NEWS: Biden skewers ‘extreme abortion bans’ in State of the Union address

| Feb 9, 2023

Biden Calls Out Abortion By Name and Skewers ‘Extreme’ Bans in State of the Union Address

The 19th, February 8, 2023

President Joe Biden used the word “abortion” — one he has rarely uttered in speeches —in his brief remarks on the issue in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. He again called on federal lawmakers to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade and slammed “extreme” abortion bans. It was Biden’s first State of the Union address since the Supreme Court ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion protections in its June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. “The vice president and I are doing everything we can to protect access to reproductive health care and safeguard patient privacy. But already, more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans,” he said. “Make no mistake about it: If Congress passes a national abortion ban, I will veto it.” Biden has experienced a significant evolution in his views on abortion over his 50 years in politics, from voting for an amendment that would have allowed states to invalidate Roe v. Wade in the early 1980s to now forcefully rebuking its overturn. Unlike in his remarks to joint sessions of Congress in 2021 and 2022, the president used the word “abortion” twice in his speech. Though Biden said in his speech that Congress “must restore the right the Supreme Court took away last year and codify Roe v. Wade,” the chances of passing any legislation through the divided Congress are near zero. But many advocates argue that Roe was never sufficient to begin with — and they want the Biden administration and other policymakers to go even further in aggressively shoring up not just the legal right to abortion but the ability of patients, particularly low-income ones, to access to the procedure. “Restoring those protections are not enough to solve the escalating abortion access crisis that we are facing and, honestly, have faced for many decades,” Morgan Hopkins, executive director of abortion advocacy group All Above All, said ahead of the speech. “We want to hear some concrete and bigger, bolder solutions than just restoring Roe.” Both Hopkins and Rep. Lois of Frankel of Florida, a Democrat, said they hope Biden would explicitly link the loss of reproductive freedoms to economic security. The overturning of Roe v. Wade coincided with an ongoing caregiving crisis and skyrocketing costs of child care in the United States.

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Biden Administration Braces for Ruling That Could Ban Abortion Pills

Politico, February 9, 2023

Doctors and advocates are urging people to pre-order and stockpile abortion pills while they still can in the face of a looming court decision that could wipe out access to the drugs nationwide. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, could either strike down the FDA’s decades-old decision to approve mifepristone — the first of two pills used to end a pregnancy — or roll back more recent agency decisions making the pills available via telemedicine, mail delivery and pharmacy pickup. Eighteen states already have restrictions on the pills, many of them as part of near-total bans on abortion. But a ruling from Kacsmaryk — an appointee of former President Donald Trump — could either cut off access to the drugs in the mostly Democratic-led states where they remain legal or reinstate rules mandating that patients only be able to receive them in-person from a physician. Kacsmaryk previously worked for a conservative group, First Liberty Institute, that brought cases aimed at restricting abortion access. While the Biden administration plans to swiftly appeal any ruling against the pills — which could come any time after lawyers for both sides submit their briefs on Friday — advocates say they are not counting on federal leaders to take the sweeping actions they believe are needed to deal with the potential loss of the country’s most-used method of abortion. “We don’t hold our breath for government action,” said Elisa Wells, the founder of the organization Plan C that helps patients order the pills online. “We know that in the absence of political support and leadership, this is what we have to do. We have to provide for ourselves and our community.” Bracing for a decision that cuts off access to the drugs, abortion-rights supporters are giving patients and providers a crash course on a workaround that uses just the second pill in the two-pill regimen — misoprostol — and contemplating expanding clinic capacity should patients need to switch from pills to a surgical procedure. Advocates will also hold an “emergency mobilization” on Saturday near the Texas courthouse hearing the case on Saturday to draw more attention to it and pressure political leaders to act. Since anti-abortion medical groups sued the FDA in November, Planned Parenthood, Plan C, the Women’s March, the Center for Reproductive Rights and other advocacy groups have pleaded with government officials to do more to prepare for a potential ruling blocking the sale of the pills — holding briefings with lawmakers, governors, attorneys general and health leaders.

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Here’s What States Are Doing to Abortion Rights in 2023

ProPublica, February 8, 2023

For 50 years, Roe v. Wade shut down the biggest ambitions of the anti-abortion movement. Last summer, the Supreme Court overturned that decision, unleashing a flurry of abortion legislation across the nation…ProPublica reviewed proposals across the nation to see what trends are developing as state lawmakers began the first full legislative sessions since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health ruling in June. Going Beyond Abortion Bans: States that already outlawed abortion are looking to further limit access by introducing novel ways to hinder people from evading such bans. Twelve states currently enforce abortion bans in almost all circumstances, in most cases through trigger laws, which were passed while abortion was protected by the court but went into effect after Roe was overturned. “The next step is: Who’s helping people getting abortions and how do you regulate those organizations?” said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, a global research group that advocates for abortion access … Republican-Controlled Legislatures Look to Amp Up Restrictions: The aim is to pass increasingly restrictive laws until the goal of ending abortions nationwide is reached, anti-abortion advocates said … State Courts Take the Reins: Ultimate constitutional oversight of abortion law has moved from the U.S. Supreme Court to 50 state courts that are newly interpreting what rights are protected by state constitutions…Contemplating What Was Once Taboo: A common refrain of many anti-abortion advocates has always been that should Roe be overturned, they wouldn’t try to punish people who obtained abortions. They claimed the liability should fall on the provider. Recently, however, some officials have put proposals criminalizing abortion-seekers on the table. Blue States Shore Up Protections: For those who support abortion rights, the last six months have been disheartening as abortion became unavailable in 14 states, including two that have no clinics providing the procedure. But one bright spot is that there’s a “nationwide conversation about abortion like never before,” Smith, of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said.

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Google Targets Low-Income US Women With Ads for Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers, Study Shows

The Guardian, February 7, 2022

Low-income women in some cities are more likely than their wealthier counterparts to be targeted by Google ads promoting anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers when they search for abortion care, researchers at the Tech Transparency Project have found. The research builds on previous findings detailing how Google directs users searching for abortion services to so-called crisis centers – organizations that have been known to pose as abortion clinics in an attempt to steer women away from accessing abortion care. The researchers set up test accounts in three cities – Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix – for women of three different income groups suggested by Google: average or lower-income rate, moderately high-income rate and high-income rate. They then entered search terms like “abortion clinic near me” and “I want an abortion”. In Phoenix, 56% of the search ads shown to the test accounts representing low- to moderate-income women were for crisis centers, compared with 41% of those served to moderately high-income test accounts and 7% to high-income accounts. In Atlanta, 42% of ads shown to the lower-income group were for crisis pregnancy centers, compared with 18% for moderately high-income women and 29% for high-income women. In Arizona and Florida abortion is banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy. In Georgia, it is banned after six weeks, at which point many people do not know they are pregnant. “By pointing low-income women to [crisis pregnancy centers] more frequently than higher-income women in states with restrictive laws, Google may delay these women from finding an actual abortion clinic to get a legal and safe abortion,” says Katie Paul, the director of the Tech Transparency Project. “The time window is critical in some of these states,” she adds. Lower-income women are the group least likely to be able to travel for abortion care because traveling can cost thousands of dollars in lost work, transportation, babysitting and accommodation fees. “Lower-income women are being targeted, and they’re the ones that are going to suffer the most under these policies,” Paul says. The results were not the same in all cities. In Miami, researchers saw the inverse result: high-income women were more likely to get ads from crisis centers than lower-income women. The researchers say they cannot be certain why Miami diverged from the other cities but speculate that crisis pregnancy centers might more actively target low-income women in more restrictive states.

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It’s No Suprise the AMA Is Leaving Abortion Providers Twisting in the Wind

Rewire News Group, February 7, 2023

One week after the Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion last June, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an Indiana abortion provider, shared a particularly crushing story with local media: One of her patients that week was a 10-year-old girl who had been raped. The girl was unable to get an abortion in her home state of Ohio, where a six-week ban was then in effect (it has since been blocked in state court). She was forced to travel across state lines to Indiana, where Bernard provided her with care. Bernard was immediately attacked by conservative pundits and politicians who labeled the story a hoax. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who publicly questioned Bernard’s story multiple times, claimed his office hadn’t heard “a whisper” of any such crime. In Indiana, Attorney General Todd Rokita announced an investigation into Bernard, alleging she may not have reported the abortion in accordance with state law. But documents proved that she had, and a few weeks later, a man was arrested and charged in connection with the rape. Bernard told the truth. More importantly, she provided compassionate care to a child who needed help. Yet despite all the evidence backing her story, Rokita filed a formal complaint against her with the state’s medical licensing board, potentially jeopardizing her ability to practice medicine and sending a chilling message to other abortion providers. A doctor did her job and is being attacked for it. So where is the outrage from the rest of the medical community? Though fellow doctors have spoken out in Bernard’s defense and raised funds for her legal expenses and security needs, the only professional organizations that have issued statements or even acknowledged the case are the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Physicians for Reproductive Health. “It really speaks to where organizational loyalties lie,” said Dr. Katie McHugh, an Indiana-based OB-GYN, abortion provider, and board member of Physicians for Reproductive Health. “The American Medical Association and similar organizations should be rushing to the defense of and helping with emotional and financial support for any physician that is targeted in this way for doing their job. The fact that they haven’t flies in the face of everything that they’re saying about caring about safe access to abortion.”

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