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“Using stereotypes of women to mock a woman? How terribly novel and witty.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 13:30
“Using stereotypes of women to mock a woman? How terribly novel and witty.”


Pinterest deleted Rand Paul’s sexist and unfunny Hillary Clinton ‘parody’
www.washingtonpost.com
A Pinterest spokesman said it violated the site's "acceptable use" policy.

Lesbian Couple Receives First-Ever Same-Sex Marriage License in Texas

RH Reality Check - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 12:32

Two Central Texas women made history Thursday morning when they became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in the state.

A judge ordered the Travis County Clerk to issue a marriage license to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, an Austin couple who have been together for nearly 31 years and who married outside the county clerk’s office Thursday in the presence of friends and family, including their daughters Dawn and Ting.

Judge David Wahlberg issued a temporary restraining order granting the couple’s right to marry in part because Goodfriend has ovarian cancer, citing the “time urgency” of a serious condition which might mean she could never see the resolution of ongoing legal challenges to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The Travis County Clerk’s office, in a statement announcing the license, said that while Texas awaits a decision on same-sex marriage—two Texas couples who have sued for the right to marry are awaiting a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling—”this couple may not get the chance to hear the outcome of this issue because [of] one person’s health.”

Wahlberg also cited “the ongoing violations of Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights,” but his ruling is specifically limited to Goodfriend and Bryant. Other Texas couples who wish to marry in Travis County must obtain a similar restraining order from a judge.

Goodfriend and Bryant petitioned the court just two days after another Travis County probate judge declared Texas’ same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional in a separate ruling concerning a lesbian woman whose long-time partner died of colon cancer in 2014.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked the Texas Supreme Court to halt that probate ruling and prevent couples from obtaining marriage licenses from county clerks that would be willing to issue them.

In their petition, Goodfriend and Bryant—who worked quietly with lawyers to ensure their marriage could be made legal before it made the news—asked for a restraining order allowing them to marry, arguing that the state ban causes them “ongoing, irreparable loss of actual and potential benefits otherwise available under the law” and that Goodfriend’s medical condition makes her future “very uncertain.”

Texas is one of just 14 remaining states that does not recognize same-sex marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Image: Travis County Clerk

The post Lesbian Couple Receives First-Ever Same-Sex Marriage License in Texas appeared first on RH Reality Check.

New Attacks on Second-Trimester Abortions, Same Old Playbook

RH Reality Check - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 11:49

It’s déjà vu all over again. In the 1990s, abortion opponents seized on an uncommon method of abortion used after the first trimester of pregnancy, known in medical circles as “intact dilation and extraction.” They coined a new term—“partial-birth abortion”—that had appeared nowhere in medical literature. Next, they relentlessly spread grisly details of the procedure, replete with graphics, in public smear campaigns and on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Ultimately, Congress banned the method (the first time that body had restricted a particular medical procedure) and President George W. Bush signed the bill. When the case came before the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart, lawyers opposing the ban drew on the testimony of abortion providers who argued that in certain medical situations, the contested procedure was the safest option. By contrast, the “experts” who provided testimony in support of the ban included doctors who had never performed this procedure—and even one who had never performed any abortions. Still, the Supreme Court upheld the ban. For the first time in abortion jurisprudence, the Court did not permit an exception for the health of the pregnant woman, though it did permit one for life-threatening situations.

This “partial-birth abortion” ban was a public-relations success for the anti-abortion movement. Now, that same playbook is being used again in Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota in a new campaign to outlaw yet another second-trimester abortion method, “dilation and evacuation” (D and E). Once again, the medical term for this procedure has been replaced by a garish one, “dismemberment abortion,” and once again, abortion opponents are hoping that dwelling on the details of this procedure will lead lawmakers to ban it. Ironically, the justices writing the majority opinion in the Gonzales v. Carhart decision took pains to show they were not banning all methods of second-trimester abortions: D and E procedures, they wrote, would still be permitted.

This new campaign, if successful, will be far more damaging to women than the previous one. Though no precise figure is available, the number of intact dilations and extractions performed annually before the ban was very low. In contrast, the D and E procedure is used in nearly all second-trimester abortions in the United States: about 140,000 a year. If D and E were to be banned, women would have only labor induction or hysterotomy (a mini-cesarean section) as options for second-trimester abortions. These archaic methods were largely abandoned decades ago in the United States.

For both medical and non-medical reasons, D and E abortion quickly emerged after its introduction as the standard of care for second-trimester abortion. High-quality studies, including three randomized controlled trials and a large comparative study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, established that D and E abortion was safer for women than alternative methods.

Women also began to choose D and E in large numbers for other reasons. As an outpatient procedure, it was less expensive than being hospitalized for labor induction or hysterotomy. It was more convenient: The duration of a labor-induction abortion was unpredictable, but a D and E procedure could be scheduled with precision. D and E abortions were less painful than labor-and-delivery or an abdominal operation. They were more compassionate as well; women did not need to undergo the emotional stress of labor. As one of us, Dr. David Grimes, has written, “D&E shifts the emotional burden of the procedure from the woman to the physician, and that is entirely appropriate. One of our most important roles as physicians is to ease suffering, both physical and emotional.”

The specifics of abortion methods can be unpleasant to the lay public. However, this is true of most operations that remove tissue from the body. Surgeons choose operations based on what is safest and most appropriate for the patient, not on what is pleasant for the surgeon. The same professional standard applies to abortion.

Even if it is an effective strategy for anti-choice activists, considering these methods separately from the women who need abortion care is wrong. D and E abortion should not become a political football. D and E abortion is not a problem, any more than a mastectomy is a problem. Both are solutions to a problem.

States do not allow politicians without medical training, credentialing, and licensing to perform surgery; indeed, practicing without a license is a crime. Why should these same laypersons be allowed to dictate the surgical practice of physicians and their patients?

Image: Shutterstock

The post New Attacks on Second-Trimester Abortions, Same Old Playbook appeared first on RH Reality Check.

No. No no no no.

NARAL Pro-Choice America - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 10:54
No. No no no no.


GOP Politician: Planned Parenthood Is Worse Than ISIS
www.huffingtonpost.com
A South Dakota politician attacked Planned Parenthood on his official website, calling the family planning center worse than ISIS.

Mississippi Asks Roberts Court to Help Close Its Only Abortion Clinic

RH Reality Check - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 09:58

There are plenty of reasons the U.S. Supreme Court should reject the petition filed Wednesday by attorneys for the State of Mississippi, who are requesting the Court overturn a federal appeals court decision blocking Mississippi’s anti-choice law that requires providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital or face criminal penalties.

For starters, the order keeping the state’s last remaining clinic open is preliminary while the lawsuit challenging the law proceeds. If the Roberts Court is considering closing the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, hopefully the justices would wait until there’s at least a trial record detailing the pseudo-science propping up these regulations before stepping in.

With the Obamacare subsidies case just around the corner for the Roberts Court, there is, once again, a partisan spotlight shining on the Court and its role in the U.S. health-care system.

It would be politically apt, especially for a chief justice whose tenure just hit the ten-year mark and is mindful of his legacy, for the Court to dodge another high-profile case at this time. The conservative wing of Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas can fire off some frothy dissent of the denial of review, which Roberts can join for political cover. Meanwhile, the clinic would remain open while the trial proceeds, appeasing the liberal wing of the Court. Everybody wins. Or something close to that.

Despite all the reasons the Roberts Court should not step into the fight over hospital admitting privileges in Mississippi, the state’s petition for review, submitted by Democratic attorney general Jim Hood, might be too much for the Court to resist.

The petition opens with the kind of pearl-clutching over non-existent abortion-related injuries that have come to populate not just anti-choice talking points, but state legislatures across the country, thanks to a cadre of hired guns testifying in support of measures like Mississippi’s.

“Concerned by highly publicized reports of deaths and injuries involving abortion facilities across the country that raised serious doubts as to the safety of women undergoing abortion procedures, the legislatures in numerous states, including Mississippi, increasingly began requiring doctors performing abortions to hold admitting privileges at local hospitals,” the petition’s first substantive sentence reads.

But if Mississippi’s petition opens by invoking the fear of more Kermit Gosnells lurking somewhere out there, it doesn’t linger there long. It shifts instead to the supposed horrors that will come if the Roberts Court allows the Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization to exist “beyond the regulatory reach of the State,” by not enforcing the state’s TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) law.

Like so many of the anti-choice movement’s attempts to curtail reproductive rights, Mississippi’s admitting privileges law is not about protecting the safety of patients—a link Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit described as “feeble” when striking down as unconstitutional Wisconsin’s admitting privileges law.

Unlike other states like Texas, which have also enacted an admitting privileges requirement, Mississippi had for several years prior to passing its TRAP law required doctors performing outpatient procedures other than abortion to get admitting privileges.

This difference, attorneys for the Mississippi argue, makes this a compelling case for the Roberts Court to take up. Mississippi may be the first state to try and close its only abortion clinic, but it won’t be the last.

When the Roberts Court took its first pass at admitting privileges in the challenge to Texas’ HB 2, the issue was whether states could create swaths of reproductive health-care deserts within their borders, thereby forcing patients to travel hundreds of miles to access care, not whether states could constitutionally target for closure the only abortion clinic within its borders.

Patients in Mississippi, according to the state’s attorneys, must already travel great distances because there is only one clinic, so the TRAP law, if enacted, would change almost nothing. Instead, the attorneys argue that the Roberts Court should reverse the Fifth Circuit ruling and let the law go into effect while the trial proceeds, and the lower court can consider the availability of abortion services in metropolitan areas of states adjoining Mississippi, such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mobile, and Memphis.

And it is this tension—between the fundamental right of a woman to control her reproductive destiny and the power of the state to prevent her from doing so at all costs—that the Roberts Court will, at some point, have to wade into. In other words, if the right to an abortion is a federal right, does that mean states are required to keep at least one clinic open? According to the attorneys for the State of Mississippi, and to Judge Garza of the Fifth Circuit, who dissented in the Mississippi case, the answer to that question is a resounding “no.”

Normally a question like the one between the fundamental rights of patients and the power of the state is the kind of wonky constitutional law word problem I adore. But in this case, there is simply too much on the line. This case is not just a constitutional fight between the rights of patients and the power of the state. This is a case that, if anti-abortion activists get their way, will drive reproductive health care in Mississippi back into the shadows. And we all know those activists won’t stop with Mississippi.

Attorneys for the State of Mississippi point the Roberts Court to the existence of clinics in places like Mobile and Baton Rouge as proof that patients in need of care can go somewhere closer than Jackson if they want. This is of course the ultimate false choice, as lawmakers in Alabama and Louisiana are still pursuing their own TRAP laws designed to close as many clinics in their states as their respective laws will allow.

And with six other states with only one clinic remaining, this is a false choice reproductive rights advocates cannot let stand unchallenged.

This is especially true when the anti-choice right frames this issue, like they did here, as creating a “bright line test” where states “lose” the power to regulate abortion clinics.

“The Fifth Circuit’s bright-line test effectively places the Clinic beyond the regulatory reach of the State, granting [the Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization] a perpetual, unregulated existence,” attorneys for the State of Mississippi wrote. “The Fifth Circuit’s decision comes perilously close to requiring the State of Mississippi to provide a means by which women seeking abortion may exercise that right.”

Anti-choice activists have turned to this kind of through-the-looking glass thinking, in which a hyper-regulatory environment for abortion providers that results in clinic closures like Mississippi is, in their reality, a regulatory environment that is “dangerously close” to public financing of abortions.

“There is no reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to step into this case,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement following Mississippi’s filing. “This law is an underhanded attempt by anti-choice politicians to close the state’s only abortion clinic. Mississippi cannot make a run-around the constitutional guarantees of Roe v. Wade with a sham health and safety law.”

Reproductive rights advocates will have an opportunity to respond to the State of Mississippi’s petition. There is no guarantee the Roberts Court will agree to hear the case. Either way, Mississippi’s petition paints a distressing picture of the abortion rights showdown headed to the Supreme Court.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Mississippi Asks Roberts Court to Help Close Its Only Abortion Clinic appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Corporate Health-Care Giant Says Affordable Care Act Benefits Women

RH Reality Check - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 08:21

The nation’s largest for-profit health-care company is defending the Affordable Care Act because of the law’s substantial benefits to women’s health.

Women who are insured on the federal health exchanges are better able to access needed diagnostic care and treatments than uninsured women, according to a brief submitted by the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) to the Supreme Court.

The brief defends the Obama administration in King v. Burwell, a case that threatens to devastate health-care reform and throw the insurance market into chaos by invalidating the federal exchange subsidies that keep health insurance affordable for millions of people living in states that haven’t set up exchanges.

HCA was once headed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, no friend of Obamacare, and donates more to Republican candidates and PACs than Democratic ones. But like many other corporations, HCA doesn’t want to see the Supreme Court rule against the Obama administration because it finds that the law works as intended and benefits its bottom line.

HCA’s brief, drawing on data from patients at its 15 acute care hospitals and 112 ambulatory surgical centers, finds that uninsured patients use expensive emergency room care more than three times as much as patients who are insured through the federal exchanges. That’s because uninsured patients avoid preventive care that they can’t afford until the problem becomes too severe to ignore. Then they go to emergency rooms, where they can’t be turned away for lack of insurance, but where they only receive limited services and cost the system more as a whole.

Breast ultrasounds are one service patients can’t usually access in emergency rooms. HCA finds that women insured through the federal exchanges are able to access ultrasound care to examine a breast lump or abnormal mammogram three times more frequently than uninsured women.

A staggering 77 percent of HCA’s federal exchange-insured oncology patients were women. Women are at higher risk for cancer before the age of 65—also the age at which they would qualify for Medicare and no longer need coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

High numbers of women accessing cancer treatment is one reason women outnumber men two-to-one among HCA’s patients who are insured through the federal exchanges.

Sixty-five percent of HCA’s federal exchange patients are women, whereas just 53 percent of HCA’s uninsured patients are women. This suggests that many more women forgo necessary care when they are uninsured, and take advantage of insurance in much larger numbers when they can finally access it.

The brief draws special attention to the health benefits for women insured through the exchanges because Congress also paid special attention to women’s health issues in the Affordable Care Act—like covering women’s health services as “essential benefits,” or banning the practice of charging women more for health insurance. The Supreme Court case determining the fate of Obamacare hinges on what Congress intended when it wrote the law. If Congress intended to benefit women’s health, HCA argues, it can’t possibly have wanted millions of women to go without the essential care they can only afford thanks to the federal exchange subsidies.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Corporate Health-Care Giant Says Affordable Care Act Benefits Women appeared first on RH Reality Check.

El Salvador Releases One Woman Wrongfully Imprisoned, But Refuses to Pardon 15 Others

Center for Reproductive Rights - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 23:00
El Salvador Releases One Woman Wrongfully Imprisoned, But Refuses to Pardon 15 Others

02.19.15 - (PRESS RELEASE) On the same day local advocates celebrate the official release of “Guadalupe”—a rape survivor who became pregnant, suffered an obstetric emergency, was charged for having an abortion and later wrongfully imprisoned for homicide—anonymous sources have confirmed that El Salvador will refuse to issue any additional pardons of other similarly imprisoned women, according to Agrupación Ciudadana.

Last month, the Congress approved “Guadalupe’s” pardon by 43 votes, after both the Human Rights Congressional Committee and Supreme Court Committee submitted their recommendation for her release. The remaining women, part of a group called “Las 17,” are each currently serving 30-40 year sentences.

For more than 16 years, El Salvador has criminalized abortion in all circumstances--even when necessary to save a woman’s life—imposing harsh criminal penalties on both women and physicians. The ban has resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of countless women who have suffered pregnancy-related complications and miscarriages, who are then charged for having an abortion and wrongfully convicted of homicide.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Guadalupe’s release should be celebrated as a victory and symbol of hope for women who have suffered under El Salvador’s unjust laws, but instead it marks a day justice is being denied to the rest of these wrongfully imprisoned women.

“Seeking critical health care in a medical emergency is not a crime, and no woman should have to fear imprisonment for doing so.

“El Salvador’s severe anti-abortion laws are a gross violation of the human rights of Las 17 and women across the country. We stand with our global and local partners to demand the release of all women wrongfully imprisoned under these laws, and long-overdue reform for all Salvadoran women living under their government’s cloud of fear, suspicion, and abuse.”

In December, a coalition of NGOs led by Agrupación Ciudadana and the Center for Reproductive Rights, launched the “Las17” online campaign calling for the release of “Guadalupe” and 16 other Salvadoran women who all suffered obstetric emergencies, were charged for having an abortion and were later convicted of homicide. “Mirna,” one of “Las 17” was released in December after serving her prison sentence before her pardon could be finalized. The remaining 15 women are each currently serving 30-40 year sentences.

In November, 12 countries denounced the criminalization of abortion in El Salvador as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the United Nations Human Rights Council. In January, a group of United Nations human rights experts called on El Salvador to review its draconian abortion law and pardon all women jailed for obstetric emergencies.

“The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to shed light on the human rights violations faced by women in El Salvador, and we will not rest until the government reforms its laws to respect, protect, and fulfill women’s rights to life and health,” said Mónica Arango, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has worked for more than 12 years to expose the consequences that the blanket abortion ban in El Salvador has on the lives of women. Recently, the Center and the Agrupación Ciudadana co-authored the reportMarginalized, Persecuted and Imprisoned: The Effects of El Salvador’s Total Criminalization of Abortion that documents the human rights consequences of the abortion ban, and includes the personal stories of five women who were unfairly prosecuted for illegal abortion after suffering obstetric emergencies without receiving medical attention. The report analyzes how El Salvador’s health, judicial and prison systems fail to guarantee women’s human rights.

12 Countries Call on El Salvador to Decriminalize Abortion Marginalized, Persecuted, and Imprisoned: The Effects of El Salvador’s Total Criminalization of Abortion

El Salvador Releases One Woman Wrongfully Imprisoned, But Refuses to Pardon 15 Others

Center for Reproductive Rights - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 23:00
El Salvador Releases One Woman Wrongfully Imprisoned, But Refuses to Pardon 15 Others

02.19.15 - (PRESS RELEASE) On the same day local advocates celebrate the official release of “Guadalupe”—a rape survivor who became pregnant, suffered an obstetric emergency, was charged for having an abortion and later wrongfully imprisoned for homicide—anonymous sources have confirmed that El Salvador will refuse to issue any additional pardons of other similarly imprisoned women, according to Agrupación Ciudadana.

Last month, the Congress approved “Guadalupe’s” pardon by 43 votes, after both the Human Rights Congressional Committee and Supreme Court Committee submitted their recommendation for her release. The remaining women, part of a group called “Las 17,” are each currently serving 30-40 year sentences.

For more than 16 years, El Salvador has criminalized abortion in all circumstances--even when necessary to save a woman’s life—imposing harsh criminal penalties on both women and physicians. The ban has resulted in the wrongful imprisonment of countless women who have suffered pregnancy-related complications and miscarriages, who are then charged for having an abortion and wrongfully convicted of homicide.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Guadalupe’s release should be celebrated as a victory and symbol of hope for women who have suffered under El Salvador’s unjust laws, but instead it marks a day justice is being denied to the rest of these wrongfully imprisoned women.

“Seeking critical health care in a medical emergency is not a crime, and no woman should have to fear imprisonment for doing so.

“El Salvador’s severe anti-abortion laws are a gross violation of the human rights of Las 17 and women across the country. We stand with our global and local partners to demand the release of all women wrongfully imprisoned under these laws, and long-overdue reform for all Salvadoran women living under their government’s cloud of fear, suspicion, and abuse.”

In December, a coalition of NGOs led by Agrupación Ciudadana and the Center for Reproductive Rights, launched the “Las17” online campaign calling for the release of “Guadalupe” and 16 other Salvadoran women who all suffered obstetric emergencies, were charged for having an abortion and were later convicted of homicide. “Mirna,” one of “Las 17” was released in December after serving her prison sentence before her pardon could be finalized. The remaining 15 women are each currently serving 30-40 year sentences.

In November, 12 countries denounced the criminalization of abortion in El Salvador as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the United Nations Human Rights Council. In January, a group of United Nations human rights experts called on El Salvador to review its draconian abortion law and pardon all women jailed for obstetric emergencies.

“The Center for Reproductive Rights will continue to shed light on the human rights violations faced by women in El Salvador, and we will not rest until the government reforms its laws to respect, protect, and fulfill women’s rights to life and health,” said Mónica Arango, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has worked for more than 12 years to expose the consequences that the blanket abortion ban in El Salvador has on the lives of women. Recently, the Center and the Agrupación Ciudadana co-authored the reportMarginalized, Persecuted and Imprisoned: The Effects of El Salvador’s Total Criminalization of Abortion that documents the human rights consequences of the abortion ban, and includes the personal stories of five women who were unfairly prosecuted for illegal abortion after suffering obstetric emergencies without receiving medical attention. The report analyzes how El Salvador’s health, judicial and prison systems fail to guarantee women’s human rights.

12 Countries Call on El Salvador to Decriminalize Abortion Marginalized, Persecuted, and Imprisoned: The Effects of El Salvador’s Total Criminalization of Abortion

“The political legacy of black women’s contributions to the American freedom pro...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 19:00
“The political legacy of black women’s contributions to the American freedom project are present and powerful even when we cannot see them.”


Black, queer, feminist, erased from history: Meet the most important legal scholar you’ve likely...
www.salon.com
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is this Supreme Court's liberal hero, but her work sits on the shoulders of Dr. Pauli Murray

South Dakota Republican Introduces ‘Medically Inaccurate,’ ‘Inflammatory’ Anti-Abortion Bill

RH Reality Check - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 17:06

A South Dakota lawmaker has introduced a bill to restrict abortion services in the state by targeting second-trimester abortions, repackaging legislative language from a controversial bill introduced in 2014.

HB 1230, sponsored by Rep. Isaac Latterell (R-Tea), would make it illegal for any physician to “knowingly behead a living unborn child with the intent of endangering the life or health of the child.”

The anti-choice bill includes similarly graphic language that was included in HB 1241, a bill introduced last year by Latterell. HB 1230 replaces a ban on the “dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children” with a ban on “the beheading of certain living unborn children.”

Like its predecessor, HB 1230 targets dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedures, which may be used in a second-trimester abortion. The D and E procedure is often used when it is the safest means of preserving the life, health, and perhaps the fertility of the pregnant person.

Another change is language that the bill is not intended to target the “aspiration abortion procedure.” During the procedure used to remove a fetus prior to 13 weeks’ gestation, commonly referred to as suction aspiration, the fetus is often not removed fully intact.

HB 1241 did not include such language. As legal analysis by RH Reality Check has shown, the broad language in HB 1241 could have, in practice, banned all surgical abortions in the state.

Another change Latterell made to the bill was to reduce the criminal penalties that a physician could face for performing the procedure. HB 1230 reduces a violation of the proposed law from the Class B felony to a Class 1 felony. Instead of facing life imprisonment, physicians will face 50 years imprisonment.

Latterell has already had more success with HB 1230 than he had with HB 1241, which was tabled in committee. The state’s Health and Human Services committee voted 11 to 2 along party lines Tuesday to approve the bill.

During his testimony at the committee hearing, Latterell said that the bill was intended to address “a serious loophole in our current law.” Latterell said HB 1230’s language was narrowed to avoid a court challenge.

Latterell compared the use of the D and E procedure to revolting methods of execution such as beheading as used by “unconscionably violent soldiers” in the Middle East. “It’s unfortunate that in our state Planned Parenthood abortionists in Sioux Falls are similarly beheading unborn children during dismemberment abortions,” he said during the hearing.

However, no D and E procedures are performed in South Dakota. Planned Parenthood Sioux Falls, the only clinic that provides abortions in South Dakota, provides medication abortions up to nine weeks and surgical abortions up to 13 weeks’ gestation. The clinic does not provide surgical abortions in which a D and E is required.

The clinic has told RH Reality Check that all patients who need D and E services are referred to clinics in other states.

Technically, hospitals can perform such procedures in the state, though none of the hospitals in the state use D and E.

Latterell said during the hearing that most people do not know that the procedure occurs, “because Planned Parenthood Sioux Falls denies that they behead unborn children.” Latterell cited reporting by RH Reality Check as proof that Planned Parenthood has “no problem” with the procedure since they refer patients needing the procedure to abortion providers in other states.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jennifer Aulwes said the language is medically inaccurate and inflammatory, and that South Dakota’s sole abortion clinic does not perform abortions after 14 weeks’ gestation, according to reporting by KSFY.

“I’m just angry at what Planned Parenthood is doing…to us and to our children,” Latterell said.

The bill now awaits debate and vote by the full South Dakota house, in which Republicans hold a 58-12 advantage.

Image: Shutterstock

The post South Dakota Republican Introduces ‘Medically Inaccurate,’ ‘Inflammatory’ Anti-Abortion Bill appeared first on RH Reality Check.

“Would you ever ask a man that question?”

NARAL Pro-Choice America - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:30
“Would you ever ask a man that question?”


12 Amazing Women Who Had Perfect Responses to Sexist Questions
mic.com
That's how you drop the mic.

20-Week Bans, Ultrasound Requirement Introduced in Maryland

RH Reality Check - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 15:36

Two bills that would outlaw abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation have been introduced in Maryland this year, adding to the list of states attempting to pass such bans this legislative session.

Maryland is the latest state dominated by Democratic majorities to see a 20-week abortion ban proposed this year.

HB 492, introduced last week, would make abortion illegal after 20 weeks due to the stated belief that a fetus can feel pain starting at that time. The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which has been the ban of choice this legislative session, shares its name with similar bills introduced this year across the country, including in South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Oregon.

A “fetal pain” 20-week ban is also expected to be introduced in Ohio, where a prominent anti-choice organization has identified it as a priority this legislative session.

Bills of the same name passed last week in the GOP-controlled South Carolina and West Virginia houses.

A second abortion ban, SB 511, though not identical to HB 492, would also outlaw the procedure after 20 weeks.

The “Women’s Late-Term Pregnancy Health Act” was introduced in early February by state Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick), who writes in the bill that, in addition to evidence suggesting fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks, abortion becomes relatively less safe for the pregnant person after 20 weeks post-fertilization.

Therefore, Hough wrote, the procedure should be banned altogether after 20 weeks to protect the health of the pregnant person.

A study released in December showed that “major complications” after legal abortion care are extremely rare, and that overall, legal abortion care has a “very low complication rate.” A press release released alongside the study’s journal publication compared the safety of legal abortion care to that of colonoscopy.

The “fetal pain” argument used in both HB 492 and SB 511 rests on evidence that is disputed by experts in the medical community, including the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

In addition to the 20-week bans, anti-choice Maryland lawmakers also introduced a bill that would require physicians to show a pregnant person seeking an abortion an active image of the fetus or embryo through an ultrasound, if one is performed.

SB 158, introduced in January by state Sen. Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel), wouldn’t require that an ultrasound be performed, but it would require that when one is performed the pregnant person be given the opportunity to view the images.

Both chambers of the Maryland legislature are majority Democratic. Newly elected Gov. Larry Hogan is a Republican.

Image: Shutterstock

The post 20-Week Bans, Ultrasound Requirement Introduced in Maryland appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Trans Women Are Not Agents of the Patriarchy

RH Reality Check - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 14:14

It seems that every few months left-leaning media outlets come out with a new wave of “edgy” op-eds pitting trans people, often trans women specifically, as agents of the patriarchy intent on destroying feminism. Many of these articles can be dismissed as sadistic bullying by people with chips on their shoulders and too much time on their hands. Others, however—like Monica Potts’ recent piece in The New Republic, originally headlined “Trans Activism Is Threatening Women’s Colleges’ Missionstem from ignorance of trans issues rather than deeply seated prejudice. Even so, writers like Potts evidently do not see trans issues as an important part of their feminism, and that flaw makes their brand of feminism incredibly dangerous.

Few things sting like having someone you admire pen an article that insinuates your defense of your own existence is a threat to an institution that has long denied you entry, as Potts did. To feminists like Potts, trans (or, as she incorrectly put it, “transgendered”) people seem to be a single gender group whose self-actualization undermines anti-misogyny efforts, instead of the incredible diversity of men, women, and many others who fall between or outside of those categories. In addition, her assertion that trans activism is a threat to the historic “sisterhood” of women’s-only colleges seems, at first, all too similar to the bigoted justifications I have heard for rejecting trans women outright from spaces like the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. When I contacted Potts on Twitter, however, she explained that she was not against admitting trans women or men to women’s colleges; instead, she argued, a women’s college’s “sisterhood” could include “a whole bunch of [people],” and “I don’t think [you] have to [identify] as a woman to want to be part of the sisterhood, if that makes sense. Of course it [includes] transwomen.”

To give credit where it is due, it is nice to see someone explicitly support the idea that trans women should be considered part of the “sisterhood” of women’s institutions. But what is troubling to me are the implications of including men in that “sisterhood” as well—which, at the least, positions trans women as separate from cis women’s feminism, just as men are.

One of Potts’ main concerns is the push on women’s campuses to eradicate words like “sisterhood” from use. But this isn’t an example of trans activism, as Potts puts it, being “indistinguishable from old-school misogyny”; that’s just old-school misogyny disguised as trans activism. Trans activism fights to make a world that is better for trans people, and while trans men are an important part of that, the fight to make a place for themselves at women’s colleges has nothing to do with them being trans and everything to do with them being entitled men. Anti-trans activists may claim that womanhood is fundamentally a set of common experiences, but that is ridiculous: Women have incredibly varying lives, levels of privilege, and even expectations of gender performativity and identity. What we do have in common, however, is our oppression by the patriarchy—even the most powerful women cannot completely escape its exploitation. And therein comes one of the fundamental problems of trans men in women’s colleges. Many, especially those with access to resources, will move out of that positionality; studies show, for example, that transgender men actually benefit from increased wages. Unfortunately, because of her third-gendering of trans people, Potts sees trans men as trans first and men last—if she sees them as men at all.

And while she labels trans men’s behavior as trans activism, Potts holds trans women as being complicit in the misogynistic act of erasing women on campuses. In reality, though, we often face more aggressions in academia than our cis peers, if we’re allowed in the college at all. Contrary to Potts’ assertion that there are plenty of liberal college “safe spaces” for trans people, I can say that attending the progressive collegiate paradise of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, was a living hell for me as a transgender woman. I’ve been a feminist all my life, and yet both professors and students there told me that I didn’t understand feminism because I didn’t grow up a woman. I would be glared at every time I even walked into an LGBTQ space, let alone a women’s space. My own queer community would pressure me into not looking and acting the way I wanted to as some sort of sociological experiment (“Don’t shave your legs, it isn’t feminist. Don’t wear dresses, it isn’t feminist”). And then, after all that, I would still have beer bottles thrown at me by frat bros. I’d get attacked multiple times just trying to walk home. I’d get run off the road by a car while on bike in broad daylight. I’m not some outlier case, either. Health care, safe and gender-affirmative housing, and records are all withheld or made into a bureaucratic nightmare on college campuses, including women’s institutions.

But Potts’ ignorance of the perils trans women face on college campuses is just one part of her broader misunderstanding of just how much the misogyny we fight is similar to, or worse than, the kind she’s confronting. She points out that the Florida legislature battles women’s bodies by censoring the word “uterus,” but she fails to recognize that trans women’s bodies are so stigmatized in that state that soon they may be jailed for using public restrooms. As awful as the legacy of misogyny in public male-dominated institutions is, trans women often deal with hate and violence everywhere, including, again, women’s spaces. Our reproductive capacity and health is also denied and exploited. We have no representation in Congress, are four times more likely than other households to live in extreme poverty, and are in disproportionate danger of being abused or murdered—especially trans women of color. Yet many feminists still maintain that our inclusion in anything is objectively divisive.

Potts’ fallacy is the classic limitation of non-intersectional feminism, which assumes that because cisgender women are oppressed and exploited, everyone but cisgender women must be on the side of the oppressors and the exploiters. But the vast majority of issues that cisgender women have to deal with are similar to those trans women must overcome. Many anti-woman sentiments, such as reducing people to their sexual body parts, affect us too. There are exceptions on both sides, but we have far more ground for solidarity than for opposition. Unfortunately, the dominant strains of white, middle-class feminism have never been super flexible when it comes to being inclusive of problems outside their limited scopes. Instead, they will claim that it is trans women who aren’t inclusive of cis women’s struggles.

For example, Potts uses the instance of activists combating a production of the Vagina Monologues at Mount Holyoke College as an implication that trans women are anti-vagina. It is hard for me not to find this line of argument hilarious, considering many of the trans women I know are pretty desperate to get a vagina of our own. (Which, by the way, is another medically necessary procedure we are often denied or charged exorbitant amounts of money for.) But even trans women who are not trying to get a vagina are not trying to stop cis women from talking about whatever body parts they want. Just like a woman who has had a mastectomy should have the chance within feminist spaces to talk about not having breasts, just like a woman born without ovaries should have the chance to talk about motherhood, and just like intersex women should have the chance to talk about not having periods, trans women should have the chance to talk about our bodies. That does not deny cis women the opportunity to talk about theirs. Simply put, some feminist spaces, and the events and productions that occur in them, do not allow that—and that is a huge problem.

While feminists like Potts may not indulge in the absurdist shallow hate of TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) like Cathy Brennan, they do seem to hold in common the belief that the truly important issues are the ones that affect the most people. They frequently prioritize topics like sexual violence and abortion rights, and suggest that any other matters of reproductive justice are distractions or derailments. It should not be overlooked, though, that these overwhelmingly white, cis, middle-class, urban individuals are less likely to be affected by problems of access, need, safety, and stigma than many other people in the United States. Still, they continue to try to obscure those differences under a broad umbrella—because to do otherwise might endanger their chance of continuing to hold the majority of the power within the mainstream feminist movement. Or, if the differences are as apparently difficult to appropriate as trans women’s issues are, these feminists instead classify them as irrelevant or a menace.

Unity, solidarity, and broad movements for social equality and liberation are based in celebrating, challenging, and recognizing our differences. I am glad that Monica Potts was at least willing to hear out my concerns on Twitter, but if she really wants, as she put it in her piece, “a fight [against patriarchy] that should be waged alongside … the one for LGBT rights,” then she and other cisgender feminists need to at a bare minimum allow us into their spaces. Not as part of a new non-sisterly sisterhood where we’re classified as belonging with trans men as allies rather than fellow feminist leaders, and not as tokens to show how hip they are with modern feminism, but as fellow women. I kid you not: It is actually that simple.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Trans Women Are Not Agents of the Patriarchy appeared first on RH Reality Check.

“We are so much more than beautiful, tragic stories.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 14:00
“We are so much more than beautiful, tragic stories.”


Why is bearing children seen as more important than surviving pregnancy?
www.theguardian.com
I am scared for women who have been taught to believe that the most important, beautiful thing they can do is perish for their children

This bill could ban abortion before many women know they’re pregnant.

NARAL Pro-Choice America - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:45
This bill could ban abortion before many women know they’re pregnant.


Anti-abortion 'Heartbeat bill' reintroduced in Ohio
www.cleveland.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Lawmakers in the Ohio House are once again seeking to make Ohio's abortion laws among the strictest in the nation.

Restrictions on Medicaid Abortion Coverage at Center of Alaska Trial

RH Reality Check - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:51

A trial is underway in Alaska to determine if administrative attempts to drastically cut off abortion access for low-income people in the state violates the Alaska Constitution.

At issue is a 2013 regulation that advocates claim seeks to circumvent a 2001 decision by the Alaska Supreme Court ordering the state Medicaid program to cover all abortions determined by a physician to be medically necessary. That decision said the state’s Medicaid program must cover “those abortions … necessary … to ameliorate a condition harmful to the women’s physical or psychological health, as determined by the treating physician performing the abortions services in his or her professional judgment.”

But under the 2013 regulation at issue in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit, for an abortion to be covered by Medicaid the physician performing the procedure must certify that an abortion is “medically necessary to avoid a threat of serious risk to the physical health of the woman from continuation of her pregnancy due to the impairment of a major bodily function.”

The physician must then check a box to explain the condition the woman has that meets this standard by choosing from a list of 21 identified conditions, or indicating that she either has “another physical disorder, physical injury, physical illness, including a physical condition arising from the pregnancy” or “a psychiatric disorder that places the woman in imminent danger of medical impairment of a major bodily function if an abortion is not performed.”

Even if a patient qualifies under the 2013 definition of “medically necessary,” Medicaid is not guaranteed to cover the procedure.

Even with one of those identified conditions, Medicaid will only cover the cost of an abortion if a doctor attests that the abortion is “medically necessary to avoid a threat of serious risk to the physical health of the woman from continuation of her pregnancy due to the impairment of a major bodily function.”

No other provider in Alaska is required to submit a similar certificate.

Advocates argued in a lawsuit filed in January 2014 on behalf of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest that this new rule unconstitutionally precludes all but the most severely ill women from qualifying for coverage they are otherwise guaranteed.

Judge John Suddock in February 2014 blocked the regulation from taking effect and ordered a trial on Planned Parenthood’s claims.

Suddock is overseeing the trial, which is expected to last until next week.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Restrictions on Medicaid Abortion Coverage at Center of Alaska Trial appeared first on RH Reality Check.

“That’s not dialogue. It’s not debate. It’s not free speech. It’s bullying and i...

NARAL Pro-Choice America - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:32
“That’s not dialogue. It’s not debate. It’s not free speech. It’s bullying and intimidation. It’s a horror show.”


Anti-choicers: Stop bullying women with bloody photos
www.salon.com
An "awareness project" reveals the dirty tactics of reproductive rights foes

Ohio Bill Would Effectively Ban Abortion as Early as Six Weeks

RH Reality Check - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 09:41

Fifty Ohio legislators on Tuesday sponsored a so-called fetal heartbeat abortion ban, the third of its kind to be introduced in the state house in recent years.

HB 69, proposed by House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville), would outlaw abortion after a heartbeat can be detected in the fetus. That can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, a time before many people are aware they’re pregnant.

Violating the law would be a fifth-degree felony for the physician, and could result in up to a year in prison and a fine of $2,500.

The proposed legislation includes an exception to allow abortions when needed to protect the health of the pregnant person. The bill also would create a legislative committee to promote adoption in such cases.

“Fetal heartbeat” bans are considered so untenable that even most anti-choice groups don’t support them. Ohio Right to Life, the state’s most powerful anti-choice group, was not in favor of the previous version of HB 69, which has been introduced twice in the Ohio house.

“Politicians do not know or understand a woman’s specific situation,” Stephanie Kight, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, said in a statement. “They shouldn’t be allowed to make personal decisions on her behalf. Women, their families and physicians should be trusted and respected to make the health care decision that is best for their family.”

“HB 69 is bad law and bad medicine, and is unconstitutional and unnecessary,” Kight added. “We need our legislators to work toward expanding access to health care instead of restricting it.”

Similar bans have led to lengthy court challenges in other states, including Arkansas and North Dakota.

Meanwhile, Ohio Right to Life this year has said it will focus on other restrictions on abortion, including a 20-week ban, and a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Republicans control both chambers of the Ohio legislature by wide margins.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Ohio Bill Would Effectively Ban Abortion as Early as Six Weeks appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Mississippi Asks Supreme Court to Review State’s Clinic Shutdown Law

Center for Reproductive Rights - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 23:00
Mississippi Asks Supreme Court to Review State’s Clinic Shutdown Law Law blocked by appellate court threatens to shutter last clinic in the state, abortion access in region already devastated by similar restrictions

02.18.15 - (PRESS RELEASE) Mississippi has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocking a law designed to close the last remaining abortion clinic in the state.

Today’s filing follows the U.S. Fifth Circuit’s decision to uphold a lower court’s decision to block the law—which forces a physician performing abortions at a clinic to have admitting privileges at a local hospital—from taking effect pending the outcome of the case

Admitting privileges requirements—which are designed by anti-choice politicians as an underhanded way to shutter high-quality clinics and severely limit abortion services—have already devastated abortion access across the South.  Numerous clinics have already been forced to close due to the clinic shutdown law in Texas, and abortion providers in LouisianaOklahoma, and Alabama are hanging on by the thread of a court order.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“There is no reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to step into this case.

“This law is an underhanded attempt by anti-choice politicians to close the state’s only abortion clinic. Mississippi cannot make a run-around the constitutional guarantees of Roe v. Wade with a sham health and safety law.

"The Court should decline to review the sound determination that Mississippi women would be irreparably harmed if the state were allowed to close its last clinic.”

Although all the doctors currently providing abortions to women at the Mississippi clinic are board-certified ob-gyns, the physicians responsible for providing abortions to the vast majority of the clinic’s patients have been unable to obtain privileges at any hospital in the area—in fact, no hospital would even process the physicians’ applications, with several hospitals citing their policies on abortion care.

Medical experts confirm that legal abortion care in the U.S. is extremely safe, with less than a quarter of 1 percent of patients experiencing a major complication.  Furthermore, privileges can be impossible to obtain due to individual hospital policies or biases toward abortion providers for reasons not related to the doctors’ qualifications.

Major medical groups oppose laws like Mississippi’s that require hospital admitting privileges for physicians providing abortion services. In an amicus brief filed in the challenge to Texas’ admitting privileges requirement, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) write that the law “jeopardizes women’s health in Texas,” doing “nothing to protect the health of women.”

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization has served women and families in Mississippi for nearly 20 years, and has been the sole reproductive health care provider offering abortion in the state since 2002. The next nearest clinics for Mississippi residents are approximately three hours away, with most neighboring states requiring a mandatory 24-hour waiting period.

The Center filed the suit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization & Willie Parker, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc. v. Mary Currier, M.D., M.P.H. & Robert Shuler Smith, with Julie Rikelman as lead counsel, along with co-counsel Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Robert B. McDuff in Jackson, Mississippi.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217/HR. 448)—a bill that would prohibit states like Mississippi from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.​

Case History

Following the lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and Dr. Willie Parker, a federal district court partially blocked the law in July 2012 andlater fully blocked it in April 2013—barring the state from imposing criminal and civil penalties on the clinic doctors and on staff pending the outcome of the litigation.  A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit heardarguments on the district court’s preliminary injunction in April 2014 and upheld the injunction blocking the law in July 2014.  In November 2014 the Fifth Circuit refused to reconsider its decision to continue to block the law—allowing the clinic to stay open—while the case proceeds. 

Fifth Circuit Considers Mississippi Law Designed to Shutter Last Clinic in the State Federal Judge Blocks All Enforcement of Mississippi Admitting Privileges Requirement Full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses to Rehear Mississippi Law Designed to Close Last Abortion Clinic Texas Clinics Closed by Fifth Circuit Can Reopen in Light of Supreme Court Ruling Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of Louisiana Law Threatening Women’s Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Oklahoma Supreme Court Blocks Two Unconstitutional Measures Designed to Severely Restrict Access to Abortion

Mississippi Asks Supreme Court to Review State’s Clinic Shutdown Law

Center for Reproductive Rights - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 23:00
Mississippi Asks Supreme Court to Review State’s Clinic Shutdown Law Law blocked by appellate court threatens to shutter last clinic in the state, abortion access in region already devastated by similar restrictions

02.18.15 - (PRESS RELEASE) Mississippi has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocking a law designed to close the last remaining abortion clinic in the state.

Today’s filing follows the U.S. Fifth Circuit’s decision to uphold a lower court’s decision to block the law—which forces a physician performing abortions at a clinic to have admitting privileges at a local hospital—from taking effect pending the outcome of the case

Admitting privileges requirements—which are designed by anti-choice politicians as an underhanded way to shutter high-quality clinics and severely limit abortion services—have already devastated abortion access across the South.  Numerous clinics have already been forced to close due to the clinic shutdown law in Texas, and abortion providers in LouisianaOklahoma, and Alabama are hanging on by the thread of a court order.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“There is no reason for the U.S. Supreme Court to step into this case.

“This law is an underhanded attempt by anti-choice politicians to close the state’s only abortion clinic. Mississippi cannot make a run-around the constitutional guarantees of Roe v. Wade with a sham health and safety law.

"The Court should decline to review the sound determination that Mississippi women would be irreparably harmed if the state were allowed to close its last clinic.”

Although all the doctors currently providing abortions to women at the Mississippi clinic are board-certified ob-gyns, the physicians responsible for providing abortions to the vast majority of the clinic’s patients have been unable to obtain privileges at any hospital in the area—in fact, no hospital would even process the physicians’ applications, with several hospitals citing their policies on abortion care.

Medical experts confirm that legal abortion care in the U.S. is extremely safe, with less than a quarter of 1 percent of patients experiencing a major complication.  Furthermore, privileges can be impossible to obtain due to individual hospital policies or biases toward abortion providers for reasons not related to the doctors’ qualifications.

Major medical groups oppose laws like Mississippi’s that require hospital admitting privileges for physicians providing abortion services. In an amicus brief filed in the challenge to Texas’ admitting privileges requirement, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) write that the law “jeopardizes women’s health in Texas,” doing “nothing to protect the health of women.”

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization has served women and families in Mississippi for nearly 20 years, and has been the sole reproductive health care provider offering abortion in the state since 2002. The next nearest clinics for Mississippi residents are approximately three hours away, with most neighboring states requiring a mandatory 24-hour waiting period.

The Center filed the suit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization & Willie Parker, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc. v. Mary Currier, M.D., M.P.H. & Robert Shuler Smith, with Julie Rikelman as lead counsel, along with co-counsel Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Robert B. McDuff in Jackson, Mississippi.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 217/HR. 448)—a bill that would prohibit states like Mississippi from imposing unconstitutional restrictions on reproductive health care providers that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with women’s personal decision making, and block access to safe and legal abortion services.​

Case History

Following the lawsuit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and Dr. Willie Parker, a federal district court partially blocked the law in July 2012 andlater fully blocked it in April 2013—barring the state from imposing criminal and civil penalties on the clinic doctors and on staff pending the outcome of the litigation.  A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit heardarguments on the district court’s preliminary injunction in April 2014 and upheld the injunction blocking the law in July 2014.  In November 2014 the Fifth Circuit refused to reconsider its decision to continue to block the law—allowing the clinic to stay open—while the case proceeds. 

Fifth Circuit Considers Mississippi Law Designed to Shutter Last Clinic in the State Federal Judge Blocks All Enforcement of Mississippi Admitting Privileges Requirement Full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses to Rehear Mississippi Law Designed to Close Last Abortion Clinic Texas Clinics Closed by Fifth Circuit Can Reopen in Light of Supreme Court Ruling Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of Louisiana Law Threatening Women’s Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Oklahoma Supreme Court Blocks Two Unconstitutional Measures Designed to Severely Restrict Access to Abortion

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