Legal Wrap: Conservative Judges Setting the Boundaries in Fight for Abortion Rights


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

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments in a case that could close Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, reinforcing the truth that the battle lines over the future of abortion access in this country are being drawn by the most conservative federal judges in this country.

In a decision that should have had nothing to do with abortion rights, two justices of the Alabama Supreme Court went out of their way to make the legal case for prosecuting women who have had abortions.

Two veterans advocacy groups have sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming the VA is discriminating against survivors of military sexual assault when granting disability claims.

The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education issued historic and important guidelines under Title IX, making clear for the first time that the statue protects transgender students.

The Iowa legislature passed a bill that would repeal an earlier law criminalizing the transmission of HIV.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed an appeal of an evidentiary ruling that limits the evidence it can present in a lawsuit challenging the state’s telemedicine ban.

In Nebraska, a judge ruled a lawsuit challenging a state ban on gay and lesbian individuals and couples from serving as foster parents can proceed.

Remember that horrible case in Montana in which a teacher who admitted to raping a former student was sentenced to only 30 days in jail? Good news: The Montana Supreme Court struck that sentence and reassigned the case to a new judge for another round of sentencing.

As the legislative sessions in states start to wind down, here’s a list of some of the worst anti-choice bills that didn’t pass this year.

Tara Murtha reports that three high-profile hires at Pennsylvania State University have ties to football-centered sexual assault cases at other schools.

Despite opposition from the medical community, reproductive rights advocates, and even the mainstream media, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill that would allow criminal charges against women who use drugs during their pregnancy.

The Supreme Court declined to take up the case of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who lost his law license as a result of his baseless political attacks on reproductive health-care providers in the state.

Lawmakers in Florida passed a bill that further restricts abortion access in the states by redefining when patients in need may access later abortions.

Slate has this report on a growing skepticism in the legal community about prosecutions based on the medical diagnosis of “shaken baby syndrome.”

This seems about right: Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is now teaching law students at the conservative Liberty University.

Good news! A federal judge in Ohio ruled that the state must provide a transgender prison inmate hormone therapy until she is released.

More good news! Justice Mary Yu was just appointed to the Washington Supreme Court, making her the first openly LGBT person or a woman of Asian and Latina descent to join the bench.

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