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Sigh of Relief! Arizona’s Restriction on Medication Abortion Remains on Hold

It’s that time of the year – celebrating the holidays with parties, gift-giving, and awkward holiday sweater wearing.

And now women in Arizona have at least one more reason to celebrate – on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision blocking a law that would severely restrict abortion access in Arizona. Leaving the Ninth Circuit’s decision intact means women in Arizona will continue to have access to high-quality care that includes medication abortion, which women have been using safely and legally for over 10 years.

Whew! Read more »

The One Mississippi Abortion Clinic Stays Open, But…

Good news - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit just refused to reconsider a panel’s earlier decision to block a Mississippi law that would have closed the state’s only abortion clinic. The law required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and was meant to — and would have — forced the sole clinic in the state to shut its doors. But the panel said the law went too far and was unconstitutional — the full court’s decision not to rehear the case means that the clinic stays open. This is great news for Mississippi women who will continue to have access to abortion in their state.

But…. Read more »

1 in 3 Women Have Abortions. It’s Okay, They Know What They’re Doing

Being an abortion provider is not easy. On top of the risk and stigma, there is an unprecedented amount of regulation that impacts the day-to-day work, more than in any other line of healthcare. Between 2010 and 2013, more abortion regulations were passed in the U.S. than in the decades prior. In my former state of North Carolina, House Bill 854, also known as the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” [PDF] went in to effect in October 2011. The law imposed 24 hour waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, and state scripted counseling for women in North Carolina seeking abortion. It forced providers to state medically ambiguous information about an unproven link between abortion and future fertility, and forced patients to listen to the description of an ultrasound, even if they did not want to. It also required medical providers to “inform” patients seeking abortion that child support and/or government assistance may be available to them if they carried their pregnancy to term. At the time, I worked at a women’s health clinic that provided abortion services. Read more »

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 »