BY REBECCA BOONE   08/31/11 09:41 PM ET   AP

BOISE, Idaho — An eastern Idaho woman has filed what is believed to be the first lawsuit in the nation to directly challenge the constitutionality of a so-called “fetal pain” abortion ban.

Jennie Linn McCormack filed suit in federal court against Bannock County’s prosecuting attorney, contending Idaho’s new law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy violates the Constitution.

Idaho is one of six states that have enacted such bans in the past two years. The bans are based on the premise that a fetus may feel pain at 20 weeks.

McCormack, who was briefly charged with having an illegal abortion, is seeking class-action status in her lawsuit against prosecutor Mark Hiedeman. The suit also challenges other parts of Idaho abortion law.

McCormack was charged with a felony in June after police said she took pills to terminate her pregnancy last December. Police found the fetus in a box at McCormack’s Pocatello home Jan. 9, and an autopsy determined it was between five and six months gestation. Police said McCormack told them she didn’t have enough money to go to a licensed medical professional, so her sister helped her access abortion-inducing drugs online.

A judge later dismissed the criminal case without prejudice for lack of evidence. That means the prosecutor may refile charges if he chooses, unless the federal courts stop him from doing so.

In the lawsuit, McCormack challenges the lack of access to abortions for women in her region, as well as the ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

She notes there are no elective-abortion providers in southeastern Idaho, forcing women seeking the procedure to travel elsewhere.

McCormack was unmarried and unemployed at the time of her pregnancy – with an income of $200 to $250 a month – and already had three children. She couldn’t afford the time or money it would take to travel to Salt Lake City to get an abortion, the lawsuit says.,abortion,lawsuit%3A,jennie,linn,mccormack,challenges,state,fetal,pain,law,politics

If McCormack prevails, it will be a win for women across the region, said her attorney, Richard Hearn of Pocatello.

“If we’re successful, they’ll be able to access legal and safe abortions in southeastern Idaho,” whether performed with medicine or surgically in a clinic, Hearn said Wednesday.

Hiedeman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Idaho law bars women from getting abortions from anyone but licensed Idaho physicians, and requires that second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital. Women who purposely cause their own abortions, or who get abortions from unlicensed physicians, face up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

McCormack is asking a judge to find that those criminal sanctions are unconstitutional, in part because they wrongly burden women in regions like southeastern Idaho that lack abortion providers.

Another Idaho law, passed during the 2011 Legislature, bans abortions once a fetus has reached 20 weeks on the belief that fetuses begin to feel pain at that stage. Idaho was one of five states – along with Kansas, Alabama, Indiana and Oklahoma – that enacted bans modeled after a fetal pain bill passed in Nebraska in 2010.

McCormack says the new law violates the Constitution because it doesn’t contain an exception allowing for abortions if necessary to preserve the mother’s health, and because it prohibits some abortions even before a fetus has reached viability. Roe v. Wade barred states from prohibiting abortions done before the age of viability, and other legal rulings have since determined viability occurs at 22 to 23 weeks gestation.

That contention echoes an opinion written by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office, which advised state lawmakers that the fetal pain bill could be found unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

It’s not the first time Idaho lawmakers have passed abortion laws that they were warned likely would be found unconstitutional. In the past decade, Idaho has spent more than $730,000 to defend restrictive abortion laws that ended up being struck down by courts. Those costly rulings prompted legislative leaders in recent years to require that abortion-related legislation be reviewed by the Idaho attorney general’s office.

Republican state Sen. Chuck Winder, who sponsored Idaho’s fetal pain legislation, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The National Right to Life Committee said Wednesday it believes the law will be upheld.

“Unborn children recoil from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase when they are subjected to any painful stimuli, and they require anesthesia for fetal surgery,” the group’s legislative director, Mary Spaulding Balch, said in a statement. “We are confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately agree and will recognize the right of the state to protect these children from the excruciatingly painful death of abortion.”

Janet Crepps, director of the U.S. legal program for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said laws like fetal pain bills are both unconstitutional and bad policy. They also are “demeaning to women and their doctors” because they don’t take into account how each woman’s situation is different, she said.

“When you think about all the regulations that are piled onto abortion, it just clearly becomes impossible for doctors to provide them and women to receive them in a situation like McCormack’s,” Crepps said. “It’s a really sad situation.”

By Sophie Borland

PUBLISHED: 00:22 GMT, 9 March 2012 | UPDATED: 03:36 GMT, 9 March 2012

An activist claims to have hacked into the website of Britain’s largest abortion clinic.

He claims to have the ‘entire database and contact details’ of women who had contacted the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and warned that information would be released today.

BPAS has been quick to reassure women who have had treatment that he would have been unable to access any medical or personal information about them, saying there is no danger their names were about to be made public.

The clinic’s website is down, so cannot be viewed. A message says it is ‘undergoing maintenance’.

Yesterday the unnamed activist wrote a message on Twitter  claiming he had ‘hacked’ into the  website of BPAS, which sees 50,000 women a year. ‘Database dump will be released tomorrow [Friday]’ he added.

Later he wrote another message under the pseudonym Pablo Escobar saying: ‘British Pregnancy Advisory Service has been attacked because they kill unborn children that have no rights. It’s murder.’

When another user of the website suggested his claims were untrue, he wrote: ‘Wrong. We have their entire database and customers’ contact details.’

Last night the chief executive of BPAS, Ann Furedi, said: ‘It’s not true that women’s details are going to be leaked. What I can say is that we are confident that women are not going to be at risk.’

The protester also put a picture on Twitter apparently showing the BPAS website after it had been hacked.

On the website’s homepage was a hacker’s logo and message which read: ‘An unborn child does not have an opinion, a choice or any rights. Who gave you the right to murder that unborn child and profit from that murder?

‘The product, abortion, is skilfully marketed and sold to women at the crisis time in her life. She buys the product, and wants to return it for a refund. But it’s too late.’

Later a spokesperson for BPAS confirmed: ‘The website of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) was hacked into and defaced for a period on 8th March, 2012 in what appeared to be a sophisticated cyber attack by an anti-abortion extremist.

‘Around 26,000 attempts to break into our website were made over a six hour period, but the hacker was unable to access any medical or personal information regarding women who had received treatment at bpas.

‘The website does store details (names, addresses and phone numbers) of people who have requested information from bpas via the website, including those making personal inquiries as well as health and education professionals, the media and students.

‘These may have been inquiries relating to contraception, pregnancy, abortion, STI testing and sterilisation.

‘All relevant authorities have been informed and appropriate legal action taken to prevent the dissemination of any information obtained from the website.’

BPAS, which was founded in 1968, is a charity which provides abortions and counselling in 40 centres in England and Wales.

It does not receive direct funding from the Government but is paid by the NHS for some of its services, such as carrying out abortions in some hospitals and providing contraception.

The real Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug baron, believed to have fuelled the U.S. cocaine trade during the 1980s.

The hacker’s account bore the logo of the notorious hacking group Anonymous, a collection of loosely connected online hackers from around the world.

But last night other alleged members of the group on Twitter were distancing themselves from the ‘Pablo Escobar’ tweeter, claiming he was not a member.

Anonymous is a sister group of the hacking community Lulzsec, which this week had four members arrested after an FBI sting operation.

The group’s chief, Hector Xavier Monsegur, was arrested by the FBI in June last year and worked with the agency to arrest some of the network’s most high-profile hackers.

Lulzsec members have been behind several significant online security breaches, including taking the CIA website offline and stealing from Sony’s database.

Dec 12, 2011 12:00 AM EST

Jennie McCormack was arrested for terminating her pregnancy with an abortion pill. The case that could transform the reproduction wars.

The last thing on Jennie Linn McCormack’s mind when she realized she was pregnant was that she might, with a single telephone call, upend the vitriolic national debate on abortion.
All she thought about was how it would be impossible for her to take care of another baby. Surviving, barely, on the $250 of monthly child support for one of her three kids, the unemployed, unmarried 32-year-old also knew she didn’t have the more than $500 she’d need for the two-and-a-half-hour trip from her bare-bones rental in Pocatello, Idaho, to Salt Lake City, the closest city with a clinic willing to terminate a pregnancy. She had no computer, no car, no one to take care of her 2-year-old—and like Idaho, Utah had a waiting period for abortions, which meant she’d have to make two round trips. So early this past January, she made the call that may alter history and turn Jennie McCormack into Jane Roe’s unlikely successor: she asked her sister inMississippi to buy RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, over the Internet and send it to her. The cost: about $200.

“My mind just kept going back to my kids, how there was no way I could do that to them, no way I could make their lives even worse,” says McCormack, a petite blonde, as she nearly sinks between the cushions of her sofa, her eyes rimmed with tears. The man who had impregnated her had just been sent to jail for robbery; she did not feel comfortable reaching out to her mother—Mormon, like almost everyone in southeastern Idaho—for help.

McCormack, who thought she was about 12 weeks along, took the pills (the protocol involves two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol) the afternoon they arrived. The drugs are FDA-approved only for ending early-stage pregnancies; McCormack had no complications, but the pregnancy turned out to be more advanced than she thought—perhaps between 18 and 21 weeks, experts later speculated—and the size of the fetus scared her. She didn’t know what to do—“I was paralyzed,” she says—so she put it in a box on her porch, and, terrified, called a friend. That friend then called his sister, who reported McCormack to the police.

Although RU-486 is legal and the fetus was not yet “viable” (that is, old enough to live outside the uterus), Idaho has a 1972 law—never before enforced—making it a crime punishable by five years in prison for a woman to induce her own abortion. The day after police arrested McCormack, her mug shot appeared above the fold in the local newspaper. “It’s hard to imagine the humiliation and fear,” says her lawyer, Richard Hearn, who is also a physician.

The case was dropped weeks later due to lack of evidence. Without solid proof, such as the envelope in which the pills came, her confession wasn’t enough to sustain the case. But prosecutors retained the right to re-file charges. In response, Hearn got a federal injunction to prevent any woman from being prosecuted under the state’s anti-abortion statute by the district attorney. He also filed a class-action suit against the state, claiming the statute is unconstitutional. But all that took nine months to play out, and McCormack lurched into depression and became a virtual shut-in.

“You’d have to know the climate here,” says Hearn, “to fully imagine the amount of pressure Jennie is under, how hostile people can be, how isolated she is.” Next week, motions will be heard in federal court to certify the suit as a class action. Last week, the prosecutor filed a motion to have Hearn’s injunction lifted. (The prosecutor’s office did not return calls seeking comment.)

The case has become a huge tangle for both sides of the abortion battle—state laws that put abortion beyond the reach of poor women are clashing with the global reach of the Internet. With Hearn ready to take his case to the Supreme Court, Jennie Linn McCormack may be above the fold for years to come.

“It’s a profoundly important case,” says Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “But it’s one that neither the pro-choice nor the pro-life people want to deal with. And that’s what makes it so crucial.”

It’s a bad case for both sides. The fact that McCormack kept a 4-month-old fetus frozen in the winter chill on her back porch is the sort of ghoulish image pro-choice activists try to avoid. For pro-life advocates, supporting her arrest would contradict a longstanding policy of targeting providers while holding women blameless. “It would require a massive change in direction if the anti-abortion movement now supported the criminal prosecution of women directly, which is why McCormack is troubling,” says Cynthia Gorney, a formerWashington Post reporter and the author of Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars. “It would violate everything they built the movement on.”

Neither right-to-life groups nor pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America—usually quick to publicize such human stories as ammunition for their cause—have made public statements on McCormack’s case, and numerous calls to spokespeople on both sides of the issues went unreturned.

“McCormack puts them places that complicate the storyline. It’s the new frontier,” says Gorney, now a journalism professor. “Once you remove the providers, you have no one to picket or pressure. Abortifacient drugs and the Internet change the debate forever. ”

Despite the reticence of pro-choice groups to take up McCormack’s cause, it is exactly what they have been warning of for years: as clinics become inaccessible, poor women are more likely to take abortion into their own hands. In the era before Roe v. Wade, that meant back-room abortions; now it conjures images of a lonely woman in a small town at her keyboard Googling “abortion pill.” Hundreds of online merchants will send RU-486 without a prescription, according to Women on Web, an organization that sends the drugs to women in countries where abortion is illegal.

No one knows how many women in the U.S. have gotten the drugs this way, says Daniel Grossman, a physician who is a senior associate at Ibis Reproductive Health, a research and advocacy group in Cambridge, Mass. “[But] if women were not accessing them, these sites would not be proliferating.” Although the number of abortions nationally has dropped slightly in recent years, some 35 percent of American women will have one at some point in their lives.

The proliferation of sites providing the drugs coincides with the pro-life movement’s highly effective protests and attacks on physicians, clinics, and health-care groups that offer abortions. The number of Planned Parenthood affiliates has been cut in half since 1987, to fewer than 100. Almost 90 percent of counties in the U.S. and 98 percent of rural counties have no abortion services. Many clinics in states where local physicians are pressured not to perform abortions now fly in doctors from out of state to provide abortions, says Melanie Zurek, the executive director of the Abortion Access Project, a Boston-based group that offers training and support to doctors and health organizations.

While Medicaid coverage for abortions has long been outlawed, more than a dozen states now restrict private-insurance coverage of abortion. Texas cut funding for clinics that provide birth control, even if they don’t provide abortion services. A South Dakota bill that would have made women wait 72 hours before getting abortions was recently blocked by a federal judge. A bill in Ohio would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks after conception. In November, Mississippi voters narrowly rejected a referendum that would have defined “personhood” at the time of conception, a notion that would have made even certain types of birth control illegal. Legal scholars on both sides agree that such laws wouldn’t survive a constitutional challenge as long as Roe v. Wade stands. Which is precisely why some pro-life groups are championing them: their goal is to provoke challenges that go to the Supreme Court, which will, in their fever dream, strike Roe down.

This is, of course, the pro-choice movement’s greatest fear. Spooked by the recent strong challenge in Congress to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, pro-choicers are wary about mounting legal challenges to state restrictions, for fear those challenges would end up in front of an inhospitable Supreme Court.

For the clinics that remain, the use of abortion drugs, which require no equipment and far less training for physicians than surgical options, has quietly risen. More than 20 percent of all abortions in the U.S. are now “medical” abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group. The drugs are more than 95 percent effective in ending pregnancies up until seven weeks, according to the FDA, and are considered the best method for ending very early pregnancies.

Later-term abortions like McCormack’s, even those done in a clinic, are the Achilles’ heel of the pro-choice movement. Although only 1 percent of abortions in the U.S. are done after 21 weeks (about 88 percent are performed within 12 weeks), anti-abortion advocates have made such procedures their prime target. Since the Supreme Court in 2007 upheld states’ rights to regulate late-term abortions, more than 35 states now have strengthened their prohibitions on clinics that performed the procedure.

Hearn, McCormack’s lawyer, is less wary about challenging statutes—and undaunted by the lack of public support from either camp. The pro-choice lobby “may not think this is a good time to bring something to the court because it’s so conservative,” he says, “but I say no case is perfect, and if not now, when?”

In addition to his challenge of the Idaho statute criminalizing self-induced abortion, he is targeting the state’s new “fetal pain” law, which is basically a clumsy end-run ban on late-term abortions. (Virtually all research on the subject shows that fetuses cannot distinguish pain until as late as the 30th week of gestation.) Four other states have recently passed similar laws, despite the fact that under Roe, abortions are legal until viability, which is around 25 weeks.

While the arguments fly, McCormack waits quietly in her small, dark apartment. A bedraggled bouquet of silk flowers hangs outside her front door along with a plaque that says “Welcome” in Spanish, French, and German. Even if her suit succeeds, there is no victory for her. She says she has “no friends at all, no one to talk to.” She knows no one who’s had an abortion, or at least no one who will admit it. “My mother, she’s Mormon, you know? She’s a proud person, and this is a terrible thing for her to have to look people in the eye.” After her picture appeared in the paper, McCormack got a part-time job at a dry cleaner, using another name, but people figured out who she was and stopped letting her bag up their clothes, so she quit. On a recent trip to a local state office to apply for aid, she was ignored for hours. “They made it clear what was happening,” she says. “For a while I just sat there, sort of amazed that they were just letting me sit there.” Eventually, she picked up her son and went home.

Even her attempts to bury her fetus have been thwarted. Hearn put in requests to the district attorney to have the remains released from the evidence locker, but no one has responded. “I never wanted to be someone public, to make a point,” McCormack says. “This isn’t a cause for me. I just didn’t know what to do. I did what I thought was right for my kids, that’s all.”

Outdated laws lag behind medicine

04 Apr 2011


Abortion is a common, publicly subsidised medical procedure which is estimated to be the outcome of one in four pregnancies in Australia. However, the law is seriously lagging behind other developed countries in regulating reproductive medicine says La Trobe University’s Associate Professor Dr Kerry Petersen.



moot courtDr Petersen, from La Trobe’s School of Law, says the law needs urgent reform in order to discourage women from taking a step backwards into the ‘backyard abortion’ of yesteryear.

She draws on a recent Queensland verdict – R v Brennan and Leach – where a woman was charged with procuring her own abortion. The woman’s partner had accessed drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprotol, from a relative in the Ukraine to administer an abortion without seeking medical assistance. He was charged with supplying drugs to procure an abortion.

‘The couple were found not guilty because the law prohibits women from attempting to administer a ‘noxious’ thing to abort a pregnancy. The term ‘noxious’ in the charge refers to a harmful way to induce an abortion, however Mifepristone combined with Misoprostol is used worldwide and is regarded as a safe and effective method for medical abortions’ says Dr Petersen.

Developed by a French pharmaceutical company in the early eighties, these drugs are widely accepted, however, few doctors in Queensland have prescribing rights. This has made access to the drug difficult. Internet trafficking has become a response by some in order to obtain the drugs.

‘This is a step backwards into the ‘backyard’ abortion of yesteryear. Half of the drugs obtained over the internet, according to the World Health organisation, are counterfeit which could pose a threat to a woman’s health,’ Dr Petersen says.

The developments of new methods for abortion are in contradiction with the outdated laws in Queensland as seen in this case. If another woman were to source the drugs through the internet, they might not be so lucky because there is no way to tell the integrity of a drug purchased online she says.

Dr Petersen says an intelligent response is necessary to protect women’s health. This would include repealing inappropriate and ineffective abortion laws, introducing policies aimed at reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancies and abortions, and removing administrative barriers which control the availability of the drugs.

‘If more general practitioners were permitted to prescribe Mifepristone and Misopristol and organise follow-up care, it is unlikely that many women would have any need to tap into irregular sources. The State of Queensland has put two young people through an unnecessary and gruelling trial because of obsolete abortion laws which lack regulatory legitimacy,’ says Dr Petersen.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Associate Professor Dr Kerry Petersen, please contact:

Meghan Lodwick

Communications Officer
T (03) 9479 5353 E

Hinter dieser Initiative Nie Wieder! e.V. aus Weinheim, die diese Webseite betreibt, steckt der Industriekaufmann Klaus Günther Annen, der seit den 80er Jahren immer wieder Kampagnen und Klagen gegen Ärzte organisiert hat. Mit dem Namen der Kampagne Nie Wieder! spielt er auf den Slogan Nie wieder Faschismus! an und versucht auch mit der Etablierung des Begriffs Babycaust das Thema Abtreibung mit dem Holocaust und Völkermord zu verbinden. Die neue und gefährliche Dimension dieser Webseite besteht darin, dass hier auch die Adressen und Fotos von Ärzten, Beratern von Familienplanungszentren und Kliniken in Deutschland veröffentlicht werden.

Ein Interview mit Annen findet sich hier

(engl.) This website and campagne is organized by Klaus Günther Annen, who is very active in the anti-choice scene since the 80s with frequent attempts to file lawsuits against doctors and family planing organisations. With the name of the campagne Never again! and his use of the term babycaust he tries to connect abortion to the holocaust. The new and dangerous quality of this site is that he published a list of doctors, consultants and clinics in Germany with pictures and adresses.