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Lakeesha Harris, director of reproductive health and justice at Women With a Vision, said Louisiana’s dozens of abortion restrictions have made abortion a right in name only for many Black residents.
 Shutterstock/RNG illustration

A year out from a big abortion rights win at the Supreme Court, advocates worry the Court is about to take it all away with a case out of Mississippi.

It took a full day for Elizabeth Gelvin to process the news.

Less than a year after the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana abortion law as unconstitutional, the Court agreed to hear a case involving a 2018 Mississippi law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks, right around the start of the second trimester and well before a fetus is viable outside the womb. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenges the central holding of Roe v. Wade by asking whether all pre-viability abortion bans are unconstitutional. And unlike last year, the Court now has a 6-3 conservative supermajority.

If the Supreme Court upholds the law, Louisiana’s own 15-week ban—which is tied to the outcome of the Mississippi law—could go into effect, slicing off five weeks of access in the state. Louisiana also has a “trigger law” that would ban abortion outright if Roe is overturned.

Gelvin is the client and community coordinator for the New Orleans Abortion Fund, which supports people getting care across Louisiana and, increasingly, out of state. For her, the Court’s announcement was momentous, even though a post-Roe reality is already here for many of her clients.

“The Mississippi case is terrifying, it’s stomach-churning—but right now in real time, we already have folks that cannot access care,” she said. “The future is scary, and so is the present.”

Louisiana has only three clinics left and already bans abortions after 20 weeks. A directive from the state department of health at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily closed two clinics in April 2020, and capacity limits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an influx of patients from Texas led to increased wait times. The New Orleans Abortion Fund had to help more people cross state lines than ever before.

There are many reasons why people have abortions after 15 weeks, including needing to get money together for the procedure plus travel and child care, not realizing they’re pregnant until later, or learning about health issues with the fetus or pregnant person.

If the Supreme Court upholds the 15-week ban (hearings will likely be in the fall, with a decision next June), even more people will have to travel out of state, widening the gap in what’s already a two-tiered system of abortion access in the United States. Families with money will always be able to get care, said Kathaleen Pittman, director of Hope Medical Group for Women, an abortion clinic in Shreveport that provides care up to 16 weeks and 6 days into pregnancy. (Louisiana’s two other clinics go to 20 weeks, Gelvin said.)

Families living on low incomes will have fewer options, and many of Hope Medical’s patients already cite money as a top reason why they’re seeking abortion: They just can’t afford a child—and many of them already have kids.

“Systemic poverty is going to continue,” said Pittman, whose clinic was the plaintiff in last year’s abortion rights victory at the Supreme Court, June Medical Services v. Russo. “It’s an absolute slap in the face to the families we serve. But what can I say, that’s the way it’s always been and apparently the legislators are comfortable with perpetuating this.”

Lakeesha Harris, director of reproductive health and justice at Women With a Vision, said Louisiana’s dozens of abortion restrictions have made abortion a right in name only for many Black residents.

“We know that as a Black, queer-led organization, these laws directly impact the most marginalized here in Louisiana—and that’s Black people, Black women, Black trans men who may need an abortion,” Harris said.

Abortion restrictions are part of a broader system of oppression alongside recent anti-transgender bills and the lack of state action on raising the minimum wage, which together limit people’s bodily autonomy, Harris said.

“It’s not just an abortion issue. We can’t look at this from a singular lens. This is an attack on every aspect of our bodies,” she said. “Yes, it’s a chipping away, bit by bit, at Roe v. Wade, but also in addition to all of the other laws that chip away at our rights and access as Black people, as queer people, as trans people, it confines [us] to a system that is set to oppress who we are as a whole.”

Harris said this playbook isn’t limited to the South, citing recent bills out of states like Pennsylvania. “The whole nation should be on alert. This isn’t just a Southern strategy.”

The Hope clinic already works with at least five abortion funds to help their patients address costs, and the need for financial assistance would only increase with a 15-week ban. Pittman underscored that if a patient has to fly, they’d be booking their travel at the last minute, when prices are often higher.

“It’s a struggle to help take care of the people locally, not to mention sending them to God knows where,” Pittman said. “There are never enough resources. We would have to work even harder to get women where they needed to be. We’ve been putting out pleas to everybody. It makes my head hurt thinking about it.”

The pandemic has been a learning exercise for a post-Roe future. Before COVID-19, the New Orleans Abortion Fund mostly offered financial help, but then it evolved into an “abortion travel agency” out of necessity, Gelvin said. “Supporting folks in getting care in Texas and Florida has been increasingly the norm,” she said.

Florida is the only state in the Southeast that would have abortion protections if Roe v. Wade falls, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The next closest state for many would be Illinois, hundreds of miles away; the New Orleans Abortion Fund also helped people travel there during the pandemic. Clinics in these states may become overwhelmed.

Traveling to Florida for an abortion is “scary and sad and already a lived reality,” Gelvin said. “It may be more realistic, both logistically and financially, to support people to take a flight to South Florida to access their care there than elsewhere.”

Harris said she’s already made connections with reproductive groups in Illinois in the event of an unfavorable Supreme Court decision. The national reproductive justice umbrella organization, In Our Own Voice, is making plans and gathering resources to help more people travel in preparation for the future, she said.

If abortion becomes restricted beyond a 15-week ban in Louisiana, neither the New Orleans Abortion Fund nor Women With a Vision plans to direct people to information on self-managed abortion with pills because of the legal risk involved. Louisiana is one of 19 states that bans telemedicine for abortion pills.

“From a harm-reduction standpoint, and not wanting to get more Black and brown people locked up, or people locked up period, our challenge then is to see how we can assist with transporting people to friendlier states,” Harris said, noting that undocumented people crossing state lines could face additional challenges.

Women With a Vision will continue distributing condoms and emergency contraception in partnership with ReJAC, New Orleans’ Reproductive Justice Action Collective, Harris said. Her organization also offers sex ed classes and distributes a contraceptive guide that uses inclusive language in both English and Spanish.

Arguments in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, haven’t been scheduled, but as the country braces for the Supreme Court’s decision, one thing is clear: Local reproductive rights and justice groups will need more money to help people continue to get abortions.

“The reality for abortion funds, especially those in heavily restricted states, is that the need has always outpaced what is available, even in moments of great attention and greater windfall,” Gelvin said.

Gelvin said that applies to abortion funds like New Orleans Abortion Fund, as well as practical support groups that offer assistance like coordinating and funding travel, lodging, and child care. She noted that money people may have for their procedure isn’t worth much if they can’t afford to get to the clinic. Groups in the Southeast that do this work include ARC Southeast, Yellowhammer Fund, Fund Texas Choice, Clinic Access Support Network, Tampa Bay Abortion Fund, and Florida Access Network, Gelvin said. There’s also the Midwest Access Coalition and the Brigid Alliance, which specializes in support for later abortion patients.

Gelvin recommended donating directly to your local abortion fund or support group, giving monthly if you can, organizing fundraisers, and donating your time if money is tight. But keep paying attention, especially as states like Louisiana prepare for another hurricane season that can disrupt people’s reproductive care.

“I would just hope that people continue to pay attention and stay activated and organized throughout all of this long year that we have ahead, before we have some sort of outcome from the Court,” she said.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/06/15/will-louisiana-be-the-first-post-roe-domino-to-fall/

After spending nine years wrongfully detained, Sara Rogel returned home and now begins the long process of rebuilding her life.
 Marvin Recinos/AFP/Via Getty Images

Banning abortion leads only to despair. And yet the Court could soon push legal abortion even more out of reach with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

A Salvadoran woman who was imprisoned after an obstetric emergency that caused the loss of her pregnancy was granted parole last week by the sentencing court of Cojutepeque in El Salvador. After spending nine years wrongfully detained, Sara Rogel returned home and now begins the long process of rebuilding her life.

Sara’s story is important in its own right. But it’s also critical in demonstrating to U.S. politicians and the Supreme Court what banning abortion causes: Every person with a pregnancy loss will be under suspicion, police will be invited to intervene in intimate reproductive health-care outcomes, and innocent people will end up in jail. We can and must heed the lessons from Sara’s story and reject attempts to ban abortion.

We met Sara not long ago in El Salvador with a delegation of U.S. state lawmakers to try to better understand how banning abortion devastates families and communities. A recent announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it will be considering a case out of Mississippi should strike fear into our hearts, as the Court’s ruling could alter the nearly 50-year foundation of legal abortion in the United States.

Despite the fact that not a single state’s population supports banning abortion, we’re in the midst of an avalanche of state-level abortion bans and restrictions—more than 500 introduced this year alone—which has made much of the promise of Roe v. Wade nearly hollow for many people seeking abortion care. And yet the outcome of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could push legal abortion even more out of reach.

This spring’s chaotic flurry of bans and restrictions on abortion portends danger.

In Texas, a new law will prohibit abortion as early as six weeks if it takes effect—banning abortion even before some people know they are pregnant—and opens the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers or anyone else involved in the procedure. ArkansasArizonaIdahoMontanaOklahoma? Abortion ban after abortion ban. These state lawmakers claim to care about women and children, but we only need to look around us, in the United States and beyond, to see that the criminalization of our reproductive decisions has devastating consequences.

El Salvador has one of the most extreme abortion bans in the world. Women are forced to ask courts for permission to receive medical care, oftentimes when on the brink of death. This is what happened to Beatriz, whose pregnancy was diagnosed with a fatal fetal anomaly. Her case received international attention after the Salvadoran court refused to allow doctors to end the pregnancy, even though Beatriz faced grave fatal health risks. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights eventually intervened to allow Beatriz the care she needed. In the case of 22-year-old Keyla Cáceres, doctors diagnosed her with an ectopic pregnancy but refused to perform an abortion. They waited until her ovaries exploded and her life was on the line before finally taking action.

These stories are far from unique. Countless women and girls in El Salvador are regularly prosecuted and wrongfully imprisoned as a result of its abortion laws, even in cases where they involuntarily suffered miscarriages, stillbirths, or other obstetric emergencies beyond their control. Over the course of 20 years, El Salvador’s total abortion ban has imprisoned more than 55 women and orphaned countless children. Because when abortion is banned, all pregnant people become suspects.

We can’t allow the United States to regress; we can see the horrific impact of banning abortion in the eyes of Sara, Keyla, Beatriz, and the countless other women and families who have been devastated by cruel abortion bans.

There is global momentum to respect the dignity and reproductive well-being of all women and pregnant-capable people. At the end of 2020, Argentina passed a historic bill legalizing abortion—a testament to public support from the medical community and the thousands of activists who for years marched in the streets to demand an end to clandestine abortions. Ireland decriminalized abortion. And while a near-total abortion ban in Poland has been enacted as part of the country’s dangerous slide into authoritarianism, protesters there took to the streets in record-breaking numbers and will continue to fight. Here in the United States, Illinois and New York have enacted protections for abortion rights. Across the Americas and the world, we are unapologetically claiming reproductive autonomy and dignity.

We must heed the crystal-clear lessons of El Salvador: Banning abortion leads only to despair. People, no matter their home country or socioeconomic status, should not die from pregnancy complications. And no one should be jailed for suffering a miscarriage or locked behind bars for having an abortion.

We’re working for a world in which all people can imagine and embody safe and healthy pregnancies if they want them, access to quality health care provided with dignity and respect, and supportive communities that help us all reach our full potential. This is our shared struggle for reproductive freedom, and it’s a struggle worth fighting for around the world and here at home.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/06/16/el-salvador-offers-important-lessons-on-abortion-access-will-the-supreme-court-listen/

The Women’s Health Protection Act would bar states from imposing restrictions on abortion, as Republicans push hundreds of anti-abortion bills at the state level.

Democrats are reintroducing legislation to protect people’s access to abortion, just as Republicans at the state-level push dozens of bills trying to limit access to reproductive rights and the Supreme Court is set to consider a pivotal case. 

The Women’s Health Protection Act, first introduced by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in 2013, would block states from imposing restrictions on abortion that make it harder for pregnant people to access care. It would protect both a person’s right to determine if they want to continue a pregnancy, and health providers’ ability to offer reproductive health care services. 

In a press conference Tuesday, Blumenthal warned that Republican lawmakers have introduced over 500 measures at the state level seeking to restrict access to abortion, noting that the “pace has accelerated” in recent years.

“What we’ve seen is an unprecedented assault on a woman’s right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy,” Blumenthal said, calling the state-level barriers an “attack on women’s health care.” 

In Texas, for instance, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed an extreme abortion law last month, effectively banning the procedure at six weeks into pregnancy, before many people even know they’re pregnant. And in Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that would revoke the medical license of doctors who perform abortions unless it’s to protect the mother’s life.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is set to consider a pivotal case on a Mississippi ban on abortions beyond 15 weeks of pregnancy, marking the first time the nation’s highest court will consider an abortion ban since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.   

Blumenthal warned that the conservative-leaning court’s decision could “not only chip away, but potentially overrule Roe v. Wade — at the very least, do profound damage to it.” 

The Women’s Health Protection Act, first introduced by Blumenthal in 2013, has repeatedly been reintroduced in new congressional sessions since. So far in the current Congress, the bill has 176 co-sponsors in the House and 45 co-sponsors in the Senate. While Democrats hold a majority in the House, such contentious legislation will face tougher odds in the tightly divided Senate. 

In Tuesday’s virtual presser, co-sponsor Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) noted that restrictions on abortion disproportionately impact low-income women and women of color. 

“It’s a sad fact that in this country, if you are white, rich, well-connected, abortion will always be available to you,” Chu said. “But we need [this legislation] to ensure that no matter where you live, what your background is … you have the same rights to make decisions about your own body as anyone else.” 

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/womens-health-protection-act-abortion-legislation-democrats_n_60bfbc94e4b0db85704eb380?fbclid=IwAR1XQ4DJ7U7QxKgFlt4nu6-ruQ1pVwdZhPPGlI-gqWirR5YJ7IcXGM4rHrI

The Supreme Court’s decision to take up a case challenging a Mississippi abortion ban has profound implications for corporate America—whether or not the C-suite realizes it.

This is a story about the dangerous reality for women denied access to necessary health care. But this is also a story about economic impact, both for women and for their employers. 

Companies that already compete for top talent will find that the majority of employees will not be willing to relocate based on what lack of abortion access signals about the culture and politics of the state. Six in 10 women would be discouraged from taking a job in a state that has tried to restrict access to abortion. And 54% of men ages 18 to 44 say they also would be discouraged from taking a job in a state that has recently tried to restrict abortion access. A majority of women (56%) say they would not even apply to a job in a state that has recently banned abortion.

This abortion ban violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s why this law, and others like it across the country, were passed—to give a newly constituted Supreme Court the chance to either fully overrule or more subtly dismantle Roe. Bans like the one in Mississippi have been unconstitutional since the court’s ruling in 1973, and this will be the first such ban to go before the court since that landmark ruling.  

The consequences of a Roe reversal would be devastating for the communities where corporate America operates. If Roe falls or is further diminished, more than 20 states would prohibit abortion outright. And 11 states—including Mississippi—currently have trigger bans on the books, which would instantaneously ban abortion if Roe is overturned.

Imagine even more women crossing state borders to get the care they need. Health care providers in states that would continue to have legal and safe abortion have planned for decades to be able to provide uninterrupted health care to out-of-state patients through mobile clinics, telemedicine, and other new technologically enabled services. But it will be difficult regardless.

Because women have been historically less valued as employees, as demonstrated by gender-based pay inequities across race, it is all the more important to highlight the economic impact of banning abortion. Recent research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that state-level abortion restrictions cost the U.S. economy $105 billion annually. Depending on the state, the existing abortion restrictions cost states from hundreds of millions to even billions annually by reducing labor force participation and earnings levels and increasing turnover and time off from work among women 15 to 44 years old.

If Roe is ended, employers need to be ready to respond to the needs of their employees who suddenly won’t be able to access the comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, they need in the state where they live or work. Notably, many employees already experience 24- to 72-hour waiting periods to access abortion care, drive hundreds of miles or get on flights for appointments, and need to arrange for childcare and time off work. 

Companies need to act now by reviewing and revising benefits to better support employees based on laws in their state. Business leaders should call and meet with elected officials at all levels to let them know that abortion restrictions, including bans and trigger laws, have a negative impact on the current and prospective workforce in their state. Companies need to take public stances that connect abortion access with efforts to improve equity in the workplace.

Since diminished access to abortion has been among the collateral damage of corporate support for Republicans, companies must increase their due diligence when it comes to political giving. Companies can limit political giving to candidates who uphold shared values and norms in line with revised investor and employee expectations.

If nothing else, employers should highlight for their workforce how existing policies like paid time off and other benefits can be tapped to help employees access the health care they need. And given the existing barriers that vary by state in accessing abortion, employers can bolster financial assistance, caregiving benefits, and employee assistance programs for workers who face extraordinary burdens in obtaining essential health care. Some employees who are able to do so may choose to relocate because of looming restrictions—their employers should allow them to.

The future of full gender equality for generations hangs in the balance. Because of the Supreme Court’s willingness to revisit precedent, workers and communities are at risk. 

Source: https://fortune.com/2021/06/10/roe-v-wade-supreme-court-mississippi-abortion-ban-companies/


As clinics close and self-managed abortion becomes more common, a first-of-its-kind fund will step in where people are facing prosecution for inducing their own abortions.

A reproductive justice group is taking a radical step to protect abortion access: a first-of-its-kind legal defense fund to help people who are facing criminal probes for inducing their own abortions.

If/When/How announced Wednesday that it’s launching the Repro Legal Defense Fund, an initiative that will pay for the legal costs of people who need to defend themselves for having, or helping others have, what’s known as a “self-managed abortion.” Although only five states explicitly ban self-managed abortions, experts told VICE News that if law enforcement wants to find a way to go after people for the practice, they can usually find a statute that’s pliable enough to do it. 

Abortion rights advocates also expect self-managed abortion to only become more ubiquitous in the coming years, especially if Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, falls apart. Last month, the majority-conservative Supreme Court agreed to hear an abortion case out of Mississippi—a move that threatens to reduce the landmark ruling to ruins.

“There have been criminal investigations of people in more than 20 states. That includes California and New York and other ‘blue’ states,” said If/When/How Executive Director Jill Adams.

“It happens in big cities. It happens in rural towns. Unfortunately, because there’s so much misinformation about the laws regarding abortion and people’s rights, and there’s so much antipathy—that gets manipulated by overzealous prosecutors and by police who try to create crimes where none exists.”

“Abortion is not a crime,” Adams added. “We have a constitutionally protected right to abortion that encompasses self-managed care. These laws, in the five states—those are arguably unconstitutional.”

With $2 million in funds, the Repro Legal Defense Fund intends to defray the costs of expenses like bail, expert witnesses, court fees, and attorney fees for people who are being criminalized for self-managing their abortion. “Not letting access to a robust defense be marred by a lack of financial ability is really the goal,” said Rafa Kidvai, If/When/How’s legal defense fund director.

No one knows just how many people have been prosecuted for self-managing their own abortions or helping others do so. A 2017 If/When/How report found that, since 1973, there had been at least 21 arrests for suspected self-induced abortions. These arrests can have life-shattering consequences: In 2013, an Indiana woman named Purvi Patel was accused of inducing her own abortion and later convicted of felony child neglect and feticide. She was sentenced to decades behind bars. Although an appeals court ultimately found that Indiana’s feticide law wasn’t intended to be wielded against women seeking their own abortions, the entire ordeal took up more than three years of Patel’s life.

If/When/How is now embarking on a more comprehensive study that seeks to find out just how many people have been criminalized for self-managed abortion. A pilot study in three states—Arizona, New York, and Nevada—has so far uncovered dozens of such cases. 

Although people like to rage about the specter of the “coat-hanger abortion,” the risks for people who want to self-manage their abortion are primarily legal, rather than medical, thanks to the advent of abortion-inducing pills. These pills are widely regarded as safe to use at home; the World Health Organization even recommends a regimen for self-inducing an abortion using a drug called misoprostol. (The Repro Legal Defense Fund is open to providing aid to anyone who self-manages, regardless of the method they use.)

The pills are also increasingly easy to obtain, thanks to groups like Aid Access, an organization that ships abortion-inducing pills across the United States. At the same time, states are passing a record-breaking number of restrictions on abortion clinics. Multiple studies have indicated that lack of access to in-clinic abortion is a key reason motivating people who want to self-manage instead.

Between March 2018 and March 2020, more than 57,000 people in all 50 states asked Aid Access for help obtaining abortion-inducing pills, according to a study led by a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin and published last month. More than 70 percent of people said that they couldn’t afford an in-clinic abortion, while 40 percent said that “clinic distance” made them lean towards self-managing their own abortion.

“That shows us that those folks are already in that place where abortion is a legal right, but it’s a right on paper only,” the lead researcher, University of Texas at Austin associate professor Abigail Aiken, told VICE News last month. “If Roe v. Wade is overturned or diminished, I think that we will find more people in that situation. So I think we could expect self-managed abortions to increase.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/5dbd3a/people-arrested-for-giving-themselves-abortions-now-have-a-legal-defense-fund?utm_source=email&utm_medium=editorial&utm_content=news&utm_campaign=210609

New research shows a majority of voters support the Women’s Health Protection Act. The bill arrives just weeks after the Supreme Court announces it will hear an abortion ban case challenging Roe v. Wade

Today, the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA)—a bill that would protect the right to access abortion throughout the country—was introduced in the House by U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and in the Senate by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). WHPA would create a federal statutory right for health care providers to provide abortion care, and a corresponding right for their patients to receive that care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care and impede access.

The introduction of WHPA comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case next term that directly challenges Roe v. Wade. The case—filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and appealed to the Court by the state of Mississippi—challenges the state’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case, the above members of Congress immediately announced their intention to reintroduce WHPA. This bill would protect the right to abortion under federal law, even if Roe were overturned.

WHPA is being introduced in the 117th Congress with 176 original co-sponsors in the House and at least 45 in the Senate – the highest number of original co-sponsors ever for this bill. During the 116th Congress, WHPA earned 260 co-sponsors, more than in any previous Congress. The Center has been supporting the bill since its first introduction in 2013, when it had 132 co-sponsors in the House and 35 in the Senate. Since then, it has garnered more support each term.

Also today, a poll conducted earlier this year by Hart Research Associates was released, showing that a majority (61%) of voters believe abortion rights across the country should be protected with a new federal law like WHPA. Support is especially strong among Black voters (79%) and other voters of color.

This poll sends a clear message to Congress: the majority of voters want abortion protected under federal law,” said Nancy Northup (she/her), President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We cannot wait any longer. If Roe falls, many states will immediately take action to make abortion a crime. Even now, with constitutional protections in place, state legislators have made it impossible to access abortion in the South and Midwest. Especially for Black people and other people of color who already face barriers to health care. This bill—WHPA—would protect against the hundreds of state restrictions and bans that have pushed abortion out of reach. This is an issue of equal access, everywhere.”

“This new polling reconfirms what young people and people of color have been saying for years: We want abortion care that is free from medically unnecessary restrictions that shame, stigmatize and deny us timely, confidential abortion care,” said Danielle Hurd-Wilson (they/them), Interim Deputy Director of Field and Programs at URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity. “Each of us should be able to make our own decisions about whether and when to become a parent. Period. It’s time to listen to the people most affected by reproductive oppression about what we need for our communities to thrive. The Women’s Health Protection Act will bring us a step closer to that that goal.”

Key Poll Takeaways:

  • 61% of voters nationally support passage of a national law that would protect the constitutional right to access abortion by creating a nationwide safeguard against bans and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion. That law is WHPA. This includes:
    • 82% of Democrats
    • 60% of independents
    • 39% of Republicans
    • 62% of swing voters
    • 63% of suburban women
  • Support for WHPA is especially strong among voters of color and voters under age 30, with large majorities expressing support for creating a national law:
    • 79% of Black voters
    • 67% of Hispanic voters
    • 67% of Asian-American and Pacific-Islander voters
    • 66% of voters under age 30
  • 7 in 10 voters (68%) believe that the constitutional right to abortion should be protected. This is the majority point of view across most of the electorate, including:
    • 91% of Democrats
    • 71% of independents
    • 43% of Republicans, including 72% of moderate and liberal Republicans
    • 72% of swing voters
    • 68% of suburban women
  • 58% of voters nationwide say it is a big concern that 24 states are likely to ban abortion completely if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

The full poll results are available here.

Already this year, more than 70 state-level abortion restrictions have been passed into law, putting 2021 on track to be the worst year for abortion access in decades. Nearly 90% of counties in the U.S. have no abortion provider and five states are down to their last abortion clinic. If Roe were to be overturned, 24 states and 3 territories would likely prohibit abortion entirely, according to an analysis by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Already, 12 states have so-called “trigger bans” in place that would ban abortion immediately if Roe falls.

POLL METHODOLOGY: Hart Research conducted the nationally representative online survey from January 15, 2021 to January 20, 2021 among 1,629 registered voters. The sample is demographically and geographically and politically representative of the 2020 electorate nationally.


Source: https://reproductiverights.org/members-of-congress-introduce-bill-to-protect-abortion-access/?fbclid=IwAR3nT5e4ZHYCruejbX7S7mWZh49gR_g9sVFa9UtDRou5nyeWe7sU6_TRHh4

From left, Asia Brown, Ellie Rome and Derenda Hancock wait outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic parking lot in Jackson, Miss., on May 20, to escort patients. The clinic is Mississippi’s only state-licensed abortion facility. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

A simple majority vote in the Senate would nullify the threat to reproductive health posed by the Mississippi case.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to accept a major abortion case out of Mississippi has led to fear among many Americans that Roe v. Wade will be overruled next year. There is some chance of this — but that’s why it is crucial to understand that reproductive rights do not depend only on the justices.

Here’s the thing: Congress can, right now, by simple majority vote, protect those rights and nullify any threat posed by the Mississippi case or any other.

A year ago, when the last abortion case reached the high court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. cast the deciding vote to invalidate Louisiana’s abortion restrictions. Roberts surprised many by joining the four justices appointed to the court by Democratic presidents, one of whom was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Today, however, Justice Amy Coney Barrett occupies the seat Ginsburg once did, leading some who support abortion rights to predict doom from the Mississippi case. Predictions are always tough in this business, but the far more important point is that this focus on the Supreme Court is misplaced. Reproductive rights need not depend at all on what the court does with Roe.Advertisement

In Roe, the Supreme Court in 1973, by a 7-2 vote, reviewed a Texas law that criminalized abortion, declaring it unconstitutional. The court’s opinion meant that states could generally not restrict abortions in the first trimester and for much of the second, until the point of fetal viability. Thus, women had a right to choose what to do until approximately the 24th week of their pregnancies. Mississippi, however, recently passed a law in defiance of that framework, restricting abortion after the 15th week. This law so flagrantly defies the Supreme Court that nothing like it has had a chance of success in any court since 1973. (Texas, not to be outdone by Mississippi, last month outlawed abortions after the sixth week if a fetal heartbeat has been detected.)An upcoming Supreme Court review of a Mississippi abortion law could pave the way for many other state laws that restrict or ban the procedure. (Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

This is subtle but important: When the Supreme Court hears a case about abortion, whether it was Roe in 1973 or the Mississippi case in the coming fall, it is not being asked to outlaw the practice of abortion. The court has only one power — the power of judicial review — which means all it can do is say whether a particular abortion restriction passed by a legislature is constitutional. The court cannot outlaw abortion itself. So if the court sides with Mississippi and says “you can have this law,” that simply means those states whose legislatures want such laws restricting abortion can have them. Other states that don’t want to restrict abortion do not have to. The court can’t compel abortion restrictions; it can simply permit them.

What this simple insight means is that there are two ways, not one, to safeguard reproductive rights: one by legislatures and the other by courts. And because the Constitution says that federal law reigns supreme over state laws, this insight also means that Congress can sweep away state laws that conflict with federal protections. Congress uses this power of “preemption” all the time — blocking states from having their own food and drug laws, employment rules, banking regulations and the like. Congress also frequently passes legislation to guarantee rights. Indeed, almost all of the major civil rights protections you have at your job or at restaurants or in hotels are guaranteed by Congress, not the courts or the Constitution. That is because the Constitution restricts only governments, not private individuals or corporations.Advertisement

Right now, Congress has a bill before it that would capitalize on this insight and statutorily guarantee the reproductive rights recognized by the Supreme Court since 1973. Called the Women’s Health Protection Act and sponsored by senators including Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), it would codify the rights two generations have taken as part of American life.

This legislation can be passed by simple majority vote, and if enacted, it would remove cases like the Mississippi one from the Supreme Court’s consideration. The rights would now be guaranteed by Congress, making it impossible for the court to trim them back. The only way states could try is to file separate lawsuits seeking judicial review of such legislation, arguing that Congress’ law is unconstitutional because Congress lacks the power to enact it.

Such an argument has about zero chance of success. Since the New Deal, the Supreme Court has given Congress broad powers over interstate commerce, and the case here would be ironclad, on par with the rationales that undergird civil rights laws and their prohibitions on discrimination in employment, restaurants and the like. There is no way the Supreme Court could void such a law without collapsing the scholarly and judicial consensus about the reach of government power, present at least since the New Deal but with its roots going all the way back to the Bank of the United States case McCulloch from 1819.

Some in the Senate would try to filibuster the legislation, claiming 60 votes, not 50, is needed to pass it. But if there is ever a piece of legislation that merits a departure from the filibuster, this is pretty much it. Recall that it was the Republicans in the Senate who bypassed the filibuster when they confirmed President Donald Trump’s three nominees to the Supreme Court, including Barrett.Advertisement

And Trump campaigned on the claim that Roe would “automatically” be overturned once his Supreme Court nominees were confirmed. It can’t be that one side gets to play by a “no filibuster” rule and the other side doesn’t. That is particularly so since one of the seats at the court was filled as a result of Republican senators’ gamesmanship over President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland — gamesmanship that itself had the goal of trying to overturn Roe.

In this sense, Roe is unique — it occupies a role in Senate confirmations unlike any other case. If 50 is good enough to confirm a justice for life and against Roe, it should be good enough to democratically enshrine Roe into law, too. All it takes is 50 senators to sidestep the filibuster (or return it to its original roots, like a speaking filibuster) for this particular piece of legislation. And especially when such legislation is designed to preserve the status quo over reproductive rights and codify five decades of understandings, it is hard to see how senators representing a small fraction of the United States should be able to block the popular will.

With Republican senators such as Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) having gone on the record to support Roe, a Senate majority for the Women’s Health Protection Act is exceptionally likely. And although Democratic senators such as Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) have expressed general support for keeping current filibuster rules, the act is best understood as falling within an existing exception to the filibuster: lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Indeed, it is a far more modest reform than the 2017 decision by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.Advertisement

Citizens can easily feel disempowered when issues they care about are reduced to analyzing the proclivities of nine people in Washington sitting in black robes. Since 1973, the questions about reproductive rights have been dominated by the court, not Congress. But now we have an opportunity to recalibrate the balance and guarantee reproductive justice for Americans in every state. We don’t need the court to protect these rights. We just need a majority vote in Congress.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/06/07/roe-abortion-congress-mississippi/

Malta is the only country in the European Union that bans abortion in all circumstances. But a bill recently introduced in Parliament would change that.

The draft legislation, if adopted, would remove Malta’s strict criminal penalties for abortion—penalties that currently call for up to three years imprisonment for those procuring an abortion or helping someone to do so; and four years imprisonment for doctors who perform illegal abortions.

“This draft bill is a historic first step towards reforming one of the few remaining abortion bans in Europe. If adopted, the bill would remove harmful criminal penalties and could pave the way to allow women in Malta access to abortion care in their own country,” said Katrine Thomasen, Senior Legal Adviser for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Marlene Farrugia, member of Malta’s Parliament, presented the bill, which aims to ensure that no person or medical professional in Malta is criminalized “for the choice pertaining to their medical health and/or the provision of medical assistance. Such criminalisation is discriminatory.”

Malta is one of only three countries in Europe that outlaw abortion in all circumstances. The others are Andorra and San Marino, which are not members of the European Union. For an overview of Europe’s abortion laws, see the Center’s comparative legal analysis.

Source: https://reproductiverights.org/bill-would-decriminalize-abortion-in-malta-the-only-eu-country-with-a-total-abortion-ban/?fbclid=IwAR0tCgZctcL4_th-BSnfTtqlWAjvDC_jLqHy0JDNkEk7AV48VFhMyODsqf0

Paxton Smith, the 2021 valedictorian of Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, gave an impassioned graduation speech about abortion rights that’s going viral. 

For those unfamiliar with what’s happening in Texas: The state’s governor, Greg Abbott, just signed into law the “heartbeat bill,” which, per The Texas Tribune, bans abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when most women don’t even realize they’re expecting. 

Smith had originally planned to talk about television and media during her speech but instead used the platform to shed light on the “heartbeat bill.” 

“In light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state,” Smith said, per Vox. “Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Six weeks. That’s all women get.”

According to Vox, the “heartbeat bill” not only bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy but allows people to sue anyone who “aids and abets” one of these illegal procedures. 

Smith’s speech has exploded on TikTok, racking up more than 210,000 views. It was reposted to Twitter, where it’s been viewed more than 2 million times. “In Texas, Lake Highlands High School valedictorian, Paxton Smith, switched out her approved speech to talk about abortion rights,”

According to Advocate magazine, a local Highlands publication, Smith’s decision to change her speech on the fly was not supported by her school district. “The content of each student speaker’s message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the District or its employees,” RISD school board president Karen Clardy said. “What the student did was unexpected and not supported by LHHS or RISD. We are going to review student speech protocols in advance of next year’s graduations to prevent something like this from happening again.”

That being said, Smith’s father, Russell, fully supported her actions. “It was something that she felt was important, and she had the nerve, determination, and boldness to put herself out there and say her piece,” he said, according to Advocate. “So few people demonstrate this level of maturity and poise, regardless of age.”

Read her full speech, according to Advocate magazine, below: 

As we leave high school we need to make our voices heard. I was going to get up here and talk to you about TV and content and media because those are things that are very important to me. However, in light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state.

Recently the heartbeat bill was passed in Texas. Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions that take place after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Six weeks. Most women don’t even realize they’re pregnant by then. And so, before they have the time to decide if they are emotionally, physically, and financially stable enough to carry out a full-term pregnancy, before they have the chance to decide if they can take on the responsibility of bringing another human into the world, the decision has been made for them by a stranger. A decision that will affect the rest of their lives.

I have dreams, hopes, and ambitions. Every girl here does. We have spent our whole lives working towards our futures, and without our consent or input, our control over our futures has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail me, that if I’m raped, then my hopes and efforts and dreams for myself will no longer be relevant. I hope you can feel how gut-wrenching it is, how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.

And I’m talking about this today, on a day as important as this, on a day honoring the students’ efforts in 12 years of schooling, on a day where we’re all brought together, on a day where you will be the most inclined to hear a voice like mine, a woman’s voice, to tell you that this is a problem. A problem that can’t wait. I refuse to give up this platform to promote complacency and peace, when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights. A war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your daughters.

We cannot stay silent.

Source: https://www.glamour.com/story/a-high-school-teens-powerful-graduation-speech-about-abortion-rights-is-going-viral?fbclid=IwAR1NE9um0vf1PSscZ3jBmKK6Dc7vd80FJ1_J–cL_i4LnO7YNJB4cG7c25o

The Associated Press
In this photo from Thursday, April 8, 2021, Jeanne Gawdun, right, a lobbyist for Kansans for Life, the most influential anti-abortion group in Kansas politics, watches a state Senate debate from one of its galleries at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. She sees an increase in abortions in Kansas in 2020 resulting from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s refusal to ban elective abortions temporarily during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic when Republican governors in Oklahoma and Texas did. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

The number of abortions performed in Kansas increased by 9.1% last year

TOPEKA, Kan. — The number of abortions performed in Kansas increased by 9.1% last year as far more women traveled from Oklahoma and Texas to terminate pregnancies than in 2019 and the state reported that out-of-state patients outnumbered Kansas patients for the first time in almost 50 years.

The state Department of Health and Environment says 7,542 abortions were performed in 2020, an increase of 626 from 6,916 in 2019.

Women and girls from Oklahoma and Texas had 566 abortions in Kansas in 2020, up from 110 in 2019. The additional 456 abortions were the bulk of the total increase in abortions in Kansas.

The Kansas health department said 3,901 abortions, or nearly 52%, were for patients from outside the state. The last time the department had reported that more abortions were performed on patients from outside Kansas than on patients from Kansas was 1973, the same year that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide.

“Gov. Kelly owns this increase,” said Jeanne Gawdun, senior lobbyist for Kansans for Life, the state’s most politically influential anti-abortion group. “We can now consider her the abortion-industry governor.”

The report on abortions, release late last week, came as both sides prepared for an August 2022 statewide vote on a proposed anti-abortion amendment. The measure would overturn a 2019 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court declaring access to abortion a “fundamental right” under the Kansas Constitution.

The 9.1% jump in abortions was the largest annual increase since at least 1995, when the state began requiring all health care providers to report any abortions they performed. Since then, abortions in Kansas peaked at 12,445 in 1999, then declined in 16 of the following 20 years.

A significant percentage of Kansas abortions historically have been performed for Missouri patients, particularly in the Kansas City area. In 2020, the number was 3,201 or 42% of the total.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/patient-influx-states-increases-kansas-abortions-78027418?fbclid=IwAR0ckM4cBc0q3_JR6dJ9BwSbNP2X-OFpsBv5E0IGNMe2bHKdmyxOG8mtTTM