NEWS: Midterms will decide future of abortion access in these states

Repro Health Watch

October 6, 2022 | Health Care, Abortion, Reproductive Rights

 

The States Where the Midterm Will Directly Decide the Future of Abortion Access

Vox, October 3, 2022

Earlier this year, five people altered the landscape of reproductive rights in more than a dozen states across the country when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In November, millions of voters will weigh in, casting votes in dozens of races and ballot measures that will determine how restrictive their state can be. Ballot initiatives in three states could determine abortion access for millions of women and what kind of reproductive health care is available to them. Abortion has also become a key issue in races for governor and state attorneys general, who have direct control over their states’ abortion laws and how they are enforced. Democratic candidates for governor want to gain or retain veto power over Republican-controlled state legislatures that want to curb abortion rights. Elsewhere, Republicans want to use governorships to chart a path to further curb access to the procedure. And Democratic attorney general candidates have vowed not to enforce their states’ anti-abortion laws and protect access, while their Republican opponents want to see maximum enforcement. Here, we take a look at the eight states where abortion rights are most imminently at risk. This includes both deep red states and states with split political control where Republican candidates have articulated a desire to further restrict abortion, in several cases without any exceptions. Depending on the outcome of November’s elections, the outlook for abortion access in these states could be grim, limiting residents’ options and further stressing the resources of neighboring states where abortion remains legal. States with ballot initiatives: Alaska: Anti-abortion activists in Alaska want to amend their state’s constitution in a way that would allow future restrictions on abortion…Kentucky: Kentucky is considering amending the state constitution to say, “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”...Montana: Montana is set to consider the “Medical Care Requirements for Born-Alive Infants Measure.” It would declare that infants born alive at any stage of development are “legal persons” and would require that medical care be provided to them following induced labor, cesarean section, and attempted abortion. It would also set a $50,000 fine and a maximum 20-year prison sentence for violators. Where abortion is at stake up and down the ballot: Michigan…Arizona…Wisconson. Where Democratic governors have stood in the way of further abortion restrictions — so far: Kansas…Pennsylvania.

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66 Clinics Across 15 States have Stopped Offering Abortions Post-Roe

NPR, October 6, 2022

In the 100 days since Roe v. Wade was overturned, 66 clinics in more than a dozen states have stopped providing abortions, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy and research group. Of those 66 clinics, 40 still offer non-abortion services while 26 have shut their doors, the analysis found. Among them is Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Mississippi — the abortion clinic at the center of the Supreme Court case decided in June that dismantled Roe — which closed in early July with plans to move to New Mexico. As of Wednesday, abortions are almost entirely unavailable in 14 states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. And access is significantly limited in a 15th state, Georgia, where the procedure is allowed until the detection of fetal cardiac activity, which usually happens around six weeks of pregnancy. The 14 states were responsible for 125,780 abortions in 2020, according to Guttmacher’s analysis. And 41,620 abortions were performed in Georgia the same year. “Even before Roe was overturned, getting an abortion was difficult or outright impossible for many people, especially those who were already facing steep barriers to accessing health care, including people with low incomes, Black and Brown people, immigrants, young people, those with disabilities and rural populations,” said Rachel Jones, principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, in a statement. “These inequities are likely to worsen as clinic-based abortion care disappears in many states, many of them clustered in regions like the South.” The Biden administration — as part of its efforts to mitigate the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision — announced on Tuesday it is giving clinics that provide free and subsidized family planning services an additional $6 million. Providers in Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin will receive the funds. Since Roe was overturned in June, the Biden administration has used a federal law governing emergency medical care to challenge Idaho’s near-total abortion ban; warned pharmacists not to withhold prescription medications just because they can also be used to induce an abortion; and requested that mobile phone providers share information about their data retention and data privacy policies, among other efforts.

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Education Department Reinforces Title IX Protections for Abortion and Pregnancy

The 19th, October 4, 2022

The Biden-Harris administration issued fresh guidance Tuesday reinforcing the legal protections for pregnancy and abortion under Title IX as it recognizes the 100-day milestone since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The guidance for higher education institutions from the Department of Education, shared first with The 19th, reiterates the legal protections against discrimination against pregnancy — or the termination of a pregnancy — under Title IX. The fact sheet released by the department also reminds universities that they must treat pregnancy, childbirth and abortion “the same as any temporary disability” under the health insurance plans they offer to students and faculty. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris led a second meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access on Tuesday afternoon. In public remarks before the roundtable met privately, they reaffirmed their commitment to defending abortion rights and urged Americans to vote in November, saying it was necessary to allow Democrats to pass a federal law to protect abortion access. “It is important for everyone to know what is at stake,” Harris said. “To stop and reverse these attacks on women, we need to pass a national law. And so we need the American people to make their voices heard and take a stand on the rights of all women to exercise their choice to have access to reproductive health care.” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told the roundtable that he is “worried” over what he sees as “the chilling effect” of the ruling. “It’s clear: The Dobbs ruling has sown fear, confusion and distrust on our college campuses,” Cardona said, adding that his department is “fully committed” to enforcing the protections of Title IX. “Today, I want to be clear with college leaders in America: Access to contraception should not be in question,” Cardona continued. “Access to health care, including reproductive health care, is critical to the well-being and success of our nation’s students.” Biden and Harris also singled out the University of Idaho for its new policy of no longer providing birth control to students. Lawyers at the university advised the school not to give students contraceptive health care, citing the state’s strict ban on abortion and additional legal penalties for state employees who refer students for abortion care, The Washington Post reported.

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Post-'Roe' Abortion Bans Will Increase the Separation of Black and Brown Families

Rewire News Group, September 29, 2022

“If you’re so pro-life, why don’t you care about the 400,000 kids in foster care?” Jasmine Wali, a social worker based in California, noticed this pro-choice talking point that magnified anti-choice movement’s hypocrisy circulating in the liberal media that implicated her work after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Wali is the director of advocacy at JMacForFamilies, a nonprofit that provides political education for parents and children who have been impacted by the foster care or child welfare system, also known as the family policing system, and organizes them toward abolishing this system. She said asking anti-choice activists about the foster care system perpetuates an “inherent notion that overturning Roe v. Wade will lead to a spike in maltreatment, abuse, and neglect” of children of unwanted pregnancies. “There’s an inherent assumption that parents who are unable to access an abortion will go on and abuse their child,” Wali said…These assumptions are rooted in a lack of popular knowledge of the realities of the family policing system…Dorothy Roberts, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the author of Torn Apart, linked the punitive power of the prison and policing systems to the family regulation system in an episode of the podcast Truthout. “Even systems that are supposed to be protective, supportive, and caring, like child protective services, hospitals and medical centers, and schools, are a part of a carceral apparatus that uses a benevolent narrative in order to expand state surveillance and policing and punishment of the most marginalized communities,” Roberts said in the episode “The End of ‘Roe’ Will Lead to More Family Separation and Child Disappearance.”...The family policing system is rife with racial bias and is used as a tool of abuse to target families who, if they were a racial, gender, class, or ability minority, would not be on their radar.…In this post-Roe world, abortion bans will force more people into the family policing system…“We know from decades of research that the same risks factors for being unable to access an abortion are the same risk factors for being investigated and reported to child protection authorities,” Wali said. “People who are disproportionately impacted by the family regulation system and lack of access to abortion don’t have insurance, they work in inflexible, low wage labor … there’s an overlap there.” Not only does a lack of access to abortion care and entanglement in the family policing system stem from the same risk factors, banning and restricting abortion has a causal link with the poverty that yields the state-sanctioned separation of Black and Indigenous families.

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Planned Parenthood Mobile Clinic Will Take Abortion to Red-State Borders

NPR, October 3, 2022

With a growing number of patients in states that now prohibit abortion traveling for the procedure, Planned Parenthood says it will soon open its first mobile abortion clinic in the country, in southern Illinois. "Our goal is to reduce the hundreds of miles that people are having to travel now in order to access care...and meet them where they are," said Yamelsie Rodriguez, President of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said in an interview with NPR. The mobile clinic will begin offering consultations and dispensing abortion pills later this year. It will operate within Illinois, where abortion remains legal, but will be able to travel closer to neighboring states' borders, reducing the distance many patients travel for the procedure. "It gives us a lot of flexibility about where to be," Rodriguez said. Illinois has become a hub for people from other parts of the Midwest and South who've become unable to get abortions in their home states as a result of this summer's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Anticipating that possibility, Planned Parenthood opened a large clinic in 2019 in Fairview Heights, Illinois, just across the state line from St. Louis. Missouri had some of the nation's strictest abortion laws even before the court released the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, and state officials moved almost immediately to implement abortion bans in response to it. The Fairview Heights clinic is projected to receive about 14,000 patients traveling from across the region each year, an increase that "is materializing much, much faster than we anticipated," Rodriguez said. "We just need more access points." The mobile facility – set up inside of an RV – will include a small waiting area, laboratory, and two exam rooms. It initially will provide medication abortion up to 11 weeks gestation, officials said. It eventually will offer surgical abortions, likely beginning sometime next year. Patients seeing healthcare providers at the mobile clinic will follow the same protocol as those visiting a permanent Planned Parenthood facility, said to Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood in the region. They take mifepristone - the first in a two-drug protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration - on-site. They're offered counseling about the other drug, misoprostol, which is taken later.

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Note: The information contained in this publication reflects media coverage of women's health issues and does not necessarily reflect the views of the National Partnership for Women & Families.

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