Monday, April 7, 2014
The Huffington Post: The Return Of The Back-Alley Abortion, by Laura Bassett:
. . . The proliferation of well-trained, regulated, legal abortion doctors in the last 40 years has led to "dramatic decreases in pregnancy-related injury and death," according to the National Abortion Federation.
Now, however, Texas and other states are reversing course. State lawmakers enacted more abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013 than they had in the previous decade, a trend that appears likely to continue in 2014. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that nearly 300 anti-abortion bills are currently pending in state legislatures.
The new restrictions have had a significant impact on women's access to abortion. . . .
. . . The poorest area of Texas, the Rio Grande Valley near the Mexican border, has no remaining abortion clinics. Women who live there have to drive roughly 240 miles to San Antonio for the nearest clinic, but many of them are Mexican immigrants with restrictions on their work visas that prevent them from traveling that far.
In addition, the state has slashed funding for family planning, forcing 76 clinics that offer birth control and other reproductive health services but do not perform abortions to shut down.
"It's a horrible natural experiment that is taking place in Texas, where we are going to see what happens in 2014 when U.S. women don't have access to legal, safe abortion," said Dan Grossman, vice president of research for Ibis Reproductive Health, an international nonprofit. . . .
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Health Clinics Challenge New Restrictive Regulations in Texas That Could Shut Down Yet More Abortion Providers
The New York Times: Abortion Providers in Texas Sue Over a Restrictive Rule That Could Close Clinics, by Erik Eckholm:
Health clinics offering abortions in Texas filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday to block a new state rule that could shut down more than half of the state’s remaining providers this fall, forcing women seeking an abortion in southern and western Texas to drive several hundred miles each way or go out of state.
The rule, part of a sweeping anti-abortion law passed last year, requires that all clinics providing abortions at any stage of pregnancy, including nonsurgical drug-induced abortions, meet the costly building standards of ambulatory surgery centers. . . . .
The new suit comes less than a week after a federal appeals court refused to overturn another provision of the 2013 law that has already forced several clinics to close, leaving the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas without abortion services. . . .
“The greater the evidence that this rule will cause more clinics to close, and leave large areas of the state without abortion providers, the greater their chance of success,” said Caitlin E. Borgmann, an expert on reproductive law at the CUNY School of Law. . . .
Monday, March 31, 2014
Reuters: Legal challenge to Alabama abortion law will go to trial, judge rules, by Verna Gates:
A federal judge on Monday ordered a trial to determine whether a new Alabama law requiring doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital admitting privileges poses a significant impediment for women seeking an abortion.
Since abortion clinics typically use traveling physicians, the law could cause the closure of three of Alabama's five facilities, a potential constitutional violation, abortion supporters have argued in court.
In an 86-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson cited the possibility of an "undue burden." . . .
Friday, March 7, 2014
Rio Grande Valley in South Texas Now Without Abortion Providers After Two More Clinics Shut Down in Wake of New Law
The New York Times: Abortion Law Pushes Texas Clinics to Close Doors, by Manny Fernandez:
Shortly before a candlelight vigil on the sidewalk outside, employees of the last abortion clinic in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas shut the doors early Thursday evening, making legal abortion unavailable in the poorest part of the state in the wake of tough new restrictions passed last year by the Texas Legislature. . . .
See also: CBS: 400-mile stretch of Texas now without an abortion clinic
Friday, February 7, 2014
Sacramento Bee/AP: Judge hears arguments over Ala abortion law, by Kim Chandler:
Opponents of Alabama's new abortion clinic law told a federal judge Friday that three of the state's five clinics will close and poor women will have significantly curtailed access to abortion if the law goes into effect.
Lawyers for the state responded that the law was approved to protect women's health and that the court can't know the actual result on clinics ahead of time. . . .
News & Observer: Attorney general says North Carolina will appeal abortion ultrasound ruling, by Craig Jarvis:
Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday that the state will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that strikes down the narrated ultrasound provision of an abortion-regulation bill.
“While I oppose laws like this that force the state into women’s medical decisions, the state will appeal this ruling because legitimate constitutional questions remain that should be decided by a higher court,” Cooper said in a statement his office released. “It is the duty of the Office of Attorney General to defend state laws regardless of whether I agree with them.” . . .
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory recently expressed his opposition to an appeal.
Thursday, February 6, 2014
My commentary, In Abortion Litigation, It's the Facts that Matter, has been published by the Harvard Law Review Forum. Here is a summary:
This brief commentary argues that courts need to do a better job of closely examining the facts underlying abortion legislation. Courts applying the undue burden standard generally demand from the plaintiffs fact-intensive proof that an abortion law will cause harm. At the same time, courts are highly deferential to the states’ own fact-based assertions about why these laws are needed. Although the “purpose prong” of the undue burden standard has largely been written off as toothless, courts can smoke out illegitimate purposes indirectly by looking more skeptically at the factual foundations supposedly necessitating abortion laws. Recent challenges to virtually identical abortion restrictions have turned on judges’ willingness or refusal to examine more closely the governments’ factual assumptions. This explains the opposite (preliminary) conclusions reached by the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, respectively, on the constitutionality of laws requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, an issue the Supreme Court appears likely to consider.
Jezebel: Louisiana Abortion 'Emergency Rule' Fight Ends For Now, by Hillary Crosley:
Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals have dropped the “emergency” abortion regulations which threatened to close clinics statewide. Don't start throwing the confetti yet; this doesn't mean they won’t stop trying.
“The Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) is rescinding its November 2013 emergency rule for outpatient abortion facilities licensing standards,” spokesperson Olivia Watkins said in a statement on the decision. “The Department will reissue a revised rule and notice of intent at a later date.” . . .
Saturday, February 1, 2014
abcNEWS.com: Viewing Ultrasound Unlikely to Deter Women from Abortion, Study Finds, by Gillian Mohney:
A new study has found that pregnant women who plan on having an abortion are not often dissuaded by viewing an ultrasound.
The study, designed to find out if pregnant women who view their ultrasounds are significantly less likely to go through with a planned abortion, was published this month in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal. It looked at the cases of more than 15,000 women, the total number of pregnant women who went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Los Angeles in 2011 and were planning to have an abortion. . . .
Sunday, January 26, 2014
wsoctv.com: Gov. McCrory against appealing NC abortion speech case, by Emery P. Dalesio:
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory opposes a court fight to reverse a federal judge's ruling invalidating part of a state law that would have required abortion providers to describe a pre-procedure ultrasound's image to every patient, the Republican governor's office said Saturday. . . .
Friday, January 24, 2014
E! Online: Sarah Silverman and Jesus Chat About Abortion, Women's Reproductive Rights—Watch Now, by Rebecca Macatee:
Sarah Silverman might've known that a PSA with her "Jesus f--king Christ" talking about abortions would get people's attention.
And just why is God's son (an actor portraying Him, actually) paying her a visit in this controversial YouTube clip? To discuss women's reproductive rights and specifically to talk about access to safe abortions in the state of Texas. . . .
Monday, January 20, 2014
Feministing: Running out of Ideas, Congressman Suggests Abortion Restrictions as Job Creation, by Veronica Bayetti Flores:
Remember HR7, that awful bill that would restrict federal insurance coverage of abortion and add sundry fun new restrictions on abortion coverage in DC and nationwide? Well, nobody knew this before, but it turns out it is also a job growth bill! Let Congressman Bob Goodlatte, creative outside-the-box thinker and Republican representative for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, explain it to you . . . .
JURIST: Federal judge rules North Carolina abortion ultrasound law is unconstitutional, by Bradley McAllister:
A judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina[official website] on Friday ruled [opinion, PDF] that a North Carolina state law requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound procedure is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment rights [LII backgrounder] of physicians and patients. The lawsuit was brought by several North Carolina physicians and health care providers on behalf of themselves and their patients as a challenge to the constitutionality of a state law passed in 2011. The Woman's Right to Know Act [materials] required women to have an ultrasound administered and explained by a medical professional at least four hours before she would be permitted to undergo an abortion. Also, the law mandated that images of the ultrasound be displayed so the woman could view them and a medical professional must offer the woman the opportunity to hear the fetal heart tone. . . .
If the Fourth Circuit affirms this ruling, there will be a Circuit split on the issue. In January 2012, the Fifth Circuit ruled in Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Servs. v. Lakey that plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail in their First Amendment challenge to a similar law, vacating a preliminary injunction granted by the district court. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the state based on the Fifth Circuit's ruling. The Supreme Court declined an opportunity to consider the constitutionality of pre-abortion ultrasound requirements when Oklahoma appealed a state supreme court ruling striking down its law. An affirmance by the Fourth Circuit, paired with the Fifth Circuit's contrary ruling, may prompt the Court to take up the issue.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Slate - XX Factor blog: Does Looking at the Ultrasound Before an Abortion Change Women's Minds?, by Katy Waldman:
The journal Obstetrics & Gynecology published an important study this month: the deepest inquiry yet into whether viewing ultrasound images can influence a woman’s decision to have an abortion. . . .
Researchers analyzed 15,575 medical records from an urban abortion care provider in Los Angeles. . . .
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
A federal appeals court heard arguments Monday on whether the state of Texas can enforce a law that led to the closing of several abortion clinics, a case that ultimately appears bound for the U.S. Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans didn't indicate how soon it would rule on whether a district judge erred in declaring parts of the 2013 law unconstitutional. . . .
In November, the groups challenging the new provisions asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the 5th Circuit's stay of Yeakel's ruling. The high court rejected the request in a 5-4 opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the minority opinion that he believes at least four justices will vote to hear the case no matter how the 5th Circuit ultimate rules. . . .
Saturday, January 4, 2014
The New York Times: Access to Abortion Falling as States Pass Restrictions, by Erik Eckholm:
A three-year surge in anti-abortion measures in more than half the states has altered the landscape for abortion access, with supporters and opponents agreeing that the new restrictions are shutting some clinics, threatening others and making it far more difficult in many regions to obtain the procedure.
Advocates for both sides are preparing for new political campaigns and court battles that could redefine the constitutional limits for curbing the right to abortion set by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and later modifications by the Supreme Court.
. . . A partial test is expected this month, when the Supreme Court announces whether it will hear Arizona’s appeal to reinstate its 20-week ban, which was overturned by federal courts. . . .
“If they take the Arizona case, it seems like at least four of the justices are willing to reconsider the viability line as the point at which states can ban abortions,” said Caitlin Borgmann, an expert on reproductive rights at the City University of New York School of Law. . . .
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Guttmacher Institute: Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights: 2013 State Policy Review:
Reproductive health and rights were once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2013. Over the course of the year, 39 states enacted 141 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Half of these new provisions, 70 in 22 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. In sharp contrast to this barrage of abortion restrictions, a handful of states adopted measures designed to expand access to reproductive health services. Most notably, California enacted the first new state law in more than seven years designed to expand access to abortion, and five states adopted measures to expand access to comprehensive sex education, facilitate access to emergency contraception for women who have been sexually assaulted and enable patients’ partners to obtain STI treatment.
Twenty-two states enacted 70 abortion restrictions during 2013. This makes 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of new abortion restrictions enacted in a single year. To put recent trends in even sharper relief, 205 abortion restrictions were enacted over the past three years (2011–2013), but just 189 were enacted during the entire previous decade (2001–2010). . . .
Aljazeera America: Anti-Abortion Pregancy Clinics Thrive in Texas as Real Clinics Close, by Carolyn Jones:
Betsy Garcia hovers nervously outside an abortion clinic in McAllen, Texas. After accepting a pamphlet from someone on the street, she goes to a different building where a woman in a white coat greets her with warmth. The woman offers to show Betsy a graphic video about abortion, then the two pray in front of a crucifix before the teen exposes her belly for an ultrasound. "God is going to bless you in a tremendous way with this child," says the woman as she presses a rosary into the girl's hands. The final scene shows a radiant Betsy dandling her 6-month-old daughter on her lap. . . .
Monday, December 30, 2013
Texas Department of State Health Services Finalizes Abortion Regulations, Including Ambulatory Surgical Center Requirement
The Texas Tribune: State Agency Finalizes Abortion Regulations, by Becca Aaronson:
The Texas Department of State Health Services finalized strict new abortion regulations on Friday, claiming that none of the 19,000 public comments on the rules provided evidence that they are unconstitutional.
“The department is aware of no comments that explain how particular abortion-seeking patients will face unconstitutionally long travel distances, unconstitutionally long wait times or unconstitutionally high costs for abortion services in any particular part of the state,” according to the department’s background and justification for the rules, published in the Texas Register. . . .
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Americans United for Life Promotes Private Lawsuits Against Abortion Clinics to Enforce Anti-Choice Laws
Feministing: The Latest Anti-Choice Trick: Letting "Ordinary Americans" Sue Clinics to Enforce Abortion Restrictions, by Maya Dusenbery:
Americans United for Life is the ALEC of the anti-choice movement.
Every year, the DC-based group releases a handbook filled with model legislation that abortion foes in state legislatures across the country can use to draft their own bills. It’s no coincidence that so many of the hundreds of anti-choice state laws passed in recent years–from ultrasound bills to telemedicine abortion bans–have been so similar. Often they were inspired by AUL’s models–sometimes even copied verbatim. In 2011, for example, AUL could take credit for 24 of the 92 anti-abortion restrictions passed in the states. . . . .