Women's Best Hope for Reproductive Justice




      For some time I've raised up the work of the federal courts as they work to stem the excesses of radically misogynist state legislatures when those bodies unconstitutionally restrict women's health services, particularly those for poor women. Most recently a federal judge in Arizona, Neil Wake, denied that state's bid to ban Planned Parenthood from contracting with Medicaid. Judge Wake's order to the state says, in part that


"A state may not restrict a beneficiary's right to select any qualified provider for reasons wholly unrelated to the provider's ability to deliver Medicaid services.

That is, state legislatures may not prevent women from using a medical resource simply because a legislature may object to that health resource's being a provider of a legal service (in this case, abortion) to which it objects. The sole reason the state could void its Medicare contracts with Planned Parenthood would be if Planned Parenthood could not deliver to clients what it says it could. That is, a state may break provider contracts for patterns of neglected and/or poor service but it may not do that in the service of ideological ends and certainly not when those ideological ends would, if served, subvert settled federal law (in this case, Roe v. Wade).

     Last May, the Arizona legislature voted to block (federal) Medicaid family planning money from going to any agency that provided abortion services. That stopped thousands of poorer Arizona women from using Planned Parenthood for any health-related reason. (Similar state laws elsewhere, most recently in Indiana, have been stopped by the federal courts.) Now, poor women and girls in Arizona may once again choose to use Planned Parenthood's array of health services.

     As these radical legislatures remain relentless, please know that the best we have for thoroughgoing justice for women and girls is, just now, the federal bench. Keep an eye open for these cases. Share what you learn widely.

Views: 98

Comment by koshersalaami on February 12, 2013 at 6:14am

So it really matters where Federal judges come from

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on February 12, 2013 at 6:19am

It is, for me, the single most important reason I voted for the president again.

Comment by JMac1949 Memories on February 12, 2013 at 6:34am

Grandstanding pols in state legislatures with ambitions for congress pass all manner of crap that gets shot down in federal court... as do loony tune wingnut minorities and major corporations when they put bogus initiatives on the ballot...  fortunately the angels of our better nature are embedded in the language of our Constitution and whether they're sympathetic or not, most federal judges are forced by their conscience and training to recognize that kind of bad law.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on February 12, 2013 at 6:39am

jmac  that's right and it's a reason that, for instance, some very conservative federal judges ruled in favor of the health care law well before the SCrt took it up.

Comment by Phyllis on February 12, 2013 at 7:11am

The judge had put a stay on the law while the case was pending so no one was deprived of services while this was being deliberated. But don't worry, Arizona will come up with something else. Four states only have one clinic per state that provides abortions, and I think it may be three now because Mississippi passed a law saying the doctors needed admitting privileges at a hospital and none of the hospitals would give them the privilege. These squabbles with Planned Parenthood are diverting attention from what's going on elsewhere.

Comment by Jeanne Sathre on February 12, 2013 at 7:20am

This sounds good. I was afraid you were going to say our best hope was a new pope--which didn't seem like much hope to me.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on February 12, 2013 at 7:30am

Phyllis  it's all of a piece, all critically important.

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on February 12, 2013 at 7:31am

jls    gee    that was not what first came to mind when I thought of justice for women!  :)

Comment by Rosigami on February 12, 2013 at 9:13am

It's so frustrating and demoralizing to know that those who seek to oppress poor women (and by extension, their children) are operating from the sorely misguided idea that they are doing The Right Thing.  Sometimes the fight feels like shoveling sand against the tide, though of course it is worth every shovel-full. 

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on February 12, 2013 at 9:31am

roger  yes; it is :)


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