The Abortion Case That’s Really About the First Amendment – By ROBERT McNAMARA and PAUL SHERMAN – NYT

“The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in a case that pits abortion-rights advocates against religious groups dedicated to steering women away from abortion — including, some say, by outright deception.

But that is not why the case is important.To be sure, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra has all the hallmarks of a classic culture-war throwdown. The case centers on California’s attempt to force so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which exist primarily to dissuade women from having abortions, to display prominent advertisements detailing the availability of state-funded abortions.

As The Times’ Adam Liptak put it, succinctly: “The centers say the law violates their right to free speech by forcing them to convey messages at odds with their beliefs. The law’s defenders say the notices combat incomplete or misleading information provided by the clinics.”

In certain ways, the case has played out just as one might have expected: The Conference of Catholic Bishops has lined up on one side and Planned Parenthood on the other. Most people’s opinions on abortion rights and their opinions on the correct outcome in this case are probably pretty closely linked.

But that link shouldn’t be inevitable. We filed a brief in this case supporting the First Amendment rights of crisis pregnancy centers, even though we also personally support abortion rights (our firm shares our view of the First Amendment, though it takes no position on abortion).”David Lindsay: Sad, but probably true. I found no fault in the logic of these lawyers.

They argued:

“Sometimes, government officials use their newfound powers to silence speech they find politically uncongenial. For example, after the American Medical Association adopted a policy urging doctors to discuss gun ownership with their patients — either to talk to them about gun safety or, perhaps, to dissuade them from owning guns at all — the Florida Legislature, spurred by gun-rights advocates, rushed to prohibit doctors from doing so. In court, Florida defended the law as a regulation of unprotected “professional speech.” It took five years of litigation, in the face of repeated court rulings upholding the ban, before the law was finally struck down in 2017 by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Other times, officials simply try to silence speech that is embarrassing. When an Oregon man named Mats Järlström, who we have represented, wrote to his state engineering board to complain that traffic engineers had made mistakes in how they calculated the timing of red-light cameras, the board fined him $500 for doing the underlying math without an engineering license. (As it happens, the physics professor who initially came up with the formula for timing red-light cameras thought that our client was probably right, but that made no difference to state officials.)

And these threats to free speech extend far beyond traditional professions like doctors or engineers. Regulators have invoked the idea of professional speech to crack down on everything from everyday advice about healthy eating to private citizens’ testimony at public city-council hearings. One court even held the professional-speech doctrine applies to fortune tellers; in another case, city attorneys said it should apply to tour guides telling ghost stories. It turns out that there really is no such thing as just a little bit of censorship.”

dl: I’m not happy about the Pro life clinics, but they aren’t the only choice for advice in California. On the good side, they provide an outlet for their hard core believers. The reason they should be regulated, is that environmental scientists are saying things like we need to set aside half the planet for non human life, most of which is going extinct, and that extinction threatens our future existence. Some scientists argue well that though humans now are 7.5 billion, the proper sustainable number of humans for a safe clean quality of life and environment is probably 4 billion. Abortions might be terrible, but over population leading to civil war, starvation and massive die offs of human population centers is probably much worse. Medical triage is also mean and horrible, but it saves the largest number of human lives.

 

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The Gathering Threat to Abortion Rights – The New York Times

“People who care about basic American freedoms should be grateful to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for one thing: He has given liberals another good reason to flock to the polls in November.

Mr. McConnell is set to hold a procedural vote this week on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is part of a long-term legislative effort by the anti-abortion movement to gut Roe v. Wade and severely curtail abortion access nationwide.Twenty-week abortion bans, enacted in more than a dozen states and struck down in two, violate the Supreme Court’s standard that abortion can be restricted only when a fetus is viable outside the womb. Many, including the one being considered by the Senate, are based on claims not supported by most scientists about when a fetus feels pain.”

Legal Fight Could Make Kentucky Only State With No Abortion Clinic – The New York Times

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As states across the nation enact increasingly aggressive restrictions on abortion, perhaps nowhere has the political climate shifted as much as here in Kentucky, where the E.M.W. Women’s Surgical Center, a squat tan brick building on Market Street, is the state’s sole abortion clinic.Over the past year, Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican who calls himself “unapologetically pro-life,” has blocked a new Planned Parenthood clinic from performing abortions, shuttered E.M.W.’s satellite clinic in Lexington and threatened to close the existing one in Louisville. Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the clinic has sued the state; a trial is set for September.

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Consider the chapter in Freakonomics, (the first book) on the discovered correlation between the rise in legal access to abortions in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and the dramatic decline in crime rates in the 1990’s, but only in the states that really made abortions available to poor people.

from freakonomics.com: “These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn the conventional wisdom on its head.”

One of the many tragedies of the this war over a woman’s right to control her own reproduction, is that overpopulation is the great elephant in the room. We have gone from 2 to 7.5 billion people in just 100 years, and we humans, in our growth rate, are the new asteroid hitting the planet’s ecosystems.

To Win Again, Democrats Must Stop Being the Abortion Party – The New York Times

“When I came to this country from Ireland some 45 years ago, a cousin, here 15 years before, advised me that Catholics vote Democratic. Having grown up in the Irish Republic, I was well disposed to Republican Party principles like local autonomy and limited government. Yet a commitment to social justice, so central to my faith, seemed better represented by the Democratic Party. I followed my cousin’s good counsel.

But once-solid Catholic support for Democrats has steadily eroded. This was due at least in part to the shift by many American Catholic bishops from emphasizing social issues (peace, the economy) to engaging in the culture wars (abortion, gay marriage). Along the way, many Catholics came to view the Democrats as unconditionally supporting abortion.”

The author is right. Democrats have to be polite and respectful of people they disagree with. Obama understood this.

Here is comment I support, one of the few I read that didn’t inflame their opponents:

John Quinn

Detroit 4 hours ago

I suspect most Americans are both pro-choice and pro-life, and there is no contradiction in that. It’s like blasphemy and the First Amendment: many of us oppose blasphemy and also oppose any effort by the government to prevent blasphemy. The political problem with abortion, as with so many other issues, is unnecessary but carefully nurtured polarization. The author is right. Democrats might well be the governing majority if they rejected the polarization on this issue.

John Quinn
Detroit

Medicaid Funding to End for Planned Parenthood in Texas, State Says – The New York Times

“In a critical step in a longstanding fight, Texas formally said on Tuesday that it was ending Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood, a move the group said could affect 11,000 patients.

The office of inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission issued a final notice terminating Planned Parenthood’s enrollment in the state-funded health care system for the poor. If it is not stopped, the termination will be effective in 30 days.

Planned Parenthood officials said on Tuesday night that they would continue to provide birth control, cancer screenings, H.I.V. tests and other care to Medicaid patients and seek an injunction in federal court to stop the state. The group sued the state in 2015 after a preliminary notice was filed, but the court case has lingered pending further action by the state.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/us/texas-medicaid-cut-planned-parenthood-funding.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Chasing Abortion Rights Across the State Line – by Linda Greenhouse – The New York Times

“……Lloyd Gaines was a graduate of Lincoln University, Missouri’s state university for black students, who were excluded from the University of Missouri. He wanted to become a lawyer, but Lincoln University had no law school. He applied to the University of Missouri’s law school, for which his academic record qualified him, but his race did not. His application was rejected, and he was advised to apply for the scholarship that a state law made available to black students forced to leave the state in order to pursue their educational goals. In the language of the statute, university officials “shall have the authority to arrange for the attendance of negro residents of the state of Missouri at the university of any adjacent state to take any course or to study any subjects provided for at the state university of Missouri, and which are not taught at the Lincoln university, and to pay the reasonable tuition fees for such attendance.”

Mr. Gaines declined the offer. Represented by Charles Hamilton Houston, a pioneering lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P., he went to court. He lost in the Missouri Supreme Court, which noted that he could attend law school with full tuition paid and with only minor inconvenience at the state law schools of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa or Illinois, all of which accepted black students.

“We think that these matters are beside the point,” Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes wrote for the United States Supreme Court, overturning the state court’s ruling. “The basic consideration is not as to what sort of opportunities other states provide, or whether they are as good as those in Missouri, but as to what opportunities Missouri itself furnishes to white students and denies to Negroes solely upon the ground of color.” The chief justice went on to say that each state was “responsible for its own laws establishing the rights and duties of persons within its borders,” and that “it is an obligation the burden of which cannot be cast by one state upon another, and no state can be excused from performance by what another state may do or fail to do.” ”

…….. .

“The Gaines case is not well known today outside of Missouri, where the state university has a scholarship in his name and 10 years ago awarded him a posthumous honorary degree. But it has been rediscovered in the recent litigation over state restrictions on abortion. Two years ago, a federal district judge in Alabama, Myron Thompson, invoked the case in striking down the state’s requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

Because most hospitals in Alabama refused to give admitting privileges to doctors who performed abortions, the requirement would have closed three of the state’s five abortion clinics. The state argued that women could go elsewhere. But “the state could identify no precedent for a court to consider conduct outside the political boundaries of a jurisdiction in order to justify the constitutionality of actions by that jurisdiction,” Judge Thompson wrote, citing the Gaines case.”

Source: Chasing Abortion Rights Across the State Line – The New York Times

The Abortion Map Today, by LInda Greenhouse – The New York Times

“IN his smart opinion piece last week, “A Mason-Dixon Line of Progress,” Timothy Egan noted the “retreat to bigotry” sweeping across the old South as politicians clinging to the past (under the banner of religious freedom) line up to authorize discrimination against gay people. The column prompted me to think about whether the battlegrounds in the never-ending abortion wars display a similar geographic concentration.The answer is that to a startling degree they don’t. The battleground is much bigger. With the exception of the West Coast and most (but not all) of the Northeast, recently enacted abortion restrictions can be found almost everywhere.Since 2011, 10 states, from the Canadian border to the Great Lakes to the Southwest, have each imposed 10 or more new barriers to access to legal abortion. An additional 21 states have enacted between one and 10 restrictions — the lower number in some cases simply reflecting a state’s creativity in having already adopted a long menu of anti-abortion measures.”

Source: The Abortion Map Today – The New York Times

Trump and Abortion, by Nick Kristof – The New York Times

“Many Americans are ambivalent on abortion. But Trump has now turned the attention back from the fetus to the woman. And remember that three in 10 American women get an abortion at some point in their lives.Second, the data suggests that one of the most effective ways to reduce the number of abortions would be to increase the availability of publicly funded family planning. In 2013, publicly funded family planning prevented two million unintended pregnancies, including almost 700,000 abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.”

Source: Trump and Abortion – The New York Times

The State Assault on Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

“Last summer, after deceptively edited videos were used to accuse Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue, congressional Republicans voted to block all federal financing for the organization, and threatened to shut down the entire federal government if they didn’t get their way.

The charges against Planned Parenthood were completely bogus — investigations in 12 states found no wrongdoing, and one, in Texas, resulted in the indictment in January of the video makers.

By then, however, the damage was done. Even before the push in Congress failed, state governments had begun to cut funds for Planned Parenthood, without much national attention.Since last July, 23 states have tried various ways of cutting money for the organization. So far 11 have succeeded, most recently Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed HB 1411, a sweeping anti-abortion bill that, among many destructive provisions, prohibits Medicaid and other public funds from being used to reimburse organizations that work with abortion providers.”

Source: The State Assault on Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

Showdown on Abortion at the Supreme Court – The New York Times

“The decades-long crusade to end legal abortion in America after Roe v. Wade has again reached the Supreme Court.On Wednesday, the eight justices will hear a case challenging a 2013 Texas law that has already shut down more than half of the state’s 41 health clinics that perform abortions.Since Roe was decided in 1973, there have been countless efforts by anti-abortion activists to enact state laws that restrict abortion rights, often in the guise of protecting women’s health. But few laws have gone as far as the Texas statute, which places so heavy a burden on hundreds of thousands of women across the state — particularly those in poorer rural areas — that it has effectively destroyed their constitutional right to an abortion.”

Source: Showdown on Abortion at the Supreme Court – The New York Times

From the comments at the NYT.com: Christine McMorrow is a trusted commenter Waltham, MA 20 hours ago

“The attempt to roll back Roe vs Wade is nothing less than a fight to give religion a role in shaping secular law. You hate abortions? Fine most of us do, so go ahead, don’t have one.

But don’t let your religious views spill over into secular law that protects a woman’s right to choose–any woman, of any political or religious persuasion, even those who have no political or religious affiliation at all.

Your religion doesn’t get to dictate how I, or any woman, gets to live. My religion can tell me what is or is not a sin if i choose to practice my faith, but I don’t have that right to impose it on others.”
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