1. Donald Trump’s stance on abortion.
A lot of republicans are pro-life. That’s not news. What’s interesting about Donald Trump is that he actually answered a question many pro-lifers tend to tiptoe around when questioned about abortion. In an interview on March 30th he asserted that he believes abortion should be illegal, and suggested that women who seek abortions should be punished by the legal system. Of course, if abortion were to be made illegal, the law would have to prescribe a punishment for someone involved. However, many people (especially politicians) aren’t usually bold enough to claim outright that women seeking abortions should be jailed. Even other republican presidential candidates noted that Trump’s suggestion that women be prosecuted for having abortions was extreme. As has been the case with many other comments Trump has made since he started his presidential campaign, he backtracked once he saw how much backlash his comments garnered. Since last Wednesday, he and his spokespeople have tried to clarify his position multiple times, ultimately stating that women should be treated as victims of abortions, and the people who perform the abortions should be held legally responsible. While pro-life activists are still unsatisfied with this position, it’s likely the one Trump will stick to going forward.
2. More widespread access to contraceptive pills
Since January, women in Oregon have been able to access birth control pills without a prescription from a doctor. On Friday, California’s law enabling women to do the same thing went into effect, so women can go directly to a pharmacist to get their birth control without getting “permission” from a doctor. In Oregon, there is still a requirement that women be 18 or older to get the pill, but in California there is no age restriction. Additionally, FDA regulations have changed so that women can receive medication-induced abortions up to 70 days after conception. Previously, the use of abortion pills was restricted to women who had been pregnant for less than 49 days. At a time when many abortion clinics are under threat of closure due to unduly strict regulations in some states, this could help ease the burden for women seeking abortions.
3. Zubik v Burwell
Zubik v Burwell is a case the Supreme Court is hearing concerning whether and how women who are employed by religious organisations should receive birth control under the insurance their employers are required to provide. Currently, religious organisations can provide these women with insurance packages that don’t cover birth control, but the organisations have to fill out a form asking the government for an accommodation, and the government can step in to ensure the women receive birth control at no extra cost. However, some religious organisations claim that even filling out this form means they’re helping their employees access birth control, and that this infringes on their religious freedom. The Court seemed split on the matter after oral arguments, and in order to avoid a split vote, they asked both plaintiffs and defendants to submit potential solutions. These solutions would have to ensure that the employees receive cost-free contraception without their employer’s involvement. Hopefully someone can come up with a solution that a majority of the Court deems reasonable so women’s access to birth control isn’t left up to their employers.
Bonus: IVF is finally legal in Costa Rica once again. IVF was made illegal in Costa Rica in the year 2000, making it the only country in the Western Hemisphere where the procedure was illegal. Since then, the country has gone back and forth with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) debating whether the ban should be legal, and who has the power to overturn the law. In the meantime couples have used other methods to try to increase fertility, such as hormonal stimulation of ovaries. Unfortunately, with this method there is no way to control how many embryos are produced, making multiple births (which can be more dangerous) more likely. It seems that a presidential decree signed last September has finally taken effect as of April 1, and private clinics can now apply to be allowed to perform IVF in Costa Rica