Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (2.28.23)

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Abortion, Every Day (2.28.23)

Texas bill would make pro-choice websites illegal

In the states…

Just when you thought Texas couldn’t get any more extreme: A new bill proposed in the state would force internet providers to block access to any website that carries information about abortion medication or tells women how get an abortion. HB2690, introduced by Rep. Steve Toth also names specific websites that he wants access banned to in the state, including Aid Access, Hey Jane, Plan C Pills, and others. The legislation would also allow people to take civil action against internet service providers who don’t block those websites.

But wait, it gets worse. The bill would allow for the prosecution of abortion funds—charging the groups, or anyone who raises money for abortion care, with a felony. The legislation also calls for the state Attorney General to investigate and charge abortion funds using the RICO Act, which is meant to go after organized crime. And this comes just days after a federal judge ruled that abortion funds in Texas would be safe from prosecution.

Republicans in South Carolina tried to pass similar legislation earlier this year, through a bill that would outlaw giving out information about abortion over the internet or phone. This is truly terrifying.

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More from Texas: A mom there shared her story of ordering abortion medication online with CNN: “When I held the package in my hand, I felt so much relief.” It’s distressing to hear her talk about being fearful that someone could turn her in because of the state’s ‘bounty hunter’ laws—but she also says something that I think will resonate: “I love my life, I love my family; and that’s why we made this decision, because I love my life and my family.”

Tennessee lawmakers continue to fight it out over the state’s abortion ban—specifically the lack of an exception for women’s lives. (Some background on what’s happening on the state here, here, here, and here.) Two updates from the state: The first is that state Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti has concerns that the ban won’t survive a legal challenge. The second is that despite that concern, lawmakers are putting the bill that would add an exception for women’s lives on hold. This comes in the wake of pressure from Tennessee Right to Life, who wants the legislation to remain as it is. But even Republicans think the law is too extreme: Sen. Richard Briggs said that the ban risks mothers’ lives and that, “quite frankly, I think it’s an anti-family bill.”

That said, please please please remember that even if legislators end up removing the affirmative defense mandate and putting in an exception for women’s lives, abortion ban exceptions do not work. We already know this from all the other states that claim to have exceptions—whether it’s for rape, incest, health or life—and women are still denied care.

Also in Tennessee: Here’s an update on Allie Phillips, the woman who was denied abortion care despite her fetus having a fatal abnormality. Phillips, who is being forced to travel to New York for her abortion, says that she feels certain women will die because of abortion bans. “Doesn’t seem very pro-life if you ask me,” she says.

In Ohio, where pro-choice groups are working to protect abortion rights in the state constitution, legal experts say that a ballot measure win won’t necessarily be the end of the fight. Because Republicans have a super-majority, the concern is that the will of voters will be ignored even if the state constitution is changed. One political science professor pointed out, for example, that the state Supreme Court ruled multiple times that Ohio’s legislative and congressional district maps were unconstitutional—but they’re still being used. But lawyer Jessie Hill, who helped draft the constitutional amendment the groups are proposing, says, “This amendment is very clear and very straightforward and we think it will be very difficult for courts, for politicians, for others to ignore or sort of twist its meaning.”

While other pro-choice states are making moves to defund anti-abortion centers (aka crisis pregnancy centers), Minnesota Democrats may allow them to continue operating and receiving state funds under a set of new regulations. ProPublica reports that Rep. Liz Olson’s Positive Pregnancies Support Act would give anti-abortion centers funding under the following conditions:

“It would require that services such as ultrasounds be provided and interpreted by a licensed medical professional. It stipulates that food, clothing, housing assistance or similar services be provided in a manner that is not predicated on an agreement to view an ultrasound or enroll in certain classes or counseling. And it further shores up privacy protections for clients.”

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It would also mandate that groups provide “evidence-based, accurate information” and that they give referrals to abortion care upon request. Which, of course, has anti-abortion centers pretty pissed off. I’ll be honest, stuff like this makes me nervous because I don’t believe you can trust any of these centers to actually abide by the rules. That said, activists on the ground who know more than I do seem excited by the prospect. Ashley Underwood of Equity Forward, for example, told ProPublica, “We absolutely can design a better path forward, and I think that Minnesota is really taking the lead and being an example of how to do that.”

What is pretty cool is that the legislation would allow abortion clinics and pro-choice groups to apply for grants so that they can offer services to pregnant people and parents. I’ll definitely keep you updated as I find out more.

After months of refusing to support a postpartum Medicaid extension, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves changed his mind, which has opened the door for legislation in the state that would extend coverage from two months to a year. In the meantime, what I would keep an eye out for is what’s happening in Missouri, where Republicans are trying to amend the rules around the expansion so that any woman who ends her pregnancy is ineligible for the coverage.

The Kansas City Star editorial board actually came out against that move yesterday, arguing that if the anti-abortion language stays, it could stop Missouri women from getting expanded coverage, which “would be a tragedy.” They also get a nice dig in, pointing out that while Republicans have been working hard to punish women who have abortions, “they have been less diligent about ensuring that Missouri is a state where it is medically safe to carry a pregnancy to term.”

Related: The Kaiser Family Foundation has a tracker for states considering postpartum Medicaid extensions. This map was last updated on 2/23/23.

Anti-abortion activists protested in Maryland yesterday, where the state is set to expand and protect abortion rights. I normally wouldn’t link to this kind of thing (not exactly news-worthy), but I had to flag this protest sign reading “equal rights for every body.” I’ve talked before about the way that conservatives are co-opting feminist language, and this is just another example of that. The good news is that it’s a sign that those on the Right know that feminism appeals to people. The bad news, of course, is that they’re appropriating the rhetoric of equality in order to punish and criminalize women. So definitely keep an eye out for more of this kind of language in the coming months.

Quick hits:

In the nation…

Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke to Joy Reid on MSNBC yesterday about the lawsuit over abortion medication. I love her so much, honestly—and I so appreciate that she laid out exactly what could happen should this conservative judge ban mifepristone, and reminded us that we have options.

Obviously, we’re still waiting on that ruling—but it seems that most folks in the know are expecting a negative outcome. (I know that I am, though I’d love to be proven wrong.) In fact, I came across an article today from a major publication that was accidentally preemptively published saying that abortion medication was banned nationwide. Goes to show that editors certainly believe that the ruling will be an anti-abortion win.

I told you yesterday how the ultra-Christian reality television star Jessa Duggar Seewald shared her story of needing an abortion—but that she called it a miscarriage. (Which is an increasing trend among conservatives.) Today, reporter Emily Bloch at The Philadelphia Inquirer laid out the controversy, and flagged something I wasn’t aware of: Seewald has compared abortion to the Holocaust. Obviously, as someone who supports abortion rights and has sympathy for anyone who has struggled with a health- or life-threatening pregnancy, I hope that Seewald is recovering and regains her health and strength soon. But as someone who writes about the suffering that abortion bans cause every day‚ this just infuriates me. Seewald was able to get the kind of care that she needed without question. And I’m sure she still thinks of herself as someone who is ‘better’ than someone who had a ‘real’ abortion. It just really gets under my skin.

Quick hits:

Listen up…

NPR has a short segment giving some background on the abortion medication lawsuit and what to expect in the coming days. It’s a good one to share if you know someone who needs info or a refresher.

And Wyoming Public Radio reports that hospitals in the state are concerned that they won’t be able to attract doctors if abortion becomes illegal (a ban there is currently blocked). They spoke to Natalie Meadows Eggleton, who grew up in Wyoming, and is now finishing her OBGYN residency. Eggleton says she always wanted to practice in her home state, but that an abortion ban would stop her: “They create a wall where I have to make decisions for my own self-preservation as opposed to decisions that would help my patients with whatever it is that they're needing help with…that presented an unacceptable level of risk and conflict.”

What conservatives are saying…

Not that you needed a reminder of how misogynist Republicans are, but here’s a good one just in case: Conservatives and anti-abortion groups are coming out against the Equal Rights Amendment. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, for example, has put out a policy explainer on the ERA, claiming that it’s “problematic” (remember what I said about them co-opting feminist language?) and would allow abortion up until birth. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser says, “Democrats’ push to rewrite the rules to install the ERA is about enshrining abortion on demand until birth in the U.S. Constitution—the opposite of equal rights.” And a representative from the Heritage Foundation wrote an op-ed saying, “To protect the lives of women and their unborn children, lawmakers must oppose the national Equal Rights Amendment.”

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Keep an eye on…

Violence at abortion clinics. Earlier this month, I told you how clinic workers in Florida were begging city officials in Clearwater to help with increasing harassment and threats at the Bread and Roses Woman’s Health Center. One volunteer said, “It’s a tinderbox ready to explode. The question isn’t if, it’s when.” This week, the police department joined in asking the City Council to enact a buffer zone at the clinic—with the police chief actually going before the council to show them body-cam footage of how volatile the situation outside the clinic has become. This comes after a video of anti-abortion protesters at a South Carolina clinic went viral on TikTok:

People need to understand that these ‘activists’ have become even more emboldened by the end of Roe, and that they are putting people’s lives in danger.

You love to see it…

Wendy Davis, our favorite filibuster queen, just announced that she’ll be leading Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:

“I’ve dedicated much of my life to pushing back against extremist attacks on our most fundamental rights. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines while those same actors attempt to eradicate the crucial healthcare Planned Parenthood provides to patients across this state and this country each and every day.”

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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