Legal Wrap: Values Voter Summit Highlights GOP Obsession With Contraception

Republicans remind voters at last weekend's Values Voter Summit the only thing that matters is getting rid of contraception access at all costs.

Republicans remind voters at last weekend's Values Voter Summit the only thing that matters is getting rid of contraception access at all costs. Birth Control via Shutterstock

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Adele Stan reports from the Values Voter Summit, where the federal government shutdown and looming default are no big deal so long as conservatives can end the birth control benefit in health-care reform. Case in point: While twiddling their thumbs over the shutdown, Republicans in the House proposed the “Abortion Insurance Disclosure Act“—because that’ll get the government up and running.

In her excellent coverage of the summit, Stan also discusses how right-wing superstars like Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson thrilled attendees with some good old fashioned misogyny.

The Department of Justice wants a federal appeals court to overturn an earlier ruling that a letter from notorious anti-abortion extremist Angel Dillard to Dr. Mila Means was constitutionally protected. In the letter, Dillard promises that should Means begin offering abortions in Wichita, Kansas, it would only be a matter of time before Means found explosives under her car. Earlier this year a federal judge ruled the letter wasn’t a “true threat” and was, therefore, protected by the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court heard arguments last week in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a case that looks to overturn individual contribution limits to political candidates. The case has been described as Citizens United 2.0, and I explain here how a ruling undoing those individual limits spells bad news for reproductive health care.

The New Mexico attorney general’s office has weighed in on a proposed 20-week abortion ban in the city of Albuquerque, saying any ban would be “unconstitutional and unenforceable.” Though we all know that’s never stopped anti-abortion activists before.

A judge ruled that the Falls Church Healthcare Center can move forward with its legal challenge to Virginia’s targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law, which threatens to close clinics in the state.

That wasn’t the only loss for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Last week, the Supreme Court declined to take up his appeal of a ruling that declared the state’s anti-sodomy law unconstitutional.

A federal court dismissed a legal challenge by civil rights groups to a 2011 Arizona law that makes it a felony for a doctor to knowingly perform an abortion based on the sex or race of a fetus, holding the groups lacked standing to challenge the law.

In Ohio, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging three anti-abortion provisions attached to the state’s 2014 state budget on the grounds they violate the Ohio Constitution’s “single-subject” rule.

Iowa regulators aren’t letting a pending lawsuit get in the way of their plans to thwart access to medical abortion for thousands of rural Iowans.

Elsewhere, in Texas, an anti-abortion group has sued a retired state court judge after he ordered a 15-year-old girl to return to her grandmother’s home, where a convicted sex offender was living. The ruling was in connection with a custody dispute with the teen. At the time the girl was pregnant and, claimed the girl, the grandmother and her boyfriend were trying to force her to have an abortion. Six months after the ruling, the sex offender shot and killed the girl’s grandmother and sexually assaulted the girl. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the judge.

Home Depot faces a lawsuit after claims surfaced the home improvement retail giant was targeting gay employees for firing because they are “too expensive” to insure.

And on a lighter note: Hooray, California! Thanks to tireless work by activists and some lawmakers, the state bucked the national trend with not one but two new laws designed to expand access to abortion care.