Legal Wrap: New Year Kicks Off With Contraception Challenges


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

Happy New Year! While most of us were out celebrating the end of a tough year for reproductive rights, with a record number of anti-choice restrictions enacted at the state level, the Supreme Court was busy granting an emergency request by a group of nuns to block a portion of the contraception mandate. The narrow ruling gave the Obama administration an opportunity to respond to claims that a form religious nonprofits fill out to benefit from the exemption in the law violates their religious freedom. What’s at stake in the case? I explain here.

A panel of federal court judges heard appellate arguments in the challenge over Texas’ massive omnibus anti-abortion law. RH Reality Check’s Andrea Grimes was at the hearing and has this report.

While it looks like the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will likely uphold most, if not all, of the hospital admitting privileges provision of the law, just before Christmas the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling blocking a similar Wisconsin law from taking effect. The decision, along with the likely contradictory ruling still to come from the Fifth Circuit, makes the fight over hospital admitting privileges one of the key legal issues to watch for possible Supreme Court action in 2014.

Meanwhile, as if to drive home in the most tragic way possible the idea that Texas women do not control their reproductive destinies, there’s this story of a pregnant Texan kept on life support by the state against her wishes, and the wishes of her family, in order to keep the fetus she is carrying alive.

The battle for marriage equality stalled momentarily in Utah Monday as the Supreme Court issued a brief order temporarily blocking same-sex marriages in the state while a lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage proceeds in the federal courts.

Republicans in Pennsylvania are playing fast and loose with the state’s Medicaid plan. Tara Murtha explains how the state plans to extend coverage without actually expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

Dr. Kenneth Edelin, a historic figure in the reproductive rights movement, has died.

Finally, a hearing date has been set in the appeal made by Scott Roeder, the anti-chioce activist who murdered Dr. George Tiller while Tiller was attending Sunday mass in May 2009. Roeder, who is currently serving a life sentence for the crime, has argued the judge in his case was wrong to not instruct jurors they could consider the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter when deliberating.

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  • fiona64

    Roeder, who is currently serving a life sentence for the crime, has
    argued the judge in his case was wrong to not instruct jurors they could
    consider the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter when
    deliberating.

    WTF? The guy followed Dr. Tiller to church with a gun, went inside and shot him. That is clear evidence of premeditation/malice aforethought. Talk about throwing anything at the wall to see whether it will stick …