January 6, 2015


"The Good, the Bad, and the Truly Appalling: What Happened to Reproductive Rights in 2014," Rachel Easter, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": Easter discusses several "lowlights" of the past year regarding "women's ability to access comprehensive reproductive care." For example, she notes that states "continued to pass laws aimed at restricting access to abortion," particularly in Texas, where "thousands of women effectively lost access to safe, legal abortion when clinics were forced to close" as a result of a 2013 state law (HB 2). Meanwhile, a Supreme Court ruling to allow certain for-profit corporations to deny contraceptive coverage in their health plans "leaves the women who work for these companies without a critical benefit in the health insurance they earned through their work and paid for through their premiums," Easter writes. However, Easter also notes several "bright spots for women's access to reproductive health," including the defeat of several state antiabortion-rights measures, the failed "'personhood' ballot measures" in Colorado and North Dakota, the "introduction of broad women's agendas" in New York and Pennsylvania, and several court rulings that "block[ed] terrible laws passed by state politicians that interfere in a woman's personal medical decisions" (Easter, "Womenstake," NWLC, 12/31/14).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "What to Expect in Reproductive Rights in 2015," Rebecca, NARAL Pro-Choice America's "Blog for Choice."

~ "Top 10 Victories for Women in 2014," Robin Marty, Care2.

~ "Top 10 Defeats for Women in 2014," Marty, Care2.

~ "The Top 10 Feminist Moments of 2014," Stephanie Hallett, Ms. Magazine blog.


"Federal Court Agrees: Women Can't Be Forced To Have an Ultrasound Before an Abortion," Kevin Mathews, Care2: A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that North Carolina's requirement that a woman undergo an ultrasound before an abortion is "unconstitutional," thus "ensuring that doctors won't have to first attempt to guilt women about a private medical decision," Mathews writes. Specifically, the three-judge panel unanimously ruled that "[f]orcing doctors to perform a non-necessary ultrasound and talk about the fetus in detail infringes on their professional discretion and free speech rights." However, Mathews notes that "the battle still might not be over" because "anti-abortion activists in the state ... have vowed to contest the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court." While it is "unknown whether the Supreme Court would take the case ... it may be enticed to considering that other states have ultrasound laws on the books, including one in Texas which has been upheld in federal court" (Mathews, Care2, 12/23/14).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Chart of the Day: Over 200 New Anti-Choice State Laws Enacted in the Last 4 Years," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.

~ "Baby Talk," S.M., The Economist's "Democracy in America."


"New Jersey Supreme Court: Methadone Treatment While Pregnant Not Child Abuse," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: The New Jersey Supreme Court last month unanimously reversed a lower court's decision by ruling "that the state's civil child abuse statute cannot be used to charge patients who receive medically prescribed methadone treatment while pregnant," Mason Pieklo writes. She notes that the case involved a woman referred to by the court as Y.N., who hospital staff recommended "enter a methadone maintenance treatment program," which she did "about a month before she gave birth to a healthy baby boy who was successfully treated for symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome ... which is a group of side effects that may result from methadone treatment and other medications." Mason Pieklo writes that the NAS diagnosis caused Y.N. to be reported to the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency, which ruled that she "abused her child because she agreed with her physician's recommendation and followed the prescribed course of methadone treatment while pregnant." Mason Pieklo adds that the state Supreme Court's decision "rejects fear-based speculation of drug harm to infants and instead listens to experts in maternal, fetal, and addiction treatment as to the best manner to address the issues of drug use during pregnancy and potential fetal harm" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 12/23/14).

What others are saying about criminalizing pregnancy:

~ "Trending: Prosecutions of Pregnant Women Continue in Wisconsin," Abigail Omojola, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."