Abortion Information

Mississippi’s capital city has repealed a local law that sought to restrict noise levels outside the state’s only abortion clinic

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi’s capital city has repealed a year-old local law that sought to restrict noise levels outside the state’s only abortion clinic by limiting amplified sound and banning protesters from approaching patients without their permission.

A group that sued the city of Jackson said the repeal is a victory for free speech, while the clinic’s owner sharply criticized the city for not protecting patients and clinic employees from harassment.

The Jackson City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to take the ordinance off the books. It was responding to a lawsuit filed by Mississippi Justice Institute, a group that pushes for limiting government regulations.

“We are pleased that the city of Jackson has decided to do the right thing and end this unconstitutional restriction on free expression,” the institute’s director, Aaron Rice, said in a news release Wednesday. “This is a major victory for free speech for Jackson and the state of Mississippi.”

Jackson City Council members adopted the ordinance in October 2019, and the institute quickly sued the city on behalf of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, whose members pray outside the abortion clinic.

The lawsuit said the ordinance unconstitutionally limited speech rights as people tried to persuade women not to end pregnancies.

Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is in Jackson’s eclectic Fondren neighborhood. Owners of nearby shops and restaurants have complained about commotion outside the bright pink clinic. Some protesters have used bullhorns and the clinic has played loud music to cover the sound. The street and sidewalk outside the clinic were quiet Wednesday — likely a sign that no patients were being seen for procedures or for the counseling that the state requires at least 24 hours before an abortion is done.

Clinic owner Diane Derzis told The Associated Press on Wednesday that protesters have harassed women for years.

“The Jackson police pretty much ignored the ordinance,” Derzis said.

She said the City Council backed down under pressure because of the lawsuit. Referring to city officials, Derzis said: “We’re not willing to do the right thing. We’re not willing to do it for the women who walk in that door or the women who work in the clinic or the people who walk on the street or the businesses that are nearby.”

Like many places in the Deep South, Mississippi is a conservative state with a Republican-led Legislature that has been enacting laws to restrict access to abortion. Southern cities where abortion clinics are located tend to be more socially and politically liberal. That’s the case in Jackson, where most City Council members are Democrats.

During debate about the ordinance last year, Jackson council members said limiting noise and creating a buffer zone was an attempt to help patients and local businesses rather than to help the clinic.

Violation of the Jackson ordinance carried a $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail or both.

A federal appeals court in February 2019 upheld the constitutionality of a 2009 Chicago ordinance that created an 8-foot (2-meter) bubble zone outside medical facilities. But, in 2014, the Supreme Court struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law that banned people from standing within 35 feet (11 meters) of an abortion clinic.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/city-repeals-noise-rule-mississippi-abortion-clinic-74278772?fbclid=IwAR3Ag915D9JsFHfjqMPPAw-rxRqn6ng58MGxJqgfKXX7RRvRHtH2oCFT7e0

FILE – In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee speaks with reporters in Nashville, Tenn. A federal appeals court ruled Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, that Tennessee can begin outlawing abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well prohibit the procedure if it is based on the race or gender of the fetus. Earlier this year, Lee enacted the so-called “reason bans” as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure that he signed earlier this year. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Tennessee can begin outlawing abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well as prohibit the procedure if it’s based on the race or gender of the fetus.

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee enacted the so-called “reason bans” earlier this year as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure. The law gained national attention because it banned abortion as early as six weeks — making it one of the strictest in the country — but it included several other anti-abortion components.ADVERTISEMENT

The law was immediately blocked by a lower federal court just hours after Lee signed it into law.

However, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision will allow the state to enforce the reason bans while abortion rights groups continue their court battle against that law.

The plaintiffs, which include Tennessee abortion providers being represented by reproductive rights groups, had argued the ban was improperly vague, but the court disagreed.

Currently, more than a dozen states have similar reason bans in place.

“These bans are just another way anti-abortion politicians are attempting to limit the constitutional right to abortion care and to create stigma,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “Decisions about whether and when to continue or to end a pregnancy are best made by the individual and their family.”

The Attorney General’s office said in a statement that they “appreciate the Sixth Circuit lifting the lower court’s injunction” and looked forward to continuing defending the statute.

“Our law prohibits abortion based on the race, gender, or diagnosis of Down syndrome of the child and the court’s decision will save lives,” Lee said in a statement. “Protecting our most vulnerable Tennesseans is worth the fight.”

Immediately following the appeals court ruling, the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a request in lower federal court for a temporary restraining order to block the reason bans once again, but this time argued the law illegally prohibits a patient from “obtaining constitutionally protected pre-viability abortion care.”

“(The) Sixth Circuit only addressed plaintiffs’ vagueness claims and explicitly declined to issue any ruling with respect to plaintiffs’ claims that the Reason Bans violate patients’ constitutional right to pre-viability abortion,” the attorneys wrote.

The court had not issued a ruling on that as of Friday evening.

Down syndrome is a genetic abnormality that causes developmental delays and medical conditions such as heart defects and respiratory and hearing problems.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, about one in every 700 babies in the United States — or about 6,000 a year — is born with the condition, which results from a chromosomal irregularity.

The rarity of the condition has prompted abortion rights groups to paint the Down syndrome bans as part of yet another thinly veiled effort by lawmakers to continue chipping away at a patient’s right to an abortion.

Source: https://apnews.com/article/tennessee-down-syndrome-courts-6c95681e7c7dfc8d2d94a0ee4a7723c2?fbclid=IwAR2NpW-oQHm8kR_ohrylUDTIynoAFZVfT-UArDQNbQ11GbWQUmhBDKSKH6w

Seeking solace as she sat in the airport parking lot of a strange city, Tara Mendola tried to reach her rabbi before her procedure, to no avail. 

Though Mendola lives in Massachusetts, home to some of the best hospitals in the world, she was forced to travel to Denver, Colorado, for abortion care after receiving a fatal fetal diagnosis.

“I think that for women — especially women of faith — you know, we often seek out guidance for how to handle these situations,” she said, recalling that day nearly three years ago. “That’s a great deal easier if you’re not trying to negotiate reaching your spiritual leader from several thousand miles away.”

5:56RBG’s Death Sparks Urgency in Massachusetts’ Abortion DebateIn the days since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Supreme Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to replace her — which consolidated a conservative majority on the bench — the push to…Read more

Mendola is not alone in facing such a predicament: Women in Massachusetts are forced to get abortion care elsewhere because it’s illegal in the state after 24 weeks, even in cases of fatal fetal anomalies. There is an exception if continuing the pregnancy is a threat to the life or health of the mother.

In the days since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Supreme Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to replace her — which consolidated a conservative majority on the bench — the push to expand abortion access in Massachusetts has gained traction on Beacon Hill.

“So much hangs in the balance with this new Supreme Court,” Attorney General Maura Healey told NBC10 Boston. “From my perspective, we need to do everything that we can in our state legislatures to make sure that we have laws on the books in Massachusetts and elsewhere across this country that ensure a woman has a right to access an abortion when she needs it.”

If Roe v. Wade were to fall, Massachusetts has precedence from the Supreme Judicial Court that would preserve the right to choose. Opponents argue the legislation is unnecessary, but advocates warn that the make-up of state courts is subject to change and, therefore, the right should be written in law.

Pro-choice supporters of the the Roe Act line a staircase waiting to attend a hearing at the Massachusetts State House in Boston on a bill to expand abortion access in Massachusetts on June 17, 2019. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“Obviously to just lose such a lion, such a force for all kinds of rights — but especially for women’s rights — is a devastating blow for all of us who held Ruth Bader Ginsburg up as a hero,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “But it’s a really scary blow for our rights going forward.”

“We have a record in Massachusetts of responding when there is a change on the court that looks like it could threaten our rights,” Hart Holder said, pointing to the Legislature’s decision to repeal a criminal abortion ban when Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018. “It’s a really important opportunity for Massachusetts to lead nationally.”

The legislation is written too broadly, so as to include pretty much any circumstance that a woman feels is challenging for her up to the moment of birth… It would encompass too many viable babies’ lives.

Myrna Maloney Flynn, Massachusetts Citizens for Life

A coalition of organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts and the ACLU have been pushing to pass the ROE Act, a bill pending on Beacon Hill that would expand access to abortion beyond 24 weeks in cases of fatal fetal anomalies and lower the age that women are required to get permission from a parent or judge from 18 to 16.

“We like to think of Massachusetts as being super progressive and in a lot of ways, we are. In a lot of ways access to abortion has been protected,” said  Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, president of PPLM. “But there are a couple of remaining areas that really create barriers.”

Mendola learned of those barriers firsthand after she became pregnant in April 2017, when a routine growth scan with her high-risk pregnancy doctor in October turned into a diagnosis of severe and potentially lethal brain deformities. Her doctor at Beth Israel Deaconess referred her to Boston Children’s Hospital, where a team of specialists ran tests to confirm the physician’s suspicion.

Courtesy: Tara Mendola

“They sat us down and they told us that the doctor had been right,” Mendola said, “and that should we wish to end the pregnancy, they couldn’t help us because it was illegal in the state of Massachusetts.”

That’s how Mendola found herself at the airport parking lot in Denver, far from the comfort of her home, family and spiritual leader.

“Obviously, being able to have the abortion in Massachusetts would not have taken away the grief that we felt or the pain of the situation,” she said. “But, you know, I’m not going to lie — I’m still very angry and frustrated that I was not able to get care with my doctors in my state. And that I had to leave my older children behind at a very difficult time for a family to travel for care.”

Mendola was “very lucky,” she added, that she could afford the associated travel expenses such as last-minute plane tickets, a car rental and hotel that was reasonably comfortable considering the circumstances.

We need to do everything that we can in our state legislatures to make sure that we have laws on the books in Massachusetts and elsewhere across this country that ensure a woman has a right to access an abortion when she needs it.

Attorney General Maura Healey

The issue disproportionately impacts people of color and those with low incomes, Hart Holder said, adding such people may not have the means to pay “tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket” to travel to Chicago or New Mexico for abortion care, or to navigate the court system for judicial bypass.

“It is a ridiculous amount of money to expect people to have on hand,” Mendola said.

The ROE Act has been stuck in the Judiciary Committee for the majority of the 2019-2020 session despite widespread support. Amid concerns over an ideological shift on the Supreme Court, abortion amendments that closely mirror the bill were recently passed in the state House and Senate versions of the FY2021 budget. 

The decision now lands on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.

Baker has said he doesn’t necessarily see a need to change the current abortion laws, but has not explicitly said whether he would veto the measure. When asked again about the subject during a press conference last week, Baker echoed complaints from his Republican counterparts over including the proposal in a spending plan.

Governor Charlie Baker (Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“I do share some of the unhappiness that was raised by a number of members of the Republican Party, that putting policy in the budget was something that both leaders in the House and Senate said they would not do,” Baker said last week. “And it’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t a major policy initiative that is now in the budget.”

Opponents of the bill, like the pro-life organization Massachusetts Citizens for Life, argue the legislation is unnecessary because the abortion laws currently on the books are sufficient. 

“We agree with the governor when he states that the abortion law, as it is currently written in Massachusetts, serves our population just fine,” MCFL President Myrna Maloney Flynn said, noting that Baker is “more pro-choice” than the organization.

“We don’t believe that it’s in the best interest of the women, the girls or the infants in the Commonwealth,” Flynn said. “The legislation is written too broadly, so as to include pretty much any circumstance that a woman feels is challenging for her up to the moment of birth… it would encompass too many viable babies’ lives.”

Massachusetts Citizens for Life Vice President Myrna Maloney Flynn speaks during a rally outside the Massachusetts Statehouse on June 17, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. Opposing activists were rallying in advance of consideration by lawmakers of measures aimed at loosening restrictions on abortion, including removing criminal penalties for those performed after 24 weeks as well as removing the requirement for parental-consent for pregnant girls under 18.

Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, co-sponsor of the legislation, argues that the bill protects a woman’s right to choose without interference from the state.

“Basically, it gives women the right to make their own decisions about their bodies with the help of a doctor,” Chandler said. “That’s the most important issue that we have to deal with.”

I think that for women — especially women of faith — you know, we often seek out guidance for how to handle these situations. That’s a great deal easier if you’re not trying to negotiate reaching your spiritual leader from several thousand miles away.

Tara Mendola

Health care providers like obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Tara Kumaraswami, who has worked in central Massachusetts for more than a decade, argue the state restrictions prevent them from being able to provide complete care.

“I’ve been able to see what women have gone through and what the barriers they encounter (are) that really make it difficult for them to seek abortion care,” Kumaraswami said. “It is important that women are able to make this very personal decision between themselves, whomever they feel comfortable sharing this decision with and their health care provider.”

Mendola, who describes herself as a private person and a woman of conservative Jewish observance, said she is sharing her story in the hopes of changing the state law and, subsequently, the lives of women who need access to care like she did.

“I carry a sense of obligation to the people that helped me and to the women that will come after me,” she said. “I have a terrible stage fright. I hate talking in front of people. I really don’t enjoy having my personal obstetric history on the internet, but it feels worth it to me.”

State House News Service contributed to this report.

Source: https://www.nbcboston.com/news/local/after-rbgs-death-urgency-mounts-in-massachusetts-abortion-debate/2237092/

And there’s nothing feminist about that.

Stephanie Bice and Marjorie Taylor Greene are two of the anti-choice women elected to the House of Representatives.
 Washington Post/YouTube, Dustin Chambers/Getty Images

Coming soon to Congress: women who oppose abortion rights.

The number of anti-abortion women in the House of Representatives is set to double, going from 13 seats to as many as 30, pending election results in three districts. All of the women are Republican.

There is no reason to think they were merely checking a box in hopes of getting elected as Republicans.

Michelle Fischbach, one of the new representatives, spent more than a decade as a state senator sponsoring laws that doled out state funds to anti-abortion fake clinics (commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers) and forced biased information on Minnesotans seeking abortion care. Married to the head of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and the daughter of National Right to Life Committee co-executive director Darla St. Martin, Fischbach is practically anti-abortion royalty. She defeated anti-choice Democrat Rep. Collin Peterson, long known for doing all the wrong things for reproductive health, rights, and justice, including voting for “personhood”—an effort to grant legal rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses, criminalizing abortion and even birth control in the process.

Then there’s Georgia’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, the “pro-life” QAnon supporter and incoming member of Congress who can be found tweeting “WE WILL NOT COMPLY!” in response to hypothetical mask mandates—even though masks are proven effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19 and would actually save lives.

Not all of the incoming anti-abortion women are white. There’s Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma, who will be the first Iranian American in Congress. Yvette Herrell of New Mexico is a member of the Cherokee nation, and Florida’s Maria Elvira Salazar is Cuban American.

Does any of this represent progress for women? No.

Feminism is not simply womanhood. Feminism is a movement for gender equality that puts women and girls at the center of analysis.

There are feminisms, many of them great—Black feminism, ecofeminism, sex-positive feminism, young feminism, and faith-based feminism, to name just a few—and a smaller handful of the repulsive and oppressive, such as white feminism, Islamophobic feminism, and trans-exclusionary radical feminism, all of which seek to slap pro-woman branding on plain old discrimination against marginalized people, women included.

Enacting laws against women’s equality is not progress, even when done with the collaboration, collusion, and leadership of women. Abortion is not merely a “women’s issue.” There are people of all genders who have the capacity for pregnancy, and delightfully, our understanding of feminism and gender itself are at inflection points, especially among younger people who seem to understand transgender equality and inclusion far better than older generations of feminists who have discriminated against, misgendered, and deeply wounded trans and nonbinary people.

That said, abortion and reproductive rights and justice will always remain core, urgent issues for women’s equality in this country and around the world.

At any moment, an enormous proportion of women could become pregnant, and this issue is inextricably entwined with every other issue affecting women’s lives, from police violence to pay equity and gender-based violence. There is no hope for women’s equality without readily available, adequately funded, shame-free access to abortion. Not contraception. Not comprehensive sex education. Not public assistance and support to raise families with dignity. These are all critical, but they are not substitutes for abortion access. Abortion is not a bad behavior to minimize. That thing telling us it is? That’s sexism and internalized misogyny talking.

As I have written for Rewire News Group and other publications throughout a lifetime of advocacy for women and girls, there is no such thing as “pro-life feminism.” So-called pro-life feminism is literally impossible. There is no purer expression of sexism in the United States today than the anti-abortion movement, which exists to advance and cement white male supremacy under the law by subjugating women, criminalizing all but a narrow band of accepted sexual and reproductive behaviors, and increasing white birth rates while leaving Black babies to die.

I know some people will say, “Can’t we just focus on women’s equality and set the controversial issue of reproductive rights to the side?” Well, if you argue that women can be equal so long as they do not transgress laws that might throw them in jail for abortion, miscarriage, and pregnancy, then what you are arguing for is not equality, but submission. Remember this as the inevitable, bad-faith think pieces emerge about the new anti-abortion women in Congress, as women opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment suddenly claim the mantle of feminism in order to further cement sex and gender discrimination into law.

The modern anti-abortion movement exists because a handful of conservative men got in a room (maybe even a smoke-filled one) 50 years ago and decided that overturning Roe v. Wade could become their primary wedge issue and voter mobilization tool as explicitly embracing segregationism became more unfashionable. Ever desperate to prove they are not just racist white men with cigars, they are increasingly eager to put forward women to close their disgusting deal.

Remember this when Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the cynically named Susan B. Anthony List, goes on a press junket about the new anti-abortion women coming to Washington, crowing about how women want laws that would throw even more people in jail for abortion, miscarriage, and pregnancy. Remember this when Justice Amy Coney Barrett hears her first abortion case at the Supreme Court. Remember this when the newly elected women in the House of Representatives are strategically chosen to sponsor anti-abortion legislation.

Central casting has always called on women, especially white women, to enforce the patriarchy. Don’t let them fool you.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2020/11/17/more-anti-choice-women-were-elected-to-congress-than-ever-before/

Law banning abortion if sought for reasons related to Down syndrome, race, or gender will take effect in TennesseePrimary Content

Today, a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals panel granted a request from the state of Tennessee, letting part of a law take effect that prohibits abortion based on a patient’s reason, including a potential Down syndrome diagnosis or the sex or race of the fetus. These “reason bans” were signed into law in July as part of a larger abortion bill that also contains a series of gestational age bans prohibiting abortion starting at six weeks in pregnancy — all of which were immediately blocked by a lower court. 

Today’s ruling will allow the reason bans to take effect while litigation continues. The groups that brought this case will be going back to the district court later tonight to ask for a temporary restraining order blocking these reason bans once again, on the grounds that it is a violation of the constitutional right to abortion before viability. These kind of reason bans inflict harm by peddling stigma around abortions and stereotypes of Asian Americans and Black and brown communities, and by attempting to co-opt the mantle of disability rights.

“These bans are just another way anti-abortion politicians are attempting to limit the constitutional right to abortion care and to create stigma,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Decisions about whether and when to continue or to end a pregnancy are best made by the individual and their family. We will continue to fight these bans in the courts.”

“Today’s ruling allows this abortion ban to remain in place while the case continues, and will cause immediate harm to Tennesseans in the middle of making deeply personal medical decisions,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Politicians fought for this abortion ban while pushing racist stereotypes of Asian American and Black communities, instead of pursuing policies that would actually improve the lives of people with disabilities. This is shameful. While politicians abandon Tennesseans who need access to reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood continues to stand by our patients. We remain committed to helping everyone access abortion, despite politicians and courts doing everything they can to stand in their way. This fight is far from over.”

“It is shameful that the court would allow this abortion ban to take effect while the case continues. Unless the courts take further action, this harmful law will prohibit some Tennesseans from obtaining abortion,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law was motivated by anti-abortion politics, and does nothing to support people with disabilities. We will continue to fight until everyone in Tennessee who needs an abortion can get one.”

“This law is just another unconstitutional effort to ban abortion in our state. It does nothing to address the serious concerns of those with disabilities in our community or to ensure that people living with disabilities and their families have access to health care and other services they may need. Nor is this bill about addressing discrimination against women and girls or people of color. Banning certain abortions will not provide a real solution to gender or racial discrimination and does nothing to address their root causes,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director. “We will continue to fight for people’s ability to make their own decisions about pregnancy without political interference.”

More than a dozen states have passed similar reason bans. Tennessee’s gestational age bans, which would ban abortion at nearly every stage of pregnancy starting as early as six weeks, remain blocked through this same lawsuit. 

Tennessee has many additional abortion restrictions on the books, including a ban on the use of telehealth for medication abortion; limits on when state and public insurance can cover abortion services; and a requirement that minors obtain parental consent. A federal district court struck down the state’s 48-hour waiting period for abortion in October in a case litigated by the Center and Planned Parenthood. The Center, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU filed another case challenging the state’s medication abortion “reversal” law in August, and that law has been temporarily blocked from taking effect. 

This case was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Tennessee on behalf of the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Tennessee and North Mississippi, Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, carafem, and two abortion providers in Tennessee.

Source: http://reproductiverights.org/press-room/court-lets-part-tennessee-abortion-ban-take-effect?fbclid=IwAR29SCtHD2lt5qk-l_dP5KfO8sXqQIxLpu4heZKavjKyQpl0Gmmw65QZBrQ

Many experiences are like mine: unexceptional, not ‘deserving’ or ‘worthy’. The more of those testimonies we hear, the stronger we are in our fight to protect women’s rights

 A protester in Warsaw after the Polish constitutional tribunal imposed even stricter regulations on abortion. Photograph: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

One of the last things I did before lockdown was attend a rally supporting the protests against Poland’s constitutional court ruling that introduced a near-total ban on abortion. Hardening the country’s already terrifyingly restrictive current law, it would, if enforced, remove one of the few narrow exceptions still permitted: termination in the event of congenital birth defects.

The scale of protests in Poland has been extraordinary – and hopeful. With up to 100,000 people gathering nightly in Warsaw, they seem to have forced a pause in implementation of this appalling ruling. My damp, local version was less impressive – there were fewer than 100 of us (including dogs and babies), carefully distanced, in cagoules and masks – but no less moving, hearing young Polish women and men stand up and denounce a sclerotic, repressive ancien regime I’m desperate to see them sweep away.

Protests, particularly in defence of reproductive rights, are my John Lewis Christmas ad: one chant of “my body, my choice” and I’m gone, in floods of tears. They make me emotional because I have needed this activism. Decades of work by indefatigably courageous women (and more than a few men) made my abortions possible.

We shouldn’t need a personal stake in abortion to support access to it, but this is a movement deeply rooted in the personal as political. Next April will mark the 50th anniversary of the Manifesto of the 343, the seismic document in which 343 French women, including Simone de Beauvoir, Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Sagan declared in Le Nouvel Observateurmagazine that they had had abortions. To mark the occasion, a film project is seeking funding to tell the story of the women behind it: the journalist Nicole Muchnik and the activist Anne Zelensky. I’ve chipped in; this story needs to be told and retold.

The Manifesto spawned numerous emulators. In the US, signatories of the We Have Had Abortions declaration in Ms Magazine included Anaïs Nin and Susan Sontag. The ripples it created are still felt now. In 2019, as multiple US states restricted access to abortion alarmingly, a fresh wave of “me too” abortion stories hit social media, with celebrities including the actors Jameela Jamil and Ashley Judd and the model Tess Holliday sharing theirs.

I occasionally wonder about the value of these “me too” statements now, including my own. I feel uncomfortable discussing it; not because I am ashamed, but because it seems inappropriately self-centred. Isn’t it classic contemporary slacktivism for a celebrity (or indeed anyone) to post an artful Instagram shot with an impassioned defence of reproductive rights and cagily worded personal reference? It is certainly miles away from the genuine risk-taking of the original declarations, which were, at the time, admitting to a criminal act.

Even so, I think personal testimony is still vital. A recent example: in the wake of Donald Trump’s inflammatory and factually incorrect statements about late abortion, women’s stories of the unbearable circumstances that led to their decision provided a powerful corrective to the grotesque prevailing narrative.

More broadly, humans are hardwired to respond to stories. We engage more easily with what touches us personally – you are more likely to donate to Macmillan if you have seen a family member grapple with cancer. The more abortion stories we hear, the easier it is to find that connection.

I think, too, that personal testimony can help push back against the idea that only certain abortion stories are acceptable – exceptional ones, with an obvious human tragedy at their heart. Abortion is a public health good and a necessity, full stop; too many places and people do not accept that.

So: I had two abortions. In neither case was my life in danger; there were no foetal abnormalities; I could have supported another child. It was simply the right thing to do for me both times and I’m eternally grateful it was possible. They were not “good” abortions; they should not need to be. Many abortion stories are like mine: unexceptional, not “deserving” or “worthy”. The more of those we hear, the closer we come to drowning out an opposing rhetoric that is eroding rights that women took – and still take – real personal risks to fight for.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/nov/16/it-can-feel-uncomfortable-to-keep-telling-our-abortion-stories-but-it-is-still-essential?fbclid=IwAR2Na3tJ950_P24lBiDlVIOKL9yXhN–nsZne6qZf1_m1QtzpHbuIvnriTI

On #ThxBirthControl Day, we’re thanking birth control for letting people have the sex they want, the family they want, and the quality of life they want.

Did you know that the rules governing single people’s access to birth control used to be different than the rules for married couples?

Today is “Thanks, Birth Control” Day. It’s like Thanksgiving, but instead of celebrating genocide and forced assimilation, we celebrate the medical marvel that is birth control: a life-changing and lifesaving drug that lets people control when and whether to become parents, while helping many manage the symptoms of painful conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Finding and choosing a birth control that works for your body is a personal and often difficult process: Maybe you swear by the pill, or maybe you’re a Mirena evangelist. Maybe added hormones aren’t your thing and you’re into the copper IUD. And while there are other ways to prevent pregnancy—like condoms and other barrier methods—statistics show that if you are sexually active, chances are you have at one point used birth control.

There are a lot of people to thank for birth control: the scientists and researchers who created it; the advocates and lawmakers who continue to fight for access; the providers who walk patients through the process of finding the right option for them. But what would be the point of birth control if it were illegal to use it? That’s where the landmark court cases that cemented birth control as a fundamental right come in.

Did you know that the rules governing single people’s access to birth control used to be different than the rules for married couples?

Griswold v. Connecticut is widely understood as the landmark birth control case that legalized birth control. And it did—but only for some people.

In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut that the constitutional right to marital privacy meant doctors could not be criminalized for providing contraception to married couples. You might be thinking: wait—just married couples? Yup! Just married couples. For single people, the right to birth control did not become a reality until seven years later, in 1972.

Enter Eisenstadt v. Baird. After a Boston pro-choice activist was arrested and convicted of a felony for handing out foam spermicide to an unmarried woman, he challenged the Massachusetts law prohibiting distributing birth control to single people. The case reached the Supreme Court, which ruled that the law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment because it treated single people differently from married couples.

When it comes to birth control, the Court ruled that the distinction between married and single people didn’t pass the “rational basis test”—one of the standards of review that courts apply to determine whether a law is constitutional. The test asks whether the law in question is reasonably tied to a government interest. In Eisenstadt, the Court determined it was not. (For a deep dive into the levels of judicial scrutiny, you can check out this Boom! Lawyered explainer by my colleague, Imani Gandy.)

Essentially the Court said: Hey, if we’re letting married people get it on without us inserting ourselves—pun intended—into what they do in the bedroom (or the kitchen or the living room or the car), we don’t really have a good reason to keep single people from doing the same thing. And thus access to birth control for single people was born. (Again, pun intended.)

In the decades since Griswold and Eisenstadt, we’ve seen birth control access expanded and attacked. We’ve seen the Affordable Care Act cover contraception for millions, and we’ve seen conservatives lose their collective minds over this basic and fundamental part of health care being accessible for all.

But one thing has never changed: the importance of birth control for all who want and need it—to have the sex they want, the family they want, and the quality of life they want. And for that we say: Thanks, birth control!

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2020/11/18/have-you-thanked-birth-control-today/

Rights advocates hope a Biden administration will be able to pass the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act, that would repeal the rule permanently. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

Next US president expected to rescind rule that blocks aid for groups providing abortion services

One of Joe Biden’s first acts as president is expected to be the rescinding of a rule on US foreign aid, which rights campaigners say has prevented millions of women across the globe from getting access to proper reproductive and sexual healthcare over the past four years.

Trump reinstated the so-called “global gag rule”, also known as the Mexico City policy, on his first Monday morning in office in January 2017. The rule, first introduced by president Ronald Reagan in 1984, means that if an organisation receives US government funding it cannot engage in providing abortion services, counselling or even advocacy over abortion law, even if it does so using other, non-US funds.

Reinstating the rule was an expected move for a Republican administration, but in the months afterwards, it was expanded to make it unprecedentedly broad. Previously, the rule only applied to reproductive health funding, but it now applies to all public health funds, affecting nearly $9bn (£6.8bn) a year in foreign aid. The new rule means that NGOs cannot receive money for sanitation, access to clean water or HIV/Aids programmes if they also run programmes that offer abortion services or counselling.

“It’s important we don’t underestimate the harm that has been done. This wasn’t the typical Republican administration, where some bad policies came back and now they’re going to be rescinded again,” said Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington DC.

The US vice-president, Mike Pence, who has a long history of ultra-conservative positions on abortion, has driven the agenda. “Denying women access to contraception and abortion is core to who he is and the world he wants to create,” said Sippel.

Numerous reports have found that implementing the global gag rule leads to an increase in the number of unsafe abortions and endangers the health of women. “Girls have been losing lives just because of lack of access to services,” said Melvine Ouyo, a former clinic manager at Family Health Options Kenya, an organisation that had to close five clinics after declining to accept the new US aid conditions. “The impact of the global gag rule has been really devastating, and has been felt by most of the organisation in Kenya,” she said.

Keifer Buckingham, a senior policy adviser at the Open Society Foundations, said the rule left thousands of organisations with a “horrible” decision to make: “Do we reject very lucrative US government money in order to continue providing life-saving care, or do we take the money and compromise on our values and on the provision of reproductive healthcare?”

The organisation Marie Stopes International, which works in 37 countries across the globe, refused to sign up to the global gag rule in 2017, and thus had to decline $30m a year in US funding. The organisation estimates that over Trump’s full term, these funds would have allowed it to serve 8 million women with family planning help, preventing 6 million unintended pregnancies, 1.8 million unsafe abortions and 20,000 maternal deaths.

Dr Carole Sekimpi, who runs the organisation’s Uganda programme, said it had to cut back on five mobile outreach teams in the wake of Trump’s 2017 order, until donors from different countries stepped in to fill the funding gap. But the bigger problem was that other local organisations shied away from joint projects, fearful of losing their own funding.

“Because the regulation is so complicated, and often the interpretation by the US government is pretty blanket, everybody wants to be on the safe side,” she said.

Rights advocates hope that a Biden administration would be able to pass a piece of legislation introduced to Congress last year, known as the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights (HER) Act, that would repeal the rule permanently.

The vice-president elect, Kamala Harris, came out in support of the act last year. “The United States should never force non-government organisations to choose between receiving American aid and providing comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women across the world,” she said. It is not yet clear, though, whether the next administration will have the numbers to get the act through Congress.

As well as the global gag rule, the Trump administration has also sought to lead a global push to promote so-called “family values” and curtail access to abortion along with LGBT rights. In some cases, this rhetorical support may have been as damaging to the cause of women’s rights globally as the financial penalties.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has defended the dignity of human life everywhere and always,” the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said last month at the signing ceremony of an anti-abortion document known as the Geneva consensus declaration. “He has done it like no other president in history. We have mounted an unprecedented defence of the unborn abroad.”

Nearly 30 governments, mainly from authoritarian states, signed up to the document, in which the signatories “reaffirm that there is no international right to abortion”. Hungary and Poland were the only two EU members to sign. There have recently been huge protests in Poland over a constitutional ruling that would outlaw almost all abortion in the country.

“There are plenty of governments out there that are emboldened and empowered by the last four years of the Trump administration pushing this rhetoric and will continue to push it globally,” said Buckingham.

However, along with acknowledgement of the damage done, there is also impatience for a new era to start, and for a change of tone in the White House.

“We did so much during the Obama administration, and I am expecting that Biden should really do this in his first days so we can get these things back. I am just so expectant and excited that things will change quickly for the better,” said Ouyo.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/10/reproductive-health-ngos-abortion-pin-hopes-on-biden-reversing-global-gag-rule?fbclid=IwAR1XxkFilIUePS35CabqDDabxggeXfWepU5AuT3G6IYgK05yO48oWiCeUqI

A pro-choice protest sign reading "keep your laws off my body." In this q&a, Whole Woman's Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller explains what a Biden presidency means for reproductive rights.

Just months after the landmark abortion rights ruling Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Donald Trump was elected president, emboldening anti-abortion lawmakers to keep fighting the right to choose. Since that 2016 decision, the Senate cemented a 6-3 conservative SCOTUS majority that’s all but guaranteed to find a way to overturn Roe v. Wade.

That’s why Amy Hagstrom Miller, the CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, says that Joe Biden’s election isn’t necessarily an effortless victory lap for reproductive rights. Here, she explains why she’s concerned about the anti-abortion movement’s latest strategy and how there’s no way to be an abortion provider in the South without maintaining a constant level of optimism. “I’ve heard, ‘Roe is going to fall’ my whole life,” she tells Bustle, “and it hasn’t been the case yet.”

Tell me about how you were feeling on Election Night versus when the race was finally called on Saturday.

My head told me to be patient, but I was worried. I went to bed on Tuesday with the same numb feeling I’ve had all 2020. Then, on Saturday, I was having a late breakfast and coffee on my patio when I heard my next door neighbor literally shout, “It’s over!” from his rooftop at 11:30 a.m. We popped bubbly and didn’t stop until 7 p.m. It was the most carefree, happy, and relaxed I have felt in ages.

Given how this election shook out, how are you feeling about abortion access in America?

It’s not lost on me that the actual procedure of abortion is exactly the same no matter where you live. But what you have to go through to obtain that care is night and day depending on where you live. In Texas, we have already been living in a post-Roe U.S. We really do have two different Americas.

Even though a lot of white people voted for Trump, the level of engagement for Biden-Harris tells us so many people don’t believe that elected officials like Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell represent the majority of Americans. It will take us some time to get a Senate and Supreme Court that represent what the majority of Americans believe — namely, that support access to safe abortion.

The chipping away at Roe is very real. For most people, abortion is legal on paper, but access is a real challenge. I’m hopeful this new administration will have the power to secure people’s rights through issuing executive orders and developing policies, without being wholly reliant on the Supreme Court. I dream of a few things — lifting restrictions on telemedicine for abortion care, letting providers bill Medicaid and insurance companies, continuing to allow providers to mail medication abortion pills to patients. We should block two-visit requirements and waiting periods for abortion care, and while we’re at it, get rid of forced ultrasounds and fake “state mandated counseling” scripts.

I would also want to see the new administration define abortion care as essential medical care — care that can’t be delayed in a pandemic.

Can you say more about how there’s “two Americas” when it comes to abortion access?

The stigma associated with abortion, which is manufactured by the religious right, is something that really has struck in the places where people think abortion care exists outside the medical mainstream. People think it’s normal to go through mandatory waiting periods to second-guess their decision or have bans on their insurance covering abortion. An entire generation of people has been told they’re not the kind of person who has an abortion.

Our strategy is to deliver abortion care like any other kind of care. In my clinic in Virginia, we have nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and doctors integrated into providing primary care services, including abortion. But we can’t do that in Texas. Lawmakers allow people’s feelings and beliefs to determine what everybody has access to, without paying attention to what science actually says. As a result, people have come to expect that abortion is a healthcare experience outside of the norm, which it isn’t.

Voters in Colorado rejected their state’s anti-abortion ballot proposal, but voters in Louisiana approved a constitutional amendment saying there is no right to abortion in that state. What does that mean for what’s to come nationally?

A longtime strategy of the anti-abortion movement is to elevate the fetus to full personhood, the same as the person carrying the fetus. People say things like, “These are future voters and we need to protect these voters’ rights.” What Louisiana just did was add language to their state constitution denying “the right to abortion or to require the funding of abortion” as a means of “protecting human life.”

Post-Whole Woman’s Health, the anti-abortion movement’s strategy has moved away from alleged concerns for the health and safety of the woman to focusing on the health and safety of the fetus, like what you can read between the lines of the Louisiana amendment. That’s why you see so-called heartbeat bansD&E banspersonhood amendments, and fetal tissue disposal and handling regulations. It hasn’t been proven yet whether these new strategies are working — there hasn’t been a successful D&E ban, and they’ve tried this in multiple states. But they had to come up with this new strategy because we won in Whole Woman’s Health. The Whole Woman’s Health standard has been used in at least 12 states to repeal bad laws or block them from going into effect. That’s a huge victory.

What does a Biden win tell you about the future of reproductive rights?

Biden-Harris can block a lot of bad things from a Republican Senate from going into effect through the veto. But because of this turn of the Supreme Court, I think we’ll seek justice through legislation. My hope is if we end up with a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, we could advance the Women’s Health Protection Act or other federal legislation to codify Roe. But a Republican majority Senate will block what Biden tries to advance, just as they did with Obama, so doing that will be complex at this point.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Source: https://www.bustle.com/wellness/amy-hagstrom-miller-election-reproductive-rights

Breaking down the president-elect’s stance and plans for reproductive rights.


The year has been a fraught one for reproductive rights, between restricted abortion access amid the coronavirus pandemic, fights for birth control access, and potential threats to Roe v. Wade. Now, with the election of Joe Biden to the White House, the future of reproductive health and abortion rights may be pushed to the forefront of the next administration’s agenda.

Though his views on a woman’s right to choose have evolved over the years, Biden recently said, “Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. And, in fact, every woman should have that right.”

Here’s where the president-elect stands on abortion and what he has planned.

His public option for the Affordable Care Act will cover abortion.

In his plan for health care, Biden said that he wants to build on the progress made by the Affordable Care Act, which covers access to preventive care and contraceptives. He proposes that “the public option will cover contraception and a woman’s constitutional right to choose.”

However, since 1977, the Hyde Amendment has blocked public funding of abortion under Medicaid, except in cases of incest or rape, or if the pregnancy is a danger to the mother’s life, according to the Keiser Family Foundation. It’s not a federal law, but rather a rule added to the annual Congress spending bill, which is approved every year. According to his plan, Biden supports repealing the amendment.

He used to be a longtime supporter of the Hyde Amendment.

Biden made headlines for dropping his support of the Hyde Amendment last year amid criticism from his Democratic rivals in the primary race. “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he said in June 2019, when he made the change. He added that he had “no apologies” for his previous stance.

And that’s not the first time Biden’s stance on abortion has changed over the years—especially during his time in the Senate. TIME pointed out, “In 1981, he supported a constitutional amendment that would enable states to overturn Roe v. Wade. In his 2007 book, Promises to Keep, he wrote that while he is ‘personally opposed to abortion,’ he didn’t feel he had the ‘right to impose [his] view on the rest of society.'”

In 2006, Biden called himself the “odd man out” of his party, because he did not support federal funding for abortion and voted for bans on the procedure later in pregnancy, CNN revealed in a resurfaced video last year.

“I do not vote for funding for abortion,” he said, per CNN. “I voted against partial birth abortion—to limit it—and I vote for no restrictions on a woman’s right to be able to have an abortion under Roe v. Wade. And, so I am—I made everybody angry. I made the right-to-life people angry because I won’t support a constitutional amendment or limitations on a woman’s right to exercise her constitutional right as defined by Roe v. Wade. And I’ve made the groups—the women’s groups and others—very angry because I won’t support public funding and I won’t support partial birth abortion.”

He wants to protect Roe v. Wade and stop state restrictions on abortion access.

“As president, Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion, such as so-called TRAP laws [or targeted restrictions on abortion providers], parental notification requirements, mandatory waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements,” Biden’s plan states.

The Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973 made abortion legal in the United States, but states were still able to place restrictions on the procedure. At this stage, more than 20 states are poised to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Just this year, states like Florida and Mississippi have implemented abortion limitations.

The former vice president said that he wants to “codify” Roe v. Wade, as it isn’t included in the Constitution.

In an NBC town hall, Biden addressed the possibility of Judge Amy Coney Barrett overturning Roe v. Wade if she is confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. “Number one, we don’t know exactly what she will do, although expectation is that she may very well move to [overrule] Roe,” he said. “And the only thing, the only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land. That’s what I would do.”This content is imported from Twitter. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

He wants to reverse the Trump-era attacks on abortion rights.

Biden plans to rescind Trump’s “global gag rule,” which restricts health organizations around the world from receiving U.S. assistance if they perform abortions or provide information about the procedure as a form of family planning.

He also wants to reverse the administration’s domestic gag rule, which restricts providers that offer abortion referrals from receiving Title X family planning funds. In 2019, Planned Parenthood opted out of the Title X program over complying with the rule. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court ruled that Trump can enforce this rule, but the restriction has been blocked in Maryland.

He plans to restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The former VP made this announcement in his health care plan, citing how the Obama–Biden administration repeatedly “fought Republican attacks” on the organization. For example, during Obama’s final months in the White House before Trump’s swearing in, his administration passed a regulation saying that states with federal funding for family planning can’t discriminate against Planned Parenthood and providers like it.

Biden said he will release guidance to keep states from blocking Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, as well as reverse Trump’s domestic gag rule.

He’s endorsed by Planned Parenthood.

The organization announced its official endorsement of Biden for president in June.

“Joe Biden is the only candidate in this race who will stand up for our health and our rights,” acting president Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement. “He was instrumental in the creation of the Affordable Care Act, which expanded birth control with no co-pay to 63 million women, and in helping to ensure that sexual and reproductive health care was accessible across the country. He has spoken out for LGBTQ+ rights, and against the systemic racism in this country that is costing Black people their lives. Biden has committed to champion access to sexual and reproductive health care — including access to abortion — and to fight for our communities. When he left the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden had a 100% voting record from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and has been clear he is ‘100% for sexual and reproductive health.’ And we are going to hold him to that.”

How does Biden compare to Trump?

According to The New York Times, President Trump opposes Roe v. Wade and supports the Hyde Amendment, directly countering his opponent on these issues. The president also wants to restrict access to mifepristone and misoprostol, medications that induce abortions without surgery up to 10 weeks into pregnancy. Biden doesn’t explicitly address medication abortion, but has called the general procedure an “essential health service,” per NYT.

President-elect Biden also opposes—and plans to reverse—Trump’s gag rules that withhold federal funding for family planning for organizations that give abortion referrals.

Planned Parenthood supports Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential race.

“As we celebrate today, we are beginning a new chapter: one where we take full control of our bodies, our rights, our democracy, and our futures,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a statement. “The work does not end, because our fight to protect and expand health care for millions of Planned Parenthood supporters, patients, and global partners cannot let up for even a moment. Voters’ voices were loud and clear, and they elected a new president, who is fully committed to protecting access to sexual and reproductive health care—including access to abortion.”

Source: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a34205908/joe-biden-stance-on-abortion/?fbclid=IwAR2MQnxSVPF4f1RL25djczA_RQ3iL1oNt2zcNTOCUwOgc47IY7FjOTobFWw

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