Archive for abortion

what happens when you mix religious beliefs and reproductive rights

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2022 by xi'an

“Certain practices associated with the manifestation of a religion or belief, or perceived as such,may constitute violations of international human rights standards. The right to freedom of religion or belief is sometimes invoked to justify such violations. The EU firmly opposes such justification, whilst remaining fully committed to the robust protection and promotion of freedom of religion or belief in all parts of the world. Violations often affect women, members of religious minorities, as well as persons on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, 2013

On 5 and 6 July 2022 the UK Government hosted a human rights conference to urge increased global action on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) for all. (Countries involved in this International Freedom of Religion or Belief Alliance do not include Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, or Switzerland, in the signatories. I am also unclear about the final purpose of this conference, beyond good-will statements.) Among several such statements, one brings a connection between FoRB and gender equality.

 The statement in its original format is quite mush-y-mash-y, as methinks promoting (one’s) religion rarely walks hand in hand with supporting (all) gender equality and even less reproductive rights. Witness the Catholic Church’s unremitting activism against abortion, up to this day, from Poland to the US.

“As such, FoRB serves not only to protect people from discrimination, inequality, and violence; it can also serve as a source of empowerment for those who find inspiration and strength in their convictions to fight for gender equality and justice.” Statement on freedom of religion or belief and gender equality, 7 July 2022

But the main issue here is that the final statement published by the UK Government eliminated reproductive rights that were present in the original version, as of below, which was signed by many of the participating countries. Without said countries being informed of the cancellation and some now refusing to sign the new version…

“…support and build capacities of local religious and belief leaders to advocate for gender equality, denounce sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices and ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights”. Statement on freedom of religion or belief and gender equality, 7 July 2022

This is sadly connected with the unceasing attacks of religions on abortion rights. For instance, Malta suddenly appeared as a signatory of the final version, while missing from the earlier one. Which may have a correlation with Malta being a country where abortion is completely prohibited. (Nor Poland neither the USA have signed either.) And the (former) prime minister’s special envoy is co-chairing the MP “pro-life” group (funded by the anti-abortion “Right to Life UK” “charity”).

a journal of the plaid [shirt] year [#2]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2022 by xi'an

Read Kawabata’s Sound of the Mountain, which I also found in a Montréal bookstore. At first, I thought it was connected to the masterpiece House of Sleeping Beauties,  which I read eons ago, as dreams are also central to that (mostly) domestic and familial story, but this was quite another, more personal, and poignant reflection on aging and the irreversibility of time. As well as an unsuspected window into immediate post-war Japan. (With the realisation that abortion was completely acceptable then.) Also spotted Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Children in my Canadian cabin, which I started and finished later with a Kindle version. As I was unaware of a sequel to the fabulous Darwin’s Radio. Overall, I was almost as enthusiastic about it as I was with the first book, but obviously suffering from an academic bias as the author engages into speculative population genetics, which may prove too much for non-academics… (Imho, the end is wasted, though.) And (binge) read January Fifteenth on the flight back (leaving too early to sleep!), which is a short novel whose only speculative aspect is the move (by the US Government) to a universal basic income (UBI) for all individuals, and the consequences on several women’s live. This was indeed a very quick read, presumably due to the high proportion of dialogues, with (variably) interesting characters that avoid a direct take on the concept, but somewhat charicaturesque nonetheless. The implementation of the scheme is rather vaguely described: January 15 is the calendar day people pick their yearly UBI and they have to do it in person to avoid been coerced or scammed into transferring it to someone else. As someone rather interested in this societal propsal, this book did not modify my views on the concept or on its practical aspects, but shed light on some potential consequences of (one version of) it.

Had a great time in a Lac-Saint-Jean cabin, with direct access to the lake. Albeit requiring the emergency purchase of a neoprene swimming suit, as the temperature of the lake was rather low for extended swimming without it. But otherwise, having a swell time every morning, often running and swimming and biking. Before hiking. (The last week, farther south, next to a much smaller lake I could easily cross, did not require the suit!) Also appreciated very much the almost flat véliroute des Bleuets (blueberries) that run all around the lake (even though some sections are alas shared with cars). Has for instance an uninterrupted 15K connection to the nearest (genuine) bakery+cheese-mongery! Made an attempt at kouign amann, but using the wrong type of both flour and cassonade, plus an unknown oven and the poor substitute of baking soda for yeast predictably failed the experiment, even though the outcome was eatable (and eaten within a few days).

As usual (!), did not spot much wildlife, beyond groundhogs, pikas, squirrels, beavers and muskrats in our rental’s lake, moose tracks here and there, and a few Virginia deer in the Mauricie National Park. (Which made me realise that national and regional [Québec] parks co-existed in the area.) Had a few traditional hikes, reconnecting with Deet to keep mosquitoes and black flies at bay.

Watched nothing at all! In part due to my wife often borrowing my laptop for its Netflix connection, in part due to my early sleep caused by earlier rise, as light comes before 5am in this part of Québec we were staying, which made an ideal opportunity for very early run, swim, and… Biometrika editing!

abortion in Québec

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2022 by xi'an

bad news for reproductive rights

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2022 by xi'an

Last week, when reading about Japan [late in] coming close validating drug induced abortion, I found out that both surgical and medical abortions in Japan do require [by law] the consent of the woman’s partner! As denounced by both the World Health Organisation and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, this is an appalling restriction, a violation of reproductive rights, and  a potential tool for partner abuse.

And then came the news of Poland setting a database of pregnancies, reported by medical personnel. Which is of course worrying in a country where abortion is essentially illegal. As the über conservative Polish authorities could use the database to hunt and prosecute women who have self-administered abortions….

Meanwhile, Oklahoma governor just signed a law making abortion illegal at conception, following another law turning abortion practice into a felony… Not even waiting for the SCOTUS [likely] abrogation of Roe v. Wade.

put the data aside [SCOTUS v. evidence]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2022 by xi'an

Reposted from a Nature editorial:

(…) Moving in the opposite direction runs contrary to 50 years of research from around the world showing that abortion access is a crucial component of health care and is important for women’s equal participation in society. After the Supreme Court agreed to hear Mississippi’s case last year, Nature covered some of this evidence, submitted to the court by US scientific societies and more than 800 US researchers in public health, reproductive health, social sciences and economics, to the court in advance of the case’s hearing in December.

Some outcomes of outlawing abortion can be predicted by what’s known. Researchers expect overall infant and maternal health to decline in the United States in the wake of abortion bans, because more unintended pregnancies will be brought to term. Unintended pregnancies are associated with an increased risk of health problems for babies, and often for mothers, for several reasons — including reduced prenatal care.

Maternal health is also expected to decline overall. One straightforward reason is that the risks of dying from pregnancy-related causes are much greater than the risks of dying because of a legal abortion. A predicted rise in maternal mortality among Black women in the United States is particularly distressing, because the rate is already unacceptably high. In one study, sociologist Amanda Stevenson at the University of Colorado Boulder modelled a hypothetical situation in which abortions are banned throughout the United States, and found that the lifetime risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes for non-Hispanic Black women would rise from 1 in 1,300 to 1 in 1,000.

One claim made by abortion opponents in this case is that abortions no longer benefit women and even cause them harm, but dozens of studies contradict this. In just one, health economist Sarah Miller at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and her colleagues assessed around 560 women of comparable age and financial standing who sought abortions. They found that, five years after pregnancy, women who were denied the procedure had experienced a substantial increase in debt, bankruptcies, evictions and other dire financial events — whereas the financial standing of women who had received an abortion had remained stable or improved. A primary reason that women give for wanting an abortion is an inability to afford to raise the child, and this study suggests that they understand their own situations.

Abortion bans will extract an unequal toll on society. Some 75% of women who choose to have abortions are in a low income bracket and nearly 60% already have children, according to one court brief submitted ahead of the December hearing and signed by more than 150 economists. Travelling across state lines to receive care will be particularly difficult for people who do not have the funds for flights or the ability to take time off work, or who struggle to find childcare.

Unfortunately, some of the justices seem to be disregarding these data. At the December hearing, Julie Rikelman, a lawyer at the non-profit Center for Reproductive Rights, headquartered in New York City, brought up studies presented in the economists’ brief; Roberts interrupted her and suggested “putting that data aside”. In the leaked draft opinion, Alito also elides a body of research on abortion policy, writing that it’s “hard for anyone — and in particular for a court — to assess” the effect of the right to abortion on women’s lives.

Such an attitude suggests that the justices see research as secondary to the question of whether the US Constitution should protect abortion. But the outcome of this ruling isn’t an academic puzzle. The Supreme Court needs to accept that the consensus of research, knowledge and scholarship — the evidence on which societies must base their laws — shows how real lives hang in the balance. Already, the United States claims the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality among wealthy nations. Should the court overturn Roe v. Wade, these grim statistics will only get worse.

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