Elena Kagan Urged Bill Clinton to Restrict Late-term Abortions in 1997

Looks like Elena Kagan urged former President Bill Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions back in the day. Despite how this may look on face, I don’t think it says much about her position on abortion. In fact, her justification for encouraging then-President Clinton to support this particular version of a ban was to prevent the Republican Congress from overriding his veto on a stricter ban.

Documents reviewed Monday by The Associated Press show Kagan encouraging Clinton to support a bill that would have banned all abortions of viable fetuses except when the physical health of the mother was at risk. The documents from Clinton’s presidential library are among the first to surface in which President Barack Obama’s new choice for the high court weighs in on the thorny issue of abortion.
The proposal was a compromise by Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle. Clinton did support the proposal, but it failed and Clinton vetoed a stricter Republican ban. [Read more...]

President Obama Nominates Elena Kagan for SCOTUS! Should We Prepare for a Second Round of Sexism?

The sexist double standard was undeniably at play in the right wing attack on Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination. I can’t help but wonder, as we patiently wait for the GOP response to Obama’s most recent nomination of Solicitor Elena Kagan, if we should prepare ourselves for a second round of sexist attacks. Despite the fact that Elena Kagan has a pretty slim record to pick at, I doubt that will prevent conservative misogyny from rearing its ugly head again.

For now, I plan on celebrating the fact that Kagan’s confirmation would add another justice to the bench that supports women’s reproductive choices; as well as level out the gender disparity a bit. In a year where women’s health has been continuously thrown under the bus, this nomination is definitely a breath of fresh air. [Read more...]

Judge Rules Out Voluntary Manslaughter in the Tiller Case

Some excellent pro-choice news to kick start your weekend…

You can breathe a sigh of relief, because after all that worry, it turns out Scott Roeder will not be given a chance at a lesser charge in the murder of Dr. George Tiller. After the defense rested its case Thursday, the judge ruled that the jury cannot consider a voluntary manslaughter charge, which Kansas law defines as “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force” and carries a slim four-to-six-year sentence. [Read more...]

Pro-choice activist adds lobbying to activist tool-kit.

I had the great opportunity to represent Planned Parenthood New York City at the Women’s Health Matters Day of Action in Albany on Monday. The day of action was sponsored by Family Planning Advocates of New York and took place on the first day of session.

One of the highlights of my day was getting to see Governor Paterson address the group of pro-choice activists. Having myself come from an area with a conservative political climate, it was affirming and gratifying to hear a public servant so unabashedly proclaim his pro-choice convictions. One thing I am certain of as New York approaches elections is that Gov. Paterson is a true friend to this movement.

My favorite thing that the Governor said was that in his marriage, his wife Michelle and him have always made family planning decisions together. Therefore, he said, he sees reproductive rights as a men’s and women’s rights issue. What a brave leader. [Read more...]

Senate Republicans Block Pro-Choice Judicial Nominee Edward Chen

Senate Republicans, in their relentless tirade on women’s bodily autonomy, have blocked yet another pro-choice judicial nominee by President Obama, Edward Chen. Barack nominated the U.S. Magistrate for a federal judgeship in San Francisco. Chen happens to be a former attorney for ACLU and vehemently pro-choice. To little surprise, this caused an uproar among Senate Republicans who inevitably filibustered his nomination.

Not only is this news incredibly disappointing because it means the loss of a pro-choice candidate in the San Francisco judiciary, it also means the loss of the first Asian-American judge in the Northern District of California. In addition, he seems to be pretty damn tuned in on racial disparities in the U.S. (something a judge should be conscious of). Bob Egelko, a chronicle staff writer at the San Francisco Gate, reports, [Read more...]

Arizona Couple Sues the State for Equal Benefits

marriage wedding ringsArizona used to provide domestic partner benefits for state employees and their partners. While Janet Napolitano was the governor, Arizonans had a strong advocate for equal rights. Things have unfortunately taken a turn for the worse. Last fall Arizona voters voted in favor of Proposition 102, which made same-sex marriage illegal in the state of Arizona (even though it already was). However, the state legislature took it a step further this summer by voting to strip domestic partnership benefits from state employees in an effort to balance the state’s budget. If Janet Napolitano were still the governor, she likely would have vetoed the measure. But Arizona’s current governor, Jan Brewer, is staunchly anti-choice and anti-equality. Consequently, state employees and their families lost equal benefits as of November 24th.

Some couples are fighting back. Lambda Legal is representing several couples in a lawsuit against the state, arguing that the removal of equal benefits from state employees violates the state’s constitution. Tracy and Diana are one of those couples. They met in 1999 and were married in 2000. Tracy is an officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and is currently assigned to the Highway Patrol Division in Quartzsite, AZ. She has been with the department for 12 years. Diana is a court clerk with a local court.

Tracy explains that she first became aware of the new law when,

I went to the doctors office with Diana on the 1st of October and realized We didn’t have our insurance cards. I called my benefits section with DPS and they told me Diana was going to lose her benefits on November 24th and that may have been the reason we hadn’t receive them. I was absolutely furious! When we got home, I got on the computer and started writing. I wrote to two representatives and to Gov. Jan Brewer and related my dissatisfaction. Obviously writing to them didn’t change anything.

[Read more...]

Lambda Legal Files Suit Against AZ for Eliminating Domestic Partner Benefits

ArizonaLambda Legal filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the state of Arizona in response to the state’s decision to eliminate domestic partner benefits for state employees. According to the press release issued by Lambda Legal:

Arizona lawmakers included a provision stripping domestic partner health benefits from state employees as part of a last-minute budget deal signed by Governor Jan Brewer in September, while retaining spousal health benefits for heterosexual workers . . .

“This is an issue of equal pay for equal work,” said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “By stripping away these vital benefits from loyal state employees, the state isn’t just paying them less for the same work than their heterosexual colleagues — it’s pulling away a vital lifeline that all workers need. This is simply cruel and saves the state next to nothing.”

[Read more...]

Could Oklahoma Abortion Bill End Up Before SCOTUS?

supreme-courtWe’ve been ranting for a few weeks now about the latest abortion restrictions that passed in Oklahoma. The audacious nature of the bill and it’s impending court challenges should leave pro-choice advocates wondering if the law could end up in front of the US Supreme Court. According to UPI, it’s a fairly probably scenario.

There is no abortion case now on the Supreme Court’s docket, but one is coming up fast on the outside from the country’s heartland, and the justices may find themselves having to deal with it before recessing for the summer in late June.

Two Oklahoma laws were scheduled to go into effect Sunday. One would have required women seeking an abortion to fill out a 10-page questionnaire about their personal history and the reasons they were seeking an abortion, Rightjuris.com reports. Results would be posted on the Web.

The other would require women seeking an abortion to listen to a doctor as he or she described the fetus during an ultrasound.

Both are being challenged in the state courts. Last Monday, a state judge temporarily blocked the questionnaire provision on technical grounds. The law addresses unrelated issues in one bill, the judge said, in violation of the state Constitution.

[Read more...]

Planned Parenthood Arizona Has a Good Day in Court

arizona flagThe good news from Arizona is that the omnibus abortion bill, which was scheduled to go into effect today, will no longer have as much of a sting on women’s access to reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood was victorious in court yesterday, and an injunction will keep the bill from going into effect. Here are the parts of the bill that are currently on hold:

  • Appropriately trained nurse practitioners will continue to be able to provide in clinic abortions (as well as the abortion pill). The bill would have mandated that only a doctor can perform an abortion, even though Arizona licensing guidelines for nurse practitioners allows them to perform the procedure.
  • Parental consent for abortion forms signed by a parent or guardian will not have to be notarized.
  • Specific information will not have to be provided by a physician face to face at least 24 hours in advance of an abortion. The 24-hour waiting period will still go into effect, and mandatory counseling must still be provided. But qualified clinic staff members can provide patients with the information, and the information can be delivered over the phone.

It really sucks for rural women in Arizona that the 24-hour waiting period will still go into effect as of today, but al least some of the other restrictions have been placed on hold.

Planned Parenthood Arizona Files Lawsuit Over Restrictive Abortion Laws

planned parenthood logoPlanned Parenthood of Arizona a filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the constitutionality of several provisions in the omnibus anti-abortion law that threatens women’s access to health care in Arizona. The law was signed by Governor Jan Brewer in July of this year.

“Planned Parenthood of Arizona is committed to ensuring women and families in this state have access to the comprehensive reproductive care they need,” said Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona. “This law puts the health and well being of more than half of our state’s residents at risk by restricting women’s access to comprehensive care. We believe the regulations should not be put into place until the court rules on the legality of this onerous law.”

The omnibus bill is scheduled to go into effect on September 30th. However, the lawsuit was filed in state court, and Planned Parenthood Arizona has asked the court to prevent the new restrictions from going into effect while the litigation is pending. According to an e-mail that was sent out to Planned Parenthood supporters yesterday, Planned Parenthood Arizona is committed to providing affordable access to health care for women and families and will continue to do so through the litigation process.