July 15, 2019

The Trump administration on Monday said taxpayer-funded family planning clinics can no longer refer women for abortions.

The Health and Human Services Department also told clinics that they must maintain separate finances from facilities that provide abortions, The Associated Press reports. Every year, about four million low-income women are able to receive family planning and preventative health services through the Title X program, which provides $260 million worth of grants to independent clinics. Under federal law, taxpayer funds cannot be used to pay for abortions.

Many of these clinics are operated by Planned Parenthood, and President Leana Wen said the organization is hoping to get the regulations overturned in federal court. Several professional groups, including the American Medical Association, are against the new policy, saying it could affect how a woman receives basic medical care. Catherine Garcia

July 3, 2019

A federal judge blocked Ohio's harsh new restriction from taking effect while a legal challenge from the ACLU goes forward, The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday.

The legislation, signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) back in April, prohibits abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which is usually around the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy. It includes an exception to save the life of the mother but does not have exceptions for pregnancies conceived through rape or incest. The law would have taken effect on July 11. Similar "heartbeat bills" have already passed in five other states, though two are held up by court challenges.

The ACLU previously pledged to fight Ohio's bill in court, and announced the order from Judge Michael Barrett on Wednesday. Barrett wrote that the abortion providers challenging the bill were "certain to succeed on the merits," under the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. DeWine and other lawmakers pushing strict abortion bills have openly expressed that they hope the legal battle over the restrictions will go all the way to the Supreme Court to possibly challenge Roe. Read more at The Columbus Dispatch. Summer Meza

June 14, 2019

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that undocumented immigrant minors in federal custody cannot be blocked from getting abortions, striking down the Trump administration's efforts to prevent migrant teenagers from visiting abortion clinics while detained.

BuzzFeed News reports that the ruling is part of an ongoing fight between the government and the court. The Trump administration tried to block a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant in federal custody from receiving an abortion back in October, but the court decided she should be allowed to visit a clinic "promptly and without delay."

Now, the court has ruled more broadly, deciding they were "rejecting the government's position that its denial of abortion access can be squared with Supreme Court precedent." Trump administration officials implemented a policy in 2017 that banned the Office of Refugee Resettlement from allowing undocumented, unaccompanied minors to receive abortions. The policy was defanged by a district judge shortly after, and the government has since argued that it was being forced to "facilitate" abortions and encouraging "abortion tourism."

The court on Friday disagreed, saying the various arguments were "misguided" and pointing to the fact that a minor in custody is reliant on the ORR for all health care needs. The judges concluded the policy violated Supreme Court precedent and placed "undue burden" on a person's right to an abortion.

The ACLU cheered the decision, calling the original policy a "blatant abuse of power" and noting the ruling comes amid a push to challenge the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling. Reuters' Lawrence Hurley agreed, predicting the case is "probably headed to the Supreme Court." Read more at BuzzFeed News. Summer Meza

May 18, 2018

On Friday, the Trump administration will unveil a policy that would block federal funds from going to any clinic or program that provides abortion services, including promoting abortion or steering women to a clinic that provides them, The New York Times reports. Federal law already prevents Title X funds from being used to perform abortions. President Ronald Reagan had instituted a similar policy, called a "gag rule" by critics and medical groups, in 1988, but court challenges prevented it from fully taking effect before President Bill Clinton scrapped it in 1994. President Trump's order is similarly expected to face court challenge.

Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America — the main target of the rule — called the proposal an "outrageous" and "dangerous" decision "designed to force doctors and nurses to lie to their patients" and "make it impossible for millions of patients to get birth control or preventive care from reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood." Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List organization, thanked Trump for his "decisive leadership" on pro-life issues and said this move will "energize" his conservative supporters this fall. Peter Weber

March 8, 2018

On Thursday, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted 75-34 in favor of a bill that bans women from having abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The state Senate approved the bill Tuesday with a 35-14 vote, and the office of Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said he plans to sign it into law next week, to take effect immediately. "As I have repeatedly said, I want Mississippi to be the safest place in America for an unborn child," Bryant said in a statement. Mississippi already has strict laws regarding abortion, with the procedure banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless "the woman's life is endangered, her physical health is severely compromised, or there is a lethal fetal anomaly," the Guttmacher Institute said.

There is only one health center in the state that provides abortions, and under this new bill, doctors who violate the law could lose their medical license and face civil penalties, while women could face criminal charges. The Center for Reproductive Rights said if this "dangerous" bill becomes law, the organization will challenge it in court. "The Center is prepared to answer any attempt to undermine 40 years of Supreme Court precedent with the full force of the law," Senior Vice President Lourdes Rivera said in a statement. Catherine Garcia

July 23, 2016

The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday voted 4-1 to strike down a 2010 state law requiring doctors to notify the parents of girls under the age of 18 if their daughters seek an abortion.

The ruling is a win for Planned Parenthood and Alaskan abortion rights advocates, who made the case that the mandate was a violation of teens' privacy and a danger to girls living in abusive situations. In the majority opinion, Justice Daniel Winfree agreed, writing that the law posed a "discriminatory barrier to those minors seeking to exercise their fundamental privacy right to terminate a pregnancy."

Justice Craig Stowers, the sole dissenter, argued that where a minor is concerned, the state and her parents retain a "legitimate interest" in the situation and, in the parents' case, should be afforded the opportunity to discuss with their child the ramifications of the decision to abort. Parents are required to be notified and give consent where most other significant medical procedures are concerned. Bonnie Kristian

June 8, 2015

Abortions have declined by 12 percent since 2010 across the country, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from state health departments. Several states with the most aggressive new anti-abortion laws, including Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma, had drops of around 15 percent — but so did many more liberal states with open access to abortions. A major contributing factor was a drop in teen pregnancy, which fell in 2010 to the lowest level in decades.

In two states, though, abortions actually increased by significant amounts: Michigan, which saw an 18.5 percent rise, and Louisiana, where abortions rose 12 percent since 2010. In both states, an influx of women from more restrictive neighboring states was seen as a big factor in the increases. The sharpest decrease in abortions, percentage-wise, was Hawaii, which saw a 30 percent drop in 2010. Harold Maass

March 31, 2015

Despite the fact that a large number of Americans find abortion to be morally unacceptable, pro-abortion rights activists are determined to destigmatize the procedure.

Carafem, a new clinic in the Washington, D.C. area, has an unconventional approach to providing patients with the abortion pill. The whole clinic has a "spa-like" feel, The Washington Post reports, and patients are provided with warm teas and soft robes.

While Carafem may aim to create a soothing atmosphere, President Christopher Purdy is unapologetic about the clinic's actual purpose. "We don't want to talk in hushed tones," he said. "We use the A-word."

According to the Post, the pro-abortion rights campaign comes as the movement is struggling politically in the face of anti-abortion activists' growing momentum. Activists hope that clinics like Carafem, coupled with "unapologetic" and "bold" attempts to put a human face to abortion, will help normalize the controversial procedure. Teresa Mull

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