National Partnership for Women & Families

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May 30, 2014

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"Reflections on the Fifth Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. George Tiller," Carole Joffe, RH Reality Check: "The abortion situation in Kansas in the post-Tiller era can be best understood as a series of both skirmishes and high-profile battles between the two sides of the endless abortion war," Joffe writes on the five-year anniversary of the murder of abortion provider George Tiller. She notes that since then, the Kansas Legislature "has seen many moderate Republicans replaced by extreme right-wing ideologues" and "has passed one abortion restriction after another." Joffe reviews other developments of the past five years, calling the disbarring of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline the "most unequivocal victory that abortion rights supporters in Kansas have experienced since Tiller's death." She concludes that while "the road ahead for providers and their allies to not only preserve George Tiller's specialized service, but simply to stay open, is hardly an easy one," they should find strength in his favorite saying, "Attitude is everything" (Joffe, RH Reality Check, 5/28).

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"Caught in a TRAP," Emily Bazelon, Slate's "Jurisprudence": "Abortion is on trial this week in Alabama," one of several states with a law (HB 57) that requires abortion providers "to have admitting privileges at local hospitals," Bazelon writes, noting that the future of these laws could determine "whether poor women in red (and even purple) states will continue to have access to abortion, or whether some states will succeed in shutting down every clinic within driving distance, all in the name of protecting women (from themselves)." The Alabama law -- and similar targeted regulation of abortion providers, or TRAP, laws in other states -- have "been written for an audience of one -- Supreme Court swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy," who joined the majority in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision that said states cannot impose an "undue burden" on women's access to abortion, Bazelon explains. The justices did not define what constitutes an undue burden, meaning that "[w]e'll have to wait for the Supreme Court challenge" to the TRAP laws to see if obstacles like the "expenses of travel, lodging, and often child care," which "would be much heavier for poor women," are unconstitutional in Kennedy's eyes, Bazelon writes (Bazelon, "Jurisprudence," Slate, 5/26).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "The Obscure Legal Fights That Could Wipe Out the Country's Abortion Clinics," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "Medical Provider Says: Risk of Unsafe Abortion in Texas is Growing," Ms. Magazine blog.