Roundup: The Road To The Supreme Court is Paved With Good Intentions

Robin Marty

Nebraska Fetal Pain law weighed in on by lawyers, scientists, and...PETA!

Is it the Yellow Brick Road, or the Highway to Hell?  All I know is that the Nebraska Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is starting its long process to its real target — the Supreme Court, and no one is shocked at all.

It’s been called a groundbreaking law, but a measure approved in Nebraska last week that changes the rationale for abortion bans probably won’t go into effect anytime soon — if ever.

Instead, abortion opponents are hoping it will become the most important case on abortion to reach the U.S. Supreme Court in recent memory. Even they acknowledge the ban on abortions at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy won’t see the light of day unless the high court rules that it is constitutional.

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The long trip to the high court — if it indeed lands there — combined with the time it takes for a ruling there could mean a final decision on the law is several years away.

First, a legal challenge must be posed. No one has stepped forward yet, but Dr. LeRoy Carhart, one of the nation’s few late-term abortion providers, is considered a likely candidate. Carhart, who practices in an Omaha suburb and is the target of the new Nebraska law, was a plaintiff in two of the biggest abortion cases of the last decade that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Anti-choice proponents are hoping that they can use the more conservative bent of the court to strike down the ban on limiting abortion before viability, and hope they have a savior in Justice Kennedy.

The fetal pain law violates court precedent that abortions cannot be banned before viability, so it is likely that an injunction will be issued, said Caitlin Borgmann, an abortion law scholar at the City University of New York.

“What the sponsors and supporters are really hoping for is a test case for Justice [Anthony] Kennedy,’’ she said.

Kennedy, a moderate conservative considered a swing vote, is seen by abortion opponents as their best chance for tighter restrictions on the procedure. Abortion rights advocates say he has done nothing to suggest he would favor a previability ban, but opponents are hopeful because of his positions on two high-profile abortion cases over the past decade. Both involve Carhart.

Alternet points out that for a crowd that likes to decry “judicial activism” they sure are interested in having courts make a decision that could overrule precedent.

So what’s going to happen once this gets to the Supreme Court? Tough to say, as we’re about to be treated to another episode of everyone’s favorite reality show, “Supreme Court Justice Confirmation.” But keep in mind, the Conservative Four (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito) will be there regardless of who the rookie justice will be. And the Conservative Four have shown no hesitance to make dramatic changes in settled law – just go read about Citizens United and see how they turned decades of campaign finance reform on its’ collective head.

But, you might ask, shouldn’t the idea of judges making dramatic changes to settled law run counter to conservative ideals? Isn’t that – gasp – judicial activism that is so anathema to conservatives everywhere? Shouldn’t conservatives who believe in their principles just go to the ballot box and try to change law through the legislature instead of using the court to end run the will of the people, like they’ve loudly and consistently accused progressives of doing?

They should. I hope they do. I’m not holding my breath.

Of course, the best part is that the entire bill has been passed with the justification of faulty science.  This article includes not only a rebuttal of every one of the four “pain standard” thresholds presented in Nebraska, but continues on to acknowledge that almost no one agrees with the main proponent’s thesis and even those who do say it is utterly irrelevant.

Does anyone agree with Anand?     

Sort of. Vivette Glover of Imperial College London thinks it’s possible fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks “but it’s far from certain”. She backs giving anaesthesia at this stage just in case.

“But this does not justify changing the abortion time limit, where the interests of the mother may be much more important than those of the fetus, and the two have to be balanced,” she adds.

Indeed, Maria Fitzgerald of University College London, co-author of a report on fetal pain in 1997 by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, calls the Nebraska law “completely irrational”. She points out that even if fetuses could feel pain at 20 weeks, “it is irrelevant because if you wanted you could make sure there was adequate analgesia for an abortion”.

All of this still not enough of a circus for you?  Well, thank goodness we have PETA to weigh in on the fray

Lincoln, Neb. — In the wake of reports that Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman signed two bills broadening the restrictions on abortion, PETA is weighing in on the issue … kind of. The group plans to erect a billboard in Lincoln that reads, “Pro-Life? Go Vegan.” Click here to see the billboard.

“People who support slaughterhouses every time they lift a fork cannot call themselves ‘pro-life,'” says PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. “We’re asking pro-life advocates to keep every heart beating by going vegan.”

In today’s industrialized meat and dairy industries, chickens and turkeys have their throats cut while they’re still conscious, piglets have their tails and testicles cut off without being given any painkillers, fish are suffocated or cut open while they’re still alive on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth.

Mini Roundup: Live Action gets no action in Wisconsin, and Santorum claims having everyone have access to healthcare is the greatest of oppression.

April 16, 2010

Texas law brings new abortion awareness – Oregon Daily Emerald

Want an abortion? Get prescreened – OneNewsNow

Pass the ban on abortion funding – Opelousas Daily World

McDonnell amends 122 bills – Roanoke Times

THE INFLUENCE GAME: Health care fight still rages – The Associated Press

Would-be Stupak rival raises $105K – Detroit Free Press

Veto Shows Abortion Corruption Started by Sebelius Encourages Carhart to … – Christian News Wire

Briefing: New law claims a fetus can feel pain – New Scientist

McDonnell accepts abortion ‘choice’ license bill, but blocks revenue from … – UPI.com

Remember Roe! – Newsweek

Objections raised, still abortion restrictions bill advances in Senate – Missourinet.com

Abortion coverage could sink Utahn’s low-income health insurance plans – Deseret News

Capitol Watch: Court fees, abortion and ethics – Kansas City Star

Pro-life ‘Moses’ Backs ‘Pro-choice’ Candidate – The New American

Former US senator criticizes “legal fictions” used to justify abortion – Louisville Courier-Journal

Obama Weighs Supreme Court Nominees, and Each Potential Battle – New York Times

April 17, 2010

PETA Joins Nebraska’s Abortion Debate – PETA

No charges in undercover Planned Parenthood video – Chicago Sun-Times

Medical care in developing world not the same as that in Canada – Owen Sound Sun Times

After distorted interview, Brazilian archbishop reaffirms Catholic teaching on … – Catholic News Agency

Call for inquiry on baby bonus abortion loophole – NEWS.com.au

Nebraska Abortion Law Challenges Roe v. Wade – The New American

Strong Support For Parental Notification Law – Scoop.co.nz

Utahns having fewer babies – Salt Lake Tribune

China detains parents of couples refusing sterilisation – Sify

April 18, 2010

Branstad’s Pre-Convention Message to Delegates – DesMoinesRegister.com

After health care fight, Stupak ponders legacy, future out of public life – The Saginaw News – MLive.com

Charlene Sitas: Court’s contradictions on abortion confusing – Wisconsin State Journal

Republican governor candidates champion anti-abortion credentials – Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Abortion protesters’ signs were distasteful – Statesman Journal

Making abortion illegal doesn’t ‘save babies’, it kills and maims women and girls – East African

Strict new Neb. abortion law faces long legal road – The Associated Press

Using the law, we can reduce the number of abortions – East African

Foes may target Wood’s stance on abortion rights – Washington Post

Abortion rulings could bring scrutiny of possible Supreme Court pick Wood – Washington Post

Conservatives get set to cheer for judicial activism – AlterNet

Health reform seeks status quo on abortion – American Medical News

Obama’s abortion policies are shameful – Augusta Chronicle

Promise to rewrite Constitution will reignite debate on abortion – Irish Independent

Shall the righteous inherit the earth? – Seattle Post Intelligencer

Hundreds of Residents Receive Free Medical Services – BeritaJakarta.com

Kenya to align HIV/Aids strategy with new WHO guidelines – East African

April 19, 2010

GOP Promises to “Take Back New Hampshire” – The New American

Hontiveros, Tatad debate on RH Bill – ABS CBN News

Legal fights await abortion law – Boston Globe

Albuquerque – world’s next abortion capital? – OneNewsNow

WHO Official Praises Obama’s Recognition Of Need For Legal Abortion – Medical News Today

District not worried about sex ed warning  – Oshkosh Northwestern

News Law and Policy

California Lawmakers Take Action Against Rampant Wage Theft

Nicole Knight

A survey of people who work for low wages found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the "wage theft capital of the country."

Los Angeles has earned the distinction as the country’s wage theft capital, but a new California law is tackling the rampant problem of wage theft with new enforcement tools.

The law, SB 1342, signed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), gives city and county authorities subpoena powers when investigating wage violations. Until now, the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement was the primary agency charged with investigating wage theft cases.

State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) authored the legislation to “ensure that our low-wage workers, who already face many challenges, receive the pay that they have earned,” Mendoza wrote in an Orange County Breeze op-ed.

Wage theft is the illegal practice of failing to pay overtime and minimum wages, denying lunch breaks, or forcing employees to work off the clock. A survey of people who work for low wages by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the “wage theft capital of the country.”

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Some 654,914 workers in L.A. County are subjected to at least one pay-based violation in any given week, researchers noted.

Most people who work low-wage jobs in L.A. were born outside the United States, and the majority are Latino (73.4 percent), Asian (17.9 percent), or Black (6.3 percent), researchers found.

Wage theft is not only illegal, it contributes to food insecurity and housing instability in low-income families, Mendoza noted.

“This bill protects hard-working Californians by clarifying the ability of cities and counties to investigate non-compliance with local wage laws,” Mendoza said.

A legislative analysis of SB 1342 cited research noting that minimum wage violations are rampant in industries such as garment manufacturing, domestic service, building services, and department stores, where wages are low.

The measure comes as states and cities are increasing minimum wages as lawmakers in Congress have refused to consider raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Brown in April signed a law lifting the statewide minimum pay rate to $15 per hour by 2022. More than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, have proposed or enacted $15 minimum wage rates, according to the National Employment Law Project.

News Abortion

How Long Does It Take to Receive Abortion Care in the United States?

Nicole Knight

The national findings come amid state-level research in Texas indicating that its abortion restrictions forced patients to drive farther and spend more to end their pregnancies.

The first nationwide study exploring the average wait time between an abortion care appointment and the procedure found most patients are waiting one week.

Seventy-six percent of patients were able to access abortion care within 7.6 days of making an appointment, with 7 percent of patients reporting delays of more than two weeks between setting an appointment and having the procedure.

In cases where care was delayed more than 14 days, patients cited three main factors: personal challenges, such as losing a job or falling behind on rent; needing a second-trimester procedure, which is less available than earlier abortion services; or living in a state with a mandatory waiting period.

The study, “Time to Appointment and Delays in Accessing Care Among U.S. Abortion Patients,” was published online Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute.

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The national findings come amid state-level research in Texas indicating that its abortion restrictions forced patients to drive farther and spend more to end their pregnancies. A recent Rewire analysis found states bordering Texas had reported a surge in the number of out-of-state patients seeking abortion care.

“What we tend to hear about are the two-week or longer cases, or the women who can’t get in [for an appointment] because the wait is long and they’re beyond the gestational stage,” said Rachel K. Jones, lead author and principal research scientist with the Guttmacher Institute.

“So this is a little bit of a reality check,” she told Rewire in a phone interview. “For the women who do make it to a facility, providers are doing a good job of accommodating these women.”

Jones said the survey was the first asking patients about the time lapse between an appointment and procedure, so it’s impossible to gauge whether wait times have risen or fallen. The findings suggest that eliminating state-mandated waiting periods would permit patients to obtain abortion care sooner, Jones said.

Patients in 87 U.S. abortion facilities took the surveys between April 2014 and June 2015. Patients answered various questions, including how far they had traveled, why they chose the facility, and how long ago they’d called to make their appointment.

The study doesn’t capture those who might want abortion care, but didn’t make it to a clinic.

“If women [weren’t] able to get to a facility because there are too few of them or they’re too far way, then they’re not going to be in our study,” Jones said.

Fifty-four percent of respondents came from states without a forced abortion care waiting period. Twenty-two percent were from states with mandatory waits, and 24 percent lived in states with both a mandatory waiting period and forced counseling—common policies pushed by Republican-held state legislatures.

Most respondents lived at or below the poverty level, had experienced at least one personal challenge, such as a job loss in the past year, and had one or more children. Ninety percent were in the first trimester of pregnancy, and 46 percent paid cash for the procedure.

The findings echo research indicating that three quarters of abortion patients live below or around the poverty line, and 53 percent pay out of pocket for abortion care, likely causing further delays.

Jones noted that delays—such as needing to raise money—can push patients later into pregnancy, which further increases the cost and eliminates medication abortion, an early-stage option.

Recent research on Utah’s 72-hour forced waiting period showed the GOP-backed law didn’t dissuade the vast majority of patients, but made abortion care more costly and difficult to obtain.

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