In the states…
Abortion in Montana has been protected in the state’s constitution since 1999, when the state Supreme Court ruled that women’s health decisions were part of a right to privacy. Since Roe was overturned, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and Attorney General Austin Knudsen have tried to push the court to reverse that decision—efforts that have been unsuccessful thus far. And so Republicans in the state are trying a new tactic: They’ve introduced legislation—Senate Bill 154—that would codify the idea that the state constitution’s right to privacy does not include abortion.
In an interview with The New York Times Magazine last week, Rep. Keith Regier, who introduced the bill, told a reporter that all laws should be based on Judeo-Christian values: “The Ten Commandments were a good foundation for any country to live by.”
This is a really stark and frightening example of how far Republicans are willing to go: They’re essentially saying if the courts don’t give them the decision they want, they’ll simply ignore the ruling. Republican Bob Leach, for example, said “if the courts can’t define [privacy] right, the Legislature needs to take a stand.”
This similar to the Republican moves in Utah, where lawmakers are trying to change the standard by which courts issue injunctions—with the hope that doing so will make it harder for judges to continue to block the state’s abortion ban.
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Meanwhile, after Gov. Jim Justice’s nauseating State of the State address last week, West Virginia is set to pass a bill that would dedicate $1 million to crisis pregnancy centers. We already know how horrible CPCs are and the way that they lie to women and put their health in danger. But it’s important to note how little of CPC funding actually makes its way to women. Back in October, Ashley Underwood—director of Equity Forward, a CPC watchdog—noted that, “Instead of providing direct material support to people, they're using this money for overhead costs to pay for staff salaries, to engage with SEO marketing professionals, to expand their outreach to promote themselves, and all sorts of things that are not providing services to people in need.”
Meanwhile in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in her State of the State speech that she plans to expand protections for abortion rights:
“We do that, and we make it clear to practitioners, to women and families that in every corner of this state: Your body autonomy and your health care choices are in fact your own.”
I like that one much better. In some more good news: New York City Mayor Eric Adams outlined a new Women’s Health Agenda, a commitment aimed at addressing inequity in women’s health—including increasing access to abortion medication at city-run health clinics.
Minnesota students are pushing their schools to add abortion services to campus health centers. From Gillian Rath, member of the Minnesota chapter of Students for a Democratic Society:
“I think the position that we're kind of taking is, yes, abortion is legal for the time being. Yes, we are still a sanctuary state. But how can we be the most accessible that we can be for the people living here and for the states around us who don't have the same privileges?”
And in Maine, Democrats announced their plan to protect and expand abortion rights in the state—including allowing abortions after 24 weeks with a doctor’s approval, increasing protections for abortion providers, and legislation to stop municipal governments from restricting abortion.
Vox has a good rundown of what’s happening in Kansas, where voters overwhelmingly support abortion rights—but Republicans don’t care;
The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments on the state’s ban tomorrow;
Minnesota lawmakers are expected to vote this week on the PRO Act, which would codify the right to abortion (they may be timing the vote to align with the anniversary of Roe);
The Louisiana lawmaker who crafted the state’s strict abortion ban signals that she may be open to adding in rape and incest exceptions;
Virginia’s Contraceptive Equity Act, which would require insurance companies to cover birth control, moved forward and was passed by a state Senate committee;
And North Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson gave a speech calling for the state to become a ‘destination state for life’.
In the nation…
A new study from the Economic Policy Institute found that states with restrictive abortion policies have lower wages and job security, higher incarceration rates, and less access to unemployment benefits and unionized jobs.
Economic analyst Asha Banerjee, who wrote the report, told Poppy Noor at The Guardian, “There is strong empirical evidence that abortion denial and abortion bans have negative economic consequences, from prolonged financial distress to lower wages and earnings, employment, educational attainment, and economic mobility.”
This weekend would have marked Roe v Wade’s 50th anniversary, and Democracy Now looks at what abortion rights has looked like since SCOTUS overturned the decision:
I also really liked this piece from NPR about the shift to telehealth in abortion care, and how that change has impacted both doctors and patients. For doctors, it’s meant a sort of shift in traditional doctor-patient power dynamics. Sociologist Carole Joffe says, “Now you have a generation of doctors who are saying, 'You don't need us. Our job is basically to assure you, the patient, that it's safe for you to do by yourself.’” It’s also meant really putting the ‘trust women’ mantra into action. For patients, of course, being able to access abortion medication via telehealth has been just incredible. One doctor told NPR, “Every day we have people who just start crying on the video visit…They're crying because they're so relieved.”
The ACLU has a really good piece on the connection between the rollback of abortion rights and the attacks on LGBTQ people (something we’ve noticed at the newsletter quite a lot):
“The fight for abortion access and access to gender affirming care are linked by a simple belief—you are the rightful author of your own life story. Both abortion and gender-affirming care give us the freedom to determine our own paths in life and to defy barriers that oppress and erase women and LGBTQ people. The politicians who want to strip us of that freedom want to write your story for you, deciding who you are, what you do with your body, and if or when you start a family.”
ProPublica investigates digital privacy when buying abortion medication;
The 19th looks at the near-certain future in which women are prosecuted for abortion;
The Associated Press reports on the anti-choice groups set to celebrate Roe’s demise on the decision’s anniversary this weekend;
And Vice President Kamala Harris will speak in Florida to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Sunday.
Al Jazeera speaks with a Texas abortion provider about life and work post-Roe—definitely worth a listen.
What conservatives are doing…
One of the biggest anti-abortion organizations, 40 Days for Life, announced today that they’re launching a protest campaign against pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens that plan to carry abortion medication. The group’s president Shawn Carney says, “Until this point in history, 40 Days for Life has kept our campaigns strictly outside abortion facilities. CVS and Walgreens are offering abortion pills through their drive-through window, making it just as easy to get an abortion as it is to order a Big Mac from McDonald’s.” IF ONLY!
This is definitely something to keep an eye on; both in terms of the increase in harassment and violence against abortion clinics—and now, apparently, pharmacies—along with ensuring that pharmacists and retain chains don’t succumb to anti-choice pressure.
You love to see it…
It’s hard to feel optimistic these days, I know. That’s why I appreciated this column from longtime New York Times Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, who says that abortion has won the culture war. (I agree.) Greenhouse writes that she’s not suggesting our post-Roe reality isn’t bleak and that people aren’t suffering—of course they are. Instead, she says, the cultural “polarity has shifted”:
“The anti-abortion position that was so convenient for Republican politicians for so long is, with surprising speed, coming to seem like an encumbrance. The once-comfortable family-values rhetoric no longer provides cover for the extremism that the Dobbs decision has made visible.”
The piece gave me a bit of hope, maybe it will do the same for you!
This newsletter was compiled with researcher Grace Haley.
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