Friday, February 7, 2014
Sacramento Bee/AP: Judge hears arguments over Ala abortion law, by Kim Chandler:
Opponents of Alabama's new abortion clinic law told a federal judge Friday that three of the state's five clinics will close and poor women will have significantly curtailed access to abortion if the law goes into effect.
Lawyers for the state responded that the law was approved to protect women's health and that the court can't know the actual result on clinics ahead of time. . . .
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Anchorage Daily News/AP: Judge grants restraining order against state in abortion rules case:
Judge John Suddock approved the order Tuesday at the request of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, which has sued the state. . . .
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
The Missoulian: Montana AG barred from defending abortion consent laws, by Charles S. Johnson:
A Helena district judge has blocked the state from defending two state laws that require minors to obtain parental consent before obtaining abortions.
Planned Parenthood of Montana, which challenged the laws, claimed victory Tuesday. A spokeswoman said the group now will ask District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena to permanently enjoin the two laws to stop them from being enforced. . . .
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Kansas Supreme Court Justices Pose Sharp Questions to Defense Lawyer Representing Dr. Tiller's Murderer
Justices interrogated attorney over argument that Scott Roeder believed he saved lives by shooting Dr George Tiller
Justices on Kansas' highest court expressed skepticism Wednesday that a man convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting of a Wichita abortion provider should get a new trial because he believed he was saving the lives of unborn children.
All seven supreme court justices had pointed questions for the attorney representing Scott Roeder, who is serving at least 50 years in prison for killing Dr George Tiller in May 2009. Roeder gunned down Tiller in the foyer of the doctor's church, where he was serving as an usher just as a Sunday service was starting. . . .
Sunday, January 26, 2014
ThinkProgress: Judge Permanently Strikes Down Oklahoma’s Age Restrictions On Plan B, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
On Thursday night, an Oklahoma district court judge permanently struck down a state law that prevented some teenagers from buying Plan B over the counter, ruling that the restriction was essentially an abuse of power by the legislature. . . .
The New York Times: Texas Woman Is Taken Off Life Support After Order, by Manny Fernandez:
A Fort Worth hospital that kept a pregnant, brain-dead woman on life support for two months, followed a judge’s order on Sunday and removed her from the machines, ending her family’s legal fight to have her pronounced dead and to challenge a Texas law that prohibits medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant woman.
On Friday, a state district judge ordered John Peter Smith Hospital to remove the woman, Marlise Muñoz, from life-support machines by 5 p.m. on Monday. . . .
wsoctv.com: Gov. McCrory against appealing NC abortion speech case, by Emery P. Dalesio:
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory opposes a court fight to reverse a federal judge's ruling invalidating part of a state law that would have required abortion providers to describe a pre-procedure ultrasound's image to every patient, the Republican governor's office said Saturday. . . .
Monday, January 20, 2014
RH Reality Check: Federal Appeals Court Reinstates Portion of NYC Law Regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers, by Jessica Mason Pieklo:
Reproductive rights advocates scored an important victory
Friday, when afederal appeals court reinstated key components of a New York City law regulating crisis pregnancy centers.
A three-judge panel from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reinstated the portion of the 2011 law that requires crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to disclose whether or not a licensed medical provider works at the facility. . . .
JURIST: Federal judge rules North Carolina abortion ultrasound law is unconstitutional, by Bradley McAllister:
A judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina[official website] on Friday ruled [opinion, PDF] that a North Carolina state law requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound procedure is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights [LII backgrounder] of physicians and patients. The lawsuit was brought by several North Carolina physicians and health care providers on behalf of themselves and their patients as a challenge to the constitutionality of a state law passed in 2011. The Woman's Right to Know Act [materials] required women to have an ultrasound administered and explained by a medical professional at least four hours before she would be permitted to undergo an abortion. Also, the law mandated that images of the ultrasound be displayed so the woman could view them and a medical professional must offer the woman the opportunity to hear the fetal heart tone. . . .
If the Fourth Circuit affirms this ruling, there will be a Circuit split on the issue. In January 2012, the Fifth Circuit ruled in Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Servs. v. Lakey that plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail in their First Amendment challenge to a similar law, vacating a preliminary injunction granted by the district court. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the state based on the Fifth Circuit's ruling. The Supreme Court declined an opportunity to consider the constitutionality of pre-abortion ultrasound requirements when Oklahoma appealed a state supreme court ruling striking down its law. An affirmance by the Fourth Circuit, paired with the Fifth Circuit's contrary ruling, may prompt the Court to take up the issue.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
A federal appeals court heard arguments Monday on whether the state of Texas can enforce a law that led to the closing of several abortion clinics, a case that ultimately appears bound for the U.S. Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans didn't indicate how soon it would rule on whether a district judge erred in declaring parts of the 2013 law unconstitutional. . . .
In November, the groups challenging the new provisions asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 5th Circuit's stay of Yeakel's ruling. The high court rejected the request in a 5-4 opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the minority opinion that he believes at least four justices will vote to hear the case no matter how the 5th Circuit ultimate rules. . . .
Politico: Shifting strategies for state abortion battles in 2014, by Natalie Villacorta:
Conservative states that ran into legal trouble passing some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation last year have shifted their approach for 2014: smaller instead of sweeping.
Rather than bans that directly challenge Roe v. Wade, many states are again going for more incremental measures that address the physical space requirements of clinics, physicians’ qualifications and the use of certain procedures. The move is hardly a retreat, abortion opponents say, but rather a strategic decision that they expect could be nearly as effective in less time. . . .
Texas may continue to be a key test case in 2014. About a dozen clinics have shut since a law took effect there in October requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. . . .
The 5th Circuit heard the case Monday, and it’s likely to uphold the statute, said law professor Caitlin Borgmann of City University of New York. Borgmann, who has worked extensively on reproductive rights, expects the case ultimately to go before the Supreme Court. . . .
Saturday, January 4, 2014
The New York Times: Access to Abortion Falling as States Pass Restrictions, by Erik Eckholm:
A three-year surge in anti-abortion measures in more than half the states has altered the landscape for abortion access, with supporters and opponents agreeing that the new restrictions are shutting some clinics, threatening others and making it far more difficult in many regions to obtain the procedure.
Advocates for both sides are preparing for new political campaigns and court battles that could redefine the constitutional limits for curbing the right to abortion set by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and later modifications by the Supreme Court.
. . . A partial test is expected this month, when the Supreme Court announces whether it will hear Arizona’s appeal to reinstate its 20-week ban, which was overturned by federal courts. . . .
“If they take the Arizona case, it seems like at least four of the justices are willing to reconsider the viability line as the point at which states can ban abortions,” said Caitlin Borgmann, an expert on reproductive rights at the City University of New York School of Law. . . .
Monday, December 30, 2013
Marty Lederman has been writing a lot on the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood challenges to the ACA contraceptive rule. Here is his latest post.
Balkinization: Hobby Lobby Part III-A—Does federal law substantially pressure employers to offer health insurance coverage in violation of religious obligations, even though there is no “Employer Mandate”?, by Marty Lederman:
The plaintiffs in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood argue that federal law compels them to act contrary to their religious obligations, by requiring them to offer (and pay for and administer) employee health insurance plans that include contraception coverage. As I explained in my most recent post, that turns out to be a simple misreading of the law: Although employee plans must include contraception coverage, the Affordable Care Act does not require that employers offer such plans to their employees, nor even impose substantial pressure upon them to do so. . . .
Thursday, December 26, 2013
The New York Times: Texas: Grand Jury Clears Abortion Provider, by Erik Eckholm:
A grand jury in Harris County found no evidence of criminal behavior by a Houston doctor who performs late-term abortions and was accused by anti-abortion groups of killing live-born babies. . . .
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
The Huffington Post: Notre Dame Dealt Big Rejection In Challenge Against Birth Control Coverage, by Tom Coyne:
A federal judge said he doesn't think the University of Notre Dame will succeed in its challenge to a federal health care law requirement that it provide students and employee health plans that cover birth control.
U.S. District Judge Philip Simon on Friday rejected the Catholic school's request for an injunction, prompting Notre Dame to file an appeal Monday to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. . . .
The ACLU provides a summary of the challenges to the ACA contraceptive rule and the status of each case here.
Monday, December 9, 2013
The New York Times editorial: When Bishops Direct Medical Care:
Beyond new state efforts to restrict women’s access to proper reproductive health care, another, if quieter, threat is posed by mergers between secular hospitals and Catholic hospitals operating under religious directives from the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. These directives, which oppose abortions, inevitably collide with a hospital’s duty to provide care to pregnant women in medical distress. This tension lies at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union. . . .
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
ABC News: Judges in Chicago Question Wisconsin Abortion Law, by Michael Tarm:
An appellate court on Tuesday questioned a lawyer for the state of Wisconsin about why lawmakers singled out abortion clinics in requiring their doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, as judges heard arguments about the hotly debated law.
The sometimes-contentious, hourlong hearing before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was meant to help a three-judge panel decide whether to lift a temporary block on the law imposed by a lower court. . . .
The New York Times: Bishops Sued Over Policies on Abortion at Hospitals, by Erik Eckholm:
The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.
The suit was filed in federal court in Michigan on Friday on behalf of a woman who says she did not receive accurate information or care at a Catholic hospital there, exposing her to dangerous infections after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. . . .
Saturday, November 30, 2013
The New York Times: Abortion Cases in Court Helped Tilt Democrats Against the Filibuster, by Jeremy W. Peters:
Within hours of each other, two federal appeals courts handed down separate decisions that affirmed sharp new limits on abortion and birth control. One on Oct. 31 forced abortion clinics across Texas to close. The other, on Nov. 1, compared contraception to “a grave moral wrong” and sided with businesses that refused to provide it in health care coverage.
“These are the kinds of decisions we are going to have to live with,” a blunt Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, warned his caucus later as it weighed whether to make historic changes to Senate rules. . . .
Balkinization: The Establishment Clause and the Contraception Mandate, by Micah Schwartzman, Richard Schragger, and Nelson Tebbe:
Yesterday the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, which ask whether large, for-profit corporations and their religious owners can assert rights of religious free exercise under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and, if so, whether their rights are violated by the government’s requirement that they pay for health insurance that includes coverage for various forms of contraception. . . .