In the States
One of the new laws going into effect in Texas on September 1st will allow for the removal of local prosecutors who decline to target abortion cases. I’ve written about this legislation quite a bit; it’s a huge piece of the Republican strategy on abortion ban enforcement, and another attack on democratic norms.
Because remember, prosecutors are elected officials! What this legislation does is allow Texas citizens to petition for the removal of a district attorney who they claim has declined to prosecute “a class or type of criminal offense.” Think about what that means in a state where everyday citizens have already been essentially deputized to enforce abortion bans. Consider the man who sued his ex-wife’s friends for allegedly helping her obtain abortion medication. Under this law, he would be able to petition for the removal of a district attorney who didn’t pursue criminal charges against those same women.
Legislation like this isn’t going to be specific to Texas for long: In April, fifteen state Attorneys General just signed on to an amicus brief arguing that they have the right to remove DAs who refuse to target certain cases.
Also in Texas, doctors are raising the alarm on the (currently blocked) state ban on gender-affirming care and its connection to abortion bans. Bhavik Kumar, medical director for primary and trans care at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, says that both bans have “politicians who are not healthcare providers, have not had the training” spreading misinformation—and that the laws punish doctors just trying to do their jobs.
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The South Carolina Supreme Court announced today that they’re declining to reconsider their abortion ban decision. Planned Parenthood had requested a rehearing after the ruling was announced.
In related news: Law professor Mary Ziegler has a must-read piece in CNN today about the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling on abortion and what it reveals about conservatives’ broader plan to quash reproductive rights. Ziegler outlines three main strategies that played out in South Carolina: feigning concern for women, redefining the issue of ‘choice’ to include the choice to use birth control and not to have sex, and establishing fetal personhood. We saw all three steps in South Carolina’s battle (and loss) over abortion, and we can expect to see them everywhere else, too. This is an article you should absolutely click through to read.
I reported yesterday that Ohio abortion rights activists are suing the state ballot board over their misleading and false summary of a pro-choice amendment. The Ohio Capital Journal has more information on the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday. Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights is asking the state Supreme Court to ensure the full text of the amendment is included on ballots or to fix the deliberate lies in the current summary.
“Ohioans are constitutionally entitled to ballot language that allows them to make an informed decision about how they will cast their votes,” the complaint reads. The Associated Press and Bloomberg Law also covered the suit today.
As you know, Ohio Republicans have been working overtime to stop voters from having a say on abortion rights—from suing to keep the amendment off the ballot, to trying to change the standards for ballot measures in an attempt to keep abortion banned. Conservative lawmakers know that every election where abortion has been on the ballot has gone poorly for them, and so they’re trying to rig the game.
Meanwhile, in light of the Catholic Church coming out to oppose Ohio’s pro-choice amendment, a life-long Catholic columnist writes at The Columbus Dispatch that supporting protections for abortion rights is actually in line with her faith:
“No one should ever be forced to be pregnant. Neither the government nor the church should have any role in the decision—it belongs to each individual pregnant person and their doctor…Enshrining these principles will help protect vulnerable and marginalized people who face the biggest barriers to accessing care—the very same people whose needs Jesus teaches us to put first.”
I reported yesterday that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to call for repealing anti-abortion TRAP laws this week in a major policy address. In a press conference call today, abortion rights groups pushed to ensure that happens by calling for Whitmer and others to support the Reproductive Health Act.
Paula Thornton Greear with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan said, “I cannot say strongly enough how imperative it is that we clean up Michigan’s lawbooks…and passing the reproductive health act this fall is the easiest and most efficient way to get this done.”
Last November, Michigan voters enshrined abortion rights in the state constitution—which makes it easier to get rid of the anti-abortion laws still hanging around. “While Michiganders now have the legal right to reproductive freedom, it's time to finish the job, and ensure that they also have meaningful access,” Greear said.
In Colorado, abortion rights advocates plan to push for a pro-choice ballot measure in order to end the state’s ban on public funds for abortion care. Karen Middleton, president of abortion rights group Cobalt, says, “It has been a collective ambition of the coalition to overturn that policy, and to also protect the abortion rights in the constitution in whatever way we can.”
Finally, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California is launching a new ad campaign calling out politicians who “vote against abortion access every chance they get.” Jodi Hicks, president of the organization, says the Know Their Votes project will hold representatives “accountable for these harmful and dangerous votes.”
After voting to become a “sanctuary city” for abortion rights, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is considering doing the same for gender-affirming care;
In the Nation
Today, a jury found five anti-abortion activists guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when they deliberately blocked access to a D.C. clinic. The woman who orchestrated the crime, Lauren Handy, made news last year when police found fetuses in her home. (There have been no charges over that very strange fact.) This is good news, but remember that we’re also seeing an increase in FACE charges against pro-choice activists for isolated incidents of graffiti on anti-abortion centers—a move meant to assuage Republicans calling for an end to so-called ‘pro-choice violence’.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville—who has been blocking military promotions and nominations in ‘protest’ over the Pentagon’s abortion policy—now says maybe these candidates just need better vetting anyway. Alabama Today reports that Tuberville said, “This has given me more time to look more closely into the background of some of these nominees, and I have deep concerns about some of them.” Maybe the Alabama Republican is getting worried (as more members of his own party call on him to stop the blocks on promotions) and is looking for a reason beyond abortion to justify his actions…
This is interesting: Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life and all-around nightmare person, is big mad at South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace. Mace came out in support of Nikki Haley’s debate comments on abortion, and has been trying to position herself as a ‘moderate’ on the issue—which doesn’t sit right with the radical Hawkins, who wants to make birth control illegal.
In fact, Hawkins used her recent column railing against Mace to announce that Students for Life will be attacking any Republicans who don’t come out for extremist anti-abortion policies. The group is launching a campaign called “Biden’s Favorite Republicans,” part of an ongoing effort to recruit primary challengers against those who don’t go along with the most radical abortion bans possible.
Finally, I really love this piece from Alanna Vagianos at HuffPost, who spoke to four storytellers from We Testify about their experience self-managing an abortion. First and foremost, it’s more important than ever that we’re hearing directly from patients—but I also really appreciate those sharing positive experiences. So much of what we hear about abortion rights at the moment is horrific denial of care; it’s vital that those horror stories aren’t the only things we’re reading. From Bex, who self-managed their abortion in Colorado:
I want people to know that there is a way to access abortion in the first trimester that’s safe and effective without them having to move their life around and travel across the country and find child care and ask off from work — all of these crazy logistical barriers that people are having to face in order to access care. I wish that they knew that this was an option. I think if a lot of people knew it was an option, then they would consider it.
The Seattle Times on Republicans’ anti-abortion attack on the AIDs funding program, PEPFAR;
I can’t believe we’re still talking about Nikki Haley. Since the GOP presidential debate, the mainstream media and pundits have been absolutely falling all over themselves to compliment Haley on her supposedly-reasonable abortion takes. (A lie that I debunked this weekend.) After polls showed that Haley did well in the debate—especially with women—strategists are saying that voters might be giving the former South Carolina governor another look.
At The Daily Beast, Matt Lewis writes that Haley “staked out a strong position on abortion” by making “the pragmatic case that a federal abortion ban would require 60 votes.” And Vanity Fair writer Mark McKinnon calls Haley “Republicans’ Last, Best Hope for 2024.” He writes that Haley “expressed thoughtful and nuanced opinions” on abortion, citing her totally bizarre talking point about how we can all agree not to kill women who have abortions. (I truly can’t believe how many people found this compelling!)
Given all the hoopla about Haley being so great and different on abortion, political pundits will do well to remember that she is one of the candidates who signed a pledge to ban abortion at 15 weeks. So again, despite well-crafted messaging, the substance of Haley’s beliefs and policies on abortion are no different from the other candidates.
Quick 2024 hits:
USA Today on where anti-abortion groups stand with the candidates;
And Rolling Stone on a Mike Pence-funded group that claims abortion causes breast cancer.
The Care Crisis
We know that the post-Roe crisis in care has been hardest for the most marginalized groups in the country. Today, News21—as part of their “America After Roe” project—takes an in-depth look at abortion access for Native women.
From Lauren van Schilfgaarde, a tribal law specialist at UCLA:
“Roe has never been accessible for Native women. When you add in the rates of violence and the complete gutting of tribal governments’ abilities to respond, you have a real dangerous recipe in which Native women have a lack of reproductive health. Dobbs has exacerbated that.”
From the Hyde Amendment to geographical abortion desserts, the piece looks at how much more difficult care has become to obtain: 2 million Native Americans live in the states with abortion bans. It’s well worth a read.
Keep An Eye On: Conservatives’ obsession with minors
The Heritage Foundation weighed in this week on the Ohio abortion rights ballot measure headed to voters in November, claiming that it will allow minors to get abortion and gender-affirming care without parental permission. That’s been the go-to talking point for anti-abortion groups in Ohio, but I found it pretty rich coming from a group that just recently stopped criticizing teen pregnancy to instead decry the “non-marital teen birth rate.”
As it becomes clearer and clearer that abortion rights are incredibly popular with voters, conservatives are going to be pinning their election hopes on ‘parental rights’ and the notion of protecting children. We’ve seen it happen in places like Idaho, which passed an ‘abortion trafficking’ law that prevents people from taking minors out-of-state for abortion care, and through the constant anti-trans bigotry coming from conservative groups and pundits.
This is what worries me: While this strategy may or may not be effective with voters, we know that it scares Democrats a bit. Lawmakers in places like Oregon, for example, have ‘compromised’ on minors’ reproductive rights—even though we know what happens to young people today happens to everyone tomorrow.
You Love to See It
Okay, this legitimately cracked me up and I needed a laugh so badly. Apparently anti-abortion groups are very upset because Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri is offering free vasectomies on World Vasectomy Day in a mobile clinic that’s been dubbed “The Nutcracker.” The humorless weirdos over at Students for Life told the Christian Post that the mobile clinic and its work is a sign of “Planned Parenthood’s anti-baby bias.” Everything about this is a delight.