Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, May 8, 2015

Satirical Ad Campaign Takes Aim at Chile's Extreme Abortion Ban

The Daily Beast: Chile’s Shocking DIY Abortion Ad Campaign, by Nina Strochlic:

A viral satirical campaign—which shows women going to awful measures to “accidentally” lose a pregnancy—is critiquing the country’s strict anti-abortion laws.

“It’s important that you find a long and steep set of stairs,” a young, brunette woman says in Spanish to a hand-held camera. She walks up steps of an anonymous building. “Make sure there’s no security cameras, so no one can see you.” . . .

“In Chile an accidental abortion is the only kind of abortion that is not considered a crime,” the video displays in bold type. The satirical videos are part of a campaign launched last month called Abortion Tutorials. It was conceived for theMiles Organization, a reproductive rights NGO, by advertising agency Grey Chile. The groups are hoping the Chilean government will be shamed into reforming what is the strictest abortion law in the world. . . .

May 8, 2015 in Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fear of Parental Disapproval Leads Teens To Forgo Birth Control

CNN: Survey says teens skip birth control because they fear parental judgment, by Kelly Wallace:

Parents, if the following finding doesn't make you sit up and take notice when it comes to talking to your kids about sex and birth control, I'm not sure what will get your attention.

In a recent survey, 68% of teens said they agreed with this statement: The primary reason why they don't use birth control or protection is because they're afraid their parents will find out. . . .

May 8, 2015 in Contraception, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Study on Premature Babies and the Viability Standard in Abortion Law

TIME:  How a New Study on Premature Babies Could Influence the Abortion Debate, by Eliza Gray:

A new study showing that a tiny percentage of extremely premature babies born at 22 weeks can survive with extensive medical intervention could change the national conversation about abortion, though the research is unlikely to have a major effect on women’s access to abortions in the short term.

Pro-life advocates said the study—which was published by theNew England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday and found that 3.5% percent of 357 infants born at 22 weeks could survive without severe health problems if hospitals treated them—could benefit the pro-life movement by sparking discussion about the viability of premature babies. . . .

_______________________________

This article correctly points out that the study in no way contradicts or forces reconsideration of Supreme Court precedent governing pre- and post-viability abortions.  Unlike what some articles suggest, the Supreme Court has never set viability at a specific point in pregnancy (even in Roe), but rather has left the determination of viability to the provider to determine based on the individual facts surrounding each pregnancy.  Viability depends on many factors, including the type of medical facilities available.  

-CEB

May 8, 2015 in Abortion Bans, Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Oklahoma and Florida Abortion Waiting Period Laws Join This Year's "Flurry of Roadblocks"

The New York Times: State Legislatures Put Up Flurry of Roadblocks to Abortion, by Frances Robles:

Oklahoma’s governor this week approved a law extending to 72 hours the mandatory waiting period before a woman can have an abortion. Here in Florida, lawmakers enacted a 24-hour waiting period that requires two separate appointments — one for anultrasound and information about fetal development and another for the actual procedure.

These are just two laws in a surge of bills passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year that make it harder for women to have abortions. . . .

May 8, 2015 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Scholarship from Dov Fox

Dov Fox (University of San Diego Law) has posted new scholarship on SSRN. Below are the abstracts:

Dov Fox

Race Sorting in Family Formation:

Our laws afford enormous freedom not only to parents, but also to the intermediaries — adoption agencies, social workers, sperm banks, and egg vendors — that bring them together with (future) children. These middlemen routinely exercise this discretion to emphasize race in matching parents to the same-race gamete donors or adoptive children they tend to prefer. 

This Symposium Essay provides a conceptual framework to govern the use of race in decisions about family formation. This spectrum of salience-varying ways to manage racial information ranges from those that lay the greatest emphasis on race to those that soften or altogether exclude its expression. 

The Essay locates the operation of these different approaches in the law and practice of adoption and assisted reproduction. That race tends to reproduce itself within the family makes these unique contexts from which to ask what sort of racial self-understandings our multiracial democracy should seek to embody.
 

The State's Interest in Potential Life:

Courts have resolved a range of controversies by casual appeal to the state’s interest in “potential life” that the Supreme Court has held capable of overriding even fundamental rights. My analysis of this potential-life interest reveals its use to mean not one but four species of government concern that I call prenatal welfare, postnatal welfare, social values, and social effects. I demonstrate how these distinct state interests operate -- across a range of different contexts with varying levels of justificatory strength -- to resolve reproductive disputes in more precise and sound ways. I respond to institutional competence and social mediation challenges to disentangling potential-life interests. 
 

Religion and the Unborn under the First Amendment:

Assisted reproduction, stem cell research, and abortion are among the primary social controversies in which religion tends to play a conspicuous role. A prominent objection to government restrictions on such unborn-protective practices holds that they involve judgments about nascent human life that hew too closely to religion under constitutional principles that govern the separation of church and state. I argue that this Establishment Clause challenge trades on a misunderstanding of religion and its relationship to ideas about the unborn. It conflates four influences commonly associated with religion. The first three — compulsions of faith, promises of salvation, and obedience to God — are the ones that government may not endorse. But there is a fourth, involving broader visions about what makes society good, that legitimately animates state action. And it is this fourth influence, I will try to show, that best explains most efforts to protect fetuses and embryos. This isn't to say such laws don't have other constitutional problems; just that the First Amendment isn't one.

May 8, 2015 in Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Student Scholarship: A Different Approach to Regulating Abortion Clinics

Jessica Ettinger (Notre Dame) has posted Seeking Common Ground in the Abortion Regulation Debate on SSRN. Here is the abstract: 

This Note argues that requiring abortion clinics to adhere to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers is unconstitutional, at least in the context of those clinics that provide only medication abortion, because it unduly burdens a woman’s right to choose whether to obtain an abortion. Although there may be a rational basis to require abortion clinics offering surgical abortion procedures to meet surgical facility standards, no such basis attends the imposition of those requirements on clinics that provide nonsurgical services. Given the number of clinics that continue to close in the face of this new regulatory legislation — which significantly reduces access to abortion services, increases their cost, and makes them logistically more difficult to procure due to increased geographic travel — it is arguable that even requiring surgical abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards will result in an undue burden.

At the same time, however, state legislators have a valid interest in ensuring that abortion procedures are conducted in a safe manner. Although abortion clinics currently are subject to regulatory oversight outside the realm of state-specific statutes, the requirements currently in place govern the privacy of patients’ health records, laboratory testing practices, and workplace health and safety, but do not address directly the regulation of surgical procedures.

In light of the constitutional problems embedded in current state efforts to regulate abortion clinic facilities and the shortcomings of federal regulatory efforts, it may be time to entertain a different approach to abortion clinic regulation. Part I presents the legal framework and standards currently governing abortion legislation. Part II utilizes this foundation to evaluate current problems in state regulatory practices, spotlighting two pieces of recent state legislation that seek to impose ambulatory surgical center standards on all abortion clinic facilities within their borders. Lastly, Part III introduces and outlines an alternate means of regulation — accreditation — that offers common ground in the abortion debate by serving everyone’s interest in providing safe, accessible medical services to women.

April 30, 2015 in Scholarship and Research, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Americans' Views on Abortion Are Complex and Not Well Captured by Past Polls

ThinkProgress: Polls Have Been Misleading You About What Americans Actually Believe About Abortion, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

Do you know where most Americans stand on abortion? Thanks to the way that we’ve been polling on the issue for the past several decades, probably not.

Most media coverage on the subject would lead you to believe that abortion evenly splits the nation. According to pollsters, the country has barely budged on this issue since the procedure was first legalized in 1973. The leading polling organizations often refer to Americans’ views on abortion as “closely divided” and say this finding has been “stable” for decades. “The trend lines look about as flat as they can be,” Daniel Cox, the research director at the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, said on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Tresa Undem, who has more than a decade of experience conducting public opinion research for nonprofits, doesn’t think that’s true. . . .

Vox: What Americans Think of Abortion: It's Not So Black and White, by Sarah Kliff:

"Abortion is killing a baby. But I'm not saying it's always wrong."

This was the first thing David King told me when I called him in late March and asked him talk to me about his views on abortion.

King and I didn’t know each other when I called. He’s a former dairy farmer who now works at a Walmart in rural Ohio. A few weeks earlier, he’d been among the 1,067 adults randomly selected for a Vox poll on abortion policy. He gave our pollsters, communications and strategy firm PerryUndem, an answer that interested me. When asked whether he identified as pro-life or pro-choice, he didn’t pick one. He picked both. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion, Public Opinion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Recent Abortion Bans Elevate Politics Over the Judgment and Expertise of Doctors

RH Reality Check (4/17): Laws Banning Abortion Procedure ‘Substituting Political Decisions for Medical Decisions’, by Teddy Wilson: 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill into law Monday that criminalizes a medical procedure used during second-trimester abortions and for miscarriage management.

That came weeks after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed similar legislation, and now reproductive rights advocates are raising serious concerns about the lasting implications of these new, radically anti-choice laws.

“With this law, Oklahoma has joined Kansas in an alarming trend toward substituting politicians’ agendas for the judgment and expertise of doctors, and then threatening those doctors with criminal charges if they disagree,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. . . . 

The Hill - Congress blog (4/17): Political attacks on abortion legislate bad medicine, by Vanessa Cullins, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.:  

The latest wave of state legislation to restrict abortion access is based on bad medicine and would prevent doctors from providing medical care based on their judgment of what’s best for each patient. . . .

It is unacceptable for politicians to force doctors, under penalty of law, to go against our training and expertise. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Many Health Insurers Not Complying with Federal Contraception Rule

The New York Times: Insurers Flout Rule Covering Birth Control, Studies Find, by Robert Pear:

Health insurance companies often flout a federal requirement that they cover all approved methods of birth control for women without co-payments or other charges, a major benefit of the Affordable Care Act, two new studies have found.

Responding to the reports, senior Democratic members of Congress prodded the White House on Wednesday to step up enforcement of the requirement. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Congress, Contraception | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

10-Year-Old Paraguayan Girl, Raped by Stepfather, Is Denied an Abortion

Metro.co.uk: Pregnant girl, 10, ‘denied life-saving abortion after being raped by stepfather’, by Harry Readhead:

A 10-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather has allegedly been denied the abortion she desperately needs.

The child was found to be 21 weeks pregnant after arriving at hospital in Asunción, Paraguay, this month complaining of stomach pains.

Amnesty International reports that the girl’s pregnancy came as a result of being raped by her stepfather, but she has allegedly been denied a life-saving abortion and sent to a centre for young mothers instead. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion Bans, International, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cecile Richards Encourages Public Dialogue on Abortion

TIME - Ideas: We Need to Talk—Really Talk—About Abortion, by Cecile Richards:

America has an urgent need for authentic public dialogue about abortion

When Jemima Kirke, an artist and star of HBO’s Girls, recently talked openly about her personal experience with abortion, media took notice. Her story made it plain that, too often, women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health care is seriously limited due to their economic circumstances and because of the part of the country where they live. Jemima’s story was also a reminder that the ability to decide when or whether to have children is key to women’s opportunity to be financially secure and pursue their dreams. In recent years, spurred on by the reproductive justice movement, young people are refusing to be shamed or silenced about their personal decisions around abortion. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion, Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Governor Brownback Reenacts Signing of Kansas Abortion Ban at Ceremonies Across State

ThinkProgress: In Bizarre Stunt, Governor Pretends To Sign Extreme Abortion Ban For Group Of Teenagers, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

Three weeks ago, Kansas became the first state in the country to ban a specific type of second-trimester abortion procedure, after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a so-called “dismemberment” ban in a closed-door ceremony. But Brownback isn’t stopping there.

According to a photo tweeted out by Brownback’s office, the governor was flanked by large photos of fetuses as he approved Senate Bill 95 at the beginning of April. A few days later, Oklahoma followed in Kansas’ footsteps and approved an identical measure. Perhaps seeking to solidify Kansas’ status as the first state to venture into this area, Brownback is now taking it a step further.

On Tuesday, the governor traveled to four different cities across Kansas to reenact the signing of SB 95 in public ceremonies that teenagers could attend. The events took place at a Catholic church education building and three Catholic high schools. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New York Times Op-Ed on Frozen Embryos Prompts Outrage

The New York Times op-ed: Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live, by Nick Loeb:

LAST August, I filed a complaint in Santa Monica, Calif., using pseudonyms, to protect two frozen embryos I created with my former fiancée. I wanted to keep this private, but recently the story broke to the world. It has gotten attention not only because of the people involved — my ex is Sofía Vergara, who stars in the ABC series “Modern Family” — but also because embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood.

When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property? Does one person’s desire to avoid biological parenthood (free of any legal obligations) outweigh another’s religious beliefs in the sanctity of life and desire to be a parent? . . .

The New York Times - Public Editor's Journal: Frozen Embryos Article Was Intended to Spark Debate: Mission Accomplished, by Margaret Sullivan:

An Op-Ed essay titled “Sofía Vergara’s Ex-Fiancé: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live” started to draw fire almost immediately after its publication Wednesday night.

The vehemence of reader criticism prompted me to ask Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor who supervises the opinion-side sections of The Times, for response. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Assisted Reproduction, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Book Highlights How Anti-Abortion Terrorism Affects Abortion Providers' Daily Lives

ThinkProgress: How Anyone Who Works At An Abortion Clinic Becomes A Target For Violence And Harassment, by Tara Culp-Ressler: 

Joan, the president of a network of women’s health clinics in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, isn’t comfortable using her real name in this story because her private residence was vandalized last year. Someone threw a bucket of red paint all over her house. . . .

Joan is just one of the dozens of people who’s featured in a new book that attempts to detail the scope of anti-abortion harassment present in clinic staffers’ everyday lives. Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism argues that, although most Americans don’t realize it, many of the people who work in the field of abortion are living in a state of heightened fear and anxiety because targeted harassment follows them everywhere.

The book’s authors, law professor David Cohen and practicing attorney Krysten Connon, once worked together to represent abortion providers in Philadelphia and were struck by the stories of stalking and intimidation they heard in court. . . . 

April 30, 2015 in Anti-Choice Movement, Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kansas and Oklahoma Pass Bans on Safe and Common Method of Second-Trimester Abortion

U.S. News & World Report: Oklahoma Approves Ban on Second-Trimester Abortion Method, by Sean Murphy:

Oklahoma would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus under a measure that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Wednesday, a day after Kansas became the first state to prohibit the same procedure.

The Senate voted 37-4 for the bill, which now goes to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she has previously signed other anti-abortion measures. . . .

The New York Times: Kansas Limits Abortion Method, Opening a New Line of Attack, by Erik Eckholm & Frances Robles:

Kansas on Tuesday became the first state to sharply restrict or alter the most common technique used for second-trimester abortions, opening a new, emotionally charged line of attack by anti-abortion forces who hope to take it swiftly to other states. . . .

The New York Times (editorial): Kansas Tries to Stamp Out Abortion:

During the past four years, the state of Kansas has become ground zero in the war to criminalize all abortions, and in the process to remove a woman’s ability to control what happens in her own body.

Under Gov. Sam Brownback, a staunch foe of a woman’s right to choose, Kansas’s increasingly hard-line conservative lawmakershave enacted more than two dozen restrictions curtailing women’s reproductive freedom. . . .

On Tuesday the state went still further, becoming the first to ban the safest and by far the most common method of ending a second-trimester pregnancy, dilation and evacuation, which involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus, often in parts. (On Wednesday, a similar bill passed the Oklahoma Legislature, and awaits the governor’s signature. Bills are also pending in Missouri and South Carolina.) . . .

April 9, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arkansas Joins Arizona with New Law Requiring Information About Unproven "Abortion Reversal" Procedure

The Washington Post: In Arizona, Arkansas, women must be told that abortion can be ‘reversed’, by Sandhya Somashekhar:

New laws in Arkansas and Arizona require doctors to inform women that drug-induced abortions can be “reversed” mid-procedure, a claim that quickly drew charges of “junk science” from abortion-rights groups and many doctors.

The Arkansas law took effect late Monday, after Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed it. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed his state’s bill into law earlier this month. . . .

April 9, 2015 in Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Alyson Zureick on Denial of Abortion as a Form of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment

Alyson Zureick (J.D. 2014, NYU Law) has posted (En)Gendering Suffering: Denial of Abortion as a Form of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on SSRN. Here is the abstract: 

The regulation of abortion has long been considered a prerogative of the state. In recent years, however, international human rights bodies have begun to consider the conformity of domestic abortion regulations with a state’s human rights obligations. This paper examines a notable trend among human rights bodies: namely, finding that denying or obstructing a woman’s access to abortion can amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under multiple human rights treaties. First, human rights bodies have found that states can be responsible for CIDT inflicted on women who are harassed and denied services that are legally available to them under the state’s laws. Second, human rights bodies have found that the application of restrictive abortion laws themselves may inflict CIDT by depriving women of an abortion in particularly serious cases, such as rape or when the woman’s life is threatened. I argue that these findings reflect an understanding that certain restrictions on abortion — or the state’s failure to act to prevent de facto restrictions from arising — are unjustifiable and disproportionate to lawful state aims. They also demonstrate a limited but important recognition that deprivations of autonomy in the reproductive rights context can lead to the kind of pain and suffering that is unacceptable in modern societies. At the same time, I argue that human rights bodies should further strengthen their understanding of women’s autonomy interests in this context, particularly the ways in which the frustration of their reproductive autonomy can inflict severe and unacceptable pain or suffering tantamount to CIDT.

April 9, 2015 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 3, 2015

New Arizona Law Would Require Providers to Tell Patients About Unproven "Abortion Reversal" Process

U.S. News & World Report: Arizona Abortion Law Pushes Boundaries of What Providers Must Tell Patients, by Tierney Sneed:

An unprecedented abortion law signed by Arizona's governor this week would require providers to inform patients that a drug treatment to end pregnancy may be reversed midway through – a mandate pro-abortion rights activists are denouncing as the latest effort by a state to employ questionable science in a politically motivated effort to discourage women from undergoing the procedure. . . .

By and large, the medical community has lined up against the Arizona law.

“Claims of medication abortion reversal are not supported by the body of scientific evidence,” the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said. . . .

April 3, 2015 in Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Indiana Court Applies Fetal Homicide Law to Pregnant Woman, Sentencing Her to 20 Years

Vox: An Indiana woman is facing 20 years in prison for "feticide", by Christophe Haubursin: 

Indiana did something unprecedented this week: it sentenced a woman to a 20-year prison sentence for violating a decades-old feticide law.

Purvi Patel's conviction, announced on Monday, is the first American case in which a court has found a pregnant woman guilty of violating a fetal homicide law. . . .

April 3, 2015 in Fetal Rights, Incarcerated Women, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Some Colorado Legislators Aim to Exploit Brutal Attack on Pregnant Woman to Promote Fetal Personhood

The Daily Beast: Colorado Seeks Fetal Murder Law After Attack On Pregnant Woman, by Brandy Zadrozny:

Abortion advocates fear a gruesome attack on a pregnant woman in Colorado will be used to push through strict ‘personhood’ laws that could be used to prosecute women terminating their pregnancies.

Energized by national outrage over a grisly attack on a pregnant woman whose unborn baby died after being cut from her womb, a Colorado lawmaker is poised to push a new fetal homicide law in the state, leading to concern that Republicans might be turning a tragedy into a talking point for anti-abortion legislation. . . .

__________________________________

Anyone who believes these laws don't pose a threat to pregnant women need look no further than Indiana.

-CEB

April 3, 2015 in Fetal Rights, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)