Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (12.15.22)

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Abortion, Every Day (12.15.22)

Ohio Republican admits changing ballot measure rules is just about abortion

In the states…

Well, this is something! You already know that Ohio Republicans are working to change the standards around ballot measures in the state—raising the threshold of votes needed to change the state constitution from 50% to 60%. The move is clearly meant to stop voters from making their voices heard on abortion, but conservative lawmakers have continually insisted that this is about stopping ‘special interests’ from coming into the state, spending lots of money, and ‘tricking’ voters. Once such legislator is state Rep. Brian Stewart, who said explicitly that Republican efforts to change the rules had nothing to do with concern over 2023 ballot measures, but was “looking ahead decades” to “curtail the ability of special interests to buy amendments.” He even said that criticisms suggesting Republicans were trying to stop pro-choice voters was a “conspiracy theory.”

But in a letter obtained by an Ohio political reporter, Stewart gives away the game: In the letter, Stewart pushes his Republican colleagues to pass the measure requiring 60% of the vote by explicitly citing abortion!

“After decades of work to make Ohio a pro-life state, the Left intends to write abortion on demand into Ohio’s Constitution. If they succeed, all the work accomplished by multiple Republican majorities will be undone, and we will return to 19,000+ babies being aborted each and every year.”

How much more proof do people need that Republicans are trying to quash the will of voters??

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Yet another example of a minority of powerful politicians ignoring what the majority of citizens want: Kentucky Republicans say that adding rape and incest exceptions to the state’s extreme abortion ban would be a “hard sell.” Despite voters’ unequivocal decision to reject an anti-abortion ballot measure, State Sen. Damon Thayer says, “Our caucus is very pro-life, and nothing has changed in the way they feel about the issue.”

In Montana, the state Supreme Court is hearing arguments on whether advanced practice registered nurses should be able to provide abortions. This is an incredibly important case, because post-Roe, pro-choice states are being inundated with out-of-state patients and need as many qualified abortion providers as possible. Moves to limit who can provide abortions is a move not to protect women—half of abortions are medication abortions and surgical abortions are incredibly easy and safe procedures—but to limit the number of patients who can get the care they need.

And in Washington, a new report from the University of Washington Center for Human Rights raises concerns about automated license plate readers, and how they could be used to target immigrants and those seeking abortions from states where the procedure is illegal. From UWCHR Director Angelina Godoy:

“It’s a huge area of concern, because we already know that people who are opposed to abortion access or the practice of abortion are already, in some cases, willing to resort to violence and harassment, to stop abortions from happening or to deny people access to abortion. And this is a technology that they can use towards that end.”

North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper spoke about how he’s going to handle Republican lawmakers’ attempts to limit abortion in 2023, saying “North Carolina’s law is already strict enough when it comes to restricting women’s reproductive freedom.” Agreed.

In Michigan, Proposal 3—which enshrines abortion rights in the state constitution—takes effect next week. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive to implement the rule yesterday—you can check out her remarks and some backstory in this local television segment:

Quick hits:

  • The Associated Press writes about the Tennessee poll I told you about yesterday, and how voters in the state don’t understand that abortion is totally banned;

  • More information on possible efforts in Illinois to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution;

  • All eyes on Wisconsin state Supreme Court elections, which could have a huge impact on abortion rights in the state;

  • and students protested this week in support of bills that would mandate New York SUNY and CUNY schools provide abortion medication on campus.

In the nation…

Crisis pregnancy centers trick women into thinking they’re going to an abortion clinic by mimicking the logos of real clinics: The sign on the left is from the (now-closed) Florida Women’s center, an abortion clinic in Jacksonville; the photo on the right is a crisis pregnancy center that opened directly across the street.

The Guardian and Reveal have published a terrific, comprehensive piece on crisis pregnancy centers—getting into the various ways they lie to women and how the lack of regulation lets them get away with it. Even if you think you know all about how CPCs operate, check out the article because I’m betting you’ll learn something new. It outlines, for example, how centers will get around requirements to have medical professionals on board if they want to provide ultrasounds or other medical care by recruiting licensed doctors as ‘volunteers’ to list on their staff. But these people never come into the clinic and are often accredited in areas like urology that have nothing to do with women’s health. Others simply won’t have any medical staff at all, but still present themselves as a medical clinic:

“The vast majority of states don’t require centers that provide medical services to be licensed or inspected. In many states, tanning salons, massage parlors and even pet stores face significantly stricter oversight.”

Dr Jasmine Patel, an OB-GYN with Physicians for Reproductive Health says, “In any other field of medicine, this would not be tolerated. How can you just set up shop and claim to be medical but have no medical training?” Meanwhile, in those same states an abortion clinic can be shut down for not having ‘adequate lighting’.

I’ve told you about the various conservative efforts to get the Department of Veteran Affairs to reverse their decision to provide abortions in the limited circumstances of rape, incest and protecting the health of the pregnant person. Now a nurse at a VA medical facility in Texas is suing the department over their decision, claiming it violates her religious beliefs. (VA staff are allowed to recuse themselves from providing care that goes against their religion, so I’m not sure how they think this case will work…)

At a panel this week about Hollywood in a post-Roe world, female showrunners talked about taking action to protect staff working in anti-abortion states: “You’re asking people to go work in states where they don’t have fundamental human rights or access to health care and people’s life events happen while they’re on set.”

I flagged this article yesterday, but I’m going to post it here again because that’s how important I think it is. The Washington Post has an in-depth look at the conservative attacks on abortion medication and what their (very troubling) strategies are.

And here’s another brutal, but honest, ad about the reality of abortion bans (trigger warning for pregnancy loss, fetal abnormality):

Quick hits:

  • Salon on the changing anti-abortion strategy of Catholic bishops;

  • White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice responded to the latest maternal mortality report by saying the “devastating Dobbs decision underscores that we need to keep battling relentlessly to protect and advance women's maternal health”;

  • and FiveThirtyEight on how Gen Z could transform American politics (including on abortion).

Listen up…

NPR’s Morning Edition has a segment on the Republican war against ballot measures that’s really worth listening to—it gets into the nitty gritty of what ballot measures are and how abortion plays into it all. (The accompanying article is also good!)

Keep an eye on…

We need to pay attention to conservative attacks on IVF. This is something I’ve been flagging here for a while: Anti-abortion laws are already impacting fertility treatments, and any state that has an abortion ban or personhood law is at risk of restricting IVF treatments. And while Republicans keep claiming that they aren’t interested in limiting access to fertility care, they are being deliberately cagey: They’ll say that they won’t ‘ban’ IVF, for example, but will dance around questions about restricting specific pieces of the IVF process—like discarding embryos.

We already know that national anti-choice organizations are advising state lawmakers to wait a little bit before they go after IVF and contraception (as evidenced by a recent leaked phone call), and some states have already started to put legal limits in place around IVF. Axios points out, for example, that it’s illegal to discard an unused embryo unless it’s deemed nonviable in Louisiana; that Virginia lawmakers have pre-filed a bill that defines life as beginning at conception without an exception for embryos created during IVF. Meanwhile in Georgia, Republicans have introduced legislation in the past to limit the number of embryos that can be created, and South Dakota Republicans considered a bill last year that would have forced doctors to track how many embryos were created during the IVF process and report them to the state.

All of which is to say—this is going to get complicated, fast. And Democrats are not doing us any favors; this month they just launched a bipartisan caucus that seeks to divorce IVF issues from abortion. As I wrote earlier this month, this is a move that plays directly into the notion that abortion is somehow distinct from other ‘credible’ areas of women’s reproductive health.

So definitely keep your eyes on this one.

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