reproductive rights

  • July 11, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Aziza Ahmed, Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law

    The United States has long been the largest bi-lateral donor in family planning assistance. Amongst other health services, this funding is dedicated to promoting reproductive health services, providing modern forms of contraception and responding to needs in maternal health care. In 1984, at the International Conference on Population in Mexico City, then President Ronald Regan announced the Mexico City Policy or what has come to be known as the “Global Gag Rule.” The policy mandated that United States family planning funding could not be used to “perform or actively promote abortions as a method of family planning.” The Mexico City Policy added restrictions to the Helms Amendment passed in 1973 which prohibits United States Foreign Assistance from paying for “the performance of abortions as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” The Helms Amendment, however, only applied to U.S. government money – non-U.S. funding could be utilized to provide abortion related services. The Mexico City Policy goes much further: mandating that U.S. government funds would not be given to non-governmental organizations who provide abortion related services with their own funding or funding from other sources. In other words, organizations receiving U.S. money would have to choose whether to refuse U.S. funds (risking closure) or turn away women needing abortion related services. In announcing the Mexico City Policy, Reagan further ensconced U.S. family planning assistance in domestic abortion politics and policy, placing the lives and health of people residing in countries where U.S. aid supplemented health services on reproductive health at significant risk.

    Since its inception, each Republican Administration has reinstated the rule while each Democratic administration (with some exception) has stopped its application to U.S. foreign assistance. Each time the policy is renewed or revoked days after the change in administration – making the Mexico City Policy a way to cater to the political base of the newly elected party. There has been subtle acknowledgement even from Republicans that the Mexico City Policy has a negative impact on health programming. The George W. Bush administration, for example, which initiated the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a multi-billion dollar initiative aimed at the prevention and treatment of HIV, limited the application of the Mexico City Policy to HIV/AIDS money despite the conservative anti-choice rhetoric of the party.

  • March 7, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    In the Huffington Post, Geoffrey Stone, co-faculty advisor to the ACS Student Chapter at the University of Chicago Law School, discusses Justice Scalia’s failed effort “to make originalism the dominant approach to constitutional interpretation.”

    At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Glenn Northern presents religious arguments against two upcoming Supreme Court cases that aim to severely restrict reproductive health services at the expense of women’s religious liberties.

    Rekha Basu in The Courier blasts Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for obstructing the judicial nominations process in a blatantly unconstitutional manner.

    “A $1.1 million corporate spending blitz that helped defeat two candidates for the Arkansas Supreme Court has prompted the state legislature to call for reforms that would either eliminate judicial elections, ban undisclosed ‘dark’ money in those races, or both,” reports Justin Miller at The American Prospect.

  • February 29, 2016

    by Jim Thompson

    At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost criticizes the unprecedented obstruction efforts of Senate Republicans, noting, “In the modern era of public hearings for Supreme Court confirmations that began in 1916, no nominee has been denied a hearing and only one has been denied a vote: Abe Fortas, filibustered in 1968 by Republicans.”

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts “loathes writing in the minority,” so a shift in the high Court’s balance of power would force Roberts to moderate his views or “let himself drift into irrelevance,”  writes Mark Joseph Stern at Slate.

    Nina Martin at Mother Jones explains how Justice Antonin Scalia’s deeply conservative views on abortion may oppress reproductive rights even after his death.

    Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely cast a crucial swing vote in the upcoming Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. Irin Carmon at MSNBC examines the factors that will influence his decision.

    In strong defense of the Second Amendment, Justice Clarence Thomas spoke from the bench for the first time in decade, reports Cristian Farias at The Huffington Post.

  • November 30, 2015

    by Jim Thompson

    In The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse writes that the birth control and abortion cases on the Supreme Court’s docket present “a battle for the secular state in which women can make their choices and design what Justice Ginsburg calls their life course, free of obstacles erected by those who would impose their religious views on others.”

    At The Washington Post, Sandhya Somashekhar explains how violent, deceiving rhetoric from anti-abortion advocates directly contributed to the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last Friday.

    The family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black male fatally shot by a white police officer last year, has presented Ohio prosecutors with two new reports from former high-ranking officials at California law enforcement agencies criticizing the Cleveland officer’s actions as reckless and unreasonable, writes Mitch Smith in The New York Times.

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations has called on the Department of Justice to investigate the Thanksgiving Day shooting of a Muslim taxi driver in Pittsburgh by an Islamophobic passenger, reports Peter Holley in The Washington Post.

  • November 4, 2014

    by Caroline Cox

    Justice Watch, the blog for Alliance for Justice, explains why a Republican-controlled Senate does not necessarily doom the judicial confirmation process for Obama-nominated judges.

    Jeffrey Rosen has a less optimistic view, and argues in The New Republic that the death of a justice during a Republican Congress would lead to disaster.

    Russel Berman reports in The Atlantic that a challenge to the filibuster survived a recent Supreme Court challenge.

    At SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe discusses Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Jerusalem passport case, and what yesterday’s oral argument signals about how the Supreme Court will decide the case.

    Irin Carmon of MSNBC reports on the numerous ballot measures that challenge reproductive rights throughout the country.