Discover more from Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (8.24.23)
Conservatives pushing for national anti-abortion curricula in K-12
Thanks to everyone who joined our live chat during the debate last night. It made that shit show close to tolerable! (Free subscribers: Getting to commiserate with the Abortion, Every Day community is one of the perks of being a paying supporter—it really is worth it!)
The GOP Debate
Given last night’s Republican presidential debate, let’s do things a little differently today and start with 2024 news.
Navigator Research hosted live polling with a group of independents and “soft partisans” whose reactions to the debate they tracked in real time. You won’t be surprised to find out that the women watching were not pleased with Republicans’ answers on abortion. In fact, support among the entire polling group absolutely plummeted while the candidates spoke about abortion bans. (But especially among women.) Just check out those lines while Mike Pence was talking about abortion:
Navigator Research found that Nikki Haley’s favorability rose during the debate, and that respondents preferred her answers on abortion over the other candidates. To me, this is wild. Maybe it’s just about Haley’s answers being better than the Handmaid’s Tale reboot Mike Pence launched into, but I really couldn’t believe that she repeated the bizarre talking point about how we can all agree that birth control should be legal and that women shouldn’t get the death penalty. (Remember what I wrote about how they’re redefining the middle??)
All of this seems to line up with the most recent polling: A CBS News poll found that less than half of Republican primary voters prefer a nominee who supports a national abortion ban, and that a “not insignificant” portion of the electorate want someone who opposes a national ban. Vox also points to a New York Times/Siena poll showing that more than a third of Republican primary voters think abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.
The only candidate to explicitly oppose a national abortion ban last night was North Dakota governor, Doug Burgum, who said that the issue should be up to the states. (Please remember, though, that Burgum signed one of the strictest abortion laws in the country.)
I’m sure we’ll be talking more about abortion later in pregnancy as the election inches closer, but something quick about last night: I wish Democrats wouldn’t take the bait in the way that Jen Psaki did last night when she tweeted, “No one supports abortion up until birth.” The comment not only opened her up to conservative ridicule, but it also stigmatized abortion later in pregnancy. Because people do and should support abortion throughout pregnancy. As I write so often, pregnancy is too complicated to legislate. The other issue with the tweet is that it accepts conservative framing. There is no such thing as ‘abortion up until birth’—but there is such a thing as nuanced, appropriate reproductive health care throughout pregnancy.
Finally, if you missed my column earlier today about the debate, you can read it here:
Mainstream Media Muck-Ups (Debate Edition)
One of the more bizarre moments in the debate last night was when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed to know a woman, Penny, who “survived multiple abortion attempts” and “was left discarded in a pan.” Yes, really.
Jezebel reports that DeSantis was likely talking about the anti-abortion activist Miriam “Penny” Hopper, whose story doesn’t actually seem to be about abortion. Hopper says her mother got very ill 23 weeks into her pregnancy and that the doctor “induced the abortion by giving my mother a shot.” But that’s not how abortion works. Assuming any of what she said is true, what it sounds like to me is that the doctor gave Hopper’s mother something to induce labor. Because she was extremely premature, the assumption was that Hopper wouldn’t survive, but she did.
But that’s just conjecture on my part—because all of this is impossible to fact-check! That’s why I’m baffled by CNN’s decision to identify Hopper as an “abortion survivor.” It’s an egregious mirroring of false Republican rhetoric (aka they’re just repeating conservative lies). Do better, CNN.
Do you rely on Abortion, Every Day to keep you informed and infuriated? Then help us keep going and growing by signing up for a paid subscription!
In the States
South Carolina medical providers are trying to adjust to their new anti-abortion reality, with teaching hospitals assuring their communities that they’ll continue to train OBGYNs in accordance with the law and medical standards. (Which means they’ll have to send doctors out-of-state for abortion training.)
And if you’re wondering what the fuck happened in South Carolina with the Supreme Court decision, law professor Mary Ziegler has an important piece to read over at Slate. The short version is that unlike other state Supreme Courts where justices have to be worried about reelection, the justices in South Carolina have no such concerns:
“South Carolina Supreme Court judges are ‘elected’ by the state Legislature to serve 10-year terms; the Legislature can then decide whether to give a judge extra terms on the bench. That means that South Carolina judges have to worry more about pleasing partisan state lawmakers than voters.”
Ziegler points out that this is a good reminder that a state-level approach to restoring and protecting abortion rights can only take us so far: we need federal protections.
The Arizona Supreme Court will review a lower court’s decision that blocked the state’s 1864 abortion ban. The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that abortion providers can’t be charged under the old law because newer, conflicting abortion laws had been passed since. But now the state Supreme Court has decided to hear a challenge brought by an anti-abortion activist who runs a fake clinic in the state.
In response to the news, the director of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Arizona said, “This archaic abortion ban the intervenors are trying to revive is cruel, harmful, and unpopular with a majority of Arizonans. It has no place dictating our reproductive freedom and how we live our lives today.” After what happened in South Carolina this week, I am not looking forward to any more state Supreme Court decisions.)
You may recall that Texas is being sued by a former prison guard who had a stillbirth after her employers prohibited her from leaving work, even after she started to get labor pains seven months into her pregnancy. You also probably remember that their defense is that her fetus doesn’t qualify as a person under the law, in spite of the state abortion ban. Slate has a piece pointing out that “Texas isn’t alone in treating the very same unborn life in strikingly inconsistent ways across different contexts.” They point out that Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Arizona, Mississippi, and Idaho all have abortion bans but won’t allow parents to sue over the death of a fetus. It’s almost as if the laws aren’t about ‘protecting babies’ at all!
Finally, only one of the seven candidates running for Louisiana governor supports overturning the state’s extreme abortion ban. (And please don’t forget what ‘independent’ candidate Hunter Lundy said about rape this week.) As a reminder, Louisiana has had multiple horror stories come out of the state—including one where a woman was denied an abortion even though her fetus had a condition that was listed in the state’s ‘exceptions’.
More on the Colorado battle over abortion ‘reversal’;
In the Nation
Bloomberg Law spoke to law professor Mary Ziegler about the legal battle over mifepristone;
The New Yorker on how anti-abortion politics could destroy PEPFAR, a wildly-successful HIV relief program;
Reuters has some fact-checking on candidates claim about abortion later in pregnancy;
The Care Crisis
As you know by now, the post-Roe care crisis isn’t just about access to abortion—but all kinds of reproductive healthcare. As OBGYNs and maternal fetal medicine specialists leave anti-choice states en masse, for example, maternity wards are shutting down and obstetric care is becoming harder to find. And in pro-choice states, where doctors are overwhelmed by out-of-state abortion-seekers, wait times are increasing for birth control, pap smears and other types preventative healthcare.
Planned Parenthood in New Mexico, for example, is limiting the care they provide outside of abortion services because of the explosive demand from medical refugees seeking to end their pregnancies. (More than half of abortion patients at Planned Parenthood New Mexico are traveling from Texas.) To ensure that anyone who needs an abortion can get one, the organization is referring patients who need other kinds of reproductive health services to other clinics in the state.
Adrienne Mansanares, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said, “We are one of just a few organizations that do provide abortion care. So there just aren't enough providers that can help jump in, whereas they can for things like sexually transmitted infections [STIs] or birth control.” Mansanares, who also oversees the Planned Parenthoods in Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming, says that the overwhelm is a problem in all pro-choice states: providers are being inundated.
This aligns with what Grace wrote earlier this week about the terrific pair of articles from The Guardian. Reporter Robin Buller spoke to women who are unable to get prenatal appointments in both pro-choice and anti-abortion states; she also looked at medical institutions that are taking a hit because of OBGYN staffing shortages.
The University of South Florida, for example, used to be one of the country’s top schools for abortion training. Now, Buller reports, “applicant numbers subsequently declined dramatically, as skilled candidates took their talents elsewhere.”
But here’s the thing I can’t stop thinking about: it’s not just that talented doctors are leaving these states, but that the physicians who are staying may not be the best that the country has to offer. Stephanie Ros, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at USF, described the locum doctors that the hospital hired to help fill the gap as “the substitute teachers of the doctor world.” Yeesh.
The Anti-Abortion Center $ Trap
Something I’ve been writing about lately—and predict I’ll have a lot more on soon—is the way that conservative states are funneling money to anti-abortion centers. Republicans claim that they’re just funding organizations that help women and families; those who actually know what these groups do (and don’t do) understand that women and families aren’t getting shit from these fake clinics.
At Stateline News today, reporter Anna Claire Vollers has a good piece on the nitty gritty of how some of that funding works—and the way that Republican lawmakers are creating policies that privilege anti-abortion centers over other nonprofits. It’s definitely worth reading if you want to get a detailed understanding of the way that lawmakers are using tax credit programs to get money to religious, anti-choice organizations.
Also, the piece has a whopper of a quote. When asked about why anti-abortion centers aren’t required to have doctors or medical professionals on staff, Louisiana Republican state Sen. Beth Mizel said this:
“If I had put a requirement on the bill that they had to have a licensed medical provider there, I wouldn’t have had buy-in from the pregnancy resource centers because that’s too much of a financial burden on them and that’s not the role of the center.”
It’s too much of a financial burden to ask a so-called medical clinic to have medical professionals?! This comes at the same time that anti-abortion states are massively increasing funding to anti-abortion centers. And, as I’ve pointed out before, these are groups that have a policy against referring people for—or even talking about—birth control. All of which is to say: there’s a lot going on there, so be on the lookout for more.
Keep An Eye On
This is important—and terrifying. Conservatives know that they’re losing on abortion. And while they’re counting on Republicans to pass bans against voters’ wishes, anti-abortion groups know they can’t rely on undermining democracy alone. And since it’s clear that they can’t win over voters’ hearts and minds, conservatives are honing in on a new cultural tactic: indoctrinating children.
In a Newsweek op-ed today, we hear from Brooke Stanton, the CEO of Contend Projects—a conservative anti-abortion organization disguising themselves as an educational institute. Stanton argues that the reason Republicans are losing elections on abortion is because of “widespread scientific ignorance.” The answer, she says, is changing the national educational guidelines around what school children are taught about human development. You can guess where this is going:
“Science education in schools is the most effective way to shape future generations. If pro-life leaders want to win the battle against abortion, they need to recognize and release the untapped potential of K-12 science education standards, by ensuring human embryology is in America's science classrooms. If they fail to do so, the abortion industry will continue its winning streak at the ballot box for many generations to come.”
Naturally, Stanton is not arguing for actual science or biology in American classrooms, but anti-abortion propaganda. The idea is to lie to young people about human development—using scare tactics and religious ideology—in an attempt to convince them to oppose abortion. We’ve already seen this happen in places like North Dakota, for example, where the state started to use videos from the anti-abortion group Live Action in their classrooms.
We already have conservatives fucking up our schools with bigotry and book banning—the last thing we need is the addition of anti-abortion lies.