Aug 8, 2022 • 15M

Abortion, Every Day (8.8.22)

Nebraska charges teenager with illegal abortion

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Jessica Valenti
Daily audio updates & commentary on abortion in the United States.
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Indiana’s sweeping abortion ban goes into effect on September 15th. The law has some limited—and much-fought over—exceptions, and makes performing the procedure a felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison. If you want to know more about the legal implications of the law, NPR put up a 4-minute segment on the issue and fellow Substacker Chris Geidner gets into the nitty gritty here. Buzzfeed also has a good roundup of quotes and reactions from state politicians on both sides—though fair warning that a few will make you want to punch through a wall. 

One of the biggest employers in Indiana, Eli Lilly, responded to the new ban by saying they will start to grow their business outside of the state: “We are concerned that this law will hinder Lilly’s—and Indiana’s—ability to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world.” Another top employer in the state, engine manufacturing company Cummins, also came out in opposition to the law: “Cummins believes that women should have the right to make reproductive healthcare decisions as a matter of gender equity.”

This is distressing: A Nebraska woman is facing felony charges for helping her teenage daughter obtain an abortion earlier this year. Her daughter, who was 17 years-old at the time and 22 weeks pregnant (abortion is illegal in the state after 20 weeks), is also being charged. She will be tried as an adult. I’m looking to get more details on the case, but a couple of noteworthy items: Law enforcement not only went through the girl’s medical records, but got a warrant for her Facebook messages. That’s where the mother and daughter allegedly talked about how to properly take abortion medication—the prosecutor is also using a message where the teen expressed not wanting to be pregnant as evidence.

In Ohio, reproductive rights activists are pressuring city officials and prosecutors to help protect abortion however they can. Organizer Eden McKissick-Hawley says, “If you’re a Democrat right now and you’re not jumping up and down, trying to show solidarity, trying to do any little thing in this deep moment of crisis, then I do not think you should have your office.” Fair.

Also in Ohio, doctors are also warning that they’ve already seen a decrease in the care they’re able to offer because of abortion legislation. Cleveland-based maternal fetal health physician, Dr. Tani Malhotra, says the exception for a pregnant person’s life doesn’t make clear just how life-threatening an illness has to be in order to legally give someone an abortion: 

“Does it have to be 25%, does it have to be 50%, or does it have to be 100%? And by the time we're waiting for someone to actively be dying in front of us, we've already made their outcomes significantly worse...And we’re saying, 'Okay, I know what I need to do, but wait a second, let me get in touch with a lawyer.' And I can only imagine that at smaller hospitals, access is so much harder and delays in care are so much more significant.”

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The bans in Georgia and Louisiana have left people in the South in an abortion desert; with more legislation on the way in other states, that situation is just going to get worse. (Speaking of Georgia, always listen to Stacey Abrams: Here she talks about how she came to be pro-choice in college.) In the meantime, North Carolina has become a temporary safe haven for people seeking abortions; one provider said in the first weeks of July more than a third of the clinic’s patients were from out-of-state. 

In South Carolina, GOP Congresswoman Nancy Mace says that abortion law needs to “meet somewhere in the middle.” Mace has talked openly about being raped as a teenager, and believes in exceptions for such cases. I’m glad she’s sharing her story and is pointing out that Republicans are going to pay the price for their extremism in future elections, but there is no compromise to be made on a woman’s freedom and personhood. 

Arkansas won’t debate abortion in their special session, instead leaving it for when legislators reconvene in January. That doesn’t mean anything good for the state, however: Arkansas has a trigger law, and Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “I believe that there’s a consensus around the pro-life support that the legislature enacted into law. And so there’s no need to put it on the special session because it’s fixed.”

A nurse at an Illinois clinic describes what her job is like post-Roe in Slate, and how she’s hearing more patients struggling with internalized stigma:

“They’re saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to murder my baby,’ or statements that reference this larger discussion that we’ve all been hearing. It’s really disheartening to hear patients say these things, and it’s also really exhausting...We tell patients: ‘This is your body. Bodily autonomy is important, and also, that’s not something that can be taken away, and it’s not anything to do with laws. It’s your choice. It’s your body.’”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been subpoenaed as part of the state’s ongoing legal battle over abortion; she’ll take the stand next week. For anyone who’s interested, The Detroit Free Press also just published statistics on abortion trends in the state.

You may remember I told you about a city in California that was voting on whether or not to become a ‘pro-life sanctuary’. You’ll be glad—and unsurprised—to know that the city council-member’s proposal fell very flat. Hundreds of people showed up to the San Clemente’s community center to hear the issue debated, and the Mayor called out the move as an attempt to “subjugate women and girls like my daughters into second-class citizens.” 

Other abortion-friendly states are starting to see the fallout from Roe despite their pro-choice laws: With patients traveling from out-of-state into New York, for example, anti-abortion activists have ramped up protesting outside of certain clinics—which has led to pro-choicers counterprotesting and being arrested. We should be prepared to see lots more of these kinds of conflicts in progressive states. Any place that’s a safe haven for abortion will be a target to anti-choicers. 

A Democratic pollster says those on the left should soften their messaging on abortion to focus on ‘health’ rather than autonomy. I say: no thanks! I’m over the calls for being moderate. 

This The New York Times piece about medication abortion is a good model for the kind of information journalists should include when covering the issue: What the medication is and how the pills are taken; links to reputable organizations; and a quote from a doctor making clear that a medication abortion is indistinguishable from a miscarriage (should someone be afraid to seek medical treatment in a state where abortion is illegal). Because it’s not just about being accurate, but ensuring health- and life-saving information is included in any article about abortion. 

ABC News looks at how abortion bans and restrictions will likely force some women to get more complicated and expensive care, and what the future of abortion access might look like in Washington, DC; The New Yorker gets into how Kansas got their pro-choice win and how it might be replicated; and Harvard Business Review examines how abortion restrictions will have a chilling effect on health care innovation.

And while we don’t know what the exact economic impact will be of abortion restrictions, we do know it’s going to be very, very bad. The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) conducted research in 2021 showing state-level abortion restrictions cost the U.S. economy $105 billion per year, and the organization believes that number could double post-Roe

As always, thanks for reading & let me know if I’ve missed anything. Will include updated information this week as I get it. Hope you’re all doing as well as possible. -J

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