In the states…
Here we go. Since Texas passed a law allowing citizens to sue over abortion, we knew we’d see a case like this—and we knew exactly the kind of a man who would bring it. Marcus Silva of Galveston County is suing three women he accuses of helping his ex-wife obtain an abortion.
Silva, who got divorced last month and has two children with his ex-wife, is represented by Jonathan Mitchell—one of the architects of the state’s abortion ban. He’s suing for $1 million in damages.
Silva claims that his then-wife found out she was pregnant a month after Roe was overturned, and that three of her friends helped her get abortion medication—something the lawsuit calls “murderous actions.” The suit claims that the friends texted Silva’s ex-wife information about Aid Access, that they eventually found a way to get the pills in Houston, and that a third woman delivered the medication. From The Texas Tribune:
“The lawsuit relies heavily on screenshots from a group chat the ex-wife had with two friends seemingly seeking to help her terminate her pregnancy. Her friends expressed concern that Silva, her soon to be ex-husband, would ‘snake his way into your head.’
‘I know either way he will use it against me,’ the pregnant woman said, according to text messages attached to the complaint. ‘If I told him before, which I’m not, he would use it as [a way to] try to stay with me. And after the fact, I know he will try to act like he has some right to the decision.’
“Delete all conversations from today,” one of the women later told her. “You don’t want him looking through it.”
These alleged texts included in the lawsuit are meant to demonstrate that these friends were conspiring with Silva’s ex-wife; they’re supposed to make us believe that they were doing something wrong. But I think any women who read this exchange (assuming it’s real) will see it very differently. This sounds like friends trying to help a woman who is dealing with manipulative, controlling husband.
This is exactly what feminists have been warning about since Texas made it possible for citizens to sue each other over abortion: That it would enable abusive partners and ex-partners to harass women. I’ll keep you updated as I find out more.
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Since Roe was overturned, we’ve seen numerous lawsuits challenging state abortion bans based on the idea of religious freedom—essentially pointing out that one group’s religious view of pregnancy and personhood shouldn’t trump another’s. Yesterday, Dahlia Lithwick at Slate wrote a must-read about one such case in Indiana, and a particularly offensive legal response: “The pernicious notion that only ‘pro-life’ groups have sincerely held religious views on abortion.”
Lithwick reports that an amicus brief defending Indiana’s abortion ban from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty argues that the Jewish group that brought forward the lawsuit was lying about their religion. Seriously. Highly recommend reading the whole article, though get ready to be furious.
Related: In West Virginia, the governor just signed what Republicans are calling a religious freedom law—what the legislation is actually meant to do, though, is allow discrimination against LGBTQ people. But get this; the law (again, which lawmakers claim is about religious freedom!) has a clause that bans it from being used to argue for abortion rights. So, religious freedom, unless my religion disagrees. Make it make sense! By the way, also this week in West Virginia: Lawmakers rejected proposed bans on child marriage and spousal rape.
Unbelievable: Ohio’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon Kennedy has appointed a judge who served on the board of an anti-abortion center as a fill-in justice on…the state’s abortion ban case. Kennedy appointed Judge Matthew Byrne, who was on the advisory board of Pregnancy Center East in Cincinnati, to replace Justice Joe Deters (who recused himself.)
Abortion providers in Florida are preparing for the likely-to-be-passed 6-week abortion ban. Stephanie Fraim, the president of Planned Parenthood of Southwest & Central Florida, says that the group will help those past 6 weeks of pregnancy by directing them to states where they can get the care they need. “We have always abided by the law,” she says. “And we will continue to do so even when those laws are wrong.”
By the way, a new poll of Florida Republicans found that over 60% opposed the six-week ban. Of Republicans! (The Associated Press also has a short explainer on the bill, for those interested.)
Missouri voters may be able to restore abortion access in the state if a ballot measure gets in front of voters next year. The amendment, created by the group Missourians for Constitutional Freedom, would change the state constitution to declare that the government can’t infringe on people’s reproductive freedom, including abortion, birth control and miscarriage care.
Just a reminder, however, that Missouri’s Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, had to be forced by a court to approve the petitions for the ballot measure. Because like Republican lawmakers in the state who are trying to raise the standards for ballot measures to require 60% of the vote to pass (instead of a simple majority), Ashcroft is desperate to keep the issue out of voters’ hands. And that’s why this makes me incredibly nervous: Ashcroft’s office is in charge of writing summaries of the proposed constitutional amendments, which serve as voter guides. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I…don’t like that at all.
I love my home state: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Tish James are calling on Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid to dispense abortion medication in their state and throughout the country. In a letter to the companies’ CEOs, Hochul and James call on the pharmacies “to commit to making this critical medication available as widely as possible” and reminds them that the law in New York is clearcut: “Abortion is legal and protected as a fundamental right under state law, and there are no legal barriers to dispensing mifepristone in New York pharmacies.”
Let’s keep up the good news and good practices: In Colorado, Democratic lawmakers have introduced three bills to protect abortion and gender-affirming care in the state. One bill would block legal action from out-of-state; another would ban deceptive advertising (looking at you, anti-abortion centers!); the third would create changes to health insurance policies to further protect patients and their privacy.
New Hampshire Republicans stopped legislation to enshrine abortion rights in the state;
Suspended Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren’s lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis has been fast-tracked on appeal;
And VICE on the censored art in Idaho that I’ve been covering this week.
In the nation…
It’s Abortion Provider Appreciation Day! So thank an abortion provider today, and let them know how much you appreciate all that they do—and all that they risk—to bring people the care and dignity they deserve. If a provider happens to be reading, thank you. There are no words that could do my appreciation justice. (If you’d like to do something else for a provider today, consider donating to a local clinic!)
If you’re a regular reader, you know that Republicans across multiple states have introduced legislation that would classify abortion as a homicide and prosecute it as such. The Guardian gets into that legislative trend today, and speaks to abortion rights experts about what it says about the anti-choice movement. Dana Sussman, acting executive director of Pregnancy Justice, says the move “exposes a fundamental lie of the anti-abortion movement, that they oppose the criminalization of the pregnant person.” Sussman also makes an incredibly important point in the article about how these laws “never starts or stops with abortion.”
“That means that not getting prenatal care, not taking pre-natal vitamins, working a job that is physically demanding—all of those things could impose some risk to the fetus—and that could be a child neglect or child abuse case.”
The good news, however (I know, I know—it’s not really good, but I’ll take it) is that there does seems to be a divide in the anti-abortion movement between those who want to focus on criminalization and those who don’t.
A reporter who wrote about abortion medication for Ms. in 1978 has written a piece for The New Yorker about how the war against the pills have been decades in the making. I especially appreciated this part about how abortion medication threw a wrench in the anti-choice movement’s messaging strategy:
“At the time, anti-abortion campaigners were brandishing ultrasound images that purported to show fetuses crying out in pain as they were being surgically removed. [Abortion medication] threatened to stymie this tactic: there would be no fetal development to flaunt. Even the president of the National Right to Life Committee acknowledged that there was little P.R. value in images of what appeared to be menstruating women.”
And if you’re not reading Garnet Henderson over at Rewire, you should remedy that. Her latest is a terrific investigative piece about one of the many abortion medication telehealth companies that have popped up in the last few months, and how well-meaning folks may have gotten in over their head.
Business is booming for online birth control companies;
Walgreens, on the other hand, is taking some hits and it not very happy about it;
Stateline looks at how pro-choice states are taking proactive measures to protect abortion;
The Associated Press gets into the post-Dobbs guilt bills that Republicans are suddenly supporting;
And the first woman president in Honduras has legalized emergency contraception.
Keep an eye on…
We have to be paying attention to clinic violence and harassment. I’ve been raising the alarm for a while now, for example, about what’s going on in Clearwater, Florida in front of the Bread & Roses Woman’s Health Center. Clinic escorts and defenders have been keeping track on TikTok—this one for example, chilled me to the bone. It’s clearly very, very bad out there.
I was MSNBC last night talking about abortion with Alex Wagner. You can watch the full episode here (I’m in the last segment), or you can be on the lookout for an email from me later tonight with the video. For some reason Substack won’t let me embed it as anything other than its own email, sigh.
You love to see it…
In better news, this is very cool: Artist Alina Bliumis has a new series called “Plant Parenthood”—paintings of plants that double as abortifacients.
In student activism news: Miami University in Ohio will be the first in the state to offer emergency contraception in a campus vending machine, while students at Temple University in Pennsylvania are calling for the same.
And I love this so much:
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