Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Friday, February 7, 2014

North Carolina Will Appeal Ruling on Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Mandate

News & Observer: Attorney general says North Carolina will appeal abortion ultrasound ruling, by Craig Jarvis:

Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday that the state will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that strikes down the narrated ultrasound provision of an abortion-regulation bill.

“While I oppose laws like this that force the state into women’s medical decisions, the state will appeal this ruling because legitimate constitutional questions remain that should be decided by a higher court,” Cooper said in a statement his office released. “It is the duty of the Office of Attorney General to defend state laws regardless of whether I agree with them.” . . .


North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory recently expressed his opposition to an appeal.

February 7, 2014 in Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Study Shows Pre-Abortion Ultrasounds Do Not Dissuade Women from Abortion Viewing Ultrasound Unlikely to Deter Women from Abortion, Study Finds, by Gillian Mohney:

A new study has found that pregnant women who plan on having an abortion are not often dissuaded by viewing an ultrasound.

The study, designed to find out if pregnant women who view their ultrasounds are significantly less likely to go through with a planned abortion, was published this month in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal. It looked at the cases of more than 15,000 women, the total number of pregnant women who went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Los Angeles in 2011 and were planning to have an abortion. . . .

February 1, 2014 in Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Scholarship and Research, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

N.C. Governor Opposes Appeal of Ruling Invalidating Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Requirement 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. . . .

January 26, 2014 in In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Federal District Court Declares North Carolina Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Law Unconstitutional

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.


January 20, 2014 in In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Federal Judge Will Hear Arguments on North Carolina's Ultrasound Mandate

News & Observer: Case involving NC's abortion ultrasounds to be heard in Greensboro, by Ann Blythe:

Lawyers will be in federal court on Friday to argue for and against a 2011 North Carolina law that requires physicians to perform an ultrasound four hours before providing an abortion and to place the screen in the woman’s view while describing the images in detail.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles will hear arguments in a federal courtroom in Greensboro. . . .

August 22, 2013 in In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wisconsin Governor Signs TRAP Law, Including Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Mandate

NPR: Abortion Providers Sue As Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill, by Dana Farrington:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound. The bill also puts restrictions on doctors who perform abortions, reports Marti Mikkelson of member station WUWM in Milwaukee.

Mikkelson tells our Newscast Desk that the bill, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in June, would "prohibit doctors from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital." . . .

July 6, 2013 in Abortion, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Caroline Corbin on Compelled Disclosures

Caroline CorbinCaroline Mala Corbin (Univ. of Miami Law School) has posted Compelled Disclosures on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Courts have faced a wave of compelled disclosure cases recently. By government mandate, tobacco manufacturers must include graphic warnings on their cigarette packages, doctors must show and describe ultrasound images of fetuses to women seeking to abort them, and crisis pregnancy centers must disclose that they do not provide contraception or abortion services. Although applying the same compelled speech doctrine to similar issues, appeals courts have reached very different results in challenges to these laws. Drawing from First Amendment theory, this Article first identifies why compelled disclosures undermine free speech values. It then applies those insights to the specific examples above. In doing so, it examines not only compelled text but the new phenomenon of compelled images, particularly compelled images designed to provoke an emotional response. The Article concludes that recent appeals court decisions have it backwards: It is mandatory abortion counseling laws that offend free speech principles, not laws requiring cigarette warnings or crisis pregnancy center disclosures.

May 10, 2013 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Kansas Governor Scrawls "JESUS + Mary" On Sweeping Anti-Choice Bill As He Signs It Into Law

Feministing:  Kansas Gov signs massive anti-choice law, writes "JESUS + Mary" in notes, by Maya Dusenbery:

Last Friday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a sweeping anti-choice [bill] into law. Among other things, the bill requires doctors to lie and tell patients that abortion is linked to breast cancer, and defines life as beginning at conception in the state constitution.

Before the signing ceremony, Gov. Brownback added a few hand-written notes to his remarks. According to a photo snapped by the AP, the words “JESUS + Mary” are scrawled front and center across the top. . . .


The text of the law is available here.


April 24, 2013 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 8, 2013

South Dakota Governor Signs Extended Abortion Waiting Period into Law

Reuters: South Dakota governor signs extended abortion wait period law, by David Bailey:

South Dakota Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard on Friday signed into law a measure that excludes weekends and holidays from the state's 72-hour waiting period for abortions, potentially making the wait the longest in the nation. . . .

March 8, 2013 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Guardian Offers Timeline of "2012 War on Women"

The Guardian: The War on Women, by Heather Long:

2012 was a tough year for American females as various aspects of female health and reproduction repeatedly took center stage. Politicians and pundits, mainly Republican, made degrading and factually incorrect remarks about rape and contraception. But Democrats also left their mark with an ill-timed snipe at stay-at-home mom Ann Romney, reinvigorating the "mommy wars".

Here are the key moments in the 2012 War on Women . . . .

March 5, 2013 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Contraception, Fetal Rights, In the Media, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Parenthood, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault, Sexuality, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 25, 2013

More of the Same - GOP Continues to Push Aggressive Abortion Bills

MSNBC: GOP ignores 2012 lessons, pushes harsh anti-abortion bills, by Aliyah Frumin:

Republican lawmakers are pushing abortion-restricting bills in both Indiana and Arkansas, suggesting the GOP did not learn from the national backlash to super aggressive abortion rhetoric in the 2012 elections. (See: Akin, Todd and Mourdock, Richard.)

Old habits, it seem, die hard. . . .

February 25, 2013 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Politics, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Scott Gaylord and Thomas Molony on Casey and Ultrasound Mandates

Scott W. Gaylord & Thomas J. Molony (both of Elon Law) have published Casey and a Woman's Right to Know:  Ultrasounds, Informed Consent, and the First Amendment in the Connecticut Law Review.  Here is the abstract:  

Twenty years after Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey was decided, courts across the country are being called on to apply the Court’s undue burden test to novel abortion regulations.  The most recent wave of regulation involves the use of ultrasound technology.  Twenty-three states currently require physicians to perform, offer to perform, or follow specific protocols when performing an ultrasound prior to any abortion procedure.  National attention, however, has focused on the growing number of states that require physicians to display and describe the ultrasound images to a woman seeking an abortion.  Four states—Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Louisiana—have already passed such legislation, and several other states currently are considering similar bills.

The ultrasound statutes in Texas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma were immediately challenged in state and federal courts.  Instead of focusing on the woman’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, the central issue in the federal cases has been whether physicians have a First Amendment right to be free from compelled disclosures relating to the ultrasounds.  The federal courts have struggled with how to resolve these First Amendment claims within the abortion context.  While the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Texas speech-and-display statute, a North Carolina federal District Court enjoined a similar North Carolina statute.

This Article explores the split between and among the courts that have addressed the First Amendment challenges to mandatory speech-and-display requirements.  In particular, the Article evaluates how Casey’s undue burden test affects the First Amendment speech rights of physicians in the abortion context.  Drawing on Casey’s references to Wooley v. Maynard and Whalen v. Roe, the Article concludes that the government has broad authority to mandate disclosures designed to inform a woman’s decision about an abortion.  Under Casey, mandatory speech-and-display requirements that do not impose a substantial obstacle to a woman’s exercise of her right to abortion are constitutional if they are reasonable, which Casey defines as being truthful, non-misleading, and relevant.  As a result, the Article contends that courts should uphold the Texas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Louisiana ultrasound statutes—as well as the similar statutes being considered by state legislatures across the country—against First Amendment challenges of physicians.

February 8, 2013 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Scholarship and Research, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oregon Stands Alone Among States in Lacking Abortion Restrictions

The Washington Post - Wonkblog: All states except Oregon now limit abortion access, by Sarah Kliff:

Roe v. Wade guaranteed abortion as a legal right across the country. A separate decision two decades later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, guaranteed states’ rights to limit access to abortion, so long as it did not pose an “undue burden” on the woman.

States have, over the past four decades, made no short use of that latter right. Only one state, Oregon, has not layered additional restrictions on top of the Roe decision. . . .

January 31, 2013 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Guttmacher Institute Releases 2012 State Policy Review on Reproductive Health and Rights

Guttmacher Institute:  Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights:  2012 State Policy Review:


Reproductive health and rights was once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2012. Over the course of the year, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. Although this is a sharp decrease from the record-breaking 92 abortion restrictions enacted in 2011, it is the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions. . . .

January 6, 2013 in Abortion, Contraception, Fetal Rights, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP), Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Abortion Restrictions

The Huffington Post: Oklahoma Supreme Court Rejects Two Anti-Abortion Laws, by Laura Bassett:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that two anti-abortion laws recently passed by the state Legislature are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. One of the laws would require women to have an ultrasound procedure before an abortion and hear a detailed description of the fetus, and the other would restrict the use of medication to end a pregnancy. . . .

December 4, 2012 in Abortion, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

State Laws Are Calling for Anti-Abortion Material to be Showcased on State Websites

Lincoln Journal Star: Anti-abortion group wants ultrasound images on state website, by Kevin O’Hanlon:


An anti-abortion group wants Nebraska lawmakers to pass legislation that requires four-dimensional ultrasound images of human fetuses to be posted on a state website.


So-called 4-D ultrasounds take images of the fetus from several angles, showing such things as facial features and capturing movement.


Nebraska Right to Life said Tuesday it has been in contact with Kansans for Life about legislation passed in Kansas that resulted in such images being shown on that state's Department of Health and Environment website as part of its "informed consent on abortion" statute. . . .

Arizona Daily Sun: Website details abortion risks, by Howard Fischer:

PHOENIX -- State health officials are implementing parts of a controversial abortion law even as one section is being challenged in court.

The Department of Health Services this past week erected a website designed to give those considering an abortion a list of things that can go wrong. The site, mandated by lawmakers and the governor earlier this year, also has an ever-developing list of services available to women who decide to keep their babies, from adoption services to diaper banks. . . . 

November 29, 2012 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

National Women’s Law Center Launches Campaign, ‘This Is Personal,’ To Educate About Threats To Reproductive Rights

National Women's Law Center press release: New Campaign Encourages Women to Make Their Voice Heard on Personal Reproductive Health Issues: Image1

Campaign uses social media, satire and celebrities to educate and engage young women on threats to their reproductive health decisions

Washington D.C. – Citing a dramatic increase in legislative attacks on a woman’s ability to make reproductive health decisions, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) today launched This Is Personal,™ an exciting new effort to educate young women about the growing threat to their reproductive health and to encourage women to act to protect it. Supported by a broad range of national organizations, This Is Personal is a nationwide campaign that will leverage the latest trends in social media, paid advertising, and celebrity-driven videos to empower women to take action. . . .

Huffington Post: It's Open Season on Women's Reproductive Health Care, by Marcia D. Greenberger:

Women should be able to make personal medical decisions without interference from politicians or their bosses. It seems obvious, doesn't it? But more and more, you can't open a newspaper or turn on a television without seeing some lawmaker espousing his plan to limit women's access to reproductive health care. It's apparently open season on women's reproductive needs: everything from birth control and abortion to well-woman visits to maternity care, cancer and STI screenings is up for grabs. . . .

October 2, 2012 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexuality Education, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Analyses of Eighth Circuit Decision Upholding S.D. Abortion Law

Here are two excellent analyses of the Eighth Circuit's recent, disturbing en banc opinion upholding the suicide-risk notification provision of South Dakota's so-called "informed consent" abortion law:

Balkinization: Anything Goes: Compelled Physician Speech in the Eighth Circuit, by Jennifer Keighley:

Last week’s en banc decision from the Eighth Circuit on South Dakota’s requirement that physicians inform women seeking abortions that they will be at an “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide,” in the face of medical evidence demonstrating that there is no causal relationship between abortion and suicide, suggests that the Eighth Circuit believes there is virtually no limit on the state’s power to coerce physician speech in connection with an abortion procedure. . . .

RH RealityCheck: Perverting Informed Consent: The South Dakota Court Decision, by Maya Manian:

Informed consent is one of the cornerstones of health-care law and its basic principles have been well-established for decades. Informed consent law reflects the fundamental notion that every competent adult has a right to make the ultimate decisions about her healthcare that will affect her life prospects. A single driving goal animates informed consent law—respect for patient autonomy. Informed consent law preserves patient autonomy by protecting the patient’s bodily integrity and self-determination. . . .

August 2, 2012 in Abortion, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The New York Times on Recent Court Decisions Curtailing Women's Rights

The New York Times (editorial): Three Rulings Against Women’s Rights:

At a time when abortion rights and women’s access to affordable contraception are threatened by political attacks, judges in three newly decided federal cases failed to preserve constitutional protections for women.

On Monday, Judge James Teilborg of the United States District Court in Phoenix upheld an Arizona law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer in April that bans all abortion procedures at 20 weeks from a woman’s last menstrual period, which is about 18 weeks after fertilization. . . .

August 1, 2012 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Contraception, In the Courts, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tracy Thomas on Regulating First-Trimster Abortions

Tracy A. Thomas (University of Akron School of Law) has posted Back to the Future of Regulating Abortion in the First Term on SSRN. Here is the abstract: Image1

In 2011, more abortion bills were passed to restrict abortion than ever before. The proliferation and rate of proposals outpaces anything seen in the last quarter of a century since abortion was legalized in 1973. In what has been called “a year for the record books,” legislatures in all fifty states introduced a total of 1,100 bills resulting in 135 new laws restricting abortion. These laws include fetal pain bans on abortion after 20 weeks, mandatory ultrasound laws, 72-hour waiting periods, and heartbeat bills that ban abortion after 8 weeks. These laws represent an unprecedented seismic shift in the law from moderate regulation to overt hostility. The advent of significantly more stringent limits on abortion seems to blatantly defy the holding of Roe v. Wade permitting abortion in the first trimester. This abortion activism is part of a larger movement against women’s reproductive health that’s been called the “war on women.” These new laws are part of a war over women’s health being fought around the country — and in much of the country women are losing. State by state, legislatures are creating new obstacles to abortions and are treating women in ways that are patronizing and humiliating.

Despite the recent acceleration of abortion regulation, challenges to the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade by early term regulations are nothing new. Even before the dust settled in Roe, states had legislated to whittle away at the right to abortion by implementing obstacles to abortion under the guise of protecting women’s health and ensuring informed consent. This Article goes back to two of these early cases of informed consent abortion regulations in order to provide important context for the current deluge of first-term abortion regulations. It offers a legal history of City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, and Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (Akron II). These two cases, both out of Akron, Ohio, maneuvered the legal boundaries of first-term regulations, with very different results; the first striking down such regulation, while the second upheld limitations on early abortions.

The renewed movement to restrict abortion in the first term resurrects these earlier decisions about abortion informed consent and puts them front and center as the courts will have to shift from considering legislation of late term “partial birth” abortion to early term regulations. This legal history offers insights and analyses gleaned from a review of the historical record found in archives and long-forgotten files in dusty basements. It relies on interviews with key players in the case to fill in the story between the black and white lines of judicial opinions. For the public dispute over abortion in Akron seized the locality while it captured the attention of the national media.

June 24, 2012 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)