Monday, September 26, 2016
Reacting to how restrictive abortion laws block low-income women's access to reproductive health care and force them across state borders, Kaiya Lyons's article in the Thurgood Marshall School of Law Journal on Gender, Race, and Justice develops the theory that Congress's power to regulate commerce vests it with the authority to invalidate such laws. The abstract follows.
The Supreme Court has consistently held that the right of a woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and without undue burden should be preserved. However, the ability of a woman to exercise that right today is as intimately connected to her economic privilege and geographic location as it was in the days preceding the Court's landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade. As a result of the great deference assigned to state legislatures by Roe and its progeny, increasingly restrictive abortion laws have been enacted across the country that obstruct low income women's access to reproductive health care.
This article seeks to outline how the "seismic shift" in reproductive rights law since the 2010 midterm election forced women to travel into other states to receive abortions, and thus created the very interstate market that would allow Congress to invalidate such laws under the Commerce Clause. While unlikely in the current political climate, such a legislative effort could effectively circumvent the ability of the Supreme Court to further narrow its abortion jurisprudence. This article argues that federal action is necessary to protect the rights of low income and economically vulnerable women for whom abortion is a vital piece of comprehensive reproductive health care.
Friday, August 5, 2016
National Public Radio (July 20, 2016): Anti-Abortion Groups Take New Aim with Diverse Strategies, by Julie Rovner:
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, anti-abortion forces are reconsidering whether the strategy they have pursued for the last several years was ill-conceived. A new strategy among some groups is to lobby legislatures, at both the federal and state levels, to ban abortion after roughly twenty weeks of pregnancy and to ban all dilation and evacuation abortions. A federal bill to this effect passed the House but was defeated in the Senate.
But some anti-abortion groups want to continue fighting for TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws and remain convinced that there is a way to formulate such laws that will pass constitutional scrutiny. Thus, the anti-abortion movement is currently divided into two camps, those who want to continue the battle to shut down abortion care clinics in the guise of fighting for women's health, and those who desire a renewed focus on banning abortion outright.
Anti-abortion forces remain convinced that they are winning the fight, despite recent setbacks and despite the social justice leanings of the up and coming generation of millennials. They view the question of who will inhabit the White House come next January as the factor that will be the most decisive in the short term.
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
The New York Times: Insurers Flout Rule Covering Birth Control, Studies Find, by Robert Pear:
Health insurance companies often flout a federal requirement that they cover all approved methods of birth control for women without co-payments or other charges, a major benefit of the Affordable Care Act, two new studies have found.
Responding to the reports, senior Democratic members of Congress prodded the White House on Wednesday to step up enforcement of the requirement. . . .
Monday, March 23, 2015
The Washington Post/AP: House Dems say new abortion language helps Medicare doc deal, by Alan Fram:
Language has been added to an emerging bipartisan deal on Medicare clarifying that the agreement’s abortion restrictions on community health centers are temporary and won’t be inscribed into permanent law, House Democrats said Monday.
The Democrats said they believe the new provisions will ease concerns that have threatened Democratic support for the overall package, which is mostly aimed at protecting doctors who treat Medicare patients from imminent, deep cuts. . . .
Sunday, March 15, 2015
The Christian Science Monitor: McConnell vows: no vote on attorney general until abortion flap solved, by Mark Sappenfield:
Mitch McConnell said Sunday that the Senate would not vote on attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch until another bill has been dealt with first. But that bill appears to have hit an impasse over abortion.
President Obama’s nominee to be the next United States attorney general apparently will have to wait until Senate Democrats and Republicans can figure out abortion.
That could be a long wait.
It’s not that she said something controversial about abortion at confirmation hearings. In fact, the abortion issue has nothing at all to do with Loretta Lynch. . . .
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Politico: How abortion politics scuttled a human-trafficking bill, by Burgess Everett & Seung Min Kim:
It’s a cause any politician would have a hard time opposing: cracking down on human trafficking.
Instead, in a breakdown sensational even by Senate standards, a bill to address the issue is set to go down in a partisan firefight. The cause of the row? Democrats didn’t read the 68-page bill to discover its provisions dealing with abortion, and Republicans didn’t disclose the abortion language when Democratic staffers asked them for a summary of the legislation.
The spectacle has infuriated groups that advocate for cracking down on sex trafficking and left Democrats and Republicans even more skeptical of whether they can trust each other. . . .
Thursday, February 26, 2015
The Huffington Post: House Republicans Slip Anti-Abortion Language Into Education Bill, by Laura Bassett:
House Republicans attached language to a major education bill Wednesday night that would financially penalize school districts that allow school-based health centers to provide information about abortion to pregnant high school students. . . .
Thursday, January 29, 2015
The New York Times (Taking Note blog): Tim Ryan’s Switch on Abortion Rights, by Dorothy Samuels:
Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who previously opposed abortion rights, has officially changed sides. He’s very welcome in the pro-choice camp. With reproductive freedom under attack in the Republican-led Congress and in G.O.P.-controlled state legislatures around the country, the embattled cause needs all the new supporters it can get. . . .
Thursday, January 22, 2015
The Wall Street Journal: House Passes Bill Prohibiting Federal Funds Being Used for Abortions, by Kristina Peterson & Louise Radnofsky:
Some female Republican and centrist lawmakers helped scuttle a vote on a controversial measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, prompting the House on Thursday to pass a separate, largely symbolic bill that would further restrict federal funding to pay for abortions. . . .
The bill approved Thursday, which would ban the use of federal funds to pay for abortions or health-insurance plans that cover abortion, passed 242-179. There are already bans in place on using most federal funds for abortion. One Republican, Rep. Richard Hanna of New York, voted against the bill.
The White House said President Barack Obama would likely veto it. . . .
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. . . .
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.” . . .
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The Hill: GOP Senate candidates mum on birth control mandate change, by Elise Viebeck:
Republican Senate candidates are staying silent on President Obama's latest changes to the birth control coverage mandate, even as the policy catches flak from the religious right.
Top GOP hopefuls haven’t weighed in on the issue since Friday, when the administration announced new measures meant to accommodate religious groups and businesses owners who object to their insurance covering birth control. . . .
Thursday, July 31, 2014
InsuranceNewsNet: Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Expand Access to Contraception for Military Women, Dependents:
Legislation supported by women's health care advocates would also boost access to comprehensive family planning counseling
Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation, the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014, which would overhaul current Department of Defense'spolicy on contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling. The bill would bring health care provided by the military in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring that all women who receive health care through the United States military have access to all FDA-approved contraception with nohealth insurance co-pay. The bill would also require the Department of Defense to develop and implement family planning counseling for all servicewoman at specific points during her service. . . .
Saturday, July 26, 2014
The Hill - Contributors blog: Debunking the bad science on abortion and women's health, by Andrea Flynn:
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), a bill that would prevent unnecessary restrictions on abortions and abortion providers. The opposition used overblown and often incorrect claims to drive home the familiar message that abortion is dangerous, bad for women and shouldn't be considered part of women's healthcare.
In the face of tireless attacks on reproductive rights, it is important to revisit those claims, set the record straight and remind the opposition of the real health threats facing too many U.S. families. . . .
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The Hill: Dem birth control bill stalls, by Ramsey Cox:
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked legislation that would require companies to provide birth control coverage in their employee healthcare plans.
The bill failed to advance in a 56-43 vote, with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) voting with Democrats. . . .
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Slate - The XX Factor blog: The Democrats’ Brilliant Idea for How to Stop Unnecessary Abortion Clinic Regulations, by Amanda Marcotte:
Democrats in the Senate on Tuesday took a major step in pushing back against the growing trend of regulations that are designed to shut down safe abortion clinics. The Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony on a bill introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin, a bill that would do significant damage to anti-choice efforts to go around Roe v. Wade by regulating abortion clinics out of existence. It's called the Women's Health Protection Act, and it would end the attacks on abortion clinics through one simple measure: requiring states to regulate abortion providers in exactly the same way they do other clinics and doctors who provide comparable services. No more singling out abortion providers. . . .
The New York Times - editorial: A Defense of Reproductive Rights:
Facing a torrent of state laws restricting access to safe and legal abortions, supporters of a woman’s right to make her own childbearing decisions have been forced to play a defensive game — trying to block enactment of the laws, and, when that doesn’t work, challenging them in court. An important hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday could begin to move the dynamics of the fight in a positive direction. . . .