abortion

How Vandalism And Fear Ended Abortion In Northwest Montana

Jul 21, 2015

There has never been a welcome mat for abortion service providers in the Flathead Valley, a vast area that stretches over 5,000 square miles in the northwest corner of Montana. Susan Cahill began providing abortions in 1976 in the first clinic to offer the service in the Flathead.

"But that had an arson fire, and then we rebuilt that," she says. "Then we had the anti-choice people try to arrest me for doing abortions when I wasn't a doctor."

Swedish Hospital's facility on Seattle's First Hill.
Flickr Photo/Matthew Rutledge (CC BY 2.0)

New state rules intended to address secular hospitals' partnerships with Catholic health organizations has been rejected by the Washington Supreme Court.

The court ruled unanimously that the state Department of Health overextended its authority in expanding oversight of hospital mergers and affiliations.

Of the million or so women who have abortions every year in the U.S., nearly a quarter end their pregnancy using medications. But just as states have been passing a record number of restrictions on surgical abortion, more are trying to limit this option as well.

One of the country's strictest laws is in Ohio. To understand it, a little history helps.

Ohio may not have gotten the national attention of say, Texas, but a steady stream of abortion restrictions over the past four years has helped close nearly half the state's clinics that perform the procedure.

"We are more fully booked, and I think we have a harder time squeezing patients in if they're earlier in the pregnancy," says Chrisse France, executive director of Preterm. It's one of just two clinics still operating in Cleveland, and its caseload is up 10 percent.

Idaho lawmakers are moving ahead with a bill that would set legal requirements for doctors who prescribe abortion-inducing medication.

The ACLU of Washington has filed a lawsuit against Skagit Regional Health. It claims the public hospital’s policies create illegal barriers to abortion. Hospitals say they are required to offer abortions, but can’t make employees perform them.    

Idaho lawmakers took the advice of doctors Tuesday on changes to a bill that would regulate abortion-inducing medication. Physicians said certain requirements in the original bill would be impossible to fulfill in some cases.

Idaho lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would establish requirements for doctors who prescribe abortion drugs like RU-486.

Marcie Sillman talks to Katha Pollitt, columnist for The Nation, about her book "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights" and the argument for the pro-choice movement. 

Senator Mike Padden
Courtesy Photo

A bill introduced in Olympia last week would require health providers to notify parents 48 hours in advance if their child is getting an abortion. Critics say this will make it harder for an underage girl to get an abortion. Republican State Senator Mike Padden is the bill's sponsor. He represents Washington's 4th District in the Spokane Valley.

Seven years ago, Carmen Guadalupe Vasquez Aldana went to jail in El Salvador. She was initially charged with abortion but prosecutors elevated the charge to aggravated homicide, arguing that the fetus was viable. Vasquez always contended that she did not have an abortion but had lost her unborn son due to medical complications late in the pregnancy.

House Republicans decided Wednesday night to shelve a bill that would have banned abortion at 20 weeks post-conception. But 10 states already ban abortions at 20 weeks and two others are defending such laws in court.

Activists are pushing for bans in at least three more states; a panel in the South Carolina Legislature passed one Thursday.

But under the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, a woman has the right to an abortion for several weeks after that, until the point when the fetus is considered viable.

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of a hotly contested abortion law in Texas. The measure mandates stricter building codes for clinics that perform the procedure, and Fifth Circuit judges in New Orleans will decide whether that poses an undue burden.

The Texas law — HB2 — requires clinics that perform abortions to operate like ambulatory surgical centers. Think wider hallways and hospital-style equipment — upgrades that could cost millions.

The new year is expected to bring yet another round of state laws to restrict abortion — and 2015 could also be the year a challenge to at least one of these laws could reach the Supreme Court.

The ongoing spike in abortion laws started after 2010, when Republicans won big in the midterms. Since then, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 abortion regulations — more than in the entire decade before. And with more statehouse gains in the fall elections, abortion opponents expect another good year.

The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked enforcement of an Arizona law aimed at limiting use of the increasingly popular abortion pill. In 2012 nearly half of the abortions in the state were via the pill, known as RU-486.

The pill was approved by the FDA in 2000 for the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Since then, scientists have developed safer and smaller doses that allow the drug to be used through the ninth week.

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