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A Map of Progress

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 12:30
A Map of Progress Worldwide, abortion laws have been liberalizing over the last 20 years. And the momentum is only accelerating.

09.18.14 - In a country like the United States, where attacks on a woman’s right to abortion are frequent, it sometimes seems that reproductive rights are everywhere under siege. Extremist politicians across the U.S. have been increasingly introducing regulations that impose medically unnecessary and expensive requirements upon abortion clinics—all with the aim of shutting them down entirely.

But legal trends worldwide tell a different story.

A new report and interactive map from the Center for Reproductive Rights offer good news for supporters of reproductive rights: Worldwide, abortion laws have been liberalizing over the last 20 years. And that progress is accelerating.

Today, in 74 countries—that’s 60 percent of the world’s population—women can access abortion services without restriction as to reason, or on broad grounds such as socioeconomic concerns. Since 1994, thanks to the tireless efforts of reproductive rights advocates, 35 countries—from South Africa to Uruguay to Nepal—have expanded the grounds on which women can legally access abortion services.

“We have seen countries that once threw women and doctors in jail for obtaining and performing abortions reverse themselves entirely,” says Center president and CEO Nancy Northup. “Today, they recognize abortion as a fundamental right that their governments must protect and guarantee.”


The successes of the last 20 years may be traced back to the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, where delegates from 179 countries formally recognized for the first time that reproductive rights are human rights. The resulting Programme of Action has enabled advocates worldwide to address unsafe abortion and promote abortion access as a human rights imperative.

Roughly 25 percent of the world’s population live in countries where abortion is prohibited altogether or only permitted where pregnancy poses a risk to the woman’s life. Fourteen percent reside in countries that permit abortion to preserve a woman’s health.

Countries that ban and criminalize abortion must take steps to remove these restrictions—women’s lives and health are at stake. As the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes, restrictive laws don’t reduce the number of women seeking abortion services. Rather, they drive women to risk their lives and health by undergoing clandestine, unsafe procedures. Nearly 50,000 women die from complications of unsafe abortions every year.

Of course, having more liberal laws on the books is not always the same thing as having access to abortion services. Obstacles to access can include cost or procedural barriers such as mandatory waiting periods, third-party consent and notification requirements, and limits on the range of options (such as restrictions on medical abortion). It’s critical that governments ensure that abortion services are accessible to all women.

The significance of the World’s Abortion Laws map, and the accompanying report Twenty Years of Reform, goes beyond documenting which governments respect a woman’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive life. “The legal status of abortion is a measure of women’s equality,” says Johanna B. Fine, deputy director of the Global Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It’s a key indicator of how a society treats women.”

Despite this progress, much remains to be done, particularly, as the map indicates, in the Global South. The strictest abortion laws are generally found in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean—with some notable exceptions including Uruguay, South Africa, and Zambia. This is where activists will increasingly be turning their energies in the coming years.

 

Visit the interactive World’s Abortion Laws map website, which also includes the full text of abortion laws and compares the legal status of abortion in countries across the globe.

 

The World's Abortion Laws Map Abortion Worldwide: 20 Years of Reform

New Report: Global Trend of Expanding Legal Abortion Services Continues

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 23:00
New Report: Global Trend of Expanding Legal Abortion Services Continues

09.18.14 - (PRESS RELEASE) More than 30 countries have amended their laws to expand access to safe and legal abortion services in the last 20 years—a trend that has marked incredible progress to improving women’s rights and lives, including significantly reduced rates of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion—according to a new report released today by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Abortion Worldwide: 20 Years of Reform documents a clear global trend to expand access to safe and legal abortion services since the adoption of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action—an agreement made by 179 governments worldwide in 1994 to affirm reproductive rights as human rights and strengthen their commitment to women’s health and well-being by addressing unsafe abortion. Today’s report was released alongside the Center’s updated World’s Abortion Laws map—one of the most comprehensive resources on abortion laws across the globe.

Despite this trend, a handful of countries, including El Salvador and Japan, have taken steps to legally restrict abortion. The report also takes note of other burdensome restrictions on women’s access to abortion in countries like the United States—where abortion services are legal and constitutionally-protected, but more than 200 laws impeding women’s access to abortion have been enacted since 2011. 

Restrictive abortion laws across the globe result in 22 million unsafe abortions annually—killing nearly 50,000 women each year.

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

“Globally, the trend over the past two decades has been toward reducing restrictions on abortion and expanding woman’s access to safe, legal reproductive health care. But thousands of women are still dying from unsafe abortion each year—most in countries with harsh restrictions, or even outright bans, on legal abortion services.  

“Until access to the full range of reproductive health care is unequivocally supported by governments worldwide—including access to safe, legal abortion—women will not be able to participate in society with the fullest measure of equality, dignity, and autonomy.

“We call on the international community to join us in the fight to eliminate these restrictive abortion laws and ensure that access to safe and legal reproductive health care services is treated as every woman’s fundamental human right.”    

Abortion Worldwide: 20 Years of Reform provides an overview of international and regional human rights standards on abortion and identifies trends in abortion law reform within each of the world’s regions since 1994.

The ICPD Programme of Action has provided the framework for advocates worldwide to address unsafe abortion and promote abortion access as a human rights imperative. Since its adoption, 35 countries have expanded the grounds for legal abortion—evidence of the progress and uphill battle to secure recognition of women’s reproductive rights as human rights.  

In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the ICPD Programme of Action, the Center also updated its World’s Abortion Laws map that visually compares the legal status of abortion across the globe.

Key highlights from the report include:

  • Africa: Thirteen countries, including South Africa, Kenya, and Rwanda, have eased legal restrictions on abortion, and no countries have tightened restrictions for legal abortion since 1994.
  • Asia: Seven countries, including Cambodia, Nepal, and Indonesia, have liberalized their abortion laws. Only Japan has imposed legal restrictions on abortion since 1994.
  • Europe: While the majority of countries in the region already permitted abortion on broad grounds, in 1994 5 countries, including Spain and Luxembourg, further liberalized their laws to permit abortion without restriction as to reason.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: Six countries have expanded the grounds under which abortion is legal, including Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Uruguay. However, flouting the liberalizing trend, both El Salvador and Nicaragua amended their penal codes to ban abortion under all circumstances in 1998 and 2006 respectively. 
Abortion Worldwide: 20 Years of Reform

CRR on ABC’s This Week

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:55
CRR on ABC’s This Week

09.11.14 - Center for Reproductive Rights staff attorney, David Brown, appeared on ABC’s This Week in a feisty segment discussing the recent ruling out of Texas in which a federal judge deemed unconstitutional the new restrictions imposed by HB2. The Honorable Lee Yeakel stated in his decision that “the overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle” to women seeking abortions.   

Brown, who is part of the legal team challenging the Texas legislation, expressed confidence that the judge’s ruling will be upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, if and when they hear this case.

“We know that for the past 42 years the federal courts have consistently reaffirmed the rule laid down in Roe v. Wade that abortion is a fundamental right of women to choose,” he remarked.

Host Martha Raddatz spoke to both Brown and National Right to Life Committee President Carol Tobias. Tobias was dismissive of the federal judge’s assertion that the new restrictions—which would shutter the vast majority of Texas’s abortion clinics—place an undue burden on women in need of abortion services.

“It’s actually an undue burden . . . on the abortion facilities,” claimed Tobias.

The new restrictions require abortion clinics to meet hospital-level building and equipment standards. Anti-abortion groups claim that these new measures are intended to protect women, but as Raddatz pointed out in the news segment, both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology say that these standards are not needed for safety.

In his commentary, Brown affirmed that “the goal of this legislation is to shutter these clinics,” pointing out that the legislative director of Tobias’s own organization admitted several months ago that abortion is one of medicine’s safest procedures.

A rattled Tobias did acknowledge that the restrictions are not just about safety; they are also aimed at restricting access to abortion.

 

Federal Court Protects Texas Women from Further Loss of Abortion Access Texas Continues to Fight Back: Center for Reproductive Rights To File Second Lawsuit Against HB2’s Devastating Abortion Restrictions

Missouri Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto, Triples Waiting Period for Women Seeking Safe and Legal Abortion Services

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 09:21
Missouri Legislature Overrides Governor’s Veto, Triples Waiting Period for Women Seeking Safe, Legal Abortion Services Missouri joins Utah and South Dakota to become third state to force women to delay constitutionally protected health care for 72 hours

09.11.14 - The Missouri Legislature voted late last night to triple the state’s mandatory waiting period for women seeking abortion services from 24 to 72 hours, overriding Governor Jay Nixon’s July 2014 veto of the measure.  Missouri is one of the five states in the country with only one reproductive health care clinic that provides abortion care.

In his veto, Governor Nixon called HB 1307—which has no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest—an "extreme and disrespectful measure [which] would unnecessarily prolong the suffering of rape and incest victims and jeopardize the health and wellbeing of women."

Twenty six states currently force a woman to endure a waiting period before accessing safe and legal abortion services. With this measure, Missouri joins Utah and South Dakota to become the third state with a 72-hour waiting period—the longest in the nation.

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

"The only purpose of a 72-hour waiting period is to attempt to punish, shame, and demean women who have arrived at a personal decision that politicians happen to disagree with.

"Every pregnant women faces her own unique circumstances, challenges, and potential complications, and the right to decide whether to continue or end a pregnancy is guaranteed by the Constitution to her, not politicians who presume to know better.

"The real shame of this law lies with the lawmakers who went to extraordinary lengths to add this latest insulting barrier to the many they have already placed between women and essential, constitutionally protected reproductive health care."

Waiting periods can create a variety of burdens on a woman needing to access abortion—from increasing shame to requiring additional trips to the clinic, which means additional travel time, costs, child care, and time off work. Additionally, extending the waiting period can lead a woman to delay the abortion to later into the pregnancy, which can increase the risks of the otherwise extremely safe procedure.

Missouri women already face steep obstacles to their constitutional right to safe and legal abortion services, including the fact that only one abortion provider remains in the state. Missouri women are also subject to biased counselling laws, restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion services, and restrictions on telemedicine for medication abortion.

Philippine Department of Justice Fails to Include Grounds for Abortion in Draft Criminal Code

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 23:00
Philippine Department of Justice Fails to Include Grounds for Abortion in Draft Criminal Code

09.10.14 - (PRESS RELEASE) More than 50 representatives from human rights organizations, academia, and other civil society groups in the Philippines and abroad, have expressed frustration to Honorable Leila M. de Lima, Secretary at the Department of Justice, about the serious and widespread human rights violations against women resulting from the Philippines’ harsh criminal ban on abortion and the missed opportunity to address it in revisions to the country’s criminal code.

In a joint letter to Honorable Lima, activists and leading advocacy groups voiced their concern over the Department of Justice’s removal of proposed grounds for abortions in a public draft of the criminal code sent to Congress. The Committee, spearheaded by the Philippine Department of Justice, publicized the draft on August 19 which failed to include provisions on justified abortions that were in an earlier version of the proposed code.

The Philippines is one of only 29 countries in the world to completely ban abortion without clear legal exceptions. The criminalization of abortion in the Philippines contributes to the longstanding public health crisis of thousands of preventable maternal deaths each year and one of the highest rates of unsafe abortion in the world. Women who seek medical assistance for complications from unsafe abortion are routinely mistreated and denied proper care. Inclusion of grounds for abortion in the draft code could have given Congress an opportunity to discuss abortion law reform. The criminal code will be debated in Congress this year.

“Hundreds of women are hospitalized every day for complications from unsafe abortion, yet the government continues to turn a blind eye to the dire need for safe and legal abortion services,” said Melissa Upreti, regional director for Asia at the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “Criminalizing abortion puts women’s health and lives at grave risk, and subjects them to further abuse when seeking medical care. The Department of Justice has missed an opportunity to put an end to the human rights violations women are forced to suffer because of the country’s blanket abortion ban.”

The Philippine government’s extreme anti-reproductive health care policies criminalizing abortion and restricting access to modern contraception has contributed to the more than 1,500 women undergoing unsafe abortions every day, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The criminalization of abortion in the country has done nothing to decrease preventable maternal deaths, in fact more women are dying. From 2006-2010, the maternal mortality ratio jumped from 162 to 221 deaths per 100,000 live births. The Department of Justice had an historic opportunity to propose grounds for abortion, but by eliminating them from the draft code have precluded the possibility for a Congressional debate on the need for abortion law reform.   

In March 2014, the Philippine Supreme Court upheld the country’s historic Reproductive Health Law that guarantees universal and free access to modern contraceptives for women. The law also mandates reproductive health education in government schools and recognizes a woman's right to post-abortion care as part of the right to reproductive healthcare.

While finally making progress on modern contraception, the Philippine government has regressed on abortion—failing to propose legal exceptions and more explicitly making attempted abortion a crime. This piecemeal approach will not result in improvements to women’s reproductive health and well-being in the long-term,” added Upreti. 

The Center for Reproductive Rights has built a significant presence throughout Asia, with major campaigns addressing issues ranging from maternal mortality in India to access to modern contraception in the Philippines. In the report Forsaken Lives, the Center has documented the impact of the criminal abortion ban in the Philippines and how unintended pregnancies have affected women’s lives.

File Upload:  de-lima-sign-on-letter-re-justified-abortion-provisions.pdf Forsaken Lives: Download Report

Leading Health and Human Rights Organizations Call for End to Unnecessary Restrictions that Harm Women’s Health Worldwide

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 23:00
Leading Health & Human Rights Organizations Call for End to Unnecessary Restrictions that Harm Women’s Health Worldwide Diverse Coalition of 80 Groups Calls on the Obama Administration to Allow U.S. Foreign Assistance for Safe Abortion Services

09.08.14 - (PRESS RELEASE) In a letter to President Obama, a broad-based coalition of leading domestic and global organizations spanning women’s rights, health, human rights, reproductive justice, young people, the LGBT community, faith, and development are calling for an end to the incorrect implementation of the Helms Amendment in order to save women’s lives and protect their well-being.

The Helms Amendment prohibits the use of U.S. foreign assistance funds “to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning.” For more than 40 years, the law has been incorrectly implemented as a complete ban on all abortion-related services. The letter urges swift action to allow support for abortion care for women who have been raped, who are victims of incest, or who face a life-endangering pregnancy in countries where those services are legally available.

“Women already face enormous obstacles to care,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “In reinterpreting the Helms Amendment, the Obama administration has an unprecedented opportunity to help women in desperate need around the world. President Obama must continue to be a champion for women’s health by providing clear guidance for U.S. foreign assistance programs that serve the poorest women, including refugees and others in vulnerable circumstances.”

“Women in developing countries should no longer be condemned to suffer or die because of this harmful policy and the way it has been applied – preventing health providers from serving the needs of their patients and leaving many women with no options for safe care,” added Elizabeth Maguire, president and CEO of Ipas, an international reproductive rights organization that helped mobilize support for the letter.

The current policy of the United States compounds the trauma of women who have been raped or face life-threatening pregnancies by unnecessarily denying them assistance in obtaining essential and potentially lifesaving care,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “President Obama has shown leadership previously in defending women’s rights and we hope he continues to do so by fixing the United States’ faulty and harmful implementation of the Helms Amendment.”

The letter provides further background on the groups’ concerns, stating that women around the world face high rates of gender-based violence, limited access to trained health care providers, and financial and geographic barriers to access comprehensive reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion. Every year, an estimated 287,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth – 13% of those deaths are the result of unsafe abortion. Close to half of those who die from unsafe abortion are younger than the age of 25. While no single policy can address the broad challenges that affect women in developing countries each day, the administration can take an important step by correcting its implementation of the Helms Amendment.

File Upload:  Helms Amendment Coalition Letter

2015 Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 17:48
2015 Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

09.04.14 - Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ) and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) invite submissions for the tenth annual Sarah Weddington Writing Prize.

The 1st place winning submission will have a presumption of publishability and will receive expedited review by New York University School of Law’s Review of Law and Social Change. Winning authors will also receive cash prizes: $750 (1st place), $500 (2nd place), or $250 (3rd place).

LSRJ & CRR seek student scholarship exploring reproductive rights and justice issues in the United States. This year’s Writing Prize will not have a specific theme; instead, we encourage students to think expansively about reproductive rights and justice (RR/RJ) and to analyze issues using an intersectional lens – considering the impact of factors such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and immigration status.

Papers may explore a range of RR/RJ issues, for example:

  • Abortion coverage for low-income women
  • Affordable Care Act implementation
  • Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
  • Birthing options
  • Immigration reform and RR/RJ
  • LGBTQ community and RR/RJ
  • Policing of pregnant women
  • Rape culture and its impact on RR/RJ
  • Sex education or lack thereof
  • Trends in recent anti-abortion regulations

Papers should have a domestic focus, but may draw on international and comparative materials. Authors are asked to apply a reproductive justice and/or human rights framework to their analyses of the issues. We encourage writing that amplifies lesser heard voices, applies an intersectional approach to legal thinking, suggests innovative solutions, and/or takes into account the practical realities and the lived experiences of the people affected.

Papers must be at least 20 pages in length (not including footnotes), double-spaced in 12-point font with footnotes in 10-point font, conforming to Bluebook citation format. Only original scholarship by current law students or 2014 graduates will be accepted. Papers being considered for publication elsewhere are ineligible for the first place prize but will be considered for second and third place. Papers already contracted for publication as of January 2015 will not be accepted. Winners will be selected by an outside panel of legal advocates and academic judges.

Send your submission (in Word format as an email attachment) to submissions@lsrj.org by 5:00pm PST on Thursday, January 15, 2015.

To learn more about reproductive rights and justice, please see the websites for LSRJ and CRR. In particular, these pages may be of interest:

Questions? Email Mariko Miki, Director of Academic & Professional Programs, at mariko@lsrj.org.

©2014 Law Students for Reproductive Justice CRR Announces New Columbia Law Fellow Apply for the 2015-2017 Center for Reproductive Rights - Columbia Law School Fellowship Family Law: International & Comparative Law Supplement on Reproductive Rights

Activistas relatan la situación de los derechos de las mujeres en la República Dominicana

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 11:18
Activistas relatan la situación de los derechos de las mujeres en la República Dominicana Republica-Dominicana-feature-thumb-Daniela.jpg

02.09.14 - Activistas en materia de salud reproductiva y derechos humanos testificaron el 24 de marzo de 2014 en Washington D.C. respecto de derechos de las mujeres, incluyendo la discriminación, la violencia y las violaciones a los derechos reproductivos en la República Dominicana.

Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of Louisiana Law Threatening Women’s Access to Safe and Legal Abortion

Sat, 08/30/2014 - 23:00
Federal Court Blocks Enforcement of Louisiana Law Threatening Women’s Access to Safe and Legal Abortion Clinics will remain open pending legal challenge

08.31.14 - (PRESS RELEASE) A Louisiana state law specifically designed to shutter abortion clinics across the state will not be enforced on September 1, according to a federal district court ruling issued late this evening.

Louisiana health care providers filed a suit in federal district court in Baton Rouge last week seeking an immediate injunction against House Bill 388, a measure signed into law that forces any doctor who provides abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. With today’s decision, physicians providing abortion services will not be forced to comply with the law if they are in the process of applying for hospital admitting privileges.

Admitting privileges requirements are designed by anti-choice politicians to devastate women’s access to abortion services—with numerous clinics already been forced to closed in Texas, and abortion providers in Mississippi and Alabama hanging on by the thread of a court order. Yet, admitting privileges provide no increased benefits for the fewer than 1 percent of abortion patients who experience complications. Furthermore, privileges can often be impossible to obtain due to individual hospital policies or biases toward abortion providers for reasons not related to the doctors’ qualifications.

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

“Today’s ruling ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights. Politicians cannot be given free rein to lie about their motives without recourse, and expect women and their families to pay the consequences.

“As the flimsy façade of these laws grows thinner by the day, we continue to look to the courts to uphold the Constitution and protect access to safe and legal abortion for all women regardless of where they happen to live.”

Ilene Jaroslaw of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Demme Doufekias of Morrison & Foerster, and William E. Rittenberg of Rittenberg, Samuel, and Phillips, LLC represent Hope Medical Group for Women, Causeway Medical Clinic, and Bossier City Medical Suite in this challenge. If the law were enforced, at least three of the state’s five clinics would have been forced to stop providing abortion services or close altogether, leaving thousands of women—especially those in the central part of the state—hundreds of miles from a safe and legal abortion provider.

With this law, Louisiana joined the ranks of other states that have attempted to use admitting privileges requirements as an underhanded way to shutter high-quality clinics and severely limit women’s access to abortion services. Women’s health care providers and advocates are currently involved in two challenges to Texas’ unconstitutional admitting privileges requirement which has already closed health centers across the state while the last clinic in Mississippi is fighting to keep its doors open. A similar law in Alabama was found unconstitutional earlier this month and Wisconsin’s admitting privileges requirement has been preliminarily blocked; nevertheless, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a similar measure into law earlier this summer.

Major medical groups oppose laws like Louisiana’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.”

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit states like Louisiana 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.

File Upload:  LA Order.pdf Louisiana Health Care Providers in Court to Protect Access to Safe, Legal Abortion Care Louisiana Governor Jindal Signs Law Designed to Shutter Reproductive Health Clinics Trial Begins in Second Challenge to Texas’ Unconstitutional Abortion Restrictions Two More Texas Health Centers Forced to Close in Wake of Unconstitutional Abortion Restrictions Passed Last Summer Fifth Circuit Court Continues to Block Mississippi Anti-Abortion Regulation, State’s Only Clinic to Remain Open While Legal Battle Continues Oklahoma Governor Fallin Signs Law Designed to Shutter Reproductive Health Clinics Health Care Providers Ask Full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to Reconsider Texas Law that Blocks Abortion Access

Federal Court Protects Texas Women from Further Loss of Abortion Access

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 18:01
Federal Court Protects Texas Women from Further Loss of Abortion Access HB2 provision requiring unnecessary, multimillion-dollar renovations of abortion clinics ruled unconstitutional, would have shuttered all but a few abortion clinics in the state September 1

08.29.14 - Following a trial earlier this month, today a federal district court judge struck down two components of an anti-abortion Texas omnibus law that has already closed approximately half the state’s abortion clinics and threatened to restrict access to safe and legal abortion across the state even further.

The ruling issued today by U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel (PDF attached) blocks the state’s requirement that every existing licensed abortion facility meet the same building requirements as an ambulatory surgical center (ASC)—a provision that would have amounted to a multi-million dollar tax on abortion services, leaving the state with as few as seven abortion providers as of September 1.

Today’s ruling also found that law’s admitting privileges requirement was unconstitutional as it applies to two clinics in the state’s hardest-hit communities: the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas. Further, the court ruled that the ASC and admitting privileges requirements together “create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion.”

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

“This trial and today’s decision have stripped away the pretexts of the politicians who passed this law and revealed their true intention to deny Texas women access to safe, legal abortion care.

“The court has made clear that women’s well-being is not advanced by laws attacking access to essential health care, and that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution may not be denied through laws that make them impossible to exercise.

“Texas women still face serious threats to their rights, health, and ability to obtain safe, high-quality reproductive health care from reputable doctors in their communities. But at least for the moment, today’s victory is vital in preventing politicians’ scorched-earth assaults on women’s health care from causing even more harm than they already have.”

Today’s decision is the third time a federal court has blocked anti-choice efforts to shutter clinics in recent weeks, joining a recent district court decision permanently blocking admitting privileges requirements in Alabama and a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a preliminary injunction against a similar law in Mississippi.

The clinics and physicians in this challenge are represented by Stephanie Toti, Esha Bhandari, and David Brown of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a team of attorneys from the law firm Morrison & Foerster led by J. Alexander Lawrence, and Austin attorneys Jan Soifer and Patrick O’Connell of the law firm O’Connell & Soifer.

This is the Center for Reproductive Rights’ second challenge to Texas’ House Bill 2 (HB2), a sweeping package of anti-choice legislation that was passed last summer. The first suit—filed in September 2014—challenged the law’s unconstitutional admitting privileges requirement as it applies to all clinics in the state, as well as its onerous restrictions on medication abortion. These provisions were upheld by a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the plaintiffs await a decision on whether the full appeals court will rehear the case.

Major medical groups oppose the types of restrictions found in Texas’ HB2. Both the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) oppose hospital admitting privileges as a requirement for physicians providing abortion services. Medical experts confirm that legal abortion care in the U.S. is extremely safe, with fewer than 1 percent of patients requiring treatment at a hospital. ACOG also opposes the imposition of medically unnecessary facility requirements on abortion providers.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit states like Texas 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. Elected officials in two Texas cities— Austin and Houston—have called for the repeal of HB2 and the passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act.

File Upload:  Louisiana Admitting Privileges Complaint One-Third of Texas Women Will Soon Lack Access to Safe, Legal Abortion Following Appellate Court Ruling Texas Continues to Fight Back: Center for Reproductive Rights To File Second Lawsuit Against HB2’s Devastating Abortion Restrictions Texas Abortion Providers’ Admitting Privileges Reinstated in Lawsuit Settlement

UN Committee Calls on United States to Immediately Address Racial Discrimination in Health Care

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 23:00
UN Committee Calls on United States to Immediately Address Racial Discrimination in Health Care Recommendations from Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) call for immediate action to address inequity in health care coverage, sky-high maternal mortality rates

08.29.14 - (PRESS RELEASE) The United States has failed to make sufficient progress in addressing racial and gender disparities in access to health care, according to new concluding observations (attached) from the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

The Committee undertook its review of the U.S.’s record on eliminating racial discrimination in policy and practice to meet the government’s international human rights commitments on August 13-14 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Today’s recommendations echo recommendations provided in a new report focused on how racial discrimination in law and practice interferes with women’s fundamental human right to health, with a particular focus on the maternal health of Black women in the South and immigrant women’s access to reproductive health care.

The report—titled Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in US Health Care—was issued earlier this month by the Center for Reproductive Rights, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

Said Katrina Anderson,senior human rights counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Today the UN Committee rightfully recognized the wide disparities in sexual and reproductive health that exist in the United States for what it is: racial discrimination and a human rights violation that demands government accountability and swift action.

“The U.S. has more health resources than any other country, yet women of color are dying from preventable causes and failing to get the reproductive health care they need. No woman in the U.S. should endure such poor care because of her immigration status or race. 

“It’s time that the United States government take action to address the huge gaps that still persist when it comes to systemic and institutional barriers women of color face when accessing health care.”         

The CERD Committee is calling on the United States to immediately implement key policy changes and proactive measures that would address these overlapping forms of discrimination against women of color and immigrant women.  Specifically:

  • While recognizing that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands coverage for many Americans, the Committee expresses concern that the benefits of the ACA are not available to all living within the United States’ borders. Specifically, the Committee urged the U.S. to “Take concrete measures to ensure that all individuals … have effective access to affordable and adequate health-care services, including undocumented immigrants who are excluded from the ACA due to their citizenship status and legal residents prohibited by the five-year waiting period from qualifying for Medicaid." It also raised alarms about health access for those living in the 24 states refusing to expand Medicaid, including millions of low-income women of color in the South. Many of these recommendations echo those made by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in March 2014.
  • The Committee expressed particular “concern at the persistence of racial disparities in the field of sexual and reproductive health, particularly with regard to the high maternal and infant mortality rates among African American communities.” It called on the U.S. to step up its efforts to address these disparities, especially to (1) “Standardize the data collection system on maternal and infant deaths in all states to effectively identify and address the causes of disparities” and (2) “Improve monitoring and accountability  mechanisms for preventable maternal mortality, including by ensuring that state maternal mortality review boards have sufficient resources and capacity.”

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a human rights treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1994. The United States is required to submit periodic reports to the Committee on how its commitments are being implemented, including its obligation to ensure the right to health care is free from all forms of racial discrimination to all within its borders.

Women’s Health Advocates Call on United States to Address Widespread Discrimination in Health Care Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care UN Human Rights Committee: U.S. Should Ensure Health Coverage for Immigrant Women

Why Ending Child Marriage is a Critical Part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 23:00
Why Ending Child Marriage is a Critical Part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Melissa Upreti

08.26.14 - Twenty-five thousand children worldwide, most of whom are girls, are married every day.  While many countries have laws that clearly prohibit and penalize child marriage, more often than not, these laws are not enforced. In fact, laws prohibiting child marriage often coexist with and are superseded in practice by religion-based laws that permit child marriage.   

More recently, U.N bodies have strengthened their call to governments to end child marriage for obvious reasons: the practice egregiously violates a broad range of women’s and girls’ human rights. Young girls aged 10-19 bear nearly a quarter of the burden of death and disability associated with early pregnancy and childbirth and children are forced to bear children while still children themselves. Yet, child marriage continues with impunity mainly because of the failure of national governments to fulfill their commitment to eliminate the practice and the absence of legal and political accountability.  

It is important to recognize the ways in which lack of government accountability specifically for the failure to prevent and punish child marriage has undermined the achievement of several Millennium Development Goals. In Nepal, for instance, where notable progress has been made towards the achievement of MDG 5.A on reduction of maternal mortality, the risk of maternal death among adolescent girls remains high due to child marriage. Further, Nepal has made the least progress with respect to MDG 3 on gender equality, in part because of its failure to eliminate child marriage.

The U.N. must make ending child marriage a priority in the Post-2015 development framework by including it as a specific target.  Clear recognition of the elimination of child marriage in the new agenda will ensure its prioritization and establish a clear basis for routine monitoring of progress towards its elimination, which will help ensure accountability. Further it will convey the important message that crimes against women and children in the name of marriage must not be tolerated.

While ending child marriage is an important goal in itself, it is also critical for promoting gender equality and addressing gender-based discrimination. The President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General must set a framework that effectively tackles discrimination against women by expressing a clear commitment to achieving substantive equality for women in all spheres including marriage and promoting their sexual and reproductive autonomy as a matter of human rights.

About this post: In September the UN President of the General Assembly (PGA) will be hosting a “High-level Stock-taking Event on the Post-2015 Development Agenda” in New York. Civil society is being asked to provide comments which will inform the event—a critical input into the Secretary-General’s synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda. The above comments were submitted to the UN PGA by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Combatting Child Marriage Child Marriage in South Asia: Stop the Impunity (Press Release) Child Marriage and Personal Laws in South Asia Childhood Discarded Child Marriage in South Asia: Stop the Impunity UN Takes Major Action to End Child Marriage

David Brown habla con Univision

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 15:54
David Brown habla con Univision DavidBrownUnivision8-24.jpg

25.08.14 - David Brown, abogado, habla con Univision sobre la ley en Texas que causaría el cierre de la mayoría de las clínicas de aborto en el estado.

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Louisiana Health Care Providers in Court to Protect Access to Safe, Legal Abortion Care

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 23:00
Louisiana Health Care Providers in Court to Protect Access to Safe, Legal Abortion Care Thousands of women to lose abortion access if law allowed to take effect on September 1

08.22.14 - The Center for Reproductive Rights joined the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in a new federal lawsuit today challenging a Louisiana state law signed by Governor Bobby Jindal in June specifically designed to shutter abortion clinics across the state.

The suit—which was filed on behalf of Louisiana health care providers in federal district court in Baton Rouge—seeks an immediate injunction against House Bill 388, a measure signed into law in June 2014 that forces any doctor who provides abortion care to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital.  Specifically, the suit seeks to enjoin the law before it is allowed to go into effect, as the physicians providing abortion services have not been given enough time to secure admitting privileges at a local hospital.

Admitting privileges requirements have devastated access to abortion services throughout the South.  Scores of clinics have closed in Texas, and clinics in Mississippi and Alabama are hanging on by the thread of a court order.  Admitting privileges are not necessary for the treatment of the fewer than 1% of abortion patients who experience complications and they can also be impossible to satisfy because of hospitals’ inclination to deny admitting privileges to abortion providers for reasons not related to the doctors’ qualifications.

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

“Louisiana is the latest state to advance the unconstitutional objective of denying women safe, legal abortion care under the phony pretext of protecting their health. We intend to demonstrate why this law must be the latest to be blocked by a federal court order.

“Leading national medical associations oppose admitting privileges requirements and federal courts nationwide have blocked them, recognizing them as the underhanded attempts to ban abortion that they really are.

“We are confident this court will see through the disingenuousness of the politicians who passed this law to the unconstitutional attack on women’s rights and health care that lies beneath, and block its enforcement before it denies safe, legal abortion care to a single woman in Louisiana who needs it.”

Ilene Jaroslaw of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Demme Doufekias of Morrison & Foerster, and William E Rittenberg of Rittenberg, Samuel, and Phillips, LLC represent Hope Medical Group for Women, Causeway Medical Clinic, and Bossier City Medical Suite in today’s challenge.  If the law is permitted to go into effect, at least three out of the state’s five clinics will be forced to stop providing abortion services or close altogether, leaving thousands of women—especially those in the central part of the state—hundreds of miles from a safe and legal abortion provider.

With this law, Louisiana joined the ranks of other states that have attempted to use admitting privileges requirements as an underhanded way to shutter high-quality clinics and severely limit women’s access to abortion services.  Women’s health care providers and advocates are currently involved in twochallenges to Texas’ unconstitutional admitting privileges requirement which has already closed health centers across the state while the last clinic in Mississippi is fighting to keep its doors open.  A similar law in Alabama was found unconstitutional earlier this month and Wisconsin’s admitting privileges requirement has been preliminarily blocked; nevertheless, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a similar measure into law earlier this summer.

Major medical groups oppose laws like Louisiana’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.”  Medical experts confirm that legal abortion care in the U.S. is extremely safe, with fewer than 1% of patients requiring treatment at a hospital.

Harmful and unconstitutional restrictions like these further underscore the need for the federal Women's Health Protection Act (S. 1696/H.R. 3471)—a bill that would prohibit states like Louisiana 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.

File Upload:  Louisiana Admitting Privileges Complaint Louisiana Governor Jindal Signs Law Designed to Shutter Reproductive Health Clinics Health Care Providers Ask Full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to Reconsider Texas Law that Blocks Abortion Access Two More Texas Health Centers Forced to Close in Wake of Unconstitutional Abortion Restrictions Passed Last Summer Fifth Circuit Court Continues to Block Mississippi Anti-Abortion Regulation, State’s Only Clinic to Remain Open While Legal Battle Continues Oklahoma Governor Fallin Signs Law Designed to Shutter Reproductive Health Clinics

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni Signs Callous Law Criminalizing HIV and AIDS Transmission

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 23:00
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni Signs Callous Law Criminalizing HIV and AIDS Transmission New law threatens human rights of Ugandans, violates citizens’ privacy rights and forces testing on pregnant women

08.21.14 - (PRESS RELEASE) Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signed legislation this week criminalizing the transmission of HIV, a measure that allows doctors to violate confidentiality and disclose their patients’ HIV status without consent and calls for mandatory testing for pregnant women and their partners in violation of their human rights.

While the “HIV Prevention and AIDS Control Bill” was created in an effort to curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country, the law as written poses serious human rights violations that infringe on Ugandans’ right to privacy and right to be free from discrimination. The law calls for a sentencing of up to 5 years for individuals found guilty of transmitting HIV. Furthermore, the bill singles out women in the country, subjecting survivors of sexual assault and pregnant women to routine HIV blood testing—a provision that fosters discrimination in the health care system, deepens the stigma of HIV and AIDS among those groups, and discourages women from seeking essential health care.

“No one should ever fear discrimination or imprisonment when trying to access essential medical care in her or his country—regardless of HIV status or other health needs,” said Evelyne Opondo, regional director for Africa at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Rather than passing a measure that effectively address the very real challenges that exist in curbing the spread and treatment of HIV and AIDS, this law inflicts punishment, shame, and fear on men and women in Uganda, including pregnant women who desperately need and deserve quality maternal health care.”

Under this new law, medical and health practitioners are allowed to disclose or release HIV test results without a patient’s consent. Non-consensual disclosure of HIV status places women at risk of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. In 2008 alone, five women in Uganda were murdered by their husbands after the men learned about their wives’ HIV-positive status.

Cases of discrimination against pregnant women living with HIV have occurred in many parts of the world, including Uganda and Namibia where 15 women who were sterilized without their consent brought a complaint against the government. In 2009, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Vivo Positivo brought a case against Chile before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of F.S., a Chilean woman living with HIV who at age 20 was sterilized during delivery without her knowledge or consent. Her case is still pending before the commission.

In November 2010, the Center and the Uganda Association of Women Lawyers submitted a joint letter to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women raising concerns over the negative impact the bill would have on women’s reproductive rights.

The Center has worked extensively in Uganda on the human rights implications of lack of access to legal abortion and modern contraceptives. In November 2013, the Center, the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law released a joint report entitled The Stakes Are High: The Tragic Impact of Unsafe Abortion and Inadequate Access to Contraception in Uganda. The report documents personal stories of women impacted by the widespread and false impression that abortion is illegal in all circumstances in Uganda— when in fact it is permitted for women with life-threatening conditions and victims of sexual assault.

In 2012, the Center launched its first research report on Uganda's laws and policies on termination of pregnancy. The report found that the laws and policies are more expansive than most believe, and Uganda has ample opportunity to increase access to safe abortion services.

The Stakes are High: The Tragic Impact of Unsafe Abortion and Inadequate Access to Contraception in Uganda Understanding the Legal and Policy Framework on Abortion in Uganda Forcibly Sterilized Woman Files International Case against Chile

Spotlighting Racial Bias

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 10:44
Spotlighting Racial Bias

08.14.14 - In LaKeisha’s hometown of Atlanta, African American women die in childbirth at a rate more than three times the national average. Following an emergency c-section, LaKeisha experienced a brush with this unsettling statistic when she developed a painful infection.

While post-cesarean complications are not uncommon, inadequate follow-up care meant that LaKeisha was neither treated for nor informed about the signs of infection. For countless women like her, racial and socio-economic disparities in health care quality and insurance access have made childbearing an increasingly dangerous proposition in this country.

“There were no calls from the doctor’s office to say, ‘How are you doing?’” recalls LaKeisha. “I sat with an infection for two weeks. I thought it was just the pain [from the cesarean]. . . . I remember feeling horrible.” The lingering infection traumatized LaKeisha both physically and emotionally, especially when her financial situation forced her to return to work earlier than planned.

LaKeisha is one of 25 women we spoke to during the Center for Reproductive Rights’ joint effort with SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective to gather firsthand accounts of Southern Black women’s sexual and reproductive lives. The project documents the experiences of women living in Georgia and Mississippi—two states with the highest rates of maternal death in the country. Analyzing their stories has helped the Center identify key areas in which U.S. government policy is failing to address racial and gender discrimination in the sphere of sexual and reproductive health care.

This week, the Center and SisterSong brought these findings before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) during the committee’s periodic review of the United States. The CERD is the UN body responsible for assessing the efforts of member states to end racial discrimination.

In addition to testifying, the Center submitted a shadow report intended to supplement the government’s account of actions taken to address the Committee’s concerns from their last review, in 2008.

“These reviews allow us to spotlight issues of racial discrimination in the U.S. and bring to light various concerns that are not normally talked about in terms of racial discrimination,” notes the Center’s senior human rights counsel, Katrina Anderson, who is representing the Center at the review.

Anderson identifies specific concerns such as poor-quality care for women of color in public hospitals, inadequate public transportation to health facilities, and lack of coverage for preventive care as systemic issues for which the government needs to be held accountable. 

“Most people in the U.S. don't know we have a maternal mortality rate double that of Saudi Arabia. And those who do know about it view it as a public health issue,” she says. “Globally, however, preventing maternal mortality is a key human rights concern, and the international community has developed standards to hold governments accountable for high ratios of maternal deaths.”

Kendra, another woman we spoke to during the joint project with SisterSong, is from Mississippi, where a disproportionately high percentage of people of color live in poverty. In that state, there are counties where the risk of maternal death has risen to more than 20 times the national average—a higher maternal mortality rate than in Kenya or Rwanda.

No surprise then that Kendra, who became pregnant in the 12th grade after receiving virtually no sex education, says of her community, “We really don't have a lot of good experiences when it comes to childbirth.”

During this week’s testimony, the Center and SisterSong are urging the CERD to question the U.S. government about how it is addressing racial disparities in maternal mortality, especially in the South, where states have largely rejected Medicaid expansion yet are comprised of a disproportionate number of people of color who are unable to afford private insurance.

Additionally, the Center hopes the CERD will press the U.S. about laws that exclude immigrants from being able to obtain health care benefits. The shadow report points to Texas, where lawmakers have imposed sweeping barriers to essential reproductive health services, essentially blocking Latinas and immigrants in poor, rural areas such as the Rio Grande Valley from accessing such care.

“The 136% rise in maternal deaths in the U.S. over the past 20 years and the dramatic increase in racial disparities is a human rights crisis, brought on to large degree by gender and racial discrimination in the health care system,” notes Anderson. “Our hope is that the Committee will identify how the U.S. is falling short in policy and practice and offer recommendations for how federal and state governments can reduce racial discrimination.”

Taking the stories and statistics of this developing crisis to the international stage helps ensure that the distressing experiences of women like Kendra and LeKeisha cannot be dismissed. As with governments across the world, we aim to hold the U.S. responsible for addressing the complex of factors—including race, gender, and poverty—that continue to imperil the lives of millions of already marginalized women.

Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care Women’s Health Advocates Call on United States to Address Widespread Discrimination in Health Care

Women’s Health Advocates Call on United States to Address Widespread Discrimination in Health Care

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 23:00
Women’s Health Advocates Call on United States to Address Widespread Discrimination in Health Care New report presented during U.S. review before United Nations committee exposes massive gaps in maternal health care, reproductive health services 08.13.14 - (PRESS RELEASE) Women of color face significant obstacles in obtaining essential health care services in the United States, according to a new report jointly issued today by the Center for Reproductive Rights, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
The report—titled Reproductive Justice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in US Health Care—identifies how racial discrimination in law and practice interferes with women’s fundamental human right to health, with a particular focus on the maternal health of Black women in the South and immigrant women’s access to reproductive health care. The organizations are calling on the United States to immediately implement key policy changes and proactive measures that would address these overlapping forms of discrimination against women of color and immigrant women.
The report is being presented this week in Geneva, Switzerland to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) during its periodic review of the United States’ commitments to ensure its residents have access to health care, free from all forms of racial discrimination.
Said Angela Hooton, state policy and advocacy director at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“The clear discrimination and human rights violations that women of color face every day when trying to get essential—and sometimes life-saving—health care is undeniable when you hear their powerful and heartbreaking stories.
“For too long, these women, their families, and their communities have been shut out of this country’s health care system.  A woman’s race or immigration status should never determine whether she will survive childbirth or access critical cancer treatments. The United Nations must hold the U.S. government accountable for these grave injustices.”
Today’s report focuses on two specific areas of discrimination against women of color in the United States:
  • Black women nationwide are nearly four times as likely to die in childbirth as white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Maternal mortality is nothing short of a human rights crisis in the country, with the United States’ maternal mortality rate increasing by 136 percent between 1990 and 2013, which is nearly double the rate of Saudi Arabia and more than triple that of the United Kingdom according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Today’s report features several personal stories from Black women in Jackson, Miss. and Atlanta, Ga as they’ve attempted to access basic sexual and reproductive health care services—including prenatal and maternal care.  These two cities have some of the highest rates of maternal mortality and other racial health disparities in the country and the stories highlight the pervasive and often irreparable harm that takes place when discrimination in health care is commonplace.
  • Women without U.S. citizenship are three times as likely as U.S.-born citizens to lack private or public insurance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Federal and state policy has exacerbated coverage barriers for immigrant women and their families, with many programs excluding individuals based solely on their immigration status. Today’s report also features stories from a 2013 report from the Center and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health documenting the devastating human toll on Latinas and their families in the Rio Grande Valley community in the wake of Texas’s family planning program cuts.  The stories highlight the very real effect of the family planning cuts, with women unable to access basic reproductive health care and oftentimes left with undiagnosed or untreated illnesses.
“This report shines a bright light on the huge gaps that still exist when it comes to women’s rights and equality—gaps that are especially wide for women of color and immigrant women in the South,” said Katrina Anderson, senior human rights counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Rather than setting a high standard for the rest of the world to follow, the United States has for too long lagged far behind.
“It’s time for the U.S. government to take bold and immediate action to start to address the serious deficiencies that persist in this country’s health care system to ensure equal access to health care—free from racial and gender discrimination—to all women living within its borders.”
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a human rights treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1994. The United States is required to submit periodic reports to the Committee on how its commitments are being implemented, including its obligation to ensure the right to health care is free from all forms of racial discrimination to all within its borders. The Committee, which undertakes a review of the U.S. record in implementing the ICERD from August 13-14 in Geneva, will issue recommendations to the U.S. government on how to eliminate racial discrimination in U.S. policy and practice to better reflect the government’s international commitments.
Today’s report by the Center for Reproductive Rights, SisterSong, and the National Latina Institute includes a number of policy recommendations, including:
  • Increasing health coverage for low-income women and improving access to reproductive and sexual health care, especially for women of color living in the 21 states that have rejected Medicaid expansion;
  • Taking proactive measures to reduce racial disparities in maternal mortality, including improving data collection on maternal health outcomes and strengthening accountability mechanisms for preventable maternal mortality; and
  • Repealing the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that exclude large categories of immigrants from coverage, which enact enormous barriers to immigrant women’s access to contraception, cancer screenings, and other forms of preventive health care.​
File Upload:  Reproductive Justice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in US Health Care

CRR Announces New Columbia Law Fellow

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 09:24
CRR Announces New Columbia Law Fellow

08.11.14 - The Center is excited to announce Harvard law student Lisa Kelly as the 2014-2016 recipient of the Center for Reproductive Rights-Columbia Law School Fellowship.

Lisa has been selected from an extremely competitive applicant base for the two-year appointment, which is a full-time academic position designed to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights. Lisa is the program’s sixth fellow.

Competing with a pool of applications with stellar academic records, Lisa distinguished herself as an up-and-coming scholar with an impressive research agenda, a focus on pertinent issues, and an insightful and thoughtful doctoral dissertation.

She is currently completing her S.J.D. (Doctorate of Law) at Harvard Law School.  During her doctorate, Lisa was a Trudeau Scholar, a Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow, and a Fellow of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School.  Her dissertation—Governing the Child: Parental Authority, State Power and the School in North America—analyzes legal struggles from the mid-nineteenth century through the present over race, corporal punishment and the disciplinary reach of school authorities.

Lisa has also published in the areas of family law and reproductive justice, including a forthcoming chapter, “Reckoning with Narratives of Innocent Suffering in Transnational Abortion Litigation,” in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (Cook, Erdman & Dickens, eds., UPenn). 

For the purpose of the Fellowship, “reproductive rights” is broadly defined to include a range of issues regarding women, families, sexuality, violence, and parenting.  The program aims to engender an interest in these issues, with the hopes that the developing legal scholar will go on to research and write about factors that impact women’s reproductive health.

“The fellowship is a great opportunity for scholars with an interest in women’s issues to gain insight into the practical implications of their theoretical work,” says Nicole Tuszynski, manager of the Center’s Law School Initiative, which coordinates the fellowship program. “The Center is really committed to this program because it is a unique way to support future legal academics who are sympathetic to reproductive rights issues and may produce impactful scholarship in the area.”     

During her fellowship, Lisa will split her time between the Center—working on projects central to reproductive justice—and Columbia, where she will focus on her research and interact with the law school’s community of legal fellows. Lisa plans to continue working on questions concerning young people and sexuality, including a project examining the role of age of sexual consent laws and enforcement in recent antiabortion campaigns in the United States.  

“I have long followed and admired the work of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  Seeing firsthand how the organization mobilizes for reproductive justice will provide unique insights on law and social movements,” says Lisa. “I am also looking forward immensely to joining the vibrant community of scholars working on gender and sexual justice at Columbia Law School.  I am confident that I will benefit greatly from their perspectives and am excited to be an active contributor to this scholarly community.”  

Columbia Law professors Carol Sanger – the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law – and Katherine Franke – the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Katherine Franke oversee Columbia’s half of the program.

“Columbia Law School has been delighted to build this partnership with the Center for Reproductive Rights. Over the last five years we have had the privilege of working with truly gifted young scholars who plan careers in the legal academy writing on a range of topics related to reproductive rights and justice,” says Franke. “Given the depth of our faculty’s research interests in this area, and the strength of our Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School has developed a vibrant, rigorous, and nurturing environment for our CRR-CLS fellows to launch their academic careers.”

Lisa will begin her work at the Center this summer, joining current CRR-CLS Fellow, Rana Jaleel. Rana’s work examines how feminist theorizations of violence against women interfaced with legal doctrine in the 1990s to establish war rape and sexual violence as violations of human rights and international humanitarian criminal law.

Apply for the 2015-2017 Center for Reproductive Rights - Columbia Law School Fellowship Fifth Center for Reproductive Rights-Columbia Law School Fellowship Awarded to Rana Jaleel Center for Reproductive Rights Launches U.S. Law School Initiative and Selects First Fellow

CRR Announces New Columbia Law Fellow

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 09:14
CRR Announces New Columbia Law Fellow

08.11.14 - The Center is excited to announce Harvard law student Lisa Kelly as the 2014-2016 recipient of the Center for Reproductive Rights-Columbia Law School Fellowship.

Lisa has been selected from an extremely competitive applicant base for the two-year appointment, which is a full-time academic position designed to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights. Lisa is the program’s sixth fellow.

Competing with a pool of applications with stellar academic records, Lisa distinguished herself as an up-and-coming scholar with an impressive research agenda, a focus on pertinent issues, and an insightful and thoughtful doctoral dissertation.

She is currently completing her S.J.D. (Doctorate of Law) at Harvard Law School.  During her doctorate, Lisa was a Trudeau Scholar, a Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow, and a Fellow of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School.  Her dissertation—Governing the Child: Parental Authority, State Power and the School in North America—analyzes legal struggles from the mid-nineteenth century through the present over race, corporal punishment and the disciplinary reach of school authorities.

Lisa has also published in the areas of family law and reproductive justice, including a forthcoming chapter, “Reckoning with Narratives of Innocent Suffering in Transnational Abortion Litigation,” in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (Cook, Erdman & Dickens, eds., UPenn). 

For the purpose of the Fellowship, “reproductive rights” is broadly defined to include a range of issues regarding women, families, sexuality, violence, and parenting.  The program aims to engender an interest in these issues, with the hopes that the developing legal scholar will go on to research and write about factors that impact women’s reproductive health.

“The fellowship is a great opportunity for scholars with an interest in women’s issues to gain insight into the practical implications of their theoretical work,” says Nicole Tuszynski, manager of the Center’s Law School Initiative, which coordinates the fellowship program. “The Center is really committed to this program because it is a unique way to support future legal academics who are sympathetic to reproductive rights issues and may produce impactful scholarship in the area.”     

During her fellowship, Lisa will split her time between the Center—working on projects central to reproductive justice—and Columbia, where she will focus on her research and interact with the law school’s community of legal fellows. Lisa plans to continue working on questions concerning young people and sexuality, including a project examining the role of age of sexual consent laws and enforcement in recent antiabortion campaigns in the United States.  

“I have long followed and admired the work of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  Seeing firsthand how the organization mobilizes for reproductive justice will provide unique insights on law and social movements,” says Lisa. “I am also looking forward immensely to joining the vibrant community of scholars working on gender and sexual justice at Columbia Law School.  I am confident that I will benefit greatly from their perspectives and am excited to be an active contributor to this scholarly community.”  

Columbia Law professors Carol Sanger – the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law – and Katherine Franke – the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Katherine Franke oversee Columbia’s half of the program.

“Columbia Law School has been delighted to build this partnership with the Center for Reproductive Rights. Over the last five years we have had the privilege of working with truly gifted young scholars who plan careers in the legal academy writing on a range of topics related to reproductive rights and justice,” says Franke. “Given the depth of our faculty’s research interests in this area, and the strength of our Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School has developed a vibrant, rigorous, and nurturing environment for our CRR-CLS fellows to launch their academic careers.”

Lisa will begin her work at the Center this summer, joining current CRR-CLS Fellow, Rana Jaleel. Rana’s work examines how feminist theorizations of violence against women interfaced with legal doctrine in the 1990s to establish war rape and sexual violence as violations of human rights and international humanitarian criminal law.

Center for Reproductive Rights Launches U.S. Law School Initiative and Selects First Fellow Fifth Center for Reproductive Rights-Columbia Law School Fellowship Awarded to Rana Jaleel Apply for the 2015-2017 Center for Reproductive Rights - Columbia Law School Fellowship

CRR Announces New Columbia Law Fellow

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 09:10
CRR Announces New Columbia Law Fellow

08.11.14 - The Center is excited to announce Harvard law student Lisa Kelly as the 2014-2016 recipient of the Center for Reproductive Rights-Columbia Law School Fellowship.

Lisa has been selected from an extremely competitive applicant base for the two-year appointment, which is a full-time academic position designed to prepare recent law school graduates for legal academic careers in reproductive health and human rights. Lisa is the program’s sixth fellow.

Competing with a pool of applications with stellar academic records, Lisa distinguished herself as an up-and-coming scholar with an impressive research agenda, a focus on pertinent issues, and an insightful and thoughtful doctoral dissertation.

She is currently completing her S.J.D. (Doctorate of Law) at Harvard Law School.  During her doctorate, Lisa was a Trudeau Scholar, a Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow, and a Fellow of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School.  Her dissertation—Governing the Child: Parental Authority, State Power and the School in North America—analyzes legal struggles from the mid-nineteenth century through the present over race, corporal punishment and the disciplinary reach of school authorities.

Lisa has also published in the areas of family law and reproductive justice, including a forthcoming chapter, “Reckoning with Narratives of Innocent Suffering in Transnational Abortion Litigation,” in Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies (Cook, Erdman & Dickens, eds., UPenn). 

For the purpose of the Fellowship, “reproductive rights” is broadly defined to include a range of issues regarding women, families, sexuality, violence, and parenting.  The program aims to engender an interest in these issues, with the hopes that the developing legal scholar will go on to research and write about factors that impact women’s reproductive health.

“The fellowship is a great opportunity for scholars with an interest in women’s issues to gain insight into the practical implications of their theoretical work,” says Nicole Tuszynski, manager of the Center’s Law School Initiative, which coordinates the fellowship program. “The Center is really committed to this program because it is a unique way to support future legal academics who are sympathetic to reproductive rights issues and may produce impactful scholarship in the area.”     

During her fellowship, Lisa will split her time between the Center—working on projects central to reproductive justice—and Columbia, where she will focus on her research and interact with the law school’s community of legal fellows. Lisa plans to continue working on questions concerning young people and sexuality, including a project examining the role of age of sexual consent laws and enforcement in recent antiabortion campaigns in the United States.  

“I have long followed and admired the work of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  Seeing firsthand how the organization mobilizes for reproductive justice will provide unique insights on law and social movements,” says Lisa. “I am also looking forward immensely to joining the vibrant community of scholars working on gender and sexual justice at Columbia Law School.  I am confident that I will benefit greatly from their perspectives and am excited to be an active contributor to this scholarly community.”  

Columbia Law professors Carol Sanger – the Barbara Aronstein Black Professor of Law – and Katherine Franke – the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director of Center for Gender and Sexuality Law Katherine Franke oversee Columbia’s half of the program.

“Columbia Law School has been delighted to build this partnership with the Center for Reproductive Rights. Over the last five years we have had the privilege of working with truly gifted young scholars who plan careers in the legal academy writing on a range of topics related to reproductive rights and justice,” says Franke. “Given the depth of our faculty’s research interests in this area, and the strength of our Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School has developed a vibrant, rigorous, and nurturing environment for our CRR-CLS fellows to launch their academic careers.”

Lisa will begin her work at the Center this summer, joining current CRR-CLS Fellow, Rana Jaleel. Rana’s work examines how feminist theorizations of violence against women interfaced with legal doctrine in the 1990s to establish war rape and sexual violence as violations of human rights and international humanitarian criminal law.

Center for Reproductive Rights Launches U.S. Law School Initiative and Selects First Fellow Apply for the 2015-2017 Center for Reproductive Rights - Columbia Law School Fellowship Fifth Center for Reproductive Rights-Columbia Law School Fellowship Awarded to Rana Jaleel

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