Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (12.14.22)

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Abortion, Every Day (12.14.22)

Tennessee voters don't realize they have a total abortion ban

In the states…

Great news out of Iowa, where a judge upheld a 2019 block on a 6-week abortion ban. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was trying to get the block removed based on Roe being overturned, says she’s going to appeal the decision and take it to the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Wyoming Supreme Court has until January 9th to decide whether or not they will hear a legal challenge to the state’s trigger ban. (The law is currently blocked, and it’s extremely likely the court will agree to hear the case.)

And in Indiana, the attorney general wants the state Supreme Court to take on a judge’s ruling earlier this month that said Indiana’s abortion ban violates the state’s religious freedom law. (Another legal challenge to the law also might be headed to the state’s Supreme Court.)

As you probably remember, Republicans in Ohio and Missouri are trying to change the rules around ballot measures to make it harder for people in the state to make their voices heard—mostly because conservative lawmakers know that when abortion is put directly to voters, abortion rights win. In Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch calls the move “a historic abuse of power,” and at Missouri’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the editorial board writes that, “It’s no coincidence this push to muzzle Missouri voters comes as other red-state voters around America are standing up for abortion rights….Anti-choice Republicans know they would lose an up-or-down vote on this issue, so they’re trying to rig the outcome in advance.”

A new poll out of Tennessee found the majority of the state is prochoice. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they were ‘definitely’ or ‘somewhat’ pro-choice while 47 percent called themselves ‘definitely’ or ‘somewhat’ pro-life. But here’s where it gets interesting: A huge majority of voters, 75%, want abortion to be legal in cases of rape and incest. That’s not surprising, we see numbers like that in most states. But here’s the thing: Less than 20% of the people in Tennessee know that the state’s abortion ban has no exceptions. Thirty-six percent said they didn’t know what the state’s ban entailed, 23% thought the state had exceptions for rape, incest and life, and 21% thought it was legal with limits at various gestational ages. This is fucking wild to me! It means that Republicans are relying on the fact that voters don’t really understand how extreme their state’s abortion ban is. Democrats would be wise to start a serious awareness campaign…

You may remember that Texas mysteriously delayed their maternal mortality data until after the midterms—a full report is set to come out this week, but experts are already issuing warnings about how bad it is. From the Houston Chronicle:

“The resulting picture painted by the report is one of unnecessary death and disparity, committee members said, claiming 90 percent of pregnancy-related deaths in the state in the 2019 cohort period were preventable in nature.”

By the way, Texas had to be threatened with a lawsuit before they agreed to release this data.

Puerto Rico doesn’t have restrictive anti-abortion laws, but The Cut points out that despite the lack of anti-abortion laws, residents of the the U.S. territory have an incredibly difficult time accessing abortion. The hurdles to care include a lack of providers, women needing to travel for hours to get to a clinic, abortion stigma, and, of course cost. OBGYN and abortion provider Dr. Yari Vale Moreno says, “We see patients who have pawned jewelry in order to cover the cost. I have no doubt some people have stopped buying groceries for one or two weeks in order to afford the procedure.”

Mother Jones has a profile of New Mexico abortion provider Dr. Curtis Boyd, who provided underground abortions in the 1970s. Lots of amazing stuff in the article, but loved this quote from Boyd, who is an ordained Baptist minister, about why he doesn’t see a conflict between performing abortions and his faith: “Women had a problem and needed help. Abortion was not the problem. The unwanted pregnancy was the problem.” (Related: the Albuquerque Journal looks at what might be ahead in the state for abortion rights.)

And I love good news, even if it’s expected: Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed a document yesterday that formally changed the state’s constitution to protect abortion rights!

Quick hits:

  • California’s Future of Abortion Council is recommending that the state fund a campaign against abortion misinformation and crack down on crisis pregnancy centers (read all the recommendations here);

  • Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul says one of his top priorities for 2023 is restoring abortion access in the state and that “the best thing that we can do is have the legislature take action to repeal that 1849 ban”;

  • Bloomberg profiles Texas-based activist, Olivia Julianna;

  • A mother-daughter team of illustrators published their first-ever collaboration about the defeat of an anti-abortion ballot measure in their home state of Kentucky;

  • and Illinois is considering adding abortion rights protections into the state constitution.

In the nation…

Anti-abortion groups are continuing their attacks on abortion medication. Our favorite Serena Joy wannabe, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, says, “Everyone who is trafficking these pills should be in jail for trafficking. It hasn’t happened, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.” Fucking yikes.

Caroline Kitchener at The Washington Post has a great, in-depth, piece on how anti-choice groups are targeting abortion medication—from groups investigating women who they suspect may be distributing pills, Students for Life America testing the groundwater in several cities to make their (ridiculous) point that abortion medication is damaging the environment, and lawmakers trying to block abortion medication websites in the same way they censor child pornography. Definitely click through and read the whole piece.

A new report shows that states with abortion restrictions have maternal death rates that are 62 percent higher than states with abortion access. And that the maternal mortality rate was increasing twice as fast in states with abortion restrictions. These numbers are already shocking, but please consider that this is a report looking at data from 2018 to 2020, before Roe was overturned. Imagine what the maternal mortality rates are going to look like in the next report. Naturally, the report also showed that those most vulnerable were women of color, Black women in particular. This is a nightmare.

Conservative Supreme Court Justices seem to have given up on even appearing impartial. First we had Samuel Alito’s leak to anti-abortion activists, now Brett Kavanaugh went to a holiday party thrown by the chairman of the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC). He partied down with people like Stephen Miller, whose organization has filed briefs in cases that are currently pending before the Supreme Court. So yeah, pretty fucking unethical! And this happened on the same week that Robert Schenck, the activist who set up the friendship between Alito and an anti-abortion couple who the justice leaked to, testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Unbelievable. (Related: Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Pramila Jayapal have called for the Supreme Court to adhere to a code of conduct via a bill introduced earlier this year.)

If politicians don’t care about women’s rights, maybe they’ll care about business’s ability to make money: Bloomberg reports on how abortion bans hurt companies’ bottom lines and states’ economic futures. US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo says that governors should see this kind of data as an opportunity. “I’d be going to these states at the top of the [illegal abortion] list and actively recruit those companies to my state.”

Quick hits:

  • FiveThirtyEight looks at Democrats’ push for pro-choice ballot measures despite Republicans’ best efforts to stop them;

  • Poppy Noor at The Guardian (who does terrific reporting on abortion), writes about the various Republican efforts to impose more anti-choice restrictions and limit or ban abortion medication;

  • The New Republic looks at how the anti-abortion movement has glommed onto rhetoric about ‘grooming’ when talking about abortion providers and the link it has to conspiracy theories more broadly;

  • And a new UCLA study finds that abortion bans have an outsized impact on Latinas.

Listen up…

I haven’t had a chance to listen to this yet, but today’s episode of The Daily is on the “unexpected ways the left is winning in the abortion fight.” Going to check it out tonight, but if you’ve already listened let me know what you think!

And at Health Affairs’ podcast, University of Colorado professor Sara Yeatman talks about her study looking at how increased access to contraception impacted women’s ability to complete college.

What conservatives are saying…

They’re up in arms about anti-abortion activists being arrested, claiming that the Department of Justice is waging some kind of war on the ‘pro-life’ movement—rather than just admitting that perhaps protecting clinics and doctors who have faced an ever-increasing rise in threats and violence is a good thing.

Keep an eye on…

Birth control. Feminists have been saying for years that conservatives would be coming after contraception (mostly to be told we’re being hysterical)—and now a Trump-appointed judge has “fired the first shot against birth control,” as Vox puts it.

Last month, I told you about how the group suing the FDA in an effort to get them to reverse their approval of abortion medication deliberately filed their case in Amarillo, Texas, which made it nearly certain to put it in front of the ultra-conservative, Trump-appointed Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk.

Now, this same judge has ruled in a case that attacks Title X, the federal family planning program that ensures low-income Americans can have access to reproductive health services, including wellness exams, STD testing and contraception. Kacsmaryk ruled that “the Title X program violates the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children,” because it allows for teenagers to have access to contraception without parental consent.

Ian Millhiser at Vox points out that the ruling is so broad, the judge’s decision “would even prevent a public university from leaving out a basket of free condoms that anyone, including students who are not yet 18, can take from as they choose.”

This is how it happens—not by banning birth control outright, but by chipping away at it piece by piece.

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Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Daily audio updates & commentary on abortion in the United States.
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Jessica Valenti