Legal Wrap: Advocates Push for Federal Abortion Rights Protections


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

Reproductive rights and health advocates took to Capitol Hill to introduce the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would create federal protections against state reproductive rights restrictions. Activists simultaneously launched a renewed effort to lift bans of public funding for abortion coverage by repealing the Hyde Amendment and targeting similar rules that prohibit low-income women from accessing abortion care.

Imani Gandy has this must-read on why equating abortion with slavery is deeply problematic.

Sofia Resnick explains how anti-choice activists are abusing state statutory rape reporting laws to target abortion providers.

Conservatives across the country are advocating for 20-week abortion restrictions on the premise that that is when a fetus “feels pain.” But Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin turn the conversation on its head and ask whether those activists consider pregnant women persons after 20 weeks’ gestation.

An Alabama man convicted of raping his teenage neighbor will serve no jail time thanks to an Alabama judge and his creative take on sentencing guidelines.

Meanwhile, the former head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention branch was acquitted of charges that he groped a young woman outside a Virginia bar.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a complaint with state regulators, alleging that a rural Catholic hospital is directing doctors not to discuss abortion with its patients, even when a patient’s life is at risk by continuing their pregnancy.

A comprehensive new report shows that Texans in the Rio Grande Valley can’t access affordable reproductive health care thanks to cuts in family planning services. The effect of those cuts has been devastating and amounts to a violation of Texans’ human rights, the report found.

The Roberts Court turned away another abortion rights case last week, declining to hear a challenge to an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling that struck as unconstitutional that state’s mandatory ultrasound law.

More federal courts of appeals weigh in on the contraception mandate, while the Roberts Court considers taking up the legal challenges later this month.

Republicans filibustered yet another nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Georgetown Law professor Nina Pillard drew fire from conservatives for her beliefs that reproductive rights are essential to gender equality and for her work advocating for women’s rights, but Republicans had already made it clear they were never going to confirm her anyway.

The State of Texas filed its response to abortion providers’ request that the Supreme Court intervene in the legal battle over HB 2, an omnibus anti-abortion law. Not surprisingly, anti-choice activists don’t believe forcing clinics to close and Texans to travel hundreds of miles to access care is any big deal, let alone a constitutional crisis.

On a better note, a New York court made it clear that a person’s constitutional rights are not suspended once they become pregnant. The court ruled that a pregnant woman who moved from California to New York to attend college did not “abscond with a child,” and that a lower court’s earlier ruling to the contrary had the effect of compromising women’s rights to travel, work, and go to school.

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