News Abortion

Georgia Follows Virginia’s Lead, Plans to Try to Repeal 22-Week Gestation Ban

Robin Marty

The much maligned and now court embroiled so-called "fetal pain" ban in Georgia probably won't be overturned, but Democrats will give it a try.

The battle over the so-called “fetal pain” ban in George during the 2012 legislature was one of the ugliest state fights of the year. It was so heated that votes turned into fistfights, one legislator threatened to kill it off rather than allow an exception for doomed pregnancies, and some speculate the debate could have been responsible for the rash of provider firebombings that occurred over the summer.

Now, that passionate debate could be coming back for a second round. Although the bill is currently being challenged by the Georgia ACLU and has been blocked into going into effect, some state lawmakers are eager to propose a bill to repeal the law all together.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Senator Nan Orrock will introduce a bill to repealing the ‘fetal pain’ bill that the Legislature passed last year, reducing the period during which a woman can seek an abortion to 22 weeks.” Orrock was responsible for the protests of the bill on the legislative floor when they passed, calling abortion restrictions part of “an ideological battle that’s being waged to make women a target, to take our access to our Constitutional right of privacy and also our ability to make our health decisions with our doctor and our own best judgment.”

First Virginia, now Georgia. Come on, states, who is next?

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Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Welcome to the New World After ‘Whole Woman’s Health’

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

With the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, change may be afoot—even in some of the reddest red states. But anti-choice laws are still wreaking havoc around the world, like in Northern Ireland where women living under an abortion ban are turning to drones for medication abortion pills.

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

The New York Times published a map explaining how the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt could affect abortion nationwide.

The Supreme Court vacated the corruption conviction of “Governor Ultrasound:” Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who signed a 2012 bill requiring women get unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds before abortion.

Ian Millhiser argues in ThinkProgress that Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the true heir to Thurgood Marshall’s legacy.

The legal fight over HB 2 cost Texas taxpayers $1 million. What a waste.

The Washington Post has an article from Amanda Hollis-Brusky and Rachel VanSickle-Ward detailing how Whole Woman’s Health may have altered abortion politics for good.

A federal court delayed implementation of a Florida law that would have slashed Planned Parenthood’s funding, but the law has already done a lot of damage in Palm Beach County.

After the Whole Woman’s Health Supreme Court ruling in favor of science and pregnant people, Planned Parenthood is gearing up to fight abortion restrictions in eight states. And we are here for it.

Drones aren’t just flying death machines: They’re actually helping women in Northern Ireland who need to get their hands on some medication abortion pills.

Abortion fever has gone international: In New Zealand, there are calls to re-examine decades-old abortion laws that don’t address 21st-century needs.

Had Justice Antonin Scalia been alive, explains Emma Green for the Atlantic, there would have been the necessary fourth vote for the Supreme Court to take a case about pharmacists who have religious objections to doing their job when it comes to providing emergency contraception.

News Politics

Virginia GOP Rushes to Disenfranchise Voters Ahead of November Elections

Ally Boguhn

“There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans—we should remedy it,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said last month ahead of his decision to restore voting rights for those convicted of felonies. “We should do it as soon as we possibly can.”

The Virginia Supreme Court will hear the state GOP’s challenge to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) April order restoring voting rights to more than 200,000 people who have been convicted of felonies.

The court will hold a special session on the case July 19 in Richmond, accommodating a request from Republicans in the state legislature to expedite the case in order to keep “thousands of constitutionally ineligible felons to vote in the November election.” GOP leaders argue that the case should be decided by August 25 to avoid “casting doubt on the legitimacy” of the upcoming November election, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court recognizes the urgency of our challenge to Governor McAuliffe’s unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of executive power,” Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R-Stafford) said in a statement.

Howell is one of the plaintiffs in the case against McAuliffe, along with state senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment Jr. (R-James City) and four voters. The group claims that McAuliffe overstepped his authority by issuing an April 22 order to restore voting rights to those in the state convicted of felonies who “served their time and completed any supervised release, parole or probation requirements,” instead of restoring voting rights on an individual basis.

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The order, which is to be renewed monthly to continually restore the rights of those who complete their sentences, has already allowed more than 5,800 people previously disenfranchised to register to vote, the Washington Post reported.

About 6 million Americans are blocked from the ballot box because of criminal convictions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that addresses voting rights. According to the organization’s website, “These laws, deeply rooted in our troubled racial history, have a disproportionate impact on minorities. Across the country, 13 percent of African-American men have lost their right to vote, which is seven times the national average.”

President Obama won Virginia in the 2012 presidential election with 50.8 percent of the vote. He won the state by with 52.7 percent of the vote in 2008.

Virginia is one of three states in which more than one in five Black adults are disenfranchised by laws prohibiting those that have been convicted of felonies from voting.

Though McAuliffe’s order may have restored voting rights for more than 200,000 Virginians, those who have completed their sentences will rely on the order’s monthly renewal to regain their rights, according to the Sentencing Project.

“There’s no question that we’ve had a horrible history in voting rights as relates to African-Americans—we should remedy it,” McAuliffe said last month in an interview ahead of his decision to restore voting rights. “We should do it as soon as we possibly can.”