Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Missouri Rejects Federal Money In Order To Set Up Its Own Abortion Restrictions

From NPR:

A new Missouri law cuts off a line of funding to all organizations that provide abortions in the state, including hospitals.

For years, Missouri has helped low-income women pay for family planning under a Medicaid program called Extended Women's Health Services, which is funded by both the state and the federal governments.

Federal law already prevents Medicaid from reimbursing providers for most abortions. Missouri's new measure rejects $8.3 million in federal funds for the women's health program, allowing the state to block state funds for other family planning services from going to abortion providers.

Other states, including Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Indiana, have tried to exclude abortion providers from Medicaid funds before, but courts have said that would violate a federal law that gives patients the right to choose their health care providers. Missouri hopes to get around that by rejecting the federal money. The rule has not been challenged in court.

Read more here.

April 9, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Texas Bill Would Allow OBs To Withhold Information From Pregnant Women

From The Huffington Post:

The Texas Senate Committee and State Affairs voted this week to advance a controversial bill that would prevent parents from suing their care provider if their baby is born with disabilities, even if their doctor discovered the fetus’ condition and failed to disclose it.

Proponents say Senate Bill 25 protects doctors and children with disabilities, but opponents have slammed it as a thinly veiled attempt to curb abortion rights by extending protections to doctors who mislead their patients.

“SB 25 would allow doctors to lie to their patients,” Heather Busby, executive director at the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement to The Huffington Post. 

If, for example, an OB-GYN discovered during an ultrasound that a fetus had severe abnormalities and failed to inform his or her patient ― knowing the mother might chose to terminate the pregnancy ― that mother would be prevented from later bringing what is known as a “wrongful birth” suit.

Read more here.

March 9, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Abortion bill targets parents' rights in cases of pregnant minors

From The Indianapolis Star:

When a pregnant minor seeks an abortion in Indiana without her parents' consent, she has one option: a hearing involving her attorney and a juvenile court judge who decides whether she is mature enough to make the decision for herself.

A bill that advanced in the Indiana Senate on Wednesday would give her parents the right to enter the courtroom and even testify on whether she is competent to make the decision.

Supporters of Senate Bill 404 say parents should have a role in deciding their daughter's well-being and whether she can undergo a surgical procedure such as an abortion. Opponents say requiring parent involvement could push pregnant minors into dangerous situations because their greatest fear is often being disowned by their families.

The bill also would give parents the right to sue adults who help their child get an abortion without their consent. And it opens up abortion doctors to potentially losing their medical licenses if they fail to properly inform the state when they provide an abortion to a girl younger than 16.

The bill, approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 6-4 vote, is the latest front in the bitter battle over abortion rights in Indiana. It drew support from a constellation of groups opposed to abortion — Indiana Right to Life, the Indiana Catholic Conference, the Indiana Family Institute and the American Family Association of Indiana. It was opposed by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, family law attorneys, a pediatrician and a doctor of adolescent medicine.

The scope of the war is evident in the language of the bill. Corrine Purvis, an attorney with Indiana Right to Life, said passages were adapted from a law in Missouri. Other provisions have been adopted by as many as 15 states.

Read more here.

March 3, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lawmaker proposes bill in Oklahoma requiring a father's consent for abortion

From The Washington Post:

A bill advancing in Oklahoma would require a woman to get the written consent of the fetus’s father before obtaining an abortion.

The bill, which passed out of a House committee Tuesday, would also require a woman “to provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus to the physician who is to perform or induce the abortion,” according to the bill’s language. “If the person identified as the father of the fetus challenges the fact that he is the father, such individual may demand that a paternity test be performed.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Justin Humphrey (R), could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But in an interview with The Intercept earlier this month, Humphrey said that men should be able to have a say over the fate of a fetus, and suggested that a woman has greater responsibility in a relationship for preventing pregnancy because she would be the “host.”

Read more here.

February 26, 2017 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

British women, please rally to support decriminalisation of abortion

From The Guardian:

In Poland mass protests have forced the government to drop plans to tighten its already draconian abortion laws. Yet here in Britain most people are unaware that women still live under the threat of being sentenced to life imprisonment if they end their own pregnancies by buying pills on the internet. Doctors also face harsh penalties if they do not fill in the correct forms before terminating a pregnancy.

Back in 1967 our law was changed to allow the legal ending of pregnancies if certain conditions were met. Otherwise the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act remained in place; and so it still is today – nearly half a century later.

On Wednesday 24 October a ten-minute rule bill is to be introduced to the House of Commons proposing that abortion in Britain is decriminalised. To do so would not only allow speedier and much less bureaucratic use of modern medical procedures, but would save a huge amount of NHS money while bringing us into line with countries such as Canada where medical abortion was decriminalised nearly three decades ago.

Read more here.

October 15, 2016 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

‘Contraception deserts’ are what you get when you cut off this little-known federal program

From The Washington Post:

The Zika virus has arrived in the United States, threatening reproductive-age American women with the prospect of compromised pregnancies — and returning the country to its decades-long debate over reproductive rights. If a pregnant American woman wanted to end a Zika-compromised pregnancy, could she? If she wanted to prevent pregnancy until she knew that any Zika risk was past, could she find the contraception she would need?

For women with enough resources to travel, the answer is always yes. But for women with more limited means, the answer, over the past 20 or so years, has come to depend in very large part on where they live. Over the past few years, dozens of abortion clinics closed, largely in response to state policies enacted to make their existence impossible.

We’ve been researching an approach to restricting reproductive health care that fewer people know about: contraception deserts. A number of states and Congress have made it harder for women with few resources to get contraception by manipulating the regulation of Title X. Title X is the only federal program dedicated exclusively to family planning and related preventive health care.

Why does that matter? According to a recent study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, while maternal mortality rates around the world are decreasing, they increased in the United States between 2000 to 2014.

Read more here.

September 28, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Irish women live-tweet journey to Great Britain for abortion

From CNN:

An Irish woman live-tweeted her journey to the United Kingdom to have an abortion this weekend. The woman, and a friend who accompanied her, began posting early Saturday morning from the Twitter account Two Women Travel.

Abortion is illegal in the Republic of Ireland, except in certain circumstances, and more than 165,000 women traveled from Ireland to Great Britain for the procedure between 1980 and 2015, according to the United Kingdom's Department of Health.
The pair described their mission as "Two women, one procedure, 48 hours away from home."
Most of the tweets were directed at Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, with an early morning post from Dublin Airport reading "boarding, it's chilly, @EndaKennyTD."
 
Read more here.

September 4, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Controversial Pro-Life Governor is Chosen as Vice Presidential Candidate

From USA Today:

On Friday, July 16, Donald Trump made the announcement that Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, will be his running mate. Pence has been in the national spotlight due to his controversial recent bill regarding restrictions on access to abortions in Indiana. Reactions to Trump's announcement were "immediate" for pro-life and pro-choice groups.

Planned Parenthood has long stood against Pence's endeavors in Indiana and the selection of such a candidate sends a "terrifying message" to women across the nation.

Read more here.

July 16, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Victory for Planned Parenthood and ACLU in Indiana Over Abortion Law

From U.S. News:

United States District Judge, Tanya Walton Pratt, granted a preliminary injunction that blocks an Indiana law that sought to ban abortions because of a fetus’ genetic abnormalities, race, or gender. Furthermore, the injunction blocks portions of the law which mandate that the remains of an aborted or miscarried fetus be cremated or buried. Had the law not been blocked, it would have taken effect Friday, July 1, 2016.

Governor Mike Pence signed the new law in March after it was approved at this year’s legislative session. Supporters of the law claim that the purpose was to prohibit discrimination that might occur due to improved genetics testing.

The suit was originally brought in April by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky on grounds that the law is a violation of privacy and is unconstitutional pursuant to other Supreme Court rulings. The ACLU of Indiana, represented by Ken Falk, challenged the portion of the law pertaining to disposal of the remains.

Read more here.

June 30, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Burdens Increase for Texas Women as Abortion Clinics Close Their Doors

From MSNBC:

As Texas abortion clinics close, Texan women are facing more burdens in attempting to procure safe, legal abortion services. Because abortion clinics are closing and clinics are further away, many Texan women are faced with the burdens; such as, taking off additional time from work and/or school, accounting for increased travel time, and having to pay additional money to stay at hotels. For some women who are struggling financially to make ends meet, having to pay additional money for hotel accommodations or losing money from taking off work makes the difference between being able to obtain an abortion and not. 

Read more here.

May 20, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tanzanian Women Face High Rates of Abortion-Related Deaths

From The New York Times:

Unsafe abortions kill many Tanzanian women, according to a recent study, but the deaths result from several factors and women in some regions die much more often than others.

Birth control is hard to get, and public health clinics lack trained staff and vacuum aspiration kits used to perform abortions. In addition, the legality of abortion is ambiguous, forcing many women to try to do it themselves or see illegal abortion providers. Of one million unintended pregnancies in 2013, the study found, 39 percent ended in abortion.

The study, done by the Guttmacher Institute, Tanzania’s national medical research institute and the country’s leading medical school, and published in PLOS One, was based on surveys of hospitals and clinics and interviews with Tanzanian doctors.

 

Although Tanzania ratified the African Union’s 2005 Maputo Protocol on women’s rights — which endorsed abortion rights — and also recognizes colonial-era British case law permitting abortion in some circumstances, national law mandates 14-year sentences for anyone “unlawfully” performing an abortion and seven years for women who try to make themselves miscarry — but without defining “unlawfully,” said Sarah C. Keogh, a Guttmacher Institute researcher and the study’s lead author.

Women have been prosecuted under it, she said.

Read more here.

May 7, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Georgia Governor OKs State Funds for Anti-Abortion Centers

From ABC News:

Georgia can give state money to "pregnancy resource centers" that offer medical and other services to pregnant women while discouraging them from getting abortions, under legislation signed Tuesday by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.

The measure's sponsor, Republican state Sen. Renee Unterman of Buford, described her bill as a "positive" response to videos released this summer by abortion opponents showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing procedures for obtaining tissue from aborted fetuses for research.

A Texas grand jury later cleared the organization of wrongdoing.

Deal signed the bill in a private ceremony and didn't issue a public statement.

Georgia now joins at least 10 other states that specifically dedicate funding to anti-abortion efforts, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports legal access to abortion. Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the organization, said the practice began in some states decades ago.

Opponents of the grants say the centers use deceptive advertising to bring pregnant women in but won't discuss all legal options. They also argue that the state could still contribute financially toward lowering abortion numbers, through sex education or counseling programs.

"The state should be ensuring women are getting the best, most accurate and relevant information," Nash said. She added that bill Deal signed "allows state funds to go to organizations providing women with incomplete information or outright misinformation."

Emily Matson, executive director of the anti-abortion organization Georgia Life Alliance, said about 70 facilities in Georgia could qualify for the grant. About 40 of those centers are licensed to provide medical care, she said, while the rest provide other services including clothing and other supplies.

Matson said the organization hopes more funding for the centers will reduce the number of abortions. State records show about 27,500 abortions were performed in Georgia in 2013, the latest year available.

"When you're facing an abortion total of more than 27,000 babies being terminated each year, you're going to look closer at what we can do to ensure women truly are making choices and not just being caught in a for-profit business scheme," Matson said.

Read more here.

 

May 5, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Abortion in Europe

From NBC News:

Graphic pictures of aborted fetuses, prayer vigils and protesters. It's no coincidence that the anti-abortion movement looks the same from London to Dublin to Warsaw.

It's mostly Gregg Cunningham. The California-based activist has been farming out his imagery and strategies to like-minded groups in Europe for more than five years.

It started with the trained lawyer building a collection of thousands of photos.

"Aborted baby pictures didn't really exist on any sort of commercial scale in the U.S. until we began to compile the archive that we use," Cunningham explained.

He won't say how or where the images were shot but takes pride in their professional lighting.

"We invented the genre of aborted baby photos that were shot by commercial photographers," Cunningham said. "We pioneered the use of that material here in the United States first."

The Republican former two-term member of Pennsylvania's House of Representatives regularly travels to Europe and shares his pictures — plus notes, advice and strategy.

Pro-abortion activists, providers and seekers in Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, England and beyond have been confronted with the same photos of dismembered fetuses as American women from Austin to Buffalo.Some have had holy water thrown on them. Others are called "murderous whores" and are filmed.

Read more here.

May 3, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Abortion Procedure Challenged as "Torture" in Alabama

From ABC News:

A commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure would be illegal under a new bill debated in the Alabama legislature on Wednesday.

The House Health Committee held a public hearing on a bill that supporters say would prohibit a medical procedure called dilation and evacuation, or "D&E." The bill would allow the procedure, which it describes as "dismemberment abortion," in the event of a "serious health risk to the mother."

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a similar bill into law last week, while West Virginia lawmakers overrode their governor's veto in March to pass a similar law. D&E bans in Kansas and Oklahoma have been struck down by state courts.

Supporters of the bill on Wednesday compared D&E procedures to torture and medieval forms of punishment.

"I don't see how a civilized society could support these barbaric procedures," said the bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Mack Butler.

Elizabeth Potter Graham, an attorney who spoke against the bill, said it is a woman's "fundamental right" to choose the procedure.

D&Es, or surgical abortions, are used in the majority of second-trimester procedures, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Butler's bill does not target medical abortions, which are induced by medication and have higher complication rates than surgical abortions in the second trimester, according to the ACOG.

Read more here.

 

April 24, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"Abortion Reversal" Laws Gain Steam, Despite Scant Scientific Evidence

From STAT:

South Dakota will soon require doctors to tell women that they can change their minds after taking the abortion pill and potentially halt an abortion in progress. Arizona and Arkansas passed similar laws last year. And an antiabortion group is promoting model legislation to inform women they can “reverse” medication abortions.

Yet that claim has no solid science behind it — just an anecdotal case report written by a physician who invented a protocol and arranged to have it tested on a half-dozen patients who regretted swallowing the abortion pill.

That’s raised alarms among mainstream medical groups.

“As physicians, we can’t just experiment on patients willy-nilly,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. Doctors offering to undo medical abortions are “essentially testing an unproven, experimental protocol on pregnant women,” he said.

The new laws target the growing popularity of the abortion pill at a time when states have forced many surgical abortion clinics out of business with tight regulation.

About 2 million women have taken the pill since it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000; it is now responsible for 40 to 50 percent of pregnancy terminations in some states. The FDA recently took steps to expand access to medication abortions by approving their use through 10 weeks of pregnancy, up from the previous limit of seven weeks.

To push back, antiabortion groups have been urging states to restrict access to abortion pills — for instance, by mandating that they be dispensed only after a face-to-face examination by a doctor, rather than a video consultation. More recently, Americans United for Life has been circulating a model bill which would require doctors to advise all women taking the pill that they might be able to reverse the abortion, “but that time is of the essence.”

Read more here.

April 23, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Abortion Rights Advocates Rally at Indiana Statehouse

From South Bend Tribune:

Hundreds of abortion rights supporters gathered Saturday at the Indiana Statehouse to protest an anti-abortion law signed by Gov. Mike Pence that is among the most restrictive in the U.S.

Some waved signs reading "Fire Mike Pence" while speakers took turns criticizing the law, which bans abortions sought because of fetal genetic abnormalities.

Rachael Himsel, of Bloomington, held a large banner that said "Stop This Pencestrual Cycle." She says the new law amounts to lawmakers intruding in a private decision that should be made between a woman and her doctor.

National backlash to the law has been building, and the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky have also sued the state, calling it unconstitutional.

The Republican governor says the law affirms the sanctity of life while still allowing abortions if a mother's life is at risk.

"I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable--the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn," Pence said last month when he signed the measure.

Under its provisions, doctors could be sued for wrongful death or face professional reprimanded if they perform an abortion sought due to genetic abnormality or a fetus' race or sex. There is an exemption for fetuses not expected to live past three months if brought to term.

One provision in the law requiring that all aborted or miscarried fetuses be cremated or buried was particularly galling, said Himsel, who says she once miscarried.

Read more here.

April 15, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Indiana Abortion Bill Foes Troll Governor About Their Periods

From USA Today:

A social media campaign by opponents of a restrictive new Indiana abortion bill has prompted women to call Gov. Mike Pence's office to report on the status of their menstrual cycle.

The Facebook page "Periods for Pence" has received more than 11,500 "likes" since it was posted three days ago. By Saturday, a Twitter page was also up and running.

The measure, signed into law last week by Pence, a Republican, makes Indiana only the second state to prohibit a woman from seeking an abortion because her fetus was diagnosed with a disability such as Down syndrome. It also prohibits abortions when they are sought based on the gender or race of a fetus and requires the remains of miscarried or aborted fetuses to be interred or cremated.

Pence, a social conservative with a long track record of opposing abortion, described the new restrictions as a “comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life,” The Indianapolis Star reports.

The "Period for Pence" group calls on supporters to "Let Governor Mike Pence know what you think about his intrusive HEA 1337 bill. Women should have the right to make their own medical decisions!"

It includes purported calls by women who said they took up the suggestion to call the governor:

Caller: "I need to get a message to the Governor that I am on day three of my period. My flow seems abnormally heavy, but my cramps are much better," one woman called to say.

Read more here.

April 9, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Poles Protest Possibility of Total Ban on Abortion

From ABC News:

Thousands of Poles took part in street demonstrations on Sunday to protest a possible tightening of the country's abortion law, already one of the most restrictive in Europe.

The rallies in Warsaw and other cities were held under the slogan "No to the torture of women" and came as the influential Roman Catholic Church launched a campaign for a total ban on abortion, something supported by Prime Minister Beata Szydlo and ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Abortion is currently illegal in Poland in most cases but there are exceptions if the pregnancy poses a threat to the woman's health or life, if it results from a crime like incest or rape or if the fetus is damaged.

Protesters say a total ban would lead to women dying or force them to travel to other countries for abortions. In Warsaw they strung up coat hangers, a symbol of primitive underground abortions.

The current abortion law dates to 1993 and was a compromise between the country's liberal and Catholic circles.

Read more here.

April 8, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Indiana Governor Signs Abortion Bill With Added Restrictions

From The New York Times:

Indiana’s governor signed a bill on Thursday that adds broad limits to women’s access to abortions, banning those motivated solely by the mother’s objection to the fetus’s race, gender or disability, and placing new restrictions on doctors.

The law, which passed both chambers of the Republican-controlled General Assembly with large majorities, builds on Indiana’s already restrictiveabortion rules, and was cheered by anti-abortion groups that had encouraged Gov. Mike Pence to sign it.

“We are pleased that our state values life no matter an individual’s potential disability, gender or race,” Mike Fichter, president and chief executive ofIndiana Right to Life, said in a statement. “We also believe that the other measures in the bill are positive steps forward for providing dignity and compassion.”

The bill is among several limiting abortion that have passed conservative legislatures in recent years, but the sheer number of restrictions in Indiana’s legislation made it distinct.

In addition to holding doctors liable if a woman has an abortion solely because of objections to the fetus’s race, sex or a disability, like Down syndrome, the law restricts fetal tissue donation and requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital or to have an agreement with a doctor who does.

“Seeing them all in one place, that is very striking,” said Dawn Johnsen, an Indiana University law professor who has been an abortion rights advocate. “It’s like the kitchen sink: Everything that isn’t already in the law. And the law is already really restrictive.”

Mr. Pence, a Republican, said he signed the bill because he thinks “that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable — the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn.”

The bill, he said in his signing statement, “will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry or disability, including Down syndrome.”

Read more here.

March 30, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Brazil Seizes Abortion Drugs Sent to Women Living in Fear of Zika

From Los Angeles Times:

The messages from the expectant mothers in Brazil resonate with desperation.

“I'm thinking of doing the worst,” one woman wrote when her order for abortion medication failed to arrive. “I really need help. I can no longer eat, and I cry all the time.”

The messages were sent to an international advocacy group that had been providing abortion-inducing drugs free of charge to expectant mothers who fear that the Zika virus could cause severe birth defects.

Now, however, the group has temporarily suspended its operations in the country because Brazilian authorities have confiscated the drugs in the mail. Abortion is prohibited in most instances in Brazil, and the drugs are illegal.

“It's not fair to tell women they are going to get a package, and it will not arrive to them,” said Leticia Zenevich, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group, Women on Web. “It's very tragic.”

Even in the face of the Zika virus, providing pregnancy-ending alternatives to women in a country where abortion is in most cases illegal is proving to be nearly impossible, Zenevich said.

Women on Web, a Canadian group that is based in the Netherlands and operates worldwide, said in February that it had sent “dozens of packages” to women in Brazil but only two packages had arrived. The rest were apparently seized. The packages provided by Women on Web contained misoprostol and mifepristone, which can end a pregnancy.

Authorities acknowledge that they are confiscating abortion drugs sent in the mail because the medicines are banned in Brazil.

Read more here.

March 29, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)