Thursday, February 27, 2014
ThinkProgress: Meet The Lawmaker Who’s Trying To End Abortion In Alabama, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
On Tuesday, a panel of Alabama lawmakers advanced four stringent anti-abortion bills that would prevent women in the state from exercising their reproductive rights. The proposed legislation would ban abortions after just six weeks; force women to wait 48 hours before getting an abortion; make it more difficult for minors to end an unwanted pregnancy; and impose more emotional trauma on women who choose to have an abortion after discovering lethal fetal abnormalities. . . .
State officials are already warning that the heartbeat bill will provoke an immediate legal challenge. But the lawmaker who proposed the six-week abortion ban, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), is unperturbed. “I’m not really concerned about the challenges. We’ve had challenges before. We wouldn’t have some of the things we have now if it hadn’t been for Brown versus Board of Education,” McClurkin told a local ABC News affiliate, referring to the landmark court ruling that desegregated schools. . . .
Rolling Stone: The Seven Most Common Lies About Abortion, by Lauren Rankin:
Debunking anti-choice misinformation about women's health
Chances are, you know someone who has had an abortion. Statistically, it's a near-certainty: In the U.S., one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45. But despite how incredibly common abortion is, it remains mired in stigma and misinformation. Much of what we may think we know about this subject is actually outright lies told by abortion opponents to dissuade women out of seeking safe and legal abortion care. . . .
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Anibel Faundes, et al., have posted Brazilians Have Different Views on When Abortion Should Be Legal, But Most Do Not Agree with Imprisoning Women for Abortion on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Unsafe abortions remain a major public health problem in countries with very restrictive abortion laws. In Brazil, parliamentarians − who have the power to change the law − are influenced by “public opinion”, often obtained through surveys and opinion polls. This paper presents the findings from two studies. One was carried out in February–December 2010 among 1,660 public servants and the other in February–July 2011 with 874 medical students from three medical schools, both in São Paulo State, Brazil. Both groups of respondents were asked two sets of questions to obtain their opinion about abortion: 1) under which circumstances abortion should be permitted by law, and 2) whether or not women in general and women they knew who had had an abortion should be punished with prison, as Brazilian law mandates. The differences in their answers were enormous: the majority of respondents were against putting women who have had abortions in prison. Almost 60% of civil servants and 25% of medical students knew at least one woman who had had an illegal abortion; 85% of medical students and 83% of civil servants thought this person(s) should not be jailed. Brazilian parliamentarians who are currently reviewing a reform in the Penal Code need to have this information urgently. . . .
Feministing: Mother Charged With a Felony for Helping her Daughter Order Illegal Abortion Drugs Online, by Maya Dusenbery:
Well well well. The anti-choice claim that criminalizing abortion won’t lead to people being thrown in jail for ending their pregnancies is becoming harder to sustain. These days, even mothers who help their daughters get the abortions they want can be charged. . . .
MSNBC.com: Gender-based abortion ban gets green light, by Traci G. Lee:
The South Dakota House approved a bill last week that would make gender-based abortions illegal in response to concerns that families around the world value males over females.
House Bill 1162 would “prohibit the practice of sex-selective abortions” in South Dakota, adding further restrictions to the state’s restrictive abortion laws. As Mother Jones reported Tuesday, HB 1162 passed the Republican-controlled House by a vote of 60 to 10, paving the way for South Dakota to become the eighth state in the country to ban sex-selective abortions. . . .
USA Today: FDA raises concerns about three-parent embryo procedure, by Karen Weintraub:
In two days of hearings ending Wednesday, a federal committee proved quite skeptical about research that might help some patients birth healthy children — but might also open the door to human gene manipulation.
The procedure being considered, called mitochondrial transfer, would mix the genes of two women in hopes of creating a healthy baby. . . .
WebMD: FDA Explores '3-Person' Embryo Fertilization, by Dennis Thompson:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration hearings opened Tuesday on a controversial fertilization technique that uses the DNA from three people -- two women and one man -- with the goal of preventing inherited genetic diseases. . . .
The Charleston Gazette: House passes 20-week abortion ban, by Phil Kabler:
Legislation that would make it a felony to perform abortions on fetuses after 20 weeks' gestation passed an emotionally charged House of Delegates late Tuesday evening on a 79-17 vote. . . .
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. . . .
Ignoring Public Sentiment, Anti-Choice Activists Attempt to Make Abortion "An Animating Issue" for GOP in 2014
TIME: Battles Over Abortion Flare in 2014, by Grace Wyler:
With campaign season on the horizon, reproductive health laws are defining the politics of state capitals and campaigns
As Republicans return to the campaign trail again after a disappointing 2012 election cycle, pro-life activists say they are emboldened and are looking to turn abortion into an animating issue for the Republican Party in 2014.
Their enthusiasm, coming as some in the party have cautioned a turn away from divisive social issues, is rising after a string of gains at the state-level last year. . . .
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.
MotherJones: MAP: The Republican Crusade to End Insurance Coverage of Abortion, by Molly Redden:
Lawmakers have tried to eliminate private insurance coverage for abortion in 20 states.
Last week, the GOP-led House of Representatives passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, a bill that would radically limit Americans' ability to buy private-sector health insurance that covers abortion. With the Senate under Democratic control and Barack Obama in the White House, the bill is doomed to fail. But abortion foes can rest easy. Although their momentum has stalled on Capitol Hill, there is a quiet campaign underway in states across the country to outlaw private-insurance coverage of abortion—and it's working. . . .
Thursday, February 6, 2014
The New York Times editorial: A Missing Argument on Contraceptives:
One of the most anticipated showdowns of the Supreme Court’s current term will take place March 25, when the justices are scheduled to hear two cases brought by secular, for-profit corporations whose owners want an exemption, based on their religious beliefs, from the requirement that employers’ health plans cover the full range of contraceptive services without a co-payment. . . .
Oddly, the Justice Department has relegated to a footnote what may be the strongest single argument against allowing the two companies to deny their workers contraceptive coverage that they would otherwise be entitled to under the health care law. . . .
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.” . . .
Anchorage Daily News/AP: Judge grants restraining order against state in abortion rules case:
Judge John Suddock approved the order Tuesday at the request of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, which has sued the state. . . .
U.N. Committee Report Blasts Vatican for Policies on Sexual Abuse and Attitudes on Sexuality, Contraception, and Abortion
The Huffington Post/AP: UN Report Denounces Vatican For Sex Abuse And Stands On Contraception, Abortion And Homosexuality, by Nicole Winfield:
The Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a U.N. human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.
In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the U.N. committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed. . . .
ABCnews: Anti-Abortion Groups Don't Want You to Buy Thin Mints, by M.L. Johnson:
Anti-abortion groups angry over what they see as the Girl Scouts' support for abortion-rights advocates, including Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, have launched a cookie boycott.
The groups have taken issue with tweets and Facebook postings that link to articles recognizing Davis, who shot to political stardom last year with a filibuster of abortion limits, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, another Democrat who supports abortion rights. . . .
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Reuters: Brain-dead Canadian woman kept on life support to save fetus, by Julie Gordon:
A 32-year-old Canadian woman who has been declared brain dead is being kept on life support in a Victoria, British Columbia hospital, with doctors working to keep her alive long enough to deliver her unborn son. . . .
The Diocese of Helena is defending its decision to fire an unwed Butte Central teacher because she is pregnant.
Shaela Evenson “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract,” which requires her to follow Catholic teachings in both her personal and professional life, Superintendent Patrick Haggarty said Tuesday. “It’s a sensitive issue, and it’s unfortunate all around.” . . .
The New York Times: Ethics Questions Arise as Genetic Testing of Embryos Increases, by Gina Kolata:
. . . Genetic testing of embryos has been around for more than a decade, but its use has soared in recent years as methods have improved and more disease-causing genes have been discovered. The in vitro fertilization and testing are expensive — typically about $20,000 — but they make it possible for couples to ensure that their children will not inherit a faulty gene and to avoid the difficult choice of whether to abort a pregnancy if testing of a fetus detects a genetic problem.
But the procedure also raises unsettling ethical questions that trouble advocates for the disabled and have left some doctors struggling with what they should tell their patients. . . .