Thursday, July 31, 2014
Does Hobby Lobby Open Door To Renewed Conscience-Based Claims for Exemptions from Abortion Restrictions?
MSNBC: Satanists Aren't the Only Ones Following Hobby Lobby's Lead, by Irin Carmon:
On Monday, the Satanic Temple drew headlines for declaring that, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, it was “asserting a religious exemption from the burden of state mandated ‘informational’ abortion materials for those who share their deeply held beliefs.”
In other words, they wanted a conscience clause from laws intended to dissuade women from having abortions by mandating an ultrasound or that a doctor impart biased or medically-inaccurate information about abortion. . . .
But the Satanists are hardly the first to use religion to make an affirmative argument for reproductive rights. For decades, pro-choice activists have been trying to make a religious claim for their view – and generally failing. . . .
But now that the Supreme Court has opened the door to more robust religious exemptions under RFRA, there might be a new opportunity for supporters of abortion rights to try their luck. . . .
InsuranceNewsNet: Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Expand Access to Contraception for Military Women, Dependents:
Legislation supported by women's health care advocates would also boost access to comprehensive family planning counseling
Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation, the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014, which would overhaul current Department of Defense'spolicy on contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling. The bill would bring health care provided by the military in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring that all women who receive health care through the United States military have access to all FDA-approved contraception with nohealth insurance co-pay. The bill would also require the Department of Defense to develop and implement family planning counseling for all servicewoman at specific points during her service. . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
ThinkProgress: UN Warns Countries With Draconian Abortion Bans That They’re Violating Human Rights, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
United Nations officials are urging several countries with particularly harsh abortion bans to increase legalization of the medical procedure, pointing out their current laws could be in breach of international human rights treaties.
In its periodic reviews of member countries’ policies to ensure they’re compliant with the Geneva Conventions, the UN Human Rights Committee is recommending that Ireland and Chile update their abortion laws to ensure access for more women. Those two countries have some of the most restrictive abortion policies in the world; Chile imposes a total ban on the procedure, while Ireland has a nearly total ban with an extremely narrow exception. . . .
Jezebel: Legalizing Prostitution Could Lower the Spread of HIV by One-Third, by Hillary Crosley:
Here's a crazy thought; legalizing prostitution could reduce the number of international HIV infections for female sex workers by at least a third in several countries. Health experts presented this new research drawn from Canada, India and Kenya during the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday. . . .
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
The New York Times: Advocates Shun ‘Pro-Choice’ to Expand Message, by Jackie Calmes:
For all the talk about women’s issues in this year’s midterm election campaigns, something is missing. One of the most enduring labels of modern politics — pro-choice — has fallen from favor, a victim of changed times and generational preferences.
That shift might seem surprising in this political season, when there has been a renewed focus on reproductive issues like access to abortion and birth control. Yet advocates say that the term pro-choice, which has for so long been closely identified with abortion, does not reflect the range of women’s health and economic issues now being debated. . . .
Fifth Circuit Panel Rules Mississippi's Admitting Privileges Law Cannot Be Enforced Against State's Sole Remaining Clinic
SCOTUSblog: Last abortion clinic in Mississippi may be spared, by Lyle Denniston:
In a ruling that is likely to mean that the only abortion clinic still operating in Mississippi will not have to close, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled on Tuesday that a two-year-old state law regulating clinics cannot be enforced against that facility in the city of Jackson. The ruling, dividing the panel two to one, is here. . . .
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Bloomberg Business Week: Christie Call to Cool Abortion Talk Follows Curbs in N.J., by Elise Young:
Chris Christie, who last week prodded Republicans to drop anti-abortion rhetoric to appeal to more voters, has steadily weakened access to the procedure in New Jersey.
Even with a Democratic-controlled legislature committed to reproductive rights, the second-term governor’s annual funding cuts for women’s health services have prompted at least six clinics to close since 2010, according to lawmakers. . . .
Saturday, July 26, 2014
The Hill - Contributors blog: Debunking the bad science on abortion and women's health, by Andrea Flynn:
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), a bill that would prevent unnecessary restrictions on abortions and abortion providers. The opposition used overblown and often incorrect claims to drive home the familiar message that abortion is dangerous, bad for women and shouldn't be considered part of women's healthcare.
In the face of tireless attacks on reproductive rights, it is important to revisit those claims, set the record straight and remind the opposition of the real health threats facing too many U.S. families. . . .
Gender & Sexuality Law Blog: When Reality Becomes Satire: Anti-Contraception Nurse Sues Family Planning Clinic For Not Hiring Her, by Kara Loewentheil:
And now for an exercise in absurdity: a nurse who refuses to prescribe contraception is suing a family planning clinic because it refused to hire her. It refused to hire her for a very simple reason, which probably seems obvious: It’s a family planning clinic, and she refused to perform family planning services. Rather than take that as a fairly reasonable basis for rejection, and conclude that perhaps she would be happier and of more use in a different context (a crisis pregnancy center, perhaps), the nurse decided to sue the clinic, claiming that it discriminated against her on the basis of her religion. . . .
Thursday, July 24, 2014
The New York Times: Conservatives Hone Script to Light a Fire Over Abortion, by Jeremy W. Peters:
It was not on the public schedule for the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting at the stately Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. But inside a conference room, a group of conservative women held a boot camp to strengthen an unlikely set of skills: how to talk about abortion. . . .
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Salon: Women who don’t use birth control explain why not, slut-shame those who do, by Jenny Kutner:
Hint: It's because they don't understand how birth control works
In the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby ruling that will effectively allow corporations to prevent their female employees from accessing certain forms of contraception, BuzzFeed posted explanations from 22 of its own female employees about why they use birth control. The responses ranged from medical — “for my endometriosis” — to ethical — “because it’s none of your business” — to practical — “because condoms break sometimes.” All were different, but each reflected some of the most common reasons that more than 99 percent of sexually active adult women use some form of contraception.
Well, the <1 percent of women who don’t use birth control took it upon themselves to respond to BuzzFeed by explaining their own reproductive choices, listing the reasons theydon’t use birth control on the faith-centered blog Catholic Sistas (not a spelling error). But instead of simply offering up their “logical” (read: totally putative) justifications, the women also illustrated a general lack of understanding of how birth control works, as well as what it means not to try to “force others to follow what we believe” by sending preachy messages about the virtue of sexing to make babies. . . .
Forbes: Eden Foods To Grocers: Stick With Us Despite Birth Control 'Attack', by Claire O'Connor:
Like craft chain Hobby Lobby, Eden Foods sued the Department of Health and Human Services in a bid to reverse what its devoutly Catholic founder calls “unconstitutional government overreach.”
Michael Potter, who started the Michigan-based former co-op in the 1960s, doesn’t believe he should have to cover certain types of birth control as part of his company’s health insurance plan as required by the Affordable Care Act.
In recent days a handful of regional grocery co-ops have threatened to boycott, with activists advising those concerned about women’s health to return the company’s products to Whole Foods and its ilk. . . .
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The Hill: ObamaCare subsidies in jeopardy, by Elise Viebeck:
A pillar of ObamaCare was put in jeopardy Tuesday as two appeals courts split on whether the law’s premium subsidies are legal in 36 states. . . .
Politico: How Obama’s court strategy may help save Obamacare, by Josh Gerstein:
Last fall, President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid deployed the “nuclear option” to help get three liberal judges onto the D.C. Circuit appeals court.
Tuesday’s ruling on Obamacare is a dramatic example of why they forced the issue.
On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a 2-1 decision that could gut much of Obamacare by preventing the federal government from offering subsidies to many Americans. The two judges in the majority were appointed by Republican presidents.
But the full court now has seven judges appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. It took only an hour or so for the administration to announce that it plans to ask the entire bench to review the decision. . . .
In an effort to make certain that physicians who perform the procedure are fully qualified to do so, a new state law passed Tuesday will require Mississippi doctors to climb an 18-foot wall before entering any medical facility providing abortions.
The Clinic Fortification and Physician Excellence Act calls for the construction of concrete barriers nearly two stories tall and 4 feet thick around all clinics offering abortion services, and for physicians working at these sites to scale such barricades unassisted, a landmark piece of legislation that supporters hailed as a victory for women’s health.
“No woman, in this state or any other, should ever receive care from a medical professional incapable of climbing an 18-foot wall,” said Governor Phil Bryant . . . .
Obama Administration To Revise Accommodation for Certain Religious Non-Profits That Object to Contraception Rule
The Wall Street Journal: Obama Administration to Revise Part of Contraception Rule, by Louise Radnofsky:
Wheaton College Objected to Allowing Contraceptive Coverage to Be Provided by an Insurance Company
The Obama administration said Tuesday it will revise a compromise arrangement for religiously affiliated universities and charities that object to providing contraception in workers' health insurance plans, in response to a Supreme Court order earlier this month.
A majority of Supreme Court justices granted Wheaton College, an Illinois Christian school, a temporary reprieve from contraception coverage requirements in the Affordable Care Act on July 3. That was days after the high court ruled that closely held for-profit companies such as arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby should be allowed to opt out of the provision if their owners have religious objections to certain forms of birth control. . . .
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Obama's Anti-Discrimination Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees Will Not Exempt Religious Groups
The New York Times: Obama Set to Bar Federal Contractors From Anti-Gay Discrimination, by Julie Hirschfeld Davis:
President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work, fulfilling a promise to a crucial Democratic constituency, White House officials said on Friday. But the directive will not exempt religious groups, as many of them had sought. . . .
Friday, July 18, 2014
The Oregonian/AP: Idaho defends fetal-pain abortion law in federal court:
A federal judge's ruling striking down Idaho's law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy should be reversed because criminal charges against the eastern Idaho woman who filed the initial lawsuit had been dismissed, Idaho attorneys said. . . .
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. . . .