As Texas Governor Rick Perry Signs New Abortion Bill, Three Republicans Introduce Fetal Heartbeat Law In Texas
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The 10 most imporgant legal fights on abortion in the U.S, via Washington Post
1. Wisconsin: “The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood have challenged a law requiring every physician who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital, arguing that the measure would force two of the state’s four abortion clinics to close.
Update: A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on July 8 against the law that was challenged by the national and Wisconsin-based American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
U.S. District Judge William Conley granted the order saying: “there is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement.” He said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states must prove that restrictions on abortion rights must be reasonably aimed at preserving the mother’s health.
“Moreover, the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement,” the judge said.
Parties met in court again yesterday, where Judge Conley left the stay in place, while scheduling a trial date of November 25. The judge said he will decide in two weeks whether to issue a permanent injunction blocking implementation of the law.
The judge told the parties: “I think the toughest burden the state has to meet is that this is a legitimate state interest.
2. North Dakota: The state’s Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) garnered national attention in late March when he signed into law a bill restricting abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks. But he has also signed off on bills prohibiting abortion based on sex selection and genetic abnormalities, barring non-surgical abortions and requiring hospital admitting privileges for abortion doctors. The Center for Reproductive Rights is challenging all of these bills, some in state court and some in federal court. The fetal heartbeat bill takes effect on Aug. 1.
Update: On July 16th, after a three-day trial in April, East Central Judge Wickham Corwin ruled that an earlier 2011 North Dakota law that outlaws one of two drugs used in nonsurgical abortions violates the state and US constitutions.
“No compelling state interest justifies this infringement …” Corwin wrote in his 58-page ruling. He already had granted an injunction preventing the law from taking effect.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday he will appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court.
On the subject of the current lawsuit on the fetal heartbeat bill, the Supreme Court hasn’t specifically addressed that question. The Supreme Court ruling stated women have the right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which is typically around 24 weeks. This is far later than when a heartbeat can first be detected, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.
At six weeks, many women only know they are late on their periods, not that they are pregnant.
3. Virginia. NOVA Women’s Healthcare, the state’s busiest abortion clinic, has closed with its operators saying it could not afford to comply with new regulations requiring costly upgrades in order to meet strict, hospital-like standards. It’s possible that the center also closed due to a landlord dispute.
Update: A separate clinic, the Falls Church Healthcare Center, filed an administrative appeal petition in the Arlington Circuit Court in June challenging the new rules imposed by the Virginia State Board of Health. The Commonwealth has responded, so the case is going forward. It’s unclear if the other 17 clinics in the state will be able to meet the new regulations.
4. Arkansas: The ACLU, the Arkansas ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights are challenging a law barring abortions starting 12 weeks after fertilization, which was adopted after the Arkansas legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of the law.
Update: On May 17, federal US District Judge Susan Webber Wright barred Arkansas from implementing its new law, calling it “more than likely unconstitutional. the judge overseeing the case temporarily blocked the law, which was set to take effect in July.
Wright said the 12-week standard criminalizes some abortions before the generally accepted medical standard of viability for a fetus, which is 24 weeks.
“The Supreme Court has consistently used viability as a standard with respect to any law that regulates abortion,” Wright said. “This act defines viability as something viability is not.”
5. Kansas: The Center for Reproductive Rights has challenged a sweeping anti-abortion bill. Last month the center got a preliminary injunction blocking two provisions of the measure, ones requiring providers to endorse specific literature on abortion provided to patients and redefining what constitutes a medical emergency for a woman seeking an abortion.
Specifically the provisions enjoined by the judge’s order include one that callously redefines what constitutes a medical emergency in a way that would require many pregnant women in life-threatening situations to wait at least 24 hours before obtaining emergency abortion care—including women who are hemorrhaging, suffering from a serious infection, or facing an ectopic pregnancy about to rupture … ”
In Kansas if you are pregnant and in a life-threatening situation in ANY hospital, not just a Catholic hospital where you can’t be treated at all, you must wait 24 hours to be treated. NOTE, you are hemorrhaging, and Kansas says you can bleed to death rather than be treated with an abortion.
Update: Chief Judge Kathryn Vratil’s canceled a July 29 hearing in U.S. District Court in Kansas City on behalf of Planned Parenthood. Instead, she’ll have a telephone conference call that day to set a new schedule, advising the parties that her docket is full potentially until December.
Planned Parenthood is seeking to overturn the provision requiring patients seeking an abortion to be told that it ends the life of a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
One of three abortion providers in Kansas was denied a license to operate this week. Planned Parenthood Kansas City will be certified. A third locations expects to fail the new requirements which are far more specific than anything the state requires for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, and are much more detailed “than the rules for most clinics and offices in which doctors perform many surgical procedures” writes Think Progress.
6. Arizona. The ACLU, the NAACP and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum filed suit in May against an Arizona law that bans abortion on the basis of gender and race selection, arguing that it is based on stereotypes about Asian Americans and African Americans.
7. Oklahoma. The Center for Reproductive Rights has challenged both a law restricting non-surgical abortions and one requiring an ultrasound before a woman has an abortion. In both cases, the state supreme court has permanently blocked them.
Update: The U.S. Supreme Court has asked questions for clarification in Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, focused on the use of FDA-approved drugs that induce abortions. It’s anticipated that the SC will take the case. Similar laws prohibiting departures from the 2000 labeling have been adopted in Ohio and Arizona, and restricting medicinal abortions — currently about one-fifth of abortions in America — has become a goal of anti-abortion forces.
8. North Carolina. The Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have challenged a 2011 measure requiring abortion providers to show an ultrasound image to a pregnant woman, describe the features of the fetus and offer her a chance to listen to its heartbeat. A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in the case in October 2011, and the case is still pending.
Both the House and Senate in North Carolina have both recently passed more sweeping anti-abortion bills. Governor McCrory signed into legislation today a law requiring that public school children be taught there’s a medical link between abortion and pre-term births later in life. and the governor has said he would sign the House version of that legislation.
Update: Two coalitions of doctors — the North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (NCOGS) and the North Carolina Section of The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (NC ACOG) — point out that the legislation represents a sweeping overreach into their day-to-day work.
“Scientific evidence should be central to the legislature’s deliberations on any women’s health care policy, especially when the measures would severely restrict access to necessary women’s health care and related lawful medical services,” the two groups’ statement reads. “Passage of these bills, which are not based on science, will have a detrimental effect on the health of women in North Carolina. We strongly urge lawmakers to reject these measures.”
9. Alabama: The ACLU, the ACLU of Alabama, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Southeast are challenging a law requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The judge in that case issued a temporary restraining order late last month against the measure, just as a federal judge had blocked a 2012 Mississippi law challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights that requires any physician performing abortions in the state be a board certified or eligible obstetrician-gynecologist with admitting privileges at an area hospital.
10 Texas. Texas governor Rick Perry signed today the Texas abortion bill, which would not only bar abortions starting 20 weeks after fertilization but would impose an admitting privileges requirement and other operating requirements for abortion rules.
Update: Planned Parenthood Texas says it will close three clinics in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin, Texas as a result of the new abortion law and also prior cuts to the Texas Women’s Health Program. Abortions were only performed at the Bryan clinic.
Estimates are that only six clinics will remain if the new laws aren’t struck down by the court. However, clinics in other states have survived the new laws requiring stricter standards. In Pennsylvania, the majority of clinics remained open but were forced to reallocate precious dollars that would have been used for patient care. Read on at Reuters.
Breaking News: On Thursday three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This bill is a boilerplate of the North Dakota bill. The bill also requires an invasive ultrasound procedure required to detect the heartbeat.
Additional reading: Media Ignore Why Women Need Access To Abortion After 20 Weeks Media Matters