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Ireland’s imminent abortion services will be completely free to ensure they can be fully accessed by anyone who needs them, end the need to travel abroad for care and to prevent an influx of private abortion clinics into this country.

Health Minister Simon Harris confirmed the new services will not cost anything just 24 hours after President Michael D Higgins signed the referendum result into law, thereby formally removing the eighth amendment from the constitution.

Speaking to reporters at the opening of the new primary care centre in Grangegorman, Dublin, Mr Harris said that even though abortion services are set to be provided in the near future it is essential “cost is not a barrier” to accessing the medical help.

Asked specifically if he will introduce any charge to receive abortions in legislation due to be passed by cabinet next week and put to the Dáil in the first week of October, Mr Harris confirmed no fees will be involved.

The Health Minister said the move is needed, saying that if a price tag was linked to accessing abortion services it would encourage private abortion clinics into Ireland and lead to women continuing to travel abroad for the care they need.

“Yes, it is my intention that the services will be free,” Mr Harris confirmed.

“I’ve said from the start that I don’t want cost to be a barrier, because if cost is a barrier you get into a situation where one of two things happen, you get abortion clinics to develop or you can see people having to continue to travel.

“I want this [abortion services] to be provided as part of our healthcare system, our public healthcare system and part of our primary healthcare system.

I think it’s important to say that Tuesday was an extraordinarily historic day. The President of Ireland signed the bill that has removed the eighth amendment from the constitution, and today is the first day that the eighth amendment is actually gone from Bunreacht na hEireann.

“That now allows us as legislatures to do our job,” he said.

Mr Harris also confirmed that, now that President Higgins has signed the order paper to remove the eighth amendment from the constitution, he will bring planned law changes to allow abortion services to cabinet next week.

The Health Minister said he expects cabinet to pass these new rules immediately in order to allow him to bring them to the Dáil in the first week of October and fully introducing them by the end of this year.

“Next week I will return to cabinet for final approval of the bill that will legislate for termination of pregnancy in certain circumstances.

“I intend to introduce that in the Oireachtas in the first week of October, I hope we can pass it through the Oireachtas in the month of October and November,” he said.

Asked about ongoing concerns pro-life groups may target the three day ‘cooling off’ period for women seeking to access abortion services which is included in the planned new laws, Mr Harris said he was aware of the issue.

However, in a clear message to groups wishing to continue the abortion debate, he said:

“I do note the comments of some groups about the three days. But I would say to anybody regardless of whether you voted yes or no, we made a conscious decision to have a very detailed general scheme available before the referendum, that three day period was part of the discussion and was debated fully during the referendum, which was passed.”

The Pro Life Campaign said that today’s proceedings at the Oireachtas Committee were “a rude awakening” for anyone who thought the new abortion law would be restrictive.

Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said: “Today’s committee hearings brought into sharp focus the extreme nature of the abortion law about to be introduced. It’s a definite rude awakening for anyone who thought the law would be somewhat restrictive.”

“It is clear Health Minister Simon Harris and others in government have no interest in hearing perspectives other than ones that zealously back abortion. It is going to take time but the public will realise the full extent of the charade that is going on when the reality of what the abortion law permits starts to sink in,” she said.

Source: https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/abortion-services-will-be-free-harris-confirms-870089.html

Last year’s pro-choice bill, signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), enjoyed widespread support among Illinois voters.

HB40 takes out so-called personhood language from the Illinois Abortion Act and permits coverage of abortion care in state health plans and Medicaid.   Tim Boyle/Getty Images

HB40 takes out so-called personhood language from the Illinois Abortion Act and permits coverage of abortion care in state health plans and Medicaid. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

UPDATE, September 19, 2:27 p.m.: The Thomas More Society in a statement to Rewire.Newssaid they plan to challenge HB40 before the state supreme court. The deadline to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court is October 22.

A state appeals court in Illinois has upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that tried to overturn a 2017 law expanding state funding of abortion services.

The three-judge appellate court ruled unanimously that a county judge correctly dismissed the lawsuit filed by the conservative law firm Thomas More Society and anti-choice groups last November in an effort to block legislation expanding state-funded coverage of abortions for Medicaid recipients and state workers.

Signed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner last fall, HB 40 strikes down provisions of an Illinois “trigger law,” which would outlaw abortion care if Roe v. Wade is overturned. It takes out so-called personhood language from the Illinois Abortion Act that said an “unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person,” and permits coverage of abortion in state health plans and Medicaid. State law had prohibited public insurance coverage of abortion care, induced miscarriage, or “induced premature birth” except in limited circumstances, as reported by Rewire.News.

Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen, a state representative, was a lead attorney representing the anti-choice petitioners. The lawsuit claimed lawmakers passed the measure too late in 2017 for it to take effect January 1, that they didn’t appropriate the funding required, and that the law promoted taxpayer-funded abortion services.

“Taxpayer-funded abortion” is a myth pedaled by abortion-rights foes that feeds on public ignorance about abortion funding. Two-thirds of the public is unaware the federal Hyde Amendment prohibits paying for abortions with federal Medicaid dollars, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

The Thomas More Society and Breen did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Sam McCann (R), a gubernatorial Conservative Party candidate, has filed a bill to repeal the pro-choice law that he called “immoral” and “abominable,” the State Journal-Registerreported. Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker, who has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood in Illinois, supports the new law.

Rauner called the insurance provision “very controversial,” in apparent reversal of his support for abortion access as a gubernatorial candidate. He later said he would “support a legislative effort to reverse that law.”

An April 2017 poll showed widespread support among Illinois voters for Rauner to “act to protect the reproductive health care of all women in Illinois.”

“I personally am pro-choice, I always have been,” Rauner said last year. “I personally believe a woman should have, must have, the right to decide what goes on in her own body. I also believe that no woman should be forced to make a different decision than another woman could make purely based on her income.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois supported the law as “a critical victory for women’s health and equality,” and said in a statement the bill “is not about politics; it is about advancing health, economic security, and dignity.”

“We applaud the court’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit. We don’t think there is a basis to this lawsuit and we look forward to continuing to see House Bill 40 be implemented in Illinois for the benefit of the people of our state,” said Lorie Chaiten, director of the Illinois ACLU’s Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/09/18/anti-choice-groups-rebuked-again-in-legal-challenge-to-landmark-illinois-abortion-law/

There are a whole slew of reasons why you might not want Judge Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. For example, the fact that he holds the view that presidents can’t be indicted and yet was hand-selected by a president who is under special counsel investigation-a position Kavanaugh seemed to purposefully avoid answering for during this week’s hearings. Or perhaps it’s his extreme unpopularity, with some polls (like this ABC News/Washington Post one) finding more people opposed to his confirmation than for it. CNN notes that no nominee for the Supreme Court with this low an approval rating has ever been confirmed in the modern era.

Or perhaps it’s because you don’t want a 53-year-old, conservative white male to potentially cast the deciding vote on whether or not you get to make decisions about your own body. And now we can add another reason to think he’s a bad choice for the Supreme Court: In answer to a question posed by Senator Ted Cruz, Kavanaugh referred to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs.” See the exchange here:

The question is in reference to a case called Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in which Kavanaugh wrote a dissent in favor of employers who wanted to deny their employees’ access to birth control without a co-pay. It’s kind of nitty-gritty, but here’s the line where Kavanaugh shows his real opinion on the issue of women’s reproductive health: “Filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they were, as a religious matter, objected to.”

First of all, birth control is not an abortion-inducing drug, and it’s worrisome that the guy who may end up deciding the future of Roe v. Wade might not understand that. Second, for all the claims from the right that fears of Kavanaugh overturning Roe are just histrionics, this is a very telling slip.

The difference between birth control and abortion was actually laid out in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in 2013, explaining that “a contraceptive method by definition, prevents pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization, or implantation. Abortion ends an established pregnancy, after implantation.” This scientific definition of pregnancy is also the legal definition, and has long been accepted by federal agencies, according to The Guttmacher Institute. Kavanaugh’s failure to understand this means he not only has a poor grasp of reproductive health terminology, but a poor grasp of the law that guides it.

Photo credit: Mark Wilson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mark Wilson – Getty Images

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said as much:

“It’s no wonder Kavanaugh’s nomination has been met with unprecedented protests. Kavanaugh referred to birth control-something more than 95 percent of women use in their lifetime-as an ‘abortion-inducing drug,’ which is not just flat-out wrong, but is anti-woman, anti-science propaganda. Women have every reason to believe their health and their lives are at stake. Kavanaugh has made clear over and over again that he would not uphold women’s ability to access reproductive health care as a constitutional right. Let me break it down for you, Brett: birth control is basic health care. Birth control allows women to plan their futures, participate in the economy, and-for some women with health issues like endometriosis-allows them to get through the day. It is clear from Kavanaugh’s record and answers that his nomination puts access to affordable birth control at risk.”

If Roe v. Wade is important to you, there’s still time to stop the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Most immediately, you should contact your Senator and tell them you want them to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. You can head over to Whip the Vote, which will not only put you in touch with your representative, but also sends you to Indivisible, which has provided handy scripts for you to read from based on whether you’re represented by DemocratsRepublicans, or pro-choice Republicans, as is the case for those in Alaska who are represented by Senator Lisa Murkowski, or in Maine who are represented by Senator Susan Collins.

You could also show up to a protest and make your voice heard. If you’re near the Capitol, there’s an entire SCOTUS Week of Action that you can RSVP to here.

Source:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/brett-kavanaugh-just-called-birth-204000370.html

When I found out I was pregnant at age 24, there was no decision to make. But even if it felt inconsequential at the time, I don’t take for granted that I had a choice.

CreditCreditPhoto illustration by Emily Keegin; ScienceGenetics (sperm and egg), Wellcome Images (sculpture)

I didn’t notice my skipped period. I had switched birth control pills, and my menstrual cycle had always been a little irregular. It wasn’t like a movie, either. When I started vomiting, it didn’t even dawn on me that I was pregnant. I thought it was some symptom of cancer.

Nor can I remember where or how I ended up getting a pregnancy test. I just know that at some point I figured I couldn’t take a home test for anything else, so I might as well rule this possibility out.

But I had a sex life with my live-in boyfriend and a flighty relationship to Loestrin, I hadn’t had a period in over a month, and I was constantly nauseated. Of course the stick’s indicator turned into a tiny pink plus sign.

There was no decision to make. Or rather, there was only one decision. I would get an abortion. I told my boyfriend in one breath that I was pregnant and would call Planned Parenthood the next morning and make an appointment. His reaction made so little difference to me that I’m not sure what it was — he probably nodded and hugged me.

I was 24 and unsure I ever wanted children, let alone at a time when I spent a great deal of my life journaling about what to do with my life.

I rarely talk about my abortion. My silence is not out of shame, but a lack of it. A friend I’m not all that close to told me about her abortion recently and asked if I had ever had one.

“I have,” I said. “It was a long time ago.” I trailed off, shoving some carrot sticks into my mouth and trying to evade the ritual of swapping stories. I didn’t want to sound too businesslike or as if I didn’t care enough.

But here’s the truth: It was not a tortured decision. I guess that makes me sound glib, or worse, as if I’m some kind of unfeeling monster. But that’s what getting pregnant was to me: something that needed to be fixed, and that I wanted to be done with as soon as possible.

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I know in theory there are other women who feel that way, but I had never really heard their stories. When you read abortion stories there’s often a tinge of regret or a hint of weightiness. What if I was being a woman the wrong way and everyone would be able to tell?

At the time, I ended up telling just one or two friends about my decision (and not my family, though my mother would have certainly been supportive; she had worked at Planned Parenthood when I was very young).

The hardest part was waiting two weeks between finding out I was pregnant and going in for an appointment. I threw up so often in the bathroom of the tiny office of the feminist magazine where I worked that I was convinced everyone thought I had bulimia.

I’d spend oddly wholesome nights in with my boyfriend playing gin rummy in a blue terry cloth bathrobe. I remember taking a bath and thinking, I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant, I’m pregnant, and it would feel like repeating my name over and over until it didn’t register as mine anymore.

When I finally had my appointment, I learned I was eight weeks pregnant — too late to take an abortion pill, so I had to come back in a few days for an in-clinic procedure. This was urban California, so there were no protesters to cross. I had told my boyfriend to pick me up when it was over but not to stay in the waiting room.

A nurse asked me how I planned to prevent pregnancy in the future, and I resented that I had to reassure her I would set a timer to take the pill every day. When it was my turn for the vacuum aspiration, another nurse asked me if I wanted to hold her hand.

“No thanks,” I said, but really meant I didn’t want a big show of her support or anyone else’s. In the recovery room, I drank apple juice and ate graham crackers — the very same snack we had during preschool.

I went home with a giant menstrual pad in my underwear and went to bed flooded with immediate relief. I took a two-hour nap. When I woke up, my friend Rebekah, one of the few I had told, had brought me homemade banana bread and minestrone soup. She knew exactly what kind of care I wanted, something that wasn’t maudlin or expensive. Something that involved carbohydrates.

When I washed the bowl she brought the soup in, I noticed it was from Pottery Barn, which seemed so impressively adult. I still don’t have a matching set of dishes, but I do still use her white bowl all the time. I never did give it back. It has become my favorite bowl.

Having an abortion didn’t end up being the thing I remember most about that year (that goes to spraining both of my middle fingers in a rope swing accident over the summer). In fact, I almost always forget to include it when some medical form asks me the number of pregnancies I’ve had.

It has been 16 years since the abortion, and, at 41, I’m close to the end of my window of fertility. At least I imagine I am; I have never done anything but try to prevent another pregnancy. It turns out I never wavered in not wanting children of my own.

And now I’m ready to stop wondering if my story was typical. I am a woman and something less than ideal happened, and I moved ahead in the only way I knew how. In that sense, it was a reluctant initiation into a sisterhood, that quarter of American women who will have abortions by the age of 45.

Every once in a while — like during the recent confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh — I’ll remember that abortion was a hard-won right that too often is treated like a luxury that could be taken away at any time. Having an abortion didn’t define my life. Or maybe it did, by preventing my nascent adulthood from veering off into a direction I’m not even willing to imagine.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/13/style/abortion-story.html

It’s not just a party shift Gov. Jim Justice (R) is attempting to make in the courts by replacing impeached justices with Republicans—it’s an ideological one.

The possibility of a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals full of people like Tim Armstead and Evan Jenkins rather than Margaret Workman will hurt abortion access in the state, one of seven states, as of January 2017, with just one abortion provider.
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals garnered national attention in August when the state’s House of Delegates voted to impeach the entire bench. This unusual move by the Republican-led state House Judiciary Committee throws not only the fate of the justices into question, but could mean critical changes to reproductive rights in the state.

The Committee adopted articles of impeachment against each of the court’s remaining sitting justices: Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Justice Robin Davis, Justice Beth Walker, and Justice Allen Loughry. The articles accuse the four justices of a variety of different charges, including: “maladministration, corruption, incompetency, neglect of duty, and certain high crimes,” according to USA TodayPrior to the proceedings, the fifth justice of the court, Justice Menis Ketchum, resigned after being charged with wire fraud—a federal charge which he later pleaded guilty to—and personal use of a state vehicle.

The composition of the court hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, the West Virginia Senate rejected a motion to exclude Davis from trial, even though she had announced her retirement soon after the impeachment decision. Significantly for the future of the bench, just two weeks after the announcement of impeachment, Gov. Jim Justice (R) named Republicans Tim Armstead and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins as replacements for Davis and Ketchum. Whether the charged justices are convicted or not, both Justice-made replacements will serve until the November special elections. If the remaining three justices are convicted, Gov. Justice—the former Democrat, now Republican—will appoint additional replacements to serve until 2020.

These new appointments could mean crucial changes, including threats to abortion in the state.

Such shifts are possible, according to Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs and professor at Franklin and Marshall College, because a state’s supreme court decides the constitutionality of its laws.

“There’s always a possibility when you have major changes on the court that you could have major changes in philosophy,” Madonna said in an interview with Rewire.News.

West Virginian Margaret Chapman Pomponio seconded this belief, describing the newest composition of the court as “unfriendly towards reproductive health.” She believes that with Gov. Justice’s appointments in power, attacks to abortion access are likely.

“Tim Armstead is one of the most conservative and fundamentalist politicians that the state has ever seen,” Pomponio said in an interview with Rewire.News.

Pomponio is the executive director of WV Free Action Fund, a nonprofit that seeks to “ensure the reproductive health of women and people who can get pregnant at the state and national level and to broaden the base of active and vocal support for reproductive justice in West Virginia,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

“With this takeover, it’s possible that we would see a shift in the balance of ideology … [which] would be very dangerous,” Pomponio said.

Armstead represents the kind of conservative and anti-choice ideology that has the potential to drastically shift West Virginia’s political landscape. His voting record has consistently indicated that he does not support the right to an abortion. The former West Virginia house speaker voted in 2015 to uphold the state’s 20-week abortion ban, though the right to an abortion is a constitutional right guaranteed by Roe v. Wade.

Jenkins’ place on the Supreme Court also spells out danger for reproductive rights and many other progressive issues in West Virginia. Jenkins has voted numerous times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and has expressed support for President Trump’s heavily-criticized anti-Islamic Muslim ban.

Jenkins is also a supporter of the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and the Conscience Protection Act, which would allow employers to deny health care coverage to those seeking abortions, without federal consequences.

Both Republican appointees replace Democrats. But it’s not just a party shift Gov. Justice is attempting to make in the courts—it’s an ideological one.

Former Chief Justice Margaret Workman has a long history of support for progressive issues, which makes the appointment of Armstead and Jenkins an even bigger blow to reproductive justice. Workman worked to level the playing field in West Virginia, giving time and energy to legislation meant to aid those in need in a state where almost 18 percent of the population lives in poverty.

“[Workman has] been a champion not just for reproductive health but for children, families, and workers,” Pomponio said. “She has been an advocate for the most disadvantaged West Virginians.”

The possibility of a Supreme Court packed with people like Armstead and Jenkins rather than Workman will hurt abortion access in the state, one of seven states, as of January 2017, with just one abortion provider—Women’s Health Center of West Virginia. Additionally, the state maintains laws that operate to discourage people from abortion, including the requirement for anyone seeking an abortion to receive state-directed counseling, the enforcement of a 24-hour waiting period, and the requirement of parental consent for all minors seeking an abortion.

“The whole point is to dissuade folks,” Madonna said.

With anti-choice politicians in the state supreme court, Roe v. Wade could be threatened on a statewide level beyond these restrictions. Already, abortion is under attack in the state—again: as residents will have the opportunity, on November 6, to vote on Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that would declare that abortion is not a constitutional right for West Virginians.

The law simply states, “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”

That amendment, just 17 words, would overturn the 1993 case Women’s Health Center of WV, et al. v. Panepinto, et al. In that case, the court ruled that Medicaid could be used to fund abortions. The landmark decision—which Workman helped author—exemplifies reproductive justice that centers those in poverty.

West Virginians are not giving up. Since the introduction of Amendment 1, amid the Supreme Court fiasco, grassroots organizers have been mobilized, according to Pomponio. Along with WV Free Action Fund, Pomponio is part of a coalition dedicated to fighting the amendment and showing politicians that West Virginians support choice.

With so many changes up in the air—impeachment, potential new justices, and anti-abortion Amendment 1—there is no predicting the fate of abortion in West Virginia. “If the legislature were to pass restrictions on abortion, would [the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals] support it? I don’t know,” Madonna said. For now, residents must wait and see what happens during the coming impeachment trials. Walker’s trial is set for October 1, Workman’s October 15, Davis’ October 29, and suspended Justice Loughry’s on November 12.

According to Pomponio, if Amendment 1 were to pass, it would be the first time in over 100 years that the state has passed an amendment to the constitution to take away a right, something she believes is a backward step for West Virginia.

“We need more rights—not less,” Pomponio said.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/09/14/what-impeachment-of-the-west-virginia-supreme-court-could-mean-for-abortion/

With Kavanaugh’s confirmation imminent, anti-abortion judges are declaring war on the right to choose.

Pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate
in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9 in Washington.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Brett Kavanaugh hasn’t even been confirmed to the Supreme Court, and lower-court judges have already declared war on Roe v. Wade.

On Monday morning, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an astonishing decisionupholding a law that’s virtually identical to an anti-abortion measure the Supreme Court struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. HellerstedtThe three-judge panel, composed entirely of Republican appointees (including a Trump judge), essentially defied the Supreme Court in allowing Missouri to saddle abortion clinics with pointless regulations designed to guarantee their closure. It’s a preview of how the courts will overturn Roe—swiftly, ruthlessly, and dishonestly—once Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Monday’s ruling in Comprehensive Health v. Hawley was authored by Judge Bobby Shepherd, a George W. Bush appointee who has expressed hostility toward Roe before. In a 2015 ruling, Shepherd begrudgingly struck down North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” bill, which would’ve banned abortions after six weeks. In making that decision, though, he attacked the Supreme Court precedents he was forced to follow, urging SCOTUS to “reevaluate its jurisprudence” and overturn Roe. Shepherd’s bizarre opinion went on to cite pseudoscience about “the regrets of the women who abort” and the (nonexistent) “connection between abortion and breast cancer” while condemning nefarious abortion “mills.”

The Missouri measure in question is nearly indistinguishable from the Texas law that SCOTUS invalidated in Whole Woman’s Health. It imposes two requirements on abortion clinics: They must meet complex, pricey, and medically unnecessary architectural standards; and their doctors must be “privileged to perform surgical procedures” at a hospital that’s no more than 15 minutes away than the clinic in question.

This first regulation differs slightly from the Texas law in Whole Woman’s Health, because clinics can, in theory, obtain a waiver from individual “physical plant regulations.” The second regulation, however, is actually more severe than its Texas counterpart. That law forced abortion providers to have “admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. The Missouri law, by contrast, forces providers to be allowed to perform surgery—a significantly more stringent standard—at a hospital much closer by.

Recognizing these similarities, U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs blocked the Missouri law in 2017. Sachs said the state’s efforts to work around Whole Woman’s Health is akin to an attempt “to undermine Brown v. Board of Education” by insisting that “racial segregation in Missouri is more benign than elsewhere.” The Supreme Court, after all, found that Texas’ targeted restrictions were “useless, from a health standpoint” and addressed “no significant health-related problem,” while placing a “substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice.” Missouri had merely cribbed its laws from the Texas playbook, and so they must also be unconstitutional. The case, Sachs held, was “not a close one” in light of “the lesson” of Whole Woman’s Health.

Shepherd saw things differently. He reversed Sachs’ preliminary injunction, suggesting that the district court judge relied upon “slight implication and vague conjecture” to justify freezing Missouri’s laws. Shepherd distinguished Missouri’s “physical plant regulations” from Texas’ by noting that Missouri clinics can hypothetically obtain waivers from specific design elements. The court, he wrote, could not strike down the law until it had more evidence of how generously the state grants these waivers. It is difficult to square this holding with the Supreme Court’s finding in Whole Woman’s Health that elaborate architectural requirements do not further women’s health.

But Shepherd’s next conclusion was even more egregious. It would be impossible to uphold Missouri’s surgical privileges mandate under a fair reading of Whole Woman’s Health, which emphatically rejected the notion that such rules benefit women. So Shepherd willfully misread the ruling. The Supreme Court, he wrote, “did not find, as a matter of law, that abortion was inherently safe or that provisions similar to the laws it considered would never be constitutional.” Yes, the court found that abortion was extremely safe in Texas—but “no such determination about abortion in Missouri was made here.”

This passage constitutes open defiance of the Supreme Court dressed up in the thin pretext of legalese. No one seriously asserts that abortion is currently more dangerous in Missouri than it is in Texas. And the Supreme Court did not purport to limit its analysis to Texas in Whole Woman’s Health; to the contrary, it noted that similar admitting privileges laws in Wisconsin and Alabama had been struck down as unnecessary for women’s health. That analysis plainly compels the invalidation of Missouri’s surgical privileges law—which, again, is even more draconian than Texas’ analogue. Yet Shepherd refused to block it, dishonestly speculating that Missouri could be “responding to … a unique problem” with abortion in the state. No such problem exists. This claim is mere pretext to ignore Whole Woman’s Health.

That’s why judges like Shepherd have been emboldened this summer. He isn’t the first to cheer on Roe’s downfall. In July, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Ho, a Trump appointee, bemoaned the “moral tragedy of abortion” and implied that Roe is illegitimate. In August, 11thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Joel Fredrick Dubina, a George H.W. Bush appointee, declared that the right to abortion “has no basis in the Constitution.”

These judges see what’s on the horizon. They have been waiting for this moment for their entire careers, and they will do everything they can to hasten its arrival. It is quite obvious to everyone not named Susan Collins that Kavanaugh’s confirmation will spell the end of Roe. Anyone who doubts that fact should look to the lower courts, where abortion foes are eagerly laying the groundwork for our imminent post-Roe reality.

Source: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/09/comprehensive-health-hawley-roe-wade-kavanaugh.html?utm_source=slate&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=actionfb&utm_content=scotus0911

If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, women across the country could be stripped of their ability to make fundamental decisions about their bodies and their lives.

magine a woman who’s just found out she’s pregnant. She wants to not be pregnant, but no one answers the phone at her state’s only abortion clinic. It rings and rings and rings. She discovers the clinic’s closed. As she tries to figure out what to do, she grows desperate. She just wants to know her options.

If she’s pregnant, she’s pregnant. That is the option. Or at least the only legal one.

Even if her health is in serious jeopardy or she’s at risk of death. Even if her fetus isn’t viable. Even if she can’t afford a child, she’s a victim of domestic violence, or she just doesn’t want to be pregnant, she’s doing this. She will be pushed into giving birth because that’s the law.

This could be the world with Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

In September 2016, Donald Trump released a letter addressed to pro-life leaders, in which he made clear his positions for reproductive rights. If he were to become president, he promised, he would nominate pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, end “late-term abortions,” defund Planned Parenthood, and make permanent the Hyde Amendment, a federal provision that creates a barrier for lower-income women seeking an abortion.

It read like a piece of anti-abortion fan fiction. But now it may come true.

Two months ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court after 30 years, and Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his replacement. Kavanaugh, plucked from a list of judges shaped by conservative groups, is the D.C. Circuit Court judge who just last year wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that an undocumented 17-year-old detained by ICE should be denied immediate access to an abortion. She was about 15 weeks pregnant at the time.

While Kavanaugh has said that Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court case that recognized a women’s right to an abortion—is “settled law,” critics say that’s meaningless rhetoric because settled law can be overturned. They point not only to his own judicial record, which seems to favor religious liberty over women’s individual rights, but also to Chief Justice John Roberts who said the same thing about Roe at his own confirmation hearing, yet has consistently voted against abortion rights ever since. They also note that Kavanaugh has called the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist his “first judicial hero” and praised Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe.

Women aren’t exactly living in an abortion-access utopia, but with Kavanaugh on the bench and a majority conservative Supreme Court, it’s not a stretch to imagine that things would go from not so great to grim. And Roe doesn’t even need to be overturned for that to happen.


Today, you can legally get an abortion in all 50 states. But if Kavanaugh votes to overturn Roe, women would lose their constitutional right to one and it would be left to each state to decide on the legality of abortion within its borders.


The Center for Reproductive Rights identifies 22 states where the right to abortion is at high-risk should Roe go. Alabama and West Virginia are preparing anti-abortion ballot initiatives for this November, and in the case of four states that have what’s known as “trigger laws”—Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota—abortion would immediately be illegal. If you had an abortion scheduled for the next day, too bad. Canceled.

But states wouldn’t have to make abortion illegal to make it basically impossible for women to get one. Republican lawmakers at the state level have already proven surgical in their slicing of women’s reproductive rights, passing more than 400 restrictions on abortion since 2011, with 63 passed in 2017 alone.

Some of these restrictions are clear violations of Roe—for instance, state “heartbeat” bills, which ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, are pretty much guaranteed to be declared unconstitutional because, according to Roe, states can’t ban abortion before a fetus is able to live outside the womb. But that didn’t stop Iowa’s governor from signing one of these bills into law in May. It was put on hold until a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is resolved, but if Roewere overturned, its constitutionality would no longer be an issue. A state could implement a ban like this, one that would outlaw abortion before many women even know they are pregnant.


Abortion access is already largely dependent on where you liveSix states in the U.S. have just one abortion clinic, and a recent study by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) found that 27 cities currently qualify as “abortion deserts,” or places where pregnant women have to travel more than 100 miles one-way to reach an abortion facility. As of 2014, 90 percent of counties in America had no abortion clinic, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization dedicated to advancing reproductive health and rights.

It’s only going to get worse if, in the words of Vice President Mike Pence, Roe is “consigned to the ash heap of history.” If you live in a state that protects your right to make decisions about your body, you will likely be able to terminate a pregnancy. If not, you will be able to have an abortion only if you take time off work, travel hundreds of miles across state lines, pay for transportation, lodging, and possibly childcare (most women who have abortions are already mothers), on top of the price of the procedure. Not really an option for a lot of women.


Given the state-level attacks on reproductive rights in recent years, this is already a barrier many women face. With states banning abortion after a certain point in the pregnancy, for instance, women who find out about their pregnancy too late to terminate in their state, or take too long to gather the funds needed for the procedure, or want the pregnancy but are told too far along in the pregnancy that the fetus isn’t viable must go elsewhere if they’re still seeking an abortion.

Even some progressive states currently have gestational age limitations in place, but there have been calls to change them in anticipation of a Kavanaugh confirmation. And while blue states may work to expand abortion rights and repeal antiquated laws, red ones are likely to go in the opposite direction.

Imagine how much harder it will be to make this journey if you live in a region that’s hostile to abortion rights and all the states around you take the end of Roe as an opportunity to restrict abortion further—to eliminate it entirely or make it far less accessible. Imagine how much farther you’ll have to travel. Imagine how overcrowded the clinics in more progressive states will be. Imagine the wait lists.

Abortion only gets more expensive—and more risky—as you get later in the pregnancy.


When the possibility of Roe being overturned is discussed and you hear about the legality of abortion “going back to the states,” it might sound like all decisions will be made at the state level. But that’s not how it works. Congress still has the authority to pass legislation that would affect women in every state in the country.

Earlier this year, the Senate attempted to pass legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, despite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) releasing an official statement opposing it. Given that many fetal tests are conducted around 20 weeks, a law like that would mean the moment you find out your fetus isn’t viable could be the same moment you aren’t allowed to do anything about it.

The measure failed, with Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voting against it. And if the Democrats take the House in 2018, you’re not going to see a bill like this in the next two years, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone for good.

“It is probably going to be short of 60 [votes],” Senator Lindsay Graham, who sponsored the legislation, said before the last vote, “but to those who believe in this issue, we will be back for another day.” A restriction like this would certainly be challenged, but it would be far less likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court with a conservative majority that includes Kavanaugh.

And it could get even more extreme. Remember those six-week bans that states have tried to pass? Less than a year ago, the House held a hearing on a federalsix-week ban. Everyone knew it would never become law—it was reportedly floated to make a 20-week ban seem more moderate—but it’s just one of the restrictions that could be proposed and deemed acceptable in a post-Roe era. And it would apply to every woman in the country, no matter where she lived.

For a woman who doesn’t get her period regularly and doesn’t realize until week seven that she’s pregnant, tough luck. Not only that—the bill, as written, didn’t include an exception for rape or incest, so a woman who was sexually assaulted and dealing with the trauma in the aftermath of the attack would have to make a decision immediately, if she even knew she was pregnant, or it would also be too late.

Would the government really do that? Would the Court really uphold it? After more than 40 years since Roe, it’s hard to imagine women having so little say over their bodies. But in the case last year involving the undocumented minor, Kavanaugh wrote that “Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.”

How far he would go to protect “fetal life” is an open question.


While woman might lose legal ground to make decisions about their bodies, it’s unlikely they’ll cede control. “Historically, what we know is that women take matters into their own hands,” says Carole Joffe, Ph.D., a member of the ANSIRH research team and an expert on women’s lives before and after Roe.

If Roe is overturned, Joffe anticipates that there will be an explosion of “self-managed” or “self-induced” abortions. The most recognizable symbol for the pre-Roe abortion is the coat hanger, but these days it’s more likely that a woman would turn to pills (often misoprostol), ordered on the internet, to terminate her pregnancy at home.

While research has proven that it’s a safe method in the first trimester, it’s not legal outside the medical establishment. So while there may be fewer deaths than pre-Roe, there may be more prosecution of women, Joffe says. Women could become criminals for making medical decisions about their bodies.


“In the pre-Roe era, there was relatively little prosecution,” she says. “Some women were called to testify against doctors, but they themselves weren’t jailed. There wasn’t an anti-abortion movement then in the same degree as it exists today. Today, we have Jeff Sessions as attorney general and a well-organized anti-abortion movement that exists in every state and we can be sure that in the future there will be prosecution.”

Trump himself said during the campaign that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who terminate pregnancies if abortion is illegal. (He walked back his remarks after backlash and said only doctors should be face legal repercussions.)

Of course not every woman will have the resources to access a medication abortion or will be early enough in her pregnancy for it to be an effective method. A woman who desperately does not want to be pregnant will likely turn to more dangerous black-market methods or Internet-spun remedies.

“We have so many dire statistics about what’s happening to women in this country, including the fact that they’re dying, but the people making the rules that put women in these situations don’t seem to care about that,” says Andrea Flynn, a researcher who studies reproductive health at the Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank.


Even though two-thirds of Americans don’t believe Roe should be overturned, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, it doesn’t need to be for things to get darkly dystopian.

Many of the restrictions on reproductive health care passed by GOP-controlled legislatures in recent years have made abortion technically legal but practically inaccessible. Such regulations have often been challenged in district, then circuit courts, meaning their fate—and those of the women they affect—rests in the hands of the judges who hear them. Trump has already successfully packed these courts with conservative judges who may be more inclined to uphold regulations even with Roe in place. But for the cases that are appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, who’s on the bench matters.

Take, for instance, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which the Supreme Court took up during its 2015-2016 session. In that case, Texas, a state with more than 5 million women of reproductive age, had imposed such strict regulations that more than 20 clinics had closed in just a few years and the number was likely to drop to around 10. An appeals court upheld the restrictions, but the Supreme Court reversed that decision in a 5-3 ruling, with Justice Kennedy taking the side of the clinics. (Justice Scalia had died earlier that year so only eight justices participated in this decision.)

Now imagine how that case might have gone with a conservative justice like Kavanaugh on the bench, in addition to conservative Neil Gorsuch, who was also nominated by Trump and confirmed last year. Imagine how they might rule on future laws that seek to restrict at a woman’s right to choose so severely that it’s functionally nonexistent.


For those women who continue their pregnancies against their will, the repercussions are many—and awful.

Women who are unable to obtain an abortion, or denied one due to their state’s legal requirements, are likely to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, according to Antonia Biggs, Ph.D., a social psychologist with ANSIRH who has researched the mental health impact of being forced into pregnancy. And the stress is often compounded, as many of these women walk away from the clinic—still pregnant—and back to a dangerous situation. In her research, Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D., the director of research for ANSIRH, found that up to 22 percent of women seeking an abortion self-report having recently experienced violence at the hands of a partner. An inability to terminate an unwanted pregnancy may even result in more women suffering from domestic violence.

Having an abortion is actually associated with a reduction over time in physical violence experienced by a woman from the man involved in her pregnancy—carrying the pregnancy to term is not. “Pregnancy is an incredibly scary thing—especially if you cannot trust the person you’re with,” Foster says.


There are financial costs, too. “Not having enough money to care for a child or another child is the most common reason for seeking an abortion,” Foster says. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a middle-income family to raise a child. And yet what if the government puts up so many barriers to obtaining an abortion that it becomes prohibitively expensive? In other words, what if you’re forced to have a child you can’t afford because you can’t afford not to have one?

Foster worked on the 2014 Turnaway Study, which looked at how being denied abortion care impacted women’s lives. It found that not being able to obtain a wanted abortion resulted in economic insecurity for women and their families and “lowered their aspirations for the future, like getting a better job or finishing school.”

Unsurprisingly, women of color will suffer the greatest consequences if abortion access is outlawed. Black women are already 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, even controlling for factors like education, income level, physical health, and access to prenatal care, and they are 35 percent more likely to experience intimate partner violence than white women. Take away their choice about whether to go through with a pregnancy and the outcome will inevitably be devastating. You will see more women of color dying—that’s the bottom line, says Monica Simpson, executive director of SisterSong, a reproductive justice coalition for women of color and other marginalized communities in the South.

This week, as Kavanaugh answers questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the nation will listen carefully trying to parse his views on reproductive rights and discern how he might rule if seated on the Court. But mostly likely, his words won’t actually tell us anything.

Look at his history though. Look at the people who want him on the bench. Look at the views they’ve expressed on abortion.

Imagine a country in which women are trapped, in which the government has more control over their bodies than they do. Imagine them being told that a right they’ve had for more than four decades should never have been given to them in the first place.

You might not have to imagine for long.

Source: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/politics/a22886019/brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court-roe-wade-abortion/