Abortion

Abortion.com Find an Abortion Provider

Call for a provider near you (800) 804-8868

Abortion Care – Abortion Pill – Abortion Medical – Late Term Abortion

Physician Meera Shah, right, in late October with a patient at Whole Woman’s Health in South Bend, Ind. (Taylor Glascock for The Washington Post)

NEW YORK to SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With the New York City skyline melting into the distance, Meera Shah looked out over the pink sunset, trying to relax as she settled in for the nearly three-hour flight to Chicago.

Heavy rain splashed against the plane’s windows. Some of the passengers — football fans headed to the Notre Dame game in Indiana — were talking about news of high winds in Chicago causing delays.

Shah needed to make her connection. She had patients waiting.

The New York physician was on her monthly commute to South Bend — an 800-mile trip across four states — to perform abortions. She is among about 50 doctors who travel regularly to 20 states, logging hundreds of miles, crisscrossing time zones to provide abortions in places where patients would otherwise not have access, according to Mary Frank, director of strategic initiatives at the National Abortion Federation, an association of providers. The doctors are paid by the clinics they serve.

Shah and other doctors who do such work say that their services have never been needed more — and that their commitment has never been stronger, with the nation at the most significant moment for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade made the procedure legal in 1973. Abortion opponents are optimistic that Roe will be overturned when a newly conservative Supreme Court rules next year on a Mississippi abortion ban, following arguments heard Wednesday. A Texas law that bans nearly all abortions after six weeks — the strictest in the country — is also being reviewed by the high court.

But even if Roe v. Wade is upheld, abortion rights advocates worry there will not be enough doctors to perform the procedure. That fear is part of what drives Shah.

“The commute is exhausting, of course, but I’ve seen firsthand how this care is so important to a patient’s autonomy over their own body,” said Shah, 38.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Shah sees her work as part of her identity as a doctor and her commitment to social justice. She was back to her South Bend commute two days after her honeymoon this summer to see patients at a Whole Woman’s Health Alliance clinic.

“I literally fly all this way to hand out medication abortion pills,” she said. “I do what a nurse practitioner is trained to do and is already doing in some states,” she said, adding that a key strategy of abortion opponents has been to place layers of restrictions on providers and clinics.

So Shah flies to South Bend about once a month and stays anywhere from 24 hours to two days. The South Bend clinic also has a rotation of doctors who drive in from nearby states, including one from Kentucky.Roe under threat: One doctor’s journey to provide abortion careAn abortion doctor from Kansas City, Mo., travels across state lines every month to provide care at clinics in the Midwest. (Whitney Leaming, Alice Li/The Washington Post)

When abortion was first legalized, the antiabortion movement targeted women who sought the procedure, labeling them “sluts” and “murderers,” said Carole Joffe, a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco. “But this proved to be a losing strategy,” Joffe said. So the movement turned to “the harassment and vilification of abortion providers instead.”

“It’s not just fear of antiabortion violence or harassment that inhibits abortion provision by local doctors,” Joffe said, adding: “Abortion stigma plays a role. In some practices, when doctors join group practices, they are obligated to sign a statement that they will not provide abortions — even away from the group’s office, in a clinic.”

Pamela Merritt, executive director of the nonprofit Medical Students for Choice, said training more doctors to perform abortions will “be a key battle in the fight to maintain and increase access” to the procedure. “Fewer clinics means higher demand at all other clinics,” she said. “And that means fewer openings for training, because clinics simply do not have the time.”

Abortion rights activists also hope that the efforts to ban abortion will inspire a new generation of doctors who, like Shah, are committed to offering what she calls “compassionate care.” Medical Students for Choice added chapters at 10 U.S. medical schools this year, with an estimated 300 additional members, Merritt said.

‘I have to make it’

Shah’s flight from New York had a rough landing and was over an hour late. So she sprinted nearly a mile through sprawling O’Hare International Airport to try to make her connection. She was too late — it had already taken off.

Zigzagging through the crowds of stranded passengers, she found a virtual customer-service kiosk and was able to retrieve her luggage at baggage claim.

With so many travelers stranded, there were no rental cars available. So Shah improvised and calls an Uber — the nearly two-hour ride to South Bend would cost about the same as renting a car for 48 hours.

“Patients may have taken a day off of work or traveled hundreds of miles or set up child care,” she said. “I have to make it.”

She got in the car around 10 p.m. On the way, she called ahead to her hotel.

“Please don’t give away my room,” she pleaded. It’s happened before when she’s arrived late during the busy football season. “I promise — I’m on my way.”

After the drive through darkness and rain, she arrived in South Bend by midnight.

The next morning, Shah was up early. Dressed in dark blue scrubs, she grabbed a frozen breakfast burrito from the hotel lobby, filled her travel mug with English-breakfast tea and headed to the clinic.

On the ride over, she saw the antiabortion billboards that dotted the skyline. She passed the campus of the University of Notre Dame, famous for football and its towering “Touchdown Jesus” mural.

Across the highway from the clinic, the Women’s Care Center attempted to lure her patients away with offers of free pregnancy tests.

Escort April Lidinsky, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Indiana University South Bend, held a big rainbow umbrella to block patients from the few protesters who had shown up.

She shuffled Shah in as the demonstrators held up crosses and gestured toward the pregnancy center across the street, shouting, “We love you and your baby!”

Inside, inspirational messages are painted on the walls to welcome patients: “Look at our women. They are strong, you can feel it. They are the rocks on which we really build,” a quote from labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta. Exam rooms are named after female cultural icons — Diana Ross, Ella Fitzgerald, Audre Lorde. Clinic workers wear purple T-shirts with “Kicking politicians out of vaginas since 2003” on the back.

On a table in the waiting room is a book titled “You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion,” which was written by Shah and includes a note inside that says, “Meera Shah is your physician today.”

Shah wrote the book to illustrate the range of people who get abortions and counter the stereotypes about them. She tells the stories of a rabbi who had an abortion because it was not the right time for her to become a parent, a young woman who advocated for herself before a judge in West Virginia to get an abortion without parental consent, and an Indian woman who questioned her desire to parent after she was abused growing up.

Shah, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic in Hudson, N.Y., also wanted to show readers the next generation of providers. She wants children of her own someday and often shows off photos of her niece and nephew on her phone.

“I would do anything for them,” said Shah, a family-medicine doctor specializing in sexual and reproductive health. But she said she feels just as strongly that pregnant people have the right to make decisions about their bodies.

For many young doctors like Shah, making sure access to abortions remains safe and legal is a mission, particularly in underserved communities, Joffe said.

“There’s a new generation of doctors — disproportionately female, many of them people of color — who are committed to providing abortion precisely because of the assault on abortion rights,” Joffe said. “They realize that the attack on abortion impacts the most vulnerable in our society. They see it as a social justice issue.”

About 50 percent of abortion patients live below the federal poverty line, 25 percent just above it, Joffe said. About 60 percent also already have children.

Joffe and other abortion rights advocates fear a return to the pre-Roe era when people turned to untrained or poorly trained individuals for abortions — and in many cases died or suffered permanent injury from botched procedures performed under unsanitary conditions.

“The image of the butcher dominated the medical imagination, and helped keep abortion providers marginalized from rest of mainstream medicine . . . even though the post-Roe providers were largely ethical and skilled.”

Shah’s book opens with a scene in a Target in her hometown in the South. She describes bumping into a woman who looked like “Mrs. Claus or even Betty White” while in the greeting-card aisle. The woman notices Shah’s black-and silver stethoscope and asks whether she was a nurse.

She tells the woman she’s a doctor, and the woman asks what kind.

“At that point in my life,” Shah writes, “this question was tricky for me.”

Shah said she rarely disclosed that she provided abortion care, especially while in the Bible Belt. But something about the woman’s questions made her finally “come out” to the shopper and tell her that, along with family medicine, she is an abortion provider.

The woman pauses for a moment. Shah holds her breath, “suddenly afraid my casual Target run was about to turn into an altercation.”

Instead the woman leans in and says: “I’ve had an abortion. In fact, I’ve had two.”

The woman says her first abortion was when she was young. The second was when she already had two children.”

“You’re the only one I’ve told,” she whispers to Shah, touching her arm.

“Ever?” Shah asks.

“Ever,” the woman says.

‘It’s not their life’

In the clinic’s waiting room, a soft-spoken, rail-thin 18-year-old described how she thought the people at the women’s center across the street would help her get an abortion when they coaxed her over. Instead, they sent her home with information about the “bliss of motherhood” and “mental illness” that comes with abortion, along with photos of a smiling pregnant woman. Then they started calling her.

“I told them I wanted an abortion, and at first I didn’t really know what they were doing,” the teenager said. “Then I told them, ‘It’s really not your guys’ decision.’ ”

After a few more phone calls, “they sounded all disappointed, but I couldn’t really understand why,” she said. “It’s not their life. They won’t be getting up with that baby in the middle of the night.”

They texted and called so many times, she said, that she eventually blocked their number because they refused to stop.

When her name was called at the clinic, she was led to a private counseling room.

“Did you bring anyone with you today?” Shah asked.

“My grandma,” said the patient, who was wearing Crocs with a rainbow charm on one and a popcorn charm on the other. “She’s waiting in the car with my 6-month-old daughter. She’s teething. She broke my TV.”

“She’s a handful,” she added, smiling a little, then looking down and fiddling with her phone.

The exam room was named for poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. The teen looked up at an Angelou quote painted in cursive on the wall: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Shah began to read from a script required by Indiana law, but she added, “I don’t agree with this as your doctor.”

The mandated script includes medically disputed information such as, “A human fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks,” and that abortion can cause infertility later.

“Both not true,” Shah told her patient.

Shah performed an ultrasound and told the teen the gestational age of the fetus was seven weeks and four days.

She printed out the image, put it and the state-mandated information into an envelope and told her she could read it — or not.

“I’m ready for the abortion,” the teen said. “Can I do it today?”

“Great question,” Shah said. “State law requires that you come back in 18 hours.”

“Really? Why can’t I just do it today?” she asked.

Shah explained again that state law requires the waiting period.

The teen lowered her head and said quietly: “I understand. Thank you.”

“I’m already in a tough domestic-violence situation,” she said.

She shared cellphone photos of evidence of beatings she said were from her daughter’s father when she was pregnant with her first child, leaving her with a bruised eye and head wound. She was able to get a protective order against him.

“Good,” Shah said, gently touching her back.

“I just can’t have another baby right now. My body isn’t ready.”

Savannah

In the break room, clinic staffers discussed what might happen if Roe is overturned. But they had full schedule of patients and knew they needed to take a break to eat if they were going to keep their energy up. They passed around menus from a Vietnamese restaurant. Shah rarely has time to eat, but she paid the tab for the staff.

Next on Shah’s schedule was Savannah, a 29-year-old with children ages 6 and 1 at home. She rushed in when her name was called.

“I have to take my kids trick-or-treating after we talk,” she said.

She explained that she was there for an abortion because she just had a baby. Her birth control failed. She is studying criminal justice with hopes of becoming a lawyer. She is a former methamphetamine addict who earned money dancing in a strip club, but she couldn’t work after becoming pregnant and ended up homeless. Now, she said she had turned her life around and is trying to be a good mother to the children she already has.

“For me, for my sobriety, for me finally being able to get an education, I don’t want another child right now,” she said, adding she had given it a lot of thought. She was about seven weeks pregnant.

Savannah had been volunteering for Planned Parenthood, working the phones to tell callers there is nothing to be ashamed of in having an abortion and making sure they know their rights: “I’ve spoken to women and say, ‘It’s your life.’ These men in government, telling you what to do, don’t know your life. Have they ever been a pregnant, homeless stripper? No. At the very least they should mind their own business. That’s all they have to do.”

She told Shah that she thinks she’s brave for doing the work she does — providing abortion services. And she was impressed that she came all the way from New York.

“Wow, that’s very admirable,” she told Shah. “Thank you.”

“Don’t worry about me,” Shah said. “I’m actually honored to be able to care for you.”

A caption in an earlier version of this story misspelled Dr. Shah’s name. This version has been corrected.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/this-doctor-commutes-800-miles-to-provide-abortion-services-in-underserved-communities/2021/12/01/0671316e-417d-11ec-a3aa-0255edc02eb7_story.html

This abortion pills mural in Los Angeles is one of the installations happening around the country for abortion rights.
 Mural and photo by No Touching Ground in Los Angeles

Shout Your Abortion aims to shift the conversation on abortion pills—and its founder is taking mifepristone in front of the Supreme Court.

In 2014, Amelia Bonow had an abortion. A year later, when Planned Parenthood was under attack in Congress, Bonow shared her story on Facebook. Her friend, writer Lindy West, screenshot the post and shared it to her own Facebook with the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion.

This set off a chain of events that would birth (pun heavily intended) an organization by that name, along with a nationwide movement aimed at radically reframing the abortion conversation toward an unapologetic and uncensored embrace of abortion as a social good—and as health care.

As advocates prepare for oral arguments this morning at the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Shout Your Abortion will once again be working to shift the abortion discourse. Their focus today? Abortion pills.

Rewire News Group spoke with Bonow ahead of what promises to be a day of energetic activism by SYA, with banners and billboards, vending machines and art installations, all aimed at raising awareness of the accessibility and safety of abortion pills. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Bonow’s message? Fuck the Supreme Court—we’re doing it anyway.

Rewire News Group: Can you tell us how this action started?

Amelia Bonow: SYA has been watching the conversation about abortion pills move forward over the last couple of years. And then over the course of the pandemic, right as Republicans were lining up checkmate on the legal stuff, things just got dialed in really quickly in terms of service provision. Pills have become a new reality of abortion care—clearly something that has the power to make early abortion more accessible than it’s ever been, even in the face of whatever anti-choice legislation we’re about to see in coming years.

So one major factor in putting together this action is that relatively few people are aware that abortion pills are now widely available by mail in all 50 states, and that needs to become common knowledge ASAP.

The Court is about to take away a 50-year-old constitutional right, in a striking example of minority rule, both in terms of the makeup of the courts and in terms of the fact that 77 percent of the population supports Roe. But looking at social media, looking at the signs in people’s yards, looking at just the lack of people in the streets, it feels like we are descending into hell, and people outside of our movement seemingly don’t have much to say about it.

And I think that silence is a huge part of the reason why politicians on both sides do not seem to feel political pressure around abortion. Given what polling tells us, people should be approaching passing an abortion ban in their state like it could potentially end their political career. Politicians don’t feel that pressure, in part because so many people’s pro-choice beliefs are quietly and privately held. And we need to enter a new era, where folks understand that being quietly pro-choice isn’t enough, and that silence is a part of the reason why we’re living in a country where the legislation of this issue does not match popular opinion or needs or values. I think that we need to push folks into that new era.

It’s time to completely raise hell. It’s time to shut this country down. It’s a fucking coup. All of us who work in repro are so used to people being like, “I’m uncomfortable with you saying abortion, or how you’re talking about it.” That’s a weird thing to be uncomfortable with at this moment. I would really like more people to be outwardly uncomfortable with the fact that abortion is rapidly becoming a class privilege, you know?

Why did you choose abortion pills as the rallying cry behind this action?

AB: Abortion pills are widely available, and they have the power to greatly mitigate the harm done by anti-choice legislation. And also, we have no faith in this Court to protect our 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion, but beyond that, we completely reject the idea that they ever had the moral authority to tell us we are not allowed to end our pregnancies.

Fuck this Court, we’re doing it anyway. And yes, we are going to continue fighting tooth and nail, every single legal fight, because of course we know that criminalization will target the most marginalized among us. And yes, we will keep fighting to keep every abortion clinic open as long as possible, especially independent clinics that provide the vast majority of care later in pregnancy. Pills do not and will not work for everyone, and we still need to fight to keep clinics open, as many clinics for as long as possible, and also bolster the capacity of clinics in neighboring states like Texas or wherever the next ban goes into effect.

For many decades we’ve held signs that are about protecting our rights. And I am really interested in pushing forth the idea that our right to bodily autonomy is inexorable. I’m not asking any court for permission. I want people to think, “Oh, my state is passing an abortion ban? Fuck that, I can still have an abortion, and there are networks and organizations and resources that are going to help me do that and help me stay safe in the process.”

We need to start talking about how to have illegal abortions that are medically safe because a whole lot of people are going to need to. And I think we need to separate those things consciously at this point: safety and legality. Especially now that pills have arrived on the scene and are safer than Viagra and Tylenol.

And when you think about it, what’s more dangerous than an unwanted pregnancy?

There is a legal risk with pills, especially for marginalized folks. Talk a little bit about that.

AB: The demographic that faces disproportionate legal risk for acquiring or using abortion pills is the exact same demographic that needs to know that they exist and how to minimize and mitigate whatever legal risk there may be, so that they can acquire and use these very safe drugs without facing unjust consequences. The fact that we know more and more states are going to start criminalizing pills is all the more reason to push this conversation forward right now and help direct people towards organizations like If/When/How and resources like the Repro Legal Helpline so that people know what their options are and can navigate that risk assessment themselves and know that there are resources to help them in the process. We know that this shit is less safe the more alone that people feel.

There are also resources like the miscarriage and abortion hotline that are staffed by anonymous pro-abortion medical professionals that will take the call of anybody who’s experiencing pregnancy loss, and will offer medical advice and support them through the process, if something is happening that seems weird or seems scary.

I think we need to acknowledge the fact that many, many people are going to be having illegal abortions, and also that those abortions can still be medically safe and there are ways to mitigate legal risk. And let’s not talk about legality and safety in one breath in a way that deters people from finding safer avenues within a legal minefield. I also think raising public consciousness about pills can help provide cover for more marginalized populations to access them, because it makes it more normative.

What can we expect from SYA today?

AB: A lot of people in the streets shouting about abortion pills from the rooftops in all sorts of different ways, all over the country. We made posters, yard signs, stencils, these gigantic highway signs that are the size of a couch. We printed and distributed thousands of these things to partners and activists all over the country, and we also created a toolkit where folks can print those assets themselves.

We have a giant digital billboard truck that says “abortion pills” driving around Hollywood for eight hours and a plane with a giant banner that says “share abortion pill info” flying over Arizona. We also printed 10,000 of these small boxes that say “abortion pills”; inside of this box is a card that links to our pop-up website that we built—that is shareabortionpill.info.

And we’re distributing these boxes all over the country in a range of ways: There’s an artist in Los Angeles that’s building a Supreme Court-shaped installation in a gallery, there are four vending machines full of pill boxes in Arizona, and a claw machine full of boxes at an arcade in Brooklyn. And dozens of organizers all over the country are distributing them into drug stores and coffee shops and all sorts of places in small guerilla ways. And then also we are bringing a thousand of these boxes to the Court with us on December 1, where a group of us are convening.

And here is the best part of all: Four of us are going to stand with a banner that says, “We are taking abortion pills forever,” and we are going to take mifepristone in front of the court.

All of us procured our abortion pills legally through Aid Access, which is now offering advanced provision, meaning you can get these pills whether you’re pregnant or not, just to have around the house. This action is not only about elevating information about this potentially lifesaving, totally urgent public health bulletin that is the existence of abortion pills, but it’s about us standing in front of this court and taking these pills and just radiating, “Fuck you, this is completely out of your hands, you will never stop us,” energy. And also, “Fuck you, Stephen Breyer, retire bitch. You dusty old bitch.”

This country is unlivable without abortion. And if you give a fuck about economic justice or racial justice, or just basic human rights and who is allowed to exercise those rights, you should be shutting this country the fuck down right now. I’m so sick of seeing people who talk about every other political issue on Twitter or wherever and have never said a word about abortion. If you’re not saying shit, you really are part of the problem.

I want to just rip this issue out of this siloed little feminist activist corner of “lady stuff” and just drop it into America’s lap like a bleeding head and just say: This is a fucking nightmare. Welcome to it. Freak out with us.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/12/01/its-time-to-raise-hell-activists-today-are-shouting-about-abortion-pills/

Getty Images

As Roe v Wade faces a direct challenge, criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, local judges and cops begin to lay out what it would look like to criminalize abortionby 

In the early 1970s, law enforcement leaders in Chicago decided the practice of illegal abortion was intolerable in their city and, in a mostly forgotten chapter of history, undertook a campaign to root out those who performed the procedure in secret.

On a tip, police turned their attention to “Call Jane”, a feminist collective of young women who, since 1965, had provided safe but illegal abortions to roughly 3,000 Chicagoans per year. The collective was raided after two Catholic women told police their sister-in-law planned to have an abortion performed by the group.

Chicago homicide detective was assigned to the case and traced “Jane” to the South Shore neighborhood, bordered by the blue waters of Lake Michigan. There, police raided an apartment, arrested nearly 50 people for questioning, and sent three women who were actively undergoing abortion treatment to the hospital.

Seven women were charged with 11 counts of performing an abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion. They would soon be dubbed the “Abortion Seven” by newspapers. But the Call Jane members protected people they served – they even ate index cards detailing patients’ contact information.

Then, in 1973, the Abortion Seven had a reprieve. Prosecutors abandoned the case when supreme court justices issued a landmark ruling in the case of Roe v Wade, effectively legalizing abortion across the US.

In Roe, the court affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion was a constitutional right. The court ruled that states could not ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, roughly considered to be 24 weeks gestation (a full term pregnancy is considered to be 39 weeks).

Now, Roe faces a direct challenge. US supreme court justices have taken up the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Clinic, in which they will consider whether the state of Mississippi can ban nearly all abortion from 15 weeks. Abortion advocates believe the choice to take the case implies that at last four justices see it as a chance to reconsider the precedent set by Roe.

Oral arguments in the case are set to be heard on 1 December, with a ruling expected in June 2022. But already, pro-choice campaigners are warning of a future where abortion may no longer be legal in the majority of the US, and where prosecutions like that of the “Call Jane” collective could once again become a reality.

In court briefs and reports, defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, international human rights experts and academics have begun to unpick what a return to illegal abortion might look like in a country with a vast law enforcement apparatus, with the world’s largest incarcerated population, and with women as America’s fastest growing imprisoned demographic.

“It’s like a thought experiment – to think about what ‘Call Jane’ would look like,” in the modern era, said Cynthia Conti-Cook, a technology fellow with the Ford Foundation. Her work in gender, racial and ethnic justice explores how law enforcement could use the data produced by digital infrastructure – phones, internet browsers, social media – to prosecute people who seek or aid abortions, should Roe v Wade be overturned, and the procedure become illegal in some states once again.

A single mobile phone could reveal the entire collective, Conti-Cook warned. Just one encounter with law enforcement – a traffic stop, a search, an arrest – could expose the entire network “through digital connections”.

‘So much harsher’

With the supreme court scheduled to hear oral arguments on the most consequential abortion rights case in nearly five decades this week, Conti-Cook is not the only person entertaining such thoughts.

If Roe v Wade were to be overturned, at least 26 states hostile to abortion would outlaw abortion either immediately or as quickly as possible, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization. Abortion advocates believe this would probably result in desperate people (who have the resources) seeking abortions in more liberal states where the procedure remains legal, such as Illinois or New York. In just one example, Louisiana has passed a “trigger law” designed to outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned. A person from Louisiana seeking an abortion would need to reach Kansas to obtain one legally.

However, most people are unlikely to make that long, expensive and arduous journey. Campaigners warn that poor, young and people of color are far more likely to turn to illegal methods, creating another layer of racism and classism in the criminal justice system, alongside the same preventable public health disaster seen before Roe.

Miriam Krinsky, the executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, a group that educates newly elected local prosecutors, said her group’s brief filed to the supreme court regarding the Mississippi case “reflects a growing recognition that overturning 50 years of precedent and potentially criminalizing personal healthcare decisions could have incredibly dire consequences”. The brief was co-signed by nearly 100 prosecutors, police and high-ranking former Department of Justice officials.

“This is not just blue, urban-area elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders – these are leaders from New York and California and everywhere in between – urban, rural, red states, blue states. District attorneys in Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Wisconsin,” said Krinsky, speaking about those who signed the brief. “It’s not just a voice that comes from so-called ‘liberal bastions’.”

The nation’s preeminent association for defense attorneys has also published a report ahead of the oral arguments that lays out a future in which the US could undertake “rampant criminalization” and “mass incarceration on an unprecedented scale” in the name of the unborn.

“States are laying the groundwork now, and have been laying the groundwork for criminal penalties that are completely different,” than the pre-Roe era, said Lindsay A Lewis, a criminal defense attorney in New York who co-authored a report on abortion for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL), the first such report in the organization’s history.

“They are so much more advanced, and so much harsher than what existed before Roe was enacted.”

State legislatures have spent recent decades “modifying their criminal codes” in ways that “completely changes the calculus when it comes to what it would mean to go back to pre-Roe times,” said Lewis.

Criminal charges could come from specific abortion laws, but also from criminal codes that penalize attempted crimes, conspiracies and accomplices to crime, all relics laws developed during the US’s so-called war on drugs. Those laws “could subject a wide range of individuals to criminal penalties if Roe is overturned”, the NACDL report outlines, including prosecuting people from states where the procedure is illegal who attempt to seek abortions in states where it remains legal.

For example, Louisiana law defines an “accomplice” to a crime as anyone involved in its commission, even tangentially, whether “present or absent” if they aid, abet or even counsel someone. Experts say this could be deployed against a wide range of friends, loved ones or counselors, such as clergy or abortion fund networks which help shepherd people to clinics.

As Lewis and her co-authors laid out, there are thousands of laws like Louisiana’s across the country. What’s more, recent prosecutions of pregnant people also show how digital evidence can be used as powerful prosecutorial tools.

More than 2,000 police agencies across the US have already purchased “mass extraction” technology that allows them to download, organize and archive a phone’s entire contents. The technology is sometimes called a “window into the soul”. This digital evidence has then been used to identify search queries for abortion pills, including in the prosecution of Latice Fisher, a mother of three in Mississippi.

Fisher gave birth to a stillborn child. The child was pronounced dead at Fisher’s home by emergency responders. Prosecutors used Fisher’s cell phone records to show she had searched for abortion pills online before her child was stillborn, and brought charges against her twice.

Prosecutors dropped the first case amid criticism of an archaic test used to determine whether an infant is born alive. Prosecutors then tried to indict Fisher again, but a grand jury refused to indict her when presented with scientifically accurate information.

“There are many possibilities, and one way that I have tried to imagine what those possibilities could be is looking at the way surveillance technology is used today on investigating crimes related to sex work,” said Conti-Cook.

Conti-Cook said police may choose to set a “honey pot”, in which law enforcement sets up a fake website to entice people seeking abortion pills to provide their contact information. They could use “reverse geo-fencing” technology, to create a digital border around a location of interest – perhaps a clinic – and identify all phones that enter.

“The danger about a world where the states can criminalize abortion, again, is that the tools they have to investigate every crime have increased exponentially with surveillance technology,” said Conti-Cook.

‘Every single one of these is a human rights violation’

Other American historians, such as Leslie J Reagan, the author of When Abortion Was a Crime, have warned of Ceausescu-like regimes where prenatal care becomes about ensuring “all pregnancies are progressing to term”, and authorities monitor menstrual cycles. In Missouri, health department officials have admitted to monitoring periods to identify “failed medical abortions”, part of a bid to close the state’s last abortion clinic.

In a brief to the supreme court, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to health warned that overturning Roe v Wade and banning or criminalizing abortion would be “irreconcilable” with international human rights laws. Even so, some states have already instituted bans, such as Texas, which banned the vast majority of abortions.

Particularly in the south, prosecutions of pregnant people have already taken place recently, even when they have given birth to healthy babies. Advocates said these contested prosecutions, often dropped under public pressure or overturned on appeal, are evidence of the zeal some prosecutors have for criminalizing pregnancy.

Alabama has prosecuted nearly 500 women since 2006 for allegedly exposing a fetus to a “controlled substance” in the womb, even including prescription painkillers. The charge carries a potential 10-year prison sentence, if the child is born healthy (more if the baby is not), and the controlled substance was prescribed to the person under investigation.

“The Alabama supreme court in two decisions says we treat the unborn as persons,” said Lynne Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which has helped provide counsel to people charged under such statutes.

In South Carolina, courts have said the word “child” in state laws should be interpreted to include unborn fetuses, meaning people could be held liable for child abuse during pregnancy. Oklahoma recently sentenced 21-year-old Brittney Poolaw to four years in prison after miscarrying, following use of methamphetamine, though there is no evidence drug use caused the miscarriage.

“The most recent published figures cite 24 people since the year 2000 who have been criminally punished for ending a pregnancy or helping a loved one do so,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, senior counsel and legal director for If/When/How.

Diaz-Tello said her organization is now conducting research which will likely prove twice as many people per year have been prosecuted.

“Every single one of these is a human rights violation,” said Diaz-Tello. “Any non-zero number should be shocking, should be alarming.”

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett speaks to an audience at the 30th anniversary of the University of Louisville McConnell Center, in Kentucky, in September.
Timothy D. Easley/AP Images

That, to put it mildly, is not good news for the future of abortion rights

The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a Mississippi case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. After almost two hours of oral argument, it’s clear that the fate of nationwide legal abortion is now in the hands of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. That’s not good news for the future of abortion rights.

The case argued today involved a ban on abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancyRoe and subsequent Supreme Court cases had been entirely clear that states could not ban abortion before “viability,” a medical term indicating when a fetus has developed enough that it could survive outside a woman on its own (though with extraordinary medical intervention). For most pregnancies, that’s about 23 or 24 weeks.

Because Mississippi’s ban at 15 weeks was a full two months before viability, the lower courts that assessed the law all said it was clearly unconstitutional. This includes the Fifth Circuit, the rabidly conservative and anti-abortion federal appeals court that covers Mississippi. Even that court, which has repeatedly batted away challenges to Texas’s SB 8 and allowed it to go into effect, said Mississippi’s law was unconstitutional under current Supreme Court law.

Mississippi’s only hope was to get the Supreme Court to change the law of abortion under the Constitution. So today, Mississippi asked the court to overturn its abortion precedent. Originally, the state asked the court just to allow it to have a 15-week ban. However, once Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and was replaced by Justice Barrett, Mississippi changed its tune and asked the court to go even further and overturn Roe entirely.

At today’s oral argument, it was eminently clear that Mississippi is going to win. Barring a major surprise, all six conservative justices are going to vote that Mississippi’s law is constitutional. Their questions today indicated that, at a minimum, they are comfortable allowing a state to reduce the period of time someone has to choose to have an abortion by two months.

The only big question that seems to remain after today’s argument is how many of those six justices are going to go even further and rule that not only is a 15-week ban constitutional, but that a complete ban would be constitutional as well. And here’s where we have to do what constitutional lawyers and law professors know is the only real principle of Supreme Court law — how to count to five. Because five is the way to a majority ruling that has the force of law on a nine-member court.

So what do we know about the six conservatives after today’s argument? Chief Justice John Roberts repeatedly asked questions showing that he thought Roe’s viability line was not supported by the Constitution and that a 15-week ban would be a perfectly fine line to draw. He did not seem to indicate he wanted to get rid of Roe entirely.

But he seemed alone in that regard. Predictably, the court’s most conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch — all made basically the same argument that there is nothing in the Constitution that protects a right to abortion. Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined them, focusing much of his time arguing that the Constitution is neutral on abortion and that states and Congress are free to legislate on the topic however they want. (Dear Sen. Susan Collins, you were either lying to us when you said Kavanaugh considered Roe to be settled law or he was lying to you. Let us know which it was.) As he repeatedly said in his questions, courts must stay out of this complex and divisive issue and leave any decisions about abortion to the democratic process.

That’s four votes (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and likely Kavanaugh) to completely overturn Roe and one (Roberts) to limit abortion to 15 weeks, leaving Justice Barrett. Will she join the chief justice in the more-limited ruling or the four others in overturning Roe? Her questions today indicated that she will probably go with the four in getting rid of Roe entirely. She wasn’t as explicit about it as the others, but after initially asking a question about whether overturning Roe would threaten other precedent, she then repeatedly asked about safe-haven laws and how those change the issue. Safe-haven laws are laws that say there’s no criminal penalty for giving up a newborn by anonymously dropping the child off at a police or fire station within a day or two of birth. To Justice Barrett, because women can give up their newborns without any penalty, carrying a pregnancy to term is not too burdensome because they can then go about their lives without being parents.

Barrett didn’t seem at all concerned about the emotional and physical toll nine months of pregnancy takes on someone’s body. Since safe-haven laws — and more generally, the ability to give a child up for adoption — mean, according to Barrett, women won’t be forced to be parents against their will, she was indicating she had no problem with a ban on abortion. And key to the question of whether she would join the chief justice or the other four conservatives, her argument about the importance of safe-haven laws doesn’t change whether the ban on abortion is a complete one or only at fifteen weeks.

In other words, because adoption is available and women can give up their children without penalty, Barrett seems poised to vote with the other four conservatives in overruling Roe entirely and not adopting the chief’s half-measure solution.

Nothing is set in stone until the decision is announced to the public (likely at the end of June), but the writing is on the wall, today clearer than ever before, that Roe is going to be overturned. And after today’s oral argument, everyone needs to start preparing themselves for a country where over half its states ban abortion.

Source: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/abortion-supreme-court-amy-coney-barrett-mississippi-1265450/

If you’re organizing a demonstration, remember that protest and demonstration look different for everyone.
 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Protest and demonstration look different for everyone, so planning for these moments in history must include disabled people. Our voices are important.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the most consequential abortion case in decades, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Nothing short of the future of Roe v. Wade is on the line, and advocates and activists will descend on Washington, D.C., to demonstrate in front of the Court to make their voices heard.

Political protest and demonstrations are central to democracy. The right to peaceably assemble is written into our Constitution. And whenever our country finds itself in a moment of social change or turmoil, political demonstrations are a fixture. After the 2016 presidential election, people came from all over the country to flood the streets of Washington; more recently, in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd, demonstrations took place all over the country for weeks.

But demonstrations are not the only way to participate in these pivotal moments in history, and for members of the disability community, being physically present at a rally or march may present challenges that able-bodied people never have to consider. Likewise, the rhetoric around protests and showing up in the moment can exclude those for whom in-person participation is not an option.

As a disabled person, I’ve seen all of this firsthand. Ableism is unfortunately pervasive, even in progressive spaces. And it’s not uncommon for the discourse around social change to reflect that—with comments implying that not showing up for a rally or demonstration signals apathy or that engaging in other forms of advocacy, like sharing resources on social media, is simply virtue signaling.

I am excited to witness all the incredible advocacy at the Supreme Court on Wednesday—to see activists coming together and making their presence known, while demanding abortion be recognized as health care and the fundamental right it is. But if, like me, that kind of engagement isn’t an option for you, it can feel like you’re not doing enough.

Participating in physical demonstrations is not the only way to engage in moments like this, and the actions disabled people like me take are enough. They are valid. If you’re a disabled person, though, it can be tough to know how to participate when it feels like everyone is physically on their way to Washington.

I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve found my own way to participate in these moments. For example, during the police protests, I offered to answer men’s suiting questions (I have a side gig as a menswear stylist and writer) with proceeds going to the NAACP. I also raised roughly $3,000 for bail funds by offering my Twitter followers a nude photo in exchange for a bail fund receipt. (I’m proud of the hashtags I created for this: #BoobsForBail and #ButtForBail.) Beyond that, I share as many resources as I can on social media and with my peers. As a journalist, I’m lucky enough to be able to write about these issues, which is how I’ll be spending the day of oral arguments Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

As I worked on this piece, I made a call-out on Twitter to find out how other disabled folks show up for the issues that matter to them. Many take part in advocating on social media, sharing posts and other information, as well as donating when they can. They also send postcards to elected officials and create social media posts of their own to help spread awareness. And some folks said they donate their skills and resources to organizations free of charge, things like helping organizations with data entry. One person said they take part in car cruise protests, which can be more comfortable for disabled people for whom standing or walking for long periods of time is untenable. Each of these actions is as critical and impactful as showing up in person.

If you’re organizing a demonstration, remember that protest and demonstration look different for everyone. So here are some quick tips to ensure your advocacy is as inclusive and ableism-free as possible.

Language matters: If I had a dollar for every time I saw a tweet that said, roughly, “If you’re not showing up at a protest, do you even care?” I’d be rich. So let me cut to the chase: Don’t do this. Don’t say anything like it. It signals that you have no awareness of disability or chronic illness, and it implies that people who don’t engage physically in demonstrations aren’t valid activists. If you want to invite people to be present at your rally, say something like, “Join us if you can!” or “Join us if you’re able!” These differences may seem small, but they matter.

Consider disabled people in your planning: I can’t speak for all disabled people, but I know I would partake in more in-person demonstrations if the planning involved the needs of disabled people—if I knew before going to a rally that there was going to be ample seating, or if the details of a march included restrooms or places to stop and sit along the way. And the best way to meet the needs of disabled people? Include us in your planning. If your team doesn’t have a disabled person on it, chances are you’re going to exclude us.

Build options into your action items: While every disabled person I spoke with was invested in creating protest options that meet their needs, it would be even better if the organizers of rallies and demonstrations build options for disabled people into their plans. That might mean providing a livestream of the rally that folks can join remotely, or maybe you have a way for folks to get involved on social media—like a hashtag to share or a petition to share and sign. This #AbortionIsEssential toolkit for digital action is a great example. Again, including disabled people in this process should not be optional. Our voices are important.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/11/30/as-a-disabled-person-this-is-how-im-rallying-for-abortion/?utm_campaign=rng-2021q4-dobbs-args&utm_medium=post&utm_source=facebook-rng&fbclid=IwAR3iZ1ImrSaM0dOyGR_d9OLzPE87HMXGVKCkKfgDGZ0WdBkslO1CE0Q9Ufk

By Robert Barnes
 and 
Shelly Tan
 

The Supreme Court on Dec. 1 will consider the most serious challenge in decades to its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that there is a constitutional right to abortion, and a 1992 reaffirmation of the right in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The court will consider a Mississippi law that bans almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It has not gone into effect because lower courts said it violated the court’s precedents that states may not ban the procedure pre-viability. That refers to when a fetus may survive outside the womb, which happens usually between 22 and 24 weeks.Story continues below advertisement

In accepting the case, the court said it would decide whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional. But Mississippi and abortion opponents have asked the court to use the case to undo its precedents in Roe and Casey.

All nine of the justices declined during their confirmation hearings to opine on whether Roe v. Wade was properly decided, but past court rulings, public appearances and other public comments give insight into their thinking on abortion and court precedents.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Hard to peg

Roberts prefers an incremental approach to moving the law, which might counsel against overturning landmark decisions such as Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And he sees himself as playing an important role in protecting the court’s independence. A change to long-standing precedent could be seen as partisan on a court with six conservative justices named by Republican presidents, and three liberals named by Democratic presidents.

At his confirmation hearing in 2005, Roberts declined all attempts to have him weigh in on the merits of Roe and the court’s abortion precedents, like all other nominees have done. He also said he was acting as a lawyer representing a client when he wrote in a legal brief filed by the George W. Bush administration that Roe v. Wade had “no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution.”

In past cases he has sided with decisions that would restrict abortions. In 2007, he was in the majority as the court upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,although he assigned the majority opinion to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. In 2016, he was on the losing side when the court ruled that a Texas law that imposed restrictions on abortion clinics and doctors was unconstitutional.

But recently, Roberts has been harder to peg. In 2020, he joined the liberals in striking down a Louisiana law that was practically identical to the Texas one. Roberts said that he still believed the 2016 Texas case was wrongly decided, but that it would be a mistake for the court to overturn a decision from just a few terms from before. He also would have prevented the new Texas law S.B. 8 from taking effect. The law effectively bans abortion after six weeks and empowers individuals to bring suits against those who aid or abet prohibited abortions.

Justice Clarence Thomas

Has written that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overturned

Thomas has been a reliable vote for state restrictions on abortion, while urging Roe be overturned and lamenting that abortion rights seem to have a special status in the court’s jurisprudence. Moreover, Thomas is the justice least likely to adhere to stare decisis, the principle that past court decisions should be respected. He believes that if a past decision was wrongly decided, it should be overturned.

In his fall 1991 confirmation hearings, Thomas was vague on the subject of abortion. He testified that he could not remember “personally engaging” in discussions of Roe during law school and that he had no “personal opinion” about Roe’s correctness.

But his views on the matter became clear shortly after taking the bench. In 1992, he joined three other members of the court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey to say that Roe was wrongly decided.

After Casey, he began to write more strongly in his own voice in multiple dissenting opinions, including last year in June Medical Services v. Russo:“Roe is grievously wrong for many reasons, but the most fundamental is that its core holding — that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abort her unborn child — finds no support in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.”— Clarence Thomas, June Medical Services v. RussoStory continues below advertisement

Justice Stephen G. Breyer

Consistent abortion rights supporter

The 83-year-old justice has been a steady supporter of abortion rights, while acknowledging the “virtually irreconcilable” points of view on the issue.

In 2000, Breyer voted to strike down a Nebraska restriction, writing the majority opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart. He acknowledged the divide on the issue:“Millions of Americans believe that life begins at conception and consequently that an abortion is akin to causing the death of an innocent child … Other millions fear that a law that forbids abortion would condemn many American women to lives that lack dignity, depriving them of equal liberty and leading those with least resources to undergo illegal abortions with the attendant risks of death and suffering.”— Stephen G. Breyer, Stenberg v. Carhart

He also wrote the court’s decisions to strike down restrictions in Texas and Louisiana. Breyer wrote in a 2016 opinion that the Texas law, which required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, imposed unconstitutional restrictions on clinics and doctors. He also wrote for the court’s liberals in the Louisiana case, where he called the law “almost word-for-word identical” to the Texas one.

Breyer was among the four dissenters when the court allowed a Texas law prohibiting abortions after six weeks to go into effect in September. S.B. 8 presented unique questions, he wrote, but should not foreclose the “ability to ask the Judiciary to protect an individual from the invasion of a constitutional right — an invasion that threatens immediate and serious injury.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Previous support for restrictions

The George W. Bush nominee has never voted to strike down a restriction on abortion during his time on the court. But he has not yet been called upon to decide whether Roe and Casey should be overturned.

Before he was nominated, Alito said he was proud to have argued that “the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion.” These statements, which he made as a member of the Reagan administration, came up during his confirmation hearing in 2005.

As a federal appeals court judge, he voted to uphold the Pennsylvania abortion restrictions that were the focus of the Supreme Court’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, including a requirement of spousal notification before obtaining an abortion.

The Supreme Court disagreed on the spousal notification requirement in Casey, although it upheld the other restrictions that Alito voted to approve. The court also used the case to uphold the basic premise of Roe: that the constitutional right to abortion means states may not impose an undue burden on that right pre-viability.Story continues below advertisement

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Reliable vote for abortion rights

Sotomayor was a longtime district and appellate judge but was never called upon to act in an abortion rights case. When President Barack Obama nominated her in 2009, some liberals were concerned about her lack of record on the issue.

But she has been a reliable vote for abortion rights in her tenure, and with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s most outspoken advocate.

Sotomayor objected to the court’s 2021 decision to reimpose restrictions on obtaining medication abortions, channeling the late Justice Ginsburg:“One can only hope that the government will reconsider and exhibit greater care and empathy for women seeking some measure of control over their health and reproductive lives in these unsettling times”— Sonia Sotomayor, Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Like the other liberal justices, she would have stopped Texas S.B. 8 from being implemented, and was sharply critical of her colleagues who voted the other way:“The Court’s order is stunning. Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”— Sonia Sotomayor, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson

Justice Elena Kagan

Previous support for abortion rights

The liberal Kagan also has been a consistent vote to strike down state restrictions on abortion. She is the only member of the court who did not serve first as a judge, so her record on the issue was also largely unknown. But she had served in the Clinton administration and was President Barack Obama’s solicitor general, so it was assumed she would be supportive.

Kagan has not written any of the court’s major decisions on abortion. But she filed a dissent when her colleagues allowed Texas S.B. 8 to go into effect:“Without full briefing or argument, and after less than 72 hours’ thought, this Court greenlights the operation of Texas’s patently unconstitutional law banning most abortions. … This Court’s shadow-docket decisionmaking every day becomes more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.”— Elena Kagan, Whole Woman’s Health v. JacksonStory continues below advertisement

Justice Neil M. Gorsuch

Few rulings on abortion

Gorsuch may be the justice with the thinnest record on abortion. He did not rule on the issue as a lower-court judge and has not written extensively on the subject. However, he is one of the court’s most conservative justices, and has not shown hesitation about reexamining and overturning past decisions he thinks are wrongly decided.

He would have upheld restrictions on abortion clinics and practices in Louisiana, despite the court’s decision to strike down a similar Texas law before he was on the court. Gorsuch also would have allowed the Louisiana law to go into effect while litigation continued, and later complained the court discards “the traditional constraints of the judicial process when a case touching on abortion enters the courtroom.”

He was also in the five-justice majority that allowed Texas S.B. 8 to go into effect.

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh

Conservative but incremental

President Donald Trump vowed to add justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe, and Kavanaugh’s name was added to the president’s shortlist after his writing on abortion while a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But Kavanaugh has sometimes proposed compromises that others have rejected.

He was on a panel that postponed an abortion for a 17-year-old immigrant who was in government custody, saying if she could get a sponsor, she could have the abortion without the government’s involvement. The full circuit overturned that decision, and Kavanaugh’s attempt at compromise pleased neither side. Abortion rights activists called it an audition for the Supreme Court, while abortion opponents said Kavanaugh should have found immigrants have no constitutional right to abortion.

On the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh voted to uphold a restrictive Louisiana law, but again proposed a compromise. He said more fact-finding was necessary to determine how the restrictions affected the doctors who perform the procedure.

He has taken a more incremental stance on the issue than some of the court’s other conservatives. Despite joining five other justices in allowing Texas S.B. 8 to go into effect, it is unclear whether he would be willing to overturn Roe.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett

Conservative but sometimes reluctant to overturn precedents

Despite Barrett’s antiabortion views and deep faith, she has indicated that she would separate her personal views from her duty to respect the court’s precedents.

She has previously opposed abortion and criticized the Roe decision. As a Notre Dame law professor in 2006, Barrett and her husband signed a letter to “oppose abortion on demand and defend the right to life from fertilization to natural death.”

In 2016 at a university appearance, she said Roe v. Wade would likely stay in place when answering a question about how the Supreme Court’s legal theory might change with additional conservative justices:“I don’t think the core case — Roe’s core holding that, you know, women have a right to an abortion — I don’t think that would change. But I think the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions, how many restrictions can be put on clinics — I think that would change”— Amy Coney Barrett

Her previous rulings indicate support for abortion restrictions. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, she voted to reconsider decisions that blocked abortion restrictions in Indiana. On the Supreme Court, her only vote in her first year with the majority allowed Texas S.B. 8 to go into effect.

But in her first term on the court, she seemed more comfortable with moving the law incrementally, and did not vote to overturn some precedents that her conservative colleagues proposed.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2021/supreme-court-abortion-stances/

PRO-CHOICE DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST OUTSIDE OF THE US SUPREME COURT IN WASHINGTON, DC ON NOVEMBER 1, 2021. (PHOTO BY YASIN OZTURK / ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES)

To understand how abortion rights in the United States got to this point, you have to turn the clock back to 2010.

After a decade-long, coordinated attack on abortion rights, abortion opponents have never been closer to their ultimate dream: overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure nationwide. Without Roe, the ability to regulate abortion will return to the states and abortion rights would likely be protected in less than half of them.

To understand how the United States got to this point, you have to turn the clock back to 2010, when Republicans, energized by President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, launched a massively successful effort to win seats in state legislatures. Their victory had dire consequences for abortion rights and access: Of the thousand-plus state-level abortion restrictions enacted since Roe’s passage, nearly half came into being in the last decade. And although anti-abortion activists spent the first half of the 2010s pursuing incremental laws that aimed to chip away at Roe, the push for outright abortion bans hit a fever pitch during the latter half of the Trump administration—and only sped up once President Joe Biden took office.

Since Ohio introduced the first six-week abortion ban back in 2011, nine of the nation’s reddest states have passed their own version of the restrictive bill. These “heartbeat bills,” as anti-abortion activists call them, outlaw abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy based on the notion that cardiac activity can be detected that early. (At that point in pregnancy, an embryo does not have a fully developed heart.) Since many people women don’t know that they’re pregnant within those first six weeks, these bans essentially function as total bans on abortions—especially because these bills frequently lack exceptions for rape or incest.

Until now, court challenges have put these six-week bans on ice, but that’s part of anti-abortion activists’ plan. Each outright abortion ban is designed to hand the conservative-leaning Supreme Court a chance to overturn Roe. In December, the Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a bill that bans almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy—and before fetal viability. Under current abortion jurisprudence, states are blocked from outlawing abortion that early into pregnancy. 

However, on Sept. 1, Texas enacted SB 8, a six-week ban that, unlike its predecessors, actually managed to go into effect. The Supreme Court initially declined to block the ban but has since heard arguments in the case.

How Does The Texas Abortion Law Work?

Unlike past six-week bans, the Texas abortion ban is not enforced by the state government but by ordinary people. Individuals may sue anyone who “aids or abets” an illegal abortion—including, potentially, an Uber driver for taking a patient to an abortion clinic. A successful lawsuit nets $10,000 in damages. 

Ahead of the Texas ban’s enforcement, patients and providers desperately raced against the clock to provide abortions that would soon become illegal. One Texas doctor even performed 67 abortions in the hours before the ban took effect. But days later, abortion clinics saw a dramatic drop in their ability to help patients, as only a fraction qualified for abortions under the stringent law. Patients are now seeking abortions across state lines—and even international borders, since getting an abortion in Mexico is now easier than in Texas.

This citizen-enforced law has spurred anti-abortion vigilantes to spread the word on how to enforce it. Supporters of the law have even created whistleblower websites that are meant to act as tip lines for possible violators (and abortion rights proponents have struck back with Shrek porn). Even Reddit had a short-lived abortion bounty hunter community that sought to enrich themselves with the reward money, although the community was banned for breaking the website’s rules about harassment.

Why Does the Texas Ban Threaten Roe v. Wade?

The Texas ban’s unique form of enforcement has bedeviled attempts to strike it down. When the Supreme Court declined to stop the ban, the justices didn’t rule on the law’s constitutionality but instead wrote that the case presented “complex and novel procedural questions” that had not yet been addressed. Lawmakers in other red states have now suggested that they are interested in adopting a version of the Texas ban.  

But the Supreme Court’s original refusal to act doesn’t mean that the court battle over the law is over. The Justice Department sued over the ban, leading a U.S. district judge to temporarily freeze it. A federal appeals court soon lifted that freeze, putting the ban back into effect, and ordered a round of oral arguments over the law. The Justice Department has since asked the Supreme Court to once again weigh in, and, in early November, the justices heard oral arguments in two challenges to the Texas ban. In the November oral arguments, however, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett suggested that they had some skepticism about the Texas law.

But the fact that the Supreme Court at first chose not to act—and its willingness to consider a separate case that could overturn Roe—don’t bode well for the future of abortion rights in the United States. While state-level Republicans worked to pass abortion restrictions, President Donald Trump appointed three conservative justices to the bench: Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. (Barrett’s personal lack of support for abortion rights is particularly well-documented.) All three justices supported letting the Texas ban take effect, alongside Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. 

What is the Mississippi abortion law?

In March 2018, Mississippi’s Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a 15-week abortion ban. Like the Texas ban, the Mississippi law contained no exceptions for incest or rape and flies in the face of abortion jurisprudence that protects abortion ahead of fetal viability. (That benchmark is usually pegged at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.) Unlike the Texas ban, a federal judge has blocked the Mississippi law from taking effect, thanks to a lawsuit brought by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic left standing in Mississippi.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Dec. 1. With six conservative justices, the case could very well mark the end of Roe

What Is Roe v. Wade?

In 1970, a pregnant woman named Norma McCorvey filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, then the Dallas County district attorney, under the pseudonym Jane Roe. McCorvey and her attorneys argued that Texas law, which at the time prohibited abortions unless they were necessary to save the life of the mother, were unconstitutional. 

Eventually, the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which, in January 1973, ruled in favor of McCorvey. The ruling came too late for McCorvey: By that time, she already had her child and put her up for adoption. McCorvey would go onto to act as both a pro- and anti-abortion advocate, although shortly before her death she confessed that she’d only joined the anti-abortion movement because they paid her well.

In Roe, the Supreme Court found the right to abortion was embedded in the right to privacy, which is not specifically listed in the Constitution but can be constructed through a few different legal maneuvers. The right to privacy described in Roe has its roots in other landmark cases—most notably, the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, which expanded access to birth control. In other words, if Roe goes, it could unwind protections for other rights. 

Subsequent cases have refined and rewritten Roe’s findings, but the case now acts as a kind of ground-level protection for abortion access. Without it, states can be free to do as they please.

Will the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade? 

The Supreme Court will have a chance to weigh this very question in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. And it’s not looking particularly rosy for abortion rights supporters right now.

Although the abortion rights movement triumphed at the Supreme Court in a 2019 case, the justices have now agreed to evaluate whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” At least four justices must agree to take up a case in order for the Supreme Court to do so—which means that at least four justices are interested in revisiting what’s widely believed to be Roe’s core holding.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on Dobbs by next summer. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House have passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe into federal law. The bill, however, is likely doomed in the gridlocked Senate. 

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/pkpy79/abortion-laws-in-us-everything-to-know

New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, is one of the Democratic lawmakers reintroducing the Access to Birth Control Act to ensure patients aren’t refused contraception by pharmacists.
 Bill Clark/Pool/Getty Images

On #ThxBirthControl Day, a Democratic coalition of lawmakers reintroduced the Access to Birth Control Act.

Pharmacies play a critical role in maintaining access to reproductive health care, which is why a Democratic coalition of lawmakers reintroduced the Access to Birth Control Act, which would guarantee people not get turned away at pharmacies when trying to access birth control.

The bill was introduced Wednesday by the following lawmakers: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform; Sen. Cory Booker; Sen. Patty Murray, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Rep. Robin Kelly; and Rep. Katie Porter.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, approximately 64.3 million women in 2020 had coverage of the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods without cost sharing. But insurance coverage for birth control doesn’t fully guarantee access to it. Pharmacists in 24 states and the District of Columbia have refused to fill prescriptions for birth control or to provide patients with over-the-counter emergency contraception, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is also exacerbating issues with birth control access. According to the bill, one-third of women have experienced a delay in accessing their contraception because of the pandemic. Additionally, more than 19 million women of reproductive age live in contraceptive deserts across the country.

Lawmakers introduced the bill to coincide with the annual Thanks, Birth Control Day, which recognizes the progress in contraceptive care available to people around the world.

“I am proud to lead my colleagues in reintroducing the Access to Birth Control Act to ensure patients seeking birth control can access their health care without unnecessary barriers or delay,” Maloney said in a statement to Rewire News Group. “During the Trump administration, some health-care providers—including pharmacists—denied patients care simply based on their personal views. Health-care providers must do their jobs based on science—not ideology—and we cannot let this dangerous trend continue.”

Despite all its resources, the United States has one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies among industrialized nations. The Access to Birth Control Act is designed to remedy that.

The bill would ensure that folks seeking FDA-approved contraception, including emergency contraception, are able to access it in a timely manner and are not prevented from doing so by a pharmacy, whether because of supply issues or because a pharmacist claims religious objections to dispensing birth control.

“Family planning is basic health care,” the bill states in its introduction.

How the Access to Birth Control Act works

If a particular birth control medication is out of stock, the bill requires pharmacies to either refer the patient to another pharmacy or order the medication, depending on the patient’s preference. The bill also protects patients from being intimidated, threatened, or harassed by pharmacy employees who personally object to the use of contraception.

“Contraception is a protected fundamental right and access to contraception is necessary for people to make and exercise decisions about whether and when to become pregnant,” Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, said in a statement.

“The Access to Birth Control Act will especially aid in closing the disparities gap for women of color who historically have faced challenges accessing contraception and medication due to systemic racism. Establishing certain duties for pharmacies to ensure safe and equal access to contraception is a critical step in protecting women’s sexual reproductive health and well-being.”

Importantly, patients and consumers would have a remedy if a pharmacy violates these requirements. If that should happen, the bill establishes civil penalties for the pharmacy and a private cause of action for patients to seek relief, meaning patients can sue pharmacies and pharmacists after birth control refusals.

“People’s access to birth control should never be restricted by a pharmacy employee’s personal beliefs,” Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. “We’re glad to support this bill that will make sure everyone can leave a pharmacy with the birth control they need, without discrimination, harassment, or delay. At a time when extremist politicians are trying every way possible to take away our reproductive health care, it’s urgent to secure federal protections like the ABC Act.”

The Access to Birth Control Act is part of an ongoing debate in Congress over just how to address a wide range of reproductive and workplace equity issues, including paid leave and racial disparities in maternal mortality rates.

“Birth control is a vital part of reproductive health care and basic family planning,” said Booker, the bill’s co-sponsor in the Senate. “At a time when reproductive rights are under increasing attack throughout the country, protecting Americans’ access to contraception is more important than ever. The Access to Birth Control Act would ensure that all people not only have autonomy over their health but also have affordable and timely access to birth control.”

Jamie Manson, Catholics for Choice president, pointed out that birth control is a “lifeline used at some point by 98 percent of U.S. Catholics” and that it’s dangerous for a pharmacist to refuse care because of their religious beliefs.

“Refusal compromises a patient’s health, economic security, and moral autonomy—all of which our Catholic social justice values compel us to protect,” Manson said.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/11/17/exclusive-lawmakers-push-ahead-with-protecting-birth-control-access/

With multiple abortion cases at the Supreme Court and a continuing onslaught of anti-abortion restrictions sweeping the states, abortion is likely to come up in conversations about the news — including among friends and family during the holidays.

Here, we share a handy reference guide on this timely issue — full of the quick, crucial facts on abortion rights you’ll want to be equipped with if it comes up at your dinner table.


What to Know About: The Facts

  • Abortion is overwhelmingly safe
  • The right to abortion is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.
  • Abortion is common. One in four women who are able to get pregnant will have an abortion at some point.
  • Abortion is essential health care, constitutional right, and a human right.

Abortion should be accessible to anyone who needs it. Period.


What to Know About: What Forced Pregnancy Is and Isn’t

  • When it comes to discussing abortion access, the focus should remain centered on the people who need, or will need, this critical care — and the direct harm forced pregnancy places on lives.
  • Despite how anti-abortion politicians may frame it, forced pregnancy is not some political talking point: Forced pregnancy is taking away a person’s constitutional and human right to control their body and their future.
  • Denying someone abortion care has devastating and lasting consequences for the pregnant person — it can jeopardize their health, economic well-being and ability to determine their own future, for not only themselves but their family.

Forced Pregnancy laws include:

  1. All bans on abortion
  2. Medically unnecessary restrictions designed to shut down clinics so that people have to travel further to get abortion care
  3. Creating medically unnecessary hoops to jump through in order to discourage and block people from getting an abortion
  4. Laws that require insurance plans to exclude abortion coverage
  5. Laws designed to run out the clock that force people to delay their abortion care
  6. Medically unnecessary laws that increase the cost of care but do nothing to increase patient safety
  7. Denying people under 18 years of age access to confidential care by requiring the consent of others

What to Know About: Who Forced Pregnancy Impacts the Most

  • While it has been a legal right for five decades, almost since the beginning politicians have passed laws that push abortion out of reach. The impact of those policies fall disproportionately on those struggling financially, Black, Indigenous, and people of color, undocumented people, young people, and LGBTQ people.
  • Black, Indigenous, and other people of color do not have equal access to health care, from abortion to prenatal care to preventive care. Their concerns are often ignored or not taken seriously. They have worse outcomes for COVID-related health issues, higher rates of maternal and infant death, and are more likely to be investigated, prosecuted, and punished for their pregnancy outcomes.
  • Some people have the resources to overcome the obstacles imposed by anti-abortion laws, but people with low incomes, young people and undocumented people are more likely to be forced to continue a pregnancy even if that’s not the outcome they want.
  • Abortion access for all means ALL. Restrictions on abortion care directly impact transgender men and nonbinary people — and we’re fighting to protect the reproductive freedom of everyone who can get pregnant.

What to Know About: The Landscape of Abortion Access

  • Since January, states have introduced more than 560 medically unnecessary and politically motivated abortion restrictions. This year alone, more than 100 abortion restrictions were enacted — more than any time since Roe was decided.
  • All of these attacks show anti-abortion politicians’ true agenda: To push abortion out of reach, shut down clinics, and criminalize patients and health care providers.
  • Anti-abortion restrictions are chipping away at Roe, creating a web of barriers to safe and affordable abortion care and forcing people to remain pregnant against their will.
  • The Supreme Court is considering several abortion cases right now. The decisions in these cases will have a tremendous impact on the availability of abortion in this country and even whether we continue to have any constitutional right to abortion at all.

What to Know About: Abortion at the Supreme Court

The Mississippi case: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

  • The state of Mississippi has asked the court to expressly overturn Roe v. Wade and take away the federal constitutional right to abortion. Full stop. It’s also possible that the court stops short of that but dramatically reduces our ability to get abortion care. The case will be argued by the Center for Reproductive Rights before the Supreme Court on Dec. 1.

The Texas cases: Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and U.S. v. Texas

  • On Nov. 1, the court heard two cases challenging Texas’ extreme ban on abortion (SB 8): one brought by the ACLU and our coalition partners, and one brought by the Justice Department. Since Sept. 1, when the ban took effect and the Supreme Court initially declined to block the law, most Texans have been unable to access abortion in the state.

The Kentucky case: Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center

  • SCOTUS is also considering whether to grant Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s last-minute request to intervene in a case in order to try to revive an abortion ban that two courts have already declared unconstitutional. The court’s ruling will determine whether Cameron is allowed to keep the case going to try to reinstate the ban.

What to Know About: The Future of Abortion Rights

No matter how the Supreme Court rules, we’ll continue to fight forced pregnancy laws because we all deserve the ability to get an abortion if we need one. We will continue urging Congress to enact safeguards for abortion rights by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would give us a new tool to fight many of these attacks on abortion access. And together with our partners, we will continue to use all of our tools to create and shore up other avenues to ensure that everyone who has made the decision to get an abortion can actually get the care they need, no matter where they live, how much money they have, or who they are.

Source: https://www.aclu.org/news/reproductive-freedom/your-mini-guide-to-discussing-abortion-rights-at-the-dinner-table

A “win” for abortion rights advocates in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization would mean holding the line on abortion rights and access.
 Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court will hear arguments over Mississippi’s 15-week ban, which has the potential to undo Roe v. Wade and devastate abortion access.

On December 1, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case involving a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks. The law is currently blocked, after every court that has considered the ban, including the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, declared it unconstitutional.

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is likely the big abortion case on the Court’s docket this year. This remains true even after the Court decided to let Texas SB 8, which bans abortion after cardiac activity is detected around six weeks, take effect a few months ago. Should the Court allow Mississippi’s 15-week ban to take effect, such a ruling has the potential to devastate abortion access and undo Roe v. Wade.

Here are five key things you should know about the case.

The law in question

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is arguably the most significant abortion case in decades. As Rewire News Group Executive Editor Jessica Mason Pieklo put it, “The fate of abortion rights and access for millions of people in this country could end up being decided by nine unelected justices.” And while oral arguments will be livestreamed, the justices will decide behind closed doors, and they can take up to a year to rule.

At issue in the case is a gestational ban, which outlaws abortion at a specific point in pregnancy—in this case, 15 weeks’ gestation.

Why 15 weeks, you might be asking? Well, even the lawmakers who passed the laws don’t know. It’s an arbitrary marker—it has nothing to do with responsible practice of medicine and everything to do with exploiting and politicizing perceived moral discomfort around later abortion.

Impact on other states

If the Supreme Court puts its stamp of approval on Mississippi’s 15-week ban, it means many more patients in Mississippi will be forced to travel out of state for care. So will patients in neighboring states like Georgia and Alabama. Pregnant people are already forced to cross state lines to access care, thanks to existing restrictions—which will likely tighten if the Court undermines the abortion precedent in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, forcing pregnant people to travel even farther.

Susan Rinkunas reported for Rewire News Group this year about the case’s potential impact on other states: Louisiana’s 15-week abortion ban is tied to the outcome of Jackson Women’s Health, which means if the Court upholds the Mississippi ban, the Louisiana law could go into effect. Meanwhile, clinics in Florida, a state considered an abortion safe haven right now, are bracing for an influx of patients.

No compromise on abortion rights

With the Supreme Court also hearing challenges to Texas SB 8’s enforcement mechanism, some coverage has compared the two abortion bans, framing a six-week ban as more “extreme” than a 15-week one. But it’s not that simple—and it’s important to make clear that the 15-week ban at stake in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health is in no way a compromise on abortion rights. It is not a middle ground or a more reasonable alternative to a six-week ban like Texas SB 8.

If the Court allows a 15-week abortion ban to stand, the floodgates would open. That’s because it all comes down to the constitutional principles at stake—the precedent that abortion restrictions cannot be an undue burden on the right to choose abortion, and the precedent that prevents states from banning abortion before fetal viability.

What’s on the line

The case is about a 15-week abortion ban in Mississipi, but what’s really at stake is the fate of Roe v. Wade, and thus the future of abortion access in the country. Under the joint precedent set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, states cannot ban pre-viability abortions and they cannot enact any abortion restrictions that present an undue burden on access.

Both these critical stopgaps are on the chopping block with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. A decision by the Court undercutting Roe and Casey by allowing the Mississippi ban to take effect would open the door to more draconian bans like Texas SB 8 to stay in effect as well.

What happens if advocates win

What are the odds we’ll have a win for abortion rights at the Supreme Court next year? That’s a trick question, if we’re being honest.

There’s a conservative supermajority on the bench, and a number of the justices are openly hostile to abortion access. The very fact that the Court agreed to hear this case—and followed it up by allowing SB 8 to take effect—signals an openness to weakening the abortion precedent.

In short: There’s really no way for abortion advocates to “win” at the Supreme Court with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

But what happens if the Court sides with the Jackson Women’s Health Organization and finds the 15-week ban unconstitutional? Just as a loss would have ripple effects that extend beyond Mississippi, so would a win.

A “win” for abortion rights advocates would mean holding the line on abortion rights and access. As the right prepares for its next attack on access, advocates would have a sort of stopgap, knowing that no matter what conservatives come up with next, a 15-week ban likely won’t survive legal challenges.

A ruling against the 15-week ban could also mean good things for the vast abortion care desert that stretches west from Florida to New Mexico and north to Virginia. It would overturn laws like SB 8, and, despite not being nearly enough to ensure access for all, that would protect countless providers and patients nationwide.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/11/23/5-things-to-know-about-the-case-that-could-kill-roe-v-wade/