Saturday, December 27, 2014
4th Circuit Panel Unanimously Rules NC Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Law Unconstitutional; State Vows to Seek Supreme Court Review
Slate: North Carolina’s Outrageous Abortion Requirement Is Struck Down, by Dahlia Lithwick:
A conservative judge sticks up for medical ethics and the First Amendment.
A panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals voted today to strike down a highly controversial North Carolina law requiring doctors and ultrasound technicians to perform an ultrasound, display the image of the sonogram, and specifically describe the fetus to any pregnant woman seeking an abortion, even if the woman actively “averts her eyes” and “refuses to hear.” The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and others challenged the law, which was enjoined last year by a lower federal court.
Today, in a unanimous decision authored by Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a three-judge panel affirmed a lower court’s determination that the law is a compelled speech provision that violates the First Amendment rights of providers. . . .
The Washington Post: N.C. abortion restriction violates free speech, judges rule, by Sandhya Somashekhar:
. . . Several other states, including Virginia, have ultrasound requirements, with some requiring women to undergo internal “transvaginal” ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion. Only a handful, however, have gone so far as North Carolina, and courts have had mixed opinions about such laws,upholding them in Texas and striking them down in Oklahoma.
On Monday, the North Carolina attorney general’s office said they would ask the Supreme Court to take up the matter to resolve the conflicting opinions in Texas and Richmond. . . .
The opinion is available here.
Monday, December 15, 2014
The New York Times: Justices Let Abortion Decision Stand, by Adam Liptak:
The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a decision temporarily blocking an Arizona law that limits the availability of medicinal, nonsurgical abortions. As is its custom when it denies review, the court gave no reasons for its action.
The law, enacted in 2012, requires abortion providers to comply with a 2000 protocol from the Food and Drug Administration for mifepristone, anabortion-inducing drug that is sometimes called RU-486. . . .
The 2000 protocol calls for the drug to be given in higher doses than is customary today, and only in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. . . .
This denial is interesting in part because the Supreme Court had previously agreed to review a similar law from Oklahoma, which had been struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court had then certified questions to the Oklahoma Supreme Court regarding the law's interpretation. The Oklahoma Supreme Court read the law broadly, in a way that would have prohibited all medication abortions, including to treat ectopic pregnancies. After receiving the Oklahoma Supreme Court's interpretation, the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2013 dismissed the writ of certiorari as improvidently granted. It seemed possible that the U.S. Supreme Court would still be interested in reviewing a medication abortion restriction that was interpreted more narrowly as requiring adherence to the FDA-approved protocol. The Ninth Circuit decision on the preliminary injunction assumed for purposes of the opinion that the Arizona law only reached this far, but still found it to constitute an undue burden.
Monday, December 8, 2014
The Salt Lake Tribune/AP: Religious nonprofits challenge birth-control coverage in health law. by Kristen Wyatt:
Faith-based nonprofit organizations that object to covering birth control in their employee health plans are in federal court Monday to challenge a birth-control compromise they say still compels them to violate their religious beliefs.
The plaintiffs include a group of Colorado nuns and four Christian colleges in Oklahoma. They are already exempt from covering contraceptives under the federal health care law.
But they say the exemption doesn’t go far enough because they must sign away the coverage to another party, making them feel complicit in providing the contraceptives. . . .
BBC: South Korea: Contraception poster prompts outcry:
South Korea's government is under fire for a poster promoting contraception use which has been criticised by both men and women, it's reported.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare poster was meant to encourage women to "take responsibility" for using birth control in order to prevent abortions, the Korea Times website reports. It shows a young couple, after what appears to be a successful shopping trip, with the man carrying his partner's pink handbag and clutching several bags. The poster reads: "Although you leave everything to men, don't leave the responsibility for contraception to them."
There was a swift backlash from social media users . . . .
Medscape: Nearly Half of Abortion Care Providers Fear Sting Operations, by Caroline Helwick:
Concerns about encountering "fake" patients and being threatened by "sting" operations are pervasive among abortion providers and their clinic staff, somewhat out of proportion to their actual risks, according to research conducted at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Lead author Emily J. Youatt, MPH, a doctoral candidate at the university, said this fear "introduces a new stress to an already burdened workforce" and can "negatively influence the patient–provider relationship."
At the American Public Health Association (APHA) 142nd Annual Meeting here, Youatt presented the results of a survey that explored stigma and fears among abortion care providers. . . .
Bustle: An Anti-Choice Group Is Pushing "Abortion Reversal" Treatment, And It's Alarming To Say The Least, by Jessica Blankenship:
In Bettendorf, Iowa, an anti-choice advocacy group is offering women an “abortion reversal” using an experimental treatment about which little is known, and it’s all decidedly suspect and troubling. The Women’s Choice Center (which is, to reiterate, is run by a pro-life/anti-choice group) is now promoting what they’re touting as a chance for women who are in the middle of a medical abortion the chance to “unabort” their pregnancies. The major problem with this is that the therapy hasn’t really been tested, and the entire procedure just generally feels problematic all around: imploring women to undergo experimental-at-best, hormone-altering treatments, underscored, obviously, by an anti-choice agenda.
Here’s how this whole thing, more or less, supposedly works . . . .
ThinkProgress: 7 Victories For Reproductive Freedom You May Not Realize Happened This Year, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
There’s no question that 2014 has been a difficult year for the reproductive rights community. The Supreme Court ruled against pro-choice groups in the Hobby Lobby and abortion clinic buffer zone cases, and the midterm elections brought a wave of GOP victories at the state and national level that will surely result in even more anti-choice legislation next session.
It’s easy to feel like everything is hopeless. But there were also a few bright spots this year. 2014 brought several examples of progress when it comes to protecting and upholding reproductive rights, and pro-choice groups say they’ve been laying important groundwork for a new, proactive approach in this area moving forward.
Here are some pieces of good news you may have missed . . . .
Sunday, December 7, 2014
ACLU press release: ACLU Files Suit on Behalf of Mother Fired for Breastfeeding at Work:
DENVER – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of Ashley Provino, a Grand Junction, Colo. woman who was fired from her job, in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, for asserting her right to pump breast milk at work.
Provino, a new mother, requested permission from her employer, Big League Haircuts, to take a short break every four hours in the back room of the hair salon to express breast milk, as is her right under state and federal law. The company denied Provino’s request and cut her hours dramatically. When Provino requested to be returned to a full-time schedule with breaks so she could pump breast milk and continue breastfeeding her child, she was fired.
Colorado’s Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act, passed by the state legislature in 2008, unequivocally recognizes the societal and health benefits of breastfeeding and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to allow new mothers to express milk at work. The ACLU complaint invokes the 2008 statute, as well as federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation for protesting such discrimination.
“The recently enacted laws guaranteeing the right to pump at work are designed to make sure that women like Ashley Provino can do what they believe and what medical professionals agree is best for their babies, while still keeping their jobs,” said Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “No woman should face retaliation for asserting her rights under these laws.”
Women who breastfeed must pump milk regularly throughout the day to ensure that they will keep lactating. A broad consensus exists among medical and public health experts that breastfeeding is optimal for infants for a year (or longer) following birth, and that breastfeeding has broad developmental, psychological, social, economic and environmental benefits.
“Discrimination against breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is not only illegal, it is also bad for Colorado families and businesses, because it forces women out of the workplace,” said ACLU of Colorado cooperating attorney Paula Greisen of King Greisen LLP.
In September 2012, the ACLU of Colorado and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project successfully negotiated a settlement with a Jefferson County charter school on behalf of Heather Burgbacher, a teacher who lost her job after she requested accommodations to express breast milk at work. The ACLU of Colorado also worked with DISH Network earlier this year to vastly improve accommodations for nursing mothers at the company’s corporate headquarters in Englewood following complaints from employees that the conditions provided by the company lacked adequate space and privacy.
The complaint is available at:
More information on this case is available at:
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Mother Jones: Meet the Family Behind Latin America's Version of Planned Parenthood, by Maddie Oatman:
People in the United States have been going to Planned Parenthood for nearly a century, ever since Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916. But it wasn't until 1977, after the US had already celebrated Roe v. Wade, that Colombian women had any equivalent organization to turn to. That was the year Dr. Jorge Villarreal started Oriéntame, a women's reproductive health clinic now credited with inspiring more than 600 outposts across Latin America "and for reshaping abortion politics across the continent," writes Joshua Lang in a story about the Villarreal family, out today in California Sunday. . . .
Friday, December 5, 2014
ThinkProgress: Inside The Highly Sophisticated Group That’s Quietly Making It Much Harder To Get An Abortion, by Erica Hellerstein:
. . . Not unlike the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), AUL functions as de facto legislation mill for like-minded politicians and on-the-ground anti-abortion activist groups — offering model legislation that, according to itswebsite, “enables legislators to easily introduce bills without needing to research and write the bills themselves.” The organization operates in relative obscurity despite its exceptionally far reach. According to an email obtained by ThinkProgress that was sent to AUL supporters, the group is responsible for one third (74) of the 200-plus anti-abortion laws that have passed since 2010. . . .
Monday, December 1, 2014
The Los Angeles Times op-ed: 'TRAP laws' are a threat in disguise to abortion rights, by Caitlin Borgmann:
Last month, ballot measures that would have given embryos the legal rights of persons were decisively rejected in Colorado and North Dakota. The defeats were hailed as a victory for defenders of the right to legal abortion. But such measures serve as a distraction from a far bigger threat to abortion rights from onerous rules known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or "TRAP laws." . . .
The Washington Post: Former UPS driver at center of pregnancy discrimination case before Supreme Court, by Brigid Schulte:
Peggy Young didn’t want to become a national icon for pregnant workers. She never imagined she would be at the center of a Supreme Court case that has united every major women’s rights organization on the left with major anti-abortion rights groups on the right. . . .
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Young v. United Parcel Service this Wednesday, Dec. 3.