May 14, 2013
Catholic/Secular Hospital Mergers Threaten Access to Reproductive Health Care
The New York Times: Hospital Mergers Reset Abortion-Access Battle, by Kirk Johnson:
Politicians seeking to restrict access to abortion, a marked trend this year from North Dakota to Arkansas, tend not to get much traction in this part of the country.
Washington is heavily Democratic, leaning left especially on social issues. A majority of voters even put into law a statutory right to abortion in 1970 — the only state ever to do that. The governor, Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is pushing the Legislature even now to pass a law at a special session on Monday requiring health insurers to pay for elective abortions, another first for the state if it makes it to Mr. Inslee’s desk.
But now a wave of proposed and completed mergers between secular and Roman Catholic hospitals, which are barred by church doctrine from performing procedures that could harm the unborn, is raising the prospect that unelected health care administrators could go where politicians could not. . . .
H/T: Grayson Barber
In addition to prohibiting abortions and certain kinds of end-of-life care, Catholic hospitals also refuse to provide contraception (often including emergency contraception for rape survivors), sterilizations, and infertility services. For more about the threats posed by these mergers, see the MergerWatch website.
Abortion Protest Case Pits Free Speech Rights Against Protection of Children
The New York Times: In Abortion Protests, Which to Protect, Children or Speech?, by Adam Liptak:
Kenneth T. Scott opposes abortion, and he says so in public. Sometimes he holds up large pictures of aborted fetuses. Sometimes he makes his points near churches that he believes are not doing enough to combat abortion.
A couple of years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that hateful antigay protests at military funerals deserved First Amendment protection. It will soon decide whether to hear a sequel, this one involving Mr. Scott. . . .
Eugene Volokh, who is representing Kenneth Scott, has posted links to the court papers here.
May 13, 2013
Vicki Saporta on Abortion Stigma and Gosnell
USA Today op-ed: Abortion stigma created Gosnell, by Vicki Saporta (National Abortion Federation):
Regardless of a woman's income or where she lives, she deserves access to quality care.
The National Abortion Federation (NAF), along with the rest of the pro-choice community has unequivocally and repeatedly denounced the practices at Gosnell's facility. Gosnell was a substandard provider who preyed on vulnerable women, and fortunately he will not be able to do so again. Although this case has made national headlines, the important thing to remember is that Gosnell's practices are not representative of the quality abortion care available from the vast majority of abortion providers in the United States.
Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures provided in this country, due in large part to the skill and expertise of abortion providers who offer high-quality care. However, abortion and abortion providers are marginalized and politically demonized in our society. This stigma around abortion — combined with unnecessary restrictions on women's access to care—helps create opportunities for substandard providers like Gosnell to prey on vulnerable women. . . .
Gosnell Found Guilty of Three Counts of Murder
The New York Times: Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Guilty of Murder in Late-Term Procedures, by Jon Hurdle & Trip Gabriel:
A doctor who was responsible for cutting the spines of babies after botched abortions was convicted Monday of three counts of first-degree murder in a case that became a sharp rallying cry for anti-abortion activists.
The doctor, Kermit Gosnell, 72, operated a clinic in West Philadelphia catering to poor women that prosecutors called a “house of horrors.”
The case turned on whether the late-term pregnancies Dr. Gosnell terminated resulted in live births. . . .
May 10, 2013
Caroline Corbin on Compelled Disclosures
Courts have faced a wave of compelled disclosure cases recently. By government mandate, tobacco manufacturers must include graphic warnings on their cigarette packages, doctors must show and describe ultrasound images of fetuses to women seeking to abort them, and crisis pregnancy centers must disclose that they do not provide contraception or abortion services. Although applying the same compelled speech doctrine to similar issues, appeals courts have reached very different results in challenges to these laws. Drawing from First Amendment theory, this Article first identifies why compelled disclosures undermine free speech values. It then applies those insights to the specific examples above. In doing so, it examines not only compelled text but the new phenomenon of compelled images, particularly compelled images designed to provoke an emotional response. The Article concludes that recent appeals court decisions have it backwards: It is mandatory abortion counseling laws that offend free speech principles, not laws requiring cigarette warnings or crisis pregnancy center disclosures.
May 09, 2013
Akiba Solomon on Evangelical "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" Targeting Black Women
Colorlines: The Missionary Movement to 'Save' Black Babies, by Akiba Solomon:
Last December, Care Net—the nation’s largest network of evangelical Christian crisis pregnancy centers—featured a birth announcement of sorts on the website of its 10-year-old Urban Initiative. Under the headline, “Plans Underway for Care Net’s Newest Center in Kansas City, Mo.!” a block of upbeat text described how a predominantly white, suburban nonprofit called Rachel House had “made contact” with “various African American pastors and community leaders,” who helped them “plant” a “pregnancy resource center” in a predominantly black, poor section of downtown Kansas City. . . .
May 06, 2013
El Salvadoran Woman Petitions for Right to Life-Saving Abortion
Feministing: We already lost Savita in Ireland. Don't let Beatriz die in El Salvador., by Juliana Britto Schwartz:
You all remember Savita Halappanavar, right? Well, the world is looking at another Savita right now, and the only thing standing between her and life is a group of Salvadoran politicians.
Savita Halappanavar was a pregnant woman living in Ireland who was denied a life-saving abortion because her doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat and were therefore required by law not to terminate the pregnancy. She died of blood poisoning while her husband watched.
“Beatriz” is 22 years old, 18 weeks pregnant with an anencephalic fetus (meaning that the fetus will not survive outside of the womb), and suffering life-threatening pregnancy complications. However, Beatriz lives in El Salvador, one of the rare countries in which abortion is illegal under all circumstances, including threat to the mother’s life. . . .
May 01, 2013
Anti-Choice Group Releases New Sting Videos of Abortion Clinics
Slate - Weigel blog: New Pro-Life Sting Videos of Abortion Clinics, by David Weigel:
Live Action and Lila Rose pioneered the modern conservative sting video. Like Ryan Grim reported in 2011, the emotional punch of Live Action stings, in which women appeared to be advised on how to terminate pregnancies on the grounds of race or gender, helped motivate Republicans to pass Planned Parenthood defunding bills. And like Grim reported, a key video didn't hold up to scrutiny when you reviewed the full tape. . . .
Racial Arguments for Florida Abortion Restriction Provoke Walk-Out
The Grio: Black female lawmakers walk out of Florida House over racial arguments made for abortion bill, by Alexis Garrett Stodghill:
A group of black female lawmakers walked out of a fiery debate in the Florida House on Thursday over the state’s latest bill focusing on abortion. House Bill 845, which passed the Florida House of Representatives by a margin of 71-44 that day, stipulates that a doctor performing an abortion must sign an affidavit confirming it was not performed based on the race or gender of the fetus. . . .
April 25, 2013
Senate Bill Would Cover Some Abortions for Peace Corps Volunteers
The Washington Post: Women’s health groups want Peace Corps volunteers to have insurance coverage for abortions, by Lisa Rein:
Yet women on the paid Peace Corps staff, along with other federal employees, federal prisoners, women on Medicaid and Native Americans, have long received insurance coverage for abortions in cases of rape or incest or if their health is in danger. In January, women in the military got the same access. . . .
April 24, 2013
Judge Announces He Will Permanently Enjoin North Dakota Medication Abortion Ban
RH Reality Check: Judge To Permanently Block North Dakota Abortion Ban, by Jessica Mason Pielko:
Women in North Dakota got good news Thursday when District Court Judge Wickham Corwin announced at the conclusion of a three-day trial over the constitutionality of North Dakota’s medication abortion ban that he plans to issue a ruling permanently blocking the state’s onerous restrictions on medication abortion as unconstitutional. . . .
Gosnell Case Highlights Differing Views Over the Effects of TRAP Laws
NPR: Philadelphia Case Exposes Deep Rift In Abortion Debate, by Julie Rovner:
This is the sixth week of the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the physician charged with five counts of murder in the deaths of a woman and infants at the Philadelphia abortion clinic he owned and operated.
The case and its grisly details have prompted considerable debate about a variety of issues, including whether the media has covered it sufficiently.
But it has also laid bare some of the very issues at the heart of the still-simmering debate over abortion 40 years after the Supreme Court made it legal. Most directly, it raises the question of whether increasing regulation on abortion clinics make places like Gosnell's clinic more or less likely to exist. . . .
Listen to the story here.
Kansas Governor Scrawls "JESUS + Mary" On Sweeping Anti-Choice Bill As He Signs It Into Law
Feministing: Kansas Gov signs massive anti-choice law, writes "JESUS + Mary" in notes, by Maya Dusenbery:
Last Friday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a sweeping anti-choice [bill] into law. Among other things, the bill requires doctors to lie and tell patients that abortion is linked to breast cancer, and defines life as beginning at conception in the state constitution.
Before the signing ceremony, Gov. Brownback added a few hand-written notes to his remarks. According to a photo snapped by the AP, the words “JESUS + Mary” are scrawled front and center across the top. . . .
The text of the law is available here.
The Legacy of the Gosnell Case: Unnecessary, Burdensome Regulation of Abortion Providers
RH Reality Check: While We're Debating the Gosnell Case, Anti-Choicers Are Getting to Work, by Gwen Emmons:
. . . Major news outlets have only recently begun to cover Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial, but coverage has focused on the sordid details of Gosnell’s clinic. What’s missing from the headlines is the legacy of the Gosnell case. In Pennsylvania, abortion providers and the women they serve are already feeling the sting of anti-choice legislators all too eager to use the Gosnell case as a flimsy excuse for rolling back reproductive rights and access even further in the state. And it’s only a matter of time until another state invokes Kermit Gosnell’s name in defense of yet another piece of anti-choice legislation. . . .
April 17, 2013
Khiara M. Bridges on Pregnancy as Injury
Khiara M. Bridges (Boston University School of Law) has posted When Pregnancy Is an Injury: Rape, Law, and Culture on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This Article examines criminal statutes that grade more severely sexual assaults that result in pregnancy. These laws, which define pregnancy as a “substantial bodily injury,” run directly counter to positive constructions of pregnancy within culture. The fact that the criminal law, in this instance, reflects this negative, subversive understanding of pregnancy creates the possibility that this idea may be received within culture as a construction of pregnancy that is as legitimate as positive understandings. In this way, these laws create possibilities for the reimagining of pregnancy within law and society. Moreover, these laws recall the argumentation that proponents of abortion rights once made – argumentation that one no longer hears and sees in the debates surrounding abortion. However, recent developments in antiabortion argumentation – namely the notion accepted in Carhart II that it is abortion that injures women – counsel the retrieval of the argument that unwanted pregnancies are injuries to women. Thus, the sexual assault laws are means to legitimatize a claim that may serve as an effective counterdiscourse to prevailing antiabortion argumentation.
April 16, 2013
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Closure of Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic
The New York Times: Ruling Prevents Closing of Mississippi's Sole Abortion Clinic, by Campbell Robertson:
A federal judge in Mississippi on Monday blocked part of a state law that would have forced the closing of the state’s only abortion clinic. The ruling is not final, but it did keep the law from going into effect while a decision on its constitutionality is made, keeping Mississippi, at least temporarily, from becoming the first state in the country without an abortion clinic. . . .
Roundup of Media Analysis of Gosnell Case, its Significance, and the Purported Media "Blackout"
Feministing: Quick Hit: Gosnell's clinic and the cost of dignity in health care, by Maya Dusenbery:
As we’ve already mentioned, the conservative claims of a liberal media “blackout” surrounding the trial of Kermit Gosnell are totally ridiculous. Feminist bloggers and journalists, including us, have been covering this terrible story from the beginning. Our own Lori wrote an article in the Grio two years ago on the racial segregation of Gosnell’s clinic and what this story says about safe abortion access for low-income women of color. . . .
The Atlantic: 14 Theories for Why Kermit Gosnell's Case Didn't Get More Media Attention, by Conor Friedersdorf
The New York Times - Public Editor's Journal: Politics Aside, the Gosnell Trial Deserves — and Is Getting — More Coverage, by Margaret Sullivan
Slate: Kermit Gosnell: The Alleged Mass-Murderer and the Bored Media, by David Weigel
The Atlantic: If More Funding Went to Safe, Legal Abortions, Would Kermit Gosnell Have Happened?, by Jeff Deeney
April 15, 2013
Shakira Maxwell on Reproductive Rights in Jamaica
Shakira Maxwell (The University of the West Indies) has posted Fighting a Losing Battle? Defending Women's Reproductive Rights in Twenty-First Century Jamaica on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Since 1975, the
Government of Jamaica has acknowledged that the practice of unsafe abortions
and high rates of maternal mortality in the island are a significant public
health problem affecting women. Unfortunately, any attempt to focus on this
issue through legal reform has often been sidelined by both religious and moral
groups. In 2008 the issue came back on the Government’s agenda, however once
more, the public discourse has been sidelined away from the main issues
concerns women’s health. As a result, many women in the island continue to face
health complications as a result of unsafe abortions which are practiced under
unhealthy and unsanitary conditions.
This paper will examine the most recent aspects of the debate on the legalization of abortion in Jamaica. It will also highlight the recommendations of the Abortion Policy Review (APR) Group which reviewed health implications in Jamaica and assessed existing laws in the wider Caribbean on abortion and conditions thereof. Using feminist analysis it will also explore the challenges faced by those arguing for legislative reform on abortion services in Jamaica within the larger framework of reproductive health and rights.
How Obama’s Proposed Budget Affects Reproductive Rights
ACLU (blog): Reproductive Rights and Yesterday's Budget Release, by Sarah Lipton-Lubet:
President Obama yesterday released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2014. Here are five things you should know about how it affects reproductive rights:
Home Rule for the District of Columbia
As he has each year of his presidency, President Obama removed the D.C. abortion ban from his budget proposal. That ban prohibits the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to pay for abortion care for low-income D.C. residents. By contrast, all other states are permitted to use non-federal revenues to pay for abortion care if they so choose. . . .
April 12, 2013
College Students Can Glean Lessons from State Activity on Abortion
USA Today: Lessons for students from recent abortion cases, by Rebecca Wickel:
5 lessons that college students can takeaway from recent, high profile abortion cases: Know your representatives, read the fine print, go off campus, take a stand and stay informed.
New laws enacted in Arkansas and North Dakota represent some of the country's most extreme legislation against abortion. Now, both states will go head-to-head in court with abortion-rights advocates who insist the bills violate the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The debate and the controversy surrounding it have many consequences in both Arkansas and North Dakota, yet they can teach college students anywhere how to get involved, take a stance and become educated.