Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Recent Abortion Bans Elevate Politics Over the Judgment and Expertise of Doctors

RH Reality Check (4/17): Laws Banning Abortion Procedure ‘Substituting Political Decisions for Medical Decisions’, by Teddy Wilson: 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill into law Monday that criminalizes a medical procedure used during second-trimester abortions and for miscarriage management.

That came weeks after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed similar legislation, and now reproductive rights advocates are raising serious concerns about the lasting implications of these new, radically anti-choice laws.

“With this law, Oklahoma has joined Kansas in an alarming trend toward substituting politicians’ agendas for the judgment and expertise of doctors, and then threatening those doctors with criminal charges if they disagree,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. . . . 

The Hill - Congress blog (4/17): Political attacks on abortion legislate bad medicine, by Vanessa Cullins, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.:  

The latest wave of state legislation to restrict abortion access is based on bad medicine and would prevent doctors from providing medical care based on their judgment of what’s best for each patient. . . .

It is unacceptable for politicians to force doctors, under penalty of law, to go against our training and expertise. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

10-Year-Old Paraguayan Girl, Raped by Stepfather, Is Denied an Abortion

Metro.co.uk: Pregnant girl, 10, ‘denied life-saving abortion after being raped by stepfather’, by Harry Readhead:

A 10-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather has allegedly been denied the abortion she desperately needs.

The child was found to be 21 weeks pregnant after arriving at hospital in Asunción, Paraguay, this month complaining of stomach pains.

Amnesty International reports that the girl’s pregnancy came as a result of being raped by her stepfather, but she has allegedly been denied a life-saving abortion and sent to a centre for young mothers instead. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion Bans, International, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Governor Brownback Reenacts Signing of Kansas Abortion Ban at Ceremonies Across State

ThinkProgress: In Bizarre Stunt, Governor Pretends To Sign Extreme Abortion Ban For Group Of Teenagers, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

Three weeks ago, Kansas became the first state in the country to ban a specific type of second-trimester abortion procedure, after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a so-called “dismemberment” ban in a closed-door ceremony. But Brownback isn’t stopping there.

According to a photo tweeted out by Brownback’s office, the governor was flanked by large photos of fetuses as he approved Senate Bill 95 at the beginning of April. A few days later, Oklahoma followed in Kansas’ footsteps and approved an identical measure. Perhaps seeking to solidify Kansas’ status as the first state to venture into this area, Brownback is now taking it a step further.

On Tuesday, the governor traveled to four different cities across Kansas to reenact the signing of SB 95 in public ceremonies that teenagers could attend. The events took place at a Catholic church education building and three Catholic high schools. . . .

April 30, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Kansas and Oklahoma Pass Bans on Safe and Common Method of Second-Trimester Abortion

U.S. News & World Report: Oklahoma Approves Ban on Second-Trimester Abortion Method, by Sean Murphy:

Oklahoma would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus under a measure that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Wednesday, a day after Kansas became the first state to prohibit the same procedure.

The Senate voted 37-4 for the bill, which now goes to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she has previously signed other anti-abortion measures. . . .

The New York Times: Kansas Limits Abortion Method, Opening a New Line of Attack, by Erik Eckholm & Frances Robles:

Kansas on Tuesday became the first state to sharply restrict or alter the most common technique used for second-trimester abortions, opening a new, emotionally charged line of attack by anti-abortion forces who hope to take it swiftly to other states. . . .

The New York Times (editorial): Kansas Tries to Stamp Out Abortion:

During the past four years, the state of Kansas has become ground zero in the war to criminalize all abortions, and in the process to remove a woman’s ability to control what happens in her own body.

Under Gov. Sam Brownback, a staunch foe of a woman’s right to choose, Kansas’s increasingly hard-line conservative lawmakershave enacted more than two dozen restrictions curtailing women’s reproductive freedom. . . .

On Tuesday the state went still further, becoming the first to ban the safest and by far the most common method of ending a second-trimester pregnancy, dilation and evacuation, which involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus, often in parts. (On Wednesday, a similar bill passed the Oklahoma Legislature, and awaits the governor’s signature. Bills are also pending in Missouri and South Carolina.) . . .

April 9, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ohio House Passes Ban on Abortions as Early as Six Weeks

The Blade: Ohio House votes across party lines for 'heartbeat' abortion bill, by Jim Provance:

The Ohio House today for the second time voted across party lines for a bill that would all but ban an abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectable, as early as six weeks. . . .

March 25, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kansas Legislature Passes Ban on Common Second-Trimester Abortion Procedure

The Wichita Eagle: Kansas lawmakers pass nation’s first ban on abortion procedure, by Brad Cooper:

The Kansas Legislature on Wednesday became the first in the country to pass a ban on a procedure often used in the second trimester of pregnancy. . . .

The Kansas House approved SB 95 on a 98-26 vote. The act now goes to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who has promised to sign it into law. . . .

While the bill targets a procedure, abortion-rights supporters believe it aims to limit second-trimester abortions with a long-term goal of banning all abortion.

The legislation isn’t “meant to correspond to medical reality,” said Caitlin Borgmann, a constitutional law professor at the City University of New York. . . .

March 25, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sinn Féin Drops Opposition to Abortion in Very Limited Cases

Sinn Féin drops opposition to abortion at Derry congress

The Guardian: Sinn Féin has dropped its historic opposition to abortion at its annual congress held in Derry, by Henry McDonald:

The party voted this weekend to support terminations in limited cases, such as pregnant women with fatal foetal abnormalities. This involves women whose babies will be born dead and who have to either go full term in Ireland or seek abortions across the Irish sea in Britain. . . .

March 8, 2015 in Abortion Bans, International, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

West Virginia Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto of 20-Week Ban

ThinkProgress: West Virginia Republicans Override Their Governor To Pass 20-Week Abortion Ban, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

On Friday, the West Virginia legislature voted to override their governor’s recent veto of a 20-week abortion ban, ensuring that the restriction will become law. Cloaked in the language of “fetal pain,” this particular policy continues to gain momentum; West Virginia will join the 10 other states that currently ban abortions after this point. . . .

March 8, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Scott Walker Now Supports 20-Week Abortion Ban

The Huffington Post: Scott Walker Pumps Up Anti-Abortion Cred By Backing 20-Week Ban, by Lydia O'Connor:

Days after coming under conservative fire for making vaguely pro-choice comments, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) released a letter reaffirming his anti-abortion bona fides and endorsing a ban on the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. . . .

The letter takes a much more vigorously conservative tone than Walker did on “Fox News Sunday” this past weekend. . . .

March 4, 2015 in 2016 Presidential Campaign, Abortion Bans, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

West Virginia Legislature Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban

MetroNews: Fetal pain abortion bill heads to Governor, by Hoppy Kercheval:

The state Senate Wednesday passed 29-5 legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks. The bill has already cleared the House and will next go to Governor Tomblin, who vetoed a similar bill last year. . . .

February 25, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Kansas Senate Passes Ban on Common Second-Trimester Abortion Procedure

PBS: Kansas may be the first state to ban common abortion procedure, by Marina Lopes:

Kansas’ state senate on Friday approved a bill banning an abortion procedure commonly used to terminate pregnancies in the second trimester, a victory for anti-abortion activists in what could become the United States’ first ban of this method.

The procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, involves dilating the woman’s cervix and using tools to remove the fetus and any remaining tissue from the uterus. Abortion rights activists say that the procedure, which is used in about 8 percent of abortions in Kansas, is the safest and cheapest option for women looking to terminate pregnancies in the second trimester. . . .

__________________________________

When the Supreme Court upheld the federal "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act" in Gonzales v. Carhart, the majority opinion emphasized that "[a]lternatives are available to the prohibited procedure. As we have noted, the Act does not proscribe [non-intact] D&E."  Justice Ginsburg, however, pointed out the disingenuousness of banning intact D&E on the grounds of its supposed relative gruesomeness.  She wrote in her powerful dissent:

As another reason for upholding the ban, the Court emphasizes that the Act does not proscribe the nonintact D&E procedure. But why not, one might ask. Nonintact D&E could equally be characterized as "brutal" . . . . "[T]he notion that either of these two equally gruesome procedures . . . is more akin to infanticide than the other, or that the State furthers any legitimate interest by banning one but not the other, is simply irrational."

As Justice Ginsburg recognized, allowing bans on abortion procedures because they are "gruesome" is a slippery slope with no clear end.  Kansas's proposed ban isn't about the gruesomeness of a particular procedure.  It's about banning abortions, period.

-CEB

February 22, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2015 Offers No Reprieve From Efforts to Restrict Abortion

ThinkProgress: The Massive Push To Restrict Abortion In 2015, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

On the heels of a record-breaking number of new abortion restrictions that have been enacted over the past four years, state lawmakers are continuing to push forward with a stringent anti-abortion agenda in 2015.

By last week, states had already introduced more than 100 bills intended to regulate access to abortion, according to researchers at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Lawmakers are working to restrict the procedure in more than half the states in the country . . . .

February 11, 2015 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

El Salvador Woman's 30-Year Sentence for Alleged Abortion Is Lifted

NPR: 30-Year Sentence Lifted For Woman In El Salvador Abortion Case, by Jason Beaubien:

Seven years ago, Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez Aldana went to jail in El Salvador. She was initially charged with abortion but prosecutors elevated the charge to aggravated homicide, arguing that the fetus was viable. Vasquez always contended that she did not have an abortion but had lost her unborn son due to medical complications late in the pregnancy.

On Wednesday, El Salvador's Legislative Assembly approved a recommendation by the country's high court that Vasquez be exonerated. That's a remarkable turn of events in a country with one of the strongest anti-abortion laws in the world. Even when the health of the mother is at risk, abortion is illegal. . . .

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

Did GOP Trade "Short-Term Pain" for "Long-Term Gain" by Foregoing Vote on Abortion Ban?

The Washington Post - The Fix (blog): How Republicans won by losing on an abortion vote, by Chris Cillizza:

For the last several years, congressional Republicans have pursued what can be described as a short-term gain, long-term pain strategy. That is, the GOP-led House has championed, passed or, just as often, not passed legislation that pleases its base and the group of three dozen or so of its members who stake out the furthest territory on the right of ideological spectrum. That's been a fine thing for those members, most of whom sit in districts in which the only threat of losing comes in a primary, but it has been far more problematic for the overall brand of the party as it tries to recapture the White House in 2016. Think immigration reform.

On Wednesday, House Republicans -- whether purposely or by accident -- reversed that strategy, choosing some short-term pain in exchange for at least the possibility of long-term gain. . . .

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

House GOP Leaders Drop Planned Vote on 20-Week Ban After Controversy Within Party

The Washington Post:  Abortion bill dropped amid concerns of female GOP lawmakers, by Ed O'Keefe:

House Republican leaders abruptly dropped plans late Wednesday to vote on an anti-abortion bill amid a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation's restrictive language would once again spoil the party's chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.

In recent days, as many as two dozen Republicans had raised concerns with the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Sponsors said that exceptions would be allowed for a woman who is raped, but she could only get the abortion after reporting the rape to law enforcement.

A vote had been scheduled for Thursday to coincide with the annual March for Life, a gathering that brings hundreds of thousands of anti-abortion activists to Washington to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. . . .

CNN: House GOP leaders cave on abortion bill, by Deirdre Walsh:

Mark it down as a rare win for House GOP moderates. After scrambling into the evening on Wednesday, House Republican leaders decided to scrap a vote on a controversial anti-abortion measure scheduled to coincide with an annual gathering of anti-abortion advocates on Thursday because they couldn't round up enough support. . . .

The "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," is a bill banning so called "late-term abortions" -- those involving procedures for women who are beyond 20 weeks into their pregnancy. Several House GOP women protested language in the bill that requires those women who seek an exception to the ban because they were raped have to back up their claim with a police report. A similar measure has passed the House in 2013, but this time some female members -- including some who voted for it last time -- are pushing for that requirement to be stripped out. . . .

__________________________________

This is what happens when opponents of abortion stray from a simplistic but consistent position that all abortion is murder.  They wade into a messy quagmire of exceptions -- which women "deserve" to have an abortion? -- a discussion that only serves to highlight that they do not, in fact, hold a consistent position that an embryo or fetus is a person.  (The discredited claim that a fetus can perceive pain at 20 weeks indeed was supposed to cement the fetus's status as a person and justify the ban in question.) I've written more about this in the following articles: The Meaning of 'Life': Belief and Reason in the Abortion Debate and  Roe v. Wade's 40th Anniversary: A Moment of Truth for the Anti-Abortion-Rights Movement?

-CEB

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

House Plans to Vote on 20-Week Abortion Ban on Roe Anniversary; Obama Threatens Veto

The Hill: Obama threatens to veto abortion bill, by Sarah Ferris:

The Obama administration on Tuesday threatened to veto the GOP-backed bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, calling it a “direct challenge” to a court-protected right for women.

The House is planning to vote on the bill Thursday, the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court abortion case, Roe v. Wade, and the same day that thousands of anti-abortion advocates will participate in the March for Life. . . .

January 20, 2015 in Abortion Bans, Congress, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Will 20-Week Abortion Ban Advance in the New Congress?

MSNBC: The GOP wants to take the abortion wars national again, by Irin Carmon:

The new Congress had barely blinked awake when Republicans got back to their usual business – an abortion ban.

The Hill reports that on Monday, the first day of the new session, Rep. Trent Franks and Rep. Marsha Blackburn reintroduced the tendentiously named “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” It bans abortion after 20 weeks on the medically-disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain at that point. . . .

January 8, 2015 in Abortion Bans, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Embryonic Personhood Ballot Measures Rejected in Colorado and North Dakota

The Huffington Post: Colorado And North Dakota Voters Reject Fetal Personhood Measures, by Laura Bassett:

Voters in Colorado rejected an anti-abortion ballot measure on Tuesday that would have granted personhood rights to developing fetuses from the moment of fertilization.

The ballot measure, known as Amendment 67, would have amended the state's criminal code to include fetuses in the category of "human" and "child." Supporters of the measure said it would have more harshly prosecuted someone who caused a pregnant woman to lose her baby in a situation like a drunk driving accident.

Opponents warned that it also would have criminalized women who have abortions, without exception for rape or incest.

Colorado voters rejected the amendment by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent -- the third time they have voted down a personhood measure in the past few years. . . .

Colorado voters on Tuesday did, however, elect to the Senate Republican Cory Gardner, who co-sponsored fetal personhood legislation in the House of Representatives.

North Dakota voters on Tuesday also rejected a personhood ballot measure by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. The measure would have amended the state constitution to say, "The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.'" . . .

November 4, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Fetal Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Embryonic Personhood Movement Hasn't Gone Away

ThinkProgress: North Dakota Is Quietly Preparing To Enact The Most Radical Abortion Measure In The Country, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

EmbryosIn less than two weeks, North Dakota voters will head to the polls and cast their ballots on a radical effort to overhaul the state’s constitutionand redefine legal personhood in a way that includes fertilized eggs. The latest polling indicates that Amendment 1 may have enough support to pass, making North Dakota the first state in the country to enact a radical “personhood” measure — something that abortion opponents have been attempting to do for four decades. But hardly anyone is talking about it. . . .

MSNBC:  This conservative cause is the GOP’s worst nightmare, by Irin Carmon:

There is one word that has defined the Colorado Senate race and it’s a word that Republican Rep. Cory Gardner and other GOP candidates across the country are tired of hearing. The word is “Personhood.”

For months, local reporters have been asking Gardner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, to explain his contradictory and opaque positions on a Colorado Personhood measure Gardner once supported and a federal bill he still does. Such measures would extend legal protection to fertilized eggs and are intended to ban all abortion as well as common in-vitro fertilization processes and some forms of birth control, including the IUD and emergency contraception. . . .

It was quiet that afternoon on the Personhood terrace, when Keith Mason openly admitted he doesn’t expect Amendment 67 to pass. Then he nodded towards Planned Parenthood and grinned: “We just cost them $4 million.”  . . .

October 23, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Congress, Fetal Rights, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Difficulty of Measuring the Effects of Abortion Restrictions

FiveThirtyEight: It’s Really Hard To Measure The Effects Of Abortion Restrictions In Texas, by Amelia Thomson Deveaux:

Last summer, after Wendy Davis had come and gone, the Texas legislature passed a package of abortion bills that has effectively forced most of the state’s clinics to close. The bills didn’t ban abortion outright, but instead placed new restrictions on abortion providers, such as a mandate for expensive structural changes (e.g. wider hallways and new ventilation systems) for clinics. Proponents said that more rigorous standards would protect women’s health, but obstetricians and pro-choice advocates warned that the law would serve a pro-life agenda, and that its consequences could radically alter options for women in the state. Left with only a handful of clinics in large cities at the center of Texas, women outside urban areas might take matters into their own hands and begin inducing abortions themselves. . . . 

August 30, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)