Weekly Round-Up: April 18th, 2014


  • During Congressional debates over the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, one of the main topics was whether federal and state tax dollars would be used for the purpose of abortion. The compromise was that it would be up to the states to decide, and so far, 26 states, including New York, allow abortion through plans purchased on the Marketplace. However, even in these 26 states, access to information about whether a particular plan covers the cost of abortion is reported to be very hard to find. To read more, click here. (NPR)


  • Charlie Wells explores the issue of college loan debt and divorce in this piece for the Washington Post. “College students who took out loans and earned bachelor’s degrees in 2012 graduated with an average $29,400 in educational debt,” states Wells. The division of the debt will depend on the state where the couple seek a divorce. For example, in some states where one spouse’s debt is viewed as marital property the other spouse may be ordered to provide temporary spousal support based 0n the individual spouse’s ability to pay back the student loans. In New York professional degrees can be considered marital property, according to the Court of Appeals in O’Brien v. O’Brien. ​(Washington Post)


  • In a recent case, In the Matter of the Adoption of Children Whose First Names Are J.J. H.C.,  Justice Barbara Salinitro allowed the adoption of the twin children citing it was in the best interest of the children to be adopted my their biological father’s spouse. The children were conceived based on a surrogacy contract between the mother and the biological father and were born in India. After their birth the children were brought to the United States where they lived with the biological father and his spouse.  The issue in the case was solely if the adoption was allowed since the birth was based on a surrogacy contract because surrogacy contracts are void in NY.  Domestic Relations Law Section 122 declares all surrogacy contracts are void and against public policy.

Juvenile Rights

  • In this interview, Robert Siegel from NPR talks with Law Professor Cara Drinan from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.  She has been tracking state responses to the recent Supreme Court decisions which held that laws mandating that juvenile offenders be sentenced to life without parole for some crimes violated the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The interview notes that some states have not amended their laws to conform to these Supreme Court decisions.