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Lawyers Club of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome. Guidelines for writers may be found on the Leadership Resources page.

 

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My So-Called First World Problems: "Good Luck With That Abortion"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Good Luck With That Abortion

 

Ohioans can breathe a sigh of relief! On December 13, pro-life Governor John Kasich vetoed Ohio’s “fetal heartbeat” bill – a bill banning all abortions after six weeks’ gestation, which is the point at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected. 


But the news is not all good. Governor Kasich did sign a 20-week abortion ban into law. As anyone who has ever received prenatal care knows, the “big” ultrasound is done at 20 weeks. That’s when you either breathe a sigh of relief because your fetus is healthy, or the technician runs out of the room to fetch a doctor to deliver sad news. Abortions past the 20-week mark are rare, (between 1% and 1.5% of all abortions occur past 20 weeks), and they are often performed in heart-wrenching situations where the parents badly wanted to have a child.


Our President has taken a flippant anti-Roe stance, dismissively saying that the issue should be left to the states. So, what options does a woman from Ohio have? I surveyed the states sharing borders with Ohio. Below, I share my findings and precious few words of comfort. 


Indiana made national news when then-Governor, now United States Vice President Mike Pence signed a law requiring that miscarried and aborted fetal remains be cremated or buried. The law is so extreme that it was opposed by pro-life women legislators. Also, you must wait for 18 hours to elapse between your state-mandated counseling session and your abortion procedure. Perhaps you can visit one of Indiana’s beautiful state parks as you mull the decision you had already made when you made interstate travel plans to carry out that decision.


Caveat: If your fetus is past 13 weeks’ gestation, travel elsewhere. As recently as early December 12, 2016, Hoosier women typically traveled to Ohio for their second-trimester abortions. They did this because Indiana law requires second-trimester abortions to be performed in a licensed surgical center or hospital – making the procedure unnecessarily, and often prohibitively, expensive. But now, abortions past 20 weeks are not available in Ohio even in cases of rape or incest. So sad, too bad.


You can always travel east to Pennsylvania. Abortion here is legal until 24 weeks of gestation. And, you can enjoy a mini-vacation, as you must spend 24 hours between your first doctor’s appointment and your abortion. Are you a minor? Bring mom or dad along, unless you can obtain a judicial bypass. The thought of involving the judiciary in my personal life is daunting for me, as an old, white, married, lady lawyer. But maybe post-millennials are bolder than my generation and this is a realistic option for Buckeye girls.


Michigan’s abortion laws are similar to Pennsylvania’s. In addition, there is state-directed “counseling” designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion. Medicaid patients will have to cover the entire cost of the procedure, unless they are rape or incest victims, or the pregnancy is life-endangering.


West Virginia would not be my first choice, as a mere .2% of American abortions occur in this state. But . . . mini-vacation! West Virginia has a 24-hour waiting period as well.

Kentucky’s public employees carry insurance policies which do not cover abortion. The waiting period is a mere 18 hours, but still requires you to be in Kentucky overnight. Also, you will need two medical doctors to determine that the abortion is “necessary.” Public hospitals may not perform an abortion unless the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.


Angry yet? Good. Donate now to one of the local abortion funds listed here. It may take a few clicks, but you will help a woman in need.

All facts and statistics are from The Guttmacher Institute unless otherwise noted.

Rebecca Zipp is an unapologetic defender of reproductive justice and a Lawyers Club Director.

Tags:  LCB  My So-Called First-World Problems  reproductive justice 

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Guest Blog: "Happy 100th Birthday, Planned Parenthood!"

Posted By Anne Haule, Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, Planned Parenthood!

 

The “birth” of Planned Parenthood Federation of America can be traced to the first birth control clinic in the U.S., which was opened by Margaret Sanger, her sister, and a fellow activist in Brooklyn, New York, on October 16, 1916. As the 6th of 11 children born out of 18 pregnancies in 22 years to an Irish Catholic mother who died at 49, it is not surprising that Sanger became a birth control activist.

 

Sanger became a fearless activist, educating women about how to avoid pregnancies that too often resulted in self-imposed abortions and death. She published contraceptive information unavailable elsewhere, (even in libraries or from physicians), due to prohibitions on sex education deemed “obscene” by the federal Comstock Act.

 

Fast forward to today: One hundred years after the opening of the first clinic, Planned Parenthood is still fighting—a fight that has broadened in scope from education and access to reproductive justice.

 

Some highlights of the 100-year fight include:

  • 1921: Establishment of the American Birth Control League, adding legislative reform and research to its mission (the name was changed to Planned Parenthood in 1942).
  • 1951: Research grant awarded to Planned Parenthood to develop a birth control pill.
  • 1965: Supreme Court legalized birth control for married people; Estelle Griswold, Planned Parenthood’s Connecticut President, opened a birth control clinic to challenge the state’s ban on birth control and successfully overturned the ban!
  • 1970: Contraceptives and sex education and contraception research becomes available through public funding; President Nixon and Republican leadership agree that family planning is part of public health.
  • 1973: Abortion becomes legal when the Supreme Court rules that abortion is a protected privacy right guaranteed by the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution (Roe v. Wade).
  • 1970s to present: Physical attacks on clinics and providers and continuous legislative attempts at restrictions on abortion.
  • 2011: Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to cover contraception.
  • 2016: 100 years after Sanger’s first clinic opened in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court holds Texas’ restrictions on abortion providers that severely limited access to be illegal in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Today, Planned Parenthood continues to be the subject of attacks by politicians and religious extremists. As a patient escort at a local abortion services provider, I can testify to offensive rhetoric of some anti-abortion protesters (among other names, fellow volunteers and I have been referred to as “Satan’s spawn” and “conspirators to murder”). Planned Parenthood’s physicians, staff, and volunteers are courageous in the face of such opposition.

 

Planned Parenthood is now the largest provider of women’s healthcare in the country. According to Planned Parenthood statistics, one in three women have abortions at some point in their lives. Thanks to Planned Parenthood and other providers, abortion has become a safe medical procedure and self-imposed abortion deaths familiar to Margaret Sanger have become a thing of the past in the United States.

 

For all the important work performed by Planned Parenthood over the past 100 years that has allowed us to advance the cause of women and families, let us all take the time to acknowledge the 100th birthday and consider donating our time and/or our resources to continue the fight.

 

This blog post was authored by Anne M. Haule. Anne M. Haule is a writer, feminist, progressive activist, and retired health lawyer, who wrote this on behalf of the Lawyers Club’s Reproductive Justice Committee. 

Tags:  Anne Haule  birth control  healthcare  LCB  parenthood  planned  planned parenthood  reproductive justice  reproductive justice committee  RJC  sanger 

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Guest Blog: "Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

Posted By Mehry Mohseni, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Lawyers Club of San Diego has a New Committee Focusing on Reproductive Justice"

 

Lawyers Club of San Diego has two new committees – The Reproductive Justice Committee and the Women’s Advocacy Committee. The two are a split of the former Reproductive Rights and Women’s Advocacy Committee. Why the split and why change from reproductive rights to reproductive justice?

 

Many of the victories won under the reproductive rights movement have typically been limited to two topics: access to contraception, and the availability of safe and legal abortion. At the very core of the movement is a desire for these basic rights to be guaranteed under the law. But for many, particularly women of color, the fight does not end there. A much broader set of concerns stems from the barriers for many women in actually realizing these rights.

 

Thus, a change in the movement arose, and the term “reproductive justice” was originally coined to represent the unique fight of women of color for reproductive rights, blended with an ongoing fight for social justice. Reproductive justice moves beyond the focus of individual choice, and closely examines the way in which our communities and government may create inequality for women through limited or no individual reproductive choice.

 

The term Reproductive Justice has been defined as: “The complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, social, and economic well-being of women and girls, based on the full achievement and protection of women's human rights.” It’s important to note this movement stretches beyond a woman’s right to limit the number of children, if any, she wishes to have. It also addresses the right a woman has to raise her children with dignity in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.

 

Including the important perspective of a diverse group of women allows the movement to unfold layers of oppression that our communities face, through an intersectional analysis of women's “real life” experiences. Some of these cross-sections include women of color, women with disabilities, incarcerated women, women involved in sex work or sex trade, low-income women, and LGBTQ women.

 

One alarming and complex example of the reproductive justice analysis occurred in Texas in 2011 after state lawmakers decreased funding for family planning services by 66 percent, closing 82 family planning clinics. Not only did low-income women in particular have less access to birth control, but the number of pregnancy-related deaths doubled from 78 in 2010 to 148 in 2011.

 

A task force was created to examine this increase and discovered a shocking statistic - African-American mothers accounted for 11.4 percent of Texas births in 2011 and 2012, but 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths. The task force stated the overall increase in deaths was likely due to a “multitude of factors," including the funding decrease coupled with a lack of affordable health care for low-income women. The reproductive justice framework analyzes the effect of these drastic funding cuts from the perspective of women of color and low-income women who are already at risk of not realizing their full reproductive health needs.

 

I’m excited to Co-Chair the new Reproductive Justice Committee this year and to challenge Lawyers Club members to view reproductive health not just from the legal stand point that we are used to, but in a more complex and broader context of well-being and community. I hope you will join us!

 

(Meetings are held the first Friday of the month at 12:00-1:00p.m. at DLA Piper downtown. Contact Mehry Mohseni or Chelsea Mutual with any questions on how to get involved.)

Mehry Mohseni is a family law attorney with Cage & Miles, LLP and co-chair of the Reproductive Justice Committee. 

 

Tags:  guest blogger  LCB  reproductive justice  reproductive rights  womens advocacy committee  women's advocacy committee 

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My So-Called First-World Problems: "June 27, 2016"

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Wednesday, August 10, 2016
 June 27, 2016.

When San Diego’s Coalition for Reproductive Justice (formerly the Coalition for Reproductive Choice), scheduled a June 27, 2016 screening of Trapped many moons ago, we were ignorant of the date’s auspices. Trapped follows the travails of abortion providers and their patients following the enactment of HB 2—the 2013 Texas law requiring that (a) doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic; and, (b) each abortion clinic meet standards for ambulatory surgical care centers. Serendipitously, we aired Trapped just hours after the Supreme Court of the United States held that HB 2 unconstitutionally placed an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

A little history: Traditionally, abortion foes prioritized the fetus, whereas advocates of abortion access have prioritized women’s lives and right to self-determination over any competing rights of the fetus.

In the last decade, the right-to-life camp has shifted gears, claiming that they are on the side of women—the more barriers to abortion, the better for women. Abortion, they began to argue, is inherently harmful to the woman physically, emotionally, and mentally. (NB: None of this is borne out by the evidence. Abortion is safer than childbirth. It is safer than a colonoscopy. Safer than liposuction. And, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), abortion does not cause mental health problems for most women.)  

A survey of available data (courtesy of the Guttmacher Institute and the APA) suggests that abortion is not harmful to women. What is harmful is the stigma our society attaches to abortion, and the strategically placed barriers to early abortion access. (Early abortions are safer and less expensive than later ones). What I love most about Whole Woman’s Health is the Court’s refusal to give credence to falsified claims that TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws do anything to help women. Why the refusal? Because the claims are not supported by evidence. We lawyers traffic in facts, and the record in Whole Woman’s Health is chock-full of facts demonstrating that barriers to abortion care are unhelpful and even dangerous.

The Court found the stated justification–keeping women safer–to be seriously lacking, and it found an unconstitutional undue burden. Among other persuasive facts, the Court considered that most abortions are not surgical, but medical (where the woman takes a pill to induce the abortion); thus, repudiating the opposition's assertion that abortions ought to occur at ambulatory surgical care centers.

 

State laws similar to HB 2 have proliferated in the past few years and are expected to face serious scrutiny in the wake of Whole Woman’s Health. As a result, the anti-abortion camp is expected to again revamp its strategy, returning their focus to the rights of the fetus, while reproductive justice advocates will continue to work toward the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls.

The atmosphere at CRJ’s screening of Trapped was celebratory yet somber. In the wake of HB 2’s enactment, Texas lost half of its abortion clinics. Rebuilding will take time, and in the three years it took the case to wind its way through the courts, real women and girls bore HB 2’s consequences. 

This blog was authored by Rebecca Zipp. Rebecca Zipp is the proud owner of a Notorious RBG t-shirt.



Tags:  Abortion  My So-Called First-World Problems  reproductive justice  SCOTUS  Supreme Court  Texas  Texas TRAP laws 

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