Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Oral Argument in McCullen v. Coakley, the Clinic Buffer Zone Case, by Ruthann Robson:
The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in McCullen v. Coakley regarding a First Amendment challenge to a Massachusetts statute creating a fixed thirty-five-foot buffer zone around the entrances, exits, and driveways of medical facilities, including abortion clinics. Recall that the First Circuit had rejected both a facial and as-applied challenge to the statute. While the statute is a "time, place, manner" statute similar to others that had been upheld, throughout the arguments it often seemed as if the statute was being more than strictly scrutinzed. . . .
Monday, January 13, 2014
Two types of distortions often arise in abortion jurisprudence. The first is distortion of scientific fact. Too often abortion opponents distort medical facts and courts accept those distortions as true. Take, for example, the claim that abortion makes women depressed and suicidal. In fact, no reputable study supports any such causal link. Equally without scientific foundation is the claim that morning after pills like Plan B act as abortifacients. They do not.
The second kind of distortion that occurs in abortion jurisprudence is that the normal doctrine does not apply. Thus, despite the fact that compelling someone to articulate the government’s ideology is anathema in free speech jurisprudence, courts have upheld mandatory abortion counseling laws that force doctors to serve as mouthpieces for the state’s viewpoint. Similarly, despite the fact that for-profit corporations have never been held to have religious rights, several courts have stayed application of the new contraception mandate on the grounds that it might violate the corporation’s "conscience." This abortion exceptionalism is problematic for women and for First Amendment jurisprudence.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
The New York Times: Where Free Speech Collides With Abortion Rights, by Adam Liptak:
A couple of mornings a week, Eleanor McCullen stakes out a spot outside the Planned Parenthood clinic here and tries to persuade women on their way in to think twice before having an abortion.
But she has to watch her step. If she crosses a painted yellow semicircle outside the clinic’s entrance, she commits a crime under a 2007 Massachusetts law.
Early last Wednesday, bundled up against the 7-degree cold, Ms. McCullen said she found the line to be intimidating, frustrating and a violation of her First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday in her challenge to the law. . . .
Saturday, January 11, 2014
SCOTUS blog: SCOTUS For Law Students (sponsored by Bloomberg Law): Abortion's Time is Coming, by Stephen Wermiel:
Noticeably absent from the Supreme Court’s line-up of high-profile decisions in recent Terms is the issue of abortion. Presumably it is just a matter of time.
When the Court decides to tackle a major abortion question and what the Justices ultimately say about the subject should be important to law students in a wide range of courses, from basic constitutional law to advanced civil liberties seminars to gender-based classes. The status and scope of the right to abortion may hang in the balance. . . .
Slate - XX Factor blog: Does Looking at the Ultrasound Before an Abortion Change Women's Minds?, by Katy Waldman:
The journal Obstetrics & Gynecology published an important study this month: the deepest inquiry yet into whether viewing ultrasound images can influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. . . .
Researchers analyzed 15,575 medical records from an urban abortion care provider in Los Angeles. . . .
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Politico: Shifting strategies for state abortion battles in 2014, by Natalie Villacorta:
Conservative states that ran into legal trouble passing some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation last year have shifted their approach for 2014: smaller instead of sweeping.
Rather than bans that directly challenge Roe v. Wade, many states are again going for more incremental measures that address the physical space requirements of clinics, physicians’ qualifications and the use of certain procedures. The move is hardly a retreat, abortion opponents say, but rather a strategic decision that they expect could be nearly as effective in less time. . . .
Texas may continue to be a key test case in 2014. About a dozen clinics have shut since a law took effect there in October requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. . . .
The 5th Circuit heard the case Monday, and it’s likely to uphold the statute, said law professor Caitlin Borgmann of City University of New York. Borgmann, who has worked extensively on reproductive rights, expects the case ultimately to go before the Supreme Court. . . .
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Aljazeera America: Anti-Abortion Pregancy Clinics Thrive in Texas as Real Clinics Close, by Carolyn Jones:
Betsy Garcia hovers nervously outside an abortion clinic in McAllen, Texas. After accepting a pamphlet from someone on the street, she goes to a different building where a woman in a white coat greets her with warmth. The woman offers to show Betsy a graphic video about abortion, then the two pray in front of a crucifix before the teen exposes her belly for an ultrasound. "God is going to bless you in a tremendous way with this child," says the woman as she presses a rosary into the girl's hands. The final scene shows a radiant Betsy dandling her 6-month-old daughter on her lap. . . .
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
The New York Times: Kenneth C. Edelin, Doctor at Center of Landmark Abortion Case, Dies at 74, by Robert D. McFadden:
Dr. Kenneth C. Edelin, a Boston physician whose 1975 manslaughter conviction for performing a legal abortion was overturned on appeal in a landmark test of medical, legal, religious and political questions surrounding abortion in America, died on Monday in Sarasota, Fla. He was 74. . . .
Monday, December 30, 2013
NPR: Abortion Rights Groups Say It's Time To Stop Playing Defense, by Kathy Lohr:
Abortion rights activists are working on a counterattack to the 200 bills that have passed in states across the U.S. since 2010.
In the past three years, Republican-led legislatures have backed bills to regulate abortions and the doctors and clinics that perform them.
. . .So abortion rights activists say they're pushing a new legislative strategy. . . .
Thursday, December 19, 2013
ThinkProgress: There Have Been So Many Attacks On Abortion In North Dakota, Some Women Assume It’s Now Illegal, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
This year, lawmakers in North Dakota approved the harshest abortion ban this country has seen since Roe v. Wade — cutting off access to legal abortion at just six weeks, before many women even realize they’re pregnant. And that’s not all. Lawmakers have also tried their best to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state, enacting sweeping new regulations that are specifically designed to force it out of business.
So far, both restrictive laws are being blocked from taking effect while legal challenges against them proceed. But the damage has already been done for many of the women who used to rely on their state’s only abortion facility, the Red River Women’s Clinic. The environment surrounding reproductive rights has become so hostile that many of them simply assume the procedure has been outlawed. . . .
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Detroit Free Press: Michigan's controversial abortion law to be targeted by opponents in 2014, by Dave Eggert:
Incensed Democrats and abortion rights advocates are vowing that Republican lawmakers overreached so much with new restrictions on abortion coverage in Michigan’s public and private health insurance plans that it will cost them in the 2014 elections.
A ballot drive to repeal or override the law is being considered. If enough signatures are collected, the statewide vote would coincide with November legislative races and keep the issue fresh in the minds of voters in 11 months. . . .
Friday, December 13, 2013
The Huffington Post: New Michigan Law Requires Separate Insurance for Abortions, by Niraj Chokshi:
In a few months, Michigan residents who want abortion insurance will have to pay extra to get it. Lawmakers on Wednesday passed the requirement into law, which the state’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed about a year ago.
“This bill came back to the legislature by kind of a unique process called a citizen’s initiative,” Jonathan Oosting, MLive.com’s state Capitol reporter, told Post TV’s Chris Cillizza. Pro-life groups were able to collect enough signatures to send the bill back to state lawmakers, he said. . . .
ABC News: 9 States Where You Might Need 'Abortion Insurance', by Nicki Rossoll:
Michigan Wednesday became the ninth state to restrict private and public insurance plans from offering abortion coverage, with some of them requiring employers and individuals who want abortion coverage to purchase an additional supplemental policy, even in the case of rape or incest. . . .
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Washington Post: As the world mourns Nelson Mandela, abortion foes protest, by David Gibson:
As world leaders and ordinary citizens gathered in a South African sports stadium on Tuesday (Dec. 10) to remember Nelson Mandela, abortion foes pushed a message that went against the global outpouring of praise: The anti-apartheid leader, they argued, backed a sweeping abortion rights law that negates any good he achieved. . . .
Abortion opponents began blogging and tweeting their objections, often in blistering tones, almost as soon as Mandela died on Dec. 5. . . . But the anti-abortion objections grew when Catholic leaders joined in the chorus of praise for Mandela. Pope Francis lauded Mandela for “promoting the human dignity of all the nation’s citizens and for forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of non-violence, reconciliation and truth.” . . .
Monday, December 9, 2013
ThinkProgress: Don’t Fall For The GOP’s Fake Controversy Over Obamacare’s Expansion Of Abortion Coverage, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that under the health reform law, most of the plans offered to congressional staff now include abortion coverage. “Lawmakers and their staffs now appear to be the only federal employees with access to abortion coverage through their government-supported health insurance plans,” the AP notes.
Predictably, the news is making the rounds on right-wing outlets, sparking controversy among abortion opponents who say it proves Obamacare is allowing federal funding to finance this type of reproductive care. “This is just another example of how Obamacare expands taxpayer funding of abortion,” the president of the Susan B. Anthony List said in a statement.
In fact, the AP’s story is misleading. Although this issue has surfaced several times over the last few months, it’s an entirely manufactured controversy — largely stoked by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), whose allegations form the basis of the AP’s new coverage, and furthered by the conservative media. Here’s what you need to know about how abortion coverage actually factors into Obamacare: . . .
Friday, December 6, 2013
Al Jazeera America - op-ed: The French Abortion Compromise, by Jill Filipovic:
I could live with stronger restrictions on abortion, if the U.S. improved reproductive and maternity benefits for women
Is an abortion compromise possible? After decades of political fighting between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, most Americans would surely like to see the issue laid to rest. And yet, all signs point to there being no end in sight. . . .
Thursday, December 5, 2013
ThinkProgress: Pregnancy, Birth, And Abortion Rates For U.S. Teens Have All Hit A Record Low, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
There’s some encouraging news in the Centers for Disease Control’s latest report about pregnancy rates among U.S. women. According to the agency, teen pregnancies have been steadily declining over the past two decades — hitting a new historic low in 2009, the most recent year with data on the subject. That’s led to new lows for the rates of teen births and abortions, too. . . .
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The New York Times: Bishops Sued Over Policies on Abortion at Hospitals, by Erik Eckholm:
The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.
The suit was filed in federal court in Michigan on Friday on behalf of a woman who says she did not receive accurate information or care at a Catholic hospital there, exposing her to dangerous infections after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. . . .
Saturday, November 30, 2013
The New York Times: Abortion Cases in Court Helped Tilt Democrats Against the Filibuster, by Jeremy W. Peters:
Within hours of each other, two federal appeals courts handed down separate decisions that affirmed sharp new limits on abortion and birth control. One on Oct. 31 forced abortion clinics across Texas to close. The other, on Nov. 1, compared contraception to “a grave moral wrong” and sided with businesses that refused to provide it in health care coverage.
“These are the kinds of decisions we are going to have to live with,” a blunt Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, warned his caucus later as it weighed whether to make historic changes to Senate rules. . . .
The Daily Beast: The GOP’s Late-Term Abortion Strategy Is Backfiring, by Sally Kohn:
Right wing politicians who are push laws to restrict a woman’s access to later-term abortions presumably do so because they don’t want women having abortion after 20 weeks. But new research from medical school-based scholars finds that other policies that conservative Republicans are pushing, including restrictions on access to clinics as well as constrained access to health insurance, actually result in more women seeking later-term abortions. In other words, not only are Republicans hypocrites—but their hypocrisy is backfiring.
Diana Greene Foster and Katrina Kimport are professors in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. Between 2008 and 2010, Foster and Kimport studied the cases of 272 women who had received an abortion at or after 20 weeks of gestation, as well as of 169 women who received first-trimester abortions. These women were interviewed just one week after their abortions and asked a variety of questions including what led to the delay in their medical care. The results are striking and profoundly important for those who seek to promote—or constrict—the rights of women to access and exercise their own reproductive freedom. . . .
Monday, November 25, 2013
NBCNews.com/Reuters: Putin signs law banning advertisements for abortion in Russia, by Ian Bateson:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning advertisements for abortion, the Kremlin said on Monday, a step activists said would infringe on the reproductive rights of women.
Putin has made stemming a post-Soviet population decline a priority during 14 years in power and struck a conservative tone in his new term, praising what he calls traditional values and holding up the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral guide. . . .