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“We’re doing pretty OK, other than the bogus laws, and we’re working on that. As far as community, we got each other’s back,” Jackson-based community organizer Amanda Furdge said.
 Getty Images

Mississippi has a health-care crisis. By asking the Supreme Court to ban abortion, attorneys for the state are deepening it.

Mississippi’s justification for unconstitutional abortion restrictions has long revolved around the assertion that the laws, like the 15-week ban recently taken up by the Supreme Court, protect women and children.

But the reality is now, and has long been, that Mississippi women and children’s health and economic security is not prioritized.

“There are just so many different intersections that we meet at here in Mississippi as Black women when it comes to all of those things that ultimately affect our reproductive rights and our reproductive justice,” said Jackson-based community organizer Amanda Furdge. “The lens is like a kaleidoscope—you’re just turning the dial and seeing what you’re going to land on.”

Furdge points to inequities in health care, child care, and education access that disproportionately impact women of color in Mississippi. “We’re talking about the things that we need all the way into 2021 that we’ve been asking for since our mothers and grandmothers have been asking for them,” she said.

When it comes to the most basic health, education, and poverty outcomes, Mississippi consistently ranks at the bottom.

More infants die here before their first birthday than anywhere else in the United States and most developed countries. The state’s infant mortality rate, while improved recently, is still nearly 9 deaths for every 1,000 births—comparable to Turkey and Brazil. Black infants die at nearly double the rate of white infants.

The racial disparity mostly tracks back to premature births, which can largely be thwarted by wraparound care before, during, and after pregnancy—something out of reach for many due to health insurance barriers. Nearly 1 in 5 women of reproductive age in Mississippi lack health insurance, compared to 13 percent nationwide.

“For us as Black women who are born and raised here in Mississippi and knowing Mississippi’s history as it pertains to Black people in general—but particularly Black women and how we are valued or not valued—we come from the lens of still trying to get equal pay, still trying to get adequate, fully funded child care and adequate, fully funded public education,” Furdge said.

Mississippi is the last state without an equal pay statute. It has restrictive barriers around accessing low-income child care and support programs, and it hasn’t fully funded its public education system since 2007.“There’s nothing about the moves that [the state legislature] has made that backs up this idea that they’re trying to act in the interest of protecting women and/or children.”
-Izzy Pellegrine, sociologist and researcher at Mississippi State University

And a higher rate of people die during pregnancy, labor, or postpartum than in most other states. The state’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee points to Medicaid expansion—or at least extension during the postpartum period—as one part of the solution. The state has refused both, despite new incentives from the Biden administration and evidence that comprehensive health insurance saves lives, particularly during pregnancy and postpartum.

Pregnant people can access Medicaid insurance, but it cuts off two months after they give birth, just as many postpartum complications start to arise. In Mississippi, 86 percent of maternal deaths happen after labor, including more than a third after six weeks—a period in which health insurance is critical to accessing life-saving care.

Mississippi is one of 12 states that hasn’t adopted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which could have provided health insurance to about 166,000 Mississippians and cut uninsurance rates in half.

Even for folks here with insurance, barriers pop up along the way. Half the state sits in maternity care deserts, which means big pockets of areas don’t have obstetric hospitals, birth centers, OB-GYNs, or certified nurse midwives.

No evidence of protecting women and kids

Aside from expanding Medicaid, researchers here point to evidence-based policies that would help Mississippians plan pregnancies: comprehensive sex ed and improved access to birth control. These policies not only save lives but have a side effect of reducing abortion.

There’s a long list of interventions to decrease infant mortality and unintended pregnancies, and increase access to prenatal care, Izzy Pellegrine, sociologist and researcher at Mississippi State University, said. “But that’s not what we’re doing.”

Mississippi public schools have two options for sex ed curriculum: abstinence-only or abstinence-plus, both of which revolve around preventing sex before marriage. Classes are separated by gender, instructors cannot physically demonstrate birth control methods, and parents must opt-in.

“It’s just a little bit difficult to square the idea that our priorities are protecting women and children when the outcomes we are trying to protect people from are ones we know how to prevent, and we’re not taking the steps to prevent those,” Pellegrine said. “There’s nothing about the moves that [the state legislature] has made that backs up this idea that they’re trying to act in the interest of protecting women and/or children.”

Mississippi’s teen pregnancy and teen STI rates are among the highest in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of Mississippi high school students have had sex. Of those, 52 percent did not use a condom and 69 percent forwent contraceptives like birth control pills or an IUD the last time they had sex.

“If what we really want to do is improve outcomes, sex ed we know for sure is the place to start,” Pellegrine said. “It would be a lot cheaper for us to do a better job at sex ed than for us to continue these embattled abortion restrictions.”

From 2012 to 2018, the state spent nearly $1 million defending abortion restrictions that were almost all overturned by federal courts. And that was before the current 15-week ban or the subsequent six-week ban moved through the appeals stage.

Further, Pellegrine points out that most of the state is already under a de facto abortion ban because of years of TRAP laws—targeted regulation of abortion providers—that chipped away at access, forcing more Mississippians seeking abortion care to leave the state—at a higher rate than everywhere except Missouri and South Carolina.

“If we think about how abortion access is structured, for most women in Mississippi, we’re already living in an effectively post-Roe situation,” Pellegrine said.

‘A problem of class resources’

Most national coverage points out that abortion bans disproportionately impact women of color in Mississippi, where 72 percent of abortion patients are Black, painting the picture that only Black women seek abortions here. Not only does the state have the highest proportion of Black residents—nearly 40 percent of the population—in the country, the barriers to abortion care and health care in general disproportionately impact those living in poverty, of which a third of Black Mississippians are.

White pregnant people tend to leave the state for abortion care, “but that’s really a problem of class resources,” Pellegrine said.

“And the relationship between race and class is obviously deeply interwoven and especially in a place that has a history like Mississippi. But it’s not a function of racial differences in acts, it’s the relationship between race and class and how that shapes access to health care.”

Furdge, the community organizer, adds that abortion restrictions come down to race and gender power dynamics that have always been at play here.

“You know human beings, you know women and children intimately who directly benefit or not from the way that laws are being made and carried out,” she said. “If [lawmakers] really cared, they would put themselves in our shoes. You don’t even have to walk, you can just try them on and see how they fit.”

But Furdge also points to the legacy of grassroots organizers in Mississippi, particularly Black women like Fannie Lou Hamer and Myrlie Evers-Williams, and hopes national groups will help build off Mississippi momentum. She invoked a quote from Hamer: “Mississippi is not actually Mississippi’s problem, Mississippi is America’s problem”—and not just because the current 15-week case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has the power to threaten abortion access for much of the country.

“We’re doing pretty OK, other than the bogus laws, and we’re working on that,” Furdge said. “As far as community, we got each other’s back. I believe we have one of the strongest and most grassroots, most loving, family-oriented, organizing structures in Mississippi than anywhere else.”

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/07/23/if-mississippi-were-truly-pro-life-it-would-stop-banning-abortion/

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a case that could do away with or weaken the constitutional right to an abortion, Colorado is situated among states with highly restrictive anti-abortion policies that could cut off access to the procedure for their residents if Roe falls. 

Colorado is considered an abortion safe haven due to its lack of restrictions on abortion, so the state could have a critical role to play for people across the country who are seeking abortion care in a post-Roe America. 

And while people already travel to Colorado from all over the country for abortion care due to laws in other states that make abortion inaccessible, particularly for abortions later in pregnancy, it could eventually become one of the only states in the region where abortion is legal at all depending on the outcome of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The case concerns a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade’s ruling that abortion cannot be heavily restricted prior to viability, which usually occurs around 24 weeks, though there’s no hard and fast line. Upholding the Mississippi law means delivering a devastating blow to Roe, and while it’s difficult to predict the outcome, both abortion rights advocates and foes see the case as the likely beginning of the end of the federal right to an abortion.

Over half of women live in states that would likely ban abortion if that happens, and it’d be up to Colorado and a handful of other states that are considered abortion safe havens–including states on the East and West coast and a handful of states in the central U.S.–to provide access for huge pockets of the United States.

For example, many states in the region, including Utah, Idaho, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and North and South Dakota have so-called “trigger bans” that would prohibit abortion immediately if Roe were overturned, some of which were passed this year.

Some states, like UtahIdaho, and Arizona, have gestational bans on abortion occurring after 15 weeks but prior to viability that have been blocked by courts but could take effect depending on the outcome of the case.

Arizona doesn’t have a trigger ban, but does have a law on the books from before Roe was decided that bans abortion. Roe made the law unenforceable, but state officials could choose to enforce it if the court reverses Roe. 

New Mexico had a similar pre-Roe abortion ban on the books up until this year when state lawmakers repealed it, a move that cemented New Mexico’s status as an abortion care safe haven in a potential post-Roe America. If Roe falls, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada will serve as islands of abortion access in a sea of hostility that spans the West, the Midwest, and the South. 

A Fresh Onslaught of Restrictions

Even before the court’s announcement in May that it would hear the Mississippi case, anti-abortion state lawmakers were delivering a sustained assault on abortion rights and access. Now, they’re as emboldened as ever by the possibility that once-unconstitutional measures could be upheld by an increasingly conservative judiciary at all levels of the federal court system, thanks to the Trump administration and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s unprecedented focus on nominating and confirming hundreds of judges. As a result, it’s been the worst year on record for abortion rights as 2021 state legislative sessions draw to a close.

Those legislators passed a whopping 90 abortion restrictions this year alone, more than any other year since Roe was decided in 1973, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute. 

“The 2021 abortion restrictions amplify the harm of earlier ones,” the report states. “Each additional restriction increases patients’ logistic, financial and legal barriers to care, especially in regions where entire clusters of states are hostile to abortion.”

Colorado is surrounded by these clusters.

“Our doors are open and we’re not going anywhere, but the thing we’ve been worried about and have warned people about for years is happening,” said Jack Teter, Regional Director of Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM), which encompasses Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Southern Nevada.

Teter pointed out that Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada already serve a high number of out-of-state patients, including patients from nearly every state in the country, due to restrictions that are currently in place. He said the demand for abortion access in Colorado is only going to increase. 

For example, when Texas lawmakers ordered abortion clinics to shut down in the spring of 2020 as covid-19 began to ravage the United States, PPRM saw a 1200 percent increase in patients from Texas, according to Teter, which provided a snapshot of what a post-Roe future could look like.  

“These barriers to access disproportionately harm women of color, rural folks, and undocumented patients,” Teter said. “For many of our patients for whom healthcare broadly and reproductive health care specifically has been historically out of reach, this will make it even worse for those communities.”  

Anti-abortion state lawmakers are doing everything they can to restrict abortion and pass laws that might be unconstitutional now, but could be enforceable later depending on the Supreme Court’s decision. 

“They’re limiting abortion access to the highest extent that they constitutionally can, which is strong indication that as soon as they can do more, they will,” Teter said. 

In Texas, lawmakers shocked abortion rights advocates and legal experts with a first-of-its-kind abortion restriction that deputizes citizens to enforce a ban on abortion. 

The law, which passed in May and is set to go into effect Sept. 1, not only bans essentially all abortions prior to six weeks of pregnancy, but enables private citizens to sue anyone who performs or helps someone obtain an illegal abortion and awards them at least $10,000 if they win the lawsuit. It essentially creates an abortion bounty hunt, providing an incentive for citizens to catch their neighbors, friends, classmates, and coworkers in the act of violating the ban, including by helping someone pay for a procedure, providing information about where they can get one, or simply giving them a ride. 

The scope of the law is far-reaching, and it’s unclear what kind of impact it could have on Texas patients attempting to travel out of state to seek abortion care and whether they’ll be able to get the logistical and financial support they need. 

“All of that uncertainty and fear, it creates a chilling effect for patients, it scares their friends, and it creates a situation in which someone might say, ‘hey can you drive me to my appointment,’ and someone’s like, ‘I don’t know, can I?’” said Teter. “It’s horrifically cruel.” 

It’s a new, untested approach to restricting abortion that may be copied by other states who are seeking to criminalize care. And Teter says this is just the beginning.

“This is just starting,” he said. “The Supreme Court decision hasn’t even happened yet. This is the first pass. This is the first legislative session.”

Oklahoma and Idaho also passed bans on abortion at six weeks this year, in addition to a slew of other restrictions. Several states, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Montana, passed restrictions on abortion via telemedicine, which allows abortion medication to be prescribed remotely and picked up at a local health center or delivered via mail. 

In many states in the region, people seeking abortion medication, a safe and effective method for ending early pregnancies, will have to drive potentially hundreds of miles simply to take a pill in a doctor’s office. That, of course, requires that you have a car and can afford gas, or have the ability to buy a plane ticket.

In some states, the landscape of abortion rights and access shifted this year due to Republican election wins. 

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte’s 2020 election win, for example, gave Republicans total control over state government for the first time in 16 years. As a result, lawmakers in Montana, where over half of all women live in a county without an abortion provider, passed several anti-abortion measures, including restricting abortion to 20 weeks or earlier, prohibiting health insurance plans purchased through the state exchange from covering abortion, banning abortion via telemedicine, and requiring abortion providers to offer patients the option to view an ultrasound, a measure designed to shame and coerce patients. 

While Montana’s constitution affirms the right to an abortion, meaning abortion would be legal in Montana if Roe fell, lawmakers have demonstrated that they’ll restrict abortion in any way they can to the extent that the constitution allows. In fact, they nearly passed an initiative that would have asked voters to add a constitutional amendment that defines life as beginning at conception and would have banned all abortion, but were just five votes short

A Grave Threat in Kansas

The situation in Kansas is similar to that of Montana: while these states have abortion protections in their constitutions, anti-abortion lawmakers are in charge, and they’ve shown they’ll do everything in their power to strip reproductive rights from their constituents. 

In Kansas, voters will soon be asked to decide on a ballot initiative that would amend the state’s constitution to explicitly state that there is no right to an abortion.

The measure, which was just barely approved by a two-thirds majority in Kansas’ Senate, would overturn the Kansas Supreme Court’s 2019 decision that declared abortion a “fundamental right” under the state’s bill of rights. While the measure doesn’t explicitly ban abortion, it adds language to the constitution declaring that abortion rights are not protected and that state lawmakers can regulate it as they see fit. Given the strong anti-abortion majority in Kansas’ legislature, a ban on abortion is implied. 

“This could pave the way for all-out bans or other types of laws that block access,” said Myfy Jensen-Fellows, Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager for Trust Women, which runs abortion clinics in underserved communities in Kansas and Oklahoma. “We know that this is particularly devastating for marginalized communities. Many people already have to travel great distances, outside of their communities, to access care.”

What’s more, the measure will appear on the state’s August 2022 primary ballot, something abortion rights activists say is all the more concerning. 

“The date of this ballot measure is a strategic move,” Jensen-Fellows said. “There tends to be a much lower voter turnout during primary elections, which in Kansas tends to favor Republican turnout.”

While voters who are not affiliated with a major political party are not allowed to vote for candidates in primary elections in Kansas, all registered voters in the state are eligible to vote on statewide ballot questions, something Jensen-Fellows has been a source of confusion. 

“While we believe there is a path forward, there is a need for public education on the matter and get out the vote efforts,” she said.  

How Safe Are Our Rights in Colorado?

Colorado’s shift to the left has brought about significant policy change when it comes to reproductive rights, but the state has yet to enact abortion protections in state law, meaning that while the state has relatively few restrictions on abortion, it doesn’t guarantee abortion rights independently of Roe. 

But with pro-choice majorities in Colorado’s House of Representatives and Senate, in addition to the Governor’s Mansion, it’s highly unlikely that the state would enact a law restricting abortion. 

For Teter, Colorado’s lack of a law that affirms abortion rights isn’t a cause for concern given the state’s history of protecting those rights at the ballot box and at the Capitol. 

“Abortion access is safe here,” Teter said. “It’s safe here because the voters in this state have demonstrated multiple times that they’re not interesting in banning abortion or making it difficult to access. It’s safe here because of our strong legislative majorities.” 

He has a point: While these kinds of constitutional and statutory abortion protections can serve as a backstop if Roe falls, even states that do have them, like Montana and Kansas, are under threat when anti-choice state lawmakers who search for every possible avenue to restrict abortion are in power.

Teter said that while pro-abortion rights lawmakers in other states are forced on the defensive, Colorado’s political landscape affords advocates the opportunity to focus their efforts instead on expanding reproductive health access, particularly for underserved communities. 

“In Colorado, where we know that both public opinion and political majorities support access to abortion care, we can instead focus on expanding access for patients,” Teter said.

For example, this year, Colorado passed legislation that provided contraceptives for undocumented immigrants, expanded abortion access for sexual assault survivors, set clearer health care standards for pregnant women who are incarcerated, and more. 

Teter said it’s about making sure our house is in order and that Coloradans are cared for as we prepare for a post-Roe era. That way, we can focus more of our efforts on helping the woman driving hundreds of miles from Bismarck to Denver for care. 

Source: https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2021/07/abortion-rights-remain-strong-in-co-as-surrounding-states-look-to-dismantle-them-ahead-of-supreme-court-case/38271/

Women hold green handkerchiefs during a protest in support of legal and safe abortion in Mexico City, Mexico, February 19, 2020. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

MEXICO CITY, July 20 (Reuters) – Mexico’s southeastern state of Veracruz will become the fourth state in the predominantly Roman Catholic country to clear away criminal penalties for elective abortion after lawmakers on Tuesday voted to decriminalize the procedure.

The initiative to allow abortions by choice passed in a 25-13 vote with one abstention, Veracruz’s Congress said in a statement.

The state will join Mexico City, Oaxaca and Hidalgo, which decriminalized abortion just late last month, as places where women can now choose to have abortions within 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

“We thought this day was so far off that we’re in shock, in the best way possible,” said a tweet from Brujas del Mar, a Veracruz feminist group, while noting that most of Mexico’s states have yet to follow suit.

“Let’s go after the 28 (states) that are left.”

Veracruz is one of just three states in Mexico that does not mandate jail time for women who have unauthorized abortions, according to data from advocacy group GIRE, in a region where traditional anti-abortion attitudes have only recently started to shift.

Even as Argentina legalized the procedure in December, several of more than 20 Latin American nations still ban abortion outright, including El Salvador, which has sentenced some women to up to 40 years in prison.

Veracruz became a focal point in Mexico’s abortion debate last year when the Supreme Court ruled against a proposal to decriminalize abortion in the state, a move condemned by women’s rights activists.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexicos-veracruz-state-votes-allow-abortion-joining-three-other-regions-2021-07-20/?fbclid=IwAR3SXhI04abUv4407nwk5jsvX_Zi896xWx1QUn53OImc5Q-zFD8Y9UdlQr8

Stories appeared in Danish press 20 July detailing cross-party proposal to provide free abortions for limited number of Polish women in Denmark

Danish press reported that political parties the Red-Green Alliance and the Social Liberal Party want the Danish state to allocate DKK20 million (over €2.7 million) over four years to help people from Poland to have abortions in Denmark. If all goes to plan, the DKK20 million will go to the organisation Sex & Society, which – in cooperation with the international network Abortion Without Borders – will make abortion accessible to about 165 people per year. The proposal was also supported by the liberal-conservative Venstre party, currently the largest in opposition. 

Denmark allows abortion on request until the twelfth week, unless the life or health of the pregnant person is in danger. This proposal could be particularly helpful for people given diagnoses of foetal abnormality or genetic defects in the second or third trimester of pregnancy – those people who were hit hardest by Poland’s “constitutional tribunal” (pseudo-court) decisions on 22 October 2020.  

Since the tribunal’s decision came into force, the Abortion Without Borders initiative has helped more than 20,000 Polish people access abortions. More than 800 of these cases were in the second trimester of pregnancy and needed to access care in a clinic abroad. Abortion Without Borders recipients most often travel to clinics in the Netherlands and England, but occasionally travel to hospitals and clinics elsewhere in Europe. The total amount of financial support provided by all the organisations that are part of Abortion Without Borders from October 22, 2020 is more than half a million Polish zloty/over €100,000. This amount includes not only the cost of the procedure, but also travel, accommodation abroad and, where required, Covid tests. 

Abortion Without Borders welcomes the news of this Danish proposal to support people from Poland. If the proposal passes through Danish government, Abortion Without Borders will be able to help 165 more people a year to access safe and free abortion.  

Abortion Without Borders (AWB) was founded on 11 December 2019 to help people with an unwanted pregnancy in Poland or abroad. During its first year, more than 5,000 people turned to us for help to terminate their pregnancy. Since 22 October 2021, the number of people seeking abortion support has increased exponentially. The initiative Abortion Without Borders consists of Women On the Net (Poland), Abortion Dream Team (Poland), Women Help Women (international), Abortion Network Amsterdam (Netherlands), Ciocia Basia (Germany) or Abortion Support Network (England). Abortion Without Borders informs about the safe abortion options available, provides consultation before, during and after the abortion, informs how to get safe pills for pharmacological abortion, supports financially, logistically and practically in organizing abortions abroad. 

Abortion Without Borders values: 

  • We help people access abortions 
  • We reduce stigma around abortion, whether with pills at home or at a clinic abroad 
  • We never ask clients how they got pregnant or why they want abortions, but trust and respect the autonomy of pregnant people 
  • We ensure that “I can’t afford an abortion” is never the only reason someone has a baby, or another baby.

Source: https://www.asn.org.uk/abortion-without-borders-thrilled-that-denmark-is-considering-helping-polish-people-access-abortions-abroad/?fbclid=IwAR06mVO7IP0zhPneL1wD9YOvhUbB4-kCSSXkP0jkMVb1AY3SLRUkZyKBt38

In the first half of a record-breaking year for abortion restrictions, states have enacted more than 90 restrictions, the most anti-choice legislation since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.
 Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Extreme abortion laws like SB 8 in Texas create “immense confusion for people needing abortion care” in the state, advocates say.

Abortion is, and remains, legal in Texas. But an extreme new law is creating fear among clinic staff and sowing confusion among patients who don’t know whether abortion is still allowed in the state.

That’s exactly what restrictive laws like Texas’ SB 8, which Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law two months ago, are intended to do.

“It has caused immense confusion for people needing abortion care in Texas, as many are worried that abortion is no longer legal and that clinics are closed,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder, president, and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. She added that it’s been difficult to secure new staff during these uncertain times.

Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance are part of the coalition of more than 20 clinics, abortion funds, and support services that are suing state officials to keep SB 8 from going into effect on September 1. The group filed the legal challenge last Tuesday, with the help of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

SB 8 not only bans abortion as early as six weeks but also grants citizens the power to literally sue anyone who helps someone access an abortion—and rewards them $10,000 for doing so. It means anyone—from a rideshare driver who drives a patient to an abortion clinic, a spiritual leader who guides someone in their abortion decision, or a family member who helps a pregnant person pay for it—could face a lawsuit. The bill allows anti-choice activists, family members, and abusers who don’t agree with a patient’s decision to sue the abortion provider if they find out.

Hagstrom Miller said around 85 percent to 90 percent of her clinics’ patients access an abortion after six weeks’ gestation, and that’s because many people don’t know they’re pregnant before that point.

“This law creates an impossible timeline for people to learn they may be pregnant and quickly decide if having an abortion is what is best for them and their futures,” Hagstrom Miller said.

“Frankly, our current staff are terrified. If this law comes to pass and private citizens are emboldened to sue, they may be sued for providing a moral good to their community. That is why we are taking the lead in fighting this law. Because to us, access to quality, compassionate abortion care matters and we know that is what Texans deserve.”

The passage of SB 8 comes during a record-breaking year for abortion restrictions. In the first half of 2021 alone, states enacted more than 90 restrictions, the most anti-choice legislation since Roe v. Wade made abortion a constitutional right in 1973. In Texas, SB 8 comes on the heels of a total abortion ban that was voted into place by residents of Lubbock—now the biggest city in the country to try to ban abortion in its city limits (a lawsuit to block the ordinance was dismissed last month)—and, similar to SB 8, would allow anyone to sue a provider.

These laws have led to the same confusion and misinformation as other extreme anti-choice legislation, like 2013’s HB 2, which closed over half of Texas’ abortion clinics, and 2019’s HB 896, which would have banned abortion upon conception and made it a crime punishable by imprisonment or death. (HB 896 never made it out of legislative committee, but people seeking abortions still feared its consequences).

The outlook in Texas

For many abortion providers in Texas, the situation feels eerily similar to last year, after Abbott issued an executive order that banned most procedural abortions from late March to April 2020, early on during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texans seeking abortions experienced similar barriers back then when it came to scheduling appointments; clinic availability was often limited, clinics weren’t able to serve all patients, and many had to travel out of state. One study found the number of procedural abortions at or after 12 weeks’ gestation increased by 82.6 percent in May 2020 once the order lifted, when compared to the previous May. Whole Woman’s Health had to cancel appointments for hundreds of patients while the executive order was in effect, not knowing when they’d be able to reschedule them.

Now, just a year later, and with COVID-19 cases rising once more, Texas lawmakers want to force pregnant people through it again.

Maria, whose last name is being withheld to protect her privacy, said the abortion clinic where she works has been “getting calls for weeks” from people seeking abortions in central and northern Texas whose local clinics do not have availability until the next month.

“People express shock at the fact that their local clinics are booked so far out, which is completely understandable,” she said. “Abortion is time-sensitive health care, and crisis pregnancies are urgent in nature. It makes little sense to hear that you can’t get your abortion for another month when you need your abortion right now.”

Jeana Nam, a counselor at a Houston abortion clinic, understands the fears patients must feel when it comes to the increased financial and logistical barriers extreme legislation like SB 8 will impose—because she could easily have been in their position.

“The stakes are high,” Nam said. “What’s more, I had irregular periods and didn’t realize I was pregnant until I was at seven weeks. If SB 8 had been in effect, I would have had to find a way to get care out of state, or (more likely) I would have become a mother before I was ready.”

Nam added that many of her patients are working parents. This means they will need to coordinate child care, travel, and other expenses in order to access abortion out of state.

“How are [patients] supposed to find the time, money, child care, sick days, [or other things] they need to leave the state for an abortion they could otherwise safely have right where they live?” Nam said. “Bans like SB 8 are punitive and absurd attempts to legislate away our right to bodily autonomy and self-determination.”

The grim consequences

The lawsuit describes the “absolute chaos” that will occur in Texas and the irreparable harms created if SB 8 is allowed to go into effect:

In particular, the burdens of this cruel law will fall most heavily on Black, Latinx, and indigenous patients who, because of systemic racism, already encounter substantial barriers to obtaining health care, and will face particular challenges and injuries if forced to attempt to seek care out of state or else carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. S.B. 8 will also cause irreparable harm to Plaintiffs, who are Texas abortion providers and individuals and organizations who help patients obtain abortions.

Cristina Parker, communications director at the Lilith Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said the consequences of SB 8 will affect the fund’s clients—and clients of all Texas abortion funds—the worst. Most of the clients Lilith Fund serves are people of color and low income folks. (Disclosure: I joined Lilith Fund’s board of directors this spring.) In 2020, the nonprofit organization was only able to fund 27 percent of the 4,557 calls it received.

“It’s already incredibly difficult to access abortion in Texas, but this ban would force Texans to travel out of the state for their care,” Parker said. “We’ll do everything in our power to ensure all Texans can determine what’s best for themselves and their families.”

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/07/20/people-dont-know-if-abortion-is-legal-in-texas-thats-a-problem/?fbclid=IwAR2JHNfnOsN-8LpfiRGamVsvbBqel7VgQ8b6npgKMuh-lemyqIji_eZEg_E

Federal courts are hearing two cases challenging Indiana laws requiring abortion providers give their patients false information.
 Shutterstock

A federal judge blocked an Indiana law that would force abortion providers to lie to patients about the bogus “abortion reversal” myth.

Here’s a sentence we don’t get to say often: Last week we got some good news out of Indiana. A federal judge blocked a new Indiana law that would have required providers to share outright false information with their patients about abortion.

Indiana lawmakers wanted to make providers talk about “abortion reversal”—specifically, to tell patients that they could reverse a medication abortion after they had taken the first of two doses.

This is an entirely bogus claim. There is no scientific evidence that indicates a medication abortion can be reversed, and leading medical organizations oppose laws that require providers to discuss abortion reversal for that very reason.

Abortion “reversal” doesn’t work—and worse, it’s actually dangerous. The only randomized clinical trial on the unproven treatment was shut down early in 2019 after several women ended up in the emergency room with severe bleeding.

The law, which Gov. Eric Holcomb signed in April, was set to go into effect on July 1. The district court judge’s temporary injunction blocks it while the legal challenge is underway.

In a statement about its win in court, the American Civil Liberties Union said: “Forcing providers to give their patients this misinformation is both unethical and unconstitutional,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement about its win in court.

“Providers should not be forced to give patients inaccurate and dangerous misinformation,” said Parker Dockray, executive director of All Options, a plaintiff in the case. “Pregnant people deserve better—they need accurate information about all their options, and support to make the decisions that are right for them.”

The fight isn’t quite over yet, as a separate Indiana lawsuitWhole Woman’s Health Alliance v. Rokita, continues to make its way through federal district court. That suit challenges another law requiring abortion providers to give their patients false information, along with a host of other abortion restrictions in the state.

If you want to learn more about the bogus science behind abortion reversal, listen to an episode of Boom! Lawyered below.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/07/09/indiana-abortion-providers-spared-from-having-to-tell-dangerous-lies-to-patients/

Biden’s budget proposal called for the reversal of the abortion funding ban.

House Democrats on Monday took steps to advance a new spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services without the Hyde Amendment, a 40-year-old provision that has banned federal funding for most abortions.

In moving the spending bill to the full House Appropriations Committee for debate and a vote, Democrats followed through on President Joe Biden’s proposed budget, which also did not include the amendment. House Democrats had indicated they would go this route and in doing so have effectively guaranteed that abortion access will be a central focus of government funding negotiations between Democrats and Republicans — who have the votes to block the Democrats’ measure from passing the Senate without changes.Joe Biden reverses stance on Hyde Amendment

The full House panel is expected to approve the bill and send the measure to the chamber for a vote. It’s not yet clear if the measure can clear the narrowly divided chamber without the Hyde Amendment, given Democrats’ slim majority.

As a senator, the devoutly Catholic Biden supported the Hyde Amendment over the years, but Biden reversed his stance in 2019 as he sought the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden listens to a question during a meeting on reducing gun violence, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 12, 2021, in Washington.
Evan Vucci/APEvan Vucci/APPresident Joe Biden listens to a question during a meeting on reducing gun violence, in the Roose…Read More

“If I believe heath care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code,” he said. “I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right.”

Opponents of the long-standing rule pointed out too that there are currently no restrictions on care for men who rely on government insurance.

“Allowing the Hyde Amendment to remain on the books is a disservice to our constituents,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said in Monday’s committee hearing. “We are finally doing what is right for our mothers, our families and our communities by striking this discriminatory amendment once and for all.”

PHOTO: Rep. Rosa DeLauro speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2020.
Al Drago/AP, FILEAl Drago/AP, FILERep. Rosa DeLauro speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2020.

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that her organization was “thrilled.”

“For far too long, the racist and sexist Hyde Amendment has put the government in control of a personal health care decision for many people with low incomes. And its extension to our federal prison system is cruel and unjust. Your ZIP code, financial situation, whether you’re incarcerated or the type of health insurance you have should never determine what kind of essential health care services you can access, including abortion,” she wrote.Supreme Court to take up major abortion case that could undermine Roe v. Wade

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican on the House panel, warned that overturning the Hyde Amendment would “destroy decades of bipartisan work” on the committee and called it “out of step with the view of most Americans.”

“Biden-Pelosi Democrats are scrapping decades of bipartisan consensus to force taxpayers to fund abortion, doubling down on extremism to appease an increasingly radical base,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “This bill is too extreme to pass the Senate and is a major political liability for pro-abortion Democrats.”

PHOTO: Anti-abortion activists rally on Foley Square in New York on March 25, 2021.
Lev Radin/Sipa USA via AP, FILELev Radin/Sipa USA via AP, FILEAnti-abortion activists rally on Foley Square in New York on March 25, 2021.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the chairwoman of the panel that handles health care spending in the Senate, acknowledged to ABC News the reality that the votes just aren’t there for the spending bill to pass the chamber without the Hyde Amendment.

“Well I support it,” she said of the amendment’s exclusion. “But I have to have the votes and that’s what we’re looking at.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, state legislatures in 16 states have passed more than 80 abortion restrictions this year alone. Advocates on both sides of the aisle are bracing for the Supreme Court, with its new conservative majority, to hear a major case challenging the current abortion right precedents established in Roe v. Wade.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/democrats-advance-spending-bill-overturn-hyde-amendment/story?id=78805054&fbclid=IwAR0ao9Jpp9zhbEzh8bKpoqigS5ZpqJ2mlR9bCp0NtFNRUgFiLtfUgZogK5c

Texas is one of four states that enacted a six-week abortion ban this year.
 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

States enacted 90 abortion restrictions in the first six months of 2021, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

We’re only halfway through 2021, and it’s already the worst year for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973. States have enacted 90 abortion restrictions so far, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

That’s already more anti-abortion laws than in all of 2011, which used to be the worst year on record. Congratulations, 2021. You did it!

These new laws include pre-viability abortion bans (which are, you may remember, unconstitutional), attempts to close down clinics, restrictions on medication abortion, and much more. Arkansas and Oklahoma tried to ban abortion entirely, and four other states enacted new six-week abortion bans; one of those states, Texas, went even further—by giving any regular person the power to sue an abortion provider to enforce the ban.

Eight states enacted new restrictions on medication abortion—a reaction to increased focus on the abortion pill and telemedicine access throughout the pandemic.

And almost all of these laws are in states already hostile to abortion rights.

“If you are not enraged, you are not paying attention,” Elizabeth Nash, Guttmacher’s principal policy associate for state issues, said in a statement. “We’re seeing right-wing ideologues engage in an all-out assault against abortion rights as part of a broad attack on basic human rights that also includes a wave of voter suppression laws and attacks on LGBTQ people, particularly transgender youth.”

According to Guttmacher’s midyear report, “Each additional restriction increases patients’ logistic, financial and legal barriers to care, especially in regions where entire clusters of states are hostile to abortion.”

Many of these laws will be challenged in court on the grounds of unconstitutionality—some will be blocked and never go into effect, just like other pre-viability abortion bans have been in the past. But this is all happening as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the biggest abortion case in decades, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health OrganizationWhen the justices issue a ruling next June, the Court’s conservative majority will have the opportunity to overturn abortion rights precedent—and give federal judges a green light to uphold any of the abortion restrictions that anti-choice lawmakers pass.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/07/06/2021-is-already-the-worst-year-for-abortion-rights-on-record/

Medicaid recipients in Colorado will now be able to get a year’s worth of birth control at once.
 Getty Images

Colorado expanded access to reproductive health care for survivors of sexual violence and undocumented immigrants.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill last Tuesday to expand contraceptive coverage to undocumented immigrants. It was the state’s latest move to protect reproductive health access, after a legislative session that made abortion more accessible for survivors of sexual violence.

The bill, SB 9, ensures undocumented Coloradans can access affordable and free birth control and other family planning services. Medicaid recipients in the state will now be allowed to get a year’s worth of birth control at once, regardless of their immigration status.

This makes Colorado one of only a few states to offer reproductive health benefits to undocumented residents.

And in May, Polis signed SB 142 into law, ensuring that rape survivors who become pregnant can access abortion care anywhere in the state. The law undoes a decades-old restriction that required survivors to travel to a facility that Medicaid approves in order to access abortion covered by public health insurance.

Madeleine Schmidt wrote about the restriction for Rewire News Group in March:

The few patients who do qualify for a Medicaid-covered abortion can only get care at a hospital. Because most hospitals only offer abortion during medical emergencies, the only option available for low-income Coloradans who use Medicaid and become pregnant after surviving sexual violence is in Denver … For those living in rural parts of the state, the restriction forces them to make a long and costly journey rather than getting care at a more convenient local abortion provider.

“A patient’s income or ZIP code should never determine their access to quality health care,” Dr. Kristina Tocce, vice president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a statement. “This new law eliminates additional stress, expense, and inequality.”

2021 has been the most volatile year for abortion restrictions in decades. Lawmakers across the country have enacted a whopping 90 restrictions since January. Only a few states have, like Colorado, taken legislative steps to protect abortion access.

Reproductive health providers and advocates hope more state lawmakers will look to Colorado as an example when it comes to protecting access—a charge more critical than ever, as a Supreme Court stacked with conservative judges prepares to hear a case that could upend abortion rights.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/07/12/colorado-makes-abortion-and-birth-control-more-accessible/?fbclid=IwAR1nd4_r39qVWHdSEpwLX4I1-b31r33R23Bq-tO_rB_9ESgXpmt1vdPOz5I

PHOTOGRAPH: SHANA NOVAK/GETTY IMAGES

A new study finds that making contraceptives and reproductive care accessible through a state-funded program in Colorado reduced the dropout rate for young women.

IN 2009, COLORADO’S public health department launched an initiative that helped family planning clinics expand access to low- or no-cost contraceptives and reproductive health care. By 2016, the state’s birth rate fell 54 percent for women ages 15 to 19, and the abortion rate fell 63 percent among the same age group.

“We were shocked by the reduction of the abortion and unintended pregnancy rates, but happy it was having this effect,” says Angela Fellers LeMire, interim program manager of the Colorado Family Planning Program, which oversaw the initiative. “Everyone in the field and at the state health department felt good about the work we were doing.”

Now, a study published in May in Science Advances shows that the Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) had one more benefit: More young women graduated from high school. Researchers at the University of Colorado campuses in Boulder and Denver, in collaboration with those at the US Census Bureau, conducted the study.

Using state American Community Survey and other census data from 2009 to 2017, the authors compared graduation rates in Colorado before and after the state adopted the family planning program with those of 17 other states without such policies. The researchers estimated that the program reduced the percentage of Colorado women between the ages of 20 and 22 without a high school diploma by 14 percent. This resulted, they estimated, in an additional 3,800 women born between the years 1994 and 1996 who graduated from high school by their early twenties.

“As someone who studies the subject, I was surprised. I didn’t expect to see this big an effect,” says lead study author Amanda Stevenson, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

For decades, the link between birth control access and educational or other achievements has been mostly anecdotal. Part of the rationale behind family planning programs, including the federal Title X program–which provides reproductive health services, including birth control, for low-income and uninsured residents–is that controlling fertility offers other potential socioeconomic benefits, like the ability for people to complete their education. The new study, says Emily Johnston, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, which conducts economic and social policy research, is “addressing a question the field has long been interested in: What are the impacts, beyond fertility, on people’s lives?”

“Up to now, evidence regarding the effects of contraception on women’s education and opportunities comes from the 1960s and 1970s, but a lot has changed since then,” Martha Bailey, a professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote to WIRED in an email. “This paper shows that access to contraception may still help women take advantage of opportunities and boost their prospects in the labor market.”

To home in on whether access to birth control–as opposed to other variables like access to abortion or adoption services, school quality, fertility rates, or the presence of school programs for pregnant women–was key in contributing to the increase in graduation rates, the authors compared the changes observed in Colorado to that set of 17 other states. (The comparison states were Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.) These states had similar overall high school graduation rates and state policies, like expanded Medicaid insurance coverage. “Anything is possible, but we didn’t find any statewide policy changes that affected these factors,” Stevenson says.

Another factor that could have influenced pregnancies and high school graduation rates would have been if teenagers had become less sexually active. But, Johnston says, it’s unlikely that Colorado would be unique. “You would have to have reason to believe that sexual activity was changing in ways that were different for different states,” she says.

Johnston adds that, while she is confident in the results, one limitation of the study is the small Black and Asian populations in Colorado. Given studies that report racial and ethnic disparities in contraception access and use, it may be challenging to extrapolate whether the results of such an initiative would apply to states with more diverse populations, or to a national program. That suggests the need for a further analysis of family planning programs in other states.

Another question is whether it would be useful to compare the high school graduation rates for young Colorado men whose partners become pregnant to those of men from other states. “For our study, we focused on women, but we think there could be effects on young men,” Stevenson says. For instance, expanded access to contraception may benefit men because it would make them less likely to drop out of school to support a pregnant partner.

Full state funding for Colorado’s initiative only lasted through June 2015, although it received some temporary funding from different organizations for 2015-2016. Since then, Colorado’s family planning program has relied on a combination of state and federal funding. Recently, Colorado lawmakers proposed a bill to expand access to birth control and other reproductive health services through the state’s Medicaid program. If passed, it could help boost state funding to continue the initiative.

2017 analysis by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found that offering contraception benefited the state budget: It had saved Colorado nearly $70 million that would have been spent on programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and family aid.

The program also improved people’s access not just to birth control, but to clinicians who can provide other aspects of reproductive health care. According to Jody Steinauer, the vice chair of education at the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, this is essential. “Access means that someone is able to receive contraceptive counseling that is comprehensive,” she says. “We don’t want to be coercive in how we provide contraceptive care and make people pay for which method is right for them.”

“I’m thrilled that they did the study,” Steinauer continues, adding that the research “builds support for more community-level engagement and commitment to provide contraception access for all people, and it strengthens the policy argument” more directly for access for teens.

Ultimately, says Stevenson, birth control and family planning programs like the CFPI can have a long-term economic effect not only for the state, but for individual women and their families. “It’s not just the case that if you spend money on contraceptives, there will be fewer births,” Stevenson says. “Empowering people to control their fertility lets them invest in their futures in a different way. It makes people’s lives better. If more people graduate from high school, that’s good for all of us.”

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/access-to-birth-control-let-more-girls-graduate-high-school/