Thursday, November 30, 2017
Mother Jones (Nov. 29, 2017): Internal Emails Reveal How the Trump Administration Blocks Abortions for Migrant Teens, by Hannah Levintova and Pema Levy:
Jane Doe isn't the only teenage immigrant the Trump administration has tried to prevent from obtaining an abortion.
While the ACLU represented Doe in her ultimately successfully case to get an abortion, they continue to fight a class-action for other similarly-situation teens. These teens are pregnant and in government custody with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services. The ORR contracts with local shelters to house the minors.
The director of the ORR, Scott Lloyd, is an anti-abortion activist who has "changed ORR policy to prevent pregnant teens at these shelters from obtaining abortions."
As part of the ongoing lawsuit, the ACLU has obtained government emails showing the lengths to which the current administration will go to prevent an unaccompanied minor from seeking an abortion.
For example, ORR temporarily halted a medication abortion for one pregnant minor halfway through the procedure. In another case, ORR suggested that a pregnant minor scheduled for discharge from the shelter not be released until she had been counseled against receiving an abortion.
The ACLU says the government's efforts amount to a violation of the minors' Constitutional rights and defy Supreme Court precedent such as Roe v. Wade, which states the government cannot ban abortion. "They are effectively banning abortion for Jane Doe. I am still in shock that this is happening,” says Brigitte Amiri, a lead attorney for the ACLU.
One of the emails, published here, includes a redacted sender questioning whether the ORR's methods of approving (or not approving) a minor's pursuit of a judicial bypass are legal. A judicial bypass allows a minor who would otherwise need a guardian's permission for an abortion to get a court's approval to seek and receive an abortion without such parental or guardian permission.
The redacted email sender says:
My understanding is that the judicial bypass was created specifically so that the young lady does not need approval from her guardian (in our case the Director of ORR) to move forward with a term of pregnancy. Has this policy been vetted by your legal department? I anticipate there would be legal challenges to this policy.
Minors represented in this case have received judicial bypasses for their abortions from the courts, however the emails show that ORR nevertheless instructed the shelters not to allow it. It's unclear how those situations were resolved.
The release of these emails makes the government's targeted policies very clear, as the ACLU continues to fight for the Constitutional rights of unaccompanied and undocumented minors.
Friday, November 17, 2017
The New York Times (Nov. 10, 2017): Facebook is Ignoring Anti-Abortion Fake News, by Rossalyn Warren
As Facebook addresses the role of "fake news" on its platform, largely in relation to the 2016 election and Russian political propaganda, another potentially more difficult concern arises. The spread of false reproductive rights and health news is widespread and often harder for Facebook to spot (and manage).
Facebook’s current initiatives to crack down on fake news can, theoretically, be applicable to misinformation on other issues. However, there are several human and technical barriers that prevent misinformation about reproductive rights from being identified, checked and removed at the same — already slow — rate as other misleading stories.
Identifying a fake news sources is not always straightforward. The social media giant says it often targets "spoof" sites that mimic legitimate news sources. But misleading anti-abortion sites can be hazier to identify. They generally publish original pieces, but often alongside inaccurate facts or with poor sourcing, which "helps blur the line between what’s considered a news blog and 'fake news.'"
Facebook aims to limit fake news by making it more difficult for these sources to buy ads or generate spam. "Most false news is financially motivated," Facebook says. This is not often the case with anti-abortion advocates, though, who are overwhelmingly driven by strong religious or political beliefs. The goal isn't profit but persuasion.
Many are concerned that misinformation regarding reproductive rights and abortion in particular may detrimentally affect current political movements. Ireland plans to hold a referendum next year regarding whether to lessen the country's strict abortion regulations. Pro-choice advocates are worried that the rapid spread of abortion-related misinformation on Facebook (like a purported causal link between abortion and breast cancer) may affect the vote.
Facebook has yet, though, to directly address concerns over this type of scientific misinformation in the same way they have begun to address fake news about last year's election.
November 17, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, In the Media, Politics, Pro-Choice Movement, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers
Los Angeles Times (Nov. 13, 2017): Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers, by David G. Savage:
The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear NIFLA vs. Becerra, in which an anti-abortion group challenges a California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to notify patients that the state offers contraception and abortion services.
The case centers on the Reproductive FACT Act, which requires pregnancy centers to disclose whether they have a medical license and whether medical professionals are available. The law also requires centers to post a notice in the waiting room that reads: "California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, pre-natal care and abortion."
California lawmakers passed the disclosure law two years ago after concluding as many as 200 pregnancy centers in the state sometimes used “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform and even intimidate women” about their options for medical care.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) represents 110 pregnancy centers in California that all claim the disclosure provision violates their free speech as "compelled speech." Such a disclosure, they claim, conflicts with their faith-based goal of encouraging childbirth and preventing abortion.
The Californian pregnancy centers initially lost their case under three federal district judges. On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court upheld the lower court's decision. Last month, however, a judge in Riverside County ruled that the law violated the free-speech provisions of California's own state Constitution.
California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra stands by the disclosure provision and its intent to provide women accurate information about their health care options.
It takes five justices for a majority opinion, and many expect the Court's decision to turn on the vote of Justice Kennedy.
November 14, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, In the Media, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, November 6, 2017
San Antonio Current (Nov. 2, 2017): Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court, by Alex Zielinski
The trial fighting Texas' latest anti-abortion law, Senate Bill 8, began last week. Whole Woman's Health sued Texas in July after the governor signed SB 8 into law.
SB 8 would completely prohibit dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures, require clinics to bury the remains of any abortion, and prohibit hospitals from donating aborted fetal tissue to medical research.
The current lawsuit, though, only challenges the ban on D&E abortions. Dilation and evacuation abortions are considered one of the safest procedures for abortions after 13 weeks. The ban does not allow for exceptions in the cases of rape or incest. The only alternatives to a D&E procedure for a woman seeking an abortion are either inducing labor and forcing delivery of the fetus or a surgery similar to a hysterectomy. Both options are risky and expensive.
In August, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel temporarily blocked the law from going into effect on September 1. On November 2, the plaintiffs returned to Judge Yeakel's courtroom to request the bill's D&E ban be permanently blocked.
Yeakel has thus far supported a woman's constitutionally-protected right to abortion, saying: "The state cannot pursue its interest in a way that denies a woman her constitutionally protected rights to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable."
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Saint Louis Post-Dispatch (Jun. 29, 2017): Planned Parenthood: Judge's Ruling a Victory for Young Women, by Rick Callahan (AP):
A federal judge in Indiana Thursday blocked part of a new law that would have required a judge to determine whether a pregnant minor's parents should be notified if she sought an abortion. Republican Governor Holcomb of Indiana, who signed the law in April, frames it as a "parental rights issue."
Reagan-nominated U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker who enjoined the provision also blocked two additional provisions--one requiring physicians to verify the relationship between a minor and her parents or guardians and another that would have prevented anyone assisting an un-emancipated minor seeking an abortion.
Attorney General Curtis Hill has not yet decided if he will appeal the Judge Barker's decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Texas Observer (Jun. 20, 2017): How Texas' Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Win Even While Losing in Court, by Sophie Novack:
Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 into law, "an omnibus measure that mandates burdensome clinic regulations and outlaws a safe, common abortion procedure" known as dilation & evacuation, or D&E. SB 8 is the most sweeping set of restrictions on abortion care signed into law in Texas since House Bill 2 in 2013, culminating in last year's Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down two of the bill's major provisions. A lawsuit against SB 8 is expected later this summer.
Novack argues that while abortion-rights advocates ultimately claimed victory in the courts over HB 2, the law "forced the closure of more than half the state’s abortion clinics, and only three have reopened since." The main issue for abortion-rights advocates, Novack says is that "legislation often moves faster than the courts, and SB 8 could wreak similar havoc on the abortion provider community in Texas.
“We’re looking at again the possibility of clinic closures and other restrictions that force women to leave the state if they need abortion care,' said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit against HB 2 and has pledged to fight SB 8. 'In terms of access on the ground, this presents a huge threat to Texas.”
The major provisions at issue in SB 8 are a requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated, and a ban on D&E, the most common form of second-trimester procedure. Abortion-rights advocates take some comfort in knowing that both of these provisions have been successfully challenged in court, but if either provision goes into effect, clinics could face closure for failure to comply with the law.
Texas Right to Life pushed the D&E ban, while Texas Alliance for Life championed the fetal burial/cremation requirement. Each group has a different strategy: Texas Right to Life favors pushing the D&E ban to the Supreme Court, while Texas Alliance for Life favors "a more incremental approach" that chips away at access until the Supreme Court becomes less favorable to abortion rights. Said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life: "it’s very clear now that [Justice Kennedy] will not uphold any state or federal provision that makes abortion less accessible, that’s the unfortunate reality."
In January, a federal judge blocked new Texas regulations that would’ve required burials for fetal remains. Courts have blocked D&E abortion bans in four other states. While it remains to be seen how courts will decide on SB 8, the battle will be long, and if it plays out like HB 2, there could be lasting consequences.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Anti-choicers get even weirder: After losing in the Supreme Court, abortion foes turn to desperate distortion
Salon (August 17, 2016): Anti-choicers get even weirder: After losing in the Supreme Court, abortion foes turn to desperate distortion, by Amanda Marcotte
In the wake of the landmark victory of Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, Amanda Marcotte argues that the anti-choice movement has been "sent back to the drawing board" and their two new tactics are spins on old classics: "first, trying to trick people into thinking embryos are babies and then trying to trick people into thinking abortion is too medically dangerous to be allowed." Some newly proposed regulations in Texas, Louisiana and Indiana require women to have a funeral for the 'remains' of a miscarriage or abortion. So far the regulations have been held up in the court.
While these regulations are said to have been "quietly" proposed, anti-choice advocates are a little louder about making claims that abortions are dangerous. Their problem is that statistics published by places like the CDC and Guttmacher show that abortion is extremely safe. Rather than changing their claims, anti-choice supporters argue that they just need more statistics. While these claims seem ridiculous, Marcotte argues that there's a silver lining:
Considering the lengthy history of anti-choice violence against medical providers, this kind of behavior is deeply worrisome.But it also shows the depths of desperation of the anti-choice movement. More data collection will just prove how safe abortion is, and funerals for embryos just remind everyone what kind of sick fantasy lives anti-choice activists have.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Salon (July 11, 2016): Anti-choice activists attempt to hijack Black Lives Matter to shame women for abortion, by Amanda Marcotte
Coming off of a week of violent murders, racism, and police violence, many in America believe that coming together as a community is the way to rise above violence. Still, in the wake of tragedy, some conservative activists have hijacked the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement for their own gain - shaming women for abortions. "Conservative Twitter" has erupted with hashtags that proclaim "Unborn Lives Matter," with anti-choice accounts like that of the Radiance Foundation and Students for Life adding the hashtag to anti-choice ads and tweets on their pages. Amanda Marcotte calls out conservative activists for the campaign:
But the eagerness of the anti-choice movement to hijack, undermine, or even demonize the Black Lives Matter movement exposes the “well-meaning people” belief as the myth it is. Anti-choice is about the same politics of resentment, bigotry, and cruelty as the rest of the conservative movement, and this behavior simply proves that fact once again.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
Anti-Choice Groups Use Smartphone Surveillance to Target ‘Abortion-Minded Women’ During Clinic Visits
Rewire (May 29, 2016): Anti-Choice Groups Use Smartphone Surveillance to Target ‘Abortion-Minded Women’ During Clinic Visits, by Sharona Coutts
In the digital age of tracked advertising, we are constantly bombarded with ads that companies choose for us based on our technological imprint and history. Now, these ads are getting personal. The newly re-branded Rewire writes about John Flynn, CEO of Copley Advertising, who decided to use technology for targeted ads within the anti-choice movement; specifically, against women inside the safety of abortion clinics encouraging them to change their mind about their personal and (not-so) private choice to terminate a pregnancy. Because laws on data collection and tech privacy are still catching up with the speed at which the sector is progressing, this is all, as of now, legal.
"Women who have visited almost any abortion clinic in the United States have seen anti-choice protesters outside, wielding placards and chanting abuse. A Boston advertiser's technology, when deployed by anti-choice groups, allows those groups to send propaganda directly to a woman’s phone while she is in a clinic waiting room."
Friday, April 1, 2016
Think Progress (March 28, 2016): Inside The Christian Right's Strategy to Keep Fake Abortion Clinics Open in California, by Alex Zielinski:
Called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs), these clinics advertise free pregnancy tests to get patients in the door, but ultimately lean heavily on junk science and spiritual guilt to talk women out of having an abortion. In January, California became the first state in the country to enact a law successfully cracking down on the state’s nearly 350 misleading clinics.
California's Reproductive FACT Act requires that CPCs hand out a pamphlet providing information on how to obtain birth control, abortion and prenatal care. It also requires that CPCs that do not have a medical license let patients know.
However, efforts to enforce the law have stalled because of lawsuits filed by anti-choice organizations, who claim that the law violates freedom of speech and religious freedom rights. Although four courts have denied motions for preliminary injunctions, it has not stopped the organizations from suing city and county attorneys in small communities. Their strategy appears to be to encourage the communities to agree not to enforce the law in exchange for an offer to drop the case.
So far, only one city -- Grass Valley, a town of 12,000 located an hour north of Sacramento -- has openly accepted this settlement.
"This is not a policy statement. It simply comes down to the cost -- Grass Valley is a small city," said Michael Colantuono, the city attorney for Grass Valley charged in the lawsuit.
Colantuono says that it will be up to the State Attorney General to defend the case because the city doesn't have the money to litigate. Other counties and municipalities may make the same calculation.
Friday, February 19, 2016
New York Times (Feb. 11, 2016): Pregnancy Clinics Fight for Right to Deny Abortion Information, by Erik Eckholm:
At more than 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) run by religious opponents of abortion, a woman cannot obtain information on where to obtain an abortion. To fight a California law requiring such centers to post a notice that free or low-cost abortion, contraception and prenatal care are available to low-income women through public programs, some CPCs are claiming a free-speech right to withhold such information. Attempts in other states to regulate CPCs in this fashion have been struck down by federal courts. But courts in California have so far refused to enjoin the regulations, the theory being that they do not force the CPCs to declare their religious beliefs but merely require them to provide factual information about public programs. There are lingering concerns that CPCs are misleading pregnant women with false information about the complications of abortion and its longer-term effects.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
New York Times (Feb. 7, 2016): Federal Judge Orders Abortion Foes Not to Release Secretly Filmed Videos, by Barry Meier:
A federal court judge has dealt a blow to the instigators of last summer's smear campaign accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue. Judge William Orrick prohibited the Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos they had made and rejected the group's claim that its investigation was protected journalism. The group's campaign triggered efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood even though the hundreds of hours of recordings revealed that Planned Parenthood had engaged in no wrongdoing.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
New York Times (Jan. 19, 2016): Anti-Abortion Groups Join Forces Over Frozen Embryos, by Tamar Lewin:
Disputes by divorcing couples over frozen embryos are nothing new. In the past they have been decided in favor of the party who does not want to procreate or in accordance with any contracts the couple executed to control their disposition. But a new litigation strategy is for the party seeking to have children with the embryos without the consent of the other to hire counsel better known for their anti-choice stance in the abortion wars. The legal theory these lawyers expound is that an embryo has a fundamental interest in being born, ergo, that the party who wishes to procreate should be allowed to do so. The strategy fits nicely within the "personhood" theory which holds that an embryo is a person at the moment of conception. Indeed, counsel in an ongoing appeal in a frozen-embryo dispute in Missouri cite the Missouri law that life begins at conception. Of course a court will probably not find the existence of "human life" to be synonymous with the existence of a "human person," if only to adhere with the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, which remains the law of the land.
Monday, January 11, 2016
Jezebel (Dec. 19, 2015): Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood is Still Closed, but the Protestors are Back, by Stassa Edwards:
The clinic has been closed since November 27 when Robert Lewis Dear walked in and opened fire on patients and staff. Though PP employees haven’t even entered the building since the shooting, anti-choice protesters replete with obligatory signage, stand on the corner outside of the closed clinic.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
New York Times (Dec. 19, 2015): The Reproductive Rights Rollback of 2015:
The New York Times reports that no fewer than 288 restrictions on abortion have been enacted since 2011. These include the familiar targeted regulation of abortion providers scheduled for review next year by the Supreme Court. But abortion is being attacked in other ways as well, including extensions of waiting periods, mandated in-person counseling necessitating two separate trips to an abortion provider, and bans on inexpensive medical abortions. Against the backdrop of the forceful move in many states to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the only reproductive health provider for millions of poor women, these efforts reflect an attempt not only to unduly burden but indeed to obliterate entirely every woman's right to manage her reproductive life.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
The Hill (Oct. 13, 2015): Planned Parenthood Stops Taking Money for Fetal Tissue Donation, by Sarah Ferris:
Planned Parenthood's president Cecile Richards wrote a letter to the National Institutes of Health stating that the organization will no longer be accepting reimbursement for its fetal tissue donation program.
“This new policy removes beyond the shadow of a doubt the ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in tissue donation — and shows the real agenda behind these attacks,” Richards wrote in a statement.
Jezebel (Oct. 12, 2015): California Crisis Pregnancy Centers Sue Over Medical License, Abortion Disclosure Law, by Anna Merlan:
Last week California's Reproductive Fact ACT was signed into law. This Act requires crisis pregnancy centers in the state of California to disclose that they do not provide medical services.
On Saturday, two anti-abortion clinics sued the attorney general, arguing their free speech rights are being violated...That argument worked in Austin, Texas, where a similar signage law was struck down in 2014. Another one was upheld in New York City, although the State Supreme Court threw out a provision making the clinics state directly whether they provide abortions.
Friday, October 9, 2015
Jezebel (Oct. 6, 2015): Toot Toot! All Aboard the Crazy Train! Congress Has Big Plans for Planned Parenthood, by Anna Merlan:
The House’s Energy and Commerce Committee voted just now to convene a special, thirteen-member subcommittee to investigate PP...The resolution from the committee says the subcommittee will be investigating “medical procedures and business practices used by entities involved in fetal tissue procurement,” as well as “the practices of providers of second and third trimester abortions, including partial birth abortion and procedures that may lead to a child born alive as a result of an attempted abortion.”
Merlan explains that the whole House will vote tomorrow on whether or not to create the committee. Merlan quotes Dawn Laguens, an Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood, who states: “This is now a five-ring circus — and counting. This would be the fifth committee to launch an investigation based on false claims that have been totally discredited.”
Thursday, April 30, 2015
ThinkProgress: How Anyone Who Works At An Abortion Clinic Becomes A Target For Violence And Harassment, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
Joan, the president of a network of women’s health clinics in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States, isn’t comfortable using her real name in this story because her private residence was vandalized last year. Someone threw a bucket of red paint all over her house. . . .
Joan is just one of the dozens of people who’s featured in a new book that attempts to detail the scope of anti-abortion harassment present in clinic staffers’ everyday lives. Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism argues that, although most Americans don’t realize it, many of the people who work in the field of abortion are living in a state of heightened fear and anxiety because targeted harassment follows them everywhere.
The book’s authors, law professor David Cohen and practicing attorney Krysten Connon, once worked together to represent abortion providers in Philadelphia and were struck by the stories of stalking and intimidation they heard in court. . . .
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Slate: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, by David S. Cohen & Krysten Connon:
Ten ways that laws and law enforcement should protect clinic workers.
. . . According to a recent Feminist Majority Foundation report, personal targeting of abortion providers is rising precipitously. The 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey tallied the responses of 242 abortion providers from around the country. Providers were asked about their experiences with violence, harassment, and intimidation directed at clinics generally and patients. They were also asked about being targeted individually, which is our concern here. . . .
For the past four years, we have been doing our own study of targeted harassment of abortion providers. . . . These interviews form the basis of a book,Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism, which will be released in May. . . .