Legal Wrap: The Gosnell Trial, and More on Coordinated Right-Wing Manipulations


Legal Wrap is a round-up of key legal and reproductive justice news

The trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell is a sad reminder of what happens when desperate women cannot access affordable, safe abortion care: They become victims at the hands of opportunists who prey on the vulnerable. At RH Reality Check, we re-published this piece by Dr. Lynnette Leighton, who first reacted to the story when reports surfaced. Meanwhile, Amanda Marcotte offers a fresh perspective on the case. One conclusion that surfaces right away is that as the assaults on reproductive choice have increased, so have the dangers to people needing abortions. But that won’t stop anti-abortion activists from twisting and manipulating the story to push for even more draconian measures.

Much of the right-wing argument against the contraception benefit in the Affordable Care Act relies on nonsensical readings of the First Amendment and arguments that individual religious rights magically transfer to a for-profit corporation. Imani Gandy explains why those arguments just don’t add up.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is fighting back against efforts by the Roman Catholic Archdioecese of New York to subpoena documents from the White House related to discussions and considerations within the administration at the time the contraception benefit and its religious exemption were first created.

The contraception benefit may not be before the Supreme Court yet, but there’s no doubt it will be eventually. That’s because the challenge to the mandate is part of a specific, constructed effort by the legal arm of the radical right to keep fighting health-care reform and put as many socially divisive issues before the Supreme Court as possible. Just how organized are these efforts? Adam Chandler at Scotusblog reviewed amicus brief filings with the Supreme Court and found that the top 16 organizations filing briefs requesting that the high court hear a case are conservative organizations like the Cato Institute, the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, and the Chamber of Commerce. Progressive organizations, on the other hand, were virtually non-existent in the list of organizations petitioning the court. That must change, and fast.

Anti-choice activists are constantly on the hunt for ways to bring their messaging into public schools Those ways include handing out hundreds of small rubber replicas of fetuses to high school students and then suing once school officials tried to stop the activity. As Think Progress reports, it turns out the First Amendment does not allow activists an unqualified freedom to disrupt a school environment with political speech.

If the state trends on abortions restrictions for 2013 continue at the current pace, not only will this turn out to be a busy year for anti-choice lawmakers, it will be a busy year for the state and federal courts who hear legal challenges to those laws as well. Case in point: Alabama may have enacted an unnecessary targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) law designed to close clinics in the state, but women’s health and rights groups plan to put up a legal challenge to the bill.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy

  • Piercey

    Just a quick question about the Gosnell trial.. I have heard the right wing arguments, and a lot of left wing ones as well. As far as you are concerned, abortion should be available unrestricted right up to birth right? So in that case, Gosnell should be found not guilty of the murders?? I am just confused as to how the “radical left” see this, since Gosnell was really actually saving them from excess suffering that they would have endured if he had performed a legal D&E abortion or something of the sort. At least his method was over quickly for the child

    • cjvg

      These were viable fetuses, aborted after viability was present.
      Pro-choice people are in every case pro-life, as opposed to the anti-choice crowd like you who only see a fetus as being alive and a woman as disposable non human incubators.
      This atrocity is the result of anti-choice policies that make it virtually impossible for poor woman to obtain an early abortion before viability.
      Fetus’s before 26-30 months of gestation do not have the brain structure, synapses etc in place to be sentient and aware like an actual alive woman is, not that you care.
      You are perfectly well aware that abortion after viability is not legal and never legally available anywhere in this country!
      No one promotes this option or is even requesting it to be legal.
      You are a disgustingly low form of humanity to use the tragic and anti-choice created circumstances that left these women no other options then this.

      • http://www.facebook.com/amy.pierce.566 Amy Pierce

        I don’t understand what you mean when you say pro choice people are in every case prolife..

        • cjvg

          If you could read you would have noticed that I explained why pro-choice people are in ALL cases pro-life.
          But since you apparently can not read more then 5 sentences in a row I will break it down for you.
          A fetus is not sentient or clinically alive until 26-30 weeks gestation (abortion can only be obtained until at most 24 weeks gestation, which is also the point of viability)
          This is per EEG measurements and the same clinical guidelines used to determine if a person is deceased.
          Until after abortion becomes unavailable the only person involved is the woman, and as such a pro-choice position respects the only life involved up to that point!

      • http://www.facebook.com/amy.pierce.566 Amy Pierce

        Also, your president (not mine, I am not American) voted against legislation that would protect children who survive abortions 4 times.. If they survive abortions, surely they are viable. I’m sure you are also aware of PP’s position on the born-alive infants bill: if the child survives an attempted abortion, the choice to treat the child or to end it’s life should be up to the mother and her physician.. Again, many of these children are viable! And also, the issue of bodily autonomy is no longer relevant in these cases!

        • cjvg

          Well little “darling” neither am I, what was your argument again?

        • http://www.facebook.com/Feral.9.Hex Carla Clark

          Actually, Obama voted against the legislation because there were already laws in place to protect a baby at that stage. Really, try harder, next time. Also, she was saying that these babies were viable. And could you please provide links to your sources, antis? The issue of bodily autonomy is not relevant after the fetus emerges completely from the woman’s body. That’s why we absolutely find Gosnell disgusting. However, antis should be proud of him, considering that he’s ‘punishing’ women for having unsanctioned sex….In my country, abortion is legal at any time, but medically regulated, as it should be, since it is a medical procedure. Yet, for some reason, meaning a reason that antis can’t grasp, abortion rates are comparable to nations where abortion is illegal, it’s just that fewer women, indisputable persons, die.

  • Piercey

    “Saving them from excess suffering that they would have endured” sorry sounds unclear… I’m talking about the suffering of the fetus

    • cjvg

      Of course, we know.
      After all women are not human and who cares if they suffer!