I’m starting off the newsletter today with a longer story today; an Ohio woman told TIME about her “never-ending nightmare” of an experience trying to end her doomed and dangerous pregnancy. Read the whole piece, but I wanted to summarize it for you here as well to demonstrate how all the bans—and all the legal back and forth—are impacting real people:
Twenty weeks into a very wanted pregnancy, Tara George finds out her fetus is fatally ill and putting her health, and possibly life, at risk. Somehow, she still doesn’t fit the requirements for an abortion in her home state because her hospital is afraid her case won’t “withstand legal scrutiny.” So she makes an appointment in Michigan.
A few days later, however, that hospital decides to stop performing abortions after a decision by a Michigan appeals court. Tara can only end her pregnancy at a hospital because of her complicated health risks, so she and her husband find one in Pennsylvania who can see her—but not for another week. Every day that goes by, Tara is more at risk, and closer to the 24-week date that puts her pregnancy in a different legal category for abortion. At this point it’s been almost a week. “It was so taxing on both of us emotionally, even physically,” her husband told TIME. “You can’t sleep, you can’t eat. And then you just keep getting these horrible phone calls. You’re canceling hotels, you’re missing time from work, you have to reschedule days. It just got to be so much within just a few days.”
Then another decision comes down in Michigan that makes the hospital reverse their policy—they tell Tara they can give her the abortion if she can get to them that afternoon, before the legal landscape changes again. They rush there, and Tara is able to end her pregnancy. Keep in mind, they are having to do all this—the desperate planning, phone calls, traveling—all while mourning the loss of a pregnancy they had already created a registry for. Tara says, “I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”
If this isn’t torture, I don’t know what is.
On to the normal news roundup…
NBC News talks to the staff at a Tennessee clinic about how they’re handling the state’s total abortion ban. Meanwhile, advocates for sexual assault survivors there are trying to lobby state Republicans for a rape and incest exception, “even though they’ve shown almost no interest in exceptions to the law.” Monsters. For a palate cleanser, watch MSNBC’s interview with the Tennessee teenagers who started their own peer sex education group.
In Georgia, legal experts are worried that the law’s allowance for miscarriage treatment could still put women at risk of arrest: There’s no real way to differentiate between bleeding from a miscarriage or bleeding from an abortion—so any miscarrying woman who shows up a hospital could be investigated. Also in Georgia, NPR has a short segment on what’s happening with Stacey Abrams, who is behind in the polls but hoping that a focus on abortion will help motivate voters. (You can donate to her campaign here.)
Beto O’Rourke is also hoping that abortion will move Texas voters: “I am confident that in the year 2022 that [abortion] protection will be won back by the women of Texas. That’s what this election is about. We must win in November.”
Also in Texas, three women share their abortion stories with The 19th; and The Texas Tribune has put out a short documentary on the Mexican groups helping Texas women obtain abortions, and how their acompañamiento model of organizing is being replicated in the United States:
In North Dakota, some pro-choice activists are considering a ballot measure campaign for 2024 to re-legalize abortion; organizers in South Dakota are working on the same: Dakotans for Health submitted a proposed amendment for 2024 that would abortion rights in the state constitution.
Missouri activists are out in force as part of a “summer of rage”; in Minnesota, pro-choicers are worried about the privacy risks of crisis pregnancy centers (who aren’t bound by HIPAA); and this columnist looks at what voters in Iowa might do when abortion is on the ballot.
In response to the trigger ban about to go into effect in Indiana, Democrats there are working to make contraception more accessible by pushing legislation that would allow women to get birth control directly from their pharmacist. I don’t know why we don’t have this everywhere.
In North Carolina, Democrats are hoping that the state’s newly reinstated law banning abortion at 20 weeks will get furious voters to the polls. One consultant said, “It was a horrible policy decision that set back decades and decades of progress for women, but at that same time, it has given Democrats a renewed optimism about this year.”
A doctor in South Carolina wrote about some of the issues she’s seen come up in the last months, including a patient with a life-threatening postpartum hemorrhage who needed a dilation and curettage (D&C) to save her life: “Yet we were told that we couldn’t perform that surgery anymore ‘because it is illegal.’”
California just wrote 20 million dollars into their budget to bring women from other states in to have abortions. Also in California, anti-abortion Republicans are running scared. In less great news from the state, an anti-choice group with links to the alt-right became violent outside a Modesto Planned Parenthood—adding to the trend of anti-abortion extremists targeting pro-choice states.
Speaking of anti-choice protestors, the Red River Women’s clinic—which was forced to move from North Dakota to Minnesota—has been dealing with a few. (Luckily the new building layout makes it harder for extremists to interact with patients.)
On the national front…
The Guardian has an interview with Dorothy Roberts, professor and author of the iconic book, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty. I urge you to read the whole thing, but here’s a snippet:
“It’s clear that the movement for reproductive justice must be aligned with movements for housing, abolishing the prison industrial complex, environmental justice, and economic justice, because all of those movements are essential to supporting freedom, including reproductive freedom.”
NPR has an interview with a 65 year-old woman, Elaine, who was raped as an 11 year-old by a man who broke into her home. Her mom took her to a doctor a few months later for what she now knows was an abortion—though she was too young to understand at the time. When her mother explained when she was 16, “I just said, ‘Thank you.’”
“Elaine says she’s grateful for how her ‘very Catholic’ mother, who died in 2010, handled an impossible situation. She says she understands that some people have strong moral objections to abortion. But to them, she says: ‘I’m here to tell you, in this kind of a situation you would throw out your religion in half a second. It’s easy to say what other people should do when it’s theoretical.’”
Mother Jones says the GOP’s midterm lead is rapidly shrinking thanks to anger over abortion rights. (Fingers crossed.)
And a young woman decided to call 61 universities in anti-choice states and ask them if they’d cover a student’s travel expenses if they needed an abortion. Here’s what they said.