Legal Wrap: Marlise Munoz and the Right to Die


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

An important decision out of New Mexico affirmed a fundamental right to make end-of-life choices. The decision came down during the weeks when attorneys in Texas were negotiating whether or not a Fort Worth hospital would remove mechanical support from the body of Marlise Munoz, which sadly underscores that right now in this country those fundamental rights to make your own end-of-life decisions end when you become pregnant.

The Iowa Supreme Court will reconsider the sentence of a man who plead guilty to criminal transmission of HIV in a case that has become a rallying point for activists calling for an overhaul of state laws that can make HIV transmission a crime.

The religious nonprofit group the Life Center will be allowed to continue giving women free ultrasounds in a remodeled RV thanks to a settlement with the city of Elgin, Illinois, in a dispute over a zoning ordinance that blocked these types of mobile crisis pregnancy centers. However, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, this sounds less like a settlement and more like attorneys for the city gave the anti-choice challengers everything they asked for.

In Kansas, a judge ruled that a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple is also responsible for child support.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona has asked the Supreme Court to intervene in efforts by anti-choice activists to strip the reproductive health-care provider of Medicaid funds.

Meanwhile, members of Congress and a host of advocacy organizations have begun submitting briefs in the for-profit challenges to the contraception mandate.

For now, the Little Sisters of the Poor won’t have to comply with the contraception mandate in Obamacare, but I wouldn’t call it a win for the nuns just yet.

There’s good news and bad news out of Oklahoma, where a judge permanently blocked a state law designed to reinstate age and identification restrictions on emergency contraception lifted by the Food and Drug Administration, and anti-choice lawmakers pre-filed a slew of new bills designed to curb abortion access.

Adele Stan has all the latest from Congress, where Republican lawmakers passed yet another regressive, extreme anti-choice bill.

Missouri lawmakers want to shield medical providers from participating in any reproductive health-care procedure they find offensive because of religious beliefs.

With the fate of buffer zones around the country hanging in the balance of the Roberts Court, New Hampshire pushes ahead with its efforts to protect clinics and patients from anti-choice harassment.

Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans plan to block expanding Medicaid in the state, because apparently that’s how a party responds to voters after losing an election.

Louisiana lawmakers have a sneaky new way to try and regulate abortion out of existence in their state.

A doctor in Indiana is facing charges following an avalanche of anti-choice complaints, and Emily Crockett explains how this case is a good example of the ways anti-choice groups are increasingly exploiting mandatory reporting rules to try and discredit doctors and close clinics.

Like a lot of states, New Jersey promotes its maternal methadone programs as important tools in combating substance dependency among pregnant women. So why does the state want to charge pregnant women who use methadone with child abuse?

There was an important decision from the First Circuit Court of Appeals: The court ruled Massachusetts cannot deny an incarcerated transgender woman gender reassignment surgery.

Missouri Republicans came up with a host of restrictions on individuals and organizations who help people sign up for health insurance under Obamacare, but a federal court wasn’t impressed and blocked the restrictions from taking effect.

Ending on a positive note: Several states (finally) seek to curb the horrific practice of shackling pregnant prisoners when they give birth.

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