Nov 22 • 16M

Abortion, Every Day (11.22.22)

Oklahoma moves forward with pro-choice ballot measure

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

Tennessee Republicans say they’re considering amending the state’s abortion ban to include exceptions for a woman’s life. (Writing that sentence gives me a headache.) The Tennessee Lookout reports that State Sen. Ferrell Haile declined to say whether they were also looking at rape and incest exceptions, and would just say that Republicans were in the “examination phase.” The examination phase of deciding whether to have an exception for women’s lives. Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Lee says he is “satisfied” with the law as it is.

Republicans in Kentucky are also considering adding in exceptions to their abortion ban, likely in response to the pro-choice ballot measure victory. Conservatives have obviously seen the writing on the wall and are hoping that pushing a few exceptions our way will calm down voters. In fact, that strategy isn’t limited to anti-abortion states: Illinois Republican State Sen. Jason Barickman says that the GOP needs to ease up on abortion to win over voters, and “the fact we are unwilling to even say that has created among many, especially women, an unwillingness to even entertain a Republican as a vote.” We can’t let them get away with convincing voters that they’re ‘softening’ on abortion, because as I’ve written many times before, exceptions don’t work.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma abortion rights advocates are moving ahead with a ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, State Question 828. Last night, State Rep. Mickey Dollens announced the new initiative petition, which would amend Oklahoma’s constitution to “establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility.” The ballot measure would let the state regulate abortion after fetal viability (which would be determined on a case-by-case basis by a doctor), and ban the prosecution of anyone who obtains or provides an abortion.

Indiana abortion provider Dr. Caitlin Bernard—who treated the 10 year-old rape victim from Ohiotestified yesterday in a court hearing over the Indiana Attorney General’s attempts to subpoena her patients’ private medical records. As a reminder: AG Todd Rokita has been using the power of the state to harass Dr. Bernard after she went public about the girl’s case as an example of the consequences of abortion bans. Rokita’s office claimed that Dr. Bernard didn’t properly report the rape (she did) and is now seeking her patients’ medical records as part of an intimidation campaign. The move is meant to have a chilling effect against any doctor who might consider coming forward about abortion bans. What’s especially frustrating is that the state is shrouding their attacks as an attempt to protect the child’s privacy, claiming that Dr. Bernard was using the girls’s case to “further her own political agenda.” Unbelievable.

On Friday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp asked the state supreme court to allow the enforcement of the state abortion ban while the court considers their appeal. Also in Georgia, fertility doctors and advocates are worried about how the state ban will impact IVF. While Republicans continually claim that their laws wouldn’t ban fertility treatments—they’re telling a lot of lies by omission. (Just as Mike Pence did this weekend.) Because while the GOP might not outright ban IVF, they will almost certainly go after particular pieces of the IVF process: like discarding unused embryos or selective reduction. At least Georgia Right to Life, as horrible as they are, were honest when asked in the article.

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Josh Kaul—who filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion ban—said that it might be months before anything happens thanks to slow-moving courts. In the meantime, women in the state are being denied vital health care. In response to the ban, Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin has expanded their services around birth control.

North Dakota’s attorney general’s office is pushing back against the block against the state’s abortion ban, arguing that the judge didn’t use a “rational mental process” when making his decision. (?!!) The state Supreme Court will hear arguments next week on whether the block should remain in place.

Axios has more info on what’s happening in Bristol, Virginia, where officials passed a resolution banning abortion clinics from opening up in the town—a move made in direct response to an abortion clinic opening there earlier this summer. It’s part of the anti-choice movement’s broader strategy to ban abortion in small towns in pro-choice states.

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New Jersey activists have asked Democrats there to hold off on pushing to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. They say reproductive rights are safe in the state—and that money and energy would better be spent in anti-choice states. New Jersey passed the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act earlier this year, and Planned Parenthood of New Jersey Executive Director Jackie Cornell says, “additionally, our state benefits from nearly 40 years of state Supreme Court precedent protecting abortion rights.”

Some quick hits: A look at the abortion law in states surrounding safe haven Illinois; the University of Massachusetts now offers abortion medication; Florida anti-abortion activists are planning a day of rallies at the state capitol today to push legislators to pass a total abortion ban; and NPR looks at how Republicans’ state supreme court wins in Ohio and North Carolina could change state policies around abortion.

In the nation…

In response to The New York Times article revealing that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leaked the Hobby Lobby decision to anti-abortion activists, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dick Durbin, says the committee is “reviewing these serious allegations.” Two other Democrats on courts subcommittees, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Hank Johnson, released a statement calling the allegations “another black mark on the Supreme Court’s increasingly marred ethical record.”

A group of ten state attorneys general have written a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook pushing the company to adopt stronger privacy controls for third-party apps that collect reproductive health data. The letter asks Apple to ensure that apps delete nonessential information and make clear to users what exactly they’re signing up for—and that their info could be shared with law enforcement, or used by crisis pregnancy centers for targeted advertising.

A survey of rheumatology patients shows that more than half have had a difficult time obtaining methotrexate, a common arthritis medication, since Roe was overturned because of beliefs that it could end a pregnancy. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they experienced a delay by pharmacists in filling their prescriptions.

American women have spent their lives dealing with medical sexism: judgement around our sexual health, doctors who ignore our pain or who dismiss our physical symptoms as simple anxiety. This is especially true for women of color, who are doubly ignored or mistreated. Now, Kaiser Health News says that history of medical mistreatment—in particular, the way that women of color have been pushed into long-term or permanent forms of birth control—have made it all the more difficult for family planning programs. Providers say that the targeting of abortion rights have exacerbated the issue, and so they’re working carefully to ensure that women feel like they have as much control as possible over their health.

Some Republicans are pushing President Biden to have the U.S. sign onto a resolution that declares there’s no international right to abortion. The “Geneva Consensus Declaration (GCD)” sounds very fancy and global but it’s actually the brainchild of longtime abstinence-only education advocate Valerie Huber. Huber worked for the Department of Health and Human Services under Trump, where she issued guidance pushing the “rhythm method” over actual birth control. (Huber was also suspended from her former position at the Ohio Department of Health after an ethics investigation.)

Amy Littlefield at The New York Times writes about the lessons of the midterms and abortion, and offers advice on how Democrats can continue mobilizing voters; over at Jezebel, a more detailed look at Spotify’s decision to reject ads about abortion; and while I’ve shared lots of articles about Elevated Access, the organization of volunteer pilots who fly women who need abortions into states where it’s legal, I never get tired of reading them.

Listen up…

Last week, I told you about the American Medical Association’s remarkable statement on abortion rights: They changed their ethical guidelines to say that patient care must come first, which may mean breaking the law in some states. Today, Morning Edition at NPR has a segment on how doctors are dealing with abortion bans—and what it might mean for physicians who provide abortions as a form of civil disobedience.

You love to see it…

Abortion rights organizations We Testify and Mayday Health have created a video to demystify medication abortion, featuring different people talking about their experience. I really, really appreciate videos like this that are both normalizing and honest.

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