Saturday, September 30, 2017

House Republicans Want To Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks

Refinery 29 (Sept. 27, 2017): House Republicans Want To Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks, by Andrea Gonzalez-Ramirez

The Republicans in the House are planning to vote next Friday (October 3rd) on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This law would ban abortions after 20 weeks with certain exceptions: rape, incest, and danger to the mother's life. While 17 states have already adopted similar legislation, this law would make the 20 week ban apply nationwide. This law, if passed, would make it illegal after 20 weeks to attempt or perform an abortion, and the penalty would include fines and up to 5 years in prison. 

House Republican Kevin McCarthy, who is introducing the bill for a vote, stated that this law will, "...protect those children who science has proven can feel pain, and give them a chance to grow and live full and happy lives. We have an obligation to speak and defend for those who can’t speak for themselves." Despite McCarthy's claim, there is currently no scientific consensus supporting the idea that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. Most scientists believe that the pain feeling brain development occurs in the third trimester. 

While only 1.3% of abortions are performed post 20 weeks, this law would still force many women to carry unviable pregnancies to term. The bill has the support of President Trump and it is expected to pass in the House, but it is unclear whether it will have the same outcome in the Senate.  




September 30, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Portugal Is European Country with Fewest Abortions

The Portugal News Online (Sept. 14, 2017): Portugal Is European County with Fewest Abortions:

Portugal held a national referendum in 2007 that resulted in the legalization of abortion of pregnancies of up to ten weeks.  Abortions must be performed in a facility licensed to perform the procedure.  Figures from 2015 indicate that abortions were at their lowest level in that country since 2008, the first year that they were legal.  Every year there have been fewer abortions than the year before.  Portugal's retiring health director Francisco George has cited the small percentage of abortions per 1,000 live births as evidence of the success of Portugal's abortion laws.  

Abortion used to be against the law in Portugal, a reality that resulted in grim health consequences for women in need of safe termination procedures.  George remarked that the decriminalization of abortion "has improved the health conditions for women." 

September 26, 2017 in Abortion, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Breastfeeding Behind Bars: Do All Moms Deserve the Right?

Huffington Post (Sept. 17, 2017): Breastfeeding Behind Bars: Do All Moms Deserve the Right?, by Kimberly Seals Allers

33-year-old Monique Hidalgo is mom to a 5-week old baby. Her child's father brings their infant to visit her on the weekends, as Hidalgo is also an inmate at a New Mexican state prison. Due to her incarceration, Hidalgo was refused contact with her newborn when she wanted to breastfeed her. She was also denied access to a breast pump that would've allowed her to provide milk for her baby from behind bars.

Last month, though, a Sante Fe judge ruled that the Corrections Department policy denying incarcerated mothers their right to breastfeed was unconstitutional. The judge ordered that Hidalgo be able to breastfeed her child during visits and also ordered that she receive access to an electric pump.

"While there have been many cases, both in federal and state court, affirming a woman’s right to breastfeed in a public place or at work, incarcerated women have largely been left out of this conversation,” said Amber Fayerberg, Ms. Hidalgo’s lead counsel, at Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward, whose firm is working the case pro-bono. “This case acknowledges that incarcerated women are not just “inmates,” but women and, often, mothers,” Fayerberg said in an email interview.

Prisons are generally punitive over rehabilitative when it comes to incarcerated parents dealing with incarceration. Society rarely accounts for the circumstances that led to a parent's imprisonment, including poverty and racism. An incarcerated mother is deemed a "bad mom" in order to justify stripping her of the opportunity to maintain important, biological connections with her child like breastfeeding. 

Women's advocates highlight that, in an effort to punish mothers, policies like those that forbid breastfeeding are actually punishing the infants as well, depriving them not only of their mother, but also of the benefits associated with breastfeeding. Experts also find that enabling the mother-baby connection may be a beneficial way to keep a mother connected to her family and community, therefore increasing her chances of successful re-integration and discouraging recidivism. 

Reproductive justice is scarcely considered with incarcerated women in mind, however, Democratic senators have recently introduced positive legislation. Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) introduced The Dignity for Incarcerated Women's Act. The bill would prohibit federal prisons from shackling pregnant women or placing them in solitary confinement, require federal prisons to provide free tampons and pads for women, and would extend visiting hours for inmates and their children. 

Even as we make progress, though, the question remains: which aspects of the mother-child connection are a right versus a privilege? When the early months of an infant's life are so critical to future development, shouldn't minimizing the separation of incarcerated mothers and their children be a societal goal rather than a constitutional battle? 

September 22, 2017 in In the Courts, Incarcerated Women, Politics, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chilean Court Upholds Right to Abortion

Tribunal Constitucional de Chile (Aug. 21, 2017):

A Chilean court has upheld a law decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape, fatal fetal impairment, and when a woman's life is in danger.  A group of conservative senators representing more than a quarter of the members of Senate challenged the law's constitutionality.

The decision is grounded in international human rights treaties.  With these rights in mind, and in view of the effect of pregnancy on women, the court concluded that the criminal law should be used only as a last resort.

Regarding the "threat to the woman's life" criterion, the Court has decided that only assessment of the physician attending the woman is necessary in order not to delay the provision of care.

The opinions of two physicians are required in an assessment of whether a case is one of "fatal fetal impairment."  The Court warned against "decisional paralysis" in such cases, since delay can pose a danger to the patient.

Finally, in cases of rape, a child under the age of 14 must have an abortion before 14 weeks of gestation, while an older patient has under 12 weeks of gestation.

Even though it remains under in the Inter-American human rights systems whether artificial legal persons have the right to conscientious objection, the Court, intending to promote freedom of conscience and religion, ruled that hospitals and clinics may lodge institutional conscientious objections to abortion.

September 21, 2017 in Abortion Bans, In the Courts, International | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Body, My Choice, Why the Principle of Bodily Autonomy Can Unite the Left

The Nation (September 13, 2017): My Body, My Choice, Why the Principle of Bodily Autonomy Can Unite the Left, by David M. Perry:

An advocate for disability argues that the right to bodily autonomy can unite groups on the "left." In particular, he suggests that the struggle to defend body autonomy can bring reproductive rights and disability rights activists together.

Reproductive rights and disability rights are often seen as being in tension, but they don’t have to be. As recently argued by attorney and autistic activist Shain Neumeier, history shows us that allowing the government to exercise control over reproduction always goes badly for disabled people. This is most famous visible in the history of eugenic sterilization of disabled men and women in the United States, but continues in more subtle battles about whether disabled people should be allowed to have sex at all. Disability rights and reproductive rights find common ground over resisting governmental intrusion into individual reproductive decisions. The abstract principle of bodily autonomy unites rather than fragments.

Perry argues that body autonomy is a principle that resonates with other seemingly disparate movements as well and creates a place to "unite our struggles without erasing our differences."


September 14, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Study Calculates Driving Times to Abortion Clinics from Urban Areas in the US

The Pudding (September 2017): How far is too far? An analysis of driving times to abortion clinics in the US, by Russell Goldenberg, Amber Thomas and Caitlyn Ralph

As states continue to impose restrictions on abortion clinics that force facilities to close or stop providing services for women later in pregnancy, it is becoming increasingly difficult for women to access abortion care.  A new analysis published in The Pudding quantifies how clinic closures actually impact the distance women have to travel to abortion clinics.  The study looks at driving distances from cities with populations over 500,000.  Currently there are 151 urban areas that do not have an  abortion clinic within an hour roundtrip drive.  Women living in urban areas in Texas and in South Dakota have no clinics within an 8 hour roundtrip drive.

The article provides an interactive tool that allows readers to see how long a round trip to an abortion clinic would be from different urban areas.  Because many clinics do not provide services later in pregnancy, the tool also allows readers to see the distance women must travel to obtain abortions at 8, 12, 16 and 20 weeks.  The article also looks at changes in accessibility in states that are currently considering legislation that could could force further clinic closures.  For instance, if the sole abortion clinic in North Dakota is forced to close, the length of time women would have to drive to access abortion services from Fargo, ND would increase from under an hour to 6 hours and from 5 hours to 11 hours for women living in Bismarck, ND.

September 13, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Abortion via telemedicine as safe as seeing doctor in person

Reuters (September 7, 2017): Abortion via telemedicine as safe as seeing doctor in person, by Ronnie Cohen:

A new study has found that the safety of medication abortion is the same when doctors provide information about how to use abortion inducing drugs through video conferencing as when doctors meet with a woman in person.

“We can really say definitively now that there is no increased risk of complications among women who obtain medication abortion by telemedicine as opposed to women who have an in-person visit with a physician,” said lead author Dr. Daniel Grossman, an obstetrician-gynecologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

The study also found that adverse events in both situations were extremely rare.

The study's findings are significant because providing the option of telemedince can remove barriers to abortion for women who have difficulty traveling to an in person doctor appointment. A  2008 study showed that women's ability to obtain a first trimester abortion, rather than a second trimester abortion increased by 50% when women could obtain medication abortion by telemedicine.

Currently 18 states have laws that require that doctors meet with women in person when providing medication abortion.  The study could support a constitutional challenge to these laws since the Supreme Court has held in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt that medical regulations that restrict access to abortion in the guise of protecting women's health must actually provide some health benefit.


September 8, 2017 | Permalink | Comments (0)