The Long Road to Opening South Bend's Abortion Clinic

When Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend, Indiana, saw its first abortion patient on June 27, Amy Hagstrom Miller breathed a sigh of relief. “We have a green light,” she said. “We’ve booked patients. We have physicians scheduled all the way through the end of the summer.” It had been more than four years since Hagstrom Miller, the founder and CEO, first visited the college town to see if it would be a good spot for the clinic. Since then, she and local reproductive rights advocates have faced a steady stream of hurdles, ranging from skittish landlords to lawsuits, protesters, and a stonewalling state health department.

Big Law Pro Bono Takes on ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Restrictions

Within two months of Mississippi adopting one of the nation’s most-restrictive abortion laws, Paul Weiss partner Claudia Hammerman was working with reproductive rights groups to stop it in court. “I jumped at the opportunity to protect the last abortion clinic in Mississippi and support the courageous doctors who fly in from out-of-state to provide abortion care to the women of Mississippi,” the New York-based Paul Weiss partner said. The law approved in March that would prohibit abortion at six weeks, before many women even realize they’re pregnant, was blocked by a federal judge. But Hammerman says the case is far from over. Paul Weiss is one of several Big Law firms that have dedicated pro bono hours to fight a flurry of new abortion laws that opponents say will limit access to reproductive health care. While reproductive rights organizations typically lead on litigation, these lawyers play a key role in getting the work done. They provide resources, expertise, and behind-the-scenes help.

In Anti-Choice Hands, Abortion Clinic Inspections Become a Weapon

In about two dozen states, abortion clinics need facility licenses. And as part of that licensing requirement, inspectors from the department of health can visit clinics at any time, without notice. The anti-abortion movement has used these inspections, and the resulting reports, as a political tool to target abortion providers with false claims of unsafe practices. Part of an age-old tactic of fear mongering, anti-abortion activists routinely use words like “violation” and “fail” to describe minor deficiencies, making some administrative errors look like gross violations of patient safety.

Wanna Save Roe v. Wade? Don't Look To The Courts

With the political balance of the Supreme Court now in the hands of anti-choice conservatives, reproductive rights advocates across the United States are bracing for a future without Roe v. Wade. But what if there were another way to protect abortion rights, this time in the Constitution? The Equal Rights Amendment, which would prohibit sex discrimination the way the Constitution currently prohibits discrimination based on race, religion and national origin, could do just that. The ERA would provide the framework for an equality argument: Women’s equality necessarily requires reproductive and bodily autonomy, and without control over our bodies, women cannot participate as full and equal citizens in this country. But ERA advocates are torn between conflicting strategies when it comes to linking the amendment to abortion rights.

Crisis pregnancy centers aren’t the only ones putting limitations on women’s reproductive care

All over the country, crisis pregnancy centers openly lie to patients about what services they offer, often preventing women from making fully informed decisions about their reproductive health. But they’re not the only health-care providers withholding information in this way. Catholic hospitals and affiliated doctors’ offices have long had religious limitations on the reproductive health care they offer — and their patients may have no idea.

Christian Ethicist Says to Trust Women on Abortion

According to Christian ethicist Rebecca Todd Peters, women are continually asked to justify their abortions in response to a default assumption that abortion is morally wrong. This assumption is incorrect, she argues in her new book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice, and it stems from a particular theological framework that values motherhood over the needs, decisions, and desires of individual women. For Peters, the moral status of a fetus is an ethical and theological question that should be asked and answered by women themselves, not by legislators or judges. Her Christian ethic for abortion is not built on Scripture, but rather “a feminist theological perspective that affirms both the goodness and justice of God.” In other words, she’s not interested in telling us what God wants, other than to say that God wants justice, which means moral agency for women.

A Christian Argument for Abortion: A Q&A With Rebecca Todd Peters

Abortion is a moral issue, just not in the way we’ve been taught, argues Rebecca Todd Peters, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and professor of religious studies at Elon University. She is also the author of the new book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice. Rather than an abstract moral question, she argues, abortion is a morally valid option to a concrete question women face on a regular basis: “What should I do when faced with an unplanned, unwanted, or medically compromised pregnancy?” I recently spoke with Peters about the book and her vision for the role of progressive, feminist Christian theology in contemporary abortion debates.

How Religious Health Care Hurts Women of Color

According to new research by the Columbia Law School Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, women of color are even more likely to be treated at Catholic hospitals where religious doctrines dictate medical practices. It’s not news that women of color—and black women in particular—face greater barriers to health care across a wide range of services. This so-called health care gap stems from a number of factors, including economic inequality and structural discrimination, which often work in tandem. The impact of Catholic ethics restrictions on women of color should be examined alongside these trends.

The Rise of “Zombie Religious Hospitals”

In 2009, Mindy Swank was 20 weeks into a difficult pregnancy when her water broke. Her doctors said the baby, already suffering from severe anomalies, would not survive, and they recommended she terminate the pregnancy immediately to avoid the risk of infection. Yet for nearly two months, Swank’s hospital in Silvis, Illinois, refused to perform the procedure. It wasn’t until Swank woke up one morning bleeding profusely that the hospital finally agreed to induce labor.

The Double Standard of Military Pregnancy: What Contraceptive Access Won't Fix

Despite theoretically having access to a wide variety of contraceptive options, women in the military still report higher rates of unplanned pregnancy than their civilian peers, and it remains somewhat of a mystery exactly why. What is clear is that the unique military gender politics that make it hard for some women to ask for birth control also stigmatize them if they get pregnant—especially when that happens at an overseas post or on a deployment. Any effort to increase birth control availability, including Allergan’s, can only be understood against that particular cultural backdrop.

Are Abortion Rights a Matter of Religious Freedom?

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, it reasoned that women have a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. What it left open, though, is “issue of the unborn’s humanity,” according to the University of Illinois philosophy professor Peter Wenz. In part because of this ambiguity, case upon case has been litigated to test the limits of the Court’s decision. But what if the justices had decided the case in terms of the First Amendment instead, arguing that abortion rights are a matter of religious freedom?
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