Published: Mon, 23 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500
Last Build Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:15:34 -0500
Mon, 23 Jan 2017 15:00:00 -0500On his first Monday in office, Donald Trump signed executive orders instituting a hiring freeze for all federal government positions outside the military and reinstating a ban on international aid going to nonprofits that provide abortions or promote information on them, regardless of what other services they offer. The contentious abortion rule represents a back and forth that's been taking place under Republican and Democratic administrations since the 1980s. Known as the "Mexico City Policy," it was instituted under President Ronald Reagan, reversed by Bill Clinton, restored by George W. Bush, and again reversed by Barack Obama. Not to be confused with the 1973 Helms Amendment, which bans groups from using U.S. government funds directly for abortion services abroad, the Mexico City Policy targets broader conduct, requiring that "as a condition of their receipt of federal funds," groups must agree to "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations." A diverse group of more than 100 public health, women's issues, and civil liberties organizations have already issued a statement opposing the return of the Mexico City Policy, which they refer to as "the global gag rule." "The global gag rule ... interferes with the doctor-patient relationship by restricting medical information healthcare providers may offer, limits free speech by prohibiting local citizens from participating in public policy debates, and impedes women's access to family planning by cutting off funding for many of the most experienced health care providers who chose to prioritize quality reproductive-health services and counseling over funding that restricts care and censors information," it says. Groups endorsing the statement include the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Amnesty International USA, the National Organization for Women, the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking, the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation, the International Medical Corps, New York University's Global Justice Clinic,and Human Rights Campaign. The Mexico City Policy is one of several federal aid conditions that have been contingent on controversial social issues. Since 2003, the U.S. has banned groups that get grants to fight HIV/AIDs and/or human trafficking from supporting the decriminalization of prostitution. Referred to as the anti-prostitution pledge, the policy was proposed for anti-HIV groups as part of Bush's "Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief," passed by Congress in May 2003 as the "United States Leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act." It stipulated that no grant money could be used "to promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or sex trafficking" nor to "provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking." The anti-prostitution pledge was also part of the bipartisan 2003 reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), which stated that no federal money "may be used to promote, support, or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution" and no funds "may be used to implement any program" by an organization that "has not stated in either a grant application, a grant agreement, or both, that it does not promote, support, or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution." Many public-health and human-rights groups opposed these policies on the grounds that decriminalizing prostitution is often supported as a means to stop the spread of sexually-transmitted infections and sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion. The pledge was initially applied only to foreign nonprofits, but in 2005 the Bush administration began applying it to U.S. groups, too. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the part of the pledge requiring anti-HIV/AIDs groups to explicitly denounce prostitution was unconstitutional as it violated the First Amendment. "This case ... is about compelling a grant recipient to adopt a particular belief [...]
Tue, 17 Jan 2017 16:24:00 -0500The Women's March on Washington bills itself as a big-tent rally for anyone "who believes women's rights are human rights." Scheduled for the day after Donald Trump's inauguration as president, the Women's March goal, according to its website, is "bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation's capital on January 21, 2017, to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination." But recent actions by Women's March organizers suggest this tribute to inclusivity is little more than lip-service. A statement of "Unity Principles" for the march formerly professed to "stand in solidarity with sex workers' rights movements." But as Kate McGrew first pointed out Tuesday, this line has since been removed from the Women's March platform. In its place, the platform now promises to stand in solidarity "with all those exploited for sex and labor." The switch makes clear that the Women's March now only stands with people exploited for sex, not those abused and exploited by the state for having sex. If you're a victim, Big Feminism is with you. If not, well... what do you think this is, a movement respectful of women's agency or something? Update: Late Tuesday afternoon, the Women's March updated its position on sex-worker rights once again. (See screenshots of all three versions here.) The latest version of principles on the Women's March website states: We stand in solidarity with the sex workers' rights movement. We recognize that exploitation for sex and labor in all forms is a violation of human rights. Women's March organizers did not provide a reason for the change, did not respond to my request for comment Tuesday, and did not respond to the multiple people tweeting @WomensMarch for clarification. On Monday, however, the organization was quick to put out a press release when it came under fire for allowing an anti-abortion group, New Wave Feminists, to sign on as one of hundreds of official partners. News of the group's inclusion spread after The Atlantic published an article about anti-abortion advocates at the Women's March. Some would be there to protest abortion, the article noted, while others were just "looking for solidarity. Many pro-life women felt just as outraged as pro-choice women about Donald Trump's conduct and comments," it said. Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, the leader of New Wave Feminists, has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump. She told Slate's Ruth Graham that she viewed the Women's March as a way for "a strong, united female voice to say 'we're watching you and we're holding you accountable,'" and that her group was "really excited to be included in that voice." https://t.co/Rn6myKjRSD Nope, you cannot be anti-choice and feminist. Forcing birth on unwilling women is a misogynist act. — Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte) January 16, 2017 But many Women's March participants and publicists weren't so excited to share in anti-Trump pro-woman solidarity with those who don't identify as pro-choice. "Horrified that the @womensmarch has partnered w/an anti-choice org," tweeted Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti, author of several books about feminism, on Monday afternoon. "Plse reconsider - inclusivity is not about bolstering those who harm us." Other prominent writers and activists in the progressive-feminist sphere shared similar sentiments. Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda. That's not how it works! The right to choose is a fundamental part of feminism. — roxane gay (@rgay) January 16, 2017 By late afternoon, Women's March organizers had issued an official statement, noting that "the anti-choice organization in question" was no longer an official partner and that they were only "marching on behalf of individuals who share the view that women deserve the right to make their own reproductive decisions." That's right: anything less than complete agreement about abortion and the group doesn't even want you participating in the rally. Nevermind i[...]
Wed, 11 Jan 2017 04:00:00 -0500
(image) An Alberta judge has ruled that the city of Grande Prairie did not violate the free speech rights of an anti-abortion group when it banned their ads from transit buses. The ads featured photos of fetuses and read "Abortion kills children. End the killing." The judge said the ads could traumatize women who have had abortions or who plan to have one.
Fri, 06 Jan 2017 11:45:00 -0500
(image) This week marks the end of the House of Representatives panel looking into fetal-tissue procurement by U.S. research companies. Using tissue from aborted fetuses for medical research is legal in America, though profiting off the sale of said tissue is illegal. Despite a 15-months-long investigation into Planned Parenthood practices regarding tissue from aborted fetuses, the now-disbanded Select Investigative Panel could not show that the nonprofit health-care conglomerate made a profit off of fetal-tissue provided to researchers.
The panel's final report suggests that fetal-tissue procurement companies DV Biologicas and StemExpress may have violated this no-profit mandate, but the most it said about Planned Parenthood was that one of its hundreds of clinics, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, "may have violated both Texas Law and U.S. Law when it sold fetal tissue to the University of Texas" by using an imprecise or unapproved method of determining reimbursement costs. The matter was referred to the Texas Attorney General's Office.
Still, the panel recommended that Planned Parenthood be barred from accepting Medicare patients going forward (a move Republicans have misleadingly described as "defunding" Planned Parenthood) and that the National Institutes of Health stop funding fetal tissue research. "Human fetal tissue research makes a vanishingly small contribution to clinical and research efforts," the panel's final 413-page report states.
But as Science writer Meredith Wadman points out, several key statements used to support the assertion that the impact of fetal-tissue research has been negligent are wholly and demonstrably false.
Wadman, a veteran science journalist with a medical degree from the University of Oxford, dissected three of these false claims yesterday, starting with the statement that "in over 100 years of unrestricted clinical research, human fetal tissue has failed to provide a single medical treatment."
In fact, "several important medicines now on the market were created using fetal tissue," notes Wadman. "Amgen's Enbrel battles rheumatoid arthritis; Genentech's Pulmozyme helps children with cystic fibrosis clear the thick mucus that clogs their lungs; and Nuwiq, made by Octapharma, treats boys and men with hemophilia, a life-threatening bleeding disorder."
Equally untrue: the Congressional panel's claim that "none of the nearly 75 vaccine formulations currently licensed in the United States is produced using human fetal tissue."
In reality, "the WI-38 and MRC-5 cell lines, derived from two fetuses that were aborted, respectively, in 1962 in Sweden and in 1966 in the United Kingdom, are used to produce" quite a few vaccines that are licensed and marketed in the U.S., notes Wadman. These include vaccines for rabies, chicken pox, shingles, Hepatitis A, polio, rubella, and the adenovirus, produced by pharmaceutical companies including Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi-Pasteur.
Along these same lines, the report's claim that "human fetal tissue has never been used to make the polio vaccine" is inccorect. Swedish scientists used fetal cells to develop and propagate polio vaccines in the 1950s; Yugoslavia did so in the 1960s; and U.S. polio vaccines made by Pfizer in the 1970s were derived from fetal-cell lines. French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur still uses polio vaccines derived from cells from an aborted fetus.
Tue, 03 Jan 2017 09:30:00 -0500
(image) President-elect Donald Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 case affirming a right to legal abortion across America. If it happens, it won't be a popular move. According to a new poll from the Pew Research Center, less than one-third of Americans think that Roe should be overturned.
In the Pew poll, conducted November 30 through December 5, 2016, just 28 percent of respondents said they hoped the historic ruling would be history, while 69 percent—including a majority of Republicans—said the Supreme Court should leave Roe alone. Among Democrats or Democratic-leaning respondents, 84 percent said they did not want to see Roe overturned, while 53 percent of Republican respondents agreed.
Among respondents who described themselves as "moderate" or "liberal" Republicans, only 27 percent supported overturning Roe, ccompared to 57 percent of those who described themselves as "conservative" Republicans.
"Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago," Pew notes. In January 2013, 63 percent said that Roe should not be overturned. In 2003, it was 62 percent and, in 1992, just 60 percent.
Republican opinion remains little-changed since 1992, when 52 percent of GOP respondents told Pew they support Roe v. Wade. At that time, just 66 percent of Democrats said the same.
Men were slightly more likely to support overturning Roe than were women (30 percent, versus 26 percent). And contra claims that America is getting less pro-choice, those age 50 or older were more likely than their younger counterparts to say Roe should go (33 percent, versus 24 percent).
Education was also associated with a divide on Roe, with 35 percent of respondents who had a high-school education or less saying it should be overturned but just 23 percent of those with a college degree and 12 percent of those with a post-graduate degree saying so. And while Catholic and Protestant support for overturning Roe was roughly equal—34 percent and 35 percent, respectively—nearly half of white, evangelical Protestants said they think Roe should be overturned.
Thu, 22 Dec 2016 00:01:00 -0500In the presidential campaign, no issue separated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton more starkly than abortion. He promised to ban it after the 20-week mark of a pregnancy and appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. She vowed to protect "the right to safe and legal abortions" against all challenges. With Republicans in control of Congress and most state governments, expect numerous battles on this front. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a relative moderate in the GOP presidential primaries, just signed a bill largely banning the procedure after the 20th week of a pregnancy, with no exception for cases of rape or incest. Seventeen other states have similar laws, two of which have been struck down by federal courts. But pro-life people shouldn't get their hopes too high. Trump would need at least one more Supreme Court vacancy (besides the one left by Antonin Scalia's death) to have any hope of reversing Roe—and his arrival in the White House will provide reason enough for every liberal justice to stay. Nor would the demise of Roe mean a nationwide ban on abortion. It would only allow states to make their own decisions. In that event, it would most likely remain legal in some 20 states, including California, New York, Illinois, Florida and Washington. Women in states with abortion bans could travel to those places—or Canada—to end their pregnancies. Activist groups would help poor women do so. Medicines that induce abortion would surely be available on the black market, as recreational drugs are. As in the days before Roe, some women would seek out medical professionals providing illegal abortions or even try to self-induce, despite the risks. If the goal is to reduce the number of abortions, legal restrictions are of minimal value. By raising the cost and effort required for women to end their pregnancies, such laws would prevent some from doing so. But the reduction would most likely be small. Making much difference in abortion rates requires a different approach. Abortion is an intractable issue because it involves an irreconcilable conflict between two supreme values: protection of life on one side and personal freedom and physical autonomy on the other. But it's not impossible to uphold both. Hillary Clinton was onto something when she said in 2008 that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare—and by 'rare,' I mean rare." What is needed is a recognition by pro-choice people that there is something awful about destroying a fetus and a recognition by pro-life people that there is something terrible about depriving a woman of control of her body. Such understanding might impel the two sides to look for ways to prevent both horrors. Katie Watson, a professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, notes that "45 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned—and 42 percent of unplanned pregnancies are terminated with abortions." One obvious way to bring down the abortion rate is to give women ready access to contraception. This, alas, is where the Republican Party's concern for life collides with its contempt for Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act mandates that health insurance providers, including Medicaid, offer 18 different types of birth control, from the pill to sterilization, at no cost to the patient. Repealing that rule would almost certainly mean more pregnancies terminated. We know contraception can curb abortion. Between 2008 and 2011, reports the Guttmacher Institute, the unintended pregnancy rate dropped by 12 percent—and the abortion rate fell by 13 percent. Behind the declines was the growing use of long-acting contraceptives (IUDs and implants), which are exceptionally reliable. How reliable? "Comparable to tubal ligation," says Watson. Republican politicians want not only to scrap Obamacare but also to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood—which provides birth control to some 3.5 million people each year. It's understan[...]
Wed, 07 Dec 2016 11:08:00 -0500A measure that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected—that's around three- to four- weeks post-conception—has managed to pass both houses of the Ohio legislature, despite the fact that federal courts have struck down all similar bans as unconstitutional. The measure, which cleared the Senate Tuesday as a last-minute addition to a larger bill concerning state child-abuse laws, states that "except when there is a medical emergency or medical necessity," Ohio doctors shall not perform abortions "if it has been determined that the unborn human individual the pregnant woman is carrying has a detectable fetal heartbeat." Detection of a fetal heartbeat is "a milestone with no meaning to the federal laws governing abortion," as Molly Redden noted back in 2013, when Arkansas and North Dakota first passed heartbeat-based abortion bans. But "the people who support these laws dream that they will provide a legal basis for overturning Roe v. Wade," in which the U.S. Supreme Court said states cannot ban abortion before a fetus could live on its own outside of the womb. Generally, a fetal heartbeat can be detected at a "gestational age" of around six weeks. But gestational age is calculated from the first day of a pregnant woman's last menstrual period, and doesn't actually refer to the number of weeks a zygote or fetus has existed. A gestational age of six weeks means it's been some three to four weeks since an egg was fertilized. In effect, a measure like the one Ohio approved would ban abortion at a point in pregnancy when many women don't even realize they're pregnant yet, and long before common chromosomal and developmental abnormalities can be detected. And even if a pregnant woman takes a test exactly 28 days after the start of her last period, that leaves her with just about two weeks to come to a decision about the pregnancy and then obtain the money for, schedule, and obtain an abortion (all while circumventing Ohio's various waiting periods), in a state where many women live hours from the nearest abortion clinic. This could put the heartbeat bill at odds with not just Roe but the more recent Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That case upheld the idea "that the Constitution protects a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy in its early stages," but presented a new standard for analyzing whether restrictions on abortion were unconstitutional: did they pose an "undue burden" on women's access to abortion. Even if a fetus could somehow be declared viable at around a month old, presenting women with a mere one or two week window to terminate a pregnancy would seem to fail the undue burden test. Many prominent anti-abortion advocates have opposed measures like Ohio's heartbeat bill, recognizing that they "have no chance in the courts," as Paul Linton, author and former general counsel for Americans United for Life, has said. State and federal courts have struck down such measures from Arkansas and North Dakota, with North Dakota's bill going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In January, the Court upheld a lower court's ruling striking down the measure. But that was before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the election of Donald Trump. A future Supreme Court could perhaps rule differently. Ohio Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) said repeatedly that previous versions of the heartbeat bill weren't worth passing because they would be struck down as unconstitutional, but "Trump's election changed the dynamic," he said. It's unclear whether Ohio Gov. John Kasich will sign the heartbeat bill into law. Just as the detection of a fetal heartbeat has no particular relevance to federal abortion guidelines, it's a similarly poor marker of moral or medical significance. Our ability to detect a fetal heartbeat means nothing in terms of a fetuses' consciousness or ability to feel pain or viability outside the womb (all of which won't come until l[...]
Fri, 04 Nov 2016 13:15:00 -0400
(image) The percentage of Americans who believe abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances is at the highest it has been in more than two decades, according to the latest national poll from Pew Research Center. In the October 20-25 survey, 59 percent of respondents said abortion should be generally legal, while just 37 percent said it should be banned in all or most circumstances. "Support for legal abortion has fluctuated in recent years," Pew noted, "but is at its highest level since 1995."
Among Republicans only, beliefs about abortion in the latest poll were almost directly inverse that of the general U.S. population, with 62 percent of Republican respondents saying abortion should be illegal in all or most cases and just 34 percent saying the opposite. There was little difference among men and women, with 32 percent of Republican women and 36 percent of Republican men expressing pro-choice views.
Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of Democrats (79 percent) say abortion should be legal most of the time—up from 70 percent in Pew's March survey—and just 18 percent say it should generally be illegal.
"The partisan gap in support for legal abortion, 45 percentage points, is at its widest point in close to a decade," Pew points out.
On the Democrat side, it's women who have driven the increase in pro-abortion sentiment since the Pew's March poll. In that one, 68 percent of Democratic women and 75 percent of Democratic men said abortion should generally or always be allowed. In October's poll, the percentage of Democratic men saying the same was down slightly, at 71 percent, but the percentage of Democratic women who said abortion should mostly or always be legal shot up 18 percentage points, to 85 percent.
Mon, 31 Oct 2016 15:42:00 -0400While the overall U.S. abortion rate continues to decline, a growing percentage of legal abortions in America are being induced via drugs, not surgery, with 43 percent of abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics relying on this method in 2014. That's up from 35 percent in 2010, according to a Reuters analysis of clinic data. And in states without strong legal restrictions on abortion pills, the rates relative to surgical abortion were even higher. In Michigan, they comprised 55 percent of all abortions and in Iowa, 64 percent. The two medications used for drug-induced abortions in America—mifepristone and misoprostol—were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 16 years ago. "The method was expected to quickly overtake the surgical option, as it has in much of Europe," Reuters notes. "But U.S. abortion opponents persuaded lawmakers in many states to put restrictions on their use." Most of these state restrictions have been rooted in religion, ideology, and politics rather than good-faith concern for women's safety. Taking mifepristone and misoprostol to terminate a pregnancy—aka medical abortion (in contrast with surgical abortion)—has been found just as safe if not safer than surgical abortion, and it doesn't require a woman to be put under anesthesia or undergo an invasive procedure. Even more revolutionary, this sort of abortion doesn't require—at least not for medical reasons—a visit to a hospital or any sort of specialized abortion clinic, nor the employ of a specialized doctor. After a basic health check-up and an ultrasound to determine gestational age (the pill regimen is only recommended and approved up to 10 weeks pregnancy), the whole process involves ingesting one pill and, within the next 72 hours, ingesting another pill. This isn't to say medical abortion is an easy process for women, who report extreme cramping, nausea, and other difficulties for a few hours to a few days after taking the pills. But it is, for many women, easier than obtaining a surgical abortion, with one of the biggest benefits being that it can cost significantly less. This, combined with its ability to take place outside a special health facility, makes it much more accessible to rural and low-income women. And increased accessibility may lead, in turn, to earlier pregnancy terminations. Since medical abortion has been legal in the U.S., the percentage of abortions performed in the first six weeks gestation has grown significantly. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of U.S. abortions occurring within the first six weeks of pregnancy rose 24 percent between 2003 and 2012. Meanwhile, the percentage of abortions occurring at or after 13 weeks remained relatively unchanged. This means the biggest shift was from abortions occurring between weeks six and 13 toward those occurring between weeks one and six. This doesn't necessarily mean medical abortions drove the shift to earlier abortions, but it is one plausible (partial) explanation, given the simultaneous growth in medical abortions as a share of overall (and especially early-term) procedures. Between 2001 and 2011, medical abortions went from 6 percent of all abortions to 23 percent, according to the CDC's most recent report. Some have worried that the increased availability of abortion drugs has or will lead to an increase in the total number of abortions that occur in America. But so far, these fears seem to be unfounded: between 2002 and 2011, the total number of U.S. abortions decreased 13 percent, according to the CDC. The abortion rate—the number of abortions per every 1,000 women ages 15- to 44-years-old—was also down, by 14 percent, to 13.9 abortions per 1,000 women. And this rate is down from nearly 30 abortions per 1,000 women in 1980. The bottom line is that U.S. women are both g[...]
Fri, 21 Oct 2016 08:00:00 -0400In the U.S., most abortions are procured within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Yet our political discussions about reproductive freedom frequently center on late-term abortions. And so it went Wednesday during the final 2016 presidential debate, with a segment on Roe v. Wade quickly devolving into arguments about "partial birth abortion." In Hillary Clinton's ideal world, "you can take a baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby," Donald Trump told debate viewers. "Based on what she is saying and based on where she's going and where she's been, you can take baby and rip the baby out of the womb. In the ninth month. On the final day." As many people have pointed out, this is not true, at least not in any meaninful way. While there are a few states where a woman could theoretically get an elective abortion at any point in pregnancy, it would not be done via "intact dilation and evacuation"—the medical term for the procedure people refer to as "partial birth abortion"—or anythng like "rip[ping] the baby out of the womb." And while intact dilation and evacuation (D&X) is legal when a woman's life is at stake if she doesn't terminate the pregnancy, there's little chance a woman who's been wanting her pregnancy up until that point, or the doctor treating her, will choose D&X when there are less controversial and legally ambiguous ways to accomplish the abortion. There's also little evidence that anyone actually chooses to terminate a pregnancy "at nine months." Just a little over 1 percent of U.S. abortions take place at any point after around five months pregnancy. Trump's understanding of how abortions work, and when they are and aren't allowed, is severely lacking. But he's not alone: a lot of people seem to believe that U.S. laws permit any pregnant woman to abort a fetus at any time for any reason. So let's take a closer look at later-term abortion laws in America... "Partial-birth abortion" is illegal in the U.S. Politicians who bring up "partial birth abortion" do so because they know it can spur strong and visceral reactions of disgust and moral indignation, not because it's especially relevant to U.S. health care, morals, or laws circa 2016. For 13 years, since 2003, federal law has prohibited physicians from performing D&X procedures, aka partial birth abortions, at any point in a pregnancy. Almost a decade ago, in 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the ban as constitutional. In addition, 19 states have their own laws against these sorts of abortions. While the federal ban does include an exception for situations where the mother's life is endangered, abortion doctors claim they avoid the procedure anyway, as there are other options with less liklihood of legal repercussions. Even before the federal ban, D&X procedures accounted for just 0.2 percent of all abortions, and most of these were performed before the point where a fetus can feel pain or survive on its own outside of the womb. Late-term abortion is illegal in most of the U.S. A typical human pregnancy lasts 38 weeks after an egg is fertilized. Only seven states and the District of Columbia allow abortion at any point during a pregnancy, according to reproductive-research org the Guttmacher Institute. In the other 43 states, abortion is banned—with limited exceptions, such as for the safety of the mother—after the second trimester, after the point of fetal viability (when a fetus could live on its own outside the womb), or after a specified number of weeks (generally 20-24). When exceptions are required, many states require two physicians to sign-off on the procedure before it's permissable. Very few U.S. women abort after 20 weeks pregnancy. Even with late-term abortion allowed in some parts of the country and under certain circumstances, nearly all abortions perfor[...]
Thu, 20 Oct 2016 04:00:00 -0400
(image) A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a California law that forces religious pregnancy clinics to give women information on how to obtain an abortion. The court ruled that the law does not violate anyone's First Amendment rights.
Wed, 19 Oct 2016 14:30:00 -0400Christian leader James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, is urging the owners of pro-life pregnancy centers in California to practice civil disobedience in the face of a new rule dubbed "The Reproductive FACT Act" by state legislators. "If California attempts to enforce this law," Dobson said in a Tuesday statement, "then do not comply. Make them put you in jail." The measure requires all licensed pregnancy clinics to post and distribute the following notice: "California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [phone number]." Pregnancy centers that do not offer medical services and are not licenced by the state must post signs announcing that the facility "is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services." A lawsuit challenging the measure on First Amendment grounds was rebuffed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week, upholding a lower court decision not to halt enforcement of the law. "Christians across America must express their outrage at the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling to uphold California's so called 'Reproductive FACT Act,'" said Dobson. "Since Roe. V. Wade, privately funded crisis pregnancy centers across America have provided a refuge and an alternative to women who might have otherwise chosen abortion. ... This ruling now forces these clinics to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs, and it is an affront to our constitutionally mandated rights to life and to religious freedom." "This decision is further affirmation of the importance of this presidential election," said Dobson. "Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be responsible for appointing the replacement of Antonin Scalia, and–in all likelihood–two to three other Supreme Court Justices. That court will eventually decide whether or not this remains the law in California and becomes law across America." Lawyer Ken White, of Popehat, has more about the California law and the court's decision, which is worth reading if you care about why the 9th Circuit decided how it did. A lot of it turned on the level of scrutiny being applied. When a court applies scrutiny, it's holding the government's justification for a challenged law to a standard. How tough the standard is depends on the nature of the law and how the plaintiff says it's defective. In some situations, courts apply strict scrutiny — for instance, laws that punish speech based on its content generally trigger strict scrutiny. If a court applies strict scrutiny, the government must show that the law in question serves a compelling government interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. Practically speaking, applying strict scrutiny almost always means that the court will strike down the law. In the middle you've got intermediate scrutiny, which requires the government to show that the law promotes an important government interest and is substantially related to that interest. At the low end you've got the "rational basis" test, which almost any law can pass. In this case, the Ninth Circuit decided the compelled speech in question was "professional speech," which triggers intermediate scrutiny. White notes that "content-based speech regulation often—usually—triggers strict scrutiny." But in this case, "the court said that while the law is content-based, it's viewpoint-neutral—that is, it does not discriminate based on one particular opinion or view, and applies to all clinics regardless o[...]
Tue, 09 Aug 2016 11:55:00 -0400
src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mMbi_F5JRpE" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="340" width="560">
"Do you know anybody living who expressly consents to the existence of the government and consents to what it does?" asks Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News, syndicated columnist, and author of, most recently, Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Assault on Civil Liberties. "Your rights, my rights, are integral to our humanity. The government can't take them away by majority vote!"
Reason's Nick Gillespie caught up with the judge at this year's FreedomFest, the annual gathering of libertarians in Las Vegas, to discuss how his traditional Catholicism intersects with his libertarian politics, why electing Trump or Clinton will likely lead to the "demise of the Constitution as we understand it," why he thinks Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson won't win in November, his commitment to open borders, and the philosophical underpinnings to his pro-life stance on abortion.
"My opposition to abortion is not only because of Church teaching, but also because of a rational examination of the baby growing in the womb and a belief in the non-aggression principle," Napolitano explains. "The non-aggression principle prevents you from interfering with the life or the property of another human being without moral justification. There is no moral justification for killing a child in the womb!"
Runs about 30 minutes.
Edited by Ian Keyser and Joshua Swain. Cameras by Austin Bragg and Jim Epstein.
For transcription and downloadable files, click here.
Tue, 09 Aug 2016 11:45:00 -0400"Do you know anybody living who expressly consents to the existence of the government and consents to what it does?" asks Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst for Fox News, syndicated columnist, and author of, most recently, Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Assault on Civil Liberties. "Your rights, my rights, are integral to our humanity. The government can't take them away by majority vote!" Reason's Nick Gillespie caught up with the judge at this year's FreedomFest, the annual gathering of libertarians in Las Vegas, to discuss how his traditional Catholicism intersects with his libertarian politics, why electing Trump or Clinton will likely lead to the "demise of the Constitution as we understand it," why he thinks Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson won't win in November, his commitment to open borders, and the philosophical underpinnings to his pro-life stance on abortion. "My opposition to abortion is not only because of Church teaching, but also because of a rational examination of the baby growing in the womb and a belief in the non-aggression principle," Napolitano explains. "The non-aggression principle prevents you from interfering with the life or the property of another human being without moral justification. There is no moral justification for killing a child in the womb!" Runs about 30 minutes. Edited by Ian Keyser and Joshua Swain. Cameras by Austin Bragg and Jim Epstein. Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to ReasonTV's YouTube Channel to receive notification when new material goes live. This is a rush transcript. Check any quotations against the actual recording. NICK GILLESPIE: I'm Nick Gillespie with Reason TV. Today, we're talking with Judge Andrew Napolitano. He is with Fox News. He's the senior judicial analyst and the author of many books, and a great friend to freedom and to Reason. Thanks for talking with us. NAPOLITANO: Pleasure being with you, Nick. Thank you GILLESPIE: 2016 election. Stuff's getting real. What do you see as the major stakes in this game? There's Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the major party candidates. Are either of them acceptable as President of the United States? NAPOLITANO: A complex question for me working at Fox News, being aware of Mrs. Clinton's criminal behavior, having a personal financial relationship with Donald Trump. I might add the Donald Trump I know personally does not resemble the Donald Trump that you see on the campaign trail. GILLESPIE: And what is your—what is your personal— NAPOLITANO: I own a piece of real estate with others that he manages. GILLESPIE: Oh, OK. NAPOLITANO: And the people that own this with me love him because the value of it keeps going up, and he is worth what we pay his management company to, to improve it. GILLESPIE: So let's stipulate he's a fine business man or property manager but— NAPOLITANO: At least in this particular case, he is. GILLESPIE: But should he be president? NAPOLITANO: Well, the issue, as I see, it is the likely demise of constitutional government as we understand it, as we have come to understand it. It is— GILLESPIE: And this is whether it's Clinton or Trump? NAPOLITANO: Correct! GILLESPIE: Yeah. NAPOLITANO: Correct, Nick, because they each believe in their own version of big government. Neither of them recognizes the natural law of restrains on government. Neither of them recognizes the constitutional restraints on government. They each believe they can use the powers of government to build their version of big government, whether it's sort of an economic egalitarianism that Donald Trump preaches, or whether it's a Bernie Sanders, redistribution of wealth which Hillary now[...]
Mon, 27 Jun 2016 17:36:00 -0400In its first significant abortion ruling since 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday held that Texas abortion regulations were unconstitutional. As Damon Root noted here earlier, the 2013 Texas statute, known as H.B. 2, was "one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the United States." With four liberal-leaning justices and three strict conservatives on the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy was the swing voter in this case, and his siding against the state of Texas tipped the scales to Whole Women's Health clinic favor by a vote of 5-3. The decision means Texas can't require all abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital nor force abortion clinics to meet surgical-center standards regardless of whether they perform surgical abortions. With similar regulations recently passed—and challenged in court—across the country, the Court's ruling could effect abortion access in all regions of the U.S. The Court found that the Texas restrictions (more background on them here) put an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions without serving a legitimate interest of the state—i.e., keeping patients safe or holding doctors and clinics accountable). "Neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," wrote Justice Stephen Breyer for the majority. "Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution." Backhanded regulation of abortion clinics sold under the guise of women's safety has been one of the most popular, and successful, tactics of the pro-life movement in recent years. More than 20 U.S. states require abortion clinics to meet ambulatory surgical-center standards, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and more than 14 states say abortion doctors must have some affiliation with a local hospital. These "TRAP laws" (targeted regulation of abortion providers) have forced shut abortion clinics in Texas, Virginia, Mississippi, and elsewhere. Against this backdrop, the Supreme Court's decision matters far beyond Texas—and not just geographically. It gets to a fundamental debate about legal abortion in America, one last opined upon federal in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey: is abortion a limited right subject to strong state subjectivity or a fundamental constitutional right with which legislatures may not interfere? "Today, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Constitution protects not just the theoretical right to abortion, but the right of a woman to actually get one without unwarranted interference from politicians," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on Monday. "The decision should send a loud signal to politicians that they can no longer hide behind sham rationales to shut down clinics and prevent a woman who has decided to end a pregnancy from getting the care she needs." Its "effects are likely to be felt around the country," stated the ACLU. The Supreme Court's decision doesn't automatically invalidate state laws similar to Texas' H.B. 2, but should they be challenged in court (and many already have been), state judges now have the SCOTUS decision to serve as a precedent, making their revocation likely. Still, as Vox writer Sarah Kliff noted, "one thing that stands out about the Texas case is that it was very facts-based: Justices wrote extensively about the effect the law was having on clinic closures, the distance that women had to drive, and their overall access to abortion. So there is a possible w[...]