News Abortion

NPLA “Spousal Consent for Abortion” Questionnaire Shows Up In North Dakota

Robin Marty

The group wouldn't say what other states it was targetting, but they aren't just in Kansas anymore.

When RH RealityCheck asked The National Pro-Life Alliance if they had been surveying legislative candidates in states other than Kansas on support for anti-choice policies ranging from spousal consent to outlawing “home abortion kits,” the group told us “no one was available to comment.” But now Huffington Post has learned that the same candidate questionnaire has popped up in the state of North Dakota, too, and it also seeks support for additional abortion restrictions including permission from the woman’s spouse.

Candidates in North Dakota received a questionnaire from the National Pro-Life Alliance in recent weeks asking them, among other things, if they want to ban the abortion pill, RU-486, which the group deems a “home abortion kit”; to require ultrasounds before an abortion; or to mandate parental and spousal consent for abortions. The questionnaire appears identical to the one sent by the group in Kansas, with the name of the state switched to North Dakota. The North Dakota questionnaire was accompanied by a one-page fact sheet explaining each of the 11 questions.

The explanation for requiring spousal consent? “One of the biggest distortions under the veil of the ‘pro-choice’ argument is that one parent, the father, is given no ‘choice’ regarding the death of his unborn son or daughter under the law.”

Spousal consent was proposed and failed in Pennsylvania, a restriction that was shot down in the infamous Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which is also responsible for the “undue burden” standard that has in fact led to many undue burdens on women seeking abortion care.

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That hasn’t stopped politicians from suggesting it despite that fact. Ohio has had repeated efforts in the past to push for spousal consent, all of which failed to gain traction. The state hasn’t seen it reintroduced since 2009, but in light of all the other abortion restriction legislation proposed since 2010 still remains wary.

They have a right to be. A recent surge of anti-choice campaigning focusing on “fatherhood” makes it clear that the movement is ready to get men as involved as possible in encouraging or even coercing their partners into continuing unwanted pregnancies. “Fatherhood begins in the womb,” declares the anti-abortion Radiance Foundation.

The abortion industry has created a culture of abandonment. Responsibility has become someone else’s concern, and death the solution to this serious character flaw. Men have been empowered by Roe v. Wade to abandon their primary responsibility–protecting. They’ve either chosen to run away from their role or have been forced out by a brand of liberal feminism that spews gender animus in an effort to elevate women.

Even states like Alaska, encouraged by growing animosity to abortion rights, have had lawmakers float the idea of spousal consent as a way to feel more “comfortable” with allowing women to terminate their pregnancies. Republican legislator Alan Dick said just last March, “If I thought that the man’s signature was required… required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it…”.

Spousal consent was rejected via Casey, but as Jessica Mason Pieklo notes, at least one current Supreme Court justice believes that spousal consent was not an undue burden and the case was wrongly decided. National Pro-Life Alliance may be looking for a way to give Justice Sam Alito his second chance.

News Law and Policy

Anti-Choice Group: End Clinic ‘Bubble Zones’ for Chicago Abortion Patients

Michelle D. Anderson

Chicago officials in October 2009 passed the "bubble zone" ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support.

An anti-choice group has announced plans to file a lawsuit and launch a public protest over Chicago’s nearly seven-year-old “bubble zone” ordinance for patients seeking care at local abortion clinics.

The Pro-Life Action League, an anti-choice group based in Chicago, announced on its website that its lawyers at the Thomas More Society would file the lawsuit this week.

City officials in October 2009 passed the ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support. The law makes it illegal to come within eight feet of someone walking toward an abortion clinic once that person is within 50 feet of the entrance, if the person did not give their consent.

Those found violating the ordinance could be fined up to $500.

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Harassment of people seeking abortion care has been well documented. A 2013 survey from the National Abortion Federation found that 92 percent of providers had a patient entering their facility express personal safety concerns.

The ordinance targets people seeking to pass a leaflet or handbill or engaging in “oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person in the public way.” The regulation bans the use of force, threat of force and physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere any person entering or leaving any hospital, medical clinic or health-care facility.

The Pro-Life Action League lamented on its website that the law makes it difficult for anti-choice sidewalk counselors “to reach abortion-bound mothers.” The group suggested that lawmakers created the ordinance to create confusion and that police have repeatedly violated counselors’ First Amendment rights.

“Chicago police have been misapplying it from Day One, and it’s caused endless problems for our faithful sidewalk counselors,” the group said.

The League said it would protest and hold a press conference outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.

Julie Lynn, a Planned Parenthood of Illinois spokesperson, told Rewire in an email that the health-care provider is preparing for the protest.

“We plan to have volunteer escorts at the health center to make sure all patients have safe access to the entrance,” Lynn said.

The anti-choice group has suggested that its lawsuit would be successful because of a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a similar law in Massachusetts unconstitutional.

Pam Sutherland, vice president of public policy and education for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune back then that the health-care provider expected the city’s bubble zone to be challenged following the 2014 decision.

But in an effort to avoid legal challenges, Chicago city officials had based its bubble zone law on a Colorado law that created an eight-foot no-approach zone within 100 feet of all health-care facilities, according to the Tribune. Sidewalk counselor Leila Hill and others challenged that Colorado law, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it in 2000.

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: The Fight Over Voter ID Laws Heats Up in the Courts

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Texas and North Carolina both have cases that could bring the constitutionality of Voter ID laws back before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this term.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the state’s voter ID law.

Meanwhile, according to Politifact, North Carolina attorney general and gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper is actually saving taxpayers money by refusing to appeal the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on the state’s voter ID law, so Gov. Pat McCrory (R) should stop complaining about it.

And in other North Carolina news, Ian Millhiser writes that the state has hired high-powered conservative attorney Paul Clement to defend its indefensible voter ID law.

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Alex Thompson writes in Vice that the Zika virus is about to hit states with the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. So if you’re pregnant, stay away. No one has yet offered advice for those pregnant people who can’t leave Zika-prone areas.

Robin Marty writes on Care2 about Americans United for Life’s (AUL) latest Mad Lib-style model bill, the “National Abortion Data Reporting Law.” Attacking abortion rights: It’s what AUL does.

The Washington Post profiled Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given this Congress, that will likely spur another round of hearings. (It did get a response from Richards herself.)

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson writes in Bloomberg BNA that Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan thinks the Supreme Court’s clarification of the undue burden standard in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have ramifications for voting rights cases.

This must-read New York Times piece reminds us that we still have a long way to go in accommodating breastfeeding parents on the job.

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