Saturday, March 15, 2014
Michigan Law Takes Effect Requiring Women To Purchase Separate Insurance for Abortions -- Even for Rape and Incest
The Huffington Post: Michigan's 'Rape Insurance' Abortion Rider Law Goes Into Effect Today, by Ashley Young:
Starting Thursday in Michigan, a woman must purchase an additional insurance policy if she wants reimbursement for an abortion, unless her life is at stake.
The new law drops coverage of most abortions from existing policies -- even to terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. Women who buy their own individual policies, rather than getting coverage through an employer-based plan, won't be able to purchase the additional coverage, called an abortion rider, from Michigan insurers. . . .
Reuters: Federal judge strikes down Arkansas early abortion ban, by Steve Barnes:
A federal judge on Friday struck down an Arkansas law that would ban most abortions starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy, one of the most restrictive such statutes enacted in the United States, declaring the measure unconstitutional. . . .
The Wall Street Journal - Washington Wire blog: WSJ Poll: Majority Agree With Obamacare Contraception Rule, by Louise Radnofsky:
A majority of Americans side with the Obama administration in saying that most employers should be required to include contraception coverage in workers’ health plans even if the business owners have moral objections.
An NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll found 53% of Americans believed that employers who opposed the use of birth control should not be exempt from the coverage requirement in the 2010 federal health law. Some 41% said employers who had objections should have the same exemption as religious organizations. Around 6% said they were not sure. . . .
Monday, March 10, 2014
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. . . .
Sunday, March 9, 2014
The Independent: Spaniards take to the streets in protest over new abortion laws, by Alasdair Fotheringham:
Thousands of protesters marched through central Madrid and other major cities in Spain yesterday in the latest wave of demonstrations against controversial proposed reforms of the country's abortion laws.
Yesterday's International Women's Day gave fresh impetus to the protests against changes to abortion laws. Some 80 per cent of Spaniards are opposed to any changes to abortion laws, according to polls. . . .
Friday, March 7, 2014
live.science: Free Birth Control Has Little Effect on Women's Sexual Behavior, Study Suggests, by Cari Nierenberg:
Offering free contraception to women and teenage girls does not cause them to increase their risky sexual behavior over time, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that after receiving free birth control, most women reported no change in their number of sexual partners, and only a modest increase in sex frequency, from an average of four times a month before getting free birth control to six times a month after receiving it. . . .
Rio Grande Valley in South Texas Now Without Abortion Providers After Two More Clinics Shut Down in Wake of New Law
The New York Times: Abortion Law Pushes Texas Clinics to Close Doors, by Manny Fernandez:
Shortly before a candlelight vigil on the sidewalk outside, employees of the last abortion clinic in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas shut the doors early Thursday evening, making legal abortion unavailable in the poorest part of the state in the wake of tough new restrictions passed last year by the Texas Legislature. . . .
See also: CBS: 400-mile stretch of Texas now without an abortion clinic
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Incredibly, the 6-week ban passed the house 73-29:
WSFA: Alabama House passes 4 abortion bills:
Four abortion bills are headed to the Alabama Senate after being approved by the Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday.
House representatives voted to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Both sides of the abortion debate agree the proposal could end up banning most abortions. . . .
Monday, March 3, 2014
SCOTUSblog: Accomodations, Religious Freedom, and the Hobby Lobby Case, by Rick Garnett:
Every law student learns and every lawyer knows that there is more to “doing law” than simply looking up or even arguing for the right answers. It also involves identifying the questions that need answering. This is one reason why law-school examinations so often ask students to “spot the issues” that are presented, or hidden, in complicated and sometimes bizarre hypotheticals, stories, and narratives. . . .
SCOTUSblog: Under a Straight-forward Reading of Constitutional Text and History and Fundamentals of Corportate Law, Hobby Lobby's Claims Fails, by Elizabeth Wydra:
Superstar Supreme Court lawyer Paul Clement starts his brief on behalf of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and its individual owners, the Green family, with a rather remarkable assertion: that this case “is one of the most straight-forward violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” Someone like Clement can get away with breaking one of the basic rules of legal advocacy – one is generally not supposed to tell the Court that it is reviewing “an easy case,” since such a legal cakewalk probably wouldn’t require the rare attention of the High Court. But Clement’s assertion is nonetheless wrong. To the contrary, it’s — dare I say — easy to show that this case is far from easy for Hobby Lobby to win. . . .
SCOTUSblog: Mandates Make Martyrs Out of Corporate Owners, by Ilya Shapiro:
Should some people be exempt from laws that generally apply to everyone but infringe on sincerely held religious beliefs? If so, doesn’t that privilege believers over nonbelievers, and indeed pick and choose among religious tenets to determine which merit accommodation? Does it matter if the religious belief in question relates strictly to worship or is tied to an otherwise secular mission, such as the provision of education or social-welfare services? What about commercial activity, and do the legal forms in which that activity is pursued matter? These are some of the thorny questions that arise when a pluralistic society tries to reconcile the rule of law with religious liberty. . . .
Other pieces in the symposium can be accessed here.
The New York Times - opinion column: Arizona Did Us All a Favor, by Timothy Egan:
YOU’RE a fundamentalist Mormon — that is, the breakaway sect, not recognized by the main church, with a scary compound in Northern Arizona. Women wear long prairie dresses, men rule with an iron fist. You believe in a host of things that violate civil and even criminal law. But your beliefs are “sincerely held.” They come directly from God.
Until Gov. Jan Brewer joined the avalanche of sanity and vetoed Arizona’s so-called religious liberty bill, you may have found some protection in the law. The bill was a green light for bigotry. And indeed, the measure gave those with “sincerely held” religious beliefs the right to refuse service to perceived sinners.
But if you drill down on the logic that all but three of the state’s House Republican legislators tried to enshrine into law, you see a very un-American tenet at work — far beyond the implications for gays and lesbians. You can follow this strain of reasoning up to a pivotal case that will be heard later this month by the Supreme Court. . . .
Sunday, March 2, 2014
NPR - Parallels blog: Anti-Abortion Push Has Spain Debating Definition Of 'Progress,' by Lauren Frayer:
. . . The Spanish government is on its way to creating one of the toughest abortion laws in Europe — a near-total ban, except in cases of rape or grave risk to the mother's health. Serious birth defects will no longer be grounds for terminating a pregnancy.
In Europe, only the tiny island nation of Malta has a complete ban on abortion. . . .
Listen to the story here.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
If the Arizona Anti-Gay Bill Is Unacceptable, Why Should Corporations Be Given a License to Discriminate Against Women by Refusing to Comply with the Contraceptive Coverage Rule?
If the Supreme Court Justices need a real-life example of the slippery slope they are in danger of inviting by allowing corporations to refuse, on religious grounds, to comply with the contraception rule under the Affordable Care Act, they need look no further than Arizona.
The Huffington Post - The Blog: What Do Arizona's Anti-LGBT Bill and the Supreme Court Birth Control Cases Have in Common? They're Not About Religious Liberty, by Cecile Richards:
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was right to veto an extreme bill that would have allowed companies to refuse service to a wide range of people. This bill was absolutely unacceptable -- and people all over the country and across the political spectrum breathed a sigh of relief when Brewer stopped it from becoming law.
The personal beliefs of any business owner should not give them a free pass to discriminate against anyone -- whether it's lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender patrons who want to shop at their store or female employees who are legally entitled to birth control coverage under the law.
But this didn't start with Arizona, and it won't end with Arizona. This most recent legislation is part of an orchestrated and radical effort to extend religious liberties to corporations -- to treat private businesses like churches under the law, by giving them the right to refuse services, deny health care coverage, and discriminate against people. . . .
Study Finds that Men's "Biological Clock" Means Higher Risk of Mental Illness in Children Born to Older Fathers
The New York Times: Mental Illness Risk Higher for Children of Older Fathers, Study Finds, by Benedict Carey:
Children born to middle-aged men are more likely than those born to younger fathers to develop any of a range of mental difficulties, including attention deficits, bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia, according to the most comprehensive study to date of paternal age and offspring mental health. . . .
. . . Men have a biological clock of sorts because of random mutations in sperm over time, the report suggests, and the risks associated with later fatherhood may be higher than previously thought. The findings were published on Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. . . .
The Los Angeles Times: Study calls DNA test reliable in discovering fetal disorders, by Monte Morin:
The screening more accurately identifies likely cases of genetic disorders caused by extra chromosomes, like Down syndrome, in a study of low-risk pregnant women.
It's billed as a faster, safer and more accurate way of screening expectant mothers for fetal abnormalities like Down syndrome, and proponents say it has already become the standard for prenatal care.
But as a handful of California companies market their DNA-testing services to a growing number of pregnant women, some experts complain that the tests have not been proven effective in the kind of rigorous clinical trials that are required of new drugs.
Now, a study published Wednesday by the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has verified that one of the tests can identify likely cases of Down syndrome and other genetic disorders caused by extra chromosomes in low-risk women with greater reliability than traditional noninvasive screening methods. . . .
Gov. Brewer Vetoes Offensive Arizona Bill Sanctioning Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians, But Abortion Seen as Fair Game
The New York Times: Day After Governor’s Veto, Arizona Takes Up Abortion Clinics, by Fernanda Santos:
A day after being reprimanded by Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, for failing to heed her call for action on the budget and the state’s child welfare agency, Arizona’s Republican-led House of Representatives promptly took up a new piece of social legislation on Thursday that would permit the surprise inspection of abortion clinics in the state.
The measure, which would also require the clinics to report “whenever an infant is born alive after a botched abortion,” was championed by the Center for Arizona Policy, the same powerful Evangelical Christian group that pushed a bill Ms. Brewer vetoed on Wednesday that would have made it easier for businesses to refuse service to gay men, lesbians and other people on religious grounds. . . .
The New York Times -- opinion column: Arizona Sort of Helps Out, by Gail Collins:
It’s been quite a week in Arizona. First, the Legislature passed a bill that, in effect, gave businesses the right to discriminate against gay couples. The state’s actual business community was horrified. Everybody from Mitt Romney to Newt Gingrich was ticked off.
Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed the bill, pointing out acerbically that the lawmakers had not managed to send her anything whatsoever on critical issues — like, say, the budget — while they labored with remarkable efficiency on behalf of theologically troubled wedding photographers.
Chastened, the very same elected officials trotted back to their posts and immediately took up the subject of surprise inspections of abortion clinics. . . .
Thursday, February 27, 2014
ThinkProgress: Meet The Lawmaker Who’s Trying To End Abortion In Alabama, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
On Tuesday, a panel of Alabama lawmakers advanced four stringent anti-abortion bills that would prevent women in the state from exercising their reproductive rights. The proposed legislation would ban abortions after just six weeks; force women to wait 48 hours before getting an abortion; make it more difficult for minors to end an unwanted pregnancy; and impose more emotional trauma on women who choose to have an abortion after discovering lethal fetal abnormalities. . . .
State officials are already warning that the heartbeat bill will provoke an immediate legal challenge. But the lawmaker who proposed the six-week abortion ban, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), is unperturbed. “I’m not really concerned about the challenges. We’ve had challenges before. We wouldn’t have some of the things we have now if it hadn’t been for Brown versus Board of Education,” McClurkin told a local ABC News affiliate, referring to the landmark court ruling that desegregated schools. . . .
Rolling Stone: The Seven Most Common Lies About Abortion, by Lauren Rankin:
Debunking anti-choice misinformation about women's health
Chances are, you know someone who has had an abortion. Statistically, it's a near-certainty: In the U.S., one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45. But despite how incredibly common abortion is, it remains mired in stigma and misinformation. Much of what we may think we know about this subject is actually outright lies told by abortion opponents to dissuade women out of seeking safe and legal abortion care. . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Anibel Faundes, et al., have posted Brazilians Have Different Views on When Abortion Should Be Legal, But Most Do Not Agree with Imprisoning Women for Abortion on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Unsafe abortions remain a major public health problem in countries with very restrictive abortion laws. In Brazil, parliamentarians − who have the power to change the law − are influenced by “public opinion”, often obtained through surveys and opinion polls. This paper presents the findings from two studies. One was carried out in February–December 2010 among 1,660 public servants and the other in February–July 2011 with 874 medical students from three medical schools, both in São Paulo State, Brazil. Both groups of respondents were asked two sets of questions to obtain their opinion about abortion: 1) under which circumstances abortion should be permitted by law, and 2) whether or not women in general and women they knew who had had an abortion should be punished with prison, as Brazilian law mandates. The differences in their answers were enormous: the majority of respondents were against putting women who have had abortions in prison. Almost 60% of civil servants and 25% of medical students knew at least one woman who had had an illegal abortion; 85% of medical students and 83% of civil servants thought this person(s) should not be jailed. Brazilian parliamentarians who are currently reviewing a reform in the Penal Code need to have this information urgently. . . .
Feministing: Mother Charged With a Felony for Helping her Daughter Order Illegal Abortion Drugs Online, by Maya Dusenbery:
Well well well. The anti-choice claim that criminalizing abortion won’t lead to people being thrown in jail for ending their pregnancies is becoming harder to sustain. These days, even mothers who help their daughters get the abortions they want can be charged. . . .
MSNBC.com: Gender-based abortion ban gets green light, by Traci G. Lee:
The South Dakota House approved a bill last week that would make gender-based abortions illegal in response to concerns that families around the world value males over females.
House Bill 1162 would “prohibit the practice of sex-selective abortions” in South Dakota, adding further restrictions to the state’s restrictive abortion laws. As Mother Jones reported Tuesday, HB 1162 passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 60 to 10, paving the way for South Dakota to become the eighth state in the country to ban sex-selective abortions. . . .