Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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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)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alba Ruibal on Mexico's Abortion Law

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.

August 26, 2014 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, International, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Idaho Asks Ninth Circuit To Reverse Ruling Invalidating 20-Week Abortion Ban

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. . . .

July 18, 2014 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

No Abortion Laws Passed in South Carolina in 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. . . .

June 11, 2014 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Campaign Ad for Sen. John Walsh Criticizes Opponent Rep. Steve Daines on Abortion Record

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. . . .

View the ads here and here.

May 21, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

North Dakota Appeals Federal District Court Ruling Overturning Early "Heartbeat" Abortion Ban

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. . . .

May 14, 2014 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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. . . .

May 11, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Congress | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Federal Judge Declares North Dakota's 6-Week Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

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. . . .

April 28, 2014 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Senegal Is Denying an Abortion to a 10-Year-Old Rape Victim

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." . . .

April 6, 2014 in Abortion Bans, International, Poverty, Sexual Assault, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Federal Court Hears Arguments Today on North Dakota's Early Abortion Ban

ABC News:  Federal Judge Hears Arguments in ND Abortion Case:

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. . . .

April 4, 2014 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

West Virginia Governor Tomblin Vetoes 20-Week Abortion Ban

ACLU press release: Governor Tomblin Vetoes West Virginia Abortion Ban:

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill today that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. This bill, similar to one a federal appeals court struck down in Arizona last year, would have denied women basic health care.

“The governor rightly saw this bill as a blatantly unconstitutional restriction on women’s health,” said Sara Bird, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia. “Every pregnancy is different, and we can’t know all of the circumstances a woman is facing. A woman who is planning for a child but develops complications doesn’t need politicians interfering with her decision, nor does any other woman.”

Earlier this year, thousands of West Virginians took action by sending letters, making phone calls, and signing petitions to let their legislators know they want politicians to stay out of women’s health care.

“This law would have taken away a woman’s ability to make a deeply personal and private decision for herself and her family,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Politicians have no place in matters that are best left to a woman, her family and her doctor.”

March 28, 2014 in Abortion Bans, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Federal Judge Strikes Down Arkansas 12-Week Abortion Ban

Reuters: Federal judge strikes down Arkansas early abortion ban, by Steve Barnes:

A federal judge on Friday struck down an Arkansas law that would ban most abortions starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy, one of the most restrictive such statutes enacted in the United States, declaring the measure unconstitutional. . . .

March 15, 2014 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thousands of Spaniards Protest Proposed Abortion Ban

The Independent: Spaniards take to the streets in protest over new abortion laws, by Alasdair Fotheringham:

Thousands of protesters marched through central Madrid and other major cities in Spain yesterday in the latest wave of demonstrations against controversial proposed reforms of the country's abortion laws.

Yesterday's International Women's Day gave fresh impetus to the protests against changes to abortion laws. Some 80 per cent of Spaniards are opposed to any changes to abortion laws, according to polls. . . .

March 9, 2014 in Abortion Bans, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Alabama House Passes 4 Abortion Measures, Including 6-week Abortion Ban

Incredibly, the 6-week ban passed the house 73-29:

WSFA:  Alabama House passes 4 abortion bills:

Four abortion bills are headed to the Alabama Senate after being approved by the Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday.

House representatives voted to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Both sides of the abortion debate agree the proposal could end up banning most abortions. . . .

March 4, 2014 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Alabama Lawmaker Defends Her Anti-Choice Efforts with Comparison to Civil Rights Movement

ThinkProgress: Meet The Lawmaker Who’s Trying To End Abortion In Alabama, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

On Tuesday, a panel of Alabama lawmakers advanced four stringent anti-abortion bills that would prevent women in the state from exercising their reproductive rights. The proposed legislation would ban abortions after just six weeks; force women to wait 48 hours before getting an abortion; make it more difficult for minors to end an unwanted pregnancy; and impose more emotional trauma on women who choose to have an abortion after discovering lethal fetal abnormalities. . . .

State officials are already warning that the heartbeat bill will provoke an immediate legal challenge. But the lawmaker who proposed the six-week abortion ban, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), is unperturbed. “I’m not really concerned about the challenges. We’ve had challenges before. We wouldn’t have some of the things we have now if it hadn’t been for Brown versus Board of Education,” McClurkin told a local ABC News affiliate, referring to the landmark court ruling that desegregated schools. . . .

February 27, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Faundes et al. on Brazilians' Views on Abortion Legality

Anibel Faundes, et al., have posted Brazilians Have Different Views on When Abortion Should Be Legal, But Most Do Not Agree with Imprisoning Women for Abortion on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Unsafe abortions remain a major public health problem in countries with very restrictive abortion laws. In Brazil, parliamentarians − who have the power to change the law − are influenced by “public opinion”, often obtained through surveys and opinion polls. This paper presents the findings from two studies. One was carried out in February–December 2010 among 1,660 public servants and the other in February–July 2011 with 874 medical students from three medical schools, both in São Paulo State, Brazil. Both groups of respondents were asked two sets of questions to obtain their opinion about abortion: 1) under which circumstances abortion should be permitted by law, and 2) whether or not women in general and women they knew who had had an abortion should be punished with prison, as Brazilian law mandates. The differences in their answers were enormous: the majority of respondents were against putting women who have had abortions in prison. Almost 60% of civil servants and 25% of medical students knew at least one woman who had had an illegal abortion; 85% of medical students and 83% of civil servants thought this person(s) should not be jailed. Brazilian parliamentarians who are currently reviewing a reform in the Penal Code need to have this information urgently. . . .

February 26, 2014 in Abortion Bans, International, Public Opinion, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

South Dakota House Passes Sex Selection Abortion Ban

MSNBC.com: Gender-based abortion ban gets green light, by Traci G. Lee:

The South Dakota House approved a bill last week that would make gender-based abortions illegal in response to concerns that families around the world value males over females.

House Bill 1162 would “prohibit the practice of sex-selective abortions” in South Dakota, adding further restrictions to the state’s restrictive abortion laws. As Mother Jones reported Tuesday, HB 1162 passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 60 to 10, paving the way for South Dakota to become the eighth state in the country to ban sex-selective abortions. . . .

February 26, 2014 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

West Virginia House Passes 20-Week Abortion Ban

The Charleston Gazette: House passes 20-week abortion ban, by Phil Kabler:

Legislation that would make it a felony to perform abortions on fetuses after 20 weeks' gestation passed an emotionally charged House of Delegates late Tuesday evening on a 79-17 vote. . . .

February 26, 2014 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)