China’s Demand for Brides Draws Women from Across Southeast Asia—Sometimes by Force

“Every year, women and girls from Southeast Asia move to China, sometimes by force or coercion, to marry Chinese men, care for them, and bear children. While many migrate voluntarily, knowing that they are to be married, an unknown number of women from countries including Cambodia, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Indonesia, and Vietnam are deceived or trapped in their situations. Similarly, although some women are happy in their marriages, others are exposed to violence, sexual abuse, and forced labor.
China’s historical one-child policy (which formally ended in 2016), coupled with a cultural preference for sons, has led to a gender imbalance there, which is one reason for this migration. The country had about 35 million more males than females, according to the 2020 census. Moreover, arranged marriages are common, creating the opportunity for exploitation. Men looking for foreign brides tend to be poorer by Chinese standards yet may pay brokers or matchmakers several thousand dollars—and sometimes more than U.S. $40,000, according to researchers. The expectation for men to marry and produce a son is one reason for the dramatic increase in bride prices. The many men who are unable to find wives in China often face social pressures and a degree of public sympathy, as do their families, which contributes to normalizing the process of paying for brides.”

https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/china-bride-migration-trafficking

Romantic norms are in flux. No wonder everyone’s obsessed with polyamory.

“There’s currently a record-high share of 40-year-old Americans who’ve never been married (25 percent, as of 2021, an increase from 20 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 1980), and according to a Pew Center study last year, only 23 percent of Americans see marriage as essential for living a fulfilling life. More than half of single Americans say they aren’t looking for a relationship or even casual dates, largely because they enjoy singlehood or have more pressing priorities. The birthrate has been steadily falling since the Great Recession, which the Brookings Institution argues stems from “shifting priorities” rather than political or economic changes. Young people are having sex later; from 1991 to 2015, a CDC survey found that the percentage of high schoolers who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 percent to 41 percent. The reasons people are having less sex, according to the viral “sex recession” Atlantic feature from 2018, range from smartphone access to surveillance culture, gamified online dating, and improved awareness of boundaries and gender politics. In other words, it’s likely a variety of cultural shifts that explain these changes rather than a single silver bullet.”

“the pro-marriage cohort is getting louder. They cite studies that show married people are happier and wealthier, and are more likely to raise happy children. New York Times columnist David Brooks last year advised young people to “obsess less about your career and to think a lot more about marriage.” Economist Melissa Kearney’s recent book argues that the falling marriage rate is to blame for rising inequality. In the face of greater political polarization between the sexes (young women are increasingly likely to be liberal, young men conservative), a recent Washington Post op-ed suggested that “someone will need to compromise” if they ever hope to marry. (Left unasked was why, say, a woman in a post-Roe world would ever want to date someone who did not think she deserved autonomy over her own body.) Loudest among them is University of Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox’s book Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization, which claims that liberal thought leaders’ denial of the importance of marriage amounts to “an unusual form of hypocrisy that, however well intended, contributes to American inequality, increases misery, and borders on the immoral.””

https://www.vox.com/culture/24078524/polyamory-open-marriage-anxiety

The Fifth Circuit just made it even more dangerous to be pregnant in a red state

“a notoriously right-wing federal appeals court attempted to rewrite a federal law that, among other things, requires most US hospitals to provide abortions to patients who are experiencing a medical emergency if a doctor determines that an abortion will stabilize the patient.
The case is Texas v. Becerra, and all three of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s judges who joined this opinion were appointed by Republicans. Two, including Kurt Engelhardt, the opinion’s author, were appointed by former President Donald Trump.

The case involves the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a federal statute requiring hospitals that accept Medicare funds to provide “such treatment as may be required to stabilize the medical condition” of “any individual” who arrives at the hospital’s ER with an “emergency medical condition.” (In limited circumstances, the hospital may transfer the patient to a different facility that will provide this stabilizing treatment.)

EMTALA contains no carve-out for abortion. It simply states that, whenever any patient arrives at a Medicare-funded hospital with a medical emergency, the hospital must offer that patient whatever treatment is necessary to “stabilize the medical condition” that caused the emergency. So, if a patient’s emergency condition can only be stabilized by an abortion, federal law requires nearly all hospitals to provide that treatment. (Hospitals can opt out of EMTALA by not taking Medicare funds but, because Medicare funds health care for elderly Americans, very few hospitals do opt out.)

This federal law, moreover, also states that it overrides (or “preempts,” to use the appropriate legal term) state and local laws “to the extent that the [state law] directly conflicts with a requirement of this section.” So, in states with sweeping abortion bans that prohibit some or all medically necessary abortions, the state law must give way to EMTALA’s requirement that all patients must be offered whatever treatment is necessary to stabilize their condition.”

“when an emergency room patient presents with a life-threatening illness or condition — or, in the words of the EMTALA statute, that patient has a condition that places their health “in serious jeopardy,” that threatens “serious impairment to bodily functions,” or “serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part” — then Medicare-funded hospitals must provide whatever treatment is necessary.

The Texas case, in other words, asks whether a state government can force a woman to die, or suffer lasting injury to her uterus or other reproductive organs, because the state’s lawmakers are so opposed to abortion that they will not permit it, even when such an abortion is required by federal law.

And yet, despite the fact that the EMTALA statute is unambiguous, and despite the fact that this case only involves patients whose life or health is threatened by a pregnancy, three Fifth Circuit judges told those patients that they have no right to potentially lifesaving medical care.”

https://www.vox.com/scotus/2024/1/3/24023889/abortion-supreme-court-emtala-fifth-circuit-texas-becerra

Pregnancy care deserts are growing. Indigenous babies are at risk.

“Many providers like Balay see an obvious link between rising congenital syphilis rates and sparse access to obstetric care (i.e., care for pregnant people, also called maternity or prenatal care). That’s largely because, historically, prenatal care is where syphilis transmission to a fetus has been interrupted. Testing is standard in prenatal care, and all but eight states require syphilis testing during pregnancy.
The problem is simple, as Balay explains. “There just is not enough obstetric care,” she said. And as prenatal care becomes increasingly scarce, so do opportunities to catch and treat syphilis.

Balay is not alone in thinking that scarcity helps explain what’s happening with congenital syphilis, especially among Indigenous Americans.

In a recent CDC report, 37 percent of US babies with syphilis were born to parents who didn’t get timely syphilis testing during pregnancy. But that number was higher, 47 percent, when the parents were American Indian. And most of those parents who didn’t get timely testing didn’t get any prenatal care at all.

In rural states, increasingly inadequate maternity care access is making intensified mother-to-child syphilis transmission all but inevitable. That puts Indigenous women and their newborns at especially high risk.”

“One of the most promising solutions to South Dakota’s maternal care scarcity problem got a boost last year when the state’s voters approved an initiative to expand Medicaid beginning in early 2023. The expansion means more than 52,000 of the state’s residents are newly insured, which shifts the costs of their care from IHS to a better-funded federal program. It also means that hospitals caring for these patients will get paid more for the care they provide to the thousands of tribal residents newly covered by Medicaid. And most importantly to patients, expansion will make it more financially feasible to get the care they need.”

https://www.vox.com/health/2024/1/3/24010263/pregnancy-maternity-prenatal-care-deserts-rural-syphilis-indigenous-women-babies-south-dakota

One Texas case shows why women can’t rely on legal exceptions to abortion bans

“The Texas Supreme Court has ruled against Kate Cox, a 31-year-old woman who sought an abortion in the state. Previously, Cox argued that the lethal condition impacting her fetus and health risks she’d face during the pregnancy meant she qualified for the exemptions outlined in Texas’s abortion ban. The court decision, which comes after Cox left Texas to obtain an abortion, sets a disturbing new precedent in a state that already has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country.
It’s a notable ruling because it further narrows what Texas law considers medical exceptions to its abortion ban, and could have implications for other states with similar policies. Currently, abortion is broadly banned in the state, and there are limited exceptions for conditions that endanger the life of the mother or that cause “substantial impairment” of bodily functions. Given how opaque the law is, it was not clear exactly what those exceptions entailed, and though the court didn’t explicitly clarify that ambiguity in its ruling, its decision suggests that health challenges like those Cox faced — including risks to future pregnancies — don’t qualify for the exemption.

“Some difficulties in pregnancy … even serious ones, do not pose the heightened risks to the mother the exception encompasses,” the court concluded, noting that Cox’s doctor hadn’t effectively affirmed that the complications she could face — including threats to future fertility — reached the threshold for an exception to the ban.

The justices also maintained existing uncertainty when it came to providers’ prerogative to conduct abortions in the state. Some providers have refrained from giving abortion care due to fear of legal consequences: Medical professionals found in violation of Texas’s abortion law can face up to 99 years in prison as well as large fines, while those who are found to have aided in providing abortion access can face civil suits.

The court ruled that the decision about whether a condition constituted a medical emergency, and thus qualified for an exemption, should be left up to physicians and not the courts. “Under the law, it is a doctor who must decide that a woman is suffering from a life-threatening condition during a pregnancy, raising the necessity for an abortion to save her life or to prevent impairment of a major bodily function,” the decision reads. The court didn’t resolve the legal tension inherent in the fact that Cox’s doctor felt an abortion was warranted in her case while the court said it was not.”

https://www.vox.com/23997727/kate-cox-texas-abortion-ban

The unconstitutional plan to stop women from traveling out of state for an abortion, explained

“a few jurisdictions in Texas are now breaking with this consensus. As the Washington Post reports, two Texas counties and two Texas cities have passed local ordinances making it illegal to transport someone through one of these counties or cities for the purpose of obtaining an out-of-state abortion.
Notably, this list of anti-abortion localities includes Mitchell County, Texas, a sparse community of about 9,000 people. This matters because Interstate 20, the route that many people traveling from Dallas to New Mexico to receive an abortion will take, passes through Mitchell County. Several other counties with major highways or airports are also considering similar laws.

These ordinances and proposed ordinances largely track model legislation, which anti-abortion activist Mark Lee Dickson shared on Twitter, that is itself modeled after SB 8 — the statewide anti-abortion law that allows private bounty hunters to sue abortion providers and collect bounties of $10,000 or more.

In fairness, Dickson’s model legislation does prohibit such bounty hunter suits from being filed against “the pregnant woman who seeks to abort her unborn child.” But the legislation would potentially allow abortion funds that help pay for abortion care, or anyone who drives a pregnant patient to an out-of-state abortion clinic, to be sued.

Ordinarily, Kavanaugh’s preemptive rejection of travel bans would be a clear sign that these laws will not survive judicial review. But, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson (2021), the Supreme Court effectively shut down federal lawsuits challenging unconstitutional laws that are enforced solely by bounty hunters. And Kavanaugh joined the Court’s decision in Jackson.

The upshot is that these unconstitutional Texas ordinances may succeed, not because they are lawful but because the Supreme Court has largely immunized them from constitutional review.”

https://www.vox.com/23868962/texas-abortion-travel-ban-unconstitutional

Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalizes abortion nationwide

“Mexico’s Supreme Court threw out all federal criminal penalties for abortion Wednesday, ruling that national laws prohibiting the procedure are unconstitutional and violate women’s rights in a sweeping decision that extended Latin America’s trend of widening abortion access.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/09/06/mexico-supreme-court-decriminalizes-abortion-nationwide-00114327