Jan 19 • 14M

Abortion, Every Day (1.19.23)

Study: Mothers in anti-choice states are three times more likely to die

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

We have some updates on the arson at an Illinois Planned Parenthood. Police are looking for a suspect who threw a molotov cocktail from their pickup truck at the Peoria clinic Sunday night—an attack that happened just two days after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed additional abortion rights protections into law. (If you live in the area, there is a picture of the truck—which has a distinctive door that’s a different color than the rest of the vehicle—here.)

The clinic suffered extensive damage and will remain closed while undergoing repairs. For more information on the increase in harassment and violence against abortion providers and clinics, check out the most recent report from the National Abortion Federation.

Indiana’s Supreme Court heard arguments on the state’s abortion ban today; there’s a good rundown of the arguments on this Twitter thread from a local reporter, or you can watch the arguments below:

Lawmakers in New Mexico are debating two abortion-related bills—one which would protect private patient data, and another that addresses the trend of conservative towns in pro-choice states trying to ban abortion via ordinances. The Reproductive Health Care Freedom Act would make clear that municipalities can’t deny anyone’s right to an abortion—and the state Attorney General has made clear he’s ready to go after those who try to—but there’s one anti-choice strategy the law can’t address. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico points out that while ordinances seeking to make abortion illegal aren’t enforceable, those that require clinics to jump through hoops like getting business licenses through city councils are.

I’ve written a bit about the move by Utah Republicans to change the standards by which a court can issue an injunction; well, yesterday, legislators advanced that proposal. If successful, it could effectively remove the block of the state’s abortion ban—which, of course, has always been the point. And it’s just part of a growing trend by Republicans to ignore or go over Court decisions that they don’t like.

For example, you may remember that Montana Republicans are seeking to redefine the state constitution’s right to privacy so it doesn’t include abortion. And now something similar is happening in Wyoming. A bill introduced by Wyoming Republicans wouldn’t just strip abortion rights from rape and incest victims, and allow district attorneys and the state attorney general to sue abortion providers—it would also allow the legislature to “make declarations interpreting the Wyoming constitution.” (And because why stop there, the bill would also strip state funding for life-saving abortions.)

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Speaking of lawmakers who don’t give a shit about what voters want: A Republican in Kansas is pushing a bill that would allow towns to ban abortion in spite of state law. Sen. Chase Blasi claims, “I’m hearing a lot from my constituents who believe we should continue to do more to help the unborn.” Ok, sure.

I’ve told you how Florida pharmacies were sent a threatening letter by the state health department, warning that the FDA regulations around abortion medication didn’t apply to them. WMFE, public radio in Central Florida, has a little bit more about what that memo really means. A policy analyst from the Guttmacher Institute, for example, says she hasn’t heard of any other state officials sending out similar guidelines:

“This is very unusual. And I think speaks to how the governor of Florida and policymakers are looking at trying to further restrict access to abortion care. You typically don't see this, even around abortion, which is the most heavily regulated medical service in the country. So, this felt very heavy-handed. It is what it is. It's a deterrent, particularly for pharmacies.”

A group of pro-choice religious leaders have filed a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s abortion ban, saying the law imposes religious beliefs on those who don’t share them. We’ve seen similar cases in other anti-choice states, but what makes this case different, says Michelle Banker of the National Women’s Law Center, is that “we are saying that the whole law violates separation of church and state and we’re seeking to get everything struck down.”

In her inaugural remarks as the first Black woman to be elected as Massachusetts Attorney General, Andrea Campbell pledged that “we can always and will always stand up for reproductive and abortion rights and protect the right of each and every person to decide whether, and when, and how to have and to be a parent of a child.”

Quick hits:

In the nation…

The FDA has responded to a lawsuit seeking to pressure the agency to reverse their approval of abortion medication, saying, “The public interest would be dramatically harmed by effectively withdrawing from the marketplace a safe and effective drug that has lawfully been on the market for twenty-two years.” Agreed! Related: Rite Aid has just announced that they plan to carry abortion medication in some of their locations.

New research reaffirms what we all know is true: Living in an anti-choice state is dangerous for women. A report from the Gender Equity Policy Institute found that mothers who live in states with abortion bans were three times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or soon after giving birth, and that babies in those states were 30% more likely to die within their first month of life. I’m going through the full report tonight, but the top takeaways are awful.

A new study from the University of Delaware found that YouTube influencers are spreading misinformation about hormonal birth control. They found that 74% of the content creators talked about stopping hormonal birth control in a positive light, and that a common theme was touting ‘natural’ family planning or claiming birth control pills negatively impacted their mental health. Lead author Emily Pfender called the trend “potentially harmful,” and pointed out that influencers deriding hormonal birth control while failing to encourage other forms of contraception is “a public health issue.”

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate has a really good piece this week about the new Supreme Court case on religious liberty, Groff v. DeJoy. The case could give religious employees special privileges, even if they negatively impact others:

“Imagine a manager who refuses to hire a transgender applicant. Or an employee who won’t work with a client who’s had an abortion. Or a cop who won’t patrol an abortion clinic…Groff could grant them all a religious accommodation under Title VII.”

Stern also points out that the firm that brought the case, First Liberty Institute, is also suing CVS on behalf of an employee who was fired for refusing to prescribe contraception.

Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson joined Leslie Jones, who is guest-hosting The Daily Show. Loved this conversation:

And here is something fascinating/terrifying: Perinatal pathologists—those who analyze fetal tissue, placentas and other products of conception—are trying to sort out how to work in a post-Roe world, and “are increasingly worried about the pressure they face to produce definitive cause of death determinations from law enforcement officials.”

This is going to be especially difficult as many miscarriages and stillbirths can’t be explained—but law enforcement and the public don’t necessarily understand that. And in an anti-choice state eager to criminalize abortion or anything that looks like abortion, one forensic pathologist said, “there is going to be…pressure to report these things.”

Quick hits:

Listen up…

Illinois Public Media has a segment looking at how women got abortions in the state before Roe v Wade; NPR looks at the history of how physicians in America went from performing abortions without much controversy to some opposing it (and how it all came down to a small group of radical anti-choice docs in the 1800s).

You love to see it…

This is too cool: A truly epic group of artists (including Jenny Holzer?!!) have contributed their work to a limited-edition calendar being sold to raise money for abortion in New York City. Check it out and possibly buy it here!

This issue of Abortion, Every Day was compiled with the help of researcher Grace Haley.

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