Thursday, June 22, 2017
Texas Observer (Jun. 20, 2017): How Texas' Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Win Even While Losing in Court, by Sophie Novack:
Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 into law, "an omnibus measure that mandates burdensome clinic regulations and outlaws a safe, common abortion procedure" known as dilation & evacuation, or D&E. SB 8 is the most sweeping set of restrictions on abortion care signed into law in Texas since House Bill 2 in 2013, culminating in last year's Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down two of the bill's major provisions. A lawsuit against SB 8 is expected later this summer.
Novack argues that while abortion-rights advocates ultimately claimed victory in the courts over HB 2, the law "forced the closure of more than half the state’s abortion clinics, and only three have reopened since." The main issue for abortion-rights advocates, Novack says is that "legislation often moves faster than the courts, and SB 8 could wreak similar havoc on the abortion provider community in Texas.
“We’re looking at again the possibility of clinic closures and other restrictions that force women to leave the state if they need abortion care,' said Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit against HB 2 and has pledged to fight SB 8. 'In terms of access on the ground, this presents a huge threat to Texas.”
The major provisions at issue in SB 8 are a requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated, and a ban on D&E, the most common form of second-trimester procedure. Abortion-rights advocates take some comfort in knowing that both of these provisions have been successfully challenged in court, but if either provision goes into effect, clinics could face closure for failure to comply with the law.
Texas Right to Life pushed the D&E ban, while Texas Alliance for Life championed the fetal burial/cremation requirement. Each group has a different strategy: Texas Right to Life favors pushing the D&E ban to the Supreme Court, while Texas Alliance for Life favors "a more incremental approach" that chips away at access until the Supreme Court becomes less favorable to abortion rights. Said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life: "it’s very clear now that [Justice Kennedy] will not uphold any state or federal provision that makes abortion less accessible, that’s the unfortunate reality."
In January, a federal judge blocked new Texas regulations that would’ve required burials for fetal remains. Courts have blocked D&E abortion bans in four other states. While it remains to be seen how courts will decide on SB 8, the battle will be long, and if it plays out like HB 2, there could be lasting consequences.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Spokesman-Review (Boise) (Jan. 23, 2017): Idaho to Stop Enforcing Telemedicine Abortion Bans, by Kimberlee Kruesi:
Two laws hindering women from obtaining safe abortions have been dismantled in Idaho. The first curtailed the use of telemedicine to assist women choosing medical abortions. Telemedicine allows physicians to consult with their patients remotely. It can be especially useful in delivering medical services in rural areas. The law required a physician to be present when a patient receives abortion-inducing medication. The second law simply forbade physicians from prescribing pregnancy-ending drugs remotely.
Planned Parenthood sued Idaho to dismantle these laws. A settlement entered into between the parties requires Idaho to repeal these laws by 2017 or have them declared unconstitutional in federal court. A federal judge has already ruled that requiring a physician's physical presence imposes an undue burden on women seeking medical abortions with no counterbalancing health benefits. A similar restriction was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court in 2015.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
New York Times (Dec. 11, 2016): Abortion Foes, Emboldened by Trump, Promise "Onslaught" of Tough Restrictions, by Sabrina Tavernise and Sheryl Gay Stolberg:
Ohio has new law that bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. There is no exception for rape or incest. Ohio is the eighteenth state to adopt the 20-week ban. Federal courts in Arizona and Idaho have struck down similar laws as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has refused to hear Arizona's appeal.
A more restrictive measure, banning abortion after a fetus has a detectable heartbeat, was vetoed by Governor Kasich. Many believe that the advent of Trump emboldened legislators to vote in favor of the heartbeat bill, despite it having been a perennial failure in the past.
The effects of Mr. Trump’s victory are only beginning to be felt. But one of the biggest changes is playing out in abortion politics. From the composition of the Supreme Court (Mr. Trump has promised to nominate staunchly anti-abortion justices), to efforts on Capitol Hill to enact a permanent ban on taxpayer-financed abortions, to emboldened Republican statehouses like the one in Ohio, combatants on both sides see legalized abortion imperiled as it has not been for decades.
Trump's election follows on a decade of anti-abortion victories throughout the country. Rights-preserving states like New York and California are becoming more the exception than the norm. Anti-abortion groups are mobilizing to harness what they perceive to be an increasingly promising landscape for enacting abortion restrictions. Americans United for Life, for example, recently released a report that purports to chronicle a raft of unsafe conditions in America's abortion clinics. The group hopes the publication will inspire legislatures to pass abortion restrictions in the wake of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. In Texas specifically, conservative legislators have promised "'an absolute onslaught of pro-life legislation.'" Four other states have enacted "trigger bans" on abortion that will take effect immediately if Roe v. Wade is overruled.
Before his election, Trump committed in writing to four anti-abortion priorities:
Those priorities include putting anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court; passing a national 20-week ban like Ohio’s; eliminating federal money for Planned Parenthood as long as its clinics perform abortions; and making permanent the Hyde Amendment, passed annually by Congress to ban taxpayer-funded abortions.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
City Limits (Sept. 13, 2016): Reproductive Rights and Today's Primary Ballot, by Joan Malin:
Malin writes, "New York is a place where everyone is welcome and where we believe that everyone deserves access to the resources to achieve their dreams." In the area of abortion liberty, New York has been in the vanguard. Abortion was legal here before Roe v. Wade, the state provides Medicaid coverage for abortion services and requires health insurance coverage for birth control. But the current Senate majority is hostile to reproductive rights and has stymied forward progress. It has blocked the Women's Equality Act for three years in a row and has not been a friend to measures that would have eliminated barriers to birth control and would have barred employment discrimination on the basis of an employee's reproductive health decisions.
The good news is that Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Gustavo Rivera have won in their primary contests against challengers who vowed to roll back reproductive rights in New York State. Businessman S.J. Jung does not support a woman's right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest. Fernando Cabrera champions "anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers that mislead women about their reproductive health care options." Both Jung and Cabrera have gone out of their way to express their disapproval of equal rights for same-sex couples and gay individuals.
New York has a rich history of championing reproductive rights, even if no progress has been made in recent years. With Democratic candidates for Senate like Stavisky and Rivera, come November voters will have a golden opportunity to show their support for reproductive liberty.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Anti-choicers get even weirder: After losing in the Supreme Court, abortion foes turn to desperate distortion
Salon (August 17, 2016): Anti-choicers get even weirder: After losing in the Supreme Court, abortion foes turn to desperate distortion, by Amanda Marcotte
In the wake of the landmark victory of Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, Amanda Marcotte argues that the anti-choice movement has been "sent back to the drawing board" and their two new tactics are spins on old classics: "first, trying to trick people into thinking embryos are babies and then trying to trick people into thinking abortion is too medically dangerous to be allowed." Some newly proposed regulations in Texas, Louisiana and Indiana require women to have a funeral for the 'remains' of a miscarriage or abortion. So far the regulations have been held up in the court.
While these regulations are said to have been "quietly" proposed, anti-choice advocates are a little louder about making claims that abortions are dangerous. Their problem is that statistics published by places like the CDC and Guttmacher show that abortion is extremely safe. Rather than changing their claims, anti-choice supporters argue that they just need more statistics. While these claims seem ridiculous, Marcotte argues that there's a silver lining:
Considering the lengthy history of anti-choice violence against medical providers, this kind of behavior is deeply worrisome.But it also shows the depths of desperation of the anti-choice movement. More data collection will just prove how safe abortion is, and funerals for embryos just remind everyone what kind of sick fantasy lives anti-choice activists have.
Friday, August 5, 2016
National Public Radio (July 20, 2016): Anti-Abortion Groups Take New Aim with Diverse Strategies, by Julie Rovner:
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, anti-abortion forces are reconsidering whether the strategy they have pursued for the last several years was ill-conceived. A new strategy among some groups is to lobby legislatures, at both the federal and state levels, to ban abortion after roughly twenty weeks of pregnancy and to ban all dilation and evacuation abortions. A federal bill to this effect passed the House but was defeated in the Senate.
But some anti-abortion groups want to continue fighting for TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws and remain convinced that there is a way to formulate such laws that will pass constitutional scrutiny. Thus, the anti-abortion movement is currently divided into two camps, those who want to continue the battle to shut down abortion care clinics in the guise of fighting for women's health, and those who desire a renewed focus on banning abortion outright.
Anti-abortion forces remain convinced that they are winning the fight, despite recent setbacks and despite the social justice leanings of the up and coming generation of millennials. They view the question of who will inhabit the White House come next January as the factor that will be the most decisive in the short term.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Truthout (July 20, 2016): Louisiana Becomes Latest Front in National Battle over Abortion, by Katie Klabusich:
In the wake of Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, opponents of abortion have had to lay down their swords in several jurisdictions. Clinics in Mississippi, Wisconsin, Texas and Alabama will remain open, their admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center provisions eviscerated. Advocates will now use the holding of Whole Woman's Health to argue against a raft of restrictions beyond the ones at issue in the case.
Louisiana holds the 2016 record for abortion-restricting laws, having passed seven, including a 72-hour waiting period and a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Other laws ban research on the aborted fetuses, prohibit dilation and evacuation, ban medication abortion de facto, and attempt to police the reasons a woman chooses to end her pregnancy. If the laws take effect, the battle for access to safe abortion care will continue to rage.
The Center for Reproductive Rights has sued to block these laws immediately, citing the unconstitutional burden they impose upon women and providers. Commenting on the case, CRR's president Nancy Northrup remarked, "'Louisiana politicians are trying to do what the US Supreme Court just ruled decisively they cannot: burying women's right to safe and legal abortion under an avalanche of unjustified and burdensome restrictions."
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
New York Times (July 9, 2016): Anti-Abortion Group Presses Ahead Despite Recent Supreme Court Ruling, by Erik Eckholm:
The National Right to Life Committee met last week to discuss its strategy in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. The Supreme Court struck down Texas admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical requirements imposed on abortion clinics, finding that they imposed an undue burden on women's access to abortion. The case should make it difficult for states to justify targeted regulation of abortion providers, or TRAP laws, which impose more stringent regulatory requirements on doctors and facilities providing abortions than other comparable medical procedures.
Leaders of the NRLC indicated that rather than pushing TRAP laws, they will focus on passing legislation with the explicit purpose of protecting the fetus. Unlike TRAP laws that purport to impose medical regulations on abortions for the purpose of making the procedure safer (which the Supreme Court found was untrue in the case of the Texas regulations), laws seeking to protect the "humanity of the unborn" introduce a state purpose and benefit not at issue in Hellerstedt.
However, the two types of laws promoted by the NLRC pose their own constitutional problems. The NLRC is encouraging states to pass laws that ban abortion at 20 weeks (15 states have already passed 20 week bans) based on claims that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. However current Supreme Court precedent prohibits bans on abortion prior to fetal viability, which is generally understood to occur at 22 weeks. There is also questionable medical support for the theory that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, which is significant given the enhanced scrutiny that the Court employed in Hellerstedt to determine that the Texas regulations did not have the medical benefits claimed by the state.
The second provision backed by the NLRC would ban a technique used in second trimester abortions known as dilation and evacuation (D & E), which results removal of the fetus in parts. Only about 10% of abortions are performed after 12 weeks of pregnancy, and the provision does not change the situations in which women are entitled to obtain abortions. However, it significantly limits doctor and patient choice about how the procedure is performed. D & E is the most common form of second trimester abortion and is viewed by many doctors as the safest and most convenient technique for a later abortion. D & E bans have passed in Oklahoma and Kansas but have been blocked by courts because of their intrusion on women's medical procedures and because they could endanger women's health by exposing them to unneeded or more dangerous procedures.
Friday, April 8, 2016
New York Times (Apr. 8, 2016): "Periods for Pence" Campaign Targets Indiana Governor over Abortion Law, by Mitch Smith:
Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana's draconian abortion bill into law on March 24th. Now, a campaign to call attention to the unbelievably restrictive law has emerged on Facebook. In an unusual strategy, the campaign, Periods for Pence, features a call for women to contact the governor's office "to report our periods." The campaign is meant to call specific attention to the requirement that miscarried fetuses be interred or cremated.
“I would certainly hate for any of my fellow Hoosier women to be at risk of penalty if they do not ‘properly dispose’ of this or report it,” one post says. “Just to cover our bases, perhaps we should make sure to contact Governor Pence’s office to report our periods.”
As of 3:00 p.m. Friday, Periods for Pence has more than 41,000 likes.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
New York Times (Apr. 2, 2016): Arizona Governor Signs Abortion Bill that Skirts F.D.A. Decision, by Erik Eckholm:
The Food and Drug Administration recently relaxed its guidelines for use of the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone, which is used in approximately one in four abortions. Arizona has passed a law requiring abortion providers to follow the original guidelines. The original guidelines, based on studies conducted in the 1990s, recommended doses of mifepristone that have since been deemed unnecessarily high and recommended its use in pregnancies of up to seven weeks, instead of the ten-week pregnancies. Medical researchers have determined that mifepristone is safe in pregnancies of up to ten weeks.
The conservative Christian group that promoted the legislation called the new F.D.A. guidelines outrageous. Opponents of the law see it as an attack on women.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Salon (Mar. 14, 2016): While America Is Distracted by the Trump Freakshow, Indiana Just Passed One of the Most Restrictive Abortion Bills in the Nation, by Bob Cesca:
A draconian anti-abortion bill has landed on Governor Mike Pence's desk, passed by a legislature determined to raise the stakes in the campaign conservatives are waging against a woman's right to choose. Described as a "reproductive Jim Crow law" by Salon reporter Bob Cesca, the bill contains a litany of targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAPs) as well as" a ban on all abortions for elective reasons--and if the fetus suffers from any disability whatsoever." Women who are able to surmount the obstacles and have an abortion must pay for the burial or cremation of the fetus. In addition to the now-familiar ultrasound requirement, women will be required to listen to the fetal heartbeat. All of this is on top of the TRAP laws that have left all but four of Indiana’s 92 counties without an abortion facility.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
New York Times (Jan. 11, 2016): Law on Ultrasounds Reignites the Abortion Debate in a 2016 Battleground, by Richard Fausset:
North Carolina has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, one the Hilary Clinton campaign has called "outrageous." Any doctor who performs an abortion after the 16th week of pregnancy must submit an ultrasound to the state. The state says it wishes to verify that doctors are not performing post-20-week abortions. Opponents of the law, which also extends the mandated waiting period for an abortion to 72 hours, call it an effort to intimidate both doctors, who know that determining gestational age is an inexact science, and women, who may hesitate before allowing information about their pregnancy to be shared with a governmental agency. The law also requires doctors performing abortions after 20 weeks to send the health department the findings and analysis that were used to determine that a medical emergency existed. The controversy has become an important issue in the political sphere, as Democrats harness liberal anger in an attempt to unseat the Republican governor Pat McCrory in his bid for a second term.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
RH Reality Check (Jan. 4, 2016): Attacks of Abortion Rights Continued in 2015 Ensnaring Family Planning Funding and Fetal Tissue Research, Rachel Benson Gold and Elizabeth Nash:
As discussed in previous posts, during the 2015 state legislative session, state legislatures adopted 57 new abortion restrictions. But the year was also memorable "because the politics of abortion ensnared family planning programs and providers, as well as critical, life-saving fetal tissue research."
At the same time, several states made important advances in 2015 on other sexual and reproductive health and rights issues. Some of the new provisions include measures that allow women to obtain a full year’s worth of prescription contraceptives at one time from a pharmacy, that allow a provider to treat a patient’s partner for an STI without first seeing the patient, that prohibit the use of “conversion therapy” with minors, and that expand access to dating or sexual violence education.
According to Guttmacher, in 2015, 11 states tried to cut funding for Planned Parenthood to any family family provider that also offers abortion. This could seriously impact family planning for low income women because Planned Parenthood health centers serve half or more of the women obtaining contraceptive care from safety-net health centers in two-third of the counties where they operate. Five states tried to exclude Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program, although these efforts were blocked by federal courts. Ten states tried to regulate fetal tissue donation and research.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
New York Times (Dec. 19, 2015): The Reproductive Rights Rollback of 2015:
The New York Times reports that no fewer than 288 restrictions on abortion have been enacted since 2011. These include the familiar targeted regulation of abortion providers scheduled for review next year by the Supreme Court. But abortion is being attacked in other ways as well, including extensions of waiting periods, mandated in-person counseling necessitating two separate trips to an abortion provider, and bans on inexpensive medical abortions. Against the backdrop of the forceful move in many states to de-fund Planned Parenthood, the only reproductive health provider for millions of poor women, these efforts reflect an attempt not only to unduly burden but indeed to obliterate entirely every woman's right to manage her reproductive life.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Daily Camera: Battle for Women's Reproductive Rights Goes on Every Day, by K.C. Becker:
State legislatures across the country have become popular battlegrounds for limiting reproductive freedom for women. Anti-choice activists have been launching well-coordinated assaults in state after state by churning out bills designed to indirectly limit or eliminate a woman's legal right to get an abortion. These new laws shut down clinics by putting new requirements and restrictions on the clinics, doctors, or patients.
Becker predicts that some of these restrictions will eventually be declared unconstitutional. "But rest assured" she warns, "that they will be coming back, across the country, with new variations on an old theme." Becker reminds us that the battle did not end with Roe v. Wade.
Friday, May 8, 2015
The New York Times: State Legislatures Put Up Flurry of Roadblocks to Abortion, by Frances Robles:
Oklahoma’s governor this week approved a law extending to 72 hours the mandatory waiting period before a woman can have an abortion. Here in Florida, lawmakers enacted a 24-hour waiting period that requires two separate appointments — one for anultrasound and information about fetal development and another for the actual procedure.
These are just two laws in a surge of bills passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year that make it harder for women to have abortions. . . .
Thursday, April 30, 2015
RH Reality Check (4/17): Laws Banning Abortion Procedure ‘Substituting Political Decisions for Medical Decisions’, by Teddy Wilson:
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill into law Monday that criminalizes a medical procedure used during second-trimester abortions and for miscarriage management.
That came weeks after Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed similar legislation, and now reproductive rights advocates are raising serious concerns about the lasting implications of these new, radically anti-choice laws.
“With this law, Oklahoma has joined Kansas in an alarming trend toward substituting politicians’ agendas for the judgment and expertise of doctors, and then threatening those doctors with criminal charges if they disagree,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. . . .
The Hill - Congress blog (4/17): Political attacks on abortion legislate bad medicine, by Vanessa Cullins, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.:
The latest wave of state legislation to restrict abortion access is based on bad medicine and would prevent doctors from providing medical care based on their judgment of what’s best for each patient. . . .
It is unacceptable for politicians to force doctors, under penalty of law, to go against our training and expertise. . . .
Thursday, April 9, 2015
U.S. News & World Report: Oklahoma Approves Ban on Second-Trimester Abortion Method, by Sean Murphy:
Oklahoma would ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus under a measure that lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Wednesday, a day after Kansas became the first state to prohibit the same procedure.
The Senate voted 37-4 for the bill, which now goes to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. She has not said whether she will sign it, but she has previously signed other anti-abortion measures. . . .
The New York Times: Kansas Limits Abortion Method, Opening a New Line of Attack, by Erik Eckholm & Frances Robles:
Kansas on Tuesday became the first state to sharply restrict or alter the most common technique used for second-trimester abortions, opening a new, emotionally charged line of attack by anti-abortion forces who hope to take it swiftly to other states. . . .
The New York Times (editorial): Kansas Tries to Stamp Out Abortion:
During the past four years, the state of Kansas has become ground zero in the war to criminalize all abortions, and in the process to remove a woman’s ability to control what happens in her own body.
Under Gov. Sam Brownback, a staunch foe of a woman’s right to choose, Kansas’s increasingly hard-line conservative lawmakershave enacted more than two dozen restrictions curtailing women’s reproductive freedom. . . .
On Tuesday the state went still further, becoming the first to ban the safest and by far the most common method of ending a second-trimester pregnancy, dilation and evacuation, which involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus, often in parts. (On Wednesday, a similar bill passed the Oklahoma Legislature, and awaits the governor’s signature. Bills are also pending in Missouri and South Carolina.) . . .
Arkansas Joins Arizona with New Law Requiring Information About Unproven "Abortion Reversal" Procedure
The Washington Post: In Arizona, Arkansas, women must be told that abortion can be ‘reversed’, by Sandhya Somashekhar:
New laws in Arkansas and Arizona require doctors to inform women that drug-induced abortions can be “reversed” mid-procedure, a claim that quickly drew charges of “junk science” from abortion-rights groups and many doctors.
The Arkansas law took effect late Monday, after Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed it. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed his state’s bill into law earlier this month. . . .
Friday, April 3, 2015
U.S. News & World Report: Arizona Abortion Law Pushes Boundaries of What Providers Must Tell Patients, by Tierney Sneed:
An unprecedented abortion law signed by Arizona's governor this week would require providers to inform patients that a drug treatment to end pregnancy may be reversed midway through – a mandate pro-abortion rights activists are denouncing as the latest effort by a state to employ questionable science in a politically motivated effort to discourage women from undergoing the procedure. . . .
By and large, the medical community has lined up against the Arizona law.
“Claims of medication abortion reversal are not supported by the body of scientific evidence,” the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said. . . .