Federal Judge Rules Part of Clinic Defense Law Unconstitutional
A federal judge recently found part of the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) unconstitutional. US District Court Judge Kenneth Hoyt dismissed charges against a Houston, Texas man who crashed a van through the doors of the Houston Planned Parenthood Clinic in March, according to the Houston Chronicle. Anti-abortion advocates believe the decision will allow greater access to the clinics. In light of a series of decisions upholding the FACE Act, "this decision is 180 degrees in the opposite direction. This worries me a lot," Gloria Feldt, president of Planned Parenthood, told the New York Times.
Judge Hoyt ruled that the federal FACE Act went beyond Congress's constitutional duty to regulate interstate commerce, according to the Times. He based his decision on a 2000 US Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Violence Against Women Act that found that Congress had no authority to "regulate non-economic, violent criminal conduct based solely on that conduct's aggregate effect on interstate commerce," the Chronicle reports.
The Department of Justice announced that it would appeal the decision and defend the landmark law in court, according to the New York Times. The FACE Act prohibits not only violence against abortion providers, clinic staff, patients, and volunteers, but also threats of violence. "In light of the adverse decision in NOW v. Scheidler, FACE is needed more than ever to stem anti-abortion violence and threats of violence plaguing our nation's clinics today," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .