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

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The Week in Abortion

1.22.24 - 1.26.24

There’s never a dull moment in abortion rights, and this week was no exception. In addition to some key updates on state legislation and ballot measures, we saw quite a few anti-abortion trends pop up over the last few days—all of which are important be paying attention to. So let’s hop into it!

The GOP’s Crisis Pregnancy Center Plan

On Monday, I told you that the GOP is doubling down on anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers—not just by increasing funding so the groups can lie to pregnant women per usual, but as an investment in multiple projects for 2024 and beyond:

  • Framing funding for crisis pregnancy centers as proof that Republicans “support” women and families;

  • Helping enact the GOP’s anti-birth control plan;

  • Pushing the establishment of ‘maternity’ homes;

  • And using the groups to enact the anti-abortion movement’s plan to pressure and force women to carry doomed pregnancies to term.

Read the full details here:

Attacks on Democracy

As ballot measure efforts ramp up across multiple states for 2024, so do Republican attempts to undermine and dismantle democracy. This week in Missouri, for example, anti-abortion legislators and groups started pushing a plan to make it harder—if not impossible—to pass a pro-choice amendment. They want to require ballot initiatives to not just win a statewide majority—but majorities in five of eight congressional districts. Thanks to GOP gerrymandering, that means amendments would need support in conservative areas in order to win. (For more background on attacks on democracy in Missouri, click here and here.)

While Missouri legislators claim that they want to change the rules to protect the state constitution, Republicans in Mississippi aren’t bothering to hide that everything they’re doing is about abortion. We found out this week that an all-male group of Mississippi Republicans are working to bring ballot measures, but only if voters can’t use them to restore abortion rights. That’s right—they want voters to have a say on everything other than abortion. The House approved their (transparent) resolution this week.

Also in ballot measure news this week, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has finally signed off on the language for a pro-choice ballot measure. That means pro-choice organizers can start collecting signatures; they need over 90k by July 5th in order to get the issue on the November ballot. The Arkansas measure would repeal the state’s total ban, but only protect abortion rights up until 18 weeks—offering less protect than even Roe did. (There’s a terrific piece in Slate about this.)

And in Alabama, Democrats are making a symbolic effort to get abortion rights on the ballot. The measure can’t really go anywhere since it would need to pass the Republican-controlled legislature before going to voters—but it’s a smart idea to remind people in Alabama that the state GOP is trying to prevent them from having a say.

Quick ballot measure updates:

  • A Nevada judge ruled that the abortion rights ballot measure effort can continue, after striking down a challenge from an anti-abortion group.

  • Maryland anti-abortion groups are fighting against a pro-choice ballot measure using the same talking points that lost in Ohio.

  • Speaking of Ohio, Republicans there are proposing legislation to restrict the kind of funding ballot campaigns can use;

  • Karen Middleton, president of the Colorado pro-choice group Cobalt, and Dusti Gurule, president of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), urge voters in The Denver Post to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

  • And in a sign of how abortion rights are popular across the board, more than 200 Republicans have donated to Florida’s pro-choice ballot measure.

Travel Bans

One of the biggest this stories this week at Abortion, Every Day is that two more states have introduced abortion travel bans framed as ‘anti-trafficking’ laws. Republicans in Tennessee and Oklahoma are pushing bills that would charge anyone who helps a teen obtain care with prison time. That means a friend, aunt or grandmother who helps a teenager get an abortion could be sent to prison for 15 years in Tennessee and 5 years in Oklahoma.

As I wrote this week, these laws don’t just criminalize driving a teen out-of-state for care, but doing anything that could be construed as “recruiting, harboring, or transporting” a minor. That could include lending a teenager gas money, or texting them the url of an out-of-state clinic.

That broad interpretation, of course, is the point—it’s also the reason that a judge in Idaho blocked the state’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law, finding that it violated the First Amendment.

And remember, these laws aren’t just meant to scare off a teen’s friends and family from helping her—they’re very much about targeting abortion funds. Republicans want to stop any person or group from helping the most vulnerable people who need it the most. (They’re going after the helpers.)

As tends to be the case with these kinds of laws—the travel ban in Tennessee would also enable abusers, allowing people to take civil action against anyone who breaks the law. It would even allow one parent to sue another: If a Tennessee mom took her daughter out-of-state for an abortion, or got her abortion medication, her ex-husband could harass his family with a lawsuit. We’ve seen how this goes down.

Read AED’s full piece here, but I predict we’re going to see even more of these laws in the coming months. What’s vital to remember is that this isn’t just about teenagers—young people are the canary in the coal mine, and Republicans are going to take the same chipping away approach at our right to travel that they did with abortion rights more broadly.

State Updates

One of the pieces of legislation I followed closely this week was the effort by Wisconsin Republicans to pass a 14-week abortion ban. Gov. Tony Evers has promised to veto the bill, but it’s still important to track because it reveals so much about where the GOP’s head is at with abortion rights.

Read the full background here, but the short version is that the state GOP is running out of options. The court battle over the state’s total abortion ban will almost certainly get to the state Supreme Court—which is now under liberal control, thanks to the election of pro-choice judge Janet Protasiewicz. So Wisconsin Republicans are desperate to get any kind of abortion ban on the books, and to feign giving a shit about letting voters have a say. (They’re pushing the bill as a ‘compromise’ ballot measure.)

Finally, don’t forget that this is legislation that would force doctors to give women c-sections, or have them go in vaginal labor, rather than provide them with an emergency abortion. That mandate is something Abortion, Every Day has been tracking for a while now across multiple states. And it’s just as horrifying as it sounds.

This is important: Iowa Republicans want even less regulation of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. Right now, the law mandates that a nonprofit oversee the groups and their funding, but a new bill that’s being advanced through the legislature would get rid of that third-party and allow the state to send money directly to the religious groups. This is part of the broader plan around crisis pregnancy centers that I wrote about early in the week.

Let’s talk good news and bad news, and get the bad news out of the way first:

While the constitutionality of North Dakota’s abortion ban is still being battled out in the courts, this week a judge denied a request to temporarily block the ban in order to allow doctors to perform emergency, life-saving abortions. Florida Republicans are pushing a new fetal personhood effort that would allow parents to sue for the wrongful death of “an unborn child.” The legislation is sponsored by the same Republicans who sponsored the state’s 15-week and 6-week abortion bans. Oklahoma Republicans also proposed a fetal personhood bill this week. In Texas, the teen birth rate has risen for the first time in fifteen years thanks to the state’s abortion ban, and in Idaho, Republicans want to strip rape and incest ‘exceptions’ from the state’s ban.

In better news: Pennsylvania Democrats announced legislation this week to repeal onerous TRAP laws. The New York Senate passed a measure to protect abortion patients’ privacy and limit tech companies’ ability to sell customer health data. And Minnesota’s equal rights amendment could get an update to include abortion rights.

The ‘Exceptions’ Lie

You know how I feel about so-called abortion ban exceptions: they don’t exist. This week was a good reminder of that.

Take what’s happening with the Iowa medical board’s guidelines for doctors on how to adhere to the state’s (currently-blocked) 6-week ban and its ‘exceptions’. The board requires doctors to interrogate their patients to find out if they’re ‘real’ rape victims—mandating that they make a “good-faith assessment that the woman is being truthful.” It also requires that the attack be “prosecutable” in order for a person to qualify for abortion. (Whatever the fuck that means.)

Doctors who don’t accurately asses if their patients are rape victims could face revocation of their medical license or fines up to $10,000. You can imagine what that means: no victim of sexual violence will be able to get an abortion, because doctors will be too afraid to help.

After all, this is already what we’re seeing in other states: An investigation in Mississippi found that despite the ban’s rape ‘exception’ there isn’t a single doctor in the state willing to give a rape victim an abortion because the risks are far too great.

This is all happening at the same time a new study came out showing that there were an estimated 65,000 rape-related pregnancies in anti-choice states since passing abortion bans. 65,000.

As I wrote this week, this study is going to hit the anti-abortion movement hard: they consistently downplay how many women and girls are raped because they know how horrified voters are over the idea of victims being forced into childbirth. Anti-abortion lawmakers and activists believe that if they pretend rape-related pregnancy—or rape, in general—is rare, they can hide their extremism.

By the way: as predicted, anti-abortion groups and activists are already calling this study into question.


Grace went to the first Biden-Harris rally of 2024 this week, where the president and vice president commemorated the anniversary of Roe. As you know, the re-election campaign is making clear that they’re going to focus heavily on abortion rights—as they should. But the campaign is still taking an old-school safe frame for the message, highlighting “Restore Roe” and “Defend Choice.”

Something I found especially troubling/telling: Grace noted that the word “abortion” wasn’t on any of the signs—and the only posters allowed at the rally were campaign-issued ones.

You know what I’m going to say: We have to move beyond ‘restore Roe’—and there’s never been a better time to do that! Americans are more pro-choice than ever, and only getting more so. People are looking for a proactive plan that moves us forward, not looks back.

Stats & Studies

There are two studies from this week and that I want to make sure to flag. The first is new research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that found an uptick in anxiety and depression after the Dobbs decision. That’s not surprising, of course, but it’s vital that we’re tracking the mental health implications of banning abortion. The researchers report that after the Dobbs decision was leaked, those symptoms of anxiety and depression worsened, and continued to worsen after SCOTUS officially released its ruling.

The second bit of research, presented at the Southern Political Science Association Conference in New Orleans, found that people who don’t understand pregnancy are more likely to oppose abortion. Basically, the more someone knows about pregnancy, the more likely they are to be pro-choice. This particular study is especially important right now, given the final anti-abortion trend I covered this week: anti-choice groups infiltrating classrooms to keep kids ignorant or misinformed about pregnancy and abortion.

Anti-Abortion Propaganda in Schools

At least three states this week—I’m on the lookout for more—are considering legislation that would force middle school children to watch a video from one of the country’s most extremist anti-abortion groups. In fact, Live Action is best-known for their deceptive videos! (Just recently, one of the group’s former leaders lost a multimillion dollar lawsuit over this very thing after targeting Planned Parenthood.)

Republicans in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Iowa have introduced legislation requiring the video in classrooms, claiming that they’re simply trying to teach children proper ‘human development’. North Dakota passed a similar law requiring the same video just last year.

The video is part of a much bigger plan to infiltrate American schools and influence children while they’re young—largely because young people are the most pro-choice demographic in the country. The anti-choice movement knows that they need to change something before their support literally dies out.

Read the full story here:

This Week’s Must-Clicks

A few things you need to check out if you missed them the first time around: Allie Phillips—the young woman running for office in Tennessee after being denied an abortion—was profiled by The Washington Post. The last line of the article is just perfect.

Abortion, Every Day interviewed Pregnancy Justice Senior Staff Attorney Emma Roth about the incredible work the organization is doing on criminalization. Pregnancy Justice has always been ahead of the curve, so make sure to check this one out.

If you haven’t checked out this new abortion rights podcast yet, make sure to remedy that! The A Files: The Secret History of Abortion is out to address the fact that “everything you’ve been taught about abortion is wrong.” It’s terrific.

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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