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. . . .
Some Colorado Legislators Aim to Exploit Brutal Attack on Pregnant Woman to Promote Fetal Personhood
The Daily Beast: Colorado Seeks Fetal Murder Law After Attack On Pregnant Woman, by Brandy Zadrozny:
Energized by national outrage over a grisly attack on a pregnant woman whose unborn baby died after being cut from her womb, a Colorado lawmaker is poised to push a new fetal homicide law in the state, leading to concern that Republicans might be turning a tragedy into a talking point for anti-abortion legislation. . . .
Anyone who believes these laws don't pose a threat to pregnant women need look no further than Indiana.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The Blade: Ohio House votes across party lines for 'heartbeat' abortion bill, by Jim Provance:
The Ohio House today for the second time voted across party lines for a bill that would all but ban an abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectable, as early as six weeks. . . .
The Wichita Eagle: Kansas lawmakers pass nation’s first ban on abortion procedure, by Brad Cooper:
The Kansas Legislature on Wednesday became the first in the country to pass a ban on a procedure often used in the second trimester of pregnancy. . . .
The Kansas House approved SB 95 on a 98-26 vote. The act now goes to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who has promised to sign it into law. . . .
While the bill targets a procedure, abortion-rights supporters believe it aims to limit second-trimester abortions with a long-term goal of banning all abortion.
The legislation isn’t “meant to correspond to medical reality,” said Caitlin Borgmann, a constitutional law professor at the City University of New York. . . .
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Associated Press: Ala. Abortion Law Lets Judges Appoint Lawyers for Fetuses, by Kim Chandler:
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday asked a federal judge to block an Alabama law that allows a fetus to be represented in court when a minor is seeking judicial permission for an abortion.
While abortion opponents have rolled out a variety of new restrictions on abortion in recent years - including new requirements on clinics and doctors - ACLU staff attorney Andrew Beck said the Alabama law was unique. . . .
Here's the Daily Show's take on it (from January):
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
ThinkProgress: ‘Fetal Anesthesia': The Creative New Way To Limit Abortion Access And Enshrine Bad Science Into Law, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
Montana lawmakers are preparing to debate a proposed bill that furthers the anti-abortion strategy of emphasizing “fetal pain” — the unscientific theory that fetuses are sentient after about 20 weeks of pregnancy. An increasing number of states are moving to enact 20-week abortion bans under the guise of preventing pain that scientists agree doesn't actually exist. But Montana is taking an even more creative approach.
Under House Bill 479, drafted by State Rep. Albert Olszewski (who is an orthopedic surgeon), abortion doctors would be required to administer anesthesia to fetuses past the 20th week of pregnancy. . . .
The concept of fetal anesthesia for abortion procedures didn’t originate in Montana. It’s the next step in a carefully coordinated strategy being pioneered by pro-life activists who want to narrow the window for legal abortion services by casting the medical procedure as barbaric, and arguing that fetuses are suffering in pain. . . .
Sunday, March 8, 2015
ThinkProgress: West Virginia Republicans Override Their Governor To Pass 20-Week Abortion Ban, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
On Friday, the West Virginia legislature voted to override their governor’s recent veto of a 20-week abortion ban, ensuring that the restriction will become law. Cloaked in the language of “fetal pain,” this particular policy continues to gain momentum; West Virginia will join the 10 other states that currently ban abortions after this point. . . .
Sunday, March 1, 2015
The Roanoke Times: Forced sterilization victims in Virginia awarded compensation:
Rose Brooks would have loved to have children and a family of her own one day.
“But they said, no, no, no, you can’t,” she said.
Brooks, 73, of Lynchburg, was one of thousands affected by Virginia’s decades-long policy of involuntary sterilization of those deemed mentally unfit or inferior.
The eugenics-based practice, now renounced, was in effect from the 1920s to 1970s. . . .