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Attorneys for the State of Indiana want a federal appeals court to revive a law mandating doctors disclose a minor’s abortion to their parents.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard Indiana’s appeal to breathe life into SB 404, a law that bans doctors from performing abortions on teenagers without informing their parents first. A decision on the challenge, parts of which were barred from taking effect by another court, is expected within three months.

Do you want to watch Ginni Thomas interview her husband, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for her “Daily Caller News Foundation Series”? You do? OK. Here you go. Talk about #FakeNews.

Remember Google Bro James Damore? He’s the guy who got fired over the summer once his controversial Bro Manifesto about how gender difference means women aren’t cut out for the tech industry went viral. Since then, he has remained unemployed and dabbled with the alt-right, even admitting that he admires the titles, like “grand wizard,” that the KKK uses. He turned out to be a real gem. Well, he filed a class action lawsuit against Google last week alleging that Google discriminates against white conservative man. Yes, it’s OK to laugh.

A Nebraska couple’s malpractice lawsuit against a Boulder, Colorado, clinic and doctor began last week over a later abortion gone awry. The couple alleges the doctor missed part of the fetus’ skull, which was found embedded in her uterine wall more than a year later and, according to another physician, required a hysterectomy to remove.

A Wisconsin school district agreed to pay Ash Whitaker, a former Tremper High School student, $800,000 to settle Whitaker’s discrimination suit. Whitaker, who is transgender, was barred from using the boys’ bathroom when he attended Tremper High and was subjected to surveillance and disciplinary action stemming from his use of the boys’ bathroom. As part of the settlement, Kenosha Unified School District withdrew its U.S. Supreme Court appeal and has agreed to allow Whitaker to use the men’s bathroom if he returns to the school as an alumnus or as a community member.

The fight over an amendment—Amendment 1—that would strip the right to an abortion from the Tennessee Constitution has come to an end: A federal appeals court last week upheld the 2014 vote that adopted the amendment, paving the way for the Republican-dominated legislature to enact stricter abortion restrictions.

Native American tribes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota have been filing lawsuitsagainst opioid manufacturers and distributors in an effort to hold them responsible for the addiction epidemic in indigenous communities. The lawsuits seek compensation for costs they have incurred due to the crisis.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two Fourth Amendment cases that will determine the boundaries of warrantless searches. One will decide whether police authority to search vehicles without warrants extends to vehicles kept on private property, including, potentially, those housed in a garage. The other will decide whether a person driving a rental car can be subjected to a warrantless search if their name is not listed on the rental agreement.

The federal judiciary is not immune from the #MeToo movement: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said that she will be asking all federal judiciary nominees whether they ever committed sexual misconduct. While we admire the idea, it’s not like people tend to tell the truth about these things.


Trump admin moves to block abortion for fourth undocumented minor
© Getty

The Trump administration has moved to block a fourth undocumented minor from receiving an abortion, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The woman, known to the court as Jane Moe, has requested an abortion but has been prevented from getting one by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an office within the Department of Health and Human Services.

A spokesperson said HHS does not believe it is required to facilitate the abortion.

“The Jane in this case, Jane Moe — who entered the country illegally — has the option to voluntarily depart to her home country or find a suitable sponsor. If she chooses not to exercise these options, HHS does not believe we are required to facilitate Jane Moe’s abortion, out of concern and responsibility for the mother’s best interests.”

The ACLU asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday for a temporary restraining order for Moe so she could obtain an abortion.According to court documents, Moe is a 17-year-old unaccompanied immigrant minor living in a government-funded shelter. Moe is in her second trimester of pregnancy.

She first requested an abortion two weeks ago, but her request has been denied.

This is the fourth time the ORR has tried to block immigrant minors in the care of the U.S. from getting abortions.

In the previous cases, the minors have been eventually allowed to obtain abortions.

In March, the administration established a policy of prohibiting all federally funded shelters from taking “any action that facilitates” abortion access for unaccompanied minors without the approval of ORR Director Scott Lloyd.

The ACLU argues the policy is unconstitutional.


“Someone does not lose the constitutional right to end a pregnancy simply because they are a college student.”

When Angelina discovered she was pregnant as a freshman at San Francisco State University, she wanted an abortion, but the student health center offered little more than flu shots, cold remedies, and condoms.

A grocery store cashier, Angelina lacked health insurance. After a hard conversation with her Greek immigrant parents, she drove across the bay to a Marin County Kaiser facility, where her abortion would be covered by her parents’ health plan. Then things got worse.

“I think I was asked upward of six times in a ten-minute appointment whether I was sure I wanted an abortion,” Angelina, now 25, recalled. Rewire is withholding her last name for privacy.

The earliest date she could get the procedure was ten days away. The delay put her at 12 weeks’ gestation—too far along to get the medication abortion she’d wanted.

State lawmakers could soon provide a new choice for people in Angelina’s position. A first-of-its-kind bill in the California legislature would require student health centers at California public colleges and universities to dispense medication abortion, a safe non-surgical regime of two drugs taken before ten weeks’ gestation. The service would phase in starting in 2022, affecting more than 400,000 students.

No public colleges in the state offer medication abortion, nor do any around the country, but the author of SB 320 aims to change that.

“Someone does not lose the constitutional right to end a pregnancy simply because they are a college student,” said state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino).

The bill cleared the state senate’s education committee on Wednesday in a party line vote, and heads next to the senate appropriations committee.

Angelina, now a pre-med student at Mills College in Oakland, supports SB 320 because she thinks it would remove the emotional and logistical barriers she encountered getting an abortion as a college student.

“It was almost like every week I had to jump through a hoop,” she recalled. “It was a whole domino effect.”

Each month, more than 500 students at California’s 34 public college and universities leave campus to seek medication abortions, according to a recent analysis by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco. The service requires two office visits. But more than two-thirds of University of California (UC) students and one-third of California State University (CSU) students don’t have a car, and half of the student body qualifies as low income. At 22 campuses, the nearest abortion provider is more than 30-minutes away on public transit. At CSU Stanislaus, the trip on public transit takes 92 minutes.

Given the safety and effectiveness of medication abortion, “there is no reason to exclude it from services provided at the student health center,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, director of ANSIRH.

Opponents argue the bill ignores a growing unmet need on campus for services like mental health care, dental care, affordable child care, shelter, and pregnancy support services. A Google maps analysis by anti-choice group Californians for Life showed abortion providers were an average of 5.97 miles from UC and CSU campuses.

“This bill falls short of even pro-choice expectations in that it does nothing to address the comprehensive needs of women on campus,” said Wynette Sills, director of Californians for Life. “It exclusively focuses on abortion, abortion, and more abortion—when not every woman wants to make that choice. This creates a legislative mandate on our already over-stretched university system.”

The legislation, which was held over from last year and heavily amended, still faces hurdles. It must clear the full state senate by the end of this month. Its implementation hinges on full funding.

State Sen. Connie Leyva said expanding abortion access at California’s public colleges and universities will come at no cost to taxpayers. Video by Nicole Knight.

Leyva said taxpayers will not foot the bill for implementation. Instead, two foundations and a private donor have agreed to pay set-up costs for staff training and equipment such as sonograms. Dr. Ruth Shaber, president of Tara Health Foundation, one of the funders, said they do not yet have an estimate of the total costs.

In the end, Angelina had a surgical abortion. It wasn’t the medication abortion she’d wanted the day she walked into the student health center at San Francisco State.

She missed three days of work, and a week of school. The toll, she said, felt like more.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/01/12/california-campuses-soon-see-expanded-abortion-access/

If enacted, the ‘stop abortion’ bill would outlaw terminations carried out because of a congenital disorder of the foetus

Protesters spell out the phrase ‘women’s rights’ in Polish at a rally outside parliament in Warsaw
 Protesters spell out the phrase ‘women’s rights’ in Polish at a rally outside parliament in Warsaw on Wednesday. Photograph: Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

The Polish parliament has rejected proposed legislation to liberalise abortion laws, voting instead to pass proposals for tough new restrictions to a parliamentary committee for further scrutiny.

Poland already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, with terminations permitted only when the life of the foetus is under threat, when there is a grave threat to the health of the mother, or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

If enacted, the “stop abortion” bill – a so-called citizens’ initiative proposed by hardline conservative groups – would outlaw abortions carried out because of a congenital disorder of the foetus.

Such cases account for about 95% of legal abortions in Poland. It is estimated that tens of thousands of illegal terminations occur in Poland each year, and many Polish women seeking abortions also go abroad, or order abortion pills online.

“This is a black day for Polish women,” said Krystyna Kacpura, an executive director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning. “If the bill is passed, Polish women will die. We are treated as unneeded – we are just there to give birth, and if we give birth to a very sick child, we are left to bring the child up by ourselves without any help.”

In 2016, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) was forced to back away from a blanket ban on abortion when the proposal’s passage to the committee stage provoked mass street demonstrations that came to be known as the “black protests”.

But the rightwing party’s leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, indicated that the government would continue to seek to tighten the law. He said: “We will strive to ensure that even in pregnancies which are very difficult, when a child is sure to die, strongly deformed, women end up giving birth so that the child can be baptised, buried, and have a name.”

Introducing the proposed restrictions on Wednesday, Kaja Godek of the anti-abortion Life and Family Foundation told MPs that “we have come to parliament today because we don’t want hospitals turning into abattoirs”.

Since assuming office in 2015, PiS has ended state funding for IVF treatment and restricted access to emergency contraception, introducing a requirement for a prescription in order to obtain the morning-after pill.

Łukasz Szumowski, appointed health minister during a government reshuffle this week, is one of almost 4,000 Polish doctors to have signed a “declaration of faith” committing not to participate in “abortion, euthanasia, contraception, artificial insemination, and/or in vitro fertilisation” on the grounds that such acts “not only violate the basic commandments of the Decalogue, but reject the creator as well”.

MPs considered a proposal to liberalise abortion laws. The “save women” bill would allow abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy and provide for better access to emergency contraception, medical care and sex education.

But its progress to the committee stage was rejected by eight votes, prompting recriminations as pro-choice activists accused opposition MPs of betraying Polish women by failing to show up. Dozens of opposition MPs who were present abstained.

“Many politicians believe their careers depend on the Catholic church,” said Kacpura. “But we will continue to fight this, because we are fighting for our lives.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/11/polish-mps-reject-liberalised-abortion-laws-but-back-new-restrictions

“Women have fought for generations for the right to control their own bodies.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his town hall meeting in Hamilton.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his town hall meeting in Hamilton.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that anti–abortion rights groups are out of step with both his government and Canadian society.

He made the remarks at a town hall event in Hamilton, Ontario, part of a series of events across the country.

An audience member prompted the response by asking about free speech, and where the government draws the line.

“If you’re pro-life then you are ridiculed and insulted, but if you’re pro-choice then you are praised,” the audience member said, according to HuffPost Canada.

Trudeau said that “defending rights and freedoms” is at the core of both himself and Canada, but the issue of abortion presents particular considerations.

“An organization that has the explicit purpose of restricting women’s rights by removing rights to abortion, the right for women to control their own bodies, is not in line with where we are as a government and quite frankly where we are as a society,” Trudeau replied.

He then referenced recent changes to the Summer Jobs program that requires applicants adhere to Canadian rights — including access to abortions, and protections for LGBT Canadians. The program funds summer job placements for not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers and small businesses, the Canadian Press reported.

Conservative MP Brad Trost.


Conservative MP Brad Trost.

The change sparked concern from religious organizations that depend on the program and criticism from the opposition.

“That’s discrimination. Canadians are allowed to have different political views than the government of the day and they shouldn’t have their funding cut off because they disagree with the government,” said Brad Trost, a socially conservative Tory MP, in an online video.

Anti–abortion rights groups, such as Campaign Life Coalition, weren’t so happy with Trudeau’s remarks.

.@JustinTrudeau says pro-lifers are out of sync with society but it sounds more like he’s out of sync with the Charter. There is no ‘Charter Right’ to . The SC ruled that there is “a legitimate right for Parliament to legislate” on abortion. http://ow.ly/rEjq30hHH42 

Anti-abortion efforts out of sync with Canadian society: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doubled down Wednesday in Hamilton on his defence of reproductive choice in Canada at the second stop on his town hall tour across the country, saying groups seeking to…


But others praised Trudeau for sticking to his guns on Canadians’ right to abortion access.

I rarely commend , but I have to give him credit for this excellent answer. The government should not be funding groups that seek to take away rights from other Canadians https://twitter.com/amandacconn/status/951192203774316545 

Trudeau said in Hamilton that the changes will only affect groups whose explicit purpose is targeting those rights.

“Women have fought for generations for the right to control their own bodies, to be able to choose for themselves what to do with their bodies,” Trudeau said, according to Global News.

“When those beliefs lead to actions aimed to restrict a women’s right on what to do with her body, that’s where we draw the line.”

Source: https://www.buzzfeed.com/laurenstrapagiel/trudeau-pro-choice?utm_term=.whXeooQ5P#.urpqAAvJ0

The decision comes as the Supreme Court is set to examine the constitutionality of a similar California law.

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled as unconstitutional a 2009 Baltimore city ordinance requiring anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to post signs disclosing that they neither offer nor refer patients for abortions. The decision strikes a blow to similar efforts across the country and comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a similar case out of California.

In 2009, Baltimore city officials—concerned that patients might get the wrong impression about available services—passed a law that required businesses advertising as reproductive health-care centers to publicly disclose via waiting-room signs whether they do not, in fact, offer or refer visitors for abortion care and emergency contraception. The ordinance applies to “limited-service pregnancy centers,” meaning any entity “whose primary purpose is to provide pregnancy-related services” and which “provides information about pregnancy-related services,” but “does not provide or refer for” abortions or “nondirective and comprehensive” birth control. The signs must be “conspicuously posted” and “easily readable” in English and Spanish.

The Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns (GBCPC) is a CPC that advertises itself in places like the local paper and on the sides of buses as a reproductive health-care clinic providing a full range of services. The center does not, however, offer abortion and emergency contraception; nor does it refer patients elsewhere for that care. In March 2010, GBCPC sued the City of Baltimore over the disclosure law, arguing it violated the center’s free speech rights. The following year, a district court agreed and blocked the ordinance. Attorneys for the city appealed; in 2012 a panel of judges for the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Attorneys for the city then asked the entire Fourth Circuit to hear the case. The full court reversed the panel’s decision, directing the case to go back to the district court for more evidence-gathering. The court determined that more information was needed about GBCPC’s advertising practices as well as “evidence substantiating the efficacy of the ordinance in promoting public health.”

In October 2016, a federal court again blocked the ordinance. Friday’s ruling upholds that 2016 decision.

According to the Fourth Circuit’s latest ruling, while the city has “considerable latitude in regulating public health and deceptive advertising,” the ordinance at issue is “too loose a fit with those ends.” The result, according to the court, is to “compel a politically and religiously motivated group to convey a message fundamentally at odds with its core beliefs and mission.”

“The ordinance forces the center to utter in its own waiting room words at odds with its foundational beliefs and with the principles of those who have given their working lives to it,” wrote Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III for the panel. “Without proving the inefficacy of less restrictive alternatives, providing concrete evidence of deception, or more precisely targeting its regulation, the city cannot prevail.”

First Amendment speech cases are often full of muddled arguments. But in recent years, conservative legal advocates have taken the murky waters of free speech jurisprudence and made them almost unnavigable by arguing laws that regulate the commercial sphere—such as truth-in-advertising laws, or anti-discrimination ordinances like the one at issue in Masterpiece Cakeshop—unconstitutionally force them to endorse political speech they disagree with.

This case is a perfect example of a federal court buying those arguments hook, line, and sinker.

Attorneys for the City of Baltimore had defended the ordinance on the grounds that the regulation targets commercial or professional speech, areas government bodies typically have greater legal latitude to regulate. The law does, in fact, target commercial speech: It requires certain professions to issue certain truthful disclosures: in this case, that anti-choice pregnancy centers posing as reproductive health-care clinics do not offer comprehensive reproductive health-care services. It seems like a pretty clear-cut argument, and it should have been an easy win for the city. So what happened?

What happened is that the Fourth Circuit determined that the ordinance as applied to the center doesn’t regulate commercial speech because the anti-choice clinic is, basically, not engaged in any commercial transaction in the waiting rooms where the signs are required to appear.

“Even if pregnancy-related services are discussed there,” Wilkinson wrote, “the Center collects no remuneration of any kind, including referral fees from physicians. A morally and religiously motivated offering of free services cannot be described as a bare ‘commercial transaction.’”

So. Let’s break this down even more. A business—because that is what GBCPC is, regardless if whether it is a for-profit or a nonprofit one—is apparently not doing business in its waiting room? In this case, yes, says the Fourth Circuit.

According to the court, the center is a “nonprofit organization whose clearest motivation is not economic but moral, philosophical, and religious.”

The fact that its free services may have commercial value in other contexts—like, say, where touting them for fundraising to keep its doors open is concerned—is not enough to “transform the Center’s ideological and religious advocacy into commercial activity,” the court determined.

In effect, the court decided that GBCPC is a pop-up religious storefront that just so happens to offer services like ultrasounds that are commercial in nature. But because it operates as a nonprofit and subsidizes its services, it’s not really a business at all. It doesn’t matter that it is advertising commercial services, in a commercial context, apparently. According to the Fourth Circuit, what matters is what is in the hearts and minds of GBCPC employees. And that, the court determined, is religious advocacy, not money.

Of course, what is in the hearts and minds of the GBCPC employees and its business mission shouldn’t immunize it from the legal effects of deceptively advertising itself to the public—or, for that matter, from refusing service to LGBTQ people or other vulnerable groups. These businesses, with some exceptions, are subject to truth-in-advertising laws and anti-discrimination laws like their for-profit counterparts.

Furthermore, there’s a break in GBCPC’s logic here. If it is so fundamentally focused on a religious mission that includes anti-abortion ideology, then why not be willing to state that loud and proud by complying with the disclosure? GBCPC gets to have it both ways here. It gets to argue both that it has a religious motivation for offering pregnancy-related services and duck the law without having to disclose that it doesn’t provide all pregnancy-related services.

The Fourth Circuit acknowledged that different facts might have a different result, but it is hard to imagine another anti-choice pregnancy center falling outside of the court’s reasoning here. This could spell bad news for reproductive rights advocates nationwide as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments later this spring in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, a case challenging a California law passed in 2015 that requires the state’s licensed pregnancy centers to display a brief statement with a number to call for access to free and low-cost birth control and abortion care. Unlicensed centers must disclose that they are not medical facilities.

Anti-choice pregnancy centers represented by the conservative litigation mill Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)—which was at one point also involved in litigating the GBCPC case—argue the disclosure mandated under the law violates their First Amendment free speech and religious exercise rights because it requires religiously affiliated institutions to send a message that conflicts with their mission of promoting childbirth. Both a lower court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit have ruled the California law is constitutional.

The Supreme Court has not yet scheduled an argument date for the California case. And while the Fourth Circuit’s decision last week has no impact on that one, it’s difficult to imagine the conservative wing of the Roberts Court coming to a different conclusion than the Fourth Circuit did here.

The result of such a decision would do real harm to pregnant people. The evidence is clear: Patients at fake anti-choice clinics receive inadequate care and are provided with medically false and misleading information. It’s a predatory business model with a religious objection to comprehensive reproductive health care at its core—and it could very well get the blessing of the Supreme Court later this year.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/01/10/fourth-circuit-strikes-baltimore-ordinance-regulating-fake-clinics/

The Senate is likely to vote this month on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, sources familiar with the matter told the Washington Examiner.

Anti-abortion groups are pressing for the vote to happen the same day as the March for Life rally on Jan. 19, which happens every year close to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.

The House passed the 20-week abortion ban in October. The bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would penalize medical providers who perform abortions after 20 weeks of gestation with fines or with up to five years in prison, or both. The bill contains limited exceptions, including when a woman’s pregnancy puts her life at risk and in cases of rape or incest.

President Trump said in a statement of administration policy ahead of the House vote that if the bill were to reach his desk his team would recommend he sign it into law.

But the legislation will need at least 60 votes in the Senate and is not expected to pass. Still, anti-abortion groups hope that a vote will force the conversation during an election year to clarify candidates’ stances on abortion later in a pregnancy.

A similar bill banning abortion after 20 weeks met the same fate in 2015.

States have different restrictions on abortions, with 17 of them banning abortion at about 20 weeks post-fertilization, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks and studies reproductive laws.

Advocates of 20-week bans say a fetus can feel pain at this stage, while abortion rights groups have countered that women who have an abortion late in a pregnancy are often faced with genetic results that indicate if a child is born he or she will be disabled or will not survive.

Source: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/senate-vote-on-20-week-abortion-ban-coming-this-month/article/2645321