Abortion Information

The 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, who was unable to get an abortion in Ireland, set off nationwide opposition to a ban on the procedure. What happens when a similar case arises in Poland?

A demonstrator rises a cloth hander during a pro-choice protest in Warsaw – Aleksander Kalka/ZUMA Wire    

WARSAW — Have Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his PiS political party allies ever heard about the tragedy that happened in Ireland eight years ago? Do they know what unfolded in a waiting room of the Galway Roscommon University Hospital?

They will remember that Irish anti-abortion laws had always been as restrictive as they are in Poland right now. But they know those laws changed two years ago — and it can be traced back to that hospital in central Ireland in 2012.

The patient was named Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist and amateur Indian dance instructor. She was 17 weeks pregnant. She said she was in pain and felt there was a problem with her pregnancy. Doctors found that the fetus was in very poor condition, but its heart was still beating. Irish law at the time only allowed abortion if the woman’s life was in danger.

Savita’s husband, Paraven Halappanavar, an engineer at a medical instruments company was told that “Ireland is a Catholic country and we can’t terminate a pregnancy…” His wife was sent home, where she experienced excruciating pain for four days straight. Paraven demanded an abortion, pointing out that he practiced Hinduism and that the tenets of Catholicism did not apply to him or his wife. The doctors refused, fearing prosecution and imprisonment (in Ireland, a doctor faced possible life imprisonment for an abortion, though it usually turned into a 10-year sentence).

On October 28, 2012, Savita died from sepsis caused by the complications that followed her spontaneous miscarriage.

Paraven Halappanavar sued the Galway University Clinic, as well as the Irish government. Soon after, 20,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Dublin, demanding the lifting of the ban on abortion in the Irish Constitution.

Savita Halappanavar died from sepsis caused by the complications that followed her spontaneous miscarriage — Photo: Karl Burke/DPA via ZUMA Press

This ban had been quietly violated for years through abortion tourism practiced by Irish citizens traveling to Britain. The Catholic Church in Ireland remained steadfastly opposed to the lifting of the abortion ban, even while it extended its sympathy to Halappanavar’s family. Bishop John Fleming explained that putting the life of an unborn child and its mother on the same level takes root in the teachings of the Church. According to the Bishop, this is why Ireland has the lowest rate of infant deaths: four per 100,000, while in the U.S. and the rest of the European Union, the number rises to 14 per 100,000.

Yet Savita’s case awakened the conscience of the Irish public and, in 2018, in a referendum, 66.4% of the participating citizens voted to remove Article 8, banning abortion from the Irish Constitution. In 2019, a new law was introduced, giving women the choice to have an abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy. Savita Halappanavar’s story had become a key element of the pro-choice campaign that led to the new legislation.

Here in Poland, because of the October 2020 ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland, the PiS party is opening the way for tragedies like Savita’s.

There is a risk that doctors will fear recommending an abortion even in cases where there is not necessarily a “threat to the life” but also the health, of the patient. In such cases, they face a three-year prison sentence and may feel safer not taking any decision.

There is a risk that doctors will fear recommending an abortion 

Poland’s ruling party plans to create perinatal hospices where women with difficult pregnancies can be kept under medical surveillance – proof that the PiS party is preparing for a scenario similar to the one Savita endured.

Another argument: the projected allowance of 20,000 zlotys ($5,300) for giving birth to a child with a severe defect. This allowance, called a “coffin payment” by some, is supposed to encourage women to give birth – and probably to take unnecessary risks.

The situation in Ireland doesn’t always translate into Polish conditions. The two societies, although Catholic, are different. In Ireland, despite the strong position of the Church in 2012, the government did not have the same chance to use the media as the Polish government does to influence society. And this, I fear, will soon create a new pop culture model for women: modern saints. The ones who wanted to “give birth at all costs” in order to prove their faith.

Jarosław Kaczyński, who has spent years manipulating fundamentalist circles of the Polish right-wing to serve his own purposes, has for the first time become their hostage.

Source: https://worldcrunch.com/culture-society/what-ireland-can-teach-poland-about-abortion-rights?fbclid=IwAR285DZ-YUuXIEBKSNioPNdguzY3kdXG0X8ttfkwex0h0Z31dkmFwwYJTMc

And the legislation is more extreme than ever, activists warn.

The number of anti-abortion bills making their way through state legislatures has exceeded 200 this week as conservative lawmakers, emboldened by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court, take aim at enacting extreme laws limiting women’s reproductive health.

That’s according to a count by Planned Parenthood Action Fund. And of the 200-plus pieces of anti-abortion legislation pending, about half seek to put harsh limits on the procedure across 30 states.

Among them is a ban on abortions after about the sixth week that South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed Thursday. It outlaws doctors from providing abortion services if they detect a “fetal heartbeat” ― a misleading and medically inaccurate term during those early weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they’re pregnant. 

“This step we take today was long in coming and monumental in consequence. But our battles are not over. Yet I believe that the dawn of victory is upon us,” McMaster said, alluding to the legal challenges certain to tie the legislation up in court.

A similar bill just cleared an Idaho state Senate committee on Tuesday. In Tennessee, Republicans just introduced a bill that would allow fathers to veto an abortion. There are several anti-abortion bills in the works in Texas, including a bizarre attempt to appoint lawyers to fetuses. Florida and Montana lawmakers are pushing an abortion ban after the 20th week of pregnancy. North Dakota, Mississippi and Arizona all introduced bills this session that would categorize abortion as murder, though they’ve all either failed or stalled. 

“Anti-choice politicians in statehouses across the country this legislative session have doubled down on efforts to ban abortion and criminalize both people seeking abortion care and the doctors who provide them that care,” said Kristin Ford, national communications director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. 

Though most pieces of anti-abortion legislation will be tied up in legal challenges before they can take effect, conservative state legislatures appear to be invigorated by the promise of a firmly conservative Supreme Court having the final say. During his single term, President Donald Trump managed to transform the highest court with three appointments, including a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ― a stalwart advocate for women’s reproductive rights ― just weeks before he lost the 2020 election.

Abortion rights activists demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 4, 2020, as the justices hear arguments on a Lo
Abortion rights activists demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 4, 2020, as the justices hear arguments on a Louisiana law restricting abortion access. The court’s strengthened conservative tilt has emboldened more states to try to curb abortion rights.

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What’s really concerning is how far-reaching much of this legislation is, said Elisabeth Smith, the chief counsel for state policy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“While the number of bills we are seeing now is in keeping with recent years, the difference is that the bills have become more extreme. Many states are introducing outright abortion bans,” she said.

There has also been an alarming shift in how legislators approach anti-abortion measures, she said. 

“Lawmakers are now very open about their goal of eliminating abortion access in their state, whereas before, they tried to disguise their motives,” Smith added. “For example, we used to see more bills that saddled abortion clinics with so many regulations that they’d be forced to shut down. Those bills were always passed under the guise of protecting women’s health, but now politicians have dropped the facade. They’re openly and unabashedly trying to ban abortion.”

Ford noted that the timing of these bills is especially sinister. “These lawmakers are blatantly putting their anti-choice ideology before the health, safety and well-being of their constituents during a pandemic.”

Democratic lawmakers in South Carolina made that same argument Wednesday when they walked off the floor during a vote on the six-week abortion limit.

“The Democratic caucus is not going to participate in this farce of a vote about pretend life,” state Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-S.C.) said, referencing some of his colleagues’ refusal to require face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/state-anti-abortion-bills_n_602ea827c5b67c32961c259f?fbclid=IwAR3kRwusVze9nUr0Qk9e9-qZMJapXKhJQ4pjsM0pYhBYvj4fSn-ZWX8EoxQ

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democrat-led Legislature in New Mexico pushed forward Friday to ensure future access to abortions by voting to repeal a dormant ban on most abortion procedures, marking a defiant counterpoint to efforts in some conservative states.

House legislators voted to approve the repeal of the 1969 statute that has gone unenforced since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 1973 the right to an abortion. Left in place, the statute could go back into effect if the high court eventually overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vowed Friday to sign the bill when it reaches her desk in the coming days.ADVERTISEMENT

Abortion bans have been proposed in at least 10 states with Republican-led Legislatures that could test where the current U.S. Supreme Court stands after the appointment of three conservative justices by former President Donald Trump.

In South Carolina, a federal judge on Friday suspended a new law approved just two days earlier that would ban most abortions.

New Mexico is a heavily Roman Catholic state where Democrats control every statewide office, the state Supreme Court and most congressional seats.

Its 52-year-old abortion statute allows medical termination of a pregnancy with permission of a specialized hospital board only in instances of incest, rape reported to police, grave medical risks to the woman and indications of grave medical defects in the fetus.

The law has been dormant since 1973, when the nation’s highest court issued the Roe v. Wade decision, overriding state laws that banned or severely restricted access to abortion procedures.

“With uncertainty at the federal level, New Mexico needs to be clear about women’s rights, women’s health care, women’s reproductive choices, abortion and abortion care,” Lujan Grisham said in a video conference with news media.

Legislative approval came with a 40-30 vote of the House after a three-hour floor debate. The state Senate approved the bill last week with a 25-17 vote. In the House, six Democrats joined with Republicans in opposition.

Supporters of New Mexico’s restrictions on abortions say a repeal would drive valued medical professionals from New Mexico who are conscientious objectors to abortion procedures.

“I think as a state we are making a huge mistake here today,” said Republican state Rep. T. Ryan Lane of Aztec. “We are impacting physicians who have no desire to be a part of these types of elective procedures or even medical procedures.”ADVERTISEMENT

The House deliberations were dominated by pro-abortion rights comments from female legislators who make up a majority of the chamber and the Democratic caucus.

“Should the protections of Roe v. Wade fall or be changed, we won’t go back to the days when I was a teenager and women had to take their chances with unsafe conditions and untrained abortion providers,” said Democratic state Rep. Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces. “Many lost their lives or suffered permanent injury, such as infertility.”

Five Democratic state senators who joined Republicans to keep the abortion law in place in 2019 were ousted from office last year.

Friday’s vote has implications for women who cross state lines for abortions in New Mexico, with out-of-state visitors accounting for 25% of statewide abortions in 2017.

A clinic in Albuquerque is one of only a few independent facilities in the country that performs abortions close to the third trimester without conditions.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-legislature-michelle-lujan-grisham-statutes-us-supreme-court-04c1d5c5bf9fc65176a1d44223756927?utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_medium=AP&fbclid=IwAR2edl-5mffM_1mKUf0TMM0VWVsgY-3UOg5x0MGsAXPI4uuy8dAdQ_U1gRo

The court will take up the abortion “gag rule” and public charge policies, both of which Biden is expected to reverse.

Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will review a pair of Trump-era policies barring federal family planning funds to abortion clinics and limiting immigrants’ use of public benefits, even as the Biden administration signals it’s preparing to roll back those policies.

The justices’ decision to hear a challenge to President Donald Trump’s restrictions on the Title X family planning program, which critics deride as a “gag rule,” could serve as a key test of how the Supreme Court’s newly fortified 6-3 conservative majority will approach abortion. The justices will also weigh the constitutionality of Trump’s so-called “public charge” rule, which expanded the government’s ability to deny green cards or visas for legal immigrants determined to be dependent on public assistance.

President Joe Biden has already ordered the federal government to begin reviewing both policies, likely leading to their reversals — and potentially mooting either case before the justices could review them.

What the court is reviewing: The Trump administration’s curbs on Title X dollars resulted in Planned Parenthood and other clinics in 34 states withdrawing from the $250 million-plus program, which provides birth control and health screenings to low-income women. Though Title X funding can’t be used for abortions because of longstanding federal restrictions, anti-abortion groups argue that federal dollars should be cut off to providers who help terminate a pregnancy.

The policy is in effect in every state but Maryland after lower courts sided with the Trump administration. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is Biden’s pick to lead HHS, led the legal battle against the Title X curbs, along with a group of other blue states and the American Medical Association and reproductive rights groups. If confirmed to the HHS post, he would likely oversee the policy’s reversal.

Under the public charge rule, those using or likely to use Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs would face greater scrutiny from immigration officials. The high court a year ago allowed the policy to take effect as the Covid-19 pandemic began, over the objections of immigrant advocates and Democrats who said it would prompt a steep drop in participation in federal safety net programs among immigrants who fear losing their legal status. The policy was later frozen in lower courts while it underwent further legal review.

Why it matters: Even though Biden is expected to reverse the Trump policies, a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court before that happens could make it easier for future Republican administrations to restore them.

“We are confident the Supreme Court will rule that the Trump administration and future pro-life administrations have the right to disentangle Title X taxpayer funding from the abortion industry,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

Cutting off Title X funding to Planned Parenthood was a major victory for anti-abortion groups allied with the Trump administration, but the women’s health organization receives much funding from Medicaid. Still, reproductive rights groups say the rules have cut an estimated 1.6 million patients off from their free or low-cost care.

Health care groups challenging the Title X cutbacks said they welcomed the Supreme Court’s review of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that supported the Trump administration changes to the program. The policy “continues to bring immense harm to people across the country who depend on affordable reproductive health care,” according to a joint statement from the AMA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other groups.

What’s next: Thecourt is likely to schedule the cases for this spring, and it will take time for the Biden administration to unwind the policies.

The administration hasn’t given a timeline for reversing either policy, and it’s not as simple as wiping them away with an executive order. Both policies would have to be undone through formal rulemaking that meets legal and regulatory requirements. The administration may approach this process even more cautiously with a federal judiciary that’s been made more conservative with more than 200 Trump appointees.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/supreme-court-trump-abortion-immigration-470832?fbclid=IwAR2MKBfDCIW-mnjFEOJYyiwZ3w7GTYFtEpGxXTmCwBDGO6qk0qDvijFNvCI

“I worry about all the young women who face violence at home or homelessness in the streets, those who have become mothers against their will.”

A bill pending in the Illinois House and Senate would eliminate the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which requires all minors to notify a parent, guardian or judge before getting an abortion. 
AP Photos

As an abortion provider, I regularly care for adolescents seeking to end a pregnancy. The teenagers I see are smart, independent and resourceful young women. They know what they want — education, opportunities and a future. They know what they do not want at that point in their lives — a baby.

Most of the young women in my practice involve a parent or trusted adult in their abortion decision. And the younger the teen, the more likely she is to involve an adult. These facts are true in my office and throughout Illinois. Those who do not involve an adult do so with good reason — often because they are survivors of abuse or neglect. Some fear for their safety or the loss of shelter and food if their parents discover their pregnancy or their abortion decision. Others believe they will be forced to continue a pregnancy they did not plan and do not want.


For these adolescents, the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act is a dangerous law that puts them and their personal decisions at risk. Those who cannot inform a parent, step parent, grandparent or guardian are forced to obtain a judicial bypass, to stand before a judge, prove their maturity and justify their abortion decision.

My adolescent patients who choose to seek a judicial bypass are not only strong, independent and resourceful, but above all brave.

I cared for a teen who feared she would be the victim of an honor killing at the hands of religious family members for engaging in premarital sex. I cared for a teen who took two buses and a train from the suburbs to go to court. She feared she would be kicked out of the house if her parents knew she was pregnant. I cared for a teen being raised by a strict single father who feared an even more strained relationship if her pregnancy were revealed.

These young women went through the complex judicial bypass process to have an abortion without notifying a parent or guardian. These young women were able to navigate the system with grace and poise. But they shouldn’t have to.

When I care for adolescents who have been to court, I tell them how brave they are, how proud they should be of their strength and perseverance. But these are not the young women I worry about, the young women who keep me up at night. I worry about all those who are unable to come forward because of the parental notice requirement. I worry about all the young women who never get to court, those who face violence at home or homelessness in the streets, those that have become mothers against their will. We owe our young people so much more. In fact, abortion is their right.

And consider the rights pregnant and parenting teenagers have at any age. They have the right to consent for any surgical procedure other than abortion — a cesarean section, an appendectomy or open heart surgery for a newborn son or daughter. Why, then, does abortion require a higher level of parental involvement? If Illinois teens are mature enough to make other medical decisions for themselves and their children, the parental notice requirement serves only to limit the bodily autonomy of Illinois teens.

I am a doctor, but I am also the mother of two teenage daughters. Of course I want my daughters to come to me if they face an unintended and undesired pregnancy. But my children are not in danger and would not be in danger if they were pregnant and seeking abortion. When thinking about the cruelty of this law, we must think beyond our own children and consider those in jeopardy.

We must repeal Illinois’ dangerous Parental Notice of Abortion.

Source: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/2/15/22284555/illinois-parental-notice-of-abortion-act-dr-allison-cowett?fbclid=IwAR3TTqhIhrjeCk28tCIdQ8Ll7Ix41N7un9XxN1eiE6Y8VXNXjikwwT9VzNs

Spousal consent laws that give anyone veto power over someone else’s pregnancy decisions are unequivocally unconstitutional.

This isn’t anti-abortion lawmakers’ first attempt at handing the abortion decision-making power over to cis men. Similar bills have popped up over the years in Oklahoma and Missouri.
 Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Comparisons between today’s political climate and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are frankly overwrought. The realities of Gilead are already very much the realities for many marginalized communities in the United States, and we don’t need some fictionalized society to remind us that the powers that be are horny for the subjugation of women.

But every once in a while, some anti-abortion politician does something that’s almost too on the nose in its Gilead-like quality—the kind of scenario that would feel heavy-handed if it were scripted.

Spousal consent laws for abortion are that kind of scenario. Just ask lawmakers in Tennessee.

Last week, state assembly members introduced a bill that would give men who get someone pregnant veto power over the pregnant person’s abortion. And if the pregnant person goes ahead with that abortion anyway? They could be held in criminal or civil contempt of court. There are no exceptions for rape or incest—because what could be more pro-life than that?

Laws like this are unequivocally unconstitutional. And sure, it’s annoying that anti-abortion lawmakers keep trying with these draconian laws, over and over and over. But the good news for abortion providers and patients is that means there are decades of precedent in place to ensure such laws will never pass constitutional muster.

In 1976—just a few years after Roe v. Wade was decided—the Supreme Court struck down a spousal consent law in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, arguing that such a provision was unconstitutional because the state cannot delegate veto power for abortion to anyone but the pregnant person and their physician. The Supreme Court affirmed this ruling again in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the 1992 case in which the Court created the “undue burden” standard, which is still used today to determine which abortion restrictions are constitutional and which are not.

This makes sense, right? But while the Supreme Court has long struck down spousal consent and notification laws, young people seeking abortion have not been so lucky in the eyes of the law.Giving anyone veto power over someone else’s pregnancy decisions is overtly dystopian, no matter how old the pregnant person is.

Both Danforth and Casey contained parental consent laws. In Danforth, the Supreme Court found the law to be unconstitutional. But in 1979, the Court ruled that parental involvement laws for abortion could be constitutional, in the landmark decision Bellotti v. Baird. While the Court in Baird agreed that it was unconstitutional to give veto power to anyone other than the pregnant person, it allowed for a workaround: a judicial bypass. The Court said parental involvement laws could be deemed constitutional as long as they allowed young people the option to seek consent from a judge if they didn’t want to go to a parent.

Over a decade later, the Court affirmed this ruling in Casey, upholding a parental consent law with a judicial bypass provision and setting the precedent that such laws are not an undue burden.

But here’s the thing—parental involvement laws are, in a word, bullshit.

Decades of research show that the vast majority of young people consult a parent before having an abortion, regardless of the law. That number gets even higher the younger the teen is: Over 90 percent of young people age 14 and below consult a parent before having an abortion.

What’s more, virtually all—yes, 99 percent—of young people consult a trusted adult outside of clinic staff before having an abortion: someone like an older sibling, a trusted neighbor, or a teacher.

For young people who can consult a parent, these laws are essentially a moot point. For young people who don’t have the safety or support required to involve a parent in their abortion decision, these laws can be catastrophic.

For young people living with abuse, in poverty, or with another kind of marginalization, parental involvement laws are at best a harmful barrier. At worst, they can mean the difference between accessing abortion and being forced to carry a pregnancy to term.

And judicial bypass is not the functional workaround the court deemed it to be. Bypass hearings involve a judge determining if a minor is mature enough to make the abortion decision alone. If the judge decides the minor is not, they have to decide if an abortion would be in the minor’s best interest. Bypass hearings are an often dehumanizing and terrifying ordeal—forcing young people to go to court and lay bare what can be an intensely personal decision. They are also logistical nightmares: Young people have to take off school and find transportation to and from court, all without their parents finding out. Research shows that using judicial bypass delays abortion access, which is even more critical for young people who tend to detect their pregnancies later.

Despite all that, parental involvement laws enjoy support from both sides of the aisle and are among the most common abortion restrictions in the nation—over 35 states have some form of parental involvement law in place. But they are as useless and harmful as any garden variety abortion ban.

The bottom line: Consent laws are consent laws are consent laws, whether they grant veto power to a spouse, or a parent, or a judge. Giving anyone veto power over someone else’s pregnancy decisions is overtly dystopian, no matter how old the pregnant person is.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/02/20/tennessee-republicans-want-men-to-veto-abortions/?fbclid=IwAR0MVJkfIjmxF5beilEwkW8vp-5QwSu82P5372_xzOW_oNUNHnUc4ONMs9w

President Biden can call on Congress to pass the Global HER Act, so future presidents do not reinstate the harmful global “gag rule.”

While President Joe Biden has rescinded the global “gag rule” and has moved to fund the United Nations Population Fund, which Trump defunded, his administration still has yet to use the word abortion.
 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Those of us who struggle for reproductive rights were relieved late last month when President Joe Biden, like every recently sworn-in Democratic president since Bill Clinton, issued an executive action rescinding the global “gag rule.” The gag rule is an executive action originally issued by Ronald Reagan—and reinstated by every newly sworn-in Republican president after him—that prohibits U.S. funding for foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provide abortion services, offer referrals for them, or otherwise advocate for access to them.

Former President Trump expanded the gag rule to apply to all U.S. global health aid, not just U.S. family planning assistance. Moreover, Trump’s version of the policy extended to not only all foreign recipients of U.S. global health funding, but any abortion-access-supporting organization that receives financial help from one of those U.S.-funded foreign NGOs.

Most presidents take action on the global gag rule on Inauguration Day, so there was concern among the reproductive rights community when Biden waited over a week to issue the memorandum. Those worries had been intensified on Inauguration Day evening when White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in her first press conference, alluded to Biden’s Catholic faith in an opaque response to a question from a right-wing Catholic journalist about the gag rule.

There were hints that Biden might be irresolute on reproductive rights even before the election. The word abortion was not uttered once at the Democratic National Convention, and the event featured a benediction from a Catholic priest who prayed for “the unborn child in the womb.”

After Biden’s election, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced at their annual meeting that they would create a special “working group” to address “the difficult and complex” situation that has arisen with a Catholic president who supports policies that are against church teaching.

Biden’s positions on abortion, gender, and same-sex marriage “creates confusion with the faithful about what the church actually teaches on these questions,” Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said at the time. The archbishop wrote an open letter to Biden on January 20 reiterating his concerns. And there has been a spirited and uncharacteristically public debate among bishops over whether Biden, who attends Mass faithfully, should be denied communion for his pro-choice position.

Is all of this pressure impinging on Biden’s commitment to ensuring abortion rights? The answer remains unclear. While Biden has rescinded the gag rule and has moved to fund the United Nations Population Fund, which Trump defunded, his administration still has yet to use the word abortion, including in a statement on the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

As the president of Catholics for Choice, an organization that represents the 60 percent of Catholics in the United States who believe abortion should be legal, I encourage President Biden to appeal to the Catholic social justice tradition as he discerns how to move forward with protecting reproductive freedom in his policies both at home and abroad.

Biden has consistently connected his care for the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable to his Catholic faith. As a longtime champion of women’s rights and the rights of marginalized people, Biden surely understands that policies like the global gag rule, the Hyde Amendment, and the Helms Amendment inflict disproportionate suffering on the poorest of the poor, those afflicted by illness related to reproductive health, those in rural areas with limited resources, and those who find themselves in states of profound powerlessness.Biden must use his conscience and his commitment to human rights … by acknowledging that abortion access is a Catholic social justice value and working to improve access to it.

The global gag rule is a catastrophe for human rights. Not only does it lead to more unplanned pregnancies, more unsafe abortions, and higher rates of maternal mortality, it puts millions of people around the world—primarily poor women—at fatal risk because they receive other lifesaving health care from these same organizations that lose U.S. funding for ensuring pregnant people have access to reproductive health care. Overturning this policy is a matter of life or death for the countless women and people of marginalized genders who are desperately poor, sick, and sick-unto-death because they were not given access to basic reproductive health care and were denied the ability to make reproductive health decisions for themselves and their families.

President Biden has dissented from Catholic teaching on issues related to marriage equality, transgender rights, and contraception because he realizes that the church’s teachings on these topics do not reflect the church’s greater call to justice, equality, and human dignity. He must use his conscience and his commitment to human rights in the same way by acknowledging that abortion access is a Catholic social justice value and working to improve access to it.

As someone formed by Catholic education, Biden should hold in his heart two fundamental Catholic teachings in his approach to abortion rights. The first is the primacy of conscience, which teaches that Catholics must use their reason and individual consciences in all moral decision-making. The second is the Catholic belief in a preferential option for the poor, which states that caring for the well-being of the most disadvantaged must be our first priority. Access to abortion care is deeply intertwined with and exacerbated by systemic racism, economic insecurity, and immigration status. For these reasons, we ask Biden to prioritize protecting abortion access as part of these other priorities identified by his administration.

He can do this by calling for Congress to pass the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act. Because every Democratic administration has rescinded the global gag rule, and every subsequent Republican administration after Reagan has reinstated it, White House turnovers put millions of people around the world into extraordinary risk of egregious suffering and death. Passing the Global HER Act would enshrine protections in federal law for U.S.-funded reproductive health care by foreign NGOs, so that future presidents could not reinstate the gag rule with an executive action. Millions of lives would be saved with this legislation. It would, indeed, protect the sanctity of life.

At Catholics for Choice, we understand that abortion can be a complex moral issue. But perpetuating the U.S. bishops’ strategy of making abortion a taboo topic only exacerbates the harmful stigma the church has attached to it for far too long. As one of the tens of millions of U.S. Catholics who supports abortion rights, Biden has the opportunity to demonstrate to this deeply divided country that people of faith not only can support abortion rights, they do so as an expression of a commitment to justice that is grounded in their religious belief.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/02/15/theres-reason-for-hope-for-global-abortion-access/


The Democratic congresswomen of the House Oversight Committee are putting pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to lift the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone—a prescription medication that’s used to safely end early pregnancies in the United States. During the coronavirus pandemic, safe access to medication abortion is more important than ever, but being required to obtain the medication in person places a burden on individuals. Below, Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Committee Member Ayanna Pressley explain how onerous these restrictions really are and urge the FDA to lift them immediately.

For more than two decades, people in the United States have taken mifepristone to safely end their pregnancies. But despite a thoroughly documented history of safe use, this medication remains subject to burdensome, medically unnecessary restrictions—including the requirement that it be dispensed in person. For too long, this has created barriers for people seeking access to medication abortion care.

During the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities across the United States, these restrictions have put people seeking reproductive health care and medical providers in harm’s way. Under these restrictions, someone seeking an abortion would be forced to go into a doctor’s office, risking coronavirus exposure. They would also need to potentially take off work, seek childcare, and travel to attend their appointment. These restrictions take economic privilege to overcome and further entrench long standing health inequities. 

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, the FDA decided to ease in-person dispensing requirements for several medications because of the risk they posed for patients. However, one glaring omission was mifepristone. Of the more than 20,000 drugs the FDA regulates, mifepristone is the only drug the FDA requires patients to obtain in person at a hospital, clinic, or medical office, but does not restrict the ability of patients to self-administer—unsupervised—at home or at a location of their choosing.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the leading nonpartisan organization of OB-GYNs in the United States, in-person dispensing requirements for mifepristone “have no medical basis, provide no patient benefit, and unnecessarily restrict access to care.”

Since it was approved in 2000, more than four million people in the United States have used mifepristone. Data shows that fewer than one-tenth of one percent of patients who take mifepristone experience major adverse medical events. Because there is no medical reason to require patients to obtain mifepristone in person, and because drugs with greater risks are exempt from similar requirements, mifepristone’s in-person dispensing requirement is a thinly veiled attempt to stigmatize safe, simple abortion care.

While abortion remains a legal right under the Constitution, it has become a nearly impossible right for some people—mostly poor, marginalized individuals—to exercise.

In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Caseythe Supreme Court held that the government may restrict abortion access so long as doing so does not place an “undue burden” on the pregnant person. The concept of “undue burden” has left it unclear how many restrictions are too many, and this ruling has allowed those who oppose abortion to weaponize restrictions with the goal of taking us back to pre-Roe times.

As a result, abortion access has been steadily whittled down by anti-choice politicians for decades. And while abortion remains a legal right under the Constitution, it has become a nearly impossible right for some people—mostly poor, marginalized individuals—to exercise.

woman holding sign that reads "protect safe, legal abortion"

Protesters in St. Louis, Missouri, in May 2019.SAUL LOEBGETTY IMAGES

Last summer, following a lawsuit led by ACOG, a federal court in Maryland ordered FDA to suspend the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone during the coronavirus pandemic, as it had for other drugs. But the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene, and last month the Supreme Court granted the administration’s request to reinstate the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone.

In a dissenting opinion to this decision, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan pointed out that maintaining the FDA’s in-person requirements for mifepristone during the coronavirus pandemic “imposes an unnecessary, irrational, and unjustifiable undue burden on women seeking to exercise their right to choose.” The two wrote: “The FDA’s in-person requirements for mifepristone have now been suspended for six months, yet the Government has not identified a single harm experienced by women who have obtained mifepristone by mail or delivery.” 

In short: There are no medical reasons for the mifepristone restrictions, only ideological ones. And in light of the danger this requirement poses to people seeking medication abortion care at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the FDA must immediately lift the unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement. Abortion is health care and should not be further siloed and stigmatized in our policy. We are committed to working with our colleagues to continue to fight to protect and expand access to safe, legal abortion care now and through the future.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney represents New York’s 12th congressional district in the House of Representatives and chairs the Committee on Oversight and Reform. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley represents Massachusetts’s 7th congressional district in the House of Representatives, sits on the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and is a Task Force Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus.

Source: https://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/a35534458/fda-restrictions-medication-abortion/

Texas Rep. Scott Sanford’s “lawyers for fetuses” bill is as ludicrous as you might imagine. What if a fetus doesn’t want to be born?

Last month, Texas Rep. Scott Sanford introduced the “lawyers for fetuses” bill, which would allow a court to appoint an attorney to represent the “unborn child” during the judicial bypass proceeding.
 Collin County Votes/YouTube

If you are a pregnant minor living in Texas and you want to get an abortion, you might have to go to court and be cross-examined by your fetus’ attorney.

Yes, you read me correctly—your fetus’ attorney. Try not to pass out at the sheer absurdity of it all while I explain.

Texas is one of 36 states that require a pregnant minor who wishes to get an abortion without involving a parent or guardian to go through judicial bypass, a process that involves going to a judge for a court order.

The judicial bypass procedure is absurd on its own, consisting of a hearing before a judge who will ask the minor a bunch of questions to determine whether they are mature enough to decide to get an abortion on their own. If the court determines that, no, this child is not mature enough to decide to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, then it will decide that the child is, apparently, mature enough to be a parent—or at least to give birth, if the child decides to give the baby up for adoption.

This process is bizarre enough without adding a layer of sheer nonsense. But that’s what state Rep. Scott Sanford, who introduced the “lawyers for fetuses” bill last month, is trying to do: to turn an already pain-in-the-ass process into a ludicrous exercise by allowing a court to appoint an attorney to represent the “unborn child” during the judicial bypass proceeding.

I have questions.

How is this representation supposed to work exactly? Usually when attorneys represent a client, they meet with the client to ensure that they are actually representing the client’s interests rather than what the attorney thinks the client’s interests should be. How is an attorney supposed to meet with the “unborn child”? How is that “unborn child” supposed to instruct the attorney regarding the scope of the attorney-client relationship? What if the “unborn child” wishes to remain that way—unborn? How is the attorney supposed to know? Are attorneys supposed to just presume that every fetus wants to be born? What if the fetus were aware that being born might lead to a life of poverty? Or that it’s being born to a minor who doesn’t have the resources or maturity to care for it? What if the unborn child doesn’t want to be put up for adoption?

How is the attorney supposed to glean this information? By way of educated guess? Does the lawyer yell into the pregnant minor’s belly button and hold up a glass to their belly in hopes of hearing a response?

Besides, I know people who had difficult upbringings who have remarked that their mother never should have had them. What is the remedy for the child who feels this way? The law doesn’t provide them one. Indeed, the Texas law provides immunity for the attorney appointed for the fetus as long as the attorney acts in good faith. But how do we even know what good faith is? It seems to me that Rep. Sanford is making a lot of presumptions about the wants and desires of a fetus that cannot speak for itself.

This “lawyers for fetuses” trend is not new.

Just two years ago in Alabama, a probate judge appointed the would-be father of a fetus, Ryan Magers, as the fetus’ legal representative so that Magers could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the abortion clinic that provided abortion care to his ex-girlfriend. That case was ultimately dismissed.

In 2014, Alabama passed a law that not only permitted a judge to appoint a lawyer for the fetus, but also expressly permitted the prosecuting district attorney—and in some instances even the minor’s parents—to cross-examine the minor and to oppose the request for an abortion. The law actually permitted the minor’s parents to participate in the proceedings, which obviates the entire purpose of the judicial bypass: permitting a minor to get an abortion without notifying their parent. The law also permitted disclosure to other people in the minor’s life, including their teachers, employers, and friends, and even permitted the district attorney to call those people to testify in court. (The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s law, and a district court blocked the law, ruling that it violated a pregnant minor’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion without the involvement of their parents or legal guardian.)

And before that, as Molly Redden reported in Mother Jones, state court judges in Alabama had been appointing lawyers for fetuses for years. One such judge, Walter Mark Anderson III, appointed anti-choice advocate and attorney Julian McPhillips to represent fetuses in dozens of judicial bypass proceedings in his court through the 1990s and 2000s.

Consider this exchange published in Mother Jones between McPhillips and a 17-year-old girl who sought an abortion. McPhillips cross-examines the girl on behalf of her fetus—which he creepily dubbed “Baby Ashley”:

MCPHILLIPS: You say that you are aware that God instructed you not to kill your own baby, but you want to do it anyway? And are you saying here today that notwithstanding everything that you want to interfere with God’s plan for your baby?
MINOR: I think that is between me and God.
MCPHILLIPS: And you are not concerned after you have had the abortion that some day you may wake up and say my gosh, what have I done to my own baby?
MINOR: It may happen.
MCPHILLIPS: You are not worried about being haunted by this? Here you have the chance to save the life of your own baby … And still you want to go ahead and snuff out the life of your own baby?

What, I ask you, the fuck?

After the court granted the parental consent waiver in the Baby Ashley case, McPhillips tried to appeal the decision, but the court ruled that a fetus couldn’t appeal. And why should they be able to appeal? It makes no sense to appoint a lawyer to a fetus in the first place.

Texas’ proposed law does not seem to be as hostile as Alabama’s; it doesn’t expressly permit the fetus’s lawyer to cross-examine the pregnant minor and treat them like an accused criminal.

But it doesn’t exclude the possibility either.

Legal proceedings are inherently adversarial in nature. An attorney appointed to represent the interests of the fetus that a pregnant minor is carrying will necessarily be adversarial to the minor who is trying to terminate that attorney’s client. Just saying it out loud reveals the absolute absurdity.

Simply put, allowing a pregnancy to have its day in court is preposterous. And it’s just another way that Texas legislators are trying to make abortion inaccessible.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/ablc/2021/02/16/texas-thinks-your-fetus-needs-a-lawyer/?fbclid=IwAR3gauWllY2PJija4WpwaIfgimtU-ngRWWikjRlUgCGYbWOdV24wwXgrDk8

A bill that would likely ban almost all abortions in South Carolina has moved closer to final approval

The Associated Press
Melissa Anne “Mac” Cunningham-Sereque shows the wand used to do ultrasound on pregnant women during a South Carolina House subcommittee hearing on an abortion bill on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. The bill would outlaw almost all abortions in the state. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A proposal that would likely ban almost all abortions in South Carolina moved closer Tuesday to final approval in a committee vote split along party lines.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 15-8 to pass the “ South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act.” The bill has already passed the Senate and the governor promises he will sign it, although the law is likely to be the subject of lengthy court battles before it could take effect.

The proposal would require doctors to use an ultrasound to try to detect a fetal heartbeat if they think pregnant women are at least eight weeks along. If they find a heartbeat, and the pregnancy is not the result of rape or incest, they can’t perform the abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger.

A fetal heartbeat can be detected as soon as six weeks after conception and before many women know they are pregnant.

About a dozen other states have passed similar bills, although they are tied up in court challenges. The main sponsor of the bill, Rep. John McCravy, R-Greenwood, said during his explanation of the bill he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn its 1973 abortion rights decision because of recent conservative justices added by former President Donald Trump.

“The Constitution in our nation has devolved into whatever nine justices say it means,” McCravy said.

Numerous public hearings have been held about the bill over the past several years, but GOP lawmakers plan no more public testimony on it.

Republicans stayed mostly quiet after explaining the bill, allowing several Democrats to speak.

“This is an issue we should not be legislating,” said Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia. “It’s a decision that needs to be made between a woman, her family and her doctor.”

Democrats unsuccessfully tried to change the bill. Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill, proposed amendments that the state would “assume full financial responsibility” for a child if the mother is denied an abortion, calling it “truly pro-life.”

Another failed amendment said if the proposal became law it would only be enforced if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds similar laws in other states. Both failed on party-line votes.

A third amendment would have allowed pregnant women and the fathers of their babies to carry guns openly to protect their fetuses. That also did not pass.

Democrats made arguments that Republicans don’t care enough about children after they were born. They also questioned the constitutionality of the bill and components of the proposal, like how the state would handle requiring doctors to show the ultrasound to visually impaired women.

“According to this bill, the doctor shall ask the woman if he wants to hear the heartbeat. So I guess we’ll have to train our doctors in sign language,” said Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg.

Democrats said the bill would require an invasive ultrasound to be able to hear a potential heartbeat so early in a pregnancy instead of one on the outside of a woman’s belly. To illustrate the point, Bamberg held up a wand used internally as he spoke, but Republicans questioned that argument.

“I can find that nowhere in the bill whatsoever,” said Rep. Weston Newton, R-Bluffton. “I want to make sure we are factually considering what was offered as opinion.”

Tuesday’s discussion in the committee meeting is likely a preview of the debate that will take place on the House floor later this month.

Some Democratic representatives plan amendments to try to stall passage as long as possible, Republicans will likely try to avoid any changes to the bill which could send it back to the Senate, where it had been tripped up for years prior to 2021.

The full House passed a similar bill 70-31 in 2019.

Republicans were able finally to get the proposal through the South Carolina Senate after flipping three seats from Democrats in the 2020 elections.

Democratic Rep. Cezar McKnight told lawmakers South Carolina had a lot more pressing issues including improving education, finding a way to make life better for poor children and increasing the budget of the Department of Social Services to help families.

“We’ll do everything we can when they are in the womb, but after that it is survival of the fittest,” the Democrat from Kingstree said.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/sc-house-committee-considers-ban-abortions-75769395?fbclid=IwAR1SqrkEOq5MopihbOs2bWvxsw0AA4CZ6LeF9h9nHdep7Oa8_V-VYWJOEfA

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