In the states…
This is wildly disgusting: A federal appeals court has just reinstated an Indiana law requiring abortion clinics to either bury or cremate the products of conception. (They say ‘fetal remains’ but let’s be specific: Many abortions happen before there even is a fetus.) A previous ruling pointed out that the law infringed on women’s religious rights. Also in Indiana, a recent survey shows that nearly 60% of people in Indiana want abortion to be legal in all or most circumstances, with a whopping 80% supporting abortion in cases of rape and incest.
You probably remember that Idaho is in the middle of multiple lawsuits over their abortion ban—they were even sued by the federal government for the law’s vague and narrow exceptions for women’s health and lives. Well, it turns out that the legislature hired private attorneys to help with those cases to the tune of over $275,000 and that taxpayers are footing the bill.
Speaking of corrupt laws: In Texas, thanks to a law allowing private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone providing or ‘aiding and abetting’ abortions, a woman in the state is going after the owner of Abortion Offshore, a clinic operating in federal waters. The woman who filed a suit wants to depose owner Michael Kimbro and gather information about “the identity of all individuals and organizations that aided or abetted illegal abortions by providing funding, insurance coverage, or logistical support.” We’re going to see more and more of this in the coming months and it’s terrifying.
Also in Texas, a Republican lawmaker is trying to pass a bill that would prohibit companies from getting tax subsidies if they provide abortion coverage for those traveling out-of-state for abortions; and please make sure to read Slate’s rundown of what actually happened to women in the state when the abortion ban was passed.
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North Dakota’s attorney general asked the state Supreme Court today to lift the block on the state’s abortion ban, arguing a judge in a lower court “misconstrued the law” when he enacted the injunction. Meetra Mehdizadeh, a staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, the legal organization representing Red River Clinic, said the state’s ban is “one of the most extreme and dangerous laws in the nation.” Mehdizadeh also pointed out that if the block is lifted, it would likely mean that abortion would be illegal immediately.
Kentucky Attorney General and gubernatorial hopeful Daniel Cameron refused to talk this week about increased calls to amend the state’s abortion ban with rape and incest exceptions. As a reminder, an anti-abortion ballot measure in the state was voted down in the midterms, and the Kentucky Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to the state law.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee, where the state ban doesn’t even have an exception for women’s lives—and where doctors providing abortions to that effect are beholden to an affirmative defense mandate—Democratic Rep. Yusuf Hakeem is working on a bill that would add exceptions in for rape, incest, health and life.
A former Florida state attorney is finally having his day in court: Andrew Warren is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis for suspending him after Warren made clear he wouldn’t prosecute abortion-related ‘crimes’. Warren is now asking a judge to reinstate him in his former position.
I’ve written quite a bit about the strategy of having small towns in pro-choice states pass anti-abortion ordinances. The latest example comes to us from a town of just over 500 people, Prinsburg, Minnesota—where lawmakers are proposing an ordinance that would allow citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers. State attorney general Keith Ellison sent the Prinsburg mayor a letter reminding him that towns and cities can’t restrict the right to abortion, and activists are also pushing back. From the executive director of Minnesota-based nonprofit Gender Justice:
”[Anti-abortion activists are] trying to import this outrageous scheme from Texas where they are essentially asking neighbors to spy on their neighbors to monitor their pregnancy status and health care...then, waste taxpayer dollars bringing civil lawsuits to scare, shame and punish their own neighbors for accessing health care that is safe, legal and constitutionally protected in Minnesota.”
I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: This is an intimidation tactic. It’s a way to keep abortion providers afraid from opening up clinics in certain towns, and a way to scare those who might seek legal abortions in the state. It’s horrid.
In better news, Oklahoma is moving forward on their abortion-related ballot measure now that the deadline has passed for opponents to file a challenge. Proponents of the measure are hoping to get it in front of voters during a March 7th special session, and are just waiting on the secretary of state for the okay to start collecting signatures. (They would need about 173,000 signatures in 90 days.)
And while Louisiana Planned Parenthood may not be able to provide abortions, they’re doing everything they can to help the people who need them. Petrice Sams-Abiodun of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast says, “Not only can we help you find a provider, we can provide you with a practical support for getting there.”
Quick state hits: A former Wisconsin librarian writes about the hurdles of trying to help people while living in a state with an abortion ban; IVF advocates in Georgia are worried about how the state law will impact fertility treatments; West Virginia is facing a critical OBGYN shortage.
In the nation…
So much for privacy. You may recall that Google vowed this summer that they would stop saving location data for anyone visiting abortion clinics. Well, a tech advocacy group says that hasn’t happened. When the group ran experiments where they traveled to clinics, Google saved all of their map data; The Guardian also found that Google saved abortion-related web searches. All of this data could be used by law enforcement to prosecute an abortion case—it’s a good reminder that there’s no such thing as privacy online.
We hear about judicial bypasses for minors seeking abortions quite a lot, but rarely get to learn about the details of that process. This gutting piece from The New York Times does just that, and I have to warn you that it’s super distressing. We follow the story of a 17 year-old in Texas who goes to a judge asking for an abortion just to be told she’ll regret it, and then is forced to visit a crisis pregnancy center. She is still steadfast in her desire for an abortion after the visit and tells the judge as much—but he denies her on the grounds that she’s not “mature enough” to make the decision. She ends up working four jobs and suicidal. It’s an absolute must-read piece, but please don’t be surprised if you feel like smacking the shit out of a judge by the end of it. They are killing girls’ futures.
What conservatives are doing…
Abortion medication is used by more than half of American women who end their pregnancies, and has provided a safe way for those in anti-choice states to have abortions at home that law enforcement doesn’t (hopefully) find out about. So it makes sense that anti-choice activists are going after it. As a reminder, two groups are going after the FDA: One is suing the FDA to reverse their decision approving abortion medication, the other wants the agency to force doctors to make women who use abortion medication to bag up the products of conception and turn it in. Other groups are trying to limit telemedicine options for abortion medication.
Now, a representative from Americans United for Life tells The Washington Post that getting rid of abortion medication is their top priority, and that “from our discussions with state lawmakers and policy leaders, it's clear that this is the No. 1 issue for those who desire to protect life and women going into the 2023 state legislative sessions.” Something to pay close attention to.
We’ve been talking a lot here about how abortion bans will impact IVF and the way that Republicans will take a chipping away approach at legislating fertility treatments. Axios has a good run-down of what’s happened so far, and how what Republicans say and what they’ll do doesn’t necessarily match up.
NPR has a new series, Days & Weeks, about how abortion laws are impacting Americans; their latest segment is about women’s lives who have been put at risk because of abortion bans, and the doctors who need to decide whether to break the law in order to save them.
Slate’s “Slow Burn” podcast on Roe v Wade was named Show of the Year by Apple podcasts; so if you haven’t listened to it yet, you should definitely make the time!
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