May 22, 2013
Ninth Circuit Panel Strikes Down Arizona's 20-Week Abortion Ban, But Trent Franks is Undeterred
The Ninth Circuit rules Arizona's 20-week "fetal pain" abortion ban clearly unconstitutional...
The New York Times: Arizona Law on Abortions Struck Down as Restrictive, by Fernanda Santos:
A federal appellate panel struck down Arizona’s abortion law on Tuesday, saying it was unconstitutional “under a long line of invariant Supreme Court precedents” that guarantee a woman’s right to end a pregnancy any time before a fetus is deemed viable outside her womb — generally at 24 weeks.
The law, enacted in April 2012 despite vociferous protest by women’s and civil rights groups, made abortions illegal if performed 20 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period, or roughly 18 weeks after fertilization, even if the woman learned that the fetus had no chance of surviving after birth. . . .
...but Arizona's Rep. Trent Franks vows to push for a similar ban in Congress:
The Huffington Post: Trent Franks Uses Kermit Gosnell Case To Push 20-Week Abortion Bill, by Laura Bassett:
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told reporters on Wednesday that there is a "good chance" House leadership will bring his nationwide 20-week abortion ban to the floor this year for a full vote in light of the Kermit Gosnell trial.
While Franks' bill, which only applied to the District of Columbia the previous times he introduced it, has never been brought to the floor for a vote, he said the Gosnell trial has caused leadership to take it more seriously this year. . . .
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a similar bill in Arizona on Tuesday, declaring it unconstitutional. But Franks said he doesn't trust or respect the Ninth Circuit. . . .
The opinion is available here.
May 20, 2013
Federal Judge Temporarily Enjoins Arkansas' 12-Week Abortion Ban
The New York Times: Abortion Law in Arkansas Is Blocked by U.S. Judge, by Erik Eckholm:
A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked enforcement of one of the country’s most stringent abortion laws, an Arkansas ban on the procedure at the 12th week of pregnancy, saying the law was likely to be declared unconstitutional. . . .
May 13, 2013
Boston Cardinal Refuses to Attend Boston College Graduation in Protest Over Honorary Degree for Ireland Prime Minister
Prime Minister Kenny is supporting a life exception to Ireland's complete ban on abortions after a woman died when she was denied a life-saving abortion. But that's apparently going too far for Cardinal O'Malley.
The Washington Post - On Faith blog: Boston cardinal withdraws from Boston College graduation after abortion controversy:
QUOTE OF THE DAY | Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley:
. . . Recently I learned that the Prime Minister of Ireland, the Hon. Mr. Enda Kenny was slated to receive an honorary degree at Boston College’s graduation this year. I am sure that the invitation was made in good faith, long before it came to the attention of the leadership of Boston College that Mr. Kenny is aggressively promoting abortion legislation. The Irish Bishops have responded to that development by affirming the Church’s teaching that “the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong” and expressed serious concern that the proposed legislation “represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law.”
Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation. . . .
May 06, 2013
El Salvadoran Woman Petitions for Right to Life-Saving Abortion
Feministing: We already lost Savita in Ireland. Don't let Beatriz die in El Salvador., by Juliana Britto Schwartz:
You all remember Savita Halappanavar, right? Well, the world is looking at another Savita right now, and the only thing standing between her and life is a group of Salvadoran politicians.
Savita Halappanavar was a pregnant woman living in Ireland who was denied a life-saving abortion because her doctors could still detect a fetal heartbeat and were therefore required by law not to terminate the pregnancy. She died of blood poisoning while her husband watched.
“Beatriz” is 22 years old, 18 weeks pregnant with an anencephalic fetus (meaning that the fetus will not survive outside of the womb), and suffering life-threatening pregnancy complications. However, Beatriz lives in El Salvador, one of the rare countries in which abortion is illegal under all circumstances, including threat to the mother’s life. . . .
May 01, 2013
Irish Government Proposes Measure to Allow Life-Saving Abortions
The New York Times: Irish Proposal Would Allow Abortions in Emergencies, by Douglas Dalby:
The Irish government proposed legislation late Tuesday night that, if approved as expected, would allow abortions in cases where a threat existed to a woman’s life, including from suicide. . . .
CNN: Ireland's government puts forward draft abortion bill, by Laura Smith-Spark & Peter Taggart:
Proposed new legislation won't change Ireland's general ban on abortion, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Wednesday, but is about "saving lives" when pregnant women are in danger.
Ireland's government published the controversial draft measure late Tuesday to clarify what happens when there's a threat to the mother's life, including a risk of suicide. . . .
April 24, 2013
Judge Announces He Will Permanently Enjoin North Dakota Medication Abortion Ban
RH Reality Check: Judge To Permanently Block North Dakota Abortion Ban, by Jessica Mason Pielko:
Women in North Dakota got good news Thursday when District Court Judge Wickham Corwin announced at the conclusion of a three-day trial over the constitutionality of North Dakota’s medication abortion ban that he plans to issue a ruling permanently blocking the state’s onerous restrictions on medication abortion as unconstitutional. . . .
Kansas Governor Scrawls "JESUS + Mary" On Sweeping Anti-Choice Bill As He Signs It Into Law
Feministing: Kansas Gov signs massive anti-choice law, writes "JESUS + Mary" in notes, by Maya Dusenbery:
Last Friday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a sweeping anti-choice [bill] into law. Among other things, the bill requires doctors to lie and tell patients that abortion is linked to breast cancer, and defines life as beginning at conception in the state constitution.
Before the signing ceremony, Gov. Brownback added a few hand-written notes to his remarks. According to a photo snapped by the AP, the words “JESUS + Mary” are scrawled front and center across the top. . . .
The text of the law is available here.
April 17, 2013
North Dakota Governor Signs 20-Week Abortion Ban
ACLU press release: North Dakota Governor Signs Another Law Restricting Access to Abortion:
BISMARCK, N.D. – The governor of North Dakota yesterday signed a bill that would ban abortions beginning at 20 weeks of pregnancy. This follows on the heels of the state passing other extreme measures, including a law that already bans most abortions in the state.
“While North Dakota leads the pack of states seeking to outlaw abortion, extreme politicians around the country are trying to catch up,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Now is the time to tell our elected officials enough is enough. Politicians must stop interfering in personal and private decisions that should be made by a woman and her family.”
The bill is SB2368 and the text is available here. Of course, North Dakota has also passed a much earlier ban that prohibits abortions starting around six weeks of pregnancy. That ban is certain to be struck down. This latest ban, too, is unconstitutional because it prohibits some abortions before fetal viability.
April 16, 2013
Arkansas 12-Week Abortion Ban Challenged in Federal Court
The New York Times: Suit Seeks to Block Arkansas Abortion Law, by Erik Eckholm:
Supporters of abortion rights on Tuesday filed a challenge to the new Arkansas law banning most abortions at the 12th week of pregnancy, calling it a “violation of over 40 years of settled United States Supreme Court precedent” and a threat to “the rights, liberty and well-being of Arkansas women and their families.” . . .
April 12, 2013
College Students Can Glean Lessons from State Activity on Abortion
USA Today: Lessons for students from recent abortion cases, by Rebecca Wickel:
5 lessons that college students can takeaway from recent, high profile abortion cases: Know your representatives, read the fine print, go off campus, take a stand and stay informed.
New laws enacted in Arkansas and North Dakota represent some of the country's most extreme legislation against abortion. Now, both states will go head-to-head in court with abortion-rights advocates who insist the bills violate the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
The debate and the controversy surrounding it have many consequences in both Arkansas and North Dakota, yet they can teach college students anywhere how to get involved, take a stance and become educated.
Husband of Indian Woman Who Died After Being Denied an Abortion in Ireland Comments on InquestThe Guardian: Praveen Halappanavar: abortion inquest is tough but I feel vindicated, by Henry McDonald:
Husband of Indian dentist who died after being refused an abortion says he looks forward to 'bright days ahead'
After a week listening to often harrowing testimony about how his wife pleaded with doctors for an emergency abortion, Praveen Halappanavar has said the inquest into her death has vindicated his version of events surrounding her final moments last autumn. . . .
April 04, 2013
Constant Litigation Over Abortion Restrictions Does Harm Even When The Measures Are Blocked
The New Republic: Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Laws Are Dangerous Even If Judges Reject Them, by Molly Redden:
On March 6, the Arkansas legislature enacted the toughest abortion law in the nation, banning the procedure after 12 weeks of pregnancy. The accomplishment stood for all of 20 days before North Dakota, with a law Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed on Tuesday, banned abortion at about six weeks. Both laws prohibit abortions once providers can detect a fetal heartbeat, a milestone with no meaning to the federal laws governing abortion. (The Arkansas law requires providers to do so with an abdominal ultrasound, and the North Dakota one by any technology available, including a transvaginal probe, which can detect a heartbeat weeks earlier than an abdominal ultrasound.) The North Dakota law, by requiring that providers try to detect a heartbeat so early, effectively bans abortions for women who might not even realize they are pregnant. In practice, it might make transvaginal ultrasounds mandatory for women seeking abortions early in their pregnancies.1 But the effects of these laws are not intended to be felt only by women living in Arkansas and North Dakota. The people who support these laws dream that they will provide a legal basis for overturning Roe v. Wade. . . .
North Dakota's Sole Abortion Clinic Vows to Stay Open
The Washington Post - WonkBlog: North Dakota's only abortion clinic isn't going anywhere, by Sarah Kliff:
Tammi Kromenaker directs the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion clinic in North Dakota. With three full-time staffers, it serves women in North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of Minnesota. The clinic, in Fargo, N.D., has been open for 15 years now, since 1998. . . .
April 03, 2013
North Dakota Legislature Shifts Focus from Banning Abortion to Blocking Sex Ed
Healthwatch: North Dakota lawmakers push new attack on Planned Parenthood, by Sam Baker:
Planned Parenthood is fighting to save a sex-education program in North Dakota that is under attack just as the state has passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country.
The North Dakota Legislature is considering a measure that would likely cut off state funding for a comprehensive sex-ed program supported by Planned Parenthood and North Dakota State University.
"This is incredibly unusual. No state has tried to block a comprehensive sex education program like this, ever," Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, told reporters Monday. . . .
March 28, 2013
A Map of Abortion Bans in the U.S.
This is an eye-opening visual:
The Washington Post - WonkBlog: The landscape of abortion bans, in one must-see map, by Sarah Kliff:
What a difference three years makes.
In 2010, Nebraska passed the country’s most restrictive abortion law that barred abortions after 20 weeks. By March 2013, 12 states have done so — or passed restrictions even earlier in the pregnancy, like North Dakota’s six-week ban.
These are the states you see in orange, in this graphic below, which uses data from the Guttmacher Institute to map all the laws that ban later-term abortion in the United States. . . .
Will the New Abortion Bans End up in the Supreme Court?
MSNBC - Andrea Mitchell Reports: New bans could send abortion back to Supreme Court:
With all of the experimentation going on in the state legislatures, it's quite possible that one of these measures will end up in the Supreme Court. I doubt, however, that it will be North Dakota's six-week ban, as I explained on MSNBC's Martin Bashir show yesterday:
March 26, 2013
North Dakota Governor Signs Strict Abortion Laws, Including Earliest Ban in the U.S.
The New York Times: North Dakota Governor Signs Strict Abortion Law, by John Eligon & Erik Eckholm:
Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota approved the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions on Tuesday, signing into law a measure that would ban most abortions and inviting a legal showdown over just how much states can limit access to the procedure. . . .
“There are two clashing forces in the anti-abortion movement now,” said Caitlin Borgmann, a law professor and abortion-rights advocate at City University of New York. “The incrementalists are chipping away at Roe and the others are getting impatient.”
With passage of heartbeat laws in Arkansas and North Dakota, “this extreme wing of the movement has definitely gained momentum,” Ms. Borgmann said. “But it can only go so far because they can’t win in the courts.” . . .
March 25, 2013
Embryonic Personhood Measure will Appear on North Dakota Ballot
The New York Times: North Dakota to Put End to Abortions on the Ballot, by John Eligon:
North Dakota lawmakers passed a resolution on Friday to allow the public to decide whether the State Constitution should assert that life begins at conception, a move that would essentially ban all abortions in the state. . . .
Bills on North Dakota Governor's Desk Would Bar Abortions for Grave Fetal Anomalies
TIME - Family Matters: Pro-Choice or No Choice? North Dakota Wants to Ban Abortion for Fetal Abnormalities, by Bonnie Rochman:
Testing for fetal abnormalities can alert expectant parents to potential health problems to come. And it’s the parents who should decide on how to act on those results, right?
Not necessarily. In North Dakota, the governor is considering signing two anti-abortion bills that would be among the most restrictive in the nation. . . .
More Fretting About Roe v. Wade as Supreme Court Addresses Marriage Equality
Below, another article that assumes that Roe v. Wade nipped inevitable state reform in the bud and fueled the anti-choice movement. As mentioned in Friday's post, it's far from clear that this is true. Reform had largely stopped by 1973, and those few reform laws that were enacted were not even as protective as the Roe decision. (New York's pre-Roe reform law, for example, is still on the books, and it bars all but life-saving abortions after 24 weeks, regardless of viability and with no health exception. This is one of the reasons why the Reproductive Health Act, championed by Governor Cuomo, is needed.) And there are surely many conservative states -- including those now passing early abortion bans, like Arkansas and North Dakota -- that would never have liberalized their laws. When a right is fundamental, it's the Supreme Court's job to ensure that it is protected nationwide and is not subject to the state in which a person resides.
The New York Times: Shadow of Roe v. Wade Looms Over Ruling on Gay Marriage, by Adam Liptak:
When the Supreme Court hears a pair of cases on same-sex marriage on Tuesday and Wednesday, the justices will be working in the shadow of a 40-year-old decision on another subject entirely: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. . . .
See also: The Los Angeles Times - LA Now: As Supreme Court considers gay marriage, abortion comparisons rise, by Robin Abcarian.