Navigation Links
Study: Health undervalued in reproductive rights debate

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Women's health is increasingly undervalued in conflicts over reproductive rights, including clashes based on moral objections under so-called conscience clauses, a new study by a University of Illinois legal expert found.

Beth Burkstrand-Reid says a review of recent reproductive rights cases shows that judges may shortchange women's health when it is pitted against other legal interests, such as religious freedom, potentially leading to rulings that could put health at risk.

"Judges may understandably be reluctant to decide who wins in a battle between religious freedom, doctor's rights and women's health," she said. "As a result, they may downplay women's health as an interest, and thus fail to fully consider it in their decisions."

Burkstrand-Reid says women's health will remain at risk even if President Obama rescinds a federal conscience rule this month, as expected. Several states have their own laws on the books, she said, and others may consider legislation to fill the federal void.

"What we are seeing is a battle over whether laws should prioritize women's health or if by doing that the government is impermissibly impinging on moral or religious freedoms," she said. "I don't expect that this controversy will go away anytime soon."

Burkstrand-Reid's study, which will appear in the University of Colorado Law Review, found that some courts cite the availability of alternative reproductive health providers or services as proof that women's health will not suffer even in the face of laws that restrict reproductive health care.

That reasoning can be flawed, said Burkstrand-Reid, a visiting professor in the U. of I. College of Law who studies family and gender law.

She cited a ruling that allowed pharmacists to refuse to provide the morning-after pill under certain circumstances based on the judge's reasoning that other pharmacies in the area stocked the contraceptive, thus protecting women's health in the event of a druggist refusal.

But Burkstrand-Reid says the ruling failed to adequately consider the possibility that a woman could become pregnant because of the delay caused by a pharmacist's refusal, or that druggists at the other outlets might also refuse.

"When women need the morning-after pill, the clock is ticking to prevent pregnancy," she said. "In these situations, you can see a direct clash between women's health and assertions of religious freedom. Increased pharmacist refusal to provide contraception and other actions like it are exactly what reproductive health advocates fear happening nationwide if conscience clauses become the norm."

In another case, a judge upheld a law that would shutter a rural abortion provider, citing services available at another clinic 70 miles away as adequately protecting women's interests. But the ruling did not adequately consider factors such as costs or lack of transportation that could potentially delay the procedure and heighten risks, Burkstrand-Reid said.

Other cases blame women themselves when services are denied, such as when women are refused vaginal delivery and forced instead to have cesarean sections because judges reason they should have addressed that question sooner.

"We pay a lot of attention to questions concerning access to abortion, birth control and other reproductive services," Burkstrand-Reid said. "What we're not closely considering, however, is how those restrictions on access can impact women's health."


Contact: Jan Dennis
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related biology news :

1. Study: Fluid buildup in lungs is part of the damage done by the flu
2. UNC study: Tinkering with the circadian clock can suppress cancer growth
3. Study: Excessive use of antiviral drugs could aid deadly flu
4. Study: Did early climate impact divert a new glacial age?
5. UNC study: Text messaging may help children fight off obesity
6. Study: Elderly Women can increase strength but still risk falls
7. Study: Wildlife need more complex travel plans
8. Study: Tropical wetlands hold more carbon than temperate marshes
9. Study: Bird diversity lessens human exposure to West Nile Virus
10. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
11. Study: Typhoons bury tons of carbon in the oceans
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... Paris from 17 th until 19 th ... from 17 th until 19 th November 2015.   ... the first combined scanner in the world which scans both ... two different scanners were required: one for passports and one ... same surface. This innovation is an ideal solution for electronic ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... Nov. 12, 2015  A golden retriever that stayed ... dystrophy (DMD) has provided a new lead for treating ... the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the ... . Cell, pinpoints a protective ... the disease,s effects. The Boston Children,s lab of ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... 2015 About signature verification ... to identify and verify the identity of an ... the secure and accurate method of authentication and ... individual because each individual,s signature is highly unique. ... dynamic signature of an individual is compared and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific ... contract research organisation (CRO) market. The trend of ... in lower margins but higher volume share for ... capacity and scale, however, margins in the CRO ... Organisation (CRO) Market ( ), finds ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Copper is an essential ... bound to proteins, copper is also toxic to cells. With a $1.3 million ... (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of copper in the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... PHILADELPIA, PA (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... young entrepreneurs at competitive events in five states to develop and pitch their BIG ... student projects from each state are competing for votes to win the title of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QUEBEC CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... (the "Company") announced today that the remaining 11,000 ... Common Share Purchase Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") ... agreement were exercised on November 23, 2015, which ... Common Shares.  After giving effect to the issuance ...
Breaking Biology Technology: