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Imagini pentru Florida legislature passes bill requiring parental consent for minors to have abortion

The Florida legislature passed a state bill requiring pregnant minors to get consent from a parent or legal guardian for an abortion, sending the bill to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 404, introduced by Republican senators, passed its final legislative hurdle Thursday when the Florida state House voted 75-43 to approve the bill.
The measure now heads to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has previously signaled his support for the bill.
The Florida bill comes as several other conservative-led states have sought to restrict access to abortion, with some bills passed in the hopes that it would be challenged before the US Supreme Court to eventually overturn Roe v. Wade.
The bill would require physicians to obtain written consent from a parent or legal guardian before performing or inducing the termination of a pregnancy of a minor. The consenting parent or legal guardian would have to give the physician a copy of a government-issued proof of identification, and the parent must certify in a notarized document that they consent to the termination of the pregnancy of the minor.
Under the bill, any doctor who performs an abortion on a minor without consent from a guardian could face up to five years in prison for a third degree felony.
Exceptions for consent includes in cases of medical emergency or if the minor petitions the circuit court where she resides for a judicial waiver.
Under current Florida law, a parent or legal guardian must be notified before a minor has an abortion.
DeSantis said in January at his State of the State address that he hoped the parental consent bill would make its way to his desk during the session. CNN has reached out to the governor’s office.
If DeSantis signs the bill, it will go into effect on July 1.
On Thursday, five state House Democrats voted with their Republican colleagues to pass the bill, while two Republican female lawmakers voted “no” on the bill with Democrats.
GOP state Rep. Erin Grall, one of the main sponsors for the House version of the bill, said in a statement that the bill will give a “child” the “support system she needs when she is in her most vulnerable state.”
“A child cannot simply tell their parents they are going on a field trip or even playing a school sport. So, why would we accept that a child can simply inform their parents they intend to have an abortion?” Grall said.
During the House floor debate before Thursday’s vote, Republican state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, who voted against the bill, said that she wants an end to abortion, but she argued, “Terminating a pregnancy is an incredibly difficult decision, a very personal one, and one that I believe should remain a private one without government involvement.”
An attorney, Fitzenhagen described how it could be nerve wracking and humiliating for a minor to seek a judicial waiver.
“Sadly, I foresee a scenario where teenagers are going to try to subvert this law. They may try to run away. They may resort to crude and dangerous termination methods, or even suicide,” she said.
Democratic state Rep. Kim Daniels, the other co-sponsor of the House companion bill and who voted in favor of SB 404, shared that she had an abortion when she was 15 without her mother’s consent.
“Everything in my culture, everything in my faith, and the majority of my constituency puts a mandate on me that I support this legislation,” Daniels said Thursday.
The bill was introduced in the Senate by GOP state Sen. Kelli Stargel in September and passed the chamber earlier this month by a 23-17 vote.
The Florida Supreme Court in 1989 struck down a similar parental consent law, ruling that the state’s constitutional right to privacy protects a woman’s choice to have an abortion and those protections extend to minors, according to The New York Times.
In a statement, Terrie Rizzo, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, accused DeSantis and Republicans of not caring that the bill violates the state constitution, “because they expect conservatives on Florida’s Supreme Court to overturn the court’s previous 1989 decision.”
Grall argued during Wednesday’s House debate that the bill does not infringe upon a minor’s right to privacy, pointing to the bill’s revised judicial waiver process.
Thirty-seven states currently require the involvement of a parent in a minor’s decision to have an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Florida would join five states — Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming — that currently require both parental notification and consent for a minor to have an abortion.
The US Supreme Court in its 1989 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth said parents of minor, unwed girls cannot be given an absolute veto over abortions.

When I provide patient-centered counseling to people seeking abortion care, I have to undo the damage from biased counseling mandated by the state.

Even though having an abortion is 14 times safer than giving birth, some abortion providers have to inform patients about risks of death, infertility, and even breast cancer—talking points deployed by the powerful anti-choice movement in Texas and nationwide.

I’m a counselor at an abortion clinic in Texas, where patients have to navigate roadblocks to care every day, including forced counseling against abortion.

Over the past year, I’ve counseled hundreds of people. Although I do provide some state-mandated counseling 24 hours before the procedure, most patients visit me separately on the day of their abortion. It isn’t unusual for people to enter my counseling room with their guard up, viewing it as yet another barrier imposed by the state before they can continue with their health-care decision. In reality, clinics that offer abortion counseling do so in order to provide patient-centered care that considers people’s unique experiences. But patients were confused so often that, eventually, I changed the way I began every interaction.

Before providing patients with an overview of what to expect from our counseling sessions, I now let them know that I won’t question their decisions. Recently, I told a patient who seemed uncomfortable after I introduced myself that I don’t need her to convince me that her reasons for having an abortion are good enough. While I wanted to make sure it was her decision to be there, I reminded her that she’s in control of what she shares with me. “Oh, thank God,” she told me, explaining that she had dreaded meeting with me because of what she expected counseling to be like. We talked about her life, her reasons for being there, and her goals for afterward. We developed a rapport. As she walked out, she thanked me for being “so nice” and not at all what she had expected.

Thirty-four states require that patients receive state-mandated counseling before an abortion can be performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-seven of those states also have mandatory waiting periods, forcing people to wait 24 to 72 hours after counseling before receiving the health care they have sought.

Typically, state-mandated counseling includes providing resources on alternatives to abortion (like adoption and continuing the pregnancy), inaccurate information and terminology about fetal development (such as the presence of a “heartbeat,” the ability for a fetus to feel pain, and language like “baby”), and the medical risks of abortion and of continuing the pregnancy.

Even though having an abortion is 14 times safer than giving birth, some abortion providers have to inform patients about risks of death, infertility, and even breast cancer—talking points deployed by the powerful anti-choice movement in Texas and nationwide.

Because of the “Texas Woman’s Right to Know Act,” we have to tell patients all of those things before their 24-hour waiting period can begin. We have to give them printed materials with that information, too. A separate booklet we’re forced to provide includes a list of anti-choice pregnancy clinics that offer free sonograms but don’t discuss abortion care. The idea behind state-mandated counseling is that people need “ample” time to make a decision based on the dubious information doled out by the state.

Here’s the thing: No other medical procedure requires this kind of biased counseling, which until 1992 the U.S. Supreme Court had found unconstitutional. The patients I speak to are capable of making informed decisions without state interference.

Part of my job includes providing these state-mandated materials and reciting a script about alternatives to abortion—a script that includes how the patient’s partner in the pregnancy is responsible for child support regardless of whether they’ve offered to pay for the abortion. It’s frustrating for me as a provider, and as someone who’s had an abortion, because we deserve to be trusted to make family planning decisions. Much like the patients I speak to, I knew I had the options of continuing the pregnancy and of adoption, but I showed up to an abortion clinic for a reason.

Forced counseling and waiting periods devised by lawmakers who oppose abortion rights disproportionately affect low-income families and people in rural areas without an abortion clinic nearby. Patients in Texas who live more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion provider may receive the counseling over the telephone; otherwise, they must make two trips on separate days. That means missing work and losing income, securing transportation and child care multiple times, and sometimes not paying rent or utilities because of all the costs added to abortion care by these onerous regulations.

The anti-choice counseling creates confusion for patients who receive separate counseling on the day of their abortion, which generally includes reviewing consent forms, checking for understanding, assessing for coercion, describing the abortion process, answering patient questions, and providing a space to discuss emotions and thoughts surrounding their decision without shame or judgment.

Some patients fear they won’t be able to have children later on if they want them. When I ask if that’s because of the information we had to provide them earlier, the answer is almost always yes. It’s times like these I’m reminded why patient-centered counseling is so valuable, even though not all clinics are able to offer it. Texas policymakers wants patients to fear they won’t be able to have children later, and it’s a privilege to be able to talk them through those fears. I always let patients know that although the state makes us tell them it’s a risk, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology says abortions without complications (that’s the overwhelming majority of abortions, since complications are very rare) do not affect fertility—a comforting fact for many.

Dr. Jessica Rubino, an abortion provider in Texas, said that while she complies with the law by providing state-mandated counseling, she also makes room in each visit to offer patients actual facts.

“It has the effect of exhausting me and confusing my patients. When you go to the doctor, you expect your physician to give you expert, sound medical advice. That’s why you go,” she told me. Dr. Rubino said this should be “exactly the same” when accessing abortion. “If I don’t lie, it’s illegal. If I don’t tell them the truth, I’m a bad doctor and committing malpractice—also illegal. It’s a lose-lose [situation]. Which is exactly what the Republicans who pass these draconian laws want. They don’t want patients to have the correct information.”

Even though most people who have abortions are confident in their decision by the time they come to the clinic, state-mandated counseling is grounded in the myth that people feel conflicted. Research shows most abortion patients aren’t conflicted—and that even experiences accompanied by complicated emotions don’t result in regret.

But it’s no surprise that after going through various political hoops to receive abortion care, some people find more counseling overwhelming. Abortion providers deserve the ability to provide patients with accurate, evidence-based care, and people who have abortions deserve to be trusted to make these decisions in the first place.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2020/02/19/if-i-dont-lie-its-illegal-how-forced-counseling-affects-abortion-patients/

The proposal would provide about $3 million for Planned Parenthood and Maine Family Planning, which lost federal Title X funding when they refused to accept restrictions on discussing abortion with their clients.

Lawmakers are considering a bill to provide about $3 million to the state’s family planning network to replace more than $2 million in federal funds that providers rejected in a dispute over abortion counseling.

Planned Parenthood and Maine Family Planning withdrew from the federal Title X program last year after the Trump administration adopted rules that prohibit them from discussing abortion with their clients.

The state bill, sponsored by House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, would replace federal Title X funds with state funding and fill a budget gap for Planned Parenthood and Maine Family Planning. The two organizations provide family planning and other reproductive health services to 23,000 women at 50 sites across Maine.

The bill calls for $2,035,670 in annual funding for the network and a one-time appropriation of just over $1 million to replace lost Title X funds for the period beginning Jan. 1 and ending June 30 of this year.

At a briefing on the measure at the State House on Thursday, Gideon said that she relied on Planned Parenthood for part of her health care needs when she was a young woman.

“Make no mistake,” Gideon said, “for many of these patients this is the only health care provider that they are seeing. I was once one of those patients when Planned Parenthood was my primary and only health care provider at a certain time in my life.”

The services run the gamut, from birth control to testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests and wellness exams and counseling, Gideon said.

The $2 million in federal funds that Maine Family Planning rejected represents about 25 percent of its annual $8 million budget, and the organization has said the loss threatens its ability to provide a full range of clinical services.

The bill, like the Title X funds it replaces, also prohibits any of the funding from being used to pay for abortions. That has been a chief concern of opponents.

Dozens of supporters turned out to testify on the measure, L.D. 1613, in a public hearing before the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services Committee Thursday.

Among the supporters was Sonny Shouse, a transgender man, who said if it were not for Planned Parenthood’s support and medical care, he did not think he would be alive. He said the organization offered him non-biased access to health care services, counseling on hormone therapy and health care he had no other way to obtain.

“The reason I am still standing here is because Planned Parenthood saved my life,” Shouse said. “In that office, in roughly 45 minutes, I was given a future where I could love myself, and that’s all it takes to save a life. That’s all it took to save mine. The knowledge that we are not alone, we are not without support, we are not without care and we are not without hope.”

Opponents of the measure included the Christian Civic League of Maine. The league’s policy director, Mike McClellan, a former Republican state representative from Raymond, said members of the league are strongly opposed to taxpayer funds being used for abortion, and said some of the health care services Planned Parenthood provides are available at other publicly funded, federally qualified health care centers across the state.

“I’ve also heard from people that these monies won’t be used for abortions – if you look at budgets you know that’s not really a legitimate argument,” McClellan said. “If women did not have health care options and we knew that women were at risk, my organization would actually be fighting you guys to get something.”

McClellan said the members of his organization do not believe abortion is health care.

Karen Vachon, another former Republican state representative from Scarborough and the executive director of the Maine Right to Life Committee, echoed McClellan’s views.

“Abortion is not health care,” she said in her testimony against the bill. “It does not bear fruit. Today the abortion lobby is all about loud and proud, abortion on demand without apology.”

She also pointed to statistics that show teen abortions in the United States and in Maine are on a decline. “From 2007 to 2017 teenage abortions have declined 52 percent,” Vachon said. “This bill is overkill.”

Only one lawmaker spoke in opposition to the bill Thursday. State Rep. Kathy Javner, a Republican from Chester, said the shortfall in Maine Family Planning’s budget was based on a decision it made, not because the funds had been taken away.

“The funding is out there, they simply said, ‘No thank you,’” Javner said, noting that the bill would grow the state’s budget by $2 million a year and would be paid for by state taxpayers.

But several lawmakers backing the bill said they, like Gideon, had depended on Planned Parenthood for part of their health care needs earlier in their lives.

Sen. Marianne Moore, a Republican from Calais, said that Planned Parenthood was the only option for birth control services. She said without the organization, many people from all age groups in her district would have to travel great distances or go without some of the basic health care services provided by Maine Family Planning.

The funding in the bill also would support family planning services and counseling at the state’s five school-based health centers, which are located in high schools from Calais to Portland and are funded in part through the state’s general fund. Those centers provide medical care to low-income students who may have not other health care access, Moore said.

She reiterated that none of the money in the legislation would be used directly to provide abortions

Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, also said that Planned Parenthood was her only source of health care when she was younger. Breen said she paid what she could, but having access to affordable health care when she was younger allowed her to complete high school and college, start a career and become financially stable.

The committee is likely to vote on the measure at a work session scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.

Source: https://www.pressherald.com/2020/02/13/bill-would-replace-federal-funds-lost-in-maine-abortion-gag-rule-dispute/?fbclid=IwAR1QEbuYyluo2Bje6l5F9XVnXTrEOFNychIzKP5GzIP5DD57HzuhupBsf8o

June Medical Services v. Russo presents the Supreme Court with the power to green-light extremely restrictive abortion laws.

This story was updated on February 13, 2020 at 10:06am.

Next month, the Supreme Court will hear a high-stakes abortion case, June Medical Services v. Russo. I would summarize the question presented as Now that Justice Kennedy is gone at last, do his old precedents still apply?June Medical Services presents the identical issue as a 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In Hellerstedt, the Court struck down a Texas statute that—supposedly in the name of health—would have closed half of the clinics in Texas that offer abortion services. The Fifth Circuit, dominated by conservative judges, had held that states that say abortion-related laws provide health benefits need not show that they actually do provide them. Thus, the law’s requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals could go into effect, even though this was basically irrelevant to patient safety. Similarly, the state could require abortion facilities to qualify as ambulatory surgical centers, even though the multimillion-dollar cost of attaining that status results in no additional safety for a woman getting an abortion there.

In a 5–3 decision written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the court majority said that Roe and its successor, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “require that courts consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits those laws confer.” The facts as found in the district court showed that “there was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure,” so the law was invalid.

Breyer was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor—and Anthony Kennedy. (Because Justice Antonin Scalia had died that winter, only eight justices were serving on the Court at the time.) Hellerstedt was the first Supreme Court decision in nearly a generation that struck me as real case law, providing a rule that lower courts could apply, rather than incoherent ad hoc rationalization. The rule it announced, if properly applied, would protect the right to choose abortion from most of the “health” statutes that red-state legislatures have passed since 2010.But the game changed: Republicans had already blocked the nomination of Merrick Garland. Then Donald Trump took office and gave that seat to Neil Gorsuch. Kennedy resigned, and Brett Kavanaugh, who seems skeptical of abortion rights, was confirmed to the court in a right-wing coup de main. Louisiana, meanwhile, had enacted a statute that was in all respects identical to the Texas law invalidated in Hellerstedt. A district court heard detailed evidence of its effects on the availability of abortion and applied Hellerstedt to strike it down.

Not so fast, said the Fifth Circuit. This case is totally, completely, unquestionably, definitely, and in every way different from the one in Texas. Why? Well, because in this case the doctors supposedly hadn’t really tried to get admitting privileges (the district court heard evidence that they had) and so the law was a-okay. (Besides, look at a map—Louisiana is a whole different shape than Texas.) The barely concealed subtext was: Kennedy’s gone, we own the courts now, and all that silly “precedent” is void.

The point of this outright defiance, of course, was to require the Supreme Court to take up the case and thus allow the justices who had voted to uphold the earlier Texas law (Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts) to join the new appointees, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, to reverse or neuter Hellerstedt, and maybe even Roe and Casey.

But some of these justices (especially Roberts) may not be cynical enough to reverse a four-year-old precedent solely because of two new appointments.

Louisiana has thus chosen to present the Court with a new argument—a sort of off-ramp that would allow the majority to dodge the Hellerstedt precedent and give the green light to abortion-restricting laws across red America. Louisiana is mounting an attack on doctors’ “standing to sue.” All the Court has to do is say that doctors who provide abortions to pregnant women can no longer go to court to challenge regulations that would put them out of business.

This move involves what the late Ella Fitzgerald might have called “the dipsy doodle” —when words suddenly mean their opposite. Louisiana (joined now by the Trump administration) argues that the physician-plaintiffs in June Medical Services would not really be injured by a law that would put them out of business. The injury, if any, would be to pregnant women, Louisiana and the Solicitor General argue. Thus the doctors are trying to exert “third-party standing” (disfavored in federal litigation) by asserting their patients’ rights rather than their own. And the facts, Louisiana claims, are even worse than that: Abortion providers are not kindly doctors at all—they are mercenary exploiters of pregnant women, and they ought to be viewed as women’s enemies.

“Abortion providers and their patients have an obvious conflict in the inevitable tradeoff between cost and safety,” the state argued in its brief: “Women have an interest in ensuring their own health and safety when they choose to obtain an abortion … But plaintiffs’ interest is to reduce compliance costs and government oversight while providing as many abortions as possible.”Trump’s solicitor general, Noel Francisco, charged in an amicus brief that “the law creates compliance costs without any personal benefits for abortion providers,” giving them “every incentive to see the law invalidated.” Women, meanwhile, “may see [the law’s] benefits as quite significant.” This means that doctors shouldn’t be allowed to speak for patients. If the Court agrees, the case goes away, and suing to block similar laws becomes much harder—without creating the negative publicity of overturning Hellerstedt.

There are a few problems with this argument. First and most important, the established law of “standing” requires only that a plaintiff him- or herself have a “particularized injury” that is “traceable” to the defendants’ actions and “redressable” by a federal court order. As Stephen Vladeck of the University of Texas and Leah Litman of the University of Michigan pointed out on SCOTUSblog last week, the plaintiffs in June Medical Services have injury to spare: Under the Louisiana law, if they continue to provide abortions without admitting privileges, they could be fined up to $4,000 per violation and imprisoned for up to two years, and lose their medical licenses.

No sane person would question that criminalizing previously legal professional conduct creates an “individualized injury” to the professionals. That’s not “third-party standing.” It’s just good old regular standing, and it ought not to be in question.

The second problem is that it asks the Court to decide the case before hearing it. The question is whether the law advances women’s health; the state is asking the Court to assume that it does. That is, to put it politely, intellectually dubious.

The third problem is that it is asking the Court to create a new morality element of standing for abortion providers and only abortion providers. Here, the doctors are engaged in a practice of medicine that is, under the past half century of Supreme Court precedent, wholly legal. But, the state and the Trump administration now argue, abortion providers should not have standing anymore, because, well, we all know that they are really bad, immoral people who kill babies and fool women to allow them to kill more babies, and they do it for filthy lucre, and they no more belong before the Court than pedophiles or sexual predators. Louisiana and the federal government want not just to win the case but to mark the other side with a permanent scarlet A.

The Court respectfully hears cases from tobacco death merchantscorrupt public officials, and corporate human-rights offenders—as it should. There is no special “we don’t like your kind” doctrine of standing, and there shouldn’t be.For all these reasons, third-party standing offers only illusory refuge from the grim truth that the Fifth Circuit has raised a judicial middle finger to the Court. If the five conservative justices let the lower court manipulate them this time, other conservative lower-court majorities will be back again and again, the appellate tail wagging the meek Supreme Court dog.

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/02/supreme-court-abortion/606475/?fbclid=IwAR2w5eVt6o6Pil5KaHqXlDMM3oq5PWmXEIpri8IKMELQ2j5ZzLCzCZSH41Q

For nearly a decade, as male politicians have repeatedly sought to chip away at our reproductive rights, female legislators have responded with bills of their own, meant to regulate theirs. In 2012 we had a whole slew of them — Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Illinois proposed adding an amendment to a bill requiring those who get abortions to watch an ultrasound beforehand that would also require men who get Viagra to watch a graphic video about its potential side effects; Sen. Janet Howell of Virginia thought men who wanted Viagra should probably get a rectal exam first; and Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner felt that the best way to show men who feel they need a drug for erectile disfunction “that we care” about them would be to require a psychological examination beforehand, and then a cardiac test every 90 days after that, and that they should also be required to sign a form saying they understand the side effects.

Then, in 2017, Texas state Rep. Jessica Farrar “A Man’s Right To Know Act” proposed fining men $100 for masturbating (every sperm is sacred!), allowing doctors to refuse to perform vasectomies or prescribe Viagra if they feel they have a religious objection to it, and requiring all men to read an informational booklet before getting Viagra or a vasectomy or a colonoscopy. So good! All of them!

The latest of these bills comes from Alabama state Rep. Rolanda Hollis (D-Birmingham), who on Thursday filed a bill (HB 238) that would require men to get a vasectomy prior to their 50th birthday or after their third child. Naturally, this would be at the man’s own expense. And Ted Cruz is positively outraged!

This, according to Cruz, is just another example of “big government” trying to take things away from people … like their reproductive rights. As we all know, advocates of “smaller government” would never.

Wow, it sure is incredibly surprising that he doesn’t “get” this at all, even though it is literally explained in the second sentence of the very article he shared. The bill is a response to an especially Draconian bill passed last year in Alabama that would pretty much ban abortion entirely.

The unusual thing about this bill, however, is that Rep. Hollis isn’t actually all that pro-choice.

Via AL.com

“The vasectomy bill is to help with the reproductive system, and yes, it is to neutralize the abortion ban bill … it always takes two to tango,” she said. “We can’t put all the responsibility on women. Men need to be responsible also.”

Hollis explained that she is “both” pro-life and pro-choice.

“I do not believe that women should use abortion as a birth control, but I do believe that if a women is raped or if it’s incest or anything like that, then she has the choice to do what she wants to do.”

Women, of course, are not using abortion as “birth control” (though really — if someone were just gonna have a whole bunch of abortions instead of using a contraceptive, is that the kind of person we want to be a parent?) and this is a choice that must be available regardless of the circumstances of conception.

Who would have expected Ted Cruz, of all people, to be so daft? (Everyone. Everyone expects Ted Cruz to be that daft.) Given that so many people have responded to this tweet by explaining to him what it is about, he will decide that maybe it actually is a bad idea for the government to interfere with people’s reproductive choices and turn around and support the right to abortion!

Yeah, he won’t. But at least now he knows what a big ol’ hypocrite he is. (No, he does not.)

Source: https://www.wonkette.com/ted-cruz-positively-outraged-that-the-government-would-interfere-with-his-reproductive-rights?fbclid=IwAR0-MrhZvagkIf13WRGi_UP3Zz9gE1uhYDTNROzZBjE5r4qn99oH7xGEkyM

The effort to change state constitutions, making it easier for Republican lawmakers to end legal abortion, continues apace in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Iowa Republicans are trying to change the state constitution to undermine a state supreme court ruling they call “illegitimate.”


Taking a page out of the Kansas GOP’s playbook, Republicans in the Iowa Senate last Thursday approved a proposed amendment that would ensure the state’s constitution doesn’t protect the right to abortion care.

The amendment is in response to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision declaring the right to abortion guaranteed by the state’s constitution.

Republican lawmakers called the amendment necessary to counter an “illegitimate” decision by “judicial activists.” But senate Democrats point out the proposal would give anti-choice lawmakers the green light to further restrict and ban abortion without fear of judicial interference (like the unconstitutional near-total abortion ban Iowa passed in 2018, which was blocked a year later by a state judge).

The proposed amendment passed along party lines in the Republican-majority state senate, the Des Moines Register reported. An identical resolution passed the Iowa House’s judiciary committee the previous day. If the amendment passes the house, the full legislature will have to approve it again in 2021 or 2022 before it can go before voters in a statewide election.

A similar strategy by Kansas Republicans fell short in the first week of February, when four Republicans in the state house voted against the effort to undermine a Kansas Supreme Court decision protecting abortion rights. Kansas Republicans are expected to revive the anti-choice constitutional amendment later in the session.

While the Iowa Senate was busy voting on the amendment bill last week, Republicans in a house subcommittee approved legislation that would force doctors to tell medication abortion patients about so-called abortion reversal, a dubious—and potentially dangerous—practice not recognized by mainstream medical organizations.


Unlike in Kansas or Iowa, the Wisconsin Supreme Court hasn’t established a state constitutional right to abortion—but the possibility has some Republicans so spooked that they’re once again pushing a “personhood” amendment that would outlaw abortion care and many kinds of contraception by giving full constitutional rights to a fertilized egg. The measure would amend the state constitution to make sure Wisconsin’s pre-Roe abortion ban can go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade.

The Wisconsin House committee on health held a public hearing last Thursday to consider the proposed amendment. Testifying in support of the measure, state Sen. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) said he wants to prevent the Wisconsin Supreme Court from ever issuing a ruling like in Kansas or Iowa.

“The proposal faces no chance of getting through the Republican-controlled legislature this spring,” according to the Milwaukee Journal-SentinelThough the amendment has the backing of Pro-Life Wisconsin, it’s opposed by the state’s largest anti-choice group, Wisconsin Right to Life.

Jacque proposed a similar amendment in 2011, when Republicans controlled both legislative chambers and the governor’s office. They still hold the house and state senate, but Gov. Tony Evers (D) broke the GOP trifecta in 2018.

Abortion rights advocates said the “personhood” bill was an extreme measure that would strip people of their bodily autonomy. “The message Republicans are sending women by bringing this bill forth in Wisconsin is chilling,” Sara Finger, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, said in a statement. “To give full legal protection to a zygote at the risk of denying women autonomy over their bodies and their lives is wrong on so many levels.”


Wyoming could be the next state to pass a near-total ban on abortion, otherwise known as a “fetal heartbeat” ban. Such legislation outlaws abortion around six weeks into pregnancy—before most people know they’re pregnant, at a point when there is no heart or fetus, and the only thing that can be measured is electrical activity in an area of the embryo called the fetal pole.

The near-total ban was introduced in the state senate on Friday and referred to the senate labor committee. It would go into effect July 1 if passed and signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon (R), though a legal challenge is almost guaranteed. The bill has ten co-sponsors across the house and state senate. Meanwhile, the Wyoming House agreed to consider a bill that would impose a forced 48-hour waiting period on people seeking abortion care.

West Virginia

With the help of Democratic lawmakers, West Virginia’s legislature is aiming to become the latest to stigmatize later abortion care with an inflammatory “born alive” bill.

The Republican-majority state senate passed the anti-choice legislation unanimously last week, the Associated Press reported. Twelve Democrats in the state senate voted for this bill. State Sen. Mike Romano (D-Harrison) told the AP that the legislation “isn’t going to change anything” since murder is already illegal—but he ended up voting for the bill anyway.

The West Virginia House, which already passed the bill in January, now has to approve the senate’s amended version.

Attacking later abortion care with misinformation has become a staple of the anti-choice movement, leading to legislation based on the myth that babies are born during so-called attempted abortions. U.S. Senate Republicans held a hearing last week based on this myth.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2020/02/17/republicans-push-anti-choice-constitutional-amendments-to-circumvent-courts-spotlight-on-the-states/

This year, the Supreme Court will hear its first abortion-related case since Trump’s appointees took the bench. That doesn’t worry this team.



It was January 2017 and Meagan Burrows’ first week on the job as a lawyer with the ACLU and the Reproductive Freedom Project (RFP). Along with her colleagues, she was scrambling to file a preliminary injunction on a mandatory ultrasound law that had passed in Kentucky. Without it, abortion providers would be legally forced to show and describe ultrasound images to their patients and play the fetal heart tones prior to performing an abortion, regardless of the patient’s wishes. A heavy workload wasn’t anything new for Burrows — she had spent two years at a corporate law firm to pay back student loans — but fighting this hard for continued access to abortion care wasn’t what she thought she’d be doing when she interviewed for the job.

“I applied to and was interviewing for this job the summer leading up to the election, when many of us anticipated a Clinton presidency,” Burrows, 30, tells InStyle. “We were discussing all of our plans for proactive work, what we were going to do to expand abortion access, and our vision for a Supreme Court with a seat filled by a Democratic president.”

Meagan Burrows
Meagan Burrows by Heather Sten.

The nature of Burrow’s potential workload shifted dramatically when Donald Trump was elected, but that didn’t scare her off from joining the ACLU.

“It’s not as though the White House flipped and suddenly abortion rights were at stake — it’s a battle that the reproductive rights movement has been waging at the state level for a long time,” Burrows says. “So when they said, ‘We’d still love to have you if you are still interested in coming’… well, the refrain that many of us have said in the movement since Trump was elected is: Yes. More than ever.”

After taking office, Trump fulfilled his campaign promise to appoint Supreme Court justices who’d overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision that solidified abortion as a Constitutional right. Then, conservative lawmakers passed a record number of abortion bans.

In 2017, 19 states passed 63 laws restricting access to abortion. In 2019, 58 abortion restrictions passed, and 12 states passed some kind of ban. Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missisissipi, and Ohio moved to ban abortion at six weeks, before most people even know they’re pregnant, and Alabama passed a total abortion ban. And while none of these have gone into effect — abortion is still legal in all 50 states — these laws represent a shift in the anti-abortion movement’s gameplan. Instead of chipping away at access with restrictions, the GOP is putting forward blatantly unconstitutional bills knowing they’ll trigger a legal challenge, which they hope will reach the Supreme Court (which is now lopsided enough to overturn Roe v Wade).

So far, all is going according to their plan. This September, the Supreme Court will hear June Medical Services LLC v Gee, the first abortion case since Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined the bench. If the court rules in favor of the Louisina abortion law that requires providers to acquire hospital admitting priveleges — which mimics a 2015 Texas law that shut down more than half of the state’s 42 clinics before being struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016 — Roe v Wade will essentially be gutted. And on Jan. 2, 2020, more than 200 members of Congress urged the Supreme Court to instead overturn the decision entirely.

“Their goal has always been to prevent people from getting abortions, but they had been using this sort of incremental approach,” Jen Dalven, 48, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, tells InStyle. “But when they saw the new Supreme Court Justices they decided to just go for broke.”

Jennifer Dalven
Jennifer Dalven by Heather Sten. Sweater: La Ligne.

The ACLU is currently handling 17 abortion-related cases at the state and federal levels across the country. The five women interviewed here are waging that fight alone but represent a team of 14 lawyers who make up the RFP. (They tell us there is one man on the team, and he’s wonderful.)

“It has really hit a fever pitch,” Dalven says. “But we take a lot of strength from our clients: the folks who’re fighting these laws on the ground and trying their best to serve their patients in very hostile states — the Alabamas and Kentuckys of the world, places where there’s real sacrifice on the parts of their professional and personal lives. We have it pretty easy being here in New York City.”

Of course, what Dalven and her team consider “easy” is anything but. They’re working long nights, evenings, and weekends. They’re missing vacations with family or working during their increasingly rare “time off.” They’re missing bedtime routines with their kids, time with friends, and nights with their partners.

Brigitte Amiri
Brigitte Amiri by Heather Sten.

“It’s been really intense for us,” Brigitte Amiri, 45, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s RFP, tells InStyle. “This is probably the hardest we’ve all worked at a concentrated period of time. There’s always been an ebb and flow to our work, but now we’re at a constant [flow] — there hasn’t been a lot of downtime. We’re just non-stop running breathless, and that’s been unusual, to have this kind of onslaught.” Amiri, who has a 6-year-old daughter, says she hasn’t been around as much as she’d like, and has had to pass on family and friend get-togethers as a result of her caseload. “But everyone understands and really supports my work,” she says. “I feel very fortunate that I have that support system to be able to do this — and hopefully we will have some down time at some point.”

That down time isn’t on the horizon just yet, and that’s regardless of what happens in November.

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas
Alexa Kolbi-Molinas by Heather Sten. Sweater: La Ligne.

“When there’s a Democratic president in office, people assume that everything is going to be fine, and don’t really understand that so much of this happens at the state level,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, 40, Senior Staff Attorney with RFP, tells InStyle. “Obviously a president can do bad things — we’re fighting on the federal and state level — but it doesn’t necessarily get easier or make the fights go away when there’s a Democrat in office.”

That’s because a fight to keep abortion accessible isn’t just about keeping Roe v. Wade on the books. It doesn’t matter what federal law says if people across the country still can’t get the care they need. And many already can’t. A reported 90% of counties in the United States do not have an abortion provider, and six states are down to just one provider each. This is largely as a result of “TRAP” laws, or Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers, which put requirements on clinics that don’t have much to do with health or safety (such as: the layout of a janitor’s closet). When a provider can’t afford to comply, they are forced to shut down.

“I think Kentucky is a perfect example of what happens in a state where the attacks have been just one on top of another,” Amiri says. “Shortly after Roe was decided in 1973, there were 17 places where you could get an abortion in Kentucky. Now, there’s only one — and they’re our client, EMW Women’s Surgical Center.”

The preliminary injunction the newly hired Burrows and her colleagues filed in January of 2017 was on behalf of EMW against a TRAP law. A federal trial judge struck down the law, but it was upheld in the court of appeals. On the day InStyle interviewed the RFP team, the Supreme Court announced that it wouldn’t hear the case, allowing the law to immediately go into effect.

The lawyers were tasked with the heartbreaking job of calling their clients and telling them that now, in Kentucky, abortion providers must administer medically unnecessary ultrasounds, show those ultrasounds to their patients, describe them, and play fetal heart tones — even if their patients say no. They did this while each awaiting their turn in the hair and makeup chair, before and after sitting for these photos.

“It’s really rough to have to explain to a clinic what they’re going to have to do now for nonsensical reasons — for political reasons that have nothing to do with science and medicine,” Amiri says. “And as health care providers their first response is, ‘Why? Why do we have to do something that has nothing to do with making sure our patients get the care that they need?’ And that disconnect — between what health care providers know to be true and the politics of it — is just really hard to have to live with and to break the news.”

The team wins more cases than it loses, though. So any disappointment in defeat, while palpable, is swiftly followed by action.

Elizabeth Watson
Elizabeth Watson by Heather Sten.

“We prepare for these things all the time, so even though we’re disappointed that the Supreme Court didn’t take up this case, we knew that it was a possibility,” Lizzy Watson, 31, Staff Attorney with RFP, tells InStyle. “Most patients just want care, so even though they have to jump through all these hoops to get it, they’re going to do what they have to do. We’re just trying to minimize the effect on them.”

The team has also found ways to de-stress, refocus and reprioritize as they move on from a disappointing ruling and look toward the many cases ahead.

“I meditate every day,” Watson says. Kolbi-Molinas says she leaves the house at 7:30 every morning to swim before work.

“It’s such a labor-intensive job,” Watson continues. “So making sure we appreciate each other and making sure we all hear from each other [is important].” And of course, for every lawyer on the team, perspective helps.

“I’m not a martyr and I’m not a workaholic, and I also recognize that there are people on the front lines of this battle that have such a higher level of stress in their life,” Amiri says. “So I put things into perspective and I appreciate the support system and the other ways that I’m able to do my job and still sleep and see my kid.”

By the end of our day on set it’s clear the team shares that almost-frustrating level of humility. In moments of intense stress or letdowns that would seem heartbreaking, they buck up and keep at it.

“There are so many other people who are part of this ecosystem,” Amiri says. “There are the abortion funds that make sure people who don’t have enough money can access abortion — whether it’s for travel, child care, paying for the abortion itself. There are the volunteers outside the clinic who make sure patients can get in without being harassed by protestors. We all work really hard to make sure people aren’t going to go without care in these crisis moments.”

But in many parts of the country people already are going without care, and Black, brown, and poor people bear the brunt of that crisis. According to the Guttmacher Institute, Black and Hispanic people are more likely to experience unintended pregnancy than white people, due in no small part to a lack of contraception access and hurdles to reproductive health care. For Watson, whose Black father and white mother met in a Louisiana high school shortly after schools began integrating, and who left the state to find a home where they’d feel safe, it is the ability to serve these communities that fuels her tireless work.

“I wanted the movement to be more representative of the people that we’re serving,” she says. “And it’s very important to me to be in the reproductive justice spaces where we’re taking about all the things that the community needs, that Black people need and Black women need and Black families need, and not just abortion.”

The ACLU lawyers of the Reproductive Freedom Project all had incredibly different plans heading into the 2016 election. From expanding access to care to working with a more liberal-leaning Supreme Court, the future they envisioned on Nov. 7, 2016, in no way included a flagrant assault on the Consitutional right to access abortion care. As a result, it’s difficult for many of them to even take a shot at envisioning the future now.

“I can’t imagine how busy it’s going to be in 2020,” Watson says. “Because it was so busy in 2019.” From flying to various states to meet with the abortion providers they represent, to filing emergency briefs for individual immigrant women in need of care, the work was overwhelming and emotionally taxing. But Watson says that because it’s work in which they’re wholeheartedly invested — morally, ethically, professionally, and politically — it’s work they gladly run toward.

“How can they possibly make it worse than it already is for patients?” Watson continues. “I mean, that’s not a challenge — please don’t try. But the Constitution is the floor not the ceiling, and states are always trying to lower the floor.”

And now, in 2020, anti-abortion lawmakers in those same states are working to demolish the floor entirely. Passing as many abortion restrictions as possible is a noted Republican goal for 2020, so the ACLU is responding accordingly. The team is preparing for the first hearing for the Women’s Health Protection Act on Feb. 12, arguing at the 9th Circuit on the Title X case on Feb. 27, arguing at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on an Ohio law March 11, and preparing to file an AMICUS brief in an upcoming Supreme Court birth control case sometime in April.

“We are so privileged to work at an organization that enables us to be able to say, ‘Whatever you need that lawyers can do, we are going to do it,’” Kolbi-Molinas says. “[Our clients’] work is so important, and what they’re up against on a daily basis —  regardless of who is in office, regardless of what’s happening at their state legislatures — is so heroic.”

To be clear, this work is done in service of what the majority of American people want and need. Support for abortion is the highest it has been in nearly two decades — 71% of American voters support Roe v Wade and don’t want it overturned. For the lawyers fighting against party politics, laws being passed in opposition of the will of the people is infuriating. “I am someone who is often filled with rage, as they say,” Kolbi-Molinas says. “But it’s motivating.”

And as for Burrows, who is beginning her fourth year as an ACLU lawyer, as (she hopes) Trump begins his final year in office, the team’s successes are just as motivating as their righteous indignation.

“I would say what pushes us forward is that we are winning a lot, despite what is happening in the world, despite the fact that it feels like sometimes we’re fighting an uphill battle and as soon as we get one law blocked there’s another crazy law on the table that makes no medical sense and is completely contrary to judicial precedent,” she says. “But we are winning.”


Photographs by Heather Sten, assisted by Flaminia Fanale. Hair by Yohey Nakatsuki. Makeup by Angela Davis Deacon. Styled by Samantha Sutton and Kristina Rutkowski, assisted by Alexis Bennett and Copelyn Bengel. Art direction and production by Kelly Chiello.

Source: https://www.instyle.com/news/aclu-lawyers-abortion-supreme-court?fbclid=IwAR2TRmPWKxqPTm15rC6kDUQ4U3SY1i2j7x1RCRabdxcuU2bTLPSa81u0fw4