Abortion, Every Day (11.16.23)
Nebraska moves forward with pro-choice ballot measure
Click on section headers to skip ahead in the newsletter: In the States, In the Nation, Global News Update, Stats & Studies
In the States
Ohio Republicans are still at it! After a group of GOP lawmakers put out a press release threatening to strip the judiciary of their power to enforce Issue 1, another Republican has come out to suggest a ‘compromise’. The Ohio Capital Journal reports that Senate President Matt Huffman floated the idea of passing a 15-week ban: “People mentioned the 15 weeks and the exceptions and things like that.”
When a reporter asked Huffman if that would be going against the will of the people, he responded, “I don’t know… I think it’s a discussion that is in the future.”
Ohioans didn’t vote for a 15-week ban, they voted for an end to government interference in their bodies. What the state GOP is doing right now demonstrates just how little they care about those voices and votes.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court is considering what the Issue 1 vote means for the state’s 6-week abortion ban. (The amendment doesn’t automatically repeal anti-abortion laws; each one has to work its way through the courts.) The state Attorney General’s office has until Dec. 7 to make their argument to the Court.
In other ballot measure news, Nebraska abortion rights advocates are moving ahead with their pro-choice amendment. The coalition pushing for the measure, Protect Our Rights, is comprised of Planned Parenthood, the ACLU of Nebraska, the Women’s Fund, and I Be Black Girl.
The measure will seek to protect abortion right until ‘viability’, an arbitrary and fraught standard. (There has been a lot of pro-choice conflict in multiple states over language on limits.) From Ashlei Spivey, founder of I Be Black Girl, at the Nebraska Examiner:
“Unlike the state officials working to totally ban abortion, we’re elevating the voices and lived experiences of Nebraskans who believe that pregnant people should be able to access needed care with compassion and privacy, free from political interference. This amendment will ensure that these personal decisions stay with Nebraskans—not politicians.”
What’s notable is that anti-abortion groups in the state are repeating the talking points we saw fail miserably in Ohio. Karen Bowling, executive director of Nebraska Family Alliance, for example, called the measure an “evisceration of parental rights.” I’ll be watching this one closely.
Speaking of pro-choice ballot measures with ‘viability’ standards: Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is still petitioning the state Supreme Court to reject the language of the proposed abortion rights amendment. Moody claims that the ‘viability’ standard would allow doctors to determine whether or not a pregnancy is viable, and whether or not a pregnant person’s health is in danger. She argued in a filing this week that abortion providers would be “serving as their own regulators.”
But let’s be serious: Who would you rather have make a determination about your pregnancy: a politician or a doctor? Certainly not Ashley Fucking Moody.
North Carolina abortion rates are sharply declining—data that’s being applauded by Republicans, even though all it means is that people haven’t been able to get the care that they need. We’re seeing these kinds of decreases in any state with an abortion ban. The Guttmacher Institute reports this week, for example, that there were zero abortions performed in Indiana in August—a consequence of the state’s near-total abortion ban. That number, of course, doesn’t account for self-managed abortions, or how many people traveled to nearby states for care. Guttmacher points out that bordering states where abortion is legal—Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio—all saw increases in the number of abortions performed.
Speaking of Indiana, guess who showed up in front of the state Supreme Court this week? Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova joined students and faculty from Indiana University for a performance art protest. Did I cry? Sure did! Watch below:
I asked earlier this week if abortion could save democracy, pointing to how citizens in multiple states were asking why they couldn’t put abortion on the ballot in the same way Ohio voters did. They’ve been reaching out to lawmakers and newspapers, trying to find out how they can have a direct say on the issue. This week, yet another publication—this time in Tennessee—had to explain to its readers why they couldn’t do what Ohio did. (Tennessee, like half of the states in the country, doesn’t have citizen-led initiatives.)
Virginia Democrats are also hearing from abortion rights advocates and voters who want to see abortion on the ballot. Here’s the thing: Voters are going to keep asking these questions, and pushing for a direct say on abortion rights. And Republicans, who seem woefully unprepared for that reality, really don’t have a good answer. You can read my column below for more:
Finally, I told you earlier this week that Kentucky lawmakers are considering adding exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s abortion ban—a move that comes after Gov. Andy Beshear won re-election calling for just that. Today, Angela Cooper of the ACLU of Kentucky says, “Exceptions for rape and incest are the minimum…It’s really not enough.” Very much agreed.
The Guardian on Ohio Republicans’ push for tax credits for donations to anti-abortion centers;
Mother Jones on Tennessee’s Allie Phillips and her run for office;
The legal challenge to Wyoming’s abortion bans are moving full steam ahead;
And KFF Health News on the states that are seeking to restore and protect abortion rights using ballot measures.
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In the Nation
NPR with where the Republican presidential candidates stand on abortion rights;
Professors David S. Cohen and Carole Joffe on how the Supreme Court ended Roe but it did not end abortion;
Historian and law professor Mary Ziegler on how the history of the Comstock Act gives us a roadmap of what the enforcement of extreme anti-abortion measures could look like;
And NowThis News on why Republicans can’t stop talking about so-called ‘partial-birth abortion.’
Global News Update
There has been a distressing increase in abortion-related prosecutions in the UK recently. Evidence shows that the police there have been using data from period tracking apps—and that they’re trying to use abortion-pill testing to find traces of mifepristone and misoprostol in blood samples. A terrifying look of what’s to come.
A prominent member of Russia’s government is calling for an abortion ban in the face of the war in Ukraine. Within the past few months, many private clinics across the country have stopped providing abortions, the Health Ministry has released guidelines for doctors to try to dissuade their patients from pursuing abortion care, new regulations are hindering access to emergency contraceptives, and regional lawmakers are leading efforts to ban abortion locally.
Michele Rivkin-Fish, an anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told the AP that “It’s clear that there is a gradual erosion of abortion access and rights in Russia, and this is similar to what has taken place in the U.S.”
Russian activists have pushed back against the recent movement to further restrict abortion, including Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist activist group, who filmed a pro-abortion video in front of the Indiana Supreme Court this week.
A new Polish coalition in parliament announced two bills that would decriminalize abortion and lift the country’s current near-total ban. The bills have a long way to go before they become law (and there is some talk about a potential national referendum on abortion rights), however, Krzysztof Gawkowski, leader of the Left’s parliamentary caucus, told reporters, “We will not back down from our demands regarding abortion.”
If you missed my prediction on what’s next for Trump and abortion rights, read it here:
Stats & Studies
New polling from Data for Progress finds that a majority of voters—including 72% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans—oppose Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s block on military promotions and believe they should be nominated despite their opinions on the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
The Washington Post reports that data from last week’s election shows that personal stories about abortion juxtaposed with Republicans’ anti-abortion extremism were those that made the biggest impact.
And a new study from Harvard Medical School shows that abortion restrictions are linked to increases in children entering foster care.