North Dakota’s “Heartbeat Law” Temporarily Blocked

We’ve written before about North Dakota’s attempts to pass the most restrictive abortion law in the nation: a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected, which can be as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. The law was scheduled to take effect on August 1.

Yesterday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from going into effect. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland wrote that:

“There is no question that (the North Dakota law) is in direct contradiction to a litany of United States Supreme Court cases addressing restraints on abortion … (It) is clearly an invalid and unconstitutional law based on the United States Supreme Court precedent in Roe v. Wade from 1973 … and the progeny of cases that have followed.”

Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic Remains Open!

A federal judge has blocked part of a state law that could have closed Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only clinic in Mississippi. Last year, the state passed a law that would have required that physicians at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at local hospitals. While the physicians at JWHO tried to comply with that mandate, no area hospital would grant the privileges. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which has represents the clinic, “the physicians responsible for vast majority of the clinic’s patients were not granted privileges by any of the hospitals in the area-with several hospitals refusing to even process the physicians’ applications, citing hospital policies on abortion care.”

Today’s ruling by District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III blocks the remaining forms of enforcement of this requirement, and prevents the state Department of Health from revoking the clinic’s license for being unable to comply with the admitting regulation. In his opinion, Judge Jordan wrote that “Closing its doors would — as the state seems to concede in this argument — force Mississippi women to leave Mississippi to obtain a legal abortion.” The judge also stated that Mississippi’s position in the case “would result in a patchwork system where constitutional rights are available in some states but not others.”

Happy International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Celebrated since the early 1900s, when the American Women’s suffrage movement grew with the rise of progressive thinking worldwide, IWD is now recognized as a national holiday in countries as far away as China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria.

This year’s theme is THE GENDER AGENDA: GAINING MOMENTUM

To see how the day is being celebrated near you, check out the events page.

 

 

Update: Michigan Keeping Shaming Wands Out of Women’s Vaginas (For Now)

In a midwinter miracle, the powers that be in the Michigan legislature have decided that maybe it’s not the best idea to require that women who want abortions must undergo transvaginal ultrasounds. House Speaker Rep. Jase Bolger has said that he has “no interest in forcing a woman to have a transvaginal ultrasound …This House of Representatives will not pass a bill mandating transvaginal ultrasounds.”

While it’s heartening that rational thought has prevailed in this specific matter, it’s important to note that this doesn’t indicate any great desire to stay out of women’s private health decisions. After all, the state passed an abortion “super bill” late last year that, among other things, banned telemed abortions and introduced structural requirements that could force clinics to close.

 

 

 

Celebrate Roe v Wade!

The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade just a week away, and a slew of events are planned across the country and online. To see what’s in your area, check out Words of Choice’s roundup of events, some of which are already underway and others that will continue beyond January 22nd.

 

 

 

Update: Good News for Sweden’s Trans Community!

In a recent piece discussing Sweden’s abortion law during the time of Roe v. Wade, we described how trans women and men in Sweden were forced to undergo sterilization before transitioning.

The forced sterilization was much debated, both in Sweden and in other countries, as it completely went against human reproductive rights; and a revocation was planned for July 2013. But it seems that the decision to end Sweden’s discriminatory sterilization law has come early: our local feminist website has reported that the law has now been removed. The revocation is a great–and long overdue–victory. RFSL (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights) is planning on suing for compensation for the men and women who have been forcefully sterilized.

Masculinity and Violence: School Shootings and Mass Shootings

In June of 2012, a man opened fire inside a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. He killed 12 people and injured 58 more. Only days ago, a man in Oregon opened fire in a mall and then killed himself. On Friday, December 14 it happened again, only this time it was at an elementary school where 27 people were killed, most of them children, in Newtown, Connecticut. Mass shootings like these make us wonder how people can simply take the lives of so many others. We think about motives, the shooters complete disrespect for human life, and most often we cannot think of how to describe such atrocities without using words such as monstrous, horrendous and sick and we wish something like this would never happen again. Mass shootings and school shootings are rare, but leave us mortified every time. Many of us also remember other school shootings, some of the more high profile ones being the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, and the Columbine High shootings in 1999. There is an overall pattern in terms of both school shootings and mass shootings; the perpetrator is almost always male, and is often emasculated in one way or another.  [Read more...]

Anti-Choice Laws Defeated in Oklahoma

This week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down two anti-choice laws. One law would have made it mandatory for a woman seeking an abortion to see an ultrasound image and hear a description of the fetus; the other sought to ban “any off-label use of medications for abortion or treatment of ectopic pregnancy,” although it would have still allowed “off-label use of the same medication for other purposes.”

The ultrasound law had been passed by the state legislature in 2010, and the drug law was approved the following year. Following challenges by the Center for Reproductive Rights, both laws had been halted by lower court judges. In its decisions, the state Supreme Court said that both laws violated a 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, and that it must “follow the mandate of the United State Supreme Court on matters of federal constitutional law.”

 

Update: Heartbeat Bill Really, Truly Halted … For Now

Seems like just the other week that Ohio politicians were trying to place severe restrictions on when women in the state could have abortions. Oh wait, that’s right, it was: right after the election, anti-choice Republicans began trying to push through a modified version of the previously-failed “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat could be detected.

Looks like the second attempt proved no more successful, as on Tuesday the state senate president said that there were no plans to vote on the bill before the legislative session ends in December. According to an Associated Press report, both lawmakers and Ohio Right to Life were concerned that banning abortions at such an early stage (fetal heartbeat can generally be detected by the sixth week of pregnancy) would be unconstitutional and could jeopardize “other abortion limits.” Senate President Tom Niehaus also said that he wants to “continue our focus on jobs and the economy … [t]hat’s what people are concerned about.”

Well, yeah. That’s probably what they were concerned about the first time this bill was introduced, too. Yet a whole bunch of elected politicians still decided that it was more important to grandstand about a blatantly unconstitutional bill, rather than direct their time and energy into more pressing and relevant issues. I’d like to hope that they wouldn’t make that mistake a third time, but let’s be honest, common sense doesn’t seem to be the driving force here.

Obama is Re-Elected, “Rape” Candidates are Defeated

The interminable election season is finally over! After all the money, mud-slinging, and hyperbole, Barack Obama has won a second term, Democrats have won control of the Senate, and Republicans have won control of the House. So, really, not that much has changed on the surface, though undoubtedly the pundits and experts will be analyzing the results and trends for years to come.

For now, let’s just bask in the good news: voters in Maryland and Maine approved same-sex marriage; Wisconsin voters elected the first openly gay politician, Tammy Baldwin, to the Senate; and a slew of candidates that made idiotic comments about rape and abortion were defeated!