Crowds in hundreds of cities around the world gathered Saturday in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington.

Source: New York Times

19-jan-2017

On Thursday, Iowa’s Republican Representative Steve King introduced a bill in Congress that would constitute a total abortion ban on a federal level, Rewire reports.

H.R. 490 (legislative text found here) would prohibit abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. This can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — a time period before many women know they’re pregnant.

“Since Roe v. Wade was unconstitutionally decided in 1973, nearly 60 million innocent babies’ lives have been ended by the abortion industry, all with a rubber stamp by the federal government,” King said in a Thursday press release from his office. “If a heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected.”

King reportedly worked on the bill with Janet Porter of Faith2Action; per Right Wing Watch, Porter said that “when she recently attended Phyllis Schlafly’s funeral, she was able to speak with King and convince him to introduce a federal version of her bill.”*

H.R. 490 is similar to the Ohio’s “heartbeat bill,” which failed when Governor John Kasich vetoed the portion that would restrict abortion at six weeks (a 20-week ban was still instituted).

As for H.R. 490, it’s unlikely that it will pass in the House and far more unlikely that it would in the Senate. But even the introduction of such extreme legislation points to the increased attempts to dismantle Roe v. Wade we’ll see on a federal level under this administration.

http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/new-heartbeat-bill-in-congress-would-constitute-a-total-abortion-ban.html

Source: NY Mag

Court rulings in several states have created a patchwork when it comes to what jail and prison administrators are required to do when a woman inmate requests an abortion. Here’s a look at four of the cases that presented that question. Video by Stacey Barchenger / The Tennessean. Wochit

  • A woman has filed a federal lawsuit in Nashville against Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland.
  • The woman says she was denied an abortion while in custody, in violation of her constitutional rights.
  • She had the child in April and wants a judge to order the sheriff to pay damages of $1.5 million.
  • Courts have generally recognized an inmate’s right to an abortion, but there is still some gray area.

12-jan-17

A Tennessee sheriff is named in a civil lawsuit after he denied a 29-year-old inmate access to an abortion, saying the woman’s life was not in danger and her pregnancy was not the result of a crime, according to newly filed court papers.

The woman, Kei’Choura Cathey, was not released until it was too late for the procedure and had the child in April, the court filing says. Her lawsuit alleges Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland illegally denied her access to an abortion, which the nation’s top court has protected as a woman’s right for decades.

The case, and others around the country, pose questions about what obligations top law enforcement officers have when women who are incarcerated request abortions.

“Courts have generally said prisoners retain their right to access abortion even if they’re incarcerated,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

But there’s still some gray area, including on questions of who has to pay and whether a judge’s order is necessary, because each case is different and presents different circumstances for a judge to consider. And the high court has not weighed in.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has not spoken on this issue, so we don’t have a definitive answer on some of these questions,” Amiri said. “Because different cases raise different facts, it’s a little bit of a patchwork.”

More than 10 years ago, in a controversial Knoxville case, a federal judge allowed an inmate temporary release to get an abortion, saying the woman had a constitutional right to the procedure. And in 2008 the nation’s top court let stand a ruling out of Arizona that overturned a county policy banning off-site elective procedures.

Amiri and the ACLU brought that legal challenge in Arizona. The national civil rights organization is not involved in the pending case against Maury County.

A highly publicized case in 2015 in Alabama detailed a sheriff’s refusal to allow a 29-year-old inmate to have the procedure, saying she needed a court order. The ensuing legal battle ended in federal court when the woman decided to keep the child, according to media reports.

Cathey, also 29, was arrested in July 2015 on robbery and murder conspiracy charges and found out weeks later she was pregnant, according to the lawsuit. Columbia police records say she and three others lured Javontay Garrett to a home to steal drugs and money and then shot him. Garrett lived despite the head wound, according to Brent Cooper, the district attorney in Maury and three other counties.

Weeks later Cathey told Rowland, via her lawyer, that she wanted to have an abortion, but Rowland responded that he would not provide funding or transportation for the procedure, the lawsuit states. Rowland said that would not happen unless the abortion was “medically necessary to save the mother’s life or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest,” according to the lawsuit.

The sheriff did not return an email and several calls from The Tennessean seeking comment, and the county has not yet responded to the lawsuit. Cathey’s lawyer, Lee Brooks of Columbia, also did not respond to calls or an email.

Brooks says in the lawsuit he attempted to get a lower bond, but by the time Cathey was able to post that amount it was January 2016 and too late to have the procedure. The lawsuit does not say whether Cathey also asked a judge to allow her release; a court clerk said no such motion was in the court file.

The child was born in April.

The case was filed Dec. 29 in federal court in Nashville. It argues that the sheriff’s denial, and his failure to have department policies that allowed access to abortions, inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on Cathey in violation of her Eighth Amendment rights. It also says Cathey’s civil rights and 14th Amendment rights to due process were violated.

Now, she wants a judge to order the sheriff and Maury County to pay her $1.5 million in damages.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2017/01/10/woman-denied-abortion-while-jail-sues-tennessee-sheriff/96122846/

Source: The Tennessean

24-dec

She wasn’t trying to start a revolution. But it was September 2015, the House had just voted to defund Planned Parenthood — and Amelia Bonow found the one-sided conversation exhausting.

“Women like myself were feeling so incredibly angry and disillusioned and helpless about the way that our rights were being taken away from us,” says Bonow, a Seattle bartender and grad student at the time. “It was clear to me I was not using the full range of my voice as a feminist and a woman who’d had an abortion.”

On a whim, she made a Facebook post stating that she’d had an abortion and was not only grateful for it but happy about it. “The narrative of those working to defund Planned Parenthood,” she wrote, “relies on the assumption that abortion is still something to be whispered about.”

Her friend, popular Jezebel writer Lindy West, tweeted a screenshot of the post to her 60,000 followers with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion — and a movement was born. Within a few days, the hashtag was used 250,000 times as women all over the world tweeted about their own abortion experiences: the good, the bad, and the unapologetic.

There’s the mother of five who didn’t want more kids. The women whose contraceptives failed or for whom Plan B failed. Those who were raped or in abusive relationships. Women with cancer or whose fetuses had fatal abnormalities. Or who simply didn’t want to have a baby.

“It was an organic explosion of ‘We’re not going to be quiet about this anymore,’” says Bonow, 32, pointing out that most Americans identify as pro-choice. “The anti-choice movement has really capitalized on our silence. And I don’t think they can get away with legislating this issue in a way that is so profoundly out of touch with the lives, values, and experiences of mainstream Americans if we’re actually talking about our abortions.”

Of course, the brazenness of the movement enraged opponents. “There were a lot of people saying, ‘How dare you? You should be ashamed of yourselves,’” says Bonow, who moved out of her apartment for a while after receiving personal threats.

But she makes no effort to soft-pedal her stance — and doesn’t much care how others may judge her. In a piece she wrote for Salon.com, she talks about stealing a pregnancy test from Walgreen’s and getting high on pills before her abortion (“because I like getting high, not because I was scared”).

Does she worry that her brash tone might play right into her opponents’ narrative that abortion is a too-easy out for irresponsible — even immoral — people?

“I’m not trying to shock anyone or make anyone uncomfortable,” says Bonow, who insists that she’s merely a conversation starter, not the new voice of the abortion-rights movement. “I’m just helping women talk about their lives, and there are as many kinds of abortion stories as there are individuals in this world. But my experience is well within the range of a normal experience — and we’ve never been told that’s ok. It seems shocking because we’ve never heard a woman talk about her abortion at all, let alone be casual or flippant about it.”

Bonow hopes to reach out beyond the coasts and urban areas to women in red states who are ready to share their abortion stories — without having to apologize for it, finally.

“Abortion is not a ‘necessary evil,’” she says. “It’s a positive component of a society helping women live their best lives. And we can’t fight against what’s being lobbed at us by saying we’re sorry all the time.”

Amelia Bonow will speak on Wednesday, January 18, at the New Vic (33 W. Victoria St.) at 6 p.m. as part of the Santa Barbara Pro-Choice Coalition’s celebration of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

http://www.independent.com/news/2017/jan/11/shout-your-abortion/

Source: Independent

4-jan-17

A new study from the Pew Research Center has found the majority of Americans do not believe the Supreme Court should overturn the historic 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that established abortion as a right for women.

As the US shifts into a Republican presidency, the issue of Roe v Wade and abortion rights continues to be a contentious issue where neither pro-life nor pro-choice advocates can make concessions. But, as the poll indicates, the majority of US citizens do not want to see a woman lose her right to an abortion.

The research found that 69 percent of Americans do not want to see Roe v Wade completely overturned.

Most Americans have supported the Roe v Wade since the ruling 43 years ago, and that support has been growing, despite an increasing amount of restrictions placed on abortion providers. The Pew Research Center conducted a similar survey in 2013 and that study found that 63 percent of Americans did not want to see Roe v Wade overturned.

Support for Roe v Wade is traditionally determined along party lines, with Democrats often being defenders of a woman’s right to choose with Republican lawmakers pursuing legal moves which threaten the court’s ruling. But the Pew Research Center found that the issue is not as clear as it may seem. While 84 percent of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say the Supreme Court should not completely overturn the ruling, 53 percent of Republicans agree.

The Supreme Court case highlights some of the nuances within the Republican Party. As a candidate, President-elect Donald Trump seemed to support overturning the ruling, saying in an interview with 60 Minutes that he would appoint pro-life justices to the bench who would possibly overturn the 1973 ruling, making it a state issue. Fifty-seven percent of conservative Republicans would agree with that line of thinking, but only 27 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans would be on board.

The level of education also appears to play a big role as 88 percent of those with postgraduate degrees did not want to see abortion cease being a federally protected right. Only 62 percent of those with a high school diploma or less feels the same.

Religion is also a large factor – particularly for Protestants. In general, 63 percent of Protestants do not support completely overturning the ruling, but when that group is further divided into white Protestants, that number shifts dramatically to 49 percent who do not think it should be overturned, while 47 percent do.

https://www.rt.com/usa/372614-roe-v-wade-support/

Source: RT

21-dec

Challenges to Roe v Wade presage battles to come in the Trump era

DONALD TRUMP was once a staunch supporter of abortion rights, declaring in 1999 that he was “pro-choice in every respect”. But Mr Trump campaigned for president as an opponent of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion-rights ruling from 1973. (He had a change of heart when he observed that a child of a friend who “was going to be aborted” was instead brought to term and went on to become a “total superstar, a great, great child”.) In post-election interviews, the president-elect has repeated promises to name pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, starting with a replacement for Antonin Scalia, the justice who died in February. After a couple of nominations, Mr Trump said during a debate in October, Roe will “automatically” be overturned and the question of abortion rights will return to the states.

In recent weeks, several states have signalled how they would handle the matter if the nationwide constitutional standard were to disappear. There is little doubt that many states would quickly criminalise abortion. Fresh from a loss in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, a ruling from June that struck down the state’s clinic regulations as thinly disguised attempts to limit abortion access, Texas, for one, would jump at the chance. In the meantime, the Lone Star state has passed a symbolic measure to announce its displeasure toward women who exercise their constitutional right.

On December 19th, the same day the electoral college meets to officially elect Mr Trump as the 45th president, new rules go into effect in Texas. The change, an ostensibly innocuous tweak of the “definition, treatment and disposition of special waste from health-care related facilities”, will require fetal remains from abortions and miscarriages to be interred. No more disposing of the tissue in sanitary landfills, the destination of all other biological waste from hospitals and clinics. The Texas Department of State Health Services will now require fetal remains to be buried.

The tissue-burial idea was the brainchild of Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas. Days after the Supreme Court scolded Texas for cynically citing woman’s health as its excuse for clamping down on abortion clinic regulations—rules that would have shuttered more than half the state’s clinics—Mr Abbott composed a fundraising letter introducing the burial concept. “Human life is not a commodity”, the email stated. Owing to an “imperative” that Texas adopt “higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life”, Mr Abbott wrote, the state “will require clinics and hospitals to bury or cremate human or fetal remains”. Opponents of the rule, he said, “refuse to recognise ANY rights of the unborn”. Lamenting the “soulless abortion industry” in his state and promising to “turn the tides…in defence of life”, Mr Abbott announced his intention to make Texas “the strongest pro-life state in the nation”.

Unsurprisingly, abortion-rights advocates are expressing alarm at these developments. NARAL Pro-Choice America says the burial bill in Texas “unduly burden[s] both abortion patients and providers without any discernable, proven medical benefit”, thereby violating the Hellerstedt ruling from last summer. The same organisation says the Ohio heartbeat bill is a “drastic” challenge to abortion rights. Planned Parenthood is rallying its troops to oppose both measures, along with laws in Alaska, Missouri and North Carolina that look similar to the onerous regulations the Supreme Court struck down in Hellerstedt.Mr Abbott has a formidable competitor in Ohio, a state whose legislature is apparently emboldened enough by Mr Trump’s victory that it has passed what would be the most restrictive ban since Roe: a prohibition on abortion at the point in pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This threshold means that abortion would be available only until the sixth or seventh week—before some women are even aware they are pregnant. The fetal heartbeat bill is a direct assault on the current constitutional rule permitting abortion until about 24 weeks, the point at which fetuses are “viable”, or able survive outside the womb. The ban makes no exceptions for cases of incest or rape. John Kasich, Ohio’s pro-life governor, has until December 17th to sign or veto the bill; if he does nothing, the bill becomes law—and will immediately trigger lawsuits. Mr Kasich has another option: he can veto the heartbeat bill and sign another bill that bans abortion at 20 weeks. While both are inconsistent with Roe, the latter constitutes a subtler attack.

These are the incipient stirrings of a battle likely to grow after Mr Trump is inaugurated on January 20th. A pro-life ninth justice joining the Supreme Court next year will not, by itself, put Roe in immediate danger: the court’s four liberal members and Anthony Kennedy remain a reliable five-justice bloc that will stand up for Roe and its progeny. But with three members of that group—Mr Kennedy, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—aged 80, 78 and 83, respectively, the future of abortion rights in America is anything but secure.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2016/12/roe-rows

Source: The Economist

 

17-nov

An Indiana lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would outlaw and criminalize all forms of abortion in Indiana.

State Rep. Curt Nisly said Wednesday he will file so-called “Protection at Conception” legislation when the General Assembly convenes in January.

Under his proposal, all abortions would be a crime and prosecutors could file charges against those who participate in the procedure.

“You would treat the death of an unborn child like you would any other human being,” the Goshen Republican said.

The measure would almost certainly be ruled unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions have effectively established a woman’s right to an abortion before viability of the fetus.

“My position is that the Supreme Court is wrong with Roe v. Wade,” Nisly said, “and they don’t have jurisdiction in this manner. This is the state of Indiana asserting the powers that are given to them, specifically in the 9th and 10th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.”

In situations in which a high-risk pregnancy endangers a woman’s life, he said the proposal would demand that a doctor try to save both mother and child.

“The idea here is always, always try to save the baby,” Nisly said.

Conservative activists emboldened by President-elect Donald Trump’s decisive victory in Indiana are already rallying behind the measure. While they acknowledge the proposal would face legal challenges, they’re holding onto hope that the composition of the bench could change before the case reaches the Supreme Court.

“You don’t know who is going to be there in five years,” said Amy Schlichter, executive director of Hoosiers for Life. “It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.”

Trump has promised to appoint anti-abortion judges to the high court, and while his own positions on abortion have often shifted, his running mate — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — has assured abortion opponents that they can trust Trump. The staunchly conservative Pence said frequently during the campaign that he and Trump would send Roe v. Wade “to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

Whether there is an appetite for legislation at the Statehouse remains to be seen.

Legislative leaders, including House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate Leader David Long, declined to comment or did not immediately return messages from IndyStar. Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb, who has said he would support anti-abortion legislation if it landed on his desk, also declined to comment.

Ken Falk, legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, called the proposal “obviously unconstitutional.”

“I do not think a legislature sworn to uphold the laws of the United States should be introducing laws that are so obviously unconstitutional,” Falk said.

He dismissed the idea that Trump’s Supreme Court picks may eventually overturn Roe v. Wade. While abortion is a polarizing issue, “I’d be surprised if any court would go in and tear down anything that has so clearly and for so long been the law of the land,” he said.

Indiana has been at the center of the abortion debate since Pence signed a measure into law in March that made Indiana’s abortion regulations some of the strictest in the nation. The new law restricts abortions based solely on fetal disability or gender and requires burial or cremation of fetal remains from an abortion or miscarriage.

A federal judge has since suspended the law from going into effect, saying it would likely be found unconstitutional.

The proposal from Nisly is so far-reaching by comparison that it has caused a rift within the anti-abortion movement.

Schlichter’s newly formed group, Hoosiers for Life, is leading the charge for the legislation. Schlichter was the force behind the unsuccessful push last session to ban abortions if the fetus has a detectable heartbeat.

Others lining up behind the bill include Christian speaker Peter Heck and tea party activist Monica Boyer.

“It’s time that Indiana understands that our legislators are not doing all they can to stop abortions in our state,” Schlichter said. “I think it’s time for bold leadership — period.”

But some anti-abortion advocates say the new, hard-charging Hoosiers for Life group is causing a rift in the movement, said Micah Clark, executive director of the socially conservative American Family Association of Indiana.

For example, Indiana’s largest anti-abortion group, Indiana Right to Life, has traditionally advocated a more incremental approach and has yet to support Nisly’s proposal. Mike Fichter, the group’s president and CEO, did not return a phone call from IndyStar.

“They do not think that now is the time for such a move, and that such an effort could set back the life movement,” Clark said. “Hoosiers for Life disagrees and thinks it is time to do everything possible legislatively to protect innocent life regardless of what the courts may or may not do.  Perhaps, it is time to assert state sovereignty and push the question back to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade.”

Schlichter said any rift is merely the result of different approaches.

“Whenever you are trying to do anything good, there are always different ways to fight the battle,” she said. “There are different strategies, and that’s OK.”

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2016/11/16/total-abortion-ban-proposed-indiana/93954670/

Source: IndyStar