Wednesday June 26, 2019

Dozens of US Abortion Rights Protester Rally across Nationwide

The demonstrations targeted a recent array of anti-abortion laws being adopted by conservative state legislatures

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abortion rights
A group gathers to protest abortion restrictions at the State Capitol in Austin, Texas, May 21, 2019. VOA

Dozens of protests supporting abortion rights unfolded across the United States on Tuesday, including one held outside the Supreme Court in Washington.

The demonstrations targeted a recent array of anti-abortion laws being adopted by conservative state legislatures that have voiced the hope that the ensuing legal battles over the strict abortion curbs will eventually push the court to overturn its landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the country.

abortion rights
Gracie Burke, 19, center, a student at American University, joins other in a protest against abortion bans, May 21, 2019, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. VOA

The laws have imposed various restrictions, often limiting abortions to the first few weeks of a woman’s pregnancy and sometimes before a woman would know she was pregnant.

The StopTheBans protests were sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and other abortion rights groups.

abortion rights
Supporters of abortion rights rally against recently passed restrictions on abortions in the Statehouse rotunda, May 21, 2019, at the Nebraska Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska. VOA

“Across the country,” the groups said, “we are seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion, stripping away reproductive freedom and representing an all-out assault on abortion access.”

They described the new laws adopted or headed toward enactment in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri and elsewhere as President Donald Trump’s “anti-choice movement … and it’s terrifying, particularly for women of color and low-income women who are most affected by these bans.”

abortion rights
Protesters for women’s rights march to the Alabama Capitol to protest a law passed last week making abortion a felony in nearly all cases with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, May 19, 2019, in Montgomery, Ala. VOA

In the southern state of Alabama, virtually all abortions were banned, an action that Trump, and some other Republicans who otherwise support most abortion restrictions, have said went too far. Trump two decades ago described himself as “very pro-choice” in support of abortion rights, but last weekend said he approves ending pregnancies only if they occurred because of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is endangered.

abortion rights
As security guards the steps of the Supreme Court, Kristin Mink of Silver Spring, Md., holds her three-week-old daughter by a sign she brought that says, “I exist because my Mom had an abortion,” as Mink joined a protest against abortion bans, May 21, 2019. VOA

At the Supreme Court, several hundred abortion-rights supporters staged a protest against the new laws, most of which have yet to take affect and are being challenged in court suits as not complying with the high court’s 1973 decision.

Several Democratic presidential contenders looking to be the party’s nominee against Trump in the November 2020 election joined the protesters.

abortion rights
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., speaks during a protest against abortion bans, May 21, 2019, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. VOA

“We are not going to allow them to move our country backward,” Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar told the crowd through a megaphone.

Conservatives pushing for the abortion restrictions have been emboldened by Trump’s appointment of two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who they believe will join three other conservatives on the court to make a 5-4 majority to overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision. The 1973 Roe decision upheld the right to an abortion.

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It could be months before a new abortion rights case reaches the Supreme Court, but it is possible a new ruling could land in the midst of next year’s presidential election campaign. (VOA)

Next Story

Madras HC: Rape Victims Should Not be Unnecessarily Compelled to “Knock Doors of Court” for Abortion

"The victim girl should not be unnecessarily forced to move court for abortion"

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rape victims, abortion
The victim then moved the high court, which directed her to get admitted to a government hospital to get medically assessed for abortion. Pixabay

The Madras High Court has said that rape victims should not be unnecessarily compelled to “knock doors of the court” to terminate their unwanted pregnancy.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh, in his order delivered June 19, ruled that if a victim suffers an unwanted pregnancy and its duration has not exceed 20 weeks, then the “victim need not be referred to the medical board and the termination of pregnancy can be done as per the provisions of Section 3 of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971.

“The victim girl should not be unnecessarily made to knock the doors of this court.” If the pregnancy has not breached the 20 weeks mark, then the length of the pregnancy is irrelevant, and instead the life of the pregnant woman shall be prioritized, the court said.

abortion, rape victims
Madras high court. Wikimedia Commons

For isolated cases, where the length of pregnancy has exceeded 20 weeks, the medical practitioner shall take immediate steps in accordance with the MTP Act to save the pregnant woman’s life, it said. The victim, in this case, was blackmailed into having sexual intercourse and had got pregnant. Eight weeks into the pregnancy, after being denied any relief from government hospital, she moved the court.

The police informed the court that victim had requested assistance in terminating the pregnancy during the registration of the rape case. However, police apparently refused to help her, and then she pooled her resources to get admission in a private hospital, but was discharged without undergoing abortion.

The victim then moved the high court, which directed her to get admitted to a government hospital to get medically assessed for abortion. The victim had, on June 8, consulted a doctor at the government-run Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children and General Hospital here. The doctor found her eight weeks pregnant but instead of terminating the pregnancy, referred her to another government hospital.

abortion, rape victims
“The victim girl should not be unnecessarily made to knock the doors of this court.” VOA

On June 12, the high court gave strict instructions to admit her at a government hospital and carry out the necessary medical procedure. On June 17, the doctors aborted the pregnancy. On June 19, the matter came up for further hearing before the court, which remarked that the hospitals wrongly interpreted the provisions of the MTP Act, and made the victim run from pillar to post.

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Lashing at the government and doctors, the court said: “In cases of this nature, the doctors and the courts need to be more sensitive and should act fast since the victim girl is carrying a foetus, which keeps reminding her of the agony faced by her due to rape and every moment she suffers mental agony and depression due to the unwanted pregnancy that has been forced against her.”

As the victim’s counsel requested the court to issue guidelines to ease the abortion process for rape victims, the court said that medical boards have already been constituted across the country to address request of similar nature. (IANS)