Nov 30, 2022 • 13M

Abortion, Every Day (11.30.22)

Mental health issues are #1 cause of pregnancy-related deaths

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

Just a reminder that those who speak up about the horrific consequences of abortion bans are already being targeted by Republicans. In Indiana, Attorney General Todd Rokita is asking the state medical licensing board to discipline Dr. Caitlin Bernard—the doctor who provided care to a 10 year-old rape victim from Ohio and spoke about her case to the media. Rokita, who claims Dr. Bernard didn’t report the girls’ abuse to the authorities (she did), has been in the midst of a months-long harassment campaign against the doctor, ever since the case garnered international attention. The attacks are meant to punish Dr. Bernard for speaking up against abortion bans, and to have a chilling effect on anyone else who might come forward.

That’s why this video from a labor and delivery nurse in Texas is so important, and so brave. Anyone who speaks up in an anti-choice state is in danger of being targeted.

Also in Texas, an Austin Democrat is trying to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would undo the state’s abortion ban. State Rep. James Talarico said, “Under my bill, Texans would decide for themselves whether to reinstate Roe v. Wade in our state.”

Speaking of ballot measures: Since the midterms, Republicans have been hard at work trying to ensure that voters don’t have a say over abortion in their state. The latest comes to us from Missouri, where Republicans want to change the rules around ballot measures to require any votes on constitutional amendments to have 60% of the vote, as opposed to a simple majority of 50%. (You may remember that Republicans are doing the same thing in Ohio.)

Arizona’s 1864 trigger ban is being debated today at the state Court of Appeals. Regardless of what the court decides, the state’s current restrictions—which ban abortion after 15 weeks, as opposed to the trigger law’s total abortion ban—will remain in place until next year. The 1864 law—which 90% of people in Arizona oppose—has no exceptions for rape or incest.

Love this: A Democratic lawmaker in Georgia has proposed a bill that would require the state to cover expenses for children born against their mother’s will because of the state’s abortion ban. The Georgia Pro-Birth Accountability Act would mandate that the state provide medical, mental health, and legal costs related to the pregnancy and postpartum period; costs if the child is born with a disability or if the woman becomes disabled because of the pregnancy; food assistance until the child is 18; and would require the state contribute to a college savings account for the child.

Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick, who proposed the bill, says she knows it’s unlikely to go anywhere—but that she did it to make a point:

“If we want to say we are a pro-life state, then we need to put our money where our mouth is, that means childcare, that means the mother’s expenses. That means helping raise the child from birth to age 18 and not just caring about the nine months that they’re in the womb. This is essentially a bill to see who is going to stand up on those principles and…who is, as I suspect, really just trying to control women’s reproductive rights.”  

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As pressure mounts on Kentucky Republicans to add in rape and incest exceptions to the state abortion ban, the Lexington Herald-Leader has asked all sitting and incoming lawmakers to answer an abortion-related survey about what they think the state policy should be and whether or not they support exceptions. I’ll keep you updated as the answers roll in.

I’ve written before about the battle over abortion clinics opening in Carbondale, Illinois—a town close to anti-choice states like Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. Today The New York Times has article about what’s happening in the town, and the way that the clinics are being targeted by anti-abortion citizens and groups:

“A few companies refused to do business with Choices. A spokesman…said a local electric company had asked the clinic to find a new utilities provider because it said it had received harassing online messages and phone calls from abortion opponents.”

Anti-abortion activists continue their effort in small towns in pro-choice states: In Pueblo, Colorado, an ordinance that would ban abortion within the city limits has passed. The state attorney general says they’re on it, so I’ll keep you updated about what happens—but in the meantime, please check out this picture of the people in the town leading the anti-abortion charge. I think it says it all.

Quick state hits:

  • Florida is trying to pass a rule to ban certain kinds of protests at the Capitol building, in what activists say is an effort to stop pro-choice demonstrations

  • South Carolina has made it easier to get birth control pills directly from pharmacies

  • Two abortion rights proponents in Idaho have filed claims against the city of Boise after they were arrested at protests

In the nation…

We’re all aware that the U.S. has an abysmal maternal mortality rate. But did you know that the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths is mental health issues? I’m ashamed to say I had no idea. I knew that the leading cause of death overall for pregnant women was homicide (an issue that deserves a whole other conversation), but when the CDC measured ‘pregnancy-related’* deaths in 2017-2019, nearly 23% fell under mental health. This statistic adds a whole new layer to what it means to force women into pregnancy.

*Pregnancy-related, as defined by the CDC: “A death during pregnancy or within one year of the end of pregnancy from a pregnancy complication, a chain of events initiated by pregnancy, or the aggravation of an unrelated condition by the physiologic effects of pregnancy. In addition to having a temporal relationship to pregnancy, these deaths are causally related to pregnancy or its management.”

Apple is refusing to let Texas-based employees work remotely or transfer if they’re (correctly) fearful of the state’s abortion ban. Employees told WIRED that outside of an email telling employees they’d get coverage for out-of-state travel for abortions, they heard little from management post-Roe. It was only after it became clear staff were not going to stop asking questions, that their bosses started holding ‘listening sessions’. Managers, they said, “were at times worryingly evasive” and told them company policy wouldn’t allow any workers to work remotely or move to an office in another state:

“Employees were hearing that anyone based out of the company’s Texas offices who did not want to live under the state’s laws had to choose between their reproductive rights and their job. Those unable or unwilling to leave faced a potential minefield of health care decisions.”

And as far as the company’s coverage for travel expenses, one employee pointed out that they’re hours from anything, and that “the logistics of getting out of Texas if you have a maternal emergency are really hard.”

The Washington Post highlights some stories from abortion providers and patients on their post-Roe experiences. This one from a woman who had an abortion to escape an abusive relationship really broke my heart:

“My husband didn’t want me to use any form of birth control, but I secretly got an IUD in 2021. He would refuse to wear condoms, any sort of protection, or do anything I asked. He would completely ignore it. He eventually found out that I had the IUD and got extremely mad. I didn’t want him to be mad, so I got it out.”

Quick hits:

What conservatives are saying…

I wrote yesterday about how conservatives and anti-abortion activists are going after abortion medication. Well, check out their new strategy: They’re claiming that abortion medication enables domestic abusers. Yes, seriously. Over at the Federalist (not going to link so I don’t drive traffic), the president for Students for Life of America calls abortion medication an “abusers’ dream drug.” (The argument is that abusive men can slip their partners the medication.) Naturally, there is no mention of reproductive coercion and the way that abusive men will often force their partners into pregnancy either by destroying their birth control methods, refusing to use birth control, or making them keep a pregnancy they don’t want. Because to talk about that would be to admit how much the anti-abortion movement has in common with domestic abusers.

You love to see it…

There’s an incredible effort by college students across the country to distribute emergency contraception—either by getting their campus to approve a vending machine of the morning after pill, or via peer-to-peer distribution. It’s especially important activism these days, and as The Washington Post points out—vital for students who couldn’t otherwise afford the medication or who are in areas where pharmacies don’t always keep it in stock. To find out more, check out EC4EC (Emergency Contraception for Every Campus), which helps students who want to make the medication more available at their schools.

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