Monday, April 10, 2006
"It was a sunny midafternoon in a shiny new global-economy mall in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, and a young woman I was hoping to meet appeared to be getting cold feet. She had agreed to rendezvous with a go-between not far from the Payless shoe store and then come to a nearby hotel to talk to me. She was an hour late. Alone in the hotel lobby, I was feeling nervous; I was stood up the day before by another woman in a similar situation. I had been warned that interviewing anyone who had had an abortion in El Salvador would be difficult. The problem was not simply that in this very Catholic country a shy 24-year-old unmarried woman might feel shame telling her story to an older man. There was also the criminal stigma. And this was why I had come to El Salvador: Abortion is a serious felony here for everyone involved, including the woman who has the abortion. Some young women are now serving prison sentences, a few as long as 30 years.
More than a dozen countries have liberalized their abortion laws in recent years, including South Africa, Switzerland, Cambodia and Chad. In a handful of others, including Russia and the United States (or parts of it), the movement has been toward criminalizing more and different types of abortions. In South Dakota, the governor recently signed the most restrictive abortion bill since the Supreme Court ruled in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, that state laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional. The South Dakota law, which its backers acknowledge is designed to test Roe v. Wade in the courts, forbids abortion, including those cases in which the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Only if an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother is the procedure permitted. A similar though less restrictive bill is now making its way through the Mississippi Legislature." By Jack Hitt, New York Times Link to Article (last visited 4-9-06 NVS)
"Two Chinese students needed urgent medical treatment after taking illegal abortion pills, says a Chinese doctor in Christchurch. Dr Colin Chin said the two students came to his clinic independently more than 18 months ago "bleeding and in pain" from incomplete abortions. One student admitted her parents sent her the pills from overseas, and the other woman would not say where she got them. Last week, the Ministry of Health's Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe) laid charges against importers of Chinese-manufactured contraception and abortion pills. They were being imported privately and advertised on a Chinese language website for the past 18 months. The accused are due to appear in court next month."By Deidre Mussen, stuff Link to Article (last visited 4-9-06 NVS)
"A major symposium on abortion in Wellington has revealed that more than two-thirds of terminations in New Zealand are carried out on women who are more than 10 weeks pregnant - about twice the rate of comparable countries. In Britain, Europe and US, 30 per cent of abortions are performed on women eight weeks pregnant or less, while in New Zealand the figure is just 8 per cent." www.stuff.co.nz Link to Article (last visited 4-9-06 NVS)
Volunteers pushing to overturn the nation's most far-reaching abortion ban are surprised and delighted by the response as they circulate petitions to put the law up for a public vote. Even in the most conservative corners of this conservative state, both Republicans and Democrats - including some voters who say they oppose abortion - are eagerly signing the petition. In two weeks, volunteers have collected a third of the signatures they need to get a November referendum on the ban. Some voters dismiss the abortion-rights activists as out of touch with South Dakotan values. "People here have a sense of morals and ethics," said Darcy Patterson, 40. "I don't want to change the law."" Lost Angeles Times, HeraldNet Link to Article (last visited 4-9-06 NVS)
"About 70 Right to Life Australia activists converged on St Columbus Church in bayside Elwood to mark the end of a 250km awareness march from Maffra, in the state's east.They were met by a group of about 10 vocal pro-choice campaigners who heckled them as they arrived, waving placards and chanting "not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate". A handful of police was on site to monitor the groups but the demonstration was peaceful." By Catherine Best, The Daily Telegraph Link to Article (last visted 4-9-06 NVS)
Saturday, April 8, 2006
New Jersey Court of Appeals Says Jury May Hear Claim Woman Did Not Receive Enough Information From Physician When Advising Abortion
A New Jersey Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a jury may hear a woman’s claim that her physician failed to provide enough information when advising her to end the pregnancy. Anti-abortion proponents claim the decision will allow a jury to decide when life begins. Other experts claim the ruling will have little impact on state laws on abortion. Source. Tom Hester, Star-Ledger, The Star Ledger, nj.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited April 8, 2006, reo). A copy of the New Jersey Court of Appeals Opinion may be obtained by clicking here (last visited April 8, 2006, reo).
Friday, April 7, 2006
Case Law Development: Florida Court of Appeals Explains Standards for Waiving Parental Notification Requirement
The Florida Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's order dismissing her petition for judicial waiver of parental notification of pregnancy by unpublished order and has now provided an an opinion to explain the decision. Florida's parental notification statute provides three exceptions justifying judicial waiver of the requirement: child abuse, maturity of the child, and best interests of the child.
The court explained that the trial court had applied an incorrect definition of "sufficiently mature." Citing decisions from a number of other states on the standard, the court stated, "The circuit court improperly held Doe to the standard of a fully-grown adult, quoting Webster's definition of a mature person as one "fully developed in body and mind." The statute does not require Doe to prove that she has the maturity of an adult....In determining whether a minor is "sufficiently mature," the court need only find that the minor has the necessary emotional development, intellect and understanding to make an informed decision regarding terminating her pregnancy. ... Factors which evidence sufficient maturity include, but are not limited to, the minor's physical age, her understanding of the medical risks associated with the procedure as well as emotional consequences, her consideration of options other than abortion, her future educational and life plans, her involvement in civic activities, any employment, her demeanor and her seeking advice or emotional support from an adult....The statutory term "sufficiently mature" does not require Doe to be self-sufficient."
In re Jane Doe, 2006 Fla. App. LEXIS 4860 (April 5, 2006)
Opinion on the web (last visited April 7, 2006 bgf)
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
The Arizona Senate approved a bill 17-13 Tuesday that requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions that their fetuses could experience pain even if the women receive pain medication. The bill had earlier passed the House and now goes to Governor Janet Napolitano, who since taking office in 2003 has vetoed several measures supported by abortion opponents. Supporters claimed the bill would help ensure that women could make informed decisions about their health. Critics claimed the bill is intended to erode abortion rights. Source: AP, Tucsoncitizen.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited April 5, 2006, reo).
It is reported that hundreds of thousands of abortion opponents demonstrated in Bogota, Colombia on Sunday. The demonstration was apparently called by the pro-life movement in conjunction with Cardinal Pedro Rubiano, Archbishop of Bogota. A case before Bogota's Constitutional Court that is likely to be decided within a month will determine whether abortion should be legalized in that country. Source. John-Henry Westen, lifesite.net. For the complete story, please click here (last visited April 5, 2006, reo).
Sunday, April 2, 2006
The leader of one of South Dakota’s American Indian tribes is proposing to circumvent recent legislation in that state banning abortions by establishing a Planned Parenthood-type abortion clinic on an Indian reservation. Cecelia Fire Thunder, a former nurse who is the first female president in the history of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, says that “An Indian reservation is a sovereign nation, and we're going to take it as far as we can to exercise our sovereignty. As Indian women, we fight many battles. This is just another battle we have to fight." She attributes the decision to propose an abortion clinic on tribal land to the new law’s insistence on prohibiting abortions for women who have become pregnant as the result of rape. Source. Stephanie Desmon, Baltimore Sun, sfgate.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited April 2, 2006, reo).
Despite extending the deadline to act on a law that would have banned most abortions in Mississippi, lawmakers in that state were unable to reach agreement on the bill’s final language. The issue is expected to be taken up in the January 2007 session. Sources. Gudrun Schultz, lifesite.net; civilliberty.about.com. Information about this story may be found here (last visited April 2, 2006, reo). Additional information about this story may be found here (last visited April 2, 2006, reo).
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Our readers may find Sunday’s survey article in the Boston Globe by staff writer Drake Bennett on the reproductive rights of men and women timely and interesting. Source: Drake Bennett, The Boston Globe, boston.com. To access the article by Mr. Bennett, please click here (last visited March 26, 2006).
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Case Law Development: Sixth Circuit Federal Appeals Court Approves Tennessee Pro-Life-Only License Plate Plan – Rejects Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Analysis
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on Friday 2-1 that Tennessee can offer a pro-life specialty license plate even though it does not offer a pro-choice license plate to state drivers. The lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, contended that the issuance of only pro-life plates signaled government endorsement of that view.
Judge Rogers, in rejecting the challenge, wrote for the majority on the panel that “In this case we are required to decide the constitutionality of Tennessee’s statute making available the purchase of automobile license plates with a `Choose Life’ inscription, but not making available the purchase of automobile license plates with a `pro-choice’ or pro-abortion rights message.” He went on to hold that “Although this exercise of government one-sidedness with respect to a very contentious political issue may be ill-advised, we are unable to conclude that the Tennessee statute contravenes the First Amendment.”
On the merits, the court said that it was faced with a purely legal issue: whether a government-crafted message disseminated by private volunteers creates a “forum” for speech that must be viewpoint neutral. The Plaintiffs argued that “Choose Life” on specialty plates should be treated not as Tennessee’s own message, which is allowed, but as “mixed” speech subject to a viewpoint-neutrality requirement. In rejecting the Plaintiff’s contention, the court stated that “First, there is nothing implausible about the notion that Tennessee would use its license plate program to convey messages regarding over one hundred groups, ideologies, activities, and colleges. Government in this age is large and involved in practically every aspect of life. . . . Second, . . . the participation of New Life in designing the “Choose Life” logotype has little or no relevance to whether a plate expresses a government message. Third, . . . a government-crafted message is government speech even if the government does not explicitly credit itself as the speaker.” The panel reasoned that “[I]nvalidating the Act in this case would effectively invalidate not only all those government specialty license plate provisions that involve a message that anyone might disagree with, but also effectively invalidate all manner of other long-accepted practices in the form of government-crafted messages disseminated by private volunteers. We are not provided with a sound legal basis for making such a leap.”
The majority recognized its disagreement with the Fourth Circuit, which has invalidated a nearly identical specialty license plate law in South Carolina. See Planned Parenthood of S.C., Inc., v. Rose, 361 F.3d 786 (4th Cir. 2004). Judge Martin, in dissent, stated that it was apparent to him that “the state created the specialty license plate program to facilitate private speech (notwithstanding the government speech aspects inherent in the issuance of a license plate), and not to promote a governmental message. This fact, even conceding that there must necessarily be some governmental speech involved in the issuance of license plates, requires that the government be viewpoint neutral.” ACLU, et. al. v. Tennessee, et. al., filed March 17, 2006. Download the Sixth_Circuit_license_plate_decision here.pdf (reo)
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Last Thursday the Tennessee Senate approved legislation that would allow a statewide constitutional referendum in 2010 to ratify new constitutional language that reads: "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." The measure passed on a bipartisan vote of 24-9. In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court had struck down a series of abortion restrictions found in Tennessee law. However, some observers contend that in those rulings the court suggested that the Tennessee Constitution contains a stronger, implicit right to privacy than the United States Supreme Court has recognized in the United States Constitution. Source: The Tennessean.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 15, 2006, reo).
Just ten days after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that parents of children with birth defects can sue phyisicians who fail to identify abnormalities, the Ohio House has passed a bill banning such actions. The bill has been sent to Governor Bob Taft, who is expected to sign it. Source: Jim Siegel, The Columbus Dispatch, columbusdispatch.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 15, 2006, reo).
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Our readers may find a column in the Los Angeles Times authored by Professor Samuel Buell on the implications of South Dakota’s new abortion law of interest. It is entitled, “Abortion law's criminal loophole.” Samuel W. Buell is a visiting professor at the University of Texas School of Law. Source: Samuel W. Buell, latimes.com. Please click here to read Professor Buell’s column (last visited March 12, 2006, reo).
Saturday, March 11, 2006
On Tuesday the Arizona House approved two bills 39-18 aimed at making Arizona's law tougher on abortions. HB2666 would require that consent forms signed by parents be notarized while HB2776 would spell out criteria, including a girl's age and experiences outside the home, that judges should consider when weighing whether to exempt a girl seeking an abortion from the consent requirement. Both bills were sent on to the Arizona Senate for consideration. Source: KVOA4-TV, kvoa.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 11, 2006, reo).
The Tennessee Senate by a vote of 24-9 passed a proposed abortion ban amendment to the State Constitution on Thursday. The proposed Amendment would read that "Nothing in Tennessee's constitution secures or protects the right to an abortion or funding of an abortion." The matter now goes to the Tennessee House. Source: NewsChannel5.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 11, 2006, reo).
A Louisiana legislator has filed a bill in that state’s legislature this week that would ban abortions except when the mother's life is in danger and in rape and incest cases within 13 weeks of conception. Doctors found guilty of performing abortions in other situations would face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $100,000. A similar bill was passed in 1991 but ruled unconstitutional by the Fifth United States Circuit Court of Appeals. This bill is viewed as not as strict as the South Dakota bill signed into law last week that allows an abortion only to save a mother’s life. Source: Doug Simpson, AP, SunHerald.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 11, 2006, reo).
The Chicago Tribune reports that a Michigan man who claims he was tricked into fatherhood filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Chicago this week in an effort to establish a man's right to decide whether to have children. The man, who impregnated a woman out of wedlock, asserts that he has a constitutional freedom to "choose not to be a father" under the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Suffolk Law School Professor Charles Kindregan Jr., is quoted in the Tribune as stating that the action is a “lost cause," because the only way to enforce a man's right not to father a child after conception would be to compel the woman to have an abortion, and the courts will not compel a woman to have an abortion. Source: Judith Graham, Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 11, 2006, reo).