Wednesday, October 28, 2015
A woman at fault in a vehicular accident was convicted of second-degree manslaughter for the death of her baby. The baby, still in utero at the time of the crash, was subsequently born and died from the injuries it sustained in the accident. In this case of first impression, the New York Court of Appeals reversed the conviction. The court reasoned that the legislature did not intend the homicide statute to include a pregnant woman criminally responsible for reckless conduct toward her fetus. Judge Eugene Pigott Jr., author of the majority opinion, remarked that the court's decision will create a "perverse incentive" if a woman in similar circumstances decides to forgo a cesarian section to avoid being prosecuted for manslaughter in the event the newborn died. The district attorney is now calling on the legislature to clarify the criminal liability of a pregnant woman where the fetus is born alive but dies from injuries it sustained before birth.
Monday, October 26, 2015
The Hill (Oct. 23, 2015): Why the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Movement Must Be a Moral Movement, by Debra W. Haffner:
A new white paper penned by the Religious Institute urges the inclusion of religious voices in the movement for sexual and reproductive health and justice.
It is time for the public to understand that the sexual and reproductive justice movement is a moral movement. It is time to articulate that having an abortion is a moral decision, and that what is immoral is denying women lifesaving education and health services. That’s the key finding from the latest white paper from the Religious Institute, A Time to Embrace: Why the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Movement Needs Religion, released on October 20, 2015.
The white paper uncovers a “morality/legality divide” in the U.S. that must be actively addressed by articulating the ethical and religious foundations for supporting access to a full range of reproductive health care services. Together, we must shift the cultural conversation from one of judgment to one of empathy, compassion, and affirmation of people’s moral agency.
Friday, October 23, 2015
PoliticoNY (Sept. 30, 2015): City health department takes on reproductive justice framework, by Dan Goldberg:
Recognizing that it matters how we frame our discussions of reproductive health, the City of New York's Department of Health has decided to broaden its reproductive health strategy by embracing a "reproductive justice" perspective.
Reproductive justice, a term that grew out of the mid-1990s women's rights agenda, is a philosophy that says a woman's right and ability to control her body is impacted by social inequities, including racism.
It argues that government has a responsibility not only to ensure that women can decide what to do with their bodies, but also that the conditions are suitable for implementing those decisions.
The move reflects the DiBlasio administration's perspective on health disparities as an issue of both racial and economic inequality. The new lens will influence what the department talks about and whom it engages in conversation about reproductive health. For example, to assist women in maintaining healthy pregnancies and raising healthy infants,
the health department plans to broaden the definition of reproductive health so it takes into account whether women have the social support — health care, housing, financial stability. The conversation can then further expand to violence prevention, maternity care, early childhood development and parental education.
Commissioner Mary Bassett hopes the new framing will help the department reach women of color who distrust government because of its history of advancing racist reproductive health policies.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
New York Times (Oct. 22, 2015): Ohio: Senate Votes to End Funds for Planned Parenthood:
State senators advanced a bill on Wednesday that would eliminate state and federal funding for Planned Parenthood clinics. Ohio is among a string of states to consider cuts in response to undercover videos about the group’s handling of fetal tissue. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 23 to 10 on party lines to advance the measure, which would strip funding from Planned Parenthood clinics in the state and any organization referring patients to them. The vote in Ohio followed one in Texas on Monday to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving state money. A federal judge has blocked an effort to cut Planned Parenthood funding in Louisiana. The Ohio bill was introduced in September after an anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, released secretly recorded videos that it said showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood representatives have said the videos were deceptively edited and have denied wrongdoing, calling the proposed state legislative measures politically motivated. It said this month that it would no longer accept reimbursement for fetal tissue donated for research after abortions.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The New York Times (Oct. 20, 2015): More Sparring over Planned Parenthood Funds:
Texas announced Monday that it was cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood clinics after undercover videos that featured discussions about fetal tissue. The move could lead to a court fight like the one unfolding in neighboring Louisiana, where a federal judge earlier Monday ordered the state to continue Medicaid funding for at least 14 days to Planned Parenthood, which sued after Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican presidential candidate, ordered payments stopped. Texas officials sent a letter to Planned Parenthood affiliates saying the clinics were potentially “liable, directly or by affiliation, for a series of serious Medicaid program violations” highlighted in the videos. Gov. Greg Abbott, also a Republican, ordered an investigation after the footage was released by an anti-abortion group that alleges that Planned Parenthood illegally sold fetal tissue for profit. The agency has denied the accusations, saying the videos were deceptively edited and noting that thousands of women seek other health care services through Medicaid at its clinics.
New York Times (Oct. 16, 2015): Egg Donors Challenge Pay Rates, by Tamar Lewin:
In a federal lawsuit, a group of women are challenging [infertility] industry guidelines that say it is “inappropriate” to pay a woman more than $10,000 for her eggs. The women say the $10,000 limit amounts to illegal price-fixing, and point out that there is no price restriction on the sale of human sperm. A federal judge has certified the claim as a class action.
The crux of the lawsuit is the allegation that infertility clinics have set the price of egg donor services at a low, non-competitive level, in a move that draws infertile couples to infertility clinics. The industry has responded that the guideline aims to protect egg donors and recipients, an arguably procompetitive motive. But as Kimberly Krawiec has pointed out, the evidence in the case seems to point the other way: egg donors could command higher prices in the open market. A cap on the price they can charge diminishes their power in the marketplace.
The lawsuit will likely go to trial next year.
Monday, October 19, 2015
The Local (Oct. 6, 2015): Spanish Lesbian Couple Win Artificial Insemination Case Against Hospital:
A Spanish court has ruled in favour of a lesbian couple who sued local authorities and a hospital who refused them the right to artificial insemination because of their sexual orientation.
The hospital felt bound by a health ministry directive allowing only couples who had tried and failed to have children via sexual intercourse to have access to reproductive assisting services. But the court ruled that Spain's law of assisted reproduction prohibits discrimination and trumps the directive. The women were thus "victims of discrimination" and were entitled to damages.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Recognizing a trend toward increased legal and medical oversight in women's reproductive decision making, What’s the Harm? Understanding Reproductive Injustice will explore overly restrictive reproductive healthcare laws, and reframe the “harm” of these laws by looking at women’s experience with pregnancy, birthing, abortion, access to healthcare, and the criminal justice system. The conference will also interrogate the role of scientific and medical expertise in legislatures and courts.
The conference will be held in the Greenberg Lounge at New York University School of Law, 40 Washington Square South, New York, NY, on Friday, October 30th from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The conference is appropriate for both experienced and newly admitted attorneys. Please contact Rebecca Suldan, Legal Assistant at the Center for Reproductive Rights, for more information and materials. Email email@example.com with the subject line What's the Harm CLE.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
(Guardian, Oct. 14, 2015): Catholic hospital denies Michigan woman treatment on religious grounds, by Ryan Felton:
Weeks after learning she would give birth to her third child, Jessica Mann was faced with a difficult decision: because she was stricken by a life-threatening brain tumor, her doctor recommended she have her fallopian tubes tied at the time of her scheduled cesarean section delivery, later this month.
Mann agreed to undergo the procedure at her hospital to prevent the risk of a future pregnancy exacerbating her tumor. But the hospital, Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, Michigan, declined on religious grounds.
The ACLU has filed a complaint with the Michigan department of licensing and regulatory affairs on Mann's behalf. Ethical and Religious Directives developed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops prohibit facilites from performing tubal ligations. The Directives govern Catholic-sponsored hospitals in the U.S., and according to the ACLU and Mergerwatch as of 2011, one in 10 acute-care hospitals are Catholic sponsored or affiliated. ACLU attorney Brook Tucker state, "As Catholic hospitals become the sole option for more people, as they've merged with secular entities . . . they become more empowered to impose their will on the public because there is no other recourse."
Friday, October 16, 2015
New York Times (Oct. 15, 2015): Abortion at the Supreme Court's Door, by Linda Greenhouse:
In this opinion piece Greenhouses discusses the policy impacts of the Texas TRAP law that is making its way to the Supreme Court and provides a legal analysis of "health-justified" abortion regulations.
Despite a near-universal assumption that the Supreme Court will take up an abortion case in its new term, the general chatter hasn’t included much detail about the specific issue, the stakes or the prospects. This column is an effort to address those questions. The stakes couldn’t be higher, either for women who live in the growing number of states governed by anti-abortion politicians or for the court itself.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Last week, the Nuestro Texas campaign—a joint project of the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health—issued a report documenting a women’s human rights hearing held last March in the Rio Grande Valley. Lately, Texas has made front-page headlines because a challenge to HB 2 a Texas abortion statute is making its way to the Supreme Court. Abortion access was very much an issue at the hearing, but the testimony made it clear that the human rights problems in the Valley are much broader and deeper.
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.
Dorf on Law (Oct. 12, 2015): The Supreme Court Should Grant Cert in the Texas Abortion Case, by Michael Dorf:
Micheal Dorf argues in a recent blog entry that the Supreme Court should grant cert in Whole Women's Health v. Cole. Dorf explains three reasons why the court may not want to grant cert, but he ultimately argues that they should.
In my view, the Court ought to grant cert and, after briefing and argument, reverse. As Linda Greenhouse and Reva Siegel argue persuasively in a forthcoming articlein the Yale Law Journal, the challenged provisions of the Texas law are flatly inconsistent with the fundamental distinction the Supreme Court drew in 1992 inPlanned Parenthood v. Casey when it reaffirmed the “central holding” of Roe v. Wade: Although the Court allowed that laws that aim to inform a woman’s decision whether to have an abortion would be judged under a somewhat looser standard than in the post-Roe pre-Casey era, laws that only impede that decision—as the ambulatory surgical center requirement and the admitting privilege requirement do—are, ipso fact, unconstitutional undue burdens.
Scotus Blog (Oct. 9, 2015): Relist Watch OT2015Edition, by John Elwood:
Currier v. Jackson Women's Health Clinic was one of several cases relisted by the court last week, but a conference has yet to be scheduled.
A challenge to a similar Texas law arrived at the Court in June. The Court issued a stay in that case, Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, 15-274, by a five-to-four vote. The Court likely rescheduled Currier to allow Whole Women’s Health, which is still being briefed, to “catch up.” Since a stay requires a showing of a “reasonable probability” of a cert. grant and a “fair prospect” that a majority of the Court will conclude that the decision below was erroneous, there is a good chance we’ll see a grant of at least one of these cases once all the briefing is in.
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.”
Feministing (Oct. 1, 2015): Badass Young Women with Disabilities Create Sexual Health Guide, by Veronica Bayetti Flores:
What does sexual health look like for young women with disabilities? A group of badass young women of color in Chicago are here to answer that question: they’ve created a sexual health guide for other young women like them.
The Empowered Fe Fes are a young women’s advocacy and peer support group who are truly living into the potential of the reproductive justice framework. Using reproductive justice as a frame, these young women have created a guide for sexual health and self-determination that centers the needs of a community too often overlooked in conversations about sexuality.
Flores explains that the guidebook discusses topics such as visiting doctors offices, mothering with disabilities, and abortion for fetuses that may be born with impairments.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Texas Evaluation Project (Oct. 5, 2015): Wait Time to Obtain an Abortion is Increasing in Texas as Clinics Close:
The amount of time women have to wait before they can get an appointment at an abortion clinic in Texas has increased, according to research performed by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). Wait times have gotten particularly long in Dallas and Ft. Worth after a large-volume clinic closed in June 2015, with women having to wait up to 20 days on average in these cities.
TxPEP is a five year effort to document and analyze the impact of reproductive health measures passed by the 82nd and 83rd Texas Legislature. In addition to reporting current wait times, researchers cautioned that if Texas HB2 goes into effect wait times would become much longer. If wait times exceed 20 days, many women would be pushed from first to second tri-mester abortions, and second term abortions could rise from 6,600 to 12,400.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
Politico (Oct. 2, 2015) Planned Parenthood critics have new targets - universities, by Brett Norman:
Officials of the nation’s leading universities have watched with dread as the fallout from the Planned Parenthood sting videos has threatened to engulf labs that depend on fetal tissue for research.
Now the abortion wars are raging on their doorsteps as lawmakers in Wisconsin and Ohio try to ban such research and other states limit access to the tissue. More than three dozen of the universities, including Harvard, Yale and Johns Hopkins, have been drawn into the fight despite their traditional deep aversion to an issue that can divide faculties and donors and draw the ire of anti-abortion advocates nationwide.
Politico writes that "at least eight states have introduced bills related to fetal tissue since the Planned Parenthood videos began circulating in July, according to the Guttmacher Institute." Fetal tissue experiments are important for vaccine development, developing treatments for many diseases and the study of cognitive disorders and congenital heart defects. Opponents argue that the experiments violate human dignity. Others disagree, Politico quotes Dr. Edward Halperin chancellor and CEO of New York Medical College: "This really isn’t about science. . . . This is really people making a point about abortion and it's outrageous.”
Mother Jones (September/October 2015): The War on Women is Over - And Women Lost by Molly Redden:
This is what 2015 looks like: Abortion providers struggle against overwhelming odds to stay open, while women "turn themselves into pretzels" to get to them, as one researcher put it. Activists have been calling it the "war on women." But the onslaught of new abortion restrictions has been so successful, so strategically designed, and so well coordinated that the war in many places has essentially been lost.
Restrictions on the provision of abortion have closed clinics across the nation and create an ongoing struggle for clinics to remain open. This article discusses how state laws have transformed all facets of how women get abortions and have created severe obstacles to getting one.