June 23, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at SCOTUSblog, RH Reality Check and more.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Texas Abortion Case Reaches the Court," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog: "Abortion clinics and doctors in Texas asked the Supreme Court on Friday night to delay enforcement of a 2013 state abortion law [HB 2] while an appeal to the Justices is pursued," Denniston writes. According to Denniston, the request followed a refusal by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday "to delay its June 9 ruling upholding most of the Texas law," although it did grant "one clinic -- in McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley -- more time to adapt to the new restrictions." In the latest request, advocates noted that "[w]ithout a postponement ... more than half of the existing nineteen clinics in Texas will have to close on July 1, and some of them might never reopen," he writes. Denniston notes that the high court is likely to act on the request soon since "the law is now due to go into effect" on July 1. Following that decision, "[t]he clinics and doctors will be filing a formal petition for review," which likely would not be considered by the Supreme Court "until its next Term, starting in October" (Denniston, SCOTUSblog, 6/19).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Court Upholds Planned Parenthood's Telemedicine Abortion Program in Iowa," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.
~ "Judge: Ohio Anti-Choice Law Unconstitutional, Rules Clinic Can Remain Open," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.
ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Montana Abortion Clinic Vandal Sentenced to Prison," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "Following three days of hearings, a man with connections to a local anti-choice group was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison for vandalizing a Kalispell, Montana reproductive health-care facility in 2014," Wilson writes. According to Wilson, "Zachary Klundt broke into and vandalized All Families Healthcare, a family medicine and reproductive health-care facility" in March of last year. In addition to the prison sentence, Klundt has been ordered to pay Susan Cahill -- the clinic's owner and manager, who was "forced to close the clinic indefinitely" following the vandalism -- $669,000 in damages, according to Wilson. Meanwhile, Wilson noted that a new report "this year found that abortion clinics nationwide face significant threats, and that threats of violence against abortion providers have doubled since 2010" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 6/19).
CONTRACEPTION: "All States Should Offer One-Year Supplies of Birth Control," Chris Sosa, Care2: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has signed a bill (HB 3343) "allowing birth control to be dispensed in [a] full-year supply instead of 30 or 90-day packs," Sosa writes. He explains that 12-month supplies would give women who do not have "local access or [whose] work or family schedules preclude them from being able to easily travel to a pharmacy for their prescriptions on a monthly basis ... much-needed freedom in their already-full schedules." Further, he cites research "from the Institute of Medicine that shows access to birth control limits infant and maternal fatalities" and adds that contraception "is also used to treat a host of medical conditions, including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and amenorrhea." Sosa praises Oregon's "positive example," noting that the state also is considering another bill (HB 2879) that would "remove the requirement for doctor visits to access birth control altogether" by authorizing pharmacists "to prescribe birth control themselves." Sosa writes, "It's absolutely critical that women are able to access birth control without barriers, which are political in nature and medically unnecessary" (Sosa, Care2, 6/21).
INSURANCE COVERAGE: "Women in the Crosshairs of ACA Repeal," Martha Burk, Huffington Post blogs: With the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) set to be decided by the end of June, Burk writes that "[w]omen will be hit hardest if [the ACA] goes away." According to Burk, the high court "could gut the [ACA]" if the justices rule that tax credits used to purchase insurance from the federal insurance marketplace are illegal, meaning that only state marketplaces could offer tax credits. She lists several ways that a ruling undermining the ACA would have a particularly severe effect on women, noting that they would have to pay for or lose entirely "[p]reventive services like mammograms and birth control," which under the ACA "are provided without deductibles or co-pays." Further, insurance companies likely would enforce "gender rating," a practice barred under the ACA that permitted insurers to "charge women more for the same coverage men got for less money," she writes. In addition, she notes that insurers would be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions -- including "such things as a past Caesarean, having acne as a teenager, or being the victim of domestic violence" -- and would be able to "refus[e] to provide maternity coverage." She writes, "In short," if the high court rules against the law, "the government would no longer have any control over what insurance companies can and can't do" and "it will be worse for women's health" (Burk, Huffington Post blogs, 6/22).