Dec 6, 2022 • 13M

Abortion, Every Day (12.6.22)

Meta memo: Workers can no longer talk about abortion

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

All eyes are on Georgia today, as votes come in for the Senatorial run-off. Yesterday, Sen. Raphael Warnock spoke with MSNBC’s Joy Reid about the race—pay particular attention to what he says about Herschel Walker’s anti-abortion extremism, and the lie that anti-choice people have the moral and religious high ground.

Also in Georgia, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America urges people to “vote like your future depends on it.” From Alexis McGill Johnson:

“We need leaders who are going to defend our freedom, not take it away. Every person is the expert in their own life, and we must trust them to make their own decisions about their health, their family, and their future. No one can or should make these decisions for someone else.”

Like most pro-choice states, Oregon is seeing a huge influx of out-of-state patients—and the doctors who provide abortions there are completely overwhelmed. Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, an OBGYN and professor at Oregon Health & Science University, says the state needs more places where abortions can be performed, and more health care providers who have been properly trained. (A third of the state’s hospital beds, for example, are in Catholic-affiliated facilities where doctors don’t provide abortions and don’t know how to give one.) From Dr. Rodriguez:

“I’ve taken transfer calls from outside hospitals where they had a woman who was 19 weeks with a desired pregnancy, hemorrhaging because her placenta had attached abnormally and they didn’t know how to take care of her, because they hadn’t done a D&E because they weren’t trained in how to do it. So their plan was to hopefully stabilize her with transfusions and fluids and Life Flight her to OHSU for an abortion, or they were going to do a hysterectomy, which would have meant she could never have had kids, which is an incredibly invasive solution to a bread-and-butter ob-gyn procedure. People don’t recognize how patched together coverage is.”

Women in Louisiana are paying more than $2,000 to get abortions in the wake of Roe being overturned. The New Orleans Abortion Fund (NOAF) says on average, they are needing to give clients over $700 towards the cost of the abortion, and over $1600 towards travel, lodging, food and other costs. Tyler Barbarin, a board member of the fund, says, “The actual dollar amount that it requires to get somebody to take care of childcare, to take care of transportation, to take care of meals—it's just kind of mind-blowing.” (You can donate to the fund here)

A Virginia woman seeking an abortion unwittingly ended up a crisis pregnancy center, where she was told that abortion could give her breast cancer (not true) and that if she ended her 4-week pregnancy with medication she would see little hands or feet come out (really not true). The center she went to, like all crisis pregnancy centers, has a deceptive website where they claim to do “pre-abortion consultations” and “can help you to make the best decision for you, whether you have already decided to parent, abort, or are still undecided.” A reminder that crisis pregnancy centers are often state-funded: the organization that runs this particular CPC, for example, got over $265,000 in government grants in 2020. (The president of the organization pays himself a little over $214,000 a year.)

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I’ll take some good news: Prinsburg, the small town in Minnesota I told you about last week, backed off their proposal to allow people to sue abortion providers after the state attorney general got on their case. Incredibly, Republican Rep. Tim Miller told an Associated Press reporter that he and other anti-choicers are going to try again in other rural Minnesota towns: “We are definitely moving forward.”

Anti-choice activists aren’t letting the will of citizens stop them in Kansas, either. Groups there are pushing Republicans to support various abortion restrictions, from a ‘Born Alive’ bill (like the one that was defeated in Montana) to a total ban.

In Missouri, Democratic state senator Greg Razer has filed legislation that would classify ectopic pregnancies as a medical emergency in the state’s abortion law, and make clear that birth control is still legal. Since that’s something that apparently needs to be said explicitly now. Sigh.

Also in Missouri, Republican Sen. Elaine Gannon filed legislation to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage in response to the state’s horrific maternal mortality rate. Gannon said, “Taking care of Missouri’s most vulnerable population is an issue we should all be able to support.” Sounds good in theory—but if you’re not talking about abortion when you’re taking on maternal mortality, you are doing jack shit. Take, for example, the fact that the state’s report on maternal mortality put out this year doesn’t mention abortion once—even though we know that states without abortion access have worse maternal mortality rates. (The report mentions contraception once, in passing.)

California state senator Nancy Skinner introduced a bill yesterday to further the state’s status as safe haven for abortion and gender-affirming care. The bill would ban bail agents and bounty hunters from apprehending people who traveled to California in order to get abortions or gender-affirming healthcare, and to avoid their own state’s criminalization of such care. Skinner says if the bill passes, it “will ensure that those who come to California fleeing persecution by other states will be free from the worry that a bounty hunter could snatch them up and send them back.”

Quick hits:

  • A Colorado teen is fighting for better sex education, something that’s admirable but that she really shouldn’t have to do;

  • A former Illinois Democratic congressman—Dan Lipinski, who served 8 terms and was ousted in 2020—argues in favor of a federal abortion ban;

  • And the field director for the ACLU of Florida, Natishia June, writes in an op-ed about how the state’s 15-week abortion ban disproportionately impacts those in rural areas—and how hospital closures tend to happen in communities of color.

In the nation…

Management at Meta, the company that houses Facebook and Instagram, has sent around a memo to employees banning them from talking about abortion at work. Fortune reports that in the internal guidance from Lori Goler, the head of people at Meta, workers were told that “we’re doing this to ensure that internal discussions remain respectful, productive, and allow us to focus.” The rules, which are effective immediately, say that employees can no longer discuss not only abortion—but elections, political movements, weapon ownership, and vaccine efficacy.

“We’re increasing the number of topics that can no longer be discussed at work based on what we’ve seen to be very disruptive in the past,” Goler wrote. This seems…difficult to enforce? Slightly bizarre? (What’s more important to me is that the company start to remove all of the abortion misinformation on the platform.)

A new report from the Abortion Care Network shows that the number of independent abortion clinics that have closed more than doubled in the last year. The report also points out the special role that independent clinics play in abortion care in America: All of the clinics that provider later abortions are independent, they’re more likely to provide medication and in clinic care, and that “independent providers operate the majority of abortion clinics in the states that are most politically hostile to abortion access.”

The Biden Administration hasn’t managed to take any executive action that has made a meaningful difference in anti-choice states, the Associated Press reports. The executive director at Pro-Choice Ohio, for example, says, “The impact has not been felt.”

And this is cool: The Columbia Journalism Review has a new issue dedicated to abortion and what it’s like for journalists post-Roe: “Doing our job well has the highest stakes.” Some of the articles include pieces on the danger that pro-choice activists are in if they speak to the media using their real identities (and how journalists should rethink anonymous sourcing as “a form of compassion”); a look at the dangerous spread of misinformation about abortion and contraception; and interviews with those who’ve been sources for stories on abortion, and what that experience has been like.

Can’t wait to get into all of the articles in the issue. That said, a friendly reminder that the best kind of journalism on abortion right now is independent feminist coverage that is pissed off right alongside you. :)

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Quick hits:

What conservatives are saying…

In an op-ed for Newsweek, two major players in the anti-abortion movement complain that too much of international women’s health policies and funding is done by pro-choice people. (Could it be that people who care about such issues recognize the importance of abortion access??) Valerie Huber (who I’ve written about before) and Elyssa Koren of hate-group Alliance for Defending Freedom, write that the U.S. should look to countries like Guatemala for cues on how to be ‘pro-life.’ I’m sure they simply forgot that Guatemala punishes abortion with TWENTY FIVE YEARS IN PRISON.

You love to see it…

GDS&M's 'Forced Mother's Day' campaign

Don’t know how I missed this, but wow. Texas-based ad agency GSD&M put out “Forced Mother’s Day” cards as part of a campaign right before Roe was overturned. Really powerful stuff.

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