Legal Wrap: Anti-Choice Groups Jump on Gosnell, Castro Tragedies


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

As if the other details of the horrific kidnapping and rape case in Cleveland were not bad enough, Lindsay Beyerstein reports that Ariel Castro, who was already arraigned on four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape, could face murder charges related to terminating his victim’s pregnancies. Ohio is one of 38 states with so-called fetal homicide laws, and Beyerstein’s fantastic piece puts the Castro case in context of some other high-profile prosecutions related to terminating pregnancies.

In another example of anti-abortion activists looking to exploit tragedy at the expense of women’s lives, Imani Gandy takes on Star Parker and others in the conservative movement who are exploiting the Dr. Kermit Gonsell prosecution to promote their own debunked “Black genocide” narrative of abortion. Gosnell will spend the remainder of his life in prison thanks to an agreement with prosecutors that he drop all appeals after a jury convicted him on three first-degree murder charges.

In Arkansas, a federal district judge temporarily blocked the state’s 12-week abortion ban from taking effect in July, while a lawsuit challenging the merits of the law proceeds, ruling there was a substantial likelihood the law was unconstitutional. The ruling came shortly after the same judge tossed aside arguments by attorneys for Arkansas that the lawsuit be dismissed because the plaintiffs don’t have sufficient standing to challenge the law because they have not yet been injured by it.

Reproductive rights advocates in North Dakota filed suit to challenge a law that threatens to close the state’s only remaining abortion clinic.

Sheila Bapat reports on a first-of-its-kind mediation program that seeks to resolve disputes between domestic workers and their employers.

With a ruling on the issue of same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) looming, apparently some states have decided to ratchet up anti-LGBTQ discrimination just in case. In Florida, the family of an 18-year-old says their daughter was charged with a felony and expelled from her high school because she was involved in a consensual, same-sex relationship with another student. Meanwhile, in Texas Judge John Roach, inserted a so-called morality clause in a Texas woman’s divorce papers that effectively forbids the woman from living with her same-sex partner or else she risks losing custody of her children.

Finally, in Washington state the Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a counter-suit against Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on behalf of a florist sued by the state after she refused to provide flowers for a wedding ceremony of a same-sex couple. The counter-suit argues that the state’s lawsuit is an attempt to force the florist to act contrary to her deeply held religious beliefs and in violation of the Washington state constitution, which has in it a specific clause protecting the rights of conscience and religion.

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Follow Jessica Mason Pieklo on twitter: @hegemommy