In the States
If you missed my column this weekend on North Carolina’s proposed abortion ban, definitely check it out. What we’re seeing happen there is what we can expect across the country: Republicans pretending that their run-of-the-mill bans, as cruel as ever, are somehow moderate and reasonable. You can read the piece here.
Also in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper was on Face the Nation this weekend. He said exactly what I argue in my column: “They’ve dressed this up as a 12-week ban, but it’s really not.” Thanks to Rep. Tricia Cotham switching parties, Republicans have the votes they need to override the governor’s veto. More from Gov. Cooper:
“North Carolina has become an access point in the Southeast. And what this legislation is going to do is going to prevent many women from getting abortions at any time during their pregnancy, because of the obstructions that they had put here. Many of these clinics are working very hard to treat women, and now they’re going to have many new medically unnecessary requirements that I think many of them are going to have to close.”
I told you last week that Florida activists are working to get a pro-choice ballot measure in front of voters in order to restore abortion rights. Florida public radio station WGCU has more on that effort—a coalition made up of different progressive organizations, including Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Florida Rising and Women’s Voices of Southwest Florida.
I’ll be real; the group has a rough road ahead of them. A campaign like this will cost millions, and—as WGCU points out—in order to get on the 2024 ballot, activists will need to submit over 890k petition signatures to the state by February 1. (The ballot measure will also require 60% of the vote to pass.) The hopeful news, though, is that 64% of Floridians believe abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.
In response to the news, anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America wasted no time in revealing what the conservative messaging strategy will be. They put out a news release saying that the measure would “impose an extreme abortion regime” and that “Gov. DeSantis consistently acts on the will of the people who overwhelmingly support parental consent before abortion for minors…” It should give us some hope that these groups know they can’t win on simple ‘pro-life’ messaging; they need to lie about what this proposal would actually do.
A South Carolina hospital is losing its maternity ward because of OBGYN shortages. Prisma Health Laurens County Hospital says patients will need to travel to a hospital in another county for care, about an hour away. We’re seeing this happen across anti-choice states, where hospitals are having a difficult time recruiting and retaining doctors who don’t want to work in places where they could be arrested for doing their jobs.
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If you or anyone you know is in Ohio, make sure they know about what’s going on with the August special election that Republicans plan to use to raise the standards on ballot measures. Apparently, the Ohio GOP is counting on Democrats not coming out to vote, which would allow them to pass a measure requiring amendments get 60% of the vote instead of a simple majority. So now is definitely the time to put in some GOTV calls.
Speaking of Republican efforts to undermine democracy: They’re pulling the same shit in South Dakota. Minnehaha County Auditor Leah Anderson has enacted a new policy that restricts petition activity in front of several government buildings that have long been popular spots for activists engaging with voters. Anderson’s policy says that petitioners are causing an “unnecessary disruption” and “inconvenience,” but Dakotans for Health says this is a move in direct response to their pro-choice ballot measure. Rick Weiland, co-founder of group, says, “this is voter suppression and another attack on direct democracy.”
When Nebraska blocked a near-total abortion ban, that happened in part because Republican state Sen. Merv Riepe voted with Democrats. This weekend, The Washington Post wrote about Riepe’s decision and how Republican voters in the state have also been coming out against abortion restrictions. It’s a good piece looking at the abortion-related discord in the party, but I wanted to flag the interviews with two Republican women who were anti-abortion but became pro-choice after working in the medical field.
Twenty-seven year-old Taylor Young was a Trump-supporting anti-choice voter who changed her mind on abortion after working as a surgical technician in labor and delivery—now she believes that there should be zero abortion restrictions. And Abigail Delaney, 40, an infertility specialist, became pro-choice after doing her OBGYN residency and seeing “all the bad things that can happen in pregnancy.”
This struck me as an important angle we should see more of: It would be powerful for activists and reporters to shine a light on those who become pro-choice once faced with the reality of abortion bans and what reproductive health really looks like. Especially given how heavily conservatives rely on medical myths and scare tactics.
Idaho’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law went into effect a few days ago. PBS News Hour did a segment on the law, if you’d like to find out more (though the anti-abortion guy they interviewed will definitely piss you off). As we’ve pointed out before at Abortion, Every Day, these kinds of laws will absolutely not stop with restrictions on minors.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has set aside $20 million for anti-abortion centers that lie to women, spread misinformation and push scare tactics. As a reminder, anti-abortion centers do not offer medical services; they exist solely to dissuade women from having abortions—yet we’re seeing most anti-choice states drastically increase their post-Roe funding.
And in more bad funding decisions, you probably remember that Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird decided that the state should stop reimbursing rape victims for their emergency contraception. It’s a particularly cruel move, given that the majority of victims who need their medication paid for are children. This weekend, retired philosophy professor John Kearney wrote a column for the Des Moines Register about why Bird owes the people of Iowa an explanation for why she would do such a thing. (Kearney uses the famous “violinist” thought experiment on abortion to make his argument.)
Axios on the strain on abortion providers in Oregon and Washington;
The New York Times on the South Carolina women who stopped the state’s proposed abortion ban;
The Washington Post on how the Wisconsin Supreme Court election results will impact abortion rights;
And Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia reminds people what’s at stake in the state’s November election.
In the Nation
One of the things we’ve talked about a lot here is how the attacks on mifepristone aren’t impacting abortion rights, but miscarriage care. This weekend, the Associated Press looked at how the medication is the “gold standard” for treating miscarriages—and the way that banning it for abortion would also make the pill unavailable for miscarriages.
Even if the medication remained legal for miscarriages, legal experts and doctors say, a decision banning mifepristone for abortion would create a chilling effect where physicians would be too worried to prescribe it. And while a misoprostol-only protocol can be used for miscarriage care just as it can be for abortions, the success rate is lower (leading to more follow-up surgical procedures) and is much more painful.
OBGYN Dr. Sarah Prager from the University of Washington School of Medicine told the AP, “It really feels like we’re just punishing people by not being able to give them an evidence-based and least-impactful regimen of medication.”
Since Roe was overturned, different abortion rights organizations have handled state- and national-level attacks in different ways. But there’s been tension between independent abortion providers and bigger, well-funded national organizations like Planned Parenthood. This piece from The New Yorker gets into some of what’s happening there—namely, the feeling from smaller organizations that Planned Parenthood is playing it way too safe:
“Peg Johnston, the former executive director of Southern Tier Women’s Health Services, an independent reproductive-health clinic in Vestal, New York, told me that Planned Parenthood’s timid rhetoric was a vestige of Sanger’s negative attitude toward abortion. ‘Independent providers got into abortion work because it was abortion work,’ Johnston said. ‘It seemed to me that people from Planned Parenthood saw abortion as a failure because they hadn’t prevented it. It’s sort of baked into who they are.’”
I’m still making my way through the article, so I’ll have a bit more for you tomorrow—but the general feeling on the ground seems to be disappointment, mixed with hesitance to speak out against a pro-choice group in the middle of a moment like this one. More soon.
CNN on how the three judges set to hear the next phase of the mifepristone legal battle were all appointed by Republicans, two of them by Trump;
And a piece on how Mexican feminist groups are helping American women obtain abortions.
Stats & Studies
If you’re a regular reader, you know that support for abortion rights is only increasing. Pollster Celinda Lake told New York Magazine writer Rebecca Traister earlier this year, “I don’t think Democrats have fully processed that this country is now 10 to 15 percent more pro-choice than it was before Dobbs in state after state and national data.” Which is amazing! But Vox has a piece today on what Democrats need to focus on next: Independent voters:
“Over the past two weeks, for example, two new national polls and data from three focus groups conducted in swing states (Ohio, North Carolina, and Michigan) indicated that significant numbers of independent voters remain confused and skeptical about where Republicans and Democrats stand on protecting abortion rights. The upside for Democrats is they may have substantial room to grow with these voters.”
There is good news and bad news. The good news is that independents are more likely to identify as pro-choice; the bad news is that Democrats are doing a shit job of reaching out to them. Vox reporter Rachel Cohen looked at videos and transcripts of different focus groups on abortion rights and found women in every group who supported abortion rights but “had significant trouble identifying Democrats’ and Republicans’ stances on abortion.”
Part of the issue, Cohen points out, is that President Joe Biden doesn’t talk about abortion, and even avoids using the word—instead “relying largely on surrogates and euphemisms like ‘protect women’s health care;’ and ‘a woman’s right to choose’.” That means that independent voters who want to protect abortion rights are getting mixed or unclear messages about where to throw their support.
Read the whole piece, it’s fascinating (though frustrating) stuff.
St. Louis on the Air, a show from St. Louis NPR has an in-depth segment on what happened when Mylissa Farmer of Missouri was denied an abortion despite her life being at risk—and the federal investigation into the two hospitals who refused to give her care. Farmer says, “It's crucial to understand that this can happen to anyone.” You can listen to the episode below:
Other short segments to listen to:
NPR on Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of Texas’ bounty hunter law;
What Conservatives Are Saying
Somehow it gets worse. Fox News bemoans the fact that nearly half of men “said they did not have a voice or choice in their partner's abortion decision and almost three out of five men, 57 percent, said they did not make the decision.” THE HORROR.