Larry W. Smith / EPA
The Texas Legislature passed a law this summer that mandates doctors performing abortions have hospital admitting privileges nearby. This is a medically unnecessary restriction, has no impact on the quality of care a woman would get at a hospital emergency room if she needed it, and effectively wipes out of operation a third of Texas clinics providing abortions because few of their doctors have admitting privileges. It would leave an estimated 20,000 women in Texas stranded without a clinic within 100 miles of them, say abortion rights advocates. This law is designed to hinder a woman's access to abortion -- and that's unconstitutional. Hopefully, either the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals (which will hear a challenge to the law) or the Supreme Court will figure that out.
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Dale Wetzel / Associated Press
In March, North Dakota passed a law that prevents abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks. That gave it the ignominious distinction of being the most restrictive state in the country on abortion. The Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is legal up to fetal viability, which is generally 24 weeks. A federal judge rightly blocked the North Dakota law from going into effect. But meanwhile, the state will have on the ballot next year a "personhood" amendment. If approved, it would give the "right to life" to "every human being at any stage of development." Of course, it would be challenged, which is exactly what its proponents want: to get it before the Supreme Court. If it does, the Supreme Court should strike it down. Above: North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
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Even in the evolved 21st century, women around the world grapple with issues of access to reproductive rights, violence and gender inequality. Take a look at some of the year's past events. -- Carla Hall