Saturday, March 1, 2014
Gov. Brewer Vetoes Offensive Arizona Bill Sanctioning Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians, But Abortion Seen as Fair Game
The New York Times: Day After Governor’s Veto, Arizona Takes Up Abortion Clinics, by Fernanda Santos:
A day after being reprimanded by Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, for failing to heed her call for action on the budget and the state’s child welfare agency, Arizona’s Republican-led House of Representatives promptly took up a new piece of social legislation on Thursday that would permit the surprise inspection of abortion clinics in the state.
The measure, which would also require the clinics to report “whenever an infant is born alive after a botched abortion,” was championed by the Center for Arizona Policy, the same powerful Evangelical Christian group that pushed a bill Ms. Brewer vetoed on Wednesday that would have made it easier for businesses to refuse service to gay men, lesbians and other people on religious grounds. . . .
The New York Times -- opinion column: Arizona Sort of Helps Out, by Gail Collins:
It’s been quite a week in Arizona. First, the Legislature passed a bill that, in effect, gave businesses the right to discriminate against gay couples. The state’s actual business community was horrified. Everybody from Mitt Romney to Newt Gingrich was ticked off.
Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, pointing out acerbically that the lawmakers had not managed to send her anything whatsoever on critical issues — like, say, the budget — while they labored with remarkable efficiency on behalf of theologically troubled wedding photographers.
Chastened, the very same elected officials trotted back to their posts and immediately took up the subject of surprise inspections of abortion clinics. . . .
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Rolling Stone: The Seven Most Common Lies About Abortion, by Lauren Rankin:
Debunking anti-choice misinformation about women's health
Chances are, you know someone who has had an abortion. Statistically, it's a near-certainty: In the U.S., one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45. But despite how incredibly common abortion is, it remains mired in stigma and misinformation. Much of what we may think we know about this subject is actually outright lies told by abortion opponents to dissuade women out of seeking safe and legal abortion care. . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Feministing: Mother Charged With a Felony for Helping her Daughter Order Illegal Abortion Drugs Online, by Maya Dusenbery:
Well well well. The anti-choice claim that criminalizing abortion won’t lead to people being thrown in jail for ending their pregnancies is becoming harder to sustain. These days, even mothers who help their daughters get the abortions they want can be charged. . . .
Friday, February 7, 2014
MotherJones: MAP: The Republican Crusade to End Insurance Coverage of Abortion, by Molly Redden:
Lawmakers have tried to eliminate private insurance coverage for abortion in 20 states.
Last week, the GOP-led House of Representatives passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would radically limit Americans' ability to buy private-sector health insurance that covers abortion. With the Senate under Democratic control and Barack Obama in the White House, the bill is doomed to fail. But abortion foes can rest easy. Although their momentum has stalled on Capitol Hill, there is a quiet campaign underway in states across the country to outlaw private-insurance coverage of abortion—and it's working. . . .
Thursday, February 6, 2014
My commentary, In Abortion Litigation, It's the Facts that Matter, has been published by the Harvard Law Review Forum. Here is a summary:
This brief commentary argues that courts need to do a better job of closely examining the facts underlying abortion legislation. Courts applying the undue burden standard generally demand from the plaintiffs fact-intensive proof that an abortion law will cause harm. At the same time, courts are highly deferential to the states’ own fact-based assertions about why these laws are needed. Although the “purpose prong” of the undue burden standard has largely been written off as toothless, courts can smoke out illegitimate purposes indirectly by looking more skeptically at the factual foundations supposedly necessitating abortion laws. Recent challenges to virtually identical abortion restrictions have turned on judges’ willingness or refusal to examine more closely the governments’ factual assumptions. This explains the opposite (preliminary) conclusions reached by the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, respectively, on the constitutionality of laws requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, an issue the Supreme Court appears likely to consider.
Anchorage Daily News/AP: Judge grants restraining order against state in abortion rules case:
Judge John Suddock approved the order Tuesday at the request of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, which has sued the state. . . .
U.N. Committee Report Blasts Vatican for Policies on Sexual Abuse and Attitudes on Sexuality, Contraception, and Abortion
The Huffington Post/AP: UN Report Denounces Vatican For Sex Abuse And Stands On Contraception, Abortion And Homosexuality, by Nicole Winfield:
The Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a U.N. human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.
In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the U.N. committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed. . . .
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
The Missoulian: Montana AG barred from defending abortion consent laws, by Charles S. Johnson:
A Helena district judge has blocked the state from defending two state laws that require minors to obtain parental consent before obtaining abortions.
Planned Parenthood of Montana, which challenged the laws, claimed victory Tuesday. A spokeswoman said the group now will ask District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena to permanently enjoin the two laws to stop them from being enforced. . . .
The New York Times: Abortions Declining in U.S., Study Finds, by Erik Eckholm:
The abortion rate among American women declined to its lowest level in more than three decades in 2011, according to a new report released Monday that is widely considered the country’s most definitive examination of abortion trends. . . .
The decline in abortions from 2008 to 2011 was mirrored by a decline in pregnancy rates. . . .
Sunday, February 2, 2014
CharlotteObserver.com: Abortion question divides North Carolina’s U.S. Senate candidates, by Renee Schoof & John Frank:
North Carolina’s fiercely competitive U.S. Senate race could turn on one of the most divisive issues in politics.
The abortion question shows up the stark contrast between incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan and her GOP challengers. . . .
Saturday, February 1, 2014
The New Yorker: Interactive Chart: America's Vanishing Abortion Providers:
In this week’s issue of the magazine, Eyal Press investigates American Women’s Services, a troubled chain of abortion clinics run by a physician named Steven Brigham. . . .
The existence of such clinics, which cater mostly to low-income women with limited options, is not entirely surprising. As reputable doctors, hospitals, and medical schools have increasingly distanced themselves from abortion, substandard providers have materialized to fill the void. The interactive chart above, based on data from the Guttmacher Institute, shows the number of abortion providers in the United States for various years from 1973 to 2008. . . .
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
syracuse.com: Why Rep. Richard Hanna stood alone on House Republican abortion bill, by Mark Weiner:
U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna explained today why he voted against his House Republican colleagues on a bill that bans federal payments for abortions.
Hanna, R-Barneveld, was the only Republican to vote against the legislation, which passed the House Tuesday night by a vote of 227-188. . . .
The Huffington Post: House Republicans Pass Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill, by Laura Bassett:
The House of Representatives passed a bundle of abortion restrictions Tuesday that would dramatically reduce the number of health insurance plans that cover the procedure. The vote was 227 to 188, with one lawmaker voting present
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7), sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would prohibit insurance plans sold in the new health care exchanges from covering abortion, and it would eliminate tax benefits for small businesses that purchase insurance plans covering abortion. The bill would also prevent the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to subsidize abortion care for low-income women. . . .
Monday, January 27, 2014
The New York Times editorial: A Formula for Repelling Women Voters:
Republican leaders have chosen an odd way to try to win back female voters alienated by relentless G.O.P. attacks on women’s health care and freedoms. Instead of backing off, they’re digging in, clinging to an approach that gave President Obama a 12-point advantage among women in the 2012 election and provided the slim margin of victory for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, in 2013. On the national level and even in some red states, the party’s stance on women’s rights is plainly not helping it.
Yet the ideological tide rolls on. States dominated by Republicans continue to enact new abortion restriction. The Republican National Committee last week heard Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, suggest that Democrats favor universal access to free contraception because they think women “cannot control their libido” without the help of “Uncle Sugar.” And this week, the Republican-led House is expected to pass the deceptively named No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. . . .
Friday, January 24, 2014
The New York Times - The Stone blog: Should Pope Francis Rethink Abortion?, by Gary Gutting:
Pope Francis has raised expectations of a turn away from the dogmatic intransigence that has long cast a pall over the religious life of many Roman Catholics. His question “Who am I to judge?” suggested a new attitude toward homosexuality, and he is apparently willing to consider allowing the use of contraceptives to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. But his position on what has come to be the hierarchy’s signature issue — abortion — seems unyielding. “Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life,” he declared in his recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” adding: “Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the church cannot be expected to change her position on this question.”
I want to explore the possibility, however, that the pope might be open to significant revision of the absolute ban on abortion by asking what happens if we take seriously his claim that “reason alone is sufficient” to adjudicate this issue. . . .
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
White House press release: Statement by the President on Roe v. Wade Anniversary:
Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.
The New York Times: Parties Seize on Abortion Issues in Midterm Race, by Jeremy W. Peters:
. . . Abortion is becoming an unexpectedly animating issue in the 2014 midterm elections. Republicans, through state ballot initiatives and legislation in Congress, are using it to stoke enthusiasm among core supporters. Democrats, mindful of how potent the subject has been in recent campaigns like last year’s governor’s race in Virginia, are looking to rally female voters by portraying their conservative opponents as callous on women’s issues. . . .
I found this passage interesting:
Coupling the issue of abortion with a subject important to Republicans’ Tea Party followers — government spending — is one way the party is recalibrating its election-year message. Republicans say that by framing the abortion debate in terms of fiscal conservatism, they can make a connection to the issue they believe will ultimately decide who controls Congress next year — the Affordable Care Act.
The GOP apparently doesn't feel confident that it can afford to address abortion head-on. Republicans are on the defensive, because they know they don't have public support for direct assaults on abortion. But as the GOP continues its stealth attacks on abortion, the struggle for pro-choice advocates and politicians will continue to be how to expose the Republicans' true agenda to voters.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Feministing: Running out of Ideas, Congressman Suggests Abortion Restrictions as Job Creation, by Veronica Bayetti Flores:
Remember HR7, that awful bill that would restrict federal insurance coverage of abortion and add sundry fun new restrictions on abortion coverage in DC and nationwide? Well, nobody knew this before, but it turns out it is also a job growth bill! Let Congressman Bob Goodlatte, creative outside-the-box thinker and Republican representative for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, explain it to you . . . .
SCOTUSblog: Thursday Round-Up, by Amy Howe:
[Wednesday] the Court heard oral arguments first in McCullen v. Coakley, the challenge to a Massachusetts law that creates a thirty-five-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in that state. Lyle covered the argument for this blog; I covered it in Plain English. Other coverage comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, and Richard Wolf of USA Today. In commentary on the case at Dorf on Law, Mike Dorf discusses the oral argument and, in particular, the challengers’ focus on the “fact that the Massachusetts law limits speech on public sidewalks”; at Slate, Emily Bazelon describes the odds as “more than good that the buffer zone in Massachusetts is on its way out.” And also at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick cites the case, along with Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (granted last week) and the Little Sisters of the Poor case, as examples of “all the fascinating new ways that as a nation, we may be as divided about how we talk about abortion and contraception, as we are about abortion and contraception themselves.” At The Atlantic, Garrett Epps interprets the lack of questions from Chief Justice John Roberts as a sign that “his mind is made up and nothing either lawyer could say Wednesday was going to change it. If that’s the case, then the Massachusetts law is doomed.” Writing at Education Week’s School Law blog, Mark Walsh looks at the role that school protest cases could play in McCullen. Other commentary comes from Ruthann Robson at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, who discusses the “definitional disagreements” at the argument yesterday, and from Ed Mannino at his eponymous blog.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
RH Reality Check: Buffer Zones Are Critical to the Safety of Women and Health-Care Providers, by Vicki Saporta:
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCullen v. Coakley, a challenge to a Massachusetts buffer zone law that creates a safe space around reproductive health-care facilities. Buffer zones are critical to the continued safety of reproductive health-care patients and staff because they ensure a limited, yet essential, area for patients to access reproductive health care and for providers to access their workplace. . . .