Nov 9, 2022 • 14M

Abortion, Every Day (11.8.22)

Are you ready for the midterms?

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Appears in this episode

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

This is how they’re going to ban abortion in pro-choice states: Town by town, one local ordinance at a time. I’ve written a lot here about the anti-abortion strategy of going to small towns in pro-choice states and passing resolutions to stop abortion providers from operating. Well, that’s just what happened in Hobbs, New Mexico, where the town that borders Texas unanimously passed an ordinance to be a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” banning abortion clinics from operating—making it the first town in a pro-choice state to do so. This is an incredibly big deal; and remember that the architect of the strategy is the same guy who came up with Texas’ anti-abortion bounty law, Mark Lee Dickson. Please please keep an eye on this.

Speaking of things to keep an eye on: In Nebraska, the case against the teenager arrested for having an illegal abortion (along with her mother, who helped her procure abortion medication) is continuing on. The teen’s lawyer is trying to quash some of the charges based on the idea that a fetus is not a person under state law. But check out how the county lawyer countered that argument:

“Joe Smith, Madison County attorney, said if someone has life and if that someone looks like a human—regardless of its developmental stage—‘it seems to me to be a person.’ Smith said he didn’t believe there was a ‘good definition’ of a person in Nebraska criminal law.”

If you’ve been following what’s been happening in South Carolina, you know that Republican legislators there have been fighting about abortion restrictions—mostly about just how strict to make them. Lawmakers are running out of time to make a decision, though, and will be meeting one last time tomorrow morning to try to sort something out. No matter what happens, it’s going to be a nightmare for women and girls in the state. The kinds of details they’re ironing out are a matter of horrible to horrific. For example, whether rape and incest victims should have 12 weeks or 20 weeks to get an abortion—or whether or not doctors will be required to collect DNA from the abortion to give to police.

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What happens in Illinois’ elections won’t just impact women there—but women in neighboring anti-abortion states who are relying on Illinois as a safe haven for abortion access. What’s especially important tonight is who ends up on the state Supreme Court. Republicans know it, as well—which is why they’re trying to play down just how vital those races are. Eric Scheidler, executive director of Pro-Life Action League, says, “the propaganda I’m seeing about abortion rights being imperiled in Illinois because of these [races] seems just absurd to me, absolutely absurd.” The more they scoff at it, the more important you know it is.

We know that the legal battle over abortion in Arizona led to all kinds of confusion in the state about whether or not abortion was legal (and when)—now CNN has a piece talking to abortion providers in the state about what the experience has been like for them. From Dr. Jill Gibson, the medical director of the state Planned Parenthood:

“I’ve watched our staff ride this roller coaster and they’ve done it with such grace and flexibility. But we are tired. You can see it wearing on our faces. You can see it—you can see it in the drooped shoulders.”

Also in Arizona, Mother Jones talks to some of the abortion-rights proponents who worry that voters will forget just how much is at stake in today’s elections.

Here’s some background info on the abortion-related ballot measure in Kentucky, and make sure to check out/support Protect Kentucky Access—the pro-choice group getting the word out about the measure.

The director of former clinics in Oklahoma and Texas gave an interview about post-Roe consequences, including having to deny care to children: “One of our patients that we had to turn away was a 13-year-old. Minors often seek services,” Andrea Gallegos says.

In a shocking letter to the editor, a woman shares that while her daughter was visiting Ohio over Labor Day weekend, she nearly died after being refused care for a miscarriage:

“[S]he began to miscarry a fetus that wasn’t viable. The hospital emergency room released her and said good luck. Four hours later, lying in the bathtub, she became unconscious, returned to the hospital and waited some more. A dilation and curettage (D&C) was only performed when “her life was in danger.” Had my daughter been home in Washington, she would have received immediate treatment, but because the miscarriage occurred in Ohio, she nearly died. The abortion laws in Ohio should allow doctors to save lives and return rights to women.”

At a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan this weekend, OBGYN Melissa Bayne told the crowd that, “Doctors fought hard for these rights because we’re sick of watching women die.” Bayne recounted working for a religious institution 17 years ago when a patient whose water broke in her second trimester was sent home. Her fetus wasn’t viable, but it still had a heartbeat. When the woman came back a week later, she was in septic shock and had stopped breathing. Bayne performed CPR, but the young woman died in her hands. “It nearly broke me. She could have been saved,” she says. That’s what refusing abortion care looks like: dead women.

In less depressing news, according to Planned Parenthood of Texas, more than 1.2 million people in the state have taken some kind of pro-choice action in the lead-up to the midterms: From registering people to vote and canvassing, to attending a protest and calling on elected officials to support abortion rights.

Georgia’s court battle over the state abortion ban continues on, with a judge deciding whether or not banning abortion violates state privacy protections. ACLU Staff Attorney Julia Kaye says, “It is inconceivable that an intrusion of this magnitude, that forced pregnancy and childbirth is not implicating the right is not within the sphere of privacy.” Also in Georgia, a poll shows that Black voters in the state support abortion rights: 75% believe that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.

If you’re in New York like I am, don’t trust that being in a pro-choice state will protect the future of abortion rights. The governor’s race is way too close, and Republican Lee Zeldin is anti-choice. And as Michelle Goldberg points out at The New York Times, even if abortion remains legal forever in the state, there is a whole lot a governor can do to hurt reproductive rights. Zeldin could allow New York law enforcement to cooperate with investigations sparked by anti-abortion states. The Republican has also said it would be a “great idea” to appoint an anti-abortion health commissioner, and could stop the current funding for New York abortion providers that is currently allocated to help them deal with the influx of out-of-state patients. So get out there and VOTE.

In the nation…

The most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that the number of Americans who believe abortions should be legal in all or most cases, 66 percent, is the highest it’s been since 1995. Sixty-two percent of likely voters also call abortion a top issue in their vote.

Every election is important when it comes to abortion rights, but there’s something specifically vital about who wins state attorney generals’ races—especially in those states where abortion is banned. The Washington Post highlights some of those races and candidates—from Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr, who dodged questions about whether or not pregnant women would be criminalized under the state ban, to the election in Nevada (where abortion is still legal), where incumbent Aaron Ford points out that, “Attorneys general like me in purple states like Nevada have become one of the last lines of defense in protecting abortion access.”

MSNBC hosted a conversation about abortion rights and the midterms last night:

The New York Times has a roundup of the abortion-related ballot measures voters will decide on today; Fortune has a short piece on abortion, the economy and the midterms; POLITICO reminds us that abortion is illegal in a quarter of the country as we head into the elections, and outlines ten races that will shape abortion rights; and Well & Good published a piece on abortion doulas.

Another issue that’s going to come up no matter how the midterms go is anti-abortion politicians attacking against everyday citizens who speak out for abortion rights:

Listen up…

A new poll in Arkansas shows that voters there are worried about the economy and abortion (which, as we all know, are inextricably linked)—public radio in the state gets into the nitty gritty of the results.

I’ve written quite a bit about the impact that abortion bans are having on doctors who are training to be OBGYNs; public radio in Wisconsin looks at how the state’s shortage of OBGYNs is only going to get worse because of the abortion ban there.

You love to see it…

Jimmy Kimmel’s wife gave a monologue on his show last night to urge people to vote for abortion rights today. It’s worth watching and I’m glad to see him using the platform he has for this…

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