Dec 2, 2022 • 12M

Abortion, Every Day (12.1.22)

State Republicans try to stop voters from deciding on abortion

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

Republican leaders in Kentucky are trying to downplay why voters rejected an anti-abortion ballot measure during the midterms—and are hinting that they may make it harder for pro-choice ballot measures in the future. At a news conference ahead of a retreat for Kentucky GOP leaders, state Senate President Robert Stivers was asked whether or not the midterms results would sway Republicans to add in rape and incest exceptions to the ban. Stivers replied, “It’s hard to tell if the voters wanted exceptions.” Sigh.

But this is especially important: Stivers also said that Republicans are going to “go back and re-evaluate the whole process” of how constitutional amendments are presented to voters. Which to me sounds like the GOP in Kentucky is going to work on the same thing Republicans in all the other states are up to: Keeping abortion as far away from voters as possible.

Case in point: Let’s take a look at what’s happening in Missouri. As I mentioned yesterday, the secretary of state wants to increase the percent of voters necessary to change the state constitution from 50% to 60%. It’s a preemptive move; Republicans in the state know that abortion proponents are planning for a ballot measure to put in front of voters in 2024. And they can see from what’s happened in states like Kansas and Kentucky, that when abortion is put directly to voters, they come down on the choice side. So they’re going to do everything they can to stop that from happening.

In fact, Kansas City Public Radio points out that in addition to wanting 60% of the vote to change the state constitution, other lawmakers are proposing that groups must collect a certain amount of signatures “in all of the state’s congressional districts.” (Emphasis mine) They’re so fucking transparent.

Republicans are at it every single day—so we have to be, too. Sign up to get comprehensive daily updates on abortion and join a feminist community that’s as pissed off as you are.

Speaking of moves to push through abortion bans over voters’ wishes: In Michigan, a conservative has filed paperwork in an effort to force a recount of the state’s pro-choice ballot measure in more than 500 precincts. He’s being represented by a lawyer who tried to overturn the presidential election in Michigan; both claim, without evidence, that there was voter fraud and election tampering around Proposal 2. Sure.

In Wyoming, the legal challenge against the state’s abortion ban is headed to the state Supreme Court after an order from a District Court judge. And yet again, conservatives are dropping clues about ballot measures: A lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing some of the anti-choice legislators in Wyoming defending the ban, released a statement after the judge’s ruling saying that “the people of Wyoming, through their elected representatives, have made clear that they want to protect life.” (Emphasis mine) They’re already laying the groundwork for arguing that ballot measures aren’t needed because voters have made their voices heard by electing politicians.

Arizona appeals court judges questioned Planned Parenthood and state lawyers yesterday about how the 1864 trigger ban and the new abortion ban could coincide, with one judge noting it would have “preposterous” consequences. Judge Peter Eckerstrom noted that the combination of laws could cause a situation where a woman who needed a legal abortion to save her life would be required to view an ultrasound picture of the pregnancy: “When we got to do an abortion for the life of the mother, you better show her a picture of the sonogram so she feels good about that decision? Right? Is that what you're suggesting?”

I’ve already told you about the former Florida state attorney who is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis to get his job back—Andrew Warren was suspended after saying that he wouldn’t prosecute abortion-related cases. The Daily Beast has a more in-depth article on the case, and about how firing Warren was part of a string of “power grab” moves from DeSantis. As Warren said about his lawsuit, “There’s so much more at stake than my job. This is a fight to stop the erosion of our democracy. It’s to ensure our democracy has meaning, so we have elected officials and not a king.”

The New York Times has more on the Indiana attorney general’s harassment campaign against Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the abortion provider who provided care to a 10 year-old rape victim. After trying to subpoena Dr. Bernard’s patients’ private medical records, attorney general Todd Rokita has now gone to the state medical board to ask them to discipline the doctor. Dr. Bernard’s lawyer says it’s “a last-ditch effort to intimidate Dr. Bernard and other providers of abortion care.”

And Dr. Katie McHugh, an OB-GYN in Indiana and board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, called the investigation a witch-hunt: “This doctor is being vilified for what has been internationally recognized as compassionate intervention.”

Also in Indiana, Saint Mary’s College is refusing to approve a student-led abortion rights group on campus, citing their Catholic affiliation. If you want to give the club some words of support, you can find them here on Instagram.

Ohio Republicans say that it’s “highly unlikely” that they’ll try to ban abortion from conception and that instead they’ll focus on clarifying the exception for women’s lives. (Love that this is being framed as if we’re supposed to be grateful.) From Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio:

“This notion that they are somehow going to make this dangerous legislation into something that won’t harm people, if it’s allowed to go into effect again, is preposterous. It’s not like they’ve changed their agenda. They are just trying to figure out the most advantageous move in their political game.”

I didn’t know this and I sort of love it: The initiative to get abortion on the ballot in Oklahoma is being led by a hairstylist with no legal training, and whose only political experience has been registering people to vote. Roger Coody, who wrote the ballot proposal, says, “I don’t ever want to see anybody else’s right stripped away from them, because you never know when it is going to be yours.” Coody told ABC News that the women who have been important in his life inspired him to take action, and that,“I am just trying to do my best to change things.”

Mississippi’s state Senate Medicaid Committee heard testimony today about how desperately the state needs to increase the length of postpartum Medicaid health coverage from 60 days to a year. The state’s maternal mortality rate is double the national average, and will only get worse now that abortion is banned.

Quick hits:

  • A group of Wisconsin prosecutors are asking a judge to throw out a legal challenge against the state’s abortion ban brought by Attorney General Josh Kaul; they claim his suit lacks legal merit;

  • Florida’s new speaker of the House says, “I want to see us move in a pro-life direction”;

  • New Jersey is requiring that any state-regulated health insurance plans cover abortion costs;

  • NBC News has an article on the Georgia run-off and the national implications for abortion;

  • And The Daily Beast has new domestic violence allegations against Georgia Senate nominee Herschel Walker.

In the nation…

Anti-abortion states are facing an OBGYN shortage that is only going to get worse—and not just regarding doctors who deal in reproductive health care, but all physicians. A survey from the test-prep company Kaplan found that 26 % of pre-med students say the overturning of Roe will likely impact where they apply to medical school and 21% said it definitely will. Director of health programs at Kaplan, Petros Minasi, said, “with many of these students singling that they wouldn't apply to medical schools in states that have laws contrary to their own beliefs on abortion rights…we think this is unprecedented on such a large scale.”

The Washington Post spoke to pregnant women in anti-choice states who were seeking abortions, including a 24 year-old in Ohio who had a crisis pregnancy center stall her and then lie to her about how far along she was in her pregnancy in an attempt to make her believe she was past the legal limit:

“Right away, Kae said, a few things seemed a little off. One counselor gave her a bottle of prenatal vitamins. Another offered to pray for her. Then the sonographer said the vaginal ultrasound wasn’t clear enough to date the pregnancy: Kae would have to come back in a week.”

We all know these places lie to women, we’ve know if for years. But it still never ceases to amaze me how absolutely blatant they are about doing whatever they can to ensure that women can’t make a choice for themselves.

Quick hits:

  • The Associated Press looks at how abortion rights activists are using post-midterms momentum to launch pro-choice efforts on both a state and national level;

  • Amy Littlefield at The Nation has a good rundown of the actions that cities and towns are taking to lessen the impact of abortion bans and/or protect abortion rights;

  • Pew reports that a growing number of Americans see the Supreme Court as “friendly” towards religion;

  • And Jezebel on the Republicans who voted against protecting pregnant women from solitary confinement.

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