Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Anti-Choice Group Offers Experimental "Abortion Reversal" Treatment

Bustle: An Anti-Choice Group Is Pushing "Abortion Reversal" Treatment, And It's Alarming To Say The Least, by Jessica Blankenship:

In Bettendorf, Iowa, an anti-choice advocacy group is offering women an “abortion reversal” using an experimental treatment about which little is known, and it’s all decidedly suspect and troubling. The Women’s Choice Center (which is, to reiterate, is run by a pro-life/anti-choice group) is now promoting what they’re touting as a chance for women who are in the middle of a medical abortion the chance to “unabort” their pregnancies. The major problem with this is that the therapy hasn’t really been tested, and the entire procedure just generally feels problematic all around: imploring women to undergo experimental-at-best, hormone-altering treatments, underscored, obviously, by an anti-choice agenda. 

Here’s how this whole thing, more or less, supposedly works . . . .

December 8, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Medical News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Some Good News on Reproductive Freedom You May Have Missed

ThinkProgress: 7 Victories For Reproductive Freedom You May Not Realize Happened This Year, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

There’s no question that 2014 has been a difficult year for the reproductive rights community. The Supreme Court ruled against pro-choice groups in the Hobby Lobby and abortion clinic buffer zone cases, and the midterm elections brought a wave of GOP victories at the state and national level that will surely result in even more anti-choice legislation next session.

It’s easy to feel like everything is hopeless. But there were also a few bright spots this year. 2014 brought several examples of progress when it comes to protecting and upholding reproductive rights, and pro-choice groups say they’ve been laying important groundwork for a new, proactive approach in this area moving forward.

Here are some pieces of good news you may have missed . . . .

December 8, 2014 in Abortion, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

ACLU Files Suit on Behalf of Woman Fired for Requesting Breaks to Pump Breast Milk

ACLU press release: ACLU Files Suit on Behalf of Mother Fired for Breastfeeding at Work:

DENVER – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit yesterday on behalf of Ashley Provino, a Grand Junction, Colo. woman who was fired from her job, in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, for asserting her right to pump breast milk at work.

Provino, a new mother, requested permission from her employer, Big League Haircuts, to take a short break every four hours in the back room of the hair salon to express breast milk, as is her right under state and federal law.  The company denied Provino’s request and cut her hours dramatically. When Provino requested to be returned to a full-time schedule with breaks so she could pump breast milk and continue breastfeeding her child, she was fired.

Colorado’s Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers Act, passed by the state legislature in 2008, unequivocally recognizes the societal and health benefits of breastfeeding and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to allow new mothers to express milk at work. The ACLU complaint invokes the 2008 statute, as well as federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination, pregnancy discrimination and retaliation for protesting such discrimination.

“The recently enacted laws guaranteeing the right to pump at work are designed to make sure that women like Ashley Provino can do what they believe and what medical professionals agree is best for their babies, while still keeping their jobs,” said Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “No woman should face retaliation for asserting her rights under these laws.”

Women who breastfeed must pump milk regularly throughout the day to ensure that they will keep lactating. A broad consensus exists among medical and public health experts that breastfeeding is optimal for infants for a year (or longer) following birth, and that breastfeeding has broad developmental, psychological, social, economic and environmental benefits.

“Discrimination against breastfeeding mothers in the workplace is not only illegal, it is also bad for Colorado families and businesses, because it forces women out of the workplace,” said ACLU of Colorado cooperating attorney Paula Greisen of King Greisen LLP. 

In September 2012, the ACLU of Colorado and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project successfully negotiated a settlement with a Jefferson County charter school on behalf of Heather Burgbacher, a teacher who lost her job after she requested accommodations to express breast milk at work.  The ACLU of Colorado also worked with DISH Network earlier this year to vastly improve accommodations for nursing mothers at the company’s corporate headquarters in Englewood following complaints from employees that the conditions provided by the company lacked adequate space and privacy.

The complaint is available at:
http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Provino-Complaint-and-Jury-Demand.pdf

More information on this case is available at:
https://www.aclu.org/womens-rights/provino-v-muster-inc

December 7, 2014 in In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Family Behind Oriéntame, a Network of Reproductive Health Clincis in Latin America

Mother Jones: Meet the Family Behind Latin America's Version of Planned Parenthood, by Maddie Oatman:

People in the United States have been going to Planned Parenthood for nearly a century, ever since Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916. But it wasn't until 1977, after the US had already celebrated Roe v. Wade, that Colombian women had any equivalent organization to turn to. That was the year Dr. Jorge Villarreal started Oriéntame, a women's reproductive health clinic now credited with inspiring more than 600 outposts across Latin America "and for reshaping abortion politics across the continent," writes Joshua Lang in a story about the Villarreal family, out today in California Sunday. . . .

December 6, 2014 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 5, 2014

ThinkProgress Investigates Influence of Americans United for Life on State Legislatures

ThinkProgress: Inside The Highly Sophisticated Group That’s Quietly Making It Much Harder To Get An Abortion, by Erica Hellerstein:

. . . Not unlike the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), AUL functions as de facto legislation mill for like-minded politicians and on-the-ground anti-abortion activist groups — offering model legislation that, according to itswebsite, “enables legislators to easily introduce bills without needing to research and write the bills themselves.” The organization operates in relative obscurity despite its exceptionally far reach. According to an email obtained by ThinkProgress that was sent to AUL supporters, the group is responsible for one third (74) of the 200-plus anti-abortion laws that have passed since 2010. . . .

December 5, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 1, 2014

LA Times Op-Ed on TRAP Laws

The Los Angeles Times op-ed: 'TRAP laws' are a threat in disguise to abortion rights, by Caitlin Borgmann:

Last month, ballot measures that would have given embryos the legal rights of persons were decisively rejected in Colorado and North Dakota. The defeats were hailed as a victory for defenders of the right to legal abortion. But such measures serve as a distraction from a far bigger threat to abortion rights from onerous rules known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or "TRAP laws." . . .

December 1, 2014 in Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments This Week in Pregnancy Discrimination Case Against UPS

The Washington Post: Former UPS driver at center of pregnancy discrimination case before Supreme Court, by Brigid Schulte:

Peggy Young didn’t want to become a national icon for pregnant workers. She never imagined she would be at the center of a Supreme Court case that has united every major women’s rights organization on the left with major anti-abortion rights groups on the right. . . .

________________________________

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Young v. United Parcel Service this Wednesday, Dec. 3.

December 1, 2014 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Should Single-Embryo Transfer Be the Standard of Care for IVF?

Newsweek: Twins: The Fetal Paradox, by Amy Klein:

In 2004, Danielle Decrette went in for in vitro fertilization. It wasn’t her first time—she and her husband had a 3-year-old daughter conceived through IVF—and she knew what she was getting into. Just as he had four years before, Decrette’s doctor stimulated her with hormones, extracted her eggs from her ovaries, fertilized them with sperm in the lab and placed the resulting embryo in her uterus. But this time the process failed. So the doctor decided to transfer two embryos in the next round to increase her odds of getting pregnant.

“You know you could have twins,” the doctor warned her before the procedure. . . .

That was 10 years ago. Today, fertility doctors would almost certainly have pushed her away from the idea of a two-embryo implant . . . .

November 29, 2014 in Assisted Reproduction, Fertility | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Phoenix School Board Votes to Remove Pages from Biology Textbook Discussing STDs, Contraception, and Abortion

The New York Times: In Arizona, a Textbook Fuels a Broader Dispute Over Sex Education, by Rick Rojas:

The textbook, the one with the wide-eyed lemur peering off the cover, has been handed out for years to students in honors biology classes at the high schools here, offering lessons on bread-and-butter subjects like mitosis and meiosis, photosynthesis and anatomy.

But now, the school board in this suburb of Phoenix has voted to excise or redact two pages deep inside the book — 544 and 545 — because they discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, including mifepristone, a drug that can be used to prevent or halt a pregnancy. . . .

November 29, 2014 in Abortion, Contraception, Sexuality Education, Sexually Transmitted Disease, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Wake of Forced Clinic Closures, Activists Raise Funds to Help Low-Income Women Travel for Abortions

The New York Times: Activists Help Pay for Patients’ Travel to Shrinking Number of Abortion Clinics, by Jackie Calmes:

The young woman lived in Dallas, 650 miles from Albuquerque, but that was where she would have to go for an abortion, she was told. New state regulations had forced several of Dallas’s six abortion clinics to close, creating weekslong waiting lists. By the time the woman could get in, she would be up against the Texas ban on abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation.

But she could not afford the trip to New Mexico.

So it was that she had left a phone message with a hotline in Austin and, on a recent evening, heard back from Lenzi Sheible, the 20-year-old founder of a fund to help low-income women pay the unexpected costs of traveling for abortions in Texas — or to states beyond. . . .

November 29, 2014 in Abortion, Poverty, Pro-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Republican Gains in November Elections Portend More Abortion Restrictions

Politico: The coming wave of anti-abortion laws, by Paige Winfield Cunningham:

New GOP state legislatures will make access to abortion harder than ever.

The big Republican gains in the November elections strengthened and enlarged the anti-abortion forces in the House and the Senate. But it’s the GOP victories in the statehouses and governor’s mansions that are priming the ground for another round of legal restrictions on abortion. . . .

November 29, 2014 in Abortion, Politics, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Maya Manian on Criminal Prosecutions of Pregnant Women

HealthLawProf Blog: Guest Blogger Professor Maya Manian: The Criminalization of Pregnant Women:

In a recent New York Times editorial, Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin bring to light the chilling reality of the criminalization of pregnant women in the United States. Stories of prosecutions of pregnant women in other countries, such as El Salvador, have received significant attention. Yet, similar stories within our own borders remain under the radar even while we constantly debate the issue of abortion.

As Paltrow and Flavin point out, the push to restrict women’s access to abortion and expand rights for fetuses impacts more than just those women specifically seeking abortion care. Anti-abortion measures threaten the rights of all pregnant women, even those who want to be pregnant. As Paltrow and Flavin’s peer-reviewed study on criminal prosecutions of pregnant women demonstrates, prosecutors and judges have relied on anti-abortion reasoning to arrest, detain, and force medical treatment on pregnant women who suffered from miscarriages, depression, or simply wanted to make their own medical decisions about how to proceed with childbirth.

Although many of the women in the cases described by Paltrow and Flavin were not seeking abortion care, the criminalization of pregnant women who seek to self-abort appears to be an increasing threat.  . . .

November 23, 2014 in Abortion, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fifth Circuit Denies En Banc Review of Decision Blocking Mississippi's Admitting Privileges Law

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger: 5th Circuit refuses to reconsider Mississippi's abortion law, by Jimmie E. Gates:

The full 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has refused to reconsider a ruling blocking Mississippi from enforcing a law requiring doctors who perform abortions in the state to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

In late July, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the law is unconstitutional because it would close Mississippi's only abortion clinic. . . .

___________________________________________________

The panel decision was notable for ruling that a state may not rely on the availability of abortion in neighboring states in arguing that its own restrictions do not impose an undue burden.  In this case, the admitting privileges law threatened to shut down Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic. Professor Jonathan Will and I exchanged views on the panel decision in August.

-CEB

November 20, 2014 in In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Shoddy "Factfinding" on Abortion Is Pervasive in State Legislatures, and Often Finds Its Way to the Courts

RH Reality Check: How Shoddy Evidence Finds Its Way From State Legislatures to the U.S. Supreme Court, by Sharona Coutts & Sofia Resnick:

If you were a South Dakota legislator looking for expert evidence on how abortion affects women, the obvious choice would be an electrical engineer based in Illinois.

Right?

It may sound absurd, but that is precisely who lawmakers cited in 2005, when they gathered testimony for a report by the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion. . . .

It’s a pattern that is all too familiar in state legislators around the United States, said Caitlin Borgmann, a law professor at the City University of New York who is an expert in the role of courts and legislatures in protecting constitutional rights. . . .

Check out RH Reality Check's False Witnesses Gallery:

Each member of the False Witnesses gallery has pushed false information designed to mislead the public, lawmakers, and the courts about abortion. RH Reality Check analyzed scores of public records, contracts, public statements, and research articles, and identified their key falsehoods in order to set the record straight. . . .

November 20, 2014 in Abortion, In the Courts, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Katha Pollitt Debunks Abortion Myths

TIME: 6 Myths About Abortion, by Katha Pollitt:

1. The Bible forbids abortion.

It shouldn’t matter what the Bible says about abortion. The United States is not a theocracy. Still, given the certitude of abortion opponents that abortion violates God’s Word, it might come as a surprise that neither the Old Testament nor the New mentions abortion—not one word. . . .

November 13, 2014 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Surgeon Is Arrested in Deaths of a Dozen Women in India Who Underwent Sterilization Operations

The New York Times: Post-Mortems of Victims Point to Tainted Medication in India Sterilization Deaths, by Suhasini Raj & Ellen Barry: 

Post-mortem examinations of several women who died after surgery at a government sterilization camp last weekend in central Indiasuggest that tainted medications might be to blame, rather than the unsanitary conditions or the assembly-line haste of the operations, a district medical officer said Thursday.

Initially, health officials suspected that 12 women succumbed to septic shock from infections contracted during their tubal ligation operations on Saturday, in the state of Chhattisgarh. The surgeon who operated on most of them, Dr. R. K. Gupta, was arrested on Wednesday on charges of culpable homicide. . . .

CNN: Surgeon tied to India sterilization deaths arrested, by Paul Armstrong, Sania Farooqui & Greg Botelho: 

A surgeon has been arrested on charges of negligence and attempted culpable homicide in the deaths of a dozen women who had undergone sterilization operations at a mobile clinic in one of India's poorest states. . . .

See also: The Washington Post: Deaths shine light on ‘horrible’ conditions in India’s mass sterilization camps, by Annie Gowan

November 13, 2014 in International, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Assessing the Impact of the November Elections on Reproductive Rights

NPR: Two Of Three States Reject Ballot Measures Restricting Abortion, by Jennifer Ludden:

Amid all the shakeout from this week's midterm elections, many are trying to assess the impact on abortion.

Two abortion-related ballot measures were soundly defeated. A third passed easily. And those favoring restrictions on abortion will have a much bigger voice in the new Congress. . . .

The Los Angeles Times: On abortion, election delivered mixed messages, by Maria La Ganga:

The 2014 midterm election was a mixed bag for abortion rights supporters: Two out of three state ballot measures that would have regulated the procedure went down to defeat, but control of the U.S. Senate swung to the Republican Party, with its antiabortion candidates claiming victory.

"It is a happy day for us, a great day for pro-lifers," said Marilyn Musgrave, vice president for government affairs with the Susan B. Anthony List, which advocates for female antiabortion candidates. "The life issue won." . . .

Mother Jones: The Fight for Abortion Rights Just Got a Whole Lot Harder, by Molly Redden:

Activists thought they had a chance to expand reproductive rights. The Red Wave put an end to that

The GOP wave didn't just crash into the US Senate. It flooded state legislatures, as well. By Wednesday evening, Republicans were in control of 67 of the nation's 99 state legislative chambers—up from 57 before the election. It's still unclear which party will control two other chambers.

Already, anti-abortion advocates are calling it a big win. Hundreds of the country'smost extreme anti-abortion bills pop up in these statehouses every year, and Tuesday's results won't do anything to put a stop to that. But reproductive rights advocates also suffered big setbacks Tuesday in places where they had actually been playing offense. Now, Democratic losses in states like Colorado, Nevada, New York, and Washington could torpedo their efforts to expand reproductive rights. . . . 

November 9, 2014 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, Politics, State and Local News, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anti-Abortion Laws Pose Risks to All Pregnant Women

The New York Times op-ed: Pregnant, and No Civil Rights, by Lynn Paltrow & Jeanne Flavin:

WITH the success of Republicans in the midterm elections and the passage of Tennessee’s anti-abortion amendment, we can expect ongoing efforts to ban abortion and advance the “personhood” rights of fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses.

But it is not just those who support abortion rights who have reason to worry. Anti-abortion measures pose a risk to all pregnant women, including those who want to be pregnant. . . .

November 9, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Embryonic Personhood Ballot Measures Rejected in Colorado and North Dakota

The Huffington Post: Colorado And North Dakota Voters Reject Fetal Personhood Measures, by Laura Bassett:

Voters in Colorado rejected an anti-abortion ballot measure on Tuesday that would have granted personhood rights to developing fetuses from the moment of fertilization.

The ballot measure, known as Amendment 67, would have amended the state's criminal code to include fetuses in the category of "human" and "child." Supporters of the measure said it would have more harshly prosecuted someone who caused a pregnant woman to lose her baby in a situation like a drunk driving accident.

Opponents warned that it also would have criminalized women who have abortions, without exception for rape or incest.

Colorado voters rejected the amendment by a vote of 63 percent to 37 percent -- the third time they have voted down a personhood measure in the past few years. . . .

Colorado voters on Tuesday did, however, elect to the Senate Republican Cory Gardner, who co-sponsored fetal personhood legislation in the House of Representatives.

North Dakota voters on Tuesday also rejected a personhood ballot measure by a margin of 64 percent to 36 percent. The measure would have amended the state constitution to say, "The inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.'" . . .

November 4, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Fetal Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tennessee Voters Approve State Constitutional Amendment to Allow More Abortion Restrictions

The Tennessean: Tennessee Amendment 1 abortion measure passes, by Anita Wadhwani:

Already lawmaker vows to back abortion regulations when legislature reconvenes

Tennessee voters by a solid margin backed Amendment 1, a measure that gives state lawmakers more power to restrict and regulate abortions.

The measure was perhaps the most closely watched and most contentious Election Day vote in Tennessee's midterm elections, which had few contested high-profile candidate races this year. It also was one of the most expensive ballot measures in Tennessee history. . . .

November 4, 2014 in Abortion, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)