Days After Restrictive Abortion Law is Signed, North Carolina Clinic Has License Suspended

Remember how, when  Pat McCrory ran for governor of North Carolina last year, he promised not to pass any new abortion-related restrictions? Don’t worry, neither does he. And barely two days after McCrory signed an anti-choice bill into law, the FemCare clinic–also known as the only abortion provider in Western North Carolina–has had its licensed suspended.

Officials with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services say that the suspension is unrelated to the new law, and cited 23 violations. However, a statement released on behalf of the clinic alluded to the fact that those new regulations may have been a factor in the suspension: [Read more...]

The Best and Worst News for Women in 2012

As a political junkie coming off a surreal election season, I can offer only the faintest apologies for skewing American. I’m sure for every pick I made, there are three I had to leave out. I invite you to show me the error of my ways–and your bests and worsts–in the comments section below. Happy New Year!!!!

The Best

1)   President Obama Wins Reelection
Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC promo pretty much says it all: ”We are not going to have a Supreme Court that overturns Roe vs. Wade. We are not going to repeal health reform. We are not going to give a 20% tax cut to millionaires and billionaires. We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay people from getting married. We are not eliminating the Department of Energy. We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt. We are not vetoing the DREAM Act. We had the choice to do that and we said ‘no.’” No president can do everything, but without Barack Obama in the White House, we’d have to do so much more.

2)   The Affordable Care Act Was Upheld
The entire country held its breath, and we progressive folk were the ones who got to exhale! Surprising everyone, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal wing of the court in a 5-4 decision, ruling that the vast majority of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act—and most notably, the individual mandate—was constitutional and would move forward.
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Ohio’s Talking Fetus Moves to Michigan, Requests Tax Credit

Just in case there was any doubt that the more accurate term for the anti-abortion movement is “pro-fetus,” lawmakers in Michigan recently held hearings on two bills that would grant tax exemptions for a fetus that is over twelve weeks’ gestation.

House Bills 5684 and 5685 were sponsored by Republican Reps. Lisa Posthumus Lyons (not making that name up!) and Jud Gilbert II, respectively. Lyons has served on the board of directors of a crisis pregnancy center; on that CPC’s website are a slew of misleading statements about the risks of abortion as well as incorrect information about fetal development.

This proposed legislation is particularly galling given that last year, the state cut tax credits for children—341,000 of whom, according to Think Progress, “live in high-poverty areas.”

So, just to recap: fetuses deserve tax breaks, but actual children—those that exist independently and require food and shelter—do not.  Pro-life?  Not if you’re actually alive.  Michigan’s state legislature is heavily Republican, but many of these Republicans represent moderate and pro-choice constituencies, so if you live in Michigan, please call or write your state Rep and tell them to vote against these pro-fetus, anti-child bills!

Ohio Anti-Choicers Resurrect Heartbeat Bill

Less than a week after Barack Obama won Ohio in the presidential election, state Republicans have decided that there’s no time like the present to resurrect a controversial, possibly unconstitutional, and already-rejected bill that would sharply restrict abortions.

The so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected—which can be as early as 18 days in some pregnancies, or before a lot of women even know they’re pregnant. When the state’s House Health Action Committee first heard testimony on the proposed bill, two of the witnesses to “testify” were fetuses: that is, two pregnant women were given ultrasounds in the hearing room. [Read more...]

Summary of 2012 Global Abortion Laws

As abortion, reproductive freedom and the power to choose continue to be hot topics during the 2012 presidential election (even though it is soon coming to a close), it is also interesting to know what laws concerning abortion exists in different nations. The Center for Reproductive Rights have created an interactive world map that does just that, compares and explain abortion laws all over the world.

The map provides interesting information in different ways:

Country icon key: Different icons express the conditions under which abortion is allowed or prohibited. There are many icons (all explained on the website), but here are a few examples.

R – rape
F – fetal impairment
MH – mental health
I –incest
SA – spousal authorization needed
PA – parental authorization needed

For example, in the United Arab Emirates, both spousal authorization and parental authorization is needed for an abortion. In Iraq, the icon NE describes that the “law does not make an explicit exception to save a woman’s life”. In Argentina abortion is permitted in cases of rape, whereas France have a gestational limit of 14 weeks and New Zealand concludes that abortion is permitted in cases of incest, fetal impairment and to preserve a woman’s mental health. [Read more...]

Welcome to New York, Sandy!

As New York hunkers down for Hurricane Sandy, I want to let her know how we treat women up here–even powerful, independent women who don’t cross their legs, redirect their gale force winds off-shore, or otherwise behave like the little ladies so popular with our male Republican candidates these days.

1) We respect a woman’s right to control her reproductive destiny: New York legalized abortion before Roe vs. Wade became the law of the land.

2) While many of the country’s legislators are dreaming up new ways to demean women, we have New York State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins introducing the Reproductive Health Act, with eighteen co-sponsors. Its purpose: to provide a fundamental right to choose contraception and the right of a female to determine the course of a pregnancy; to authorize abortion prior to viability; and to decriminalize abortion.  [Read more...]

Attempt to Restrict Abortions in Washington, D.C. Fails

As one restrictive abortion law is upheld this week, one falls by the wayside. Last night, the House of Representatives voted 220 to 154 to pass a bill that would ban all abortions (including in cases of incest, rape, and fetal abnormalities) in Washington, D.C. after 20 weeks; although a majority of representatives approved the measure, the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

The proposed bill had garnered much national attention in recent months. Its sponsor, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, did not shy away from a reliance on both hyperbole (he repeatedly called late-term abortions “the greatest human rights atrocity in the United States today”) and unproven medical theories to advance his agenda. Franks based his bill on the controversial concept of “fetal pain,” an issue on which the medical community has reached no firm consensus. The fact that Franks was attempting to regulate the choices of constituents that he did not represent also drew criticism, especially after the District’s actual representative, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, was not allowed to speak at hearings regarding the bill.

While it’s tempting to think that the matter has now been tabled in Congress, the Senate has not yet voted on its companion bill.

Arizona Update

Abortion opponents in Arizona have found a judge to play doctor! No, he has no medical degree, and he’ll never be pregnant – I’d even venture a guess that he’s never actually talked to an actual woman who has actually had an unwanted pregnancy — but by golly he is a judge and he knows stuff.  U.S. District Judge James Teilborg ruled that Arizona’s ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional. Why? Because it’s just math, silly! Sure, the statute “may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier.” But that has nothing to do with making it tough for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies — it’s just outlawing the practice of bad counting while female! And who isn’t against that?

This is the digital age, people. Everyone knows a fetus comes with its own serial number and glow-in-the-womb due date. (At 40 weeks it pops out, like on the turkey, so mumsy knows when to head to the hospital!)  Now that Judge Teilborg has cleared up all the nuanced arguments and complicated, often-conflicted feelings about abortion, we can all rest easy. I’m sure he will do it voluntarily. But if not, we can count on Governor Jan Brewer to draft a law requiring the judge to lend his abacus to the “few” pregnant women who get mixed up by big numbers.



Another Week, Another Pair of Male Politicians Trying to Regulate Women’s Bodies

Maybe it’s the unrelenting heat in our nation’s capital, or maybe they just can’t help themselves, but this week Arizona Rep. Trent Franks and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sank to new depths in their respective crusades to regulate women’s bodies.

In the District, Franks busied himself with pushing an odious bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks for D.C. women through yet another House committee; it will now go to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Franks’ oft-stated rationale for the ban is based on the medically unproven idea that fetuses can feel pain after the 20th week of pregnancy. But he didn’t let that fact get in his way this week, claiming that the scientific consensus behind the idea “is almost universal,” and he also didn’t let the idea of common decency to his colleagues interrupt his grandstanding. Franks refused to let the District’s sole representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, testify at the latest hearing, even though the bill would directly affect her constituents. Perhaps that’s because Norton is staunchly against the measure; her statement on the matter pointed out that the bill is “the first bill ever introduced in Congress that would deny constitutional rights to the citizens of only one jurisdiction in our country. It is also the first bill ever introduced in Congress that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.”

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Guttmacher Midyear Report Looks at Reproductive Rights Trends and Threats

Earlier this week, the Guttmacher Institute released its midyear report on state legislative trends relating to reproductive rights. A detailed look at all ninety-five new provisions enacted across the country can be found here, but for now, here are some notable points:

  • Attempts to legislate abortion continue, although at a slower pace than was seen this time last year (39 new restrictions have been enacted so far in 2012, versus the 80 that were passed in the first half of 2011). However, these 39 restrictions – fourteen of which were enacted in just three states – represent a higher number than in any previous year except 2011.
  •  Over half of American women, 55%, live in a state considered hostile to abortion rights.

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