Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (1.26.23)

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Abortion, Every Day (1.26.23)

Republicans want to 'clarify' what constitutes a life saving abortion

In the states…

It’s the misogyny. It’s always the misogyny. A man arrested for the firebombing of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Peoria, Illinois told law enforcement that he did it because he was upset that a former girlfriend had an abortion “against his wishes.” Fuck this guy.

You probably remember that the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that Republicans’ abortion ban violated the state constitution, but that isn’t stopping conservatives from trying to push restrictions anyway. Yesterday, Gov. Henry McMaster said he would file for a rehearing in front of the Court, and Rep. John McCravy introduced a bill that would ban abortion from conception—as opposed to the previous ban’s six week restriction—something he thinks will satisfy the legal concerns of the state Supreme Court judges:

“In his opinion, Justice John Cannon Few wrote that by banning abortion at roughly six weeks, the General Assembly had created an interest in making ‘an informed choice about whether to continue a pregnancy’ that undercut the the state's interest in stopping abortions altogether.”

Essentially, if they violate a woman’s privacy entirely, as opposed to creating a situation where she could get an abortion, the state could make an argument that the violation is “reasonable.” Does your head hurt, too? (Related: Also in South Carolina, Democrats are pushing to codify Roe.)

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A bill banning abortion medication in Wyoming has passed the state’s Senate health committee (the state’s abortion ban is currently blocked). If successful, the bill would not only punish doctors or pharmacists who dispense the medication with a $9,000 fine and jail time, but would make the pills—also used for miscarriage management—impossible to obtain in the state. OBGYN Dr. Giovannina Anthony said if the law passes, “This will truly be a crisis in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology…the reality of banning and criminalizing these drugs is they will not be available.”

Kansas Republicans are pushing for increased funding to crisis pregnancy centers, including tax credits for those who donate to the fake clinics and an approximately $8 million in taxpayer money.

More of this please! California has allocated $20 million towards physical and digital security for abortion clinics. A spokesperson from the state’s Office of Emergency Services pointed out the uptick in threats against abortion clinics and providers, and how in the past, the state has made funds available to churches and other places that might be threatened. This will be the first time money will be available specifically to clinics.

“Increasing protection of the sites can include adding short vertical barriers, fences or gates to improve physical security,” [Brian] Ferguson said, as well as adding malware, password protectors and training to improve digital security.

“The threats we face in 2023 and beyond are no longer just physical threats,” he said. “There are cybersecurity threats, and in many cases, providers don't have the level of sophistication in terms of some of their operations.”

Really great stuff, especially the understanding that ‘safety’ goes beyond the physical.

Rhode Island Democrats have spent years trying to pass legislation that would ensure those on Medicaid have coverage for abortion, to no avail. But that was before Roe was overturned. Pro-choicers hope that a renewed focus on abortion rights might give the bill the push it needs to make it to the governor.

More from pro-choice states: Massachusetts abortion providers say they’re seeing a steady stream of out-of-state patients; Connecticut is pushing a “Safe Harbor Fund” to help out-of-state patients travel to Connecticut for abortion care; and New York is considering more abortion rights protections for doctors who prescribe abortion medication via telehealth. The bill would provide legal protections for physicians who might otherwise be targeted by out-of-state prosecution. Sen. Shelley Mayer said, “New York has been and continues to be a nationwide leader for reproductive rights. We will not forego or forget our sisters across state lines.”

Quick hits:

In the nation…

House Democrats reintroduced a bill, the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, to reverse the Hyde Amendment—which prohibits Medicaid funds to be used for abortion. The bill isn’t likely to go anywhere, but I’m glad to see Democrats pushing it anyway, and bringing attention to exactly how unjust the Hyde Amendment is. California Rep. Barbara Lee said, “The Hyde Amendment disproportionately impacts and restricts low-income people, primarily Black and brown communities, from accessing the full range of reproductive health services that they should be afforded. So it's discriminatory and racist.”

By the way: Most Americans support expanding Medicaid to cover all pregnancy care, including abortion.

The Harvard Gazette has a piece on how abortion restrictions put maternal health and life at risk based on a new study on abortion rights in El Salvador. Researchers looked at six years of cases where pregnant women with severe fetal abnormalities were denied abortions and forced to remain pregnant. What the found, of course, was horrific—and it’s what we can expect to see in the U.S. Harvard sociologist Jocelyn Viterna says she sees a connection between the way that doctors in El Salvador were legally forced to give substandard care to protect themselves from criminal prosecution, and what’s happening here in America. But this is the quote I really wanted to flag:

“The more time I spend working on cases in El Salvador, the more I’m convinced that we cannot legislate abortion. There’s no way to legally define viability. There’s no way to legally define the exact moment when a woman’s life is in danger or not. Pregnancy on its own is high-risk. Anytime someone is pregnant, it brings risks to the health and to the life of the pregnant person.”

This is exactly right—and what I argued in a column back in September: “There is no law, no policy or mandate, that can morally predict, control, or punish the infinite number of things that can happen when a person is pregnant.” It’s something we need to hammer home as Republicans across anti-choice states try to define ‘life of the mother’ as if it’s something they can actually accurately do.

An NPR/Ipsos poll found that most Americans don’t know basic facts about abortion (like when women are most likely to end their pregnancies). You can test your knowledge here.

And a history professor writes at The Hill that the next wave of domestic terrorism will be attacks by anti-abortion extremists. The piece is definitely worth a read for the history alone, but I warn you it is scary:

“Antigovernment and white supremacist groups have embraced the anti-abortion cause. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, during the first six months of 2022, the Proud Boys engaged in counterprotests or harassed people ‘on at least 28 separate occasions at LGBTQ and reproductive justice events around the country.’”

Quick hits:

  • More information on the lawsuits seeking to increase access of abortion medication in anti-choice states;

  • Love this piece about the pilots at Elevated Access who are volunteering to fly women from anti-choice states to places they can get care;

  • Bloomberg on why abortion medication isn’t likely to get a fair shake in the courts;

  • At Vanity Fair, Molly Jong-Fast writes about how dangerous it is to be pregnant in post-Roe America;

  • And The Daily Beast on the new documentary about abortion medication, Plan C.

Listen up…

KALW, the public radio station in California’s Bay Area, has a segment on abortion doulas; and KUOW in Washington gets into how abortion bans make treating miscarriages more complicated (if not impossible).

Keep an eye on…

Republicans in multiple states are working on redefining what exactly constitutes ‘life of the mother’ in their abortion bans. It’s part of a broader move to preempt the inevitable public outcry when women’s deaths-by-abortion-bans start to be reported. Already, we’ve seen women’s lives endangered by deliberately vague abortion legislation that puts doctors in the position of having to decide just how sick a woman has to be in order to qualify for an abortion—with, horrifically, the threat of jail time hanging over their head if they don’t make the ‘correct’ decision.

Tennessee Republicans have already been making noise about changing their law (which has no protections for women’s lives, just an affirmative defense mandate), and now in South Dakota, lawmakers say they want to specify under what circumstances the threat to a woman’s life is serious enough to necessitate an abortion. Lawmakers are looking at similar bills in Texas, North Dakota, and Oklahoma—where this week Republicans introduced a bill to “clarify” what exactly constitutes an abortion.

Pay attention to that word—‘clarify’. Republicans are using it quite a bit these days: South Dakota Rep. Taylor Rehfeldt said, “Health care providers are a little bit confused and need some clarifications about how we best care for moms”; and Oklahoma’s Sen. Greg Treat, said, “I've talked to physicians who needed clarity on what the law actually meant because they were reading social media and trying to figure out what could they do, and they were talking to their lawyers at the hospital.”

But here’s the thing—doctors don’t need ‘clarifications’, they need the freedom to do their jobs without the fear of prison time. And let’s be clear, Republicans don’t care about the danger this poses to women. These moves to amend their legislation are solely about anticipating women dying, and doing everything they can to blame doctors instead of their laws.

Today’s newsletter was compiled with the help of researcher Grace Haley.

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Daily audio updates & commentary on abortion in the United States.
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Jessica Valenti