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July 23, 2013

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   "Federal Court Blocks North Dakota Law That Would Ban Abortion as Early as Six Weeks," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "Monday morning, a federal judge ruled that North Dakota's latest abortion restriction [HB 1456], a law that bans abortion as early as six weeks, cannot take effect while a legal challenge to its constitutionality is underway," writes Mason Pieklo, adding that the judge lambasted the law as a "'blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women.'" She explains that the Red River Women's Clinic -- the plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights -- is "under legislative siege" from a flurry of other laws aimed at shutting the clinic down. "Defending the bevy of unconstitutional laws passed since 2010 is not cheap," Mason Pieklo writes, adding that despite the judge's "latest admonition and mounting legal fees, it is all but guaranteed North Dakota will appeal this ruling since lawmakers made it clear the purpose of the law was to spark a direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade." She writes, "But until that happens, North Dakota citizens are going to have to decide if it's worth spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers or if the state could find more productive uses of those resources" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 7/22).

FEATURED BLOG

"Solutions in Search of a Problem: Texas Is Latest to Enact Rules Aimed at Shutting Down Abortion Providers," Susan Cohen, RH Reality Check: While targeted regulation of abortion providers laws are not new, the scope of newly passed state legislation, such as that in Texas, is "unprecedented," Cohen of the Guttmacher Institute writes. The reasons why lawmakers and others push for such laws "do not stand up to close scrutiny," she argues, running through a list of arguments posed in favor of TRAP laws. For instance, she notes that at the "most general level," the laws represent "a solution in search of a problem," adding, "Abortion care in the United States is already very safe, and fewer than 0.3 percent of all abortion patients experience complications that require hospitalization." Further, Cohen writes, "requiring abortion providers to have links to hospitals adds nothing to long-standing patient safeguards, but effectively grants hospitals (or those who control them) veto power over whether an abortion clinic can exist." There is no evidence that requiring abortion providers to meet standards for ambulatory surgical centers -- which perform more invasive and risky procedures than abortion -- improves patient health and safety, she adds. Finally, she notes that while lawmakers pushing TRAP laws often use the criminal acts committed by Kermit Gosnell as a rationale, it was a lack of oversight by law authorities, not a lack of regulations, that allowed Gosnell's illegal behavior to continue (Cohen, RH Reality Check, 7/19).

What others are saying about Texas:

~ "New Texas Law Unfair, Increases Inequality," Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check.

~ "Texas Democrats Want Their GOP Colleagues to Study How Access to Birth Control can Reduce Abortions," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "Twitter Mocks Texas' Proposed Six-week Abortion Ban With Brilliant Hashtag," Katie McDonough, Salon.

~ "Texas' Tough New Abortion Restrictions May Send Women To Mexico in Search of Care," Sy Mukherjee, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

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"Legal Wrap: States Ramp Up Anti-Abortion Activity, Again," Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: Mason Pieklo discusses a "flurry of action" on abortion rights in the states. For instance, a judge blocked a Wisconsin law that requires all physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. A similar law in Alabama was delayed from taking effect until March 2014 while a legal challenge continues. In North Dakota, a court permanently blocked a law that "all but regulated medication abortion out of existence in the state." Attorneys for two Arkansas abortion clinics have asked the court to permanently block a law that would ban most abortions in the state after 12 weeks. She continues that "unfortunately, not all news out of the states has been good news." Hobby Lobby became the latest corporation to avoid having to comply with the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage requirement. Indiana prosecutors are charging a woman with felony neglect after a fetus was found in a dumpster, making it "clear any pregnancy that does not result in a successful live birth will be viewed first and foremost as a probable crime," which Mason Pieklo refers to as a "terrifying reality." Lastly, she writes, "In similarly terrifying news," lawyers are weighing their options in the case of Scott Roeder, who murdered abortion doctor George Tiller in his church, in light of a Supreme Court decision last month that found juries should have the final say in facts generating mandatory minimum sentences (Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 7/22).  

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"Despite North Carolina's Attack On Abortion Clinics, Planned Parenthood Pledges To Stay Open," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress": Despite North Carolina Republicans' efforts to push anti-abortion legislation that aims to close abortion clinics, "North Carolina's Planned Parenthood clinics want to send a clear message to anti-abortion lawmakers" that even if the legislation becomes law, "their health center aren't going anywhere," Culp-Ressler writes. According to Culp-Ressler, Planned Parenthood has vowed that its four state clinics will stay open, even though the group would need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate one of its clinics to meet the proposed standards. Culp-Ressler noted that similar laws in other states, like Texas and Virginia, are causing many of those state's clinics to close (Culp-Ressler, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 7/19).

FEATURED BLOG

"Thanks To Better Sex Ed, California's Teen Birth Rate Has Plummeted By 60 Percent," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": According to new data from the California Department of Public Health, the state's teen birth rate has dropped by 60% since 1991 "to the lowest level that it's been in the past 20 years," Culp-Ressler writes. Public health experts and state officials "directly attribute this success to state laws that require California's public schools to offer comprehensive sex ed classes with scientifically accurate information about birth control," she adds. However, while "states like California are making huge gains, the teen pregnancy rate remains stubbornly high in the South," where young people "tend to receive ineffective abstinence education, and they're more likely to lack access to birth control resources," Culp-Ressler concludes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/19).