Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (5.11.23)

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Abortion, Every Day (5.11.23)

Arizona woman forced to carry baby to term despite fatal diagnosis

In the States

Ohio Republicans are getting what they want: They managed to move forward with a special August election to ask voters to raise the standards on ballot measures from a simply majority to 60% of the vote. Their hope is that there will be low Democratic turnout in the summer election, and that increasing the percentage of votes necessary to pass a ballot measure will keep abortion banned in the state, despite what voters really want. They will be spending $20 million on the election. So if you have any friends in Ohio, now is the time to give them a call and let them know what’s going on.

More on Republican moves to undermine democracy in order to ban abortion: Earlier this week, I reported that a South Dakota Auditor had banned petitioners from gathering signatures in front of two government buildings—a move, activists say, to stop them from moving forward with a pro-choice ballot measure. Yesterday, the organization behind the ballot measure effort, Dakotans for Health, sued Minnehaha County officials over the prohibitions—which they say violate their First Amendment rights.

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I told you yesterday that Louisiana Republicans rejected a bill that would have added rape and incest exceptions to the state’s abortion ban. From Democratic Rep. Delisha Boyd, who wrote the bill:

“I am concerned about where we are in this state with no provisions for rape or incest…I can't imagine my daughter at 15 carrying a child. My granddaughter who is 10, who is every bit a 10 year old, carrying a child to term.”

But the rape and incest exception wasn’t the only legislation that Republicans killed yesterday. The state’s House Criminal Justice Committee also stopped a bill crafted to help doctors dealing with the horrific medical fallout of Louisiana’s abortion ban. The legislation would have ended prison time for doctors who provided an abortion—in the hopes that it would remove some of the fear that physicians have to even provide a legal, health- and life-saving abortion—and would change the requirement to allow just one instead of two doctors to diagnose a fatal fetal abnormality or medically futile pregnancy.

As was the case yesterday, however, lawmakers were apparently unmoved by testimony from the people these laws impact the most. (Nancy Davis, who was denied an abortion despite her fetus missing part of its head and skull, was there to testify in support of the legislation.)

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is still hoping to get a single Republican to do the right thing, and not vote to override his veto of the state’s recently-passed abortion ban. “All we need is one,” he said. “One person of conscience.” And so The Charlotte Observer reached out to key Republicans—including those who have said in the past that they wouldn’t vote to further restrict abortion—to ask where they stand now. As you can imagine, they were less than forthcoming.

Right before Republican Rep. John Bradford’s election, for example, he told voters that he supported North Carolina’s abortion law where it was—restricted after 20 weeks of pregnancy: “I have no intentions myself of going back to Raleigh and trying to make the 20 weeks more restrictive,” he said. But last week, Bradford voted in favor of the 12-week ban. When asked about why he broke his promise, Bradford simply…lied. He said that the bill “maintains access for all women” and that it “represents a reasonable compromise and will be viewed as such in the end.”

I truly hope that these Republicans—and Rep. Tricia Cotham—are getting a lot of phone calls right now.

Meanwhile, citizens across North Carolina are coming forward about their fears and fury over the law. Dr. Rebecca Kasper, for example, a family medicine doctor in the state, writes that her patients are terrified about the potential of an abortion ban.

And professor Lyric Thompson shares her experience having abortions at 13 weeks pregnant and again at 20 weeks pregnant—both due to life-threatening medical complications. “In both cases, the thought that my doctor might deny me care for fear of criminal prosecution, or not be trained in the surgery I needed, or not have a legally registered facility in which to provide that care, was never considered.” Thompson also gets at something incredibly important—a point we talk about a lot here at the newsletter: That these bans are being enacted against voters’ wishes:

“Legislators know these restrictions neither improve health nor are supported by most North Carolinians. They negotiated in secret and bypassed the standard process.”

South Carolina women Senators continue to say that they’ll filibuster the 6-week abortion ban that Republicans are trying to push through at the last minute. Today was meant to be the last day of the state’s General Assembly, but the abortion legislation (along with other bills) have them going into overtime next week.

Texas legislators didn’t do much of anything on abortion this legislative session, despite Republicans making some noise about adding in exceptions for rape and incest. Drucilla Tigner, co-executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, told The Texas Tribune, “It was all political theater. We have one of the most extreme bans in the country with no exceptions, and it seems like that’s the way that they want it.”

In Rhode Island, where legislators are debating a bill that would require insurance coverage—including Medicaid coverage—of abortion care, Dr. Anna Whelan told the Senate Judiciary Committee how abortion being legal isn’t the same thing as abortion being accessible. The maternal fetal medicine specialist relayed the story of a patient who found out at 22 weeks that her fetus had a condition that would be lethal either during pregnancy or immediately after birth.

She said the woman, who was devastated, “made the choice to terminate the pregnancy…However, she had Medicaid insurance and she could not afford to go through a termination at 22 weeks, which would cost almost $10,000. Instead, she was forced to continue her pregnancy.” (Side note: This is something Democrats need to talk about when conservatives insist that they want abortion ‘up until birth’. Do they really think women are out there spending thousands of dollars to end a later pregnancy on a whim??)

In better news, Nevada advanced a resolution to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. The state Assembly approved the measure, which would need to be passed again in 2025 and then put to voters as a ballot measure in 2026. Democratic Assemblywoman Selena La Rue Hatch said, “Our state, among many other states, are being tested whether we stand up for reproductive and medical freedom for Nevadans.”

And Washington’s new budget will include $21 million for abortion infrastructure as the state continues to see an uptick in out-of-state patients seeking reproductive healthcare. Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates called it “a historical investment in abortion care.”

Quick hits:

  • Some coverage of the Alabama bill I told you about yesterday that would allow the state to charge those who obtain abortions with murder;

  • More on the Vermont shield law that specifically protects abortion medication;

  • Oregon Republicans are still refusing to show up to work in order to stop a bill that protects abortion rights and gender affirming care;

  • The 19th on why Virginia is key to abortion access in the South;

  • And the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed the last of its abortion-related cases in light of the new protection for abortion rights in the state constitution.

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In the Nation

Back in March, Vox reported that that the sole distributor for Mifepristex (the brand name of mifepristone) in the United States would not be supplying the drug to 31 states. AmerisourceBergen revealed this news in a list of states the company sent to their corporate clients (states that have still gone unnamed). In response to that news, 60 House Democrats, led by the Democratic Women’s Caucus, have sent a letter to AmerisourceBergen asking for answers. The letter asks the company’s CEO to provide them with the list of states where they will refuse to distribute mifepristone, and that they “clearly outline the determination process and the rationale used to develop that list.” Florida Rep. Lois Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, told The 19th, “This one company could be a determining factor in whether women can access medication abortion…This is just too important to stay silent.”

Meanwhile, while anti-abortion activists continue to lie about the safety of abortion medication, Cosmopolitan spoke to women themselves about their experiences using abortion pills. This is from Maya, 21:

“It was so nice to be able to do it in the comfort of my own home and to have my partner be able to be there too. I’m very grateful for that because it took away this idea of a scary process. It was like, ‘Okay, this is a thing people do.’ It’s not something to be afraid of—it’s a very easy medical procedure.”

Quick hits:

  • FDA advisors voted unanimously to recommend over-the-counter status for birth control pills—the agency will decide itself later this summer;

  • The New York Times looks at some of the ballot measure initiatives in states across the country;

  • Bloomberg Law on how the contradictory mifepristone rulings out of Washington and Texas are ripe for a SCOTUS fight;

  • And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says he doesn’t support Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville holding up military nominations and promotions over the VA’s abortion policy.

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Care Denied

Content Warning: This section contains descriptions of fetal abnormalities and infant loss

A 22-year-old woman from Arizona has come forward about being denied an abortion despite her fetus having a severe and fatal abnormality. Chloe found out 23 weeks into her pregnancy about the diagnosis—which came right around the time Roe was overturned. In the days before the SCOTUS decision, Chloe was talking to her OBGYN about inducing early labor so she wouldn’t have to carry to term. But after Dobbs, her doctor refused.

Chloe then tried to get an abortion out-of-state, but her appointment was canceled because of threats to the clinic. At that point, she was nearly 30 weeks pregnant and felt she had no choice but to continue to term. “I became extremely depressed, more depressed than I already was,” she told ABC News. “I didn't want to leave my bed.” What made the situation even more horrific was that Chloe’s fetus was seizing inside of her, “and if I'm uncomfortable with that happening, I can't imagine how she is inside of there.” Then there was dealing with the congratulations from strangers, all eager to ask her about her due date or whether she was having a boy or a girl.

In the end, Chloe gave birth, and her daughter Laila was alive for just 44 hours. “It was definitely hard to watch her just be in pain the whole entire time. It's like I was trying to keep her from feeling this pain, and she still had to feel it.” That’s why Chloe says even after spending those 44 hours with Laila, she still would have chosen to end the pregnancy if she could have:

“I would have terminated because now what I know now, seeing what I've seen, it's not fair, and it wasn't fair from the beginning, to her or to me.”

Listen Up

The NPR podcast 1A has an episode today on what it’s like to travel for abortion care. Reporters spoke to an Oklahoma woman who got an abortion in Kansas; Alison Dreith of the abortion fund, Midwest Access Coalition; law professor and author Mary Ziegler; and the pseudonymous director of Elevated Access, a group of volunteer pilots who fly women out of anti-choice states to get the care they need. You can listen to the episode below:


Honestly, I don’t want to talk about Trump on CNN last night. I think that the network did Americans, and journalism, a true disservice by giving him a platform. CNN allowed a serial sexual abuser to continue to harass one of his victims, they gave a sociopathic liar the audience he craves, and let a dangerous misogynist spread the kind of misinformation about abortion that gets providers killed. So instead of fact-checking what we all know is bullshit, I’m just going to say: Fuck that guy, and anyone who allows him to spread his poison.

Stats & Studies

Speaking of deadly rhetoric about abortion providers: A new study from the National Abortion Federation shows that violence and harassment directed against clinics is on the rise. There’s nothing surprising in the report—anyone who has been paying attention to abortion rights knew that this was going to happen post-Roe. That doesn’t make it any easier to see in black and white, though.


You Love to See It

Writer and illustrator Aubrey Hirsch wrote the Mother’s Day piece I was looking for: “Flowers and Cards Are Nice. I'd Rather Have Bodily Autonomy” at TIME. I mean, that “Sorry Your Human Rights Were Stripped Away” card is all I want this Sunday.

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Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Daily audio updates & commentary on abortion in the United States.
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Jessica Valenti