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Abortion, Every Day (6.23.23)
Anti-choice orgs want to redefine 'ban'
In the States
Abortion right advocates in Ohio are feeling positive about the signature-gathering efforts for a pro-choice ballot measure. A representative from Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights says “we are on track to be successful.” A reminder: Depending on the outcome of Republicans’ special August election that aims to raise the standards on ballot measures, the amendment may need 60% of votes in order to pass.
Chris Devine, an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Dayton told NBC News, “Based on the patterns we’ve seen so far, raising the threshold from 50 to 60, quite possibly, I think likely will make the difference between that amendment passing and not passing.”
Speaking of ballot measures, The Kansas City Star published a piece on abortion access in Missouri since Roe was overturned—and how activists are hoping to restore the right with a pro-choice amendment. As you know, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has been trying to hold up the abortion rights ballot measure, even after a judge ordered him to cut it out. As is the case in most states, the majority of voters in Missouri want abortion to be legal, so fingers and toes crossed.
Abortion, Every Day has been bringing you the news and analysis you care about for nearly a year. And when all the other coverage slows or stops after this weekend’s anniversary, we’ll still be here. Help us keep going by signing up for a paid subscription:
In Indiana, the Capital Chronicle reports on what abortion access has looked like in the state since Roe was overturned. Indiana’s abortion is currently blocked, but “we are seeing the shadow effects,” says family medicine physician Dr. Alison Case. Appointments are hard to get, clinic staffing is struggling, and OBGYNs are leaving the state. And because the state requires an 18-hour waiting period, many patients are just choosing to travel to Illinois to get care.
Texas has one of the harshest abortion bans in the country, and The Texas Tribune looks at how that has played out over the last year: for women with wanted, but dangerous, pregnancies; those who are self-managing their own abortions in spite of the law; those who are traveling out-of-state and more. The whole piece is definitely worth reading.
And as Utah Republicans try to ban abortion—the latest move was requiring abortions to be performed only in hospitals—pro-choice activists in the state say they’re not backing down. From Kathryn Boyd, president of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah:
“We will go as far as it takes. We will. We will try. We will work every avenue. We will challenge every new law. We are not going to give up on providing abortion care in this state.”
It’s not just anti-abortion states who are suffering post-Dobbs. Karen Middleton, president of the abortion rights group Cobalt, writes in the Denver Post about how the decision has thrown Colorado’s healthcare system “into chaos”:
“Patients, many of them in medical, emotional, and financial distress, are flooding Colorado from abortion ban states. Statewide, patients here are seeing delays in the full spectrum of reproductive health care because of the time-sensitive nature of abortion care. Routine screenings and procedures are getting pushed back and moved around because we have a crisis created by the Supreme Court and anti-abortion ideologues.”
POLITICO reports that there’s been disagreement among New York pro-choice politicians on how best to support abortion rights: After Dobbs, state leaders said they would be funding abortion providers and abortion funds. But Gov. Kathy Hochul wasn’t on board, and decided to only give money to providers—not the funds. Chelsea Williams-Diggs, the interim executive director of New York Abortion Access Fund, says, “We are not living up to our brand, or our name, as a safe haven.”
On the upside…
In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills’ proposal to allow abortion at anytime if a doctors deems it necessary passed the state House last night. (Right now Maine law bans abortion after 24 weeks unless there’s a risk to the pregnant person’s life.)
Leaders from Michigan abortion rights groups—including Planned Parenthood, Michigan Voices and ACLU of Michigan—write in the Detroit Free Press that legislators must eradicate the last barriers to abortion access: TRAP laws, lack of Medicaid coverage for abortion, and the state’s parental consent law.
NPR looks at how pro-choice states have protected and expanded abortion rights, from Maryland putting millions of dollars into training healthcare providers in abortion to Colorado’s restrictions on anti-abortion centers. And Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker writes for Salon about how he helped to protect abortion rights in the state over the last year.
Boise State Public Radio on where abortion rights stand in Idaho a year after Roe was overturned;
WBUR on how abortion rights advocates in Massachusetts are working to protect out-of-state patients’ data and privacy;
In the Nation
President Joe Biden is signing an executive order today to protect access to contraception. The order seeks to, among other things, support increased access to over-the-counter contraception, improve contraception coverage through Medicaid, and make birth control more affordable for college students.
I love this: Rep. Ayanna Pressley introduced the Abortion Justice Act yesterday—legislation that would protect abortion providers and patients from being prosecuted, and pushes for coverage of abortion-related costs like travel and lost wages. The legislation would also increase funding for abortion training and research.
I really appreciated this piece from Susan Rinkunas at Jezebel, that gets into something we talk about a lot here: how every abortion denied is a tragedy. Instead, she points out, we’re almost exclusively hearing about the horror stories “because they represent the visceral, high-stakes consequences of abortion bans.”
“You know what else is visceral? Not being able to pay your rent because you have a newborn the Supreme Court coerced you into carrying. Stitches on third- and fourth-degree vaginal tears from a baby you didn’t intend to have. And though circumstances like a woman who has three kids and can’t afford more, or simply doesn’t want to be a parent, seem like more “mundane” reasons to seek an abortion…any forced pregnancy is a horror story of its own.”
Finally, an important reminder from Pregnancy Justice: When it comes to criminalization, “preliminary post-Dobbs tracking shows that the majority of cases are related to substance use.” Republicans hope that Americans won’t care because they’re targeting the most vulnerable among us. Let’s not prove them right.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reminds us that there are more states with abortion bans than paid family leave;
The Los Angeles Times editorial board on the importance of electing pro-choice politicians;
POLITICO on the strategy of religious freedom challenges to state bans;
Stats & Studies
A few quick data hits today: NPR talks to the economics professor who mapped out abortion access; The New York Times on the rapid increase in support for abortion rights; NARAL’s latest analysis of how out-of-step Republicans are with the majority of Americans; a reminder that 25 MILLION women live in a state with abortion restrictions or bans; and The Guardian with a visualization of who’s passing anti-abortion laws that will give you a rage migraine. (You’re welcome!)
Anti-Choice Strategy: Language
If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m obsessed with the way that the anti-abortion movement is trying to stop using the word ‘ban’ when talking about their bans. We’ve reported how they’ve replaced the word—especially when it comes to talking about national legislation—with terms like ‘national standard’ or ‘national consensus’. Now anti-abortion activists aren’t just refusing to use the word ban—they want reporters to stop using it, too.
In a piece from The Hill about abortion and the presidential election, E.V. Osment of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America told a reporter, “when you say ‘ban,’ that is really misleading to the American people because then they think there’s not exceptions.” Leaving aside for a moment that exceptions aren’t real, this is incredibly important to pay attention to: They are deliberately defining the word ‘ban’ so that it won’t apply to any abortion legislation.
Take Tennessee’s total abortion ban, for example. Because it allows (barely) for life-saving abortions, using their definition, the law wouldn’t be considered a ‘ban’. It’s a strategy that has the potential to be super dangerous, especially if the media takes heed. Which, in The Hill’s case, it did! This is how reporters described the 15-week national abortion ban that SBA Pro-Life America is pushing candidates to support: “The group is calling for restrictions on the procedure at 15 weeks, with exceptions at the federal level.” What??
It’s a fucking ban, call it a ban.
More in anti-choice strategy: Yet another buffer zone lawsuit—pay close attention to these.
Former vice president Mike Pence is the anti-abortion movement’s favorite presidential candidate for a reason. In an interview with POLITICO today, Pence called a 15-week federal ban “a good starting point.” Which is his way of saying, obviously, that he wants a total national abortion ban.
Meanwhile, despite every poll showing support for abortion rights increasing, conservatives are trying to convince us that voters’ interest in the issue is waning. Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini told NPR that enthusiasm for abortion rights as an election issue isn’t bound to last, and “as we settle back into, what feels like a status quo…it's going to be, I think, tougher to move people and to message on the issue.”
Crisis in Care
ABC News spoke to some of the doctors who are leaving anti-abortion states, and it paints a grim picture of what the future of maternal health and mortality will look like in a huge portion of the country. OBGYNs and maternal fetal medicine specialists don’t feel like they can provide patients with the necessary care that they deserve because of state bans. And while the physicians that spoke to ABC News are struggling with their decisions, they ultimately have to practice in places where they can feel safe from prosecution.
That said, they have no illusions as to who will suffer the most as a result of doctors’ mass exodus: Dr. Alireza Shamshirsaz says rich people can leave the state if they need care. “Who do we hit? We will hit the low social economy people.”
And this New York Magazine piece about an Alabama doctor dealing with the post-Roe fallout is absolutely gutting. Dr. Yashica Robinson was performing the majority of abortions in the state before it was banned; since then, she’s still seeing and helping patients anyway she can within the confines of the law. But the nightmare has left her, understandably, wrecked:
“‘I’m too tired to start over or try to do something else, even though it probably would be a lot easier. Then, for so long, I kept telling myself that this is the work that I was called to do or work that I loved and was passionate about, but the truth about it is I feel like this work hasn’t loved me back.’ She’s sobbing now. Because she’s not a symbol or superhuman or a savior. Just a person who has been doing what she can with few people willing to do much to help.”
Quick Care Crisis hits: NPR with stories from 8 people on how abortion bans have impacted their lives; the Associated Press spoke to doctors about their decisions to either stay in or leave anti-abortion states; and ABC News on how doctors are working around bans to save their patients lives and health.
Wise Words on the Dobbs Anniversary
“This is not the kind of thing we are accustomed to memorializing in America: the lost dreams, the ruined health, the unwritten novels and symphonies, the early deaths, the searing and profound humiliation. We do not like to dwell on our failures, our violences, our ignoble reversals. But it is worth dwelling on this one today. Take a moment to remember the women who have been denied abortions since Dobbs – those who are hurt and threatened by their pregnancies, and those who simply do not want them – and grieve for them. Grieve, and wonder about what other lives they might have led, if they had a choice.”
And at HuffPo, reporter Alanna Vagianos talks to the “unapologetic abortion rights movement” that’s erupted out of Roe being overturned. I love hearing from folks who are all the way in—like Jade Hurley of the DC Abortion Fund:
“When we have nothing, we’re forced to be imaginative. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can build.”
Love this. It gave me some hope.
Abortion, Every Day has been bringing you the news and analysis you care about for nearly a year. And when all the other coverage slows down after this weekend’s anniversary, we’ll still be here. Help us keep going by signing up for a paid subscription:
I spoke to Slate’s Christina Cauterucci about what I’ve learned writing about abortion ever day for the last year.
Restoring our Faith
It’s always good to remind ourselves of the incredible people around the country working to reduce the suffering caused by abortion bans. I really loved this profile from Aljazeera of a Texas-based pilot with Elevated Access—a group that flies patients out of anti-choice states so they can get the care they need. Michelle, 61, not only covers the cost of the flights out of her own pocket, she’s taking considerable personal risk considering the state law that criminalizes ‘aiding and abetting’ abortion and allows for citizens to sue each other over the procedure. Still, she keeps flying:
“The general public ought to know that compassionate helping people isn’t ‘terrorism’. It isn’t even particularly activist.I believe in civic responsibility and the social contract. We owe something to one another.”
And if you need some more of good people doing good things, watch this video of a DC-based abortion doula:
I love, love, love this new project from WeTestify and I Need An A: The Abortion Times, a limited edition newspaper marking the Dobbs anniversary. The paper has abortion stories, comics, ‘classifieds’, and data visualizations of how abortion access has changed in the last year. You can download The Abortion Times here.