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REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH MATTERS. 1997 May; (9):147-8.Adoption of Colombia's 1991 Constitution has sparked debate on issues such as abortion, and the rulings of Constitutional Court judges, while still anti-abortion, have begun to reflect divided opinions about women's reproductive freedom. Abortion remains illegal and, in the past 2 years, the Court has decided two cases in favor of punishing women who had abortions, even in cases of rape. In reaching these conclusions, six of the nine judges argued that the constitution fails to protect reproductive rights, that women's dignity is not compromised by continuing a pregnancy caused by rape, and that the criminalization of abortion does not violate a couple's right to decide the number of their children. The dissenting opinion, however, held that a fetus has no juridical existence and cannot be protected by fundamental rights, that the right of reproductive autonomy is related to Constitutional norms, and that it is unjust to force a woman to continue a pregnancy resulting from rape. The judges holding the minority opinion accused the majority of exhibiting a lack of impartiality by adopting the official Roman Catholic position about abortion. The addition of three high court judges to those who are calling for decriminalization of abortion has stimulated increased objective debate about abortion in Colombia.
In: Understanding the new politics of abortion, edited by Malcolm L. Goggin. Newbury Park, California, Sage Publications, 1993. 268-84.This document is the 15th chapter in a book which provides a framework for considering the "new politics" of abortion in the US (created when the Supreme Court gave states more leeway in regulating access to abortion) and the last in a section devoted to an examination of state abortion policy and politics. This chapter analyzes the impact of female state legislators on abortion legislation. The study hypothesizes that the presence of a significant number of female legislators, especially Democrats, will affect state abortion policy at the committee level (where bills can be blocked). This study concludes that parental consent regulations and public funding of abortion are distinct dimensions of state abortion policy and uses three measures of state opinion toward abortion (Roman Catholic membership, proportion of professional women in the adult female population, and membership in the National Abortion Rights Action League). A table illustrates a simple model of state public funding and parental notification policies which indicates that women legislators may make a difference in parental notification legislation but not in funding policies. This test confirms the validity of Thomas's 1991 hypothesis that the presence of a threshold number of women legislators is important in predicting state abortion policy outputs regarding parental notification and indicates that to have an effect, these women must be Democrats. The analysis then examines post-Webster bills to determine how women may have influenced their fate in committees (which would indicate that the presence of women on key committees is more important than the number of women legislators). It is concluded that states with the fewest women and those most likely to pass anti-abortion legislation have Democratic women on committees blocking this legislation. Using the scales developed in this study, it is predicted that most state policies will remain stable even if Roe were overturned.
In: Understanding the new politics of abortion, edited by Malcolm L. Goggin. Newbury Park, California, Sage Publications, 1993. 222-48.This document is the 13th chapter in a book which provides a framework for considering the "new" politics of abortion in the US (created when the Supreme Court gave states more leeway in regulating access to abortion) and the fourth of six chapters in a section devoted to an examination of state abortion policy and politics. This chapter reports on research which indicates that the proportion of women in state legislature has an effect on state abortion policy and that abortion restrictions are less likely to be implemented in states with more women elected officials. The chapter also considers whether mobilization by women contributes to a lack of relationship between policy enactment (restrictions) and policy outcomes (stable abortion rates). After reviewing the extent and reason for state differences in abortion rates and restrictions, it is noted that general support for women's rights is not necessarily linked with abortion legislation or other feminist policies. After describing six possible indicators of mobilization by women, the functional form of the relationship between the strongest indicator (the proportion of women in the state legislature) is tested against several measures of state policies affecting women. Finally, the impact of state politics and policies on state abortion rates is considered and it is found that abortion rates have remained stable despite state restrictions. State restrictions, however, may result in more women seeking out-of-state abortions. Mobilization by women has little independent impact on the enactment of policies supportive of equal rights for women but may reduce the erosion of public commitment to feminist policies. It is concluded that actual reductions in abortion rates may be achieved by increased spending on welfare and family planning rather than through restricted policies.
In: Understanding the new politics of abortion, edited by Malcolm L. Goggin. Newbury Park, California, Sage Publications, 1993. 203-21.This document is the 12th chapter in a book which provides a framework for considering the "new" politics of abortion in the US (created when the Supreme Court gave states more leeway in regulating access to abortion) and the third of six chapters in a section devoted to an examination of state abortion policy and politics. This chapter assesses the impact of the Supreme Court's Webster and Casey decisions on state-level abortion policy-making and considers who wins when public opinion collides with interest groups. After briefly reviewing the Webster and Casey decisions, public support for abortion is shown to be significant but to increase for abortions in special circumstances (calling for caution when matching public opinion to specific policies). The public opinion data base for this study was the 1990 Washington Post Exit Poll which surveyed 9444 voters from 41 states and the District of Columbia. The chapter continues with a consideration of the influence of interest groups on state policy and of the dependent variable of state abortion policy (whether the state passed legislation calling for a constitutional ban on abortion). An initial examination is then made of whether abortion policy is a function of ideology, partisanship, or abortion demand. After concluding that none of these are related to state abortion policy, the impact of state public opinion on abortion and the mobilization of the interest group system is estimated on state action on the constitutional ban. This reveals that when opinion is narrowly divided or leans slightly to one side, the opposing interest groups may prevail. Public opinion can only consistently defeat organized interests when it is nearly consensual. After projecting a simulation onto the post-Webster age to discern the policy implications, it is concluded that the post-Webster and Casey changes in political venue may not result in much substantive change in policy and that interest groups can sometimes block public opinion in the policy-making process.
In: Understanding the new politics of abortion, edited by Malcolm L. Goggin. Newbury Park, California, Sage Publications, 1993. 190-202.This document is the 11th chapter in a book which provides a framework for considering the "new" politics of abortion in the US (created when the Supreme Court gave states more leeway in regulating access to abortion) and the second of six chapters in a section devoted to an examination of state abortion policy and politics. This chapter examines the relationship between the abortion attitudes held by state residents and the abortion policies of their states. The chapter opens by noting that the states now dictate the future of abortion policy and by reviewing relevant studies. A thermostatic model is then presented of state abortion opinion and policy which relates absolute state preferences (what state residents want in terms of abortion policy), state abortion policy, and relative state preferences (what people want relative to existing abortion policy). The model hypothesizes that state relative and absolute preferences are positively related, but that the former is negatively and the latter positively related to state abortion policy. Data gathered from 1990 CBS/New York Times polls in 42 states are used to examine the connections empirically at a single point in time. The restrictiveness of abortion policy is calculated by summing the value of the states' abortion laws on a range of 1-18. The analysis reveals that a positive, but modest, relationship exists between state absolute preferences and state abortion policy. Also, absolute and relative state preferences are closely related, and the unexplained variation seen in relative preferences may be due to the restrictiveness of the policy itself. It appears that state voters respond to abortion policy and adjust their preferences for more or less policy activity according to what policy is actually made.
In: Understanding the new politics of abortion, edited by Malcolm L. Goggin. Newbury Park, California, Sage Publications, 1993. 89-103.This chapter in a book which provides a framework for considering the "new" politics of abortion in the US (created when the Supreme Court gave states more leeway in regulating access to abortion) is the fifth and final chapter in a section dealing with conflict; in this case, conflicting values and attitudes among anti-abortion and pro-choice supporters presented with adoption as an alternative to abortion. It is hypothesized that it is relatively easy to have an opinion supporting adoption as an alternative for abortion but that this support lessens when it is linked to government financing for adoption. The analysis first examines the structure of support for adoption and public funding separately and then links the issues through a four-part typology showing support for adoption and public funding of it, rejection of both options, and support for one option but not the other. It is found that the most support for adoption as a solution to abortion comes from the socially conservative predisposed against abortion. The strongest predictor of adoption funding support is support for funding abortion (social welfare spending). Other predictors are opposition to abortion (positively related) and age (negatively related). While supporters of adoption as an alternative are generally opposed to public spending on social welfare, dedicated supporters of adoption appear willing to lessen their resistance to government spending to pursue their favored alternative to abortion. Abortion supporters generally already favor social welfare spending and have nothing to offer a compromise on financing. It is concluded that policy alternatives to abortion for unwanted pregnancy would be difficult to fashion and that potential compromise would more likely be successful if it were directed towards contraception.
In: Understanding the new politics of abortion, edited by Malcolm L. Goggin. Newbury Park, California, Sage Publications, 1993. 1-18.This introductory chapter to a book which describes the new politics of abortion in the US provides a framework for understanding the new situation and predicting future developments. The chapter outlines the parameters of the new politics of abortion ushered in by the 1989 Supreme Court decision in Webster vs. Reproductive Health Services which gave states more leeway to regulate access to abortion. These parameters are described by contrasting the "old" and "new" politics of abortion in terms of the political context which is described through consideration of major abortion court cases from 1973 to the present, attitudes expressed toward the legality of abortion from 1975 to 1988, and the activities of pro-choice and anti-abortion groups by year and type for 1985-89. The chapter then provides a framework which enhances understanding of this new political situation by assessing the scope and nature of the abortion conflict (in terms of religious, political, ideological, gender, class, and racial conflict) and the institutional context which provides an arena for this conflict. Abortion conflict can be understood by 1) considering Schattschneider's concept of the losing side's tactic of "expanding the scope of the conflict" versus the winning side's efforts to contain the scope of the conflict to maintain the favorable balance of power and 2) applying Greenstone and Peterson's distinction between "ideological" and "pluralistic" bargaining (abortion politics is characterized by pluralistic bargaining because each side is trying to defeat the other side rather than to persuade it to change its position). The chapter ends by posing the questions which will be addressed in the book and presenting the plan of the book.
INFACT CANADA NEWSLETTER. 1996 Summer; 3.In British Columbia, Canada, a mother was asked to stop breast feeding her 9-month-old son during a special lunch at her daughter's primary school. The mother refused and requested that a policy be created on breast feeding in elementary schools. In 5 months a policy was drafted, and the local newspaper became a battleground over breast-feeding rights. In another case, a woman who was asked to cease breast feeding at work has carried a 6-year dispute to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which has agreed that the time and location of breast feeding in the workplace should be free from discrimination. These examples point to the fact that communities must promote and protect breast feeding as a natural activity. As one breast-feeding supporter wrote to a newspaper, "My suggestion for people who can't handle the sight of an innocent baby having its lunch is: go eat in the bathroom." The breast-feeding mothers with the courage to come out of the "watercloset" are to be commended.
New York, New York, Free Press, Macmillan, 1994. xi, 253 p.This book traces the career of a woman who performed 40,000 abortions between 1918 and 1968 on a professional, though illicit, basis to illustrate the ways in which anti-abortion laws put women at risk. The abortionist, Ruth Barnett, functioned without interference until anti-abortion fervor was fueled by politicians and other public officials eager to make a name for themselves during the post-World War II era. Despite being imprisoned, Barnett continued to perform abortions as long as she was physically able out of compassion for the women who were desperate to end their pregnancies. Barnett never lost a client. In the course of telling this tale, the workings of a West Coast abortion syndicate are revealed, details of the procedure followed by Barnett are provided, court cases and decisions are related, and the vagaries of public opinion are followed.
ANNUAL REVIEW OF POPULATION LAW. 1988; 15:63.The applicant charged the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) with discrimination on the basis of marital status in violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act when it refused to renew her contract as a reporter. The CBC argued that its actions were justified because it believed that the public might find the reporter's objectivity suspect because she was married to a man who had recently been appointed to a prominent public position. It pointed to Paragraph 42.1(6)(b) of the Act, which allowed exceptions for bona fide occupational requirements. The Court rejected this argument. It held that the applicant had been discriminated against on marital status because she belonged to a group of women who adopted their husbands' surnames upon marriage, rather than keeping their own, and was not renewed for that reason. It also ruled that the CBC's justification was inadequate and that a bona fide occupational requirement could not be establish by merely impressionistic evidence of an assumed bias on the part of the public. (full text)