In the states…
Florida lawmakers are set to debate the state’s proposed 6-week abortion ban today. A House panel, the Healthcare Regulation Subcommittee, is scheduled to discuss the legislation—which allows anyone who “actively participates” in an abortion to be charged with a felony.
Wisconsin Republicans are proposing a bill that would add rape and incest ‘exceptions’ to the state’s abortion ban—legislation they say would also clarify the language of the exception for women’s health and lives. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has made clear in the past that he will veto any abortion-related bill that doesn’t repeal the ban entirely, and reiterated as much in response to Republicans’ announcement: “I won’t sign a bill that leaves Wisconsin women with fewer rights and freedoms than they had before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe.”
And he shouldn’t. Because as is the case with all anti-abortion legislation, these exceptions aren’t real—just a way for Republicans to pretend as if they’re trying to compromise. Indeed, at the press conference announcing the bill, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos used a word that we’ve been flagging here at Abortion, Every Day for months: “We wanted to put an idea forward that shows we are willing to be reasonable.”
This is all about messaging and desperately trying to turn around polls showing that the majority of Wisconsin voters oppose the state’s ban. Republicans also know that a huge majority of Wisconsinites support rape and incest exceptions—a whopping 84%. Their hope is that pushing this bill, even if it’s completely unusable to actual rape victims, will buy them some good will with voters.
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Let’s talk about that nightmare lawsuit in Texas, where a man is suing his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her to obtain an abortion. You can always count on Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern at Slate to break down these sorts of cases and their latest, about how the suit is “rooted in a brazenly misogynistic desire to let men manipulate the legal system to control women’s bodies and keep them trapped in dangerous relationships,” is an absolute must-read.
Lithwick and Stern write that lawyer Jonathan Mitchell (architect of the bounty hunter mandate) knows he’s likely to lose, so the goal is to isolate and terrify pregnant people:
“The fear of winding up ensnared in a multi-million dollar lawsuit that ruins the lives of one’s closest friends is certainly a good motivator…More lawyers want all pregnant Texans to understand that they are being watched—in this case, by a vindictive ex—and will be reported to the state if they seek to terminate a pregnancy. They are never safe from men who will wield litigation as a tool to punish women who attempt to escape a manipulative partner. This is spousal abuse via lawsuit.”
THANK YOU. This is exactly what feminists have been saying ever since Texas enabled citizens to sue over abortion—that the law will be used by abusive men to punish their partners and ex-partners. Again, read the whole piece; it’s a necessary one.
Last week, I wrote about how conservatives in Ohio were already starting their messaging campaign against a pro-choice ballot measure expected to be in front of voters this November. I warned that their focus on ‘parental rights’ would mean that it was only a matter of time before they busted out the anti-trans rhetoric (just as anti-abortion activists did in Michigan). Right on cue, check out this advertisement from Protect Women Ohio:
Anti-abortion groups are terrified of ballot measures because know how popular abortion rights are. They’re hoping that maybe trans rights are less popular and that they can tap into the fear being cultivated right now in right wing media. It’s despicable.
Also in Ohio: I told you yesterday that the state Supreme Court will be reviewing the state’s abortion ban—and how the fill-in justice on the case served on the board of an anti-abortion center. A reminder that the Court won’t be ruling on the constitutionality of the ban, but instead will address questions over whether the state can appeal the current block on the law and whether or not abortion clinics have the standing to challenge the state’s ban. Bloomberg Law has more on the case today, specifically what it would mean if the state Supreme Court rules that clinics can’t challenge the law:
“A ‘no’ from Ohio’s top court will make it far more difficult for abortion advocates to fight this and future laws in the state because a patient’s first-party claim could be deemed moot by the time they get through the litigation process. Limiting the question in this manner thus gives Ohio’s justices the ability to end the challenge without addressing the core issue.”
Meanwhile, the abortion rate in Indiana has decreased significantly even though the state’s ban is currently blocked. Experts say, however, that’s likely not because women aren’t getting abortions—but that they’re getting them out-of-state, confused about the rapidly shifting legal landscape in Indiana. From OBGYN Dr. Katie McHugh:
“We still have patients coming in or calling into the clinic saying, ‘Where do I go? Can you refer me to a place out of state?’ And we’re like, ‘Sure. But we can also see you here.’ Even for the folks who are following this and are aware of the injunction, it’s still confusing.”
The lower rate could also be explained by the state’s shortage of abortion providers and clinic staff—a problem across multiple states with restrictions or legal battles over abortion.
Tennessee doctors continue to speak out against the state’s abortion ban, now noting that the language Republicans are touting as an ‘exception’ is anything but. And in The Tennessean, OBGYN Dr. Carolyn Thompson writes that “politicians attempting to control the practice of medicine in general and obstetrics and gynecology in particular have no understanding of the medical nuances involved, nor of the long-term and far-reaching ramifications of what they do.”
A federal judge is allowing Arizona legislators to defend an abortion ban in court after the state Attorney General said that she wouldn’t;
Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Iowa this week talking about abortion rights;
And Arkansas Republicans continue to try to pass a bill allowing for a “monument to the unborn” to be built on Capitol grounds.
In the nation…
All eyes are on Amarillo, Texas today and the hearing in the lawsuit against abortion medication. Abortion, Every Day researcher Grace Haley put together a terrific explainer if you need a refresher on anything.
The Washington Post reports that Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk “seemed open to the argument that mifepristone had not been properly vetted”—an unsurprising revelation considering his anti-abortion beliefs, but distressing nonetheless. Kacsmaryk also characterized the FDA’s process for approving mifepristone as an accelerated one, despite the fact that it took more than four years for the agency to approve the medication. So, yeah, not terrific.
Kacsmaryk said he’d be issuing a ruling as soon as possible. We’ll keep you updated as we find out more.
The Texas Tribune has a useful profile of Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk;
The Washington Post looks at what’s at stake for other medication should Kacsmaryk rule against the FDA;
The Plan C documentary was screened at SXSW, bittersweet timing as the ruling on abortion medication could come down at any time;
NPR looks at how abortion bans and restrictions could lead to an increase in premature births;
And on the international front, Polish activist Justyna Wydrzynska is appealing her sentence after being convicted of dispensing abortion pills.
Studies & stats…
A new study shows that a misoprostol-only protocol for abortion is safe and effective.
I also really appreciated this piece from CNN about just how safe mifepristone is. The risk of death by penicillin, they point out, is four times greater than for mifepristone; and the risk of death by Viagra is ten times greater. If you’re looking for an easily-shareable image to let your friends know about how safe abortion medication is and exactly what’s at stake, feel free to steal the below:
What the mainstream media is missing…
Okay, a bit of a rant: Exactly a month ago, I broke the news that South Carolina was debating a bill that would make abortion punishable by the death penalty. I’ve been raising the alarm about it ever since—along with making the connection to other bills in anti-choice states seeking classify abortion as a homicide. This week, a full month later, the mainstream media has finally caught on: Rolling Stone has covered it, as did MSNBC, HuffPo, and USA Today. I’m sure more outlets will follow. Naturally, no outlet has credited Abortion, Every Day—but that’s fine, it’s more important that the issue is getting a bigger audience.
That said, it is so frustrating to watch mainstream media be this late to the game again and again (and then act as if it’s breaking news!). People need to know what’s happening right now—not a month later, not a week later. And they need publications to be taking these bills and issues seriously. Whenever I publish something about an outrageous piece of legislation, I’ll get responses about how it’s never going to pass or it’s just an outlier. It’s not. This is who they are and this is exactly what they want to do. I know I’m preaching to the choir here—but I figured if anyone would share my frustration, you all would!
That said, rant aside, I was glad to see MSNBC cover the story by talking to the excellent Michelle Goodwin and Mary Ziegler:
What conservatives are saying…
Apparently, they’re very mad about me! Fox News ran a piece about my ire over a sign in a California hospital that shames women about abortion as they go in to deliver their babies. I’ll take it as a compliment, I suppose—but I continue to be annoyed that whenever a conservative outlet writes about a feminist, they deliberately seek out the most unflattering pictures of us. It’s so transparent!
You love to see it…
Okay, I appreciated this:
So I’m going to do my best to highlight more good news, and in the spirit of Renee’s request, check out this interview/profile of a clinic escort who has been volunteering in Pittsburgh for over 30 years. Total hero.
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