Legal Wrap: States Turn to Prosecuting Pregnant People


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

Tennessee lawmakers are poised to make history in prosecuting pregnant women struggling with drug use and chemical dependency issues. Meanwhile in South Carolina, a woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly killing her 6-week-old by breastfeeding it while taking prescription narcotics.

Florida lawmakers are looking for yet another way to try and ban abortion outright, this time with a bill that could subject every woman who has a miscarriage to criminal investigation.

Virginia created a “conscience clause” for genetic counselors that could become a model for other states nationwide.

Andrea Grimes has this chilling portrait of an anti-abortion “abolitionist.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has decided to come to the defense of a “sociopathic” neurosurgeon with a history of killing and maiming patients.

Reproductive rights advocates have asked the entire panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to review a recent decision that upheld Texas’ admitting privileges requirements and restrictions on medication abortions.

On a related note, Imani Gandy has this must-read piece on the origins of Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law, HB 2.

Don’t think for a second the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act are slowing down anytime soon.

Conservatives push against marriage equality while making divorce harder to obtain for same-sex couples that are already married.

The Arkansas Attorney General announced plans to appeal a lower court ruling striking as unconstitutional the state’s 12-week abortion ban.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has done a good job at holding back the worst of the anti-choice legislation passed by conservatives there, which naturally makes the court the next target for Republican lawmakers.

Virginia lawmakers are in a stalemate over expanding Medicaid, which Catholic bishops see as an excellent opening to try and force new abortion funding restrictions through.

Lawmakers in Louisiana advanced a measure that would prevent abortion providers and their affiliates from instructing or providing materials about sexual health in public schools.

Reproductive health-care advocates filed a second lawsuit challenging an Arizona law that restricts the use of abortion-inducing medications. This lawsuit was filed just as a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the measures on different grounds while a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality moves forward.

All these examples lead to one troubling question: In an age of targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws and the undue burden standard, what does a “right to chose” really even mean?

Good news! While state lawmakers continue to push anti-abortion legislation, at least 64 provisions designed to protect or expand access have also been introduced.

Case in point: Colorado lawmakers advanced legislation that would forbid state and local governments from interfering with reproductive health-care decisions or with access to reproductive health care.

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