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NEWS: As Roe marks 50th anniversary, advocates push farther
‘We Need to Dream Bigger’: As Roe v. Wade Marks 50th Anniversary, Advocates Push Further
USA Today, January 19, 2023
Each year since 1973, abortion rights activists have gathered on Jan. 22 for “Roe v. Wade Day” to celebrate the Supreme Court decision that granted a constitutional right to abortion. But now, 50 years after the decision, Roe v. Wade Day will be different: Sunday will also mark the first anniversary of Roe since the ruling was overturned. As protesters once again gather nationwide in support of reproductive rights, abortion access advocates say instead of celebration, there will likely be a mix of more painful emotions: anger, fear, uncertainty, mourning. Still, galvanized by a surge in organizing energy after last year’s ruling, they said the day marks a new year of possibility for reproductive rights and an opportunity to reimagine abortion access from the ground up in a post-Roe world. “Reproductive freedom has always been bigger than Roe,” said Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March, organizer of the nationwide march in support of abortion access, dubbed “Bigger Than Roe.” She added: “Now we need to dream bigger.” For many, that vision involves efforts in state courts and legislatures, as well as grassroots aid like abortion funds. Meanwhile, anti-abortion protesters will gather Friday at the annual March for Life days before the 50th anniversary of Roe with the theme “Next Steps: Marching in a Post-Roe America.” Newly emboldened anti-abortion demonstrators also plan to protest at pharmacies next month, expressing their objection to the FDA allowing the sale of abortion pills at these retailers – in states where they are legal. Abortion rights activists have denounced such plans as an egregious breach of customers’ and pharmacists’ safety…Danika Severino Wynn, a midwife and vice president of abortion access at Planned Parenthood, called last year’s Roe v. Wade Day “a bittersweet anniversary,” adding advocates were “already in prep mode because we had a strong feeling of what was to come…But we will be commemorating it regardless as a sign of our plan to keep marching forward and fighting for what was taken away.” A surge in organizing on both sides of abortion debate: Despite the Dobbs decision, advocates said recent wins for increased abortion access, including the FDA green light for pharmacies to provide abortion pills, a Department of Justice decision to allow USPS to deliver the pills and challenges to state abortion bans, offer hope.
FDA Defends Abortion Pill Approval in Response to Texas Lawsuit
Bloomberg Law, January 18, 2023
A Texas judge should reject an attempt by abortion opponents to halt access to a pill that induces abortions, the FDA said in response to a lawsuit challenging the agency’s decades-old approval of the drug. An order granting the motion from conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom to stop the distribution of mifepristone would improperly undo a “longstanding scientific determination based on speculative allegations of harm,” attorneys for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration wrote in a Jan. 13 court filing. They added that a decision in favor of ADF would also “upend the status quo and the reliance interests of patients and doctors who depend on mifepristone, as well as businesses involved with mifepristone distribution.” The Biden administration’s response comes as it seeks to maintain abortion access after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Legal observers have said that ADF’s challenge, which sits before a Trump-appointed Texas judge, poses the greatest legal threat in years to access to abortion pills in America. ADF, known for Supreme Court victories such as its protection of a Christian baker who refused to make a wedding cake for an LGBTQ couple, argued in its November legal filing against the FDA that the agency used accelerated approval regulations to improperly characterize pregnancy as an illness. The provisions are supposed to apply to drugs that “are intended to treat serious or life-threatening illnesses” and provide a substantial benefit over existing treatments. But a 2008 Government Accountability Office report on the FDA’s approval and oversight of mifepristone, known by the brand name Mifeprex, found that the agency properly used its Subpart H authority to impose dispensing restrictions on the abortion pill to defend its safety, including that only authorized prescribers dispense the drug with informed patient consent. The GAO also supported the FDA’s argument that “the termination of an unwanted pregnancy is a serious condition, and that the drug provided a meaningful therapeutic benefit over existing therapies by allowing patients to avoid the procedure required with surgical termination of pregnancy.” Danco Laboratories, the brand-name manufacturer of mifepristone, filed a motion on Jan. 13 to intervene in ADF’s lawsuit. The company argued that a decision in favor of ADF means “Danco will be deprived of the federal agency approval that has guaranteed public access to Mifeprex for more than two decades.”
Democrats Who Flipped Statehouses in 2022 Are Prioritizing Abortion Access in 2023
The 19th, January 19, 2023
Democrats made big gains in key states in the 2022 midterms thanks to an electorate galvanized by abortion. Now, newly energized lawmakers in two of those states, Minnesota and Michigan, are putting their majorities to work to solidify access to abortion and reproductive care. For years, divided government in the two battleground states barred Democrats from pursuing many of their policy priorities, including fortifying abortion rights. But Democrats secured complete control of state government in Michigan and Minnesota in the 2022 midterms after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, reelecting Democratic governors while flipping control of chambers long held by Republicans. In both states, bills bolstering abortion access are at the top of their legislative agendas. “Thanks to our historic victories last cycle, the new Democratic trifectas in states like Minnesota and Michigan are taking action on the issues that matter most to Americans,” Gabrielle Chew, a spokesperson for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said in a statement. For Tim Stanley, executive director of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota Action Fund, the results of the midterms represent a culmination of years of tireless work by advocates and a significant shift within the Democratic Party. Michigan hasn’t had a Democratic trifecta since the 1980s. Minnesota Democrats have had control of state government in this century, but Stanley noted that the 2023 legislative session marks the first time that the legislature has been controlled by Democratic lawmakers who largely support abortion rights. “When we had the 2012 election that brought us the 2013 trifecta, it was Democratic, and it passed marriage equality, which was a landmark achievement in and of itself,” he said. “But it was done with, at that point, an anti-choice majority in the House of Representatives.” Minnesota Democrats prioritized the Protect Reproductive Options, or PRO Act, as the first bill introduced in both chambers of the legislature this session. Lawmakers are now working toward a speedy passage of the bill, which would formally codify the right to abortion — currently protected up to fetal viability by a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling — and other reproductive health care under state law. “For the first time ever, abortion is the centerpiece of a legislative agenda. We’re House File 1 — the honor and the distinction that goes with being House File 1 just can’t be overstated,” Stanley said.
New York City Now Providing Free Abortion Pills
CBS News, January 18, 2022
New York City residents can now get abortion pills free of charge. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Wednesday was set to begin dispensing the pills, which work as an alternative to surgical abortions, at a health clinic in the Bronx. Additional clinics in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens will also provide free abortion drugs by year-end, according to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The move is part of his “New York City Women’s Health Agenda,” which aims to make the city’s health care offerings more inclusive of women and girls. “For too long, health and health care has been centered around men. If men had periods, pap smears and menopause, they would get a paid vacation. And if men could get pregnant, we wouldn’t see Congress trying to pass laws restricting abortion,” Adams said in a press conference on Tuesday. 1 in 3 women of reproductive age now live over an hour away from an abortion clinic, study finds. Anti-abortion pregnancy centers see chance to grow in wake of Supreme Court’s ruling. The abortion pill, considered a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy in women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant, refers to two different medications taken in succession: mifepristone and misoprostol. So-called medication abortions now account for over half of all abortions in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute. The Food and Drug Administration earlier this month said it would allow pharmacies to dispense mifepristone to patients with a prescription for the drug. The Justice Department also recently gave the green light to the U.S. Postal Service to continue delivering abortion medication by mail, including, notably, in states that have passed restrictions on abortion services since the Supreme Court last year stuck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Previously, mifepristone could only be prescribed by some mail-order pharmacies and certified physicians, which experts said had created barriers to access. Misoprostol is also used to treat stomach ulcers and is more easily accessible from pharmacies than mifepristone. Anti-abortion groups are attempting to restrict legal access to abortion pills. Conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom in November filed a lawsuit in Texas challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill. In 2020, the median cost for a medication abortion was $560, according to a recent study.
Report: Mothers in States With Abortion Bans Nearly 3 Times More Likely to Die
Axios, January 19, 2023
Women in states with abortion bans are nearly three times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or soon after giving birth, according to a report from the Gender Equity Policy Institute shared first with Axios. The big picture: The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, and government officials and health experts are concerned that conditions will worsen now that a federal right to abortion has been struck down. The report authors wrote that “people in banned and restrictive states have worse outcomes than their counterparts in supportive states,” adding that anti-abortion states “are less likely to enact policies, like paid parental leave, which have been shown to improve outcomes for new parents and babies.” These conditions, the report says are “more precarious” for the six in 10 women (59%) live in states that “ban or restrict abortion care and other reproductive health care.” Details: The Gender Equity Policy Institute divided states into three groups — supportive of abortion access, restrictive and banned — and compared data on reproductive health outcomes between 2015 and 2021. 29 states were in the “banned” and “restrictive categories” and 21 states and the District of Columbia were in the “supportive” category. By the numbers: The report found that maternal mortality rates in states with bans was “significantly higher” than in supportive states. In 2018, the maternal mortality rate in banned states was nearly two times higher than in supportive states, by 2021, it was 2.4 times higher. Maternal mortality weighed heaviest on women of color: Native American women’s maternal mortality rates were 4.5 times higher than those of white women and Black women’s rates were 2.6 times the rate of white women. Women in states with abortion bans are nearly three times more likely to die during pregnancy, childbirth or soon after giving birth, according to a report from the Gender Equity Policy Institute shared first with Axios. The big picture: The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, and government officials and health experts are concerned that conditions will worsen now that a federal right to abortion has been struck down. The report authors wrote that “people in banned and restrictive states have worse outcomes than their counterparts in supportive states,” adding that anti-abortion states “are less likely to enact policies, like paid parental leave, which have been shown to improve outcomes for new parents and babies.”
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👏🏿 👏🏾 👏🏽 👏🏻 We're pleased to learn @VP Kamala Harris will speak in Florida to commemorate what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We stand with the Biden-Harris administration in their commitment to protecting abortion rights.https://t.co/mEkjvN85Bz— National Partnership (@NPWF) January 18, 2023
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.