Abortion, Every Day (12.6.23)
Young people are twice as likely to call themselves 'pro-choice' than 'pro-life'
In Attacks on Clinics, help me raise the alarm about a South Carolina clinic being targeted for closure. In the States, some good news out of Wisconsin. In Stats & Studies, a new poll shows that young people are really, really pro-choice. In the Nation, a few quick hits. In Republican Women & Birth Control, a reminder to never trust the GOP on contraception. And in 2024 news, there’s a GOP presidential debate tonight. Yes, another one!
Attacks on Clinics
If a community health center was being relentlessly attacked, harassed and threatened, you would think that city leaders would protect the clinic and the people working there, right? Not if you’re in Greenville, South Carolina!
Police keep being called to the Greenville Women’s Clinic, where the level of harassment from anti-abortion activists has reached a fever pitch. But instead of helping the clinic, City Council member Stan Tzouvelekas has introduced a resolution to shut the center down—claiming that the business is a nuisance because of how often law enforcement needs to go there.
That’s right—it’s not the harassers that are the problem, but the people being harassed. “In my book that’s a disturbance, that needs to be shut down and it needs to be cleaned up. That’s the problem,” Tzouvelekas said. He also made clear that this doesn’t really have anything to do with protecting the community from a “nuisance” at all—but punishing abortion clinics:
“We are a beacon of light in this county! The whole world is looking. Let them know we’re protecting children in Greenville County.”
Vicki Ringer of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic released a statement in solidarity with the clinic, saying, “these extremists are the nuisance to the community, not the providers of this essential health care.”
Just absolutely disgusting. To support the Greenville Women’s Clinic, click here.
This attack in South Carolina comes at a time when independent reproductive health care centers are under threat across the country. This week, the Abortion Care Network put out their annual report showing the way that independent clinics were disproportionately harmed by Roe’s demise—and what communities lose when they lose an independent clinic. I highly recommend reading the whole thing—I’m making my way through it now!
To support independent abortion clinics and the Abortion Care Network, click here.
In the States
We could use some good news: A Wisconsin judge has ruled (again) that an 1849 law doesn’t ban abortions, but ‘feticide’. You may remember this case from July: Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper ruled that the law Republicans argued was an abortion ban actually wasn’t a ban at all—but “a feticide statute only.” Meaning it would only apply to an attack on a pregnant person that ends their pregnancy, not abortion. At the time, Schlipper wrote, “There is no such thing as an ‘1849 Abortion Ban’ in Wisconsin.”
Yesterday, Schlipper reaffirmed that earlier ruling, keeping abortion legal in the state up until 22 weeks. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski says he plans to appeal the decision, and the expectation is that the case will end up in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is now has a liberal majority.
In the meantime, Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul celebrated the decision, with Evers calling it an “important victory in our fight to restore reproductive freedom” and Kaul tweeting: “Freedom wins. Equality wins. Women’s health wins.”
If you missed my piece earlier today on the Texas woman fighting for an emergency court order to obtain an abortion for her doomed pregnancy—and how it connects to broader anti-abortion strategy—check it out below:
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has responded to the Republican bill seeking to ban abortion after 15 days, saying, “I think it's safe to say we are putting this one in the crazy pile.” As NBC News points out, 15 days gestational age means if a fertilized egg exists at all, it hasn’t implanted in the uterus yet. Meaning: there’s not really such a thing as a 15-day pregnancy.
In Indiana, an appeals court heard arguments over the religious freedom challenge to the state’s abortion ban. As we’ve reported here previously, women of different faiths are suing over the state’s near-total ban, arguing that it violates their religious beliefs. Lawyers for the state claim that he case has no validity because the women that the ACLU brought the suit on behalf of aren’t pregnant yet. Yes, it’s very similar to the argument that Texas’s lawyer made before the state Supreme Court. But even better—lawyers for Indiana came very close to arguing back in October that the women were just being hysterical:
“Preserving human lives outweighs speculative concerns about hypothetical future pregnancies…Feelings of anxiety and changes to contraceptive and sexual practices—do not amount to substantial burdens on religious exercise.”
The Indiana Capital Chronicle has more.
Planned Parenthood in California is suing the city of Fontana—using the state’s recently-passed abortion rights amendment to do so. Some background: The organization was set to establish a new health center, and had gotten approval from city leaders. But when local churches learned about the clinic, they started protesting and putting pressure on the City Council. Just two weeks later, Planned Parenthood was told that the city was implementing a moratorium on building in the exact area that the their clinic was planned to be. The organization is the only group that will be impacted by the City Council’s decision.
It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. From Jon Dunn, president of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties:
“We did not want to be among the first organizations to file a lawsuit alleging violation of Californians' constitutional rights under Proposition 1. However, we have chosen to defend the rights of our community members against the city of Fontana, due to their deliberate actions to actively deny their community access to healthcare services.”
In Wyoming, where the state is set to defend two abortion bans in the state—one broad ban, and one banning abortion medication specifically—anti-abortion doctors have filed an amicus brief arguing that abortion isn’t healthcare.
And abortions in Washington have rapidly increased since Roe was overturned, largely because of out-of-state patients seeking care. The Seattle Times reports that over 20,000 abortions were performed in the state in 2022, nearly 4,000 more abortions than the previous year. (The increase also reversed a long-term decline of abortions in Washington.) Since Dobbs, the number of out-of-state abortion patients increased by 46%.
NowThis on Missouri Republicans’ dirty tricks on abortion rights ballot measures;
WBUR spoke to the new CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts about the future of abortion rights in the state;
Finally, a reminder that Ohio’s Issue 1—which enshrines abortion rights in the state constitution—takes effect tomorrow.
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Stats & Studies
Yet another poll on just how pro-choice this country is—especially when you’re talking about young people. Harvard University's Institute of Politics found that young people 18-29 years old are twice as likely to describe themselves as ‘pro-choice’ than as ‘pro-life.’ Over half of young voters also said they would “definitely” vote next year if an abortion rights amendment was on the ballot.
And in numbers that remind us of the brain drain AED keeps writing about: Nearly 70% of young women and 55% of young men say that abortion rights are important to them which picking out what state to live in.
Along the same lines: Soon-to-be doctors don’t want to live in anti-choice states, either. A new study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics reports that a whopping 77% of medical students say abortion access will influence their decision on where to work, with 72% saying it will influence their decision on where to start a family.
In the Nation
The Daily Beast on the violent and extremist history of Speaker Mike Johnson’s past clients—including the leader of the domestic terrorist group Operation Rescue;
Thanks to The 19th for this piece reminding folks that claims of fetal pain at 15-weeks into pregnancy are inaccurate;
In international news: CNN on how Roe being overturned lit a fire under France’s ass to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution;
And The Washington Post on how Poland’s anti-abortion law led to a decline in the birthrate—women simply don’t want to risk getting pregnant.
Republican Women & Birth Control
Back in August, Grace warned that Republican women were introducing meaningless legislation around birth control access to court moderate voters. Well, it seems as if Republican women in Idaho are taking that strategy and running with it: a group of them have started an organization they say will expand access to contraception.
The Idaho Contraceptive Education Network was started by former state senate candidate Tara Malek; former state representative Kelley Packer; and former state representative Laurie Lickley. All are anti-abortion. Packer said, “The most important message we can share is that life is so important and precious, and it should be prepared for in a thoughtful way.” Hmm.
It’s not at all clear what this group will actually do, just that for now it’s providing an awfully mainstream-friendly cover to anti-abortion women. Lickley, for example, actually cosponsored Idaho’s abortion ban, yet has tried to downplay her extreme anti-abortion record.
I’ll be looking into the group more, but I think it’s safe to say that nothing good comes from trusting Republicans on contraception. Remember this New York Times piece about the GOP women who said they were protecting birth control—but really they were defining pregnancy as beginning at fertilization rather than implementation? Which was a way to define emergency contraception and IUDs as abortifacients? Yeah, me too!
Gov. Ron DeSantis dodged questions over whether he’d pass a 6-week national ban as President;
The Guardian on Trump’s ‘moderate’ abortion strategy;
Chris Christie is going after other Republican candidates for not being straightforward on abortion rights;
Remember: We have another Republican presidential debate tonight, this time in Alabama. It’s on at 8pm EST.