Reproductive Rights Prof Blog

Editor: Caitlin E. Borgmann
CUNY School of Law

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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. . . .

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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)

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)

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)

Oklahoma Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Admitting Privileges Law and Medication Abortion Restrictions

The New York Times: Oklahoma Supreme Court Blocks 2 Abortion Laws, by Timothy Williams:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked two new laws that critics say may have made it difficult for women to obtain abortions in the state.

The measures, approved by the State Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin, took effect Nov. 1.

But in a unanimous decision released Tuesday, the State Supreme Court voted to prevent enforcement of the rules until lawsuits challenging their constitutionality are settled by a lower court. . . .

November 4, 2014 in In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2014

State Judge Allows Oklahoma's Admitting Privileges Law to Take Effect

RH Reality Check: Oklahoma Court Refuses to Block Admitting Privileges Requirement, by Jessica Mason Pieklo:

Oklahoma can enforce its new anti-abortion admitting privileges requirement beginning November 1, a state district court judge ruled Friday.

SB 1848 mandates all reproductive health care clinics have a physician with admitting privileges at a local hospital on-site when abortion procedures are performed. . . .

October 24, 2014 in In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

California's Expansion of Abortion Provider Pool Helps Reduce Stigma Around Abortion

The Los Angeles Times: New class of abortion providers helps expand access in California, by Lee Romney:

Ever since the Planned Parenthood health center here opened, the six cushioned recliners in the recovery room had been in steady demand every Friday.

That's when a physician would rotate through to perform abortions for four hours. When everyone in the crowded waiting room knew why the woman next to her was there, when they all had to walk past a cluster of antiabortion protesters.

But a state law that went into effect in January has authorized nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and physician assistants to perform a method of first-trimester abortion known as vacuum aspiration. Previously, only doctors were allowed to do so.

With the expanded pool of providers, this Marin County clinic can now carry out the procedure as routinely as breast exams and birth control consultations, stripping away the taint of "abortion day." . . .

October 24, 2014 in Abortion, Culture, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Embryonic Personhood Movement Hasn't Gone Away

ThinkProgress: North Dakota Is Quietly Preparing To Enact The Most Radical Abortion Measure In The Country, by Tara Culp-Ressler:

EmbryosIn less than two weeks, North Dakota voters will head to the polls and cast their ballots on a radical effort to overhaul the state’s constitutionand redefine legal personhood in a way that includes fertilized eggs. The latest polling indicates that Amendment 1 may have enough support to pass, making North Dakota the first state in the country to enact a radical “personhood” measure — something that abortion opponents have been attempting to do for four decades. But hardly anyone is talking about it. . . .

MSNBC:  This conservative cause is the GOP’s worst nightmare, by Irin Carmon:

There is one word that has defined the Colorado Senate race and it’s a word that Republican Rep. Cory Gardner and other GOP candidates across the country are tired of hearing. The word is “Personhood.”

For months, local reporters have been asking Gardner, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, to explain his contradictory and opaque positions on a Colorado Personhood measure Gardner once supported and a federal bill he still does. Such measures would extend legal protection to fertilized eggs and are intended to ban all abortion as well as common in-vitro fertilization processes and some forms of birth control, including the IUD and emergency contraception. . . .

It was quiet that afternoon on the Personhood terrace, when Keith Mason openly admitted he doesn’t expect Amendment 67 to pass. Then he nodded towards Planned Parenthood and grinned: “We just cost them $4 million.”  . . .

October 23, 2014 in Abortion Bans, Congress, Fetal Rights, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Oklahoma Judge Allows Restriction on Medication Abortions to Take Effect

Reuters: Oklahoma judge allows law on abortion pills to take effect, by Heide Brandes:

An Oklahoma judge said on Wednesday he will allow a law governing the use of an abortion-inducing drug to take effect as planned on Nov. 1, over the objections of abortion rights advocates who said the measure is poor public health policy that could put women at risk. . . .

__________________________________

In case anyone is having a sense of deja vu in reading this story:  a similar Oklahoma law made it up to the U.S. Supreme Court, briefly, before the Court changed its mind and decided not to hear the case. The Oklahoma Supreme Court had invalidated the law, and the state sought U.S. Supreme Court review.  After granting cert, the U.S. Supreme Court certified two questions to the Oklahoma Supreme Court seeking clarification about the scope of the statute.  After the Oklahoma court answered these questions and interpreted the statute broadly, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the writ as improvidently granted. 

-CEB

October 23, 2014 in State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pennsylvania Mother Sentenced to Prison for Giving Daughter Abortion Pills

The Huffington Post: Mom Ann Whalen Sentenced To Prison For Giving Daughter Abortion Pills, by David DeKok:

A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for obtaining so-called abortion pills online and providing them to her teenage daughter to end her pregnancy.

Jennifer Ann Whalen, 39, of Washingtonville, a single mother who works as a nursing home aide, pleaded guilty in August to obtaining the miscarriage-inducing pills from an online site in Europe for her daughter, 16, who did not want to have the child. . . .

Whalen told authorities there was no local clinic available to perform an abortion and her daughter did not have health insurance to cover a hospital abortion, the Press Enterprise newspaper of Bloomsburg reported. . . .

Philadelphia Magazine (opinion column): Pennsylvania Woman Going to Jail Over Abortion Pills, by Sandy Hingston:

What the GOP could learn from Colorado’s free birth control program — if they’d just open their eyes and take their fingers out of their ears.

In cheery news from the western part of our great state, a 36-year-old mom has been sentenced to a year to 18 months in prison for providing her 16-year-old daughter with abortion pills she obtained illegally from Europe in an attempt to end the daughter’s unwanted pregnancy. The mom, who’s single, works as a nursing aide, and told the court there was no local abortion clinic available to her daughter (thanks, Governor Corbett), who had no health insurance (thanks again, Governor Corbett) to pay for an in-hospital abortion. The daughter ended up in the hospital anyway after the abortion pills induced severe cramping and bleeding.

What a happy little tale.

If batshit Republicans are serious about lowering the number of abortions, you know what they should do? They should give up the slow, costly process of legislating abortion clinics out of existence and simply make birth control free for the asking for all the women in America. . . .

September 8, 2014 in Abortion, Parenthood, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rio Grande Valley Abortion Clinic Reopens After Last Week's Ruling on Texas Law

The New York Times: Texas Abortion Clinic to Reopen After Ruling, by Erik Eckholm:

An embattled abortion clinic in McAllen, Tex., which was the last provider of abortions in the vast Rio Grande Valley when new state restrictions forced it to stop last fall, will start operating again by this weekend, its owner said Wednesday, after last week’s favorable decision by a federal judge.

But whether the clinic, a branch of Whole Woman’s Health, and at least a dozen others in the state can remain open for long will be determined by a federal appeals court, which has scheduled a hearing for Sept. 12 in New Orleans. . . .

September 4, 2014 in In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

California Health Officials Quash Catholic Employers' Efforts to Deprive Employees of Abortion Coverage

The Los Angeles Times: A women's rights victory as California nixes an attack on abortion coverage, by Michael Hiltzik:

With minimal fanfare, California state officials have nixed an underhanded effort by two Catholic-affiliated universities and their insurers to deprive the universities' employees of insurance coverage for abortions. 

The move by the Department of Managed Health Care is one of the strongest statements in favor of women's reproductive health rights you're likely to hear from officials of any state, at a time when those rights are under systematic attack. So it's proper to pay attention. . . .

August 27, 2014 in Abortion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

States Use "Feticide" Laws to Punish Pregnant Women

The Daily Beast: Indiana 'Feticide' Charge Is the Latest Fallout From States' Strict Anti-Abortion Laws, by Sally Kohn:

An Indiana woman has been charged with feticide—and faces decades in jail—for aborting an unwanted fetus, the latest in a string of cases that come close to criminalizing pregnancy itself.

Anyone who doubts that laws restricting abortion rights actually restrict the freedom of women to fundamentally control their bodies and health should look at Indiana. In that state, a 33-year-old woman has been charged with “feticide” after suffering premature delivery and seeking hospital treatment. She becomes the second woman to recently be charged with “feticide” in Indiana. Nationwide, at least 37 other states have similar laws that have restricted the rights of pregnant women under the guise of supposedly protecting fetuses. . . .

August 27, 2014 in Abortion, Fetal Rights, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Colorado Free Birth Control Program Dramatically Reduces Teen Pregnancy Rates

BBC News: Colorado birth control scheme causes drop in teen pregnancy, by Aleem Maqbool:

A Colorado programme that offers free birth control to teenagers has dramatically reduced the rate of teenage pregnancy. But the nature of the scheme's funding - a large anonymous donation - leaves it unclear whether it could work on a broader scale.

Dianzu Mosqueda Salinas is a young woman working at a family planning centre in the Colorado town of Boulder.

In 2010, she had walked into the very same centre as a nervous teenager, curious about birth control options. . . .

August 10, 2014 in Contraception, State and Local News, Teenagers and Children | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Federal District Judge Declares Alabama TRAP Law Unconstitutional

The Washington Post:  Federal judge: Alabama can’t enforce its new abortion law, by Amy Ohlheiser:

A federal judge has told the state of Alabama that it can’t enforce a new law requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges in nearby hospitals U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said in his decision Monday that the challenged portion of Alabama’s 2013 abortion law places an undue burden on women in the state, as the Alabama Media Group reported. . . . 

________________________________

The decision is available here.

August 4, 2014 in In the Courts, State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New York City Restriction on Abortion Protest, Mentioned by Supreme Court, Appears Largely Ineffective

The New York Times: New York’s Abortion Protest Law Is Praised by Justices, but Few Others, by Benjamin Mueller:

A crowd of abortion opponents converged on Zena Khan outside of the Choices Women’s Medical Center in Jamaica, Queens, on a recent Saturday. As a blurred mustard sun broke through the morning haze, Ms. Khan sped past posters depicting dismembered fetuses, flip cameras trained on her face and protesters demanding that she get back in her car and leave. . . .

“Should I call the cops?” she asked the escorts, her hands flying like agitated birds around her head. “I’m not even pregnant.” . . .

To the unfamiliar observer, the scene, repeated almost every Saturday morning at Choices and other clinics that perform abortions in New York City, would appear to be nothing so much as unbridled chaos. But it is also seen as one model for how abortion protests in the United States should be managed. . . .

July 30, 2014 in Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mass. Governor Patrick Signs New Law Addressing Anti-Abortion Protest

The Washington Post/Reuters: Governor signs new law on abortion protests:

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D) on Wednesday signed into law a measure allowing police to order anti-abortion protesters away from clinic entrances if their presence impedes public access.

The measure comes a month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law prohibiting protests within 35 feet of the entrances of reproductive health facilities, a measure that the top court found violated the right to freedom of speech. . . .

July 30, 2014 in Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Half of Texas Abortion Clinics Have Closed in Wake of Restrictions

NPR - Shots blog: Half Of Texas Abortion Clinics Close After Restrictions Enacted, by Carrie Feibel:

In a little over a year, the number of clinics that provide abortions in Texas fell to 20 from 41, and watchdogs say that as few as six may be left by September.

Many clinics closed because of a requirement that doctors at those clinics obtain hospital admitting privileges within a certain radius of the clinic, and many doctors couldn't comply. The requirement took effect last November. This week marks the first anniversary of the state law that started it all. . . .

July 18, 2014 in State and Local News, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Missouri Governor Vetoes 72-Hour Waiting Period for Abortions

ACLU press release: Nixon Vetoes Bill Forcing Women to Further Delay Abortions, Hearing Outcry from Missouri Women:

Jefferson City, Mo. – Hearing the voices of Missouri women, Governor Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have forced a woman who has already met with her health care professional and decided to have an abortion to delay getting the medical care she needs for at least 3 days. Last month, women and men gathered in front of the capitol for 72 hours in protest of the bill.

"Missouri women have been clear: They are beyond fed up with legislators playing politics with their health," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Governor Nixon has shown that he understands that extreme politicians can’t be allowed to interfere with a woman’s ability to get an abortion just because they disagree with her decision."

A woman who decides to have an abortion has already carefully considered her decision. Bills that create additional wait times force a woman to make an extra trip to the state’s only clinic. This is especially burdensome for low-income women and rural women, who often can’t take extra days off work or travel long distances.

Extremist politicians in Missouri, who are already criticizing Gov. Nixon for standing up for women’s health, continue to show they care more about politics than women. This legislative session alone, Missouri politicians introduced more than two dozen bills designed to restrict access to abortion. Earlier this year, Missouri Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger compared a woman’s decision about whether to continue a pregnancy to buying a new car or carpet. 

Talking Points Memo:  Why Gov. Jay Nixon’s Anti-Abortion Bill Veto Matters, by Robin Marty:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has vetoed a 72-hour waiting period between an initial consultation and an abortion, stopping the state from becoming the third to implement a three-day waiting period for a pregnancy termination. While the veto is fantastic news for women who are pregnant and wants to obtain an abortion in Missouri or the surrounding area, it is even better news for reproductive rights activists overall, as it signals a noticeable shift in the political waters when it comes to opposing abortion. . . .

July 9, 2014 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Politics, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Louisiana Faces Reproductive Health Care Crisis Even As It Continues Continues To Enact Anti-Choice Laws

RH Reality Check: In Louisiana, a New Law, and a Worsening Reproductive Health-Care Crisis, by Teddy Wilson:

It’s a muggy late May morning in New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood, and dozens of area residents are lined up in the rain for a health-care fair at the Rosa Keller Library and Community Center. For many of the people who live in Broadmoor—a predominantly low-income community of color—this is their only access to health care. . . .

June 23, 2014 in Poverty, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)