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Blogs comment on court decisions striking down two Ala. antiabortion-rights law, Utah law targeting abortion providers and more

Read the week's best commentary from bloggers at the American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely," Slate's "XX Factor" and more.

ABORTION RESTRICTIONS:

"A victory for abortion access in Alabama," Jaweer Brown, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": "A federal district court this week blocked two abortion restrictions in Alabama that would have dramatically reduced abortion access in the state by closing clinics and limiting the [abortion care] doctors are able to provide," Brown writes. According to Brown, one of the laws (SB 205) would have forced abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school to close," potentially shutting down "the only abortion clinics in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, which provide over half of the abortions in the state." Brown explains that in striking down the law, U.S. District Judge Myron Johnson "exposed the law's true intentions, which is not to stop the disruption [created by clinic protesters], but stop the provision of safe, accessible abortion." The second blocked law (SB 363) would have banned a medically proven method of abortion, Brown continues, noting that similar bans have been struck down in Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Noting that the American Civil Liberties Union over the last three years has challenged seven antiabortion-rights laws in Alabama, Brown concludes, "People and courts all over the country are sending a loud and clear message: Stop interfering with a woman's personal decisions. The question now is this: Will politicians get the message?" (Brown, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 10/31).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Judge blocks Alabama abortion laws, invokes the South's history of racist misogyny," Mark Joseph Stern, Slate's "XX Factor."

~ "Federal judge blocks two ridiculous Alabama abortion laws," Stassa Edwards, Jezebel.

ACCESS TO CARE AND ABORTION RIGHTS:

"Appeals court continues to block Utah's attempt to defund Planned Parenthood," Stern, Slate's "XX Factor": In "another court decision siding with Planned Parenthood in the ongoing battle to defund the organization," the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday "sitting en banc, refused to reconsider an earlier ruling by a panel of judges" that determined "Utah's effort to defund Planned Parenthood violated the Constitution," Stern writes. Planned Parenthood "has lately been on a roll in the courts," Stern notes, explaining that "[j]udge after judge has found that conservative states' attempts to strip money from the organization cannot survive legal scrutiny." According to Stern, "The 10th Circuit's ruling was perhaps the strongest of the pack: A majority of the panel held that [Utah Gov. Gary] Herbert's directive constituted an 'unconstitutional condition' under the First Amendment," meaning that Herbert was effectively "punishing Planned Parenthood for advocating in favor of abortion rights, associating with groups that support abortion access, and affiliating with clinics that provide abortion." Given that "promoting abortion rights and associating with pro-choice groups is protected by the First Amendment, and abortion itself is protected by the 14th Amendment," Stern explains that the 10th Circuit ruled that "Utah had imposed an unconstitutional penalty on Planned Parenthood for its speech and association and for providing access to a constitutionally protected right." According to Stern, the ruling is yet "another indication that the courts are fed up with underhanded efforts to deprive women of autonomy" (Stern, "XX Factor," Slate, 10/28).

What others are saying about access to care and abortion rights:

~ "[Medication abortion is] catching up ... as most common U.S. abortion method," Christina Cauterucci, Slate's "XX Factor."

LGBT:

"Supreme Court will weigh in on transgender bathroom [access]," Samantha Michaels, Mother Jones: "For the first time, the Supreme Court will weigh in on the question of whether transgender students should be allowed to use bathrooms matching their gender identity, rather than the sex listed on their birth certificates," Michaels writes. Last week, the high court announced it would consider "the case of 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, a trans boy in Virginia who sued his school board last year after it blocked him from using the boys' bathroom at his school." In response to the school board's emergency appeal earlier this year, the Supreme Court "temporarily blocked Grimm from the boys' room" -- a decision that "remains in place until the case is resolved." According to Michaels, "The case comes as the national debate about transgender bathroom access has reached a fever pitch." Michaels explains that following the Obama administration's announcement in May that "public schools ... could lose federal funding if they blocked trans kids from the bathrooms of their choice," 23 states have "sued the Department of Education," arguing that "Title IX applies only to sex discrimination, not gender identity discrimination." Michaels concludes by quoting Grimm, who said, "'If you told me two years ago that the Supreme Court was going to have to approve whether I could use the school restroom, I would have thought you were joking'" (Michaels, Mother Jones, 10/28).