Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Abortion Is "Animating Issue" in 2014 Midterm Elections

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.


January 22, 2014 in Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Congressman Promotes Abortion Restrictions As Job Creation

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 . . . .

January 20, 2014 in Abortion, Congress, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUSblog's Round-Up on Massachusetts Buffer Zone Case

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.

January 20, 2014 in Abortion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Argument in Favor of Buffer Zones for Reproductive Health-Care Clinics

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. . . .

January 16, 2014 in Abortion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone

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. . . . 

January 15, 2014 in Abortion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Caroline Corbin on Distortions in Abortion Jurisprudence

Caroline CorbinCaroline Mala Corbin (University of Miami Law School) has posted Abortion Distortions on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

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.

January 13, 2014 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Supreme Will Hear Arguments on Wednesday in Massachusetts Buffer Zone Case

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. . . .

January 12, 2014 in Abortion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Only a Matter of Time Before Supreme Court Tackles a Major Abortion Question

Supreme CourtSCOTUS 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. . . .

January 11, 2014 in Abortion, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Large Study, 98.4% of Women Who Viewed Ultrasound Images Still Chose Abortion

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. . . . 

January 11, 2014 in Abortion, Scholarship and Research, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

More on Legislative and Litigation Outlook for Abortion in 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. . . .

January 7, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, In the Courts, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

In Texas, Abortion Clinics Close But Anti-Choice "Pregnancy Medical Clinics" Thrive

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. . . .

January 2, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Doctor at Center of Landmark Abortion Case Dies at 74

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. . . .

December 31, 2013 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Pro-Choice Activists Aim for New Legislative Strategy

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. . . .

December 30, 2013 in Abortion, Reproductive Health & Safety, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

North Dakota's Flurry of Abortion Restrictions Leaves Some Women Believing Abortion is Banned

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. . . .

December 19, 2013 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Michigan Democrats Vow Abortion Insurance Restriction Will Cost GOP in 2014

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. . . .

December 15, 2013 in Abortion, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Michigan Joins 8 Other States In Requiring Abortion Insurance To Be Purchased Separately

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,’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. . . . 

December 13, 2013 in Abortion, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Anti-Choice Advocates Refuse to Join Global Celebration of Mandela's Life

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.” . . .

December 10, 2013 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Real Story Behind the Expansion of Abortion Coverage for Congressional Staff

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: . . .

December 9, 2013 in Abortion, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Does France Show Abortion Compromise Is Possible?

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. . . .

December 6, 2013 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

U.S. Teen Pregnancy, Birth, and Abortion Rates Hit Record Lows

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. . . . 

December 5, 2013 in Abortion, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)