Nov 15 • 11M

Abortion, Every Day (11.15.22)

Leaked audio: Anti-abortion group tells TN lawmakers when to go after IVF & contraception

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Jessica Valenti
Daily audio updates & commentary on abortion in the United States.
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In the states…

Let’s start with good news: Georgia’s abortion ban has been overturned and ruled unconstitutional! The judge’s decision ruled that the law—which banned abortion at six weeks—violated the state constitution’s right to privacy and liberty by forcing women to remain pregnant and give birth. A spokesperson for Georgia’s attorney general said they would be seeking an appeal to the decision immediately.

Now onto the bad and the wild. First, the wild. ProPublica has gotten ahold of audio from a strategy session meeting of Tennessee lawmakers and major anti-abortion groups. As you probably already know, Tennessee has come under fire for their extreme abortion ban which doesn’t even have an exception for women’s lives: Doctors are expected to break the law and then affirmatively prove that they had cause to break it. In response, some state lawmakers have talked about ‘softening’ the legislation; the anti-abortion groups on this call are trying to convince them not to.

Here is Katie Glenn, state policy director at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, for example, complimenting Tennessee for their extreme affirmative defense mandate:

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The other controversial piece of Tennessee’s law has been questions over whether IVF doctors would be prosecuted. The state attorney general came out recently to promise that IVF wouldn’t be impacted, but here is Stephen Billy, the vice president of state affairs for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, telling lawmakers that they just need to wait a little bit before going after fertility doctors (and contraception??):

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There is so much more in the piece: Read the whole thing. But the short version is, they don’t give a fuck about women or our lives, and they want these laws to be as extreme as possible.

Now onto some horrible, but not unexpected news: I told you last week about a woman who wrote a letter to the editor about her daughter who was denied care in Ohio and nearly died. Well, it looks like her daughter has gone to the press. Christina Zielke is from Washington, DC, but was in the state for her brother’s wedding. She had found out a few weeks prior that her pregnancy was ending in a miscarriage, but she had just started bleeding once she got to Ohio—and heavily. But even though an ultrasound showed no heartbeat and Christina was filling up diapers with blood, the hospital emergency room refused to treat her. Christina told NPR, “They said they needed to prove there was no fetal development. I was told that I could come back in two days for a repeat hormone test to confirm I was miscarrying.”

They didn’t even change course when Christina told them she had lab confirmation from her DC doctor that she was miscarrying.

After being sent home, she continued to bleed so heavily that she got into an empty bathtub and started taking photos showing that the bottom of the tub filled with blood, “just trying to prove what was happening, because I felt like I wasn't believed.” Then this happened:

“‘That's when I started to feel the world slip away,’ she says. ‘I looked at him and I said, 'I don't think I'm okay.’

She'd lost so much blood, so quickly, her blood pressure had plummeted. [Her husband'] watched as her eyes rolled back. Her body went limp – she lost consciousness. He caught her neck so she didn't bang her head against the tub. ‘I thought she was a goner,’ he says.”

Her family called 911 and she was taken back to the emergency room where she was finally given a D&C. The hospital gave her the option to stay overnight, but she chose to go home because “it wasn’t a place I felt safe.” I fucking bet.

Anti-abortion states are not safe for anyone who can get pregnant or who is pregnant. Period.

There’s a huge difference between how the mainstream media covers abortion, and how I do. Abortion, Every Day cuts through the bullshit—I know there’s no ‘both sides’ to our lives and freedom. To support unapologetic feminist media, and to help it keep growing, please consider signing up for a paid subscription.

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments on the state’s abortion ban today, just a week after voters there shot down an anti-abortion ballot measure. GOP Solicitor General Matthew Kuhn argued that the results of that ballot measure should play no role in the case, but Deputy Chief Justice Lisabeth Hughes responded that the measure “is the purest form of democracy.” She said, “it is the people, themselves, speaking.” Kuhn also had a hard time arguing that the ban’s exception for women’s lives was clear. From Justice Michelle Keller, who used to be a nurse:

“I think you’ve misrepresented the exemption for the life of the mother. I don’t know what you told the medical community. But I do know that physicians all over the commonwealth are calling their risk managers and hospital lawyers not knowing what to do. And sometimes the risk managers and lawyers aren’t available at 3 in the morning to give a cogent answer. And in those situations, seconds and minutes matter.”

I’ll keep you updated as the arguments move forward.

The Oklahoma State Medical Association is lobbying Republicans in the state to revise their abortion laws and add in exceptions—not only because of how strict and cruel they are, but because of what it will mean for the future of doctors in the state. Namely, that there might not be any. From a representative for the group:

“If you continue to lose OBs at the rate we’re going to be losing them, where will Oklahoma be? How are you going to recruit business to this state if there are no doctors to deliver babies?”

Nebraska Public Media looks at the small towns in the state passing town ordinances to ban abortions; New Jersey lawmakers are looking to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution; Louisiana is reviving a law saying that abortion providers need to have hospital admitting privileges (abortion is banned in the state); and a federal appellate court (with conservative appointees) has ruled that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton does not have to testify in an abortion-related case, a big win for the asshole.

In the nation…

President Joe Biden is taking some deserved heat for saying he doesn’t think Americans “can expect much of anything other than we’re going to maintain our positions” on abortion. He said, “I don’t think there’s enough votes to codify [Roe] unless something happens unusual in the House.” The incredible Renee Bracey Sherman has an op-ed that skewers that defeatist sentiment that is definitely worth reading.

An advocacy organization of fertility doctors are gearing up for a fight against personhood laws and abortion bans—knowing that legislating restricting or banning abortion will absolutely impact their work. Barb Collura, the president of RESOLVE, says that Republicans are not going to explicitly ban IVF, but that they will be “savvier, smarter and maybe sneakier about how they do this.” (As she’s right, look at what SBA Pro-Life America said to Tennessee lawmakers!)

Ms. magazine says, “It Wasn’t Just ‘the Economy Stupid’—It Was Abortion,”; VICE looks at whether abortion bans are killing people’s sex drives; and a former Ms. South Carolina is speaking up about her experience with a fetal abnormality and having treatment delayed because of abortion restrictions.

Listen up…

Iowa Public Radio has a segment on how the fight over abortion has reignited a conversation about a permanent child tax credit; and Wisconsin Public Radio has a deep-dive into the midterms and abortion.

What conservatives are saying…

Conservative wacko Charlie Kirk is blaming Sen. Lindsey Graham for Republicans’ midterm losses, saying he “torpedoed the midterms with his foolish and reckless and baseless announcement about a federal abortion ban this close to the election.” I mean, it didn’t help—that’s for sure! But maybe the issue isn’t the timing of the announcement, but the fact that Americans don’t want abortion to be banned at all!

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