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Population Briefs. 2007 Dec; 13(3):5.In April 2007, Mexico City's legislative assembly voted to liberalize abortion law to permit the interruption of pregnancy in the first trimester. The city is a federal district-similar to Washington, DC-and has a state-like autonomy. The law is in place only in Mexico City; Mexico's states still have restrictive abortion laws. The Council's research and collaboration with local nongovernmental organizations, universities, professional associations, and the Mexican government helped bring about this groundbreaking legislation. "The Population Council's research findings on abortion in Latin America have been used by government officials and women's rights advocacy groups to shape evidence-based policies, including the recent change in abortion law in Mexico City," says Sandra G. Garcia, the Council's director of reproductive health for Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2007, Garcia was honored as a recipient of the Guttmacher Institute's Darroch Award for Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research. She was cited for "research documenting abortion-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices in Mexico" that "played an important role in the...recent decision to legalize first-trimester abortion." (excerpt)
AMERICAN PROSPECT. 1991 Spring; (5):84-90.The abortion debate is currently in a period of transition as in moves from the courts to the legislative branches. All across the country, state legislatures are reviewing their abortion laws and many are preparing to enact restrictions. Congress may be a good avenue to ensure abortion rights by passing national legislation. There is a risk involved because all legislation is passed through a process of compromise and the pro-choice side should be very careful about what they give up in the process. It is possible that concessions will have to be made that previously would never have been considered. Further, if the national legislation gives away too much, it will restrict states that want to ensure liberal access to abortion. Attempts to arrive at a compromised minimum level, may be too low to ensure the protection of many women. To illustrate the variety of issues involved with abortion legislation, the support of certain justifications for abortion varies greatly. In a 1990 National Opinion Research Center poll, 89% approved of abortion to save the life of the mother, 81% in cases of rape, 78% if there was a strong chance of birth defect, 43% if the woman is married and does not want any more children, 43% if the woman is single and does not want to marry the man, and 42% if she wanted an abortion for any reason. In a time magazine survey, 69% of the people agreed with the idea that even in cases where they thought in immoral to have an abortion, the government should not have the right to prevent her from having it. Also, 69% of the people agreed that if a state does institute restrictions, it should not be judges or government officials, but rather the women's doctor who decides if the abortion should be restricted.
POPULATION RESEARCH AND POLICY REVIEW. 1986; 5(3):197-215.A responsible and comprehensive policy of in vitro fertilization (IVF) should be preceded by the gathering of empirical information about the application of the procedure in the 138 IVF centers across the US. To date, attention has been directed more to the implications of IVF as a whole than to actual behaviors in the medical community. It is appropriate to survey patients and physicians, examine consent forms, and study guidelines issued by the medical community to enhance public knowledge of what has been done voluntarily in the medical community and what remains to be done. The social and medical experiences of consumers in the clinical setting pave the way for an understanding of IVF that is qualitatively different from that achieved by simply writing about IVF's potential costs and benefits. To develop a responsible IVF policy, it is necessary to move away from futuristic, slippery slope thinking and towards an examination of the actual application of IVF. Looking to the experiences of consumers, the consent forms developed in hospitals, and the regulations handed down by the medical community itself help identify policy needs and suggest what has been done in the absence of policy. Only by developing an empirical base can policy realistically be based on actual costs and benefits of the IVF technic.
Journal of Social History. 1985 Spring; 18(3):399-411.The transition from resistance to acceptance of birth control in the US can be characterized as a 3 stage process, with each period facing its own issues and choices. The 1st stage -- the fight over birth control in the early 20th century -- has been documented by historians like James Reed, Linda Gordon, and David Kennedy. A 2nd stage, approximately the years from 1936-60, has not been fully explored although the period was crucial in shaping the current system of contraceptive health care. This discussion focuses on this transitional period, particularly its 1st decade, 1936-47. Physicians' attitudes, as revealed through American Medical Association (AMA) policy and a national survey conducted in 1947, are considered in relation to reported data on clinic and private practice. This evidence reveals that despite the liberalization of laws and public opinion in the mid-1930s, contraception did not become widely available until after 1960 -- the beginning of the 3rd stage in the history of American contraception -- and that the restriction of birth control information during the period was traceble in large part to the medical profession. Analysis of the 1936-47 decade, particularly with regard to the concerns of doctors, provides a framework for understanding the forces that affected contraceptive health care in the mid 20th century and suggests conditions that continue to shape the politics of birth control. In 1936, when the AMA's committee on contraception submitted its 1st report, it was clear that legal and public opinion had moved decisively toward more liberal attitudes concerning birth control. In 1937 the AMA passed a qualified endorsement of birth control, indicating that the organized medical profession as represented by the AMA held views on birth control at the beginning of the 2nd stage that were more conservative than those of most middle-class Americans. Its conservatism was challenged by lay groups who threatened to circumvent standard office practice if physicians failed to modify their views. Public opinion and behavior thus had a demonstrable effect on medical attitudes. 10 years after the AMA resolution a suvey found that more than 2/3 of physicians approved of contraception for any married women who requested it. The 1937-47 period witnessed 2 important changes in medical attitudes toward contraception: the profession's public, though cautious, endorsement of birth control; and the apparent adoption of liberalized standards for the prescription of contraceptive materials. The period also was a time of tremendous growth for the new birth control clinics that offered services to women who could not afford private care. Available evidence suggests that physicians' attitudes toward contraception, and particularly toward birth control clinics, were more important than either laws or public opinion in limiting the availability of those contraceptives considered most efficient (and most compatible with sexual pleasure) between 1936-60.