Abortion, Every Day
Abortion, Every Day
The Week in Abortion
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The Week in Abortion

9.25.23 - 9.29.23
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We’re gonna need it, so let’s start with: The Good News. I have some Legal Updates from the states, where we see Republicans Running Scared. A look at Where Anti-Abortion Dollars Go and the mess that was 2024 this week. Finally, a round up of Anti-Abortion Strategy: Terrorizing Americans


Before we get into what happened this last week in abortion, a bit of news: Idaho doctors can now be prosecuted for providing life- and health-saving abortions in medical emergencies. Not joking. Read the Idaho Capital Sun for more, and I’ll write in-depth about the decision on Monday.

The Good News

Given the news out of Idaho, I figured we should start this week’s recap by talking about the good news over the last few days. I think we could all use it. In Missouri, Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s attempt to trick voters out of supporting a pro-choice ballot measure was dealt a major blow. Ashcroft had drafted a false and inflammatory summary for the amendment, claiming that it would allow for “dangerous, unregulated, and unrestricted abortions, from conception to live birth, without requiring a medical license or potentially being subject to medical malpractice.”

A judge ruled that the language was “problematic,” which is putting it mildly, and rewrote the summaries for six measures. (Missouri pro-choice groups have been moving forward with different versions of the amendment, and haven’t decided which one to go with yet—you can read them here.) The new summaries each begin by asking voters if they want to “establish a right to make decisions about reproductive health care, including abortion and contraceptives, with any government interference of that right presumed invalid.”

Ashcroft, who is running for governor, said he would appeal the decision—but for now, he can fuck off into the sun.

We also saw good news out of Montana, where a judge temporarily blocked a requirement that abortion clinics be licensed with the state health department. The kicker? The license that Republicans wanted clinics to obtain doesn’t even exist yet. The judge ruled that the state can’t punish clinics for not having a license that there’s no way for them to get. That said, there’s still going to be a legal battle over the constitutionality of the requirement itself. The mandate is part of a bigger Republican effort to get around Montana’s constitutional protections for abortion: they haven’t been able to outright ban it, so they’re trying to restrict it to death.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed some fantastic new abortion rights protections into law, including legislation that shields providers from out-of-state prosecution if they prescribe abortion pills to someone in an anti-choice states. (Laws like this are vital right now for the providers who are shipping abortion medication out-of-state.) The law also protects anyone who supports or aids a person in obtaining an abortion, an important addition considering the way that abortion funds are being targeted in places like Texas.

The governor also signed new privacy protections for reproductive health data, and a law that allows doctors from anti-choice states to get abortion training in California without getting a license from the state medical board. As you all know, OBGYN residents in states with bans are having an increasingly difficult time getting training in abortion care—often having to spend their own money for travel and lodging to get to an out-of-state training program. The California law would not only allow residents to come to the state for training, but be compensated for it.

In related care crisis news: New Jersey is considering allowing midwives to perform abortions, and abortion rights advocates in Pennsylvania are trying to end a law mandating that only doctors perform abortions—moves that would help overwhelmed doctors who are being inundated with out-of-state patients.

Finally, the Massachusetts group Reproductive Equity Now is expanding into Connecticut and New Hampshire with the goal of codifying and broadening protections for abortion providers across New England. Love to see it!

Even more good news:

Abortion, Every Day doesn’t just bring you the reproductive rights news you care about, but the context to ensure you understand exactly what’s going on. But the newsletter can’t publish without reader support:

Legal Updates

The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments this week on the state’s blocked 6-week abortion ban. Attorney General Dave Yost is seeking to restore the ban, which would prohibit most abortions in the state. Right now, the Court isn’t deciding the ban’s constitutionality but answering procedural questions—like ruling whether or not abortion providers can bring a challenge on behalf of their patients.

An attorney for the state is arguing that the providers shouldn’t have been able to sue in the first place because they don’t have a “close” enough relationship with their patients to bring a challenge on their behalf. The good news is that the justices did question an attorney from the state relatively aggressively; the bad news is that this is the same court that allowed Ohio Republicans to keep their false and inflammatory ballot summary for the pro-choice measure headed to voters in a few weeks.

Speaking of Ohio’s abortion rights amendment: pro-choice activists said this week it’s fear over that proposal that has prevented Republicans from proposing any new abortion legislation. Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, says “they don't want to tip their hand to voters” about how extremist they are before the election.

Wisconsin anti-abortion groups are pressuring district attorneys in two of the state’s biggest counties to prosecute the abortion providers who started performing abortions last week. Remember, the state’s ban hasn’t been repealed—but after a related positive ruling, Planned Parenthood clinics in the state felt confident enough to resume abortion care last week. Wisconsin Right to Life, Wisconsin Family Action, and Pro-Life Wisconsin demanded that the DAs for Dane and Milwaukee counties go after the providers; luckily, both prosecutors have promised not to target abortion cases.

Also this week, North Carolina abortion providers asked a federal judge to block two parts of the state’s ban: a requirement that abortions after 12 weeks be performed in hospitals, and a mandate that doctors confirm an embryo is visible before prescribing abortion medication. Both requirements are ways for Republicans in the state to increase the number of hurdles involved in getting an abortion before 12 weeks. (Something I wrote about a bit in my May column, “The 12-Week Lie.”) Woo hoo! I got some good news just as I was about to send this out: the judge ruled for the providers, and blocked the mandates!

More state updates:

Republicans Running Scared

I will never tire of this particular trend. Across the country, Republicans are absolutely terrified of abortion rights and are handling themselves accordingly. In Kentucky, Republican gubernatorial candidate Daniel Cameron has been all over the place on abortion lately. Cameron, the state Attorney General, has been under fire by Gov. Andy Beshear for his extremist anti-abortion views—including his support for a ban without rape and incest exceptions and his pledge to criminalize birth control.

Cameron denied that he opposes birth control (despite signed evidence), and has been flip-flopping on the question of rape and incest exceptions. After Beshear put out a powerful ad featuring a young woman who was raped as a child, Cameron claimed that he would support exceptions to the state’s ban. But then when taken to task this week by a supporter who was disappointed in his comments, Cameron said he would only sign a law with exceptions if he was forced to:

“This was about if the courts made us change that law, and they made us add those, then of course I would sign that because I would have to.”

A Beshear campaign representative said, “The reason he twists himself into knots on answers like this is because he knows the vast majority of Kentuckians find his view cruel and dangerous.”

Republicans in Virginia are similarly terrified—especially as Democrats ramp up their attacks about the GOP’s anti-abortion extremism. Republican candidates in the state are big mad over all of the pro-choice mailers that their opponents are sending out, especially those that point out just how radical their anti-choice records are. With Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin pushing for a 15-week abortion ban, the upcoming election has very much become a referendum on abortion.

The same is true in Pennsylvania, where the race for state treasurer has suddenly become about abortion, and where Republican Supreme Court Justice candidate Carolyn Carluccio is trying to run for her anti-abortion views. With abortion rights groups in the state spending records amount of money in the lead-up to elections, Carluccio is out doing the media rounds, claiming that the press has mischaracterized her views.

Where Anti-Abortion Dollars Go

It’s not a surprise that Republicans are funneling money to anti-abortion centers in the most sketchy way possible, but this video of North Carolina Sen. Natasha Marcus talking about state funding to crisis pregnancy centers in the state still managed to shock me. Marcus points out how $20 million is basically completely unregulated, and is being sent to empty parking lots and people’s private homes. Meanwhile, Republicans want to shut down abortion clinics if their hallways aren’t the right width. This one is worth a full watch:

2024

This week we saw Republican presidential candidates ramp up their abortion messaging and then just…completely shut up about it. After Donald Trump criticized Ron DeSantis’ 6-week abortion ban in Florida, DeSantis, the other candidates, and anti-abortion groups went after Trump for not being sufficiently anti-abortion. (Which, as you know, terrifies me because I think it just feeds into Trump’s strategy of trying to seem ‘reasonable’ on the issue.)

DeSantis also seemed to decide that he was going to double down on his anti-abortion extremism, after months of remaining relatively quiet on the issue, depending where he was campaigning. The Florida governor clearly thinks this is his only way of standing out among the pack, especially in terms of distinguishing himself from Trump.

But here’s where it gets frustrating: After days of frenzied op-eds, quotes, and speeches from candidates, pundits and groups—all attacking Trump and coming out in favor of increased abortion bans more generally—Republicans all but ignored the issue at the presidential debate. Candidates were asked just one single question about abortion, and everyone moved on from it as quickly as possible. Not that I expect better from any of them, but it still, somehow, felt insulting.

Anti-Abortion Strategy: Terrorizing Americans

If there was a theme for anti-abortion organizing and action this week, it would be terror. These groups and lawmakers just want to absolutely terrify and terrorize Americans, at any cost, to stop abortion. And over the last few days, nearly all of it came out of Texas.

To start, yet another county in the state is considering passing an anti-abortion ‘trafficking’ ordinance that would criminalize driving from or through the town on the way to out-of-state abortion care. Cochran County would join Mitchell and Goliad counties, which passed similar ordinances. Wendy Davis, advisor at Planned Parenthood Texas Votes and a former state senator, says, “This is an effort, one by one by one, to create a statewide ban against travel to other states, literally creating a reproductive prison in the state of Texas.”

In very much related news, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s looking at building “border barriers” in between the state and New Mexico. As a reminder: 57% of the patients at Planned Parenthood New Mexico are from Texas.

Meanwhile, Texas lawyer Jonathan Mitchell—architect of the state’s bounty hunter mandate—is seeking the names of every employee, donor and patient of abortion funds in the state. That’s thousands of people. The idea is to find people to sue: As you know, Texas law allows anyone in the state bring a civil lawsuit against those who help someone obtain an abortion.

In response, the abortion funds have filed a motion to get a protective order. Anna Rupani, Executive Director, Fund Texas Choice, said, “This desire to obtain private, confidential information is meant to harass and intimidate, but rest assured, we will not stand for it.”

And that’s the rub: This is all about harassing and terrorizing communities. Anti-abortion groups and politicians want to make people too afraid to help each other: too afraid to lend someone money for an abortion, too afraid to drive someone out-of-state, and too afraid to even give someone a url or phone number of where they can get help. It’s a nightmare. But it’s also completely transparent, and makes evident who these people really are.

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