Sunday, June 30, 2013

NYT Hosts Debate Over "Coming Out on Abortion"

The New York Times: Coming Out on Abortion:

For years, conservatives rallied support around opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Support for same-sex marriage has grown, in part, because opponents have realized that friends and relatives are gay. But Republicans have continued to press for tougher laws against abortion.

The Guttmacher Institute says 30 percent of American women have had an abortion by age 40. Would support for abortion rights grow if more women discussed their abortions?

Read the discussion.

June 30, 2013 in Abortion, Culture, In the Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Texas Senator Wendy Davis Becomes Media Darling After Her Filibuster of Omnibus Abortion Bill

The Washington Post (editorial): Wendy Davis is a formidible foe of abortion restrictions:

Wendy DavisIN A moment made for Twitter, Texas Sen. Wendy Davis stood for more than 13 hours and filibustered an abortion-restricting bill into the wee hours of Tuesday night. Ms. Davis’s physical feat and her remarkable personal story captured the country’s attention — but her victory looks shaky. The state legislature is convening for another special session Monday at which the bill — which restricts abortion by creating unnecessary regulations — is expected to be reintroduced. . . . (editorial): Wendy Davis’s Argument and the Future of Abortion Rights:

Was Wendy Davis’s valiant filibuster also in vain? After all, the Texas Legislature is set toreconvene this week and probably move to the governor the same measure she opposed last week, which would restrict access to abortion. . . .

The Huffington Post: Wendy Davis Reflects On Filibuster And The Coming Special Session Abortion Fight, by Jason Cherkis:

After Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster helped defeat a controversial anti-abortion bill aimed at severely cutting access to abortion services across Texas, even her Republican colleagues had to express their admiration. . . .

The Los Angeles Times: Texas Sen. Wendy Davis' abortion filibuster galvanizes activists, by Molly Hennessy-Fiske & Mark Z. Barabak:

In a chaotic late-night scene that played out beneath the Capitol dome in Austin, a Texas lawmaker with pink sneakers and the steely resolve of a branding iron single-handedly stopped an effort to drastically curtail abortion in the Lone Star State. . . .

June 30, 2013 in Abortion Bans, In the Media, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thanks and Congratulations to My Spring Research Assistants!

Before June draws to a close, I wanted to thank my wonderful outgoing research assistants, Olivia Carrano, Lauren Paulk, and Beth Shyken, and to congratulate them on graduating from CUNY Law School.  Good luck on the bar exam!

June 30, 2013 in Law School | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Blame Game" Follows New York Legislature's Failure to Pass Women's Equality Agenda Fallout from failure to pass Women's Equality Agenda, by Zack Fink:

The Legislature failed to pass Governor Andrew Cuomo's Women's Equality Agenda before last week's end of session. Zack Fink has more on the fallout and the blame game that's being played out between the Assembly and the State Senate.When Governor Cuomo's ten point women's equality agenda failed in the legislature, there was plenty of blame to go around. The Assembly majority blamed the State Senate for passing only nine of ten points and the Senate majority blamed the Assembly for passing all ten, including a controversial abortion provision that was dead on arrival in the Senate. . . .

June 29, 2013 in Abortion, Reproductive Health & Safety, State Legislatures, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Final Health Care Rule Retains Contraceptive Insurance Mandate, Despite Religiously Based Objections

The New York Times: Contraceptives Stay Covered in Health Law, by Robert Pear:

Despite strong resistance from religious organizations, the Obama administration said Friday that it was moving ahead with a rule requiring most employers to provide free insurance coverage of contraceptives for women, a decision that has touched off a legal and political battle likely to rage for another year. . . .

June 29, 2013 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Alabama TRAP Law

ACLU press release: Federal Judge Blocks Alabama Abortion Law:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A federal judge has temporarily blocked an Alabama law that imposes medically unnecessary restrictions that would force most of the clinics in the state to stop providing abortions. The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Planned Parenthood Southeast.

"We're grateful that the court stepped in to prevent politicians from taking away a woman's ability to make this personal and private decision," said Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. "We will continue to fight to ensure that these decisions can be made by a woman with her family and her doctor, not by politicians sitting in Montgomery."

The law, which requires every physician who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital, is similar to a Mississippi law that was blocked by a federal district court earlier this year and to a bill recently passed by the Wisconsin legislature that has not yet been signed by the governor. 

Doctors and leading medical groups, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have opposed such requirements because they are unnecessary for the provision of safe, high-quality health care, and because they prevent women from getting necessary services. Alabama law does not require doctors providing surgery at other health centers to have admitting privileges even for more complicated procedures.

"The law is part of a part of a coordinated national campaign designed to outlaw abortion, state by state," said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "These laws insult women's intelligence by claiming to be about safety, when the true intent is to shut down clinics and prevent a woman from making a real decision about her pregnancy."

If the court had not blocked the law, it would have forced three of the state's five abortion clinics to stop providing abortions. Doctors at these clinics are unable to obtain hospital staff privileges due to factors such as the hospital's opposition to abortion or a requirement that physicians admit a minimum number of patients to the hospital. Because the procedure is extremely safe, it is impossible for physicians who provide abortions to meet the minimum requirement.

If the law were allowed to take effect, the only abortion clinics left in the state would be in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa. There would be no clinics that provide abortions left in any of the state's three most populous cities – Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery.   

For more information about this case, including legal documents please visit:

June 29, 2013 in Abortion, In the Courts, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney Pushes for Federal Legislation to Regulate Advertisements of "Crisis Pregnancy Centers"

Metro US: Maloney, Quinn fight for truth in advertising for 'crisis pregnancy centers', by Danielle Tcholakian:

Recent support from Rep. Carolyn Maloney has invigorated New York City Council. Rep. Maloney is pushing Congress to pass a new federal bill, stating, "No woman deserves to be misled or lied to about legal medical family planning services." . . .

June 29, 2013 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tenth Circuit Issues Ruling in Hobby Lobby's Challenge to Contraception Insurance Mandate

ACLU press release: Tenth Circuit Rules on Craft Store's Challenge to Contraception Coverage Rule:

CHICAGO – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit today issued a fractured decision in a case brought by the national craft supply chain Hobby Lobby, Inc., seeking an injunction to prevent compliance with the federal rule requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception. The court reversed an earlier decision denying the injunction, but refused to grant an injunction itself. Instead, it remanded the case to the district court.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, as well as in similar cases recently heard by three other courts of appeals. The ACLU's brief in support of the federal rule urged the court to require Hobby Lobby, Inc. to provide its 13,000 employees with health insurance coverage for all preventive services, including contraceptive care.

"We disagree with the court's reasoning," said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU. "Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. We are all entitled to our religious beliefs but not to impose those beliefs on others. A business like Hobby Lobby cannot use religion to discriminate by denying women coverage for contraception."

This case is one of more than 60 across the country addressing the rule mandating contraception coverage. Today's decision is the first issued by a circuit court in one of these cases. The 10th Circuit had taken the unusual step of hearing the case en banc during arguments in May. 

For more information on the cases challenging the federal contraceptive coverage mandate go to:

The decision can be found here:


June 27, 2013 in Contraception, In the Courts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Texas Abortion Bill Saga Continues

Politico: Abortion tables may turn in Texas on Monday, by Katie Glueck:

Rick-PerryTexas Gov. Rick Perry has a message for those hailing new liberal icon Wendy Davis for bringing down a restrictive state abortion measure: Enjoy it while it lasts.

Come Monday, the Texas Legislature will reconvene in special session, and enacting far-reaching abortion limits is a top Perry priority.

Davis became an overnight star this week after spearheading the filibuster in the state Senate, preventing the Perry-backed comprehensive abortion bill from being finalized before the session ended even though it had passed by 19-10. . . .

June 27, 2013 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court May Review Oklahoma Law Restricting Use of Early Abortion Pill

The New York Times: Supreme Court Takes Step Toward Hearing Abortion Case, by Erik Eckholm:

The Supreme Court took a tentative step on Thursday toward hearing a case on the regulation of abortion-inducing drugs, asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to clarify the meaning of a law that state judges had struck down as an unwarranted curb on medical practice and the right to abortion. . . .

June 27, 2013 in Abortion, In the Courts, Supreme Court, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

North Dakota's Six-Week Abortion Ban Challenged in Federal Court

The New York Times: Lawsuit Challenges North Dakota’s Abortion Limits, by Erik Eckholm:

A women’s rights group filed a lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday to block the country’s most stringent abortion law, a North Dakota ban on abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. . . .


The lawsuit also challenges the state's ban on abortions for reasons of sex selection or genetic fetal anomaly.  See the Center for Reproductive Rights press release.

June 26, 2013 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Texas Abortion Ban Bill Ruled Procedurally Dead

The New York Times: Texas Vote Passing Abortion Ban Is Rendered Moot, by Manny Fernandez & Erik Eckholm:

Texas flagThe state Senate’s vote came right at a midnight Tuesday deadline, amid widespread confusion the noise of a chanting crowd of the bill’s opponents in an upstairs gallery. Senate Democrats said the vote took place past the deadline at 12:02 a.m. or 12:03 a.m., while Republicans disputed those claims, saying the vote was legitimate.

But at 3 a.m., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the presiding officer of the Senate and a Republican supporter of the bill, told lawmakers and reporters that although the bill passed on a 19-to-10 vote, the bill could not be signed in the presence of the Senate and was therefore dead, blaming “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” as the primary cause. . . .

The Huffington Post: Texas Abortion Bill Filibustered By State Senator Wendy Davis Is Dead:

The Texas anti-abortion bill, which threatened to close nearly all of the abortion clinics in the state and prompted an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is dead, The Austin American-Statesman reported.

Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session's end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called "a people's filibuster,"The Associated Press reported.

The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried "Shame! Shame!" when Davis' filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” . . .

June 26, 2013 in Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Video Shows "Crisis Pregnancy Center" Staffer Giving Medically Inaccurate, Harmful Information

Salon: Caught on tape: Antiabortion center resorts to scary, dangerous lies, by Irin Carmon:

In a secretly recorded video (embedded at the bottom of this story), a young woman named Kate, 19, tells a counselor at Cleveland’s Womankind “maternal and prenatal care” center, “Usually we use condoms, but yesterday we didn’t.” She’s taken a pregnancy test, but is told it is probably too soon. Then Kate asks, “Like, I know there’s a pill you can take to not get pregnant. And I don’t know if you have to go to the doctor?”

After some confusion, the counselor replies inaccurately, “It sounds like the morning after pill. If you have intercourse and then take this pill and it causes a period to come on or something, or bleeding. It’s like having kind of an abortion.” She adds, “That could harm you. It really could harm you … You could hemorrhage from anything like that.” . . .

June 26, 2013 in Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Supreme Court Will Review Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Case from Massachusetts

Bloomberg: Abortion Clinic Buffer Zone Gets U.S. High Court Review, by Greg Stohr:

Supreme CtThe U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case that promises to redefine the speech rights of abortion opponents, agreeing to rule on a Massachusetts law that creates a 35-foot buffer zone around clinic entrances.

The justices today said they will hear an appeal from abortion foes seeking to overturn the Massachusetts law as a violation of the First Amendment. The challengers say they have a right to hand out leaflets and start conversations with women entering abortion clinics. . . .


For more on the cert. petition in McCullen v. Coakley, see SCOTUSblog.

June 24, 2013 in Abortion, In the Courts, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Op-Ed Column on a Decision to Have An Abortion at 23 Weeks

The New York Times (op-ed): My Abortion, at 23 Weeks, by Judy Nicastro:

I BELIEVE that parenthood starts before conception, at the moment you decide you want a child, and are ready and able to create a safe and loving home for her or him. I support abortion rights, but I reject the false distinction between the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” Here’s why. . . .

June 23, 2013 in Abortion Bans | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill Faces Procedural Obstacles and Crowds of Opponents

TexasAustin American-Statesman: House Democrats force delay on abortion bill, by Chuck Lindell:

The fight to pass some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws got much more difficult for Republicans after Texas House Democrats turned to the rule book Sunday, thwarting plans to speed the regulation bill toward passage by forcing a crucial delay in the waning days of the special session. . . .

KVUE: Hundreds crowd state Capitol for debate over controversial abortion bills, by Mark Wiggins & Michael Moore:

Clad in the color orange, hundreds of abortion rights supporters crowded the Texas Capitol Sunday. 
With a vote scheduled over controversial legislation that would add sweeping restrictions on abortions and abortion providers, a sea of people waited anxiously to show lawmakers Texas women are watching. . . .

RH Reality Check!: 700 Texans Gather for "People's Filibuster', GOP Lawmaker Tries to Silence 'Repetitive' Testimony, by Andrea Grimes:

We’re here as part of a citizens’ filibuster against a bill added to the Texas house’s special session calendar at the last minute by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. They spent the day anxiously waiting for their names to be called by  House State Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana). They’ve been poring over testimony, timing themselves on smartphones, practicing their statements in the hallway with quavering voices. . . .

June 23, 2013 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Caroline Corbin and Steven Smith Debate Contraception Mandate and Religious Freedom

Caroline Mala Corbin (University of Miami) and Steven Douglas Smith (University of San Diego) have posted Debate: The Contraception Mandate and Religious Freedom on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

In this online exchange, Steven D. Smith and Caroline Mala Corbin debate the wisdom of religious exemptions from the contraception mandate. 

Professor Smith argues that as applied to objecting religious employers, the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that contrary arguments are better understood as taking a position against rather than under RFRA. In his conclusion, Prof. Smith argues that free exercise extends to religious associations and institutions, not just to religious individuals. 

Professor Corbin disagrees on both points. First, one need not oppose RFRA to conclude that it does not require exemptions from the contraception mandate. Not every asserted burden amounts to the type of substantial burden that RFRA was designed to accommodate. Second, granting extensive religious liberty rights to employers, whether corporations or their owners, overlooks the rights of their less privileged and less powerful employees.

June 20, 2013 in Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Look at the Science Behind Claims About Fetal Pain

The Daily Beast: The Uncertain Science of Fetal Pain, by Michelle Goldberg:

As the Republican-led House of Representatives passes a far-reaching bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks based on the science of ‘fetal pain,’ Michelle Goldberg reports on whether the unborn can feel hurt.

Despite being passed by the House of Representatives, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortion after 20 weeks, has no chance of becoming law as long as Democrats control the Senate and the White House. It’s significant, though, as evidence of a broad new legislative assault on Roe v. Wade, one that aims to use the uncertain science of fetal pain to ban abortion before viability. . . .

June 19, 2013 in Abortion Bans, Congress, Fetal Rights, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Martín Hevia & Carlos Herrera Vacaflor on Ensuring a Right to Health Under A Framework Convention on Global Health

Martín Hevia (Universidad Torcuato Di Tella) and Carlos Herrera Vacaflor have published Effective Access to Justice Against State and Non-State Actors in the Framework Convention on Global Health: A Proposal in Health and Human Rights: An International Journal. Here is the abstract:

A Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) seeks to have a profound, effective, and broad impact: bringing access to health rights to the largest global community possible. One of the main issues the FCGH will address is how to make the right to health justiciable. An FCGH must articulate functional remedies for violations of the right to health by state or non-state actors. This paper analyzes one approach to ensuring the recognition of the rights defended in a future FCGH. Following the incremental development approach inspired by the architecture of other successful framework convention protocols, we propose the inclusion of access to health justice guidelines in an FCGH. This proposal is based on the amparo remedy, a figure already extant in the legislation of several Latin American countries; since its incorporation, these countries have witnessed a significant increase in litigation defending health rights.  This is only one of many important advantages to broadly adopting guidelines based on the amparo remedy. The proposed guidelines would serve as a basic agreement on broad principles on access to health justice.

June 19, 2013 in International, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Young Christian Right Leaders Urge Humor and Sarcasm to Sell GOP's Abortion Agenda

Salon: GOP plan to appeal to millennials: “Make abortion funny”, by Alex Seitz-Wald: 

Young Christian-right leaders think the answer to their problems with young voters lies in more snark

“How do you make abortion funny?” That was a key question mulled at a major conservative gathering Friday on how to make social conservatism appealing to young people, after an election where Republicans got trounced in the battle for millennial voters (who are are moving even further and further away from the Christian-right on marriage and other issues).

Abortion has to be made funny, the thinking goes, because funny sells on social media, and that’s where one goes to court young people. “You can engage with sarcasm, it’s hard with the abortion issue, but you have to,” said Students for Life president Kristan Hawkins at a breakout panel at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington today on how to win millennial voters. . . .

June 18, 2013 in Abortion, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)