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Tag: abortion ban

Judge Issues Injunction Blocking Florida's 15-Week Abortion Ban

Judge John Cooper of the Florida Second Circuit Court in Leon County on Thursday issued a temporary injunction blocking a Florida law, scheduled to take effect on July 1, that would ban abortions at 15 weeks' gestation. The injunction, which takes effect as soon as the judge signs it, was issued in response to a lawsuit filed against state officials by a coalition of reproductive rights groups to block the law.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5, known as "Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality," in April. Abortion is currently legal in Florida up to 24 weeks' gestation.

The Florida Constitution guarantees individuals the right to privacy, and the plaintiffs in the suit, which include two state Planned Parenthood affiliates and a number of women's health clinics, based their challenge to H.B. 5 on that constitutional guarantee, saying in their complaint, "The Act, on its face or, in the alternative, as applied, violates the right to privacy of women seeking and obtaining abortions in the state of Florida, as guaranteed by article I, section 23 of the Florida Constitution."

In announcing his decision, Cooper said: "Florida passed into its Constitution an explicit right of privacy that is not contained in the U.S. Constitution. The Florida Supreme Court has determined, in its words, 'Florida's privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman's decision of whether or not to continue her pregnancy.'"


The decision is expected to be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, whose seven justices were appointed by Republican governors, three by DeSantis.

Planned Parenthood noted in a statement posted on June 1: "HB 5 will force Floridians to remain pregnant against their will, violating their dignity and bodily autonomy, and endangering their families, their health, and even their lives. The impacts of pushing reproductive health care out of reach in the middle of a maternal mortality crisis will fall hardest on Black women, who are nearly three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after."

On June 24, DeSantis tweeted his support for the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that day in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that struck down the constitutional right to abortion nationwide affirmed in Roe v. Wade: "By properly interpreting the Constitution, the Supreme Court has answered the prayers of millions upon millions of Americans. ... Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare."

State Republican lawmakers have already introduced anti-abortion bills, and in the wake of the Dobbs ruling, such bills could find more success. The "Florida Heartbeat Act," introduced by state Rep. Webster Barnaby last year, would have required physicians to test for what it misleadingly and incorrectly calls a "fetal heartbeat" before performing abortions and would have relied on "private civil enforcement" to implement it, encouraging a type of vigilantism also found in Texas' S.B. 8, which bans abortion at six weeks' gestation.

As gynecologist and obstetrician Jennifer Kerns told NPR for a story republished in May, "What we're really detecting [on an ultrasound] is a grouping of cells that are initiating some electrical activity. In no way is this detecting a functional cardiovascular system or a functional heart."

The Guttmacher Institute, the reproductive rights research and policy organization, designates Florida as "restrictive" with regard to abortion access in its mapping of the states post-Roe, putting it in the third-most restrictive category out of seven.

The court heard oral arguments in the case on Monday and Thursday. The New York Times reported that one of the plaintiffs, Dr. Shelly Hsiao-Ying Tien of Jacksonville, said in her testimony, "Women and girls who need abortions after 15 weeks tend to have the most challenging and compelling life circumstances," including poverty, domestic violence, and medical complications.

Restrictions on abortion in Florida affect people outside the state as well. As Politico reported on June 24, women in Georgia and Alabama, where abortion policies are more restrictive, have for many years traveled to Florida to obtain the procedure. Last year, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, 4,873 women came to the state for abortion services.

Nikki Fried, Florida's commissioner of agriculture, is running in the crowded Democratic primary to replace DeSantis as governor in November. In an interview on Fox News on June 25, Fried blasted the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs: "This is something that every single member of our Legislature and every single governor across the country needs to know that the people did not want this. Over 67% of my own state did not want a change in Roe v. Wade. And so the governor or any other Legislature continues to erode this right to privacy and this over-intrusion of government, then they're going to be voted out in November."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist held a press conference before the ruling on Thursday morning during which he vowed to aggressively pursue reproductive rights for Floridians: "I won't stop until we win the war and we have a pro-choice governor back in Tallahassee."

In a statement released by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Kelley Flynn, president and CEO of A Woman's Choice clinics, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said: "While Floridians may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief, make no mistake, abortion access is in real peril in our state. Already, lawmakers have made it incredibly difficult for our patients to access the essential health care they need and for us to provide that care."

Immediately after Cooper announced his decision, Fried tweeted, "The 15-week abortion ban was just ruled unconstitutional in Florida. Because it is. We won't go back. We will keep fighting."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Senate Republicans Insist They Won't Ban Abortion, Despite McConnell Gaffe

For decades, Republicans have assailed pro-abortion Supreme Court rulings — for instance, 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, among others -- but with the end of Roe reportedly imminent, conservative Congressional representatives are quickly dialing back their anti-abortion rhetoric, fearing public reaction could cost them in the midterms.

Despite secretly meeting with leading anti-abortion activists to brainstorm plans for a federal ban on abortions nationwide, GOP lawmakers were quick to dismiss Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s weekend suggestion that the party could soon turn its sights to enacting a total abortion ban.

"I don't think it's really an appropriate topic for Congress to be passing a national law on," said Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), according to CNN.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), a religious rightist, echoed Cornyn, telling Newsweek, "No, I don't support a federal ban on abortion after Roe vs. Wade, if it's overturned in the first instance."

Hawley added, "I think it would be better for states to debate this, allow it to breathe and for Congress to act where there's national consensus."

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), the third-ranking Senate Republican, noted that the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggested that states should regulate abortion. "I want to see the states have that opportunity and the authority to do so," Barrasso said when asked for his thoughts on a potential federal abortion ban.

Republicans in Congress are trying to keep focus trained on inflation, crime, and border security, as recent polls show that most Americans oppose national legislation to ban abortion. So they want to talk about almost anything else.

“You need — it seems to me, excuse the lecture — to concentrate on what the news is today,” McConnell himself said last Tuesday. “Not a leaked draft but the fact that the draft was leaked.”

Last week, in an interview with USA Today, McConnell promised that Republicans, if they win back the Senate, won’t scrap the filibuster for a total abortion ban by a simple majority vote.

"If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — certainly could legislate in that area," the minority leader told the paper. "And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it's possible."

However, McConnell dodged questions from CNN on whether he’d bring an abortion bill to the floor of a Republican-controlled Senate.

Democrats immediately decried McConnell’s abortion ban suggestion, and GOP lawmakers, sensing a rapidly spreading wave of public outrage at attempts to overturn abortion rights, have expressed little interest in it or noted that there wouldn’t be enough votes to enact such a ban.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) played down the notion his party would have the votes for a total national abortion ban. "It's about as possible as this vote we will take on Wednesday," Graham told CNN, referring to an upcoming Democratic effort to codify in federal law .

"Let's see what happens. I'm not going to get into what-ifs," Senator Shelley Moore Capito said, declining an opportunity to weigh in on the matter.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) declared his support for an abortion ban with exceptions, but noted that his stand might not be a consensus within his party. "That's my personal position," Thune said. "That's certainly not a caucus position. I don't think we have any idea at this point about any of that."

Despite sudden Republican back-pedaling on abortion, Democrats have signaled their intention to use the looming Supreme Court ruling to ask voters to punish Republicans in November.

Led By Alyssa Milano, Hollywood May Boycott Georgia Over Abortion Ban

Georgia legislators have passed a so-called “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortion beyond six weeks, and Gov. Brian Kemp appears prepared to sign the legislation into law this week.

But doing so might be costly for the state.

The Peach State has long been a go-to location for Hollywood filmmakers, but the abortion ban has stirred opposition among many big names in the entertainment industry. Actor and producer Alyssa Milano collected signatures for a letter pledging to boycott work that would bring them to Georgia if the bill becomes law.

Other groups, including the Writers Guild of America, embraced the boycott sparked by Milano as well. As CBS News reported, other state governors are stepping up to poach the filmmaking business if Georgia triggers the boycott.

Stacey Abrams, who lost the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election to Kemp in a contentious and dubious election in which he oversaw the vote as secretary of state, warned about the risks of imposing limits on women’s reproductive rights:

Another Day, Another Abortion Restriction

The tan business envelope is postmarked Jan. 31, 1957. It is addressed to “MISS JANEY BEBOUT,” arriving via airmail from Annapolis, Maryland. Not to her home but to the house of a sympathetic aunt who could keep a secret, one town away in Ashtabula, Ohio.

The sole content of the envelope is one sheet of paper, crackly with age and separating at the folds. It is a form letter from the Maryland secretary of state’s office detailing requirements for marriage.

The letter reads, in part:

“IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL WITHIN THIS STATE FOR ANY FEMALE BELOW THE AGE OF SIXTEEN YEARS OR FOR ANY MALE BELOW THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN YEARS TO MARRY. … EXCEPT ON THE CERTIFICATE OF A LICENSED PHYSICIAN, WHICH SHALL BE PRESENTED FOR THE APPLICATION FOR THE MARRIAGE LICENSE, TO THE EFFECT THAT THE GIRL IS PREGNANT.”

Note how the law insulated boys from adulthood a little longer, the better to preserve their options.

Maryland required no blood tests. The application fee for a marriage license was $1; if granted, the license cost an additional $2.

On the day this envelope was mailed, Janey was an unmarried 19-year-old, four months pregnant with me. She and my 20-year-old father would marry 11 days later in Cumberland, Maryland, after fleeing — “eloping,” she insisted to her children, “because we were so in love” — their family farms in the middle of the night.

I recognize my mother’s loopy handwriting in dark blue ink on the back of the envelope. She noted the mileage on my father’s car before they started driving and the total upon their return after a short honeymoon in Washington, D.C. She chronicled their gas stops, too, most in $1 increments.

They were two farm kids with virtually no money and no plan beyond saving my mother from a lifetime of public humiliation as an unwed mother. In 1957, marriage was her only option.

I just, this week, discovered this envelope. In a curious twist of timing, I found it one day after Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed the so-called heartbeat bill but signed into law his 18th restriction on a woman’s constitutional right to abortion. This latest one prevents a woman from getting an abortion after 20 weeks, which is when many medical abnormalities are first detected. No exceptions for rape or incest and a limited one to protect a mother’s life.

Kasich is not fooling anyone who’s paying attention, including Dawn Laguens of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“(Kasich) may hope that by vetoing a six-week ban — which would have virtually banned abortion with almost no exceptions — he comes off as moderate,” Laguens said in a statement. “The 20-week ban will force women to travel long distances and cross state lines in order to access safe, legal abortion.”

Right-wing extremists who support laws such as this are driven by an insatiable desire to shame women. They want us to feel dirty and immoral and unworthy in the eyes of God as they define him.

Most of these legislators are men whose maleness exempts them from ever knowing what it feels like to have no control over their bodies or their daily lives. If they are impotent, they can take a drug to give them erections. If they want to have unprotected sex, they can do so without worrying about what an unplanned pregnancy would do to their bodies and their health, their families and their future.

These men will never know the desperation of scraping up enough money for a plane ticket, a train ticket, bus fare or gas for the tank of a car to get them to a state that still protects a woman’s constitutional right. They do not worry about bringing into the world children they — and we as communities — cannot afford.

My mother had no option but to give birth to me. Some readers who oppose abortion rights love to remind me that my mother didn’t abort me. Far too many of them wish aloud that she had, and isn’t that an interesting approach for people claiming to cherish life?

The discovery of that envelope reminds me, yet again, of what it was like not so very long ago for women like my mother. From the moment she found out she was pregnant until she and my father made that middle-of-the-night journey to a state that would marry them, she lived in fear of being exposed as an unmarried woman who dared to have sex.

A devout Christian, she was pro-choice when abortion rights became the law of the land, in 1973. A devoted mother, she encouraged all of her daughters to visit Planned Parenthood before having sex. “Stay in control of your life,” she once told me.

My mother never fully shed the shame of her unplanned pregnancy all those years ago.

“I still would have had you,” she told me when I was 36 and a newly single mother. “It just would have been so different here” — she pointed to her heart — “if the choice had been all mine.”

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: Demonstrators hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court as the court is due to decide today whether a Republican-backed 2013 Texas law placed an undue burden on women exercising their constitutional right to abortion in Washington, U.S. June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Kasich Vetoes Ohio ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban, Signs 20-Week Legislation

CLEVELAND (Reuters) – Republican Governor John Kasich signed a 20-week abortion ban into law on Tuesday but vetoed stricter legislation that would have forbidden the procedure once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks after conception.

Kasich, an abortion opponent, said in a statement that the proposed six-week legislation would be contrary to U.S. Supreme Court rulings on abortion, opening the state to potentially costly legal battles, and the veto was “in the public interest.”

“I agree with Ohio Right to Life and other leading, pro-life advocates that SB 127 is the best, most legally sound and sustainable approach to protecting the sanctity of human life,” Kasich said in a statement on the 20-week law, which lawmakers approved last week.

Neither of the measures made exceptions for rape or incest, although both allow for abortions that would save the mother’s life.

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide more than four decades ago, but states were allowed to permit restrictions once a fetus was viable. Some states, particularly those governed by Republicans such as Ohio, have sought to restrict abortion.

More than 10 states have put 20-week abortion bans in place, but federal courts in Arizona and Idaho have ruled them unconstitutional.

Under current law, Ohio prohibits abortion once a fetus is considered viable outside the womb, which is from 24 to 26 weeks of gestation.

Lower courts have struck down stricter “heartbeat” laws, like the one Kasich vetoed on Tuesday, in North Dakota and Arkansas. The Supreme Court refused to hear appeals on those rulings in January.

Kasich’s decisions quickly drew criticism from both anti-abortion and abortion rights organizations.

“John Kasich is treating women’s health care like a game,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said in a statement after the signing.

“He thinks that by vetoing one abortion ban Ohioans will not notice that he has signed another. The 20-week abortion ban callously disregards the unique circumstances that surround a woman’s pregnancy.”

Meanwhile, anti-abortion group Faith2Action, called Kasich’s veto of the six-week ban a “betrayal of life,” and urged supporters to call lawmakers to try to persuade them to override Kasich’s veto.

At least three-fifths of the members of both the Republican-led state House of Representatives and the state Senate would have to vote in favor of overriding the governor’s veto in order to overturn it.

(Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; editing by Dan Grebler and Jonathan Oatis)

IMAGE: Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Texas Judge Orders Hospital To Reinstate Two Abortion Doctors

By Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman

 

AUSTIN, Texas — A state judge Thursday ordered a Dallas hospital to temporarily reinstate admitting privileges that had recently been revoked for two abortion doctors.

University General Hospital Dallas sent identical letters to the doctors last month saying their admitting privileges had been revoked because their abortion practices were “disruptive to the business and reputation” of the hospital.

The doctors filed suit Thursday, arguing that the revocation violated a state law that bars hospitals from discriminating against doctors based on whether they perform or refuse to perform abortions. Several hours later, Associate District Judge Sheryl Day McFarlin agreed, granting a temporary restraining order requiring the hospital to reinstate the privileges.

A trial, set for April 30, will determine if the order should continue for the hospital, a publicly owned acute-care facility in southwest Dallas.

The lawsuit, which did not seek money, claimed abortion opponents demanded that the hospital revoke the privileges for Dr. Lamar Robinson, with Abortion Advantage, and Dr. Jasbir Ahluwalia, with the Routh Street Women’s Clinic, or face an April 1 protest.

On March 31, the hospital’s new chief executive officer, Chuck Schuetz, revoked the privileges and “assured protesters that UGHD would be ‘pro-life’ and would not associate with those who provide abortions,” the lawsuit said.

Under the state’s stricter abortion law that went into effect last year, doctors cannot perform abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

Both doctors have had to cancel “dozens of appointments each day” since receiving the letters, the lawsuit said. While Routh Street Women’s Clinic has been able to continue with temporary help from a part-time doctor, Abortion Advantage had stopped offering the procedure, the suit said.

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan

Supreme Court Turns Down Arizona Abortion Challenge

By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON _ The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear Arizona’s challenge to the court’s Roe vs. Wade decision and its protection for a woman’s right to choose abortion through the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Without comment, the justices turned down Arizona’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that blocked a law that would have limited legal abortions to 20 weeks. Last year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the law from taking effect on grounds that it conflicted with Roe vs. Wade.

Similar laws have been adopted in 12 other states.

Arizona Attorney Gen. Thomas Horne appealed and urged the justices to reconsider this part of Roe vs. Wade. He argued that new medical evidence suggests that a fetus may feel pain at 24 weeks of a pregnancy, and that called for rethinking the rules set down in Roe vs. Wade.

Arizona’s law had included an exception for a “medical emergency” in which the mother’s life is at risk, but it did not permit an abortion if a mother learned the unborn child had a severe defect. Dr. Paul Isaacson and other Arizona doctors who challenged the state law in court said that more than 70 percent of their patients who seek a late abortion do so after either learning of a fetal abnormality or suffering a serious threat to their health.

In a one-line order, the court said it would not hear the case of Horne vs. Isaacson.

“A dangerous and blatantly unconstitutional law like Arizona’s” should have never been passed in the first place, said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

It is the third setback for abortion opponents in this court term. The justices also turned down Oklahoma’s defense of two antiabortion measures. One would have prohibited the use of one drug that is used to induce an abortion in the first weeks of a pregnancy. A second would have required costly ultrasound tests for women seeking an abortion.

Other states that have passed laws similar to Arizona’s are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Carolina, North Dakota and Texas.

Photo: Clarissa Peterson via Flickr