Category: Attorneys


EU Visa Liberalization – Unequal Outsiders in the Eyes of the EU

Article 18 of the TFEU states that, “Any discrimination on the grounds of nationality shall be prohibited.”  A look at the EU’s recent decisions regarding visa restrictions for third-country nationals makes it clear, however, that this policy can be superseded by Article 77 of the TFEU which vests the European Parliament and the Council with decision-making power regarding the granting of visas to third country nationals. An example of this can be seen in the European Commission’s recent proposal to the European Parliament and Council to add sixteen island nations to the visa-free list, five countries from the Caribbean and eleven from the Pacific islands (see also).  This proposal would allow citizens with a valid passport from these nations to travel within the EU for a period of up to ninety days without the need for a visa.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and leader for this proposal articulated the rationale behind such measures: “To facilitate travelling for tourists willing to visit Europe, and to spend their time and money, is crucial for our economy, and this is particularly important in a time of crisis, like the one that we are experiencing now.”  A look at the numbers (see IP/12/1177) indicates just how important tourism is to the European Union economy – in 2011, tourism amounted to foreign visitor spending of over €330 billion in 2011 and is estimated to exceed €427 billion by 2022 under the current visa regulations.  Facilitation of tourism through liberalized visa regulations could potentially boost spending by as much as €60 billion.

While this proposal probably came as welcome news to the citizens on the visa-free list, one cannot imagine that all other countries would necessarily share the enthusiasm.  Citizens of Turkey have in the past felt particularly discriminated against by the EU’s visa regulations towards them and have previously petitioned the Commission to adopt a long-term plan to liberalize the EU-Turkey visa requirements. Currently, the visa regulations between the two countries are notably lopsided, with Turkey allowing entry to EU citizens through the simple purchase of a low-cost visa at the border but the EU requiring significantly more extensive documentation, such as airline reservations, proof of insurance and proof of income, and even then, does not ensure entry.  Given the size of the Turkish economy as compared to that of any of the newly proposed island states, it is apparent that economic stimulus was not the only factor at play in the Commission’s proposal.  The EU Commission’s silence with regard to Turkey in this most recent proposal speaks louder than words ever could – that equality and economy must at times yield more immediate concerns.

The Intersection of Race, Class and Abortion Politics

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion provider, has been charged with eight counts of murder. It is important to note that he is charged with killing newborn babies, as well as a woman he overmedicated. Ironically, he was being investigated for dispensing illegal drug prescriptions, but when authorities visited his clinic, The Women’s Medical Society, they encountered what a witness described as “a house of horrors”, which then led to a yearlong investigation of the clinic. The end result was an almost 300-page grand-jury report .

What is most interesting is that this doctor’s main patients were low-income women of color and immigrant women. It does not sound like a stretch of the imagination to wonder if he’s been able to get away with his “torture chamber” for as long as he has because of the neighborhood he was in and the desperate nature of the women who came to him. This is not to imply that wealthy or middle-class women might not find themselves with a pregnancy they do not want to carry to term, just that they might have more options and probably would not rely on Dr. Gosnell.  According to District Attorney Seth Williams, when a more affluent or white woman had an appointment, she was brought to a cleaner, more presentable portion of the clinic than the patients of color or poor patients.

I am interested in this case not because I believe abortions are “wrong” or “bad,” but because of what the allegations (if proved true) show about who has access to quality and safe healthcare(including, but not limited to, abortions) and who does not. The issue here is that Dr. Gosnell was NOT performing the medically and legally sanctioned forms of abortion (up to the 3rd trimester), but in fact all Dr. Gosnell was doing was inducing premature labor, then killing the premature baby. In Roe v. Wade , the Supreme Court held that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion up to the viability stage, which is medically determined at 24 weeks. It seems evident Dr. Gosnell was not doing first or second trimester abortions. While the trial will hopefully bring closure to a horrid situation, it exposes issues that hopefully the feminist and legal community of the 21st century can address-namely, reproductive violence, which is a threat to all women.

Another Member of the FPCBA (Female Pop Culture Bar Association)

NBC is offering up a new legal series, Harry’s Law, starring Oscar winner Kathy Bates. It debuts January 17 at 10 p.m. (9 Central time). The show’s premise is that Bates, as Harriet (Harry) Korn, departs her job as a corporate lawyer at an upscale firm and starts over as a sole practitioner, seeking justice for the downtrodden and those who have no voice in the legal system. It’s a David E. Kelley show, so we can expect edgy issues and quirky characters. But will this female legal eagle be any different from any of the other women attorneys we’ve seen on the small screen?

For more about women lawyers on TV, see among other articles Women Lawyers On TV Moving Closer To Reality.

Drop Dead Diva: Freeze the Day Considers Beating Disease with a Big Freeze

In the season finale of Drop Dead Diva, which aired on Lifetime Sunday 08/29/2010 at 9 PM EST, attorneys Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott) and Grayson Kent (Jackson Hurst) face a formidable legal challenge when they are approached by a noted stem cell researcher with an unorthodox request. After revealing to the pair that she has been diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a degenerative nerve disorder, she drops the bombshell that she hopes to undergo a cryopreservation procedure while she is still alive in order to preserve her body before the degenerative effects of the disease take their toll. (For more information on Huntington’s Disease, see here. (For more information on cryonics, see here.) What Bingum and Kent have to figure out is how to convince a judge to issue or court order authorizing the procedure in a state where physician-assisted suicide is against the law.

The lawyers argue that crypreservation does not constitute physician-assisted suicide because the procedure requires only the stopping of their client’s heart, which they contend is not synonymous with causing her death. (For a discussion of legal death, see Barber v. Superior Court. Bingum points out that turtles are able to survive the temporary stopping of their hearts as are heart surgery patients, and insists that cryopreservation involves the same process, but for an extended period of time until reanimation can be performed sometime in the future., 147 Cal. App. 3d 1006 (1983)

Although the judge buys Bingum’s argument and grants the court order, back in the real world, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, reached a different conclusion when considering very similar facts in Donaldson v. Lungren. In that case, when plaintiff Donaldson, who was suffering from a malignant brain tumor, sought to undergo pre-mortem cryopreservation, the Court of Appeal refused to grant injunctive relief authorizing the procedure. The Court rejected the argument that Donaldson had a constitutionally protected right to pre-mortem cryopreservation under the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and expression. (For the text of the First Amendment, see here.. 2 Cal. App. 4th 1614 (1992)

The episode serves as a cautionary tale as it includes an unexpected twist. After the judge issues the court order, the lawyers discover that their client lied about her diagnosis and is not actually sick. The full episode of the season finale of Drop Dead Diva is available for online viewing here.


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