News Abortion

Femcare Clinic in North Carolina Could Soon Reopen

Robin Marty

Femcare, the only North Carolina abortion provider that could for sure continue offering legal abortion care under the state's new abortion law, was closed on July 31, but it is now waiting for another inspection to reopen its doors.

Femcare, the only North Carolina abortion provider that could for sure continue offering legal abortion care under the state’s new abortion law, was closed on July 31 after violations were found during a routine inspection. Now the clinic believes it has addressed all the concerns, and is waiting for another inspection to reopen its doors.

Asheville-based Femcare, a surgical abortion provider, had its license suspended on the same day it was forced to close after an inspection revealed 23 ambulatory surgical center rule violations, including “nitrous oxide masks held together by tape, dust on a crash cart, failure to check that a defibrillator was functioning, failure to mop the operating room floor after each procedure and multiple violations of policy requirements for personnel records, training records and standing agreements with other providers.” The suspension was the most recent in a series of closures that local media have called a more “aggressive” approach to code violations for abortion clinics.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, the clinic has now “taken steps to regain compliance and is awaiting a follow-up inspection from the state Department of Health and Human Services.”

Medically unnecessary clinic regulations are the centerpiece of SB 353, a massive anti-abortion omnibus bill that was signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory in late July. That bill, as well as a number of bills that blocked expansion of health-care coverage for the poor and redirected taxpayer dollars to crisis pregnancy centers, led activists to hold a vigil outside the governor’s mansion after the legislative session ended.

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Rather than have a substantive conversation with the protestors, Gov. McCrory brought them a plate of cookies.

Twelve-year-old North Carolinian Madison Kimrey would like to return the favor, urging the governor by video to meet with her: “I baked a chocolate pound cake just for the occasion.”

Kimrey also started a MoveOn petition that now has more than 11,000 signatures:

I’d like to sit down with you and discuss two things. I’d like to tell you, in person, how your bringing out cookies, followed by your staff bringing out cake, followed by your response through your spokesperson made me feel. I would also like to discuss the part of [HB 589] that deals with the ability of 16-17 year-olds to pre-register to vote. I don’t wish to debate you, I just want you to hear what I have to say and I want to hear what you have to say.

“I can’t vote and I don’t have a million dollars,” she wrote. “I’m not a well-funded group. I’m just a kid who was born in and lives in your state. However, I do have a voice and I hope you will take time to meet with me.”

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.

News Law and Policy

North Carolina, Texas Want ‘Discriminatory’ Voter ID Laws Reinstated

Imani Gandy

Republicans in state legislatures that have passed rigid voter ID laws have claimed that such laws are necessary to prevent in-person voter fraud. GOP-led investigations, however, have not turned up any evidence of voter fraud.

Officials in North Carolina and Texas want the Supreme Court to reinstate voter ID laws after two federal appeals courts ruled they should not take effect, setting the stage for a potential Roberts Court fight over voting rights during a presidential election.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) on Monday said in a statement that the state had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay last month’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down the voter ID requirement. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals released that decision in July, holding that the Republican-majority legislature had enacted the voter ID provision of HB 589 with a discriminatory intent to burden Black voters, and that it violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

McCrory said the Fourth Circuit’s ruling striking down that state’s voter ID law would create confusion during the upcoming November election.

“Allowing the Fourth Circuit’s ruling to stand creates confusion among voters and poll workers and it disregards our successful rollout of Voter ID in the 2016 primary elections,” McCrory said in a statement.

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“The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is just plain wrong and we cannot allow it to stand. We are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold our state’s law and reverse the Fourth Circuit,” he continued.

North Carolina is now represented by Paul Clement, who successfully argued Shelby County v. Holder, the 2013 case that gutted the Voting Rights Act. In its emergency filing, the state asked the Supreme Court to stay the Fourth Circuit’s ruling, arguing that the 2013 GOP-backed elections law “was the product not of racial animus, but of simply policy disagreements between two political parties about what voting measures are best for North Carolina,” according to SCOTUSblog.

North Carolina will petition the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari in the upcoming term. In the meantime, the state awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on its emergency request for a stay.

A spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Tuesday that Texas would appeal the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that Texas’ voter ID law, SB 14, disproportionately burdened Black and Latino voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Writing for the Fifth Circuit majority, Judge Catharina Haynes wrote, “[t]he record shows that drafters and proponents of SB 14 were aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities, and that they nonetheless passed the bill without adopting a number of proposed ameliorative measures that might have lessened this impact.”

“The primary concern of this court and the district court should be to ensure that SB 14’s discriminatory effect is ameliorated … in time for the November 2016 election,” Haynes continued.

In response to the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos approved a plan that would allow voters without the requisite photo identification to vote in Texas in the November election, absent the Roberts Court stepping in.

Under Ramos’ order, people can vote if they sign a declaration of citizenship and present proof of residence in Texas, such as a paycheck stub, bank statement, or utility bill, according to the Texas Tribune.

Paxton’s spokesperson would not specify whether the state would file an emergency appeal in advance of its petition for writ of certiorari. In order to reinstate the voter ID law, Texas would need to file an emergency appeal and ask the Supreme Court to stay the case, as officials in North Carolina have done.

Republicans in state legislatures that have passed rigid voter ID laws have claimed that such laws are necessary to prevent in-person voter fraud. GOP-led investigations, however, have not turned up any evidence of voter fraud. A study conducted by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt found a mere 31 credible incidents of voter impersonation out of more than 1 billion votes that were cast nationwide from 2000 through 2014.

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