Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (6.1.23)

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Abortion, Every Day (6.1.23)

Conservatives want to open a national network of maternity homes

In the States

We’ve been paying close attention to Ohio, where Republicans are using a special August election to try to raise the standard on ballot measures from a simple majority to 60% of the vote—a move to stop voters from restoring abortion rights. The GOP in the state has been lying their asses off for months about the move: first they claimed it had nothing to do with abortion, but instead was about special interests from out-of-state. Then a leaked letter from state Rep. Brian Stewart laid plain what we already knew—it’s all about abortion.

Now we have a new deception: The campaign behind the special election to raise the ballot measure standard, co-chaired by Senate President Matt Huffman, held a meeting yesterday with lobbyists where they explained their strategy:

“You don’t say abortion. You don’t say 60%. You don’t bring up social issues that divide even Republicans. The focus will be on protecting the constitution from special interests.”

Just to be clear: They want to require 60% of the vote for ballot measures but don’t say 60%. Because they know it’s not what voters want, and they know they’ll have to trick voters and lie to them in order to move their plan forward. Disgusting.

Speaking of banning abortion despite voters’ wishes: A new survey shows that most people Louisiana want abortion to be legal. The 2023 Louisiana Survey, conducted by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at Louisiana State University, found that 52% of respondents said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. 77% of respondents believe that a woman should be able to have an abortion if she’s been raped—this comes just a few weeks after legislators refused to add a rape exception to the state’s ban. These numbers align with what we’re seeing across the country: broad support for abortion rights, even in red states.

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In Florida, for example, 75% of voters oppose the state’s recently-passed 6-week ban. That’s why abortion rights advocates are trying to pass a pro-choice ballot measure. Public radio station WUSF reports on the coalition of groups working to get the measure in front of voters, and has the text of the amendment:

“No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider. This amendment does not change the Legislature’s constitutional authority to require notification to a parent or guardian before a minor has an abortion.”

More from Florida: the state Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision soon(ish) on the state’s 15-week abortion ban—a ruling that could set the stage for the state 6-week ban going into effect. The decision in front of the Court is whether or not the 15-week ban violates the state constitution’s privacy clause. It clearly does, but as the Florida Phoenix points out, the current Court—chock full of Ron DeSantis appointees—is likely just fine with dismissing precedent.

The state Supreme Court in Oklahoma struck down two anti-abortion laws as unconstitutional this week, but abortion remains illegal. Still, activists hope that the decision will make it even slightly easier for doctors in the state who were struggling with when they were legally allowed to give women care. Lawyer Rabia Muqaddam of the Center for Reproductive Rights told The New York Times, “Now they can provide care to patients who are facing difficult health circumstances, and they can rely on their medical judgment.” For more responses to the Court’s decision from state politicians and activists, click here.

Virginia Democrats and pro-choice advocates are warning that abortion rights is at stake in the coming November election. In the wake of abortion bans being passed in North Carolina and South Carolina, abortion access in the South comes down to Virginia—and Gov. Glenn Youngkin has already said he plans to try to revive his 15-week abortion ban. State Sen. Creigh Deeds says, “Senate Democrats are the only people and have been the only people standing between Virginians and an abortion ban similar to the one passed in North Carolina.”

Here’s a short local segment featuring Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia Executive Director Jamie Lockhart talking about what’s at stake:

You may remember that when Kansas was gearing up for their ballot measure fight on abortion, voters got a text message telling them that “voting YES on the amendment gives women a choice.” The problem? Voting ‘yes’ was a vote for the anti-abortion measure. This piece from The Lever looks at the conservative activist behind that effort, Leonard Leo, and his $1.6 billion dark money fund. Definitely check it out if you want a better sense of just how fucking sketchy the anti-abortion movement is.

More in voter suppression: In the The Kansas City Star, pediatrician and member of the Missouri Healthcare Professionals for Reproductive Rights, Dr. Jennifer B. Hillman writes about Missouri’s Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s attempts to stymie a pro-choice ballot measure. (Bailey is refusing to accept the state auditor’s estimate of how much restoring abortion rights would cost the state—the auditor says $51,000, Bailey is claiming it would cost $51 billion. From Dr. Hillman:

“As long as Bailey and other politicians in our state use their political power to thwart attempts to broaden access to reproductive care, our elected officials in Jefferson City will remain the biggest threat to Missouri women’s health.”

And in one of the more chilling op-eds I’ve seen in a while, two Idaho OBGYNs are at the Idaho Statesman explaining exactly how women in the state should seek care if they are pregnant and have any variety of complications: from ectopic and molar pregnancies, to HELLP syndrome or premature ruptured membranes:

“Do not go to an urgent care or emergency department that is not attached to a hospital unless that is the only option accessible to you.”

I cannot believe we’re at a place where doctors need to announce in newspapers how women should seek appropriate medical care, because they know that too many other physicians will be too afraid to tell them what to do. (If they can navigate the deliberately-vague law at all.)

New Mexico is one of several pro-choice states where conservative activists have been passing abortion bans using local ordinances, in defiance of state law. This week, a judge in the state temporarily halted a lawsuit from the city of Eunice—which was seeking to stop state Attorney General Raúl Torrez from blocking enforcement of their anti-abortion ordinance. The state Supreme Court is set to hear a case on the broader issue of small towns banning abortion in spite of state law, and so the judge blocked the suit until that case is resolved. AG Torrez lauded the decision, saying, “We refuse to allow women to be relegated to the status of second-class citizens and look forward to definitively resolving this question in the proper forum.”

Sad news out of Kentucky, where an abortion clinic that’s been operating for 40 years—one of only two in the state—is selling its building. Co-owner of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Ona Marshall, also founded the Kentucky Reproductive Fund—which remains operating. Ashley Jacobs was a clinic escort for eight years at the clinic, and calls her time volunteering rewarding. “If someone got into the clinic and wanted to be there, you felt like you helped someone get access to care they wanted,” she said. Jacobs also said something I imagine a lot of clinic escorts and defenders can relate to: “I met some of the best and worst people in the world.”

In Oregon, where Republicans have been boycotting over legislation protecting access to gender-affirming and abortion care, Gov. Tina Kotek said that she’s at an impasse with the state GOP. Kotek also defended a piece of legislation allowing teenagers to access abortion without parental notification—noting that the law is about protecting minors who may be incest victims. “They deserve access to care,” she said.

Some rare good news out of Alabama: With the legislative session coming to an end, the bill seeking to make abortion punishable as a homicide didn’t go anywhere. Seems odd to count that as a win, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

Quick hits:

  • A new program in Missouri allows anyone in the state to have free emergency contraception shipped to them;

  • Montana state attorneys have filed an appeal in response to a judge’s decision blocking several anti-abortion laws;

  • The 19th on the ACLU’s lawsuit challenging Nebraska’s anti-abortion/anti-trans law;

  • And I know this is petty, but why is it that every column I see in local papers about how we need to come to a reasonable compromise on abortion has virtually the same author picture (old white guy)??

In the Nation

I highly recommend you listen to today’s episode of The Run-Up at The New York Times on the “new terms of abortion politics.” Astead Herndon interviewed Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson—but it’s his interview with Susan B. Anthony President Marjorie Dannenfelser that I want you to pay close attention to.

All of the stuff we’ve been talking about at Abortion, Every Day about the language and strategy of the anti-abortion movement comes up. Like, all of it.

I’ve been writing a lot this month about the way that the anti-abortion movement is bending over backward to avoid using the word ‘ban’, for example—instead calling for a ‘national standard’ or ‘national consensus’. In the interview, Dannenfelser made clear just how central that language switch-up is to them. At one point, she actually chastised Herndon when he referred to her organization’s push for a federal 15-week ban as a ‘ban.’ She said it’s a “federal limit”:

“Ban means everything, so a federal limit means partially banning. Banning is not the word that we use because it’s not accurate.”

So it seems not only will she not use ‘ban’, she’s not even using ‘restriction’. Clever. There were two other words that Dannenfelser used multiple times: standard (as in they’re fighting for a “federal standard”) and “consensus.” We know where ‘consensus’ came from, of course: the anti-abortion movement is desperate to distract people from the fact that Republicans are passing abortion bans against voters’ wishes. ‘Consensus’ makes it seem as if they’re something Americans actually want.

For example, even though we know the vast majority of voters in Florida oppose the recently-passed 6-week ban, Dannenfelser talked about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ law by saying he “was ambitious…along with the will of the people.” Stressing “the will of the people” is especially important in a moment when Republicans across multiple states are trying to stop pro-choice ballot measures—and voters’ ability to make their voices heard—with all-out attacks on democracy.

And while Dannenfelser wouldn’t say directly that the movement wants to pass a total national abortion ban, she came close. When Herndon asked her if the move to get a 15-week federal ban was just a first step to pushing for a total federal ban, Dannenfelser got pissed and accused him of “trying to be helpful to your cause.” She then said that it was the movement’s job “to get to America’s consensus on the issue” but made clear she wanted abortion banned at conception. But here’s where it gets really telling. From Dannenfelser:

“No matter where we land, it will not outstrip the will of the people of the country, and if it does in some way, the democratic process is here and available for the will of the people to speak again.” (Emphasis mine)

Essentially, she’s saying: yeah, maybe we are able to pass a total federal abortion ban against the will of voters, but if they don’t like it they can just try to vote again. Whew. In any case, really do go listen to the whole thing—if you can stomach it.

File this under ‘not shocking in the least, but disappointing nonetheless’: Meta, the social media giant that owns Facebook and Instagram, rejected a shareholder proposal that asked the company to expand privacy protections for abortion-related data, and to evaluate the risks of law enforcement accessing that data. Walmart investors rejected a similar proposal this week that asked the company to look at consumer’s data privacy as it relates to abortion investigations.

Quick hits:

  • The CDC reports that teen birth rates are at historic lows (I can’t imagine that will last long);

  • Rewire with an op-ed from a doctor in support of over-the-counter access for birth control;

  • And I can’t believe this is necessary, but Politifact takes on Students For Life’s claim that there’s mifepristone in our tap water.

Stats & Studies

NARAL Pro-Choice America has a new set of research memos out that are worth checking out:

I’m making my way through them now, but every document is filled with links to evidence and other resources—which is incredibly helpful. The memo on the conservative cultural and political campaign against birth control is especially good, and highlights all the ways that the anti-abortion movement is trying to sow distrust in hormonal birth control.


Ron DeSantis’ super PAC has put out an ad attacking Donald Trump on his comments about a 6-week abortion ban being “too harsh.” It’s an interesting move, given how deeply unpopular abortion bans are—but I suppose DeSantis doesn’t have much of a choice. He’s attached to Florida’s ban, so he needs to own it. The ad is part of a broader campaign the group is calling “Never Back Down.”

DeSantis made his first visit to Iowa yesterday, telling his audience of supporters that “we will fight the woke mob.” In response, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart criticized DeSantis for his 6-week abortion ban, noting, “While he focuses on culture wars, DeSantis has done nothing to address the biggest economic challenges that are facing families.”

In New Hampshire, former Arkansas governor and current Republican presidential candidate Asa Hutchinson said he’d support a federal abortion ban and used our least favorite word, ‘reasonable’: “I certainly support reasonable restrictions on abortion but also reasonable exceptions: life of the mother and the cases of rape and incest, as well.”

And Vox has a piece today on former Vice President Mike Pence’s possible candidacy, including more information on his hardline abortion stance.

Keep An Eye On

We have a lot of anti-abortion movement bullshit today! The Charlotte Lozier Institute—the ‘research’ arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America—put out a paper today on their strategy for expanding abortion restrictions and bans across the country. There’s plenty to pay attention to, but I wanted to flag one nightmare in particular: the group wants to establish “a network of maternity homes across the nation” run by Heartbeat International—the country’s largest network of anti-abortion centers.

This truly terrifies me. We’ve already seen an exponential increase in funding for religiously-affiliated anti-abortion centers that lie to women, scare and shame them. Now these same groups want to have women live with all of that horror. Lots of women in this country remember what it was like when vulnerable pregnant women were shuttled to homes—we don’t want to see that again. (And if you want a sense of what modern maternity homes are like, this NPR piece about a center in Idaho where women have curfews and need to hand over their phones should give you an inkling.)

As always, they are telling us exactly what they plan to do. The only question is: Will we pay attention?

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Jessica Valenti