Sep 28 • 13M

Abortion, Every Day (9.28.22)

Free speech orgs respond to U of Idaho's ban on talking about abortion

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Jessica Valenti
Daily audio updates & commentary on abortion in the United States.
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In the states…

Young pro-choice activists in NYC

In response to the University of Idaho banning the college health center from providing students with birth control and telling employees that even talking about abortion could result in being fired or arrested, free speech groups are speaking up. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression sent a letter to University of Idaho’s president, saying that the rule “imposes a viewpoint-discriminatory limitation on academic speech and instruction incompatible with the (university’s) legal obligations under the First Amendment and must by withdrawn.”

You can read the University’s letter here, but this part regarding speech during classroom instruction really stuck out to me:

“Academic freedom is not a defense to violation of law, and faculty…must themselves remain neutral on the topic and cannot conduct or engage in discussions in violation of these prohibitions without risking prosecution.”

This ban on even talking about abortion makes me wonder if college groups in Idaho will even be able to bring speakers or experts onto campus to talk about the issue—probably not, since that mean spending university funds. Which means college students will be barred from hearing pro-choice viewpoints…

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the school’s guidance “extreme and backwards.”

After Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ran scared from being served a subpoena in a lawsuit related to abortion, a judge has ruled he doesn’t have to appear at a hearing in the case. The judge went even further, chastising the server who tried to give Paxton the court document, claiming that he “loitered” at the AG’s home. Hmm. Related: The AG’s office refuses to say whether they’ll go after abortion funds for helping women to get abortions out-of-state.

Also in the state, Texas Monthly looks at something I’ve written a lot about here—Republican efforts to redefine what abortion means (and how it relates to Texas law).

Ohio’s Republican Attorney General Dave Yost refuses to apologize for publicly casting doubt on the story of a 10 year-old rape victim. When the story first broke, Yost went on Fox News, calling the girl’s story a “fabrication” and claiming there was “not a whisper” of evidence. This week, Yost told two separate interviewers that he had nothing to be sorry about, because at the time he made the comments there was no arrest: “I don’t understand what you think I need to apologize for.” 

Looks like Yost’s Democratic opponent Jeff Crossman doesn’t have any plans to let it go, however:

An Indiana judge has ruled that a law requiring doctors to bury or cremate fetal remains is unconstitutional because it infringers on people’s religious beliefs; South Carolina won’t be pass a stricter abortion law despite efforts from the most extreme Republicans in the state; and lawyers for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds are still trying to convince the courts that the state’s blocked 6-week abortion ban is constitutional.

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell, who represents Arizona’s largest county, said her office won’t prosecute women who have abortions. What I’d really like to hear is that she won’t prosecute abortion providers.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a package of abortion-rights protections yesterday, including bills to strengthen privacy protections, creating funding for low-income women, and legislation to stop abortion providers and patients from being sued or prosecuted.

Here’s some good news: Carafem, the health group that provides medication abortion via telehealth, has expanded to Minnesota.

In Pennsylvania, women furious about abortion rights rallied for U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman this week. Here’s what 71 year-old Kate Campbell said:

“We did not fight for our granddaughters to not have the same rights that we did. Abortion is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of denying women and other people their rights. If they are able to take that right, what is the next right?”

Connecticut’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski claimed his opponent is lying about his position on abortion, and that he would protect women’s right to choose. Gov. Ned Lamont shut him down when he reminded voters that Stefanowski makes political contributions to anti-abortion candidates and already supports a parental notification law in the state.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Maryland are planning on creating protections for abortion providers as they give care to patients from states where abortion is illegal.

Really appreciated this from Illinois Rep. Sean Casten, who spoke at Planned Parenthood this week to talk about the future that Republicans want:

“You have different rights as a woman in Illinois than you do as a woman in Missouri. And I didn't say as a resident of Illinois, I'm saying as a woman who is in Illinois. Because if you are out of state for your job, or you're going to college somewhere else, maybe you're in the military, and you're deployed to another state, you have fewer rights. How are we possibly Americans if we say that your rights vary depending on where you are.”

In the nation…

A new poll shows that 69% of Americans believe that abortion up until the 15th week of pregnancy should be a guaranteed right.

The New York Times has a really good data piece on how much abortion costs, looking at three different patients and their stories.

Image via the NYT

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will introduce an amendment to the 2023 defense authorization bill today that allocates leave time and funding for troops who need to travel out-of-state for an abortion. Defense One reports that U.S.-based service members would get 10 days, and anyone having to travel more than 50 miles from their base could money for transportation expenses.

The American woman who was denied a life-saving abortion in Malta—and who eventually needed to be airlifted out by her insurance company—is suing the country. Jezebel reports that the lawsuit—challenging a country’s abortion ban on the basis of violating human rights— is the first of its kind.

The New York Times looks at how abortion is impacting suburban races; some more info on the states where abortion will be on the ballot for the midterms; the Daily Beast tracks more Republican candidates who are erasing any mention of abortion on their campaign websites; the Ohio Capital Journal on how activists are using state constitutions to fight for abortion rights; and the Chicago Reader on anti-choicer’s new strategy: claiming abortion is ‘ageism’.

And director Karyn Kusama (of Girlfight and Jennifer’s Body fame) created this terrific ad for Planned parenthood:

You love to see it…

Comedian Jena Friedman taped her most recent special just three weeks after Roe was overturned—I feel like I need feminist comedy on this right now. Excited to watch.

Actresses Martha Plimpton and Ariana DeBose are co-hosting a benefit concert for abortion rights, Broadway Acts for Abortion this Sunday in NYC. The line-up looks great.

Speaking of New York, activists there (here!) protested outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral as it hosted the ‘40 Days for Life’ kick-off. They called it an abortion carnival and this description makes me want to be friends with everyone there:

“[Caitlin] McKoy showed her dissatisfaction with the religious establishment by dressing as the pope, carrying a large cross and a sign while others also dressed up with shirts and posters reading, ‘I will aid and abet abortion.’”

I’ll leave you with Harry Styles giving abortion rights a shout out at a Texas concert this week:

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