On this day, 21 October 1970 the first women's liberation demonstration took place in Japan in Tokyo, kickstarting the feminist movement in the country.
The women were demanding legalisation of the contraceptive pill and opposing any prohibition of abortion. After the failure of the mass movement against the Japan-US security treaty, female student activists finally felt able to express their demands as women, which they had kept quiet so as not to be seen to "undermine" the struggle against the treaty.
Sexual liberation and free love also exploded following the failure of the student movement, and without contraceptives, millions of women were having to have abortions.
The pill was only eventually legalised in 1999.
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Abortion rights captured the nation’s attention earlier this year when seven states passed early abortion bans. With the changes in the Supreme Court, and President Trump’s promise to appoint justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the concern about whether these new abortion bans would be upheld by the Supreme Court understandably reached a fever pitch.But banning abortion outright isn’t the only way to eliminate abortion access in a state. For decades, anti-abortion politicians have been quietly trying to push abortion out of reach by passing abortion restriction on top of restriction. The new Supreme Court term started this week, and several challenges to such restrictions are pending in the Supreme Court. The Court could thus issue a ruling that would affect the future of abortion access this year without ever taking up a case involving an outright abortion ban.Many of the abortion restrictions passed in recent years are called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws. They serve no medical purpose, and are passed with the sole intention of making it difficult — if not impossible — for people to access abortion. A TRAP case from Louisiana, brought by our colleagues at the Center for Reproductive Rights, is one of the cases that SCOTUS could take up this term.The TRAP law in question in the Louisiana case requires doctors who work at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. If it stands, it would shutter all the clinics in the state except for one.A district court struck down the law after finding that it would serve no medical purpose and would decimate abortion access in the case. The state appealed, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law. While it agreed that the law had limited-to-no medical utility, the court inaccurately found that the law wouldn’t cause clinics to close.If you are experiencing déjà vu, you are not alone. In 2016, the Supreme Court heard Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and found that a nearly identical law in Texas, which also required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, served no medical purpose and would unnecessarily force clinics to close. The Court ruled that the law was therefore unconstitutional. The Whole Woman’s Health decision should have controlled the outcome in the Louisiana case too, but the Fifth Circuit failed to follow it.Louisiana is not alone in trying to use TRAP laws to effectively ban abortion. In Kentucky, we represent the last abortion clinic in the state, EMW Women’s Surgical Center, in several lawsuits, including a challenge to a TRAP law that requires abortion facilities to have a written transfer agreement with a local hospital. EMW had a transfer agreement with a local hospital for years, but Governor Bevin’s administration rejected it because it was signed by the head of the OB/GYN department rather than the hospital’s CEO. To prevent the state from shutting EMW down and eliminating abortion access in Kentucky, we went to court. The law was struck down after trial, but the state’s appeal is now pending in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.In Ohio, a TRAP law is also being used to quietly and gradually close abortion clinics. The law creates a complicated obstacle course for clinics: it says surgical facilities must have a written transfer agreement with a hospital, but the state department of health can waive that requirement if the clinic has one or more backup doctors with hospital admitting privileges. The health department previously said that two backup doctors are insufficient for a waiver, and have arbitrarily demanded three instead. Now – for no medical reason – they are requiring four back-up doctors. In states where doctors are subject to harassment for simply being associated with abortion access, finding that many back-up doctors can be next to impossible.In Missouri, the state’s last clinic is facing a similar fight. Earlier this year, the health department threatened to shut down that clinic, which is a Planned Parenthood affiliate, over disputes about its license. Planned Parenthood’s lawyers ran to court, and were able to get a court order prohibiting the state from closing the clinic—for now.These states have followed up their restrictive TRAP laws with legislation that effectively bans abortion (although none are currently in effect). The agenda of these anti-abortion politicians is clear: TRAP laws have nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with hostility to abortion. They are part of a strategy to do anything that eliminates abortion access. As the Supreme Court starts its new session this week, all eyes should be on the Louisiana case. If the Court allows the Louisiana law to take effect, it will not only be devastating for people in Louisiana, it could also pave the way for courts to uphold other TRAP laws and abortion restrictions that will push abortion out of reach even more so than it already is. TRAP laws hide their true intention under complex regulatory requirements that obscure what they are meant to accomplish, which is an end to abortion access. We must remain vigilant against all attempts to ban abortion, including both explicit as well as more subtle attempts.
I’m a doctor at the only abortion clinic in Kentucky. Providing safe, compassionate medical care has been my life’s calling, and my patients’ well-being is always my first priority. But Kentucky politicians — determined as usual to interfere with access to reproductive healthcare — are trying to force me to harm and humiliate the patients who entrust me with their welfare. That’s why I’m joining with the ACLU today to ask the Supreme Court to keep Kentucky lawmakers’ insulting, anti-abortion political agenda out of the exam room. H.B. 2, the law we’re asking the Supreme Court to review, is cruel and offensive. It mandates that I display an ultrasound to every abortion patient, describe it in detail, and play the sound of the fetal heartbeat — even if the patient does not want it, even if in my medical judgment I believe that forcing it on them will cause them harm. The law forces me to do this to a patient who is half-naked on the exam table, usually with their feet in stirrups and an ultrasound probe inside their vagina. With my patient in this exposed and vulnerable position, the law forces me to keep displaying and describing the image, even when the patient shuts her eyes and covers her ears. Take a moment to imagine what this must be like. To tell your doctor, “thank you, but I don’t want to hear you describe the ultrasound,” and to have your doctor tell you that you have no say in the matter — that you must lie there, undressed, with an ultrasound probe inside of you, and have the images described to you in government-mandated detail over your objection. Even if the patient has already had one or more ultrasounds performed. Even if the fetus has been diagnosed with a condition incompatible with survival. Or even if the patient is pregnant as a result of sexual assault, and having to watch and listen to the ultrasound over their objection forces them to relive that trauma. We have had patients burst into tears when we tell them that they must undergo an unwanted narrated ultrasound and that they must close their eyes and cover their ears if they want to avoid the speech Kentucky politicians insist we force upon them. I’ve had patients sob through the experience, and others pull their shirts up over their faces to cover their eyes. As physicians who have dedicated our professional lives to providing compassionate medical care, being ordered by politicians to force this unwanted and harmful experience on patients who have sought our help is appalling. It goes against the very fundamentals of our role as healers and violates the trust at the heart of the physician-patient relationship. My patients’ health and well-being come first, and if there is anything I can do to protect them from politicians trying to barge into the exam room, I will do it. Today, that includes asking the Supreme Court to put an end to this insulting political intrusion.Enough is enough.
In a year when we’ve seen states throughout the South and Midwest move to ban abortion and restrict access to reproductive health, California could soon cement its reputation as a leader in reproductive freedom. This past week, the state legislature passed SB 24 to ensure that medication abortion is available to college students in public universities.Jessy Rosales, a UC student, struggled with paying for care and dealing with the complexities of insurance plans when she needed an abortion. She had to go off campus to three different providers, which took time away from class, work, and other responsibilities. Jessy’s grades slipped as she tried to navigate the obstacles to getting an abortion. Such financial, logistical, and emotional tolls are completely unnecessary.Every month, approximately 500 students at the UC and CSU campuses seek the abortion pill at off-site health care facilities. On average, a student seeking abortion in California will have to wait one week for the next available appointment at the facility closest to their campus — and that’s assuming they can make it to the appointment. More than half of all students in UC and CSU universities are low-income and over two-thirds of UC students and one-third of CSU students do not have a car, so cost and transportation are critical barriers for many. Students of color, low-income students, first-generation college students, and students who are already parents or supporting their families are particularly harmed by barriers to accessing comprehensive reproductive care.State Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) authored the groundbreaking bill to require every University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campus to provide the abortion pill — a safe and effective method to end a pregnancy — at student health centers. The law would eliminate barriers currently faced by students who struggle to travel off campus to obtain an abortion, which results in unnecessary hardship and delay. California’s effort to improve access to abortion care is a bright point in a national landscape that has seen access to abortion decrease significantly. In the first nine months of 2019 alone, seven states banned all or most abortions. And the Supreme Court is likely to further gut abortion rights, even if it doesn’t immediately overturn Roe v. Wade.Student health centers already provide a range of reproductive health services including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy tests, pregnancy options counseling, and contraception. It just makes sense that the abortion pill — safe, effective, and simple to provide — should be among the services offered.Research shows that student health centers are well equipped to offer the abortion pill, and private funders have come forward to pay the costs of implementation and training.In addition, students and allies from across the state have built a groundswell of support for SB 24. Six in 10 Californians support providing the full range of reproductive health care including the abortion pill, including majorities of every age bracket. The ACLU of California is proud to be one of seven organizational sponsors of SB 24, which has received support from over 130 organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other medical groups; reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations; and community groups from every part of the state. The Los Angeles Times editorial board came out in support of the measure, calling it a “sensible and smart addition to the healthcare services.”Last year, California narrowly missed a chance to make history and support its students when a similar bill (SB 320) was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. At that time, now-Governor Gavin Newsom said he supported the bill. Today, SB 24 sits on his desk awaiting his signature.The future of abortion rights in the U.S. may be uncertain, but California is poised to lead the nation in expanding access. SB 24 is a testament to California’s spirit of innovation, the drive of our young people, and our commitment to a better future. It sets a new standard for campus care that we can all be proud of.
In a special hearing before congress, former nurse Jill Stanek shared a harrowing story from her time working for a local hospital. Stanek describes in horrifying detail how babies that survived abortions were left out to die and then later used to create sick memorabilia of the abortion.
The key implication of my research on structural sexism is that gender inequality in the U.S. is not only a human rights issue, but also a public health problem... Nine states have passed laws in 2019 alone that restrict abortion at the earliest stages of pregnancy. Those of us who study public health are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential for negative health consequences of these kinds of policies on women.
The Trump Administration has shown it will stop at nothing to undermine access to health care for marginalized communities. Most recently, the Administration has proposed to undermine critical protections against sex discrimination in Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the Health Care Rights Law. Instead of combatting discrimination in accessing health care and insurance coverage, the Administration is looking for any opportunity to weaken the Health Care Rights Law’s protections, which have been life saving for many transgender and non-binary people.Under the Trump Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has abandoned its duty to fight against discrimination in health care. It stopped defending existing regulations in a lawsuit attacking protections for transgender individuals and people who have obtained abortions. HHS then turned around and cited that very lawsuit as a reason for changing the regulations. But HHS cannot use its failure to defend current protections as a reason to gut them.Tell HSS: Don’t Roll Back Trans RightsThe proposed rule removes explicit protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, as well as for people seeking, or who have obtained, services related to pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion. The Administration has made clear that a central goal of the proposed changes is to excise transgender people from the protections of the Health Care Rights Law. Though their intent has been to “erase” transgender people, the Administration can neither erase transgender people from existing statutory protections nor exclude them from society. Case after case has confirmed that transgender people are protected under the Health Care Rights Law—and that is something the Administration cannot change even if this rule is finalized.This isn’t just about definitions, though. This rule is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to undermine our nation’s antidiscrimination laws. The proposed rule would also: eliminate protections ensuring that people who have limited English proficiency are aware of their health care rights; narrow the list of health insurance providers covered by the Health Care Rights Law and prohibited from discriminating based on race, national origin, age, disability, or sex; and give religiously-affiliated health care institutions a broad license to discriminate on the basis of sex.Even though one in six hospital beds in the United States is in a Catholic hospital, and the number of religious health care providers is only growing, the Administration wants to lift prohibitions on religious health care institutions discriminating based on a patient’s sex.The proposed rule continues the Trump Administration’s mission to undermine access to health care for marginalized communities. So far they want to deprive people of coverage for contraceptives, decimate family planning services, dramatically expand the ability of health care institutions and workers to refuse to provide medical services, and penalize access to health care by immigrant women and children.Transgender people already face threats of violence and discrimination in all aspects of their lives and the Trump Administration is inviting more. The Administration is intent on emboldening discriminatory and dangerous denials of care for transgender individuals. They have already banned transgender members of the military from openly serving and accessing certain critical medical procedures, reversed positions as to whether federal law protects transgender people from workplace discrimination, and proposed allowing taxpayer-funded shelters to turn away transgender people experiencing homelessness.Despite these attacks by the Trump Administration we will continue to fight to ensure equal access to health care and coverage, free from discriminatory treatment or denials. For all these reasons, tens of thousands of people are telling HHS to abandon the proposed rule, and to keep the current Health Care Rights Law regulations in place – and I hope you join us in doing so.You can submit a comment opposing this roll back of health care protections until August 13.
Alabama. Arkansas. Kentucky. Ohio. And today, Georgia. That’s the list of states where the ACLU has had to go to court over the last few months to challenge laws banning abortion.The Georgia law bans ab
Alabama. Arkansas. Kentucky. Ohio. And today, Georgia. That’s the list of states where the ACLU has had to go to court over the last few months to challenge laws banning abortion.The Georgia law bans abortion at six weeks of pregnancy and is in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. In fact, that is the whole point of the law. Georgia politicians, including Governor Brian Kemp, emboldened by President Trump’s appointment of two new justices to the Supreme Court, think this is their chance to get the court to take away the constitutional right to abortion altogether.But we aren’t going back. Together, with a broad coalition of health care providers and advocates, including SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, we’ve asked the court to block the law before it ever goes into effect. It’s important to know that the law is not in effect now. Abortion is still legal in Georgia and we intend to keep it that way.Taking away a person’s ability to get an abortion is inexcusable and unconstitutional. But Georgia lawmakers weren’t content to stop there. The law they passed also threatens access to a vast range of routine treatments that people need when they are pregnant. For example, a physician could face criminal prosecution for prescribing antibiotics that accidentally harm an embryo or fetus. Such a threat can only drive doctors away from treating pregnant Georgians.Lawmakers who pushed this bill claim they want to protect life, yet the effect of this reckless law would be to endanger people. And pregnant people in Georgia already face unacceptable risks. According to Georgia’s own Department of Public Health, women in the state die from pregnancy-related causes at one of the highest rates in the nation. Black people, in particular, die at three times the rate that white people do. That is so even though over 60 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in the state are preventable.Rather than address these real threats to the well-being of Georgians, the state’s politicians have chosen to make pregnancy even riskier by subjecting doctors to criminal prosecution and interfering with a patient’s decisions — intruding where politicians have no business.Abortion bans place people in danger, period, and Georgia’s is no exception. Whether someone seeks to terminate a pregnancy or to have a baby, the Georgia bill would strip them of their rights and needlessly expose them to harm.With this lawsuit, we and our partners are sending a clear message to those who passed this bill: they will not succeed. We are confident that the law will not pass muster with a court, and that the authority to make important medical and life decisions will remain in the hands of Georgia’s people, not its politicians.
After seeing states like Alabama and Georgia pass one extreme abortion ban after another, other states are starting to push back. Last week, governors in Illinois, Maine, and Vermont signed historic bills to protect abortion rights or expand access to abortion care in their states. This follows action last month in Nevada; other states, including California, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, may not be far behind.Illinois’ and Vermont’s bills both recognize abortion and other reproductive rights as “fundamental,” ensuring that they will remain protected in those states, regardless of what happens to Roe v. Wade, the embattled Supreme Court decision that recognized a constitutional right to abortion. We haven’t seen such robust protections in a generation, when a similar set of state bills passed in the early 90s in response to the last existential threat to Roe.This move is especially important in Illinois, which is surrounded by states that are hostile to abortion rights and already serves as a refuge for those who cannot obtain care in places like neighboring Missouri, where the last abortion clinic hangs by a thread.In the meantime, Maine has enacted two new laws. The first allows qualified health care professionals like nurse practitioners to provide safe abortion care, increasing the number of publicly-accessible health centers where someone can get an in-clinic abortion procedure from 3 up to 18. The second guarantees that abortion will be covered in public and private health care plans.This isn’t a coincidence. Activists have worked for years to lay the foundation for these wins, but the political will to push these bills over the finish line was prompted by the overreach of abortion opponents and by a desire to set up a “firewall…to protect access to reproductive healthcare for everyone,” as one bill sponsor put it.The bigger picture is that the extreme abortion bans enacted in recent months in the Midwest and South – seven at the last count – are actually the culmination of a sustained and concerted effort to outlaw abortion throughout the country.Over the past decade, anti-abortion lawmakers have quietly passed 479 medically-unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions on abortion under the guise of protecting women’s health. But in reality, such measures are designed to shame patients, shut down clinics, and push abortion care out of reach.While many of these unconstitutional laws have been struck down in the courts, the strategy has still been quite successful. Six states have only one abortion clinic left and millions of people live more than 100 miles from the nearest clinic. These abortion restrictions have stayed under the radar so as not to wake the sleeping giant that is the majority of Americans who want abortion to remain legal and available to those who need it.But, emboldened by Trump’s appointment of two new justices to the Supreme Court, anti-abortion politicians could not maintain their façade any longer. They are now openly passing bans in the hope that their state’s law might be the vehicle the Supreme Court ultimately uses to overturn Roe.However, their shift in strategy has meant that everyday people are now starting to understand the very real threat that exists – 72 percent of respondents in a recent poll said they believe the right to abortion is at risk in this country.And they are fighting back.Last month, tens of thousands of people took to the streets at more than 500 events in every state to express their outrage over these extreme bans. And just last week, more than 180 companies, whose workforce totals over 100,000 employees, signed a “Don’t Ban Equality” pledge in support of legal abortion. There also has been a surge in donations to abortion funds that help people get the care they need.Lawmakers, in turn, are heeding the call – and not just progressive ones. Vermont’s bill was signed by a Republican governor, a reminder that this issue need not be so partisan and a sign of the potency of this current political moment.While these victories should be celebrated, our rights should not depend on where we live and no one should have to travel out of state to get the care they need. For now, abortion is still legal in all 50 states and we must fight to make sure it stays that way. At the same time, we can continue to shore up state protections in order to safeguard the important, personal decision of whether to have a child; defend the rights of pregnant people at a time when the stakes have never been higher; and ensure a future in which health needs, not politics, always dictate the care a person receives.