January 23rd was the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court of the United State'’s decision in Roe v. Wade, where the Court ruled that the right of privacy found under Fourteenth Amendment applies to a woman's decision to have an abortion. This landmark ruling was seen as supporting women’s autonomy in exercising reproductive rights. To mark this anniversary, here is a sampling of recent news concerning reproductive rights:
• Under the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, employers that provide health insurance must include coverage for contraceptives in the insurance they provide to their employees. The requirement also applies to faith-based employers. Unless one works directly for a church or religious institution, one is now entitled to access preventative services. Thus, women that work for faith-based organizations, such as Catholic schools or hospitals, will be provided with coverage for birth control.
• Abortion takes the spotlight during an early part of the election year as “Personhood” proposals—measures that define human life as beginning with fertilization and are intended to ban virtually all abortions—enter the ballots in 12 states.
• The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas held that the controversial mandatory sonogram law will remain enforceable. The court decided that the law’s required disclosures were the best source of information for women seeking abortion. This sonogram law mandates that doctors offer pictures, audio of the heartbeat, and a lengthy verbal description of the fetus to women seeking abortion-providers. Patients may opt out of the visual and audio components, but are required to listen to the doctor’s verbal description unless the patients are victims of rape or incest.