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Medication abortion pills, misoprostol and mifepristone.

Women in South Dakota who are seeking a medication abortion will face additional restrictions later this month after state lawmakers approved a new rule from the state’s health department.

Current state law allows for the medical abortion process to begin 72 hours “after the physician physically and personally meets with the pregnant mother,” except in medical emergencies, and usually only required one more visit to a licensed facility to receive the necessary drugs for the process.

But on Thursday, state lawmakers on a rules review committee approved the South Dakota Department of Health’s rule requiring that women receive both drugs used in a medication abortion — mifepristone and misoprostol — in person at a licensed abortion facility.

The rule means South Dakota will be the first state to require a visit to obtain the misoprostol, according to Guttmacher Institute state policy analyst Elizabeth Nash.

A medication abortion, also called a medical abortion, is a nonsurgical procedure effective until about 10 weeks into a pregnancy. It involves taking mifepristone and misoprostol one or two days apart.Typically, women are given both drugs in the same visit to their doctor or a clinic. They take the mifepristone pill at the clinic and are instructed to take the misoprostol pill at home a day or two later.Enter your email to sign up for the CNN Meanwhile in America Newsletter.close dialog

Under the new regulation, women in South Dakota will now effectively be required to make four visits to a licensed abortion facility for a medication abortion.

The rule comes after the Biden administration temporarily relaxed federal regulations on medication abortion in April, removing the requirement that mifepristone be dispensed in person during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move prompted South Dakota and other conservative states to take steps to counteract the federal government.South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, signed an executive order in September directing the state’s Department of Health to draft rules to ensure the drugs distributed in the state could not be sent via mail, among other restrictions.

“In December, the FDA permanently lifted the requirement that the first drug be dispensed in person, instead allowing pills to be sent by mail. The agency also started requiring pharmacies that dispense the drug be certified.

After a public hearing last month and a committee hearing that resumed Thursday, the South Dakota legislature’s Republican-majority Interim Rules Review Committee voted to pass the rule requiring in-person distribution of both medications.

Current South Dakota law requires physicians to obtain “a voluntary and informed written consent” from a pregnant woman for an abortion, with exceptions for medical emergencies.

Under the new rule, three days after a pregnant woman gives the informed consent for a medication abortion, the woman can return to the clinic to receive the first drug, mifepristone. She is only allowed to take the medications up to nine weeks after conception.

But before dispensing the drug, according to the new regulation, a physician has to inform the woman that should she change her mind and decide to carry the baby to term, it’s possible to reverse the effects of the mifepristone.

If she does take that medication, she must wait 24 to 72 hours later and return a third time to the clinic for the second drug, misoprostol, to be dispensed in person.

Abortion facility staff then need to schedule a follow-up appointment with the woman for 14 days after taking the medication.

The abortion facility also must monitor the patient and report to the Department of Health any complications that require medical follow-ups, what the required follow-up care was, the facility where the follow-up appointment was held, and if the pregnant woman was sex-trafficked.

Ali Tornow, a staff attorney for the Department of Health, argued in Thursday’s hearing that the “purpose of this rule is to protect the health and safety of women in South Dakota by requiring in-person dispensing of both medications.

“Other proponents of the rule, including several South Dakota physicians, testified that removing in-person visits could lead to life-threatening health complications for pregnant women.

Planned Parenthood North Central States and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota slammed the new regulation, saying it mandates another “unnecessary” visit to the clinic.

Dr. Sarah Traxler, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood North Central States, testified during Thursday’s hearing that the rule is “not medically necessary” and may instead prevent women “from taking the second medication, thereby exposing them to increased risk.”

Traxler argued that for patients who spend hours driving to reach the clinic, an extra trip is an “insurmountable barrier to care,” and for some women, “the unpredictability of everyday life may ultimately prevent patients from returning to the clinic to receive the misoprostol.

“Jett Jonelis, the ACLU of South Dakota’s advocacy manager, said in a statement provided to CNN that mandates like South Dakota’s “represent dangerous political interference and compromise patient care and safety.”

“These restrictions violate patients’ rights to liberty, privacy and equal protection as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution by imposing significant burdens on abortion access without proof of a valid medical justification,” Jonelis said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and several other medical associations have advocated for the removal of federal restrictions on how the drugs are administered.

The restrictions “do not make the care safer, are not based on medical evidence or need, and create barriers to clinician and patient access to medication abortion,” ACOG says on its website.

But “limited available evidence suggests that use of mifepristone alone without subsequent administration of misoprostol may be associated with an increased risk of hemorrhage,” the group said.

According to data the FDA has collected since the drug’s approval in 2000, of the 4.9 million women who have taken mifepristone for a medical abortion, 26 have died — a mortality rate of less than 0.0001%.

Governor moves to make new rule permanent

Noem “plans to work with the South Dakota legislature to make these and other protocols permanent,” her office said in a press release. The upcoming session kicks off Tuesday.”I look forward to the day when the life of every unborn child is protected in South Dakota,” the governor said in a statement.

South Dakota has a number of restrictions on access to abortion, including banning abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy with some exceptions.

It’s also one of 19 states that require a physician providing a medication abortion to be physically present during it, effectively prohibiting telemedicine to prescribe abortion medication, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/08/politics/south-dakota-medication-abortions/index.html

By all accounts, the Supreme Court is poised to upend 50 years of our constitutionally protected right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This effort is not in a vacuum. With Congress gridlocked by the filibuster and a nationwide effort underway to restrict access to the ballot box, conservative leaders are opening the door, inch by inch, to strip away the rights of individuals across the country. Reproductive rights are at the top of their list. 

While the debate around this issue is hyper-focused on the Supreme Court, we are collectively overlooking the most important battleground of the abortion rights fight: state legislatures. Texas’ blatantly unconstitutional abortion ban, SB8, makes it clear: anti-abortion lawmakers will introduce new, egregious bills at the state level to thwart abortion access — and SCOTUS made it clear they will allow it.

The moment we’re in is a direct result of generations of underinvestment at the state level and an overreliance on the courts. Protecting abortion access requires transforming our state legislatures. 

Without building state power, and ensuring lawmakers have the tools they need to enact policies their constituents want, the consequences for abortion rights will be nothing short of disastrous. Already, 21 states have existing laws or statutes that may make abortion illegal following a hostile decision by the Supreme Court. Another five could soon follow, based on their legislative makeup and recent history — that’s half of the country poised to restrict or eliminate abortion rights altogether. 

Fortunately, some states have already acted to protect the legal right to abortion. In 2019, New York enacted the Reproductive Health Act to codify the Roe v. Wade ruling into state law, and Illinois enacted a similar law to protect all individual decision-making around reproductive health, including abortion, contraception and pregnancy care. In 2021, New Mexico repealed a pre-Roe law on the books that criminalized abortion, ensuring legal abortion is protected in the state if Roe is further weakened or overturned at the federal level. Michigan has introduced a similar bill.

But protecting the legality is only step one. State legislators now have a duty to unapologetically protect the abortion access people everywhere will need in the face of a confusing and ever-changing landscape. It’s time for new, bold policies that must originate from statehouses. 

First, states must put their money where their mouth is by removing any public or private insurance coverage restrictions on abortion, like Washington state has done. Even better? Look to New York, where Attorney General Letitia James has called for the creation of a state fund to support the cost of transportation, accommodations and abortion care for patients seeking care if their own state has banned abortion.  

Then, states can make sure they expand their provider pool to meet the needs of thousands of patients crossing state lines to access abortion care. California and Maine have ensured health care professionals like physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses can provide abortion care. Good policies can also look like Massachusetts’ bill to make medication abortion available on college campuses, or a plan in Georgia to ensure that communities of color are centered in any new legislation to protect abortion rights. And it goes without saying states can repeal any other existing abortion restrictions on their books, like Virginia and Illinois have done recently. New Jersey has moved to protect abortion clinic employees from possible harm, while Connecticut aims to mitigate the harm of deceptive crisis pregnancy centers. 

Of course, many states cannot and will not pass laws to protect or expand abortion rights — yet. We’ve spent too many years ignoring state legislatures and pinning all our hopes on Congress or the courts. But there are structural changes we can make so state legislatures are much more responsive to the needs of women, communities of color, immigrants and poorer people who have been shut out of the democratic process for too long and are most affected by unpopular policies like abortion restrictions. Only by making state legislatures more representative of the electorate will we begin paving the way for more inclusive, progressive state policies. 

This starts with increasing legislator pay, providing funding to lawmakers so they can hire staff support, and considering a move toward full-time legislative sessions. In many states, legislators work part-time although their communities need them year-round, are paid very little (if at all), and have to juggle their legislative duties with another job and their personal life for months on end. This results in disproportionately wealthy, white people being more likely to take the financial risks associated with running for office and serving as a state lawmaker.  

The best time to have invested in building power in states was a generation ago; the next best time is now. After all, this is not the time for politics as usual: The bodily autonomy and reproductive dignity of millions are about to be dismantled. After a decision from the Supreme Court, it will be up to state legislators to determine the future of abortion access. We look to them to take up that mantle.

Source: https://thehill.com/opinion/campaign/588987-building-state-power-is-the-only-way-to-protect-abortion-access?emci=a3a3bf39-4e75-ec11-94f6-c896650d4442&emdi=8811152e-5075-ec11-94f6-c896650d4442&ceid=3411192&rl=1

In a tense hearing Friday, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals signaled that — for now — it was likely to keep the Texas abortion case out of the hands of a federal judge who in the past had blocked the state’s six-week ban on abortion.The 5th Circuit panel is deciding what should come next in abortion clinics’ federal lawsuit challenging the ban after the Supreme Court kept the case alive in a decision handed down last month.”Maybe we should just sit on this until the end of June,” Judge Edith Jones said Friday, citing a separate challenge to Roe v. Wade already at the high court.

“By that time, it is very possible the hot potato will be in the seat of the Supreme Court,” she added.

The clinics say the case should be sent to US District Court Judge Robert Pitman, who blocked the law last October in a separate case brought by the Justice Department, only for that order to be frozen by the 5th Circuit.

The providers’ request got no apparent traction with two of the three judges on the appellate panel. The third judge — the panel’s sole Democratic appointee — had already said he would grant the request in a dissent that decried the “impermissible delay to the vindication of the constitutional rights of Texas women in federal court.”

Instead, the appellate panel’s Republican-appointed majority seems poised to grant a request from Texas and the ban’s other legal defenders to send the case to the Texas Supreme Court. The defenders say that, before the federal lawsuit moves any further, the Texas Supreme Court needs to weigh in on state law questions that they say were left unresolved by the US Supreme Court’s decision last month.

Jones, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, appeared to agree. She warned that the federal courts are “all going to have egg on our faces” if the Texas State Supreme Court interpreted the state law in a way that was at odds with how the federal judges were approaching the case.

She also floated the idea that the 5th Circuit could just sit on the case until the US Supreme Court handed down its decision in a separate abortion case it heard last month, where the conservative justices may make significant changes to the court precedent that protects abortion rights.

Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan, an appointee of President Donald Trump, meanwhile questioned whether there was really any urgency in moving the federal lawsuit along, given the ways the US Supreme Court had already scaled back the clinics’ case.

Four months and counting that most abortions have been illegal in Texas

The legal issues before the 5th Circuit are extremely technical. But at stake is whether abortion providers will have any shot in the coming months to get an order that would at least partially block enforcement of the law.

The clinics have already asked the Supreme Court to intervene yet again in the 5th Circuit’s handling of the case. So far, the justices have not taken any action on that request, which was filed Monday night.

For more than four months, a law that bans a majority of abortions in the country’s second most populous state has been in effect. Given the legal risks that come with violating the ban, which outlaws abortions when fetal cardiac activity is detected, clinics have been unwilling to offer the procedure in those instances — a point around six weeks into the pregnancy, before many women even realize they’re pregnant.

So far, the Texas ban’s unique enforcement mechanism has allowed it to stand in the face of Supreme Court precedent that protects abortion rights before a fetus is viable — a point around 23 weeks into the pregnancy when the fetus can survive outside the womb.

Rather than impose criminal or administrative penalties for clinics that conduct abortions after six weeks, the Texas law allows private citizens to sue those providers — or anyone else who assists the person obtaining the abortion — in state court, with the threat of damages of at least $10,000.

When the US Supreme Court reviewed the case last year, it said the clinics could not get federal court orders preemptively blocking state court officials from accepting those lawsuits. But eight of the justices said their lawsuit could proceed against a select group of state licensing who could in theory revoke providers’ medical licenses for violating the six-week ban.On Friday, comments from Duncan illuminated why the Supreme Court decision had left clinics with little hope for effective relief in federal court from the law, known as SB8.”The principal injury that you’re seeking to redress here is the threat of SB8 lawsuits puts a chill on your clients’ provision of abortion services, right?” Duncan told Marc Hearron, a senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights who is representing the providers.”So how would an injunction against these licensing officials redress that at all?” Duncan asked, later adding that, given that reality, he was struggling to see the urgency of moving the federal lawsuit along quickly.

A clock ticking on a separate Supreme Court case that could bolster Texas’ ban

In the background of these procedural maneuverings is an even bigger threat to abortion rights not just in Texas — but nationwide.

The Supreme Court last month heard a separate abortion case out of Mississippi that gives the conservative majority the opportunity to gut — and perhaps, outright reverse — current precedent protecting pre-viability abortions.

The idea of waiting until a summer ruling on the Mississippi case and Roe v. Wade drew vehement pushback from the clinics’ attorney, who called it “completely inconsistent” with how quickly the Supreme Court handled had the Texas case so far.

Even the attorney for Texas, Assistant Solicitor General Natalie Thompson acknowledged that Texas is not asking for that delay, under persistent grilling from Judge Stephen Higginson, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

Nerves were frayed among the judges as the 45-minute hearing wore on. Not only did the Republican-appointed judges express repeated dissatisfaction with how Hearron, the clinics’ attorney, was handling their questions, they exchanged shots with Higginson.

Jones interjected in one line of tough questions Higginson had for Texas’ attorney: “Normally this court isn’t litigating on behalf of on one side or the other,” Jones said.

Higginson asked Thompson, the Texas attorney, if there had be any unfair question to her. She said no and he continued with his questions.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/07/politics/abortion-texas-fifth-circuit-hearing/index.html


This isn’t the first time that Patriot Front has appeared at an anti-abortion event.

Members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front tried to join an anti-abortion march in Chicago this weekend—only to get heckled by some of the demonstrators. 

In videos posted to social media, more than a dozen Patriot Front members can be seen marching alongside people demonstrating in support of Chicago’s March for Life. The Patriot Front members wore matching, country club-esque uniforms of blue jackets and pale khakis, as well as hats and face coverings to obscure their identities. Many carried American flags and red-and-blue shields. The group’s banner read “Strong Families Make Strong Nations.

In one video, a man demonstrating with March for Life can be seen asking, “What are you carrying shields for?” 

“You guys are an embarrassment,” he added. “Put the shields down!” 

“Who do you guys think you are?” another man demanded. One voice can be heard saying, “Bunch of fucking clowns who never grew up.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the cowboy hat-wearing Patriot Front founder Thomas Rousseau was also among the Patriot Front members present at the march. Rousseau formed the group, a splinter faction of the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America, in the wake of the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Rousseau, who used to head the Texas chapter of Vanguard America, led Vanguard America members who showed up in Charlottesville.

Patriot Front took the explicitly neo-Nazi agenda of Vanguard America and repackaged it in Americana, with the goal of broadening their appeal and drawing in more recruits.

After leaving the March for Life, Patriot Front members unloaded their gear and took off in cars with taped-over license plates. Although the group is obsessed with optics and typically uses public appearances as marketing opportunities for slick propaganda videos, its members also place a high premium on secrecy.

The Proud Boys, another neo-fascist group, has also recently sought to align itself with abortion opponents: VICE News found that, in the last year, the group provided security to the anti-abortion “Stolen Voices Foundation.”

This isn’t the first time that Patriot Front has appeared at an anti-abortion event in Chicago, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The organization reported that people associated with Patriot Front have appeared at at least three anti-abortion demonstrations dating back to 2018. 

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/7kbkjd/patriot-front-anti-abortion-march

The belief that Donald Trump and his ilk are entitled to power and control in this country is not distinguishable from the eugenicist foundations of the anti-abortion movement.
 Philip Cohen/Flickr

From fire bombings, shootings, and ceaseless harassment, anti-abortion violence has wreaked havoc on clinics for decades.

Trump supporters laid siege to our nation’s capital on Wednesday, storming past a flaccid and enabling law enforcement presence in an attempt to stage a coup. As they were filling the halls of Congress—stealing lecterns and paintings, and taking selfies at Nancy Pelosi’s desk—pundits lamented: This is not America; this is not who we are. Some even marveled at the cooperation from law enforcement, wondering how security could have been so lax.

Unfortunately, abortion providers are all too familiar with the sort of violence that played out at the Capitol.

Anti-abortion violence has wreaked havoc on clinics for decades: fire bombings, shootings, and ceaseless harassment, have forced clinic directors to barricade their medical facilities and stock them with bulletproof vests and staff trained to respond to mass violence at any given moment. All for providing necessary and critical medicine.

“Those of us who provide abortion care have seen this rage before,” Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement. “We have seen it in the eyes and hear it in the shouts of the protesters outside of our offices and clinics. We know that the individuals that breached the Capitol [on Wednesday] are the same ones standing outside our health centers in the morning.”

In the 40 years that the National Abortion Federation has been documenting violence against abortion providers, there have been 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 189 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activity directed at abortion providers across the country.

Calla Hales, executive director of A Preferred Women’s Health Center, an abortion clinic with branches in North Carolina and Georgia, is no stranger to anti-choice terrorism. Her clinic is a hotspot for harassment and protests. The health center is regularly inundated with hundreds—even thousands—of violent anti-abortion terrorists, who occupy the lot next door to harass patients and shout about baby parts.

Hales said watching the insurrection unfold in Washington was rattling.

“As an executive director of multiple abortion clinics, in the Bible Belt no less, the potential for violence is something that’s never far from my mind,” she told Rewire News Group. “Violence is something all abortion providers and advocates are familiar with. We deal with harassment and intimidation on a daily basis.”

Wednesday “made me think about how invading and blockading clinics over the past few decades must have been the perfect training ground for this insurrection,” Hales said.

The violence on Capitol Hill also hit home for Dr. Diane Horvath, an OB-GYN and abortion provider in Baltimore.

“The terror was visceral, and I had to sit down, close my office door, and have my panic attack in private,” she said. “It wasn’t until hours later that I was able to even recognize that I reacted in that way because of the constant fear of violence that we live with every day.

Many others in abortion advocacy noted the similarity between Wednesday’s violence and the violence that clinics and providers face with regularity—and with far less visibility and protection. And these parallels extend beyond the symbolism of white nationalists overtaking a building by force and threatening those inside. There were also many familiar faces among the insurrectionists at the Capitol.

Sharp eyes spotted the anti-choice darling Abby Johnson in the crowd. And RNG has confirmed the presence and involvement of dozens of other well-known anti-abortion terrorists and protesters, including convicted clinic bomber John Brockhoeft.

In the coming weeks we will surely see calls for more security around the Capitol; we have already seen unearned gratitude paid to the police who did next to nothing in the face of a violent coup attempt. As we watch this unfold, it’s critical to hold the providers who have grown accustomed to this kind of violence in the forefront of our discussions. They have warned us of the terrors of right-wing extremism, reporting to the frontlines of a domestic terrorism battleground and fighting to keep their patients safe every day—and they have done so while being met with a thankless and merciless response.

Clinics around the country long relied on the protection of buffer zones—boundaries created outside of clinics to deter violence—that were instituted after John Salvi’s 1994 assault on two abortion clinics in Boston killed two people and injured five others. But when the constitutionality of buffer zones came before the Supreme Court, which itself enjoys the protection of a buffer zone, the Court ruled that the provision violated the First Amendment, leaving clinics at an increased risk for violence.

Remember: Many of the same political leaders who decried Wednesday’s display will vote for anti-choice laws that subject providers to the same kind of violence. Many in Congress see this as an entirely singular and unprecedented incident, while failing to realize that they confirm judges who would swiftly take away a clinic’s right to protect itself from right-wing extremism.

“The fear that someone will use violence to get inside a clinic is not theoretical,” Dr. Horvath said, emphasizing that she uses evidence-based safety measures to keep her patients safe.

“It has happened many times and will continue to happen as long as it’s tolerated by the public,” she said.

“What we need is systemic change. Laws that protect us and our patients (and enforcement of the laws we already have) would be a great place to start. Call your local and state legislators and ask them what they are doing to protect health-care facilities that provide abortion. See if your local clinics need escorts to help patients safely access care (or donate to help support others doing this work). Send postcards of support. Call us and tell us you appreciate us. Donate to an abortion fund so that patients who need care can get it.”

These are not coincidences: Fascism, white supremacy, and anti-abortion terrorism are inextricably linked. The desire to control other people’s pregnancy outcomes has a direct line to the racism that fueled Wednesday’s insurrection. The belief that Donald Trump and his ilk are entitled to power and control in this country is not distinguishable from the eugenicist foundations of the anti-abortion movement.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2021/01/08/abortion-providers-watching-capitol-violence-say-theyve-seen-this-rage-before/?utm_campaign=rng-archives&utm_medium=post&utm_source=facebook-rng&fbclid=IwAR2hpLE8PrFSYfaeoAIww4qYcY3mqLHwpx4HwyOIvqPjCLZ_rkkiKEJjQfY

Photo: Sergio Flores (Getty Images)

Crisis pregnancy centers, the anti-abortion organizations that attempt to lure mostly poor people of color with unwanted pregnancies to their premises and dissuade them from having abortions, are a proven danger to public health, according to a new study by The Alliance: State Advocates for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

The nationwide coalition of reproductive health advocates’ new research says crisis pregnancy centers have become an even greater threat to the health and safety of pregnant people amid the recent surge in state abortion bans and restrictions — particularly Texas’ SB8, a near-total abortion ban that relies on citizen policing and surveillance for enforcement, which took effect last September.

Where do CPCs fit into the success of laws like SB8? They’re “plugged into the global anti-abortion movement’s sophisticated digital infrastructure, which facilitates expansion, client surveillance, and systemic, coordinated promotion of anti-abortion disinformation,” the study says.

Most anti-abortion “clinics” may pose as local mom-and-pops run by people resembling the family of your cool youth pastor, but they’re often part of massive, global networks that threaten abortion access and pregnant people’s autonomy on a number of fronts — all while often receiving taxpayer funding.

At least 10 states allocate federal welfare funding to CPCs, instead of supporting actual health care access, or resources for parents and families. The Alliance reports the ratio of crisis pregnancy centers to abortion-providing clinics in the US stands at 3 to 1, with even higher disparities in states that fund CPCs: In Pennsylvania, the ratio is 9 to 1, and in Minnesota, 11 to 1.

Many CPCs purposefully set up shop near actual abortion clinics, or will park their mobile clinics near abortion providers in an effort to confuse and prey on patients. With the state funding they receive, many CPCs don’t even provide the free prenatal and pregnancy resources that they claim they do. Instead, “provision of these goods was contingent on the client’s participation in ‘earn while you learn’ classes or counseling, Bible studies, abstinence seminars, video screenings, or other ideological CPC programming.”

Pregnant people seeking actual health care stumble upon these disinformation-peddling enclaves, likely after seeing targeted ads on search engines or on social media and are led to believe they’re actual health services. At these centers, patients are often treated primarily to drugstore-grade pregnancy tests and a barrage of lies about how abortion causes breast cancer or how medication abortions can be “reversed.” CPCs might also throw in a “non-diagnostic” ultrasound, technology that is used “as a tool to persuade clients to carry their pregnancies to term and falsely signal medical legitimacy,” The Alliance notes. This is despite how the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine condemns use of ultrasounds for any “non-medical purpose.”

A key takeaway from the report is the unique threat that CPCs pose to pregnant people’s privacy, through the information they collect online and in-person from people considering abortion. As Texas’ SB8 remains in effect and copycat laws proliferate in state legislatures across the country, surveillance of pregnant people and criminalization of abortion and pregnancy loss will essentially become institutionalized to enforce these laws — and that’s where CPCs come in:

“CPCs are positioned to play a central role in surveillance of pregnant people in such a vigilante system. They exist, after all, to reach people experiencing unintended pregnancies, and collect extensive digital data on their clients and their reproductive histories.”

Already, anti-abortion groups have recently partnered with popular fertility tracking apps to gain access to users’ personal data, like menstrual cycles and pregnancies. The anti-abortion, crisis pregnancy center conglomerate Heartbeat International stores its digital communications with “abortion-minded” pregnant people to use “for any and all purposes.” And there have already been several cases of digital forensics, like online searches for abortion pills and text messages, or even reverse geo-fencing, used to criminalize people who have lost their pregnancies or induced their own abortions, and face feticide or child endangerment charges.

Criminal charges for miscarriages, stillbirths, self-managed abortions, and other pregnancy outcomes have tripled in recent years, from 413 prosecutions between 1973 and 2005 to more than 1,250 between 2006 and 2020, says the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. As though deceiving and draining the time and resources of people seeking abortion care weren’t enough, this new study is an illuminating look at an increasingly effective tool for spying on pregnant people and targeting poor people of color.

Source: https://jezebel.com/crisis-pregnancy-centers-are-spying-on-pregnant-people-1848314842

We cannot allow bad actors and the elected officials who prop them up to thrive in the shadows. We must protect our democracy.
 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Anti-choice extremists know that voting is critical to electing leaders who share the values of the majority of us who support the legal right to abortion.

The January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was a horrifying attempt to dismantle our democracy to advance an extreme right-wing agenda, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. The same radical right that has been working for decades to erode our democratic institutions and impose their ideological agenda of power and control has also been fighting to strip away our freedom to decide if, when, and how we have children and form our families.

What we saw a year ago today and are seeing in the anti-choice movement now is the culmination of a decadeslong effort by forces hostile to social progress. The anti-democracy and anti-choice movements embrace disinformation at every turn, and their most extreme elements have often turned to violence. Anti-choice extremists were openly complicit in Trump’s efforts to undermine our democracy and regularly played an essential role in the disinformation networks that led to this moment.

And this isn’t new for them—when it comes to inciting right-wing violence, the anti-choice movement wrote the playbook. It’s no surprise that anti-choice elected officials, leaders, and activists helped promote and, in some cases, participated in the insurrection. To be clear—they are all part of the same movement.

Not only that, the legal right to abortion is hanging on by a thread. The U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade in the coming months and, if they do so, we will likely be living in a world where 26 states ban abortion outright. But make no mistake, this plan is already in motion in some states. Take Texas, which has devised an end run around the Constitution in the form of a vigilante-enforced ban on abortion, Senate Bill 8. Just last month, the Supreme Court refused to block SB 8, rendering Roe effectively meaningless in our nation’s second-largest state. Now, 14 other states are clamoring to follow suit by enacting their own copycat bans on abortion.

At every turn, anti-choice lawmakers are emboldened and champing at the bit to outlaw abortion or push it as far out of reach as possible. How did we get here?

Trump and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell solidified an anti-choice supermajority at the Supreme Court through the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, endangering our fundamental right to abortion. The ramifications of this hostile supermajority will continue for decades to come. Hoping to continue Trump’s dangerous presidency, anti-choice leaders and news outlets amplified conspiracy theories and disinformation about how the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump and promoted the now-infamous “Stop the Steal” rally that resulted in the insurrection.

Then, they turned up at the Capitol a year ago. Abby Johnson, an anti-choice leader and a speaker at the 2020 Republican National Conventionproudly photographed herself in the front row of the January 6 rally and described being on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Elijah Schaffer, who broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, was reposting anti-choice disinformation just days before the riots. Known abortion clinic harassers Tayler Hansen and Derrick Evans were documented inside the Capitol during the insurrection.

In addition to joining in on the deadly attack, the anti-choice movement has also been working to dismantle voting rights at every turn. Anti-choice extremists know that our freedom to vote is critical to electing leaders who share and represent the values of the majority of us, the 8 in 10 Americans who support the legal right to abortion. They know they can’t win on the merits of their unpopular policies, so they attack the right to vote itself by creating barriers to accessing the ballot box. Anti-choice groups like Susan B. Anthony List and Republican state legislators are trying to dismantle our democracy and enact legislation to disproportionately strip the core freedom to vote from all Americans, particularly Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and all people of color.

We cannot allow these bad actors and the elected officials who prop them up to thrive in the shadows. In the year since the insurrection, we’ve seen the anti-choice movement successfully attack not only abortion access and our right to vote but diversity in education, the transgender community, and many other issues supported by the majority of people in this country. It is clear from their actions that their vision for our future is white supremacist, patriarchal minority control.

January 6, 2021 marked a terrifying chapter in American democracy, but we can prevent this extremism from further taking hold. We must protect our democracy by immediately passing the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act through any means necessary. And then we must hold our elected officials accountable. In the midterms, we will be pulling out all the stops to vote out those who threatened American democracy and allowed January 6 to happen, and we will continue exposing the tactics and bad actors in this movement until they are brought to justice.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2022/01/06/how-the-anti-choice-movement-is-using-voting-rights-to-consolidate-power/

While the rhetoric surrounding abortion in general and specifically, abortion later in pregnancy, often includes the phrase “no one wants to have an abortion,” TODAY spoke to four people who say they did want — and need — abortion care later in pregnancy.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images

As the Supreme Court considers a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks gestation, people who have had abortions later in pregnancy speak out.

Editor’s note: The full names of people who spoke to us for this story have been withheld to protect their privacy, given the sensitivity of the subject matter.

As the Supreme Court considers a Mississippi law restricting abortions after 15 weeks, much of the vitriol regarding abortion access is aimed at people who have abortions after the first trimester. TODAY Parents talked to four people who had abortions later in pregnancy, who say their stories show how important abortion access is and how far people will go to get the abortion care they want and need.

Abortions after 20 weeks gestation represent 1% of all abortions, yet most Americans believe they are five times more prevalent than they actually are. Medically inaccurate phrases like “late-term abortion” have also caused a general misunderstanding of later abortion care — medically, “late-term” refers to a pregnancy past 40 weeks gestation, not a time when abortion is provided.

Research suggests people have abortions later in pregnancy for two main reasons: They’ve learned new information — for example, realizing they’re pregnant after the first trimester, discovering a fetal or maternal health complication, or the loss of a job or partner — or they’ve encountered barriers to care that made it impossible for them to have an abortion earlier — including limited access to child care for the children they already have, existing anti-abortion laws and a lack of clinics that provide abortion services.

While it’s a common talking point in both pro- and anti-abortion circles that no one wants to have an abortion, the following people say they did want — and need — abortion care later in pregnancy.

Jenn, 30, New York

Jenn had her abortion in New York City in 2010, when she was 18 years old. She had a medical condition that causes frequent period loss and was using birth control, so she didn’t realize she was pregnant until she was past 15 weeks. The procedure itself cost $20,000. Because Jenn lived in New York at the time, her parents’ insurance covered the procedure.

“I actually found out I was pregnant when I was at my at-the-time best friend’s house. She supported my decision, until she found out I was in the second trimester. That was devastating — that someone was ‘pro-choice’ and still didn’t support my choice — and it also scared me when it came to telling my parents. But as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted an abortion. I never doubted my decision.

She supported my decision, until she found out I was in the second trimester.

“I thought I could have a medication abortion and that it would be relatively inexpensive, but when I called a Planned Parenthood clinic, they said that wasn’t possible. When I realized it would be a more complex and expensive procedure, it felt like the rug was being pulled out from under me. The fear of navigating the process alone overrode the fear of telling my parents, and thankfully, they came through for me almost immediately.

“There was only one place I could go to, and they had a significant waitlist, so I had to wait several weeks. I was miserable — having a body that was pregnant and getting more pregnant by the day, and being trapped in that body unable to do anything about it was the worst thing I’ve ever been through. I contemplated suicide during the pregnancy, because I was so scared I was going to have to carry the pregnancy to term.

“Now, I’m in law school, have a fiancé I’m madly in love with, and intend to start a family.”

Erika, 40, Arizona

In the third trimester of her wanted pregnancy, Erika’s doctors discovered serious fetal abnormalities that were not compatible with life. Faced with the reality of giving birth to a baby that would die, Erika chose to terminate.

“I had brain surgery the year before, so we knew early on that if I went into labor at any point, my health would be threatened. It would be dangerous for me to push. An abortion at this gestation involves a shot to induce fetal demise, then an induction of labor and delivery. The shot part was illegal in New York, and my doctors couldn’t refer me to someone else like normal. I found a doctor in Colorado who would help, but they wanted me to deliver in a hospital setting given my medical history. My insurance wouldn’t cover it, so it would cost $30,000. The shot alone cost $10,000. When I heard that, I thought, ‘OK, we can’t do that, so I guess I’m carrying to term, hoping my head doesn’t explode, and we’ll be the people who have a baby who dies.

My mom cashed in her 401K to pay for it.

“The doctors figured out that I could fly to Colorado to get the shot, then immediately fly back to New York to a hospital that was covered by my insurance. We didn’t have the money to cover the $10,000 plus travel ourselves — my mom cashed in her 401K to pay for it. My husband and I flew to Colorado the night before my appointment at 8 am, then flew back home.

“We weren’t allowed to take the time to work through our emotions, because we were so wrapped up in the logistics of trying to get care and dealing with the stigma and shame of the state having an invisible hand in our pregnancy.

“When we compromise (on abortion rights,) we’re purposefully compromising on the most systemically marginalized — you’re talking about poor people, pregnant children, disabled people, and people with complex medical situations like me.”

Kelly*, 32, Texas

Kelly, who asked that her real name not be used to protect her privacy, had her later abortion at 33 weeks gestation in 2020 after being raped. She first thought her pregnancy symptoms were the result of a new birth control method, only to later realize she had been impregnated during the rape. Unable to access care in her home state, Kelly flew to New Mexico by herself to receive care. Her abortion, including the procedure, travel, food, and lodging, cost over $10,000.

“I had to contact different abortion funds, including local funds in Texas and funds in other states, and I had to go out of state because there was no way I was going to be able to get an abortion in Texas.

I’m not the first person this has happened to and, unfortunately, I won’t be the last.

“I had one really good friend I could confide in, but I didn’t know how or even if I could communicate that with my family members, and honestly I still haven’t. For the most part, I did have to go through it by myself. And I guess I chose that, but I just did not know how it would be received.

“After my abortion I felt relief, but it’s still hard to talk about, especially certain aspects of the whole experience. But I think it’s important to share, especially because of the sexual assault — I’m not the first person this has happened to and, unfortunately, I won’t be the last.”

Leo, 31, New York

Leo, who is trans and uses they/them pronouns, found out they were pregnant at 19 weeks. Living in a state that protects access to abortion care, their insurance covered the cost of the procedure, and they did not have to travel out of state.

“It was confusing, because I’m not someone who has never wanted to be pregnant or have a child. For me, it just came at the wrong time. There were maps of clinics that provide abortions online, and the higher the gestational age, the smaller and smaller the number of clinics got. It was really frightening — I wanted the simplest abortion possible, but I also wanted to give myself time to make my decision. Luckily, I had a lot of support, from my partner at the time, my therapist, a couple of friends and my sister.

My abortion was an act of self-love.”

“Sometimes insurance companies give trans people a hard time and deny people the care they need, so I called beforehand, flat out shared my situation, and asked them to double, triple check to make sure they understood who I was. A friend drove me, and my then-partner brought me food.

“I felt love towards the fetus, but ultimately feel like that love for the fetus was redirected to me, and gave me the opportunity to continue my dreams. I’m a Ph.D. student now — I have certain ambitions, aspirations and accomplishments. My abortion was an act of self-love.”

Source: https://www.today.com/parents/parents/abortion-later-pregnancy-4-people-tell-stories-rcna8591

Abortion supporters gather outside the Supreme Court, in Washington, on November 1, 2021.

This could be the moment when some combination of Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices agrees to break 50 years of precedent by removing the national right to an abortion recognized in Roe v. Wade.

The court has a hearing over a Mississippi abortion law Wednesday, and the 6-3 conservative majority seems primed for action.

A separate, notorious Texas abortion law is also before the court. But it is the Mississippi case that is a direct challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy.

Many states have been so intent and creative on chipping away at the precedent that even a half-measure by the court could create a post-Roe reality. For women who live in states with few abortion providers and numerous hurdles to gain access, it may feel like a post-Roe reality right now.

But either by overturning Roe or scaling it back, the court could, when it hands down a decision next year, make it much easier for states to ban or more seriously restrict abortion rights.What does Roe guarantee? The 1973 decision said states can’t ban abortion unless a fetus is viable, or can survive outside the womb. The Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s right to an abortion was covered by the right to privacy under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

When the case was decided, that viability standard was 28 weeks, but it’s now considered to be from 22 to 24 weeks of gestation.

Must read: This story from CNN’s Joan Biskupic about how the 1973 court settled on that standard at the last minute. Back then, she points out, it was Republican-appointed justices concerned with privacy rights who helped set the precedent.

Question: What’s the difference between a woman’s right to privacy over pregnancy, which Republicans today want to disregard, and the right to privacy over, say, Covid-19 vaccinations, which they want to protect?

What would the Mississippi law do? 

It’s a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade since it would ban abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, well before the current viability standard. Abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy would be allowed “only in medical emergencies or for severe fetal abnormality.” There is no exception for rape or incest.Even something less than a full Roe reversal could change laws in much of the country.

Roe has been law for nearly 50 years. Will that matter? 

CNN’s Ariane de Vogue writes that if the court overturns Roe, it could go “to the stability of the court as an institution.”She writes: “Put another way: if the court uses cases as building blocks to construct the rule of law, what happens when one block — put in place in 1973 — is yanked out?”I’ll take that a step farther, even though I’m not a constitutional lawyer. Today I read the 14th Amendment to review what it says about privacy. That concept that’s so key to Roe, it turns out, is not spelled out with the word “privacy” in the 14th Amendment. The protection of privacy has been built by the court over decades, and Roe is a key part of that structure.

Political backlash is guaranteed. 

Perhaps more predictable is the political backlash to a Supreme Court controlled by Republican appointees removing a right for women.”I think if you want to see a revolution, go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, on Monday. She compared state control of women’s reproductive health to “something we would see in an authoritarian state” during an appearance on the New Hampshire station WMUR.Abortion would suddenly become a key issue at the state level, too. In Virginia, for instance, the governor-elect, Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, has tried to de-emphasize the issue of abortion, to the consternation of anti-abortion-rights activists who supported his campaign.

The majority of Americans support upholding Roe v. Wade. 

Numerous polls have confirmed this general public support for abortion rights. For example, an ABC News/Washington Post poll from November found 60% of Americans said the Roe precedent should remain, compared with 27% who supported overturning it.There is, however, variation in public support for abortion rights depending on the details of the situation. Although there is a long history of broad support for maintaining Roe, the share in support of legal abortion without any sort of government restriction is far smaller, according to Gallup polling going back decades.

Where would abortion be illegal? 

Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion procedures if Roe is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. This includes states that would institute total bans on abortion, bans at 15 weeks of pregnancy and bans at 20 weeks. A dozen states have laws on the books to automatically ban abortions if Roe is overturned.The institute issued a report suggesting that Americans in the half of the country with abortion bans could drive hundreds of miles to access abortions if Roe is overturned, and guessed there could be a rush of demand in states where abortion remained legal, particularly Illinois and North Carolina.

Could a national abortion standard be set? 

Sure, Congress technically has the ability to write a national abortion standard. That might not be a political reality, since a minority in the Senate can block most major legislation.

More women talking about abortion. 

Many Americans either weren’t alive or can’t remember 1973. That includes the women who in recent months and years have shared stories of how and why they got abortions.Three members of Congress shared their stories at a hearing in September.”To all the Black women and girls who have had abortions or will have abortions, we have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Rep. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat. “We live in a society that has failed to legislate love and justice for us. So we deserve better. We demand better. We are worthy of better.””So that’s why I’m here to tell my story,” she said.On “Saturday Night Live” in early November, the comedian Cecily Strong wore a clown costume to open a dialogue on abortion.”I wish I didn’t have to do this, because the abortion I had at 23 is my personal clown business,” Strong said.

CNN reported at the time: “In her new memoir ‘This Will All Be Over Soon,’ Strong is not explicit on whether she had an abortion but she does say that she was pregnant at 23 and soon after was ‘not pregnant anymore.’ “For about half the country, that’s a choice women may soon not be able to make in their home states.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/11/30/politics/roe-wade-abortion-supreme-court-what-matters/index.html

Sarah Weddington in 1979. She accepted that she would be remembered primarily for her supreme court victory. Photograph: Diana Walker/Getty Images

Sarah Weddington, an attorney who argued and won the Roe v Wade supreme court case which established the right to abortion in the US, has died. She was 76.

Susan Hays, a Democratic candidate for Texas agriculture commissioner, announced the news on Twitter on Sunday. The Dallas Morning News confirmed it.

“Sarah Weddington died this morning after a series of health issues,” Hays wrote. “With Linda Coffee, she filed the first case of her legal career, Roe v Wade, fresh out of law school. She was my professor … the best writing instructor I ever had, and a great mentor.

“At 27 she argued Roe to [the supreme court] (a fact that always made me feel like a gross underachiever). Ironically, she worked on the case because law firms would not hire women in the early 70s, leaving her with lots of time for good trouble.”

The court ruled on Roe v Wade in 1973. Nearly 50 years later, under a supreme court packed with hardline conservatives, the right Roe established is under threat in part thanks to a Texas law that drastically restricts access and offers incentives for reporting women to authorities.

In 2017, speaking to the Guardian, Weddington predicted such a turn of events. “If [Neil] Gorsuch’s nomination is approved, will abortion be illegal the next day? No. One new judge won’t necessarily make much difference. But two or three might.”

After steering Gorsuch on to the court, Donald Trump installed Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Barrett replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights.

Sarah Weddington
Sarah Weddington poses with a signed copy of the Roe v Wade decision in front of the US supreme court in 2005. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty

Weddington found her way to Roe v Wade soon after graduating from the University of Texas. Represented by Weddington and Coffee, Norma McCorvey became the plaintiff known as “Jane Roe” in Roe v Wade. McCorvey became an evangelical Christian and opponent of abortion. She died in 2017. In a posthumous confession, she said anti-abortion groups paid her to take such a stance.

In her Guardian interview, Weddington said arguing the case in federal court “was like going down a street with no street lights. But there was no other way to go and I didn’t have any preconceived notions that I would not win.”

She did win, but the case continued.

“Henry Wade, the district attorney, unwittingly helped us,” she said. “At a press conference, he said, ‘I don’t care what any court says; I am going to continue to prosecute doctors who carry out abortion.’ There was a procedural rule that said if local elected officials continue to prosecute after a federal court had declared a law unconstitutional, there would be a right to appeal to the supreme court.”

Before the court in Washington, Weddington said, “it was impossible to read the justices’ faces. The attorney on the other side started by saying something inappropriate about arguing a case against a beautiful woman. He thought the judges would snicker. But their faces didn’t change a bit.

“I had to argue it twice in the supreme court: in 1971 and again in 1972. On 22 January 1973 I was at the Texas legislature when the phone rang. It was a reporter from the New York Times. ‘Does Miss Weddington have a comment today about Roe v Wade?’ my assistant was asked. ‘Why?’ she said. ‘Should she?’

“It was beginning to be very exciting. Then we got a telegram from the supreme court saying that I had won 7-2 and that they were going to air-mail a copy of the ruling. Nowadays, of course, you’d just go online.

“I was ecstatic, and more than 44 years later we’re still talking about it.”

Weddington later revealed that she had an abortion herself, in 1967. “Just before the anaesthesia hit,” she said, “I thought: ‘I hope no one ever knows about this.’ For a lot of years, that was exactly the way I felt. Now there’s a major push to encourage women to tell their stories so people will realise that it is not a shameful thing. One out of every five women will have an abortion.”

Weddington predicted: “Whatever else I do in my life, the headline on my obituary is always going to be ‘Roe v Wade attorney dies’.”

Weddington when she was special assistant to President Jimmy Carter. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

In fact she achieved much more, as Hays detailed. Weddington was “elected as the first woman from Travis county in the [Texas legislature] in 1972 (along with four other women: Kay Bailey, Chris Miller, Betty Andujar and Senfronia Thompson).

“She was general counsel of the United States Department of Agriculture under [Jimmy] Carter and enjoyed her stint in DC. Federal judicial nominations for Texas were run by her as a high-ranking Texan in the administration.

“A Dallas lawyer she knew sought a bench. She had interviewed with him while at UT law. He’d asked her, ‘What will we tell our wives if we hire you?’ She told him he was wasting their time and hers and walked out of the interview. He did not get the judgeship.

“Ever the proper preacher’s daughter, she would never tell me who the lawyer was. People don’t know that about Sarah. She was such a proper Methodist minister’s daughter. One of the few people I couldn’t cuss in front of.”

Hays also paid tribute to Weddington as a member of a “Great Austin Matriarchy” including the former Texas governor Ann Richards and the columnist Molly Ivins.

Among other tributes, the University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck said Weddington was “a remarkable woman [who had] a remarkable career and a remarkable life. May her memory be a blessing”.

Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said simply: “Rest in power.”

Weddington indicated she was at peace with being remembered for Roe v Wade.

“I think most women of my generation can recall our feelings about the fight,” she told the Guardian. “It’s like young love. You may not feel exactly the same, but you remember it.”

 This article was updated on 27 December 2021 to include tributes to Sarah Weddington from Steve Vladeck and Sherrilyn Ifill. Reference was also added to Norma McCorvey’s statement shortly before her death, but revealed only afterwards, that she changed her stance on abortion because she had been paid to do so by opposition groups.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/26/sarah-weddington-attorney-who-won-roe-v-wade-abortion-case-dies-aged-76