Abortion, Every Day (11.17.23)
Anti-abortion leader talks about what women "deserve"
The latest in Anti-Choice Hypocrisy will blow your socks off. In Ohio, while the GOP keeps up their attacks on democracy, Planned Parenthood plans an expansion. In the States, ballot measure news out of Nebraska, Missouri and Virginia. In the Nation, Grace explains how the gov’t shutdown has been avoided. An ode to Rebecca Traister (and muppets) in Required Reading. And in Keep An Eye On, I look at the anti-abortion attacks on everyday citizens.
Let’s start with some well-justified rage: During a Heritage Foundation panel about abortion medication, Christina Francis, CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) told all sorts of (expected) lies about the pills—including repeating dubious data about how dangerous they are. But the thing that irritated the shit out of me was when she spoke directly to women about abortion medication, saying, “You deserve much better, and you should demand much better.”
Since Francis cares so much about what women deserve, let’s talk for a minute about AAPLOG and what they want for women. This is a group that is directing doctors to lie to women who are given fatal fetal diagnoses, and tell them that the condition isn’t fatal but ‘potentially life-limiting.” Or that their nonviable fetuses are “pre-viable.” The goal is to manipulate women into carrying doomed pregnancies to term.
Is that what women “deserve”?
AAPLOG also recommends that in cases of dangerous pregnancy complications, like a massive placental abruption, women should be forced to labor for up to 24 hours so that they can deliver “an intact fetal body.” If the patient takes a turn for the worse, don’t worry—AAPLOG says you don’t need an abortion, just blood transfusions in the ICU.
Maybe this is what Francis meant women “deserve.” I would love to hear her explain.
So much is going on in Ohio post-Issue 1 that we need a new section. The Guardian has a piece today about the state GOP’s efforts to undermine democracy and stop the abortion rights amendment that voters passed last week. (There’s some background on the Republican attacks on Issue 1 in yesterday’s newsletter.) Democratic house minority leader, Allison Russo, told reporters that while the moves to stop the pro-choice amendment is coming from a “far right faction” of the Republican caucus, that faction is gaining increasing power.
“It just speaks to how this body has become more and more extreme,” Russo said. And this, from Kayla Griffin, state director of All Voting Is Local, is so incredibly important.
“The threat of election subversion is just as powerful as subversion itself, because it erodes trust and makes people question whether or not they want to participate—whether or not their vote will be counted, [and] whether after it’s counted, if it will actually be respected.”
I can’t imagine any of this is going to help Republicans in elections moving forward. Related: Cincinnati’s NPR station WVXU reports on what the Issue 1 election might meant for Republican candidates in the March 2024 primary.
And remember: the Ohio state Supreme Court is considering how the Issue 1 vote impacts the state’s 6-week abortion ban (which is currently blocked). In the wake of the pro-choice measure passing, each anti-abortion law will have to be repealed individually through the courts.
While the Ohio GOP tries to overturn the will of voters, Planned Parenthood is planning their expansion in the state. Axios reports that in a virtual town hall, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, Erica Wilson-Domer, said that they’re hoping the new amendment will make it easier to recruit and retain OBGYNs and “providers that want to come to Ohio knowing that reproductive rights have been enshrined in the constitution here.” Wilson-Domer also said that the group is planning on how they’ll handle an influx of out-of-state patients from bordering states of Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia:
“There is no awareness here that the people of Ohio are sovereign and that their vote to amend the State Constitution holds greater authority than the judgment of a small group of legislators. This group may not like the fact that Ohioans have declared the Republican abortion ban null and void, but that is democracy. If these lawmakers want to advance their efforts to restrict abortion, they first need to persuade the people.” - Jamelle Bouie, The New York Times
In the States
Lots of ballot measure news, per usual: The Nebraska Examiner has more on the pro-choice amendment being proposed in Nebraska, and the response from anti-abortion groups. As I mentioned yesterday, anti-choicers are already repeating the ‘parental rights’ talking points that failed in Ohio. And Gov. Jim Pillen claimed the law would allow abortion throughout pregnancy. In fact, the measure has a ‘viability’ standard—which has been a point of contention among pro-choice activists.
The other messaging we saw out of Nebraska was the idea that Republicans had already “compromised” by passing a 12-week abortion ban. “That isn’t enough for the abortion industry and activists who are trying to write second- and third-trimester abortions into our constitution,” said Sandy Danek of Nebraska Right to Life. And check this out, from Gov. Pillen’s release:
“[The amendment] is totally out of step with the pro-life principles of the overwhelming majority of Nebraskans, whose representatives last session passed a strong and reasonable 12-week abortion ban with common sense exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother.”
All of our favorite anti-abortion Bingo terms! As I’ve written so many times before, 12-week bans and other so-called ‘compromises’ are bullshit. They still make it impossible to get care, even before 12 weeks (just look at what’s happened in North Carolina since their 12-week ban was enacted). And politically, they allow Republicans to limit access while painting Democrats as extremists if we don’t accept their generous ‘compromise’—even when the majority of voters are with us.
In any case, I expect to see lots more of this compromise talk in other states, so let's keep an eye out together.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft is still trying to impose a biased ballot summary on a pro-choice amendment likely be in front of voters in 2024. Ashcroft, who is also running for governor, is appealing to the state Supreme Court in an effort to force the summary in front of voters. (As a reminder, the summary claims that the amendment would allow for “dangerous, unregulated, and unrestricted abortions, from conception to live birth, without requiring a medical license or potentially being subject to medical malpractice.”)
In better ballot measure news, Virginia Senate Minority Leader Sen. Scott Surovell says that a pro-choice ballot amendment could be possible in the state. I’ll keep you updated as I find out more.
Meanwhile, Republicans continue to be scared shitless by abortion rights: in North Carolina, gubernatorial candidate Bill Graham is staying mum on abortion, with nothing about the issue on his campaign website and a full-blown pivot from his campaign team.
Paul Shumaker, a spokesperson for Graham, said that the former prosecutor doesn’t have anything on the site because he doesn’t plan on prioritizing any new abortion laws: “Bill Graham is pro-life and Bill Graham feels like the legislature has done an adequate job of addressing that issue.” Shumaker also declined to answer whether Graham would support a stricter law. (Abortions are banned in North Carolina after 12 weeks with ‘exceptions’.)
This tactic on abortion might also be a way for Graham to set himself apart from his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who has been vocally anti-abortion. Robinson has called abortion murder ad said he would support a total ban.
I told you this week about the absolutely bonkers guidance being considered by the Iowa Board of Medicine around how doctors should adhere to a 6-week abortion ban, should it be enacted. (The law is currently blocked.) What’s especially horrific is the way the state wants doctors to interrogate rape victims in order to determine whether or not they’re really victims. In a letter to the editor at the Des Moines Register, dozens of OBGYNs and other Iowa doctors write that the guidance would “jeopardize the physician-patient relationship by demanding horrifying details.”
I’ll have more on this in the coming days, because it really is just a total nightmare—and a scary look at what’s to come in other states with ‘exceptions’.
Finally, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach is appealing a ruling that blocked enforcement of several anti-abortion laws, including a 24-hour waiting period. And you’re gonna love his office’s statement about it:
“The attorney general has a responsibility to protect women against radicals who want to deny them the ability to make informed decisions about their own health and the welfare of their babies.”
So he wants to protect women from…themselves? And their own ability to make a decision? Cool, glad we’re clear.
CBS News has more on the abortion protections making their way through the Pennsylvania legislature, including a shield law that’s passed the state House;
Essence on how Black legislators are making history in Virginia’s new Democratic majority legislature;
A panel of Latino activists in Maryland held an event to talk about access to reproductive health care in the state and how it goes beyond just abortion;
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In the Nation
A government shutdown has been averted for now, after Biden signed the critical resolution passed by the Republican-led House and the Democratic-led Senate. In the meantime, all eyes will be on House Speaker Mike Johnson’s spending proposals duking it out in the House—which are currently rife with anti-abortion and anti-trans provisions.
Senate and congressional elections are heating up during the last fundraising quarter before campaigns hit the ground running in January 2024, and abortion is going to be an incredibly important part of that landscape. After the abortion rights win in Ohio, for example, eyes are on the state’s upcoming Senate race. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents, has pushed to make abortion a central part of the conversation around his upcoming Senate race. All three Republican candidates vying for the seat have come out in support of a national abortion ban.
Abortion groups are also weighing in on the highly competitive Senate seat in California. This week Reproductive Freedom for All, formerly NARAL Pro-Choice America, endorsed Rep. Barbara Lee for the late-Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s former seat. From the organization’s president, Mini Timmaraju:
“She has been more than an advocate and a leader for reproductive freedom—she has been a champion, pushing her caucus to fight for stronger protections for our rights and greater access to abortion care.”
If you missed AED’s exclusive story earlier today about Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey straight up lying about the religious freedom challenge to the state’s abortion ban, check it out below. But there’s something else to know about Bailey: He’s the same Attorney General who filed a motion, alongside the Kansas and Idaho AGs, to intervene in the Texas lawsuit seeking to ban mifepristone. That’s the motion we reported on earlier this week (though LawDork did it better) which could cause significant delays in the case.
The anti-abortion activists who were found guilty of violating the FACE Act were unsuccessful in their attempts to overturn their convictions;
The anti-abortion “machismo” that is leading Republicans to fight (almost literally) in Congress;
NowThis with where the term ‘pro-life’ came from;
And some global news: A closely contested presidential election is coming to Argentina Tuesday that could determine future abortion access in the country.
For while they have perhaps finally absorbed the basic remedial lesson—abortion wins elections—the danger heading into the federal crucible of 2024 is that the party will metabolize it only in the crudest form: Abortion wins elections. If, for years, my dismay was with Democrats who spoke about abortion as if they were Sam the Eagle Muppet —stilted and faintly put off—I now cringe imagining the party’s 2024 slate of Animals, banging drums with ultrasound wands while chanting “Abortion!” over and over again.
It’s going to be difficult to watch politicians talk about abortion from now on without imagining which muppet they’d be.
Keep An Eye On
Late last year, I told you about the Notre Dame professor who was targeted by the right wing media machine for having the temerity to put a sign on her office door that said this: “This is a SAFE SPACE to get help and information on ALL Healthcare issues and access—confidentially with care and compassion.” The attack—sparked by an article in the student newspaper—led to professor Tamara Kay being harassed and threatened for months.
“In the days before the Rover article appeared, a business-school professor texted a student reporter that ‘there needs to be a coordinated assault on the Tamara Kay issue.’ The president of an alumni group emailed the Notre Dame president, the provost, and Kay’s dean, saying he and other members of their group hoped Kay would soon no longer be on the Notre Dame faculty. And students hatched an effort to ‘entrap’ Kay, she alleges, by asking her for contraception under false pretenses.”
It’s not just that multiple professors encouraged the school newspaper to write about the sign on Kay’s daughter and that alumni groups tried to get her fired—the school newspaper coordinated with other students on campus to come up with a list of conservative outlets to reach out to with the story, including the National Review, the Daily Wire, and Breitbart.
So this was very much a coordinated harassment campaign. Kay is suing the student newspaper for defamation.