Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (4.19.23)

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Abortion, Every Day (4.19.23)

The OBGYN shortage is going national

In the States

I have some more information on that Colorado ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of a new law banning anti-abortion centers from doing ‘abortion pill reversals’. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) calls the treatment—which consists of giving women doses of progesterone after they’ve has taken mifepristone—“unproven and unethical.”

The decision from Trump-appointed Judge Daniel Domenico doesn’t just allow anti-choice activists at the clinic who brought the case forward to continue providing fake and potentially-dangerous medical care to women in Colorado—but blocks enforcement of the entire law. That means anti-abortion centers can also continue pushing out deceptive advertising. These are groups that position themselves as actual medical clinics offering abortions in order to trick women into going to non-medical, religious organizations. A hearing on the block is going to be held in a few days, and the ban on ‘abortion reversal’ will last until October, when the state medical boards can determine whether they are “generally accepted standard of practice.”

Ohio lawmakers heard testimony yesterday on the Republican-proposed legislation to make it more difficult for voters to pass pro-choice ballot measures. As a reminder, lawmakers there are terrified at the prospect of letting the people of Ohio have a say on abortion—and so they’re trying to raise the standards to require 60% of the vote to pass a measure, as opposed to a simple majority. Republicans want to spend $20 million for a special August election to get that change enacted. You know all this, but I had to both remind you that there is still movement happening on the effort and—just as important—share some of the testimony of anti-abortion activist Nicholas Kallis of End Abortion Ohio, who sounds like an absolute fucking riot:

“There are those whom would so malign and destroy the moral integrity of our constitution by perverting our constitution to enshrine in it the right to murder a child in the womb. With only a simple majority if their proposed initiative gets on the ballot then there is a reasonable chance their wicked schemes may prevail.”

Wicked schemes may prevail! Someone needs to get out more.

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I wrote a little this week about the hypocrisy around abortion and mental health—namely, that anti-choice activists (including Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk) claim to be concerned with the mental health of women who take mifepristone but allow for no mental health exceptions in abortion bans, even when there’s a suicide risk. So I was glad to see this NPR piece about how Florida’s new abortion ban will impact women with mental health issues.

They spoke to a woman who found out she was pregnant while struggling with anxiety, an eating disorder and suicidal thoughts. “I just remember thinking two things: one, that I needed help and two, that this depression and suicidality is not something that can continue to be passed down in our family,” she said. NPR also spoke to experts who pointed out that carrying a pregnancy to term carries an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. It’s criminal that we’re forced to hear false information about the supposed physical and emotional consequences of abortion—but the very real impact of pregnancy and childbirth is glossed over.

In Tennessee, where Gov. Bill Lee wanted to give $100 million to anti-abortion centers, lawmakers said yesterday that they’re only going to give the groups $20 million of taxpayer dollars. As if that’s…a compromise? Please remember that this is happening at the same time that Republicans in Tennessee say they want to “make it easier, cheaper and faster to adopt” by removing barriers to terminating parental rights—and that these anti-abortion groups work in tandem with evangelical Christian adoption agencies. In other words, it’s going to be a shitshow.

Also in Tennessee, that fake exception for women’s health and lives is sitting on Gov. Lee’s desk. If he doesn’t sign the bill in 10 days, it could become law by default. I’ll keep you updated on it—but remember, it won’t make things better for doctors or patients, only the Republicans who are using the legislation to make themselves look more ‘reasonable’.

And, of course, our rare bit of good news: Oregon Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber introduced a joint resolution today that would put a constitutional amendment in front of voters to protect abortion rights, marriage equality and gender affirming care.

Quick hits:

In the Nation

The Supreme Court extended their temporary stay on a mifepristone ruling today—giving the justices more time, until Friday, to decide the fate of the abortion medication. That means mifepristone is still available.

Meanwhile, the anti-abortion movement is still at it: Yesterday, the group that brought forward the lawsuit against the FDA urged the Supreme Court in a filing to uphold Kacsmaryk’s ruling, writing that the FDA “has stripped away every meaningful and necessary safeguard on chemical abortion, demonstrating callous disregard for women’s well-being, unborn life, and statutory limits.”

At the same time, the radical anti-abortion group Students for Life is ramping up a secondary strategy to ban abortion medication: They’ve petitioned the FDA to stop dispensing mifepristone because they (falsely) claim the drug can poison the wastewater and threaten “endangered or threatened species or designated critical habitats.” From POLITICO:

“Students for Life argued that the FDA failed to conduct this assessment when they approved the drug in 2000, and the group claimed that the high number of people using the pills to terminate pregnancies at home and flushing fetal remains could be contaminating the environment.”

What POLITICO fails to mention is that Students for Life also want to ban birth control, which they call ‘abortifacients’. If they are somehow successful—even just in terms of cultural messaging—they will absolutely argue next that hormonal birth control is poisoning the planet.

The other thing to note here is the co-opting of progressive language (more on this in the Keep an Eye On section): They don’t care about the environment or endangered species, but they’re hoping pretending to will soften their image.

Also in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling, 21 Republican Attorneys General have filed an amicus brief pushing the justices to stop what they are calling a “national mail-order abortion regime.” Quite a mouthful!

And if you want to know more about the conservative efforts to use the Comstock Act to ban abortion—which I got into a little yesterday—you can read Moira Donegan at The Guardian and law professors Reva Siegel and Mary Ziegler at Slate.

Quick hits:

  • Bloomberg reports that despite Republican protests over the Dept of Veteran Affairs being able to offer abortions in very limited circumstances, the actual policy has very little traction;

  • USA Today reminds us that mifepristone is safer than Tylenol;

  • The Financial Times on why Kacsmaryk’s ruling is a “disaster for innovation”;

  • And Scripps on how doctors and patients are preparing for a possible end of mifepristone availability.

Stats & Studies

One of the things I write about most at Abortion, Every Day is the post-Roe crisis in medicine and how it’s impacting doctors, patients, and the anti-choice states seeing an exodus of OBGYNs. We know that in states like Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas, which have extreme abortion bans, doctors are leaving or considering leaving—scared to work in a place where they could go to jail just for doing their jobs. The same is true for medical students and residents, especially those heading into reproductive health fields, who know they won’t be able to get the training and education they need in order to provide the standard of care.

Now, new research from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) gives us some insight into how abortion bans are impacting medical school graduates. Researchers found that post-Dobbs, those applying to residency programs are disproportionately avoiding states with more abortion restrictions. They noticed that the decline in applications was greater among states with complete abortion bans, even when accounting for characteristics like state-size and post-pandemic decreases.

That’s bad enough, but the report also found that the issue isn’t just that doctors are more likely to avoid anti-choice states—but that they also may be forgoing residencies in OBGYN programs altogether: After Dobbs, there was a 10.5% decline in OBGYN residency applicants in states with abortion bans, and a 5% decline across all states.

When you combine these numbers with the increase in maternal mortality rates and maternal health deserts, I think we’re looking at a pretty rough road ahead.

In the World

What’s happening with mifepristone here in the U.S. is likely to impact other countries, including France—which obtains most of its abortion medication from an American manufacturer. This week, France's High Council for Equality between Men and Women (HCE) said that because some states here are building stockpiles of the medication, the country is at risk of a shortage. Abortion medication accounts for 70% of the abortions in France.

Listen Up

I haven’t had a chance to listen to this yet, but The Daily’s episode today is about the dueling mifepristone rulings and what’s ahead at the Supreme Court:

Keep an Eye On

I wish we weren’t going to be talking about Students for Life so much today, but here were are. Over at The Hill, president of extremist group, Kristan Hawkins, wrote an op-ed with messaging advice for Republicans. It will not surprise you to find out that as Hawkins tries to strip away women’s human rights, she urges conservative lawmakers to use progressive-sounding rhetoric:

“Consider saying this: ‘I support protecting people, born and preborn, at every stage of life. I reject prejudice against people based on sex, race, age, stage of development, level of income, perceptions of their abilities or the events of their conception.’”

Hawkins also drops this language about how Republicans should respond to criticism about abortion bans that start as early as 6-weeks: She says the legislation “limits abortion when the universal sign of life, a heartbeat, is detected.” (Emphasis mine) Just yesterday I flagged similar language in another piece of messaging advice to conservatives. So keep an eye on that one. It’s a good reminder that Democrats should be hammering on how the language of ‘heartbeat’ bills are absolute bullshit and that there is no heartbeat at 6 weeks because there is no heart.

What the Mainstream Media Missed

I told you we were going to be talking about Students for Life a lot today! I am…well, livid is the only word for it. For months, I’ve been writing about the way that the mainstream media ignores that Students for Life wants to make contraception illegal. They’ve been quoted everywhere without being questioned about it, and now The Atlantic has given organization president Kristan Hawkins a glossy profile without asking about birth control—or even reporting their position on it—once. Not even a fucking mention.

There’s no excuse. This entire piece is about Hawkins and how she is the future of the anti-abortion movement! It seems like their position on birth control—which is listed on the website!!!—would be relevant. Their belief that birth control is actually abortion is not some ancillary part of their work that they hide away: They have a whole webpage on why contraception “isn’t a side issue.”

Oh, and the piece also reports on the protest at one of Hawkins’ talks (that I’ve written about here), and there is no mention of the fact that her bodyguard assaulted students—or that Hawkins went on a conservative media tour to claim she was attacked by “antifa and transgender activists.”

I don’t think it’s too much to ask for these publications, which have the time, money and resources to do their job, to do their job.

This 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