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Abortion rights advocates challenge restrictions in three US states

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Supporters of Planned Parenthood (EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics / Shutterstock.com)

Abortion rights advocates on Wednesday challenged laws restricting the procedures in three states, an aggressive push following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Texas law requiring abortions to be performed in surgical centers or hospitals.

The cases in Missouri, Alaska and North Carolina take aim at regulations requiring some or all abortions to be performed in hospitals or surgical centers, and in the case of North Carolina a ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless there is a medical emergency.

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“We are going to fight back state by state and law by law until every person has the right to pursue the life they want, including the right to decide to end a pregnancy,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which filed the lawsuits along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities that its critics contended were specifically designed to shut down abortion clinics.

The 5-3 ruling held that the Republican-backed 2013 law placed an undue burden on women exercising their constitutional right to end a pregnancy established in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Seeking to expand on that decision, pro-abortion groups filed the three lawsuits on Wednesday.

The efforts are also a shot across the bow to show the groups’ determination to continue fighting for abortion rights even as they face the possibility that incoming Republican President Donald Trump may work with the Republican-dominated Congress to try to further restrict abortion.

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“We will use all the tools at our disposal – and that includes the courts – to ensure that folks’ constitutional rights are protected,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

All three lawsuits filed on Wednesday say the states’ restrictions are based on medically unnecessary precautions, such as Alaska’s requirement that blood supplies be available on site, or Missouri’s that all take place in hospitals or surgical centers.

A spokeswoman for Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said the office doesn’t comment on pending litigation. A spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said the state had not yet been served, and North Carolina did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Alaska lawsuit was filed in Superior Court in Anchorage, while the North Carolina and Missouri lawsuits were filed in federal court in those states.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacremento; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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2020 Election

Early voting to be hit by heavy rain and flooding as Hurricane Zeta barrels towards the Gulf Coast

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Hurricane Zeta is expected to make landfall near Louisiana's border with Mississippi on Wednesday evening as campaigns work to get supporters to the polls and convince any undecided voters to back their candidate.

"Hurricane conditions and life-threatening storm surge are possible along portions of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, and Storm Surge and Hurricane Watches are in effect," the National Hurricane Center warned.

"Between Tuesday night and Thursday, heavy rainfall is expected from portions of the central Gulf Coast into the southern Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic states near and in advance of Zeta. This rainfall will lead to flash, urban, small stream, and minor river flooding," the center explained.

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Brett Kavanaugh caught lying in SCOTUS opinion against voting access during the pandemic: report

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Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Monday voted that 2020 elections ballots in Wisconsin can only be counted if received by Election Day.

Kavanaugh issued his own concurring opinion, where he suggested that state courts should be barred from protecting voting rights.

Kavanaugh also made a mistake of fact.

Sam Levine, a voting rights reporter for the Guardian, noted Kavanaugh was inaccurate in his concurring opinion.

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2020 Election

Lincoln Project releases harrowing new video of the future if Trump wins re-election

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The Lincoln Project, the group of former top GOP strategists seeking to beat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, released another new video on Monday evening.

Unlike other videos, the latest release did not feature Trump saying crazy things. Instead, it is more like a 60-second short film.

It features a mother listening to election night returns. She goes into her son's bedroom and lovingly awakens him.

"Hey honey, you asked me to wake you and tell you what happened in the election," she says.

"Who won?" the child asked.

"Trump," she replied. "Trump won."

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