Abortion legal news round-up!

C.A. Goldberg supports abortion providers, organizations, clinics, patients and advocates dealing with threats, violence, intimidation, stalking, online harassment and doxxing. We’re currently looking for a new associate to lead our abortion provider justice practice. And until we find the superstar we seek, we’ll be talking more about this practice to explain what we do.

To start, here’s a round-up of interesting and important reads about reproductive healthcare from the past few weeks!

Slate, March 2023: “You Know What? I’m Not Doing This Anymore.” 

Medical providers say they are facing impossible situations that pit their ethical obligation to patients who are dealing with traumatic and dangerous pregnancy complications against the fear of lawsuits, loss of their medical licenses, and incarceration.

The Guardian, March 2023: How close to death must a woman be to get an abortion in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, doctors who spoke with the Guardian on the condition of anonymity say anecdotal evidence suggests the state is already seeing an uptick in teenage births and that –since it has been about nine months since the trigger ban took effect – they are anticipating an increased number of babies being born who have life-threatening conditions that will immediately require treatment in neonatal units.

Vox, March 2023: The anti-abortion movement’s next radical legal argument. 

Until very recently, nearly everyone accepted some basic ideas about the American legal system. If a state passes a law, and that law is challenged in court, we should act as if that law is still in effect while the case works its way through the court system. That changes only if a judge issues a “preliminary injunction” blocking the law while the lawsuit plays out or a “permanent injunction” to strike the law down. In that case, we all act as if the law is not in effect. But in recent years, an aggressive wing of the anti-abortion movement has been working to challenge this broadly held idea of legality — a push that has attracted little notice, but is further complicating the debate over abortion access. 

The New York Times, March 2023: Wyoming Becomes First State to Outlaw the Use of Pills for Abortion. 

Wyoming’s abortion pill law would take effect on July 1 and would make it illegal to “prescribe, dispense, distribute, sell, or use any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.” Doctors or anyone else found guilty of violating this law would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in prison and a $9,000 fine.

Associated Press, March 2023: New Mexico gov. signs bill overriding local abortion bans. 

New Mexico’s governor signed an abortion-rights bill on Thursday that overrides local ordinances aimed at limiting access to abortion procedures and medications.

USA Today, March 2023: ‘Dobbs did not break us’: How West Virginia’s Katie Quiñonez plans to keep helping women.

“What Dobbs taught me is that you keep fighting for what matters even when it feels hopeless. Roe fell, but we’re still standing. Abortion will be legal again in West Virginia in my lifetime, and I’ll be just one of many people who plays a part in that happening. Dobbs did not break us – if anything, Dobbs taught me how strong we are.” 

Dallas Morning News, March 2023: Texas women with risky pregnancies sue over how state’s abortion ban forced them to flee

In March 2023, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of five women in Texas after they were denied abortions, despite having dangerous pregnancy complications. Detailing the dangerous conditions the women suffered, the lawsuit insists that the language of the restrictive Texas law is unclear and results in doctors denying women abortions, out of fear of incurring $100,000 fines and criminal prosecution, even in cases of life-threatening pregnancies.

Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, stated “What the law is forcing physicians to do is weigh these very real threats of criminal prosecution against the health and wellbeing of their patients.”

The lawsuit requests that Texas make clear when doctors can perform medical abortions. 

Business Insider, March 2023: Police are prosecuting​ abortion seekers using their digital data — and Facebook and Google help them do it

With the help of Google and Facebook, law enforcement is collecting data from social-media platforms to prosecute women seeking abortions or abortion-inducing medication, according to Business Insider.

Politico, March 2023: Walgreens won’t distribute abortion pills in states where GOP AGs object

In early March, Walgreens, the second-largest pharmacy chain in the nation, confirmed that it will stop dispensing abortion pills – the most common form of abortion in the US – in many states, including several where it is still very much legal. This decision reflects how, in a post-Roe world, abortion access varies immensely from state to state and can be threatened even in places where abortion is not criminalized. The adviser for state government affairs for the American Pharmacists Association, E. Michael Murphy, explained that contradictions between state and federal law make it difficult for pharmacists to provide the best care they can to their patients.

NPR, March 2023: Texas man sues ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her get abortion pills

A man from Texas has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three women who allegedly helped his ex-wife obtain abortion pills to terminate a pregnancy in 2022.

He alleges that his ex-wife tried to conceal her pregnancy and induced abortion. His lead attorney was instrumental in designing Senate Bill 8, the Texas abortion ban implemented before the Dobbs decision which allows private citizens to sue those who may be assisting individuals in obtaining abortions.

The prosecution insists that assisting an abortion in Texas is “an act of murder.”

The Guardian, March 2023:  Artwork referring to abortion removed from Idaho public college exhibition

Lewis-Clark State College, a public college in Idaho, removed an upcoming art exhibition which has several pieces which deal with reproductive health and abortion. The exhibition, Unconditional Care, sheds light on important health issues, which include pregnancy and abortion.

In a statement to the Guardian, the college said that “after obtaining legal advice, per Idaho Code Section 18-8705 some of the proposed exhibits could not be included in the exhibition”. Idaho Code Section 18-8705 is included in the No Public Funds for Abortion act, passed by Idaho’s legislature following the fall of Roe, and forbids public entities from participating in transactions involving abortion providers or affiliates and bans public employees from counseling in pregnancy termination or referring someone to an abortion clinic.

Kristen Shahverdian, senior manager of Free Expression and Education at PEN America, said, “Banning these artworks signals to people — especially women — that they must silence themselves and their experiences when it comes to any aspect of reproductive or sexual health, stripping them of their fundamental rights to free expression.”

AND – good news!

New York Assembly Bill 1395

Under this bill, sponsored by 21 Democratic assembly members, the 25 CUNY and 64 SUNY campuses throughout New York would be compelled to provide access to medication abortion prescription drugs or referrals at student health centers. The bill would take effect on August 1, 2023.

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