Wednesday, February 25, 2015
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. . . .
Sunday, February 22, 2015
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.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
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 . . . .
Thursday, January 22, 2015
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. . . .
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. . . .
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?
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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. . . .
Thursday, January 8, 2015
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. . . .
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
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.'" . . .
Thursday, October 23, 2014
ThinkProgress: North Dakota Is Quietly Preparing To Enact The Most Radical Abortion Measure In The Country, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
In 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.” . . .
Saturday, August 30, 2014
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. . . .
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Alba Ruibal (CONICET Argentina; European University Institute - Department of Law) has posted Reform and Backlash in Mexico's Abortion Law: Political and Legal Opportunities for Mobilization and Countermobilization on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The restrictive legal framework of abortion in Latin America has started to change during the past decade, as legislative reforms and high court decisions have liberalized, to different extents, the abortion laws in Colombia, Mexico City, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Feminist mobilization has been the crucial factor of change in this area of rights, and conservative religious actors have been the main opponents of reform. Political and legal factors contribute to understand the timing and outcomes of legal changes, as well as the capacity of movement and counter-movement to influence reform processes. Based on field work carried out in Mexico, this paper analyzes the main components of the legal and political opportunities that have been relevant in abortion legal reform in that country, which offer important points of reference for other Latin American cases. Drawing on social movement theory and legal studies literature, this paper highlights the importance of relatively stable components of political opportunities such as the type of institutional organization of federalism, which determines the location of abortion policy - and the possibilities of social movements to influence it, as well as of institutional arrangements and cultural understandings regarding the relationship between State and Church. Regarding more contingent political factors, the analysis of this case confirms that divisions among elites, and in particular post-electoral conflict, may create conditions for rights advocacy actors, whereas politicians’ search for legitimacy and short-term electoral incentives may favor counter-reformers, especially at the local level - where there may be greater Church’s influence and less accountability mechanisms. With regards to the legal opportunity, the paper highlights the role of the rules of access to courts and legal standing in constitutional review proceedings, as determinants of the types of actors and claims that reach the courts. The analysis of the Mexican case shows how constitutional courts, in their quest for institutional legitimacy, may expand the legal opportunity for the participation of social actors at judicial proceedings, when facing decisions that involve highly controversial issues and social conflicts. Finally, the paper shows how rules of opinion formation at courts may affect final judicial outcomes and the influence of social actors in them.
Friday, July 18, 2014
The Oregonian/AP: Idaho defends fetal-pain abortion law in federal court:
A federal judge's ruling striking down Idaho's law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy should be reversed because criminal charges against the eastern Idaho woman who filed the initial lawsuit had been dismissed, Idaho attorneys said. . . .
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Think Progress: South Carolina Law Makers Buck the Trend and Give up on Attacking Abortion Rights, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
As harsh abortion clinic restrictions spread across the South, threatening to leave a large swath of the country without access to reproductive health services, one state is bucking the trend. Lawmakers in South Carolina concluded their legislative session this week without passing measures to further restrict abortion rights. . . .
This year, the South Carolina legislature was considering two of the most popular pieces of legislation to limit access to abortion: a bill to criminalize the procedure after 20 weeks and a bill to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges form local hospitals. On top of that, some lawmakers were pushing extreme measures that could have defined life as beginning at conception. But none of those bills made it to the governor’s desk — giving women’s health groups cause for celebration. . . .
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The Washington Post - Post Politics blog: Sen. Walsh hits Daines on abortion in ad featuring woman who says she was raped, by Sean Sullivan:
Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) is taking to the airwaves Wednesday with a new TV ad in which a woman who says she was raped criticizes Rep. Steve Daines (R) for sponsoring a restrictive legislation on abortion. . . .
Daines's campaign declined to comment on the ad. The congressman is also going up with a deeply personal statewide spot featuring a woman. In the ad, Rebekah Uzenski of Bozeman details how her ex-husband would physically abuse her before she thanks Daines for supporting the Violence Against Women Act. . . .
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
TIME: North Dakota Pushes ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban to Higher Court, by Dan Kedmey:
More than 60 North Dakota lawmakers demanded a higher court revisit an overturned state law that would have banned abortions on fetuses with a detectable heartbeat
North Dakota’s Attorney General will appeal a court’s decision to strike down a state law banning the vast majority of abortions.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland overturned the ban last month, calling the law “invalid and unconstitutional.” It would make abortions illegal from the time the fetus develops a heartbeat, which can often be detected six weeks into a pregnancy. . . .
Sunday, May 11, 2014
Sen. Lindsey Graham Plans To Link Push for 20-Week Abortion Ban to Anniversary of Gosnell Conviction
Politico: Graham plans push on abortion bill, by Burgess Everett:
Senate Republicans, led by Lindsey Graham, are planning to ramp up their advocacy for an abortion bill around the high-profile anniversary of a former abortion provider’s murder conviction.
The South Carolina Republican is organizing a group of his colleagues to speak in support of a bill that would federally ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy, legislation that has the support of 41 Senate Republicans and has already passed the House. Graham is centering this legislative push on the May 13 anniversary of Kermit Gosnell’s conviction for killing infants that were born alive. . . .
Monday, April 28, 2014
CNN: Judge overturns North Dakota law banning most abortions, by Carma Hassan & Dana Ford:
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that North Dakota's abortion law, considered one of the most restrictive in the nation, is unconstitutional.
The law banned most abortions after six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be first detected. . . .
Sunday, April 6, 2014
ThinkProgress: A 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Who’s Pregnant With Twins Is Being Denied An Abortion In Senegal, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
A 10-year old Senegalese girl who became pregnant with twins after being raped by a neighbor is being forced to continue with her pregnancy, thanks to her country’s stringent restrictions on abortion. Human rights advocates have been trying to pressure the government to allow the girl to seek abortion care, but they’ve been unsuccessful so far. . . .
Fatou Kiné Camara, the president of the Senegalese women lawyers’ association, . . . explained that under Senegal’s current abortion law, which is one of the harshest among African nations, requires three doctors to certify that a woman will die immediately unless she ends her pregnancy. But poor women in the country are hardly ever able to visit a doctor, let alone three in quick succession. . . .
Th Guardian: Senegalese law bans raped 10-year-old from aborting twins, by Alex Duval Smith:
. . . "Senegal's abortion law is one of the harshest and deadliest in Africa. A doctor or pharmacist found guilty of having a role in a termination faces being struck off. A woman found guilty of abortion can be jailed for up to 10 years."
Forty women were held in custody in Senegal on charges linked to the crimes of abortion or infanticide in the first six months of last year, official figures show. According to estimates, hundreds of women die every year from botched illegal terminations. . . .
"We had a previous case of a raped nine-year-old who had to go through with her pregnancy. We paid for her caesarean but she died a few months after the baby was born, presumably because the physical trauma of childbirth was too great." . . .
Friday, April 4, 2014
A federal judge is set to hear arguments in a legal challenge to a North Dakota law that bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks into pregnancy. . . .