Wednesday, April 6, 2016
New York Times (Apr. 2, 2016): Arizona Governor Signs Abortion Bill that Skirts F.D.A. Decision, by Erik Eckholm:
The Food and Drug Administration recently relaxed its guidelines for use of the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone, which is used in approximately one in four abortions. Arizona has passed a law requiring abortion providers to follow the original guidelines. The original guidelines, based on studies conducted in the 1990s, recommended doses of mifepristone that have since been deemed unnecessarily high and recommended its use in pregnancies of up to seven weeks, instead of the ten-week pregnancies. Medical researchers have determined that mifepristone is safe in pregnancies of up to ten weeks.
The conservative Christian group that promoted the legislation called the new F.D.A. guidelines outrageous. Opponents of the law see it as an attack on women.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
New York Times (Mar. 5, 2016): The Return of the D.I.Y. Abortion, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz:
The recent surge in state-level anti-abortion legislation, such as the Texas TRAP law at issue in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, has led to the closure of many abortion providers across the country. While the impact of such laws on access to safe abortions is clear, the response of pregnant women is less so due to the silencing stigma surrounding the procedure.
Google searches can help us understand what’s really going on. They show a hidden demand for self-induced abortion reminiscent of the era before Roe v. Wade.
This demand is concentrated in areas where it is most difficult to get an abortion, and it has closely tracked the recent state-level crackdowns on abortion.
While only 34% of people involved in an abortion – that is, people who have had an abortion or their partners – tell anyone about the procedure, Google searches offer a window into the decision behind an abortion.
Search rates for self-induced abortion were fairly steady from 2004 through 2007. They began to rise in late 2008, coinciding with the financial crisis and the recession that followed. They took a big leap in 2011, jumping 40 percent. The Guttmacher Institute singles out 2011 as the beginning of the country’s recent crackdown on abortion; 92 provisions that restrict access to abortion were enacted. There was not a comparable increase in searches for self-induced abortions in Canada, which has not cracked down.
These statistics do not reveal the true trends in self-induced abortions across the country, but they certainly indicate a disturbing increase in demand in states where abortion services have become all-but impossible to obtain.
Friday, March 11, 2016
New York Times (Mar. 10, 2016): Governor Vetoes Curb on an Abortion Method:
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Wednesday vetoed a ban on a second-trimester abortion practice. The bill would ban dilation and evacuation method abortions unless the doctor has caused the death of the fetus. It would not ban the method in cases of medical emergency. There would not be criminal or civil penalties, but physicians could potentially lose their medical licenses. The governor, a Democrat, cited concerns about constitutionality and patient safety. Courts blocked similar bans on the commonly used practice that Kansas and Oklahoma enacted in 2015. The Republican-led Legislature passed the bill alongside some Democrats. West Virginia lawmakers can override the veto with a simple majority of both chambers. Last year, lawmakers overrode Mr. Tomblin’s veto of a ban on abortions 20 weeks after conception.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
The Slot (Feb. 22, 2016): John Kasich, Who is Terrible, Signs Bill Defunding Ohio Planned Parenthood, by Anna Merlan:
Republican Presidential Candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a bill, HB 294, to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio on Sunday. The bill strips $1.7 million in funding from Planned Parenthood and any other entity that "performs or promotes non therapeutic abortions" or contracts with entities that do and redirects those funds to sex ed and preventative care. The law could affect hospital funding because hospitals sometimes perform abortions or contract with entities that do. According to Planned Parenthood, the lost funding had not been used for abortions but for "education and testing, including sex ed classes, a program called Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies, and HIV tests."
Mindful of his moderate campaign messaging, Kasich did not sign HB 294 in public. Instead, his office announced the signing in a statement. For more information, see the Columbus Dispatch report here.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Atlantic (Feb. 19, 2016): The Muddled Future of Reproductive Rights, by Julie Rovner:
Prior to Justice Scalia's death, the Supreme Court frequently voted 5-4 votes on controversial decisions. Following Justice Scalia's death, there is a chance that the Court could deadlock, 4-4 in cases this term. When there is a tie vote, the appellate court's decision will stand, but it does not create national precedent.
This March the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear two reproductive rights cases, one on abortion and one on contraceptive insurance coverage. Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstadt challenges a Texas law that imposes restrictions on abortion clinics. The district court struck down the law, but the Fifth Circuit's decision reversed the district court and would allow the law to go into effect with minor changes. Zurbik v. Burwell challenges the religious accommodation that has been created for religious-affiliated institutions who wish to opt-out of contraceptive coverage. Current rules do not require that religious hospitals or schools contract for contraceptive coverage. Instead, they must inform the government who their insurer is so that the government can arrange for coverage. The lower courts in the cases consolidated in Zurbik found that the administration's rules don't violate religious rights.
Because appellate courts have ruled differently on both the contraceptive regulations and the constitutionality of laws like the Texas law challenged in Whole Women's Health, a tied Supreme Court decision would prolong Circuit splits. If the Supreme Court cannot reach a decision in the two cases, it can also hold them over and re-hear them next term.
Friday, February 19, 2016
New York Times (Feb. 11, 2016): Pregnancy Clinics Fight for Right to Deny Abortion Information, by Erik Eckholm:
At more than 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) run by religious opponents of abortion, a woman cannot obtain information on where to obtain an abortion. To fight a California law requiring such centers to post a notice that free or low-cost abortion, contraception and prenatal care are available to low-income women through public programs, some CPCs are claiming a free-speech right to withhold such information. Attempts in other states to regulate CPCs in this fashion have been struck down by federal courts. But courts in California have so far refused to enjoin the regulations, the theory being that they do not force the CPCs to declare their religious beliefs but merely require them to provide factual information about public programs. There are lingering concerns that CPCs are misleading pregnant women with false information about the complications of abortion and its longer-term effects.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Ms. Magazine Blog: Texas Anti-Abortion Law is Having a Predictably Terrible Effect on Women, by Lily Wujek:
The University of Texas at Austin recently released a study on the impact of Texas's HB2 Anti-Abortion Law on access to contraception and abortion services. HB2, which excludes Planned Parenthood affiliates from Texas' fee-for-service family planning program, is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.
The study found that after being turned away from a closed clinic, eight of the 23 women interviewed had to wait more than a week to obtain an abortion. Two of these women were not seen until after 12 weeks of pregnancy, despite initially seeking abortion care in the first trimester. Two women in the study could not obtain an abortion at all as both lived in areas of Texas that were left without an abortion provider after HB2 came into effect, and both had initially sought services early in their pregnancies. They ended up continuing their pregnancies because they did not have the resources to travel to another clinic.
According to a press release put out by the University,
After the [passage of HB2], provision of the most effective reversible methods of contraception (IUDs, implants, and injectable contraception) decreased and Medicaid-paid births increased among injectable contraceptive users. Claims for IUDs and implants declined 35 percent and claims for injectable contraceptives declined 31 percent.
The study, entitled Effect of Removal of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program, is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
New York Times (Feb. 7, 2016): Federal Judge Orders Abortion Foes Not to Release Secretly Filmed Videos, by Barry Meier:
A federal court judge has dealt a blow to the instigators of last summer's smear campaign accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue. Judge William Orrick prohibited the Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos they had made and rejected the group's claim that its investigation was protected journalism. The group's campaign triggered efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood even though the hundreds of hours of recordings revealed that Planned Parenthood had engaged in no wrongdoing.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Guttmacher Institute (Feb. 3, 2016): Adolescents in Developing Countries Face Barriers to Accessing Safe Abortion Services, by Rebecca Wind:
This week, the Guttmacher Institute released a fact sheet on barriers to adolescents seeking abortion. According to the report, 3.2 million adolescent women in developing countries had unsafe abortions in 2008.
The new fact sheet incorporates data from three recent studies of adolescent sexual and reproductive health needs and services in developing countries. It includes information about unsafe abortion incidence in specific countries and in the developing world in general, abortion service provision, access to postabortion care and barriers that adolescents face in accessing safe abortion services. The data show that adolescents are more likely than older women to self-induce abortion or go to an untrained provider, and they are more likely to have abortions later in pregnancy. Adolescents are also less likely than older women to start using contraceptives following postabortion care, which increases their likelihood of experiencing future unplanned pregnancies.
The report also highlights barriers to adolescents in seeking safe abortion services. Chief among these are cost and confidentiality.
Find more information on the fact sheet here.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Mother Jones (Jan. 22, 2016): How Roe v. Wade Survived 43 Years of Abortion Wars, by Hannah Levintova:
Mother Jones has been on the front lines throughout the abortion wars with its up-close-and-personal profiles of women making difficult, personal reproductive choices and clinic staff dedicated to helping them. In this chronicle of its coverage, MJ traces the current spate of legislative rollbacks of Roe v. Wade to the unveiling of the "undue burden" standard in the 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Perhaps most poignant is the following insight: In contrast to what Roe v. Wade accomplished back in 1973--stopping deaths from botched abortions "overnight"-- today "discussions of women's safety are more often heard in statehouses enacting further restrictions on abortion." There have been more anti-abortion laws passed since 2010 than in any other five-year period since Roe was decided.
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
New York Times (Jan. 17, 2016): On Paper, Italy Allows Abortions, but Few Doctors Will Perform Them, by Gaia Pianigiani:
Thirty years ago, the long fight for abortion rights resulted in a law permits abortion with ninety days of pregnancy and later for women in mental or physical danger or in cases of serious fetal pathologies. But nearly three-quarters of the country's gynecologists--more in some regions--are conscientious objectors to the law, reflecting the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in the delivery of medical care. Many non-objecting physicians, who tend to be part of the older generation of practitioners, are approaching retirement age. Non-invasive abortions are completely unavailable in some regions, despite a national directive that has been in place since 2009. The European Committee of Social Rights has deemed the lack of access to abortion in certain regions detrimental to the health of women.
Friday, January 15, 2016
New York Times (Jan. 15, 2016): Planned Parenthood Sues Abortion Foes, by Erik Eckholm:
Planned Parenthood mounted a legal counterattack Thursday against the anti-abortion activists who used covertly taped videos to accuse the organization of trading in aborted baby parts, charging in a federal lawsuit that “anti-abortion extremists” had engaged in a three-year “complex criminal enterprise.”
Defendants in the lawsuit include the Center for Medical Progress, which created and disseminated the videos and is registered as a charitable trust in California, and the head of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, described as a "dangerous and reckless extremist" in the complaint. These activists hoped to convince the American public that Planned Parenthood was illegally trading in aborted baby parts, an allegation that was not substantiated in subsequent congressional and state investigations. The videos have nonetheless fueled the campaign to de-fund Planned Parenthood and have triggered vandalism, harassments and threats of violence at its clinics.
The complaint charges fraud and violations of conspiracy laws, state privacy laws and specific statutes and seeks money damages. The complaint may be found here.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
New York Times (Jan. 11, 2016): Law on Ultrasounds Reignites the Abortion Debate in a 2016 Battleground, by Richard Fausset:
North Carolina has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, one the Hilary Clinton campaign has called "outrageous." Any doctor who performs an abortion after the 16th week of pregnancy must submit an ultrasound to the state. The state says it wishes to verify that doctors are not performing post-20-week abortions. Opponents of the law, which also extends the mandated waiting period for an abortion to 72 hours, call it an effort to intimidate both doctors, who know that determining gestational age is an inexact science, and women, who may hesitate before allowing information about their pregnancy to be shared with a governmental agency. The law also requires doctors performing abortions after 20 weeks to send the health department the findings and analysis that were used to determine that a medical emergency existed. The controversy has become an important issue in the political sphere, as Democrats harness liberal anger in an attempt to unseat the Republican governor Pat McCrory in his bid for a second term.
Monday, January 11, 2016
Jezebel (Dec. 19, 2015): Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood is Still Closed, but the Protestors are Back, by Stassa Edwards:
The clinic has been closed since November 27 when Robert Lewis Dear walked in and opened fire on patients and staff. Though PP employees haven’t even entered the building since the shooting, anti-choice protesters replete with obligatory signage, stand on the corner outside of the closed clinic.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Associated Press (Dec. 22, 2015): Support for Legal Abortion at Highest Level in Two Years, by Nancy Benac and Emily Swanson:
Nearly six in 10 Americans — 58 percent — now think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, up from 51 percent who said so at the beginning of the year, according to the AP-GfK survey. It was conducted after three people were killed last month in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado.
However, just over a third of Americans want laws on abortion to be stricter than they are now, the poll shows, while a quarter think they should be less strict.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
ThinkProgress (Jan. 5, 2016): The Abortion Case That Could Overturn Roe v. Wade Has a Lot of Opponents, by Alex Zielinski:
This March, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole to decide whether HB2, a Texas law which places burdensome, unnecessary guidelines on abortion clinics and has already forced more than half of the state's clinic to close is constitutional. The regulations are framed as health regulations, but they have been criticized as having little to do with women's health while imposing costly and unnecessary requirements on clinics.
Reproductive rights advocates have been outspoken since HB2 passed in 2013, but since the Supreme Court’s November decision to hear the case, the diversity of opponents has grown. The 45 briefs were filed by a variety of petitioners, including physicians, historians, religious leaders, military officers, scientists, members of Congress, civil rights advocates, law scholars, entire cities, and the United States federal government itself.
Several of the briefs tell the personal stories of women who have had abortions and the real world impact that HB2 will have on them.
Jessica González-Rojas, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, [spoke about] the women already harmed the most by the current Texas law.
“For immigrants, mothers, low-wage workers, and Latinas who are all three, securing an abortion means navigating a state-created obstacle course,” she said. “Those unable to jump through these hoops will be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or take matters into their own hands.”
The briefs reflect the largest coalition of faith leaders and organizations to oppose anti-choice laws at the Supreme Court level as well as the views of scientists and medical professionals. Argument is set for March 2.
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Mother Jones (Dec. 30, 2016): This Year, States Took the War on Uteruses to the Next Level, by Becca Andrews:
According to a year-end report released by the Center for Reproductive Rights, nearly 400 anti-abortion bills were introduced across the country in 2015, up from 335 provisions introduced in 2014. The bills ranged from regulation of medication abortions to all-out bans on the most common method of second-trimester abortions, and the Guttmacher Institute reports 57 of them were enacted.
The laws passed by state legislatures included restrictions on medication abortion, bans on procedures for second-trimester abortions, waiting periods, parental consent requirements, and bans on abortion after 20 weeks.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
New York Times (Dec. 19, 2015): The Reproductive Rights Rollback of 2015:
The New York Times reports that no fewer than 288 restrictions on abortion have been enacted since 2011. These include the familiar targeted regulation of abortion providers scheduled for review next year by the Supreme Court. But abortion is being attacked in other ways as well, including extensions of waiting periods, mandated in-person counseling necessitating two separate trips to an abortion provider, and bans on inexpensive medical abortions. Against the backdrop of the forceful move in many states to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the only reproductive health provider for millions of poor women, these efforts reflect an attempt not only to unduly burden but indeed to obliterate entirely every woman's right to manage her reproductive life.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
New York Times (Dec. 23, 2015): Utah: Judge Says State Can Block Funding for Planned Parenthood:
A judge ruled Tuesday that Utah can cut off federal funds to Planned Parenthood, a move that Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, ordered after the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group. The ruling, by Judge Clark Waddoups of Federal District Court in Salt Lake City, reversed a temporary order that the money keep flowing while the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah pursues its lawsuit against the state. Mr. Herbert stopped about $275,000 in federal funds for sex education and for tests for sexually transmitted diseases. Judge Waddoups said that even though the Utah group had not engaged in wrongdoing, it was affiliated with other Planned Parenthood entities “that have allegedly engaged in illegal conduct.”
Friday, December 18, 2015
New York Times (Dec. 17, 2015): Judge Leaves Northern Ireland's Abortion Law to Lawmakers:
A Belfast judge declined to modify Northern Ireland's strict abortion laws on Wednesday, saying that only lawmakers had the authority to bring the current legislation in line with European human rights laws.
Judge Mark Horner of the Northern Ireland High Court said that ordering changes to allow abortions in the case of a fatal fetal abnormality, rape or incest to conform with the European Convention of Human Rights Act of 2003 would be “a step too far.”
His decision, which reinforces a previous ruling he made last month, puts the responsibility firmly on the local assembly to resolve the matter, though it does not compel lawmakers to do so.
Unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply to Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal other than in cases where the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.
Under the 1861 Offenses Against The Person Act, a person convicted of performing an illegal termination faces a sentence of life in prison.
The government is expected to appeal the initial ruling.