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Coercing Pregnancy

July 2, 2015 Comments off

Coercing Pregnancy
Source: William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law

Intimate partners coerce thousands of women in the United States into pregnancy each year through manipulation, threats of violence, or acts that deliberately interfere with the use of, or access to, contraception or abortion. Although many of these pregnancies occur within the context of otherwise abusive relationships, for others, pregnancy serves as a trigger for intimate partner violence. Beyond violence preceding or resulting from pregnancy, women who experience coerced pregnancies often suffer other physical, financial and emotional harms. Despite its correlation to domestic violence, reproductive coercion fits imperfectly, if at all, within our existing laws designed to combat domestic violence or rape. Although the harms of forced sex and, though to a slightly lesser extent, the harms of domestic violence, are well understood and accepted in our culture and our laws, the harm of experiencing a pregnancy through coercive acts remains largely invisible in both spheres, despite the prevalence of coerced pregnancies. This Article begins by filling in the missing narrative of reproductive coercion by exploring the social and legal contours of how women are coerced into pregnancy, the harms that can result, and the deep correlation between such acts and domestic violence. It then explores how our cultural and legal conflation of pregnancy with sex, motherhood and even abortion, limits our ability to isolate and understand the experience of pregnancy coercion. This Article concludes by considering how arming feminists and other advocates with an increased understanding of the interrelatedness between pregnancy, coercion, and intimate partner abuse can help to broaden domestic violence laws and policies, and reconceptualize pregnancy prevention as violence prevention.

Unhappy Meals: Sex Discrimination in Toy Choice at McDonald’s

July 2, 2015 Comments off

Unhappy Meals: Sex Discrimination in Toy Choice at McDonald’s
Source: William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law

This Essay reports on a commonplace form of sex discrimination that we unsuccessfully challenged in a lawsuit before the Connecticut Human Rights Commission. In a small-scale pilot study that we conducted 5 years ago (which was the basis of our initial complaint) and in a follow-up study conducted in 2013, we found that McDonald’s franchises, instead of asking drive-through customers ordering a Happy Meal about their toy preference, asked the customer for the sex of the customer’s child (“Is it for a boy or a girl?”) and then gave different types of toys for each sex. Moreover, our 2013 visits found that franchises treat unaccompanied children differently because of their sex. In 92.9% of the visits, the stores, without asking the child about her or his toy preference, just gave the toy that they had designated for that sex. Moreover, 42.8% of stores refused to offer opposite-sex toys even after the child reapproached the counter and affirmatively asked for an alternative. In the most egregious instance, a girl, after twice asking for a “boy’s toy,” was denied, even though the store a moment later had the “boy’s toy” in stock. These “fair counter” tests indicate that stores use discriminatory default, altering, and mandatory rules. They constitute strong prima facie evidence of disparate treatment on the basis of sex in the terms and conditions of contracting for a public accommodation. We also use our Happy Meal empiricism as a motivating example to explore the proper limits of civil rights law. While newspapers describing job listing as “male” or “female” have been found to be a per se civil rights violation, describing Happy Meal offerings as “boy’s toys” or “girl’s toys” may not, as a positive matter, offend courts’ current notion of equality.

Ethical Issues in the Big Data Industry

July 2, 2015 Comments off

Ethical Issues in the Big Data Industry (PDF)
Source: MIS Quarterly Executive (forthcoming)

Big Data combines information from diverse sources to create knowledge, make better predictions and tailor services. This article analyzes Big Data as an industry, not a technology, and identifies the ethical issues it faces. These issues arise from reselling consumers’ data to the secondary market for Big Data. Remedies for the issues are proposed, with the goal of fostering a sustainable Big Data Industry.

Public Accommodation Statutes and Sexual Orientation: Should There Be a Religious Exemption for Secular Businesses?

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Public Accommodation Statutes and Sexual Orientation: Should There Be a Religious Exemption for Secular Businesses?
Source: William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law

This Article examines the issue of whether there should be a religious exemption for secular businesses from public accommodation statutes that protect prospective patrons from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Article examines this issue in the context of protecting free exercise of religion versus offering services to all members of the public equally and without distinction. The Article concludes that the perceived threat to religious liberty posed by such statutes is exaggerated, that the consequences of granting exemptions would be harmful, and that state-sanctioned discrimination is contrary to the fundamental principles of justice and equality underlying the U.S. legal system.

Home Foreclosure, Health, and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Individual, Aggregate, and Contextual Associations

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Home Foreclosure, Health, and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Individual, Aggregate, and Contextual Associations
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
The U.S. foreclosure crisis intensified markedly during the Great Recession of 2007-09, and currently an estimated five percent of U.S. residential properties are more than 90 days past due or in the process of foreclosure. Yet there has been no systematic assessment of the effects of foreclosure on health and mental health.

Methods and Findings
I applied systematic search terms to PubMed and PsycINFO to identify quantitative or qualitative studies about the relationship between home foreclosure and health or mental health. After screening the titles and abstracts of 930 publications and reviewing the full text of 76 articles, dissertations, and other reports, I identified 42 publications representing 35 unique studies about foreclosure, health, and mental health. The majority of studies (32 [91%]) concluded that foreclosure had adverse effects on health or mental health, while three studies yielded null or mixed findings. Only two studies examined the extent to which foreclosure may have disproportionate impacts on ethnic or racial minority populations.

Conclusions
Home foreclosure adversely affects health and mental health through channels operating at multiple levels: at the individual level, the stress of personally experiencing foreclosure was associated with worsened mental health and adverse health behaviors, which were in turn linked to poorer health status; at the community level, increasing degradation of the neighborhood environment had indirect, cross-level adverse effects on health and mental health. Early intervention may be able to prevent acute economic shocks from eventually developing into the chronic stress of foreclosure, with all of the attendant benefits this implies for health and mental health status. Programs designed to encourage early return of foreclosed properties back into productive use may have similar health and mental health benefits.

Epidemiology of Ciguatera in Florida

July 1, 2015 Comments off

Epidemiology of Ciguatera in Florida
Source: American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Ciguatera is the most commonly reported marine food-borne illness worldwide. Because there is a biological plausibility that ciguatera may be impacted by long-term climate variability and Florida is on the northern border of the geographic distribution of ciguatera, it is important to update our understanding of its epidemiology in Florida. We performed an analysis of 291 reports in Florida from 2000 to 2011 and an e-mail survey of 5,352 recreational fishers to estimate incidence and underreporting and identify high risk demographic groups, fish types, and catch locations. Incidence was 5.6 per 100,000 adjusted for underreporting. Hispanics had the highest incidence rate (relative risk [RR] = 3.4) and were more likely to eat barracuda than non-Hispanics. The most common catch locations for ciguatera-causing fish were the Bahamas and Florida Keys. Cases caused by fish from northern Florida were infrequent. These results indicate that ciguatera incidence is higher than estimated from public health reports alone. There is little evidence that incidence or geographic range has increased because of increased seawater temperatures since earlier studies.

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Past Water Patterns Drive Present Wading Bird Numbers
Source: USGS/PLoS ONE

Wading bird numbers in the Florida Everglades are driven by water patterns that play out over multiple years according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and Florida Atlantic University. Previously, existing water conditions were seen as the primary driving factor affecting numbers of birds, but this research shows that the preceding years’ water conditions and availability are equally important.

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