Thursday, November 30, 2017

Internal Emails Reveal How the Trump Administration Blocks Abortions for Migrant Teens

Mother Jones (Nov. 29, 2017): Internal Emails Reveal How the Trump Administration Blocks Abortions for Migrant Teens, by Hannah Levintova and Pema Levy: 

Jane Doe isn't the only teenage immigrant the Trump administration has tried to prevent from obtaining an abortion. 

While the ACLU represented Doe in her ultimately successfully case to get an abortion, they continue to fight a class-action for other similarly-situation teens. These teens are pregnant and in government custody with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services. The ORR contracts with local shelters to house the minors.

The director of the ORR, Scott Lloyd, is an anti-abortion activist who has "changed ORR policy to prevent pregnant teens at these shelters from obtaining abortions." 

As part of the ongoing lawsuit, the ACLU has obtained government emails showing the lengths to which the current administration will go to prevent an unaccompanied minor from seeking an abortion. 

For example, ORR temporarily halted a medication abortion for one pregnant minor halfway through the procedure. In another case, ORR suggested that a pregnant minor scheduled for discharge from the shelter not be released until she had been counseled against receiving an abortion.

The ACLU says the government's efforts amount to a violation of the minors' Constitutional rights and defy Supreme Court precedent such as Roe v. Wade, which states the government cannot ban abortion. "They are effectively banning abortion for Jane Doe. I am still in shock that this is happening,” says Brigitte Amiri, a lead attorney for the ACLU. 

One of the emails, published here, includes a redacted sender questioning whether the ORR's methods of approving (or not approving) a minor's pursuit of a judicial bypass are legal. A judicial bypass allows a minor who would otherwise need a guardian's permission for an abortion to get a court's approval to seek and receive an abortion without such parental or guardian permission.

The redacted email sender says:

My understanding is that the judicial bypass was created specifically so that the young lady does not need approval from her guardian (in our case the Director of ORR) to move forward with a term of pregnancy. Has this policy been vetted by your legal department? I anticipate there would be legal challenges to this policy.

Minors represented in this case have received judicial bypasses for their abortions from the courts, however the emails show that ORR nevertheless instructed the shelters not to allow it. It's unclear how those situations were resolved.

The release of these emails makes the government's targeted policies very clear, as the ACLU continues to fight for the Constitutional rights of unaccompanied and undocumented minors. 

November 30, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Facebook is Ignoring Anti-Abortion Fake News

The New York Times (Nov. 10, 2017): Facebook is Ignoring Anti-Abortion Fake News, by Rossalyn Warren

As Facebook addresses the role of "fake news" on its platform, largely in relation to the 2016 election and Russian political propaganda, another potentially more difficult concern arises. The spread of false reproductive rights and health news is widespread and often harder for Facebook to spot (and manage).

Facebook’s current initiatives to crack down on fake news can, theoretically, be applicable to misinformation on other issues. However, there are several human and technical barriers that prevent misinformation about reproductive rights from being identified, checked and removed at the same — already slow — rate as other misleading stories.

Identifying a fake news sources is not always straightforward. The social media giant says it often targets "spoof" sites that mimic legitimate news sources. But misleading anti-abortion sites can be hazier to identify. They generally publish original pieces, but often alongside inaccurate facts or with poor sourcing, which "helps blur the line between what’s considered a news blog and 'fake news.'"

Facebook aims to limit fake news by making it more difficult for these sources to buy ads or generate spam. "Most false news is financially motivated," Facebook says. This is not often the case with anti-abortion advocates, though, who are overwhelmingly driven by strong religious or political beliefs. The goal isn't profit but persuasion. 

Many are concerned that misinformation regarding reproductive rights and abortion in particular may detrimentally affect current political movements. Ireland plans to hold a referendum next year regarding whether to lessen the country's strict abortion regulations. Pro-choice advocates are worried that the rapid spread of abortion-related misinformation on Facebook (like a purported causal link between abortion and breast cancer) may affect the vote. 

Facebook has yet, though, to directly address concerns over this type of scientific misinformation in the same way they have begun to address fake news about last year's election. 

November 17, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Culture, Current Affairs, In the Media, Politics, Pro-Choice Movement, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers

Los Angeles Times (Nov. 13, 2017): Supreme court agrees to hear antiabortion challenge to California disclosure law for pregnancy centers, by David G. Savage:

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear NIFLA vs. Becerra, in which an anti-abortion group challenges a California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers to notify patients that the state offers contraception and abortion services. 

The case centers on the Reproductive FACT Act, which requires pregnancy centers to disclose whether they have a medical license and whether medical professionals are available. The law also requires centers to post a notice in the waiting room that reads: "California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services, including all FDA-approved methods of contraception, pre-natal care and abortion."

California lawmakers passed the disclosure law two years ago after concluding as many as 200 pregnancy centers in the state sometimes used “intentionally deceptive advertising and counseling practices that often confuse, misinform and even intimidate women” about their options for medical care.

The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) represents 110 pregnancy centers in California that all claim the disclosure provision violates their free speech as "compelled speech." Such a disclosure, they claim, conflicts with their faith-based goal of encouraging childbirth and preventing abortion. 

The Californian pregnancy centers initially lost their case under three federal district judges. On appeal, the 9th Circuit Court upheld the lower court's decision. Last month, however, a judge in Riverside County ruled that the law violated the free-speech provisions of California's own state Constitution. 

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra stands by the disclosure provision and its intent to provide women accurate information about their health care options.

It takes five justices for a majority opinion, and many expect the Court's decision to turn on the vote of Justice Kennedy. 

November 14, 2017 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, In the Media, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court

San Antonio Current (Nov. 2, 2017): Texas' Ban on Safe Abortion Procedure Goes to Court, by Alex Zielinski

The trial fighting Texas' latest anti-abortion law, Senate Bill 8, began last week. Whole Woman's Health sued Texas in July after the governor signed SB 8 into law.

SB 8 would completely prohibit dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures, require clinics to bury the remains of any abortion, and prohibit hospitals from donating aborted fetal tissue to medical research.

The current lawsuit, though, only challenges the ban on D&E abortions. Dilation and evacuation abortions are considered one of the safest procedures for abortions after 13 weeks. The ban does not allow for exceptions in the cases of rape or incest. The only alternatives to a D&E procedure for a woman seeking an abortion are either inducing labor and forcing delivery of the fetus or a surgery similar to a hysterectomy. Both options are risky and expensive. 

In August, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel temporarily blocked the law from going into effect on September 1. On November 2, the plaintiffs returned to Judge Yeakel's courtroom to request the bill's D&E ban be permanently blocked. 

Yeakel has thus far supported a woman's constitutionally-protected right to abortion, saying: "The state cannot pursue its interest in a way that denies a woman her constitutionally protected rights to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable." 

 

November 6, 2017 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Current Affairs, In the Courts, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 23, 2017

New bill would protect employees from discrimination regarding reproductive health choices

New York Daily News (Oct. 16, 2107): Councilman to introduce bill to protect employees from discrimination when it comes to reproductive health, by Jillian Jorgensen:

New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams plans to introduce a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination based on reproductive decisions in the wake of Trump's recent health care initiatives. 

This proposal follows the "Boss Bill," currently before the state legislature, which aims to guarantee women access to medical procedures and medicine such as fertility treatments, contraceptives, and abortion.

The bill is co-sponsored by several women council members, including the chair of the Committee on Women's Issues, Laurie Cumbo (D-Brooklyn) and co-chair of the Women's Caucus Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan).

The bill would modify the city’s Human Rights Law to protect against employment discrimination based on “sexual and reproductive health decisions.”

That would include fertility treatments, family planning services and counseling, birth control drugs and supplies, emergency contraception, sterilization, pregnancy tests, abortions and HIV testing and counseling.

 

October 23, 2017 in Abortion, Contraception, Culture, Current Affairs, Politics, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Trump administration narrows Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate

Washington Post (Oct. 6, 2017): Trump administration narrows Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, by Juliet Eilperin, Amy Goldstein and William Wan:

In the next move on Trump's path to dismantle as many Obama-administration initiatives as possible, the Trump administration issued a rule today that many predict will leave hundreds of thousand of women without free access to contraceptives. 

The Health and Human Services Department now allows a much wider group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering birth control on religious or moral grounds. Although the administration estimates that "99.9%" of women will still receive free birth control through their insurance, the only basis of that estimate is the finite number of lawsuits that have been filed since Obama introduced the contraceptive mandate provision in 2012. Officials do not know, however, how many employers denied contraceptive coverage on "religious" or "moral" grounds before the ACA, and so an accurate number of women who may lose coverage cannot yet be estimated. 

In 2014, the Supreme Court heard the Hobby Lobby case in which the Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby chain craft store objected to providing certain forms of birth control. The court ruled it illegal to impose the provision on "closely held corporations," the definition of which is sure to widen under Trump's provision. 

Senior Justice Department officials said the guidance was merely meant to offer interpretation and clarification of existing law. But the interpretation seemed to be particularly favorable to religious entities, possibly at the expense of women, LGBT people and others.

The guidance, for example, said the ACA contraceptive mandate “substantially burdens” employers’ free practice of religion by requiring them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs in violation of their religious of beliefs or face significant fines.

 

This new rule will almost certainly prompt fresh litigation against the Trump administration, likely on the grounds of sex discrimination--as the mandate disproportionately affects women--and religious discrimination based on the argument that these exceptions enable employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. 

October 7, 2017 in Contraception, Current Affairs, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

UN Ambassador Flounders to Explain U.S. Vote Against Rebuking the Use of the Death Penalty to Target LGBTQ People

Think Progress (Oct. 4, 2017): Haley tries, fails to explain UN vote against rebuking use of death penalty to target LGBTQ people, by Zack Ford:

The United Nations approved a resolution on Friday, September 29 condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory manner. The text of the resolution called for the death penalty to be banned "as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations."

The United States, however, voted against the resolution, along with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Only 13 out of 47 countries on the Human Rights Council voted against it. 

A spokesperson for the State Department cited "broader concerns" about the resolution as the reason for the negative vote, specifying disagreement with the resolution's "approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances." UN Ambassador Nikki Haley took to twitter to claim that the vote was not one for "the death penalty for gay people," claiming that Friday's vote was the same as the U.S.'s vote on the same issue under the Obama administration. In 2014, however, the Obama administration abstained from the death penalty resolution, which is distinct from actively voting "no." Additionally, the language regarding same-sex relationships was a new addition to the resolution. 

The rest of the resolution’s calls to action refer to how the death penalty is implemented, not whether it should be. It simply calls upon states that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not applied in a discriminatory way and to take all possible precautions to protect the civil rights of people who are facing that punishment.

The controversy surrounding this vote highlights the United States' isolation on the death penalty compared to the rest of the democratized world. Many studies have found the death penalty to be applied in a discriminatory manner across the world where it is still implemented, especially against racial minorities and economically-vulnerable people. In the U.S., 55% of those awaiting execution today are people of color, according to the ACLU.

While the resolution encouraged countries to sign a protocol that aims at abolishing the death penalty, it did not require it. 

October 5, 2017 in Culture, Current Affairs, In the Media, International, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Breastfeeding Behind Bars: Do All Moms Deserve the Right?

Huffington Post (Sept. 17, 2017): Breastfeeding Behind Bars: Do All Moms Deserve the Right?, by Kimberly Seals Allers

33-year-old Monique Hidalgo is mom to a 5-week old baby. Her child's father brings their infant to visit her on the weekends, as Hidalgo is also an inmate at a New Mexican state prison. Due to her incarceration, Hidalgo was refused contact with her newborn when she wanted to breastfeed her. She was also denied access to a breast pump that would've allowed her to provide milk for her baby from behind bars.

Last month, though, a Sante Fe judge ruled that the Corrections Department policy denying incarcerated mothers their right to breastfeed was unconstitutional. The judge ordered that Hidalgo be able to breastfeed her child during visits and also ordered that she receive access to an electric pump.

"While there have been many cases, both in federal and state court, affirming a woman’s right to breastfeed in a public place or at work, incarcerated women have largely been left out of this conversation,” said Amber Fayerberg, Ms. Hidalgo’s lead counsel, at Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, whose firm is working the case pro-bono. “This case acknowledges that incarcerated women are not just “inmates,” but women and, often, mothers,” Fayerberg said in an email interview.

Prisons are generally punitive over rehabilitative when it comes to incarcerated parents dealing with incarceration. Society rarely accounts for the circumstances that led to a parent's imprisonment, including poverty and racism. An incarcerated mother is deemed a "bad mom" in order to justify stripping her of the opportunity to maintain important, biological connections with her child like breastfeeding. 

Women's advocates highlight that, in an effort to punish mothers, policies like those that forbid breastfeeding are actually punishing the infants as well, depriving them not only of their mother, but also of the benefits associated with breastfeeding. Experts also find that enabling the mother-baby connection may be a beneficial way to keep a mother connected to her family and community, therefore increasing her chances of successful re-integration and discouraging recidivism. 

Reproductive justice is scarcely considered with incarcerated women in mind, however, Democratic senators have recently introduced positive legislation. Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) introduced The Dignity for Incarcerated Women's Act. The bill would prohibit federal prisons from shackling pregnant women or placing them in solitary confinement, require federal prisons to provide free tampons and pads for women, and would extend visiting hours for inmates and their children. 

Even as we make progress, though, the question remains: which aspects of the mother-child connection are a right versus a privilege? When the early months of an infant's life are so critical to future development, shouldn't minimizing the separation of incarcerated mothers and their children be a societal goal rather than a constitutional battle? 

September 22, 2017 in In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Politics, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Contraception is Lifesaving but Often Out of Reach

Human Rights Watch (July 10, 2017): Contraception is Lifesaving but Often Out of Reach, by Nisha Varia

This week, the Family Planning Summit met in London. The goal of this annual meeting is to bring governments, donors, and civil society together to discuss progress and future goals in expanding access to modern contraception for millions of women globally. 

Family planning and effective contraception saves lives. 

Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading cause of death for adolescents ages 15 to 19 globally and cause 800 women and girls to die each day. The World Health Organization estimates that at least 22,000 women die from abortion-related complications each year.

This year, many lobbied for the Summit to include conversations on the effects of the Trump administration's reimplementation of the "Global Gag Rule." The controversial policy prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations from receiving any U.S. health funding if they use funds from any source to provide information about abortions, advocate for or provide abortions.

The policy affects $8.8 billion of foreign assistance. The anticipated consequences of the Gag Rule include increases in unplanned pregnancies and dangerous abortions as well as a higher maternal death rate. 

July 13, 2017 in Abortion, Contraception, Politics, Reproductive Health & Safety | Permalink | Comments (0)

California's maternal mortality rate is a third of the American average. Here's why.

Vox (Jun. 29, 2017): California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death in childbirth, by Julia Belluz:

At the same time the global maternal death rate fell by nearly 44 percent, between 2000 and 2014, the United States watched its maternal mortality rate skyrocket 27 percent. Maternal mortality refers to "the death of a mother from pregnancy-related complications while she's carrying or within 42 days after birth." Childbirth is more dangerous in the U.S. than any other wealthy nation. The reason? The U.S. does not value its women. 

The United States is in the company of only 12 other countries whose maternal mortality rates have actually increased in recent years, including North Korea and Zimbabwe.

Researchers and health care advocates argue that a high maternal death rate is a reflection of how that culture views its women.

[In the U.S.,] policies and funding dollars tend to focus on babies, not the women who bring them into the world. For example, Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income Americans, will only cover women during and shortly after pregnancy.

Texas, having rejected Medicaid expansion and closed the majority of its Planned Parenthood clinics, has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. California, however, has proven to be an exception within the nation. The California maternal mortality rate has steadily decreased over the same time that the rest of the nation's has risen, thanks in large part to the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC). 

60% of maternal deaths are preventable and the complications that cause them should be anticipated. The CMQCC finds that even within an imperfect health care system, death from childbirth need not be an inevitability. Maternal deaths in the U.S. often result from common complications like hemorrhaging and preeclampsia. The CMQCC has enacted simple, lifesaving procedures over the last decade to reduce the number of unnecessary maternal deaths. And, they're working.

First, they aimed to lower the number of unnecessary C-sections performed. Cesarian sections are often prematurely offered by obstetricians who are short on time. The procedure can leave mothers with internal scar tissue that ultimately makes future pregnancies more dangerous by increasing the mother's risk of hemorrhaging. 

As many maternal deaths are a result of hemorrhaging--a mother can bleed to death within five minutes--doctors set out to prepare every delivery room in hospitals participating in their program with a "hemorrhage cart," equipped with everything necessary to handle a bleeding problem the moment it begins. 

In a recent study, researchers found a 21 percent reduction in severe complications related to hemorrhages in the hospitals participating in CMQCC's program. Hospitals not participating in the program saw only a one percent reduction. 

California has demonstrated that even in our messy and imperfect health care system, progress is possible. They’ve shown the rest of the country what happens when people care about and organize around women’s health. Policymakers owe it to the 4 million babies born in the US each year, and their mothers, to figure out how to bring that success to families across the country. 

How the current health care debate and the resulting volatility of the insurance market will affect the United States' maternal mortality rate going forward remains to be seen.

July 13, 2017 in Medical News, Politics, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

4 Ways the Senate Health Care Bill Would Hurt Women

TIME (Jun. 22, 2017): 4 Ways the Senate Health Care Bill Would Hurt Women, by Amanda MacMillan

The newly unveiled Senate health care bill intended to repeal the Affordable Care Act has a name: the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. The Senate bill looks very similar to the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year, with a few changes. What hasn't changed much is the debilitating effects the legislation could have on women and families, and especially low-income Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.

Under the Senate plan, women could lose essential benefits like cervical cancer screenings, breast pumps, contraception, and domestic violence screening and counseling, and prescription drug coverage could be severely limited. The bill also slashes Medicaid, which currently funds half of all childbirths in the United States, and includes language that allows states to impose employment requirements for Medicaid eligibility.

The Senate plan eliminates Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for one year, which would further limit access to essential services like well-woman visits, cancer screenings, and STI testing. Finally, the Republican plan repeals the individual mandate and the requirement that employers with 50 or more employees provide health coverage. Without these requirements, many women will lose their health insurance and face unique challenges, particularly regarding childbirth. With the U.S.'s maternal mortality rate already the highest among the developed world, both the House and Senate bills are likely to make a bad problem worse.

 

June 24, 2017 in Congress, Contraception, Current Affairs, Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Abortion and the Economy: Which Side Are You On?

by Richard Storrow

Two op-eds appearing in the New York Times recently addressed the intersection of abortion and economics.  Both develop their arguments around Bernie Sanders's recent appearances with abortion rights supporter Jon Ossof, Democratic candidate for Congress in Georgia, and abortion rights foe Heath Mello, a pro-life Democatic candidate for Omaha mayor.  The seemingly contradictory optics these appearances create are concerning for progressives who fear that the Democratic Party, in trying to woo voters, may move reproductive rights to the back burner.  They appear to be right. Democratic Party National Committee chair Thomas Perez has made clear that the party's focus must now be on economics instead of "social issues" like reproductive rights and abortion.

In Why Abortion Is an Economic IssueBryce Covert speaks out against the efforts of the Democratic Party to revive itself by divorcing issues of reproductive rights from issues of economics.  "To pretend that these issues are different and that one can be abandoned for the other," he writes, "is disproved in countless women's lives."  In The Problem with Linking Abortion and EconomicsLori Szala takes aim at the "enormous baggage" freighting the old saw that "women on the margins need abortion so that they can scramble up the economic ladder without children holding them back."  The argument justifies eliminating beings "who impede our economic progress," and urges that abortion is a simple solution to deep, systemic inequalities.  

Continue reading

May 10, 2017 in Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Abortion Foes Find a Friend in Donald Trump. But for How Long?

New York Times (May 6, 2017): Opponents of Abortion Warily Measure Progress, by Jeremy W. Peters:

President Trump has proven himself to be a friend of abortion opponents.  Left unclear, though, is whether he has any influence in the battle over the roughly $500 million Planned Parenthood receives each year.  Moderate Republicans are not lining up to end support of Planned Parenthood.  Even the bill passed in the House of Representatives last Thursday only reduces funding for Planned Parenthood for one year and leaves the organization eligible for money to support family planning.  The Senate will prove more of a hurdle in any attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

Conservative Republican attempts to revive interest in completely defunding Planned Parenthood have now taken the form of vilifying the organization for focusing more on defeating Republicans than on supporting women.  The position is hopelessly out of step with American opinion.  The majority of Americans believe the group should receive public funding for its work.   

Christian conservatives, whom President Trump hopes to reward for supporting him in 2016, are becoming wary of his attempts to prove that he is a friend of their causes.  He has, for example, refused to end workplace protections for LGBTQ employees put in place by President Obama in 2014, although last March he did make the protections harder to enforce.  Christian conservatives are upset that the lives of those forced by Obama's executed order not the discriminate against LGBTQ employees are being "destroyed by the demands of the sexual identity activist class . . . ."  Trump may not be up to the task of coming to the aid of groups who hold such extreme and unyielding perspectives.    

May 9, 2017 in Abortion, Politics, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's Time to Make 'Women's Work' Everyone's Work

The Atlantic (August 3, 2016): It's Time to Make 'Women's Work' Everyone's Work, by The Atlantic 

Screen shot 2016-08-15 at 7.56.17 AMIn such a simple yet powerful video interview, Anne Marie-Slaughter contends  that the women's movement is missing an "emphasis on caregiving policies."  Slaughter asks why we have failed to recognize that traditional women's work is just as important as traditional men's work.  She argues that cultivating the idea that breadwinning and caregiving are equally as important in a successful household is key in achieving true equality. 

August 17, 2016 in Culture, Parenthood, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2016

North Dakota Paying $245k for Abortion Clinic's Legal Fees

Startribune (April 12, 2016): APNewsBreak: North Dakota to pay abortion clinic $245k, by James McPherson:

Last week, North Dakota agreed to pay the attorneys fees of the state's sole abortion clinic following the clinic's successful challenge of a 2013 law prohibiting abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected.  The law would have banned abortions as early as six weeks and clearly violated existing constitutional protections for abortions.  

After it passed, the law was almost immediately enjoined by a federal district court.  And, in July 2015, the Eighth Circuit, agreed with the district court's conclusion that the law was unconstitutional because it prohibited abortions pre-viability.  In January, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.  Because lawyers who successfully represent a plaintiff asserting a violation of constitutional rights are entitled to attorneys fees, North Dakota agreed to pay a settlement of $245,000.  In addition, records obtained by AP indicate that through January, the state had spent over $320,000 to defend its abortion laws, most of which was spent on the fetal heartbeat law.

 

Janet Crepps, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights [which represented the clinic], said she hoped the settlement would send a message to North Dakota and other states. "From the beginning, the state recognized it was embarking on an expensive lawsuit, defending a clearly unconstitutional law," Crepps said. "It has cost the state a good bit of money," Crepps said. "A measure could have been passed to help the people of North Dakota."

April 18, 2016 in Abortion Bans, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sinn Féin Drops Opposition to Abortion in Very Limited Cases

Sinn Féin drops opposition to abortion at Derry congress

The Guardian: Sinn Féin has dropped its historic opposition to abortion at its annual congress held in Derry, by Henry McDonald:

The party voted this weekend to support terminations in limited cases, such as pregnant women with fatal foetal abnormalities. This involves women whose babies will be born dead and who have to either go full term in Ireland or seek abortions across the Irish sea in Britain. . . .

March 8, 2015 in Abortion Bans, International, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Scott Walker Now Supports 20-Week Abortion Ban

The Huffington Post: Scott Walker Pumps Up Anti-Abortion Cred By Backing 20-Week Ban, by Lydia O'Connor:

Days after coming under conservative fire for making vaguely pro-choice comments, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) released a letter reaffirming his anti-abortion bona fides and endorsing a ban on the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. . . .

The letter takes a much more vigorously conservative tone than Walker did on “Fox News Sunday” this past weekend. . . .

March 4, 2015 in 2016 Presidential Campaign, Abortion Bans, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obama's Tenure a Disappointment on Reproductive Health and Rights

The Hill - Congress Blog: The hard truth about reproductive health under Obama, by Jon O'Brien: 

There’s no doubt that the election and reelection of Barack Obama will always and rightfully be remembered as groundbreaking, historical wins. However, for those who support women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, his presidency has also been a profoundly disappointing one. . . . 

March 4, 2015 in Politics, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Scott Walker Shifts to Right on Abortion

The New York Times: In Pre-Primary Pivot to Right, Walker Shifts Tone on Abortion, by Trip Gabriel:

It was a memorable political ad: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin spoke directly into the camera in a 30-second spot last fall and called abortion an “agonizing” decision. He described himself as pro-life but, borrowing the language of the abortion rights movement, pointed to legislation he signed that leaves “the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

That language was gone when Mr. Walker met privately with Iowa Republicans in a hotel conference room last month, according to a person who attended the meeting. There, he highlighted his early support for a “personhood amendment,” which defines life as beginning at conception and would effectively prohibit all abortions and some methods of birth control. . . .

February 22, 2015 in 2016 Presidential Campaign, Fetal Rights, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rep. Tim Ryan Switches to Pro-Choice Camp

The New York Times (Taking Note blog): Tim Ryan’s Switch on Abortion Rights, by Dorothy Samuels:

Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat who previously opposed abortion rights, has officially changed sides. He’s very welcome in the pro-choice camp. With reproductive freedom under attack in the Republican-led Congress and in G.O.P.-controlled state legislatures around the country, the embattled cause needs all the new supporters it can get. . . .

January 29, 2015 in Abortion, Congress, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)