Welcome to the Reproductive Justice Action Team

Welcome to our Reproductive Justice Blog space. This is the place to learn more about this important topic and actions we can all take in the continuing battle to promote access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion for all women.


Trump Administration's New Rules regarding Sexual Assault on Campuses

There's more bad news from the Trump Administration regarding sexual assault on campuses.  The U.S. Department of Education announced new rules for universities across the United States. The new rules give more rights to those accused of sexual assault on campus. The definition of sexual assault has been limited, so that the assault must be "severe and pervasive". The rule is being implemented under Title IX, which bars discrimination in federally-funded universities. The rule is clearly a step forward in our country's "don"t believe her" campaign. The regulations also come at a bizarre and inconvenient time, imposing a complex regulation as universities are reeling from Coronavirus shutdowns and measures. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, claims that "civil rights can't wait". Our question: whose civil rights does she want to protect?


Supreme Court Argues Birth Control Access

This Wednesday, May 6,  the Supreme Court will be hearing a case concerning access to birth control and the Affordable Care Act.


Wednesday, May 6: Birth control access

10 a.m. ET: Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania consolidated with Trump v. Pennsylvania
The court considers a Trump administration rule that would allow employers with religious or moral objections to birth control to limit their employees' access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

You can listen to the arguments on NPR

 


State Officials in Texas Attempt to Ban Abortions during COVID-19 Crisis

Reversing course, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday said access to pill-induced abortions can be restricted while the state fights the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision is the latest in a fast-moving court case that has ricocheted between the politically conservative appeals court and a federal district judge in Austin — and at times amounted to a near-total ban on abortions in Texas. In previous rulings, the New Orleans-based appeals court has allowed pill-induced abortions to proceed, as well as abortions for women nearing the legal limit to have one in Texas, which is 22 weeks after the last menstrual period.

Medication-induced abortions can be performed in Texas through the 10th week of pregnancy. It was not immediately clear how the court’s ruling will apply after Tuesday, when a strict bar on nonessential surgeries in Texas will be relaxed.

To learn more, read this article in The Texas Tribune.


Republicans Are Manipulating the Coronavirus to deny Women Reproductive Rights Access

While legislators, humanitarian workers, and economists across the world have been working tirelessly for the past months to minimize the impact of the Coronavirus on both human life and the economy, Republicans have taken the opportunity to once again further their anti-reproductive rights agenda. 

It began in mid-March when legislators debated and fought for a coronavirus relief package which included: free virus testing and paid sick leave. However, the Republicans could not leave well enough alone. Republicans believe that a stipulation in the House bill that required the government to reimburse private laboratories doing coronavirus testing could overturn the Hyde Amendment.  

In order to ensure that did not happen, anti-choice legislators empathetically argued for the inclusion of language in the bill which would reconfirm the principles of the Hyde Amendment. After numerous debates and go rounds, Congress finally approved a historic stimulus package for Americans to help negate the negative economic consequences of the Coronavirus. 

Unfortunately, the fight against women’s reproductive access in the midst of the pandemic was far from over.

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Testing the Limits: June Medical vs. Gee

The Reproductive Justice Action Team is closely watching for the upcoming decision of the US Supreme Court in the case of June Medical Services v Gee. This case will test the limits of the Louisiana State law that requires hospital admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions. It will also decide whether abortion clinics have standing to sue to maintain their existence. 

As many will recall, in the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court case of Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, a similar law was held unconstitutional. This case overturned a Texas State law, which was similar to the Louisiana State law contested in June Medical Services v Gee.

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1st Abortion Case since Trump Added Justices to Bench

The fate of abortion access in the United States will remain in question until the court’s decision is released, which will likely be around June.

Chief justice John Roberts will likely have a lot to think about as he is seen as the critical vote in the decision. Roberts line of questioning suggested he questions the differences between the case and the one the court decided in 2016 that struck down a similar law in Texas. Though Roberts was in the minority group of justices in that vote, he has become the key swing vote with the retirement of moderate justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018.

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We Will Be Bold - Roe v Wade discussion

Reproductive Rights:  Attorney Salli Swartz Explains How We got Here

The Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus (GWC) has over 5000 members worldwide. As part of its initiatives and support of women’s issues, it has established several action teams one of which is the Reproductive Justice Action Team.

Salli Swartz (former Co-Chair of GWC, current member of the GWC Steering Committee, as well as the former Vice Chair and counsel of Democrats Abroad, France), is a well-known feminist attorney who has practiced International business law in Paris for over 40 years.

While in Paris on February 18, Salli reviewed the history of Roe vs. Wade and other Supreme Court decisions that have chipped away at a women’s right to choose. She underlined the work of conservative judges and how they managed, slowly but surely, to take privacy rights away from women.

Per Salli, the legal situation today, combined with restrictive state laws is dire.  Salli notably described a bill awaiting passage in Ohio that would criminalize abortion (“abortion murder”) and be punishable by long-term imprisonment.

The sober implications of these restrictions, the new conservative Supreme Court, current anti-abortion state laws and the appointment of anti-choice federal judges has throw more light on the importance for women of the 2020 elections.

Click here to watch her presentation. Please note, the audio recording improves after the first 7 minutes. Please continue watching. Salli's message is incredibly important. 

 


New Name, Same Great Team

The Reproductive Rights Action Team has changed its name to Reproductive Justice Action Team, which is defined as "the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities," (SisterSong Women of Color reproductive collective). It thus encompasses a larger agenda including all health issues surrounding reproductive rights and in particular rights of minority women.

Democrats Abroad upholds the core belief in the Democratic Party that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured.

The key actions that will promote reproductive health, rights and justice according to the Democratic Party Platform[1] are:

  • Oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits the use of federal funding for abortion).
  • Protect Planned Parenthood from funding cuts.
  • Condemn and combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. 
  • Defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.
  • Address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors.
  • Strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including adoption and social support services, as well as protections for women against pregnancy discrimination.
  • Create a society where children are safe and can thrive physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. 
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