A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘abortion

[LINK] “Zika Virus May Push South America to Loosen Abortion Bans”

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Wireds Sarah Zhang describes how the spread of the Zika virus has influenced the abortion debate in South America.

With no vaccine, no cure, and without even a reliable diagnosis, doctors are at a loss for how to protect their patients from the Zika virus. In the past year, the mosquito-borne disease has spread throughout Latin America, sparking panic because of a possible link to microcephaly—babies born with abnormally small brains. Without more information, medical advice so far has boiled down to this: Don’t get pregnant. So say official guidelines from Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras. El Salvador has gone so far as to recommend women do not get pregnant until 2018.

But most of these Latin American countries are also Catholic, so access to birth control is often poor and abortion is flat-out banned. “This kind of recommendation that women should avoid pregnancy is not realistic,” says Beatriz Galli, a Brazil-based policy advisor for the reproductive health organization Ipas. “How can they put all the burden of this situation on the women?”

In Brazil, where Zika has hit the hardest, birth control is available—though poor and rural women can still get left out. One report estimates that unplanned pregnancies make up over half of all births in the country. And abortion is illegal, except in cases of rape and certain medical conditions. A raft of impending legislation in Brazil’s conservative-held congress may make it harder to get abortions even in those exempted cases.

Now throw Zika into that. Scientists still haven’t confirmed the link to microcephaly, but Brazilian researchers have confirmed the virus can jump through the placenta from mother to fetus. Circumstantially, the number of of microcephaly cases has gone up 20 fold since Zika first reached Brazil. In the face of fear and incomplete information, women will have to figure out how to protect themselves and their children.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm

[ISL] #heywade, @iamkarats, Anne of Green Gables, and Island abortion

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The above image, of a red-haired woman looking suspiciously like Anne of Green Gables with her face covered, has been circulating throughout Prince Edward Island, in posters on the streets and in posts on social media. The culture wars are heating up on Prince Edward Island.

Abortion has been decriminalized in Canada for decades, but it is still not readily accessible throughout the country. Vice recently noted that abortion is difficult to access throughout the Maritimes, given the dispersed and substantially rural population as well as strict regulation by provincial governments.

Prince Edward Island is unique even in the Maritimes Canada as the only province where abortion is not available. Even though Charlottetown’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has the facilities needed, even though there are doctors willing to provide the service, the provincial government has refused to allow the procedure. Even non-surgical abortions are difficult to come by, with local hospitals not being allowed to provide followup care. This forces Island women who want abortions to leave the province for the mainland.

The consequence of this is to make abortion inaccessible. I blogged last year about how one Island-born woman living in Halifax has opened her home to Island women, and apparently the provincial government has set up a toll-free number to let Island women arrange an abortion in the New Brunswick city of Moncton, but these are stopgap measures. Unless an Island woman has the time needed to make a trip to the mainland, and has the financial resources to afford it, abortion is inaccessible.

This is where the current campaign comes in. Linked to the Twitter account @iamkarats, the image of provincial pop-culture icon Anne Shirley has been harnessed.

An anti-abortion group on P.E.I. is responding to posters that have gone up in Charlottetown and on social media calling on the province to make abortion available on the Island.

The posters show an image of a red-headed, pig-tailed woman or girl wearing a bandana, and use the hashtags #AccessNow, #SupportIslandWomen, and #HeyWade — as a direct appeal to premier Wade MacLauchlan.

[. . .]

Ann Wheatley, co-chair of Abortion Access Now PEI, said she doesn’t know who’s behind the posters and they aren’t affiliated with her group.

Wheatley does like the posters, saying they’re a clever and creative way to bring attention to the issue.

“I think the posters are quite brilliant,” she said. “They catch your eye … and it sends a very straightforward message that is we need our political leaders to pay attention to Island women and do the right thing.”

On Jan. 5, Abortion Access Now PEI served the provincial government notice that they would be filing a lawsuit suing for abortion access on the Island. Under the Crown Proceedings Act, any group filing a lawsuit against the province is required to provide notice of 90 days.

CBC reached out to the person or group behind the iamkarats social media accounts on Wednesday. They declined to reveal their identities but did release a written statement Thursday afternoon via an email address under the name Shirley Karats. Shirley is Anne’s last name, and she was infamously called “carrots” by Gilbert Blythe in the L.M. Montgomery book.

I think this brilliant. Prince Edward Island’s pop culture is quite often excessively traditional and conservative, even intentionally retrograde, looking to a rural and traditional past that it prized beyond any reasonable measure. It’s exactly this sort of thing that alienated me from the Island. What I find positive–what I find positively endearing, in fact–is the mobilization of this central figure of the Island for non-traditional goals. Why mightn’t Anne Shirley, raised in our era, have wanted accessible abortion on the Island? She herself was a decidedly non-traditional girl, growing up after some tumult into a non-traditional family and then going on to university, eventually becoming a creative professional in her own right. Why would Anne necessarily be conservative? That’s such an unimaginative treatment of a character who was defined by her ability to imagine new things.

I have no idea how the current campaign will end. Perhaps abortion will become available on the Island, or perhaps the matter will get ignored. My props go, regardless, to @iamkarats. This kind of imaginative engagement with the Island’s past will do much good.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 3, 2016 at 11:57 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes a big retail shift in the Junction and looks at new expensive condos on Dupont Street.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper suggesting the light curve of KIC 8462852 can be plausibly explained by a large comet family, notes another simulating what Saturn would look like as an exoplanet, and found a third suggesting that the Fomalhaut system’s configuration is likely temporary.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a report on silicon chips for supercomputers.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Ireland has passed legislation protecting all teachers, including those employed by Catholic schools, from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
  • Language Log notes an odd Chinese typo for the name of Obama.
  • Marginal Revolution starts a discussion on the fragility of complex civilizations.
  • Torontoist features an essay by a lesbian Ontarian who talks about how the current sex ed curriculum would have helped her.
  • From Tumblr, vagarh notes medieval texts and laws on abortion.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the impact of the Russia-Turkey crisis on the Orthodox Church, suggests Russian project their own shortcomings on the west, and looks at patriotism among Ukrainian Muslims.

[LINK] “Anti-abortion groups target IUD use”

Al Jazeera America notes that anti-abortion groups will not be satisfied with limiting abortion, but that they rather want to go after birth control generally. I, for one, see no reason to try to compromise with the uncompromising.

A rapid increase in the number of U.S. women turning to intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy has prompted escalating attacks on the birth control method from groups that oppose abortion.

The next battle will be at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to consider a new religious challenge to contraceptives coverage under President Obama’s healthcare law. Although the case deals broadly with whether religiously affiliated groups should be exempt from providing birth control coverage to their employees, some parties in the case have focused specifically on IUDs.

IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching an egg. But they have come under fire from anti-abortion groups because, in rare instances, they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Those who believe that life begins at conception consider blocking implantation to be terminating a pregnancy rather than preventing pregnancy.

“IUDs are a life-ending device,” said Mailee Smith, staff counsel for the Americans United for Life, which filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge before the high court. “The focus of these cases is that requiring any life-ending drug is in violation of the Religious Freedom Act.”

IUD use among U.S. women using contraceptives grew to 10.3 percent in 2012 from 2 percent in 2002, according to the Guttmacher Institute, making them the fastest growing birth-control method. Their popularity has grown as women recognized that newer versions of the device don’t carry the same safety risks as a 1970s-era IUD known as the Dalkon Shield.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 2, 2015 at 3:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at the massive flares of red dwarf TVLM 513.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that M-class red dwarfs have less massive protoplanetary disks than other stars but more massive planets.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes new research suggesting that Earth’s grat oxygenation event was preceded by another.
  • Geocurrents looks at Fiji’s Kiribati-administered Banaba Island.
  • Language Hat is skeptical about the idea that computer programs could automatically reconstruct ancient languages.
  • Language Log notes research about hesitation markers in Germanic languages.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Richard Posner’s criticism of anti-abortion obstacle courses.
  • Marginal Revolution comes out in favour of Syrian refugee admission.
  • Johnny Pez wonders what it is with white men.
  • Towleroad notes a Cook Islands ban on same-sex couples renewing their vows.
  • Transit Toronto notes the ongoing removal of many streetcar stops.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia will work with Iran to undermine Saudi Arabia by supporting Shi’a, and argues current mindsets suggest Russia will remain a threat to Ukraine and its other neighbours for some time.

[LINK] “Missouri state senator aims to block student’s dissertation on abortion”

Al Jazeera America’s Massoud Hayoun reports on an astonishingly brazen attempt to control education, by trying to prevent a graduate student from researching the effects of abortion bans.

A University of Missouri doctoral student plans to continue research for her dissertation on the effects of the state’s recently imposed 72-hour waiting period for abortions, despite a state legislator’s push to block the research, the student told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview.

“I stand by my research project,” Lindsay Ruhr said Wednesday. “I feel that my research is objective, and that the whole point of my research is to understand how this policy affects women. Whether this policy is having a harmful or beneficial effect, we don’t know.”

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican from Columbia, Missouri, who chairs the Missouri state senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, sent a letter in late October to the University of Missouri calling Ruhr’s dissertation “a marketing aid for Planned Parenthood — one that is funded, in part or in whole, by taxpayer dollars,” according to a copy of the letter posted to HuffingtonPost.com. Schaefer called for the university to hand over documents regarding the project’s approval and said that, because the University of Missouri is a public university, it should not fund research that he said would promote elective abortions. Missouri law prohibits the use of public funds to promote non-life-saving abortions.

“We are still in the process of responding to Sen. Schaefer’s request for documents,” Mary Jenkins, public relations manager for University of Missouri Health, said Wednesday in an email. Schaefer did not respond to Al Jazeera’s multiple interview requests.

Missouri in September 2014 enacted a 72-hour wait for abortions, becoming one of several states that have restricted access to the procedure — moves that reproductive rights advocates have called legal attempts to chip away at the rights established by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Other legal restrictions, passed in Missouri and some other states, have required that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound scan and receive informational material that abortion rights advocates say aims to dissuade women from undergoing the procedure.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 12, 2015 at 8:34 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO looks at Queen and Bay in the 1960s and examines the PATH in the 1970s.
  • Centauri Dreams suggests that beamed power might be detectable by SETI.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at ancient salmon fishing in Alaska and notes the state of the Ukrainian war.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the extent to which crime can warp societies.
  • Far Outliers notes the heckling women protesters of Kyrgyzstan.
  • Language Log shares a bad translation of into English from Chinese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes how Indonesian drilling triggered a mud volcano.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at cap and trade in China and wonders why deflation has returned to Japan.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps abortion in Europe.
  • Savage Minds shares a list that is also an ethnography.
  • Towleroad notes the appearance of PrEP on American television.
  • Window on Eurasia criticizes Putin’s diplomatic strategies, notes that there are three million Muslims in Moscow, looks at the controversy surrounding Syrian Circassian refugees, notes some Russian tourists are now saying they are Belarusian, and notes the challenges of Belarus.

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