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

The Week in Abortion

11.20.23 - 11.24.23

I took two days off for the holiday this week, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a ton recap! Let’s start with the good news, which is that a Wall Street Journal poll showed record-high support for abortion rights:

The majority of voters, 55%, want abortion legal “for any reason.” The poll found that 77% of Democrats believe abortion should be legal for any reason—up from 52% in 2016—and that 53% of Independents believe the same. The most exciting bit of data, though, was that one third of Republicans believe abortion should be legal for any reason. The GOP is already shitting their pants over the polling on abortion, so I can’t imagine they felt great seeing that number—and from the WSJ of all places!

If you want to share those numbers on your socials—and I highly recommend you do!— you can download the above image here. What voters believe other people think about an issue is incredibly important: people care what their friends and neighbors think, and their votes are influenced accordingly.

That means when we get the word out that America overwhelmingly supports abortion rights, it helps to influence votes. And you don’t have to use my image! Pick the numbers you think will resonate with your community most—there are a bunch in this election week column to choose from:

Some other news this week that could change hearts and minds: States with abortion bans are seeing a serious brain drain. This week, The Philadelphia Inquirer looked at polling that showed high school students don’t want to attend college in states with abortion bans. Whether or not a state protects reproductive rights is high on the list for both students and parents: One educational consultant told the Inquirer, “After Ohio voted for abortion protections earlier this month, I had one mother say to me, ‘O.K., Oberlin is back on the list!’”

A Gallup poll from April, for example, showed that almost three-quarters of college students said the abortion laws in their school’s state was important to their decision to stay enrolled, and a NBC poll found that 1 in 3 students would change schools if they were in an anti-choice state.

We’re seeing similar trends around young professionals considering where to move and start their families, as well as—of course—where doctors and other medical professionals want to be.

Anti-Abortion Messaging

“Back to the States”

Onto my favorite topic: the way conservatives are talking about abortion. This week, we saw two major talking points/themes come up. The first was a renewed focus from Republicans on how Dobbs gave abortion “back to the states.” Obviously, the GOP has been using this line for years. But in the wake of voters’ obvious ire, and as Republicans try to make it seem as if they’re not interested in a national ban, the message is taking on new life. It’s also taking on new meaning: “Back to the states” is no longer just about pivoting and distracting from possible federal legislation, it’s about trying to save face.

Republicans have been getting their asses kicked since Roe was overturned, and one way to not seem like such absolute losers is to feign as if this was always part of the plan. Take what Chris Christie said on “Meet the Press” last weekend:

“We’ve seen referenda go on in places like Kansas and Ohio and other places, where voters are getting to express their view on this. That’s the way it always should have been.”

By claiming that the ultimate goal was always giving abortion back to the states, Republicans can say that while they may not like what those state decide on—it’s all part of democracy!

Obviously, it is deeply hypocritical (and infuriating) for Republicans to applaud democracy and states’ rights in a moment when they’re doing everything possible to stop voters in those states from having a say. But that’s what makes this messaging so important to them: They can pretend to give a shit about democracy while they dissemble it.

It also doesn’t hurt that the latest New York Times/Sienna College polling found that when presented two hypotheticals—a Republican who supports a 15-week ban or a Republican who says abortion should be left to the states—voters preferred the latter candidate.

Finally, this renewed messaging also aligns with my prediction about what Donald Trump is going to do next on abortion rights: take credit for pro-choice wins by focusing on Dobbs giving abortion back to the states. I’ll be watching this one closely.

Personal Stories

We know that personal stories sway voters—especially around abortion. The post-Roe horror stories streaming out of anti-choice states, for example, have been devastating for Republicans (as they should be). And in a study looking at what campaign ads worked in this past election, The Washington Post found that personal stories about abortion—juxtaposed with Republicans’ anti-abortion extremism—made the biggest impact.

So it makes sense that Republican presidential candidates are trying to find a way to personalize their anti-abortion beliefs—and convince voters that they have a personal stake in the issue. Nikki Haley, for example, talks about her anti-abortion stance being influenced by her husband being adopted.

This past week, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy decided that they also needed that personal touch. In one of the most disgusting displays I’ve seen in a long time, the two GOP candidates appropriated their wives’ miscarriage stories in defense of their anti-abortion extremism. I cannot begin to tell you how much I hated this. But since DeSantis and Ramaswamy care so much about women who have miscarriages, I wrote a bit about what abortion bans have meant for those who have lost pregnancies:

State Updates

  • Iowa’s medical board is considering some truly horrific guidelines for doctors should the state’s 6-week ban be enacted;

  • Oklahoma’s Attorney General is suing the Department of Health and Human Services after losing millions in federal dollars for family planning services;

  • Forty businesses and business leaders in Texas have filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit brought by women who were denied abortions (Zurwaski v. Texas);

  • Pennsylvania Dems are proposing legislation to protect abortion providers and patients from out-of-state prosecution;

  • A North Dakota poll shows that the majority of voters oppose the state’s abortion ban;

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a watered-down version of the Reproductive Health Act into law;

  • And in Wyoming: the state is about to be left with just one abortion clinic, and a state Supreme Court Justice is retiring just as the Court is set to decide on the state’s two abortion bans.

Ballot Measures & Attacks on Democracy

This week, Abortion, Every Day unsurfaced the anti-abortion movement’s plan to quash Ohio’s new pro-choice amendment in the state constitution: Americans United for Life is advising lawmakers to redefine ‘abortion’ in a way that would make Issue 1 impotent.

Steven Aden, the chief legal officer for AUL—the most powerful anti-choice legal group in the country—told a conservative outlet that “there is opportunity here for Ohio lawmakers to step in and define what the ballot initiative left undefined and to define abortion…very narrowly and to make it clear that we’re not talking about abortion on demand.”

Find out more at my column, but the short version is that Aden wants Ohio Republicans to redefine abortion so narrowly that no actual abortions would be protected in the state constitution.

Also in Ohio: Rep. Jennifer Gross, one of the four Republicans who threatened to strip the judiciary of its power to enforce the pro-choice amendment, is working with Andy Schlafly—son of Phyllis Schlafly—on that legislation. And Attorney General Dave Yost refuses to say whether he’ll try to stop enacting Ohio’s 6-week abortion ban now that Issue 1 has passed.

In better news, the nightmare over Missouri’s ballot measure summary fight seems to be over. This week, the state Supreme Court refused a request from Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft—who wanted them to overrule a lower court that rewrote his incredibly biased and bullshit summary for a proposed pro-choice amendment. This one was a long time coming.

Also in good ballot measure news: Democrats in Virginia are proposing an abortion rights amendment. Naturally, sore loser Gov. Glenn Youngkin had his PAC release a statement claiming that Democrats were “rapidly reneging on a core commitment they made during the campaign to maintain the current abortion law in Virginia.”

Abortion, Every Day is doing work you won’t find anywhere else, but we can’t keep doing it without you! Help AED keep holding Republicans accountable:

Finally, some news out Nevada that I haven’t reported on yet (so I’ll have more on Monday): I’m sorry to say that a judge has rejected a proposal for a pro-choice ballot measure, ruling in favor of an anti-abortion group claiming the amendment would violate the state’s single-subject rule. The Coalition for Parents and Children argued in a suit filed last month that because the amendment prohibits government interference in decisions around abortion, birth control, miscarriage care, and other reproductive health decisions, that the issue can’t just be on one ballot measure.

This is the exact tactic that conservatives tried (and failed) to use in Ohio: they filed a suit seeking to split the amendment into multiple measures based on the idea that abortion was different than the other reproductive decisions that the measure listed, like miscarriage care and fertility treatments.

Nevadans for Reproductive Rights say they’re going to appeal the decision.

In the Nation

  • Over 100 Republican lawmakers signed onto an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to revoke FDA approval of mifepristone;

  • Republican donors are throwing more support Nikki Haley’s way;

  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville peddled conspiracy theories about women in the military having “post-birth” abortions;

  • Mother Jones had more on the If/When/How report showing that when it comes to abortion criminalization, it’s health care providers that are most likely to turn you in;

  • The Daily Beast on the anti-abortion group trying to use leftist-feminist rhetoric to roll back women’s rights;

  • And CNN did a deep dive on newly-elected Republican Speaker Mike Johnson, and found that in addition to calling abortion “truly an American holocaust,” he also blamed abortion for the economy—saying “you don’t have 40 or 50 million able-bodied workers.”

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