June v. Gee: When the Issue Involves Pregnancy and Abortion Inconsistency Should Come as No Surprise
February 16, 2020
Lynn M. Paltrow
Edited by: Tim Zubizarreta
This year, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider June Medical Services v. Gee, the first abortion case since Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh became members of that court. The Court will rule on the constitutionality of a Louisiana law that is identical to a Texas law struck down by the Supreme Court in 2016. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Court held that a Texas law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital was unconstitutional because it imposed a substantial and undue burden on women seeking abortions. Three years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ignored this precedent and reached the opposite conclusion, deciding that an identical admitting-privileges law in Louisiana did not impose a substantial or undue burden.
Contradictory? Yes. But these rulings are also in keeping with a Court that has never arrived upon a consistent view of the rights of the 51% of people who have the capacity for pregnancy – the precursor to abortion. Stories from two other Supreme Court cases illustrate this.
Fetal Personhood Is Maternal Punishment
When society values the life of a fetus over that of a living person, women pay the steepest price.
By Katha Pollitt
Dec 2, 2019
We often talk about abortion as if it’s a thing unto itself. If we connect it to anything, it’s usually to sex education, contraception, and other contested ways of preventing unwanted births.
What gets much less attention is the removal of everyday rights from willingly pregnant women. For opponents of abortion, who grant personhood to fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, it’s not a stretch to go from saying “You have to have that baby” to “You have to produce a healthy baby, therefore your wishes, needs, and constitutional rights are of no account.” Moreover, if anything goes wrong, they’re going to assume it’s your fault alone.
The Abortion Bans
Fault Lines examines early abortion bans passed in the US, how women are resisting, and whether the laws will stand.
(25 minute video)
13 Nov 2019
In 2019, nine US states passed laws effectively banning abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.
Fault Lines travelled to Alabama and Georgia, two states that passed the most extreme bans, to meet architects of the bills and legislators, clinics and patients on the front lines, and reproductive justice advocates fighting the bans in court.
‘Personhood’ Film Shows the Cost of the Push for Fetal Rights
“If [the personhood movement] succeeds, the people who get pregnant are going to lose their fundamental rights… to privacy, to equality, to due process of law.”
Nov 7, 2019
Elizabeth Dawes Gay
Premiering this week, Personhood is the latest film highlighting the state of reproductive rights in the United States and how efforts to undermine the constitutional right to abortion cause unnecessary harm. In addition to exposing how fetal “personhood”—or the anti-abortion idea of legal protection for fetuses—immediately threatens the lives and well-being of pregnant people, the documentary film covers important issues concerning what the future could hold if state and federal policy continues in this trajectory. Personhood serves as a reminder that more organizing and political activism are needed to meet the challenges ahead.
A pregnant woman was shot in the stomach. She was charged in the death of the fetus.
By Michael Brice-Saddler and Alex Horton
June 28, 2019
A 27-year-old Alabama woman was indicted on manslaughter charges Wednesday in the loss of her pregnancy, even though, police say, another woman pulled the trigger.
The moment quickly became a flash point in the broader debate over abortion, particularly in Alabama, and raised questions over how fairly manslaughter charges can be applied in the state.
Using Anti-Choice Law to Criminalize Pregnancy Is Nothing New
Six states have laws on the books making it a crime to self-induce an abortion or obtain one without the involvement of a medical professional.
May 14, 2019
For many years, my organization, National Advocates for Pregnant Women, has warned that anti-abortion measures and related fetal “personhood” laws would be used to criminalize pregnant women—and, indeed, they already are.
Those who had abortions have been targeted for criminal investigations, interrogations, arrests, convictions, and incarceration both before and after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade. Nevertheless, for many people, the new abortion law passed in Georgia, which may open the door to arresting women, came as a surprise.
More and more laws are treating a fetus as a person, and a woman as less of one, as states charge pregnant women with crimes...
A Woman’s Rights
By The Editorial Board
Photographs by Damon Winter
DEC. 28, 2018
You might be surprised to learn that in the United States a woman coping with the heartbreak of losing her pregnancy might also find herself facing jail time. Say she got in a car accident in New York or gave birth to a stillborn in Indiana: In such cases, women have been charged with manslaughter.
In fact, a fetus need not die for the state to charge a pregnant woman with a crime. Women who fell down the stairs, who ate a poppy seed bagel and failed a drug test or who took legal drugs during pregnancy — drugs prescribed by their doctors — all have been accused of endangering their children.
Life After Roe
We need to be clear about what is at stake with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
By Lynn M. Paltrow
Sept. 1, 2018
In the post-Roe v. Wade world described by opponents of legal abortion — one they imagine Brett Kavanaugh will bring into being if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court — abortions will be outlawed, but women won’t be arrested and they won’t be treated like criminals. According to this mythology, women were never arrested for having abortions before Roe, and therefore we can count on the same being true after the constitutional protection for abortion is overturned. This is the story they tell, but it is not true.
As the Senate begins confirmation hearings this week on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, it is especially important to refute the skewed vision presented by those who want to see Roe overturned. Let’s begin by looking at a pre-Roe arrest — and then at the way the legal system has dealt with women even with Roe as the law of the land.
When It Comes to Abortion Rights, Civil Disobedience Could Be the Only Option
Non-violent protest should be on the table ahead of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing.
Aug 16, 2018
In this op-ed, Erin Matson, co-founder and co-director of Reproaction, explains why civil disobedience should be on the table when it comes to preserving abortion rights.
For abortion opponents, Brett Kavanaugh is — to borrow the parlance of baseball — somewhat of a closing pitcher. While there have been other justices who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the federal constitutional right to abortion, Kavanaugh’s decisions on reproductive rights have anti-abortion groups strongly supporting his nomination. For that reason, many have noted that he could be the one to shut it all down. Nominated to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been a swing vote in favor of protecting abortion, Kavanaugh would turn the court into an enduring five-vote majority — an all-male majority — opposed to abortion rights. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that made outright abortion bans unconstitutional, the threat to maintaining that decision in the United States has never been this pronounced. Congress can’t be counted on to save us, as we’ve seen legislators fail us before, letting laws critical to our health lapse. As the nomination hearings begin, we need to keep that in mind. That’s why strategic, non-violent civil disobedience needs to be on the table.
‘I Didn’t Tell a Soul’: Illegal Abortion Then and Now
Jul 31, 2018
Jo Baxter had an illegal abortion in 1965. Now she fears the country is reverting back to a time when women couldn’t legally end a pregnancy.
Terror: That was the only emotion Jo Baxter remembers feeling as she drove from Nebraska to Kansas. It was a Saturday morning in 1965—eight years before abortion was legalized in the United States—when the college junior got into a car with her boyfriend and another friend who agreed to drive the six hours so Baxter could get an illegal abortion from a man she’d never met.