Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gail Collins on Embryonic Personhood

The New York Times - opinion column: The Eggs and Us, by Gail Collins:

The Abortion Wars Rage On

Let’s talk personhood, people.

Personhood is an anti-abortion movement that holds that life begins at conception, giving fertilized eggs all the rights of a human being. It might make it impossible to kidnap them for in-vitro fertilization. It could outlaw some forms of contraception.

Senator Rand Paul claims every fertilized egg is protected by the 14th Amendment. Many current Senate candidates are personhood supporters, including Cory Gardner, who is running a very close race in Colorado against Mark Udall.

No! Wait! Wait! Cory Gardner just changed his mind. Obviously, this is going to take a little unraveling. Give me a minute. . . .

June 28, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Planned Parenthood Fights NBC's Refusal to Air "Obvious Child" Trailer

The Wrap: Planned Parenthood Jumps Into ‘Obvious Child’ and NBC Abortion Flap, by Eric Czuleger:

Planned Parenthood is lashing out at NBC for refusing to air the trailer for Jenny Slate's new film,”Obvious Child.” The organization has launched an online petition to pressure the network into reversing its decision. . . .

June 24, 2014 in Abortion, Culture, Film, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wall Street Journal Perpetuates Myth that ACA Contraception Mandate Covers Abortions

Media Matters:  For The Wall Street Journal, It's About Abortion Even When It Isn't, by Meagan Hatcher Mays:

The Wall Street Journal is celebrating a recent Supreme Court ruling that will allow an anti-choice activist group to challenge the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bans false statements in election campaigns, a state statute that is opposed by free speech advocates across the political spectrum. But the WSJ went on to erroneously argue that the false statement at issue in the case -- that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) funds abortions -- is actually true, because contraceptives are actually "abortifacients." . . .

June 17, 2014 in Abortion, Contraception, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Researchers Conclude that Judges with Daughters Tend To Vote "In a More Feminist Fashion"

NPR:  Research: Children Of Judges May Influence Court Decisions, by Shankar Vedantam:

It's been suspected that judges are swayed by their personal beliefs and affiliations. An analysis found that judges become more likely to rule in "pro-feminist" ways if the judges have daughters. . . .

Listen to the story.  Here is the abtract of the paper:

In this paper, we ask whether personal relationships can affect the way that judges decide cases. To do so, we leverage the natural experiment of a child's gender to identify the effect of having daughters on the votes of judges. Using new data on the family lives of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, we find that, conditional on the number of children a judge has, judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges. More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions, and it is the first paper to show that empathy may indeed be a component in how judges decide cases. . . .

May 28, 2014 in In the Courts, In the Media, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Emily Letts Explains Why She Filmed Her Own Abortion

The link to Letts's essay is here:

Cosmopolitan:  Why I Filmed My Own Abortion, by Emily Letts

TIME: Here's Why This Woman Filmed Her Own Abortion, by Charlotte Alter:

Emily Letts works as an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, so when she herself got unexpectedly pregnant, she didn’t take long to decide she would terminate the pregnancy.

It wasn’t a difficult decision for her, she wrote in a Cosmopolitanessay, because she knew she wasn’t ready to have kids. But Letts took it one step further– she decided to film the abortion to show other women that it wasn’t scary. . . .

The Huffington Post:  Emily Letts' Abortion Video Garners Angry Reaction From Right-Wing Media, by Emily Thomas:

When Emily Letts found out she was pregnant last November she knew she would get an abortion. In an effort to help inform women facing a similar situation, the 25-year-old abortion counselor decided to film herself undergoing the procedure. Reactions to the award-winning clip, however, have been quite mixed. . . .

May 11, 2014 in Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2014

MSNBC Profiles Radical Anti-Choice Group, Abolish Human Abortion

MSNBC:  Meet the rebels of the anti-abortion movement, by Irin Carmon:

For the mainstream movement to ban abortion, graphic photos and aggressive language have generally gone out of style. The winning slogans, the ones Republican politicians prefer, are warmer, fuzzier: Thumbsucking ultrasound photos, or “women’s health” used as a pretext to shut down safe abortion clinics, including three in Texas this month alone. The losing slogans involve Akin-like “legitimate rape” and comparing Planned Parenthood to the Klan.

Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) begs to differ. Founded out of Norman, Oklahoma, and with chapters nationwide, AHA activists wear t-shirts emblazoned with “End Child Sacrifice” and proudly display photos of bloodied, fully developed fetuses. They protest outside churches – yes, churches – accusing them of not doing enough to end abortion, and talk scornfully of “pro-lifers” who make peace with rape exceptions to abortion bans. . . .

Watch here.

March 10, 2014 in Anti-Choice Movement, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sarah Silverman Chats with Jesus About Reproductive Rights

E! Online: Sarah Silverman and Jesus Chat About Abortion, Women's Reproductive Rights—Watch Now, by Rebecca Macatee:

Sarah Silverman might've known that a PSA with her "Jesus f--king Christ" talking about abortions would get people's attention.

And just why is God's son (an actor portraying Him, actually) paying her a visit in this controversial YouTube clip? To discuss women's reproductive rights and specifically to talk about access to safe abortions in the state of Texas. . . . 

January 24, 2014 in Culture, In the Media, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 9, 2013

NYT Editorial on ACLU's Suit Against Catholic Bishops

BishopThe 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. . . . 

December 9, 2013 in In the Courts, In the Media, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fox News Perpetuates Hobby Lobby's False Claims That Plan B Is An Abortion Pill

Media Matters: Fox Uses Hobby Lobby Case To Falsely Call Morning-After Pill Abortion, by Brian Powell & Samantha Wyatt:

Fox News repeatedly conflated the emergency contraceptive Plan B (also known as the morning-after pill) with abortion while covering two Supreme Court cases brought by companies that object to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control coverage benefits. However, experts agree that the morning-after pill is not abortion -- it prevents pregnancy but cannot stop pregnancy after fertilization takes place. . . .

November 30, 2013 in Contraception, In the Media, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Public Service Campaign Uses Humor To Educate About Contraception

The New York Times: Using Humor to Talk About Birth Control, by Tanzina Vega:

FEW things may be less comfortable to talk about with one’s parents than sex and birth control, and with that in mind, a new public service campaign hopes to offer guidance through a series of ads and online videos. . . .

November 11, 2013 in Contraception, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Challenge to Texas Abortion Restrictions Garners National Media Attention

TexasThe challenge to portions of Texas's hydra-like abortion law, brought by a coalition of national reproductive rights organizations, is getting lots of media attention:

The New York Times: Rights Groups and Clinics Sue Texas Over Provisions in Its New Abortion Law, by Erik Eckholm

The Washington Post: Texas abortion providers sue over new limits, by Juliet Eilperin

NPR - The Two-Way blog: Women's Health Groups Sue Texas Over Its New Abortion Law, by Bill Chappell

Reuters: Planned Parenthood sues Texas over abortion restrictions

MSNBC: Planned Parenthood takes Texas abortion laws to court, by Irin Carmon

Texas isn't the only state to have passed these kinds of restrictions recently, and indeed courts have already blocked similar restrictions elsewhere.  Admitting privileges requirements have been enjoined in Mississippi, Alabama, North Dakota, and  Wisconsin.  Laws requiring adherence to the outdated FDA protocol for medication abortions were enjoined in North Dakota and Oklahoma (in a case the Supreme Court may review this term), although a federal appeals court upheld Ohio's similar law in 2012.  

Texas's law is unique, however, in combining so many different restrictions in one measure (North Dakota went on a similar rampage this year but passed its restrictions in piecemeal fashion). Additionally, state senator Wendy Davis's famous filibuster of the omnibus bill helped to focus the nation's attention on Texas.  Finally, the bill would have a Texas-sized impact if allowed to take effect: as many as one-third of the state's clinics could be forced to close, leaving large areas of the state without a provider. 

-CEB

September 28, 2013 in In the Courts, In the Media, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Will Saletan on "Fetal Pain" Abortion Bans, and a Response

Slate: Fetal Fact Check, by William Saletan:

The doctors cited by pro-lifers say their fetal pain research doesn’t support abortion bans

In much of this country, over the last three years, pro-lifers have banned abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. They’ve justified these bans by asserting—contrary to the most authoritativestudies—that fetuses at this stage of development can feel pain. Their assertions, in turn, are based on research by several doctors. But the doctors don’t buy the pro-lifers’ conclusions. They say their research doesn’t support the bans. . . .

_________________________________________

Here's what William Saletan gets right in this column:  The science supporting claims that human fetuses can perceive pain at 20 weeks after fertilization is weak.  Here's where he goes on irrelevant tangents:

(1) Dr. Kanwaljeet J. S.  Anand, apparently the only known researcher who believes fetuses can feel pain at this stage, also believes "that 'fetal pain does not have much relevance for abortion, since most abortions are performed before the fetus is capable of experiencing pain.'"  Who cares?  If fetal pain marks the (moral) point at which abortion should be banned, why does it matter how few abortions are implicated?  Any abortion after that stage, proponents would argue, is immoral and should be banned.

(2)  Dr. Anand believes that his research does not support post-20-week abortion bans.  (Anand says that pain could be averted through anesthesia or causing a quick fetal demise before beginning the abortion procedure.)  Again, so what?  This point seems to misapprehend how anti-choice activists are using Anand's research.  They claim that the ability to perceive pain marks a moral threshold of human development sufficiently significant that abortion should not be permitted after this point.  That might be an important moral claim meriting a response (if not necessarily agreement), if the science backed up their assertions.   But while Anand believes fetuses can perceive pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization, he is contradicted by numerous other experts who conclude otherwise.  The best evidence suggests that a human fetus's ability to perceive pain does not occur before fetal viability, after which states can already ban abortions under Roe v. Wade.

(3) There is a "gap" between the claim that fetuses feel pain and the claim that abortions should be banned, since pain could be addressed in ways other than banning abortion.  While this is absolutely true, it fails to take the anti-choice argument seriously.  As explained above, anti-choice activists obviously do not believe that abortion is morally acceptable so long as fetuses don't feel pain.  They are asserting that fetal pain is a critical marker of human development: once a fetus can feel pain, it has reached the stage where it is morally unacceptable to kill it.  Saletan describes the "gap" between (doubtful) assertions of fetal pain and banning abortion as a "sleight of hand."  But he overlooks the real deception.  Anti-choice activists will not be content with banning abortions at 20 weeks.  For these activists, pain perception is not in fact the definitive moral milestone that they claim it is.  Their ultimate goal is to ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, when the pre-embryo can scarcely be seen with the naked eye.  The question of fetal pain is thus totally irrelevant to their moral claims.  They are simply trying to get the public to move one smallish step with them toward their ultimate goal, without reminding the public of what that goal really is.

-CEB

September 18, 2013 in Abortion Bans, Fetal Rights, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Washington Post Editorial on Richmond GOP Campaign to Shut Down Abortion Clinics

The Washington Post - editorial: Virginia’s next governor will determine whether most abortion clinics close:

VIRGINIA ATTORNEY General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) was instrumental in ensuring that new regulations will result in the closure of many of the state’s abortion clinics. Two of the busiest, in Northern Virginia and Norfolk, already have closed. If Mr. Cuccinelli is elected governor in November, most of the remaining 18 clinics are likely to shut their doors within months.

That would make access to abortion, as well as to family planning advice, difficult for thousands of Virginia women, particularly in rural areas; in some cases, it would become practically impossible. It would also represent a capstone in the Republican campaign in Richmond to limit abortion, despite Supreme Court rulings protecting it. . . .

September 17, 2013 in In the Media, Politics, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Commentator Sees Progress in NYT Wedding Announcement's Discussion of Abortion

Jezebel: Progress! NY Times Wedding Announcement Openly Discusses Abortion, by Doug Barry:

Signs of real social progress are often very subtle. They ought to be, by nature, since real progress is really a process of normalization. When same-sex marriage doesn’t merit the “same-sex” modifier, for instance, in most mainstream news publications, it’s a signal that most members of our society think beyond the man + woman = monogamous married couple for ever and ever paradigm. Or, when a wedding announcement in the New York Times openly discusses abortion as a difficult yet pragmatic decision a young couple made before they were financially and emotionally ready to have a kid, it’s a signal that a vast majority of Times readers (at the very least) recognize that having an abortion is a completely legitimate option.

On Friday, the Times announced the wedding of Faith Rein and Udonis Haslem, a power forward on the Miami Heat’s championship-nabbing team. . . .

September 2, 2013 in Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rolling Stone Lists 10 "Dumbest" Anti-Choice Comments About Abortion

Rolling Stone: The 10 Dumbest Things Ever Said About Abortion and Women's Rights, by Sarah Seltzer:

The worst sexist statements, logical fails and outright idiocy from the anti-choice movement

As long as abortion restrictions and bans continue to be rammed through state legislatures and introduced on Capitol Hill, it seems that anti-choice zealots will continue making headlines with their bizarre, scientifically incorrect and downright cruel remarks. Whether they're confusing the basics of female anatomy, making offensive comparisons to historical tragedies, trivializing rape or labeling pro-choice politicians "terrorists," these anti-abortion crusaders – led by a hee-hawing band of actual elected officials – could populate a thousand lists of epically dumb comments. Here's a sampling of the most ill-informed, borderline delusional and flat-out misogynist statements from the so-called "pro-life" movement: . . .

July 15, 2013 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

NYT Editorial Page Editor Asks, "What's Wrong With a 20-Week Abortion Ban?"

The New Times - Taking Note blog: What’s Wrong With a 20-Week Abortion Ban?, by Andrew Rosenthal:

The Texas House today passed the abortion restriction bill that State Senator Wendy Davis derailed last month.

One provision would move the point at which abortions are no longer legal to 20 weeks from 24 weeks. Another would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and allow abortions to take place only in surgical centers.

The Catholic Association’s press release celebrating progress on the bill said it merely “seeks to raise standards for women’s health and limits the inhumane and heart-breaking practice of late-term abortion.”

So what’s the big deal? . . .

July 11, 2013 in Abortion Bans, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Minnesota Public Radio Program Addresses Wave of State Restrictions on Abortion

Minnesota Public Radio's The Daily Circuit: State-by-state abortion limits appear headed for the courts:

The growing national trend toward state-by-state limits on abortion and abortion clinics will eventually have to be addressed in the courts, say experts on reproductive-rights policy.

Attention has been focused on state-level regulation of abortion since last month, when state Sen. Wendy Davis stood on the floor of the Texas Senate for more than 12 hours to block a vote on what would have become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. . . .

__________________________________________________

I participated in this program, along with Scott Gaylord (Elon Law School) and Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post.  Audio is available here:

-CEB

July 11, 2013 in Abortion, In the Media, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

NYT Hosts Debate Over "Coming Out on Abortion"

The New York Times: Coming Out on Abortion:

For years, conservatives rallied support around opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Support for same-sex marriage has grown, in part, because opponents have realized that friends and relatives are gay. But Republicans have continued to press for tougher laws against abortion.

The Guttmacher Institute says 30 percent of American women have had an abortion by age 40. Would support for abortion rights grow if more women discussed their abortions?

Read the discussion.

June 30, 2013 in Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Texas Senator Wendy Davis Becomes Media Darling After Her Filibuster of Omnibus Abortion Bill

The Washington Post (editorial): Wendy Davis is a formidible foe of abortion restrictions:

Wendy DavisIN A moment made for Twitter, Texas Sen. Wendy Davis stood for more than 13 hours and filibustered an abortion-restricting bill into the wee hours of Tuesday night. Ms. Davis’s physical feat and her remarkable personal story captured the country’s attention — but her victory looks shaky. The state legislature is convening for another special session Monday at which the bill — which restricts abortion by creating unnecessary regulations — is expected to be reintroduced. . . .

Bloomberg.com (editorial): Wendy Davis’s Argument and the Future of Abortion Rights:

Was Wendy Davis’s valiant filibuster also in vain? After all, the Texas Legislature is set toreconvene this week and probably move to the governor the same measure she opposed last week, which would restrict access to abortion. . . .

The Huffington Post: Wendy Davis Reflects On Filibuster And The Coming Special Session Abortion Fight, by Jason Cherkis:

After Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster helped defeat a controversial anti-abortion bill aimed at severely cutting access to abortion services across Texas, even her Republican colleagues had to express their admiration. . . .

The Los Angeles Times: Texas Sen. Wendy Davis' abortion filibuster galvanizes activists, by Molly Hennessy-Fiske & Mark Z. Barabak:

In a chaotic late-night scene that played out beneath the Capitol dome in Austin, a Texas lawmaker with pink sneakers and the steely resolve of a branding iron single-handedly stopped an effort to drastically curtail abortion in the Lone Star State. . . .

June 30, 2013 in Abortion Bans, In the Media, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Newsday Editorial Urges Vote on New York Women's Equality Act

Newsday (editorial): GOP in Albany should allow a vote on abortion bill:

The Republican lawmakers of New York once understood that leadership meant facing the most controversial, emotional issues of the times. The issues that so directly affect individual lives. The issues that the majority of the public cared about above the narrow narrative of routine politics.

These lawmakers understood that more than four decades ago, when state GOP leaders made key decisions which led to the liberalization of abortion laws in New York. It was a time when lawmakers of both parties put principle ahead of their careers. . . .

June 16, 2013 in Abortion, In the Media, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)