Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Friday, May 8, 2015

New Oklahoma and Florida Abortion Waiting Period Laws Join This Year's "Flurry of Roadblocks"

The New York Times: State Legislatures Put Up Flurry of Roadblocks to Abortion, by Frances Robles:

Oklahoma’s governor this week approved a law extending to 72 hours the mandatory waiting period before a woman can have an abortion. Here in Florida, lawmakers enacted a 24-hour waiting period that requires two separate appointments — one for anultrasound and information about fetal development and another for the actual procedure.

These are just two laws in a surge of bills passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year that make it harder for women to have abortions. . . .

May 8, 2015 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Americans' Views on Abortion Are Complex and Not Well Captured by Past Polls

ThinkProgress: Polls Have Been Misleading You About What Americans Actually Believe About Abortion, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

Do you know where most Americans stand on abortion? Thanks to the way that we’ve been polling on the issue for the past several decades, probably not.

Most media coverage on the subject would lead you to believe that abortion evenly splits the nation. According to pollsters, the country has barely budged on this issue since the procedure was first legalized in 1973. The leading polling organizations often refer to Americans’ views on abortion as “closely divided” and say this finding has been “stable” for decades. “The trend lines look about as flat as they can be,” Daniel Cox, the research director at the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, said on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Tresa Undem, who has more than a decade of experience conducting public opinion research for nonprofits, doesn’t think that’s true. . . .

Vox: What Americans Think of Abortion: It's Not So Black and White, by Sarah Kliff:

"Abortion is killing a baby. But I'm not saying it's always wrong."

This was the first thing David King told me when I called him in late March and asked him talk to me about his views on abortion.

King and I didn’t know each other when I called. He’s a former dairy farmer who now works at a Walmart in rural Ohio. A few weeks earlier, he’d been among the 1,067 adults randomly selected for a Vox poll on abortion policy. He gave our pollsters, communications and strategy firm PerryUndem, an answer that interested me. When asked whether he identified as pro-life or pro-choice, he didn’t pick one. He picked both. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion, Public Opinion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cecile Richards Encourages Public Dialogue on Abortion

TIME - Ideas: We Need to Talk—Really Talk—About Abortion, by Cecile Richards:

America has an urgent need for authentic public dialogue about abortion

When Jemima Kirke, an artist and star of HBO’s Girls, recently talked openly about her personal experience with abortion, media took notice. Her story made it plain that, too often, women’s access to abortion and other reproductive health care is seriously limited due to their economic circumstances and because of the part of the country where they live. Jemima’s story was also a reminder that the ability to decide when or whether to have children is key to women’s opportunity to be financially secure and pursue their dreams. In recent years, spurred on by the reproductive justice movement, young people are refusing to be shamed or silenced about their personal decisions around abortion. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion, Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Alyson Zureick on Denial of Abortion as a Form of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment

Alyson Zureick (J.D. 2014, NYU Law) has posted (En)Gendering Suffering: Denial of Abortion as a Form of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment on SSRN. Here is the abstract: 

The regulation of abortion has long been considered a prerogative of the state. In recent years, however, international human rights bodies have begun to consider the conformity of domestic abortion regulations with a state’s human rights obligations. This paper examines a notable trend among human rights bodies: namely, finding that denying or obstructing a woman’s access to abortion can amount to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under multiple human rights treaties. First, human rights bodies have found that states can be responsible for CIDT inflicted on women who are harassed and denied services that are legally available to them under the state’s laws. Second, human rights bodies have found that the application of restrictive abortion laws themselves may inflict CIDT by depriving women of an abortion in particularly serious cases, such as rape or when the woman’s life is threatened. I argue that these findings reflect an understanding that certain restrictions on abortion — or the state’s failure to act to prevent de facto restrictions from arising — are unjustifiable and disproportionate to lawful state aims. They also demonstrate a limited but important recognition that deprivations of autonomy in the reproductive rights context can lead to the kind of pain and suffering that is unacceptable in modern societies. At the same time, I argue that human rights bodies should further strengthen their understanding of women’s autonomy interests in this context, particularly the ways in which the frustration of their reproductive autonomy can inflict severe and unacceptable pain or suffering tantamount to CIDT.

April 9, 2015 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 23, 2015

New Abortion Language in Medicare Bill Seems to Satisfy House Democrats

The Washington Post/AP: House Dems say new abortion language helps Medicare doc deal, by Alan Fram:

Language has been added to an emerging bipartisan deal on Medicare clarifying that the agreement’s abortion restrictions on community health centers are temporary and won’t be inscribed into permanent law, House Democrats said Monday.

The Democrats said they believe the new provisions will ease concerns that have threatened Democratic support for the overall package, which is mostly aimed at protecting doctors who treat Medicare patients from imminent, deep cuts. . . .

March 23, 2015 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

ACLU Challenges Alabama Law that Puts Teens Seeking Abortions on Trial

Associated Press: Ala. Abortion Law Lets Judges Appoint Lawyers for Fetuses, by Kim Chandler: 

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday asked a federal judge to block an Alabama law that allows a fetus to be represented in court when a minor is seeking judicial permission for an abortion.

While abortion opponents have rolled out a variety of new restrictions on abortion in recent years - including new requirements on clinics and doctors - ACLU staff attorney Andrew Beck said the Alabama law was unique. . . .

 Here's the Daily Show's take on it (from January):

March 21, 2015 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, In the Courts, State Legislatures, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

GOP Holds Loretta Lynch Confirmation Vote Hostage over Unrelated Abortion Flap

The Christian Science Monitor: McConnell vows: no vote on attorney general until abortion flap solved, by Mark Sappenfield:

Mitch McConnell said Sunday that the Senate would not vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch until another bill has been dealt with first. But that bill appears to have hit an impasse over abortion.

President Obama’s nominee to be the next United States attorney general apparently will have to wait until Senate Democrats and Republicans can figure out abortion.

That could be a long wait.

It’s not that she said something controversial about abortion at confirmation hearings. In fact, the abortion issue has nothing at all to do with Loretta Lynch. . . .

March 15, 2015 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Senate Republicans Jeopardize Human Trafficking Bill with Anti-Abortion Provision

Politico: How abortion politics scuttled a human-trafficking bill, by Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim:

It’s a cause any politician would have a hard time opposing: cracking down on human trafficking.

Instead, in a breakdown sensational even by Senate standards, a bill to address the issue is set to go down in a partisan firefight. The cause of the row? Democrats didn’t read the 68-page bill to discover its provisions dealing with abortion, and Republicans didn’t disclose the abortion language when Democratic staffers asked them for a summary of the legislation.

The spectacle has infuriated groups that advocate for cracking down on sex trafficking and left Democrats and Republicans even more skeptical of whether they can trust each other. . . .

March 14, 2015 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Anti-Choice Legislators Oppose Successful Colorado Contraception Program by Conflating Birth Control and Abortion

NPR: Colorado Debates Whether IUDs Are Contraception Or Abortion, by Megan Verlee:

A popular contraception program in Colorado is receiving criticism from conservative lawmakers who say that the program's use of intrauterine devices, or IUDs, qualify as abortions.

More than 30,000 women in Colorado have gotten a device because of the state program, the Colorado Family Planning Initiative. An IUD normally costs between $500 and several thousand dollars. Through the program women could receive one for free. . . .

State health director Larry Wolk says that the program has largely been a success. "Our teen birth rate has dropped 40 percent over the last four years," says Wolk. "The decline in teen births has been accompanied by a 34 percent drop in abortions among teens." . . .

_________________________________

Oh dear.  Contraception/abortion conflation strikes again.  Recent research shows that IUDs' primary mechanism is pre-fertilization.  For example, this article from American Family Physician advises:

. . . When discussing the mechanism of IUDs as part of the informed consent process, patients may be told that although prefertilization and postfertilization mechanisms may both contribute to the contraceptive effectiveness of IUDs, research suggests that the majority of effects occur prefertilization. . . .

Moreover, regardless of the mechanism, IUDs don't cause "abortions."  Doctors define pregnancy as beginning at implantation, not before.  That makes sense, especially given that about half of all fertilized eggs never successfully implant.  (You don't see anti-choice advocates lamenting the loss of all of these "persons.")  

-CEB

March 8, 2015 in Abortion, Contraception, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

An Expert Answers the Question: How Safe is Abortion?

The Huffington Post: How Safe Is Abortion?, by Dr. David A. Grimes:

The safety of abortion depends on whom one asks. National data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that induced abortion and miscarriage are the safest outcomes of pregnancy. In contrast, abortion opponents routinely claim that abortion is unsafe. They do this by cherry-picking studies, citing obsolete literature, extrapolating inappropriately and misinterpreting results. Moreover, some abortion opponents have double standards: what they report in the medical literatureis not what they claim in the newspaper or testify under oath. As a gynecologist, I have had to spend considerable time over the years disabusing patients of these false claims. Here is a sampling of what can be found on the Internet . . . .

______________________________

Dr. Grimes is the former Chief of the Abortion Surveillance Branch at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the author of Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation.

March 4, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

House Republicans Attach Anti-Choice Provision to Education Bill

The Huffington Post: House Republicans Slip Anti-Abortion Language Into Education Bill, by Laura Bassett:

House Republicans attached language to a major education bill Wednesday night that would financially penalize school districts that allow school-based health centers to provide information about abortion to pregnant high school students. . . .

February 26, 2015 in Abortion, Congress, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Review of Mo Yan's "Frog" -- A Novel About China's One-Child Policy

The New York Times: Review: In Mo Yan’s ‘Frog,’ a Chinese Abortionist Embodies State Power, by Janet Maslin:

When the Chinese writer Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012 and was warmly lauded by the Communist government, he became one of the most reviled winners in the history of that great honor. Among the more benign accusations lobbed at him was that he was undeserving. . . .

Too easily lost in all this howling was Mr. Mo’s writing. His latest novel, “Frog,” gracefully and colloquially translated by Howard Goldblatt, is not the work of a hack or an ideologue. It is a rich and troubling epic — and a very human story — about China’s one-child policy, and Western readers who think they understand how this works have another think coming. . . .

February 26, 2015 in Abortion, Books, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Man Sues Vermont Claiming Insurance Plans' Abortion Coverage Violates His Religious Beliefs

Vermont Free Press: Lawsuit targets Vermont over abortion, by Elizabeth Murray:

Alan Lyle Howe says his opposition to abortion is more than just a moral belief — it's a religious conviction.

But Vermont's state-offered health plans force Howe to choose between his pro-life beliefs and insurance coverage, because all plans offered through Vermont Health Connect include a fee for elective abortion coverage, said his lawyer, Casey Mattox. . . .

February 24, 2015 in Abortion, In the Courts, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More Reaction to "Abortion Episode" on Girls

The Washington Post: TV gets smart — and sensitive — about abortion, by Alyssa Rosenberg:

For all Lena Dunham’s indie comedy “Girls” has been lauded for its bravery, back in 2012 during its first season, the show took what felt like an early punt. On her way to have an abortion, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) had one of pop culture’s infamous spontaneous miscarriages, saving her — and the show — from making a decision that Hollywood still treats as controversial. Last night, the show finally circled back around to the subject, when Adam’s (Adam Driver) new girlfriend, Mimi-Rose (Gillian Jacobs), revealed that she’d had an abortion without consulting him. . . .

Jezebel: While You Watched the Oscars, Girls Did a Super Chill Abortion Episode, by Anna Merlan:

Here it is, because we have to talk about it: a character on Girls had an abortion, and it was very chill. Adam's new girlfriend Mimi-Rose politely declined his request to go for a jog, telling him, "I can't go for a run because I had an abortion yesterday." The scene that followed was both laudable in its matter-of-fact depiction of abortion and bizarre in just about every other way. Does no one on this show ever think about money? Ever? . . .

Yahoo Health: What Makes The Portrayal Of Abortion On 'GIRLS' Different Than The Rest, by Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy:

Last night, the most shocking thing on the Lena Dunham-helmed HBO show GIRLS wasn’t a graphic sex act (as has become the series’ calling card). It was the straightforward and non-sensationalized way in which one of the show’s characters discussed her decision to have an abortion. . . .

February 24, 2015 in Abortion, Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Girls" Introduces Abortion Plotline

The Huffington Post: 'Girls' Finally Went There With An Abortion Storyline, by Laura Duca & Emma Gray:

“I can’t go for a run because I had an abortion yesterday,” announces Adam Sackler’s new girlfriend, Mimi-Rose Howard. With that statement, “Girls” joined the (limited) ranks of TV shows that a) have a character follow through with an abortion and b) deal with the subject in a way that is both interesting and adds positively to the dialogue about reproductive choice. . . .

February 22, 2015 in Abortion, Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Justice Ginsburg on MSNBC: Overturning Roe v. Wade "Not a Likely Scenario"

MSNBC: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on abortion, race and the broken Congress, by Irin Carmon:

The Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion isn’t in danger of being overturned anytime soon, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told msnbc in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview. But Ginsburg warned that the abortion restrictions being enacted by states around the country are having an outsize impact on low-income women. . . .

February 16, 2015 in Abortion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Comparing States' Unintended Pregnancy Rates Based on Abortion Stance

The Washington Post (The Fix blog): States that are more opposed to abortion rights have fewer abortions — but not fewer unintended pregnancies, by Aaron Blake:

Abortion in America is an extremely divisive issue, splitting Republicans and Democrats with often very strong feelings.

It also divides the states. In 2010, according to a new study from the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights group, an estimated 11 percent of all unintended pregnancies in South Dakota were aborted. In New York, it was 54 percent.

In general, Guttmacher's numbers show that states with more people who oppose abortion rights tend to have lower abortion rates. But views on abortion tend to have much less impact on something else related to all this: unintended pregnancies. . . .

______________________________

The piece includes charts and interactive maps.

January 29, 2015 in Abortion, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rep. Tim Ryan Switches to Pro-Choice Camp

The New York Times (Taking Note blog): Tim Ryan’s Switch on Abortion Rights, by Dorothy Samuels:

Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who previously opposed abortion rights, has officially changed sides. He’s very welcome in the pro-choice camp. With reproductive freedom under attack in the Republican-led Congress and in G.O.P.-controlled state legislatures around the country, the embattled cause needs all the new supporters it can get. . . .

January 29, 2015 in Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

6 Facts About Abortion

Vox: 6 very basic facts about abortion in America, by Sarah Kliff:

Forty-two years ago today, the Supreme Court issued its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized a woman's right to abortion. Ever since, America has debated and grappled with how to regulate a woman's right to choose. These graphs and charts help provide some context of how abortion access has changed in the United States since Roe, and how America's position on the issue has evolved over four decades. . . .

January 22, 2015 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House Passes Bill Banning Federal Funding for Abortions

The Wall Street Journal: House Passes Bill Prohibiting Federal Funds Being Used for Abortions, by Kristina Peterson & Louise Radnofsky:

Some female Republican and centrist lawmakers helped scuttle a vote on a controversial measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, prompting the House on Thursday to pass a separate, largely symbolic bill that would further restrict federal funding to pay for abortions. . . .

The bill approved Thursday, which would ban the use of federal funds to pay for abortions or health-insurance plans that cover abortion, passed 242-179. There are already bans in place on using most federal funds for abortion. One Republican, Rep. Richard Hanna of New York, voted against the bill.

The White House said President Barack Obama would likely veto it. . . .

January 22, 2015 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)