Roundups Law and Policy

Legal Wrap: Two Very Different Reminders of Why Courts Matter

Jessica Mason Pieklo

From Michael Dunn's acquittal in the murder of Jordan Davis to a pending nominee to the federal bench, now more than ever our courts matter.

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

Words fail to describe the injustice in the Michael Dunn verdict, but Rewire Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson reminds all of us that paralysis is not an option. As a community, we simply must do better.

In another reminder of why courts matter, Judge Michael Boggs, who is currently an appeals court judge in Georgia, has a long history of opposition to civil rights, is openly anti-choice, and the Obama administration struck a deal with Republicans to nominate him to the federal bench. But NARAL Pro-Choice America is challenging the Obama administration on the nomination, in a new campaign that highlights the importance of the judiciary for pro-choice causes.

There’s been a flurry of federal court decision striking down statewide bans on same-sex marriage recently, and there’s no sign the flood of decisions will let up anytime soon. I have an update on the lawsuits here and explain how and why the federal courts help speed the cause of marriage equality nationwide.

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Anti-choice activists like West Virginia doctor Byron Calhoun insist that evidence of abortion-related complications are the reason so many restrictions on the procedure are necessary. But, as Sharona Coutts uncovered here, the only “evidence” there seems to suggest Dr. Calhoun is lying about those complications.

Steven Massof, an employee of the rogue abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell, was sentenced to six to 12 years for his role in the horrors perpetrated by Gosnell.

A lawsuit challenging North Dakota’s admitting privileges ban is reportedly close to resolution, likely because doctors in the state were just recently granted credentials at a local hospital, which means they are currently in compliance with the law.

Meanwhile, in South Dakota, lawmakers have introduced a bill so poorly worded it could ban abortion as early as seven weeks in the state.

Anti-choice lawmakers in Iowa are trying again to ban telemedicine abortion in the state after a state court judge thwarted their first attempts.

In Mississippi, anti-choice lawmakers advanced a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, without exceptions for rape or incest, with lawmakers in South Carolina not far behind.

In Oklahoma, lawmakers advanced a bill requiring abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at area hospitals and one that would severely restrict medication abortions in the state.

The fate of a New Hampshire buffer zone bill is uncertain, but Emily Crockett explains that despite a senate committee vote against the bill, the measure could still pass.

A federal appeals court unanimously held that if North Carolina wants to sponsor “Choose Life” specialty license plates, the state must also provide a specialty license plate for those who support reproductive rights.

In Tennessee, a pharmacist is suing Walgreens after, he claims, the pharmacy chain fired him for his refusal to sell Plan B because of his religious beliefs.

Ugh. What is going on in Montana?

Finally, by the sounds of this report, things are not looking so good for the University of Notre Dame’s legal challenge to the contraception mandate.

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