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Fifth Circuit Court knocks down Texas abortion ban | The Latest | Gambit Weekly

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Tuesday evening a Texas law banning the most common and safest type of second trimester abortion, marking an unlikely victory for reproductive rights advocates from one of the most conservative appeals courts. 

The statute effectively outlawed the dilation and evacuation procedure, known as D&E, in which doctors open the cervix and remove fetal tissue from the uterus. The law would only allow the procedure, the one usually used for abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy, if the “fetal demise” occurs in the uteruswhich would require an invasive additional step for doctors and women that is not part of a typical D&E. 

In its Whole Woman’s Health v. Ken Paxton decision, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the law unduly burdens a woman’s constitutionally-protected right to obtain a previability abortion” because it “requires a woman to undergo an additional and medically unnecessary procedure to cause fetal demise before she may obtain a dilation and evacuation abortion.”  

Louisiana passed a similar law in 2016, with exceptions only for a serious health risk to the mother, but it is not currently in effect. Several other states have had their own bans challenged in courtincluding Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma. It is unclear if the ruling will apply to Louisiana and Mississippi, which are also in the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction and have similar bans on the books. 

The Texas law started out as a bill banning a late-term abortion procedure that was already outlawed at the federal level in 2003 and forbidding the sale or donation of embryonic and fetal tissue. But after several amendments, the final form of the law had many other parts, including requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue. The D&E ban, however, was the biggest change. 

The law also included criminal penalties for doctors who did not adhere to it. 

Eight licensed abortion clinics and three abortion providers challenged the Texas law, and the Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, ruled in their favor and against the state of Texas. 

The ruling in favor of abortion rights comes as Louisiana residents begin to vote on whether they want to add an amendment to the state constitution declaring it does not include the right to abortion. It also comes in the midst of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Barrett would give the court and even stronger anti-abortion majority, which could impact decades of future abortion legislation. 

Barrett is from Louisiana.


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Michigan Sen. Gary Peters shares story about ex-wife’s life-saving abortion for the first time

“The mental anguish someone goes through is intense,” Peters, a Michigan Democrat, said in an interview with Elle magazine published on Monday, “trying to have a miscarriage for a child that was wanted.”

But the situation became more critical when Heidi’s health deteriorated, so the couple found a doctor at another hospital who agreed to do the procedure.

In the interview, Peters spoke publicly for the first time about the abortion and the troubling moments leading up to the event, which threatened the life of his ex-wife. Peters now joins a small group of members of Congress who have spoken about their personal experiences with abortion.

“My story is one that’s tragically shared by so many Americans,” Peters tweeted on Monday. “It’s a story of gut-wrenching and complicated decisions — but it’s important for folks to understand families face these situations every day.”

Peters shared the story as he fights to retain his seat in the Senate in a battleground state that President Trump narrowly won in 2016. Peters faces John James, a well-funded Republican businessman and Army veteran.

His challenger supports limiting access to abortions, overturning Roe v. Wade, remains against abortions in cases of rape and incest, and compared abortions to “genocide” in 2018, according to

Peters suggested that his family’s experience colors his own view of abortion access.

“It’s important for folks to understand that these things happen to folks every day,” Peters said. “I’ve always considered myself pro-choice and believe women should be able to make these decisions themselves, but when you live it in real life, you realize the significant impact it can have on a family.”

Peters and Heidi had very much wanted the baby, which would have been their second child, he told Elle. But when Heidi’s water broke five months early, their doctor told them that without the amniotic fluid, the baby had no chance of survival.

Heidi’s health declined in the days that followed, and a doctor warned that if she did not have an abortion immediately, she could lose her uterus or die of a uterine infection that could cause her to become septic. After the hospital’s board rejected an appeal to make an exception for Heidi, the doctor urged the couple to go to another hospital for the abortion.

“I still vividly remember he left a message on the answering machine saying, ‘They refused to give me permission, not based on good medical practice, simply based on politics. I recommend you immediately find another physician who can do this procedure quickly,’” Peters told Elle.

They followed the doctor’s recommendation and Heidi was rushed into an emergency abortion at another hospital. It “enacted an incredible emotional toll,” Peters said.

In a statement to Elle, Heidi described those several days as “painful and traumatic.”

“If it weren’t for urgent and critical medical care, I could have lost my life,” she added.

“It’s important for folks who are willing to tell these stories to tell them, especially now,” Peters said. “This

The United Nations Continues Its Abortion Advocacy

Various elements of the United Nations system, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank, will partner with abortion groups to advance a “human right” to abortion. The U.N. made the announcement on September 29 to commemorate so-called International Safe Abortion Day, with the stated goal of addressing “unsafe abortion” in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership, headed by the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, will bring together U.N. entities with the world’s largest abortion providers, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Ipas, and Marie Stopes International, to promote “comprehensive abortion care,” including access to self-administered telemedicine abortion, as an essential service and a “human right.”

By collaborating on “mitigation strategies” to reduce disruption in abortion access, in addition to “procurement and funding” for abortion services, the goal of the partnership is for Big Abortion and the U.N. to make abortion available and accessible on demand everywhere. The announcement goes so far as to highlight not only young girls but also “those with varying gender identities” as people who should be able to receive “abortion care.”

Cooperation between the U.N. and the abortion industry is nothing new, but the coronavirus climate has paved the way for increasingly brazen and bizarre alliances. This is a new direction for UNICEF and the World Bank, for example, both of which traditionally have steered clear of overt abortion activism. Although it’s commonplace, it is essential to underscore that U.N. abortion promotion is fundamentally at odds with its institutional mandate. National governments, not the international bureaucracy, should chart the course for the U.N. system.

As long as pro-life governments exist — and there are many stalwart pro-life governments — it is inappropriate and illegitimate for the U.N. to unilaterally advance abortion on demand. In fact, the powerful pro-life voice of the United States alone renders the U.N.’s continual promotion of abortion promotion and this new partnership illicit.

As the U.S. recently articulated in a statement to the U.N.: “There is no international right to abortion, nor is there any duty on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.” This has been a consistent and frequent stance of the U.S. government, one that has garnered widespread support from countries across the globe.

Even so, the U.N. Secretary General recently identified abortion as central to the U.N.’s COVID-19 response, and the organization’s high commissioner for human rights expressed her support for “safe abortion day.” Similarly, in the partnership announcement, Ian Askew, director of the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, states that “eliminating unsafe abortion is one of the key components of the WHO Global reproductive health strategy.”

Jargon aside, U.N. efforts to address “unsafe abortion” are a euphemism for attempting to increase access to abortion where the procedure is illegal. The announcement notes that 121 million pregnancies each year are “unintended” — an unsubstantiated statistic used to justify the need for “safe abortion care.” The statement adds that “postponing

Whether or not Amy Coney Barrett gets on the Supreme Court, abortion rights should stand

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trumps nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. (Erin Scott/Pool via AP)
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, is shown on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 1. (Erin Scott / Pool via Associated Press)

For nearly half a century, women in the United States have had a constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion.  And for most of that time, abortion opponents have been trying to take it away. Even as millions of women have availed themselves of that right, nothing short of a war has been waged on their access to abortion. The results include a congressional ban (called the Hyde Amendment) on federal money for abortions and a patchwork of unnecessary state laws that have forced numerous abortion providers to shut down and left some states with a single clinic.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel aptly summarized the situation in 2013 when he issued an injunction against a Texas law that would have imposed new demands on abortion providers. Abortion, Yeakel wrote, “is the most divisive issue to face this country since slavery.”

But opponents have yet to dislodge the bedrock of abortion rights: the Supreme Court’s holding in Roe vs. Wade (1973) that the 14th Amendment guarantees a right to privacy, which includes the right to have an abortion.

Before Roe, women were at the mercy of laws handed down by a profoundly patriarchal, sexist society that believed the conception of a fetus was a sacrosanct event and that women were simply the vessels that carry it. Only four states had legalized abortion for any reason. In other states it was completely outlawed or permitted only if the woman’s life or mental health was in peril.

For many women, that meant a harrowing and often fruitless search for someone — preferably a medical doctor — who would perform an abortion illegally, often for a preposterous fee. A Guttmacher Institute researcher

estimated that in 1972 alone, 130,000 women obtained illegal or self-induced procedures, 39 of whom died; from 1972 to 1974, the mortality rate due to illegal abortion for nonwhite women was 12 times that for white women.

In the years since then, the basic tenet of Roe has been reaffirmed by the court over and over again. Revisiting the issue nearly two decades later, the high court said in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey (1992) that women have a right to an abortion up to the point when the fetus was viable, although beyond that point, the government has an interest in protecting both the fetus and the woman’s health.  That decision set an important standard: a law cannot be enacted simply to place a substantial obstacle or burden in the way of an abortion. 

Yeakel applied that standard when he blocked the Texas law, which would have required doctors who provided abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and abortion clinics to be outfitted like ambulatory surgical centers. The Supreme Court agreed in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt (2016), dismissing the law as a

Supreme Court blocks federal abortion pill delivery restrictions; first abortion decision since Ginsburg death

The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked enforcement of federal government restrictions on women seeking access to an abortion drug during the coronavirus pandemic, in the high court’s first abortion-related decision since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.

The ruling would, for now, continue to allow women to obtain an abortion pill by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The high court has returned the case to a federal trial court in Maryland for further review of the issue. Justices Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The Supreme Court is seen in Washington, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, as the justices begin a new term following the recent death of their colleague, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Supreme Court is seen in Washington, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, as the justices begin a new term following the recent death of their colleague, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The ruling comes nearly three months after a federal judge in Maryland ruled that, during the coronavirus pandemic, health care providers can arrange for mifepristone to be mailed or delivered to patients. The FDA has approved mifepristone to be used in combination with a second drug, misoprostol, to end an early pregnancy or manage a miscarriage.

Thursday’s ruling from the high court is temporary in nature, while the larger legal ramifications play out in court. It comes in response to the case, “FDA vs. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”


The administration is asking to be allowed to enforce a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule. The administration has suspended similar in-person visits for other drugs, including opioids in some cases, but refused to relax the rules for getting the abortion pill.

Alito and Thomas said they would have granted the administration’s request. “Six weeks have passed since the application was submitted, but the Court refuses to rule,” Alito wrote.


The court called for the federal judge to take a new look at the issue and rule within 40 days – postponing any further high court action until after the November Election.  

This story contains material from the Associated Press.

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Supreme Court puts on hold Trump administration request to reimpose medication abortion restrictions

“While COVID-19 has provided the ground for restrictions on First Amendment rights, the District Court saw the pandemic as a ground for expanding the abortion right recognized in Roe v. Wade,” wrote Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Alito said the court has “stood by” while officials imposed restrictions on religious activities and “drastically limited speech, banning or restricting public speeches, lectures, meetings, and rallies.”

The court’s action in this case cannot be squared with that, Alito wrote.

Chuang ruled in July that requiring an in-person visit to obtain the medications needed to induce abortion was unduly burdensome. There is no requirement that a woman take the medication in a clinic setting, and most take the pills that end a pregnancy in its early stages at home.

At the request of abortion providers and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Chuang imposed a nationwide injunction against the Food and Drug Administration directive.

After a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit refused to put Chuang’s order on hold, acting solicitor general Jeffrey B. Wall went to the Supreme Court.

Instead of agreeing with the government’s petition, the court’s order issued Thursday night directed Chuang to “promptly consider a motion by the government to dissolve, modify, or stay the injunction, including on the ground that relevant circumstances have changed.”

The case took on added significance because it was the first abortion order issued after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s most outspoken advocate for abortion rights.

The unsigned order and compromise decision may indicate the court was deadlocked, although only Thomas and Alito declared their views.

Wall told the court that, even in the pandemic, the government had not changed its views on how the drugs should be dispensed.

“The FDA has made, and continuously adhered to, the judgment that these requirements mitigate serious health risks associated with the drug, which can increase if the patient delays taking the drug or fails to receive proper counseling about possible complications,” Wall wrote.

Abortion providers told the court that there was no reason an in-office visit was necessary.

The rules “force patients seeking early abortion care and their health care providers to unnecessarily risk exposure to a life-threatening disease by mandating that patients travel to a health center for the sole purpose of picking up a pill and signing a form,” Julia H. Kaye of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a brief to the court.

Medication abortions require taking two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. They have been in use since 2000, and in 2016 the FDA eliminated the requirement that the first drug be administered in a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office. FDA experts said it was just as safe for a woman to take the medications at home.

But the FDA did not relax the requirement that women pick up the pills in person and sign for

Supreme Court refuses to restore abortion pill restrictions, for now

Two of the court’s most conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, dissented, saying the Court should have stayed the lower court ruling and reinstated the restriction on abortion pills.

“Changes in the severity of the problems caused by the COVID–19 pandemic…does not justify the Court’s refusal to rule,” they wrote.

How we got here: At issue is a challenge by medical and advocacy organizations to the FDA rules that require a patient to obtain abortion medication in-person from a provider, though the pill itself — prescribed only for abortions early in pregnancy — can be taken at home. The groups, pointing out that FDA allows higher-risk drugs to be provided through telemedicine, argue the policy is medically unnecessary and puts both patients and providers at risk during the pandemic.

In July, a federal judge in Maryland agreed with the groups and blocked the in-person requirement for the duration of the pandemic. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the Trump administration’s request to keep the restrictions in place while it appealed the Maryland judge’s ruling, prompting the Justice Department in late August to request an emergency stay from the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: Both sides of the abortion debate had been closely watching the case for signals of how the Supreme Court would approach the issue after Ginsburg’s death gave Trump the opportunity to shift the court further right.

In the two years since Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the bench, the Supreme Court had largely avoided abortion cases before Chief Justice John Roberts this summer joined with the court’s liberal wing to strike down Louisiana restrictions on abortion providers. The ruling angered conservatives, though Roberts’ opinion in the case could lay the groundwork for the court to uphold more state restrictions on the procedure. Anti-abortion groups supporting Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court are hoping a 6-3 conservative majority would curtail abortion rights, including the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

What’s next: The justices weighed in only on the injunction, not the merits of the case. It could very well come back to the Supreme Court.

There are more pending lawsuits in the federal courts regarding abortion medication, the most common method of abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. The ACLU, which is representing the groups in the challenge to pandemic restrictions, in separate litigation is pushing for the courts to permanently lift FDA restrictions on abortion medication and allow patients to receive the pills through the mail. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion groups have called on FDA to revoke access to the abortion pill entirely.

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Justices Say Women Can Get Abortion Pill by Mail, for Now | Health News

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would for now continue to allow women to obtain an abortion pill by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The action came over the dissent of two conservative justices who would have immediately granted a Trump administration request to reinstate the requirement that women must visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain a pill.

The court did little more than defer its first action on an abortion-related issue since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month. The court called for a lower-court judge to take a new look at the issue and rule within 40 days. That would put any further high court action after the Nov. 3 election.

The court said in an unsigned opinion that it was holding the administration’s appeal “in abeyance.”

The administration is asking to be allowed to enforce a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule. The administration has suspended similar in-person visits for other drugs, including opioids in some cases, but refused to relax the rules for getting the abortion pill.

A federal judge in Maryland ruled in July that, during the public health emergency declared by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, health care providers can arrange for mifepristone to be mailed or delivered to patients. The FDA has approved mifepristone to be used in combination with a second drug, misoprostol, to end an early pregnancy or manage a miscarriage.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas said they would have granted the administration’s request. “Six weeks have passed since the application was submitted, but the Court refuses to rule,” Alito wrote.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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The post-Ginsburg Supreme Court’s first abortion case

In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, millions of Americans wondered what the future of abortion access might look like. They won’t wait long to find out.

Any day now, the current eight-justice Supreme Court is expected to issue its first decision on abortion access. The case, Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, considers abortion via pill and whether patients, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, should still be required to make an in-person trip to a doctor’s office in order to receive the medication. 

In front of the high court is whether to reverse lower courts’ preliminary injunctions that have temporarily suspended the FDA’s in-person rule.

Though the case doesn’t directly challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, it promises to alter the way patients access the procedure and offers a glimpse into the future of a post-Ginsburg court. 

“It’s clear that the future to the right to abortion is in serious peril, and our ability to get a safe, legal abortion is likely dependent on the next justice confirmed to the court,” Julia Kaye, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and lead counsel challenging the FDA’s regulation, said Friday in a telephone interview with CBS News.

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), a professional medical organization, requested that the FDA lift a long-standing requirement that mifepristone (also sold as Mifeprex), the first pill of two used to induce a medication abortion, be dispensed by a doctor in-person. ACOG, which represents 90% of physicians in the field, argued that not only was the in-person requirement medically unnecessary, but in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic places patients and medical staff at risk of exposure to the virus.

When the FDA rejected the request, ACOG and a coalition of medical organizations sued, and in July a federal court agreed, granting the groups a preliminary injunction and temporarily suspended the FDA’s in-person rule. In his decision, Judge Theodore D. Chuan wrote that the regulation, in the context of a pandemic, presented a “serious burden to many abortion patients.” The Trump administration appealed, and in August an appellate court unanimously declined the administration’s request to reverse the lower court’s decision. Two weeks later, the Trump administration went to the Supreme Court, asking for it to block the lower courts’ orders.

In that request, attorneys for the FDA wrote that the drug used in medication abortion “carries serious risks, including bleeding requiring surgical intervention… and that in-person dispensing mitigates those risks.”

Use of the medication has steadily increased since it was first approved by the FDA in 2000, and it now accounts for nearly 39% of all abortions in the United States, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. When used within the first nine weeks of pregnancy, medication abortion works as directed 99.6% of the time, has a