NEWS: Abortion rights are at the forefront of midterm elections this November

by | Oct 20, 2022 | Repro Health Watch


Abortion Rights Are at the Forefront of Midterm Elections This November

Prism, October 19, 2022

The fate of abortion rights and abortion access will be determined this November at the state and local level during
midterm elections. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June of this year, most abortions have
banned in 14 states and are actively threatened in seven. Now, voters will directly influence the future of abortion
in five states, while local gubernatorial and judicial races across the country will similarly shape the makeup of
each state’s abortion access—either acting as stopgaps between the state and abortion bans or paving the way for
expanding an already staggering abortion desert. “It’s never been a more important time for voters to really make our
voices heard, and the time is now for candidates to have the boldest plans that they can have on abortion rights and
access,” said, interim executive director of campaigns and strategies at All* Above All. “It’s not
enough to say that you would restore protections or restore the right to abortion, especially if you were in a state
that has had restrictions for decades. We really need to see full, comprehensive policy platforms from all candidates
running for office.” All eyes will be on battleground states like Pennsylvania and Florida, where conservative
legislators have continuously threatened abortion rights. In Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled General Assembly has
repeatedly tried to pass an abortion ban. In July, they sidestepped Democratic and pro-abortion Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto
power by approving a constitutional amendment that would allow for a statewide abortion ban in the future. With Wolf’s
term ending this January 2023, voters will have to choose between two gubernatorial candidates with starkly different
positions on abortion access. “We have a really consequential midterm election here in Pennsylvania, and the potential
outcomes are pretty scary,” said Julie Zaebst, senior policy advocate for ACLU of Pennsylvania. “We’ve had an
anti-abortion majority in our state legislature for a long time. For many years, the only thing that stood between us
and abortion restrictions and bans in this state has been the governor’s veto.” According to Zaebst, if Pennsylvania
elects an anti-abortion governor on top of the existing anti-abortion majority, they could see access to abortion
vanish overnight as early as January. In addition to the gubernatorial race, voters will determine the fate of
nationwide abortion restrictions through the U.S. Senate race.

Read more

Covert Network Provides Pills for Thousands of Abortions in U.S. Post Roe

The Washington Post, October 18, 2022

Monica had never used Reddit before. But sitting at her desk one afternoon in July — at least 10 weeks into an
unwanted pregnancy in a state that had banned abortion — she didn’t know where else to turn. “I need advice I am not
prepared to have a child,” the 25-year-old wrote from her office, once everyone else had left for the day. She titled
her post, “PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!” Within hours, she got a private message from an anonymous Reddit user. If Monica sent
her address, the person promised, they would mail abortion pills “asap for free.” Monica didn’t know it at the time,
but her Reddit post connected her to a new facet of the battle for abortion access: the rise of a covert,
international network delivering tens of thousands of abortion pills in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in June
that struck down Roe v. Wade. The emerging network — fueled by the widespread availability of medication
abortion —
has made the illegal abortions of today simpler and safer than those of the pre-Roe era, remembered for its
alleys and coat hangers. Distinct from services that sell pills to patients on the internet, a growing army of
community-based distributors is reaching pregnant women through word of mouth or social media to supply pills for free
— though typically without the safeguards of medical oversight. “You’re truly [an] angel,” Monica wrote in a string of
messages reviewed by The Washington Post. “I think tonight will be the first night i will actually be able to sleep.”
This account of the illegal abortion movement that has grown quickly since the Supreme Court ruling is based on
interviews with 16 people with firsthand knowledge of the operation, and includes on-the-ground reporting in four U.S.
cities and Mexico. Many who spoke to The Post did so on the condition of anonymity to discuss activity that
potentially breaks multiple laws, such as practicing medicine without a license and providing abortions in states
where the procedure is banned. The Post was permitted to observe distributors handling pills in antiabortion states on
the added condition that their locations not be identified. Those interviewed described a pipeline that typically
begins in Mexico, where activist suppliers funded largely by private donors secure pills for free as in-kind donations
or from international pharmacies for as little as $1.50 a dose. U.S. volunteers then receive the pills through the
mail — often relying on legal experts to help minimize their risk — before distributing them to pregnant women in

Read more

First Look: Biden Backs Federal Fund for Abortion Support

Axios, October 20, 2022

President Biden would support a federal fund for people who need to take time off work and pay for childcare to
obtain an abortion, he said in an interview forum with NowThis that will air Sunday on social media. Why it matters:
It’s one of his strongest public comments in favor of federal support for those seeking abortion since the Supreme
Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Details: Biden was responding to a question from Danielle Mathisen, a
26-year-old medical resident, who noted that some companies have begun helping their workers pay for abortions and
asked whether Biden would support federal funding for the same services. “The answer is absolutely … I do support
that, and I’ve publicly urged companies to do that. I’ve urged them publicly as president of the United States saying,
‘This is what you should be doing,” he said. “I urge you to do it because there’s so many, and imagine the women who
need that kind of assistance, but have no money at all to be able to do this. None. How, how — what do they do? They
don’t have the option,” Biden said. Between the lines: The interview represents a strategic effort by the president to
communicate to young voters about various social issues ahead of the midterms. NowThis has a significant social media
presence, with over 80 million followers across its Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts. The
majority of its followers across TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat are under 35. The company was founded in 2012 as a
millennial-oriented video brand that focused on social change content and newsmaker interviews with mostly progressive
politicians. The company interviewed every major Democratic candidate for president last presidential cycle. What to
watch: The interview, which was taped on Tuesday, will debut Sunday across NowThis’ social media channels. It was part
of a wider forum moderated by NowThis correspondent Alejandro Alba. President Biden spoke with six young adults about
six key issues this election cycle, including abortion access, trans rights, criminal justice reform, gun safety,
economic insecurity, and climate injustice.

Read more

‘Am I a Felon?’ The Fall of Roe v. Wade Has Permanently Changed the Doctor-Patient

TIME, October 17, 2022

Winchester is just one of many doctors throughout the country struggling to navigate the complicated and rapidly
shifting legal landscape of abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with its decision in
Dobbs v.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization
. With abortion rights now left up to the states, physicians and other
providers are confused about what services they are legally allowed to provide, often forced to consult lawyers on
decisions they used to be able to make on their own, and scared for their patients’ lives…TIME spoke with more than a
dozen doctors, health care lawyers, and hospital ethics committee members in nine states, who all said their efforts
to interpret state laws are failing to clarify the chaos of conflicting, sometimes century-old or hastily written
laws. Those laws have created new regulations, reporting requirements, penalties, and definitions that many argue do
not take into account the complex and inherently dangerous reality of pregnancy. For a half-century, physicians have
provided abortions to treat a wide range of medical situations including hemorrhaging, miscarriages and even cancer.
Now 14 states ban or tightly restrict abortion, with at least 10 other laws tied up in court. Most provide only narrow
exceptions. The laws are often vague, and the few that try to spell out conditions that qualify for abortions do not
cover all possibilities. Doctors say they are being forced to navigate legal concepts they don’t have the training for
while being prohibited from using their own expertise to treat patients. Attorneys with little experience in
reproductive health care say they are likewise scrambling to understand complex medical situations and develop
procedures for ever-growing lists of complications, knowing their guidance could be challenged any time someone
disagrees with their interpretation of untested laws. Many warn the dynamic will permanently change the doctor-patient
relationship. While some physicians and lawyers have spoken out about this dynamic, many others are afraid to do so.
Some universities and hospitals have told their staff not to give interviews about abortion, while others have made it
clear they would rather their staff not speak publicly or have said they can only do so without identifying their
employer. Doctors and lawyers at major private and public institutions in multiple states told TIME they weren’t
comfortable speaking about their handling of abortion post-Roe, and many of those who did said they would
only do so
as private citizens, unaffiliated with their official positions.

Read more

What It’s Like Being an Abortion Doula in a State With Restrictive Laws

NPR, October 19, 2022

In the hectic days after Roe v. Wade was overturned, Ash Williams, an abortion doula, welcomed panicked
people into North Carolina’s abortion clinics. His job has become even more challenging after the state tightened its
abortion laws. In general, an abortion doula is a person who provides support to a patient, and the term is often used
to describe someone who gives guidance during labor. As an abortion doula, Williams provides physical, emotional or
financial help to people seeking to end a pregnancy. If he can, Williams does all three. “My goal is to get people the
best abortion they can have because I know that it is possible,” Williams said…Demanding gender-affirming care: For
years, North Carolina was an abortion safe haven, especially for people of color in bordering states with more
restrictive abortion policies. Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision, North Carolina was poised to become the nearest
provider of abortions to an additional 11.2 million women from surrounding states, under the most restrictive
scenario. That’s according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. But in August, U.S. District
Judge William Osteen lifted a three-year injunction, forcing North Carolinians to travel elsewhere for an abortion
after 20 weeks, or carry out a pregnancy against their will. Before Osteen’s ruling, people in North Carolina were
able to get an abortion before fetal viability — typically sometime between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. “The 20 week
ban came very unprovoked; there was no reason for it,” Williams said. “I really see it as an attack.” With the ban in
place, some abortion clinics in North Carolina refuse to treat people who are even 17 weeks pregnant. Now, Williams
refers patients later in gestation to clinics outside the state, including as far as Washington D.C. As a transgender
man, he intentionally provides gender-affirming care — for example, he insists hospital staff address his clients by
their correct names and pronouns. “Trans folks often have to travel [farther] to get a doctor to use their pronouns,”
Williams says. “I might be the only one asking, that’s a part of the care as well.” Time is an undue burden: In North
Carolina, various restrictions make it difficult to access abortion, including a mandatory 72-hour waiting period and
state counseling every pregnant person must undergo. This waiting period was implemented to lead to fewer abortions.
Williams said this is one of the longest waiting periods in the country. “Time is an undue burden. It costs more,”
Williams said.

Read more

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It


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.