US House Votes to Allow Doctors to Refuse to Perform Abortions
Earlier this month, the US House of Representatives voted to approve the Federal Refusal Clause, which will allow any doctor, hospital, or health care provider to refuse to perform an abortion, and refuse to refer a patient seeking an abortion to another doctor, even in the case of rape or medical emergency. The clause was offered as part of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for 2005. Because the clause was sent to the Senate as a piece of the larger appropriations bill, it is guaranteed to advance to a House-Senate conference committee, the Associated Press reports.
Anti-abortion extremists are citing "moral grounds" as reason enough for doctors, hospitals, and even pharmacists to refuse to provide reproductive health services. BBC News reports that 12 states have taken steps to legislate this moral authority by introducing so-called "conscience clauses" in their state legislatures, allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense certain prescription drugs, including birth control, without risk of losing their jobs. According to the Associated Press, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Arkansas already have such refusal laws in place.
There have been several incidents reported across the country in recent months where pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for birth control pills. BBC News reports that some doctors are refusing to prescribe the birth control pill, calling it a "chemical abortion." Catholics for a Free Choice, an opponent of such legislation, contends that those most affected by these limitations in reproductive health access are poor women in the most extreme circumstances.
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. The court's decision denied their request to temporarily block the legislation pending a final ruling on its constitutionality, rubber stamping the efforts of Oklahoma politicians to force doctors to use an outdated protocol for administering a medication abortion using the drug mifepristone - one that the medical community and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have rejected in favor of a new standard of care that calls for a significantly lower dosage. . . .
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state.
Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations.
More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .