Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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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)

The Mindy Project Won't Address Abortion -- But Shouldn't It?

Slate -- The XX Factor blog:  The Mindy Project Really Needs an Abortion Storyline, by Amanda Marcotte:

Dr. Mindy Lahiri, the loveable lead played by Mindy Kaling in the sitcom The Mindy Project, is an OB-GYN. Her job functions as more than background decoration, as Jessica Goldstein of ThinkProgress notes. “One of the most standout things about The Mindy Project is the way its setting has allowed for stories that explicitly deal with women’s health,” she writes, citing storylines about birth control, condom distribution, and even The Talk.

But there's one aspect of reproductive health care that Kaling has no intention of touching on in the sitcom: abortion. “It would be demeaning to the topic to talk about it in a half-hour sitcom,” she recently said in the October issue of Flare

Sorry, but that's total nonsense. . . .

September 4, 2014 in Abortion, Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 1, 2014

For Now, Federal Courts Are Protecting Abortion Access, But Will It Last?

MSNBC: Fragile victories for abortion access in the South, by Irin Carmon:

In a single weekend, with temporary wins for abortion providers in Louisiana and Texas, one fact became ever clearer: The federal courts are the only thing standing between conservative lawmakers and a woman’s right to an abortion. For now, the news is good for abortion access in the region, but it is a fragile shield – one that may be breached in a matter of days. . . .

September 1, 2014 in In the Courts, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Louisiana Admitting Privileges Law

The Wall Street Journal: Judge Blocks Enforcement of New Louisiana Abortion Law, by Cameron McWhirter:

Restrictive New Law Goes Into Effect Monday, But Doctors, Clinics Can't Be Penalized for Not Complying

A federal judge in Baton Rouge, La., on Sunday night issued a temporary restraining order blocking the enforcement of a Louisiana abortion law just hours before it was to take effect.

The law, passed overwhelmingly this year by the state Legislature, requires all abortion doctors in the state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where they work. If doctors at clinics don't comply, the clinic can be closed. . . .

September 1, 2014 in In the Courts, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Call for Applications: Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court

 U.S. Feminist Judgments Project -- Call for Applications:

The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of revised opinions and commentary for an edited collection entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Opinions of the United States Supreme Court. This edited volume is a collaborative project among feminist law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key Supreme Court decisions relevant to gender issues. Editors Kathy Stanchi, Linda Berger, and Bridget Crawford seek prospective authors for 20 to 25 rewritten Supreme Court opinions covering a range of topics including reproductive rights, equal protection, the state’s use of criminal power, privacy, the family, women’s political participation, Title IX, employment discrimination and substantive due process. The editors also seek authors for commentaries of 1,500 to 2,500 words to put into context each of the rewritten cases.

The U.S. Feminist Judgments project was inspired by the successful collection and publication in Britain of Feminist Judgments: From Theory to Practice, edited by Rosemary Hunter, Clare McGlynn, and Erika Rackley. This volume, which included feminist versions of twenty-three key British decisions from the Court of Appeal and House of Lords, was published in 2010 and has been very well received. Like the sister project in Britain, the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project endeavors to pioneer “a new form of critical socio-legal scholarship” that illustrates how cases could have been decided differently had a feminist method been employed. We believe that U.S. Supreme Court law is ripe for this kind of scholarly treatment.

Those who are interested in rewriting an opinion or providing the commentary on one of the rewritten opinions must apply by September 15, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. eastern. Click here for the application.

Editors will notify accepted authors and commentators by October 7, 2014. First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on February 1, 2015. First drafts of comments on the rewritten opinions will be due on March 15, 2015. The editors are in the process of identifying a publisher; publication of the final volume is anticipated for late 2015.

Applicants may indicate their preferences among the list of cases posted here.  Applicants also may suggest other cases for rewriting. The tentative cases were chosen with the input and advice of an Advisory Panel of distinguished U.S. scholars including Kathryn Abrams, Katharine Bartlett,Devon Carbado, Mary Anne Case, Erwin Chemerinsky, April Cherry, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Martha Fineman, Margaret Johnson, Sonia Katyal, Nancy Leong, Catharine MacKinnon, Rachel Moran, Melissa Murray, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Nancy Polikoff, Dorothy Roberts, Dan Rodriguez, Susan Ross, Vicki Schultz, Dean Spade, Robin West, and Verna Williams.

August 30, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Participation: LatCrit-SALT Junior Faculty Development Workshop

Call for Participation
Twelfth Annual LatCrit-SALT
Junior Faculty Development Workshop
University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV

October 9, 2014

LatCrit, Inc. and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) are pleased to invite interested participants to the Twelfth Annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop (FDW), immediately preceding the SALT Teaching Conference.  This annual workshop is designed for critical, progressive, and social justice oriented pre-tenure professors, including clinicians and legal writing professors, as well as those who may be contemplating a teaching career.  However, we also encourage more senior members of the profession to attend, share their experience, and serve as resources and mentors.

The FDW is designed to familiarize critical, progressive, and social justice oriented junior faculty with LatCrit and SALT principles and values and support them in the scholarship, teaching, and service aspects of professional success.  In addition, the FDW seeks to foster scholarship in progressive, social justice, and critical outsider jurisprudence, including LatCrit theory, among new and junior faculty, students, and practitioners.  Finally, the FDW aims to cultivate a community of scholars interested in the continuation of this and similar projects over the years.

To facilitate community building through shared experiences and the exchange of ideas, we strongly encourage all participants to attend the entire workshop.

If you have questions about the workshop or would like to attend, please email SALTLatCritFDW@gmail.com.  Although we will make efforts to accommodate all interested participants, RSVPs are strongly suggested by September 30, 2014.  The registration for both events is open on the SALT website:  http://www.saltlaw.org/conference_registration/.

August 30, 2014 in Conferences and Symposia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NYT Magazine Examines Rise of Medication Abortion Via the Internet

The New York Times Magazine: The Dawn of the Post-Clinic Abortion, by Emily Bazelon:

In June 2001, under a cloud-streaked sky, Rebecca Gomperts set out from the Dutch port of Scheveningen in a rented 110-foot ship bound for Ireland. Lashed to the deck was a shipping container, freshly painted light blue and stocked with packets of mifepristone (which used to be called RU-486) and misoprostol. The pills are given to women in the first trimester to induce a miscarriage. Medical abortion, as this procedure is called, had recently become available in the Netherlands. But use of misoprostol and mifepristone to end a pregnancy was illegal in Ireland, where abortion by any means remains against the law, with few exceptions. . . .

August 30, 2014 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Difficulty of Measuring the Effects of Abortion Restrictions

FiveThirtyEight: It’s Really Hard To Measure The Effects Of Abortion Restrictions In Texas, by Amelia Thomson Deveaux:

Last summer, after Wendy Davis had come and gone, the Texas legislature passed a package of abortion bills that has effectively forced most of the state’s clinics to close. The bills didn’t ban abortion outright, but instead placed new restrictions on abortion providers, such as a mandate for expensive structural changes (e.g. wider hallways and new ventilation systems) for clinics. Proponents said that more rigorous standards would protect women’s health, but obstetricians and pro-choice advocates warned that the law would serve a pro-life agenda, and that its consequences could radically alter options for women in the state. Left with only a handful of clinics in large cities at the center of Texas, women outside urban areas might take matters into their own hands and begin inducing abortions themselves. . . . 

August 30, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Federal District Judge Strikes Down Onerous Texas Abortion Facilities Regulation

The New York Times: Federal Judge Strikes Down Restrictive Texas Abortion Law, by Erik Eckholm & Manny Fernandez:

A federal judge in Austin, Tex., blocked a stringent new rule on Friday that would have forced more than half of the state’s remaining abortion clinics to close, the latest in a string of court decisions that have at least temporarily kept abortion clinics across the South from being shuttered.

The Texas rule, requiring all abortion clinics to meet the building, equipment and staffing standards of hospital-style surgery centers, had been set to take effect on Monday. But in his opinion, Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court in Austin said that the mandate placed unjustified obstacles on women’s access to abortion without providing significant medical benefits. . . .

August 29, 2014 in In the Courts, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

California Health Officials Quash Catholic Employers' Efforts to Deprive Employees of Abortion Coverage

The Los Angeles Times: A women's rights victory as California nixes an attack on abortion coverage, by Michael Hiltzik:

With minimal fanfare, California state officials have nixed an underhanded effort by two Catholic-affiliated universities and their insurers to deprive the universities' employees of insurance coverage for abortions. 

The move by the Department of Managed Health Care is one of the strongest statements in favor of women's reproductive health rights you're likely to hear from officials of any state, at a time when those rights are under systematic attack. So it's proper to pay attention. . . .

August 27, 2014 in Abortion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GOP Senate Candidates Reluctant to Weigh in on Latest Changes to ACA Contraception Rule

Repub elephantThe Hill: GOP Senate candidates mum on birth control mandate change, by Elise Viebeck:

Republican Senate candidates are staying silent on President Obama's latest changes to the birth control coverage mandate, even as the policy catches flak from the religious right.  

Top GOP hopefuls haven’t weighed in on the issue since Friday, when the administration announced new measures meant to accommodate religious groups and businesses owners who object to their insurance covering birth control. . . . 

August 27, 2014 in Congress, Contraception, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

States Use "Feticide" Laws to Punish Pregnant Women

The Daily Beast: Indiana 'Feticide' Charge Is the Latest Fallout From States' Strict Anti-Abortion Laws, by Sally Kohn:

An Indiana woman has been charged with feticide—and faces decades in jail—for aborting an unwanted fetus, the latest in a string of cases that come close to criminalizing pregnancy itself.

Anyone who doubts that laws restricting abortion rights actually restrict the freedom of women to fundamentally control their bodies and health should look at Indiana. In that state, a 33-year-old woman has been charged with “feticide” after suffering premature delivery and seeking hospital treatment. She becomes the second woman to recently be charged with “feticide” in Indiana. Nationwide, at least 37 other states have similar laws that have restricted the rights of pregnant women under the guise of supposedly protecting fetuses. . . .

August 27, 2014 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)