Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Supreme Court Declines to Review Decision Blocking Arizona Medication Abortion Restriction

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.

-CEB

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

Abortion Care Providers Burdened by Fear of Sting Operations

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. . . .

December 8, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Choice Group Offers Experimental "Abortion Reversal" Treatment

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 . . . .

December 8, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Medical News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Some Good News on Reproductive Freedom You May Have Missed

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 . . . .

December 8, 2014 in Abortion, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Family Behind Oriéntame, a Network of Reproductive Health Clincis in Latin America

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. . . .

December 6, 2014 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 5, 2014

ThinkProgress Investigates Influence of Americans United for Life on State Legislatures

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. . . .

December 5, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Phoenix School Board Votes to Remove Pages from Biology Textbook Discussing STDs, Contraception, and Abortion

The New York Times: In Arizona, a Textbook Fuels a Broader Dispute Over Sex Education, by Rick Rojas:

The textbook, the one with the wide-eyed lemur peering off the cover, has been handed out for years to students in honors biology classes at the high schools here, offering lessons on bread-and-butter subjects like mitosis and meiosis, photosynthesis and anatomy.

But now, the school board in this suburb of Phoenix has voted to excise or redact two pages deep inside the book — 544 and 545 — because they discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, including mifepristone, a drug that can be used to prevent or halt a pregnancy. . . .

November 29, 2014 in Abortion, Contraception, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Wake of Forced Clinic Closures, Activists Raise Funds to Help Low-Income Women Travel for Abortions

The New York Times: Activists Help Pay for Patients’ Travel to Shrinking Number of Abortion Clinics, by Jackie Calmes:

The young woman lived in Dallas, 650 miles from Albuquerque, but that was where she would have to go for an abortion, she was told. New state regulations had forced several of Dallas’s six abortion clinics to close, creating weekslong waiting lists. By the time the woman could get in, she would be up against the Texas ban on abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation.

But she could not afford the trip to New Mexico.

So it was that she had left a phone message with a hotline in Austin and, on a recent evening, heard back from Lenzi Sheible, the 20-year-old founder of a fund to help low-income women pay the unexpected costs of traveling for abortions in Texas — or to states beyond. . . .

November 29, 2014 in Abortion, Poverty, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Republican Gains in November Elections Portend More Abortion Restrictions

Politico: The coming wave of anti-abortion laws, by Paige Winfield Cunningham:

New GOP state legislatures will make access to abortion harder than ever.

The big Republican gains in the November elections strengthened and enlarged the anti-abortion forces in the House and the Senate. But it’s the GOP victories in the statehouses and governor’s mansions that are priming the ground for another round of legal restrictions on abortion. . . .

November 29, 2014 in Abortion, Politics, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Maya Manian on Criminal Prosecutions of Pregnant Women

HealthLawProf Blog: Guest Blogger Professor Maya Manian: The Criminalization of Pregnant Women:

In a recent New York Times editorial, Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin bring to light the chilling reality of the criminalization of pregnant women in the United States. Stories of prosecutions of pregnant women in other countries, such as El Salvador, have received significant attention. Yet, similar stories within our own borders remain under the radar even while we constantly debate the issue of abortion.

As Paltrow and Flavin point out, the push to restrict women’s access to abortion and expand rights for fetuses impacts more than just those women specifically seeking abortion care. Anti-abortion measures threaten the rights of all pregnant women, even those who want to be pregnant. As Paltrow and Flavin’s peer-reviewed study on criminal prosecutions of pregnant women demonstrates, prosecutors and judges have relied on anti-abortion reasoning to arrest, detain, and force medical treatment on pregnant women who suffered from miscarriages, depression, or simply wanted to make their own medical decisions about how to proceed with childbirth.

Although many of the women in the cases described by Paltrow and Flavin were not seeking abortion care, the criminalization of pregnant women who seek to self-abort appears to be an increasing threat.  . . .

November 23, 2014 in Abortion, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shoddy "Factfinding" on Abortion Is Pervasive in State Legislatures, and Often Finds Its Way to the Courts

RH Reality Check: How Shoddy Evidence Finds Its Way From State Legislatures to the U.S. Supreme Court, by Sharona Coutts & Sofia Resnick:

If you were a South Dakota legislator looking for expert evidence on how abortion affects women, the obvious choice would be an electrical engineer based in Illinois.

Right?

It may sound absurd, but that is precisely who lawmakers cited in 2005, when they gathered testimony for a report by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion. . . .

It’s a pattern that is all too familiar in state legislators around the United States, said Caitlin Borgmann, a law professor at the City University of New York who is an expert in the role of courts and legislatures in protecting constitutional rights. . . .

Check out RH Reality Check's False Witnesses Gallery:

Each member of the False Witnesses gallery has pushed false information designed to mislead the public, lawmakers, and the courts about abortion. RH Reality Check analyzed scores of public records, contracts, public statements, and research articles, and identified their key falsehoods in order to set the record straight. . . .

November 20, 2014 in Abortion, In the Courts, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Katha Pollitt Debunks Abortion Myths

TIME: 6 Myths About Abortion, by Katha Pollitt:

1. The Bible forbids abortion.

It shouldn’t matter what the Bible says about abortion. The United States is not a theocracy. Still, given the certitude of abortion opponents that abortion violates God’s Word, it might come as a surprise that neither the Old Testament nor the New mentions abortion—not one word. . . .

November 13, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Assessing the Impact of the November Elections on Reproductive Rights

NPR: Two Of Three States Reject Ballot Measures Restricting Abortion, by Jennifer Ludden:

Amid all the shakeout from this week's midterm elections, many are trying to assess the impact on abortion.

Two abortion-related ballot measures were soundly defeated. A third passed easily. And those favoring restrictions on abortion will have a much bigger voice in the new Congress. . . .

The Los Angeles Times: On abortion, election delivered mixed messages, by Maria La Ganga:

The 2014 midterm election was a mixed bag for abortion rights supporters: Two out of three state ballot measures that would have regulated the procedure went down to defeat, but control of the U.S. Senate swung to the Republican Party, with its antiabortion candidates claiming victory.

"It is a happy day for us, a great day for pro-lifers," said Marilyn Musgrave, vice president for government affairs with the Susan B. Anthony List, which advocates for female antiabortion candidates. "The life issue won." . . .

Mother Jones: The Fight for Abortion Rights Just Got a Whole Lot Harder, by Molly Redden:

Activists thought they had a chance to expand reproductive rights. The Red Wave put an end to that

The GOP wave didn't just crash into the US Senate. It flooded state legislatures, as well. By Wednesday evening, Republicans were in control of 67 of the nation's 99 state legislative chambers—up from 57 before the election. It's still unclear which party will control two other chambers.

Already, anti-abortion advocates are calling it a big win. Hundreds of the country'smost extreme anti-abortion bills pop up in these statehouses every year, and Tuesday's results won't do anything to put a stop to that. But reproductive rights advocates also suffered big setbacks Tuesday in places where they had actually been playing offense. Now, Democratic losses in states like Colorado, Nevada, New York, and Washington could torpedo their efforts to expand reproductive rights. . . . 

November 9, 2014 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, Politics, State and Local News, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tennessee Voters Approve State Constitutional Amendment to Allow More Abortion Restrictions

The Tennessean: Tennessee Amendment 1 abortion measure passes, by Anita Wadhwani:

Already lawmaker vows to back abortion regulations when legislature reconvenes

Tennessee voters by a solid margin backed Amendment 1, a measure that gives state lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortions.

The measure was perhaps the most closely watched and most contentious Election Day vote in Tennessee's midterm elections, which had few contested high-profile candidate races this year. It also was one of the most expensive ballot measures in Tennessee history. . . .

November 4, 2014 in Abortion, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Elle Publishes "Real Stories from Real Women" About Their Abortions

Elle: Ending the Silence That Fuels Abortion Stigma, by Cecile Richards:

It’s hard to imagine a medical procedure in this country that carries the stigma and judgment that abortion does. Women’s experiences are often seen through the lens of cultural and political battles. If a woman says that she’s relieved after having an abortion, she may be judged for being heartless or unfeeling. If she says that she feels regret, anti-abortion activists use this to push for laws that restrict access to abortion or laws that assume women are incapable of making their own decisions without the interference of others.

So instead, we just don’t talk about it. That’s how abortion came to be discussed as an “issue” instead of an experience. . . .

Elle:  "I HAD AN ABORTION": Real stories from real women:

In ELLE's November issue, features director Laurie Abraham wrote a trenchant, honest essay about her abortions. Here, we share stories from other women who had abortions, to show that different women have different reasons for having an abortion, and that the procedure inspires all sorts of feelings—all of them, valid.

October 24, 2014 in Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

California's Expansion of Abortion Provider Pool Helps Reduce Stigma Around Abortion

The Los Angeles Times: New class of abortion providers helps expand access in California, by Lee Romney:

Ever since the Planned Parenthood health center here opened, the six cushioned recliners in the recovery room had been in steady demand every Friday.

That's when a physician would rotate through to perform abortions for four hours. When everyone in the crowded waiting room knew why the woman next to her was there, when they all had to walk past a cluster of antiabortion protesters.

But a state law that went into effect in January has authorized nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants to perform a method of first-trimester abortion known as vacuum aspiration. Previously, only doctors were allowed to do so.

With the expanded pool of providers, this Marin County clinic can now carry out the procedure as routinely as breast exams and birth control consultations, stripping away the taint of "abortion day." . . .

October 24, 2014 in Abortion, Culture, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

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)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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)

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)

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)