as septicaemia. The situation has been explained by Halappanavar’s husband that upon discovering the miscarriage, they repeatedly asked for a medical termination, as Halappanavar was in substantial pain. This request was denied repeatedly over three days. RTE has outlined the timeline of events.
By Adam Turner
Genetic counseling, as the previous two posts in this series suggest, has a lot to offer for navigating the tricky decisions things like prenatal testing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis raise. Well, in this post I’d like to make things a little more complicated. Enter the sheer messiness of history. I still believe genetic counseling is the best approach we have right now for helping prospective parents with hard choices, but it has a complicated — and not so distant — past that continues to shape counselors’ ways of interacting with clients.
Men for True Liberty is writing to ask for two speaking slots at the DNC in Chicago in August. The speeches will educate convention goers and the public about the threat to men’s freedom and liberty. When Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan won in 2012, we were led to believe that the economy would be restored to its former glory. Men’s reproductive rights were not even a blip on the radar. Yes, we had heard about the war on women in 2012, but what did that have to with men? What did that have to do with the economy and jobs? Our naivety led us to think politicians would never try to control men’s reproductive rights. Well, we realized too late what a big mistake it was to separate reproductive rights from the economy and now it’s time for us to atone for our egregious errors.
This is a guest post by Elizabeth Reis, professor of women’s and gender studies at the University of Oregon. Professor Reis is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). This year (2012-2103) she is a visiting scholar in the History of Science Department at Harvard University.
The American Academy of Pediatricians recently released a statement saying that the health benefits of circumcision outweighed the risks. This pronouncement contradicts the Academy’s earlier ruling, just thirteen years ago in 1999, which stated unequivocally that the health benefits of the procedure were slim. The 1999 statement reversed a previous one made in 1989 that said there were good medical reasons for it; but a few years earlier, in 1971, the Academy had officially concluded that it was not a medical necessity. Clearly, circumcision is one of those surgeries about which opinion shifts back and forth over the years.