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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska woman has been charged with helping her teenage daughter end her pregnancy at about 24 weeks after investigators obtained Facebook messages in which the two discussed using medication to induce an abortion and plans to burn the fetus afterward.

The prosecutor handling the case said it’s the first time he has charged anyone for illegally performing an abortion after 20 weeks, a restriction that was passed in 2010. Before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, states weren’t allowed to enforce abortion bans until the point at which a fetus is considered viable outside the womb, at roughly 24 weeks.

In one of the Facebook messages, Jessica Burgess, 41, tells her then 17-year-old daughter that she has obtained abortion pills for her and gives her instructions on how to take them to end the pregnancy.

The daughter, meanwhile, “talks about how she can’t wait to get the ‘thing’ out of her body,” a detective wrote in court documents. “I will finally be able to wear jeans,” she says in one of the messages. Law enforcement authorities obtained the messages with a search warrant, and detailed some of them in court documents.

In early June, the mother and daughter were only charged with a single felony for removing, concealing or abandoning a body, and two misdemeanors: concealing the death of another person and false reporting. It wasn’t until about a month later, after investigators reviewed the private Facebook messages, that they added the felony abortion-related charges against the mother. The daughter, who is now 18, is being charged as an adult at prosecutors’ request.

Burgess’ attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message Tuesday, and the public defender representing the daughter declined to comment.

When first interviewed, the two told investigators that the teen had unexpectedly given birth to a stillborn baby in the shower in the early morning hours of April 22. They said they put the fetus in a bag, placed it in a box in the back of their van, and later drove several miles north of town, where they buried the body with the help of a 22-year-old man.

The man, whom The Associated Press is not identifying because he has only been charged with a misdemeanor, has pleaded no contest to helping bury the fetus on rural land his parents own north of Norfolk in northeast Nebraska. He’s set to be sentenced later this month.

In court documents, the detective said the fetus showed signs of “thermal wounds” and that the man told investigators the mother and daughter did burn it. He also wrote that the daughter confirmed in the Facebook exchange with her mother that the two would “burn the evidence afterward.” Based on medical records, the fetus was more than 23 weeks old, the detective wrote.

Burgess later admitted to investigators to buying the abortion pills “for the purpose of instigating a miscarriage.”

At first, both mother and daughter said they didn’t remember the date when the stillbirth happened, but according to the detective, the daughter later confirmed the date by consulting her Facebook messages. After that he sought the warrant, he said.

Madison County Attorney Joseph Smith told the Lincoln Journal Star that he’s never filed charges like this related to performing an abortion illegally in his 32 years as the county prosecutor. He didn’t immediately respond to a message from the AP on Tuesday.

The group National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which supports abortion rights, found 1,331 arrests or detentions of women for crimes related to their pregnancy from 2006 to 2020.

In addition to its current 20-week abortion ban, Nebraska tried — but failed — earlier this year to pass a so-called trigger law that would have banned all abortions when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone defended the way the company handled authorities’ request for information in this case after a gag order about it was lifted Tuesday.

“Nothing in the valid warrants we received from local law enforcement in early June, prior to the Supreme Court decision, mentioned abortion,” Stone said. “The warrants concerned charges related to a criminal investigation and court documents indicate that police at the time were investigating the case of a stillborn baby who was burned and buried, not a decision to have an abortion.”

Facebook has said that officials at the social media giant “always scrutinize every government request we receive to make sure it is legally valid.”

Facebook says it will fight back against requests that it thinks are invalid or too broad, but the company said it gave investigators information in about 88% of the 59,996 times when the government requested data in the second half of last year.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/abortion-health-nebraska-government-and-politics-b94abeeed9a8c486cf479d6ae78c62aa?fbclid=IwAR1eMNTOMCdjvJs72S0c67-lLWAbl78Biu4Z8-PhUG52U8jQ0nurKc2NmeQ

New Democratic ads in crucial statewide races paint Republicans as “dangerous” and “extreme” on abortion rights.

DEMOCRATS HAVE LAUNCHED ADS IN KEY ELECTIONS BLASTING REPUBLICANS FOR OPPOSING LEGAL ABORTION. (ARIZONA SENATE AD FROM THE DEMOCRATIC SUPER PAC SENATE MAJORITY PAC)

In the days since Kansans overwhelmingly voted to preserve abortion access in their state, Democrats have launched a bevy of ads in key statewide elections blasting their Republican opponents for opposing legal abortion.

The ads have come in Arizona and Michigan, two major swing states who held their primaries on Tuesday. In both states, the legality of abortion is an open question and is being actively litigated after the Supreme Court repealed the national right to abortion access. And the result of this fall’s gubernatorial races could determine whether or not those states allow abortion for years to come.

In Michigan, Democrats’ new ad shows newly minted GOP nominee Tudor Dixon repeatedly saying she supports banning abortion even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. And in Arizona, multiple ads portray newly nominated GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters as a “dangerous” anti-abortion extremist, while Democratic gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs pledges to “protect a woman’s right to choose” in her first ad of the general election.

Those ads look to paint Republicans as extremists on abortion, zeroing in not on their broad opposition to abortion access but also on how unwilling some GOP candidates have been to offer exemptions to abortion bans in cases of rape, incest, and in some cases, even the life of the mother.

“Kansas voters have delivered a resounding message: Republicans’ attacks on a woman’s right to make our own health care decision will be answered at the ballot box—and that’s bad news for GOP Senate candidates who have wasted no time in staking out dangerous positions that would make abortion illegal without exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Commitee spokesperson Nora Keefe told VICE News.

A new Arizona Senate ad from the Democratic super PAC Senate Majority PAC exemplifies this strategy. 

“Three years ago, I had an ectopic pregnancy.  If I didn’t make it into the OR within a couple minutes, I was going to bleed out and die. But according to Blake Masters, that’s just too bad,” says a Phoenix mother identified as Brianna. “He wants to ban all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Masters claims he supports women and families. But if I didn’t have the right to abort the pregnancy, my three children can be left out on their own. Masters is so extreme and so wrong for Arizona.”

Democrats’ heavy focus on abortion rights isn’t new post-Kansas. They have been airing abortion-focused ads for months, particularly in gubernatorial races. Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams’ first ad of the general election hit Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp on abortion (she has a new ad out describing his abortion policies as “an attack on the women of Georgia” that debuted Wednesday). And Democrats have run five ads in total highlighting Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano’s hardline anti-abortion position—including a few that aired before he even won his primary in May.

But Democrats say the lopsided win in Republican-leaning Kansas shows how motivating the issue is—and how out-of-step Republicans are on abortion. Polls have consistently shown that more than 60 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

“Kansas was confirmation of what we expected and had seen in data. Some people are acting like it’s a new attack line. This is something we’ve been saying would be a top decision ever since Dobbs,” Democratic Governors’ Association spokesman David Turner told VICE News.

And Democrats and their allies have recently aired ads painting Republicans as “dangerous” and “extreme” on abortion rights in Senate races in ArizonaNevadaNew HampshireNorth CarolinaPennsylvania and Wisconsin—almost every single competitive Senate race on the map.

Republican strategists admit that the Supreme Court’s decision has galvanized Democratic base voters and helped turn what was looking like a wipeout election into a more closely fought one. But they said that they’d seen little evidence that abortion was a top issue for most swing voters.

“The persuadable voters in battleground states are far more focused on issues related to the economy, inflation, and crime and safety. Ultimately whichever candidate can best connect with those voters as it relates to those issues will be most successful come the fall,” Republican Governors Association spokesman Jesse Hunt told VICE News.

And it’s worth noting that Democrats aren’t focusing on abortion rights in every race. It was notable that Kansas Democrats’ initial attack ads to shore up Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly after Tuesday’s primary focused not on abortion but on tying newly minted GOP nominee Derek Schmidt to unpopular former GOP Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and hitting him on fiscal issues.

Strategists in both parties warn against projecting too much for November’s elections from Kansas. The straight yes-or-no ballot question isn’t the same as a multi-pronged campaign where multiple issues, candidate quality, and President Biden’s dismal approval rating will all play major factors.

But the lopsided 59%-41% margin was a surprise even to abortion rights supporters—and the huge turnout showed how much the issue can energize a Democratic base that until recently looked demoralized and disinterested heading into the midterms.

And it’s notable that while Democrats are deluging the airwaves with abortion ads, they’re going largely unanswered. Republican strategists couldn’t point to a single competitive statewide race where their candidates were spending money on ads highlighting their opposition to abortion rights.

And even hardline Republican nominees don’t seem eager to discuss the topic. Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake dodged a question on abortion and quickly moved on during a Wednesday press conference:

The issue seems to already have had an impact on the national political climate. On June 24, the day that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Republicans had a 2.3-point lead on the question of who voters wanted to control Congress in FiveThirtyEight’s average of national polls. Now, the two parties are tied.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has also downgraded his expectations for a big GOP wave election this year since abortion has emerged as a top issue and the GOP has nominated a number of flawed candidates in key swing states.

After predicting a “very good election” last November, McConnell said on Fox News this week that the parties were in a dogfight for Senate control.

“I think it’s going to be very tight. We have a 50-50 nation. And I think when this Senate race smoke clears, we’re likely to have a very, very close Senate still, with us up slightly or the Democrats up slightly,” he said Wednesday.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/4axxzg/democrats-abortion-ads

A homemade sign resembling a cloth hanger is seen as abortion rights protesters participate in nationwide demonstrations following the leaked Supreme Court opinion suggesting the possibility of overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Alyssa Pointer

Just how far people in the South will have to travel to access abortion care will be defined by legal challenges unfolding in Louisiana and Georgia.

Almost every state in the Southeast bans the procedure or limits it to all but the earliest stages of pregnancy — with laws that were allowed to go into effect with the Supreme Court’s reversal this summer of Roe v. Wade. But abortion rights advocates are fighting in state court for orders blocking those restrictions.

Both Louisiana’s so-called trigger ban — which outlawed the procedure outright, with no exemptions for rape or incest — as well as a Georgia ban for abortions after about six weeks into the pregnancy are currently in force. Providers have asked the Louisiana Supreme Court to reinstate a judge’s order blocking that ban, after an appeals court suspended it and revived the prohibition. A judge in Atlanta, meanwhile, will consider on Monday whether to temporarily halt the enforcement of the six-week ban while the next steps in the legal challenge proceed.

“Georgia — Atlanta, Georgia, specifically — was a hub for abortion access for people across the southeast,” said Jalessah Jackson, the interim executive director of Access Reproductive Care-Southeast, an abortion fund that provides financial support for abortion-seekers in several southern states.

“Georgia was really that space where people could come and have options for where they want to have their abortion,” Jackson told CNN. “And so, with the sort of limited scope that we have right now because of the six-week ban, that has really impacted people’s ability to access care in the entire region.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling cleared the way for states across the South and Midwest to try to enforce six-week bans or outright prohibitions on abortion that were on their books. Dozens of abortion clinics have closed since, with one analysis from July showing that, in the month since the ruling, the number of clinics offering abortion had shrunk from 71 to 28 in the 11 states seeking to implement those extreme restrictions.

The seven states where no clinics remain open — Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas — accounted for 80,500 abortions in 2020, according to the analysis, which was done by the reproductive rights think tank the Guttmacher Institute.

In this landscape, abortion seekers will have to travel hundred of miles to obtain the procedure. For many women in the South, particularly if bans in Georgia and Louisiana are enforced, the closest clinic may be in Kansas, Illinois, North Carolina, or elsewhere — potentially across several states’ borders.

Supporters of the restrictions say that courts should follow the US Supreme Court’s lead and let legislatures decide what abortion policy looks like at the state level.

“The careful, thoughtful studied approach as the Georgia legislature took before and during the 2019 session is the way it needs to be addressed,” said Republican state Rep. Ed Setzler, a sponsor of the 2019 Georgia law, which prohibits abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected.

“We recognize life begins at conception but we balanced that with these difficult circumstances and to land where there’s a protection of a child that has a beating heart, that seems to be reasonable sound middle ground,” he said.

The “significant role” Georgia and Louisiana have played

Even before Roe fell — allowing abortion bans in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and elsewhere in the South to take effect — abortion seekers were traveling to Louisiana and Georgia to obtain the procedure, in part because of the other ways states were able to complicate access, even with Roe on the books.

Georgia in particular had clinic infrastructure more expansive than what’s usual in the South; right now, 11 abortion providers are open in the state, according to the National Abortion Federation. Atlanta being an airline hub also makes Georgia clinics accessible for those with the resources to fly to obtain the procedure.

Isaac Maddow-Zimet, a senior research associate with the Guttmacher Institute, which favors abortion rights, said he expects to see “huge increases” in people traveling to seeking abortions in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision in the recent case, called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“Many of the states to which patients have historically traveled to obtain abortions have now restricted or eliminated access entirely, which means people seeking care have to travel even farther to obtain it,” he said.

With a Democratic governor, North Carolina does not have extreme limits like a six week or outright ban” on the procedure at the moment, while in Florida, a 15-week ban is in force while a legal challenge to it continues.

After the Dobbs decision came down, Georgia’s six-week abortion ban remained on hold for several weeks due to a pre-Dobbs federal court order. Travel from out-of-state patients spiked, according to Kwajelyn Jacksonexecutive director at the Atlanta-based Feminist Women’s Health Center, who told CNN that just from one clinic in Alabama, nearly 100 abortion patients were referred to Georgia providers in the days immediately after the Dobbs decision.

Even after the six-week ban was allowed to take effect on July 20, traffic from out-of-state patients has continued, she said, in part because early-pregnancy abortions are allowed under it and in part because Georgia’s law has a rape exemption not present in Alabama’s outright ban, nor in the six-week bans in Kentucky and Tennessee.

“When the six-week ban was allowed to go into effect, it certainly has changed how significant a role we can play in the southeast supporting care for neighboring states, but it has not completely eliminated that need,” said Jackson of the Feminist Women’s Health Center.

A Texas six-week ban that was allowed to go into effect last September was a preview of the role Louisiana will play for access if its ban is blocked by courts there. At the Hope Medical Group for Women clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, Texas patients made up nearly two-thirds of the clinic’s patients compared to just 18% of patients before the Texas law was in effect.

“Louisiana had been this kind of stalwart, it had been providing care to people in the entire region,” said Jenny Ma, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who is involved in the challenge to the Louisiana trigger ban.

Louisiana and Georgia “were incredibly important, and continue to be really important,” she told CNN, “and that’s why these lawsuits are so pivotal as they continue to try to preserve access for as long as possible.”

Racial disparities for maternal health

The lawsuits challenging Louisiana and Georgia’s abortion laws cite those states’ constitutions for why those laws should be struck down.

In Georgia, the challengers are leaning on the state constitution’s privacy and liberty protections, which ACLU attorney Julie Kaye says have long been interpreted as more expansive than the US Constitution’s.

“For over a century the Georgia Supreme Court has strictly protected an individual’s right to be free from political interference into their private decisions about their body, health and life,” said Kaye, who is involved in the challenge of the Georgia law.

A spokesperson for Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, who is defending the law in court, declined CNN’s request for an interview. A spokesperson for Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry did not respond to CNN’s inquiries.

Louisiana Right to Life spokesperson Sarah Zagorski told CNN that the anti-abortion group “highly” doubts plaintiffs would be successful in their lawsuit. But if the trigger laws are blocked, Zagorski said it’s likely that Louisiana Right to Life would work with the state legislature again “to tighten our laws.”

The complaints filed against Louisiana and Georgia’s laws both highlight the maternal health risks of forced pregnant — risks that are exacerbated by socioeconomic disparities in the South and risks that are disproportionately faced by Black women.

“Louisiana ranks second to last, or 48th among states when it comes to the health of women and children,” says an affidavit filed by Dr. Janifer Tropez-Martin. “The state’s maternal mortality is increasing at a rate that exceeds the national average. Since 2016, maternal mortality has increased to 28% in Louisiana.”

The affidavit adds that “Black individuals are 3.3 times more likely to experience maternal death than white individuals.”

According to the Georgia complaint, “the pregnancy-related mortality ratio was 2.3 times higher for Black Georgians than it was for non-Hispanic white Georgians.”

Asked about Louisiana’s high maternal mortality rate, Zagorski, of Louisiana Right to Life, said that it was “a tragedy that Louisiana has a high mortality rate among pregnant women, but legal abortion does not improve those rates.”

Across the South, most states have declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but several states, including Louisiana and Georgia, have temporarily allowed or are planning to allow low-income women to remain enrolled in Medicaid for up to 12 months after childbirth.

“Hopefully as time goes on, culture will change and the question will be how do we reach maternal patients better, how do we support them better, before and after they have their baby,” Zagorski said.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/08/08/politics/abortion-south-georgia-louisiana/index.html

ILLUSTRATION BY CATHRYN VIRGINIA

5 Abortion Providers on How Bans Are Putting People’s Lives in Danger

Abortion is now banned in 10 states, severely limited in another four, and threatened in about half of the country, in total. In states where exceptions may be made in cases of rape or incest, or for the sake of a patient’s life or well-being, guidelines are vague about what kind of abortion or abortion-adjacent care is still legal. This has left providers to decipher the unclear exception rules—and contend with the potential for prosecution, should they guess wrong. Abortion funds and practical support organizations have mobilized to provide resources to abortion seekers however they can.  But, of course, they’re unable to offer many of the crucial in-person abortion services that so many patients continue to seek.

VICE spoke with five abortion providers whose work has been hit hard in states with varying levels of abortion restrictions triggered by the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Hanna Peterson (she/her), 30, Louisville, Kentucky  

PHOTO COURTESY OF HANNA PETERSON

The Dobbs decision triggered an abortion ban in Kentucky, making abortion a felony offense with exceptions to protect the life of the pregnant person. An ACLU-helmed restraining order blocked this trigger ban, as well as a “heartbeat ban,” from taking effect for several weeks. On August 1, an appeals court ruled to reinstate the so-called heartbeat bill, which is a near-total ban on abortion. Hanna Peterson, an OB/GYN, has been dealing with these constant legal changes while treating patients.

It’s been legislative whiplash in Kentucky since the Dobbs decision. Prior to the trigger ban, we were able to provide abortions up to 21 weeks and six days. Immediately after the Dobbs decision, we had to turn everyone away from our abortion clinic, including patients who were scheduled to get abortions that day. 

After an ACLU restraining order came through on June 30, we were able to provide abortions up to 14 weeks and six days, which was much better than a total ban. Now, an appeals court reinstated the trigger law that bans abortion at about six weeks. For a lot of people, even a matter of a couple of days makes or breaks their situation, so this is devastating. 

After the Dobbs news leaked, we began doing cross-training with our colleagues in the emergency room. There are rarely complications with medication abortion when abortion care is legal. However, I believe my emergency medicine colleagues will see more complications from self-managed abortions. Patients will be seeking abortions without guidance of a medical professional. Some may not be suitable candidates for medication abortion if they’re too far along in the pregnancy (meaning, past 10 weeks), which is hard to know without an ultrasound, or they have medical conditions that make medication abortion unsafe for them, like severe anemia, heart problems or ectopic pregnancy. 

As much as we’ve tried to prepare ourselves and our colleagues, nothing can prepare you for the feeling of being totally helpless, or for having to turn patients away.

We trained emergency room staff on how those patients might present; how to manage a septic abortion; and how to provide support for those patients in a way that is non-judgmental and comprehensive. Emergency room providers are pretty used to seeing miscarriages. But patients may increasingly come in with catastrophic bleeding that needs to be stopped surgically. So, for our colleagues who are at facilities that don’t have OB/GYNs, we’re looking at training them on how to do bedside D&Cs, or manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) procedures, which can be provided at 12 weeks of gestation or less. They’re very simple. They require a large syringe that is a highly pressurized system that needs to be special-ordered in advance, because not all hospitals stock them.

As much as we’ve tried to prepare ourselves and our colleagues, nothing can prepare you for the feeling of being totally helpless, or for having to turn patients away. As a physician, you have this very unique skill set where you can help people. All of a sudden, we have to say, “I would do this in a heartbeat if I could—but I can’t.”

Jonathan Reese* (he/him), Boise, Idaho

When Roe v. Wade was overturned, trigger laws in Idaho banned all abortions except in the case of rape and/or incest or to protect the life of the pregnant person. The Department of Justice is currently suing Idaho on the grounds that its severe abortion restrictions will endanger patients’ lives and cause them significant bodily harm. Jonathan Reese, a doctor in Idaho who asked to use a pseudonym because of safety and privacy concerns, wears many hats in the medical field, including inpatient and outpatient medicine, obstetrics/pediatrics. Before the ban, he provided abortions. 

I’ve been providing abortions for about seven years. With Roe overturned, I will no longer be able to provide this vital service in the state, except in cases of rape or incest, or when there is risk of death to the patient. 

I foresee a lot of problems with these restrictions. In a case of rape or incest, according to the law, you’re required to have a police report. As we know, very few people actually go to the authorities when these cases arise. If they do have a police report in hand, the provider then has to review it and ensure its legitimacy before they proceed, which could cause a huge delay to abortion care. 

There’s a lot of vagueness about what an exception for risk to the patient means.  There’s no steady guidance. There are a lot of risks that evolve throughout the pregnancy that we can detect early on, where—before the Dobbs decision—we provided patients with options for treatment, which included termination of the pregnancy before complications arose. 

People who would have lived before are now going to die because doctors will be too worried about providing them with care.

For example, if someone’s amniotic sac ruptured prematurely, and that person were to give birth, then that fetus, if pre-viable, would not survive. Before Dobbs, there was the option of inducing that pregnancy, knowing that that would most likely result in a non-viable fetus. The other option would be to try and continue the pregnancy to viability. But that has a huge risk of infection, and the patient could become septic. They could die. So: Is the rupture of the membrane considered reasonable enough to terminate? Or do you have to wait until a patient is septic? 

In Idaho, which has criminalized abortion, doctors are going to be incredibly risk-averse. People who would have lived before are now going to die because doctors will be too worried about providing them with care. 

Our stance, as physicians, is that these decisions need to happen between a patient and their provider. Legislators are not medical professionals. There are a lot of things that lawmakers just don’t understand that make these decisions very complicated. Now, we don’t know what to do about them, and by restricting us from providing the highest standard of care, people will die.

Not being able to perform abortions in the state of Idaho anymore is difficult. It’s weighing on me very heavily. That procedure is a very safe outpatient procedure that we do. But it’s a skill that we use in a lot of other things: The biggest example would be miscarriage management through aspiration for someone that has a fetal demise. That is the same way that we would evacuate the uterus for an abortion. Now, this skill that I’ve been trained in, I won’t be able to use. That’ll be detrimental to our patients, too—that providers that are going to lose those skills.

DeShawn Taylor (she/her), 47, Phoenix, Arizona

DeShawn Taylor looking at a camera
Arizona has faced two bans: a pre-Roe, 19th century total abortion ban that is currently up in the air legally, as well as a 15-week ban that is slated to take effect in September. DeShawn Taylor is an OB/GYN in the state who provides full-spectrum OB/GYN care and gender-affirming care. Before the ban, she provided abortions, and she has also trained providers in abortion care.

As long as I’ve been a doctor, I’ve been an abortion provider. In my intern year, I realized a large number of OB/GYNs that I trained with were ideologically against people receiving abortions,  so I started to consider making abortion care a very prominent part of my work.

Right now, there’s a pool of abortion providers traveling from state to state because there is no local person who provides the care. That will only get worse.

When I started my practice, my goal was integrating abortion care with other types of general care. I created an environment where people seeking abortions could feel comfortable and safe. Over nine years, I also fostered this really cool pro-choice group of patients who know that their doctor does abortions. And there are people now coming to me for their GYN care, because they know I provided abortions, and because I added gender-affirming care last summer. 

Right now, there’s a pool of abortion providers traveling from state to state because there is no local person who provides the care. That will only get worse. As someone who has dedicated a significant amount of time to training the next generation of providers, I’m very concerned about that. Opportunities for training were already dwindling prior to the decision. I had to cancel trainees coming from Vermont and New Jersey for this month when we decided to pause care. They would have been the 19th and 20th states from which people have traveled to receive abortion training from me, not including Canada. The public discourse is, “Of course, someone should be able to get an abortion if they’re raped, or if there’s a tragic fetal diagnosis.” So who’s going to do them? How will they get the skills to provide those types of abortions, when they don’t ever do them?

Abortion service was essentially a cash-pay service because of Arizona’s insurance restrictions. The loss of revenue has been worse than I had anticipated. Keeping the doors open is a very big struggle, but I’m fundraising. I’m committed to staying in Arizona and keeping my clinic open. However, I want to continue training abortion providers, so I’ve started to consider the possibility of co-partnering with a facility out of state where abortion is legal. If a facility is not currently providing surgical abortion services, I would be able to provide services for them there while continuing my hands-on abortion training program.

Catherine Romanos (she/her), 43, Columbus, Ohio

Catherine Romanos looks at a camera
In Ohio, a six-week ban took effect after Roe was overturned. This translates to about two weeks after a missed period. Catherine Romanos is a family doctor who provides abortions in Ohio.

We’d prepared for this since December, when the oral arguments for the Dobbs case were heard. After the decision, I learned that no matter how much you prepare for grief, you can’t prevent it. 

How do I not abandon the people here and continue to practice somehow? I don’t know.

The decision made me reevaluate my life. I started applying for Illinois and Michigan medical licenses. But I think I want to stay in Ohio, because if I left, I would feel an intense survivor’s guilt about abandoning people here. But I also feel like I am forgoing a skill set that’s not very common that might be needed in other places. How do I not abandon the people here and continue to practice somehow? I don’t know.

I’m fielding a lot of calls from colleagues in other fields such as emergency medicine, who used to say to patients, “Just go online and find the abortion clinic.” And now they don’t even know what to tell patients. Everyone’s scared to break the law, but at the same time, they’re trying to make sure that their patients are getting care where they can. 

Who wants to practice in a place where they could go to jail?

An after-effect that I anticipate is that people with higher-risk pregnancies will have to carry to term. I saw a patient for an abortion a couple of weeks before the Dobbs decision. She had a cardiac arrest during her vaginal delivery last year. She didn’t want to have another delivery, especially because of her previous traumatic and dangerous birth—she has a kid to take care of. Now, she wouldn’t have been able to get a surgical abortion in Ohio.

My colleagues are going to be really busy taking care of a lot of really sick patients while also worrying about retaining students, residents, and doctors: Who wants to practice in a place where they could go to jail? 

It’s so striking to me that we still have a 24-hour waiting period in Ohio after Roe’s overturn. That waiting period was ostensibly put into place to give people time to think about it, right? But everyone is now feeling very rushed to decide before cardiac activity develops. So what do they want? Do they want to rush people? Or do they want to give people time to think about it? Because more than one patient has said to me, “I wish I had a couple of weeks to sit with this before I went ahead.”

Diane Horvath (she/her), 43, College Park, Maryland/formerly traveling to Alabama)

PHOTO BY DAVID CHOY

Alabama has a total abortion ban from 2019 that went into effect. Abortion is protected in Maryland. Diane Horvath was a traveling abortion provider who visited Alabama once a month to provide care where there would otherwise have been no or very few providers. She has not been able to continue working in Alabama since Roe was overturned. 

My commitment to providing abortion was one of the reasons I chose OB/GYN as a specialty and sought out a residency providing that training. 

In January, I began working as a traveling abortion provider. I went once per month to two independent clinics in Alabama which had a physician-only restriction even pre-Dobbs, which meant nurse practitioners and midwives couldn’t provide abortion care there. The pool of physicians who are willing and able to travel is limited, so it was really challenging to find coverage, particularly at the Montgomery clinic which relied entirely on traveling physicians.

During my time working in Alabama before the Dobbs decision, I saw patients for both procedural and medication abortions. Many of the patients traveled long distances due to the lack of clinics and available appointments. We saw patients from Louisiana and Mississippi who were unable to get appointments at the clinics in their home states because of the fallout from SB 8 in Texas

I said, “However many times you need us, we’ll be here for you”—and then we realized that this wasn’t true anymore.

On my last trip to a Montgomery clinic in mid-June, you could feel the anticipatory grief in the air. When I left, one of the wonderful staff members said, “Until next time, doc!” Then we looked at each other and knew there probably wasn’t going to be a next time. On that same trip, I spoke with a patient who was there for her second abortion and feeling a lot of shame about it. We talked about how we spend 30 or more years trying not to get pregnant, and that it’s really normal to get pregnant when we don’t want to be sometimes. I said, “However many times you need us, we’ll be here for you”—and then we realized that this wasn’t true anymore. 

People in Alabama are still going to need gynecological care, including pregnancy ultrasounds and follow-up after self-managed abortion (or abortions they obtained out of state), so the clinic in Tuscaloosa I worked with is working on staying open to continue these services. They’re planning to provide a wider range of routine reproductive care, like annual exams, contraceptive visits, and gender-affirming care. But while they’re working on a plan, they have to turn patients away, and they’re feeling a ton of grief.

I’ve only become more committed to providing abortions because I’ve been able to witness countless times how important abortion is as a normal part of healthcare. Opening Partners in Abortion Care is one of the things that has kept me from despairing in the last few months. My business partner, Morgan Nuzzo, and I had already started planning last fall to open the clinic sometime in late 2022, because there already wasn’t enough capacity to care for all the people who need later abortion. This was before the draft decision leaked, and of course we feel a much greater sense of urgency now that the abortion landscape has changed so dramatically. 

The existing all-trimester clinics have significant waiting lists (four to five weeks at some clinics) and what this means, in practical terms, is that there are a significant number of people who just won’t get the care they need. We are so fortunate in Maryland to have enough legislative support to allow us to provide evidence-based care in a welcoming environment. We are able to see patients in all trimesters because our state recognizes that abortion is normal healthcare that needs to be accessible.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/3addmv/abortion-providers-on-bans-after-roe-overturned-interview

In a typical year for the Midwest Access Coalition (MAC) — a practical abortion fund based in Chicago, Illinois — the group would service around 30 clients per week, providing a wide range of support services to abortion patients traveling to and within the Midwest.

In the weeks following the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, Director of Strategic Partnerships Alison Dreith said the organization is assisting nearly 200 clients weekly, a jump she described as “dramatic” and “overwhelming.”

Founded in 2014, MAC has assisted clients in all 30 states of the Midwest to access safe and legal abortion. Dreith said that the group focuses on providing practical support for abortion rather than funding the cost for the procedure itself, which includes facilitating travel logistics and covering costs such as food, lodging and even childcare for patients traveling with families.

Dreith said that as of a year ago, MAC had only one paid full-time staff member. Now the nonprofit has five full-timers, and is actively hiring as the demand for practical abortion care rises. She said that the organization is so in need of help they are willing to get people in the door “as soon as we have a resume.”

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, which took away the federal protection for abortion, many patients that MAC sees are traveling to Illinois for abortion care, as it is the only state in the Midwest that continues to protect abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute Abortion Policies map. The “safe-haven” state, as it is called by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, provides a glimpse into what abortion clinics across the country are facing as patients travel far and wide for legal abortions.

Chicago Protest for Abortion Access
Protesters lead an abortion rights rally on June 24, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. Crowds gathered to protest the Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case which overturned the landmark 50-year-old case, removing the federal right to an abortion.NATASHA MOUSTACHE/GETTY IMAGES

Like many abortion activists, Dreith said that MAC has been preparing for the end of Roe since 2019, when 17 states passed laws that placed restrictions on abortion access. Missouri, which borders Illinois, adopted legislation that would ban all abortions once Roe was overturned. In response to several conservative lawmakers slowly stripping away abortion rights, Dreith said that MAC started to build stronger connections with abortion funds and clinics throughout the Midwest. She credited those relationships for helping MAC to meet the increased need now for safe and legal abortions.

“When other abortion funds and practical support organizations have been filling my inbox quite rapidly since the Dobbs decision, asking to be in partnership with us,” Dreith said, “it felt really good to have the surrounding states to Illinois kind of already supporting each other in that work and not having to do it in a moment of crisis.”

In addition to facilitating relationships for MAC full-time, Dreith also works part-time at an abortion clinic. She said that clinics are working tirelessly to address the increased need for abortion access by expanding hours and opening new locations where possible. Dreith said that life inside the clinic can be hard on workers who are already potentially making below a living wage.

“I wish we would take care of ourselves a little bit better,” she added, “and I think we would do better at servicing the patients and the clients we see, too.”

Planned Parenthood, the most prominent operator of abortion clinics in Illinois, has been significantly impacted by the SCOTUS decision. Chief Medical Officer Amy Whitaker told Newsweek that in the week following the overturn of Roe, Planned Parenthood Illinois scheduled over 750 appointments for out-of-state patients. By contrast, she said that in a normal year her clinics usually serve around 100 out-of-state patients in an entire month.

Planned Parenthood has 17 clinics throughout Illinois, all of which are able to provide oral abortion medication, with five of the clinics equipped to provide in-clinic abortion procedures. Whitaker said that the clinics have not seen any serious wait times due to the influx of patients, an important factor in what can be a time-sensitive procedure. However, she said the staff at abortion clinics have been dealt a “draining” task.

“I will say for me personally, I’ve done a lot of crying,” Whitaker said. “I find it very emotionally upsetting to see how much burden is being put on these patients.”

She said that out-of-state patients have come from as far as Arizona and Florida to find abortion treatment in Illinois. And while clinics have found a renewed sense of the importance of their work in wake of the influx, Whitaker can’t help but think of teams just like hers in states that have stripped away abortion access.

“Our team is really honored to be able to take care of [out-of-state patients] and are qualified and competent,” she told Newsweek. “But it’s heartbreaking to know they come from a state where there’s another group of equally competent trained people who are excellent health care providers and have every bit as much capability and skill to see these patients.”

Illinois lawmakers passed several bills to ensure protection of abortion access long before the SCOTUS’s decision to overturn Roe. In 2019, while other states were placing heavy restrictions on abortion, the state legislature signed into law the Illinois Reproductive Health Act. The bill protected access to abortion by requiring all public and private health insurance to cover the procedure, as well as expanding the pool of abortion providers beyond just trained physicians.

Whitaker said that although Illinois has come a long way to protect abortion more can always be done, such as increasing government funding for abortion clinics to treat both Illinois patients and others that the state has promised to protect.

“We are a safe haven in Illinois right now,” she said, “but there’s more that we can do and there’s more that we want to be able to do.”

The staff at Planned Parenthood has made it a priority to take care of each other now more than ever, Whitaker said, with conversations and expressions of gratitude among teammates increasing along with the number of patients. She said the staff includes behavioral health physicians who are available to staff members when “casual conversations and jumping in and being in this together are not enough.” Planned Parenthood is also currently working to hire more behavioral health personnel.

“We have a motto at Planned Parenthood of ‘in this together,’ and we always operate on that model,” Whitaker said. “But it definitely comes up stronger and more urgently when we’re in a situation like this.”

Source: https://www.newsweek.com/illinois-abortion-clinics-swamped-out-state-patients-after-end-roe-1729310

The right to an abortion will remain in the Kansas Constitution.

In the first ballot test of abortion rights in a post-Roe America, Kansas voters turned out in historic numbers to overwhelmingly reject a constitutional amendment that would have opened the door for state lawmakers to further restrict or ban abortions across the state.

The Associated Press called the race at 9:40 p.m. The vote “no” campaign led 59% to 41% after all precincts in the state had reported.

The vote stands as a major win for abortion rights advocates, preserving access in a red state as the procedure is banned or severely restricted in much of the region. It wasn’t just urban counties, like Democratic-leaning Wyandotte County, that turned out to protect abortion rights. Rural counties like Osage, Franklin and Lyon also voted “no” by significant margins.

Iman Alsaden, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood Great Plains hugged Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, as they celebrated a victory at the polls Tuesday, August 2, 2022, at the Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd. The group backed a ‘No’ vote on the constitutional amendment, which if passed, removes the right to an abortion from the Kansas constitution. Tammy Ljungblad tljungblad@kcstar.com

Shortly after 10 p.m., Iman Alsaden, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said she was still processing the vote.

“I am sort of speechless. I’m so proud to be a provider in this community. I’m so proud that I get to serve this community. I moved here two years ago from Chicago with the intention of providing abortion care in a place where there were not a lot of providers,”

Alsaden said. “It’s sort of unbelievable. I’m so proud to be able to go to work tomorrow and talk to my staff and give everyone a hug.

” The vote upholds a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that, in response to an attempt to ban a common second trimester abortion procedure, said Kansans had a right to bodily autonomy and therefore the right to terminate a pregnancy.

The movement against the amendment succeeded in turning out a wide swath of no voters, despite the amendment’s placement on a primary ballot many assumed would favor conservatives because of the greater number of GOP primaries.

They were able to stay competitive in rural counties, keeping the loss margin in western Kansas smaller than anticipated. Secretary of State Scott Schwab said early in the evening that anecdotal evidence indicated the turnout could match the 2008 presidential race— 63.3%.

More than $12 million was poured into the 20-month campaign. The race drew national eyes as a potential bellwether for how voters in a Republican state would respond to the abortion question once federally protected rights are gone. In a statement after the race was called, the Value Them Both Coalition blamed their loss on “an onslaught of misinformation from radical left organizations” spread by the “mainstream media.

” The coalition blocked several media outlets from their election night watch party, including The Kansas City Star and The Wichita Eagle.

Hannah Joerger, left, Amanda Grosserode, center, and Mara Loughman hug after a Value Them Both watch party after a question involving a constitutional amendment removing abortion protections from the Kansas constitution failed, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, in Overland Park, Kan. Charlie Riedel AP

“While the outcome is not what we hoped, our movement and campaign have proven our resolve and commitment. We will not abandon women and babies,” the statement said before calling for more support for pregnancy resource centers and post-abortion ministries.

The campaign against the amendment was fueled by a late June U.S. Supreme Court ruling (and late spring leak) eliminating federal protections for abortion rights found in Roe v. Wade.

“I think the Dobbs decision definitely felt like a gut punch to a lot of folks in our community and I know it did for me for sure. But once we caught our breath, we stood up straight, we got to work,” U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, told a crowd at a “vote no” watch party early in the night.

As Kansas’ neighbors, Oklahoma and Missouri, promptly banned abortion, and then struggled through confusion about the laws, forces on both sides of the issue in Kansas dove into one of the most expensive ballot initiative campaigns in state history.

The coalition against the amendment won over voters in the red state with messaging that appealed to libertarian sensibilities – warning about government control over private health care decisions and future bans on abortion.

In a speech after the victory was announced, Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, highlighted the focus on nonpartisan campaigning.

“We did the work of finding common ground,” she said.

“We got Kansas to have that conversation.”

Advocates for the amendment insisted that the vote would not directly ban abortion. They refused to answer questions about whether they’d seek a ban if it passed, even after Roe was overturned and the National Right to Life Committee published detailed model legislation to ban abortion in all 50 states.

Instead they sought to convince Kansans that, without a change to state the constitution, abortion would be rendered unregulated and uninhibited in the state. Kansas, they said, was guaranteed to be a destination for abortion.

Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, said he was devastated by the results and criticized Kansans for Life and the Value Them Both Coalition for poor messaging. “Today’s vote was a once in a decade vote and we lost,” Newman said.

“It’s a terrible defeat, there’s no way around it. And not for us, for the babies.

” The amendment proved to be a major driving force for primary voters, and many didn’t buy the “vote yes” campaign’s message.

Voters outside an Olathe polling place last week cited the amendment as the most important issue on the ballot. John Bundrick, a 33-year-old Olathe resident, voted with his young children in tow.

“We believe that life starts at conception and that every human has this God-given right,” he said. “Obviously she’s a mother and values what she does with her body but at the same time, having a little one inside is also a body that needs to be respected.”

People listen to a speaker at an election watch party for Value Them Both, a group in favor of a constitutional amendment removing abortion protections from the Kansas constitution, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, in Overland Park, Kan. Charlie Riedel AP

Sarah Heckman arrived to vote “no” with her mother. The 23-year-old said she normally doesn’t vote in primaries, but this vote was different. “It sets a precedent for the rest of the nation,” she said.

Even in traditionally red, rural counties, “no” voters turned out. In central Kansas’ Chase County, 527 of 1,093 voters opted to reject the amendment. In western Meade and Trego counties, “no” votes commanded about 30% of the vote.

The race was watched closely by national organizations on both sides of the issue, and in the political arena. Kansas’ commanding rejection of the amendment may serve as an indication that abortion rights will be a winning issue for Democrats this November and turn the tide on what was expected to be a Republican wave.

In a statement, President Joe Biden used the results to call on Congress to codify Roe into federal law.

“This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions,” he said. The “no” campaign received funds from national groups that advocate for abortion rights including the Sixteen Thirty Fund, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America invested $1.3 million campaigning for the anti-abortion amendment in Kansas. The Catholic church in Kansas positioned itself as a primary driver of fundraising and campaigning for the amendment.

“This is the first but certainly not the only opportunity that we’re going to have to get a sense of where the American people are at,” said Mallory Carroll, vice president of communications at Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America. “Outside the context of ballot initiatives when we’re talking to legislators at both the state and federal level is to be the most ambitious as possible as you can for life.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ABORTION IN KANSAS?

The amendment’s failure ensures that, at least for now, Kansas will be an access point for abortion in the Great Plains.

Only four clinics operate in the state currently, two in Wichita and two in Overland Park. But the state has long been among the easiest options for Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas clinics have seen increased call volumes since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe as access to the procedure across the region narrows. But it’s unclear at this point whether clinics will expand to accommodate more out of state patients.

In a statement, Trust Women, a Wichita abortion clinic, celebrated the vote and said they would prioritize providing care to women across the region and work to “expand and restore meaningful access to local abortions for all Kansans.”

“We cannot be content with the status quo. The loss of Roe has brought with it an unprecedented and manufactured health care crisis that is not solved by this election, but will significantly impact the state of reproductive health care across our region for years to come,” the statement said. Emily Wales, president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, applauded Kansans for putting “health care over politics.”

“Now, more than ever, our work continues. Planned Parenthood Great Plains has served Kansas for decades and tomorrow, we’ll wake up and do just that – but with the reassurance that people in Kansas will continue to make medical decisions that are best for their health, their lives, and their futures,” Wales said in a statement. But the amendment’s failure will not mark an end to the abortion debate in Kansas.

Though the amendment’s failure is a setback for anti-abortion activists, the issue has long held a prominent space in Kansas politics, and activists signaled they have no plans to give up.

As early as November, they’ll have the opportunity to attempt to oust members of the Supreme Court who declared abortion to be a right. Ousting judges could be a pathway to overturning the 2019 decision.

“I certainly think there’s a pathway with a different composition of judges,” said Elizabeth Kirk, director for the Center for Law and the Human Person at Catholic University. “It could be overturned if a future court thought that nothing in the 1859 state constitution included a right to abortion.

” The majority of the Kansas Supreme Court is currently made up of justices appointed by Democratic governors. But all but one of those justices is up for retention this year.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom and supporters gathered for an election watch party Tuesday, August 2, 2022, at the Overland Park Convention Center, 6000 College Blvd. The group backed a ‘No’ vote on the constitutional amendment, which if passed, removes the right to an abortion from the Kansas constitution. One supporter had a Ruth Bader Ginsberg doll on hand. Tammy Ljungblad tljungblad@kcstar.com

“If the amendment fails the other way to ban abortion in Kansas is change who’s on the supreme court,” said Patrick Miller, a University of Kansas political scientist.

“There’s another opening for conservatives this year.” If abortion rights advocates sued to overturn Kansas’ anti-abortion laws, as the primary “vote yes” campaign predicted, years of litigation lay ahead.

Otherwise, lawmakers will likely seek ways around the 2019 decision. And anti-abortion activists could try as soon as January to persuade a supermajority of lawmakers to place the amendment back on the ballot. State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican, said in an interview last month that the state will have to find a way to regulate abortion as much as possible.

“I just hope that people realize that if this amendment does not pass Kansas could be a state that has zero regulations on abortion,” she said.

Kansas currently heavily restricts abortion but advocates of the amendment have argued existing laws could be overturned under the 2019 ruling. But abortion rights advocates also say their fight isn’t over. Sonja Kudulis, 24, of Overland Park, went door to door in the KC metro last weekend and was intimidated at first.

But she said “even people who didn’t agree too much (with us) were happy to talk one-on-one” about the issue.

She will feel “relief and excitement.

But let’s celebrate for a couple of days and get back to work.”

Source: https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/election/article263832087.html

SIGNS IN FAVOR AND AGAINST THE KANSAS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT ON ABORTION ARE DISPLAYED OUTSIDE A LENEXA, KANSAS HIGHWAY ON AUGUST 1, 2022. (PHOTO BY KYLE RIVAS / GETTY IMAGES)

People received the texts just one day before the first state vote on abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Just hours ahead of the first state vote on abortion since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, multiple voters in Kansas are reporting that they’re receiving text messages attempting to mislead them on how to vote.

On Tuesday, Kansas voters are heading to the polls to determine whether to strip the state constitution of abortion protections. A “no” vote on the constitutional amendment means preserving the constitution, complete with abortion protections, as it currently states. A “yes” vote supports changing the constitution, a move that could open the door for abortion opponents in the state to further restrict the procedure or even ban it entirely.

Yet on Monday afternoon, after days of early voting, numerous people said that they got text messages that suggested the opposite was true.

“Women in KS are losing their choice on reproductive rights,” read the text, according to multiple screenshots posted to social media and seen by VICE News. “Voting YES on the Amendment will give women a choice. Vote YES to protect women’s health.” 

“Choice” is historically the political term associated with expanding abortion protections—not minimizing them. By describing a “yes” vote as a vote for “choice,” the text message could mislead people into voting against what they really want.

“It’s a blatant lie,” said Zoe Rey, a voter who lives in Topeka and said she received the text. “It says that it’s for reproductive rights for women and that it will give women a choice, and so it’s saying that [voting ‘yes’], that’s the pro-choice option basically, which is just not at all true.”

For Sam Jack, a librarian in Goddard, Kansas, who tweeted about receiving the text, the message was just part and parcel of the amendment supporters’ longstanding efforts to mislead potential voters.

“Obviously they waited until the last day before the election to send this, because it doesn’t give time for the counter-message of, ‘Hey, look they’re lying to you’ to penetrate,” Jack said. “But they’ve had more tactics to confuse and discourage pro-choice voters all along.”

In analyses dating back to before Roe’s demise, experts estimated that, without Roe, Kansas would become home to the closest abortion provider for an estimated 7.7 million women. It is already difficult for Kansas abortion clinics to meet the demand for appointments; if abortion is banned in the state and its abortion clinics go dark, pregnant people will have to travel even further out of the South and Midwest to get abortions. 

It’s not clear who sent out the mass text on Monday. The Value Them Both coalition, which is leading the charge on supporting the amendment, told a local news outlet that they were not involved with it.

“This is not from any member organization of the Value Them Both coalition, nor the coalition itself,” Mackenzie Haddix, deputy communications director of the Value Them Both coalition, told a local Fox outlet. “All Value Them Both coalition communications include identifying information of the source, which this text does not.”

However, in a Twitter thread, the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission said that the law that governs campaign finances doesn’t deal with whether advertising is misleading. “Text message advocacy about constitutional ballot initiatives does not require paid-for disclaimers,” the group added.

The vote in Kansas, which has pitted neighbor against neighbor, is set to have both immediate and long-term political and practical implications. It’s the first test of abortion rights supporters’ ability to harness the rage and momentum over Roe’s overturn and turn it into political success—something they’ll need to do if they want to preserve abortion access in the numerous states where it will be at stake in the midterms. 

Plus, if the Kansas state constitution loses its protections for abortion, abortion foes will be free to pursue more restrictions, including a total ban. Although Kansas has a Democratic governor, Republicans rule the state Legislature with supermajorities in both houses.

“I’m concerned that there will be a total ban, or if we’re lucky a total ban with those narrow exceptions for life of the mother and maybe rape and incest,” Jack said. “But maybe not even that.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/epzzmn/kansas-abortion-vote-text-messages

The CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health is moving to Carbondale, Illinois to continue providing care to patients.
 Austen Risolvato and Cage Rivera/Rewire News Group illustration

Abortion providers from states where abortion is outlawed are bringing their expertise to haven states at a critical time.

As soon as news broke that the Supreme Court would hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the team at CHOICES Memphis Center for Reproductive Health began seriously considering a second location in a state where abortion would remain legal should the Court overturn Roe v. Wade. Tennessee’s “trigger” law meant that abortion would be banned in the state after Roe was overturned.

The plan for a second CHOICES location was solidifying in December 2021, by the time the Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“We had provided abortions for almost 4,000 people that year,” CHOICES President and CEO Jennifer Pepper said. “We knew those folks were going to need somewhere to go.”

That’s why, shortly after the majority draft opinion was leaked in early May, CHOICES was prepared to announce a new location in Carbondale, Illinois that will be state’s southernmost abortion provider. Carbondale is about three hours by car from both Memphis and Nashville, and it’s also accessible by Amtrak. In addition to its relative accessibility for abortion seekers traveling from the Southeast, the location is critical because Illinois is relatively protective of abortion access, but is surrounded by states that are expected to ban abortion (or, in the case of Missouri, already have).

CHOICES hopes to open its newest clinic in September. The Memphis center will continue to provide sexual and reproductive health services even after Tennessee’s “trigger” law goes into effect August 25, outlawing abortion.

Knowing this moment would eventually come, Pepper said she’s been communicating with staff about their options since January. Those who had been involved with providing abortion care may relocate to work in Carbondale, while others will stay in Memphis and be retrained in other services, like birthing.

Pepper said CHOICES delivered just under 100 babies last year after opening a birthing center in 2020.

“This year we’re on track to almost double that. Ultimately, we want to be doing about 450 births a year,” Pepper said. CHOICES also hopes to expand access to other services it already provides in Memphis, including gender-affirming care, gynecology, and general wellness.

CHOICES is in a unique position: adding a new location in a haven state and staying open in a state that currently bans abortion after six weeks, before most people even know they’re pregnant. The move to Carbondale is financially feasible because the Memphis center already provided other services in addition to abortion.

Pepper said CHOICES has been preparing for the eventual reality of abortion being illegal in Tennessee since the 2014 passage of Amendment 1, which declared there was no state constitutional right to abortion. In expanding its services to include midwifery, general gynecology and wellness, and LGBTQ health, CHOICES adopted electronic medical records and got set up to take insurance, major obstacles for many abortion providers due to cost and insurance coverage bans on abortion.

Not an isolated incident

For many abortion clinics in states that have banned or will ban abortion now that Roe is overturned—which, in addition to their limited ability to accept insurance, had been forced to invest heavily in meeting onerous facility and licensing requirements—it was impossible to pivot to providing other services quickly enough to keep their doors open.

Plus, abortion providers are experts at well, providing abortions.

“Saying to us, ‘You can stay open to provide gynecology services, but you can’t do abortion, is like saying to a heart surgeon, ‘You’re no longer allowed to provide heart surgery, but you can still screen people’s blood pressure,’” said Whole Woman’s Health CEO and President Amy Hagstrom Miller. Whole Woman’s Health is packing up its four Texas clinics and moving to a border city in New Mexico.

“New Mexico is the closest place where abortion is protected for many people from Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona to travel,” Hagstrom Miller said. “But the closest we could get to Texas would still be a drive of nine hours from the Rio Grande Valley.”

Whole Woman’s Health has fought through numerous time periods in Texas where its clinics were forced to close temporarily. But with the elimination of the constitutional right to abortion, the abortion landscape has forced relocations.

“I bristle when someone says we’ve decided to close our clinics,” Hagstrom Miller said. “We didn’t decide—we were forced. We have been banned from providing abortion.”

Whole Woman’s Health clinics in Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, and Virginia remain open, and Hagstrom Miller said she is considering further expansion to border areas in the future, such as Colorado, southern Illinois, and western Virginia.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the lone Mississippi clinic at the center of the case that overturned Roe, is also moving to New Mexico. Another independent provider, Red River Women’s Clinic, is relocating just across the state line from North Dakota to Minnesota.

A new approach for a new community

Abortion providers from states where abortion is banned are bringing their expertise to haven states at a critical time, Pepper said.

“The demand in these areas is going to outweigh the availability of services,” she said.

Pepper grew up in southern Illinois, and she was able to leverage personal connections to get to know the Carbondale community. She said CHOICES has been intentional about making itself a part of the community and has received a warm reception.

“Our plan in Carbondale is to eventually offer all the services we do in Memphis, but for practical reasons, we have to do it in a phased approach, so we started by asking people in Carbondale what they need,” Pepper said. “And what we heard is that they really need gender-affirming care.”

People in Carbondale, which is a college town, have been traveling hours away to St. Louis, Nashville, and Memphis to access gender-affirming care, so abortion and gender-affirming care will be the first services offered at CHOICES Carbondale.

“I hope that’s the approach everybody takes to opening new clinics, especially in rural areas,” Pepper said. “This is going to be a big change for a town of 26,000 people. There will be some economic benefit because people will be buying gas and food, and paying for hotel rooms. But we still need to come in and be an asset to the community.”

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2022/08/01/we-were-forced-abortion-clinics-move-across-state-lines-to-stay-open/

Self-managed abortion is the process of self-sourcing abortion pills and managing one’s own abortion outside a formal health-care setting.
 LightFieldStudios/Envato

Safe use of misoprostol for self-managing an abortion can be revolutionary.

In June 2020, Carol’s life changed.

“I found out I was pregnant, and then my husband, who is an alcoholic, left very soon after,” said Carol, 33, whose name is a pseudonym for privacy reasons. “He left; disappeared. I have three kids already.”

It was several months into the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, and uncertainty was at an all-time high. “Being pregnant during COVID and having a baby by myself—with everything going on, I couldn’t deal with that,” Carol said. She needed an abortion.

Carol had heard about Aid Access, an Austria-based online telemedicine nonprofit providing medication for self-managed abortion to people in the United States.

After filling out an online consultation and receiving approval from Aid Access doctors, Carol was sent misoprostol. Typically, Aid Access prescribes mifepristone and misoprostol, a two-step regimen that involves a progesterone blocker (mifepristone) and a medication that causes the uterus to contract and expel the contents (misoprostol). But because of shipping disruptions due to the pandemic, mifepristone was difficult to acquire at the time, and Aid Access was relying on the effectiveness of misoprostol alone.

Carol had previously worked as a doula and was familiar with using misoprostol for miscarriage management. She received the medication and opened an email from Aid Access with step-by-step instructions for self-managed abortion. The instructions included information on how to take the medication, what to expect, and signs of a potential complication. While rare, Aid Access advises people to be aware of severe and persistent abdominal pain, heavy bleeding of more than two maxi pads an hour for more than two hours, a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and discharge with a bad odor, which could be a sign of an infection. If a complication arises, Aid Access doctors advise people to seek follow-up care at a hospital.

Later that day, Carol’s friend came over to watch her children and offer support. Carol read through the directions one more time and, at ten weeks’ gestation, successfully self-managed her abortion at home using misoprostol.

When I asked about her experience, she was calm. “I’m just happy to pass along whatever information that can possibly help somebody else,” she said.

Since the Supreme Court released its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and overturned Roe v. Wade, the legal landscape surrounding abortion has evolved daily. “Trigger” laws have gone into effect in some states, while temporary state-level actions in others have kept clinics open.

Meanwhile, the public has started to learn more about the medication abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol, while activists and academics alike are sharing information on how to protect your digital footprint when searching for abortion care.

This is a public health emergency, and we have a duty to inform people of the robust body of scientific evidence regarding safe methods for self-managed abortion.

Safe use of misoprostol for self-managed abortion can be revolutionary.

Misoprostol was originally created to treat stomach ulcers; Brazilian feminists in the 1980s discovered the medication could also induce abortion. Since then, misoprostol has transformed access internationally by providing people with a safe, effective, and cheap method for abortion.

Echoed by some is the notion that we are going back to the “pre-Roe times” of “back-alley abortions.” But because of advances in pregnancy detection, the accuracy of individual assessment of gestation, and medication abortion pills, this new era will likely be very different.

Like Carol, many people will turn to self-managed abortion—the process of self-sourcing abortion pills and managing one’s own abortion outside a formal health-care setting. This process has been found to be safe and effective, especially when people source medication from valid online sources and are guided through the process by physicians or feminist accompaniment groups.

Newly released World Health Organization guidelines recommend self-managed abortion as a safe option alongside clinical management, and organizations like Plan C make it easy for people to learn about authentic sources for medication.

Misoprostol in particular, which some refer to as the original medication abortion pill, has long been used throughout the world for early abortion care. In the United States, when people refer to medication abortion, they typically refer to the two-medicine regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol.

However, recent evidence on the safety and effectiveness of misoprostol alone has reinvigorated the conversation. Studies of self-managed abortion using misoprostol alone have found extremely high levels of effectiveness, ranging from 93 percent to 99 percent of participants reporting complete abortions without surgical intervention.

The history of misoprostol is one of ingenuity, liberty, creativity, and an ongoing collaborations across international feminist movements. In Mexico, misoprostol is readily available over-the-counter in pharmacies, and Mexican feminist activists are motivated to assist people in the United States. Due to its wide range of applications, it is stocked in U.S. pharmacies as well, and it is not regulated by the onerous FDA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation (REMS) classification that makes mifepristone only available from certified clinics, providers, and via telehealth models and qualified pharmacies in a handful of states.

However, people in the United States still need a prescription for misoprostol. For those who acquire it for self-managed abortion and live in states where abortion is now illegal, it holds the heightened risks of criminalization and surveillance. Most recently, in the case involving a Texas woman who was arrested for allegedly self-inducing an abortion, state laws have been used to intimidate and confuse people—part of a long history of prosecutors using laws associated with pregnancy and reproduction to police and criminalize.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Biden administration’s response leaves much to be desired from our elected officials. Federal lawmakers can both challenge laws that have been wrongly used to criminalize people and move to federally decriminalize self-managed abortion. Researcherslegal experts, and professional organizations (including the American Public Health Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have made calls for this initiative.

This is a public health emergency, and we have a duty to inform people of the robust body of scientific evidence regarding safe methods for self-managed abortion. Although these methods are certainly not a panacea and may not be feasible or preferable to many seeking care, we do have evidence for their safety and efficacy. The moment to share this life-saving public health information is now.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2022/07/29/post-roe-why-this-abortion-pill-is-more-important-than-ever/

PHOTO BY SCOTT OLSON VIA GETTY IMAGES

In states with partial or total abortion bans, providers are facing threats and patients are struggling to access potentially lifesaving care.

Since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion across the nation, was overturned by the Supreme Court just over one month ago, there have been medical emergencies, guttural screams, celebrations, legal battles, and… emails. A lot of emails. 

Laurie Bertram Roberts has been on the receiving end of plenty of them, mainly from people wanting to give money. Bertram Roberts helps run an abortion fund, The Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, which aids people in paying for abortions and related costs. The fund has received an outpouring of support since the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization gave states the power to limit or straight-up ban abortions.

Bertram Roberts has been doing this work for over a decade (and predicting the fall of Roe v. Wade for much of that time), and they worry the emails and donations will only keep coming for so long before the attention wanes. They’ve seen waves of supporters from blue states passionately rallying around an issue like abortion rights when a threat to access is nigh, only to abandon ship for another cause when the news cycle changes. Although Bertram Roberts says they’re incredibly grateful for the crucial support their fund has been receiving, they worry the contributions and well-wishes will only last so long. Bertram Roberts compares vying for allies’ attention to dating “fuckbois” who are everything you need one day, but out the door the next. “They love you today, but tomorrow, they’ll leave you for climate change,” Bertram Roberts said. 

Meanwhile, in a world where 26 states are expected to ban or limit abortion, if they haven’t already, Bertram Roberts’ biggest fear is that limited access to abortion is already becoming too commonplace. That people are shrugging and moving on as though abortion access has always been so constrained (to be fair, politicians have been restricting abortion for years, especially since the 2010 midterm elections) and as though there’s no use fighting them. “I already hear people normalizing people traveling these great distances to have an abortion,” they said. Although self-managing an abortion through pills (which can be obatined without a provider — for example, you can buy them online through a platform like Aid Access) is still a generally safe, cheap and effective way for many people to have abortions up to about 12 weeks in pregnancy, the option isn’t fit for everyone, medically or generally. There are also worries of future criminalization, which leaves some people in the lurch with only the option to travel. 

Trying to quickly sum up all that’s happened in the chaotic 30-some days since Roe v. Wade was overturned—to hear all the stories of people who couldn’t get access to abortions, of those who had to jump through hoops to get life-saving medical care, who lost their jobs, fought against a ban in court, or who feared prosecution after self-managing an abortion—would strip the stories of the nuance they need. Instead, we asked a few people within the movement what they’ve seen on the ground since the Roe reversal—and why they believe we can’t abandon the fight.

What’s happened at abortion funds since the Roe v. Wade Reversal?

On July 6, Jackson Women’s Health Organization carried out its last abortion. The Mississippi clinic—which was at the heart of the case that reversed Roe after the clinic challenged a Mississippi abortion ban—is now closed for good. Bertram Roberts said the official closure was one of the most challenging days they’ve faced in the past month. “There’s so much grief, and I don’t mean just grief, I mean grief,” they said. 

There had been reports in the media and on social media that the clinic “was about to close” for years. Because of that drumbeat of misinformation, some Mississippi residents already thought it had shuttered. “For some people, it didn’t change anything,” Bertram Roberts said. “But then what did change was, Oh, no—now there are no clinics in Memphis. Now there’s no clinics in Little Rock.” 

Another shift: Since Roe’s fall, the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund has fielded calls and chats from a new group of people needing abortions, whom they hadn’t heard from before: “People who have a little higher income, who would have been able to make it to Jackson, but they can’t make it to Atlanta without help,” Bertram Roberts said. (In a fact-checking call, Bertram Roberts said they actually would no longer send abortion fund clients to Georgia, due to the six week ban that went into effect last week. Now, they’re most likely to help folks travel to Illinois, showing how options are disappearing by the week.}

And there are the people the fund hasn’t been able to help for myriad reasons—minors with unsupportive parents who can’t get out of school to travel, people with disabilities, caretakers, those with inflexible work schedules, or people with abusive partners. “We’ve already had callers who—it doesn’t matter how much money we have available—they’re not going to be able to go,” Bertram Roberts said. “It’s too far away, they can’t be away that long… There’s really nothing else to say but, ‘I’m sorry and we’re here to support you, whatever your next step is.’ We virtually handhold.” 

Meanwhile, at funds like Bertram Roberts’, supporting those who need abortions often has to take precedence, even over processing donations, especially after such a hectic past month, Bertram Roberts said. This brings us back to the emails. Bertram Roberts said their inbox has requests from people wanting to give money from a month ago that they haven’t gotten to yet“We’re asking for people’s patience because I know people think we’re ignoring them, and we’re not, but we just have to triage what we get to in a day,” Bertram Roberts said. “That even includes people offering us money… We [have been] working on abortion requests or media requests that were time-sensitive first before [getting] to even money emails. Which sounds absurd, because we need the money.” Bertram Roberts estimates the fund has received double the typical support since Roe’s reversal. 

Meanwhile, Bertram Roberts is constantly consulting lawyers about how the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund can help people post-RoeWhat can and can’t they fund now? For years, they’ve helped lower-income folks pay for abortions and associated costs like gas, planes, hotels, childcare, and food. In this new world, are they allowed to provide possibly life- and definitely dollar-saving information about how to self-manage abortion

“We’re not ending our services in any way,” Bertram Roberts said. “We might have to change them, but we’re not closing.” 

Not every fund in the U.S. has been able to adapt. “We have made the deeply difficult decision to temporarily pause our services for the safety and security of our clients, our supporters, and our staff,” The Yellowhammer Fund wrote in an email announcement. “During this time, we will consult legal experts to reassess how best to continue doing our work in the immediate future.” (The Yellowhammer Fund, which had been known for helping folks who needed abortions in the Deep South, has not responded to email and phone requests for comment from VICE.) 

At least seven funds in Texas have reportedly been shuttered due to the legal risk of “aiding and abetting” abortions. Right as folks need additional support the most, some funds are being forced to stop giving it to them.

What have doctors seen since the Roe v. Wade reversal?

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, MD, an abortion provider in Texas, has noticed an uptick in harassment from anti-abortion protesters happening outside of the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice where he works in Houston. “The shouting, the things they’re saying, just feel more aggressive than usual, more intense,” Kumar said. “It just seems like they feel they have more of a right to be there now.” 

Kumar said he and others walking into the clinics receive “threats to report us to the state. [Demonstrators are] telling us we don’t need to work here, [and that we are] killing babies. They’re videotaping us, including our license plates, [and] misleading our patients and increasing their anxiety.”

This kind of intimidation isn’t new for the clinic, but the fact that protestors keep showing up to the Houston center is almost ironic: The center hasn’t performed any abortions since Roe fell. As soon as the decision came down, they halted any abortions they had still allowed to carry out under SB 8, a Texas law that went into effect on September 1, 2021 that effectively banned abortion after six weeks. 

The health center team didn’t continue abortions in the brief period of access after a lower court judge blocked a pre-Roe abortion ban from going into effect in Texas (a decision which was swiftly undone). “We chose not to provide [during that small window,]” Kumar said. “Given the intense way that pre-Roe law was written 100 years ago, and given the pattern of behavior from our attorney general, Ken Paxton, and his ruthless, relentless attempts to target folks that provide abortions and to try to ban everybody from accessing it, we were hesitant to move forward and provide that care at that time.” 

Physicians like Kumar are in a unique position: They’re most commonly the people who are actively punished by the law when state abortion bans go into effect. “You’re thinking about multiple lawsuits, about losing your medical license, about ultimately going to jail for providing health care, and it’s very, very scary to think about that,” he said. 

The impact on people who need abortions is sometimes harder to quantify than years of jail time abortion providers may face, though the famous “Turnaway Study” out of the University of California, San Francisco, is a good start. The long-term research, which began over a decade ago, found that those who were turned away from abortion clinics and who carried pregnancies to term instead were four times more likely to end up living below the federal poverty line than those able to have their abortions. Those who were denied a wanted abortion had worse health outcomes and serious complications with their pregnancies, such as eclampsia and death. They were also more likely to stay connected to abusive partners. 

Kumar added that the Dobbs decision now in effect is having a chilling effect on access to all kinds of health care. Abortion bans like the one in Texas are typically vague as to what kind of emergency care is and isn’t allowed. The laws and their language can be murky, and they’re often not tailored to modern medicine. Doctors don’t know for sure if they can be punished for even providing resources to someone who needs care, like information on self-managed abortion

How have abortion bans impacted real people since Roe was overturned?

There are already too many examples of confusing laws leading to devastating outcomes playing out across the country just in the last month.

One person with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy reportedly had to travel across state lines to the University of Michigan Hospital because doctors where they lived worried that they could be sued if they provided care to the patient because a fetal heartbeat was present. (In response to a request for comment, the University of Michigan Hospital’s OB/GYN team confirmed: “We have seen patients with ectopic pregnancies referred from other states because of restrictions on abortion care. We cannot provide further details due to patient privacy.”)

In Wisconsin, the Washington Post reported that a woman bled for 10 days after an incomplete miscarriage. The staffers in the emergency room treating her wouldn’t remove fetal tissue due to the confounding state of abortion laws.

As was widely publicized throughout the country, a 10-year-old rape survivor from Ohio had to travel to Indiana for abortion care. 

These are just a few examples of so-called “exceptions” to abortion bans (some abortion bans make exceptions for rape, incest, and life-threatening medical issues, but these caveats to bans are not always practical in effect; proving the that you are the exception to the rule is often laborious and emotionally taxing, if not impossible) that made national news. Abortion can be life-saving or life-changing no matter why you need one, advocates like Bertram Roberts said, whether or not you’re having a medical emergency, and no matter where you live. “The impacts [of Dobbs] are still unraveling,” Kumar said. “Stories will continue to come out, and I think, unfortunately, they will become more intense and serious. In time, we’ll start to see more statistical differences in maternal morbidity and maternal mortality… We already see that maternal mortality is higher among folks of color, specifically among Black women. We’re going to see more Black and Brown people dying because of the bans on abortion.” 

As we look ahead to the coming months—whether or not we keep donating to abortion funds and sending angry emails and yelling about abortion rights—Kumar said that every day, real people will be impacted. They’ll keep coming into emergency rooms. Keep continuing unwanted pregnancies. And, the sad truth is, the more all this happens, the more commonplace these stories will become. As Bertram Roberts says, the more bans and restrictions are put in place, and the more exhausted people get, the more this will become, yet again, our “new normal.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/3add8b/roe-v-wade-overturned-impact-abortion-rights-reproductive-healthcare