Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day (9.22.22)

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Abortion, Every Day (9.22.22)

Children and cancer patients denied abortions in Ohio

Content warning: Today’s newsletter contains a video about traumatic pregnancy loss.

In the states…

Chelsea Stovall is a mother of two in Arkansas who was looking forward to having her third child. At 19 weeks, she and her husband found out that the daughter they had named Winter was developing without a diaphragm, and that “her stomach and intestines or organs had been strangling her heart and they'd been compressing the lungs.” Her doctor told her the baby wouldn’t survive. Instead of being able to get the compassionate care she needed at home, Chelsea had to travel 400 miles to have her abortion.

She says, “Our baby was wanted and loved…[S]he wasn't going to make it but I should be able to say goodbye to her where I want to. I should have my doctor who delivered my other two babies, be able to deliver my third baby.” Chelsea doesn’t think she’ll have more children: “Because I know once I get pregnant, I stop mattering.”

Another brutal story (I’m sorry): You may remember Tara George in Ohio, who had what she called a “never-ending nightmare” trying to find abortion care after her fetus was given a devastating diagnosis. CNN has an interview with her doctor, who tried to help Tara find an abortion after a hospital lawyer directed her not to end the pregnancy. But that’s not why I wanted to flag this piece. I wanted you to see how ‘pro-life’ anti-abortion activists really are—how much compassion and care they really have for pregnant women: A spokesperson for Ohio Right to Life, Elizabeth Whitmarsh (who you can contact at  614-547-0099 ext. 304), said “The answer to the child's suffering is never to purposely kill it. We do not kill human beings simply because of a malady they have…It is inhumane to treat an unborn child as though they are a pet to 'put down' due to an illness.” I hope this woman has the life she deserves.

More awfulness out of Ohio: The story of a raped and impregnated 10 year-old who had to leave the state for an abortion went viral this summer, but according to sworn affidavits from abortion providers, at least two other raped children were forced to leave the state. The affidavits also reveal more than two dozen other instances where the state ban had a traumatic impact on women—including two cancer patients who were denied abortions. According to a doctor, when one 37 year-old woman with stage 3 melanoma was told she’d have to leave the state to end her pregnancy, “she broke down and cried inconsolably despite the attempts of multiple staff members, including myself, to console her.” This is ‘pro-life’?

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After that, I think we could use some good news—no matter how small: A judge in Indiana has blocked the state ban. Special Judge Kelsey Hanlon wrote in her decision that that the Indiana constitution includes a right to liberty and bodily autonomy, which includes “whether to carry a pregnancy to term.” And in Michigan, 64% of respondents in a recent state survey say they plan to vote for the ballot measure that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

You may remember the Tennessee lawyer who raised the alarm about the “affirmative defense” targeting doctors in the state abortion ban. Well, she’s quit her job to fight it full-time, creating Standing Together—a nonprofit legal resource organization dedicated to helping providers, patients and lawyers. Hero.

Meanwhile, Idaho is trying to convince a judge to reconsider his decision blocking part of the state’s abortion law (the one that says they need to give emergency abortions to women who would die without them).

Pennsylvania Public Media has a segment on the increase of men and women seeking permanent birth control procedures since Roe was overturned. Researcher and professor, Dr. Laura Lindberg, calls this increase in sterilizations a “constrained choice.”

“I don’t think this is the perfect choice for everyone. It’s being made against other options being taken away. [S]terilization is a valid and valuable choice, but shouldn’t be made because it’s the only choice that people feel that they have.”

(Something similar is happening in Kentucky, where abortion is illegal.)

Republicans in Utah are still facing backlash over sending abortion providers threatening “cease and desist” letters. Lawmakers also sent a letter to the Utah Abortion Fund (who you should donate to right now) for what they said was “aiding and abetting” abortion.

Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, Blake Masters, continues to be a lying piece of shit about his position on abortion.

And don’t forget to call your friends in Texas: Greg Abbott has a widening lead against Beto O’Rourke in the race for governor, though I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Also in Texas, anti-abortion groups are raising a fuss at Texas A&M after the Medical Students for Choice chapter there held a zoom event on self-managed abortion—they’re claiming the group was promoting “illegal drugs.” (They also seem to be super obsessed with the fact that the speaker was pregnant—as if you can’t be a mom and be pro-choice??) I’m trying to find out the best way to support the students/organization who held the event; if anyone has any connections, let me know!

GOTV organizers in Indiana are working to get college students to the polls—and reminding them that they’re not temporary residents, but permanent ones. Wolfe Bender, a member of Indiana University’s student government, says, “Bloomington is their home for the next four years. Their daily life is really affected by the policies that we see enacted at the local city, county and state level.”

Some South Carolina Republicans will not vote in favor of the state’s abortion ban—because it’s not strict enough. Rep. Ashley Trantham and Rep. Melissa Oremus, along with 12 male colleagues, apparently take issue with the exceptions for rape and incest: “Permitting the murder of a living being based on on situations that virtually never occur is unacceptable to us.” Well fuck you, too.

In the nation…

Sen. Elizabeth Warren continues to be the best: Along with 24 other Democratic members of Congress, Sen. Warren sent letters to the CEOs of Amazon, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub to pressure them on ensuring that gig workers get employee benefits—including abortion care.

And Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough says that medical professionals who perform abortions in VA hospitals and clinics—even in states where abortion is banned—will be immune from prosecution and civil penalties. Small victories.

Really important piece from Jezebel: NARAL Pro-Choice America found that the top-performing videos about abortion on YouTube frequently contain anti-abortion propaganda and medical misinformation. You can read NARAL’s report here, and I would love to know if anyone has any info on groups who are fighting back against this on video platforms…

Another one for the ‘no shit’ files: States with abortion access have less of a gender pay gap.

A new study from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California found 1 in 3 people seeking an abortion would consider having a self-managed abortion if they couldn’t get a doctor to give them the procedure.

In one of the more depressing op-eds I’ve read in a while, medical students at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, and their OBGYN professors, suggest one way that people horrified by abortion bans can help: Donate blood. From their column:

“As abortion access becomes increasingly sparse, doctors expect an uptick in patients with life-threatening bleeding when treating pregnancy-related complications such as ectopic pregnancy. As many people face traveling long distances to receive the care they need and providers in states where abortion is still legal become increasingly busy, we will likely see an increase in self-induced abortions without the trained help of medical providers. These procedures may increase preventable complications including excess bleeding, which would require utilizing supplies of donated blood that are already in high demand.”

Something to keep an eye on: The TikTok explosion of videos touting ‘natural’ birth control methods and disparaging anything hormonal has an unsurprising link to the anti-abortion movement. What’s worst is that they’re co-opting feminist language and playing on people’s real fear and experiences with medical sexism to push a regressive narrative about birth control. Gross.

One good thing about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s national ban is that it seems to be exploding directly in his face: Strategists think the move has cost Republicans, and they don’t seem too happy about it.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sent a letter to the White House today about the proposed national ban, noting the “arbitrary gestational age limit” which is “not grounded in science and medical evidence.” The letter also pointed out that under such a ban, doctors wouldn’t have adequate training and that women’s lives would be at risk, “further exacerbating the worsening maternal mortality crisis, within which 80% of deaths are preventable.”

And an expert on European law and a director at the Europe Center for Reproductive Rights writes at the The Washington Post that Sen. Graham’s abortion ban—despite his claims—look nothing like European abortion law. She points out all the various ways his bullshit is wrong, but this is the kicker: “The fact is that most European countries are moving to expand access to abortion, not limit it.”

Some reading: Bloomberg Law has a column on how your private data will be used against you in a post-Roe world; TalkingPointsMemo caught a glimpse of the leaked House GOP Platform, which includes extreme anti-abortion language; Teen Vogue on why the abortion movement needs to listen to Black women; Axios has a rundown of the states where abortion is on the ballot in the midterms; and in the Los Angeles Times, columnist LZ Granderson writes about abortion bans and “the laws of fathers being forced upon daughters, including their own.”

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Abortion, Every Day
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Daily audio updates & commentary on abortion in the United States.
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Jessica Valenti