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When Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro was 17, she found out she was pregnant. Loraine Piñeiro decided to have an abortion, but because she was Medicaid recipient — like more than 72 million other Americans — her insurance wouldn’t cover the costs of the procedure. So, Loraine Piñeiro picked up extra shifts at her restaurant job, earning $2.17 per hour in base pay, to earn the necessary $450. She was still in high school.

She was in that position thanks to the Hyde Amendment, a policy dating back to 1976 that prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except in the case of rape, incest, or if the pregnant person’s life is in danger. “When I learned about the Hyde Amendment, I realized how much it affected my life,” Loraine Piñeiro tells Mic. “I had no idea how I would figure out how to pay for an abortion. Those types of resources aren’t easily available.”

A group of women of color in Congress — led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — hope to change that, with the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act. The bill, introduced in March 2021, would reverse the Hyde Amendment and prohibit the federal government from meddling in insurance companies’ coverage of abortion care. It’s a crucial step in making abortion legal and accessible for everyone, but it’s perhaps most urgent for people of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the Hyde Amendment.

“Let’s call this amendment what it is: It’s anti-choice and it’s blatantly racist.”

“Let’s call this amendment what it is: It’s anti-choice and it’s blatantly racist,” Lee said about Hyde during a press conference ahead of the EACH Act’s introduction. Of the millions of non-elderly Americans on Medicaid, 20% are Black, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation estimate using Census Bureau data. Just over 29% are Hispanic, while 4.3% are AAPI and 1.1% are Native. Moreover, 2.6 million Native American and Indigenous people in the U.S. receive medical care through the federally-funded Indian Health Services, which means abortion coverage is also out of their reach as long as the Hyde Amendment is in place.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to get rid of Hyde. Lee, along with other Democratic members of Congress, introduced a version of the EACH Woman Act first in 2017 and again in 2019. Both times, it was DOA in the Republican-led House. But the power has shifted now, with Democrats in control of both the House and Senate. In addition to Lee, the bill has 127 co-sponsors in the House, and Duckworth has 22 fellow supporters in the Senate.

Lee, who worked as a staffer for former California Rep. Ron Dellums (D) when the Hyde Amendment first passed in the 1970s, said support for reversing Hyde is at an all-time high right now. The bill has the support of House leadership, she says, as well as the House Appropriations Committee — which is crucial because the Hyde Amendment is actually just a provision that is added to congressional spending bills, which the Appropriations Committee oversees. It’s not actually a law on its own, which means it doesn’t have to be formally repealed.

For his part, President Biden has gone back and forth on the Hyde Amendment, though he’s most recently expressed support for repeal. So it seems likely he would sign the EACH Act if it crosses his desk. But even with backing from Democratic congressional leadership and Biden, it’s unclear whether the bill can pass the Senate, where even one conservative Democrat could keep the bill from passing.

If the EACH Act does pass, it will certainly be cause for celebration, as reproductive rights advocates agree it is a crucial step forward. More than 130 national and state organizations support the bill under the coalition All* Above All. The public, too, supports ending the Hyde Amendment: Polls from 2019 show 62% of voters support Medicaid covering abortion.

Loraine Piñeiro, who is now 29 and the co-executive director of Florida Access Network, an organization that advocates for abortion access and helps fund abortion care, knows from experience how much good the bill could do. “People turn to us and other abortion funds for support, because they are unable to afford their abortions and are forced to navigate unnecessary restrictions” Loraine Piñeiro says. “The EACH Act will remove a huge financial hurdle.”

Even so, this bill isn’t a magic bullet when it comes to reproductive justice. Oriaku Njoku, co-founder and co-director of Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, which helps Southerners seeking abortions, agrees that the EACH Act “will definitely open up possibilities,” but stresses that removing the Hyde Amendment is only one of many necessary changes to guarantee the comprehensive care people need.

For example, Njoku tells Mic, state-level restrictions like mandatory waiting periods and the shrinking number of clinics would still exist even if the EACH Act passes. “How are people going to get to the clinics? How are they going to make these multiple-day trips? Who’s going to take care of their kids? How are they going to eat while they make those trips?” Njoku asks, rattling off several practical hurdles to abortion access. “Logistically, there’s still going to be things that need to happen.”

Consider how even if the EACH Act allows pregnant people to use federal money for abortions, it won’t address the cost of actually getting to the procedure — a trip to one of the few remaining clinics, possibly having to stay overnight, and finding child care for any existing kids all add up. So will taking time off of a job to make the trip, if you’re not entitled to paid time off. Meanwhile, persistent racial and gender pay gaps mean most women of color will be less likely to have savings to cover the extra costs.

Additionally, according to a 2016 study, providers in states that did not use state funds for abortion coverage often also did not accept Medicaid for the procedure, even when the pregnancy met the conditions for coverage under the Hyde Amendment. Providers claimed the billing process was difficult and reimbursement irregular.

“Our folks deserve better.”

If and when the Hyde Amendment is gone, “there’s still going to be a need for us,” Njoku says. Abortion funds like hers help pregnant people meet the costs that Medicaid cannot cover, but that low-income people must pay due to increasingly restrictive state laws.

“Our folks deserve better,” says Njoku.

Democrats have the majority in the Senate — although the slimmest possible one — thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote. But for Harris to even have the opportunity to give the thumbs-up to the EACH Act, it would require all 50 Democratic votes to come in support of the bill — and that is not guaranteed.

In 2019, conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) voted yes in a procedural vote that allowed Republicans to make the language of the Hyde Amendment permanent. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act was ultimately referred to subcommittee by the House, but Manchin’s break with party lines is an indication the EACH Act might not have his support this time around. He, along with Democratic Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.) and Tim Kaine (Va.), also voted in support of Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford’s attempted introduction of Hyde-like language to the coronavirus relief bill earlier this year.

Manchin ultimately voted for the relief bill without restrictions on money for abortion, but it seems clear that he does not support removing Hyde for good. He’s also generally proved himself comfortable stymying Democratic priorities. If one white man stops the EACH Act from passing, it’ll be a dark irony considering the racial inequities the bill is seeking to address. (And that doesn’t even count the 50 Republicans in the Senate, 47 of whom are white.)

But if and when the EACH Act enshrines insurance coverage for abortions into law, Loraine Piñeiro will turn her full attention to the next goal: “pushing back on abortion stigma, informing the community, [and] dispelling myths that folks have about reproductive health care.” In the end, funding is just one piece of the puzzle. But once it falls into place, the rest of the picture can start to come together.

Source: https://www.mic.com/p/the-each-act-would-overturn-a-blatantly-racist-abortion-rule-will-it-pass-77726691?fbclid=IwAR0Mdz-80uNqVU_zT2gWecKUVCuf3CFlJgnQ6oybaXLVOzviNM68t0x0wrY

Women travelling abroad for abortion services are being refused permission to board flights amid confusion over their travel rights during the pandemic, an advocacy group has said.

Advocacy group says confusion over travel rights causing upset at distressing time

Women travelling abroad for abortion services are facing increased costs and delays, and are being refused permission to board flights amid confusion over their travel rights during the pandemic, an advocacy group has said.

The Abortion Support Network (ASN), a London-based charity supporting women travelling for abortion services, is calling for “clarity” from the Department of Health as to whether abortion is an “urgent” medical service under the Covid-19 travel regulations.

It said that if abortion is considered an urgent service, clarity is needed as to whether women returning to Ireland need to provide a negative PCR test.

The current regulations state that among those exempt from the requirement to provide a pre-departure, negative PCR test before arriving from the UK are: “Patients travelling to Ireland for urgent medical reasons [where] that reason is certified by registered medical practitioner or person holding an equivalent qualification outside the State.”

A negative test is not needed to travel from Ireland into the UK.

In recent weeks the ASN has supported women refused permission to board flights to Ireland after having abortions and, in one case, a woman who was refused permission to board a flight to the UK because she did not have evidence of recent negative tests.

Although medical abortion on request is legal up to 12 weeks, under the provisions of the 2018 Abortion Regulation Act, thereafter an abortion must be performed in a hospital, and only in exceptional circumstances where continuing the pregnancy would put the woman’s life or health at serious risk or where the baby is likely to die within 28 days of birth due to a foetal abnormality.

Several hundred women a year have travelled to the UK for abortions since 2018, though numbers have dropped dramatically since the pandemic restrictions began in March of last year.

Source: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/calls-for-clarity-on-whether-abortion-an-urgent-medical-service-1.4553734?fbclid=IwAR10kPramOmsCB5GsrQnlllK6QSs7qGF6PJolctrL1S0RaLjlEA5m-wHEvM

Welcome to Lubbock, Texas, which made abortion illegal, and has turned anyone who helps another person get an abortion into a criminal.
 Shutterstock/Rewire News Group illustration

Lubbock, Texas, is the largest city to try to ban abortion within city limits—along with anyone helping the patient and providers.

Have you driven a friend to their abortion appointment? Have you talked someone through a medication abortion on the phone? What about an abortion fund—do you work for one? Ever donated to one? Well congratulations, you aided and abetted a criminal abortion.

Welcome to Lubbock, Texas, a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

Here, you’ll find a city that just made abortion illegal, and has turned anyone who helps another person get an abortion into a criminal.

Earlier this month, Lubbock residents voted in favor of an ordinance that outlaws abortion within city limits, making it the largest U.S. city to try to ban abortion. Now, we’ve seen abortion bans pass state legislatures before—but the Lubbock ordinance is different.

The ordinance wants to make it a crime to have an abortion, perform an abortion, or even help anyone do those things. And it gives standing to anyone in Texas to sue under the law, which means a lawsuit can be brought against a provider by any anti-abortion zealot in the state.

These two provisions could have grave implications for the city; a Planned Parenthood clinic opened in Lubbock last year, and just began offering abortion care last month (advocates think the ordinance is a retaliatory move); and Texas is home to numerous abortion funds and mutual aid funds that help people access abortion in a state riddled with restrictions.

Here’s a closer look at what the standing and aiding/abetting provisions in the law will actually mean for Lubbock residents.

Who can enforce this law?

“Standing” is legalese for saying “who has the interests to sue under this law,” and typically, when it comes to abortion restrictions, that’s people who the laws affect—namely, patients and providers. Makes sense, right? They’re the ones affected by the law, so they’re the ones who have standing to seek redress (legalese for: relief, remedy) under it, and it’s been that way for decades.

But in this case, the ordinance allows for “third-party standing,” which confers standing to anyone—and we mean anyone—who wants to sue under the law.

Basically they’re deputizing anyone in Texas as an abortion restriction enforcer.

This means that patients and providers are vulnerable to lawsuits from literally any anti-abortion zealot in Texas; and even if they don’t actually win in court, lawsuits like these will make life a living hell for the people this ordinance implicates—tying them up in costly and time-consuming court battles that they wouldn’t have otherwise been subject to. It also has the potential to create a chilling effect: forcing those implicated by the law, like abortion funds or providers, to stop offering services in Lubbuck to avoid being the target of a lawsuit.

The standing provision almost directly mirrors the one included in SB 8, a bill close to passage in the Texas state legislature. SB 8 includes a similar provision granting third-party standing to anyone who wants to attack abortion access in the state.

This attempt to expand third-party standing comes at the same time anti-choice advocates are vigorously challenging the ability of abortion providers to challenge abortion restrictions on behalf of their patients.

Who does the law criminalize?

The ordinance criminalizes anyone who helps another person get an abortion, including anyone who provides transportation to an abortion, anyone who offers instructions for self-managed abortion, or anyone who helps someone pay for their abortion. If you do any of these things, you can be charged with aiding and abetting, which is legal-speak for helping. This is, as Rewire News Group Senior Editor, Law and Policy, Imani Gandy put it, “five alarm bad.

Out of the gate, anti-abortion lawmakers and voters acting like they care about reproductive coercion is laughable. Reproductive coercion is a type of sexual abuse that involves forcing your partner to abide by a certain family planning or reproductive health decision, like birth control sabotage or removing a condom during sex. If anti-abortion lawmakers cared about survivors of this kind of abuse, they would ensure people could access a full range of reproductive health care as easily as possible. Not to mention that abortion restrictions and bans are coercive in that they literally control people’s family planning decisions.

Self-managed abortion is largely understood to be the next frontier in the fight to ban abortion; after a year-plus of increased demand for telemedicine and directives from federal health agencies affirming the safety of medication abortion, it’s clear that self-managed will be the way of the abortion future for many who want to end a pregnancy in the first trimester. That is undoubtedly a good thing, but it means anti-abortion lawmakers are going to set their sights on restricting it, like they are here.

The criminalization of anyone who helps pay for an abortion is perhaps the furthest-reaching section of the ordinance, in that it could apply to everyone from the friend who literally puts cash in your hand to pay for your abortion, to the Lubbuck resident with a monthly donation set up to their local abortion fund, and even the abortion fund volunteers and workers. This section also drives home what is a constant in abortion restrictions: that these burdens always fall the hardest on the most marginalized.

Like the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal money from funding abortion—any restriction on how someone pays for an abortion perpetuates longstanding systemic discrimination that most adversely impacts poor people, people of color, disabled people, and other marginalized communities trying to access abortion.It’s unclear what happens next with this ordinance, but abortion restrictions like these do not happen in a vaccum.

Finally, let’s talk about the criminalization of anyone who transports someone to an abortion. This one might seem a bit out of left field, but lawmakers are simply taking a page from the playbook of laws that restrict abortion access for young people.

You see, abortion laws for young people vary from state to state, which means that sometimes young people opt to travel to a state where parental consent or judicial consent aren’t necessary rather than go through that arduous process at home. So one way lawmakers have tried to curb access for minors is by trying to criminalize transporting a minor to another state for an abortion.

This also isn’t the first time conservative lawmakers have looked to access for minors as a blueprint for further abortion restrictions; earlier this year, Tennessee lawmakers tried to pass a spousal consent law, giving cis men veto power over pregnant people’s abortions—the same way young people need parental consent. Abortion access for young people is an often overlooked topic, and lawmakers count on that indifference. If no one is outraged about consent or travel restrictions for young people, it becomes easy fodder for new restrictions on adults seeking abortion care as well.

None of these are entirely new ideas in the anti-abortion space: empowering people other than the pregnant person with the control over abortion, fearmongering about criminalization. They are manifestations of other barriers that fall the hardest on marginalized people—on cost, on a full range of abortion care options, on barriers for people living with abuse, and on age.

The Lubbock ordinance is a mess of confusing provisions, and it’s obvious that it was written not by lawmakers with an understanding of the law, but by activists with the sole intent to restrict abortion access by any means necessary. It’s unclear what happens next with this ordinance, but abortion restrictions like these do not happen in a vaccum.

As Yamani Hernandez, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said in a statement, “What happens in Texas does not stay in Texas.”

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/05/12/this-texas-city-has-a-terrible-new-way-to-harass-abortion-providers/

Stop Abortion Bans Rally in St. Paul, Minn., on May 21, 2019. (Fibonacci Blue / Flickr)

“There is a mountain of pressing issues that state legislators need to deal with. … But none of that really gins up the conservative base. Instead, we are seeing attacks on trans youth, attacks on abortion, and attacks on voting rights.”

—Elizabeth Nash, Guttmacher’s principal policy associate on state issues.

Editor’s note: The laws discussed in this piece are not yet in effect and will likely be challenged and blocked before making their way to the Supreme Court.

In the first four months of 2021, anti-abortion lawmakers introduced 536 abortion restrictions in 46 states, including 146 abortion bans, according to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute on Friday. They enacted 61 restrictions in 13 states, including eight bans that would go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Governors signed 28 restrictions into law in eight states just last week.

“Each additional restriction increases patients’ logistical, financial and legal barriers to care, especially where entire clusters of states are hostile to abortion,” said one of the report’s authors Elizabeth Nash, Guttmacher’s principal policy associate on state issues.

Anti-abortion lawmakers have passed significantly more abortion restrictions in 2021 than in the first four months of 2011—the year previously regarded as the most hostile to abortion rights since Roe—when states enacted 42 restrictions by the end of April, including six bans.

Here’s a sampling of some of these recent laws attacking abortion access:

  • Arizona passed a bill to criminalize providers who perform or aid in an abortion sought due to a fetal genetic abnormality.
  • Arkansas passed a bill requiring patients to view an ultrasound before an abortion.
  • Indiana and West Virginia passed bills requiring abortion providers to inform patients about “abortion reversal,” which is not supported by medical evidence.
  • Kentucky passed a bill to remove the right to an abortion from the State Constitution.
  • Oklahoma passed a law adding abortion procedures to the list of unprofessional conduct by doctors and a “heartbeat bill” prohibiting abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
  • South Dakota passed a bill to ban abortions based on a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis.
  • Wyoming enacted a “born-alive” bill, which will take effect July 1. 

A Blip, or a Sign of More to Come?

Nash believes this surge is not a coincidence, but a harbinger of more restrictions in the coming months.

“It doesn’t look like anything is abating for the foreseeable future,” Nash told Ms. “We haven’t even gotten to Texas, which is coming out with a whole package of restrictions on abortion that includes everything from a near total ban all the way to restrictions on medication abortion. Texas has one of these legislatures that shifted further to the right in the past election and we’re seeing this whole smorgasbord of abortion restrictions there. It reminds us again just how important state legislatures are and who’s in them.”

Bills like these fly in the face of health experts. On Tuesday, 200 physicians signed and sent an open letter to members of the Texas House expressing their opposition to one such bill: Senate Bill 8, which would ban abortion after just six weeks and would allow “any person” to sue doctors who perform abortions, and will be considered by the full House on Wednesday. 

Several other states are poised to adopt new restrictions too, said Nash—including Montana, Florida, Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee and Missouri.

Why Now?

Nash attributes the surge to several factors. “One, the 2020 elections resulted in a number of state legislatures becoming more conservative in places like Texas, Arizona, South Carolina, Montana and Wyoming. But also, we have a Supreme Court that has announced that they are welcoming more cases on abortion,” referring to Chief Justice Roberts’s concurrence in last summer’s abortion decision of June Medical Services v. Russo. “This is creating an environment where state legislators are eager to move abortion restrictions.â

But Nash also emphasizes how conservative legislators are using the issue of abortion to mobilize their base, as they did in a previous surge in abortion restrictions.

“Back in 2011, the United States was coming out of a recession, but state legislatures still had heavy revenue issues and there was a lot of unemployment. In the 2010 elections, we had a real shift to more conservative legislators in part because these candidates were saying that they wanted to do something about the economy and do something about state budgets. But instead of addressing these economic issues, they focused on social issues—in particular, abortion. They did that because they were looking to solidify their base and keep their base engaged.”

“We are seeing some of the same things happen in 2021,” said Nash. “There is a mountain of pressing issues that state legislators need to deal with. There’s health care access in the pandemic, there’s systemic racism, there’s education reform and criminal justice reform, unemployment, small business assistance—the list goes on. But none of that really gins up the conservative base. Instead, we are seeing attacks on trans youth, attacks on abortion, and attacks on voting rights.”

In the first four months of 2021, Republican lawmakers introduced 360 bills to restrict voting rights and over 100 anti-transgender rights bills.

Source: https://msmagazine.com/2021/05/04/anti-abortion-laws-texas-arizona-arkansas-indiana-west-virginia-kentucky-oklahoma-south-dakota-wyoming/?fbclid=IwAR0ExDm_O0_U0sgi-lX9CEAmTIG42RldAQ1FojHwwg6YQ3Q-mLQuFwbthDE

An exam room at the Whole Women’s Health Clinic in McAllen, Texas.JENNIFER WHITNEY / JENNIFER WHITNEY/The New York Times

With a politicized U.S. Supreme Court offering new opportunities, far-right state policymakers appear only too pleased to take their chances.

After Donald Trump and Senate Republicans put Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court, shifting the balance of power on the bench even further to the right, many Republicans recognized the opportunity: GOP officials understandably assumed that it’s only a matter of time before Roe v. Wade is overturned.

And with this in mind, as regular readers know, states with GOP-led governments got to work approving sweeping restrictions on reproductive rights, confident that such measures, which stood no realistic chance of withstanding judicial scrutiny before, might now survive court challenges. Alabama, in particular, approved an especially radical anti-abortion law. Georgia soon followed.

Late last year, after Republicans replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, opponents of reproductive rights grew even more optimistic, prompting GOP officials in South Carolina to approve an anti-abortion bill in February.

Those efforts are spreading quickly. Take Arizona, for example.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill that bans the procedure if the woman is seeking it solely because a fetus has a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. Doctors who perform an abortion solely because the child has a survivable genetic issue can face felony charges. The proposal also contains a raft of other provisions sought by abortion opponents.

Also yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) “signed a bill to immediately outlaw abortion in Oklahoma if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 case that legalized abortion.”

One day earlier, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed a so-called “fetal heartbeat” anti-abortion bill, and two days before that, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed three anti-abortion measures. The Associated Press explained, “The bills ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, require health care providers to give pregnant women the opportunity to view an ultrasound before performing an abortion, and place several restrictions on abortion pills, including requiring that they be administered in-person rather than through telehealth.”

In the not-too-distant past, Republicans might think twice about pushing such measures, fearing costly legal fights they were likely to lose, but with a politicized U.S. Supreme Court offering new opportunities, far-right state policymakers appear only too pleased to take their chances.

Source: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/state-level-republicans-scramble-approve-abortion-bans-n1265878

This includes a near-total ban in Oklahoma, according to Guttmacher Institute.

Twenty-eight restrictions on abortion were signed into law across seven states between April 26 and April 29, according to a new report, marking an especially hostile week for abortion rights.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports reproductive rights, the pace of restrictions enacted so far this year puts 2021 on track to see historic high numbers of abortion restrictions. At this point in 2011, regarded by the research institute as the most restrictive year for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was decided, 42 restrictions had been enacted; this year, the nation is up to 61 restrictions enacted across 13 states.

PHOTO: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Feb. 11, 2021.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is signing three anti-abortion bills into law. Stitt announced on Twitte…Read More

The wave of abortion restrictions on the state level comes as the Biden administration has begun taking steps to fulfill its promise of shoring up abortion rights. It also comes as the Supreme Court has a new makeup with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former President Donald Trump’s appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who signed anti-abortion advertisements as a Notre Dame Law School “University Faculty for Life” group member.MORE: Is Ginsburg’s death the end of Roe v. Wade? This time, some experts say, it could be.

Nash, of Guttmacher, told ABC News in an email the rise in restrictions this year could be due to “a far more conservative federal court system, backlash to the 2020 presidential election, and more conservative state legislatures that know abortion restrictions play well to the extreme ends of their base.”

The laws signed this week include a near-total ban on the procedure in Oklahoma and a ban on abortion after 20-weeks’ gestation in Montana.

PHOTO: Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey speaks during a bill signing, April 15, 2021, in Phoenix.
Ross D. Franklin/AP
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill on April 27, 2021, tha…Read More

Some of the laws, including the Oklahoma ban, are expected to be challenged by rights groups. This is by design, Nash posited, as conservative lawmakers have been pushing laws in the hopes a challenge will make it up to the Supreme Court that could challenge the Roe decision itself. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established abortion as a right nationally, was further endorsed by the Supreme Court in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey and 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Many of the other newly signed laws, however, may go unchallenged, including laws that, in practice, make abortion more difficult to access and require doctors provide medically dubious information.

Medical equipment is seen in an operating room at the Whole Woman’s Health abortion clinic in San Antonio, Texas, on Feb. 16, 2016.Matthew Busch / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Someone who provides funds for an abortion could also be sued, even if they didn’t know that’s what the money was being used for.

Texas has spent years attacking access to abortion. After the state exploited the Covid-19 crisis last spring to try to close abortion clinics, it was hard to imagine it could get more extreme.

My own experience with assault makes it clear that this bill would be particularly catastrophic for survivors of sexual assault.

But the Texas Legislature is poised to do just that, by approving legislation being billed as the first of its kind for the tactics it uses to prevent access to abortion. The measure has already been passed by the state Senate and is set to clear a House procedural vote on Thursday. The reconciled version is expected to get the governor’s approval when it reaches his desk.

Like several other states have moved to do, Texas would outlaw all abortions once cardiac activity in the fetus can be detected. That usually occurs around six weeks — only two weeks past a missed period, and before most women even know they’re pregnant. It would function as a near total ban on abortion, making no exceptions for rape or incest. In some cases, doctors who need to resolve a patient’s miscarriage might also be prevented from doing so.

But it’s the enforcement provisions that make the Texas legislation unique. Everywhere else, only a few public officials can prosecute this kind of law. This legislation goes much further by allowing any person other than a state or local official to sue an abortion provider or someone who “aids and abets” another person in obtaining an abortion, whether or not they were directly involved and whether or not they’re located in Texas.

In other words, if a Texan becomes pregnant as a result of rape and is provided information about how to obtain an abortion by a rape counselor, the rapist could sue that counselor if the survivor had what the state deems an “illegal” abortion. The rapist could also sue the doctor who provided the abortion and anyone else — like a family member — who supported them in getting the abortion.

Similarly, someone who provides funds for an abortion could be sued, even if they didn’t know that’s what the money was being used for. And since anyone who “intends to engage” in providing an outlawed abortion can also be held liable, it’s possible to imagine that the rapist or other party could sue the provider in advance of the procedure to stop it from happening, denying the victim the ability to have the abortion.

These are just a few scenarios. By allowing individual lawsuits as opposed to relying on the state to act against any abortion offenses, the measure unleashes an army of abortion opponents to sue and harass providers, counselers and activists. Once it’s signed, courts could be flooded with potentially frivolous and harassing lawsuits.

The House bill does include some language to prevent a person who commits sexual assault from suing. But the law as written could be read to require that the assailant have gone through the legal system — and only about 1 in 4 sexual assaults are even reported, with the vast majority never resulting in a conviction. Not to mention putting the burden of tossing the suit on the survivor.

Worse yet, the Senate version doesn’t have any such exclusion. The two versions will have to be reconciled after Thursday’s vote, but both need stronger language to fix legislation that could be catastrophic for survivors of sexual assault. As a survivor myself, I am acutely concerned about this measure.

When I was 19, two weeks before the start of my sophomore year of college, I was raped. It completely changed my life: I stopped being able to talk to people, couldn’t go to class, couldn’t date. It shattered my sense of trust in everyone around me and the world as a whole. If I didn’t have my mom, my sister and my best friend — who believed me from the beginning and always supported me — I couldn’t have made it through that time.https://compass.pressekompass.net/compasses/think/do-you-think-abortion-laws-are-atrisk-na?curl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fthink%2Fopinion%2Ftexas-anti-abortion-legislation-paves-way-every-right-lifer-sue-ncna1266396&embed=embed&paywall=anonymous

This legislation could give the power back to the rapist via state-sanctioned reproductive coercion. It could even put survivors who decide to have an abortion over the objection of their rapist or abuser in danger of further harm.

I’m in the small percentage of people who were assaulted by a stranger; the vast majority of survivors of sexual violence know their assailants. If this law is passed as written, abusers could potentially isolate the survivors by suing their loved ones, counselors and caregivers. And even if the abuser himself were barred under the law, it would open up the survivor’s support system and medical providers to harassment via constant litigation from his associates.

I’ve experienced trying to navigate a legal system that was set up for anything but my healing after my rape; in fact, it only compounded the pain. I cannot imagine inviting further trauma on those around me —of putting in harm’s way the people who got me through that impossible time had I needed an abortion. Or being forced through yet more interaction with a legal system in that vulnerable time.

And I can speak from experience that even when you do report, even when you work with law enforcement, your case could still not result in a conviction; mine didn’t even go to trial.

Rapists exert power over others and seek to control them. They deny their victims autonomy over their bodies and rob them of the ability to make their own choices. They dehumanize and punish them. And so could this legislation.

Let’s be clear: Texas is about to pass a law that not only violates the U.S. Constitution as determined by Roe v. Wade, but also changes the very nature of enforcing laws — shifting them from state officials to the mob.

By allowing individual lawsuits as opposed to relying on the state to act against any abortion offenses, the measure unleashes an army of abortion opponents to sue and harass providers.

Essentially, the Senate and House bills create an almost unlimited potential for defendants, contradicting the Texas Constitution’s minimum requirements to bring civil legal action — i.e., to have standing — in the state. In doing so, they subvert core constitutional and democratic principles in a direct affront to our system of government.

Our elected officials should leverage their power in support of the dignity of survivors like me — not our rapists. They should be protecting our rights and securing our ability to live and thrive — not obstructing it. At the very least, they should not perpetuate the cycle of abuse. But survivors like me and organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas have the opportunity to fight back. We can, and must, defeat this effort.

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/texas-anti-abortion-legislation-paves-way-every-right-lifer-sue-ncna1266396?fbclid=IwAR2Jw9vUohhsC2mQfrnUPDARNQKhmiCmE4KmxSaRF1YCWXoD5d05QBlZBDg

“It is deeply disappointing that President Biden’s commission to study Supreme Court reform includes legalists who are notably transphobic, anti-abortion, and sexual abuse apologists,” Bridget Todd, communications director at UltraViolet, said.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Court reform is one of progressives’ top priorities. And yet Biden has included anti-choice lawyers and Federalist Society members in its courts commission.

President Joe Biden recently made good on one of his campaign promises by creating a bipartisan commission to provide recommendations on how to reform a U.S. court system that was, he said, “getting out of whack.”

This commission was his answer when facing questions about whether, as president, he’d support expanding the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and lightning-fast confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. The White House announced the group’s formation on April 9, though the commission will merely issue a report analyzing arguments for and against reform, rather than providing explicit recommendations, as Biden suggested last year.

At first glance, the list of 36 commissioners seems innocuous—it’s full of lawyers, professors, and former judges. But a closer examination shows that it includes people who have called abortion “horrific,” take an originalist view of the Constitution, or are defenders of the Federalist Society, the ultraconservative group that extensively vetted nominees for President Trump.

The members’ selection comes at a time when at least 18 abortion cases are just one step away from the Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative supermajority posing an existential threat to reproductive rights established under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. (President Biden promised during the campaign to protect the right to choose by codifying Roe in federal law, a promise that became much harder to keep after Ginsburg’s death and losses in Senate races like Maine and North Carolina). Reproductive justice issues like insurance coverage, the environment, and gun control are also pending before the Court. It’s not hyperbole to say that the Court stands to drastically alter people’s ability to choose whether and when to parent and whether they can raise their families in a safe environment.

Nan Aron, founder and president of the liberal judicial group Alliance for Justice (AFJ), said it’s clear that the Biden administration isn’t quite ready to embrace ideas like court expansion since the commission is tasked with only writing a report, not making any reform recommendations. The group’s mandate was already limited, but its ideological makeup constrains it even further, she said.

“Given that a driving force over the decades on the right has been overturning Roe v. Wade, I question whether [conservative] individuals who are part of this effort can put aside their beliefs to support much-needed structural reform,” Aron said.

Natasha Chabria, associate counsel with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said commission members should bear in mind that their report could impact millions of people in the United States.

“They need to be thinking beyond their own personal politics and thinking about what the impacts will be on these individuals and what are the core rights and the fundamental rights of being a citizen of this country that will allow you to live a healthy and productive life,” Chabria said. Ideally, she said, the commission would reflect “the values and the needs of the people of this country, the people who voted [Biden] into office.”

Chabria works on the group’s Economic Justice Project, where she focuses on health equity and reproductive justice; the Lawyers’ Committee filed an amicus brief in June Medical Services v. Gee arguing that restricting abortion in Louisiana would especially harm Black women and people with low incomes in the state.

“Reproductive justice is really at its core about bodily autonomy,” Chabria said. “It’s critical to note that it’s not a partisan issue.”

What views do some of the conservatives hold?

Four of the scholars named to the commission are openly hostile to abortion access or support legal groups or theories that oppose abortion.

Thomas Griffith is a retired D.C. Circuit judge who sided with the Trump administration in a 2017 case where the government tried to prevent an undocumented teen in a Texas shelter from getting an abortion. The teen won the case; Griffith joined the dissent. The next year, after a lower court judge ruled that the government can’t stop pregnant teens in immigrant detention from getting abortions, Griffith wrote a dissent declaring that the court was somehow opening the door to the government having to arrange for post-viability abortions of people in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Adam White is a George Mason University law professor and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who garnered attention for his transphobic tweets as well as for claiming Christine Blasey Ford could be investigated for perjury. White tweeted in 2019 that an abortion provider discussing the health risks of pregnancy was “treating pregnancy as terrorism.” He correctly cites that about 700 people per year die from pregnancy, but fails to include that for every person who dies, another 70 nearly die—meaning that more than 50,000 people experience life-threatening complications from pregnancy and childbirth every year.

White has tweeted about abortion many times, including one post where he listed abortion alongside slavery, eugenics, and Japanese internment as things worse for the United States than Trump. He also tweeted that employers required to provide insurance coverage of birth control were being asked to “assist in providing abortions,” repeating a false anti-choice talking point that birth control causes abortions.

Jack Goldsmith is a Harvard professor who has argued that the Federalist Society is correct when it claims it does not take policy stances or endorse nominees—even though it fairly obviously opposes Roe and it (alongside the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank) literally handpicked candidates for Trump’s judicial short lists in 2016 and 2018.

Keith Whittington is a Princeton professor and originalism scholar who, in a New York Times op-ed last October, parroted President Trump’s line that we really don’t know if Amy Coney Barrett would overturn Roe—even though she was selected for that purpose and Sen. Josh Hawley said Barrett passed his overturn-Roe test for justices. Whittington has contributed several videos to the Federalist Society.

Why do their views matter?

Chabria noted that the protections provided by Roe are the floor for people who can get pregnant. For people to have bodily autonomy, they also need things like paid time off work for medical care, doctors versed in LGBTQ care, paid parental leave—all things the Supreme Court could limit.

For true reproductive justice, women also need equal pay, need the Hyde Amendment repealed, and need to be free of xenophobic, sex-selective abortion bans that are based on a belief that Asian American and Pacific Islander women bring “backwards” values with them from their countries, said Da Hae Kim, the legal advocacy and judicial strategy manager for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). Notably, then-judge Barrett would have allowed a sex-selective ban to go into effect before she was nominated to the Court.

“We need to have an environment where someone can make decisions about their families and community,” Kim said, adding, “we want all of our judges to reflect the lived experiences of our communities and understand that we don’t lead single-issue lives.”

Given that opposition to abortion is in the Republican Party platform, it would likely be difficult to find conservative legal scholars who support Roe, abortion access, and health care for people living on low incomes, but this is a problem inherent in making the commission bipartisan.

Since the makeup of this commission may not reflect U.S. voters’ values, Chabria said, it’s important for the public to weigh in if there are opportunities to do so. “We [should] bring all of our perspectives to the table so that they are working with the full, holistic view of what the public believes is important with regards to the Supreme Court,” Chabria said.

Talk of court reform stems from advocates questioning the Court’s legitimacy, especially following the Bush v. Gore decision that decided the 2000 presidential election and, more recently, after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh despite sexual assault allegations and huge debts that mysteriously disappeared, and of Barrett, eight days before the end of a presidential election when more than 60 million people had already voted.

We need a new consensus to help repair the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, said Bridget Todd, communications director at UltraViolet, a national women’s organization.

“Republicans hijacked the process to stack the Court with conservatives under President Trump. Those in charge of studying potential legal reform today should not be the same people who helped undermine the Court in the first place,” she said.

Todd said Goldsmith, Griffith, White, and Whittington are threats to women’s rights and liberties and they use “the veneer of legal scholarship to express their personal opinions on issues that impact millions of women,” adding, “It is deeply disappointing that President Biden’s commission to study Supreme Court reform includes legalists who are notably transphobic, anti-abortion, and sexual abuse apologists.”

Despite the limitations of the commission and the views of its members, Aron of AFJ said any discussion of the federal courts that helps people understand what they do and why they’re important could be viewed as a benefit.

It also puts the justices themselves on notice.

“Courts are not immune from public criticism,” Aron said. “I think it’s important that the justices on the Supreme Court know there’s a process underway—both within this commission and outside—of active conversation around reform. And the criticism is based on the fact that many segments of the American public have a very deep understanding of the institution as it stands now, namely that there is an entrenched minority rule on the Supreme Court, it is indeed a reactionary court. It is imbalanced, and to maintain legitimacy and confidence of the public, it needs to change.”

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/05/05/meet-the-anti-choice-lawyers-on-bidens-courts-commission/

Nineteen states prohibit telemedicine abortion, usually by requiring a doctor to be physically present while the medication is taken, and that number is growing.

Lifting a medication abortion restriction means abortion patients can get their medication by mail. But not in states where telemedicine is banned.

The Biden administration recently lifted a restriction on medication abortion that forced patients to pick up the drug mifepristone in person from a doctor. This means patients in some states can reduce their exposure to COVID-19 through a telehealth visit and later receive the medications by mail.

Without additional action from the Food and Drug Administration, however, the policy only applies for the duration of the pandemic. And for patients in conservative states that impose their own telemedicine bans—along with other medically unnecessary restrictions like waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, and forced counseling—the FDA’s change doesn’t improve access to abortion care at all.

Abortion care via telehealth improves abortion access for people who live in rural areas, who experience logistical barriers, or who live with limited mobility. Iowa’s Planned Parenthood of Heartland first implemented telemedicine for abortion in 2008, allowing patients to go to a local health center to videoconference with a clinician at a different location. And since then telemedicine has expanded across Planned Parenthood in various states and spurred the development of online projects like TelAbortion, Aid Access, and Abortion on Demand.

But 19 states prohibit telemedicine abortion (usually by requiring a doctor to be physically present while the medication is taken), and that number is growing. Other anti-choice state laws force patients to visit the clinic for a mandatory counseling session or ultrasound, necessitating an additional in-person appointment 24 to 72 hours before they can receive abortion care.

According to Dr. Bhavik Kumar, medical director of primary and trans care at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, a “web of restrictions” in Texas is exactly why people seeking abortions still face “significant health equity issues” during the pandemic.

“Despite the FDA’s action, people living in restrictive states—like Texas—are still subject to medically unnecessary barriers to care and will not be able to access some or all of their medication abortion through telehealth,” he said.

The Texas legislature continues to target telemedicine abortion, even though telehealth for a medication abortion is just as safe and effective as in-person care. In fact, it can be safer, because limiting medically unnecessary exposure to health-care clinics during a pandemic is important for pregnant people—especially pregnant people with certain disabilities—who face additional risks when it comes to COVID-19.

“Anyone with any sort of risk factor for the coronavirus during this pandemic [is a person] who can also get pregnant. … Not to mention pregnancy in itself is an immunocompromised condition,” said Dr. Leah Torres, OB-GYN and medical director of West Alabama Women’s Center. “Any requirement for someone who is disabled, who has transport limitations or anything like that—requiring them to be mobile when they don’t have to be—is an undue burden and frankly, cruel. It compromises their safety even further, unnecessarily so.”

These unnecessary laws “don’t have anything to do with actually improving health care, but rather everything to do with imposing more burden on a patient and more risk,” she said.

People seeking abortions in restrictive states like Texas and Alabama are forced to make multiple visits to an abortion clinic because of restrictions like forced counseling and bans on telemedicine. Exposure at health-care clinics and logistical complications like arranging rideshares and child care also increases risk in states where lawmakers failed to ever take the pandemic seriously.When the pandemic is over, the FDA can go right back to in-person requirements for administering mifepristone—a medication that is safer than over-the-counter pain medication.

Even before the pandemic, it was extremely difficult for patients—“especially people with low incomes and those living in medically underserved areas”—to access the essential care they needed in the first place, Kumar said. In Texas, he’s seen firsthand the consequences of barriers like child care, transportation, time off work, and bans on private health coverage for abortion.

“Systemic barriers to care existed long before the pandemic, and they will continue to exist long after. The web of restrictions around abortion in Texas makes it difficult, if not downright impossible, for so many people to access the care they need—especially people of color, particularly Black people; people with low incomes; people in rural areas; undocumented people; and LGBTQ+ folks,” he said.

The pandemic has only “amplified” these barriers, according to Kumar.

“Anytime health care is restricted, people suffer, and these communities suffer the most,” he said. “We’ve always known this, but the pandemic has really brought it into sharper focus, pouring gasoline on the long-simmering, systemic inequalities that I see every day through my patients’ lived experiences.”

Ashley, 32, had a medication abortion at a clinic in central Texas last year. (Her name was changed to protect her privacy.) Both she and her father, who supports Ashley by providing child care, are considered high risk for the coronavirus.

“I had to secure child care multiple times for each visit, then again overnight for when I took the second medication [misoprostol],” Ashley said. “I have a child with special needs, so finding child care is a monumental task on its own.”

For Ashley, who works in health care, the decision to have an abortion was directly related to her experience as a parent.

“I knew all too well exactly what it means to raise a child, not just be pregnant and give birth. … The reason people like me—[people] who are already mothers—have abortions is because we’ve found our society is not going to be there to help us raise these kids, only to make sure we give birth. My daughter has a lifelong disability [yet] I make $15 an hour part time, don’t own a house … and was denied disability for her because I ‘make too much,’” she said

Ashley also has a uterine polyp, which she said increased her risk of hemorrhaging during pregnancy. She said she was thankful that even with limited clinic availability, the doctor made sure to see her as soon as possible.

“For me, time was essential as I could not wait even one more week for the pregnancy to progress and have that much more fluid pressing on the polyp in my uterus—aggravating it and risking hemorrhaging. … Who knows what could have happened to me? This legal requirement for two appointments does nothing but put lives in danger,” Ashley said.

Being able to have a medication abortion through telehealth would have improved her experience with abortion care, Ashley said; driving 45 minutes each way and waiting alone in the clinic for hours while worrying about her daughter was difficult. A telehealth abortion also would have lowered her risk of pregnancy-related complications, as risks increase as pregnancy continues.

“So you’re increasing risks by not making a safe medication available, you’re increasing risks by imposing telemedicine bans, you’re increasing risks by having imposed waiting periods, [and] all of these things are against evidence-based medicine and only increase risks to the health and lives of real people,” Torres said.

Even when the pandemic is over, many of these barriers will persist—and so might the requirement that patients pick up mifepristone in person.

Torres pointed out that the FDA’s recent decision specifies that it applies during the pandemic, which means when the pandemic is over, the FDA can go right back to in-person requirements for administering mifepristone—a medication that is safer than over-the-counter pain medication.

“When the pandemic is over, it can go right back to how everything was. And it’s not necessary, it’s actually harmful to have that [in-person] requirement,” Torres said.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/04/30/the-fda-opened-abortion-access-just-not-for-everybody/

The decision paves the way for parts of the country’s abortion legislation to be changed

Ecuador’s high court has decriminalised abortion in cases of rape, a major step in the traditionally Catholic country.

The Constitutional Court voted 7-2 in favour of declaring two articles of the penal code unconstitutional.

The decision came in response to a petition from women’s rights groups, and paves the way for parts of the legislation to be changed.

Abortion remains a deeply divisive issue in Latin America, where countries have strict laws banning terminations.

The only places where abortions are currently legal in the region are Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana and parts of Mexico.

But terminations are allowed in cases of rape in several countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Panama, according to the advocacy group Center for Reproductive Rights.

Ecuador’s current legislation allows abortion only when the mother’s life is in danger or after the rape of a woman with a mental disability. With the court ruling, abortion in all cases of pregnancy resulted from rape has been decriminalised.

Analysts say the court can now demand the National Assembly reform the articles declared unconstitutional. In 2019, the assembly voted against decriminalising abortion in all cases of rape and foetal abnormalities, amid strong opposition of the influential Roman Catholic Church.

Pro-choice activists celebrated outside the Constitutional Court building in the capital, Quito. Ecuador’s National Coalition of Women, a human rights group, said it was a “historic” day but that it would continue “to fight” for abortion to be legal in all circumstances.

Lolo Miño, one of the country’s best known women’s rights activists, said on Twitter (in Spanish): “I’m crying as I write this because I don’t believe it! Today, girls and women who are the victims of rape in Ecuador have a second chance.”

There were also some demonstrations from anti-abortion activists, who criticised the vote. The bishops’ conference of Ecuador expressed concern in a letter to the head of the Constitutional Court.

Activists from feminist groups demonstrate in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion in Quito
Pro-choice and anti-abortion activists protested outside the Constitutional Court in Quito

Women undergoing terminations in Ecuador face up to three years in jail. Because of the restrictions, women and girls seek illegal and unsafe abortions, which can lead to health complications and death.

Between 2008 and 2018, about 20,000 girls under 14 – the age of consent in Ecuador – gave birth in the country, according to rights group Fundación Desafío. And a quarter of all pregnancies of those aged between 15 and 19 were a result of rape, the group said.

Meanwhile, 11 women report cases of rape on average every day nationwide.

President-elect Guillermo Lasso, a conservative Catholic and a pro-life advocate who takes office on 24 May, said he had “full respect” for the ruling. “The independence of the government branches and the secular nature of the state are principles that cannot be negotiated,” he said in a statement.media captionActivists celebrate the Senate legalisation in Buenos Aires

Across Latin America, there has been increased pro-choice campaigning, known as the “green wave”, based on the colour worn by protesters. In January Argentina, one of the most influential countries in the region, legalised abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy.

Some other countries have banned abortions entirely. Among them are Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, where parliament gave its initial approval to a bill that would make it virtually impossible to legalise abortion.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56913947?fbclid=IwAR0lB7s6S2mmeIYwDPuLo7l4PTm0xscGoEVqtmhdl5JLI_SJNYSypxalIU8