Friday, April 20, 2018

A Backward Step for Reproductive Rights in Chile

Human Rights Watch (April 16, 2018): A Backward Step for Reproductive Rights in Chile, by José  Miguel Vivanco:

Last year, under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, Chile's Congress passed reproducive health reform that lifted a 28-year blanket ban on abortions in the country. While the reform did not make abortion wholly available, it removed the ban under three circumstances: when the pregnant person's life is at risk; if the pregnancy is a result of rape; and if the fetus is deemed "not compatible with life outside the womb." 

Even with the reform--upheld as constitutional in August 2017--several barriers remained in place even under these circumstances. For example, doctors and whole hospitals could invoke a right not to perform abortions on the basis of conscience. If they chose to invoke this right, though, the original reform required a stated reason for abstaining and also required those abstaining to register as such in a timely manner. The goal of this rule was to ensure continuity of coverage at a hospital, so that pregnant persons qualifying for an abortion would not be denied one due to lack of access. 

Under current Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, the requirement of providing a reason for objecting to performing abortions, along with the requirement of assurance of continuity of coverage, were dropped completely. 

These rule modifications were issued by the Health Ministry and have international human rights groups concerned that the reproductive health of women and girls will not be protected in Chile.

For example, a person pregnant with a non-viable fetus, or a pre-teen rape victim, might find themselves unable to receive an abortion, because the local hospital does not want to potentially offend politicians or invoke the wrath of anti-abortion groups. As such, the only potential abortion-provider in a given town has chosen "on the basis of conscience" not to provide them and will not be required to justify that decision. Human Rights Watch recommends that

The Chilean government should review and amend the rules to ensure that access to legal abortion is protected. Otherwise it risks letting conscientious objection be used as a pretext to deny important newly recognized rights of women and girls. 

April 20, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Reproductive Rights Advocates Challenge Dozens Of Mississippi Abortion Restrictions

NPR News (Apr. 9, 2018): Reproductive Rights Advocates Challenge Dozens Of Mississippi Abortion Restrictions, by Sarah McCamon

Abortion rights advocates with the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the Mississippi Center for Justice are challenging dozens of Mississippi's abortion restrictions in federal court. The state's Republican governor, Phil Bryant, recently signed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, banning abortion after 15 weeks gestation.

Last month, in response to a suit from CRR, a judge quickly moved to temporarily block the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi.

Among the restrictions named in the new suit are a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion; a ban on physicians using telemedicine to provide abortion consultation or dispense medication abortions; and rules known as "TRAP" laws that abortion-rights attorneys and the U.S. Supreme Court say place unnecessarily cumbersome health and safety regulations on facilities that provide abortions. In 2016, the Supreme Court struck down similar rules in Texas in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.

The suit's lead plaintiff is Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only clinic providing abortions in Mississippi.

Nancy Northup, CRR President & CEO, said she's hopeful the challenge to Mississippi's longstanding 24-hour-waiting period could set up an opportunity to revisit laws surrounding similar requirements, which have been upheld by the Supreme Court in the past, as in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

April 11, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

John Oliver takes aim at crisis pregnancy centers and anti-abortion activists 'controlling women's behavior'

The Guardian (Apr. 9, 2018):  John Oliver takes aim at anti-abortion activists 'controlling women's behavior', by Guardian staff

John Oliver examined crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) designed to prevent abortions on this past Sunday's episode of HBO's Last Week Tonight, criticizing their “disingenuous and predatory” tactics and explaining how their "primary purpose is to talk women out of terminating a pregnancy.”

There are 2,752 CPCs  in the United States, compared with 1,671 abortion providers. Many CPCs use the word "choice" in their names and give out advice that is medically inaccurate. They often pretend to be abortion clinics on the exterior to fool women to enter. “Normally, the strategy ‘pretend you’re an abortion clinic’ is not actually a great marketing stunt, although I am pretty sure that Radio Shack would have tried it if they’d thought of it,” Oliver said.

Oliver also discussed how CPCs discourage the use of contraception. There are claims from within CPCs that condoms are ineffective at preventing pregnancy. “For all the lengths that CPCs will go to to prevent abortions, many of them don’t do a key thing that would help that and that’s give women access to birth control,” he said.  “The fact is if you want fewer abortions, you should love birth control."

Oliver said that the real goal of CPCs is “controlling women’s sexual behavior”, as many of them are affiliated with religious figures and organizations.

Watch the segment below:

April 10, 2018 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Culture, Current Affairs, In the Media, Religion, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Missouri Republicans push several abortion proposals during second half of 2018 session

St. Louis Public Radio (Apr. 4, 2018): Missouri Republicans push several abortion proposals during second half of 2018 session, by Marshall Griffin & Erin Achenbach

The Missouri House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation designed to ban abortions at 20 weeks, relying on the same medically inaccurate "pain-capable" language used to pass similar 20-week bans in other states. The bill passed 117-39 and now goes to the Missouri Senate.

Meanwhile, a House committee is considering four other proposals. They include a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare fetuses at every stage of development to be persons, and in effect abolish abortion in Missouri. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove. This is the third year in a row Moon has sponsored the so-called “personhood” amendment. The measure passed the Missouri House in 2016 but fell short in the Senate.

House Bill 2589, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, comes as a response to a St. Louis Board of Aldermen bill that would call for a buffer zone for health care centers and prohibit certain activities, such as picketing, in front of facilities like Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion services in St. Louis. Rehder’s bill would prohibit buffer zones.

The House committee also heard a bill that would make it a felony to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion without the parental consent already required by Missouri law.

Finally, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, introduced House Bill 1867, which would prohibit certain selective abortions relating to sex, race, or Down syndrome.

No action was taken on the four bills heard in committee Tuesday.

April 5, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Legislation, lawsuit show push-pull over abortion rights in Louisiana

Gambit (Mar. 26, 2018): Legislation, lawsuit show push-pull over abortion rights in Louisiana, by Kat Stromquist: 

As a legal battle rages over neighboring Mississippi's recent ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, similar legislation and a lawsuit demonstrate ongoing tensions over the right to obtain an abortion in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider two bills that could further restrict abortion access in the state, including a 15-week ban that mirrors the temporarily enjoined Mississippi law. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Planned Parenthood Center for Choice have filed suit against the Louisiana Department of Health over what the organization says is an unnecessary delay in the processing of an abortion license for its Claiborne Avenue health center in New Orleans.

It's not clear how much support the 15-week ban will attract among Louisiana legislators, but the bill's primary sponsor, Sen. John Milkovich, D-Keithville,  has a key ally: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. Edwards, a Democrat, opposes abortion and announced on his monthly radio program that he would likely sign a 15-week ban that made it to his desk.

In New Orleans, Planned Parenthood has moved to expand the availability of abortions. In February, the group filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the Louisiana Department of Health. Planned Parenthood alleges that the Department is deliberately delaying the processing of its application for an abortion license at its Claiborne Avenue facility. If approved, it would be the first Planned Parenthood clinic in Louisiana to offer abortion services. 

In the absence of a license — and as its lawsuit against the Department of Health proceeds — Planned Parenthood's hands are essentially tied.

Louisiana, which lost one of its few remaining abortion clinics last year, remains a very difficult and hostile environment for abortion rights advocates and for access to abortion care. According to Guttmacher Institute data, there were seven clinics operating in Louisiana in 2011. Today, following year after year of newly enacted state restrictions on abortion providers, there are just three clinics remaining in operation. Planned Parenthood hopes to raise that number to four.

March 29, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 23, 2018

UN human rights committee to Poland parliament: reject anti-abortion bill

JURIST (Mar. 22, 2018): UN human rights committee to Poland parliament: reject anti-abortion bill, by David Zwier: 

This week, Poland's parliament will debate the bill "Stop Abortion," which would ban abortion in cases of severe fetal anomaly. Currently, this is one of only three bases on which a person can terminate a pregnancy in Poland. Poland is known to have some of the most restrictive abortion laws throughout Europe. 

A committee of experts under the UN Human Rights Council has urged the parliament to reject the bill, citing that such restrictions will threaten women's equality and autonomy as well as violate their rights to privacy and health while also putting pregnant persons at risk of cruel and inhuman treatment. Forcing the continuation of a pregnancy, they say, violates an individual's fundamental human rights. 

In 2016, Poland rejected a bill outright outlawing abortion, in part many believe as a response to protests over it. The UN experts have not received a response to their recent communications regarding the current pending legislation. 

March 23, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Current Affairs, In the Media, International, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Judge blocks Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks

The Hill (Mar. 20, 2018): Judge blocks Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, by Rebecca Savransky: 

The Gestational Age Act, signed into law by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant on March 19, has already been judicially blocked. 

The law bans abortions after 15 weeks and is the toughest restriction on abortion in the nation. 

In response to the legislation, Mississippi's only abortion clinic sued, and U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday, March 20. 

Mississippi was already one of the toughest states in which to receive an abortion before the new law was signed. The state requires people seeking abortions to receive counseling and to wait 24 hours before receiving the procedure. 

 

March 21, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, Politics, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mississippi Governor Signs Nation's Toughest Abortion Ban Into Law

NPR (Mar. 19, 2018): Mississippi Governor Signs Nation's Toughest Abortion Ban Into Law, by Jenny Gathright: 

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the Gestational Age Act on Monday, March 19, officially banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The legislature had initially passed the bill on March 8, 2018.

There is only one clinic in Mississippi that performs abortions; they have already sued the state in response to the legislation. 

After signing the bill, the Governor said: "We are saving more of the unborn than any state in America, and what better thing we could do...We'll probably be sued here in about a half hour, and that'll be fine with me. It is worth fighting over."

March 21, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ohio judge blocks legislation preventing abortions in Down syndrome cases

CNN (Mar. 14, 2018): Ohio judge blocks legislation preventing abortions in Down syndrome cases, by Lauren del Valle:

An Ohio federal district court judge blocked legislation that would have banned abortion in cases where a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Republican Gov. John Kasich signed the legislation into law in December of last year, and it was scheduled to go into effect March 23. The legislation is now blocked until a final ruling is made in the lawsuit.
 
In granting the preliminary injunction against the law, Southern District of Ohio Judge Timothy Black said that federal abortion law is "crystal clear" that "a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability."
 
The law prohibits abortions after prenatal tests reveal Down syndrome in a fetus, or if there's "any other reason to believe" the fetus has the genetic condition. A person performing an abortion in such a case could face a fourth-degree felony charge, and physicians could lose their licenses. The ACLU filed a complaint in mid-February calling the legislation unconstitutional.
 
"This law does absolutely nothing to support people with disabilities -- it's just another ploy to make it nearly impossible for Ohio women to get the care they need. We are committed to making sure this unconstitutional law is never enforced, and today's ruling brings us one step closer," Legal Director for the ACLU of Ohio Freda Levenson said in a statement.
 
Similar laws have passed in North Dakota and Indiana, though a federal judge blocked the Indiana law. The North Dakota law went into effect in 2013.

March 16, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

'It's none of your business': Arizona lawmakers water down abortion-question bill

The Arizona Republic (Mar. 15, 2018): 'It's none of your business': Arizona lawmakers water down abortion-question bill, by Dustin Gardiner:

An Arizona Senate bill expanding the state's abortion reporting requirements by making doctors list at least one reason from a list of 11 options, including whether the abortion is due to "economic reasons" or "relationship issues, including abuse, separation, divorce and extramarital affairs," is advancing in the legislature. A requirement in the bill that doctors gather new data about why women choose to end their pregnancies caused outrage and made national headlines.

Republicans in the Arizona House of Representatives voted Wednesday to amend the legislation, Senate Bill 1394, to remove that especially invasive requirement.

Doctors in the state already must report to the Department of Health Services if an abortion is "elective" or "due to a maternal or fetal medical concern."

The House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee voted to strike the provision from the bill at the urging of Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert. Farnsworth and other Republican supporters of the bill didn't explain why they backed an amendment to remove its most controversial provision.

Earlier this week, opponents of SB 1394 held a press conference outside the Capitol to blast what they called an "invasive" attempt to intimidate women who seek a legal medical procedure.

Serena Knierim, who received an abortion as a teenager, said at the press conference the bill would violate women's privacy by subjecting them to an interrogation "for political and religious reasons."

"Why did I get an abortion?" she said. "It's none of your business."

SB 1394 would require doctors to report more specific information about any medical complications from an abortion, which they already must report to the state. It also would require clinics to report details like the specialty of the doctor, whether the abortion was outpatient or inpatient, the type of facility where it was performed and whether anesthesia was used. Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick, an abortion provider in east Phoenix, said that the worst provisions of SB 1394 are its remaining requirements on doctors and facilities.

Serious complications from abortion are rare: In 2016, 13,170 Arizona women received abortions in the state; 33 of them experienced complications, according to the state Health Department.

The bill now faces a vote in the full House. If approved, it must also return to the Senate for another vote because it was amended.

March 15, 2018 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Mississippi is perilously close to passing a big crackdown on reproductive rights

ThinkProgress (Feb. 28, 2018): Mississippi is perilously close to passing a big crackdown on reproductive rights, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

A committee of lawmakers in the Mississippi Senate passed House Bill 1510, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. While the bill provides exceptions for medical emergencies or certain cases of fetal abnormalities, it does not except rape or incest. The House originally proposed and passed the bill earlier in February of this year.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) has previously stated his goal is to completely end abortions in Mississippi, and has affirmed he would sign the bill if it lands on his desk.

Mississippi already proscribes abortions after 20 weeks, a law that was originally defended on the basis of preventing fetal pain, despite research that shows a fetus may not feel pain until 27 weeks. 

As many people do not find out they are pregnant for several weeks, or even months, pro-choice advocates are concerned about the difficulty a 15-week ban imposes on persons who would seek an abortion but do not discover their pregnancy in time. 

20-week bans have been proposed and judicially struck down in Arizona and Idaho, however there has been no challenge yet to Mississippi's current 20-week ban. It's likely the new bill, if made law, would be challenged in court. 

March 8, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, Politics, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Maine’s Top Court Considers State Abortion Funding

(Feb. 5, 2018) Maine's high court to decide if state, through MaineCare, must pay for abortions, by Eric Russell:

The Maine Supreme Court earlier this month agreed to take up a case filed by the ACLU of Maine in November 2015 on behalf of three providers – Mabel Wadsworth Center, Maine Family Planning and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The Court will decide whether the state's refusal to fund abortions for women on MaineCare, the state’s version of Medicaid, violates the Maine Constitution and state statute.

MaineCare currently covers pregnancy-related care if women choose to carry their pregnancy to term. The ACLU suit contends that because the state funds one kind of coverage for low-income women but doesn’t provide coverage for abortion care, it discriminates against women who decide to have an abortion and violates state equal protection.

Last fall, Maine's Superior Court ruled against the ACLU, arguing that there is no "basis in the Maine Constitution or a Maine statute for compelling the state to provide MaineCare funding" for abortion care, and that the ACLU should seek recourse in the legislature or executive branch. The ACLU appealed the decision, and the issue is now before the state's Supreme Court.

At the federal level, the Hyde Amendment bars federal funds from being used for abortions unless the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest or the abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother. Hyde does not bar states from providing coverage, though many states do restrict both public and private insurance coverage for abortion care, including Maine. Only four states voluntarily provide insurance coverage for abortion through state Medicaid programs. Thirteen more states are required to provide such coverage by court orders.

February 15, 2018 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ProMedica Toledo Hospital authorizes patient-transfer agreement with Toledo, Ohio's last abortion clinic

Toledo Blade (Feb. 12, 2018): ProMedica authorizes patient-transfer agreement with Toledo's last abortion clinic, by Mark Reiter and David Patch:

Following a 5-2 Ohio Supreme Court ruling issued on February 6th ordering the closure of Toledo, Ohio's last abortion clinic for violating state law, the future of the clinic and of abortion access in northwest Ohio looked all too grim...until this past Monday the 12th.

After hours of protesting near ProMedica Toledo Hospital on Monday to call on ProMedica to enter into a patient-transfer agreement that would keep Capital Care Network, Toledo’s last abortion clinic, open, the hospital system’s board of trustees authorized the agreement.

In its decision ordering Capital Care Network to close, the Ohio Supreme Court cited that the clinic's hospital transfer agreement with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor did not comply with the Ohio Department of Health's 30-minute transport time standard. The department had revoked Capital Care Network's license in 2014.

Following the enactment of a 2013 law requiring all abortion clinics in Ohio to maintain emergency patient-transfer agreements with local hospitals, Capital Care Network sued the state, arguing that the law presented an undue burden on abortion access in Ohio. While the lower courts sided with the clinic, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to tackle the state law's constitutional issues, instead finding that the state "had authority to revoke Capital Care's license based on the failure to comply with the administrative rule" promulgated by the Ohio Department of Health. Unless Capital Care Network could sign an agreement with a hospital within the 30-minute travel requirement, it would be forced to close.

Capital Care previously maintained an agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center until 2013, when the hospital opted not to renew it. The Ohio legislature then prohibited publicly funded universities from providing transfer agreements to abortion clinics.

In its statement announcing the new agreement with Capital Care, ProMedica spokesperson Tedra White wrote, “entering into this agreement aligns with ProMedica’s mission and values, including our focus on being a health system dedicated to the well-being of northwest Ohio and our belief that no one is beyond the reach of life-saving health care.” “Furthermore," she wrote, "we believe that all individuals should have access to the best care in their neighborhoods.”

Jennifer Branch, an attorney representing Capital Care, said that once she obtains a copy of the transfer agreement, she will file documents with the Ohio Department of Health to halt license-revocation proceedings against the clinic.

Ohio has endured a wave of new laws restricting access to abortion care across the state over the past few years. Under Governor John Kasich, the number of abortion clinics in Ohio has dropped from sixteen to eight. Three are in the Cleveland-Akron area, two in Columbus, and one each in Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati. For now, thanks to ProMedica, the number will stand at eight.

February 14, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Planned Parenthood Will Launch 10 New Video Chat Abortion Locations in 2018

Cosmopolitan (Feb. 6, 2018): Planned Parenthood Will Launch 10 New Video Chat Abortion Locations in 2018, by Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy: 

A safe, early-pregnancy abortion option has been making waves across the United States since Planned Parenthood began its telemedicine abortion pilot program in Iowa in 2008. 

Telemedicine abortions enable those seeking a pregnancy termination to meet with a nurse in a local clinic where both patient and nurse loop in an abortion-providing doctor via video chat. The doctor consults with the patient to determine that they are a good candidate for early pregnancy termination and then authorizes the nurse to dispense two small pills to the patient. The patient takes the first pill in the office in the presence of the nurse and doctor and then later takes the second pill at home. The pregnancy is terminated within a day or two. 

These medications have become known at "the abortion pill" and include both mifepristone and misoprostol, which work together first to block the hormones a woman's body needs to sustain a pregnancy and then to empty her uterus. The FDA-approved abortion pills are for ending pregnancies less than 10 weeks along. A study of Planned Parenthood's telemedicine pilot program found that access to telemedicine abortions decreased second-trimester abortions throughout the state. Second-term abortions require surgical procedures and can carry increased risks.

Although abortion is legal in all 50 states, many states have tightened their restrictions on abortion access, making it very difficult for a person facing an unwanted pregnancy to safely terminate it. Restrictions such as mandatory waiting periods and insurance limitations are compounded in states with very few clinics that can perform abortions. In fact, about 90% of counties in the U.S. do not have an abortion provider. 

Telemedicine allows a patient to meet with an abortion provider even if she doesn’t live near one. Instead of driving long distances, women can go to a closer clinic or Planned Parenthood and video-chat a live, somewhere-in-state abortion provider who prescribes and (virtually, via on-site clinic staff) hands over the meds. “There is no increased risk of complications with a telemedicine visit,” says Daniel Grossman, MD, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. He led a groundbreaking study published last fall that found telemedicine abortions are just as safe as those in which a woman swallows mifepristone in the same room as a physician.

While mifepristone has so far demonstrated a highly-safe success rate (its rates of complications are fewer than most common pain relievers), it cannot be obtained over-the-counter; instead a clinic, hospital, or doctor's office must dispense it.

Some states will allow a pregnant person to video chat with a doctor from her home and then receive both pills in the mail. Since 2008, though, 19 states have challenged the expansion of telemedicine abortions by passing laws that specifically require mifepristone to be dispensed "in the physical presence of the prescribing clinician."

Planned Parenthood continues to expand its telemedicine program despite the challenges. It has now established 24 telemedicine locations in the nation and plans to add at least 10 additional locations--some in new states--throughout this year. 

To find out if telemedicine abortion is available in your area, call the national Planned Parenthood hotline at 800-230-PLAN.

February 13, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Media, Medical News, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Pro-Choice Movement, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Millennials have a surprising view on later-term abortions

Washington Post (January 31, 2018): Millennials have a surprising view on later-term abortions, by Eugene Scott:

This past Monday, the United States Senate voted to block a proposed 20-week ban on abortion care approved by the House of Representatives. A Quinnipiac poll from January 2017, however, may reveal the unpopularity of later-term abortion with millennial voters. At the very least, Scott posits, the controversy around later-term abortion will continue into the next generation.

The poll found that 49 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 would support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Only individuals aged 35 to 49 responded more favorably to a proposed ban. The survey found that 35 percent of millennials think abortion should be legal in all cases, while 9 percent of millennials think abortion should be illegal in all cases.

The Senate voted 51 to 46 on a procedural hurdle, falling short of the 60 votes needed. Democratic senators like Angus King (I-ME) explained that more than 99% of abortions in the United States take place before 20 weeks, and that the proposed ban is "a solution in search of a problem."

Young anti-choice activists hope that an opposition to later-term abortion care will resonate with a wide swath of young voters. Maria, Lebron, a 19-year old student at Catholic University, hopes to shift the anti-choice movement away from its religious and political affiliations to a movement that emphasizes standing for "the baby" and for "the mother." "It cannot only be focused on the unborn," Lebron says.

The culture battle over abortion isn't over, Scott argues, and 45 years after Roe v. Wade, millennials show little sign of resolving the issue.

February 3, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Internal Emails Reveal How the Trump Administration Blocks Abortions for Migrant Teens

Mother Jones (Nov. 29, 2017): Internal Emails Reveal How the Trump Administration Blocks Abortions for Migrant Teens, by Hannah Levintova and Pema Levy: 

Jane Doe isn't the only teenage immigrant the Trump administration has tried to prevent from obtaining an abortion. 

While the ACLU represented Doe in her ultimately successfully case to get an abortion, they continue to fight a class-action for other similarly-situation teens. These teens are pregnant and in government custody with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services. The ORR contracts with local shelters to house the minors.

The director of the ORR, Scott Lloyd, is an anti-abortion activist who has "changed ORR policy to prevent pregnant teens at these shelters from obtaining abortions." 

As part of the ongoing lawsuit, the ACLU has obtained government emails showing the lengths to which the current administration will go to prevent an unaccompanied minor from seeking an abortion. 

For example, ORR temporarily halted a medication abortion for one pregnant minor halfway through the procedure. In another case, ORR suggested that a pregnant minor scheduled for discharge from the shelter not be released until she had been counseled against receiving an abortion.

The ACLU says the government's efforts amount to a violation of the minors' Constitutional rights and defy Supreme Court precedent such as Roe v. Wade, which states the government cannot ban abortion. "They are effectively banning abortion for Jane Doe. I am still in shock that this is happening,” says Brigitte Amiri, a lead attorney for the ACLU. 

One of the emails, published here, includes a redacted sender questioning whether the ORR's methods of approving (or not approving) a minor's pursuit of a judicial bypass are legal. A judicial bypass allows a minor who would otherwise need a guardian's permission for an abortion to get a court's approval to seek and receive an abortion without such parental or guardian permission.

The redacted email sender says:

My understanding is that the judicial bypass was created specifically so that the young lady does not need approval from her guardian (in our case the Director of ORR) to move forward with a term of pregnancy. Has this policy been vetted by your legal department? I anticipate there would be legal challenges to this policy.

Minors represented in this case have received judicial bypasses for their abortions from the courts, however the emails show that ORR nevertheless instructed the shelters not to allow it. It's unclear how those situations were resolved.

The release of these emails makes the government's targeted policies very clear, as the ACLU continues to fight for the Constitutional rights of unaccompanied and undocumented minors. 

November 30, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Facebook is Ignoring Anti-Abortion Fake News

The New York Times (Nov. 10, 2017): Facebook is Ignoring Anti-Abortion Fake News, by Rossalyn Warren

As Facebook addresses the role of "fake news" on its platform, largely in relation to the 2016 election and Russian political propaganda, another potentially more difficult concern arises. The spread of false reproductive rights and health news is widespread and often harder for Facebook to spot (and manage).

Facebook’s current initiatives to crack down on fake news can, theoretically, be applicable to misinformation on other issues. However, there are several human and technical barriers that prevent misinformation about reproductive rights from being identified, checked and removed at the same — already slow — rate as other misleading stories.

Identifying a fake news sources is not always straightforward. The social media giant says it often targets "spoof" sites that mimic legitimate news sources. But misleading anti-abortion sites can be hazier to identify. They generally publish original pieces, but often alongside inaccurate facts or with poor sourcing, which "helps blur the line between what’s considered a news blog and 'fake news.'"

Facebook aims to limit fake news by making it more difficult for these sources to buy ads or generate spam. "Most false news is financially motivated," Facebook says. This is not often the case with anti-abortion advocates, though, who are overwhelmingly driven by strong religious or political beliefs. The goal isn't profit but persuasion. 

Many are concerned that misinformation regarding reproductive rights and abortion in particular may detrimentally affect current political movements. Ireland plans to hold a referendum next year regarding whether to lessen the country's strict abortion regulations. Pro-choice advocates are worried that the rapid spread of abortion-related misinformation on Facebook (like a purported causal link between abortion and breast cancer) may affect the vote. 

Facebook has yet, though, to directly address concerns over this type of scientific misinformation in the same way they have begun to address fake news about last year's election. 

November 17, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, In the Media, Politics, Pro-Choice Movement, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers

Los Angeles Times (Nov. 13, 2017): Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers, by David G. Savage:

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear NIFLA vs. Becerra, in which an anti-abortion group challenges a California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to notify patients that the state offers contraception and abortion services. 

The case centers on the Reproductive FACT Act, which requires pregnancy centers to disclose whether they have a medical license and whether medical professionals are available. The law also requires centers to post a notice in the waiting room that reads: "California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, pre-natal care and abortion."

California lawmakers passed the disclosure law two years ago after concluding as many as 200 pregnancy centers in the state sometimes used “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform and even intimidate women” about their options for medical care.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) represents 110 pregnancy centers in California that all claim the disclosure provision violates their free speech as "compelled speech." Such a disclosure, they claim, conflicts with their faith-based goal of encouraging childbirth and preventing abortion. 

The Californian pregnancy centers initially lost their case under three federal district judges. On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court upheld the lower court's decision. Last month, however, a judge in Riverside County ruled that the law violated the free-speech provisions of California's own state Constitution. 

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra stands by the disclosure provision and its intent to provide women accurate information about their health care options.

It takes five justices for a majority opinion, and many expect the Court's decision to turn on the vote of Justice Kennedy. 

November 14, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, In the Media, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court

San Antonio Current (Nov. 2, 2017): Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court, by Alex Zielinski

The trial fighting Texas' latest anti-abortion law, Senate Bill 8, began last week. Whole Woman's Health sued Texas in July after the governor signed SB 8 into law.

SB 8 would completely prohibit dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures, require clinics to bury the remains of any abortion, and prohibit hospitals from donating aborted fetal tissue to medical research.

The current lawsuit, though, only challenges the ban on D&E abortions. Dilation and evacuation abortions are considered one of the safest procedures for abortions after 13 weeks. The ban does not allow for exceptions in the cases of rape or incest. The only alternatives to a D&E procedure for a woman seeking an abortion are either inducing labor and forcing delivery of the fetus or a surgery similar to a hysterectomy. Both options are risky and expensive. 

In August, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel temporarily blocked the law from going into effect on September 1. On November 2, the plaintiffs returned to Judge Yeakel's courtroom to request the bill's D&E ban be permanently blocked. 

Yeakel has thus far supported a woman's constitutionally-protected right to abortion, saying: "The state cannot pursue its interest in a way that denies a woman her constitutionally protected rights to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable." 

 

November 6, 2017 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Trump DOJ seeks possible disciplinary action against lawyers in abortion case of unaccompanied minor

ABC News (Nov. 3, 2017): Trump DOJ seeks possible disciplinary action against lawyers in abortion case of unaccompanied minor by, Geneva Sands

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court today asking for possible disciplinary action against the attorneys that represented an undocumented minor who had an abortion over objections from the Trump administration.

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of 17-year-old Jane Doe. Doe learned she was pregnant after being placed in a detention facility for children under the purview of the Department of Health and Human Services. She says she knew immediately that an abortion was the right option for her.

Doe, represented by the ACLU, had been fighting the federal government to be granted a medical visit to a clinic to receive her abortion. The government had instead taken her against her wishes to a pro-life clinic that tried to persuade her not to abort and showed her sonograms against her will. 

Doe was finally able to get her abortion on October 25. 

The Trump administration has now accused the ACLU of misleading the government on the timing of Doe's abortion. They claim that after informing Justice Department attorneys that the teen's procedure would occur on October 26th, Doe's attorneys actually scheduled it for early on October 25, thereby avoiding Supreme Court review. 

Government attorneys allege that the ACLU, while advocating for their client, violated their duties to the court and to the Bar. The administration believes the judgment under review that enabled Doe to receive the abortion should be vacated and additionally seeks potential disciplinary action against Doe's attorneys.

In response, the ACLU says the government failed to file a timely review with the Supreme Court and that Doe's attorneys acted both in the best interest of their client and "in full compliance with the court orders and federal and Texas law."

 According to Jane herself:

"I’m a 17-year-old girl that came to this country to make a better life for myself. My journey wasn’t easy, but I came here with hope in my heart to build a life I can be proud of. I dream about studying, becoming a nurse, and one day working with the elderly," she wrote. "This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice," she concluded.

November 4, 2017 in Abortion, Current Affairs, In the Courts, In the Media, President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)