Rights Groups Prepare for Fight Against Arkansas’ Man-Approved Abortion Law

by Julia Conley – Law would require any woman seeking an abortion to get permission from the man who impregnated her. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday in the American Civil Liberties Union’s suit to block several new anti-reproductive rights laws that have passed in Arkansas, which would impose severe restrictions on women’s abortion access in the state. The group has joined with the Center for Reproductive Rights to keep the laws from going into effect, starting at the end of July. “Instead of protecting women’s health, Arkansas politicians have passed laws that defy decency and reason just to make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get an abortion,” said Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “They’ve created burdensome bureaucratic hurdles that invade patient privacy.” The Tissue Disposal Mandate, or H.B. 1566, will make it illegal for a woman to terminate a pregnancy without informing the man who...

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Reinstating ‘Global Gag Rule,’ Trump Attacks Women Worldwide

by Andrea Germanos – “To be clear, this policy is an attack on women’s bodily autonomy and freedom, and we will see an increase in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions as a result.” President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order reinstating a policy critics call the Global Gag Rule, further cementing reproductive rights advocates’ warning that 2017 would entail an uphill battle for women’s healthcare. Officially known as the Mexico City Policy, the rule, as Nonprofit Quarterly explained, “specifically prohibits international charities from promoting abortion as a method of family planning even if that ‘promotion’ simply entails a physician engaging in a conversation about the option of abortion with a patient.” As such, Kiersten Gillette-Pierce and Jamila Taylor write at Center for American Progress, it “infringes upon women’s fundamental right to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health.” Since it was first signed by President Ronald Reagan...

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After ‘Pivotal Year’ for Reproductive Rights, Advocates Ready for Trump-Era Battles

by Deirdre Fulton – Despite major Supreme Court victory, 2016 saw the enactment of at least 60 bills restricting access to reproductive healthcare across the country. 2016 was a “pivotal year” for women’s health, according to a 50-state report card released Monday by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR)—and given signals from the incoming Trump administration, “2017 will undoubtedly bring new challenges and new opportunities for action.” This year brought a historic U.S. Supreme Court victory in Whole Woman’s Health vHellerstedt, which CRR president Nancy Northup described as “the most important abortion rights ruling in a generation.” The decision struck a major blow to the more than 300 abortion restrictions—also known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, laws—enacted by state legislatures since 2011. But 2016 also saw the enactment of at least 60 bills restricting access to reproductive healthcare across the country, and the introduction of hundreds more—including nearly...

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Texas Sued (Again) for Latest ‘Insult’ to Women

by Deirdre Fulton – Lawsuit filed to halt rule imposing ‘funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure, ectopic pregnancy surgery, or an abortion.’ Reproductive health advocates have filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas for its latest unconstitutional attack on women’s right to access safe and legal abortion. The suit (pdf), filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of several Texas healthcare providers, demands that the state halt implementation of a regulation, finalized late last month by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnancy surgery. The Center for Reproductive Rights had warned (pdf) in August that the regulation would “almost certainly trigger costly litigation.” According to the suit, the new rule “burdens women seeking pregnancy-related medical care. It imposes a funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure,...

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Leading Rights Groups Launch ‘Wave of Litigation’ to Protect Abortion Access

by Nadia Prupis – ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Center for Reproductive Rights say ‘these laws are dangerous, unjust, and unconstitutional—and they will come down’. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on Wednesday filed lawsuits to challenge abortion restrictions in three states—the first of a promised “wave of litigation” aiming to protect women’s access to healthcare around the country. Wednesday’s lawsuits target abortion legislation in Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina that the groups say are medically unnecessary and are reminiscent of other abortion restrictions already ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. “Today’s filing is a major step in the fight to ensure all women can get safe and legal abortions in their own communities, when they need them,” said CRR president and CEO Nancy Northup. “We are a nation of laws, and the center is prepared to use the full force of...

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Hostile State-Level “Crusade” Against Women’s Health Continued in 2015

by Deirdre Fulton – Report shows it’s “painfully clear that lawmakers in 2015 still haven’t gotten the message: stop playing politics with women’s health.” “Extreme hostility” toward women’s healthcare and abortion access continued in 2015 and went far beyond attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, with state legislatures introducing nearly 400 bills and enacting 47 new laws restricting reproductive rights, according to a new report from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). The annual assessment, issued Monday, details how politicians gave special priority this session to bills that interfere in the doctor-patient relationship, despite overwhelming opposition from the medical community. What’s more, the report—entitled 2015 State of the States: Fighting Back by Pushing Forward (pdf)—reveals a surge in such restrictions in the South, including measures which force women to delay abortion care by anywhere from one to three days. “It is particularly troubling that these restrictions were enacted in a region of the...

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‘Foolish and Mean-Spirited’: US House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood (VIDEO)

by Deirdre Fulton – An ideological and at times sorely misinformed debate—one catalyzed by the right-wing’s latest “underhanded smear campaign” targeting women’s health—gripped the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, as the chamber approved two anti-choice bills, one of which strips Planned Parenthood of all its federal funding for one year. The Republican-majority House passed both the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (roll call here), which cuts off federal funding to the critical healthcare provider for one year unless it stops providing abortions, and the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (roll call here), which would impose criminal penalties on doctors who do not try to save a fetus that “survives an abortion.” The latter bill, wrote RH Reality Check‘s Teddy Wilson on Wednesday, represents “an idea that some Republican lawmakers seem happy to run with in order to confuse several very different ideas in the public’s mind: infanticide, later abortion, abortion...

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With New Focus on Racial and Economic Justice, ‘Bold’ Bill Seeks to Lift Abortion Funding Ban

by Deirdre Fulton – “None of us, especially elected officials, should be interfering with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions just because she is poor.” Fighting back against discriminatory policies that block low-income and minority women from accessing a full range of reproductive health care coverage, three U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bill that “would finally guarantee every woman can get the reproductive health care she needs, no matter how much money she makes or where she lives.” The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act—co-sponsored by Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and more than 60 other representatives (all Democrats)—has the enthusiastic backing of women’s rights and social justice groups including the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, Feminist Majority, and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH). It would restore coverage for abortion services to...

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Kansas Judge Issues Last-Minute Block of ‘Unprecedented’ Abortion Ban

by Nadia Prupis – Judge will block state law from implementing first-in-the-nation ban on common abortion procedure while hearing lawsuit A Kansas district judge temporarily blocked a state law from taking effect that would ban a common abortion procedure—a measure opponents have called “an unprecedented attack on women’s health.” Judge Larry Hendricks of the Shawnee County district court granted the injunction against Senate Bill 95 (SB95) while he considers a lawsuit filed by a medical clinic in the city of Overland Park and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The lawsuit argues that banning the procedure—known as the “dilation and evacuation” (D&E) abortion—could force women to undergo riskier procedures or forego abortions altogether. SB95, which passed in April, “is an affront to both patients’ right to be free from unnecessary medical procedures and physicians’ ability to act in what they believe is the best interests of their patients,” the lawsuit states. The...

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US Supreme Court Refuses to Consider ‘Coercive’ and ‘Humiliating’ Law Against Women

by Sarah Lazare – Public health and reproductive justice advocates expressed relief at ruling Reproductive justice advocates expressed relief after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an extreme North Carolina anti-choice law that would force doctors to provide coercive “narrated ultrasounds” before performing an abortion. The top court issued a one-sentence order declining to hear an attempt to revive the law, thereby leaving in place the December 2014 ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which found that the law is unconstitutional because “transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes.”The legislation would require the doctor to show the ultrasound and describe the fetus in detail, even over the patient’s objection. It was passed in 2011 despite a veto by then-Governor Bev Perdue (D). However, it has...

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U.S. Maternal Death Rate Now Highest In The Western World, Thanks To GOP War On Women

Ten times more likely to die from pregnancy as women living in Poland or Norway By RANDA MORRIS, Addicting Info – Worldwide, fewer and fewer women are dying during pregnancy or from complications related to childbirth. In fact, women living almost anywhere in the developed world are safer today, than they were in the year 2000. Here in the United States, however, women are twice as likely to die during or after pregnancy, than they were 15 years ago. Thanks to the regressive party, otherwise known as the GOP, the United States is moving backwards, not forwards, when it comes to women’s health. According to the latest State of the World’s Mothers report, released in May, 2015, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal death in any western nation. Women in the U.S. are ten times more likely to die from pregnancy as women living in Poland or Norway. Compared to women living...

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Ob-Gyns Face Down Radical Anti-Choice Law in Kansas Court

Father-daughter doctors say law ‘prohibits them from providing a safe, effective, and medically-proven method of abortion’ By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams – Led by a father-daughter team of board-certified ob-gyns, reproductive rights advocates in Kansas are fighting back against “yet another in a relentless barrage of attacks to block women’s access to constitutionally protected abortion services.” Represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, doctors Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser filed suit on Monday in state court, challenging a Kansas law that bans the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester. The law, signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in April, takes effect on July 1 and bans the dilation and evacuation (known as D and E) procedure — thus effectively banning abortion as early as 14 weeks post-fertilization. Its language is based on legislation drafted by the radically anti-choice National Right to Life Committee. The...

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The Dangerous Abortion Law Making Its Way To The Supreme Court

by TARA CULP-RESSLER – Looming questions about exactly how far states can go to restrict access to abortion services are inching closer to the Supreme Court, as the nation’s most powerful justices are currently deciding whether to take up a case regarding a Mississippi law that threatens to close the only abortion clinic in the entire state. The law in question requires abortion doctors in Mississippi to obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals, a complicated bureaucratic arrangement that is difficult for physicians to comply with. The doctors who fly in from out of state to provide abortions at Mississippi’s only clinic have not been able to obtain privileges — which means that, if the law is allowed to take effect, the clinic will be forced to close. “It’s a blatant attempt to end safe and legal abortion,” Tiseme Zegeye, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights who is...

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GOP House Approves ‘Blatantly Unconstitutional’ Abortion Ban

“Let’s get one thing straight: This bill is a dangerous attempt to restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion, and chip away at abortion access completely.” by Deirdre Fulton – The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would ban abortion in the United States after 20 weeks—legislation that women’s health advocates described as “cruel and unconstitutional.” Following the vote, Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, released the following statement: The politicians behind this bill clearly learned nothing from the outrage provoked earlier this year by its gross intrusions into women’s private lives and decisions. As if it weren’t enough to severely limit women’s options for confronting potentially devastating challenges during their pregnancies, this noxious legislation would also require rape survivors to undergo additional medical care or counseling whether they want it or not. This bill is a danger to women’s lives...

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Attempt to Pass Extreme Abortion Law Backfires on GOP

‘The GOP drafted a bill so extreme and so out of touch with the voters that even their own membership could not support it.’ by Jon Queally – Proving that its long-planned assault on a women’s right to control their own bodies was too contentious even for some of its own members, the Republican majority in the House on Wednesday night withdrew plans to debate a bill that would have banned nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Citing dissent among some female GOP lawmakers and others who acknowledged that the bill would have turned off women voters. The failure of the bill was characterized as some by as a political “embarrassment” for the party which for first time in more than eight years, now controls both chambers of Congression. Dana Milbank, at the Washington Post, described the attempt to pass the extreme law as a classic case of “bait...

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Catholic Bishops Weigh Tightening Rules for Health Care Partnerships

Could have implications for reproductive and maternity care across the country By Nina Martin, ProPublica – The 2011 merger of the two remaining hospitals in Troy, N.Y., had many potential benefits —and one huge hurdle. Samaritan was secular, committed to providing the widest possible spectrum of reproductive and maternity care to its Albany-area patients. St. Mary’s was Catholic, limiting or banning many reproductive options— and any merger partner had to abide by the same rules. It took several years of negotiations among three different health systems, much back-and-forth with women’s advocates, and the sign-off of the local bishop. But in the end, the parties struck a deal that all of them could live with. The centerpiece was the brand-new Burdett Care Center, housed on Samaritan’s second floor. To all appearances, Burdett was a typical maternity ward. But in reality, it was a separately incorporated hospital-within-a-hospital, secular and thus free...

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Report: Abortion Restrictions Tied to Poor Health

by Edgar Walters, The Texas Tribune – States that put tight restrictions on abortion generally perform worse on women’s and children’s health outcomes, according to a new report released by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health, both groups that support abortion rights. The report tracked 14 types of abortion restrictions that state legislatures have implemented across the country, including requirements that a woman undergo counseling or have an ultrasound before getting an abortion. The authors then plotted each state’s number of restrictions against a wellness score for women and children, based on a “broad perspective” evaluation of health outcome statistics and the number of state policies the authors deemed “supportive” of those outcomes. States with conservative leadership, including Texas, scored slightly lower on health outcomes, were less likely to support state-funded health programs and were more likely to restrict access to abortion, the study found. This isn’t unexpected: Republicans widely oppose abortion...

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Another Pro-Choice ‘Hail Mary’ Victory – Women Set To Win The War

by Leslie Salzillo – On Sunday, Federal Judge John deGravelles ruled against a law intended to restrict women’s reproductive rights. The restrictive law, under the guise of ‘protecting women,’ would have closed down five abortion clinics in Louisiana. It was passed last June, and set to go into effect on Labor Day. The anti-choice Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindall, is one of the many GOP extremists to pass the very insidious law that requires abortion-performing doctors to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius. In other words, Republicans think they have found a way to break the constitution, by implementing laws that make it difficult for women to seek and have abortions. Judge deGravelles stated in his ruling: “Plaintiffs will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges.” Judge deGravelles ruling came only days after Friday’s ruling by Federal Judge Lee Yeakel, who...

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Louisiana Judge Partially Blocks State’s New Restrictive Abortion Law

Set to take effect on Monday, the law could have forced abortion clinics to close throughout the state by Nadia Prupis – A Louisiana judge on Sunday partially blocked the state’s restrictive new abortion law, set to take effect on Monday, which would require doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Four doctors challenged the law on the grounds that they were not given enough time to acquire those privileges. They said the law would have forced all five of Louisiana’s abortion clinics to close down. One of the plaintiffs had admitting privileges within 30 miles of his office, but said that he feared for his safety if he were to become the only abortion provider in the state. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the ruling protected Louisiana women “from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health...

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Federal Judge Rules that Texas Cannot Enforce Key Provision in ‘Draconian’ Anti-abortion Law

By Alexa Ura, Texas Tribune– A federal judge on Friday struck down new requirements for Texas abortion facilities — a decision that could have shuttered all but a few abortion clinics in the state. The standards were set to go into effect Monday. The lawsuit was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of several abortion providers, asking U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of the District Court for the Western District of Texas to block the last provision of House Bill 2, which would have required abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Those include minimum sizes for rooms and doorways and having pipelines for anesthesia. The law, which was passed by the Republican-led Legislature last year, included several strict abortion regulations that are already in effect. In his ruling, Yeakel wrote that the law’s ambulatory surgical center requirements “burdens Texas women in a way...

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