Recent decisions from South Korea and Colombia have recognised that restricting abortion did not really protect the foetus. It simply pushed women to seek unsafe abortions and harmed their health.
Written by Gauri Pillai
October 21, 2023
The abortion right is in a state of flux globally. Much of it has to do with the role of foetal interests (or, in some contexts, foetal life) in setting boundaries to the right. The foetus played a significant role in the 2022 United States decision to roll back the right to abortion and the 2020 Polish decision to prohibit abortions on grounds of severe foetal anomaly. It also posed a challenge to the 2019 South Korean and the 2021 Colombian decisions to fully and partially decriminalise abortion.
In India, in contrast, foetal concerns have historically not been a major part of abortion regulation. At the time of passing the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act in 1971, only two members of Parliament protested against abortion (calling it “murder”). The others endorsed it and affirmed that “there is no violation of the right to life in any manner”. Courts, too, have followed a similar trend. At the very least, they have refused to enter into the question of whether the foetus has a right to life. In 2016, the Bombay High Court categorically decided that the right to life begins only at birth.
Her body, her choice: Why a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy must be upheld
For abortions within 24 weeks of gestation, there is no legal requirement for pregnant persons to approach courts for permission. Yet, the petitioner in a recent case was forced to approach the Supreme Court, as healthcare providers disregarded her decisional autonomy to terminate her pregnancy.
Written by Dipika Jain
October 15, 2023
A 27-year-old married woman, mother of a four-year-old and a one-year-old, filed a petition with the Supreme Court to terminate an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Her husband was the sole earning member of the family, supporting the family, his sister and his mother. The petitioner discovered her pregnancy late due to Lactational Amenorrhea, a condition where breastfeeding suppresses menstruation. She was dealing with postpartum depression and was not mentally prepared to have a third child, which led to a suicide attempt. She approached several healthcare providers to terminate her pregnancy, but most doctors declined as she was 20 weeks pregnant. On October 4, 2023, she approached the Supreme Court seeking permission for abortion under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act along with the associated Rules.
Exclusive: Ashley Caswell, one of a growing number of jailed pregnant women in Etowah county, is suing officials after she was denied care
Sam Levin in Los Angeles
Fri 13 Oct 2023
In March 2021, sheriffs in Etowah county, Alabama, arrested Ashley Caswell on accusations that she’d tested positive for methamphetamine while pregnant and was “endangering” her fetus.
Caswell, who was two months pregnant at the time, became one of a growing number of women imprisoned in the county in the name of protecting their “unborn children”.
Nearly 1,400 prosecutions of pregnant people occurred in the 16 years leading up to Dobbs in 2022, a new Pregnancy Justice report finds.
by TALLULAH COSTA, Ms. Magazine
The war on reproductive justice wages on, and the right to a safe and healthy pregnancy hangs in the balance—according to a new report “The Rise of Pregnancy Criminalization,” by Pregnancy Justice, an organization dedicated to defending “the civil and human rights of pregnant people,” and guided by a reproductive justice framework. Analyzing data from 2006 to 2022, the report offers the first and only comprehensive study of the criminalization of people for their actions while pregnant during the Roe era.
The report shows an alarming rise in pregnancy criminalization, increasing three-fold over the past 16 years. The states where fetuses are recognized as people under criminal law, as decided by state supreme courts, are also the states with the most striking data for prosecutions of pregnancy. Just five Southern states are largely responsible for this increase in arrests: Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
June 16, 2023
The imprisonment of a woman in the UK for taking abortion pills at 32-34 weeks of pregnancy has shocked many. Most people are still unaware that abortion at any stage of pregnancy is illegal in England and Wales, unless authorised by two doctors.
Any woman who obtains abortion medication from sources other than an official provider faces the prospect of life imprisonment under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. As does any woman who uses legally obtained medication in any way other than as directed, for example, delaying taking the medication.
The lawsuit’s long game — beyond instilling fear — is establishing fetal personhood, the holy grail of the anti-abortion movement.
April 26 2023
“YOUR HELP MEANS the world to me,” a grateful Brittni Silva texted her best friends, Jackie Noyola and Amy Carpenter, last July. “I’m so lucky to have y’all. Really.”
A month after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Houston mother of two experienced an unplanned pregnancy with her now ex-husband and allegedly sought abortion care with the help of her friends. For nearly a year, Texas had imposed a six-week abortion ban, and a full “trigger” ban would be enacted in just a few weeks. Silva needed to act fast and extricate herself from what appeared to be an emotionally unhealthy relationship with a husband she would go on to divorce in February. Her friends offered their unwavering support.
The legal zombie may be unconstitutional, but that didn’t stop conservative judges from citing it in their recent mifepristone decisions.
BY DAHLIA LITHWICK
APRIL 15, 2023
Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s blockbuster opinion last week ordered the suspension of the Food and Drug Administration’s 23-year-old approval of mifepristone, the first pill used in a medication abortion. In the text, the judge invoked a bizarre bit of legal reasoning: the Comstock Act, a law that Congress passed in 1873 to ban sending pornographic literature, contraceptives, and early abortion-inducing substances through the mail. The law has been criticized as overly broad, even unconstitutional, and archaic for much of its 150-year history. But on Thursday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed much of Kacsmaryk’s ruling, including his invocation of Comstock.
On Slate’s legal and courts podcast Amicus, host Dahlia Lithwick discussed the far-reaching implications of the Comstock Act’s dubious resurrection and rehabilitation by these conservative judges with Mary Ziegler, an expert on the law, history, and politics of reproductive health care and conservatism in the U.S. from 1945 to the present. Ziegler is a professor at the University of California–Davis School of Law, and the author of Roe: The History of a National Obsession. A transcript of their conversation below has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Continued : https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2023/04/abortion-pill-ban-comstock-act-history-mifepristone-kacsmaryk.html
This unprecedented abuse of judicial power with no basis in law or fact will soon force the Supreme Court’s hand.
BY MARK JOSEPH STERN
APRIL 07, 2023
On Friday evening, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of Texas issued an unprecedented decision withdrawing the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, the first drug used in medication abortion, 23 years after it was first approved. His order, which applies nationwide, marks the first time in history that a court has claimed the authority to single-handedly pull a drug from the market, a power that courts do not, in fact, have. Kacsmaryk’s ruling is indefensible from top to bottom and will go down in history as one of the judiciary’s most shocking and lawless moments.
It goes even further than expected, raising the possibility that he will impose “fetal personhood,” which holds that every state must ban abortion because it murders a human. Within an hour of its release, the decision also spurred the start of a constitutional crisis: A federal judge in Washington swiftly issued a dueling injunction compelling the FDA to continue allowing mifepristone in 17 states and District of Columbia, which brought a separate suit in Washington.
Leading legal scholar Mary Ziegler and Tennessee OB-GYN Dr. Nikki Zite talk to ProPublica about ominous trends and threats to patients’ lives posed by increasingly strict abortion bans.
by Ziva Branstetter
March 29, 2023
Nine months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of federal protection of abortion rights, the impact of the landmark ruling known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization continues to ripple across the nation.
In Dobbs, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. The ruling essentially divided the nation into two territories: states where people have access to abortion care and states where most or all people are unable to obtain an abortion, even if their lives are at risk.
BY MARY ZIEGLER, Slate
MARCH 28, 2023
Earlier this month, Jonathan Mitchell, the former Texas solicitor general and the architect of S.B. 8, Texas’s six-week abortion ban, filed what seems like a long-shot lawsuit. Mitchell is representing a Texas man in a wrongful-death suit against two of his ex-wife’s friends and the person who provided them with an abortion pill.
This suit may never go anywhere, even in a state as hostile to abortion as Texas. State law requires that a death be “wrongful,” but the abortion in this case took place before Texas’ trigger ban took effect. Mitchell and his colleagues are relying on a pre-Roe criminal ban to try the case, and its legal status remains contested. As important, Texas law makes clear that pregnant people themselves can’t be sued or prosecuted for having abortions, so it’s not clear that aiding a woman in doing so would be considered wrongful either.