Thursday, December 15, 2016
The blog IntLawGrrls: voices on international law, policy, practice, will celebrate its first decade with“IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference” on Friday, March 3, 2017. The daylong event will be held at the Dean Rusk International Law Center of the University of Georgia School of Law, which is hosting as part of its Georgia Women in Law Lead initiative.
Organizers Diane Marie Amann, Beth Van Schaack, Jaya Ramji-Nogales, and Kathleen A. Doty welcome paper proposals from academics, students, policymakers, and advocates, in English, French, or Spanish, on all topics in international, comparative, foreign, and transnational law and policy. In addition to paper workshops, there will be at least one plenary panel, on “strategies to promote women’s participation in shaping international law and policy amid the global emergence of antiglobalism.” The deadline for submissions will be January 1, 2017, though papers will be accepted on a rolling basis. Thanks to the generosity of the Planethood Foundation, a fund will help defray travel expenses for a number of students or very-early-career persons whose papers are accepted. For more information, see the call for papers/conference webpage and organizers’ posts, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, December 9, 2016
New York Times (Dec. 7, 2016): Protecting Reproductive Rights Under Donald Trump, by Editorial Board:
The New York Times Editorial Board notes that although it may be a long time before future appointments to the Supreme Court make it possible to overturn Roe v. Wade, the new President still has significant power to restrict reproductive rights.
If Jeff Sessions, who opposes abortion, is confirmed as attorney general, the Justice Department is unlikely to defend reproductive rights. While the fate of the Affordable Care Act rests with Congress, the Justice Department could stop fighting lawsuits challenging the contraceptive coverage requirement. Under Mr. Sessions, it could stop enforcing the FACE Act, leaving abortion providers with little recourse if anti-abortion extremists threaten patients or doctors or obstruct clinic entrances.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence, when he was a congressman, tried to prevent any federal money from going to Planned Parenthood. The Trump administration, under Mr. Pence’s guidance, could stop enforcing the Medicaid reimbursement law that prohibits states from discriminating against Planned Parenthood. And Tom Price, Mr. Trump’s pick for secretary of health and human services and an unwavering opponent of the Affordable Care Act, could as head of that department rescind the contraceptive coverage requirement.
The Times noted that state governments can step into the breach by passing laws to protect clinics, increasing state funding for family planning and passing laws requiring insurers to cover contraceptives without co-pays.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Washington Post (December 7, 2016): Empowered by Trump Ohio legislature passes 'heartbeat' bill that would ban most abortions, by Sandy Somashekhar,
The Ohio legislature has passed a bill that would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This would ban abortion at about six weeks despite the fact that the current constitutional standard prohibits states from banning abortions before fetal viability, which typically occurs around 24 weeks.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court declined to review lower court decisions that blocked a six-week abortion ban in North Dakota and a 12-week ban in Arkansas.
But some Ohio Republicans said they were empowered to support the bill because of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationally.
“New president, new Supreme Court justice appointees, change the dynamic,” state Senate President Keith Faber (R) told WHIO-TV after the vote. Asked if he believed it could withstand a constitutional challenge, he replied he felt “it has a better chance than it did before.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich has 10 days after the bill reaches his desk to veto the bill. If he does not veto the bill, it will automatically become law.
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Rewire (Dec. 6, 2016): Can 'Whole Woman's Health' Help Push Back Attacks on Voting Rights? by Jessica Mason Pieklo:
One of the most interesting aspects of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt was the Supreme Court's willingness to scrutinize Texas's purported justification for health regulations that effectively shut down the majority of abortion clinics in the state. Jessica Mason Pieklo argues that the Court's approach in Whole Woman's Health could serve as helpful precedent to support challenges to racially gerrymandered voting districts. She writes Whole Woman's Health was
an affirmation of the responsibility of the courts to review both data and legislative intent in claims of constitutional violations. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court considered again the role courts have in weighing evidence and second-guessing lawmakers—only this time in the context of two cases of racially gerrymandering congressional districts, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections and McCrory v. North Carolina.
Because legislatures are allowed to gerrymander to maximize the political power of a political party but not to gerrymander based on race, when defending the congressional districts, Paul Clement argued that politics was the motivating factor in drawing the districts. As in Whole Woman's Health, both Justice Breyer and Justice Kagan questioned whether the government's purported reasons were a pretext to justify an unconstitutional motive.
Friday, December 2, 2016
Guardian (November 30, 2016): Ireland compensates woman forced to travel to Britain for an abortion, by Henry McDonald:
Ireland has offered Amanda Jane Mellet 30,000 euros as compensation for denying her access to abortion. Earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Ireland violated Ms. Mellet's rights by denying her access to an abortion to terminate a pregnancy after learning that her fetus carried a fatal genetic condition that would result in death in utero or shortly after birth.
The UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), found that forcing Ms. Mellet to travel to England to obtain an abortion under such circumstances violated several provisions of the ICCPR, including its prohibitions on discrimination and cruel, inhuman and the right to privacy. It found that a proper remedy would require compensation, counseling services and changing Irish abortion laws to prohibit similar future rights violations.
In response to the Committee’s decision, Ireland has offered to compensate Ms. Mellet. It has not formally committed to changing the law, which would require constitutional amendment. However, the government has begun the process necessary to seek a constitutional referendum.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Atlantic (November 30, 2016): Tom Price: 'Not One Woman' Struggled to Afford Birth Control, by Olga Khazan:
The New York Times has suggested that Donald Trump's nomination of Tom Price for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services "signaled an undiminished determination" to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In Congress, Price has championed alternative legislation to the ACA which would take a free market approach and decrease consumer protections and mandated coverage.
While repeal of the ACA would require Congressional action, as HHS Secretary Price could have an immediate impact on the implementation of the ACA because the act gives the Secretary discretion in how it is administered.
Price is on record as opposing the ACA's birth control mandate and may support defunding Planned Parenthood or requiring co-pays for contraceptives. In 2012, he made made comments that all women can afford birth control, stating:
“Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one,” Price replied. “The fact of the matter is this is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.”
Despite Price's statement, studies show that poor women have faced significant barriers to accessing contraceptives in the U.S. and that recent declines in the teen pregnancy rate may be the result of greater access to contraceptives.