Roundups Law and Policy

Legal Wrap: State Detains Pregnant Woman, Catholic Bishops Meddle With Health-Care Benefits

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A case in Wisconsin further illustrates the recent trend of states policing pregnant women in the name of fetal rights, and it would appear the U.S. Catholic bishops had a role in the federal government shutdown.

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

The policing of pregnant women continues, this time in Wisconsin, where state officials have involuntarily detained a pregnant woman who confided to health-care officials during a prenatal care visit that she had a history of drug use and was trying to stay sober for the pregnancy. Without any evidence the woman had or was using drugs during her pregnancy, she was held and ordered into drug treatment two hours away from her family. In response, attorneys from the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, with the help of the Reproductive Justice Clinic at the New York University School of Law, have filed the first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit demanding the woman’s immediate release from custody and declaring the involuntary commitment law used to hold her unconstitutional.

A federal judge will hear arguments on October 21 in the lawsuit challenging two provisions of a new Texas anti-abortion law.

In Iowa, Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit challenging state efforts to cut off access to medical abortion for rural Iowans.

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Meanwhile, in Nevada the state’s supreme court ruled a child born there can have two legal mothers, further reinforcing same-sex parenting rights.

The Utah Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue of whether a 13-year-old girl and her 12-year-old boyfriend who had “consensual sex” should be considered sex offenders.

The Nebraska Supreme Court issued a controversial ruling last week that threw into doubt whether minors in the state have any right to access abortion. The case, discussed in detail here, shows how little protection, if any, wards of the state have from ideologues in the judiciary. The implications of the case are devastating.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s annual term begins Monday, October 7. A majority of justices continued the Washington, D.C., tradition of attending Red Mass Sunday. The new term might not be a big deal except for the fact the Court has on its docket a major separation of church and state case, among other cases.

In other Supreme Court news, Justice Antonin Scalia said in this fascinating interview that he has several friends he “suspects” are gay, and that he believes in the devil.

Among the high-profile cases before the Supreme Court this term will be a major gun-control case looking at the constitutionality of the Lautenberg Amendment, a federal law that prohibits some domestic violence offenders from owning firearms. So we have that to look forward to.

Elsewhere, the Oklahoma attorney general is arguing that the state can constitutionally ban all medical abortions.

The federal government is still shut down, and as Rewire’s Adele Stan explains here, we largely have the Catholic bishops to thank for that.

They’re not just meddling with the federal government either. Catholic conservatives with no ties to Loyola Marymount are meddling with abortion coverage for university faculty.

And Wendy Davis officially announced her run for governor of Texas, as progressives in the state march on and work to turn Texas blue.

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