NEWS: Nearly 1/3 low-income Asian women in states with limited abortion access

Repro Health Watch

September 1, 2022 | Economic Justice, Health Care, Abortion

 

Nearly One-Third of Low-Income Asian Women Now Live in States With Limited Abortion Access

NBC, August 30, 2022

When a young Rohingya woman touched down in New York in 2018, she thought she had finally reached safety – the end to an arduous lifelong journey of fleeing persecution without much choice. [...] "Getting an abortion had a financial cost to it, but now that cost has essentially tripled," said Rachna Khare, the executive director of Daya, a Houston-area survivors organization. According to new data from the National Partnership for Women & Families and an NBC News analysis, 31% of lower-income Asian women of reproductive age live in states that have banned or are set to ban abortions. With reproductive care becoming harder to access each day, experts say the most vulnerable groups will be the most crippled – and face the starkest consequences. "She had this rosy picture that America is a land of opportunity and things will totally change for her," Samira Ghosh, the Rohingya woman's advocate, said about her client. "But she didn't want an extra mouth to feed and another baby to bring to this world, because they were already struggling." Renewed cycles of poverty: Lower-income Asian women fall at the intersection of many barriers when it comes to getting any health care, experts say: Language, insurance, immigration status and money all play roles in making basic necessities inaccessible. When it comes to reproductive care and abortion access, cultural stigmas compound those factors. "It's not as easy for them to pick up the phone and call a friend or call a relative and say, ‘Hey, I need to go get an abortion three states away,'" said Yvonne Hsu, the chief policy and government affairs officer at the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. The new report by the National Partnership for Women & Families reveals that many Asian groups that fall below the poverty line are heavily concentrated in areas where abortion is completely banned. For those communities, the abortion laws of just a single state could affect large parts of the population, it said. Close to half of all Pakistani women and 40% of Vietnamese women in the U.S. live in Texas, where abortion is nearly completely banned. In Wisconsin, 17% of all Hmong American women of reproductive age are up against similar laws. [...] Indian women are the largest group of Asian American and Pacific Islanders affected by Roe's overturn, with 362,000 of them living in states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion. Although the number is smaller for Myanmar women – around 25,200 – it comprises the majority of their population in the U.S.

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F.T.C. Sues Over Tracking Data That Could Expose Visits to Abortion Clinics

The New York Times, August 29, 2022

Smartphone location tracking, a multibillion-dollar business in the United States, can reveal intimate details about Americans' daily routines – including where they go for medical treatments, religious services or mental health counseling. Now the Federal Trade Commission is suing Kochava, a major location data broker, saying the company's sale of geolocation information on tens of millions of smartphones could expose people's private visits to places like abortion clinics and domestic violence shelters. Such precise data "may be used to track consumers to sensitive locations, including places of religious worship, places that may be used to infer an L.G.B.T.Q.+ identification, domestic abuse shelters, medical facilities, and welfare and homeless shelters," the F.T.C. said in a complaint filed on Monday. The location details, the agency said, could be used to identify the mobile phones that people took with them on visits to an abortion clinic as well as the dates and times the visits took place. The data might also be used to trace the locations of health care professionals who provide abortions, the agency said. Regulators warned that consumers are not aware that their location information is being sold, even though the practice could expose them to serious risks. "The sale of such data poses an unwarranted intrusion into the most private areas of consumers' lives and causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers," the F.T.C. complaint said. The lawsuit comes at a moment of heightened concern over the privacy and security of reproductive health data. Civil rights groups have warned women seeking abortions in states that have restricted the practice that law enforcement agencies could obtain their smartphone locations and use the data to prosecute them. Last month, President Biden issued an executive order promising to bolster privacy protections for sensitive health data, including "combating digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services." The order also urged the F.T.C. to address deceptive uses of reproductive health information. Based in Sandpoint, Idaho, Kochava is a digital marketing and analytics firm whose software enables app developers to track marketing campaigns. According to the F.T.C. complaint, the company is also a location data broker "that provides its customers massive amounts of precise geolocation data collected from consumers' mobile devices."

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Local Judges Now Have More Power to Decide Who Gets an Abortion

The 19th, August 31, 2022

As abortion bans with narrow restrictions go into effect across the country, local and state judges – who typically lack medical training and are predominantly White men – are playing an increasingly significant role in determining whether someone is able to access an abortion. Judges have long been influential in deciding whether minors are able to get abortions through a mechanism known as judicial bypass. In the majority of states, minors have for years only been able to get an abortion if they obtain parental consent first. Those who are unable to do so can petition a judge to override the requirement. The judicial bypass system has been criticized by many physicians and abortion rights supporters, who note that getting a hearing can take weeks, affecting what options are available to petitioners. Decisions can be largely shaped by the personal and political inclinations of individual judges. State and local judges are selected separately from those who serve on the federal judiciary. In some states, judges are elected. In others, they are political appointees selected by the governor. In one case from this past January, a Florida judge denied a 17-year-old girl her judicial bypass in part because of her GPA. (An appeals court overturned that decision, and the judge recently lost a reelection campaign.) Earlier this month, a 16-year-old was denied because of questions about her "maturity." "The personality of the judge, and his training and his social economic status is all very important," said Carol Sanger, a professor at Columbia School of Law who has studied the judicial bypass process. The bevy of new abortion restrictions has expanded the impact the judicial bypass requirement can have. Roe's overturn has allowed more states to enact abortion bans earlier in pregnancy. Three states – Georgia, South Carolina and Ohio – are now enforcing six-week abortion bans, and Florida is enforcing a 15-week ban. That means that the process of appealing a bypass ruling – which can take weeks in some cases – puts young people up against a truncated timeline, Sanger said. For instance, she noted, Florida's truncated deadline could mean the process of appealing could simply take too long, so even if it successful, it could be too late. "All sorts of personal preference and beliefs contribute to how a judge decides these cases," Sanger said.

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Abortion Bans Threaten All Pregnancy Care

Rewire News Group, September 1, 2022

With the Supreme Court's recent overturn of Roe v. Wade, many people in the United States have lost community access to life-saving abortion care. At Texas Policy Evaluation Project, our latest research in Texas documents how abortion bans and their threat of civil and criminal penalties negatively impact the health care of all pregnant people in our state. Enacted a year ago today, Texas SB 8 restricts abortion at about five to six weeks' gestation, before many people even know they're pregnant. After its implementation, we have witnessed both the devastating impacts on abortion access and the emotional consequences for pregnant people seeking abortion care. At the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, our recent study found that the abortion restrictions in SB 8 also created a chilling effect for clinicians who care for pregnant people and adversely affected patients experiencing medical complications during their pregnancies. Abortion bans are not only inhumane, they are also imprecise. They hinge on medically inaccurate beliefs that abortion care exists outside of routine pregnancy care and that pregnancy complications have a clearly outlined definition or path. SB 8 allows only narrow exemptions for when people may receive abortion care. Physicians must document that there is a medical emergency with an imminent threat of death to provide hospital-based care for pregnancy complications that occur after detection of embryonic cardiac activity. This ban therefore obfuscates necessary, immediate interventions for people with pregnancy complications like the bag of water breaking at 18 weeks, a pregnancy growing through a cesarean section scar, or heart failure. The upcoming abortion "trigger" laws of many other states have similarly narrow exemptions as the one in Texas. In other words, abortion restrictions do not exist in a silo – they worsen the availability and quality of care for all pregnant patients. We interviewed clinicians across Texas who cared for pregnant patients with complicated pregnancies. This included maternal-fetal medicine specialists, OB-GYNs, and genetic counselors. We also interviewed pregnant patients who had health complications or received a concerning fetal diagnosis and tried to access abortion care in Texas or out of state. After SB 8 and now post-Roe, many of these patients are no longer eligible for hospital-based abortion care in Texas.

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Google Will Only Show Verified Abortion Providers by Default When Users Search for Clinics

CNBC, August 25, 2022

Google is rolling out an update to default to only showing verified abortion providers in local search results for such queries. The decision comes after the company took heat from lawmakers for showing misleading search results to people looking for abortion clinics. Mark Isakowitz, Google's vice president of U.S. and Canada Government Affairs and Public Policy, described the updated policy in a response to questions from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich. In a letter sent shortly before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which protected the right to an abortion on the federal level, the lawmakers urged Google to crack down on results that pointed to "anti-abortion fake clinics" when users searched for "abortion clinic near me" or "abortion pill." "We continue to update our Local Search services for local health-related queries, including those related to abortion services, to improve the accuracy and relevance," Isakowitz wrote in the letter dated Thursday. "When someone in the US searches for health care providers that provide abortions – for example, using the query ‘abortion clinics near me' – the Local Search results box will display facilities that have been verified to provide abortions." Users will still be able to see a wider array of results if they so choose, including from organizations that don't provide abortions, Isakowitz said. Those local search results will still be labeled to indicate whether or not facilities provide abortions. He also noted that Google had recently made more visible disclosures on abortion-related ads indicating whether or not a facility provides abortions. "When people turn to Google to find local information, we aim to help them easily explore the range of places available so they can determine which are most helpful to them," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "For a number of categories where we've received confirmation that places offer specific services, we've been working for many months on more useful ways to display those results. We're now rolling out an update that makes it easier for people to find places that offer the services they've searched for, or broaden their results to see more options." The new standard will also apply to other medical-related searches where Google has confirmation of the services provided, like in searches for veterans hospitals, according to the spokesperson. And if the service users are looking for in a given area doesn't come up, Google will also prompt them with the option to look farther away.

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