Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, October 17, 2014

TRAP Laws Impose Costs, Even When Clinics Stay Open

RH Reality Check: The Hidden Costs of Abortion Restrictions, by Carole Joffe (Univ. of Calif.):

“You walk into our surgery center and it’s so cold and scary. There’s no art. The lights are bright, the recovery rooms smell like bleach. All the staff are wearing gowns and head and foot covers and the patients have to wear the same thing … and there’s nothing comforting about it. The warmth is gone.”

As recent events in Texas have made clear, when it comes to abortion care, the worst outcome of the current onslaught of state-imposed targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP laws) is the forced closing of clinics. But even clinics in affected states that manage to stay open suffer costs. . . .

October 17, 2014 in Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reviews of Katha Pollitt's "Pro," And Interviews with Pollitt

The New York Times: Take Back the Right: Katha Pollitt's 'Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights', by Clara Jeffery:

“I never had an abortion, but my mother did. She didn’t tell me about it, but from what I pieced together after her death from a line in her F.B.I. file, which my father, the old radical, had requested along with his own, it was in 1960, so like almost all abortions back then, it was illegal.”

Thus begins “Pro,” the abortion rights manifesto by the Nation columnist, poet and red diaper baby Katha Pollitt. While parents with F.B.I. files may be exotic, her departure point is that abortion was and is not. . . .

The Chicago Tribune: Review: 'Pro' by Katha Pollitt, by Martha Bayne:

. . . Over the book's 200-odd pages, Pollitt — longtime columnist for The Nation and all-around feminist public thinker — charts with passion and intellectual rigor just how much the lives of American women have changed since 1960, and how very much they haven't. . . .

Here's an interview with Pollitt:

Democracy Now: Abortion as a Social Good: Author Katha Pollitt Pens New Vision for Pro-Choice Movement

And a roundtable on Minnesota Public Radio among Pollitt, Sarah Stoesz, President of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund, and Teresa Collett, Professor of Law at the University of St Thomas:

MPR News: The politics and policy of abortion

October 17, 2014 in Abortion, Books, Culture, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Excerpt from Katha Pollitt's New Book, "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights"

The Huffington Post -- The Blog: The Abortion Conversation We Need To Have, by Katha Pollitt:

Abortion. We need to talk about it. I know, sometimes it seems as if we talk of little else, so perhaps I should say we need to talk about it differently. Not as something we all agree is a bad thing about which we shake our heads sadly and then debate its precise degree of badness, preening ourselves on our judiciousness and moral seriousness as we argue about this or that restriction on this or that kind of woman.

We need to talk about ending a pregnancy as a common, even normal, event in the reproductive lives of women -- and not just modern American women either, but women throughout history and all over the world, from ancient Egypt to medieval Catholic Europe, from today's sprawling cities to rural villages barely touched by modern ideas about women's roles and rights. . . .

October 17, 2014 in Books, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Texas Abortion Clinics Can Reopen for Now, But Future Is Uncertain

The New York Times: Texas Abortion Clinics to Reopen Despite a Future in Legal Limbo, by Erik Eckholm:

A day after the Supreme Court blocked a Texas law that had forced abortion clinics to close, some of the shuttered facilities prepared to reopen, pleased at the reprieve but mindful that the legal fight was far from over.

Tuesday’s order increased the chances, legal experts said, of a major face-off in the Supreme Court over a crucial question: What restrictions add up to an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to abortion? . . .

While the order did not necessarily reveal how or whether the Supreme Court might ultimately rule, it did indicate that the justices “saw the potentially irrevocable damage if the clinics were forced to close,” said Caitlin E. Borgmann, a professor at the CUNY School of Law in New York.

 . . . The basic issue, Ms. Borgmann said, is how much a state may restrict abortion without banning it altogether.

“How much travel is too much? How much do costs matter? These are questions the Supreme Court has never answered,” Ms. Borgmann said, adding that appeals of the Texas law could give the court an opportunity to clarify the issue. . . .

October 15, 2014 in Supreme Court, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Richmond Journal of Law & the Public Interest: Call for Papers

From the Richmond Journal of Law & the Public Interest:

The Richmond Journal of Law & the Public Interest is seeking submissions for our 2015 Spring volume.  We welcome high quality and well cited submissions from academics, judges, and established practitioners who would like to take part in the conversation of the evolution of law and its impact on citizens.

We currently have five total openings for articles for the two general issues of our volume.  As a Journal that centers in large part on the Public Interest, we would be happy to accept and review articles on a broad range of topics that affect citizens on a national level or in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  For a sense of what we are seeking for our general issues, please feel free to visit http://rjolpi.richmond.edu/archive.php. 

If you would like to submit an article for review and possibly publication, or if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact our Lead Articles Editors - Rich Forzani and Hillary Wallace.  They can be reached, respectively, at rich.forzani@richmond.edu and hillary.wallace@richmond.edu.

October 15, 2014 in Law School, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jonathan Eig, Author of 'The Birth of the Pill,' Interviewed in The New Republic

The New Republic: It's Astounding That We're Still Debating the Pill After 50 Years, by Rebecca Leber:

It wasn't easy to create a birth control pill in an era where contraception, along with abortion, was still illegal in most of the country. In his new book, The Birth of the Pill, veteran journalist Jonathan Eig writes on the history of how four people came together to make oral contraceptives a reality in the 1950s. (Ann Friedman reviewed it for the New Republic here). The creators wouldn't have expected the challenges women still face today to their reproductive rights.I spoke to Eig about this in the context of the contemporary debate on abortion and contraception in America. . . .

October 15, 2014 in Books, Contraception | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Texas Abortion Restrictions, Allowing Clinics to Remain Open

The New York Times:  Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics to Stay Open, by Adam Liptak:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking a state law that had imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. Had the law been allowed to stand, it would have caused all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics to close and would have required many women to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion provider.

The Supreme Court’s order — five sentences long and with no explanation of the justices’ reasoning — represents an interim step in a legal fight that is far from over. But abortion rights advocates welcomed what they said was the enormous practical impact of the move. Had the clinics been forced to remain closed while appeals went forward, they said, they might never have reopened. . . .

The Supreme Court, in an unsigned order apparently reflecting the views of six justices, blocked the surgical-center requirement entirely and the admitting-privileges requirement as it applied to clinics in McAllen, Tex., and El Paso.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have allowed the law to be enforced. . . .

See also: SCOTUSblog:  Court blocks abortion limits in Texas, by Lyle Denniston.

____________________________

This is significant, because when the Court last November considered only the admitting privileges portion of this law on an emergency basis, it refused to block the Fifth Circuit's ruling that allowed the law to take effect.  That time, the 4 liberal Justices dissented.

October 15, 2014 in Abortion, Supreme Court, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Abortion Providers Ask Supreme Court for Emergency Relief from Texas's New Abortion Regulations

The Houston Chronicle : Abortion providers ask Supreme Court for reprieve, by Brian M. Rosenthal:

Abortion providers urged the U.S. Supreme Court for a reprieve from Texas' tough new regulations Monday evening, turning to the high court four days after a federal appeals court ruling to allow enforcement of the regulations forced all but eight clinics in the state to close. . . .

Politico: New abortion cases could reach Supreme Court, by Jennifer Haberkorn:

The Supreme Court was asked Monday to block parts of a Texas law that restricts access to abortion, an emergency request that could be just the first of several abortion-related cases to reach the court in the upcoming term.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Thursday allowed Texas to implement a law that restricts abortion providers and immediately shuttered all but seven of the state’s remaining clinics. On Monday, the women’s health facilities asked the high court to essentially undo that decision, allowing them to remain open as the legal fight proceeds. . . .

October 6, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dov Fox on Racial Classification in Assisted Reproduction

The Huffington Post -- The Blog: Reproducing Race, by Dov Fox (University of San Diego Law):

More than a million children in the U.S. each year are conceived with donated sperm or eggs. Sperm banks and egg vendors offer online ordering and direct shipping of donor materials that prospective parents can shop for based on SAT scores, personality tests, and celebrity likeness

"[W]hat we try to do is give [parents] as much choice as possible," explains Dr. Cappy Rothman, co-founder of the world's leading sperm bank, California Cryobank. "If our customers wanted high school dropouts," he adds, "we would give them high-school dropouts."

What many of these (mostly white) parents want is a child who will look like they do. This means picking a donor who is, like them, white. . . .

October 6, 2014 in Assisted Reproduction, Race & Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Alabama Law Puts Teens Seeking Abortion on Trial

ThinkProgress:  Alabama’s Abortion Law Puts Minors On Trial And Gives Their Fetuses A Lawyer, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against Alabama this week in an attempt to overturn what the group suggests may be the most radical parental consent law in the country. Under a new law that went into effect this summer, minors who are seeking to bypass their parents’ consent to get an abortion are essentially put on trial. The state is allowed to appoint a lawyer for their fetus and call witnesses to testify about the teenager’s character. . . .

October 3, 2014 in Abortion, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fifth Circuit Panel Allows Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center Law To Take Effect, Shutting Down Most of State's Clinics

The New York Times: Reversal Allows Abortion Law, Forcing 13 Texas Clinics to Close, by Manny Fernandez:

Thirteen abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close immediately after a federal appellate court on Thursday sided with Texas in its yearlong legal battle over its sweeping abortion law and allowed the state to enforce one of the law’s toughest provisions while the case was being appealed.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, will have a far-reaching effect on abortion services in Texas, lawyers for abortion providers said. The ruling gave Texas permission to require all abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards as hospital-style surgical centers, standards that abortion providers said were unnecessary and costly, but that the state argued improved patient safety. . . .

The Los Angeles Times: Most abortion clinics in Texas will be forced to close under court ruling, by Maria L. La Ganga:

Nearly two-thirds of abortion clinics in Texas must close immediately after a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the state could enforce its law requiring those facilities to be built to the same stringent standards as hospitals.

The requirement is part of a sweeping piece of legislation called House Bill 2, which includes several measures that undermine women’s access to abortion. The mandate was struck down in late August by a federal judge in Austin, who ruled that it was unconstitutional because it put an undue burden on women seeking healthcare. He put the requirement on hold while the state appealed. . . .

___________________________________________

The decision is available here.

October 3, 2014 in In the Courts, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 29, 2014

NYT Editorial on Democrats' Increasing Willingness to Challenge Conservative Positions on Abortion

The New York Times editorial: The Tide of the Culture War Shifts:

Not long ago, it would have been unusual for a Democratic senatorial candidate in Iowa to run a powerful abortion-rights television ad like the one recently broadcast by Representative Bruce Braley.

The ad lists in detail the anti-abortion positions taken by Mr. Braley’s Republican opponent, Joni Ernst. In the State Senate, the ad says, she sponsored a “personhood” amendment (declaring a fertilized egg to be a person) that would have the effect of outlawing abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and would also ban many common forms of birth control. Ms. Ernst is even shown saying at a debate that she favors criminal punishment for doctors who perform abortions; the ad describes her position as “radical.”

Ms. Ernst’s personhood ideas, shared by at least five other Republican candidates for United States Senate this year, have been radical for years. What’s new is that Democrats are increasingly willing to say so. . . .

September 29, 2014 in Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Former Abortion Doula Recounts Her Volunteer Work with Abortion Patients

New York Magazine: My Year As an Abortion Doula, by Alex Ronan:

Welcome to Ovaries Week — the Cut's exploration of the female reproductive system, in its many confusing, intense, sometimes challenging, sometimes funny, often surprising facets. 

My first patient ever stares at me blankly when I say the doctor will see her soon. Her two small children treat the waiting room chairs like monkey bars; they’ve been sitting around for hours. Dee (some names have been changed throughout) is here to get laminaria inserted, the small seaweed sticks positioned in the cervix that expand upon contact with moisture, producing enough dilation to enable a second trimester abortion, which will happen tomorrow. I know I’m not succeeding at giving her the warm, confident assurance I’ve practiced in the mirror. . . .

September 14, 2014 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 12, 2014

NYT Op-Ed Author Shares the Story of Her Abortions

The New York Times op-ed:  This Is What an Abortion Looks Like, by Merritt Tierce:

I MET Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator and Democratic candidate for governor, for the first time last week, and I told her how much it meant to me that she wasn’t afraid to talk about abortion. But we need a much larger conversation about abortion — one that also includes, without prejudice, the stories unlikely to generate much sympathy. Stories like mine.

Ms. Davis’s background feels familiar to me. She became a single mother at 19, her first marriage lasted only two years, and she worked as a receptionist and waitress until she could afford to go back to school. I had two children by the time I was 21, filed for divorce at 23, and worked as a secretary and waitress. Thanks to the support of friends and family, and especially my ex-husband, the father of my children, I was able to go back to school in 2009. And like Ms. Davis, I have also had two abortions. . . .

September 12, 2014 in Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Missouri Republicans Override Veto to Enact 72-Hour Waiting Period for Abortions

Kansas City Star - The Buzz blog: Missouri Republicans override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of 72-hour abortion waiting period, by Jason Hancock:

Missouri Republicans made history late Wednesday night, turning to a rarely-used procedural move to kill a filibuster and force into law a bill tripling the waiting period to have an abortion.

Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus, a Kansas City Democrat, led a filibuster of the bill that requires women to wait 72-hours after consulting a doctor before having an abortion. The current waiting period is 24 hours. There is no exception for victims of rape or incest. . . .

September 12, 2014 in Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fifth Circuit Hears Arguments on Texas TRAP Law

Bloomberg: Texas Claims Abortion Restrictions Don’t Pose Burden, by Daniel Lawton & Laurel Brubaker Calkins:

A Texas law restricting abortions which would leave open only seven or eight clinics doesn’t place an undue burden on women’s rights, a state official argued in a bid to enforce a law previously ruled unconstitutional.

Texas asked the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans today to let it require that abortion clinics meet the same construction standards as outpatient surgical centers while the court considers its appeal. A lower court threw out the law as unconstitutional. Opponents argued that enforcement of the overturned law would cause more than a dozen clinics to close overnight. The three-judge panel didn’t immediately rule on the Texas request. . . .

NPR:  A Doctor Who Performed Abortions In South Texas Makes His Case, by Wade Goodwyn:

In a Brownsville family clinic, a powerfully built, bald doctor treats a never-ending line of sick and injured patients. He has been practicing for nearly four decades, but family medicine is not his calling.

"For 35 years I had a clinic where I saw women and took care of their reproductive needs, but mostly terminating pregnancies," Dr. Lester Minto says.

He seems an unlikely doctor to perform abortions. The son of an Army officer, he grew up in a deeply religious family in rural Texas. His career path was shaped by an experience in medical school in the early '70s.  . . .

September 12, 2014 in In the Courts, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Federal Courts Grapple with "Undue Burden" Standard

The National Law Journal: Next Wave for Abortion Law Courts, by Tony Mauro:

Judges struggle to define "undue burden" standard

Slowly but surely, a new wave of abortion-related litigation is making its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, with the ultimate outcome uncertain.

A stop-and-start round of rulings and stays that blocked enforcement of new restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas last week was just the latest sign that, 41 years after Roe v. Wade, courts are still grappling with the issue. . . .

The National Law Journal (Op-Ed): Rulings Illuminate Abortion Standard, by Caitlin Borgmann:

With scant guidance from Supreme Court, lower courts are grappling with "undue burden" test

Onerous restrictions on abortion facilities are prompting lower courts to sit up and take notice. Late last month, federal judges in Texas and Louisiana blocked such laws from taking effect, at least temporarily.

Some courts, in evaluating the constitutionality of these laws, are interpreting the governing undue-burden standard — the U.S. Supreme Court's governing standard for the constitutionality of abortion regulations — in new ways that meaningfully consider the facts and purposes underlying the laws, as well as their real-world effects. The Supreme Court justices would do well to adopt these interpretations when they finally address one of these ­restrictions. . . .

September 8, 2014 in Abortion, In the Courts, Supreme Court, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eighth Circuit Hears Arguments in Missouri State Legislator's Challenge to Contraception Rule

St. Louis Public Radio: Legislator Tells Federal Appeals Court Why He Objects To Birth-Control Coverage, by Jo Mannies:

The lawyer for state Rep. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, predicts that his suit against mandated contraceptive coverage will help launch an avalanche of court challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s provision requiring insurance companies to offer such benefits.

But first Wieland needs to persuade a federal appeals court to reinstate his case. A lower court had tossed it out. . . .

September 8, 2014 in Contraception, In the Courts, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pennsylvania Mother Sentenced to Prison for Giving Daughter Abortion Pills

The Huffington Post: Mom Ann Whalen Sentenced To Prison For Giving Daughter Abortion Pills, by David DeKok:

A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for obtaining so-called abortion pills online and providing them to her teenage daughter to end her pregnancy.

Jennifer Ann Whalen, 39, of Washingtonville, a single mother who works as a nursing home aide, pleaded guilty in August to obtaining the miscarriage-inducing pills from an online site in Europe for her daughter, 16, who did not want to have the child. . . .

Whalen told authorities there was no local clinic available to perform an abortion and her daughter did not have health insurance to cover a hospital abortion, the Press Enterprise newspaper of Bloomsburg reported. . . .

Philadelphia Magazine (opinion column): Pennsylvania Woman Going to Jail Over Abortion Pills, by Sandy Hingston:

What the GOP could learn from Colorado’s free birth control program — if they’d just open their eyes and take their fingers out of their ears.

In cheery news from the western part of our great state, a 36-year-old mom has been sentenced to a year to 18 months in prison for providing her 16-year-old daughter with abortion pills she obtained illegally from Europe in an attempt to end the daughter’s unwanted pregnancy. The mom, who’s single, works as a nursing aide, and told the court there was no local abortion clinic available to her daughter (thanks, Governor Corbett), who had no health insurance (thanks again, Governor Corbett) to pay for an in-hospital abortion. The daughter ended up in the hospital anyway after the abortion pills induced severe cramping and bleeding.

What a happy little tale.

If batshit Republicans are serious about lowering the number of abortions, you know what they should do? They should give up the slow, costly process of legislating abortion clinics out of existence and simply make birth control free for the asking for all the women in America. . . .

September 8, 2014 in Abortion, Parenthood, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rio Grande Valley Abortion Clinic Reopens After Last Week's Ruling on Texas Law

The New York Times: Texas Abortion Clinic to Reopen After Ruling, by Erik Eckholm:

An embattled abortion clinic in McAllen, Tex., which was the last provider of abortions in the vast Rio Grande Valley when new state restrictions forced it to stop last fall, will start operating again by this weekend, its owner said Wednesday, after last week’s favorable decision by a federal judge.

But whether the clinic, a branch of Whole Woman’s Health, and at least a dozen others in the state can remain open for long will be determined by a federal appeals court, which has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 12 in New Orleans. . . .

September 4, 2014 in In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)