Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sinn Féin votes to change its abortion policy

BBC News (Jun. 16, 2018): Sinn Féin votes to change Northern Ireland abortion policy, by Jayne McCormack: 

Sinn Féin party delegates in Northern Ireland have voted to change the party's position on abortion at a conference in Belfast. Members comprehensively backed a leadership motion stating that women should have access to abortions within "a limited gestational period." The party can now support a law due to be brought before the Irish parliament, which is expected to allow abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The decision comes shortly after a referendum in the Republic of Ireland removed a constitutional amendment which effectively outlawed abortion. Sinn Féin had previously backed making abortion available in circumstances like fatal fetal abnormality, rape, or sexual abuse.

However, the party will now back a policy put forward by the Sinn Féin leadership that is broadly in line with the new Irish law, which is expected to make abortion available to women within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancies.

Sinn Féin's Northern Irish leader Michelle O'Neill opened the debate and told delegates: "No one is saying members can't have a conscience and you're entitled to have your viewpoint respected, but there is a difference between personal views and our role as legislators."

Unlike other parts of the UK, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland, meaning that it is the only region of the UK or Ireland where abortion is illegal unless there is a serious risk to a woman's life or health. Abortions in cases of rape, incest, or fatal fetal abnormalities are not automatically legally permitted to be carried out.

At the conference on Saturday, the party's leadership had backed a motion stating that women should have access to abortions within a "a limited gestational period."

The motion by the party leadership did not specify the 12-week period, but refers to making abortions available through a general practitioner-led service "without specific indication for a limited gestational period."

Mrs O'Neill denied that this gives the Sinn Féin leadership blanket authority to eventually back abortion in line with the 24-week period provided by the UK's 1967 Act, arguing it allowed the party flexibility in case legislation brought before the Dáil (Irish parliament) eventually reduces the time limit to 10 weeks.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning government since the collapse of power-sharing between Sinn Féin and the DUP in January 2017.

June 19, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Argentina’s historic vote to decriminalize abortion

Vox (Jun. 14, 2018): Argentina’s historic vote to decriminalize abortion, explained, by Emily Stewart: 

On Thursday, June 14, Argentina's lower legislative house voted 129-125 on a bill that would decriminalize abortions up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy. The bill is part of "a broader women’s rights movement, Ni Una Menos — meaning 'Not One Less' — directed at stopping violence against women, including murder."

Abortion is currently illegal in Argentina except in cases of rape or life and health-threatening circumstances. Even in these scenarios, abortions are difficult to obtain and there may be not guidelines or clear legal requirements for providers, according to Shena Cavallo, a program officer at the International Women’s Health Coalition. Half a million women sought illegal abortions in 2016, and abortion-related deaths are one of the top causes of maternal mortality in Argentina. 

Over the past 13 years, six different bills decriminalizing abortion have unsuccessfully come before Argentina's Congress. Activist groups like the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion and Catholics for the Right to Decide Argentina, have helped to gain the momentum for the current bill, contributing to the greater Ni Una Menos movement.

The Ni Una Menos movement, started in 2015, is a campaign against gender-based violence. It began in Argentina after a surge of media reports of women being killed by their husbands, boyfriends, or partners, and it has spread across multiple Latin American countries. Argentina has a history of public protest — it is not uncommon for major city streets and roadways to be shut down for hours or days because of protest — and multiple Ni Una Menos marches have taken place. This new wave of feminism has spurred more women to speak out about a variety of issues, including abortion. Activists see illegal abortion as another way of keeping women oppressed.

While Argentine President Mauricio Macri has not stated public support for the bill, he has encouraged debate over it and also said he would not veto it if it reaches his desk.

Although the more conservative Senate is expected to reject the bill, advocates consider this recent vote a win and will continue to fight for abortion legalization and the overall protection of women throughout Argentina and Latin America. 

June 15, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International, Politics, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Absent on an abortion-related issue in Louisiana? It's probably a Democratic legislator.

The Advocate (June 3, 2018): Absent on an abortion-related issue in Louisiana? It's probably a Democratic legislator, by Tyler Bridges:

During the past three legislative sessions in the Louisiana legislature, seven Democrats missed more than half of the votes on abortion, an issue fraught with political peril for some Democrats in this state.

Two Democrats from New Orleans — state Rep. Neil Abramson and state Rep. Gary Carter Jr. — missed 15 of the 17 votes taken during the 2016, 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions.  Both men said that other legislative business caused them to miss the votes. The other five who have missed at least half of the votes are state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans; state Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans; state Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport; state Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe; and state Rep. Randal Gaines, D-LaPlace.

No Republicans missed more than half of the 17 votes, according to the group’s score card.

Five of the seven Democrats did not vote on the most controversial abortion bill during the 2018 legislative session, Senate Bill 181, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks. That bill passed the House 81-9 with 14 abstentions and the Senate 24-1 with 14 abstentions. Current Louisiana law prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed the 15-week bill into law, but it will take effect only if a federal court upholds a similar Mississippi law under legal challenge by  abortion rights groups that label it as "cruel" and "unconstitutional." Both measures would impose the strictest bans in the country.

Louisiana Democrats like Gov. Edwards, Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, and Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, hold anti-abortion views that put them at odds with the Democratic Party nationally and the party’s recent presidential candidates.

Some Democrats, however, don’t want to anger Democrats who support abortion rights, a key constituency, or conservative voters who do not support abortion, whose support may be necessary in some elections, said Bernie Pinsonat, a Baton Rouge pollster and political consultant. Pinsonat said he is not surprised that the legislators who have missed the abortion votes are Democrats.

Voting anti-choice is especially important for Republican candidates, Pinsonat said, noting that 18 to 22 percent of the electorate consists of single-issue, anti-abortion voters.

In a 2016 interview, Rep. Abramson declined to state his views on abortion. “That’s a broad question,” he said when asked whether he supported women having the right to an abortion. “I’m not going to get into the details of all of this,” he said when asked whether he opposed abortion except in the cases of limited exceptions, a common Republican position.

Rep. Carter said he has not intentionally missed abortion votes and said his position on the issue is clear: “I support women having the right to choose as well as to be able to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies,” he said. Had he been present for the vote, Carter said he would have voted against the 15-week abortion ban.

June 4, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ireland’s Vote on Abortion Is a Referendum on the Nation’s Future

May 24, 2018 (The New Yorker): Ireland’s Vote on Abortion Is a Referendum on the Nation’s Future, by Margaret Talbot:

On Friday, Irish voters will decide whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the country’s constitution, which bans abortion under nearly all circumstances. The vote will help expose how much the Catholic Church’s hold in Ireland has weakened, following years of revelations about child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests and about the Church’s mistreatment of “fallen women,” who had become pregnant out of wedlock (in 2013, Ireland’s Prime Minister at the time, Enda Kenny, issued a state apology for the Church-run Magdalene Laundries, where such women were confined as unpaid workers, often in drudgery and cruelty).

Though the Yes side—those who want to eliminate the Eighth Amendment—can count on the support of many of the country’s leading politicians and is still ahead in the polls, the gap seems to be narrowing. The most recent polls show that almost one in five voters are still undecided, a figure that raises the spectre of a surprise victory for those who want to keep abortion illegal.

The vote is also an opportunity for tech companies to show how transparent they can be about political advertising and how much they can protect themselves against foreign interference (American anti-abortion activists are among those trying to influence the outcome of the vote). Google announced earlier this month that it would refuse advertising related to the referendum. Facebook said that it would bar such advertising by foreign groups.

Friday’s vote will be a test of whether women in Ireland will continue to be coerced and shamed if they do not want to carry their pregnancies to term. The Eighth Amendment, which has been in place since 1983, has not stopped abortion in Ireland. Making the procedure illegal never has—and that is worth remembering, not only in Ireland but in the United States, where the Trump Administration has given new impetus to those who would like to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Between 1980 (when abortion was not legal in Ireland but was less restricted than after the amendment) and 2016, 168,703 Irish women and girls obtained abortions in England and Wales, according to the United Kingdom’s Department of Health and Social Care. In 2016, the latest year for which such statistics are available, the number was 3,265. This is almost certainly an underestimate, since it only includes women and girls who give Irish addresses when they show up at hospitals in Liverpool and other English cities. The number also leaves out a smaller group of Irish women who go to countries other than England, such as the Netherlands. And it does not count women who obtain abortion-inducing pills on their own.

In 1992, the Irish legislature passed an amendment that made it legal for women to travel abroad for an abortion. This outlawing-and-outsourcing arrangement has come at an enormous cost to Irish women. In November of 2011, a woman named Amanda Mellet, a charity worker living in Dublin with her husband, had a routine scan for her first pregnancy. It revealed that, at twenty-one weeks, the fetus had a chromosomal disorder that kills ninety-five per cent of babies in utero and had heart defects that made survival impossible. A midwife informed Mellet that she had two choices: continue the pregnancy or “travel,” which, as she told the Washington Post recently, brought to mind “Ireland’s history of spiriting deviant women away in conditions of secrecy and shame.” 

To Mellet, the journey she made to Liverpool for the abortion felt like a banishment that deliberately denied her the care and the counselling that she should have had in her own country. She flew home twelve hours later, still bleeding. “Not only did we have to make this horrible decision about what to do in the case of a fatal condition,” she told the Post, “we had to leave the country like criminals, speak in euphemisms to hospital staff in Ireland, pay thousands to end a pregnancy, all the while my heart breaking at having to say goodbye to my darling baby girl.” In a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on Mellet’s behalf, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled, in June, 2016, that the state had violated Mellet’s rights to freedom from cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, as well as her privacy and equality before the law.

It is not just the most terrible cases that should be considered when thinking about the Irish ban on abortion—or about the American pro-life movement’s push to ban the procedure here. If Irish voters set aside the amendment, Irish legislators will be able to enact new laws that will likely make abortion freely available to women in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, with restrictions thereafter—a framework similar to that of many other countries in Europe. That will certainly provide safety and dignity for women in tragic predicaments. But new laws will also help women in more commonplace ones, who aren’t prepared, for any number of reasons, to bear a child, and who should not be forced to do so. It will allow women, in other words, the ordinary autonomy that all men have.

Polls in Ireland close at 10PM local time on May 25th.

May 25, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Iowa Lawmakers Pass Strictest Abortion Law in the U.S.

The Hill (May 2, 2018): Iowa lawmakers pass strictest abortion law in the US, by Julia Manchester:

On Wednesday, May 2, 2018, Iowa legislators passed "the heartbeat bill." The legislation bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Essentially, the heartbeat distinction would ban abortions by the sixth week of pregnancy. 

Opposition to the bill claims that it would ban abortions before some women even know they're pregnant. 

The passage of the bill comes as the Trump administration has taken a hard-line stance on abortion, spurring a slew of abortion laws across the nation.

Nineteen states adopted a total of 63 restrictions to the procedure in 2017, which is the highest number of state laws on the issue since 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The bill now goes to Gov. Kim Reynolds's (R) desk, but, if signed, is expected to be challenged as a violation of Supreme Court precedent including Roe v. Wade. 

May 3, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Supporters of El Salvador’s Abortion Ban Foil Efforts to Soften It

The New York Times (April 26, 2018): Supporters of El Salvador’s Abortion Ban Foil Efforts to Soften It, by Elisabeth Malkin:

El Salvador remains one of six Latin American countries with a total ban on abortion after the Legislative Assembly failed to debate and vote on a measure that would have relaxed the ban in two circumstances: when the mother's life is in danger and in the case of a minor becoming pregnant as a result of rape. 

In El Salvador, abortion is criminalized and punishable by up to eight years in prison for both doctor and patient. Human rights groups around the world have a lobbied for a change in the harsh policies that sometimes criminalize women who have late-term miscarriages. These women have historically been charged with abortion or even aggravated homicide. 

Advocates aiming to soften the total ban had been lobbying for months, but their efforts were unsuccessful when the former, left-wing-led national legislature adjourned last week without voting on the proposals. A new Legislative Assembly convenes this month, dominated by conservatives who are not expected to revive the debate or offer reform proposals.  

May 2, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, International, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Indiana abortion law signed by Mike Pence ruled unconstitutional

CNN (Apr. 20, 2018): Indiana abortion law signed by Mike Pence ruled unconstitutional, by Clare Foran:

A federal appeals court has ruled that an Indiana abortion law signed by Vice President Mike Pence when he served as the state's governor is unconstitutional.

The legislation, signed by Pence in March 2016, barred a woman from getting an abortion based on her reason. Specifically, it would have prohibited abortions if the sole reason for the abortion is the fetus’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or diagnosis of a statutorily-defined “disability” or “potential diagnosis” of a “disability,” including Down syndrome.
 
In the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling, Judge William Bauer wrote that the provisions in the law that bar women from seeking abortions in certain cases "clearly violate" what he described as "well-established Supreme Court precedent, and are therefore, unconstitutional."
 
The case was brought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky against the commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health.
 
In related news, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have brought a new suit against an Indiana restriction passed this year.

April 26, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Backward Step for Reproductive Rights in Chile

Human Rights Watch (April 16, 2018): A Backward Step for Reproductive Rights in Chile, by José  Miguel Vivanco:

Last year, under former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, Chile's Congress passed reproducive health reform that lifted a 28-year blanket ban on abortions in the country. While the reform did not make abortion wholly available, it removed the ban under three circumstances: when the pregnant person's life is at risk; if the pregnancy is a result of rape; and if the fetus is deemed "not compatible with life outside the womb." 

Even with the reform--upheld as constitutional in August 2017--several barriers remained in place even under these circumstances. For example, doctors and whole hospitals could invoke a right not to perform abortions on the basis of conscience. If they chose to invoke this right, though, the original reform required a stated reason for abstaining and also required those abstaining to register as such in a timely manner. The goal of this rule was to ensure continuity of coverage at a hospital, so that pregnant persons qualifying for an abortion would not be denied one due to lack of access. 

Under current Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, the requirement of providing a reason for objecting to performing abortions, along with the requirement of assurance of continuity of coverage, were dropped completely. 

These rule modifications were issued by the Health Ministry and have international human rights groups concerned that the reproductive health of women and girls will not be protected in Chile.

For example, a person pregnant with a non-viable fetus, or a pre-teen rape victim, might find themselves unable to receive an abortion, because the local hospital does not want to potentially offend politicians or invoke the wrath of anti-abortion groups. As such, the only potential abortion-provider in a given town has chosen "on the basis of conscience" not to provide them and will not be required to justify that decision. Human Rights Watch recommends that

The Chilean government should review and amend the rules to ensure that access to legal abortion is protected. Otherwise it risks letting conscientious objection be used as a pretext to deny important newly recognized rights of women and girls. 

April 20, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Current Affairs, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Reproductive Rights Advocates Challenge Dozens Of Mississippi Abortion Restrictions

NPR News (Apr. 9, 2018): Reproductive Rights Advocates Challenge Dozens Of Mississippi Abortion Restrictions, by Sarah McCamon

Abortion rights advocates with the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the Mississippi Center for Justice are challenging dozens of Mississippi's abortion restrictions in federal court. The state's Republican governor, Phil Bryant, recently signed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, banning abortion after 15 weeks gestation.

Last month, in response to a suit from CRR, a judge quickly moved to temporarily block the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi.

Among the restrictions named in the new suit are a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion; a ban on physicians using telemedicine to provide abortion consultation or dispense medication abortions; and rules known as "TRAP" laws that abortion-rights attorneys and the U.S. Supreme Court say place unnecessarily cumbersome health and safety regulations on facilities that provide abortions. In 2016, the Supreme Court struck down similar rules in Texas in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.

The suit's lead plaintiff is Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only clinic providing abortions in Mississippi.

Nancy Northup, CRR President & CEO, said she's hopeful the challenge to Mississippi's longstanding 24-hour-waiting period could set up an opportunity to revisit laws surrounding similar requirements, which have been upheld by the Supreme Court in the past, as in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

April 11, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Missouri Republicans push several abortion proposals during second half of 2018 session

St. Louis Public Radio (Apr. 4, 2018): Missouri Republicans push several abortion proposals during second half of 2018 session, by Marshall Griffin & Erin Achenbach

The Missouri House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation designed to ban abortions at 20 weeks, relying on the same medically inaccurate "pain-capable" language used to pass similar 20-week bans in other states. The bill passed 117-39 and now goes to the Missouri Senate.

Meanwhile, a House committee is considering four other proposals. They include a proposed constitutional amendment that would declare fetuses at every stage of development to be persons, and in effect abolish abortion in Missouri. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove. This is the third year in a row Moon has sponsored the so-called “personhood” amendment. The measure passed the Missouri House in 2016 but fell short in the Senate.

House Bill 2589, sponsored by Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, comes as a response to a St. Louis Board of Aldermen bill that would call for a buffer zone for health care centers and prohibit certain activities, such as picketing, in front of facilities like Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion services in St. Louis. Rehder’s bill would prohibit buffer zones.

The House committee also heard a bill that would make it a felony to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion without the parental consent already required by Missouri law.

Finally, Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, introduced House Bill 1867, which would prohibit certain selective abortions relating to sex, race, or Down syndrome.

No action was taken on the four bills heard in committee Tuesday.

April 5, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Legislation, lawsuit show push-pull over abortion rights in Louisiana

Gambit (Mar. 26, 2018): Legislation, lawsuit show push-pull over abortion rights in Louisiana, by Kat Stromquist: 

As a legal battle rages over neighboring Mississippi's recent ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, similar legislation and a lawsuit demonstrate ongoing tensions over the right to obtain an abortion in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider two bills that could further restrict abortion access in the state, including a 15-week ban that mirrors the temporarily enjoined Mississippi law. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Planned Parenthood Center for Choice have filed suit against the Louisiana Department of Health over what the organization says is an unnecessary delay in the processing of an abortion license for its Claiborne Avenue health center in New Orleans.

It's not clear how much support the 15-week ban will attract among Louisiana legislators, but the bill's primary sponsor, Sen. John Milkovich, D-Keithville,  has a key ally: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards. Edwards, a Democrat, opposes abortion and announced on his monthly radio program that he would likely sign a 15-week ban that made it to his desk.

In New Orleans, Planned Parenthood has moved to expand the availability of abortions. In February, the group filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against the Louisiana Department of Health. Planned Parenthood alleges that the Department is deliberately delaying the processing of its application for an abortion license at its Claiborne Avenue facility. If approved, it would be the first Planned Parenthood clinic in Louisiana to offer abortion services. 

In the absence of a license — and as its lawsuit against the Department of Health proceeds — Planned Parenthood's hands are essentially tied.

Louisiana, which lost one of its few remaining abortion clinics last year, remains a very difficult and hostile environment for abortion rights advocates and for access to abortion care. According to Guttmacher Institute data, there were seven clinics operating in Louisiana in 2011. Today, following year after year of newly enacted state restrictions on abortion providers, there are just three clinics remaining in operation. Planned Parenthood hopes to raise that number to four.

March 29, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 23, 2018

UN human rights committee to Poland parliament: reject anti-abortion bill

JURIST (Mar. 22, 2018): UN human rights committee to Poland parliament: reject anti-abortion bill, by David Zwier: 

This week, Poland's parliament will debate the bill "Stop Abortion," which would ban abortion in cases of severe fetal anomaly. Currently, this is one of only three bases on which a person can terminate a pregnancy in Poland. Poland is known to have some of the most restrictive abortion laws throughout Europe. 

A committee of experts under the UN Human Rights Council has urged the parliament to reject the bill, citing that such restrictions will threaten women's equality and autonomy as well as violate their rights to privacy and health while also putting pregnant persons at risk of cruel and inhuman treatment. Forcing the continuation of a pregnancy, they say, violates an individual's fundamental human rights. 

In 2016, Poland rejected a bill outright outlawing abortion, in part many believe as a response to protests over it. The UN experts have not received a response to their recent communications regarding the current pending legislation. 

March 23, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Current Affairs, In the Media, International, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Judge blocks Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks

The Hill (Mar. 20, 2018): Judge blocks Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, by Rebecca Savransky: 

The Gestational Age Act, signed into law by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant on March 19, has already been judicially blocked. 

The law bans abortions after 15 weeks and is the toughest restriction on abortion in the nation. 

In response to the legislation, Mississippi's only abortion clinic sued, and U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday, March 20. 

Mississippi was already one of the toughest states in which to receive an abortion before the new law was signed. The state requires people seeking abortions to receive counseling and to wait 24 hours before receiving the procedure. 

 

March 21, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, Politics, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mississippi Governor Signs Nation's Toughest Abortion Ban Into Law

NPR (Mar. 19, 2018): Mississippi Governor Signs Nation's Toughest Abortion Ban Into Law, by Jenny Gathright: 

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the Gestational Age Act on Monday, March 19, officially banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The legislature had initially passed the bill on March 8, 2018.

There is only one clinic in Mississippi that performs abortions; they have already sued the state in response to the legislation. 

After signing the bill, the Governor said: "We are saving more of the unborn than any state in America, and what better thing we could do...We'll probably be sued here in about a half hour, and that'll be fine with me. It is worth fighting over."

March 21, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ohio judge blocks legislation preventing abortions in Down syndrome cases

CNN (Mar. 14, 2018): Ohio judge blocks legislation preventing abortions in Down syndrome cases, by Lauren del Valle:

An Ohio federal district court judge blocked legislation that would have banned abortion in cases where a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Republican Gov. John Kasich signed the legislation into law in December of last year, and it was scheduled to go into effect March 23. The legislation is now blocked until a final ruling is made in the lawsuit.
 
In granting the preliminary injunction against the law, Southern District of Ohio Judge Timothy Black said that federal abortion law is "crystal clear" that "a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability."
 
The law prohibits abortions after prenatal tests reveal Down syndrome in a fetus, or if there's "any other reason to believe" the fetus has the genetic condition. A person performing an abortion in such a case could face a fourth-degree felony charge, and physicians could lose their licenses. The ACLU filed a complaint in mid-February calling the legislation unconstitutional.
 
"This law does absolutely nothing to support people with disabilities -- it's just another ploy to make it nearly impossible for Ohio women to get the care they need. We are committed to making sure this unconstitutional law is never enforced, and today's ruling brings us one step closer," Legal Director for the ACLU of Ohio Freda Levenson said in a statement.
 
Similar laws have passed in North Dakota and Indiana, though a federal judge blocked the Indiana law. The North Dakota law went into effect in 2013.

March 16, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Mississippi is perilously close to passing a big crackdown on reproductive rights

ThinkProgress (Feb. 28, 2018): Mississippi is perilously close to passing a big crackdown on reproductive rights, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

A committee of lawmakers in the Mississippi Senate passed House Bill 1510, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. While the bill provides exceptions for medical emergencies or certain cases of fetal abnormalities, it does not except rape or incest. The House originally proposed and passed the bill earlier in February of this year.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) has previously stated his goal is to completely end abortions in Mississippi, and has affirmed he would sign the bill if it lands on his desk.

Mississippi already proscribes abortions after 20 weeks, a law that was originally defended on the basis of preventing fetal pain, despite research that shows a fetus may not feel pain until 27 weeks. 

As many people do not find out they are pregnant for several weeks, or even months, pro-choice advocates are concerned about the difficulty a 15-week ban imposes on persons who would seek an abortion but do not discover their pregnancy in time. 

20-week bans have been proposed and judicially struck down in Arizona and Idaho, however there has been no challenge yet to Mississippi's current 20-week ban. It's likely the new bill, if made law, would be challenged in court. 

March 8, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, Politics, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ProMedica Toledo Hospital authorizes patient-transfer agreement with Toledo, Ohio's last abortion clinic

Toledo Blade (Feb. 12, 2018): ProMedica authorizes patient-transfer agreement with Toledo's last abortion clinic, by Mark Reiter and David Patch:

Following a 5-2 Ohio Supreme Court ruling issued on February 6th ordering the closure of Toledo, Ohio's last abortion clinic for violating state law, the future of the clinic and of abortion access in northwest Ohio looked all too grim...until this past Monday the 12th.

After hours of protesting near ProMedica Toledo Hospital on Monday to call on ProMedica to enter into a patient-transfer agreement that would keep Capital Care Network, Toledo’s last abortion clinic, open, the hospital system’s board of trustees authorized the agreement.

In its decision ordering Capital Care Network to close, the Ohio Supreme Court cited that the clinic's hospital transfer agreement with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor did not comply with the Ohio Department of Health's 30-minute transport time standard. The department had revoked Capital Care Network's license in 2014.

Following the enactment of a 2013 law requiring all abortion clinics in Ohio to maintain emergency patient-transfer agreements with local hospitals, Capital Care Network sued the state, arguing that the law presented an undue burden on abortion access in Ohio. While the lower courts sided with the clinic, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to tackle the state law's constitutional issues, instead finding that the state "had authority to revoke Capital Care's license based on the failure to comply with the administrative rule" promulgated by the Ohio Department of Health. Unless Capital Care Network could sign an agreement with a hospital within the 30-minute travel requirement, it would be forced to close.

Capital Care previously maintained an agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center until 2013, when the hospital opted not to renew it. The Ohio legislature then prohibited publicly funded universities from providing transfer agreements to abortion clinics.

In its statement announcing the new agreement with Capital Care, ProMedica spokesperson Tedra White wrote, “entering into this agreement aligns with ProMedica’s mission and values, including our focus on being a health system dedicated to the well-being of northwest Ohio and our belief that no one is beyond the reach of life-saving health care.” “Furthermore," she wrote, "we believe that all individuals should have access to the best care in their neighborhoods.”

Jennifer Branch, an attorney representing Capital Care, said that once she obtains a copy of the transfer agreement, she will file documents with the Ohio Department of Health to halt license-revocation proceedings against the clinic.

Ohio has endured a wave of new laws restricting access to abortion care across the state over the past few years. Under Governor John Kasich, the number of abortion clinics in Ohio has dropped from sixteen to eight. Three are in the Cleveland-Akron area, two in Columbus, and one each in Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati. For now, thanks to ProMedica, the number will stand at eight.

February 14, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, In the Courts, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Planned Parenthood Will Launch 10 New Video Chat Abortion Locations in 2018

Cosmopolitan (Feb. 6, 2018): Planned Parenthood Will Launch 10 New Video Chat Abortion Locations in 2018, by Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy: 

A safe, early-pregnancy abortion option has been making waves across the United States since Planned Parenthood began its telemedicine abortion pilot program in Iowa in 2008. 

Telemedicine abortions enable those seeking a pregnancy termination to meet with a nurse in a local clinic where both patient and nurse loop in an abortion-providing doctor via video chat. The doctor consults with the patient to determine that they are a good candidate for early pregnancy termination and then authorizes the nurse to dispense two small pills to the patient. The patient takes the first pill in the office in the presence of the nurse and doctor and then later takes the second pill at home. The pregnancy is terminated within a day or two. 

These medications have become known at "the abortion pill" and include both mifepristone and misoprostol, which work together first to block the hormones a woman's body needs to sustain a pregnancy and then to empty her uterus. The FDA-approved abortion pills are for ending pregnancies less than 10 weeks along. A study of Planned Parenthood's telemedicine pilot program found that access to telemedicine abortions decreased second-trimester abortions throughout the state. Second-term abortions require surgical procedures and can carry increased risks.

Although abortion is legal in all 50 states, many states have tightened their restrictions on abortion access, making it very difficult for a person facing an unwanted pregnancy to safely terminate it. Restrictions such as mandatory waiting periods and insurance limitations are compounded in states with very few clinics that can perform abortions. In fact, about 90% of counties in the U.S. do not have an abortion provider. 

Telemedicine allows a patient to meet with an abortion provider even if she doesn’t live near one. Instead of driving long distances, women can go to a closer clinic or Planned Parenthood and video-chat a live, somewhere-in-state abortion provider who prescribes and (virtually, via on-site clinic staff) hands over the meds. “There is no increased risk of complications with a telemedicine visit,” says Daniel Grossman, MD, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. He led a groundbreaking study published last fall that found telemedicine abortions are just as safe as those in which a woman swallows mifepristone in the same room as a physician.

While mifepristone has so far demonstrated a highly-safe success rate (its rates of complications are fewer than most common pain relievers), it cannot be obtained over-the-counter; instead a clinic, hospital, or doctor's office must dispense it.

Some states will allow a pregnant person to video chat with a doctor from her home and then receive both pills in the mail. Since 2008, though, 19 states have challenged the expansion of telemedicine abortions by passing laws that specifically require mifepristone to be dispensed "in the physical presence of the prescribing clinician."

Planned Parenthood continues to expand its telemedicine program despite the challenges. It has now established 24 telemedicine locations in the nation and plans to add at least 10 additional locations--some in new states--throughout this year. 

To find out if telemedicine abortion is available in your area, call the national Planned Parenthood hotline at 800-230-PLAN.

February 13, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Media, Medical News, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Pro-Choice Movement, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Millennials have a surprising view on later-term abortions

Washington Post (January 31, 2018): Millennials have a surprising view on later-term abortions, by Eugene Scott:

This past Monday, the United States Senate voted to block a proposed 20-week ban on abortion care approved by the House of Representatives. A Quinnipiac poll from January 2017, however, may reveal the unpopularity of later-term abortion with millennial voters. At the very least, Scott posits, the controversy around later-term abortion will continue into the next generation.

The poll found that 49 percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 would support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Only individuals aged 35 to 49 responded more favorably to a proposed ban. The survey found that 35 percent of millennials think abortion should be legal in all cases, while 9 percent of millennials think abortion should be illegal in all cases.

The Senate voted 51 to 46 on a procedural hurdle, falling short of the 60 votes needed. Democratic senators like Angus King (I-ME) explained that more than 99% of abortions in the United States take place before 20 weeks, and that the proposed ban is "a solution in search of a problem."

Young anti-choice activists hope that an opposition to later-term abortion care will resonate with a wide swath of young voters. Maria, Lebron, a 19-year old student at Catholic University, hopes to shift the anti-choice movement away from its religious and political affiliations to a movement that emphasizes standing for "the baby" and for "the mother." "It cannot only be focused on the unborn," Lebron says.

The culture battle over abortion isn't over, Scott argues, and 45 years after Roe v. Wade, millennials show little sign of resolving the issue.

February 3, 2018 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court

San Antonio Current (Nov. 2, 2017): Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court, by Alex Zielinski

The trial fighting Texas' latest anti-abortion law, Senate Bill 8, began last week. Whole Woman's Health sued Texas in July after the governor signed SB 8 into law.

SB 8 would completely prohibit dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures, require clinics to bury the remains of any abortion, and prohibit hospitals from donating aborted fetal tissue to medical research.

The current lawsuit, though, only challenges the ban on D&E abortions. Dilation and evacuation abortions are considered one of the safest procedures for abortions after 13 weeks. The ban does not allow for exceptions in the cases of rape or incest. The only alternatives to a D&E procedure for a woman seeking an abortion are either inducing labor and forcing delivery of the fetus or a surgery similar to a hysterectomy. Both options are risky and expensive. 

In August, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel temporarily blocked the law from going into effect on September 1. On November 2, the plaintiffs returned to Judge Yeakel's courtroom to request the bill's D&E ban be permanently blocked. 

Yeakel has thus far supported a woman's constitutionally-protected right to abortion, saying: "The state cannot pursue its interest in a way that denies a woman her constitutionally protected rights to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable." 

 

November 6, 2017 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)