WLP’s Terry Fromson Elected to American Law Institute

Women’s Law Project Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson is one of five lawyers in Pennsylvania recently elected to the American Law Institute. The American Law Institute (ALI) is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law.

Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson is an adviser on the ALI's project to update the Model Penal Code's sexual assault provisions.

Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson is an adviser on the ALI’s project to update the Model Penal Code’s sexual assault provisions.

Currently, Fromson serves as an adviser to the American Law Institute’s project to update the Model Penal Code’s sexual assault provisions, which have not been updated since 1962.

ALI drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law that are influential in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.

“It is essential to ALI’s process that each of our projects includes members who are at the top of the legal profession and diverse in every way,” said ALI President Roberta Cooper Ramo. “We rely on our members’ unique perspectives to create discussion that produces balanced work that clarifies the law. It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome these newly elected members to ALI and our law reform projects.”

Fromson’s election to the ALI is the latest of many honors for her lifetime of working in the public interest. In 2015, Fromson earned a prestigious 20/20 Vision Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence.

Fromson joined the Women’s Law Project in 1994. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at Swarthmore College and her J.D. from New York University School of Law.

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 The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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Action Alert: Tell Your Senator to Vote NO on HB1948

Pennsylvania senators are ignoring doctors who warn double abortion ban #HB1948 is medically dangerous and disregarding our expert legal analysis that it is unconstitutional, and convening a rare July session to vote on HB 1948 in the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

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At this point, there’s no other conclusion to draw except that anti-choice members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are obsessed with punishing women for abortion, and jailing doctors who would insist on providing patients the best possible care.

Click here to send an email urging your Senator to vote NO on HB 1948

If passed into law, House Bill 1948 would criminalize almost all abortion by any method after 19 weeks’ gestation, with no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomaly.  In addition to making abortion after 19 weeks a felony, HB 1948 includes an additional provision that attempts to criminalize a procedure known as a D&E at any stage of pregnancy. The D&E abortion procedure is the same procedure that is used to complete a miscarriage, which means some doctors caring for pregnant women experiencing sudden or severe fetal complications would be forced to abandon patients.

For more information and background on HB1948, see this piece written by WLP’s Tara Murtha published at Rewire News and 10 facts about HB 1948.

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 The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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Op-ed: A Decade of Failing Pennsylvania Workers

 

Today marks 10 years since the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted to raise the state minimum wage.

At $7.25 per hour, it is the lowest permitted by federal law.

WLP Managing Attorney Terry L. Fromson wrote an editorial about this unhappy anniversary, and explored the negative affect Pennsylvania’s refusal to bring any of the many minimum wage bills to the floor for a vote has on female workers.

From the piece, published in the Centre Daily Times:

In the past decade, the majority of states have taken steps to raise their minimum wage above the federal minimum, including every state touching our borders. In fact, a minimum-wage worker in our neighboring states of New York and New Jersey can now earn more than twice what their counterparts in Pennsylvania can earn performing a similar job, simply because of ZIP code.

Nearly three-quarters of surveyed Pennsylvanians support raising the minimum wage to at least $10 per hour, as does Gov. Tom Wolf. Yet, committee chairs in both houses refuse to allow any of the many proposed minimum wage bills to the floor for a vote. Stalling a vote does not stop the problem that full-time working Pennsylvanians struggling to make ends meet cannot earn enough money to provide food, housing and clothing for their families.

Women in particular are disadvantaged by Pennsylvania’s failure to act. Women are the sole or primary source of income for 40 percent of households with children in Pennsylvania. They make up two-thirds of the total number of $7.25-an-hour minimum wage workers in Pennsylvania. A single parent of two children working full time, year-round in Pennsylvania earns $14,500 per year, which is more than $4,500 below the official U.S. poverty line. To fill the gap between Pennsylvania’s minimum and a living wage, they often need to rely on government assistance for food and medical care.

Read the rest of the piece here.

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 The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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Open Letter to Pennsylvania Senate Leadership re: HB 1948

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Dear Senators Scarnati, Corman, Costa, Greenleaf and Leach,

The Women’s Law Project is a public interest legal organization that has represented abortion providers in Pennsylvania since the 1970s.

In light of Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, we urge you to remove House Bill 1948 from further consideration.

House Bill 1948 seeks to criminalize almost all abortion by any method after 19 weeks’ gestation, with no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomaly. In addition to making abortion after 19 weeks a felony, HB 1948 includes a provision to criminalize a procedure known as dilation and evacuation at any stage of pregnancy. This is the same procedure that is used to complete a miscarriage. Some doctors caring for pregnant women experiencing sudden or severe fetal complications would be forced to abandon patients in desperate need of care.

In Monday’s landmark Supreme Court decision, the majority of the Supreme Court invalidated Texas’ abortion restrictions because they impose an undue burden on women’s access to abortion and provide “few, if any, health benefits for women.”

If enacted, HB 1948 would inflict even greater harm on the health of Pennsylvania women than House Bill 2 would have inflicted on Texas women. Relevant medical experts such as the Pennsylvania section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Pennsylvania Medical Society strongly oppose this bill.

Under well-established constitutional standards, HB 1948 is quite clearly unconstitutional.

Further, in case after case, the Supreme Court has already ruled that abortion procedure bans that eliminate one of the safest and most common abortion procedures throughout much of pregnancy are unconstitutional.

The Pennsylvania Legislature has far more promising avenues to promote women’s health than to pursue unconstitutional abortion bans that actually would endanger women’s health. For example, in most of Pennsylvania, a pregnant worker can still be fired over a request for a minor, temporary accommodation such as keeping a bottle of water at her work station. Babies suffer when moms are forced to stop breastfeeding because they lose their milk supply after being unjustly denied sanitary, private spaces to express milk in the workplace.

Yet legislation to address these problems, and other initiatives to promote women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania, are stalling due to neglect, while our lawmakers pursue dangerous and unconstitutional abortion bans.

It is time to stop these attacks, and focus on solutions.

 

Very truly yours,

Signature-Carol

Carol E. Tracy, Executive Director

Women’s Law Project

 

Signature-Sue

Susan Frietsche, Senior Attorney

Women’s Law Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tune in at Noon: WLP Discusses Abortion Ruling on WESA-FM

The Women's Law Project rallied with allies from Pennsylvania outside the Supreme Court during Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt arguments on March 2.

The Women’s Law Project rallying outside the Supreme Court on March 2, 2016.

 

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’s admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center regulations in a 5-3 decision written by Justice Stephen Breyer, who concluded that “neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution.”

Listen to Women’s Law Project Senior Attorney Susan Frietsche

discuss the U.S. Supreme Court ruling here

In her powerful concurrence, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited the amicus brief filed by the Women’s Law Project and Women’s Law Project board members Thomas E. Zemaitis, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, and David S. Cohen, a professor of law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University on behalf of ten abortion providers in Pennsylvania.

Justice Ginsburg wrote, “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety.”

So what exactly this ruling will mean for Pennsylvania law and recently proposed abortion bans such as HB 1948?

“It’s premature to predict what impact the ruling will have precisely on Pennsylvania law… But one thing is absolutely sure,” said Frietsche. “Today’s decision should signal to lawmakers that it is no longer open season on abortion rights.”

At noon today, Frietsche will discuss this assertion and more on the show Essential Pittsburgh, airing 90.5 WESA-FM.

You can also listen live online here and join the conversation by calling 412-246-2002.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

 The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Sham Abortion Bans

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Today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’s admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center regulations in a 5-3 decision written by Justice Stephen Breyer. This is a great victory for Whole Woman’s Health, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the women of Texas and everyone who participated in this historic case.

From the New York Times:

“We conclude,” Justice Breyer wrote, “that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Federal Constitution.”

“The Court has affirmed what we already knew,” said Sue Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney at the Women’s Law Project. “Strategically over-regulating healthcare facilities that provide abortion care so that they are forced to close does nothing to protect women’s health, despite the disingenuous claims of anti-abortion lawmakers, in Texas and here in Pennsylvania.”

Indeed, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in her concurrence that it is “beyond rational belief” that such restrictions could genuinely protect the health of women, and that HB2 “would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.”

The facts show these sham restrictions are, in fact, harmful to women’s health. Citing an argument made in the amicus brief filed by the Women’s Law Project and Women’s Law Project board members Thomas E. Zemaitis, an attorney with the Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, and David S. Cohen, a professor of law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University on behalf of ten abortion providers in Pennsylvania, Justice Ginsburg wrote, “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety.”

Today’s decision casts an even more negative light on the recent efforts by Pennsylvania Representative Kathy Rapp (R-Warren) and Senator Michele Brooks (R-Crawford/Erie/Mercer/Warren) to criminalize the safest and most widely accepted method of post-first-trimester abortion.

“These mean-spirited, misguided attacks on women’s health are plainly unconstitutional and they need to stop,” said Frietsche.

To request an interview, contact Tara Murtha at 215-928-5762 or tmurtha@womenslawproject.org.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

 The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

 

 

 

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This morning: Supreme Court to Rule on Significant Abortion Case

The Supreme Court of the United States is currently considering the most important reproductive rights case in decades.

The Supreme Court of the United States is currently considering the most important reproductive rights case in decades.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States will rule on the most significant reproductive rights case in decades.

About Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt: On March 2, the Supreme Court justices heard arguments regarding two provisions of HB2, a Texas law that, under the guise of improving women’s health, is designed to shut down clinics that provide safe, legal abortion services. Since the law was passed in 2013, at least 22 of 41 clinics in Texas have been forced to close their doors.

In reviewing the provisions of HB2, the justices are finally considering the question reproductive rights advocates have been asking for the last several years: If the Constitution protects the right to abortion, how can our courts uphold laws that close down safe abortion providers and thereby deny many women access to care?

The Women’s Law Project submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court on behalf of ten abortion providers in Pennsylvania. Two Women’s Law Project board members–Thomas E. Zemaitis, a partner with the law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, and David S. Cohen, law professor at the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law—joined WLP Senior Staff Attorney Susan Frietsche and former staff attorney Tara R. Pfeifer as co-counsel on the brief.

The perspective of Pennsylvania abortion providers and their legal counsel is acutely relevant to the case, because Texas officials have attempted to justify the provisions in question by distorting the facts of the Kermit Gosnell case, the rogue doctor from Philadelphia who was convicted of three counts of murder and hundreds of other violations of Pennsylvania’s criminal laws in 2013.

Frietsche, Cohen and Pfeifer refuted the argument made by Texas officials in “Preventing the Next Gosnell,” an article published at Slate.com.

Susan Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney at the Western Philadelphia office of the Women’s Law Project, will be available for comment after the ruling.

Frietsche is counsel to abortion providers in Pennsylvania, and adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where she teaches a course called “Reproduction, Sexuality and the Law.”

To request an interview with Sue Frietsche, contact Tara Murtha at 215-928-5762 or tmurtha@womenslawproject.org.

Sign up for WLP’s Action Alerts here. Stay up to date on issues and policy by subscribing to our blog, following us on twitter and liking us on Facebook

The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

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