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Abortion

The Texas Abortion Law's "Undo"able Burden

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court temporarily blocked parts of the recent Texas law that had closed all but eight abortion clinics in the state. The order allows clinics to remain open while the case moves through the courts.

While the Supreme Court’s intervention in the case is a hopeful sign, we need to keep in mind that abortion opponents aren’t giving up. Just last week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott defended the law by saying, “[T]he vast majority of Texans” still live “within comfortable driving distance (150 miles)” of an abortion clinic. In commenting on women who live in more rural areas, Mr. Abbott promised, “Abortion can be accessed by driving approximately 230–250 miles — an inconvenience, but still a manageable one.”   Read more »

The Hobby Lobby Decision Takes a Fundamentally Flawed Approach to Reproductive Health

It is hard to underestimate the potential impact of the Supreme Court’s decision Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on women’s equality. That is the case in which the Court held that some for-profit corporations could refuse to provide health insurance coverage of birth control for their employees despite the federal contraceptive coverage law that required it. The Court’s decision, at heart, is rooted in a very old and very outdated misunderstanding about women. And that is the idea that women’s reproductive health is somehow “extra,” “different,” or “separate.” This fundamentally wrong assumption about women’s reproductive health has been used for ages to take away women’s rights. By reinforcing this dangerous approach to women’s reproductive health, the Court has put all aspects of women’s rights at risk. Here’s how it works: Read more »

Abortion Restrictions Can Make it Harder to Leave Violent Relationships: What the New Study Means for Our Current Policy Fights

You may have already read about the first-of-its-kind study that documents the connection between denials of abortion and intimate partner violence.  Now it is up to us to use this important new evidence in the fight to stop bad abortion laws at the state and federal levels. Read more »

38 Anniversaries Too Many: Time to End the Hyde Amendment

Anniversaries. I love celebrating anniversaries. Yay to Roe v. Wade, yay to Title IX, yay to 12 years with my husband. Bring on the flowers, cake, and happy dances.

But there is one anniversary where a dark cloud comes over the day. And that’s the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment.

What’s Hyde you say? It’s the restriction that’s passed every year for the past THIRTY-EIGHT years denying women with Medicaid health insurance coverage of abortion except in a few limited circumstances. Every year Congress decides that some women don’t deserve to decide for themselves what’s best for them and their families. Every year some members of Congress who don’t like abortion personally are withholding Medicaid coverage from qualified women, just to make it harder or even impossible for them to have an abortion. Read more »

Reflecting on Poverty Day, Take a Moment to Support Reproductive Justice

The Supreme Court once recognized that, “The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.” Most Americans get this connection. As we think about Poverty Day, it is particularly important that we remember this critical connection.

So what happens when the government blocks women’s access to reproductive care, particularly abortion? Just taking a wild guess here that it’s not equal participation in the economic and social life of the nation.   Read more »

Alabama Admitting Privileges Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Yesterday, a federal judge in Alabama held that the state’s law requiring abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges was unconstitutional as applied to the clinics that brought the suit. Enforcement of the law would have closed three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics.

Judge Myron Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama issued his 172-page opinion [PDF] after a ten-day trial in the case, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc. v. Strange. It details the history of violence, harassment, and hostility in Alabama towards abortion providers and the significant obstacles the law would have imposed on women seeking abortions. Read more »

The Women's Health Protection Act: Protecting Women's Right to Choose

What do mandatory delays, biased counseling requirements, stringent physical building standards, and restrictions on the use of telemedicine all have in common?

They are all examples of the kinds of medically unnecessary laws passed by state politicians that target abortion clinics, providers, and patients with the goal of eliminating access to abortion. Between 2011 and 2013, states have enacted over 200 restrictions on abortion, and they just keep coming. These restrictions mean that women and providers have to fight in court just to keep abortion clinics open. These restrictions mean that the entire Rio Grande Valley is without a single provider. That’s over 1 million people without access. These restrictions mean that a woman’s constitutional right depends on her zip code.

But women and members of Congress are fighting back. The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Tammy Baldwin, would undo many of the dizzying number of restrictions passed in recent years. This bill would nullify laws that purport to protect women’s health but, in reality and intent, restrict women’s access to the reproductive health care they need and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. Read more »

Diary of a Former Clinic Intern: What McCullen Means to Me

Yesterday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in McCullen v. Coakley, striking a Massachusetts law that protects patient access to abortion clinics by prohibiting anyone, regardless of their position on abortion, to come within 35 feet of a facility. I was an intern, clinic volunteer, and patient at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Rhode Island from 2012-2013 and had my own share of experiences passing protestors as I made my way to the clinic’s doors.

Many mornings as I walked to my internship at the clinic in Providence,  a man wielding  pamphlets plastered with pictures of aborted fetuses would hiss things like “reconsider your decision” or “two beating hearts go in but one is coming out” or “you’re killing your baby.” He positioned himself in a way that in order to get from the parking lot to the clinic entrance, I had to walk right by him. He never touched me, but both his tone and his actions were clearly meant to intimidate me and anyone else going into the clinic. Read more »

The Massachusetts Buffer Zone Protected Me

I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts in 2011 and was hired in 2012. When I worked there, I would always have the same routine. Every morning, I would grab a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts for my fifteen-minute walk. I would talk to a friend on the phone, until I would turn the corner right before the health center. Read more »

Not Letting Religion Trump Facts or the Court in the Contraceptive Coverage Cases

Last week, the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in two challenges to the contraceptive coverage benefit brought by non-profit organizations with religious objections to contraceptives. And, on Tuesday, a Wyoming district court ruled that a group of non-profit organizations raising the same challenge can’t take the benefit away from their employees while the case moves forward. The argument at the D.C. Circuit and the decision by the Wyoming district court show how the courts are responding to employers’ attempts to let religion trump facts and legal responsibilities of the court.

In each of these cases, the non-profits state objections to contraceptives, sterilization, “abortion-inducing drugs” or “abortifacients,” and any related education and counseling. Wait—what? Despite assertions to the contrary, the ACA does not require any health plan to include coverage for abortion. The birth control benefit requires coverage of all FDA-approved contraceptives. By definition, contraceptives prevent pregnancy. That means that none of the FDA-approved contraceptives health plans must cover are abortifacients. In fact, physicians and other health care professionals submitted a brief to the Supreme Court that explains these facts [PDF]. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good story. The media, and even courts, are picking up this inaccurate conflation between contraceptives and abortion—adding to misinformation and deception that is already common when it comes to women’s reproductive health. Read more »