Utah Republicans want to take harder stance on abortion than even the LDS Church.
 George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

The Utah Republican Party wants to change its party platform and show no mercy on exceptions for abortion.

The closer we get to a Supreme Court decision that finishes Roe v. Wade for good, the bolder the anti-abortion movement is getting in showing its true colors. In Utah, that means no mercy.

Last week, the Utah Republican Party proposed eliminating exceptions to abortion bans for rape, incest, or preserving the pregnant person’s life—and encouraging adoption instead. As the Salt Lake Tribune notes, that’s a harder stance on abortion than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Republican Delegate Bob McEntee argues that the proposal is merely aesthetic, telling the Tribune:

It’s kind of ugly language. We don’t need to talk about rape or incest. That almost sounded like a permission slip to go get an abortion if this happens.

Where do we even start? For one thing, it’s already clear that Utah Republicans and the anti-abortion movement as a whole don’t care about pregnant people. But this is an example of how they will keep moving the marker as the left makes concessions.

For another, adoption is not an alternative to abortion. Especially when many adoption agencies have disturbing religious ties and discriminatory practices.

Meanwhile, Utahns are waiting for the other shoe to drop: The state has an 18-week abortion ban and a total ban (with some exceptions, that conservatives might now decide to go after) on the books that are currently blocked by the courts.

A reversal of Roe v. Wade that could come with the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could trigger their reinstatement, forcing pregnant Utahns to travel out of state for reproductive care. And it’s hard not to see this latest move as a sign that conservatives fully expects this to happen.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2022/04/25/utah-republicans-forecast-their-post-roe-plans/

The Oklahoma House on Thursday morning approved a Republican bill to outlaw abortions after six weeks of pregnancy that will take effect as soon as it is signed into law.

The measure would immediately cut off most abortion access in a state that has absorbed nearly half of all Texas patients who have traveled out of state for abortions since Texas enacted a similar law last fall.

The bill, which makes exceptions for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest, cleared the Oklahoma Senate in March and now goes to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who is expected to sign it.

Hours later, the Oklahoma Senate voted for a similar bill that would go one step further, banning abortions at all stages of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape and incest in addition to medical emergencies. That bill will now return to the House, where it is widely expected to pass, before heading to the governor.

Coming ahead of a highly anticipated Supreme Court decision on abortion expected this summer, the Oklahoma measures show that states are not waiting for the high court to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision enshrining abortion rights before acting to ban the procedure within their own borders.

Both bills are modeled after the restrictive Texas law, enacted last fall, that has evaded court intervention with a novel legal strategy that empowers private citizens to enforce the law.

During the Senate debate on the wider abortion ban, state Sen. Warren Hamilton (R) questioned why the bill should include an exception for ectopic pregnancies, a life-threatening condition in which the fetus grows outside the uterus. “I wonder how we square that with the idea of justice for all,” said Hamilton, who also opposed the measure’s exceptions for rape and incest.

State Sen. Mary Boren (D) argued that “the only kind of abortion this bill attempts to reduce is legal abortion in Oklahoma,” emphasizing that the legislation would force patients to travel to abortion clinics out of state or perform their own abortions. “That’s why this isn’t a pro-life bill. Jeopardizing women’s health is not pro-life.”

The sponsor of the wider ban, state Rep. Wendi Stearman (R), has said the measure “will induce compliance as no abortion provider will be willing to risk the lawsuits they would face if they violate this act.”

Several Oklahoma clinics stopped scheduling abortions in anticipation of the bills. The other clinics are prepared to cease operations at any moment.

“It has been next to impossible to plan,” said Andrea Gallegos, executive administrator at the Tulsa Women’s Clinic, an independent clinic that has pledged to continue providing abortions until Stitt signs one of the bills. “We have a fully packed schedule.”

Stitt signed another abortion ban earlier this month that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But abortion rights advocates in Oklahoma see these latest Texas-style bans as a far more immediate threat than their predecessor, which is not slated to take effect until the summer. The latest abortion bans will also be harder to challenge in court, because of the novel enforcement mechanism behind the Texas ban.

Oklahoma legislators say the flurry of antiabortion legislation is in part a reaction to the recent surge of Texas patients. Of the thousands of Texas patients who traveled out of state for abortions from September to December, 45 percent went to Oklahoma, according to a recent study from the University of Texas at Austin.

“A state of emergency exists in Oklahoma,” said state Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R), who introduced the six-weekban, referring to the number of abortions that have been performed in Oklahoma since Texas enacted its law.

“It’s sickening,” Treat said. “And that’s the reason we’re making every effort to get our laws changed.”

Several states are not waiting for a Supreme Court decision this summer. Kentucky’s two abortion clinics stopped performing abortions for a week in mid-April after Republican legislators passed a sweeping package of antiabortion restrictions that clinics said made it impossible for them to continue abortion care. That law has now been temporarily blocked by the courts.

And legislators in 13 states, including Oklahoma, have introduced their own versions of the Texas law, which could take effect regardless of the high court’s decision this summer.

Many antiabortion legislators see the Texas strategy as a promising path forward, despite widespread criticism from legal scholars who say it diminishes the power of the courts. Since September, the Supreme Court has passed up three opportunities to overturn the Texas ban, a move some Republicans have interpreted as a green light for this kind of legislation.

In Missouri, for example, state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R) said she felt newly optimistic about the prospects of the Texas-style abortion ban she had proposed after the Supreme Court announced its December decision to let the Texas law stand.

“I thought, ‘Okay, my bill has legs,’” Coleman said of her measure.

Besides Oklahoma, Idaho is the only other state that has successfully passed a Texas-style ban, though others, including Coleman’s Missouri measure, are still moving through the legislature. The Idaho law, which was slated to take effect April 22 after it was signed by Gov. Brad Little (R), has been temporarily blocked by the state Supreme Court, pending further review.

Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit Thursday in the Oklahoma state Supreme Court to block the six-week ban.

“Unless these bans are blocked, patients will be turned away, people seeking abortion will be unable to access essential care in their own communities, and their loved ones could be stopped from supporting them due to fear of being sued,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

Still, Oklahoma abortion providers are preparing for all or most abortions to be banned for the foreseeable future. Planned Parenthood clinics in the state have already started sending some of their doctors to Kansas, where one Planned Parenthood facility will start offering surgical abortions, in addition to medication abortions.

In the past few weeks, Gallegos said, she and other staff members at the Tulsa clinic wrestled with whether to continue scheduling appointments. She is eager for their doctors to see as many patients as possible — but at the same time, she said, she dreads having to call and cancel.

Now that one of the Texas-style bills has passed both chambers, Gallegos said, she and her staff will call every patient scheduled for the next few days. While they should still come in as planned, she’ll tell them, they should know the governor could sign the bills at any time.

After that, she said, she will send patients to New Mexico or Colorado, where many clinics are already fully booked.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/04/28/abortion-oklahoma-republicans/

We urge our peers, colleagues, communities, and elected officials to speak out against anti-abortion policies that have devastating consequences for our communities.
 Getty Images

We’re witnessing SB 8’s interference with one of the core tenets of medical practice: Act in the patient’s best interest.

For over eight months, SB 8 has banned nearly all abortion care in Texas. By designing a bounty reward system that encourages vigilantism by private citizens, Texas SB 8 has also delayed care for pregnant people in the state and engendered widespread fear around the provision of an essential health-care service.

In our clinical rotations, we have witnessed the catastrophic consequences of this purposefully confusing and fear-mongering law. The law hinders the delivery of essential reproductive health care and endangers all pregnancies. We’ve observed some physicians delay treatment to consult with lawyers before managing ectopic pregnancy, a common but grave complication in which abortion is recommended to save the patient’s life. We have seen patients with other pregnancy complications transfer from hospitals too fearful of misinterpreting SB 8’s “maternal life-saving” exception, lest they risk lawsuits up to $10,000 plus legal fees. And for conditions in which abortion can reduce the risk of sepsis and even death—SB 8 forces doctors to forgo the oath to “do no harm” and place liability above a patient’s very life.

SB 8 disrupts the sacred shared decision-making process between patient and health-care provider. Incomplete health care for pregnant individuals results in avoidable physical, emotional, and financial costs, like higher rates of postpartum hemorrhage and an increased likelihood of experiencing intimate partner violence. These unacceptable outcomes are particularly egregious in a state like Texas, where the ongoing maternal mortality and morbidity crisis ultimately disproportionately impacts people of color.

In addition to forcing doctors to violate the tenet of acting in the patient’s best interest, SB 8 has restricted essential educational opportunities for medical students, further complicating our ethical responsibilities and impacting future healthcare delivery in the state. In our leadership roles within Medical Students for Choice, we have spoken to chapter leaders across Texas about the status of abortion education at their medical schools; many schools still do not offer formal abortion education, despite the official recommendation by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to include abortion training in all medical curricula. Some schools even limit the teaching of abortion to a single bullet point on a PowerPoint slide, listing it as a “pregnancy complication.”

Additionally, the amount of support offered to medical students who advocate for the expansion of abortion education varies immensely. While some students have found faculty and administrative allies, others have encountered significant institutional pushback. Some Texas medical school professors were already understandably afraid to talk about abortion before SB 8’s passing, and they are even more apprehensive now, leaving aspiring providers without valuable mentorship.

Regardless of an institution’s willingness to support abortion education, Texas SB 8 limits abortion care exposure for medical students who depend on experiential learning.

According to ACOG, the barriers to education and training are multifactorial and include legal obstacles to timely abortion access and provision. As medical students preparing ourselves for careers centered on advocating for the health and well-being of our communities, we are deeply concerned about the consequences of legislation like SB 8. Regardless of a medical student’s future specialization, it is important for all med school graduates to be competent in the full spectrum of pregnancy options counseling. Moreover, given that medical students are future representatives of the medical community, our education must include the science of abortion care so that we can adequately combat the persistent spread of misinformation around abortion.

As medical students training in Texas, many of us kept a careful watch on the 50 anti-abortion bills that were introduced during the 87th legislative session, SB 8 being just one among them. We leveraged our voices as representatives of a rising generation of health professionals and advocated against anti-abortion legislation in the ways we knew how—we submitted public comments, called our representatives, and engaged our social and professional networks with calls to action. Still, our elected officials made anti-abortion legislation a priority over immediately pressing issues like the persistently vulnerable power grid and an appallingly mismanaged pandemic.

We now urge our peers, colleagues, communities, and elected officials to speak out against anti-abortion policies that have devastating consequences for our communities. The World Health Organization’s official guidelines recommend the removal of policy barriers to abortion access, and institutions with a vested interest in the health of their communities must do the same. We call upon the medical community to support abortion providers and advocates and assert a louder voice in the conversation around abortion care. A solutions-oriented approach to this preventable public health disaster in Texas can only be one that fiercely and unapologetically protects the human right to abortion.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2022/04/27/were-medical-students-in-texas-we-need-to-learn-about-abortion/

Clockwise, from top left: Rochelle Garza, Josh Shapiro, Aramis Ayala and Lauren Book

States across the country are rolling back access to abortion, and the fate of Roe v. Wade is up in the air — two factors that Democrats believe could elevate the issue of abortion rights this midterm cycle to a level not reached in recent memory.

The flurry of legislative action in states such as OklahomaArizonaKentucky and Florida comes as the US Supreme Court is expected to rule this summer on a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, as campaign season kicks into high gear. At a hearing last year, the high court’s conservative majority signaled its intent to uphold the law, going against decades of precedent.

As a result, Democratic candidates across the country are prioritizing the issue of reproductive rights in their 2022 campaigns.

Planned Parenthood is planning to run its “largest ever midterm electoral program to support candidates up and down the ballot who support our reproductive rights,” according to Jenny Lawson, vice president of organizing, engagement and campaigns at Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Heather Williams, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which supports Democrats in state legislative races, said the group is hoping to “turn the outrage and frustration into votes.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Republican State Leadership Committee, the DLCC’s GOP counterpart, told CNN the Democrats’ strategy of running on abortion rights will be futile.

“What voters are most concerned about right now is inflation, the cost of living, education and crime,” the RSLC’s Andrew Romeo said.

According to a CNN poll conducted earlier this year, most Americans oppose overturning the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established a nationwide right to an abortion, with a majority saying that if the decision were vacated, they’d want to see their own state move toward more permissive abortion laws.

CNN spoke with several Democratic candidates, running in part on the premise that the future of abortion rights is on the ballot in November, in states where either new abortion restrictions have been enacted or a Democratic governor has vetoed Republican-backed bills attempting to curtail abortion rights.

Texas

A controversial state law that bans abortions as early as six weeks went into effect in September, after the US Supreme Court and a federal appeals court opted not to rule on pending emergency requests brought by abortion providers. The law also allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion.

Rochelle Garza, running for state attorney general

Rochelle Garza, second from right

Rochelle Garza, second from right

Rochelle Garza, who faces a May primary runoff for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, was nine weeks pregnant when Texas’ six-week abortion ban went into effect.

She told CNN her candidacy for attorney general was in part inspired by the ban.

“SB 8 was atrocious,” Garza, who gave birth to her daughter last month, said of the Texas bill. “It has such a deep impact on people’s lives in a way that our (elected officials) do not understand.”

“I want something better for my daughter’s future, and I think that’s ultimately what brings it home for me and why I’m running for this office,” she said.

If she wins her primary, Garza could find herself running against a familiar opponent. As an attorney in private practice, she fought in court against Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s efforts to insert himself in a case to help the Trump administration prevent her client, a detained 17-year-old immigrant, from accessing an abortion. Garza and the ACLU won that case. Paxton is seeking a third term this year and has a primary runoff of his own to get through in May.

Becca DeFelice, running for the Texas House

Becca DeFelice, the Democratic nominee for a Texas House district that includes part of San Antonio, told CNN that being the mother of a 12-year-old daughter informed her decision to run for office.

“Running for office really is something that I’m doing for her, for her future and for the future of other little girls like her in the state,” said DeFelice, a former organizer with the gun violence prevention organization Moms Demand Action.

“With choice, we know that this is a central issue to my district,” she said, citing the high number of people in her district who donate to Planned Parenthood South Texas. “We know that this is a huge issue not just for Democratic voters but for Republican women as well.”

DeFelice is challenging Republican state Rep. Steve Allison, whose campaign website notes that he is “pro-life and is endorsed by two prominent pro-life organizations.”

Jessica Cisneros, running for the US House of Representatives

Jessica Cisneros

Jessica Cisneros

Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration attorney, advanced to a May primary runoff against Rep. Henry Cuellar — a political institution in South Texas who was the only House Democrat to vote against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion rights even if the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade. (Republicans blocked the bill in the Senate.)

“He doubled down on his anti-choice stance and said abortion wasn’t health care. This is why I’m running because our community deserves someone who will always fight tooth and nail for our health care,” Cisneros told CNN in a statement.

Cueller, according to the Laredo Morning Times, said in a Zoom conference last year that he had backed “millions of dollars on health care for women” but that abortion was “not a health issue.”

“For me,” Cisneros said, “knowing how many people are being affected and have lost their right to health care, you just can’t be a bystander.”

Florida

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday a GOP-led bill that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, allowing only for exceptions involving “serious risk” to the pregnant person and fatal fetal abnormality but with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Florida state Sen. Lauren Book, running for reelection

Florida state Sen. Lauren Book

Florida state Sen. Lauren Book

Lauren Book, the state Senate minority leader, is a survivor of child sexual abuse. She delivered an impassioned floor speech before Florida’s abortion ban legislation passed the state Senate last month, pleading with her GOP colleagues to reconsider exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

“Any attempt to limit a woman’s right to choose in my opinion is extreme. To then couple that with no exception for rape, incest or human trafficking, to me, that is the state imposing cruel and unusual punishments on victims of crimes. And that is beyond offensive as a woman, as a survivor of sexual assault and as a human being,” Book said in an interview with CNN.

She said survivors of rape or incest need time to physically and mentally heal. “They should be given the opportunity to have more time to make that choice,” she said.

Asked how the state’s abortion ban and other controversial legislation would affect her reelection campaign, Book said, “You put the loss aside, and you keep on fighting.”

“We’re recruiting people to run around the state, particularly focusing on a woman’s right to choose,” she said.

Janelle Perez, running for the Florida state Senate

Janelle Perez, who is seeking a state Senate seat in Miami, is one of the candidates Book helped encourage to run.

Perez, who is a lesbian and Cuban American, said she’s running because she wants “to see legislators that look like my community making decisions for my community.”

“I am the daughter of Cuban exiles. For me, the reason why my family fled communism and a dictatorship is for freedom and that includes reproductive freedoms, that includes my choice as a woman to make decisions for my own body,” she said.

Being a mother also influences Perez’s campaign.

“My wife and I want our girls to grow up in a Florida that affords them the same rights that we had growing up,” Perez said last month. “With the 15-week abortion ban that just passed, they are already growing up in a Florida that has less rights.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, running for reelection

State Rep. Anna Eskamani told CNN that when it comes to women’s health and reproductive rights, her earlier experience working at Planned Parenthood shapes her perspective.

“It really allows you to have a great deal of empathy for an issue that has become hyper-political and partisan,” she said. “I know patients who have made this decision. I have walked with women past protesters to help them feel safe. I have watched their children because they couldn’t afford child care.”

Eskamani said that while she’s “never been shy” about her past work, her focus recently has been on constituent services for Floridians who she said are more concerned with housing, rent and small business relief than cultural topics that have animated the state GOP.

But a statewide election is a different matter, Eskamani said.

“My job is making sure folks understand what’s at stake, so they realize that elections have consequences. And if you agree that this type of government overreach is inappropriate, then you need to come out and vote,” she said.

Aramis Ayala, running for state attorney general

Aramis Ayala

Aramis Ayala

Aramis Ayala, a civil rights advocate, public defender and former Florida state attorney, said the 15-week abortion ban is “one of the primary reasons” she decided to run for attorney general in the Sunshine State.

“While you have a governor who’s consistently saying, ‘This is a free state,’ well, in this situation, not if you’re a woman, not if you’re gay, not if you’re a Black or brown or poor person who wants to vote. Freedom only exists for a certain amount of people, and we should be looking for freedom for all Floridians,” said Ayala, who was Florida’s first Black elected state attorney.

DeSantis, for his part, has defended the new law.

“These are protections for babies that have heartbeats, that can feel pain, and this is very, very late,” he said at an event last month. “And so, I think when you’re talking about late term, you know, that’s one thing. And so, you know, I think the protections are warranted.”

As attorney general, Ayala told CNN, she would reimagine the scope of the role to focus on constitutionality over culture war priorities.

“I would ride on the Constitution, I would ride on people’s rights, I would ride on the dignity of people and make certain that anyone who was attempting to belittle, minimize or eliminate the rights of the people would not be able to pass such unconstitutional, problematic legislation without a fight,” she said.

Georgia

In 2019, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who is running for reelection this year, signed into law a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — when many women don’t yet know they’re pregnant. A federal judge blocked the ban from going into effect.

State Sen. Jen Jordan, running for state attorney general

State Sen. Jen Jordan, who is running for attorney general, fears Georgia is “going to be getting a double whammy” should Roe v. Wade be overturned and the state’s heartbeat bill be resurrected.

Lawmaker shares personal loss in abortion bill dissent

Lawmaker shares personal loss in abortion bill dissent 02:30

During debate over the bill in 2019, Jordan gave a floor speech in which she shared intimate details about her experience with multiple miscarriages.

“The issue of choice is much bigger than just about access to abortion care. It really is about women having autonomy over their bodies and having control over their lives,” she said.

Jordan said that while speaking to constituents, she’s heard “lots of personal stories of loss.”

“Almost no matter where I go, I get pulled aside by somebody,” she said, adding that because of her floor speech, “women felt like someone was kind of voicing their story in a way and really could understand and relate to the pain or the difficulties.”

New Hampshire

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law last year a 24-week abortion ban that also mandates ultrasounds prior to the procedure. The law went into effect in January.

State Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, running for reelection

State Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka was 24 weeks pregnant as the Granite State legislature debated the 24-week abortion ban legislation.

Moved by how such a ban could potentially affect her, she gave a floor speech, urging her colleagues to oppose the bill.

“My rights actually were being changed by the legislation we were debating,” Perkins Kwoka said. “I didn’t think my colleagues thought it would really apply to a woman like me who was sitting in the chamber.”

“It particularly felt like, today, I’m a mom, and I’m a woman, and I’m capable of all of these complex decisions. What’s different after week 24? Why tomorrow, you know? Am I capable of different decisions?” she said. “Those were some of the thoughts that I had as we had this floor debate.”

Perkins Kwoka, who is running for reelection this year, said abortion rights have “certainly been something that the constituents are paying attention to.”

“I have had women stop me in parking lots, talk to me in line when I’m getting coffee, send me emails, send me text messages that are like, ‘Thank you for fighting for us on choice.’ Women in my mom’s generation are saying I cannot believe that you still need to be fighting this fight on our behalf, but thank you for doing it,” she said.

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the Republican-led state legislature has passed anti-abortion bills, but Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has used his veto pen to block the legislation.

Abortion rights advocates worry that with Wolf term-limited this year, those restrictive abortion bills could become law without a Democrat in the governor’s mansion.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, running for governor

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Josh Shapiro, the lone Democrat running to succeed Wolf, has been outspoken against the anti-abortion laws in Texas, Mississippi and South Carolina. As state attorney general, he joined legal challenges to these laws, arguing they were unconstitutional. Shapiro also previously challenged a Trump administration gag rule that barred funding for abortion clinics.

“Throughout my career, I have always fought to protect reproductive rights — and as Governor, I will stand up to any attempt to further restrict the right to choose in Pennsylvania,” Shapiro told CNN in a statement.

“Republicans are leading a concerted effort to ban abortion across the country, and who we elect as our next governor will quite literally decide whether women’s reproductive freedoms continue to exist in Pennsylvania,” he said.

Alexandra Hunt, running for the US House of Representatives

Alexandra Hunt, a 29-year-old public health researcher challenging Rep. Dwight Evans in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional District, has spoken of her personal experience with abortion.

“I think living the experience is really important,” Hunt, who had an abortion when she was 18 years old, told CNN.

At the time of her abortion, Hunt said she was a freshman in college and “not in any sort of financial position to raise a child.”

“I was working in restaurants, going to school and I was working in strip clubs. And I could not bring a child into this world and care for that child properly,” she said, describing her decision as “motivated by love for the future children I do want to bring into this world.”

Hunt believes Congress must codify Roe v. Wade into law.

“There is a very distinct disconnect between policymakers and the people that have to abide by the policy,” she said. “I would help to bridge that gap.”

Michigan

Michigan is another state where a Democratic governor — in this case, Gretchen Whitmer — has vetoed anti-abortion bills passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature.

It is also one of nine states with an abortion ban on the books — Michigan’s dates to 1931 — that could potentially be enforced if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, running for reelection

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer filed a lawsuit on April 7 against several county prosecutors in Michigan and asked the state’s Supreme Court to issue a decision on the constitutionality of abortion.

The lawsuit is the most recent example of Whitmer’s efforts to defend abortion access in her state.

“In the coming weeks, we will learn if the US Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade. … If Roe is overturned, abortion could become illegal in Michigan in nearly any circumstance — including in cases of rape and incest — and deprive Michigan women of the ability to make critical health care decisions for themselves,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This is no longer theoretical: it is reality.”

Whitmer previously vetoed legislation that would provide more than $16 million in anti-abortion funding in Michigan and has asked the state legislature to pass a bill repealing the state’s 1931 abortion ban, which she described in an interview with CNN+’s Kasie Hunt as “one of the most extreme laws on the books.”

State Attorney General Dana Nessel, running for reelection

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has said that she would not use resources of her office to defend Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Earlier this month, Nessel, for the first time, described having her own abortion in 2002 while pregnant with triplets. At the time, Nessel had to terminate one of the pregnancies in order to carry the other two to term.

“I’ve made it very clear that if you are a medically qualified person to provide an abortion, I don’t intend to use the resources of my department to prosecute women or their doctors for what is a private and personal decision, and a medical decision, made between those parties,” she told CNN last month.

“I don’t see how we’re protecting them by subjecting them to great bodily harm or death because you have physicians that are so afraid of preforming what’s been a routine procedure,” she said.

Nessel said she urges women who fear a potential loss of abortion rights to exercise their right to vote.

“What I tell women is like, ‘If you’re scared, good. You should be scared. But you should be activated, and you should get involved, support candidates who are pro-choice and who believe in the right to privacy,'” she said. “All is not lost.”

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/04/18/politics/democratic-candidates-abortion-rights-2022-midterms/index.html

A FLORIDA CIRCUIT JUDGE TRIED TO BLOCK A 17-YEAR-OLD HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT FROM GETTING AN ABORTION BECAUSE, IN PART, THE JUDGE THOUGHT HER GPA WAS TOO LOW. (GETTY IMAGES)

The 17-year-old high school student, whose GPA is 2.0, really wants an abortion.

A Florida circuit judge tried to block a 17-year-old high school student from getting an abortion because, in part, the judge thought her GPA was too low. 

The 17-year-old, known as “Jane Doe” in court papers, successfully appealed the circuit judge’s ruling this week. In a 2-1 ruling in the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, the panel of judges found that Doe was mature enough to earn what’s known as a “judicial bypass,” an arduous legal process that lets minors get abortions without involving their parents.

In his original ruling, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Jared E. Smith focused on the fact that Doe had originally said she made “B” grades, but her current GPA is 2.0. 

“Clearly, a ‘B’ average would not equate to a 2.0 GPA,” Smith wrote. Doe’s “testimony evinces either a lack of intelligence or credibility, either of which weigh against a finding of maturity pursuant to the statute.”

But a ruling written by Judge Darryl Casanueva and joined by Judge Susan Rothstein-Youakim pointed out that if Doe is making “Bs,” then her current GPA may not reflect her newer grades. And, in any case, “we observe a ‘C’ average demonstrates average intelligence for a high school student,” Casanueva wrote. “The evidence certainly did not show that her overall intelligence was ‘less than average.’”

The appeals court ruling also demolishes some of Smith’s other arguments that Doe shouldn’t get an abortion. While Smith used the fact that Doe doesn’t care for any younger family members to evaluate her emotional stability, Casanueva pointed out that Doe doesn’t have younger siblings. And while Smith said that Doe “has never had any financial responsibilities, even so much as paying her own cellphone bills,” Casanueva stressed that Doe works upwards of 20 hours a week, has $1,600 in savings and two credit cards, and pays for practically everything but the cellphone bills.  

Doe’s “testimony demonstrates that she possesses an ability to assess the consequences of her choice and the risk it entails,” Casanueva wrote in the 22-page ruling.

Thirty-eight states, including Florida, require that parents be notified if a minor wants to get an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion restrictions. (Technically, Florida also requires that parents consent to the procedure.) Most of those states have also set up judicial bypass systems. 

The exact criteria for obtaining a judicial bypass varies state by state, but it’s clear that judges have had enormous leeway in denying minors abortions. In a review of 40 judicial bypasses cases, Mother Jones found that a host of denials for what the outlet called “arbitrary, absurd, or personal reasons”—such as three judges who denied petitions because, in getting pregnant by accident, the minors had demonstrated that they were too immature to get an abortion. 

In one headline-making 2013 case, a Nebraska judge ruled that a girl in foster care shouldn’t get an abortion because she was financially dependent on her parents. 

“It’s OK for her to relinquish her child for adoption,” the minor’s attorney, Catherine Mahern, told ABC News at the time. “She doesn’t need a court to determine the underlying psychological impact or emotional impact of giving up a child, which I think is significant.”

In the Florida case this week, Doe said she wanted an abortion because “she is not yet financially stable and that she wants to be able to be on her own first,” per Casanueva’s ruling. Doe ultimately wants to go into the military, then go to college and become a nurse. Although Doe’s boyfriend and his mother support her decision to end the pregnancy, Doe said that her parents would try to convince her to continue it if they found out about it. 

Judge John Stargel was the only member of the appeals court panel to dissent from the ruling to let Doe get an abortion. 

“The majority discounts most of the trial court’s concerns regarding Doe’s credibility and demeanor as a witness, overall intelligence, emotional development and stability, and ability to accept responsibility,” Stargel wrote. “The trial court is in a unique position to determine the credibility and demeanor of the witness.”

Stargel, who also drew attention to the fact that Doe had made some misspellings and grammatical errors in her petition, is married to Florida state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who has introduced a bill to ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

In an email to the Ledger, the state senator went after critics who drew attention to the pair’s connection.

“From what I have seen, the social media-driven rage over my husband’s dissent is rife with pro-abortion rhetoric, yet so short on actual facts, I really have to question whether they actually read anything about the case,” Stargel wrote.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/akv7xg/judge-abortion-gpa

It’s essential to grapple with how the many relationships among the white supremacist, eugenics, and anti-abortion movements all impact how pregnant people of color navigate their reproductive decisions.
 Jon Cherry/Getty Images

We need to explicitly name white supremacy and racism as the core drivers of abortion bans and restrictions, as well as violence and harassment.

Abortion providers and people accessing abortion care are at high risk of violence and harassment. We know this from the well-documented history of providers being murdered, clinics dealing with arson and regular hate mail, and protesters stationed daily outside many abortion clinics, where they harass providers and patients.

What we don’t always talk about—or name explicitly—is that the violence and harassment faced by patients and providers who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color is often heightened and racialized. At Physicians for Reproductive Health, we know this is true from the countless experiences of physicians in our network as well as those working day to day on the ground, especially in hostile states. Unfortunately, this reality is often dismissed or minimized in an attempt to disassociate racism and white supremacy from attacks on abortion rights.

It is critical to understand that the anti-abortion movement has historically strong ties to white supremacist movements in the United States. Consider, for example, how efforts to criminalize abortion and contraception were only sporadic until the United States saw an influx of Black and brown folks, after which white people started referring to the falling birth rate among their demographic as “race suicide.” Subsequently, abortion bans were introduced across the nation.

Also consider the United States’ long history of reproductive coercion and eugenics; everything it did to stop Black, Indigenous, and people of color from having children (for example, through forced sterilization); and everything it did to force white women to give birth (such as active denial of contraception, sterilization, and abortion restrictions).

More recently, it has been nearly impossible to tell the anti-abortion movement and white supremacist movements apart. For example, in recent years, white nationalist groups have been highly visible at the so-called March for Life rally, where they actively recruit new members. And at the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, which was led by many white supremacist groups, some of the people who stormed the U.S. Capitol were familiar faces we know well—as protesters outside abortion clinics. As a Prism reporter put it, “Overwhelmingly, these were white men who—when not trying to overthrow the government—spend a great deal of their time harassing people outside of abortion clinics.” And those are but a few among many examples of the link between abortion opponents and white supremacists.

Given this long history, it is important to state it plainly: White supremacy and racism are core drivers of abortion bans and restrictions, as well as violence and harassment, and this is both directly connected to and evidenced by the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and people of color when they provide or seek abortion care. Below is just a sampling of stories that those involved in abortion care and access have voiced over the past several years.

Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of We Testify, has shared multiple examples of the racialized harassment and violence directed toward her and other abortion storytellers. “This extra-racist anti-abortion harassment is why we have to support storytellers of color because it’s vile and non-stop,” Bracey Sherman tweeted in February 2021. “They truly hate that we speak out advocating for care for ourselves and our communities.”

Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush told her abortion story for the first time last year at a House Oversight Committee hearing. “At the clinic, she said she heard white patients her same age say they were told they should give up their babies for adoption,” NPR reported at the time, “but Bush said she was told she would end up on food stamps and welfare if she had hers.”

“It worsened my shame,” Bush continued. During her testimony, she spoke directly to Black women and girls, telling them, “We have nothing to be ashamed of, 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.”

Kelsey Rhodes, an advocate and my PRH colleague, also shared:

My partner is a queer, Arab abortion provider. Her identities are constantly observed and commented on by protesters when she walks into work. She’s often misgendered [and] misidentified racially, and is thought to be a patient when she enters the clinic. Today when I dropped her off, a white male protester standing beside a white female protester told my partner, “Please don’t kill your baby, my wife and I will adopt your baby, we will save your baby, have mercy.”

They then turned to me and said that by taking her to the clinic, I was “driving the train to Auschwitz.” The confluence of race and ethnicity-based harassment and the usage of comparisons to historical tragedies focused on the targeting of ethnic minorities is a perfect display of the white supremacist bones of anti-abortion actions. Could it be a more obvious display of white saviorism than a white man telling a brown person he can save her?

These experiences are supported by excellent research from law professors like David Cohen of Drexel University. As Cohen and co-author Krysten Connon note in their 2015 book, Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism, anti-abortion protesters often target abortion providers with “identity-based comments,” and race is a “common [element] of general clinic protest.” An increasingly frequent line of racialized harassment—that those who work on abortion access will be familiar with—is that “abortion is a form of eugenics against the Black community,” they write.

Cohen and Connon also note that these types of comments are often targeted directly at Black abortion providers and patients. One abortion provider they interviewed for Living in the Crosshairs explained how a protester regularly called him racist expletives. Another shared how frequently a protester made comments to him about his race. “She says, ’You’re killing the black race,’” the provider told them. “She says, ’Why are you killing all these Black people?’”

And it’s not only abortion providers but also patients and those providing support for them (such as clinic escorts) who face specific and heightened racialized harassment. At Mississippi’s Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the clinic at the center of the Supreme Court case that could undo Roe v. Wade—protesters “gather … to yell at clients and distribute pamphlets to them as they walk to the clinic,” the Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen reported in 2017. One clinic escort showed Allen “booklets that refer to abortion as ’child sacrifice’ and warn that it will bring about ’black genocide.’”

As another clinic escort at the Jackson clinic told HuffPost in 2014, Protesters “literally just go up to every car that comes up the street. They automatically assume that every African American driver is coming to the clinic. They say some of the most disgusting, degrading and racist comments to them about killing the dream, killing the next Barack Obama, the next Martin Luther King.”

It’s clear from the research and the many experiences of Black abortion providers, clinic workers, and patients that the violence and harassment they encounter is “more racialized and intense,” Ebony wrote in 2015. “They’re often accused of being ‘race traitors’ or ‘killing the Black race’ simply for providing health care.”

Dr. Monica McLemore, an associate professor in the Family Health Care Nursing Department at the University of California, San Francisco, told Ebony, “When I worked for Planned Parenthood, I had several protesters ask me ‘how as a Black woman can I participate in the murder of Black children.’”

History has shown us that Black women have been at the forefront of reproductive and abortion health care for hundreds of years,” Ebony continued, “however anti-abortion protesters, often White, are quick to erase their contributions and autonomy.”

McLemore, also an affiliated scientist with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health whose research focuses on reproductive health and justice, told Ebony that nurses who provide abortion care feel “upset, angry, and disappointed” that race and ethnicity is used “to shame them for their work and to belittle the contributions they make.”

Given these experiences, it is essential to grapple with how the many relationships among the white supremacist, eugenics, and anti-abortion movements all impact how Black, Indigenous, and people of color who are pregnant navigate their reproductive decisions. And this continues to show up in every facet of our lives—including law and policy. “When you get a birth rate less than 2 percent, that society is disappearing,” Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley said in 2019, referencing Western Europe. “And it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don’t wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children. So you see that there are long range impacts to your society when the answer [is] to exterminate.”

Unfortunately, as time passes, the harassment and violence directed at abortion providers and patients has not decreased. The National Abortion Federation’s statistics on violence and disruption against abortion providers in 2020 showed that there was, yet again, an increase in intimidation tactics, vandalism, and other activities aimed at disrupting services, harassing providers, and blocking patients’ access to abortion care. In a press release, NAF Chief Program Officer Melissa Fowler also said:

Unfortunately, in 2021, our members continue to report an escalation in aggressive anti-abortion activity. Members report an increase in harassment and intimidation outside of clinics by people emboldened by the Texas abortion ban and the recent Supreme Court activity concerning abortion cases. The people who threaten clinic workers and harass individuals seeking abortion care are often the same people who participate in other violence and extremist activities that are rooted in racism, white supremacy, and misogyny, and are deeply harmful.

If we ever hope to address the ongoing attacks on access to abortion care, including the intimidation, violence, and harassment targeting providers and patients who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color, we must call the root of the problem by its name: white supremacy. And we cannot shove it under the rug, or dismiss the blatant racism experienced by providers and people getting abortions.

It is essential that our movement confronts and names white supremacy as a core driver of anti-abortion harassment and violence—and we need our lawmakers and abortion rights supporters to do the same.

Source: https://rewirenewsgroup.com/article/2022/04/21/harassment-at-abortion-clinics-is-already-bad-its-worse-when-youre-black/

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a new Republican-backed law in Kentucky that led the state’s two remaining abortion clinics to halt the procedure

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a state law that effectively eliminated abortions in Kentucky after the state’s two remaining clinics said they couldn’t meet its requirements.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings was a victory for abortion rights advocates and a setback for the Republican-led legislature, which passed the law in March and then overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the measure last week. Both of the clinics indicated Thursday that they would immediately resume abortion services.

The new law bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and requires women to be examined by a doctor before receiving abortion pills. It also contains new restrictions and reporting requirements that the Kentucky clinics said they couldn’t immediately comply with. Noncompliance can result in stiff fines, felony penalties and revocation of physician and facility licenses.

Jennings’ order did not delve into the larger issue of the new law’s constitutionality. Instead, it focused on the clinics’ claims that they’re unable to immediately comply with the measure because the state hasn’t yet set up clear guidelines. The judge said her order does not prevent the state from crafting regulations.

Jennings, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said she decided to block the measure because she lacked information “to specifically determine which individual provisions and subsections are capable of compliance.”

Abortion rights activists said they were relieved by the decision but noted more rounds are ahead in the legal fight.

Kentucky’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, signaled that he’ll be ready to defend the law as the case proceeds.

“We are disappointed that the court chose to temporarily halt enforcement of the entire law,” he said in a statement. “This law is constitutional and we look forward to continuing to defend it.”

Abortions had been suspended at the two Louisville clinics since the law took effect last week. During that time, women in Kentucky were forced to either travel out of state to end their pregnancies or wait for the judge’s decision. Many of the women affected were young and poor, advocates said.

Attorneys for the two clinics — Planned Parenthood and EMW Women’s Surgical Center — filed separate lawsuits challenging the law and seeking an order halting its enforcement. Jennings issued the order in the Planned Parenthood suit.

“Abortion remains legal and is once again available in Kentucky,” said Heather Gatnarek, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, which filed the suit on behalf of EMW. “We will always fight to keep it that way here and across the country.”

Kentucky is among several GOP-led states that have passed restrictive abortion laws in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established a right to abortion nationwide nearly 50 years ago.

Pending before the high court is a challenge to a law passed in a fifth state, Mississippi, that bans abortion after 15 weeks. The court has indicated that it will allow Mississippi’s ban to stand and conservative justices have suggested they support overruling Roe.

The Mississippi case loomed even as abortion rights supporters cheered their victory Thursday in Kentucky.

“Unfortunately, the ability to receive an abortion will continue to hang by a thread throughout the United States,” Gatnarek said. “In a few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether to weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade.”

No matter how the current conservative-dominated Supreme Court handles pending high-profile abortion cases — perhaps weakening Roe, perhaps gutting it completely — there will be no monolithic, nationwide change. Fractious state-by-state battles over abortion access will continue.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/kentucky-abortion-law-blocked-win-clinics-84224370?cid=social_fb_abcn&fbclid=IwAR3ZMdaXzsUCo2G6UBKeCYTTRZGfvBtzNKhzmHbrpQJAj3-AmcV5s8CIg-U

ANTI-ABORTION AND PRO-ABORTION PROTESTORS GATHER OUTSIDE THE SUPREME COURT ON NOV. 01, 2021 IN WASHINGTON, DC. (PHOTO BY JABIN BOTSFORD / THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES)

With abortion rights in peril, pregnant people are likely to only become more vulnerable.

When a woman in Texas was arrested last week for murder for what officials called “a self-induced abortion,” the United States took notice. The case generated national headlines and outrage; a California legislator called it the “future extreme anti-abortion activists want.” By Sunday, the local district attorney had announced that his office would dismiss the indictment against the woman, Lizelle Herrera. 

Many of the details surrounding Herrera’s case remain unclear. 

“She miscarried at a hospital and allegedly confided to hospital staff that she had attempted to induce her own abortion and she was reported to the authorities by hospital administration or staff,” Rickie Gonzalez, founder of Frontera Fund, said at a Saturday protest about Herrera’s case

Although Texas last year enacted a law that bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy and bulldozed abortion clinics’ ability to perform the procedure, that law is supposed to be enforced through lawsuits filed by individuals—not by state prosecution. 

In a statement, Starr County District Attorney Gocha Ramirez said, “It is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her.” But, Ramirez added, “The Starr County Sheriff’s Department did their duty in investigating the incident brought to their attention by the reporting hospital.”

For some advocates, the entire saga highlighted a grim reality: With growing uncertainty over the future of abortion rights, pregnant people are likely to only become more vulnerable. 

“It’s not surprising to me that this happened in the Rio Grande Valley. We’re a low-income community, we’re a large community of people of color. These restrictions seem to hit us first and hardest,” said Zaena Zamora, executive director of Frontera Fund, which helps assist Texans looking for abortions. 

The national legal right to abortion may be a relic of the past within weeks: The Supreme Court is now deliberating over a case that may topple Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. “When you have these types of restrictions and when you see that Roe is hanging in the balance of a majority-conservative Supreme Court, it does create a lot of fear and anxiety that this is going to get worse before it gets a lot better,” Zamora said. 

If Roe is overturned, states would be free to regulate abortion as they see fit; 13 states, including Texas, have laws on the books that would ban all or almost all abortions if Roe falls. 

Experts say that prosecutors who are determined to find ways to criminalize pregnant people will often stretch statutes to fit the supposed crime. If/When/How, which runs a legal defense help people who are facing criminal probes for inducing their own abortions, has found that, between 2000 and the present day, more than 60 people have been criminalized for either self-managing their own abortion or helping someone else do it. (Having an abortion at home, early in pregnancy and through the use of abortion-inducing pills, is widely regarded as safe. The World Health Organization even has a recommended protocol for doing so.)

Since 1973, there have been more than 1,600 instances where women have been “arrested, prosecuted, convicted, detained, or forced to undergo medical interventions that would not have occurred but for their status as pregnant persons,” according to a legal brief filed to the Supreme Court last year by the nonprofit National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

These kinds of cases don’t always involve allegations of abortions, said Dana Sussman, the deputy executive director for National Advocates for Pregnant Women. A pregnant person can find themselves staring down law enforcement if they’ve had a miscarriage or stillbirth, or even if they give birth to a healthy baby. 

In 2010, police accused a pregnant Iowa woman who tripped and fell down some stairs of feticide; local media reported at the time that an attempted feticide charge was dropped because the woman was not far enough into her pregnancy. In 2011, an Indiana woman was jailed after she attempted suicide while pregnant. In 2015, another Indiana woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being accused of feticide for allegedly self-managing her own abortion. And in October 2021, an Oklahoma woman was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter after she miscarried a 17-week-old fetus. 

In 2019, a California woman named Chelsea Becker was charged with first-degree murder for delivering a stillborn child after consuming meth. The charge was ultimately dropped, but Becker was incarcerated from November 2019 until March 2021; during that time, her youngest son was taken into child services and adopted, she said in a 2022 statement to the California legislature.

“Experiencing the loss of my baby—alone—caused a lot of trauma for me and while I was in custody, I was unable to receive the proper counseling to help me with the grief process,” Becker said in that statement. “Even with the counselors at the jail, I was afraid anything I might have said to any of them would be used against me in court, so I suffered alone.”

Feticide laws have been passed in 38 states, according to Sussman.

“They are not infrequently used against pregnant people themselves, even when the plain language of the law does not permit that,” Sussman said. “When a fetus can be a victim of a crime…criminal laws can be applied to a pregnant person as someone who can perpetrate a crime against a fetus.”

The idea that a fetus is a separate person who is both worthy of constitutional rights and capable of being murdered is a concept that’s fundamental to anti-abortion ideology. And it’s made inroads at the highest court in the country: In December, as the Supreme Court heard arguments in the abortion case that could lead to Roe’s overturning, Justice Clarence Thomas asked whether a pregnant woman who took cocaine had a right to “bodily autonomy.”

“He was already moving beyond abortion, to questioning whether a pregnant person has bodily autonomy rights at any point in their pregnancy, which is exactly what the fetal personhood movement has wrought,” Sussman said. “They are using this idea and this principle to control and limit the bodily autonomy rights of pregnant people, their rights to medical decision-making, their right to not be criminalized for things that would not be crimes but for their pregnancy.”

If Roe falls, advocates are braced for the possibility that pregnant Texans will only come under further scrutiny from the cops and the medical establishment.

“Lizelle is not the first person for having a self-induced abortion, or for whatever situation happened with her,” said Zamora. “I do not believe she is going to be the last.”

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/y3vjym/woman-in-texas-charged-for-miscarriage-abortion

A PRO-LIFE DEMONSTRATOR KNEELS IN FRONT OF A LINE OF VOLUNTEER CLINIC ESCORTS IN FRONT OF THE EMW WOMEN’S SURGICAL CENTER, AN ABORTION CLINIC, ON MAY 8, 2021 IN LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY. (PHOTO BY JON CHERRY / GETTY IMAGES)

Beyond a 15-week abortion ban, Kentucky’s new law creates an abortion-monitoring system so baroque, providers and state agencies alike can’t do their jobs.

Kentucky has effectively banned abortion, abortion rights supporters say, after the state legislature voted on Wednesday evening to override its governor’s recent veto of a slew of abortion restrictions. 

The abortion restrictions, which are lumped under one law known as House Bill 3, include a ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. They are so onerous that abortion providers in the state say they are unable to comply with them. The two abortion clinics left in Kentucky, EMW Women’s Surgical Center and Planned Parenthood, are now suing over the law.

“This is a clear attempt to halt access to abortion and eliminate access to a constitutionally protected right,” Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, told reporters on a call Wednesday, ahead of the veto override. “Anti-abortion legislators have created restrictions that the state is not yet even prepared to enforce.”

House Bill 3’s list of restrictions is lengthy: Beyond the 15-week ban, it limits the provision of abortion-inducing pills and hardens the rules around minors’ ability to get abortions. The law also lays down a baroque system of recording abortions, requiring physicians who perform the procedure to report their full name and address to the state, as well as the abortion patient’s city, age, race, ethnicity, age of their sexual partner, information about possible past pregnancies, and reason for the abortion.

Gibron told reporters that recording this kind of information could jeopardize patients’ privacy. The law also requires the state to set up an extensive monitoring system—one that state agencies say they don’t have enough resources to manage. 

There are no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest.

“It is over 70 pages of regulations, unnecessary regulations, but regulations that cannot be complied with overnight,” said Carrie Flaxman, a Planned Parenthood attorney. “It requires forms that don’t exist, programs that don’t exist, and other requirements that take months, if not longer, to comply with.”

The 15-week ban also flies in the face of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, and current abortion jurisprudence, which blocks states from totally banning abortion ahead of fetal viability. That benchmark is typically pegged at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

However, the Supreme Court is now weighing the constitutionality of a 15-week ban in Mississippi. The justices’ decision in that case, which could obliterate abortion access across the country, is now expected within weeks. And conservatives have seen a window of opportunity in that case: Red states are now advancing a number of 15-week abortion bans, in anticipation that the Supreme Court will give them the green light to take effect. 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed House Bill 3 last week. In his veto message, he cited the fact that House Bill 3 is expected to initially cost one state agency close to $1 million—but the bill doesn’t appropriate any money for those costs.

However, the state legislature is dominated by Republicans. Both chambers of the legislature voted overwhelmingly in favor of the veto override Wednesday.

The lawsuits over House Bill 3 are being filed in federal court, but there is no timeline of when a court may put a halt to the law. Gibron said that abortion providers are now working to get wouldbe patients out of the state. 

Roughly 4,100 abortions were performed in Kentucky in 2020, the most recent year for which state data is available.

On Thursday morning, hours after the Kentucky veto override, Florida also took steps to limit abortion access: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a 15-week abortion ban that’s now scheduled to take effect on July 1. It also does not have rape or incest exceptions.

Source: https://www.vice.com/en/article/3abmbj/kentucky-15-week-abortion-ban

In a 1932 case, US Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis argued that the state of Oklahoma had the right to regulate companies selling ice, a vital commodity in the days before electric refrigerators were widely adopted.

States must have the power to reshape “our economic practices and institutions to meet changing social and economic needs,” he wrote in a dissenting opinion.

Under America’s federal system, “a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory” and conduct “social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” Even though he was on the losing side, Brandeis’ opinion would be remembered for casting the states as “laboratories of democracy.”

Inherent in that view is the possibility some state experiments will go wrong; even wildly wrong, as many believe is happening today amid an intensifying culture war.

Red states are enacting measures restricting what can be taught in schools — with Florida’s “don’t say gay” law and Virginia’s executive order banning the teaching of critical race theory among them — and reducing access to voting in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election. And, last week, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Florida put in place new restrictions on abortion that appear to violate the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

“In red states, it’s open season on women’s rights,” wrote Jill Filipovic. “Several Democratic-dominated states, on the other hand, are taking proactive steps to ensure abortion access. In Maryland, a new law means that trained medical professionals other than doctors will be able to legally perform abortions in the state.”

Four years before the Oklahoma ice decision, Justice Brandeis invoked the right to privacy in another dissenting opinion with long-lasting implications. Wiretapping someone’s phone without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment, Brandeis contended. The framers of the Constitution “conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”

The “right to be let alone” became the basis for the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in favor of abortion rights, which now is under assault.

In the Washington Post, Paul Waldman wrote “when the history of how American women lost their reproductive rights is written, the bill-signing that took place in Oklahoma City on Tuesday should be acknowledged as a key moment when the shrinking window of possibility that the Supreme Court might hold back from overturning Roe v. Wade essentially closed forever.” Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, signed a “plainly unconstitutional bill” which outlaws almost all abortions.

“Faced with upholding or striking down a near-total ban such as Oklahoma’s, the court can’t take half-steps,” Waldman observed. “The justices can’t find refuge in debating the number of weeks into a pregnancy restrictions might be allowed, or whether some hoops states make women jump through are acceptable and others aren’t. They’ll have to decide on the fundamental question: Either women have a right to abortions, or they don’t. And the court’s conservative majority clearly thinks they don’t,” he argued.

“The reemergence of the culture war is downright chilling,” LZ Granderson wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may be hogging all the attention for starting the flood of so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills across the country (we’re up to 12 and counting), but don’t sleep on the ‘don’t read gay’ effort that’s been working in the shadows.” Granderson noted “the American Library Assn. tracked 729 book challenges in 2021 and found the ‘most targeted books were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.’ “

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/2022/04/17/opinions/states-culture-war-opinion-column-galant/index.html?fbclid=IwAR3Cc2Qv0VYEer22FOwyhBqu5ENT4Lip65AN2FzmcK1PNyV6Z9fXBiwX2-4