Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Today, Nia-Malika Henderson highlights this recent study finding that the abortion rate has reached its lowest point since 1973. The reason for the decline, however, is not so clear. As Henderson explains at WaPo's She The People:
Abortion opponents are pointing to a slew of measures across the country that have restricted abortion access, including mandating sonograms before the procedure and banning abortions after 20 weeks. Data suggest that abortion rates were actually dropping before some of the restrictions were put in place.
Abortion rights activists say women are taking greater advantage of birth control. They argue it’s important that women still have the rights to make choices about their reproductive health with their doctors and their families.
The study didn’t give reasons for the new finding–17 abortions for every 1,000 women in 2011, a 13 percent drop since 2008–but suggested that the economic downturn and better use of contraception are possible factors.
But what exactly do these numbers mean for the political conversation around abortion?
CRL&P related posts:
Monday, January 13, 2014
The New York Times's Adam Liptak reports today on McCullen v. Coakley, on which the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this Wednesday. The Court is tasked with determining the constitutionality of Massachusetts's law prohibiting anti-abortion protesters from entering a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics--a challenge to the Court's 2000 decision in Hill v. Colorado. The title of this post comes from Liptak's article, which begins:
A couple of mornings a week, Eleanor McCullen stakes out a spot outside the Planned Parenthood clinic here and tries to persuade women on their way in to think twice before having an abortion.
But she has to watch her step. If she crosses a painted yellow semicircle outside the clinic’s entrance, she commits a crime under a 2007 Massachusetts law.
Early last Wednesday, bundled up against the 7-degree cold, Ms. McCullen said she found the line to be intimidating, frustrating and a violation of her First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in her challenge to the law.
The state’s attorney general, Martha Coakley, who is the lead defendant in the suit, said the 35-foot buffer zone created by the 2007 law was a necessary response to an ugly history of harassment and violence at abortion clinics in Massachusetts, including a shooting rampage at two facilities in 1994.
“This law is access balanced with speech balanced with public safety,” Ms. Coakley said. “It has worked extremely well.”
Last week, CRL&P commented on Floyd Abrams's related op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
Monday, January 6, 2014
On January 15, SCOTUS will hear oral argument in McCullen v. Coakley--the challenge to Massachusetts' law prohibiting anti-abortion protesters from coming within 35 feet of an abortion clinic. The case calls into question the Court's 2000 decision in Hill v. Colorado, in which it upheld a Colorado statute that banned protesters from coming within 100 feet of abortion clinics--or from coming within eight feet of persons approaching the facility. Yesterday, in The Wall Street Journal, renowned litigator Floyd Abrams called Hill the Court's "most indefensible First Amendment ruling so far this century." Abrams writes:
According to the state, the 2007 legislation was enacted in response to antiabortion protesters blocking entrances to abortion clinics, harassing women who were seeking abortions, and otherwise impeding their efforts to do so. Both federal and state legislatures had previously sought to deal with such misbehavior. Federal law punishes as a crime those who "by physical obstruction" attempt to "intimidate or interfere" with any person "obtaining or providing reproductive health services." A pre-existing Massachusetts law, passed in 2000, makes it criminal to "knowingly obstruct, detain, hinder, impede, or block another person's entry to or exit from a reproductive health facility." These statutes are narrowly drafted and do not raise any plausible First Amendment objections.
In contrast, the 2007 Massachusetts law, with its 35-foot exclusion zone, is anything but narrow in its impact. It effectively prevents Eleanor McCullen and her colleagues from engaging in entirely peaceful, nondisruptive antiabortion advocacy via the distribution of leaflets and oral advocacy at the very places it is most likely to be effective. This is what First Amendment law refers to as "overbreadth"—laws that in the course of criminalizing constitutionally unprotected speech or activities limit or impair speech that is fully protected.
Sadly, Abrams failed even to acknowledge perhaps the most relevant precedent in this case: Burson v. Freeman. In Burson, the Court considered a challenge to a Tennessee statute that prohibited among other things "the display of campaign posters, signs or other campaign materials, [or the] distribution of campaign materials" within 100 feet of a polling place. The Court concluded that the exercise of First Amendment rights at the polling place "[conflicted] with another fundamental right, the right to cast a ballot in an election free from the taint of intimidation and fraud." Thus, the statute was constitutional.
Like the right to vote, the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade confirms that abortion is a fundamental right.* In both cases, the law restricts First Amendment speech in places where illegal activity has been shown to disrupt the exercise of another fundamental right; the Court's decision in Burson also "effectively prevents...entirely peaceful, nondisruptive [political] advocacy via the distribution of leaflets and oral advocacy at the very places it is most likely to be effective."
Perhaps Abrams opposes Burson, too. Perhaps not. Or, perhaps he would distinguish the two cases. We don't know, because he didn't say. It would have been helpful for "[t]he dean of the First Amendment bar" to clarify his position.
* Although calling the right to vote fundamental, the Court's jurisprudence makes clear either 1) it is not fundamental; or 2) the Court is confused as to what the right's fundamental status means. But more on this later.
(h/t WSJ's Law Blog)
Thursday, December 12, 2013
How gun control is losing, badly; gun control groups focus on states; report says reducing gun violence requires early intervention for troubled youth; Ana Marie Cox claims Congress is scared of the gun lobby; but, gun control activists are staying positive.
Former contractor files a civil rights suit alleging the federal goverment harassed him because of an auto-complete error in Google search; and, Miami Gardens police chief resigns following allegations of racial profiling.
No agreement on court date for North Carolina's voter ID case.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Democratic lawmaker urging Florida to allow online voter registration, same-day registration, and to create more early voting sites; and, Obama expects to see bipartisan improvents to voting access in 2014.
Florida State's Attorney won't press charges against officers facing civil rights lawsuit over harassment allegations.
Gun-rights advocates target the NFL over its policy against ads with guns; gun-control advocates release advertisement as citizens remember Newtown; and, Giffords launches gun-control PAC.
NYC's Fire Commissioner discusses with NPR attempts to close force's racial gap.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Georgia prosecutors struggle to decide whether to apply stand-your-ground law to man who shot Alzheimer's patient who attempted to enter his house; House passes gun-control bill, but Sen. Schumer hopes for broader reforms; Politico explains why gun control advocates might have to settle for small gains; guns and ammunition have been stolen from Dallas SWAT; student brings a stun gun to a Cleveland Heights elementary school; and, one teacher explains why she talks to her middle-school students about guns.
Three couples challenge Utah's same-sex marriage ban.
Federal judges question the Wisconsin law requiring abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
First Amendment controversy continues to brew after Pheonix bans gun-rights activist's 'Gun Saves Lives' billboard.
Snowden was considered for Walters's 'Most Interesting Person of the Year'; and, The Atlantic informs us that there was a pre-Snowden Snowden (with perhaps a less villanous name--Yardley).
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Three-judge panel reverses dismissal favoring City of Chicago in case alleging it responds more slowly to 911 calls made by Blacks and Hispanics.
WaPo explains how recent abortion decisions affected the Senate's debate over the filibuster.
Columbus Dispatch explores Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles panel criteria for reviewing vanity plates.
Voting rights activists claim Los Angeles County redistricting discriminates against Latinos; and, Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial board says pending voting bills restricting early voting and mandating ballot uniformity are voter suppression measures.
French parliament wants to impose new fines on solicitors of prostitution services.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
African American judge alleges that UCLA police used excessive force when they stopped him ostensibly for not wearing his seat belt.
NSA likely accessed Google and Yahoo user data through fiber-optic cables used to connect data centers; Guardian columnist says NSA's surveillance program demonstrates hypocrisy of 'Five Eyes' countries; U.S. officials worry that Snowden might still have a large cache of intelligence data; and, Jeff Jarvis wades through more hero/villain-talk regarding Snowden.
The Week examines the recent difficulties of anti-abortion groups at the polls.
Mississippi Democrats say new voter ID law will hurt both parties, but the state is ready to start issuing voter ID cards.
Civil rights group updates its app for reporting TSA complaints.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
NSA director doesn't really want to give the FBI and DEA access to surveillance data.
Federal appeals court upholds ruling requiring changes to NYC's stop-and-frisk policy.
Decades-long civil rights dispute over Little Rock schools could be nearing its conclusion.
Federal lawsuit over the use of Tasers by prison guards alleges 'callous and sadistic' constitutional violations.
Atlantic City PD face another civil rights suit alleging excessive force.
November 24, 2013 in 14th Amendment, Abortion, Civil Rights Litigation, Department of Justice, Equal Protection Clause, Excessive Force, Fourth Amendment, Prisons and Prisoners, Stop-and-frisk, Theories of Punishment | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
NSA ignored courts on conduct of domestic surveillance; Supreme Court won't hear challenge to NSA domestic surveillance; and, Rep. Sensenbrenner claims NSA's surveillance program threatens America's economy.
Divided Ohio Supreme Court upholds school district's firing of teacher who refused to remove religious materials from his classroom.
Ohio House committee approves new 'stand your ground' law; gun owners in San Fancisco claim city's large-capacity magazine ban violates the Second Amendment; and, Ohio city looks to repeal several gun laws after legal challenge by gun-rights advocates.
Christian Science Monitor explains how voter ID laws affected 2013 elections; PolitiFact Texas labels claims that no problems resulted from state's new voter ID law 'mostly false'; and women are more likely to be disenfranchised under North Carolina's new voter ID law.
Juveniles file a federal lawsuit against Florida county and private prison contractor alleging extremely harsh conditions and overuse of pepper spray.
Governor expected to sign Illinois's law legalizing same-sex marriage later today.
Iowa woman wrongfully terminated for alleging workplace discrimination wants her job back.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
FISA court order permitting NSA's surveillance of Americans' email and internet data released; The Week reports on NSA's efforts to minimize data collected on Americans; NSA releases documents showing it vowed to correct surveillance mistakes; and Yahoo seeks to protect users from surveillance.
Pennsylvania woman files a civil rights lawsuit after a police officer offered her legal breaks for sexual favors.
Illegal immigrants don't vote in Arizona; Tennessee Supreme Court upholds new voter ID law; and, The Christian Science Monitor asks whether voter ID laws represent a war on the Greatest Generation.
Former lawmaker files civil rights lawsuit alleging that officers ignored his legislative immunity when they charged him with domestic violence.
United Methodist jury convicts a pastor for performing son's marriage to male partner; same-sex couples married outside Missouri now can file joint tax returns there; and, Cardinal denounces Illinois's new law legalizing same-sex marriage.
Albuquerque voters decide today whether to ban abortions after 20 weeks; vote could represent new front in fight over abortion rights.
November 19, 2013 in Abortion, Civil Rights Litigation, Election Law, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech, Right to Vote, Same-sex marriage, Stop-and-frisk, Voter ID | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Churches join the NAACP's lawsuit challenging North Carolina's new election laws limiting early voting and same-day registration; and Wisconsin Republicans seek to end weekend voting, while the Wisconsin Assembly passes a new voter ID bill.
United Methodist Church prosecutes Pennsylvania pastor under church law for performing same-sex marriage for his son and his son's partner; and, Wyoming Senate candidate Liz Chaney explains her opposition to same-sex marriage.
NYC Mayor-elect de Blasio meets with NYPD commissioner Kelly, who recently criticized Democrats for opposition NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy.
In Spain, topless women interrupt anti-abortion rally with chants of 'Abortion is sacred.'
November 17, 2013 in Abortion, Civil Rights Litigation, Election Law, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Religion, Right to Vote, Same-sex marriage, Stop-and-frisk, Theories of Punishment, Voter ID | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, November 8, 2013
Texas's voter ID law challenged in a new lawsuit in federal court, and spending on ballot initiatives is going through the roof.
Guns & Ammo editor resigns after publishing editorial supporting firearm regulations; Florida legislators decline proposal repealing state's stand-your-ground law; and Gifford's gun-control group establishes a sister organization for veterans.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will sign bill legalizing same-sex marriage on November 20, 2013, and four Idaho couples sue state over same-sex marriage ban. The Week explains why House Republicans have an interest in supporting ENDA.
Sen. Graham has introduced a new anti-abortion bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Thousands of NYC voters may not have known that the city's ballot had to be flipped over.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
WaPo breaks down Senate votes for and against Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Florida Supreme Court rules that the woman who donated her egg to her partner has equal rights to the child after the relationship later dissolved.
Supreme Court hears "unusually testy oral-argument session" over right of a town council to pray before meetings.
Iowa State Bar Assocation president defends judge currently under fire for a recent ruling blocking ban on Planned Parenthood's use of teleconferences to administer abortion pills.
Brown University may punish students who booed NYPD commissioner.
Case Western Law School dean embroiled in scandal over allegations that he sexually harrassed faculty has taken a leave of absence.
Sen. Portman supports ENDA after the addition of an amendment strengthening the religious exemption.
Judge removed from stop-and-frisk case claims the Second Circuit's actions violated the Fifth Amendment.
Senate prepares to fight over bill banning abortions after five months.
WaPo's Eilperin says passing gay marriage legislation is going to get more difficult.
Asians and Latinos lagging in voter registration numbers.
Friday, November 1, 2013
The title of this post comes from this article reporting that a federal judge has rejected the challenge by anti-abortion protesters to a noise zoning ordiance. The article begins:
Anti-abortion protesters cannot enjoin a law that regulates noise around health care facilities, a federal judge ruled.
In response to public comments regarding the effects of amplified sounds on patients, West Palm Beach has a law that creates a quiet zone around health care facilities.
The ordinance bans shouting and use of a loud speaker among other loud noises within 100 feet of the property line, including private property within that distance.
Mary Susan Pine and Marilyn Blackburn are a part of group that assembles outside the Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach to protest against abortions and educate women about other alternatives.
Under an older version of the ordinance, Pine was fined $250 for using a bull horn in the quiet zone.
They sought an injunction, but U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks shot them down Tuesday.
Pro Publica breaks down the effects of the Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
At University of North Texas, students sign petitions to get rape-kit access.
NPR asks whether race affects stand your ground laws.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to employ 'one or two' drones in surveillance of Pheonix area.
NPR says Texas voter-ID law is unexpectedly making voting difficult for some women.
Support growing in the Senate for Employment Anti-Discrimination Act (ENDA) banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and an Ohio funeral home wants gay marriages recognized on death certificates.
Planned Parenthood says Iowa ban on telemedicine system used for dispensing abortion pills prevents rural access to needed medical services and asks judge to suspend the ban.
Egyptian military tribunal sentences a journalist to one year in prison for allegedly impersonating a military officer.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
A federal appeals court judge is considering whether to grant an emergency appeal that would allow the state to enforce a law that could shut down a dozen abortion clinics in Texas.
In court papers filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked the judge to make a decision by the end of the day Tuesday. Clinic operators have said a third of their facilities will have to stop providing abortions if the law takes effect.
District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled Monday that a requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic does nothing to protect women's health.
Abortion doctors have had difficulty getting such privileges since hospitals have different standards.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Sen. Paul believes abortion and scientific research might lead to eugenics, and a Texas judge finds certain limitations on abortion unconstitutional.
Sen. Reid says Senate will vote on bill to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by Thanksgiving.
DOJ will not prosecute guards from private prison for alleged criminal civil rights violations.
J. Posner: "The point I was making in my book in mentioning the Crawford case was not that the decision was right or wrong[.]"
All new FBI agents ordered to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to remind them of past abuses by the FBI and of their commitment to better practices in the present and future.
Parts of a new Texas abortion law, considered among the most restrictive in the country, are unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Monday, one day before they were scheduled to take effect.
The lawsuit -- filed in U.S. District Court in Austin by Planned Parenthood on behalf of more than a dozen women's health care providers across Texas -- alleged the law violates the constitutional rights of women and puts unreasonable demands on doctors who perform abortions.
The lawsuit specifically targets requirements under the new law that doctors obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, and usage controls on RU486 -- the so-called "morning after" pill.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel struck down both provisions, handing abortion-rights groups a clear win.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Wisconsin woman held in drug treatment center under fetal protection law challenges the law's constitutionality.
NRO's Reihan Salam says political reformers should focus on increasing party power.
Time raises questions about online reporting of sexual abuse.
Ohio Secretary of State says there's a need to cut down early voting hours.
Ohioans could be turning to Michigan abortion clinics as local ones close.
Columnist rejects argument for arming teachers and says its time to start holding partents of schoolhouse killers responsible as well.
And, a North Carolina Republican official resigns following racially-charged comments on Wednesday's The Daily Show.