Abortion, Every Day (5.19.23)
Nebraska passes ban on abortion & gender-affirming care
In the States
I’m sorry to say that Nebraska lawmakers passed a combination anti-abortion/anti-trans bill as hundreds of protesters raged inside the Capitol building. The bill, which prohibits gender-affirming care for young people, is also a 10-week ban with no exception for fetal abnormalities. It’s just a nightmare. Mindy Rush Chipman, interim executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska, said, “The combination of these two bills is an unprecedented attack on our human and civil rights here in Nebraska.” And Democratic Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh said, “This place is morally bankrupt. You are playing political games with the lives of children and parents.”
If you missed this speech from Sen. Megan Hunt earlier this week, make sure to watch it now. I’m so sorry, Nebraska.
Earlier this week, Montana pro-choice groups successfully petitioned a judge to block a law banning D&E abortion procedures. Now, those same groups are asking that two other anti-abortion laws recently signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte—one that targets abortion providers, and another that prevents Medicaid from paying for ‘medically unnecessary’ abortions (along with new definitions on what is considered medically necessary). The groups, including the ACLU of Montana, Planned Parenthood of Montana and the Center for Reproductive Rights are arguing that the laws essentially make abortion illegal in the state. (We’ve been talking a lot about back-door abortion bans in pro-choice states—this is a perfect example.)
As Ohio gears up for its special election this summer on whether to raise the standards on ballot measures, Lauren Blauvelt, the VP of government for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio and Chair of Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, has written an op-ed in The Columbus Dispatch reminding readers what’s at stake:
“Ohioans overwhelmingly support access to abortion and deserve the fundamental right to comprehensive health care; they believe in an Ohio where abortion access doesn't depend on your zip code or income. But Ohio’s gerrymandered leaders continue to ignore the will of the people by introducing draconian laws that trample on our basic freedoms, and now, eroding their ability to exercise their democratic rights.”
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I told you earlier this week about the horrific story out of Texas, where a woman was shot and killed by her boyfriend—he was angry that she had obtained an abortion. Today, Karen Attiah at The Washington Post wrote about 26-year-old Gabriella Gonzalez and the deadly combination of guns and abortion restrictions:
“In a 2014 study published by BioMed Central, physical violence decreased when women had access to abortions and increased when women were denied them….A review of data by the Texas Council on Family Violence found that in 2021, Texas had ‘the third highest number of intimate partner homicides in the last decade,’ with 204 people killed; 169 of those victims, or more than 80 percent, were women, and 75 percent of those women were killed with a gun.”
The takeaway? Texas women are more at risk of being killed because of the laws Republicans claim are for their own good.
Some rare bad news out of California, where a proposal for a public awareness campaign about anti-abortion centers and what they really do was shot down. Apparently a few members of the Assembly appropriations committee (from rural areas where there are quite a few centers) opposed the measure. Disappointing.
That said, we do have some good news today: Yesterday, Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee signed a law requiring insurance providers—including Medicaid—to cover abortion care; and in Connecticut, a bill protecting abortion providers from out-of-state prosecutions has passed out of the House.
A reminder that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin is eager to pass a 15-week abortion ban;
And All Things Considered on the groups raising money for abortion in Kentucky and Indiana.
In the Nation
You likely remember Mylissa Farmer’s story: She was the Missouri woman who was denied an abortion despite having a life-threatening pregnancy. After a federal investigation, the two hospitals that refused her care were found to have broken the law. (Specifically, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.)
ProPublica has a piece about the investigation and what it could mean for abortion rights going forward. It also looks at what this could all mean for doctors, who are being put in the position of breaking state law if they provide an abortion and breaking federal law if they don’t. At the end of the day, of course, it’s women who suffer the most. Farmer says, “It was dehumanizing. It was terrifying. It was horrible not to get the care to save your life.”
I’m glad to see this issue getting more attention: Back in February, I flagged that the Justice Department was going after two people who spray-painted an anti-abortion center with federal charges using the FACE Act. The Intercept reported this week on the case, and how the Biden administration is basically trying to appease the anti-abortion movement with the charges:
“The activists’ legal ordeal is the product of blatant and shameless acquiescence to Republican political pressure. GOP lawmakers have for months been calling on federal law enforcement to use the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, or FACE, Act against reproductive rights activists — and Democrats have followed suit accordingly.”
Imagine getting federal charges for graffiti.
Meanwhile, you know we need to keep a close eye on digital privacy protections—this Wall Street Journal investigation reminds us why. An anti-abortion group in Wisconsin used cellphone location data to geo-target people who visited Planned Parenthood clinics with ads on abortion ‘reversal’ and other anti-choice bullshit. This is exactly why pro-choice states have been passing laws to prevent this kind of data collection—the anti-choice movement will do anything to target women they think might obtain abortions. (Remember this huge network of anti-abortion centers that collected data on any woman who visited their website?)
Imagine all the companies who are doing this who haven’t been exposed yet…
Democrats are pushing for over-the-counter status for contraception;
Reuters with state-level abortion battles to watch;
And CBS News has a rundown of which states are seeing attacks on ballot measure standards by anti-abortion Republicans.
Content warning: Infant loss
I’ve written before about Deborah Dorbert, the Florida woman forced to carry a pregnancy to term despite a fatal abnormality. It’s a horrible story, and this piece from The Washington Post about what happened after Dorbert gave birth really drives home how abortion bans are tantamount to torture. In fact, that’s the exact word that Dobert’s father, Peter Rogell, used when describing having to watch his grandson gasp for air as he died: “To me it’s just pure torture. The law has created torture.”
Read the whole piece if you can, but something the pastor at Milo’s funeral said I think captures the heart of it: “Not everything happens for a reason.”
Stats & Studies
A new study set to be presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that nearly 77% of third- and fourth-year medical students say that access to abortion care will influence where they’ll pursue a residency.
This aligns with what with what we’re seeing across the country, where doctors are leaving anti-choice states en masse and hospitals are having to shut down maternity wards because they can’t retain or recruit OBGYNs. In North Carolina, where the state has just passed a 10-week abortion ban, the residency director for the Duke University School of Medicine, Dr. Beverly Gray, says she’s worried that the law will impact how many people are willing to train there:
“It is hard to walk into work every day and be told that you can't provide the care that might save a patient's life. There's tremendous moral injury with being put in that situation, to be asked to care for people and not allowed to do the right thing.”
What Conservatives Are Saying
Conservatives are floating quite the talking point responding this OBGYN exodus: The doctors “care more about abortion than women.” Yes, really. From the popular anti-abortion publication LifeNews:
“Doctors and nurses who are leaving states because their laws protect unborn babies are not putting women first. They are prioritizing abortions and abandoning women and children in desperate need of essential, life-saving medical care.”
Absolutely fucking wild, but predictable. After all, the anti-choice movement has already been blaming doctors and hospitals for the women who have had vital care denied because of abortion bans. It’s a terrifying strategy, to be honest; especially in a considering that Covid deniers and conservatives have been sowing distrust of medical professionals over the last few years.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is officially running for president; today he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. As a reminder, Scott floundered on abortion a few weeks ago when he couldn’t come up with a straight answer to a simple question on the issue.
Mainstream Media Misses
I am begging media outlets, for the love of all that is good, please stop calling the North Carolina abortion ban a 12-week ban. It’s not a 12-week ban, it’s a 10-week ban at best. (The majority of abortions in the state are medication abortions; abortion pills are banned at 10-weeks.) Describing the law as 12-week restriction is a blind acceptance of Republican rhetoric.
The same is true for Nebraska, where Republicans are also claiming that their law bans abortion at 12-weeks—but is, in fact, a 10-week ban. (The bill prohibits abortions 12 weeks after a patient’s last menstrual period, as opposed to from fertilization.)