In the States
South Carolina’s governor says he will sign the abortion ban when it gets to his desk. A reminder that the bill bans abortion after 6 weeks, before most people know that they’re pregnant—and definitely not enough to time to obtain an abortion considering the weeks-long waiting lists at most clinics. Good Morning America spoke to the five female Senators who have been fighting against the bill’s passage:
Some good news out of Montana, where a judge has blocked a series of anti-choice laws from going into effect. Yesterday, Judge Mike Menahan blocked a law requiring prior authorization for Medicaid coverage for abortions that are ‘medically necessary’; a law akin to the Hyde Amendment; a law mandating ultrasounds before abortions; and a law banning D&E procedures, commonly used in second trimester abortions. (There was already an injunction in place against those last two laws, but it was set to expire.)
From Planned Parenthood of Montana lawyer Raph Graybill:
“Montana has really, really, really strong protections for individual privacy, and the courts have consistently held for 20 years that that includes the right to have a doctor-patient relationship where the government doesn't interfere…Today's decision is entirely consistent with that longstanding precedent in Montana.”
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One of the most chilling consequences of abortion bans is the number of doctors leaving anti-choice states: The places that need OBGYNs and maternal fetal medicine specialists the most are soon going to be the states least likely to have them. This is especially true in Texas, which has one of the strictest abortion bans in the country. That’s why I was so grateful for this Texas Monthly piece about how medical students and residents are navigating learning and practicing in a state that won’t teach them how to perform abortions.
Reporter Grace Benninghoff reached out to 23 OBGYN residency programs in the state about how they plan to adhere to accreditation requirements that say programs must offer training in abortion or access to training. Only four programs got back to her, and three declined to comment. That kind of equivocation makes doctors training to OBGYNs nervous:
“Dallas native Rachel Williams, a 26-year-old graduate of UT Southwestern, matched into the residency program at Parkland Memorial Hospital, in Dallas. When she was interviewing for her placement with different programs, she received varied information. ‘Some of them outright told me they are working on training out of state, or trying to have miscarriage care be an option. But some places just wouldn’t talk about it at all.’”
Texas Monthly also interviewed Pamela Merritt, executive director of Medical Students for Choice, who pointed out that medical schools and programs are also responding to the climate in the state and laws that encourage snitching over abortion: “If a resident in Texas tells their roommate, ‘Oh, I’m going to New York to do my abortion training this month,’ then can their roommate sue them? We don’t know,” said Merritt.
You likely remember Dr. Caitlin Bernard; she’s the Indiana abortion provider who treated a 10 year-old rape victim from Ohio. Since that story went global, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has been using the power of his office to target and harass Dr. Bernard—even trying to get her medical license taken away.
Tomorrow, the state medical board has their final hearing on the case, but get this: The Indianapolis Star reports that the two of the members of the board are donors of Rokita’s! When reporters reached out for comment, Rokita’s office responded that the publications was trying to “control two medical board members during an active proceeding the day before the hearing.”
A very sad story out of Nebraska: Last year, I reported on the teenager who was arrested, along with her mother, for having an illegal abortion. In a disturbing reminder of the connection between abortion criminalization and digital privacy, police arrested the pair after obtaining a warrant for her Facebook messages. The 18 year-old has pled guilty to a felony charge of “concealing or abandoning a dead body,” as opposed to a charge on abortion. Her mother is being charged with illegally helping her to obtain an abortion.
In a tweet, the organization Pregnancy Justice pointed out that self-managed abortion isn’t banned in Nebraska:
“That hasn't stopped these prosecutions. Not only are they making health care a crime, but they're creating a culture of fear that forces people to navigate abortions without support.”
Pregnancy Justice has also done a tremendous amount of work in Alabama, a state that has led the fucked-up charge on arresting pregnant people. One county put nearly a dozen women in jail to “protect” their fetuses—including one woman who wasn’t even pregnant. You also may remember when Abortion, Every Day broke the story that Alabama’s Attorney General planned to arrest women who took mifepristone using the state’s chemical endangerment law—a way to get around the state’s abortion ban prohibition on arresting women for abortion. The chemical endangerment law was actually crafted to punish adults who expose children to “an environment in which controlled substances are produced or distributed.” So, nothing to do with abortion at all.
After AED’s story went national, the AG was forced to publicly recant his plan—but that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from using that chemical endangerment law from going after women in other ways. This week, a 24-year old woman in the state was brought up on felony charges after she had stillbirth. (The state claims that she used drugs during her pregnancy, which led to the stillbirth.)
This is all part of a broader anti-abortion strategy seeking to enshrine personhood and punish pregnant people. It’s not a new plan, of course: Women have been arrested for stillbirths and miscarriages using fetal personhood laws for years—for reasons ranging from alleged drug use, refusing medical interventions like a c-section, even a suicide attempt. So this kind of criminalization is not without precedent. And, as you probably can imagine, the people most likely to be targeted are the most vulnerable among us—poor women, women of color, and Black women, especially. It’s something we’re going to see more and more of, and Republicans are hoping that because they’re going after marginalized groups that people won’t care. We have to show them that’s not true.
I told you this week about the man in Danville, Illinois who was arrested for driving his car into the site of a future abortion clinic with the intent to set fire to the building. Just a reminder that this is a predictable consequence of inflammatory rhetoric on abortion: Danville has been at the center of a battle over the clinic, where anti-choice activists have been trying to stop it from opening. A few weeks ago, the city council passed a ban on the mailing of abortion medication despite state law, and community members have been fighting it out in town meetings.
Personal PAC, a Chicago-based pro-choice group, called the attack “a violent escalation in the efforts by the anti-choice minority to sow fear and discourage exercise of the right to receive abortion care in Illinois, by any means necessary.”
A clip worth watching: MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did a segment last night about Ohio Republicans’ efforts to change the standards on ballot measures as a way to stop voters from restoring abortion rights:
Meanwhile, in Missouri—where Republicans failed in their efforts to raise ballot measure standards—the hope is that a pro-choice ballot measure will be able to move forward and restore abortion rights. Democratic House Minority Leader Crystal Quade says, “It’s an opportunity for us to get our rights back if the initiative goes to the ballot box, but I think the most important piece of that discussion is exactly that the Republicans don’t like what the citizens continue to tell them to do and they are saying it out loud now.”
In the Nation
Planned Parenthood announced they’d be having layoffs yesterday, a move that the group says is related to a new focus on state-level organizing. In a statement, the organization said it will invest $70 million in their state affiliates and “reimagine the role of the national organization.” Employees say they were told to expect that 10-20% of the workforce would be let go. In response to the announcement, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Union released a statement saying that the organization is “pushing out some of our movement’s brightest minds.”
It’s a bitter pill for some in the reproductive rights and justice movement who, as Jezebel reporter Susan Rinkunas pointed out today, have been calling on the organization to focus on the states for years. President Alexis McGill Johnson said of the move, “We are still the same Planned Parenthood that never backs down.”
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You may remember that abortion medication manufacturer GenBioPro is suing West Virginia over their abortion ban, claiming it interferes with their ability to do business and the federal government’s approval of mifepristone. That suit is being heard right now by a federal judge in West Virginia, where the state’s lawyer is arguing that they have the power to regulate drugs beyond FDA requirements.
I wrote about this last month, but it’s worth repeating: Anti-abortion groups’ claims that mifepristone was responsible for women’s deaths actually used data on deaths that were homicides and drug overdoses. Absolutely shameless.
“It is a part of the right’s ongoing project to roll back the victories of the feminist and gay rights movements, to re-establish the dominance of men in public life, to narrow possibilities for difference and expression and to inscribe in law a firm definition and hierarchy of gender: that people are either men or women and that men are better.”
Salon on Republicans’ war on mifepristone;
Insider on Ron DeSantis’ presidential run and what the Florida governor says about the Supreme Court;
WBUR on how the birth control pill was invented and tested;
And The Denver Post on why Sen. Tommy Tuberville should spend less time holding up military promotions over the DoD’s abortion policy and more time worrying about the “horrible health outcomes for women and children in his state.”
Just weeks after calling the possibility of a federal abortion ban unrealistic, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley pledged to sign a national ban today. And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally announced his candidacy: Abortion will play a big role in the coming months for him, as he tries to thread the needle on defending his 6-week abortion ban while appealing to a broader audience. You know what I’m going to say: Fuck that guy.
What Conservatives Are Saying
This headline from Washington Post columnist George Will is downright embarrassing. Yes, I know, consider the writer and all that—but come on. Imagine looking at what’s happening in this country right now and claiming that Americans are ‘ambivalent’ about abortion!!
The truth, of course, is that framing abortion as something Americans are split evenly on, or ambivalent about, is vital Republican strategy: They don't want to remind anyone that they're passing restrictions against the wishes of the vast majority of voters.
And as is the case with Republican lawmakers and the anti-choice movement, Will tries to paint a federal abortion ban as some kind of concession or ‘middle ground’, calling it “discussable, even palatable.”
Related: USA Today has a piece today about this messaging strategy and how Americans aren’t really buying it. One Wisconsin voter, for example, told the publication that she doesn’t believe it when candidates say they’re moderate on abortion. A sentiment that a recent poll from NARAL bears out, and a representative from the group says that Republicans “know this is a toxic issue with voters.” Also please note the quotes from Nikki Haley (who tried to characterize ‘not jailing women’ as a compromise), and Rep. Nancy Mace (who tried to characterize supporting birth control access as ‘the middle’.)
More from Abortion, Every Day
I was on The Majority Report talking about abortion today if you’re not too sick of me and want to watch!