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

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The Week in Abortion

2.5.24 - 2.9.24

Men Being the Worst, Saying the Worst

I tried to think of a less offensive way to title this section, but it just wasn’t possible: this is exactly what happened this week. Let’s start with Missouri, where a Republican claimed Democrats want 1 year-olds to have abortions. Sigh.

The comment came after Democratic Sen. Doug Beck introduced an amendment that would allow victims 12 years-old and under to have abortions. Republican Sen. Bill Eigel—who is running for governor—opposed the effort, saying this:

“You want to bring back the institution of abortion so that kids can get abortions in the state of Missouri. A 1-year-old could get an abortion under this.”

I know I’ve written about this comment a few times this week, but I simply cannot get over it. A man who thinks it’s possible for an infant to have an abortion gets to make laws about our bodies. I continue to be baffled as to why this story isn’t everywhere, but I ranted about it some more on TikTok.

Our second man being and saying the worst comes is Oklahoma Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm—who said the quiet part out loud when interviewed about his abortion travel ban.

For months, I’ve been warning that these bans wouldn’t just criminalize an aunt taking her teenage niece out-of-state for an abortion; they’d also make it illegal to lend a teenager gas money, or give them the url to a clinic website.

That’s why I was so glad to see a local media outlet a outlet pick up on those specific points, and ask Dahm about them directly. Here’s what’s incredible, though: He didn’t bother denying any of it!

“If they did it knowingly that they would be circumventing the parents and committing a crime. It’s no different than if you gave somebody gas money for them to be the getaway driver for committing some other crime or something else like that. You’re becoming an accessory in the violation of a crime.”

Men like this know what they’re saying is radically out-of-step with voters and they do not care. They are willing to do anything to ban abortion and punish anyone who gets in their way.

Anti-Abortion Strategy Roundup

Let’s start with an easy strategy (in so much as it’s failing miserably): Personal stories. With post-Roe horror stories from women like Kate Cox and Brittany Watts motivating voters, the anti-abortion movement decided they need personal stories of their own.

This week, we saw them pushing out stories by women who say they were harmed by abortion medication (which makes sense given how conservatives are targeting mifepristone). One came from a seasoned anti-abortion activist posing as an everyday woman sharing her experience; another was culled from a crisis pregnancy center that convinced a woman to go through with her pregnancy.

The most depressing, though, was a story claiming that a young Alabama woman was happy to be forced into childbirth. She wasn’t able to get an abortion because of the state ban and the prohibitive cost of traveling elsewhere, but Fox News’ headline promises, “she’s so glad she kept her baby.”

Not exactly compelling stuff—these experiences certainly don’t inspire the same urgency or outrage that stories like Cox’s and Watts’ do. But paying attention to what kind of personal anecdotes the anti-abortion movement pushes out is important—it gives us a better sense of what they’re most eager to attack or defend.

Also this week, I flagged bills out of West Virginia and South Dakota that are exactly the kind of legislation I warned about in “Calculated Cruelty”. (My investigation into the anti-abortion movement’s quiet campaign to pressure and force women to carry nonviable pregnancies to term.)

Both bills purport to create resources for women who’ve been given devastating diagnoses—providing them with the information they need to make a decision about abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities. In practice, however, they’d force doctors to give women false and misleading information about their pregnancies, and trick women who have just been given the worst news of their life into being “counseled” by anti-abortion activists. Read the details here.

We can expect to see lots more legislation like this—bills that are going to be hard to pick out from the crowd if you don’t know what to look for. It’s vital that we’re letting Democratic legislators know what kind of keywords and policies to look out for.

The last anti-abortion tactic I clocked is a possible new way to attack ballot measures. The full story is here, but the short version is that Republicans might start using the same voter suppression tactics against ballot measures that they’ve being employing against Black voters. The thought came to me after I saw the news that two people in Florida were arrested for allegedly submitting “invalid” ballot signatures.

One of Republicans’ biggest problems is how popular abortion rights are—but what if they claimed that there was voter fraud, and that citizens didn’t really support these amendments? In the same way Gov. Ron DeSantis’ election police arrested Black people for the ‘crimes’ of filling out two voter registration forms after moving, for example, they could target pro-choice activists for filling out petitions incorrectly.

Ballot Measure Updates

Let’s start with Florida, where Republicans argued to the state Supreme Court that a pro-choice amendment’s language on ‘viability’ was deliberately misleading. I wrote a full background piece here, but the short version is that it’s unclear which way the Justices will land.

The judges implied that they didn’t think the proposed amendment was as confusing as the state attorney was making it out to be, but several justices also suggested that it wasn’t clear that the language of the amendment was about protecting abortion rights. As I laid out earlier this week, the broader concern is that Gov. Ron DeSantis-stacked Court is pretty anti-choice.

Something to remember: This is an incredibly popular ballot measure, so it makes sense that Republicans are desperate to stop it.

Meanwhile, Missouri abortion rights activists kicked off their ballot measure initiative this week with a rally in St. Louis. Mallory Schwarz with Abortion Action says, “There’s not that much time, but I have never seen Missourians mobilize like I have in the past two weeks.”

Petitioners are going to have to keep an eye out for anti-choice activists, though: Missouri Right to Life is encouraging their followers to call a special hotline and report the exact locations of pro-choice signature-gatherers. Basically, anti-choice activists want to find out where people are collecting signatures so they run down there to harass them and anyone who might approach to sign. That’s how afraid they are of letting voters have a say.

Finally, in South Dakota—where Republicans have been trying to intimidate the activist heading the pro-choice ballot measure campaign—lawmakers declared their opposition to the proposed amendment. They introduced a resolution that claims restoring abortion rights would “severely restrict any future enactment of protections for a pregnant woman, her child, and her healthcare providers.” Sure, whatever lets you sleep at night.

Fetal Heartbeat Lawsuit

One of the biggest pieces of state news this week came out of South Carolina, where a woman is suing the state in an attempt to clarify the definition of ‘fetal heartbeat’. Right now, the state ‘heartbeat’ ban prevents doctors from providing abortions after about 6 weeks—even though there isn’t a heart, let alone a heartbeat, that early in pregnancy.

Taylor Shelton, who was just a few days past her 6th week of pregnancy when she was denied an abortion, brought the suit with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. The group also sued late last year over the definition of ‘fetal heartbeat’, asking the state Supreme Court to allow abortion until the 9th week of pregnancy. (That’s when most of the primary parts of the eventual heart have formed.)

You can read the full breakdown of why this case is so important here, but these are the two most important things to know:

  • Shelton’s suit proves that someone can do all the “right” things Republicans claimed women can do in order to get an abortion before 6-weeks, yet still was unable to get care. It throws a wrench in their entire bullshit argument.

  • While the suit is taking an incremental approach—the hope is to get abortion legalized up until 9 weeks—a representative from Planned Parenthood South Atlantic made this vital point last year: The difference between a 6-week ban and a 9-week ban is the difference between doctors turning away half of their patients or 90% of them.

State News

In Florida, Republicans are proposing anti-abortion bills that wouldn’t just ban abortion entirely and enshrine fetal personhood, but would incentivize communities turning on each other. (If you haven’t read my column on anti-abortion snitch culture, it’s a good time to do so!)

Republicans in Tennessee also killed a bill that would have allowed abortion in cases of rape, incest, and physical and mental health emergencies.

In Texas, a man was sentenced to 6 months in jail for drugging his wife’s drinks with abortion medication multiple times. If she had willingly sought out an abortion, her doctor would face life in prison—but somehow when it’s about domestic and reproductive abuse, Texas isn’t that concerned.

In the same week that abortion providers pleaded with Illinois legislators to increase protections for clinics and abortion providers, the man convicted of crashing his car into a Danville clinic and attempting to set it on fire was sentenced this week to five years in prison.

An Oklahoma Republican has filed a bill that would charge women who have abortions with murder. There would be no exceptions other than the pregnant person’s life.

In better news…

Virginia lawmakers voted down a near total abortion ban this week—a good reminder of why November’s election was so important. Michigan abortion rights activists are suing the state over some remaining anti-choice laws, including a 24-hour waiting period. And a new Texas PAC seeking to oust three anti-abortion justices from the state Supreme Court put out an incredible ad.


I hate that we have to think about November, but that’s just reality. Sigh. We got new a new study this week from Data for Progress showing that most voters don’t see Donald Trump as a threat to abortion rights.

While 64% of likely voters say they’re somewhat or very concerned about more restrictions on abortion rights, only 48% believe Trump will try to pass a national abortion ban.

This gets into something I’ve been warning about since November: I don’t think the issue is that voters believe Trump’s attempts to seem more ‘moderate’ on abortion rights. The problem is that too many voters think that Trump doesn’t care enough about abortion to further restrict it. They’re half right. Moira Donegan got it right on the nose:

“There’s a disconnect this election where the candidates’ personal opinions are almost the opposite of their political positions. Biden’s policies are tepidly pro-choice; personally, he hates abortion. Trump’s policies are sadistically anti-choice; personally, he doesn’t give a shit.”

Now, Trump not giving a shit doesn’t mean anything in practice: if elected, he’s going to give the anti-abortion movement everything they want, and will absolutely pass a backdoor national ban. And if you had any questions about just how closely Trump is working with the anti-abortion movement, consider that the lawyer representing him before the Supreme Court right now is Jonathan Mitchell—the architect of Texas’ extreme vigilante mandate, and guy leading the revival of the Comstock Act.

What this all means us that the Biden-Harris campaign needs to do more than tie Trump to post-Dobbs horror stories—they need to make clear just how much worse things could get.

And, please—for the love of all things good in the world—the campaign needs to get Biden to stop saying mindless shit about abortion. As you know by now, the president made a comment about ‘abortion on demand’—the second time he’s done so in the last few weeks. (Renee Bracey Sherman has a terrific thread on the history of the phrase that’s a must-read.)

As I wrote this week, this isn’t just an issue with Biden, though—but the ‘restore Roe’ framework. A campaign framed around the idea that government should be involved in pregnancy gives credence to the idea that some abortions are ‘good’ and others are ‘bad’.

Good News of the Week

Let’s end with some of the good news we got over the last few days: and it’s a big one! Two anti-abortion studies being used to challenge the FDA’s approval of mifepristone were retracted by their publisher.

These are the studies that Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk cited in his anti-abortion ruling, which claimed mifepristone is dangerous. That decision was later reaffirmed by the 5th Circuit, and is now heading to the Supreme Court. So you can see why this is such a huge blow to the anti-abortion movement.

An independent reviewer and two subject matter experts report that the studies were “misleading,” “incorrect,” contained “material errors,” and that they “demonstrate a lack of scientific rigor and invalidate the authors’ conclusions in whole or in part.”

Sage Publications also writes that study authors had major undeclared conflicts of interests: nearly all of the so-called researchers are affiliated with anti-abortion groups, and one of them is even the vice president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. What’s more, the peer reviewer who evaluated the article was also affiliated with Charlotte Lozier Institute. (Read here about just how extreme some of these affiliated groups really are.)

We don’t know yet what the retraction will mean for the mifepristone case heading to the Supreme Court, but it’s so important that the bad ‘science’ coming from the anti-abortion movement is debunked. As Abortion, Every Day has flagged again and again—the anti-abortion movement is desperate to seem scientifically and medically credible. We need to ensure that never, ever happens.

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Jessica Valenti