Blog of Rights


Defending Prisoners' Access to Abortion

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 2:04pm
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard argument today in Roe v. Crawford, a case dealing with the right of prisoners in Missouri to access timely, safe, and legal abortion care. The ACLU argued the class-action lawsuit on behalf of all pregnant prisoners in the state's custody. The U. S. Supreme Court has laid out two basic principles for determining whether a restriction on prisoner's constitutional right is permissible, namely: 1. Prison regulations that curtail constitutional rights are valid only if they are "reasonably related to penological interests." (Turner v. Safely (1987)). 2. Correctional facilities must meet the serious medical needs of inmates by ensuring access to proper care. (Estelle v. Gamble (1976)). Accordingly, a woman's reproductive rights are violated if a prison or jail: -- Prevents her from having an abortion; -- Pushes her to have an abortion she does not want; -- Forces her to get a court order before she can obtain an abortion or otherwise delay access to abortion care; -- Insists she pay for an abortion with her own money regardless of her ability to pay; or -- Requires her to pay for the costs of transporting her to a clinic or hospital to obtain an abortion if she cannot afford to do so. Yet throughout the year, the ACLU receives phone calls from women in jails or prisons looking for help in obtaining an abortion or from their advocates looking for guidance in handling these cases. Keep in mind that correctional facilities typically provide pregnant inmates with obstetrical care throughout pregnancy and delivery, transporting pregnant prisoners off-site for such care without a court order. Moreover, facilities regularly transport inmates off-site without a court order for other medical and dental treatments that they do not provide on-site. For more information on rights concerning pregnancy-related care in prisons read Know Your Rights: Pregnancy-Related Health Care in Prison or Jail.

New York Rejects Federal Abstinence-Only Dollars!

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:26pm
Yesterday, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report examining federal funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the state. Financing Ignorance: A Report on Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding in New York investigates 39 abstinence-only-until-marriage…

News Round Up: Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Missouri

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 2:36pm
Over the last week, school districts all over the country have grappled with the issue of sex ed. In El Dorado, Kansas, the school board will vote tonight on whether or not to adopt the abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum Choosing the Best. Reviews…

Editorial Support for Comprehensive Sex Ed and a look at the film Sex Ed and the State

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 11:16am
Over the last several weeks op-eds and editorials supporting comprehensive sex ed have appeared in papers across the country. This is not at all surprising given that the end of summer marks the beginning of a new school year. An editorial in the Athens…

Fantastic win in Brevard County, Florida!

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 10:39am
Last month I blogged about (last paragraph) a controversy in Brevard County, Florida, over the school district's sex ed curriculum. The local school board was divided over what exactly students should learn when it comes to contraceptives. According to…

News Round Up: Congress Rolls Over, Florida, Maryland and South Carolina

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 3:22pm
A lot has happened in the abstinence-only world as of late. Earlier this month, Congress reauthorized funding for abstinence-only programs at least until September 30, 2007. James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth had this to say about the extension: In…

Former Surgeon General Silenced on Abstinence-Only

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:42pm
On Tuesday, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified at a Congressional hearing that the Bush Administration repeatedly silenced his views on a host of issues including abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Both the Associated Pressand Washington…

News Round Up: Minnesota, New York and Oklahoma

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 1:37pm
Across the country, papers are featuring editorials and op-eds on the issue of abstinence-only programs. One editorial from the Tulsa World in Oklahoma noted some very frightening beliefs about birth control among local teens: If boys drink a lot of Mountain…

Gluttons, Failures and More

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:02pm
There have been several interesting articles on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs as of late. The Nation has a piece called "The Abstinence Gluttons" which traces the cronyism of the Bush Administration's abstinence-only-until-marriage industry.…

Halt Funding Increase for Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 5:28pm
A Democratic Congress is poised to give a failed policy -- abstinence-only-until-marriage programs -- its second-largest funding increase. The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted this week to increase funding for the Community…
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