TV & Radio
Male hormones not tied to women's libido
Tue Jul 5, 4:43 PM ET - Reuters
Although recent reports have apparently shown that testosterone seems to affect women's interest in sex, their levels of male hormones -- androgens -- are not clearly tied to sexual function, according to a report in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.
It has been theorized that low androgen levels are, at least in part, to blame when a woman has little interest or enjoyment in sex, but supporting evidence for this notion has been lacking, Dr. Susan R. Davis, from Monash University in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues note.
The researchers assessed sexual function and measured levels of various androgens in 1021 randomly selected women who were free of any thyroid disorder, did not have polycystic ovarian disease, and were not taking any psychiatric medication. A standard questionnaire, the Profile of Female Sexual Function (PFSF), was administered to all the participants.
No androgen measurement was associated with any area of the PFSF assessment, the team reports.
By contrast, a low level of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) did correlate with low sexual desire, arousal, and responsiveness -- but the majority of women with low DHEAS levels did not have low sexual function.
The results contradict the idea of using testosterone to treat low sexual desire disorder, the researchers conclude.
Rather, they say that, taken together with what is already known, the results suggest that "sex steroids influence female sexual function," but that there is no specific level of androgens in women that can be classified as a deficiency.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, July 6, 2005.
Washington Post Editorial
Sensible Sex Education
Monday, July 4, 2005; Page A16
THE LEGAL offensive against changes to Montgomery County's sex education curriculum is over. For now.
In May, the two groups leading the charge, Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum -- a group formed specifically for this fight -- and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, sued for a temporary restraining order to block a trial in six schools of the revised "family life and human sexuality" unit. The Montgomery County School Board settled the lawsuit with a promise that teachers would not discuss specific religious beliefs regarding sexuality. The board also agreed to pay $36,000 for the groups' legal fees -- a reasonable decision when weighed against the likelihood of a protracted court battle costing the school system hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And so the process begins anew. This time, the school board has asked the superintendent to ensure that every detail of the updated curriculum is legally airtight and educationally sound. One of the casualties of the restraining order was a video produced by the county school system to educate students on the correct way to use a condom. We hope the superintendent and the school board will see fit to include it again this time around. In addition to giving vital information to sexually active teens -- sandwiched between messages reinforcing the fact that abstinence is the only completely safe option -- the video saves teachers the embarrassment of demonstrating prophylactic technique. To its credit, the board has committed to adding the subject of sexual orientation to the course, a change from the current policy that allows it to be addressed briefly only in response to students' specific questions.
Let's be clear: The changes involve only one unit of the health education course for eighth- and 10th-graders, amounting to just 90 minutes -- two class periods -- of instruction. As required by Maryland law, a citizens advisory committee will consult with educators developing the revisions. Parents have the option to review course material, and they must give written consent before their children can take part. Parents who withhold consent may choose from three substitutions to the standard curriculum: an abstinence-only unit; a lesson on stress management, nutrition or a similarly benign subject; or an independent study on a health topic designated by the parent.
Meanwhile, students whose parents have no objections to the course will get accurate information about sexual orientation, abstinence, and preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. We think that the school board is right to include this information in a sex education course, but the alternatives provided are more than adequate for those who disagree.
Abortion issue rallies conservatives, liberals ahead of Supreme Court fight Wed Jul 6, 3:51 AM ET - AFP
The perennial battle over abortion rights in the United States is galvanizing conservative and liberal activists, who are hoping to influence President George W. Bush's choice to fill a newly-vacated US Supreme Court seat.
For decades, a deep ideological rift over a woman's right to end an unwanted pregnancy has cleaved this country into two powerful, and equally-impassioned camps.
Conservatives, who turned out in record numbers to cast votes last November for the Republican president, see in the retirement of moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor a historic chance to reshape the nine-member high court, and fulfill a fervent wish to overturn the watershed Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case which guaranteed women the right to an abortion.
Liberals, meanwhile, have sternly warned Bush not to name an "extremist" to the court and have vowed to put up a fierce fight to safeguard the right to legal abortion.
With a Supreme Court seat now open for the first time in more than a decade, groups on both sides of the bitter abortion divide have said they are planning to spend millions to lobby Congress and the White House, and to rally their supporters.
Political observers predicted Armaggedon once the fight to replace O'Connor is joined in earnest, with dozens of political groups expected to play a role.
"I think we're in for a pretty partisan battle," said Orrin Hatch, a conservative US senator and longserving member of the powerful Senate Judiciary committee that will vet US President George W. Bush's eventual Supreme Court nominee.
The debate also is expect to further polarize an already-divided US Senate which will be called upon to confirm the president's pick.
"He said he's going to pick a strong conservative, and I think that's going to cause a battle no matter what," Hatch told ABC television Tuesday.
Even before O'Connor announced her departure, the conservative Progress for America group last month launched a 700,000-dollar fundraising effort, hoping to beat back "liberal attack groups ... hungry to smear almost any potential candidate for the Supreme Court who doesn't meet their left-wing, extemist litmus test."
Likewise, the Family Research Council said on its website that it is "primed for the fight it will take to confirm a nominee," and vowed to mobilize 20,000 churches across the nation to lobby for a conservative justice.
Liberal groups were equally motivated: The pro-choice Feminist Majority sounded the alarm within hours of O'Connor announcing her retirement.
"This is it! The worst has happened with the resignation of Sandra Day OConnor," the group said on its website.
"Let there be no mistake about it: Sandra Day OConnor was the fifth vote that was saving Roe vs. Wade," the group said in a dire warning to its supporters.
"Abortion rights and womens rights are on the line."
Another liberal group, MoveOn.org said on its website that it aimed to deliver 300,000 petition signatures by Tuesday to the US Senate, asking lawmakers to help preserve the right to end a pregnancy.
And the left-leaning "Ms." magazine this month warned its readers that "rolling back reproductive rights is only the first act in a nightmare scenario that could come to pass if right-wing judges take over the federal courts and the nations highest court."
Bush said in a newspaper interview published Tuesday that he expected to have a new justice on the bench by October, and already had identified "a good-sized" number of prospects.
The US president called on partisan groups to tone down the heated rhetoric, insisting in an interview USA Today that he is immune to the high-intensity lobbying.
"I feel no pressure, except the pressure to put somebody on the bench who will bring dignity to the office, somebody who's got the intellect necessary to do the job, somebody of great integrity and somebody who will faithfully interpret the Constitution," Bush said.
Bush denounces court wars, rules out 'litmus test'
By Steve Holland
Wednesday July 6, 2005 - Reuters
President Bush on Wednesday said he will not choose his Supreme Court candidate based on their position on specific issues such as abortion or gay marriage.
"I'll pick people who ... will strictly interpret the constitution and not use the bench to legislate from," he said.
Under pressure from opposing activists to pick someone who would either uphold abortion or work to outlaw it, and legalize or outlaw gay marriage, Bush ruled out any such "litmus test" in making his choice.
"There will be no litmus test," he said, repeating his position during his 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns.
Bush also called on activists of the left and right to lower the tone over whom he should pick in his first nomination to the nine-judge court, an appointment which is for an unlimited term.
Bush urged U.S. senators, who must confirm his choice, not to listen to special interest groups "on the extremes" whom he accused of exploiting the court battle to advance their causes and raise money.
"This is an opportunity for good public servants to exhibit a civil discourse on a very important matter and not let these groups ... dictate the rhetoric, the tone," said Bush, who was celebrating his 59th birthday.
At a joint news conference with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Bush also defended his attorney general, fellow Texan Alberto Gonzales, against criticism from conservatives that he is too moderate to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.
Conservatives have mounted a campaign against Gonzales, a former White House counsel and long-time Bush aide who has been mentioned as a possible replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Gonzales is among a handful of advisers on the Supreme Court choice, but it was unclear whether he is among the more than half a dozen candidates Bush is considering for the job.
"I don't like it when a friend gets criticized," Bush said when asked to respond to the attacks on Gonzales.
"I'm loyal to my friends. And all of a sudden this fellow who is a good public servant and a really fine person is under fire. And so, do I like it? No, I don't like it -- at all."
Bush, in Denmark ahead of attending a Group of Eight (G8) summit in Scotland, said he wants his choice confirmed by the Senate by the time the Supreme Court reconvenes in October.
Whoever he nominates will be the subject of a political battle back home.
O'Connor was a swing vote and her departure gives Bush and conservatives an opportunity to shift the court to the right on social issues like abortion, affirmative action and civil liberties.
But Democrats and interest groups on the left promise a fight to block any nominee they view as too conservative.
(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria)
Bush: Abortion Won't Decide Court Nominee
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday July 6, 2005
President Bush, during his stop in Denmark before heading to the G-8 summit, said Wednesday he will not select a Supreme Court nominee based on his or her views on abortion or other hot-button political issues.
He urged senators to act "in a dignified way" in what is expected to be a contentious battle over confirming his first nominee to the nation's highest court.
Bush visited this Scandinavian nation to thank Danes for sending troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also strongly defended his decisions on Iraq, climate change, imprisoned terrorism suspects and aid to Africa — all of which have made him unpopular in Europe.
"I understand that people aren't going to agree with decisions I make," Bush said as he stood alongside Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen outside a white mansion that serves as his official summer residence. "I truly believe we're laying the foundation for peace."
Bush made his fourth trip to Europe this year just days after Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement. The president said that as he reviews candidates to replace her, "I'll try to assess their character, their interests."
Bush said he would have no "litmus test" that disqualifies candidates because of their opinions on abortion and gay marriage.
"I'll pick people who, one, can do the job, and people who are honest, people who are bright and people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not use the bench to legislate from," Bush said.
Bush spent a few hours reviewing material on more than a half dozen potential replacements for O'Connor on his flight to Denmark. He has said that he will spend a few weeks narrowing a list of candidates and then interviewing some, and his goal is to see a new justice in place by the time the court begins its new term in October.
"I will take my time," Bush said. "I will be thorough in my investigation."
Bush bristled at criticism of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a longtime friend who is often mentioned as a potential nominee for the high court. Conservatives said they aren't convinced Gonzales' beliefs on affirmative action and abortion are far enough to the right for their liking.
"I don't like it when a friend gets criticized," Bush said. "I'm loyal to my friends.
"And all the sudden this fella, who is a good public servant and a really fine person, is under fire," Bush said. "And so do I like it? No, I don't like it. At all."
Bush spent his 59th birthday here to thank Denmark for the several hundred troops the Scandinavian nation has contributed to the U.S.-led fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Outside Fredensborg Palace, where Bush had lunch with Queen Margrethe II and her husband, a group of people held small U.S. and Danish flags — and a large banner proclaiming, "Happy Birthday George." A smaller group held several protest banners urging U.S. and Danish withdrawal from Iraq and "Peace."
Fogh Rasmussen said the Danes were glad to help with both missions.
"We share the belief that freedom is universal and we share the belief that in the struggle between democracy and dictatorship you cannot stay neutral," the prime minister said.
After lunch with Queen Margrethe and about 50 other guests, Bush headed for a summit of rich nations in Scotland where discussion about the world's changing climate and aid to Africa were at the top of the agenda.
Bush said he is proud of his administration's tripling of U.S. aid to Africa, and his decision to double aid again by 2010. But his pledge still falls short of the commitment sought by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the summit host.
On climate change, Bush said warming temperatures are partly caused by manmade emissions. But he renewed his objection to the international Kyoto Protocol that mandates certain reductions.
"I think there's a better way forward," Bush said. "I would call it the post-Kyoto era, where we can work together to share technologies, to control greenhouse gases as best as possible."
On the Net:
White House: http://www.whitehouse.gov
State Department background note on Denmark: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3167.htm
Future of abortion uncertain
With Supreme Court vacancy, activists on both sides mobilize
By Judy Peres
Tribune staff reporter - Chicago Tribune
July 5, 2005
With the future of abortion law hanging on the next few Supreme Court appointments, the resignation of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has pushed activists on both sides of the national divide into high gear.
"Abortion rights and women's rights are on the line," said a mass fundraising e-mail sent out by the Feminist Majority over the weekend, while the liberal lobby MoveOn.org said it aimed to deliver 250,000 signatures by Tuesday on an emergency petition asking U.S. senators to help preserve the right to terminate a pregnancy.
At the same time, the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, said it would mobilize 20,000 churches across the country in an attempt to change the direction of the court. Another conservative group called Progress for America launched an $18 million advertising campaign in support of new justices who would overturn rulings it opposes. Chief among those is Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.
With the better part of four years left in George W. Bush's presidency, and the possible replacement of several justices in that time, abortion foes hope--and abortion-rights advocates fear--that Bush will change the court's balance.
A more conservative court might well vote to overturn Roe, abortion-rights and civil-liberties groups have warned. Abortions then would quickly become illegal in some states, they say, and Congress would be free to pass a federal law banning the procedure in every state.
But it is far more likely, observers say, that opponents will continue to whittle away at the edges, restricting access to abortion where they can.
In order to overturn Roe, legal and political experts say, at least two solidly anti-abortion justices would have to be nominated and confirmed. Then the right case would have to come along. Even then, experts say, Supreme Court justices with lifetime appointments do not always vote as expected. Also, justices in general are reluctant to overturn well-established law.
"What are the chances of [overturning Roe] in the next four years?" asked Bill Beckman, executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee. "It's a possibility, but it's not certain by any means."
Beckman said the court in its current composition has only three sure votes to overturn Roe--Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Rehnquist, 80, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer late last year, also is expected by many to retire in the near future. But his replacement likely would not change the voting lineup.
"We'd need to replace two others in order to replace the 6-3 pro-abortion majority with a 5-4 pro-life majority," Beckman said. O'Connor's resignation gives Bush the chance to move in that direction, he added.
Activists on the other side say the current majority supporting the right to an abortion is a slim 5-4 in some cases, because Justice Anthony Kennedy has been a swing vote. But even they concede that Bush would need a third appointment in addition to O'Connor and Rehnquist to reverse Roe altogether.
O'Connor has been one of the five sure votes in favor of Roe. The others are those of Justices David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens.
Doing the math
"If two of those are replaced--or if Kennedy is replaced along with one of the five--you could have a flip on Roe," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. But Bush "has to replace only one of them with an anti-choice justice to tip the majority toward upholding much more restrictive regulation on abortion."
For example, when the Supreme Court struck down Nebraska's ban on "partial-birth abortion" in 2000, the vote was 5-4. Without O'Connor, such bans could be upheld in the future.
To forestall that, NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of the leading abortion-rights groups, is mobilizing the 800,000 members of its "Choice Action Network." The group's 30,000 "rapid responders" sprang into action over the weekend to organize efforts including telephone and letter-writing campaigns to the Senate and the news media.
The liberal People for the American Way sent out 1 million communications last week warning that the high court would turn back 40 years of constitutional law--including Roe and the right to use birth control--if Bush succeeds in appointing more justices like Scalia and Thomas.
The other side also has launched a huge public relations and advertising effort, including television and radio spots, rallies, news conferences and mass mailings.
Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group, said it recently sent out an "action letter" to about 1.2 million supporters, asking them to help get conservative justices appointed to the Supreme Court.
A spokesman said the group also planned to run newspaper and radio ads in select states urging people to contact their senators.
Whether or not Roe is overturned, advocates on both sides of the issue believe federal and state lawmakers will keep trying to limit access to abortion where they can.
Roe vs. Wade, which has been affirmed several times since it was handed down 32 years ago, said states may not prohibit a woman from getting an abortion in the first two trimesters of her pregnancy. Even in the third trimester, when the fetus is assumed to be viable outside the mother's body, abortion may not be banned if the woman's life or health is at risk.
Legislative attempts to ban specific abortion procedures, such as one opponents call "partial-birth abortion," have been ruled unconstitutional because they violate the principles in Roe. Likewise, some restrictions--notably spousal consent for married women--have been struck down as overly burdensome. But others have been allowed to stand, and lawmakers continue to expand on those restrictions.
Abortion right eroded
Colleen Connell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said reproductive freedom can be curtailed without overturning Roe. That freedom "has been eroded in substantial ways since Roe and [despite] its many affirmations," she said.
The 1976 Hyde Amendment eliminated federal Medicaid reimbursement for elective abortions. Most states (but not Illinois) require parental consent or notification in a minor's abortion decision. Many have mandatory waiting periods and state-scripted counseling. And, outside large cities, access is a major problem: Nearly 90 percent of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider.
"All of those combine to make it more difficult" for women, especially young and low-income women, to get an abortion, Connell said.
Not everyone is convinced Bush really wants to overturn Roe.
"The Republican Party is an unstable coalition," said Andrew Koppelman, professor of law and political science at Northwestern University. "It includes both the religious right and people who are not at all religious but are interested in keeping themselves prosperous and their taxes low. If you tell those people they or their daughters can't get abortions if they get pregnant, they're likely to start thinking about voting Democratic.
"If Roe were reversed," he added, "every Republican at every level of government would have to decide if they want to act to criminalize abortion. Whatever you do will disgust one large group of your supporters."
Koppelman noted, "There would be real political costs to appointing . . . a real right-to-life firebrand to replace anyone other than Rehnquist."
But some political observers think Bush will appoint an individual who is acceptable to the conservative wing of the party.
"I think he's going to go for broke on this," said Democratic political consultant David Axelrod. "The religious right has an enormous influence on this administration. I think there's a strong expectation on their part he'll appoint anti-choice judges who would undo Roe."
Axelrod said the Republicans' strategy in the 2004 election was essentially to play to their conservative base.
"If you have a base-oriented strategy," he added, "you want to keep that base by maintaining a consistent and aggressive position" on issues important to it.
Abortion is an extremely divisive issue, but how people line up depends on how the question is asked.
According to the ACLU's Connell, polls consistently show that a majority of Americans believe that the decision on whether to carry a pregnancy to term should be that of the woman, not the government.
"If you ask whether they think abortion should be legal in cases of rape or when there's risk to the woman's health, you get high numbers," Connell said. "If you ask whether it should be legal for reasons like she wants to finish her education or she doesn't want any more children, the majority is smaller."
London wins Olympics; gay athletes celebrate
Ben Townley, Gay.com UK
Wednesday 6 July, 2005 13:37
The UK's lesbian and gay community are joining the chorus of celebration today, after London won the chance to stage the 2012 Olympic Games.
The announcement, made earlier today, came after months of growing support for the bid, which was believed to be a close second to Paris throughout the process.
The 116 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made their vote in Singapore, backing the capital as the choice for the games.
Those who had been working to engage directly with the capital's LGB community said they were "thrilled" with the result.
Ivan Bussens, the LGBT ambassador for the 2012 bid said the win was vital for bringing people together.
"The Olympics are a unique opportunity for the country and all communities in the capital. In the spirit of the Olympic movement, our win brings people together in friendship and will also inspire people for generations to come," he told Gay.com UK.
"I applaud the London 2012 bid team for their broad inclusion of minority communities - including LGBT communities - in their superb bid success."
Fellow 2012 ambassador Allison Livingstone-Whitton told Gay.com UK that the Games would allow lesbian and gay people to become more involved in sport.
She said she was "thrilled and emotional" at the result.
Acknowledging that the city had been slower to "get in the groove of support", she said the capital's diverse communities were now backing the event.
"My role was to communicate with the LGBT community," she said.
"No previous Olympics has gone out of its way to reach LGBT people. At 2012, we are making a commitment to diversity and showing that every community that lives in this great city counts."
She added that the event will bring in people from across the UK, and help ensure the country has a bedrock of talent for the future.
"The Olympic Games have to leave a legacy. The legacy of 2012 will be athletes from across the country will have a chance," she said.
"Our young people wherever they are, will be able to reach their highest level in sport."
Her comments were echoed by Athens Olympic Games' only gay Team GB athlete, Rob Newton.
The 24-year-old hurdler said the event would help improve facilities for young people.
"Hopefully it will spur on youngsters to get involved in sport," he told Gay.com UK.
"We need them to get involved, so we can produce more champions. This news is absolutely fantastic."
Newton is confident that he will see success at London 2012.
"I should be at my peak by then, so I'm really looking forward to training and hopefully taking part," he said.
Power lifter Chris Morgan said it was a "wonderful opportunity for this wonderful city".
Morgan, the most successful out British athlete competing, said he was hoping his sport would be added to the Olympic Games by 2012.
"It's every athlete's dream to compete in the Olympic Games," he said, adding that he "can't imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like".
"This is a chance to motivate people to enjoy sport, motivate athletes to do well and motivate gay athletes to push harder," he said.
The effects of 2012 he said will be felt across the UK.
"This will have a knock-on effect on the whole country. The games legacy is all about enjoying sport and getting a younger generation into sport."
"The fact we will do that has won us the competition."
London 2012 will take place in the eastern area of the capital and will see the regeneration of a vast expanse of space.
London beat Paris in the final round of the bidding process, after Madrid, New York and Moscow also fell out of the race.
◆同性愛カップルが結婚届提出 (民団新聞 2005/07/06)
異文化結婚 境界を越える試み [編著]ローズマリー・ブレーガー、ロザンナ・ヒル
[評者]多賀幹子 - 朝日
[評者]巽孝之 - 朝日