Legal Wrap: Michigan Ups the Ante in Statewide Abortion Restrictions


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

If Texas grabbed headlines over the summer for the extreme lengths anti-choices lawmakers in the state were willing to go to to advance their radical agenda, then it must be Michigan’s turn now. As Emily Crockett reports, lawmakers there used an arcane measure to pass a bill that is effectively a total ban on private insurance coverage for abortion. Under the law, should a person want abortion care covered by their insurance, they must purchase a separate “rider” or policy specifically to cover that procedure, no matter the reasons for needing to terminate the pregnancy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood have promised to respond. The question is: What will that response be?

As if to prove that conservatives are not about reducing abortions as much as they are using reproductive discrimination as one means of keeping women out of the marketplace, last week the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Michigan worker forced out of her job while pregnant.

In Montana, a federal court heard arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s parental involvement statutes.

The North Dakota Supreme Court is considering whether there’s a state right to abortion, or whether that’s a right only guaranteed by federal law. Meanwhile, the legal fees for defending all these anti-abortion laws keep adding up, including almost $159,000 for defending the state’s 2011 ban on medication abortions.

And because states are not wasting enough money on litigating anti-abortion restrictions, the anti-choice advocacy group responsible for that wave of state legislation is proposing new model laws that would let third parties sue providers for emotional damages as well sue state officials for their “failure to enforce” existing anti-choice laws.

Elections have consequences, and in Virginia they should include a change of staff. So why is Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe considering keeping the same secretary of health who pushed for state-mandated vaginal probes of patients seeking abortions?

Texans are not pleased with the state’s new omnibus anti-abortion law.

It’s weird to have the Senate working, but working it is. Here’s proof: The Senate confirmed two key equality advocates, including Georgetown Law Professor Nina Pillard to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. That’s after confirming Patricia Millett to the bench also. Progress!

More evidence of the success of the Affordable Care Act: A new study finds the historic health-care reform law is responsible for a dramatic rise in the share of privately insured women in the United States accessing contraception without a co-pay.

A well-known anti-choice activist and doctor could face disciplinary action after he made headlines claiming abortions performed in West Virginia were not safe.

Good news! Tara Murtha reports on a package of pro-women’s health bills to be pushed by the brand new “Women’s Health Caucus” in the state, while a bill in the U.S. Senate would guarantee paid family and medical leave for all workers.

Also, the convicted Alabama rapist who received no jail time will be re-sentenced. Now if only the courts could get it right the first time.

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