Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (5.15.23)

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Abortion, Every Day (5.15.23)
Another Texas woman develops sepsis after being denied an abortion

In the States

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed Republicans’ abortion ban this weekend in front of a huge crowd of supporters. The local TV segment below gives you a couple of arial views of the protesters—a good reminder that the people of North Carolina are furious over conservative lawmakers’ attempts to restrict abortion (and have the nerve to call it a ‘compromise’ while they do it).

Gov. Cooper has been trying to find a single Republican to refuse to vote to override the veto, but it looks like he hasn’t been successful thus far. Remember, Republicans shouldn’t have the votes at all to stop the veto—but Rep. Tricia Cotham switched parties, giving the state GOP the power to pass the ban against voters’ wishes. Jezebel has a piece today about Rep. Cotham’s former staff and how angry they are over the betrayal. Jonathan Coby, who advised her campaigns, said, “It makes you wonder, did this person ever believe anything at all?”

And while people in North Carolina have been throwing around all sorts of theories about why Cotham might have switched, those who worked with her say that it wasn’t about getting something in return—but just pure ego. Essentially, she felt like her fellow Democrats didn’t like her, and was pissed off by a few things that she took as personal slights: Like not being clapped for on International Women’s Day when she was recognized as the youngest woman ever elected to the State House, and not being endorsed by Planned Parenthood (even though she didn’t show up to an endorsement interview).

Coby told Jezebel, “The only thing that I can say for sure about Tricia Cotham from here on out is that she will always be the victim. That is just who she believes herself to be, just a victim of life.” Autumn Alston, another activist who advised Cotham, said the former Democrat saw a chance “to be the new shiny object in the Republican Party” and took it. What a nightmare—millions of women’s health and lives on the line because of a single fragile ego.

The North Carolina legislature has scheduled a vote to override the veto for tomorrow. Related: North Carolina doctors continue to speak up about the ban, and the way that it will stop them from giving women necessary care; and more than 200 businesses have signed onto a letter telling lawmakers how an abortion ban would hurt the state’s economy. On Friday, clergy members in the state also protested against the legislation.

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The South Carolina legislature is coming back for a special session so that Republicans can try to ban abortion yet again. (Their attempts thus far have failed; a previously-passed abortion ban was blocked by the state Supreme Court.) The female lawmakers who blocked the last anti-abortion bill via filibuster say they’ll do the same thing this time around—I’ll keep you updated as I find out more. As you know, abortion access in the South is already horrifically precarious; a South Carolina ban would be devastating.

In the meantime, South Carolina citizens are speaking out against the possibility of the ban: In USA Today, a woman who became a mom using IVF explains how an abortion ban would restrict fertility treatments; and in The Post & Courier, South Carolina OBGYN Dr. Patricia Seal writes about how a ban would worsen the already-bad physician shortage in the state:

“A third of our counties have no OB-GYN providers, and this number continues to grow. We know that states with restrictive abortion bans had more than a 10% decline in applications for OB-GYN residency. Tennessee is hemorrhaging OB-GYN providers, even from its major academic centers, because of its ban.

As of last week, our own Laurens County announced the closing of its five-bed labor and delivery unit because there simply are not enough OB-GYNs to run it. Now those patients have to travel an hour away to have their baby.”

Dr. Seal also wrote about South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate, and the way that maternal deaths will increase as a result of an abortion ban. How many experts need to come out and explain the horror of these bans before politicians will pay attention? (I know the answer is never, I really do. But I refuse to accept it.)

Pro-choice advocates in Alabama are outraged over the latest Republican anti-choice bill that would allow the state to charge people with murder for having an abortion—or a miscarriage that was allegedly the result of “reckless” behavior. Jenice Fountain, executive director of the Yellowhammer Fund, said, “People wanted so desperately to rest in ‘only the provider would be punished’ despite folks screaming that this would be next.” And this is from Robin Marty, operations director at West Alabama Women’s Center:

“HB 454 will put pregnant people in jail—those seeking abortions, but also those who just have the misfortune to have had a bad pregnancy outcome and being poor, Black or otherwise in a situation where they are most vulnerable to the racist and classist medical and police systems in our state.”

And if you want to know what this bill is really about, check out what DJ Parten, founder of End Abortion Alabama—the organization that drafted the legislation—said about the criticisms of the legislation:

“Women who are victims, who are in difficult situations and maybe pressured to commit an abortion, we’re working on some things to protect those women. But women who intentionally terminate their child should not be granted blanket immunity…[W]omen openly boasting about abortions, using that language, those women are not victims.”

To recap: If you regret your abortion, you should be safe from prosecution. But if you’re not ashamed to have ended a pregnancy, straight to jail. This aligns with so much I’ve written before about conservatives trying to redefine abortion not as a medical procedure but an intention. Truly scary—but illuminating.

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And if you ever had any doubts that the attacks on abortion rights were related to attacks on trans rights, check out what’s happening in Nebraska. You know that Republicans there are still trying to pass an abortion ban after failing to do so last month—now, they’ve combined their anti-abortion legislation with anti-trans legislation in an effort to get both passed at once. (Lawmakers are expected to vote on the legislation tomorrow.) What stopped the abortion ban last time around was a vote from Republican state Sen. Merv Riepe, who thought a 6-week restriction went too far. But this time, it looks as if Riepe might be amenable to the new legislation, which bans abortion after 12-weeks.

Riepe told the Nebraska Examiner that bill wasn’t “perfect” but that it was “better.”

“I feel that the 12-week will serve the state well, and we will have some more protection for the unborn. It will recognize and respect women’s rights to reproductive services. And it will also hopefully avoid some legal complications. We can’t fight forever.”

Just as a reminder, no matter what Republicans say about 12-week bans being a compromise, they are anything but.

You know that Idaho doctors have been leaving the state in droves because of the abortion ban—this weekend, CNN spoke to some of these physicians about their decisions to either stay or leave. From Dr. Kylie Cooper who is now practicing in Minnesota:

“To watch somebody get sicker in front of your eyes and not be able to help them is hard to comprehend. That is not the way I was trained to practice medicine. We don’t let people get so sick when we have all the tools to help them.”

And that’s the thing; it’s not just that these doctors are (rightfully) afraid of going to jail. They don’t feel like they have the ability to do their jobs in an ethical way. I honestly cannot imagine watching someone get sick knowing that you have ability to make them better. It’s insanity. And so doctors keep leaving. Jim Souza, the chief physician executive at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise, says, “We’re at the beginning of the collapse of an entire system of care.”

The consequences of that collapse won’t be immediately visible, either—remember that the state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee is shutting down. (Purely coincidental, I’m sure!) So tracking maternal deaths and harm caused is going to be more difficult in the state. That said, we know that it’s going to be very, very bad.

A total nightmare in Texas: A man shot and killed his girlfriend because he was angry with her for getting an abortion. A day after Gabriella Gonzalez returned from an out-of-state appointment, her boyfriend confronted and murdered her. Gonzalez had gone to police about Harold Thompson’a abuse just weeks before. This is horrific on so many levels, but it’s also predictable. You have a state calling abortion ‘murder’, empowering abusers to harass and intimidate their partners over abortion through lawsuits, and creating a climate where providers and patients need to fear for their lives.

Finally, a bit of good news: In Missouri, Republicans failed to get approval for a proposal that would have raised the ballot measure standards to require 57% of the vote instead of a simple majority. As is the case in so many states, Republicans in Missouri wanted to change the ballot measure rules in order to make it harder for voters to restore abortion rights. (Voters in the state could see a ballot measure on abortion as soon as 2024.)

What’s incredible is that after months of Republicans in multiple states claiming that their efforts to raise ballot measure standards had nothing to do with abortion, now they’re not even bothering to hide it anymore. When the Missouri GOP failed to pass their proposal on Friday, for example, House Speaker Dean Plocher predicted that a pro-choice ballot measure would be successful as a result: “The Senate should be held accountable for allowing abortion to return,” he said. He’s outright admitting that the entire point was to stop voters from getting what they wanted.

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And more good news, this time out of Montana: The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of continuing to allow nurses with advanced degrees to perform abortions—a decision that also reaffirmed the Court’s 1999 decision that abortion is protected by the state constitution’s right to privacy. Supreme Court Justice Laurie McKinnon wrote, “The Montana Constitution guarantees a woman a fundamental right to privacy to seek abortion care from a qualified health care provider of her choosing, absent a clear demonstration of a medically acknowledged, bona fide health risk.”

Quick hits:

In the Nation

Planned Parenthood is calling for expanded courts and term limits—even for the Supreme Court. It’s the first time the organization has pushed for this kind of court reform; you can watch Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson on MSNBC talking about the decision:

Quick hits:

  • The Associated Press looks at Republicans’ efforts across multiple states to change the rules around ballot measures to stop voters from having a say on abortion;

  • And The Intercept reports that in the wake of Roe being overturned, the U.S. Marshals Service received alerts from a data company, Dataminr, about the time and locations of pro-choice protests.

Care Denied

A Texas woman ended up developing sepsis after being denied an abortion—even though her pregnancy was doomed. Kristen Anaya and her husband Stephen worked for years to get pregnant; they were finally successful when Kristen got pregnant this past January. But four months into the pregnancy, Kristen’s water broke. There’s no way a fetus can survive without amniotic fluid, nor can it survive on its own—but because its heart was still beating, the law prevented doctors from providing Kristen an abortion.

“My husband and I are being told that 'not only did we lose Tylee, but now you're gonna go into sepsis and there's nothing we can do about it other than watch you because of the abortion laws in Texas,’” Kristen told ABC News.

She got sicker and sicker, developing a high fever and shaking uncontrollably.

“I was crying, asking for help. And I remember them literally not saying anything. [The doctors and nurses] would just literally look at me and look at Stephen and they're just blank. There's literally nothing they could do.”

Finally, Kristen was sick enough to warrant to an abortion—but she still had to wait nearly an hour for the paperwork to go through before doctors induced her. That’s the other nightmare: Even though a D&E would be safer and more effective, Kristen was only offered the ability to go into labor. As a result, her placenta wasn’t delivered properly and she has since needed two D&Es to remove it and stop the bleeding.

Nearly a month later, she’s still having complications and health issues as a result of her delayed treatment. Kristen says, “They're really unsure as to why I'm still feeling the way that I'm feeling and so we're kind of gonna wait and see.”

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Okay, this is kind of funny. Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America—a group that has made a national ban their line in the sand for Republican presidential candidates—hosted Nikki Haley for her big abortion speech just a few weeks ago. But this weekend, Haley went on Face the Nation and called the idea of a federal abortion ban “not realistic.”

In response, SBA Pro-Life America president Marjorie Dannenfelser released a statement saying that a presidential nominee must “boldly advocate” for federal legislation and that “dismissing this task as unrealistic is not acceptable.” What was interesting about the release, though, was that Dannenfelser didn’t actually use the term ‘federal’ or ‘national’ ban. Instead, she used the word ‘consensus’:

“When Ambassador Haley talks about national consensus on late-term abortion, we are in agreement. The consensus already exists. Polling shows 72% of Americans support limiting abortions by at least 15 weeks…The pro-life movement must have a nominee who will boldly advocate for this consensus…” (Emphasis mine)

The anti-abortion movement knows that Americans don’t like abortion bans at all, and that they’re certainly not going to want one on a national level. Characterizing a federal abortion ban as lawmakers simply codifying a ‘consensus’ that already exists is a sneaky (but smart) way to try to get around that reality. So let’s keep an eye out for this kind of messaging.

Meanwhile, Trump is hitting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on his 6-week abortion ban, saying that “many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.” Gotta love sociopathic misogynists casually using women’s lives as political talking points!

What the Mainstream Media Missed

Empathy? Humanity? The ability to read the fucking room? Really and truly, what in the world is this headline from the Wall Street Journal? Sure, women are having their fundamental rights stripped away and will pay for it with their lives—but this company is going to make a lot of money! A HIT! I’m so tired you guys.


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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