State laws are taking away our freedom of choice and Roe vs. Wade is fragile. Our team fights to maintain and further our reproductive rights and freedoms.
Welcome to our Reproductive Justice Blog space. This is the place to learn more about this important topic and actions we can all take in the continuing battle to promote access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion for all women.
Team Leader: Salli Swartz
Contact: [email protected]
Anti-choice advocates are notorious for spreading disinformation designed to stigmatize and restrict access to abortion. In general, audiences should be wary of anti-choice activists using anecdotal, rather than scientific, evidence to support their claims. It’s also important to take their so-called scientific arguments with a grain of salt. If an argument sounds counterintuitive or wildly exaggerated, it’s probably not true. Read more to find out how to fight reproductive justice disinformation.
REPRESSION OF VOTING RIGHTS LINKED TO ANTI CHOICERS
Article in Ms Magazine
In the first four months of 2021, Republican lawmakers introduced over 360 bills to restrict voting rights and 536 bills to restrict abortion rights. (READ MORE).
From Ms Magazine
Last month, the Biden administration announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would undertake a review of longstanding restrictions on the medication mifepristone used for miscarriage and abortion care. The announcement followed an FDA decision in April to lift in-person dispensing requirements on mifepristone for the duration of the pandemic.
While many advocates celebrated these long-awaited and hard-fought-for achievements, others cautioned that lifting the FDA restrictions would not guarantee telemedicine abortion access for people in many states.
The reason is that 19 states require the clinician providing a medication abortion to be physically present when the medication is administered, thereby prohibiting the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion remotely. Even if the FDA restrictions were to be lifted, these state-level bans would still block telemedicine access to medication abortion in these states.
However, lifting federal restrictions on mifepristone is a key step toward challenging state telemedicine abortion bans. The FDA approved mifepristone for use in the U.S. in 2000, but due to intense anti-abortion pressure, the agency tightly restricted the medication under a drug safety program now called the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy or REMS.
Help support our struggle for legalizing abortion across the USA
Join us at a special webinar to discuss the status of abortion in the United States with NARAL on July 9 at 11 am EST/17h CET. Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88433625688
And join the Reproductive Justice Action Team: send Salli Swartz an email at [email protected]
ATTENTION ALL WOMEN: YOU CAN SUPPORT REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE BY SUPPORTING THE WOMEN’S HEALTH PROTECTION ACT-
READ BELOW AND SIGN ON!!
The Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) has been introduced in the Senate (as Bill S.1975) and the House (as Bill H.R. 3755). The WHPA’s purpose is to promote access to abortion and to permit health care professionals to provide abortion services without restrictions that single out abortion as compared to other medical procedures that are similar in terms of risk and complexity. Specifically, the WHPA protects the right to an abortion before fetal viability for any reason, and the right to an abortion after fetal viability if continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk to the patient’s life or health (as judged by the treating health care provider). The WHPA also prohibits a number of requirements and limitations that interfere with the provision of abortion services, such as:
- a requirement to perform medically unnecessary tests or procedures, or provide medically inaccurate information
- a limitation on prescribing or dispensing drugs (other than limitations generally applicable to the medical profession)
- a requirement about the infrastructure, equipment, or staffing of a facility providing abortion services that is not imposed on facilities providing medically comparable services
- a requirement for medically unnecessary in-person visits before the abortion
- a requirement that the patient disclose why she is seeking the abortion
- other requirements that single out abortion services – or the health care professionals who provide them – and impede access to those services.
The Findings and Purpose section of the WHPA explains how access to reproductive health care “has always been deficient in the United States for Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color,” and also how “abortion-specific restrictions are a tool of gender oppression.”
In 2021 we have seen states introduce huge numbers of anti-choice bills, many containing exactly the type of restrictions listed above. With this surge of anti-choice state legislation, as well as the upcoming Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it is more important than ever to have the right to abortion protected in a federal statute
Supporting the WHPA is consistent with this portion of the Democrats Abroad 2020 Platform: “Democrats Abroad is committed to protecting and advancing sexual and reproductive-health rights and justice in the United States. We believe unequivocally that every human being living in the United States should have access to quality, affordable sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including…safe and legal abortions…”
Bill status (as of June 20, 2021):
Senate: The bill has 47 cosponsors and is currently in committee (Committee on the Judiciary)
House: The bill has 182 cosponsors and is currently in committee (Committee on Energy and Commerce)
HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP
Contact your senators and representative:
I am writing to urge you to support [if to Senator: Bill S. 1975] [if to Representative: Bill H.R. 3755], the Women’s Health Protection Act. Our right to abortion services, and the ability of health care professionals to provide these vital services, is under attack from all angles. The Act would ensure that states cannot ban pre-viability abortions or impose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion services.
I believe that every person should have access to reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. I agree wholeheartedly with the Act’s remark that access to abortion, which is essential health care, is “central to people’s ability to participate equally in the economic and social life of the United States.” It is crucial that we have a federal law protecting this right against anti-choice efforts at the state level.
Thank you for your attention to this important health care issue.
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+ Pennsylvania House representatives introduce three anti-abortion bills, but Governor Tom Wolf (D-Pa.) is expected to veto any anti-abortion legislation. One piece of legislation called the “fetal remains bill” made waves on Twitter, because the bill requires pregnant individuals to provide funeral services for a miscarriage or an abortion. State Rep. Dan Frankel (D) criticized the bill in a statement:
+ On Wednesday June 3 , abortion rights advocates filed a lawsuit challenging Arkansas’s near total abortion ban. The new law would take place on July 28 and bans all abortions except to save the life of the mother. “Arkansas’ anti-abortion politicians know that Roe v. Wade and Casey is still the law of the land, but they passed this abortion ban anyway, which triggers a direct challenge to Roe,” said Meagan Burrows, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.
+ A federal court of appeals on Wednesday June 3 heard arguments in Tennessee anti-abortion case. The bill in question would require pregnant individuals to make two trips to the abortion clinic—one for counseling and the other for the abortion 48 hours later. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Bernard Freidman found the two-day waiting period could create logistical problems for abortion clinics and might force a woman to delay her abortion for weeks. Amber Katz, a Tennessee attorney, also made the argument that a large portion of women seeking abortions are low-income and two trips might become burdensome.
+ Texas joins the growing list of states that have expanded Medicaid postpartum coverage. The bill extends Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 6 months. But health experts suggest that is not enough time to address all the health-related complications that may arise in postpartum women. In April, Illinois became the first state to extend postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months.
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Click the link below for an informative article in The New Yorker explaining why the Supreme Court accepted to hear the case on the Mississippi anti abortion law.
UPDATE ON ROE vs WADE
This is the case that may slay Roe vs Wade
Court to weigh in on Mississippi abortion ban intended to challenge Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court on Monday set the stage for a major ruling next year on abortion – one that could upend the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the court ruled that the Constitution protects the right to have an abortion before a fetus becomes viable. The court granted review in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that (with limited exceptions) bars abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.
The decision to review the Mississippi law comes nearly a year after the court struck down a Louisiana law that required doctors who perform abortions to have the right to admit patients at a nearby hospital. In that case, five justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, relied on Casey in ruling that the Louisiana law imposed an undue burden on the right to obtain a pre-viability abortion. But the make-up of the Supreme Court has changed since the ruling in the Louisiana case last June: One of the justices in the majority, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a staunch supporter of abortion rights, died in September and was replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose personal opposition to abortion drew criticism from Democrats at her confirmation hearing.
When the Mississippi legislature passed the law at the heart of the case in 2018, Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the only licensed abortion provider in the state – went to court to challenge the law’s constitutionality and block the state from enforcing it. A federal district court agreed with the clinic, reasoning that the Supreme Court’s cases do not allow states to ban abortions before a fetus becomes viable, which occurs at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld that decision, rejecting Mississippi’s argument that the Supreme Court’s cases required the district court to determine instead whether the law creates a “substantial obstacle” for a person seeking an abortion before the fetus becomes viable. There is no substantial obstacle, the state suggested, because a patient could decide to have an abortion before reaching the 15th week. But the Mississippi law is not merely a restriction on the availability of pre-viability abortions, the court of appeals stressed; it is a ban on pre-viability abortions. The law prohibits all abortions after 15 weeks except in cases of health emergencies or fetal abnormalities.
The state went to the Supreme Court last summer, asking the justices to rule on whether all bans on pre-viability abortions are unconstitutional. The state also asked the justices to weigh in on two related questions: whether courts should consider a state’s interests – such as protecting the health of a mother – when reviewing the constitutionality of laws that restrict pre-viability abortions, and whether abortion providers have a legal right to challenge laws that ban or restrict abortions on behalf of their patients.
The clinic urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the dispute, stressing that the Supreme Court has long held that the Constitution protects the right to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus becomes viable. The court should deny review of the question whether abortion providers have a right to sue, the clinic added, because Mississippi “waived this challenge — it was not raised below and the State, in fact, conceded jurisdiction and does so again in its petition.”
The justices repeatedly rescheduled the case – that is, put off considering it at their private conference – before finally considering the state’s petition for review for the first time at their Jan. 8, 2021, conference. The justices then considered the petition 12 more times before announcing on Monday that they would take up the first question presented in the state’s petition: whether all pre-viability bans on elective abortions violate the Constitution.
The case will be heard in the fall, after the justices return from their summer recess. It joins New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, another high-profile case already on the court’s docket for next term, involving gun rights. Before they leave for their summer recess, the court could add a third hot-button issue to its plate for the 2021-22 term: They are likely to decide at one of their conferences in late June whether to review a challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy.
ANTI ABORTION ALERT ANTI ABORTION ALERT
The following is an edited excerpt from the Hill.
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up a dispute over a Mississippi law that bans virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, potentially setting the 6-3 conservative majority court on a collision course with the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
The move was announced in an unsigned order, with the justices indicating the dispute would be limited to the major issue of the constitutionality of pre-viability restrictions on elective abortions.
The case was brought on appeal by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R) after a federal appeals court sided with challengers to the state’s restriction.
The Supreme Court has undergone a dramatic conservative shift since last year when Mississippi first asked the justices to take up its appeal.
At least four justices must agree to hear a case for an appeal to be granted.
Abortion rights advocates expressed concern over Monday’s development.
“Alarm bells are ringing loudly about the threat to reproductive rights,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court just agreed to review an abortion ban that unquestionably violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent and is a test case to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
The Mississippi law is among hundreds of abortion restrictions that have been introduced recently in state legislatures across the country. In 2021 alone, more than 500 abortion restrictions, including nearly 150 abortion bans, were introduced in 46 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Of those, just over 60 measures have been enacted.
The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) hailed the Supreme Court’s move on Monday as a chance to give states more latitude.
“This is a landmark opportunity for the Supreme Court to recognize the right of states to protect unborn children from the horrors of painful late-term abortions,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.
Mississippi’s appeal comes after losing two rounds in the lower courts. In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit held that the state’s restriction placed an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy before viability.
“In an unbroken line dating to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases have established (and affirmed, and re-affirmed) a woman’s right to choose an abortion before viability,” reads the opinion of a three-judge panel. “States may regulate abortion procedures prior to viability so long as they do not impose an undue burden on the woman’s right, but they may not ban abortions.”
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