Monday, April 18, 2016
Startribune (April 12, 2016): APNewsBreak: North Dakota to pay abortion clinic $245k, by James McPherson:
Last week, North Dakota agreed to pay the attorneys fees of the state's sole abortion clinic following the clinic's successful challenge of a 2013 law prohibiting abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law would have banned abortions as early as six weeks and clearly violated existing constitutional protections for abortions.
After it passed, the law was almost immediately enjoined by a federal district court. And, in July 2015, the Eighth Circuit, agreed with the district court's conclusion that the law was unconstitutional because it prohibited abortions pre-viability. In January, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Because lawyers who successfully represent a plaintiff asserting a violation of constitutional rights are entitled to attorneys fees, North Dakota agreed to pay a settlement of $245,000. In addition, records obtained by AP indicate that through January, the state had spent over $320,000 to defend its abortion laws, most of which was spent on the fetal heartbeat law.
Janet Crepps, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights [which represented the clinic], said she hoped the settlement would send a message to North Dakota and other states. "From the beginning, the state recognized it was embarking on an expensive lawsuit, defending a clearly unconstitutional law," Crepps said. "It has cost the state a good bit of money," Crepps said. "A measure could have been passed to help the people of North Dakota."
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Independent (April 12, 2016): The UK's abortion shame: Northern Ireland urged to stop prosecuting women under abortion ban, by Sioban Fenton:
Northern Ireland is under pressure for recent criminal prosecutions of women for abortions. Earlier this month, a 21 year old woman pled guilty to procuring her own abortion and received a three month suspended sentence. She became pregnant at age 19 and could not raise the money to to travel to England to have a legal abortion. Instead, she purchased medication over the internet to self-induce an abortion. She was reported to authorities by her housemates.
A second woman is due to stand trial in Belfast on April 27 for helping her daughter access pills to induce an abortion. Local media has reported the prosecutors are considering bringing two additional cases for illegal abortions.
Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the UK's 1967 Abortion Act, does not apply there. Instead an 1861 act criminalizing abortion remains in effect, and abortions are only legal if a woman's life or mental health is in danger. As a result, many women travel to England for abortions if they can afford the travel costs.
The UK has been criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee which has recommended that Northern Ireland's abortion law be amended. Leading MPs also have criticized the prosecutions and advocate ending the criminalization of women. MP Liz Kendall stated:
We must end the criminalisation of women in Northern Ireland who, often in desperate circumstances, decide to terminate their pregnancy. Currently, women wishing to terminate a pregnancy are either forced to travel to other parts of the UK, or, if they don’t have the money, attempt an abortion themselves, putting their safety at risk. That is no choice. Women in Northern Ireland should have access to safe abortions, in hospitals or clinics, like women in the rest of the UK.
In an effort to highlight the inequality of Northern Ireland's current law, Claire Bailey, Deputy leader of the Green party has said she is considering proposing legislation that would allow the prosecution of men under a new criminal offense of "reckless conception."
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Social Europe (Apr. 6, 2016): The Polish Church and Government Open New Attack on Women's Reproductive Rights, by Gavin Rae:
In Poland, which has one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in Europe, Catholic officials are urging more restrictive regulation. Currently, abortion is available in only three instances: (1) there is a high probability that the fetus will suffer severe and irreversible damage or have an incurable life-threatening disease; (2) continuing a pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health; or (3) the pregnancy is the result of a criminal act. As in other countries with restrictions on abortion, wealthy women travel to other countries to terminate their pregnancies, and poor women resort to unsafe, backstreet procedures. The new law is an attempt to end nearly all abortion in Poland by limiting it to cases where the pregnant woman's life is directly threatened by continuing the pregnancy. The proposal also increases the jail time for those who perform abortions from two to five years and imposes penalties on anyone who disseminates information about abortion options abroad.
The Catholic church is prominent in the push for the new law. The ruling party leaders are staunch Catholics who received influential church backing in the last elections. They are determined to use their power to enshrine Catholic doctrine in national policy. The move is a reflection of a regime that is becoming increasingly authoritarian.
Friday, April 8, 2016
New York Times (Apr. 8, 2016): "Periods for Pence" Campaign Targets Indiana Governor over Abortion Law, by Mitch Smith:
Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana's draconian abortion bill into law on March 24th. Now, a campaign to call attention to the unbelievably restrictive law has emerged on Facebook. In an unusual strategy, the campaign, Periods for Pence, features a call for women to contact the governor's office "to report our periods." The campaign is meant to call specific attention to the requirement that miscarried fetuses be interred or cremated.
“I would certainly hate for any of my fellow Hoosier women to be at risk of penalty if they do not ‘properly dispose’ of this or report it,” one post says. “Just to cover our bases, perhaps we should make sure to contact Governor Pence’s office to report our periods.”
As of 3:00 p.m. Friday, Periods for Pence has more than 41,000 likes.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
BBC (March 18, 2016): Chile Lawmakers lift abortion ban introduced by Pinochet:
Last week, Chile's lower house of Congress approved a bill that would decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, health risk to the mother, and instances where the fetus is not viable. The bill, which is supported by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, needs to pass the Senate to become law. Chile is one of seven Latin American countries that ban abortions in all circumstances. The other countries are El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Surinam.
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
New York Times (Mar. 5, 2016): The Return of the D.I.Y. Abortion, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz:
The recent surge in state-level anti-abortion legislation, such as the Texas TRAP law at issue in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, has led to the closure of many abortion providers across the country. While the impact of such laws on access to safe abortions is clear, the response of pregnant women is less so due to the silencing stigma surrounding the procedure.
Google searches can help us understand what’s really going on. They show a hidden demand for self-induced abortion reminiscent of the era before Roe v. Wade.
This demand is concentrated in areas where it is most difficult to get an abortion, and it has closely tracked the recent state-level crackdowns on abortion.
While only 34% of people involved in an abortion – that is, people who have had an abortion or their partners – tell anyone about the procedure, Google searches offer a window into the decision behind an abortion.
Search rates for self-induced abortion were fairly steady from 2004 through 2007. They began to rise in late 2008, coinciding with the financial crisis and the recession that followed. They took a big leap in 2011, jumping 40 percent. The Guttmacher Institute singles out 2011 as the beginning of the country’s recent crackdown on abortion; 92 provisions that restrict access to abortion were enacted. There was not a comparable increase in searches for self-induced abortions in Canada, which has not cracked down.
These statistics do not reveal the true trends in self-induced abortions across the country, but they certainly indicate a disturbing increase in demand in states where abortion services have become all-but impossible to obtain.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Mother Jones (Jan. 22, 2016): How Roe v. Wade Survived 43 Years of Abortion Wars, by Hannah Levintova:
Mother Jones has been on the front lines throughout the abortion wars with its up-close-and-personal profiles of women making difficult, personal reproductive choices and clinic staff dedicated to helping them. In this chronicle of its coverage, MJ traces the current spate of legislative rollbacks of Roe v. Wade to the unveiling of the "undue burden" standard in the 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey and the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Perhaps most poignant is the following insight: In contrast to what Roe v. Wade accomplished back in 1973--stopping deaths from botched abortions "overnight"-- today "discussions of women's safety are more often heard in statehouses enacting further restrictions on abortion." There have been more anti-abortion laws passed since 2010 than in any other five-year period since Roe was decided.
Friday, December 18, 2015
New York Times (Dec. 17, 2015): Judge Leaves Northern Ireland's Abortion Law to Lawmakers:
A Belfast judge declined to modify Northern Ireland's strict abortion laws on Wednesday, saying that only lawmakers had the authority to bring the current legislation in line with European human rights laws.
Judge Mark Horner of the Northern Ireland High Court said that ordering changes to allow abortions in the case of a fatal fetal abnormality, rape or incest to conform with the European Convention of Human Rights Act of 2003 would be “a step too far.”
His decision, which reinforces a previous ruling he made last month, puts the responsibility firmly on the local assembly to resolve the matter, though it does not compel lawmakers to do so.
Unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, the 1967 Abortion Act does not apply to Northern Ireland, where abortion is illegal other than in cases where the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.
Under the 1861 Offenses Against The Person Act, a person convicted of performing an illegal termination faces a sentence of life in prison.
The government is expected to appeal the initial ruling.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
Dorf on Law (Nov. 10, 2015): Measuring the Chilling Effects of Late-Term Abortion Limits, by Michael Dorf:
Here is the abstract for the paper:
Supreme Court doctrine grants special protection against laws that “chill” protected speech, most prominently via the overbreadth doctrine. The overbreadth doctrine permits persons whose own speech is unprotected to challenge laws that infringe the protected speech of third parties. The Court has not generally applied overbreadth and the other speech-protective doctrines to other constitutional rights even though other rights could also be subject to a chilling effect. The case law simply assumes that the chilling effect only acts on the exercise of speech, and that this justifies treating speech differently from other rights. We tested these assumptions with respect to abortion rights. By comparing abortion rates with state laws over a two-decade-plus period, we found a statistically significant correlation between laws forbidding late-term abortions and the reduction of not only late-term but also “near-late-term” abortions, i.e., abortions in the roughly one month before the period in which abortions are forbidden. That effect persists even after controlling for potentially confounding variables, such as the number of abortion providers and pro-life public opinion. Moreover, the effect is not limited to the year of enactment or associated with failed policy initiatives, suggesting that the impact is due to the law itself rather than associated publicity. These findings are consistent with, and strongly suggestive of, a chilling effect on abortion providers and/or women seeking abortions. This result undermines the implicit assumption that the chilling effect is unique to laws regulating speech and vindicates the general proposition that laws can chill the exercise of constitutional rights beyond their literal coverage.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Scotus Blog (Oct. 9, 2015): Relist Watch OT2015Edition, by John Elwood:
Currier v. Jackson Women's Health Clinic was one of several cases relisted by the court last week, but a conference has yet to be scheduled.
A challenge to a similar Texas law arrived at the Court in June. The Court issued a stay in that case, Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, 15-274, by a five-to-four vote. The Court likely rescheduled Currier to allow Whole Women’s Health, which is still being briefed, to “catch up.” Since a stay requires a showing of a “reasonable probability” of a cert. grant and a “fair prospect” that a majority of the Court will conclude that the decision below was erroneous, there is a good chance we’ll see a grant of at least one of these cases once all the briefing is in.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Daily Camera: Battle for Women's Reproductive Rights Goes on Every Day, by K.C. Becker:
State legislatures across the country have become popular battlegrounds for limiting reproductive freedom for women. Anti-choice activists have been launching well-coordinated assaults in state after state by churning out bills designed to indirectly limit or eliminate a woman's legal right to get an abortion. These new laws shut down clinics by putting new requirements and restrictions on the clinics, doctors, or patients.
Becker predicts that some of these restrictions will eventually be declared unconstitutional. "But rest assured" she warns, "that they will be coming back, across the country, with new variations on an old theme." Becker reminds us that the battle did not end with Roe v. Wade.
Friday, May 8, 2015
The Daily Beast: Chile’s Shocking DIY Abortion Ad Campaign, by Nina Strochlic:
“It’s important that you find a long and steep set of stairs,” a young, brunette woman says in Spanish to a hand-held camera. She walks up steps of an anonymous building. “Make sure there’s no security cameras, so no one can see you.” . . .
“In Chile an accidental abortion is the only kind of abortion that is not considered a crime,” the video displays in bold type. The satirical videos are part of a campaign launched last month called Abortion Tutorials. It was conceived for theMiles Organization, a reproductive rights NGO, by advertising agency Grey Chile. The groups are hoping the Chilean government will be shamed into reforming what is the strictest abortion law in the world. . . .
TIME: How a New Study on Premature Babies Could Influence the Abortion Debate, by Eliza Gray:
A new study showing that a tiny percentage of extremely premature babies born at 22 weeks can survive with extensive medical intervention could change the national conversation about abortion, though the research is unlikely to have a major effect on women’s access to abortions in the short term.
Pro-life advocates said the study—which was published by theNew England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday and found that 3.5% percent of 357 infants born at 22 weeks could survive without severe health problems if hospitals treated them—could benefit the pro-life movement by sparking discussion about the viability of premature babies. . . .
This article correctly points out that the study in no way contradicts or forces reconsideration of Supreme Court precedent governing pre- and post-viability abortions. Unlike what some articles suggest, the Supreme Court has never set viability at a specific point in pregnancy (even in Roe), but rather has left the determination of viability to the provider to determine based on the individual facts surrounding each pregnancy. Viability depends on many factors, including the type of medical facilities available.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
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. . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
Thursday, April 9, 2015
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.) . . .
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
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. . . .
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. . . .
Sunday, March 8, 2015
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. . . .