U.S.: Lessons from before Abortion Was Legal Before 1973, abortion in the U.S. was severely restricted. More than 40 years later Roe v. Wade is under attack, and access increasingly depends on a woman’s income or zip code By Rachel Benson Gold, Megan K. Donovan | Scientific American September 2017 Issue Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Email Print Share via Google+ Stumble Upon Abortion-rights supporters and opponents stage rallies in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 20, 2016. Credit: Mark Wilson Getty Images When she went before the u.s. Supreme Court for the first time in 1971, the 26-year-old Sarah Weddington became the youngest attorney to successfully argue a case before the nine justices—a distinction she still holds today. Weddington was the attorney for Norma McCorvey, the pseudonymous “Jane Roe” of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized the constitutional right to abortion—one of the most notable decisions ever handed down by the justices.


Lessons from before Abortion Was Legal

Before 1973, abortion in the U.S. was severely restricted. More than 40 years later Roe v. Wade is under attack, and access increasingly depends on a woman's income or zip code

By Rachel Benson Gold, Megan K. Donovan | Scientific American September 2017 Issue
Posted Aug 15, 2017

When she went before the u.s. Supreme Court for the first time in 1971, the 26-year-old Sarah Weddington became the youngest attorney to successfully argue a case before the nine justices—a distinction she still holds today.

Weddington was the attorney for Norma McCorvey, the pseudonymous “Jane Roe” of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized the constitutional right to abortion—one of the most notable decisions ever handed down by the justices.

Continued at source: Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lessons-from-before-abortion-was-legal/

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Life and death in Texas: abortion frontline of America – video


Life and death in Texas: abortion frontline of America – video

Monday 17 July 2017
Leah Green, Tom Silverstone, Richard Sprenger and Jess Gormley, theguardian.com

New Texan anti-abortion laws are putting women’s lives at risk, according to pro-choice campaigners. But pro-life activists claim they are protecting women from an out-of-control abortion industry. Leah Green visits the state as the battle over women’s bodies intensifies

Source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2017/jul/17/life-death-texas-abortion-frontline-america-video

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Texas Study Shows How Defunding Planned Parenthood Actually Increased Abortion Rates


Texas Study Shows How Defunding Planned Parenthood Actually Increased Abortion Rates

State's teen abortion rate and teen birth rate both spiked after lawmakers cut funding and closed more than 80 family planning clinics

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams
Published on Friday, July 14, 2017

Illustrating the potential consequences if Republicans fulfill their threat to defund Planned Parenthood nationwide, a new study shows that when Texas slashed state funding for family planning clinics in 2011, the abortion rate among teenagers in the state actually increased.

The Texas state legislature launched a series of attacks on reproductive rights, beginning in 2011, when it cut funding for family planning services by 67 percent and restructured the way it allocates the remaining funds. These measures closed more than 80 clinics, including 11 Planned Parenthood clinics. One of the purported goals, said Republican backers, was to decrease abortion rates. As then-governor Rick Perry said: "We will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law."

Continued at link: Common Dreams: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/07/14/texas-study-shows-how-defunding-planned-parenthood-actually-increased-abortion-rates

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U.S.: Many Abortion Restrictions Have No Rigorous Scientific Basis


Many Abortion Restrictions Have No Rigorous Scientific Basis
May 9, 2017, News Release
Texas and Kansas Stand Out as the States with the Largest Number of Scientifically Unfounded Restrictions

At least 10 major categories of abortion restrictions are premised on assertions not supported by rigorous scientific evidence, according to a new analysis in the Guttmacher Policy Review. These restrictions include unnecessary regulations on abortion facilities and providers, counseling and waiting period requirements rooted in misinformation, and laws based on false assertions about when fetuses can feel pain.

The authors, Guttmacher Institute experts Rachel Benson Gold and Elizabeth Nash, document that over half of U.S. women of reproductive age live in states where abortion restrictions are in effect that have either moderate or major conflicts with the science. The worst offenders are Kansas and Texas (with laws in effect in eight out of the 10 categories) and Louisiana, Oklahoma and South Dakota (seven such laws each). A table with information for all states is included in the full analysis.

Continued at link: Guttmacher Institute: https://www.guttmacher.org/news-release/2017/many-abortion-restrictions-have-no-rigorous-scientific-basis

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U.S.: Why I’m Risking Everything to Fight Texas’s Fetal Burial Rule


Amy Hagstrom Miller is willing to take her case to the Supreme Court for safe abortion access.

By Amy Hagstrom Miller
Dec 14, 2016, Cosmopolitan

My team at Whole Woman’s Health and I are bruised and battered beyond what you could imagine. And yet, I am ready to fight again.

In July, four days after the Supreme Court overturned two provisions that restricted women’s access to abortion in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott proposed a new abortion restriction to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. The new restriction would require all women who have an embryo or fetus removed due to abortion, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy surgery at a medical facility to cremate or have a funeral for the removed tissue. On Nov. 29, the Department of Health and Human Services approved the restriction, with a plan to put it into effect by Dec. 19.

[continued at link]
Source: Cosmopolitan

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U.S.: The last clinic: the only abortion clinic still open in the Rio Grande Valley


The last clinic: the only abortion clinic still open in the Rio Grande Valley
By Vice News on Dec 6, 2016

[6-minute video at link]
This segment originally aired Nov. 29, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

After Texas House Bill 2 became law in 2013, abortion clinics in the state were required to meet the same standards as trauma centers there, a regulation designed to make compliance so expensive that the clinics would have to shut down. Half of them did.

“People are still very confused about what’s going on with abortion,” Andrea Ferrigno of Whole Woman’s Health told VICE News correspondent Antonia Hylton. “We still see patients coming in thinking that abortion is illegal.”

[continued a link]
Source: VICE

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Here’s How Insanely Hard It Is To Get An Abortion In Texas


From traveling hundreds of miles to being unable to get a medical abortion, a new study details the difficulties faced by the state's pregnant women

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Nov 03, 2016 at 3:23 PM ET - Vocativ.com

When “Jane,” a 31-year-old woman living in Texas, decided to get an abortion, she found that her nearest clinic was a daunting 85 miles away. She nonetheless set out for her first ultrasound appointment, which is mandated by state law, but then her car broke down on the way. So, Jane had to use a combination of cab, city bus, and Greyhound bus just to make it. The appointment lasted longer than expected, so she missed her return bus, which meant she had to buy another ticket.

“It was awful. It was raining that day, of all the days it’s raining,” she said in a subsequent interview. “It was the longest day that I can remember having for a long time.”

This is the reality of access to reproductive healthcare for many women in Texas following the passage in 2013 of HB 2.

[continued at link]
Source: Vocativ.com

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The Hidden Consequences of Forcing Women to Travel for Abortions


July 7, 2016
Elisa Leilani Slattery


When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law imposing restrictions that would have closed more than half that state’s abortion clinics, it held that excessive travel can be a factor in whether a woman faces an “undue burden” in exercising her right to an abortion.

The decision last week, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, throws into sharp relief that, in many parts of the world, it is difficult or even impossible for women to find an abortion provider near where they live. Unlike medical treatments that may be inaccessible because of financial or personnel constraints, when abortion is unavailable, it’s usually because a jurisdiction refuses to recognize it as a valid medical service.

Abortion opponents in the United States have been trying to constrict a woman’s right to abortion since it was recognized by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade more than four decades ago. Those efforts are evidenced by restrictions like those at play in Texas, which mandated—without any health benefit to women—that providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals and that facilities meet the same exceedingly high standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

But as nefarious as the Texas law may have been, in many cases, women in the United States are better off than their counterparts in countries where abortion rights are slim to nonexistent.

In most Mexican states, for instance, abortion is highly restricted, so women there must travel to Mexico City, where the service is available upon request in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. In Northern Ireland, women must leave the country entirely, due to a law dating back to 1861 that bans abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or fatal fetal anomalies. They also must cover the costs of the travel and procedure themselves—costs that are covered by the National Health Service for women in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Likewise, in the Republic of Ireland, a constitutional amendment granting equal status to the fetus and pregnant woman has resulted in a law that criminalizes abortion except in cases when carrying a fetus to term would result in the death of the pregnant woman. And while a cross-border directive allows residents of Ireland who require and are entitled to public health care services to be referred to and reimbursed by another EU member state for that care, the directive excludes medical services which are “contrary to Irish legislation,” as abortion is.

These are just a few of the places where reproductive rights are out of reach, and it’s not always the law that stands in the way. Italy’s Ministry of Health reports that seven out of ten gynecologists refuse to give abortions based on religious grounds, with refusal rates reaching almost 90 percent in some parts of the country.

What does it mean, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her concurring opinion in Whole Woman’s Health, to “strew impediments to abortion,” forcing women to search for cities and countries where abortion is available and for providers who are willing to provide it?

Traveling long distances for abortions disproportionately harms young women, low-income women, women with precarious immigration status, and women with disabilities, for whom travel is prohibitively expensive, not physically possible, or an otherwise risky proposition. There’s no way to measure the harm of forcing women to locate funds, arrange transportation, schedule childcare, and justify one’s absence to employers, family, and partners—all with the clock ticking as abortions become more expensive and medically complex later in a pregnancy.

But there’s another, perhaps more insidious, aspect of burdensome travel that’s even harder to quantify. It’s a type of social exclusion through which women, however temporarily, are effectively banished from society. Some women’s rights groups have begun to publicly acknowledge this, calling the practice “abortion exile.”

Forcing women to leave their communities for abortions is isolating and degrading; it denies them their status as full and equal citizens. In interviews I’ve conducted in Ireland, women whose pregnancy had a fatal fetal anomaly said that being forced to travel at such a heartbreaking time made them feel as though their country had turned its back on them.

Some progress is being made. Laws that force women to journey abroad for abortion have been found to violate women’s rights in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. And last week, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower-court rulings preventing restrictions from taking place in Mississippi and Wisconsin.

To assist women who are turned away in their search for a basic health service, some organizations have stepped in to provide escorts, places to stay, and (when a clinical abortion is not necessary) creative ways to access medical abortion. But not all women are able to access such options, and they shouldn’t have to. The resourcefulness and creativity of women’s rights groups and their allies do not absolve the state from its responsibility to meet women’s health needs.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is a grantee of the Open Society Foundations.

Source: Open Society Foundations

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U.S. – Liberals ready assault on abortion laws after Supreme Court verdict

Getty Images


By Sarah Ferris - 07/03/16 10:30 AM EDT

Abortion rights groups are gearing up for a major assault against dozens — and ultimately hundreds — of state laws after their biggest legal victory in a generation this week.

Lawyers for groups such as Planned Parenthood say the Supreme Court’s historic ruling Monday is opening a new front in the decades-old war over abortion access.

“We’ve reached a tipping point,” Helene Krasnoff, senior director of public policy litigation and law at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told reporters Thursday as she announced a campaign to repeal anti-abortion laws in eight states.

In its 5-3 decision, the court not only struck down two major provisions in Texas, but also set a legal precedent that will likely make it tougher for states to defend existing anti-abortion laws.

Abortion rights advocates, who have been on the defensive in state legislatures for the last half-decade, now say the courts will be on their side as they try to regain lost ground.

Planned Parenthood announced Thursday it would actively lobby in eight states with laws on the books resembling those struck down in Texas on Monday. It also promised “many more states will follow in the coming weeks.”

Krasnoff said they will first push for legislatures to repeal laws on their own — a far cheaper option for both Planned Parenthood and those state leaders. If that fails, however, it would require legal action.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the group behind the most recent Texas case, also filed the first of what will likely be many lawsuits on Thursday. This one is a direct challenge of all seven abortion laws passed in Louisiana this year.

Janet Crepps, senior counsel for that group, said the ruling was “an important, literally once-in-a-generation opinion” that will have a ripple effect over several years.

“Now that we have this clearer standard and protection, I think there is an opportunity to go back and take a look at what the states have on the books,” Crepps said in an interview Friday.

Even without action from outside groups, the court’s ruling had an immediate impact this week.

The day of the decision, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said the state would drop its appeal of an abortion law because “there is no good faith argument that Alabama's law remains constitutional in light of the Supreme Court ruling.”

A day later, the Supreme Court rejected appeals from Mississippi and Wisconsin to preserve abortion restrictions that had been struck down in lower courts.

Judges in several other states — including Indiana and Florida — have also temporarily or permanently wiped out anti-abortion laws this week in light of the ruling.

Texas’s sweeping law, passed in 2013, had required doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and required clinics to meet the same standards as surgical centers.

A total of 22 states have laws on the books requiring clinics to meet those standards, even in typically liberal states like Connecticut and Rhode Island, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research group.

Five states have admitting privileges requirements, though many were already being challenged in court.

Overall, states have passed a total of 288 laws restricting access to abortion in the last five years, four times as many laws aimed at protecting access, according to Guttmacher.

The court’s decision on Monday does not directly apply to laws already in place, but it creates new reasons for groups to challenge them.

Lobbying efforts by Planned Parenthood and its allies will be concentrated on a handful of red states that have pushed the most anti-abortion laws. Ten states — led by Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Arizona — account for 60 percent of all new anti-abortion laws passed since 2011.

The attempts to roll back anti-abortion laws could also blur into separate plans to build a ground game to help elect presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton this fall. Four of the states where Planned Parenthood plans to challenge abortion laws are expected to be swing states in 2016: Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The now-voided provisions in Texas had been part of a broad legislative strategy by anti-abortion activists. The approach revolved around the promotion of what have been dubbed TRAP laws, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.

Many were passed for the first time in Texas but have since spread across much of the southern half of the U.S.

A major force behind the proliferation of these laws is Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group that has crafted model legislation to distribute to dozens of states.

The powerful group has led a state-by-state strategy — mostly out of the public eye — that is now starting to be mirrored by its counterparts who support abortion rights.

For the first time, a progressive group called the Public Leadership Institute will host hundreds of state legislators from 40 states in D.C. next week for a strategy session about “pro-active” laws to protect abortion access.

That state policy summit will be headlined by Amy Hagstrom Miller, owner of Whole Woman’s Health, whose abortion clinics were at the center of the Supreme Court’s Texas case.

“We feel like it’s long overdue,” the group’s founder and president, Gloria Totten, said in an interview Friday, referring to the new energy in her movement created by the Whole Woman’s Health ruling.

The Public Leadership Institute hopes it can deliver something of a counterpunch to the growing influence of the anti-abortion movement since 2010. Totten added that the court’s decision “creates a major opportunity for us” — one that she hopes can become clearer after next week’s policy summit.

Legal advocates for abortion rights also say the court’s decision makes it tougher for states to enact new restrictions in the future.

In the nearly 40-page decision by the four liberal justices and perennial “swing vote” Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court made clear that states would have to prove a “legitimate interest in protecting women’s health.”

The court’s opinion placed a strong emphasis on medical “benefits” from each law and what could be described as “necessary” protections — and decided that neither part of the Texas law passed those tests.

Even before the Texas case reached the Supreme Court, abortion rights groups had been aggressive in challenging restrictive laws.

But many of those challenges ended in deadlock in one particular place: the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the federal court with jurisdiction over large swaths of the South.

“It’s not that we weren’t going after the laws. It’s just that we couldn’t seem to win,” Crepps said. “We would get good decision from federal district courts, then the Fifth Circuit would overturn.”

That could change now, she said: “We do think this is going to make a difference.”

- This post was updated July 5, 2016 at 11:56 a.m.

Source: TheHill.com

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