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Crisis pregnancy centers are fake abortion clinics set up by anti-abortion extremists to deceive people seeking an abortion into not having them.

There are more than three times the number of crisis pregnancy centers than there are abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Picture this: You’re pregnant, and you need an abortion. Maybe you’re not ready to be a parent; maybe you have a medical condition that makes pregnancy dangerous for you; maybe you already have the size family you want; maybe you just don’t want to be pregnant.

Whatever the reason is: It’s valid. So you Google and find a clinic near you so you can have an abortion. You find one that says they offer pregnancy services, so you call to get more information and they tell you to come in. When you pull into the parking lot, you notice it’s right next door to another abortion clinic—which you find odd, but the website seemed legitimate and the person on the phone was warm and disarming so you go ahead with your visit.

But once inside, things start to feel off. You’re ushered through a series of rooms, handed leaflets, and shown videos about the risks of abortion and the mental toll it will take. You’re given a “free” ultrasound to see your fetus; despite never asking for one, it doesn’t really feel like a choice. Finally, you’re taken to a room filled with baby clothes and other items new parents would stock up on.

It’s too late now, but you’re realizing this isn’t an abortion clinic at all. It’s a “crisis pregnancy center.”

CPCs are fake abortion clinics set up by anti-abortion extremists to trick people seeking abortion into not having them. They often set up shop adjacent to real clinics to really up the ante on the deceit. These fake clinics force patients to have ultrasounds and sit through lectures on how abortion gives you cancer and how it will murder your soul and rob you of your ability to have more children and how it will anger god—you know, the usual.

There are more than 2,500 of these hellholes around the country, which is more than three times the number of abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Many are not medical facilities and there are no uniform licensing requirements. Oh, and they’re taxpayer funded. Tens of millions of dollars from federally funded abstinence education programs were funneled directly into CPCs under President George W. Bush; most recently, CPCs received at least $4 million from the government’s pandemic bailout.The unfortunate truth is deceptive pregnancy centers have the law on their side.

And if you’re reading this and thinking, um… what the fuck? Well, you’re right. CPCs are more than just a money-draining nuisance—for many patients, a CPC can delay access to actually having an abortion at, you know, a real clinic. The federal money these fake clinics receive is a blatant affront to the separation of church and state as, unsurprisingly, many are religiously affiliated. Not to mention, they are part of a grander scheme of anti-abortion culture that perpetuates violence against patients and providers. And they do it all under the guise of “pregnancy counseling” or some other vague phrase they know will mislead people into thinking they actually provide care.

For what it’s worth, some lawmakers are trying to change this.

Connecticut lawmakers on the Public Health Committee voted Monday to send a bill to the state senate floor that would allow CPCs to be sued for deceptive advertising by the state’s attorney general. Opponents of the bill say the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act would cover any actionable behavior by CPCs, but their logic becomes transparently flawed when you consider they also argued the nature of the bill was “defamatory” in its treatment of CPCs.

“Rep. Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford, a chief proponent of the bill, recalled at least two doctors who said patients of theirs had been deceived in a pregnancy center,” the Connecticut Post reported. Gilchrest went on to say:

There’s a lot of shame placed on women. A lot of blame placed on women. Women are actually physically sometimes under attack when seeking abortion in our state and country. To me, this legislation is about creating uniformity across the state and ensuring that regardless of the website that a woman visits, or the crisis pregnancy center she walks into, she receives medically accurate information.

Sounds reasonable enough, which raises the question: If the only aim of legislation like this is to ensure patients receive medically accurate information, doesn’t the opposition have to concede its comfort with or outright advocacy for lying to patients? For providing information that’s misleading and anti-science?

The unfortunate truth is deceptive pregnancy centers have the law on their side. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a California law requiring these fake clinics to post disclosures about what they really do violated the First Amendment. This just reinforces the same old hypocritical playbook we see from anti-abortion folks all the time: crying “First Amendment violation” because they can’t scream at patients walking into clinics—or lie to them to get care.

But while the information they peddle might be fake, the consequences are very, very real.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/02/27/taxpayer-funding-for-lying-the-crisis-pregnancy-center-story/

COLUMBUS – Ohio’s “heartbeat bill,” one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bans, never took effect. 

But 1 in 10 Ohio women thought abortion was illegal in the state anyway, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

While most Ohio women, about 64%, understood abortions are legal in Ohio, another 26.2% weren’t sure and 9.8% incorrectly believed all abortions were illegal in the state, according to an eight-month review of the Ohio Survey of Women led by Ohio State University professor of epidemiology Maria Gallo.

A disproportionate number of women from certain demographics incorrectly believed abortion was illegal in Ohio: those who were younger, of lower socioeconomic status, unmarried or Black.

That’s a problem because these women already face structural barriers to accessing health care and the confusion surrounding whether abortion was legal didn’t help, Gallo said. 

“They are the people who get hardest hit by every misinformation campaign and every health disparity,” said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “It’s inexcusable.”

People rally to support and oppose the "heartbeat bill" outside the Ohio House of Representatives chamber at the Ohio Statehouse on April, 10, 2019.

A fight over the heartbeat bill led to mass confusion over whether abortion was legal in Ohio.  JACKIE BORCHARDT/CINCINNATI ENQUIRER

Current Ohio law bans abortions after 20 weeks gestation. Other laws to restrict access to abortions, passed by the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature, are tied up in legal battles. Those include a ban on abortions after a diagnosis of Down syndrome and the so-called “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortions as early as six weeks gestation.

Between October 2018 and June 2019, confusion about the legality of abortion in Ohio increased, growing from 4.5% of women believing it was illegal to 15.9%, according to the study. 

During that time, Ohio lawmakers debated and eventually passed the heartbeat bill, which would penalize doctors who perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law has an exception to protect the life of the mother but not rape or incest. The changes were later blocked by a federal judge who issued a preliminary injunction.

The flurry of activity surrounding the bill, and the widespread media coverage of that activity, was confusing for some Ohio women, Gallo said. “It’s a confusing process if you weren’t following it very closely.” 

Ohio Right to Life backed the heartbeat bill and other restrictions on abortion during that time. Spokeswoman Allie Fraizer said the truth is her organization’s greatest asset. 

“If people think that abortion is illegal in Ohio, it hampers our ability to have conversations about how much work still needs to be done,” spokeswoman Allie Frazier said. “This is why we communicate daily with Ohioans about the status of our state’s pro-life legislation and impart with urgency the need to protect tiny babies with beating hearts from the violence of abortion.” 

Copeland contended that abortion opponents intentionally muddy the waters to confuse Ohio women. 

“One of the goals of anti-abortion groups and anti-abortion lawmakers is obviously to eliminate abortion access,” she said. “One of their stock and trade tools in that is creating confusion about the legality of abortion.”

Ultimately, Gallo said there’s a takeaway for doctors in Ohio: “Healthcare providers shouldn’t assume that their patients know that abortion remains legal.”

Source: https://eu.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2021/02/18/amid-heartbeat-bill-fight-ohio-women-were-confused-legality-abortion/6779262002/

The only way for abortion opponents to win is to keep Republicans in office—and they know it.

Susan B. Anthony List is teaming up with Ken Cuccinelli to cater to conservative white voters’ unfounded fears of disenfranchisement.
 Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

One of the greatest tricks that Trump has pulled was convincing white conservatives that they were being disenfranchised by Black voters. It’s a neat trick, and actually rather clever, even though he did not mean it to be. (If there’s one word I would use to describe Trump, clever is not it.) 

Still, conservative white people, most of whom I would bet have never had to worry about their right to vote being stripped from them, are now suddenly very concerned about election integrity. And wouldn’t you know it, Ken Cuccinelli, who has been whining about nonexistent voter fraud since before he lost the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe, is here to help. 

Cuccinelli has a new Election Transparency Initiative and, with the help of Susan B. Anthony List and American Principles Project, is mounting a challenge to kill HR 1, the greatest proposed legislative overhaul of voting rights in the United States since the Voting Rights Act in 1965. HR 1, dubbed the For the People Act, would require states to enact automatic voter registration so that, for example, when a person goes to the DMV to get a driver’s license they are automatically registered to vote. It would also require same-day registration, promote internet registration, put in place mechanisms to deal with voter intimidation, and increase transparency when it comes to campaign finance, among myriad other reforms. 

Make no mistake: White Republican voters’ fear of being disenfranchised are nonsense. There is no law targeting white voters qua white voters for disenfranchisement. A white voter may be poor or a student or a senior or live in a rural area, and so they may be affected by voter suppression—laws that require photo ID or laws that cancel your vote if you submit your ballot in the wrong precinct or laws that cancel your voter registration if you don’t exercise your right to vote for an election cycle or two. But a white voter will not be targeted for suppression efforts because they plan to vote for Republican candidates. You’re not going to find any case law asserting that white voters were “targeted with surgical precision.” (That’s what the Fourth Circuit ruled with respect to Black voters when it struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law in 2016.)

So why is the Susan B. Anthony List, one of the most powerful anti-abortion lobbying groups in the country, teaming up with Ken Cuccinelli, the boy who cried election fraud, and other socially conservative groups to kill the For the People Act? 

Because preventing HR 1 from becoming law is anti-abortion activists’ last stand. Their 47-year long crusade to criminalize abortion and their efforts to cobble together a political constituency based on policing pregnant people could grind to a halt if they were forced to play by the same electoral rules as everyone else. Harnessing conservatives’ baseless fear about election integrity is the best way forward when it comes to their forced birth agenda.

So of course anti-abortion advocates are now outing themselves as anti-democratic operatives as well.

For months leading up to the 2020 election, Trump planted the seed that he, and he alone, would win the election. Any other result was de facto invalid and evidence of widespread voter fraud, Trump claimed. And when he lost the election to Joe Biden, a large contingent of his supporters were already primed to believe that the fix was in—because they’d been told for months the fix would be in. The election was rigged! Time to storm the castle! (Which they went ahead and actually did.)  

Remarkably, Trump is still claiming he won the election in a landslide, even though he 100 percent did not; what’s even more annoying is that the media has been reporting on Republicans’ flagging trust in the integrity of U.S. elections as if Trump and his cronies didn’t purposefully cultivate that distrust beginning in 2017, when Trump’s bruised ego wouldn’t permit any belief that he lost the popular vote.   

Trump spent years lying about voter fraud—about dead people voting and “illegals” voting—so is it any surprise so many Republican voters think our election system is crap?

The funny thing is, they’re not wrong. The election system in this country is crap. The electoral college is crap. The fact that voting isn’t compulsory is crap. The fact that in California I can walk into my polling place and it only takes me  five minutes to vote while a Black woman in Georgia can expect to wait upwards of  eight hours is crap. But that’s not why red hats stormed the Capitol on January 6, leaving five people dead and a nation wondering what the fuck was going on.

Republicans have spent decades undermining the integrity of U.S. elections with false claims about voter fraud, and now they have millions of people who believe Biden stole the 2020 election. And to prevent something that never happened in the first place from ever happening again, Republicans in states across the country are passing even more strict voting laws designed to thwart the will of the people—if the will of the people doesn’t jibe with Republicans’ will. These laws will further disenfranchise already disenfranchised Black and brown voters.

None of the voting rights laws being proposed in any state will fix the voting fraud that Republicans keep complaining about. The real fraud is coming from Republicans themselves as they implement increasingly stringent restrictions that lead to thousands of Black, brown, and Indigenous voters being disenfranchised. But the new “election integrity” laws will make conservative white voters, who have been convinced that their right to vote has been stolen, feel better because these laws are intended to ensure that their candidates win. And for conservative white voters, that is the true measure of fairness in elections: It’s only fair if their candidates win. 

This sentiment was on full display when the likes of Madison Cawthorn—who looks like if Armie Hammer joined the Hitler Youth—and Marjorie Taylor Greene—who looks like a barely sentient doorknob grew hair and then started yammering incoherently about Jewish space lasers—complained that the very ballots that elected them to Congress were fraudulent only to the extent that the person who turned in that ballot voted for Joe Biden and not Donald Trump.

Yes, the electoral system is crap. And the only way to turn the crappy tide is to enact the For the People Act. The very future of democracy in this country rests on Democrats’ ability to pass HR 1 and reenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of Black and brown voters who have had their voting rights stripped from them in the wake of the Supreme Court’s demonstrably disastrous 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder.

In Shelby, the Court rolled back the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s protections and permitted states, including those with long histories of voter suppression, to implement new voting laws without any outside oversight. Before Shelby, if Jim Crow County in West Racist U.S.A. wanted to pass a voting rights law that would negatively impact Black and brown voters, the lawmakers in West Racist would have to go through the Department of Justice first. But after Shelby, states were permitted to enact laws that would not have been allowed if the DOJ had any say in the matter.

HR 1 would correct a lot of the voter shenanigans that Shelby engendered over the last 8 years—in North Carolina, North Dakota, Georgia, Ohio, IndianaTexas, and elsewhere—and anti-abortion activists cannot allow that to happen. If HR 1 gets through the House and Senate and somehow slips past the 6-3 Federalist Society Supreme Court—and “somehow” is doing a lot of work here, given the apparent willingness of Clarence Thomas to permit the federal government to meddle in state elections—then it’s game over for anti-choicers. 

Anti-choicers daydream about enshrining personhood into law and tossing preggos into prison if they so much as think about getting an abortion. In their dream world, the lima bean-sized embryo in a pregnant person’s womb has the same rights as the pregnant person. (It also has thoughts about the series finale of Game of Thrones.)

 But to get to that promiseland, anti-choicers need to ensure that the very same Black and brown people whose “preborn lives” they routinely pretend to care about are stripped of their right to vote and, in so doing, of their right to determine their own destiny. 

For all of the success anti-choicers have had in winnowing down abortion access to practically nothing, their continued ability to do that depends on Republicans maintaining power at the state and federal level. And to maintain power, Republicans need to suppress Democratic votes. And the best way to suppress Democratic votes is to craft laws that claim to protect election integrity but actually do the opposite. It means enacting ostensibly race-neutral laws that disproportionately impact Black and brown people and make it harder for them to vote, while pretending that’s not what you’re doing. 

Because the fact of the matter is this: People are becoming more pro-choice. Most peope in this country do not oppose abortion. Anti-abortion activists have spent the better part of 40 years throwing everything they have, including millions of dollars, at this fight, and still people are becoming more pro-choice.

That means Susan B. Anthony List is going to do whatever it can to make sure HR 1 doesn’t become law. That means keeping Black and brown people from voting because when Black and brown people vote, they vote for Democrats. And 99.9 percent of Democrats want to expand abortion access, not shrink it.

So of course the SBA List is teaming up with Ken Cuccinelli and American Principles Project, one of those conservative think tanks that touts itself as pro-family but is really only concerned about making sure women aren’t having abortions or wearing pants in the workplace.

It’s the only way they can win.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/ablc/2021/03/02/anti-abortion-advocates-are-trying-to-keep-black-people-from-voting/

Public consultation led by the MHRA is looking for views on the potential reclassification of two pill types

The MHRA’s Dr Sarah Branch said: ‘We hope to hear from as many people and women’s groups as possible.’ Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Two types of the contraceptive pill could be sold over the counter for the first time, the government has announced.

As part of a public consultation, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking for opinions on the reclassification of two progestogen-only pills.

If the medicines – Lovima 75 microgram film-coated tablets and Hana 75 microgram film-coated tablets – are reclassified, it will be the first time daily contraceptive pills will be available over the counter at a pharmacy.

At the moment, the contraceptive pill is only available on prescription following a medical consultation.

Dr Sarah Branch, director of vigilance and risk management of medicines at the MHRA, told PA Media: “Every response received will help us gain a better picture of whether people think the contraceptive pill with desogestrel [a synthetic form of progestogen] should be available over the counter. We hope to hear from as many people and women’s groups as possible.”

The proposals have been labelled a “positive step” by a consumer healthcare association.

Last year a report by a cross-party group of MPs found that many women in England were struggling to access contraceptive pills as a result of underfunding and cuts to services, which was only made worse by Covid-19.

The report warned that reduced access to contraception would affect marginalised groups the hardest, with young people possibly put off from going to see their GPs about contraceptives.Advertisement

Michelle Riddalls, chief executive of PAGB, the UK trade association that represents the manufacturers of branded over-the-counter medicines, said the body backed the the reclassification of the pills.

“The MHRA consultation represents a landmark opportunity in women’s health and one which we hope will be viewed positively,” she said.

“Both Maxwellia [a British drugmaker] and HRA Pharma [a French drugmaker] have asked the MHRA to permit the sale of their progestogen-only pill products under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist.

“As expert healthcare professionals, pharmacists are fully equipped to offer advice to anyone seeking information about over-the-counter medicines.”

She said the application to reclassify the medicines had “particular significance as they are the first to seek over-the-counter licences for any form of daily contraceptive pill, 60 years after the pill in its original form was made available via prescription on the NHS for married women only.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/12/contraceptive-pills-could-be-sold-over-counter-for-first-time-in-uk?fbclid=IwAR1VqlYOaNJSuX7KYuJcOEub2Cic79AWvmQRhNaOD7Xyef-66R_IGHIYy3g

Republicans in state legislatures across the country are waging an “all-out assault” on the rights of women and pregnant people to make their own decisions on abortion.

A 2019 Stop Abortion Bans Rally in St Paul, Minnesota. (Lorie Shaull / Wikimedia Commons)

In January, feminists were relieved to see the blue sweep of the White House and both bodies of Congress. But, as the saying goes, something’s gotta give—and this election season, that “something” was state legislatures.

During the most recent election cycle, at the local level of state legislatures, Democrats fared poorly, while Republicans either maintained or grew state-level power. Currently, 30 state legislatures are controlled by Republicans, compared to just 18 controlled by Democrats. In 16 of these state legislatures, Republicans hold a veto-proof supermajority.

With almost all state legislatures now in session, Republicans are using this unchecked power to propose and pass an incredible amount of anti-abortion legislation aimed at curbing access and forcing pregnancies to term by any means necessary—from Arizona’s 10 different pieces of legislation attacking reproductive freedom, to states like ArkansasIdaho and North Dakota, all of which are eyeing total bans on abortion. (Trans rights and voting rights, among others, are also under attack at the state-level.)

These efforts could not be more out-of-touch: Seventy-seven percent of Americans, across party lines, support the landmark abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade, and 78 percent support abortion in at least some circumstances—solidifying a decisive outpouring of support for legal abortion.

At the federal level, the Biden administration has made clear its desire to codify Roe v. Wade. But while many wait for federal legislation like the EACH Woman Act, which would ensure abortion access doesn’t depend on income, or the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would create a safeguard against bans, the lives of pregnant people on the ground—Black and brown women in particular—hang in the balance.

So for now, the fight to secure abortion access is left to state lawmakers. Ms. editor Roxy Szal was lucky enough to speak to three of them.

black women legislators, abortion bans, state legislatures, south carolina mia mcleod, ohio erica crawley, kentucky attica scott
Rep. Crawley.

Ohio Rep. Erica Crawley, a member of the state Black Maternal Health Caucus, has proactively fought back against abortion bans and restrictions in her state to protect and expand reproductive rights in Ohio. Rep. Crawley has also spoken up about her experience with sexual assault in response to an abortion ban without exceptions for rape in 2019.

black women legislators, abortion bans, state legislatures, south carolina mia mcleod, ohio erica crawley, kentucky attica scott
Sen. McLeod.

South Carolina’s Sen. Mia McLeod has a strong record of championing reproductive freedom in the state, which has passed some of the most extreme abortion legislation in recent years. Just this week, the state of South Carolina is gearing up to pass a six-week abortion ban—a de facto ban on almost all abortions.

black women legislators, abortion bans, state legislatures, south carolina mia mcleod, ohio erica crawley, kentucky attica scott
Rep. Scott.

Kentucky Rep. Attica Scott, the first Black woman to serve in the state’s legislature in more than 20 years, has led legislative efforts to address the maternal mortality crisis and ensure Medicaid coverage of the cost of doulas. Rep. Scott was also among protesters in Louisville who were arrested after the officers who killed Breonna Taylor weren’t indicted.

Sen. McLeod and Reps. Crawley and Scott broke down how these laws came to be and the tools and steps feminists must take to fight back.

Roxy Szal: Last month, a Born Alive Bill became law in Kentucky, which would put in place requirements for the care of infants born after failed abortions and could send doctors to prison if they fail to comply. Meanwhile, the South Carolina legislature is about to finalize legislation that would ban abortion as early as six weeks of pregnancy. And a recent Ohio law forces fetal remains to be buried or cremated, and abortion providers who don’t comply could face jail and a fine. 

How did these laws come to be?

State Rep. Attica Scott (D-Ky.): I began serving in the legislature here in Kentucky in January 2017, and from that first day until today there has been an all-out assault by the Republican supermajority on the rights of women to make their own reproductive health decisions. So, I’m not surprised, but I am disgusted by the latest attempt to basically harass and lie about what really happens when a woman choose to have an abortion. Instead of our legislative body focusing on the real issues like eliminating poverty, we’re focusing on how to have power, domination and control over other people’s bodies.

State Sen. Mia McLeod (D-S.C.): I can’t begin to imagine what goes through the minds of our South Carolina GOP leaders, but this is nothing new. It’s not new to South Carolina. I’m sure it’s not new to other states across the country. There’s been this war on women’s reproductive rights since I’ve been voting, and I know that those assaults have preceded me.

But to make this bill a number-one priority when, in our state right now, we’ve had over 7,000 COVID-19-related deaths and about 450,000 exposures to the virus in less than a year. Our vaccination rollout has been abysmal, and these are the same people who refuse to wear face masks to protect the living, but they call themselves pro-life. So, I don’t ever refer to them as pro-life, because they’re not.

They are pro-birth, and they’re anti-women. And I’m baffled at the level of hypocrisy, because the very next day they pushed through a pro-death penalty bill. They have no regard for the living. They don’t care that George Floyd was asphyxiated by a law enforcement officer and murdered in broad daylight. They can’t even say Black Lives Matter. They always cut the very programs that women, and their babies, and their families need to survive. They refused to spend any time even debating raising the minimum wage.

I also have a bill that would raise the amount for unemployment, when I realized that some individuals who are currently unemployed receive as little as 42 dollars a week, which is unconscionable. We’re at a place where we’ve got to focus on the things that actually move our state forward for everybody in it, and I’m not seeing that. Haven’t seen it in my years of service, and I’m still not seeing it. And if we’re not seeing it during a global pandemic, then that really puts a damper on the hope that we can have for the future if nothing changes.

State Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Ohio): If you’ve just been tracking Ohio over the last six years, maybe eight years, there’ve been 21 different pieces of legislation that have restricted access to abortion care or reproductive healthcare, and this is just another one of those bills. There is an obsession here among older white men in being involved in decisions between women and their doctor.

So this was just another one of those, and they were trying to create another burden for women. Any way that they can make it hard to access care, they will do that, as well as shame women. And because we are in the super-minority, where they have 64 members to our 35, there’s not much we can do, other than making a case in committees and using the press to raise awareness.

black women legislators, abortion bans, state legislatures, south carolina mia mcleod, ohio erica crawley, kentucky attica scott
“Support and amplify the legislators, particularly Black women, who are the most underrepresented in state government across this country … while at the same time calling out the hatred that we’re seeing from these state legislative bodies,” Rep. Scott told Ms. (@atticascott4ky / Instagram)

Szal: What tools or strategies do you have as a state legislator to stop these bills from becoming law? Are you able to play offense and defense—you know, introducing good bills on access—or are you staying busy just fighting the horribles?

Rep. Scott (Ky.)What I have chosen to do as a “reptivist”—which people called me when I got elected, because I come from an activist and organizing background—is really work to educate people about what’s happening in state government. A lot of folks focus mainly on what’s happening in D.C. and sometimes overlook what’s happening at the state level.

So, my role from the beginning has been to be as an educator—working with groups that are mobilizing and organizing to support them in amplifying their message for people to take action, to know who their elected official is and to contact those individuals to make it clear that they are opposed to these efforts to strip power from us to make our own decisions about our body.

I know that it makes a difference because even when we lose these battles, people still are engaged and they’re increasing in their engagement—particularly in this global pandemic when so many people are tethered to technology anyway. More and more people are engaged. In fact, I had a state rep say to me that he had gotten more emails about one of the bills I’m working on than he’s ever gotten before. So, if we talk about building collective power, then that’s what we’re doing. We may have lost the fight so far to fend off some of these anti-abortion actions and deny women the right to make their own health care decisions, but we’re winning in the power that we’re building across Kentucky.

Sen. McLeod (S.C.): The horrible bills always keep us busy, but I try not to give into the distractions, because that is what they are designed to do, is to divide and distract. I will say that we are facing an uphill battle with these and other issues now. We were able to defeat them when they brought this matter up a couple of years ago, and that had never been done. We fought like hell to keep them from passing this legislation, and we won.

Unfortunately, we lost three seats on the Democratic side of the Senate. So, our ability to stop them or even slow them down has diminished significantly. Before, we tried to keep bills off the calendar, that was a tool that we had to at least slow the bill down. But now, they have the votes to push it on special order without us, because [the Republicans] have a supermajority.

In addition to having introduced the Viagra bill in 2016 [to make it almost as hard to get erectile dysfunction drugs in South Carolina as it is to get an abortion] when I was in the House, knowing that it would go nowhere, I’ve also introduced another bill that would give Republican lawmakers an opportunity to put their money where their mouths are. If they’re going to force women to have babies, then I think the state should pay for it. I’m really going to push for them to at least have a hearing on the Pro-Birth Accountability Act, because I think it’s important for not only our Republican lawmakers, but our Democratic lawmakers too, and the public at large to understand that if we want to talk about heartbeat as the beginning of life, then there are expenses that come along with that heartbeat.

As that fetus grows, as that baby is born, the state has a responsibility. As a woman who’s had two children of my own, I know that not only are there expenses related to the fetus that you’re carrying, but also your health and wellness. And when that baby gets here, he or she needs food, and clothes, diapers, all of the things that so many women cannot afford.

Rep. Crawley (Ohio): We counteract these pieces of legislation with other pieces of legislation. Ohio has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the state. We don’t have a great maternal mortality rate, either, and so we try to shame the majority who say that they are pro-life, but are okay with babies dying—especially Black babies, who are dying at three times the rate of white babies. And in the last report out of our pregnancy-related deaths, 57 percent were determined to be preventable.

We don’t have any measures in place to make sure that we have access to data and reporting as well as making sure that there’s racism training, cultural competency training. So we keep introducing that legislation, and it doesn’t go anywhere. So, any time that they bring up abortion bans, we bring up, “You say you’re pro-life, but you’re really anti-abortion, because if you were pro-life, the other pieces of legislation dealing with maternal health and infant health would fly right through.”

“There is an obsession among older white men in being involved in decisions between women and their doctor.”

Szal: What do you think will be the real-life impact of these laws and others like them? 

Rep. Scott (Ky.): As a state representative who represents part of a predominantly Black area in Louisville, I know that the impact of bills like this so-called “Born Alive” bill—which is really a lie—is to instill fear in people to pursue abortion access. We’re talking about people who can’t afford to be a parent—especially in this pandemic, women in Kentucky are now the largest percentage of people pursuing unemployment insurance. So, they say, “We’re going to force you to give birth but we’re not going to address any of the bills that would actually support you should you choose to have a child.”

So, it’s really designed to instill fear in people like Black women, who are my neighbors, but who the supermajority may never, ever engage in conversation with or know their life experiences. So, I have to be responsible to and responsive to Black women who are wondering, “What does this mean for me?”

But it also is designed to rowdy up that base that we saw on January 6 that stormed the United States Capitol building. These kinds of bills really are designed to go back to people who believe that they have the right to continue to control people’s bodies like they did during slavery, to rile them up, to make them think you’re really doing something to continue to push forward their regressive and repressive agendas. You’ve seen it because these very same people have come to the capital multiple times over the past year in our state capital in Frankfurt. So, we’ve seen that their efforts are playing out in parallel ways to what we saw happen on January 6 in Washington DC.

Rep. Crawley (Ohio): When women who have an abortion have to bury the remains—one, they don’t have money. We know that Black and brown women especially already have access to care issues when it comes to waiting times and paying for services, and then to have to pay for cremation is just another burden. And then to think about that mental health impact that goes along with that, it could create toxic stress and possibly impact negatively future pregnancies.

Another way that this impacts women is that an abortion ban passed last year that didn’t take into consideration rape or incest. We will have women who take measures into their own hands, and that can lead to a loss of life or having to travel to other states that may not have the best safe practices to have a safe and accessible abortion. 

These measures don’t stop abortions. What they do is increase the chances of death or serious injury for women who are seeking abortions.

“[Anti-abortion laws] are designed to rowdy up that base that we saw on January 6 that stormed the United States Capitol building.”

Szal: Extreme abortion laws are popping up at the state level across the country. Why now?

Rep. Scott (Ky.): Well, at the same time we just had someone introduce a resolution in our State Senate applauding Trump for his service as President of the United States—it’s terrifyingly connected. You have very harsh anti-choice measures being passed and you also have people affirming someone who was the president who incited a riot. That’s all happening at the same time that you see this rise in white nationalism and white racial hatred. 

So, I’m not surprised that we’re also seeing these anti-abortion measures happen in different parts of the country and increasingly so. I think it’s an aggressive “This is our country. We stole it, we own it, just like we stole people and owned them and let’s get back to that.” Because when I think of Make America Great Again, the message was: “Let’s make it what it was when Black people had no voice. Let’s make it what it was when we were able to abuse women without real repercussions.” That’s what I hear.

Rep. Crawley (Ohio): I think this is a way for the white majority to stay in power, and I think Black and brown women are impacted disproportionately by these bans and these barriers that are put in place. If you look at the national level, where there continues to be conversation around immigration and banning people from coming into this country who do not look like the majority, that threatens the white men in power. To keep the majority, you have to have more babies being born, and so that’s why I believe you see this cropping up at such an exponential rate in state legislatures.

But also, most of these legislatures are up for redistricting, and these extreme laws have only been able to pass because of gerrymandering. So, as our districts are re-mapped, we will end up taking up more seats. The voter turnout [in Ohio] tends to be 51 percent Republican, 49 percent Democrat—but they hold 64 seats. That will change here in the next few months. So, this term, you will see even more extreme legislation coming out of Ohio because they’re losing their supermajority.

black women legislators, abortion bans, state legislatures, south carolina mia mcleod, ohio erica crawley, kentucky attica scott
“Black and brown women are impacted disproportionately by these bans and these barriers that are put in place,” Rep. Crawley told Ms. (@EricaCCrawley / Twitter)

Szal: Will there be any legal challenges to the new law in your state? 

Sen. McLeod (S.C.): Absolutely, and [the proponents of the S.C. bill banning most abortions] are aware. That was acknowledged on numerous occasions on the floor when we debated this bill. These Republicans are aware that that bill will not go into effect even after the governor signs it into law, and of course, he stated that he would, can’t wait for it to come to his desk.

They are well aware that this bill will be enjoined. There will be legal action taken as soon as it’s signed. They’re well aware that the state will spend countless dollars to defend the lawsuit, and to fight it all the way up to the Supreme Court, and they’re okay with that. 

[State] Senator Cash (R-S.C.), one of the lead sponsors, is reported as having said, “When it comes to saving a life, there’s no amount of money that’s too much.” And I committed that to memory, because I want to be able to recall that, as soon as I have an opportunity, as soon as they cut the program, and sources, and support to women and children.

Szal: What is something you wish people understood about abortion?

Rep. Scott (Ky.): I wish people understood that this is a really hard choice for someone to make and it’s not made lightly, and we don’t know the reasons why people make the choices that they make. Oftentimes, people make choices based on the options that are in front of them. 

It’s also none of our business why someone makes the choice that they do to have an abortion. My mother had an abortion and it’s not my business to know why she did, but I also know that she struggled with addiction to both alcohol and drugs and died from an overdose when I was 16.

So, this is deeply personal and we are failing as a society in addressing some of the basic human needs like housing, shelter, food, utilities, water, that people have and yet we want to force someone to give birth because we think we have the right to do that.

Sen. McLeod (S.C.): I wish that people understood that the reason that these Republicans push this issue is not because of abortions themselves. Right now in South Carolina, in less than a year, we’ve had way more people die of COVID-19 than we have had fetuses aborted. But they have hijacked this issue, and framed it in a way that is to their advantage politically, and for the sake of getting reelected, they have made it their number-one priority.

But I think the broader discussion is, or should be, the fact that the government has no place in this discussion. I mean, we are very quick to remind the general public about our rights when it comes to gun laws, and our constitutional rights and freedoms when it comes to wearing a face mask, and all of these freedoms and liberties that they, that the very proponents of this bill, seem to take for granted and insist on for themselves.

But when it comes to this one issue—and it just happens to be an issue that they know absolutely nothing about, because the God that they claim to serve didn’t give them the capacity or the ability to carry or deliver a child—it’s just amazing that we, as a state, would be willing to just jump on that bandwagon.

I get emails from people across South Carolina who say, “Please support the heartbeat bill, killing an innocent baby is wrong.” Well, yeah, killing an innocent baby is wrong, and I’m not pro-abortion, but I just don’t believe that I’m God either, and it’s not my decision to make. I just wish that people would leave that to God, because we should not be playing God on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays of every legislative week.

I also believe these men don’t care enough to even hear about the fact that organizations that provide abortions also provide women’s reproductive health care services, and for some women, that’s all they have—for contraception, for annual pap smears and other exams. They have shown repeatedly that they really don’t care whether we have access to the services that we need.

Rep. Crawley (Ohio): I wish that people understood that abortion is just like any other health care service that we seek, and that people use the excuse of religion or try to take this moral high ground, but it has absolutely nothing to do with someone not being religious or amoral. It is just people having access to their own bodily autonomy. 

Forcing women to give up their right to make a decision for their own bodies, I akin it to being like during slavery—especially for Black women who did not have access to their own bodies, who were forced to bring children into the world just so they could be slaves and serve their masters. Bringing pregnancies to term is another way to have control over women and take their own rights away, and I think that’s a slippery slope.

“We are failing as a society in addressing some of the basic human needs like housing, shelter, food, utilities, water, that people have. Yet we want to force someone to give birth because we think we have the right to do that.”

Szal: What’s the disconnect? Why don’t people understand the reality of abortion care; is it a messaging problem, an education problem?

Rep. Scott (Ky.): Going back to the whole idea of maintaining that power, domination and control on people’s bodies. I will always remember my first session in our legislature in 2017 on the last day, all the Republicans had those red MAGA hats on their desks. Unbelievable. I’m the only Black woman there and this is what I’m having to face down. 

So for me, it is that continued belief that white people have the right to decide, to choose for themselves what everybody is going to do with their bodies and with their lives. It’s difficult to break through that kind of white nationalism and that white racial hatred and also that belief that if you’re not of a certain economic or educational status then you don’t get to make choices anyway. It’s only reserved for the elite of us who are in political office or have financial wealth.

Rep. Crawley (Ohio): I think they’re pretending because they don’t want to come across as if they really don’t care. They don’t care about providing social services to families to take care of a growing family, because if they cared, then they wouldn’t be trying to cut SNAP benefits and access to food at every turn. They don’t care about people having health care because, if that was the case, they would not be trying to get rid of Medicaid expansion, which gave access to 700,000 more people who would not have had it.

But they can’t just walk around and be like, “I don’t care about people”. They have to come up with a reason or an excuse for their actions, and so it’s “You’ll be damned to hell, and it’s a sin against God, and we have to protect the unborn because they can’t make decisions for themselves.” 

black women legislators, abortion bans, state legislatures, south carolina mia mcleod, ohio erica crawley, kentucky attica scott
Republicans “have hijacked this issue [of abortion], and framed it in a way that is to their advantage politically, and for the sake of getting reelected,” Sen. McLeod told Ms., pictured here with Vice President Kamala Harris. (@MiaforSC / Twitter)

Szal: What can Ms. readers do to take action?

Rep. Scott (Ky.): I hope they will support the bills that are about making a difference in people’s lives. Support and amplify those pieces of legislation. Support and amplify the legislators, particularly Black women, who are the most underrepresented in state government across this country. Support their work. Support our work because we’re filing maternal care acts. We’re working on issues around infant mortality. We’re working on issues like Breonna’s Law to address violent policing which is another form of control over our bodies. We’re doing that work. So, acknowledge that, while at the same time calling out the hatred that we’re seeing from these state legislative bodies.

My daughter always says to me, “We don’t move in fear.” So, I encourage Ms. readers, don’t move in fear. You have every single right to challenge, to question, to call out legislators who are attacking our bodies and our right to make our own decisions. You have every right to say I’m going to support the Black women, who against all of these odds are still showing up every single day and fighting for all of us.

Rep. Crawley (Ohio): We have our advocates, and our allies, like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, but it can’t just be the same people as usual. Everybody has to be on the front lines, men and women, because this affects everyone. We need to be in the committee hearings. We need to be making phone calls until they turn the phones off. We need to be flooding them with emails. We need to show up at the U.S. Capitol or the state capitol and have our voices heard. 

We need people to run for office. We just need more people to run for office at every level of government, because the more people that we have running for office who care about these issues, that means that there are less people on the other side who are trying to restrict access to care.

Sen. McLeod (S.C.): I think the short-term strategy would be to just engage women, people that these bills impact directly. A lot of them don’t have the luxury of really tuning into everything that is happening around us that impacts us. Half of our population is women and girls. And out of the 5-point-whatever million people we have here, about 1.2 million of those women are registered voters. So, we really need to expand that, because we’ve got some room for growth, in terms of expanding the electorate there, and I think that’s key.

I’m definitely not one who will ever roll over and say, “We’re outnumbered, we can’t, there’s nothing else we can do.” I’m going to fight to the death, that’s just who I am, but I think that that is a pivotal starting point. If we want a new beginning, we’ve got to change the players, because as long as we have these folks who care nothing about transparency, accountability, or our rights…I mean, we’re talking about abortion, but for me, as a Black woman, they don’t care about my life, my sons’ lives.

And it’s just time for a change. We have to be that change, and we have to take it to the people who are impacted by this, and inspire them, mobilize them, and energize them, and help them to understand that it’s all about serving and doing what you can where you are. Everybody can’t run for office, but everybody can make a difference. Everybody can speak up, everybody can reach out to their elected officials at the state level, at the local level. 

It’s all about getting in where you see an opportunity, and where you want to engage, and at the level that you want to engage. It’s past time to make sure that people are armed with the information that they need to be able to do something, and to help them understand how they can make a difference.

Source: https://msmagazine.com/2021/02/18/black-women-legislators-abortion-bans-state-legislatures-south-carolina-mia-mcleod-ohio-erica-crawley-kentucky-attica-scott/?fbclid=IwAR1_pMAOW8J5uzVbOImS0Inlq8DdHBweVpjQ9JXItbtStJqwSvjYdH_IM7A

Last year, as Maggie, a 30-something Brooklynite, navigated the coronavirus pandemic, she learned that she would have to navigate another, more personal challenge at the same time: getting an abortion. For Maggie (who declined to provide her last name for privacy reasons), finding a compassionate abortion fund to help walk her through her optionswasn’t difficult, and she could easily pay the out-of-pocket cost for the abortion pill. Her partner of 11 years was supportive of her decision. In the end, accessing her abortion was so easy that it actually reminded her of all the ways politicians attempt to restrict abortion access — and how many other people who might need abortion care live in states where things aren’t as smooth as they are in New York.

“To have this as a uniform service would make things so much better and cover so much missing ground for women out there who are struggling with this decision and access,” Maggie says.

This “missing ground” that Maggie is referring to has been created by the patchwork of laws passed by state legislatures that have chipped away at abortion access since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that the government could not pose an undue burden to patients seeking abortion care. In the near half-century since that landmark decision, individual states have put laws on the books to restrict abortion access as well as limit reproductive freedom, particularly of low-income birthing people.But on a larger scale, these laws are designed to do something even more insidious: trigger a new judicial fight that will overturn Roe.

Advocates for abortion care are steadying themselves for the battle. “I’d say, [in] the last year and a half or so, [we’ve been] ramping up and figuring out how we would navigate an even more restrictive environment where Roe is decimated,” Yamani Hernandez, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF), tells Mic. That preparation involves helping state-level abortion funds raise as much money as they can so that anyone who needs abortion care can access it, regardless of income.

A combination pack of mifepristone and misoprostol tablets, two medicines used together that are commonly referred to as the abortion pill. [Photo by ELISA WELLS/PLAN C/AFP via Getty Images]

And the fight against Roe is imminent. The 2020 appointment of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett solidified a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court, thus making it much more likely that the justices will vote on the next abortion-related case to reverse Roe‘s protections.The conservative tilt on the bench, coupled with the introduction of state-level bills that limit abortion access and stigmatize the procedure, means that we’re living through a period of “unprecedented” attacks on abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive policy think tank. Case in point: Guttmacher says over 500 abortion-restricting bills have been introduced at the state level in the past decade.

The reason for the glut of new bills is simple: If they do pass, they will almost certainly be challenged in a lower federal court. Then that decision will likely be appealed to a higher court, and a subsequent appeal might potentially be taken up by SCOTUS. It’s all part of a “coordinated attempt between state legislators and national organizations and other anti-abortion folks to chip away at the protections that the Constitution provides for abortion,” says Elisabeth Smith, the chief counsel for state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

A few current contenders:a new bill in Mississippi that would make it a felony to provide an abortion; another in Arizona that would allow abortion providers to be charged with homicide; a just-passed bill in South Carolina that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, which the governor is reportedly “eager” to sign into law; and a new bill in Arkansas would ban abortion in all cases except to save the life of the birthing person, which excludes provisions for rape or incest.

The large majority of bills are likely to be struck down by the federal court system, Smith says, and CRR itself will be litigating the new South Carolina abortion ban. But the legal fight is the point, she explains; it’s not so much about passing these individual state bills without incident, so much as it is about using them to get the ultimate victory: a national ban. The authors and proponents of these bills know that one of the Supreme Court’s responsibilities is to provide guidance to states about which laws are constitutional and which aren’t. And if the high court decides to hear, say, a case from Mississippi that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the ruling in that case could have a massive impact on abortion care nationwide.

Many of these legislative attacks have already been successful. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights’s “If Roe Fell” interactive tool, the vast majority of states do not have protections in place to guard against a potential reversal of Roe. Only seven states, including California and New York, have laws on the books that strengthen, expand, or codify abortion access by state law or state constitution (i.e., separately from Roe‘s national protections). But for those living in the other 43 states, abortion will likely be outlawed or at the least severely restricted if Roe falls.

“The Supreme Court has had to sometimes hold the line, and then sometimes it’s let the line slip on abortion.”

If that happens, abortion access would be thrown into a sort of purgatory: not fully legal, but not fully illegal. For instance, Virginia does not have a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion access or any statelaw codifying a right to abortion care, but it doesn’t have any restrictions on the books, either. The same goes for Colorado, a state that historically has been tolerant of abortion access. “Colorado does not have very many restrictions or bans, [and] there are multiple providers,” Smith says, but “if Roe was to be limited or overturned, there would be a question about the level of protection those providers would have.”

Rosann Mariappuram, the executive director of Jane’s Due Process, a Texas-based organization that helps minors access abortion care, tells Mic that “the Supreme Court has had to sometimes hold the line, and then sometimes it’s let the line slip on abortion.” She’s referring in part to the 20-week abortion banwhich theSupreme Courtallowed to take effect after a 2016 battle over a package of laws in Texas that became nationally known as House Bill 2. That move inspiredLouisiana to use the same model in 2019, when the state passed an identical piece of legislation to Texas’s House Bill 2 that was ultimately struck down by SCOTUS in 2020.

In the case of House Bill 2, the court didn’t allow the law’s other restrictions to take hold, like the demand that abortion providersretain unnecessary and arduous hospital admitting privileges. These kinds of provisions are known as “TRAP laws,” short for Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers, and are exactly the kinds of laws that make their way through the court system and up to the justices.

Importantly, though, the split on the bench in 2019 was 5-4; Barrett had not yet replaced the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”Now, we don’t have the 5-4 majority, and there are multiple cases percolating through the [federal court system]that could severely restrict access,” Mariappuram tells Mic. She notes that even if the court decided that a 15-week ban was constitutional byredefining the standard of fetal viability to be 15 weeks instead of the 24-week mark established in Roe, “that would be a huge blow.”

That’s because a number of states have 15-week bans on their books that would be made state law immediately by such a decision. It “would have the same outcome of basically making abortion illegal,” Mariappuram says.

“The reality for Indigenous communities and peoples is that there have been so many legislative acts” that have prevented them from accessing reproductive autonomy.

Nicole Martin, an organizer with Indigenous Women Rising, a New Mexico-based abortion and midwifery fund, says that the increasing legislation of abortion is a continuation of settler-colonialism that’s embedded in the framework of the U.S. These colonial systems impose what Martin calls a “mentality of power and control” that affects the lives and communities of Indigenous people in particular, as well as the resources available to them.

“The reality for Indigenous communities and peoples is that there have been so many legislative acts” that have prevented them from accessing reproductive autonomy, she says,including the Indian Health Services’s (IHS) forced sterilization of Native women and girls and the fact that federal funds cannot pay for abortions, which means that Native patients who receive abortion care through the IHS are forced to pay out of pocket. The situation is particularly difficult for these communities becausethe U.S. tries to make “Indigenous people codependent on settler state infrastructures,” Martin says.

As it stands now, New Mexico is relatively tolerant of abortion compared to other states. But”when you have more restrictions in one state, that means you often have to travel to another state” to access care, Hernandez says, noting that NNAF clients travel an average of 100 to 150 miles for care.The potential dismantling of Roe would centralize abortion care in just a few states, making it even harder for someone to access the procesure.

Even still, one state’s lack of abortion restrictions does not make up for a national, permanent protection of reproductive rights. No central network of governmental or institutional abortion providers and advocates exists to help patients secure access to the procedure; Planned Parenthood probably comes closest, but even they struggle withproviding services to some under-resourced communities. And with more attempted assaults on Roe pouring out of statehouses every day, it’s up to individual organizations likeIndigenous Women Rising to pick up the slack.

“If our tribal or state or federal governments are [not] gonna do it, we have to be the ones to be able to take on that responsibility to lead with the core values of community,” Martin says about protecting abortion access for Indigenous peoples.

It’s important, necessary work. But it should not fall to her to do it.

Source: https://www.mic.com/p/the-nefarious-network-of-state-bills-trying-to-kill-roe-once-for-all-62348743?fbclid=IwAR1KmeBHawpSaWNBs7B5XLv6y-qUaZfp5BYPh3WGRpvNvamLgFUKytR8rRI

The 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, who was unable to get an abortion in Ireland, set off nationwide opposition to a ban on the procedure. What happens when a similar case arises in Poland?

A demonstrator rises a cloth hander during a pro-choice protest in Warsaw – Aleksander Kalka/ZUMA Wire    

WARSAW — Have Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his PiS political party allies ever heard about the tragedy that happened in Ireland eight years ago? Do they know what unfolded in a waiting room of the Galway Roscommon University Hospital?

They will remember that Irish anti-abortion laws had always been as restrictive as they are in Poland right now. But they know those laws changed two years ago — and it can be traced back to that hospital in central Ireland in 2012.

The patient was named Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist and amateur Indian dance instructor. She was 17 weeks pregnant. She said she was in pain and felt there was a problem with her pregnancy. Doctors found that the fetus was in very poor condition, but its heart was still beating. Irish law at the time only allowed abortion if the woman’s life was in danger.

Savita’s husband, Paraven Halappanavar, an engineer at a medical instruments company was told that “Ireland is a Catholic country and we can’t terminate a pregnancy…” His wife was sent home, where she experienced excruciating pain for four days straight. Paraven demanded an abortion, pointing out that he practiced Hinduism and that the tenets of Catholicism did not apply to him or his wife. The doctors refused, fearing prosecution and imprisonment (in Ireland, a doctor faced possible life imprisonment for an abortion, though it usually turned into a 10-year sentence).

On October 28, 2012, Savita died from sepsis caused by the complications that followed her spontaneous miscarriage.

Paraven Halappanavar sued the Galway University Clinic, as well as the Irish government. Soon after, 20,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Dublin, demanding the lifting of the ban on abortion in the Irish Constitution.

Savita Halappanavar died from sepsis caused by the complications that followed her spontaneous miscarriage — Photo: Karl Burke/DPA via ZUMA Press

This ban had been quietly violated for years through abortion tourism practiced by Irish citizens traveling to Britain. The Catholic Church in Ireland remained steadfastly opposed to the lifting of the abortion ban, even while it extended its sympathy to Halappanavar’s family. Bishop John Fleming explained that putting the life of an unborn child and its mother on the same level takes root in the teachings of the Church. According to the Bishop, this is why Ireland has the lowest rate of infant deaths: four per 100,000, while in the U.S. and the rest of the European Union, the number rises to 14 per 100,000.

Yet Savita’s case awakened the conscience of the Irish public and, in 2018, in a referendum, 66.4% of the participating citizens voted to remove Article 8, banning abortion from the Irish Constitution. In 2019, a new law was introduced, giving women the choice to have an abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy. Savita Halappanavar’s story had become a key element of the pro-choice campaign that led to the new legislation.

Here in Poland, because of the October 2020 ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland, the PiS party is opening the way for tragedies like Savita’s.

There is a risk that doctors will fear recommending an abortion even in cases where there is not necessarily a “threat to the life” but also the health, of the patient. In such cases, they face a three-year prison sentence and may feel safer not taking any decision.

There is a risk that doctors will fear recommending an abortion 

Poland’s ruling party plans to create perinatal hospices where women with difficult pregnancies can be kept under medical surveillance – proof that the PiS party is preparing for a scenario similar to the one Savita endured.

Another argument: the projected allowance of 20,000 zlotys ($5,300) for giving birth to a child with a severe defect. This allowance, called a “coffin payment” by some, is supposed to encourage women to give birth – and probably to take unnecessary risks.

The situation in Ireland doesn’t always translate into Polish conditions. The two societies, although Catholic, are different. In Ireland, despite the strong position of the Church in 2012, the government did not have the same chance to use the media as the Polish government does to influence society. And this, I fear, will soon create a new pop culture model for women: modern saints. The ones who wanted to “give birth at all costs” in order to prove their faith.

Jarosław Kaczyński, who has spent years manipulating fundamentalist circles of the Polish right-wing to serve his own purposes, has for the first time become their hostage.

Source: https://worldcrunch.com/culture-society/what-ireland-can-teach-poland-about-abortion-rights?fbclid=IwAR285DZ-YUuXIEBKSNioPNdguzY3kdXG0X8ttfkwex0h0Z31dkmFwwYJTMc

And the legislation is more extreme than ever, activists warn.

The number of anti-abortion bills making their way through state legislatures has exceeded 200 this week as conservative lawmakers, emboldened by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court, take aim at enacting extreme laws limiting women’s reproductive health.

That’s according to a count by Planned Parenthood Action Fund. And of the 200-plus pieces of anti-abortion legislation pending, about half seek to put harsh limits on the procedure across 30 states.

Among them is a ban on abortions after about the sixth week that South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed Thursday. It outlaws doctors from providing abortion services if they detect a “fetal heartbeat” ― a misleading and medically inaccurate term during those early weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they’re pregnant. 

“This step we take today was long in coming and monumental in consequence. But our battles are not over. Yet I believe that the dawn of victory is upon us,” McMaster said, alluding to the legal challenges certain to tie the legislation up in court.

A similar bill just cleared an Idaho state Senate committee on Tuesday. In Tennessee, Republicans just introduced a bill that would allow fathers to veto an abortion. There are several anti-abortion bills in the works in Texas, including a bizarre attempt to appoint lawyers to fetuses. Florida and Montana lawmakers are pushing an abortion ban after the 20th week of pregnancy. North Dakota, Mississippi and Arizona all introduced bills this session that would categorize abortion as murder, though they’ve all either failed or stalled. 

“Anti-choice politicians in statehouses across the country this legislative session have doubled down on efforts to ban abortion and criminalize both people seeking abortion care and the doctors who provide them that care,” said Kristin Ford, national communications director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. 

Though most pieces of anti-abortion legislation will be tied up in legal challenges before they can take effect, conservative state legislatures appear to be invigorated by the promise of a firmly conservative Supreme Court having the final say. During his single term, President Donald Trump managed to transform the highest court with three appointments, including a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ― a stalwart advocate for women’s reproductive rights ― just weeks before he lost the 2020 election.

Abortion rights activists demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 4, 2020, as the justices hear arguments on a Lo
Abortion rights activists demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 4, 2020, as the justices hear arguments on a Louisiana law restricting abortion access. The court’s strengthened conservative tilt has emboldened more states to try to curb abortion rights.

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What’s really concerning is how far-reaching much of this legislation is, said Elisabeth Smith, the chief counsel for state policy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“While the number of bills we are seeing now is in keeping with recent years, the difference is that the bills have become more extreme. Many states are introducing outright abortion bans,” she said.

There has also been an alarming shift in how legislators approach anti-abortion measures, she said. 

“Lawmakers are now very open about their goal of eliminating abortion access in their state, whereas before, they tried to disguise their motives,” Smith added. “For example, we used to see more bills that saddled abortion clinics with so many regulations that they’d be forced to shut down. Those bills were always passed under the guise of protecting women’s health, but now politicians have dropped the facade. They’re openly and unabashedly trying to ban abortion.”

Ford noted that the timing of these bills is especially sinister. “These lawmakers are blatantly putting their anti-choice ideology before the health, safety and well-being of their constituents during a pandemic.”

Democratic lawmakers in South Carolina made that same argument Wednesday when they walked off the floor during a vote on the six-week abortion limit.

“The Democratic caucus is not going to participate in this farce of a vote about pretend life,” state Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-S.C.) said, referencing some of his colleagues’ refusal to require face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/state-anti-abortion-bills_n_602ea827c5b67c32961c259f?fbclid=IwAR3kRwusVze9nUr0Qk9e9-qZMJapXKhJQ4pjsM0pYhBYvj4fSn-ZWX8EoxQ

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democrat-led Legislature in New Mexico pushed forward Friday to ensure future access to abortions by voting to repeal a dormant ban on most abortion procedures, marking a defiant counterpoint to efforts in some conservative states.

House legislators voted to approve the repeal of the 1969 statute that has gone unenforced since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 1973 the right to an abortion. Left in place, the statute could go back into effect if the high court eventually overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vowed Friday to sign the bill when it reaches her desk in the coming days.ADVERTISEMENT

Abortion bans have been proposed in at least 10 states with Republican-led Legislatures that could test where the current U.S. Supreme Court stands after the appointment of three conservative justices by former President Donald Trump.

In South Carolina, a federal judge on Friday suspended a new law approved just two days earlier that would ban most abortions.

New Mexico is a heavily Roman Catholic state where Democrats control every statewide office, the state Supreme Court and most congressional seats.

Its 52-year-old abortion statute allows medical termination of a pregnancy with permission of a specialized hospital board only in instances of incest, rape reported to police, grave medical risks to the woman and indications of grave medical defects in the fetus.

The law has been dormant since 1973, when the nation’s highest court issued the Roe v. Wade decision, overriding state laws that banned or severely restricted access to abortion procedures.

“With uncertainty at the federal level, New Mexico needs to be clear about women’s rights, women’s health care, women’s reproductive choices, abortion and abortion care,” Lujan Grisham said in a video conference with news media.

Legislative approval came with a 40-30 vote of the House after a three-hour floor debate. The state Senate approved the bill last week with a 25-17 vote. In the House, six Democrats joined with Republicans in opposition.

Supporters of New Mexico’s restrictions on abortions say a repeal would drive valued medical professionals from New Mexico who are conscientious objectors to abortion procedures.

“I think as a state we are making a huge mistake here today,” said Republican state Rep. T. Ryan Lane of Aztec. “We are impacting physicians who have no desire to be a part of these types of elective procedures or even medical procedures.”ADVERTISEMENT

The House deliberations were dominated by pro-abortion rights comments from female legislators who make up a majority of the chamber and the Democratic caucus.

“Should the protections of Roe v. Wade fall or be changed, we won’t go back to the days when I was a teenager and women had to take their chances with unsafe conditions and untrained abortion providers,” said Democratic state Rep. Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces. “Many lost their lives or suffered permanent injury, such as infertility.”

Five Democratic state senators who joined Republicans to keep the abortion law in place in 2019 were ousted from office last year.

Friday’s vote has implications for women who cross state lines for abortions in New Mexico, with out-of-state visitors accounting for 25% of statewide abortions in 2017.

A clinic in Albuquerque is one of only a few independent facilities in the country that performs abortions close to the third trimester without conditions.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-legislature-michelle-lujan-grisham-statutes-us-supreme-court-04c1d5c5bf9fc65176a1d44223756927?utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_medium=AP&fbclid=IwAR2edl-5mffM_1mKUf0TMM0VWVsgY-3UOg5x0MGsAXPI4uuy8dAdQ_U1gRo

The court will take up the abortion “gag rule” and public charge policies, both of which Biden is expected to reverse.

Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will review a pair of Trump-era policies barring federal family planning funds to abortion clinics and limiting immigrants’ use of public benefits, even as the Biden administration signals it’s preparing to roll back those policies.

The justices’ decision to hear a challenge to President Donald Trump’s restrictions on the Title X family planning program, which critics deride as a “gag rule,” could serve as a key test of how the Supreme Court’s newly fortified 6-3 conservative majority will approach abortion. The justices will also weigh the constitutionality of Trump’s so-called “public charge” rule, which expanded the government’s ability to deny green cards or visas for legal immigrants determined to be dependent on public assistance.

President Joe Biden has already ordered the federal government to begin reviewing both policies, likely leading to their reversals — and potentially mooting either case before the justices could review them.

What the court is reviewing: The Trump administration’s curbs on Title X dollars resulted in Planned Parenthood and other clinics in 34 states withdrawing from the $250 million-plus program, which provides birth control and health screenings to low-income women. Though Title X funding can’t be used for abortions because of longstanding federal restrictions, anti-abortion groups argue that federal dollars should be cut off to providers who help terminate a pregnancy.

The policy is in effect in every state but Maryland after lower courts sided with the Trump administration. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is Biden’s pick to lead HHS, led the legal battle against the Title X curbs, along with a group of other blue states and the American Medical Association and reproductive rights groups. If confirmed to the HHS post, he would likely oversee the policy’s reversal.

Under the public charge rule, those using or likely to use Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs would face greater scrutiny from immigration officials. The high court a year ago allowed the policy to take effect as the Covid-19 pandemic began, over the objections of immigrant advocates and Democrats who said it would prompt a steep drop in participation in federal safety net programs among immigrants who fear losing their legal status. The policy was later frozen in lower courts while it underwent further legal review.

Why it matters: Even though Biden is expected to reverse the Trump policies, a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court before that happens could make it easier for future Republican administrations to restore them.

“We are confident the Supreme Court will rule that the Trump administration and future pro-life administrations have the right to disentangle Title X taxpayer funding from the abortion industry,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

Cutting off Title X funding to Planned Parenthood was a major victory for anti-abortion groups allied with the Trump administration, but the women’s health organization receives much funding from Medicaid. Still, reproductive rights groups say the rules have cut an estimated 1.6 million patients off from their free or low-cost care.

Health care groups challenging the Title X cutbacks said they welcomed the Supreme Court’s review of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that supported the Trump administration changes to the program. The policy “continues to bring immense harm to people across the country who depend on affordable reproductive health care,” according to a joint statement from the AMA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other groups.

What’s next: Thecourt is likely to schedule the cases for this spring, and it will take time for the Biden administration to unwind the policies.

The administration hasn’t given a timeline for reversing either policy, and it’s not as simple as wiping them away with an executive order. Both policies would have to be undone through formal rulemaking that meets legal and regulatory requirements. The administration may approach this process even more cautiously with a federal judiciary that’s been made more conservative with more than 200 Trump appointees.

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/supreme-court-trump-abortion-immigration-470832?fbclid=IwAR2MKBfDCIW-mnjFEOJYyiwZ3w7GTYFtEpGxXTmCwBDGO6qk0qDvijFNvCI