Friday, July 4, 2014
Court Issues Order on Contraception Mandate that Reinforces Female Justices' Concerns About Hobby Lobby Ruling's Scope
The New York Times: Birth Control Order Deepens Divide Among Justices, by Adam Liptak:
In a decision that drew an unusually fierce dissent from the three female justices, the Supreme Court sided Thursday with religiously affiliated nonprofit groups in a clash between religious freedom and women’s rights.
The decision temporarily exempts a Christian college from part of the regulations that provide contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. . . .
The reason this order is so frustrating is that Justice Alito's opinion in Hobby Lobby emphasized that its ruling was justified in large measure because the accommodation already provided to certain non-profits could simply be extended to closely held for-profits. In relying on the existing accommodation, the Court implied that the accommodation was constitutionally acceptable. Indeed, the Court dismissed Justice Ginsburg's concerns about the opinion's scope, referring to the existing accommodation for non-profits and saying, "[O]ur holding is very specific." Justice Kennedy in concurrence even felt obliged to issue a separate reassurance: "[I]t should be said that the Court’s opinion does not have the breadth and sweep ascribed to it by the respectful and powerful dissent." Justice Kennedy pointed out that "there is an existing, recognized, workable, and already-implemented framework to provide coverage" and "[t]hat accommodation equally furthers the Government’s interest but does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious beliefs" (emphasis added). The majority itself assured that the goverment's accommodation "does not impinge on the plaintiffs’ religious belief that providing insurance coverage for the contraceptives at issue here violates their religion."
There was a clue, however, in the majority's opinion, that left Justice Ginsburg and others concerned as to whether the Court was sincere in suggesting it would ultimately find the existing accommodation adequate. The Court noted, "We do not decide today whether an approach of this type complies with RFRA for purposes of all religious claims," referring to Little Sisters of the Poor, a case in which the Court issued a previous order addressing the accommodation as applied to a non-profit entity. This caveat, buried in an opinion full of reassurances about the decision's narrow scope, coupled with today's order supports Justice Ginsburg's concern that the true implications of Hobby Lobby are broad and as yet unclear.
Monday, June 30, 2014
The Washington Post - WonkBlog: The 49-page Supreme Court Hobby Lobby ruling mentioned women just 13 times, by Emily Badger:
. . . Th[e] idea — that women's reproductive well-being is vital to both their personal prospects and the country's fortunes — runs throughout Ginsburg's dissent. It is notably absent from Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion. . . .
Concurring Opinions: Nine Comments on McCullen, the Abortion Buffer Zone Case, by Ronald K.L. Collins:
I thought it might be interesting to share excerpts from some of the commentary on McCullen v. Coakley. Here are 9 views on the case. . . .
Here is the link to UltraViolet's Twitter Q&A on Hobby Lobby, which I participated in this morning.
The effects of Hobby Lobby decision are already being felt in the non-profit context, with the 11th Circuit enjoining the government, pending appeal, from enforcing the contraception rule against Eternal Word Television Network, a tax-exempt non-profit organization, "[i]n light of the Supreme Court's decision today" in Hobby Lobby. Also, via Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog: "Over the dissents of two Justices, the Supreme Court on Monday evening temporarily barred enforcement of the birth-control mandate against Wheaton College, a non-profit religious institution in Illinois."
Justice Alito wrote the opinion. There are qualifications to the Court's ruling. It appears to be limited to closely held corporations and to contraception, for example. SCOTUSblog is live blogging the decision here. The opinion is available here. I will be participating in a Twitter chat hosted by UltraViolet to answer questions about the opinion.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
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. . . .
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The Washington Post: Awaiting Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, public favors contraception mandate, by Cathy Lynn Grossman:
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to finally issue its ruling this week in the highly anticipated case of the craft companies vs. Obamacare. . . .
But to the general public, this is seen as a showdown between employers — the evangelical Green family behind Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite Hahn family that owns the Conestoga cabinet company — and the employees’ personal reproductive choices under their insurance. . . .
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. . . .
Monday, June 23, 2014
Louisiana Faces Reproductive Health Care Crisis Even As It Continues Continues To Enact Anti-Choice Laws
RH Reality Check: In Louisiana, a New Law, and a Worsening Reproductive Health-Care Crisis, by Teddy Wilson:
It’s a muggy late May morning in New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood, and dozens of area residents are lined up in the rain for a health-care fair at the Rosa Keller Library and Community Center. For many of the people who live in Broadmoor—a predominantly low-income community of color—this is their only access to health care. . . .
The Columbus Dispatch: Abortion Battles May Increase in Ohio, by Kristen Mitchell:
Anti-abortion-rights activists in Ohio are working on a legislative agenda for 2015 that could continue to chip away at access to abortion.
Already this year, one clinic is in danger of closing because of a provision in last year’s budget and three others face the same outcome. In addition, legislation regulating how abortions are paid for has been introduced. . . .
The Huffington Post/Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Wisconsin Abortion Case, by Lawrence Hurley:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to intervene in the legal fight over a new Wisconsin law that requires any doctor performing an abortion to have privileges to admit patients to a nearby hospital.
The justices turned away the state's appeal of a December 2013 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a federal judge's decision to block the law temporarily. . . .
Jezebel: Awful Law Would Force Brain Dead Pregnant Women to Incubate Fetuses, by Erin Gloria Ryan:
A new law waiting to be signed into law by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal would require that pregnant and brain dead women be kept on life support, regardless of the stated wishes of her family. If the pro-life crowd is trying to disprove accusations that they only care about women to the extent that they are incubators for fetuses, they're not doing a great job. . . .
According to MSNBC's Clare Kim, the HR 1274, which easily sailed through Louisiana's conservative state legislature last week, would require that pregnant women who become mentally incapacitated remain attached to life support, even if her husband or family members would like her to be unplugged and allowed to die. The only exceptions to this rule are if a woman explicitly wrote in her legal will that she doesn't wish to be artificially kept alive if pregnant and incapacitated, or if she's less than 20 weeks pregnant. Conservative governor and IRL Kenneth the Page Bobby Jindal is likely to sign the bill into law; yesterday, he decided that a Baptist church was an appropriate setting in which to sign a law that will close many of the state's abortion clinics. . . .
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The Globe and Mail: Trudeau now says all Liberal MPs must vote pro-choice, by Daniel LeBlanc:
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has clarified his party’s pro-choice policy after at least one sitting MP felt he was “grand-fathered” and could continue to vote against abortion rights in Canada. . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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." . . .
CNN: Time-lapse video reveals secret life of an embryo, helps women conceive, by Kieron Monks & Samantha Bresnahan:
It is estimated that around one in four couples around the world have trouble conceiving. For a small proportion of them, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a technology that can restore the dream of parenthood.
IVF is the fertilization of an egg by sperm outside the body, where it is cultivated in a lab environment, and if an embryo results it is implanted into the mother's womb. Now the chances of IVF treatment being successful are being boosted by a machine called the Embryoscope. . . .
The commonly accepted practice of selecting only certain embryos for implantation in IVF illustrates that most do not believe embryos have the moral status of persons.
ThinkProgress: Want To Understand Why Abortion Clinics Are Disappearing? Look No Further Than Ohio, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
This week, Ohio moved closer to shutting down the last abortion clinic in Toledo, the latest installment in a yearlong battle over a harsh new law that’s threatening clinics across the state. If state officials are eventually successful in what anti-choice activists refer to as an “incremental strategy” to end women’s access to legal abortion, the women who live in the northwestern area of Ohio will quickly run out of options. . . .
NPR: 6 Questions About Contraception Coverage And The Supreme Court, by Julie Rovner:
One of the most watched issues before the Supreme Court this term may turn on the question of religious freedom. But it will also likely determine how women will be able to access a key provision of the Affordable Care Act – one seeking to guarantee no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance plans.
The justices' ruling on Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v. Sebelius, two cases that are being considered together, is expected by the end of this month. The court will decide whether those companies, and potentially all other for-profit companies, must abide by the so-called contraceptive mandate. It's a complicated legal thicket, so here is some background. . . .
The Texas Tribune: 2 Abortion Doctors Settle Suit Over Revoked Privileges, by Becca Aaronson & Alexa Ura:
Two Texas abortion doctors who filed a lawsuit against a Dallas hospital after losing their admitting privileges have settled their case with the hospital, which will reinstate their privileges. . . .
In April, Lamar Robinson, owner of Abortion Advantage, and Jasbir Ahluwalia, the medical director of Routh Street Women’s Clinic, said they received letters from University General Hospital in Dallas revoking their admitting privileges at the hospital after anti-abortion protesters targeted the hospital. . . .
With their admitting privileges to the hospital in place, the two doctors will be able to continue providing abortion services at clinics within 30 miles of the hospital in compliance with new abortion regulations passed last summer by the Republican-led Texas Legislature. . . .
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Think Progress: South Carolina Law Makers Buck the Trend and Give up on Attacking Abortion Rights, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
As harsh abortion clinic restrictions spread across the South, threatening to leave a large swath of the country without access to reproductive health services, one state is bucking the trend. Lawmakers in South Carolina concluded their legislative session this week without passing measures to further restrict abortion rights. . . .
This year, the South Carolina legislature was considering two of the most popular pieces of legislation to limit access to abortion: a bill to criminalize the procedure after 20 weeks and a bill to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges form local hospitals. On top of that, some lawmakers were pushing extreme measures that could have defined life as beginning at conception. But none of those bills made it to the governor’s desk — giving women’s health groups cause for celebration. . . .