Family Law Prof Blog

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

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Planned Parenthood Files Suit Against Anti-Abortion Videos Group

From CNN:

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Thursday against the anti-abortion activists who secretly taped the group's officials talking about the sale of fetal tissue and released the heavily edited videos last year.

The videos sparked a political firestorm in Washington, with Republican lawmakers accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale and trying unsuccessfully to strip the group of federal funding.

Since the videos began surfacing in July, Planned Parenthood officials have maintained that the group does not profit from its sale of tissue donations to medical research and uses any money received to cover its costs.

And on Thursday, the group said it was going on the offensive against the group who produced the videos, The Center for Medical Progress.

"We are filing this lawsuit to hold accountable the people behind this reckless and malicious smear campaign that was designed only to spread lies about Planned Parenthood," Kathy Kneer, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California told reporters in a conference call.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Francisco, alleges that the defendants set up a bogus tissue procurement company and used fake corporate and personal identities to lie their way into private meetings that they illegally taped.

Read more here.

January 17, 2016 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Abortion Law for 2 Weeks

From ABC News:

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order late Thursday preventing Arkansas from enforcing new limits on how the abortion pill is administered.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a 14-day delay in enforcing two sections of the law, which was scheduled to go into effect Friday. Baker wrote in her ruling that "for now" she found enforcing those sections would cause a greater threat of irreparable harm to Planned Parenthood's two Arkansas clinics and the patients than the potential injuries to the state by maintaining the status quo.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed a lawsuit Monday challenging one portion of the law requiring doctors administering abortion pills to contract with a physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital and agrees to handle any complications. It also challenged another portion requiring providers to follow guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when administering the pills.

Baker wrote that for now, she believed Planned Parenthood had a substantial chance of succeeding in its argument that the requirement to contract with a physician, "would result in an undue burden and have the effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman's right to choose to have an abortion of a nonviable fetus."

The judge also wrote that the FDA-approved regimen for administering the pill "does not appear to be the current standard of care."

Susan Allen, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, said she had confidence in the merits of the case against the law passed in March by the majority-Republican Legislature.

Read more here.

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Judge Stops Missouri From Revoking Abortion License

From ABC News:

A federal judge on Monday blocked the state of Missouri from revoking the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Columbia, saying the state had treated the clinic more harshly than similar institutions and had moved to withdraw the license because of political pressure from some state lawmakers.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey's ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri after the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services said in September it would revoke the clinic's abortion license Dec. 1. Laughrey had issued a temporary restraining order, which was scheduled to expire Monday.

The judge's ruling doesn't allow the clinic to immediately resume abortions because it still needs to find a physician who meets state requirement that a doctor must have local hospital admitting privileges to perform abortions there.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri President and CEO Laura McQuade said the ruling was a "huge victory" for the organization and women seeking abortions, particularly those who do not live near St. Louis, where the only Missouri clinic currently able to provide abortions is located.

"The ruling makes clear that the judicial branch sees this for the political gamesmanship that it is," she said. "We are not talking about health and safety issues, we are talking about making safe and legal abortions a thing of the past ... That's what this always was."

 

Read more here.

December 29, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Support for Legal Abortion at Highest Level in Two Years

From US News and World Report:

Support for legal abortion in the U.S. has edged up to its highest level in the past two years, with an Associated Press-GfK poll showing an apparent increase in support among Democrats and Republicans alike over the last year.

Nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — now think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 51 percent who said so at the beginning of the year, according to the AP-GfK survey. It was conducted after three people were killed last month in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.

While support for legal abortion edged up to 40 percent among Republicans in this month's poll, from 35 percent in January, the survey found that the GOP remains deeply divided on the issue: Seven in 10 conservative Republicans said they want abortion to be illegal in most or all cases; six in 10 moderate and liberal Republicans said the opposite.

Read more here.

December 26, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Abortion "Dismemberment" Ban Set For Unusual Court Hearing

From The Washington Times:

A first-in-the-nation Kansas abortion law is scheduled to go before all 14 state appellate judges Wednesday — an unusual step that reflects the gravity of the lawsuit, the state says.

The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act was enacted in Kansas in April. It prohibits, in most cases, use of a certain abortion method — dilation and evacuation, or D&E — that is commonly used between 12 and 22 weeks gestation.

In a D&E, abortion doctors use specific instruments to slice, crush and pull apart a living fetus so that it can be extracted from the woman’s womb.

Lawmakers took action against the “brutal” D&E procedure, saying the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart ruling says states have a legitimate interest in regulating the medical profession to promote respect for life, including the life of the unborn.

The Kansas dismemberment law has several exemptions: It does not affect abortions that are performed only with suction, cases in which cutting tools are needed to remove a dead fetus from the womb or cases in which continuing the pregnancy could severely injure or kill the pregnant woman.

Read more here.

December 14, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

$300,000 Allocated to House Panel Investigating Abortion Providers

From USA Today:

A special congressional investigation into how abortion providers handle fetal tissue will start off with a $300,000 budget that Republicans are diverting from a $1 million reserve fund.

The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, chaired by Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, was created in October after an uproar over Planned Parenthood’s role in providing researchers with tissue from aborted fetuses.

Republicans have named eight members to the panel, a new House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Democrats, who oppose the investigation, appointed six members.

A staff director for the investigation was recently hired, indicating the probe will require additional resources not already allocated to the full committee.

The House Administration Committee last week moved $300,000 to Energy and Commerce to cover expenses for the special investigation through Jan. 2. The money came from a House Administration Committee reserve fund that pays for unanticipated expenses during the 2015-16 term of the 114th Congress.

Democrats opposed the transfer because there was no public debate and because they believe taxpayer money should not be used for the investigation.

Read more here.

December 2, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Abortion Rates in the U.S. Continue to Decline

From CBS News:

U.S. abortions continue to fall, according to a new federal report released on Wednesday.

Federal statistics show abortions have been in a general decline for about 25 years.

The number of reported abortions dropped four percent in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. About 699,000 abortions were reported to the federal government that year. That's about 31,000 fewer than the year before.

Experts offer various reasons for the recent drop: Better use of birth control and the lingering effects of the economic recession. Others argue there's been a cultural shift and more women opt to continue their pregnancy.

In 2012, the abortion rate fell five percent to 13 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. That's about half what it was in 1974, the year after the landmark Supreme Court decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.

Read more here.

November 27, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Supreme Court to Hear Major Abortion Case

From CNN:

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear a challenge to key parts of Texas' 2013 abortion law that supporters of abortion rights say is one of the strictest in the nation.

The court has not heard a major abortion case since 2007, and its decision will likely come down sometime next spring or early summer in the heat of the presidential campaign. If the justices uphold the lower court's decision and allow two provisions of the law to go into effect, the number of available clinics in the state is expected to fall to about 10.

While supporters of the law argue it's meant to protect women's health, opponents say it has nothing to do with health and safety, but instead is a disguised attempt to put an end to abortion. Other states have similar legislation percolating through the lower courts.

One provision at issue requires that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The other mandates that clinics upgrade their facilities to hospital-like standards.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, who owns and operates four clinics in Texas, is the lead plaintiff in the case and is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights. She says the provisions directly challenge court precedent that renders a law invalid if it "has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion."

Read more here.

November 17, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 6, 2015

March for Life Faces Obama Administration Appeal Over Birth Control Mandate

From Washington Times:

The Obama administration filed notice Thursday that it will appeal a federal ruling that blocked it from enforcing its birth control mandate on a pro-life nonprofit known for its massive D.C. rallies against abortion.

In August, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the Health and Human Services Department practiced “regulatory favoritism” by exempting houses of worship on grounds that its employees are less likely to want the contraceptives, while rejecting pleas from March for Life, a secular group that says its employees also don’t want contraceptives, particularly those they equate with abortion.

“HHS may be correct that this objection is common among religiously affiliated employers. Where HHS has erred, however, is in assuming that this trait is unique to such organizations. It is not,” wrote Judge Leon, who was appointed to the District of Columbia bench by President George W. Bush.

On Thursday, secretaries of the Treasury and Health and Human Services and Labor departments filed notice with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The birth control mandate is an outgrowth of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that requires employers to cover 20 types of drugs and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration as part of their health care plans. Pitched as a boon for women’s health, the rules quickly spawned controversy, with dozens of religious nonprofits and devout business owners filing suit.

Read more here.

November 6, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Woman Forced to Drive 300 Miles to Abort Dying Fetus

From USA Today:

An Ohio woman whose baby would have been stillborn was forced to travel 300 miles to Chicago because no Ohio abortion clinic would do the procedure, she said.

Sheva Guy, 23, a doctoral student from Cincinnati, said her daughter was diagnosed with a fatal spinal abnormality when she went to a hospital for her second-trimester ultrasound at about 22 weeks. She and her husband were expecting to find out the gender of their child.

"I wanted a girl. He wanted a boy, so it was like, 'Who was going to be right?'" Guy said.

But the technician was quiet. The baby was too small. Something was wrong.

A second test at a second hospital confirmed that the baby's head was too large, the rest of the body was too small and a severe spinal abnormality meant the baby would never live.

"I just completely broke down. I mean, I was so vulnerable," Guy said. "Pantsless on the table, I was finding out this news. I was just sobbing. Both my contacts fell out. I couldn't see anything."

Guy shared her story at a Tuesday news conference hosted by ProgressOhio, a liberal-leaning public policy group, and NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. Both groups oppose tightening restrictions on abortions.

Guy said she had two options: deliver a stillborn daughter or have an abortion. The first was more than she could bear.

Read more here.

November 5, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Abortion Group Asks Top House Republican to Investigate New Videos Posted Online

From Fox News:

A trade group for abortion providers is asking a top House Republican to investigate after secretly recorded videos were posted online by a conservative blogger who wrote that he got the footage from a congressional source.

The National Abortion Federation said Friday that the videos were recorded at recent meetings by the Center for Medical Progress, a small group of anti-abortion activists. The center's furtive recordings of Planned Parenthood officials discussing their retrieval of fetal tissue have sparked an uproar by conservatives and unsuccessful efforts by congressional Republicans to cut Planned Parenthood's federal funds.

The federation obtained a court order in San Francisco against public release of the footage. But in recent days, videos have been posted online at GotNews.com, a conservative website.

That website's founder, Charles C. Johnson, wrote on his site that he has obtained "all of the Planned Parenthood tapes" and got the recordings "from a source on Capitol Hill."

Read more here.

October 26, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Abortion Bus" Will Tour Ireland Selling Dangerous Abortion Drug

From Life News:

The Life Institute has said that it is ‘deeply shocking’ to see that abortion activists who plan to make access to illegal abortion pills available on a bus touring the country appear to be playing ‘fast and loose’ with women’s lives.

Today, Ruth Coppinger TD said that the abortion bus would ensure that women in Ireland could avail of the abortion pill by meeting the bus – but she admitted that no doctor would be present on the bus, and was dismissive of warnings from senior medical experts who warned that unsupervised use of the abortion pill could result in the death of the woman.

Dr. Sam Coulter Smith, Master of the Rotunda Maternity Hospital, in an interview with RTÉ’s Prime Time said that incorrect administration of the drug could lead to perforation of the uterus, and warned that this had caused women to die.

Spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said that the ‘abortion bus’ was a cheap publicity stunt but that it was deeply shocking that a TD would take part in an initiative that could lead to a woman to lose her life.

“Ruth Coppinger was interviewed by Morning Ireland today and it was put to her that medical experts said  it was dangerous for women to take the abortion pill unsupervised. Dr Sam Coulter Smith said that women had lost their lives because of unsupervised use of the abortion pill. But Ms Coppinger refused to call a halt to the abortion pill campaign.”

Read more here.

October 20, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Republicans Target Abortion, Not Planned Parenthood

From Washington Examiner:

If it wasn't obvious, it is now: Republicans are making the congressional hearings on Planned Parenthood more about abortion itself than the organization.

Lawmakers used a range of props including diapers, surgical instruments and videos at a Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday afternoon to illustrate what they view as a gruesome procedure. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., held up a tiny diaper designed for a premature baby, noting that some fetuses aborted midway through pregnancy could fit into it. Anthony Levatino, a doctor who used to conduct abortions, held up a catheter and a clamp used during the dilation and evaculation procedure.

"You use this instrument again and again to tear out the spine, the intestines, the heart and lungs," Levatino told the committee. "Sometimes a little face comes out and stares at you."

It was the fourth congressional hearing prompted by a series of undercover videos highlighting Planned Parenthood's participation in supplying aborted fetal tissue, which sparked widespread Republican outrage against the group and led lawmakers to create a new committee on Wednesday specifically charged with investigating the group.

Prior hearings had disappointed many on the Right, who criticized Republicans for appearing uncoordinated, unprepared and ineffective. But as Republicans kicked off their latest hearing, they made clear they intend to keep the focus almost exclusively on the procedure of abortion itself, rather than on questions of whether Planned Parenthood illegally profited from providing the tissue to human tissue companies.

Read more here.

October 14, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Australia to Deport American Anti-Abortion Activist

From Washington Times:

An American anti-abortion activist is expected to be deported from Australia, after the nation’s highest court ruled Friday that he posed a threat to public order amid concerns he could incite violence against women.

Troy Newman, president of the Kansas-based anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, was detained at Melbourne Airport on Thursday after trying to enter Australia even though officials had already canceled his visa.

The battle to prevent Newman from coming to Australia for a speaking tour began earlier this week, after a lawmaker sent a letter to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton saying Newman could pose a threat to community safety.

“I am most concerned that Mr. Newman’s call for abortionists to be executed could lead to threats or the commission of acts of violence against women and medical professionals,” wrote Terri Butler, a member of the opposition Labor Party.

Immigration officials then revoked Newman’s visa.

Newman, who co-authored a book that suggested doctors who perform abortions are committing a crime egregious enough to warrant the death penalty, denied that he posed a threat to anyone.

Read more here.

October 10, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Planned Parenthood Fights to Regain Initiative

From The New York Times:

The undercover videos were made over more than two years, yet Planned Parenthood was taken by surprise when the first one was posted online in July. Now one of the biggest crises in the 99-year history of the organization, the nation’s largest provider of women’s reproductive health care, could reach a climax this week as conservatives want to shut down the government rather than help fund the group.

Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood's executive vice president, recalled that after an aide alerted her to the initial video by the little-known Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, she thought: “This is not new” — Planned Parenthood had faced such tactics before — “but it’s a new low. And it is going to have reach.”

Immediately the organization was caught in a storm of internal confusion and defensiveness. There was disquiet among Democratic allies as Republicans, who control Congress and many state capitols, charged that the nonprofit organization was criminally “profiteering in baby parts.” A new video surfaced almost every Tuesday.

But Planned Parenthood has fought back and managed to put some opponents on the defensive after gathering information from its affiliates; hiring lawyers, crisis managers and video experts to document deceptive edits; and working to solidify support among donors, Democrats and, according to polls, a majority of Americans.

Read more here.

September 30, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Senate fails to advance Bill that would cut Planned Parenthood funding

From Los Angeles Times:

With a federal shutdown days away, Senate Republicans tried -- and failed -- on Thursday to advance legislation that would eliminate money for Planned Parenthood but keep government offices and services open.

Democrats blocked the bill with a filibuster, refusing to cut funds for the large family planning organization after secretly recorded videos disclosed officials discussing the practice of providing fetal tissue from abortions for research. The debate has become a national conversation on abortion.

The vote, coming hours after Pope Francis' historic address to Congress, was 47-52.

One Democrat joined Republicans to advance the bill, but more telling for the internal GOP divide was that eight Republican senators joined Democrats to filibuster.

Now, with the government set to run out of funds Wednesday, the end of the fiscal year, Republican leaders are struggling for a new plan.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could try to have the Senate approve a straightforward spending bill, without the limits on Planned Parenthood. But that would require him -- and eventually Speaker John A. Boehner -- to leave their conservative flank behind and compromise with Democrats.

 
Read more here.

September 25, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An End to Virginia's Abortion Battles?

From The Washington Post:

THE EFFORT to shutter abortion clinics in Virginia, launched by Republican lawmakers in 2011, has wilted under the weight of law and logic. Now the state’s Board of Health is poised to end the assault on abortion rights in the commonwealth. It’s high time.

The board, which meets Thursday, will consider rewriting regulations, intended solely to close the clinics, which were forced on it by then-attorney general Ken Cuccinelli II, a staunch opponent of abortion. The board, even when it was composed mainly of GOP appointees, in 2012, tried to shield the clinics from the legislature’s predations until Mr. Cuccinelli (R) threatened to withhold legal representation in the event board members were sued.

The rules apply exacting standards for the construction of new hospitals to existing, small, outpatient abortion clinics — a medically unjustified departure from long-standing practice for health-care facilities. Thirteen of Virginia’s 18 clinics remain in business only because the administration of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who took office last year, has granted temporary waivers delaying the regulations from taking effect.

Republican lawmakers said the rules were intended to protect the health and safety of women seeking abortions. That was always a flimsy cover story; there was no evidence of any risk to women’s health posed by previous standards.

Read more here.

September 16, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Texas Abortion Providers Ask Supreme Court to Reverse Ruling on Clinics

From The New York Times:

Abortion providers in Texas asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to reverse an appeals court ruling that would leave the state with 10 abortion clinics, down from more than 40. Should the court agree to hear the case, as appears likely, it could issue its first major abortion ruling since 2007 before its next term ends in June.

“Texas is the second-most-populous state in the nation — home to 5.4 million women of reproductive age,” the providers wrote in urging the court to hear the case. “More than 60,000 of those women choose to have an abortion each year.”

The case concerns two parts of a state law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.

The brief said that the law “would delay or prevent thousands of women from obtaining abortions and lead some to resort to unsafe or illegal methods of ending an unwanted pregnancy.”

Read more here.

September 12, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Christian Schools Ask Supreme Court to Strike Down Obamacare Abortion Mandate

From The Washington Examiner:

A group of Christian schools wants the Supreme Court to strike down an Obamacare mandate that they provide health plans that enable access to abortion-inducing pills, the latest religious nonprofits to challenge the law's mandate.

The group of four universities petitioned the Supreme Court on Friday after a lower appeals court upheld the mandate earlier this month. The universities are Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University and Mid-America Christian University.

"The government should not force faith-based organizations to be involved in providing abortion pills to their employees or students," said Gregory S. Baylor. Baylor is senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the schools.

The petition is the latest from several religious nonprofits objecting to an accommodation in the healthcare law for birth control and the abortion drugs.

Read more here.

July 30, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 29, 2015

Kansas Ban on 2nd-Trimester Abortion Procedure Delayed by Judge

From The New York Times:

A Kansas state judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a new law that would have banned the most common method of abortion in the second trimester.

The law, adopted in April and the first of its kind in the nation, would have barred a method known as dilation and evacuation, which doctors say is usually the safest and most convenient abortion technique after about the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy.

Abortion opponents labeled the procedure “dismemberment abortion,” defining it in the Kansas law as “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus.”

In a bench ruling on Thursday, Judge Larry D. Hendricks of Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, said he would block the law while a lawsuit challenging it proceeds.

Read more here.

June 29, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)