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Why Courts Matter: Reproductive Rights

Why Courts Matter: Reproductive Rights

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When it comes to issues of women’s rights and health, the federal judiciary will continue to play an instrumental role, and we must actively engage in shaping its composition.
When it comes to issues of women’s rights and health, the federal judiciary will continue to play an instrumental role, and we must actively engage in shaping its composition.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Center for American Progress on Oct 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1Center or American Progress | Why Courts Matter: Reproductive Rights
Why Courts Matter
Reproductive Rights
April Carson and Liz Chen October 5, 2012
 As advocaes, our batles are no limied o he legislaive process. Tey also exis in he cours.For years, conservaives have pu a srong emphasis on who dons he robes on he ederal bench,undersanding ha a lieime appoinmen can have jus as imporan an impac as legislaion, i no more so. Bu progressives have no made he cours as much o a prioriy. While conservaives have been sacking he deck agains women, appoining judges who willchoose ideology over he law, we progressives have ocused largely on legislaive eors, which arenow in danger o being overurned by he same increasingly conservaive judiciary. I is inegral ohe overall success o a progressive agenda ha he presiden appoin and he Senae conrm menand women who will respec he law and proec womens undamenal reproducive righs. And iis our responsibiliy as advocaes o hold our eleced ocials o ha sandard.Below is a discussion o he ederal judiciary’s role in several signican batles over women’s healh andrighs being waged righ now in jurisdicions wih openings on he ederal bench.
Family planning cases
ile X provides ederal unds o saes o adminiser amily planning services. Bu some saes haveargeed Planned Parenhood and any oher providers ha oer aborion services, even hough hey provide hose aborion services wih nongovernmen unds. By excluding hese providers, saes cuo heir low-income ciizens rom vial healh services, including conracepion, cancer screenings,and reamen or sexually ransmited inecions. wo cases wih opposie oucomes are insrucivein he role he ederal cours have in deermining wheher hese resricions can sand.
North Carolina
In 2011 he Norh Carolina Sae Legislaure passed a law argeing Planned Parenhood. Te law prohibied he Norh Carolina Deparmen o Healh and Human Services rom allocaing any o is unds, including ile X unds, o Planned Parenhood and is aliaes.
2Center or American Progress | Why Courts Matter: Reproductive Rights
 Judge James A. Beay, Jr., appoined by Presiden Bill Clinon o he Middle Disric o NorhCarolina, sruck down he law.
As a resul, Planned Parenhood in Norh Carolina coninues oreceive public unds or amily planning services.
Norh Carolina currenly has one vacancy a he Disric Cour level.
 A similar sory had a dieren ending in exas, where he ederal circui cour is overwhelmingly dominaed by conservaives. In 2011 he exas Legislaure reauhorized he exas Women’s HealhProgram, prohibiing “organizaions ha conrac or aliae wih eniies ha perorm or promoeelecive aborions” rom receiving ile X unding. Because some local Planned Parenhood ali-aes oer aborion care and because all have a relaionship wih he naional Planned Parenhood,exas Gov. Rick Perry and oher Republican legislaors have said hey would raher orgo he $35million in ile X ederal unding han permi Planned Parenhood o receive any money. PlannedParenhood has been he Women’s Healh Program’s larges provider in exas, serving abou 40percen o paiens.
 Judge Lee Yeakel, o he Wesern Disric o exas, suspended enorcemen o he law, allowingPlanned Parenhood o receive unding.
Bu he Fih Circui reversed ha ruling and allowedhe resricions o remain in place.
Since he law wen ino eec, more han 60 amily planning clinics have been orced o close.
Tere are wo vacancies on he Fih Circui and our Disric Cour vacancies in exas
ha could be lled wih judges who will ollow he law insead o ideology. exans or a Fair Judiciary, in par-nership wih Legal Progress, is working o promoe and suppor progressive judicial nominees.
Biased counseling cases
weny years ago he Supreme Cour esablished ha saes could resric aborion, as long ashose consrains did no pose an “undue burden” upon women.
As a resul, sae legislaures haveconsisenly made i harder o obain an aborion by requiring measures such as waiing periodsha involve muliple clinic visis, counseling ha includes decepive inormaion, and ulrasounds wihou regard o medical necessiy.
Because “undue burden” is a bes a nebulous sandard, imaters who is on he bench dening he pracical parameers o an undue burden.
South Dakota
For he pas seven years, Souh Dakoa has ried o enorce a law ha, among oher hings, requiresphysicians o provide alse and misleading inormaion
abou he risks o suicide and suicidalideaion o women considering aborion.
3Center or American Progress | Why Courts Matter: Reproductive Rights
 Judge Karen Schreier, a Clinon appoinee, iniially sruck down he law.
Te ull Eighh Circui Cour o Appeals, packed wih conservaives (only 2 o he 11 memberso he cour were appoined by a Democraic presiden),
ound he law o be consiuional. Tecour ben o ideology insead o ollowing preceden, which saes ha only “ruhul and non-mis-leading”
inormaion can be required as par o inormed consen. Te daa on suicide and suicidalideaion refecs he exac opposie o wha he cour permited Souh Dakoa o use o jusiy is law.
In early 2013, here will be a vacancy on he Eighh Circui.
By requiring women o endure unwaned invasive ulrasounds regardless o medical need prior oreceiving an aborion, he exas legislaure has ignored womens consiuional righs.
Te Fih Circui Cour o Appeals, hrough a hree-judge panel (all Reagan appoinees), upheldhe law,
orcing physicians o perorm invasive procedures wihou regard or medical need orhe paien’s consen.
Tere are currenly wo vacancies on he Fih Circui Cour o Appeals.
Contraceptive coverage cases
Te Aordable Care Ac guaranees ha employers cover women’s prevenive services, includingconracepives, wih no cos sharing by employees. While houses o worship are exemped rom herule and religiously aliaed nonpros are allowed o seek an accommodaion and have he insur-ance company provide he coverage direcly o employees, a number o objecors have neverhelesschallenged he regulaion, claiming ha he required coverage inringes on heir religious libery.
Hercules Indusries is a or-pro, secular corporaion in Colorado ha manuacures and disrib-ues heaing, venilaion, and air condiioning producs and equipmen. One day beore ling a law-sui in he Disric Cour o Colorado challenging he conracepion requiremen, he owners addedwo provisions o he aricles o incorporaion: (1) ha he primary purpose o he corporaion waso ollow “appropriae religious, ehical or moral sandards,” and (2) ha is board o direcors wasallowed o prioriize “religious, ehical or moral sandards” a he expense o proabiliy.
 Judge John Kane emporarily suspended enorcemen o he law on he basis ha Hercules willlikely be successul in enjoining he law permanenly.
A nal decision in he plainis avor couldse a sweeping preceden allowing privae employers o claim proecion under he ReligiousFreedom Resoraion Ac, enabling hem o use religion as a basis or discriminaing againsemale employees.

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