Reproductive rights roundup

Two victories and an obituary for the man "who did more for safe abortion ... than practically any other person in the world."

By Judy Berman
May 21, 2008 11:18PM (UTC)
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It's increasingly rare to have even one pro-choice victory to celebrate, so I'm feeling pretty damned good about two court decisions that came down squarely in favor of preserving reproductive rights Tuesday.

In Virginia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit overruled the state's Partial Birth Infanticide Act of 2003, judging it to be even more restrictive than the late-term abortion ban passed by the federal government and upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The court had already overturned the law in 2005 but was forced to reexamine it in light of the new federal legislation. It's a small victory, and a redundant one, but a victory nonetheless.


Meanwhile, ladies across the pond also have reason to rejoice. M.P.s in Britain voted Tuesday to preserve the 24-week limit on abortions, striking down two proposals to restrict the procedure after 20 and 22 weeks. Three Catholic Cabinet ministers lobbied for a 12-week cutoff (you know, the one that we lucky Americans are subject to) but were pretty much ignored. Ain't Europe grand?

Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Times obituary turned the spotlight on Harvey Karman, who died May 6. The little-known 84-year-old psychologist and reproductive rights activist developed the cannula, a tube used to perform early abortions. As one professor says, "Harvey Karman did more for safe abortion around the world than practically any other person … Karman's name is not known, yet his ingenuity and to some extent his courage have made safe abortion available to literally millions of women around the world."

Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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