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National Abortion Federation Blog: Saporta Reporter

News about reproductive choice from the President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta. photo of Vicki Saporta
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  Remembering an American hero: George Tiller

We continue to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a dedicated physician who provided quality abortion care to women, at great personal sacrifice and risk. He is truly a hero to his fellow abortion providers and his patients. Dr. Tiller’s office is filled with letters from women, thanking him for the excellent, compassionate care he provided. Many of these women say Dr. Tiller saved their lives.

Since his tragic death, we have received messages from some of his patients and from people around the world who are saddened and outraged. We feel it is important to share these words and tributes to our beloved colleague and friend. For the first time, we will enable comments on our blog so that all of you can share your condolences or offer memories of Dr. Tiller. We invite you to join us in honoring a true American hero, Dr. George Tiller.

Post your comments, condolences, and personal memories of Dr. Tiller

Friday, July 17, 2009

U.S. House of Representatives Lifts DC Abortion Ban

Yesterday, we released the following statement commending the U.S. House of Representatives for lifting a longstanding ban that prohibits DC from using its locally raised revenue to help low-income women obtain the abortion care they need:

This prohibition interfered with the rights of DC residents and has effectively prevented the DC government from assessing and meeting the needs of its community. We are pleased that the House has removed this discriminatory policy, which has for far too long interfered with DC women’s ability to access safe, legal abortion care.

Since 1977, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for medically necessary abortion care for most low-income women, except in very limited circumstances. Although states may use non-federal funds to pay for abortion care, since 1988 Congress has restricted DC from using its own locally raised funds to provide abortion care to low-income women.

President Obama’s FY 2010 Budget called on Congress to lift the ban on the District’s use of locally raised funds for abortion care. We urge the Senate to join the House in taking action to end this discriminatory policy.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

South Dakota Voters Reject the Nation’s Most Restrictive Abortion Ban

This ban would have threatened the lives and health of South Dakota women, and potentially set a dangerous precedent for our country. Today’s vote is a victory not only for women in South Dakota, but for women throughout the nation.

This is the second time South Dakota voters have protected a woman’s right to access abortion care by defeating an abortion ban. In 2006, the South Dakota legislature passed an abortion ban, which Governor Mike Rounds signed into law. Citizens in South Dakota banded together in opposition to the legislation, and gathered enough signatures to defer implementation of the ban pending a statewide referendum. That year, South Dakota voters rejected the abortion ban by a margin of 55 percent to 45 percent.

Although abortion opponents proposed another abortion ban this year, the citizens of South Dakota have again voted not to outlaw abortion.

The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families, the organization originally created to fight the abortion ban in 2006, once again played an integral part in the ban’s defeat. NAF also sent staff to South Dakota to help campaign against this dangerous initiative.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NAF Staff in the Field: Fighting South Dakota’s Proposed Abortion Ban – Update 3

Our weekend of activism culminated in a well-attended visibility event at a busy intersection in the middle of Rapid City. Even though the traffic was constant, drivers took the time to honk in support, sometimes slowing to wave. Some drivers pulled over to talk with us and get literature on the ban, and one driver even signed up to volunteer with the Campaign for Healthy Families. By the weekend’s end, our group of volunteers had documented more than 100 new supporters and had widely distributed boxes of bumper stickers and voter guides.

One of the most rewarding aspects of our time in South Dakota has been meeting the campaign staff and volunteers here in Rapid City and from the neighboring states of Wyoming and Montana. An abortion provider from Oregon even joined the group and shared some of her experiences in providing abortion care. In between phone calls and campaigning, we discussed how abortion access and availability varied in each of our home states. Hearing about the barriers women face when obtaining abortion care in different states reminded us of the importance of our work here in South Dakota and back in DC. As we prepare to go home, I know we will not forget all of these stories and the amazing people we encountered in Rapid City.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

NAF Staff in the Field: Fighting South Dakota’s Proposed Abortion Ban – Update 2

After our successful first day of phone banking and holding our "No on 11" signs at a busy downtown intersection, we were eager to hit the streets and meet the people of Rapid City. We set out in teams and canvassed tree-lined, hilly neighborhoods covered in Halloween décor and political signs. Our targets were undecided voters, and our mission was to make sure they knew that the ban was back on the ballot this year. Armed with maps, bottled water, and bags of Healthy Families literature, we made our way into the heart of Rapid City. We were impressed with the diversity of supporters: young mothers, senior citizens, and baby boomers. They all agreed that the exceptions were too broad and took away important decision-making from women, their doctors, and their families. Abortion in South Dakota is already rare and heavily regulated. We talked with people about how IM 11 would introduce big government into family decision making, and the harmful ways this ban would threaten a woman’s health.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

NAF Staff in the Field: Fighting South Dakota’s Proposed Abortion Ban - Update 1

Staff members from the National Abortion Federation traveled to South Dakota this week to work with the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families (SDCHF) to campaign against Initiated Measure 11, which would ban abortion in the state with limited exceptions. This week our blog will feature their reports “from the field” about this closely watched ballot initiative.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time abortion opponents have tried to ban abortion in the state. In 2006, South Dakota passed a broad abortion ban, but SDCHF was able to collect enough signatures to defer implementation of the ban pending a statewide referendum. Voters in South Dakota defeated the ban by a margin of 55% to 44%.



Upon arriving in Rapid City, the first thing we noticed was the lack of skyscrapers. Being city girls, a lack of tall buildings and concrete was pretty shocking. However, the political signs that followed us to the campaign office made us feel far more at home than we anticipated.

We were greeted at the office by warm, friendly people whose kindness was trumped only by their dedication. They explained how difficult it already is for women in Rapid City to obtain abortion care because the city's reproductive health clinic doesn't provide abortions, and the closest clinic is located nearly 400 miles away in Sioux Falls.

Our first activity was to increase campaign visibility by joining a diverse group of campaign workers and volunteers holding signs against Initiated Measure 11 at one of Rapid City's busiest intersections. We received many reactions from passers-by, including a large number of honks and waves from fellow supporters. Being active on the issue in public made us realize just how divisive abortion is in the state of South Dakota, and gave us new drive for our evening's phone banking to educate voters and urge them to vote “no on 11.”

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Michigan Governor Plans to Veto Proposed Abortion Ban

Today, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm stated that she would veto a bill headed to her office, which bans certain types of abortions without an exception for a woman’s health. The bill was passed today by the Senate, and resembles a federal ban upheld by the Supreme Court last year. There have been three previous attempts in the state to outlaw the procedures covered in the bill, but all have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Appeals Court Strikes Down Virginia Abortion Ban

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned a Virginia abortion law on constitutional grounds. This is the second time the federal appeals court in Richmond has struck down this law ruling it would impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to obtain abortion care.

The 2-1 ruling affirms the same court’s 2005 decision to strike down the abortion ban, a ruling which prevented Virginia’s law from taking effect. However, last year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law banning certain abortions. Following this decision, the Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to reexamine the Virginia law in light of the high court's ruling on the federal ban. Since the Supreme Court decision in April 2007, federal appeals courts have overturned state bans in Michigan and now Virginia, finding that they are broader than the federal abortion ban.

Like the federal law, Virginia’s act banned certain abortion procedures after the first trimester and lacked an exception to protect women’s health.

“Unlike the federal act,” Judge M. Blane Michael wrote for the majority, “the Virginia act subjects all doctors who perform” the more common procedure “to potential criminal liability, thereby imposing an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to choose.”

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Senate Questions Anti-Choice Judicial Nominee

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on anti-choice Richard Honaker’s nomination for a lifetime appointment as a federal district judge to the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.

Throughout his career, Richard Honaker has worked to undermine a woman’s right to access abortion care. While in the Wyoming Legislature, Honaker introduced two bills that would have created a near total-ban on abortion in the state. When the bills failed, Honaker then served as counsel to an organization formed to place the abortion ban on the 1994 Wyoming state-wide ballot. Wyoming voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure.

Honaker has repeatedly stated his view that legal abortion is the equivalent of murder, and has criticized Supreme Court decisions establishing the legal right to an abortion. His statements and writings on the role of religion in the law also raise concerns about whether he would follow established precedent if the resulting decision would be inconsistent with his personal beliefs. Given his extensive history of anti-abortion activism and his extremist legal philosophy, Honaker is clearly an inappropriate judicial candidate and his confirmation to the court would threaten the reproductive rights of women in Wyoming.

Read NAF’s statement opposing Richard Honaker’s nomination.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Celebrating 35 Years of Safe, Legal Abortion Care

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion care in the United States. On this historic anniversary, it is important that we celebrate what we have achieved under the legacy of Roe while also assessing the challenges that lie ahead.

Roe has undoubtedly saved the lives and protected the health of countless women. As we mark this milestone of 35 years of safe, legal abortion care, we must remain vigilant in preserving this freedom so that we never have to return to the days of back-alley abortions when women had to sacrifice their lives and health to end an unwanted pregnancy.

In the 35 years since Roe, many new reproductive health care options have become available to women. These include a variety of safe and effective contraceptive methods, emergency contraception, early medical abortion using mifepristone (RU-486), and safe surgical abortion. Despite these advances in reproductive health care, a woman's fundamental right to make her own reproductive health care decisions continues to be eroded by politicians and the courts.

Women deserve to have access to safe abortion care, free from the interference of politicians. Legislative attacks on Roe and a woman's right to choose are all too common in state legislatures. In 2007 alone, more than 450 anti-choice bills were filed in states across the country. Although the vast majority of these bills were not enacted, several states passed extreme legislation that would ban all safe abortion procedures at all stages of pregnancy if Roe were overturned.

It is critical to the lives and health of millions of women that the protections of Roe not be further weakened. NAF will continue to work to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible to promote health and justice for women.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vogue Writer Shares Abortion Story

In this month’s Vogue, writer Lori Campbell shares her experience with a complicated pregnancy and her decision to obtain a second trimester abortion. In 1998, 22 weeks into a wanted pregnancy, Campbell was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix. Her water broke, and doctors told her she would likely go into labor within a week and her fetus would have only a one percent chance of survival and was almost guaranteed to have severe disabilities including brain damage.

Campbell and her husband made the choice to terminate the pregnancy using a procedure that has since been outlawed by the Supreme Court. During her experience, Campbell notes the one thing that never factored into her decision was politics. Unfortunately, last year’s Supreme Court decision to ban certain abortion procedures placed politics above protecting women's health. When the Court issued its decision in April, Campbell says she “couldn’t help thinking, they cannot know what they are doing.”

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Lower Court’s Decision Finding Michigan’s Abortion Ban Unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court today decided not to hear an appeal from an anti-abortion group to reconsider a Michigan law banning so called “partial birth abortions.” By doing so, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled the Michigan law was unconstitutional because it could also ban other abortion procedures stands.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Lawsuit Filed To Block Anti-Abortion Ballot Initiative in Missouri

Mary Hickey, a St. Louis woman that is represented by lawyers for Planned Parenthood in Missouri, filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking to prevent a petition drive to place an anti-abortion initiative on the November 2008 Missouri ballot.

The lawsuit argues that if enacted, the initiative would “render virtually all abortions unlawful," and thus violate a woman's constitutional right to obtain abortion care.

The initiative’s sponsor is the Elliot Institute, an out-of-state organization based in Springfield, IL. In 2006, the same organization unsuccessfully tried to put a proposal against stem-cell research on Missouri’s ballot.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Anti-Abortion Extremist Ordered to Remove Violent Threats from Website

Yesterday, a federal judge ordered an anti-abortion extremist in Pennsylvania to remove threatening content from his website and blog. For years John Dunkle has harassed and threatened abortion providers in person and on the Internet. One posting to his website, which featured an abortion provider’s name, photo, and address, encouraged readers to kill her by shooting her in the head.

Prosecutors claimed the postings violated the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The FACE Act makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services. U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Golden said, “There’s no question threats were made.”

Dunkle is also banned from publishing similar messages containing names, addresses, or photographs of reproductive health care workers.

>Learn more about the FACE Act.
>Learn more about violence and disruption against abortion providers.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Sign the Petition to Repeal Hyde!

Make Your Voice Heard!

For nearly 35 years, women in the United States have had the right to obtain safe, legal abortion care. However, bans on public funding have severely restricted the ability of low-income women, who depend on the government for their health care, to obtain the care they need. Since 1977, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited federal Medicaid funding to be used for abortion care except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment.

Under this restriction, even when an abortion is necessary to preserve a woman's health, the procedure is not covered. As a result, a woman may delay her abortion while seeking funds to pay for care, or continue a pregnancy at risk to her own health. The Hyde Amendment is grossly unjust and the time has come to address this inequity in women's health care.

Join over 60 groups in the Hyde - 30 Years is Enough! Campaign and call on Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment and restore coverage of abortion care for low-income women. Sign our petition today!

Together, we can create a society in which all women have the resources necessary to obtain the health care they need.

>Learn more about the "Hyde - 30 Years is Enough! Campaign"
>Read the National Abortion Federation's fact sheet about the Hyde Amendment.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Impact of Nicaragua's Abortion Ban

Nicaragua’s abortion ban has had a devastating impact on women’s lives and health. In November 2006, the Nicaraguan government eliminated the exception that permitted an abortion if three doctors certified that a woman's life or health was at risk.

A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Over Their Dead Bodies,” documents how the ban on abortion has made women afraid to seek even legal health care services. Fearing prosecution under the new law, doctors are unwilling to provide necessary care.

In Nicaragua, both women who obtain abortion care and abortion providers can face four to eight years in prison.

According to HRW, Nicaragua is one of only three countries in the world to maintain a blanket ban on abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, or life or health-threatening pregnancies.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Michigan’s Abortion Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a Michigan statute, which banned certain abortion procedures, was unconstitutional. According to the court, the Legal Birth Definition Act was worded so broadly that in addition to banning intact dilation and extraction procedures, it would also prohibit other legal abortion methods. The law “showed no meaningful attempt to comply with the constitutional limitations articulated by federal courts in the area of abortion law,” Judge Boyce F. Martin Jr. wrote for the court.

This is the third attempt in the last ten years by Michigan lawmakers to restrict access to abortion procedures. In April, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law banning certain abortion procedures after the first trimester.

>Learn more about the Federal Abortion Ban

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Irish Voters Support Abortion Under Certain Circumstances, Opinion Poll Says

Almost two-thirds of Irish voters favor abortion in cases where the fetus would not survive outside of the womb, according to an Irish opinion poll. Ireland currently has one of the strictest abortion bans in Europe. Over 6,000 Irish women travel to Britain every year to terminate their pregnancies.

Ireland’s abortion law has received international media attention over the last month due to the High Court of Dublin’s decision that allowed a 17-year-old girl in the care of the Health Service Executive - whose fetus had a fatal brain condition - to leave the country to obtain abortion care.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Columbia Celebrates One Year of Liberalized Abortion Ban

Today marks the one year anniversary of the landmark Constitutional Court decision that liberalized Columbia’s abortion law. The majority of the Court (5-3) ruled that abortion should not be considered a crime when a pregnancy threatens the life or health of the woman; in cases of rape or incest; or when fetal malformations make life outside the uterus unviable. This case was the first to use international human rights arguments to advocate for legalized abortion.

>Learn more about international abortion issues.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

NAF Distributes Statement Clarifying Recent Supreme Court Decision on Abortion

NAF has received reports from our members and our Hotline operators about women being concerned about the accessibility of abortion care following the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. NAF has issued a statement so that women understand that abortion care will continue to be available at our member facilities. The complete statement follows:

On April 18, 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law banning certain
abortion procedures after the first trimester. It remains the case,
however, that abortion is still legal in the United States in the first and
second trimesters, and under very limited circumstances in the third
trimester. We are working with our members and attorneys to ensure that
women continue to have access to the highest quality abortion care in compliance
with the court’s decision.

If you have questions about abortion or need referrals to providers of quality care, please call our toll-free Hotline at 1-800-772-9100. Our hotline provides callers with unbiased, factual information about abortion in English, Spanish, and French.

NAF has been at the forefront of challenging this dangerous ban. Our mission is to
ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care to promote health and justice
for women. Our members include health care professionals at clinics, doctors'
offices, and hospitals, who together care for more than half the women who
choose abortion each year in the United States.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

National Abortion Federation Calls on Members of Congress to Sponsor and Support the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)

Here is the press release we issued today:

Washington, DC - Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, released the following statement today urging members of Congress to sponsor and support the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA):

The United States Supreme Court ruling upholding the federal abortion ban was a major setback for women’s health. This ruling effectively undermines a core protection for women’s health established in Roe v. Wade. It underscores the urgent need for Congress to take action to protect women’s health and a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions.

FOCA would restore the rights guaranteed to American women by the Roe decision, and ensure that women’s health would be protected.


Women’s lives and health must remain paramount. We urge members of Congress to sponsor and support this important legislation and safeguard women's health and reproductive freedom. We stand with and thank Senator Boxer and Representative Nadler for their leadership and determination to ensure that women continue to have access to safe and legal reproductive health care.

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The Supreme Court Turns Back the Clock on Women's Health

NAF condemned a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a federal law banning certain abortions. The Bush Court clearly put politics ahead of protecting women's health.

"This decision is a major setback for women's health," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "It undermines the health protections afforded by Roe v. Wade and opens the door for politicians to pass additional laws that could further jeopardize women's safety."

The federal abortion ban interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and the ability of doctors to make appropriate medical decisions. We will be working with our member physicians to ensure that women continue to have access to safe, quality abortion care.

NAF has been on the forefront of challenging this dangerous ban and we need your support to continue our efforts to protect women's health.

> Donate now

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ACLU and National Abortion Federation Criticize Decision by U.S. Supreme Court Upholding Federal Abortion Ban

Here is the press release we issued today:

WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) today sharply criticized a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a federal law banning certain abortions. It is the first abortion decision from the Supreme Court since Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired. Both organizations said that the Court’s decision will endanger women’s health.

“Today’s decision has placed politics above protecting women’s health,” said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. “This ruling is a set back for all Americans who believe politicians should not legislate medical decision-making. The decision disregards the opinion of leading doctors and medical organizations that oppose the ban because it is harmful to women’s health.”

The Court ruled today on two challenges to the federal abortion ban, called by its sponsors the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.” The two cases are Gonzales v. Carhart, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and three other physicians, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of its affiliates throughout the country.

A third challenge to the ban, National Abortion Federation v. Gonzales, was brought by NAF and seven individual physicians, represented by the ACLU, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, the ACLU of Illinois, and the New York Civil Liberties Union. In 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit put that case on hold until the Supreme Court issued a decision in the other two cases. Today’s Supreme Court decision requires that the ban be upheld in this case as well.

“Today’s decision undermines a core principle of Roe v. Wade that women’s health must remain paramount,” said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The decision invites politicians to meddle even further into the doctor-patient relationship by passing additional restrictions on abortion.”

Leading doctors and medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which represents 90 percent of OB-GYNs in this country, opposed the federal ban.

Congress passed the federal abortion ban and President Bush signed it into law in 2003, despite numerous court decisions striking down similar state bans, including the decision in 2000 by the Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her dissent to today’s opinion: “Though today’s opinion does not go so far as to discard Roe or Casey, the Court, differently composed than it was when we last considered a restrictive abortion regulation, is hardly faithful to our earlier invocations of ‘the rule of law’ and the ‘principles of stare decisis.’”

Today’s cases are Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, No. 05-1382 and Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Portugal’s President Endorses Law to Legalize Abortion

Portugal’s President Anibal Cavaco Silva ratified a law Tuesday that legalizes abortion up to the 10th week of pregnancy. Last month Portugal’s parliament voted to legalize abortion following a popular referendum, which showed that 59.3 percent of voters were in favor of legalizing abortion. The old abortion law was one of the most rigid abortion bans in Europe, with the procedure prohibited except in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or if a woman's life or health was at risk. Portugal's Socialist Government now has 60 days to regulate the new law before it can be implemented.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Supreme Court Decision Expected Soon in Federal Abortion Ban Challenges

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon issue a decision in two legal challenges to a federal ban on abortion. The Federal Abortion Ban was signed into law by President Bush in 2003. This dangerous and extreme measure prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy, abortions that doctors say are safe and among the best to protect women's health.

The ban was immediately challenged in three federal courts and was struck down in every court as a danger to women’s health. On November 8, 2006, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two of these cases, Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A third challenge to the federal abortion ban, NAF v. Gonzales, was brought by NAF and seven individual physicians. That case is now on hold, pending a Supreme Court decision in the other two cases.

Abortion bans jeopardize women’s health. The National Abortion Federation is closely monitoring these cases, and we will alert you when the Supreme Court decision is issued in these cases.

>Learn more about the Federal Abortion Ban.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The National Abortion Federation Condemns Mississippi Abortion Ban

Here is the press release we issued Friday:

Washington, DC—Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, released the following statement today condemning Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour’s decision to sign an abortion ban into law. The bill would ban almost all abortions in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

This law is a near-total ban on abortion. It would deny Mississippi women necessary reproductive health care. Under this law doctors would also face imprisonment for providing women with safe abortion care. Politicians should not endanger the lives and health of women to advance their own political agendas.


For more than 30 years, Roe v. Wade has protected the lives and health of American women. Citizens in Mississippi will not tolerate a return to the days of back-alley abortions when
women had to sacrifice their lives and health to end an unwanted pregnancy.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Polish Woman Awarded Damages After Abortion Refusal

The European Court of Human Rights has awarded a Polish woman more than $30,000 in damages after she was refused an abortion despite warnings from her doctor that continuing the pregnancy could cause her to go blind. Alicja Tysiac suffers from severe myopia, and when she became pregnant for the third time in 2000 she consulted three ophthalmologists who each concluded her eyesight would be damaged further if she carried the pregnancy to term. However, despite Tysiac’s requests, all three doctors refused to issue a certificate for the pregnancy to be terminated on medical grounds, according to the court.

After giving birth Tysiac suffered a retinal hemorrhage which caused her vision to deteriorate significantly and she has been declared disabled by a panel of doctors. Poland currently has one of the strictest abortion bans in Europe, with the procedure only permitted in cases of rape or incest, fetal abnormality, or danger to the life or health of the woman. The court
ruled that Poland has no effective legal framework for pregnant women to assert their right to abortion on medical grounds.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Portugal Parliament Votes to Legalize Abortion

Last night Portugal’s parliament voted to legalize abortion up until the 10th week of pregnancy, just weeks after a popular referendum showed that 59.3 percent of voters were in favor of legalizing abortion. The referendum failed due to low voter turnout, but Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates pledged to honor the wishes of the voters and legalize abortion in Portugal. The old abortion law was one of the most rigid abortion laws in Europe, with the procedure banned except in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or if a woman's life or health was at risk.

Ricardo Rodrigues, a senior legislator called parliament’s vote, “
a turning point in Portugal's history,” and said that he hoped decriminalizing abortion will put an end to dangerous backstreet abortions. Each year over 20,000 Portuguese women put their lives at risk through dangerous self-induced or back-alley abortions, and thousands more terminate unwanted pregnancies in underground private clinics or travel to other countries with less restrictive abortion laws.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

South Dakota Senate Committee Rejects Abortion Ban

This morning the South Dakota Senate State Affairs Committee rejected an abortion ban by an 8 to 1 vote. This dangerous ban would have prohibited safe abortion procedures with limited exceptions, and was passed by the state House last week.

Despite the committee’s vote, the measure’s main sponsor, Rep. Gordon Howie, said he would still try to bring the bill before the full Senate. Forcing the bill out of committee requires a one-third vote of the full Senate, but members of the State Affairs Committee said they didn’t think there were enough votes in the Senate to take up the bill.

Senators from both political parties opposed this ban. State Affairs Committee member and majority leader Dave Knudson said, “The root issue here is the clear unconstitutionality of this bill.”

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

South Dakota Senate Rejects Three Abortion Measures

While the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a dangerous abortion ban yesterday, state senate committees defeated three bills aimed at restricting abortion access.

SB172 would have required doctors to inform women that they cannot be forced to have an abortion as part of the state’s required informed consent. SB171 would have required abortion providers to post a sign at their facilities stating such coercion is not allowed. Both bills were deemed unnecessary by lawmakers and defeated in committee. Also defeated was a bill passed by the South Dakota House that would have required abortion providers to offer women seeking abortion care the chance to view sonograms.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The National Abortion Federation Condemns Latest South Dakota Abortion Ban

Here is the press release we issued following the vote in South Dakota:

Washington, DC - Reacting to today's action by the South Dakota House of Representatives to place another referendum before voters that would ban almost all abortions in the state, Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), noted that "Legislators have again put politics ahead of the well-being of South Dakota women."

House Bill 1293 would prohibit virtually all safe abortion procedures and contains only narrow exceptions. Saporta called the legislation "an outrageous and dangerous step backward for women's lives and health."

If the bill clears the Senate and is signed by the Governor, the measure would be placed before South Dakota voters in the 2008 election.

"Just a few months ago, the citizens of South Dakota voted against returning to the days of illegal and unsafe abortions," said Saporta.

Last November voters decisively rejected a similar referendum, with 56% of voters casting a vote against a broad abortion ban.

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South Dakota Attempts to Have Another Abortion Ban Referendum

A bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state of South Dakota will be voted on today in the state’s House of Representatives.

If the bill clears House and Senate and is signed by the Governor, the measure would be placed before South Dakota voters in the 2008 election.

Last year, voters decisively rejected an abortion ban referendum.

>Learn more about the dangers of abortion bans

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Voters in Portugal Support Overturning their Strict Abortion Ban

On Sunday, Portugal held a national referendum to legalize abortion up to the 10th week of pregnancy. While 59.3 percent of voters backed the measure, only about 44 percent of the electorate voted, short of the 50 percent turnout needed to amend Portugese law.

Following the lead of the voters, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates has pledged to legalize abortion in Portugal.

Portugal currently has one of the most rigid abortion laws in Europe, with the procedure banned except in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or if a woman's life or health is at risk.

>View the BBC’s Analysis

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Portugal Referendum Could Legalize Abortion

This Sunday Portugal will hold a national referendum to legalize abortion up to the 10th week of pregnancy. Portugal currently has one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, with the procedure banned except in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or if a woman's life or health is at risk.

Criminalization of abortion has not reduced the number of women seeking abortion care in Portugal. According to a
Reuters article, over 20,000 Portuguese women put their lives at risk each year through dangerous self-induced or back-alley abortions. Thousands more women terminate unwanted pregnancies in underground private clinics or travel to other countries with less restrictive abortion laws.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

States Continue to Attack Abortion Access

State lawmakers across the country continue their attempts to restrict abortion access.

Yesterday
lawmakers in South Dakota introduced a bill banning abortion with limited exceptions. In November, voters in the state rejected an abortion ban by a wide margin. This year’s ban has stricter penalties; doctors who provide abortions could be charged with a Class-4 felony and face up to 10 years in prison.

A Utah House of Representatives panel Tuesday approved an unconstitutional abortion ban that challenges Roe v. Wade. Initially Rep. Paul Ray was expected to introduce a “trigger” bill, but at the last minute pushed for an abortion ban with limited exceptions. This is not the first time Utah legislators have tried to outlaw abortion. In the early 1990s Utah passed an abortion ban and spent more than $1 million taxpayer dollars to defend the law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was struck down as unconstitutional.

Friday, the
North Dakota House of Representatives passed a “trigger” bill, which would go into effect if Roe v. Wade were overturned. This measure would ban all safe abortion procedures at all stages of pregnancy with no meaningful exceptions.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

On the 34th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion Federation Releases its 2006 Legislative Report

As our nation today commemorates the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) released its 2006 Legislative Report. While abortion rights remained under attack in 2006, there were several notable victories at the federal and state levels that could lay the groundwork for future pro-choice legislative victories.

"Legislative attacks on women's reproductive freedom are all too common," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "Women deserve to have access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion care. At the same time that we celebrate what Roe v. Wade has done to improve the lives and health of American women, we must remain vigilant in opposing attempts to further restrict abortion access."

The report examines key events in 2006, including the confirmation of Samuel Alito, the introduction of sweeping abortion bans in several states, successful campaigns against restrictive state ballot initiatives, the enactment of protective measures for abortion providers, the defeat of anti-abortion legislation on Capitol Hill, and the 2006 elections.

"NAF will continue to work on the state and federal levels to ensure that abortion is safe, legal, and accessible to promote health and justice for women," said Saporta.

NAF’s 2006 Legislative Report is available at www.prochoice.org.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Georgia Representative Introduces Bill to Ban Abortion

Earlier this week, I reported on some of the attacks on abortion access at the state level. Unfortunately another restrictive bill has been filed this week. State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) introduced a bill in the Georgia House of Representatives that would ban safe abortion procedures at all stages of pregnancy. This dangerous bill is unconstitutional since it lacks an exception for the life and health of the woman.

Franklin has filed similar bills in the last three legislative sessions, but none have reached a vote in the state House.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Threats to Abortion Access in the States

Attacks on abortion rights continue at the state level. Following are two recent examples:

Ohio: In one of his last acts in office, Governor Bob Taft signed a bill prohibiting public funding of abortions except in instances of rape, incest, or life endangerment. The bill officially states that childbirth is preferred over abortion as the public policy of the state, and also banned the use of public money, including Medicaid, for abortion counseling and referrals.

Oklahoma: State Representative Mike Reynolds recently filed a “trigger” bill, which would automatically go into effect if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and re-establish the state’s anti-abortion laws.

>Learn more about state level threats to abortion access

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Argument in Federal Abortion Ban Challenges

ACLU and National Abortion Federation Call on Court to Hold Women's Health Paramount

The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument today in two legal challenges to a federal ban on abortion. The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) submitted friend-of-the-court briefs in each of the cases. Both organizations have called on the Court to hold women's health paramount by affirming lower court decisions striking down the ban.

"This is a dangerous and broad ban prohibiting abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy – abortions that doctors say are safe and among the best to protect women's health," said Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO. "Politicians should not legislate medical decision-making; women should be able to make decisions and receive care based on their individual circumstances."

Before the Court today were two challenges to the federal abortion ban, called the "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act" by its sponsors: Gonzales v. Carhart, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and three other physicians and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in July 2005, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of its affiliates throughout the country and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in October 2005. Both circuit courts struck down the ban because it fails to protect women's health. In addition, the Ninth Circuit found that the ban prohibits an array of safe abortion methods.

A third challenge to the federal abortion ban, NAF v. Gonzales, was brought by NAF and seven individual physicians, represented by the ACLU, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, the ACLU of Illinois, and the New York Civil Liberties Union. In January 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that the ban requires a health exception and asked for further legal briefing to determine how to remedy the violation. That case is now on hold as the other two cases go before the Supreme Court.

"Only six years ago, the Supreme court struck down a nearly identical ban because it endangered women," said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "We are hopeful the Court will follow its own lead and stop this sweeping ban."

Medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose the federal ban.

Congress passed the federal ban and President Bush signed it into law in 2003, despite numerous court decisions striking down similar state bans, including the decision in 2000 by the Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart. Courts have consistently struck down the bans for two reasons: their broad language prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy, and they lack exceptions to protect women's health.

Today's cases are Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, No. 05-1382 and Gonzales v. Carhart, No. 05-380.

NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada. NAF members care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United States and work at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals throughout the country, including premier teaching hospitals.

The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The NYCLU is the New York affiliate of the ACLU.

For more information, visit: www.aclu.org/reproductiverights and www.prochoice.org.

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Voters Reject Abortion Restrictions

Voters in California, Oregon and South Dakota rejected anti-choice ballot initiatives on Election Day.

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on the South Dakota abortion ban

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on Oregon's parental notification ballot initiative

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on California's parental notification initiative

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Monday, November 06, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda – Update 8

Staff members from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) are on the ground in South Dakota campaigning to repeal South Dakota’s abortion ban. Please read our blog this week to read our staff’s reports “from the field” about this closely watched ballot initiative and learn more about the “No on Six” campaign.

We had a rally in front of the federal court house to get voters and the Sioux Falls Community energized. Jan Nicolay, co-chair of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families , spoke out against the ban and invited others to do the same. Several community members came forward to express their opposition, including a young pregnant woman, a mother of four, a union leader, a high-school student, and a medical student at a local university. Even the arrival of anti-choice protesters couldn’t dampen the energy of the crowd, which filled the entire sidewalk in front of the courthouse. Afterward, we joined about 30 other volunteers with signs and marched up to the busiest Sioux Falls intersections to wave our signs and cheer against the abortion ban. Our supporters honked and cheered as they drove by in their cars during the busy lunch hour. After two hours outside in the chilly South Dakota wind, our fingers were numb but our spirits were high, and we returned to the office to continue our efforts to get out the vote with phone calls and mailings.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda – Update 7

We visited the Planned Parenthood clinic. There was one lone protester praying out in front, but in talking with the Planned Parenthood staff we learned that the protesters have been out in force almost every day.

We toured the facility and met the staff, including our NAF representative. She was thrilled to see us and gave each of us a big hug. It was rewarding to meet the individuals we work on behalf of in Washington, D.C.

The staff's commitment to continue to provide services to women under these difficult circumstances was a theme that resonated throughout each conversation we had. One staff member shared a story about a patient she saw earlier that drove five hours from Rapid City to seek care, and will now have to drive five hours back home. Despite all of the media attention and controversy surrounding this issue, the patient was resolved that the protesters and politicians would not intimidate her from exercising her right to make her own medical choices.

As we left the clinic, we drove by several different offensive posters the protester had brought with him. But the last thing we saw driving away was a huge banner that hangs on the outside of the clinic and reads, "These Doors Will Stay Open." With such a dedicated and fantastic staff, we are confident that will be the case.

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NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 6

While driving around the Sioux Falls area, we notice that many of the churches have at least one (and usually several) “Vote Yes for Life” yard signs. Their marquees also contain anti-choice messages, along with reminders to vote on November 7th. Many of these churches are also polling locations, where South Dakota citizens will go to vote on Election Day.

It is important to understand that many people of faith oppose the South Dakota ban and religious leaders are speaking out. Pastors for Moral Choices (link: http://www.pastorsformoralchoices.org/), an organization of religious leaders uniting together in South Dakota, has been formed by clergy that are against the comprehensive ban.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 5



Working side by side with local pro-choice volunteers in the campaign office, we hear stories about why repealing the abortion ban is so important and how taking a position on this issue has affected their lives. We talk with Joan, who is addressing envelopes containing voter guides to be sent to the final group of undecided voters. It just so happens that her sister is the former abortion provider-turned-spokeswoman for the "Vote Yes for Life" ads running regularly on television. She talks about how this issue has divided her family.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 4



On Sunday morning, the local Sioux Falls Paper, the Argus Leader, had a full front-page story with the most recent poll results for Referred Law Six. These results reflect the fact that 52% are in support of repealing the abortion ban, 42% are in favor of keeping the ban and 6% are undecided. There was a lot of excitement and energy when we arrived at the campaign office. However, the enthusiasm in the campaign office was tempered by a fear that complacency would set in among “No on Six” supporters. In order to defeat the ban, we need to get all of our voters to the polls, and most of Sunday was spent on the phone trying to recruit over 500 volunteers to help with the get-out-the-vote effort of election weekend up through Election Day.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 3




Last night watching TV, we had an opportunity to see the newest ad that the “No on Six” Campaign is airing to educate South Dakotans about the restrictive abortion ban. It was immediately followed by an ad paid for by the organization supporting the ban, “Vote Yes for Life,” in which a female doctor urges voters to support life. With competing information, how is a voter to decide?

For its part, “No on Six” has undertaken a massive effort to educate voters about the ban. Our first task at campaign headquarters was to put labels with polling locations for each precinct in Sioux Falls on doorknob hangers that contain information about the lack of exceptions in the abortion ban. These will be distributed throughout all of the neighborhoods in Sioux Falls. We then moved on to inscribing voter guides explaining the restrictive provisions in the ban, which will be mailed out to undecided voters. Our afternoon was spent on the phone, urging voters to come out for a “No on Six” rally, where citizens of Sioux Falls will speak out to explain why they are opposed to the ban.

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NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 2


With Halloween right around the corner in South Dakota, even jack-o-lanterns take on a political tone as volunteers show up to carve “No on Six” into pumpkins. This was first done at the campaign headquarters in Rapid City, and it attracted the attention of local media who came down to tape the event. Pumpkin carving proved to be a fun activity for the campaign organizers and volunteers in Sioux Falls who have been working long hours on the campaign without a break. When the masterpieces were completed, they were lined up so we could all take pictures of the blazing “No on Six” gourds. Then, for Lisa, Angie and Jen, along with other volunteers and campaign staff, it was back to the phones.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 1


Driving along the flat, dusty stretch of Highway 29 between our hotel and campaign headquarters, we are all struck by the sheer number of yard signs reflecting various issues South Dakotans will be deciding on in a few days. In past elections, it may have been easier to predict the outcome for certain ballot initiatives based on voter history.

However, on November 7, 2006, South Dakotans will vote on repealing the most restrictive abortion ban that outlaws abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with only a limited exception if necessary to save the life of the woman. In talking with one of the “No on Six” organizers at our campaign headquarters, it is clear that repealing the abortion ban is not an issue that will be decided along party lines. Volunteers from every political party and from both sides of the abortion issue have showed up to help spread the word about the importance of repealing the restrictive ban.

Democrats sit alongside Republicans and Independents stuffing voter guides to be mailed out. Self described pro-choice and anti-choice voters stop by to pick up “No on Six” yard signs for their lawns.

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Reports from the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban

Staff members from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) are on the ground in South Dakota campaigning to repeal South Dakota’s abortion ban. Please read our blog this week to read our staff’s reports “from the field” about this closely watched ballot initiative and learn more about the “No on Six” campaign.

Earlier this year, the South Dakota legislature voted to deny women safe and legal access to essential reproductive health care services. House Bill 1215, which was signed by Governor Rounds in March, would prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with only a limited exception if necessary to save the life of the woman. The people of South Dakota banded together in opposition to this broad abortion ban, creating the Campaign for Healthy Families gathering enough signatures put the measure to a vote by South Dakotans on November 7th.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Nicaragua Moves Forward With an Abortion Ban

The Nicaragua's National Assembly on Thursday voted to outlaw all abortions.

If signed into law by President Enrique Bolanos, the measure would eliminate the exception to Nicaragua's abortion ban that permits an abortion if three doctors certify that a woman's life or health is at risk.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Federal Abortion Ban at the Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on November 8, 2006, in Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood about the constitutionality of the federal abortion ban, passed by Congress and signed by the President in 2003. The sweeping ban prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy, abortions that doctors say are safe and among the best to protect women's health.

The law was immediately challenged in three lawsuits, including a lawsuit brought by NAF. Every court that has considered the ban has struck it down as unconstitutional. In 2000, the Supreme Court struck down a similar ban in Stenberg v. Carhart, and other courts around the country have struck down such laws finding that the bans prevent doctors from providing abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy and that the bans endanger women's health.

NAF opposes the federal abortion ban because it jeopardizes women's health and interferes with the ability of health care professionals to make appropriate medical decisions. Other medical organizations also oppose these bans.

>Read NAF's amicus briefs on Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF file, 175K) and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood (PDF file, 81K)

>Read more information about the cases

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Nicaragua Considers Complete Ban on Abortions

Currently, Nicaragua allows doctors the ability to provide abortions in situations where a woman’s life is endangered by continuing a pregnancy. But Nicaragua's Parliament is now considering revising the penal code to extend the ban on abortions to include cases where a woman's life is at risk. If this proposal becomes law, doctors that provide abortion care could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

South Dakota: Fight the Abortion Ban!

Earlier this year, the South Dakota legislature voted to deny women safe and legal access to essential reproductive health care services. House Bill 1215, which was signed by Governor Rounds in March, would prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with only a limited exception if necessary to save the life of the woman. The people of South Dakota banded together in opposition to this broad abortion ban, creating the Campaign for Healthy Families and gathering enough signatures to defer implementation of the ban pending a statewide referendum in November.

Learn more about the dangers of abortion bans and visit the Campaign for Healthy Families website to learn more about the referendum.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

ACLU, NYCLU, and National Abortion Federation Call on U.S. Supreme Court to Hold Women's Health Paramount in Federal Abortion Ban Challenge

Here is the press release we issued today with the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union:

    The American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) today submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court calling on the Court to continue to hold women's health paramount when it hears argument on November 8th in challenges to a federal ban on abortion. These groups urged the Court to affirm lower court decisions striking down the ban.

    "This law prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy that doctors say are safe and among the best to protect women's health," said Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO. "We hope that the Supreme Court will recognize the danger this ban poses to women's health and allow doctors to continue to make decisions based on their best medical judgment."

    The Court is set to review two challenges to the federal abortion ban - called the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act by its sponsors - during the 2006 Term: Gonzales v. Carhart, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Dr. LeRoy Carhart and three other physicians and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in July 2005, and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America on behalf of its affiliates throughout the country and decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in October 2005. Both circuit courts struck down the ban.

    A third challenge to the federal abortion ban, NAF v. Gonzales, was brought by NAF and seven individual physicians, represented by the ACLU, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, the ACLU of Illinois, and the New York Civil Liberties Union. In January 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed that the ban requires a health exception and asked for further legal briefing to determine how to remedy the violation. That case is now on hold as the other two cases go before the Supreme Court.

    "Decisions involving pregnancy and medical care should be left to a woman and her doctor," said Louise Melling, Director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "Such decisions should not be mandated by politicians."

    Medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose the federal ban.

    Congress passed the federal ban and President Bush signed it into law in 2003, despite the numerous court decisions striking down similar state bans, including a decision in 2000 by the Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart. Courts have consistently struck down the bans for two reasons: their broad language prohibits abortions as early as 13 weeks in pregnancy, and they lack exceptions to protect women's health.

    Today's brief in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the second friend-of-the-court brief filed by the ACLU and NAF. On August 11, 2006, both organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Gonzales v. Carhart.

    NAF is the professional association of abortion providers in the United States and Canada. NAF members care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United States and work at clinics, doctors' offices, and hospitals throughout the country, including premier teaching hospitals.

    The ACLU is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The NYCLU is the New York affiliate of the ACLU.

    For more information, visit: www.federalabortionban.org

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

South Dakota’s Abortion Ban Could Head to the Courts

South Dakota Attorney General said if voters approve an abortion ban it may be challenged in court and could be found to violate the U.S. Constitution.

Passed by the state legislature and signed into law earlier this year, the law prohibits all safe abortion procedures at all stages of pregnancy and contains only a limited exception for the life of the woman.

In June 2006, pro-choice activists gathered the required signatures to place an abortion ban repeal initiative on November’s ballot challenging the new abortion ban law before it takes effect.

> Read the Associated Press article

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Challenges to Roe

Challenges to Roe

In the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Drs. Alexi Wright and Ingrid Katz report on the lack of abortion access and the Federal Abortion Ban in the U.S.

The article notes:

    As new legislation is passed, the courts will hear more cases that challenge Roe, and physicians may increasingly risk their careers and their lives if they choose to provide abortions. With each new decision to limit abortion, more American women lose their access. Whether the Supreme Court ultimately upholds or overturns the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, one thing is certain: poor women in rural America are bearing the brunt of these decisions, and some may pay with their lives.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another Battle Over Abortion in South Dakota

Women’s eNews reports that Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first woman president of the Oglala Sioux Nation, is under attack for advocating for a women’s health clinic that would provide abortion care be built on the Pine Ridge Reservation, located in southwest South Dakota. Fire Thunder has since come under attack from abortion opponents, and the Oglala council has passed an abortion ban. Fire Thunder is now facing an impeachment hearing.

The article notes that, “Legal abortion, Fire Thunder said, is particularly important for Native American women, who lack access to birth control, who tend to live in poverty and who face epidemic sexual violence.”

Read the article on Fire Thunder from Women’s eNEWS.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Citizens of South Dakota Will Have a Choice in November

South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson certified this week that the required signatures had been gathered and the restrictive anti-abortion repeal initiative would appear on the ballot in November.

Citizens of South Dakota will have a chance to repeal the state’s extreme ban on abortion. The South Dakota ban outlaws abortion, making it a felony for a doctor to provide an abortion and makes no exception for rape, incest, or to protect the health of the woman.

In March 2006, NAF called the actions by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds in signing into law the abortion ban, "a direct attack on American women and their reproductive freedoms."

View NAF’s press release

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The New York Sun has a story on NAF’s new report on the deceptive tactics of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

A taskforce of U.S. Catholic Bishops have concluded that the decision to allow pro-choice politicians to receive communion will rest in the hands of local bishops.

The Internal Revenue Service is warning churches in South Dakota that they may lose their tax-exempt status if they campaign against the abortion ban, which may be on the ballot this November.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

NAF Releases Report on Crisis Pregnancy Centers

NAF released a comprehensive report today detailing the many ways Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) have deceived and intimidated women. The report, entitled Crisis Pregnancy Centers: An Affront to Choice, highlights numerous instances where CPCs have harassed and given false information to women who have come through their doors, leaving them feeling betrayed and misled. The report also discusses legal action taken against CPCs, their current sources of funding, and what concerned citizens can do to combat their harmful tactics.

You can read the full report here.

On Tuesday, an Ohio State House committee heard testimony on a bill that would ban abortion in all circumstances, including when a woman’s life is threatened. At a rally protesting the bill, a woman told her story of having an unsafe, illegal abortion in the days before Roe v. Wade.

The Kansas City Star reports on a trend in state legislatures to consider “trigger laws,” which would ban abortion in their states if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire is challenging a rule that would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense prescriptions on religious grounds, including emergency contraception and birth control.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Lousiana Legislature Sends Abortion Ban to Governor

The Louisiana legislature has sent a sweeping abortion ban to the governor for approval. Governor Katherine Blanco is expected to sign the ban into law.

Mifepristone is expected to be available in Australia next month.

The New York Times has an article analyzing the role of abortion in state elections.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

South Dakota Activists Turn in Petition Signatures

Tuesday, pro-choice activists in South Dakota turned in more than 37,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative to overturn South Dakota's ban on abortions.

The Toronto Star reports on the decision of Amnesty International's Canadian section to include reproductive health in its mission of advocating for human rights.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

New Developments in Pharmacist Refusals

A pharmacist in Seattle refused to fill a prescription for antibiotics because it was called in by Cedar River Clinic, a local abortion provider. Read Seattle Times columnist Nicole Broder’s take on this disturbing development in pharmacy refusals.

Kansas state attorney general Phill Kline has spent several years attempting to procure confidential patient records from two comprehensive reproductive health care clinics. A debate has started in the state over whether the court proceedings should be open to the public. Read the Kansas City Star article.

The South Dakota-based Argus Leader reports that pro-choice activists have gathered approximately 10,000 of the 17,000 petition signatures they need to place the abortion ban on the November ballot.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

We're Back from Vacation With Your News Update

Dr. Lester Crawford, who headed the FDA when the agency made its controversial decision to withhold a decision on making emergency contraception available over the counter, is facing a criminal inquiry about making false statements to Congress.

Emily Lyons, a nurse who was injured when anti-choice extremist Eric Rudolf bombed her facility, has still not received compensation for her injuries. Read the Washington Post story.

Gambia’s National Assembly Members ratified a woman’s rights protocol last Tuesday. Among other things, the protocol would allow women to have abortions in cases of rape and incest. Currently, Gambia’s strict abortion laws only have a limited life exception.

Anti-choice advocates in Minnesota are trying to stop public funding of abortion services. Read the Associated Press article.

The Louisiana abortion ban passed the state Senate last Wednesday. The bill would ban almost all abortions in the state, except in circumstances where a woman’s life is threatened.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Personal Choice

Emily White reflects on her decision to terminate a pregnancy as a college student in South Dakota. Read The Stranger article.

Christina Page chronicles how anti-choice restrictions on reproductive freedom have affected the United States. Page is the author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex. Read her article in The Guardian.

The Kentucky Courier Post-Journal published an editorial that urges readers to consider the situation in El Salvador, where abortion is completely illegal, before advocating for state abortion bans in the United States.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

La Times Profiles Pro-Choice Activists in South Dakota

The LA Times has an inspiring story about the success of activists who are gathering signatures to place South Dakota’s abortion ban on the ballot.

Yesterday the FDA declared a death previously reported after the use of mifepristone/misoprostol unrelated to abortion. Read the update.

Anti-choice advocates in South Dakota have set up a legal fund to defend the ban if it is taken to court. But there has been a local controversy over whether donors to the fund can remain anonymous. Read the story in the Aberdeen American News>.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

El Salvador: Where Abortion is Outlawed

What happens when abortion is illegal? The New York Times Magazine investigates that question in a report from El Salvador, a country where abortion is outlawed in every circumstance.

Anti-abortion protestors in Omaha, Nebraska, have started to protest providers and clinic workers at their homes. Read the article in the Sioux City Journal.

A sweeping abortion ban is expected to pass the Louisiana state legislature but even Louisiana lawmakers admit that the ban is unconstitutional.

Several anti-choice bills went unheard as the Oklahoma State legislative session expired on Thursday. Read the Associated Press story.

The Aberdeen American News reports on the controversy surrounding a link to an anti-choice organization on the South Dakota Health Department’s website.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Pro-Choice News From Home and Abroad

NAF was mentioned in a story about the increasingly extreme tactics of anti-choice advocates in the United Kingdom. Read the London Daily Telegraph article.

The New York Times has a story about pro-choice members of the clergy.

The Inter Press Service has a story on how outdated abortion laws force African women to resort to unsafe, illegal abortions.

NPR has an in-depth look at how the South Dakota legislature is responding to the national attention they have received after passing the abortion ban.

Cecelia Fire Thunder, the president of the South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe, wishes to open a comprehensive reproductive health care clinic on her reservation. Read the Baltimore Sun story.

The Kenya Obstetrical and Gynecological Society is campaigning to make medical abortion available in Kenya. Read the South African Mail and Guardian story.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

News Roundup

The Associated Press reports that the South Dakota abortion ban may not apply to the state’s Native American reservations.

The Houston Chronicle reports on how women in Texas are struggling with state cuts to reproductive health care services.

Connie Schultz, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, writes about how religious faith supports pro-choice values. Read the article.

The Toronto-based National Post published a column calling for a Canadian law restricting abortion.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mississippi Abortion Ban Fails

The Mississippi abortion ban died in session last night. Read the story in the Houston Chronicle.

The Associated Press reports that an anti-abortion group is challenging a Pittsburgh ordinance that protects clinics from harassing protestors.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Mobilizing The States

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on how the South Dakota abortion ban is mobilizing new activists in the states. Read the article.

The New York Times had an editorial on Saturday commending Senators Patty Murray and Hillary Clinton for blocking the nomination of a new FDA chief until the agency issues a decision on emergency contraception. Read more.

Newsday has a new review of Eyal Press’ memoir about his father, who is an abortion provider in Buffalo, New York. Press began researching the book in 1998 after his father’s colleague, Dr. Barnett Slepian, was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist. Read the review.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Pro-Choice Activists Fight Back

Pro-choice activists in South Dakota kicked off a campaign today to overturn the state’s abortion ban. Read the Reuters story.

NPR has a story about how bills expanding access to emergency contraception are faring in state legislatures. Listen to the report.

Anti-choice Alabama legislators have introduced two bills that would ban almost all abortions in the state. Fortunately, the Alabama legislative session is nearing a close and the bills are likely to die in committee. Read the local story.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Idaho, Africa, and Mississippi

The Idaho legislature is considering a bill that would require teens to have parental consent before obtaining an abortion. Read the local story.

Today is day three of a four day conference in Ethiopia about unsafe abortion in Africa. Read the news on allafrica.com.

The Mississippi legislature is considering an abortion ban bill. Read about it.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Anti-Choice Search Engine?

The FDA has issued a public health advisory about mifepristone. Read the advisory here.

Is amazon.com’s search engine anti-choice? Pro-choice activists complained after readers who searched the word abortion were asked, “Did you mean adoption?” Read the New York Times story.

Salon.com has an in-depth story about how anti-choice advocates want to ban contraception.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Victory in Indiana

An Indiana bill that would have defined life at conception failed in the legislature yesterday. The bill also would have required providers to give women biased counseling before they could have an abortion.

Mississippi is following South Dakota’s lead. The state legislature is poised to pass an abortion ban.

Retired Supreme Court Justice gave a speech last Thursday decrying conservative attacks on the federal judiciary. Listen to the NPR story.

Read Slate.com’s take on O’Connor’s speech.

Statistics Canada released their latest version of statistics about induced abortion in Canada. Read their press release.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Possible Consequences of the South Dakota Abortion Ban

NAF was part of a story in the Toronto Star about the South Dakota abortion ban.

The New York Times has an editorial commenting on the unconstitutionality of the South Dakota abortion ban.

Eyal Press has an op-ed in the New York Times that talks about low-income women’s lack of access to abortion services. Press’ father is an abortion provider in Buffalo, New York, and Press recently published his memoir, Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City and the Conflict That Divided America.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

South Dakota: Still Front Page News

Today NAF was part of an Associated Press story on the South Dakota abortion ban.

The Argus Leader reports that South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds is trying to distance himself from the abortion ban, which he signed into law yesterday.

According to this second Associated Press story, Governor Rounds also says that if the abortion ban is put on the ballot this fall, he will not take a position on it.

Read columnist Molly Ivin’s take on the South Dakota ban.

Reuters reports that many women in Mexico who become pregnant through sexual assault are denied abortions, even though it is legal for rape survivors to terminate an unintended pregnancy.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

News Roundup on the South Dakota Abortion Ban

Yesterday, the South Dakota governor signed into law a blatantly unconstitutional bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state. We expect this law to be challenged and then immediately enjoined. We issued a press release yesterday condemning the ban.

Read the Associated Press article.

Read the CNN article.

Here’s the local story from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

USA Today is reporting that the South Dakota ban is causing rifts among the anti-choice community.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Urban Planning, and Judicial Thank-You Notes

Mississippi: Following in South Dakota's Footsteps

Now that the South Dakota legislature has passed a widespread abortion ban, other states want to get in on the action. Not to be outdone, Mississippi is also about to pass a sweeping abortion ban that would outlaw most abortions in the state.

The Newest Assault on Choice: Urban Planning

CNN is reporting that Domino’s Pizza founder, Thomas S. Monaghan, wants to build a town in Florida that would run on what he sees as Roman Catholic principles. Not only would it be impossible to obtain an abortion in the town, called Ave Maria, but pharmacies would not be allowed to provide birth control pills or condoms. The ACLU is already looking into the legality of Monahan’s proposed urban-planning policies.

Alito Thanks Focus on the Family

Why did Justice Alito write a thank-you note to anti-choice organization Focus on the Family? James Dobson, the organization’s president, read part of Alito’s thank-you note on his radio broadcast. The Supreme Court Justice wrote that ''the prayers of so many people from around the country were a palpable and powerful force. As long as I serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me.” Both Alito and Dobson claim that the note is harmless but groups fighting for the separation of church and state disagree.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

South Dakota Boycott

Alternet, an online news site, has posted about a drive to boycott South Dakota in protest of its restrictive abortion ban. The Women's Medical Fund in Madison, Wisconsin started the boycott, which they call the “Bypass South Dakota” movement. Marcy Bloom, the director of Aradia Women’s Health in Seattle, wrote a moving and thoughtful post about the boycott and South Dakota’s fierce hostility to reproductive freedom.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Good News to Start the Weekend: Virginia Kills TRAP Bill

Here’s some good news from Virginia to start your weekend:

The Virginia Legislature killed a Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill in committee yesterday. The bill would have required abortion providers to follow a series of politically motivated regulations that could have forced some of the state’s clinics to close.

But Senators on the Senate Education and Health Committee recognized the harmful effects of this unnecessary legislation and voted it down 9-6.

As you know, Virginia wasn’t the only state that considered anti-choice legislation this week; South Dakota and Indiana legislatures also took up anti-choice bills. To find out how NAF took action around these pieces of legislation and to sign up on our Action Alert list, visit our Action For Choice Center.

If you want to find out more about abortion-related legislation in the states you can download our most recent report, Reproductive Choice in the States 2005. The report details some of the most common anti-choice and pro-choice legislation that moved through state legislatures in 2005 including biased counseling bills, abortion bans, and TRAP legislation.

Have an excellent weekend and don’t forget to check back on Monday for the latest pro-choice news.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

South Dakota Passes Abortion Ban

Yesterday, the South Dakota legislature passed the bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state. This is an extremely sad day for South Dakota women, whose legislators passed the ban without any consideration for their lives and health. The New York Times has a story examining the implications of this development.

We also put out a press release yesterday criticizing the legislature for playing politics with women’s lives.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

South Dakota and Roe

South Dakota lawmakers will soon vote on a bill that could outlaw almost all abortions in the state. The bill contains an extremely narrow exception for the life of the woman, but women who were impregnated through rape or incest would be forced to carry their pregnancies to term. If the bill passes, South Dakota would hold the impressive honor of having the strictest abortion law in the country.

The ban also seeks to challenge Roe v. Wade directly. If it passes, it will likely be challenged in court, as it disregards precedents set in Roe. Today’s New York Times examines how the bill seeks to eventually overturn Roe and send control over abortion laws back to the states.

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Speculating on the New Supreme Court and Abortion

Today, the New York Times has an in-depth article examining the changes on the Supreme Court and how they could affect the Court’s ruling on the Federal Abortion Ban (FAB). Next term the Court will rule on a case filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the constitutionality of the ban. There are two other cases challenging the FAB, including our case, NAF v. Gonzales, which is still in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Also, I forgot to mention that yesterday was Samuel Alito’s first official day on the job. The Times has an editorial welcoming him to the court.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Supreme Court will Consider Federal Abortion Ban

The Associated Press is reporting that the Supreme Court will examine the constitutionality of the Federal Abortion Ban. The court will consider the ban’s lack of protections for women’s health as well as its broad language. The ban has already been struck down in the three circuit courts to hear the case.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Alito Starts on Monday

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was confirmed two weeks ago, but next week he begins his new job. Today’s Associated Press has an article examining Alito’s transition from nominee to associate justice.

One of the cases which may come before the Court is our case challenging the Federal Abortion Ban. Congress passed this dangerous piece of legislation in 2003. The law could have banned abortions as early as 13 weeks. After President Bush signed the bill in 2003, we immediately filed a case challenging the constitutionality of the law. Find more about our lawsuit NAF v. Gonzales.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mifepristone in Australia and TRAP in Indiana

Australia moved one step closer to approving mifepristone today, as the Australian parliament, after a long and emotional debate, voted to remove the Australian Health Minister's power to veto the drug. Mifepristone may be available for use in Australia in the coming months.


The Indiana based Lafayette Journal and Courier denounced the state's proposed TRAP legislation, which they call a "back-door ban on abortions." Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bills are one of the most common ways that states try to decrease access to abortion. These bills single out clinics and force them to submit to politically motivated, unnecessary regulations that sometimes can force a clinic to close.

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