Thursday, March 28, 2013
This is an eye-opening visual:
The Washington Post - WonkBlog: The landscape of abortion bans, in one must-see map, by Sarah Kliff:
What a difference three years makes.
In 2010, Nebraska passed the country’s most restrictive abortion law that barred abortions after 20 weeks. By March 2013, 12 states have done so — or passed restrictions even earlier in the pregnancy, like North Dakota’s six-week ban.
These are the states you see in orange, in this graphic below, which uses data from the Guttmacher Institute to map all the laws that ban later-term abortion in the United States. . . .
MSNBC - Andrea Mitchell Reports: New bans could send abortion back to Supreme Court:
With all of the experimentation going on in the state legislatures, it's quite possible that one of these measures will end up in the Supreme Court. I doubt, however, that it will be North Dakota's six-week ban, as I explained on MSNBC's Martin Bashir show yesterday:
NPR: Pennsylvania Tightens Abortion Rules Following Clinic Deaths, by Jeff Brady:
A Philadelphia doctor who performed abortions is on trial for murder. Kermit Gosnell, 72, is accused in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies who the prosecutor says were born alive. District Attorney R. Seth Williams laid out the case in disturbing detail in a grand jury report last year. . . .
In 2011, the Gosnell case was mentioned frequently as Pennsylvania's General Assembly passed a law that put stricter requirements on abortion clinics. Now most clinics in the state are held to the same standards as outpatient surgery centers. . . .
Listen to the story here.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
The Washington Post - WonkBlog: States are cracking down on abortion—and legalizing gay marriage. What gives?, by Sarah Kliff:
Tuesday marked for a watershed day for gay rights activists as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case with the potential to legalize same-sex marriage across the country.
Across the country and 1,500 miles west of Washington, an equally notable event took place: North Dakota enacted the country’s most restrictive abortion law, barring all procedures after six weeks.
For decades, support (or opposition) for gay marriage and abortion went hand in hand. They were the line-in-the-sand “values” issues that sharply divided the political parties.
Not anymore. . . .
The New York Times: North Dakota Governor Signs Strict Abortion Law, by John Eligon & Erik Eckholm:
Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota approved the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions on Tuesday, signing into law a measure that would ban most abortions and inviting a legal showdown over just how much states can limit access to the procedure. . . .
“There are two clashing forces in the anti-abortion movement now,” said Caitlin Borgmann, a law professor and abortion-rights advocate at City University of New York. “The incrementalists are chipping away at Roe and the others are getting impatient.”
With passage of heartbeat laws in Arkansas and North Dakota, “this extreme wing of the movement has definitely gained momentum,” Ms. Borgmann said. “But it can only go so far because they can’t win in the courts.” . . .
Monday, March 25, 2013
The New York Times: North Dakota to Put End to Abortions on the Ballot, by John Eligon:
North Dakota lawmakers passed a resolution on Friday to allow the public to decide whether the State Constitution should assert that life begins at conception, a move that would essentially ban all abortions in the state. . . .
The Washington Times: Corporation rights drive divergent rulings on contraception, by Tom Howell Jr.:
A federal judge has rejected a Michigan company’s urgent plea for protection from the contraception mandate in President Obama’s health-care law, noting that a corporation’s rights are not always the same as an individual’s.
Yet a different judge in the same U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan took a starkly different approach less than two weeks ago in granting a similar request — although not on an emergency basis — from another corporation. In that ruling, the judge evoked the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that reiterated that corporations have First Amendment speech rights. . . .
TIME - Family Matters: Pro-Choice or No Choice? North Dakota Wants to Ban Abortion for Fetal Abnormalities, by Bonnie Rochman:
Testing for fetal abnormalities can alert expectant parents to potential health problems to come. And it’s the parents who should decide on how to act on those results, right?
Not necessarily. In North Dakota, the governor is considering signing two anti-abortion bills that would be among the most restrictive in the nation. . . .
Below, another article that assumes that Roe v. Wade nipped inevitable state reform in the bud and fueled the anti-choice movement. As mentioned in Friday's post, it's far from clear that this is true. Reform had largely stopped by 1973, and those few reform laws that were enacted were not even as protective as the Roe decision. (New York's pre-Roe reform law, for example, is still on the books, and it bars all but life-saving abortions after 24 weeks, regardless of viability and with no health exception. This is one of the reasons why the Reproductive Health Act, championed by Governor Cuomo, is needed.) And there are surely many conservative states -- including those now passing early abortion bans, like Arkansas and North Dakota -- that would never have liberalized their laws. When a right is fundamental, it's the Supreme Court's job to ensure that it is protected nationwide and is not subject to the state in which a person resides.
The New York Times: Shadow of Roe v. Wade Looms Over Ruling on Gay Marriage, by Adam Liptak:
When the Supreme Court hears a pair of cases on same-sex marriage on Tuesday and Wednesday, the justices will be working in the shadow of a 40-year-old decision on another subject entirely: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. . . .
See also: The Los Angeles Times - LA Now: As Supreme Court considers gay marriage, abortion comparisons rise, by Robin Abcarian.
Friday, March 22, 2013
The Economist - Democracy in America blog: A hard Roe to hoe, by J.F.:
TO WHAT extent does the debate over same-sex marriage resemble the debate over abortion? Both involve thorny, intersecting questions of religious freedom, personal liberty and sex. Both involve conflicting narratives and costs. The division between the two sides is wide, and like many debates fuelled by religious fervour; at times it risks becoming absolute. But not always: witness the conversion of Rob Portman, a conservative senator from Ohio, from gay-marriage opponent to supporter thanks to the coming-out of his son. Mr Portman came to realise that gay marriage represents not "a threat but a tribute to marriage, and a potential source of renewed strength for the institution." Indeed. . . .
This author adopts the common (but, I think, questionable) position that Roe v. Wade "short-circuited a growing state-level trend toward liberalisation of abortion laws" and "galvanised, perhaps even created, the pro-life movement." For a different perspective, see Before (and After) Roe v. Wade: New Questions About Backlash, by Linda Greenhouse & Reva B. Siegel.
The Huffington Post - The Blog: Pope Promotes Birth Control, by Michael Zimmerman:
Recent media coverage of the papal transition has focused heavily on the past.
For example, when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, one of the points the media highlighted was the fact that he was the first pope to resign in 600 years.
Similarly, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, the media promoted the fact that he was the first non-European pope in 1,272 years.
Given the long history of the Roman Catholic Church and the rarity of both of these events, it isn't surprising that such stories would predominate. There is another papal anomaly, however, that also deserves our attention. This story, one which has largely been overlooked in all current reporting, also stretches back well into the past. Indeed, we need to reach back 737 years, to 1276, for the events in question. . . .
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Salon: Report: Contraception is good for the economy, everything else, by Katie McDonough:
A comprehensive review finds that a woman's ability to control her own fertility is good for women -- and society
Women with reliable access to contraception tend to delay and space out when they have babies. And according to a new Guttmacher Institute review of more than 66 studies conducted over three decades, a woman’s ability to control her fertility affects much more than just if and when she’ll start a family; contraception plays a big a role in the financial, professional and emotional lives of American women, too.
In fact, access to contraception was found to be related to all sorts of positive outcomes in family, mental health, children’s well-being and general life satisfaction. . . .
ACLU Blog of Rights: North Dakota Might Ban Abortion. What Do You Need to Know?, by Elissa Berger:
What passed the legislature in North Dakota?
Two bills are on their way to the Governor's desk: HB 1456 would ban most abortions. The ban on abortion starts very early in pregnancy, before a woman may know the health of her pregnancy and before she may even know she is pregnant at all.
HB 1305 would force health care providers to police their patients' reasons for having an abortion and would ban some abortions because of those reasons, including making it illegal for a woman to have an abortion because of a serious medical complication with her baby. Indeed, this bill would even ban abortions in circumstances when the complication is fatal. . . .
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Human Events: Why Did Charles Murray Call Abortion 'Justifiable' Homicide? We Asked Him, by David Harsanyi:
I should start by admitting that I’ve been a fan of social scientist Charles Murray for a long time – and not only for the compelling reason that I agree with many of his conclusions. A fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, he is best known for his controversial books “Losing Ground” and “The Bell Curve” (his newest is Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 ) — but all of them are excellent.
Murray caused somewhat of a ruckus at CPAC last week, not only advocating that Republicans embrace gay marriage (not entirely surprising), but for dropping this provocative statement about abortion on the crowd: “It’s a murder—it’s a homicide—but sometimes homicide is justified.” . . .
Murray says that abortion is murder. But his attempt to explain why he would still allow some abortions reveals the inconsistency of his position:
“I really consider abortion a hugely grave step that you move forward on with the greatest reluctance for the most compelling reason. But I always believed that it was beyond the competence of government to legislate those issues.” . . .
The easiest [abortions to defend], says Murray, are cases in which the health of mother is in question. But Murray is also sympathetic in instances when the fetus has serious health problems — brain stem problems “not Down’s Syndrome” but something that “constitutes severe damage.” Here again, he notes, the age-old problem arises: who exactly makes these calls?
Really? Would he think it "justifiable homicide" if a person were to kill another in order to preserve his own health? We don't require people to donate organs or even blood to help save another person's life or health. Would he consider it "justifiable homicide" if an individual were to decide to kill a person who had some sort of vaguely defined "serious damage" to the brain? Does he think it "beyond the competence of government" to ban such acts?
The fact that most conservatives feel uncomfortable about punishing women for obtaining abortions, or banning abortion in every instance, shows that they do not view embryos and fetuses as morally equivalent to a person. To admit that an embryo or fetus is not a person does not mean that we must abandon all claims that embryonic and fetal life has moral value. But forthrightly admitting that abortion is not murder would be more consistent with conservatives' other considered judgments, and it better explains why the vast majority of Americans would not ban abortions entirely. It also makes it much harder to defend allowing some abortions and not others, rather than leaving this moral decision to the woman to make. At the very least, it requires conservatives to defend proposed abortion restrictions on grounds other than the vague claim that "life begins at conception." For more on this topic, see The Meaning of "Life": Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate.
See also: The New Yorker: Charles Murray's Gay-Marriage Surprise, by Jane Mayer.
The Huffington Post: Kansas Lawmakers Advance Abortion Resrictions, by John Celock:
The Republican-controlled Kansas House of Representatives voted to advance legislation adding new restrictions to abortions in the state Tuesday.
The legislation would end the use of tax exemptions for payments for abortions, while at the same time requiring doctors to inform women that abortions may cause breast cancer, a claim that has been disputed by the medical community. The bill also defines life as beginning at fertilization and would prohibit all state employees from performing abortions during the work day. . . .
Monday, March 18, 2013
The New York Times: Abortion Doctor’s Murder Trial Opens, by Jon Hurdle:
PHILADELPHIA — In opening statements in court on Monday, prosecutors charged that a doctor who operated a women’s health clinic here killed seven viable fetuses by plunging scissors into their necks and “snipping” their spinal cords and was also responsible for the death of a pregnant woman in his care. . . .
Bloomberg News: Michigan Judge Blocks Health-Care Birth-Control Mandate, by Margaret Cronin Fisk:
The U.S. health-care reform’s mandate requiring employee insurance plans to provide coverage of contraception was blocked by a federal judge in Michigan.
Tom Monaghan and his property-management company, Domino’s Farms Corp., sued the U.S. government in December, contending that complying with the mandate would require him to violate his religious beliefs as a member of the Catholic Church. Domino’s Farms would have to provide contraceptive products, including an abortion-inducing drug, or be forced to pay $200,000 a year as a tax or penalty, the plaintiffs said. . . .
SCOTUSblog: Ask the author: Linda Greenhouse on "Before (and After) Roe v. Wade: New Questions About Backlash", by Kali Borkoski:
In 2010, Linda Greenhouse, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who spent three decades covering the Court for The New York Times, and Reva Siegel, Professor of Law at Yale, published Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling. (SCOTUSblog’s Q&A with both authors is here.) The authors recently released a second edition of the book, which is available for free from the Yale Law Library or can be printed on demand ($10) from Amazon, with proceeds going to the Yale library. The second edition includes a new afterword, Before (and After) Roe v. Wade: New Questions About Backlash, in which Greenhouse and Siegel use the source materials republished in the book to challenge the conventional wisdom that, “if the Court had stayed its hand or decided Roe v. Wade on narrower grounds, the nation would have reached a political settlement and avoided backlash.” Once again, Linda Greenhouse has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about her work on this subject. . . .
Saturday, March 16, 2013
The Huffington Post: Shanta Russell Sues Qualitest Pharmaceuticals For Child-Rearing Costs After Birth Control Pill Error, by Harry Bradford:
A Georgia mother claims the pharmaceutical company that mislabeled her birth control pills should pay the $400,000 cost of raising her now year-old daughter and sending her to college.
Shanta Russell faces a huge hurdle in her lawsuit against Alabama-based Qualitest Pharmaceuticals. A well-established legal principle holds that bringing a baby into the world is a good thing, no matter how conceived.
“The majority of courts see the birth of a child as an unmitigated blessing,” Caitlin Borgmann, a law professor at City University of New York Law School and editor of the Reproductive Rights Prof Blog, told The Huffington Post. . . .
MSNBC: The Catholic Church’s costly stance on contraception, by Meredith Clark:
The election of Pope Francis on Wednesday has reignited the discussion about the future of the Catholic Church and whether it will address the ever-growing gap between doctrine and modern society. The cost of its intransigence is not simply a moral one; the church’s anti-contraception stance has a major economic impact for its 1.2 billion members, both in the developing world and the U.S. . . .